One of the more inspiring things to see is those sports media personalities like Craig Sager and Holly Rowe fight different forms of cancer. It’s even better when, in the middle of their job, the athletes or coaches they cover stop and point out that what’s more important is their fight against cancer.
The first full weekend of College Football is in the books (almost) and there are some big takeaways and moments we should visit again and again.
Several schools from the Power 5 conferences lost their opener. Washington State, Kansas lost to FCS schools along with non Power 5 school Wyoming (Portland State, South Dakota State and North Dakota respectively). Colorado, Vanderbilt and Penn State lost to non Power 5 schools.
Penn State’s loss to Temple falls into the historic column. It’s the first time Temple has beaten Penn State since 1941 (39 games) and Penn State gave up 10 sacks. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when Penn State goes into Columbus in October? Yikes.
Other upsets included BYU beating Nebraska on a last second hail-mary in Lincoln. Northwestern manhandled #21 Stanford in what may be the biggest surprise win of the weekend.
Just The Hits
The fact of the matter is that football is a violent sport. It’s part of the reason why we enjoy it. One of those big hits happened on Friday night at Montana State linebacker Mac Bignell leveled Fort Lewis running back PJ Hall.
South Dakota State quarterback Zack Lujan got drilled on a pass play. In fact he got hit so hard his helmet went rolling down the field.
The best may have been the phantom one. Bowling Green defensive lineman Mike Minns lost his shoe and when he realized that he couldn’t get to the sideline before Tennessee would snap the ball, he just fell down and played dead. Classic.
Some people had Arizona State as their dark-horse College Football Playoff team. The odds of that happening now are a little darker as they were beaten by Texas A&M. The man of the hour was A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. He was unblockable and finished with three sacks and eight tackles.
Injuries were big in week one. Arizona loses All Pac 12 linebacker Scooby Wright III to a knee injury but it sounds like he could be back in a month. BYU lost QB Taysom Hill for the season….again. Oregon was looking real good offensively until new QB Vernon Adams took what looked like a cheap shot to the head. He might have a concussion but was on the sidelines at the end of the game. Oregon will need him healthy with a trip to Michigan State looming next week.
Oregon QB Vernon Adams takes a late hit and came up wobbly. Went to locker room. Player who hit him was ejected. pic.twitter.com/h2qPFxDcTr
We posted a blog earlier this called‘College Football Free Agency’. It reflects the trend in college football in which graduate players transfer schools for one last season on the gridiron and one last chance to impress pro scouts. While a player like former Eastern Washington quarterbackVernon Adamshas a lot of experience and success behind him, many transfers -graduate and undergraduate- don’t and end up leaving fan bases crying in their college football alumni mugs.
Everyone wants to think of transfers, in particularly quarterbacks (QB), as the next great QB savior. Just like Troy Aikman did at UCLA or Scott Frost at Nebraska or ever Ryan Mallettat Arkansas. Really everyone wants it to be just like when Russell Wilson transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin and led the Badgers to a Big 10 title and berth in the Rose Bowl. Reality is Aikman, Frost, Mallet and Wilson are more of the exception than the rule. For everyone one of these guys there is a Danny O’Brien, Sam Keller, Robert Marve or some other highly hyped kid who made a fan base believe they had a chance at a conference title.
O’Brien was barely ok at Maryland and then transferred to Wisconsin where the Badger faithful had dreams of another Russell Wilson dancing in their heads. Bottom line, he wasn’t very good. He could never win the QB job and ended up transferring to Catawba. Keller is more known for leading the lawsuit against EA Sports than for his QB play at Nebraska where he transferred to from Arizona State. Marve was highly touted, played at Miami and then moved on to Purdue where he couldn’t stay healthy on some pretty awful Boilermaker teams.
The two most cautionary tales for fans should be those of former #1 recruits Mitch Mustain and Jake Heaps. Mustain started his career at Arkansas but transferred to USC after his freshman year. He played more games in one year at Arkansas than he ever appeared in at three years at USC. Heaps went from BYU to Kansas and then to Miami (he is originally from the Seattle area). He could never lock in a starting job at three different schools despite showing promise his freshman year at BYU.
Players transfer for all kinds of reasons but just because they transferred doesn’t mean they are going to fit in at their new school and lead it to victory. There are more cautionary tales than successful stories. While we’re probably only seeing the beginning of the transfer binge, especially when it comes to graduate transfers, it should go without saying that transfers are not always a saving grace. So for those fans in Eugene, Tallahassee, and Athens, just remember that the odds of this new transfer QB being the next Aikman, Frost or Wilson are pretty far off.
Back in December of 2014 the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) shut down their football program citing money concerns. Now it is back after some $27 million was raised by various sources. How did this happen? Well, it’s not all about money.
Killing an FBS program takes some balls.While money always plays a part it wasn’t the only reason in this case. Fox Sports Tim Brando and his team did some work and laid it out on The Audible podcast last week. Apparently legendary coach Bear Bryant’s son, Paul Bryant Jr, wanted UAB gone. It’s so unbelievable, and so very Southern, that Bryant was allegedly able to get the UAB football program killed off. Brando explains it better than we could ever write it so do yourself a favor and listen to the podcast.
It’s hard enough to be a football program outside of the Power 5. Then to have someone lead a charge against you while you’re trying to be a viable program is like pouring salt in an open wound.
Look at the position that UAB is now in because of this mess; they won’t play football again until maybe 2016, players have left, and it will almost be impossible to recruit anyone of any ability to go there because of what happened. If head coach Bill Clark thought this was a tough job before, well it got even harder.
College football is in a big transition period. There are so many issues facing the sport right now from the debate over paying players to concussions to who should be allowed to play for a National Title. What it doesn’t need is what happened to UAB.
Vernon Adams. It’s ok if you have never heard of him but he is the one causing a major ruckus on the college football landscape. Not because of what he has done the past three seasons at Eastern Washington but because he’s leaving there to play his final season at Oregon.
Adams is a 22 year old from Pasadena, CA. He started at quarterback for three years at Eastern Washington but since he is graduating in May he is taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows him to transfer without having to sit out a year. While Eastern Washington is letting him go they are making it very clear that they do not like the rule. They don’t like it so much that they are barring Adams from using the football facility or working out with his former teammates while he finishes up his degree.
Other coaches at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level are not happy with what this could mean for the future. Montana State coach Rob Ash is among those speaking out against the rule because it makes the FCS seem like a developmental league. The fear is that this could start a trend where fifth year FCS players leave for the big schools like Oregon or a Michigan who get to reap the rewards of a veteran collegiate player.
Transfers are nothing new to collegiate athletics. Players have been doing it for years and it mostly goes unnoticed. When it comes to quarterbacks though, it tends to get a lot attention. Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson left North Carolina State for Wisconsin and promptly led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl. While Wilson’s case was unique (he was essentially told by the NC State coaching staff that future pro Mike Glennon was going to play over him) it now seems that everyone is looking for an experienced QB to step in and lead the team to the promised land. With all of the pressure put on coaches nowadays can you blame them for looking for an experienced QB to step in?
Players always have their reasons for transferring. It’s not fair to Eastern Washington that Adams is transferring but neither would be holding him back because you don’t want him to leave. In the business world there are ‘non competes’ and there is a similar thing in college football too where a coach will put restrictions on where a player can transfer. Eastern Washington could have done this since they play Oregon the first week of the season but it would have been a bad PR move.
Is Adams setting a trend for FCS players? Probably not because too many things have to fall into place for something like this to happen. Are you going to see more situations like this? Sure but it’s no sure fire way to win championships. Remember, Russell Wilson may have led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl but they ended up losing to Oregon.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) killed their football program. They are the first university to do so since 1995 when the University of Pacific in Stockton, California killed theirs. Scary thing is that this may be just the beginning but that may also be a good thing.
Money and college football have become attached at the hip. While some want to pay players others point to how much it costs to run a program and to dress a team on Saturday. Now we are seeing with the UAB case that costs truly do play a factor and that not all of the football programs are going to make it.
Sure the big programs like Texas, Alabama, Notre Dame and others will be fine but the smaller programs like Wyoming, UNLV, and Western Kentucky could face the same fate as UAB. In other words, as the rich get richer the poor get poorer.
Can Wyoming, UNLV and Western Kentucky really compete financially with Texas, Alabama and Notre Dame? Of course not but most aren’t trying to. They will always be second class citizens and everyone knows it. The problem with that is fans and alumni still want to win and winning costs money.
American sports fans don’t like losing. It doesn’t matter if their teams will never win a national title they still want to win. When teams don’t win money stops flowing. If smaller programs can’t stay above water then they will fold just like UAB. That means less kids playing football and for some that may be their only way to get a college education.
It’s not just the players. The coaches and support staff are out of work too. While these are not high paying positions there still jobs. These are by-products but it’s still a major change.
UAB killing their football program isn’t the most important thing in the world or even in the sports landscape for that matter. It is however a sign of things to come though.The smaller football programs are just not economically feasible. There may be some good news in all of this though. A side effect may be something that most college football teams want anyway, big teams playing other big programs.
The game of football is as popular as ever. It’s also receiving more criticism than ever. But on the weekend before Thanksgiving it’s important to recognize that this will be the last time many of these players will ever play the game. On this weekend Harvard hosts Yale for the 131st time and Lehigh takes on Lafayette for the 150th time. Two of the longest running and greatest traditions in all of College Football and the end of a playing career for most.
Unlike most sports, when you’re last organized game ends in football you’re career is done. There may be the occasional throwing around of the football in the backyard but you rarely get an opportunity to strap on the pads, tighten the chin strap, line up and tackle somebody ever again. For some this ends in high school. For others it ends in college and for the rare few it ends on the professional level.
Schools like Harvard, Yale, Lehigh and Lafayette don’t pump out a lot of professional players. These guys do it because they love to play football. For many these games signify the end of a football career. They in all likely hood will never strap on pads again. There are no bowl games or College Football Playoff. They will simply go back to their locker room, take off their pads and hang up their helmet for the final time.
What do they gain by continuing to put their bodies on the line? The opportunity to do something that they love. There is also the camaraderie of their teammates, learning how to be a leader and the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
So when you hunker down for Thanksgiving dinner this week take a moment and give thanks to these young men for going out there week after week for the sheer love of the game.
We take swings at sports networks all the time on this site. However sometimes the sports networks like ESPN or even the much maligned NBC Sports hits a double off of the wall. ESPN has done just that with it’s half hour show called ESPN Film Room.
ESPN Film Room is hosted by Tom Luginbill with Matt Millen or Mike Bellotti helping break down the game film. They focus on a team or two who will play a big game during the upcoming weekend. Then they focus on one or two things that the team does well and why it is so effective.
What’s impressive about this show is it’s simplicity. It’s something that the Jim Louderback at Revision3 figured out a long time ago, find experts in their field and turn them loose. The fact is that Luginbill, Millen and Bellotti could talk football all day and twice on Sunday and never get bored. They have the experience, passion and ability to articulate their point very well which is why this show works.
Now this is hardcore football nerd stuff. You have to want to know the details of the fly sweep or why the read option can put a defensive end in no man’s land. It’s also a get place to learn the fundamentals of the game because they explain things so well. A few weeks ago Millen was explaining gaps and what a numbered technique is. Fundamental stuff but something that an announcer doesn’t have time to explain during a football game.
ESPN Film Room comes on Wednesdays at 3:30pm PST on ESPNU. Why ESPN doesn’t make episodes of segments from the show available online is beyond us. (Probably same reason why they don’t make Gruden’s QB Camp available.) In any event, if you’re a college football junkie or even a fan who wants to know more details about the game then check this out.
Toledo at Cincinnati – 4pm ESPNU: First game of the year for Cincy and Toledo has two under their belt. Should make things a little interesting.
LA Dodgers at SF Giants – 7pm MLB Network: A weekend series of one of the best rivalries in all of sports. Oh, and they are battling for first place in the NL West. Good pitching matchup too.
Oakland A’s at Seattle Mariners – 7pm MLB.TV: The start of a big series in the AL West. Oakland was once the best team in baseball and now they are going to have to battle the King Felix and the Mariners for a playoff spot.
Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders – 8pm NBCSN: Always a great matchup and always a great venue in Seattle.
Saturday Sept. 13th
Aresenal vs Manchester City – 4:45am NBCSN: If you want to watch one soccer match this weekend watch this one.
Syracuse at Central Michigan – 9am ESPNEWS: Central Michigan just manhandled Purdue last weekend. Syracuse could be another Big 5 conference team to go down to the Chippewas.
Georgia at South Carolina – 12:30pm CBS: Always an entertaining matchup.
Tennessee at Oklahoma – 5pm ABC: It’s just nice to see two legendary programs square off in September.
Vancouver Whitecaps at FC Dallas – 5:30pm MLS LIVE: The Western Conference is truly the wild west when it comes to the playoff race. This game will add to the chaos.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at BC Lions – 7pm ESPN3: Winnipeg has lost two straight. BC just lost their starting QB to a shoulder injury. Time for Winnipeg to turn it around?
Sunday Sept. 14th
Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers – 10am FOX: Cam Newton is back for Carolina which means this could be a shootout.
Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers – 1pm FOX: Defending Super Bowl champs have a tall order in the Chargers and the Chargers need to get a win to prevent starting off 0-2.
LA Dodgers at SF Giants – 1pm MLB.TV: Final game of a key series in the race for the NL West. Clayton Kershaw heads to the mound for LA.
Chicago Bears at SF 49ers – 5:30pm NBC: Good matchup for opening night of Levi Stadium.
Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians – 4pm MLB.TV: Stretch run and two teams in playoff contention.
Arizona at UT San Antonio – 5pm FS1: UTSA gave out a beating to Houston last weekend. Then again Arizona put a beating on UNLV too.
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks – 5:30pm NBC: The good – The NFL is back! The bad – it’s the first game and on NBC so this thing may not kick off until 6pm (remember last year when Ryan Seacrest was on the field? No? Let’s remind you.)
Friday Sept. 5th
SF Giants at Detroit Tigers – 4pm MLB.TV: Why this series is happening so late in the year is beyond reason.
KC Royals at NY Yankees – 4pm MLB.TV: Another series with possible playoff teams squaring off.
Pittsburgh at Boston College – 4pm ESPN: Friday night ACC matchup between two hard nosed teams.
Washington St at Nevada – 7:30pm ESPN: The Cougars Air Raid visits the home of the Pistol offense. This means points a plenty.
Saturday Sept. 6th
SF Giants at Detroit Tigers – 10am FOX: Great pitching matchup with Bumgarner going for the Giants and Price for the Tigers.
USC at Stanford -12:30pm ABC: Awesome to have such a big conference game this early in the season.
Michigan St at Oregon – 3:30pm FOX: Probably the best out of conference game you will see this year. And a lot of green.
Sporting KC at NY Red Bulls – 4:30pm NBCSN: The Red Bulls need this one bad.
Michigan at Notre Dame – 4:30pm NBC: Worth watching because it is the last game between these schools for a while.
Virginia Tech at Ohio State – 5pm ESPN: This could be really close or an absolute blowout.
San Diego State at North Carolina – 5pm ESPNEWS: Carolina didn’t look all that great last week and the Aztecs have a tendency of scaring the daylights out of their big name opponents.
DC United at Vancouver WhiteCaps – 7pm MLS LIVE: The Caps need three points if they want to get back into the playoff picture.
Sunday Sept. 7th
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons – 10am FOX: Big time battle in the NFC South. Remember, no one has ever won the NFC South two years in a row.
Washington at Houston Texans – 10am FOX: Watch for the sheer entertainment value as RGIII runs for his life from JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
SF 49ers at Dallas Cowboys – 1:25pm FOX: So many questions like ‘How many INT’S’ will Romo throw?’ or ‘Who is actually on the 49ers defense now after the injuries and suspensions?’
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: Peyton Manning has to find new people to throw to and Andrew Luck is the modern day version of ‘Captain Comeback’.