Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of my readers. It is a blessed time of year when we celebrate Jesus coming as a baby. This is the true meaning of Christmas.

Thank you for reading my blog and even commenting on my posts. I am blessed to have readers here in the United States and across the seas.

I plan to take a break for the holidays but will return with words and comments about the wonderful world of college athletics.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Christmas List--College Style

With my apologies to the song, “All I want for Christmas,” I present my top 10 wishes college style in no particular order.

•I want LSU and Alabama to play a 3-0 game in the BCS football title game. That baseball score would cause another great outcry about teams playing twice in a season including for the national championship.

•Baylor’s Robert Griffin III to return to school for another season. That seems highly unlikely so I hope he gets drafted by a team that will display his many talents.

•That the University of Louisiana-Lafayette receives more television time. How can you not fall in love with its nickname—the Ragin’ Cajuns?

•That the so called expects will quit picking on the Independence Bowl. I have been to Shreveport, Louisiana. It isn’t that bad. There are worst places.

•Please tone down the hype on the Rose Bowl game. It isn’t that special anymore even though people still call it the “Granddaddy” of the bowls. I think Granddaddy passed away a few years back.

•That the Big Ten Conference will truly change the football divisions named “Leaders” and “Legends.” Sorry, but it still sounds strange.

•That people will really believe Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz when he says he will remain the Hawkeye coach after another series of rumors. Why would a guy that has big time control of his program and makes $3.8 million per year really think about departing for another job?

Smaller schools complaining about the lack of love compared to the larger ones. Show it on the football field or basketball court and then get back to me.

•Teams like North Carolina, Kentucky, Syracuse or other traditional basketball powers not making the NCAA Final Four basketball. We need a couple new teams in that party to make it interesting.

•More Dick Vitale. The guy is a showman and has a great gig. He is good entertainment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The NCAA Slaps Ohio State

The NCAA placed a big ‘ole lump of coal in Ohio State’s Christmas stocking Tuesday.

The Buckeyes were placed on probation through the 2014-2015 academic year. Ohio State will lose three football scholarships per year and also will not play in a 2012 bowl game.

Depending upon who you listen to either Ohio State was punished too severely or the Buckeyes were fortune the infractions weren’t worse.

The laughable version was Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith. He said that Ohio State was disappointed with severity of the NCAA decision but was not going to appeal it. Frankly, Smith should be thankful he still has his job. Another thankful person regarding job security should be President Gordon Gee. I’m quite surprised these guys continue in their jobs.

Ohio State did the crime and it should do the time. Many were wondering if the NCAA would come down hard on one of its treasured athletic programs and I think the NCAA made a statement. How strong a statement will probably be determined in the future.

Will the sanctions hurt Ohio State? Losing one bowl game should have minimal consequences. Losing three scholarships per season should hurt a bit, but it basically means Ohio State will not be able to stockpile players as much as it did in the past.

I’m glad the NCAA came down on Ohio State. Cheating should not be tolerated. Hopefully the NCAA will continue to punish wrongdoers. It’s the right way to clean up college athletics.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paul Rhoads and Iowa State Extend Marriage

I have often written in this space that football coach Paul Rhoads and Iowa State are a good match. Last week, those parties made their commitment to each other in a long-term way when Rhoads was given a 10-year, $20-million contract.

Rhoads has been a miracle worker of sorts at the Ames, Iowa school. He has led them to two bowl appearances in three years. His first team made a bowl, won the bowl and finished 7-6.

After a hiccup last season, Iowa State entered this year with a tough schedule and low fan expectations. A bowl game was a major stretch so it seemed. But Rhoads’ boys bought into his salesmanship and the Cyclones overachieved. Their signature win against then ranked No. 2 Oklahoma State shocked the college football world.

So this 6-6 team is better than its record. A win against Rutgers in the bowl game will give Iowa State two winning seasons in three years under Rhoads.

That may not excite the masses, but Iowa State isn’t exactly a football powerhouse. However, Rhoads is making people across the country notice the program. His postgame locker room speeches have excited players and fans alike. The speeches even were posted on YouTube.

Rhoads has become a hot coaching prospect and other schools may come calling eventually. But Rhoads grew up just down the road from the Iowa State football stadium. He understands Iowa State football. He is home.

Iowa State is happy. Rhoads is happy. The two parties are in love hopefully for at least 10 more years.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baylor is Basketball This Season

It says something when your men’s basketball team is 9-0 and it isn’t even the best squad at your university.

The Baylor men’s team is indeed 9-0, but Baylor’s women’s team is 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country.

The Lady Bears knocked off No. 2 UCONN last night 66-61 in Waco. Brittney Griner, the Lady Bear’s 6-8 post player, tallied 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds while blocking nine shots. Another stellar performance for a stellar player.

You think Griner could hold her own against some college men players? I say, no doubt.

Griner and her teammates are grabbing some serious ink in Waco and around the country. The Lady Bears played in front of a sold out crowd last night. The Baylor’s men team cannot even claim a sell out yet this season.

The Baylor men’s team is somewhat quietly putting together a solid season. The Bears beat BYU in Utah last Saturday coming back from a 13-point first-half deficit. The win may improve Baylor’s No. 6 and No. 7 national rankings.

But the Baylor men’s team has a long way to go to top the women’s squad. The Lady Bears are on top of the world literally and figuratively these days.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It Starts Tomorrow

If you are a college football bowl fan, the wait is almost over. The bowl season officially begins Saturday with three games.

Other than the Army-Navy game last week, we have been without major college football for about two weeks. It was definitely enough time to recharge the batteries and prepare for the postseason.

This bowl season might seem longer than the regular season, but what do you expect when some 30 games are played? Actually, some of the lesser bowls might be more interesting than the bigger ones.

Some random thoughts on the bowl weekend.

The University of Louisiana-Lafayette rarely appears on television but the school will do the bright lights Saturday night at the New Orleans Bowl.

Interestingly, in this period of mediocre bowl records, the worst record of the six bowl teams playing this weekend is 7-5 Utah State.

I’m just wondering if the gift bags for the Idaho Potato Bowl include 10 pounds of Idaho’s best “spuds.”

New Mexico must either be a proud state or it has difficulty coming up with names. The New Mexico Bowl is straight and to the point.

Last year, I questioned Wyoming’s school colors. The Cowboys return to an early bowl game again, but I will play nice. I have no comment on brown, yellow and white.

Oh by the way, go Cowboys!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Back

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I had been dealing with a nasty since infection and pounding headache, but thankfully I seem on the mend now.

There was quite a bite of college football news this last week. I will mention just three.

Congratulations to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III (RG3) for winning the Heisman Trophy. What an outstanding young man representing Baylor and the college football world. When we get down about all the negative aspects and problems in college football, we need to remember the good stuff such as positive roles models like RG3.

Why did Charlie Weiss become the coach at Kansas? I can see the Jayhawk’s point. Kansas went for name recognition and putting people in the seats. But Weiss left a high profile offensive coordinator job at Florida for Lawrence, Kansas. Is it a promotion? Does Charlie really want to become a head coach again (see Notre Dame) that badly? I think Weiss fits better in the NFL than the NCAA.

Todd Graham left Pittsburgh after only one season for Arizona State. He has also left Rice after one season besides coaching at Tulsa. This guy has a history of short stints and if I was Arizona State I would keep my list of potential replacements stuck on the telephone. But Graham has been stimulating the economy with moving vans and real estate transactions.

Readers: Anything strike your fancy in the last week or so of the college changes?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Strange Geography

The Big East Conference announced this week that it is expanding. I’m fine with the league wanting to try to survive in this weird conference realignment business.

For my international readers, the Big East is largely an East Coast conference centered in highly populated areas. The league is best known for its basketball members such as UCONN, Syracuse and Georgetown.

What the conference isn’t known until now is its far reaching national scope. Believe it or not, San Diego State is one of the new members. San Diego State is about as far west in the United States as you can travel. It’s on the West Coast. My geography tells me the West Coast is long way from the East Coast. Folks, you must jump three time zones to get from Point A to Point B.

I find it hard to understand how San Diego State thinks this will benefit its school. Think about the travel costs. Think about the travel time. Think about the additional class time the student athletes will miss.

San Diego State isn’t going to the Big East of old. It’s not a glamour league anymore. It’s been stripped and it’s like I said earlier in survival mode. But the Mountain West (where San Diego State’s membership resides) is shaky too and I guess the West Coast folks believe regardless of the distance, the Big East provides more stability.

I just hope San Diego State has a monster map because it will need one.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This is Shameful

Shame on UCLA. Shame on the NCAA. Shame on the Hunger Bowl.

The UCLA Bruins are going to a bowl game with a record of 6-7. This is not a misprint. The Bruins were rewarded with a trip for a losing record.

I know it seems like here are 100 bowls these days. Actually, I think there are only 30-some. But the real question is has college football sunk this low inviting losers to the party? I was upset a few years ago when teams with 6-6 marks began receiving bowl invitations. Like many things in life, I eventually became use to it, but inviting teams with losing records won’t grow on me.

Folks this isn’t grade school or junior high. We don’t give college football team’s participation medals. Teams need to earn bowl games. Teams that don’t have .500 records or better need to stay home and try again next year.

UCLA applied for a waiver from the NCAA because of its record. The NCAA granted the request. UCLA should have never requested the waiver and the NCAA should not have granted it. End of discussion and end of story.

Come to think about however this situation does have one plus. It’s just one less bowl game I will be tempted to watch.

I hear my sock drawer calling me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

No Thanks BCS

The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) is flawed. The BCS is flawed. How else can you explain LSU-Alabama for the national championship?

This game should never happen. Maybe the outcries will force a system change. Please, please no more conference members playing each other in the national championship game. Bowls try to escape matching up teams that have played in the regular season, why not use the same philosophy in the title game?

LSU and Alabama played a boring first game—all field goals. Why do you expect anything different in the sequel? Is anybody really going to watch this game other than the LSU and Alabama fans?

You should also feel sorry for LSU. Why should a team have to defeat an opponent twice in one season for the title?

The polls and computers say Alabama is the second best team. Well, the Tide isn’t even technically the best team in the SEC. That honor belongs to Georgia that lost to LSU in the SEC championship game.

College football is an entertainment business. I cannot imagine even advertisers embracing this national championship game.

Please, please and please, change the system otherwise will have more teams like Oklahoma State receive a lump of coal in its Christmas socking.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Congratulations Mike Leach

It was only a matter of time before Mike Leach would return to the college coaching ranks. And I say congratulations.

Leach was named head football coach at Washington State this week. He had been away from the coach sidelines for a couple years after getting fired at Texas Tech. He led the Red Raiders to a bowl game every season he was there (I believe 10), but fell out of favor with the administration over an incident with the son of ESPN commentator Craig James. Leach was accused of ordering James’ son locked up in equipment shed.

But I ‘m glad Leach can leave that behind now and concentrate on coaching football. Hopefully, the guy will put Washington State on the football map.

Leach is a sportswriter’s dream. He is a quote machine. He’s smart. He’s entertaining. He coaches entertaining offensive football. It’s tough to not enjoy covering Leach’s teams.

The coach will fit in nicely with the pass-happy Pac-12 teams. He loves to spread the field and put up wild offense numbers Leach loves those 55-47 games. Isn’t the objective of football scoring the most points?

I believe Leach will win at Washington State. He might even throw in a quote of two from Winston Churchill for good measure.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baylor's Perry Jones Returns

Last season, Baylor big man Perry Jones III was one of the best high school basketball players to come out of the state of Texas. He became Baylor’s most celebrated recruit.

Jones, known as PJ3 in Texas, entered the season with high expectations. Some projected him as the No. 1 overall pick in the National Basketball Association’s draft if Jones left school after his freshman season.

Well, Jones didn’t dominate the college basketball world. He had some freshman growing pains. He showed people he was human. PJ3 couldn’t control the middle of the lane every game, but the freshman did scored 13.9 points per contest.

Jones’ season was also controversial. The NCAA slapped a six-game suspension on him before the Oklahoma Big 12 Conference tournament game for benefits received prior to his Baylor enrollment. Baylor lost that game and was not invited to a postseason tournament.

Many questioned whether Jones would fulfill the rest of his suspension and instead jump to the NBA. Baylor fans were happy when Jones announced he would return for his sophomore season and fulfill the remaining five-game suspension.

By all accounts, Jones is a qualify person. He showed some real maturity when he took his medicine and didn’t bolt to the NBA.

PJ3 opened his season against Prairie View A&M Tuesday night and displayed why he is such a special talents. Granted Prairie View isn’t exactly the LA Lakers, but the sophomore did torch the visitors for 27 points on 10-14 field goals and 7-9 free throws.

You think the guy has a little more incentive this season sitting out the first five games? I sense he is going to really take it out on opponents and is posed for a banner season.

Others predict a stellar season too. For example, the Big 12 named Jones as its Preseason Player of the Year.

With all that Jones has encountered in his one plus years in college, it’s not difficult cheering for this rising star.