Friday, August 03, 2007

Five Good Questions with . . . Wendell Barnhouse about the TCU Horned Frogs

Stiles Points is previewing various "small schools" who can possibly make some loud noise come bowl season ala Boise State last season....Wendell Barnhouse of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram responded to my five questions about the TCU Horned Frogs.....

Q1. First off, what can you tell me about head coach Gary Patterson? He has been at TCU for 6 years with a 54-20 record. But is he is defensive or offensive minded coach? How come he has never taken a bigger job?
Patterson is a firebrand-type coach, emotional and animated on the sidelines. So far, that has been a positive more than a negative. Ever since the Southwest Conference disbanded and TCU was not included in the Big 12, the school has had a chip on its shoulder (particularly in regard to football). Patterson fits perfectly in that mind set. His background is in defense and the signature of his TCU teams has been speed on the defensive side of the ball. Patterson seems to be content at TCU; it appeared the Kansas State job would be a food fit (he’s from Kansas) but he never campaigned for that job. Unless and until TCU reaches a BCS bowl, Patterson doesn’t believe his work is finished.

Q2. Every preview magazine has TCU's defense as the best in the Mountain West conference. Who should we keep an eye on? Are there any NFL potential first or second rounders on that defense?
Senior defensive end Tommy Blake (photo - left) is considered the top defensive player in the Mountain West. He’s a disruptive force who could be in line for some post-season awards if he plays like he has the last two years. Chase Ortiz, a senior, book ends the defensive line. He and Blake could be the best DE duo in the nation. Blake and Ortiz probably will be gone on the first day of the NFL Draft. As mentioned earlier, TCU’s defense is all about speed. Defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas’ 4-2-5 alignment basically is four linemen with seven LBs ... or seven DBs, depending on the situation. The players in the back seven can all run and hit.

Q3. How does TCU's offense look this year?
The Frogs must replace Jeff Ballard at QB. All he did was win 90 percent of his starts. Ballard was tough and efficient. His replacement will be either sophomore Marcus Jackson or red shirt freshman Andy Dalton. TCU wants its QB to manage the game and avoid mistakes. The offense relies on its running game; junior Aaron Brown averaged 5.2 yards per carry last season and should be the work horse. TCU’s receivers are solid and the offensive line has three returning starters.

Q4. On September 8th the Horned Frogs play at Texas. Is there any chance for TCU to pull the upset? What must they do if they want to win this game?
TCU can win this game, but it will be a huge challenge. The Frogs have defeated Oklahoma and Texas Tech recently but winning in Austin against a top 10 team might be a stretch. TCU would have a better chance if it had a veteran QB. To beat Texas, the Frogs’ defense needs to rattle UT quarterback Colt McCoy and force some game-changing turnovers.

Q5. TCU beat Oklahoma a few years back, but what must they do to be nationally recognized? How are the football facilities?
Like Al Davis says, “Just win, baby.” TCU has more football history and more of a national name than Boise State. It’s logical that if TCU could go undefeated and win a BCS bowl, it would get as much or perhaps more attention than Boise State did last year. What TCU has done the last six years is amazing and comendable (particularly when you look at the lean years in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. The lack of national recognition comes from not winning a meaningful bowl game.

Over the past decade, TCU’s football facilities have improved greatly. Weight rooms, football offices, an indoor practice facility (named for former Frog great Sam Baugh and opened this past spring) indicate the school’s commitment to football. Amon Carter Stadium needs a facelift and that’s next on the “to do” list.

I want to thank Wendell for his is much appreciated...on Monday, my interview with sports columnist Bill Livingston of the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer and his thoughts about the AFC North...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

College Football at its Best - Michigan Wolverines

The last feature in the College Football at its Best series is the Michigan Wolverines.....the editor of the blog M Go Blog was gracious enough to respond to my questions....however, in a little twist today, I too am going to give my responses being that Michigan is my favorite team....I usually try to stay unbiased on this blog, but today I am going to have a little fun too....
  • M Go Blog

  • Q1. What is Michigan football most known for - the winged helmets, The Victors, or The Big House and why?
    MGoBlog: Uh... wow. I have no idea. I think we can eliminate the Big House. It's a big fricking stadium, yes, but there are many stadiums close enough to it that it's probably not the biggest deal of the three. Now you are forcing me to choose between the helmets and the fight song and I'm not sure if I like this anymore. I... ah. The fight song? Sorry, helmets.
    Rstiles: Honestly, they are known for all three which is why the Wolverines are one of the most unique football programs in the country....ultimately, I would have to say The Victors....even John Phillip Souza ranked The Victors as the greatest fight song in the country....

    Q2. What is the greatest Michigan football game that you have seen whether it be in-person or on television?
    MGoBlog: In terms of how riveting and amazing the game was probably the 2005 Rose Bowl against Texas. Which you will not that we lost. A true freshman slinging four touchdowns, Vince Young blooming, and a 37 yard field goal that ticked off the inside of Ernest Shazor's elbow but still went through the uprights. It was a hell of a game.
    Rstiles: I have been attending Michigan games with my father for the last 15 years....I was there for the Kordell Stewart Hail Mary and when Woodson brought the punt back against Ohio State....however, the best game that I saw was in 1997 when Michigan went to play at number 1 Penn was a late afternoon game in November and it was drizzling and cold....I sat in a small pocket of Michigan fans and watched as the Wolverines dismantled Penn State the end of the game, the players came over and acknowledged the was so great to be singing The Victors and knowing that we had a chance to be #1 when the new polls came out....

    Q3. Who do you hate more as a rival - Ohio State or Michigan State?
    Ohio State. Michigan State is a big rival in basketball and hockey, but they've never been good enough to be a serious rival in football. It's just not that exciting to beat them. You hate losing to them, but that's not enough.
    Rstiles: I live in Ohio....that says it all.....I hate Ohio State with a passion!!....95% of the Ohio State fans are the most arrogant, pompous, drunken fans in the nation....what is this crap with "The" Ohio State's a freakin state school - but they act like it's Yale or Harvard....OSU fans and their coach think the college football world revolves around Columbus.....that is why I hate Ohio State....I believe the people who live in Michigan don't truly understand the hatred of this rivalry.....if Michigan loses to Ohio State, it's no big deal....the Michigan fans need to start taking this rivalry more serious because the Ohio State people certainly are....I was at the The Game two years ago in Ann Arbor when Michigan choked and lost the game in the last 30 seconds....when I was leaving Michigan Stadium, I literally wanted to puke when I saw Michigan fans tailgating and laughing after the game.....I'm not saying burn the town or verbally abuse your opponent (like they do in Columbus), but there should have been more disappointment and disgust with the Michigan that time we just lost to our rival for the second straight year and it just seemed like no big deal to many Michigan fans....

    Q4. Since 1970, who are the five greatest players to wear a Michigan uniform and why?
    MGoBlog: 1. Charles Woodson (photo) - As the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman he beats out...
    2. Desmond Howard - Who also has a Heisman.
    3. Anthony Carter - Convinced Bo to throw the ball some.
    4. Braylon Edwards - Seriously under consideration as Michigan's best wide receiver ever. I still think Carter beats him out.
    5. Tyrone Wheatley - I don't know how his professional career collapsed so abruptly, but God he was huge and fast and just ran past and through and over people.

    Rstiles: 1. Charles Woodson - he may be the best player to ever wear a Michigan uniform...he did everything - defense, offense, special teams.....
    2. Braylon Edwards - he was the best wide receiver ever at Michigan....yes I know Anthony Carter was special, but Edwards could take over a game....just ask Michigan State....
    3. Desmond Howard (photo) - he was Mr. Excitement.....but he will always be remembered for striking the Heisman pose in front of the Ohio State fans after bringing a punt back for a touchdown....
    4. Rick Leach - he was Michigan’s first true quarterback under Bo.....Bo loved the kid and even trusted him to throw a few times during the game....
    5. Jim Harbaugh - he was the toughest son of a bitch, he hated Ohio State.....Jim Tressel would not be 5-1 against Michigan if Harbaugh was the quarterback.....

    Q5. Make your case why Michigan football, as a whole, is the best football program in the country?
    MGoBlog: Michigan has a fairly easy time of this: more wins than any other team, the highest winning percentage in college football, the largest stadium, best and most recognizable fight song, best and most recognizable helmets, and so forth and so on etc etc. It probably isn't the best in terms of on-field results, if we're being honest with ourselves, but Michigan is the old school power that has maintained its winning form the most consistently over the past thirty years.
    Rstiles: Michigan is one of probably the top 5-7 programs in the country.....Michigan does not have that arrogance like Ohio State and their plastic fake head coach who thinks everything is the best in Columbus.....Michigan is built on tradition and at times, it hurts the football program because they are too worried about showing class....I don’t want the Wolverines to be arrogant like in C-bus, but they lack that nasty streak that some programs have such as Southern Cal or the hey days at The U.....I’m not saying Michigan should recruit thugs, but they lack that bad ass mentality where they strike fear in an the end, Michigan is about doing things the right's about's about toughness....and there wasn't any tougher son of a bitch than Bo....."Those Who Stay Will Be Champions"....

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    College Football at its Best - Florida State Seminoles

    Today Stiles Points gets a little tag team action as Jerry (JScott) and Ralph (Nafselon) give their views about the Florida State Seminoles as part of the College Football at its Best series.....Jerry is a 24-years-old and has been blogging at various sites while Ralph is 30-years-old and been blogging for a year.....if you want the lowdown on the Noles, check out their site.....
  • Tomahawk Nation

  • Q1. What is your opinion about Florida State using the Seminole as its mascot?
    Let me preface this answer by stating I'm a Caucasian Male so I can't really speak for Native Americans, but I think our School's use of the Mascot is done in a respectful and historical manner. If I were a Native American, I would feel proud that my heritage is being displayed in such an honorable way. I know it's only a Mascot, but when a young kid asks his father/mother where the Mascot originated from, it gives a continuing legacy to the culture that is being a
    Native American. I could understand the frustrations of protesters of the use of the Mascot if Florida State only used the "Seminole" as an athletic symbol. That clearly isn't the case when you step foot on Florida State's Campus. There are several Statue's erected to explain the
    significance of the Seminole Tribe and its connection to Florida State University students, staff, and educators.

    nafselon: I'm on the fence. The University has always had the blessing of the Seminole tribe and they have a great working relationship. At the same time, I think certain elements, whether it be the chop or something else, might be examined more closely in the future if problems arise.
    I do think the University should continue to be proactive in maintaining good relationships with the tribe and continue to pay honor to their heritage.

    Q2. What is the greatest Florida State football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television? Explain the game and why it was so great.
    Admittedly the game was on Television for me (We used to eat at my grandmothers house every Thanksgiving, so FSU-UF games were always a Television Tradition for me and my father): Florida State 31 Florida 31 .... "The Choke at Doak" It was one of the greatest fourth quarter comebacks I have ever witnessed. Who am I kidding, it was hands down the GREATEST FSU game I had ever seen to date. The Gators beat the living hell out of us for the entire first three quarters and led us by 28 points at the start of the 4th quarter. However, my Seminoles scored 28 points in the final quarter to tie the game 31-31 (Back then there was NO Overtime). Me and my father just looked at each other in amazement as to what we had just witnessed. We wanted Bobby to go for the win, but we knew the team had tried to hard for gimmick plays. I will never ever forget that game. Who would have thought Danny Kanell could have led such an attack.

    nafselon: Probably the 1998 Florida-FSU game which is also known as "the Outzen game". As it turned out the winner of the game was going to go to the BCS Championship. It was probably the loudest Doak crowd in recent memory and frankly, Florida was the better team on paper, so in some ways it was an upset. I remember the FSU defense holding Florida to 0-of-11 on third downs, something that NEVER happens to a Spurrier-coached team. Peter Warrick and Travis Minor had excellent days. It was one of my favorite and most memorable days in Tallahassee.

    Q3. Who are the Seminoles most hated rival - Miami, Florida, or Virginia Tech?
    JScott: Hands DOWN it's the Florida Gators from Gainesville. It's an absolute Non-Contest. I rarely hung around arrogant Hurricane fans growing up, but boy did I grow up with some of the Rowdiest Gator fans alive. My Buddy actually got an Albert (UF's Mascot) tattooed on his lower calf (of course the artist forgot to FILL IN the EYE, hah). Aside from the Fan-to-Fan Rivalry growing up, you just knew that there was going to be a great display of passion (aka fights) on the field (before-during and after FSU-UF games). I mean, you couldn't have further extremes in terms of coaching as you did with UF and FSU growing up. You had Steve Spurrier who was a whiny SOAB, but did he ever have a game plan (and a killer instinct). Bobby on the other hand, was the good ole boy southerner who could do no wrong. I think the Stadiums being right on Campus add a little flair to the Rivalry. Most of all though, it has to be the distance between the schools. Gainesville is what, an hour away, "spitting distance" as we like to call it. Over the years, Florida players and Florida State players have gone to great lengths to prank the opposing in State University. Florida players used to put LIVE gators in the Noles Locker room (whether that's a tall tale, I'll never know, but it would be enough to piss me off, figuratively and literally). Anyway, UF is HANDS DOWN, Florida State's absolute most HATED Rival.

    nafselon: Virginia Tech? FSU's most hated rival is Florida. FSU's most intense rival is Miami. I'll explain. Florida fans suck, I mean they are just a bunch of clowns and they could win the next 20 football and basketball national titles and they'd still be a bunch of clowns. Look at how they turned on Billy Donovan when he decided (and later reneged) on going to the Magic. They weren't any "thank yous" and good lucks" for the coach that led that sullen basketball program to the promise land. Instead they insulted him, his family and his integrity (the latter is certainly questionable, but still). Spurrier left because they had the nerve to criticise him after an 11-2 season with a BCS Bowl victory! So they are a bunch of thankless jackasses. They will turn on Urban Meyer too, you watch.

    Now onto Miami. I don't hate Miami. I see Miami and FSU much like feuding brothers. I respect the Hurricanes success on the field. I respect their bravado, it's well-earned. I think when FSU and Miami get together on the field you're going to see a high-intensity, high-quality contest that drives both teams to the brink. I've been disappointed by Miami on several occasions, but usually the Hurricanes went on to win the national title afterwards so I can't hate them. The programs truly mirror each other in terms of talent they recruit, speed, etc. When Miami isn't playing FSU, I root for Miami, when Miami is good, college football is better for it. I expect Randy Shannon to do a good job there if he can get over a few hurdles.

    Q4. Since 1970, who are the five greatest players to wear a Florida State uniform?
    Warrick Dunn - he's my favorite All-Time Nole. Just the way he carried himself on the field and off the field, the way he would look tackled and then break away for a 60+ yard gain, and he just has a great (sad) life story. He should definitely write a book one day, if he hasn't already.

    Charlie Ward (photo) - One of the most spectacular Quarterbacks I have ever seen play the collegiate game. A class act in society, head strong, and a delight to watch play. Winning the Heisman also doesn't hurt. It's a shame he didn't play NFL ball.

    Peter Warrick - My goodness was he a freak-of-nature. The way he reversed fields was Barry Sanders like. I'll never forget his performance in the Sugar Bowl. I can't believe his career in the NFL was wasted by the Bengals.

    Deion "Neon Deion" Sanders - He basically gave birth to the Warrick Dunn's, Charlie Ward's and Peter Warrick's of Florida State. Those guys had to come to FSU because of Prime Time. He was/is a great performer. I remember making my mom take me to a local Barbeque Shack to get his autograph (only he left EARLY).

    Snoop Minnis - I'll let everyone clean off their computer screens .... the logical pick would have been Chris Weinke, Derrick Brooks, or Anquan Boldin, but Snoop Minnis to me (the fan) was an absolute joy to watch play the game. He was like our watered down version of Marvin Harrison. Honorable Mention for me: Greg Jones, Andre Cooper, Kendyll Pope, Sam McGrew (Wakulla Bias), Matt Friar.

    nafselon: Charlie Ward: First Heisman winner, QB of first national title team. Great leader, always been a great representative of the University.

    Chris Weinke: Second Heisman winner, QB of second national title team. An individual with great heart. He battled back from a major neck injury to win 24 of his final 26 games when he didn't have to. He had already invested his money from baseball in real estate and could've sat back and left the contact sports to someone younger.

    Ron Simmons: Probably the first great dominating defensive player in the University. He set the stage for Odell Haggins and Corey Simon and the other great nose guard/defensive tackles. He was also the first black WCW pro wrestling heavyweight champion. Can't put a price on that.

    Deion Sanders (photo): Ask 100 different people and get 100 different opinions on Deion. But he was a great showman, a great talent and he brought that swagger to the program that started the ride of 14 straight seasons in the top 5.

    Q5. Make your case why Florida State football, as a whole, is the best football program in the country?
    It's impossible for me to make that case. Mainly because FSU is not the best football program in the country. It's not even the best football program in the state of Florida (Miami owns that right with all of the Nat'l Titles and NFL Pro's they have produced and I would argue that Florida falls in right behind Miami. I have 52 reasons to support that cause). I would argue with anyone, that Florida has the BEST COLLECTIVE FOOTBALL PROGRAMS in the country. They may not always walk the "straight and narrow path", but they more than hold their own against out-of-state competition.

    nafselon: I would have to agree with JScott on this subject.

    I want to thank Jerry and is much appreciated...tomorrow the Michigan Wolverines will be the last team featured in the series...

    Tuesday, July 31, 2007

    Culpepper signs with Raiders

    ESPN reports that the Oakland Raiders sign former Vikings and Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper.

    Bill Walsh - The Real Genius

    The San Francisco Chronicle's Tom FitzGerald writes the news story about Bill Walsh...... "A master of using short, precisely timed passes to control the ball in what became known as the West Coast offense, he guided the team to three Super Bowl championships and six NFC West division titles in his 10 years as head coach." ....
  • Tom FitzGerald

  • The San Francisco Chronicle devotes a tribute page to Walsh.....
  • Tribute Page

  • The San Francisco Chronicle's Michelle Smith covers the days when Walsh coached at Stanford.... "Walsh spent his final years in Stanford's fold, playing roles of teacher, counselor, fundraiser, cheerleader and administrator." ....
  • Michelle Smith

  • Los Angeles Times football reporter Sam Farmer writes how Walsh was a perfectionist.... "Bill Walsh was a perfectionist who refused to be hurried. I learned that the hard way." .....
  • Sam Farmer

  • Marv Levy recalls giving Walsh his first break in football..... "It was 1960, after Levy took over California, when he was looking to fill out his staff and happened upon Walsh by accident." ....
  • John Wawrow

  • The Oakland Tribune dedicates a page to Walsh.....
  • Oakland Tribune

  • Seattle Post Intelligencer's Clare Farnsworth talks with Walsh disciple Mike Holmgren..... "Mike Holmgren admits that Bill Walsh wasn't always easy to like, but the Seahawks coach definitely respected the man who was his first boss in the NFL and eventually became his mentor and friend." ....
  • Clare Farnsworth

  • The Boston Globe’s Mike Reiss gets a few comments from Bill Belichick about Walsh.... “One of the greatest challenges of my career was coaching defense against Bill Walsh.” ....
  • Mike Reiss

  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bryan Burwell writes about his first encounter with Walsh..... “The first time I saw Bill Walsh at work, he was cussing up a storm.” ....
  • Bryan Burwell

  • Mike Klis of the Denver Post gets reactions from the Broncos camp about the death of Bill Walsh.... “Indirectly, Walsh had great influence on how Mike Shanahan operates the Broncos.” ....
  • Mike Klis

  • Sports Illustrated’s Peter King writes how Walsh changed the game of football..... “Walsh's words: "Football is detail work. It's teaching. People in baseball may disagree, but I think football is the real thinking person's game and I think that's what you'll see in this book. Coaches and players know that today, but that's not how it used to be. I'd like to think that my coaching successes have had some effect in changing the image.” .....
  • Peter King

  • Dennis Green’s son, Jeremy Green of Scouts Inc., writes how Walsh was a master of evaluating talent..... “One of the things I used to love about hanging around the 49ers' facility was the amount of game tape that was available. It was around 1980 that I decided I wanted to work in player personnel. I never wanted to coach. It was evaluating players that I came to love.” ....
  • Jeremy Green

  • ESPN’s Ivan Maisel writes how new Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh got to know Walsh for even a short time..... “Walsh had an office in the Stanford athletic department, and came in as recently as early this month, according to Harbaugh.” ....
  • Ivan Maisel

  • Washington Post columnist Mike Wise looks at the various layers of Walsh..... "Joe Gibbes told a story in his office the other day. It started out about Dexter Manley and humility, but it ended up saying more about Bill Walsh, beyond the cerebral professor of the sideline we solely made him out to be." .....
  • Mike Wise

  • College Football at its Best - Tennessee Volunteers

    The Tennessee Volunteers is the featured team as the last days of the College Football at its Best series approach....Joel from the blog Rocky Top Talk took some time to respond to the me, he is a "geezer" in the blogging world.....he is currently 1996, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee College of Law and got bit by the Big Orange bug....

  • Rocky Top Talk

  • Q1. Why does Tennessee hate Steve Spurrier so much? Did you actually miss him when he coached in the NFL for two seasons?
    Steve Spurrier is
    El Diablo. He fell from the heavens of East Tennessee to the lake of fire in Florida, and as a coach in the 1990's, he was a thorn in our flesh more than any other single individual. Not only did he win, but he won badly, needling Tennessee's coach, its teams, and its fans in the process. Spurrier's line "You can't spell Citrus without 'UT,'" a dig on Tennessee's usual consolation prize after losing to the Gators, has become a pop culture reference point.

    Spurrier is iconic, as evidenced (1) by the fact that at
    Rocky Top Talk, when we discuss the South Carolina football team, we simply refer to it as "Steve Spurrier," and (2) the prevalence of Spurrier-related Hail Mary Haikus the week before the game against . . . Steve Spurrier . . . last season.
    Did I miss him? Oh, yeah. Like
    Orson once said, "we like our villains legitimately threatening," and the scarier it is out there, the more fun it is when you win.

    Q2. What is the greatest Tennessee football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television? Explain the game and why it was so great.
    I'd have to say it was the six overtime game against Arkansas in 2002. It seemed like the game started just after second breakfast and lasted until the wee hours of the next morning. Not much happened the first half, with both teams doing well defensively and Tennessee coming out on top with a 10-3 lead.
    The third quarter was more of the same, and we finally started pulling away in the fourth when Jabari Davis had a really nice 58-yard TD run to extend the lead to 17-3. Breathing room, or so we thought.
    But then the drama. Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Razorbacks scored their first TD. They held us and started their next drive at their own eight yard line. On the first play, one of our defensive backs blew an assignment, and Arkansas QB Matt Jones – who looks like he's moving really slow until you realize that nobody's catching him – threw a 92-yard touchdown pass to some completely wide open receiver. Score tied 17-17. This one's going to OT.

    The teams traded field goals for the first overtime. And the second. And in the third OT, disaster struck for both teams. First, Tennessee running back Derrick Tinsley fumbled the ball, giving possession to Arkansas without the Vols even being able to attempt a field goal. The unpardonable sin in overtime. All Arkansas had to do was hit a 38-yard field goal. But . . . wobble, wobble, wobble . . . no good. He missed it, barely. On to OT No. 4.

    Matt Jones was the first to score a TD in OT, but he couldn't make good on the required two-point conversion. We then scored our own TD . . . and also missed on our two point conversion. Argh.
    In OT No. 5, we scored a TD first, but again couldn't convert on the two-point attempt, and Arkansas followed suit, scoring their own TD. When they threw it into the end zone for the two-point play . . . we intercepted it. No. 6, coming up.

    At this time, I was frantically yelling instructions to my wife over my cell phone with one finger jammed into my ear up to the knuckle, trying to get her to understand that she needed to extend the recording time on the VCR. I don't think she got it. In fact, I'm relatively certain that she thought I was calling from an interstate ditch in the throes of death. "AAAAHHHH! NEEEEED MOOOORE TIIIIIIME!" It was loud, okay?

    Anyway, Arkansas got the ball first in the 6th overtime, but we backed them up toward mid-field. They did hit a 47-yard field goal before giving us our shot, so, you know, at least they didn't fumble. But on our first play, Casey Clausen hit Jason Witten streaking down the middle of the field for the game-winning score. Once he hit the checkerboard, he stopped, pointed to the sky in jubilation, and was absolutely mobbed by his teammates. The stuff of goose bumps.

    But wait. Maybe that wasn't my favorite game. Maybe it was the five overtime game against rival Alabama. Or the 1998 National Championship over Florida State. Or the
    Rally in the Valley against LSU when Rick Clausen – Nobody's All-American – and Tennessee kicked a team while it was down in full view of its rabid fans and a sympathetic nation. There are just so many great memories of Tennessee games to choose from.

    Q3. Who do you consider Tennessee's biggest rival - Florida or Alabama? (explain)
    To me, it's Florida.
    Kyle once observed that the team that a fan generally considers to be its biggest rival often depends on either geography or age, age being the term he used to refer to the formative years of fanhood. In other words, if you were getting beat up by Alabama while you were first becoming a Volunteer fan, you'd most likely say that the Crimson Tide is Tennessee's most bitter rival. But we've mostly had our way with them for the past decade, and since I really started following Tennessee in 1996, I'd have to go with Florida, as they always seem to be between us and our dreams, taunting us mercilessly the entire time. It's evened out a bit over the last several years, including the last couple of years of Spurrier's reign of terror, but neither team has alpha-rolled the other, so it's still a mutual, seething hatred.....

    I want to thank Joel for his time.....tomorrow the Florida State Seminoles are the featured program....

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    Bill Walsh - 1931 - 2007

    Bill Walsh
    1931 - 2007
    Stiles Points will have extra coverage on Tuesday surrounding the death of legendary head coach Bill Walsh. I will have links from all around the country. You will be one click away from reading about the Hall of Fame coach.

    College Football at its Best - LSU Tigers

    Stiles Points wraps up the series College Football at its Best this week with five straight profiles over the next five, the spotlight goes on the LSU Tigers...the editor of As the Valley Shook took his time to respond to the questions...

  • And the Valley Shook

  • Q1. Explain the mystique of night games at Tiger Stadium and the pure noise. Also, why does LSU wear white jerseys at home?
    First of all, some background from "Since 1960, LSU is 202-59-3 (.771) at night in Tiger Stadium compared to a 19-22-3 (.432) record during the day over that span."

    That link is

    So yes, the Tigers tend to perform much better at night than during the day. Maybe it's the sheer heat during the day that makes the fans a little more muted during the down times of day games, and the lack of that makes the atmosphere electric from start to finish at night. Who knows. But give a bunch of Louisiana folks 10 hours to drink, eat, and drink some more, and you're bound to have a more rabid fanbase by 7pm than you would for the typical 2:30 CBS Prime Time slot.

    Regarding the white jerseys at home, some would say it's just that the lighter colors help ward off the heat, but it's actually a little more in depth than that. In fact, trusty wikipedia has a good background on it:

    "LSU is one of the few college football teams that wears white jerseys for home games. The tradition started in 1958, when Coach
    Paul Dietzel decided that LSU would wear white jerseys for the home games. LSU went on to win the national championship that year. Since then, LSU continued to wear white jerseys at home games. Then in 1982, new NCAA rules forbid teams from wearing white jerseys at home. Because of this, LSU wore purple jerseys during home games from 1983 to 1994. In 1995, LSU's new coach, Gerry DiNardo, was determined to restore LSU's tradition of white home jerseys. DiNardo personally met with each member of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, lobbying LSU's case. DiNardo was successful, and LSU again began wearing white jerseys at home when the 1995 season began. In LSU's first home game with the white jerseys, unranked LSU staged a stunning 12-6 upset victory over #6 Auburn. In 2000, LSU's new coach, Nick Saban, altered the tradition of the white home jerseys: now LSU only wears white jerseys for the home opener and for home games against SEC opponents. For non-SEC home games other than the home opener, LSU wears purple jerseys at home."

    Q2. What is the greatest LSU football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television? Explain the game and why it was so great.
    Greatest in-person Tiger game I've ever seen (and I was at our BCS National Championship victory over Oklahoma) would have to be the win at Arizona State in 2005. It was our first game after Hurricane Katrina, and the game had been moved to Tempe as a result of LSU's campus being used as a staging ground for the National Guard; the campus would not remotely be able to accomdate 92,000 fans for a football game.

    A boatload of Tiger fans made the trip from South Louisiana (I fortunately only had to hop out from Los Angeles). While it was great just to see the Tigers in action again after eight months off, the game was frustrating for Tiger fans for the first three quarters as we were more or less thoroughly dominated by ASU. All seemed lost when suddenly in the fourth quarter the Tigers special teams blocked a punt and a field goal and returned them both for touchdowns, giving us the lead and instantly making it a contest. The Devils, however, continued shredding our secondary and it was back-and-forth for the rest of the game, until on a 4th down with a minute to go at the Devils' 40 yard line, JaMarcus Russell heaved a pass into the endzone where a falling-out-of-bounds Early Doucet managed to grab it with a foot in, sealing the victory. Just an all-time great emotional high.

    Q3. Who are the Tigers most hated rival - Arkansas, Alabama, or Ole Miss?
    There's no question now, it's Alabama. Anyone can sum it up in two words: Nick Saban.

    Q4. Since 1970, who are the five greatest players to wear an LSU uniform?
    Hmm, beyond #1 it's a tough one. I'll go with:
    1) Tommy Casanova, 1969-1971 (Safety, 3-time All American)
    2) Kevin Faulk 1995-1998 (RB, All American and LSU's all time rushing leader)
    3) Charles Alexander 1976-1978 (RB, two-time All American)
    4) Bert Jones 1970-1972 (QB, All American)
    5) Josh Reed 1999-2001 (WR, All American)

    I hate making that list, given I had to leave names off like QB Tommy Hodson (4-year starter, LSU's all-time passing leader), a heap of All American defensive linemen over the past decade (notably Booger McFarland and Chad Lavalais), and guys like LaRon Landry (4-year starter, including as a freshman on our national championship team).

    Q5. Make your case why LSU football, as a whole, is the best football program in the country?
    We aren't the best football program in the country right now, so I won't make that case (my vote would go to USC). But we are damn close. Since 2000, we have won one national championship (2003), two SEC Championships (2001, 2003), slaughtered two consecutive highly ranked opponents in bowl games (#9 Miami 40-3 in the 2005 Peach Bowl, and #10 Notre Dame 41-14 in the 2007 Sugar Bowl), finishing in the top ten four times in the past six seasons (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006). I don't have time to sort every year right now, but I think the only other schools who can make that claim are USC, Texas, and Ohio State. Maybe Oklahoma, but we've had more recent success ( i.e. consecutive top 5 finishes). Regardless, it's a mere handful of schools with a track record remotely equivalent to ours in the 21st century. It's a very short list, and we're clearly on it.

    I want to thank And the Valley Shook for his time...tomorrow we stay in the SEC once again and focus on the Tennessee Volunteers...

    Here are a few links to stories that I found in Sunday newspapers...

    St. Louis Dispatch reporter Joe Holleman writes about co-worker Rick Hummel who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday to the sportswriter wing of the museum... "To beat writers, ballplayers and bartenders, Post-Dispatch baseball scribe Rick Hummel has been an unofficial legend for years. On Sunday, it’s official"....

  • Joe Holleman

  • Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist Ron Cook writes about former Pitt head coach Johnny Majors who is moving from Pittsburgh back to Tennessee.... "Some people go through life without ever having a real home. Majors, 72, is lucky; he has two." ....
  • Ron Cook

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates are closing in on being one of the losingest franchises in a sports history....
  • Pittsburgh Post Gazette

  • The New York Times Richard Sandomir writes about Mindy Ellis, the person who sculpts the faces on each Baseball Hall of Fame plaque.... "The spacious first-floor gallery where the plaques bearing the bronzed likenesses of 278 inductees hang here at the National Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame is part mausoleum, part fan’s paradise." ....
  • Richard Sandomir

  • (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reporter Doug Lesmerises writes about Phil Steele, the independent football guru who produces the football preview magazine.... "Twenty-five years after starting a football betting tip line from the back of his parents' house, the 1979 John Marshall High grad produces one of a handful of major college football preseason magazines." ....
  • Doug Lesmerises

  • Sunday, July 29, 2007

    The Sunday Baker's Dozen - Sunday, July 29, 2007

    Sunday Fact - Tony Gwynn will be the second San Diego Padre inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame - Dave Winfield is the other.

    Ultimately, its not Barry Bonds who hits the ball over the wall, but the bat....The New York Times Jack Curry writes about who makes the bats for Bonds..... "Holman described Bonds as a genius of a hitter and said he expected him to be consumed by every detail about the bats." .....
  • Jack Curry

  • ESPN's Jayson Stark proves that opposites do attract - just look at who is going to be behind the microphone calling Barry Bonds historic homerun..... "Shouldn't we devote at least one small sector of cyberspace to the man who has made history in the most diametrically opposite way possible?" ....
  • Jayson Stark

  • As a kid, Dontrelle Willis used to chase after Barry Bonds' homerun balls - now he is pitching to the guy.... "When Bonds met Willis for the first time, he offered the young pitcher one piece of advice: "He told me to just continue to smile," Willis said." ....
  • Lee Jenkins

  • Another renegade professional football league looms, but this time with a college twist..... "The league, whose planned opening is May 2008, will mostly play in college towns using players who played for the local college teams and did not make an N.F.L. roster." .....
  • Ray Glier

  • Everyone knows Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn are being inducted into the baseball hall of fame today - but don't forget about Denny Matthews too.... "After careful consideration, he explains his style as "Midwestern, laid-back, tell it like it is," and, now that he thinks about it, that's a pretty good description of his personality, too." ....
  • Sam Mellinger

  • Newark Star-Ledger's Dave Hutchinson writes that New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington is finally feeling healthy.... "Training camp -- and all its trappings, good and bad -- is once again a safe haven for Jets quarterback Chad Pennington." ....
  • Dave Hutchinson

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports columnist Gene Collier writes how the NFL coaching fraternity has changed... "The median career win total for the 32 current NFL coaches is 35. For the moment, four 9-7 seasons would put you in the top half of this either unremarkable if partially untested class." ....
  • Gene Collier

  • New Orleans Times Picayune reporter John De Shazier writes how Saints wide receiver Marques Colston will let his play on the field do his talking.... "When you have talent, there's no requirement to run your mouth as well as you run routes, and Colston, from all appearances, doesn't have to say a word if he doesn't want to." ....
  • John De Shazier

  • Kansas City Star reporter Jason King writes that the buzz at Chiefs training camp is the impending arrival of not Larry Johnson, but Priest Holmes.... "Holmes' impending arrival — and even more so, his attempt at a comeback — have been the buzz of training camp thus far." ....
  • Jason King

  • Why can't an officiating scandal happen in the NFL?....the Boston Globe's Mike Reiss talks with a former NFL official.... "I can't see it happening in football," said Terry Gierke, who served as an NFL official from 1981-2001. "I think it would be awfully, awfully hard for that type of situation where an official deliberately makes calls that went against the grain of the game." ....
  • Mike Reiss

  • The worst team in the NFL last season starts fresh at training camp.... "And so, football's losingest team arrived in Napa with the mind-set of an undefeated team. At the very least, they arrived spunky and unrepentant." ....
  • Oakland Tribune

  • Martyball is over in San Diego, and the players are ready for their new coach and his style.... "There was a speech most every day before meetings, during stretching, after practice. His voice rose and fell, even quaking at times. His eyes would often well with tears." .....
  • Kevin Acee

  • The run for the presidency has now included talk of Hillary's cleavage....
  • Washington Post