Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

Mark Stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Joe Paterno may not have liked it, but Bret Bielema's tactic to exploit a loophole in rule 3-2-5-e is drawing praise from coaches.

Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review: Many Illinois fans believe they'll be seeing Chief Illiniwek's final football halftime dance Saturday.

Laurence Miedema, San Jose Mercury News: The biggest game in recent San Jose State history won't be televised because of a spat between ESPN and the Western Athletic Conference.

Jacob Messer, Charleston Daily Mail: West Virginia tailback Steve Slaton will need surgery after the season to repair an injured right wrist.

Mark Kiszla, Denver Post: The Big 12 Conference needs change. The structure of the North and South divisions simply doesn't work.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: The Hlist. Ball State made alum David Letterman proud by hanging tough with Michigan (subscription, so story is in comments).

Jim Masliak, Commercial Appeal: Conference USA notebook. Saturday's games should go a long way toward sorting out the East and West divisions.

2 comments:

dawizofodds said...

11/07/06

The Hlist

Mike Hlas
Cedar Rapids Gazette

FIRST DOWNS
1. Fighting Cardinals: Last week, David Letterman had fun with his alma mater Ball State’s looming game at Michigan. He said the Wolverines play in a 110,000-seat stadium, while the Cardinals play in an old lady’s backyard.
Letterman joked that the cardinal is the fiercest robin-sized bird. But was it a joke?
The Cardinals gave Michigan a fight before falling, 34-26.
‘‘Our goal was to take it to the fourth quarter, and we did that,’’ Ball State linebacker Brad Seiss said. ‘‘If things had gone a little differently for us, we could have shocked the world.’’
Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr played his second- team defense once the Wolverines got ahead 34-12.
‘‘Had we lost the game,’’ Carr told reporters, ‘‘you all would have had a good time with that one.’’
Trailing 34-26 with 6:38 left, the Cardinals drove to the Michigan 2, but failed to score on the next four plays.
Don’t be deceived. Michigan’s first-team defense allowed just three points to the Cardinals, and may not yield more at Indiana Saturday.

2. Reborn: Minnesota beat North Dakota State by one point between horrific defeats at Wisconsin and Ohio State. But then it hosted Indiana.
And won, 63-26.
Incredibly, 4-6 Minnesota can make it to a bowl if it wins at Michigan State on Saturday and then defeats Iowa.
‘‘With as bad a season as we’ve had so far, this is a load off our shoulders,’’ Minnesota defensive end Steve Davis said. ‘‘Now we have to keep our focus and get to a bowl game. It doesn’t matter which one.’’
The Hlist agrees.
It doesn’t matter.

3. Frisky Colts: If you’re a college quarterback named Colt, you’re a thoroughbred.
Redshirt freshman Colt McCoy of Texas and junior Colt Brennan of Hawaii combined to pass for 759 yards and nine touchdowns in wins over Oklahoma State and Utah State by a total score of 99-20.
McCoy has thrown a school-record 27 TD passes and just four interceptions for the 91 Longhorns. Brennan has thrown for 39 TDs to eclipse Hawaii’s school mark.
‘‘I used to run this offense not to mess it up,’’ Brennan said. ‘‘Now I run this offense to attack everything I see.’’
For the fourth time in the last five years, Hawaii is going to the Hawaii Bowl. There’s a symmetry there.

4. Bowl Call: Among teams becoming bowl-eligible Saturday were Central Michigan, Middle Tennessee State and South Florida.
If you’re a bowl committee, you may want to look to a different, er, direction.

FUMBLES
1. Loopy Loophole: A rule-change to speed up college games has been exposed.
With 23 seconds left in the first-half, Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema exploited the new rule in which the clock now starts on a kickoff. Twice, Bielema ordered his kickoff team to run offsides, happily accepting the penalties in exchange for time off the clock. The third kick was a squib that wasn’t returned, and the half was over.
North Dakota State Coach Craig Bohl saw what Bielema did on television, and put it to use against Cal-Davis later that day.
After scoring with 10 seconds left for a 28-24 lead, Bison kickoff coverage players were 10 to 15 yards downfield before kicker Shawn Bibeau struck the ball. When Davis’ return man caught the ball at his 2, the Bison piled on him.
NDSU then kicked again because of the penalty. Bibeau’s dribbler 20 yards downfield was easily covered, and time had expired.
‘‘I think when the pendulum swings, it swings too far,’’ Bohl said about the new rule.
It will swing back before next season starts.

2. Gone to the Dawgs: For the first time since 1973, Georgia (6-4) has lost to Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the same season.
‘‘To have both of the losses in the same year is frustrating,’’ said Georgia tailback Danny Ware. ‘‘We just can’t put four quarters of football together.’’
Said Bulldogs Coach Mark Richt: ‘‘What we are playing for now is respect, which we really don’t have in the football world right now.’’
Does that ring a bell (Indiana, Northwestern, 6-4), Iowa fans?

3. Blown Cover: Central Michigan beat Temple, 42-26. But it became the last team in the nation to fail to cover a point-spread this season.
At 8-1 against the spread, the Chippewas are tied with BYU, East Carolina and Nevada as the best. Wisconsin is 7-1-1, Ohio State 8-2.
Of the 119 I-A teams, Iowa is tied for 117th with a 1-8 mark against the number.
Fresno State is 119th at 0-8.
Iowa was the best cover team in the country over a six-season period that began in 2000 and ended last season.

4. Mum’s the Word: Stanford fell to 0-9 after its 42-0 home loss to USC.
Is Cardinal Coach Walt Harris in danger of getting fired?
‘‘I’m not going to get into evaluating him or any of our other coaches in the media,’’ said Stanford Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby.
‘‘Those things take place at other times and other places and in other forums.’’
Remember those lines, Iowa fans? You may have heard them once or a thousand times from Bowlsby.
Last week, Bowlsby said a slew of injuries to players may be why he hasn’t heard more ire from Stanford fans.
‘‘If we were 0-8 at Iowa, there would be a deluge every day of informed and uninformed criticism,’’ he said. ‘‘We certainly haven’t had that here.’’
Level-headedness and apathy aren’t the same thing.

FROM THE PAPERS
‘‘To sadly witness JoePa’s condition against the backdrop of a 36-year-old newcomer leading Wisconsin to a certain New Year’s Day bowl game with a 9-1 record and a lockup of third place in the Big Ten does tend to put perspective on the direction of the league.’’ — Michael Hunt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after Bielema’s Badgers beat Joe Paterno’s Penn State team, 13-3.

FINAL WORD
‘‘We feel like we can hang with anybody. We’re real excited about next week.’’ — Northwestern receiver Ross Lane after his team’s 21-7 win over Iowa. The Wildcats host Ohio State on Saturday.

Mike.Hlas@gazettecommunications.com

Anonymous said...

I think it's laughable the way ESPN is treating the WAC. Talk about a bully. Maybe the democrats will do something productive and break up the NCAA/ESPN cartel?