Tag Archives: NCAA

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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!