Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Sharp Downturn in Bowl Viewership

The stated goal of the Bowl Championship Series is "to match the two top-rated teams in a national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups between eight other highly regarded teams in four other games."

But the BCS fell far short of that goal this past postseason, with a sharp decline in viewership of four of its five games, according to Nielsen Media Research. The BCS was not alone as viewership of all bowl games took a significant pounding.

BCS games held down five of the top six spots of most-watched postseason games, but only the Orange Bowl saw a slight increase (6%) in viewership. The declines were dramatic, with the Sugar Bowl experiencing a drop of 25%, followed by the Rose (20%), BCS title (17%) and Fiesta (8%).

Viewership of all bowls declined by 12% with a 3.6 average rating, the lowest in the 10-year history of the BCS, according to Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News.

We've charted all the data for careful examination. To get a closer look, click a chart to enlarge it.
This chart shows the 2007 ratings for each of the 32 games. The Insight and Texas bowls — games with the lowest viewership — were broadcast by the NFL Network, which has a limited subscriber base.
Here's a look at the 2006 ratings, when the BCS lineup held down the top five spots. The Alamo Bowl between Texas and Iowa clocked a 6.0 to become the most-watched bowl game ever on ESPN.
Here's a look at the difference in percentage from 2006 to 2007. As you can see, 21 of the 32 games had lower ratings in 2007, with many of the ratings being significantly lower. The biggest loser was the Texas Bowl between Texas Christian and Houston. The biggest winner was the Capital One between Michigan and Florida.
The Southeastern Conference had the most total viewers. It also had the most teams in postseason play with nine. The number of teams each league had in postseason play are in parenthesis.
Games involving Big Ten teams earned the highest average rating. These figures were calculated by adding the ratings for games involving teams from each league and then dividing by the number of teams in postseason play. An example would be the previously mentioned Capital One, which had a rating of 9.1. The Big Ten would get a 9.1 (as would the SEC). The eight games involving Big Ten teams totaled 45.7, making the average viewership 5.7.

As reference, here are the bowl game matchups and broadcasting partner.

BCS Title: Louisiana State-Ohio State (Fox)
Rose: USC-Illinois (ABC)
Capital One: Michigan-Florida (ABC)
Fiesta: West Virginia-Oklahoma (Fox)
Orange: Kansas-Virginia Tech (Fox)
Sugar: Georgia-Hawaii (Fox)

Chick-fil-A: Auburn-Clemson (ESPN)
Holiday: Texas-Arizona State (ESPN)
Cotton: Missouri-Arkansas (Fox)
Liberty: Mississippi State-Central Florida (ESPN)
Music City: Kentucky-Florida State (ESPN)
Champs Sports: Boston College-Michigan State (ESPN)
Meineke Car Care: Wake Forest-Connecticut (ESPN)

Emerald: Oregon State-Maryland (ESPN)
Outback: Tennessee-Wisconsin (ESPN)
Gator: Texas Tech-Virginia (CBS)
Alamo: Penn State-Texas A&M (ESPN)
Motor City: Purdue-Central Michigan (ESPN)
Sun: Oregon-South Florida (CBS)
Las Vegas: Brigham Young-UCLA (ESPN) Cincinnati-Southern Mississippi (ESPN2)
Armed Forces: California-Air Force (ESPN)
Poinsettia: Utah-Navy (ESPN)
New Mexico: New Mexico-Nevada (ESPN)
Independence: Alabama-Colorado (ESPN)
New Orleans: Florida Atlantic-Memphis (ESPN2)
International: Rutgers-Ball State (ESPN2)

Hawaii: East Carolina-Boise State (ESPN)
GMAC: Tulsa-Bowling Green (ESPN)
Humanitarian: Fresno State-Georgia Tech (ESPN2)
Insight: Oklahoma State-Indiana (NFL Network)
Texas: Texas Christian-Houston (NFL Network)
Source: Nielsen Media Research

Something to Help You Get Through the Day

We have Jim Davidson of the OZone to thank for this. There are many more shots Erin Andrews from the Ohio State-Penn State basketball game on Tuesday night in State College. To see the gallery, click here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The People vs. Urban Meyer

While Florida continues to "investigate" possible recruiting violations by Urban Meyer, we bring you this video from the MySpace page, The People vs. Urban Meyer.

This is good stuff, with Jimmy Johnson telling the story about Meyer's phone skills (more violations?) on national TV during the Bowl Championship Series title game.

Johnson on Meyer: "I had to drag him through the stands. He was there on the telephone talking to these recruits saying, 'Come with me to the championship game next year. We're going to be here next year.' "

Chris Rose then chimes in, "But it's a dead period in recruiting right now. ..."

Johnson (no stranger to playing loose and free with the rules): "He can make one phone call a week. He told me that."

Glad we got that straightened out. ...

Meyer's top-rated recruit of 2007, defensive tackle Torrey Davis, received a citation from Gainesville police Jan. 19 after he was spotted drinking an alcoholic beverage at a downtown nightclub. He is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 7.

An expected 2008 recruit, Chaz Sutton, who committed to Florida in July, had his scholarship offer pulled Monday by the Gators. Florida was concerned that Sutton would not meet academic requirements. South Carolina and Clemson wasted little time in getting in contact with Sutton.

It's Bedlam in Oklahoma

The majority of Oklahoma fans wanting a ticket to the Sooners' game at rival Oklahoma State this fall are going to have to pay and pay dearly.

Oklahoma State officials announced they won't be sell individual tickets to the Nov. 29 Bedlam game outside of the normal 5,000 tickets allotted to the Sooner fans. To get in, fans will have to buy a season ticket to see the Cowboys, a cost of $294 for a seat in the west end zone. A seat along the sidelines increases to $419.

This was a plan hatched last year by Iowa State for its game against rival Iowa. It helped boost Cyclone season-ticket sales nearly 20%.

"When you saw what happened there, you think, 'Maybe that's something we should consider,' " Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder said.

As expected, the announcement has created a state of Bedlam.

Thanks to Image of Sport.

Now They Want to Charge Rich Rod Interest

Michigan's Rich Rodriguez received a new perk: A $1.5 million line of credit (reportedly at no interest) from the bank founded by his boss, athletic director Bill Martin. Rich Rod then turned and offered the check to his former employer, West Virginia, with a catch: Sign and cash the check and the monthlong contract dispute is over.

West Virginia's response: No deal. Mountaineer officials say Rich Rod's offer is $2.5 million short — and growing. The university says it wants to add $4,000 in daily interest on the $4 million the coach owes for breaking his contract, although there is an argument that figure should be a more reasonable $904.11 a day. Still ...

"The amount owed by Mr. Rodriguez under the terms of the contract in effect at the time of his resignation is $4 million," West Virginia attorney Jeff Wakefield said. He added that the sides are not engaged in settlement talks. Rich Rod has until Feb. 4 to respond to West Virginia's lawsuit.

A lot of posturing going on, including West Virginia shipping off a check last week for $287,000 that covered owed bonuses and incentives to Rich Rod. This could get even uglier.

Reporters' Notebooks

Mark Alesia, Indianapolis Star: The NCAA has agreed to a $218 million fund for athletes over six years and to allow schools to give athletes year-round health insurance as part of a settlement of an antitrust suit.

Nick Perry and Ken Armstrong, Seattle Times: Some players on Washington's 2000 team took academics seriously. Others did not. "I was a football major," offensive lineman Rock Nelson says. "Class was not important to me."

Matthew Futterman, Newark Star-Ledger: Rutgers officials have approved a controversial plan to start a $102-million stadium expansion before securing all the money needed to complete it.

FanBlogs: Which teams have the most returning starters for 2008? Here's a look.

Ron Maly: Alleged quotes from gridiron giants of the past and present. Our favorite, from Alex Karras: "I never graduated from Iowa, but I was only there for two terms — Truman's and Eisenhower's."

Maya Srikrishnan, Daily Texan: Texas coach Mack Brown made his first appearance at a Faculty Council meeting, answering questions about the football team's 42% graduation rate, the lowest in the Big 12. Thanks to Ben Maller.

Brian Dohn, L.A. Daily News: UCLA got a commitment from junior college quarterback Kevin Craft. Another quarterback, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, is transferring to Sacramento State.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: "Coach in waiting." It's the latest fad in college athletics. And it's too bad.

Chadd Cripe and Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman: Boise State receiver Jeremy Childs has been suspended from school for this semester because of plagiarism, but could return this summer for his junior year, according to his brother.

Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Michigan's Rich Rodriguez will be in the stands to watch Terrelle Pryor play basketball Saturday night in what is expected to be the last recruiting pitches the coaches can make for the hotshot prep quarterback.

Jake Trotter, Oklahoman: The NCAA has granted Oklahoma defensive end John Williams a sixth season of eligibility.

Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star: Tony Temple, who ran for 281 yards and four touchdowns in Missouri's Cotton Bowl victory over Arkansas, has dropped an appeal for another year of college eligibility and will enter the NFL draft.

Bill Koch, Cincinnati Enquirer: Details of Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly's new contract were released. He gets a bump in pay from $800,000 to $1.2 million.

J. Brady McCollough, Kansas City Star: Kansas coach Mark Mangino reportedly was out of the hospital and back at work on Tuesday.

Doug Segrest and Daniel Blank, Birmingham News: The son of Major Ogilvie, an All-Southeastern Conference running back who played on two Alabama national championship teams, plans to follow his father's footsteps as a walk-on at Tuscaloosa.

Julie Straw, WLBT: Jared Foster, a quarterback who enrolled at Mississippi earlier this month, was arrested and charged with selling steroids. He was dismissed from the team. Thanks to EDSBS.

Bryan Strickland, Durham Herald-Sun: David Cutcliffe must be turning it around at Duke. Receivers Eron Riley and Austin Kelly face misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident late Friday night.

Bryan Mullen, Tennessean: A police probe has cleared Tennessee offensive lineman Anthony Parker of a misdemeanor charge.

Seattle Times: Washington State starting defensive tackle A'I Ahmu was arrested and ticketed for a misdemeanor alcohol offense Saturday night on campus, according to Pullman police.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not. Here is today's mystery link. Thanks to Jon!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

West Virginia Still Hates Michigan

While Michigan fans appear to have already moved on, that's not the case in West Virginia. The Wheeling Nailers, the "AA" affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, announced that Saturday will be "Shred Rich Rodriguez Night" when the dreaded Charlotte Checkers roll into WesBanco Arena.

They drop the puck at 7:35 p.m.

Anyone whose name is Rich Rodriguez gets in free. Fans bringing in articles about Rodriguez to get shredded will get in for a discounted rate. Any fan caught wearing University of Michigan apparel will be charged double in order to help Rodriguez pay his $4 million buyout to West Virginia.

"Everybody is so upset," Nailers co-president Rob Brooks said. "We wanted to let [fans] release some frustration, and we'll release some frustration of our own."

The Nailers are not alone in trying to capitalize on the Rich Rod mess. A resolution introduced by West Virginia Congressman Alan Mollohan to honor the Mountaineer football team passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While Mollohan has virtually reassured re-election for life in his home state, don't lawmakers have more important matters to deal with? John Bresnahan of the Politico says this was a waste of time:

"The assertion in the resolution that the WVU had to 'overcome adversity' to win the Fiesta Bowl doesn't really make it for me.

"As one Crypt colleague pointed out, if there was one team that really overcame some adversity this year, it was the Virginia Tech Hokies, whose campus saw the horrific murder of 32 students and teachers in April 2007. Virginia Tech came back and almost won the national championship this season. West Virginia, meanwhile, choked horribly in a Dec. 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers. which cost the Mountaineers a chance to play for a national championship. Not good."

Finally, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports ranks the 18 coaching hires. No. 1 is Michigan's hiring of Rich Rodriguez. No. 18? West Virginia's hiring of Bill Stewart.

Writes Dodd: "Stewart seems to be a nice guy but we know absolutely nothing about him as a head coach despite the Fiesta Bowl. Let's judge him in five years and see if he can deliver four Big East titles and two BCS bowl teams — like Rodriguez did."

Thanks to the Midwest Correspondent.

Pryor No Shoe-In at Oregon

What does Oregon do with all that Nike money? Here's a quick tour of the Duck facilities in the Casanova Center at Autzen Stadium from Dennis Dixon.

It appears hotshot recruit Terrelle Pryor might have scratched Oregon off his list. He did not take a scheduled trip Monday to Eugene. Thanks to Losers With Socks.

Reporters' Notebooks

Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry, Seattle Times: The paper continues its fantastic series on the 2000 Washington Huskies. To Washington fans, Curtis Williams was a tragic hero. To the courts, he was a wanted felon. Link to series.

Rick Plumlee, Wichita Eagle: Kansas' Mark Mangino, 51, was expected to be released from the intensive care unit at Lawrence Memorial Hospital on Tuesday after being admitted Sunday night for undisclosed reasons.

Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star: Larry Smith, 68, who coached at Tulane, Arizona, USC and Missouri during a 24-year career and compiled a 143-126-7 record, died after a long battle with chronic lymphatic leukemia.

Jerry Crowe, Los Angeles Times: Smith, who was fired by USC three days after the Trojans lost to Fresno State in the Freedom Bowl, said of the 1992 loss, "Our guys didn't give a damn about being there."

Steve Bauer, News-Gazette: Erique Robertson, a freshman linebacker at Illinois, was arrested after a gun was fired in front of a bar in Champaign. Thanks to Kevin of We Are Penn State.

Gil Lebreton, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Texas' Mack Brown hasn't spent his offseason watching old Rose Bowl reruns.

Bret Bloomquist, El Paso Times: Appalachian State offensive lineman Kerry Brown is still talking about the victory at Michigan. "We knew we were going to win."

Parsons Real Estate Group: ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit is putting is Columbus-area home on the market. Thanks to EDSBS and TSD Magazine.

With Leather: Photos of Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner allegedly showing off his Demon Deacon have surfaced.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Classless Acts of 2007

If you thought a Classless Act was any type of behavior that could be considered degrading to the game, well, your right.

We're back again with Classless Acts of the 2007 season. None of the Rich Rodriguez-West Virginia content is included because that situation has spilled well into 2008 and will be considered next year.

There are several strong candidates and once again, we've opened this to voting. You get only one vote, so choose carefully. Here we go:

1. Texas A&M and Dennis Franchione: There was a lot that went down in College Station so we decided to group it together. As a season with much promise began to unravel after a 34-17 loss at Miami, word was leaked to the San Antonio Express News that Franchione had been selling a secret email newsletter called VIP Connections to elite boosters for $1,200 a pop. As if he needed the extra coin. He was making $2 million a year to coach the Aggies.

When it became clear he would be fired, Franchione decided to go for two with 4:32 remaining at Nebraska and his team clinging to a 36-14 lead. At the Alamo Bowl, an Aggie yell leader said, "Joe Paterno's on his death bed! And someone needs to find him a casket!" Then a Texas A&M fan, obviously not wanting to wait his turn at the concession stand, was caught on camera digging in his nose and consuming a tasty snack.

2. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: The mother of all tirades: "I'm a man! I'm 40!" Gundy went off on Oklahoman reporter Jenni Carlson for "inaccuracies" in a column about quarterback Bobby Reid, who had been benched in favor of Zac Robinson. In the end, Carlson was proven right, as the coddled Reid expressed his dissatisfaction by transferring to Texas Southern.

To Gundy's credit, the rant sparked his wobbling team, whose 1-2 start included a 41-23 loss on national TV to Troy. The Cowboys went to the Insight Bowl and Gundy got his contract extended by one year. To Carlson's credit, she didn't take her foot off the pedal either, taking Gundy and his staff to task for sending in the offensive starters with five minutes left against Baylor and the Cowboys leading by 31.

3. Mike Leach, Texas Tech: Lost amid Gundy's rant was Leach throwing defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich under the bus after the 49-45 loss to the Cowboys. Setencich "resigned" the next day, but Leach was only warming up.

After a 59-43 loss to Texas, Leach went after the officials (view the two-part YouTube video here and here). Without naming him, Leach noted that referee Randy Christal lives in Austin. "I think it's disturbing that Austin residents are involved in this. People work too hard, too long, there's too much money invested in these games to allow that. Am I condemning the crew? Hell yeah, I'm condemning the crew." Leach was fined $10,000 by the Big 12.

4. Joe Glenn, Wyoming: Glenn started this and gets the blame over Utah's Kyle Whittingham. On the Monday before the teams played, Glenn guaranteed to Cowboy students that his team would win. Whittingham's Utes then poured it on, building a 43-0 lead in the third quarter.

It was at that point that Utah successfully recovered an onside kick that sent Glenn into the stratosphere. Glenn issued a one-finger salute to Whittingham before the Utes finished it up with a 50-0 victory. Glenn was reprimanded by the Mountain West Conference.

5. Joe Paterno, Penn State: Paterno, in a race with Bobby Bowden for most career victories, was in a race to get somewhere on Oct. 5. He was involved in what was described as an incident of road rage, first reported on Blue White Illustrated, the Penn State Rivals board.

As the story goes, the coach was tailgating a couple driving around campus, then: "The driver gets out and starts screaming obscenities at the woman [who was driving], flipping both middle fingers and repeatedly saying 'do you know who I am!' "

It takes four days for the Internet-fueled story to be reported by the mainstream media. Paterno first denies it happened, then says he was doing nothing more than playing traffic cop, which is what you want your then-80-year-old coach doing.

There were other problems, namely Paterno's players getting into fights, further embarrassing the university and quaint berg of State College. (The team's poster schedule actually included the words "Fight On!")

Paterno successfully cleaned up that mess too, ordering his team to clean up the stadium after home games. But that was merely a preemptive strike by the coach to keep university officials from clamping down. After five home games, Paterno told his team that cleanup duty was no longer a Sunday morning requirement.

6. Crewcut Charlie Weis, Notre Dame: How low will the Fighting Irish go under Crewcut Charlie? The fall from grace started on Jan. 3 when the Irish showed little fight in a 41-14 loss to Louisiana State in the Sugar Bowl.

Weis then moved back the start of spring practice so he could squeeze in his gastric bypass malpractice lawsuit. That ended in mistrial so they had to do it all over again in the summer. The jurors barely had time to send for coffee and donuts before denying Weis all of his claims. Weis then said that his celebrity "was certainly used against me in the trial."

In between, Weis denied claims that anything was physically wrong with prized recruit Jimmy Clausen, although it was clear that the quarterback had surgery on this throwing elbow. Notre Dame also kept secret for two months that Clausen had been cited for transporting alcohol as a minor. Defensive lineman Derrell Hand was arrested and jailed after allegedly propositioning a female police officer who was posing as a prostitute.

Then the defections started. Zach Frazier was the first to leave, and fellow quarterback Demetrius Jones, who would start the opener, followed. Weis made the situation worse, denying Jones a release from his scholarship before agreeing to the departure. The Irish looked unprepared and offensively challenged in games. They finished 3-9 and TV ratings were off 40% from 2006 and half of what they were in 2005. Of course, Weis supporters say Tyrone Willingham was to blame for all of this.

7. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: After Dantonio was named coach on Nov. 27, 2006, he installed a clock in the Spartan practice facility that counted down the seconds until the Michigan game. "At least they'll be on time for the game," Michigan left tackle Jake Long remarked.

When the Wolverines lost to Appalachian State, Dantonio asked if there should be a moment of silence. Then it came time to play the game and Dantonio's team came from ahead to lose, 28-24. It was open season for the Wolverines, with running back Mike Hart pouring it on, referring to Michigan State as a "little brother" of Michigan.

Dantonio couldn't take it, saying the Wolverines "need to check themselves sometimes." He also said, "if they want to mock us all they want to mock us, I'm telling them, it's not over." Hey coach, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

8. Mark Richt, Georgia: After the Bulldogs scored first against Florida, Richt's troops went running onto the field to celebrate, resulting in two 15-yard penalties.

Nearly every commentator and columnist applauded the move, but consider this: The play was reviewed and had it been ruled that Georgia did not score, the Bulldogs would have been pushed back to the 31-yard line, possibly changing the dynamics of the game. Under any scenario, this was a bush league move.

9. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: Navy coach Paul Johnson reportedly was upset when Schiano kept star running back Ray Rice in the game with 2:17 to play and the Scarlet Knights leading, 34-17. Rice, of course, made it worse by scoring a touchdown. Then Rutgers' fans piled on, showering the Midshipmen players, fans and families with obscenities.

The next week, Rutgers called three timeouts in the final 2:03 of the first half while holding a 45-0 lead against Norfolk State. "Forty-five-zip and you're calling three timeouts at the end?" Spartan coach Pete Adrian said. "Hey, if that turns you on, it's fine."

Neuheisel's Out of Control Huskies

A gripping series of investigative stories this week by the Seattle Times, detailing Washington's 2000 team, winners of the Rose Bowl, owners of an 11-1 record and ranked No. 3 in the nation.

This is an unprecedented look behind the scenes — based largely on documents unavailable at the time — that reveals a disturbing level of criminal conduct and hooliganism by the players and questionable moves and motives of police and the legal system. Among the findings:
  • A safety who reportedly had cut his wife's face, broken her arm and nose. He started the opener wanted on an oustanding warrant.
  • A tight end under investigation on suspicion of rape.
  • A linebacker under investigation for robbing and shooting a drug dealer. Police didn't charge him until after the season was over.

At least 12 members of the team were arrested or charged with a crime that carried possible jail time. At least 12 others got in trouble with the law in other seasons.

Yes, Rick Neuheisel was the coach, and he did little or nothing when it came time to discipline players.

Beat reporter Bob Condotta also writes about the series and readers are posting comments, many of which are critical of the timing of the series.

As they say, don't kill the messenger. ...

Thanks to Conquest Chronicles.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

In Memory of Steve Grayson

A great person and one of the best photographers ever. Committed to the craft, he was fearless in the field, yet sensitive to those around him. Steve was based in L.A. and was part of local history, closing the Herald Examiner before shooting sports for Wire Image and other clients. He was planning to teach and give back to the community. Steve died last week of an apparent heart attack. You'll be missed, my friend.

As posted in comments, there is also a message thread at Sports Shooter.

Reporters' Notebooks

Dan Galindo, Winston-Salem Journal: Luke Caparelli, a reserve running back at Wake Forest, is no longer enrolled at the university after he posted a note on his Facebook page saying that he threatened to "blow up the campus." The note, written in the third person, also included the threat, “for those left standing he will have an Uzi locked and loaded in his bag.”

Richard Justice, Houston Chronicle: It's a common theme in college sports these days. If you need a friend, get a dog.

Bryan Mullen, Tennessean: Tennessee's rough start to 2008 continued when All-Southeastern Conference offensive lineman Anthony Parker was arrested early Saturday and charged with disorderly conduct.

Todd Wills, Dallas Morning News: Former San Diego State quarterback Kevin Craft, who spent last season at Mount San Antonio Junior College, could be bound for Southern Methodist.

Waco Tribune-Herald: The top 100 high school recruits in Texas and where they are headed for college.

Jake Trotter and Mike Baldwin, Oklahoman: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State officials discuss the policies in place to evaluate the character of prospective student-athletes.

George Hostetter, Fresno Bee: Money trouble for Fresno State's main sports booster group and a possible student backlash are adding new challenges to the university's efforts to retool its athletic department.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Illinois' New Fundraising Effort Pays Off

An Illinois judge was a big winner when it came to reselling tickets to Rose Bowl, using the special access to tickets he has as a major booster to resell at least 60 tickets at a substantial profit, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Moultrie County Circuit Judge Dan L. Flannell is also president of the Sullivan Illini Quarterback Club, which donated $22,000 to the Illinois athletic department last year.

There is a circular nature to the arrangement: The more the club profits from its ticket sales, the larger its donations, which in turn gives it greater access to more and better tickets. By spreading its donations among several accounts, the club was able to buy 26 Rose Bowl tickets when the individual account maximum was eight.

"Is this the way the University of Illinois wishes to raise money? That just blows me away," said Tony Lawson, a longtime fan who lives in Phoenix. "[The club] has found a way to manipulate and circumvent the system to their benefit."

Flannell did much of his dealing online. According to eBay listings, he sold tickets to the game for as much as $340 more than their $135 face value.

Although Flannell denies any wrongdoing, he could be in violation of an Illinois Supreme Court rule that says judges should not allow their names to be used to solicit funds for a civic or charitable organization, according to Steven Lubet, a legal ethics professor at Northwestern.

"Being president of the club that's only function is raising money would very likely involve soliciting," Lubet said.

Networking Sites Are New Recruiting Tool

Welcome to the newest way for fans to become unofficial football recruiters. Social networking sites Facebook and MySpace have become a hotbed for fans to connect to prospects and — in some cases — put them down.

Nebraska recruit Will Compton told the Daily Nebraskan that about every fourth message on his Facebook wall is from a fan of a team recruiting him. In some cases, a fan from a rival team will leave a mean-spirited message.

"It gets annoying sometimes," Compton said. "People forget that I'm a person, too, and not just a football player. I have other things going on in my life other than football."

There are even organized efforts among online recruiters. At least a dozen Facebook and MySpace profiles set up for each major college team and have disclaimers stating they have no affiliation with the team they are promoting.

Thanks to UWire.

Real Men of Genius, Alabama Style

Yet another spoof of the Budweiser advertising campaign. Thanks to Losers With Socks!

Reporters' Notebooks

Fred Girard, Detroit News: In a Jan. 10 letter of resignation, Rich Rodriguez says he agreed to a $4 million penalty clause in his contract with West Virginia only because the school's new president, Mike Garrison, promised him the clause would be at least halved, if not cut completely. Text of the letter.

Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press: At this point, Michigan and Rich Rod would be wise to find an end to the squabble with West Virginia.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: It has been 25 years since Bear Bryant died. Will Alabama ever escape the long shadow of Bryant? The question ought to be why would Alabama want to?

Joseph Person, Columbia State: South Carolina's Steve Spurrier reminded his team to use caution on mopeds after two players were involved in separate scooter accidents in a six-day span.

Craig Barners, South Florida Sun-Sentinel: A flag football game between Miami Dolphin legends and Miami Hurricane legends will highlight events scheduled as an official farewell to the Orange Bowl this weekend.

Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer: Three Penn State players who were suspended for the final two games of the season for their alleged connection to a campus fight in October have been "excused" from the team.

National Football Foundation: An exhaustive listing of viewership, attendance and trivia about the bowl season. Thanks to Get The Picture!

Lawrence Journal-World: Kansas, coming off a 12-1 season, is raising ticket prices.

Chip Scoggins, Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Another team is trying to cash in on signing day. Minnesota will charge $10 for its event.

Glenn Guilbeau, Shreveport Times: Hotshot prep recruit Terrelle Pryor has canceled a scheduled recruiting visit to Louisiana State.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not. Here is today's must-see mystery link.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cushing's Gay Infatuation?

Thanks to Boi From Troy, we have this picture of USC linebacker Brian Cushing from his 19th birthday celebration.

Cushing is finally of legal drinking age, having turned 21 this week. As Boi points out, Cushing can finally raise a toast to his Rose Bowl defensive MVP award.

Another bit of interesting news from USC. Defensive back Mozique McCurtis, who was victimized by Stanford receiver Mark Bradford for the winning touchdown reception in the Cardinals' 24-23 victory over the Trojans, reportedly is no longer a member of the team.

The Los Angeles Times reports that McCurtis, who has a year of eligibility remaining, will not play next season so he can prepare to pursue admission to law school.

Tough business, this college football. ...

Coming Monday to the Wiz ...

Really, no explanation is needed....

Reporters' Notebooks

Dave Hickman, Charleston Gazette: Rich Rodriguez "has been outed as one of the most self-absorbed malcontents who ever blew a whistle."

Joe Johnson, Athens Banner-Herald: Former Georgia quarterback Mike Usry, now a landlord, faces charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct after he tried to evict a family from a house over late rent.

Carter Strickland, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Is Georgia the team to beat? The Bulldogs are not shying from title talk.

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: San Diego State is facing more scholarship reductions because of a poor Academic Progress Rate.

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: For South Florida, is $1 million worth not getting a return game from Notre Dame?

Chris McGann, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: A University of Washington plan to use $150 million in public funds to help renovate Husky Stadium has crashed hard.

Kansas City Star: As part of Kansas State’s spring football weekend, the Goo Goo Dolls will perform at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the night before the spring game.

Detroit Free Press: ESPN analyst and Ohio State alum Kirk Herbstreit: "I think it's a six-win season for Michigan next year, I really do."

David Whitley, Orlando Sentinel: How good of a season did Reggie Bush have in 2005? Tarnished Heisman author Don Yaeger: "Reggie Bush made more money that year than June Jones did coaching Hawaii."

Chip Brown, Dallas Morning News: Does Major Applewhite's arrival in Austin mean Chris Simms' homecoming must wait?

Joseph Person, Columbia State: Steve Spurrier, who lost defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after only 17 days, hired Arkansas' Ellis Johnson, who begins work for his third Southeastern Conference team in 26 days.

Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News: A Brazos County grand jury has indicted Texas A&M players Yemi Babalola and Brandon Joiner. The men are charged with two counts of aggravated robbery.

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It's a Man's World

We once again venture down the slippery slope of an off-topic post. In the most unusual yet beautiful and electric duet, we bring you James Brown and Luciano Pavarotti in a benefit for Angola on May 28, 2002, in Modena, Italy. Bravo, and thanks to our bud Andy!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tebow Possibly Implicated in Moore Mess

Urban Meyer's recruitment of junior college receiver Carl Moore — already under investigation by Florida officials for possible NCAA rules violations — might involve Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as a participant in additional violations.

The new allegation surfaced from a Dec. 18 story in the Sacramento Bee. The story details how Meyer, who was with Tebow for the Dec. 8 Heisman presentation in New York, called Moore shortly after Tebow was presented the award. According to the story by Joe Davidson, "Florida coach Urban Meyer placed the call and then placed the device in the hands of Tebow."

Tebow reportedly told Moore: "Carl!, I just won the Heisman! Come on down here, and let's win a national championship!"

NCAA rules state that a coach is not to make a call and then let another of his student-athletes talk to a recruit.

To this point, the investigation into the recruitment of Moore had centered on Meyer's involvement with Moore's girlfriend, Maranda Smith. From published accounts, Meyer had recruited Smith for the Gator gymnastics team in hopes of securing Moore. Under NCAA rules, this is forbidden because a football coach cannot recruit for another sport.

In a Gainesville Sun story last week headlined, "UF notebook: Gymnastics gets recruiting assist from Meyer," Smith said she "used to talk to [Meyer] every day back in November when he was recruiting Carl."

But Smith was telling a different story on Wednesday. This account from the Miami Herald's website:

" '[Meyer] never called me personally,' Smith said. 'Carl sometimes didn't have his phone or his phone would get cut off. So, he had given Coach Meyer my number and [Moore told Meyer], "If you call my number and I don't answer or it goes to voice mail, call Maranda because I'll be with her more than likely," and that's how he got a hold of Carl.' "

"Smith said on Wednesday that she 'never talked to Coach Meyer about life or anything for more than two seconds.' Smith said that Meyer would call her and then ask to speak with Moore."

Meyer was not available for comment and said to be recruiting, but the Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday that Meyer had "met last week with Jamie McCloskey, UF's senior associate athletics director for compliance. The coach emerged from that meeting thinking he had committed no NCAA recruiting violations.

" 'No problems with that,' Meyer said. 'We're fine.' "

On Wednesday, the Sentinel reported that was not the case, this time quoting McCloskey:

"We are in information-gathering mode," McCloskey said. "And we're going to see where that takes us."

Did Meyer really believe he was in the clear when he talked to the Sentinel, or did he merely hope that the issue would go away?

Back to the Meyer/Tebow call to Moore. Here are the specific rules in question regarding that call:

NCAA rule "Enrolled student-athletes or other enrolled students shall not make or participate in telephone calls to prospective student-athletes at the direction of a coaching staff member or financed by the institution or a representative of its athletics interest."

NCAA rule (b): "It is permissible for an enrolled student-athlete to receive [not make] telephone calls made at the expense of a prospective student-athlete after July 1 following the completion of the prospective student-athlete’s junior year in high school. Telephone calls made by enrolled students (excluding student-athletes) pursuant to an institution’s regular admissions program directed at all prospective students shall be permissible."

Our continued thanks to State of Miami.

What Happens Before the Game?

Here are two videos giving a behind-the-scenes look at USC's Pete Carroll before the Rose Bowl. USC Rips It, a site operated by school's football office, put the videos together. They are trailers for a DVD incorporating all segments of the game that officials are planning to sell. Thanks to All Things Trojan.

Update: The videos have been pulled from YouTube and, according to All Things Trojan, are now viewable at USC We're still looking for a direct link.

Update II: Embeding has been disabled. Here are the direct links for the top video and bottom video.

Emails Appear to Back Rich Rod's Claim

A gradual disintegration of the relationship between Rich Rodriguez and West Virginia officials is documented in a series of emails obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The emails, written over a five-month period, would appear to strengthen Rodriguez's claim that promises made to him were broken. Rodriguez is using this as a cornerstone of his argument to get out of a $4 million buyout clause in his contract.

The emails also contain complaints by Mike Brown, Rodriguez's agent, that Gov. Joe Manchin was interfering with the program. Manchin denies the claims. The AP released chronological excerpts of key exchanges between the parties at the center of the dispute.

Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail also reported that West Virginia athletic department officials used money from a WVU Foundation account set aside for football recruiting expenses to manage other costs in the athletic department.

Although officials say they did nothing wrong, Rodriguez reportedly was frustrated at the way the account was used.

Daily Mail columnist Jack Bogaczyk writes that West Virginia officials owe donors to the foundation the real story.

'The Beast' Is Coming Home

Bob "The Beast" Sapp arrived on the University of Washington campus in 1992 as defensive lineman. He switched to offense his second year and eventually became a third-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 1997.

The 6-foot-4, 368-pound Sapp bounced around the NFL and was cut by four teams, tried his hand at the minor league professional wrestling circuit and eventually went to Japan in 2001 after being recruited by K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii. The YouTube clip is from an event at the Bellagio in 2003, where Sapp, ever the salesman, called out Mike Tyson.

He left K-1 in 2005, appeared in several films, including a remake of "The Longest Yard," and has since returned to Mixed Martial Arts. Sapp, who estimates that he has endorsed more than 400 products (mainly in Japan) and made $7 million in his career, is back in the Great Northwest to promote an upcoming event he will participate in at the Tacoma Dome.

Reporters' Notebooks

Michael Rothstein, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: The playing career of Notre Dame junior defensive lineman Derrell Hand, who was arrested and jailed last summer after allegedly propositioning a female police officer who was posing as a prostitute, could be over.

Dave Matter, Columbia Tribune: A look at how the 2007 All-Big 12 team was ranked as prep recruits on Rivals' five-star scoring system.

Derek Redd, Palm Beach Post: Florida State is raising prices for football tickets, but only by $1.

Robbie Andreu, Gainesville Sun: A message to Louisiana State pledge Patrick Johnson: Don't be a punk.

Suzanne Halliburton, Austin American-Statesman: Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis is getting a $74,000 boost in pay so his salary ($425,000) will match that of new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not. Here is today's mystery link. Thanks to Houston.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pryormania Reaches New Heights

Michigan student Christopher Breece had his party plans ruined last weekend by the NCAA.

Breece, aware that hotshot quarterback recruit Terrelle Pryor was going to be in Ann Arbor, decided to organize the "Terrelle Pryor Greenwood Block Party," according to the Michigan Daily. He posted word of the event on Facebook and within two days, more than 1,500 people confirmed they would attend.

Then Breece received a voicemail message from an NCAA representative telling him that the party's description violated the organization's policies because students are considered extensions of the university's athletic department. Breece was stunned and sought a second opinion, eventually talking to Michigan officials who told him the same thing: the party, as advertised, should be canceled.

Breece was unable to delete his original listing, so he had to alter it to say the event would be "in support of Michigan football." Word spread quickly and combined with bitter, 10-degree weather, most of those who planned to attend stayed home.

Missouri Bill Targets Kansas Mascot

A Missouri senator has introduced legislation proposing that the state's official game bird be changed from the bobwhite quail to the Kansas Jayhawk, pictured with Fox's Chris Rose earlier this month at the Orange Bowl.

If approved, it would be legal to hunt the Kansas Jayhawk, a mythical creature, in the state of Missouri.

Dan Clemens, a Republican senator from Marshfield and alum of Missouri, says his bill is a satirical way to highlight the Tigers' 36-28 victory over Kansas last fall. Former Jayhawk football coach Don Fambrough does not see the humor in Clemens' bill.

"They're not very nice people to start with," he said. "As long as I've been here, I could tell you a list of things like this they've done over the years."

Fambrough has his own proposal: "I’m going to recommend that our people make the Tiger our most wanted. I have no love for those people."

Thanks to TV Tan Line.

Prejudice Against Overweight Mangino

His trophy case now features the 2007 Big 12 coach of the year award along with eight separate national coach of the year honors. On top of that, he guided a Kansas team that was considered to have second-rate talent to a 12-1 record and a victory in the Orange Bowl.

Yet when opening after opening came up, no one called Mark Mangino. Why? Because he's fat and bald, that's why.

Thor Nystrom, in a column for the Daily Kansan, marvels at what passes the test these days in coaching circles:

"Arkansas hired a con man, who couldn’t even finish the season at his previous job as coach for the Atlanta Falcons (Bobby Petrino). UCLA hired a coach who has had problems follow him at every stop and was essentially blackballed from college since 2002 (Rick Neuheusel).

"West Virginia hired a coach who used the 'n' word when referring to a player at his previous head coaching stop (Bill Stewart). And Michigan hired a guy who promptly shredded documents at his old school and is trying to dodge a contractually obligated $4 million buyout (Rich Rodriguez).

"It’s pathetic. These bastions of higher learning are willing to roll the dice on candidates with character concerns for their head coaching positions but not on men with impeccable character whom the boosters’ wives won’t swoon after."

Thanks to UWire.

Help Save Us

The Wiz is one man's effort to keep a college football world informed. Frankly, it's an impossible task and we need your help. Consider the benefits: Perhaps you'll come across a juicy tidbit about your arch-rival. Rather than keep it to yourself or a few friends on a message board, send it our way. After all, there's no better way destabilize a rival program than to have a bit of embarrassing news broadcast to the world, is there? Send your tips to: dawizofodds (at)

Not So Fast, Gator

It turns out Florida's Urban Meyer is not in the clear over potential recruiting violations. Florida officials now say they are still investigating Meyer's potential secondary violations in his recruitment of junior college receiver Carl Moore and his girlfriend, gymnast Maranda Smith.

Writes Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "Now we know why Urban Meyer is such a great recruiter. Because he doesn't just offer scholarships to players. He apparently offers scholarships to their girlfriends, too."

He goes on to write that if Meyer did break rules, he needs to be punished, even if it's only a light tap on the wrist.

Reporters' Notebooks

Dirk Facer, Deseret Morning News: Details are emerging in the weekend assault on two Utah players. One of the players was stabbed in the ribs and abdomen with a knife. The other was stabbed twice in the back with a screwdriver. A third man, a recruit who plans to sign next month with the Utes, was hit in the right cheek with a hard metal object, believed to be brass knuckles.

Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star: A St. Louis attorney is in a legal battle with Missouri officials over the domain name, which he first registered seven years ago.

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: South Florida is expected to announce that it has scheduled a game at Notre Dame in 2011.

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Breaking down six years of Rivals recruiting rankings. Does signing top-flight players translate to wins and losses?

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: The most successful season in team history helped Hawaii nearly double its pay-per-view proceeds.

Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News: Commitments work both ways as a Texas prep offensive lineman found out when Southern Methodist made a coaching change.

Jeff Darlington, Miami Herald: Former UCLA coach Karl Dorrell is expected to be named receivers coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Irv Moss, Denver Post: Troy Calhoun will be paid $645,899 under terms of his new contract with Air Force. He will get a bonus of $28,000 if his Falcons win the Commander-in-Chief's trophy.

Andrea Cohen, Oklahoman: Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew plead not guilty to felony assault on a police officer.

Daily Camera: Department of Boondoggle: Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn, Louisiana State athletic director Skip Bertman and outgoing Washington athletic director Todd Turner are in Vietnam as part of a Nike-sponsored trip in an effort to combat allegations that the company operates sweatshops overseas.

Tony Phifer, Coloradoan: Another school is going to try and cash in on signing day. Colorado State is going to charge fans up to $27 to hear coach Steve Fairchild give his assessment of his first recruiting class.

Detroit Free Press: Readers submit their best Michigan and Michigan State jokes.

Rivals: A good collection of notebook items from practices leading to the Senior Bowl.

To bypass registration, go to Bug Me Not. Here is today's mystery link.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NCAA Recruiting Violations by Meyer?

Granted, we're not up to speed on every NCAA rule and regulation. Who is? But according to Lya Wodraska of the Salt Lake Tribune, Florida's Urban Meyer appears to have violated a couple of rules in his recruitment of Sierra Community College receiver Carl Moore.

As the story goes, Meyer wasn't having much success convincing Moore to transfer to Florida. Then Meyer learned that Moore's girlfriend, Maranda Smith, had competed for UCLA's gymnastics team in 2006, but quit after an injury.

Meyer went to work, contacting Florida gymnastics coach Rhonda Faehn for help. The Gators had a gymnastics scholarship available. According to the Gainesville Sun, Meyer started calling Smith daily back in November.

"He kept asking how Carl was doing and wanted me to come [to Gainesville] and do gymnastics," Smith said. "It was weird. But I really didn't know anything about college football anyway, so it was like I was talking to any other person. Then I started watching TV and I'd see him and I'd say, 'I just talked to him on the phone an hour ago.' "

Meyer's persistence paid off and Moore and Smith are now Gators. But here's the problem, according to Wodraska:

"First of all, as a football coach, Meyer cannot recruit for another sport. By contacting Smith, he broke the rule that all phone calls must be made by a head coach or one or more assistant coaches who count toward the limits of coaches who can recruit in a sport, which is three in gymnastics. Also, since he was effectively acting as a gymnastics coach, he broke the rule that in gymnastics coaches are allowed to contact recruits only once a week.

"It'll be interesting to see if this article brings any sort of punishment for Meyer and the Florida program. He has been known to stretch rules and recruiting ethics before, with numerous reports of how he still heavily recruited athletes after they'd given other schools oral commitments. I wonder how this is going to play out with the NCAA?"

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida has cleared Meyer of any improper communication with Moore and Smith.

Meyer's desperate need for upperclassmen is clear. Of Ron Zook's last recruiting class (2004) and Meyer's first class (2005), only 13 of the 41 signed players remain on the roster. That includes a backup kicker (Jonathan Phillips) and a tight end (Tate Casey) who may or may not play this season.

A big thanks to Aldo at State of Miami.

Don't Bank on More Rich Rod Commercials

If you're a Michigan fan who dreamed of Rich Rodriguez one day appearing in local commercials as he did in West Virginia, well, it's not going to happen.

Under terms of Rich Rod's six-year deal worth $2.5 annually, Michigan will control all of the coach's commercial endorsement and marketing rights.

Rich Rod was looking out for his assistants. He secured a $1.95-million pool for his nine assistants and strength coach, according to the Detroit Free Press. If our math is correct, that breaks down to an average salary of $195,000 for each.

Now the pressing matter for Rich Rod is finding a quarterback after he ran off Ryan Mallett. They rolled out the red carpet for Terrelle Pryor over the weekend, who came away "impressed," according to the Detroit News.

But not impressed enough to give a commitment to the Wolverines. Pryor, who has already visited Ohio State, says Louisiana State, Oregon and Florida are also on his list. Some tough competition.

Relative calm was reported Monday in West Virginia, Rich Rod's former place of employment. It appears fatigue is starting to set in among the Mountaineers.

Whoa Nellie, It's Keith Jackson

He's 79, gets around on artificial knees and hasn't stepped into a college football stadium since broadcasting the 2006 Bowl Championship Series title game between Texas and USC, but legendary announcer Keith Jackson has no shortage of opinions.

Jackson would not classify the Longhorns' 41-38 victory over the Trojans among the best games he had called during his career. There were too many mistakes, Jackson told the Desert Sun.

"Texas got a free touchdown from the officials when Vince [Young] had a knee down when he pitched it forward and they didn't call it.

"Then the replay dudes down the hall from us, we played back the thing 11 times. They said their TiVo thing wasn't plugged into the right hole and they didn't have the picture. My reaction to that was. 'Why the hell didn't you come down the hall and look at ours?' It was a major decision."

And what about USC?

"There were five plays that were critical plays in the ballgame where Reggie Bush wasn't in the game," Jackson said. "There were little things like that, in hindsight, in perspective of one of the great games, it might scar it a little bit. But for pure, true excitement, it was wonderful. And it goes with that old truth. You'll never know what a 19-year-old is going to do until he's done it."

When it comes to the BCS and the proposed plus-one model, here's what Jackson had to say:

"The BCS goes back to the alliance days which was a power grab and a money grab by certain conferences and it hasn't changed in its intent. To add another game, will it resolve controversy over who's who and what's what? I really truly doubt it. It might clarify it a little bit."

Thanks to College Football Resource.

Is Tarnished Heisman a Tarnished Book?

Marc Isenberg, author of Money Players, is not a fan Don Yaeger's recently released Tarnished Heisman, which examines Reggie Bush and his family's relationship with Michael Michaels and Lloyd Lake and their short-lived sports agency.

Yaeger explained his investigative reporting methodology to All Things Trojan and Isenberg broke it down:

"One, Lloyd Lake, a convicted criminal, was paid by Simon & Schuster for his 'story.' Lake clearly had an axe to grind against Reggie Bush for allegedly taking the money and running to a different sports agency. ... Two, the book relies heavily on secretly taped conversations that took place between Lake and Bush and Lake and Bush's stepfather, LaMar Griffin.

"Yaeger on the tapes: 'Frankly, without the tapes, I don't think you do this book.' Under California Penal Code 632 it is a crime to record a conversation without all other party's consent consent. ... The bottom line is that much of the most salacious information used to bolster claims made in Tarnished Heisman were obtained in violation of the law."