Steve-o’s Salvos – May 18, 2015

More on the draft and a few notes…

  1. #67 OG A.J. Cann, South Carolina to Jaguars. Over two seasons, we watched South Carolina’s offense move the ball behind QB Connor Shaw, tough and versatile, and Dylan Thompson, mostly a drop-back passer. Both offenses could move the ball and A.J. Cann was right up front making them move successfully in both styles. He should be playing at the pro level for a few years.
  2. #85 TE Tyler Kroft, Rutgers to Bengals. Aside from meeting Tyler’s Mom in the parking lot at Yankee Stadium at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Iowa State, I don’t remember much about him playing during the five games we saw RU play when he was on the roster. If he’s an effective blocker, he could be critical for the Bengals needs. If not, we don’t see him playing too long. He doesn’t seem to add a lot to the Cincy passing game.
  3. #106 RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan State to Bears. Langford tore up Penn State in the Spartans’ 34-10 victory at State College late in the season. PSU defense was put into poor field position by its offense on several occasions. Langford cashed in with two TDs in workmanlike fashion gaining 122 yards on 30 carries. He has drive and stamina that makes him tough in short yardage situations despite standing in at 6-1, 208 lbs. He could be a situational player for the pros.
  4. #126 RB Mike Davis, South Carolina to 49ers. Davis steps in for former Gamecock Marcus Lattimore whose pro career never got going due to devastating knee injuries his junior year at South Carolina. Before that, we thought he was one of the best college RBs we’d ever seen. Too bad. Davis stepped in to take his place. He was good in several games, but never seemed to be a key cog in the offense except for this year’s game against Mizzou when he gained 104 yards on 22 carries and scored a TD. He’ll be a spot player most likely at the pro level. RBs seem to come and go now quicker than ever.
  5. #132 WR DeAndre Smelter, Georgia Tech to the 49ers. He didn’t play in the Orange Bowl we attended due to a knee injury, but you wonder what the pros see when they draft a WR from a triple-option offense. Interesting. It can help Paul Johnson’s recruiting efforts for receivers as it gives his recruits a glimmer of hope to get noticed. Despite the run oriented offense, the 6-3 222-lb Smelter was the go to guy before the injury. He caught seven TDS and averaged 20 yards per catch. With his size and skill, it sounds like he could be a good pro if he overcomes the ACL injury.
  6. #138 RB David Cobb, Minnesota to Titans. He averaged 128 yards per game during the season and scored 13 TDS for the Gophers, but we saw him get gobbled up by a tough Mizzou front seven in the BWW Citrus Bowl and held to 81 yards in their loss. With the focus off him in a Titan offense to be led by Marcus Mariota if he can remain healthy, he may become a key player that Tennessee can use in its offense.

Navy DE Paul Quessenberry was signed as a free agent by the Texans. Of course, they have to figure how he can play with his military obligation, but is HC Bill O’Brien sending a strong message to last year’s first choice Jadaveon Clowney? Play with some heart because I’m going to find somebody that will play DE opposite as tough as JJ Watt if you can’t…I see that the Tennessee vs Bowling Green game start time is back to a TBA status. I guess someone realizef a 4 pm start at LP Stadium was detrimental to the Vanderbilt opener across town against Western Kentucky scheduled the same day. Hopefully they will work out two convenient kickoffs so that I can go see two games in Nashville on September 5 to open my season. A third game may be seen some other day on that Labor Day weekend…ESPN reports average college attendance was down 2.3% to an average of 44,603 per game and attribute it to high quality HDTV to watch. Bull! Two primary reasons: 1.) watered-down schedules in non-conference games. Not only are sales down, but many stadiums empty now by half time and who can blame the home fans for not sitting through one-sided blow-outs? People are tired of wasting their money. There’s more fun out in the parking lots; and 2) TV does have an effect, but it’s not positive. It’s getting harder and harder to enjoy a game in person with not only too many TV time-outs, but very long TV time-outs. It takes away the flow and ferocity of a football game…Three new bowl games: everybody gets a trophy. Might as well let every team play in a “Consolation” game. Watch whatever game you want. It’s gotta be better than all the other crap on TV…SEC’s version of Power Five competition – Notre Dame – definitely; BYU – OK; Army – are you kidding me? Why are conferences making this call arbitrarily? Another weakness of NCAA leadership. What’s the sense of its existence in college football? They don’t control anything…In a few weeks out, the preseason pubs will be out with predictions and bowl schedules. Can’t wait to laugh at their obvious predictions and looking forward to planning our bowl schedule.

Steve-o’s Salvos – May 10, 2015

Over the course of that last two years, I’ve gotten to attend games played by about 40 different FBS programs and more at the lower levels. I’m amazed at how many players from teams whose games I attended were drafted over the course of three days. When I watched the first few rounds, I’d seen players that vividly stood out, and others who may not have made a lasting impression. Sometimes there are players that don’t seem to be on anyone’s radar screen, and when their name comes up, I think – bam! I saw that guy ( example from a few years ago -QB Colin Kaepernick for Nevada who I saw play as a frosh). It’s another fun aspect of college football. Some college players will be sure- fire stars and even make the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday (i.e.,  I watched Soph Syracuse RB Art Monk play in 1979 in two games and he eventually made the Pro HOF as a long-time WR with the Washington Redskins). You never know who you’ll see who’s going to become a household name, and in some instances, you may have seen one of the biggest busts perform at the collegiate level who is not going to have the right talent, desire, skill, luck, or system to make it in the NFL. Sometimes you see that coming (i.e. Washington QB Jake Locker, and I still say DE Jadaveon Clowney of South Carolina).

Here are my notes, comments, impressions, observations, and predictions regarding players drafted during the first and second rounds by the NFL in 2015 that I’ve seen play over the last two seasons. For what they’re worth, you decide. I’m only interested in seeing if my impressions based on performances I see on the field are accurate. Granted, I’m “only” a fan and not an expert like the draft soothsayers who have something to say about everybody. I guess they watch a lot of film and talk to a lot of people. However,  when I see guys play in person as opposed to listening to all the hype and spin put out by the media, I think I can come away with a more unfettered impression. I think our society has become overwhelmed with “analysis paralysis” in just about everything. I like to simplify things. Here goes nothing:

Jameis Winston withstood the light pressure he faced when we saw him play against Syracuse, but it was much different story against Oregon  in the national semi-final.

Jameis Winston withstood the light pressure he faced when we saw him play against Syracuse, but it was much different story against Oregon in the national semi-final.

  1. #1 pick QB Jameis Winston, Florida State to Tampa Bay. I saw him complete 30 of 37 passes for 317 yards and 3 TDs in the Noles win over Syracuse this season. He played behind a solid offensive line at FSU, but when that protection crumbled against Oregon in the national semi-finals, Jameis showed he couldn’t take the heat on the field or along the sideline as his antics with HC Jimbo Fisher showed he lacked composure under pressure, something he saw little of all season. At Tampa, who’s going to block for him? Will he see more pressure than he did in college? You bet he will. Will he mature and learn to lead under such pressure? I think this will be a big obstacle for him. His “me-first” attitude will have him point the blame at his teammates. He will be off to a rocky start if they start him this season, and it will take a few years to mature at least. If he can’t, he will have a short career or a non-stellar one.
  2. #5 pick OG Bandon Scherf, Iowa to Washington. I watched Iowa humiliated by a very quick defense of Tennessee in the final game of my season, the Taxslayer Bowl. UT was quicker than Iowa on both sides of the ball, and all season long the Vols were a mediocre team. As for Scherf, I couldn’t tell much as the entire Hawkeye O-line seemed persona non-grata until late in the game when Butch Jones took his first-teamer Vols out and Iowa made the final score respectable. Scherf had a great rep coming in, but moving him from tackle to guard might be the right adjustment for him in the pros.

    Scherf (#68) finished the only TD against Tennessee's first team defense in the TaxSlayer Bowl like this.

    Scherf (#68) finished the only TD against Tennessee’s first team defense in the TaxSlayer Bowl like this.

  3. #11 pick CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State to Minnesota. I was impressed by State’s defensive pass coverage and Waynes’ covered well and made some nice plays in a dominant Spartan victory over Penn State this season. He stopped an early Penn State drive to keep the Lions at bay with an INT off a deflection in the end zone. I think he will be a great cover CB for the Vikings.
  4. #23 pick DE Shane Ray, Missouri to Denver. Was it some kind of coincidence that Ray gets arrested for possession of marijuana, and the state of Colorado, where he is now destined to play, has legalized marijuana? Did he intend to use the small quantity he possessed for himself, or did he have it with intent to distribute? If the first, he may have a safe haven depending on the NFL’s view, on the other, he’ll have problem if he does the latter beyond Colorado’s borders. That’s Denver’s problem now and they better fix it in a hurry or they’ve wasted a draft pick. We saw him play well at South Carolina, and he was adequate against Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl, where the Golden Gophers plan to avoid him backfired. I think the Broncos will get him past this incident and he will be productive for them for years to come
  5. #34 pick OT Donovan Smith, Penn State to Tampa Bay. This was the blocking help the Bucs found for Winston? PSU had the worst blocking line in college football this past season. Smith didn’t show much if any leadership, and the input about him is that he didn’t put out on every play or in practice or in the weight room. The PSU line was like a sieve that saw QB Christian Hackenburg running for his life most of the season. The running game was the most ineffective ever in Happy Valley. Penn State is probably glad Smith’s gone and can replace him with someone who will at least put out on every play to block for Hackenburg and help get the Lion offense back into gear. Smith won’t last long in the pros. No motor. Wasted pick. Hey Jameis, if he’s one of your tackles, get ready to duck, or run for your life!

    This was pretty typical of PSU's pass protection all of last season.  I'm not sure it that's Smith on the ground or if he was even in against Michigan State.

    This was pretty typical of PSU’s pass protection all of last season. I’m not sure if that’s Smith on the ground or if he was even in against Michigan State.

  6. #37 pick WR Devin Smith, Ohio State to NY Jets. We saw Smith break for a long 80-yard catch and run pass from frosh QB T.J. Barrett to give the Buckeyes a 20-14 lead over Navy before the fourth period in their way to an opening win on their way to the national championship. Smith has a penchant for getting free and beating the coverage. He had big plays against good coverage in the CFPs. The coverage will be tighter in the pros, but we think he will be just as effective as a go-to man. In the case of the Jets, however, they still have to figure who will be able to get the ball to him. This could mean a slow start for his pro career, but if he doesn’t make it here, someone else will get the value from him that he can provide.
  7. #55 pick TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota to Baltimore. Great pick. Saw an effective blocker and saw him break a tackle and hurdle a would-be tackler on one play in the open field against Missouri in the Citrus Bowl for a long TD run after the catch. Very athletic, fast in the open field and a good blocker. Strong and tough.

    Maxx Williams took out a Mizzou defender on this run off a fake punt in the Citrus Bowl.

    Maxx Williams leveled out a Mizzou defender on this run off a fake punt in the Citrus Bowl.

  8. #58 pick DE Markus Golden, Missouri to Phoenix. Minnesota’s game plan to stay away from DE Shane Ray in the Citrus Bowl fizzled as his counterpart on the other end shined to win game MVP honors. Golden tallied ten tackles including 1.5 sacks, four tackles for losses, and he forced a fumble. He’s a tough, hard-nosed DE who won’t back down. At 6-3, 260 lbs., he will bring some pressure for the Cardinals and close runners down coming his way.

    Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel, MVP DE Markus Golden, and WR Bud Sasser  spoke at the post-game press conference. Golden was drafted by the Cardinals and Sasser got drafted later by the Rams

    Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel, MVP DE Markus Golden, and WR Bud Sasser spoke at the post-game press conference. Golden was drafted by the Cardinals and Sasser got drafted later by the Rams

Look for more draft input on the ensuing rounds from in our next Salvo.

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 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 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.


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 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 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 announces plans for Game #500 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 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 has only seen Penn State and Navy play more games than these two football programs.  Over the years, has attended 53 Rutgers games and 47 Army games.  From 1979 to 1988, 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.


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, 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, 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!