Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Parents Have Too Much Money

Private coaching for athletes is on the rise and Steve Clarkson, left, credited with developing NFL quarterbacks Matt Leinart, J.P. Losman and Ben Roethlisberger, is cashing in.

Clarkson, a quarterback coaching guru who has been called "The Dream Maker," held a camp over the weekend in Glendale, Calif.

"It's not a competition," Clarkson told the L.A. Times. "We're trying to educate. I'm trying to walk them down the potholes they'll face down the road."

Expensive potholes. There were 95 quarterbacks from 32 states attending the camp. Each participant paid $600. If our math is correct, that's $57,000.

Clarkson has scheduled at least seven camps and if the turnout is similar to this past weekend, he will take in nearly $400,000 (for 14 days work). And it might not stop there.

"By the fall, we're hoping to be overseas," he said.

This is a big business. No wonder Clarkson is aligned with Eddie DeBartolo, the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers.

Among the camp attendees was Brendan Cross, the son TV analyst and former 49er Randy Cross. Father and son flew in from Georgia to attend.

Corde Broadus, the son of rapper Snoop Dogg and expected to be a freshman quarterback at Long Beach Poly in the fall, was supposed to participate but was a no-show, according to the Times.

Contract Issue Not a Concern to Paterno

"If I've got to have a contract to keep my job here, I'm in the wrong place," Joe Paterno said.

Simply put, the Penn State coach might be in the wrong place.

Paterno talked about his contract situation over the weekend and claimed to be oblivious to speculation that this season will be his last. The 81-year-old Paterno is entering his 43rd season as Nittany Lion coach and his contract expires after the 2008 season.

"I don't even care if I get a contract," Paterno said.

A trustee told the Philadelphia Inquirer: "The university is fine with that, too, because they don't want to give him a contract, either."

The battle lines are clearly drawn with no hint of compromise on the horizon.

Paterno acknowledged he is spending more time working at home these days.

"I can walk home in 15 minutes," he said. "I can drive home in five minutes. When I leave you guys, I'll have bourbon in five minutes. There's no reason for me to be here. I have my own fax at home, my own telephone at home. I got all my tapes there. ... I can get so much more done at home.

"I hate to say this, but to a lot of people, I'm a celebrity. And, when they come in town, you'd be amazed how many people who may be Ohio State fans or Michigan fans and they're passing through and they stop in and say, 'Can we get our picture taken, or can you autograph this for me?' I can't get my work done."

Spring Reports

Our first look at spring games around the country:

Auburn: Start spreading the news. The Tigers took the gloves off and displayed their no-huddle, no-rest, no-time-for-mistakes spread offense.

Miami: Robert Marve remains the front-runner to become the starting quarterback, but his receivers continue to drop passes. Running backs Graig Cooper (fast) and Javarris James (strong) are a force.

Mississippi State: There are questions about the offense after a spring game that featured five interceptions, a boatload of overthrown passes and a 6-0 score.

Texas: New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp's first-team unit was a hit, giving up only one touchdown.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reporters' Notebooks

Richard Sandomir, New York Times: A Michigan judge dismissed a lawsuit over the exhumation of the remains of George Gipp, but the legal squabble is far from over.

Iliana Limon, Orlando Sentinel: Thousands of friends and family members crowded Lely High to pay tribute to Ereck Plancher, the Central Florida receiver who died March 18 after an offseason conditioning workout on campus.

Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News: Mike McKenzie, who was a central figure in former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione's secret newsletter scandal, is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at a College Station journalism convention.

Bob Thomas, Florida Times-Union: Bobby Bowden and Lou Holtz spun tales and anecdotes and offered plenty of advice over the course of a 90-minute discussion about coaching philosophy at Florida State.

Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger: Construction is well underway on phase one of the two-part renovation of Rutgers Stadium that will eventually raise the capacity to close to 56,000.

Rob Oller, Columbus Dispatch: Rich Rodriguez needs to be more like Bo Schembechler.

Rick Scoppe, Greenville News: Police dropped two charges against South Carolina offensive guard Kevin Young.

Jim Mashek, Biloxi Sun Herald: Two Mississippi State players were dismissed from school after their arrests near a gunfire incident on campus.

Cincinnati Enquirer: Terrill Byrd, Cincinnati's All-America defensive tackle, has been suspended for the Bearcats' Aug. 28 season opener against Eastern Kentucky. He was cited for smoking marijuana on March 5.

Gridiron Bash Is Busted by the NCAA

ZZ Top won't be coming to College Station. Alan Jackson in Tuscaloosa? Not going to happen. Kelly Clarkson in Iowa City? Forget about it.

The NCAA has thrown the flag on the Gridiron Bash, a series of concerts, pep rallies and fan activities coinciding with spring football games at 16 schools. Officials are in the process of canceling all the gigs and the Gridiron Bash website says ticket refund information will be available shortly.

Some schools raised questions about whether participation of players in a pep rally at the concerts would constitute a violation of NCAA rules prohibiting special benefits for student-athletes.

"It is against NCAA rules for student-athletes to participate in a for-profit venture," said Charles Bloom, the Southeastern Conference associate commissioner for media relations.

Gridiron Bash was the brainchild of Shawn Garrity, an event promoter who lettered in football at Syracuse in 1986, and his friend, former California All-American running back Chuck Muncie. It's not clear why Garrity's group — New York-based MSL Sports and Entertainment — did not clear specifics with the NCAA before proceeding with the concert plans.

The suspicion is that MSL could take a financial hit, given that top-flight acts would seemingly have financial guarantees to guard against cancellations — especially cancellations close to the concert dates.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Boren Possibly Headed to Ohio State

If Justin Boren's departure from Michigan wasn't stunning enough, now comes the likelihood that the offensive lineman will be transferring to rival Ohio State in the fall.

Boren, an expected starter, left in a huff, saying that the "family values" he had grown accustomed to while playing for Michigan had "eroded in just a few months" under Rich Rodriguez.

Then Boren's father, Mike, a former linebacker at Michigan, told the Columbus Dispatch: "Ohio State would be a good fit for Justin, and that's why he's not at Michigan anymore, because Michigan is not the right fit for him."

If the Buckeyes lock up Justin, then his brother Zach, a highly rated fullback prospect out of Pickerington, Ohio, is likely to follow.

"I'm not going to have two kids at two universities," said Mike, who is one of those dads that likes to call the shots.

A story that appeared last Sept. 28 in the Detroit Free Press detailed the relationship between Mike and Justin.

"In high school at halftime he used to be at the gate, and if I was having a bad game, he'd just rip into me on the way to the locker room. ... It got ugly, a couple times the sheriffs wanted to escort me away," Justin said.

Mike, who runs a landscaping business, said Justin would often call from Ann Arbor to see how things were going back home.

"I say, 'Justin, don't worry about me or our business,' " Mike said. "He's more focused on here than him playing football. It's 'Dad, what did you do for the company today?' I say, 'What the hell did you do to become a better player?' "

Nonetheless, Boren's decision sent the locals searching for the real reason behind his departure from Michigan. And it left Rodriguez defending his program.

He told the Ann Arbor News: "Anybody who would make any comment about our values is way off-base. ... My players and my coaches are my family. They're coached that way. But we're not going to apologize for being demanding. We told that to the players. We also told them our job is to take them some place they can't take themselves, on the field and off the field, and I think the majority of our players understand that."

Tuberfield Trailer

Auburn has won six in a row against Alabama, and Tiger fans are making the most of it. Thanks to Deep South Sports.

Reporters' Notebooks

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: Representatives of June Jones are claiming the coach had a verbal agreement to be let out of his contract with Hawaii without a financial penalty. Hawaii says he owes the school $400,008.

Michael Rothstein, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: More trouble at Notre Dame. The women's basketball team had Crewcut Charlie Weis' players work out with the team. Rumor has it the women won the scrimmage game.

Mike Perrin, Birmingham News: Former Alabama center Roger Shultz is still going strong on the reality television show "The Biggest Loser: Couples." His new problem is that he no longer has a job.

Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Rich Rodriguez might not be the only coach bringing the spread-option offense to the Big Ten in 2008. Bret Bielema is talking about adding elements of it to complement Wisconsin's base offense.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It says here that the Southeastern Conference is second to none when it comes to football.

Jake Trotter, Oklahoman: It will cost Oklahoma $436,724 for air charter services to road games this fall. A separate deal to fly the band to Seattle for the Sooners' game against Washington will cost $148,504.

Dirk Facer, Deseret Morning News: Utah is getting new uniforms. It's part of the supplier switch from Nike to UnderArmour.

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: San Diego State will suffer a reduction of six scholarships over the next two seasons because of a fourth consecutive year of poor Academic Progress Rates. Thanks to Mike.

Brandon George, Dallas Morning News: The NCAA has granted a waiver filed by Texas Tech on behalf of defensive tackle Chris Perry, making the former Miami Hurricane immediately eligible to participate in the fall.

Columbus Dispatch: We'd like to see more of this. Ohio State and Tennessee have agreed to a home-and-home series. Unfortunately, it won't start until 2018. Thanks to Trent.

Bob Holt, Northwest Arkansas Times: The Arkansas-Louisiana State game will be played on the Friday after Thanksgiving for the 13th year in a row.

Alex Symonds, Daily Illini: Illinois' Ron Zook: “Everyone is predicting that the University of Illinois will come back down to earth this year and [last season] was kind of a fluke, it was a hit-and-miss, and honestly, as a coaching staff, we take that as a challenge."

Terry Hutchens, Indianapolis Star: Indiana is installing a no-huddle offense during spring drills.

Dan Collins, Winston-Salem Journal: Wake Forest offensive guard Chris DeGeare, who started nine games last season, has been ruled academically ineligible for 2008.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

'Great Sense of Urgency' at Notre Dame

He's back! After a rather quiet winter that saw Crewcut Charlie Weis bag yet another top-flight recruiting class, the big guy was back on the big stage, addressing the media throng that descended upon South Bend for his state of the Notre Dame address.

There is a "great sense of urgency" in South Bend, Crewcut said. A 3-9 season will do that.

Weis, the wily coach that he is, promised a new level of toughness around South Bend. That toughness will be reflected in each and every practice. The South Bend Tribune summed it up this way: "Running backs will be taken to the ground. Blocks will be carried out to the whistle. Tackling, not two-hand touch, will be the rule."

But Weis' biggest concern is Jimmy Clausen, the hotshot quarterback from California who played like a freshman — a high school freshman — last season.

"I think our biggest issue is that nothing happens to Jimmy," Crewcut said. "That's probably the thing that could ruin our practice the easiest if something would happen to him."

It was also revealed that Weis invited groups of players over to Casa Crewcut for dinner in the offseason. "The man can cook," safety David Bruton said.


Clausen's weight has ballooned from 194 to 212 and Weis said it was lean muscle gain. Michael Rothstein of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette got a good look at Clausen and wrote that "the California kid doesn't look to be much bigger than last season."

Rothstein later writes: "One of Jimmy Clausen's only red jersey counterparts — sophomore walk-on Nick Lezynski of Newton, Pa. — looks awful small for a quarterback. Well, he actually looks like a pee-wee player in his No. 12 Irish jersey. It could be because he's all of 5-foot-8, 157 pounds."

Apparently Lezynski missed dessert at the Weis' household.

Clemson Recruit With a Large Wad of Cash?

Yes, Clemson recruit Kenneth Page could have some explaining to do. According to the site Brahsome, Page posted this image on his MySpace page and "it came down about as quickly as it went up." Unfortunately for Page, somebody grabbed it during those few precious moments.

Page, an offensive guard from A.C. Flora High in Columbia, S.C., was graded a four-star recruit by Rivals. He picked the Tigers over North Carolina, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Tennessee. Golly gee, wonder why? As Brahsome points out, those are "straight-from-the-bank $20 bills."

There was the usual B.S. "news" conference on Jan. 25 when Page selected Clemson.

After examining the body of evidence, Brahsome writes that "it’s pretty hard to argue that it’s not in fact Kenneth in the photo with the bills. It’s entirely possible that Page just has a really rich grandmother who likes to hand out wrapped bills in plastic bags, but either way, you gotta figure Kenneth and Lil’ Bobby [Tommy Bowden] got some explaining to do."

Thanks to Carr for sending this our way.

Reporters' Notebooks

Glenn Guilbeau, Shreveport Times: Louisiana State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is back on the team. "He's no longer suspended," Les Miles said. "He's on the team, but not with playing privilege or practice privilege." But Perrilloux is expected to be back practicing before spring drills end.

Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News: Offensive lineman Justin Boren said "family values have eroded" at Michigan, leading to his decision to quit the team.

Greg Stoda, Palm Beach Post: College football, pay attention. Borrow a page from March Madness and start a playoff.

Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register: Iowa's Kirk Ferentz wants to add an administrative position called "player development director" after a tumultuous year that saw 14 players either arrested or charged with crimes since last April.

Rochelle Olson, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Former Minnesota cornerback Dominic Jones' sexual assault trial is set to begin on Monday, with the player expected to say he didn't have sex with the woman pressing charges and that she agreed to his actions. According to a court filing, Jones merely masturbated on the woman and did not have intercourse with her.

Jorge Milian, Palm Beach Post: A sports information director for the Miami Hurricanes was fired from his job and is under criminal investigation after police said child pornography was found on his university-issued computer. He has not been charged in the case.

Ira Schoffel, Miami Herald: Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford is out of spring drills after suffering a freak injury to his right knee in a scrimmage. He will have surgery and is expected to need four weeks to recover.

Chip Brown, Dallas Morning News: Message boards have been rife with rumors that Texas reserve quarterbacks Sherrod Harris and G.J. Kinne are considering transferring. "Neither one of them has said anything about it or discussed it," Mack Brown said.

Mike Knobler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: There's a noticeable difference at Georgia Tech practices. Gone is the colorful language of defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, who left for Notre Dame.

Clif LeBlance, Columbia State: South Carolina is in a dispute over land used for a farmers market. The university wants to purchase the parcel for football parking.

Tom Murphy, Northwest Arkansas Times: Arkansas linebacker Freddie Fairchild was suspended indefinitely after he was charged with third-degree battery and second-degree false imprisonment.

Larry Vaught, Advocate-Messenger: Kentucky's Rich Brooks did nothing to downplay expectations, saying he has a more athletic team returning and one that is better at linebacker and the secondary. He also said this is the best offensive line he has had during his tenure at Lexington.

Brian Christopherson, Lincoln Journal Star: Bo Pelini's first practice at Nebraska was called "very intense" by linebacker Phillip Dillard.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Glass Is Half Full at Minnesota

That surge of energy you feel as spring practices get rolling across the country? Well, it's not coming from Minneapolis, where interest in the Minnesota football program has hit an all-time low.

When they talk about raising the bar in Minnesota, that means lifting the bar off the ground. The Gophers were a not-so-golden 1-11 in 2007, with overtime needed to get the 1.

"I want to make everyone aware of what our goals are. That's a Big Ten championship and going to the Rose Bowl," coach Tim Brewster said, offering no timetable as to when the Gophers might next visit Pasadena.

Writes Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Had Brother Brewster been speaking at the Rotary Club or VFW, his remarks would have been punctuated by several 'amens!' But the press is a tougher sell, although several among us were beginning to get that glassy-eyed look. Instead, we were more interested in the status of that defense, which leaked like the roof of a Guatemalan shack last season."

Brewster said recruiting had picked up and promised the defense would be better in 2008.

Powers, again: "[Brewster] and his assistant coaches are coming off a recruiting period that saw them log a quarter of a million travel miles over six weeks. Basically, they were searching for someone who could tackle. And by many objective accounts, they did pretty well. Of 45 official visits to Minnesota, 31 of those recruits signed on to become Golden Gophers. Twenty of those are defensive players.

"Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge there was no adult entertainment involved during any of those visits. That's a definite step up. It also means there's a lot more room for the Minnesota Vikings to spread out and get comfortable in the local strip clubs."

One of Brewster's recruits, Keven Whaley, is recovering after being shot in a leg last Friday outside a Virginia Beach nightclub around 2 a.m.

"People say what [Whaley's] doing out at that time of night? He's on spring break," Brewster said. "I don't know the details. All I know is Kevin Whaley is a great kid. . . . Whether or not Kevin did anything wrong. I can't say that at all. I wouldn't say that at all."

It's Just Pocket Change to Saban

What does Nick Saban think about being second-highest paid coach in the Southeastern Conference? "I could care less," he told Ian R. Rapoport of the Birmingham News.

Louisiana State's Les Miles took over the top spot when his new deal surpassed Saban's by a mere $1,000. Of course, when you're pulling down $3.75 million, what's a thousand here or there?

Rapoport asked Saban: "You're not, like, really, really, really upset about it?"

Responded Saban: "Doesn't bother me a bit."

The Alabama coach then said, "Ya know, I'm really pleased and happy for any coach that does well in this profession and Les Miles has done an outstanding job. He won the national championship, he's done a fantastic job with the record he's had since he's been there, and we're pleased and happy for him. It doesn't affect us in any way."

Thanks to Geaux to Hell Saban for the image.

Reporters' Notebooks

Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press: Are Michigan practices too intense? Wolverine offensive lineman Justin Boren, who was projected to be a starter this fall, has left the team. He complained about the intensity of drills after the first practice this spring. Plus, Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman, provost Teresa Sullivan and athletic director Bill Martin issued a statement in response to the Ann Arbor News' series on academic practices for athletes.

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: ESPN submitted a bid to the NCAA bowl certifying board to launch the St. Petersburg Bowl. The game would feature a matchup of Conference USA and Big East teams and would become the sixth bowl run and operated by ESPN. Other ESPN bowls: Las Vegas, Hawaii, Armed Forces, and New Mexico.

Bryan Mullen, Tennessean: Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer on his backup offensive linemen: "They're soft. That group of guys, they're soft 300-pounders. They should be big, ugly tough guys. Right now they're not very tough."

San Antonio Express-News: The Alamo Bowl has landed a prime TV slot — Dec. 29 on ESPN and unopposed by any college or NFL game on other networks.

Rick Scoppe and Bart Wright, Greenville News: South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has been suspended from all team activities until Aug. 15 after been charged with underage drinking last weekend. Trouble is becoming commonplace with the Gamecocks, going back to Lou Holtz and continuing with Steve Spurrier.

Corey Clark, Tallahassee Democrat: For $50, you can hear Holtz and Bobby Bowden talk football on Saturday in Tallahassee.

Dave Reardon, Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Despite an appearance in a Bowl Championship Series game, Hawaii's athletic department could finish with a budget deficit.

Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida officials say that the offseason workout before Ereck Plancher's death complied with NCAA rules.

Randy King, Roanoke Times: Count Frank Beamer among the injured at Virginia Tech. He had a full replacement surgery on his left knee 27 days ago. "Other than a knee that won't bend, I'm doing good," he said on the eve of spring drills.

Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Heisman Trophy candidate Beanie Wells, recovering from surgery to his left hand, should be healthy when Ohio State begins spring drills on Thursday.

Marc Morehouse, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Iowa has much work to do. The Hawkeyes, a pedestrian 19-18 the past three seasons, are looking to revive an offense that was last in the Big Ten in scoring in 2007.

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: Sophomores Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates are the leading contenders to become Iowa State's quarterback.

Don Markus, Baltimore Sun: Chris Turner, who took over last season when Jordan Steffy was sidelined because of a concussion, and Josh Portis, who was suspended after getting caught cheating on a quiz, will battle to become Maryland's starter at quarterback this spring.

Bryant-Jon Anteola, Fresno Bee: Five questions facing Fresno State as it prepares for spring drills.

Mick McGrane, San Diego Union-Tribune: Could be tough times ahead for San Diego State, coming off its ninth non-winning season in a row. The Aztecs must replace eight starters on offense, including quarterback Kevin O'Connell.

Brandon C. Williams, Houston Chronicle: San Houston State's Rhett Bomar — the former Oklahoma quarterback — is still recovering from a knee injury suffered last fall.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Defending Champion LSU Meets Its Match

Quarterback Brett Basanez, above, threw one touchdown pass and ran for another and the Northwestern all-stars held on to defeat defending national champion Louisiana State, 24-20.


This is possible through What If Sports, a site that allows you to pit your team against any in college football history. We haven't had the time to toy around with this yet, but a reader over at Lake The Posts did and he matched the Wildcats against the Tigers.

You can check the box score by clicking here. Everything is there but the attendance.

Reporters' Notebooks

Rod Ohira, Honolulu Advertiser: Mounting legal problems for Hawaii defensive back Keenan Jones, who was charged with unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and second-degree assault, both felony offenses. Jones' problems apparently started when he viewed 13 porn movies through his girlfriend's cable provider, resulting in a bill of over $300.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, a likely starter in the fall, was cited for underage drinking. He's the seventh Gamecock player arrested or cited since Dec. 31. This time Garcia, who was arrested twice last year, might get the boot from university officials.

Bill Wagner, Annapolis Capital: Navy, which has gone to five consecutive bowl games, could be scrambling for a postseason slot if eligible in 2008 after an agreement with the Poinsettia Bowl expired.

Ed McGranahan, Greenville News: Clemson is suddenly running out of tailbacks. James Davis suffered a shoulder injury in drills and Rendrick Taylor, a receiver who had a tryout as a linebacker, has been moved to tailback. Where's Ray Ray McElrathbey when you need him?

Jake Trotter, Oklahoman: Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles, who was said to be dazzling coaches and teammates this spring, suffered a broken collarbone and will be sidelined until summer conditioning drills.

Joseph Goodman, Miami Herald: Turns out that Florida's Carl Moore, the hotshot junior college receiver whose recruitment became the focus of an investigation, is not as fast as advertised by Rivals and is battling for a starting job.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: These are the worst of times at Washington, where the football and basketball teams have suffered losing records for the first time in 50 years.

Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida opened spring drills a week after the death of receiver Ereck Plancher.

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times: There would appear to be plenty of work ahead for USC, which opens spring drills with only four starters on offense and seven on defense.

Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News: Mike Sherman starts his first spring at Texas A&M with 15 starters returning from a team that finished 7-6.

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech must replace only one starter on offense and three on defense as it begins drills.

Pete Pelegrin, Miami Herald: Florida International coach Mario Cristobal wants to use the spring to build on the Panthers' winning streak, which stands at one.

Jim Benton, Rocky Mountain News: Steve Fairchild has already put his thumbprint on Colorado State, which opens spring drills Tuesday.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ryan, Brohm Are Wonderlic Wizards

The stars of this year's Wonderlic test, which is administered to NFL prospects at the combine, appear to be Matt Ryan of Boston College and Brian Brohm of Louisville. The quarterbacks, regarded as first-round selections, each scored 32 out of a possible 50.

Joe Flacco of Delaware scored 27 and Chad Henne of Michigan had a 22. Flacco and Henne are thought to be second-round choices in the draft, scheduled for April 26-27 in New York.
Wonderlic scores are often controversial. Two years ago, Texas' Vince Young reportedly scored a 6, then took the test a second time and scored 16. Last year, Florida's Chris Leak reportedly scored an 8.

The sometimes embarrassing scores have led to heightened efforts by the NFL to crack down on Wonderlic leaks, but the Chicago Tribune was the first paper to published scores of several top prospects for the 2008 draft.

Among linemen, Vanderbilt's Chris Williams scored a 32, followed by Pittsburgh's Jeff Otah (28), USC's Sam Baker (27), Michigan's Jake Long (26), Boston College's Gosder Cherilus (25) and Virginia's Brandon Albert (23).

Among linebackers, Tennessee's Jerod Mayo had a 26 and USC's Keith Rivers scored 16. Miami's Kenny Phillips, thought to be the top safety, also had a 16.

Reporters' Notebooks

Michael Elkon, Braves & Birds: What's this? A Georgia blogger acknowledges the Bulldogs aren't exactly road warriors when it comes to nonconference games. Thanks to Get The Picture, who has been going toe to toe with Elkon over this. A reminder that Georgia has traveled the fewest miles (358 to be exact) of any Division I-A team for nonconference games the past 10 seasons.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Who has the toughest nonconference schedule in the Pacific 10 for 2008? It's USC with a game at Virginia and home games against Ohio State and Notre Dame. Washington is second with home games against Brigham Young, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.

Bret Bloomquist, El Paso Times: Fred Rouse, touted as the nation's No. 1 receiver coming out of high school and a starter as a freshman at Florida State, is leaving Texas El Paso because of personal reasons.

Sean D. Hamill, New York Times: Welcome to Jeannette, Pa., which once produced 70% of the world's glass. Now the town is better known as the home to Terrelle Pryor.

Dena Potter, Associated Press: A study to be published in the Southern Economic Journal will examine the "Flutie Effect" to see if it is more than a myth.

Mike Knobler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Paul Johnson era is set to begin at Georgia Tech, with the Yellow Jackets scheduled to run through their first spring practice.

Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh, with 15 starters returning, opens spring drills expecting to be ranked in the top 25 in several preseason polls.

Bernard Fernandez, Philadelphia Daily News: Penn State's defense appeared to be a strength entering 2008, but off-the-field issues have thinned the Nittany Lions' ranks.

Heath Urie, Boulder Daily Camera: Two Colorado players were charged with felony assault in connection with two different off-campus incidents.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Reporters' Notebooks

Matt Markey, Toledo Blade: Traffic to the official Internet home of the Ohio State Buckeyes quadrupled last Wednesday in the hour that Terrelle Pryor made his announcement that he would sign with the Buckeyes.

Patrick Wilson and Steve Stone, Virginian-Pilot: Minnesota running back recruit Kevin Whaley was shot in the leg outside a Virginia Beach nightclub.

Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register: Iowa athletes pictured unfavorably on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook could face disciplinary action by the university under a new policy, athletic director Gary Barta said.

Quwan Spears, Sacramento Bee: Running back James Montgomery, who announced last week his intention to transfer from California, says Washington State, Florida and an unnamed Southeastern Conference team currently top his list.

Rick Scoppe, Greenville News: Receivers Dion Lecorn and Matt Clements had their suspensions lifted by South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, who said suspended cornerback Carlos Thomas "will probably be back next week."

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: Questions and answers entering spring drills at Notre Dame, which begin Wednesday.

Anwar S. Richardson, Tampa Tribune: Want to become a sports agent? It's not as glorious as it appears.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Paterno, Penn State Could Be Ugly Divorce

Joe Paterno is digging in his cleats and appears ready to engage in a power struggle with Penn State president Graham Spanier, believing his status and clout will eventually result in a contract extension.

Paterno, 81, who has not talked with the media since Dec. 30, the day after Penn State's 24-17 victory against Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, is scheduled to hold a press conference next week before the start of spring practice. He'll face questions about his contract, which expires at the end of the 2008 season.

Two trustees told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that negotiations regarding a possible contract extension or succession plan for Paterno have not gone smoothly. And Spanier, like Paterno, appears ready for a fight.

"There's nothing new to report," Spanier said before the trustees' meeting in the nation's capital. "And there are no talks set up for the foreseeable future."

The sides have played this game before. In 2004, Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and two other high-ranking Penn State officials showed up on Paterno's doorstep and urged him to stop coaching, only months after Paterno was given a four-year extension with less than a year left on his old deal.

While Paterno eventually won that battle, the result could be different this time, creating the possibility of an ugly end to his 58 years at Penn State, the last 42 as head coach.

Of note in all of this: Penn State is 32-32 against Big Ten competition since the 2000 season and has finished higher than fourth in the conference only once in the past decade.

Beamer Looking for a Few Good Men

Frank Beamer's Virginia Tech Hokies are suddenly looking awfully thin at running back.

Beamer dismissed Branden Ore from the team in midweek. Now comes word that two other running backs are no longer members of the team.

Norm Wood of the Newport News Daily Press reports that Devin Radford and Elan Lewis are gone, as is linebacker Matt Wright.

That leaves Kenny Lewis, a 5-foot-9, 205-pound junior, as the team's most experienced runner. He has 111 carries for 420 yards and six touchdowns.

Reporters' Notebooks

Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida's George O'Leary talked publicly for the first time since Ereck Plancher died, calling the freshman receiver a "good kid" and "19-year-old angel."

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: O'Leary was helpless as he knelt over Plancher and tried to keep him from dying. He held his player tightly and implored over and over, "Squeeze my hand! Squeeze my hand!"

Kansas City Star: The Kansas basketball team has a big fan in football coach Mark Mangino, who was hand for the Jayhawks' first-round tournament game in Omaha.

Ricky Treon, Daily Texan: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium is an honorable name, but it's certainly not a menacing one.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: South Carolina receiver Dion Lecorn requested a jury trial on a simple marijuana charge stemming from his arrest last month.

Michael Hasch, Tribune-Review: Charges of defiant trespass and disorderly conduct against Penn State linebacker Tyrell Sales were dropped.

Mike Joseph, Centre Daily Times: Political football: Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, cornerback Lydell Sargeant and former receiver Kenny Jackson were on hand at the opening of the Barack Obama headquarters in State College.

Associated Press: Penn State students will have a new class offering this fall: "Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media."

Jeff White, Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia, which should be building on the success of a nine-win season and a Gator Bowl appearance, instead has holes at key positions and questions everywhere.

Here is today's mystery link. Thanks to Tom Kirkendall.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trustees Expected to Discuss Paterno

Will Joe Paterno be swept out as Penn State coach after the 2008 season? We could have the answer by the weekend.

The Penn State Board of Trustees is expected to address Paterno's future during meetings Thursday and Friday at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

"It'll definitely be on the menu," a trustee told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Paterno, 81, has fallen out of favor with university president Graham Spanier and key trustees, in part because of an embarrassing string of incidents involving the coach and his players.

"He's always saying that this is what he likes to do, that he doesn't play golf or have any other hobbies," one trustee told the Patriot-News last month. "Well, that isn't our problem. I think if he wasn't the coach, he'd still be as busy as ever."

Yet another Penn State player was arrested last weekend. Tyrell Sales, a starting linebacker, was charged with defiant trespass and disorderly conduct after he was asked to leave a St. Patrick's Day party. Six Penn State players are currently suspended from the team pending the outcome of various off-the-field incidents.

Last October, Paterno was involved in an incident described as road rage. The incident was first reported on Blue White Illustrated, the Penn State Rivals board, and quickly spread through the blogosphere before being picked up by the mainstream media.

Paterno eventually acknowledged there was an incident and blamed the messengers, saying he "did not give [the other driver] the middle finger, even if I knew what that meant."

Purdue's Joe Tiller, who is retiring at the end of the 2008 season, added to the speculation earlier this month when he acknowledged recently talking retirement with Paterno.

Beamer Gives Ore the Boot

Branden Ore, Virginia Tech's leading rusher the past two seasons who was entering his final season of eligibility, has been kicked off the team by Frank Beamer.

It's unclear exactly what Ore did to get booted, but he has had a series of academic and off-the-field troubles.

In 2006, coaches told Ore to spend the spring semester at home to rehab from shoulder surgery and refocus on academics. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Ore spent the semester working at a 7-Eleven warehouse.

Ore was so out of shape when camp started last fall that he was demoted to third team. Then he was late for one of the Hokies' bowl practices and was penalized by being suspended for the first quarter of the Orange Bowl, which the Hokies lost to Kansas, 24-21.

Later in January, Ore testified in a year-old federal drug case. A Cadillac driven by friend Tony Majette was pulled over in June 2006 in Blacksburg. A search found about 23 grams of crack in the car. Ore was in the front passenger seat.

The tailback testified that Majette handed him a bag of crack when the police ordered the driver to stop. Ore said he pushed the bag aside. Majette was convicted of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Reporters' Notebooks

Kyle Hightowner Iliana Limon, Orlando Sentinel: Initial autopsy results performed on Central Florida receiver Ereck Plancher were inconclusive about the cause of his death.

Joseph Goodman, Miami Herald: Emmanuel Moody, the transfer running back from USC, is having trouble adjusting to Florida's offense.

Michael DiRocco, Florida Times-Union: Florida offensive lineman James Wilson is back on the field for spring drills, but says there is still a chance he will transfer this summer.

Jonathan Okanes, Contra Costa Times: Running back James Montgomery said his decision to leave Cal was simply because "it wasn't the right fit."

Christy Gutowski, Daily Herald: Former Purdue linebacker Kyle Williams, who is already serving a 37-year prison sentence for attacking two women on campus, was sentenced to another 10 years for a similar attack in a Chicago suburb.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Five Southeastern Conference players who could make a big impact in the fall.

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: June Jones, who disdained even wearing socks and once showed up at a wedding reception in black sweats and a ball cap when he was at Hawaii, is dressed for success at Southern Methodist.

Sean D. Hamill, New York Times: As expected, Terrelle Pryor announced he would attend Ohio State, selecting the Buckeyes over Michigan.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not. Here is today's mystery link. Thanks to Randball.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's Elementary, My Dear Watson

Former Michigan defensive tackle Gabe Watson once dreamed of being an architect. He even attended a seminar at Michigan for prospective architecture students. But after being told of the major's academic demands, he said he decided "that probably isn't realistic."

"No way am I going to be in class 14 hours a day [and] balance that with athletics," he recalled.

Watson's academic record was shaky at best. He often flirted with ineligibility, failed three classes and departed school 35 credits shy of the 120 needed to complete a bachelor's degree in general studies, according to the Ann Arbor News, which concluded its four-part series examining the relationship between academics and athletics at Michigan.

Fortunately, Watson's pursuit of a career in the NFL has paid off. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2006 and became a full-time starter in 2007.

"God has blessed me now," he said, smiling. "I'm in the NFL."

Hawaii Wants Jones to Pony Up

Move over Rich Rodriguez. You're not the only coach who owes money to a past employer.

Hawaii is asking June Jones to fork over $400,008 it says is owed for Jones' departure to Southern Methodist. Hawaii says the payment was due within 60 days after Jones' departure, and that window closed March 7.

Leigh Steinberg, Jones' agent, told the Honolulu Advertiser: "We're attempting to work it out. We've been in discussions [and] we're working on a resolution."

In agent-speak, we believe this to mean that Jones doesn't want to pay the full amount. Stay tuned. ...

What's Left of the Orange Bowl

Joe Ovies of 850 The Buzz in Raleigh posted this image taken Tuesday of the Orange Bowl being torn down. It was sent to him by his father. Writes Ovies: "The strange thing is, it doesn't look any different from when I was there in November for N.C. State’s visit to Miami. R.I.P. OB, you lovable dump."

Reporters' Notebooks

Joseph Santoliquito, Philadelphia Daily News: The Terrelle Pryor nonsense is about to end. He's expected to narrow his list of schools to one and sources say Ohio State is Pryor's choice.

Jonathan Okanes, Contra Costa Times: Tailback James Montgomery, listed No. 1 on California's depth chart entering spring drills, has quit the team and will transfer. Washington, Florida, Oregon or Fresno State are possible destinations.

Dave Reardon, Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Hawaii has reinstated quarterback Tyler Graunke, who was suspended for academic and behavior issues.

Donnie Webb, Syracuse Standard: New Syracuse offensive coordinator Mitch Browning reportedly told his linemen, "I'm not going to play fat people."

Andrew Astleford, Columbia Missourian: Missouri linebacker Marquis Booker, who was arrested on a charge of unlawful use of a weapon on Sunday morning, was dismissed from the team.

Scott Cacciola, Commerical Appeal: Mississippi's Houston Nutt on linebackers Jonathan Cornell, Ashlee Palmer, Chris Bowers and Allen Walker, who have looked good during running drills. "Can they tackle a marshmallow? I don't know."

Paul Buker, Oregonian: He asked Oregon State's Mike Riley if he had filled out his NCAA tournament brackets "and he gave me this horrified look. I guess the [Rick] Neuheisel thing has impacted staffs all over the country."

Mike Casazza, Charleston Daily Mail: West Virginia's Bill Stewart has made the big time. He's profiled in the cover story of the latest edition of West Virginia alumni magazine.

Joe Rienzi, Oracle: South Florida receiver Colby Erskin, who sat out last season because of a torn ACL suffered during the first week of fall practice, will likely miss the entire 2008 season as well. Erskin tore the same ACL he did last fall during spring break.

Jay Hinton, Deseret Morning News: Utah State coach Brent Guy might have enough players to finally have a spring game.

Tragedy Strikes Central Florida

Ereck Plancher, a Central Florida freshman receiver, collapsed after participating in the Knights' final voluntary offseason workout before Thursday's scheduled start of spring practice.

Central Florida trainers administered CPR and then attached a defibrillator to Plancher's body to try and shock his heart back into rhythm. Emergency medical personnel arrived and Plancher was loaded into a waiting ambulance.

But Plancher didn't make it. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

"Distraught is not the word for coach [George] O'Leary right now," athletic department spokesman Joe Hornstein told the Orlando Sentinel. "He's devastated."

Central Florida has postponed the start of spring drills.

Plancher is the fourth football from a Florida university to die after a workout since 2001. South Florida running back Keeley Dorsey collapsed and died Jan. 17, 2007. Florida freshman Eraste Autin died in July 2001 and Florida State freshman Devaughn Darling collapsed and died in February 2001.

The Sentinel has several related links, including the 911 call, a column by Mike Bianchi, Alan Schmadtke's On Campus blog entry, a photo gallery and college football deaths this decade.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

General Studies a Safe Harbor at Michigan

If you're playing football at Michigan, chances are you're a general studies major. Of 18 recruited scholarship players in the 2004 freshman class who remained at Michigan long enough to decide on a degree program, 17 were in general studies.

Day three of a four-part series by the Ann Arbor News also revealed that of the 74 recruited scholarship players on the 2004 team, 58 pursued an academic course of general studies.

Finding a program like general studies among schools Michigan cites in a variety of comparisons is not easy. A similar discipline is offered at Indiana and 13 players were in the program — far less than the 34 players currently enrolled in general studies at Michigan.

"Look, if you're asking me is it a little more difficult to maintain academic progress as a biology student, or as a general studies student, what do you think the answer is?" says John Bruno, Ohio State's faculty representative to the NCAA.

But other schools have clusters of athletes in pursuit of a single type of degree. At Northwestern, 32 players are majoring in communication studies. At Iowa, 30 players are majoring in the department of health and sport studies.

Reaction and related stories to the series:

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune: Isn't it right to expect more from a university that tied with UCLA for 25th nationally in U.S. News & World Report's '08 rankings?

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune: Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman declined to be interviewed in person or on the phone for the series, but offered to answer questions by email. The paper said no and "came off as churlish by insisting on setting the rules for how she was allowed to comment."

Detroit Free Press: Charles Woodson, who helped the Wolverines to the national championship in 1997, has donated $150,000 to create two scholarships at Michigan. One scholarship is for an incoming freshman in the kinesiology department and the other is university-wide in honor of Woodson's mother, Georgia.

Saban Gone, Certainly Not Forgotten at LSU

This should be the best of times at Louisiana State, with the Tigers basking in the glow of a national championship. But Paul Finebaum of the Mobile Press-Register writes that LSU fans remain hung up on Nick Saban.

Finebaum points to LSU boosting Les Miles' salary to $3.751 million, $1,000 more than Alabama's Saban. Writes Finebaum:

"Nobody over in Louisiana cares about Saban, right? It sounds more like being on the schoolyard in third grade when some kid pushes another, saying: 'My daddy can beat up your daddy.' How petty."

He adds:

"Why can't they embrace Miles? Perhaps the fact he desperately wanted out to leave for Michigan — that is until the story blew up on ESPN — might have something to do with the uneasiness and insecurity.

"Since taking over Saban's recruits, Miles is 34-6 and has finished No. 5, 3 and 1 in the final AP poll.

"Understandably, LSU fans are still obsessed with Saban and queasy with Miles.

"LSU fans may still yearn for the day when Saban roamed the sidelines. They remain embarrassed about Miles — even with the national title — like family members regard the crazy uncle stowed away in the attic.

"Don't forget people: Les Miles makes $1,000 more than Saban. Ain't it great to be on top?

"Nick Saban has been gone nearly four years. When will LSU fans get a life?"

Baylor Gets Rights to

The National Arbitration Forum, which handles domain name disputes, has told owner of five websites with names related to Baylor to transfer them to the university, according to the Houston Chronicle. The reason given? The names are confusingly similar to domain names used by Baylor.

Although the owner claimed he was a Baylor alum, the domain names —,,, and — forwarded users to Texas A&M's

The owner reportedly planned to develop the sites for alumni social networks but never had enough money.

Investment Advice

We once again venture down that slippery slope of an off-topic post.

Perhaps you've been working the remote at light speed only to come to a screeching stop to catch CNBC's "Mad Money," hosted by the energetic Jim Cramer. Now in case you missed it, here's what Mr. Cramer had to say last Tuesday about Bear Stearns. Thanks to Crooks and Liars.

Reporters' Notebooks

Derek Kravitz, Columbia Tribune: All-American receiver Jeremy Maclin was driving a 2007 black Nissan Altima that was pulled over by a police early Sunday after an argument involving a gun at a south Columbia apartment complex. Sophomore linebacker Marquis Booker, 20, a passenger in the vehicle, was arrested on suspicion of unlawful use of a weapon and an underage liquor law violation.

Rick Plumlee, Wichita Eagle: Kansas is going to lose two scholarships because of failure to meet NCAA academic standards.

Georgia Sports Blog: Clemson's Tommy Bowden and Texas Tech's Mike Leach top the list of longest-tenured coaches who have not guided their teams to a Bowl Championship Series game.

Bryan Stickland, Durham Herald-Sun: The David Cutcliffe era begins Tuesday at Duke and Blue Devil players better be ready. "My first practice I had at Ole Miss, we had to have 19 players take IVs after the practice," Cutcliffe said.

Waco Tribune-Herald: Former Kentucky and Baylor coach Guy Morriss has found work. He's the new offensive line coach at Kentucky State.

Bill Koch, Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly said the athletic department is in the process of investigating the incident that resulted in All-American defensive tackle Terrill Byrd being cited for marijuana use.

Craig Smith, Seattle Times: New Washington State coach Paul Wulff is looking to develop a "team atmosphere" this spring.

Chris Starrs, Athens Banner-Herald: Georgia linebacker Marcus Washington is expected to sit out the 2008 season because of a left shoulder injury.

Kyle Ringo, Boulder Daily Camera: Former Colorado linebacker Justin Nonu was the victim of a stun-gun attack while he tried to break up a fight Feb. 16 in an incident that led to the arrest and suspension of current linebacker Lynn Katoa.

Kevin Tatum, Philadelphia Inquirer: Temple, coming off a 4-8 season, must replace only one starter when it begins spring drills on Tuesday.

Mercedes Mayer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Texas Christian begins its spring looking to add a level of toughness. "Our spring ball is probably tougher than most. That's where we get our physicalness," coach Gary Patterson said.

Dave Curtis, Orlando Sentinel: With meaningful basketball games over, Florida, Florida State and Central Florida have turned the focus to football.

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