Monday, July 30, 2012

Talking College Championship Football

Phil Steele’s college football magazine is loaded with lists. He starts off on page 3 predicting every major bowl game opponents and the national championship participants.

For the national championship game (drum roll, please), he matches Oklahoma against Florida State.

Some predicted the Sooners to be the national champions last season. But a few key injuries derailed that pursuit and Oklahoma finished a “disappointing” 10-3.

The Sooners are usually a safe pick for the championship, playing their most recent final game in 2008 losing to Florida 24-14. They return eight starters on offense and seven on defense. Oklahoma should contend but must outlast a rugged Big 12 Conference slate where all 10 teams play each other.

Florida State is an interesting pick. The Seminoles were a respectable 9-4 last season and return eight starters on the offense and nine on the defense this year. Florida State advantage is a favorable schedule and membership is the traditionally so-so Atlantic Coast Conference. Two of the three challenging games are at home against Clemson and Florida. The one possible real trap is at Virginia Tech. Coach Jimbo Fisher is trying to carve out his own niche at Florida State, but he has a long road to match former coach Bobby Bowden’s success.

I’m fine with Steele’s Oklahoma pick, but not warm-and-cuddily regarding Florida State. The Seminoles need to win some big games AND avoid the upsets. I don’t see that happening.

Who is your national championship game pick?

Friday, July 27, 2012

College Football Media Days

In case you missed it, we have added another season to the college football calendar—football media days.

We can thank the 24-hour news cycle once again for bringing us this new season.

In the old days, media people as a group would actually go to a college campus and interview coaches and players. For example, if the media was on the Big Ten Conference tour one day they would travel to Wisconsin. The next day, maybe Purdue. The media would go to all 10 teams. That was of course before conference expansion.

Now, the coaches and players are brought to a central location where media people can interview them all in one place. Another change is networks such as the Big Ten and ESPN televise the gatherings.

I don’t know about you, but I have more important things to do than watching Joe Coach talk about the upcoming season. I call this “vanilla” TV. The coach doesn’t reveal any deep secrets or change in strategy. It’s basically a rah-rah speech.

But apparently some people watch these rah-rah speeches or obviously the media days wouldn’t be on TV. I’m more than willing to wait however until training camp or read a football preview magazine to prepare for the upcoming season.

Do you enjoy media days’ coverage? If yes, why?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Penn State Football Players

I am having a difficult time wrapping myself around the sympathy some people are giving the Penn State football players in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Yes, I get the fact that they are innocent bystanders in the fallout. But it isn’t as if the players don’t have options. The NCAA declared them free agents. The players can play football at any other school right away OR stay at Penn State.

If loyalty means something to a particular player, they will stay. Remaining players will continue to receive an education from Penn State. They will play football for pride and not for Big Ten Conference championships or bowl games (over the four-year ban). I see this type of player who came to Penn State first and foremost for the school, not the football program.

But if a player came to Penn State for largely the football tradition, then that player will probably strongly consider a transfer. The football tradition has received a huge black mark and may even be gone. Penn State will no longer be an elite Big Ten team or a major player on the national scene. Can this player type become satisfied without playing for prizes such as conference championships, bowl games and national championships?

Penn State players have important decisions to make. But they still have choices. We must remember that they aren’t the victims. The true victims have already suffered and will continue to suffer.

If you were a Penn State player, what choice would you make?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Penn State Football Takes Major Hit

The NCAA didn’t slam the Penn State football program with the death penalty Monday. It just seems like it.

Penn State will be crippled for the next four years specifically. The long-term ramifications could also become major.

Penn State must pay a $60 million fine. The Lions will also be absent from bowl games for four years. They will lose about 40 scholarships. They must also forfeit all victories from 1998-2011.

Usually, I think that win forfeiture is a non-issue but not this time. Coach Joe Paterno’s all-time victory total suddenly dropped from 409 wins to 298. This means Paterno is no longer the top winning coach in collegiate football.

Some say the current football players or coaches shouldn’t pay for the past sinners of Jerry Sandusky’s conduct and the cover-up. But, it the ‘ole one pays, they all pay scenario. Remember when you were in grade school and one kid got in trouble? Then the teacher determined all kids would miss recess that day. Same thing with Penn State.

The players do actually have an out. They can transfer to another school and play right away.

The NCAA has never punished a school for a non-rules breaking issue. Penn State is the new poster child. The message is clear: don’t ever become involved in a situation like Penn State.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Joe Paterno Statue

The anti-Joe Paterno sentiment continues.

Yesterday, a plane flew over Penn State’s football stadium supporting a banner that read “Take the (Paterno) statue down or we will.”

Strong words for the deceased coach who has gone from hero to goat in just a few months.

This latest outcry was probably the result of last week’s report revelation that Paterno was a major player in the Jerry Sandusky cover-up.

Penn State officials said they will reveal their decision on the statue in seven to 10 days. I doubt if it will take that long. Say goodbye to the statue.

Penn State really doesn’t have much choice. It is facing major backlash for the handling of the Sandusky case and with more dirt thrown at Paterno, the decision is simple.

The Big Ten school failed miserable in this ordeal. Penn State needs to show some real leadership and distance itself from the main ingredients. One strong statement becomes the statue.

The moral of this story is be careful who you bust. They might become busted later.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pity This Team's Fans

University of Indiana football doesn’t exactly strike fear in the eyes of its opponents. The Hoosiers are well known for their futility in winning games and their doormat status in the Big Ten Conference.

The last time Indiana participated in a bowl game was 2007. You guessed it: the Hoosiers lost 49-33 to Oklahoma State.

With mediocrity comes apathy. With apathy sometimes comes change. Change is the byword for the coaching job at Indiana. Kevin Wilson is the current guy in charge. In Wilson’s first year (2011), the Hoosier’s lone victory was over FCS (Football Champion Series) South Carolina State. Eleven times Indiana was a loser.

Wilson came to Indiana from Oklahoma. He wanted to bring some of that top-mindedness to Bloomington. But some of the Indiana players didn’t like that style. Consequently, those players are no longer with the team.

The good news is that Indiana’s chances for more victories in 2012 are pretty good. The bad news does anyone care?

The Hoosiers four non-conference games are winnable. They are home against Indiana State and Ball State and away at UMASS and Navy. The Big Ten slate will be rugged as always. Even in their home games (Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin), it is difficult to find a potential victory.

Wilson desires progress in 2012. Will there be enough progress to interest Indiana fans? That is the real question.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Penn State Scandal Grows

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his team revealed their findings yesterday in the investigation of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case. And it wasn’t as expected, pretty.

The report said Penn State’s top officials including former football coach Joe Paterno played cover-up. The findings were particularly damaging to Paterno’s legacy-- the face of Penn State football for decades. His son, Jay, tried to do some damage control but it’s a late. It’s like an offensive lineman telling himself he better block for quarterback after he sees his teammate lying on the ground after a sack.

The report answered many questions but created more.

If Paterno was still alive (he died earlier this year) would he face a prison sentence? Will Penn State rid itself of the Paterno statue? How about his name on the library?

And what about the football team? Some are crying for the death penalty. Will the NCAA become involved and shut the program down for a while? Will Penn State voluntarily close it down? I, personally, can’t imagine the program shutdown. This is Penn State not SMU. Even in its weakness, there is power.

What I do anticipate happening is prison time for the other three top officials involved. This has the makings of orange jump suits written all over it.

In the end, it’s just really sad that somebody didn’t step up and the do the adult thing and save these innocent, vulnerable kids.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Iowa's Love Affair with Basketball Coach Fran McCaffery

Iowa desperately wants a winner in men’s basketball. That’s really the only logical reason the Hawkeye faithful are in love with Coach Fran McCaffery at this point in his Iowa career.

Iowa announced a contact extension for the coach yesterday. McCaffery received seven years and could earn $1.86 million per season if he takes the Hawkeyes to the NCAA tournament. Regardless of the NCAA outcome, he will receive an overall raise.

Now, if you were out of Iowa and the country and returned to read the above paragraph, you would think McCaffery had turned the program into a sleeping giant. But the answer is really “no.”

Iowa and McCaffery are still selling hope. In McCaffrey’s first season, Iowa finished 11-20. Last year, the Hawkeyes earned a NIT bid and ended the year at 18-17. That’s a two-year total of 29-37. Not exactly sleeping giant material.

As I mentioned in this blog before, I was surprised when Iowa fans celebrated their team’s NIT bid and was buying the hope. That tells you how low the Iowa basketball program has been in recent years. The Hawkeyes haven’t been to the Big Dance (NCAA Tournament) since 2006.

McCaffery may go on to record great results at Iowa. But selling hope will only last so long. It must show up in the victory column where the true standard is measured.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Quarterback Competition

If the Iowa State preseason quarterback situation in 2012 looks similar to the 2011 preseason, it’s because it is.

Back in 2011, Steele Jantz, Jerome Tiller and Jared Barnett were all battling for the starting job. When Tiller became ineligible, it became a two-man race. As the season unfolded, both Jantz and Barnett spent time in the starter’s role. There was never a clear-cut favorite. Jantz developed a foot injury after beginning the season as a starter, and then Barnett took over. His shining moment was the upset victory over No. 2 Oklahoma State. But like Jantz, he struggled with occasions of ineffectiveness and was even pulled during the bowl game.

There is still no clear-cut favorite entering 2012. It’s still a two-man race. One thing that has changed from preseason 2011 is that Tiller now lines up at wide receiver.

Both Jantz and Barnett bring different talents to the Iowa State offense. Jantz is the better passer but can also do it with his legs. Barnett is better with his legs, but a weaker passer. Overall, Jantz seems the more complete quarterback.

But it wouldn’t surprise me if Iowa State takes a two-headed quarterback system in the season. Coach Paul Rhoads might play the guy with the momentum. This also means the guy without the momentum could receive the quick replacement.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th

Happy Independence Day to my United States' readers. It's always great to celebrate a birthday and today it's America's turn.

We are blessed to live in this country. Thank you to all the men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces.

We as citizens also have a responsibility to keep our country free. It seems some of our government officials want to take away more and more of our freedoms. Please remember that when you vote in November.

Enjoy your day and thank you for reading All About College Sports.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

THE College Football Preview Magazine

The college football preview magazines are out in full force as fans get ready for the season in about 6-8 weeks. There seems a variety of options similar to the different colors of the rainbow. I remember the old days when Street and Smith was nearly the only preview magazine produced.

One magazine that has made lots of noise in recent years is Phil Steele’s preview. Although I don’t usually buy a preview magazine, I decided this season I would check Steele’s out.

Steele consistently markets his magazine as the best. On the cover alone, Steele boasts big time. He writes: “The book the expects cannot do without” or “The most accurate preseason magazine the last 14 years” or “Jampacked with information.”

The book is thick with 344 pages and plenty of color photos and graphics. Steele devotes two pages to every Division I football team. He slices and dices each team. He is big on trends including seasonal trends from even 3-4 years ago. Steele’s book also provides plenty of lists. One thing is definitely true: there is lots of information.

But now for the downside. There is so much information stuck into a page that it makes it difficult to read. The print is small and it seems to run together. Your eyes are crying for some good old white space (for a break) and there is none. Because Steele is saving space, he also uses abbreviations in the written text. This is another non-friendly reader problem.

With all that said, I hope to become a team player and acquaint myself well with the book. I plan to use it for my blog.

Have you purchased a college football preview book? Which one do you enjoy? What do you think of Steele’s effort?