Tag Archives: college football

It’s official: I will ignore the return to ‘business as usual’

I am in dire need of a haircut. I miss cutting into a medium-rare steak at a nice restaurant. I want to return to the gym and to my daily workout regimen.

All of that is going to wait for the foreseeable future, no matter what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declares as he seeks to reopen the state for business.

He said hair salons are back in business. Gyms will reopen in a few days. Restaurants have been open for a few days now, although the governor ordered ’em to operate at 25 percent of capacity.

Fine. Go for it, y’all. I am staying away. I do not like seeing the news about infection and death rates continuing to climb in Texas, and in North Texas, where I live along with some members of my family. The picture isn’t any prettier in the Panhandle, where the rest of my family and many of our friends reside.

I haven’t checked in on the Golden Triangle, where my wife and I still have many dear friends.

From what I have read, polling suggests most Texans and other Americans believe as I do, that governors are acting too hastily to reopen their states. They are putting too much emphasis on the economy and not enough of it on the health of the people they represent.

Gov. Abbott has moved too quickly to suit my sensibilities. I am glad he had the good sense to close Texas public school classrooms for the rest of the academic year.

And what in the world is going on with our Texas public universities? They want to return to in-person classwork this fall. I’m OK with that … but Texas A&M, the University of Texas and Texas Tech University systems plan to play football. Are they going to play those games in empty stadiums? Yeah … good luck with that.

You may count me as one Texas resident who wants to see a substantial and recurring decline in the infection and death rates before I make my return to what we used to think of as “normal.”

Hey, maybe I can make a fashionably late entrance.

For now? I am out.

He’s got it wrong: student-athletes already ‘get paid’

I believe Kyler Murray is a fine young man, apart from his being a first-class quarterback for the University of Oklahoma who has just been named the latest winner of the Heisman Trophy, signifying that he is the best college football player in America.

However, the young man is mistaken when he says college athletes should be paid.

Murray said this: “I feel like we bring in a lot of money to the universities … we put in a lot of work. Some guys don’t have enough money to bring their families to the games … so I feel like athletes should be compensated for it.”

Murray is far from the first person to make the argument. I just believe he is as mistaken and misguided as all the others who have said the same thing.

Already paid

Where do I begin?

I’ll start here. Student-athletes already are “compensated” for their efforts. Granted, they don’t receive weekly paychecks, but many of them get a free college education in the form of full-ride scholarships.

I consider that a form of payment. Think about the ramifications. Student-athletes are allowed to receive a free education that presumably prepares them for life after their playing days are over. To suggest, therefore, that these athletes should become “professional athletes” defies the very principle of providing scholarships that help them fulfill the “student” portion of the term “student-athlete.”

Whether a student-athlete cracks the books and actually studies when he or she is not blocking/tackling/throwing TDs, or shooting hoops or hitting home runs is up to the student.

If they don’t cut it in the classroom, they ought to become academically ineligible to participate in whatever sport for which they are being “paid.”

How do you ‘prepare’ for NFL draft?

I do not understand this development, so someone might have to explain it to me.

Will Grier, a top flight quarterback for West Virginia University is the latest top-tier athlete to forgo a football bowl game to “prepare for the National Football League draft.”

Let’s ponder that for a moment. The Mountaineers are going to play a game against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl.

Grier received a scholarship to play football in Morgantown, W.Va. The school paid for his education. The school’s fans packed the stadium to watch Grier play QB. So now he wants to exhibit his loyalty to the school by skipping the team’s final game of the year?

To prepare for the NFL draft? What in the world do these guys do to prep for a draft? Spare me the excuse that they are seeking to prevent career-ending injury; that event could happen at any time of the year.

Royce Freeman, a running back at Oregon, stiffed the Ducks a year ago. So did Christian McCaffrey at Stanford a couple of years before that. These high-profile athletes occasionally bail on their schools to, um, get ready to be drafted.

I keep circling back to a series of questions: What in the world do these fellows do to prepare to have their name called as a member of an NFL franchise? Do they run wind sprints in their front yard? Do they practice blocking and tackling in the garage? Do they, um, memorize play books?

Moreover, is there no more loyalty to the schools that shell out good money to pay for their education?

Portland State vs. Oregon: Oh, the quandary

You might be aware from this blog that occasionally I have written about University of Oregon football. The Ducks ascended to NCAA gridiron elite status, only to fall dramatically two seasons ago.

They went from heroes to zeroes virtually overnight.

I didn’t attend Oregon. I attended Portland State University, in the downtown district of my hometown of Portland, Ore. However, since the Ducks were winning a lot of football games and twice played for the national collegiate championship — losing to Auburn in 2011 and Ohio State in 2015 — I have become a Ducks fan. Hey, I’ll cop to being somewhat of a fair-weather fan.

Now, though, comes the quandary. Portland State’s Vikings — who compete on the Division I-AA level — are traveling 100 miles down Interstate 5 to Eugene next Saturday to play the Ducks.

What do I do? I know. I’ll root for the Vikings, understanding that they likely are going to get clobbered by the Ducks, who are showing some signs of life after a miserable season and then a rebuilding year in 2017. The Ducks have a new coach, Mario Cristobal, who went to Eugene as an assistant to one-and-done head coach Willie Taggart, who left Oregon after a single season to return to his home state of Florida to coach Florida State University.

But dang! I would love to see Portland State score an upset. Is it impossible? I direct you to what Appalachian State did to the University of Michigan, in the Big House in Ann Arbor, just a few years back. ASU on Sept. 1, 2007 handed the Wolverines the upset of the ages before a crowd of 109,000 stunned and shocked Michigan fans.

As the saying goes: That’s why they play the game.

Feeling a friend’s bowl game ‘pain’

A friend of mine, a native Texan, posted this message on Facebook the other day:

If you want to know the extent to which college football has strayed from the primrose path I thought would never end, here’s this year’s Cotton Bowl match up:
1. Neither team from Texas
2. Neither team from the old Southwest Conference.
3. Neither from even the Big 12.
4. Cotton not grown anywhere near these two universities.
5. Game no longer on New Year’s Day.

What’s our sports world coming to?

I feel his pain. The Cotton Bowl matchup this year features the University of Southern California vs. The Ohio State University.

It strikes me that the Cotton Bowl will involve teams that used to play exclusively in the Rose Bowl, which used to invite  the champions from the Big 10 to play the champs of the Pac 12.

And … speaking of the Rose Bowl — the game I watch with great interest, given that I grew up on the Pacific Coast — has an, um, interesting matchup as well.

The University of Georgia will play tackle football against the University of Oklahoma. Georgia comes from the Southeastern Conference; Oklahoma hails from the Big 12.

There’s a glimmer of good news to report. At least the Rose Bowl will be played on New Year’s Day.

But I get my friend’s angst over the jumbling of these bowl dates and the matchups that have not a damn thing to do with intercollegiate football tradition.

There’s no loyalty anywhere these days

Loyalty, shmoyalty …

I’m going to rant briefly about a college football coaching change that just chaps my hide.

It occurred out yonder in Eugene, in the state of my birth, Oregon. Willie Taggart signed on a year ago to coach the Oregon Ducks, which plunged from college football elite status to doormat in the span of one season.

The university fired head coach Mark Helfrich and brought in Taggart, who had coached at the University of South Florida. Coach Taggart didn’t exactly return the Ducks to elite status in his only season, but he did coach the team to a 7-5 record and an upcoming bowl game in Las Vegas against Boise State.

Then it happened. Jimbo Fisher was hired to coach Texas A&M, leaving an opening at Florida State, which in the state of Taggart’s birth. FSU called the first-year Oregon coach, offered him a lot of money … and then it happened.

Taggart took the FSU money and ran back to Florida.

One and out. Taggart moved his young family all the way from Florida to Oregon. Now he’s moving them all the way back.

I’m not angry that Taggart went for the bigger money; hey, he wasn’t getting paid chump change in Eugene. I’m angry — as a diehard Ducks fan — that he couldn’t commit to rebuilding a once-premier football program.

Coach Taggart broke a lot of Oregon Ducks fans’ hearts when he skedaddled back to Florida. Mine is one of them. I didn’t play ball at Oregon; I didn’t even attend college there. I am just a native Oregonian who had high hopes that this coach would lead this team back to the level of success it had enjoyed over the past decade.

It’s a sign of the times. Companies have no loyalty to employees who dedicate their careers to the folks who pay them. Neither do employees have loyalty to their employers. When the employee — in this case a top-dollar football coach — decides to bail, his departure affects young student-athletes who commit their own future to a man who’s no longer around.

Loyalty? Hah!

Hey, let’s settle down in Aggieland

One game does not a college football season make.

Listen up, Texas A&M University football fans — and at least one regent. The Aggies’ epic meltdown this past weekend in Los Angeles against UCLA shouldn’t by itself spell the end of head coach Kevin Sumlin’s tenure.

A&M System Regent Tony Buzbee, a Houston lawyer, has posted a demand on Facebook that Sumlin get the axe.

I don’t know all that much about football. I have no idea how much Buzbee knows. Maybe he’s a gridiron guru in disguise.

The Aggies were leading the Bruins by 34 points. Then the Bruins stormed back. UCLA won the game 45-44. The Aggies and their fans/boosters are understandably stunned and staggered.

Buzbee posted this on Facebook:

“But tonight I am very disappointed and I have to say this. Kevin Sumlin was out-coached tonight, which isn’t new. He recruits well, but can’t coach the big games, or the close games. Our players were better tonight. Our players were more talented tonight. But our coaches were dominated on national TV, yet again. I’m only one vote on the Board of Regents but when the time comes my vote will be that Kevin Sumlin needs to GO.

“In my view he should go now. We owe it to our school and our players. We can do better.”

I will stipulate that I am not an Aggie. I didn’t attend college in Texas. I have no dog in this fight. I don’t follow Texas college football all that closely. My own gridiron loyalty lies way up yonder, in Oregon, my home state and where I attended college. I’ve been cheering — and of late jeering — the Oregon Ducks for many years.

Buzbee, though, got his undergrad degree at Texas A&M. So he feels it, man.

I’ll conclude with this: If the Aggies choke again in their next game or in the game after that, then I’d be willing to listen to gripes about Coach Sumlin. Until then, let the man do his job and let the student-athletes play their hearts out for him.

Manziel vows sobriety … just do it, young man

johnny-manziel

“Johnny Football” Manziel has told TMZ he’s going to be “completely sober” by July 1.

That’s tomorrow.

I want to offer the young man a bit of unsolicited advice.

“Tomorrow” never comes when you place a deadline such as that on yourself.

The one-time Texas A&M University football great and former Heisman Trophy winner has been on a horrendous spiral that has ruined his professional football career.

Worse, it is ruining his life.

I am pulling hard for Manziel to pull his head out of whichever body cavity he has inserted it. I want him to succeed in life. Whether he’s able to regain his athletic form would be an added plus.

However, allow me this one final bit of advice.

I once smoked cigarettes like a freight train. Two-plus packs a day, man. How did I quit the weeds? I wadded them up and tossed them into the garbage.

I quit cold turkey … on the spot. That was more than 36 years ago.

I didn’t wait for “tomorrow.”

One does not put such artificial deadlines on ending bad behavior.

If the young athlete intends to sober up, he’d better just act immediately on his intentions and not wait for the sun to rise the next day.

Too many celebrities have learned in the worst way possible that the sun might not shine.

Army, Navy players all on the same team

army navy

Do you ever hear something and then wish you could remember later precisely who said it?

Such a thing happened today to me while watching the pre-games show prior to the annual Army-Navy college football game.

Navy won for the 14th straight year against Army by a score of 21-17 — to my chagrin. When I was a boy, I rooted for Navy. Why? Dad saw plenty of combat while serving in the Navy during World War II. He cheered for Navy; therefore, so did I. That all changed in the summer of 1968 when I was inducted into the Army. Then I became an Army football fan.

During today’s pre-game show, one of the players — I think it was an Army guy — who said the game is special in this regard: All the young men, the Army cadets and the midshipmen, shared a common mission, which is to defend the nation. They’ll do that when they graduate from their respective service academies, receive their commissions and then serve their nation during this perilous time.

Another young man noted that it is the “only game where all the players are willing to lay down their lives for everyone watching it.”

How true. How profound. How difficult it becomes, therefore, to worry too much about who wins or loses a football game.

Each of these young men — and all the young men and women at all the service academies — are special.

Winning a football game? No big deal. Quite soon, many of them will be fighting for something much bigger and more important to all of us.

 

Ratings tank for Democratic debate … who knew?

debate stage

Why is anyone surprised that the TV ratings for the Democratic Party presidential debate headed for the tank?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley duked it out in Des Moines, Iowa. CBS carried it and by many accounts, the big winner of the event was John Dickerson, host of “Face the Nation” and the moderator of the debate.

I’ll offer a couple of theories on the ratings tumble.

First, the identity of the eventual Democratic nominee is pretty well known. It’s likely to be Clinton, the former first lady/U.S. senator/secretary of state. She stumbled a couple of times in Des Moines, but she did very little to harm her status as the prohibitive favorite to face whomever the Republicans nominate next summer.

Second, and this is probably the more telling reason, the debate was up against some late-night college football games.

I hate to acknowledge this, but a football game between two competitive teams is far more exciting than watching three politicians try to out-insult each other.

(A point of personal privilege here: I was in and out of the debate, tuning in finally to the final quarter of the Oregon-Stanford game that Fox was broadcasting. Oh yeah: the Ducks won it with a last-second defensive play in their own end zone. Go Ducks!)

Sure, the debate shed some light on important policy positions.

But there were no surprises. There was even less drama.

Hey, if it had been Republicans debating opposite those football games — even with their carnival atmosphere — I’m pretty sure football would have won those ratings, too.