Monday, June 6, 2016
Although we still await official confirmation, Ohio State has picked a replica of the school's 1916 jersey, complete with vertical gray stripes, as their alternate for this year. The game in which they will be worn has not been named. Coach John Wilce led that squad to a 7-0 record and Western Conference championship, riding star back Chic Harley. Ohio State football would look very different without the success that team had as Harley a local athlete, became hugely popular. The three time All American led the Buckeyes to the first-ever win over Michigan (they did not play annually back then) and when he left, having lost only his final game, the Buckeyes were so popular that Ohio Stadium was built and dedicated to him. Harley's story is an important one to always remember as soon after he graduated he began dealing with mental illness. Harley, and it is not known definitively today whether his illness was as a result of a sports wound, war injury or genetic, would spend the rest of his 50+ years suffering from the debilitating effects of mental illness. He died in 1974 and some members of the contemporary Buckeyes squad, including Archie Griffin, were pallbearers.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Baylor has fired head coach Art Briles as the investigation by an outside agency has gathered together facts concerning the allegations that several Baylor players not only committed sexual assaults against fellow students but were allowed to continue playing football and remaining on campus while their alleged victims received no help. While I am unsure whether the suddenness of Briles's canning is due to bad publicity or additional revelations, the reality is that the original allegations were deserving of this result. Briles deserved to be fired and while Baylor football fans may well be worried about the program's future the reality is that does not outweigh justice for the victims of assault, especially in light of the role the program played in the situation (recruiting players accused of assault prior to arriving in Waco and not investigating or punishing those players accused of assault on the Baylor campus who then continued to victimize other students. The firing of Briles came as Baylor will begin play in a new, expensive stadium that now has a bit of a taint along with its new paint.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
As Ken Starr knows all too well, when a scandal reaches the courts it becomes too big to cover up. Lawsuits against Baylor University's handling of accusations by students of sexual assaults committed by other students, including members of the football team, are now bringing what were at times whispered accusations to the light of day. Starr, who himself first became nationally famous for his independent counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton that eventually led to Clinton's impeachment, is the first Baylor figure to fall and as the president he was the man in charge. Others should follow as it is clear that many people knew about the charges of rape and did nothing about them. It is especially awful to hear that football coach Art Briles knew about accusations against his players and did not act to remove these guys from the campus--many guys continued to play as if nothing was going on. One former player can only be described as a serial rapist and to allow him to not only continue to play football but to do so on a campus with thousands of potential victims is unconscionable. Briles, who seems to have followed a blueprint of building his team by adding players with character concerns, needs to go soon. With a new $300 million stadium to fill, however, it remains to be seen if that will happen.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Have you seen Jim Harbaugh's schedule of summer camps? Who are the poor people coordinating this craziness? The Wolverines will hold 26 camps throughout the country in June, beginning June 2nd in Atlanta. On June 8th alone they have camps taking place in Mississippi, Ohio and New Jersey (right here in Paramus). The Paramus Catholic location is extra special--and I am not counting my sister being part of their sports hall of fame--as Harbaugh is even scheduled to be the school's commencement speaker at this year's graduation on June 9. Too much? Probably. There are only so many recruits Michigan can get and without doing these camps they would be unhappy with any ranking outside the nation's top ten. So this will marginally improve on that. Meanwhile Harbaugh's competition is busy trying to negate some of that new-found advantage. Ohio State, for example, just agreed to come to Jersey too on the same day the Michigan camp is in Paramus to run their own camp in conjunction with Temple and Rutgers. So now think of our favorite rivalries as 365-day realities. Wait, we did already.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Finally. The embarrassment of having three programs with 5-7 records make bowl games last year finally slapped some sense into the NCAA. Unfortunately they are not proposing to dump a few of the current games which means the image of teams with losing records making post-season appearances remains possible. But at least the hemorrhaging has been addressed. Having 41 bowl games diluted a great product and the number of games needs to be reduced. Now let's move the national semi final games off of New Year's Eve.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Notre Dame starting guard Steve Elmer is moving on with one year of eligibility remaining to pursue a job he could not pass up in Washington DC. This will occur after graduation this May. Elmer is typical of the special kind of student athlete produced today, who, well, has other options beyond the gridiron. He has experienced a great deal on the football field and will now move on with his life. Too much has been focused on the negative side of the sport but there are plenty of Elmers around who do not "need" football to get ahead but enjoy playing and enjoy the benefits that come along while putting in the extra work. He will bring discipline, hard work and a team approach to Washington--attributes greatly needed in these times.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Superstar back James Conner has returned to the Pittsburgh team after a nightmarish fall of 2015. After rushing for 1,765y and a whopping 26 TDs in 2014 (and beating out Jameis Winston for ACC player of the year), Conner entered camp last summer as one of the very best running backs in the country. But a torn MCL in week one knocked Conner out for the season and then in December he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Conner was not afraid of work and rehabbed the knee while battling the lymphoma to the point that Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi announced that not only was his star returning to the team but that he would play in 2016. It is easy rooting for this kid.