Friday, February 6, 2015

SEC North?

When Urban Meyer began his fantastically success current run at Ohio State he got in trouble with his fellow conference coaches for poaching recruits, something that the Big Ten always frowned upon. But Meyer was doing something he had always done, and is accepted throughout the nation, and the message was clear: the Buckeyes were going to do whatever it took to win and the rest of the conference had better do the same if it wanted to compete. Meyer has gone on to win 38 of 41 games with the Buckeyes with only one conference loss so the lesson is clear. Do whatever it takes to win and you will be lauded when you do win. And so now we sit in February and on signing day OSU pulled a receiver from Arkansas whose high school coach was fired for supposedly giving money to said receiver's family. There are rumors swirling that there is even more to the story but a lot of that could be due to hurt feelings on the part of the locals. Even so this is a huge red flag. Meanwhile the Buckeyes are over the limit when it comes to the number of scholarship players on the current roster and have been before--they have had SEC-like roster movement over the past few years--there is no player currently pointing fingers and accusing the program of tossing him aside. That said, it is dangerous to play the you-need-to-have-more-than-85-in-February game to overcome potential defections and injuries as there will be a year when you wake up August 1st with extra players who will have to be "cut". It is an awful product of over-signing and has been something that has dampened the SEC's recent success. Like with the Hill situation there does not seem to be anything clearly wrong being done by Meyer and his staff but there is some smoke. Winning can only cover up so much of this crap. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, meanwhile, just hired the mother of Stanford safety Wayne Lyons as director of player development. The offer has to be good enough to get the woman, a former teacher, to move from Florida to Ann Arbor. Her son, who was recruited by Harbaugh but never played for him, has wavered on what he plans to do next year. He has graduated and can transfer. This again may be much ado about nothing, but the impression be given is that Harbaugh is doing what he can tokeep up with Meyer. It just does not smell right.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Another Great Hall of Fame Class Announced

The National Football foundation announced another outstanding class of football players and coaches as the newest members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Fifteen former star players and two heralded coaches have been added to the Hall and once again the voters have done a fine job. I also want to give credit With the announcement moved to January this year--and for the time being--to lock into the national championship game and its media coverage, the group certainly had a lot of local flavor. With the game being played in Irving, Texas, the announcement was held there too and two players who played for state universities, Zach Thomas of Texas Tech and Ricky Williams of Texas, made it as too Brian Bosworth who played in some memorable Oklahoma-Texas games in the nearby Cotton Bowl and Arizona State linebacker Bob Breunig, who played professionally for the Cowboys. The rest of the country was represented well too as Trev Alberts of Nebraska is finally in, along with Ronnie Brewer of Millsap, Ruben Brown of Pitt, Wes Chandler of Florida, Tom Gatewood of Notre Dame, Dick Jauron of Yale, Clint Jones of MSU, Lincoln Kennedy of Washington, Rob Lytle of Michigan, Michael Payton of Marshall and Art Still of Kentucky. The coaches selected were Bill Snyder, who is the fourth coach to named while still being active, and Jim Tressel of OSU. I will break down each new member individually over the next few days. But once again the Hall is richer for the inclusion of these players and coaches.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Not A Good Night For College Football

I do not know where to start there was so much awful football playing and coaching last night. It was difficult watching the games it got so bad and the tape of the 4th quarter of the Ohio State win should be burned. We were forced fed four final teams to battle for a true champion and three of them played like crap. Even the fourth did a number of wrong things but were fortunate to be playing the train wreck of a team called Florida State. I love college football and hate that this bs over-hyped crap was dumped on us fans. The old bowl system was much better, at least based on one night.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Redemption Day for Notre Dame Football

There is plenty of talk about how college football builds character and the evidence was on display at yesterday's Music City Bowl. Notre Dame won as embattled QB Everett Golson made key pass completions to set up the winning FG by equally struggling kicker Kyle Brindza. The ability of these two young men to make use of this second chance shows just how powerful college sports can be. And players were not the only ones taking advantage of second chances. Coach Brian Kelly admitted after the game that he did his job better yesterday than he did in November. And he was right. And the entire program needed this win badly to show that it can compete with the powers of the SEC West. The last time they played LSU was disastrous as was the last time they played the SEC. This win, even in a secondary bowl, will help eliminate some doubts should the Irish be in competition for a final four spot. They certainly proved that the talent level is high (that they were as talented as they are seemed to surprise the Tigers who must watch ESPN for scouting reports). As for LSU this game, as with any game the SEC plays out of conference, does not really matter. Sure some fans are beating up Les Miles but LSU is LSU. They can pull an insane amount of talent and have a set path to the national playoffs by being a conference power. They need to get the offense more balance and improve the entire run defense. As for me, I had fun at the game even though I bruised my hand with an excited thrust into the air that clipped a low-hanging ceiling. Nashville is a great town and I enjoyed showing it and big-time football to my nine-year-old, who is used to--and has fun at--games played in the Bronx or West Point. Next up for her is a game at LSU or ND.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Music City Bowl

Here in Nashville for an intriguing match-up--well, it would be if the game was played next September. While both teams are talented, especially with young up-and-coming players, they have had mixed results this year. Notre Dame is especially reeling after its late-season collapse and will have to prove from the opening kickoff that they can hang with an SEC power. They will get some of their key performers back from injury, which helps. LSU sometimes plays down to the level of their opponent, especially when unmotivated, as we saw last season when they struggled to put away an expected-to-be-outclassed Iowa squad in the Outback Bowl. Playing Notre Dame is usually motivation enough. This game could get out of hand early, especially with new Irish QB Malik Zaire's inexperience, but should the Irish play like they did versus Florida State then we have a chance to see two potential top ten teams and playoff contenders for next year in an evenly matched struggle. One can hope.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh to Michigan has been a rumor for awhile. Being that it makes a ton of sense it should happen and may even be announced by tomorrow. As a fan of college football I am very happy to have a renowned football coach leave the NFL to return to the college ranks even though it comes with a ridiculous amount of money. Michigan desperately needs this to happen as they are clearly behind their two biggest rivals, OSU and MSU, in the current pecking order. As I have said before, Michigan thinks it is more important than it really is as a football program. That said, this move should elevate them back to challenging for conference titles and possibly inclusion in the national title race. The main potential problem is Harbaugh's reputation as a, well, jerk. That no longer flies in college football as it may have once--and Stanford is not a good example as they were turned around from 1-11 and were willing to put up with their coach. The type of recruit Michigan wants to get will not tolerate too much in your face coaching and Harbaugh has to balance his personality the way that Saban and Meyer do. It had better work for Michigan. They have a lot riding on this hire.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Duke Linebacker David Helton Wins Campbell Trophy

Not many people nationally know about the Campbell Trophy--it is not presented at some over-glitzy ESPN-created theme show--but if I was going to win one trophy for college football excellence, this would be the one. The Campbell, awarded for the past 25 years, goes to the college football player who best combines on-field success with academic qualifications and work in the community. With the Heisman Trophy quickly morphing into the best-player-who-gets-national-press-irregardless-of-off-the-field-issues award, the little-known Campbell is now the trophy that best showcases just how good college football can be. Linebacker David Helton, who topped a competitive group of young men, is the latest example of the best of the best I a sport that is proud of its ability to help mold men in the right way all the while the press harps on the bad apples. Which, of course, is why the name David Helton means very little nationally. Despite being a star member of a Duke squad that has now become an annual challenger for not only a bowl bid but a spot in the ACC title game, Helton gets virtually zero press. That is true of the entire Duke team in the era of the only teams worth covering are the ones fighting for national championships. That Helton holds a 3.64 in psychology while leading the ACC is tackles for a team that has won at least 18 games over the past two seasons is not worthy of attention in a celebrity era. His many volunteer efforts are greatly appreciated by the Duke community but he would have garnered more ink for driving drunk or punching a women in a club. He did not do that, of course, and is probably fine being a local hero. Fortunately the National Football Foundation exists to promote the less sexy but more important side of college football, the side that actually covers a majority of players. Helton and the rest of the finalists for the Campbell were honored at a wonderful dinner. Once again the NFF did the right thing but unfortunately not enough people cared or knew about it.