Monday, October 31, 2005

Class No Longer in Session at Lincoln

That Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry that everybody said had lost all pizazz? Well, thanks to Nebraska coach Bill Callahan, the hatred is back and it's better than ever. Callahan denies it, but he clearly makes a throat-slash gesture toward a referee minutes after Oklahoma's final touchdown. Oklahoma fans are in a lather over this, even though the gesture is not directed at the Sooners. To see the video, you can click here. To see stills courtesy of the Lincoln Star-Journal, click here. The Big 12 Conference has reviewed the tape and action against Callahan is expected. One curious note: In eight games, Nebraska opponents have been called for holding only once.

If Crewcut Loses, N.D. Wins in Long Run

Now that Crewcut Charlie Weis has that fat new contract and won't be going anywhere until 2015 (yea, right), it's time to turn to a more weighty matter, namely Crewcut's body fat. A new site,, has been established to help the man become less of one. "The overall health of our program is excellent but the health of our coach is not so good." The site continues: The "next time you see Coach W. grabbing a Whopper at the BK in The Huddle, why not steer him over to the LaFortune Center Subway counter." Already, countless brave souls (including The Wizard at No. 53) have signed an online petition to encourage the man who shaped up Notre Dame football to shape up himself. Even Tyrone Willingham has signed the petition (No. 68), with some advice for Crewcut: "They love you now, Charlie. But trust me, it doesn't last."

Halloween Special: This Is Pretty Scary ...

It's a story never seems to die, but since everybody seems to be in the business of rankings these days, we bring you the top four teams according to Collegiate Memorials, a Georgia-based company that manufactures college-themed caskets for die-heard fans. Oklahoma currently is No. 1 in sales, followed by Alabama, Kentucky and Auburn. Seems like fans are just dying to get one of these $4,595 beauts, with Collegiate Memorials designing caskets for 46 schools.

... and This Is Scary, Too

If you were ushered in to pick America's newest gazillionaire out of a lineup, who would you choose? The guy on the right? You are a winner! Notre Dame announced Saturday that Crewcut Charlie Weis had signed a 10-year extension, despite losing two of his first seven games. That was quick. Didn't Tyrone Willingham start 8-0? Where was his 10-year extension? Hmmm. Only a week ago, word leaked that NFL general managers were sniffing around South Bend. And despite what those in the shadows of the South Bend are saying, this was more about closing a loophole in Crewcut's original deal that had a buyout of only $1.5 million. Does anybody with common sense really think Weis will be Notre Dame coach in 2015? Only once voice seems to understand what is going on (scroll down to see item).

Columnists' Corner

Pete Thamel, New York Times: How does national champion UCLA sound to you? The Bruins have positioned themselves for a run at all the marbles (registration).

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: College football is perhaps the only sport in which emotion, or lack thereof, drives the engine.

Art Thiel, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Who turned in Rick Neuheisel to the NCAA? We still don't know the answer.

Reporters' Notebooks

Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger: Under warden Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech has become a team that's hard to root for.

Chris Low, Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy Sanders' days — maybe hours — could be numbered.

John Henderson, Denver Post: USC's Matt Leinart might be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, but he could be the second-best quarterback in the Pac-10.

Zack McMillin, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Tommy Tuberville should be flagged for his outburst last week against ESPN (registration).

Keith Whitmire, Dallas Morning News: Might an 8-3 Oklahoma be more attractive to the Cotton Bowl than say, a 9-2 Texas Tech? (registration).

Do We Take Tips? You Betcha!

If you come across a newsy, humorous or offbeat item that you think would be of interest, do not hesitate to let us know. Send an email with a URL, photo, video — you name it — to jayzuma (at) gmail (dot) com.

Week 10

Again, the early odds are posted at A big week, starting with Tuesday night's Alabama Birmingham-Memphis game and finishing with Saturday night's Stanford-USC matchup. Five glorious days of college football!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's Now a Game Devoid of Personalities

A new generation of coaches appears to be following a strait-laced, politically proper path to success. They almost never wink and smile at the camera the way Barry Switzer did after Oklahoma "hung half a hundred on 'em," or offer philosophical insights as did the late Woody Hayes, left, who once explained Ohio State's reaction to losing with: "There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

A Costly Loss of Style Points for Texas

Make no mistake. The Big 12 basement-dwelling Cowboys of Oklahoma State scared the bejeebers out of Texas, racing to a 28-9 lead. But even Fortune 500 millionaire and Oklahoma State alumnus T. Boone Pickens had to be making a phone call to check out the halftime line (or had one of his associates do it for him). How do you think he got all those chips? Texas recovered, covered their behinds and covered the second-half line, but this will cost them style points, the ones that factor into the BCS. Can you say Virginia Tech? And it also ended the Longhorns' string of covering the spread, so if you were riding that gravy train, we feel your pain (registration).

Wizard Is Humbled Again

The Wizard is staggered once again and finishes 1-5-1. For the first time in recorded history, his record has dropped below .500. The heck with moving into that double-wide in the south county. His new residence will be under the freeway overpass. He stands 29-32-2 (47.5%). His winner was Ohio. His losers were Nebraska, Toledo, UCLA, TCU and Hawaii. He got a push with Georgia.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

If They Lose, It Would Just Plane Stink

Sorry Virginia Tech, the matter already has been decided. The Hokies can win the rest of their games, but Texas is playing in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4. Longhorn fans are so confident that they have booked every seat on every Southwest Airlines flight between Austin and the four L.A.-area airports for Jan. 3. And every return flight on Jan. 5 is booked (registration).

Recruiting Game Has Gone High Text

There are limits imposed by the NCAA on the number of times a coach can call or visit a prospect, but access through e-mail, instant messaging and text messaging is virtually unfettered. No wonder coaches are spending more time in front of computers. A survey found that 87% youths between the ages of 12 and 17 use the Internet. But the current rage is using a cellphone to text message recruits. USC's Pete Carroll said sending a text message on his cellphone was "my latest accomplishment." (some registration).

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Wizard and Week 9

His confidence is shaken, but the man is determined not to let last week's disastrous 1-6 record beat him again. So he started the week by stocking up on Wheaties, doubling his consumption of vitamins and maintaining a strict diet of Power Bars and chocolate shakes. All this while spending countless hours breaking down games, emerging only twice on the west balcony to wave to admirers who had gathered below. His Magnificent Seven can be found by clicking on the comments label.

USC Bands Together Against Fresno State

Postings on Fresno State's bark board say USC officials will limit the number of Bulldog band members to 60 for the Nov. 19 game between the teams at the Coliseum (the band has 250-plus members). Predictably, Trojan fans have spat back, so the matter has digressed into the usual juvenile board banter that is commonplace on scout and rivals. But considering the capacity of the Coliseum (92,000-plus), it does seem a tad unneighborly of the Trojans. And thanks to MDG for getting a jump on this.

Who Will Win This Pissing Match?

To answer the question, it's the guy with the bigger microphone. In this case, ESPN newsreader Dan Patrick, who must have been having a bad hair day or something. Patrick was in a dither over comments made by Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who said that the network's "College GameDay" wields too much influence. Patrick, speaking from his throne at the "worldwide leader," warned Tuberville, "You're biting the hand that feeds. ESPN does more for college football than any other entity." After the recorded interview with Tuberville was broadcast, Patrick went off on the coach. "He said ... that he wasn't going to have anything to do with ESPN. I tell you, I don't have much to do with him anymore."

World's Greatest Outdoor Cocktail Party

It's Georgia and Florida in Jacksonville. Need we say more? Law enforcement officials throughout the region are on the highest alert now that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published favorite Cocktail Party recipes. For example: Coca-Cola (1 teaspoon) Jack Daniels Whiskey (4-6 cups) ... stir slightly, your done! We dare Emeril, or better yet, Rachael Ray, to come up with something better (registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Dave Reardon, Honolulu Star-Bulletin: It has been a string of Halawa horrors that began in 1995 for Fresno State, when Hawaii clipped the Bulldogs, 42-37.

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: The Big Ten will not take any action regarding officiating during Iowa's overtime loss to Michigan.

Jim Spadafore, Detroit News: Central Michigan has had one winning season in 10 years. Saturday, the Chippewas can move into a tie in the Mid-American Conference's West Division.

Keith Whitmire, Dallas Morning News: It used to be a battle of titans. Now Nebraska and Oklahoma are battling to become bowl eligible (registration).

Ron Morris, The State (Columbia): Forty years ago, Steve Spurrier was a hotshot recruit in Johnson City. Now the Tennessee native is the Volunteers' worst nightmare.

Crystal Ball

Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Something called Tereshinski is Georgia's quarterback. Take Florida and give the points (registration).

Double D, Boston Herald: Here's another vote for the Gators, whose fans will have reason to celebrate at the "World's Biggest Outdoor Cocktail Party."

Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News: Who does he like in the Georgia-Florida game? You guessed it, Georgia.

Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal: Halloween is just around the corner and Nevada has to play Boise State on that blue turf, but don't let that scare you.

Lenn Robbins, New York Post: After a strong 4-1 last week, he's jumping on the Minnesota bandwagon this week (registration).

Brian Bennett, Louisville Courier-Journal: Hopefully no relation to Bill Bennett, a notorious bad gambler. Besides, aren't they known for betting horses in Kentucky?

Columnists' Corner

Bud Withers, Seattle Times: Thirty-eight days ago, Arizona State walloped Northwestern, 52-21. Now the Sun Devils have hit rock bottom and the Wildcats are in position to win the Big Ten.

Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News: Northwestern, that pest of a team, is about to take out Michigan, 64-61.

Jake Curtis, San Francisco Chronicle: Welcome to the Drew Carries Show, starring the best running back in L.A. not named Bush.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Former SEC coaches Pat Dye, Gene Stallings and Jackie Sherrill assess what's behind Florida's offensive struggles.

John Henderson, Denver Post: New Mexico State's Hal Mumme is in the center of a controversy again, and it doesn't involve the NCAA.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miami Vice or Miami Twice for Bunting?

He's back, and talented Flash animator Grey Blackwell of the Raleigh News & Observer has a new target: North Carolina coach John Bunting, who suddenly is all the rage on the Wizard. Blackwell's animation comes just in time for the Tar Heels' game against Miami, a team Bunting's troops beat last season, 31-28. Can Bunting beat Miami Twice? Earlier, Blackwell took a swipe North Carolina State's Chuck Amato. A link to that animation is available by clicking here (registration required, but it's worth it).

Give Him Candy or Face a Five Count

Halloween is just around the corner and Jeff D'Alessio of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution knows there is a kid in all of us. So he asked four coaches what their favorite costume was for trick or treating. North Carolina's John Bunting came flying off the top rope for this one, saying he used to dress up like former WWF star King Kong Bundy, the Master of the Five Count. Bunting's Halloween name? King Kong Bunting, of course (registration).

Columnists' Corner

Dave Dye, Detroit News: OK, let's get straight to the facts regarding Michigan State. Up, then down. What kind of a beast are we dealing with?

David Climer, Nashville Tennessean: You thought it was a kinder, gentler Steve Spurrier. Ha! He was just looking for Volunteers.

Chuck Culpepper, Newsday: How about that upcoming SEC title game, pitting unbeaten No. 4 Georgia against unbeaten No. 5 Alabama with neither invited to the Rose Bowl?

John Gambadoro, Arizona Republic: The wheels have fallen off Arizona State's bandwagon and it might be time for Dirk Koetter to take the next train out of Tempe.

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: Chris Leak either has to get with the program or find a seat on Florida's bench.

Reporters' Notebooks

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: How does an Iowa State-Tulsa matchup sound in the Fort Worth Bowl? Mr. Duarte has some projections as to where Big 12 teams will be spending the holidays.

Brian J. Pedersen, Arizona Daily Star: Buried in his Pac-10 column is this gem: Arizona State's Dirk Koetter is 0-9 in conference games played in California.

Deseret News: The staff is lined up in the shotgun formation and is ready to fire quick takes from the Mountain West.

Jim Mashek, Biloxi Sun Herald: With defense the king in the SEC, having a clutch kicker makes a world of difference.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Did L.A. Times Have a Hand USC's Fall?

Blogger Ken Reich, a former staff member of the Los Angeles Times, says former editor John Carroll — no relation to Pete Carroll — is to blame for USC's fall to No. 2 in the BCS rankings. Carroll revised the paper's ethics policy before his recent departure. The new policy prohibited three members of the Times sports staff from voting in polls used to help compile the BCS rankings. But another blog,, says Reich is off-base with his argument.

DeBerry Reprimanded for Comments

Air Force Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. John Regni, who stepped into the post Monday, has reprimanded Falcon coach Fisher DeBerry for his comments related to minority recruiting. DeBerry, who will not lose his job, also issued a public apology. A video link is available by clicking here.

Firing Up the Faithful in Blacksburg

With the release of the first BCS rankings, it's time to play political football. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer says regardless of what USC and Texas do, his team should have a spot in the title game at the Rose Bowl if it wins out. Tony Barnhardt of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Beamer has a strong case. The veteran coach also said this is the last comment he will make on the matter. We will see about that.

Experts Rank USC Among the Great Teams

Texas' Vince Young might be doing the Heisman pose, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is posing a question to a panel of experts: How would USC — if it were to win out — rank among the top-10 teams of all-time? Opinions vary, but the reviews are favorable for the Trojans. One of the experts ran a computer simulation pitting Heisman winner Matt Leinart and the 2005 Trojans against James Street and the 1969 Longhorns and it has USC routing Texas, 42-10.

DeBerry Again at Center of Controversy

Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry is under the microscope again after his comments about black athletes. This isn't the first time DeBerry, in his 22nd season as Falcon coach, has been under fire. Last November, when the academy was dealing with issues of religious intolerance, DeBerry put up a banner with the words, "I am a Christian first and last. ... I am a member of Team Jesus Christ." The banner was removed two days later. You can see a video clip of DeBerry's comments made Tuesday by clicking here.

Columnists' Corner

Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press: Just ask the bookies who the best team in the country really is. After all, their opinions are driven by the mighty dollar.

Carter Strickland, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Speaking of bookies, let's talk to a "sports consultant" and see why Georgia is now an underdog to Florida (registration).

David Locke, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Maybe Isaiah Stanback isn't the quarterback to lead Washington out of its doldrums.

Terry Wood, Northwest Arkansas Times: Seriously, does anybody think Southeastern Conference frontrunners Alabama and Georgia are that good?

Mick McGrane, San Diego Union-Tribune: Is "Air Craft" about to be grounded? San Diego State's Tom Craft is ignoring calls for his ouster.

Reporters' Notebooks

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A look at what is happening around the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference (registration).

Charles Polansky, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Breaking down the ups and downs in the Big 12 Conference (registration).

Bob Clark, Eugene Register-Guard: His Pacific 10 Conference notebook focuses on Arizona State's dramatic fall from grace.

Pat Harty, Iowa City Press-Citizen: He takes a pause from the cause and hands out midseason grades for the Big Ten Conference.

Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: If Penn State earns the Big Ten's automatic berth to a BCS game, it could mean a revival of its rivalry with Pittsburgh or West Virginia.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

DeBerry on Hot Seat After Comments

Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry, 67, will have some explaining to do after saying the Falcons lost to No. 20 Texas Christian, 48-10, because the Horned Frogs have more black players who "can run very, very well." DeBerry told Denver television station KWGN: "It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me they run extremely well." Academy officials said they were aware of the remarks and plan to investigate.

Spread 'em Longhorns, You're Under Arrest

The charge? Fraud, and the evidence is overwhelming. You've not only touted the strength of schedule in what clearly is a down season for the Big 12, but then parlayed it into the No. 1 ranking in the BCS. Well, the gambling gods have spoken. Pinnacle Sports has released a line for the Rose Bowl and USC, winner of 29 in a row, currently is a six-point favorite (and rising) over Texas. The choice as to which side to be on is clear as picking a winner from the above fray. How do you plead, Texas? We will now submit Exhibit No. 1, aka the release announcing the Pinnacle lines, as evidence. It is located in the comments section.

You Won't See This in Your Morning Paper

In what arguably was the most impressive display of open-field running on Saturday, a streaker races untouched past the 50-yard line during the Cal Poly-Montana game at Missoula. No word yet on the man's identity or if he might have any eligibility left in case you're a college coach reading this, but at least Rial Cummings of the Missoulian had some fun with it.

Columnists' Corner

John Helsley, Oklahoman: A year ago, Texas rallied from a 35-7 deficit to rout Oklahoma State, 56-35. The two teams haven't been the same since (registration).

Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star: Can you say fraud? Take a look at Missouri's schedule and you will understand its sudden run to respectability (registration).

Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News: All that is left for Texas is to rout the second-best team in the land, USC, in the Rose Bowl (registration).

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Register: Alabama's victory over Tennessee will be remembered as the day good finally won out over evil.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jake Curtis, San Francisco Chronicle: Kellen Clemens was one of four quarterbacks in their third season as a starter in the Pac-10, but now Oregon must go forward without its difference-maker.

J.P. Giglio, Lorenzo Perez, Raleigh News & Observer: These guys sound like a WWE tag team. They come flying off the ropes to give you the ups and downs from last week (registration).

Curt McKeever, Lincoln Journal Star: The Big 12 stock report. I wonder if Alan Greenspan reads this?

Sean Keeler, Des Moines Register: When you try to tie one on, like Iowa did against Michigan, you'll end up losing.

Chad Hartley: Reno Gazette-Journal: It takes Fresno State 14 hours to get to Hawaii, which might explain Pat Hill's 0-4 record at Aloha Stadium.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Texas, Do You Really Want Some of This?

In celebration of Texas rising to the top of the Bowl Championship Series rankings, ahead of USC, which has won 29 in a row, we want to point all you late-arriving Longhorn fans to a Flash presentation that is second to none. It is done by Ken Romig, who has done this for the past six years. Here is a link to his past efforts, plus a dig at rival UCLA. Requires bandwidth.

Keeping Their Horns Sharp in Texas

Todd Heustess' mission? To make tailgate pilgrimages to five college football games for Be Gay Tours and then write about his experiences for He most recent trip was to Austin to catch the action at the Texas-Colorado game. He also has sampled the festivities at Boulder (New Mexico State-Colorado), were he partied in the Buff, er, with the Buffs, and Gainesville (Tennessee-Florida), and has trips planned for Seattle (Oregon State-Washington) and Berkeley (USC-California).

Columnists' Corner

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: Does the Big East belong in the BCS? Absolutely not. Next question, please.

Pete Thamel, New York Times: Those prognosticators never saw Northwestern or Brett Basanez coming (registration).

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: Texas and USC in the Rose Bowl? How about Texas and UCLA?

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: Some longshots are in contention as the season heads for the home stretch (registration).

Barker Davis, Washington Times: Texas has been gaining on USC, but now the Longhorns have to worry about Virgina Tech.

Reporters' Notebooks

Doug Segrest, Birmingham News: This past weekend created a lot of buzz. Some of it good, some of it bad.

Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger: Rutgers — yes, Rutgers — is positioned for its first winning season in 13 years.

Keith Whitmire, Dallas Morning News: Figuring out the Big 12 bowl picture is not that difficult (registration).
Zack McMillin, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Alabama's season is beginning to look like a fine piece of art (registration).

John Henderson, Denver Post: And the 2006 Heisman trophy goes to ... Brady Quinn of Notre Dame!

Week 9

Odds are up at It starts Thursday with an attractive matchup between Boston College and Virginia Tech at Blacksburg. And don't forget the big cocktail party in Jacksonville when Georgia and Florida come to town.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Is It One and Out for Crewcut Charlie?

OK, Crewcut Charlie Weis isn't the most attractive human in the galaxy and quite possibly is the lovechild of the late Rodney Dangerfield and Art Donovan, but he's an attractive catch for NFL teams. How attractive? Weis' contract at Notre Dame includes a modest $1.5 million buyout, a number that caused one NFL coach to remark, "That's it?" Are you implying that Crewcut might be jumping back into the NFL waters after one season? You betcha. Reportedly, at least one NFL team has been quietly exploring that possibility.

Trying to Give These Dawgs Some Bite

OK, so maybe Adam Carolla has an easier job doing his "project," but credit Tyrone Willingham and his staff for giving hope to the dreadful situation they inherited at Washington. How bad was it? Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said of quarterback Isaiah Stanback, "When you don't know what cover 2 and 3 are, and you're a junior in college. ..." OK, we get it. This isn't a quick fix. It's grinding an unglamorous and you don't smash the champagne on the house before you lay the foundation. But progress is being made, even if you can't draw a full house for USC — the biggest show in college football.

Welcome Back Koetter? Not So Fast

Dirk Koetter was the darling of Arizona State fans four weeks ago after the Sun Devils pushed USC to the brink. Now, after his team behind, 45-7, and lost to Stanford, 45-35, he is public enemy No. 1. The Sun Devils were 9-3 in 2004 and now, with the loss at Palo Alto, the best-case (and unlikely) scenario is 7-4. This isn't progress and Koetter's record in four-plus seasons is two games over .500. He's due for a contract extension, but if the freefall continues, there could be trouble for Koetter.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Black Saturday for the Wizard

A state of emergency has been declared. A disastrous 1-6 record has the man considering downsizing to a double-wide in the south county, next to a residence that neighbors say was recently used as a meth lab. He is 28-27-1 (50.9%) against the spread. His winner was Northwestern. His losers were Iowa, Indiana, Brigham Young, Alabama, Louisiana State and Nebraska.

Trojan Fans Have the Write Stuff

USC and Notre Dame have since moved on, each avoiding a hangover on Saturday to win, but letter writers to the Los Angeles Times continued to talk about the memorable Trojan-Fighting Irish game from the previous week, most taking one last shot at Notre Dame.

Eye of the Tigers on Baton Rouge

You may have caught Auburn's opening game against Georgia Tech — a loss that ended the Tigers' 15-game winning streak — and given little thought since to the Tigers. You are not alone and Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is begging for attention, evidenced this week by his making what has to qualify as the dumbest comment of the year. Tuberville can resume his desired role in the center of the universe with a win at Louisiana State. His team has won 15 SEC games in a row and a victory at Baton Rouge would be impressive, considering the home team has won the last five meetings in the series.

No Wonder the Damn Dishes Are Piling Up

"With the first pick in the 2005 FFL draft, I select Eva Longoria of 'Desperate Housewives.' " Yes, in most circles, the initials FFL stand for Fantasy Football League. But let me tell you, that is so last week! FFL now stands for the Fantasy Fashion League, created by New Jersey mother and former magazine editor Erica Salmon, who became a fantasy football widow three years ago. "All of a sudden, he was glued to the computer watching four games at once," Salmon said of her insignificant other. Hence, the new FFL. Closet junkies pay $18 to become active members of the fashion world and over 4,000 people have signed up in just over a month.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Wizard and Week 8

After being flogged for a 2-5 week, the man is back with his Magnificent Seven. He is he 27-21-1 (56.3%) against the spread, but if his track record is any indication, expect something good to happen. Selections are in comments.

Fear Factor, Alabama-Style

Alabama fans hate Phillip Fulmer. They hate the way he walks. They hate the way he talks. They hate the way he looks. And they hate the way he refused to appear at Southeastern Conference media days two summers ago to avoid being issued a subpoena in lawsuits Alabama fans and former Crimson Tide assistants filed against him. They hate Fulmer more than rival Auburn. Why all this venom? Fulmer is the snitch who turned Alabama in to the NCAA for recruiting violations. What goes around comes around, and Saturday is the day Fulmer will walk out of Bryant-Denny Stadium to lead the Volunteers against the Crimson Tide (some registration).

The Joy of Six (and Oh!)

Welcome to Los Angeles, the center of the college football universe. USC and UCLA are each 6-0 and appear headed for a Dec. 3 showdown, but in the topsy-turvy world of Hollywood, anything can happen. This week is no different. Something is clearly wrong with Matt Leinart. Is USC covering something up? Maybe it has something to do with Leinart's relationship with maneater Shannen Doherty. And electrifying Reggie Bush missed practice because of a bruised hip. Is this the end of his chances for the Heisman? Even a former Trojan quarterback who was criticized for his work during the telecast of the Notre Dame game is defending himself. Over in Westwood, the concerns are many. How does a team go undefeated with a rushing defense that ranks 114th in the nation? And can the Bruins continue to spot opponents big leads? (some registration).

Columnists' Corner

Rick Bozich, Louisville Courier Journal: So you think Rich Brooks deserves to be back as Kentucky coach? Mr. Bozich has two words for you: Idaho State.

Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News: He stares into the makeup mirrors in the visiting pink locker room at Iowa and tries to make sense of the Big Ten race.

Brian Rosenthal, Lincoln Journal Star: Isn't it odd that a Nebraska defense with 34 sacks has yet to draw an offensive line holding penalty? It's true.

Crystal Ball

Double D, Boston Herald: D had a tough week, going 4-8, and is 35-37. After careful study, he's all over Alabama Birmingham tonight.

Fab Five, Detroit News: This crowd can never agree on anything, but this week they all like Wisconsin over Purdue.

Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Skip the rant about the NBA and get to the main course: Alabama fans roll out the red carpet for Phil Fulmer (registration).

Betting Fool, San Francisco Chronicle: He is a kinder, gentler Fool. A 34-32 record will do that.

Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News: Disappointing 17-23, but he's a brave man, taking the Washington Huskies and those 30 points.

Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger: Back up the Brinks truck because he's putting it all on Michigan.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

How to Confuse a Voter in the Harris Poll

Have you ever run across that loud-mouth fan who says his Team X is better than your Team Z? Who hasn't? You need to have one of those Uncle Fester moments to put him or her in their place. Well, thanks to a gentleman named Patrick Gaule, we have just the tool you need. It's called the College Football Victory Chain Linker and it's nothing short of brilliant. We've included an example of the possible work you can do with this handy tool. In honor of "The Addams Family," here is the argument you can make for Adams State being superior to Tha U, aka Miami of Florida, the No. 6 team in the AP poll.

So Exactly What Is Going On With Leinart?

Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart said it himself: he could be playing better. But according to Leinart and USC coach Pete Carroll, the burden of expectations and mental exhaustion have set in, and the quarterback has been struggling of late. But one columnist isn't buying the "Leinart is under pressure stuff." So is something going on we don't know about? Does Leinart have a physical problem, a mental one, a combination? NFL scouts appear to be wondering, too. Some already have put Notre Dame's Brady Quinn ahead of the Trojan standout in the draft pecking order (some registration).

Columnists' Corner

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: The prediction business is tough. Just look back at all those preseason magazines stacked on the coffee table.

Bud Withers, Seattle Times: Our man says Reggie Bush is the best player he has ever seen in the Pac-10, and he has been covering the conference for three decades-plus.

Chuck Culpepper, Newsday: What will an intoxicating game like USC-Notre Dame do to you? It leaves one helluva hangover.

Crystal Ball

Lenn Robbins, New York Post: The Pigskin Profit, with a 14-20-1 record, is loading up on favorites (registration).

Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal: The leader in the Great Handicap Challenge not only likes Army to cover, but win.

Reporters' Notebooks

Michael Pointer, Indianapolis Star: Blunders by special teams played a pivotal role in three Big Ten Conference games last Saturday.

Ted Miller, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Matt Moore and UCLA went through a divorce two years ago. Saturday, the sides see each again.

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: Bringing Baylor back to respectability was a Bear of a job, but it has the right Guy in Morriss.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

30 Million Watched USC-Notre Dame

USC's last-second win over Notre Dame was the most-watched regular-season college game in nine years. One has to wonder with so many watching, how did most miss the Push by Bush? Oh yes, that includes the officials who had a front-row seat.

Department of Some People Never Learn

Daren Leverenz said he made a fortune in the market in the 1990s, then got turned on to Las Vegas. Or in his case, Lost Vegas. He lost $3 million in a gambling frenzy over a three-year period. So how does one recoup such a loss? Turn to Hollywood, of course. Leverenz is the centerpiece of a series titled, "Man Vs. Vegas," which debuts Friday. He returns to Sin City with $1 million, this time sharing it with tourists grabbed at random. He hands them several thousands of dollars to play on his behalf. "If they win, I give them some of the profits." Vegas must be licking its collective chops.

He Knows How to Plan for Times Like This

Marvin Sanders was an emergency planner for a Nebraska nuclear power plant in the early 1990s. He taught people how to decontaminate and wrote a manual with 356 scenarios on what to do if disaster struck. Sort of sounds similar to his job as defensive coordinator at North Carolina, doesn't it? (registration).

Are the Commodores Back?

What's the difference between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the R&B crooners the Commodores? The singing sensations have been selling out bowls for years. Vanderbilt would just like to go to one. But it needs two victories — two victories! — in order to become bowl eligible, and Bobby Johnson's troops have only four games remaining. The reality is Saturday's game at South Carolina is Vanderbilt's most important of the season. A loss at Columbia and that dream of a bowl is just about over.

Columnists' Corner

Dave Curtis, Florida Sun-Sentinel: Why is Urban Meyer crying? Let's bring in Joel Fish, the director of the Philadelphia-based Center for Sports Psychology, to explain why. Mr. Fish, welcome to The Wizard of Odds!

Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Chan Gailey was run out of Dallas. Now Mr. Bradley is trying to run him out of Atlanta (registration).

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Register: Hey buddy, can you spare a dime? Or how about $600, which is what some scalpers are getting for a ticket to the Tennessee-Alabama game.

Lynn Henning, Detroit News: Michigan is a run-of-the-mill team, but no matter how you break it down, Michigan State can't compare.

Reporters' Notebooks

Michael Vega, Boston Globe: ACC notebook, with this gem: When North Carolina State's penalty-prone team made its "Walk of Champions" through the crowd into Carter-Finley Stadium for the game against Clemson, one fan tossed a yellow flag in the Wolfpack's path (registration).

Sean Keeler: Des Moines Register: Is Dan McCarney's job on the line at slumping Iowa State, which has blown second-half leads against Nebraska, Baylor and Missouri?

Bob Clark, Eugene Register-Guard: His Pac-10 notebook starts with the Push by Bush and ends by ranking California as the sixth-best team in the conference.

Chad Hartley, Reno Gazette-Journal: Fresno State Coach Pat Hill opens up about his team's poll position.

Pete DiPrimio, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel: The Big Ten record for pass attempts in a game is 83. Might Indiana's Blake Powers be preparing to break that mark against Ohio State?

Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Southeastern Conference notebook, breaking down the Eastern and the Western divisions (registration).

Natalie Meisler, Denver Post: There is parity in the Mountain West Conference, but it could come at a steep price.

Paul J. Letlow, Lafayette Advertiser: Louisiana Monroe can enjoy being in first place in the Sun Belt Conference. It is starting a 20-day stretch between games.

Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger: West Virginia Coach Rich Rodriguez is busy trying to prevent another late-season collapse by the Mountaineers.

Charles Polansky, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: A look at the Big 12 Conference, from top to bottom (registration).

Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star: The process of elimination is well under way in the Big 12 North.

Michael Pointer, Indianapolis Star: Struggling Purdue is starting to lose in-state recruits to improving Indiana and Joe Tiller doesn't like it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hottest Dance Craze in Provo

First there was ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" with the delightful Kelly Monaco. Then came the Fox spinoff, "So You Thing You Can Dance?" It's clear dance fever is sweeping this great nation of ours. Not to be outdone, the Cougars of Brigham Young have gotten in the swing of things, performing their new routine just before kickoff. It's called the Maori Haka. There's a long story behind all of this and we will leave that up to others (story also in comments). But if you want to see a performance you can click here to view what everybody is talking about along the Wasatch Mountains.

Call Leads to Alternative Energy Source

We can all agree on one thing: fuel costs are out of control. Energy conservation is advised, but what is one to do when you're just flat-out cold in this modern day and age of fossil fuels? How about getting the referees to make a game-changing call and spark West Virginia to an improbable triple-overtime victory over Louisville. Yea, you know where I'm going with this. Yet another rampage in Morgantown, home of the burning sofa. We can all gather around and get warm now, can't we? Even the firefighters.

We're Getting to the Bottom of This

Our criminal investigation into what transpired Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium continues. Although it is our policy not to discuss specifics, we can comment on what we know to this point: Reggie Bush broke the rule by pushing Matt Leinart into the end zone for the winning touchdown. The evidence is indisputable: eyewitness accounts, photos and video footage to name a few. "It would have been more blatant only if Bush had delivered a flying drop kick to Leinart's chest." But now our attention is turning to NBC as a possible co-conspirator. It appears the network fumbled this one, failing to show a replay for nearly three minutes and then uttering nary a word about the push afterward (registration).

OK, It All Makes Perfect Sense Now

Meet Tom Pounds, the man who not only took the flag and ran with it, but made it. Pounds came up with a crazy idea in October 2003. He made a Washington State flag, drove from Albuquerque to Austin, then before a national TV audience on ESPN's "GameDay," waved the sucker in the background. One problem: Washington State was playing in Pullman. But Cougar fans took note. Two weeks later, the same flag was being waved during a "GameDay" telecast from Madison while the Cougs were in Palo Alto. The following week, with "GameDay" in Bowling Green, it appeared again, even though the Cougs playing back in Pullman. Pound's crazy idea had snowballed and now the flag is Fed-Ex-ed around the country, from Cougar fan to Cougar fan, proudly displayed when possible at the site of ESPN's "GameDay."

Stink Over Pink Is Officially Over

Officials at Iowa have solved their problem over the pink visitor's locker rooms at Kinnick Stadium being sexist and homophobic by forwarding the issue to "an appropriate university committtee" for further study. Speaking of further study, whatever became of Molly Ringwald?

Columnists' Corner

Reggie Hayes, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel: Us sportswriters. We are so lucky. Notre Dame football is back.

Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star: Missouri has a quarterback controversy, Kansas State may have found a quarterback and Kansas, well, it needs a quarterback (registration).

David Whitley, Orlando Sentinel: In college, cheerleaders look like somebody your mother would approve of. In the NFL, they look like somebody your father would approve of.

John Levesque, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Washington is 1-5, but it's a good 1-5. Right? Well, it better be. No. 1 USC is coming to town.

Reporters' Notebooks

Mike Baldwin, Oklahoman: It's six games into the Mike Gundy experiment at Oklahoma State. Version 1.0 is full of bugs (registration).

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: The critically acclaimed Hlist. As Steven Wright said: You can't have everything. Where would you put it? (subscription, so story is located in comments).

Chris Dempsey, Denver Post: Team Video Game, aka Texas Tech, enters the real world with a trip to Austin to play Texas.

Dick Harmon, Deseret Morning News: Brigham Young Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he has requested the use of instant replay at Notre Dame.

Dave Dye, Detroit News: For the first time in history, we actually had an end-of-the-half interview with substance.

Lorenzo Perez, Raleigh News Observer: You've heard of taking it one game at a time. Chuck Amato is telling his North Carolina State players to take it one practice at a time.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Crewcut Charlie: Officials Missed the Spot

As posted here Saturday night, the Pac-10 crew working the USC-Notre Dame game not only missed the infraction by Reggie Bush, but also the spot of the ball the previous play when Matt Leinart fumbled. Irish coach Charlie Weis said as much today. He also brings a new infraction into play: Pete Carroll's son, Brennan, signals for a timeout after Leinart's fumble when the Trojans didn't have any remaining. "They are out of the coach’s box and they are calling timeouts with no timeouts left. Now that's a penalty and that alone puts them out of touchdown scoring range and to field goal range," Crewcut said.
Update: Thanks to reader Mike for pointing this out in the NCAA Football Rules Book: When a team's timeouts are exhausted and it requests a timeout, the official should not acknowledge the request. Which is exactly what happened. Weis and AP got it wrong, there is no penalty. His on-the-money post is in comments.
Update II: We need to clarify Weis' comments. After reading an item in the South Bend Tribune, it's clear Weis was asking for a penalty for coaches being out of the box, not for trying to call a timeout they didn't have. Sorry, Charlie.

USC Wins When Push Comes to Shove

Yet another reason to have a former NFL coach guiding your college team. Officials say yes, Reggie Bush's push of Matt Leinart into the end zone (above) was a violation of the rules, as reported here Saturday. Coach Pete Carroll tells the Los Angeles Times he had seen the penalty called in the NFL, but not in the college game (wink, wink). So what was it like to be in Notre Dame Stadium in the final seconds? An enterprising fan (a future attorney, of course) smuggled a video camera into the stadium and the footage has found its way onto the Internet. It is shot from the Notre Dame student section, on the opposite side of the closing act. There are two clips. The first shows the play before Leinart scores and fans streaming onto the field, only to be ushered off. The second shows the stunned reaction when Leinart scores with the assist from Bush. Be careful of clip No. 2. It contains profanity, punishable by having to recite 10 Hail Marys.

Columnists' Corner

Norman Chad, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: If the new gambling movie, "Two for the Money" came out, say, 10 or 15 years ago, it might've ended Al Pacino's and Rene Russo's careers.

Andrew Bagnato, Arizona Republic: How painful was the Arizona-Stanford game to watch? Press row emptied to see the end of the USC-Notre Dame game.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: Here's the bad news: Saturday's thrilling plate of games strengthens the reason for not having a playoff in the college game.

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: Everybody is fawning over USC, but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned if you're a Trojan fan (registration).

Pat Dooley, Gainesville Sun: The Florida offense is so bad it's enough to bring tears to the eyes of coach Urban Meyer.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Hey, maybe this Bill Callahan guy is a good coach after all.

Doug Segrest, Birmingham News: No relation to Ryan Secrest, but his collection of goodies should keep the buzz going from Saturday.

Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger: With all the parity there is now, teams deserve a second chance. It's time for a playoff.

Reporters' Notebooks

John Henderson, Denver Post: That crazy BCS poll returns today, and the man who has cracked the code says USC No. 1, Texas No. 2.

Bob Thomas, Florida Times-Union: Youth will be served. In this case, the youth of Florida State was served — with defeat.

Zack McMillin, Commercial Appeal: You should have been watching end runs instead of running errands for the wife.

Carl DuBois, Baton Rouge Advocate: It is better to receive than give, something Louisiana State needs to learn.

Rob Biertempfel, Tribune-Review: How bad is the Big East? The league's teams are 18-12 in nonconference play, with only 12 of the victories against Division I teams.

Keith Whitmire, Dallas Morning News: And you thought the Big 12 game of the season was Texas-Oklahoma. Ha! Fooled you again! (registration).

Chico Harlan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Where does a deflated Penn State go from here? "We go to Illinois," Joe Paterno says.

Week 8

It's going to be difficult to match this past week from the standpoint of drama, but why not give it a shot? USA Today lines are not up as of this posting, so the link to is here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

It's Sunset on Arizona's Season

Although Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star sees hope for the hometown Wildcats, colleague Greg Hansen has a different view, saying Arizona now has "five meaningless games against Pac-10 opponents that smack their lips in anticipation of playing Mike Stoops' team." Hansen is not finished, saying "the junior college recruiting class was a total bust; wasted time and money in the recruiting budget. That failure falls on Stoops and no one else." His forecast: a 1-10 season.

The Pacific Northworst? Try Washington

It started in 1948, when Washington orchestrated the 1948 conference vote that sent California to the Rose Bowl instead of Oregon, screwing over their Northwest neighbor and spawning the bitterness that has marked the rivalry. It continued Saturday in a theater overflowing with full-throated supporters. The Ducks' Kellen Clemens put the Huskies in their place in a 45-21 rout at Autzen Stadium, the rowdiest venue in the Pac-10. Just make sure you don't wear a sweatshirt touting your love the for Ducks' opponent.

There's Just No Defense for This

Speaking of turning around a program, how about the job that Mike Gundy has done at Oklahoma State, taking a team that won 24 games the previous three seasons into one that likely won't win again until 2006. Texas A&M, given up for dead, pounded the Cowboys, 62-23, rolling up 694 yards. Oklahoma State fans are livid. So is Gundy, but he started it by running off several talented players when he took over for Les Miles (registration).

Safety Was the Best Course of Action

Glen Mason didn't look for safety on Saturday, but he no doubt was seeking it on Sunday. How else could you explain Minnesota's loss to Wisconsin? The Golden Gophers ran all over the Badgers, but instead of taking an intentional safety with 35 seconds remaining, Mason decided to punt the ball. The kick was blocked and the Badgers rumbled into the end zone for a winning touchdown. Mason didn't do a good job of explaining his logic afterward. Now the Badgers, known as the Big Ten's kingpin of negative recruiting, have plenty of ammo for another season. Oh, they have Paul Bunyan's Axe, too (registration).

You Might Have to Take This Sitting Down

Welcome to Morgantown, where per capita more sofas are burned after victories than any place in the galaxy. Don't leave this activity to amateurs. Oh no, this takes the hand of a skilled professional. Refining the practice can take years. And after West Virginia's stunning rally to defeat Louisville, the local Sofa King no doubt had a two-for-one sale. Left in the ashes are the Cardinals, whose season is officially a footnote.

Wizard Is a Loser With 2-5 Record

There were promises of grandeur, but now the losses are piling up and the bank account is dwindling after his second losing week of the season. If this keeps up, the man will be gambling, er "investing," the rent money in a couple of weeks. For the season, he stands a pedestrian 27-21-1 (56.3%) against the spread. To recap, his winners: Oklahoma, Nebraska. The losers: Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana State and Louisville.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Did USC Cheat and Win at Notre Dame?

It's history now, but did USC's Reggie Bush, left, commit an infraction when he helped push Matt Leinart into the end zone for the winning touchdown with three seconds left in the Trojans' 34-31 victory? According to the NCAA Football Rules Book, he did. Bush even acknowledged as much afterward. “I used all 200 pounds of my body to push Matt in,” he said. Rule 9, Section 3, Article 2B states: "The runner shall not grasp a teammate; and no other player of his team shall grasp, push, lift or charge into him to assist him in forward progress." The penalty for such an infraction is five yards from the basic spot. And on the previous play, what was up with the spot of the ball? Instead of being at the three-yard line (where the ball appeared to fly out of bounds after being fumbled by Leinart), it was put inside the one. We hear it was a Pac-10 crew, by the way.

Franchione Gets No Pat on Back From Dye

So what does Pat Dye, the former Auburn coach, think of the job Dennis Franchione has done at Texas A&M? Not much. "Are they pitiful? Those players stand around like they got lice falling off them. Alabama folks ought to be saying their prayers (Franchione is) in Texas." Dye said he watched part of the Aggies' loss to Colorado and couldn't believe Franchione's demeanor during the game: "They're being taken to the woodshed and he squatted down there on the sideline like he's watching a bobber in some creek bank somewhere. ... I don't understand that. If they go on and play like they're playing, I would say they will have a new football coach at Texas A&M next year."