Tag Archives: NCAA football

Get ready: no football

I believe football fans from coast to coast to coast need to steel themselves for some very bad news.

There might not be football this autumn. Two college conferences — the Lone Star and Mid-American — have “postponed” all football games until the spring. The Ivy League canceled its football season altogether.

The “power” conferences — such as the Big 12, the Pac 12, SEC, Big 10 — are set to play football. But wait! Are they really going to expose their student-athletes to the pandemic, to the coronavirus that continues to kill Americans?

I have this feeling in my gut, right along with my trick knee, that we aren’t likely to see college football this autumn. Or, perhaps, too the National Football League.

A lot of players are opting out of NFL play, citing concerns over the virus.

Am I dreading the thought of no football this fall? Yes. More so regarding intercollegiate football. I care less about the NFL than I care about NCAA football.

I care much more, though, for the well being of the student-athletes, their coaches, their family members, their friends and assorted loved ones who could be infected a potential killer that continues to ravage this nation.

Wondering about re-opening too soon

I believe I have developed an acute case of coronavirus pandemic heebie-jeebies.

It’s got me spooked, man. The nervous jerks kicked in when I heard about Texas’ major university systems announcing they intend to return to in-person classes this fall. All Texas public schools — from grade school to college — suspended that activity while the state launched its fight against the pandemic.

Now they’re going to open the classroom doors once more. In the fall. Just a short period after Gov. Greg Abbott launched his gradual, phased-in reopening of Texas business, which has ground to a halt during this pandemic matter.

There’s more to it, of course. The universities are going to play football. In the fall. How are they going to do that? How do they fill Memorial Stadium in Austin, or Kyle Field in College Station or Jones Stadium in Lubbock?

Do they put only a fraction of the fans into those big-time venues?

Hey, I am anxious for college football to start its season, too. I don’t have a Texas favorite, but I do have a favorite college team in my home state. The University of Oregon Ducks are facing the same quandary. In-person classes shut down there as well as in Texas. Furthermore, the Ducks have a big game scheduled Sept. 12 in Eugene against the Ohio State Buckeyes; I want the Ducks to beat them Buckeyes. But should they seek to do so this early?

I don’t know. I am leery. I am anxious. None of us wants a second or third hideous spike in infection or, worse, in death.

I simply fear the worst could happen if we move too quickly to return to what we used to think is “normal.” I believe we have crossed the threshold into the “new normal” that we need to prepare to accept as the way it will be.

Coaching path from college to pros is strewn with casualties

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The fascination in this part of the world with Urban Meyer and the thought that he might become the next Dallas Cowboys head football coach intrigues me terribly.

And not for reasons you might expect.

Jason Garrett is likely coaching his final season for the Cowboys, who have underperformed to the disappointment of the team’s fans. Let me stipulate that I am not one of those fans.

So, what about Meyer? He retired as head coach at Ohio State. Prior to that he coached the University of Florida to greatness. Prior to that he led the University of Utah to the status of being a very good football team. He won three national collegiate championships.

Does that college success translate automatically to the professional ranks? Hmm. Let’s ponder that.

Chip Kelly coached the University of Oregon and for a brief spell led the team to elite status among college football programs. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles; he got fired. Then he became head coach of the San Francisco 49ers; he got fired again. He’s now back as a college coach at UCLA.

Bud Wilkinson led the University of Oklahoma to 47 straight wins in the early 1950s. He coached the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL, where his success was, shall we say, less than sterling.

Dennis Erickson had a stellar college coaching career. His pro coaching career was decidedly less than stellar.

Steve Spurrier, too, had great success as a college coach. Not so much in the pros.

Nick Saban? Same thing.

To be sure, there are reverse examples. The Cowboys hired two successful college coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, who managed to win Super Bowls coaching the Cowboys. The owner, Jerry Jones, fired ’em both; Johnson mouthed off to the owner and I can’t remember what got Switzer into trouble.

I would encourage my friends who are Cowboys’ fanatics to take great care in wishing Urban Meyer can be talked into donning the headphones yet again, this time for the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s one thing to throw your weight around with student-athletes. It’s quite another matter when the players you are coaching are multimillionaires who make more money each year than the guy who’s telling ’em to run wind sprints.

Good job, Boise State!

I am not a big Boise State Broncos football fan, but this result from Tallahassee, Fla., thrills me in a way I didn’t quite expect.

Boise State was supposed to play Florida State University in a non-league game in Jacksonville, Fla., an ostensibly “neutral” site. Hurricane Dorian changed it. They moved the game farther west to Tallahassee, where FSU is located and where the Seminoles play their home games.

So, what do you suppose happened Friday night? Boise State won the game 36-31 over Florida State. 

It’s a big deal, man. You know?

It was tough enough on the Broncos to have to travel across the country to play Florida State, not that anyone was complaining — I am sure — about the travel. Then to move the game from a neutral site to the other side’s home field might have seemed like a case of — and pardon the intended pun — moving the goalposts.

Then there’s this matter.

I am not inclined to root against coaches, but I am glad that FSU head coach Willie Taggart suffered this loss. Why? Because Taggart took a job three years ago to rescue the University of Oregon football program after it fell precipitously from elite status to the dregs of the Pac-12.

What does Taggart do? He leads the Ducks for a single season, posts a decent won-lost record — and then bails for the vacant Florida State head coaching job!

I am an avid Ducks fan. I want the Ducks to return to elite status. They might be on the road to that return. As for Taggart, this Ducks fan isn’t shedding a single tear for him.

Too bad, coach. Suck it up and get ready for the next foe.

‘Act like you’ve done it before’

I must be in a fuddy-duddy mood today. I’ve already posted something that suggests that awards ceremonies aren’t the place for political speeches.

Now this: I am not a fan of those elaborate touchdown celebrations we see when National Football League players score points for their team. The picture above is of a Seattle Seahawks player doing some kind of dance in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.

Accordingly, I am glad college football has decided to prohibit that kind of show-boating; players who prance and preen after scoring a touchdown draw penalties levied against their teams.

The NFL ought to ponder a similar rule, although I doubt it will. Pro football fans think it’s entertaining and that players have some kind of “right” to express their sheer joy at scoring a touchdown. I do admit to liking the Lambeau Leap, where Green Bay Packers jump into the stands to get some “love” from their adoring fans.

However, I still prefer the Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, Bo Jackson, Jim Brown approach to scoring TDs: Cross the goal line, flip the ball to the nearest official and then run back to the sidelines and get the pats on the rear end from your teammates.

It might have been the late great coach Vince Lombardi who said it. Whoever it was, he gave some good advice: When you score a touchdown, act like you’ve done it before.

U of O Ducks set a lasting fashion trend

oregon-duck-1024x986

Say whatever you want about how far the University of Oregon’s football fortunes fell during this past season.

I believe they’ll be back. They have a new coach, Willie Taggart, and some good young talent coming up.

But … today we’ll talk briefly about my beloved Ducks’ football fashion trend.

They have created something of a gridiron monster. Other college teams have been experimenting with uniform changes the way the Ducks began doing it a couple of seasons ago. Some of the outfits have been, well, embraced while others have been scorned.

Texas Tech trotted onto the field this year wearing black uniforms, rather than the traditional red jerseys and white pants. Ohio State has monkeyed around with different uniform combos. Baylor did as well. There have been others.

Now we’re seeing at least one pro team suiting up in colors that bear little resembles to tradition. Did you notice the Seattle Seahawks’ get-up the other night? It was kind of a lime green ensemble. Social media posts indicated fans were none too happy with that color scheme.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Ducks — with lots of money to spend on frills such as weekly uniform changes — need to get back to the basics of blocking and tackling. I am confident they’ll rediscover their winning ways.

It’s still fun to await their wardrobe when they take the field each week. I’m fascinated by the trend the Ducks have set.

I’m now waiting for the University of Texas Longhorns to take the field in something other than burnt orange and white. Go ahead. I dare you.

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.

 

Rivalry Week coming up

College football has a name for the final week of a long season.

It’s called Rivalry Week. Traditional rival schools square off against each other on the football field. They’re usually in-state rivalries.

For those of us who grew up in Oregon, Rivalry Week takes on a particularly distasteful tag. It’s known there as the Civil War. Oregon vs. Oregon State.

Why distasteful? Well, for one thing I dislike the use the of the term “war” to describe a football game. I’ve had a ringside seat in a real war and a football game bears no resemblance to it, you know?

I even heard Tiger Woods once describe a round of golf, for crying out loud, as being “like war out there.”

You get my drift.

Well, Rivalry Week is going to present some interesting athletic matchups. The Oregon-Oregon State game, for example, will enable the Oregon Ducks to stay in the hunt for the coveted football playoff that will determine the national championship.

First things first, though. They have to beat OSU, then they have to defeat whoever wins the Pac-12 South title in the league championship game to be played at the San Francisco 49ers’ new field at Levi Stadium.

OK, I’m boring the daylights out of fans of the Big 12, the SEC, the Big 10 (or is it Big 13?) with all of this.

I’ll stick with my original premise.

I wish they wouldn’t call it “war.”

It’s just a game.

 

Carthel vs. McBroom, etc.

The earth is still rumbling under the feet of the West Texas A&M University football program, which saw its head coach, Don Carthel, fired over an apparent ethical lapse.

In his statement to the public, Carthel spoke of his “unhealthy” relationship with WT Athletic Director Michael McBroom, for whom Carthel worked and who did the firing this past week. Carthel was fired for violating a rule governing the conduct of players. Carthel took two of his players to a big league baseball game this summer in Arlington, got them to reimburse him for their game tickets and then fibbed about when he got the players’ payment; he then asked the players back up his story.

Bad call, coach.

It has since occurred to me that friction between a highly successful coach and his or her boss — namely the university athletic director — isn’t all that uncommon.

Let me make clear that I am not privy to the details of the two men’s professional relationship. I cannot vouch for how they feel about each other as men. I don’t know either of them, although I’ve shaken Carthel’s hand and spoken with him a time or two on occasion.

Almost by definition, a successful athletic coach must possess a large ego, not unlike a politician who seeks a high office. The late Sen. George McGovern, who ran for president, once said a big ego was the No. 1 requirement of a successful politician. So it should be with a successful coach.

It might be, then, that Carthel’s own ego got in the way of his relationship with McBroom.

Other coaches have run afoul of their bosses. Look what’s happened down the road a bit, at Texas Tech University. Head football coach Mike Leach was fired over an allegation that he mistreated one of his players, but the trouble had been brewing almost from the day Leach got there. He’s a bit of an oddball and his style didn’t always seem like a good fit with the hidebound types who call the shots at Tech.

Then, of course, former head men’s basketball coach Bob Knight got into that infamous salad bar argument with Tech Chancellor David Smith.

I’m not suggesting that Don Carthel is in Leach’s league, let alone in the same league with the fiery Knight.

Successful coaches don’t come along very often. Universities usually pay them lots of money to win football games, which means more fans come to the games, which means more cash for the school, which means better recruitment opportunities to lure blue-chip athletes to keep the winning program going.

Get it?

It might be that McBroom was looking for a way to get rid of Carthel — who then did his boss a favor by handing him the opportunity.