||wPride Of The Fall
||If Baseball is America's Pastime, Football is its Heartbeat.
One of the few things that Bob Davie did right during his tenure at Notre Dame was recruiting QB Carlyle Holiday from San Antonio Roosevelt HS in 1999, overcoming the recruiting awe of Nebraska in order to secure his arrival. Holiday's athletic talent figures prominently in the golden domers' 3-0 start under new headman Ty Willingham. The win over pretender Maryland was a given, and the victory over Purdue was predictable given the Boilermakers' inferiority complex vis-a-vis UND. The win over erstwhile #7 Michigan both exposed the Wolverines' evidently overrated status and increased Holiday's profile as the leader for the Fighting Irish. Even though Holiday is an option quarterback, he has the athletic skills necessary to successfully adapt to the West Coast offense Willingham brought in from Stanford. Notre Dame is in a position to go 4-0 after this Saturday's game against Michigan State. State was possibly even more overrated than its rival in Ann Arbor after getting pasted by Cal last week. However, Florida State, BC, and Stanford lie in waiting for the Irish.
A team that is really in trouble is Nebraska. Headman Frank Solich has been terrible in away games -- losing in 1998 to Texas A&M in College Station and Kansas State in Manhattan, 1999 losing to Texas in Austin, 2000 losing to K-State and OU in Manhattan and Norman, and then infamously falling to Colorado 62-36 in Boulder in 2001. Saturday's 40-7 debacle against Penn State in Happy Valley, PA exposed Nebraska's traditional weaknesses -- an inability to throw the ball, and an inability to play hard against serious nonconference opponents. Nebraska's remaining schedule includes away games at Texas A&M, K-State, and the fiesty Iowa State Cyclones, and home games against Texas and Colorado. The Cornuskers' defense must get some help from the bewildered O, led by highly touted Jamall Lord. If Solich loses more than 3 games this year, I predict that he will get fired.
I See Maroon
On the day of Maroon Madness, Virginia Tech is a legit national threat coming into Saturday's tilt against Texas A&M. The key matchup in College Station will be A&M's Wrecking Crew Defense against VA Tech's superb running attack led by sophomore Kevin Jones and senior Lee Suggs, who is looking smashing after last season's torn ACL injury kept him out for 11 games in 2001. The Aggie LB corps, led by Jarrod Penright and Brian "Take A" Gamble, must couple their traditional pass-rushing role with sturdy hole plugging at the line of scrimmage. A&M's offense must play minimally well in order to get the job done. Freshman QB Reggie McNeil could get some serious action if Dustin Long "Gone" and Mark "Interception!" Farris falter at the outset.
And a Griese Shall Lead Them?
Broncos Correspondent Livy Keithley (C'98) talks about the surprising 2-0 start, keyed by the efficient play of Brian Griese "Lightning". The 24-7 win over San Francisco shows that Week 1's triumph over the St. Louis Rams was no joke.
"BroncoBeat, Week 2
Rockin' the Casbah...
One of the sports reporters on the local stations
put it directly on-point tonight, saying, "Before
the season began, the two best teams in the NFC were
supposed to be the Rams and the 49ers; the Broncos
have beat them both." Although play was quite
sophomoric at times, the final score of 24-14 says it
The Broncos defense is DEFINITELY one of the top,
if not THE top, in the league. The offense...well,
let's just say we have yet to see their true
brilliant colors, and we're still 2-0. Griese is just
now coming into his own - its been 3+ years since the
Broncos had so many serious air targets, and so
many versatile ground weapons, all healthy and ready
to play. Even when the 49ers were cheating by
"interfering" with the Broncos' radio signals, we still
held them to only 7 points in the first half.
Its kind of like watching the first couple rounds
of the US Open...you see the Andy Roddicks and Pete
Samprasas and Andre Agassis win, and only smile,
because you know their best tennis is yet to come..."
Jets Correspondent Sean Mullaney (B'00) pops off on the J-e-t-s Jets, Jets, Jets' 44-7 dismemberment at the hands of reigining Super Bowl champion New England:
"Zo, I'm in a really bad mood. Pulling stuff from the NY newspapers on the Jets game really got me going. Do you remember Jim Mora's last game as Saints coach back in '96? To quote him, "We didn't do diddy poo..." and on with the tirade. Homer Simpson might say that the Jets were the suckiest suckers that ever sucked."
Sean was nice enough to plug us a link describing the coaching genius of P-Men leader Bill Belichick, he who developed the base defensive package that grounded the Rams' 100 yards of circus offense in the Super Bowl back in January.
Lorenzo at 9/18/2002 11:40:00 PM
Much ado about a lot today in Pride of the Fall. Right now I am watching Marshall get pummelled by a superb Virginia Tech team, which travels to College Station, TX next week for a showdown against Texas A&M. Should be a fun game, that night of Maroon Madness.
Who's Going to Run Your Wild Horses?
Resolute in his support of post-hangover Bronc QB Brian Griese "Lightning", Denver Broncos' Correspondent and Colorado U Law student Livy Keithley (C'98) gives us the weekly roundup for the men in blue and orange, this week telling us about the Broncs' "and the blood and the steel and the mud" 16-13 win over the St. Louis Rams:
"Broncos Beat, Week 1:
Nay, though you walk through the Valley of the AFC
West, you shall fear no Raiders, for Griese art
I must admit, even the most faithful here in Denver
were impressed by the Donkeys this weekend. The
most amazing thing, really, was well-put by Kenoy
Kennedy after the game: "we didn't even play our best
out there." Although the media likes to push the
Griese-almost-got-bagged story, it was a non-story.
Griese was playing okay. The first INT wasn't his
fault, and the second INT was every bit as ballsy
as the touchdown pass 3 minutes later. Watch the
tape, he thought he was good enough to thread the
ball between 2 defenders - although he was only 1 for
2 on the thread, we only remember the second (a TD
with Eddie McCaffrey).
Frankly, I couldn't tell you how the next few weeks
will go. The League as a whole was such a farce on
week 1, it's hard to tell who will do what.
Cowboys LOSE to the Texans? I knew they were bad, but
they aren't THAT bad. Cleveland lose with no time
because of a loose helmet? Give me a break...
Next week, the shake-out will continue...but the
Mile High Burro Club will pack their way to the top
of the heap yet again..."
Here is Jets Correspondent Sean Mullaney's (B'00) take on Super Bowl projections:
"The Super Bowl Champion the previous three seasons did NOT play on Monday Night Football that season. While if this holds true this year the teams with the best chances from where I sit are (in this order) Cleveland, Atlanta, Kansas City and Cinncinati, it would almost too predictable for a non-MNF team to win a fourth year in a row. So how about this: The Super Bowl Champion this year will be from the seven teams that only have one Monday night game. Here they are:
New York Giants
New York Jets
I think this could happen. The Jets, Colts and Titans (in that order) are probably the best picks. Washington and Baltimore will be horrible, and Seattle is in too tough a division. While I think the Giants will play hard all year, they probably don't have the talent to do it. So if one of these seven teams gets a ring, you've heard it here first."
Never tell me the odds!
Giants' Correspondent Pete Renz (C'00) sends us this revealing article linking football to the numbers of economic decisionmaking. Compelling stuff, dudes:
"Article: Strategies on Fourth Down, From a Mathematical Point of View
by Virginia Postrel, from the NYTimes:
FOOTBALL season has begun, and in stadiums, sports bars and living rooms across the land fans are asking the same question: "It's fourth down and what does the Bellman equation say?"
Or at least one fan is asking.
That's the title of a recent working paper by David Romer, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, for the National Bureau of Economic Research. (The paper is available, for $5, at www.nber.org/papers/w9024 .)
The paper uses the mathematical technique of dynamic programming — the Bellman equation, named for Richard Bellman, a mathematician who died in 1984, is a central tool of the technique — to analyze the value of different football strategies on fourth down. Given its field position, should a team punt, kick a field goal or go for the first down?
Consider a team that is just 2 yards away from a touchdown. Listening to a game on the radio, Professor Romer heard the commentators say the team should obviously take the easy 3 points from a field goal. "It wasn't obvious to me that it was the right decision," he said.
First he thought about the odds. If the team has a better than three-in-seven chance of scoring a touchdown — and the all but certain extra point — going for the touchdown has a higher expected value than kicking.
For an average National Football League team, the probability of a touchdown from 2 yards out is about 40 percent, making an attempt worth 2.8 points, or less than a field goal.
But there's more to the question than the probability of a score. "If you go for the touchdown and you don't get it, you've lost the 3 points but you've gotten something back in return," Professor Romer notes. "You've left the other team in this terrible field position," a daunting 98 yards from its goal.
A field goal, by contrast, leads to a kickoff, which on average in the N.F.L. gets the receiving team to the 27-yard line, a much better position. "Thus we need to know how much better it is to leave the opponent with the ball on its 2-yard line than on its 27," he writes.
That's where dynamic programming comes in.
The technique is a way to calculate the value of actions that have effects far into the future. Economists use it to look at things like a household's choice between saving and spending: how much you save rather than consume this year affects what you have to spend and save next year, and what you do then affects the following year, and so on into the future.
For football, points are at stake instead of money, but the mathematical principles are the same.
Using data from about 700 regular-season N.F.L. games, Professor Romer estimated the value in expected future points of getting a first down at each yard line on the field. To keep the analysis relatively simple, he looked just at the first quarter.
By these calculations, the value of a first-and-10 on a team's own 1-yard line, a terrible position 99 yards from a touchdown, is minus 1.6 points. Moving up the field, the value rapidly increases, hitting zero at the 15-yard line. From there on, each gain of 18 yards is worth about a point in the final score.
The bottom line: Teams tend to overestimate the value of field position, compared with keeping the ball, on their end of the field and underestimate it, compared with the value of a field goal, on the other team's end. When those estimates are corrected, the risks of going for it look a lot lower.
"The analysis implies that teams should be quite aggressive," Professor Romer writes. "A team facing fourth-and-goal is better off on average trying for a touchdown as long as it is within 5 yards of the end zone. At midfield, being within 5 yards of a first down makes going for it on average desirable. Even on its 10-yard line — 90 yards from a score — a team within 3 yards of a first down is better off on average going for it."
But, he said, "teams almost always kick on fourth down early in the game."
This result presents a puzzle for economists. Since football is highly competitive and the rewards for winning are great, teams should be doing what is optimal to win.
"We believe, we teach our students repeatedly, we base our models on the assumption that there are very strong pressures for firms to maximize, for firms to do the best thing," Professor Romer said. "We don't think they know calculus or dynamic programming. We think intelligence, ability in other dimensions, intuition, trial and error, imitation are going to lead, in a competitive marketplace," to the best strategies.
One possibility is that teams are not trying to win above all. "The costs of losing as a result of a failed gamble could be greater than the costs of losing from playing it safe," Professor Romer writes.
Or coaches may not realize they could do better by taking more chances. After all, away from the economists' blackboards, real companies constantly discover new and better ways to operate, some of which are made possible by better data and computing power.
Recently, for instance, retailers have begun using mathematical models to figure out when to put clothes on sale, something that used to be done by intuition and rules of thumb. Profits have increased substantially in some cases.
Football could be similar. If so, Professor Romer's paper could begin to change fourth-down strategies. But he'll have to overcome professional skepticism.
"If a football coach called me and said, `I have a new way to deal with the Social Security problem,' " he said, "my first reaction would be not, `Oh boy, someone solved this difficult problem.' My first reaction would be, `They're not qualified to talk about this. Who are they to think that they've solved this?' "
Which prompted Cowboys' Correspondent and American U. Law Student Simon Torres (F'00) to answer:
"Awesome find, Peter. I love the NY Times, but
sometimes they are too
wacked-out even for me.
I take from this that:
a) someone at Berkeley has too much time on their
hands. Reload the bong,
b) football and economics are the driving forces in
this country. I can't
stress that enough."
I'm not going to argue about that.
Saturday Michigan and Notre Dame square off in the Battle of the Fight Songs. More info later!
Lorenzo at 9/12/2002 10:59:00 PM
A lot of fans were caught up in the emotion that was the opening weekend of the National. Football. League. The completion of the NFL's opening weekend was perhaps the most calamitous in the entire history of professional football. The Jets scored on 2 kickoff returns to obliterate Buffalo's wagons. Multiple overtime finishes, a heart-stopping debacle in Cleveland thanks to the helmet-throwing antics of linebacker D. Rudd, and a most unfortunate start for the Dallas Cowboys, who fell 19-10 to the hated Houston Texans in the latter's first regular-season game.
The Texans' plan was to ride the creaming wave of momentum of playing in Reliant Field and soar to victory. Unfortunately, the Cowboys were bombshelled by both the Texans' "offense" and the relentless defensive pressure on QB Quincy "the Answer?" Carter. There were few bright spots -- the snarling play of Le'Roi Glover and the sure hands of rookie wideout Antonio Bryant. It didn't help that the ESPN crew of Dan Patrick, that punter guy whose name I forgot, and Joe Notre-Dame-Changed-My-Name-To-Be-Cute did its best to perform the sports broadcasting equivalent of "not sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky" in Houston. You'd have thought the Texans had 5 Super Bowl trophies already in the case.
Just because I'm bored and beyond furious, I'm going to be everybody's Chris Mortenson and predict that Bob Stoops will leave OU for the Cowboys.
Here are some choice quotes from the readership:
Cowboys' Correspondent Simon Torres (F'00):
"Listen, it was a tough and unnecessary loss. It's
one game, though, and a
game that most teams in the league would have been
hard-pressed to win
going away given how fired up Houston and their
fans were and the state of
most teams, which is mediocre. The one good thing
that I can take from it
is that Dallas really beat themselves. I think
this is less about talent
(except at QB...the drought continues) than it is
about making mistakes
that for the most part can be corrected. Watching
Dallas all preseason, I
can tell you they are better than they looked last
night. Can they beat
half the teams in the league? Yep. Will they?
Lord knows. I think they
can beat TN in Dallas. The other two? Less likely.
We'll see how shit
shakes out by the time the underwhelming G-men come
Giants' Correspondent Peter Renz (C'00):
"3 weeks? this is going to be over in 1! quincy, hit
the showers! You know, the funny thing is i didnt intend to use
that email to be a
"Giants are great, Dallas sucks" type email. but
apparently i hit a nerve.
good thing your dogs are 1500 hundred miles away.
you must be really
disheartened too if your first retort is " don't
they have spellchecker in
email programs?" what next, are you going to attack
my grammer? go for it.
apparently you got more time on your hands than i
thought. as for you
saying that the giants played as poorly as the
cowboys did last night, well
i think you had a few TOO many beers thursday if
you are going to make that
comparison. after week one, i still believe the
giants can go 8-8. as for
the cowboys, i would be surprised if they win a
game by the time the giants
come to town in october. if you think you are going
to beat TN or the rams
or Phily at their places...i would say that you are
being a little overly
"By the way, disregard everything I say. I am
bitter and angry."
Well, at least Tiffany (F'00) is a pro cheerleader.
Meanwhile, Pride's All That Matters Top 5 rumbled along nicely. The headliner was the Day of Crimson Rage down in Norman, OK, as ATM-#2 Oklahoma scored 2 TDs in the final 2:11 of the game to rally past a probation-slapped but hungry Alabama Crimson Tide by a 37-27 tally. The Tide came out with guns blazing in Norman, opening the game with an onsides-kick and furiously overcoming an early 23-3 deficit with a fake field goal to go up 27-23. However, OU churned out a drive for the ages and forced a decisive turnover to seal the win.
The Duel of the Floridas degenerated from marquee matchup to pitch-and-catch scrimmage, as the ATM-#1 Miami Hurricanes crushed Florida 41-16 at the Swamp in Gainesville, FL. The Canes established a clear line between the nation's best college team and everybody else. The Canes have both the offensive line, running game, clutch receiving, and vital secondary play to overwhelm the nation.
Texas A&M's defense saved the day again for the umpteenth time, holding the Pitt Panthers to 12 points and bagging 8 sacks in a 14-12 win over the Panthers at Heinz "57" Field. Derek "The Hard Workin'" Farmer scored on 2 short TDs for the Ags, who looked really good on defense.
Lorenzo at 9/09/2002 10:52:00 PM
Sean (B'00) gives us a NY Jets capsule!
Everywhere I go these days, everyone seems to ask the same question: “Sean, is the beginning of the 2002 NFL season as big as it seems?” I have only one response for them: “No, the beginning of the NFL season is BIGGER than it seems.” With that in mind, here is my 2002 New York Jets preview, complied with help from my buddies Lomas and Dirty Sanchez. Thanks guys!
Curtis Martin and Wayne Chrebet, of the lengthy contract extensions, are class pros and should play as well as ever. This year the offense will throw more and run less, and explosive WR Santana Moss could make some big plays. If QB Vinny Testaverde stays healthy, he’ll play well. The O-Line, despite losing two quality starters should be fine with J.P. Machado and Kareem McKenzie stepping in.
The biggest improvement is to the D-Line. The additions of #1 pick Bryan Thomas, DE Steve White (Bucs), and DTs Larry Webster (Ravens) and Josh Evans (Titans) gives the Jets quality depth at one of their worst 2001 positions. LB Sam Cowart can be a game changer. The secondary will feature more physical players, including 3 new starters. The main issue for the defense – how fast will it gel with so many new starters?
K John Hall is good enough to hit a game winning 53-yard field goal on the road on grass. ‘Nuff said. P Matt Turk is a big improvement from the aging Tom Tupa. And Santana Moss could make the return game explosive. Coach Mike Westhoff, one of the best in the business, should have the Jets playing well on the return coverage teams.
Herm Edwards enters Year 2 with the Jets. He is a good leader and the players like playing for him. Defensive coordinator Teddy Cottrell is one of the best in the business, but must make sure everyone is on the same page over the first three crucial weeks. Offensive coordinator Paul Hackett took some lumps in 2001. He promises to make have the West Coast Offense throw more. Don’t worry, though, $46 million man Curtis Martin isn’t going anywhere and will get his share of carries.
The Jets have the talent to win 12 games. They also have enough question marks (the O-Line, Secondary, many new faces, health of key players, tough division) to lose 9 games. The first three games (Bills, Pats, Dolphins) will be crucial. Here’s the prediction: Jets 10-6, AFC Wild Card. BTW, the P-Men repeat as division champs, but it will be close." Thanks, Sean!
Before I give this week's take on college football, be sure to read ESPN Magazine's Edgerrin James diary. James, the Colts' starting tailback, gives a devastatingly precise critique of incentive-laden contracts.
Two weeks into the college football season and the big surprise is the ascension of Virginia Tech to the Top 10. Coach Frank Beamer in previous seasons had the Hokies fattening their win column on the Akrons of the world, but last week's 26-8 thrashing of LSU in Blacksburg, coupled with a 63-7 win over Arkansas State in the opener, has the Hokies in the catbird seat. The Hokies' solid play shows that the Michael Vick era of 1999-2000 was no fluke, and that VA Tech can certainly play a role in shaping the overall national picture.
The collapse of Colorado against Colorado State wasn't a "surprise" -- Buffs coach Bennett has lost all of his season openers since he took Ralphie's reins, and each time except for 2000 did the Buffs show considerable improvement. Until CU gets into its Big XII schedule, we won't see how they'll mature. LSU still has an excellent chance to capture both the SEC West and the conference as a whole despite the loss to the Hokies. Beamer's teams are nearly invincible playing at home, and with Marshall, Texas A&M, Miami, and Syracuse on the schedule, the Hokies still need to pass some formidable tests.
The only visible "disappointment" in the Top 25 was Louisville, who fell 22-17 to hated archrival Kentucky and negated the Heisman hopes of QB Dave Ragone. Louisville certainly could still run the tables in Conference USA, but hopes of a BCS bowl and a Heisman disintegrated after an uneven, frenetic performance against one of the SEC's mid-level squads (honestly, the only bottom-tier team in the SEC is Vanderbilt).
This weekend, two monster matchups will help set the tone for the early portion of the season. Alabama, locked down by a 2-year bowl ban for NCAA recruiting violations, travels to Norman to take on the ATM-#2 Sooners. This game will show how Alabama will manage under the strict NCAA sanctions regime and measure how much improvement OU's offense has managed in the offseason and the 37-0 win over Tulsa on Friday night last week. Does pro football offer anything on the impact of Oklahoma-Alabama? Very rarely.
The ATM#1-Hurricanes travel to Gainesville to renew the hatefest with the Florida Gators. Coach Ron Zook's team looked solid in the post-Spurrier era, handing UAB a 51-3 spanking in the Swamp. The Hurricanes, the closest thing in college football to an NFL squad in terms of size, speed, and composure, are an imposing presence and one of the few teams in the college game capable of matching UF's speed on offense. I expect Canes QB Ken Dorsey to have a big game, but who knows?
Lorenzo at 9/04/2002 08:36:00 AM
SPECIAL TO GEORGETOWN ALUMNI:
Georgetown alum Pete Renz (C'00) gives us the lowdown on the GU administration's plans to kill the homecoming festivities and replace them with banality. This is the text of the forwarded letter, originally written by Ted of the Class of 2003:
This letter is meant to update you regarding some issues surrounding
Homecoming 2002, which is slated for Saturday, September 21st, 2002.
Traditionally, SCC is in charge of managing tailgating for Homecoming,
because we're the only on-campus group that can run events with alcohol.
Tailgating has traditionally been in a parking lot area (Lot T),
featuring alums returning in their cars, with their own beer, and
grills, and stereos, and chilling out before the game. However, this
year the administration came to me and said that the following things
were wrong with Homecoming:
1) Everyone gets drunk
2) No one goes to the game
3) The parking lot is a mess afterwards
A variety of ideas were proposed to attempt to curb these three
problems. As of now, it seems like there will be an all-class BBQ on
the Esplanade featuring a beer garden for those who are 21 years old.
Lot T will not be involved.
I personally think this is a bad idea - you can't really take alumni
away from their cars, and mixing an all-class event (frosh there too)
with a drinking event isn't positive. It will be too easy for younger
kids to drink, OSP staff who is carding will be overwhelmed, and the
lines for food and beer will be staggering. In addition, you can't have
your own music or food.
University administration is really behind the idea of a beer truck
(trucks) because they can control the amount people drink, or attempt
to, at least (since SCC members will have to be working the trucks, it
will actually be us controlling how much people drink). Since they seem
to like the truck idea, the current suggestion is as follows:
1) Big BBQ on Harbin Field (where the game is)
2) Door giveaways on Harbin Field (DVD players, etc)
3) Contests, music on the Field
4) Beer trucks in Lot T
5) Drive in your car, have your own stereo, grill, whatever
6) Beers off the truck for $2
7) If you bring your own beer, DPS will be searching for it - not
searching cars, but seeing if people are using 30 packs. If they are,
they would be confiscated...
Since this is a very complex issue, we'd like as much SCC feedback as
possible. In addition, since I am part of the Homecoming planning
Board, if there's anything you want to see at Homecoming - think about
your friend's schools, if possible - please write back and give me
ideas. We're trying to come up with a schedule of events by mid to late
August and want as much feedback as possible from SCC before then.
In addition, if you really think Tailgating should remain the same way
it has been in the past, you may also e-mail one of the following two
Dr. Gonzalez - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Reynolds, Alumni Association - email@example.com
Explain your reasoning in your letter. Hopefully we can assure that
everyone is happy and chilling at Homecoming.
Get ready, it's gonna be a good year."
As pro football continues its evaluation and demonstration phase of its preseason, college football already has treated us to some quality gridiron matchups. Given the extra game allowed by the NCAA this season, some teams will end up playing 15 games this year, based on the early season "classics" and conference championship games.
Jim Thorpe Classic:
On Thursday, Colorado State travelled to Charllotesville to take on the fine men of Mr. Jefferson's University, the UVA Cavaliers. Running back Cecil Sapp and CSU's turnover-happy defense keyed a sturdy CSU attack, overcoming UVA's 3 straight touchdown drives in the second half and stopping redshirt freshman quarterback Marques Hagans by stripping him of the ball at the 1-yard line. The 35-29 victory was a great game to watch. The encouraging sign for Virginia headman Al Groh is that the offense can generate push off the line of scrimmage, especially in hot and unforgiving weather. The offense can produce points frequently, making the team an emerging force in the ACC.
John Thompson Classic:
Last night, Fresno State's 4-turnover showing on offense, coupled with a litany of costly penalties, led to a 23-21 defeat by the #23 Wisconsin Badgers at their homefield in Camp Randall, WI. Badgers tailback Anthony Davis chopped off some large runs, finishing the night with 37 carries for 184 yards. The experienced Wisconsin defense successfully took away the deep pass from new Fresno State quarterback Jeff Grady, who struggled in his first game as a full-time starter. Trying to fill the shoes of Houston Texans QB and Bulldog alum David Carr, Grady either looked nervous or brilliant, as he did toss 3 TD passes. But two interceptions cost the Bulldogs momentum and field position. The biggest loss of the night for Fresno State was standout WR Bernard Berrian, who damaged his knee on a kickoff return.
As these classics roll along, note some prominent features here. The offenses are struggling mightily in the August heat, and the defenses already are utilizing full blitz and coverage packages. Today, #12 Ohio State takes on Texas Tech in Columbus, OH, and #4 Florida State faces off against Iowa State. The Cyclones are led by the lethal Seneca Wallace -- a player who could qualify for all-Big XII honors given his size, elusiveness, and arm strength. Virginia Tech squares off with Arkansas State in Blacksburg on Sunday, Nebraska looks to feast on Arizona State, and New Mexico travels to North Carolina State.
Texas A&M athletic director Wally Groff resigned Friday, citing retirement and staffing concerns for new university President and former CIA director Robert Gates.
"Livy Keithley (C'98) gives us the legal rationale for champion skier Jeremy Bloom, who was also recruited by the Colorado Buffaloes. Bloom hoped to challenge the NCAA in order to keep his endorsement deals that generated from his skiing. Unfortunately, the judge in the case ruled against him. In a surprising turn, Bloom opted to suit up for the Buffs anyway:
Well, the NCAA gets to keep their money-grubbing
dollars, and Jeremy Bloom gets screwed. Yet another
example of why some of the NCAA's rules, while
"well-intentioned," sometimes can result in horribly
Unfortunately, the result was somewhat expected.
Because of the way the American judicial system is
designed, a great amount of deference was given to
the NCAA rule - the judge was not deciding the facts
of this case, he was deciding if the rule itself,
across the board, was unjust. Unfortunately, the
rule prohibiting private payment, in many cases, is
quite important - this just happened to be one of
the few exceptions. Being an exception, then, it was
not enough to get the judge to throw out the rule.
Of course, if the NCAA is smart, they'll take a cue
from the judge's order, where he laments that the
NCAA was not smart enough to issue an exemption for
this particular case. If there is anything people
learn, it's that rules cannot possibly encompass
every situation; enforcing them as if they do only
serves to expose the few holes in a law-abiding
Go Buffs ;-)"
Lorenzo at 8/24/2002 06:43:00 AM
A note about Ole Miss starting quarterback and Manning progeny Eli Manning, son of Archie and brother of Peyton, the Indiannapolis Colts' signal-caller. His Heisman Trophy campaign is interesting in that it is a noncampaign, fueled by Archie himself. When the Ole Miss athletic department was contemplating how to market Eli for his junior season, Archie quite publicly stepped in and clamored against a high-profile operation.
Ostensibly, it is to keep Eli from receiving the pressure that Peyton faced in the 1997 season at Tennessee. With expectations gapingly high, Manning ended up finishing runner-up to Michigan cornerback and current Oakland Raiders star Charles Woodson.
A more probing analysis is that the elder Manning is indeed increasing young Eli's stature by declaring a hands-off policy. By stepping in so decisively on the Rebels' plans, Archie triggered a whirlwind of publicity in an otherwise quiet summer in the college football landscape. This noncampaign-campaign puts Eli in the same sentence with Miami QB Ken Dorsey and Florida QB Rex Grossman, and all of this before Ole Miss even plays a down this season.
Lorenzo at 8/18/2002 10:37:00 PM
Cleveland Browns correspondent Kathy Ellwood (F'00) documents interesting developments with the Cleveland Browns:
"Starting linebacker Jamir Miller (ruptured Achilles tendon) is out for the season. Davis is scrambling players on the team to make sure they can play every position - just in case. Are those the hot topics in the land of Cleve?
I can't get beer after halftime at the stadium anymore. Actually, if it's an afternoon game, then I have until the end of the third quarter. Along with their orange and brown fuzzy caps, Cleveland cops will be carrying out photos of last year's bottle throwing varmints. Insert icing on the cake here: the Browns leadership has also decided that only beer bottles will be prohibited in the stadium, but pop and water bottles are allowed. They say people who drink pop and water are not the problem.
The following items are prohibited from being brought into stadium:
Weapons: No weapons are allowed in the stadium. Possession of a firearm or a weapon is strictly forbidden. Possession of such a weapon will result in immediate confiscation, ejection and possible arrest.
Animals (except assistive animals for people with disabilities)
Any articles of clothing or hats/hard hats with plastic bottles on them (damn!)
Bags or backpacks
Cans, bottles, bottled or boxed liquids
Confetti or glitter
Coolers of any kind, including small soft-pack coolers
Fireworks or missile-like objects
Large camera cases
Noisemaking devices: i.e. bells, bullhorns, whistles, etc.
Sticks, bats or clubs
Tripods or commercial audio recording equipment
Should be an exciting season folks."
Lorenzo at 8/18/2002 10:29:00 PM
All That Matters: The Pride's Top 5
What joy does it provide to know that your team is ranked 16th? What is the difference between #14 and #22? Time? Distance? Exposure? Such is the way with the major college polling apparatuses, uniquely able to tell you who is #1 but forced to arrange deck chairs so everyone has a seat at the table. Limiting my slots to 5 teams keeps the margin for error relatively narrow. Plus, it also hits upon the name and teams that you know the most. This is not meant to discount the teams that I don't put here. Indeed, as Colorado, Fresno State, and LSU proved last year, surprises are not spontaneous, they are created.
This season offers both the fresh and the familiar -- empires resurgent yet established, expectant but surprising. The five baronies that occupy the preseason poll may falter and be replaced by others. However, for now, they have earned a comfortable seeding.
#5 -- TENNESSEE
#4 -- FLORIDA STATE
#3 -- TEXAS
#2 -- OKLAHOMA
#1 -- MIAMI
The Hurricanes stormed to the mythical and Sears-sponsored national championship last season, and this year again field a team that is studded with NFL talent on both sides of the ball. This secures them the top spot, as the men in orange and green ride the ibis, with the wind of their brash predecessors of the 1980s blowing them along. Oklahoma, the 2000 champion, won the huge games against Texas and Kansas State last year, only to buckle to Nebraska and lethargically slip away against Oklahoma State in the season finale. The OU defense seemed to right the ship in the 2002 Cotton Bowl against Arkansas, and headlines this year's squad. Big 12 South rival Texas yearns to return to the pastures of the elite, but so far has flirted with greatness during Mack Brown's tenure as head coach. The offense, led by QB Chris Simms, is one of the nation's best. They can control the vertical through receivers BJ Johnson and Roy Williams, and the horizontal on the legs of RB Cedric Benson. However, the road to the national championship must go through the OU showdown in Dallas and a trip to Lincoln to face a weakened but capable Nebraska squad.
Florida State and Tennessee chafe at disappointing seasons. After an 8-4 "disaster," the 'Noles figure prominently in the ACC race, overloaded with talent and youthful vigor. Tennessee could smell the Roses in the SEC Championship game, but its loss to LSU sent them returning to the familiar orchards of the Citrus Bowl. A crushing dismemberment of Michigan helped rejuvenate enthusiasm, and QB Casey Clausen should have a stellar year.
Yet still others clamor for respect and others must defend what belongs to them. Colorado and Oregon look to play spoiler by simply defending the Big 12 and Pac-10 titles, hardware acquired through hard work and monumental play down the stretch. Virginia Tech seeks to be the antidote to the Miami juggernaut. Nebraska, having suffered the worst sequence of football in the program's history, must regroup in the unforgiving confines of the Big 12 North Division. The Florida Gators, led by new headman Ron Zook, surely can still smell the blood of its SEC rivals in the water.
Here is the silence of the pads. The commentariat offers its opinions on the upcoming season, yet the players have not had their chance to settle the issue on the field. Soon, the aspirants will make their move. And the 5 must survive the onslaught.
Lorenzo at 8/15/2002 03:04:00 PM