PostHeaderIcon OKLAHOMA's STOOPS MAKES A CURIOUS, QUESTIONABLE ADDITION IN GREEN-BECKHAM

I’ve always placed Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops near the top of the respect ladder when it comes to rating FBS head coaches, but I have to question his decision to allow former Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to join the Sooners.

Green-Beckham had as many as four off-field incidents at Mizzou, including allegedly tossing a fellow student down a flight of stairs and two arrests relating to marijuana.

Stoops does have a great track record of running a strict program with limited off-the-field issues, and has rehabbed players’ broken images in the past. But this point precedes that – why give this player yet another chance when it appears he had wasted his second, third and fourth chances?

There should be serious ramifications for his actions, such as having to watch college football on TV for a full season before being eligible for the NFL draft, where his character issues would be poked and prodded by the league’s CIA-like investigators.

My hunch is this has something to do with Stoops’ grudge against the SEC.

I would doubt Green-Beckham, as talented as he is (17 touchdown receptions in two seasons), would be able to set foot anywhere near the Norman campus if Missouri still was a member of the Big 12. But since the Tigers bolted for the SEC, there is no love lost there.

Only Stoops knows if that is true.

 

But the move sure is curious.

Last Updated (Friday, 04 July 2014 09:30)

 

PostHeaderIcon IT'S TIME FOR FLORIDA STATE TO BRING DOWN HAMMER ON THE STAR QUARTERBACK

Jameis Winston joked last August – before he ever played a football game for Florida State – that should he have an off-season full of distractions and shady extra-curricular shenanigans like reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel – reporters should take their tape recorders and smack him on the head.

Well, it’s time for the FSU administration to take a metaphorical tape recorder to the current reigning Heisman winner’s head.

And suspend him for the football team’s first three games of the 2014 season.

It’s obvious that Winston, after dodging something so serious as rape charges last November, and any discipline for a BB-gun fight that left the campus glass man busy, and allegations he stole soda from a fast-food restaurant, just doesn’t get it.

Now he’s put himself in the news for swiping some crab legs at Publix.

No word whether he sticky-fingered some melted butter or cocktail sauce as well.

Simply, it’s time for Winston, who can emit the feeling of entitlement off the field just as easy as he does confidence on the field, to grow up.

The New York Times has reported that a second girl at Florida State has reported she “was shaken up” after a sexual encounter with Winston, too. Perhaps the only reason Winston wasn’t disciplined/or charged the first time around is the fact he lawyered-up and didn’t talk to FSU investigators.

What you see is a pattern developing. A bad one.

It’s time for FSU to bring down the hammer on their star quarterback/relief pitcher.

The school has nothing to lose but its reputation. They won a national title with him on the field. They re-established their standing as a football power with one spectacular season.

Now it’s time to restore some integrity into the process.

 

Last Updated (Friday, 04 July 2014 09:04)

 

PostHeaderIcon ON SPRING FOOTBALL GAMES, ATTENDANCE (or lack thereof) AND CHERISHED MEMORIES

Braxton Miller, one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy heading into the 2014 season, made news last Saturday even though he didn’t play in Ohio State’s annual spring game.

After the game, Miller, sidelined after having right shoulder surgery, sent out a tweet that made national news.

He mentioned the 61,058 fans who showed up for Saturday’s scrimmage – and then listed Michigan’s spring game attendance – 15,000. He then gave a shout out to Buckeye fans “best fans in the land!”

When it comes to the best rivalry in college football, there's not much to debate when it comes to spring football. Miller’s got a point – I, too, watched the Wolverines’ spring game on the Big Ten Network and wondered how the “Big House” could be a little more than one-tenth full for an annual spring game.

Spring attendance can be gauged in many ways, including the weather, but largely is predicated on the optimism of a fan base. For example, Tennessee fans who have suffered through a decade of mediocrity led the SEC with 68,548 last Saturday. Vol fans are thrilled with Butch Jones entering his second season as head coach.

Alabama plays its spring game this Saturday and probably will surpass all NCAA schools. The Tide drew 93,000 two years ago. The Buckeyes had 95,000 in 2009 and more than 80,000 for Urban Meyer’s first spring in 2012.

Likewise, Penn State fans are looking forward to the James Franklin era. The Nittany Lion athletic department announced an estimated attendance at 72,000, which would lead the Big Ten in spring attendance. However, BTN’s cameras showing the stands at Beaver Stadium seemed to show far more empty seats.

One thing most be noted – only Ohio State charges admission for the spring game. Advance tickets cost $12 and the day-of-the-game price was dropped to $5.

Whether they got their money’s worth is up for debate – Ohio State’s scarlet and gray teams combined to score two offensive touchdowns Saturday. But hey, after a long, tough winter, the temperature was in the 70s and the sun was shining.

Spring games have come a long way over the years, thanks to television and media coverage.

I remember the first time I attended an Ohio State spring game. It was May, 1970, and the Buckeyes only six months removed from that heartbreaking 24-12 upset at Michigan, snapping a 22-game winning streak. It was cold and windy and there must have been no more than 20,000 fans in Ohio Stadium during that spring game, despite the fact the Buckeyes had a 20-1 record the previous two seasons.

I was 10 years old and remember having one of the greatest days of my young life. I had my picture taken with Lou Groza, a former Buckeye who was sitting a few rows behind us. After the game, All-America tackle Rufus Mayes, who appeared only slightly bigger than Morrill Tower, handed me his sweaty chinstrap. I only wish I still it. I shook hands with Rex Kern and John Brockington.

Following the game, we drove up to the Biggs Athletic Center, a rustic facility where the players showered and changed. Jim Stillwagon, then an All-America nose guard, walked out of the West entrance, wearing a brown sweater and with his cleats tied together and hanging off his shoulder. I had my picture taken with him as we both squinted in the sunshine.

The following season would end in heartbreak again as the undefeated Buckeyes were upset by Stanford and a quarterback named Jim Plunkett in the Rose Bowl when Brockington was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Stanford 20-yard line.

Stanford was then known as the Indians, not the Cardinal.

It shows how times have changed.

Now some 44 years later, the Biggs – as the players called it then – is named the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and it is a state-of-the-art palace. I got to know Lou Groza in the early 1990s when the Palm Beach County Sports Commission founded the Lou Groza Award and I was a member of the original voting committee. Long after their playing days were finished, Kern became a friend, as did Stillwagon. For old times sake, we took a picture together recently and placed in the foreword of What It Means to Be a Buckeye.

Anyway, spring games do serve a purpose. They are for avoiding injuries, for young players (more than 12 Ohio State starters did not play last Saturday) -- and for young fans who may never get the chance to see a big-time college game on a fall Saturday.

Some other spring game attendance figures…

Penn State – 72,000

Tennessee – 68,548

Ohio State – 61,058

Georgia– 46,073

South Carolina – 36,412

Florida – 35,834

Mississippi State – 21,710

Michigan – 15,000

Vanderbilt – 8,400

 

Last Updated (Thursday, 17 April 2014 22:48)

 

PostHeaderIcon HERE'S HOPING PROPOSED RULE CHANGE TO SLOW DOWN OFFENSES GETS SHOT DOWN

On one side, you have Arkansas’ Bret Bielema and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

On the other, there are Auburn’s Guz Malzahan, Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville, Arizona’s Rich Rodriquez, Washington State’s Mike Leach, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer among others.

At issue is whether the NCAA rules committee will approve a measure to slow down hurry-up offenses, implementing a time restriction of when offenses can and cannot snap the ball. Proposed is a mandatory 10-second waiting period from the end of the previous play. Offenses which snap the football with more than 29 seconds remaining on the play clock would receive a five-yard penalty.

And as expected, coaches are lining up to choose sides, depending on the style of offense their teams operate, etc.

“It's ridiculous,” Rodriguez exclaimed of the proposal.

Proponents of the rule change have stated making the change is for safety reasons, but you have to wonder if it’s because their defenses have had trouble dealing with no-huddle, hurry-up offenses. Not coincidentally, none of the proponents of the change operate those type of offenses.

“There's absolutely zero documented evidence that is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions, Malzahn told reporters Tuesday.

This became a hot topic during SEC media days last August, with Malzahn and Saban on opposite ends of the spectrum, typical of any Auburn and Alabama head coaches throughout history.

The rule change will be voted upon March 6 and there seems to be a recent momentum change toward voting down the proposal.

“The key is this: I think the only way that it can or it should become a rule is if it is indeed a safety concern. And that can't be something that's a speculation or a possibility," rules committee chairman and Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun said. “I think there's got to be something empirical there where you realize, 'Yep, this truly is a health matter' in terms of not being able to get a defensive player off the field.”

Let’s only hope this momentum continues right up through the vote.

I love Rich Rod’s explanation the best. He stated the case perfectly when he said: “It goes back to the fundamental rules of football. The offense knows where they are going and when they are going to snap the ball. That's their advantage. The defense is allowed to move all 11 guys before the ball is snapped. That's their advantage.”

He’s correct: Making this rule change would change the fundamental part of the game itself.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 19 February 2014 13:42)

 

PostHeaderIcon MILLER HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO RETURN TO OHIO STATE FOR HIS SENIOR SEASON

 

Braxton Miller’s decision to return to Ohio State for his senior season falls under the no-brainer category in my book.

Miller isn’t close to being an NFL-ready quarterback by any means, and it shocks me that he even considered such a jump to the pro level at this stage. He would have been a fourth-round pick at best, by most estimates.

“I want to help this team win a Big Ten championship next year,” Miller said in a statement released by Ohio State. “Plus, I want to improve as a quarterback in all aspects of my game. I’m looking forward to working for another year with Coach Meyer and Coach Herman. And I want to graduate, so this will help get me closer to my academic goal.”

Miller’s trouble in the pocket during the final month of the season was very revealing. He struggled passing against Indiana in the cold and snow, against Michigan on a clear, non-windy day, in the Big Ten title loss to Michigan State inside a dome, and then again in the Discover Orange Bowl in the loss to Clemson.

There is no doubting his arm strength, but Miller’s still a neophyte as far as determining what throws to make in what situations. For example, he had tight end Jeff Heuerman open for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Orange Bowl but threw a frozen rope just out of his grasp. The play called for a softer pass with more air under it. To his credit, he made that adjustment in the second quarter when hitting a wide-open Heuerman for a touchdown.

But then in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line and the Buckeyes having just intercepted Tajh Boyd to give them a sudden chance at stealing the game, he made the same mistake again.

He had Philly Brown over the middle, but the play-action didn’t fool any Clemson linebackers – it was an obvious passing situation, yet Miller threw directly at Brown, instead of lofting the pass over the inside linebacker’s head. If he makes the right throw, there is a good chance Ohio State ends the season 13-1.

One of Miller’s greatest troubles is standing in a closed pocket and throwing over/around the tackles. Many of his passes get batted down because of his size and his decisions not to move around inside the pocket to find the open throwing lanes. That is one attribute you see from All-Pro quarterbacks who lack great height. Drew Brees is the best at it. He stands 6-feet on a good day, yet knows how to move between the tackles to find the open throwing lane.

On the flip side, there is no better running/scrambling quarterback in all of football than Miller. And he likely will need that skill in 2014 since the Buckeyes will be replacing four offensive linemen. I would like to see Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Jeff Herman get Miller outside the pocket more, or roll him out more, next season – and it might be required. Even give him more run/pass options, because he is perfectly suited for it.

I thought that is what they should have done in the closing minutes of the Orange Bowl. Both of Miller’s two interceptions late in the game came as he stood squarely in the pocket.

Other quick thoughts this  post-bowl season…..

· Bill O’Brien leaving Penn State is good for the rest of the Big Ten, most notably Ohio State. It was a matter of time (two more years’ NCAA probation remaining) before O’Brien made the Nittany Lions an annual contender. The guy has the right stuff to recruit and coach at a level in order to win national championships. If Penn State secures the hire of Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, not so much…

· Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich needs his head examined after hiring Bobby Petrino. Petrino once left the Cardinals’ program one year after signing a 10-year contract. He stayed less than one season with the Atlanta Falcons, then bolted for Arkansas, where he left in disgrace when he was caught having an affair. After one year at Western Kentucky, he is back in Louisville. Talk about winning at all costs …

· Brady Hoke’s firing of offensive coordinator Al Borges came less than two weeks after promising there would be no staff changes. And the hiring of Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier one day later tells me that he reached out to him before he let Borges go. If Nussmeier had turned him down, he probably would have retained Borges…

· The coaches’ hot seat heading into 2014 will surely include Hoke, along with Illinois’ Tim Beckman, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Rutgers’ Kyle Flood and Kansas’ Charlie Weis to name a few.

Last Updated (Friday, 10 January 2014 15:49)

 
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