Monday, June 30, 2008

Hewitt Wants Tickets to the Last Game

Today we dip our toe into the world of Hugh Hewitt, talk show host, author, blogger, fortune teller. According to Wikipedia, "he comments on politics and society from a neo-conservative and evangelical Christian viewpoint."

Political commentators are prone to say outrageous things, but Hewitt may have topped them all with this doozy regarding the Ohio State-USC game on Sept. 13 at the L.A. Coliseum:

"I'm still trying to find two tickets to the Ohio State-USC game. And none of the USC people will give up their tickets to me. I'd pay fair price. They — they know Ohio State's gonna slaughter the Trojans. They know that they're gonna slaughter the Trojans, and therefore they do not want me there at the bloodbath, since it's probably the last football game we'll ever get to see before the United States gets blown up by the Islamists under Obama.

"I — I would like to see Ohio State slaughter USC. This is what I'm living for right now. I'm keeping — all the bad news, I just focus on the Ohio State upcoming slaughter of USC. So if you are a USC fan willing to sell me two or perhaps even three USC tickets to the Ohio State game,, or if you're a Buckeye fan with those tickets back in Ohio, I'll trade you some Browns tickets. New York Giants, Monday night game? Think about it. Hugh Hewitt Show."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Not Much Left in Cardinals' Nest

If Louisville fans didn't have enough to scream about, last week's report that 20 scholarship underclassmen have left Steve Kragthorpe's team since the end of spring practice in 2007 certainly put them over the top.

Reasons for the departures vary. Some players were kicked off for behavior problems, some transferred to other teams and others simply quit. Although Kragthorpe says he will have 85 scholarship players this fall, he has lost what amounts to a full recruiting class.

Given the turnover, more turbulence is ahead for the Cardinals, who were No. 10 in the Associated Press preseason poll in 2007 before stumbling to a 6-6 season.

In fairness to Kragthorpe, the coach says he had to clean up a lot of "off-the-field issues" when he came to Louisville from Tulsa.

"When you go into a program that has been losing and there's attrition, people say, 'That's just a new coach who's changing the way they do things.' In my situation, I came into a program that had been winning, so people aren't as apt to see it that way."

Reporters' Notebooks

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Running back J.R. Hasty, considered the plum of Tyrone Willingham's first recruiting class at Washington, and cornerback Jordan Murchison did not have their scholarships renewed.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: Is Alabama getting a good return on its Nick Saban investment? The Crimson Tide were 7-6 in 2007 and after yet another disastrous week, patience is wearing thin.

Mike Perrin, Birmingham News: In 1991, the NCAA banned athletics dormitories. Now, no more than 49% of the population of a dorm, or a wing, or even a floor of university housing, can be athletes. But does this make it impossible for coaches to monitor their players?

Donnie Webb, Syracuse Post-Standard: Yet another Syracuse player has been suspended because of academic issues. Defensive end Brandon Gilbeaux will not play this fall.

Berry Tramel, Oklahoman: Oklahoma State's average home attendance in 2007 was 39,857, but with Boone Pickens Stadium now expanded to 60,000, the pressure is on Mike Gundy to put fans in the seats.

Kyle Ringo, Boulder Daily Camera: Colorado fans sense a team on the rise. Athletic director Mike Bohn said 92% of season-ticket holders had renewed and that 41 suites in Folsom Field are sold out.

Dave Matter, Columbia Tribune: When former Iowa Hawkeye Bob Stoops became Oklahoma’s coach almost decade ago, a branch of the Hayden Fry coaching tree took root in Norman. Since then, Stoops’ branch has blossomed into a giant sequoia.

Rick Bozich, Louisville Courier-Journal: No need to go to the newsstand and buy all the preseason magazines. Here's a capsule look at what they have to say.

Ray Buck, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: The Heisman Trophy fraternity has reached out to Ricky Williams, who will try to resume his playing career this fall with the Miami Dolphins.

Associated Press: Former Quarterback Jamelle Holieway, who led Oklahoma to a national championship in 1985, was jailed in Eufaula, Okla., because of outstanding traffic warrants.

Craig Smith, Seattle Times: Washington State backup quarterback Cole Morgan is transferring to Western Washington in search of playing time.

Rob Oller, Columbus Dispatch: The Terrelle Pryor fallout: Ohio State backup quarterback Antonio Henton is transferring to Georgia Southern.

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii will discount tickets in selected locations at Aloha Stadium in an effort to boost sales in a declining economy.

Jennifer Thomas, Centre Daily Times: Former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington is getting into the restaurant/bar business in State College. Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State.

Here is today's mystery link. Thanks to Jim of Erratic Magic.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Uga VI Suffers Heart Attack, Dies

Uga VI, the latest in the line of solid white English Bulldogs to serve as a mascot for Georgia, died Friday night in Savannah of a heart attack.

Owner Frank W. "Sonny" Seiler returned home from work Friday evening and noticed Uga was breathing heavily. He took the dog to Stanley Lester, the family's veterinarian, who consulted with Bruce Hollett at the Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

"I noticed he had a little congestion in his throat, which usually is not cause for alarm," Seiler said. "I gave him a bath, which he always loved, to cool him off. After that, I called Dr. Lester, whose office is about a four-minute drive from our house.

"His heart just played out. He suffered no pain and died peacefully."

Uga VI would have turned 10 on July 22. He will be buried in a marble vault in the Southwest corner of Sanford Stadium with his predecessors. The private ceremonies are expected to be held early next week.

Uga IV was the biggest of all the mascots at 65 pounds, 20 pounds heavier than his father, Uga V. His registered name was "Uga V's Whatchagot Loran?" — a reference to the famous question of Georgia radio play-by-play announcer Larry Munson when communicating with sideline reporter Loran Smith.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Let the Heisman Foolishness Begin

It's June 27, the temperature is soaring into the 90s across much of the country and here we are, talking Heisman Trophy.

Score one for West Virginia. The 'Eers are the first on the Internet board with a site promoting a Heisman candidate, in this case quarterback Pat White. At the time of this post, the site had only been online for a couple of hours.

White's site contains the usual trappings, plus a few other goodies, including — get this — his iPod playlist. ... We thank the Heisman Pundit.

Reporters' Notebooks

Andrea Cohen, Oklahoman: The money continues to roll in at Oklahoma State. Alum Malone Mitchell donated $57.2 million in stock to the university, with half going to academics and half to athletics.

Brian Bennett, Louisville Courier-Journal: Defensive lineman Aundre Henderson has left the Louisville team, bringing the number of scholarship players who have left the team since the spring of 2007 to an astonishing 21.

Ian R. Rapoport, Birmingham News: Former Alabama linebacker Jimmy Johns is "distraught" and "deeply saddened" by his arrest on six drug-related charges, his lawyers said. Johns faces two to 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine for each of the five charges of cocaine distribution. The possession charge carries one to 10 years in jail and a $15,000 fine.

Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News: Dave Radar, quarterback coach at Alabama under Mike Shula, says his old boss isn't to blame for the embarrassment created by the arrest of Johns. Neither is Nick Saban. "What he did, it was Jimmy's decision," Radar said.

Losers With Socks: Bored? Play the hilarious Bommeroid Wordsearch.

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune: Illinois and Ron Zook will be featured in the Big Ten Network series called "The Journey." Michigan's Rich Rodriguez was first approached, but turned down the offer.

Jeremy Olson, St. Paul Pioneer Press: Minnesota recruit Sam Maresh underwent successful heart valve surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Kevin Murphy, Capital Times: A state appeals court restored the wrongful death lawsuit against a state employee brought after an ABC cameraman died from a fall at Camp Randall Stadium while preparing for a Nov. 22, 2003 telecast of a Badger-Iowa game.

Angela Delli Santi, Newsday: A U.S. senator from New Jersey is urging the federal government to take action on artificial turf fields that contain lead.

Suzanne Halliburton and Alan Trubow, Austin American-Statesman: Former Texas players Andre Jones and Robert Joseph pleaded guilty to felony charges.

Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star: The reign of error is almost over. The departure of Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan is long overdue.

Chris Allen, Marshall Democrat News: If Miami (Ohio) is known as the "Cradle of Coaches," then Marshall High in Missouri could be called the "Cradle of Equipment Managers." Thanks to Ben Maller.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coke Deal Outside Tide Football Complex?

Former Alabama linebacker Jimmy Johns, who is facing felony charges for selling cocaine to undercover agents, allegedly conducted one of the five transactions in the parking lot of the Crimson Tide's football complex.

According to documents, all of the transactions involving Johns were either videotaped or audiotaped. On three occasions, both were used. A search of Johns' residence also turned up ecstasy pills, according to police.

Johns also had a side business as a breeder of pit bulls. Officials say he violated NCAA rules this spring by allowing his image to be used on a website promoting the breeding and purchasing of pit bulls. Johns' email address was left as a contact.

Nick Saban gave Johns the boot after learning of the linebacker's arrest.

While Auburn fans are having their fun with the Crimson Tide's latest mess, former Tiger coach Terry Bowden is defending Saban, saying the Alabama coach might have had no choice but to back Johns.

More Strange Stuff Out of Lawrence

First came word that 61-year-old White Owl, Kansas' No. 1 fan, will get hitched to a 22-year-old former coed. Now this dispatch about a new seating plan at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas is selling open-air luxury seats behind the stadium's south end zone. For $2,500 a seat, you get a cushy leather recliner — located six feet off the ground and 10 yards behind the end zone — free food and drinks and flat-screen TVs to watch the replays.

And when the season ends, you can buy the recliner.

"We wanted to do something to add ambiance and excitement to the open end zone," associate athletic director for external affairs Jim Marchiony said.

The seats are considerably more expensive than what had been the most expensive nonsuite season tickets ($300), but already 50 of the 56 recliner seats have been sold.

Reporters' Notebooks

Ben Malcolmson, USC Rips It: USC's Pete Carroll says he was involved in a fender bender Tuesday night with an L.A. County Sheriff's squad car on Pacific Coast Highway. "Everything’s OK, I was a little shaken up then, but I’m good now,” Carroll said. “Obviously there’s damage to the car, but fortunately there’s nothing worse." Plus, the scoop on Malcolmson's site.

Rodrigo Zamith, Minneapolis Star Tribune: A change of heart by Minnesota officials, who have notified they do not want mascot Goldy Gopher associated with Victoria's Secret upcoming Pink Collegiate Collection.

Mike Lucas, Capital Times: Former Nebraska and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is now a volunteer assistant for his son's high school team.

Addicted to Quack: Bad TV contracts, bad bowl games, unwillingness to look to the future. Outgoing Pacific 10 commissioner Tom Hansen is full of excuses.

Dave Matter, Columbia Tribune: Missouri backup quarterback Dominic Grooms has left the team because of personal reasons.

Jake Schaller, Colorado Springs Gazette: A new indoor athletic facility appears to be on the horizon for Air Force.

Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register: Iowa, which opened the 2007 season with a game against Northern Illinois in Chicago’s Soldier Field, wants to schedule another game at the venue, possibly in 2010.

Scott Wright, Oklahoman: Oklahoma senior starting left tackle Phil Loadholt was arrested Saturday along Interstate 35 on suspicion of driving under the influence and for allegedly transporting an open container.

College Baseball Blog: Coverage of Fresno State's improbable championship at the College World Series in Omaha.

Johnathan Goddard Bereavement Fund

Former Marshall defensive end Johnathan Goddard, the 2004 Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year, died earlier this month from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. There is a fund-raising drive to help the family pay funeral expenses, which total $13,000.

A football that was signed by Goddard is being auctioned on eBay, and a bereavement fund has also been started, with details available on this link.

Thanks to Matt.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Linebacker Lounge

The next best thing to having a bar on campus is having one across the street. Welcome to The Linebacker, which has been serving thirsty patrons in South Bend for 45 years.

On football Saturdays, former Notre Dame players and coaches mingle with the faithful, and a beer tent serves customers who can't fight their way inside. No wonder locals affectionately call it "The Backer."

Talk Four Horsemen or Ara Parseghian all you want, but what sets this establishment apart is a stripper's pole erected in the middle of the dance floor. As legend goes, the spirits flow and women decide to go for a spin as they vie for attention.

The inside is described as a "plethora of '70s-style wood paneling and a low-tiled ceiling." More than one online reviewer describes the Long Island ice teas as "potent."
Other reviews are generally favorable, but one visitor from San Francisco didn't care for his experience. "This place sucks. ... The music is pretty bad. If you like it, then you have bad taste in music. The floors are also disgusting while people are dancing; if you're wearing jeans, when you get home you'll think you spent your night mucking out a stable or wading through a shallow swamp."

Running a joint as popular as The Backer can be a royal pain in the rear, and owner Greg Delinski was asked in 2005 about visiting fans. Specifically, which ones present the biggest headaches.

"Ohio State is the worst," he told "I could go one and on about their fans, but they are the worst. Michigan and Michigan State fans are always bad. They stir up trouble. I think it is due to the close proximity of the schools to each other."

Have you visited The Backer? We'd like to hear about your experience. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Previous reviews: Esso Club (Clemson); Dirtbag's (Arizona); Bash Riprock's (Texas Tech); The Original Varsity Club (Ohio State); Walk-On's (Louisiana State); O'Connell's Irish Pub & Grille (Oklahoma); Top Of The Stairs (Virginia Tech).

Week 1, or Shall We Call It Weak 1?

It's shaping up as a lousy opening week for college football bettors. The first set of lines for games on Aug. 28 and Aug. 30 were posted at Doc's Sports (they have since been on and off the site) and the lack of marquee games was reflected in pointspreads.

Every game but one had a double-digit spread. The only exception was James Madison at Duke, with the Blue Devils a mere two-point favorite in David Cutcliffe's debut.

On the other end was Chattanooga at Oklahoma, with the Sooners listed as 47.5-point favorites.

Other games of note: Appalachian State at Louisiana State (-23); Youngstown State at Ohio State (-34); Tennessee Martin at South Florida (-39.5); Western Illinois at Arkansas (-23); Coastal Carolina at Penn State (-37);

Villanova at West Virginia (-35); Maine at Iowa (-22); Eastern Washington at Texas Tech (-33); Idaho State at Boise State (-44.5); Northern Arizona at Arizona State (-31.5).

Louisiana State and Texas Tech each had an opening on Aug. 30, but instead of playing each other, they opted for the lightweight approach to scheduling.

Seriously, is this what passes as competition in this day and age? It's laughable how the big teams run from each other. Just laughable. When does the actual season start?

Reporters' Notebooks

Claudia Zequeira, Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida will ban consumption of alcoholic beverages at tailgate parties on campus parking lots once kickoff starts. "We want people to enjoy the game once kickoff starts . . . not to be outdoors engaging in alternative behaviors," athletic department spokesman Joe Hornstein said. Thanks to Steve of SoCal Tennis.

Stephanie Taylor, Tuscaloosa News: Nick Saban continues to trim his roster. Jimmy Johns is the latest to go. The linebacker was charged with five counts of selling cocaine to undercover investigators. Johns is the 10th Crimson Tide player to be arrested within the past year and the second to face felony charges.

Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News: Saban would have been wise to cut Johns long before his arrest.

Scott Dochterman, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Now that the Big Ten Network has a deal with Comcast, it will ramp up pressure on other cable providers, including Mediacom.

Stewart Mandel, Mike Slive, the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference — the reigning darling of the college football world and proven ratings machine — says an SEC network "remains a very viable option." A decision is expected later this summer or early fall.

Mike Casazza, Charleston Daily Mail: Rich Rodriguez must reveal whether anyone else has agreed to pay the $4 million buyout that West Virginia's lawyers are trying to recover.

Bill Koch, Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati's Brian Kelly is waiting for clearance from university president Nancy Zimpher that would allow former Minnesota player Alex Daniels to become a member of the Bearcats' team. Daniels was one of four players dismissed from the Minnesota team in July 2007 after they allegedly were involved in an incident with an 18-year-old woman.

Alan Schmadtke, Orlando Sentinel: A defense lawyer in an obscenity trial recently used "Tim Tebow" as a search term in an attempt to show the popularity of pornographic sites on the Internet.

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii's game against Florida is set for a 12:30 p.m. start in Gainesville, which translates to 6:30 a.m. in Honolulu.

Meghan Montemurro, Daily Illini: Get ready for "Zook Zone" towels at Illinois. The towels will go on sale July 1 for $7 each, with $1 going toward the fight against cancer.

The Rivalry, Esq.: A tongue-in-cheek look at the cigar preferences of the coaching elite. Thanks to FanBlogs.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not. Here is today's hilarious mystery link. It comes with a language warning.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

White Owl Hits the Jackpot

Kansas' No. 1 fan is getting married. White Owl, who also goes by Jimmy Neal and Saul Tucker, and former Jayhawk student Julia Lee are planning to tie the knot. White Owl is 61, Lee 22.

While this union might might not be considered unusual in say, California, it's a different story in conservative Kansas, where dictatorial practices on who you can marry are the norm.

Fans have long known the wise, old Owl for his vocal support of the Jayhawks, rhythmic dancing and criticisms of the Vietnam War. Given that he knows how to put on the all moves, it was only a matter of time before White Owl found a mate. Check out this video of White Owl in action at last season's Nebraska-Kansas game in Lawrence.

But Lee's family is not happy about the daughter running off and getting married.

"They are still kind of struggling with this," Lee said. "My dad wants to meet with a third party so we can communicate about this. He wants to meet with me, my mom and a preacher to sort some of this stuff out. He wants this to end because he is not comfortable with this at all."

Thanks to Ryan of Gobbler Country.

Ray Ray Finds a New Home at Howard

Ray Ray McElrathbey, whose scholarship was not renewed in a sinister move by Clemson's Tommy Bowden, is headed to Howard University to continue his playing career.

McElrathbey gained custody of his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr in 2006 to get him away from a mother who was addicted to drugs and a father who was addicted to gambling. Last August he tore a knee ligament that required surgery. Then Bowden kicked him out the door in March.

McElrathbey reportedly considered Mississippi, Central Florida, North Carolina Central and Jacksonville State — where former Louisiana State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux now resides — before settling on Howard.

Barnhouse's Departure

Although newspapers have more readers than ever because of the Internet, circulation of the profitable printed product continues a steady decline. Revenue streams are drying up and the corporate-run media's answer is to cut its way to back to prosperity. In the meantime, good people are leaving the newspaper biz at an alarming rate.

On Monday, Wendell Barnhouse announced that at the end of this week, his run at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is over.

"After 36 years, 23 Final Fours, all 10 Bowl Championship Series title games and a half-dozen laptops, I'm done," he writes.

"I will begin working as a writer/blogger for the Big 12 Conference web site (so I'll need laptop No. 7). The Big 12 wants its web site to convey information about its schools in both video and story form. I'll be somewhat involved with the former and heavily involved with the latter. It's a great opportunity that I’m lucky to have considering the death spiral of major newspapers.

"McClatchy, which bought Knight-Ridder (and the Star-Telegram) a few years ago, is $2 billion in debt. Slicing $70 million in payroll, as it did recently by sacking 10 percent of its work force, doesn't make much of a dent in that debt. My job was safe. However, after two decades of covering national college basketball and more than a decade covering national college football, there is no travel budget for either sport. My assignment, had I stayed, would have been the Texas A&M beat. Nothing against the Aggies, but it was clearly time to bail out."

We wish Wendell continued successes in cyberspace. His weekly conference calls column was must-link material here on the Wiz.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jim Carty, Ann Arbor News: Louisiana State's Les Miles shared his first real insight into the erroneous report by ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit that he had been offered and accepted the Michigan job last December. Miles also said the Tigers would win the Southeastern Conference's West Division this fall.

Bill Koch, Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati is expecting a decision this week on quarterback Ben Mauk, who is down to his last appeal in an effort to gain a sixth season of eligibility.

Wayne Drehs, Excellent piece on how football is helping Parkersburg, Iowa, much of which was destroyed by an EF-5 tornado a month ago, find its way.

Patrick Ridgell, Longmont Times-Call: They don't come much bigger than this. Colorado's projected starting offensive tackles are Nate Solder (6-foot-8) and Ryan Miller (6-7).

Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida running back Ricky Kay was suspended from the team after he was charged with a felony and a misdemeanor for an incident that occurred on campus and caused over $5,000 in damage.

Anna Simon and Ed McGranahan, Greenville News: Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel was arrested and charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature after a woman reported an incident at McDaniel’s off-campus apartment.

Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas Morning News: The biggest booster of them all, T. Boone Pickens of Oklahoma State, is under attack from 10 men who served in Vietnam with Sen. John Kerry. Thanks to Eric!

Heisman Pundit: A look at some of the top candidates for the 2009 Heisman Trophy.

Kevin Donahue, FanBlogs: Kentucky has unveiled yet another change to its jerseys. Amazing thing, this Internet. You can now watch the 2008 BCS title game, the Sugar, Cotton, Orange and Fiesta bowls online. Thanks to Adam Rose of All Things Trojan.

The M Zone: Our man Yost announces that he's closing shop, ending a brilliant blogging run lasting nearly three years.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Washington State's Troubled Program

If Paul Wulff was looking for a challenge, he found it at Washington State, which has had an astonishing 25 players arrested or charged with offenses in the past 18 months.

Among the incidents:
  • One player faced felony charges after hitting a man on the head with a frying pan.
  • Another tried to hurt a teammate by soaking his contact lenses in alcohol.
  • A player was accused of punching a student, knocking him unconscious and fracturing his cheekbone.
Wulff, who has been the coach for only six months, also lost eight scholarships because the Cougars failed to meet NCAA academic standards in 2006-07. Former coach Bill Doba kidded Wulff by saying, "Just blame it on me. I'm gone."

But recruiting the right players to isolated Pullman — population 27,030 — might be Wulff's biggest challenge.

Courtney Williams, a defensive back from Los Angeles who left because of academic problems, said: "WSU is a hard school to go to, man. You ain't got nothin' to do but get drunk and smoke weed, and not go to class because you're too tired from doing what you're doing."

Reporters' Notebooks

Tim Stephens, Orlando Sentinel: The Superconference discussion continues. Why having 16 teams is advantageous to having only 12.

Michael Rosenberg, Detroit Free Press: Attention Big Ten fans: The Big Ten Network-Comcast deal doesn't define who won the long negotiations. Comcast is in this to win and the cable giant gets to define winning.

Scott Ferrell, Shreveport Times: When Mississippi State bumped Sylvester Croom's salary package to $1.7 million for next season, it meant every coach at a public institution in the Southeastern Conference will be making more than $1.5 million next season.

Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Advertiser: Wide-ranging interview with June Jones, who says even though he has moved from Hawaii to Southern Methodist, he still doesn't wear socks.

Kyle Hightowner, Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida is looking to slice $10.9 million from its budget because of recently ordered state cuts, but the athletic department budget will grow by 10%.

Donnie Webb, Syracuse Post-Standard: Receiver Mike Williams is plotting a course for his return to Syracuse.

Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman: The tab for the expansion project at Boise State's Bronco Stadium could go as high as $37.55 million.

Ron Musselman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: One "recruiting expert" says Penn State is being hurt by the uncertain status of Joe Paterno.

Patrick Ridgell, Longmont Times-Call: Former Colorado players Bernard Jackson and Lionel Harris have been arrested in connection with a June 5 robbery in Boulder. Jackson was the Buffs' starting quarterback in 2006.

Associated Press: Raycom Sports has announced a partnership with Jacked SportsTop, an Internet application that allows fans to view statistics, videos, photos, news and other interactive features during game telecasts.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The BCS' Self-Inflicted Wound

No playoff? No problem. After two years, the Bowl Championship Series appeared to be the solution to picking a true national champion, but all that came to a crashing end in 2000.

While undefeated Oklahoma breezed into the title game, the selection of one-loss Florida State marked the beginning of the BCS' fall from grace. The Seminoles were No. 3 in the Associated Press and coaches polls and leapfrogged No. 2 Miami for the spot opposite the Sooners in the Orange Bowl.

The media went berserk, calling into question the credibility of the computers and making note of the Hurricanes' 27-24 victory over the Seminoles. Miami's only loss came at home against Washington, 34-29, and the Huskies lost only once, at Oregon.

Controversy didn't end there. Enter Notre Dame, which was selected by the Fiesta Bowl over four other teams ranked ahead of the two-loss Fighting Irish. Virginia Tech had only one loss, and Nebraska two. One of the Cornhuskers' victories came against Notre Dame at South Bend. The Fighting Irish then were annihilated by Oregon State, 41-9, in Tempe.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Judge Agrees That Duke Is Godawful

A Circuit Court judge in Kentucky has sided with Duke in a breach of contract lawsuit brought forth by Louisville.

The Blue Devils backed out of a four-game series against the Cardinals with three dates remaining. The contract called for a penalty of $150,000 a game if a date with a "team of similar stature" could not be arranged.

Duke argued that its team, which is 6-45 the past five seasons, was so bad that any team would be a suitable replacement.

The judge sided with Duke.

"At oral argument, Duke (with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty) persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower. Duke's argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville," Judge Phillip J. Shepherd said in his summary.

"We're disappointed with the ruling," Louisville spokesman Kenny Klein said. "We will take our time to review the decision and explore our future options."

Thanks to Scott Brown at WKDZ Sports.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jared Janes, Baton Rouge Advocate: The Baton Rouge police department has released surveillance tapes showing the Oct. 26 fight outside the Varsity that led to the benching of former quarterback Ryan Perrilloux. Thanks to Get The Picture.

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame and NBC extended their TV deal from 2011 to 2015. “This is just a great day for Notre Dame,” puffed Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins.

Chip Brown, Dallas Morning News: Texas Tech's Mike Leach says basketball coach Pat Knight gave him a 6-foot pirate. "It's got a motion sensor, so the cleaning lady will come through my office at night when the place is dark. She opens the door, his eyes light up, his head moves and starts talking. She's had a number of unnerving experiences with the pirate."

Oklahoman: ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor John Anderson and his wife, Tamara, are Oklahoma State season ticket holders.

Ray Ratto, San Francisco Chronicle: A judge's ruling that California's long-delayed athletic training center is sort of legal and sort of not largely advances the legal notion that there really is something called "semi-pregnant."

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: The Texas Bowl will be played on Dec. 30, two days later than in previous years. Officials eventually hope to play the game on Jan. 1.

Jeff Rabjohns, Indianapolis Star: Indiana will replace the AstroPlay playing surface at Memorial Stadium. It was was damaged in a series of storms earlier this month.

Associated Press: Troubled Washington State safety Xavier Hicks has been ticketed for driving with a suspended license as he was driving home from jail.

Jason Riley, Louisville Courier-Journal: A charge of driving under the influence against Louisville's JaJuan Spillman was dismissed by a district court judge, but the receiver pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Ian R. Rapoport, Birmingham News: Alabama cornerback Lionel Mitchell, who started 10 games over two seasons, has ended his playing career because of back problems.

Kevin Donahue, FanBlogs: Louisiana Tech has unveiled new logos.

The Big Lead: Sports journalists' salaries, in two takes. Here and here.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Top Of The Stairs

If there is a stairway to heaven, it might well be in Blacksburg.

Welcome to Top of the Stairs, located just a short distance from Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium. Some locals actually consider this establishment — affectionately known as TOTS — as the town square. The joint, which opened in 1978, gets high marks for pulled pork sandwiches and live music. It also features a bitchin' outdoor deck.

We asked the head Hokie, Ryan of Gobbler Country, to give us a review:

"It's always packed. Good mix of students and alumni. Typically it will overflow from the bar area to the deck, especially after wins. I've never tried to get food on gamedays, which from appearances looks to be a pain. But it doesn't take long to get a drink. Bar staff is very quick.
"It can get a little crowded inside, especially later in the season when the temperatures fall in Blacksburg, so I usually brave the elements on the deck. After a couple of Rails, you don't notice how cold it is.

"I've never had a bad time there. For me, it's the place to go before a Hokie game if I'm not tailgating. Navigating down the stairs after getting over-served at TOTS can be a challenge, but it's well worth the risk."

Again, reviews are few and far between for TOTS, so if you've been there and have an opinion, we'd love to hear about it.

Previous reviews: Esso Club (Clemson); Dirtbag's (Arizona); Bash Riprock's (Texas Tech); The Original Varsity Club (Ohio State); Walk-On's (Louisiana State); O'Connell's Irish Pub & Grille (Oklahoma).

Reporters' Notebooks

Carolyn Jones and Charles Burress, San Francisco Chronicle: California's plan to build a state-of-the-art athletic training center next to Memorial Stadium is on hold until the university can prove the project would not violate state earthquake-safety laws, a judge ruled. Plus, a slideshow of the Berkeley tree-sitters, featuring "Dumpster Muffin."

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: The Big East Conference has parted ways with the Texas Bowl and will be replaced by Conference USA the next two years.

Shaggy Bevo: A very cool timelapse of the expansion project at Texas' Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium spanning three years. Thanks to TV Tan Line.

MGoBlog: How's that renovation of Michigan Stadium coming along? Here's a look from inside the Big House.

John E. Hoover, Tulsa World: Why do coaches love the bowls and wish to stay married to the BCS? More importantly, why do university presidents and conference commissioners favor the current system instead of a playoff? Thanks to Get The Picture.

David Climer, Tennessean: Gas might be $4 a gallon and the economy is struggling, but you can't tell it by college coaches' salaries, which continue to break the bank.

Tim Stephens, Orlando Sentinel: Notre Dame to the Pacific 10? He's back to clarify a few things about superconferences and thinning of the herd.

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: When it comes to breaking NCAA rules, the number of repeat offenders suggests that many teams simply believe the risk of punishment is worth the potential reward.

Jenna Marina, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Bill Curry will be paid $350,000 a year to coach Georgia State. This is what his resume looks like (PDF).

Brian Morelli, Iowa City Press-Citizen: Law enforcement officials struggled to preserve material from a month-old alleged sexual assault crime scene that court documents indicate they did not have access to but Iowa players did.

Aubrey Whelan, Daily Collegian: Football tickets for students entering their junior year sold out in about 90 seconds Tuesday morning, one day after a senior ticket sale that did not sell out for nine hours.

Natalie Meisler, Denver Post: Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild is on crutches after having hip replacement surgery this month.

Indianapolis Star: A decision on whether to repair or replace the turf at Indiana's Memorial Stadium, which was recently damaged in a series of storms, is expected by Friday.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not. Here is today's mystery link, plus this add. Thanks to Gordon Keith.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How Two Ballboys Saved Michigan's '97 Title

Stealing signs using the naked eye is perfectly legal. Seldom has it been done to the level of success mastered by Northwestern, writes Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press.

The Wildcats went 30 years without beating Michigan, but suddenly had a two-game winning streak in the series entering an Oct. 11, 1997 game at Ann Arbor. Sure enough, undefeated and No. 6-ranked Michigan found itself in a struggle against 2-4 Northwestern.

Then Michigan ballboys Jonathan Datz and Mike Youtan, who worked the opponents' sidelines at home games, noticed something.

"There was a guy on their sideline that day, and he had our signals down pat," Datz said. "Every time, he would scream into the defense what we're going to do — pass or run — and he was almost always right. ... They were blowing up draws, calling our counters and destroying our screen passes — all a big part of our plays that year. I was just screaming mad. Youtan and I are thinking to ourselves, 'This guy has us.' "

Early in the third quarter, Youtan ran around the field and got word to Michigan's coaches. On a third-and-25 play late in the third quarter, the Wolverines made an unusual call, a sweep. Northwestern swarmed the play, throwing running back Clarence Williams for a loss. Michigan coaches knew they had been had.

Adjustments were made and the Wolverines took control with a 12-play, 70-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Michigan won, 23-6, finished undefeated and ended up with a share of the national title.

Only recently did David Hansburg, a Northwestern graduate assistant back then, acknowledge he was stealing signals.

"That was what I would do," he said. "If I could see them signal in plays, I'd watch. This was no Spygate, and there was no video of anybody. I equated it to being like baseball when you've got a runner on second base; it's part of the game."

Hansburg also had a hand in Northwestern's victories in 1995 and '96. It was easy then, he said. All he had to do was watch Michigan center Rod Payne, a one-handed snapper who apparently put his opposite hand on the ground for a running play and on his thigh for a passing play.

Northwestern coaches pointed at the ground or the sky, and linebacker Pat Fitzgerald, who declined to be interviewed for the story, spread word to his teammates.

The Rocky Divorce of Mendenhall, Zook

Illinois made it all the way to Pasadena last season on the running of Rashard Mendenhall, but the Big Ten MVP left after his junior season and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. From the sound of it, he won't be back in Champaign for a long time.

"To tell you the truth, as long as Ron Zook is there it will be hard for me to support the University of Illinois football team," Mendenhall told Bob Asmussen of the News-Gazette of Champaign-Urbana.

Zook said: "I feel bad that he feels that way."

Mendenhall said he nearly quit days before the 2007 season only to be talked out of it by his brother, Walter, who was also a member of the team. Walker has since transferred to Illinois State for his final season of eligibility.

The Steelers' bye week is Oct. 11 and the Fighting Illini play host to Minnesota that weekend. But Mendenhall has already made plans to be in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to watch Walter play against Northern Iowa.

"The biggest thing I can stress is that it's not about my brother and what happened to him," Rashard said. "It's so much more than that. It's so much that's going on right now, that went on with me that people don't know. It's hard for me to support how things are done."

Thanks to Image of Sport.

Reporters' Notebooks

Ron Moseley, Eugene Register-Guard: Coach Todd Therrien of defending California state champion St. Bonaventure High said "Oregon is not welcome" to recruit his players after the Ducks ended their pursuit of safety Xavier Ramos on Monday.

Maria Matzer Rose, Columbus Dispatch: Columbus-based Victoria's Secret is rolling out loungewear lines for 33 universities, including Michigan, but not Ohio State — at least not yet. The CEO of the parent company also serves on Ohio State's board of trustees, creating possible conflict-of-interest issues.

Marcus R. Fuller, St. Paul Pioneer Press: Quarterback Clint Brewster, son of Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, is transferring. Destination unknown.

Iowa City Press-Citizen: Excerpts from the affidavit used by University of Iowa police to get a warrant to search rooms in connection with a sex assault investigation. Thanks to Gary at Steroid Nation.

Jesse DeConto and Javier Serna, Raleigh News & Observer: Defensive lineman Jared McAdoo, a North Carolina recruit from Chapel Hill High, faces a criminal charge for allegedly selling the prescription painkiller Percocet at a graduation after-party intended to be free of alcohol and drugs.

Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Liberty Bowl founder A.F. "Bud" Dudley died at the age of 88 after an extended illness.

Kyle Hightower and Iliana Limon, Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida president John Hitt says the school could have done a better job of handling the aftermath of player Ereck Plancher's death. Then he criticized the media's coverage of the incident.

Scott Wright, Oklahoman: Offensive lineman Britt Mitchell has left Oklahoma and enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: He has a confession to make: Don't follow the recruiting hype, especially his.

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: Defensive lineman Pat Kuntz, who spent the spring semester at Ivy Tech, is back at Notre Dame.

Ron Kantowski, Las Vegas Sun: Five-year contracts might be considered the "industry standard," but it's a bad practice for Nevada Las Vegas. Example 1A: Football coach Mike "6-29" Sanford.

Jake Schaller, Colorado Springs Gazette: Starting Air Force Z-receiver Ty Paffett is scheduled to undergo surgery for a herniated disc, but he hopes to be ready for fall drills.

Jay Paterno, Obama '08: Yes, that's right. The son of the Penn State coach is a blogger. Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State.

Joe Ovies, 850 The Blog: The sports sections of the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer are merging.

Here is today's highly recommended rockin' mystery link. Thanks to Houston.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fact: Tebow Won't Win Heisman in 2008

Billy Sims, Ty Detmer, Jason White and Matt Leinart. They've all had a shot at winning the Heisman Trophy a second time, but all came up short.

Get ready to add Tim Tebow to that list, the Heisman Pundit writes:

"There are many reasons why a Heisman winner can’t repeat (outside of Archie Griffin, of course). For starters, imagine how hard it is for a player to have ONE Heisman-worthy season. But to have back-to-back Heisman-worthy seasons? Forget about it!

"Furthermore, once such a season is accomplished, it must also be perceived as more worthy than all the other candidates in the running. In essence, everything has to fall perfectly into place for a player to win the Heisman ... once. For things to fall perfectly into place twice is highly unlikely."

And Tebow's biggest competition could be himself.

"He will be running not only against his peers, but the legacy of his incredible 2007 performance. If his stats do not compare to his sophomore season, then it will be hard to avoid the perception that he underachieved."

Fulmer to Get Fat Raise

Many Tennessee fans want to see Phil Fulmer replaced, but unless something unexpected happens, the 57-year-old coach is in no rush to leave.

"I'm committed for another eight to 10 years. At least," he told Bryan Mullen of the Tennessean.

Why is Fulmer so confident about his future in Knoxville? Mullen reports that Fulmer is about to get a fat raise, pushing his salary between $2.6 and $3 million a season, up from his current salary of $2.05 million.

And the extension could be for seven years.

"It's never been about money; it's never been about fame," Fulmer said. "I just enjoy the job."

Reporters' Notebooks

Dave Hickman, Charleston Gazette: Michigan's Rich Rodriguez attended the nearly 12-hour deposition given last week by West Virginia president Mike Garrison. Plus, Rich Rod acknowledged talking to Oklahoma's Bob Stoops "a few days before" the Sooners played the Mountaineers in the Fiesta Bowl. "I didn't divulge any secrets," he said.

Lee Hermiston and Brian Morelli, Iowa City Press-Citizen: Unsealed search warrant documents show Iowa players Cedric Everson, Abe Satterfield, Jevon Pugh and Michael Daniels Jr. were either inside or came by the Hillcrest Residence Hall room where a student allegedly was being sexually assaulted last fall while the victim was inside.

MGoBlog: Michigan appears to have a new road uniform and it looks somewhat West Virginia-esque.

Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal: The Discovery Channel is preparing a program that will focus on the death of Alabama booster Logan Young.

Colby White, Daily Texan: Magazine archives show that college football's postseason has long been a source of heated debate.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: If Miami (Ohio) is the Cradle of Coaches, does that make Alabama the Coaching Graveyard?

Kevin Donahue, FanBlogs: Think the Big Ten is a winner against Comcast? Think again. The league left millions on the bargaining table.

Michael Rothstein, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Welcome to the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame.

Losers With Socks: Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno clears up a few things about noise pollution.

Idaho Statesman: Demand is high among Boise State fans for tickets to the Broncos' Sept. 20 game at Oregon, and officials announced a lottery system to distribute the 2,000-ticket allotment for the game.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not. Here is today's valuable mystery link. Thanks to Get The Picture.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Adding Fuel to the Consolidation Fire

What does a map reflecting the current prices of gas in the U.S. have to do with college football? As fuel costs rise, so do the expenses for college teams. Combine that with the insane salaries paid to coaches, rising college costs other downturns in the economy and you have a recipe for consolidation and — dare we say it — a playoff system.

Tim Stephens of the Orlando Sentinel follows his "Thinning of the Herd" piece with a look at what superconferences could look like in the not too distant future. The BCS would consist of four 16-team leagues, each divided into two eight-team divisions. After conference title games, the four winners of each of the superconferences would advance to a four-team playoff.

The rest of the riff-raff reorganizes into five leagues, hoping that the greedy superconferences one day expand the playoff system to eight teams.

Thanks to Gas Buddy for the snazzy map, which you can click on to examine in detail.

O'Connell's Irish Pub & Grille

After extended time off to recover from one nasty hangover, we're back with the Thirst and 10 contest. Check out O'Connell's Irish Pub & Grille in Norman, the place for die-hard Oklahoma fans.

O'Connell's opened in 1968 and offers the usual trappings of big screen TVs, the finest selection of greasy food and — most important — beer. Memorial Stadium is right across the street (see image below), meaning you can consume up to the coin flip and make a made dash in an attempt to see the kickoff.

Outside of the joint being called pricey for college students, reviews in cyberspace are favorable. Ryan of the Virginia Tech site Gobbler Country has visited O'Connell's and had this to say:

"O'Connell's is the best gameday bar I've been to. The beer flows freely, there's not a lot of waiting for drinks and inside there are six flat screens that show football and a big projection screen in the parking lot that shows the best game on at the time.

"O'Connell's is just a classic college bar that has a tremendous gameday atmosphere. Perfect mix of beautiful college-aged women, college kids and alumni."
Now here's the very, very bad news. It's last call for O'Connell's! The damn university bought the land and the 2008 season is expected to be the last for O'Connell's. In it's place will go a parking lot. And they call that progress?

Previous reviews: Esso Club (Clemson); Dirtbag's (Arizona); Bash Riprock's (Texas Tech); The Original Varsity Club (Ohio State); Walk-On's (Louisiana State)

Big Ten Network-Comcast Feud Set to End

The Big Ten Network and Comcast have agreed to a deal whereby the league's channel will be made available over the cable carrier, nearly doubling the number of homes that will have access to the league's offering.

An announcement on the deal is expected this week, according to the Chicago Tribune. In March, Sports Business Journal reported that a framework for a deal was in place.

The sides have been squabbling for two years and it would appear — according to the reported terms of the deal — that the Big Ten won and won big.

The Big Ten's central demand was that the network be put on an expanded basic level rather than a sports tier in the league's eight-state footprint. It got that with the exception of the Philadelphia market, according to the Tribune.

The Big Ten also demanded $1.10 per month per subscriber and reportedly got between 70 and 80 cents. Given that the network will now be available in 55 million homes — up from 30 million — we're talking big, big money. In the eight Big Ten states alone, the number surges from 6.5 million to about 13 million.

This will also increase pressure on Time Warner, Mediacom and Charter to reach agreements with the Big Ten.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jon Solomon, Birmingham News: The top athletic program in the first 75 years of the Southeastern Conference? It's the Florida Gators. The best rivalry? That belongs to Auburn and Alabama. Plus the criteria used and a searchable database.

Mario F. Cattabiani, Philadelphia Inquirer: Pennsylvania legislators are on the take, including tickets to Penn State games, paid for by the university. "If they want to put me in jail over this, then go ahead," said Camille "Bud" George, a plain-talking representative from rural Clearfield County. "I am tired of this goddamn place anyway." Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State.

Jay F. Marks, Oklahoman: A Texas fan is seeking more than $100,000 in damages from an Oklahoma city bar and a Sooner fan for injuries he suffered to his scrotum in a "vicious attack" last summer.

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii and Southern Methodist are talking about a 2009 game at Aloha Stadium.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: Alabama abandon Kenny Stabler? Not in this hour of need.

Doug Smock, Charleston Gazette: Former Marshall defensive end Johnathan Goddard died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Let's Party Like It's 1999

The BCS Guru continues his review of what has gone right and what has gone wrong with the Bowl Championship Series by looking at the 1999 season. How could the BCS screw this one up? Florida State and Virginia Tech, both undefeated, finished atop the standings and met in the Sugar Bowl. The Hokies had a 29-28 lead entering the fourth quarter before the Seminoles turned on the afterburners and scored the last 18 points in a 46-29 victory.

But just like 1998 when unbeaten Tulane was left out of the party, a 12-0 Marshall team watched the big boys slug it out in the BCS bowls. And Kansas State, which lost only to Nebraska, was again passed up by the BCS.

All Things Heisman

If our math is correct, we're roughly six months from presenting the Heisman Trophy. Now it's never too early to think about that stiff-arm trophy, is it? And the Heisman Pundit has been busy preparing for the 2008 season with a redesign of his site. There are still a few tweaks to be made, but the majority of the heavy lifting is done. Check it out!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sign of Things to Come?

Funny image from the gang at Losers With Socks. Alabama fans are getting all too familiar with the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, which has been the Crimson Tide's postseason destination three times since 2001, including the past two seasons.

Reporters' Notebooks

Dan Zeiger, East Valley Tribune: Dane Guthrie, projected as Arizona State's starting tight end, will not return for his senior season. No reason was given, but he missed part of spring drills because of academics.

Andrea Cohen, Oklahoman: In part because of a $20 million donation from alumnus Sherman Smith, Oklahoma State will soon become the 10th team in the Big 12 to have an indoor practice facility. Plus a look at other indoor practice facilities in the Big 12.

Yoon Kim, The Technique: Georgia Tech is switching to more earth-friendly lights in Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Andrew Carter, Orlando Sentinel: Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, a native of West Virginia and former Mountaineer assistant, on recruiting kids from his home state: "If you sign five kids in West Virginia, that’s three too many.”

Detroit Free Press: Former Michigan State backup quarterback Connor Dixon is transferring to Duquesne.

FanBlogs: A look at the Orange Bowl, before, during and after.

College Baseball Blog: A preview of all the teams in the College World Series, which begins Saturday in Omaha.

Newshoggers: Bloggers beware: Associated Press is starting bogus copyright suits against those linking and quoting even the merest fraction of an AP news report.

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