Tag Archives: NCAA

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.

Manziel vows sobriety … just do it, young man


“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.

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.


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.


That's how you pick a football champ

There can be zero doubt about a couple of things relating to Monday night’s football game to determine the national collegiate champion.

* First, the “wrong” team won the game. I am a native of Oregon and I was pulling mightily for the Oregon Ducks to beat the other guys and take a national championship back to the Pacific Northwest. They had me going after the first two possessions of the game. A quick score and then forcing the other guys to punt the ball away. Woe is me and the rest of us who comprise the Duck faithful.

* Second, Ohio State’s Buckeyes deserve the honor of being called the national champions of intercollegiate football. Let there also be zero doubt about the Buckeyes’ place in this four-team playoff, the first of its kind established by the NCAA to determine the best football team in the country. My hat — if I were wearing one at the moment — would be off in tribute to the Buckeyes. Man, they played a great football game!

The playoff system worked.

Four great teams were selected for this two-round playoff system. Granted, Ohio State was not my pick for the fourth seed; I preferred Baylor or perhaps Texas Christian University for that spot.

But as it turned out — much to the dismay of Alabama and now Oregon faithful — the Buckeyes turned out to be more than merely worthy of the honor of participating in the playoff system.

The Bowl Championship Series system is history. The bowl games, while important to the schools participating in them, no longer will determine the national champion. The BCS system of selecting the champs was too prone to second-guessing — not that this system didn’t have its share of doubters.

However, as we saw last night in Arlington, Texas, the new playoff system allows for the title to be decided by the coaches and athletes.

The NCAA football playoff system gurus got it right. Well done.


What to call college football's big game?

I might be breaking some new ground here, but a thought occurs to me regarding the Big Game set for Monday night to determine the best college football team in the country.

The game doesn’t have a catchy name. You know, like the Super Bowl?

My Oregon Ducks are going to play the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first-ever college football playoff championship game. It needs something catchy.

Let’s flash back for a moment to the first Super Bowl, played in 1967. It wasn’t even called the Super Bowl. It carried the clunky name of “AFL-NFL Championship Game.” The American Football League champs that year were the Kansas City Chiefs; representing the National Football League were the Green Bay Packers.

The Pack won 35-10 at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, which was about two-thirds full for the biggest game in pro football history.

The AFL and the NFL played three more interleague championship games before the leagues merged in 1970. But someone came up with the name “Super Bowl” in time for the 1968 game between the Packers and the Oakland Raiders.

I’m open for suggestions on what to call the college football equivalent of the Super Bowl.

Heck, college basketball has its March Madness and its Final Four; Major League Baseball has its World Series; college baseball has its College World Series; hockey fans know the title series of their sport simply as the Stanley Cup.

The NCAA has come up with a marketing winner with this college football playoff. It figures to smash TV-viewing records Monday night.

So … let’s give college football’s big game a name to make it — and us — all proud.

Oh, before I forget: Go Ducks!


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.


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!


Another poll determines playoff

I’m trying to clear my head over this college football playoff poll business.

The NCAA decided to create a four-team playoff at the end of the regular season. Check. I got that part.

The governing agency I guess had grown weary of polls determining the top two teams in the country and the criticism the final pairing drew — usually from loyalists of other college teams left out of the Big Game.

So the NCAA came up with the playoff system.


But then had to wrestle with determining how to find the top four teams. Who picks them? It’s not a poll exactly. The selection comes from a committee of experts.

OK, now for full disclosure.

I kind of have a dog in this hunt. I’m a native of Oregon and the University of Oregon Ducks currently are rated the No. 2 team in the playoff hunt. They moved ahead of Florida State this week on the basis of their overall play against other ranked teams and the fact that the Ducks beat a very good Utah Utes team in Salt Lake City.

This playoff business, though, has me biting my fingernails each week.

Who’ll get the top nod? Who will the panel think did the best over the previous week? Can the panel of experts actually get it wrong and overlook a team that no one is seeing?

What happens from now until the end of the season? Well, your favorite team — whichever it is — has to win the rest of the way. That includes the Oregon Ducks.

Then comes the subjective analysis from the panel of experts — coaches, ex-coaches, ex-players, athletic directors, etc. — on who should be seeded in what order.

I’ll say it right now: Fans, alumni and boosters of whichever team finishes the regular season rated No. 5 in this poll of experts are going to raise a ruckus royale.

Some things, therefore, never change.

Text messages get WT coach in trouble

Let’s give Joel Hinton the tiniest benefit of the doubt and assume — if we dare — that he’s not a dummy.

He’s the former West Texas A&M University assistant football coach who has gotten entangled in a case of academic fraud involving two players on the WT team. One of the (former) players, Jose Azarte Jr., allegedly did school work for another player, star wide receiver Anthony Johnson.

Johnson then submitted the work as his own and got caught.

Where does Hinton fit in here? He apparently sent text messages to the players, which then were intercepted by someone — who then ratted everyone out.

Text messages got the coach in trouble.

Hinton is a young man. I will presume that he’s telecommunications-savvy, given that most 20- and 30-something Americans are these days.

Doesn’t this individual know that text messages, emails and almost any form of communication on social media can get seen by, oh, every human being on this planet of ours?

WT says Hinton is no longer associated with the school. It won’t say whether he got fired or quit on his own. Just that the he’s gone.


The investigation into this matter ought to be comprehensive. It ought to reveal to what extent this kind of thing has gone on at WT. It ought to disclose whether it’s happened with other athletes in other sports. Indeed, this kind of thing gives the NCAA governing body a chance to peel the skin off this onion all across the land.

Has cheating occurred? Sure it has. This isn’t anything new, if it’s proven to have occurred. Let’s presume that the school and/or the NCAA prove it happened. What then?

I’m rather old-fashioned about some things. There should be no tolerance at all for this kind of malarkey. It involves student-athletes who are attending class with the help of scholarships. They’re getting an education paid for by the school, even though the scholarship rewards them for athletic — not necessarily academic — prowess.

As for the coach who sent the text messages related to this matter, the young man needs a refresher course in what not to say on social media.

I’d start with keeping self-incriminating messages off the grid.



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.


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.



Ducks facing dreaded SI jinx

I’m sweating bullets.

My University of Oregon Ducks are rated as the second-best college football team in the country, right behind Alabama’s Crimson Tide. So what happened to the Ducks this week? Their Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Marcus Mariota, ends up on the cover of the nation’s premier sports magazine.

Why the heavy perspiration? It’s that dreaded Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx. Players and teams fairly routinely end up on the cover — only to tank it the next time they compete.

The Ducks are facing next Thursday what looks like their most difficult opponent. They travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on the Stanford Cardinal, the No. 5-ranked team in the country and a team that a year ago went to the Ducks’ crib in Eugene and smashed its way to a 17-14 upset victory.

I say “smashed” because that’s the kind of football the Cardinal plays. Stanford is big, tough and it just loves to keep the football out of the other team’s hands, which for Oregon is terrible. The Ducks faced Ohio State in the Rose Bowl a couple of seasons ago and the Buckeyes beat the Ducks 26-17 by doing what Stanford is so good at doing.

I’m not going to be a Gloomy Gus here and predict the Ducks will lose next Thursday. They have been virtually unstoppable all season long. Their go-go offense has run up a lot of points on some good teams.

It’s that SI jinx, though, that has me worried. Will it bite the Ducks in their tails?

The story is quite flattering. It says the Ducks have reinvented the West Coast Offense. Mariota is considered a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The Ducks just might be heading for the national championship game.

Quick, let’s hide all copies of the SI issue from the Ducks. Don’t let ’em read it.