Posted on: March 16, 2011 9:12 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 2:32 pm
TUCSON, Ariz. -- There are a lot of Talor Battles who never get this reward. You know the type: Gritty, talented player performing for a mediocre program overshadowed by football.
That was Battle, a senior Penn State guard, for the majority of his four seasons. A nice player, not a great one, but one who had to carry the Nittany Lions many miserable nights. Maybe the best thing that can be said is that he persevered. Battle recently became the third player in NCAA history to get 2,000 points, 600 rebounds and 500 assists in his career. Still, it looked like his career would in depression until a run to the Big Ten tournament championship game was enough to put Penn State into the bracket for the first time since 2001.
"It's definitely been an uphill climb," said the 6-foot, 170-pound guard from Albany, N.Y.
Penn State plays its first NCAA game in a decade here Thursday morning, against Temple. The Nittany Lions are a middling 72-61 during Battle's four years. An NIT championship two seasons ago was followed by an 11-20 stinker in 2009-10. The low point had to be an 0-12 start in the Big Ten.
"That," Battle said, "was a God-awful feeling ... What we did [this season] was jell together and mesh and play together as a team. We have to, we don't have the exceptional talent of a Duke."
Who knew his surname would also become an appropriate verb for his life. His stepfather is Dan Buie, a once-marvelous player who ended up at Division II Washburn in Topeka, Kan. It was there in the late 70s that an eight-year-old Talor would shoot around on the Ichabods' floor at halftime.
His AAU team, Albany City Rocks, featured another more-famous New Yorker, Jimmer Fredette.
"I wasn't shy about shooting it myself," Battle said. "We just kind of rotated, whoever was hot. I've been talking to Jimmer a lot of late. Everybody wants to talk to him now."
Battle? Not so much until recently. The season looked like another wash until Penn State beat Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State to get to the Big Ten title game on Sunday. Even then, the tournament wasn't a certainty with a 19-14 record. You have to feel good about a guy who took 130 career starts to get to this point, becoming the Big Ten's second-leading scorer this season (20.1 points) and the school's all-time scorer.
It's not clear if the NCAA selection committee actually knew, but the scheduled a "rematch" in Penn State's opening round NCAA game. According to Battle, the Lions were pummeled by Temple in a preseason scrimmage.
"The most important thing was they out-toughed us," Battle said.
Not anymore, at least not now. Penn State is back in basketball for this short, little while.
"This," Battle said, "is all new to us."
Posted on: December 13, 2010 1:37 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 6:05 pm
The new Big Ten has 12 teams and will start every season with two Ls.
If this has you confused, it's meant to in the new Large Dozen. The Big Ten made a big deal Monday out of revealing the names of its two six-team divisions. Then it underwhelmed us. The divisions are named Leaders and Legends. Not to be confused with Dungeons and Dragons or Abbott and Costello.
Leaders Division: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Legends Division: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
That's certainly true. With all the great history and tradition available to it, the haughty Big Ten went low brow, corporate, generic. Leaders and Legends? That's the name of the trophy store down the street. What were "Gods" and "Superheroes" already taken? One thing for sure: The league won't be getting any cease and desist letters from famous people unless it's this guy. Sign ups are now being taken for summer school classes just to memorize the members of each division.
"Maybe if people don't embrace it in the first hour," Delany said, "they will in the first 24 or 36."
"You're the first one who has mentioned it," Delany said.
Apparently the commish wasn't on Twitter Monday which blew up with general mockery and disgust. A firm no doubt got six figures to "consult" on the division names and new logo. You'll love that when you see it. The league was cute with its embedded "11" in the old logo. In the new one, the "I" in "Big" has turned into "1". The "G" is meant to kind of simulate a "0". Maybe, but the "G" also looks like a "6". The league might be sending us a Da Vinci Code message on its future expansion plans.
"Now that you mention it ...," Delany said of a possible interpretation of "Big 16" in the new logo.
What is this a trademark or an M.C. Escher print?
Posted on: November 28, 2010 9:19 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 1:06 pm
It looks like the biggest college football Sunday, well, until next week when the BCS bowls are announced. At issue today:
--Let the Miami speculation begin. Randy Shannon’s firing means a wide net will be cast. As Gregg Doyel pointed out, Miami pretty much has said player conduct isn’t an issue anymore. Miami fired a fine man who had recruited good players and good citizens.
Forget that, it’s time to find a football coach. Miami’s legacy is so deep that a rule has been named after it. Well, it doesn’t have an official name but next year points will be taken off the board for excessive celebration during a play. I’ve written about …
Anyway, to the speculation:
Miami needs a head coach. Miami needs an offensive coach. Miami needs a coach with quarterback experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean a former quarterback (Mark Richt?) but it does mean one who can coach (and recruit) quarterbacks.
My short list in no particular order:
Dana Hologorsen, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator – No, he’s not a head coach but he’s the reason the top three offensive players in the Big 12 play for Oklahoma State (Brandon Weeden, Kendall Hunter, Justin Blackmon).
Mike Leach, Key West resident-- He’s laying low in the Keys filing lawsuits until the next big thing comes along. If Miami wants to go 180 degrees from Shannon then this is their man. Note to Miami, though: Bring representation. This former lawyer is legally armed and dangerous.
Charlie Strong, Louisville - Defensive guy. Definitely not a quarterback guy. Strong, though, is known as a great recruiter who could get Miami back on track in a hurry. That pretty much goes for whoever Miami hires. We’re talking the ACC, here.
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech -- He’d come in a heartbeat. He loves Miami, knows how to recruit there. Tubs has two national championships rings from Miami. Is he too old though, 56, for Kirby Hocutt’s tastes?
Greg Schiano, Rutgers -- Here’s what you have to ask yourself – Has Rutgers dragged Schiano down? He led it to unprecedented heights but the Knights will miss their first bowl in five years this season. Or, are Miami’s resources just waiting to be tapped by an energetic former Hurricane assistant. Schiano has recruited South Florida for years.
Mark Richt, Georgia -- His name is automatic given his ties to the program (former quarterback) and success at Florida State and Georgia. But how does Richt go from the hot seat at Georgia to a hot candidate at Miami in just a few weeks?
--Other issues today: Three-way ties in the Big Ten and Big 12 have to be settled for BCS berths.
Oklahoma is expected to slip past Oklahoma State (and Texas A&M) in the Big 12. Wisconsin is expected to grab the Rose Bowl berth ahead of Ohio State and Michigan State.
In Oklahoma’s case, it’s fitting that the final Big 12 game (in this configuration) could be OU and Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. It’s that rivalry (among others) that was altered when the Big 12 was formed.
TCU seemingly has clinched a Rose Bowl berth, at least, after destroying New Mexico. The Horned Frogs’ regular season is done. It’s difficult to project them falling out of the No. 3 spot in the BCS.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 6:14 pm
The BCS exclusionary?
Not today with 22.5 percent of Division I-A still eligible for BCS bowls. That's the conclusion after reading a BCS press release Tuesday afternoon. The BCS released its list of teams still under consideration for the five elite bowls. In addition to the 19 teams contending for automatic berths by winning their conference there are still eight teams being considered for at-large berths.
No. 11 (in the BCS) Alabama, 9-2. Eliminated from the SEC, the Tide could get in the conversation by beating Auburn.
No. 21 Arizona, 7-3. A longshot even if the Wildcats beat Oregon this week.
No. 12 Arkansas, 9-2. The LSU game is a playoff to stay alive in the BCS.
No. 4 Boise, 10-0. Let's be honest, if the Broncos don't win out they're not going to a BCS bowl.
No. 5 LSU, 10-1. The highest-ranked one-loss team would seem to be in if it beats Arkansas.
No. 19 Nevada, 10-1. Another longshot even with a win over Boise on Friday.
No. 20 Utah, 9-2. Consecutive losses to TCU and Notre Dame doomed the Utes.
No. 3 TCU, 11-0. The Frogs are nervous. If they are passed by Boise for the No. 3 spot, their BCS bowl chances are in jeopardy.
To be eligible for an at-large berth, a team must finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings. For a non-A.Q. (automatic qualifier) conference champion to get into a BCS bowl it must finish in the top 12. (Top 16 if it is ranked higher than a champion from a power conference.) Only the highest-ranked non-A.Q. meeting those parameters is guaranteed a spot in the BCS.
What's amazing is that there are 19 teams still alive for automatic berths:
ACC: Florida State, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise, Florida State, LSU, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-10, Pac-10, Pittsburgh, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Texas A&M, UConn, Utah, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 3, 2010 11:28 am
Edited on: November 3, 2010 11:57 am
There are worse coaching-change strategies: Elevate a 70-year-old former coach who has won that school's only national championship and still has the fire in his belly.
That seems to be the way it's trending at Colorado where Dan Hawkins' fifth year at the school has the adopted title of a Sean Penn movie . Bill McCartney's name is being more than floated at Colorado. Mac is practically campaigning for his former job .
Mac may have it half right. The Colorado icon is interested and ready, even if it has been 17 years since we walked away from CU citing family concerns. It was Mac who survived a rocky start -- to put it mildly -- to shape Colorado into national power. The Buffs were 7-25-1 in his first three seasons which would make him shark bait in this impatient age. The administration showed faith, McCartney made Nebraska a designated rival and he began recruiting Southern California. The program then won its only national championship in 1990 (shared with Georgia Tech). I spoke to McCartney recently about the infamous Fifth Down game that made that championship possible.
"I know this, Bill McCartney is as fine a football coach as I`ve ever known," Snyder said earlier this season. "If he wanted to go back at the age of 90, he would still be extremely successful."
Colorado definitely needs some healing. The Hawkins thing just hasn't worked out. The former Boise coach is 19-38 at CU heading into this week's Kansas game. His tenure has been sort of a warning for all coaches who might think the grass is greener. In this case it certainly has been a warning to Chris Petersen who has been wildly successful since replacing Hawkins.
CU doesn't seem to be that far away. It won the Big 12 North as recently as 2005 and won division titles four of five years beginning in 2001. Those Gary Barnett days look pretty good right now. Hawkins could save his job with a bowl but it doesn't seem likely. The Buffs, 3-5, need to win three out of their last four to get bowl eligible. If not, AD Mike Bohn needs to hit a home run for one, big obvious reason: He hired Hawkins. The Buffs are moving to the Pac-12, a new chapter in their history, and can't afford to keep languishing. Bohn might be put off by McCartney's time away from the game, but with Snyder coming back and Joe Paterno going after his 400th win experience has to count for something.
Even if the Large Eleven is out of the national championship picture, the league has played in the most BCS bowl games (21) and will probably get two teams in again this season.
* Phil Fulmer is the latest name to surface at Minnesota, mostly because Fulmer himself all but expressed interest at Minnesota recently.
“Minnesota has great potential, and with its new facilities it’s a place you could recruit to,’’ Fulmer told the Knoxville News Sentinel . “I believe it’s a place where you can compete.’’
Other names mentioned for the job include Mike Leach, former Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski, former Kansas coach Mark Mangino, Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Canadian Football League coach Marc Trestman.
It looks like a slow offseason for coaching changes. Colorado may be the biggest job that opens up assuming that Georgia doesn't do anything with Mark Richt.
Posted on: October 31, 2010 5:01 pm
Brian Kelly never could have foreseen his first few months on the job at Notre Dame.
The scope of the rebuilding job is obviously bigger than anyone imagined. His quarterback Dayne Crist, the triggerman for his offense, is out for the year. The defense was a chronic problem before he arrived. The results had been spotty even before Saturday's embarrassing 28-27 loss to Tulsa.
All that pales in significance to the fact that media are openly speculating about his job security in the wake of death of videographer Declan Sullivan. After Saturday's game, Kelly surprisingly admitted it was his decision to go on with practice with Sullivan in the air.
"You have to be able to look at the weather conditions and find out whether you believe it's going to be a productive day, first," Kelly said. "We believed it to be productive, it was productive, obviously up until the tragedy."
No blaming, no scapegoating. For now, it's all on Kelly. That's almost an admission that Notre Dame is going to have to pay some kind of settlement after the tragic accident. Liability, in a sense has been decided.
While Sullivan's family released a touching statement over the weekend, can we safely assume that there is going to be some kind of lawsuit against the school at some point?
"Quiz is very adamant in our meetings about, 'Are we going in or out [for practice]?', Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said of football video coordinator Mark Quisenberry, 'and I'm only putting my tower up 20 feet if we go out.' "
Upon seeing that, a lawyer e-mailed me saying: "I would make Tressel my star witness."
* As USC took a third quarter lead over No. 1 Oregon Saturday night, an interesting possibility emerged. Had USC won, that would have whittled the last of unbeatens to four -- Auburn, Boise State, TCU and Utah. That also would have all but guaranteed one of those non-BCS schools playing for the national championship. A USC win would have meant the possibility of only one undefeated major-conference champion (Auburn). Assuming that at least one of the three non-BCSes went undefeated (TCU and Utah meet this week), one of them would probably move up enough in the BCS to play for the title.
For its champion, the SEC right now is mostly likely able to produce 1) an unbeaten Auburn, 2) a once-beaten Alabama or 3) the SEC East champion where each team in the division already has at least two losses. In scenarios 1) and 2) (assuming a USC win), the SEC would have a team in the BCS title game. In scenario 3) it wouldn't. In fact, it's possible that two non-BCS schools could play for the title.
* The motto in the Big Ten: Now we wait. We wait for the latest BCS standings each week to see how bad Michigan State's chances were damaged by the blowout loss to Iowa. The Spartans are now tied in the Big Ten standings with Ohio State (both are 4-1). The two don't meet this season which means if they tie, the next tiebreaker for the Rose Bowl -- or possibly the BCS title game -- is highest ranked team in the BCS. Prior to Sunday night's BCS release, Jerry Palm had Ohio State significantly ahead of the Spartans.
Wisconsin, 3-1 in the Big Ten, did not play this week. It has lost to Michigan State, and beaten Ohio State. Iowa, also at 3-1, hosts Ohio State on Nov. 20.
* Nebraska pulled into a tie in the Big 12 North with Missouri and now only has to win out to get to its second straight (and last) Big 12 title game. Nebraska's remaining schedule: at Iowa State, Kansas, at Texas A&M and Colorado. Missouri's remaining schedule: at Texas Tech, Kansas State, at Iowa State, Kansas. Anybody else notice that the road to the Big 12 North goes through Ames, Iowa? The plucky Cyclones host both Missouri and Nebraska.
Whatever happens this year at Nebraska, the Huskers are getting back to their roots. Taylor Martinez set the single-game quarterback rushing record against Kansas State. Roy Helu Jr. set the overall single-game rushing record (307 yards Saturday vs. Missouri). According to figures supplied by Big12sports.com, Nebraska's 860 yards on its 24 touchdown runs is more than 17 I-A teams have rushed for the entire season.
* The Pac-10's exclusive 90-day negotiating window with Fox Sports begins Jan. 15 according to Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. The Pac-10 and Big 12 are the next conferences to get big paydays from their rightsholders. The ACC was the last to cash in getting a $1.86-billion deal from ESPN. That pales in comparison to the SEC's $3 billion deal finalized in July 2009 but is another indicator that college football has been undervalued in the market. That's one of the reasons Jim Delany created the Big Ten Network. It's also a reason the new Pac-12 is expected to significantly increase its media rights.
* For the first time since 1979, Florida and Georgia came into the Cocktail Party unranked. The Gators beat the Dogs for the 18th time in the last 21 meetings, 34-31 in overtime. If there was ever a time for Mark Richt and Georgia to get Florida, this was it. The Gators won't stay down like this for long. Urban Meyer called it one of his biggest wins. Florida remains in control of its own destiny in the SEC East.
* Joe Paterno needs one more win for his 400th after beating Michigan.
* Quote of the day from Virginia's John-Kevin Dolce after knocking Miami quarterback Jacory Harris out of the game: "When you chop the head of a giant, the rest of the body goes with it."
Posted on: October 24, 2010 2:35 am
Edited on: October 24, 2010 10:48 am
It looks like it's going to be good week for Auburn in the BCS.
The way things are going, though, a week is as much the Tigers can hope for at this point. They seem to be the biggest beneficiary of Missouri's upset of BCS No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday night. The Tigers are projected to be No. 1 in the BCS on Sunday, followed by Oregon according Jerry Palm's projected BCS standings. Auburn came into Saturday No. 4 in the BCS.
The projection was made before the coaches' and Harris polls -- the two human components of the BCS -- were released on Sunday. Palm said the ranking depends on what the voters do with Auburn after its victory over LSU. Auburn began the day No. 5 in both the Harris and coaches' polls. If the Tigers were to jump over TCU -- No. 3 in Harris, No. 4 in coaches' -- then it could be safely in the top two in the BCS.
After that impressive 60-13 win over UCLA on Thursday, Palm projects that previous No. 1 Oregon will be No. 2 in the BCS. Losses by Oklahoma, LSU and Oklahoma State mean there are seven undefeated teams remaining, only four of them (Auburn, Missouri, Oregon and Michigan State) are from BCS conferences.
Auburn can't celebrate too much. Missouri's victory marked the third consecutive week a No. 1 has gone down on the road. The Tigers travel to Ole Miss this week. For the second consecutive week the BCS and human polls seemingly will be split with Auburn No. 1 in the BCS and Oregon No. 1 in the AP and coaches' polls.
Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:10 am
BCS bowl projections halfway through the season:
BCS championship: Oregon* vs. Alabama*
Notes: Oregon and Alabama win out to advance to the championship game. Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn assuring that there will be no undefeated teams in the SEC. It then beats the SEC East champion to advance. Despite one loss, it vaults over undefeated Boise, the TCU/Utah winner and perhaps even Oregon. It doesn't matter for the Ducks who stay in the top two because undefeated Boise, Utah/TCU can't catch it in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, other current undefeateds Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Missouri also lose locking in Oregon. Alabama would be playing for the first back-to-back national championship since Nebraska in the 1990s. Oregon would be playing for its first.
--The Fiesta Bowl would gladly welcome Nebraska which it hasn't had since 2000. West Virginia would be making a second trip to the Valley of the Sun in four years.
--The Orange Bowl gets one of its more intriguing matchups as Florida State returns to the big time returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2005. Ohio State has to settle for an at-large berth after failing to win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes return to the Orange for the first time since 1977.
--The Sugar is filled with two at-large participants. Oklahoma returns to New Orleans for the first time since the 2004 (2003 season) national championship game loss to LSU.
Oregon set the school season scoring record Thursday in the season's seventh game. The Ducks have 386 points and are averaging more than 55 points per game ... Strange how two Big Ten programs defined themselves by invoking Vince Lombardi this week. First Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said, "It's not like he would be replacing Vince Lombardi," of the new coach after firing Tim Brewster. Then Rich Rodriguez said this about his struggling defense: "Listen, Vince Lombardi could come too and [it's] not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense." ... Ohio State (at Minnesota) hasn't lost consecutive games since 2004 ... TCU has lost one fumble this season ... Texas A&M has lost 12 consecutive televised games dating back to 2008. The Aggies play at Kansas Saturday on Fox Sports Net ...
In this Week of the Head Shot in the NFL, it's interesting to note that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was knocked out of Saturday's game with a concussion. He practiced Tuesday and will play Saturday against Mississippi ... The last six Auburn-LSU games have been decided by six points or less ... Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years ... Until BYU kicked a field goal in Saturday's 31-3 loss, TCU had not allowed a point in almost three games -- 175 minutes, 10 seconds. A third straight complete shutout would have marked the first time in college football since Boston College in 1992.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big Ten, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Fresno State, Iowa, Kansas, LSU, Michigan State, Minnesota, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-10, Penn State, Rose Bowl, Rutgers, SMU, Sugar Bowl, TCU, Temple, Texas A&M, Troy, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin