Tag:Rutgers
Posted on: October 20, 2010 12:41 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2010 12:42 pm
 

The Eric LeGrand/NFL argument

Rutgers' Eric LeGrand lays in a hospital bed this week. Paralyzed, maybe, for a lengthy period. Meanwhile, I hear talking heads arguing about outlawing NFL head shots and their effect on the "quality" of NFL play.

Seems to be a disconnect here.

These are actually otherwise intelligent human beings worried about how the NFL will "look" if it is reduced to arm tackling. Trust me, it will look fine, great even. The argument against enforcing NFL rules against headshots harkens back to the age-old arguments about reducing the number of college scholarships in football. Coaches back then also warned that the "quality" of play would be impacted. Their credibility was shot over the last two decades when the college game has become better and more popular than ever. Seems that the game has survived with less than 100 scholarships per team.

Let's worry, more realistically, about the survival of LeGrand and those like him. The Rutgers junior had bad tackling form against Army. The result was paralysis. LeGrand wasn't trying to show off or send a message or intimidate. He made a mistake. During the same week that he continues to lay motionless in that hospital bed, there is a national argument about sending those messages and intimidating in the NFL.

Someone needs to get LeGrand's situation into the argument. Maybe James Harrison needs to pay a visit to the hospital and see how he feels afterward. We are to believe that the league will be neutered if it cannot express itself physically. Do you really want to intimidate that bad? Do you really want another Eric LeGrand?

The resounding answer -- whether spoken or unspoken -- by hundreds of aggressive males in their 20s in the NFL is yes. You cannot separate one question from the other. You cannot dispute the indisputable. The size of the field remains the same. The players are bigger, faster and stronger. A lot of them don't think about such things as Darryl Stingley's tragic life after the Raiders' Jack Tatum targeted him. They rail against the league trying to reign in the likes of Harrison, the Steelers linebacker, who took out two Browns Sunday then said, "I try to hurt people."

The statement mocks not only the rules but LeGrand. It's clear now that there is a generation of players who have been raised to use their heads as a weapon. Never mind that they are putting their bodies as well as their opponents' bodies at risk. They are acting like punks. They are turning a grand game into a street fight. A punk head-butts. A football player tackles. A punk dances over the prone body of a receiver. A football player makes the stick, high fives his teammates and heads back to the huddle.

No, but this is the NFL where television, the traditional media and the players themselves glorify a corner of the league where a sick culture resides.

College football long ago tried to legislate the punk factor out of the game. Next year points will be taken off the board if an offensive player taunts during a scoring play. College rules are more inclusive in trying to eliminate head shots. I have no problem with the "targeting" rule that puts the issue up to an official's discretion. A flag can be thrown not only for a head shot but if a player is in vulnerable position.

Maybe that wouldn't have stopped LeGrand. As mentioned, the 6-foot-2, 275-pounder was guilty of nothing more than bad tackling form. Meanwhile, there is a generation of players being raised to inflict damage, not just do their jobs as defenders. If they're not punks, they do punk things on the football field. That has to be stopped.

What's wrong if the NFL is reduced to a league of arm tacklers? It's the same argument the college coaches had 20 years ago. My counter-argument was: It doesn't matter who many scholarships there are. If you suited up 22 chimps in Nebraska and Oklahoma uniforms would still pay to watch.

If the NFL was cleaned up and everyone was playing by the same rules, you think it would matter at the turnstile? They're still the best football players in the world. The more of them around, the better for everyone. Ask Eric LeGrand. He won't be one of them.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 14, 2010 5:15 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2010 1:31 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Watch Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon at Texas Tech. He just might be the best receiver in the country. The problem is OSU is 0-6 in Lubbock during the Big 12 era. Overall, the Cowboys haven't won in Lubbock since 1944 ... The remaining 59 teams in I-A will have played half of their regular-season schedules after this weekend, including USC which will play its seventh of 13 games ... If Ohio State is able to hold on to the No. 1 ranking for four more Sundays this season it would pass Oklahoma to become the most-frequent No. 1 in AP poll history. The Bucks became No. 1 for the 94th time this week. Only Oklahoma (97) and Notre Dame (95) have been No. 1 more often ... If anyone had told you Louisville would be 4-2 halfway through its first season post-Kragthrope would you have laughed? The Cards would be just that if they win Friday night against Cincinnati...

Miami (3-2) reaches the halfway point in its season this week at Duke a candidate for the nation's most disappointing team. The record isn't terrible, it's more where the program stands right now -- No. 3 in the state. Jacory Harris has been uneven. FSU ran the Canes out of their own building. You look at the talent and just think Miami should be better. You can have your argument between Florida State (5-1) and Florida (4-2) right now but it's clear the Hurricanes -- in the middle of a comeback -- are in danger of finishing back in the pack in 2010's in-state race ...

Bad game of the week: Eastern Michigan (0-6) at Ball State (2-4). The teams are a combined 4-32 since the beginning of 2009 ... Army and Rutgers play the first college game in new Meadowlands Stadium ... Utah (at Wyoming) has scored at least 56 in three consecutive games ... Jim Tressel is the first Big Ten coach to win 100 games in 10 seasons ... Alabama continues a rather remarkable streak not having allowed a 100-yard rusher in 40 consecutive games ... Mississippi State (at Florida) is shooting for its first four-game winning streak since 1999 ... Something to consider while boarding the South Carolina bandwagon: Stephen Garcia is 11-2 at home, only 1-5 on the road heading to Kentucky ... Steve Spurrier is 18-0 vs. the Wildcats combined at Florida and South Carolina ... Oregon State has lost one turnover this season ... TCU is back in a familiar spot leading the nation in total defense. That's where the Frogs finished the last two seasons ... Denard Robinson's Heisman season -- and maybe Michigan's season -- hangs in the balance. Robinson is facing the country's No. 2 rush defense in Iowa ... Michigan State (vs. Illinois) is going for its first 7-0 start since its 9-0 start in 1966 ...

I thought we'd gotten over this: The replay official in last week's controversial Oregon State-Arizona game was an Arizona grad. How can that be?

 

Posted on: October 8, 2010 1:29 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2010 9:06 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Judgment time: More than half of Division I-A (61 teams) will reach the halfway point of the regular season having played six games after this week. The season reaches its official halfway point after the games of Oct. 16. Seven weeks down, seven weeks to go on the college football calendar ...

Strangely, the end of Saturday's LSU-Tennessee game was similar to the conclusion of the Fifth Down, at least in the confusion category. If you're looking for link between the two it's LSU third-string quarterback Chase McCartney. Chase is the grandson of former Colorado coach Bill McCartney who was the Buffs' coach against Missouri 20 years ago. Missouri and CU meet for the final time as Big 12 opponents Saturday in Columbia ... What's the big deal about Turner Gill's curfew which doesn't allow Kansas players to see women after 10 p.m. during the season? With all the mistreatment of women in sports, this is a bold, positive step. The alternative is Florida (30 arrests in six years). Gill was asked if his curfew would hurt recruiting. "I guess it could. But we can explain it. It's not that big a deal." The Jayhawks host Kansas State on Thursday ...

Sometimes you just feel pity. Purdue (2-2 going to Northwestern) has lost its quarterback (Robert Marve), best receiver (Keith Smith) and top running back (Ralph Bolden) to season-ending injuries ... Penn State is 114th in red zone offense, worst among BCS conference schools ... Florida State (25) and Miami (17) are 1-2 nationally in sacks. Best of luck to Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder ... Baylor (4-1 vs. Texas Tech at the Cotton Bowl) is trying for consecutive wins away from Waco for the first time since 1996 ...

Stay away from this trend, gamblers. Toledo is 0-2 at home but 3-0 on the road heading to ... Boise. Oh no. ... What's your deal? USC will try to stay within 34 (margin of loss in last year's meeting) when it travels to Stanford ... Who needs BYU in the Mountain West for BCS strength? The Cougars (1-4 and hosting San Diego State) are off to their worst start since 1973 ...  UNLV (at West Virginia) hasn't played in the Eastern Time Zone since 2004 ...

WAC commissioner Karl Benson is the latest source to want coaches' poll ballots made public. His former school, Boise State, was jumped last week in both polls by Oregon. "My guess is that there are coaches who voted Boise State in double-digits," Benson said. "Boise State, unlike any other team in the country, has won the games that they're supposed to win."

Benson brought into question the process which was further muddied by New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker, whose team lost to Boise 59-0 last week. Walker wasn't sure if he had a coaches' poll (he doesn't), but "I usually let my assistant coaches handle that stuff." Let's hope he never gets a vote ...

Posted on: September 28, 2010 7:47 pm
 

National notes

What the hell happened to the Big East?

No one was predicting a national championship this season, but things were looking up weren't they? Pittsburgh had a bonafide Heisman candidate in Dion Lewis. UConn was going to beat Michigan and begin the end for Rich Rod. West Virginia had Noel Devine. Cincinnati wasn't 12 wins good, but it was 10 wins good. Right?

The only thing good about the league at this point is that September is ending. At least the Big East can start 0-0 in October. It was 1-10 against BCS conference schools in September. Every team in the league has at least one loss. There are no ranked teams. UConn has changed quarterbacks. There has been an APB sent out for Lewis. Syracuse? There's hope. The Orange are 3-1.

Remember, this was the league that Paul Tagliabue thought was worth saving.

Here's what went (really, really) wrong.

Brian Kelly left Cincinnati. The Bearcats were thinking the worst and hoping for the best. Turns out that Kelly did have the magic touch to get a mid-major into a BCS bowl. It also turns out that the growing pains under Butch Jones were going to be significant.  A 1-3 start means the Bearcats have one less loss than they have had in last two seasons combined (four).

Rutgers never capitalized. It was almost four years ago that Rutgers lit up the nation and New York with that magic win over Louisville. The Scarlet Knights didn't follow through to win the Big East and capture that BCS berth. Greg Schiano keeps recruiting well but Rutgers has lost that Cinderella the program had. It dropped to 2-1 Saturday with a loss to North Carolina.

Ditto for South Florida. Wasn't it just three years ago that the Bulls rose to the No. 2 in the country? South Florida was a fun story for a while under fiery coach Jim Leavitt. Then they always seemed to fade in November. Leavitt got sideways with the administration and may have struck a player. A lawsuit trying to dispel that assertion is what takes most of his time lately. Skip Holtz was the right hire but it's going to take time. Actually, the Bulls might have the brightest outlook after one month. They stuck with Florida for a half and should be 4-1 heading to Morgantown on Oct. 14.

Pittsburgh underachieved again. The Panthers were a prohibitive favorite to win the league in the preseason. They still might do it but have already lost twice. Thursday's four-touchdown rout by Miami was embarrassing. There will be no 10-win repeat.

Four of the league's eight teams have switched coaches in the last two years.
Remember, continuity is a good thing.

There's always Temple and/or Villanova. The two schools have been rumored to join the league as a way of bolstering its major-market profile if and when the Big Ten gets the expansion jones again. There was a report that the league may be interested in TCU. Makes sense for both sides, sort of. If TCU loses once in the Mountain West, it could be out of the BCS running. If it loses three times (non-conference games) while playing in the Big East, it could still get a BCS bowl.

None of that fixes what's wrong now. 

The top 10 September teams (No preseason polls involved. Strictly based on accomplishments to date)

1. Alabama -- beat two ranked teams, one top 10 team on the road. No drop off after losing nine defensive starters.
2. Boise State -- beat two ranked teams, one on the "road" (Virginia Tech). No drop off after undefeated season.
3. Stanford -- Most underrated team in the country. Andrew Luck could win the Heisman. Cardinal could win the Pac-10.
4. Auburn -- Complete team now with Cam Newton.
5. Nebraska -- Defense alone could get it to national championship game.
6. Oregon -- Scorched the earth until Arizona State, then Devils handed them a game by turning it over seven times.
7. Arizona -- Win over Iowa was biggest in years.
8. NC State -- Won twice impressively on the road (Central Florida, Georgia Tech). Suddenly an ACC favorite.
9. Ohio State -- Against the only upright opponent showed flaws but still picked off four Miami passes. Still waiting for Big Ten sked.
10. Michigan -- Can't argue with 4-0 for the second straight season. Denard Robinson emerging as Heisman favorite.

The Quarter Pole

(The best after four games. Team and player)

Best of the Big East: West Virginia, Jordan Todman (UConn)
Best of the Big 12: Nebraska, Taylor Martinez (Nebraska)
Best of the Big Ten: Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State)
Best of the ACC: NC State, Russell Wilson (NC State)
Best of the SEC: Alabama, Ryan Mallett (Arkansas)
Best of Conference USA: East Carolina, Bryce Beall (Houston)
Best of the Pac-10: Oregon, Andrew Luck (Stanford)
Best of the Mountain West: TCU, Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State)
Best of the Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee, Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)
Best of the WAC: Boise State, Kellen Moore (Boise State)
Best of the MAC: Temple, Bernard Pierce (Temple)

Posted on: September 28, 2010 5:10 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 10:07 pm
 

Report: Big East interest in TCU

Citing anonymous sources, the New York Post is reporting that the Big East is interested in adding TCU.

Forget the geographic ramifications. TCU plays in the Mountain West Conference, but is nowhere near mountains in the west. The Big East is probably willing to do anything, including adding a school from Texas, to keep itself relevant. The names of Temple and Villanova have already been tossed around as future additions, at least in football.

That said, I guess this makes some sort of sense if the Big East believes it can add a market in Dallas-Fort Worth. TCU basketball is, at best, struggling. Both entities, TCU and the Big East, would be desperate to have access to an automatic BCS bowl berth in the future. That would be a heck of commute, though, for the Rutgers volleyball team.

TCU coach Gary Patterson said via text he was "surprised" at the report. A message left for TCU AD Chris Del Conte was not immediately returned.

Posted on: July 6, 2010 11:38 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 12:47 pm
 

Son of fresh faces

Friday I offered up 10 fresh faces to watch for 2010. Here are 21 more ...


Nick Becton, OT, Virginia Tech -- This sophomore replaces three-year starter Ed Wang at left tackle.

Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana-Monroe -- Redshirt beat out senior Trey Revell.

Clemson quarterbacks -- Depending on whether Kyle Parker signs a major-league contract. That means either fifth-year senior Michael Wade or redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd will take over.

Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn -- Alabama-Auburn is heating up again. Gene Chizik landed a top five recruit to go with new quarterback Cameron Newton.

Vidal Hazelton, WR, Cincinnati -- Transfer from USC could take over for Mardy Gilyard as the go-to guy.

Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State -- The progress of Florida State's defense under Mark Stoops will be one of the biggest stories going into '10. This redshirt sophomore is starting at rush end, a glamour position.

Skylar Jones, QB, Wake Forest -- Takes over for Riley Skinner. The junior won the job in the spring after not throwing a pass last season.

Logan Kilgore, QB, Middle Tennessee -- Transfer from Bakersfield (Calif). College, threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Dwight Dasher is the man but Kilgore could be the next man.

Dan Mason, LB, Pittsburgh -- Pittsburgh's starting middle linebacker has been All-Big East first team each of the last five years. Will Mason make it six in a row as a sophomore?

Lamar Miller, TB, Miami -- With Graig Cooper rehabbing a knee hurt in the bowl, this homegrown redshirt freshman could be a savior.

Jason Peters, DE, Georgia Tech -- Al Groh was hired to install the 3-4. There is more pressure on the ends in that alignment. Peters was one of the stars of the spring.

Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina -- Overshadowed on one of the best defenses in the country.

Ryan Radcliff, QB, Central Michigan -- If you're asking who will replace Dave LeFevour, this is the guy. The redshirt sophomore threw 21 passes last season.

Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State -- This sophomore is replacing NCAA rushing leader Ryan Mathews in the Central Valley. Runs like Jacquizz Rodgers with similar measureables -- 5-foot-7, 185.

Rutgers Super Sophs -- Six-foot-five quarterback Tom Savage threw for 14 touchdowns as a freshman. Receiver Mohamed Sanu (51 catches) is one of the fastest players in the game.

Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois -- Redshirt freshman from high school power Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst was named starter by Ron Zook in the spring. Dual-threat guy needs to jump start Illini offense.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- For the first time in five years, the Mountaineers don't have an experienced quarterback returning. Smith could be great (65 percent on 49 passes in '09) but will have to come back from a broken foot in the offseason.

Josh Snead, TB, Duke -- Early enrolling freshman is a home-run hitter for a program desperate for a bowl.

Tino Sunseri, QB, Pittsburgh -- The Panthers always seem to be a quarterback away from doing great things. Coming off a 10-win season, Sunseri could be the difference in Pittsburgh getting back to a BCS bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: June 7, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: June 7, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Latest from Expansion Central. Syracuse?

The latest scuttlebutt Monday morning has to do with Syracuse being the key to prying Notre Dame loose for the Big Ten.

If Missouri and Nebraska say yes to the Big Ten, I'm hearing that then either Pittsburgh or Rutgers would be paired with Syracuse to form an expanded eastern boundary of the new league. The key, apparently, is taking The 'Cuse into the Big Ten. The fit already looks good. Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor is a former chancellor at Illinois and provost at Michigan.

In this scenario, the addition of Syracuse collapses the Big East and potentially forces Notre Dame to find a conference home for its minor sports. Not to mention a conference home for football.

In other words, Notre Dame needs a compelling reason to join a league in football. I reported yesterday that if Notre Dame came to the Big Ten, that league's expansion might be capped at 12. That might not be the case now. The two biggest words to remember in this entire process is that it is always a "fluid situation."

Adding to the intrigue is that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Sunday that expansion could happen in stages

If all of the above comes to pass, we'd be looking at two 16-team leagues (Pac-10, Big Ten), the collapse of the Big 12 and Big East and a whole lot of chaos. Does the SEC react?

 
Posted on: April 19, 2010 11:35 am
 

Rating the Big Ten expansion candidates

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany travels to the Arizona desert this week which is kind of fitting. For some unlucky schools, there is going to be a college football wasteland once the Big Ten gets done expanding. The BCS meetings this week in Phoenix could be where it all starts. Out of public view, mind you, but it could start. Delany could begin the process of notifying affected conferences that he is about to raid them.

With that in mind, it's time to rating the Big Ten expansion candidates in terms of relevance:

1. Notre Dame: If the Big 16 (or whatever) is able to lure/coerce ND into joining, the other schools don't really matter. Notre Dame brings everything -- class, quality football, eyeballs to the Big Ten Network. The two parties will have to figure out how to do deal with the NBC contract. That's really just a detail once the school decides to join, though. At issue: ND must decide that after 22 years without a national championship, it's better chasing a Rose Bowl every year than hoping for a BCS bowl in some years.

2. Connecticut: A UConn/Syracuse/Rutgers triumvirate maybe makes New York care enough about the Big Ten for the region's big cable carriers to start putting the Big Ten Network on the basic tier. Theoretically, you get New Jersey, New England and, maybe, New York. Taking UConn would be a big of a departure for the Big Ten because it is not an AAU school.

3. Missouri: Outside of getting Notre Dame and turning on New York, Missouri is the next biggest "get" for the Big Ten. It is virgin territory from which the BTN could reap a big profit. Kansas City is a Kansas town (followed closely by Missouri), but St. Louis is a Big Ten/Illinois/Mizzou town. With the likes of Ohio State and Michigan coming to Columbia on a regular basis, cable carriers would have to consider  featuring the BTN on the basic tier. If it's five teams, then count Missouri in. Delany could boast of having markets from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Ocean to New England.

4. Rutgers: By itself, Rutgers does little in the New York market. If the Big Ten took just Rutgers, it could be taking it on the come. We all remember how the region got turned on 3 1/2 years ago. It could happen again. Most likely, Rutgers needs a partner or partners in expansion.

5. Syracuse:  Almost a tag-along at this point. The 'Cuse by itself doesn't make sense because it doesn't bring a market or consistent football. Basketball is great, but that's not what this expansion is about at all. 'Cuse football is going to be better. We all know that. But does the Big Ten expand hoping Syracuse will get good? No, the school would be  a throw-in with Rutgers and UConn if Delany chooses to influence New York (see No. 1) 

6. Pittsburgh: There is little buzz about Pittsburgh at this point. The Big Ten is already in Pennsylvania with Penn State. When Joe Paterno talks about adding another school in the East, that kind of eliminates Western Pennsylvania.

 
 
 
 
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