Sunday, August 16, 2015

Embracing Michigan's All-White Road Uniforms

In this era of slick packaging and glitz and shine trumping tradition, the decision this week by Michigan--supposedly at the behest of coach Jim Harbaugh--to wear white tops and pants on the road this season is refreshing. The word is that the new coach wanted to pay homage to the 1974 club, along with 1975 the last to sport these uniforms, and anything that pays homage to the college football that I first remember, is alright by me. The 1974 edition of the Wolverines had another magnificent season under head coach Bo Schembechler in finishing 10-1. Why only 11 games you say? Well in losing the final game of the season 12-10 to Ohio State, with Michigan missing a field goal at game's end, the Wolverines could not go bowling as Big Ten rules at the time designated conference-winning Ohio State, via tiebreak, as Rose Bowl representative and the other nine schools as unable to go to any post-season game. That changed right after this season due to the misfortune of a Michigan program that went 30-2-1 over the 1972-74 seasons but never tasted bowl play thanks to the conference's desire to make the Rose Bowl the be-all and end-all and to a controversial vote of conference ADs after the 1973 season. For Michigan seniors in 1974, the heartbreak must have been tremendous. In 1971 they would have been ineligible to play as freshmen when the Wolverines won the conference and went to the Rose Bowl. 1971 was the final season that freshmen were ineligible. Then they played dominant ball for three straight seasons only to be thwarted time and time again from getting to the Rose Bowl, all while playing the final three seasons that Big Ten teams were banned from playing in any bowl other the the Rose Bowl. This is a rare classy move by Harbaugh, who was a young football player in Ann Arbor in the mid 70s when his dad was a coach on Schembechler's staff. This squad is not as good as the 1974 team but they will play hard.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mess at UAB

College football has enough visible problems to make it tough for even us big fans. Lately though the ugly underbelly of the sport keeps coming up to the surface in a way that makes one truly shake his head. With the UAB football situation there are some clear-cut snakes here that are making decisions about that program that are not in the best interest of UAB football. And make no mistake about it. We are not talking incompetence. While there is plenty of that in college football, this case is one featuring very crafty people maliciously taking down this program. They were caught in their lies and now the program is returning, but a lot of damage has been done and no one has lost his cushy job over the situation. While President Watts of UAB is rightfully taking the brunt of the heat over this, his manipulator in the situation, Paul Bryant Jr., is not getting enough heat. And while it is sad that he is the Bear's son, we must separate that from our view of him. Without that he really looks bad. Pathetic is probably a better word. The other problem with this whole story has been the amount of coverage it has received in relation to the amount of coverage the football team has generated over the decades. No one nationally cared about Blazers football until this story became so juicy and soon nobody will care again. That's nationally--myself included--but there are a lot of peple who care about the program and they fortunately got their message out. Hopefully the media will stop being so star driven and start covering the entire sport. Like a corrupt board suddenly acting in the best interest of what they are supposed to oversee, that is probably wishful thinking.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Another Funny NFL Draft

Well another NFL draft has come and gone and yet again ignorance ruled the day. I always find it humorous that the so-called experts spend so much time discussing players--and the potential draft position debate for players begins well before players end their college playing days--but then are almost always completely wrong come draft day. But the best thing is that they are allowed to then rip teams for viewing players differently then they, the experts, do. That is a great job. Be wrong nine out of ten times and then be allowed to complain that the real experts did not take your advice. I also love it when they have no idea how the player in question and team in question would actually fit in real life. They seem to have finally figured out the difference between a 3-4 defense and a 4-3 but they still mock players that do not fit schematically to teams whether it be the type of blocker and offensive lineman is or the way a DB has been taught to play. And despite all of the knowledge we have now on these players--or perhaps because of that overkill--the draft still produces chuckles when these guys do not know anything about the player when he is drafted. As a New York Giant fan this became apparent when the Giants drafted DB Mykkele Thompson from Texas in the fifth round. As soon as he was drafted he was treated as if he was a backup player from my alma mater Fordham, and not a two-year starting player for the Longhorns. They had no idea who he was and, pathetically, some experts even took to twitter to admit to the world that they did not know the kid. Huh? Thompson was deemed a player unworthy of being selected at a certain time in the process that failed to take in two major bits of information. One is that he was finally fitted with corrective lens midway through this past season, after which his play improved to the point that post-lens he was one of Texas's leading tacklers. He then, after not being invited to the combine because, again, some folks deemed him not worthy of being drafted, he displays excellent measurable at his pro day. In baseball, scouts would have been all over him because they have a reason, his vision, for improved play and they have his 40 time etc to fall back on. But in football he gets lost in the shuffle. But that gets me back to the experts. Okay this kid is off your radar for some reason. But you were watching tape of his teammates, like DT Malcolm Brown and LB Jordan Hicks, who were drafted high. And you were watching tape of Texas's secondary when they tangled with teams like West Virginia and Kansas State, who had sought after receivers. Right? Well Thompson had seven tackles versus the Mountaineers when the entire secondary had to tangle with Kevin White, who did catch 16 balls but did not get much after the catch in totaling "only" 132 yards. And Thompson had 11 tackles against KSU. I could go on and on. The point being is that if you are truly an expert then you should know the name of a two-year starter at Texas who had 11 tackles against KSU. Right?

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.