Saturday, May 31, 2008

The BCS Takes Its First Misstep

The BCS Guru, one of our trusted partners in crime, is back. He's taking a look at 10 (long?) years of the Bowl Championship Series, starting with a relatively controversy-free coronation of Tennessee as the national champion in 1998.

Oh yes, Tulane was 11-0 and got snubbed, and Kansas State, which finished third in the final BCS standings, found itself in the non-BCS Alamo Bowl. But would the BCS have been better off starting with a plus-one format featuring matchups of Tennessee vs. Ohio State and Florida State vs. Kansas State?

Why Isn't Ferentz Feeling the Heat?

Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has an interesting piece regarding behavior of athletes — football players in particular — at the University of Iowa's Hillcrest Residence Hall, where the alleged sexual assault of a woman occurred last Oct. 14 by then-footballers Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield.

A father of a student who was living in Hillcrest said the dorm was "Just a lot of debaucher, centered around the football athletes in that dorm." He called the behavior on his son's floor "appalling."

From having visited Iowa last week, we didn't get the sense Ferentz is in trouble. Frankly, he should be.

The recent string of incidents involving Iowa football players — 17 arrests and five felony charges since April 2007 — is appalling, and the Iowa City community should be outraged. What has become of this university?

Usually this type of behavior is tolerated when a team is winning. Ferentz's team is not, even with a continuing softening of the schedule. Maybe somebody can explain why Ferentz isn't feeling the heat for all of this.

Numb Nuts

No wonder eventual winner Sameer Mishra of West Lafayette, Ind., was the crowd favorite at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Thanks to Loser With Socks.

Reporters' Notebooks

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Southeastern Conference presidents and athletics directors on Friday voted against a proposal that would have created an early signing date. The league also distributed $127.2 million back to its members. That is a 4.3% increase from last year's total of $122 million. Of the $127.2 million total, $50.6 million came from football television, $25.3 million from bowls and $13.7 million from the SEC title game. That's 70.4% of the revenue coming from football. Each member got roughly $10.6 million.

Steve Ellis, Tallahassee Democrat: Recent comments about a playoff system by Florida State president T.K. Wetherell sparked the ire of SEC commissioner Michael Slive. "Let me always be very clear to tell you I don't agree with the Florida State president," Slive said. "President Wetherell's statements were counterproductive, because those who support a plus-one do not support a playoff. I never said playoff. I never used the 'p' word."

Dirk Facer, Deseret News: Utah and Notre Dame are talking about a 2010 game in South Bend. "We're excited, and I think it's a great opportunity if it comes to fruition," Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said.

Daniel Lyght, Fresno Bee: Fresno State and Colorado are close to agreeing to a three-game series. The first game would be in 2011 in Boulder, with the teams meeting in Fresno in 2012. The final game would be in 2013 in Boulder.

Dave Reardon, Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Hawaii is hoping to raise $100,000 through a new parking deal with Aloha Stadium. The money would go toward athletic scholarships.

Alex Abrams, Springdale Morning News: Arkansas kicker Alex Tejada dislocated the kneecap on his left plant leg during a workout.

Pete Bosak, Centre Daily Times: Penn State's Phil Taylor and Novorro Bowman pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The two were charged with being among a group of as many as 15 football players who beat and stomped a Philadelphia man outside a party at the HUB-Robeson Center last Oct. 7.

Jake Trotter, Oklahoman: Oklahoma's Bob Stoops expects hotshot recruit Josh Jarboe to be on the roster this fall after felony guy charges against the receiver were lowered to misdemeanors.

Lauren Pack, Dayton Daily News: Zachary Marshall of Miami (Ohio) has been charged with aggravated burglary and assault. Police say the offensive lineman attacked a female student.

Friday, May 30, 2008

It's SEC Limericks Time!

The site 3rd Saturday in Blogtober puts on its creative writing cap and pens several humorous limericks relating to Southeastern Conference football. Here are a couple of examples:

In Knoxville lived a drunk kicker named Britton
Who vowed to all he was quittin’
But he kept hopping bars
Then hitting parked cars
Till half a season he found himself sittin’.

How could we forget the Gainesville God?
With the golden arm and the bionic bod.
The object of national media affection
Who gives Verne Lundquist erections
And nobody sees this as odd?

Thanks to Brad.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jennifer Thomas, Centre Daily Times: Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell wants to see an annual outdoor hockey game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers at Penn State's Beaver Stadium. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called the idea "intriguing."

Tommy Hicks, Mobile Press-Register: Southeastern Conference coaches aren't ready to jump on the bandwagon being driven by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe that would allow players five years of eligibility and eliminate redshirts.

Mr SEC: Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, advocating a playoff at the SEC meetings: “Ohio State would have finished fifth in our league and they’re ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll." Thanks to Get The Picture.

Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News: Mike Gottfried says an early signing period for recruits might not be such a great idea.

Sports by Brooks: A recent study shows that playing football can make you shorter and that some players actually shrink during games.

Justin Lawson, Reno Gazette-Journal: Three Nevada players were arrested over the Memorial Day weekend for driving under the influence, and two of the players have been kicked off the team.

Tom Witosky, Des Moines Register: If two former Iowa players go to trial for allegedly sexually abusing a woman in a campus dormitory last fall, the trial is likely to get "ugly," an attorney says.

Rochelle Olson, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Former Minnesota player Dominic Jones will serve a year in a workhouse and have to register as a sexual offender after his conviction of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an incident caught in a 37-second cell-phone video.

Bryan Strickland, Durham Herald-Sun: Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and cornerback Leon Wright were cited for underage alcohol consumption Wednesday morning.

David Gonzalez, Daily Illini: Former Illinois player Erique Robertson was sentenced to 43 days in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful use of a firearm, a class 4 felony.

Tim Stephens, Orlando Sentinel: More conference realignment talk, this time regarding the Mid-American Conference.

Join Us Tonight on the Radio Show

The fertile fields around Parkersburg are known for producing bushels of corn and soybeans, and the high school football team in this small Iowa town has carved a reputation for raising future NFL players.

The Aplington-Parkersburg Falcons, coached by Ed Thomas, the 2005 NFL high school coach of the year, have four players currently on NFL rosters, a remarkable achievement for this community of only 2,000.

On Sunday night, Parkersburg was devastated by a tornado that claimed the lives of five residents. Two others perished in neighboring New Hartford, making this the deadliest twister in the state since 1968.

We will be discussing our trip Monday to Parkersburg on the Sports Byline USA Radio Network. Please join us at midnight Friday on the Pacific Coast. You can listen over the Internet by clicking here, and we will be taking phone calls at 800-878-7529.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reporters' Notebooks

Ryan Wood, Lawrence Journal-World: Former Minnesota and Kansas coach Glen Mason is now vice president of business development for Marquette Asset Management, a small financial company in Minneapolis.

Dave Curtis, Orlando Sentinel: The Southeastern Conference talks at creating its own TV network have taken urgency because the league's contracts with network partners expire in the next year.

Tim Stephens, Orlando Sentinel: Perhaps it's time for the SEC to eye a hostile takeover of the college football marketplace.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: SEC coaches have voted, 9-3, in favor of a proposal for an early signing day.

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: Another player is leaving Notre Dame. Linebacker Aaron Nagel has decided to transfer. Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Illinois are possible destinations.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin: The University of Hawaii and former football coach June Jones will attempt to resolve a contract dispute through mediation.

Ed McGranahan, Greenville News: Tommy Bowden's new contract at Clemson includes $1.8 million in annual guaranteed compensation, with potential for nearly $700,000 in bonuses and perks.

Todd Milles, Tacoma News Tribune: Washington State quarterback signee Calvin Schmidtke has been released from his football letter of intent by the school after facing several legal issues.

Scott Dochterman, Cedar Rapids Gazette: The aggregate numbers involving the Iowa football program include 17 arrests — five felonies — since April 2007.

Natalie Sayewich, Sun Journal: East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland remains particularly cagey when discussing the Pirates' future conference ties. Thanks to EDSBS.

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: Former San Diego State defensive lineman Martin Miller has been sentenced to life in prison after his conviction on charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Real Truth About Webcam Recruiting

Southeastern Conference coaches are on the cutting edge of technology, and the use of video conferencing to keep in touch with recruits is now the rage. The site 3rd Saturday in Blogtober got its Internet hack on, tapped into the webcams of SEC coaches and discovered what is really happening in this corner of cyberspace. We present two examples, with the rest of the humorous details at 3rd Saturday.

A Football Town Needs Your Help

On Sunday night, an EF-5 tornado ripped through the Eastern Iowa towns of Parkersburg, New Hartford and Dunkerton. The twister, at times more than a mile wide, packed winds of 205 miles per hour and stayed on the ground for 43 miles. Seven people lost their lives.

Half of the town of Parkersburg (population 2,000) is gone and the high school was destroyed. Parkersburg is a football town, a small-town dynasty. Coach Ed Thomas' teams have produced four current NFL players — centers Casey Wiegmann of the Denver Broncos, Brad Meester of Jacksonville Jaguars and defensive ends Jared DeVries of the Detroit Lions and Aaron Kampman of the Green Bay Packers — a remarkable achievement for the 240-student school. The field, named after Thomas, is known as the "Sacred Acre."

Friday nights are special in Parkersburg, and towns like it are the backbone of this nation. You can see more photos of the devastation by clicking here, and if you're interested in helping the community in its rebuilding efforts, please click here.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jeff Latzke, Associated Press: Oklahoma has banned any business from employing more than five Sooner athletes at the same time as part of its response to NCAA violations that occurred when three players took pay for work they had not done at a car dealership.

Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News: Texas A&M linebacker Derrick Stephens has been told by doctors that he must end his career because of multiple concussions.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Arkansas' Bobby Petrino talks about his abrupt departure from the Atlanta Falcons and insists he's not the bad guy who has been portrayed in the media. "When people know me, they understand how I am," he said.

Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald: Southeastern Conference coaches appear to be in favor of an early signing period.

Bruins Nation: Rick Neuheisel, unplugged. You can see the UCLA coach Saturday night in a Newport Beach athletics fundraiser. Cost: $250 per person, or grab a platinum table for only $10,000.

Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World: What they are saying about Kansas' chances at the local barber shop.

Tom Witosky, Randy Peterson and Sean Keeler, Des Moines Register: More trouble for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Two former members of the team — Abe Satterfield and Cedric Everson — are being sought on charges of sexual abuse. The list of Hawkeye legal troubles. A stench is descending on the program.

Chip Scoggins, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Return specialist Harold Howell, who was called "one of the most electrifying high school football players I have ever seen" by Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, has been dismissed from the team.

John Hunt, Oregonian: Oregon recruit Dewitt Stuckey was arrested Friday night in Stockton, Calif., after a fight and charged with two felonies.

Kate Hairopoulos, Dallas Morning News: Southern Methodist quarterback Justin Willis was reinstated to the team.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: South Carolina backup defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis has been dismissed from the team for violating university policy.

Brad Rock, Deseret News: First Brigham Young steals Utah State's colors. Now the Cougars have snared the Aggies' quarterback. What's next?

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We continue our Thirst and 10 contest with a look at Walk-On's, a bistreaux and bar in the shadows of Louisiana State's Tiger Stadium.

Although the name "Walk-On's" is tied to LSU's first football game against Tulane, the idea for the establishment came from Jack Warner and Brandon Landry, who "met in 1997 on the hardwood of LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center. As young boys growing up, both dreamed of playing basketball for LSU and both succeeded in that dream — it just so happened to be as walkons!"

There is a sizable beer tent on football game days, but the fun revolves around higher-quality spirits. A signature drink is the Death Valley, which is "guaranteed to turn you into Tiger bait!" Or the Slurricane. "Some guy from New Orleans named Pat invented it, we perfected it. How? Easy, we added Everclear!"

Creole dishes dominate the menu, but there are traditional favorites such as burgers and steaks.
Now not everybody is fond of the joint. The review below gave Walk-On's only four stars out of 10:

"I have eaten at Walk-ons numerous times. The food and service is subpar for a university neighborhood bar and grill. I like the restaurant and the menu has potential some day, they just haven't gotten it right yet. That being said, they do enjoy a good business because of their proximity and ties to LSU. They are their best during an LSU football or basketball game with the game on the numerous TVs, people drinking a lot of drinks, and enjoying the appetizers."

Reporters' Notebooks

David Paschall, Chattanooga Times Free Press: More than half of Rivals top 20 signees of 2005 have run into off-the-field problems that have sidetracked or ruined their careers. Thanks to Get The Picture.

Ron Higgins, Commercial Appeal: Discussion of a proposed Southeastern Conference television network will be the focal point at the league's annual spring business meetings in Destin, Fla.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: Alabama's Nick Saban will bring in Kevin Elko, a motivational speaker, to work with the team this summer.

John Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel: The SEC should consider putting an end to non-divisional rivalries on an annual basis. Thanks to FanBlogs.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News: Utah State quarterback Riley Nelson will transfer to Brigham Young upon his return from a Latter-day Saints mission in March 2009.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Crewcut Prepares for Battle

These delightful photos of Crewcut Charlie Weis in Germany were snared by FanHouse. Weis has been touring military bases along with Georgia's Mark Richt, Miami's Randy Shannon and Auburn's Tommy Tuberville.

Baton Rouge Style

We thank Losers With Socks for finding this Louisiana State fan celebrating the Tigers' 28-24 victory over Florida last season.

The Changing Face of Cal Athletics

In 1987, California chancellor Ira Heyman gave a speech to NCAA delegates warning of the great dangers that colleges faced pursuing an aggressive course in intercollegiate athletics while skewing academic priorities.

Heyman advocated freshman ineligibility for varsity sports, reductions in coaching staffs, salaries and athletic scholarships and a ban on postseason football and basketball games.

Twenty-one years later, Cal is trying to escalate its national standing in athletics with little apology.

Much of this started with the hiring of Jeff Tedford as football coach in 2002. Now the Bears are ready to build a $125 million athletic performance center and spend $175 million on renovating Memorial Stadium.

Among those opposing the athletic performance center are a group of tree-sitters who have been living in an oak grove that will be razed to build the center. The project is facing a legal challenge and a judge is scheduled to render a decision in the next two weeks.

Even if Cal loses in the courts, it's clear the Golden Bears will not turning back the clock to 1987.

Reporters' Notebooks

Mike Baldwin, Oklahoman: Oklahoma State season ticket sales are on the rise, likely because the school won't be selling individual tickets to the game against rival Oklahoma, forcing Sooner fans to purchase Cowboy season tickets.

Dave Hickman, Charleston Gazette: West Virginia's Bill Stewart says the new out of bounds rule is out of bounds.

Alan Schmadtke, Orlando Sentinel: A college football pop quiz to separate the coaches from the players.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Texas Tech's Mike Leach: If Van Gogh were to paint a football game, to me that would be kind of interesting."

Dave Matter, Columbia Tribune: A look at the best nonconference games on Big 12 schedules.

Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel: The four major universities in Florida have different levels of conditions when it comes to releasing public records.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gopher Fans Come Out of the Hole

Minnesota is a year from moving into the new TCF Bank Stadium, but season ticket holders are in an uproar over a new points plan for the 50,000-seat venue that was announced Friday.

The plan, Gopher Points, "rewards" season-ticket holders with points based upon their financial support, loyalty and affinity. Many fans, however, are finding that they will have to spend even more money just to keep the same seats.

Considering the awful product Minnesota has fielded for 40 years — the Golden Gophers last won a share of the Big Ten title in 1967 and are coming off a 1-11 season — many long-time fans are lining up in punt formation.
Here are a sampling of comments posted on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's website:

C Behling: Let's see, with gas at $3.90 a gallon, maybe it would be cheaper to drive up to North Dakota State . . . Oh, that's right. The Gophs couldn't get on the Bison's schedule this year.

Aipacjewspy: How else are they going to pay for all the lesbian sports teams that no one cares to watch?

S.P. Mike: When they are 1-11 next year and blowhard [Tim] Brewester is giving lame excuses again Joe "I don't have a clue" Maruri will be begging you to buy tickets. . . . With gas at four bucks a gallon I will not be driving to a Gopher game that I will have to pay 500 bucks over the cost of the ticket to keep it.

Pete 1949: 1-11 and pay more to watch us play Central Florida, Marist etc.

Abc123def456: Why do the Goofers think they can charge filet and champagne prices for hot dogs and Kool-Aid?

Charlie IQ: Reward loyalty? My ass. It's another way to raise more money by taking advantage of a scarce commodity by creating arbitrary "classes" of patrons. It has all the elegance of K-Mart's blue light specials or a downlink at your favorite multi-level scam.

Lex Luger: A place that recruited Mitch Lee and Dominick Jones. A place that has had a lousy football team for 47 tears. A place that allowed Clem Haskins to operate with impunity. A place that brought that no good fraud Lou Holtz into our cities. What a deal.....

Mekaster: It's a joke. What's really great is the Big Ten Network. They want me to pay to watch a losing team(s) that I already pay for. I wish them the worst.

His Chances of Rejoining FSU Could Be Shot

Tight end Charlie Graham started 11 games last season for Florida State before he was sacked because of academics and has spent this spring at Tallahassee Community College trying to regain his eligibility.

On the night of May 15, police were called to Graham's apartment. A neighbor said someone was outside the residence firing a gun into the air.

Officers arrived and questioned Graham and a companion. According to the police report obtained by Scott Carter of the Tampa Tribune, "Mr. Graham was intoxicated and celebrating being eligible to play college football again."

Graham acknowledged firing a gun into the air and was cited for discharging a firearm within city limits (in this case, less than two miles from Doak Campbell Stadium). He also had his .32-caliber semi-automatic weapon and a rifle confiscated.

In the wake of receiver Preston Parker's arrest on gun and drug charges, Graham realizes he might have a problem rejoining the team.

"Everything school-wise is going great," he said. "Technically, I'm not on the team. I'm not even enrolled at Florida State, but if punishing me is what they want to do, then I have no choice, because I made a stupid choice."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

North Carolina Tops UWire List

Our friends at UWire, a site that showcases work of aspiring journalists, has announced the UWire 100, a listing of the nation's top collegiate journalists.

The UWire 100 students hail from 66 different schools. Among the schools represented by multiple members of the UWire 100 are North Carolina (five), Penn State (four), Iowa (four), Florida (three), Syracuse (three), Indiana (three) and Texas (three).

Reporters' Notebooks

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Washington and Louisiana State have agreed to a home-and-home series, starting with a 2009 game in Seattle. The Huskies and Tigers will meet in 2012 in Baton Rouge. Washington is never shy when it comes to scheduling big-time opponents.

Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times: Rick Neuheisel can receive up to $1.75 million a season in salary and bonuses, plus a $1.5 million home loan and other perks, according to the terms of a five-year contract finalized last week.

Howard Richman, Kansas City Star: Defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald, a freshman All-American and two-year starter at Virginia, is transferring to Kansas State.

Mark Brennan, Fight On State: What is Iowa's Kirk Ferentz doing on the Penn State campus, talking with Nittany Lion athletic director Tim Curley? Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State.

Ryan Wood, Lawrence Journal-World: A new contract is in the works for Kansas' Mark Manginio.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News: Brigham Young recruit Stephen Wirthlin is on the mend after breaking his neck in an automobile accident.

Scott Dochterman, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Iowa State's Gene Chizik says he won't make a decision on a starting quarterback until late August. Austen Arnaud and Philip Bates are battling for the job.

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii is seeking approval to lower some ticket prices for the upcoming season.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bellotti's Salary Could Top $3 Million

Oregon's Mike Bellotti could earn over $3 million this year if he reaches all the incentives in his reworked contract. Bellotti made $1.9 million in 2007, with $800,000 of that coming from a clause that awards the coach 8% of the gross of Autzen Stadium's total reserved ticket sales.

The reworked deal, sparked by UCLA's interest in Bellotti last December, boosts his base salary from $750,000 to $1,127,500. It also adds incentives tied to on-field success as well as TV exposure and players' academic achievement.

Oregon State's Mike Riley, whose team has won two in a row against the Ducks, is paid slightly more than $1 million.

Thanks to Image of Sport.

Reporters' Notebooks

Tom Kensler, Denver Post: The Big 12 agreed to retain the distribution formula for football revenue that has been in place since the league was formed in 1996. Under that formula, annual revenues derived from televised games involving Big 12 teams are divided in half. One of the pots is distributed evenly among the 12 members. The other pot also gives bonuses for TV appearances: ABC, $260,000 to a Big 12 member for a league game and $520,000 for a nonconference game; ESPN, $300,000; Fox Sports, $150,000; Versus, $50,000.

Berry Tramel, Oklahoman: Jack Mildren, who quarterbacked the Oklahoma Sooners to glory and then became the state’s lieutenant governor, died Thursday night after a bout with cancer. He was 58. Mildren timeline.

Tristan Scott, Missoulian: Montana offensive lineman J.D. Quinn was arrested on charges of drunken driving after being pulled over for a mudflap violation. Quinn transferred from Oklahoma after he took money for work that he didn't perform at a Norman auto dealership.

The Big Lead: Does anyone remember the last time Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami and Florida State had back-to-back poor seasons? The age of the true dynasty is long gone.

Don McKee, Philadelphia Inquirer: Joe Paterno, who favors a playoff system, doesn't see one coming. "I'm only going to be a head coach another 10 or 15 years, and I don't think it will happen by then."

Roger Clarkson, Athens Banner-Herald: Georgia offensive lineman Clint Boling, who started 11 games as a freshman, was arrested for driving under the influence.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Five games that will decide the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Ryan Wood, Lawrence Journal-World: Kansas' Mark Mangino says his rant after a 27-23 loss to Texas in 2004 was calculated. Mangino was fined $5,000 by the Big 12 after saying officials favored the Longhorns because of Bowl Championship Series implications.

Joe Logan, Philadelphia Inquirer: Adam Taliaferro, the former Penn State defensive back who broke his neck during a game against Ohio State, continued his inspiring story. He graduated from Rutgers School of Law-Camden.

Susan Simpson, Oklahoman: T. Boone Pickens is back. The Texas billionaire gave a $100 million gift to Oklahoma State to endow 150 faculty jobs.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Original Varsity Club

If you're a fan of The Ohio State University, The Varsity Club in Columbus is The Place to Be.

Founded in 1959, the two-story indoor and outdoor venue is located less than 500 yards from Ohio Stadium. The Varsity has considerable clout in the city. On game days, the bar has a permit to shut down a side street called Tuttle Park. Refrigerated beer trucks are brought in to serve as vendors to customers in the street.

"It's a beehive on game day, stuffed inside and outside. Fatcat alums mixed with poor underclassmen," writes the Midwest Correspondent.
A counter on the Varsity's website ticks down the seconds until the start of the season. Doors swing open for business at 9 a.m. on game days, unless Michigan is in town. Then the place opens at 8.

Not much is known about the Varsity's menu. This, after all, is a place to drink.

Reporters' Notebooks

Michael Rothstein, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: According to the latest federal tax records, Notre Dame paid Tyrone Willingham more than Crewcut Charlie Weis in base compensation. List of Notre Dame's top salaries.

Ed Miller, Virginian-Pilot: Joining the Atlantic Coast Conference has paid off for Virginia Tech, which reported football income of $40.75 million last season, the most in the league.

Donnie Webb, Syracuse Post-Standard: A reader outlines why it might be wise for the Big East to consider expansion, with Central Florida being a target for football.

Scott Carter, Tampa Tribune: Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford is almost fully recovered from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

Scott Rabalais, Baton Rouge Advocate: Les Miles is trying to assure fans about Louisiana State's quarterbacking situation. "We're going to have one in every formation," he said.

Tom Murphy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Arkansas junior running back Brandon Barnett was arrested and charged with contempt of court for failing to pay a speeding ticket.

Ken Tysiac, Charlotte Observer: Plans for the first phase of renovations at North Carolina's Keenan Stadium have cleared a hurdle.

Jason Kaneshiro, Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Hawaii's athletic department is facing an expected deficit of $1.7 million in 2009. The loss would add to a cumulative deficit estimated at a minimum of $4.5 million.

Don Williams and Jeff Walker, Lubbock Avalanche Journal: Texas Tech starting center Stephen Hamby was arrested for aggravated assault. He allegedly punched a man twice in the face in March. The victim suffered a fractured jaw.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bash Riprock's

Bash Riprock's opened for business in 1986 and from the looks of it, Lubbock has never been the same.

The establishment, which offers "food, fun and then some" is located across the street from Texas Tech's Jones AT&T Stadium.

It features two bars, six pool tables, 20 televisions and according to reader Greg, "excellent old-fashioned burgers and fries."

While this is a place for burgers, it's also a place for beer. There are 20 beers on tap and 300-plus bottled beers. Nightly specials include $1.50 longnecks, $4.50 pitchers and $2 drafts.
"Live music [hip-hop, R&B and country acts] is also featured on the weekends," Greg writes. "The waitresses wear white tank tops and blue jeans which reflects the relaxed atmosphere of the establishment."

Reviews are few and far between on Bash Riprock's. If you've been there, we'd like to get your impressions.

Reporters' Notebooks

Chip Brown, Dallas Morning News: Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said he hopes a fifth year of eligibility for football players gets a strong look from the NCAA rules committee.

Tom Kensler, Denver Post: Beebe also expressed his opposition to a "plus one" system to determine a national champion.

Chadd Cripe and Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman: Boise State is replacing its blue AstroPlay field with a blue FieldTurf surface. The installation is scheduled to be completed by early August.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: When examining a team's schedule, it's not only where you play an opponent, but when you play them.

Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press: Rich Rod held a 90-minute roundtable with reporters, discussing everything from Joe Tiller's criticism of his recruiting tactics to his legal troubles with West Virginia.

Dave Dye, Detroit News: Former Oklahoma quarterback Keith Nichol will transfer to Michigan State.

Alexis Huicochea and Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star: Johnathan Turner, an expected starter at defensive end for Arizona, has been accused of sexual assault.

Losers With Socks: A downloadable Southeastern Conference helmet schedule.

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: The inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl, featuring teams from the Big East and Conference USA, will be played Dec. 20.

Stratosphere Hits a New Low

Look on the back of a sports betting ticket from a Las Vegas casino and you'll notice an expiration date, usually 60-120 days after the event. But it's an unwritten rule that a sportsbook will always cash a winning ticket, even after the expiration date. To do otherwise is simply not good for customer relations.

Michael Shackleford, a professional gaming consultant, the author of a book on gambling strategy and an adjunct professor at Nevada Las Vegas, wagered $1,000 on Oklahoma State to beat Texas Tech last Sept. 22. It was a moneyline wager, meaning the Cowboys, who were slight underdogs, had to win the game outright, at odds of plus-190.

Oklahoma State won, 49-45, and the winning ticket paid $2,900 (the original $1,000, plus $1,900 in profit).

Shackleford finally made it to the Stratosphere on Jan. 26 to collect his winnings. That was 126 days after the event, 66 days after expiration date on the back of the ticket. The Stratosphere told him to take a hike, and now Shackleford has taken his fight to the Gaming Control Board.

"I plan to fight this until the day I die,” Shackleford said.

Although the case remains unresolved, it was revealed in an April 2 hearing that the Stratosphere’s redemption period for sports tickets is actually 120 days, not 60 days. The casino continued to issue tickets with the erroneous 60-day deadline printed on them because "the property has several rolls of ticket stock material on hand, [and] it was not cost effective to reprint new wagering tickets," according to the board.

Gamblers in the city have taken note. Jeff Haney of the Las Vegas Sun writes: "But regardless of the outcome, the Stratosphere bosses should be ashamed of their actions. This episode gives another black eye to Nevada’s legal sports betting scene, which in terms of black eyes lately seems to resemble Floyd Patterson at the end of his second fight with Muhammad Ali."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Welcome to Dirtbag's, a part of growing up in Tucson. A part you're not likely to remember. It's our second entry in Thirst and 10.

Dirtbag's opened its doors in 1982 and serves a variety of concoctions, from the Sicilian Whore (eight exotic liquors with a pineapple flair) to the Cocaine Shooter (vodka, raspberry liqueur and grapefruit juice). And if you're a risk-taker, try the Surfer on Acid. (Dirtbag's doesn't even list the ingredients in that one.) Fortunately, Arizona Stadium is only a short walk (crawl?) from the front door.

The establishment is separated into three areas, the first being a rectangular room with a large bar and wood interior. Framed newspaper clippings line the walls. The waitresses? Top-notch, according to reader Marc.
Venture deeper and you'll find a room with a mini bar and additional seating. The menu includes the Dirtburger, a half-pound of ground beef, and Dirtfries.

The third area is an outside patio with about a dozen tables. A great place to soak in the warm desert nights.

Not everybody is fond of the place. Check out this review: "Dirtbags is full of the U of A set. Ditsy blondes and steroid abusing jocks. If it was not for the music all you would here is 'Oh, my god', 'My daddy gave me a Bentley' and so on. Give it a miss unless you really want to be subjected to this. The barstaff are rude too."

Let's hear what the readers have to say. Post your review in comments.

Pete Who?

Pete Carroll does his version of Jay Leno's Jaywalking on the USC campus, asking students and visitors if they know who the football coach is at the university.

Conference USA: Is Bigger Better?

More talk of conference expansion, this time coming from Conference USA. East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland has been pushing an expansion concept that would increase the size of the league from 12 to 16 or possibly 18 teams that would be split into two divisions.

Thus far, there has been little support for the idea. Holland, in an email to Jack Bogaczky of the Charleston Daily Mail, said "that if you can't go back to eight or nine teams for the conference, then move ahead to eight- or nine-team divisions. Twelve is simply the wrong number in my opinion."

What teams might be targeted in an expansion? Bogaczky speculates that Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State and South Alabama, about to start its program with a major college goal of 2013, could be in the mix.

Reporters' Notebooks

Georgia Sports Blog: Georgia fans are taking advantage of a promotion where fans can purchase season tickets to Arizona State games for only $99. The cost of a ticket to the Bulldog-Sun Devil game in Tempe is $55 and many Georgia fans, fearing they won't be able to get a ticket, have decided to purchase the $99 season ticket.

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: Something called Big & Rich will tape a concert intro for ESPN's "College GameDay" on Tuesday in Tampa.

John Lantigua, Palm Beach Post: The demolition of the Orange Bowl is nearing completion, memories being hauled away bit by bit, bin by bin, truck by truck.

Dave Reardon, Honolulu Star-Bulletin: There appears to be interest in Hawaii and Alabama scheduling a home-and-home series.

Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News: A look at the top 2009 draft prospects in the Pacific 10. USC's defense could produce two top-10 picks and four top-20 selections next April.

Paul Strelow, Columbia State: Clemson junior middle linebacker Cortney Vincent will not be reinstated to the team for the 2008 season. That means the Tigers will have to replace all three of their starting linebackers from a year ago.

Kyle Tucker, Virginian-Pilot: Virginia Tech has rescinded a scholarship offer to quarterback Pete Rose, who was arrested last week on drug charges.

Maurice Patton, Tennessean: Vanderbilt is betting that facility upgrades will boost fan interest.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: Race remains a volatile sports topic.

Steve Ellis, Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State's Preston Parker pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed weapon and marijuana possession. The plea deal will allow the Seminoles' best player to return to the team after a two-game suspension. The games he will miss, of course, are against Western Carolina and always tough Chattanooga.

Jerry Hill, Waco Tribune: Former Baylor player Kyle Woods, left paralyzed in a 1979 practice accident, is getting a new disability-friendly home, thanks to fundraising efforts of a committee headed by former Bear coach Grant Teaff.

Scott Dochterman, Cedar Rapids Gazette: There used to be a simple charm to watching sports on TV. The simplicity that accompanied a game now has been replaced with television booths where the analyst and play-by-play person argue more, talk louder and interject less game action than ever before.

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

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Esso Club

Our first entry in the Thirst and 10 contest is a strong one. Check out the Esso Club in Clemson, celebrating its 75th year of satisfying thirsty customers. (Click the images for a closer look.)

It started as a gas station in the 1920s and possesses the oldest beer license in town, dating to Dec. 5, 1933. The good times started mere hours after the end of prohibition and the business actually pumped gas until 1985, according to Wikipedia. We can imagine it took some customers several hours to fill their tanks. ...

The main bar is topped with the original wooden seating from Clemson's Memorial Stadium. As legend has it, Brent Musburger stops in for a cold one when he's in town.

Ryan of the site, Gobbler Country, paid a visit to the Esso Club last October for Virginia Tech's game against the Tigers. But despite the tradition and uniqueness of the Esso, he was not all that impressed.
"I would be surprised if the Esso Club loses the vote," he writes. "It has the history and the name recognition. However, I was a little disappointed when I went there last year. I think it's because I had it built up in my mind."

Have something to say about the Esso? Fire away in comments.

Girls, Girls, Girls

Social networking sites have absolutely no redeeming value. You certainly don't want to waste time on the Wiz Facebook page and the new photo album, "Good Cheer." It's Monday and work is already piled up on the corner of your desk. So just move along.

Another Heisman Close Encounter?

Florida's Tim Tebow and Missouri's Chase Daniel shared this — dare we say — touching moment at last year's Heisman Trophy ceremony. Let's hope they had some privacy later to really express their feelings for each other. ...

Now if things go according to plan this fall, Tebow and Daniel will be back on the big stage in New York for the Heisman ceremony. They are among the early favorites to win the award, according to odds posted at Bodog.

Tebow is 7/2 and Daniel is 8/1 (at the time of this post). Ohio State's Chris Wells is a sparkling 5/1, the same odds given to a pick on the field.

The following players are 10/1: Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Knowshon Moreno (Georgia) and Pat White (West Virginia).

Others of note: Colt McCoy of Texas and Percy Harvin of Florida are 25/1. Ian Johnson of Boise State is 35/1. Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame (he of seven touchdown passes and six interceptions in 2007) is 50/1. Armanti Edwards of Appalachian State is 100/1.

Edwards Shows Rich Rod Who Is No. 1

Braylon Edwards has solved his No. 1 problem.

To refresh, the Cleveland Browns receiver endowed a $500,000 scholarship for the Wolverine player who wears No. 1. That jersey number has been given to a receiver since 1979, and Edwards was one of the players to proudly wear No. 1.

Then word leaked that freshman defensive back J.T. Floyd was spotted wearing No. 1 this spring. Edwards expressed his displeasure with Rich Rodriguez in a radio interview.

But on Saturday night, Edwards spoke with Rich Rod at the "Champions for Children's Hearts" dinner gala at Crisler Arena.

Said Edwards: "Everything has been taken care of ... You don't break tradition. I don't care who you are or what school it is, you don't break tradition. You could come in here and completely revamp everything, change the coaching staff, you could change the uniforms, change a lot of stuff, but you don't change tradition. The No. 1 is one of our oldest, most storied traditions here — don't change it."

OK, then. Glad we got that settled.

Rich Rod also addressed Crewcut Charlie Weis' "to hell with Michigan" comment.

"We've taken a lot of shots in the last few months," he said. "If you want to take another one, you're going to have to stand in line. But I don't get caught up in that stuff too much."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Time for Rooney Rule in College Football?

There are 120 head coaching jobs in Division I-A and only six African Americans head coaches.

"In this day and age, it's a shame and an embarrassment," Washington's Tyrone Willingham said. "We've gone too long with the numbers the way they are. We have to change what we're doing. The good ol' boy network is alive and well."

In the NFL, where the Rooney Rule mandates that teams interview minority candidates for head coaching opportunities, five of 32 head coaches are African American.

"We need to find a way to get qualified minority coaches in front of the search committees, the athletic directors, the presidents," Willingham said.

"It's not so much about hiring; it's about creating opportunities. And it's about hiring the right people."

Thanks to Image of Sport.

Reporters' Notebooks

The Big Lead: Despite the recent arrest of standout receiver Preston Parker, Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden doesn't sound ready to institute a gun ban for the players in his program.

Alan Schmadtke, Orlando Sentinel: East Carolina and Memphis are not going anywhere, certainly not to the Big East in the immediate future. And conference realignment is not on the horizon.

Suzanne Halliburton, Austin American-Statesman: Penn State's Joe Paterno was his feisty self Friday night during a fundraiser in Austin. "Yesterday, I didn't think this event was getting enough press," he said. "I decided to go to the hospital and see if I could spruce it up a bit. I feel good."

Ian R. Rapoport, Birmingham News: All is well in the world of Alabama football. Crimson Tide Sports Marketing has reached a 10-year deal with Coca-Cola for it to be the official soft drink of the Crimson Tide.

Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: Florida State president T.K. Wetherell has it right. College football will have a playoff.

Michael Murphy, Houston Chronicle: UCLA and Houston have agreed to a three-game series beginning in 2010, with two of the games at the Rose Bowl.

Brian Bennett, Louisville Courier-Journal: Senior running back George Stripling was dismissed from the Louisville team because of an undisclosed violation of team rules. He played in 34 career games for the Cardinals, finishing with 1,338 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Kyle Tucker, Virginian-Pilot: Peter Rose, a star quarterback and recent Virginia Tech signee, is facing felony drug charges after being busted in an undercover police investigation.

Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona's Mike Stoops supports the new sideline rule and vows he will not be penalized for it.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Is Nick Saban "getting around" the rules? Far from it. And have you had enough of the Rich Rodriguez story yet?

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe has just sold his soul for a quarterback.

Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinal: NFL referee Bill Carollo, who has officiated two Super Bowls and was an alternate for a third, is the new Big Ten coordinator of officials.

Detroit Free Press: Michigan State backup quarterback Connor Dixon has been granted a release from his scholarship.

Brian Dohn, L.A. Dialy News: Kai Maiava, who was a fullback at Colorado, is transferring to UCLA, where he will become an offensive lineman.

Craig Smith, Seattle Times: Jailed Washington State safety Xavier Hicks has lost his chance for early release because he violated work-release rules.

A.J. Carr, Raleigh News & Observer: North Carolina linebacker Wesley Flagg has been kicked off the team.

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: A Q&A with NCAA president Myles Brand.