Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Marketing of Bucky the Badger

In the early 1990s, Wisconsin football tickets were sold through a local grocery chain and renewal notices for season tickets looked like utility bills. Schedule posters, once plain and straightforward, now have imaginative themes that utilize props and studio photography. Times have changed in Madison, and the Badgers have become big business, an $80 million enterprise, with hats, trading cards, refrigerator magnets, soft drinks and a website that generated more than 47 million page views during the 2005-06 school year. And it's all done with a marketing budget of $748,100, considered remarkable in a day and age when $80 million businesses typically spend 15 times that in marketing on an annual basis. "A lot of people around the country are looking to Wisconsin to see how it was done right," said Mark Schmitz, who runs a Madison-based design company.

Weis' Battle

We've poked our share of fun at Notre Dame coach Crewcut Charlie Weis, but the big guy nearly died in 2002 after gastric bypass surgery. He filed a malpractice lawsuit, and it is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 12. Weis' surgery was to be a secret. The then-New England Patriot assistant entered Massachusetts General Hospital in 2002 under an assumed named and was to go home the next day, avoiding public attention. Instead, complications developed and Weis was so close to death that he received the Catholic sacrament of last rites. Weis, 50, isn't commenting on his lawsuit, but he wrote about it in his book, "No Excuses: One Man's Incredible Rise Through the NFL to Head Coach of Notre Dame," and described himself as "a dumb ass" for submitting to the surgery. Weis, who said he had tried countless diets, reportedly suffered from sleep apnea, minor swelling in his lower extremities and hemochromatosis, a disorder that results in too much iron in the body. A star witness for Weis is expected to be Patriot quarterback Tom Brady, who held a bedside vigil with the Weises when complications developed. "Tommy Brady was the one person who was there with my wife [Maura] through that whole ordeal," Weis wrote. "If it hadn't been for him, Maura would have gone off the deep end."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ruling Could Lead to Tedford's Departure

A judge's preliminary injunction stopping the construction of a training center adjacent to California's Memorial Stadium was considered a victory to a group of environmentalists who have been camping for weeks in old oak trees that would have to be cut down for the project. But the ruling could be a blow to the long-term success of Cal football and to keeping coach Jeff Tedford happy. The facilities situation is so important to Tedford that the buyout in his current contract is tied to the project. Currently, his buyout is $150,000. Once the project is started, his buyout goes to $300,000.

Reporters' Notebooks

Brett Dawson, Louisville Courier-Journal: Kentucky's Rich Brooks is the latest coach to join the million-dollar club.

Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News: Vanderbilt might be dropping a home game against Richmond to open at Michigan.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: A South Carolina assistant has been banned from recruiting after calling a prospect's father during a "dead period."

Jeff Haney, Las Vegas Sun: How a professional gambler in Las Vegas turned $1,000 into $10,730.

Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle: Should Reggie Bush be stripped of his Heisman Trophy? Absolutely not.

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: The more exposure the recruiting process gets, the more pressure there is on coaches to do it right.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Army coach Bobby Ross, who turned 70 on Dec. 23, has retired.

Dave Curtis, Orlando Sentinel: Florida has been given approval for $28 million in facility upgrades.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Is the 2007 Season Carr's Last at Michigan?

Indications are growing that Lloyd Carr, 61, is preparing to step down as Michigan coach after the 2007 season. Jim Carty of the Ann Arbor News reports on a slight change in language in Carr's contract that is fueling speculation. Carr's past contracts have promised a $300,000 bonus if he is employed as Wolverine coach on July 1. The new language simply that states that Carr be employed by the university in any capacity until July 1, 2008. Carr was unavailable for comment, but athletic director Bill Martin acknowledged that he has discussed retirement with Carr. The 2007 Wolverines will be senior heavy, and Carr has faced increasing criticism for his inability to beat Ohio State and win bowl games.

Discipline Hearing for BCS Gate-Crashers

Boo on Ohio State! Two students who skipped class, traveled West, were able to sneak into the Bowl Championship Series title game and had it all chronicled by Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter John Campanelli are facing Double Secret Probation — or worse! Will Manzeo of Cleveland and Anthony Florig of Youngstown have received letters from Ohio State ordering them to a preliminary meeting at the school's Office of Judicial Affairs. "I think it's bull," said Manzeo, who has since transferred to Cleveland State. A third Ohio State student who made the trip, Dave Skutnik of Cleveland, had a ticket to the BCS title game and has yet to hear from university officials. Although the gate-crashing happened 2,000 miles from campus, the students face penalties ranging from a warning to expulsion.

UCLA's Unheralded Accomplishment

Much is being made of the upcoming Super Bowl matchup, with the Chicago Bears' Lovie Smith and the Indianapolis Colts' Tony Dungy being the first African American head coaches in the NFL's showcase game. But UCLA's hiring of Jay Norvell as offensive coordinator caught our attention. To the best of our knowledge, UCLA is the only Division I-A team with African Americans at head coach and both coordinator positions, with Norvell, left, coach Karl Dorrell and defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker. In fact, we'll take it another step: this is the first time a I-A team has had three African Americans in the top three coaching slots. Please correct us if we're wrong on this. ... On the surface, it appears Norvell's move was a lateral one because he held the same position at Nebraska. But Norvell is being promised more control of UCLA's offense, something he didn't have at Nebraska, where coach Bill Callahan called the plays. Then there is pay. Norvell, who interviewed in recent months for head coaching openings at Iowa State, North Texas and Boston College, reportedly is getting a $75,000 bump to $300,000. But the most important reason behind the move might have to do with Norvell's wife, Kim, who has cystic fibrosis. Southern California should be a better climate for her. ... As for the hiring of Norvell, it is getting mixed reviews from our friends at Bruins Nation. One thing is certain. The pressure will be on UCLA this fall. The Bruins return a whopping 20 starters.

Reporters' Notebooks

Michael DiRocco, Florida Times-Union: The high price of success. Florida is raising ticket prices by 14.3%.

Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona is about to lose another coach off Mike Stoops' staff, the sixth coach or support staffer to leave since late November.

Blaine Newnham, Seattle Times: Why does Washington charge $60 for a ticket to a Husky game? To help pay for everything else, including women's basketball (lost nearly $1 million), volleyball (lost $800,000) and men's and women's rowing (each lost $600,000).

Nick Jezierny, Idaho Statesman: Former Washington State defensive coordinator Robb Akey, the new coach at Idaho, sits down for an extended interview.

Rick Bozich, Louisville Courier-Journal: Is Louisville falling beastly prey to risky recruiting?

Sam Ross Jr., Tribune-Review: Who needs players from Florida? Penn State has punctuated its past two seasons with victories in Florida bowl games without a single Florida player on the roster.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Broyles' Frank Assessment

We told you Friday about the controversial comments made by Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles at a Razorback alumni meeting in Dallas. We now have video of KNWA's initial report, top, and a follow-up report, posted below. To an outsider, this appears to be much ado about nothing, but when it leads the 10 p.m. newscast one night and the 6 p.m. newscast the next, it's clear how big a story this is for the Razorback Nation. As for Broyles and coach Houston Nutt, they appear to have the full support of the board of trustees. And Broyles is even talking about giving Nutt a pay raise, As for special teams coach James Shibest, he clearly doesn't have Broyles in his corner.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Report: Bush Wanted to Create Agency

An attorney for a disgruntled investor in a failed sports marketing firm said former USC tailback Reggie Bush was "a founding member" of the venture, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Previous reports have connected Bush's stepfather, LaMar Griffin, pictured below, to the creation of New Era Sports & Entertainment and not Bush. The Times report says Bush and Griffin proposed the agency as a way for the Heisman Trophy winner to avoid paying a percentage of his earnings to an established agent when he turned professional. Attorney Brian Watkins, who represents Lloyd Lake, one of New Era's partners, told the Times that Bush was at several early meetings of the agency and that Bush also introduced USC teammates to New Era backers Lake and Michael Michaels. Jordan Cohen, who represents Michaels, called Bush "a founding member" whose "presence would then attract additional athletes to sign with the firm."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Broyles' Comments Under Scrutiny

An ember remains at Arkansas. TV station KNWA aired a recording Thursday night of Frank Broyles speaking at the Dallas Chapter of the Arkansas Alumni Association's meeting Jan. 19 and the athletic director had some unflattering things to say about the Razorback Nation. Pig Kahuna reports: "In short, he says Arkansas is a mid-level program in the SEC and that you can't get a top coach here and he throws our special teams coach under the bus." KNWA has released a transcribed version of the tape, but it's a choppy read and doesn't seem overly nasty. However, we're told the audio is much worse because of Broyles' tone. At one point, there is an exchange between Broyles and a member of the audience where they call each other liars, but unfortunately it's not included on KNWA's transcript. TV station KARK also has a brief transcript, but the bottom line is that we'd love to find a copy of the audio to post. If anybody can help, please email dawizofodds (at)

Media Behaving Badly, Part One

WWLS is the dominant sports-talk station in the Oklahoma City market. One of the station's shows is the "Total Dominance Hour," which features Jim Traber, Al Eschbach and Dean Blevins. Blevins is a former Oklahoma quarterback, one-time ESPN football color analyst and current sports director at KWTV, the local CBS affiliate. Well-meaning Traber and Eschbach decided to check in on their colleague, who was recovering from hip surgery earlier this month. Blevins never realizes he is on the air. The first hint something might be going wrong comes about 30 seconds in, when Blevins says, "I'm going to try and pee in a minute." About 90 seconds in, Blevins begins to relieve himself while talking to Traber and Eschbach.

Media Behaving Badly, Part Two

Deadspin once remarked that Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Sid Hartman "writes what he feels like writing and doesn't want to be confused with the facts." The Twin Cities' best-known columnist is now appearing in a TV commercial for Sun Country Airlines. One problem: his editors had no idea Hartman had cut the spot. In the commercial, Hartman appears holding a Star Tribune and remarks that he is reading "the greatest newspaper in the world." Said Hartman: "This was a free commercial for the Star Tribune." Although Star Tribune staffers (Hartman among them) appear on radio or TV because their jobs have positioned them as authorities or commentators, managing editor Scott Gillespie said Hartman's TV spot violated company policy. But if Hartman was disciplined for his latest ethical lapse, nobody is talking. Kate Parry, the paper's reader representative, wrote that "Hartman told me for a previous column that his many years in the job make him a special case and the usual standards shouldn't always apply to him. Whatever managers have done in the way of past consequences doesn't appear to be sinking in enough to give Hartman pause before he crosses that line again." Thanks to the Midwest Correspondent.

Hear and Now

Consider this your official invitation to join us Friday night/Saturday morning on "Sports Overnight America" on Sports Byline USA. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News is scheduled to be our guest. "Sports Overnight America" hits the airwaves at 10 p.m. (Pacific) with Fred Wallin and John Woolard. The Wiz will occupy his normal slot from 11:30 to 1 a.m. Mr. Wilner will be joining us shortly after the midnight hour. Your options to hear the show are many. Let's start with the Internet, where you can click on the "Listen Live" tab at America's No. 1 Sports Talk Network also has hundreds of affiliates, and you can find one by clicking here. If you have a Sirius radio, try channel 122. And for our military men and women overseas, try the Armed Forces Network.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Arkansas' Two Dozen Man March

What happens if you hold a protest and nobody shows up? Such was the case Wednesday in Fayetteville, where a group upset with Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles and coach Houston Nutt saw their grand plans turn into a colossal failure. Pig Kahuna, our man on the scene, reports. "This was supposed to be the big statement to show that a majority of Hog fans are wanting Nutt and Broyles to step down. Well, at 4 p.m., there were 10 protesters on hand and twice as much media to cover the disaster. Official reports are putting the total number of people who came and went to the protest over an hour as 50, tops." ... This despite the fact the event was well publicized, including countless mentions on local talk shows, an item in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and, of course, Internet message boards. Pig Kahuna says the small number of protesters presented quite the problem for cameramen from local TV crews expecting bigger and better things. "It was funny because they had to zoom in to avoid showing how small a group it was."

Is Going for Two a Big Gamble?

Would we even be having this conversation had Boise State coach Chris Petersen done the logical thing and decided to kick an extra point to force a second overtime against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl? Maybe it's time to scrap logic, which is what Petersen did. David Leonhardt of the New York Times reports that going for a two-point conversion is not that big of a gamble after all. In the past two NFL seasons, for example, teams going for two have made it more than 50% of the time. The two-point conversion became part of the college game in 1958 and coaches reportedly had become dependent on a chart that was created around 1970 by UCLA coach Tommy Prothro and his offensive coordinator, Dick Vermeil, that dictated when to go for two. An example would be trailing by five after scoring a touchdown to cut the lead to three. But even Vermeil seems to suggest that times have changed and more creative play-calling have made the chart obsolete. "Offensives have become more sophisticated and more unique with what they do in that situation. More time is devoted to it."

Tale of the Tapes

Yahoo! Sports says a federal investigation into extortion claims by former USC tailback Reggie Bush has revealed the existence of taped conversations that could confirm Bush took cash and gifts while he was playing at USC. If proven true, what does this mean to USC? The NCAA would have to show USC either knew or should have known about the alleged wrongdoings. At the moment, that's a longshot. Now if somebody can upload the tapes to the Internet, please let us know. We'd be happy to link to them.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Clock Ticking on Clock Rules? Maybe Not

As Chris Dufrense of the L.A Times first reported last month, Division I-A coaches want to overturn the clock rules that resulted in shorter games, fewer plays and less scoring. A recent survey by the American Football Coaches Association found that 58% of I-A coaches favored a return to 2005 rules, according to David Fox of Rivals. Steve Wieberg of USA Today also has a piece. There remains a strong possibility the rules will merely be tweaked when the NCAA rules committee meets next month. The reason? Administrators do not want to damage revenue streams (sometimes referred to as commercials), so reducing the length of games and maintaining revenue is a real conundrum for the rules committee. Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State and Matt.

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

Gamblers are already figuring out ways to get around the Justice Department's crackdown on Internet gambling. Wealthy players are rumored to have actually established residences outside the U.S. in order to bet. Others have opened bank accounts overseas. Less dramatic measures include using Western Union, Moneygrams, cashier's checks, money orders and a new sports debit card, touted by some offshore books as the next breaktrough in online betting. And here's a stunner for you: Las Vegas has lost the title of gambling capital of the world. Macau, the tiny former Portuguese colony on China's southeastern coast, is the new Las Vegas. Officials announced that gambling revenue in Macau in 2006 reached nearly $6.95 billion dollars, more than the estimated $6.6 billion taken in by Vegas. There is no end in sight for Macau's boom. An estimated 2.2 billion people live within five hours' flying time of Macau. By comparison, 410 million people live within the same radius of Vegas. Officials say Macau's gaming revenue could hit $8 billion in 2007.

Size Matters

The size, bulk and ever-widening girth of college players has not gone unnoticed by high school players. Researchers at Iowa State have found nearly half of the offensive and defensive linemen playing on Iowa high school teams qualify as overweight, and one in 10 meet medical standards for severe obesity. The study, believed to be one of the first and most comprehensive appraisals of obesity in prep football, appears in Wednesday's Journal of American Medical Association. Of course, this presents all kinds of health problems, many of which won't be evident until later in life. The researchers gathered the height and weight data of 3,686 varsity linemen available from rosters from all classes of Iowa prep teams. They used that data to calculate a body-mass index, the same tool used for an NFL study.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Longhorns and Aggies Go at It Again

Terrific find by The 12th Manchild. The University of Texas is suing Aggieland Outfitters for allegedly manipulating the Texas Longhorn silhouette on its products. Merchandise with the logo has been sold since 1997, according to Texas A&M student newspaper The Battalion, and there have not been any complaints until now. The suit was filed Dec. 4, days after the Aggies beat the Longhorns, 12-7. The "Saw 'Em Off" logo has become so popular with Aggies that it has become a gesture, frequently mistaken as a "Horns Down." Aggie players do the gesture, and even the Aggie band has formed the logo during performances. Of course, T-shirts mocking the lawsuit are already on the market.

Erin Andrews ... Need We Say More?

A kind soul has posted a You Tube video containing random photos of ESPN's Erin Andrews, a Wiz favorite. God bless this person, and God bless the Midwest Correspondent for bringing this to our attention.

Reporters' Notebooks

Gene Frenette, Florida Times-Union: Jacksonville could soon be the former home of the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times: USC will be looking for an offensive coordinator. Lane Kiffin is headed to the Raiders.

Bart Wright, Greenville News: Fans should not buy what the Internet recruiting sites are selling.

Bob Dart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics says college football recruitniks need to get a life.

Tim May, Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State coach Jim Tressel defends his decision to go for a fourth-and-one on his own 29 in the second quarter of the BCS title game.

Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin officials are working on a new contract for Bret Bielema.

Marcus R. Fuller, St. Paul Pioneer Press: New Minnesota coach Tim Brewster has a reputation for being a super recruiter. What is his secret?

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: Missouri and Kansas are moving the Border War to Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

Maurice Patton, Tennessean: Vanderbilt, coming off a 4-8 season, will play eight home games in 2007.

WBRS Sports Blog: Rutgers is giving hefty raises to assistants, but cutting 825 university employees and 459 course sections after state aid was slashed $80 million.

Tom Kirkendall: The Justice Department's crackdown on Internet gambling has reached Wall Street.

Grant Hall, Morning News: Rumors, rumors, rumors. How about Arkansas' Houston Nutt going to the Dallas Cowboys? Thanks to Ben Maller!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Another Blow to Internet Gambling

Two founders of NETeller Pic, a payment processor for gambling sites, were arrested last week on U.S. charges that they transferred billions of dollars from American citizens to overseas companies. Stephen Lawrence was arrested in the U.S. Virgin Islands and John Lefebvre was arrested in Malibu. Both men are Canadian citizens. Andrew Beyer, writing in the Washington Post, says the Justice Department's crackdown on Internet gambling is "another war that America didn't need to wage." Beyer chronicles how we got to this point and talks about the recent decision by Pinnacle Sports to get out of the U.S. market, noting that there will probably never be another Pinnacle. "Historically, bookmakers have required customers to lay $110 to win $100 on a sports bet. ... Yet Pinnacle cut the normal margins in half — sports bettors had to lay odds of 105 to 100 — and immediately attracted the biggest players around the world. Cyberspace displaced Las Vegas as the hub of American sports betting." Thanks to Tom Kirkendall.

How a Rule Change Can Impact the Game

Marty from has provided us with the final numbers on the average length of games for the 2006 season compared to 2005. Marty undertook this wonderful project to study the impact of rule 3-2-5-e, which was implemented before the start of the 2006 season to reduce the length of games. Last week he provided data on the commercial-heavy postseason, with games averaging a whopping 3:27:26, nearly 21 minutes longer than the average regular-season game through 13 regular-season weeks. The new set of numbers below factor in postseason play, which includes conference championship games and bowl games, along with the limited number of regular-season games that were played in Week 14 (USC-UCLA comes to mind). Despite the fact only 49 games were added, the average time of a game increased by 61 seconds!

The second and third charts detail the decrease in scoring in 2006 from 2005, yet another impact of 3-2-5-e.

Marty also provides us with the longest and shortest games of the year. The longest game — Florida International-North Texas — went seven overtimes. The second-longest game — Iowa State-Texas — was not an overtime game. Rather, it was delayed by a severe thunderstorm in Austin.

* missing game duration of Toledo-Ball State 10/15/2005


Year.......G.....1H Pts....1H Pts/G...2H Pts....2H Pts/G...OT

Here are the shortest games of the season with the date played:
Colorado State-Nevada 9/16: 2:25
Buffalo-Boston College 10/28: 2:25
Utah State-San Jose State 10/14: 2:25
Arkansas State-Florida Atlantic 10/28: 2:26
Toledo-Western Michigan 9/9: 2:27

Here are the longest games of the season with the date played:
Florida International-North Texas 10/7: 4:25
Iowa State-Texas 9/23: 4:17
Colorado State-Wyoming 10/21: 4:05
Tulsa-Brigham Young 9/9: 4:04
Kansas-Toledo 9/15: 4:00
Northern Illinois-Ball State 9/30: 4:00
Oregon State-Missouri 12/29: 4:00
Clemson-Boston College 9/9: 4:00

Gone, but Replacements on the Way

Here is the list of early entries for the NFL draft, scheduled for April 28-29 in New York City. A notable loss will be Georgia Tech's sensational receiver, Calvin Johnson, who ranks at or near the top of many a draft list. Two interesting names on the list: Ramonce Taylor, who was booted off the Texas team after legal trouble, and Gary Russell, who left Minnesota because he was academically ineligible. ... Generally, we can't fault players for leaving early, given that the sport is such a meat-grinder and players are not getting paid despite helping universities and the NCAA earn millions off "amateur " athletics. But that's a rant for another day. What is remarkable is that despite the annual flood of early departures, the level of play in college football continues to rise.

Jon Abbate, lb, junior, Wake Forest
Jamaal Anderson, de, junior, Arkansas
Antwan Applewhite, de, junior, San Diego State
Jon Beason, lb, junior, Miami
Ahmad Bradshaw, rb, junior, Marshall

Alan Branch, dt, junior, Michigan
Michael Bush, rb, junior, Louisville
Keenan Carter, nt, junior, Virginia
Stanley Doughty, dt, junior, South Carolina
C.J. Gaddis, cb, junior, Clemson

Ted Ginn Jr., wr, junior, Ohio State
Anthony Gonzalez, wr, junior, Ohio State
Chris Henry, rb, junior, Arizona
Chris Houston, cb, junior, Arkansas
Jason Jack, de, junior, Texas A&M

Brandon Jackson, rb, junior, Nebraska
Dwayne Jarrett, wr, junior, USC
Calvin Johnson, wr, junior, Georgia Tech
Charles Johnson, de, junior, Georgia
Rory Johnson, lb, junior, Mississippi

Marshawn Lynch, rb, junior, California
Robert Meachem, wr, junior, Tennessee
Zach Miller, te, junior, Arizona State
Jarvis Moss, de, junior, Florida
Reggie Nelson, s, junior, Florida

Greg Olsen, te, junior, Miami
Adrian Peterson, rb, junior, Oklahoma
Antonio Pittman, rb, junior, Ohio State
Darrelle Revis, cb, junior, Pittsburgh
Sidney Rice, wr, sophomore, South Carolina

Gary Russell, rb, junior, Minnesota
JaMarcus Russell, qb, junior, Louisiana State
Brandon Siler, lb, junior, Florida
Ryan Smith, de, junior, Florida
Brock Stratton, lb, junior, Texas Tech

Ramonce Taylor, rb, junior, Texas
Lawrence Timmons, lb, junior, Florida State
Darius Walker, rb, junior, Notre Dame
Danny Ware, rb, junior, Georgia
Eric Wright, db, junior, Nevada Las Vegas

Read All About 'Em

Sports Media Guide is a site we first told you about in November. The site interviews the people who do the interviews because as anybody in the media business knows, the interviewers are infinitely more interesting than the interviewees. Harvey Araton of the New York Times, Bob Ley of ESPN and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle are among recent interviews posted, and if you scan the list of 35 interviews posted to date, you'll see a roster of heavy hitters.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Adding Cheer to Your Day

Our good friends at Image of Sport sent us a little surprise that we decided to share with all of you. In the process, we've found one of the ways the USC Song Girls keep in shape in the offseason, by taking it to the hardwood. ...

Updating the Arkansas Civil War

A group calling itself "Grateful Hog Fans of Arkansas" put an ad in Saturday's editions of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, supporting Razorback coach Houston Nutt and his staff. The ad ends with this statement: "We're looking forward to a 2007 season filled with success, victory and unity." The ad appears to be a response to an ad in Thursday's Democrat Gazette that was critical of Nutt and athletic director Frank Broyles. That ad concluded with, "We urge both of these men, who have on numerous occasions vowed their love for the University of Arkansas and its athletic programs, to step down immediately." ... We're not sure what the Democrat Gazette is charging these days for a three-quarter page ad, but the Wiz will gladly undercut the paper's rate for any Razorback fan or group that wishes to get their message out to the masses.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How Rivals Make Money Off Iowa Fans

It's always important to know an opponent's weakness, and in the case of Iowa, rivals are exploiting the passion of Hawkeye fans for financial gain. Iowa State is the latest team to cash in, designating the Cyclones' home game this fall against Iowa as a "premium date." What does that mean? No single-game tickets will be sold for the Iowa-Iowa State game, and if you want a seat, you'll have to buy an Iowa State season ticket. Now who in their right mind would fall for such a ploy just to see one game? Plenty of Iowa fans do. Last year Minnesota designated its home game with Iowa as a premium date, meaning that fans who wanted single-game tickets to the Hawkeyes' game at Minneapolis also had to purchase a ticket to the Golden Gophers' home game against Division I-AA North Dakota State. It worked, as an announced 62,845 attended the game against the Bison, the crowd being second only to the 64,140 that were in the Metrodome for the Iowa game. By contrast, the Gophers drew 50,805 for Michigan, 45,612 for Temple, 45,227 for Penn State and 44,610 for Indiana. Michigan also put the premium designation on the Iowa game, and fans wishing for individual tickets to see the Hawkeyes in the Big House also had to purchase a ticket for the Wolverines' game against Ball State, the least desirable game on Michigan's 2006 home schedule. What Iowa State has done is taken it a step further, now requiring Iowa fans to buy a season ticket to see the Hawkeyes play at Ames. "Part of the reasoning is that the last time we hosted Iowa, we had single-game requests totaling 36,000 tickets," Iowa State associate athletic director Steve Malchow told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. "Our goal is to maximize season-ticket sales. This is something that has been done at other places for key games. I think it's probably naive to think there won't be negative feedback, but I have not received any so far."

Sarkisian to Raiders: Hell No!

Who knows what scared Steve Sarkisian away? Maybe it was Al Davis, or perhaps it was Darth Raider. It's anybody's guess, but Sarkisian, the USC assistant, told the Oakland Raiders he was no longer a candidate for their head coaching job. The other news involving USC comes from the scheduling department. The Trojans, early favorites to win the 2008 Bowl Championship Series title, will be play their first game on Thanksgiving since 1938, traveling to Tempe to play Arizona State. Three Pacific 10 games will be played on Dec. 1, the final day of the regular season: UCLA-USC, Oregon State-Oregon and Stanford-California. Photo courtesy of Tony Fernandez and

Mustain Re-Enrolls at Arkansas

The Mitch Mustain story has taken yet another twist. The Arkansas quarterback, who was given his release earlier this week, has re-enrolled at Arkansas. Mustain has not rejoined the team and is not likely to stay a Razorback beyond the spring semester. The move reportedly was made to give Mustain more time to examine his transfer possibilities, but given all the bizarre developments this past week at Fayetteville, all bets are off. Mustain did visit Tulsa on Thursday, and Texas El Paso, Texas Tech and to a lesser degree Oklahoma are in the mix. ... The story also reached the pages of the New York Times. Thayer Evans interviewed Kurt Voigt, the prep sports editor at The Morning News in Springdale, Ark., where Mustain attended high school. Voigt also authored the book "Year of the Dog," which chronicled Mustain's senior season at Springdale and quoted the quarterback as saying that Arkansas coach Houston Nutt's offense was boring. Razorback fans remain split between Mustain and Nutt. "I had someone the other day refer to it as a civil war, and it is," Voigt said. "It really is. It's incredible. You have people in offices getting into fights, not fistfights, but real yelling debates."

Friday, January 19, 2007

L.A. Stories

USC's Pete Carroll, left, might not be headed to the NFL anytime soon, but members of his staff might be. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat is reporting that assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian, 32, is on the verge of being named coach of the Oakland Raiders. And Sarkisian might be taking offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin with him. At rival UCLA, Jim Svoboda is out as offensive coordinator, meaning coach Karl Dorrell, right, is looking for his fourth offensive coordinator in less than five years. Dorrell is talking about taking on the duties himself, but there is speculation that Tom Cable, who left as the Bruins' offensive coordinator a year ago to take a job with the Atlanta Falcons, might be in line to return. Cable is looking for work after the Falcons fired Jim Mora and his staff. ... We thank Image of Sport for the photos.

Patterson Turned Down Minnesota Offer

Minnesota reportedly made an 11th-hour bid to snare Gary Patterson, right, from Texas Christian before it offered the job to Tim Brewster, the Denver Broncos assistant who accepted. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Minnesota offered a package worth $2.3 million to get Patterson, who acknowledged to the paper that he talked with Minnesota officials. Texas Christian athletic director Danny Morrison declined to comment on whether Patterson's contract was being reworked as incentive for him to stay at the school. The paper also reported that Patterson earlier turned down an offer from Iowa State. Last year Patterson's name was connected with the opening at Kansas State. Photo is courtesy of Image of Sport.

Teams Backing Away From Mustain

It appears you can scratch Louisville and Oklahoma off Mitch Mustain's list. The quarterback, who earlier this week was given his release by Arkansas, was told Thursday by Cardinals coach Steve Kragthorpe that he wasn't welcome. "Due to widespread media speculation, the University of Louisville is not interested in recruiting Mitch Mustain," Kragthorpe said. And a report out of Norman said Oklahoma had closed the door on Mustain becoming a Sooner. That leaves Tulsa, where Gus Malzahn resides. Malzahn, of course, was Mustain's high school coach and the two were together for one year at Arkansas before Malzahn left earlier this week to become an assistant with the Golden Hurricane. Wendell Barnhouse of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on the chaos in Fayetteville, including an advertisement in Thursday's Arkansas Democrat Gazette that called for the resignation of Razorback coach Houston Nutt and athletic director Frank Broyles.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Getting In Their Digs on the Pigs

The story of the week has been in Fayetteville, where the Razorback Nation has been split by the departures of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn to Tulsa and quarterback Mitch Mustain to a yet-to-be-determined school. Tulsa, Louisville and Oklahoma are the frontrunners for Mustain, whose relationship with Arkansas coach Houston Nutt never developed after comments Mustain made about Nutt's offense in the book "The Year of the Dog," which chronicled Mustain's senior season at nearby Springdale High and the recruitment process that followed. As you can imagine, Southeastern Conference rivals have been getting a good chuckle out of this soap opera, and leading the way once again is the excellent Loser With Socks. The Tennessee site knows the proper way to roast a pig.

Colt Brennan for Heisman

Hawaii gave Colt Brennan a second chance. Now he is returning the favor. Brennan announced Wednesday that he will return to the Rainbows for his senior season of eligibility and it's the biggest announcement in the history of Hawaii football. Not familiar with Brennan's story? Pull up a chair and let us fill you in. Brennan was Matt Leinart's backup at Santa Ana Mater Dei High, then opted to attend Colorado. After a night of drinking in Boulder, he ended up in a coed's room uninvited and refused to leave. He eventually pled guilty to second-degree burglary and first degree criminal trespass and was kicked off the team. With seemingly no place to turn, he ended up in Honolulu. Although he wasn't welcomed with open arms, he has been a good citizen since arriving in Oahu and his popularity has soared. Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann joked during the season that if an election were held today, he would lose to Brennan. This is a kid who has made the most of a second chance, passing for an NCAA record 58 touchdowns this past season. Can you say Heisman? He certainly has to be a frontrunner, especially if he duplicates last season's numbers.

Radio Waves

Bruce Feldman, a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine and author of "Cane Mutiny: How the Miami Hurricanes Overturned the Football Establishment," is scheduled to be our guest Friday night/Saturday morning on "Sports Overnight America" on Sports Byline USA. Bruce also sends along word that he is working on a new book on recruiting, so you'll want to tune in beginning at 10 p.m. (Pacific) when Fred Wallin and John Woolard get the show rolling. The Wiz joins the discussion at 11:30, and Bruce will join us shortly after the midnight hour and be with us until 1 a.m. "Sports Overnight America" can be heard on Sirius 122, over the Internet at Sports Byline, on one of the hundreds of affiliates or the Armed Forces Network.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Are Gophers Digging Another Hole?

First came word that Minnesota hired a coach, a guy named Tim Brewster. Then came the question: Tim who? He hasn't been a head coach since high school and has never been an offensive or defensive coordinator in college or the NFL. Minnesota officials are spreading the word about Brewster being a master recruiter, but his son Clint, who is one of the nation's top prep quarterbacks, has committed to Illinois, and that isn't likely to change. Said Clint: "I think it would be pretty cool to play against him. I'm looking forward to it." OK then, who is Brewster? He has spent the past five seasons in the NFL, most recently as tight ends coach of the Denver Broncos. Brewster will have to sell himself to boosters. Only time will tell if he is the right guy.

Soap Opera on The Hill

The announcement that quarterback Mitch Mustain has asked for his release from Arkansas is the second shockwave out of Fayetteville this week. On Monday, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn left to become assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Tulsa. Last winter, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, above, hired Malzahn from nearby Springdale High, where Mustain was completing his senior season. Essentially, outsiders viewed the move to hire Malzahn as a way to secure the commitment of Mustain, regarded as one of the nation's top recruits. It worked, and Mustain started eight games and won them all. But in December, the parents of Mustain and two other freshmen met with Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles to express their displeasure with the run-oriented offense that featured Heisman runnerup Darren McFadden. Soon after the meeting, receiver Damian Williams, also a Springdale product, announced he was transferring to USC. ... The reason behind Mustain's decision remains a mystery, although his grandmother told TV station KARK that "it had nothing to do with the play-calling." Check out this video from the station. As for who will replace Malzahn, Nutt said former Miami coach Larry Coker and Dallas Cowboys assistant David Lee were two of the candidates. A third candidate was not named because he currently has a college coaching job.
Update: David Lee has been named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Quarterback Is Throwing It Up

This is video from the Texas State 5A Division I championship game last month between Southlake Carroll and Austin Westlake at the Alamodome. Southlake Carroll quarterback Riley Dodge vomits before throwing a key touchdown pass in Southlake Carroll's 43-29 victory. Now why are we running this on a college football site? Riley father, Todd, is the new coach at North Texas. This was Todd's last game as Southlake Carroll coach. Thanks to Tom Kirkendall.

Debauchery Doesn't Go Over Well in Ohio

Editors at the Plain Dealer decided to send writer John Campanelli on a trip of a lifetime: hitch a ride with three Ohio State students from Columbus to Glendale, Ariz., site of the Bowl Championship Series title game, and chronicle the trip. The students had skipped a week of class and traveled more than 3,000 miles, making stops in St. Louis to tour the Busch brewery, in Las Vegas to party and gamble, and in Los Angeles to watch a taping of "The Price Is Right." Then it came time for the game. The problem? Only one of the students had a ticket, which were going for $1,300 outside the stadium. But somehow the other two students were able to sneak past security and get into the stadium. Great story, right? Some readers don't think so. Ted Diadiun, the paper's readers rep, has been hearing about the decision to publicize an engaging tale of college-age irresponsibility. "What a disgusting message this presents to our nation's youth," wrote one reader. Another letter said, "I can't believe you'd glorify these guys on the front page of the newspaper. Sneaking into a game that other people paid thousands of dollars to see is grand theft ..." Thanks to the Midwest Correspondent.

Houston, We Have a Problem

Todd Graham's decision to leave Rice last week for Tulsa has left them howling in Houston. Graham, a former defensive coordinator at Tulsa, departed days after signing an extension. John Lopez of the Houston Chronicle wrote a blistering column, calling Graham "maybe the game's biggest coaching serpent." Houston attorney Tom Kirkendall says that although Graham "handled this job change about as shabbily as possible," Rice supporters overlook the fact that they ran off a good coach in Ken Hatfield. So where does Rice turn? Graham took six of his assistants to Tulsa, but up-and-coming offensive coordinator Major Applewhite wasn't among the group. Unfortunately for Rice, Applewhite has since hightailed it Alabama, where he has joined Nick Saban's staff. Applewhite and Graham were at odds before all of this unfolded, with Graham back-handing his former assistant when he learned that Applewhite was looking around. "We run Rice's offense, not Major Applewhite's offense. That was my offense," Graham said. ... Thanks to the Rice Football Webletter for the image of Graham.

Trojans Established as the Team to Beat

Can Florida repeat? According to the offshore book Pinnacle Sports, the team to beat for the 2008 Bowl Championship Series title is USC. Pinnacle made the Trojans a 5-to-2 favorite (win $5 for every $2 bet) when it posted odds last week. Michigan, the Trojans' opponent in the Rose Bowl, was second at 13/2. Then came the Gators at 7/1, followed by Texas at 10/1, West Virginia at 14/1, Louisiana State at 15/1, Oklahoma at 17/1 and Arkansas at 19/1. Other opening odds: Ohio State 28/1; Nebraska 38/1; Auburn 46/1; Notre Dame 47/1; Rutgers 52/1; Louisville 52/1; California 67/1; Brigham Young 67/1; Georgia 73/1; Tennessee 99/1. Teams listed at 100/1: Wisconsin, Miami, Florida State, Wake Forest, Boise State, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Clemson, UCLA, Texas Christian and Hawaii. As a sidenote, Pinnacle announced shortly after it released the odds that it would no longer accept clients located within the United States. This appears to be a response to a crackdown against online gambling by U.S. authorities that started in July with the arrest of David Carruthers, chief executive of Bet On Sports, a publicly traded company in Britain. Carruthers remains under house arrest at a hotel in St. Louis, pending a trial later this year. Two months after Carruthers' arrest, Peter Dicks, a former chairman of Sportingbet PLC, was detained in New York. ... Thanks to Image of Sport for the shot of USC mascot Traveler.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Average Bowl Game Lasted 3:27:26

Here's the reason you didn't get anything done over the holidays. The total time chewed up by the 32 bowl games totaled 6638 minutes. In other words, 4.609 days! Marty from cfbstats provides us with this vital data. The average length of a bowl game was 3:27:26, compared to the length of the average regular-season game, which was 3:06.33, a difference of just under 21 minutes. CBS' telecast of the Sun Bowl hit the four-hour mark. Only the Fiesta challenged the Sun in length, and that game went to overtime. All the bowls were longer than three hours with the exception of the Champs, which missed the three-hour mark by a minute.

1....Sun (Oregon State-Missouri).........................CBS.......4:00
2....Fiesta (Boise State-Oklahoma)......................Fox.......3:58
3....Motor City (Middle Tennessee-Central Michigan).ESPN......3:45
4....Emerald (Florida State-UCLA)......................ESPN......3:45
5....Insight (Texas Tech-Minnesota)....................NFL........3:45 (South Florida-East Carolina)....ESPN2.....3:42
7....Hawaii (Hawaii-Arizona State).....................ESPN......3:40
8....Independence (Oklahoma State-Alabama)........ESPN......3:38

9....Liberty (South Carolina-Houston)..................ESPN.......3:38
10...Music City (Clemson-Kentucky)....................ESPN.......3:35
11...Outback (Tennessee-Penn State)..................ESPN.......3:32
12...New Orleans (Rice-Troy)...........................ESPN2......3:31
13...Alamo (Texas-Iowa)................................ESPN.......3:30
14...Las Vegas (Brigham Young-Oregon)...............ESPN.......3:28
15...Orange (Louisville-Wake Forest)...................Fox........3:28
16...Capital One (Arkansas-Wisconsin).................ABC........3:27

17...MPC Computers (Miami-Nevada)...................ESPN.......3:26
18...Gator (West Virginia-Georgia Tech)..............CBS.........3:26
19...Holiday (Texas A&M-California)...................ESPN.......3:24
20...BCS Title (Ohio State-Florida).....................Fox.........3:24
21...International (Western Michigan-Cincinnati)....ESPN2......3:22
22...Sugar (Notre Dame-Louisiana State)..............Fox.........3:19
23...Rose (USC-Michigan)................................ABC........3:18
24...Texas (Rutgers-Kansas State)......................NFL........3:17

25...Cotton (Auburn-Nebraska).........................Fox........3:17
26...New Mexico (New Mexico-San Jose State).......ESPN.......3:14
27...Armed Forces (Tulsa-Utah)........................ESPN.......3:13
28...Chick-fil-A (Georgia-Virginia Tech)..............ESPN.......3:12
29...Poinsettia (Northern Illinois-Texas Christian)...ESPN2.....3:11
30...GMAC (Ohio-Southern Mississippi)................ESPN.......3:09
31...Meineke (Navy-Boston College)...................ESPN.......3:06
32...Champs (Purdue-Maryland)........................ESPN.......2:59

SEC Fans Might Not Want to Read This

From loading up with nonconference creampuffs to a denying an undefeated Boise State a shot at the national title, Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press says college football is a mess. And he's not buying the "SEC is better" argument. "If the SEC is so superior, why did Arkansas and Tennessee — two of Florida's 'impressive' victories — lose bowls to Big Ten teams?" Albom believes the Ohio State team that beat Michigan in mid-November would have beaten Florida the following Saturday. Problem is, the following Saturday came seven weeks later. Thanks to the Midwest Correspondent.

Junior Achievement

Record-setting Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, left, is likely to announce Tuesday that he is headed to the NFL, but his decision could be impacted by what Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm announces Monday morning. Brennan and Brohm are juniors and the pressure is on to leave early for NFL riches. But pressure also is being applied to stay for their senior seasons. New Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe promoted Brohm's brother, Jeff, to assistant head coach and passing coordinator on Saturday. Jeff turned down an opportunity to be offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban. Brennan postponed a Monday news conference, in part because he wanted to hear Brohm's decision. If Brohm were to stay, that would increase the likelihood Brennan would leave because the Hawaii quarterback's draft stock would rise.

Parts of the Whole

Things are bigger in Texas, and reader Scott, a Texas graduate, has put together this mosaic that contains 1,000 images. The breakout panel shows that the smaller images are all things Texas, which we understand is law in the Lone Star State. You can visit his site by clicking here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sports Illustrated Says It Fell for Hoax

An official from Sports Illustrated acknowledges the magazine was duped. As we reported Friday, the item that ran in the latest issue of the magazine titled "Sign of the Apocalypse" was part of a hoax. The item stated that "A West Virginia fan was photographed defecating on a seat in the Georgia Tech band seating area during the Gator Bowl." The story included a link to photos, one of which we display with this post. The photos were credited to George P. Burdell, a fictional character long used in practical jokes by Georgia Tech students and alumni. "We realize it was a hoax," Rick McCabe, who works in SI's communications department, told Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette. "And we're pleased to find out the incident never occurred. We apologize for the error." McCabe told Vingle that he didn't know if the magazine would issue a retraction.

Powlus Expected to Join Irish Staff

Crewcut Charlie Weis has decided to shake up his staff after Notre Dame had the bejesus beat out of it in the Sugar Bowl by Louisiana State, 41-14. The South Bend Tribune reports that defensive coordinator Rick Minter and quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas have been fired. Replacing Minter is New York Jet defensive backs coach Corwin Brown. Vaas' replacement is expected to be Notre Dame director of personnel development Ron Powlus, pictured here during his playing days with the Irish. Powlus, of course, never lived up to expectations as a player. Among his quarterbacks will be Jimmy Clausen, who has received a similar buildup that Powlus did as a prep. Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State.