Sports Outside the Beltway

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.


Not shut out- Atlanta drafts Miami Hurricane LB Spencer Atkins

College Football players being selected in the NFL draft has been a mainstay feature for two decades. Often multiple players would go in the first round. Not in 2009. Actually some speculated no Hurricane would get chosen. Atlanta bites the bullet in the 6th round with the #176 selection

ESPN writes-

Atkins lacks instincts and it’s going to take some major repetitions for him to catch on. He also has durability issues. However, he is a quick-twitched athlete who possesses above-average range.

Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel twitters-

The streak ends, but at least the Hurricane got a draft pick in when LB Spencer Adkins was taken by the Falcons. Told U he’d be picked first

The Hurricanes have slumped for the last five years or so but not to the extent they fell off to in the early and mid 1970′s. I expect Miami to bounce back. Warm weather and a history of winning are strong enticements to any high school player to choose Miami for the school they want to play college football at.


Former NFL and NCAA Coach Lou Saban dead at 87

Saban, who was a distant relative of Nick Saban, had a history of never liking to stay long at University or pro team he worked for. Ask the University of Cincinnati, where Saban was AD for 19 days before taking the Miami Hurricane head coaching job.

I remember him mainly for his two year tenure at the University of Miami. Army was looking for a new head coach and wanted to talk to one of Saban’s assistants. Instead Saban said he was interested in the job. His abrupt departure from Coral Gables had some local sportswriters predicting doom for the Hurricanes.(Saban was 3-8 and 6-5 in his two years at Miami) Four years later, Howard Schnellenberger took the Hurricanes to a National Championship, where as Saban would spend the rest of his coaching days at places like Peru State and the Arena Football league. RIP Lou.


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 #31 New York Giants – S Kenny Phillips

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Super Bowl champion New York Giants have the 32nd and final selection in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft. (Actually, it’s the 31st, but I like to keep the placeholder to remind everyone of the pick the Pats forfeited for cheating.)

The team obvious does not have a lot of holes and has the luxury of drafting the best available athlete.

The pick is in: Kenny Phillips, S, Miami

Scouts, Inc.: 44

Strengths: Continues to add bulk to his frame while maintaining competitive speed for the position. Changes directions well, shows good burst out of cuts and is capable of matching up with slot receivers as well as tight ends in man coverage. Times jumps well, fights for the ball while it’s in the air and can come down with jump balls. He fills hard when he reads run, closes well and looks to make the occasional kill shot when it’s lined up. Flashes ability to read routes well, shows good range in zone coverage when he diagnoses the play on time and he has enough athleticism to cover the deep middle on those occasions. Vocal, gets teammates into position and is a leader on the field.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t read keys all that well and takes too many false steps. Is undisciplined at times and compromises the defensive scheme as a result. Has the second gear to recover in most situations but can be overaggressive, is vulnerable to play action and gets caught out of position too much. Flashes the ability to deliver the big hit but he will back down from some challenges he’s not certain he can win, as well. Lacks elite ball skills; a prospect with his natural ability should be more of a playmaker. Takes too long to shed blocks, occasionally avoids contact and is going to be more effective playing off the line than he’ll be lining up in the box. Takes some poor angles to the ball, can overrun plays and should make more plays in pursuit. Durability is somewhat of a concern; missed the final three games of the 2006 season with a broken thumb and battled a lingering ankle injury in 2007.

Overall: Phillips started the final 11 games of his true freshman season in 2004 finishing with 88 tackles including 58 unassisted tackles and three tackles-for-loss. He also recorded an interception, a fumble recovery and four pass breakups that year. Phillips started the nine games he appeared in during the 2005 season finishing with 71 tackles including six tackles-for loss. He also recorded four interceptions and six pass breakups up that year. Phillips started the 11 games he played in during the 2007 season finishing with 82 total tackles including 54 unassisted tackles and six tackles-for-loss. He also recorded two interceptions, five pass breakups and three forced fumbles last year. Phillips took a step backwards as a junior and would have been better served by returning to school for his senior year. While part of his struggles can be chalked up to a lingering ankle injury that limited his range a bit, it still doesn’t explain his inconsistent recognition skills and failure to play with the same passion on an every down-basis. If properly developed and motivated, Phillips can emerge as a versatile starting safety in the NFL. However, Phillips’ ceiling is not nearly as high as some of the past great Hurricane safeties, which is why we tag him with a fringe first-round grade.

Rick Gosselin: 33

The consensus best safety in the draft is a reasonable pick at this point and fills a “need” created by the loss of David Tyree. A solid pick.


Washington Redskins’ Safety Sean Taylor dead at 24

He died from wounds suffered early Monday morning. No doubt, Taylor was a talented football player who had off the field problems. Lets try to remember him for the former rather than the later. RIP Sean. I hope police catch your killer.

MIAMI – Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday, a day after the Pro Bowl player was shot at home by what police say was an intruder. He was 24.

Family friend Richard Sharpstein said Taylor’s father told him the news around 5:30 a.m.

“His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me,” said Sharpstein, Taylor’s former lawyer. “It’s a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans.”

Taylor died at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had been airlifted after the shooting early Monday, Sharpstein said.

Two carloads of mourners, including Taylor’s father, arrived at the house Tuesday morning. They remained inside and did not speak to reporters. A single bouquet of flowers was left by a palm tree just outside a front gate. Beside the mailbox, an untouched newspaper lay with news of Taylor’s shooting.

Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse’s hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins’ vice president of football operations. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn’t sure how he had squeezed the nurse’s hand.

“Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something,” Sharpstein said.

Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft following an All-American season at the University of Miami, was shot early Monday in the upper leg, damaging an artery and causing significant blood loss.

“According to a preliminary investigation, it appears that the victim was shot inside the home by an intruder,” Miami-Dade County police said in a statement.

But police were still investigating the attack, which came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor’s home. Officers were sent to the home about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor’s girlfriend called 911.

Sharpstein said Taylor’s girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor’s 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house, but neither she nor Taylor’s girlfriend were injured.

Police found signs of forced entry, but have not determined if they were caused Monday, or the previous burglary.

The shooting happened in the pale yellow house he bought two years ago. Eight days before the attack someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed at Taylor’s home, according to police.

“They’re really sifting through that incident and today’s incident,” Miami-Dade Detective Mario Rachid said, “to see if there’s any correlation.”

Born April 1, 1983, Taylor starred as a running back and defensive back at Gulliver Prep in Miami. His father, Pedro Taylor, is police chief of Florida City.

A private man with a small inner circle, Taylor rarely granted interviews. But, behind the scenes, Taylor was described as personable and smart — an emerging locker room leader.

“From the first day I met him, from then to now, it’s just like night and day,” Redskins receiver James Thrash said Monday. “He’s really got his head on his shoulders and has been doing really well as far as just being a man. It’s been awesome to see that growth.”

After Taylor was drafted, problems soon began. Taylor fired his agent, then skipped part of the NFL’s mandatory rookie symposium, drawing a $25,000 fine. Driving home late from a party during the season, he was pulled over and charged with drunken driving. The case was dismissed in court, but by then it had become a months-long distraction for the Redskins.

Taylor also was fined at least seven times for late hits, uniform violations and other infractions over his first three seasons, including a $17,000 penalty for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman during a 2006 playoff game.

Meanwhile, Taylor endured a yearlong legal battle after he was accused in 2005 of brandishing a gun at a man during a fight over allegedly stolen all-terrain vehicles near Taylor’s home. He eventually pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation.

Taylor said the end of the assault case was like “a gray cloud” being lifted. It was also around the time that his daughter was born, and teammates noticed a change.

“It’s hard to expect a man to grow up overnight,” said teammate and close friend Clinton Portis, who played with Taylor at Miami. “But ever since he had his child, it was like a new Sean, and everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child.”

On the field, Taylor’s play was often erratic. Assistant coach Gregg Williams frequently called Taylor the best athlete he’d ever coached, but nearly every big play was mitigated by a blown assignment. Taylor led the NFL in missed tackles in 2006 yet made the Pro Bowl because of his reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league.

This year, however, Taylor was allowed to play a true free safety position, using his speed and power to chase down passes and crush would-be receivers. His five interceptions tie for the league lead in the NFC, even though he missed the last two games because of a sprained knee.

“I just take this job very seriously,” Taylor said in a rare group interview during training camp. “It’s almost like, you play a kid’s game for a king’s ransom. And if you don’t take it serious enough, eventually one day you’re going to say, ‘Oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.’

“So I just say, ‘I’m healthy right now, I’m going into my fourth year, and why not do the best that I can?’ And that’s whatever it is, whether it’s eating right or training myself right, whether it’s studying harder, whatever I can do to better myself.”


Univ. of Miami to fans- Don’t take any Orange Bowl Souvenirs

The last Hurricane game will be played there on Saturday night. From the Miami Herald-

Yes, Hurricane fans, we know you love the Orange Bowl — and you will miss it. But you can’t take it with you. Not even one fistful of sod.

So said University of Miami football coach Randy Shannon and university President Donna Shalala on Monday in a jointly issued plea for decorum. They asked that fans please not storm the field and grab things — be they hunks of grass or chunks of goalpost — after Saturday’s 7:15 p.m. game against the Virginia Cavaliers.

The Virginia game will be the last played by the Hurricanes at their home for the past 70 years.


In case some fans disregard their plea, Shalala and Shannon warned that there will be 300 Miami police officers on the field at the end of the game to ensure that no one tries to snatch a memento.

In addition to arrest, students would also face sanctions from the unversity, they said.

While the Hurricanes will be done with the OB, the stadium isn’t closing yet. So the seats will be needed for other events, including maybe high school football games. I know as recent as two years ago a State Championship HS game was played at the Bowl.

What a waste of manpower if 300 police have to be on duty at the game. Don’t police in Florida have something else to do? Like shooting out innocent people’s car tires or sue a family for a slip and fall after responding to call where a child almost drowned? Criminals can pretty much expect a free hand on Saturday to do their mischief.


Nick Saban Recruiting Violations?

Nick Saban may have violated NCAA regulations, ESPN reports.

Alabama officials would not comment on reports that coach Nick Saban might have violated NCAA rules limiting contact with potential recruits.

The Miami Herald and reported that three south Florida junior prospects described conversations with Saban during his recruiting trip last week that might have exceeded NCAA rules limiting face-to-face contact with recruits to “exchange of a greeting” between April 15 and May 31. Coaches are allowed to evaluate high school players at their schools during that period.

If violations occurred, they were likely secondary and wouldn’t lead to significant penalties. Alabama spokesman Doug Walker said Thursday the university would not comment on the reports.

Miami Krop junior linebacker Etienne Sabino said Saban told him he’s “the big physical type of linebacker” Alabama needs. Miami Northwestern High junior Brandon Washington said Saban asked if “my heart was in Miami.” He has verbally committed to playing for the University of Miami Hurricanes. Northwestern teammate Marcus Fortson said he spoke to Saban for “a few minutes” and that the coach told him Alabama “is a great place to get a degree.”

This sounds incredibly minor, indeed, and if these things are in violation of NCAA rules, they ought be changed. That said, Saban has been around the block once or twice and ought to know the rules and play by them.


NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #31 – Chicago Bears – TE Greg Olsen

Last year’s NFC Champion, the Chicago Bears, drafted Miami TE Greg Olsen.

What the Experts Say:

The ratings are all over the place but it would appear to be an excellent value at the 31 spot. Profile: One of the better blocking tight ends in the nation, Nordin [ed.?] may slip through the cracks because of his broken ankle. Possesses the tools to make it as a third tight end brought onto the field during short-yardage situations.


STRENGTHS: Quickness off Line, Running Ability, Speed


Biography: Two-year starter awarded varying degrees of All-Conference honors since his junior campaign. Led the Hurricanes in receptions last season posting 40/489/1, after 31/451/4 as a sophomore.

Pos: Athletic prospect who flashes brilliance yet does not show much consistency. Quick releasing off the line, fluid into routes and immediately gets to top speed. Finds the clearing in the defense, makes himself an available target and extends to catch the ball away from his frame. Smooth moving about the field, adjusts to the errant throw and makes a lot of difficult receptions. Comes away with the ball when defenders are draped on him. Uses his frame to protect the pass and displays top eye/hand coordination.

Neg: Not physical as a blocker and leans on opponents. Easily brought down at the point of attack running after the reception. Does not show a lot of playing strength.


The best available tight end is if off board and the Bears filled one of their more important needs but be weary of calling this is a great pick. Chicago should be excited about Olsen’s ability to stretch the field and giving their young quarterback a legitimate threat over the middle. Though he should also take advantage of the Bears’ commitment to the run setting up the play action Olsen is a mediocre blocker at best. If he is to play an every-down role, he’ll have to get a lot stronger at the point of attack and a lot tougher. Until he does, he should strictly be a situational receiving tight end.


NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #25 – Carolina Panthers – LB Jon Beason

The Carolina Panthers selected Miami linebacker Jon Beason with the 24th pick.

What the Experts Say: Profile:

Player Evaluation: Showing a lot of ability during his short time as a starting linebacker, Beason has the size and speed to be a starter on the weak side.

STRENGTHS: Athleticism, Change of Direction, Foot Quickness


Biography: Former fullback who moved to linebacker as a sophomore and has started the past two seasons. Led the team in tackles as a senior posting 76/8/1.5, also intercepting one pass. Junior totals included 64 tackles. Competes on the school’s track team.

Pos: Terrific athlete with a good degree of upside potential. Breaks down well, plays with excellent balance and rarely off his feet. Explosive up the field, slides laterally to make plays and is effective in pursuit. Takes good angles to the action and covers a great amount of area on the field. Breaks down well, immediately alters his angle of attack and is disciplined with assignments. Hard-hitting, and aggressively puts his shoulders into ball handlers.

Neg: Easily handled at the point once engaged in a block, and is very slow to get back to playing form off the initial hit.


The Panthers probably would have liked to have gotten an inside linebacker or a safety but the value just wasn’t there. Another option was tight end and Greg Olsen is still on the board so Carolina could have done slightly better here. It’s tough to be critical of the pick however. Beason is an excellent value at this point in the first round and he is more than capable of pushing Na’il Diggs for playing time on the weak side.

The Panthers will likely work on his cover skills but he has a great bend of instincts, quickness and tenacity. It’s also worth noting that Beason has adequate size and the frame to get even bigger so there’s a chance Carolina considers moving him inside if MLB Dan Morgan can’t stay healthy.


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