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Category:NCAAF
Posted on: July 31, 2008 6:29 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2008 6:30 pm
 

Pat White speaks but does clarify nor apologize

More than two days after West Virginia quarterback Pat white blasted the WVU baseball coach, the school issued this statement for White on Thursday afternoon:

 "Thinking back on my recent comments at Big East media day, I believe that I may have overstated my feelings on college baseball and the WVU baseball program. I have not played collegiate baseball in the past because I have concentrated on football and building on our success with my football family. I am sorry my comments have caused so many distractions. I am looking forward to putting this behind me and getting on the practice field with my teammates on Saturday."  

That's not exactly an apology. White is sorry his comments have caused so many distractions, but he hasn't backed off the fact that he thinks baseball coach Greg Van Zant is a racist. To me, Van Zant is still hanging out there. How is the guy going to recruit? White said he was troubled by the lack of African-Americans on the baseball team. (There are none) But the fact is there were none on at least six Big East baseball teams this past season.

 

It is a reflection of a larger problem. The NCAA participation rate for African-Americans is six percent, basically what it has been since the association started keeping such stats in 2000.


I did get these comments from Rutgers' Fred Hill Sr., the dean of Big East baseball coaches:

 

"My relationship with Greg has always been first class. He's always been a gentleman and acted first class to us. I wouldn't comment on that ... I wouldn't comment on Greg's feelings.

"The inner city kids seem to gravite toward football and basketball. We have some excellent African-American men on our team. I can't speak for anybody else. We're located in a metro area so we may have more access to some (players)."

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 30, 2008 11:03 am
Edited on: July 30, 2008 11:58 am
 

Pat White drops a bomb instead of throwing one

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Pat White seemed a bit surly on Tuesday but sometimes that's Pat White.

West Virginia's quarterback can be moody at times. That's OK, it's a rough world. The question seems to be, what  does he have to be moody about? White has thrived in Rich Rodriguez' offense to the point that he is 784 yards away from being the all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks. He is a Heisman candidate, the heart and soul of the Mountaineers.

New coach Bill Stewart spent part of Tuesday's Big East media day talking White up as an NFL prospect. Stewart wanted his quarterback to play baseball this spring just to see his athleticism in a different sport. Stewart said White told him he couldn't hit the curve ball. White then told reporters a different reason.

"In my knowledge of West Virginia baseball, there's not been many players of my race on his team," White was quoted as saying of baseball coach Greg Van Zant. "He's not too high on it."


I spoke to White and some of his teammates during the media day. I wasn't there when White spoke those words. The closest he came was when I asked him about playing baseball White said, "I couldn't play for West Virginia." Later, though, another reporter did mention the incendiary comments to me. How do you treat something like that when you haven't heard it yourself? It's like handling hot coals. Everyone can be burned.

The Charleston Daily Mail had a lenghtly piece on White's comments on Wednesday.


This we know: Van Zant has been at West Virginia 14 years and won 413 games. Twenty-nine of his players have been drafted and he has coached five All-Americans. Last season's 34-man roster did not include any African-Americans. White might know more -- Van Zant isn't speaking -- but baseball in general has a problem lately drawing African-Americans to the sport. I've been to the last 17 College World Series. I can't remember a time when there were less diverse rosters than this year. The number of African-Americans in Major League Baseball is down significantly.


So if West Virginia's baseball roster doesn't have any African-Americans, it could be a sign of the times. Maybe there is more to it. One thing is sure: Pat White has smeared Van Zant.  West Virginia baseball will never be the same. Maybe it shouldn't be but now the world will be clamoring for some sort of clarification/reinforcement/denial -- whatever -- from White.


You don't drop a racial bomb and then head out to practice like nothing happened.  I'm not saying White is wrong. I'm saying I don't know. I found myself in the uncomfortable situation of leaving a message for Van Zant in his office seeking comment.

"Every player I've talked to doesn't like him," White went on to say about Van Zant. "He's not a well-liked coach, but I guess he has tenure so they never got rid of him. They're not successful at all."

Every coach has his detractors -- from Krzyzewski to Knight. It's no surprise then that there is a site, gvz-sucks.com, that is dedicated to ripping Greg Van Zant as a coach. The coach is criticized for everything from batting his catcher leadoff to bunting with a five-run lead in the eighth inning.


I'm a bit uncomfortable even noting that since, like a lot of the blogosphere, it is posted anonymously. But so what, it's a free country? The real story is White basically calling Van Zant a racist. That means that, for now, it's no longer about chasing a Heisman or a national championship at West Virginia. The next words out of Pat White's mouth better include some sort of reference to the baseball coach. 

Understandly, AD Ed Pastilong is in scramble mode. He issued a statement Tuesday reinforcing the school's commitment to diversity.


"We're trying to do damage control," one staffer said.


It's Wednesday morning and this thing hasn't hit the four-letter yet but when it does it might push Brett Favre off the 24-hour loop. That would be the good thing but let's not trivialize this. The West Virginia athletic department and Van Zant's rep are suspended in mid-air until Pat White speaks again.

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 29, 2008 8:24 am
 

Five things you should know about the Big East...

 

1. Can things get any better? Left for dead after the ACC expansion, the Big East has more than pulled its weight. 
It is 8-2 the past two seasons in bowls. It had four teams ranked in the AP 10 at various times in 2007. West Virginia is a national championship contender. The middle of the league is a strong as any league, except the SEC -- Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida and Connecticut. Commissioner Mike Tranghese deserves a lifetime achievement award in his final season.

2. Bill Stewart, come on down: The West Virginia assistant's surprising battlefield promotion after the Fiesta Bowl win was one of the more surprising developments of 2007. Now the former Rich Rodriguez assistant must produce. The Mountaineers are loaded this season with Rich Rod's leftovers. But Stewart has shown an ability to recruit too. West Virginia has 13 commitments and is actually slowing down recruiting in order to balance out the class. Too many skill players want to follow in the footsteps of Pat White and Steve Slaton. Stewart needs more linemen. His first recruiting class (2009) could provide the foundation for years to come.

3. The hottest of seats is at Syracuse: Along with Washington's Tyrone Willingham, Greg Robinson is considered one of the first coaches to be fired. He has won seven games in three seasons, never more than four in any year. There has been little improvement in a program that used to be a regular resident of the top 25. The only weak sister in the Big East has to play at Northwestern, West Virginia, South Florida, Rutgers and Notre Dame as well as a home game against Penn State. Where should we forward your mail, Greg?

4. South Florida is not going South: That wasn't a fluke last season when the Bulls rose to No. 2 in the country. D coordinator Wally Burnham has built a crushing unit led by returning All-American George Selvie. Quarterback Matt Grothe doesn't fit in any category, he just wins. Don't be surprised if South Florida is undefeated going to West Virginia on Dec. 6.

5. Pittsburgh is headed ... You tell me: Up? Down? The upset of West Virginia provided momentum and Dave Wannstedt has recruited well but the world is waiting to see the Panthers take the next step. A second-place Big East finish is doable, especially with under-the-radar Heisman candidate LeSean McCoy at tailback.

 

Posted on: July 28, 2008 10:59 am
Edited on: July 28, 2008 11:00 am
 

Five things you need to know about the Big Ten...

 

1. Ohio State is really, really good: The rest of the league, not so much. In building up to this point, the Buckeyes have played in the last two BCS title games. This is the team that was supposed to win it all. As long as the SEC doesn't show (Ohio State is 0-9 vs. the conference in bowl games) the Bucks should win the national championship.

Meanwhile, the rest of the league has slipped in recent years. While Ohio State is chasing its fourth consecutive conference title (third outright), no team has stepped up to challenge it. It certainly isn't Michigan (lost six of the seven to Ohio State). Iowa and Purdue have declined. Northwestern is Northwestern. The Big Ten was 2-5 in bowls last season. Only 28 players were drafted, fifth-best among I-A conferences.

2. Illinois is the IT team: It's not all about trashing the rest of the league. The Illini fired a shot across Ohio State's bow by winning in Columbus then advancing to the Rose Bowl. Ron Zook wants his previously scatter-armed quarterback Juice Williams to complete 70 percent of his passes. (Williams says he can do it). The defense should be the strength even with the loss of linebacker J Leman. If Illinois gets past Missouri in the opener this could be a special year.

3. However, Wisconsin will finish second: Bret Bielema has won 12 and nine games in his two seasons in Madison. He is loaded again this season and gets Ohio State at home. The only question is at quarterback which never seems to matter at Wisconsin. Going back to 2004, the Badgers are 25-1 at Camp Randall. Look for another January bowl.

Wisconsin is one of only three teams to play in that month each of the last four seasons. The others are USC and West Virginia.

4. JoePa doesn't know: He spelled it out at Big Ten media days when asked (again) how long he's going go. "I-D-O-N-T-K-N-O-W". The Nittany Lion In Winter is working without a contract this season. That's going to make it easier for president Graham Spanier to make a change after the season. The next question (and battle) is whether the replacement comes from inside or outside the staff.

5. Rich Rod takes off: With no proven quarterback, tailback or receiver Rich Rodriguez brings his zone read spread option to Ann Arbor. Piece of cake, right? Well, the last "outsider" at Michigan (Bo Schembechler) seemed to do OK.

Rodriguez has been well received and should finish 8-4 or 7-5 in his first season. Watch out, though, in Years 2 or  3.

  

 

Posted on: July 23, 2008 3:33 pm
 

Five things you need to know about the SEC

Five things you need to know about the SEC...

1. The East is a toss-up between Georgia and Florida: It's always a problem when the two best SEC teams are from the same division. The conference title and national championship could come down to the Nov. 1 Cocktail Party in Jacksonville.

2. So why is Georgia No. 1? A seven-game winning streak helps. So does having the quarterback that the NFL might consider the best in next year's draft, Matthew Stafford. Throw in tailback Knowshon Moreno and a stout defense and Bulldogs are having an easy time getting over the death of UGA VI.

3. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Tim Tebow. Really. The kid was the first sophomore to win a Heisman. He helped perform circumcision during a missionary trip to the Phillipines. During a trip to Europe some guy who couldn't speak English recognized him. The kid has never so much as sneaked a cigarette in high school. Believe me, someone asked him at the media days.

"There are a lot of leaders out there," Tebow said. "Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of good ones."

4. Fail and you die. There's pressure and then there's SEC pressure. Change is a constant. There are two new head coaches (Ole Miss, Arkansas), but almost half of the league's 24 coordinators (11) have been replaced.

5. The national champion formerly known as LSU is alive and well, kind of.: The Tigers figure to drop a notch or two after being the lucky recipients of a national championship berth despite a two-loss regular season. Quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is gone (thank goodness). Consider it addition by subtraction. There's no way LSU can defend the West, much less the national championship, while breaking in either redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee or Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch.

But the Tigers will make another run at it in '09.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 23, 2008 3:06 pm
 

Now Mike Leach has gone and done it

Not only did the Texas Tech coach keep two of the Big 12's best players (Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree) home for the preseason media days, he insulted an airport. Leach invited reporters to interview his players in Lubbock but, please, connect through Love Field, not Dallas-Fort Worth.

That drew this response from DFW's public affairs guy:

 


Coach Mike Leach
Head Football Coach
Texas Tech University
Box 43021
Lubbock, Texas 79409

Dear Coach Leach,

All of us at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport were disappointed to see your comment about our great Airport in the
 Dallas Morning News today:

"Anybody who wants to talk to Graham or Michael Crabtree ... you can do it in their natural habitat in Lubbock, Texas," Leach said. "I recommend Love Field because D/FW [Airport] can be a confusing mess. Love Field, about every hour, goes to Lubbock, Texas, where we have some great steak places. And we'd love to see you."

Our Airport wins global awards for outstanding customer service, and most importantly, we have Airport Ambassadors and other friendly staffers who will be glad to assist you if you need help or get lost. Almost 60 million passengers travel through our Airport every year and the vast majority have no problems getting to the 135 domestic destinations and 38 international cities from DFW!

Your comments hit home because we're very proud of DFW -- and most of us are big time college football fans!

So, on behalf of Jeff Fegan, our CEO, we'd like to personally invite you and your family for a guided Airport tour and great Texas steak at DFW.

American Airlines has agreed to provide complimentary flights from Lubbock to DFW for you and your family. Mr. Fegan and our executive team will greet you at your gate, along with DFW employees who are proud Red Raiders - and season ticket holders! We'll give you a quick tour of the terminals, take you for a ride on our Skylink train, and have a great steak at our International Terminal D (margaritas too).

While I know the season is upon us, we would enjoy making this a fun event for you and your family. In fact, it might turn into an Airport tailgate!

You should also know DFW is a strong supporter of the Cotton Bowl and the Armed Forces Bowl, and look forward to working with the Dallas Cowboys and the Super Bowl in 2011. And of course, the Dr. Pepper Big 12 football championship is scheduled to be played in the new Cowboys Stadium in 2009 and 2010, and many Big 12 fans and football aficionados will be flying into DFW since our Airport is just up the road from this fantastic new venue.

Look forward to hearing from you soon. And here’s to a great Big 12 season!

Best Regards,

Ken Capps, APR
Vice President, Public Affairs
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport





Category: NCAAF
Tags: Texas Tech
 
Posted on: July 22, 2008 10:20 pm
 

Five things you should know about the Big 12

1. Move over Pac-10: At least for now the Big 12 has the best set of quarterbacks alive. Ten of the conference's 12 starters return. Start with Heisman finalist Chase Daniel at Missouri. Both Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech are Heisman candidates. Bradford was the NCAA pass efficiency leader as a redshirt freshman. Kansas' Todd Reesing led the Jayhawks to the best record among BCS conference schools.

It says something when Texas' Colt McCoy might be the fifth-best quarterback in the league.


2. First-year blues for the Blackshirts in the red jerseys: Don't assume that Bo Pelini is going to turn it around right away at Nebraska. Sure, he is this moment's Next Hot Model but there are significant issues in Lincoln.

He inherits only 11 returning starters, tied for the second fewest in the Big 12 (with Texas). The defense can't be rebuilt in a day, or even four months. Pelini is a defensive wizard but he will need time and players.

For all his talents, Pelini is still a first-time head coach (not counting his one-game interim coach win in the Alamo Bowl five years ago for Nebraska). The other 11 Big 12 coaches were a combined 57-75-1 in their first year as a head coach.

3. The Heisman Thing: There are at least five legitimate Heisman candidates in the league this season. That's probably a record for this young league. As I've always said, in late July I'm a candidate. But watch these guys closer:


--Daniel. A 2007 finalist could be the favorite to win if Tim Tebow falters and Missouri wins 12 games again.

--Missouri's Jeremy Maclin. Set an NCAA freshman record for all-purpose yards last season. Should become more of a go-to receiver this season.

--Bradford. Playing behind a massive offensive line.

--Harrell. If Tech plays 14 games (regular season + conference championship game + bowl) Harrell would need to average only 456 yards per game to become the game's all-time leading passer.

--Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree. If that happens then Crabtree will another monster year like 2007 when he caught almost 2,000 yards worth of passes.

4. North Rising: There is a definite shift in power. Four years ago the North Division was 3-15 against the South. Two years ago the North won three non-conference games against BCS-conference schools. Last year both Missouri and Kansas finished in the top 10. Nebraska and Colorado are on the way up. 

5. Showdown at Arrowhead: Get a hotel room in Kansas City for late November and early December. The Big 12 race comes down to Cowtown.  Missouri and Kansas play in Kansas City on Nov. 29. The Big 12 championship is at Arrowhead a week later.  If either the Tigers or the Jayhawks win the North, they would have a decided advantage playing against the South champion in what would amount to a home game at 80,000-seat Arrowhead.

Posted on: July 21, 2008 7:05 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2008 11:18 pm
 

The Big 12's best, minus two


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Scratch two Heisman candidates?

This is nothing personal against Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. Both are part of a bumper crop of Big 12 award candidates this season. But their trophy chances had to dim when they didn't show up Monday for the beginning of the conference's preseason media days.

It wasn't necessarily their choice.

Coach Mike Leach decided that the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner (Crabtree) and a guy who could become the leading passer of all time (Harrell) weren't worthy to be interviewed by us media types during a pre-arranged media session on football media day. Leach threw out something about football being the ultimate team game when I asked him why on Monday.

I'm not saying Harrell and Crabtree are out of the Heisman race before it begins. I'll leave that to the other Heisman voters whose companies spent money and resources for them to get here. Let's just say stiffing the Big 12 (and national) media doesn't help.

Leach is quirky that way. He doesn't do things conventionally all the time. Sometimes that's charming. Sometimes it's downright unprofessional. A person with knowledge told me that the Big 12 asked to Leach to reconsider bringing his two stars, but that he refused.

To reporters Monday, Leach flippantly said that any of us are welcome to interview his stars "in their natural habitat" in Lubbock. That's great except there is a reason these media days exist, so we don't have to go to each individual school. Especially when Lubbock is so far from anywhere it can see the end of the earth in any given direction.

"A lot of times there are so many guys who play football, there is a temptation to isolate the attention around a couple of guys," Leach said. "Our team is far more than a couple of individuals."

Oh yeah? That would make a shred of sense if it weren't so hypocritical. In Texas Tech's own media guide Crabtree has a page to himself. Harrell has two. Every other player in the guide except one (running back Shannon Woods) gets half a page. So much for not isolating the attention around a couple of individuals.

If this was a high school team before a state championship, I'd kind of understand it. This being a major university (according to some) with major aspirations taking in major public dollars, it is short-sighted. Tech SID Chris Cook told me an interesting story about Crabtree working out in Dallas with the likes of Deion Sanders and Pacman Jones. Sure wish I could have fleshed that one out. It sounded neat.  

Leach wants to send the message of teamwork. Here's another message Leach is sending: Attention, recruits. Don't come to Texas Tech. We won't promote you. You'll have a tough time winning national awards, never mind competing in a Big 12 South Division Tech has never won.

This is not just me on a rant. Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel woke at 4:30 Monday morning to fly from Los Angeles to be here for interviews. Daniel is currently an instructor at the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Southern California. After a couple of hours of answering questions, Daniel was right back on a plane back to California.

He seemed to be slightly upset that the Tech guys weren't here after the effort he had made.

"You've got to bring your best players here," he told me. "It's the best thing to do. Coach Leach is a smart guy. He's been in this business a lot longer than I've been alive. He can do what he wants. (But) you look at it: You have a guy like Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, both are legitimate Heisman candidates. You've got to get them both out in the limelight."

The trend continues here. Oklahoma redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford won't be making an appearance either on Wednesday.The nation's pass efficiency leader last year is old enough to go to war, own a house and vote but apparently not mature enough to handle a few media questions.

It's not like we're going to grill him. After the season he had, we want to say good things. Start with the fact Bradford is an inspiration on the field and to the Native American culture he represents.

Maybe there are extenuating circumstances. I doubt it. I'm tired of it, anyway. These kids aren't the property of the football program. They are students with lives to lead who might want to see a different part of the world than their own. In essence, they are promoting the school, before themselves, at these media days.

In that case, what the hell is wrong with being an individual?

 

 

Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com