Thursday, August 09, 2007

Five Good Questions with Andy Hamilton about the Iowa Hawkeyes

Today's "Five Good Questions" is with Andy Hamilton, football beat writer for the Iowa City Press-Citizen.....Andy covers the Iowa Hawkeyes and took some time to respond to some questions about this season's Hawkeyes....

Q1. The Hawkeyes will have a new starting quarterback this year after the departure of Drew Tate. Who do you see as the starter, sophomore Jake

Christensen or red-shirt freshman Arvell Nelson? What type of quarterback are they (pocket passer, scrambler, etc.)? By all accounts, Jake Christensen solidified his grip on the starting job during the spring. He went into the spring with a big advantage over freshmen Arvell Nelson and Rick Stanzi in terms of game experience and understanding of the offense. Christensen spent the spring and fall of 2006 getting reps with the first- and second-team offense, while Nelson and Stanzi only had one fall of operating the scout team.

Christensen is a little bit like a left-handed Drew Tate with his size and ability to move around and buy time in the pocket with his feet. I’m still not sold on his arm strength, and until he performs in big situations you have to wonder how he’ll handle a night game at Wisconsin or on the road at Penn State.

Nelson might have the highest ceiling of the three being 6-4 and probably having the best arm strength and mobility in the group. Stanzi is more of a pure pocket passer. But Christensen is best equipped to start now with the way Iowa is built and his intangible advantages.

Q2. What will be the strength of this year's offensive unit? Who are some players we should keep an eye on?
The strength of the offense should be the running backs and receivers in that order. Albert Young and Damian Sims are both career 1,000-yard rushers. Young is more of a complete back with his blocking, inside running and receiving skills while Sims is a big-play threat who has averaged 5.9 yards per carry the past two seasons. The receivers went from being a liability to an asset over the course of the final three months of the 2006 season. WR Andy Brodell caught 13 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games of the season and Dominique Douglas broke nearly every freshman receiving record in Iowa history last year when he caught 49 passes for 654 yards as a true freshman.

Q3. Defensive end Kenny Iwebema is listed as All Big Ten. What can you tell us about him and the rest of the defense?
Kenny was a first-team all-Big Ten selection as a sophomore in 2005 when he had seven sacks, including two that came head-to-head against Joe Thomas. He was listed by a few publications as a preseason All-American last year, but that turned out to be one of the highlights of his junior season. He missed some time during training camp for an unspecified violation of team rules, served a one-game suspension and then suffered a shoulder injury in the Big Ten opener. He basically played one-handed for three weeks and only had five tackles during that stretch. Finally, they shut him down and he underwent shoulder surgery that sidelined him until the Alamo Bowl. When Kenny’s right, he’s probably the biggest playmaker on Iowa’s defense. With him, they thought they had one of the Big Ten’s best defensive lines last year. Without him and without a healthy Mitch King, Iowa put little pressure on the quarterback last year and had trouble slowing the run.

As a whole, Iowa’s best unit on paper is its defense, provided it can avoid injuries at a couple positions. The first-team defensive line is filled with guys entering their third year as starters. As a whole, the defense has eight starters returning, including both corners and MLB Mike Klinkenborg, who was second in the Big Ten in tackles last season. The biggest questions are the safeties and the depth as a whole. Reserve DT Ryan Bain and FS Marcus Wilson figured to play key roles, but both players left the program during the offseason.

Q4. What is the feeling around campus and the football team after there were high expectations last year only to finish with a 6-7 season?
There seems to be a lot of curiosity about Iowa football right now. I think a lot of fans are wondering whether the Hawkeyes will bounce back and have a season like the 2002 through 2004 years or if they’ll continue to hover around .500 like they have the past two years when they went 13-12. What’s interesting about last year’s 6-7 team was that it was so unlike Kirk Ferentz (photo) teams of the past. It got off to a 4-0 start and then things came unraveled. More specifically, ball security, special teams and in-season improvement have been trademarks of Ferentz teams. Iowa was one of the worst teams in the country in turnover margin last year, the special teams were mediocre at best and the Hawkeyes lost six of their final seven games. Ferentz even questioned his team’s attitude in a loss at Indiana and called the Hawkeyes “fat cats” after they got hammered at home by Northwestern. But after the Alamo Bowl, he said they looked more like an Iowa football team again. All of the circumstances surrounding last year’s puzzling season and a new starting QB have created a lot of interest entering this season.

Q5. The Hawkeyes do not play Ohio State nor Michigan this season. Overall, what do you expect from this year's team? What will their final record be?
Anybody who asks Ferentz about not playing Ohio State and Michigan this year will get his standard answer – he’ll point out Iowa was 2-4 last year against the other six Big Ten teams on the 2007 schedule. I’m not sure what to think of the 2008 Hawkeyes yet. I think they learned a lot of lessons from the 2007 team and Ferentz is confident they got back on the right track during bowl prep and through the spring and summer. But this isn’t a deep team and injuries to Drew Tate, Albert Young, Kenny Iwebema and Mitch King derailed the 2006 team and showed what can happen if Iowa endures a few critical injuries. This team can’t afford an injury at a couple positions and it will have to improve across the board on special teams and especially in the turnover-margin category.

With some progress in those areas and a little luck, it could reach double-digits in victories. But if the offensive line doesn’t create running room for Young and Sims and Christensen has to put the offense on his shoulders like Tate did in 2004, if the defense has an injury or two at the wrong spots and the defensive line performs like it did last season, if the turnover-margin stats and special teams don’t improve, Iowa could be looking at another 6-6 regular season.

I want to thank Andy for his is much appreciated....please note that I will not have a blog on Friday morning because I will be leaving early for a meeting in Columbus...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Five Good Questions with Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal

Today's "Five Good Questions" is with Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal....Joe covers Michigan State sports for the newspaper....I want to thank him for his time....

Q1. The Spartans have a new head coach in Mark Dantonio who was formerly an assistant with Ohio State. What can you tell us about him? Do you think he can start beating Michigan like his mentor Jim Tressel?
Dantonio was a good fit at Michigan State for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that he's been here before -- as secondary coach under Nick Saban from 1995-99 and Bobby Williams in 2000 -- and has a grasp of the political terrain. That gives someone a big leg up at a place like MSU. He also became a hot prospect as the defensive coordinator for Tressel's 2002 national title team; he has proved himself as a head coach, leading three solid years at Cincinnati, a tough place to win; he's an Ohio native with strong Ohio ties, which should allow MSU to recruit there like it hasn't since Saban left; he's defensive-oriented (unlike predecessor John L. Smith); and his personality is serious and businesslike (very unlike John L.).

Can he start beating Michigan like Tressel did? There's no question, Dantonio is embracing the rivalry. He has clocks in the football building counting down toward the Nov. 3 game. But when Tressel came in 2001 and essentially guaranteed a win over U-M right away, he did so with a roster full of inherited talent. It will take Dantonio a while before his teams can compete consistently with the Wolverines.

Q2. The Drew Stanton era is over and it looks like Brian Hoyer will take over at quarterback. What type of quarterback is Hoyer and will there be much of a dropoff at this position?
Inevitably, there will be some drop-off from Drew Stanton. He was a tremendous quarterback, athlete, leader. Hoyer does not have the ability to move outside the pocket and make plays like Stanton did, and he still has a ways to go in terms of intangibles. But he also throws a better ball. That has been clear for a couple years now. And he isn't the chance taker Stanton was -- a trait that hurt Stanton and MSU more than once. Hoyer seemed genuinely excited about the change in offense this spring, because although he'll throw less in the run-based pro set attack vs. John L.'s spread, he may actually throw downfield more. And Hoyer has nice touch and accuracy on his deep ball. Considering the large turnover in Big Ten quarterbacks from last season, Hoyer has a chance to be one of the league's top five signal callers in 2007.

Q3. Running back Javon Ringer was injured late last season. What is his health status and will he be playing full time as the featured back?
Ringer is 100 percent, an amazing thing considering he has severely injured the same knee twice. He will definitely be the featured back, with a legit chance to reach 1,000 yards -- although back-ups Jehuu Caulcrick and A.J. Jimmerson are good, will get carries and make this position MSU's best and deepest by a wide margin. But Ringer is MSU's best football player and it looks like he could have a big year in the new offense.

Q4. Dantonio is known as a defensive wiz. Does he have much talent to work with this year? What changes do you expect to see on defense?
If new defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has anything to say about it, the ridiculous communication errors, missed signals and blown coverages that marked the MSU defense of the past few seasons will disappear. If the Spartans can get there -- to the point where they know their assignments on every play -- the defense should improve overall. There is some talent here, led by free safety Otis Wiley, who heads up a secondary that could be the best at MSU in a few years. SirDarean Adams and Kaleb Thornhill are seniors who lead a linebacking corps with some young talent. But the defensive line could be a major, major problem. Very little proven depth and experience. This is why the defensive numbers might not improve dramatically in 2007.

Q5. Overall, what do you expect from this year's team? What will their final record be?
Considering the schedule -- with Illinois and Minnesota off and Wisconsin and Iowa back on -- a 6-6 record would be a tremendous achievement. That won't be easy, but it's possible if MSU wins its first three at home, takes care of Indiana and Northwestern at home and finds another win somewhere. I can't imagine the Spartans being any better than 7-5 this season -- although no one predicted them to be anywhere 8-4 in John L.'s first regular season. The first year of a new coaching regime often does result in a bump.

Once again I would like to thank Joe for his is appreciated..

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Erin Andrews

If you love ESPN's Erin Andrews, then you have to check out this site...

  • Barstool Sports
  • Five Good Questions with - Neil Milbert of The Chicago Tribune about Illinois

    Today's "Five Good Questions" is with Neil Milbert of The Chicago Tribune....Neil covers Illinois sports for The Tribune and was nice enough to take a few minutes to respond to my questions about the Fighting Illini.....

    Q1. For the first time in about six years, expectations are high with the Illinois football team. Has head coach Ron Zook really sparked a positive feeling around campus?
    Illinois fans have high hopes but their expectations are tempered by what has happened during the previous four seasons. Ron Zook is positive thinking personified and he has justifiably gotten raves for his recruiting. But the fact remains that the Illini have won only two games the last four years (one under Zook's predecessor, Ron Turner, and one under Zook who came to Illiniois prior to the 2005 season). As last season wore on attendance at home games dwindled significantly.

    Q2. Juice Williams (photo) begins his second season at quarterback. What do you expect from him this season? Is he a leader both on and off the field?
    I think Juice Williams will continue to show improvement this season after becoming a starter in last season's fourth game. He has a tremendous arm and he can run the football. But his accuracy last season left a lot to be desired. His leadership qualities are a question mark because this is only his second season on campus. I think he can develop into a leader, both on and off the field. How soon remains to be seen.

    Q3. Illinois shocked the recruiting world last year by snatching two stud high school stars in wide receiver Arrelious Benn and defensive lineman Martez Wilson. How much of an impact will they have on this year's team? How much of an impact will they have in getting the attention of other recruits down the road?
    My expectations are that both wide receiver Arrelious Benn and defensive end/defensive back Martez Wilson are capable of making an immediate impact. Benn can turn some of Williams' incompletions into completions and Wilson will get playing time because the defense, which was much improved last year, still needs some help.

    Q4. How does this year's defense look? Who are the players we should keep an eye on?
    The defense should be even better because three members of the line and secondary and all of the linebackers will return. Linebacker J Leman is one of the best players in the Big Ten, Chris Norwell is a fine defensive tackle and Kevin Mitchell is a very good strong safety.

    Q5. Do you think the Illini can pull an upset against either Penn State, Michigan, or Ohio State? Overall, what do you expect from this year's team? What will their final record be?
    I don't forsee Illini upset victories against Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State, even though the first of those are home games. The team will be improved but the record for the last four years is indicative of how much improvement will be needed to get over the hump. I think the improvement will translate to a 5-7 record. If the Illini manage to win three of their conference games they have shot at being 6-6, which would be a tremendous improvement.

    Q5a. I have to ask you this extra question. This will be the first football season without Chief Illiniwek. What is the overall views around campus now that the Chief is gone?
    Alumni and students are still mourning the forced retirement of Chief Illiniwek. It will take years for many of them to get over it and some will never get over it. Illinois football and basketball games won't be the same without him.

    Once again, I want to thank Neil for his time....

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    Interview with Bill Livingston of the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer about the AFC North

    On Wednesday, August 1st, Stiles Points conducted a telephone interview with (Cleveland) Plain Dealer sports columnist Bill Livingston....I want to thank Bill for his time - it was greatly appreciated....the AFC North was the focus of the interview.....

    Q1. Why has the Cleveland Browns franchise struggled since it came back into the league in 1999?
    BL: I think the (Carmen) Policy/(Al) Lerner ownership team was over-rated. I think Lerner would do whatever it took to win because he wanted to restore his good name in town. (Former NFL Commissioner Paul) Tagliabue set up this marriage with Policy (photo). In my estimation, Policy would admit he was not a football man. Policy brought Dwight Clark over who made some horrendous personnel decisions and draft choices. I feel that Policy brought him over basically because Clark would not say anything about salary cap violations that took place with the 49ers. That is just my theory. Also, they were under a severe time deadline. (Former head coach) Chris Palmer was like the sixth or seventh choice as coach. But they missed on so many draft picks - not just (Tim) Couch and Courtney Brown.

    Then (Butch) Davis came in and started taking high risk guys. It was a continual process with Davis making up for his mistakes from the year before such as taking "Big Money" Gerard Warren, whom I call "Pocket Change" and I should not have even called him that because he was never in the pocket (after the quarterback), instead of LaDainian Tomlinson. Then the next year they took (William) Green because they did not get a premier running back the year before. I think it was a combination of the rushed circumstances that it took to sell the team and just not a good management team with Policy and Clark right off the bat. They had a great number of middle round draft choices that they missed on and that is where you really build your team.

    Q2. Do you think current general manager Phil Savage is taking the organization in the right direction?
    BL: Oh I hope so. I think he just wants to go out and scout basically. He is not that consumed by the business side of being a general manager. I certainly like the draft that they had this year. It is kind of amusing to me that he (Savage) speaks about all this character then he takes guys like Eric Wright and Jamal Lewis. I don’t really see the Indians and Cavaliers who also make a big deal about character taking risks like that. But maybe those teams are not that much behind the eight ball as the Browns are. Plus it is a lot easier to contend when you have a LeBron James or Grady Sizemore.

    Q3. Speaking of Butch Davis (photo), do you think he was a good coach who was just in a bad situation here in Cleveland or was he not cut out to be an NFL head coach?
    BL: My thoughts on Butch is that he had an enormous credibility gap inside the locker room and outside it in the end. I think he was not straight with players. I think his constant spinning and playing his own draft picks when obviously they were not going to be anything special hurt him. The way he would talk up his guys to protect his position in the organization. I think everyone saw through that and not a whole lot of people believed him in the end.

    Q4. Browns fans hate to hear this, but why do you think the Steeler organization is more effective?
    BL: They have a very solid, very stable ownership. After a real slow start, the Rooney family has been solid. I am not a native Clevelander but I understand the rivalry (between the Steelers and Browns) and how tough it is to see a team that is a two hour drive away winning so much but I don’t think the hatred should extend to the Rooney family. The Steelers voted for the Browns, perhaps it was self-serving to some extent because of the rivalry, but I think the Rooneys can be trusted to do the right thing and I don’t think you could have ever said that about Art Modell and you cannot really say it about the Lerner family because he (Al Lerner) midwifed the move. Now, that doesn’t mean the son (Randy) has to pay for this for years and years. But I didn’t think the slate was wiped clean when Al Lerner bought the team. The team sucks because you moved the team.

    Q5. What are your views about Randy Lerner (Al's son and current owner of the Browns)?
    BL: Oh I think he is in a tough position. He wants to win. I don't think he has a strong personality but you don't have to as an owner as long as you pick the right people. I would like to see him be successful on a personal level. He promised his dying father that he would try to make this work. Plus, there is no fun in covering a constantly bad football team. We used to have a little pool in the pressbox when the Indians had that ‘99 team of who would score more, the Indians or the Browns. Also for some time, maybe the first couple of seasons that the Browns came back, there was this great trivia question. Who has won more in Ohio - the Cleveland Browns or Tiger Woods? Between the tournament in Akron and (Jack) Nicklaus' tournament in Dublin, Tiger had the edge for awhile.

    Q6. The Steelers begin a new era under new head coach Mike Tomlin. What do you know about Tomlin?
    BL: I don't know much about him. I would think this is a year of transition for them (Steelers) with a new coach and Big Ben (Roethlisberger) coming off his worst year when nothing went right for him. I would not expect them to be a premier team this year. But you know, they (as an organization) have always had these slipbacks but they always come back right away. You have to admire the stability of the organization.

    Q7. You've heard the rumors, Bill Cowher (photo) will be the next head coach of the Browns. What do you think about that?
    BL: I don't know if Cowher would come here. If so, they would have to work out what to do with Phil Savage. Would Savage become a super scout for the team? I am sure Cowher would probably want Butch Davis type power if he was going to come to Cleveland with the franchise is such disarray that it is. Although there is some building blocks now. The bottomline, I don't think he is going to come to Cleveland. When you think of it, who is the premier player with the Browns. Kellen Winslow is a very good player but he's difficult to deal with and he is never going to be the player he was after those injuries. Compared to the Indians with Sizemore and (Victor) Martinez, and (Travis) Hafner, and (C.C.) Sabathia and with the Cavaliers with number 23, right now, who is a good return for your entertainment dollars? It's not the Browns.

    Q8. What are your thoughts about Romeo Crennel? He seems like a nice guy who may not be head coaching material.
    BL: I think he should have made more of a public display with Braylon Edwards last year when he went to the Ohio State-Michigan game without permission. He (Crennel) supposedly took care of it internally, as they say, but he did not get the message across publicly that he is in control and would not tolerate it. One of the curses of Cleveland is that we do not hire established head coaches in any of the three sports. Mike Fratello was probably the last head coach who was established when he was hired. It is always trying to catch lightning in a bottle with the new guy. Hiring Romeo was a lot like the organization did when they hired Bud Carson. Romeo has the experience and knowledge, but does he have the fire and determination and eagerness of a younger head coach? I don't know. Right now I would say Romeo Crennel is in serious danger of being sacked after this year, if not before.

    Q9. I am going to throw out a few names of people from the AFC North and you tell me the first thing you think of.
    Carson Palmer - BL: Oh I think he is going to be very good. I picked the Bengals to go to the Super Bowl last year but they fell victim to a plague of lawlessness. I think he is for real. I am not sure he was entirely sound after the injury he suffered in that playoff game. I believe if that knee injury did not happen, Pittsburgh would not have won the Super Bowl. I think the Bengals would have beaten them in that first game. I think he is legit. I think he is the best quarterback in the division.
    Jamal Lewis - BL: A big problem for him is that he won't be able to run against the Cleveland Browns anymore. The offensive line is better and hopefully he has a more productive season than (Rueben) Droughns did when he had 1,000 yards. But we'll see.
    Brian Billick - BL: I think he is over-rated. He is this offensive guru who won with one of the greatest defenses ever. He has never really developed a quarterback even though he is supposed to have this Midas touch. But, you have to give it to him that most years his teams are right there in the hunt. I consider him over-rated though.
    Troy Polamalu - BL: I think he is a very good player. He's the type of player that the Browns fans hate because he is a Steeler but I think they would love him if he played here. He is an immediate visible player with that hair.
    Bernie Kosar - BL: First of all, retrospectives have certainly shown that Bill Belichick was correct that he (Kosar) could no longer perform at a high level anymore. I thought he was the perfect guy for Cleveland at the time. A city that was down on itself at the time got this kid who loved the town. He wanted to be here. People love players like Kosar or (Brian) Sipe, those scrappy type of players. That is the romance of sports. They capture the fans' hearts. He was probably the last guy who was the face of the franchise.

    Q10. Talking about Kosar, how come he has not had an active role in the organization since its return in 1999?
    BL: Well, I really don't understand that either. One of the things that really bothered me about the Policy/Lerner camp was that they got Kosar's endorsement of their ownership, but I guess Kosar did not get anything in writing. I don't know what type of promise he got, but he certainly thought he was going to be involved in ownership. It was the Modell ownership all over again. There was one star on the franchise when Modell owned the team and that was him. Ernie Accorsi used to say, "don't quote me too much" because it took away from Arthur. Policy wanted to be the star. He was a ten percenter as Wayne Embry used to disdainfully speak of minority partners. I think they did have some concerns about Bernie's willingness to be involved on a daily basis because he wanted to still live in Florida. Overall, I think Policy wanted to be the dominant voice of the Browns. It's a shame though. It should have happened.

    Q11. What are your thoughts about the off-the-field problems with the Cincinnati Bengals?
    BL: They need to clean that up because it looks like this commissioner is not going to tolerate that type of behavior. I always thought there was every bit as much, and more so, thugishness in the NFL than there is in the NBA which has such a bad reputation. In the NFL you are farther away from the players, they wear helmets and uniforms that you cannot see their tattoos and all the dreadlocks and other racist assumptions. But as far as the Bengals, they have the parts to be a very good team as long as Palmer gets back to where he was two years ago.

    Once again I want to thank Bill for his was a joy talking to him about football...

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    Stiles Points - The Sunday Baker's Dozen - August 5, 2007

    Sunday Fact - The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio for three reasons: 1) the American Professional Football Association, later named the National Football League, was founded in Canton on September 17, 1920; 2) the Canton Bulldogs were an early-day pro football power, even before the days of the NFL. They were also the first two-time champion of the NFL in 1922 and 1923. The great Jim Thorpe, the first big-time athlete to play pro football, played his first pro football game with the Bulldogs in 1915; 3) Canton, Ohio citizens early in the 1960s launched a determined and well-organized campaign to earn the site designation for their city.

    San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Gwen Knapp writes that after 3 decades, Hank Aaron now shares the homerun throne.... "Barry Bonds, the most captivating, daunting, polarizing baseball man of his generation, joined Aaron, a supporting character in the era of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, as king of the home run Saturday night." .....
  • Gwen Knapp

  • San Diego Union-Tribune sports columnist Tim Sullivan writes that for the most part, athletes will seldom speak out against another athlete.... "To accuse him (Bonds), however, is to betray the brotherhood, to violate the code of the clubhouse and, perhaps more to the point, to invite investigation of your own affairs." ....
  • Tim Sullivan

  • The New York Times sports columnist Jack Curry writes how a little extra batting practice may have helped Bonds.... "So, in a serene atmosphere, Bonds worked on relaxing at the plate, on hitting the ball the opposite way and on not trying to blast home runs." ....
  • Jack Curry

  • A-Rod hit number 500 who is the lucky person who caught the historic baseball.... "A lucky Rutgers University graduate student - a lifelong Yankees fan and a season ticket holder - made the catch of a lifetime . . . "
  • New York Post

  • A few years ago Billy Beane was the wunderkid after the publication of "Moneyball" some of that glow has come off as former Athletic Milton Bradley unloads on the Oakland general manager..... ""Billy (Beane) just has a way of thinking he's smarter and better than everyone else, and I don't take kindly to the better-than-you attitude,'' Bradley said at Petco Park before the Giants played the Padres." .....
  • John Shea and Susan Slusser

  • He may not play for the New York Yankees, but Francisco Estevez may have the best seat at Yankee Stadium.... "His seat is so close to the Yankees' dugout, he can reach out and high-five a player sitting at the end of the bench." .....
  • Vincent M. Mallozzi

  • New York Daily News reporter Anthony McCarron writes how Yankees catcher Jorge Posada is finally playing without worrying about his son who was ill.... "Posada and his wife, Laura, cried and prayed and stood in amazement at their son's toughness through eight different operations, some of which took about 10 hours. Jorge Luis was born with craniosynostosis, . . ."
  • Anthony McCarron

  • Dallas Morning News football columnist Rick Gosselin writes about Michael Irvin's emotional night at the Hall of Fame.... "Then came some very personal and emotional apologies for his failures off the field during the 1990s – the parties, the women, the drug arrests. He spoke directly to his wife, Sandi, bringing a tear to her eye." .....
  • Rick Gosselin

  • Buffalo News sports columnist Jerry Sullivan writes how Thurman Thomas may be the most deserving Buffalo Bill to make the Hall of Fame..... "There are rare times in this job when you permit yourself to step outside the boundaries of objectivity and be an unabashed fan. This is one of them. Tonight, I get to root like crazy for Thurman Thomas." ....
  • Jerry Sullivan

  • Dallas Morning News reporter Barry Horn writes how the players from the 1977 Dallas Cowboys are hurting..... "Almost 30 years after limping through Super Bowl XII – his final NFL game – Mel Renfro walks with an artificial left hip. His right knee needs to be replaced. Arthritis has settled in his shoulders and ankles. Damaged vertebrae have robbed his neck of movement. Sunlight often triggers headaches." ....
  • Barry Horn

  • Arizona Republic reports Bob McManaman writes how former Michigan defensive tackle is using Mel Kiper as motivation during this rookie year..... "Branch said, among other things, he would "make Kiper eat his words." ...
  • Bob McManaman

  • San Francisco Chronicle reporter Bruce Jenkins reflects on Bill Walsh's first Super Bowl team - a team that won with defense.... "The 1982 Super Bowl made heroes out of Fred Dean, Hacksaw Reynolds and Dan Bunz, who made that epic tackle during an unforgettable goal-line stand. My lasting memory of that team, though, is the secondary - perhaps Walsh's master stroke as a talent evaluator." ....
  • Bruce Jenkins

  • The San Francisco Chronicle has a PDF file of the Bill Walsh coaching tree....
  • Bill Walsh Coaching Tree