Posts Tagged ‘college football’

New Year’s Day = College Bowl Games!

If you’re a football fanatic like us, New Year’s Day is synonymous with college football and the tradition of bowl games.  There are some lesser known games today, like the TicketCity Bowl featuring Northwestern and Texas Tech.  There are also some “ho-hum” games, like the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with Connecticut and Oklahoma that we just cannot seem to get too excited about.  But thankfully there are also some great bowl games, which we highlight below. 

Outback Bowl – Featuring Penn State and Florida, 1 PM  EST, ABC

Two college football coaching giants meet in Tampa today – Joe Paterno, the legendary icon who, at 84, dismisses all ideas about retirement and Urban Meyer, who has announced (for the second time) that he is retiring from the college gridiron. 

While both teams are 7-5 and have had mediocre seasons, it should still be a great game to watch.  Here’s our take on the contest..

If the Gators play inspired football, determined to win one last game for their outgoing coach, they can probably pull off a victory.  What will the Gators’ attitudes be like?  It is hard to say, but even Urban Meyer himself recognizes that it is a key component of the game.  This week, he said, “I think the older players will play like there’s no tomorrow; they’re the invested group. I hope the younger guys carry the torch.”  He went on to say that this season is the first time in 10 years, “we have not followed the plan to win.”  All season long the Gators have played uninspired football, so it is a real concern for Meyer and a possible make or break factor in the game.

Another major element in today’s game is the injuries that are plaguing Florida.  Florida will be missing 5 starters, most notably corner Janoris Jenkins, which should give Nittany Lions QB Matt McGloin an offensive edge.   Even without all the injuries, Florida’s pass defense was poor.  The Lions will have to exploit this weakness if they want to pull off a victory.

Neither team has any superstars, which means the game may come down to the intangibles.  Motivation is certainly one intangible, but weather is another.  With game time temperatures expected to be in the upper 70s, Penn State may struggle keeping up with Florida’s speed. 

Prediction:  Florida 24, PSU 17

Capital One Bowl – Featuring Alabama and Michigan State, 1 PM EST, ESPN

Alabama began the season with high hopes.  A national championship seemed a real possibility as the Crimson Tide started the season with a 5-0 record and a #1 ranking.  In the last 6 games against Division I opponents the Tide went 3-3 and they found themselves out of national championship contention and relegated to a bowl game they are not very excited to be part of.

On the other side of the field, Michigan State ended the season as Big Ten champs (sharing the title with Wisconsin and Ohio State).   The 11-1 Spartans feel slighted since they were not invited to one of the elite BCS Bowl games and would love to walk away with a victory against the defending national champions.

Will Michigan State’s desire to prove they belonged in a more prestigious bowl game be enough of a motivator to win?  Or will Alabama look at this game as a way of salvaging a disappointing 9-3 season?  I think Alabama’s offense will be the deciding factor in this matchup.  QB Greg McElroy has thrown for nearly 2800 yards and just 5 INTs this season.  The Spartans will have to respect the run and crowd the line of scrimmage to contain last year’s Heisman winner Mark Ingram and running back Trent Richardson.  That will give McElroy the opportunity to showcase his arm.  Look for wide out Julio Jones, the Tide’s leading receiver with over yards this season, to be a critical factor in the game.

Prediction:  Alabama 30, Michigan State 21

Gator Bowl – Featuring Mississippi State and Michigan, 1:30 PM EST, ESPN2

The bowl season just wouldn’t be complete without one of our very favorite college players – Michigan QB Denard Robinson.  One last chance to see this dynamic, dual-threat player with the untied cleats is simply irresistible!

The game plan for Mississippi State is basic and simple – STOP DENARD ROBINSON.  The 8-4 Bulldogs have a strong run defense, but have struggled against the pass.  Expect Robinson to show that he is not merely a running, scrambling QB (over 1600 yards and 14 TDs this season), but an efficient passer (over 2300 yards and 16 TDs) as well.

Robinson enters the game rested and healthy.  Since he is the workhorse on the team and carries much of the offensive load, he takes a lot of hits and suffered various injuries this season.  A healthy Robinson will likely put up points for the 7-5 Wolverines, but it may not be enough to win the game.  The Michigan defense has struggled all season and were ranked 102nd in points allowed and 108th in yards allowed.  Statistically, it was the worst defense in the history of Wolverine football. 

The Bulldogs offense is solid and will be a challenge for the Wolverines.  MSU lost by only a field goal to #1 ranked Auburn and their other losses were to ranked opponents.  For Michigan to win, the Wolverine defense will need to finally step up this season.  

An interesting aspect of today’s game is how it may impact the future of Wolverine Head Coach Rich Rodriquez.  He has been on the hot seat all year.  In his 3 seasons at Michigan, he has a 15-21 overall record and is an embarrassing 6-18 in the Big Ten and 1-10 against ranked teams.  In addition, under Rodriquez the team had a number of NCAA violations related to practices and offseason workouts.  The outcome of today’s game may very well determine whether Rodriguez will return as the Michigan Head Coach.

Prediction:  Mississippi State 31, Michigan 27

Rose Bowl – Featuring Wisconsin and TCU, 5 PM EST, ESPN

Unbeaten TCU enters the Rose Bowl, referred to as “The Granddaddy of them All”, looking for validation.  As a Mountain West team playing in one of the elite BCS games, and after losing in the Fiesta Bowl last year to Boise State, TCU wants to prove it can play with the “Big Boys”.  Indeed, the 11-1 Badgers have a roster full of big boys.  Their offensive line is gargantuan with every starter over 300 pounds and at least 6’ 4”.  This massive line has allowed 3 different Badger running backs to rush for at least 860 yards each this season. 

Will this offensive line prove to be too enormous for TCU’s defense?  While the Horned Frog defense IS smaller, they are also renowned for their speed.  Combine that with solid tackling and leverage and TCU may just be able to handle the big boys.  After all, TCU has the top ranked defense in the nation!

While the Badgers’ ability to put up big points (averaging 43.3 points per game) is notorious, TCU’s offense is powerful as well and ranks 4th in scoring and 9th overall.  In fact, TCU’s offense also averages 43.3 points per game!  Both teams have scored an identical number of points – 520.  The Badger’s defense will be challenged with this dynamic, balanced offense led by senior QB Andy Dalton, who can both pass AND run.

With the Badgers ranked #4 and the Horned Frogs #3, today’s Rose Bowl looks to be the marquee matchup of the day.  These eerily, evenly matched powerhouse offenses will undoubtedly provide an exciting contest.  But games like this are won in the trenches, which should give the Badgers the edge and their 4th consecutive Rose Bowl victory.

Prediction:  Wisconsin 38, TCU 27

Sit back and enjoy today’s games.  With less than two weeks of college football remaining, soak up every moment you can! 

Happy New Year! 

From Your Gridironglamourgirl Team!

2011 New Year’s Resolutions Around the Gridiron

We have been gone for a few days, squeezing out the last of the holiday festivities before getting back to reality.  As we head into 2011, we have made our list of resolutions, hoping to accomplish at least a few of the things we long to do this coming year! 

In that spirit, we offer the following New Year’s resolutions for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) football-related individuals and others from 2010.

Mike Shanahan

I resolve to faithfully read the “Miss Manners” advice column so I can learn the meaning of respect and apply it to those around me, particularly legendary quarterbacks who have earned it. 

I resolve to go to my local Barnes & Noble to purchase “Coaching Football for Dummies” in hopes that I can learn SOMETHING useful to salvage my professional career.

The New York Jets

We resolve to hire Strength and Conditioning coaches who work on OUR players and not the other team’s players.

We resolve to recognize that women are more than just Barbie Dolls and can actually contribute to sports.

Brett Favre

I resolve to get rid of my cell phone.

I resolve to take the hint from the injuries Gods and finally retire for REAL.

Randy Moss

I resolve to keep all thoughts about the superb abilities of former coaches and teammates tucked away securely in my head, especially during post-game press conferences.

I resolve to keep all comments regarding catered foods and canines to myself.

Roger Goodell

I resolve to keep Vince Lombardi from turning in his grave by never postponing games due to snow and wind.

I resolve to keep the word “Wussie” from ever being associated with the NFL again.

I resolve to keep the NFL from turning into the National Flag League by concentrating on REAL player safety issues instead of legitimate hard hits.

Cam Newton

I resolve to never listen to my father’s advice.

I resolve to take lots of pics with my Heisman, since I will undoubtedly be returning it within the next few years.

Ohio State

We resolve to stop being an NFL player factory and at least APPEAR to provide an education.

We resolve to duct tape our President’s mouth whenever he attempts to discuss football.

Eli Manning

I resolve to stop giving the camera that Gomer Pyle  “Gaaw-aawl-ly” look when I throw an interception.

I resolve to call my big brother and get advice on how to transform my naïve country boy persona into one fitting a New York quarterback.


We resolve to fairly enforce our rules and not allow players from big football programs (read Auburn and Ohio State) to get off the hook.

Tucker Carlson

I resolve to actually practice the Christianity I profess and learn that forgiveness is one of its tenets.

I resolve to never speak about football, or any other sport, again.

I resolve to loosen my bow tie, in hopes that it sends oxygen to my brain so that I think before I speak.

Michael Vick

I resolve to finish my story book-like comeback with a fairy tale ending and take my team to the Super Bowl.

I resolve to continue to be THE most exciting player in the NFL while showing the world that redemption is truly possible.

Don’t Be a Gridiron Grinch

This weekend marks the beginning of the college football bowl game season.  On Saturday there are 3 bowl games –the New Mexico Bowl, uDrove Humanitarian Bowl and R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.  If these eccentrically named bowls are not familiar to you, don’t worry.  With 35 games, many of which have silly sounding names, it is easy to lose track. 

There has been a lot of debate about the hefty number of bowl games.  Critics say that 35 games allow too many mediocre teams into post season play, which in turn undermines the integrity of bowl games in general.  These critics want to preserve the prestige of post season collegiate football and go back to the time when there were only a handful of championship games.

Bowl games originated in the 1920s with the Rose Bowl.  By the 1950s, the classics – Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and Sun Bowl were part of the college football landscape.  Bowl games were almost always exclusively on New Year’s Day and became an American tradition.  Over the years the number of bowls has grown and they are now played from mid-December through early January.  With 35 games this season, it means 70 of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, or a whopping 58%, will play in a bowl game this year.

I love tradition and can appreciate why some people long for the more exclusive and nostalgic bowl games of long ago.  Of course when there were fewer games, only top level teams were invited to play.  Now teams with 6 wins are eligible, which certainly does “water down” the level of play.  This is one of the major complaints with the current system.

I acknowledge the fact that getting a bowl bid in today’s college football climate is not the same achievement as it was years ago.  But who cares?  In the end, fans understand which teams are the best and the BCS still has its “premiere” games that receive the most hype, money and prestige.   No one is going to equate the teams playing in the New Era Pinstripe bowl on December 30th (Kansas State vs. Syracuse) with the January 10th Tostitos BCS National Championship game between Auburn and Oregon.

So rather than jump on the popular “Bah Humbug, There are Too Many Bowl Games” bandwagon, look at the post season from a different point of view.  If you are a student-athlete going to one of the lesser known bowls, it is still an exciting opportunity.  Fans and alumni also enjoy these games, even if they don’t have national appeal.  For the football programs, bowl games can also be a great recruiting tool.

College football is big business and obviously the fact that so many bowls exist today is money driven.  Critics like to point out that many schools actually lose money from attending a bowl game.  The expense of getting the team and its coaches, trainers, band and so forth to the venue can be tremendous.  In addition, schools are often obligated to buy a certain number of tickets.  If the school cannot sell their allotment, they lose that money.  Since the enormous payouts from bowl games go to the conferences, rather than just the school playing in the game, it is easy to see that schools can find themselves in the red.   

But, it is clear, given the desire colleges have to receive a bowl bid that they benefit in other ways.  For most schools, it is the national exposure that makes college bowl game participation so valuable.  Having a team in the national spotlight can help increase the university’s enrollment and truly help its image.  These are intangible benefits that are hard to measure, but universities believe that bowl games are worth the costs involved.

Less than one in 50 student athletes go on to play at the professional level.  For these students their bowl game is, in a sense, their own little title game.  Of course they understand they are not actually playing in the big title game, but it is one last hurrah as they leave football behind.

What is so wrong about allowing other teams to experience the tradition of a college bowl game, even if it on a smaller, less grand scale?  It seems silly to grumble over the large number of bowl games since, in the end, it doesn’t change the fact about which teams are truly championship-level programs.  If you are not interested in a bowl game, simply don’t watch it!  This season, don’t’ be a gridiron Grinch!

What’s on Tap for Today? Two Terrific Traditions!

Today two college football traditions take place – the classic Army/Navy game and the awarding of the Heisman Trophy.   As we move towards the vast array of bowl games ahead, it seems fitting that the end of the regular college football season celebrates two historic traditions that are the foundation of college football today.

Army-Navy Game

The annual game between the United States Military Academy at West Point (Army) and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis (Navy) began in 1890 and represents one of the great rivalries in college football.  From the time a cadet enters their particular academy, whether an athlete or not, he or she is immersed in the “Beat Army” or “Beat Navy “mantra. 

Navy has won the last 8 games and leads the overall series with 54 wins, while Army won 49 of the games.  Today’s game takes place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and will be broadcast on CBS, with kickoff at 2:30 PM EST. 

Both academies have a tradition of running with a football from their campus to the site of the game.  At a West Point pep rally Thursday night (where a large sailboat was set fire to emulate beating Navy), a football was handed to the captain of the marathon team.  The 20 member team (14 men and 6 women) took turns running the 179 miles to Lincoln Financial Field through the dark roads of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Meanwhile, approximately 140 midshipmen from Company 13 began their 125 mile long trek after a send off by their commandant on noon on Friday.  Both groups of relay runners will present the balls to their academy’s football team captains on Saturday on the field just before kickoff.  This decades old tradition symbolizes not only the discipline and sheer grit of both academies, but also illustrates the intensity of the rivalry.

Army and Navy football players will most likely never play in the NFL.  These men play for the pure love of the game.  Upon graduation, they will serve our country in their respective branches, leaving behind football as nothing but a fond memory.  That’s what makes this game so special and makes it one of the best traditions of college football.

The Heisman Trophy

The 76th Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy will be awarded tonight at 8 pm.  The four finalists contending for the Heisman are Auburn QB Cam Newton, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Boise State QB Kellen Moore and University of Oregon RB LaMichael James.  The Heisman winner is determined by votes cast by 870 members of the media, all former Heisman Trophy winners and an overall fan vote.

Cam Newton appears to be the frontrunner, despite the pay-to-play scheme his father orchestrated.  The NCAA ruled that Newton’s father had indeed tried to solicit money for his son to play at Mississippi State, but that they have no evidence that Cam knew of his father’s plan.  The NCAA investigation continues, so if information surfaces that Cam was aware of his father’s actions, another Reggie Bush Heisman scandal could be on the horizon.  Let’s hope that the NCAA finds Cam truly was oblivious to his father’s actions because another Heisman winner having to return the award only tarnishes it.  It appears most Heisman voters have simply dismissed the potential scandal and focused instead on Newton’s on-field performance.

Newton’s mind-blowing stats are simply hard to dismiss.  He led the SEC in rushing, with 1409 yards.  Newton also threw for 2589 yards and had the nation’s best passing efficiency rating.  He threw 28 TDs, ran for 20 TDs and also caught one!  He led Auburn to an undefeated season, an SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship game that will take place on January 10th vs. Oregon.

The candidate who will most likely earn 2nd place in the Heisman voting is Stanford QB Andrew Luck.  He passed for 3051 yards and 28 TDs.  While he is not as well known as Newton, it is widely believed that he could be the number one draft pick in the NFL.  His 7th ranked passing efficiency helped lead his team to their best record since 1940.  Luck will take his Stanford team to the Orange Bowl on January 3rd to play Virginia Tech.

It is hard to predict who will rank 3rd and 4th in the Heisman voting.  LaMichael James is the sole running back in the group.   He rushed for 1682 yards and 21 TDs and helped his team achieve the number one ranked offense in the nation.  James and Oregon will play for the national title against Auburn in Glendale, Arizona on January 3rd.  Meanwhile, Boise State’s Kellen Moore passed for 3056 yards and 33 TDs.  He may not be the prototypical big time college QB, but his stats cannot be ignored.  Moore and Boise State play in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl versus Utah on December 22nd.

In this season of holiday tradition, take time out today to enjoy two of college football’s most prestigious and enduring traditions.  The Army/Navy game and the awarding of the Heisman Trophy celebrate the honor, excellence and determination of these young men.  Both are positive components of college football and their ability to make us feel good about athletics is the perfect way to end the regular season.  Enjoy!

Tis’ the Season for Good Cheer! Bowl Season is Almost Here!

The college football regular season may be over (except for this Saturday’s Army/Navy game), but the good news is that the 2010-2011 bowl season is just around the corner.  To help you plan your next month’s game watching strategy, here is a list of all the bowls beginning with the December 18th New Mexico Bowl (who knew??!) to the BCS National Championship game on January 10th!  Tis’ the season!!

Bowl Location Date/Time Network
New Mexico
Albuquerque, N.M.
University Stadium
Dec. 18
2 p.m.
uDrove Humanitarian
Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State
Boise, Idaho
Bronco Stadium
Dec. 18
5:30 p.m.
R+L Carriers New Orleans
Ohio vs. Troy
New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome
Dec. 18
9 p.m.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg
Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tropicana Field
Dec. 21
8 p.m.
MAACO Las Vegas
Utah vs. Boise State
Las Vegas
Sam Boyd Stadium
Dec. 22
8 p.m.
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia
Navy vs. San Diego State
San Diego
Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 23
8 p.m.
Sheraton Hawaii
Hawaii vs. Tulsa
Aloha Stadium
Dec. 24
8 p.m.
Little Caesars
Florida International vs. Toledo
Ford Field
Dec. 26
8:30 p.m.
AdvoCare V100 Independence
Air Force vs. Georgia Tech
Shreveport, La.
Independence Stadium
Dec. 27
5 p.m.
Champs Sports
West Virginia vs. NC State
Orlando, Fla.
Florida Citrus Bowl
Dec. 28
6:30 p.m.
Missouri vs. Iowa
Tempe, Ariz.
Sun Devil Stadium
Dec. 28
10 p.m.
Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman
East Carolina vs. Maryland
Washington, D.C.
RFK Stadium
Dec. 29
2:30 p.m.
Illinois vs. Baylor
Reliant Stadium
Dec. 29
6 p.m.
Valero Alamo
Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
San Antonio
Dec. 29
9:15 p.m.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Army vs. SMU
Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Dec. 30
New Era Pinstripe
Kansas St. vs. Syracuse
Bronx, N.Y.
Yankee Stadium
Dec. 30
3:20 p.m.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City
North Carolina vs. Tennessee
Nashville, Tenn.
LP Field
Dec. 30
6:40 p.m.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday
Nebraska vs. Washington
San Diego
Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 30
10 p.m.
Meineke Car Care
South Florida vs. Clemson
Charlotte, N.C.
Bank of America Stadium
Dec. 31
Hyundai Sun
Notre Dame vs. Miami
El Paso, Texas
Sun Bowl
Dec. 31
2 p.m.
AutoZone Liberty
Georgia vs. UCF
Memphis, Tenn.
Liberty Bowl
Dec. 31
3:30 p.m.
South Carolina vs. Florida State
Georgia Dome
Dec. 31
7:30 p.m.
Northwestern vs. Texas Tech
Cotton Bowl
Jan. 1
Florida vs. Penn State
Tampa, Fla.
Raymond James Stadium
Jan. 1
1 p.m.
Capital One
Alabama vs. Michigan State
Orlando, Fla.
Florida Citrus Bowl
Jan. 1
1 p.m.
Gator Bowl
Mississippi State vs. Michigan
Jacksonville, Fla.
Municipal Stadium
Jan. 1
1:30 p.m.
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
Wisconsin vs. TCU
Pasadena, Calif.
Rose Bowl
Jan. 1
5 p.m.
Tostitos Fiesta
Connecticut vs. Oklahoma
Glendale, Ariz.
U. of Phoenix Stadium
Jan. 1
8:30 p.m.
Discover Orange
Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
Sun Life Stadium
Jan. 3
8:30 p.m.
Allstate Sugar
Ohio State vs. Arkansas
New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome
Jan. 4
8:30 p.m.
Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (Ohio)
Mobile, Ala.
Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Jan. 6
8 p.m.
AT&T Cotton
LSU vs. Texas A&M
Arlington, Texas
Cowboys Stadium
Jan. 7
8 p.m.
BBVA Compass Bowl
Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky
Birmingham, Ala.
Legion Field
Jan. 8
Kraft Fight Hunger
Nevada vs. Boston College
San Francisco
AT&T Park
Jan. 9
9 p.m.
Tostitos BCS National Championship Game
Auburn vs. Oregon
Glendale, Ariz.
U. of Phoenix Stadium
Jan. 10
8:30 p.m.

Does the NCAA Stand for “No Cam Accountability Allowed”??

We have been supporters of Auburn’s Cam Newton all season long.  His performance has deservedly made him the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy.  He’s the first player in the SEC to have passed for over 2,000 yards AND rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a single season.  Newton has the led the Tigers to a number one national ranking and, in all likelihood, a real shot at the BCS national championship.  On Saturday, he and Auburn will play for the SEC championship in a game versus South Carolina.  Looking at these stats, it is easy to justify Newton’s position as the #1 Heisman hopeful.

“Pay to play “allegations have been swirling around Newton and his father, Cecil Newton, for weeks.  The accusations were that Cecil and a former Mississippi State Bulldog player (who is now the owner of a scouting service) worked together to asked Mississippi State boosters to pay $180,000 in order for Cam to play for the Bulldogs.  Both Cam Newton and his father have denied all allegations.

For weeks, Cam Newton has refused to speak to the media about the ongoing NCAA investigation.  Instead, he has continued his phenomenal performances and has handled the scrutiny and pressure quite well.  Last weekend, he brought the Tigers back from a 24 point deficit against #9 Alabama.  The victory was a real testament to Newton’s incredible athletic abilities and focus.  Cam accounted for all  TDs in the comeback and his performance truly reinforced his first place standing in the race for the Heisman.  Based on ability alone, Newton should win the Heisman hands down.

But the past few days have brought new information to light.  The NCAA has been investigating the pay-to-play allegations since the summer.  Based on their investigation, they ruled that a violation of NCAA rules had been committed by Cecil Newton and Kenny Rogers, the former Mississippi State player.  Specifically, on Monday the NCAA ruled that a violation of Cam Newton’s amateur status had occurred.

Following NCAA guidelines, a school must rule an athlete ineligible if they are told that a possible violation has occurred.  Therefore, on Tuesday, Auburn ruled Cam Newton ineligible to play and then immediately requested that he be reinstated.  The very next day, Wednesday, the NCAA cleared Newton to play “without conditions”.

The NCAA statement said, in part…

The student-athlete’s father (Cecil Newton) and an owner of a scouting service (Kenny Rogers) worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton’s commitment to attend college and play football. NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.3.3) do not allow individuals or entities to represent a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school for an athletic scholarship.

The NCAA went on to say that they did not have “sufficient evidence” to prove that Cam was aware of his father’s attempt to sell his athletic services.

These fast and unexpected developments have certainly raised a few eyebrows.  Isn’t it quite convenient that the NCAA could reinstate Newton so quickly, given the importance of this weekend’s game against South Carolina?  If Newton had not been ruled eligible to play, Auburn’s chances against South Carolina would be greatly diminished.  If Auburn were to lose, the third ranked BCS team, TCU, would be the next contender for the national championship game.  Is it possible this factor influenced the members of the NCAA?  Yes, it seems that given the money and prestige of the BCS, the idea of a much less prominent school like TCU in the title game could have influenced the NCAA’s decision.

Furthermore, given the strict and rigid rules of the NCAA, how could they so easily accept the idea that Cam Newton was unaware that his father was trying to sell him to the highest bidder?  The NCAA routinely cracks down on small, simple violations by athletes, like accepting a dinner invitation or small gift!  In this case, there are SERIOUS allegations and now, apparently, enough evidence to implicate Newton’s very own father.  Frankly, it is just plain hard to believe that Cam was not aware of his father’s actions.

The NCAA’s ruling that Cam Newton is eligible to play was made by the body’s reinstatement committee.  However, the NCAA’s enforcement staff, a separate and independent group from the reinstatement committee, is continuing its investigation.  While Auburn may very well go on to win the SEC title and the BCS National Championship, and Newton may win the Heisman, the case is far from over. 

When allegations surfaced about NCAA violations involving Reggie Bush and USC, it took 4 YEARS for the case to be closed.  That case resulted in Bush returning his Heisman award and USC receiving major sanctions against the football program.  So, for Auburn and Cam Newton, the NCAA ruling is good news in the short term.  In the long run, this latest ruling could be meaningless.

Cam Newton’s football performance this season is Heisman worthy.  There is simply no argument about it.  With only 4 days left for voters to return their Heisman ballots, it is quite likely the winner may have already been selected.  We believe Cam Newton will win the coveted award.  What is unclear is whether he, like Reggie Bush, will be forced to relinquish the Heisman should more proof about what he knew come to light.

The NCAA’s lenient ruling in the Cam Newton saga truly is puzzling.  Given the stakes involved, it is more than surprising that they simply took Cam at his word that he was unaware of his father’s illegal and immoral actions.  For whatever reason, it seems the NCAA has decided to stand for the “No Cam Accountability Allowed” body, rather than the stringent, authoritative governing organization it has always been. 

Only time will tell whether the NCAA made the right call on Cam, or whether they were influenced by outside forces to allow him to continue his run for the Heisman, SEC title and possible national championship title.  What is clear, however, is that the NCAA’s latest Cam Newton ruling opens the door for other student athletes to simply deny knowledge of any potential violations committed by others on their behalf.  The ruling has set a dangerous precedent and is a potential serious problem for future NCAA investigations into player conduct.

A November to Remember

It’s been a November to remember on the gridiron.   As we look back on this month, here are five of our favorite unforgettable football moments…

#5 – Peculiar PAT attempt

The picture of 307 pound defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions lining up for an extra point attempt against the Jets is an image burned in our minds. Suh is on track to earn rookie of the year for his dominating defensive performance this year, but his PAT attempt has made him a YouTube star!  

#4 – Joe Paterno Earns his 400th Victory!

On November 6th, Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno earned his 400th victory.  The 83 year old football legend joined the exclusive 400 club after a comeback against Northwestern, where the Lions were down 21-0 at one point.  The Nittany Lions have a young squad (almost 5 dozen freshman and sophomores and just 8 senior starters), but were able to rally to give JoePa this milestone victory!

#3 – Mental Meltdowns and On the Field Brawls

In addition to the great gridiron this month, there was lots of unscripted action that was not drawn up in the playbook.  Vince Young’s temper tantrum, where he threw his shoulder pads into the bleachers and stormed from the locker room, is just one more memorable moment in this action-packed month. 

Another unforgettable sight was the on the field fight between Houston receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee Titan cornerback Cortland Finnegan.  At a time when the NFL seems to be trying to squash intensity and emotion, these two players showed that football is a game of adrenaline and passion that is sometimes impossible to contain.

#2 – Michael Vick

Returning to the NFL after serving 21 months in federal prison, Michael Vick’s 2010 season has been phenomenal.  His Monday Night Football performance in a game against the Redskins – 333 yards passing, 80 yards rushing and six touchdowns (4 passing, 2 rushing) – was one of most exciting moments of November.  While this past weekend may not have been his best performance (he threw his first interception of the season and committed a few fumbles), his QB rating is 106 and he remains one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the NFL. 

#1 – Twitty Tweeter

Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson dropped a potential game winning touchdown pass in overtime on Sunday.  After the Bills went on to lose to the Steelers 19-16, a distraught Johnson tweeted the following.. 

There are plenty of players who raise their heads up to praise God after a great play, but Johnson putting the blame on a higher power is certainly unique.  Twitter has given football fans a new form of amusement. Throughout the NFL players send off their latest thoughts, often without fully considering the consequences!  Johnson’s twitty tweet is simply priceless!  It’s moments like these that make football the best sport on earth and definitely made this a November to remember.

Boise State Falls to Nevada in OT… Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz Oh What a Relief it is!

College football’s most divisive team, Boise State, lost 34-31 in overtime to Nevada last night.  The Broncos were ranked 4th and were undefeated this season.  In fact, they had not lost a game since 2008, when they fell to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.  Poinsettia Bowl?  Honestly, I did not even know that bowl existed.  This loss makes it quite likely Boise will end up in a similarly named bowl of obscurity.

If you detect a bit of mockery in my tone, you are right.  Politically correct or not, I am willing to admit that I am celebrating Boise State’s defeat.  I have felt all along that they were undeserving of their 4th place ranking.  Given the current structure of the BCS, I have little faith that the actual top teams will be playing for a national title.  The idea of Boise State playing in a BCS bowl game seemed so unjust and bizarre to me.  Thankfully last night’s loss will ensure that the Broncos will not be national championship contenders.  Whew!  What a relief. 

A few days ago Ohio State University President Gordon Gee offered his opinion about Boise State and 3rd ranked Texas Christian University being possible BCS contenders.  Since that statement, he has been widely criticized.  While Gee’s words were perhaps not as eloquent as one would expect from a university president, the basic concept he was trying to convey resonated among many fans.  During an AP interview, Gee said

I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. So I think until a university runs through that gauntlet that there’s some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to (be) in the big ballgame.

It was an insensitive way to basically argue that schools like Boise State and TCU do not play with the “big boys”.  However, the OSU President should have looked at strength of schedule stats before making such a controversial, public statement.  It turns out that OSU’s strength of schedule (59) is only slightly better than TCU’s (68) and Boise’s (73).  These strength of schedule (SOS) stats have now been used against Gee by basically every sports commentator and writer around.

But to dismiss Gee’s arguments by simply quoting SOS data misses the bigger picture.  There is validity in what he was trying to say.  Frankly, the WAC and Mountain West conferences, which Boise and TCU play in, are NOT as competitive as the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-10 or the ACC.  While teams like these do play weaker opponents, the majority of their games are against teams in more powerful conferences.  For example, #2 ranked Auburn has faced Arkansas (#12 at the time), LSU (#6 at the time), South Carolina (#12 at the time) and Alabama (#11 at the time).  Conversely, Boise State’s ranked opponents have been Virginia Tech (#10 at the time) and # 19 Nevada, whom they lost to last night.

Consider the argument from yet another perspective.  If you are a high school football player, being recruited to play at the collegiate level, would you choose a school from the Mountain West over ANY school in the PAC-10, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 or SEC?  Of course there are exceptions, but the majority of elite high school prospects choose colleges from the powerhouse conferences.  This means that week after week teams like Auburn, Alabama and OSU face athletes who are simply stronger, faster, bigger and yes, better.  So until Boise State and TCU can compete against better caliber opponents on a consistent basis, football fans like me will continue to doubt them.

All the controversy about strength of schedules, BCS computer rankings and so forth could be eliminated if a college football playoff system was implemented.  It would put an end to the endless arguing about who deserves to play in the major BCS bowls.  Gordon Gee is not a proponent of a playoff system and prefers the status quo.  If he truly believes OSU is far superior to teams like Boise and TCU, he should welcome NCAA playoffs. 

In the meantime, people like me have to sit back and hope that the football media darlings, like Boise State, fall from grace and get eliminated from the national championship discussion.  If you listen closely, you can hear the sigh of relief from football fans throughout the land.

Cam Newton is the Comeback Kid!

If you watched Auburn vs. Alabama today in the Iron Bowl, I hope you didn’t turn it off at halftime to go grab some Black Friday bargains.  The game was one of the most exciting deals you could ask for and it was certainly a tale of two halves!

Auburn entered the game ranked 2nd in the nation.  The atmosphere at Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium was hostile, with much of the hatred directed at Auburn QB Cam Newton.  Newton has been embroiled in pay for play allegations for weeks.  As the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, it is not surprising that Alabama Crimson Tide fans targeted Newton.   They threw play Monopoly money at him as he entered the stadium and the loudspeakers blared out the song “Take the Money and Run” during pre-game warm-ups.  In the end, though, Newton would silence all his critics with the biggest comeback n Auburn’s history!

The first half was dominated by 9th ranked Alabama, who at one point led 24-0 in front of their home crowd.  Alabama tore the Auburn Tiger defense to shreds and it looked as though a blow out was developing.  In fact, the Tide controlled the first half so completely that it was 21-0 before Auburn even gained a first down! 

Cam Newton had a dreadful start and at the end of the first quarter was 0 for 1 in passing and had 5 carries for negative 6 yards.  Late in the 2nd quarter, Auburn finally answered back with a 36 yard TD pass from Newton to wide out Emory Blake to close the scoring gap to 24-7.  Little did anyone know it was just the beginning of the Cam Newton Comeback Show.

In the second half, Newton threw a 70 yard TD pass on the second play to make it 24-14.  The Tiger defense stepped up and forced Alabama to punt, allowing Newton and his offense to work their magic.  Late in the 3rd quarter, Auburn scored again, this time on a Cam Newton run, to bring the score to 24-21.  With just over a minute left in the 3rd quarter, Alabama kicked a field goal and led 27-21.

In the first half, the Auburn defense gave up 379 yards to the Crimson Tide offense.  But Auburn’s defense looked like a different unit when they emerged from the locker room and held Alabama to just 67 yards in the second half!  Another Cam Newton passing TD early in the 4th quarter gave Auburn the lead for the first time, 28-27.  The Tigers would keep that lead and prevent Alabama from scoring for the rest of the game.

Cam Newton’s performance was indeed magical.  Alabama had won 20 consecutive home games and it looked as though they were about to seal their 21st victory.   But Newton would not be deterred.  His determination to keep Auburn’s undefeated record and national championship hopes alive was remarkable and should solidify his #1 position in the Heisman race. 

Despite the hostility directed at him and the incredible media scrutiny he is under, Newton was able to keep his composure and lead his team from what seemed an insurmountable 24-0 deficit.  He threw for 216 yards and 3 TDs, as well as running for a TD.  At the end of the game, he not only defeated the Crimson Tide football team, but also silenced the more than 100,000 fans who left the stadium in stunned silence.  On so many levels, Cam Newton truly was the Comeback Kid today!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game! A College Doubleheader on the Baseball Diamonds…

Two Major League Baseball stadiums host college football games today.  New York’s Yankee Stadium will be the site at 7 pm tonight for the Army Black Knights vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish game.  Chicago’s Wrigley Field hosts the Northwestern Wildcats vs. the Fighting Illini of Illinois in a game dubbed the “Allstate Wrigleyville Classic”.  Playing football in baseball venues is not new.  It is a decades old tradition that is being brought back to life this weekend.

 Army and Notre Dame have played in a number of baseball stadiums in New York, including Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds.  In 1925, the teams met at Yankee Stadium for the first time, playing on the hallowed grounds nearly every year until 1946.   The last time the two teams played there was 1969.

Now the Bronx has a new Yankee Stadium and this will be the first time it is hosting a college football game.  The baseball diamond has been entirely transformed into a football field.  The concept of using the venue for football games was part of the original architectural plans for the new stadium.  As a result, preparing it for tonight’s matchup was fairly simple.  Just after the baseball season ended, goal posts were installed.  Sod was put down a few weeks ago and the field fits perfectly within the stadium.  It looks like an ideal location for tonight’s game between these two historic, college football rivals!

Northwestern and Illinois are long time rivals as well, with a history dating back to 1892.  Today’s contest will be their 104th game against each other.  The last time the two Big Ten rivals played at Wrigley was in 1923.  There hasn’t been a college football game played at Wrigley Field since 1938.  The last professional football game was played there in 1970.

Wrigley Field has been transformed for today’s football game, but it was a much more difficult challenge.  The Chicago venue is smaller than Yankee Stadium, so one goal post is actually attached to the outfield wall!  In some areas of the field, there is less than one foot from the field to the brick walls.  As a result of this tight fit, the NCAA decided that both teams will drive toward the west goal post when they are on offense.  The phrase “Go West, Young Man” certainly feels appropriate for today’s game!

Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium are each unique and steeped in their own rich histories.  They offer the perfect venues to revive this long time tradition.  So grab some “peanuts and cracker jack” and enjoy today’s doubleheader featuring some of the most historic rivalries in college football.

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