Tag:Illinois
Posted on: October 29, 2008 10:44 am
Edited on: October 29, 2008 2:11 pm
 

National notes

Breaking news out of Happy Valley: You don't have to be a linguist to figure out Joe Paterno said a mouthful this week after getting his ailing hip checked.

"I want to find out from (doctors) what needs to be done," Joe said, "and get it done as soon as I can after the season is over so I can get on the road to recruit."

Recruiting? For, like, 2009? There you have it, in case you're wondering if JoePa is going to hang up the white socks. The Penn State president's office had no comment. (OK, kidding on that last one).

 Minnesota was a national embarrassment in 2007: 1-11, last in total defense. It couldn't get worse.

 

There was whispers that rookie head coach Tim Brewster was a colossal mistake. But the coach had yet to work his 
magic.

"He's the best recruiter I've been around. Period," said Texas' Mack Brown.

The two had worked together for 13 years. There was a reason Brown kept him close. Brewster could charm Warren 
Buffet out of his wallet.

"I'm just surprised he did it so early," Brown said. 

It is more than a surprise that Minnesota 7-1 and ranked 20th. From the dregs of '07, Brewster now has the Gophers 
in contention for the biggest I-A turnaround ever. The current record is an 8 1/2-game improvement. Hawaii improved 
by that margin in 1999 (from 0-12 to 9-4). Minnesota is currently eight games better than last season. If it 
finishes 10-3 it would tie the record; 11-2 and it break it.

The turnaround started, of course, with recruiting. Brewster says he brought in 45 players for official visits. Thirty-one signed, including a couple of jucos who provided immediate help. Defensive backs Traye Simmons, Tramaine Brock and Simoni Lawrence have combined for 7 1/2 tackles for loss, four interceptions, 17 passes broken up and three forced fumbles.

Quarterback Adam Weber matured. Receiver Eric Decker is tied for third nationally with 66 
receptions. Defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg is back healthy from a broken wrist.

There are those who will tell you that for all credit Brewster gets for this season, he must bear some blame for 
last season. The cupboard wasn't exactly bare when Brewster took over Glen Mason's 6-7 team in 2006 before the 
bottom fell out. Six of the 11 losses were by a touchdown or less, two in overtime.

"It was gut-wrenching," Brewster said. "We had a lot of sad Saturday evenings, a lot of hard Sundays. There's been 
nothing given to this team."

Minny has benefitted from a friendly schedule -- it misses Penn State and Michigan State -- but, hey, things were so bad last season that it isn't fair to put qualifiers on this turnaround. The defense is No. 1 in takeaways with 24.

"It's really different, especially from last year," defensive back Kyle Theret said. "We weren't even close to 
shutting down people to six points, no touchdowns."

That was the result last week in a 17-6 over slumping Purdue. Northwestern is up this week and once again the 
schedule is friendly. Wildcats quarterback C.J. Bacher is questionable with a hammy. Tailback Tyrell Sutton is out  for the season.
With games left against Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa (combined record 11-13), the Gophers could pull a complete 
turnaround and finish 11-1. A Jan. 1 bowl is not out of the question for a program that hasn't been to one since the 1962 Rose Bowl.

Brewster is one of those worker bees who finally got his shot. There were a lot of raised eyebrows when the Denver 
Broncos tight ends coach got a Big Ten job. But Brewster came well recommended. He lists his biggest influences as 
Brown, Mike Shanahan and Marty Schottenheimer. His son Nolan plays at Texas.

Armed with momentum, Brewster can't let it slip. TCF Bank Stadium, the result of a long-time Mason crusade, opens 
next season. It will be a palace, the first new Big Ten stadium built in 49 years. Open-air football in Minnesota 
sure beats the Metrodome no matter what the temperature.

"It's just not a collegiate environment. It's a pro environment," Brewster said. "The average game day temperature 
at the University of Minnesota through November 15 is 64 degrees. It's way overplayed. Winter's winter. Cold is cold. You know what? That's a good thing."


 Handicapping the Washington job.

1. Jim Mora, Jr., Seattle Seahawks secondary coach. His head says hang on to replace Mike Holmgren. His heart says 
go to the alma mater. Please, Jim, take the U-Dub job. You are the most passionate candidate available. Mora also 
comes armed with head coaching experience, something this opening desperately needs.

2. Chris Petersen, Boise State. Has to be the No. 1 choice if Mora says no, doesn't he? Petersen can recruit 
California and can't accomplish much more in Boise. It's time for him to take a step up.

3. Gary Patterson, TCU. Defensive master-mind who, with the right offensive coordinator could be perfect for the job. Part of the Mountain West overthrow of the Pac-10. Completely happy at TCU but someday he will listen. Will he take Washington's call? 

4. Pat Hill, Fresno State. Pat would improve the defense and the get the media back but he has never won so much as 
a WAC title. Petersen's younger.

5. Troy Calhoun, Air Force. NFL experience, Pacific Northwest roots. Run-based offense that some Washington loyalists want to see return to Husky Stadium.

6. Lane Kiffin, unemployed. Still having problems identifying what Lane has actually done. The list of failed 
Raiders coaches goes out the door. Supposedly, he can coordinate an offense but this job needs soooo much more.

7. Dave Christensen, Missouri offensive coordinator. Somewhat of a flavor-of-the-month. DC has been there for eight 
years. Missouri's offense has been on the national scene for two. Christensen looks cool riding his motorcycle and 
has U-Dub ties but doesn't this opening deserve a guy with head coaching experience?

8. Mike Leach, Texas Tech.  Leach wants it. Does Washington want him?

9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri. He ain't going so forget it.

 

 The finalists for the Draddy Award, also known as the academic Heisman

 

Andrew Berry, CB, Harvard -- You would expect nothing less from this former Goldman Sachs interim who participated in 
Harvard's first night game last season.

Ryan Berry, QB, South Dakota State -- Pre-med and American Dairy Association basketball clinic participant.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri -- Heisman candidate and business administration major who counts Warren Buffet among his close friends.

Brian Freeman, OT, Carnegie Mellon -- three-time student employee of the year finalist. Rock on, Brian.

Casey Gerald, CB, Yale -- Accepted to Harvard Business School and applying for Rhodes scholarship. Thank goodness 
the football thing hasn't gotten in the way.

Graham Harrrell, QB, Texas Tech -- You can't touch him (4.0 in first semester of graduate work) and you can't touch 
him (sacked only three times this season).

Quin Harris, LB, Louisiana Tech -- Graduated magna cum laude in clinical kinesiology.

Jeff Horinek, LB, Colorado State -- Seems to have mastered in football his areas of post graduate interest: 
nutrition and biomechanics.

Ryan Kees, DE, St. Cloud State -- Pride of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Alex Mack, C, Cal -- Pancakes, knockdowns and magna cum laude in legal studies.

Ryan McDonald, OL, Illinois -- Aerospace engineer major. Career should lift off. Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Greg Micheli, QB, Mount Union -- Quite the mathlete. Division II All-American and physics major.

Darryl Richard, DT, Georgia Tech -- If this guy can play for Paul Johnson, he deserves for to be on this list.

Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State -- Not everything about Ohio State is overrated.

Louie Sakoda, P/K, Utah -- Laser Foot who can drop punts inside the 20 with the best of them.

Posted on: October 8, 2008 10:39 am
Edited on: October 8, 2008 11:11 pm
 

National notes

One day closer to the ultimate comeback by Mitch Mustain.

If you've forgotten him, get in line. Mustain was the uber-recruit from Springdale, Ark. who signed with the 
hometown Hogs, went 8-0 as a freshman starter then transferred to USC amid the Houston Nutt shenanigans. The 
transfer to USC looked curious from the start. Mark Sanchez was there. So was highly regarded Aaron Corp.

At one point this season, Mustain dropped to fourth on the depth chart. Now with Sanchez nursing an injured knee 
Mustain might get his first start with the Trojans. I have no idea the amount of rust on Mustain but it says 
something that he rose up the depth chart to be in position to take over when Sanchez got hurt against Oregon.

The latest from Tuesday's practice: Sanchez threw lightly but did not practice. With three days to go before the 
Arizona State game, that's a positive sign for Mustain.

 It looks like Joe Paterno is going to be around for a while.

This is news because 1) the Penn State coach broke his leg two years at Wisconsin, the same place Penn State will 
play on Saturday 2) the reports coming out of State College lately have painted a bleak picture of his current 
health. Paterno was noticeably limping Saturday at Purdue and had to coach again from the press box. The 81-year-old 
has been seen at practices getting around in a golf cart.

The story, often repeated, is that Paterno injured his knee attempting an onside kick during a drill. However, after 
the Purdue game he was seen wearing two different shoes and was steadying himself at the podium while speaking to 
reporters. JoePa has taken to doing his weekly coach's show from his home.

"We're a little worried," quarterback Daryll Clark said after the 20-6 victory. "His leg's been bothering him for a 
little while now. But he's still there at practices doing what he can."

Joe being Joe, he shot down speculation that he is anywhere near the end of his career.

"I can't walk like I used to walk all the time," he said. "I used to love to get up and walk five, six miles. But I 
can't do that and still go out and go to practice for a couple hours. It just wears down on me. But what I have can 
be fixed, so we'll work on it.

 
"I'm going to have to live with it for a couple of weeks, maybe more. But hey, that's why I get the big money."

There is an increasing vibe that when Penn State eventually makes a change that the new coach might now come from 
the current staff. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and defensive line coach Larry Johnson are the most likely 
candidates.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying Joe is going anywhere. A Big Ten title or national championship run will give him 
more reason to stick around.

 Ole Miss continues its up and down season. A week after winning at The Swamp, the Rebels lost an emotional game to 
South Carolina, 31-24. That leaves them 1-2 in the SEC West with a bye week before going to Alabama on Oct. 18.

I spoke to Houston Nutt recently.

Was there any temptation to shove it in Arkansas' face after that Florida win?

Nutt: I really deep down inside haven't thought about that (like) 'Look at us now.' "

OK, so how sweet was it?

Nutt: It was very sweet. We played Florida in the championship game in Atlanta (while with Arkansas). I thought we 
had 'em there. You beat Texas, you beat Tennessee, you beat Alabama, but this one ranks so high. It was 629 days 
since this team had won an SEC game."

After beating Georgia, Nick Saban mentioned the day-by-day grind that it takes to win at this level. You have to 
agree.

Nutt: "The constant grind, that's why you need three weeks of the summer to get totally away from it"

How close are you guys to turning it around?

Nutt: "The disappointing thing is, we're still sitting at 73 scholarships. A lot of names you heard the last three 
years aren't here. You're good at defensive line, you're good at receiver. There are some holes. The biggest hole 
was the mindset."

 More on the greatest stat of the season so far ...

D&E told you earlier this week that No. 3 Missouri had not had a three-and-out this season with Chase Daniel at 
quarterback. In those 48 possessions, Mizzou has scored 33 times (28 touchdowns, five field goals). The 15 "misses" 
include five punts, four lost fumbles, three series turned over on downs, two missed field goals and one 
interception.

 Brouce Mompremier has been cleared to do conditioning a couple of weeks after he was one of three players involved 
in Black Saturday. The South Florida linebacker was among the three who each suffered serious spinal or back 
injuries.

 As mentioned in today's main story, Ball State's Dante Love will never play football again after being injured against 
Indiana. He is rehabbing and is expected to make a full recovery. Washington State quarterback suffered a 
non-surgical spine fracture.

Mompremier's got back on the practice field on a limited basis on Tuesday. His injury has been defined as 
nueroproxia, which is temporary failure of nerve conduction in the absence of structural changes, due to blunt 
injury or compression.

 Cincinnati (vs. Rutgers) and New Mexico State (at Nevada) will be the last two teams to open conference play this 
week.

 Georgia Tech freshman Jaybo Shaw completed nine of 13 passes in his first career start against Duke, all to  
Demaryius Thomas for 230 yards. That's the second-highest receiving total in school history.

 Big week for punt blocks involving guys named Carter: North Carolina's Bruce Carter blocked three punts against 
Connecticut. Navy blocked two punts resulting in touchdowns against Air Force. Navy's Blake Carter blocked a punt in 
the first half that was returned for a touchdown. In the second half, he picked up a punt blocked by teammate Bobby 
Doyle. Navy had not blocked a punt in nine years.

  Rutgers has dropped to 1-4 leading coach Greg Schiano to say he might have overestimated his talent. Maybe his 
schedule has been overrated. The Scarlet Knights have beaten two ranked opponents since Schiano took over in 2000. 
That's as many ranked teams as Vanderbilt has beaten this season.

  Texas' Mack Brown on the Big (Scoring) 12: "Every time we look up, the most phenomenal thing is to see 50 points 
in this league. Nobody is surprised. At one time, you said, 'God they scored 58.' Now people are pulling them out  
to keep it to 58.' "

  Seeing the scoring explosion a different way: The nation's top scoring team is Tulsa. Factor in time of possession and  
the Golden Hurricane are averaging a point every 28.7 seconds. No. 2 Missouri is averaging one every 28 seconds.

 How important is Oklahoma-Texas this week? Eight times in the previous 12 games during the existence of the Big 12 
the winner has gone on to win the South Division. Two other times, the loser has played for the conference title. 
The other two South Division titles have been won by Texas A&M.

 Oklahoma is the only team in the country not to lose a fumble this season.

  Washington is 0-5 for the first time in 39 years and one of only two winless teams in I-A. North Texas is the other.

  Name the 12 teams averaging both 200 yards passing and rushing and you win a sucker. Answer below.

  More about Ball State:

 It is located in Muncie, Ind. where basketball is king. The 1990 Ball State team went to the Sweet 16 before losing 
to UNLV. Muncie Central High School has won eight state championships.

When radio voice Morry Mannies went to school there in the 1950s tuition was $150 and enrollment was 4,000. Today 
there are 18,000 students

The last MAC team to be ranked was Bowling Green in November 2004.

The school was shut down three times before 1917. At that point it was bought out of foreclosure by the Ball family. 
It was originally known as Eastern Indiana Normal School. 

The famous "Boom, goes the dynamite" guy, Brian Collins, is from Ball State.

 The 12 incredibly balanced teams referred to above: Oklahoma State, Nevada, Oregon, Penn State, Tulsa, Arkansas 
State, Louisville, Illinois, Indiana, Fresno State, LSU and Southern Miss.

 

Posted on: October 5, 2008 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2008 9:24 pm
 

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

There is some doubt as to whether Joe Paterno can finish the season.

 Brace yourselves. I know this will be hard to believe but there is more trouble with Pac-10 officials. Stanford's Jim Harbaugh went a little nuts after Notre Dame's 28-21 victory.

 

 

 Just so we're all clear on this: Those cuddly, loveable, loseable Cubs played exactly three more games than the Washington Nationals. It feels soooo good for those of us ready to stick a finger down our throats at the mention of everything Cub.

 

Good tee times available, Cubbies. Have a nice offseason ...

 On to the oblong ... Jake Harry's scholarship is in danger. OK, not really. But the Missouri punter does feel a bit, shall we say, underutilized?

 

The junior from Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif. did not punt Saturday night against Nebraska. Not even close, really. The first-team offense scored on all of its possessions Saturday excpet one -- a 59-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half. He has punted nine times all season (Missouri has punted 10 times as a team). Harry has punted only twice in the last three games.

Reminded of this fact, super serious coach Gary Pinkel said, "We're going to have to work on that in practice. That's not reality."

Neither is this: Missouri's offense has not gone three-and-out with Chase Daniel at quarterback this season.

You're welcome in advance for this week's Heisman candidate trivia.


 Anyone want a piece of Ron Zook now? He was the first coach in nine years to win at Ohio State and at Michigan within a 12-month span in nine years. The last coach to do it? Illinois' Ron Turner in 1999. Illinois trounced Michigan 45-20 at The Big House on Saturday.

 Yes, that was Joe Paterno up in the press box again due to what was reportedly pain in his right hip.

 

"I'm not letting anybody get near me with a knife," JoePa said.

 Florida's fantastic freshmen, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, each ran for 103 yards in a win over Arkansas. The last  time Florida had two players each rush for 100 and have no receivers over 100 yards was 1997. Wait a minute, wasn't that under Spurrier? Strange.

 

 USC avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2001 with a 44-10 win over Oregon. The Trojans actually trailed 10-3 and faced a fourth-and-2 at Oregon's 34. Pete Carroll's, as he frequently does, went for it. Mark Sanchez threw a touchdown pass to Damien Williams.

 

 Is Charlie Weis working his quarterback magic again? In his first seven games Jimmy Clausen threw one touchdown and five interceptions while winning once. In his last eight games including a win over Stanford on Saturday, Clausen has thrown 18 touchdowns (only seven interceptions) and is 6-2.

 


 Bad times at Kansas State. Fans were booing and a less-than-capacity crowd left early during a 58-28 loss to Texas Tech. Ron Prince's embattled defense has been thrashed repeatedly dating back to last season. In its last season I-A losses, teams are averaging 49 points and 538 yards. Quarterbacks are completing 70 percent while having throwing 20 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Texas Tech's Graham Harrell threw for more yards against Kansas State (454) than Air Force, Navy and Army did combined (265) on Saturday. Those three schools haven't thrown for as many yards on the season as Harrell did on Saturday: Army, 279; Air Force, 412; Navy, 439.

The service academies played the whole game too. Harrell was yanked in the second half.

 At least Nebraska gets a break next week after losing by five touchdowns to Missouri. It goes to Lubbock. Thank you sir, may I have another.

 

 Some Wisconsin seniors got a windfall in their e-mail. Because the band was suspended indefinitely for acts that would make Penn State players blush, there suddenly were 300 empty seats to be filled in Camp Randall Stadium. The school contacted seniors who had lost out on the ticket lottery. They were told to show up at the stadium shortly before the game to claim their free ticket.

 


 You knew this was coming: Arkansas continues to face a Burma Road of a schedule thanks in part to the rescheduling of the Texas game last month due to Hurricane Ike. In consecutive games against then-No. 9 Alabama, then-No. 7 Texas and No. 12 Florida, the Hogs have been outscored 139-31. Next up: at Auburn and at Kentucky.

 Since winning its first eight games under Dennis Erickson last season, Arizona State is 4-6 including a 24-14 loss to Cal on Saturday.

 

 Michigan has 14 touchdowns and 16 turnovers this season.
 
 The lowest scoring winning team in the Big 12 was Kansas with 35 points.

 

 Kentucky has yet to allow a touchdown in the red zone this season.

 

 SEC teams are allowing an average of 17.4 points and 288.4 yards per game. If that holds up, it would be a post-expansion record (since 1992) for the conference.

 

 Missouri beat Nebraska in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1973-74.

 

 A big shout out to the (lack of) Quality Inn in Lincoln. Why even try? I got bitten in the lobby by flies the moment I walked in. Lighting in the room was optional. It gave me a greater appreciation for what O.J. Simpson is going to face in the next 20 years.

 

At least I got to check out.

Posted on: September 24, 2008 1:49 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2008 5:40 pm
 

National notes

Time to put Ohio State back in the national championship race. I'm not saying the Bucks will get to South Florida but can we all agree they might be as strong as they've ever been this season?

Terrelle Pryor has been installed as the quarterback starter. Beanie Wells is back at tailback for the Big Ten opener against Minnesota. The Big Ten race, and Big Ten, just got a whole lot more interesting. It's a four-team race, at least, between Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Penn State.


When some dope asked if Pryor was now the starter after throwing four touchdown passes against Troy, Jim Tressel said: "Weren't you at the game?"

 OK, so there's a blackout at Georgia for the Alabama game. Why did Mark Richt tell everyone? There's a great story from last year when Richt the players kept the blackout secret until busting them out for the Auburn game.

 

"I had the seniors at my house before the season starts," Richt said. "They're saying, 'Coach, when are we going to get black jerseys?' I closed every door in my house and said, 'Can ya'll keep a secret? The Auburn game, we're going to wear them. But look, man, if everybody finds out it won't be that big a deal,' ...

"We get to Monday of the Auburn game. They're like, 'Coach, coach we need to get the fans to (know about) the blackout.' I said, 'No, you're giving it away.'

"Rumors kept flaring. Then one (reporter) point blanks me, 'Are you or are you not wearing black jerseys for the Auburn game? ...

"So I'm telling the equipment guy, 'When the lights go out get the jerseys laid out at their seats ... I'm in the coaches lockerroom changing and the place erupted. It was so unbelievable how excited they got. I heard guys screaming. I saw guys with tears in their eyes. It was like a sauna in there, just the body heat.

"There was so much electricity in the stadium that day. I told the guys at the end, it did look cool ... It's hard to let go of that."

Georgia won 45-20.

 Urban Meyer showed prescience when he said before the 2006 season that the new clock rules were a joke. College football went on to lose 13 plays per game and the game suffered.

 

Meyer railed again this week against the 40/25-second clock that has been largely responsible for the loss of seven total plays per game so far this season.

"I'm not a fan of the clock rule," Meyer said this week. "I think it's wrong. I think they're cheating the fans - more importantly, the players."

Florida ran a season low 54 plays Saturday against Tennessee. That will be comforting to the Vols. At least the Gators were efficient in blowing them out.

Meyer said only 46 of his team's plays were "competitive", meaning he didn't count punts, field goals, etc.

The 40/25 clock can be massaged, though. Since Oklahoma has gone to the no-huddle, it has gained nine plays per game (from 70 to 79).

Strangely enough, the state of Oregon knows how to use the clock. Oregon is No. 1 (83.75 plays per game) followed by Nevada (83.3) and Oregon State (80.3).

 Two years ago USC went on its little "streak" losing to three times to inferior opponents in two seasons. It started with a 33-31 loss at Oregon State when John David Booty got a pass blocked while throwing to Dwayne Jarrett for a two-point conversion.

 

I'm still wondering how Booty had a pass blocked at the line of scrimmage throwing a stop fade in the end zone to Dwayne Jarrett, one of the tallest receivers in ball at the time.

Anyway, those days are over, right? The points is, USC should be on alert opening the Pac-10 season Thursday back at Oregon State.

 Not much more to be said about Tennessee except that a 2-4 start looks likely. The Vols play at Auburn this week followed by games against Northern Illinois and at Georgia.

 

Arizona State (2-2) is Tennessee West. With games coming up at Cal, at USC and at home against Oregon, the Devils could start 2-5.

 Fourteen teams are currently 4-0, only six of them have ever won a national championship (TCU, Alabama, Georgia, BYU, Penn State, Minnesota). Maybe more surprising, five of the 14 are from West of the Mississippi (Missouri, Texas Tech, Utah, BYU, TCU).

 

 San Diego State coach Chuck Long on the difference between I-AA Cal Poly and Notre Dame.

 

"The way we played both there wasn't much difference," he said.

The Aztecs (0-3) lost to both the Mustangs and Irish in back-to-back weeks.

 Make sure you view this video on an empty stomach. This is how Texas lost tight end Blaine Irby for the season with a dislocated kneecap.

 

 Maybe it's just me but it seems that certain schools should never, ever be in need of a quality quarterback. Why can't these three programs find a consistent signal caller?

 

Florida State:  Tied for sixth-worst nationally with five interceptions. No. 55 in pass efficiency.
Cal:  Tied for 68th nationally and fifth in Pac-10 in sacks allowed.
Auburn:  Second-worst in the SEC and 95th nationally in pass efficiency.

--Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has a myspace page which shouldn't surprise any of us.

On it you can learn the 47-year-old Leach enjoys "football, throwing stuff and pirate history". Listed among his friends are Urban Meyer and Bobby Bowden. He lists his income as "$250,000 and higher."

Away from the keyboard, Leach sounds like he is seriously considering Tech student Matt Williams as a walk-on kicker. Williams won a year's free rent at an apartment complex after booting a 30-yard field goal between the third and fourth quarters of Saturday's win over Massachusetts.


 “Very impressive kick, and maybe I’ll get to see him again because we’re always looking for depth at kicker,” Leach said after the game. “We have a tradition of walk-on kickers rising to the top."


 More BYU:

Bronco Mendenhall on being a defensive coach in this offensive age: "Most of the time defenses aren't as glamorous. Schools hire offensive coaches possibly to make themselves look better in the hiring process and please fans.  Sometimes offensive names are more attractive."

Draft guru Gil Brandt on the BYU "system":  "I think they had a system that was advanced from whatever anybody else had. When the wishbone came in, people were trying to stop the wishbone and didn't have the right people for it. Then all of the sudden they found out how to stop the wishbone.

"That never caught up with them at BYU. They attracted quarterbacks who were made out to be better than they were because they were in this really good system.  I think this team has better players (than the previous BYU great teams)."

FYI: BYU is No. 11 this week.  It was No. 8 four weeks into the season when it won its national championship. It debuted at No. 13 in the first regular-season AP poll and got to No. 1 in the Nov. 19 poll after beating Utah 24-14.

It finished No. 1 in AP after beating Michigan in the Holiday Bowl and No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 South Carolina lost their bowl games.

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 11, 2008 12:36 pm
 

The final word on The $4 Million Dollar Man

Bill Martin is a businessman, a great one judging by his resume. A billion-dollar developer of residential and commercial property, Michigan's AD also founded the Bank of Ann Arbor before moving to the athletic side.

It's hard to figure, then, how Martin ever let it get to this point at Michigan. Columnists with a lot more business acumen than me have been torturing keyboards this week in the analysis of Rich Rodriguez' buyout agreement. See, it isn't an agreement at all. It was a bailout. Michigan is picking up $2.5 million of the $4 million Rich Rod owes West Virginia.

Martin had to know it was going to end this way -- with his coach owing the entire $4 mil and Michigan paying part of the bill. I have questions. Then, below, I have some comments from Rodriguez from a June interview.

--Did Martin, that shrewd businessman, read the court documents? In hindsight, it was a fairly cut-and-dried deal.

--How did he not tell Rodriguez that the coach didn't have much wriggle room on this one? In the end the issue was simple: The coach's name was on the contract agreeing to the buyout.

--Assuming Martin did his due diligence why wasn't this issue addressed before, or shortly before, Rodriguez signed at Michigan? Shoving the two-ton elephant to the corner is the exact same thing Rodriguez did when he signed his last West Virginia contract.

Instead, Rodriguez, West Virginia and Michigan were needlessly dragged through the mud. Obama has handlers to spin things when the presidential candidate dares to deviate from his well-crafted script.
 

Colleges have, well, I've said this for years ... College athletics needs an image consultant. From ham-handed SIDS and public information officers (the overwhelming majority are great people, by the way), to despotic coaches to bankers-turned-AD, the industry knows squat about crisis management. It knows how to let coaches shut down practices. It knows how to limit media access to players whose scholarships are subsidized by the public. It knows how to let a coach chase rainbows in court.

Just being congenial human beings sometimes is a lost art. We long for fall Saturdays and March Madness. We get seat licenses sucking loyal alums dry. We get tuition increases to pay for flat screens in players' lockers. We get ... corporate b.s. There's a situation in Kansas right now involving the university and a local T-shirt maker. Larry Sinks owns JoeCollege.com in Lawrence, Kan. (please, look it up). Kansas contends in a lawsuit that Sinks' is selling unlicensed Kansas gear.

Sinks does not use Kansas trademarks or logos. In fact, the shirts are some of the most devious and creative I've ever seen.

--In reference to overweight coach Mark Mangino: Our Coach is Phat!
--Same reference: Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach
--Transpose the first letters and you'll find out what KU thinks of rival Missouri: Muck Fizzou

Kansas is no different from most schools when it comes to "officially licensed" merch. It is tired, old, over-priced and pretty much sucks. As a longtime consumer of logo gear let me say this: Creativity (and affordability) go out the door when licenses are signed.

The school, obviously, is making a killing on its stuff after winning basketball's national championship. According to Sinks, he is trying to get through life day to day after being slapped with the lawsuit. His storefront on Massachusetts St. in Lawrence is unassuming and modest. But apparently Kansas has determined Sinks has established a lucrative beach head in raiding the school's coffers.

Kansas essentially is trying to say it owns the rights to the color blue and the word "Kansas". The case could be landmark if the jury decides that a shirt with the phrase "If You Mess With The Bird, You Get The Beak," constitutes a licensing violation.

The state itself is named after the Kansa Indian tribe. Using NCAA logic, the school should be barred from wearing anything with the word "Kansas" on it. The NCAA has set arbitrary rules for schools using Indian nicknames. How is Illini "hostile and abusive", as the NCAA put it, and the state name, Illinois, isn't. Both refer to Indian tribes?

How "Seminoles" is less offensive than Indians or Tribe (William and Mary) is a case of palms being greased. The Seminole tribe has a business arrangement with Florida State.

Anyway, back to Rich Rod. Back in June he told me that West Virginia's intent was extend the lawsuit into the fall; not only bleed him dry but distract him from his job. With fall practice looming, it became time for everyone to move on.

Here is Rodriguez' take on the issues taken from that early June interview in Ann Arbor:

 "I was always pushing for things for the program at West Virginia. But that was my job. People say I was petty. I was thinking the other way.

"I was told (by administration), 'Don't worry about (the buyout) ...  We'll reduce it or eliminate it. I don't believe in buyouts.' That's what I was told by the No. 1 boss at the school (president Michael Garrison).

"(I was told), 'We've got to get (the contract) done right now. There's pressure from the governor, to the board to the president.' Maybe I should have had an attorney present. I was getting ready to start practice in a week.

"I probably didn't tell enough in my deposition, how many times I was told, 'Just trust us." That phrase, 'Just trust me,' went on for five or six months.

"I had a meeting with the president before I left. One of the things I said was, 'Here I've been at a place seven years and we've done some pretty good things. You're telling me no to everything. Where there's another school with great tradition, great opportunity telling me, yes.' I said 'I'm getting confused. It should be the other way around.' That was probably the most shocking thing to me, the actions of the president."

Finally, let's end this mega-blog with an anecdote. Shortly after Rodriguez took the Michigan job, his wife Rita was back in West Virginia grocery shopping. A bag boy noticed the Michigan plates while taking the groceries to her car.

"When you go back to Michigan, tell that guy Rodriguez, 'Blah, blah, blah,' Rodriguez quoted the bag boy as saying.

"That's my husband," Rita Rodriguez said.

"Why did he leave?" the bagger replied.

After relaying the story, Rodriguez leaned back and said, "It's time to move on."

Consider that the last words on the subject. Aren't you ready for some football, Michigan?

 

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