A Brief History of Beloved College Football Fight Songs

Penn State's Blue Band always gets Beaver Stadium roaring for the Nittany Lions when the enter the field.

Penn State’s Blue Band always gets Beaver Stadium roaring for the Nittany Lions when they enter the field.

Fight songs are a popular way for fans to cheer for their team. College football fans in particular love fight songs. A college football fight song is an instant way to get fans charged up to almost a fever pitch. Almost every college has a college football fight song. I have a CD I recorded of my 31 favorite college fight songs (more than one from some schools) that I listen to in my car primarily to fire up on my way to a game – drives my wife especially nuts but not in a positive way.  I’ll also play them on the way into work once in a while to get fired up for some meeting or a tough day that I may be anticipating. I even like some fight songs from schools that I would never root for, but I just love to hear them because they are so moving and create such a great atmosphere! It’s part of that “electricity in the air!’

One of the great pregame band traditions in college football as Ohio State forms Script Ohio as they play "Le Regiment".

One of the great pregame band traditions in all of college football as Ohio State forms Script Ohio as they play “Le Regiment”.

I didn’t know this, but the oldest one is Boston College’s “For Boston.” It was composed in 1888 by T.J. Hurley. I like the fact that “Anchors Aweigh” was originally composed as the U.S. Naval Academy’s official fight song in 1906.  The music was composed by USNA Bandmaster Charles A. Zimmerman and Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles wrote the lyrics. It was first sung at the Army-Navy game of 1910 where Navy won that game for the first time in 10 years, 10-0. Later, George D. Lottman changed the lyrics to represent the entire Navy at large, and not just the academy, to use it as the primary U.S. Navy March.  Every college football fight song has its own unique history. I don’t have the time or space to go through all of them so I’m going to take a look at seven other special college football fight songs, give you their origins. Five of these seven are on my CD.

  • University of Michigan, “The Victors”. It was Thanksgiving Day 1898. Michigan beat the University of Chicago 12-11 in a nail biter that topped off University of Michigan’s undefeated season. It also secured the school’s first conference title. Music student Louis Elbel was so inspired by the win that he wanted to do something special for his school. He believed that Michigan needed an epic song to capture the feeling. So, “The Victors” was born. With its recognizable chorus, Elbel got John Philip Sousa, the man behind “Stars and Stripes Forever” to play it at a concert stop in Ann Arbor in 1899. The following May, the school band played the song for the baseball team after they returned from a successful road trip. President Gerald Ford, who played football for Michigan, loved this college football fight song so much that it was played at his funeral in 2007. This is definitely a “must-have” in any collection of fight songs.
The Michigan Marching Band performs during halftime at The Big House.

The Michigan Marching Band performs during halftime at The Big House.

  • Florida State University, “The Marching Chiefs.” In the October 6 edition in the year 1950 of the Florida Flambeau, FSU’s school newspaper, a poem, written by grad student, Doug Alley appeared. Tommie Wright, a very capable musician, saw the poem and put the words to this college football fight song to music that very afternoon. Wright put the original score in his office drawer, where it remains to this day. The song will become part of the public domain in 2025. I love the “Seminole War Chant” myself.  That gets me fired up in the company parking lot before heading into the office.
  • Louisiana State University, “Fight for LSU.” Huey P. Long, a very popular Louisiana governor, loved LSU. He and Castro Carazo, the university’s bandmaster, collaborated on “Touchdown for LSU” in 1934. Long wrote the lyrics and Carazo did the music. After Long was assassinated the very next year, Carazo wanted to honor him. He teamed up with swim coach W.G. Higginbotham and co-wrote “Fight for LSU.” The song is so well-loved that when assistant band director Eric Melley went on the field for the SEC opener, the crowd was so loud, he could hardly hear the band. Now, that’s a college football fight song you can be proud of!   Not on my CD, but I did have chance to hear the LSU band practice in their indoor facility in Baton Rouge when a colleague of mine from work, Diane, was able to invite me in since her kids were in the LSU Marching Band when I attended their game against Mississippi State in 2008.
  • University of Alabama, “Yea Alabama!” The school held a fight song contest in October 1925. The winner was Ethelred Sykes. Sykes won $50 for his effort. A noted writer at the school, Sykes was also The Crimson-White editor. Sykes didn’t keep the money he won, however. Instead he gave it to the band to arrange the song. The resulting, “Yea Alabama!” replaced “The Alabama Swing” and “Glory, Glory Alabama.” To this day, if you just hear the first five notes of this classic college football fight song played by the band in what’s called “The Teaser,” the crowd goes wild. The first time I heard it in person was at Legion Field sitting with my Auburn friends. They left out the “Yea” and replaced it with something else.
Alabama's hated rival Auburn marches down field to their fight song, "War Eagle!"

Alabama’s hated rival Auburn marches down field to perform their fight song, “War Eagle!”

  • University of Oklahoma, “Boomer Sooner.” You can trace the origin of this college football fight song back to Yale’s “Boola Boola” and North Carolina’s “I’m a Tarheel Born.” In 1905, Arthur M. Alden, an OU student, put Yale’s tune to new words. The following year, he adapted the lyrics of UNC’s fight song. The combination is a winning one. In fact, in 1983, when the Sooners were down and almost out – 20-3 in the third quarter – the band played the song over and over for more than an hour. The Sooners fought back from sheer force of will and the guidance of this song to win 21-20. They even gave the game ball to the band for their help. I love this song. It still always makes me think of OU when they ran the wishbone while I was watching Sunday morning highlights on Sunday mornings on ABC’s College Football Report during the 70s. They would show highlights of five games and do some feature as Bob Murphy, New York Mets broadcaster, read the script for each. I remember they even once did the Delaware vs. West Chester game. It was a great hour of college football highlights before the pro games kicked off. Never saw much of Minnesota play on TV, but I got to love hearing “Minnesota Rouser” as a soundtrack during highlights.
Minnesota Rouser played before the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.

“Minnesota Rouser” played before the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl by The Golden Gopher Marching Band.

  • University of Georgia, “Glory, Glory to Old Georgia.” In the 1890s, Georgia’s band started to play the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but switched the words “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” to “Glory, Glory, Georgia.” In 1915 Hugh Hodgson, who eventually became music chair at the University, wrote the arrangement Georgia uses to this day. Georgia’s college football fight song is shared with songs performed by both Auburn and Colorado. When they face Auburn, the bands join together in the halftime show, playing the fight song conjointly.
  • University of Wisconsin, “On, Wisconsin!” This college football fight song’s history began in a boardinghouse parlor in Chicago in 1909 when two friends, William “W.T.” Purdy and Carl Beck, a UW student, wrote the song together. Purdy wanted to enter it into the University of Minnesota competition because there was a $100 prize, but somehow Beck got his way and the song made its’ appearance in Wisconsin. The song is so popular that over 2,500 schools in Wisconsin use it. It also is Wisconsin’s official state song, having been so adopted in July of 1959. I think about 50% of high school bands in New Jersey play this as their fight song.  All the Catholic schools play the “Notre Dame Victory March“.  My school was unique. Our band played the “Princeton Cannon Song“, but with better lyrics -“There is a banner in the sky, The streaming red and black…”  I can hear the band playing and the voices singing it now. At Juniata College, the Alma Mater, our small band, when it came to a game, would play a rousing version of the Budweiser Beer Theme song.   That says it all!
Princeton and Brown bands play nicely together at halftime. The Ivy Leaguers are proud to differentiate their band from the big-time football schools.

The Princeton and Brown bands played nicely together at halftime in 2014. The Ivy Leaguers are proud to differentiate their bands from the traditional big-time college football schools.

 As you can see, college football fight songs have interesting histories. They are created by people who love the school and love their school’s fight songs. If you’ve got a college fight song history or anecdote to share, please let me know. I’d be happy to hear it.

Favorites from among teams we will see play this year:

Army – On Brave Old Army Team

Michigan State – Falcone Fight

Navy- Anchors Aweigh, The Goat is Old and Gnarly

Notre Dame – Victory March; Hike, Hike, Hike!

Ohio State – Script Ohio; Le Regiment; Across the field

Penn State – Fight on State!

The Navy and Air Force Academies' Drum and Bugle Corps combined to play at Navy - Marine Corp Memorial Stadium at last year's game.

The Naval and Air Force Academies’ Drum and Bugle Corps combined to play at Navy – Marine Corp Memorial Stadium at last year’s game.

Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season

Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season

Fifteen years ago: We reviewed our Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season 15 years ago to get us hankering for our exciting 2016 season less than two weeks away!

Rather than analyze the remaining teams on our 2016 schedule that we haven’t previewed yet, we’d like to first take you back to some of our five to ten year anniversaries of seasons following up with our 2011 season memories with these from our Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season. We’ll share some great memories and for this season some significantly tragic ones off the field that impacted this particular season. The memories tie together with some of our plans for the upcoming season as our historical trek continues. It’s a trip back along our historical path of college football games 15 years ago to get ready for 2016 by remembering a small sampling over our 37 college football seasons spanning some of the 507 games we’ve attended before we start our new season.

On Sunday, August 26, 2001 we kicked off the Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season at Giants Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands with the 19th annual Kickoff Classic played in the venue that was leveled and replaced by MetLife Stadium (we liked the original, demolished stadium much better) in 2010. Preseason No. 10 Georgia Tech, off a 9-3, 6-2 record from the previous year, started the season looking forward to challenging powerful Florida State for the ACC championship at least. The Syracuse Orange, coming in at 6-5, 4-3 from the previous year, came to represent the late Big East filling in an obligational berth to fulfill the Classic’s requirement to be assure each major conference was represented within agreed to time constraints to be represented. The Orange weren’t expected to amount to much that season. Tech got off to a 10-0 lead by halftime, but the Orange finally came up with seven half way through the third period. The SU defense led by Senior DE Dwight Freeney held the Yellow Jackets to a FG late in the same stanza. Tech RB Joe Burns helped control the balance of the game keeping the ball on the ground in the final period eating the clock and taking the win back to Atlanta in a very uninspiring “classic”. The Tech season did not land them in the 2001 Top 25 as anticipated. They finished 8-5 including a loss to Florida State late in the season who only finished at 8-4. The Jackets played their final game in the now defunct Seattle Bowl where they defeated Stanford.   Surprising Maryland took the ACC with a 10-2, 7-1 record and a trip to the Orange Bowl where they fell to Florida. As for Syracuse, they were a surprise team in 2001 finishing 10-3, 6 -1 overall to finish the season ranked at No. 14. They lost the following week to Tennessee and late in the season to the eventual national champion (read further below), but they came up with a win in the Insight.com bowl over Kansas State. The Orange and the Jackets play each other every few years now as members of the ACC in two different divisions. This year we will see the Orange back in the New Jersey Meadowlands at our Big Tailgate against Notre Dame on October 1st.

DE Dwight Freeney makes a stop vs. Georgia Tech in the 2001 Kickoff Classic.

DE Dwight Freeney makes a stop vs. Georgia Tech in the 2001 Kickoff Classic.

The following Thursday night, I took the family to the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field to see the Temple Owls host Navy. I won’t bore you with the details of Temples 45-26 win, but the highlights we remember with the kids (Alex, age 8 and Eric, age 6) came at halftime with some stunt bike riders putting on a show for the crowd. The next day we went for some thrills of our own on water rides at Dorney Park in Allentown, PA. Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season was a nondescript season for the Temple Owls finishing 4-7. That was a much bleaker season for the Navy football program who finished the season 0-10. We attended a close but sloppily played game by both teams in the Mids’ 23-17 loss when they played Rutgers Scarlet Knights, but for the Mids, the worst occurred as they fell to Army to end their pitiful season, 26-17 (we did not attend). The Rutgers game on October 20 was an embarrassment for both teams as Rutgers entered 1-5 on a five-game losing streak as did the Mids. Despite the win, the Scarlet Knights totaled 18 penalties which didn’t account for five that were declined or offset. HC Greg Schiano’s team also had two costly turnovers by Frosh QB Ryan Cubit in the second half that cut their 20-0 halftime lead late in the game to 20-17 before a 30-yard FG with 57 seconds left finished the scoring. More on RU’s ineptitude that season later. As for Temple and Navy, in 2016 they come off banner seasons with 10-4 and 11-2 records respectively. Both lost key players such as Temple LB Tyler Matakevich who was the American Athletic Defensive Player of the Year now with the Steelers, and Navy QB Keenan Reynolds who was voted fifth in the Heisman balloting and selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL draft. We look forward to seeing both squads play multiple times this season under who we think are two of the best head coaches in the business and for their respective programs – Temple’s Matt Rhule and Navy’s Ken Niumatatolo. Despite the graduation losses, we look for these teams to compete with everyone on their schedules. We will see the Temple Owls host the Cadets of Army on Sept. 2, South Florida on October 21, and then visit the UConn Huskies on November 4 (all Friday night games). As for Navy, we will attend four home games – Fordham on Sept. 3, UConn on Sept. 10, Houston on October 8, and Tulsa on November 12. We will attend Army -Navy for the 11th time (fifth in a row), in Baltimore on December 10. We’re rooting for both to play one another in the AAC championship game, if not this year, in the near future.  Recently, we added another game.  On Saturday, September 17, we will see the Rutgers Scarlet Knights under new HC Chris Ash play the New Mexico Lobos at 12 noon at The Birthplace of College Football in New Brunswick, NJ.

QB Keenan Reynolds (#19) graduated from USNA in 2016, but HC Ken Niumatalolo returns after turning down an opportunity to become HC at BYU after leading the Mids to an 11-2 record.

QB Keenan Reynolds (#19) graduated from USNA in 2016, but HC Ken Niumatalolo returns after turning down an opportunity to become HC at BYU after leading the Mids to an 11-2 record.

Our third game of Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season on Saturday, September 1, marked a significant list of “firsts” in the opener at the new Beaver Stadium in State College, PA between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the visiting Miami Hurricanes fresh off an 11-1 season including a 37-20 win over Florida in the previous season’s Sugar Bowl. Penn State was coming off an atypical 5-7 losing season, but had two big firsts to celebrate this evening in front of a national TV audience. The Beaver Stadium expansion was now complete and they filled it to capacity in front of 109,313 fans anxious to get the season started and turned around by defeating a strong Hurricane program. The next big thrill for everyone in the stadium occurred before the game when injured DB Adam Taliaferro took his first steps on the Beaver Stadium turf since his spinal column injury suffered almost a year before against Ohio State that originally left him paralyzed from the waist down. But with hard work, tenacity, and lot of good people around him, he recovered in time to walk back on the field in front of his team and a packed house on this emotional evening. As for the Miami Hurricanes, it was their first game ever under new HC Larry Coker who had been an assistant under former HC Butch Davis who left to coach in the pros. After finishing at No. 2 at the end of 2000, this would be the Hurricanes first win on their way to the 2001 national championship. QB Ken Dorsey would complete 20 of 27 for 344 yards and three TDs to Najeh Davenport and Jeremy Shockey while Clinton Portis ran for 164 yards on 17 carries. Willis McGahee rushed for 77 yards on 17 as well. On the defensive side, the Canes were stingy with the likes of LB Jonathan Vilma, S Ed Reed, and DE William Joseph on defense. Had I been watching this game on TV, I would have turned it off by halftime to watch Wisconsin vs. Oregon on another channel. It was a 33-7 blowout in the end. If you look at the score of the first ten Miami Hurricanes’ games of 2001, it was one of the closest scores of their season. They would finish 12-0 and defeat Nebraska in the Rose bowl, 37-24, for the National Championship. For the proud Penn State Nittany Lion program, the season was a struggle resulting in its second losing season in a row, the first time in the 36th year of Joe Paterno’s career there as head coach, and only his third overall. Many PSU fans started to question if the old coach was still up to the task of leading this program.   In the second game I attended at Beaver Stadium in 2001, the Lions faced their greatest Big Ten nemesis since they had joined the conference, Michigan. The Wolverines won five of eight against the Lions since they started play in conference since 1993. U of M triumphed at Happy Valley as QB John Navarre threw two TD passes and the defense shut out the Lions, 20-0, for the first home shut out in Happy Valley since Paterno started coaching in 1965. At 0-4,0-3, the loss marked the worst start ever in the history of Penn State football dating back 115 years. The season looked bleak. I had tickets to the Ohio State game in three weeks. I started to consider selling them to someone who might want to go the game, specifically an Ohio State fan. However, after the bye week, the Lions went on the road and surprised No. 14 Northwestern, 38-35. With the win, Paterno tied the career mark of Paul “Bear “Bryant” with the 323rd win of his career. Ohio State was coming to town with a 4-2 record under Jim Tressel. What the heck, I decided. Rather than sell the tickets and go to another game, I had a chance to see history. It didn’t look like that was going to happen as the Buckeyes took a 27-9 lead early in the third on and interception return by CB Derek Ross. PSU QB Zach Mills turned things around suddenly with a 69-yard TD jaunt as he hurdled one would-be tackler on his route. Mills used his arm for the last two scores firing a 26-yard pass to Tony Johnson just over the goal line and a 14-yard TD pass to Eric McCoo early in the fourth before the two defenses shut each other down until the Penn State Nittany Lions led at the final whistle, 29-27. Paterno was the all-time winningest coach and the celebration was on. Despite what you may think about what transpired at Penn State since, it was memorable moment for us having witnessed an historic game in college football that day.

Miami Hurricanes - 2001 National Champs

Miami Hurricanes – 2001 National Champs

September 8 marked another historic event in the annals of our history during our Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season. I contacted my good Auburn friend Charlie Murren whom I hadn’t attended an Auburn Tigers game with in 16 years. Not only was the opportunity then to add Ole Miss as the 67th team toward my goal to see ‘em all, but I figured that I would be attending the SEC debut of QB Eli Manning, son of Archie and brother of Peyton, so that if he ever amounted to anything I could say that I saw him play for the Rebels in his SEC debut. I remember that not only when I watch my favorite pro team, the Giants, play, but I certainly figured I called it right after he led them to two two NFL titles. Like the Ohio State-Penn State game I just reported on, things did not start well for Eli and his offense. They never crossed the 50 against the Tigers on their first ten possessions. An Auburn interception in the third period gave the Tigers a 20-0 lead over the Ole Miss Rebels. Eli displayed next what we’ve seen many times since since that point on. The Rebels actually were denied six points on the next possession as his heave into the end zone caught by Omar Rayford was called out of bounds. Replays on Sports Center all weekend showed Rayford had control in bounds, but in 2001, replay reviews were a thing of the future! Auburn got the ball back and led 27-0. Manning led Ole Miss to three consecutive 80-yard scoring drives including a 50 yard out pass to Rayford, but they fell short, 27-21 in and exciting finish. A few years later, his pass into the end zone would have been six more. Eli was making his mark early. It was fun to be there. My trip to visit Charlie and family and see Eli in his debut ended on a down note flying back home the next day as my flight returned to Atlanta shortly after take-off due to mechanical issues that got me home very late in the evening. Two days later, we were all upset and shocked by three devious air disasters none of us ever could have imagined.

When we aw Eli Manning in action in 2001 for Ole Miss, we figured two things; Eli's coming and so were instant replay reviews.

When we aw Eli Manning in action in 2001 for Ole Miss, we figured two things; Eli’s coming and so were instant replay reviews.

The weekend of September 15 was void of all sports here in the US as we mourned the losses of many people in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania as our country and our ways of life were attacked by a bunch of cowardly, hateful hijackers. Our lives have all changed since with sacrifices by many that went to war and new rules for air travel and precautions as the threats continue throughout the world today. It was very eerie the following weeks. My dentist attended the first NY Jets game at The Meadowlands a few weeks later and talked of how the entire stadium fell silent as the first jet overhead started its approach into nearby Newark Liberty Airport. The games scheduled for the weekend of September 15 were generally rescheduled late in the season depending on whether two teams could find an open weekend. I saw the effects around the country during the rest of my Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season. Games were marked by patriotic events and rallies to show that we were not going to give into fear and terrorism these people thought they could control us with. That isn’t happening – ever.

At the 2014 D3 Mass Maritime vs. SUNY Maritime game in Throggs Neck, NY, first responders and military were honored at the 9/11 game with the new Freedom Tower seen high above New York City a few miles away.

At the 2014 D3 Mass Maritime vs. SUNY Maritime game in Throggs Neck, NY, first responders and military were honored at the 9/11 game with the new Freedom Tower seen high above New York City a few miles away.

On September 22, Band Day at Delaware Stadium was marked by patriotic music and The Fighting Blue Hens carrying American flags as they raced on to the field before the game against Atlantic Ten Conference foe UMass who also brought their band along. You could cut the patriotism with a knife as they say that evening despite both teams entering with 0-2 records. The home team would win big that evening, 35-7, in what was the final season of long-time HC Harold “Tubby” Raymond’s illustrious career coming into this game with 296 wins. UMass would finish the 2001 season with a 3-8 record three season after winning the 1AA national championship under current HC Mark Whipple. We would see the Fighting Blue Hens in their final game of the season, and they will open our 2016 season with a Thursday night game for the third time in four years. This year we will see them host in-state rival Delaware State on Thursday, September 1, in what is now called ” The First State Bowl”.

Our 2016 season will open with the Delaware State Hornets who we will see play for only the second time.

Our 2016 season will open with the Delaware State Hornets who we will see play for only the second time.

In 2001, I stayed close to home on the last weekend of September taking my son Eric and nephew Ben (ages 6 and 7) to a night game at Princeton to see the Tigers host Ivy League foe Columbia. Both were 0-1 entering the weekend. Columbia took an early 3-0 lead, but it was all PU QB David Splithoff after that. In the first half he ran for two scores and in the third period he threw TD passes of 78 and 30 yards to build a 44-3 lead before a final Lion TD for a final score of 44-11. It wasn’t a competitive game (a rare occurrence with Columbia) but over the years, the Tigers play in many thrilling finishes in the Ivy league, win or lose. We usually like to get to at least one Ivy League game a season. Just a few days ago, we change our plans for September 17.  After we see the Rutgers Scarlet Knights take on the Lobos of New Mexico for a 12 noon kick off at High Point Solutions stadium, we plan to venture down to Princeton Stadium to catch the 5 pm Tiger opener when PU takes on Lafayette College in an FCS contest.   I appreciate now more than ever with all the growing FBS commercialism of college football, the experience to see teams playing football on ten consecutive weekends a year to determine one true league champion or co-champs, and that’s the end of it. The total focus is on winning football games – not rankings, commercial time-outs that create three and a half hour games, recruiting violations, juniors leaving for the pros, etc. However, we do hope for the day when the stuffy Ivy league presidents allow their championship football team to enter into the FCS playoffs. Final exams are supposedly the determining factor, but other Ivy League sports champs have access into their post season competitions. Maybe they’re right. Probably are. Damn, I wish they would try it though!     It may not be the best of college football, but most teams are competitive with one another. We enjoy seeing them play. Their games can be as fun to watch as any others, and they are only about winning – what college football should be about.

Our last Ivy League encounter was in 2014 when we saw the Brown Bruins defeat the Princeton Tigers, 27-16.

In our last Ivy League encounter in 2014 when we saw the Brown Bruins defeat the Princeton Tigers, 27-16.

The first travel experience after 9/11 during Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season was harrowing (read about it in Tales from the Tailgate) as I flew across the country in mid-October for my first PAC10 game where No. 7 UCLA Bruins and No. 10 Washington met at the Rose Bowl with identical 4-0 records.   The Huskie’s starting QB Cody Pickett was sidelined with an injury which didn’t bode well for the visitors, but UCLA’s offense got off to a quick start with a two TD runs and a returned fumble recovery for a 21-0 lead late in the first. Bruin RB Deshaun Foster exploded in the second half finishing the day with four TDs and a school rushing record of 301 yards for a school record in the 35-14 win over Washington. This year, we will see our second all PAC12 game when we go to Berkeley to see the Bears host Stanford on November 19.

November 2001 started with a game sitting atop Maryland’s Byrd Stadium looking out toward where I could see our nation’s Capitol Building in the distance reminding me of the devastation attempted there on 9/11. Below, the Maryland Terrapins took care of business hosting the Troy State Trojans as I added them as my 70th team toward my eventual goal to see ‘em all. In the first half, the 7-1 Terps raced out with 509 yards of offense to a 34-0 lead in the first half over Troy in their first season of FBS play. QB Shaun Hill passed for 228 yards and PK Nick Novak booted four FGs before Troy scored two late TDS for a 44-14 Maryland victory. Showed us though that you never know: while the Maryland offense dominated Troy, two Troy defenders eventually became household names later at the pro level – Junior DE Osi Umenyiora and Freshman DE Marcus Ware.

In another game where I was able to add another team toward my goal, a week later with extended family members we went to Storrs, Connecticut to see the UConn Hus host Utah State as my 71st team. The Huskies were in their second season of FBS play as an Independent and started Connecticut native Dan Orlovsky as a freshman as their starting QB. On a cold, snowy Saturday, the Aggies took advantage of the Huskies’ inexperience and led at half time, 28-10. It looked like another disappointing blow-out on hand to add Utah State as a new team. USU extended the lead to 38-10 in the third. However, Orlovsky threw a 34-yard TD pass to Wes Timko. The Husky D held the Aggies. Orlovsky threw another pass for a score. With five minutes left in the game, Orlovsky plunged over from the one to cut the Aggie lead, 38-31. USU’s RB Emmitt White removed an ice pack from his knee and came back in to help eat up the clock before UConn got the ball back for a last minute drive. The inexperience was in evidence though as Orlovsky’s low pass was intercepted by DT Jorge Tapia. The potential blow-out turned out to be a fun, competitive game in the end. We return to see the UConn Huskies play at Rentschler Stadium in East Hartford this season to seem host the Temple Owls on Friday, November 4 in an Eastern Divison American Athletic Conference game. It should be a good one.

In 2015, the Huskies hosted Navy. We'll see UConn visit the Midshipmen this season on September 10.

In 2015, the Huskies hosted Navy. We’ll see UConn visit the Midshipmen this season on September 10. As a Third Class Mid in 1975, UConn came to Navy-Marine Corps as a D2 program.  Their two fans in attendance draped a homemade sheet from the visitor’s side reading, “Navy sucks bilge water.” Navy football won that day,  55-7.  LOL!

On November 17, we attended the final regular season FCS game between Villanova and Delaware. It would be UD Head Coach Tubby Raymond’s final game. Eventual No. 19 Nova defeated the Blue Hens, 19-14. Raymond finished his career though with 300 wins over 36 years that included national championships in 1971, 1972, and 1979. The Wildcats finished 8-2, 7-1 while UD finished with a losing season of 4-6. Despite VU’s 8-2 finish, they did not make the 1AA playoffs, but we did. On 12/1, Eric and I attended the Hofstra-Lehigh game at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem. In it, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks defeated Hofstra’s Flying Dutchman, 27-24, in an exciting game (Hofstra discontinued football since). The following week, LU fell to Furman. That same weekend, I happened to stayover from a business trip to Savannah, Georgia to attend the quarterfinal round between Appalachian State and Georgia Southern. What was of particular interest to me was that GSU HC Paul Johnson was coaching his final season with the Eagles where he ran the triple option. After the season, he would be leaving Statesboro, Georgia to become the head football coach at Navy in 2002. I got a great preview of what was to come for the struggling Navy football program. His Eagles won that day 38-24 to move on to the next round. Like Lehigh, they fell to Furman the following Saturday by a score of 24-17. Furman would fall to Montana in the finale, 13-6, for the 1AA championship. We love the FCS playoffs and will go to a game if one lands conveniently within driving distance to attend this season. We will see other FCS games this regular season including our previously mentioned opener on Sept. 1 between UD and Delaware State and the recently announced game featuring Princeton vs. Lafayette. In addition, we will see Patriot League contender Fordham on September 3 at Navy, and Lafayette at Bucknell in a Patriot League contest on November 21.

We witnessed seven Delaware wins under Tubby Raymond, and the we attended the ceremony after his retirement when the school named their playing filed after the coach who posted 300 wins for the Blue Hens.

Our final regular season game of Collegefootballfan.com 2001 season was the postponed game of 9/15 between the California Golden Bears and Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Former RU Head Coach Terry Shea used his California connections to set up a home and home with Cal before he was fired. Cal made the trip east for the game on Thanksgiving weekend with a 0-10 record as I looked to make them my 72nd team toward the goal to see ‘em all. Some family members and I were among the 18,111 that day to bask in the unusually warm, sunny day that time of year drinking lemonade in the stands to see the Bears challenge the 2-8 Scarlet Knight on their home field. Cal surrendered a school record allowing 421 points already that season. RU’s offense established the lowest scoring point total in school history – 109. Something had to give here. In Tales from the Tailgate, I referred to the action on the field as “a classic game of ineptitude.” In the third, RU closed the score trailing 17-10. In the final 19:14, Rutgers played horribly and California Golden Bears not much better. On a shanked 21-yard punt by RU, Cal at least got a field goal for a 20-10 lead. Rutgers’ sub QB Ted Trump tried to bring the Knights some new life, but threw an INT with 1:33 left. Cal sealed their only win of the season and their last game under lame-duck coach Tom Holmoe. They carried him out on their shoulders. We look forward to seeing the California Golden Bear’s final regular season game of 2016 when we fly the 3,000 miles to Berkeley to see them host Stanford. We may see someone get carried of on their team’s shoulders in this one, but not for avoiding a winless season. We expect this our 2016 season to be fantastic from beginning to end.

RB Christian McCaffery is one of the reasons we expect to see Stanford challenge for the College Football Playoff this year. We will see the Cardinal play at Notre Dame and at Cal in 2016.

RB Christian McCaffery is one of the reasons we expect to see Stanford challenge for the College Football Playoff this year. We will see the Cardinal play at Notre Dame and at Cal in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collegefootballfan.com 2011 season

Five years ago: A look at our past before our exciting, upcoming 2016 season

Rather than analyze the remaining teams on our 2016 schedule that we haven’t previewed yet, we’d like to first take you back to some of our five to ten year anniversaries of seasons past starting with today’s Salvo reviewing our memories of the Collegefootballfan.com 2011 season. We’ll share some great moments and memories that we’ll also tie to some of our plans for the upcoming season. It’s a fun way to get ready for our season by remembering back over 37 college football seasons spanning some of the 507 games we’ve attended entering this season.

We kicked off the Collegefootballseason.com 2011 season with a blow-out of Villanova by Temple, 42-7, on Thursday, September 1. Despite an inter-division game looking unattractive as the opener, the previous season started with the same two teams at “the Linc” in Philly with a last minute win by the Temple Owls in an exciting 31-24 finish. We attended last season’s Temple home opener in 2015 to witness their 27-10 upset over Penn State, their first win over the Nittany Lions since 1941. We’ll attend this season’s Owl opener on Friday, September 2 when they host the Cadets of Army. In 2011, we followed up two days later in 2011 to see LB Mike Groome from our Lenape Valley (NJ) Regional HS lead his Lehigh Mountain Hawks to their first win of many this particular season with a 49-24 win over the Monmouth University Hawks in Long Branch, NJ for our first trip there to see the up and coming FCS program. To finish off our first weekend, we went to the University of Maryland on Labor Day for a night game to watch The Terps under new HC Randy Edsall, formerly the HC coming from UCONN to replace Ralph Friedgen, host the Miami Hurricanes under new HC Al Golden, the former Temple Owl mentor. The Terps came away with a 32-24 win. The result was not indicative of the rest of either team’s season. Maryland won only one more game to finish 2-10 while Miami under probation finished 6-6. How well have these two done with these programs? Well, five years later neither coach will be leading these or any other FBS programs entering the 2016 season.

Three Temple games this season.

Three Temple games this season.

There was a new twist to my schedule planning process for my Collegefootballfan.com 2011 season. My son Eric was playing his junior season on the offensive line as a second teamer for the aforementioned Lenape Valley Patriot football team. So some Saturdays and Friday nights were prioritized by following this great high school football program instead. In general, the combined slates allowed me to enjoy both Eric’s schedule and my annual favorite pastime. On the particular weekend following Labor Day, Eric’s Saturday game limited my collegiate experience to a D3 Thursday night game. I drove up to Danbury, Connecticut to see two D3 programs play for the first time. SUNY Maritime clubbed Western Connecticut, 48-0. I came away with two impressions that still last: 1) The Colonial’s Stadium known as the Westside Athletic Complex was a neat little stadium; and 2) that WCSU was the most unprepared college football team I had seen at any level. They would finish the season winless for the second year in a row. Since then, a new coach and a new conference have righted the program. They’ve won 20 games over the past three years. As for SUNY Maritime, I got to see a home game of theirs two seasons ago. Their stadium sits under the Throggs Neck Bridge connecting The Bronx with Long island in New York City. We look forward to seeing them play again this year on a Friday night when they host their nearby maritime rival, the Merchant Marine Academy from Kings Point, NY. Should be fun and interesting to see a local, seafaring rivalry like this one.

Going back under The Throggs neck.

Going back under The Throggs Neck.

One of the great thrills of the Collegefootballseason.com 2011 season was closely following the Lehigh University football program with a special rooting interest as I and close friends and family of Mike Groome, a senior coming off an all-conference season at linebacker his junior year, played great FCS football. We attended five Lehigh Mountain Hawk games that season including the opener at Monmouth, and we saw the team land five victories against good competition. Home at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, they defeated Liberty of the Big South, 27-14, Yale of the Ivy league, 37-7, fellow Patriot League foe Holy Cross in their closest win of the season, 14-7, and their archrival Lafayette in the most played rivalry in college football history, 37-13. The intensity was brewing in the parking lot before that game played in front of a packed house. Regretfully two Saturdays later, I could not attend their second round FCS playoff game at Towson because of a previously scheduled overseas business meeting. The Mountain Hawks soared to a 40-38 win over the Tigers (still don’t know why they didn’t play this one at Goodman). The following weekend, they lost their second game of the season to eventual FCS champion North Dakota State, 24-0. It would be the first of five straight championships by the Bison since. It was a truly memorable season enjoyed by all of us who followed Lehigh that season. Lehigh (11-2) finished the season ranked No. 5 nationally in the FCS. We recommend the tailgating aspect at Lehigh as well. We especially had a great time with families and friends of the team after most games. In 2014, we attended the 150th edition of the Lafayette-Lehigh rivalry played at historic Yankee Stadium. The Leopards came away with that win, 27-7. There’s a lot to be said about the fun and excitement of following great FCS football. I highly recommend it for fun and low cost family entertainment.

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Another twist to my scheduling during my Collegefootballfan.com 2011 season was to attend a few games at the University of South Carolina – Parents Weekend in particular. My daughter Alex was into her freshman season as a dyed in the wool Garnett and Black South Carolina Gamecock fan already. She and new roommates had their picture taken with fellow Frosh and DE Jadaveon Clowney at their big freshman welcoming party. Because of Eric’s football schedule, my wife, Saint Laurie, went to Columbia to be with Alex while I attended Eric’s high school game at home Friday night. On Saturday morning, he and I flew down Saturday morning and the women picked us up at the airport. Laurie, Eric, and I would drive back on Sunday after a brunch held at Alex’s sorority house. What I was truly excited about was that the Cocks were hosting one of my favorite teams and “partial” alma mater, the United States Naval Academy. I went into this game with somewhat mixed emotions seeing my daughter’s school to whom I was footing the out of state tuition bill against a team and a school I had rooted for since I was a Midshipman there from 1974-76 (buy a copy of my book Tales from the Tailgate to learn more). Though I would eventually transfer for other callings, I am still a big Navy football fan. I don’t think it really struck me that hard until that game that Saturday evening. I especially looked forward to seeing SC RB Marcus Lattimore play. The previous season in my first game at The Swamp in Florida, he impressed the hell out of me in a great Gamecock win. Not only was he strong, tough, and fast, but I don’t ever recall seeing a back use his blockers as effectively as he did. What was this future shoe-in NFL RB going to do against this Navy defense? Eric and I sat in the upper deck surrounded by South Carolina Gamecock fans. I wore my red Collegefootballfan.com #119 jersey and a Carolina Gamecock ball cap I had bought the day at the bookstore. I saw the Carolina spirit before the game. I could hear the cheering for the Gamecocks and how good they were and how they would beat up on this Navy team.  Hell! I couldn’t take it anymore. I was rooting for Navy! How could I not? The Navy D stopped them, I stood up and cheered. Navy scored, I stood up and cheered. Navy led them going into the final period. I cheered as they reversed field. Navy shut down Lattimore for most of three quarters and led with over three-minute remaining in the third period. However, the SC defense finally caught on to Navy’s triple option that held the Mids to three three-and-outs in the final period.   Lattimore eventually rushed for 246 yards on 37 carries with most of the yardage picked up in the second half. He scored the winning TD with 12:45 left. A pick of a Navy pass in the final minute sealed the Carolina victory. Eric just sat there quietly next to me the entire time. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone else or speak to any one nearby. They had their team and I had mine. I wasn’t going to challenge anyone, I just wanted my team to win. In the end, the Gamecocks came from behind to prevail over what was a defensively tough Navy football team. The Gamecocks won it, in an unexpected, close call, 24-21. I was exhausted for rooting for a Midshipman team that came up short but played much tougher than those Carolina fans could’ve imagined. Eric said nothing until he met up with his sister the next day. He said, “Alex, it was weird. Everyone was rooting for South Carolina in our section except for Dad. They were totally confused. Here he was wearing a Carolina baseball hat and a red jersey and he was rooting for Navy. No one said anything to him because they couldn’t figure it out.” Camouflage, I thought. Not that it was intended, but it helped. I had a great time cheering for Navy against South Carolina, and they almost pulled it off in that hostile environment. I didn’t know what would have happened if the Mids had won. I would have been happy, but I would just be sure not to piss off too many people nearby. I knew I was outnumbered.  I probably just would have sat there until they all left. Later in the season, I got to join the Gamecock ranks, however. Our whole family went back down for Thanksgiving to be with Alex. We went to Georgia to have Thanksgiving dinner with our Auburn friends, Charlie and Lynda Murren and extended family and friends. On Saturday, we were back in Columbia for the big Clemson game. Both teams were ranked highly, and I rooted for the school I was investing my daughter’s future in and they triumphed over the visiting Clemson Tigers, 34-13. I blended in this time against the South Carolina Gamecock’s biggest rival and gloated that my team had won.

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Game day at Columbia, South Carolina

I got to see Navy football two more times during that year on consecutive weekends. On October 15, the Rutgers Scarlett Knights squeezed by them at the Birthplace of College Football, 21-20. Rutgers took the lead at 21-17 in the fourth on a 20-yard TD pass to Tim Wright.   Navy then drove to the 15 but could not advance the ball further and settled for a 41-yard FG by Jon Teague. A Navy INT put the Mids at the RU 21, but again the Scarlet Knight defense held and Navy settled for a 34-yard FG, only this time it was blocked. Navy football fell to 2-4. A week later, we were down in Annapolis to see the Mids host East Carolina. Trailing 24-21 into the final period, backup QB Trey Miller subbing for starter Kriss Proctor injured in the first half tried to end the Navy losing streak. However, they could not deter ECU QB Dominique Davis who set NCAA records that day for consecutive pass completions – 36 straight over the course of two games and 26 straight during the first half of this game. The Navy D was weak against the pass. Davis completed 40 of 45 on the day with two TDs and 372 yards. Miller fired two TD passes in the final period to give USNA a 35-31 lead. After that, the Pirates sustained a drive resulting in a three-yard scoring run by Reggie Bullock. On Navy’s final drive, Miller looked like he had connected with his diving WR Matt Aiken who crossed the goal line with the ball in his hands before coming out after hitting the ground. The catch was called incomplete. Navy challenged the call, but it stood per Conference USA officials. With 18 ticks left, Teague came in to tie the game. His kick was high enough and long enough, but it hit the upright and dropped to the ground. Game over. It was the fifth straight loss for the Mids. Of the five, two were by three and two were by one. They’d lose another by three later to San Jose. Southern Miss and Notre Dame would clock them. Finishing 5-7, eight points in all made a difference in four games. It would be the first time in ten years that the Navy football program would not be going to a bowl game. We will attend five Navy games this season including our 11th Army-Navy game against the Cadets of Army, greatest rivalry in college football.

Another Army-Navy battle coming up!

Another Army-Navy battle coming up!

Collegefootballfan.com 2011 season was unique indeed and ended an era, sadly, for Collegefootballfan.com, something that was not planned for or that could even be imagined. Since 1982 when I made friends with my good buddy and Penn State grad John Massimilla, I had attended multiple Nittany Lion football games every year whether they be the played at Beaver Stadium (most were), on the road, at some neutral stadium, or at some bowl game. On average, I’d see three to four games a year mingled among many of the other venues I would plan to go to “see ‘em all”. This season was very different in that I attended only one Penn State game and it wasn’t by design. Their 13-3 win over Iowa wasn’t memorable, but for me it marked the end of an era that I wasn’t aware of at the time. The reality was that It would be the last time I attended a game coached by long-time Penn State Nittany Lion head coach, Joe Paterno. I had also planned to attend the Illinois game on October 29, but due to a very early, unexpected, heavy snow storm in the northeast that brought a foot of snow and crackling, falling, breaking trees and branches making driving and walking all over very treacherous. I refrained from the four-hour drive to State College due to the dangers and replaced my weekly, fall obsession with a local D3 game still challenging the weather. Before reminiscing about that, let me get back to Penn State.

Iowa was my only PSU game attended that season and the very last I would ever see “JoePa” ever coach. There were a lot of great, fun, exciting memories he gave me and other Penn State fans over the years. I attended my first PSU game in 1979 when they “visited” Syracuse at The Meadowlands. He more often than not seemed to do things with his best intentions done with class. Think what you will about Joe Paterno from the distance you can perceive him from now, but for so many years we’d attend those games and always wonder why Joe did this or Joe did that or what was Joe going to do. He built that program into what it was and had a lot to do with the growth and reputation of the great university in the middle of nowhere. He was Penn State despite what others with that school might say. He was an icon of the good things about college football. He was an icon among coaches. He was as proud of his teams’ successes in the class room and life after football as he was about achievements on the gridiron. I can only say now in the aftermath of the crimes that transpired, it’s still hard for me to believe that with all the good he did in public, I can’t believe or understand how he let these things happen under his watch without taking steps to prevent them from continuing, if he truly knew about them. I understand he was dedicated to his team, the school, the program, the players, the PSU students etc. He was “JoePa” for those reasons, but I’m at a loss that he could have let his love of these things blind him from such atrocities had he known about them. It’s all still such a sad enigma to me for him to have let something transpire as it did without doing the right thing. I can’t judge and it’s hard to for so many of us to envision this over the years having watched him seem to do many right things over the years. He wasn’t perfect. None of us are, but I have a hard time believing that he could have been so blinded by the love of the Penn State Nittany Lion football program not to stand up and do the right thing for kids being sexually assaulted. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s hard to write about this. Sorry for the kids who had to suffer through the ordeal of Jerry Sandusky. It’s still all so tragic and unbelievable to me. One individual is paying for his crimes. Maybe others should. It’s a shame. We’ll let the courts figure all this out. This season, we will be at State College to see Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans try to get past Penn State as pre-season favorites in the Big Ten to get into this year’s CFP Championship.

Well see Penn State and Michigan State go at it on November 26

Well see Penn State and Michigan State go at it on November 26

In place of the PSU-Illinois cancellation, I drove about 35 miles back to Union, NJ near my old neighborhood in Elizabeth to see a D3 game between No. 18 Kean University and New Jersey Athletic Conference foe Rowan University. The two teams were tied for first in the conference with 5-1 records along with perennial conference power Montclair State. The Kean Cougars were 6-1 overall while the Profs of Rowan came in at 5-2. At least the substitute game I was able to get to had some “juice” to it though it was at the lowest level of intercollegiate football. The teams were fighting for a championship. I drove slowly on unplowed roads with fallen trees covered in ice across highways to get Kean Alumni Stadium to sit on snowy bleachers. During the game, a transformer exploded somewhere in the neighborhood near the campus shutting down power for many homes. The game was lightly attended by families and friends and a few Kean students who remained on campus for the weekend along with yours truly watching in a complete blanket of white. Kean led at the half 13-6 as both teams struggled on slippery footing. The kicking games struggled. No doubt, it was very sloppy game due to the elements. At halftime, I went to my car to take my wet rain gear off and turn the heater on in my car in the parking lot adjacent to the stadium. As I stepped out of the car to get ready to go back with some hesitation, a huge tree branch on an evergreen in front of my car snapped off and fell to the ground a few feet in front of my car. Was this worth it? The roads were going to be as bad on the way home as it had been to the game. Plows weren’t ready for all this snow and ice. I decided to call it a game and get home before more trees fell, power went off, and whatever else was going to happen. I was glad I did. Driving on ramps on to interstates were like driving though ice caves formed by bending trees that could snap at any minute. It turned out though that I did not miss a thing after I had left the game. The score stood as I had left it, 13-6, in favor of the Kean Cougars. They would go on to win their final two regular season games including their season finale over Montclair, 27-14, to win the NJAC championship outright. In the first round of the D3 playoffs, they defeated Christopher Newport of Virginia, 34-10. They fell in the second round in a high-scoring game at Salisbury State, 49-47. Evidently there was no snow on the ground at that game. Salisbury would fall a week later to Wisconsin Whitewater who went on the defeat Mt. Union, 13-10, for the D3 national championship in 2011. Kean finished the season 10-2 overall and ranked No. 10 in the D3 Top 25 for their highest final ranking ever. My back up game was a very good choice, but it couldn’t have happened had the weather not surprised us with an early surprise winter storm in 2011. This year, we will see these two teams play again only this year at Rowan in Glassboro, NJ. This year, we look forward to seeing former LVRHS football player and one of my former Little League baseball players, Matt Hill, play at NT for the Kean Cougars in his senior season. As for Penn State, the ride wouldn’t have been worth it as they also prevailed in a low-scoring contest over the Illini, 10-7, in what truly was Joe Paterno’s very last game on the sideline.

For an unusual Wednesday night game, I ventured down to Philly to see the Temple Owls host Miami of Ohio in a Mid-American game at the Linc. The MAC had contracted with ESPN to show their games during prime time, mid-week evenings to get more national exposure. They prevailed over the Red Hawks 24-21, under new HC Steve Addazio in a light drizzle most of the game. His offense converted three turnovers forced by the defense into 17 points. Seven sacks kept Red Hawk QB Zac Dysert under pressure most of the game despite throwing for 364 yards and three TDs. He led two long scoring drives finding WR Nick Harwell in the end zone for two scores, the final one with 3:55 left in the game. TU ran out the clock behind the ground game led by RB Matt Brown who ran for 123 yards and on 24 carries including the final Owl TD.   The win ended a two-game losing streak for the Owls and was the first of four consecutive wins giving them a berth in the New Mexico Bowl where they triumphed over Wyoming, 37-14, to finish a successful season at 9-4. The airwaves on my way home after the Miami win were intense about the breaking news out of State College, Pennsylvania, a sad night after watching a good college football game. This year, we will see the Temple Owls visit UConn and host the South Florida Bulls in addition to their home opener against the Cadets of Army.

As stated before, the Collegefootballfan.com 2011 season coincided well with my son Eric’s high school football schedule. On Friday night, I headed up I-81 to Syracuse to see the Syracuse Orange host South Florida Bulls in a Big East game at the Carrier Dome to be back home on Saturday to attend a Lenape Valley playoff game. I remember a lot of drops by the Orange on catchable balls in this game despite QB Ryan Nassib completing 23 of 46 for 297 yards and two TDs. He was outshone that evening by South Florida’s B.J Daniels who threw for 254 and ran for 127. The Bulls won the game 37-17 and both teams finished their seasons with records of 5-7. On September 17, we will see these two square off again in the Carrier Dome. However, this is no longer a Big East Conference game as the conference has dissolved since. The Syracuse Orange now play in the ACC and the South Florida Bulls are members of the American Athletic Conference. We look forward to this being a much more competitive game with offenses that will be able to move the football up and down the field under Head Coach Willie Taggert of the Bulls and first-year HC Dino Babers for the Syracuse Orange. In addition, we will see the Orange clash with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame at The Meadowlands.

The scenery in upstate New York is brilliant in the fall!

The scenery in upstate New York is brilliant in the fall!

For the Collegefootballfan.com 2011 season, I planned three bowl games. Two were within driving distance and the other at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The first was great one played at cavernous RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. where the crowd of over 25,000 looked sparse. With his season over, Eric was able to join me. The Military Bowl turned out to be an exciting matchup between the 8-4 Toledo Rockets and 7-5 Falcons of Air Force. Long plays for TDs were the norm for this game between two top 25 scoring teams. Toledo led 42-35 with 5:01 left. Air Force scored a TD with 52 seconds left to close to one. The Air Force Falcons lined up to kick the extra point, but the holder ran the option to the short side of the field and his pitch out to the trailing kicker was low and went out of bounds to end the scoring for Toledo’s 42-41 thriller of a win.

Two days later, Eric and I were at Yankee Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl between Rutgers Scarlett Knights and the Iowa State Cyclones. We sat in what are the right field bleachers for a baseball game, but it was the perfect sight line to see the clinching score of the game before it even happened right in front of us. The Scarlet Knights’ 6’ 6” WR Brandon Coleman split wide left near us at his own 14-yard line against t a 5’7” defender right in front of him one on one. I saw the touchdown before it happened as Coleman just out leaped the much shorter defender and outraced him 86 yards to extend the RU lead over the Cyclones, 27-13, with 5:47 left in the game. That made it the final score as Rutgers won its fifth straight bowl. They finished the season 9-4 and HC Greg Schiano left after the season to coach the Tampa bay Buccaneers. The final Iowa State Cyclone record was indicative of how saturated bowl season had become as they finished their season on a losing note to finish 6-7.

We plan to go back to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee stadium again in 2016.

We plan to go back to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee stadium again in 2016.

The Discover Orange Bowl was played on the fifth of January, 2012 on a Wednesday night. The bowl famous for its New Year Day conclusion of the holiday over the years was now an also-ran bowl because of the BCS format between the top two teams selected at the end of the season. Not only that but my Auburn pal Charlie Murren and I went to the game figuring this was warm weather Miami in January away from the cold weather farther north. Instead, we ended up shopping at K-Mark for extra layers of clothing we didn’t bring to ward off freezing, unexpected temperatures. Well the game started off pretty hot any way. The Clemson Tigers were knocking at the goal line looking to take back a 21-17 lead by the West Virginia Mountaineers when suddenly RB Andre Ellington was stripped of the ball on a dive play by LB Darwin Cook who took the ball and raced 99 yards toward the other goal line to instead extend WVU’s lead, 28-17. From then on, it was all WVU Mountaineers. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd fumbled and threw an interception. West Virginia capitalized both times and took a 49-20 led at the half. Mountaineer QB Geno Smith, the game MVP, passed for 401 yards, six TDs and ran for a 7-yarder himself (he did more in that game than he has in his entire NFL career thus far, kidding). In the end, WVU crushed the Tigers, 70-33. It was not only a record setting combined point total for the Orange Bowl, but the WVU Mountaineer’s 70 points turned out to be the highest point total in all of bowl history. Well we saw a different Clemson Tiger team last season as they defeated Oklahoma in the CFP semi-final in that same Orange Bowl venue. We would like to see Junior QB Deshaun Watson play for the Tigers one more time. Clemson’s not on our regular season schedule, but if they can win their division to play in the ACC championship, we have December 3rd marked on our calendar for a possible trip the Charlotte to see what he and the Tigers are doing to get back in this years’ “Football Four”.

Our Collegefootballfan.com 2011 season was spectacular although for that season for some major disappointments were laced among the highlights. We look forward to a lot more highs than lows in our upcoming 2016 season. Be sure to keep up with us throughout.

We'll wait for the ACC Championship hoping to see Clemson paly again this season.

We’ll wait for the ACC Championship hoping to see Clemson play again this season.

–Steve Koreivo, editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steveo’s Salvos – FCS Football preview

Six weeks from this Thursday, the college football season as well as collegefootballfan.com’s season kicks off. On Thursday, September 1, our season starts off with a 7 pm kickoff when Delaware hosts Delaware State in the First State Bowl in a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) rivalry. The Fighting Blue Hens, 4-7 a year ago, host their Intrastate rival DSU Hornets of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference who finished with a 1-10 record. The Hens and the Hornets will be two of at least seven FCS football teams we will see play during the 2016 season. The Hens under HC Dave Brock in his fourth season hope to get things turned around again in Newark to challenge for the Colonial Athletic on the running of Soph TB Thomas Jefferson (Passaic Tech, NJ) who averaged 80.9 yards on the ground last season. A supporting cast of eight all-league picks a season ago surround Jefferson, but will that be enough? The offense rated last in all of FCS football passing for only 67.1 yards a game.   The defense allowed 20.5 ppg and stalwarts DL Blaine Woodson and LB Charles Bell return to lead the defensive charge. As for their opponent, the Hornets best player is DL Gabriel Sherrod who was the one bright spot named to the all MEAC defense in 2015. The Hornets were one of four teams in their league that finished with one win each, all winning conference games. DSU defeated Howard, 32-31, in the last game of the season; Howard clubbed Savannah State, 55-9; Savannah State knocked off Florida A&M, 37-27; the FAMU Rattlers trounced DSU, 41-13. At least the bottom of the MEAC is competitive with one another…

UD fans are looking for a turnaround this season, or this could be their head coaches curtain call.

UD fans are looking for a turnaround this season, or this could be their head coaches curtain call.

We will see Fordham, preseason favorites to win the Patriot League face the Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Rams, 9-3, 5-1 a year ago will be guided by new HC Andrew Breiner. He replaces successful HC Mike Moorhead who is now the new offensive coordinator at Penn State. The success of Fordham relies on their running game led by TB Chase Edmonds. The junior returns as a two -year starter who has gained 3,486 yards and tallied 43 TDs. He averaged 137.3 yards per game in 2015. During his freshman year, we saw him carry the load for this improving FCS football program against Rhode Island, Bucknell, and New Hampshire. He’s the Patriot Leagues’ top NFL prospect. Against Navy, he will be challenged. The Mids return one starter on offense, but they will continue to churn out yardage with their triple option attack despite the graduation of QB Keenan Reynolds who ranked fifth in the Heisman balloting. His replacement, Tago Smith, filled in for him effectively during two games in 2014 and will lead the offense during his senior season. On defense, the Mids return seven starters. Last season, we watched this defense hold Marlon Mack of USF to only 39 yards of offense. He blistered the rest of the Bull opponents totaling 1,381 rushing yards a year ago. The loss to Navy was the only one during the Bulls’ last eight regular season games. Unstoppable runner? Unyielding defense? We shall see…

The Fordham O-line will have to be effective to get Chase Edmonds big runs against Navy's defense in their season opener.

The Fordham O-line will have to be effective to spring Chase Edmonds (22) for some big runs against Navy’s defense in their season opener.

On Saturday, October 22, between our Friday night game in Philly between Temple and USF and the 8 pm kickoff on Saturday at State College between Penn State and Ohio State, we plan to stop for our second game ever at Christy Mathewson Stadium in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for a Patriot League game between Lafayette and host Bucknell. Bucknell 4-7 and 1-5 in the Patriot last year defeated the Leopards for their only PL win, 35-24. It was only one of two games all season in which the Bison scored more than 20 points. The Bucknell offense needs a lot of improvement this season under HC Joe Susan. His defense returns some top starters from a year ago. NG Ben Schumacher reordered 13.5 tackles for losses. Safety Bryan Marine made four INTs. Talk about improving on offense: Lafayette scored less than 10 points in seven of its first eight games a season ago. They may not fare much better this season with Villanova, Fordham, and Army on their slate before this game between two also-ran FCS football programs. The venue’s on the way to PSU, it’s a nice setting, and it could be pretty even match-up between two teams not expected to do much again this season. So the two teams are on our radar screen in what could be an inept but close battle to avoid the Patriot League basement…

We plan to return to Christy Mathewson Stadium at Bucknell to see the Bison host Lafayette before the Penn State-Ohio State game in Happy Valley at 8 pm.

We plan to return to Christy Mathewson Stadium  to see the Bison host Lafayette before the Penn State-Ohio State game in Happy Valley at 8 pm.

The University of San Diego Toreros, the preseason favorites to win the Pioneer League come east to visits Marist in a Pioneer league game. This will be collegefootballfan.com’s first trip to see the Red Foxes play and our first to Poughkeepsie, NY. USD, coached by Jim Harbaugh before he moved on to Stanford, returns a triumvirate of offensive leaders from this team a year ago. QB Anthony Lawrence, RB Jereke Armstrong, and WR Brian Riley who had 44 receptions and eight TDs return from a 9-2 season playing for HC Dale Lindsey. The Toreros look to get a bid into this season’s FCS football playoffs.   Marist sports a 5-6 record from a year ago. HC Jim Parody’s squad looks for improvement on defense as LB/co-captain Jimmy Braun, Lenape Valley Regional (NJ) grad, and CB Cameron Gibson are being relied on for their leadership on the field to turn things around. Junior QB Mike White returns as does his favorite target Juston Christian who caught six TD passes among his 826 yards. We’ll be rooting for the upset in this game. USD won last season out on the left coast, 30-20…There’s a chance this year that we can add another FCS football game late in the year when we head out to the Bay Area for Stanford at Cal. Depending on the kickoff there, we may catch the Sacramento State at UC Davis game for our first Big Sky game ever. Evenly matched at 2-9 from a year ago, the UC-D Aggies beat the Hornets of SSU, 35-21. We may have another FBS option, but it will all depend on our featured game’s kickoff time in Berkeley…We were hoping for a Friday night game at Princeton to catch a game, but nothing looks possible for us now. If the Penn game gets scheduled in the evening, we may see that as our lone Ivy league game this season, but traditionally that’s been a day game…Charleston Southern (10-3) and champion of the Big South in 2015, will open the FCS football season on August 27 when they visit five-time defending FCS champ North Dakota State in Fargo. Two weeks later, they play at Florida State. Five weeks later, they host Bucknell – go figure! Last season, they ventured into the FBS to play eventual champ Alabama and lost, 55-6. HC Jamey Chadwell has the eyes of several major programs on him… Holy Cross and Fordham will finish their Patriot league season playing each other in Yankee Stadium this year on November 19…

In 2014, we attended the 150th meeting played between Lehigh and Lafayette when they played at Yankee Stadium.

In 2014, we attended the 150th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Yankee Stadium.

The Howard Bison who finished 1-10 a season ago, must be making a bid to join the Big Ten. Their first two games are at Maryland and Rutgers…Idaho state starts this season hosting Simon Fraser of Canada. U. of San Diego hosts the Universidad de Las Americas Puebla from Mexico…We still see 1-10 Rhode Island opening at 0-12 as intriguing. How low can the Jayhawks go to get a win? Hopefully to make up for this to their fans, the two schools should play each other in basketball this season…Former Rutgers LB and Lenape Valley Regional (NJ) RB/LB, Nick Rafferty transferred to Sacred Heart of the Northeast Conference. He has at least two years of eligibility remaining to play in that FCS football program…Many FCS football teams play at least one FBS school. Other FCS teams like Howard, Idaho State, Morgan State and Savannah State, play two. The must need a lot of money. Then there is Sam Houston State coached by KC Keeler formerly of Delaware and D3 Rowan. He never touches the FBS teams on his schedule, but he recruits a lot of former FBS castaways to play on his teams. Always did. His Bearkats were 11-4 last season. He likes coaching at the FCS level for this reason and probably always will no matter how successful he is if ever offered to move up…Then there’s South Carolina State. They open at Central Florida, at Louisiana Tech, and then go to Clemson. Three FBS schools for some nice paydays. They’ll have to win all their other games to top last season’s win total of seven…Former Montana State HC Rob Ash was HC at three schools for the last 34 years starting at the Alma Mater Juniata, before taking over at Drake where he took them from D3 into the FCS before finishing the last 10 years at Montana State. He finished with a record of 234-126-5. He left college football ranked in the Top 20 head coaches in total wins among active coaches. In 2011, he was awarded the Liberty Mutual FCS Head Coach of the Year. On June 2, he took a position with Bret Bielema’s Arkansas program as an offensive analyst. Three current FBS head coaches played for him at Drake – Chris Ash of Rutgers (no relation), Dave Doeren of NC State, and Charlie Partridge of Florida Atlantic. Maybe he will coach again… Charleston Southern, defending four-time national Champ North Dakota State will host Eastern Washington before traveling to play Iowa in Iowa City. Of course, QB Carson Wentz graduated and moved on to the NFL. However, Frosh Easton Stick replaced him last season when he broke his wrist and led the Bison to eight wins on the way to the FCS football title…New Hampshire will open the season in front of our friend Tom Ables when he will see them face his Aztecs during his 781st Aztec game!…

The UNH Wildcats will be looking for their 13th straight FCS playoff berth starting with their season opener at San Diego State.

The UNH Wildcats will be looking for their 13th straight FCS playoff berth starting with their season opener at San Diego State.

The Red Flash of St. Francis (PA) of the NEC will have to be Road Warriors to begin their season. Their first four games are on the road at Montana, Towson, Columbia, and Albany…CFF.com and FCS football bid farewell to Villanova HC Andy Talley who first coached the Wildcats in 1985. We’ve seen his team perform numerous times. His career at D3 St. Lawrence and at FCS Delaware now stands at 219-152-2. One memory of ours stands out when we saw his St. Lawrence team defeat Wagner College on State Island in a D3 playoff. Our friend Bob Daly played for him them. The Larry QB was Mark Ferrante. He’s been with HC Talley basically ever since. Currently the Wildcats offensive line coach, he will become a HC next season for the first time after Talley steps down. The Cats look to finish strong for their coach whose VU team won the FCS football championship in 2009. A strong defense and the return of QB Zach Bednarczyk will be keys to getting Talley’s team a CAA championship and an FCS football playoff invitation. We wish this great HC the best for his final season.

Ah the memories!  HC Andy Talley's VU Wildcats clobbered UNH in the FCS playoffs on their way to the 2009 FCS Title.

Ah the memories! HC Andy Talley’s VU Wildcats clobbered UNH in the FCS playoffs on their way to the 2009 FCS Title.

D 3 Football: For the love of the game

It was in 1973 when the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) restructured the way it classified college level sports. Prior to 1973 there were two levels of college sports, the highest level was called the University Division and the lower level called the College Division. In 1973 the University Division was renamed Division I (D1) and the College Division was split into two different divisions, Division II (D2) and Division III football (D 3 football).  I remember it well. I was there for the very beginning.  My late father and I drove to Bridgeport, Connecticut on a brisk, fall Saturday morning to see the first ever Division III playoff game between The University of Bridgeport and Juniata College.  I was being recruited by Juniata to play football along with Lafayette College and a few other small schools during my senior year.   The visiting Indians from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania won the first D 3 football playoff game ever held, 35-14, and went on to play in the first official D 3 championship game called the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, in honor of the late, great collegiate coach.  Juniata did not fare well in the Stagg Bowl as they got whipped by Wittenberg University, 41-0, down in Phenix City, Alabama on national TV.  After attending the US Naval Academy for two years, I transferred to Juniata College to major in business and play football in 1976.

The Alma Mater, Juniata College, played in the first Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl.

The Alma Mater, Juniata College, played in the first Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl.

The D 3 football championship game continues today as the Stagg Bowl and is played annually in Salem, Virginia.  Today, 32 D 3 colleges play in an single elimination format consisting of conference champs and at large bids from all over the country. The D 3 championship, like the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Division II championship, is won on the field.  The D 3 football finale is played on the third Saturday of every December.  My son, Eric, and I attended the title game in 2007 when we saw perennial Stagg Bowl entries Mount Union and Wisconsin Whitewater play for the second year in a row for the D 3 title.  The Purple Raiders of Mount Union located in Alliance, Ohio defeated the Warhawks of UW-Whitewater, 35-16, that day for their ninth D 3 football championship, all under HC Larry Kehres.  The following season, the Warhawks got revenge winning the title game in Salem over the Purple Raiders.  Since that championship game in 2008, the Warhawks won the title five more times defeating the Purple Raiders each time.  The Mount Union Purple Raiders have won it three times defeating the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks twice and St. Thomas of Minnesota last season.  Larry Kehres’s son, Vince, took over the coaching reigns from his father two seasons ago.  UW-Whitewater HC Lance Leipold led the Warhawks to all six titles and now coaches the FBS Buffalo Bulls entering his second season.

Mount Union is one of two premier D3 football programs in recent years.

Mount Union is one of two premier D 3 football programs in recent years.

The biggest differences between the three divisions is mostly financial. D1 football teams offer the most athletic scholarships to players and enjoy some of the biggest budgets and most elaborate facilities college athletics has to offer. D1 is now divided into the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) comprised of 129 schools vying for rankings, television contracts, and bowl payouts while the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) offers fewer scholarships, doesn’t have the big TV contracts, and determines their national championship in a tournament format entered by 24 teams comprised of conference champs and at-large bids.  The championship game is played now in Frisco, Texas before the College Football Championship played for by the final two FBS teams from among the major conferences. Schools that play D 2 football are considered intermediate level and generally offer fewer athletic scholarships than schools in D 1, and their facilities are usually modest in comparison to D 1 schools. D 3 football programs are perhaps the most unique because D 3 football teams offer no athletic scholarships to student athletes. No athletic scholarships for student athletes? It’s an interesting fact, but one that makes you really respect D 3 football players.

Second cousin Rob Keyes putting a block on a William Paterson defender for The College of New Jersey back in 2007. No flag thrown by the way!

Second cousin Rob Keyes putting a block on a William Paterson defender for The College of New Jersey back in 2007. No flag thrown by the way!

It’s easy to understand why someone would want to take on the responsibility and hard work of being a student athlete when the student athlete is receiving a college education in exchange for their athleticism, but D 3 football players play out of a true love and passion for football. When I transferred to D 3 Juniata College from the US Naval Academy (where I did make what’s now known as the Sprint Football team, not the varsity Navy football team, where players had to weigh in at 158 lbs. to play, I hovered at 165 and never made weight),  I had to sit out a year of ineligibility because of the transfer rules they had back then which were, thankfully and eventually,  changed. Too late for me though.  However, to get back into football playing condition, I practiced with the team while ineligible during pre-season double sessions before the first game and played on the scout team offense every week as one of the primary RBs for our opponents each week.  I got to work as a spotter in the press box for home games.   I worked out in the weight room on my own program during the offseason (everybody did back then) and went out to play club lacrosse to get in shape for football and do some real “hitting” in the spring.   I was elected captain of the team though I’d never played lacrosse before (though my high school in New Jersey was one of about a dozen who played it back then).  In our first game against Allegheny College’s club, I hyperextended my knee over my own defense stick which tore my ACL and meniscus, but I hobbled around on my busted leg denying how serious the injury was to get it back in “shape” for summer break, and then I reinjured what was evidently worse than I thought playing pick-up basketball at home.  I got operated on, was in a cast for six weeks, went through re-hab on my own, worked it out, went to double sessions again in the summer before it gave out on me, worked out more, went out for track to get in shape throwing the javelin next spring, but in the end it never worked back out. I was sorry I could not get back to playing what I always wanted to do in college – play football – because I loved it.  No scholarship. No glory. I wanted to play football badly when I got to Juniata College and knew I could. I just ran into some tough obstacles and didn’t get to where I wanted to be.

Juniata, The Alma Mater, comes down the street from the Kennedy Center on campus to take the field at Chuck Knox Stadium!

Juniata, The Alma Mater, comes down the street from the Kennedy Center on campus to take the field at Chuck Knox Stadium!

Even if a school wanted to provide financial assistance to student athletes at the D 3 football level, the NCAA strictly forbids it. The only exception to this rule is for the two service academies that are members of Division III college athletics, the Merchant Marine and Coast Guard, because all students at these two institutions receive a completely free college education regardless of whether or not they’re varsity athletes. As a matter of fact, I loved having the opportunity of seeing these two schools play one another along the Thames River in New London, Connecticut in 1997.  My kids were young, we stayed at my sister’s in Rhode Island, and we saw the two D 3 football rivals with good records play for the Secretary (of Transportation) Cup.  Coast Guard won 34-16 in what I can describe as a mini Army-Navy game.  The USCGA Bears went on to play in the D 3 playoff to compete for the national championship, but they came up short.  One of these years, I’ll go back to see the Coast Guard – Merchant Marine rivalry played again! It’s a great setting with a great small school atmosphere.

D3 schools like FDU- Florham have sideline spirit like the big schools do.

D 3 football schools like FDU- Florham have sideline spirit just like the big schools do.

Over the last 30 years, I made the effort to see every FBS football team play in person at least once. For the most part, the journey is a finished success, however when a new school is added to the D 1 level, I go see another team I need to see in order to truthfully say, “I’ve seen ’em all”. Simply put attending D 1 football games is a passion. In fact, I even wrote a book about it: “Tales from the Tailgate: From the Fan Who’s Seen ’em All”.  Understand though how much of a college football fan I really am. Some have called me the “ultimate” college football fan – granted, a few people have called me crazy (actually my wife is supportive believe it or not) – but many have referred to me as the ultimate fan. However, I don’t consider myself that. I consider myself to be a truly passionate college football fan as are many others.  I’m significantly different though in that unlike most, I don’t focus on just one team like many others do including my good buddy, Tom Ables out at San Diego State, who’s seen all but two Aztec games, home and away, in person since 1946!  I separate myself by being able to say, “I’ve seen ’em all” when it comes to having seen every FBS school play at least once. There aren’t too many other fans that can say that.  However, I’ve seen a lot more than just the FBS teams when it comes to seeing college games over the years played by FCS, D 2, and D 3 football teams as well.  If seeing every D1 team play in person has been a passion, then following Division III football is one of my favorite hobbies. Following the teams of the FCS and D 2 are close behind.

We got to catch up with our good friend Tom Ables, San Diego State's No. 1 fan attending his 771st Aztec game when he came out to Penn State.

We got to catch up with our good friend Tom Ables, San Diego State’s No. 1 fan attending his 771st Aztec game when he came out to Penn State last season.

Overall, to me it’s about the game of college football itself. How it’s played, the spirit involved, the rivalries, the energy surrounding the games, the will to win, the traditions, game history, and the shaping of young lives in whatever fields they follow throughout the course of their lives.  Make no mistake, just because players compete at the Division III football level, it doesn’t mean that they have any less passion for the game, or any less of a desire to win, than any players at the D1 level. I’ve seen a lot of college football over the last three plus decades, and I can tell you that the players and the fans of D 3 football are just as serious about their football as any D1 player or fan.

Check out my book, Tales from the Tailgate, that shares the fun of over 30 years seeing 120 of these teams play for the very first time.

Check out my book, Tales from the Tailgate, that shares the fun of over 30 years seeing 120 of these teams play for the very first time.

Learn more about my adventures through college football, and about my book, “Tales from the Tailgate”, at CollegeFootballFan.com. Click here to order.  Also, come back to this site to read about some games among teams you rarely hear about – like FDU-Florham and Montclair State, SUNY Maritime and Kings Point (the aforementioned U.S. Merchant Marine Academy), and Kean vs. Rowan.  These are all D 3 football programs that we’ll see compete this year just as hard as the big schools do with less size, speed and talent, but with just as much heart if not more.

We watched SUNY Maritime host Mass Maritime in Throggs Neck, NY in 2014. This year we will see them host their rival just east on the Long Island Sound, Kings Point.

We watched SUNY Maritime (gray/blue) host Mass Maritime in Throggs Neck, NY in 2014. This year we will see them host their D 3 football rival just east on the Long Island Sound, Kings Point.

Collegefootballfan.com – Heisman Watch 2016

The Heisman: Most famous individual award in all of sports.

The Heisman: Most famous individual award in all of sports.

It’s enthralling that there is a major individual award of such high stature among the 129 competing teams at the highest level of college football, the Football Bowl Subdivision ( FBS), namely the Heisman Trophy.  (Editor’s note: Coastal Carolina jumps from the FCS to the FBS in 2017 to become the 130th team at that level.  That’s an easy flight to Myrtle Beach when we plan our game to see them compete at that level for the first time).  There are so many teams and players that will never compete directly against one another, and yet the pundits, who basically focus generally on one team each during the season select supposedly the best of the best despite the limited number of players they’ve seen perform. ( Based on talent, stats, leadership, off-field accomplishments, and what we saw amongst 27 FBS teams in 20 different games we saw in person last season, we still say Navy QB Keenan McReynolds should have won The Heisman in 2015.)  In addition, we think there is too much emphasis on just the quarterback and running back positions and not enough focus for the skills of other players on the field of play.  As far as Heisman Watch 2016 goes, we at CollegeFootballfan.com got early seats to see some of the best perform already.

Our solution to this is to take the winners of the awards for the best player at each position. Examples: WR for the Biletnikoff award, QB for Davey O’Brien Award, Outland Trophy for best interior lineman, LB for Butkus Award, etc. and select from among the best of all the position players. Every position has a “watch list” any how.  Certainly no one will heed these words in honor of tradition which is what I usually prefer in most cases (like conference alignments), but in the case of selecting one best player from among so many skilled players, I’m willing to break from tradition.  The best blockers and the best tacklers, the building blocks of football, are rarely valued among the primary skills of the gridiron.  It’s time to start evaluating each skill necessary for what makes a team player successful and determine who brings the most talent from among all the positions that give his team dominance from the talent he brings from his primary skill set.  There is plenty of film the pundits can analyze from among the best player at each position to make the assessment, and in most cases it will likely still be the top RB or QB, maybe an end, but once in a while they may come up with that defensive stalwart or “pancaker”  who led the way consistently for his team’s successful running game.  The analysis would be assessed better than by just watching game scoring highlights of QBs and RBs.  In any case,  the process is  definitely not changing this year, so we’ll carry on with traditional means though we think we have an advantage in this assessment compared to the voters who watch TV highlights every weekend.

Would consistent blocking like this demonstrated by Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley be worth enough to win a Heisman ? Not under today's selection process.

Would consistent blocking like this demonstrated by Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley be worth enough to win a Heisman ? Not under today’s selection process.

At collegefootballfan.com,  we’ve had a head start in the evaluation of talent for the 2016 Heisman selection process.  Though it’s about selecting the best player in 2016, we’ve been very lucky in seeing many of this year’s candidates play last season,  and in some cases, the season before.  Among “Five Favorites” noted in The Sporting News preseason publication, and “three more” identified as outsiders, we’ve attended games played by six already and will add two more major candidates during the upcoming season.  We will see a third play for the third time in three seasons.  We’ve seen many of the” darkhorses” play as well who are at least worth a mention.  In general, we’ve gotten to see a lot of the top talent returning to play college football this season despite all the early entries into the 2016 draft last spring.

Here’s our “spin” and experiences observing these talented players for this year’s Heisman competition (calling it the Heisman “race” seems to give an inside track to the players who only carry the football):

The six “Favorites”

Christian McCaffery, RB Stanford, SO – an early favorite after a sensational freshman year running for 2,019 yards and receiving for 645.  We get to see him play this year at Notre Dame and against big rival Cal in November.

Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson, JR – threw for 4,014 yards and 35 TDs and rushed for 1,105 yards and 12 TDs last season leading the Tigers into the CFP Championship game losing to Alabama, 45-40.  We saw him lead Clemson by Oklahoma in the CFP semi-final in Miami Lakes with a 37-17 win.   Watson completed 16 passes for 187 yards and a TD and carried 24 times for 145 yards a TD in a dominant second half.

Leonard Fournette, RB LSU, JR – In the 2014 American Home Mortgage Music City Bowl, LSU fell to Notre Dame 31-28 on a FG on the last play of the game.  Fournette, a freshman,  was voted game MVP for carrying 11 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns and returning a kickoff 100 yards for another. He got off to a hot start last year before only 31 yards on 19 carries a year ago against Alabama.  Improving his performance against The Tide in Tuscaloosa on November 5 could put him back on the Heisman track this season.

LSU Frosh RB Leonard Fournette (7) scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and on an 89-yard run in the 2014 Music City.

LSU Frosh RB Leonard Fournette (7) scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and on an 89-yard run in the 2014 Music City.

Baker Mayfield, QB Oklahoma – He completed 26 of 41 passes for 311 yards, one TD and two INTs in the Sooner’s 37-17 loss in the CFP semi-final in the Orange Bowl against Clemson.  It was a close contest until the Tigers dominated the second half.  A showdown against Ohio State at home on September 10 could be a Heisman elimination game for the losing QB in this one.

Dalvin Cook, RB Florida State, JR – In 2014, we saw Cook shine with 23 carries for 122 yards at Syracuse as a freshman in a 38-20 win as he capped off the FSU score with a seven-yard carry for the Noles final TD.  Last season, he tallied 82 yards on 17 carries and scored again against Georgia  Tech in our first trip to Bobby Dodd Stadium, but his performance was overshadowed by Tech’s last  score on the final play of the game for a 22-16 upset victory in an exciting finish.  Cook supposedly has a great line up front to open up the holes this year for what should mean a big season for him and for FSU.

J.T Barrett, QB Ohio State, SR – We will see him return for his final season at QB for OSU in a prime time game at 8 pm on October 22 at a White-out  in Happy Valley against Penn State .  Last season, we saw him lead the Buckeyes to a 42-13 win over Michigan in the Big House.  He ran 19 times for 133 yards and three TDs,  and he threw for 113 yards and another score in the win over their despised and improved archrival under equally despised first-year HC Jim Harbaugh.  In 2014, we saw his debut as a starter replacing injured Heisman candidate Braxton Miller against Navy in Baltimore.  In the 34-17 win, it was a sign of things to come as he passed for 226 yards and two TDs while running for 50 yards in an impressive career start that eventually took Ohio State to a national championship.  A second one this year along with an unblemished record could possibly assure him of this year’s Heisman.

J.T. Barrett will be in charge of the Buckeye offense when they return to Happy Valley this season. White-out?

J.T. Barrett will be in charge of the Buckeye offense when they return to Happy Valley this season. White-out!

Others:

Greg Ward, QB, Houston – We will see him play Navy at Annapolis on October 8.

Luke Falk, QB Washington State – Completed 47 of 66 passes for 478 yards and four TDs in last season’s opener in a 37-34 win over Rutgers whose secondary was depleted because of suspensions for criminal activities.

DeShone Kizer, QB Notre Dame – Picked up the pieces last season after starter Malik Zaire went down with an injury in the second game of the season.  Against Temple he led the Irish to a winning TD pass with 2:09 left to finish off a 76-yard drive for a hard-fought 24-20 win.  He carried his offense with 23 for 36 passing for 299 yards and that lone TD while rushing 17 times for 143 yards and two scores.

QB DeShone Kizer led the Irish over improved Temple last season, 24-20.

QB DeShone Kizer led the Irish over improved Temple last season, 24-20.

Malik Zaire, QB Notre Dame – HC Brian Kelly will have to decide who starts for the Irish this year as Zaire returns from his injury and Kizer returns after leading ND to a 10-3 mark a year ago.  At the American Home Mortgage Music City Bowl two years ago, Zaire threw 12  of 15 complete and duplicated his totals passing and running with 96 yards each on his arm and with his  legs while tallying a TD through the air and one on the ground in the 31-28 win.

Samaje Perrine, RB Oklahoma – Nothing special when we saw him play Clemson last season in their CFP loss; 58 yards on 15 caries and one TD.

Wayne Gallman, RB Clemson – Very special when we saw him play Oklahoma last season in their CFP win; 150 yards on 26 carries and two TDs.

Elijah Hood, RB North Carolina – 13 carries for 118 yards and no TDs against Baylor in the Russell athletic Bowl.  Had some good runs.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR USC – Three receptions for 66 yards and a TD against Colorado last season.

Luke Falk (4) completes one of his many passes to Tavares Martin (12).

Luke Falk (4) of Washington State completes one of his 67 passes to Tavares Martin (12) against Rutgers last season for HC Mike Leach’s Cougars. .

Gabe Marks, WR Washington State – 14 catches for 146 yards and a TD versus Rutgers last year.

Adoree’ Jackson, DB/WR USC – Showed versatility on defense blocking a FG attempt when CU trailed 20-17 to kill the Buffs momentum in last season on our first trip to Folsom Field.

Jabrill Peppers, DB Michigan – 25 kick returns, 18 carries, and eight receptions last season; but against Ohio State, they made the entire Michigan D looked like mince meat.

Our Honorable Mention Player list based on who we’ve seen to keep an eye on this year:

Jalen Hurd, RB Tennessee; P.J. Walker, QB Temple; L.J.  Scott, RB Michigan State; Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State; Jahad Thomas, RB Temple; Daniel Gonzalez, LB Navy; Ben Boulware, LB Clemson; Ray Lawry, RB Old Dominion; Justin Thomas QB, Georgia Tech; Jeremy Timpf, LB Army; Andrew King LB, Army; Donnel Pumphrey RB, San Diego State; Marlon Mack RB, South Florida; Rodney Adams, WR South Florida; Raekwon McMillan, LB Ohio State; Jacobi Owens, RB Air Force

LJ Scott (3) returns for the Spartans at RB this season when we see them visit Happy Valley.

LJ Scott (3) returns for the Spartans at RB this season when we see them visit Happy Valley.

 

The Ultimate College Football Fan

From author Steve Koreivo comes a compilation of stories that any die hard college football fan would love to experience. A college football fan since boyhood, Koreivo describes in detail the first time he got the chance to see a D1 college football game played in person. Over the course of 36 years, Koreivo has attended 507 college football games (and still counting) – and managed to hold his marriage and career together while doing it. In fact, he credits much of his success with seeing many of those games in person to his wife, who he affectionately refers to as Saint Laurie (his friends and family all agree).

Author and Ultimate College Football Fan Steve Koreivo got to tailgate with a lot of great friends from over the years at West Point for his 500th game last November!

Author and Ultimate College Football Fan Steve Koreivo got to tailgate with a lot of great friends from over the years at West Point for his 500th game last November!

It was on an uncharacteristically warm December afternoon in 1972 that Koreivo would be introduced to the “big time” of college football. It was a game between two long, storied rivals – Army and Navy – at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, and it was the game that would mark the beginning of a journey to see every D1 college football team play in person at least once. Each chapter is dedicated to the first time he saw a team (or teams) play in person and includes plenty of personal anecdotes from the life of this epic college football fan. Koreivo uses his first hand experience from each game to immerse you in all the fun, excitement, and football loving adrenaline that he experienced living his stories first hand.

The Army Black Knights of 1972 won the first Division 1 game I attended when they defeated Navy, 23-14.

The Army Black Knights of 1972 won the first Division 1 game I attended when they defeated Navy, 23-15.

And then there’s the tailgating – the rituals filling the parking lots hours before and hours after a game is played. This is where the ultimate college football fan meets with fellow fans to gear up for the big game and break it down after. It’s where camaraderie lives and where some of the best stories about college football are born. Some tailgating parties are much more elaborate than others – and some would barely qualify as parties at all – but as you read Koreivo’s account of his time on the road and at various tailgate parties at different venues, you begin to realize that part of the fun of tailgating for the diehard college football fan is never knowing what to expect.

The more you read Koreivo’s book “Tales from the Tailgate”, the more you feel as if you were right there with him for all those years and all those games. Unlike many other college football fans, Koreivo has his two favorite teams, but he doesn’t hold anything against any of the other teams that he’s gone to see play. Well, there are a handful that he will always root against. He attends for the spirit, the traditions, atmosphere, experiences, and enjoyment of what he calls “this great game.” He’s no Monday morning quarterback and you won’t find any critiques about game play, the way he discusses the game is from the perspective of an observant and true fan of the sport of college football.

Available for digital download and purchase in paperback and hardback, Steve Koreivo’s “Tales from the Tailgate” can be purchased at Amazon.com. As new teams have been added to the FBS ranks since Koreivo has written this book, he’s seen all 129 teams at this level play along with many at the three lower levels of NCAA football. Since his passion for the game doesn’t end when the games are over, you can continue to keep up with Steve Koreivo and all of his football loving insight and history on his blog, CollegeFootballFan.com. On it you can also find a link to order “Tales from the Tailgate: From the Fan who’s seen ’em all!”

Click here to order Tales from the Tailgate now!

Check out our book! Lots more to come.

Check out our book! Many more football stories to come.

Steveo’s Salvos – Eighty days to go!

Eighty days to go until our opening kickoff on Thursday night, September 1 when the Delaware State Hornets and the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens mix it up at Delaware Stadium in Newark for the First State Bowl.  UD HC Stan Brock starts the season on the proverbial hot seat for sure.  He is 17-18 overall at Delaware after last season’s poor 4-7 showing after a 6-6 record in his second season.   The proud Delaware football program is not a patient one.  No Fighting Blue Hen HC has survived three consecutive non-losing seasons and returned for the next.  From 1935-1937, Layal Clark had a 5-18-1 record over 3 losing seasons before being canned.  After two seasons with a 4-12 record, UD had seen enough of his successor Stephen Grenda.  He was ousted.  William D. Murray coached in Newark eight seasons successfully going 49-16-1 with only one losing season.  David Nelson coached UD to an 84-42-2 record over 15 seasons finishing on the short side only twice.  Legendary Hall of Famer Harold “Tubby” Raymond coached 36 seasons for an outstanding 300-119-3 record with four bowl wins, a national championship, and only three losing seasons.   His former player, K.C. Keeler, followed in his place and coached the Blue Hens for 12 seasons finishing 86-52 with a national championship, two losses in the FCS title game, and three losing seasons.  Interesting that Murray, Raymond, and Keeler were all gone after a losing season.  Nelson went 9-9 in his final two seasons.  Talk about a hot seat!  We’ll see if Brock gets his 2016 version of the Blue Hens off in the right direction against the hungry, in-state rival Hornets to prove he can continue the historical winning tradition for the Blue Hens.  If not, look for the Delaware administration to start looking for someone to lead them back to their winning ways at the traditional FCS power house…

We witnessed seven Delaware wins under Tubby Raymond, and the we attended the ceremony after his retirement when the school named their playing filed after the coach who posted 300 wins for the Blue Hens.

Stan Brock has to bring back the Fighting Blue Hens winning ways this season, or…?  We witnessed seven Delaware wins under Tubby Raymond and attended the ceremony after his retirement when the school named their playing field after the coach who posted 300 wins for the Blue Hens.

We are set to see California host Stanford in the 119th edition of the Big Game, longest rivalry on the west coast, on November 19. The Bears have the honor be the first FBS team to kick-off the 2016 season on August 27 when they travel to Sydney, Australia to play Hawaii at ANZ Stadium to get this college football season under way…So much for Art Briles coaching capabilities.  We came away from last season’s Baylor win over North Carolina, 49-38, in the Russell Athletic Bowl thoroughly impressed.  Without his top two starting QBs available due to injuries, he improvised using RBs and WRs in the Wildcat to run a very effective offense in an exciting game that we attended.  He improvised and overcame his team’s lack of QB experience to win a game over a quality competitor.  Now that we see how he was sidestepping legal and moral issues to keep his team intact instead of sending out the right message to the many sexual offenders on his squad, we have lost a lot respect for him as a man and as a mentor.  There is football and there is life, meaning teaching these young people right from wrong.  Looking the other way or manipulating a system of unending forgiveness at the expense of others is just going to cause more problems with these individuals and send out the wrong messages to other young people that as long as they can play football, they are allowed to do anything they want.  This is despicable at this level of “higher education”.  Wrong message! Briles and his players have mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, and female family members just like everyone else.  It’s not right to treat other women so wrongly.  These college administrators and coaching staffs have to open their eyes and see that there is more to their purpose than winning and raising money for their schools.  There is still the responsibility of teaching in the courses of life.  It should become an integral part of their high-priced contracts.  That means teaching right from wrong, and there is no thin line here.  This state of tolerance for all these wrongdoings has to stop somewhere. There should be as much negative reinforcement if not more than the positive reinforcement we always seem to hear as an excuse to do nothing and let the wrongdoings continue.   I just hope we don’t see Briles “landing on his feet” coaching in the pros or in front of a camera at ESPN.  He should not be affiliated anywhere in the game of football ever again, or else the difference between what is right and wrong in society will continue to remain an incomprehensible blur…Looks like we’ll add another D3 Friday night game due to its locale and convenience for us before heading to Annapolis the next morning for UConn at Navy.  Montclair State, who is 12-0-1 over the years in games we’ve seen them play in, will visit a hapless FDU-Florham program on Friday, September 9 in the season opener for both squads.  MSU is under HC Rick Giancola in his 33rd season at the New Jersey Athletic Conference power house during his 33 years as HC.  His 226-104-2 record dwarfs that of the Devils’ Brian Surace in his fifth season at FDU with a record of 7-43.  Since the start of FDU football in 1974, the Devils have had only four winning seasons. Their best record was achieved in 1993 when they finished 8-3, 6-1 in the Middle Atlantic Conference.  It was the only season they went to a post season game losing in an ECAC Bowl to Wesley of Delaware, 6-0.  Their non-conference loss that season was to Montclair, 22-12.  They lost to them again the following year, 20-13, on the way to a 5-4 season. With those wins, the Red Hawks lead this short series, 2-0.   FDU-Florham’s next win will be the 100th in school history.  That averages out to be 2.3 wins per season!  We don’t expect #100 to come against the Red Hawks…Here’s what we rate as the Top Ten most entertaining, competitive, inter-conference FBS games scheduled in 2016: 1) Sept. 17 Ohio State at Oklahoma; 2) Sept. 3 Ole Miss vs Florida State in Orlando; 3) Nov. 17 Louisville at Houston; 4) Sept. 3 Wisconsin vs. LSU at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin; 5) Sept. 3 USC vs. Alabama at Arlington, TX; 6)  Sept. 3 Oklahoma at Houston; 7) Sept. 3 Georgia vs. North Carolina in Atlanta; 8) Sept. 10  Penn State at Pittsburgh; 9) Sept. 10  Arkansas at TCU; 10) Sept. 24   Navy at Air Force.  September 3 will weigh heavily on the early season rankings…

Samaje Perine (32) and the OU sooners will host Ohio State this season as we anticipate this as the best inter-conference game of 2016.

Samaje Perine (32) and the OU Sooners will host Ohio State this season as we anticipate this as the best inter-conference game of 2016.

Among Lindy’s pre-season Top 25, including bowl games last year, we saw 12 of their Top 25 in 2015.  For our regular season plans in 2016, only six grace their pre-season picks in their publication that recently reached the newsstands.  Among those we will see will be No. 4 Ohio State when they visit Penn State on October 22.  We will see No. 10 Stanford visit No. 11 Notre Game on October 15 and then visit California at Berkeley at the Big Game on November 19.    Before seeing this Irish host the Cardinal, they will play at our Big Tailgate On October 1  in The Meadowlands when we see them play Syracuse under their new HC Dino Babers.  Defending AAC champ Houston ranked 12th will play the Midshipman of Navy in Annapolis in what should be a hard fought game despite the graduation of Mid QB Keenan Reynolds on October 8.  After an October of watching highly-ranked teams, we will see No. 22 Michigan State for the third year in a row when they visit Penn State on November 26…A lot more preseason stuff to build leading up to our start 80 days from now.  C’mon back!

LJ Scott returns for the Spartans at RB this season when we see them visit Happy Valley.

LJ Scott (#3)  returns for the Spartans at RB this season when we see them visit Happy Valley.

College Football Tailgating – Collegefootballfan.com Style

The first recorded instances of “tailgating” are not believed to have come from sporting events at all, but from the sidelines of war – and that’s not a figure of speech. The very first tailgaters are believed to have been American citizens during the Civil War, when civilians would gather at battlegrounds to watch battles between northern and southern troops. Despite best efforts to remain as far away from the danger as possible, there were many tailgaters who simply never made it home. To say the least, college football tailgating isn’t anything like tailgating during the Civil War – the tailgating of today is much safer, more fun, and friendlier. Continue reading

Steveo’s Salvos – 2016 Schedule, Big Game, Satellite camps, Recruiting May 22, 2016

Only  a little over three months to go before our favorite time of year starts up again!

Only a little over three months to go before our favorite time of year starts up again!

Sorry that our Ops system went down recently.   I’m now getting back into the swing of things…Our 2016 schedule is looking pretty intact right now and we even have plan in place for our bowl season with the announcements of the dates and time for most of them to be played.  Check out our 2016 schedule tab.  We’re now just waiting for a few game time announcements to see if we can finalize attending a few more games.  We see that the Davidson at Georgetown game precludes us from adding that as our fourth game on opening weekend where we have a Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday noon kickoff with Fordham at Navy.  The Wildcats and Hoyas will be kicking off at 1 pm at Cooper Field in D.C.  They’re out!   There’s still a possibility that we can add a game later in the day as Holy Cross will be visiting Morgan State at Hughes Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, home of the Bears.  We are waiting to see if Princeton will host a Friday night game on their soon to be announced schedule to add a game if convenient for a Friday night tailgate. I work nearby now.  On November 5, we’re waiting for the start times of Indiana at Rutgers and Kean at Rowan.  We’re committed to attending the New Jersey Athletic Conference D3 contest if there’s a conflict between the two.  One of my former LL baseball players, Matt Hill, will possibly be the starting NT for the Kean Cougars as a senior this year. We look forward to seeing him play.  There may be a few other opportunities as well as start times are announced for other potential games that can possibly be added…

For the second year in a row, Delaware will start our season for us.

For the second year in a row, Delaware will start our season for us.

The Big Game just got a little more interesting as far as the competition goes.  We look forward to seeing RB Christian McCaffrey of Stanford perform in his final regular season PAC-12 game as he is expected to be a Heisman contender.  Stanford’s Big rival, the Cal Bears, lost QB Junior Jared Goff to the LA Rams in the recent 2016 NFL draft.  However, the Bears picked up an experienced and talented graduate student from Texas Tech who plays QB to possibly replace Goff.   Webb Davis, who has 5,557 passing yards, 46 TDs, and 22 INTs during his college career.  He steps in from the Red Raiders pass-happy attack from behind current starter Patrick Mahomes, a potential pro prospect.  Bear HC Sonny Dykes hired QB coach and Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital who engineered offenses under Head coaches Kevin Sumlin, Cliff Klingbury,  and Dana Holgerson at Houston, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Texas A&M.  The move caught Davis’s attention as he will now be competing for the starting job at Cal-Berkeley this fall.  It could make our first Big Game a lot more interesting than what we originally anticipated. It’s just a start for HC Sonny Dyke’s program who will also looking to replace his two key receivers from a year ago to be more competitive. In Jared Goff’s three years as a starter for the Bears, his record was 0-9 against fellow PAC 12 teams from the Golden State… Satellite camps: only a few teams were doing them.  Michigan in particular was in the spotlight. Then the NCAA decided they were banned primarily influenced by the SEC.  Then the NCAA said, never mind. They must have finally decided they are for the good of the prospective student-athletes.  And now everybody’s planning to have them. They seem fair to the prospective players for sure, but with social media and today’s technology, aren’t most of the top players pretty much identified without them?  How many diamonds in the rough will actually be found? It seems like another money-making deal by the coaches to me.  Anyway… On June 3, the big satellite camp story here in New Jersey is that Jim Harbaugh of Michigan will be running one at Paramus Catholic HS along with several other college coaches.  Harbaugh’s former recruiting coordinator and current LB coach, Chris Partridge, was the former HC at Paramus Catholic. Michigan Junior RB Jabrill Peppers and Junior OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty played high school ball there at PC for Partridge.  This year, with Partridge’s influence, Harbaugh recruited at least five top players from the Garden State after spanking Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, 49-16.  Harbaugh saw the opportunity and the players from NJ took advantage of it.  So what does new RU HC Chris Ash do to fend off the Michigan influence in the Garden State?  About 20 miles from Paramus on the same evening, he scheduled a satellite camp at the D-3 campus of Fairleigh Dickinson Universtiy in Florham Park. The former Ohio State DC also invited Ohio Stat HC Urban Meyer and Temple HC Matt Rhule to his camp to attract talent away from that crafty Harbaugh.  He’s already gotten the support of many of the head coaches of Catholic high schools in NJ who already attract most of the best talents in the state (that whole scenario is pretty pitiful in my humble observations of the state of HS football in the once very fertile recruiting grounds in the Garden State) who disliked the antics of Partridge when he was HC at Paramus Catholic.  They are encouraging players to attend the camp at FDU and to avoid the PC camp.  What I find difficult to understand, that if RU really wants to find some players in this camp, why would you let the foxes like Meyer and Rhule into your hen house?  I understand they’ll attract more or certain players, but Meyer has more capabilities to attract the top players away from RU he’ll want, and Rhule has done an excellent job over the years finding mid-level talent in NJ and making them better players. He’ll find those diamonds in the rough and make a team out of them.   I think Ash could have gotten the high school coaches’ influences without bringing in these two just from the disdain of Partridge to offset Harbaugh. I think he’s made a mistake by bringing in more competition to take talent from his program.  I’m thinking I may go over to observe this camp located in my local stomping grounds. As a matter of fact, I may even put on my spikes and shorts for a try-out. Many years ago, back when I transferred from the Naval Academy where I played lightweight football (I’m much heavier now) to D-3 Juniata College, the NCAA had a stupid rule that anyone transferring anywhere has to sit out a year before playing.  Eventually, somebody woke up and they decided that if you transferred from an FBS program to a lower level, you could play right away.  Finally, a good decision by the NCAA, but way too late for me.  I was ineligible to play that first year, but I still practiced as part of the sub-squad running plays against the first team defense Mondays through Thursdays (I tore up my knee badly the following spring playing club lacrosse to get in shape for the following fall).   I think the NCAA owes me a year of eligibility.  I still have good hands. I think I can surely hold for PATs, but nobody better fall or run into me, or we’re both going to be in big trouble! With an MBA already, I just have to find someone willing to give me a scholarship to pursue a PHD while holding for PATs.  Ohio State?  Temple?  That’s only about an hour from work. C’mon Matt, I was you play at PSU!

Ohio State and Michigan will be battling it out in Jersey on June 3 not on the gridiron, but on the recruiting trail.

Ohio State and Michigan will be battling it out in Jersey on June 3 not on the gridiron, but on the recruiting trail.

… Speaking of NCAA rules, does it make sense that Alabama (and others in the past) should be offering eighth graders like Jesus Machado a scholarship already? The young LB hasn’t even take a college prep course in high school yet no less a PSAT, not that some schools even consider the SAT any more.  What a waste of time and what pressure to put on a young kid and his family. Verbal offers are non-binding, and written offers cannot be made until senior year of high school.  How about ending this ridiculousness and focus on the kids you need to bring in in 2017? Life is too short to be rushing kids through their teenage years.

Did I mention that our favorite time of the year is only a little over three months away?

Did I mention that our favorite time of the year is only a little over three months away?