Steve-o’s Salvos – April 27, 2015

We tailgated with our friends the Rafferty’s and the Bonnefond’s on a chillier than expected April evening last Friday in New Brunswick, NJ, the Birthplace of College Football.  Disappointingly, Nick and Patty’s son, RS sophomore LB Nick Rafferty, did not play because of an upper body injury suffered during the spring session.  But we tailgated and were joined by another friend from our town, John Baird, who was there to see his daughter, a senior in high school,  trying out for the 2015 RU dance team.

With offensive linemen playing for both Scarlet and White, they wore black.  it looked like three different teams on the field at the same time.

With offensive linemen playing for both Scarlet and White, they wore black. it looked like three different teams on the field at the same time.

The final score was 35-21 as the Scarlet defeated the White, but the score was somewhat inflated by typical extracurricular scoring opportunities.  In Rutgers’ case, several lineman were given chances to field punts.  For every punt handled cleanly, that team received a score.  Our focus was primarily on the two QBs vying for the starting position throughout camp according to media reports.  From what we saw, Chris Laviano seemed to get the O moving more effectively than did LSU transfer Hayden Rettig.  Laviano finished 8 for ten passing for 140 yards with two TDS.

Josh Hicks, No. 8, looks for room to sneak into the end zone.

Josh Hicks, No. 8, looks for room to sneak into the end zone.

It was a typical final scrimmage where players basically went through the motions getting in some playing time trying to impress coaches for a  shot for consideration when summer sessions begin, but you could tell it’s also a time when the end of the semester is upon them waiting for final exams and eventually a break before the hot practices ahead of them next August.  They’ll be working out all summer of course, but it’s almost a bigger break mentally as opposed to physically.  RB Josh Hicks had some breakaway runs and junior Safety Anthony Cioffi returned in INT for a 99-yard touchdown on the last play of the evening.  The event was topped by a player autograph session and fireworks to end the evening.

DE Tomoko Turay must have taken the ball away, otherwise that's a blatant holding call by the offensive lineman wearing black.

DE Tomoko Turay (58)  must have taken the ball away, otherwise that’s a blatant holding call by the offensive lineman wearing black.

It was hard to gauge anything form this game, but we will see the Scarlet Knights in action at least three times next season.  Our Rutgers slate will start with back to back Saturdays (Sept. 12 and 19) when the Knights host the Washington State Cougars under HC Mike Leach known for his potent passing attacks.  We’ve seen it over the years when he coached Texas Tech against NC State and Oklahoma State in high-scoring affairs in both of those games.  Last season, RU defeated the Cougars out in Seattle, 41-38.  WSU finished 3-9 despite an average of 31.8 points per game.  They allowed 38.5!  Leach brought on a new DC from Mizzou in the offseason to put some fangs into the jaws of the Cougars’ D.  RU may have to slow down Leach’s offense by controlling the ball on the ground with a new QB under center.  The Knights will rely on the potent but developing stable of Hicks, Desmon Peoples, Rob Martin,  and hope for the return of Paul James from injury to do that. It will be the second time the Cougars appear on our schedule.  Last time, we saw them lose a season opener in OT at Notre Dame in 2003, 29-26.   The following week, we will see RU visit the Nittany Lions up at State College.  108,000 Nittany Lion fans will be fired up for this one as the Knights played the Lions closely in their first ever Big Ten contest last season.  Penn State prevailed in a tight one, 13-10.  And finally on November 21, we will see these Scarlet Knights venture up the Hudson to take on the Black Nights of Army in what will be a milestone game for collegefootballfan.com as we will celebrate our 500th game since we started this crazy, unique, happy college football adventure back in September 1979. We’ve seen these Knight joust each other five times back in the ’80’s.  Rutgers and Army will be a big part of our historical 2015 season.

Scarlet, White, and Black Knights of army, see you in November!

Scarlet, White, and Black Knights (of Army) , see you in November!

Steve-o’s Salvos – April 20

After attending Army’s Black-Gold Spring Football game on Saturday, the best I can say is that the Black Knights of the Hudson have lot of work ahead of them to get ready for next season. Under the watchful eyes of second-year HC Jeff Monken who observed everything up close directly on the playing field while his assistants coached along the sidelines, the offenses were not very sharp for a team looking to improve on its triple-option offense.   Timing was off, the ball-handling was inefficient, and the necessary deception was not there. There were costly fumbles and interceptions.  A sack by the Black team of the QB provided two more points in Black’s inflated 40-17 win in front of 2,015 fans basking under a warm spring sun. Maybe because their defense sees this offense so often, it’s an easy adjustment for them.

Army Gold team on the move in the 2015 Spring game.

Army Gold team on the move in the 2015 Spring game.

 

When respective Black and Gold QBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Matthew Kaufmann weren’t able to evade rushers in evident passing situations, receivers dropped passes right in their hands on several occasions.  The most accurate completions were interceptions by DBs Josh Jenkins and Xavier Moss of the Gold squad.  The game did not seem crisp on either side of the ball.  There were some good hits, but quickness on both sides of the ball seemed to be lacking.  Army’s most effective back looked to be junior RB Nick Shiver who found holes and made some of the day’s longest gains aside from 74-yard and 75-yard runs by Army’s adopted 12-year old fan, Sean Callahan.  Edgar Poe made a three-yard TD reception from Bradshaw.

Army Gold D turns around RB Joe Walker with one of the game's better hits.

Army Gold D turns around RB Joe Walker with one of the game’s better hits.

Size, speed, and experience on offense seem to be working against the Cadets going into 2015, but the coaching staff will go back to breaking things down to get the Black Knights ready for their season opener next September 4 when they host the Fordham Rams.  With Duke, Penn State, and Rutgers on next year’s schedule, Army certainly has some challenges next year.  We hope the Cadets will be ready to challenge Rutgers on November 21 when we see the two teams clash for our 500th game in collegefootballfan.com history. This Friday night, we will be at the Birthplace of College Football to attend RU’s Scarlet – White game.  Army’s coaching staff will be on the recruiting trail now that the spring practices are complete.

Gold's Grant Escobar carries the ball in for a four-yard TD run.

Gold’s Grant Escobar carries the ball in for a four-yard TD run.

 

Steve-o Salvos update – April 17, 2015

As much as we’d like to see Penn State scrimmage tomorrow (April 18) as originally planned, our tailgating plans fell through, and tailgating makes watching a practice game in the spring most worthwhile.  We decided it’s not worth the long trip up.  However,  we still need a spring football fix, so instead of heading all the way out to State College three hours and back on a spring Saturday for a 4 pm game, we’re going to our back-up plan.

Tomorrow we will take a trip to West Point, New York, about an hour away, to see Army Black scrimmage against Army Gold.  If it is like last year’s game, it’s sure to be hard hitting as the Black Knights will be improving on their triple-option attack under second year Head Coach Jeff Monken.  Not only do we look forward to hearing the popping of pads, but it will be a preview of our 500th game next November 21 when we’ll return to West Point to see the Black Knights of Army host the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.

After our trip to the Banks of the Hudson tomorrow, we’ll be on the Banks of the Old Raritan on Friday night to attend Rutgers’ Scarlet-White game.  We’ll preview both teams in the spring for game #500 next year.  Prior to that game, we will see both teams play before our historic 500th.  We plan to see Rutgers host Washington State and visit Penn State on back to back weekends in September.  We also plan to  possibly visit the Badgers of Wisconsin for our first trip to Camp Randall to see the game against RU and to participate in the tradition of the Fifth Quarter after the game on the playing surface.  We also plan to see the Army Cadets host the steadily improving Duke Blue Devils under HC David Cutcliffe when they visit West Point on October 10.  And of course, we plan to attend our 11th Army-Navy Game on December 12 in Philadelphia.  We plan to see both Army and Rutgers each play three games each next season, so we’re interested to see how both teams are shaping up.

Army Junior Linebacker Jeremy Timpf, who registered 117 tackles last season, was announced to be one of 42 players named on the Lott IMPACT Trophy award Watch list. Last year’s recipient was LB Eric Kendricks of UCLA.

Army General Raymond Ordierno – I played baseball against him in high school. Read about him by clicking here.

Army unveils its new Logo. " Reach into the Future, yet never neglect the past.: - General Douglas MacArthur

Army unveils its new Logo. It’s a variation of an older logo brought up to a more modern style. ” Reach into the Future, yet never neglect the past.” – General Douglas MacArthur

 

 

Steve-o’s Salvos – April 14, 2015

We are still up in the air about our opening weekend slate of games. Tennessee will kick off against Bowling Green in LP Stadium at 4 pm. That time slot does not seem conducive to getting across town to seeing Vandy host Western Kentucky on the same day. Now if they move it to Friday night, we may have something here. We’re keeping an eye on things, but still want to fit in a possible Monday night visit on Labor Day to Blacksburg to see VA Tech host Ohio State in the opener for both teams…Lots of Rutgers updates in our local papers. Everything is on the positive side (of course) there. The QB battle goes on between RS sophomores Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig, an LSU transfer. He’s from Las Angeles. Is he named for the USC Trojans cry-baby AD? The games at Penn State (that we will attend) and Michigan are scheduled for prime time on the Big Ten Network. We will attend the Scarlet and White game a week from this Friday night…

Rutgers Scarlet vs. White game will be played on Friday night, April 24, at high Point Solutions Stadium.

Rutgers Scarlet vs. White game will be played on Friday night, April 24, at High Point Solutions Stadium.

We look forward to our first trip planned for Camp Randall this fall when Wisconsin hosts Rutgers. QB Joel Stave returns for his senior season after leading the Badgers impressively to six straight wins in midseason, but they were bookended by a weak start and bad finish with six INTs in the Big Ten title game and in the Outback Bowl despite a win over Auburn. With HC Paul Chryst returning to Madison after a three-year hiatus at Pitt, he returns with OC Joe Rudolph who lured a couple of Pitt prospects which could provide some young but good competition for Stave in the fall. Alex Hornibrook and Austin Kafentzis could step up. It will be up to Stave to get off to a strong start next summer if he wants to lead to the Badgers on to the field next season… This weekend we will be at Penn State’s annual Blue-White game kicking off at 4 pm. We’re looking forward to seeing what improvements HC James Franklin and his staff have been working on since their impressive Pinstripe Bowl win over Boston College last season. The O-line seemed to improve leading up to that game to give QB Christian Hackenberg some of the best protection he had all of last season. Some new additions from the JUCO ranks and some maturity among new starters a year ago will be looked for as major keys to improving on 2015. Paris Palmer is a huge OT coming out of Lackawanna JC. We’re anxious to see what he brings to the O-line. WRs Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall will be prime targets for Hackenberg as well as for his back-up Trace McSorley who reportedly gives PSU an added dimension to take the ball and run for big yards when needed. We’ll keep an eye out for TE Mike Gesicki who saw some action last season as a freshman. With the graduation of captain LB Mike Hull as the key loss on defense, we’ll be watching the linebacker play. We want to see how Sophomore Jason Cabinda out of Hunterdon Central (NJ) will perform. DE Carl Nassib will step into the defense and should add some impact. Maybe he practices putting the rush on his older brother Ryan, NY Giants’ back up QB out of Syracuse a year ago. Stellar DT Anthony Zettel returns off a good year, and we’re looking for more involvement from Sophomore DE Garret Sickels, an All-Stater from Red Bank (NJ) Regional. We look forward to a taste of college football and a little tailgating this upcoming weekend. We look forward to also seeing some improvement over what we saw last year figuring it would be the toughest year for the Lions under the NCAA-imposed sanctions. With that in the past, we look forward to watching the Lions make some significant improvements entering 2015…

PSU looks to improve its pass protection in 2015 based on their improved performance versus Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl last December.

PSU looks to improve its pass protection in 2015 based on their improved performance versus Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl last December.

HC Lance Leipold, new HC of the Buffalo Bulls and former HC of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he won six D-3 national championships, seems upbeat about his new team adapting to this staff’s coaching style and expectations. We will be interested to see what Leipold can do making a significant jump from such a successful D-3 program to a work in progress at the FBS level. It will be interesting to see how is coaching style will work at this level. We’re hoping to see some great improvements for U of B. Not right away, but over a few years…We are up to 81 tickets for our big tailgate / 500th game extravaganza tailgate on November 21 when Rutgers visits Army at West Point. Two buses coming up!…On June 20, I plan a book signing for Tales from the Tailgate at the Book Barn in Denville, NJ. Great timing for grads and dads as Father’s Day is the very next day. It makes a great read for college football fans leading up to the 2015 college football season. Pass it on! 10 am to 1 pm on Pocono Road across the street from Saint Clare’s Hospital.

Sprad the word and come to my book signing on Saturday, June 20, at the Book Barn in Denville, NJ. Buy Tales from the Tailgate as a gift and get three other used books for yourself for free!

Spread the word and come to my book signing on Saturday, June 20, at the Book Barn in Denville, NJ. Buy Tales from the Tailgate as a gift and get three other used books for yourself for free!

Steve-o’s Salvos! – April 1, 2015

This is not an April Fool’s joke.  I kid you not! Just when you thought the madness was over, everybody darn near gets a trophy! Once again the NCAA sanctioned another bowl to this year’s lineup that very few will attend.  Two more are pending for this season. You know what? They’ll approve them, too. A bowl committee only needs two conferences and a TV network to partner with. There’s also a bowl under consideration to be played way down under. That’s a trip a lot of PAC-12 fans will look forward to over the holiday season to see their eighth or ninth place team with four wins go play against a team with maybe five. Winning and losing don’t matter anymore in college football. Only TV money matters. When in doubt, ESPN will be there to fill in more air time to show the same ten commercials over and over and over during their plethora of TV time-outs.

On December 19, The AutoNation Cure Bowl will be played in Orlando that already hosts the Champs Sports Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. The money to be raised at the Cure Bowl will thankfully be funding efforts to stop breast cancer, but what it is truly curing is TV’s need to fill more airtime among the 500 channels that there’s little of interest to watch anything else of any way. This one will be aired on CBSTV Sports (their broadcasts are unbearable to watch in person with too many TV time-outs). The American Athletic and The Sun Belt will square off in this one. But how come the NCAA can allow this game to be scheduled that weekend instead on an opening round for an eight team play-off (to be played at the home field of the higher seed is what I’d like to see). I thought this time would cut into the players’ final exam schedules? After this weekend the winners would meet at the semi-finals on New Year’s Day, and from there the winners play for the national championship on a Monday night. At least classes are basically over while the teams prepare.

CURE-BOWL-LOGO-e1414011780927

The Arizona Bowl is pending to be played between the Mountain West and ConferenceUSA. The Little Rock Bowl to be played in Little Rock, Arkansas (I wonder who will sponsor that game?) will also pit the AAC against the Sun Belt. I like that the lesser conferences are getting more air time in these games, but I’d prefer to see some of these better teams with good records displace some of the lesser Power Five Conference low- life’s who proved all year that they were mediocre at best at the supposed highest level. Of course, it’s just another sign that the Power Conferences need to continue to play for the bigger pay days, and they’ll let the lesser ones gnaw on some leftover scraps.

With 42 bowl games now, 82 of 128 teams in the FBS (65%) get to play in “bowl games”. How do you get 82 winning programs out of 128 teams? Either you don’t, or I guess you schedule more teams out of the lower divisions for automatic wins. I thought the NCAA wanted to reduce the dilution of the regular season’s importance? Teams that have won less than half their games will now be bowl eligible. Note my crack about the PAC-12’s idea considering a game to be played in Melbourne, Australia. That costs a lot to go see two teams with losing records play for a trophy to put in the showcase and maybe a quick vacation of some sort, especially during the holiday season. These are not “bowl” games any more. They are truly “consolation games”. These will “console” the hurt feelings of the losers who didn’t play well enough to earn a decent bowl trip to a game where a lot of national attention would have been focused. These also console the pockets of the bowl committees who are guaranteed money from the schools whether their fans can afford to buy tickets to attend these games or not. It’s nice to see the high costs of tuitions that parents and our government pay are benefitting somebody.

Steve-o’s Salvos – March 15, 2015

Our gala extravaganza planned for our 500th game celebration is coming along nicely as we got commitments for 61 attendees so far and more coming on board as the word is spreading. We have one full busload already committed to, so if you’ve got your invitation, and haven’t responded yet, let us know as soon as you can. That’s for November 21 when Rutgers meets Army at West Point. If anyone you know invites you to a wedding that weekend, tell them you already have plans…Thinking back, besides a few games missed for funerals attended over the years, there’s a few instances where our opportunity to reach 500 got delayed a little longer than it could have happened. Several come to mind. From 1987-1992, I watered down the schedules as I concentrated on my MBA while working full-time and my weekends had to be dedicated to studying and projects. I saw some quality games though during those years. Besides that though, there’s the 1999 Michigan at Penn State game when 4-year old Eric was sick in the hotel room all night and I sold our tickets the next morning and headed home missing our opportunity to see Tom Brady play collegiately that day in a close win over the Lions. The same rivalry was missed in 1995 when a freak November snow storm was too treacherous for the typical four hour drive. Another major snow storm fell on Salem, Virginia one year when we had planned to attend another in the series on national championship D-3 games between Mt. Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater. There was a time my Ford Escort died entering the New Jersey Turnpike on our way to see an FCS playoff game when Portland State was visiting Delaware. In 2008, another car mishap occurred when a bolt came loose in a tire well of my Malibu (that I still have) and locked up my wheels on the way to see Oregon State at Penn State. There was also an opportunity that fell through to see a Central Florida game when I was at a Friday wedding in Orlando and some other people from the wedding evidently didn’t think I seriously would’ve gone. It was a last minute shot, but that could have added to the current total. In 2012, I was totally under the weather and decided not to venture to D.C. though I had tickets for the Military Bowl between San Jose State and Bowling Green. There may be a few more, but these are the ones that definitely detracted from making this goal earlier. Just as well. We came up with a pretty good plan on a pretty good date as it is….It’s a great time of year for college sports as we enter “March Madness” with the invitations extended tonight for the “Big dance”. College baseball is already about a month along. Well, at least college baseball is well underway in the warmer climes as teams from the north head south on weekends and during spring breaks. The Major Leagues are just figuring out who amongst their pitching staffs have to sit out the year for Tommy John surgery. In the meantime, many football squads throughout the country are beginning to stir for spring practices. They’re putting on helmets and shoulder pads to get outside, shake off the cobwebs, do some hitting, and start sorting out who can do what after a few months of off-season conditioning in preparation for 2015. Among teams within driving distance from us who we generally see play each regular season, Princeton has been practicing for a couple of weeks during extremely cold temperatures and now heading to Japan where it will hold three more sessions to prepare for their spring game being played this weekend in Japan against the Japanese College football champs of 2015, the Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters. Penn State and Army will be holding intrasquad scrimmages on April 18. Rutgers will have their Scarlet and White game on Friday night, April 24, and Temple will be holding their Cherry-White game on April 25 at a place on their campus called Chodoff Field. It is unclear whether Navy is holding a scrimmage from the information on their website. Lafayette and Lehigh haven’t announced their intra-squad plans for their spring games yet. We plan to attend the Penn State and Rutgers spring games after enjoying our month of March Madness!…Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo’s messages to his team during offseason work outs are pretty blunt as USNA enters its first season in the American Athletic Conference. “We’re smaller than everybody else (we play)! We can’t let anybody play harder than us! Next drill! Get there! “And even more profound, “If you don’t do your job, we got zero chance to win!” You can hear it all on http://www.navysports.com. Navy’s generally been smaller than most teams it faces, but with a conference championship as a new goal, the effort to win will become even greater at the Naval Academy… We have just about everything in place for our 2015 schedule and avoiding temptations to go to more games available to us only to assure that the November 21 commitment is truly our 500th game. Our biggest question marks are how we will schedule our first three games over the Labor Day Weekend. Usually, we like to find a game on Thursday night as we did last season when we saw Texas A&M stomp South Carolina before seeing two games on the following Saturday. In Baltimore, Ohio state beat Navy to begin its quest for the national title. On the way home we saw an FCS contest where Central Connecticut defeated 2013 FCS runner-up Towson at Johnny Unitas Stadium. We are strongly considering starting our 2015 season where we kind of finished last as we visited Nashville on our way back from three bowl games in Florida. If we do, it may start with the Tennessee Volunteers who finished our season with a dominant win over Iowa in the Taxslayer Bowl. At LP Field where we watched Notre Dame defeat LSU on a last second field goal in the Franklin /American Mortgage Music City Bowl before we headed to the three bowls in Florida, the Vols will kick off their season against Bowling Green. However, we’re waiting to find out the exact time because across town that day, Vanderbilt will be hosting Western Kentucky in their season opener at Vanderbilt Stadium. If there is a day-night opportunity, we’d consider taking advantage as we love to visit Nashville.   The Vandy-WKU game could be a pretty good match-up and it would be our first game ever hosted by the Commodores. It would be the second time for us to see the Hilltoppers who we ironically added to our history in 2009 when we saw them crushed by UT, 63-7, in our first game at Neyland Stadium. A second option is to see a Thursday night D-2 game when the East Stroudsburg Warriors host the LIU-CW Post Pioneers at ESU’s Eiler-Martin Stadium, a short drive from our headquarters. The following Saturday, Penn State will visit Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. We hope to see an improved PSU and an improved Temple team go at it. In both these scenarios, we have a common third game to finish off our Labor Day weekend. That Monday night, our plan is to be at Blacksburg, Virginia where the VT Hokies will be hosting Ohio State at Lane Stadium in the season opener for both squads. Surely you remember that Tech was the lone blemish on the Buckeye schedule in 2014. We’ll also see who Urban Meyer starts at QB for his defending national champs among Braxton Miller, JT Barrett, or Cardale Jones. If for some reason this game can’t work out for us we could do Thursday night in Charlotte when North Carolina and South Carolina square off to open their seasons before heading out to Nashville. We’re keeping our options open until the game times shake out in Nashville, but no matter how we look at it, it should be a fun opening weekend for collegefootballfan’s 2015 season opening weekend…The following weekend, we already have Washington State at Rutgers penned in. Last season RU came back from a game played in Seattle with a 41-38 win. Though Mike Leach’s Cougars finished 3-9, 2-7 in the PAC 12, in typical Leach fashion, they led the nation in passing yardage with 477.7 yards per game scoring on 45 TD passes. They averaged 31.8 points on offense while allowing 38.6 on defense. Losses included a 38-31 defeat at the hands of No. 2 Oregon, and a 60-59 loss to the Cal Bears. Connor Halliday started the first nine games of the season at QB, but redshirt sophomore Luke Falk took over and impressed statistically with 1,859 passing yards, 13 TDs, and 7 INTs. Experienced receivers in River Cracraft and Dom Williams return. HC Mike Leach didn’t sit on his hands during the offseason as he sought to improve his coaching staff. He promoted his former record-setting QB at Texas Tech, Graham Harrell, from analyst to Wide receivers coach. Surely he’ll be training Falk and other QBs in the Mike Leach passing system. To shore up his defense, he hired former Missouri secondary coach Alex Grinch as his new Defensive coordinator and Safety Coach. We’ve seen Grinch’s secondary two of the last three seasons including wins over South Carolina and Minnesota (Citrus Bowl) this past season. His experience includes coaching with Chip Kelly at the University of New Hampshire and as a player playing for Mount Union where he played on three Division 3 National championship teams. WAZU will be an interesting team to watch in 2015. It will open its season at home against Portland State before visiting Rutgers at the Birthplace of College football on September 12.

“Angel in the desert”

Check out our link “Tales from the Tailgate” to read an updated excerpt of a favorite chapter in our book about our adventures on our quest to see every major college football team play at least once.  The book covers the first 119 teams, but we’ve kept up seeing eight others that have joined the Football Bowl Subdivision since then.  If you enjoy this particular tale, link on to the book on our Amazon.com website sand read reviews by other readers.  As an avid college football fan, you’ll get a taste for what a great time we’ve had (and continue to have) attending college football games over time and all over the country.  And after you read it, let us know what you think about it by adding your own review to the Amazon site.  It makes for great reading in the offseason waiting for the action to start again next fall. It also makes a great gift for birthdays, graduations, and Father’s Day for any college football fan who would enjoy following this adventure while their favorite team gets ready for the 2015 season.

TFTTCover

Collegefootballfan.com announces plans for Game #500

Collegefootballfan.com has announced its plan to host a tailgate celebration for its 500th college football game attended since this adventure started 36 years ago in September 1979.  On November 21,  our 500th game will be celebrated at West Point where the Black Knights of Army will host the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University. This game was originally scheduled at Yankee Stadium, but recently the two schools worked it out with Yankee officials to moved the game to West Point, a venue where CFF.com has run several tailgate/bus trips in the past. The kickoff will be scheduled at 12 noon or 3:30 pm to be announced at later date.  It will be a fitting match up as collegefootballfan.com has only seen Penn State and Navy play more games than these two football programs.  Over the years, CFF.com has attended 53 Rutgers games and 47 Army games.  From 1979 to 1988, CFF.com saw the two squads meet in The Meadowlands five times.  RU won the first four handily by scores of 20-0, 24-3, 14-7, and 35-7. In 1988, the Black Knights  defeated the Scarlet, 34-24, in what was CFF’s 100th game milestone.

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Guests who have tailgated with CFF over the years have been extended invitations already.  Friends, family, and fans met over the years attending 485 games in 32 states and in D.C. will  be joining from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey among a growing list.  One busload of tailgaters is sold out already and we are starting to fill a second.  BBQ grilling will be managed by Francisco O’Shoe (aka Frankie Scarpa) who will be torn that day as he is both a Rutgers fan and an Army fan.

In addition, our 498th and 499th games will both be attended the previous weekend.  On Friday, November 13, Collegefootballfan.com will attend its first game at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado where the Colorado Buffaloes will host PAC-12 foe USC, a highly-ranked pre-season team.  Check back for more announcements to come pertaining to this game.  The following day, CFF.com will attend its 499th game when we will attend an Air Force Academy home game for the first time in Colorado Springs where the Falcons host their Mountain West rivals, the Utah State Aggies.   These games add to what should be a tremendous season to celebrate our 500th game since we started back in 1979. Check our 2015 schedule as we continue to plan for another great college football season.

We're coming,  Ralphie!  Beat the Trojans!

We’re coming, Ralphie!
Beat the Trojans!

“Steve-o’s Salvos!” February 26, 2015

Oregon will lose QB Marcus Mariota to graduation this year. Good luck in the NFL, Marcus! How do the Ducks replace him? They recruit Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams, two time runner up for the FCS Walter Payton Award, to use another year of eligibility after three great years leading the FCS Eagles to three consecutive years into the FCS playoffs. Montana State HC Rob Ash (former HC at Juniata College, the Alma Mater, back in the early ‘80s), was interviewed on ESPN.com making the argument that the FCS should not be a minor league for the major football programs. We agree. However, we feel that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better. With the “Power Five” now wielding the big sticks such as monetary allowances, four year scholarships guaranteed, and better health insurance for their players, what’s going to prevent them from making offers to not only the best players in the FCS, but also to the best players in what we now call the mid-majors, or the “Other Five.” Maybe a Power Five school takes notice of some freshman or sophomore player active at that level that they may have underestimated or found that they didn’t have enough scholarships to offer to him at that time. While matriculating at a non-Power Five school, a particular student-athlete performs sensationally at the next level. What’s going to prevent the big program from foregoing an unproven high school entity and instead enticing a proven college caliber player from that Other Five or FCS school to come play for them? Sit out one year and red shirt and get two or three more years eligibility unless the transfer rules change to prevent this. The rich will be robbing from the poor and the chasm between the powers and the others widens. The playing field and the recruiting wars are weighing heavily on the side of the Power Five to do what they can to attract the best talent. I don’t see major obstacles in play yet preventing this from happening. It’s going to be a minor league system without the official designations like AAA, or AA, or A leagues like baseball uses to build their teams at the major league level, but that’s what could develop here if rules and harsh penalties aren’t put into place. It’s going to be a scramble filled with corruption and becoming nothing but a minor league system for the blind-folded NFL. The rich among the Power Five will get richer and those among the “other Five” will lose their best players. And you watch, the SEC will still be scheduling mid-majors and FCS programs every season at home to hand out a big pay check for a lop-sided win, another topic for another time. However, these could also become recruiting “try-outs”. It’s going to potentially ruin college football making it nothing but a minor league for the pro game if the NCAA doesn’t wake up to see who is truly reaping the benefits of their athletic programs. It’s already happening, but it’s going to get worse unless the NCAA figures how to offset the advantages of the Power Five …Interesting to me that the Big Ten is considering making a policy change that occurred back in 1972 when freshman became eligible to play at the varsity level. Most programs had freshman teams back in those days which played a limited number of games. The thinking now as it was purportedly back then was to ease players fresh out of high school into college life for a year before overwhelming them with the academic rigors of college studies. Call me facetious, but things have changed since 1972. One issue is that back then, students were basically expected to graduate in four years. However, we now have redshirting used as a strategy for sitting out a year to as a team building strategy. This allows athletes to earn degrees in five years instead of four. So did they just offer these kids more scholarship money and a monthly stipend for five years instead of four?  Is every player going to now get a five year scholarship to sit out as a redshirt for one year to allow them to play four in total? Are they going to change the rule that a player has to be out of high school for three years before the NFL can draft him? The schools have to commit four or five years to the players, but do the players have to now reciprocate? We see the biggest impact leading to more television influence. Are we going to see the Michigan vs Ohio State freshman game on the Big Ten Network every year to get a glimpse of what that rivalry has in store for us fans in coming years? With commercials? Tuesday night football? Wednesday night football? Is this about more air time and more money? High school kids of today get more exposure on national TV than college teams of yesteryear ever got. Do we think that these freshman games will be played without any airtime? You’re kidding yourself if you think these games will not be played in front of television crews. People watch the NFL combine so I’m sure they’ll watch freshman games. This seems to be putting the pressure back on the players that they were supposedly taking off. At least there are plenty of sports journalism majors looking for opportunities to start new careers…. The American Athletic Conference announced its conference schedules for 2015. We planned to attend the Navy Homecoming announced for October 24th which officially tagged Tulane as the opponent now. No too excited about that matchup, but we have some time to weigh our options. We do look forward though to seeing Navy QB Keenan Reynolds continue to chase the record for rushing touchdowns in an NCAA career. He is currently the all-time leading NCAA QB in rushing TDs with 64. He is fourth in NCAA history in rushing TDs overall and will surpass all-time leader Montee Ball of Wisconsin if he tallies 14 during his upcoming senior season. That could be the weekend it happens…A game we are booked for really has us excited. On Friday, November 13, we will be at Colorado’s Folsom Field to see the Buffs host the USC Trojans. We’ll be talking to CU SID Dave Plati to get on the field with Ralphie again before the game. I will have to look into training at our local high school to see if I can actually “sprint” down the field without hurting or embarrassing myself. I would be “pumped” for the Buffs to pull the upset over the Trojans! The adrenalin will be pumping for sure. The first and only time I attended a CU game was against Colorado State at Invesco Field. I always wanted to get back out there to see a game at Folsom.  On top of that, since it’s a Friday night game, we’re anxiously awaiting the Mountain West Conference schedules to come out to see which nearby conference member may host a game the next day. We figure among Air Force, Colorado State, and Wyoming, all within a few hours driving distance from Boulder, one of those will host our 499th game. If we have multiple choices, I might take a poll from our regulars to help us choose. Can’t wait!…Here’s a tough scheduling choice for us, but probably not for a lot of you. We are anticipating a chance to finally get to a major rivalry we’ve always wanted to attend, USC at Notre Dame on October 17. You’ll laugh, but an alternative option that came up on that date may steer us in another direction – the Charlotte 49ers at the Old Dominion Monarchs in Norfolk! What the heck am I thinking, you wonder? Well if you’ve followed us along time, you know our mantra is to see ‘em all! Charlotte is now officially an FBS team. Seeing them will keep us up to date seeing all 128 FBS teams by the end of the 2015 season. After seeing ODU blown out by a very good Marshall team last season to add the Monarchs as one of four new teams last season, this should be a much more competitive game. However, even more important, our son Eric, US Navy Petty Officer 3/c, is probably stationed in Norfolk for only a while longer, so it’s our chance to spend a weekend and go to a game with him down there. USC vs. ND is always a tough ticket and they will be playing every year between South Bend and LA forever, so there will always be other chances for us in the future. We’ll be kicking this around for a while…Here’s a coaching change of interest to us as we enjoy following the Ivy League. The Columbia Lions have been the traditional doormat of the Ancient Eight since…well, ancient history. Their last winning season was in 1996 when they finished 8-2, 5-2. The Lions finished their last two seasons winless. What to do? Timing is everything. Former University of Pennsylvania Head Coach Al Bagnoli “retired “ as HC of the Quakers at the end of 2014 and was assigned to be “Director of Special Projects “ at Penn. Big corporations give those titles to people with one foot out the door. Bagnoli coached U. of Penn for 23 seasons. Over that time, his teams won nine outright Ivy League titles (last in 2012), finished four seasons at 10-0, achieved an all-time record of 148-80 overall, and went 112-49 among the Ivies. Prior to that, he led D-3 Union College of New York to an 86-19 record over ten years. Columbia knocked once and Bagnoli moves to New York City to take over the beleaguered Lions and only promises to bring them “back to relevancy”, whenever that was. The 62-year old Bagnoli looks at this as fresh start and “a challenge.” We see it as one of the best stories this off season. His work is cut out for him. We’re looking to see how a class act like Bagnoli who’s been successful for so many years at this level will be able to do with one of the biggest challenges in college football – turning the Columbia Lions into winners.

“Steveo’s Salvos!” February 11, 2015

We’re not big on the recruiting class rankings. Generally, the overall class cannot really be evaluated until their third season as a unit. Some will make immediate impacts, and others will never be heard from again. However, we have an interest this season to see how Penn State may improve its line play after a tough season for the O line this past season. They added some beef up front with some top northeastern talent. With a little insight from our friend Chris Schmouder of WVSL Radio 92.3 ESPN radio in Sunbury, PA, the top prospect looks to be Lackawanna JUCO transfer Paris Palmer who stands 6-7 290 lbs. A top five JUCO player recruited heavily by other Top 20 programs, he looks ready to step in to start for James Franklin and the Lions this fall. From Pittsburgh’s Baldwin HS in Pittsburgh comes 6-8 294 lb. OT sterling Jenkins. A work in progress, he could be a top player for two or three years, but the jury will be out to watch his development. Ryan Bates, graduating from Archbishop Wood in Warminster, PA, led his team to a 28-2 record during his prep years. At 6-5 275, he could be the center of the team’s future. He may end up red-shirting this year. NJ All-Stater Steven Gonzalez from Union City HS steps in at 6-4 320 lbs. He may go the red shirt route, but surely there are some evaluations to be made during the spring. Palmer and Jenkins are already enrolled in State College and we’ll hopefully get to see them in action on April 18 at the Penn State Blue-White game. In addition, former Stanford C Kevin Reihner, 6-4 295 lbs. and battle tested, will graduate from there in March and the Scranton, Pennsylvania native will have a year of eligibility to play for the Nittany Lions as a grad student. His experience will help determine what freshman linemen will benefit the team with a red shirt season for the long term. We’ll see if the Lions can redevelop their line to give them some renewed power and push during the upcoming season. We plan to see the Lions host Rutgers and San Diego State next September…Also in regards to recruiting, we were interested to see how new U. of Buffalo HC Lance Leipold would do on his first year recruiting at the FBS level after stepping up from D-3 Wisconsin-Whitewater where he won six national championships. He signed up 21 recruits including a couple of transfers from the University of Alabama-Birmingham that discontinued their football program after last season. Of interest to us is that there was not one UB recruit from the state of Wisconsin where most of Leipold’s former players came from. We’re interested to see what he can do to turn the Bulls, a Mid-American Conference team, around…Check out our new Stats and Highlights link in our header. It features the best teams seen, significant scores, and Heisman Trophy winners we’ve see over the years among other fun memories.  And there will be more features added in the near future.  We’ve built quite a history so far… We may call this our year of the rivalry. We’re targeting Army-Navy, Air Force-Navy, Notre Dame-USC, and Ohio State-Michigan. Our toughest call on our 2015 plan is figuring where to start. One option is to start where we basically left off in January – in Nashville which we love to visit! We have double-header potential: Bowling Green will play Tennessee, who we finished up with in the Taxslayer Bowl, at LP Stadium. Western Kentucky visits Vandy at Vanderbilt Stadium, a first for us if we go. We’re waiting to see if the starting times will allow us to do both or if one game may possibly move to Thursday night. Other options are under consideration, but Nashville could be calling us back!…Too bad we’re disciplining ourselves to be sure we reach game # 500 on November 21. We say that because Lafayette College, an hour drive from where we live, plays a great FCS home schedule that includes several 6 pm starts which could help us target some Saturday double header opportunities. Their home slate at Fisher Field includes CAA power William and Mary, Ivy rival Penn, 2014 Pat League champ Fordham, undefeated Ivy champ Harvard, Pat League runner-up Bucknell, and Colgate. The last one is on November 7. We will leave ourselves the option to see this Patriot League contest or the PL game eleven miles further west where Lehigh hosts Holy Cross. Hopefully one of these games will have a bearing on this year’s Patriot championship or FCS bid, and if not we’ll go see a more competitive game if something more interesting pops up locally that weekend…Interesting opener on Labor Day, 2015 – Ohio State at Virginia Tech, a big revenge match for the Buckeyes to open the season. What OSU QB will start, and how many of the three former, returning starting QBs will play? Maybe this game is another option to kick off our season if we can work out some kind of weekend DH… Speaking of VA Tech, we plan to see them in September 2016 when they play Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway in Kingsport, Tennessee to establish the attendance record at a college football game. The short oval, track venue holds 160,000 fans. We plan to be part of that record…Rutgers turned down former Paramus Catholic HS (NJ) HC Chris Partridge who applied for a coaching job there that included recruiting coordinator. Evidently Partridge was not too popular among many NJ high school coaches who played against him and recruited against him for top players in the state. So what happens next? New Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh, who got a late start in recruiting this season, hired him. I’m not sure if his plan is to focus on recruiting in New Jersey alone, but based on the rep he has among his former competitors, Harbaugh may not get what he bargained for. Last season, the Wolverines recruited Jabrill Peppers, the top recruit in the Garden state, and his fellow Paramus Catholic teammate, offensive lineman Juwann Bushell-Beatty. Both played for Partridge in high school. Peppers played DB in three games his freshman year. Funny how these things work out.