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"Steveo's Salvos" - February 2014 Edition
Get ready for our new look soon currently under construction
"Salvos" is presented as the editorial content of CollegeFootballFan.com focusing on current issues surrounding college football and news about some of the teams on the CFF schedule this year. Originally from a newsletter, this web site, CollegeFootballFan.com, has evolved.
Off-season – We usually don't get caught up in all the recruiting/singing hype, and this year was no exception. We focus more on the action, fun, and results in and around the games. After enjoying a great season in 2013, we utilized our time to get reacquainted with family and friends, painted three bedrooms while both kids started life away from home, shoveled too much snow here in North Jersey, and participated in some alternative fun like The Annual K of C Men's Beefsteak Night in Boonton, NJ with the legendary "Uncle Floyd" appearing for his 32nd straight year, and took part in the annual Polar Bear Plunge down the Jersey Shore for the first time to raise funds for the NJ Special Olympics which will also host the Nationals Special Olympics this year. Overall, more than one million dollars was raised, and our group of 47 Knights of Columbus raised over $19,000 for a charity well worth it. We have some other things coming up to keep us busy in the next few weeks (besides our real livelihood as well) , but now we will start focusing on updating this website. We have already signed on with a new host and we're working on some new looks as we learn to use the software. and start redesigning pages with new options. We're trying to convert as much as possible to the new site (still www.collegefootballfan.com), but we still have a learning curve to go through. In the end , we hope you'll like our look and enjoy some new features and be able to utilize more links to some other interesting sites you will enjoy. We'll start off slow, but looks for some changes coming up soon. We can't wait to get it all started to enjoy new looks, features and ways to keep you more up to date on our endeavors and college football in general.
Spring flings – Possibly three spring games will be on tap for us locally this April. After a five-day vacation in Florida, we hope to get up to State College on April 12 and see what James Franklin has going on up there. As he's done so far, we expect that he'll do something out of the ordinary with some kind of new twists to make this year's Blue-White game interesting and entertaining to say the least. Hopefully all the snow will be melted to enable us to tailgate in dry parking areas. The following week, we'll travel up to West Point to see new head coach Jeff Monken fresh out of Georgia Southern try to revitalize the Brave Old Army program to not only run a more efficient triple option as he'd done with the Eagles and as an assistant previously at Navy, but also hope to see him try to shore up Army's defense as well. Looking forward to that. On Saturday, April 26, we'll attend the Rutgers spring game to see our local Lenape Valley grad Nick Rafferty get some shots in the game under new DC Joe Rossi who was promoted from Special teams coordinator for the Scarlet Knights. It will be a homecoming of sorts as well where our favorite Guest Game Analyst, Eric Koreivo, should be home from his Navy "A" school training before shipping off on his first assignment in the fleet to get to catch a glimpse of his former classmate and teammate in action. We'll plan a little tailgating with the Rafferty's for this one. Looking forward to April.
Saban rule? – Whether this came from Nick Saban or not, we have a fundamental take on this one. Supposedly he and Brett Bielema of Arkansas are using player safety as a reason to slow down quick-paced college offenses by requiring the defense to have at least the first eleven of 40 seconds between plays to allow for substitutions. Their reasoning is that because defenses do not have time to substitute, the offense wears down the defenders and risks injury. Yet, as several pundits have pointed out, there are no statistics backing this up. Many feel that Saban and other supporters are just looking to slow down the offense to take away the element of surprise preventing defenses from adjusting accordingly to the plays or bringing in fresh players. If that's the real case, I'd like to see coaches do three things before attempting to implement this rule change: First, evidently your players need more cardiovascular conditioning and what you're doing now isn't as effective as you think. Secondly, improve players' tackling skills. Every year at every level this gets worse and worse. Too much arm-tackling is evident from high schools to the pros. Tackling practice seems to be a thing of the past to avoid non-game injuries. Anybody hear of the old Oklahoma drill any more? Blocker-tackler-runner, basic football. Third, teach better pass coverage. Go back to basics. Don't let the receivers behind the deepest defender, and play the football, not the man. You can't defend what you can't see. Basic fundamentals that worked for a long time seem to have been abandoned. Why, to focus on making the big hit for Sports Center highlights? They should highlight al the missed tackles on SC instead. What we need is to see the refocus on better conditioning and fundamentals. That would help defenses compete better against today's offenses, not some new rule to intentionally slow things down. You play your offense, and we'll play ours.
Parents’ Weekend 2014 – It’s official at South Carolina next fall. Parents’ Weekend will be on September 27. Some PW! For the second time in three years, we will see the Missouri Tigers visit the Gamecocks in Columbia for Parent’s festivities. Supposedly, some of Alex’s friends’ parents may be looking to get us into one of the Cock Cabooses as our girls will be at USC for their senior years. How many PW games feature the visiting team coming in as the 5th ranked team from the previous season to play the 4th ranked team in the season? Don’t think the Gamecocks are going to slip too far because Clowney’s gone, but we’d be more concerned with the loss of QB Connor Shaw. Like Tim Tebow, the guy knows how to win. Dylan Thompson steps in for him with some experience with mixed results, but he’s certainly Spurrier’s next QB project. The announcement of PW cancels out two possibilities for next season’s slate for collegefootballfan.com. We wondered because of Mizzou’s standing if the Georgia game may be the Parents’ weekend game – not! Wishful thinking on our part. We also kept the Army at Yale game as a potential option that weekend for this year’s Big Tailgate. Don’t laugh! It could be competitive and the Yale Bowl is one of the classic college football stadiums remaining today. Army visiting there will make for a fun atmosphere as it’s rare that any non-Ivy or Patriot League team generally visits an Ivy League Stadium any more.
Most valuable college football programs – Financially that is in an analysis done by The Wall Street Journal. They do this stuff with everything. Texas finished number one with a value of $875 Million. Evidently that doesn't translate into college football domination, but we'll see if anything changes under new HC Charlie Strong. The Loghorns' worth is higher than at teast five pro football franchises. Notre Dame is second at $811 million followed by a deep drop to Michigan at $685 million. Some surprises to us: Iowa at number 11. Really? We thought Nebraska was the top among the children of the corn. All Big Ten teams were included in the Top 50,even Northwestern. Missouri isn't there despite joining the SEC and winning the East last season. Brigham Young didn't make the grade, yet cross state rival Utah is at 39. With their network, winning tradition, and history, I can't believe the Cougars fall in behind the likes of Cal, Kentucky, Colorado, and Indiana. Maybe the poll was just for the five majors and Notre Dame, which is what major college football is trying to redefine itself as.
“Mr. Whipple, please don’t squeeze the Charmin!” – However, UMass is begging new recycled HC Mark Whipple to squeeze something out of their Minutemen. After two years and a 2-22 record for the two-year old FBS program, a change was needed. HC Charlie Molnar was let go and Mark Whipple, former HC for UMass at the 1AA level who won a national championship for them in 1998 ,was called back to revive the team in Amherst back into a competitive mode playing in the Mid –American Conference. Since he left UMass, he was QB coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers developing Ben Roethlisberger. He spent a year with the Eagles after that, was offensive coordinator at Miami (F) for a year before settling back into QB coach for the Cleveland Browns. After that staff was let go, UMass desperately called him back. We’ll see what he can do. It’s no longer UMass like it was back in 1998, but we wish him and his Minutemen the best of luck! We saw them play in 2012. With no visible improvement in 2013, they have long way to go.
Quack attack – Well it's not about the Oregon teams of the '90s, instead it's about the renaming of the Advocare 100 Bowl game in Shreveport, Louisiana. With the owners of "Duck Dynasty" taking over the sponsorship, the game between the SEC and ACC will now be the Duck Commander Independence Bowl. Instead of having a Conference USA team and an American athletic Conference team as potential back-ups, it should automatically be the Oregon ducks!
Champions 2014 – Congrats to Florida State in their exciting win over Auburn at the Rose Bowl for the final BCS Championship (good riddance). We picked the right team to win, and our margin of victory was only a one point differential, but we did expect a higher scoring game of 52-48. However, the exciting ending at 34-31 certainly didn't disappoint. Also, congrats to FCS Champ North Dakota State (15-0) for their three-peat at that level. We’ll see what improvements former Bison HC Craig Bohl will bring to Wyoming as he steps up into the FBS. NW Missouri State took D2 honors this year, and Wisconsin-Whitewater re-entered the D3 championship to win its fifth Stagg Bowl over the other D-3 perennial power, Mt. Union.
Wait ‘til next year! – That’s what we at CFF.com can say. Among the teams ranked at the end of this season, only three FCS teams we saw made the final AP Top 25 - No. 4 South Carolina, No. 8 Clemson, and No. 14 LSU. The latter two both lost their games to South Carolina and Mississippi respectively. However, with GGA Alex going into her senior year at South Carolina, we will see some of this year’s highly ranked teams play next year. We open the season at SC with No. 18 Texas A&M in town but without Johnny Football who’s heading to the NFL. The Aggies could struggle next year. Most likely, we envision the Gamecocks hosting No. 5 Mizzou next season for Parents Weekend in Columbia. If we do Thanksgiving again in Columbia next year with Alex, we hope to find a way to see the annual season –ending rivalry against Clemson in Death Valley, a first time for CFF.com. If our Thanksgiving plans change and we stay closer to home, we could see No. 3 Michigan State visit the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley instead. On Oct 25, we’re already booking the Gamecocks visit to No. 2 Auburn to tailgate with our Auburn connection Charlie and Lynda Murren. Aside from the contests involving South Carolina, we’ll be rooting for Navy to pull their season opening upset over No. 12 Ohio State in Baltimore on the first Saturday of the season, and probably see the Buckeyes again when Penn State tries to extract some revenge from last season’s blow-out at the Horseshoe. A lot of changes will be occurring in the next few months as teams announce their final schedules and TV moves games around to fill air time. Planning is the fun part of our off season, and we look forward to another tremendous college football season in 2014.
Somebody please explain – Notre Dame (9-4) defeated USC (10-4) during the regular season, 14-10. The also beat No. 3 Michigan State, only team to pull that off this season. They beat Arizona State down in Texas, 37-34. The Sun Devils wreck the Trojans, 62-41, to thankfully end Lane Kiffin’s season. Give credit to USC for beating Stanford at home 20-17 while the Irish lost in Palo Alto, 27-21. Their worst losses were to Oklahoma by the Iris and to UCLA by USC. Why in both polls is USC ranked 19th while ND is 20th in the AP and 24th in the USA Today Poll (don’t get me started again on why coaches shouldn’t vote)? The records are basically the same and the competition is very comparable, but on the field the Irish beat the Trojans. Is everybody paying attention?
Longhorn Strong – Good choice by Texas to select Charlie Strong from Louisville. He made a good program much better. He’s a good leader, he’s a motivator, he instills discipline in his players, gains their respect, and will have a wealth of great talent to choose from down in Texas. We thinks it’s a great choice for the Longhorns and that we will see them battle for national championships in the near future.
Looking for Mr. RIGHT, again – In our review of the
Music City Bowl, in Extra Points, we surmised:
Excuses, excuses – First there was the Sugar Bowl loss to Utah in 2009, and now there’s the 48-31 loss to Oklahoma this year in the same, practically a home game for The Tide in SEC territory. The spin doctors like Ivan Maisel hint again like they did after Utah that not being in the national championship does not excite the Crimson Tide. What a crock! Games should be won on the gridiron, not on websites or on the sports pages or on news highlights. If that’s Bama’s problem, they should just admit up front they don’t feel like playing if that’s the case. I say it’s a sorry excuse exposing the fact that the SEC has good teams and ad teams and in that respect, it’s similar to all the other conferences. Bob Stoops brought up a few post –bowl comments that we brought up in the past and would like to expand upon. From top to bottom, the SEC isn’t that tough. They all gather under the banner of “SEC”, but the top teams dominate the bottom teams just like other conferences. The bottom feeders can’t compete with the best consistently. He also asked if the SEC is so tough, how did Mizzou and A&M achieve success so quickly? Maybe everybody should join the SEC. Even Paul Finebaum admitted today on ESPN that Bama didn’t play a very tough schedule this year. No kidding! They won close games against A&M (8-4) and LSU, but lost to Auburn – the good teams that they play. South Carolina and Georgia were missing from their regular season schedule (“SEC! SEC! SEC!”), but they did beat 0-12 Georgia State and FCS UT Chattanooga at home in their spare time (and Saban wondered why fans left early), but they aren’t Oklahoma. What about scheduling some better FBS teams on their schedule- away as well as at home? Stoops calls it SEC propaganda. We’ve referred to it as the Mike Slive Marketing Machine, and we admit the man is a genius. We think he should be president of the NCAA so every team would work under the same successful strategies. Play weak schedules against non –conference competition, play better ones at a “neutral” site that’s half the distance the other team travels from, don’t return that favor, schedule at least 7, 8, or possibly even 9 home games every year, and contract only bowl games within easy traveling distance for your fans so we can take advantage of another home game (no SEC bowl contracts include a game west of Texas). On top of all that, put many media members in your pocket to get them to expound on your virtues relative to everyone else’s. The Sugar Bowl was again an example why we should have playoffs, but expand it to eight because the SEC will want two teams every year. Make it a challenge for a true champion, and let’s do away with the propaganda and marketing hype to get us one.
ACC? How bout that AAC? - The much maligned old Big East came up pretty big as No. 18 Louisville clobbered Miami, 36-9, and No. 15 Central Florida out-dueled No. 6 Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, 52-42. Louisville's non conference slate hurt their stature and its lone loss was to UCF. The Golden Knights only fell to South Carolina. George O'Leary's team could be legitimate for a long time to dominate the new American Athletic Conference.
Ranked – Though we saw a lot of great games all season long after a very memorable season overall, only three teams among the FBS we watched finished in the BCS Top 25. We saw No. 9 South Carolina hold off struggling Kentucky on October 4, 35-28, in a game where USC’s Connor Shaw played for the win despite his injury. We also saw him score two TDs and run for 96 yards when his Gamecocks out-dueled No. 12 Clemson on November 30, 31-17. As mentioned previously, we saw No. 16 LSU fall to Ole Miss on a last second FG, 27-24, in our 450th game since 1979 and our first trip ever to The Grove.
We remember – New UConn Head coach Bob Diaco successfully ran the Notre Dame defense for Brian Kelly there and at a couple of other stops before along the way. Now he gets his shot to run an FBS team of his own that probably needs an infusion of offense. We remember Diaco, a native of Cedar Grove, NJ, playing LB for the Iowa Hawkeyes when we saw him and his team face off in the 1992 Kickoff Classic against that season’s eventual No. 17 team, NC State. The Wolfpack prevailed, 24-14. It’s fun to reminisce seeing the start of players’ careers in college and eventually seeing them end up as head coaches. Others include James Franklin of Vanderbilt when we saw him play QB at D-2 East Stroudsburg. We saw Pat Fitzgerald play LB for Northwestern and take over eventually as HC for the late Randy Walker there. We saw another Hawkeye, QB Chuck Long, make his HC debut in 2007 at San Diego State though it wasn’t a very successful stint. Al Golden played TE for Penn State and is doing pretty well as HC improving Miami’s record and reputation. We’ll keep an eye on how Diaco fares with the Huskies.
By the numbers – On October 19 when we had a great time at The Grove in Oxford, Mississippi where we saw Ole Miss pull the 27-24 upset over No. 6 LSU, we recorded our 450th game since 1979 when we officially started this obsession. It got us to reflect on some other milestones and interesting numbers we have hit this year:
120- The number of different stadiums we’ve seen college football games played in (all levels) when we attended our 450th
90 – Our 90th PSU game, vs. Syracuse this year
50 – Our 50th Army game, vs. Morgan State this season
48 – The number of FBS stadiums we attended games in – latest Ole Miss’s Vaught-Hemingway
30 – Our 30th Army loss, vs. Wake Forest this year (sorry about that, boys)
20 – Our 20th Navy win vs. Delaware this season. We can’t believe that’s all.
14 – Our 14th OT game in the FBS, Illinois vs. PSU
14- Widest margin of victory this season in a game played between FBS teams (Wake Forest 25 Army 11)
10- Our 10th FBS national champ, Alabama in the BCS championship game on Jan. 7, 2013
09- Our 9th
Army-Navy game since 1972. Greatest and most oft attended rivalry game
we've ever attended.
06- Number of games among seven FBS games attended in 2013 decided by seven points or less
Sophomore class - Last season, we added all four new FBS teams that joined that level last year to bring the top level up to 124 teams. Here's how their sophomore seasons are looking: Texas State finished 6-6, 2-5 in the Sun Belt. One of the C-USA wins was 33-31 over fellow sophomore South Alabama. UT San Antonio finished with a 7-5 record under Larry Coker. They finished 5-2 in Conference USA winning their last five games of the regular season. Maybe the will sneak into a bowl game. South Alabama is 5-6 and has lost three games by one point. They play Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend. They beat the newest member of the FBS, Georgia State Panthers (0-12), last weekend. UMass of the MAC finished 1-11 with its lone win against one-win Miami of Ohio.
Incoming Freshman - Five new teams join the FBS next season: Appalachian State finished their last season in the Southern Conference at 4-8 including a win over the other team in the SoCon making the jump, Georgia Southern. The Eagles upset the mighty (or formerly mighty) Florida Gators, 28-20. Next year, Georgia Southern is in our plan to see when they visit Navy in Annapolis. Georgia State finished 0-12. Like the previous two squads mentioned, they'll be joining the Sun Belt. We hope to work them into a game at Appy State over the next two years to kill two new birds with one stone so to speak. Charlotte went 5-6 against small schools and lost to D3 power Wesley, 35-25. Old Dominion was 8-4. The Monarchs four losses were to legit FBS squads East Carolina, Maryland, Pitt, and North Carolina , who pummeled them in their last game, 80-20. What goes around, comes around, Tar Heels.
Rematches 2013 - Last season Penn State clobbered Illinois in Champaign, 35-7. As we said, this year could be even worse for the Illini in State College. However, there are a host of other games we'll be attending this season where last year's results were very competitive. Based on last season's scores, we should see some good grudge matches. Here were the results of last season's games between schools we'll see play this season:
Wake Forest 49 - Army 37 (this year WFU 25 Army
11) South Carolina 38 - Kentucky 17 (this year USC
35-28) Kean Univ. 34 - College of New Jersey 30
(this year TCNJ 7 Kean 0)
LSU 41 - Ole Miss 35 (this year Ole Miss 27 LSU 24 with a
last minute FG)
Steve Koreivo flanked by Joe Rogers and Steve Dawson of
Watch for more Salvo updates throughout the season!
- Steve Koreivo, ed.