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NCAAF: Alabama vs. Miami in a 2012 opener at the Georgia Dome?

May 5, 2010 Comments off

Alabama played in the 2008 and 2009 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Games at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Now there’s talk of the Crimson Tide returning in 2012.

Gary Stokan, president of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, told the Miami Herald that he would like to match Miami against Alabama in the 2012 kickoff game. If not Alabama, he said, Auburn, Georgia or South Carolina would be opponents to consider.

Alabama defeated Clemson in the 2008 opener at the Georgia Dome and came back last season to defeat Virginia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game.

Last week, it was reported that Alabama and Georgia Tech will postponed a home-and-home series. The two schools were scheduled to play in 2013 and 2014. Makeup dates have not been announced.

Miami athletics director Kirby Hocutt told the Herald that he wants to schedule a 2012 game at a neutral site. A game in Chicago against a Big East or Big Ten team also is being considered.

The 2012 Chick-Fil-A game would pay each participant $2.25 million, the Herald said.

“It’s something we would be interested in,” Hocutt told the Herald.

Tennessee and North Carolina State already are scheduled to play in one kickoff game at the Georgia Dome in the opening weekend of the 2012 season, according to the Herald. The proposed Miami game against Alabama or another Southeastern Conference team would be a second kickoff game that weekend.

Alabama defeated Miami 34-13 in the 1993 Sugar Bowl to win the 1992 national championship.

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NCAAF: Mitch Mustain shines, Matt Barkley hurt during final spring scrimmage

May 3, 2010 Comments off

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Starting quarterback Barkley injures throwing hand when it strikes a defensive lineman’s helmet. Mustain, his backup, throws for five touchdowns, mostly against the second-team defense. Coach Lane Kiffin is unhappy with the offense in general.

There is no quarterback controversy at USC.


Sophomore Matt Barkley was the starter last season, maintained his status this spring and, barring injury, will no doubt be under center for the Trojans when they open the season Sept. 2 at Hawaii.

But on an afternoon when Barkley suffered a hand injury, senior Mitch Mustain stirred the fan base Saturday by passing for nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns in the Trojans’ final spring scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Mustain has sat behind Mark Sanchez and Barkley since transferring from Arkansas in 2007. He also, at times, was behind Aaron Corp, who transferred to Richmond after last season.

Not one to get overly excited about anything — most of his touchdown passes, after all, came against the second-unit defense — Mustain acknowledged after the scrimmage that he was encouraged by his prospects.

Why?

“One less guy in front of me,” he said, “and [I’m] playing pretty well.”

Mustain, freshman tailback Dillon Baxter, senior fullbackStanley Havili and senior receiver Travon Pattersonwere the other standout playmakers during a 98-play scrimmage.

Asked to assess his team heading into the off-season, first-year Coach Lane Kiffin, as usual, did not mince words.

“Our defense has a chance to be really good,” Kiffin said. “I think our offense has a long, long, long ways to go, especially in the run game.”

USC’s first-team offense irked Kiffin, who doubles as offensive coordinator, by going scoreless in the first half.

“We told the players at halftime, they were going to take their scholarship checks and give them back to the fans that came out today because it was an embarrassing performance,” Kiffin said.

Barkley responded by connecting with Patterson for a 41-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. But defensive tackle Jurrell Casey hit Barkley on the play, the quarterback’s right hand slamming into the defender’s helmet.

“Like throwing your hand full force into a wall,” said Barkley, who completed seven of 16 passes for 87 yards.


Barkley, who had surgery on his right wrist after last season, lay sprawled on the ground for several moments after the play and was examined by doctors on the sideline. He spent the rest of the afternoon with an icepack on the back of his right hand. A school spokesman said Barkley would be reexamined on Monday. Kiffin removed Casey from the scrimmage for knocking down the quarterback.

Baxter rushed for 129 yards in 13 carries and provided the highlight play when he took a handoff, spun twice behind the line of scrimmage and broke free for a 58-yard gain.

Asked whether he had seen that move before, Kiffin said, “Yeah, PlayStation 2. R-2 button.”

Said Baxter: “The second spin came out of nowhere. . . . I was able to make plays after that.”

Havili scored on touchdown pass plays of 28, 33 and 50 yards, all from Mustain, who finished 19 for 29 for 299 yards. Mustain also caught a pass from Baxter.

Kiffin praised Mustain for his work during the spring, but Barkley, who did not have a pass intercepted in four scrimmages, is the starter heading into training camp.

“We think we have two quarterbacks that can really help us win,” Kiffin said.

Kiffin is not as enamored of other parts of the offense. He said the Trojans have “zero depth” at receiver and wants more from the offensive line and running backs.

USC players now begin three months of off-season workouts. Training camp begins in August.

Quick hits

Linebacker Michael Morgan had seven tackles, linebacker Malcolm Smith six. . . . Cornerback Shareece Wright had five tackles and three pass deflections. . . . Patterson had five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. . . . Tailback Allen Bradford rushed for 48 yards in seven carries,Curtis McNeal 44 in eight and Marc Tyler 31 in seven. . . . Freshman receiver Kyle Pratercaught an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback James Boyd.

NCAAF: New NCAA rule – two coaches per limousine, please

May 1, 2010 Comments off

How many assistant football coaches does it take to meet with a high school guidance counselor?

That’s what the NCAA is trying to figure out. Thursday, the NCAA Legislative Council passed a rule that was first proposed in January to limit the number of assistant coaches a school can send to any one high school on any given day during the spring evaluation period.

Locally, this rule may go down as the “Tiger Prowl” rule, because it was Auburn’s coaching staff that took a not-uncommon practice of overwhelming the campus of five-star football prospects in numbers too big to ignore but throwing in the attention-getting twist of having those coaches arrive in a limousine.

Just this week, seven Georgia assistants showed up at Carver High in Columbus, Ga., on Monday, followed by six Auburn assistants on Tuesday, and four Florida State assistants on Wednesday.

They were not allowed any actual contact with recruits but were there, officially, to “evaluate” — look at transcripts, talk to coaches and teachers, and observe if prospects are participating in authorized high school activities.

As of Friday, in the future those visits will have to be limited to a maximum of two assistant coaches per school per day.

Oddly enough, the rule passed Thursday doesn’t make it illegal for coaches to show up in a bus or limousine. The “rationale” given by the NCAA for the rule did mention buses and limousines, but technically Auburn can continue to evaluate from the back seat of a stretch Hummer as long as only two assistants are doing the evaluating per school per day.

The bigger question is, why would a coaching staff even think to show up at the front door of a high school in a limo?

To get attention, of course; to send a subtle message to top recruits that this school and this staff does everything with style.

Style. Not substance.

Ironically, back when the old University of Miami program was under investigation by the NCAA for various rules violations in the 1980s, one of the accusations had to do with players traveling in limousines. Legend has it that crafty Miami defense attorneys representing “The U” actually got the NCAA to agree that limousine travel was just another form of public transportation.

But imagine what people would say if a Yellow Cab pulled up in front of Leeds High and six assistant coaches from Alabama got out. Or if a bus pulled up to the bus stop in front of Minor High and four assistants from Auburn all got off.

Those assistant coaches wouldn’t be bringing any less substance to the purpose of their visit. But they would certainly be arriving with a lot less style.

I’m told the rule was not actually aimed at Auburn. The legislation was sponsored by the Big East Conference in response to evaluation escapades in the great Northeast that a number of schools objected to.

But once again we’re reminded that the reason the NCAA rule book is — according to coaches — too thick and too hard to follow is because of the coaches’ own propensity to spend so much time trying to find loopholes in those rules.

Six coaches to meet with a high school guidance counselor? That sounds like too many men with too much time on their hands, if you ask me.

If coaches aren’t careful, they might just convince the NCAA that there isn’t really a need for a spring evaluation at all.

NCAAF: What’s Your Deal? For Stanford, a Wry, USC-Poking Ticket Promotion

April 29, 2010 Comments off

Last fall, Stanford whipped USC, 55-21, a result shocking enough before you remember that Stanford maybe ran up the score a bit, and maybe made Pete Carroll a little mad. His “What’s your deal?” exchange with Jim Harbaugh made the rounds after that game, and amused those in the college football flock who found Carroll having to ask other coaches about running up the score rather beautifully ironic.

This spring, Stanford’s turning the exchange into a promotion.

It’s genius, really: Stanford’s selling tickets to a group of games that includes the Cardinal’s home date against USC by marketing that phrase. That’s all. It’s a pun on deal and a nyah-nyah-we-won-last-year gesture, an atypical bit of gloating from a program that hasn’t been able to do a ton in recent years. But with Harbaugh at the helm, Stanford has been good enough to do a little bragging, and has an outside chance at a Pac-10 title this year, should Andrew Luck become the superb quarterback many suspect he can be.

The only reason to be at all miffed by this is because deference to Carroll apparently would have derailed the plan.

I’m told that Harbaugh thought about the “What’s your deal?” idea for several days and, along with a few department staffers, decided that it wasn’t in poor taste because Carroll has moved on to the Seahawks.Were Carroll still at USC, there’s no way Stanford would be doing this.

Stanford being scared about irritating an opposing coach is a tip-off that the Cardinal are new at this. For what it’s worth, our resident Stanford fan, The Baseline’s Eric Freeman, thinks it would have been funnier if Carroll were still in Los Angeles, and I agree.

But getting the wry joke in at USC’s expense is still fun. And lest we forget, USC’s now coached by Lane Kiffin; I’m sure if Stanford wins again, there will be a biting joke to be made in the aftermath of this year’s matchup.

NCAAF: NCAA’s New President A Playoff Sort Of Guy; Will It Matter?

April 29, 2010 Comments off

So the NCAA’s new president isn’t Michael Adams, which is displeasing to Georgia fans but should get a thumbs up from everyone else. The new guy is Washington president Mark Emmert, and he’s going to get right on something or another right away:

“We want to continue the reforms that Myles and his colleagues got started,” Emmert said. “I do not have specific academic reform I’ll be championing in the next 30 days. … I don’t foresee revolutionary change in academic … it’s an evolution (from) where we are now.”

(Questionable ellipses in original. Academic what? Don’t know.) All right, then. Nothing on the docket.

With nothing about to explode, the inevitable first question: what about a college football playoff? Before he was selected, Emmert gave a quote that’s been cited allover the Internet today:

“I happen to be one,” insists University of Washington president Mark Emmert, “that thinks it’s inevitable we’ll have a playoff.”

Excitement! Cynical gremlin on your shoulder reminding you that opinions can change rapidly in these situations!

Point Gremlin. Emmert yesterday:

“We’ll join in those conversations [about a playoff],” he said. “I do not expect the NCAA to lead in that charge.”

Same as it ever was. Just like the barely (and possibly temporarily) averted move to 96 teams in the basketball tournament, the NCAA follows the lead of the people with the sponsorship dollars. When the possibility of delirious amounts of money overwhelms the entrenched interests currently offering up millions, then we’ll see a playoff broached and, eventually, implemented. It just takes one network making a preposterous offer.

There is one thing in the Emmert file that should encourage, though. In that same article cited above he dismisses “illusory arguments” like missed class time against a playoff. No more “think of the children” from the NCAA when the hockey schedule stretches from October to April and dozens of sports with zero pro potential have schedules far more demanding than the moneymaker. Heck, I-AA schools play up to 16 games.

Anyone who could cite class time as a reason not to have a college football playoff is an empty suit more concerned with maintaining the status quo than anything else. Emmert’s not that. Once that red herring is disposed of, a discussion of the relative merits of a playoff can be had. So at least there’s that.

NCAAF; NCAAB: This Big Ten Expansion Thing Might Actually Happen, And Soon

April 19, 2010 Comments off

It’s like a fire bell in the night: The Big Ten might really become the Big 14 or Big 16, and it might happen before you think.

High-ranking Big Ten representatives will meet Sunday in Washington to discuss expansion. The timing and location of the session make sense considering the Association of American Universities has its semi-annual meetings there through Tuesday and all 11 Big Ten schools are AAU members.

If the conference can emerge from the meetings with a mandate to expand, Commissioner Jim Delany could take a substantial step next week at the annual Bowl Championship Series meetings outside Phoenix.

As laid out in the Big Ten’s Dec. 15 statement, Delany would “notify” the commissioners of the affected conferences before “engaging in formal expansion discussions with other institutions.”

That would allow the Big Ten more than a month to negotiate with schools before conference presidents and chancellors meet in Chicago during the first weekend in June.

That timetable also makes sense from a financial standpoint. The fiscal years of universities end on the last day of June, “so if you go past July 1, you have to wait an extra year,” one source said.

In five short months, we’ve gone from humorous scenarios and inexplicabletargets to talks that seem to be accelerating because the Big Ten wants to do something now.

Matt Hinton reads the tea leaves to mean that expansion is more or less a foregone conclusion, and that era of the superconferences is about to dawn. I’m not sure what other conclusions there are to draw, except that many rough beasts may be about to be born.

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NCAAF: NCAA bans wedge blocks, eye black with messages

April 15, 2010 Comments off

On Thursday, the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the three rules changes.

One year after the NFL banned wedge blocking on kickoffs because of safety concerns, the NCAA followed the lead. The new rule says that when the team receiving a kickoff has more than two players standing within two yards of one another, shoulder to shoulder, it will be assessed a 15-yard penalty — even if there is no contact between the teams.

The reason: NCAA studies have shown that 20 percent of all injuries occurring on kickoffs result in concussions.

“Everybody is looking to make sure we have a safe environment for the players,” said Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. “On kickoffs, you have a lot of steam on both sides and you usually have what is called a ‘wedge buster.’ This will eliminate some of that.”

The hope is it will reduce concussions, an issue that has received greater attention over the past year.

The NCAA deemed it so important that it made a rare rules change in an off-year of the normal 2-year process.

But it’s the taunting rule that will create the biggest buzz.

Currently, players who are penalized for taunting on their way to the end zone draw a 15-yard penalty on the extra point attempt, 2-point conversion attempt or the ensuing kickoff.

Beginning in 2011, live-ball penalties will be assessed from the spot of the foul and eliminate the score. Examples include players finishing touchdown runs by high-stepping into the end zone or pointing the ball toward an opponent.

Celebration penalties following a score will continue to be assessed on conversion attempts or the ensuing kickoff.

“I think one of the reasons it’s been looked at is that when a penalty occurs on the field, it’s normally taken from the spot,” Teaff said. “This was the only occurrence that it wasn’t taken from the spot, so they wanted to change that.”

Taunting has caused an annual debate among college football players, coaches and fans, and last season’s big controversy stemmed from Georgia receiver A.J. Green receiving a 15-year personal foul penalty after he caught a go-ahead touchdown pass late in a game against LSU.

The yardage from the penalty was assessed on the kickoff and helped LSU get into position to drive for the winning score. Southeastern Conference officials said later that there was no video evidence to support the flag on Green.

A third change bans the use of eye black containing symbols or messages, a trend that grew in popularity because of the use by Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush and Tim Tebow.

The rules committee also approved a change for new soccer fields. Those fields can be 70 to 75 yards wide and 115 to 120 yards long. All fields in current use have been approved and will not be required to change.

INDIANAPOLIS — Eye black with messages and wedge blocks will be banned from college football this fall, and taunting in the field of play will start costing teams points in 2011.

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