Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Reporters' Notebooks

Mike Knobler, Jeff D'Alessio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: This piece breaking down the Atlantic Coast Conference is so involved it took two people to write and countless others to edit (registration).

Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Louisville's loss has suddenly given hope to 1-3 Pittsburgh, which opens Big East play Friday at Rutgers.

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: A rare — actually, this is probably historic — glimpse into the mind of a Harris Poll voter (registration).

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Back by popular demand, the Hlist, guaranteed to be gathered from sources not based in pink locker rooms (subscription, story is in comments tab).

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The Hlist

Mike Hlas
Cedar Rapids Gazette

First downs
1. Three-for-all: ABC, saddled with the dreary Iowa-Ohio State game, left three Big Ten goodies for ESPN.

Penn State scored on a 36-yard pass with 51 seconds left to beat Northwestern, 34-29. Wisconsin scored on a 4-yard quarterback draw with 24 seconds left to beat Michigan, 23-20.

Minnesota scored a TD and a 2-point conversion with 1:34 left to tie Purdue, then won in double-overtime, 42-35.

Minnesota’s tying 2-point play was an option keeper by quarterback Bryan Cupito, not regarded as quick.

"You know what I said in the huddle?" Cupito said. "I said,'You guys aren’t going to believe what they just called.'

"Hey, it worked."

2. Bull-dozed: Louisville had been ranked ninth and seemed a decent bet to go unbeaten in the regular season. Then it went to South Florida and got trampled by the Bulls, 45-14.

"That felt so good, I almost passed out," Bulls running back Andre Hall said.

"This is so phenomenal," USF president Judy Genshaft said. 'It puts USF on the map, nationally."

Speaking of maps, South Florida is located in Tampa, on central Florida’s west coast. Yes, the university has a department of geography.

3. Tender Tech: Fears of Texas Tech scoring 100 points against I-AA Indiana State were quelled when Tech Coach Mike Leach tucked it in after his team led 56-7 early in the third quarter and won by "just" 63-7. Tech beat I-AA Sam Houston State the week before, 80-21.

"Look for Texas Tech to jump to No. 1 in this week’s Division I-AA rankings," wrote Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times.

4. Pops crackles: South Carolina’s Tim Frisby, a 40-year-old walk-on wide receiver at South Carolina, caught a 9-yard pass late in the Gamecocks’ 45-20 win over Troy.

"I had to make a catch; it was just something I had to do," Frisby said.

Frisby is a former U.S. Army Ranger who served in the first Persian Gulf war and in Kosovo. He is a broadcast journalism major and father of six. He earned his spot on the Gamecocks last fall.

"We got Pops a catch for the record book," South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier said.

"Hopefully, I’d like to get a touchdown," Frisby said. "We’ll see how it goes."

Fumbles
1. Ill-inois: You say your favorite team has problems? Consider Illinois, a 61-14 loser at home to Michigan State. The Spartans racked up 705 yards, with 30 plays of 10 or more yards.

"It was just awful, awful. Pathetic," said Illinois linebacker J Leman.

"You can’t go to the waiver wire," Fighting Illini Coach Ron Zook said. "We’ll look at (changes), but we’re not going to stick it in the hopper yet"

The day’s loudest cheers went to the Illini men’s basketball team when it was introduced before the fourth quarter. Could there be a more welcome guest for Iowa at Kinnick Stadium this week?

2. Unholy Temple: You say Illinois has problems? Consider Temple, a 19-16 home loser to Western Michigan.

The Owls, 0-4 this season and 30-130 since 1991, were booted from the Big East in football because they failed to meet attendance requirements.

The "crowd" at 68,532-seat Lincoln Financial Field Saturday was announced as 8,922, though Associated Press said maybe 1,500 fans were in the stands at kickoff.

Temple’s Adam Fichter returned an interception 21 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter, but was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct when he spiked the ball after the play.

That seems to be going around.

3. Exit, Poll: The latest BCS abomination is a poll it commissioned from Harris Interactive, Inc., to be used in its formula for selecting teams for its bowls. Associated Press opted out of the BCS cabal earlier this year.

Harris Poll voters include former Iowa athletics director Bump Elliott and Hawkeyes broadcaster Ed Podolak.

Jason Rash withdrew as a panelist after it was revealed that his only connection to college football was his father-in-law, Troy University head football coach Larry Blakeney. Rash is the president of a masonry company in Atlanta.

"I was disappointed," Rash said. "I would have taken it seriously and done a good job at it. Larry and I have had a lot of in-depth discussions about football and I watch a lot of games."

Idaho received five points in the first Harris Poll after it lost 24-0 at home to Hawaii. Idaho is 0-4.

4. Flat and flatter: While en route to its Division III game at Westfield State, one of Fitchburg State’s two team buses had a flat tire on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

But the trip turned out fine when Fitchburg scored in the third overtime for a 6-0 win. The game featured 16 punts and five missed field goals.

Westfield State isn’t new to such monotony. In 1989, it beat UMass-Dartmouth, 3-0, in triple-overtime.

The Hlist vows never to attend a Westfield State game.

From the papers
"To all Troy Smith fans, see The Emperor's New Clothes. Don’t be fooled by running ability that 'looks' like an advantage. The naked truth is, he is an athlete playing QB." — Joseph Beckner of Worthington, Ohio, one of seven letter-writers critical of Ohio State in Sunday’s Columbus Dispatch.

The letters were written before Ohio State’s 31-6 win over Iowa. Smith rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 191 yards and two TDs.

Final word
"What are you going to tell me, we should listen to fantasy people? I don’t care about their opinions." — CBS commentator Phil Simms. That was a response to broadcast partner Jim Nantz noting that fantasy football gurus ranked New England’s Deion Branch only 25th or 30th among NFL receivers.

mike.hlas@gazettecommunications.com