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"Steveo's Salvos" - May 2013 Edition
"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.
Itchin' to get started - Picked up our daughter from her sophomore year at South Carolina, took some vacation in FLA, went on a business trip to Michigan, my Mets stink, and my thoughts have already turned to college football 2013. Buying tickets, booking hotels, calling friends to make plans, anticipating the preseason publications coming out in June... I can't wait!
D3 slates - A few local kids who played football with my son Eric are heading to D3. There's a few opportunities to see their schools play on Friday nights in 2013, so we're filling in Fridays as we are no longer obligated to attend Friday night light high school football, but we will when we have the time. It was a great three years following kids I've seen grow up play for the very successful Lenape Valley (N.J.) HS program under Hall of Fame HS Coach Don Smolyn. The kids played on successful teams hand have a lot of good memories and experiences to last them a lifetime. I look forward to seeing some of them now play at the next level. Check out our updated 2013 schedule. There are some others we'll try to catch up with over the next few years that will be playing at Central State (O.), Marist, and possibly Rutgers.
Legend of the Fall - Larry Kehres of D3 Mt. Union retired after 27 seasons as the Purple Raider HC finishing with 23 Ohio Athletic Conference titles, eleven D3 National championships, and a career record of 332-24-3 - only one loss or one tie for each of the 27 season he served as HC in Alliance, Ohio. Amazing! Year after year he developed new players and reloaded to keep winning. We can say we had the privilege of seeing a small but significant part of his outstanding career when his Purple Raiders took it all in the Stagg Bowl at the National Championship game in Salem, VA in 2006 when his team defeated perennial championship foe Wisconsin - Whitewater, 35-16. He leaves his program in the ample hands of his son, Vince, who played for Mt. Union and served as defensive coordinator over the last nine years. Larry will remain as AD for the school to continue building the entire athletic program. Interestingly, after the retirement of both Kehres and John Gagliardi of St. John's of Minnesota (489 wins) since last season, the winningest active coach remaining at the D3 level is Rick Giancola of Montclair State with 214 victories. In our history, we've seen his Red Hawks go 12-0-1. Good luck to the Kehres family. Few feel that the Purple Raiders will skip a beat after the change of leadership from father to son. They've created a college football dynasty. We expect to see them heading to Salem once again next December. The questions will always remain, who's got the team that will knock them off?
Straight poop from Bob Stoops - The Oklahoma Coach had the "audacity" to compare the Big 12 to the SEC? Like him, we can only agree that the SEC has produced the Top team for seven consecutive years, but the talent doesn't range from top to bottom of the entire conference. For every Alabama there's always been a Vanderbilt, or Kentucky, or Ole Miss. Texas A&M had its ups and down in the Big 12, but one year into the SEC and they're near the Top with Johnny Football and new HC Kevin Sumlin. Good timing on The SEC's part. Is Missouri any better now at 5-7? And please, stop using non-conference records as a barometer. When 80-90% of the games are against teams outside the FBS and probably 20% of those are against FCS schools as well. Win against four non-conference patsies and win two games against the SEC bottom feeders and an SEC team gets to play a bowl game a couple hundred miles away. While other conferences are deciding to shore up their schedule by adding another conference game and looking for more competitive non-conference match-ups, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive won't even think about it. Last year, had Ole Miss replaced Central Arkansas, UTEP, or Tulane with another SEC foe from the east like Florida, Georgia or South Carolina, their overall record would have been 5-7 meaning no bowl game in nearby Mobile in a game against a disinterested 6-6 Pitt. At 5-7, no bowl game, no money. The plan is to keep the schedule weak, get at least six wins, and invite somebody down to Dixie for another game in front of the overwhelming home crowd. It's a tried a true formulation by the SEC. It's probably not going to change.
Laces - NFL uniform regulations will probably require Jacksonville Jaguar WR Denard Robinson, former Michigan QB selected in the fifth round , to tie his shoes. Will he be able to adjust and be as fast?
Patriotic Knights - Not only did New England Patriot Head Coach Bill Bellichick send his son to play lacrosse at Rutgers, but he loves the football program there so much, his team drafted three of his seven draft picks from his son's school. What is he thinking? He already has CB Devin McCourty playing in his secondary, but he just added CB Logan Ryan and Safety Duron Harmon both in the third round of this year's draft. Is the Rutgers defensive secondary that out standing? Former RU DL Justin Francis enters his third season with the Pats. LB Steve Beauharnais was taken in the seventh round by New England. Overall, seven Scarlet Knights, six on defense, were selected in this year's NFL draft. Another dB, Marcus Cooper, fell in with San Francisco in the seventh round. To put things in perspective, nine draftees were selected from Alabama, six from Notre Dame, three from Ohio State, and three from Penn State. It tells me three things: RU should have been better than 9-4 last season had they recruited offensive talent along with defensive talent; the other teams have much more depth or talent returning this year; and Rutgers has a big rebuilding year ahead of them. Compared to other Big East Schools, Louisville had two players go in the draft, Syracuse three, and Pitt zero. Louisville has talent coming back especially in the most accurate collegiate passer we've ever seen, Teddy Bridgewater. As for the others, they've either been rebuilding, or they are not that good. However, we'll not see how these schools will stack up against RU now that they will be playing in the ACC in 2013.
Love this - For Christmas this year, my sister Amy gave me a 2013 ESPN College Game Day Desk pad. Each date has a trivia question and the answer is upside down in the lower right hand corner in small orange letters. I do pretty good overall unless it has something to do with some numerical statistic. I never memorize those because you can always look them up. Recently, the question of the day was, "What current SEC Coach played Quarterback for the Florida Gators from 1964-1966?" Now, I even know that QB won the Heisman Trophy and I've seen him coach at three schools since. The Worldwide Leader in Sports claims it is none other than Fuad Reveiz! Got 'em there. It just shows that you've got to take anything from the media with a grain of salt.
Howdy neighbors - From my lofty 100 Park avenue working address in Florham Park, NJ, I can watch out over the NY Jets practice field. I walk over at lunch time many days for exercise. I'll miss that red jersey with #15 donned by Tim Tebow. Now we'll have to see how Dee Milliner of Alabama, Sean Richardson of Mizzou, and especially Geno Smith of WVU will fill the roles of a pro team that needs a lot of help. Mini camp is coming up. We'll have to get a closer look in a few weeks.
Understudy - Another player that we'll keep an eye on from a much further distance is QB Zac Dysert. Drafted in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos as a possible future replacement for Peyton Manning, we saw him QB the Miami RedHawks in a 24-21 loss to Temple in 2011. He impressed us though completing 28 of 37 for 364 yards and two TDs. In 2012, Dysert became Miami's new passing leader, breaking the marks of former RedHawk and current Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finishing with 12,013 passing yards after four years as a starter at the Oxford, Ohio school. With a few years under a great mentor in Peyton Manning, we're interested to see how far the talents he's displayed thus far can take him. He could be a sleeper despite being taken as the ninth QB in the 2013 draft.
Surprise, surprise! - never seeming to live up to his potential, QB BJ Daniels of South Florida was chosen three picks after Dysert by the San Francisco 49ers. We're not surprised that he was drafted, but we are surprised the Niners projected him as a QB. Like Dernard Robinson, we projected him more at another position like RB or DB. We saw him struggle in several games against Rutgers defense, but he did outplay Ryan Nassib of Syracuse who got drafted by the Giants when we watched the Bulls beat 'Cuse in 2011, 37-17. Daniels accumulated 371 yards in total offense that day. Nassib was under constant pressure. Maybe with a better supporting cast or from the Wildcat, Daniels may make it in the pros, but we think a position change is in his future for a great overall athlete.
UConn!UConn!UConn! - Five Huskies went in this year's draft including two DBs and two Lbs. We saw all of them perform in the Huskies 48-20 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma on New Year's day 2010. If you told me then that I was looking at a talent -laden NFL defense back then, I 'd tell you you're crazy. Oklahoma QB Landry Jones who got drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round threw two TDs that day. In retrospect as I looked over my game review from that game, it was weak Husky offense that kept the Huskies out of the game that day. The defense put up a fight and DB Dwayne Gratz, drafted in the third by the Jags, returned an INT 45 yards for a TD that night in the desert to cut the Sooner lead to 14-7. Maybe the pros do know talent when they see it. One game alone does not make a career, but if you told me that there were four future pros in the Husky's sophomore class that season, I'd never believe you. Oklahoma had five drafted this year as well.
Finally got it a few things right – The name “College Football Playoffs” to start, that is. At least it eliminates the championship game being affiliated with a specific bowl game. Getting rid of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a great step in the right direction. Speaking as a fan having Orange Bowl tickets in a three-year package was nice to enable us to get last year’s BCS Championship game as part of it, but one week’s time between the Orange Bowl and the championship is costly for any fan not living in the immediate area. We were forced to buy our seats to a hapless game (Northern Illinois vs. Florida State) and sell them way below cost because we only had the time, interest, and money to attend the Notre Dame - Alabama game. Basically, the BCS game made most of the major bowls wastes of times for fans and teams alike. Schools are losing money on many of the bowl games. The first championship game on January 11, 2016 will be played in Texas Stadium (even if it is owned by Jerry Jones) and the second will hopefully be held in Tampa on January 9, 2017 since we have some places to stay in that area. We like a few other things set up via the new system as well. The semi-final games will be played on New Year’s Day bringing back some college football luster that day on a rotational basis to ring in the New Year. New Year’s Day will be big in college football again! The Rose and Sugar Bowls will host playoff games on January 1, 2015. The Cotton, Orange, and Fiesta Bowls will be played on New Year’s Eve. In 2016, The Orange and Cotton Bowls will host the semis, and in 2017, the Fiesta and Chick Fil-A Bowls will host. Future College Football Playoff Championship game sites have yet to be determined. Our biggest issue is that we’d still like to see the playoffs expanded to eight teams with four opening round games held in mid-December on the campuses of the four highest rated teams. Some day they will get it everything right!
RU ready? Is Rutgers? - We attended Rutgers Scarlet-White spring game held on April 27. Scarlet thrashed White 45-0 before they allowed younger kids living in towns affected by Hurricane Sandy to compete in the last five minutes. The game result indicated a lack of depth based on what I saw. QB Gary Nova threw three TDs and one INT, but he is still looks mechanically unsound throwing off his back foot. I thought second teamer Chas Dodd looked more effective. I didn’t see as much enthusiasm on the field as I did the week before at Penn State. The Knights seem to lack intensity hitting one another, especially on the White side. Maybe it was because of the warmer weather. It was a good turnout as fans donated $5 each for Hurricane Sandy Relief and Eric LeGrande was presented with a $1300 check for his Believe relief fund. Rutgers players wore jerseys with the names of all the towns affected by Sandy which were being given to each town after the game. About 70 mayors from each of those towns were introduced en masse before the start. It will be a rebuilding year especially on defense next season for the Scarlet Knights. We plan to see their last game of the season when they will host South Florida on December 7.
First round NFL draft 2013 – Seeing Alabama play in the BCS Championship this year padded my stats as three players from the National Championship went right in a row in this year’s NFL draft. The Tide’s CB Dee Milliner who made an INT in that game went at No. 9 to the Jets, OG Chance Warmack went next to the Titans, and OT D.J. Fluker followed by going to the Ravens. Manti Te’o of Notre Dame who was ineffective that day to say the least will get to hone his skills going against Fluker in camp this summer as he was selected by the Chargers in the second round (Te’o must be afraid of believing anyone on the other end of a phone call now as it was reported he thought the call from San Diego was hoax!). ND teammate and TE Tyler Eifert went in the first round to the Bengals. Seeing a replay of him catching the ball against Milliner in the opening drive of that game still shows him inbounds. The player who I saw play that went first in our personal history was WVU WR Tavon Austin picked eighth overall by the St. Louis Rams. We watched him in the Mountaineers’ record-setting Orange Bowl performance where we saw the Mountaineers decimate Clemson, 70-33. Austin had 11 receptions for 117 yards and four TDs. Rounding out our compliment of first round picks we’ve seen perform during their collegiate careers are DT Sheldon Richardson of Missouri going to the Jets at No. 13, OG Justin Pugh of Syracuse who went at No. 19 to the Giants, WR DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson joined the Texans, and No. 31 C Travis Frederick of Wisconsin becomes a despised Dallas Cowboy. We can’t say any of them had stellar performances when we watched their teams play. Richardson and his Tigers got beat up by South Carolina last season when we saw them play on Parents Weekend in Columbia. Pugh and the Orange fell to South Florida, 37-17, in 2011 when his QB Ryan Nassib was under constant pressure. Hopkins was on the losing end of the Orange Bowl blow-out we saw as well as their regular season ending at South Carolina in 2011. And Frederick and the Badgers lost their last game of this season in OT at Penn State, 24-21. You never know how you will see a particular player or team perform on any given day no matter how successful they are over an entire career or season, but these players will generally play among the best of the best.
Who says you have to be “big and dumb”? – Three Ivy League players got drafted in this year’s NFL draft and we saw two of them play this past season. In Round Four, the Packers claimed OT J.C. Tretter of Cornell 25th. Against Monmouth, he had a fine day during the Big Red’s 41-38 win. Behind Tretter, replacement QB Chris Amrhein passed for 523 yards and RB Silas Nacita ran in behind him for scores from the one twice, the four and the six. The Pack hopes he can have as much success facing better competition than Monmouth. Seven picks later, The Ravens selected FB Kyle Juscczyk out of Harvard. We did not get to see him or The Crimson play these last few seasons. On the first pick of the seventh and final round, the chiefs, now coached by Andy Reid formerly of the Eagles, selected Princeton's 6'4" 270 lb. DE Mike Catapano. This year, we saw the Tigers fall the Penn Quakers from Philly, 28-21. We always like to see how guys from the Ivies and lower Division schools stack up when the get to the pro level. We’ll keep an eye out on these ones.
Princeton DE Mike Catapano, #77, in action against Penn
Steve Koreivo flanked by Joe Rogers and Steve Dawson of
Looking strong, literally – We attended the Penn State Blue-White spring game this past Saturday (April 20). Pay no attention to the final score of 66-47. HC Bob O’Brien’s spring game scoring system is not based on touchdowns, field goals, and safeties, although such traditional scores are included in the finale. In his game of offense vs. defense, won by the offense, it’s more like a scoring system for a collegiate wrestling match. Points are awarded for sacks, first downs, long plays, turnovers etc., etc. The main purpose of this game was to see how well players block and tackle after weeks of weight training and practice – basic football. We saw some stronger armed QBs than what we saw in last year’s contest along with good blocking, solid tackling, pressure on the QBs, and some effective running. Like every other team in the nation, there’s still a lot of work that lies ahead. Overall, most noticeable was how much the Nittany Lions have bulked up physically. Strength coach Craig Fitzgerald’s strength program seems to be making an impact on the Lion players. The team played enthusiastically, and O’Brien had some fun during the game by calling plays in Q3 over the PA system joking with certain defenders not to listen. Then he initiated the “We are...Penn State” chant and told fans that the Lions looked forward to seeing us in the fall. The day was more November- like than spring-like with swirling winds and snow flurries. I wore shorts. Luckily I brought a sweat shirt and with Penn State friends John Massimilla and John Van Horn, we filled up before the game with anti-freeze. The only person dressed less warmly than me in the stadium was Fitzgerald along the sideline wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt. We’re all looking forward to another challenging but successful season during Penn State’s second year of sanctions. It’s the hope of many PSU fans that O’Brien sticks around for a while. He seems to have the Lions headed in the right direction despite obstacles under the sanctions. Next season, PSU is limited to 20 less scholarships at 65. We plan to attend the Syracuse game at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on August 31, and the Michigan and Illinois games at Beaver Stadium later in 2013.
East is east, and west is west – We hear the Big Ten finally gets it right in 2014. With Maryland and Rutgers joining to bring the Big Ten to fourteen teams (how about a name change?), they will do away with the Leaders and Legends labels for each division which was always confusing to me and separating the two divisions geographically between east and west. The east will consist of Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers. In the west, six of the seven teams will be in the central time zone – Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. Purdue is in the Eastern Time zone and annually the Boilermakers and Hoosiers will maintain their cross division rivalry. It’s good to see that other natural rivalries will be maintained like Michigan-Ohio State, Michigan-Michigan State, Iowa – Minnesota, and Ohio State –Penn State. It opens up other good natural rivalries like Maryland-Rutgers, Penn State-Rutgers, and Nebraska-Wisconsin. The Big Fourteen will play nine conference games in 2015. With a contract with the PAC 12 looming to play one game against each other annually, these are probably two good moves for the conference as many that played a traditional game with Notre Dame will be losing that because of the Irish’s new affiliation with the ACC. Hopefully though, they will all try to play at least another FBS team among the two games remaining when this takes place.
Toomer’s Corner – Our Auburn connection Charlie Murren introduced us to the tradition at Toomer’s corner in 1978 at our first game “on the Plains” the night before we watched the Tigers battle Georgia to a 22-22 tie. It’s a shame that some depraved Alabama fan destroyed the trees that have traditionally been “rolled” with toilet paper for the past 40 years. Unique traditions like this add to the spirit, fun, and aura of college football. The Auburn faithful will continue the tradition this season tossing the rolls over temporary wires, but the proud oaks which will be taken down on Tuesday will be replaced in 2015 so Auburn can proudly continue its tradition. We have to get back down there in a few years to spend some time with Charlie and Lynda to go back to enjoy this among other Auburn traditions we enjoyed together back on the late 70s. Check out more about our experiences that great weekend so many years ago in the chapter in Tales from the Tailgate entitled “Culture Shock!”
Good read - Aside from Mets baseball and reruns of "NCIS" starring Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), there's not much this time of year that interests me on the tube, so I'm catching up on some reading. Of course, the topic of college football whets my reading appetite as I already look forward to the upcoming season with most of my 2013 schedule planned out. A great book I've been reading is A Team for America : The Army-Navy Game that rallied a Nation at War by Randy Roberts. My late father always talked about how Army had some great teams during and after the war years, but he would always emphasize that that was because they had "everybody else's players"! Roberts tells the unabashed story of how Army and Navy picked, recruited, and plucked the best of the best players from other colleges, military bases, and a few high schools to enhance the morale of the fighting men and women in action in Europe and in the Pacific theatres. It tells about Head Coach Earl "Red" Blaik and how he built his Army team with the sole purpose to beat a Navy team that had dominated Army five years before the 1944 season. It also gives you a perspective of college football at a time when the Ivy League schools were among the best programs in the country before their athletic emphasis started to wane giving way to the bigger state funded schools years later. Notre Dame was also a power and that could be attributed to the Navy and Marine Corp officer training programs on the campus at that time. It's a great tribute to the players who played for the service academies at a time when it was perceived that their football teams would exemplify the toughness and the courage of the graduates of both academies who would eventually lead men in combat. If you have the time to read a book during the off season, I would highly recommend A Team for America. Of course that is after you read Tales from the Tailgate!
Last piece to the puzzle - Well, Norwich Academy's 2013 schedule came out and the Cadets do not have a game scheduled on September 28 as we had hoped. So analyzing, rethinking, and replanning and doing so more of each, we settled on seeing the Cadets led by one of our local Lenape Valley kids, LB Jimmy LaBell, visit the Engineers of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY on September 7. See the rest of out Tentative schedule by clicking here. Jimmy will be on the comeback trail. He led Norwich in tackles and tackles for losses (14) during his sophomore year. A leg injury ended his junior season in game one of last year, so we look for him to pick up where he left off. And if he redshirts, we'll go see him play again in 2014. As an added bonus, his HC Dan Murnyack, is a graduate of the alma mater, Juniata College! Dan was on the roster back in 1996 when we saw JC defeat FDU-Florham in a hard-hitting game, 28-7. To make room for Norwich at RPI, we'll sacrifice the Navy-South Alabama game as we have a couple of options to give away those tickets. One variable to our 2013 schedule still exists depending when our long time Guest game Analyst , Eric Koreivo, completes Navy boot camp in November. We'll see what Eric wants to do or can do after eight weeks of training.
Big Tailgate Party - The word is out. Pass it along! This year’s BTG is officially Wake Forest at Army on September 21 leaving from the Boonton, NJ Knight of Columbus Hall to West Point, NY. It fits well into our schedule this season and those who came last season to see Army surprisingly defeat Boston College, 31-29, for Army’s first of only two wins had a great experience attending the bus trip-tailgate at West Point. Our choice came down to this game or the game or September 14 when the Cadets host Stanford. We opted for Wake being the more competitive contest of the two. Stanford finished last season at 12-2 and Wake at 5-7 which included a 49-37 win over Army down in Winston-Salem. Army loses four-year starting QB Trent Steelman but has a host of returning starters on offense. Like we always say, every college football fan should attend at least one game at West Point and one game at Annapolis. Here’s your chance. The cost which will be the same as last year will include the game ticket, bus ride, and a donation to the Knights to fund their charitable works. Everyone brings food and beverages to share and has a great time! Look for more information to come.
Bowl vision – It’s early to start planning, but unlike previous years, we’re stalling until the last minute. We don’t think we can go wrong, but it may be a tough ticket. Our daughter Alex will enter her junior year at South Carolina this fall. We think we’ll wait and see where the Gamecocks end up and go from there. BCS for a second year in a row? It’s possible, but if not, we’re sure we will be somewhere on New Year’s day.
Watch for more Salvo updates throughout the season!
- Steve Koreivo, ed.