Sports Outside the Beltway

Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin pulled a ‘Doug Dickey’

The front page of the Palm Beach Post’s sports section had an article and a column about Kiffin’s departure for USC. I’m a history buff and used to follow college football much more seriously than I do today. As I drank my coffee I thought of a former TN Volunteer coach who left the school for another football program. His name was Doug Dickey.

I did a google search after I finished breakfast, and found this article written by Randy Moore.

Lane Kiffin’s sudden decision to leave The Hill in favor of his previous college coaching stop (Southern Cal) has created the same mixture of shock, dismay and outrage among Volunteer fans that arose when Dickey bolted in ’69 to take the reins at his alma mater (Florida).

That’s understandable. Consider the similarities in the two situations:

- Dickey was a former college quarterback (Florida). Kiffin was a former college quarterback (Fresno State).

- Tennessee was Dickey’s first head coaching job at the collegiate level. Tennessee was Kiffin’s first head coaching job at the collegiate level.

- Dickey was an “outsider” (a non-UT grad) who followed two UT grads (Harvey Robinson, Bowden Wyatt) as the head coach. Kiffin was an outsider who followed two UT grads (Johnny Majors, Phillip Fulmer) as head coach.

- Dickey had incredible support from Tennessee’s administration and fan base. Kiffin’s support from those same groups was no less incredible.

- Dickey surrounded himself with outstanding assistants who excelled as recruiters and teachers. Kiffin surrounded himself with outstanding assistants who excelled as recruiters and teachers.

- Dickey was a radical departure from his predecessors, shifting UT from the single-wing to the I-formation and lobbying for artificial turf (dubbed Doug’s Rug). Kiffin was a radical departure from his predecessors, as well, making national headlines with his brash comments and lobbying for black jerseys on Halloween.

- Dickey went 4-5-1 in Year 1 but raised Big Orange hopes by playing third-ranked Alabama to a 19-8 loss and playing seventh-ranked LSU to a 3-3 tie. Kiffin went 7-6 in Year 1 but raised Big Orange hopes by playing top-ranked Alabama to a 12-10 loss and playing top-ranked Florida to a 23-13 loss.

- Dickey closed his Tennessee run with a 14-13 Gator Bowl loss to 14th-ranked Florida. Kiffin closed his Tennessee run with a 37-14 Chick fil-A Bowl loss to 12th-ranked Virginia Tech.

- Dickey’s departure led UT to promote receivers coach Bill Battle to the top job. Kiffin’s departure led UT to promote receivers coach Kippy Brown to the top job (albeit on an interim basis).

Those are an awful lot of similarities. Both coaches last game was a Florida located Bowl appearance.

I understand Volunteer fans who are angry at Kiffin. Greg Stoda at the Palm Beach Post does make a point-

Yeah, y’all got jilted. It hurts. It happens. Both ways. Vol Nation didn’t exactly treat ol’ Phil Fulmer kindly by kicking him out the door after 17 mostly real-good seasons in making room for … Kiffin.

The whole karma bit can get ugly.

What goes around comes around. Tennessee should move on. Isn’t Volunteer football bigger than one man?


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


Florida Gator Coach Urban Meyer to step down due to health reasons

This news is simply shocking

Florida coach Urban Meyer, who was admitted to a hospital because of chest pains following the Southeastern Conference championship game, is stepping down because of health concerns.

Meyer resigned Saturday, calling it quits after five seasons in Gainesville and two national titles. He leaves Florida with a 56-10 record that includes a 32-8 mark in league play and a school-record 22-game winning streak snapped early this month against Alabama.

Meyer says he consulted with his family, his doctors, school president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley before deciding it is in his best interest to focus on his health and family.

While I’ve never been a Gator fan, I wish Meyer well and pray his health concerns aren’t too serious.

Meyer will coach the Gators one last time in the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati. Who the U of F will hire to replace Meyer, I haven’t a clue. None of his assistants stand out IMHO, so I think the University will hire an outsider.


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.


SEC suspends entire football officiating crew

The league said there was no basis for their personal foul call in a recent game. From AP-

The Southeastern Conference has suspended officials from last weekend’s Arkansas-Florida game after the crew was involved in its second controversial call of the year.Referee Marc Curles’ crew called a personal foul on Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard in the fourth quarter as the Gators were rallying for a 23-20 victory. The league said there was no video evidence to support the call.

The same group of officials called the LSU-Georgia game earlier this month, which included a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the league said shouldn’t have been called.

“A series of calls that have occurred during the last several weeks have not been to the standard that we expect from our officiating crews,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Wednesday. “I believe our officiating program is the best in the country. However, there are times when these actions must be taken.”

SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said this is the first time the league has publicly suspended a football crew like this.

The SEC says the crew will be removed from its next scheduled assignment Oct. 31 and will not be assigned to officiate as a crew until Nov. 14.

Conference officials went on to say this will affect referee bowl assignments. I sincerely hope it does. This crew shouldn’t be given extra opportunities to screw up.


Former UF Baseball Coach Dave Fuller dead at 94

He took the Gators to three SEC Championships and was even a assistant football coach. RIP.

Dave Fuller, the winningest baseball coach in University of Florida history, has died. He was 94.

Fuller died Tuesday at North Florida Regional Hospital in Gainesville.

Fuller guided the Florida baseball program from 1948 to 1975, compiling a 557-354-6 record and winning three Southeastern Conference championships (1952, 1956, 1962).

He was also a member of the football staff for 29 years (1948-76), the longest run of any assistant coach in school history. Fuller served in many capacities as head freshman coach, varsity assistant, head scout and a key recruiter under head coaches Bob Woodruff, Ray Graves and Doug Dickey.


Big Break- Jan Dowling to next Florida Gators Women’s golf coach

She once was an assistant coach at Duke and Kent State. From AP-

Florida hired Dowling as its golf coach Monday, giving the former “Big Break” contestant her first head coaching job.

Dowling replaces Jill Briles-Hinton, who resigned last month after the Gators finished 16th in the NCAA East regional played in Gainesville.

Dowling spent one year as an assistant at Duke and two seasons as an assistant at Kent State. She also played professionally for almost three years before entering the coaching ranks. From 2003 to 2005, she competed on the Futures Tour and on the Canadian Women’s Tour.

The Bradford, Ontario, native also participated in the Golf Channel’s reality TV series “Big Break” in 2005.

I love the sport of golf, but have never the Big Break. In fact, I don’t watch any reality shows.

As for college golf in general, on the women’s side fewer top golfers are playing collegiate ball before trying their luck at the LPGA. In fact, the only American LPGA golfer since 1998 who was 23 or younger and went to college for four years before winning their first event, is naturalized US citizen Candie Kung. LPGA players are winning at younger ages, but many if not most skipped playing college ball.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 1 #22- Minnesota Vikings- WR Percy Harvin

The highest* pick of the draft.

ESPN writes- Harvin possess rare and dynamic open-field capabilities. He runs with a low center of gravity, which allows to get in and out of his cuts effortlessly. He also shows an elite burst and has the acceleration to take it the distance. Although Harvin will need some tweaking with his route-running his overall athleticism is too much to pass up at this point.

*- Harvin tested positive for marijuana recently.


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.


UF’s Meyer: Dan Mullen will coach in BCS title game

Florida will play Oklahoma for the National Championship. From ESPN-

Florida football coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday that offensive coordinator Dan Mullen will stay on to coach in the Bowl Championship Series title game Jan. 8 against Oklahoma, despite taking the head coaching job at Mississippi State last week.

“The goal is to win the game, and I think right now, unless something changes, it looks like that’s going to happen,” Meyer said. “Is that the best chance of us winning that game, with the mechanics of the game the way we do them? Probably yes. So right now I’d say the plan is he’ll be up in the press box.”

At the Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday night, Gators quarterback Tim Tebow said it was unlikely Mullen would call the offensive plays against the Sooners. Tebow suggested that Florida could go with a play-calling-by-committee approach in the title game.

Mullen was still in Mississippi and not planning to return to Gainesville until after Christmas, Meyer said. The Gators held their first bowl practice Tuesday, but with final exams scheduled all week, it was mostly conditioning drills. Meyer said detailed game-plan preparations for No. 2 Oklahoma won’t begin until after Christmas.

I never understood Tebow’s Saturday statement from the beginning. The only reason not to let Mullen play call, is because if players and coaches didn’t trust him. If that was true, why wouldn’t Florida tell Mullen his services weren’t needed for the BCS Championship game?


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