Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

I want to provide you warm wishes for a great 2011. The year 2010 is about in the books here in the middle section of the United States. Lots of interesting stuff happened in the college sports world in 2010 and look for the same in 2011.

I'm thinking the Stanford women's basketball team will remember 2010 for a long time. The Cardinal will recall that Dec. 30 it ended Connecticut's 80-game win streak.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wolfpack Fans Shout One More Year

If Monday night was Russell Wilson’s last game as a member of the North Carolina State football team, he went out on top.

Wilson used his legs and arm to lead the Wolfpack to an easy 23-7 victory over West Virginia. It was vintage Wilson. The guy was scrambling and makes plays when most quarterbacks would have been sacked. Wilson is a special football player.

But the redshirt junior may say goodbye to football and follow the baseball path. Last summer he played in the Colorado Rockies organization. He has also played baseball for Wolfpack.

But North Carolina State fans were chanting “One more year” after Wilson’s MVP performance.

It sounds like Wilson and Wolfpack football coach Tom O’Brien will discuss Wilson’s future soon. My gut feeling is that he will trade in the football helmet for a permanent baseball glove.

And if he does, the Wolfpack team will move forward. Fans will remember No. 16’s contributions to a team that needed a dynamite player again to make it legitimate.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Say Goodbye to the Coach-in-Waiting

West Virginia didn’t look like the No. 22 ranked team in the country last night with its 23-7 loss to North Carolina State.

Did the mountain boys really want to play that game? We will obviously never know.

But if they want to use the distraction excuse, I will buy it. West Virginia announced near the end of the season that it was hiring a new offensive coordinator (Dana Holgorsen) and elevated him to head coach in 2012.

Does this coach-waiting thing ever work out? It is just a messy situation. Remember Florida State and Bobby Bowden/Jimbo Fisher? Remember Mack Brown/Will Muschamp at Texas. Ooops Muschamp got tired of waiting and left for Florida.

I feel sorry for Bill Stewart at West Virginia. You are the head football coach, but you are fired. But we are nice guys and you can say around for another year. Messy, messy, messy.

Why doesn’t West Virginia just end Stewart’s employment now and save the guy some misery. Pay the necessary money and move on.

There is a human element here and West Virginia does not understand it. Haven’t the mountain boys learned from other coach-in waiting situations?

It’s time for colleges to quit this coach-in-waiting process. It might be trendy, but this trend is worn out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Watch NC State's Russell Wilson Tonight

The bowl season heats up tonight when North Carolina State (8-4) battles West Virginia (9-3) in the Champs Sports Bowl.

NC State surprised some folks this season. A difficult regular season loss to Maryland however put some dust on a good campaign.

Regarding tonight’s game, if you have never watched NC State quarterback Russell Wilson, you are in for a treat.

Wilson throws the ball well and is a gifted runner. He makes plays out of nothing with some amazing scrambling. He energizes his teammates.

Wilson is a difference maker for the Pack. When Wilson has a great game, NC State usually wins. When he struggles, they usually lose.

Some think this could be the redshirt junior’s last football game with the Pack. He played professional baseball last summer and might quit football to concentrate on that sport.

Wilson is a gifted athlete. NC State hopes for a late Christmas gift tonight with Wilson and into next season.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Shame on the NCAA

The NCAA’s handling of the Ohio State tattoo incident was just plain disgusting.

Buckeye players are accused of exchanging personal services for tattoos. The NCAA suspended the involved players for one game but not until the opener next season.

The NCAA deserves an unsportsmanlike penalty for that ruling. The players should have been suspended for the BCS bowl game.

But apparently the NCAA likes Ohio State. It really likes Ohio State. Ohio State must be one of the NCAA’s cash cows. The NCAA must have different rules for the big boys as opposed to the little boys. Can you imagine what the NCAA would have done to a school such as Arkansas State in a similar case? It would have not been pretty.

The NCAA is one powerful organization and some of its rulings are just strange. The NCAA forced many schools to change their Indian-based nicknames. All but one school as far as I know. Florida State wasn’t required to switch their nickname. Hmm.

So basically the NCAA has different rules for different teams. If you are Ohio State, Florida State, Texas or Penn State, you have grace. But if you are Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee or Florida International, you better keep your helmet on awaiting the collision.

Really, this development is all understandable. But it doesn’t make it right.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

I wish everyone a blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ who changed the future of this world. Glory to God.

Thank you for your readership.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pace Yourself for the College Bowl Season

By my count, there has already been five bowl games played heading into Wednesday. I have sat down and watched a total of zero. I have only seen a few plays in passing.

My suggestion to you is pace yourself for the bowl season. Like well-trained athletes, you need to get ready for this TV watching.

There are too many bowl games. So select your favorite team or teams, watch those and maybe a few others. But don’t burn yourself out.

Remember to walk around the house during commercials. Go outside during halftime. Do anything to keep active and your mind focused on your game. Drink plenty of water and do healthy snacks.

I noticed that there are four non-BCS games after January 1 this season. What’s up with that? In protest, don’t watch those games unless it’s your favorite team.

I plan on watching NC State-West Virginia and Iowa-Missouri. I’ll also probably watch Wisconsin-TCU and Oregon-Auburn.

Which game are you planning to watch?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Congratulations Connecticut Women

It was just another night at the basketball arena for the Connecticut women. Another opponent and another victory. The Huskies have won 89 straight.

But this one was SPECIAL. The victory broke John Wooden’s UCLA men’s team mark of 88 straight.

The debate will continue whether Connecticut accomplishments are the same as the UCLA feat. The bottom line is 89 straight in anything, including 4th grade basketball, is impressive. So a definite tip-of-the-cap to the Huskie women.

As I stated before, Connecticut women’s basketball keeps the women’s game in the news. The women’s game will never match the interest in the men’s game just like spring always follows winter. But that doesn’t mean women aren’t gifted players, they are just different. In the simplest terms, men bank on talent, women bank on skill. Men dunk the basketball, while women shoot better free throws.

It’s okay to celebrate and appreciate the differences. That’s why comparing the two winning streaks are unfair.

By the way, look for the Huskie women to grow their streak. Baylor is probably the only team with a legitimate opportunity to defeat Connecticut yet this season.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coaching Involves More Than Winning

Maryland announced the firing of football coach Ralph Friedgen Monday.

Coaches get fired often, especially this time of year. But most coaches depart due to losing records. Friedgen was fired with a 74-50 record in 10 years with the Terps.

Coaching can be a tough business and this firing was a business decision.

Friedgen actually won the ACC Coach of the Year award after leading Maryland to a surprising 8-4 record in 2010. He leaves with a $2 million severance package.

Maryland is looking for more exposure, more fan interest, more ticket sales and more glitz.

Apparently, Maryland figured Friedgen was yesterday’s news. Frieden played as a reliable old car and the Terps want a sports car.

Rumor has it that Maryland wants former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. That would be a glitz hire.

But there is still something crappy about Friedegen’s firing. The guy wins games, shows loyalty to his alma mater and gets told “its business.”

Life is sometimes really cold. Friedgen received that lesson this week.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Norm Parker is an Inspiration

Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker met the media Friday to discuss his health condition.

I have written about Parker’s story before. The old, loveable crusty coach has had a rough 2010. He lost his right foot due to diabetes and has been in and out of the hospital. He was away from the team for most of the season. He came back late in the year on a limited basis.

So basically Parker is the kind of guy to think about when we consider our own struggles.

Parker walks with a walker these days. He plans to be at the Iowa bowl game. He vows to be healthier in 2011.

I love this guy’s sense of humor. It’s rare with football coaches. But Norm is Norm. He talked about getting out of bed without his fake leg. Ooops.

Football coaches are tough guys. Parker fits the mold, but life has humbled him now. He said Friday that for him football used to be about wins and losses. Now, it’s about the people.

Parker remains a tough guy, but in a different vein. He’s still battling on a field, but this time, it’s the game of life.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Big Ten in an Ooops Moment

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney said yesterday that the conference may have to call an audible regarding the name of the two new divisions.

People just don’t like Legends and Leaders. They really don’t like the names. As you know, I was one of those people. Remember my old Coke, new Coke comparison?

Traditionally the Big Ten moves slowly. But you have to give the conference credit for quickly owning up to its blunder.

Why doesn’t the Big Ten run a contest and have the fans vote on the names? Give the gal/guy with the winning names tickets to the Big Ten basketball championships or the new Big Ten title game?

Delaney said that he wants to promote the conference not drive fans away. My idea would promote goodwill and drive fans to the conference.

It will be interesting to see what happens. People are watching and waiting. They are really watching and waiting. Delaney has the outcries to prove it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

College Football's Most Interesting 2010 Team

The envelope please…Texas Longhorns.

Texas was the most interesting team in 2010 and definitely the most disappointing. Longhorn fans want to know how their team can play in the national championship game one year and slip to 5-7 the next season.

For my foreign readers, football is huge in Texas. Especially Longhorn football. According to one report, Texas has a $25.1 million football budget. Some college and universities don’t even have that much money for their entire athletic budgets.

So Texas fans want big returns on the financial investment. Texas doesn’t want to lose any games. Texas wants championships. They demand championships.

As expected, fallout has happened from the disastrous season. Head coach Mack Brown will have a revamped staff in place next season. For example, Brown needs to fill both offensive and defensive coordinator spots.

Change might be the best thing for the Texas football program.

Texas realized something this season. You cannot just show up every Saturday and take home the victory. The guys across the line from you want to win too. The days of entitlement in college football are over

So the question out of Austin, Texas becomes, “Was this a unique season or the start of a distributing trend?”

All of college football awaits the answer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Iowa State Fans and Auburn's Gene Chizik

A friend (a former long-time sportswriter) was wondering the other day why Iowa State fans haven’t commented on the success of Auburn’s Gene Chizik.

Chizik is riding high these days with the Tigers. Auburn will face Oregon in the BCS championship game next month.

Chizik spent only two years as Iowa State’s coach. He went 5-19 and then accepted the Auburn job. Chizik may be the only coach in the history of college football to have a losing record and gain a better job with more money.

There were some bitter feelings in Iowa State land when this all happened. Cyclone fans felt betrayed.

But apparently, they have moved on with their team.

Paul Rhoads replaced Chizik and lead the Cyclones to a bowl game in his first season. The Cyclones slipped to 5-7 this year, but had a chance to become bowl eligible with a win in their final game.

So maybe Cyclone fans are so happy with Iowa native Rhoads that they have forgotten about Chizik.

Iowa State will never become like Auburn. Auburn has resources that the Cyclones can only dream about.

But coaching is a lot like good shoes. You need a good fit. Apparently this is the case with Chizik at Auburn and Rhoads at Iowa State.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Does the Iowa Football Team Have a Drug Problem?

Iowa Athlete Director Gary Barta and football coach Kirk Ferentz met the media yesterday to discuss rumors about the football program.

Earlier this week, rumors were flying around the Internet and in the media that Iowa would be suspending 10-15 players for its bowl game against Missouri. The buzz was alleged drug use.

This all came about because the Hawks leading receiver was kicked off the team last week due to a drug situation.

So Ferentz wanted to publicly address the matter after he said players’ parents contacted coaches about the rumors.

I watched the press conference yesterday and maybe Iowa fumbled the football by having it in the first place. Maybe Barta and Ferentz should have allowed the situation to run its course and do nothing.

The athletic director and coach said program doesn’t have a drug problem. It was an isolated case. Other player problems had nothing to do with drugs. Yes, like any other drug testing situation flaws occur.

But by acknowledging the rumors and facing the media bullets, the program is now under greater watch for problems including drugs.

I have said before that I believe Ferentz is a good coach and a good person. But this is strange behavior from a guy who guards his program like Fort Knox. He knows his program lives in a fish bowl and he has just created more fish.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's Up With the Big Ten?

The Big Ten has always been a different kind of league. Who else out there in conference land had 11 teams for a number of years and still called itself the Big Ten? And now with Nebraska joining the conference (to make 12) the Big Ten is still, well, the Big Ten. And still has a logo depicting the Big Ten

But Monday’s announcements were real head shakers.

One six-team division will now be called “Legends,” the other “Leaders.” I hope the conference didn’t pay some marketing firm $4 million for their expertise with that. Wow. What’s wrong with a directional name? I know. It’s too simply and yet complex because the schools are in all directions. But, really, how are fans going to remember what teams are in what divisions with Legends and Leaders?

Didn’t the Big Ten learn anything from the ACC. The ACC calls its divisions “Coastal” and “Atlantic” and I would be hard pressed to tell you the breakdown. But again, the Big Ten wants to be a different kind of league.

And what about the new logo?

I think the youth of America would call it “retro.” Simply stated, it’s old-fashioned. There is no mention of the 12 teams in the logo. At least, the old logo had a small reference to the 11 teams.

I wonder if there will become a fan outcry or if these changes will just become a fact of life in the Big Ten.

Remember when the soft drink old Coke™ became new Coke™. People didn’t like it so much that the company brought the old Coke™ back. In this case, the Big Ten seems stuck in the old without even asking the fans about the new.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Different Kind of College Football

As most of us wait for the college football bowl season to begin in a couple weeks, there is still college football being played. This is championship time in the divisions other than Division I.

Case-in-point is Saturday’s Division III championship game involving Wisconsin-Whitewater and Mount Union (Ohio). A little research tells me these schools ARE Division III football. The schools are playing each other for the sixth straight time in the championship game. Both enter with 14-0 records. Whitewater won last season.

I will admit I don’t usually follow Division III. Yes, I do remember each year seeing this game in the TV listings and maybe watching a few plays. But I was in Whitewater recently and I decided to check this club out a bit.

It doesn’t take a genius to soon figure out that they take football seriously at Wisconsin-Whitewater. I strolled into a new athletic building and the first thing I saw was football trophies and special footballs. It was impressive. This was big time like something you would see at a Division I school.

Then I strolled out to see the football field on a brisk, Wisconsin day. I actually walked around the thing. Another impressive sight. The turf looked perfect. I felt it. It was field turf. The end zones were painted in purple—school colors. It looked like a great place to watch a football game.

These folks have an attitude—a championship attitude. They expect to play in the championship game. And they hope for their third national championship Saturday.

I think I’ll tune in.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

IowaState-Iowa Basketball

Anytime Iowa State can defeated Iowa in anything, Cyclone fans should celebrate.

It happened again Friday night when the Iowa State’s men’s basketball team topped Iowa, 75-72, on the Hawks floor.

I had an up close and personal look at this rivalry for a couple years. I remember Iowa State going into Iowa City and beating a ranked Iowa club.

Like most college state rivalries this is a big deal. Maybe it’s bigger here in Iowa because we don’t have major professional sports, so college sports are the main focus.

Iowa State is an agriculture school. Iowa produces doctors and lawyers. There is a definite dislike of each other in athletic competition.

Most Hawk fans don’t understand the big deal about Iowa State winning over Iowa. They think Iowa State focuses too much on the Iowa game, while the Hawks have other big games (in conference) to get excited about.


When I was at Iowa State the Cyclones played in the old Big 8. I sensed that the Big Ten schools thought the Big 8 was lower class with small cities and agriculture schools, whereas the Big Ten schools acted like they were from the urban, upper class places.


But in terms of the game, Friday night, it was excited. The Hawks won the first half and the Cyclones won the second half. Cyclone guard Scott Christopherson was the difference. The three-point specialist scored 24 of his 30 points in the second half. To put it mildly, he was hot.

So Iowa State and Iowa fans can return to their respective corners and look ahead to the next interstate battle in the future.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wisconsin Rewind

I mentioned recently that I was in the great state of Wisconsin last week. Part of my time was spent in Madison—the home of the University of Wisconsin.

Madison is a buzz about the football team’s trip to the Rose Bowl. This was even before the Badgers knew their opponent. Merchants are cashing in too. I saw plenty of Rose Bowl apparel.

It was fun to visit a couple specialty Badger apparel stories. Everything red and white. I didn’t know they could put Bucky Badger’s likeness on so many things.

But my main sports focus of the week was attending the NC State-Wisconsin basketball game. I have been a Wolfpack fan for years due to connections at the ACC school. We sat in a section with Wolfpack fans transferred to the Midwest. So it was fun connecting with some new people.

The game: not so much. NC State lost by 39 points. It was over at halftime. The Wolfpack has a bunch of young, talented players. But as one coach once said, “The best thing about freshman (players) is that they become sophomores.” Senior Tracy Smith is out with a knee injury. The Wolfpack needs his big body, experience and scoring. Until that happens, NC State will struggle.

I was dressed in my Wolfpack apparel. I think the Badger fans actually felt sorry for me after the game. But to top it off, a waiter at a restaurant saw my Wolfpack sweater and deadpanned “I’m sorry.”

But hopefully someday, the Wolfpack can return the favor to the Badgers. Then red, black and white will triumph over simply red and white.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is Urban Meyer Really Done Coaching?

Urban Meyer’s announcement yesterday that he was leaving the head coaching position at Florida was not surprising. He quit last year for a brief time.

Meyer obviously has been soul searching for a while and decided to give up football for his family. He leaves on his own terms and has the memories of two national championships at Florida.

He says he wants to attend his daughter’s sporting events because he has missed many of them. Plus, he has a son coming up the sports ranks.

But from all appearances, Meyer is a 24-7, motor guy. He’s only 46 years old. Will the coaching fire ever return?

Don’t bet against it.

I know a prominent former college head football coach. He told me the first two years of football retirement were difficult. He referred to head coaching as “intoxicating.”

Ponder this. As head coach, you are the football CEO. You are in total charge. People answer to you. Fans generally look up to you. The media records what you say. You get to meet important people. You go to the finest country clubs to play golf and socialize. Even if you have a small ego, it’s as my friend said “intoxicating.”

Then it stops.

Meyer deserves time away from the game if he wants it. But I’m guessing someday he will get that urge to find another coaching job. He will think about the intoxicating part.

He and his wife might have a great marriage. But don’t be surprised if in the future, Mrs. Meyer says to Mr. Meyer, “Honey, it’s time to return to coaching. You’re spending too much time around the house.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Can the Indiana Hoosiers Really Win?

Indiana introduced Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson as its new football coach yesterday. The fact the Hoosiers were looking for a new coach is no surprise. They do it frequently.

But it begs the question; can Indiana really win in football? Does the Indiana administration want to put a competitive product on the field?

In recent years, the Hoosiers have played some entertaining football. They have recorded the occasional upset and have also scored points on offense. But if I am an Indiana football fan, I keep the depression pills handy.

When you think of Indiana football, a couple of coaches come to mind. Lee Corso was a colorful coach (you know kids the College Game Day guy) and won some games. Bill Mallory was a tough-guy type and won more games. That’s about it for the history of Indiana football.

Indiana needs more commitment to its program. Wilson is now the highest paid football coach in Hoosier history. That’s a start. But how about improving that high school-type stadium? How about scheduling some games with big time non-conference opponents?

Granted, Indiana is a basketball school. For reference, ponder Duke, Kansas etc. But why not use basketball to make the football program better? Give the football program some money. Tell high school football players that Indiana can win.

Come to think about it, maybe Wilson should hire me as his promotions man. Wouldn’t it be great for the Big Ten and college football in general if the Hoosiers could field a decent team?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Minnesota Gophers Go for the Kill

My neighbor to the north, Minnesota, hired a football coach recently.

The Gophers selected Northern Illinois Coach Jerry Kill. Isn’t Kill a great name for a football coach? Isn’t destruction a major part of football?

But anyway regarding Kill, he obviously isn’t a big name hire. There were rumors that Minnesota wanted a big name guy. Well, I’m guessing none of the big name guys wanted Minnesota.

Minnesota is an okay Big Ten job, not a great job. I would rate the Gopher program slightly above Indiana. It’s pretty low these days.

But sports are sometimes about selling hope and Minnesota will now get the hope campaign started. It’s time to put some interest back in the Gopher program and sell some tickets.

Will Kill bring success to Minnesota? It will be tough. It sounds like he is a good football coach with a successful background. So the credentials should not be a problem.

But Kill’s biggest hurdle will involve changing the culture. As I stated earlier, the Minnesota program is in bad shape. Will the administration give Kill the money and support he needs?

Minnesota fans are hoping Kill’s program isn’t another Glen Mason or Tim Brewster bunch. The fans yearn to say goodbye to that kind of suffering.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wisconsin-TCU: An Interesting Match-Up

All the bowl pairings are set and let the discussion begin. Discussion is the only thing we have these days as the first bowl game is Dec. 18.

Yes, I was disappointed that someone didn’t defeat Oregon or Auburn so that another team such as TCU could have appeared in the national championship game. But the saying, “It is what it is” applies.

But of all the actual bowl pairings, I like the Wisconsin-TCU game the best. It should be a competitive contest.

Frankly, I haven’t watched much of the Horned Frogs. The Mountain West Conference doesn’t receive great exposure, so that is part of it. But being a non-BCS school brings a natural curiosity to this game. TCU will bring the offense, but will it be able to stop the Badger offense.

Wisconsin has been a scoring machine this season. The Badgers put up basketball numbers. And yet the Wisconsin plays old fashioned Big Ten football with emphasis on the run. It throws the ball too, but if the Horned Frogs don’t stop the run (or control it at least), forget about the victory.

I was in Madison (home of Wisconsin) last week. There is a real buzz about the Badgers Rose Bowl trip. People are making travel plans. Now Wisconsin actually has an opponent.

And I think a very good opponent. This promises to be a punch-in-the-gut game. You would think Wisconsin will provide the most punches. Will TCU respond and deliver a few of its own?

Stay tuned for the outcome on January 1.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm aTraveling Man

Sorry about the lack of blogs this week. I'm traveling in the great state of Wisconsin. The plan is to attend the NC State-Wisconsin basketball game tonight. Look for more blog frequency next week and go NC State.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Boise State: Thanks for the Ride

Boise State faced a realty check last night. The Broncos did lose a football game and with it their BCS hopes.

They dodged opponents and BCS haters for a long while this season. Boise was 10-0 but then Mr. L called.

But there is no shame in losing. Outstanding teams do loss. Boise didn’t lose to a cupcake in Nevada. The Pack is a mighty fine club.

America thanks you for the ride. It was fun cheering for you. You will be back. Excellent teams find a way for a return trip. You are an excellent team.

Our favorite underdog is reduced to TCU. The Horned Frogs carry the football for the non-BCS schools’ hopes now. It would be great if they could slide someway, somehow into that No. 2 BCS slot.

Right now, it looks like Oregon-Auburn for the title. But I think a final with TCU would add a little ice cream to the cake.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Auburn Shows Up Big

I must admit going into the Auburn-Alabama game I believed the Tide had an excellent chance to win. At early stages of the year, the so called experts thought they were the best team in America.

And with only pride to play for against Alabama’s arch rival, it looked really good when the Tide stormed out to a 24-0 lead. The problem for the home team was Auburn woke up. Wow.

The Tigers played with a renewed sense of urgency in the second half and kept their BCS title hopes alive. In fact, Auburn dominated Alabama in the second half.

Auburn’s performance proved to me that it may be the team of destiny this season. The Tigers have now trailed in eight of 12 games and keep looking beautiful.

With all the distraction about quarterback Cam Newton, Auburn refuses to lose. The Tigers are apparently made of steel.

Auburn fans wanted to run Coach Gene Chizik out of town when he first arrived, but now probably think he is the best thing since sliced bread.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

I hope my United States readers are having a blessed Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for even in tough times. And I am sure my readers outside the states have much to be thankful for too.

Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your support.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ohio State's Gordon Gee Stirs the College Football Pot

Nothing like a college president disturbing people the day before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ohio State President Gordon Gee referred to Boise State and TCU indirectly when he mentioned “We (Ohio State) do not play the little sisters of the poor.” Ouch.

Gee, who is known for his bow tie selection, better remove the tie and really think about what he said.

Obviously he ticked TCU and Boise State off. The Boise State President responded and I don’t think he asked Gee out for dinner.

Second, Gee better check the Ohio State football schedule. Outside of conference play, the Buckeyes played a light schedule. Some call them patsies, others cupcakes.

This is another case of the big guys trying to keep the little guys from joining the party. If Boise and TCU remain undefeated, they should be invited to the BCS. End of discussion.

Ohio State might claim that it is The Ohio State University, but then the Buckeyes should act like it and play some good competition in the non-conference portion of their schedule. End of discussion.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Bo Pelini Situation

You have noticed this progression of events too many times in college sports. The head coach does something wrong. Athletic director and president/chancellor publicly denounce the coach’s action. Coach publicly says he is sorry.

That’s exactly who happened with Nebraska coach Bo Pelini this week. Pelini put on a show of major anger Saturday night in the Huskers loss to Texas A&M on national TV. Bo was anger at his starting quarterback and the officials and let his strong feelings known in visible ways

We don’t know if ‘ole Bo was truly sorry for his actions. Only he knows for sure. We do know his bosses were not pleased.

They say timing is everything. Bo picked a bad time for his anger. These days with the media, one needs to be extra careful because the news cycle is 24 hours. Bo was not only noticeable on TV but on You Tube too. The matter was sliced and diced

Bad, bad publicity for Nebraska and its football program. Bo forgot that he is not only head football coach, but CEO on the field. He didn’t take care of it behind closed doors out of the public eye.

Football coaches are emotional guys. I get that. But this time emotion crossed the line and ‘ole Bo paid for it.

Coaches are so scared about providing bulletin board material for their opponents. Maybe some coaches need to realize that the public has their own bulletin boards.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Crazy Big Ten Football Race

The Big Ten Conference still has three team tied for first place heading into the final league weekend.

For a good while last Saturday it looked liked Michigan State would fall from the top, but the Spartans rallied against Purdue. Wisconsin went to Michigan and handled the Wolverines, while Ohio State survived Iowa.

This week, Michigan State is on upset alert. The Spartans travel to Penn State and Joe Pa’s club (although inconsistent this season) could gain the victory.

Ohio State should beat Michigan in Columbus, but maybe the Wolverines have an upset left in them. But I reasoned the same way last week against Wisconsin.

Of the three teams, Wisconsin seems to have the easiest game. Northwestern is not playing good football now partly because the Wildcats lost starting quarterback Dan Persa.

If there remains a tie, the tiebreaker gets confusing for a guy without math skills. Regarding head-to-head play, Michigan State and Ohio State did not play. Wisconsin owns the tiebreaker over Ohio State and Michigan State owns it over Wisconsin. The BCS ratings are also a factor. This week, Wisconsin is 7th, Ohio State 8th and Michigan State 10th.

So hopefully some clarity will come this weekend. If not, we leave it up to the math people.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Iowa-Ohio State Meet in Iowa City

What figured to be a red-letter Big Ten game at the beginning of the football season will not happen today in Iowa City, Iowa.

Ohio State (9-1, 5-1) is the only team playing for the Big Ten title and BCS aspirations, while Iowa (7-3, 4-2) hopes to spoil the Buckeyes plans and moved up in the bowl pecking order.

Iowa should provide Ohio State some stiff competition. Some say the Hawkeyes play according to the strength of its competition or big name opponent. The last two weeks Iowa looked sluggish in a win over Indiana and then fell to Northwestern last week. The Hoosiers and Wildcats aren’t exactly the cream of the Big Ten.

Ohio State has frankly played weak competition. The Buckeyes did defeat a solid Miami of Florida team, but lost convincingly to Wisconsin. So people are still wondering if the Buckeyes are huff or puff. Today’s game should be a good indication.

It’s senior day in Iowa City. Iowa can take its frustrations out on Ohio State. The Hawkeyes have plenty of motivation despite a disappointing record.

Ohio State better bring its A-game or the Buckeyes will be in trouble.

Friday, November 19, 2010

College Basketball Galore

If you are a college hoops fan, forget you are in preseason training and grab the remote. The basketball season is here in earnest.

ESPN started the glut of TV games earlier in the week. The sports giant featured games over a 25-hour period. Now, ESPN is a major player in showing holiday tournament games as well.

You definitely need a well-defined schedule to know who is playing, when and what channel. Yesterday, I wanted to watch Harrison Barnes and North Carolina play Hofstra. I turned to the basic ESPN. Wrong. I found it over on ESPN2.

I don’t remember when this sea of games on TV the week before Thanksgiving started, but this appears a win-win situation. Fans actually can watch some interesting match ups instead of seeing their team play some lower Division I school. TV receives advertising and viewers. Teams can visit some interesting places and put it on their recruiting pieces. Announcers can warm up for the conference season.

But college basketball fans, a bit of warning. Pace yourself. It’s a long season. You don’t want to peak too early.

Enjoy the games!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Backup Quarterback

You think being a backup quarterback on a college football team is an easy role?

Sure most guys run scout team plays in practice. They stand on the sidelines at games with a baseball hat and maybe a clipboard. The coach may also recruit them to relay plays to the starting quarterback on the field.

But sometimes the backup quarterback actually sees playing time. Sometimes it’s when his team is either far ahead or far behind. Sometimes the starter gets injured.

But how would you like to be Iowa State quarterback Jerome Tiller this week? He is the backup turned starter because last week senior quarterback Austin Arnand suffered a knee injury.

This game isn’t just any game. The Cyclones need to win the game to be bowl eligible. They have one shot left as Iowa State hosts a talented Missouri team (8-2).

All eyes are on Tiller. Sure the Iowa State coaches will downplay Tiller’s role. “It’s a team game you know, Tiller just needs to manage the game---don’t need a great game from him,” blah, blah.

Tiller’s good news is he has starting experience. He started two games last season for the then also injured Arnard. The bad news is the difficulty of the opponent in a must-win situation.

Many fans naturally love the backup quarterback. If Tiller leads Iowa State to a victory Saturday, the fans might turn it into an actual love fest.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Connecticut Women March Forward

The streak now stands at 80.

After a few tense moments near the end of the game Tuesday night, the Huskies stopped Baylor 65-64 for their 80th straight win.

Baylor had an opportunity to stop the streak, but a long three-point try fell well short.

So Geno Auriemma’s group moves on to the next milestone. Eight more straight wins and Connecticut ties the UCLA men’s record of 88 consecutive wins.

The Huskies' program is simply amazing. People don’t talk about dynasties in sports much anymore, but we have one clearly here. The old saying, “It’s better to be lucky sometimes than good” doesn’t apply to Connecticut. The Huskies usually dominate opponents. Baylor’s scare last night was a rare occurrence.

Connecticut is great for women’s basketball. The Huskies are the poster child and will continue to play the role.

Some might want Connecticut’s streak broken, but I say play on women. This isn’t America’s hatred team. This isn’t the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys.

The streak will end. Basketball is such a game of luck—one bounce there, one tip here. But Connecticut streak is a feel good story. And we definitely need more of those in sports these days.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Texas Longhorns' Woes Continue

Texas is simply a poor football team this season. The Longhorns prove it about every week.

If I’m a Texas fan, pain is a constant factor.

Most of the country received the Texas-Oklahoma State game on ABC last Saturday, so people could observe first hand how bad the Longhorns are.

Texas has now loss four straight and four total home games. The Longhorns are 4-6 and need to beat Florida Atlantic and Texas A&M to become bowl eligible and avoid their first losing season since 1997.

Texas should beat Florida Atlantic to end its losing skid, but the Aggies should defeat the Longhorns.

Even if Texas wins its last two games for bowl eligibility, do you as fan want to go to a bowl game as a .500 team? This is Texas not some team hoping for a bowl. Remember, the Longhorns were in the national game last year?

If I was Texas, I would stay home, lick my wounds and try to figure out what happened to this once promising season.

Even Bevo (the team mascot) needs some rest after watching this year.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Iowa Lays Another Egg Against Northwestern

This is starting to sound like a broken record for the Iowa Hawkeyes—a serious broken record.

Iowa loses again to Northwestern. Count them Hawkeye fans. Your team has now lost five out of the last six to the Wildcats. Coach Kirk Ferentz has losing records against only two teams—and you guessed it—Northwestern is one of those teams.

Most teams consider Northwestern a victory on its schedule. Iowa is probably wishing the Wildcats didn’t reside in the same division next year when Big Ten alignment kicks in.

Iowa fans saw trouble early Saturday when Northwestern took a first lead. But the Hawkeyes seemed to take control in the second half building a 17-7 lead. Then Northwestern kicked in its usual magic against the Hawkeyes and scored 14 straight points for the victory.

Iowa has trouble against pesky, mobile quarterbacks and Northwestern had one in Dan Persa. Running or throwing, the Hawkeyes couldn’t stop Persa. End of story.

Iowa’s hopes of a Big Ten title are now over. It is now playing for bowl position. The problem this week is that Ohio State comes to town with still a shot at the Big Ten crown.

So suddenly the two teams are coming from opposite directions. This is all because Iowa cannot beat a team that finds much joy in defeating the Hawkeyes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oklahoma State and Texas in Reverse Roles

In my humble opinion, the college football TV menu this Saturday is weak. But the Oklahoma State-Texas game might be a steak and potatoes affair.

The Cowboys have put together a stellar season at 8-1. But Oklahoma State mirrors Oregon in that both schools have teased on the national scene, but never delivered the big blow.

Oklahoma State is in position to win the Big 12 South and go to the championship game. Usually Oklahoma and Texas are in the Cowboys way, but not this year.

The Cowboys have a long line of solid quarterbacks and this year is no different with Brandon Weeden. The 27-year-old is a former minor league baseball pitcher with a strong arm. The Pokes also feature a solid running game with Kendell Hunter and Joseph Randle.

Texas is fighting to play in ANY bowl game. You read that right. Its 4-5 record shocks the football world. The Longhorns have lost three straight and they have lost three home games this season. A defeat today, makes that four and four.

Texas fans hope their team comes out of the funk soon. Texas did inflict Nebraska with its lone loss, but that seems years ago to Texas fans. It looks like some Texas assistant coaches will be looking for work next season.

But unless you are a diehard Texas fan, you will want to cheer for the Cowboys in this one. Wouldn’t an Oklahoma State-Nebraska game in the Big 12 championship sound good?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Northern Iowa Faces Syracuse in Hoops

Membership does have its privileges.

Northern Iowa played well on the basketball big stage last season and the national attention has gotten the Panthers into the big boys club.

Northern Iowa begins its season tonight at the Carrier Dome against 10th ranked Syracuse.

When America last experienced the Panthers they lost to Michigan State in the Sweet 16. But the game before, Northern Iowa shocked No. 1 seeded Kansas. Northern Iowa was on the map. National media all of a sudden came to Cedar Falls, Iowa.

So it’s Missouri Valley against Big East in an interesting opener.

The Panthers lost three starters off last year’s team, but Northern Iowa had a deep rotation so the younger guys will play more valuable minutes this season. Senior point guard and starter, Kwadzo Ahelegbe, is the key to the Panthers this year.

Northern Iowa has started its season out slow in the past, so it must bring its A-game tonight to have a chance against the Orange.

The Orange also returns two starters but possess better talent on paper. Syracuse always gets big-time recruits and this year is no exception. If you are Northern Iowa, look out for center Fab Melo.

Northern Iowa needs a strong showing to remain in the big boys club. After last season however, never count the Panthers out.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cam Newton Story is Sad

In a perfect world, Cam Newton would be leading the Auburn Tigers to the national championship game and become the Heisman Trophy winner.

But Newton’s world is far from perfect these days. The march to the national championship game and the Heisman is marred by a huge cloud over Newton’s college career.

Did he and his family seek money from Mississippi State during the recruiting process? Was there a cheating problem when he was enrolled at Florida? These are a couple of the serious allegations involving this gifted athlete.

This stuff has yet to play completely out and it’s already ugly. Somebody did something wrong, it’s just finding out who and what.

Taking Newton and his family out of the equation, imagine the public relations mess at Auburn, Mississippi State and Florida.

I can just imagine the tone of the athletic departments at these schools. It’s stressful. People are on edge. What will happen? The athletic media relations departments’ job now is to put out fires.

Auburn appears the school with the most to lose. Auburn says it has done no wrong. Coach Gene Chizik says Newton will play Saturday. But the situation appears fluid.

Bottom line: the real dark and ugly side of college athletics marches to the front of the news cycle again. Sad, sad and sad.

A salute to all the veterans out there today. Good job and thank-you. My dad served in Germany in WWII and I think of him on days like today. He passed away in 2000.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alabama in a Spoiler Role

Alabama’s defense of its national championship is over.

The Tide’s loss to LSU last Saturday dropped them to 7-2. And with the defeat, all those national experts still in love with Alabama’s chances are suddenly silence.

The Tide is now officially yesterday’s champion.

What happened? That’s the old question begging answers but lacking. Was Alabama championship material this season? Did Nick Sabin’s boys pat themselves on the back too many times? Did they crumble being the hunted team? Is the SEC just too tough?

Alabama should still qualify for a nice bowl. But its biggest game now is the last one against the old rival Auburn. Alabama is square in the path of Auburn’s run to the national championship game. Alabama enjoys beating Auburn every year. But under the Tide’s circumstances, a victory this year would be sweeter than an Alabama peach.

Alabama’s pressure is over. Auburn’s pressure builds every game. If the Tigers remain undefeated going into the Alabama game, as broadcaster Keith Jackson used to say, “Oh Nellie.”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dan Hawkins Can Rest Now

Colorado fired football coach Dan Hawkins Tuesday. No surprise there. People were planning Hawkins’ football funeral for over a year.

The last straw was losing to Kansas in the fourth quarter last Saturday. Hawkins had to go. His 19-39 record in five years was painful for all who love the Buffaloes.

The talk was Colorado wanted to fire Hawkins last season but couldn’t afford the buyout in these tough economic times. But a program can take so much suffering and it was time to say good-bye.

But if I was Hawkins, I would be relieved. No more being on the national hotlist firing talk. No more wondering about his status. No more listening to the persistent rumors. It is all over. Done. Finished. Even in defeat, Hawkins must have some peace now.

Hawkins will be okay. He’s a football coach. He was successful at Boise State and he will find success again. He will land an assistant’s job somewhere or maybe a head coach at a lower Division I school.

It will be interesting to see who Colorado hires. Brian Cabral was named interim coach. He has been a loyal assistant for 21 years. Why not give him the head job? I understand he is player’s coach and a good guy. And I bet he would come at a reasonable price.

There is some mention of Colorado bringing back Bill McCartney. McCartney had major success in Boulder and guided the Buffs to a national championship.

But at age 70, does McCartney really want to return to Boulder? Does Colorado really want him?

This is a key hire for Colorado. The Buffs want to make a splash when they move to the Pac-10 next season. Plus, Colorado has been on the highest mountain and it wants to return.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nebraska-Iowa State Postgame Talk

Nebraska made one important decision Saturday that had a huge impact on the Huskers 31-30 overtime victory. And few if any mentioned it.

Nebraska lost the coin toss for the overtime period but chose which direction the teams would go in the overtime period. The Huskers decided both teams would face a stiff wind. Nebraska had its signature running game going so the wind wouldn’t bother that. Iowa State was moving the ball through the air with the wind at its back.

And the wind did hinder the final play of the game.

Nebraska scored first in overtime and kicked the extra point. Iowa State countered with its own touchdown. Then the Cyclone lined up for the extra point kick and faked it. The pass was headed for a wide-open Ryan Franklin in the end zone, but the wind kept the ball in the air too long and the Huskers intercepted.

Iowa State lost the gamble and lost the game.

After the game, people questioned why Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads instructed his team to take a knee with 40 second left in regulation and three timeouts at the Iowa State 20-yard-line. However, people praised Rhoads’ choice in overtime.

I agreed with Rhoads’ strategy in overtime. I figure the game favorite always has the advantage in overtime. The underdog has already overachieved in regulation and the momentum usually swings back to the favorite. That’s why it makes no sense to trade scores with the favorite. Gambling is a good strategy.

Rhoads has gambled on different occasions in the past and it came out well. Unfortunately this time, Rhoads was on the wrong side.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Basketball: Small College Syle

Jamestown College is a small NAIA school in North Dakota, but the Jimmies captured a big win on their opponent’s home floor Friday night.

It was coach Matt Murken’s first victory as a head man as the Jimmies destroyed Northwestern of Iowa, 80-64.

Jamestown kept the game close in the first half but exploded in the second half with deadly shooting including a number of three-point baskets.

I made the journey to Orange City to watch my friend Murken. Murken and I were teammates on an Athletes in Action basketball project to East Africa last summer.

“Murk” looked pretty dapper with his orange tie, white shirt and dark suit. He definitely looked like a coach and sounded like one too. He had several conversations with each of the three officials during the night.

He had a big smile on his face when the game ended. He will remember that first victory and hopes for many, many more in the future.

Murken has a long climb to chance one of our other coaches on the Africa trip, however. Oregon Tech’s Danny Miles has garnered over 600 wins. Murken joked with the African coaches that he and Miles had won over 900 games between the two.

Nice going, Murk. Keep it going and go Jimmies.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Alabama: Still in Title Talk?

The college football TV people still thinks Alabama has a shot at the national championship.

Really? Wow.

The Tide is ranked sixth in the BCS. TCU, Boise State, Utah and Auburn are all ahead of them for the second spot. TCU plays Utah this week, so one team will drop out. And Alabama has its annual showdown with Auburn at the regular season end, so it can make up ground there.

But Alabama still has the TCU/Utah winner and Boise State to leap frog. And this assumes the Tide remain undefeated in their remaining games. That won’t be easy.

Alabama travels to Baton Rouge this week to take on the 7-1 LSU Tigers. LSU has surprised some folks this season and it isn’t out of the question that it could pull out a win Saturday.

Still if Alabama makes it to the Auburn game with all its T’s crossed and I’s dotted, Auburn will make it difficult. Cam Newton and the Tigers will be ready.

So for all you Alabama supporters, go ahead and hope. If the Tide can survive all those landmines, they deserve it.

But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paul Rhoads: Great Fit at Iowa State

Paul Rhoads is putting smiles on the faces of Iowa State football fans again.

To the outside world, a coaching record of 12-10 in your second season is no big deal. But to Cyclone fans, it is a cause for celebration.

Rhoads took over a program that had won five games in two years. The previous coach, Gene Chizik (now at Auburn), basically dumped the program and Iowa State.

Rhoads, who grew up down the road from Iowa State, was looking for work after Auburn fired him as defensive coordinator.

Rhoads biggest job was salesman. He had to sell recruits and fans that Iowa State could win again. Sales are one thing and doing it is another.

Rhoads knew it would be difficult. Iowa State is a difficult job. It’s hard to get top-notch recruits. Iowa State doesn’t normally compete for Big 12 titles. The Cyclones are usually near the bottom.

But Rhoads had been an assistant at Iowa State and actually told people he wanted to coach there.

Last season, Rhoads led the Cyclones to a 7-6 record including a signature win at Nebraska and a bowl victory over Minnesota. Fans were giddy.

This season, Iowa State has faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation. And things looked pretty bleak at one point after back-to-back poundings against Utah and Oklahoma. Then the Cyclones traveled to Austin, Texas and defeated the Longhorns for the first time ever.

So with a 5-4 record, Iowa State needs one more victory to become bowl eligible. The Cyclones would love to take care of that chore this week with another upset win against Nebraska.

With the tough schedule, it is amazing that Rhoads has his team in position for more bowling. It’s not difficult to understand why Iowa State fans really like this guy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nebraska-Iowa State Presents Interesting Match Up

Nebraska continues its Big 12 Conference farewell tour Saturday in Ames against Iowa State.

This game may be closer than the 18-point spread. The Huskers (7-1, 3-1) battle a Cyclone squad who was about dead after blowout losses to Utah and Oklahoma. Then the magic happened at Texas. Now Saturday’s home team needs one more win (5-4, 3-2) to become bowl eligible.

It will be interesting to see what Nebraska team shows up. Will it be the club that pounded undefeated Missouri last week or the team that blew a tire at home against Texas?

The Huskers shouldn’t lack for motivation. Last year, Iowa State traveled to Lincoln and upset Nebraska 9-7. Then Cyclone Coach Paul Rhoads appeared all over You Tube with his victory speech “I’m so proud to be your coach…”

Nebraska is still playing for an outside chance at the national championship. The Huskers are ranked No. 7 in the BCS and have dates with Kansas, Texas A&M and Colorado beyond Saturday. Traveling to College Station figures to be Nebraska’s toughest game of that bunch.

Apparently, starting quarterback Taylor Martinez will play Saturday after spraining an ankle last week. Cyclone fans would prefer backup Zach Lee who couldn’t move the Huskers in last season’s game as Nebraska was bit by the mistakes bug.

Iowa State needs to hang on to the ball this week to have a chance. Turnovers have killed the Cyclones in their losses.

The game is on ABC, but only goes to 13 percent of the nation.

Is this an upset waiting to happen or will Nebraska prevail?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harrison Barnes: Preseason All-American

Freshman Harrison Barnes hasn’t even played a game for North Carolina and he is already gaining honors.

Barnes was named to the Associated Press Preseason All-America Team recently.

Barnes is probably the most celebrated player ever to come out of the state of Iowa. Barnes prepped at Ames High School and averaged 19.7 points per game and 8.8 rebounds last year in leading the Little Cyclones to another state title.

I watched Barnes’ press conference when he selected North Carolina. It was a big production. Iowa State, located in Ames, was also a finalist, but the Cyclone fans knew that was a long shot. It’s pretty tough to say no to the elite programs in America when EVERYBODY wants your services.

But we Iowans will still watch Barnes’ career closely.

We have been hearing about this guy in Iowa for years. I have watched him played on TV. It was like wow—what a player. He’s 6-8, quick and can jump. He was rated the No. 1 high school player in the country last season.

But he still needs to perform in college. And apparently people are firmly convinced he will. At least the AP voters are.

The Tar Heels need Barnes. North Carolina was an average team last year. North Carolina doesn’t do average. It plays for national championships. Coach Roy Williams wants Barnes to help the Tar Heels return to the top of the ladder. Ole’ Roy loves cutting those nets down.

Based on his potential, Barnes might just give Williams his wish.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Michigan State Falls Hard

The fact Michigan State lost to Iowa Saturday didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was that the game was over in the first half.

Michigan State came into the game the most disrespected undefeated team in the country. Turns out, the Spartans proved the doubters right.

For the Spartans, Saturday was a train wreck. Michigan State looked scared, tight and flat all on the same day. The Spartans gave the game away with their turnovers. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a rough game with interceptions and not being able to move the offense. Michigan State should have never left East Lansing.

And despite all its troubles, Michigan State played a team that was just angry. The Hawkeyes suffered a bitter loss to Wisconsin the week before and the home team came out focused. The Hawkeyes were world beaters Saturday.

So you add the Spartans’ woes and Iowa highs and it translates into one word: ROUT.

Michigan State is now the most disrespected one-loss team in the country. The Spartans dropped to 16th and 15th (AP and coaches respectively) in the polls this week. Last week, they were No. 5.

There is also now a log jam at the top of the Big Ten standings. Four teams have one loss. Two of the contenders, Ohio State and Iowa, play Nov. 20 in Iowa City.

What do you think about the Michigan State fall?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Southern Cal in Unique Spoiler Role

The No. 1 Oregon Ducks must face the USC Trojans on the road today.

The Trojans are the underdog today and will try to tame the high-flying Ducks. My have the mighty fallen. Still many like USC’s chances.

All the pressure is on Oregon. An undefeated season and national title hopes are on the line today. All eyes are on the Ducks. Oregon has been on the national scene in recent years but still wear the tag of “Can’t Win the Big Game.” This is a big game. Can the Ducks pardon the pun, dodge the bullet today?

The Trojans must enjoy their position in this game. They are having an ordinary season (5-2 overall, 2-2 Pac-10). If they upset the Ducks, fine. It’s a signature win. If they don’t, thanks for trying and move to 5-3.

USC’s tall order is to limit the Ducks high-scoring offense. Oregon’s worst point total has been 42 points ouch. Second thought, USC better just try to outscore the Ducks.

Most of the nation will get this game on ABC. Better settle into. With all the expected offense, this one could take a long time. How about four hours?

Does USC really have a chance? Or is Oregon truly the favorite?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Michigan State has Golden Opportunity Saturday

Michigan State opposes Iowa Saturday in Iowa City. The Spartans are hoping to keep alive their undefeated season, Big Ten title hopes and a national championship.

The fifth- ranked Spartans (8-0 overall, 4-0) will battle an angry Hawkeye team. Iowa lost to Wisconsin 31-30 last week at home which put a serious hurt on its Big Ten championship hopes. Another Iowa loss would be a crusher.

This will be probably become Michigan State’s toughest game to date. Many so called experts are picking Iowa. The Hawkeyes beat the Spartans in the closing moments last season and seem to defeat the Spartans regularly lately. Iowa is 8-4 in its last 12 games against Michigan State.

But don’t count the Spartans out. They seem to cherish the underdog roll. Even in the top five nationally, few people discuss the success of the Spartans. Is it because another team in that state grabs all the ink whether Michigan wins or loses?

Michigan State will run the ball on Saturday and try to pound the once feared-Iowa defense. Wisconsin proved last week that teams can score big on the Iowa defense. So again this weekend: it’s prove your manhood in the Big Ten.

Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins is also an interesting story in this game. The junior quarterback has ties to Iowa. His grandfather played for the Iowa and Cousins wanted to be a Hawkeye too. Therefore, Cousins has extra motivation Saturday.

Look for a close game as Michigan State hopes to make a statement. The Spartans want to prove that they do belong with the nation’s elite.

Who do you think wins this game?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Wolfpack and Seminoles Battle Tonight

North Carolina State and Florida State have developed a nice little rivalry in football. The two ACC foes renew that rivalry tonight in Raleigh on ESPN.

The Seminoles have won five out of the last nine meetings including three straight. But the Wolfpack made this a rivalry early in the decade.

Former NC State player Chuck Amato began his coaching in Raleigh after serving as an assistant under Bobby Bowden with the Florida State.

The two had some spirited battles and the pupil beat the teacher too. But Amato didn’t win enough games and the Wolfpack fired him. Bowden took Amato back.

That situation seemed to fuel the rivalry in a different way. But now Bowden and Amato are no longer with Florida State.

But the rivalry lives on and ESPN likes it too especially on a Thursday night.

New Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher has the Seminoles playing well. They are 6-1 overall, 4-0 in league play and ranked 16th this week in the AP poll.

North Carolina State has surprised people. The Wolfpack hope to surprised their visitors too and improve on 5-2 and 2-1 records.

This has the making of an interesting contest.

So if you want to take a break from the World Series, you might want to check this ACC fight out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boise State and the Blue Turf

I have been a fan of Boise State from a far for a while. I appreciate the Broncos’ winning ways as an underdog in the BCS. It brings freshness to the college football story. Freshness is good.

I have written about the blue turf in Boise State’s stadium before. From the beginning, it was a ploy to get national attention. It worked and ESPN listened. ESPN started doing games at Boise State.

But this blue turf story is getting old. It’s time for Boise State to abandoned the blue turf and return to the traditional green stuff. They would do a great service to American TV viewers if they retired the blue turf. America gets the message. Boise State is a good football team. Rest on your productivity, forget the gimmicks

I cannot watch much of a Boise State home game on TV such as last night’s contest against Louisiana Tech. The blue turf is just too hard on my eyes. It makes them hurt and besides, it’s difficult to follow the football. And I would think there are plenty of viewers out in TV land with the same opinion. I wonder what eye doctors think.

Does Boise State want to turn away viewers? No. The Broncos are still marketing their program and seeking attention. But in my view, they can now do it without the blue turf.

Does the blue turf bother your game watching?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mack Brown and Texas

After Iowa State’s upset victory over Texas last Saturday, I was wondering what the people in the Lone Star State thought about the game. Obviously, I knew they would be upset.

In case you didn’t realize it, they take football pretty seriously in Texas—especially Longhorn football. But maybe as the Texas losses mount, the fans are being conditioned to accept the worst.


This one columnist was going after the coaches and players. Pretty typical stuff. He said that Texas will probably only qualify for a low tier bowl like the Insight Bowl. Memo to the writer: the Longhorns have just four wins, they need six. Don’t count your chickens, I mean steers before it’s time.

But this columnist also went after Brown’s salary—more than $5 million per year. I don’t understand why writers and fans go after coach’s salaries only when the team starts losing. When a team wins consistently, the coach’s salary is largely a mute point.
But folks, the coach is going to get paid whether he wins or loses. The money is only affected in terms of bonuses and termination.

So if Texas fans believe Brown is such a bad coach, then call for his firing. But as the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Brown is the same guy who led Texas to a national championship. Did his coaching skills decline that fast?

Food for thought Texas fans as you await a hungry Baylor Bears team this week.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Missouri Tigers Show Muscle

There is a new hot team in college football and it comes from the Show-Me-State.

The Missouri Tigers put on an impressive show Saturday night in beating previously undefeated Oklahoma.

Like a hot stock on Wall Street, the Tigers are climbing in the polls and in college football talk. Missouri is now ranked sixth in the BCS standings, seventh in AP and eighth in the coach’s poll. Before the Oklahoma game, the Tigers were buried in the rankings.

Missouri is now 7-0, but face another stern test this week at Nebraska. Hangovers have been the norm in college football this season (defeat a highly ranked team one week, and then fall the next), so the Tigers must be on alert.

Most people picked Missouri to have a good season but not a great one. The Tigers have been competitive in recent seasons, but spotty. Now, they have an opportunity to climb into the elite class.

But the word is out about Missouri. Teams will focus on playing the Tigers.

Can the Tigers live up to their name? Or will they turn into a pussy cat? We will find out starting this week.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Iowa State Shocks Texas

I didn’t see this one coming. No way, no how.

Iowa State came into today’s contest a wounded football team. Utah destroyed the Cyclones two weeks ago and then Oklahoma chewed them up and spit them out last week in Norman.

I read the quotes about them leaving that all behind and focusing on Texas. This time, maybe the talk wasn’t so cheap.

Iowa State looked like giant killers today. Texas looked like the old Iowa State team.
Both teams played definite roles but not the usual ones.

Texas continues its split personality. They go into Lincoln and pop the Nebraska Huskers. They then lose in front of the home crowd and look confused in the process. The Longhorns are now an ordinary 4-3.

Iowa State had never beaten Texas before today. The Cyclones looked confident and determined. Gaining their fourth win never felt so good.

Last year, Iowa State dumped Nebraska in Lincoln. This is starting to become a pattern with Paul Rhoad’s bunch. The Cyclones are suddenly in the hunt for a bowl game.

Texas still wonders what hit them. Instead of a tornado, it was a Cyclone.

What are your thoughts on today’s upset?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Iowa-Wisconsin: Old-School Big Ten Football

Iowa and Wisconsin battle each other in Iowa City Saturday and look for an old-time Big Ten Conference football game.

Both teams will try to establish their manhood early. Translation: both want to run the ball well and often. This will resemble Bo and Woody in the Michigan-Ohio State days.

The Badgers feature John Clay—a powerful back. The Hawks feature Adam Robinson who has power but also speed.

Iowa will throw the ball too. Wisconsin wants to keep it close because it doesn’t function well depending on the pass.

These games are usually tight and this one should be the same. Look for a low-scoring affair.

Iowa and Wisconsin are not only neighbors but run similar programs. Both recruit a similar player: guys who aren’t necessarily blue-chip prospects but embrace the team concept. Often, they compete for the same player.

Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema also has extra motivation this week. He is a former Hawk player and coached at Iowa.

Besides all the sub-plots of this game, it is an important one. Iowa is undefeated in the Big Ten, while Wisconsin has just one loss.

The victor will also have bragging rights for a long time. Because of the Big Ten realignment, the schools don’t play again until 2013.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why the Negative Talk About Georgia's Richt?

The pinks slips for college football coaches are already in the mail. Minnesota and North Texas are looking and others will be issuing their own pink slips.

And apparently people aren’t happy with Mark Richt at Georgia. That puzzles me.

Here’s a guy with a 93-31 record in his 10th season in Athens. He has guided the Bulldogs to nine straight bowl victories. He teams usually compete well in the rugged Southeast Conference.

But this year has been a struggle. The Bulldogs are 3-4 overall and 2-3 in the conference. Plus, Georgia has had a number of off the field issues with players. Some say Richt has lost control. There is still time to right the ship on both accounts however.

My problem is that the discontent appears focused on one season.

Richt hasn’t all of a sudden forgotten how to coach. He is still a great leader of young men.

Sometimes a team will record a bad season. Sometimes players get into trouble. That happens when you have a group of 110 teens and 20-some-year-olds.

Richt is a good football coach and a better man. He has a proven body of work. Georgia fans need to lighten up and stay the course.

Georgia could do a whole lot worse with a new football coach.

What do you think of the Georgia situation?


HOUSEKEEPING--In a previous blog, I connected coach Skip Holtz still with East Carolina. I forget that he moved to South Florida. Sorry for the error.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nebraska: the Big 12 Target

Nebraska hosted Texas last week holding onto an undefeated season and a No. 5 ranking.

Texas, who has displayed a split personality this season, was very unkind to its guest. So the Huskers said goodbye to the undefeated season and the No. 5 ranking.

It was Texas’s last trip to Lincoln (as conference foes) because the Huskers will join the Big Ten next season. And I’m sure the Longhorns wanted to give Nebraska a little going away present.

I sense other Big 12 schools are set on giving the Huskers the same present. It just might not work out for those schools.

Colorado is leaving the conference too but I don’t think there is as much disdain for the Buffaloes as Nebraska. Colorado’s squad has not been competitive in recent years, so why bother with the Buffs.

But Nebraska is Nebraska. And Nebraska is back on the national scene after taking a break. So if you are a Big 12 team, you want to beat them all the more this season.

The Texas loss was crippling for Nebraska’s national title hopes, but it can still make the last Big 12 season memorable. Barring a collapse, the Huskers should play for the conference title as representative of the weak North Division.

I see two potential real gift givers on Nebraska’s remaining schedule. The Huskers travel to Oklahoma State this week to oppose an explosive Cowboy’s team. Then late in November, they play Texas A&M in College Station which is a tough place for visitors.

Nebraska has a real opportunity to win the Big 12 championship. If that happens, it will not be a happy memory for the remaining Big 12 schools.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Minnesota Golden Gophers Need a Splash Hire

The Tim Brewster watch is finally over at Minnesota.

Not many coaches get fired in mid-season, but a change was necessary. The bleeding wouldn’t stop. So instead of having a lame duck coach for the rest of the year, Brewster is gone.

Brewster received a nice going away package—reportedly $600,000. Not bad for a coach who won one game this season and couldn’t beat teams like North Dakota State and South Dakota.

Brewster will be fine. He will resurface as an assistant coach somewhere. That is the usual former head coach route.

But the Golden Gophers are in trouble. This season is pretty much a wash. The coaches and athletic director will say all the right public relations things, but it will be tough to salvage this season.

Right now, Minnesota clings to basically two positive things: a beautiful, fairly new stadium and money from the Big Ten Network.

Minnesota need a wow hire as its next football coach. No, Glen Mason or Brewsters this time around. The Gophers need to spend money on a name coach or a so-called can’t miss rising young star.

Two guys who jump out are Mike Leach and Skip Holtz. Leach had his well-documented problems at Texas Tech but would bring some excitement to the Gophers with a high-scoring offense. Holtz keeps winning at East Carolina and might want to jump to Minnesota if asked. His famous dad, Lou had a short stint with the Gophers.

The bottom line is things cannot become much worse with the Minnesota football program. The selling hope program gets old.

The Gophers simply need results. And soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Told You So

Ohio State proved Saturday night my observation that the Buckeyes are not the best team in the land with a thumping at Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes held the No. 1 ranking only one week. Now Oregon is No. 1 in most polls and will hold it for at least more than a week because the Ducks are idle this Saturday.

But back to Ohio State. The Buckeyes have played a soft schedule and it showed Saturday night. The Buckeyes gave Wisconsin a major punch in the second half, but the Badgers responded and it was over. As I stated in an earlier blog, Ohio State must still face Iowa and Michigan. Two-loss teams will not make a championship run.

But if somehow Ohio State could run the table with its remaining games and stay at one loss, the Buckeyes could still make noise. This could be the year where even one-loss teams could compete for the title.

Oregon and Oklahoma should be concerned. The upset bug is alive-and-well in college football this season.

Right now, the Sooners and Ducks are one and two in the BCS standings, but this race could get really crazy at the end.

Isn’t college football a grand game?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Midnight Madness Means College Basketball is Near

Depending upon where you were in the country, 12 a.m. had significance today. Many Division I schools hosted their Midnight Madness and kicked off the 2010-11 season.

This ritual is basically a basketball party. Sure, the team may go through a few drills, but it’s basically to invite fans, have contests and get a positive vibe for the upcoming season.

Of course, TV doesn’t hurt either. ESPNU was reporting from various venues. This Midnight Madness is also show business.

I didn’t watch any of the coverage. It was too late for me. In middle age, we try to make it to 10 o’clock before saying good-night.

But I might be the exception. This Midnight Madness stuff seems to grow and get bigger ever year. Someone on TV said it was good for recruiting. It may also sell additional tickets How about team apparel? For schools with lousy football teams, it gives hope that the basketball team will make you forget about football season.

Hope springs eternal at Midnight Madness. But for some schools, once practice really starts the reality sets in. And the good feeling passes.

But whether your team is good or bad, it starts for real in early November. And for 68 special teams, Midnight Madness joyfully will turn into March Madness.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Iowa and Michigan Really Need This Game

When Iowa and Michigan tangle in the Big House tomorrow (Saturday), the stakes are high.

Can Iowa defeat a quality opponent on the road? It’s only the Hawks second road game of the season and they failed miserably against Arizona earlier. Iowa should become a Big Ten title contender this season but a slipup at Michigan will greatly hinder that quest.

With its running game under siege due to injury, look for the Hawks to throw the ball more and put the game in the hands of senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi. Their strong defense must contain an athletic and potent Michigan offense.

But a Michigan question is a big one. What Wolverine team shows up this week? Will it be the club that Michigan State humbled in Ann Arbor last Saturday? Or will it be the team that exploded on offense in their previous victories.

Despite the winning start this season, Michigan fans are not in love with coach Rich Rodriquez yet? It’s been a rocky marriage and would get worse with a loss to Iowa.

Iowa wants a good old fashioned grind it out Big Ten game. Michigan wants lots of offense and a high score. It’s essentially the old vs the new in the Big Ten this week.

It sounds like a great match up.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Norm Parker: Iowa Hawkeyes Inspiration

Norm Parker is the defensive coordinator for the Iowa Hawkeye football team. He has led a stout Iowa defense since 1999. Although the average football fan may not know Parker, his peers know all about the guy.

Parker has battled diabetes for a long, long time. He has had serious bouts with the disease the last couple years and it finally struck him down this season. He has missed several Hawkeye games.

Reports say that he has been hospitalized and doctors apparently removed a foot. How far they went with this procedure is unknown. Head coach Kirk Ferentz believes Parker will rejoin he team at some point but is unsure when.

So the Hawkeyes move forward without their defensive guru. Parker’s influence is still apparent, but the defense is handled by committee these days.

Parker is obviously missed. He is a tough, old football guy, but a media delight. He is honest with his comments and has a great sense of humor. With the humor part, he is more like a basketball coach than a football one.

Parker keeps battling like his Iowa defenses. You would expect nothing different from this coach.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Ugly Side of College Sports

The news cycle lately seems full of bad news in college sports.

It’s not about injuries but the age-old cheating on campuses across the nation.

Today, I read about a possible investigation at Baylor regarding a recruit. Yesterday, I read about a sports agent who said he gave money to numerous players. The fallout of North Carolina football continues. UCONN admits violations in its men’s hoops program.

The sad thing is we have become accustomed to these incidents and hardly blink anymore. We would rather talk about games and winners and losing on the field. But these incidents influences games and winners and losers on the field.

Maybe the NCAA needs to inflict harsher penalties on universities. Plus, maybe it should suspend more coaches who are ultimately responsible for their programs.

Cheating continues to get worse and we never hear obviously about the ones who don’t get caught. It’s time for somebody somewhere to stand up for integrity.

Integrity may not receive the flashy headlines, but it is simply the right thing to do.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ohio State Not the Best Team in the Land

Ohio State moved into No. 1 in the polls this week, but I like to think it was because of default. Someone had to become No. 1, right.

I’m not saying the Buckeyes won’t deserve a No. 1 ranking sometime, but not yet. They have played a soft schedule and now some Big Ten games will challenge them. This week, Ohio State travels to Wisconsin. Then later another road game with tough Iowa. And then the annual battle against Michigan. How about this: the Buckeyes catch a break with no Michigan State on the schedule.

So if they can defeat the above mentioned opponents and others then Ohio State deserves a No. 1 ranking and a shot at the BCS title game.

Of course, will anybody claim the No. 1 prize this season? It has been a wacky year so far. Alabama loses and Texas falls twice. Who would have thought that coming into the season? Cinderella teams like Boise State and Texas Christian (TCU) still have a legitimate chance.

It may be a wacky season, but it is an enjoyable one. The stakes change about every week and it makes for high drama.

Look for that drama to continue throughout the year.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alabama Proves a Point

Nick Sabin’s bunch looked like world beaters this season. Alabama was the cream of college football until last Saturday.

There’s nothing like a double-digit defeat to South Carolina to give everyone a little taste of reality, however. The old saying is true: “On any given Saturday, one team can beat the other.”

Perfection is a real burden carrier. And maybe the Tide paid too close attention to their press clippings. Arkansas almost beat them earlier in the year. This time, the home team finally whacked Alabama.

The Tide’s role now becomes cheerleaders. They hope undefeated teams fall like they fell. Defending their national title appears unlikely with one loss. Off course, that assumes they win their remaining games.

Leave it to South Carolina to give Alabama pain. The old ball coach, Steve Spurrier, is probably still smiling on this Monday. Smiles have been rare during Spurrier’s time with the Gamecocks.

Suddenly, smiles are definitely on vacation in Alabama. That’s what happens when old sayings become true.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Nebraska is in a Unique Spot

Watching Nebraska’s appearance on ESPN Thursday night caused me to think the Huskers are like a team without a country.

It’s reminds me of a guy who takes a new job but is finishing out his old one. He isn’t really part of the old job anymore even though he finds himself there. He is an outsider yet with the new job because he is not there. The people at his old job treat him differently now because he is not part of the future. The new job folks are still in the major welcoming stage but unsure how this guy will fit.

Nebraska has divorced the Big 12 for the Big Ten. But they are still playing in the Big 12 this season. Conference schools want to defeat the Huskers in a different way now. Nebraska wants a strong finish in the conference to prove it is a quality program and to convince the Big Ten the program is definitely worthy of joining its conference.

Nebraska’s strong team this season makes its more interesting. The Huskers could march themselves through the Big 12 championship game and represent the conference in a major BCS game.

If that happens, other Big 12 schools might compare the feat to kissing your sister. And Nebraska might term it the perfect going away present.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Big Game in the Big Ten

Any year the Michigan-Michigan State football game is a big one especially in the motor state. But Saturday’s game is a big, big one.

Michigan State travels to Ann Arbor and puts its 5-0 mark up against Michigan’s 5-0 record. Both teams have had hiccups, but have moved beyond them. Now, we will see what team has real chops.

The Spartan’s main story has been the heart health of coach Mark Dantonio. He plans to be in the press box on Saturday. Michigan’s main story is quarterback Denard Robinson. This guy is lighting up college football. The question is can this youngster keep it up. This game should provide a stern test.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez’s job is probably safe with the Wolverine’s undefeated start. His offensive style of play with the multiple-style quarterback is finally clicking. Just don’t tell the old Michigan traditionalists.

My Michigan relatives are huge Wolverine fans, but I’m cheering for the visitors in this one. It’s hard not to like Michigan State with the Dantonio story and a class act quarterback in Kirk Cousins.

Who is your favorite?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Tim Brewster Watch

Minnesota football coach Tim Brewster is in big, big trouble. He came into the 2010 season needing victories to probably save his job.

But it’s not happening.

The Gophers enter their game at Wisconsin Saturday with a 1-4 marking including fourth straight loses at home. Let me repeat four straight losses AND at HOME.

The lone victory was at Middle Tennessee State. Ouch!

Brewster needs a football miracle now. The problem is negativity is as powerful as the positive stuff. And after four straight losses and talk of Brewster’s dire circumstances, will these college kids respond with fight or accept their plight?

For Minnesota fans, the Brewster era seems like a broken record. The Gophers haven’t been competitive for a number of years. Sure they have been to bowl games but with records generally around the .500 mark. Glen Mason preceded Brewster and his tenure was also rocky. Gopher fans who watch the Big Ten Network see Mason sitting on the set and probably think “The nightmare just continues.”

Being located in Iowa, we experience the good-natured Minnesota-Iowa jokes. But come the last regular season game of the year when the Gophers play Iowa, the Minnesota coach will probably be without a laughing attitude.

Because it may be his final game as coach.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Last Saturday's ACC Game Really Meant

Virginia Tech’s victory over previous undefeated North Carolina State last Saturday was a defining moment for both teams.

The Hokies were highly ranked coming into the season. Their pre-conference losses were surprising. But after Saturday’s win, maybe Virginia Tech will come alive in the conference and win many games. The Hokies definitely possess the talent and speed to accomplish that goal.

Wolfpack fans realized again that how Russell Wilson goes, so goes the Pack. Wilson had a sub-par game throwing touchdowns but also throwing interceptions. When Wilson stars, the Pack wins. When he doesn’t star, the Pack often falls. To use a little baseball speak: Wilson can carry the team. He is that good.

Expects believe the ACC is down this year and the Pack is a surprise. So Saturday’s game was a battle of two teams seeking division titles. Maybe that contest was the first of a two-game series. Virginia Tech and North Carolina State could end up in the ACC championship game against each other.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tennessee Coaches Need Counting Lessons

Tennessee must still be in shock over the Vols lost to LSU Saturday.

Tennessee had the road victory in its sights and then somebody forget how to count in the waning moments. The Vols placed 13 players on the field to try to stop LSU deep in Tennessee territory. The flag gave LSU another chance and consequently the victory.

Now, I can understand having 12 men on the field (that happens occasionally) but 13? Wow. That’s practically an army rather than a football team.

Maybe the university math professors should offer a counting class to the Tennessee coaches. It is you know a place of higher learning. This doesn’t require higher learning however, just simple, simple counting. One, two, three…

Tennessee has played some memorable games in its rich football history. This one may go down as the top game with plenty of orange checkered towels draped over it for crying purposes.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

This Iowa-Penn State Matchup Looks Lopsided

While most TV sets will air either Oregon-Stanford or Florida-Alabama, most sets in Iowa and some in Pennsylvania will turn to the game in the corn state.

Iowa and Penn State have staged some close games over the years with Kirk Ferentz usually besting Joe Pa. By the way, Ferentz being a Pennsylvania native probably takes great delight in beat the Lions.

Most expects don’t give Penn State much of a chance in this one. The Hawkeyes have too many weapons on both offense and defense. And with a non-experienced quarterback, Penn State figures to lack in scoring production against that tough, tough Iowa defense.

But maybe Joe Pa likes his underdog status. He can sneak through the backdoor rather than go through the front. Some people question whether Joe Pa has the athletes anymore, so a surprise in Iowa City would be more notable.

Iowa already has an unexpected losing falling to Arizona a couple weeks ago. The Hawkeyes want to get back into the national picture and setup the game with Ohio State in the near future.

Ferentz will have Iowa ready.

Friday, October 1, 2010

ESPN Should Stop Airing Friday Night College Football

I think ESPN performs a great service televising high school football on Friday nights. The sports giant began airing those games this season.

ESPN has also featured a college football game on Friday night for a number of years. I felt bad for the high schools when that started because it takes away from high school football all across the country on that special night.

Friday night IS high school football in rural communities and large cities. Out here in the heartland, Friday night football unites a community. It’s a gathering point and usually the most important event of the day.

But when the weather gets a little rugged like rain, cold or wind, it is easier to stay home. Then if you need your football fix, you turn to ESPN. But then you lose community, your favorite team loses your presence and your revenue.

I think ESPN should expand its high school football coverage on Friday. Do a doubleheader. Celebrate the occasion. Draw people into high school football. It might actually improve the local gate.

The colleges have enough primetime exposure on ESPN. They have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights and all day Saturday.

What are your thoughts on ESPN Friday night football?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bye-Bye Baseball at Cal

University of California (Cal) announced this week that it was cutting five sports including baseball.

Back in the day, sports were almost sacred. Sports were hardly ever slashed, they actually grew. But this is a new era and with tight money, everything is on the potential hit list.

However, I find it interesting that every time baseball is finished at a major university, there is a tremendous outcry. I love professional baseball, but apparently the sport of baseball it isn’t popular on most college campuses. Sure you have your USC, Florida State, Miami programs, but can you tell me the four finalists in last season’s College World Series?

College baseball is considered a “minor” sport because it doesn’t generate enough money to finance itself. So sports like baseball must depend on the cash cows such as football and men’s basketball or other athletic monies.

I wonder why college baseball isn’t more popular. Is it because of the lack of major scholarship money? Is it because the media doesn’t provide college baseball much attention?

We have three state universities in Iowa and only the University of Iowa still offers baseball. The University of Northern Iowa dropped its program early this year. Iowa State dropped its team a while back.

Look for more college baseball fields to grow silent unless some multi-million dollar pro stars come to the rescue.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stanford-Oregon Game Should be a Dandy

One of the most interesting games this Saturday takes place in Eugene, Oregon, when Oregon hosts Stanford.

Let’s face it. This is a real road game for most folks in the country. It’s on the West Coast, but the TV folks have it scheduled for a decent time for the entire country.

You have to like the storylines for this Pac-10 contest.

Oregon is the higher ranked team and playing in front of loud, rowdy fans. The Ducks have gained a national following in recent years winning consistently. But they pardon the pun, duck out of a big game on occasion. This is a big game.

The Stanford Cardinal is a media darling this season. You will catch them via ESPN, Sports Illustrated and other outlets. Stanford’s coach, Jim Harbaugh, is a rising coach and many wonder how long he will reside at Stanford. Harbaugh played for Bo Schembechler at Michigan. Enough said. He is a tough guy with an ability to coach today’s athlete.

Stanford needs this victory to reinforce its “We’re a major player on the national stage now” chant. Oregon has the most to lose in this game for reasons stated already (home field, higher ranking). Therefore, they need the win to show folks they are more than Phil Knight’s boys and wild uniforms.

I’m not making a prediction in this one, but I think the Cardinal has a good shot of winning.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dave Diles was College Football Scores

One of the joys of following college football on Saturday is watching the scores of various games across the country. Sometimes you are shocked, others are only possible upsets.

Today, you have various outlets for score information, but back in the old days you went to one source. And Dave Diles was that source. He was the Walter Cronkite of college football scores.

Diles hosted the “Prudential College Football Scoreboard Show” on ABC for a number of years. I remember as kid looking forward to that show each week. Diles had a great voice and interesting tidbits along with his scores. I couldn’t believe there were so many college football games played across the country. And if it was Division I school or even smaller, Diles had the score. Even Ivy League games like Harvard-Yale.

College football was a lot simpler back then. Television offered few choices and few games. The television screen wasn’t one giant information outlet with constant visual simulation. You had to really want and find the scores.

That’s why I turned to Diles. And many other people did the same. Diles died last year and although he was long gone as a score host before then, his passing also included the close of an era.

When I think of it, a smile comes across my face.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Paging Colt McCoy

I wonder if the state of Texas has recovered yet. Not only did UCLA defeat Texas but the Bruins did it easily and in Austin.

Texas receives an occasional hurricane and this was a major storm.

People said Texas was looking ahead to the Oklahoma game. Some said that the Longhorns took UCLA lightly. I propose that maybe Texas isn’t that good.

Pollsters buy my theory. Last week, Texas was ranked No. 7. This week, it’s No. 21. Well…

Scoring only 12 points in any football game usually is a problem. UCLA is no world beater, but the Bruins aren’t Sam Houston State either.

Texas fans are no doubt wishing Colt McCoy was back behind center. Garrett Gilbert is at the controls now. Maybe this week, he would like to return to the clipboard carrying days.

Texas will survive. The Longhorns expect to win every game. That might have been the problem Saturday.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Russell Wilson Again Shines in NC State Win

If you aren’t watching North Carolina State’s Russell Wilson on television you are missing out.

This guy can play quarterback. He was very good again today as the Pack defeated Georgia Tech 45-28 in Atlanta.

Wilson was the biggest reason North Carolina State moved to 4-0 on the season and 1-0in the ACC. He threw for three touchdowns and totaled 368 yards on a 28-for-41 passing day. He also tallied a rushing touchdown. Wilson’s only big mistake was throwing an interception that resulted in a Georgia Tech touchdown.

Wilson’s physical talents were again apparent but I like this guy’s leadership. When Georgia Tech seized the momentum in the second half, the redshirt junior responded like a winner does.

This guy should be the early front-runner for ACC Player-of-the-Year. Plus, Wilson has now positioned the Pack to make some serious noise in the conference race. Pre-season predictions didn’t give the Pack much of a chance, but with a high-scoring offense and a decent defense, North Carolina State is a surprise.

Look for the Pack to soon move into the Top 25. If Wilson stays healthy, the prizes could become larger.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Little Honesty in College Sports, Please

Regarding the ongoing investigation of troubles in the North Carolina football program, Coach Butch Davis basically said Thursday that the Tar Heels need to do a better job monitoring the program.

Wow, that was it. I was hoping for a little more. I’m not just going after Davis specifically with his situation. It could be some other coach at some other school. Believe me, there have been many other examples.

I would love for a coach someday said to say something like this: “We messed up. We tried to fool people. We made a huge mistake. We let our fans and the university down. We are ashamed. Please forgive us.”

You might hear some of those above statements after the NCAA or the institution comes down on a program, but generally not before.

Come on folks, confession of guilt is good for the soul. There is something healing about confessing your wrong doings. America loves to give second chances after people confess. What America doesn’t like are dodgers.

One other thought. These coaches that claim they don’t know what’s going on with certain aspects of their program. What, huh? The coach is the boss. He should know the situation. If he doesn’t, he should have someone report to him that knows. Some one time incidents do happen like drunken driving, but I strongly question whether the coach doesn’t know when a player receives a bunch of money (re: drives a fancy car and exhibits fancy clothing) or is doing something else on a repeated basis.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Surprise: Student Fees Help Pay for Collegiate Athletic Teams

I chuckled a bit yesterday when I read a USA Today story that described a mother’s displeasure not knowing her daughter was actually funding the university athletic program.

The mother wished the Virginia university fully disclosed its intentions of taking her daughter’s money. Apparently, the daughter wasn’t that interested in sports at the school but she attended a few games. Memo to both mother and daughter: welcome to the world of college taxes. There are numerous hidden taxes in life and colleges and universities want their piece as well.

And it could get worse.

The money in higher education continues shrinking and athletic departments feel the pain too. Some have depended heavily on their school’s general budget for funding and because of the economic mess need to wean the department from that money source.

Here in Iowa, according to reports, the University of Northern Iowa Athletic Department receives about 38 percent of its money from the university general fund. In general terms, the Board of Regents recently told Northern Iowa (the school that shocked Kansas in the NCAA last season) to become more self-sustaining. One way to do that is to increase student athletic fees for each student that attends the university.

Obviously, universities cannot raise student fees too much or they might suffer admission problems. But this tax will not go away. It’s as they say, the price for doing business. And whether you enjoy sports or not, they aren’t going away either.

About the only hope for change in the situation is for the economy to improve. And that journey may take a long, long time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Michigan State's Mark Dantonio Teaches Lessons

Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio experienced major joy and major heartache last Saturday.

Dantonio led his team to an overtime victory past rival Notre Dame and then suffered a mild heart attack later in the evening. Talk about going from the penthouse to the outhouse.

The coach’s situation reminds us that football is just a game. Sometimes football seems bigger than life, but it isn’t. Just ask Dantonio. It’s pretty difficult to coach or even watch a football game if you cannot breathe.

I don’t know much about Dantonio, but I hope he isn’t one of those guys who live at the office during the season. You hear stories about those guys. They are either stupid or truly dedicated coaches depending on your prospective. Football coaches have the reputation of being tough, but that might be questionable when the stadium lights go off.

Dantonio obviously received his wakeup call. Hopefully, he will stay away from the game until he is really ready to coach again. It’s a simple fact of life: football coaches are replaceable just like the rest of us. It only takes a few missed heartbeats to figure that one out.