Sports Outside the Beltway

Colorado State lets go Coach Sonny Lubick

The University wants him to stay as a fundraiser and goodwill ambassador. From AP-

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Sonny Lubick is out as Colorado State coach and hasn’t decided whether to accept the school’s offer to stay on as a fundraiser and goodwill ambassador. “I have no plans right now. It’s too early to speculate,” Lubick said Tuesday at a news conference.

Athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said Lubick has a job as associate athletic director available to him “if and when he wants it.”

“I want Sonny to be associated with the program,” Kowalczyk said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to keep him in the fold. I want him to be associated with this program that he’s put on the map.”

Lubick’s coaching staff was also let go with the exception of Tom Ehlers, the director of football operations, who will be kept on to oversee the transition period.

Kowalczyk has no timetable for hiring a new coach. He’s already received calls about the vacancy, but wouldn’t reveal any names. Kowalczyk said he would consult with Lubick before hiring a new coach.

“I’d be foolish not to,” he said.

Kowalczyk asked Lubick to step down a few days before the Rams’ season-ending win over Wyoming last Friday.


Speculation has been swirling around Lubick’s future for days after the Rams finished the season. They haven’t had a winning record since 2003, although Lubick is 108-74 in 15 seasons at Colorado State and is credited with turning an underachieving program into a consistent winner for most of his tenure.

Lubick was defensive coordinator at University of Miami before taking the head coaching job at CSU. I knew a couple of Lubick’s assistants when he first went to Fort Collins.

Being far removed from Colorado, I am not familiar with what’s going on in Ft. Collins. Considering Lubick’s success at the school, his dismissal is astonishing. CSU was a perrenial graveyard for coaches and Lubick made the school competitive first in the WAC and then the Mountain West.(They had been to one bowl game ever) I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams are back to being a doormat in a few years.


BYU Track Star arrested

From AP-

PROVO, Utah – For a star runner at Brigham Young, this was hardly a clean getaway.

Kyle Perry was arrested last week after getting out of his car and striking a pedestrian — with a mop.

Perry’s vehicle apparently got too close to the man, who was pushing a bucket with mops across a street June 14, witnesses told police.

“Angry words were exchanged,” Provo police Capt. Cliff Argyle said. “Mr. Perry exited his vehicle and grabbed a mop out of the pedestrian’s mop bucket and started to strike the pedestrian.

“The pedestrian grabbed another mop and used it to defend himself,” he said. “Eventually the pedestrian was shoved over a planter box and fell onto his back.”

The man, who had a bump on his head, blocked Perry’s car until police arrived and arrested the track star for aggravated assault, Argyle said. Any legal action from the mop fight is up to prosecutors.

In 2006, Perry won the Mountain West Conference title in the 1,500-meter run. He finished 12th in the same event at the NCAA track championship. His performances were limited this year by injuries.

I’ll leave readers to make the appropriate wisecracks. Right now I can’t think of anything. Maybe Mr. Perry can pitch long…..err mopup relief.


Charter Cable to Drop Versus

Charter Cable has made some noise about potentially dropping the sports channel Versus (formerly OLN) prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sports fans on Charter look to lose exposure to the following sports:

  • Exclusive coverage of the NHL playoffs, including the Eastern and Western Conference Finals and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Professional Bull Riders (PBR)
  • America’s Cup
  • Field Sports
  • The Tour de France
  • Mountain West Conference College Football, Basketball and more
  • Of course Versus provides you with a who to call and email form to voice your displeasure to Charter Cable. This all becomes a game, because really the only people who really get harmed in this are the people who watch Versus, like those 5 hockey fans.


    Boise State and the BCS

    Heralded by many, in Idaho, as the true National Champions, the Boise State Broncos closed the 2006 College Football season as the only undefeated team. Florida, by virtue of their thrashing of Ohio State, is the National Champion. And the Broncos? Fifth in the AP. Sixth in the USA Today Coaches poll. Not exactly the treatment befitting an undefeated team, who will be remembered best for their thrilling victory in the Fiesta Bowl – a game already declared an instant classic.

    Boise State however will not be accorded any more respect than they won on the gridiron. They are the other – an interloper at the big BCS bash. And in spite of their undefeated record, the exciting style of football they play and the prominence their situation has received, they are not welcome to clamor that they were denied their rightful place atop the College Football heap. Their National Title hopes denied not because they lost, but because they play in a smaller conference, in a smaller market and They are not a glamour team like USC, Texas, Ohio State or Florida.

    Lots of folks will be writing and scribbling in the coming weeks what needs to be done to fix the BCS. Many of those folks perpetuate the ridiculous system for picking a Champion. And pay careful attention to that word. Championships are not won on the field, they are picked by voters, whether ink-stained scribes or clipboard cr5acking coaches, and then parsed by a computer.

    The writers and coaches both pay more fealty to the polls than they ought. Much was made about the clash between Texas and Ohio State earlier this season. Texas finished the year with three losses, one of them against Ohio State. It was a very different team from the one that stunned USC in previous year’s Rose Bowl. But Texas was highly ranked. Because people who hadn’t seen them play thought they were a good team. One honest writer cast a protest vote for Boise State as the top ranked team. Whoever that writer is, he or she has earned the right to pen the by now obvious column declaring that what college football needs is a playoff.

    The solution is obvious, but money stands in the way. The Bowls, the major conferences and Notre Dame profit far too much from the BCS to allow the lesser conferences like the Western Athletic or the Mid-American or the Mountain West to join the party in an actual eight or sixteen game playoff that would actually allow the teams to compete to crown a Champion.

    Commentator Norman Chad once declared that true sports don’t determine the winner by voting. This was why athletic competitions with subjective styles of selecting winners could not be called true sports. Your fate was not in your hands. You couldn’t win and therefore prove your mettle. College Football’s postseason sadly has long been an athletic competition and not a sport.

    So in Gainesville celebrate your Champs. Urban Meyer did a great job game planning. And that made a huge difference. Make no mistake, though. This Championship belongs in part to Meyer’s predecessor Ron Zook, who recruited many of the players who went out and whupped Ohio State. They toppled Goliath and won the big game. But the matchup was picked, not entirely earned. And until the Championship Game is truly the clash of the last two teams standing after a playoff tournament, the conclusion of every College Football season will carry some baggage.


    Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry Retires

    Fisher DeBerry has retired after 27 years coaching Air Force Academy football.

    Longtime Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry announced his retirement Friday after 27 years with the Falcons, the last 23 as head coach. He guided the Falcons to three conference championships but his tenure ended with three consecutive losing seasons, the first such skid in his tenure at the school.

    In a prepared statement, the 68-year-old DeBerry called his resignation “the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life.” “There comes a time in every man’s life when you have to look at the big picture and decide what’s the best thing for your family,” he said. “After 27 exciting and wonderful years here at the academy and a total of 44 years of coaching, I am announcing my retirement from active coaching.”

    DeBerry, whose 169-107-1 record made him the winningest coach in Air Force history, was 35-11 against Army and Navy. He led the Falcons to 14 Commander-in-Chief’s trophies awarded to the winner of the annual service academy rivalry. However, Navy has won the last four trophies.

    DeBerry has also had problems off the field in recent years. In 2005, he was criticized by some after a 48-10 loss to TCU when he said Air Force didn’t have enough “Afro-American” players, who he singled out for being able to run well. DeBerry was reprimanded by top brass at the academy and offered a public apology.

    In 2004, academy officials asked him to remove a banner from the locker room that included the lines “I am a Christian first and last … I am a member of Team Jesus Christ.” The academy was dealing with allegations of religious intolerance at the time.

    Despite this lack of adaptation to our politically correct times, DeBerry was an outstanding coach and role model for a generation of Air Force Academy cadets. He will be missed.


    Bowl Blog Blowout, Part 1

    It’s only five days until the first bowl game (and, for a change, it’s not the New Orleans Bowl) so we’d better get around to picking the games, right? Well, with 26 bowl games on tap for this season, picking them all at once is bound to be as big a mess as a vegetable soup omelet. But, if we break down the games into categories, we can probably get through this. Right? Right?

    Anyway, there’s four distinct categories of bowl game taking place this season:

    1. Exhibition games involving only teams from non-BCS conferences.
    2. Grudge matches pitting BCS and non-BCS conference teams against each other.
    3. The undercard of non-BCS games involving two teams from BCS conferences, and
    4. The actual Bowl Championship Series.

    This being Part One, guess where we start? You may now throw up in your mouth a little, if you must.


    Northern Illinois v. TCU

    Northern Illinois has Garrett Wolfe, the all-everything running back who humiliated a fair number of quality defenses this season. TCU has Gary Patterson, the phenomenally successful coach who strangely has not yet been linked to the Alabama job. Both these teams come to San Diego on a hot streak, with NIU having beaten MAC champion Central Michigan soundly (31-10) and TCU having dispatched the weaker teams in the Mountain West (i.e., everybody but Utah and BYU). NIU has the worse record, but they’ve faced far superior competition, and you know how we feel about that around here. NIU.


    Rice v. Troy

    Good on Rice for making it to a bowl game. I think the last time they played in a bowl Dick Maegle was involved. As for Troy, we can’t go against them, because they are unofficially Friends of the Site. And besides, they’re pretty good. Troy.


    New Mexico v. San Jose State

    Oh, here’s a laugher: New Mexico is the road team on this game being played in their home stadium. $5 says they still use the home locker room. Too bad for them they’re paired up against a suddenly ascending San Jose State team in Dick Tomey’s last game before he takes over at Stanford. Because you know that’s gonna happen, especially since Tomey has also not yet been mentioned in connection with the Alabama job. SJSU.


    Middle Tennessee v. Central Michigan

    Two schools, two completely different philosophies on how to avoid being called a “directional school.” CMU’s wunderkind, Brian Kelly, is gone, so I’m guessing that MTSU has the upper hand in this game. Unless Kelly left extensive notes on how to run his freaky ninja offense, that is. But I’m guessing that he’s the mastermind. MTSU.


    Ohio v. Southern Mississippi

    Frank Solich, late of Nebraska, gets back to a bowl game with his really pretty good Ohio U Bobcats. He has not been publicly linked with the Alabama Job. Neither has Jeff Bowers, who has Brett Favre U in a bowl for what seems like the eight millionth time. USM is one of those schools that perpetually flies under the college football radar. A decade from now, they’ll probably still be playing games on Tuesday nights just to get a little exposure. Bowers has an impressive resume, but I think Solich has better players and will get the job done here. Ohio.

    (Crossposted from The Bemusement Park.)


    Bama Opens 2006 SEC Season at Vandy

    Alabama hosts Vanderbuilt tomorrow to renew its rivalry with the SEC’s doormat. The last time the Tide lost to the Commodores, their current head coach was their sophomore quarterback (and your humble scribe a high school senior).

    Mike Shula had plenty of success as an Alabama quarterback, but there’s one game he’d just as soon not talk about. It was 1984, and he was a sophomore quarterback facing Vanderbilt, not far removed from his first career start. Care to reminisce, coach? No, he doesn’t. “I appreciate you bringing that up,” the Crimson Tide coach said, grinning.

    The Commodores won that one 30-21 but have lost the 17 subsequent meetings with the Tide entering Saturday’s game, the league opener for both teams.

    Now, Alabama (1-0) has John Parker Wilson, a sophomore quarterback making his second career start. A meaningless coincidence?

    Tide linebacker Terrence Jones sure hopes so. He knows Alabama fans don’t soon forget — or forgive — losses in such a traditionally lopsided series. After all, Alabama is 41-2 against the Commodores (0-1) since 1961. The two teams haven’t met since 2002, but it’s all about perception. “If you lose to Vanderbilt, it’s probably going to be a real tough blow to your confidence,” Jones said. “Everybody doesn’t give Vanderbilt enough credit for what they do. They see them as the worst team in the SEC. But if you lose to them, people will start to think bad about you.”

    No joke. Vanderbilt is a quality university but is only technically in Alabama’s league. Losing to Vandy would be an embarrasment for the Tide and something the Vandy players would be telling their grandchildren about.

    Indeed, it’s odd to me that the Commodores didn’t follow the Tulane Green wave off (in 1966) to a conference more their speed. Vandy would be quite competitive–a force even–in something like the Mountain West. They’re good enough to give the SEC boys a tough fight every now and again but they will never win a conference title. That they’re the SEC’s only private university makes them an even stranger fit.


    Air Force Passes Muster as At-Large Entry

    Lee Jenkins thinks Air Force deserves to be in the Big Dance.

    The hard-liners who say Air Force does not belong in the N.C.A.A. tournament point to the team’s strength of schedule, rated 158th by the computers. The sentimentalists who say Air Force does belong in the N.C.A.A. tournament also point to the team’s strength of schedule, starting every day at 6 a.m.

    That is when the Air Force Falcons put on their uniforms — sometimes dress blues, sometimes fatigues, sometimes flight suits.
    Most of their sport is still asleep. Generally, college basketball players are like any other college students, hitting the snooze button and skipping breakfast. At Air Force, players march with their squadron to the mess hall for a buffet of eggs, potatoes and orange juice. They need a head start. Most players take six classes each semester, including Practical Advanced Aeronautical Engineering. They spend the summer flying planes and jumping out of them. They participate in combat survival training and ponder whether they will be sent to Iraq after graduation. If time permits, they manage to shoot some hoops.

    Of course, the N.C.A.A. tournament selection committee is not supposed to take curricular activities into consideration. In theory, the selection process is devoid of emotion, based mainly on power ratings and conference indexes. But by selecting Air Force as an at-large entry, the committee recognized a program that faces some of the stiffest challenges in college basketball, even if those challenges are not reflected in the Falcons’ strength of schedule.

    Air Force is playing under its third coach in three years. Most members of the team did not get a scholarship offer from another Division I college. A few did not even start in high school. Yet they are achieving more than any basketball team from a service academy has since David Robinson was throwing down dunks for Navy. Air Force is seeded 13th in their bracket, the lowest of any at-large entry, prompting inevitable backlash. The Falcons (24-6, 12-4 Mountain West Conference) have been criticized for playing too soft a schedule, for losing in the first round of the conference tournament, for taking a bid away from a more deserving team.

    “I think it’s funny when people hate on us,” Antoine Hood, an Air Force guard, said Wednesday. “We do so much more than your average college basketball player.” Take, for instance, the week that Hood was ordered into a forest with a rabbit, a chicken and nothing else. He had to sustain himself for eight days on only the rabbit and the chicken — killing them, skinning them, cooking them. “You call your boys at other schools and they tell you about the parties,” Hood said. “You don’t want to make those calls too often.”

    Jeff Bzdelik, the Air Force coach, might have the toughest sell in the country. His recruiting pitch has to go something like this: Come to an isolated academy in Colorado Springs that is 10 percent female, does not allow underclassmen to be off campus after 7 p.m. on weekdays and requires a permission slip to wear a T-shirt to a football game. Graduate and begin a mandatory five-year military obligation, leaving little chance to ever play professional basketball.

    The few who signed up for the deal will face fourth-seeded Illinois (25-6, 11-5 Big Ten) on Thursday in a first-round game in San Diego. “Most of us know that basketball will only take us so far,” forward Jake Burtschi said. “We are setting ourselves up for something more.”

    Uncommon foresight is required. Air Force routinely loses recruits to Division III programs. They lost one head coach, Joe Scott, two years ago to Princeton. They lost another, Chris Mooney, last year to Richmond. Princeton, with its high academic standards, can seem a difficult place to recruit, but “it’s still a lot easier than at Air Force,” Scott said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

    True enough. There’s no doubt Service Academy life is something unique in college athletics.

    Of course, most hoopsters at the big schools won’t be receiving an active duty commission, either. It’s not entirely clear why the obstacles cadets endure have a bearing on whether they should ace another, more talented basketball team out of the NCAA tourney.


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