Sports Outside the Beltway

On the warpath- Florida St. beats Ohio St. 37-6

The Seminoles advance to the NCAA Baseball super regionals. From AP-

Stephen Cardullo set a tournament record with seven hits, including three of Florida State’s NCAA-record 15 doubles, as the Seminoles routed Ohio State 37-6 on Sunday in the Tallahassee regional and advanced to the super regionals.

“I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it,” Martin said. “We’re sitting there in the fourth inning and I knew we were going to a super regional.”

Florida State (45-16) set NCAA postseason records with 37 runs, 38 hits and 66 total bases, while Cardullo tied the school mark for hits in an offensive performance the football team would’ve been proud of. The Seminoles set or tied 18 NCAA, school or postseason records.

Jason Stidham, the regional’s most outstanding player, hit a two-run double as the Seminoles scored eight times in the first and cruised past the pitching-depleted Buckeyes (42-19), who trailed 32-0 in the fifth.

“Everything they did was right,” said Ohio State coach Bob Todd, who went through seven pitchers in an attempt to stem the rout. “Everything we did was wrong.”

Sounds like it. The Buckeye starter gave up seven runs without recording an out. I’ve never seen 30 runs scored in one game, alone 37.


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.


Reports say Florida State will annonce Jimbo Fisher as Bobby Bowden’s successor

Bobby Bowden has been Seminole head football coach for thirty-two seasons. From the Sun-Sentinel-

Florida State University is close to announcing an agreement that would name offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher the successor to legendary coach Bobby Bowden, a source close to the situation confirmed this morning.

FSU spokesperson Frank Murphy said the school will hold a news conferences at 11:30 a.m. Monday to discuss the coaching situation.

A source said Wednesday morning that “there’s an agreement in principle” but that lawyers representing both FSU and Fisher are still negotiating several details. The source said the deal is not complete, and that it might not be complete until next week. The source also said the possibility still exists that the deal could fall through.


The source also said no timetable will be set for Fisher to take the reins from Bowden, college football’s career Division I victories leader. Bowden last week agreed to a 1-year contract extension that will pay him $2.5 million per season and includes a payment of $1 million bonus upon his retirement. FSU officials have said Bowden can remain FSU’s coach for as long as he wishes.

Fisher, who is FSU’s offensive coordinator, is often mentioned when some head vacancy occurs. FSU looks to be trying to keep Fisher from leaving, which to me appears a good move. Both for the football team’s success and for recruiting purposes. Potential FSU recruits will know what they are getting when Bowden retires.


Upset Saturday in College Football

It was a bizarre weekend in college football, with eight ranked teams losing to teams ranked below them — seven to teams not ranked at all.

    #3 Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, 24-27.
    #4 Florida lost to unranked Auburn, 17-20.
    #5 West Virginia lost to #18 South Florida, 13-21 (Thursday night).
    #7 Texas lost to unranked Kansas State, 21-41
    #10 Rutgers lost to unranked Maryland, 24-34
    #13 Clemson lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 3-13
    #21 Penn State lost to unranked Illinois, 20-27
    #22 Alabama lost to unranked Florida State, 14- 21

This was on top of several other close finishes.

ESPN’s Pat Forde dubs it “Insanity Saturday” and observes that this throws the whole season out of whack.

Just that fast, the college football landscape shifted seismically beneath our feet.

Just that fast, the Red River Shootout game Saturday between Oklahoma and Texas was dropped to undercard status. For the first time in years, it’s not the marquee game in the Big 12. And for the first time in years, the league’s maligned North looks more compelling than the South. If you can believe it, the biggest game in that league next week might be unbeaten Kansas at 3-1 Kansas State — either that or 4-1 Nebraska at unbeaten Missouri.

Just that fast, the upcoming LSU-Florida showdown Saturday in Baton Rouge lost half its helium when the Gators were shocked in The Swamp by an Auburn team that had lost at home to South Florida and Mississippi State on consecutive weekends.

Just that fast, the three Big East teams that began the season in the Top 25 all have at least one loss. Louisville went down first, then West Virginia, now Rutgers. Suddenly South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati are the unbeaten teams in the Big East. Honk if you foresaw that in August.

Just that fast, Illinois is 4-1 and tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0. That’s the same Illinois that went 2-10 last year, with only one victory over I-A competition.

Just that fast, we have an ACC plot twist that leaves Virginia and Boston College well out in front in their respective divisions at 3-0 in league play. Virginia was left for dead after a Week 1 blowout loss to Wyoming. Boston College was picked last in its division by at least one preseason magazine.

And just that fast, USC and LSU put that much more distance between themselves and what’s left of the pack.

The object lesson here is that no favorite is safe. Not at home, not on the road, not in league play, not out of league play. If those lessons hadn’t already been learned by Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, and Syracuse 38, Louisville 35, they were reinforced on Insanity Saturday.

And no lead is safe. You’d think the Sooners getting up 24-7 would be enough to make Colorado quit. You’d be wrong. The Buffaloes scored the final 20 points, winning on the last play of the game — a 45-yard field goal by Kevin Eberhart.


Underdogs aren’t scared right now, by much of anyone. Players and coaches are shrugging off past history, blowing off bad losses, not worrying about falling behind and regrouping to pull upsets nobody saw coming. Nobody’s rolling over.

I’ve seen this sort of thing in college basketball before but never to this extent in football. The bottom line, though, is that Notre Dame and Alabama and Michigan no longer have an automatic recruiting advantage over South Florida and West Virginia and Georgia Tech. There’s a wealth of talent out there and plenty of television exposure to be had in the realigned conference structure. Players would rather go to a program with less prestige and start than sit on the bench and one of the Big Boys.


NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Lawrence Timmons

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Lawrence Timmons, outside linebacker out of Florida State, with the 15th pick.

What the Experts Say: Profile:

Lawrence Timmons Photo FSU Uni Player Evaluation: Standing out in his first year as a defensive starter, Timmons offers outstanding size, speed and potential. Would have been an early draft pick if he returned to college for another season, yet will be a future starter once he fully develops his football skills.

STRENGTHS: Aggressiveness, Athleticism, Change of Direction

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Discipline, Instincts

Biography: Moved into the starting unit last season and burst on the scene with career-best tackling numbers of 79/18/5. Played behind former first-round pick Ernie Sims the previous season, also seeing extensive time on special teams.

Pos: Athletic defender who forces the action anywhere on the field. Easily defeats blocks, is fast to the sidelines and cuts off the corners. Quickly changes direction, displays skill in pursuit and rarely is off his feet. Explosive up the field in run defense and is effective on the blitz. Easily runs downfield with tight ends in coverage. Aggressively puts his shoulders into ball carriers to make the tackle.

Neg: Not efficient, and takes improper angles to the action. Hesitant and does not display top instincts.


Joey Porter’s reign over Pittsburgh ended during the offseason and there is no heir apparent on the roster, so the Steelers are desperate need of getting an edge rusher that can make an immediate impact. Timmons should be just the man for the job since he has the burst to turn the corner, athletic ability to develop an arsenal of pass rushes and the closing speed to quickly get to the quarterback. He won’t make as much of an impact dropping into coverage and defending the run but he should hold his own when asked to drop into coverage and he should chase plenty of backs down from behind. And if indeed the Steelers transition to a 4-3 defense at some point, Timmons is versatile enough to move to weak-side linebacker.


Jimbo Fisher FSU’s New Offensive Coordinator

Much-sought-after LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has finally signed with Florida State.

Less than 48 hours after ending negotiations with Louisiana State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden changed his mind Monday and, apparently, Fisher’s too.

Bowden named Fisher, 41, as his offensive coordinator at Florida State, which had suffered decreasing production on offense in recent years under the directions of Bowden’s youngest son, Jeff Bowden.

“His ability to put in an offense and adjust as the season goes along is second to none,” Bobby Bowden said about Fisher. “He brings the experience and attitude that I was looking for in a coordinator.”

ESPN’s Jim Donnan first reported the hiring earlier Monday.

A West Virginia native, Fisher spent the past seven seasons at LSU, where the offense set 13 school records under his direction. He will also take over as quarterback coach for Daryl Dickey, whose contract was not renewed.

“The opportunity to coach at Florida State and to grow as a coach under coach Bowden was one that I could not pass up,” said Fisher, who signed a three-year agreement with a starting base salary of $215,000.

However, on Saturday it appeared Florida State had given up on landing Fisher, a protege of Bowden’s son, Terry Bowden. “Florida State will move forward to pursue other options among a number of outstanding coaches who want to share in FSU’s traditions and values,” coach Bobby Bowden said, adding that Fisher would “be a benefit to whatever organization he ends up with.”

What’s interesting is that there are indeed going to be several head coach openings as the end-of-season NFL-college carousel continues to turn. While the presumption is that Fisher will ultimately succeed Bobby Bowden once he finally retires, you’d think he’d want to keep his options open.


Jimbo Fisher to Join Saban at Alabama?

Kevin Scarbinsky reports that Nick Saban will try to lure LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to take the same position with Alabama, although Fisher seems to be leaning toward rejoining Bobby Bowden at Florida State.

There is a lot of speculation about other positions on the staff, too:

Joe Kines would be a popular choice among Alabama fans to remain as defensive coordinator. Another potential assistant who could be hired to run Saban’s defense is Florida State linebackers coach Kevin Steele, one of Bowden’s top assistants.

Saban met briefly with the current Alabama assistants Wednesday, one of them said, and they expect to meet with the new head coach individually in the next two days to discuss staying in Tuscaloosa and working for him. One Alabama source said the current assistants with the best chance to join Saban’s staff are Kines, running backs coach Sparky Woods and secondary coach Chris Ball.

Someone representing Saban began calling potential assistants to measure their interest in coming to Tuscaloosa even before he accepted the Alabama job.

Other coaches who might become part of Saban’s Alabama staff, according to sources in college and pro football, include:

Bobby Williams, the Miami Dolphins running backs coach. Williams worked for Saban at Michigan State and succeeded him as the head coach there when Saban left for LSU.

Stacy Searels, the LSU offensive line coach. Searels played at Auburn, and he worked for Saban at LSU in 2003 and 2004.

Tracy Rocker, the Arkansas defensive line coach. Rocker also played at Auburn, and he’s been a college assistant in this state at Troy and West Alabama.

Todd Stroud, the former North Carolina State defensive line coach under recently fired head coach Chuck Amato. Stroud is a former head coach at West Alabama.

Lance Thompson, the defensive coordinator at Central Florida. Thompson worked at Alabama as an assistant under Mike DuBose and spent two years on Saban’s LSU staff.

Rick Trickett, offensive line coach at West Virginia, was considered a possible Saban hire but joined Bowden’s staff at Florida State late Wednesday.

A source close to Saban said last weekend that if he took the Alabama job, he would have a staff in place in 24 to 48 hours.

It shouldn’t be too hard for Saban to assemble a staff. Until the debacle at the Independence Bowl, retaining Kines was indeed the logical move; I’m less sure now. Plus, since Saban’s background is on that side of the ball, I’m not sure how well the two will mesh scheme-wise.

A Fisher hire would indeed be interesting, not only because of his success, but because of the intrigue surrounding his non-hire for the UAB job. The conspiracy theorists would certainly come out of the woodwork if he got hired in Tuscaloosa.


2007 Sports Predictions: Crystal Ball Time

For the last two years at my regular blog, I’ve made predictions for the coming year. I thought I would do that here but concentrating on sports only.

Here we go-

1- The Miami Dolphins have a losing season
2- The Florida Marlins have a winning season
3- Tiger Woods wins at least one major on the way to being Player of the Year again.
4- Ernie Els returns to form.
5- Se Ri Pak completes the women’s Grand Slam by taking the Kraft Nabisco
6- Bobby Bowden retires.
7- Roger Clemens retires but this time for good.
8- Charges are totally dropped in the Duke Lacrosse case.
9- Nick Saban leaves the Miami Dolphins to be the head coach at Alabama.
10- The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers both miss the 06-07 season playoffs.
11- Chicago defeats New England in the Super Bowl.
12- Michelle Wie wins an LPGA tournament.
13- Mike Tyson gets arrested.
14- 2007 is Joe Torre’s last season as manager of the Yankees.
15- Bill Cowher quits coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers
16- The Buffalo Sabres win the Stanley Cup
17- Bill Parcells, Marty Schottenheimer and Joe Gibbs all retire or are fired from their present coaching jobs.
18- Bret Favre retires.
19- The Chicago White Sox win the World Series
20- More than half the above predictions are wrong.

We’ll check back at the end of 2007 and see how I did.


College Bowl Game Overload’s John Walters has an amusing column entitled “The Spirit of 7-6” on last night’s Emerald Bowl matchup between FSU and UCLA.

When did college football’s postseason become a walk-a-thon? When did two programs walking the .500 tightrope and with almost no chance of sniffing the final AP top 25 poll become worthy of a post-game podium and a trophy nearly as heavy as a female cheerleader?

Florida State (your ACC Atlantic Division 5th-place finisher) defeated UCLA (your Pacific-10 4th-place squad) 44-27 in the fifth annual Emerald Bowl this evening, thereby sending both teams home for the 2006 season with 7-6 records. There are 32 bowl games dotting your television listings between December 19th and January 8th, and the Emerald Bowl is definitely… one of them.


[T]he great drama in this evening’s game was whether Seminole head coach Bobby Bowden, now in his 31st season in Tallahassee, would finish the year sub-500 for the first time since his first season in Tallahassee. There’s more than one way to make history in a bowl game.

Indeed. I have, so far, watched zero of the bowl games. The college football season seemingly ended months ago and they’re still playing consolation games. Eventually, they will get around to playing the BCS Championship game, featuring teams that have been idle for weeks.

My Alabama Crimson Tide plays this afternoon in the Independence Bowl against Oklahoma State. Both teams had pathetic 6-6 seasons. Indeed, Alabama’s coach was fired seemingly ages ago and the Tide will be led by Interim Coach for Life Joe Kines.

Birmingham News writer Jon Solomon provides some statistics:

Seven 6-6 teams advanced to bowls this year, and four teams – including Oklahoma State – had only five victories against Division I-A opponents. Alabama and Miami added to their resumes with two victories each against winless teams.

Fifty-four percent of the 119 I-A teams are now in bowls. Television ratings and bowl payouts show there is interest.

One argument made for bowl games is they provide a reward to players for their season. Yet six-win seasons by Alabama and Miami rewarded their coaches with pink slips. “If we come out (today) with a win, I think it will be a mark for this team because we’ve been through it all,” Alabama running back Kenneth Darby said. “This season wasn’t perfect, but at least we come out with a 7-6 record. That would be a winning record, as far as I’m concerned.”

Bear Bryant wouldn’t agree, methinks. I suppose I’ll watch the game but, frankly, who really cares? Finishing 7-6 is hardly anything to cheer about.


Paterno and Bowden Headline 2006 Hall of Fame Class

Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden have been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Since Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden failed to meet the qualifications for induction into the college football Hall of Fame, the folks who run the hall simply changed the rules. Instead of requiring a coach be retired, the National Football Foundation decided to make any active coach over 75 eligible for induction. With the red tape cut, the winningest coaches in Division I-A were elected Tuesday and can now be called Hall of Famers.

“I wasn’t expecting it because I thought you had to die first — and I didn’t want to volunteer for that,” Bowden said during a conference call. “They might have changed the rules to get me and Joe in. But I’m very excited about it.”

Paterno, who will turn 80 in December, has won 354 games and two national championships in 40 seasons as Penn State’s head coach. No one has ever coached longer and won more games at one Division I-A school. The 76-year-old Bowden leads major college football with 359 victories, 286 — and two national titles — since taking over at Florida State in 1976.

Certainly, these guys deserve it.

The two coaches will be joined by a slew of players:

    • Bob Anderson — RB, Colorado, 1967-69
    • Bennie Blades — DB, Miami (Fla.), 1985-87
    • Carl Eller — T, Minnesota, 1961-63
    • Steve Emtman — DL, Washington, 1989-91
    • Thomas Everett — FS, Baylor, 1983-86
    • Chad Hennings — DT, Air Force, 1984-87
    • Chip Kell — OG, Tennessee, 1968-70
    • Mike Phipps — QB, Purdue, 1967-69
    • Mike Rozier — RB, Nebraska, 1981-83
    • Jeff Siemon — LB, Stanford, 1968-71
    • Bruce Smith — DT, Virginia Tech, 1981-84
    • Emmitt Smith — RB, Florida, 1987-89
    • Charlie Ward — QB, Florida State, 1989, 1991-93


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