Friday, June 30, 2006

Northwestern Coach Walker Dead at 52

Randy Walker, the second-winningest coach in Northwestern history, died Thursday night of an apparent heart attack. Walker took over the Wildcat program in 1999 after nine seasons at Miami (Ohio). "This is a devastating loss, not only for our athletic program, but for the entire Northwestern community," athletic director Mark Murphy said. Walker guided the Wildcats to a 3-8 record in his first season, then overhauled the offense and installed the spread formation. The results were immediate, with Northwestern winning a share of the Big Ten title and finishing 8-4. In seven seasons at Evanston, Walker guided the Wildcats to three bowl games. In April, he signed a contract extension through the 2011 season. Walker was 52.

Reporters' Notebooks

Pat Dooley, Gainesville Sun: Florida cornerback Avery Atkins, who was arrested last week and suspended from the team, was released from his scholarship and will transfer.

Dallas Morning News: Southern Methodist running back DeMyron Martin has filed a complaint with the Dallas police department claiming that an officer used a Taser on him unnecessarily (registration).

Brian Davis, Dallas Morning News: Running back Adrian Peterson will have extra motivation for what many believe will be his last season at Oklahoma (registration).

Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News: The Alamo Bowl, despite record television ratings, must search for a new title sponsor.

Ken Gordon, Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State running back Erik Haw, a third-year sophomore, has decided to transfer.

Robbi Pickeral, Raleigh News & Observer: North Carolina's assistants received raises, with defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders getting the biggest boost — $90,000 (registration).

Tuscaloosa News: It took only 19 days for Alabama to sell its allotment of 15,000 student season tickets (registration).

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bernstein to Be ABC Sideline Reporter

Sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein, formerly of CBS, is returning to ABC and ESPN. Part of Bernstein's duties will be to work ABC's weekly college football telecasts. That opening was created by the departure of Sam Ryan, who left to sign with New York's Channel 2 and CBS. Bernstein, 35, left CBS earlier this year, saying she wanted to pursue other interests. She was with ABC and ESPN from 1995-98 before departing for CBS. Bernstein's first assignment will be Sunday night's ESPN telecast of the Yankees-Mets game. Bernstein's time at CBS will be remembered for her interview of Roy Williams, then the basketball coach at Kansas, after a bitter loss to Syracuse in the 2003 NCAA tournament title game. Bernstein's questions about his interest in the opening at North Carolina drew a sharp response from Williams, who eventually took the Tar Heel job.

Why Expansion Makes Sense to the Pac-10

Colorado to the Pacific 10? By no means is this out of the question. The Kansas City Star, in its recent series on the Big 12, considered the possible jump of the Buffaloes. Wrote Blair Kerkhoff: "Colorado, the only Big 12 school in another time zone, often looks West. Could it resist an overture from the Pac-10?" If Colorado headed West, it likely would do so with another team to maintain balance in the new conference and give the Buffaloes a travel partner. Although Air Force, Colorado State, Utah and Brigham Young are mentioned as candidates to join Colorado in the new league, the Utes and Cougars make the most sense to the Wiz. Now why would the Pac-10 even consider expansion? First, the conference could split into North and South divisions, with Colorado and its partner joining the Washington and Oregon schools in the North. This in turn would create a lucrative football title game without disturbing cherished league rivalries (Oregon-Oregon State, USC-UCLA, etc.). The second reason is that a beefed up Pac-10 — with the addition of the Denver and Salt Lake City markets — would be a television juggernaut. Consider this: outside of San Diego, Las Vegas and Albuquerque, the league would have every major TV market in the West. As for the Big 12, it likely would look to snare Arkansas from the SEC. The Razorbacks, from a geographical standpoint, are a better fit in the Big 12. And interestingly, Arkansas — a longtime rival of Texas — is appearing more and more on Big 12 schedules (registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Marlon W. Morgan, Commercial Appeal: Trouble at Mississippi, where quarterback Brent Schaeffer, the expected starter, has yet to meet transfer requirements (registration).

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: Houston was given approval to retain its bowl game, which will undergo a name change and feature teams from the Big 12 and Big East when it is held on Dec. 28.

Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald: Georgia coach Mark Richt is having better luck getting his recruiting class qualified for admission. Last year, more than a fourth of his recruits failed to make the grade.

Ken Gordon, Columbus Dispatch: Receiver Raymond Small, one of Ohio State's top recruits, says he might not be eligible (thanks to reader Trent!).

Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press: The Big Ten does not plan to accept advertising for alcohol or gambling when it debuts its channel in August 2007.

Matt Winkeljohn, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich is not thrilled with having Notre Dame on the schedule (registration).

Paul Strelow, Columbia State: Recruit DeAndre McDaniel will not be eligible to enroll this fall at Clemson, and the safety plans to attend a prep school.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Township Playing a Rezoning Scheme?

Few coaches will ever get the mileage out of a 7-5 season like Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Piscataway officials unanimously approved a controversial zoning change to a former Rutgers University ecological tract, which the university plans to sell to Schiano in an unusual deal. Schiano, who became coach in 2001 and guided the Scarlet Knights to their first winning season in 13 years, plans to build a house large enough to host events with his players and potential recruits. Schiano was not at the meeting, but plenty of opponents were. "Rutgers had no right to do that," Sue Kozel, a former spokesperson for Friends of the Rutgers Ecological Preserve, told the Home News Tribune. "It's clear this thing was hot-wired with Piscataway officials for awhile." Thanks to Ben Maller for this!

Reporters' Notebooks

Mark Alesia, Indianapolis Star: The NCAA is going to reconsider a new rule that allows a player who has earned a degree and has remaining eligibility to transfer and be eligible without penalty.

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: No decision yet on the fate of the financially troubled Houston Bowl. The NCAA bowl-licensing committee gave no timetable for a ruling.

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: A report by a website regarding possible eligibility issues for Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn drew plenty of traffic, but did irreparable damage to the site's credibility. Also, a fine post on the situation by EDSBS.

Jake Curtis, San Francisco Chronicle: Longtime California and Stanford fans are upset over priority seating plans that require a donation to athletic departments.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: It's easy to see why CBS' ratings for college football continue to slide.

Phil Stukenborg, Commercial Appeal: What conference will have the best collection of quarterbacks this fall? Top to bottom, Conference USA looks stocked (registration).

Eric Crawford, Louisville Courier-Journal: We are just days from the start of the first big Heisman push. Louisville will unveil on July 1 for Michael Bush and Brian Brohm.

Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The contract extension agreed to by Rich Rodriguez is not only good news to West Virginia, but to the Big East, which is currently a second-rate league.

Chip Scoggins, Star Tribune: Defensive lineman Raymond Henderson, who was dismissed from Tennessee's team in May, is headed to Minnesota.

Robbie Neiswanger, Clarion-Ledger: Broadcaster Stan Torgerson, the legendary and sometimes controversial voice of Mississippi football, has died.

MDG: The blog takes a look at the biggest nonconference games for 2006. Needless to say, there is potential for some memorable games.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle: California quarterback Steve Levy was suspended from the team after his arrest in San Francisco for allegedly throwing a pint glass at a doorman who had asked him to leave a North Beach pub.

Jim Moore, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Former Washington coach Don James, aka the Dawgfather, retired in 1993, but he still can dish it out.

Adam Smeltz, Centre Daily Times: Penn State students bought their allotment of 21,000 season tickets in a record 13 days.

Andrew Gilman, Oklahoman: Oklahoma State starting running back Mike Hamilton could be challenged for the job by Dantrell Savage, a recruit from a Mississippi junior college (registration).

Brandon Chatmon, Oklahoman: Gerald Jones, a prep quarterback in Oklahoma, is drawing a lot of attention from big name teams (registration).

Bryan Mullen, Commercial Appeal: Jermaine Doster decided to follow the footsteps of his late brother and attend Vanderbilt (registration).

Ian R. Rapoport, Clarion-Ledger: Mississippi State has a surprising 17 commitments for its class of 2007, second to Texas' 22.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Florida State coach Bobby Bowden was in Lincoln for a speaking engagement and, as usual, had plenty to say.

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: Backup Notre Dame quarterback David Wolke has decided to transfer, leaving only nine members of the class of 2004 still on the roster.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Mouth of the South Is at It Again

We told you last week about South Carolina's Steve Spurrier citing eight to 10 "so-called players" who were failing to show the proper commitment to summer workouts. Well, Spurrier was just getting started. "We got some real sorry, lazy guys; they won't go to class; they'll flunk out or fall by the wayside at some point, but we have to deal with them in the meantime." There's more. "Not attending class, that's something you run into everywhere, but usually, even those guys will show up for workouts — not this group." Spurrier made the comments to Bart Wright of the Greenville News. The coach normally saves his best stuff for rivals, with Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer being his favorite punching bag. He reportedly was asked at a Gamecock alumni meeting how his team managed to beat the Volunteers in 2005. Responded Spurrier: "The same way Vanderbilt did."

Reporters' Notebooks

David Barron, Houston Chronicle: It looks like there is life for the Houston Bowl, which is hoping to get approval to continue the game on Tuesday.

Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review: Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther expects the NCAA to lobby the BCS to exclude teams that continue to violate the governing body's policy against the use of unproved Native American mascots.

Associated Press: Quarterback Alex Mortensen, the son of ESPN's Chris Mortensen, is leaving Arkansas and will enroll at I-AA Samford.

John Helsley, Oklahoman: Did Oklahoma try to dodge playing Oregon in the Holiday Bowl last season in an attempt to play Michigan in the Alamo Bowl? (registration).

Irv Moss and Chris Dempsey, Denver Post: Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry is 68, but he has no thoughts of leaving. His contract expires after the 2009 season. Plus, don't expect Air Force and Colorado to be renewing their series anytime soon.

David Fink, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Texas officials reportedly have put lights that sat atop the Royal-Memorial Stadium scoreboard up for bid on eBay.

Mike White, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: It appears Pennsylvania will continue to play Ohio in the Big 33 prep all-star game for at least another year. Thanks to reader Kevin for this!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Wichita State: A Return to the Big Show?

There is a movement to bring football back to Wichita State, but university administrators appear somewhat unreceptive to the idea. Wichita State, citing community apathy and a growing debt in the athletic department, dropped football in 1986. Since then, enrollment has declined by nearly 3,000 students. By comparison, Kansas State's enrollment has increased by nearly 7,000. Many observers credit the turnaround of the Wildcat football program for the increase. Wichita mayor Carlos Mayans is among those backing a proposal to bring back football, even offering taxpayer money to help the cause. But university president Don Beggs is uncomfortable with the idea of using public money. ... The program never recovered after a tragic plane crash on Oct. 2, 1970. Players, staff and fans were aboard a twin-engine plane traveling to Utah State for a game. The plane crashed in Colorado, resulting in the death of 31 members of the traveling squad. ... Wichita State counts WWE superstar Paul Wight, known as "The Big Show," and Dallas Cowboy coach Bill Parcells among alumni. Parcells was a linebacker at Wichita State from 1961-63. Thanks to reader John for the tip!

Reporters' Notebooks

Todd Finkelmeyer, Capital Times: A Wisconsin fan who has been a season-ticket holder for more than 50 years said the Badger athletic department wanted a donation of $1,700 in order for him to retain a disabled parking space directly north of Camp Randall Stadium.

Dave Hickman, Charleston Gazette-Mail: Attention Florida State: West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez signed a three-year extension to his contract, but had his buyout clause reduced beginning in 2008.

Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel: Central Florida season ticket sales are up by nearly 2,600, adding $800,000 in revenue.

Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal: Voluntary workouts? Nevada Las Vegas players know summer drills might as well be mandatory.

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: In a trend some might consider disturbing, more and more high school players are marketing themselves in hopes of landing a college scholarship.

Phil Stukenborg, Commercial Appeal: The Liberty Bowl is moving its date from Dec. 31 to Dec. 29 and will feature a matchup between teams from the SEC and Conference USA (registration).

Ron Higgins, Commercial Appeal: Is Houston Nutt crazy? Arkansas opens against USC, and the Razorback coach says incoming freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain will get a chance to be the starter (registration).

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

Kevin Clark and Brian Davies, Eugene Register-Guard: A nifty slideshow that is the best look to date at Oregon's new uniforms.

Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News: The son of former Michigan running back Butch Woolfolk says he plans to follow his father's footsteps and become a Wolverine.

Jim Woods, Columbus Dispatch: Bernie Fernandez Jr., whose interactions with Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith raised concerns with university officials, is no longer the subject of a gambling investigation.

Jeff Rice, Centre Daily Times: Citing everything from injuries to parole violations to academic pursuits, more than 30 Penn State players have left the team with remaining eligibility since the end of the 2001 season.

Steve Ellis, Tallahassee Democrat: Receiver Kenny O'Neal has been kicked off the Florida State team. Only 18 players from the 25-member recruiting class of 2004 remain with the team.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: As long as the Crimson Tide rolls, Alabama fans won't give a hoot about the arrest of linebacker Juwan Simpson.

Kevin Van Valkenburrg, Baltimore Sun: Maryland's athletic department was given the OK to borrow $35 million from the state to help fund a $50 million renovation of Byrd Stadium (registration).

Friday, June 23, 2006

Nebraska Loses Its Man of Steel

In the 1970s and '80s, there were strength coaches, then there was Boyd Epley. Epley was the man behind Husker Power, Nebraska's pioneering strength training program. The Cornhuskers mauled other teams with a physical style of play and Epley's program was a big reason for their domination. His program spread throughout the state and, eventually, the nation. But after 37 years at Nebraska, Epley is leaving for a position with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Epley's announcement stunned many Cornhusker faithful and his decision left many wondering why he decided to make the move. The excellent Big Red Network has a terrific piece offering some possibilities behind "Mr. Big" leaving Lincoln.

Reporters' Notebooks

Joseph Person, Columbia State: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier cited eight to 10 "so-called players" who have failed to make conditioning runs and weightlifting sessions part of their regular summer routine.

Andy Staples, Tampa Tribune: Florida coach Urban Meyer said he followed the wishes of suspended cornerback Avery Atkins' family when he recommended to deny the sophomore's request for a release from his scholarship.

Heidi Rowley and Anthony Gimino, Tucson Citizen: Three Arizona players helped foil the attempted theft of about 20 football jerseys from a campus-area athletic store.

Des Moines Register: Iowa State fans rejoice! The Cyclones have scheduled a 2008 nonconference game at Nevada Las Vegas.

Ken Gordon, Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State officials were unaware of Eric Lichter's 1998 conviction on a misdemeanor drug-possession charge, but they are standing behind hiring Lichter as director of football performance.

Greg Couch, Chicago Sun-Times: Take a close look. Notre Dame has become everything it once despised.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Oregon's Uniform Policy Is One of Change

Oregon may have cornered the market when it comes to ugly uniforms and the team is at it again. Oregon unveiled new fall colors — the fourth uniform style since 1996 — that include four different jerseys, four different pants and three helmets. The innovations and ensemble possibilities — 48 in all — will once again make the Ducks the most unusually outfitted and fussed-over team in the nation. But that is what Oregon wants to be, believing the changes help catch the eye of recruits. "We're a happening place and young people like that," athletic director Bill Moos told the Oregonian. The uniforms are 28% lighter than last year, 34% lighter under wet conditions. The paint on the green helmets is made with glass and costs $2,400 per gallon. Tight end Dante Rosario is proud to wear the uniforms, but he was among those who came up with the designs. To see all the possibilities, go to this link (some registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Audrey M. Marks, Stillwater News-Press: Vandals have tagged homes in an area being purchased by Oklahoma State that will be the site of an athletic village.

Jeffrey Martin, Wichita Eagle: The father of sophomore receiver Ro Grigsby says his son is being forced out of Kansas State by new coach Ron Prince.

John Helsley, Oklahoman: Oklahoma has finalized its 2007 schedule, which includes a nonconference game against Miami in Norman (registration).

Erin Jordan, Des Moines Register: Iowa State was given the go-ahead to raise $135 million to improve athletic facilities, including Jack Trice Stadium.

Kevin Van Valkenburg, Bill Ordine and Lem Satterfield, Baltimore Sun: Maryland has withdrawn a scholarship offer to one of its top recruits, in part because of drug charges (registration).

Dan Collins, Winston-Salem Journal: A Wake Forest recruit has been indicted on four felony counts related to an alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl.

Jon Solomon, Birmingham News: Alabama linebacker Juwan Simpson agreed to enter a pre-trial drug program that would dismiss his misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession.

Mark Alesia and Terry Hutchens, Indianapolis Star: As expected, the Big Ten announced the creation of a 24-hour television channel, set to debut in August 2007.

Richard Sandomir, New York Times: A look at the Big Ten network from a business standpoint shows why the deal makes dollars and sense (registration).

Jon Solomon, Birmingham News: That didn't take long. Southeastern Conference officials are exploring the possibility of an SEC Channel once the league's television contracts expire in 2009.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Big Ten Creates Another Revenue Channel

The landscape of televised college athletics will be forever changed Wednesday when the Big Ten announces the creation of its own network. The Chicago Tribune reports that the conference will partner with DirecTV in forming the Big Ten Channel, which will debut in 2007. Although we don't know all the specifics, this is a landmark move when you consider the financial possibilities. First, the conference's deal with ABC/ESPN — said to be worth up to $50 million a year — is set to expire in June 2007. Although ABC/ESPN reportedly will remain the exclusive carrier of some signature events such as Michigan-Ohio State football and high-profile basketball games, the conference plans to take lower-profile games and minor sports to the Big Ten Channel. ... Word first leaked about the plan last week when Michael Gartner, a former president of NBC News and current president of the Iowa State Board of Regents, told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that he had talked to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany about the creation of the channel (our link from last week, story at bottom). So what does this mean to the rest of the college world and to you, the viewer? Expect other conferences to follow the Big Ten's bold move, and follow quickly. And expect to reach deeper into your wallet to watch events on TV. After all, the Big Ten isn't doing this to save you money (some registration). And thanks to reader Kevin for his help on this one!

Reporters' Notebooks

Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona coach Mike Stoops is expected to receive a two-year extension to his contract, but no raise.

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii is planning an advertising blitz in an effort boost sales of season tickets. Plus, a link to our earlier report.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: Help is on the way for South Carolina's financially struggling athletic department in the form of a $2.74 million subsidy.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: Alabama coach Mike Shula could learn a thing or two from South Carolina counterpart Steve Spurrier.

Chip Towers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Former Georgia coach Ray Goff is part of a group that sold a plane to the university for $1.6 million (registration).

Robbie Andreu, Gainesville Sun: Avery Atkins, a potential starter in Florida's secondary, is accused of felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor domestic battery of a woman he has a child with.

Lawrence Buser, Commercial Appeal: Logan Young Jr., the former Alabama booster who was convicted of bribery, racketeering and money structuring last year, has had the convictions vacated after his death on April 11 (registration).

Lubbock Avalanche Journal: Former Texas Tech receiver Brandon Douglas was indicted on charges of aggravated assault. He allegedly hit a nightclub bouncer with a metal chair only days after being dismissed from the team.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska is among several teams looking to raid the state of Missouri of standout prep quarterback Logan Gray of Columbia. Plus, defensive end Adam Blankenship has transferred to Illinois State.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Carr: It's Time for a 16-Team Playoff

Lloyd Carr has been one of our favorite punching bags, but the Michigan coach made a lot of sense during a recent series of appearances. Carr let it rip when talking about the NCAA, including the scheduling of night games and games during the week. "Money ... we need to make more money," he said, not disguising his sarcasm. "Let's play more games and let's make sure the players are available to play any time, any night, 24/7." Regarding the addition of a 12th game to the regular-season schedule, he said, "I think the 12th game was just the first of what's going to be a continued growth ... we're turning into a professional sport." The NCAA has failed to police teams, he said. "I think the NCAA is not spending any money in the area of enforcement." Although Carr is against a 12th game, he is adamant about the need for a 16-team playoff. "Right now, we have a playoff, but it's just two teams who are voted in. Well, I think we should have 16, you can play the first round on the home field of the highest seed, and you could still incorporate the bowl games. That's the only fair thing to do for the players now that we've gone to 12 games." And what about the new International Bowl being played on Jan. 6 and the Alamo Bowl's expected move to Jan. 7? "We need to get some bowl games played in February, so we can make more money. That's the thing we need to do." Yes, there is another side to Carr we never knew existed. As for those planned luxury boxes at Michigan Stadium, the opposition appears to have been silenced.

Reporters' Notebooks

Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star: The NCAA recommended legislation that would limit text messaging between coaches and recruits.

Lonnie White, L.A. Times: Assault charges against former UCLA running back Maurice Drew were dropped because of "insufficient evidence to proceed."

Dave Hickman, Charleston Gazette: The failed lawsuit that West Virginia, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Rutgers brought against Miami, Boston College and the ACC ended up costing $2.3 million.

Mike Griffith, Knoxville News-Sentinel: Tennessee officials say the $107 million renovation of Neyland Stadium is "right on schedule."

Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register: Iowa State's Dan McCarney, the dean of Big 12 coaches, agreed to a new contract that will pay him over $1 million a year.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska is losing longtime strength coach Boyd Epley. Also, the Cornhuskers have agreed to a home-and-home series with UCLA.

Andrew Gilman, Oklahoman: A creampuff schedule could be what Oklahoma State needs to play in a better-than-decent bowl game (registration).

Ryan Wood, Lawrence Journal-World: After a few tweaks this offseason, the Big 12 arguably has the best bowl lineup of any conference.

Tim May, Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith is spending considerable time in a classroom, but it's not your normal classroom.

Jay Hinton, Deseret Morning News: Parade All-American quarterback Riley Nelson will suit up for Utah State this fall instead of serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Missouri: The Show Me How to Lose State

One of college football's great mysteries is the inability of Missouri to field a consistent winner. With talent-rich Kansas City and St. Louis in the neighborhood, big boosters and a showcase conference in the Big 12, the Tigers would appear to be can't-miss material. And if you take into account some of the coaching talent to pass through Mizzou, then you really begin to wonder. Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune has a terrific piece on the Tigers of Bob Stull, who was Missouri's coach from 1989-93. Stull came from Texas El Paso, which was described by former assistant Dirk Koetter as "the armpit of college football." Stull, with the help of Koetter, now the coach at Arizona State, and a young offensive line coach by the name of Andy Reid, now the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, had resuscitated the Miners' program, so why couldn't they do the same at Missouri? But the Tigers under Stull were spectacular losers, suffering defeats by 40 points or more 10 times, including a 73-0 collapse in 1993 at Texas A&M. The turning point — if there is such a thing during Stull's 15-38-2 tenure — came in 1990. The Tigers were 2-2 and high-flying Colorado came to Faurot Field. In what is known at the "Fifth Down" game, the Buffaloes were given an extra down to score the winning touchdown. Colorado went on to win the national championship; Missouri finished 4-7. "That game took a lot out of us," Koetter said. "We never really got it back on track." Stull, pictured above, eventually recovered. He's now the athletic director at Texas El Paso.

Reporters' Notebooks

Robbie Neiswanger and Rick Cleveland, Clarion Ledger: Mississippi players might start feeling better about their season if Madman Ed Orgeron's starting quarterback would arrive in Oxford. But is Brent Schaeffer really the savior?

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: Iowa offensive lineman Austin Postler was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Arrest blotter.

Tim May, Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels, 63, was hospitalized after suffering chest discomfort. This follows offensive coordinator Jim Bollman's heart bypass surgery in May.

Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal: Attention members of the media: Wisconsin's press guide is fast becoming a full-fledged recruiting tool, but necessary statistical information will be available at

John Helsley, Oklahoman: Oklahoma is being very picky on who to offer scholarships to because of its youth-laden roster (registration).

Don Williams, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Progress is being made toward the installation of FieldTurf at Texas Tech's Jones Stadium.

Eric Sorrentino, Lawrence Journal-World: Former Kansas safety Charley Bowen says he was born to fish, but forced to work.

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: So what can the Big 12 do to improve as a conference? There's plenty of work to be done (registration).

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame's Crewcut Charlie Weis on safety Tom Zbikowski's pro boxing debut: "As soon as they named the opponent, the first thing I tried to figure out is, 'Who is this guy.' "

Dan Steinberg, Washington Post: Maryland is considering a proposal for a $50 million expansion of Byrd Stadium.

Scott Wolf, L.A. Daily News: Receiver Whitney Lewis, who announced his intention to transfer from USC, will visit Montana State. He's also reportedly considering Northern Arizona and Northern Iowa.

Zach Duncan, Wichita Falls Times Record News: The winner of the Oil Bowl? It's Texas, which scored a 17-0 victory over Oklahoma. But the star of the game is headed to Oklahoma.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Trouble in Paradise?

The news couldn't come at a worse time for the Hawaii athletic department, which has reported a financial deficit the past four years. Season-ticket renewals for Hawaii games dropped 11.6% from last year, the second-largest decline in the past five years. Sales have been in a freefall since 2002, when 23,093 season tickets were sold. So far, only 16,300 tickets have been sold for the 2006 season. Football staff and players spoke by phone with season-ticket holders during the renewal period, noting that the team has eight home games this season compared to seven last season. But even with all the encouragement, sales tumbled. Hawaii officials refused to speculate for the reasons behind the drop, but a premium-seat system — a fan pays a fee for the right to buy a ticket in a "preferred" area — might be in part to blame. And then there is the crackdown on tailgating at Aloha Stadium. At this point, it appears Hawaii can't afford a repeat of the 5-7 season in 2005.

Reporters' Notebooks

Bryan Mullen, Tennessean: Former Arizona quarterback Richard Kovalcheck has arrived at Vanderbilt and likes what he sees.

Jerry Greene, Orlando Sentinel: Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is no fan of the 12-game season.

Jim Beseda, Oregonian: Jay Locey was a big winner at Linfield. Now as an assistant at Oregon State, he will try to turn around the Beavers.

Jeff Carroll, South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame receiver Jeff Samardzija was introduced to the Chicago media after becoming the latest member of the Cubs organization.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: South Carolina said no to a South Carolina State request for additional tickets for the Bulldogs' 2007 game at Columbia.

Jeff Metcalfe, Arizona Republic: A nice piece on how the coaching career of Arizona State's Dirk Koetter was largely shaped by his father.

Jeff Rice, Centre Daily Times: A wild Big 33 all-star game, where Penn State-bound quarterback Pat Devlin guided Pennsylvania to a 61-42 victory over Ohio.

Kim Gorum, Waco Tribune-Herald: Texas has won the paper's Big 12 all-sports standings for the sixth year in a row.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Rich People Have Problems, Too

The son of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens has been charged with burglary after he was found hiding under a desk inside the Housatonic Meadows Fly Shop in Cornwall, Conn., several hours after closing last Sunday. Michael Pickens, 51, was found inside the store by manager Devin "Moe" Booth, who returned after closing and discovered that someone had jimmied open a back window to break in, then tossed reels, weights and other fly-fishing items valued at about $3,000 into a cooler. T. Boone, who has been featured numerous times on this site, is regarded as the king of college boosters. On Friday, the Wiz detailed T. Boone's relationship with Oklahoma State, which has received over $290 million in contributions from the billionaire. This is not the first time Michael Pickens has been in trouble. He was indicted last year on federal securities fraud allegations in New York and had been freed on $500,000 bond under a promise to appear for future court dates and not violate the law. He faces 20 years in jail if convicted of securities fraud. Thanks to reader Greg for the tip!

Reporters' Notebooks

Jason Feder, Daily Bruin: UCLA has added Brian Callahan, the son of Nebraska coach Bill Callahan, to its staff. He will be a graduate assistant.

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: A wedding reception in a press box? Beginning in October, Iowa fans will be able to rent the President's Suite at Kinnick Stadium on non-game days.

Lisa Rossi, Des Moines Register: Iowa State officials are seeking approval of a plan that calls for $35 million in improvements to Jack Trice Stadium.

Jay Heater, Contra Costa Times: Standout California tailback Marshawn Lynch was nearly shot during an incident at an Oakland high school (thanks to EDSBS).

Craig Smith, Seattle Times: Former Kansas State quarterback Kevin Lopina says he will transfer to Washington State.

Tom Kubat, Lafayette Journal & Courier: Purdue receiver Dorien Bryant says the field at Ross-Ade Stadium became so bad last season that he preferred to play games on the road.

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: What's next for Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski? He will sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch of a July 16 Chicago Cubs game.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: A Nebraska recruit who is facing sex abuse and burglary charges in Oregon is scrambling to find an attorney.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: Where would Auburn or Alabama turn in the event of an unexpected departure of Tommy Tuberville or Mike Shula?

Chip Scoggins, Minneapolis Star Tribune: The return of running back Gary Russell to Minnesota appears highly doubtful.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Oklahoma State's Great Equalizer

When Oklahoma State was playing poorly last season at Baylor, Cowboy assistant coaches in the press box took note when T. Boone Pickens left at halftime. Any sign of Pickens' unhappiness makes pulses quicken in Stillwater. "Hell, it should," Pickens says. "It should. I'm very important to those guys. And that's good." Pickens, who is worth more than $1.5 billion, is arguably the most powerful booster in college athletics. The football stadium already bears his name, and on Dec. 30 he made the largest donation in collegiate athletics history, giving $165 million to his alma mater. The money spent less than an hour in a university charity account before it was transferred to a hedge fund that is controlled by Pickens, but in six months, the shrewd oilman has parlayed another $50 million onto the $165 million. His total contributions to Oklahoma State reportedly come to over $290 million, and over $265 million, or 92%, have been toward athletics. Pickens is not without enemies, even in Stillwater where a group of homeowners fought a planned athletic village just north of campus. The university, using Pickens' contributions, announced plans to purchase the homes under the threat of eminent domain to make way for the village. The group, which rallied behind the website Boone State, recently gave up the fight (some registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Gary Klein and David Wharton, L.A. Times: The NCAA ruled that USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett violated an "extra benefits" rule and must apply for reinstatement of his eligibility.

Scott Wolf, L.A. Daily News: Receiver Whitney Lewis is reportedly leaving USC and could be headed to a Division I-A or Division II team.

Associated Press: Former ABC sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero, who was last spotted in the January issue of Playboy, has been named West Coast correspondent for "Inside Edition."

K.J. Pilcher, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany confirmed that the conference is considering the establishment of its own cable TV network (subscription, so story is in comments).

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska and Penn State have been in discussions about a home-and-home series.

John Helsley, Oklahoman: Oklahoma offensive guard Brian Simmons suffered a knee injury during a conditioning drill (registration).

Michael Kiefer, Arizona Republic: Former Arizona State safety Mitchell Freedman was convicted of raping two women in 2003 and could face more than 100 years in prison.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Now All Roads Lead to Lubbock

Even after Texas Tech joined the Big 12 Conference, it remained a team located in an outpost (Lubbock) that was somewhere in the middle of a cotton field. Yes, Lubbock had stoplights. It even had a McDonald's. But it took the hiring of Mike Leach, who was followed by Bobby Knight, to give Texas Tech and Lubbock an identity. Leach brought his crazy passing game that puts up outrageous numbers, and now CNN, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have found the way to Lubbock. The success has been reflected in the athletic budget, which next year will total about $43 million. Ten years ago, it stood at about $12 million. "It's a whole different era now," athletic director Gerald Myers said (registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Matthew Futterman, Newark Star-Ledger: A consultant has recommended to Rutgers that it spend $20 million to construct a luxury suite and premium seating in its stadium.

Mike Joseph, Centre Daily Times: A Penn State student who assaulted a police officer after last season's game against Ohio State will be spending at least four months in prison.

Ken Gordon, Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has talked with Alabama about a home-and-home series (thanks to reader Trent).

Bob Flounders, Harrisburg Patriot-News: Controversy at the Big 33 prep all-star game, where Pennsylvania officials might be ready to give opponent Ohio the boot (thanks to reader Kevin).

Matt Kredell, L.A. Daily News: Marc Tyler, the son of former UCLA and NFL running back Wendell Tyler, said no to the Bruins and will attend USC.

Dick Harmon, Deseret Morning News: Brigham Young already has 11 commitments for its class of 2007, but is securing commitments so early in the game the right strategy?

Natalie Meisler, Denver Post: Colorado State's fundraising campaign is more than $600,000 short of its $1.85 million goal.

John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader: Here is one man's opinion on what to expect this fall out of the Southeastern Conference.

John Pruett, Huntsville Times: Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville talked about discipline, then he talked about the Tigers' prospects for this fall.

Berry Tramel, Oklahoman: Oklahoma has its fortune tied to quarterback Rhett Bomar, who has twice been cited for underage drinking and once for hosting a nuisance party since September. Plus a link to video (registration).

Jason King, Kansas City Star: Even Baylor fans have to wonder if the decision to join the Big 12 was a good one (registration).

Sean Keeler, Des Moines Register: Former Iowa State quarterback Cris Love, 24, died of cancer, less than three weeks after his illness was announced.

Richard Stevens, Albuquerque Tribune: The recent NFL failure of former New Mexico standout running back DonTrell Moore was more of a statement of where he came from — the Mountain West Conference.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

USC's Battle Plan Against the NFL

Not so fast, NFL. Any plans to take over the L.A. Memorial Coliseum will first have to be cleared with the other (professional) tenant, USC. The Trojans have called the Coliseum home for 83 years and the university is ready to deliver a block to keep its sweetheart deal. The current lease, which extends through the 2007 season, caps USC's rent per game at 8% of gross ticket revenue based on a maximum of 70,000 tickets sold. That has enabled USC to pocket nearly all the financial gain from a surge in attendance from 2001 to 2005, when home crowds rose nearly 60% to 90,812 from 57,744. "They have kind of a sweet deal," says David Israel, a member of the Coliseum Commission and former sportswriter at the Chicago Tribune and L.A. Herald Examiner. "They're a private tax-exempt program playing in a taxpayer-financed stadium." Although it would appear the Coliseum Commission could turn its back on USC and do whatever it wants, that might not be a wise idea. USC has clout, beginning with a large corps of influential alumni in Southern California business and politics. Then there is that small problem of parking around the Coliseum. USC controls 10,000 campus parking spaces, roughly half the total available for the Coliseum neighborhood. But if USC gets in the way of the Coliseum landing an NFL team, Israel promises trouble for the university, saying "it will be much more expensive for them to play in the Coliseum."

Reporters' Notebooks

Jerry Hill, Waco Tribune-Herald: From the Dept. of We Kid You Not: Baylor, the largest Baptist university in the world, and Texas Christian, affiliated with but not governed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), have agreed to open their season on a Sunday.

Kyle Ringo, Boulder Daily Camera: Colorado is considering replacing its natural-grass playing surface in Folsom Field with an artificial turf, but any change likely wouldn't come for at least a year (registration).

Dave Matter, Columbia Tribune: Missouri running back Tony Temple and his girlfriend, former Tiger softball player Kendra Power, were arrested on charges of third-degree assault.

John Maher, Austin American-Statesman: The maker of Texas' new scoreboard cited concerns about sensitivity to USC for declining to give a sneak peak of the scoreboard's design to the nation's athletic directors (registration).

Tim Bisel, Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas State running back Thomas Clayton will sit out the opener against powerhouse Illinois State as punishment for his battery conviction.

Don Williams, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech starting offensive tackle Gabe Hall's blood-alcohol level registered .186 and .179 when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. The legal limit in Texas is .08.

Bruce Pascoe, Arizona Daily Star: Arizona offensive lineman Peter Graniello, who was arrested last fall on DUI charges after registering blood-alcohol tests of .152 and .142, has reached a plea agreement.

Aaron Fentress, Oregonian: Oregon recruit Marvin Johnson will join the team this fall after reaching a plea deal. He was charged with first-degree sex abuse and first-degree burglary.

Jim Moore, Seattle Post Intelligencer: Washington State is rallying around coach Bill Doba, who recently lost his wife of 43 years to cancer.

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: Kent Waldrep, the former Texas Christian running back who was paralyzed from a broken neck suffered in a game against Alabama in 1974, says the NCAA is still failing disabled athletes.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: If Dennis Franchione ends up getting fired by Texas A&M, would Auburn's Tommy Tuberville be in line to take over the Aggie program?

Adam Clemons, Huntsville Times: Alabama booster Ray Keller, who is suing the NCAA for damages related to the investigation of the Crimson Tide program six years ago, was unable to reach an out-of-court settlement. The trial is schedule to begin Sept. 11.

Marlon W. Morgan, Commercial Appeal: Good news for Mississippi Madman Ed Orgeron. Quarterback Brent Schaeffer has graduated from a California junior college and is headed to Oxford (registration).

Bryan Mullen, Tennessean: Vanderbilt junior defensive end David Carter has had enough. He plans to transfer.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The $25,000 Question

Notre Dame safety Tommy Zbikowski makes his professional boxing debut, knocks out a tomato can put up by promoter Bob Arum in 49 seconds, and collects $25,000. Iowa quarterback Drew Tate competes in a golf tournament, scores a hole in one that makes him eligible to claim $25,000 toward the purchase of a new Dodge, and has to give it all back. Why? NCAA rules allow an eligible player in one sport to be a professional in another, so Tate, the golfing amateur, is out of luck. ... It's not as if Arum — no doubt hoping to promote Zbikowski down the road — had set up the figher to lose. Zbikowski, after all, had fought 90 amateur fights, winning 75, and was going against something called Robert Bell, who entered with a 2-2 record. (And about those 50 teammates of Zbikowski who made their way to Madison Square Garden for the fight. Where did they come up with the money for that?) Meanwhile Tate scores his ace fair and square in front of witnesses. This, ladies and gentlemen, is your NCAA. We don't begin to understand the rules of this so-called governing body, but we do know one thing: those running it are getting rich — very rich — off amateur athletes. As we reported earlier, NCAA president Myles Brand pulled in a whopping $870,000-plus in compensation in 2004-05. His compensation is more than every public university president. At least eight other NCAA employees are paid more than $281,000 a year. Clearly, something is wrong here. (Thanks to EDSBS for finding this video.) Update: Video has been pulled. Might want to check some torrent sites. Update II: Fight currently available on this link. And please check out the rest of our lovely blog when you get a chance! Update III: It's a cat-and-mouse game with this video and YouTube. The current version we have posted does not have sound. The link in Update II does have the fight with sound.

Kansas Shaped Up and Became 'The Model'

There was Kansas coach Mark Mangino, showing a recruit around in 2002, when he started toward his office. "Right in our path is this big bucket catching rainwater that's leaking from the ceiling," Mangino said. "I told the kid, 'Wow. That must've just happened last night. Lightning must have struck or something.' " Fat chance. That merely was the reality in Lawrence, where the Jayhawks, six years after the inception of the Big 12, still didn't get it. Facilities were outdated, if not crumbling, television and shoe contracts were among the worst in the league and even the tradition-rich basketball program was falling millions short of its earnings potential. Kansas seemed out of place among its business-savvy brethren in the Big 12. But all that has changed in three years with the athletic budget soaring $27 million to nearly $41. One Big 12 administrator now refers to Kansas as "The Model." (registration)

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Marriage Made in Heaven

And just a few years ago, airplane banners flew over Memorial Stadium during Texas home games urging the school to "Dump DeLoss and Flush the John," referring to athletic director DeLoss Dodds and then-coach John Mackovic. How times have changed. Mackovic is gone, but DeLoss, pictured above, is still around, probably because he hired Mack Brown to replace Mackovic. Nobody needed the Big 12 more than Texas, and the hiring of Brown could not have come at a better time. From 1986-95, the Longhorns were 65-48-2. The Southwest Conference was dying, other teams were raiding Texas for the top talent and the facilities ranked behind those at Iowa State. Former coach Darrell Royal was brought in by Dodds and he helped convince Mack Brown to leave North Carolina and come to Austin. Royal told Brown that the Texas program and its fans were like a bunch of BBs that had been spilled. Mack had to get all of those BBs back in the box, pulling for the same cause. Also, a look at Texas' most famous world traveler, Ricky Williams (registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: It wasn't Paris Hilton making the rounds in Hollywood, but Nebraska coach Bill Callahan just finished a flurry of public activity.

Tim Bisel, Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas State coach Ron Prince is looking for speed, but first he will have to answer questions about running back Thomas Clayton, who was convicted of misdemeanor battery.

Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star: If Missouri, with 18 of 22 starters returning, is ever going to have a breakthrough season, 2006 would appear to be its best shot. (registration).

Joseph Person, Columbia State: Get out your checkbook. South Carolina is getting ready for a major fundraising campaign aimed at upgrading facilities. Plus a breakdown of Gamecock alumni.

Kyle Ringo, Boulder Daily Camera: And speaking of money, here is the man who must rally the alumni troops and help Colorado dig out of its financial hole (registration).

Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii slotback Davone Bess appears intent on building on his stellar freshman season.

Matt Hayes, Sporting News: How does Florida State coach Rich Rodriguez sound? Probably not too good to West Virginia fans.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Empire Building in the Big 12

Not all of the competition in the Big 12 occurs on the field. Since the formation of the conference 10 years ago, the pressure to win has created a building boom, with teams developing top-rate facilities in a game of tit for tat. At Texas A&M, where coach Dennis Franchione is struggling to build a winner, roughly $85 million has been spent on athletic facilities in the last decade, including a $27 million state-of-the-art football complex that opened in 2003. But when it comes to facilities spending, Texas A&M ranks in the middle of the Big 12. When deep-pocketed Texas marched into the league, it had a budget that was roughly $30 million more than Kansas. But the Jayhawks have pumped $14 million into athletics the past three years in an attempt to keep pace. If there is a big loser in the Big 12, Missouri is it. The Tigers are the only conference member without a men's team championship in any sport. But Missouri prides itself in academic success, where it frequently ranks among the best in the nation (registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska is using space-age technology to monitor players during workouts in the summer heat.

Ron Higgins, Commercial Appeal: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier talks about the state of the game (registration).

Emily Tropp, Rockford Register Star: A Purdue recruit failed to make the grade and will be enrolling in a junior college.

Brandon Chatmon, Oklahoman: Prep players attending combines are now being given a standardized test (registration).

Tommy Hicks, Mobile Press-Register: Commissioner Mike Slive has proven that he is a good fit for the Southeastern Conference.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: Notre Dame safety turned boxer Tommy Zbikowski won his first professional fight.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

There Are a Lot of Losers Out There

Feeling sorry for Nevada casinos. Don't. State regulators reported that the gambling houses raked in $990 million in winnings from gamblers in April, a 12.7% increase over the previous year and the highest amount ever for the month. The double-digit increase was unexpected because of the Easter holiday and a lack of special events. For the fiscal year that began July 1, statewide casino winnings total $10.1 billion, an increase of 12.5% over the same time last year. Resorts on the Strip, pictured above, accounted for more than half of the statewide win total in April. Casinos on Lake Tahoe's south shore reported the biggest increase in percentage, nearly 22%.

Reporters' Notebooks

Tony Barnhart and Jeff D'Alessio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The last thing Southeastern Conference coaches want is another conference game. Plus, here is how Georgia Tech can beat Notre Dame in the Sept. 2 opener (registration).

Clifton Brown and John Eligon, New York Times: Notre Dame safety Tommy Zbikowski will make his pro boxing debut Saturday night at Madison Square Garden (registration).

Dan Collins, Winston-Salem Journal: Wake Forest receiver Demir Boldin, the brother former Florida State and current Arizona Cardinal receiver Anquan Boldin, and cornerback Brandon Ghee were declared academically ineligible for the 2006 season.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: It only seems like yesterday that Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer was the safest coach in the land.

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: It's nice to see coaches squirm over the new rule that allows players who have graduated before their eligibility runs out to transfer to another team without penalty.

Berry Tramel, Oklahoman: Maybe it is time for the NCAA to allow all athletes to transfer without having to sit out a season (registration).

Russ Brown, Lexington Herald-Leader: Louisville coach Bobby Petrino says his team will not be looking ahead to a Sept. 16 signature game at home against Miami.

Friday, June 09, 2006

More Kernels of Corn From Nebraska

No, we're not quite done talking about Nebraska. The Kansas City Star's excellent series on the 10-year anniversary of the Big 12 Conference rolls along with a look at Cornhusker fans who have aimed their wrath at athletic director Steve Pederson. He's the guy who made the difficult decision to fire Frank Solich as coach after the team went 9-3 in 2003. It took 40 days to find Solich's replacement and tensions escalated each day until Bill Callahan arrived in Lincoln. Despite his glossy record, Solich's firing was not surprising because the creation of the superconference has upped the stakes, with veteran coaches Larry Smith (Missouri) and R.C. Slocum (Texas A&M) among those who have been fired. While Callahan seems to have won over the fans for the moment, he lost one of his stellar recruits in offensive lineman Rodney Picou, who is academically ineligible (some registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Brian Dohn, L.A. Daily News: UCLA and Kansas State are close to announcing a two-year home-and-home series that will begin in 2009.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Washington's star-crossed recruiting class of 2002 — none of whom has participated in a winning season — will hear nothing but cheers on Saturday.

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami has lost another quarterback recruit. Daniel Stegall will pursue a career in baseball after being drafted by the New York Mets (registration).

Ted Lewis, Times-Picayune: Louisiana State coach Les Miles is preparing for a USO tour of Kuwait and Iraq.

Jacob Messer, Charleston Daily Mail: Tailback Jason Gwaltney, who left West Virginia last winter, is reportedly interested in returning but appears to have academic issues at Nassau Community College.

Mike Kaszuba, Star Tribune: The architectural firm that designed Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles, was hired by Minnesota to draw up plans for the Golden Gophers' new stadium. Also, a look at other Big Ten stadiums.

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State and Toledo will play a two-game series beginning in 2009, with the first game at Cleveland Browns Stadium (subscription, so story is in comments).

Terry Hutchens, Indianapolis Star: Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner is rediscovering his family five months after having surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Why Nebraska Failed to Make the Grade

So what's the real story behind the collapse of the Nebraska dynasty? When the Big 12 was formed 10 years ago, a new set of rules were put in place. Nebraska wanted unlimited partial qualifiers — players who did not meet either minimum grade-point average or standardized test score requirements. Texas was against such a rule and was prepared to join the Pacific 10 or Big Ten if Nebraska got its way. The Longhorns won, and because of that, the Cornhuskers went from mythical to mediocre in the new superconference. ... And this terrific story out of Texas: Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy is being credited with helping to save the life of a seizure victim last month. ... Nebraska is installing a new video screen in Memorial Stadium. ... The Big 12 appears to have a backup plan should the financially strapped Houston Bowl cease operations. Officials from the Poinsettia Bowl want to talk with the league about establishing an affiliation if the situation in Houston collapses (some registration).

Reporters' Notebooks

Eric Crawford, Louisville Courier-Journal: Quarterback Brian Brohm should be fully recovered from ligament surgery on his right knee when Louisville opens camp this fall.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback was selected by Baltimore in the 45th round of the Major League Baseball draft.

Aaron Fentress, Oregonian: An Oregon recruit who has been charged with first-degree sex abuse and first-degree burglary could be nearing a plea bargain deal.

Pete Thamel, New York Times: The NCAA has drawn up an initial list of 15 secondary schools it considers invalid and will no longer accept transcripts from the so-called "diploma mills." (registration)

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: What is behind the creation of "diploma mills," which are designed to give eligibility to prospective college athletes? It's called money.

Joe Starkey, Tribune-Review: There's only one place left in Pennsylvania where you can find Pittsburgh and Penn State players engaged in competition.

Steve Ellis and Jim Henry, Tallahassee Democrat: Brent Brewer, a receiver who had signed with Florida State, decided to take a bonus believed to be around $500,000 and continue his baseball career with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Big 12 Conference: Ten Years After

Ten years ago, the Big Eight Conference became the Big 12 Conference, with Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech leaving the Southwest to create a superconference. The Kansas City Star is marking the anniversary by examining the pros and cons of the union. Revenues are up, but fat paydays have not arrived without problems. The conference's South Division has dominated football and that trend is likely to continue. Could it force a breakup of the union? Officials say no, but a team such as Colorado could find it difficult to resist an overture from the Pacific 10. The league has suffered from many scandals, but a top offender has been Colorado. The person in charge of cleaning up the mess in Boulder is athletic director Mike Bohn, who did an extended interview with the Denver Post (some registration).