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.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Should the NCAA Pay Athletes?

The long standing discussion about whether student-athletes should be paid is gaining steam again.

Former NCAA athletes Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller have brought lawsuits against the NCAA asking them to share its wealth with the athletes.

O’Bannon and Keller are intelligent enough to realize they are fighting against a billion-dollar industry with mighty clout and mighty lawyers. But even if reform happens in some way, then the fight is worth it.

Players are being paid now. It is just illegal. Boosters, sports agents and others are definitely supplying the money.

The NCAA argues athletes receive scholarships and room and board as a form of payment. I can tell you that Division I athletes aren’t staying at $30 motels or eating at fast food restaurants while on the road

Call me old fashioned, but I am not in favor of the NCAA paying athletes. How could it develop a fair system that would pay athletes on even a somewhat equal system? And frankly when you start actually paying athletes, you have professional sports with a different set of challenges.

I think the NCAA should provide a set number of scholarships to schools’ general fund based on sports Top 25 polls. All schools finishing in the Top 25 at the end of the season would receive the number of scholarships per final ranking. You could take the football and basketball polls for the men and the volleyball and basketballs polls for the women. This would give schools a tremendous boast in an age when major cuts are plaguing colleges and universities finances.

O’Bannon and Keller are providing awareness. Now it is time to put that awareness into action via the courts or some other element.

Do you believe athletes should be paid? Why or why not?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I'm Not in the Prediction Business

I predicted in this space Saturday that No. 9 Iowa would defeated No. 24 Arizona in Tucson. So much for picking the winner. I best stop while I'm 0-1.

Iowa decided to carry some issues from last year into this game--turnovers. Last year, the Hawkeyes seems to triumph over their turnovers and win some close games. Saturday night, the golden slipper came off.

Iowa played a miserable first half and then came charging back in the second half. But it was the Wildcats' party and victory time.

It was a huge, statement game for Arizona. Iowa suffered a big loss with high hopes for a special season.

The real question mark for Iowa is how it will react to the defeat. Will the Hawks put it in the past or will it lingering and negatively affective the rest of the season?

Coaches receive big paychecks and this development will require serious coaching attention.

The Hawkeyes should be fine against Ball State this week (no prediction), but the Big Ten season is swiftly approaching. With the likes of Penn State and Ohio State in the future, Hawkeye fans cannot feel as confident going into those games.

Certainly, they would have been pumped at 3-0, but the reality is a deep blemish at 2-1.

Will Iowa rebound?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Iowa Will Defeat Arizona Tonight

Interest for the Iowa-Arizona match up tonight in Tucson seems quite high. There are some who believe the No 24 Wildcats will upset the No. 9 Hawkeyes.

But I'm not one of those persons.

The biggest advantage Arizona has is the home field. Plus, Iowa traditionally doesn't play well out West. Some also like Arizona's speed in this game.

But for the few Arizona pluses, Iowa has more. Adrian Clayborn is one of the top defense players in the country. The guy is a load and gives defenses fits. In fact, the Hawkeye’s' defense as a whole is stellar. Iowa also has a talented offense with several weapons. One guy who doesn't get much publicity is wide receiver Marvin McNutt. The 6-4 converted quarterback is a game-changer and always seems to make big catches and tacks on additional yardage after the grab.

Iowa has a way of controlling a contest. Some teams worry about the opponent's plans, Iowa worries about its own plans. The Hawkeyes had their way with Iowa State last week and will seek to dominant the Wildcats and punch them in the mouth.

This Iowa team is good--really good. Coach Kirk Ferentz will have his team ready and I will be surprised if they lay an egg. This is a big game for Iowa and an opportunity to show the nation that it will be in the topic of conversation for top five in the country.

Who do you think prevails in this game?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Who is Quarterback Russell Wilson?

North Carolina State's Russell Wilson is an outstanding football player. Too bad most of the nation outside the Atlantic Coast Conference have never heard of the junior quarterback.

However, Wilson put a show on for the nation last night under the bright lights of the ESPN cameras. He completed 26-of-40 passes for 333 yards including three touchdowns. He also rushed for 33 yards in the Wolfpack's 30-19 victory over Cincinnati.

These guy is a joy to watch. He is just an athlete. He throws a catchable ball, has a rocket right arm and can scramble and put up valuable rushing yards. Wilson is a total quarterback package.

Wilson has started for the Wolfpack for three years. He has been plagued with injuries and inconsistency. He has made first team ACC but has also offered forgettable performances where you ask why can a guy with this much talent be this bad?

NC State has started 3-0 this season. It has a solid offense and a good, serviceable defense. But if the Pack is to surprise folks in the conference and the country, Wilson will lead them. He is the type of player who can definitely carry a team.

Wilson's best sport may not even be football. He has played middle infield for the Pack baseball team and performed this past summer in the Colorado Rockies chain.

So in the future, he will have a decision. Right now, Pack fans are hoping they have another ACC first-teamer that will lead NC State to many victories this fall.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Heisman Trophy Talk

The Heisman Trophy brass made the proper decision when it announced that the 2005 award would remain vacant after Reggie Bush decided to give the trophy back.

There was some talk that runner-up Vince Young should garner the award. Well, Young finished a distant second that year, so why should he be elevated to the top spot? Anyone who wins the Heisman should earn it plain-and-simple. It's okay to have one year without an actual winner. It won't tarnish the luster of the award.

The NCAA could take a lesson from the Heisman folks. Whenever the NCAA finds someone cheating and takes away a conference championship and something higher, they will also make the school forfeit the games won. That seems pretty meaningless. Joe's College finished that year 5-6 and now it can claim a 6-6 record. But the problem is nobody cares or probably remembers. And frankly, Joe's College probably doesn't care either. So, NCAA take some advice from the Heisman folks and just move on.

Hopefully, all this 2005 Heisman talk can return to the past. There is a college football season happening and some players want to become the talk of the 2010 Heisman Trophy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reggie Bush Decision Offers Part Closure

Reggie Bush said yesterday he is returning the 2005 Heisman Trophy.

His declaration put to rest the status of Heisman rumors that were circulating for weeks. Many were wondering if the Heisman folks would pull the award away from Bush.
So whether he was encourage to surrender the award or did it out of his own will, Bush made the right choice.

The Heisman Trophy has always been about more than great football accomplishment. Character counts too. Bush did not display good character. So, now the Heisman folks can move on and decide whether to give it to runner-up Vince Young or leave the award vacant for 2005.

Bush can move on too. He has accepted the consequences of his bad actions while playing for USC. He cannot erase the actions, but maybe his conscience is a bit clearer these days.

People want to still blame Bush for the USC troubles. I am not saying that he wasn't a major player in the mess, but where was the athletic administration and coaching staff? I think Bush was a definite symptom at USC, but not the disease.

Some people also believe Bush is not paying for his sins at USC. This is not the case. He gave back the highest individual prize in college football and will probably continue some lingering guilt for his mistakes.

What do you think about Bush giving back the Heisman?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Come on People, Give Boise State Some Love

This just isn't right.

Boise State rises to No. 3 in the national poll and gets some respect from the pollsters. Then last week, Virginia Tech loses to James Madison and Boise State drops overall points in the poll.

Boise State is guilty via association with Virgina Tech. Boise defeated then highly-ranked Hokies in week one and people said Boise was a legitimate team. Now, Boise isn't as good a team as many thought because of Virginia Tech's loss. Huh?

That's like blaming a car dealer for an accident you caused when leaving his car lot.

Could Boise be a victim of discrimination? Could voters be looking for an excuse not to included the not-so-big boys in the big boy's club. You wonder.

It's sad that Broncos coach Chris Petersen had to come out and defend his team after last weekend. Boise can only win the games on its schedule not the other teams too.

I'm not saying Alabama and Ohio State aren't the cream this season. But as in previous years, all Boise wants is an opportunity to go to the party.

And if Boise hangs in there and wins all its games, they have a decent chance to be that cream. I think Alabama and Ohio State will not go through the season both undefeated.

Do you think Boise is receiving enough love this season?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stay Away From Sharp Objects Gopher Fans

I just feel like I need to reach out to my northern neighbors today in the great state of Minnesota. Gopher fans I understand your pain.

Wow. I was feeling bad after Iowa destroyed Iowa State Saturday. But then I saw the South Dakota-Minnesota score. Suddenly in comparison, my pain wasn't so bad.

I actually watch a portion of the Minnesota game and saw South Dakota score on a long pass. My thoughts were that the Gophers have been there before under the Coach Tim Brewster era.

South Dakota is more known for Presidential faces not football teams. It was a money game for the Vermillion school and it ate the icing along with the cake.

Brewster should quit scheduling schools from the Dakotas. He is zero for Dakota. Minnesota also lost to North Dakota State. Maybe, Minnesota should schedule difficult teams for the pre-conference schedule. That way if the Gophers lose, they have an excuse.

Brewster is running out of excuses however. Apparently, he is fighting for his job. He needs victories and he needs them now. But the future schedule doesn't look good. Southern Cal comes to Gopherland this week and then Northern Illinois before the Big Ten schedule.

Gopher fans I would like to tell you that things cannot get much worse and to hang in there. But in your case, that might be overly optimistic.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Today's College Football Menu Offers a Feast

If you cannot become excited about one or more of today's college football matchups, then you are either not trying hard enough or you are not a real college football fan.

Wow, what a week two. The cupcake schedule must be taking a breather and so early in the year too. You got to love it.

Other than the Iowa-Iowa State game, my personal favorite is Penn State-Alabama. Can Joe Pa win with a young quarterback? Will the lost of Mark Ingram and a young secondary for Alabama make this game close?

But if those games don't draw you attention, how about Miami-Ohio State, Florida State-Oklahoma, Michigan-Notre Dame, Stanford-UCLA (an early conference game) or Arkansas-UL-Monroe. On the last one, I was just checking if you were paying attention.

So start flexing those fingers and hands. With so much action on the remote today, you don't want to get carpal tunnel so early in the season.

What game are you particularly interested in and why?

Enjoy the action.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Auburn's Gene Chizik is a Fortunate Fellow

I wonder if Auburn football coach Gene Chizik awakes each day and realizes how blessed he is in his profession.

Chizik came to mind yesterday when Auburn played Mississippi State in an ESPN Thursday night game.

Chizik may be the only college football coach in America to have two straight losing seasons in his first coaching position and THEN received an offer at a higher profile place with more money.

Chizik began his coaching career at Iowa State in 2007. The Cyclones were happy to land this hot shot assistant coach from the University of Texas. Iowa State even gave him a rock star introduction at his first press conference.

But the hype was just hype. Chizik struggled with a 5-19 overall record in his two seasons. He was a terrible 2-14 in the Big 12 Conference. Iowa State was committed to this guy however and wanted to give him time.

Well, Chizik apparently considered loyalty only one way. When Auburn offered him the job, he jumped.

Maybe the real strange type in this Chizik saga was Auburn. He had ties to the school (as a former defensive coordinator), but records like 5-19 get people fired not promoted. Auburn apparently (according to reports) was having difficulty landing a coach and went down on the list to Chizik.

Chizik was not welcomed by most in Alabama. Like the folks in Iowa, they thought it was a strange hire. According to one message point, people haven't exactly warmed up to Chizik yet. They credit offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn with being the main spoke behind the Tiger's high-power offense.

Chizik guided the Tigers to an 8-5 mark last season including a bowl win. He is 2-0 so far in 2010. We will see what happens when his own recruiting classes take hold.

Maybe if he keeps winning, he will actually get rewarded for a right reason this time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big Game Week in Iowa

It's time Saturday for the annual football showdown between Iowa and Iowa State.

The game that divides husbands and wives, parents and children, other relatives, cats and dogs and anyone else who cares. It's another opportunity to tell the world that the state of Iowa is more than one giant cornfield.

ABC is throwing some love at the game this year. It is showing it to seven percent of the nation on free TV, whereas the rest have it available on ESPN2. The fact that Iowa is ranked ninth in the country probably played a big part in the television interest.

The Iowa-Iowa State game is unlike most college rivalry contests in that it is played early in the season. Most games are at the end, but this one is played before both teams enter conference play.

Both come into the game with 1-0 marks. Iowa State played the tougher opponent in Northern Illinois and looked good. Iowa had its way with Eastern Illinois.

Iowa is a 13-point favorite and Iowa State's main goal is to score points. Last year, the Cyclones were held to just three and they haven't scored a touchdown in this series since 2006. Actually, they won the 2007 game with five field goals at 15-13.

Most people believe Iowa will win. But there is renewed interested in the Iowa State program with Coach Paul Rhoads posting a winning record last year in his first season. So look for a competitive game.

What are your memories of past Iowa-Iowa State games? Does anyone outside of Iowa care about this game?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kirk Ferentz Becomes Highest Paid Big Ten Coach

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz quietly became the top wage earner in the Big Ten last week. It was announced that Ferentz was given an extension (five additional years) and an increased of salary to 3.6 million per year. If Ferentz completes this phase of the contract he will be the Hawkeye coach for 10 more years.

In typical Ferentz fashion, he didn't beat his chest and declare he was the greatest coach in the Big Ten Conference or the universe. He calmly thanked the university for the opportunity and then probably wished everyone would go forward with their own lives.

Ferentz is a quiet, private guy who doesn't embrace the spotlight. He manages it well despite being the state's top paid public employee and residing in a fish bowl called Iowa Hawkeye sports.

The guy is a football CEO. He shows little emotion on the sidelines except for an occasional disagreement with an official--then you can see the veins in his neck. He is loyal to his assistant coaches and they stick around for him. Ferentz is an old football guy who likes to continue with plays and philosophy that brings success. He takes players who often aren't great players and develops them into great players in his system. Simply, he operates a winning program.

He and his wife, Mary, give of his wealth back to the university. The report is that he treats little kids well. Overall, he is known as a solid, decent guy.

People use to complain about Ferentz's salary. But these days there is little such talk. The football CEO has Iowa ready to challenge for another special season and many people want to enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Boise State Good for College Football

Boise State's 33-30 victory over Virginia Tech last night was a statement win.

The people in Boise and the entire state of Idaho would probably disagree with that declaration, but in this election year, it's all about obtaining votes.

More and more people in the country are realizing what the folks in Idaho already know, the Broncos play exciting and winning football. They are a legit team.

In the past, Boise State was more known for its blue turf. Nice conversation piece on ESPN. Then this Mountain West Conference team began to win including a major bowl game.

But the cry went out. Could Boise State battle the big boys of college football toe-to-toe on a regular basis? Or was this just a fluke?

America saw the positive result in this debate against the Hokies. Folks, the Broncos appear the real deal.

Outside Idaho, the biggest winner becomes college football. Mid-major program wants to be included in the big party. Mid-major has major success and forces the college powers to make room at the party. College football has a fresh, exciting face to go along side the usual heavyweights.

If this keeps up, we will be seeing more games featuring the blue turf. I wonder what that looks like in 3-D.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Don't Schedule North Dakota State in Football

You would think Division I athletic directors would learn. If North Dakota State isn't on the do not call list, please quickly put them on it. Warning: this team is lethal. The Bison can wreck a football season.

North Dakota State traveled to Lawrence, Kansas over the weekend and defeated the Kansas Jayhawks in a baseball score, 6-3.

Most people would call the result a shocker. But really it wasn't. Ask the Minnesota Golden Gophers if the Bison are on their schedule anymore. NDSU has also won at Minnesota.

Yes, this is the same Bison team that plays in the FCS Division (1-AA). They formerly competed in Division II. Imagine the Bison lockerroom before they battle a larger school. The coach tells them the team can win the game (coach speak) and the players actually believe it.

This football program is putting Fargo, North Dakota on the map. Fargo is more than computers, wheat fields and cold, cold weather. It's top-notch football too. Just don't remind Kansas or Minnesota.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Carolina Blues

You see Carolina blue all over this country. Sporting goods stores stock North Carolina items because they sell. Really sell. But there is a different kind of blue circling around Chapel Hill, North Carolina these days and it's not good. The blue of having a football program under NCAA investigation.

These are dark days at Carolina--a place known for solid athletic programs and high academic standards. If the allegations of a tutor writing papers for players are true, this could have a major fallout.

North Carolina suspended several players for tonight's game with LSU. This tells me these allegations are more than some minor infraction. North Carolina could be bracing itself for a hammer.

North Carolina wants some closure. Being in limbo land is not a pretty place. The sooner this investigation is over, the better for Carolina. Right now, a once promising upcoming season could end up in the toilet.

Coach Butch Davis might be having some sleepless nights too. His job could be on the line. As they say, the buck stops with him.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Leave Joe Paterno Alone

Joe Paterno, better known as Joe Pa, is in his 45th year as coach at Penn State. Yes, he is old, but he is not dead. Questions continually dog him about possible retirement.

Joe Pa is a tough guy. He appears crusty with the media folks. I often wonder what it would be like to cover him and his program.

But regardless of your thoughts and feelings on Paterno, he is a coaching survivor and he deserves to retire when he see necessary. I think Joe Pa might want to die on the football field, however.

He admits he doesn't do the actually coaching he once did. That is not a surprise. But the buck still stops with him. Besides being the football coach at Penn State, he IS Penn State. The guy means a lot to his university, college football and higher education in general.

I, too, thought a few years back he should retire. The Lions were slipping and the cries for Joe Pa's retirement were loud.

But I have changed my mind. I think Bobby Bowden's situation at Florida State helped change my view. Joe Pa is still winning and still having a major impact on Penn State. He will know when the fire or health tells him to depart.

Besides where would college football be without his demeanor and old style looks?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cupcakes and Patsies

They say death and taxes are certain in life. And for the college football fan, you can add another sure thing: many schools will play opponents known in the sports world as cupcakes or patsies.

The winners in this scenario are the two schools that schedule each other. The loser in this scenario is the fans.

First the winners.

Big-time school schedules little-time school for various reason. One, it figures fans will fill the stadium regardless of the opponent. Second, they want easy wins to pad the post-season resume. National championship opportunities and/or big bowl games come to mind. Third, the coach can rest his first-stringers and take a hard look at some bench players. It's also good for team morale.

Little-time school receives large pay from big-time school to play in front of thousands of people. It helps fund little-time athletic program for the entire season. Can you say women's golf and men's bowling? Second, playing big-time school helps recruiting athletically and in the general student population. It looks good in a brochure. Editorial note: just don't mention the final score.

There are risks involved here too. Little-time school might actually upset big-time school. For example, check Minnesota and Michigan's past schedules. If the upset does occur, big-time school will not become a gracious host and invited little-time school back for another game. Little-time school's risk is injuries. Big-time school's players are usually bigger, stronger and faster. Little-time school's goal is to get out of town with all limbs and teeth in place.

Now the loser.

Generally, fans will pay full price for this game. There are rare occasions when teams have trouble putting bodies in seats and they discount the tickets for certain games. Second, what fan really wants to see his/her team defeat a directional school 55-0? Imagine bragging to your buddies about that one. Third, instead of spending 4-5hours at that game, the fan could be taking a nap at home on the sofa or watching real games on TV. Fourth, the tailgating isn't as good because the attitude is bad.

Fans do have some solace however. Usually, the cupcakes appear on the front end of the schedule with a few sprinkled during the remainder of the season.

The cupcake season officially starts tonight (Thursday). Check your local schedule for the cupcake nearest you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Eyes are on USC Trojans

The USC Trojans are on this year's college football radar screen for different reasons. Usually they are in the elite group of college teams.

This season they join another group of schools--those punished by the NCAA. So this year's USC storyline is how the mighty men from Troy will respond.

The Trojans are still a pollster favorite with people picking them to finish in the top 20.

But with a new coach in Lane Kiffin, player defections and the cloud over this one proud program, will USC meet the pollsters expectations?

The NCAA sanctions should have a major outcome in the future as USC cannot stockpile top-notch players. But this year might be different too. Opposing teams might forget those red jerseys, the USC name and the Trojan horse. "These boys are beatable" may be the cry.

USC is paying for its crimes. We will see when the opposition starts partying frequently over the woes. I sense it will be sooner than later.