Monday, April 30, 2007

The Great Billboard Competition

Nothing chaps the backside like seeing a billboard proudly displaying an accomplishment by your team's rival. It turns that stretch of road into a highway to hell. You wish there was something you could do to counter this injustice. Well now there is. ...

We're announcing the great billboard competition. It's your chance to get a dig on your opponents and have it proudly displayed to the masses. The billboard above will serve as the template (click on it to get the full-size file), and we're asking fans to use it — abuse it, actually — and destabilize your rival. Create the billboard you want your opponent to see. After all, the best defense is a good offense.

Ground rules? Just a few. Pornography is frowned upon, and we reserve the right to throw out any entry that goes beyond good taste. The plan is to display entries as we go along and then put all of them up for a vote to determine the best of the best. Spread the word and send your entries to dawizofodds (at)

We've included a few examples of actual billboards from the past year to get the creative juices flowing. Thanks to Trent for the bottom entry spotted in Columbus! Entries: Gambling Loss, Threesome, Wiz Under Attack, The Great Sabanini, Welcome to College Statiowned, Good Seats Available, Urine for Trouble, Fluffer, Accidents Happen, Saw 'Em Off, Gun Laws, Speak of the Devil, Phil Fulmer's Flock, Auburn's Money and Grades, Sooner or Later, Two for Tuesday, Don't Forget Your Laptop, Ed Orgeron Is Shrek, Bowden Manure Service, Roll Over Tide and Beat Michagain.

Spring Reports

Atlantic Coast

Boston College: There's another Flutie at Chestnut Hill. Billy Flutie — Doug is his uncle — made a splash during the spring finale.

Maryland: Chris Turner, the Terrapins' third-string quarterback, beat the top two signal callers in a lackluster game with conservative offense.

Pacific 10

Oregon: The Ducks, trying to replace all five offensive linemen, struggled to get any consistency on offense before 11,723.

Oregon State: Still no clear-cut favorite in the quarterback derby between Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield.

Stanford: Good news: The defense, listless and underwhelming in two previous scrimmages, played well. Bad news: It came against the Cardinal offense.

Washington: The Huskies displayed some first-line talent, but not much is left in reserve as the team prepares for the nation's toughest schedule.

Western Athletic

Fresno State: A youth movement that started during a seven-game losing streak appears to be paying dividends in the secondary.

Hawaii: The Warriors displayed their multi-blitz approach under new defensive coordinator Greg McMackin.

Nevada: Quarterback Nick Graziano's play brought praise from coach Chris Ault, whose team opens at Nebraska.

At UCLA, There's No Place to Run

UCLA either has one of the nation's best defenses or one of the worst offenses coming out of spring. The Bruins held their spring game Friday night at Spaulding Field in Westwood and it wasn't pretty, unless you like defense.

The first-team offense, which played exclusively against the second-team defense, managed one rushing yard in 19 attempts. Freshman Justin Fareed, top, and junior Kahlil Bell, left, were among the runners who struggled as new offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, who is standing behind Bell, watched his unit sputter.

UCLA named Ben Olson, below, the starting quarterback last Thursday, a move that could be questioned if the Bruins' struggles continue into the fall.

Linebacker Reggie Carter, below left, warms up before the scrimmage, and backup quarterback Patrick Cowan, below right, was smiling despite losing the starting job to Olson.

The Wiz would like to thank Jack for sending us the images. He has several other shots available on this thread at Bruin Report Online.

Previous spring game coverage: Ohio State, Nebraska, Iowa State, Iowa, Georgia, USC and Auburn. Want your team represented in our spring coverage? Send images to dawizofodds (at) We'd be happy to plug your site in return.

Trial Set to Begin for Former Iowa Receiver

Ivory Webb was a receiver and two-time letterman at Iowa. He started the 1982 Rose Bowl and his former Hawkeye teammates include Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Arizona coach Mike Stoops and former NFL All-Pro Andre Tippett.

Webb went on to become a sheriff's deputy in San Bernardino County, and in February 2006, he shot Air Force policeman Elio Carrion three times after a brief car chase. The incident was captured on video by a bystander, and Carrion, a passenger in the vehicle, appeared to be obeying Webb's orders before being shot.

Carrion has recovered and now Webb, who is no longer a member of the force, is about to go on trial for the shooting, with jury selection to begin Monday. Warning: video is graphic.

Reporters' Notebooks

Ron Bracken, Centre Daily Times: No matter how hard you try, you just can't fix stupid at Penn State.

John Helsley, Oklahoman: A warrant has been issued for former Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, the seventh pick of the NFL draft by Minnesota, for non-payment of a traffic violation.

Iliana Limon, Albuquerque Tribune: New Mexico is the latest team to join a trend of moving practices to mornings.

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe faces a second-degree misdemeanor charge for serving alcohol to an underage person.

Norman Chad, for the Charleston Gazette: Here’s his problem with Ultimate Fighting — if nobody dies, how ultimate is it?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

How the NFL Draft Mirrors Recruiting

We view the NFL draft much like we view recruiting: A whole lot of coverage about nothing. OK, maybe that is a tad harsh, but Tom Kirkendall has an excellent post about what the draft is really about: Finding the hidden gems.

Kirkendall points to a Wall Street Journal article (subscription only) by Allen St. John that examined the five drafts before this weekend's gathering at Radio City Music Hall. Of the 80 position players who made the All-Pro teams since 2002, 35, or 44%, were not drafted in the first round. In fact, 21 All-Pros weren't picked until the third round or later. Five of the All-Pros went undrafted.

And of the No. 1 pick in the draft, only one — Peyton Manning — became an All-Pro. So don't be surprised when that can't-miss blue chip prep player your college team signed misses and the kid who was an afterthought becomes the star of the team.

Friday, April 27, 2007

How One Trojan Prepared for Draft

USC center Ryan Kalil, projected to be a first-day pick in the NFL draft, and actor Will Ferrell get together in this comedy bit that will air during the NFL Network's draft coverage. Ferrell plays USC auxiliary strength and conditioning coach "Chuck Berry." Also appearing are Pete Carroll and "Little Matty" Leinart. Thanks to Sports By Brooks!

Six Penn State Players Face Felony Charges

Felony charges have been filed against six Penn State players in connection with an April 1 on-campus assault. Among the players charged were Anthony Scirrotto, top left, a safety who led the Big Ten in interceptions last season, and Justin King, below left, a second-team all-Big Ten cornerback. Also charged were defensive tackle Chris Baker, top middle, linebacker Jerome Hayes, top right, linebacker Tyrell Sales, bottom middle, and cornerback Lydell Sargeant, bottom right. All of the players are juniors. Scirrotto, who faces the most serious charges, had his bail set at $50,000. The other players had bail of $10,000.
Police say the men forced their way into an apartment and attacked several people attending a party, including one individual who tried to break up the altercation and was knocked unconscious after being hit in the head with a beer bottle. While unconscious, police say the man was repeatedly punched in the head. Police say subpoenas will be issued to as many as 20 players in the incident. State College Police press release.

A statement issued by coach Joe Paterno indicated the players will not be disciplined at this time. The coaching staff "will determine the appropriate consequence for each player's status on the team when due process has transpired. Until such time, we will have no further comment regarding the situation."

Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State for his help.

Track the Draft Through Map Game Day

Map Game Day is at it again. For the second year in a row, one of our favorite sites will be working the NFL draft, providing a graphical look at the selections by university, hometown or NFL team as it happens. The price? Free. You can't beat that! Currently, the 2007 site is loaded with a mock draft of the first round by CNNSI's Don Banks, but that will be zeroed out Saturday morning when the fun begins. For a better graphical representation of what to expect this weekend, take a look at Map Game Day's 2006 draft site.

Reporters' Notebooks

James Rainey, Los Angeles Times: Sportswriter Christine Daniels, the former Mike Penner who stunned colleagues with an 823-word essay announcing she was a transitioning transsexual, talks about the decision to go public. Plus, L.A. Times comments page and Sports Journalists message board.

Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times: In a decision that is sure to spark controversy, Ben Olson was named UCLA's starting quarterback over Patrick Cowan.

Michael Hunt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The decision by the NCAA to do away with text messaging should be cheered. It's a victory for athletes' privacy.

Lafayette Journal and Courier: Former Purdue player Kyle Williams is facing up to 28 years in prison after a conviction on five of six criminal counts.

Jeff Wilson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Texas Christian players Stephen Hodge and Robert Henson have been charged with weapons-related misdemeanors.

Catch Us on Sports Byline USA

A reminder to join the Wiz Friday night/Saturday morning on "Sports Overnight America" on the Sports Byline USA Radio Network. Join us at 11:30 p.m. (Pacific) and give us a call at 800-878-7529. You can hear the show over the Internet at Just click on "Listen Live." Or catch us over the American Forces Network, heard in 177 countries and U.S. territories and Navy ships at sea. And if you're into terrestrial radio, check the list of Sports Byline affiliates.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More From the Files of Project 119

Project 119, which we told you about Wednesday, is the brainchild of Dave, a 23-year-old college football fanatic whose goal is to visit all 119 Division I-A stadiums before he turns 30. In February, he paid a visit to Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium after a snowstorm. As you can see, this is what happens when you keep the gates open to your stadium.

Last Call for Brew's Crew T-Shirts

Minnesota officials have stopped production of a T-shirt promoting Tim Brewster, the team's new coach, because officials believe the phrase "Brew's Crew" could be connected with the consumption of alcohol.

"We're excited that Brewster's nickname is 'Brew', but we want to do the right thing," athletic director Joel Maturi said. "We believe there are other ways to promote the program without sending mixed messages about alcohol."

The Goal Line Club, a booster organization, had 2,500 of the shirts printed with the slogan and team's "M" logo. The club will be allowed to sell any remaining shirts, priced at $15 apiece, through its website.

After Minnesota officials made the announcement, sales quickly picked up. About 400 of the shirts were sold Wednesday. "We should have no trouble selling the rest of them," Goal Line president Teresa Grim said. Proceeds go to the football program.

Reporters' Notebooks

Mike Penner, Los Angeles Times: A 23-year veteran of the sports department announces that he is transsexual and changing his name to Christine Daniels.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: Bowl Championship Series officials discussed but did not enact a rule that would allow more than two teams from one conference to play in a BCS game. For the upcoming season, no changes will be made in the BCS.

Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: As many as six Penn State players could be charged in an on-campus assault. "You know more about it than I do," coach Joe Paterno said.

Joseph Person, Columbia State: South Carolina's Steve Spurrier on Florida State, his former season-ending opponent at Florida: "Back then FSU was pretty good. Almost everybody’s beating them now. But they were pretty tough back in the early '90s, mid '90s and so forth.”

Steve Ellis, Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State defensive back Myron Rolle is headed overseas to take nine hours of classes this summer.

Ryan Malashock, Arkansas Morning News: Arkansas officials say a lawsuit filed against the university is "totally without any legal basis."

Joshua Mayers, Washington Daily: Washington, which split the 1991 national title with Miami, is now staking a claim to the 1960 national title. Thanks to reader Bruce!

Paul Buker, Oregonian: Oregon State coach Mike Riley, 38-34 in six seasons, signed a contract extension through 2012.

Heather A. Dinich, Baltimore Sun: Maryland officials unveiled plans to renovate and expand Byrd Stadium's seating capacity to 60,000.

Paul Dellinger, Roanoke Times: Virginia Tech receiver Josh Hyman lost his driving privileges for a year after pleading no contest to operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

Wendell Barnhouse, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: A wrapup of Big Ten Conference spring football.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another Bizarre Twist at Arkansas

After a week of calm, things have sparked up again at Arkansas, where a man has filed a lawsuit against John White, right, the chancellor of the Fayetteville campus, and Alan Sugg, the president of the University of Arkansas.

In what is being called a taxpayer action, John David Terry alleges that White and Sugg failed to properly investigate two emails sent in December by Teresa Prewett of Little Rock, one to Mitch Mustain, the other to Democrat-Gazette sports editor Wally Hall.

Prewett is a Razorback booster and friend of Houston Nutt, and critics of the coach have alleged that he was behind Prewett's emails, which were critical of Mustain. The quarterback announced last week that he was transferring to USC. Prewett has since apologized for the emails.

You can download the 41-page legal document, which is a pdf file titled "Shock and Awe," by clicking here.

Project 119 Visits Columbus

If you're trapped in some office cubicle today, we feel your pain. OK, the job pays the bills and such, but there has to be a better way, a way to truly enjoy life. We bring you Dave, a man who by his own description is "totally directionaless." (sic) Yes, he's living our dream.

Dave is 23, and plans to visit every Division I-A stadium in the land. That's 119 in all, and his venture is aptly titled "Project 119."
"Everyone needs goals in life and hobbies. I have decided on a goal that is both unattainable and utterly ridiculous. It is my goal to go and see all 119 NCAA Division I-A football stadiums before I die. I know that this has kind of been done before by a couple of guys who have gone to see all of the Major League Baseball stadiums, but those guys are obviously pussies. What are there like 30 of those?!"

Yes, this is a man who truly loves his job.

"I have a map on my wall with a sharpie line for all the places I've been, and highlighted cities for all the places I will eventually go. I want to finish by the time I'm 30, and think that Hawaii might be a pretty sweet final destination.

"So yeah, it's mostly a geek thing I guess, but I f"ing love it."

Dave now counts 20 stadiums under his belt and he paid a visit Saturday to Ohio State, where the Buckeyes were treating 75,301 to their spring game. He sent along some shots from the action.
We also want to point readers to more Buckeye shots at Go Bucks, The Greatest Blog in the World and the Flickr page of Eleven Warriors. And our report from Columbus would not be complete without video from our friends at The Palestra.

We'd love to run photos from your team's spring finale. Send them to dawizofodds (at) Previous spring game coverage: Nebraska, Iowa State, Iowa, Georgia, USC, Auburn.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nick Saban Has a Message for Everybody

Alabama coach Nick Saban is tired of answering questions about winning championships. He's ready to do it. "Let's quit talking about it and let's go do what got to do to do it." ... Saban certainly can talk the talk, but can his team walk the walk?

When Losing Means Winning

Why does gastric-bypass surgery work for some and not for others? Former USC tailback Anthony Davis, top left, saw his weight balloon to 300 pounds. On March 11, 2006, he had the surgery, which was broadcast over the Internet. On April 7 of this year, a noticeably slimmer Davis was signing autographs at the USC spring game.

Iowa State defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt's results have been even more dramatic. Bolt, top right, had the surgery just over a year ago after his weight hit 500 pounds. He has lost over 250 pounds. Bolt told the Wiz that "the surgery was the best thing I have ever done. I have lost 253 pounds and feel great."

Then there is Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, left, who is due in a Massachusetts court in less than three months for a retrial of his medical malpractice lawsuit against two physicians Weis says botched his 2002 gastric-bypass operation.

Weis said he decided to undergo the surgery after his weight ballooned to around 350 pounds. After nearly dying after the risky procedure, Weis said he lost more than 100 pounds, only to regain 50 pounds. Speculation in South Bend is that Weis has since regained nearly all of the 100 pounds.

Bolt tells the Wiz that the procedure was merely part of the equation. "The surgery is a tool to help to lose the weight. You must exercise to lose the weight," he said.

Reporters' Notebooks

Mike McCall, Florida Alligator: A wild weekend in Gainesville, where five Florida players allegedly were involved in a confrontation and robbery at a party. Thanks to Loser With Socks.

Associated Press: Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, has sent a letter appealing to the NCAA's board of directors to find a middle ground on a proposed text messaging ban.

Steve Conroy, Boston Herald: Boston College offensive line coach Jim Turner resigned, citing "a difference in philosophies in the direction of the program."

Associated Press: The Navy Blue Angels pilot who died Saturday in a crash in South Carolina once had Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops as a passenger in his plane.

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: Three Iowa State players were cited for fifth degree theft after allegedly taking items from a purse that was left unattended on a bus.

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami safety Anthony Reddick, who was suspended four games for swinging his helmet and hitting a Florida International player during a brawl last season, tore a ligament in his left knee playing basketball and will miss the season.

Troy Phillips, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: North Texas is the latest team making the switch to the spread offense.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

In Australia, Technology Rules

What does Australian Rules Football have to do with American college football? Football Down Under is entering a new technological age, with players wearing small global positioning satellite units strapped to their backs. Every step and heartbeat is recorded and beamed to the coaches' box, where the numbers are monitored in real time on a laptop.

Given the similarities in the bruising physical nature of the two sports, it would seem like only a matter of time before such technology becomes part of the American game.

The Aussies are using the technology in many ways:

When player starts to "red-line" on any given measure during a game, he is replaced by a teammate with fresh legs.

The associated software enables teams to set upper and lower thresholds on each measure for each player, thus allowing the computer to tell a coach when a player is showing signs of fatigue or not working hard enough.

Fitness and conditioning regimes can be developed for each player to replicate game demands and adjust training loads to take account of the work done throughout a season.

Currently, there is one problem: The GPS devices don't work inside domed stadiums, but one team is already in partnership with a university to develop a modified GPS unit that will provide some real-time information without access to satellites.

Spring Reports

Atlantic Coast

Duke: With quarterback Zack Asack suspended for plagiarism, Thaddeus Lewis took all the snaps during the spring game.

Big East

Cincinnati: New coach Brian Kelly wasted no time putting his wide-open offense on display.

Louisville: Brian Brohm had three touchdown passes, but had four passes intercepted during Cardinals' spring finale.

Rutgers: The story came off the field, where running back Ray Rice had surgery to remove a bone chip on his right ankle.

Syracuse: The Orange may have found a starting quarterback in sophomore Andrew Robinson.

Big 12

Kansas State: Coach Ron Prince could have a quarterback controversy on his hands.

Missouri: Quarterback Chase Daniel has a message for anyone who pegs the Tigers as Big 12 North Division favorites: Bring it on.

Big Ten

Illinois: Ron Zook's offense displayed a developing big-play combination between second-year quarterback Juice Williams and freshman receiver Arrelious Benn.

Michigan State: An estimated 25,000 fans attended the Spartans' first spring game since Nick Saban's last season in 1999.

Northwestern: A sluggish offense could get a boost from former backup quarterback Andrew Brewer, who is now starting at receiver.

Penn State: A group of big receivers could add a new dimension to the offense.

Purdue: Anthony Heygood, who was buried on the depth chart at running back, appears to have cracked the starting lineup at linebacker.

Wisconsin: The quarterback derby between Tyler Donovan and Allan Evridge appears to be a dead heat.


Notre Dame: An announced crowd of 51,852 saw very little of quarterback Jimmy Clausen and a lot of running back Junior Jabbie.


Alabama: Nick Saban's remodeling project is a big hit in Tuscaloosa — witness the record turnout of 92,138 — but the Crimson Tide coach continues to push for improvement.

Kentucky: The offense got its share of big plays, but coach Rich Brooks was encouraged by the improved play of the defense.

Sun Belt

Florida International: Coach Mario Cristobal's first spring game had quite the ambiance, including complimentary food featuring six roasted pigs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

In College, Insurance Can Be the Best Policy

The odds are fewer than one in 100. But even with the odds stacked heavily in his favor, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm is in no mood to gamble.

Brohm, like so many returning college seniors, is expected to take out a disability insurance policy. Should Brohm be injured in his senior season at Louisville, he will be covered for millions should his pro aspirations be cut short.

Policies cost tens of thousands of dollars, and fewer than one in 100 ever file a claim.

Several companies write such policies, and even the NCAA is involved. The governing body, which entered the field in 1990, now offers up to $3 million of coverage for football players. To be eligible for the NCAA program, a player must be projected to be drafted in the first three rounds.

Brohm is considered such a sure prospect that he may be eligible for the rare policy that would pay an intermediate amount if an injury caused his draft status to drop but did not keep him from playing professionally. The cost? At typical rates, a $10 million policy could cost $200,000.

Corn Nation

Nebraska is known for producing offensive linemen, and one of the latest models on the assembly line is Matt Slauson, who — shall we say — displayed a rather interesting look during the Cornhuskers' spring game April 14. Nebraska is coming off a 9-5 season and expectations continue to grow in Lincoln, where fans lined up to get into Memorial Stadium. The game drew an announced 54,288, including Jason of Big Red Network, who we thank for the photos.
One of the reasons for optimism is Arizona State transfer Sam Keller, below, who completed 10 of 13 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. Keller is competing with Joe Ganz, who completed 11 of 18 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Why is defensive tackle Brandon Johnson smiling? You would be too if spring practice just ended. ... We'd love to run photos from your team's spring finale. Send them to dawizofodds (at) Previous spring game coverage: Iowa State, Iowa, Georgia, USC, Auburn.

Reporters' Notebooks

David Levinthal, Dallas Morning News: The new agreement with the Cotton Bowl means Oklahoma and Texas will pocket $4.7 million each from the Red River Shootout beginning in 2008.

James T. Hammond, Columbia State: The South Carolina trustees are seeking to rein in an athletic department that is said to be making large financial deals without required board approval.

Jeff Arnold, Ann Arbor News: Michigan has approved plans to build a $26.1 million indoor practice facility that will be ready in 2009.

Omar Kelly, Sun-Sentinel: Fullback James Bryant, who was suspended three times last season for undisclosed reasons, is leaving Miami.

Troy Phillips, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: What is former Washington State quarterback and NFL flop Ryan Leaf up to this spring? He's the golf coach at West Texas A&M.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Iowa Error in Not Letting Tate Keep Prize

You might recall last summer when Iowa's Drew Tate was playing in a charity golf tournament and made a hole-in-one that earned him $25,000 toward the purchase of a new Dodge.

Word quickly reached then-Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby, who told the quarterback that if he accepted the prize, he would be ineligible for his senior season.

It turns out that Tate could have kept the prize and maintained his eligibility. This according to Wally Renfro, senior advisor to NCAA president Myles Brand.

"It is my understanding that it is not a violation to accept the car. Iowa wouldn't let him keep it, not the NCAA," Renfro told the site Money Players.

This wasn't the first time Renfro offered this opinion. He told Darren Rovell of that same thing in March. Rovell was in New York to cover the IMG World Congress of Sports when Brand said he wasn't opposed to student-athletes filling out NCAA brackets as long as it wasn't for money. "A student-athlete can walk into the a supermarket and be the millionth customer and win a prize."

Wrote Rovell: "I was surprised by Brand's comments because I remember the University of Iowa forced their quarterback Drew Tate to give back the $25,000 he won by hitting a hole-in-one at a charity golf tournament because they said it would sacrifice his final year of eligibility. After Brand finished speaking, I spoke with the NCAA's Wally Renfro, who told me that he didn't believe that Tate's accepting of the prize was against NCAA rules. Sorry Drew."

I Want My Big Ten TV

The battle lines are being drawn. The Big Ten Network is set to launch in less than 15 weeks, but unless you have DirecTV, there is a good chance you won't be able to get the network, even if you live in Big Ten country.

Sports Business Journal reports the network is asking cable providers to pay $1.10 per subscriber in the Big Ten area. The price has major cable companies balking because they don't want to pass the additional fees onto customers. By comparison, ESPN charges $3 per subscriber and the NFL Network only 70 cents.

Another problem: The Chicago Tribune reports many cable companies don't have room on basic tiers to add another channel.

The Big Ten, believing it has the upper hand, is counting on fans to pressure cable companies once the network goes live. The cable companies usually cave and then pass along the cost to the complaining customers. Beautiful how this works, isn't it?

Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State.

Cyclone Nation Gets Recharged

Because many of our readers enjoy an adult beverage from time to time, it's time to provide a sure-fire question that will win a bar bet. Name the three returning college quarterbacks with most career passing yards. The answer: Hawaii's Colt Brennan (9,850), Michigan's Chad Henne (7,777) and — this will win it for you — Iowa State's Bret Meyer (7,348).

Cyclone Nation is energized with the return of Meyer and the addition of new coach Gene Chizik. A record 32,024 season tickets have been sold, and fans got their first look at Chizik's troops last Saturday during the spring game.

We'd like to thank David of 1430 KASI in Ames for the shots. He got motivated after seeing the Cyclones' rival featured earlier this week. "As an Iowa State grad I cannot let the pictures of the Hawkeyes stand!" he said.

If you have photos from your team's spring game and would like to share them with our audience, please send them to dawizofodds (at) Previous spring game coverage: Iowa, Georgia, USC, Auburn.

Reporters' Notebooks

Dave Levinthal, Dallas Morning News: A deal has been reached to keep the Oklahoma-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl through 2015.

Adam Jones, Tuscaloosa News: Alabama coach Nick Saban got the job in January, but he has yet to sign an employment contract.

Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News: The question remains: Is former Alabama player Juwan Simpson worthy of leaving his mark in the Walk of Fame?

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: The NCAA has granted San Diego State a waiver from scholarship reduction penalties on the basis of improved player retention and academic eligibility.

Carl DuBois, Baton Rouge Advocate: Three Louisiana State players have been dismissed from the team.

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Join Our International Radio Audience

It has been so busy this week that we almost forgot to plug the radio show. Yes, tune in Friday night/Saturday morning to "Sports Overnight America" on the Sports Byline USA Radio Network beginning at 11:40 (Pacific). Honestly, there's nothing else to do at that hour except drink or sleep, and where do those activities take you? One is expensive and gives you a hangover and the other is simply boring, so you might as well do something constructive with that time and listen to the show. Give us a call at 800-878-7529.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Billy Sims Has Longhorns in Bowl Game

Oklahoma fans can now take aim at their rivals from Texas in a unique way. The men's room at Billy Sims Barbecue in Tulsa features a toilet with an upside-down Longhorn in the bowl.

Sims, who won the Heisman in 1978 for Oklahoma, is part-owner of the business, and it appears to be gaining popularity in the Sooner State, with new locations springing up in Edmond and Broken Arrow.

Sims' jabs at the Longhorns go beyond the men's room. The menu features a Bevo Plate (beef brisket that comes chopped or sliced) and the Texas Dog (Polish sausage).

You can also order the Smoked Jayhawk (chicken breast), Mini-Huskers (corn on the cob), Pulled Razorback (pork) and the Arkansas Steak (bologna).

Keith of Sooner Stats, who sent us this gem, informs us that Sims recently became Oklahoma's career rushing leader. How can this be? He says Oklahoma officials recently went back and recalculated all the rushing totals to include bowl games, and this allowed Sims to pass Joe Washington.

Mustain Is Set to Transfer to USC

Former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain, the 2005 prep player of the year, is set to transfer to USC, according to the L.A. Times. Mustain will join former Razorback receiver Damian Williams, who transferred to USC in January. Mustain and Williams, who also were teammates at Springdale High, will be eligible in 2008.

Mustain's transfer to USC had been expected since he visited USC in February. He returned earlier this month for the Trojans' spring game and the only other team under consideration was Tulsa, where Mustain's high school coach, Gus Malzahn, is now offensive coordinator. Malzahn was offensive coordinator last season at Arkansas.

In the top video, Mustain leads the Razorbacks to a touchdown in his first drive as a college quarterback, oddly enough against USC. Included in the drive is a 42-yard pass to Williams.

In the bottom video, Mustain draws high praise from former USC quarterback Matt Leinart during an event last summer in Los Angeles.

Leinart, by the way, has a court appearance in Scottsdale later this month. The Arizona Cardinal quarterback is facing arraignments on three speeding violations. Leinart has been clocked speeding four times in less than a year.

Big 12 Coaches Ticked Off About Kickoffs

Expect scoring to increase this fall because kickoffs are being moved back to the 30-yard line from the 35. Although this is good news for fans, Big 12 coaches are screaming about the rule change.

The only Big 12 coach happy with the change is Kansas State's Ron Prince, and for good reason. His Wildcats led the nation in kickoff returns last season, averaging 27.1 yards in 36 returns. "We thought that was one [rule change] that might be made, so we've been practicing with the ball on the 30 all this spring," Prince said.

But Texas' Mack Brown said the rule has the potential "to change college football as much as any rule in a long time."

"You kick a ball into the wind, the guy might catch it at the 20, and you’re starting on offense at the 40 or 50," Brown said. "It's even more important now to find that kicker with a dynamic leg."

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is worried about injuries. "They’re the highest-impact plays, and that's the only part that worries me. You always worry about the injuries."

Said Iowa State's Gene Chizik, a former defensive coordinator at Texas: "From a defensive guy standpoint, I really don’t like it. But I’m sure it’s all in an effort to make the game more exciting. There’ll be less touchbacks and more returns, which I’m sure was part of the reasoning."

Photo from Kansas State Collegian.

Reporters' Notebooks

Associated Press: Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is still smoldering that his 12-1 team was left out of the Bowl Championship Series and that Notre Dame was included.

Robin Erb, Toledo Blade: Is the government's points-shaving case against a Toledo player crumbling?

Joey Johnston, Tampa Tribune: The springtime football fix. An early look at a top 10, key early games and a Heisman dozen.

Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press: Michigan may be getting a new $26.1 million indoor practice facility.

Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review: Ron Zook is loading up Illinois with talent. One look at Arrelious Benn tells you better days are ahead for the Fighting Illini.

Wendell Barnhouse, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: A Southeastern Conference spring football wrapup.

Michael DiRocco, Florida Times-Union: Who is on the hot seat among SEC coaches? Try Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer.

Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel: Will Central Florida have its new 45,000-seat stadium finished for its Sept. 15 opener against Texas?

Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Advertiser: Not every situation can be resolved with a completed pass. Hawaii, which punted only 16 times in 14 games last season, is adding a punter to its roster.

Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman: After a big bowl win, a big increase in ticket prices at Boise State.

Barry Witt and Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News: Deep divisions have opened between developer Lew Wolff and San Jose State over a deal to rebuild the team's stadium.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Now It's the Head Hog's Turn to Talk

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt finally broke his silence regarding his relationship with a Fort Smith news anchor, saying in a statement posted on the Razorback website that "speculation and rumors that I have had an inappropriate relationship with Donna Bragg are unfounded and false."

The carefully crafted statement is the latest in a series of denials from the Nutt camp and came a day after the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that former quarterback Mitch Mustain was among those filing Freedom of Information requests seeking cell-phone and office-phone records for Nutt.

Bragg, who is divorced, denied any inappropriate relationship with Nutt in an interview with the Democrat-Gazette. Nutt's wife, Diana, issued a statement last week supporting her husband.

In his statement, Nutt addressed the 1,063 text messages and 25 phone calls between himself and Bragg from Nov. 30 through Jan. 11. One of the text messages came 19 minutes before kickoff of the Capital One Bowl, which the Razorbacks lost, 17-14, to Wisconsin.

"My communications with Ms. Bragg have concerned her work as a professional fundraiser for a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services to the developmentally disabled, her insights regarding the media, words of condolence and support regarding the loss of my mother-in-law after her battle with cancer, and information relating to her close friend who was diagnosed with cancer. I have learned a valuable lesson through this experience: for some individuals, misguided perceptions are more important than the facts."

Nutt also said he was not seeking employment elsewhere when made calls that appeared to be related to openings at North Carolina and Miami.

"It also is important that all Razorback fans know that I did not seek the coaching positions indicated in recent media reports and remain deeply committed to the University of Arkansas. It is true that many coaches receive inquiries throughout the year and inquiries have come to me in recent months without solicitation on my part."

NCAA Lacks Text Appeal

The NCAA, unable to get a grip on technology, is about to ban text messaging in college recruiting. Yes, kids do get pestered to death with text messages and there have been complaints about costs by the end user, i.e. the so-called future "student-athlete."

But Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline actually did some research into this cost thing and get this: Many cell phone providers, no matter what package you purchase, offer unlimited text messaging for an extra $20 a month. That comes to 67 cents a day! Granted, times are tough, but if you can't afford the extra 67 cents each day, you probably shouldn't have a cell phone in the first place.

The truth is that the change in rules has more to do with the NCAA's inability to keep pace with technology. Ever go looking for something on the governing body's website? Simply put, it's a mess. And without a doubt, the best site for college football statistics is not the NCAA, it's

The easy way out for the NCAA is to outlaw text messaging altogether. The new rules will limit electronically transmitted correspondence to recruits to e-mail and faxes. Yes, faxes. That is mid-1970s technology.

We will miss text messaging. Nothing released the inner scumbag quite like it. For example, there was the case of Notre Dame assistant Peter Vaas, who continued to pepper recruit Arrelious Benn with text messages after Benn committed to Illinois. Benn then supplied some of the messages to the Washington Post. Vaas is no longer employed by Notre Dame.

And who could forget Jeb Bush taking time out from his duties as governor of Florida to text message then-New Jersey prep Myron Rolle. It worked. Rolle is now a Seminole.

Text messaging, we hardly knew ya!