Sports Outside the Beltway

East Carolina hires Jeff Lebo to be its next basketball coach

He replaces Mark McCarthy. From the Charlotte Observer-

East Carolina has turned to former Auburn coach Jeff Lebo to lead its long-struggling men’s basketball program.

The school announced Monday it had hired Lebo to replace Mack McCarthy, who spent three seasons on the sideline for the Pirates before stepping down to take a fundraising job in the school’s athletics department. Lebo had spent the past six seasons at Auburn, going 96-93 overall before he was fired earlier this month.

The 43-year-old coach played at North Carolina under Dean Smith in the late 1980s and had coached at Tennessee Tech and Chattanooga previously.

The school has scheduled a news conference for Lebo on Tuesday.

Lebo inherits a difficult job at East Carolina, a Conference USAb school located in the shadows of instate Atlantic Coast Conference programs Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State.

East Carolina hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1993 and has had only been .500 or better once since then. Lebo faces a next impossible task in turning around the Pirates fortunes.


2010 NFL Draft to include record tying 53 non-seniors

The 2008 NFL Draft also saw the same amount of under classmen. In 2009 the total was 46. From AP-

The expected heavy influx of non-seniors applying for this year’s NFL draft did not happen despite looming labor unrest in the league.

Although a record-tying 53 players declared for early entry, that number released Tuesday by the NFL was short of most projections.

“I think that the colleges have really done a good job of telling these young men how it is to their advantage to stay in school,” said NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt, who helped build the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. “I thought there would be more and I was surprised.”

Six All-Americans did apply for the draft: defensive backs Eric Berry of Tennessee and Joe Haden of Florida; defensive end Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech; tight end Aaron Hernandez of Florida; linebacker Rolando McClain of Alabama; and wide receiver Golden Tate of Notre Dame.

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, also declared for April’s draft, along with Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead; Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen; Southern California running back Joe McKnight; Cal running back Jahvid Best; Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap; and Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman.

Fresno State tailback Ryan Mathews, the nation’s leading rusher, applied. So did tackles Bryan Bulaga of Iowa and Anthony Davis of Rutgers, who are projected to go high in the draft.

I remember when Herschel Walker came out of school(U of Georgia) early and all the controversy it caused. A Herschel Walker today wouldn’t risk a potential big payday in the NFL either.

What I don’t get is how some experts expected the total of non-seniors to be around 100 or a 100% increase from last year. Maybe I’ll find an article that list the college players who stuck it out. A free college education should be valued. One day your sports playing days will end and what will you do for money then? Look at Bernie Kosar who left the University of Miami early for the NFL. Right now he is bankruptcy court.

The entire list of college underclassman declaring for this year’s NFL draft is below the fold.


South Florida to name Skip Holtz to be its next football coach

He replaces the recently fired Jim Leavitt. From ESPN-

Skip Holtz is leaving East Carolina to take over as coach at South Florida.Skip Holtz

Holtz informed the team of his decision in a meeting Thursday afternoon, team spokesman Tom McClellan said.

South Florida fired coach Jim Leavitt earlier this month after a school investigation concluded he grabbed a player by the throat, slapped him in the face, then lied about it. Leavitt denied the allegations and insisted his dismissal was unwarranted.

The 45-year-old Holtz has led East Carolina to two consecutive Conference USA championships and 38 victories in four seasons. He also coached at Connecticut in the 1990s in the years before UConn became a Division I-A (FBS) program.

Unlike Leavitt, Holtz is likely to use SF as a stepping stone towards a more prestigious college football coaching job. There is nothing wrong with ambition as long as 1- The coach is honest about it 2- The University avoids hiring someone who is ambitious and only in the job for themselves. In other words, a coach who will get a university into NCAA trouble then bolt just before sanctions are to be handed down. Someone like John Calipari.


Are you ready for some bowling? II

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this afternoon, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Note- I gave the shortened name version of all the upcoming games. Also I listed what broadcast network would be televising the game and what time they would be coming on the air. All times are Eastern Standard.

Dec 19

New Mexico- Fresno State vs. Wyoming 4:30 p.m. ESPN
St. Petersburg- Central Florida vs. Rutgers 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 20

R+L Carriers New Orleans- Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 22

MAACO Las Vegas- Oregon State vs. BYU 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 23

Poinsettia- Utah vs. Cal 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 24

Sheraton Hawaii- Nevada vs. SMU 8 p.m. ESPN
Dec 26

Little Caesars- Marshall vs. Ohio 1 p.m. ESPN
Meineke- Pitt vs. North Carolina 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Emerald- Boston College vs. USC 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 27

Music City- Kentucky vs. Clemson 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 28

Independence- Texas A&M vs. Georgia 5 p.m. ESPN2

Dec 29

EagleBank- UCLA vs. Temple 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Champs Sports- Miami vs. Wisconsin 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 30

Humanitarian- Bowling Green vs. Idaho 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Holiday- Arizona vs. Nebraska 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 31

Armed Forces- Houston vs. Air Force Noon ESPN
Sun- Oklahoma vs. Stanford 2 p.m. CBS
Texas- Navy vs. Missouri 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Minnesota vs. Iowa State 6 p.m. NFL Network
Chick-fil-A- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee 7:30 p.m. ESPN

Jan 1

Outback- Northwestern vs. Auburn 11 a.m. ESPN
Capital One- Penn State vs. LSU 1 p.m. ABC
Gator- West Virginia vs. Florida State 1 p.m. CBS
Rose Bowl- Ohio State vs. Oregon 4:30 p.m. ABC
Sugar- Cincinnati vs. Florida 8:30 p.m. FOX

Jan 2

International- South Florida vs. Northern Illinois Noon ESPN2 South Carolina vs. UConn 2 p.m. ESPN
Cotton- Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss 2 p.m. FOX
Liberty- Arkansas vs. East Carolina 5:30 p.m. ESPN
Valero Alamo- Michigan State vs. Texas Tech 9 p.m. ESPN

Jan 4

Fiesta- Boise State vs. TCU 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 5

FedEx Orange- Iowa vs. Georgia Tech 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 6th

GMAC- Central Michigan vs. Troy 7 p.m. ESPN

Jan 7th

BCS National Championship Game- Texas vs. Alabama Jan. 7 8 p.m.

Some random notes on the above 34 games

*- 19 of the 34 games are not scheduled till Dec. 31st or later. I guess college football fanatics are expected to flip channels very quickly on those 3 days(Dec 31-Jan 2) when 15 games are being aired.
*- What a downer must it be for Oregon State players and fans. A few weeks ago they were one win from a Rose Bowl trip. Instead they lost to Oregon and are playing in a minor bowl before Christmas.
*- The NFL network televises a college football game. I guess that’s the cable sports equivalent of the Sci-Fi channel showing wrestling….
*- The bowls are now set where now certain conference finishers are locked into the same bowl games every year. I understand why the current system is done, but I prefer the day when bowl games would have greater variance from year to year. The Peach bowl would usually invite a ACC or SEC school but they could be creative, like when they invited Army and Illinois. Wouldn’t a SEC team against BYU or Wyoming be nice for a change?
*- Bobby Bowden’s farewell game is against the same school(West Virginia) that he left before coming to Florida State. I do know FSU and WV have played at least twice previously in bowls during the Bowden-Florida State era.


Are you ready for some bowling?

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this Saturday, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Dec 20
Eaglebank Bowl- Wake Forest vs Navy
New Mexico Bowl- Colorado State vs Fresno St
MAGICJACK ST. PETERSBURG BOWL- Memphis vs. South Florida
PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL- Brigham Young vs Arizona
Dec 21
Dec 23
Dec 24
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL- Hawaii vs Notre Dame
Dec 26
MOTOR CITY BOWL- Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
Saturday, December 27
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL- West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Champs Sports Bowl- Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Emerald Bowl- Miami (FL) vs. California
December 28
Independence Bowl- Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
PAPAJOHNS.COM BOWL- North Carolina State vs. Rutgers
Valero Alamo Bowl- Missouri vs. No. 23 Northwestern
Tuesday, December 30
PACIFIC LIFE HOLIDAY BOWL- Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Oregon
Texas Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Rice
Wednesday, December 31
Sun Bowl- Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL- Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Insight Bowl- Kansas vs. Minnesota
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL- LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Thursday, January 1
OUTBACK BOWL- South Carolina vs. Iowa
CAPITAL ONE BOWL- Georgia vs. Michigan State
Gator Bowl- Nebraska vs. Clemson
Rose Bowl- Penn State vs. USC
Fedex Orange Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Friday, January 2
Cotton Bowl- Mississippi vs. Texas Tech
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL- Kentucky vs. East Carolina
January 3
INTERNATIONAL BOWL- Buffalo vs. Connecticut
January 5
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL- Ohio State vs. Texas
January 6
GMAC Bowl- Ball State vs. Tulsa*
January 8

That’s 34 games, 68 schools spread over a period of 20 days for those of you keeping score at home. An ample supply of college football for any fanatics out there.

A few notes

*- There are a few bowl games remaining without corporate names in their title. Gator, Sun, Texas, Independence. Were these games unable to find sponsors?
*- Will Oklahoma St. and Oregon combine for 70 pts or more in the Holiday Bowl? This annually has been of the most high scoring affairs.
*- Oh how has the Orange Bowl dropped. A game that featured early triumphs of Joe Paterno led Penn State, Nebraska and Oklahoma in their glory days, the first major bowl appearance of Florida State, and the all time classic 84 battle between Nebraska and Miami, has Cincinnati and Virginia Tech playing this year. I’m sure they are talented football teams, but how many people are drooling to see them play in a prime-time network slot?
*- Arizona and BYU meet in a bowl 30 years after the former left the WAC conference for the higher profile Pac Eight(Now Ten, Arizona State joined also)
*- Vanderbilt makes a rare bowl appearance. Congratulations to Commodore fans, but this is a sign of how bowls are grown way out of proportion. 6-6 college teams get bids. When I was growing up I could remember Florida State going without a bowl in 1978 even though they finished the season 8-3.

It is my humble opinion that bowl season has gotten out of hand. Someone may say what’s the big deal? If someone wants to start a bowl game and there are two schools willing to play in it, does their records matter. A good football isn’t only a contest between stars at big name schools.

All true, but how much public money is spent on these affairs? Many of the teams are state universities who get funded by taxpayers. Then there is the game itself where police have to be taken from other tasks to work the day or night of the game or paid over-time.

With the economic downturn right now, you have to wonder if there will be less bowls in the near future. That would depend on how long a deal a corporate sponsor signed on for. I wonder how many fans of some schools plan to make a bowl trip. Are there 1,000 or more FAU Owls willing to journey from Florida to Michigan in December to watch the team play? Even if I were a Owl fan and had money, I’d stay home.

Enjoy the games.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #24 – Tennessee Titans – RB Chris Johnson

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Tennessee Titans quickly grabbed East Carolina running back Chris Johnson after trading down in the first. Rather high for this guy, methinks.

Scouts, Inc.: 41st

Strengths: Possesses elite speed. Is an explosive open-field runner. Brings excellent versatility to the table thanks to his experience at RB, WR and KOR. He can explode through a hole. Gets from 0-to-60 mph faster than most RB’s. Shows excellent burst to and through the hole, as well as the second-gear to run away from defenders in space. Vision and patience were much improved as a senior in 2007. He has a compact running style and will do a decent job of protecting his body. He displays very soft hands as a receiver and return specialist. Has great experience working out of the slot and knows how to separate as a route runner. Can pluck on the run and gets upfield in a hurry after the catch. Shows good vision and run instincts when he gets into space; knows when to cut back against the grain and how to set up blocks.

Weaknesses: Is undersized and must add more bulk to frame in order to hold up physically at the next level. Has better strength than frame indicates but still not strong enough to break lots of tackles or push the pile as an inside runner. Doesn’t always drive his legs and finish runs strong. Durability was a problem throughout college and most concerning is his history of neck injuries. Lacks ideal running instincts and got away with a lot at the college level because of his speed that he won’t get away with in the NFL. Will get overwhelmed at the point of attack versus bigger linebackers in pass pro. Will struggle to hold up in that facet of the NFL game. Ball security has been a problem at times, as he turned the ball over seven times on fumbles during his first three seasons. He also has small hands (7 ¼ inches).

Overall: Johnson became a starter as a true freshman and during his career at East Carolina served as a running back, wide receiver and kickoff return specialist. In his first three seasons (2004-’06), he played 34 games (23 starts) and ran for 1,559 yards and 15 touchdowns on 388 carries (4.0 average). In that span, he also had 88 receptions for 768 yards (8.7 average) and four touchdowns, plus 79 kickoff returns for 1,706 yards (21.6 average) and four touchdowns. Johnson broke out as a senior, starting all 13 games and leading the nation in all-purpose yards per game (227.7). He had 1,468 yards and 17 touchdowns on 236 carries (6.0 average), 37 receptions for 528 yards (14.3 average) and six scores, and 36 kickoff returns for 1,009 yards (28.0) and another TD. In 2006, Johnson had offseason neck surgery that forced him to miss spring drills but no playing time. He missed one game and was limited in others later that season because of a turf toe injury on his left big toe. Johnson shares a lot of similarities with Jerious Norwood, who was selected by the Falcons in the second round of the 2006 draft. Like Norwood, Johnson is a homerun threat with exceptional speed and versatility but marginal size and below-average strength. A team that can afford a luxury item like Johnson will be able to maximize his big-play potential as a runner, receiver and return specialist. However, we are not convinced he’s capable of handling a fulltime role at running back in the NFL, which is why we don’t grade him out as high as some. Regardless, Johnson is vying to become the first senior running back off the board. He projects as a second or third round pick.

Rick Gosselin: 41st



Conference USA may not fill all its bowl tie-ins

Not enough teams may get the six wins needed for a bowl game berth. From the Orlando Sentinel-

The Conference USA bowl scenario is going to get interesting over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Entering the week, UCF is one of four C-USA teams now eligible for bowl berths.

While Knights Coach George O’Leary was safe not to say his club was definitely going bowling by just reaching the necessary six victories Saturday with its win over Marshall, there doesn’t appear to be any scenario in which UCF will be left out of the postseason. Especially with UCF’s remaining opponents boasting a combined 7-20 record.

But C-USA is actually in danger of not qualifying enough teams to fill its six tie-ins this season. UCF, East Carolina, Houston and Tulsa all have six wins. But it may come down to the wire to get two more teams there.

The East Division’s bubble teams are Southern Miss (5-4) and Memphis (4-5).

The West’s only remaining candidate is UTEP, which is 4-5.

The Golden Eagles should be safe to get one more win with remaining games against Memphis on Saturday, followed by a trip to UTEP and a finale against Arkansas State (4-5).

UTEP will be favored Saturday at Tulane (2-7) but will have to upset either Southern Miss or win at UCF to get its sixth win of the year.

Memphis has it a little easier, hosting UAB (2-7) and SMU (1-8) after traveling to Hattiesburg.

I think the moral of the story is- There are too many darn bowl games. Outside of Oklahoma and Oregon, Who would watch a Oregon St-Tulsa game?(I’m making up a bowl match up)Does a 6-6 deserve a trip? I can remember Florida State getting no bowl bid after going 8-3 in 1978.


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