Sunday, December 31, 2006

Another Slice Out of the Bowl Pie

More bad news for the Bowl, affectionately known here as the Pizza Bowl. The TV ratings are in and it's not good. Of the five bowls owned by ESPN, the Pizza Bowl was the lowest rated, falling far behind the Hawaii, Armed Forces, Las Vegas and New Mexico bowls. And even the Motor City Bowl got better numbers, reports Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News. It's likely the Pizza Bowl will finish at or near the bottom when all the bowl ratings are tabulated. Now it might have appeared the game was well attended if you were one of the few who watched East Carolina and South Florida go at it at Birmingham's Legion Field, but all that was part illusion because most of the "announced" 32,023 were seated on one side of the stadium facing the cameras. There were other issues, namely the fact that the title sponsor could not work out a deal with the vendor to sell pizza inside Legion Field. To top this, none of the major pizza chains offer delivery to the Smithfield community surrounding the stadium because of safety concerns. Fans also faced long lines at concessions stands and there were complaints about poor taxi and bus services from downtown to the stadium. And if this wasn't enough, the vendors ran out of beer long before the game was over. Other than that, we're told everybody had a wonderful time.

Michigan to Remember Ford, Schembechler

Michigan will honor former player and President Gerald Ford and former coach and athletic director Bo Schembechler with a helmet sticker during Monday's Rose Bowl game against USC. Image of Sport provided us with two shots of the sticker, which will be affixed to the rear of the helmets. A closer inspection shows the design of the sticker, which features Ford's former number — 48 — above "Bo." Image of Sport also has other shots from Saturday's Rose Bowl media day. You can view all the images by clicking here.

Who's Choking, Who's Smoking

The biggest losers thus far in the postseason? It's the Big Ten and Conference USA. Combined, the conferences are winless in seven games. Missouri and Virginia Tech had notable collapses, but nothing can top Minnesota's choke job. The Golden Gophers had a 31-point lead in the third quarter against Texas Tech and ended up losing, 44-41, in overtime. The big winners? The Southeastern and Mountain West are a combined 6-2. The breakdown:

BCS Conferences
Conference........Bowl Record
Atlantic Coast.....3-2
Big East............2-0
Big Ten.............0-3
Big 12..............3-3

Non-BCS Conferences
Conference.........Bowl Record
Conference USA.....0-4
Mountain West......3-1
Sun Belt..............1-1
Western Athletic....2-0

But as everybody knows, the real record is kept in Las Vegas. So here is a look at how the conferences stand against the point spread:

BCS Conferences
Atlantic Coast.....2-3
Big East............2-0
Big Ten............2-1
Big 12..............2-4

Non-BCS Conferences
Conference USA....0-4
Mountain West.....3-1
Sun Belt.............1-1
Western Athletic...2-0

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Fine Art of Lying

Should Tom Coughlin be fired as coach of the New York Giants and Crewcut Charlie Weis ends up as Giants coach, Weis will have been proved a liar. Crewcut repeatedly has said he is not leaving Notre Dame, but as John Branch of the New York Times pointed out, because Weis is a football coach, such denials have lost their meaning. Three recent examples: Boston College's Tom O'Brien released a statement saying he was "not a candidate for any job." Days later he was named coach at North Carolina State. Dennis Erickson saying the only reason he would leave Idaho would be to retire. He was recently named coach at Arizona State. Rich Rodriguez, angry over reports he was headed to Alabama, called a radio show to say he planned to spend his career at West Virginia. Days later he considered Alabama's offer before turning it down. Denying interest in a job and then accepting it has become has become routine in coaching circles. Is Weis a man of his word? Consider that Crewcut was one of four finalists for the Giants job three years ago, and during his interview with the team, Weis reportedly called the Giants his dream job.

Michigan's Coach Is the One on the Left

They don't call the Rose Bowl "The Granddaddy of Them All" for nothing. Outside of preparing for the game, the teams are busy enjoying the good life in Southern California. Image of Sport provided this shot of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr being welcomed to Disneyland earlier this week by Mickey Mouse. What makes this shot extremely rare is the slight smile on the face of the normally grouchy Carr. See Lloyd, it's really not that difficult to smile now, is it? Click here to see more shots of the visit to Disneyland by USC and Michigan.

Not Your Ordinary Joe

In case you missed it, here is ESPN's interview of Joe Kines, the Alabama interim coach, during halftime of Thursday's Independence Bowl. Credit to EDSBS and Loser With Socks for finding this wonderful video. No surprise that Alabama lost, 34-31. It turns out that Crimson Tide players were frequent visitors to casinos during their stay in Shreveport.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Clock Rules Likely to Be Altered

How costly were the new clock rules this season? Consider this: The rules could have contributed to Arizona State's Dirk Koetter, right, losing his job, and USC losing a shot at the national championship. An excellent piece by Chris Dufrense of the L.A. Times says the rules (3-2-5 and 3-2-5-e) are expected to be altered when the Football Rules Committee meets in February. Koetter punted late in a 28-21 loss at USC on Oct. 14, hoping to get the ball back for one last shot. But the Trojans were able to burn the remaining 1:19 off the clock, thanks in part to the new rules. USC then got torched on Dec. 2 in a 13-9 loss at UCLA. Trojan coach Pete Carroll was forced to use one of his timeouts immediately after Eric McNeal's interception with 1:10 left. Under the old rules, the clock would have stopped and Carroll could have saved a timeout for when USC got the ball back with only seconds remaining. "We had to use that timeout right then and it would have been of great value to us later in the game," Carroll said. And who could forget the fiasco on Nov. 4 at Madison? Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema purposedly ordered his team to run offside twice on kickoffs before halftime to run off the last 23 seconds, exploiting a loophole in the rules. This didn't set well with Penn State's Joe Paterno, whose team lost to Badgers, 13-3. Paterno later suffered a leg injury, adding injury to the insult.

Golden Bears Enjoy Their Holiday

Not a bad gig. A night after taking in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco, the folks at Image of Sport jet down to San Diego for Thursday night's Holiday Bowl. Where do we apply? ... As usual, there were plenty of fireworks at Qualcomm Stadium (top), especially when California's punishing running back Marshawn Lynch (above) carried the load. He finished with 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Golden Bears' 45-10 victory over Texas A&M, the Pacific 10's first win of the postseason. ...
... Coach Jeff Tedford and his staff were more than happy to help the officials signal touchdown. Aggie quarterback Stephen McGee, who absorbed some nasty hits, completed 17 of 26 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. Coach Dennis Franchione, who was on the hot seat entering the season, watched his Aggies fall to 9-4. ...
... California receiver DeSean Jackson had five catches for 81 yards, and Texas A&M receiver Earvin Taylor gets crunched by Syd'Quan Thompson after a nine-yard reception. Golden Bear quarterback Nate Longshore, taking a snap from Alex Mack, was sharp, completing 19 of 24 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. There are plenty of other images to view, and you can see them by clicking here. Image of Sport provides newspapers and websites with some of the best photography around. Football isn't their only specialty. Check out their gallery, which features everything from sports to entertainment and news.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Emerald Bowl Was Jewel of a Game

Wednesday night's Emerald Bowl between UCLA and Florida State was arguably the most entertaining postseason game to date. Our friends at Image of Sport were at AT&T Park in San Francisco (top) and sent us several outstanding images. Center Robert Chan and his Bruin linemates get ready to go toe-to-toe with the Seminoles. Florida State's Lorenzo Booker was named offensive MVP rushing for 91 yards, catching five passes for 117 more and scoring two touchdowns, much to the pleasure of coach Bobby Bowden (below). ...
... Jj Thacker and Byron J of Seminole County performed at halftime. Thacker is the sister of Florida State defensive tackle Budd Thacker. Quarterback Drew Weatherford had some rough moments (below), but recovered to lead the Seminoles to the 44-27 victory. ...
... UCLA's cheerleaders toughed it out in windy conditions, and Myron Rolle (below) was smiling after his interception in the final minute. Rolle, you may recall, received a text message on his cell phone last January from Florida Governor Jeb Bush during his recruitment by the Seminoles. Image of Sport, a sports photography wire service and digital archive designed to meet the demands of daily newspapers and editorial publications, has several other images from the game. You can view them by clicking here. ... ... A reminder that if you are headed to a postseason game and would like to share an image or two, we'd love to hear from you. The address is dawizofodds (at)

Reporters' Notebooks

Associated Press: Tickets for the Cotton Bowl are so cheap that a family of four could see the game between Nebraska and Auburn for less than $100.

Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Advertiser: Record-breaking Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan has requested that an NFL advisory panel evaluate his skills and project where he would be selected if he declared himself eligible for the draft.

Dave Matter, Columbia Tribune: It's the flu bug — not a hangover from a late-night trip to Juarez — that is bothering Missouri players as they prepare for the Sun Bowl in El Paso.

Andy Staples, Tampa Tribune: Nobody benefitted more from Bylaw — the obscure NCAA rule that allows graduate students to transfer and play immediately — than Florida's Ryan Smith.

Mike Knobler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Another Georgia Tech player has been declared academically ineligible for the Gator Bowl (registration).

Christian Swezey, Washington Post: Navy is developing quite the reputation for bringing fans to bowl games (registration).

Jorge Milian, Palm Beach Post: Miami quarterbacks Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman aren't the best of friends. At one point, they weren't even talking to each other.

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: Former Louisiana State and Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo, who helped lead Notre Dame to the 1973 national title as a player, said the Fighting Irish have "become what they never wanted to become."

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: Iowa quarterback Drew Tate is being criticized for comments he made about the Hawkeye state.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

If You Like the Site, You'll Love the Show

Now that you received that snazzy Sirius radio as a holiday gift, it's time to put it to good use. Join us Friday night/Saturday morning on "Sports Overnight America" on Sports Byline USA (Sirius 122). Scheduled guests this week are columnist Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette and USC beat writer Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. Mike, who has just launched a blog, is in San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl matchup between Iowa and Texas. Gary is on the scene in Pasadena, where Michigan and USC are gearing up for the Rose Bowl. Fred Wallin and John Woolard will start the show at 10 p.m. (Pacific), and the Wiz will join the discussion at 11:30. Then Mike and Gary will join us. Now if you don't have Sirius, you can still hear "Sports Overnight America" over the Internet at Sports Byline or on one of the hundreds of affiliates that carry the show. You can check that list by clicking here. And "Sports Overnight Amercia" is also available on the Armed Forces Network.

'I Want Every Man, Woman and Child'

During the week, Geoffrey Strand seems normal enough. The 59-year-old works for a Santa Monica financial services firm as a senior advisor. But on Saturdays in the fall, he puts on short pants, short socks, a baggy sweater and a newsboy cap and becomes the alumni cheerleader for UCLA. "No question, what I do is a little goofy," Strand told the L.A. Times in 2004. "People are surprised I do it. They say it's kind of quaint or odd. But that's the passion we have at UCLA. It's not contrived or marketed. It's real." This all started in 1976, when former Bruin coach Terry Donahue asked Strand to lead cheers for the alumni. Strand's fame is such today that he is invited to work Bruin birthday parties and pep rallies. To fulfill his commitments, he has to show up five hours before home games. On Wednesday night, Strand be leading the cheers when UCLA plays Florida State in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco.

Birmingham's Save Our Slice Movement

The outrage over no pizza at the Pizza Bowl continues to grow. If you'll recall, Papa John's, the title sponsor of Saturday's bowl game in Birmingham, couldn't work out a deal with the Legion Field vendor to sell — of all things — pizza. Imagine that. Even Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid complained. "We told the mayor the fans want pizza. He said, absolutely," Papa John's spokesperson Chris Sternberg said. Now the dough boys are promising to deliver in 2007. Several hurdles remain. First, Legion Field doesn't have the proper ovens, so officials are talking about cooking pizzas in trailers. Another option is to have pizza delivered to the stadium. Currently, Papa John's and other chains don't deliver to the rough and tumble Smithfield community that surrounds Legion Field, partly because of safety concerns. Bowl officials also have other worries. There were complaints from fans about the length of lines at concessions stands and the food selection itself. Plus, out-of-towners who stayed downtown talked about poor taxi and bus service. Bowl officials plan to encourage fans to rent cars in the future.

Tug-of-War: Bowls vs. Playoffs

Things could get interesting in 2007 for the NCAA. Congress is taking interest in the education-based tax-exemption of college sports and don't be surprised to see a congressional hearing where NCAA honcho Myles Brand, who pulls down whopping $870,000-plus salary, faces questions about commercialism. It's everywhere if you look at the bowl games: Bowl, AutoZone Liberty, Capital One, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl ... you get the idea. So if Uncle Sam wants his cut of the deal, what does this mean to the Bowl Championship Series? Will the BCS collapse? Playoff Solution, a site that was created earlier this month, has a plan for a 10-team playoff — a hybrid system, if you will — that incorporates the bowl games. According to the site, "You will find that the hybrid system takes the pros of both systems and leaves the cons behind."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Closer Look at Erin Andrews

ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews will be popping up on your TV screen this week, so we felt it was our civic duty to tell you about the 5-foot-10 former model who was a member of the Florida Dazzlers dance team while attending college in Gainesville. Cosmetic surgery? No way, she says. Andrews is single and used to date an NHL player. One of her peeves is that she often gets asked out by married athletes. Andrews' father is a TV reporter in Tampa and her goal is to end up on "Monday Night Football." There's more, thanks to this interview in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Proceed with caution. And remember to check out the rest of our site.

Send Us Your Bowl Photos!

So you think you have the mother of all bowl tailgates, eh? Or maybe you were able to smuggle that digital camera you just received as a gift into the big game. Now is the time to show us what you've got. Send us your favorite photos taken during this glorious bowl season and in return we will plug anything you want — within reason of course. The address: dawizofodds (at)

Reporters' Notebooks

David Wharton, Los Angeles Times: Of the 1,063 calls that were reviewed this season, approximately 25% were reversed. The average wait for a replay decision was 1 minute 49 seconds.

Jeff Darlington, Miami Herald: Alabama is expected to make another run at Miami Dolphin coach Nick Saban. Don Shula, father of the fired Mike Shula, called the Alabama program "bad" and that he hopes "someone evaluates the evaluators" in Tuscaloosa.

Tom D'Angelo, Palm Beach Post: Florida State's Lorenzo Booker, in San Francisco for the Emerald Bowl, doesn't like the Bay Area, judging from his comments.

John Hunt, Oregonian: Testy? Oregon coach Mike Bellotti opened a conference call by calling for a public apology from a columnist.

Lee Barfknecht, Omaha World-Herald: Reality is sinking in for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers will play Auburn in a "dump" of a stadium, sometimes called the Cotton Bowl.

Irv Moss, Denver Post: Is new Air Force coach Troy Calhoun ready to dump the option offense used by Fisher DeBerry?

Pete Thamel, New York Times: An Auburn professor who had been the focus of an investigation in academic irregularities has been suspended with pay because of a different academic matter.

Kansas City Star: Former Northwestern and Colorado coach Gary Barnett let it be known he wanted back in the game, but he hasn't received one phone call.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Super Southern 100. The paper names its top high school prospects in the South.

Steroid Nation: Breaking down the reported positive drug test that led to the dismissal of Florida defensive tackle Marcus Thomas.

Norman Chad: Totally unrelated to what we have going on at this site, but do we really need an excuse to link to the entertaining Chad?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Culture Clash

Can't wait for Thursday's Holiday Bowl. On one side you have Texas A&M, which is college football's answer to the Fox News Channel. Former school president Robert Gates, an acknowledged message board lurker, is the new Secretary of Defense under President Bush. On the other side you have California. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau lists on his curriculum vitae an editorial he once wrote for the Toronto Star entitled "Celebrating Sexual Diversity." Guns? Texas A&M has the Metzger-Sanders collection, one of the state's largest. At Cal, more than 88% of Berkeley freshman said in a 2004 survey that the federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns. Girls? A&M began full admission for women in 1971. The first female student enrolled at Cal in 1870. Brent Schrotenboer of the San Diego Union-Tribune breaks it down in an entertaining piece. Thanks to Mary for this!

A Pizza Bowl Without Pizza (and Beer)

Word comes to us that Saturday's Bowl was missing a key ingredient. Namely pizza. Yes, all that planning to bring a postseason game back to Birmingham and the title sponsor was not able to sell its goods inside Legion Field. Turns out Papa John's and the vendor couldn't work out a deal before kickoff, so no pizza. Is this a great country or what? Our reaction to this would be to find a workaround, which is this case would mean delivery inside the stadium. But it turns out that Papa John's — along with Pizza Hut and Domino's — won't deliver to the rough and tumble Smithfield community that envelops Legion Field. Nobody will come out and directly say it, but word on the street is that safety is a factor. On top of this, Legion Field concession stands ran out of beer. "It was pretty sad," South Florida student Brynn McDowell told the Birmingham News. "We were in line 45 minutes and we were next when they ran out." Yes indeed, times are tough in Alabama. Even two Crimson Tide fans who were among the announced 32,023 at the Pizza Bowl couldn't entice the fat guy to make it down the chimney to deliver a coach. (Thanks to Drew for this gem of a photo.) And if all this wasn't bad enough, consider this: In an attempt to deceive viewers into thinking the crowd was bigger than it actually was, the majority of fans were seated on one side of the stadium facing the cameras. Like we said, is this a great country or what?

Sunday, December 24, 2006 Bowl Fever!

Birmingham may never be the same after Saturday's inaugural Bowl between East Carolina and South Florida. Reader Greg was among those in attendance and sent us several images. The top shot shows a half-full (or half-empty, depending on your point of view) Legion Field with the Birmingham skyline in the background. East Carolina fans young and old were in attendance, but the Pirates couldn't get much going offensively and lost, 24-7. Outside the stadium is a monument of a gentleman who might make a good coach some day. Isn't Alabama still looking for one? Below we have two shots of South Florida's best. The first image shows a Bulls fan who was just fitted with a C-cup coconut bra. The bottom shots are examples of some of the creatures who were tailgating before the game. ... Now if you are going to a postseason game, we'd love to have images sent our way. The address: dawizofodds (at) As always, we will plug any site you wish, within reason and good taste, of course.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Hop, Skip and a Big Jump in Future?

Things don't always go as planned. Take Skip Holtz, for example. He was in line to replace his father, Lou, as South Carolina coach. Then came a 63-17 loss to rival Clemson that capped a 5-6 season in 2003. Skip was demoted from assistant head coach to quarterbacks coach, and a year later when his father stepped down, Skip was looking for work. He landed at East Carolina, where he resurrected the program in two years. On Saturday, his Pirates play South Florida in the Bowl, another indication that Skip has resurrected his career. But beating the Bulls won't be easy. South Florida is 40th in the BCS rankings, ahead Florida State (52nd) and Miami (62nd).

Friday, December 22, 2006

Alabama Continues Its Search for a Coach

OK, this is cold, but we laughed! This photo arrived to us from the Midwest Correspondent with the following caption: "Photo of Alabama coaching search committee pursuing their man." Yes, you could say the Crimson Tide's search has come to a dead end. Does anybody want this job? Miami Dolphin coach Nick Saban, despite continued speculation that he is headed to Tuscaloosa, issued his strongest public denial to date, saying he's not interested. "I don't know what else I can say," he said. At this point, Saban must feel like taking out a temporary restraining order against persistent Alabama officials. ... Just a reminder that we are not the only ones chuckling over the search in T-Town. The Tennessee site Loser With Socks continues to hammer away.

What's Inside Those Bowl Goodie Bags?

If you're a college football player whose team is in a bowl game, life is good. iPods, video games, cameras, navigation systems ... these are some of the items contained in gift packages that bowl games give to each player. Each bag can have a value up to $500. In addition, players can also receive up to $350 in gifts from their school, pushing the total postseason haul to $850 (cheerleader not included). Granted, some of this stuff is crap, but don't be surprised to see postseason gifts end up on eBay. Just remember what it was like back in the day. You could do a lot of damage on campus with $850 in your wallet. And for a humorous look at what's in a bowl gift bag, check out The Onion.

The West Texas Town of El Paso

Our love for El Paso is well documented. Just when you think you've had enough of the nightlife, the twinkling lights of Juarez await, where fun can be had 24-7. And the cool thing is that Juarez has a sportsbook! Now the only problem with all of this is actually getting to El Paso. It's located somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Oregon State fans discovered this early on after the Beavers were selected to play Missouri in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29. The Oregonian, taking note of this, has asked fans to submit their Sun Bowl travel stories. One Beaver fan who lives in Arlington, Texas, checked into taking Amtrak to El Paso. Turns it the trip would have taken 33 hours 26 minutes. "Texas is a big state, but in 33 hours, I could go to Australia and back," he wrote. Another fan who lives in Washington State is flying from Seattle to Phoenix, then meeting a buddy there. Together they will drive like madmen to El Paso and get a couple of hours sleep before kickoff.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Where to Find Jesus in Vegas

Nothing against Brigham Young. The Cougars came across as a hard-knocking team the few times we've had an opportunity to watch them play. We get another chance to see BYU on Thursday night when it plays Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl, one of our postseason favorites for obvious reasons. Although much of the hubbub has centered on Oregon's expected unveiling of its new helmets, the Wiz has taken an interest in the general going-ons in Vegas this week. Yes, it has been a week of contrasts. On one side you have the honey beer drinking and gambling Oregon fans. On the other end of the spectrum resides the BYU contingent, which shuns alcohol and gambling. As one poster on Deadspin remarked, having BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl is like having a diabetics convention at a chocolate factory. Even former coach LaVell Edwards once said BYU fans bring the Ten Commandments and a $50 bill to bowl games and break neither. Jokes aside, BYU fans have seemed out of place this week in Vegas, despite attempts to say otherwise. Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote about fans staying at the Golden Nugget Casino, with slot machines, craps tables, roulette wheels and a sign that screamed "Topless Girls of Glitter Gulch." Yes, Jesus resides in Vegas, but you won't find him in a church. The locals know him as Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and he can be found at a poker table.

Desmond Howard's Trip to the Hot Seat

Desmond Howard's blunder on ESPN's bowl pregame show Tuesday night earned the former Heisman winner a trip to the Budweiser Hot Seat on Wednesday. Karl Ravich lobs him a softball and Howard attempts to smack it over the fence. Said Howard: "I misspoke when I said Cal vs. Texas as opposed to Cal vs. Texas A&M. So I apologize to the Longhorns and Aggies fans. But I know you don't need me to tell you who you're playing against in the bowl. But whether it's Texas with an A&M or without an A&M, I'm still picking Cal to win the Pacific Holiday Bowl." A couple of things here. First, we understand where ESPN and Howard are coming from, but he should have stopped with the apology and everything would have been good. Instead, he throws in the "you don't need me" and "whether it's Texas with an A&M or without and A&M." OK, if we don't need you, then why are you on the air? Second, putting Texas and Texas A&M in a generic category comes off as an attempt to trivialize Tuesday's mistake. Not good. And this Hot Seat segment is anything but hot. Frankly, how in the hell did Tuesday's mistake happen in the first place? We may never know, but one would like to think there are checks and balances in place to prevent such errors from getting on air. On the plus side, we commend ESPN for the correction, but given that Tuesday's clip spread through the Internet like a California wildfire, it really had no choice. ... Again, thanks to The 12th Manchild.

From the Written to the Spoken Word

Please join us Friday night/Saturday morning on "Sports Overnight America" on Sports Byline USA. There is plenty to talk about, and Fred Wallin and John Woolard get it started at 10 p.m. (Pacific). The Wiz will join the discussion at 11:30, and at midnight our guest is scheduled to be Lonnie White, the UCLA beat writer for the Los Angeles Times. He will be available to answer all your bowl-related questions, Emerald Bowl or otherwise. "Sports Overnight America" can be heard on Sirius 122, over the Internet at Sports Byline or on the Armed Forces Network. If none of these options work, check Sports Byline's list of affiliates by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Expert Analysis From Desmond Howard

Brad, our new favorite correspondent, has come through again, sending us this gem of gems first posted on The 12th Manchild, fast becoming one of our favorite stops. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you ESPN's Desmond Howard. Just watch and listen. Simply amazing. For those of you slow to catch on, Texas A&M is California's opponent in the Holiday Bowl, not Texas. As Brad points out, at least the graphics department got it right.

New Meaning to 'All In'

This is what can happen if you go to church. Jeff McQuarrie learns how to use a video camera in order to make a promotional video for his church in 2001 and today we have a three-part DVD series on the history of Washington State football titled "Legends of the Palouse." McQuarrie has basically put it all on the line, launching the project three years ago using savings and severance from a previous job as president and marketing director of an Alaskan fishing resort. Two years in, the cash was gone, so he took a state job. He quit after one day. To keep the project alive, he sold his Corvette convertible. When that money was gone, he borrowed funds from his mother. "I'm not going to say how much that was," he told Craig Smith of the Seattle Times. "Let's just say it was enough to make most people think I'm either crazy, irresponsible or both." He got his big break when legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson, a Washington State alum, agreed to be interviewed. In fact, Jackson came to McQuarrie's house in Olympia. There's much more to the story, and you can check out McQuarrie's sites by clicking here or clicking here.

Reporters' Notebooks

Jay Drew, Salt Lake Tribune: Things got a little out of hand during a pep rally for Brigham Young and Oregon in advance of Thursday's Las Vegas Bowl.

Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal: The shakeup of the Nevada Las Vegas coaching staff has started, with offensive coordinator Noah Brindise the first casualty.

Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle: California running back Marshawn Lynch has lost his No. 1 blocker. Fullback Byron Storer has a broken arm.

Steve Dilbeck, L.A. Daily News: Most of the time, making it to the Rose Bowl is the accomplishment of a lifetime. Not for USC.

Jim Meehan, Spokesman Review: Washington State defensive coordinator Robb Akey is the new coach of Idaho, replacing Dennis Erickson.

Pete Pelegrin, Miami Herald: Miami offensive line coach Mario Cristobal was hired as coach at Florida International. The 36-year-old becomes the first Cuban-American head coach in Division I-A and the second youngest behind Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, 32 (registration).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hop in! Let's Go Bowling!

The beauty of the bowl season is that you never know what to expect. It's a wild ride of 32 games in 21 days and it starts Tuesday night with the Poinsettia Bowl between Texas Christian and Northern Illinois from San Diego. You'll certainly need an on-board navigation system for this trek, and you've come to the right place. Here are a few of our favorite previews from around the country:

Jay Heater, Contra Costa Times: A coach potato's guide. Ranking the games, from best to watch to the worst.

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: Ten years ago, there were only 18 bowl games. What's the reason behind the explosive growth? (thanks to Mary).

Edgar Thompson, Palm Beach Post: The long layoff can create problems. Teams can go stale, some players get fat and coaches can get too fancy with their game plans.

Mike Huguenin, Orlando Sentinel: Teams that don't deserve to go bowling include Alabama, Florida State, Iowa and Miami.

Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News: You can't have a preview without a few predictions, can you? Here is a look at 12 early games of note.

Jake Curtis, San Francisco Chronicle: We hate to double up on the coach potato's guide, but this was too good to pass up.

For the complete bowl schedule and latest numbers, check with our friends at Doc's Sports.

Stanford's Hail Mary

Jim Harbaugh got a lot of looks, but no takers. That will change Tuesday. Harbaugh, whose name had been connected with openings at Iowa State, North Texas and Tulane, will be announced as Stanford's coach. It's quite a step up in competition for Harbaugh, who has been a big winner the past three seasons at Division I-AA San Diego. Harbaugh might have been a factor in the opening last season at San Diego State had he not been arrested for driving under the influence. ... Cardinal Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby is already being criticized for choosing Harbaugh. Jon Wilner of the Mercury News wrote on his blog, "For a program in the gutter, this is a huge gamble."

Reporters' Notebooks

Scott Cacciola and Tom Bailey Jr., Commercial Appeal: Good and bad news for Mississippi. Former Texas quarterback Jevan Snead is transferring to Oxford, but a Rebel recruit is facing charges that include intent to sell or distribute the drug Ecstasy.

Norm Wood, Daily Press: Virginia Tech quarterback Ike Whitaker is entering treatment "for alcohol-related issues" and will miss the team's trip to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Steve Conroy, Boston Herald: Who is Jeff Jagodzinski? The Green Bay Packer offensive coordinator will be named Boston College's coach on Tuesday.

Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review Journal: Oregon says its win over Oklahoma was diminished because of the stir created by two controversial officiating decisions.

John Moredich, Tucson Citizen: Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama, who suffered three concussions this season, has been cleared to play in 2007, but Wildcat junior running back Chis Henry plans to turn pro.

Iliana Limon, Albuquerque Tribune: New Mexico coach Rocky Long is trying to minimize the fallout from a recruit being shot outside an Albuquerque strip club during an official visit.

Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman: Idaho athletic director Rob Spear, who lost his prized hire in Dennis Erickson, might need another miracle to keep his job.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tommy Bowden's Christmas Gift

Quite the pissing match between Clemson's Tommy Bowden and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier. We're not sure who won, but here's what happened. Spurrier got a $500,000 raise and a one-year contract extension after the Gamecocks finished the regular season 7-5, which included a 31-28 victory over the Tigers. All this appeared to get to Bowden, whose team is 8-4. Said Bowden: "It's amazing how this thing works, because here I'm at a place where seven [wins] gets you fired. He's at a place where seven [wins] gets you a raise. I should have won seven instead of eight." Spurrier responded: "If Tommy Bowden wants a raise, he should just ask his A.D. and president if he thinks he's as good a coach as Mark Richt and me and Fulmer and Tuberville and those guys. That's the only reason I got a raise. They think I'm that good a coach. So if he wants a raise, he ought to go and say, 'Am I as good a coach as all them guys?' " Bowden's response? "I gave y'all one Christmas gift. No more. That's out of character for me. I gave y'all one Christmas gift last week. So you don't get anything else until next Christmas."

Befuddlement U.

Sometimes the best plan is to have no plan. That seemed to work for Bob Bowlsby when he was athletic director at Iowa. While searching for a replacement for the retiring Hayden Fry, Bowlsby somehow lost the No. 1 candidate in alum Bob Stoops, who instead took the gig at Oklahoma. Bowlsby recovered and stumbled into Kirk Ferentz, who restored order after Hawkeye fans were taking to the streets, pitchforks in hand. Bowlsby left last summer to become Stanford's A.D., and his first major move came two weeks ago when he fired Walt Harris as coach. Now his handling of the Stanford search is beginning to resemble the bumbling approach that somehow resulted in the hiring of Ferentz in 1998. And much like those pitchfork-wielding Iowa fans, Cardinal faithful are growing restless. Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle summed it up, writing "the suspicion is that [Bowlsby] is going at this blinder than he thought he would, that this job is a lot harder to fill than it seems. At a time when he needed to be able to stand and say, 'This is the guy, you'll see,' it looks increasingly likely that he'll end up standing and saying, 'This is the last guy I saw.' " ... Thanks to the Midwest Correspondent.

You Have to Destroy It in Order to Save It

Work has started on Texas' $176 million renovation of the north end zone of Royal-Memorial Stadium. It didn't take long to tear down the section. Work began on the morning of Dec. 8 and was completed on Dec. 10. We present you a time-lapse video, taken from webcam images every five minutes (when available). In its place will be increased seating and, of course, luxury suites. The lower-level seating is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2007 season. The luxury boxes will be ready in 2008.

Reporters' Notebooks

Gil LeBreton, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Beaches, mountains, gorgeous weather. It might be San Diego, but for Texas Christian it's bowl purgatory disguised as paradise.

Brian Gomez, Colorado Springs Gazette: Houston Texans offensive coordinator Troy Calhoun will interview Monday for the coaching vacancy at Air Force. Also expressing interest: Gary Barnett, the former Colorado and Northwestern coach.

Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger: Kansas State beats Rutgers when it comes to junior college recruits. The Wildcats have 23 on their roster and the Scarlet Knights only two.

Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli doesn't care for his high school coach. He hasn't spoken with him since his final prep game.

Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Here is the proper way to judge a recruiting class. Let's look at Jim Tressel's haul in 2002 for Ohio State.

Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman: The athletic budgets of bowl combatants Boise State and Oklahoma. Boise State: $17 million. Oklahoma: $64.3 million.

Neill Woelk, Boulder Daily Camera: Here's hoping Arizona State gets exactly what it deserves for hiring Dennis Erickson (registration).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oregon Set to Debut New Helmet Design

Terrific find by the good folks at Fan Blogs. Oregon is expected to unveil yet another helmet design in Thursday night's Las Vegas Bowl against Brigham Young. It appears only a shipping company can stop this from happening. Roughly half the players have received the new headgear and the team needs the full shipment to pull this off before it departs Monday from Eugene. We will reserve judgment on the new design until we get a good look at it, but Fan Blogs has plenty to say: "According to reports, the new helmets will be paired with Oregon's notorious lightning yellow jerseys and lightning yellow pants, a combination that will be a significant setback to high-def tv sales nationwide." The photo is from Wayne Eastburn of the Eugene Register-Guard (some registration).