Tag Archives: college football

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.

 

 

 

 

JoePa's wins restored at Penn State

How does one react to the news that the late Joe Paterno once again is the winningest coach in NCAA football history?

Man, this leaves me with incredibly mixed feelings.

The NCAA and Penn State University have reached a settlement that removes a sanction imposed on PSU because of the hideous conduct of one of its assistant football coaches and the assertion that Coach Paterno — at one time the living, breathing example of moral rectitude in college football — looked the other way while incidents of child abuse were occurring.

http://news.psu.edu/story/341060/2015/01/16/board-trustees/board-trustees-approves-terms-proposed-ncaa-lawsuit?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=psu%20official

The Penn State board of trustees has agreed unanimously to pay $60 million toward child abuse prevention programs and to aid children who fall victims to ghastly abuse. The sanctions are lifted, Paterno’s record gets 112 wins restored, and assistant coach Jerry Sandusky — who was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse of children — will remain in prison, where he belongs.

Paterno’s reputation has been destroyed, even with the restoration of the victories. His standing as the football coach with more wins than anyone else will include the proverbial asterisk.

This hideous scandal really wasn’t about what happened on the football field. It was about the monstrous abuse delivered to children by a sexual predator. One has nothing to do with the other.

I guess my reaction, therefore, to this outcome is to be glad that the record has been restored. It’s not so much for “JoPa,” but for the young student-athletes who participated in attaining those victories in the first place.

 

Looks like the Buckeyes belonged after all

I’ll be candid. I was one of those who thought a team other than Ohio State should have rounded out the four-school playoff bracket to determine the best team in college football.

My favorite for the No. 4 seed was Baylor.

It didn’t happen. Ohio State got in, I guess, on the strength of its schedule.

I’m no expert on this, but it appears that the selection committee that picked the Final Four got it right.

OK, so I’m basking a bit in the glow of my Oregon Ducks’ big win over defending national champ Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Oh, did I mention it was a serious beat-down of a very good football team — by an even better football team?

Well, I digress.

Ohio State finished off the night of playoff football by defeating the top seed, Alabama, which was representing the vaunted Southeastern Conference, where loyalists proclaim it to be the premier football conference in the nation.

Maybe it is. However, on New Year’s Night, the Crimson Tide failed to do the one thing it needed to do, which was score more points than the Buckeyes.

The No. 1 seed proved to be, well, quite mortal.

I am not going to try to dissect what happened in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes outplayed the Crimson Tide on the one night that it counted. And on that night — last night — Ohio State proved that it belonged in the Final Four.

What now? Well, Ohio State will play the Oregon Ducks for the national championship.

You know where my heart lies. Go Ducks!

***

And while I’m on the subject of the Ducks, take a look at John Canzano’s excellent column in The Oregonian about the post-game press conference featuring college football’s two most recent Heisman Trophy winners. I believe it will explain a lot why the Ducks belong in the playoffs, too.

http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf/2015/01/canzano_jameis_winston_vs_marc.html#incart_maj-story-1

 

College football playoffs work against sportsmanship

Baylor University head football coach Art Briles speaks the truth about one troubling aspect of the NCAA college football playoff system.

It “changes the way you approach football games,” Briles said. Coaches and players become concerned with what’s called euphemistically as “style points,” resulting in teams running up the score on their opponents.

http://agntv.amarillo.com/sports/coachspeak-college-footballs-final-four

OK, Briles’s ox has been gored here. The Baylor Bears were thought to be one of the teams that would be included in college football’s version of the Final Four. They were bounced out by Ohio State, which scored a lot of “style points” by pummeling Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big 10 championship game over the weekend.

The Final Four comprises Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and the Buckeyes.

Allow me this disclosure: I am pulling with all the force I can for Oregon, which plays FSU in the Rose Bowl. I am a native Oregonian and my heart belongs to the Ducks. The other game — ‘Bama vs. Ohio State — will take place in the Sugar Bowl … yawwwwn.

I do get Briles’s concern about this selection system. It relies on human subjectivity, just as the old system did when the final polls helped select the national college football champion. The playoff teams are chosen by a committee of experts: coaches, ex-coaches, athletic directors, players.

This panel looks at the “style points” run up by teams and award them accordingly. This bothers Briles, who said coaches have to decide late in the game, if their teams are leading big, whether to “take a knee” and run out the clock or push for yet another score and risk embarrassing the other coach — who is likely a good friend — and the opposing players.

Is this system perfect? No. Did the playoff committee get it right with the selections it made? Probably.

I agree with Coach Briles about the concern over running up “style points.” That does not do a single thing, though, to diminish my joy at watching the Ducks trample Arizona in the Pac 12 championship game this past Friday.

Go Ducks!

 

Powerhouses vs. Cupcakes

I truly get that upsets can and do happen on college football fields.

Still, it was a bit shocking to read early Saturday that Lamar University was going to take the field against Texas A&M University in a game played at Kyle Field, home of the Twelfth Man.

Why the shock?

Well, for starters, Lamar is just three years into a return to college football. It shelved the program in the 1980s over lack of money, enthusiasm and ability to win games. I was in Beaumont at the time and I remember the demise of the program.

http://collegesportsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/09/five-thoughts-from-texas-ams-big-73-3-win-over-lamar.html/

So, to get a revenue boost for its athletic department, Lamar University scheduled the Aggies, one of the better teams in the country and the school that produced last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny “Football” Manziel.

I do not understand why schools need to overmatch themselves in this fashion. The Aggies put a serious beat-down on the Cardinals, winning 73-3.

What does a beating like that do to a college athlete’s emotional structure? I’ve never heard that issue discussed. Perhaps there ought to be some conversation about it.

I get why they play the game at the powerhouse’s home field. The visiting team gets a cut of the revenue generated and they take the money back supposedly to invest in the future. The money pays for better equipment, scholarships, those kinds of things.

I also know that — on occasion, but it’s very rare — the visiting Cupcake surprises the dickens out of the host Powerhouse. Do you recall when Appalachian State went to Ann Arbor, Mich., a couple of years ago and upset the mighty Wolverines in The Big House? It’s a rare event. To be sure, Lamar wasn’t the only college football to get hammered into the turf Saturday.  

Sure, upsets do occur. It’s also possible — although not likely — that the sun could rise in the west.

The kind of score that we saw run up against Lamar by the Aggies, however, doesn’t do much good for anyone.

 

 

U.S. loses to Belgium; back to other sports now

My World Cup fascination is now over, thanks to a 2-1 victory today by Belgium over a valiant U.S. team that found its way to the Round of 16 despite losing previous games.

I’ll need someone to explain that one to me. Later, perhaps.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/belgium-beats-u-s–2-1-in-extra-time–survives-late-rally-to-advance-223507512.html

I’ll go back now to awaiting the start of college football — American-style, the game played by 300-pound behemoths in helmets and pads. I’ll also resume my sporadic interest in Major League Baseball.

Allow me to recall one World Cup memory from a few years ago. I’ve seen such sports fanaticism up close.

During the 2006 World Cup, which was played in Germany, my wife and I had the pleasure of visiting the country just north of there. We were in Denmark, attending the Rotary International Convention being held in Copenhagen and across the strait in Malmo, Sweden.

Denmark was playing in the World Cup — of course! One evening my wife and I sought a place to have dinner with some Amarillo friends of ours — fellow Rotarians Mike and Vicki Hooten — who also were attending the convention. We walked for many blocks looking for a nice place to eat, have a beverage or two and visit with our friends.

“Hey, this looks pretty good,” one of us said. We stuck our heads in the door. The place was packed with screaming Danes who, as luck would have it, were watching their national soccer team playing a World Cup match with, um, some other team.

Pandemonium ruled the place. As it did in the next place we visited. And the one after that, and after that one.

Cheers rang out through the streets of Copenhagen that evening as we walked through the city on the hunt for somewhere to have a meal. We finally settled on an outdoor place, an Italian eatery if memory serves.

We had a good time visiting with our friends. All the while we heard cheers ringing throughout the neighborhood as Danes cheered their team’s every move toward the other guys’ goal.

I have no clue who won that game. Nor do I have any interest in knowing.

Yes, it’s an international game. Most of the rest of the world is mad about this sport.

More power to them. I’m getting ready for college football to kick off.