Monday, August 25, 2008

The New, Improved Wiz, Version 2.0

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bottoms Up to Louisiana State, Kansas State

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2009 list of "America's Best Colleges." Congratulations to those Division I-A football-playing universities that made the top 25 — Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Virginia, UCLA, California — but let's get to the meat of the post: schools that didn't fare as well.

The associated ranking numbers of Tier I schools end at 130, so let's examine I-A universities in the bottom 25 of the 130. Louisiana State and Kansas State were ranked 130th, followed by Utah (127th).

Colorado State and Arkansas were tied at 125th, then came Arizona State (121st). Ohio, Kentucky and Washington State were grouped at 116, and Brigham Young and Texas Christian were tied at 113.

Rounding out the list were Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee, all tied at 108.

Arnold: Never Question My Hawk Loyalty

About that stop Tom Arnold made last week to an Alabama practice. The pride of Ottumwa, Iowa, now says he hasn't turned his back on the homestate Hawkeyes and that his trip to Tuscaloosa was in part because his girlfriend went to Alabama.

Arnold fired off an email to Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette to clear things up after Hlas had fun with Arnold's appearance in T-town, asking if the actor/comedian had become "Benedict Arnold."

Arnold wrote: "Okay, slam my work BUT NEVER question my Hawk G-Friend went to Bama..she’s got a place there, Nick Saban used to coach in the Big I took my godson, his mom and sisters to a closed practice with the AD to watch and say hello to Nick. (I did remind him of the Capital One Bowl a few years back and he’s a great guys so.. My godson, who’s the best 8 year old quarterback in Brentwood California, is being forced to go to Alabama (unless he gets into Harvard) by is mother.

"Of course I’ve pitched Iowa City but as you all know, with women, you’ve got to pick your battles and since he’s only 8..well…and while I’m here, where’s the Hawk Loyalty for OUR COACH??? He could’ve dumped us years ago..could’ve been head coach of the NY Giants, World Champs, but no, he’s loyal, so let’s try to stay off the man’s butt…we’re better than that. Tom"

Kansas Tries to Plug Security Leak

Kansas' $31 million upgrade to its football facilities was the source of much excitement in Lawrence, but that quickly subsided earlier this month when Mark Mangino marched his players onto two new practice fields. The big guy apparently realized that anybody could watch what the Jayhawks were doing.

Now the athletic department is going to spend another $90,000 in an attempt to give the team more privacy. Officials plan to plant 100 pine trees — ranging in height from 10 to 20 feet — around the fields beginning this week.

Mangino said Friday night that this has nothing to do with security, but associate athletic director Jim Marchiony told the Lawrence Journal-World otherwise.

“The real reason,” he said, “is just to allow for more privacy during practice with respect to how much can be seen and heard.”

Reporters Notebooks

Bart Wright, Greenville News: The spread offense continues to gain popularity in the college game, but the NFL takes a different view of the offense. Spread quarterbacks are often passed up by NFL teams because pro teams don't want to invest the time in training a player to work under center.

Palm Beach Post: Yes, he said it. Florida Atlantic's Howard Schnellenberger denied he questioned Texas' toughness, but video shows otherwise.

Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught six touchdown passes in 2007, has been diagnosed with strep throat and is being tested for mononucleosis. He's questionable for the opener against Idaho and could miss a month or more should he test positive for mono.

Ian R. Rapoport, Birmingham News: An Alabama fan who started going to games when he was 11 has calculated that the Crimson Tide's chances of winning improve by 8% when he is in attendance.

Caulton Tudor, Raleigh News & Observer: The Atlantic Coast Conference can talk a good game, but now it needs to win some, beginning Thursday when North Carolina State travels to South Carolina.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Tripper Johnson, 26, is giving up his dream of being a major leaguer and will walk-on at Washington. Coaches say he has a good chance of playing, either as a reserve safety or on special teams.

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: Taylor Zarzour, the sports director of radio station WPTF in Raleigh, didn't put Auburn in his Associated Press preseason top 25 and has been threatened by Tiger fans. Doug Segrest of the Birmingham News left Wisconsin out of his top 25 and is hearing it from Badger fans. Fans need to remember that this is only a game.

Here is today's mystery link.

Southern Mississippi

The Larry Fedora era at Southern Mississippi kicks off Saturday night when the Golden Eagles play host to Louisiana Lafayette. Fedora replaced Jeff Bower, who was forced out after 17 seasons. Bower's departure was controversial, considering his tenure at Hattiesburg was longer than all but three coaches in Division I-A — Penn State's Joe Paterno (42), Florida State's Bobby Bowden (32) and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (21). Bower's only losing seasons came in 1991 and '93. Thanks to Zac at Old Hat Creative.

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: UAB

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.

No. 7 Alabama Birmingham
Location: Birmingham, Ala.
Nickname: Blazers.
Conference: Conference USA, East Division.
Coach: Neil Callaway, 2-10, one season.
Division I-A history: 91-96-2 in 17 seasons, .486 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 2004.
Best record in last five years: 7-5 in 2004.
Rank(ed) because: Even when this program started out as a Division III team in 1991 (and lost its first game to Millsaps, 28-0), the Blazers never failed to win at least four games each season. In Watson Brown's final season (2006), UAB won three games. In Neil Callaway's debut season, the Blazers went one worse and won only two games. As CUSA has improved, UAB has slipped.
Negative number: In UAB's 10 losses, the Blazers gave up fewer than 30 points only once — a 25-9 loss to Memphis. In five of the losses, UAB gave up 40 or more.
Possible victory: At Tulane, Nov. 15. Selecting a conference road game is a leap of faith. But the Green Wave also reside in the Bottom 25 (No. 11). If UAB hasn't lost hope by this point of the season, this is a game it should win.
Biggest blowout: At Tennessee, Sept. 13. The Volunteers will be looking to move up in the polls and tune up for their game with Florida the following Saturday. The Blazers have to hope Tennessee is lacking focus.
Is there hope?: A number of players left the team before last season because of raised standards in academics, offseason behavior and workouts. That reduced the roster to 60 scholarship players and contributed to the 2-10 record, but Callaway believes that sent a message and that his staff is recruiting solid citizens who also are good players.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kansas State

Are Kansas State players about to have an afterlife experience? This poster schedule depicts the Wildcats in the tunnel entering Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Some fans are questioning if Kansas State is headed in the right direction after the team imploded in the second half of 2007, giving up an average of 49.5 points in the final four games. Nonetheless, Ron Prince was given a new contract.

Why Are You Here?

We're hours from cutting off all contact with this Blogger address, so if you have yet to receive the memo, we've moved the site to The Wiz of Go there, bookmark it, tell your friends, your neighbors, perhaps even your relatives.

Reporters Notebooks

Patrick Reusse, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minnesota coach Tim Brewster's speech at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul was a good hot-air test for the Republican National Convention that will be held in the building early next month.

Scott Dochterman, Cedar Rapids Gazette: The Big Ten Network has reached an agreement with Mediacom, the largest cable provider in Iowa.

Don Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The dispute between the Big Ten Network and Time Warner continued when the cable operator offered to air two Wisconsin games on a pay-per-view basis, with the proceeds going to the university.

Barry Jackson, Miami Herald: Miami suspended quarterback Robert Marve for the opener against always-tough Charleston Southern. That means freshman Jacory Harris is expected to start Thursday night's game.

Andrea Cohen, Oklahoman: Oklahoma State and Texas Tech officials can't decide where to play their 2009 game in Dallas. Oklahoma State and T. Boone Pickens want to play at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium. Tech officials want to use the Cotton Bowl, in part because former Red Raider quarterback John Scovell is on the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association Board.

Pat Harty, Iowa City Press-Citizen: Iowa has no business being a .500 team, but if it goes 6-6 again, things are going to turn ugly.

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: Austen Arnaud will start at quarterback for Iowa State, which opens the season Thursday against South Dakota State.

Joe Ovies, 850 The Blog: Redshirt freshman Russell Wilson will start at quarterback for North Carolina State in the opener Thursday against the South Carolina.

Bob Wieneke, South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame starting tight end Mike Ragone will miss the season after surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Luke Meredith, Associated Press: If you're looking to find rosters to fill in the blanks for EA Sports' NCAA Football '09, check out Game

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: Louisiana Lafayette

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.

No. 8 Louisiana Lafayette
Location: Lafayette, La.
Nickname: Ragin' Cajuns.
Conference: Sun Belt.
Coach: Rickey Bustle, 26-44 in six seasons.
Division I-A history: 460-489-31 in 100 seasons, .485 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: None. (Louisiana Lafayette played in the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl, which is not recognized as a "major" bowl game.)
Best record in last five years: 6-5 in 2005.
Rank(ed) because: Bustle, a former Virignia Tech assistant, has a program that is built on a solid rushing attack (seventh in the Division I-A last season with 250 yards per game. The Ragin' Cajuns, though, can't do much else. They were 100th or worse in six statistical categories — passing offense, net punting, punt returns, rushing defense, total defense, scoring defense.
Negative number: 21. The scoring margin in last season's 38-17 loss at home to McNeese State, which in case you don't keep track of things is a Division I-AA team. Losing to a I-AA team — bad. Losing to a I-AA team that can use the victory as a bargaining chip for recruits in your home state — worse.
Possible victory: Florida International, Nov. 1. The visitors are one of the few teams that are ranked better (worse?) in the Bottom 25 than La-La. Considering the schedule before this game, the Ragin' Cajuns might be seeking their first victory when the Panthers travel to Louisiana.
Biggest blowout: At Illinois, Sept. 13. Playing a road game against a solid Big Ten team is a two-course menu for a big loss.
Is there hope?: Everywhere but in the win column. Bustle can boast of his team's classroom work that is producing an upward-tracking Academic Progress Rate. Season ticket sales are up, the school has built a new indoor practice facility with a new weight room next for construction. But the Ragin' Cajuns don't appear capable of moving North of the six-win level.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Trouble Brewing at Alabama

Seriously, what have the good people of Alabama done to deserve this?

Tom Arnold, left, the pride of Ottumwa, Iowa, whose erratic behavior has become a source of embarrassment to Hawkeye fans, has apparently turned his back on his former university. He was spotted Thursday in Tuscaloosa, schmoozing with Nick Saban, joking with athletic director Mal Moore and attending an Alabama practice.

Arnold, whose major Hollywood accomplishment was marrying Roseanne Barr, reportedly claimed his son will one day play at Alabama.

One problem with this. Arnold doesn't have a son. At least not yet.

This came shortly after a report that Saban may have complained about his being shorter in a Coca-Cola advertising campaign using a cardboard cut-out of the coach alongside colleagues Tommy Tuberville and Houston Nutt (thanks to EDSBS). The cut-outs were eventually made the same size, much to the surprise of Nutt, reportedly the tallest member of the three Southeastern Conference coaches.

All this followed our earlier report of Alabama bringing in the Pacific Institute to help players with mental conditioning/character development issues. An anonymous reader took note of the affirmations given to Crimson Tide players and came up with one for Saban:

"I am the unquestioned master of my domain. My power frustrates all who live in my world. There is nothing regarding the football program that is not under my micro-management control. My power is important to me! I will out-recruit, out-work, out-earn and out-maneuver any and all of my coaching peers. I am committed to returning Alabama football to its rightful place among college football's elite. I will entertain other job offers if they offer me more money but I will believe my own words when I say that I am not interested in other jobs. My methods are perfect. I close practices unless allowing in certain people benefits myself or my program. I learned by secretive ways from the best but I am even better than my teachers. I control the media! I control the fans! I CONTROL ALABAMA FOOTBALL!"

Ohio State Tops Preseason BCS Standings

Huh? That's right, we have the preseason Bowl Championship Series standings in hand, thanks to Sam Chi, the BCS Guru, and Ohio State — the team everybody loves to hate — is No. 1.

USC is No. 2, making the Sept. 13 meeting between the Buckeyes and Trojans at the L.A. Coliseum of Herculean importance. Georgia is No. 3, Oklahoma sits at No. 4 and Florida resides at No. 5. The rest of the top 10: No. 6 Missouri, No. 7 Louisiana State, No. 8 West Virginia, No. 9 Clemson and No. 10 Texas. Every team that received at least a single vote in the Associated Press or coaches poll is placed in Sam's BCS standings, all the way down to a tie for 57th between Washington and Hawaii.

What is Sam's methodology for his preseason rankings? He writes: "It's the same formula that produces the official BCS standings, with two exceptions: 1) Since the Harris Interactive Poll that accounts for 1/3 of the standings won't be available until late September, the AP poll is used in its place; 2) None of the six BCS computers publish preseason ratings, so ratings from 20 computers that do are used. The highest and lowest ratings for each team are discarded, and the remaining 18 averaged to produce the computer score."

The first set of official standings won't be released until Sunday, Oct. 12, but Wiz readers will once again be ahead of the curve in 2008. Sam will be providing us with updated standings on Saturday nights throughout the season so you'll know about 18 hours in advance of the "official" announcement on Fox of where your team stands each week.

Reporters' Notebooks

Chris Givens, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Arkansas is expected to extend its deal to play games at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock through 2016. Arkansas will not be required to play more than two games a season at War Memorial in the remaining eight years of the contract.

On Campus, Orlando Sentinel: Best theme for a college football special section? It belongs to the Sentinel, which got Barack Obama and John McCain to pose for the cover shot. Plus a link to the section, which carries a political theme throughout.

Tom D'Angelo: Palm Beach Post: Florida State is preparing a written response to the NCAA’s notice of allegations of academic fraud and should release the document on or around Sept. 12.

Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Advertiser: Quarterback Tyler Graunke, the expected starter for Hawaii until he was suspended because of "academic issues," has been reinstated to the team.

Curtis Anderson, Eugene Register-Guard: Quarterback Nate Costa, Oregon's expected starter, suffered an injury of unknown severity to his left knee.

Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle: Sophomore Kevin Riley was named the starting quarterback for California, edging out senior incumbent Nate Longshore.

Jeremy Fowler, Orlando Sentinel: Florida defensive tackle Torrey Davis has been cited twice since April of driving with knowledge of a suspended license. He has a court date of Sept. 22.

Chip Cosby, Lexington Herald-Leader: Former Kentucky quarterback Curtis Pulley has enrolled at Florida A&M. Thanks to Scott.

Sports By Brooks: Penn State's opener against Coastal Carolina just got easier. Chanticleer receiver William Chandler was suspended after being charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Mercedes Mayer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Texas Christian unveiled a 40,000 square-foot facility that houses a team meeting room, a players-only club, six suites, club-level seating, an academic center and a dining area.

Shannon Shelton, Detroit Free Press: Michigan State held a dedication ceremony for a 25,000-square-foot addition to the Duffy Daugherty Football Building.

College Football Walk On: The new site plans to establish an award to honor the collegiate walk-on player of the year.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not.

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: Eastern Michigan

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.

No. 9 Eastern Michigan
Location: Ypsilanti, Mich.
Nickname: Eagles.
Conference: Mid-American, East Division.
Coach: Jeff Genyk, 13-33 in five seasons.
Division I-A history: 425-498-47 in 115 seasons, .462 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 1987.
Best record last five years: 4-7 in 2004 and 2005.
Rank(ed) because: Unfulfilled promises. The Eagles have spent the last few seasons appearing to be a team ready to turn the corner. The corner is still there and Eastern Michigan's turn signal is still blinking. Over the last three seasons, the Eagles have 12 losses decided by eight or fewer points. This is a program that has yet to learn how to win.
Negative number: Since finishing 6-5 in 1995, the program's last winning season, Eastern Michigan is 35-89.
Possible victory: Indiana State, Aug. 28. The Sycamores have lost 31 of their last 32 games. Eastern Michigan should be able to make it 32 out of 33.
Biggest blowout: At Michigan State, Sept. 6. A victory followed by a loss. The Eagles aren't ready to compete in a Big Ten Conference road game.
Is there hope?: For Genyk, there had better be hope — and victories — in this, his fifth season. This season's team is experienced — 16 returning starters and 46 lettermen. That needs to translate into more than three or four victories.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.

Brigham Young

Brigham Young, winner of 22 games the past two seasons, hasn't lost a Mountain West Conference game since 2005. A favorable schedule should enable the Cougars to be in the hunt for a Bowl Championship Series game. Early tests come at Washington and at home against UCLA. A midseason game at Texas Christian could be tricky, and don't forget about the regular-season finale at rival Utah.

Countdown to Kickoff

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A Reminder That the Wiz Is Moving

If you haven't already, please bookmark our new site, The Wiz of We are moving operations to that site after this weekend and this Blogger address will no longer be updated. Don't be left behind!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Will Leach Set Sail for Jamaica?

Captivated by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's stunning athleticism? You're not alone. Bolt toyed with the competition in winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes in world-record time at the Beijing Olympics. Now the Pirate himself, Mike Leach, would like to put Jamaica on his recruiting map.
"I got to be honest, I've been thinking about recruiting Jamaica since I saw that stuff," Leach said, presumably joking (you never know with the Texas Tech coach). "I've been to Jamaica and let me tell you something ... here's the extent that I've thought about that subject, there's approximately 2.8 million people in Jamaica, Bigfootwhich is approximately the size of the state of Iowa or Kansas, or the city of Houston.

"It's almost like the country of Jamaica is sitting there saying, 'If you would have just told us that this was important we could have won a lot of this stuff a long time ago.' "

Now if you're a Southeastern Conference coach who took note of reports last week that Bigfoot was found running around Northern Georgia, forget about it. As much as we'd enjoy seeing Phil Fulmer bump into Urban Meyer on the Bigfoot recruiting trail, it turned out to be a big hoax.

But wouldn't Bigfoot look good on the defensive line?

Reporters' Notebooks

Rick Malwitz, East Brunswick Home News Tribune: Is George Zoffinger, a member of Rutgers board of governors, the source for a series of articles by the Newark Star-Ledger detailing financial shortcomings in the athletic department? Some say Zoffinger wants to become Rutgers athletic director. Thanks to Stephen.

Josh Margolin, and Ted Sherman, Newark Star-Ledger: Contractors are behind in completing renovations to Rutgers Stadium, with crews working 10-hour shifts seven days a week to complete a new mezzanine section that includes 1,000 premium club seats and boxes. The Scarlet Knights' opener against Fresno State is 11 days away and tickets for the mezzanine seats have already been sold.

Awful Announcing: ESPN has announced its broadcasting teams. There are some surprising pairings.

Donald Heath, Savannah Morning News: Georgia's "tough" schedule just got a little easier. Eight Georgia Southern players have been suspended for the opener against the Bulldogs.

Kissing Suzy Kolber: Is Matt Simms' career going up in smoke at Louisville? A photo suggests that might be the case for the suspended quarterback.

Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The most obnoxious fans in the Southeastern Conference reside in Florida.

Joseph Goodman, Miami Herald: Perhaps Jamar Hornsby deserves a second chance at Florida.

Bill Koch, Cincinnati Enquirer: There's still a chance Ben Mauk will be Cincinnati's starting quarterback. The NCAA agreed to re-hear Mauk's appeal for a sixth year to complete his four years of eligibility.

Kevin Donahue, FanBlogs: Does Florida State's 2010 schedule hint at Bobby Bowden's retirement?

Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press: The NCAA put New Mexico on three years of probation and cut five scholarships as punishment for academic violations involving two former assistant coaches.

Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman: Boise State will start a redshirt freshman at quarterback. Kellen Moore won the job over senior Bush Hamdan after a seven-and-a-half month battle.

Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Fifth-year senior Allan Evridge, who started six games as a redshirt freshman at Kansas State in 2005, was named Wisconsin's starting quarterback.

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: The Iowa State-Kansas State series is moving to Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium in 2009 and 2010. Each athletic department will receive a $1.8 million guarantee that will be payable over both years, plus 40% of the gate receipts.

Robert Cessna, Bryan-College Station Eagle: Texas A&M ended two-a-days with a water balloon fight between the offense and defense.

Scott F. Davis, Northwest Arkansas Times: Arkansas receiver Marques Wade, whose body had the "odor of intoxicants" when he was arrested on July 26, was sentenced to pay fines, court costs and complete 16 hours of community service on drunk driving and careless driving charges.

Trojan Wire: Check out the insane Joe McKnight video.

Martin Grau Will Remain at OFS

The good people of Bossier City, La., are likely relieved now that Martin Grau, who for weeks has been flirting with that opening Flint, Mich., announced that he will remain at Office Furniture Source. We never seriously thought Grau would leave, not after word leaked that his hourly wage was boosted from $6.55 to $6.75. Nonetheless, it was enough for Grau to have a Les Miles moment.

Thanks to Brian Grummell at FanHouse.

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: New Mexico State

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.

No. 10 New Mexico State
Location: Las Cruces, N.M.
Nickname: Aggies.
Conference: Western Athletic.
Coach: Hal Mumme, 8-29 in three seasons, 115-93-1 overall in 17 seasons.
Division I-A history: 410-538-31 in 112 seasons, .434 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 1960.
Best record last five years: 5-6 in 2004.
Rank(ed) because: Hal "The Mad Bomber" Mumme has yet to produce a winning season in Las Cruces despite his offense putting up Arena Football League numbers. Even worse, of the eight victories the Aggies have bagged over Mumme's three seasons, only four have come against Division I-A teams.
Negative number: Five. That's the number of statistical categories where the Aggies ranked in triple digits — 109th in rushing offense, 118th in kickoff returns, 105th in pass defense, 107th in scoring defense, 113th in turnover margin.
Possible victory: Nicholls State, Sept. 4. This is the only Division I-AA opponent on New Mexico State's schedule so it has to be a victory, right?
Biggest blowout: At Nebraska, Sept. 13. The Huskers' defense wants to prove it no longer resembles a sieve. Senior quarterback Chase Holbrook will be a moving target for Nebraska's pass rushers. Considering the Aggies' lack of success versus I-A teams, playing on the road against a BCS opponent could make for an ugly outcome.
Is there hope?: Mumme hired Joe Lee Dunn, a veteran coordinator from the Southeastern Conference, toughen up the Aggies' defense. If New Mexico State can start holding a few foes under 30 points, it might be able to beat some I-A teams.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.


Illinois is coming off a surprising 9-4 season that included a trip to the Rose Bowl, but can the Zooker keep it rolling? Consider that the Fighting Illini, who lost running back Rashard Mendenhall, haven't put together back-to-back winning seasons since 1989-90. Defenses will be loading up to stop quarterback Juice Williams, who will have to develop a passing touch. Illinois opens Aug. 30 against Missouri in the Arch Rivalry game in St. Louis. Thanks to Victor.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This Update From the Alabama Politburo

First we learn that Alabama recently brought in the Pacific Institute to help players with mental conditioning/character development issues (i.e. brainwashing; more on that later). Now comes word that Jolly Old Saint Nick Saban pulled scrimmage highlights off Tide TV, a university-run premium site where subscribers pay $120 a year to get, among other things, scrimmage highlights.

Ian Rapoport reported that the roughly two-minute clip from Saturday's work at Bryant-Denny Stadium had been pulled from TideTV. "That's right," he wrote. "The in-house video service run by the athletic department was seriously edited." Then the Birmingham News reporter found out that it was Saban who ordered the highlights be pulled from the site.

"It's no big deal," Saban said. "I don't think that's something that we want to do. That's why we close practice — so that the other team can't see us. We got on the Internet to see if we could see any of Clemson's plays from their scrimmage and didn't see any. That's not what people usually do when you're getting ready to play a game, to advertise on TV or the Internet. I'm not pleased about it, but it's something that can be corrected and it won't happen again."

The public and media are barred from practices or scrimmages by Saban, unless of course it can somehow benefit the coach.

Saban's influence reaches far beyond Tuscaloosa. In April, Mobile Press-Register reporter Gentry Estes wrote a blog post that was critical of the coach's closing of practices. Two days later, the post was deleted by the newspaper with no explanation. Saban is suspected to have complained about the post.

As for the brainwashing exercises, the Pacific Institute was paid $39,000 to conduct the development classes. Here is one affirmation given to players regarding classwork: "I attend all classes with an open mind and with a positive attitude to learn. I'm excited to learn something new every day! My education is important to me. I'm committed to seizing the opportunities that have been given to me. I maintain a 3.5 GPA. I take the time to study, realizing that it is the reiteration that helps me to assimilate what it is I’m learning."

Offensive linemen: "I am an excellent pass blocker. My technique is perfect. I stay low creating a solid base while establishing balance. I sustain my blocks, providing my QB time to complete every pass. My drive blocking is outstanding. I create holes in the defense by driving my opponent off the line of scrimmage. I then use my body to wall off my opponent, preventing him from making the tackle."

Receivers: "I run my routes with precision. I blow by the defender, creating separation. I look the ball into my soft but strong hands, securing it and then I run to daylight. I catch every ball that’s thrown my way and I celebrate when my number is called because I am a big playmaker."

Defensive backs: "I frustrate receivers because I stick to them like glue. I remain calm and relaxed and seek all opportunities to make big plays. Because I am a student of the game of football, I recognize routes as they unfold and always position myself to defend and/or intercept the pass. I'm skilled, I'm fast and I am an aggressive force to be reckoned with. I am a fantastic open-field tackler. I play suffocating defense all the time!"

Defensive linemen: "I am a dominant defensive player. I control the line of scrimmage, making it difficult for the offense to advance the ball. I'm strong and tenacious. I can't be blocked. My pass rush is ferocious. I'm quick off the ball and blow by my opponent, sacking the QB. I am a bad man!"

You can view a video of one of the classes by clicking here.

Don't Touch That Radio Dial

I'll be a guest of Chris Plank on Tulsa's 1430 The Buzz at 3:30 p.m. (Central). You can listen live through 1430's site. If you're out and about on weekends, you've probably heard Chris handling the weekend third shift (1-5 a.m. Central) every Friday and Saturday on Fox Sports Radio.

Looking for a guest for your show? Just drop an email to dawizofodds (at)

Reporters' Notebooks

Josh Margolin and Ted Sherman, Newark Star-Ledger: More trouble at Rutgers, where auditors found the athletic department subsidized the travel costs of boosters and other VIPs who accompanied the Scarlet Knights on charter flights to bowl games the past three years. This came at a time when the university was hiking tuition and cutting academic budgets.

C.L. Brown, Louisville Courier-Journal: Louisville has suspended backup quarterback Matt Simms for four games because of a violation of team policy. Simms is the son of former NFL quarterback Phil Simms.

Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World: One huge problem with Kansas' beautiful new practice fields: anybody can watch practice, including spies.

Joe Ovies, 850 The Blog: Virginia is banning all signs at its athletic events. From “Go Cavs!” to “Fire Groh!” to "SportsCenter Is Next." Officials want a “positive game-day environment.”

Heisman Pundit: Is this the start of a Heisman deluge for the Southeastern Conference?

Moisekapenda Bower, Houston Chronicle: Rice's marketing efforts for its opener against Southern Methodist include a cook-off, a keyboardist, climbing walls, balloon animals and face painting. Houston mayor Bill White will serve as an honorary coach and conduct the ceremonial coin toss and furniture impresario Jim McIngvale will be recognized for his advertising contributions.

John Helsley, Oklahoman: How close was Bob Stoops to taking the Iowa job 10 years ago? "If Iowa really wanted me, it would have been there and present there, too, before the interview. It wasn't. So you live and learn." Plus, what qualities got Stoops the Sooner job and a timeline of his hiring.

FanHouse: Oklahoma is making life difficult for former receiver Josh Jarboe, who has transferred to Troy.

Bryan Mullen, Tennessean: Tennessee tight end Brandon Warren, a transfer from Florida State, was cleared to play this season by the NCAA.

Tom Kubat, Lafayette Journal and Courier: Purdue running back Jaycen Taylor is lost for the season after tearing a ligament in his right knee.

Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dallas Morning News: Quarterback Justin Willis, who started 22 of the last 23 games for Southern Methodists, says he does not plan to transfer after being demoted to third string.

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: Former USC running back Reggie Bush and his parents are appealing a recent Superior Court decision that denied their attempt to have a lawsuit against them settled in confidential arbitration and out of public court. Thanks to Mike.

Waco Tribune-Herald: Baylor has extended its series with Rice through 2016.

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: Tulane

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.

No. 11 Tulane
Location: New Orleans.
Nickname: Green Wave.
Conference: Conference USA, West Division.
Coach: Bob Toledo, 4-8 in one season, 82-46 overall in 14 seasons.
Division I-A history: 482-555-38 in 114 seasons, .466 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 2002.
Best record last five years: 5-6 in 2004.
Rank(ed) because: Considering this program's home city is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, putting Tulane in the Bottom 25 smacks of cruel and unusual punishment. But the Green Wave has always struggled to survive. Tulane's defense has made winning as difficult as surviving — over the last five seasons, the team has never given up fewer than 31.3 points per game.
Negative numbers: 115 and 114. That's where Tulane was nationally ranked, respectively, in punt returns and kickoff returns. The special teams just weren't special.
Possible victory: Louisiana Monroe on Sept. 20. This Sun Belt Conference foe won't be a pushover but this is a nonconference home game the Green Wave should win.
Biggest blowout: At Alabama, Sept. 6. For the second consecutive season, Tulane isn't playing on the first weekend of the season. Opening on the road in Tuscaloosa against a Crimson Tide team that's already played a game (against Clemson) is a losing combination.
Is there hope?: Toledo has proven to be a winner and he is concentrating on in-state recruiting. Tulane won two of its last three games and three of last season's losses were by five or fewer points. Tulane can improve and move above .500 ... just don't expect any 12-0 seasons like 1998.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.


Michigan is all about the Big House, which played host to the largest crowd in NCAA college football history on Nov. 22, 2003, when 112,118 packed the joint for a game against Ohio State. Click the image for a closer inspection and you'll see the winged helmets blended into the gray sky. Thanks to Zac at Old Hat Creative.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Don't Get Left Behind

No child left behind. Yes, that's our goal. In case you missed it, the site is moving to We won't be updating this blogspot address after the weekend, so now is the time to bookmark the new site. You don't want to be left behind.

Reporters Notebooks

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: San Diego State games at Qualcomm Stadium have cost city taxpayers more than $310,000 in losses the past two years.

Barton Deiters, Grand Rapids Press: Michigan's Kevin Grady blew a 0.281 — more than three times the legal limit — when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated on July 2. The police report said an officer asked the running back for a number between 12 and 14 and Grady answered "15." When asked whether Mickey Mouse is a dog or a cat, Grady answered "dog."

Terry Hutchens, Indianapolis Star: Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis says too much partying led to his suspension last March. "I must have thought I was in Los Angeles, Calif., or something," he said. "I got into the rock star mentality and I took it way too far."

Mike Fields, Lexington Herald-Leader: Jerrell Greene, a standout running back who committed to Kentucky in April, was kicked off his high school team and won't play his senior season. Greene was charged with first-degree robbery in June after he allegedly tried to steal cough medicine from a Kroger pharmacy and got in a fight with store employees before he was arrested. Thanks to Scott.

C.L. Brown and Jody Demling, Louisville Courier-Journal: Scott Long, Louisville's most experienced receiver, is likely to miss the opener against Kentucky after breaking a bone in his left foot. And Justin Burke, a quarterback at North Carolina State, is transferring to Louisville.

Ian Rapoport, Birmingham News: A copy of CBS' preliminary TV schedule for games this fall is working its way around the blogosphere.

Ryan Autullo, Toledo Blade: Bowling Green's secondary has set a goal of 33 interceptions this season.

Tom Kubat, Louisville Courier-Journal: Purdue running back Jaycen Taylor injured his right knee and could miss significant time.

Bobbi Roquemore, Dallas Morning News: Justin Willis, a junior who has started 22 of the last 23 games and holds Southern Methodist's team record with 51 career touchdown passes, was demoted to third string.

Lonnie White, Los Angeles Times: Transfer Kevin Craft has been named UCLA's starting quarterback.

Sandra McKee, Baltimore Sun: Jordan Stuffy has been named Maryland's starting quarterback.

Dugan Arnett, Lawrence Journal-World: Kansas is suddenly down to one kicker on its roster.

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: South Florida defensive line coach John Hendrick, who suffered a heart attack July 1, returned to practice after being cleared by his doctors.

Bryant-Jon Anteola, Fresno Bee: Fresno State defensive coordinator Dan Brown, who had been recovering from brain cancer, underwent additional head surgery but is expected to coach this season.

Joe Ovies, 850 The Blog: Veteran columnist Frank Dascenzo is retiring from the Durham Herald-Sun.

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The SEC Is Better Than the Big Ten

Our man Ryan Parker is back in the house and preparing for the 2008 season with "The SEC Is Better Than the Big Ten." If you want to sing along, the lyrics are posted at Ryan Parker Songs. Enjoy!

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: Rice

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.

No. 12 Rice
Location: Houston.
Nickname: Owls.
Conference: Conference USA, West Division.
Coach: David Bailiff, 3-9, second season; 24-24 overall in four seasons.
Division I-A history: 416-535-32 in 96 seasons, .439 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 2006.
Best record last five years: 7-6 in 2006.
Rank(ed) because: Like other academic-oriented Division I-A schools, Rice is always pushing a big rock up a steep hill. For the Owls, though, the rock is bigger and the hill is steeper because they play in a non-BCS conference. That means the revenue sharing stream is much shallower. Rice is the smallest I-A school in terms of enrollment and its football history is faded.
Negative number: 4-2-5. That's the alignment used by defensive coordinator Chuck Driesbach. Last season it yielded nearly 511 yards per game. Rice won a 56-48 shootout and lost a game by the same score.
Possible victory: Southern Methodist, Aug. 29. The season opener on a Friday night ... in Houston ... in late summer. The Owls have to hope that the Mustangs will melt but at the least struggle in June Jones' coaching debut.
Biggest blowout: At Texas, Sept. 20. A rematch of two former Southwest Conference teams; last year's result was a 58-14 Longhorn victory.
Is there hope?: Todd Graham got the Owls to a bowl game in 2006 then slipped out the back door and took the job at C-USA rival Tulsa. That kinda sums up what an up-and-coming coach thought about Rice. The Owls have a record-setting senior quarterback in Chase Clement but they play four of their first six games on the road.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.

Boston College

Boston College has won eight bowl games in a row, the longest streak in Division I-A. Quarterback Chris Crane will try to keep the streak going. He replaces Matt Ryan, the third overall pick in the NFL draft. Atlantic Coast Conference opponents Virginia Tech and Clemson come to Chestnut Hill, two of the Eagles' seven home games. A reminder that you can click the poster for an enlarged view. Thanks to Andrew.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Wiz, Version 2.0: We're Moving the Site!

After three years of using Blogger, I have decided to move the site to If you're still using the blogspot address, you'll need to re-bookmark the site to The RSS feed is also changing. This should work for the new feed:

To help ease the transition, we will be double posting on each site through this week, but after this weekend, address will not be updated. The Blogger site and the over 3,700 posts will remain.

We hope you enjoy the new HD format and value your continued support.

The Ultimate Toast to Bo

Bo Schembechler was never one to whine, but now there is wine named after the Michigan coaching legend. Bo Merlot will be unveiled in the Ann Arbor area next week before the Wolverines' opener against those teetotalers from Utah.

The merlot comes from a winery in Monterey because California is the site of the Rose Bowl, which Schembechler set as his team's goal each season.

The price is $19.69. Of course, 1969 was Schembechler's first season as Wolverine coach.

The wine is described as having an "intense fruit forwardness with a luscious berry concentration ... a rich presentation on the palate with a lovely, lingering finish."

Marlena Studer, who operates the company distribution Bo Merlot, says. "It's not a wine you chug down, but one you sip slowly and enjoy."

Thanks to Kevin at FanBlogs.

Reporters' Notebooks

Patrick Ridgell, Longmont Times-Call: Colorado has selected a starting tailback and it's not Darrell Scott, who was voted Big 12 newcomer of the year. Sophomore Demetrius Sumler gets the call for the Aug. 31 opener against Colorado State.

Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: Court documents portray former Marshall coach Bobby Pruett as having direct involvement in academic fraud and overpayment of athletes working while at the school. Pruett is now the defensive coordinator at Virginia.

Paul Gattis, Huntsville Times: Taylor Zarzour, host of The Big Tailgate show on WPTF in Raleigh, describes himself as an "avid Alabama fan." Perhaps that explains why he left Auburn, which was picked to win the West Division of the Southeastern Conference, off his Associated Press ballot.

John Hunt, Oregonian: Associated Press guidelines for poll voters. "Avoid regional bias, for or against." And this: " 'Homerism' will be challenged and could lead to dismissal from the poll board.

Ben Prather, FanBlogs: Should the Mountain West Conference consider expansion? Adding Boise State, Fresno State and Houston would produce a conference close in performance to the current level of the Atlantic Coast and Big East.

Randy King, Roanoke Times: Sophomore Zach Luckett, projected to be Virginia Tech’s starting flanker, has been indefinitely suspended from the squad after he was arrested on a DUI charge.

Tim Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech fans hoping to watch Paul Johnson's debut as the Yellow Jacket coach on TV are out of luck. They will have to tune in over the Internet.

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times: USC running back Joe McKnight suffered a hyperextended right elbow during a scrimmage.

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Reason No. 999 that the only poll that matters is the last one. Florida was picked by media covering the Southeastern Conference to not only win the SEC East over Georgia, but the league title as well. Yet the Bulldogs were voted No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches poll. Explain that to us. Another reason we don't pay attention to polls. Thanks to Sam for the Gator poster schedule.

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: Arkansas State

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.

No. 13 Arkansas State
Location: Jonesboro, Ark.
Nickname: Red Wolves.
Conference: Sun Belt.
Coach: Steve Roberts, 31-41 in six seasons, 80-74-1 overall in 14 seasons.
Division I-A history: 49-123-1 in 16 seasons, .322 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 2005.
Best record last five years: 6-6 in 2006 (and in 2005).
Rank(ed) because: In order to comply with the NCAA's emphasis on political correctness, the school changed its nickname from Indians to Red Wolves. If only winning football games was as simple. Quarterback Corey Leonard and running back Reggie Arnold are among the best in the Sun Belt but Arkansas State needs more players and the ability to play consistently.
Negative number: Since becoming a Division I-A team in 1992, Arkansas State has never won its road opener. The Red Wolves open at Texas A&M on Aug. 30.
Possible victory: Texas Southern, Sept. 6. The Red Wolves should be able to get into the win column against this Southwestern Athletic Conference foe.
Biggest blowout: At Alabama, Nov. 1. The Crimson Tide was embarrassed the last time a Sun Belt team visited Tuscaloosa (Louisiana Monroe last season). Teams with elephants in their logo never forget.
Is there hope?: Roberts has made Arkansas State competitive in the Sun Belt. Other than scuffling for the scraps in Division I-A's basement conference, there's not much more this program can do.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Brand's Pay From the NCAA: $935,000

Times are tough. The economy is a mess, corporate America continues to send jobs overseas, workers everywhere are getting laid off and yes, "student-athletes" are still being exploited.

Then there is one Myles Brand, head of the NCAA. His compensation for 2006-07 was $935,000, a 4% raise from the previous fiscal year. That is more than every public university president in the country.

Yes, the NCAA, which listed its tax-exempt purpose as keeping sports as "an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body," is rolling in money. At least eight other officials are pulling down over $275,000. The governing body also paid $971,000 to a company that provides charter air travel. Must be nice not having to rub elbows with the common folk.

People should be outraged. At least one group took action. A class-action lawsuit brought by former college athletes who alleged the NCAA failed to cover the full cost of their education was settled earlier this month. The tax records revealed that the NCAA paid $18.6 million for plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and a fund for former athletes to settle lawsuit.

Mission Accomplished

It took 32 years to complete, but Steve Koreivo of Stanhope, N.J., has watched each of the 119 teams in Division I-A play in person at least once. He has chronicled his accomplishment at College Football Fan.

And he's not finished. He plans to see Western Kentucky play in 2009 when it becomes the 120th member of I-A.

"Now that my goal has been achieved, my wife is asking me why I’m still going to these games,” Koreivo, 51, told the New York Times.

Laurie, his wife of 19 years, knows that answer. "College football is in his blood," she said.

We understand.

Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State.

Reporters' Notebooks

Wally Hall, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Lousiana State offensive lineman Herman Johnson, all 6-feet-8, 350 pounds of him, is listed as one of the largest babies ever born in Louisiana, 15 pounds 14 ounces.

Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News: To coaches, the meaning of "open" and "closed" practices are open for interpretation. Open usually means for a price.

Joseph Goodman, Miami Herald: Receiver Percy Harvin is not a team leader. Does it matter to Florida's success?

Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register: Iowa will be without two starters for its opener against Maine. Tight end Tony Moeaki has a foot injury and receiver Trey Stross is having hamstring problems.

And this friendly reminder, if you want to know what all your Olympic heroes are up to, check out Steroid Nation.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not.