Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Seminoles Turn to Hard-Cell Plan

If Florida Governor Jeb Bush decides to run for president, he might have some explaining to do to voters of New Jersey. Bush is the latest to take advantage of a loophole in NCAA rules that coaches have been abusing to no end: the text messaging of recruits. Bush took time from his schedule to send a text message to Myron Rolle, a hotshot prep defensive back from New Jersey. He did it on behalf of Florida State. One has to wonder what Gator and Hurricane fans have to think about that. Bush's effort appeared to pay off though, as Rolle is expected to sign Wednesday with the Seminoles. The text messaging issue no doubt just moved up a notch or two when the NCAA meets to review its recruiting regulations (registration).

Tracing the Root of All Recruiting Evil

Recruiting is about selling hope, and there are countless websites that track the moves of prospects being courted by college coaches. The biggest sites are Rivals and Scout, and they somehow differentiate the No. 6 tight end from the No. 11. Often there is not a "whisker's difference" between players, and just because one can bench five more pounds than the other doesn't mean he will become a superior player. But like the coaches, the sites are selling hope to fans, who cling to every word. So where did this madness start? In 1970, Joe Terranova wrote an article for the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., and offered readers a more in-depth report for $2. Within a week, he had 400 requests for that report. Terranova's reports eventually blossomed into a business, and others were quick to join in.

Reporters' Notebooks

James Edward, Deseret Morning News: Is the state of Utah becoming a prep football hotbed? It certainly has a banner group of prospects this year.

Steve Kelley, Seattle Times: Texas A&M is in a tizzy over the use of "12th Man" by the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe the Aggies should just chill.

Steve Batterson, Quad City Times: The practice of grayshirting, which has become somewhat commonplace in the Pac-10 and SEC, is spreading to the Big Ten.

Iliana Limon, Albuquerque Tribune: Governor Bill Richardson plans to ask the Legislature for $15 million to improve athletic facilities at New Mexico. The plan would call for the building of an indoor practice facility for football.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska linebacker Jeff Souder, one of 13 true freshmen to play last season, is leaving the team.

Zach Silka, Sun-Sentinel: Former Texas quarterback Vince Young brushed aside questions about his throwing mechanics or the possibility of not be drafted No. 1.

John Heuser, Ann Arbor News: Michigan has the early lead for the top class of 2007. A junior has given Lloyd Carr an oral commitment.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Oregon Scoots Through Another Loophole

Oregon has a reputation for creativity when it comes to recruiting, and the Ducks are at it again. Take a look at Oregon Gridiron, a site accessible to the public but directed at recruits. And the Gridiron site is not alone. Check out Coach Bellotti. It too appears to be aimed at recruits, with photos of team dining rooms, meetings and air travel. NCAA rules do not thoroughly address the use of websites in recruiting, and Oregon took note, as it always has. In 2004, Oregon spent $110,000 in one one weekend flying recruits to campus on private jets. The NCAA has since banned the practice. In 2005, Oregon sent prospects personalized comic books. The NCAA later told Oregon to stop the practice. So are these sites helping the Ducks? If you believe the recruiting services, no. Oregon's class, should it stand as projected, is ranked 47th, a decline from its 2005 ranking of 28th and 2004 ranking of 12th. Even rival Oregon State is doing better this year, with a class that ranks 37th.

Reporters' Notebooks

Bill Pennington, New York Times: More and more college hopefuls are reaching out to recruiting services to enhance their chances of being noticed (registration).

Jerry Hill, Waco Tribune-Herald: Baylor is doing surprisingly well in the recruiting wars. Wesley McGriff might be the reason why.

Rus Baer, Columbia Daily Tribune: You can smuggle anything out of Missouri, including the top prep football talent.

Don Williams, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: For the first time since 2001, Texas Tech will be without a fifth-year senior starting at quarterback.

Carter Strickland, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia has expanded its recruiting base beyond the Southeast and onto the national level (registration).

David White, Fresno Bee: The blue-chippers go elsewhere, leaving the crumbs for Fresno State, but the Bulldogs like it that way (registration).

Vincent M. Mallozzi, New York Times: We couldn't let this one pass. A profile of Will Leitch, the man behind Deadspin (registration).

Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register: Iowa State defensive end Jason Berryman, no stranger to trouble, is in trouble again.

Columnists' Corner

Dan McCarney, San Antonio Express-News: Feeding the appetite of recruiting-hungry fans is neverending, but what are they really getting? (registration).

Jim Polzin, Capital Times: Trips to the grocery store or walks through the airport suddenly aren't so simple for Wisconsin's Bret Bielema.

Charles Durrenberger, Arizona Daily Star: You think the recruiting season ends on Wednesday? Think again. It's time to start going after next year's class.

David Climer, Tennessean: Middle Tennessee State didn't make the grade. Now the Blue Raiders are short eight scholarships.

Berry Tramel, Oklahoman: Former Oklahoma running back Mike Gaddis has a new lease on life thanks to his brother (registration).

Bill Nichols, Dallas Morning News: Former Texas quarterback James Brown is building a business empire in Austin (registration).

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Who Is Calling the Shots at San Diego State?

What a crock. Chuck Neinas' cozy relationship with San Diego State has reached new heights. The sports consultant has billed the school $30,000 for his contribution in the hiring of Chuck Long as football coach, who then hired Neinas' son. In the past 18 months, Neinas, above left, has billed the school $76,496.36 for his work. "This is hilarious," Smith College professor Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist and NCAA watchdog, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Are you sure Jack Abramoff (the disgraced lobbyist, above right) isn't involved?" David Ridpath, director of the Drake Group, which pushes for academic reform in college sports, told the paper, "... if a school would call me, I could spend 20 minutes on the search. Just give me $100." A ripoff? You betcha. There should be outrage over this misuse of funds. And isn't it time the NCAA put its foot down and cut out Neinas the middleman? As Zimbalist said, "It's the old boys network personified, good for members of the club, but the club's membership rules seem to be more restrictive than those at Augusta National." And kudos to one our our great partners in crime, Ben Maller, for getting here first.

It Was a Tough Day for the Crimson Tide

The ultra-gay Bruno of HBO's "Da Ali G Show" exposes homophobia while attending an Alabama game. This doesn't go over with fans like the one above. Afterward, one of his victims is former Crimson Tide running back Shaud Williams. This is funny stuff.

Reporters' Notebooks

Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times: While UCLA keeps plugging away, the top high school players continue to flock to USC, despite increased competition for playing time.

Susan Miller Degnan and Manny Navarro, Miami Herald: Has Miami turned its back on recruiting from its fertile backyard? Some observers of the program are saying that is the case (registration).

Don Banks, SI.com: You wanted a mock draft, we've got a mock draft. A first look at what can be expected in the first round of the NFL draft, scheduled for April 29-30.

Derek Belt, Mobile Register: Hardly a word was mentioned about Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst before the Senior Bowl. That changed Saturday when he became the star among stars.

Ron Higgins, Commercial Appeal: If rules were meant to be broken, then there are some dumb rules. Take the case involving Deuce McAllister and two Mississippi recruits, for example (registration).

Kyle Ringo, Boulder Daily Camera: Colorado's recruiting efforts are running on empty in Texas, a state that has served the Buffaloes well in the past (registration).

John Heuser, Ann Arbor News: David Cone is headed to Michigan. Not the pitcher, the quarterback from Georgia.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Thirteen and Oh-io State?

If things go according to this plan, Ohio State and Notre Dame will meet again in the Fiesta Bowl, this time to decide the national title. Yes, it's never too early to look ahead to the 2006 season, as some are already doing. Here is one look at the top 25 teams for 2006.

Reporters' Notebooks

Mike Knobler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The NCAA infractions committee has decided to penalize Georgia Tech again. The Yellow Jackets will have their scholarship limit set at 79 for 2006 and 2007, six less than the NCAA maximum of 85 (registration).

Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: It appears Wisconsin running back/troublemaker Booker Stanley has played his last game for the Badgers (registration).

Brian Dohn, L.A. Daily News: Washington Redskin assistant DeWayne Walker appears to be the choice to become UCLA's defensive coordinator.

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia finished second in the Stafon Johnson sweepstakes. The running back, rated No. 2 among high school seniors at the position, committed to USC (registration).

Steve Kirk, Birmingham News: Andre Smith, regarded as the top prep offensive lineman, might be close to committing to Alabama.

Gareth Clary, Mobile Register: Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler will get a chance to showcase his skills in the Senior Bowl on Saturday. Here is a link to the rosters.

Rick Maese, Baltimore Sun: National signing day — one of the biggest and most meaningless days in sports — is right around the corner. And this year, the absurdity has hit an all-time high.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

Emily Badger, Orlando Sentinel: A state representative is sponsoring a bill that would allow Florida junior colleges to field football teams.

Tim Bisel, Topeka Capital-Journal: Louisville will play Kansas State on Sept. 23 in Manhattan in what could be one of the premier nonconference games of the season.

Tom Kubat, Lafayette Journal and Courier: A letter Purdue junior tight end Garret Bushong wrote to the school's newspaper is creating quite a fuss.

Michael Wallace, Clarion Ledger: Former Mississippi and current New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister may have violated NCAA rules in his dealings with two prospects.

Michael Ko, Seattle Times: Stephen Schilling, regarded as the top recruit in the state of Washington, says he will attend Michigan.

Matt Markey, Toledo Blade: Michigan is coming off a 7-5 season, but its recruiting class is shaping up as one of its best ever.

Charles Durrenberger, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona scored another one, landing a top prep cornerback, who picked the Wildcats over USC and Oregon.

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia has commitments from the top prospects in Texas and Maryland and is in the running for the top player in California (registration).

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami's recruiting class took a hit in the rankings when quarterback Pat Devlin switched his commitment to Penn State (registration).

John McClain, Houston Chronicle: New Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak sidestepped the No. 1 question: Is it Vince Young or Reggie Bush?

Kevin B. Blackistone, Dallas Morning News: When Southern Methodist quit playing home games at the Cotton Bowl, the storied stadium's slow crumble began (registration).

Berry Tramel, Oklahoman: Oklahoma's fall from grace in 2005 can be traced to the collapse of its special teams (registration).

Political Football

Lynn Swann left his job as an ABC sideline reporter at season's end and threw his hat into the ring of candidates in the race for governor of Pennsylvania. The former Pittsburgh Steeler and USC receiver took his lumps early, but has clawed back against Bill Scranton, his main opponent in the battle for the Republican nomination. The race took an ugly turn this week when Scranton campaign manager James Seif said on a televised call-in show, "The rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann." Seif was fired by Scranton, who is scrambling to put his campaign back together with the hope of winning the nomination and challenging Democratic incumbent Ed Rendell in November. Here is a link to Swann's website.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami has lost top quarterback recruit Pat Devlin, who switched his commitment to Penn State (registration).

Jorge Milian, Palm Beach Post: Miami and Boston College will mark the 22nd anniversary of Doug Flutie's "Miracle in Miami" with a prime-time game on Thanksgiving.

Doug Carlson, Tampa Tribune: Things are shaping up nicely for Florida State. The Seminoles will have eight home games in 2006.

Mike Knobler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech opens Sept. 2 against Notre Dame, the first of four consecutive home games (registration).

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: LSU coach Les Miles is in an 11th-hour battle to keep two players who earlier committed to the Tigers from going to Tennessee (registration).

Carter Strickland, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia coach Mark Richt has a new contract that will pay him at least $16 million (registration).

John McClain, Houston Chronicle: Vince Young or Reggie Bush? That will be one of the first questions asked Thursday when Gary Kubiak is introduced as the new coach of the Houston Texans.

Ryan Wood, Lawrence Journal-World: Tight end Josh Bell, one of the top recruits from Kansas' 2005 class, has transferred to Houston.

John Helsley, Oklahoman: Michael Goodson, rated as the No. 4 running back among preps, says he will attend Texas A&M (registration).

Matthew Aguilar, El Paso Times: Texas El Paso coach Mike Price says the recently released film "Glory Road" could be good for recruiting.

Craig Smith, Seattle Times: The state of Washington appears to have some top-flight talent, just not very much of it.

Gamble Doesn't Pay Off for Sporting News

A coming invasion of your privacy? You might want to give it some hard thought if you are one of the millions of Americans who gamble over the Internet. The U.S. Department of Justice announced it had accepted a settlement from the Sporting News, which it had accused of promoting Internet gambling by publishing advertisements for online gambling sites. The Sporting News will pay a hefty fine of $4.2 million and complete a three-year public service campaign, valued at $3 million, to educate people about illegal Internet betting. This comes after word that the Feds want Google to turn over information from its database. Google says it will fight the order. The settlement is the latest in the ongoing campaign led by the DOJ, which two years ago decided publishers and broadcasters are guilty of promoting and profiting from Internet gambling by running ads for it. The DOJ reportedly has reached settlements with several American media companies. An official with the DOJ said prosecutors had warned publishers that their activities were analogous to advertising on behalf of drug dealers and child pornographers. This campaign comes despite the fact that many of Wall Street's largest investment firms have loaded up on Internet casino stocks. Blue chip houses like Goldman Sachs, Fedelity and Merrill Lynch now hold hundreds of millions of shares of online casinos and betting sites.

Read All About It

This one fell through the cracks, but is so hilarious we felt the need to bring it to our audience. It reportedly was done by Mr. Two Cents, a farker on a Florida Gator board, and was first spotted on the excellent blog, EDSBS. It is a mockup of a Rose Bowl page done to match the appearance of mock pages in the Onion's "This Dumb Century." If you are able to read the text, please do so (you can click on the image, or copy it to your desktop to make it readable), as it is equally funny. Not to be outdone, the Onion has an infographic highlighting the best of the bowls that is worth a read. It earlier posted a funny item on Notre Dame deciding to make improvements to its storied history.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

Aaron Fentress, Oregonian: Jurray Casey, a linebacker at Long Beach Poly who reportedly had given a verbal commitment to play at Oregon, has been charged with murder in L.A. County.

John Helsley, Oklahoman: The money keeps rolling in for Oklahoma State. An alum from Texas will donate $3 million to the athletic department (registration).

Scott Wolf, L.A. Daily News: USC offensive line coach Pat Ruel is being courted by the Atlanta Falcons to be their offensive line coach.

David Climer, Tennessean: Recruiting ratings are more miss than hit. Just look at some of the can't-miss players from past years.

Emily Badger, Orlando Sentinel: Lorenzo Booker was the first recruit to stare into the ESPN camera and announce his college choice. Now it's the thing to do.

Carter Strickland, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia coach Mark Richt is set to receive a contract extension and raise, his second new deal in three years (registration).

Charles Durrenberger, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona convinced a Dallas defensive end that Tucson is better than Iowa City.

Thomas Murphy, Mobile Register: Jonathan Lowe, an SEC All-Freshman performer in 2004, has transferred from Mississippi State and enrolled at Alabama.

Don Williams, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech is taking a hit in its secondary. Greg Aycock is the latest defender to leave the team.

Gareth Clary, Mobile Register: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a left tackle from Virginia, is at the Senior Bowl this week to remove all doubt about who the New York Jets will choose with pick No. 4 pick.

David White, Fresno Bee: Fresno State selected Steve Hagen, a former quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns, as its offensive coordinator.

Nate Allen, Northwest Arkansas Times: Arkansas and USC have moved the Sept. 9 opener at Fayetteville to Sept. 2 to accommodate ESPN.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Manley Yes, but Oregon Likes Him, Too

Former All-Pro defensive end Dexter Manley, left, made as much news off the field as he did on it, serving time and acknowledging before a Senate committee that he made it through school despite being illiterate. He appears to have things turned around and is working as a director of a drug rehabilitation program in Washington D.C. His son, Dexter Manley II, has been one of the most-sought recruits this year, and he has decided to attend Oregon. Manley, a defensive end from Santa Monica College, is described by coach Robert Taylor as "not really blockable." Despite offers from several top colleges, Manley choose Oregon because it plays in the pass-happy Pacific 10. "That's sack central for me," he said.

Reporters' Notebooks

Thomas Murphy, Mobile Register: It's Senior Bowl week in Mobile, and it can be a make-or-break week for many of the players.

Mick McGrane: San Diego Union-Tribune: San Diego State coach Chuck Long, who said his recruiting approach would be to "build a fence" around San Diego County, has received verbal commitments from two more area players.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Bellevue High offensive lineman Stephen Schilling, the top prospect in the state of Washington, eliminated USC and will choose from Michigan, California and Washington.

Charles Durrenberger, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona added more beef up front with the commitment of Hawaiian defensive tackle Lolomana Mikaele.

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Andre Smith Jr., a standout offensive line prospect from Birmingham, is tired of the recruiting experience and is not close to making a decision (registration).

Chris Low, Tennessean: Tennessee beat Michigan for the services of Texas prep quarterback Nick Stephens.

Manny Navarro and Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami is gaining ground on the recruiting front with two commitments and is expecting a visit from Miami-Dade's top recruit this weekend (registration).

Joseph Person, Columbia State: Tight end Jonathan Hannah is the second player from Steve Spurrier's inaugural South Carolina recruiting class to leave.

Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Advertiser: In what will be remembered as a Sunday Special, Hawaii secured commitments from eight players.

Tim Bisel, Topeka Capital-Journal: New Kansas State coach Ron Prince has been going nonstop since he was named coach on Dec. 5.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska has been searching for gold in California junior colleges, but will this approach pay dividends?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Doug Flutie to Blame for the Mess We're In

The root of all evil in college football has been found. Yes, we always had suspicions about Doug Flutie, and now our worst fears have been confirmed. Flutie was Boston College's quarterback in 1984, and he came out of nowhere to win the Heisman Trophy. This was quite an achievement not only for Flutie, but for Boston College, which six seasons earlier fielded a team that finished a perfect 0-11. So what happens after Flutie's heroics? Applications to Boston College soared, reportedly up 30% in two years. Now a new study of admissions data from 1988-92 by a researcher at Illinois State found that schools saw an average increase of 6.59% in applicants in the year after one of their players ranked among the top five finalists for the Heisman. So it's no wonder college administrators look the other way when star quarterback Joe Jockstrap runs afoul of the law. Jockstrap, the university's most visible student, is a meal ticket, and not even Dean Wormer would put him on double secret probation.

Reporters' Notebooks

Ian R. Rapoport, Clarion Ledger: Mississippi State has a commitment from Pvt. Timmy Bailey, a veteran of the Iraq war who wants to resume his football career.

Ron Musselman, Commercial Appeal: Even with Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, it's a bit early to call Ohio State the team to beat in 2006 (registration).

Brian Dohn, L.A. Daily News: UCLA's makeover of its coaching staff continued with the naming of a receivers coach.

Chris Low, Tennessean: Former Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy Sanders didn't stay unemployed for long. He has been hired by Kentucky.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: Former South Carolina defensive co-coordinator John Thompson has agreed to a $101,000 contract settlement.

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami plans to start shopping for another quarterback recruit in case Pat Devlin decides to go elsewhere (registration).

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Stephen Schilling, the top recruit in the state of Washington, plans to announce his college choice this week.

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: An Atlanta-area recruit won't have any problem with Fisher DeBerry's preaching to the team if he decides to attend Air Force (registration).

Jeff White, Richmond Times-Dispatch: One of Virginia's top recruits said he choose the school in part because of ACC basketball. "I love ACC basketball. ... I got to stay in the ACC."

John Heuser, Ann Arbor News: Michigan secured a commitment from Brandon Minor, rated as the nation's best prep fullback.

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: Don't concern yourself with steering your son toward law or medical school. Let him major in P.E. and become a college football coach — the only profession in the world that rewards mediocrity with a lifetime of financial security.

Mike Huguenin, Orlando Sentinel: Don't expect your team to win even if it continues to bring in recruiting classes that rank among the nation's best.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

Brian Dohn, L.A Daily News: Washington Redskins secondary coach DeWayne Walker, who was Pete Carroll's associate head coach at USC in 2001 and an assistant under him in the NFL, is the leading candidate to become UCLA's defensive coordinator.

Scott Wolf, L.A. Daily News: The Pac-10 determined that USC quarterback Matt Leinart broke NCAA rules this season when he worked out with his long-time private coach.

Dan McCarney, San Antonio Express-News: A look at hits and misses from past recruiting classes (registration).

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: Those high school combines designed to showcase players are about to become off-limits to college coaches.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Steve Spurrier doesn't put much stock in rankings of recruiting classes (registration).

Mike White, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Penn State is trying to keep a record-setting Pennsylvania quarterback from playing for Miami.

Zak Brown, Boulder Daily Camera: It's a key weekend for Colorado, which is entertaining 15 recruits and needs to make up considerable ground in recruiting (registration).

Mark Berman, Roanoke Times: Virginia Tech president Charles Steger wants a review of the athletic department's disciplinary policy.

Bill Dickens, San Diego Union-Tribune: Junior college running back Derrell Hutsona, a backfield mate of USC's Reggie Bush at Helix High, has accepted a scholarship to Washington State.

Patrick Obley and Joseph Person, Columbia State: A look back at the 2004 recruiting classes of Clemson and South Carolina.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hawaii to Play a 2007 Game in Australia?

Why on earth would we be running a photo of the Australian Rules Football champion Sydney Swans? It's because college football could be headed to the Land Down Under. Hawaii is attempting to schedule a regular-season game in August of 2007 in Sydney. This idea started when the Swans worked out recently at Hawaii's grass practice field during a stop in Honolulu after a series of exhibition matches in California. The Swans have agreed to serve as host and have offered use of all facilities, including 42,000-seat Sydney Stadium. An opponent has not been determined, but the Swans insist that the game must count in the standings.

Reporters' Notebooks

David Stratton, Gaming Today: Casino gambling revenue in Nevada rose 16% in November, but the 168 sportsbooks collectively lost $8.1 million. It occurs so infrequently that officials couldn't recall the last time sportsbooks reported such a loss.

Marlon W. Morgan, Commercial Appeal: Score another one for Madman Ed Orgeron. Quarterback Brent Schaeffer said yes to Mississippi (registration).

Steve Ellis, Tallahassee Democrat: Receiver Fred Rouse and offensive guard Cornelius Lewis have been kicked off the Florida State team.

John McClain, Houston Chronicle: Vince Young or Reggie Bush? The NFL's Houston Texans, owners of the No. 1 pick, have a unique problem.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Register: The real lie in college athletics? It's when university administrators say that fatcat alumni have no influence in how things are run.

Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News: An interesting piece about the movement by Louisiana State fans to put up a billboard near the USC campus.

Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News: Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione and Arkansas' Houston Nutt are the coaches for Saturday's Shrine Game, but each found time this week for recruiting trips. Rosters (registration).

Brandon Masuoka, Honolulu Advertiser: The Hula Bowl has lost much of its luster, but officials are hoping that returning the game to Aloha Stadium will give it new life (rosters at end of story).

Friday, January 20, 2006

Mission Accomplished

That fundraising campaign to put up a billboard clarifying that USC was not playing for a third consecutive national title has reached its goal of $10,000. Now it's time to fork over the funds to onepeat.com. The L.A. media has passed on this story, but we imagine they will get off their collective duffs once this billboard actually gets posted near the USC campus. Then it will be time for the "taggers" to go to work. ... As for the other side, the USC fatcat alumnus who says he is going to put up a billboard near the Louisiana State campus posted an update on his site, saying "things are right on schedule, but of course, it takes a little time to find the right location, rates, etc." ... Quite an amusing tit for tat we have here. The ball is now in Fatcat's court. Stay tuned. ...

It's Time to Shake Your Booty

And you thought football season was over. Ha! USC is two weeks removed from its loss in the Rose Bowl, but the Trojans were back on the field Thursday for offseason conditioning drills. There is much work to be done after the exodus of five draft-eligible juniors, and the Trojans are searching for a quarterback to replace Matt Leinart. The candidates are Mark Sanchez and John David Booty, left, who is an interesting story. His father, Johnny Booty, is an evangelical minister who operates Our Home Fellowship, a network of home churches designed to bring families together. The L.A. Times did an extensive piece on the Bootys and we have a copy of it in the comments section below this post.

Good Things Come in Small Packages

We hear that fans of national champion Texas, i.e. Brokeback Mountain, are mumbling, "Mack Brown, ah wish ah could quit yew!" And no wonder. They've depleted their savings and run up their credit cards to purchase every available t-shirt, coffee mug, hat, sticker — you name it — proclaiming Brokeback's title feat in the Rose Bowl. Now along comes yet another effort to fleece Brokeback's fans of any remaining change in the cookie jar. For $1.99, fans can download a condensed version of the Rose Bowl from the iTunes Music Store. Of course, you'll need a video iPod, which will cost you a few hundred clams. Despite the required outlay, the game was the No. 1 video download at the iTunes Music Store for a week after the game. As of this posting, it is No. 6. The three other BCS games also are available (registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Great Falls Tribune: Iowa filled an opening on its schedule by agreeing to play Montana to open the season on Sept. 2. The Wiz wants to know if Montana will bring its streaker.

Nate Allen, Baxter Bulletin: Quarterback Alex Mortensen, the son of ESPN's Chris Mortensen, has decided to return to Arkansas after earlier saying he would transfer.

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Talent-rich northeast Ohio, where Michigan found Desmond Howard, Elvis Grbac and Ricky Powers, appears to belong to Ohio State again (registration).

Mike Sullivan, North County Times: It took five weeks, but San Diego State coach Chuck Long finally hired an offensive coordinator. It's Del Miller, late of Kansas State.

Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Two more Wisconsin players have been arrested, bringing the number to four players who have allegedly broken the law since Dec. 16 (registration).

Charles Durrenberger, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona might have a problem with two of its junior college recruits. They have yet to enroll for the second semester.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska is becoming California East. The Cornhuskers just secured their 10th player from the state for the 2006 recruiting class.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: South Carolina needs a defensive coordinator, but it doesn't look like it will be Jon Hoke.

Emily Badger, Sun-Sentinel: Tom Nugent, a former Florida State coach who is credited with developing the I-formation, has died at age 92.

Joseph Goodman, Miami Herald: Sam Young, an offensive lineman regarded at the top recruit in Florida, picked Notre Dame over USC (registration).

Erik Boal, L.A. Daily News: C.J. Gable, a standout running back from Sylmar High, picked USC over Arizona and California.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Connecting the Dots Through Westwood

Bob Toledo, right, once won 20 games in a row as UCLA coach, but he eventually was fired and has been out of work for three years. Not any longer. Toledo was hired by New Mexico's Rocky Long, a former assistant under Toledo at Westwood. The Lobos have lacked any punch in their offense and Toledo, who was the mastermind behind some high-scoring UCLA teams, will try to change that. Toledo's successor at UCLA, Karl Dorrell, has two openings on his staff and could be going after USC assistant Ken Norton, a former Bruin player, to coach the linebackers. As for a defensive coordinator, Dorrell appears to want somebody with NFL experience, and that person could be former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, who says he is interested.

Reporters' Notebooks

Craig Barnes, Sun-Sentinel: Growing concern over length of games and welfare of players could push coaches and administrators toward finding a formula to shorten games.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska is getting a huge bounce off an 8-4 season. Two well-known donors indicated plans are in the works for major contributions.

Marlon W. Morgan, Commercial Appeal: Mississippi Madman Ed Orgeron is recruiting, well, like a Madman. He landed two more studs this week (registration).

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Score another one for Florida, which landed a Tampa linebacker to give it a whopping 18 commitments from the paper's list of Super Southern 100 prospects (registration).

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: One of Miami's prized recruits is now considering Virginia and Penn State after coach Larry Coker fired the assistant responsible for recruiting the quarterback (registration).

David White, Fresno Bee: Pat Hill's flirtation with the NFL has helped him get an extension at Fresno State (registration).

Nate Allen, Northwest Arkansas Times: They're all giddy now that hotshot prep quarterback Mitch Mustain has recommitted to Arkansas.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trying to Get a Leg Up on the Competition

There is always something something to divert one's attention during a UCLA game, making it rather easy to turn away from the action when the Bruin defense was on the field in 2005. UCLA gave up 232.8 rushing yards and 34.2 points a game, turning in a performance that ranked near the bottom nationally for the second season in a row. Something had to give, and coach Karl Dorrell fired defensive coordinator Larry Kerr on Tuesday. Kerr was the first assistant hired by Dorrell when he became coach in 2003, and he became the second assistant to leave the staff in two days. Eric Bieniemy, a crackerjack recruiter, accepted a job Monday with the Minnesota Vikings.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jim Moore, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Former Washington and Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel says he received calls from Rice and Temple, but not from San Diego State, a job he wanted.

Mike Knobler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It's not a good time for a recruiting coordinator to resign, but that is what has happened at Georgia Tech (registration).

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis is the winner of the Frank Broyles award, given to the nation's top assistant coach.

Jeff White, Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia hired Mike London, who was the defensive line coach of the NFL's Houston Texans, as its defensive coordinator.

Michael Pointer, Indianapolis Star: Purdue receiver Dorien Bryant become the fourth member of the 2005 team to be arrested since the season ended.

Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News: Two Texas A&M defensive linemen received superficial stab wounds during a fight outside a College Station bar (registration).

John Shipley, St. Paul Pioneer Press: Minnesota is having trouble filling three open dates on its 2006 schedule.

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: For the first time in the 116-year history of Iowa football, every fan wanting season tickets will be re-seated based on a controversial points system.

Charles Durrenberger, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona continued its banner recruiting year with a commitment from an L.A. offensive lineman.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Washington's recruiting efforts took another blow when a top offensive lineman switched his commitment to Tennessee.

Thomas Murphy, Mobile Register: Score one for Alabama, which landed a prize in Texas prep quarterback Greg McElroy, who was headed to Texas Tech.

Jeff Carroll, South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame lost out on Mitch Mustain, but has a commitment from talented Chicago prep quarterback Demetrius Jones.

Mike Sullivan, North County Times: Former Kansas State offensive coordinator Del Miller was expected to interview with San Diego State coach Chuck Long for a spot on the Aztec staff.

Scott Rabalais, Baton Rouge Advocate: It appears the cost of attending a game at Louisiana State is about to go up.

Robbie Neiswanger, Clarion Ledger: New Mississippi offensive coordinator Dan Werner wants to give the Rebels an attitude adjustment.

Pete Thamel, New York Times: Only nine Division I-A coaches who started the 2005 season were no longer with their teams, a record low since the NCAA started keeping track of the statistic in 1947 (registration).

Jeff D'Alessio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A look at the teams that are having a recruiting season to forget (registration).

Charles Goldberg, Birmingham News: Auburn and LSU want to move their Oct. 21 game to Sept. 16, a switch that would create a series of other schedule changes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oklahoma State Is Now Boone State

You don't get filthy rich like Boone Pickens without pissing some people off. Maybe a lot of people (see last graph of bio). Pickens' $165 million donation to Oklahoma State athletics isn't going over well with some Cowboy faithful. The site BooneState.com takes plenty of jabs at the relationship between Pickens and university president David Schmidly. To use the words of the Oklahoman, "Pickens is depicted with devil horns, while 'Schmid' is at his biggest booster's beck and call." The men behind the site (you can see who owns the site through godaddy.com) have a method behind their madness. According to the site, Oklahoma State has announced that they would be taking 410 homes north of campus to make space for an athletic village. The university has declared that they will deal with these homeowners by using their position of eminent domain. My, how neighborly. ... Well, it turns out that one of the men involved in the Boone State site happens to be one of the homeowners. We wish him luck, but in this case, our money is on Boone State because it has more of it (some registration).

They're Going Hog Wild in Arkansas

It has been the biggest soap opera in Arkansas since Jennifer Flowers told Bill Clinton that it was not polite to point. Mitch Mustain, the Gatorade and Parade prep player of the year, announced Monday that he would attend Arkansas after all. Mustain had given Houston Nutt an oral commitment on Aug. 15, then told the coach he wanted to shop around before Christmas. Nutt seemingly panicked, hiring Mustain's high school coach as offensive coordinator, then had to watch as Notre Dame coach Crewcut Charlie Weis and Tennessee assistant David Cutcliffe made their sales pitches. Arkansas fans were in a tizzy, but it all worked out in the end. A story of this magnitude would not be complete without a video link.

The Unsettled Life of Mike Bastianelli

Mike Bastianelli, top left, never lost a game as a high school player at Concord De La Salle, then he ended up at USC and became friends with fellow Trojan Darrell Russell, bottom left. On the morning of Dec. 15, Bastianelli and Russell died in a horrible car crash involving a bus. It was a tragic ending for both men, and Bastianelli left behind a wife and a 6-year-old daughter. Many friends of Bastianelli were left wondering: Did I do enough to help Mike?

Reporters' Notebooks

Lonnie White, Los Angeles Times: In a blow to UCLA, assistant Eric Bieniemy, who coordinated the Bruins' recruiting efforts, is leaving to take a job with the Minnesota Vikings.

Andy Staples, Tampa Tribune: Florida's recruiting class could reach 31, but the NCAA allows only 25 players a year to sign. So how are the Gators going to pull it off?

Rus Baer, Columbia Tribune: Will Missouri retire Brad Smith's No. 16 jersey? No way, not after the controversy over retiring Brock Olivo's No. 27 in 1997.

Doug Doughty, Roanoke Times: Virginia appears to be in disarray, with coach Al Groh trying to recruit, fill vacancies on his staff and having linebacker Kai Parham leave early to turn professional.

Donnie Webb, Syracuse Post-Standard: Syracuse, which ranked near the bottom nationally of nearly every offensive statistic, is trying to address those shortcomings by stacking its recruiting class with offensive talent.

Alan Schmadtke, Orlando Sentinel: Negotiations to extend George O'Leary's contract with Central Florida have begun, with the coach expected to pass the $1-million-a-year mark.

Tim Stevens, Raleigh News & Observer: The first player in the recruiting class of 2006 to commit to North Carolina State has rescinded his commitment (registration).

Boulder Daily Camera: Colorado coach Dan Hawkins has landed his first two commitments, bringing the Buffaloes' total to 10.

Don Williams, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech's recruiting class is shaping up — on paper, at least — to be the Red Raiders' best in eight years.

Jeff Miller, Dallas Morning News: The American Football Coaches Association ended its convention without formally pursuing changes to the way that officials are assigned to bowl games, but that doesn't mean the controversy is over (registration).

Nancy Gay, San Francisco Chronicle: It doesn't appear that Fresno State coach Pat Hill will be leaving for the NFL. He has scheduled his first players' meeting of 2006 for Wednesday.

Jeff D'Alessio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Which five teams are pulling the surprises of the recruiting season? Click here to find out (registration).

Monday, January 16, 2006

Facilities? The Buck Stops Here

Oklahoma State, which received a $165 million donation from Boone Pickens, wants to put its athletic facilities on the map, including its football stadium. But it will have some doing to match the facilities of Ohio State, which includes the Ohio Stadium (above). The Horseshoe recently underwent a $200 million facelift. The Oklahoman came up with a list of campuses for facilities, and the Buckeyes rank No. 1 (registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Chris Low, Tennessean: Tennessee is headed for its lowest-rated recruiting class since Phillip Fulmer took over in 1993.

Jerry Hill, Waco Tribune-Herald: This is regarded as a banner year for prep quarterbacks in talent-rich Texas.

Carter Strickland, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Having former players in the NFL playoffs pays dividends. Just ask Georgia (registration).

Suzannah Gonzales and Dick Stanley, Austin American-Statesman: Texas fans are buying anything they can get their hands on that says "national championship." (registration).

Charles Durrenberger: Arizona Daily Star: Arizona has several high-profile prospects coming in for visits and hopes to finish its recruiting efforts with a bang.

Phil Kornbult, Columbia State: South Carolina had a huge haul of commitments over the weekend and took a big step toward filling its list of needs.

Scott Wolf, L.A. Daily News: Safety Darnell Bing is leaving a year early, becoming the fifth junior to depart USC.

Bob Wieneke, South Bend Tribune: Sam Young, an offensive line recruit from Fort Lauderdale, will decide between Notre Dame and USC.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska appears to have landed 6-foot-6 receiver Will Henry.

Jim Henry and Steve Ellis, Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State received an oral commitment from defensive end Kevin McNeil.

John Allen, Commercial Appeal: With Vince Young in the mix, NFL teams might have to rethink their draft strategy (registration).

Columnists' Corner

Doug Segrest, Birmingham News: Even with plenty of time left in the recruiting season, it's clear that Florida is going to have the No. 1 class.

Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman: It it possible that Texas, which ended one dynasty, could be starting one of its own? (registration).

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Register: Yes, Alabama finished higher in the polls than rival Auburn, but Crimson Tide fans have no reason to brag.

Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: What has Marcus Vick learned from his older brother? Not much (registration).

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Sad Story of Wyatt Sexton

Wyatt Sexton's playing career is over. Sexton was in line to become Florida State's starting quarterback in 2005, then a sequence of bizarre incidents put his childhood dream of playing for the Seminoles on hold. He was suspended last June for refusing to submit to a random drug test, then was found by police a few weeks later on a street near his Tallahassee home, rambling incoherently and claiming at times to be "God" and "the son of God." Less than a month later, his family announced that the former honors student was suffering from advanced stages of Lyme disease. Although Sexton had quietly returned to classes and the practice field as the Seminoles prepared for the Orange Bowl, doctors have advised him to end his football dream (some registration).

Odds and Ends About the Site

The time has come for another of those public service announcements to keep you updated on what is happening in this little corner of cyberspace.
First, we get plenty of complaints about all the links we post to sites that require registration. Yes, we dislike it too. But the Wiz has something that will make everybody's life easier. It's called Bug Me Not, and it's in our links list under Bypass Site Registration. Just type in the URL of the site you are looking to gain access to, and this site magically produces a user name and password. Give it a whirl.
Second, if you see something that might be of interest, please drop the Wiz an email. The address is listed in the View My Complete Profile section on the top right corner of the site. Just click email and away you go. Feedback is always appreciated! And if you want to comment on a post, don't be shy. You don't need to be registered, and that will remain the case as long as everybody maintains their cool.
Third, this blogspot stuff can be confusing, so we want to remind everybody that we have an easier URL to remember: thewizofodds.com. Tell all your friends and neighbors.
And last but not least, the Wiz would like to thank all of you for taking time out of your day to pay us a visit. Hopefully we have helped to enrich your day.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Fight On!

That drive to put up a billboard on a high-traffic road near the USC campus to clarify that the Trojans were not playing for a third consecutive national title? Well, a Trojan has answered. The site USC Dynasty went up Thursday, and the person behind it says he plans to "put up a billboard in Baton Rouge — or wherever need be — proclaiming the greatness and legitimacy of the current Trojan dynasty." Ladies and gentlemen, what we have is an old-fashioned pissing match! This Trojan fan claims to be "a successful fatcat alumnus," so there is no need to donate to the cause. He has it covered. But if you want to contribute to relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which no doubt caused hardship for countless LSU fans, he is all for it and has a plan.

They Don't Mess Around in Vegas

It took more than four years to build the Showboat's 19-story, 450-room hotel tower. It took 18 seconds to bring it down. The hotel-casino, located about three miles east of downtown Las Vegas, spent the last five years known as the Castaways. It was demolished by implosion this week, ending a 50-year run. The joint fell on hard times recently and had been closed since a change of ownership in a bankruptcy proceeding in January 2004. What will replace it remains a mystery, but in Vegas, it's out with the old, in with the new. We have a couple of links to video of the event. Needless to say, it's spectacular (some registration).

Now They Want to Can Crewcut Charlie

OK, we've taken numerous good-natured jabs at Crewcut Charlie Weis, including our concern about his health, but it is clear this guy can coach. So imagine our surprise when the studly Mighty MJD reported the existence of Can Charlie, a site dedicated to the firing of Crewcut as Notre Dame coach. A search to determine the owners of the domain hit a dead end, so the best guess is that somebody who is fearful of the Fighting Irish's rapid return to prominence under Crewcut is behind all of this. The Wiz, of course, denies any involvement.

Reporters' Notebooks

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami's hiring of Todd Berry as quarterbacks coach is fueling speculation that the Hurricanes will switch to the spread offense (registration).

Chris Low, Tennessean: One day after an $800,000 lawsuit was filed against him, Tennessee defensive tackle Tony McDaniel made himself available for the NFL draft. And former starting quarterback Rick Clausen will become a graduate assistant for the Volunteers.

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times: USC offensive lineman Fred Matua tossed his name into the NFL draft pool, following fellow juniors Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Winston Justice and Darnell Bing could be the next juniors to leave.

Andrew Bagnato, Arizona Republic: Arizona State hired Roy Wittke as offensive coordinator, and he will help decide whether Rudy Carpenter or Sam Keller starts at quarterback.

Tom Kubat, Lafayette Journal & Courier: Purdue quarterback Brandon Kirsch, who lost his starting job last season to freshman Curtis Painter, has made himself available for the NFL draft.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Several Nebraska players, including starting center Kurt Mann, are recovering from off-season surgeries.

Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema continues to build his staff, naming Dave Doeren as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach (registration).

Tom Mulhern, Wisconsin State Journal: Former Wisconsin quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton has landed a job at Iowa State, where he will coach tight ends.

Mick McGrane, San Diego Union-Tribune: New San Diego State coach Chuck Long might have to restart his search for an offensive coordinator.

Jon Malavolti, Lansing State Journal: Michigan State's John L. Smith has found a replacement for defensive line coach Lucious Selmon, who left after only one season.

Friday, January 13, 2006

She's a Brick ... House

Seriously, how desperate can they be for money at Iowa? You might recall our earlier post of officials blasting the press box off the rim of Kinnick Stadium (pretty cool video if you haven't seen it) to make way for a new one, complete with pricey skyboxes. Well, now officials are auctioning pieces, even chunks, of the junk that came down. We kid you not. You can bid on section signs, old creaky chairs from the press box, old player and coach lockers and even a four-by-five foot section of brick wall. They are so money hungry at Iowa that even individual bricks are being sold, with a certificate of authenticity, of course. Shake 'em down, shake 'em down now!

Reporters' Notebooks

Joseph Person, Columbia State: The mystery behind John Thompson's departure from South Carolina grew, with coach Steve Spurrier saying he didn't fire the defensive coordinator.

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Alex Mortensen, the Arkansas quarterback and son of ESPN's Chris Mortensen who had decided to transfer to Georgia Southern, won't be headed to that school (registration).

Jerry Hill, Waco Tribune-Herald: Baylor hired Joe Kinne as linebackers coach. He lost 80% of his liver after he was shot by the parent of a player last April.

Jason Smith, Commercial Appeal: Jocques Crawford, a talented prep running back, had recruiters trying to knock down his door. Then came an arrest and guilty plea to misdemeanor simple assault (registration).

Charles Durrenberger, Arizona Daily Star: Dana Dimel, a former head coach at Wyoming and Houston, is the new tight ends coach at Arizona, replacing Josh Heupel.

B.G. Brooks, Rocky Mountain News: Colorado scored a bit of a victory when standout kicker Mason Crosby decided to return for his senior season.

Nehlan Blog: The hype surrounding West Virginia's 2006 season is in full force, with one paper picking the team to be the national champion.

Andy Hamilton, Iowa City Press-Citizen: Kirk Ferentz isn't going anywhere. In fact, the Iowa coach was amused to see an ESPN report saying that he had removed his name from consideration for NFL head coaching openings.

Marlon W. Morgan, Commercial Appeal: Mississippi will roll out the red carpet when former Tennessee quarterback Brent Schaeffer visits the campus this weekend (registration).

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami juniors Baraka Atkins and Ryan Moore won't be leaving early to pursue professional careers (registration).

Moisekapenda Bower, Houston Chronicle: Alabama defensive ends coach Paul Randolph is headed to Rice to become defensive coordinator.

Paul Gattis, Huntsville Times: Speaking of Alabama, the Crimson Tide is prepping for a key weekend when several targeted recruits will visit.

George Schroeder, Oklahoman: Rufus Alexander, a junior linebacker and leader on the Oklahoma defense, is returning for his senior season (registration).

Randy King, Roanoke Times: Virginia Tech quarterback coach Kevin Rogers said the dismissal of quarterback Marcus Vick from the team had nothing to do with his decision to take a job with the Minnesota Vikings.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

An In-Your-Face Approach to USC Fans

This is either the biggest scam in the history of the Internet or a stroke of genius. The site Onepeat.com says it wants to set the record straight: USC was not going for three national titles in a row in last week's Rose Bowl. At least not officially. The BCS title — the one that is the recognized championship — was won two years ago by LSU. USC won the Associated Press title in 2003 and the BCS title in 2004. Believe us, it's a sore subject in Louisiana. So Onepeat is collecting donations to purchase billboard space on a high-traffic road near the USC campus (hopefully within view of the 110 freeway). The estimated cost of completing this project is $10,000, and since the site went up about four days ago, nearly $2,000 has been donated. If enough funds are raised, several billboards will be put up, including one outside of ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn. Proceed at your own risk, and thanks to reader John for giving us the tip!

Those Brilliant USC Song Girls

Now that USC has finally lost a game, rival UCLA fans are letting the Trojans have it. The good folks at Bruin Zone have posted a photo of a USC Song Girl celebrating a Texas touchdown in last week's Rose Bowl while getting an annoying stare from two of her colleagues. A few USC fans have snuck into the forum and the sides are now engaged in battle. The Wiz, watching from his seat on the 50, is very entertained. ... And just a reminder to check out the rest of our humble blog.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jeff Miller, Dallas Morning News: Grant Teaff, director of the Football Coaches Association, says a uniform replay system, most likely one including a challenge format, will be endorsed for use in Division I-A in 2006 (registration).

Randy Kenner, Knoxville News-Sentinel: Those grand plans to stage a Virginia Tech-Tennessee game before 160,000 fans at Bristol Motor Speedway appear dead.

Scott Wolf, L.A. Daily News: The losses continue to pile up for USC. LenDale White is gone, Reggie Bush is going, and Winston Justice and Darnell Bing are likely to follow. Wolf also talked with former Trojan receiver Mike Williams, who talks about "getting into it" with coach Pete Carroll before he decided to leave early.

Tom Witosky, Des Moines Register: Conference USA has completed its review of the officiating crew that worked the Outback Bowl and made several controversial calls, but the league is keeping the results confidential.

Kyle Ringo, Boulder Daily Camera: New Colorado coach Dan Hawkins, on the job for only 11 days, is trying to salvage the Buffaloes' recruiting efforts (registration).

Marlon W. Morgan, Commercial Appeal: Mississippi Madman Ed Orgeron is on a roll. He convinced studly linebacker Patrick Willis to stay for his senior season (registration).

Paul Honda, Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Score two for UCLA. The Bruins landed defensive end Micah Kia, arguably the top player in Hawaii. He will join teammate Dylan Rush, who earlier told UCLA he was on the way.

Rodney McKissic, Buffalo News: New Buffalo coach Turner Gill doesn't have much time for anything these days, even a haircut.

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Those Bowdens are at it again. Clemson's Tommy and Florida State's Bobby are butting heads on the recruiting trail (registration).

Otis Kirk, Northwest Arkansas Times: Arkansas has extended a scholarship offer to Alabama prep quarterback Carson Williams in what appears to be a backup plan should Mitch Mustain not become a Razorback.

Chad Hartley, Reno Gazette-Journal: Nevada got its 20th commitment when California prep quarterback Colin Kaepernick selected the Wolf Pack.

Phillip Marshall, Huntsville Times: Benjamin Tate, a record-setting prep running back from Maryland, is already taking classes at Auburn.

Rob Moseley, Eugene Register-Guard: Oregon is hopeful of landing top-flight cornerback Devin Ross, but the Ducks' recruiting efforts overall appear to be sailing along.