Making Tuesday Fun Since 2006!
--- ESPN's Bruce Feldman recalls the folksy charm of Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner who died last week after a battle with brain cancer.
He reminded me a lot of Wyoming coach Joe Glenn in that he was one of those guys you try to get to know because you hear all the stories about what a great guy he is. And usually when such stories are coming from cynics like many of us in the media, that's not a long list.
Also: the endless and complex saga of recruit
Leon Jerrell Powe.
Also: Friday Mailbag. Football movie talk, Indiana folks love Terry Hoeppner, Feldman's pick for the one game he most wants to go to this year, Florida's offseason arrest spree and its effect on recruiting and media backlash after three years of Charlie Weis hype.
--- ESPN's Ivan Maisel looks at the Randy Walker/Terry Hoeppner connection.
On the day Indiana University hired Terry Hoeppner as its football coach, his counterpart at Northwestern, Randy Walker, warned his staff.
"Better buckle it up, boys," Walker said. "Indiana will be a force to be reckoned with now that Terry's in charge."
Also: opening up the mailbag. Ivan's a little jumpy after scads of emails poured in about his comparison between the tactics of people who attacked Houston Nutt's character and "Rovian" political skills. Also inside: more Terry Hoeppner recollections, more discussion of the '94 Colorado/Michigan game, revisiting Dennis Erickson's scandalous past and Cal's most important opponent in '07.
Also: ESPN unveils "The 100" - "the plays, performances and moments that define college football"
The first 20 have been made available: 81-100 (see link above).
--- ESPN's Pat Forde recalls Terry Hoeppner's legacy at Indiana while needlessly piling on with the "miserable football history at IU" sidestory.
--- Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel starts another round of the Mailbag and adds some random predictions. Included this week: Terry Hoeppner, Cal trying to move the preseason needles once more, the John Blake/Butch Davis connection at North Carolina, the best quarterback in the state of Florida, best rivalry game trophy, a TCU fan getting chippy about Louisville's hype, the mid-majors vs. Non-BCS argument (I prefer Non-BCS; mid-major is just soooooooo college basketball) and Purdue's '07 fate.
CBS SportsLine's Dennis Dodd looks at the trend of athletes enrolling at USC without having completed four years of high school.
John David Booty (football), Daniel Hackett (basketball) and Robert Stock (baseball) have all taken this route.
The basic point was this: If the honors program didn't admit Stock, he would be turning professional with a $1 million-plus bonus. If he enrolls, the majors can't touch him for three years.
"It is a non-traditional path but it has paid dividends for him," said associate AD and education professor Brandon Wright, a liaison between the athletic department and admissions office. "I wouldn't recommend it for every kid. When I first met the kid, he just came across as being beyond his years."
Carroll set the tone for the young and restless. He has played more than 40 true freshmen over the past four years.
"They're not afraid to compete," Steve Sarkisian said. "They don't care what the depth chart looks like. They don't care how many guys are at their position. They believe in themselves and that they want to compete."
Carroll's offensive coordinator was talking about football players, but he might as well had been talking about a USC ethic.
--- Yahoo! Sports' Terry Bowden says goodbye to late Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner.
Also: a visit with Dick Vermeil and observations of some of what made him such an accomplished coach.
--- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes writes that Terry Hoeppner had a champ's heart.
I called Terry Hoeppner and asked him about playing BCS teams, and what he could do from a technical standpoint to even out the talent disparity. You know, X's and O's stuff.
He was coaching Miami of Ohio, and his team was set to play at LSU, a week after nearly beating an Iowa team that would end up playing in the Orange Bowl.
"Forget about personnel," Hoeppner said. "These are the games where you find what kind of heart you have."
In other words, how badly do you want it? How badly do you want to prove yourself?
How fitting then, that Hoeppner somehow made it through last season at Indiana while battling brain cancer. That he never gave in to the awful disease; that, yes, he had something to prove. He finally succumbed this morning, and college football is less of a game without him.
Miami didn't come close against LSU in 2002, absorbing a big loss that humbled a young rising quarterback by the name of Ben Roethlisberger. A few days later, I spoke with Hoeppner again as a follow-up to the story, and his response was just as revealing.
"I guarantee this team is on the verge, this team believes, this team has something to prove," he said.
Miami won 27 of its next 36 games under Hoeppner before he left to coach Indiana -- a job many in his profession told him not to take. Why leave the safety of success for the uncertainty of the dregs of the BCS world?
Because, he said, he had something to prove.
Also: a clean slate as a result of the offseason coaching purge at Florida State may have saved Bobby Bowden's job.
"He was closer to being forced out than many people think," says one prominent FSU booster. Now Bowden is closer to outlasting fellow coaching icon Joe Paterno in the race for most career wins.
We can debate whether Bowden is as sharp as he once was (of course he is), and whether coaches of other elite programs would've been fired after a five-season run that included 22 losses (of course they would've).
The reality is this: Bowden's gutting of his longtime, like-minded staff will allow him to gradually and gracefully walk away from the game a winner instead of going out kicking and screaming -- and losing. All without damaging his platinum legacy.
Also: Inside Dish. Big 12 commish concerns, USF and Miami look to play each other and the USC/UCLA rivalry extends to the recruiting world.
Also: Mail Call. Trading um, emails with angry Alabama fans.
--- The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart ranks the best and worst helmet and uniform designs.
I'll agree to disagree with a lot of that.
No doubt, the SEC is watching the BTN. It's the only other league that I think is a viable option to start its own network. The SEC almost HAS to start a network to keep pace with the Big Ten from a competitive balance standpoint. Think of it: There are reports that each Big Ten school will receive around $7.5 million this year from the Big Ten Network. More money leads to better facilities and coaching salaries. The SEC has to follow suit. It's like Coke vs. Pepsi.
When I talked with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive this week, he wouldn't put odds on if or when his league would launch its own network, since the conference still has TV deals with CBS, ESPN and Lincoln Financial that run through 2008-09. But I have to think it's just a matter of time. It's all about money and control of your product. And that's what an in-house network provides.
And, you can count on this: The SEC will learn from the BTN -- and probably do things even better.
"At our league meetings this offseason in Destin, Fla., I was authorized to explore the possibility of an SEC network with enthusiasm," Slive said. "We will be watching the Big Ten Network closely."
Also: The HIT system could help better determine concussions and severe head injuries.
Also: Christmas wishes in June.
--- The Sporting News'/Rivals.com's Mike Farrell asks "how young is too young to commit?"
Basketball's entire recruiting process has been absurd for a while now, so it's hard to get any more alarmed than I already am. However, the good thing with football is that there appears to be a limit to how much projection can truly be made on a prospect. Although more kids are being offered and making verbal commitments as sophomores, I doubt we'll see too much more of that going forward.
This actually relates to the "early signing period" debate in college football. Most coaches who object to it argue that they don't get enough time to evaluate the background, grades and character of a recruit. I would add that such an early signing date is a handicap in the football evaluation process.
I have some friends in the recruiting business and I hear stories all the time about coaches and schools changing their minds about a recruit a handful of times in a year, right up to signing day. And these doubts aren't just for back-of-the-class guys, but frontline players. Kids grow, their work ethic may change for better or worse, they can get injured, their skills may peak, or a school/coaches may simply mis-evaluate the actual talent and ability of such players and not catch their errors until a colleague and fresh pair of eyes points something out. The more time given towards evaluation, the less mistakes made by both sides.
With basketball I guess the coaches are comfortable projecting pre-high-schoolers into college, but somehow I doubt football coaches trust both the recruits and their own evaluation abilities enough to dive much farther into that fountain of youth.
--- CSTV's Trev Alberts answers his mailbag. Like Phil Steele, he thinks the Mountain West is the best non-BCS conference and not the WAC. Hmm ... He's also lukewarm about Penn State's '07 prospects and addresses hypocrisy in college football (with a bonus, seemingly unrelated dig at the nutty environmentalism hypocrisy of mega-polluters John Travolta and Al Gore).
As Ivan Maisel (above) was hit with conservative reader complaints about his Karl Rove crack, this will be sure to get responses from Trev's more liberal readers. Sports and politics and pundits, who knew?
Two interesting quotes from this:
But I agree with the original question; schools play on whatever night the networks dictate as long as the revenues are there. I think the only way if you're unhappy if your team is consistently playing on the weeknights is to have enough alumni and boosters say you're taking away from the core thing that makes college football so great: the Saturday afternoon in the fall where the family goes to the game and there's tailgating. But it's all about revenue. You'd like something to be special, like have games played on one night a week other than Saturday. There is too much college football played midweek. And that's unfair.
It's ludicrous how you can have a conference that allows teams to not play everyone.
The first quote is interesting because I love a little midweek football to get me through the week, but it can't be fun for fans of schools playing on Tuesdays (!) or more than one Thursday night game a week.
The second quote I wholeheartedly agree with.
--- Sun Sports TV's Whit Watson has some nice things to say about College Football Resource (gracias!).
College Football Resource: The editor of this site, Brian, has e-mailed back and forth with me several times on the topic of a playoff in Division I football, of which he is decidedly not a fan. He also loves the Artists and Mechanics Theory (and really, who doesn't?), and we've shared some space on that very topic. I always stop at CFR at some point during the day. Not only does it find all the interesting stories for me, I also get to enjoy weekly anti-playoff rants, which is worth the price of admission.
--- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's Wendell Barnhouse has a terrific breakdown of the Big 12's revenue sharing scheme.
--- The Mobile Register's Paul Finebaum says Nick Saban's huge salary is worth the risk.
By the way, Saban isn't a mere football coach; those guys are a dime a dozen. He's a hired gun. You tell him he has a job to do -- in this case, restore Alabama's shattered football reputation, beat Auburn, compete for SEC and national titles. You negotiate a price. He says yes and the money changes hands. No questions asked.
To read articles and blog entries from many other college football writers, be sure and visit CFR's "The Punditry" links. You can either bookmark that link or find it via CFR's College Football Links section on the menu at left.
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