Zennie62 on YouTube

Thursday, August 31, 2006

More Players With Infractions Heading To Division AA Play

MISSOULA, Mont. -- Former Oklahoma offensive lineman J.D. Quinn enrolled at Montana Wednesday with plans to walk on to the football team, school officials announced.

Montana is a Division I-AA school where he would be eligible to play if the NCAA reinstates him.

Quinn, a sophomore, was dismissed from the Oklahoma football team earlier this month for violating NCAA rules by receiving pay for more hours than he worked at a car dealership.

Starting quarterback Rhett Bomar was dismissed from the Sooners' squad for the same reason and since has enrolled at Sam Houston State, another Division I-AA school.

"J.D. has paid a heavy price for a mistake that he made at the University of Oklahoma," said Griz coach Bobby Hauck. "He lost his academic aid and opportunity to play football there and will walk on to our team and try to earn a scholarship."

The 6-foot-3, 296-pound Quinn, of Garland, Texas, was projected to be a starting guard at Oklahoma after starting four games last season.

"I would like to thank coach Hauck and his staff, and the people of Montana, for giving me a second chance to fix a bad situation that I created at Oklahoma," Quinn said. "I am looking forward to playing football for the Grizzlies and I hope that happens soon."

Montana athletic director Jim O'Day said the school will continue to educate boosters and student-athletes on acceptable practices.

"This situation gives us all an opportunity to reflect on how damaging rule infractions can be to a program and a student athlete," O'Day said.

Quinn said he hopes to begin practicing with the Griz next Monday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tickets Getting Out Of Hand

Being from Ohio, Ohio State tickets and scalping seem to be getting out of hand. The Ohio State tickets are sold on Ebay and in newspaper ads all the time and even tickets for games you think would easy to get are alot tougher. The first game against Northern Illinois tickes are going for 150-300 dollars on the street and if you can find any from a friend you will pay top dollar.

I guess this what happens when you get ranked number one in the pre-season polls. Luckily for me I can get some tickets from friends who don't go to every game and are alumni. Right now their is a long waiting list to get Ohio State tickets. Can you imagine what tickets for the Michigan will go for if the Buckeyes and Michigan are both undefeated. I don't even want to think about that.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Notre Dame v. Penn State, Michigan, and Purdue - Tickets At $300 And Up:

Secondary market ticket price is a measure of how important a college football game is. From that perspective, Notre Dame's three opening home games are very important.

The games against Penn State, Michigan, and Purdue all have secondary market ticket prices starting at $300. In the case of the Penn State and Michigan game's the prices start at $400 and go up to over $1,000.


And with all of that, people are buying, and reselling, the tickets. Where do they get the money?

Freshman Starts At Texas

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas has picked the successor to Vince Young.

Redshirt freshman Colt McCoy will start at quarterback for the Longhorns, head coach Mack Brown said Monday. He's the first freshman to start a season opener at Texas since Shea Morenz, and just the fourth freshman to start since Brown took over at Texas in 1998, joining Major Applewhite (1998), Chris Simms (1999) and Young (2003).

"Greg Davis is the best there is at developing quarterbacks, and we've had a great deal of success when we've had to play freshmen here," Brown said in a statement released by the school. "He has Colt really prepared as we head into the season, and I think he'll put him in a position for our offense to continue the success we've had the last several years."

McCoy was a schoolboy star in Texas, where he went 34-2. He threw for 9,344 yards in high school.

McBoy beat out true freshman Jevan Snead, a Parade All-American from Stephenville, Texas.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Windfall For Longhorns

AUSTIN -- The University of Texas can add another national title: first in merchandising.

Bolstered by a national football championship, UT led the nation in licensing revenue and set a record with $8.2 million in royalties from 2005-06, according to the company that handles merchandise licensing for 82 Division I-A schools.

The record sales mark the first time UT has been first in royalties, knocking North Carolina from No. 1 for the first time in five years.

"It's kind of that perfect storm, and we were able to capitalize on it," said Craig Westemeier, UT director of trademark licensing. "Everything had to go just right, and it did."

Michigan held the previous record of $6.2 million in 1993-94, set during the school's "Fab Five" basketball era that included NBA star Chris Webber.

Michigan finished second to Texas, according to Collegiate Licensing Co. Notre Dame, Georgia and North Carolina rounded out the top five.

Schools that use other licensing companies or are independent include Ohio State, Southern California and Texas A&M. Revenues from those schools were not included in the rankings.

Besides the Longhorns' first football title since 1969, a College World Series in 2003 also helped boost royalties by 103 percent. The money goes to entire university and not just the athletic department because the school owns the trademarks.

T-shirts were the top-sellers for UT, followed by hats. After the Longhorns beat USC in the Rose Bowl, the school's 450 licensees sold everything from key chains to mini football helmets to a Waterford crystal football. Even coach Mack Brown's photo on the Wheaties cereal box brought in money.

UT's standard royalty rate is 8 percent of each licensed item sold and 12 percent on national championship items.

Derek Eiler, chief operating officer for the Collegiate Licensing Co., said pent-up demand fueled sales since UT hadn't won a football championship in more than 30 years.

"The fan is the guy who'll buy six Longhorn shirts," said Eiler. "Then, there's fashion. Carolina had it with Carolina blue and the Michael Jordan thing. Texas happens to be experiencing that now, people think the Longhorn logo is cool."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Who has The Best College football In The Nation?

JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi isn't home to an NFL team and hasn't had a national college football champion in decades, but on Friday the state was named America's best in the sport.

The honor, a glass football statue, came from USA Football, a nonprofit organization founded in 2002 by the National Football League and the NFL Player's Association.

Some of Mississippi's greatest sports heroes, including Archie Manning, L.C. Greenwood and Hugh Green, were at the state Capitol when Gov. Haley Barbour accepted the award.

While there are few who would dispute that Mississippi produces first-class players, USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck knows he'll have to justify the award to fans in Texas, Kansas and Florida.

"That's a fair point. That's why we tried to make sure we set up this great equalizer on a per capita basis," Hallenbeck said. "Mississippi, because it was such a great football state, and you can see the incredible talent that comes out of this state ... is justification in and of itself."

Hallenbeck said USA Football chose Mississippi after a state-by-state analysis measured the per capita percentage of fans interested in collegiate and professional football, number of NFL players who hail from Mississippi and the percentage of lettered high school football players.

"Football is huge part of Mississippi," Barbour said at the news conference held at the state Capitol. "It is part of our spirit. It is our passion."

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, whose team wrapped up preseason training Friday at Millsaps College in Jackson, said practicing in Mississippi, under the sweltering heat, is "going to help us produce a great football team."

The award comes a day before the Saints play against the Indianapolis Colts at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium near the college campus.

Manning, a former star player for the Saints and whose son Peyton Manning is quarterback for the Colts, didn't say who he would cheer for since it's a preseason game.

"I got to tell you, if it was a regular-season game ... I'm going for the Colts," said Manning. "I've got three favorite teams these days, the Colts, Giants and the Saints."

Manning's other son, Eli, is quarterback for the New York Giants.

Manning said that on a national scale Mississippi isn't considered in the same league as other states, including Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida.

"It's kind of a secret that Mississippians have always known, that we've turned out players here," said Manning. "It all goes back to the coaches. It's not just about turning out NFL players, it's about turning out good people and making men out of boys."

USA Football is a national youth football advocacy group that provides support to youth leagues across the nation. The organization on Friday announced that it will award $500,000 in equipment grants to youth teams across the country.

Benson said that the Saints will match the grant funds.

USA Football gave a $1,000 grant check to the Northwest Rankin Athletic Association on Friday. The amount will now double thanks to the Saints' match.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nebraska Adds A Quarterback

Former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller has enrolled at the University of Nebraska, a spokeswoman in the registrar and records office at the school told ESPN's Joe Schad on Wednesday morning.

Keller is expected to redshirt at Nebraska this season and be eligible to play his final season next year, likely succeeding Zac Taylor as starting quarterback.

A member of Keller's family said on Wednesday that the quarterback is in Lincoln, visiting with the Nebraska coaching staff. Another member of Keller's family said the reason nobody could officially confirm his transfer to Nebraska until Wednesday was that they wanted Arizona State to provide a housing refund for the player first, which they did.

Keller's family member also said that, in the end, Oklahoma stepped up its interest in signing Keller more than any other school and that the quarterback would consider that as an alternative if something unexpected failed to go through at Nebraska.

Seen outside Memorial Stadium on Wednesday afternoon with Cornhusker officials, Keller was asked by a reporter if he was transferring the Nebraska.

Keller responded by nodding and saying, "Yeah," before he was escorted away, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Wednesday.

Nebraska coach Bill Callahan confirmed the transfer Wednesday evening.

"He's excited to be here, and we're excited to have him," Callahan said to the Lincoln Journal Star.

Callahan talked to a group of reporters after Wednesday's practice, which ended a few hours after Keller arrived in Lincoln with Tim Cassidy, Nebraska's director of football operations. Callahan said Keller wouldn't be available for official interviews until Thursday.

Blue Ribbon preview: Nebraska

When the decision was made to hire Bill Callahan at Nebraska in 2004, school administrators knew they were breaking the mold of traditional ground-oriented coaches. They knew Callahan would build -- or attempt to build -- a competent passing game through the West Coast offense.
They also knew that Callahan was not going to bring in a typical college football coach's personality either. While he takes care of all media and alumni functions and will do what he can to raise funds, Callahan does not have a Bobby Bowden-type personality. He is not the kind to regale listeners with humorous stories. Callahan is all business.

Keller, who was named the Sun Devils' starting quarterback on Friday only to lose the job to sophomore Rudy Carpenter two days later, had also considered transferring to Louisville or UTEP, not Colorado or Oklahoma, as reported elsewhere, a source told Schad.

Mike Keller, the quarterback's father, is a former professional football player and knows Callahan. Keller would have one season of eligibility left.

Keller, who started seven games for Arizona State last season before breaking his thumb, would have to sit out this coming season under NCAA transfer rules if he decides to leave the Sun Devils for another Division I-A program. He would have one season of eligibility remaining in 2007.

Keller was one of the top-rated passers in Division I-A in 2005 before he was hurt, completing 58 percent of his passes (155-for-264) for 2,165 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Carpenter rallied the Sun Devils to a 4-1 record in their last five games last season and was named MVP of Arizona State's 45-40 victory over Rutgers in the Insight Bowl. He led Division I-A in pass efficiency by completing 68 percent of his passes (156-for-228) for 2,273 yards with 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

The players were involved in one of the most intense position battles in college football during preseason camp. Koetter announced Keller would be the team's starting quarterback Friday, but then abruptly reversed his decision two days later after meeting with the school's athletic director and a group of team leaders.

"It's simple. I made a mistake on the quarterback situation and I'm changing my mind," Koetter said after Sunday's practice.

Keller, from Danville, Calif., would seem to be a perfect fit for Nebraska coach Bill Callahan's West Coast offense. Taylor is a senior, and highly regarded freshman Harrison Beck went AWOL during Nebraska's preseason camp and transferred to North Carolina State.

With Keller's departure, the Sun Devils have only one other scholarship quarterback on their roster: freshman Danny Sullivan.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No More Jobs At Auto Dealership

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma has banned its athletes from working at a car dealership where two football players -- including the team's starting quarterback -- broke NCAA rules by accepting payment for more work than they performed.

The university, in a report to the NCAA released Tuesday following an open records request by the Associated Press, said it banned athletes from working at Big Red Sports and Imports after Oklahoma's compliance staff received "poor and inappropriate treatment" from the dealership's previous management.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops dismissed starting quarterback Rhett Bomar and his roommate, offensive lineman J.D. Quinn, on Aug. 2 after the university's compliance staff uncovered the violations. After the dismissals, Stoops said that Bomar and Quinn "knowingly" broke the rules.

The dealership is under new management, and the current owners cooperated with the university's investigation, according to the report.

In the report, the university said it compared athletes' time cards with class schedules, summer workouts, practice schedules and other time commitments and found no evidence that other athletes were "paid for working during practice or class times."

Seven athletes worked at the dealership during one summer - four washing and detailing cars, and three moving cars around Big Red's lots. For Bomar and Quinn, whose names are redacted from the report, the university found "substantially more hours" claimed on W-2 forms than were listed on a time card report.

The university report states "the employment records maintained and provided by Big Red for temporary summer employment were also at times incomplete or in conflict with other records they maintained on the same employee."

The report indicates some athletes did not know how to use the dealership's time card system and did not have time card records for several weeks at the beginning of their employment. It also shows that the time card reports "frequently" would have a clock-in time but no clock-out time.

The amount of the extra benefit received by the players was redacted from the report, but it indicates athletes generally were paid $10 per hour or $70 per day.

Bomar's father, Jerry Bomar, told The Oklahoman on Tuesday that the overpayment was "between $5,000-7,000."

In an interview with Oklahoma investigators, Stoops said he called Big Red manager Brad McRae in 2004 or 2005 to make sure his players were there and "doing the right things, make sure they're working hard, um, and to make sure things were done right."

"I had specifically asked to make sure, um, that they're working the hours they're supposed to work, that they're getting paid as they should, that they're treating them like you would your other employees," Stoops said in the interview.

Stoops also said he declined McRae's offer to meet privately this February.

Oklahoma's internal investigation was sparked by an anonymous e-mail to university President David Boren on March 3. The university previously had investigated the circumstances by which tailback Adrian Peterson bought a car and then returned it to the dealership several weeks later, determining the arrangement did not violate NCAA regulations.

The dismissals of Bomar and Quinn came 3 1/2 months after Oklahoma appeared before the NCAA Committee on Infractions for violations that occurred under former men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson. While additional limits were placed on Sampson's recruiting at Indiana, the NCAA accepted Oklahoma's self-imposed probation on the basketball program and its limits on recruiting trips and scholarships following the investigation into 577 impermissible phone calls by Sampson and his staff.

The school also avoided a severe "lack of institutional control finding," although the NCAA also found secondary violations by Oklahoma's softball and men's gymnastics teams.

The Associated Press News Service

Stanford Cardinals New Stadium - Oakland Tribune

50,000-seat stadium puts football crowd closer to field
By Glenn Reeves, STAFF WRITER

STANFORD — Anyone ever heard of home-field advantage?

Not around Stanford they haven't, at least not in recent years.

That's a situation about to change. The new Stanford Stadium, a 50,000-seat structure on the same site where the historic 85,000-seat behemoth previously sat, is on schedule to open Sept.16 for Stanford's home opener against Navy.
With the seats closer to the field and an enclosed configuration that will keep in the sound, it's going to be loud.
"If Stanford had this stadium last year they would've beat UCLA," said ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore, a former Stanford and Skyline High player. "They wouldn't have gotten three touchdowns in the last (seven) minutes."'

The Bruins rallied from a 24-3 deficit to win 30-27 in overtime. The attendance was 42,850, meaning there were nearly as many empty seats as occupied ones. And if UCLA had not come back to win that game, Stanford would have finished 6-5 rather than 5-6, and gone to a bowl game. A pretty big difference.

"To have the crowd with you, right next to you, gives us a chance to play on an even field with our opponents," Bill Walsh said.

With the track removed, the distance from the first seat to the field has been reduced from 115 feet to 45 feet.from Sports 1
The media was given a preview Tuesday of the nearly completed stadium. The turf was installed Aug.16, the field watered and mowed for the presentation.

"As good as this looks, they all look better full," athletic director Bob Bowlsby said. "It will certainly be fun seeing this place full with the Stanford faithful. The Navy game will be a sellout. The USC game will be a sellout. We're 136 percent ahead to date from where we were last year. Our committed tickets are just over 37,000 at the current time."

The project is in the 39th week of a 42-week timetable. It's a privately financed $90 million project.

Bowlsby just arrived on the job at Stanford, July 10. He came from Iowa, where he served as athletic director for 15 years.
"I've spent the last 25 years in a public university," Bowlsby said. "Part of that time we spent doing a $100 million renovation of Kinnick Stadium. If this project was undertaken at a public university, no question that it wouldn't have gotten done in 10 months. And it would've been $300 million if it was a penny."

Stanford is counting on the stadium to provide a home-field advantage during games and to help attract prospective players.
"It's going to help recruiting, and that's always our toughest job," said assistant athletic director and Stanford career rushing leader Darrin Nelson. Perhaps most important is what it says about commitment.

"There are about 50 teams that compete for a national championship every year," Nelson said. "You've got to decide if you want to be one of those 50 teams. With this stadium, we can. This stadium can do wonders for our program."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Arizona State Coach Changes Mind

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter abruptly changed his mind and decided to make sophomore Rudy Carpenter the Sun Devils' starting quarterback.

Senior Sam Keller, named the starter Friday, was excused from the Sun Devils' practice Sunday night and is considering transferring to another school.

"It's simple. I made a mistake on the quarterback situation and I'm changing my mind," Koetter said after Sunday's workout. "We're going to start Rudy Carpenter. I've excused Sam Keller from practice to consider his options."

Koetter said he decided to make the switch Saturday and told the quarterbacks later that day.

"Coach Koetter just said, 'Hey, I'm going to do what's best for the team. I'm going to do what the team wants,'" Carpenter said. "I think the decision is going to affect the team in the best way and this is what we're going to do."'

The team was told at a meeting Sunday afternoon.

"There's a lot of things that have happened," Carpenter said. "I'm not going to go into details about it, but with the quarterback situation like this, sometimes those things just happen."

According to the East Valley Tribune, several players requested a meeting with Koetter after the initial decision and told the coach they believed the job should go to Carpenter.

Neither Koetter nor Carpenter would confirm that the meeting took place.

"I talked to so many people about this," Koetter said. "This has been weighing heavy on my mind for a long, long time and I'm the one that screwed it up. I have to live with it. I'm also the one who has to fix it."

The 24th-ranked Sun Devils open their season Oct. 31 at home against Northern Arizona.

Keller has a redshirt season available, or he could transfer to an NCAA Division I-AA school and play immediately. Koetter said Keller is welcome to stay.

"I know the rumor is flying around there that he's been booted off the team. That's not true," Koetter said. "If Sam wants to come be our No. 2 quarterback, then we'd love to have him."


Kentucky Suspends Two For Opener

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky suspended wide receiver John Logan and offensive lineman Micah Jones for the Wildcats' opening game against Louisville on Sept. 3.

Coach Rich Brooks said the players were suspended for violating team rules, but did specify what they did.

Logan, a junior, is a potential starter at wideout and Jones, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound sophomore is listed as a backup at right guard.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Notre Dame Broke Rules?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame is looking into whether student-athletes, including football and basketball players, violated NCAA rules with comments promoting a local sports talk show on the CBS affiliate here.

John Heisler, Notre Dame's senior associate athletic director, said Saturday he became aware of possible violations when contacted Friday afternoon by a reporter for The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne. Heisler said the school has not seen the spots, promoting "Sports Dogz" on WSBT-TV, so it does not know if it violates NCAA rules.

"We're just trying to figure out what this is," he said. "I don't know if we know for sure it's an NCAA violation."

Jennifer Kearns, associate director of public and media relations with the NCAA, said she could not comment on specific cases, or whether the Indianapolis-based organization was investigating the students.

Kearns said that in past situations when a student-athlete did not know they were breaking an NCAA rule it had been deemed as a secondary violation.

"The NCAA is trying to get student athletes the benefit of the doubt," Kearns said. "If they say, 'I didn't know this was happening,' we try to work with them and do what's best for them."

Heisler said school officials would ask WSBT-TV to provide copies of the promotions.

Last year USC quarterback Matt Leinart had his eligibility temporarily revoked after appearing in a promotional segment on ESPN. Leinart was reinstated after Southern California petitioned the NCAA. The NCAA said Leinart's actions were "unintentional and inadvertent."

Coach Charlie Weis said Saturday that the television spots by the Notre Dame players might be different because the comments weren't used as promotions outside of the program.

"This is something run during the show, so it's a totally different," he said.

Weis said he is depending on Notre Dame's compliance officer to determine whether any rules were violated.

"I'll just let them go ahead and deal with it," he said. "But I feel it will be taken care of very quickly."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

Friday, August 18, 2006

Ohio State Takes Top Spot In AP Poll

NEW YORK -- When Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and the rest of Ohio State's blazing Buckeyes were last seen on a big stage, they were whizzing around Sun Devil Stadium at warp speed.

That 34-20 victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl made a lasting impression.

For the first time since 1998, Ohio State is preseason No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25.

"Around here, whether you're high in the polls or not, the expectations are still the same," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said in a telephone interview.

The Buckeyes received 35 of a possible 65 first-place votes from a panel of media members in the poll released Friday. Notre Dame was No. 2, the best preseason showing for the Fighting Irish since they were second in 1994.

"There wasn't a clear-cut No. 1, which I guess if you're a college football fan you have to really like," said Jason Franchuk, a poll voter from the Provo Daily Herald in Utah. "I just remember watching the Fiesta Bowl and being really impressed with that (Ohio State) team."

Texas will start the defense of its national title as the No. 3 team in the country. Auburn was fourth and West Virginia fifth.

Southern California, preseason No. 1 the past two years, was No. 6. Florida, LSU, California and Oklahoma rounded out the top 10.

"It's not a problem," USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett said when he found out about the Trojans' ranking. "We're just going to take that and roll with it."

No. 11 Florida State and No. 12 Miami will renew their rivalry on Labor Day night in the Orange Bowl.

No. 13 was Louisville, followed by Michigan, Georgia, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Penn State and Nebraska.

The final five were Oregon, TCU, Tennessee, Arizona State and Texas Tech.

Unlike the past two seasons, when Southern California started the season as an overwhelming No. 1, the Buckeyes received 54 percent of the first-place votes, and all the teams in the top six received at least three votes for No. 1. Notre Dame had 10 first-place votes, Texas eight, West Virginia six and Auburn and USC three.

"I think that anytime we're ranked No. 1, it puts a bull's-eye on us," center Doug Datish said after practice Friday night. "But on that same note, we're Ohio State and we always have the big bull's-eye on us anyway."

Ohio State closed the 2005 season on a seven-game winning streak and was No. 4 in the final AP poll. The Buckeyes' two losses were to Texas and Penn State by a combined total of 10 points.

The emergence of Smith, a dual-threat quarterback whose junior season started with a suspension, gave the Buckeyes' a new identity.

In Ohio State's first five seasons under Tressel, defense had become the Buckeyes' forte, complemented by a play-it-safe offensive mentality. Tresselball won Ohio State a national title in 2002 with Maurice Clarett powering the offense on the ground.

With Smith running the show, Ohio State has a new MO.

These Buckeyes run a jet-powered spread-option offense, turning Smith loose the way Texas did Vince Young. During the seven-game winning streak, Ohio State averaged 38 points per game.

"There's no question we'd love to be explosive," Tressel said. "We have some kids who can do those type of things."

Smith passed for 2,282 yards, ran for 611 more and accounted for 27 touchdowns on the ground and through the air last season. He did all that despite sitting out the first game for taking money from a booster and then sharing the job for two games.

Smith solidified his status against Michigan and Notre Dame, throwing for 642 yards.

"I think he has done an excellent job battling through adversity, some of which he created and others were circumstances that had nothing to do with him," said Tressel, who's 50-13 with Ohio State. "Now the fun thing about Troy Smith is to find out how he'll handle success."

Smith has a couple of excellent running mates in Ginn and tailback Antonio Pittman.

Ginn, the super-fast receiver and return man who was a freshman star in 2004, was having a disappointing sophomore season until he burned Notre Dame for 167 yards on eight catches, including touchdowns of 56 and 68 yards.

Pittman had the second-best sophomore season of any running back in Ohio State history with 1,331 yards rushing -- only two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin did better -- capped by a game-clinching 60-yard yard touchdown sprint against the Fighting Irish.

The Buckeyes must replace seven defensive starters, including linebacker A.J. Hawk and two other first-round draft picks.

"You miss the maturity, the leadership and the game experience," Tressel said.

All the top teams seem to be missing something.

Notre Dame's 17 returning starters include its Heisman contender, quarterback Brady Quinn, but also most of the defense Ohio State torched.

Texas would have been a lock to enter the season No. 1 if Young hadn't left early for the NFL. Without him, the Longhorns are loaded but leaderless.

USC must replace Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and enough offensive talent to start an NFL expansion team.

Auburn's smallish defense was last seen being run over by burly Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.

West Virginia proved it belonged among the nation's elite with a 38-35 win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. But how will last season's fabulous freshmen, quarterback Pat White and backfield mate Steve Slaton, respond to high expectations?

LSU and Cal have quarterback questions. Speaking of quarterbacks, how will Florida's Chris Leak do in Year 2 under Urban Meyer?

And how will Oklahoma hold up after its starting QB, Rhett Bomar, was kicked off the team for taking a no-show job?

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Minnesota Suspends Running Back

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Gophers lost yet another running back on Wednesday when junior college transfer Brylee Callender was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.

Gophers coach Glen Mason did not specify what rules were broken in a one-sentence news release on Wednesday evening, but the move further depletes an already thin backfield.

The Gophers lost junior running back Laurence Maroney shortly after last season when he declared for the NFL draft and was taken in the first round by New England. Then Gary Russell, the top returning rusher who set a school record for rushing touchdowns last season, was ruled academically ineligible.

The drama for Minnesota got a head start in the offseason this year, as dark clouds circled the program during preparation for the Music City Bowl last December. Head coach Glen Mason's contract was up for renewal, and a strong case was made on both sides of the argument over whether to bring him back.
On the plus side, Mason's Gophers were about to play in their sixth bowl game in seven years, after a long dry spell for the traditionally dismal program, and put together an unprecedented streak of three straight seasons with two 1,000-yard rushers on the team.

Callender led Lakeville High School to the 2003 state championship before spending two years at Feather River College in California to get his academics straightened out.

At the Gophers media day on Aug. 4, Mason said Callender was impressive in spring workouts.

"Brylee Callender went through an adjustment period, but he probably performed best during spring practice," Mason said. "He worked tremendously hard this summer. I'm anxious to see how he'll perform."

Just how long Callender will be suspended was unclear on Wednesday night, but Mason may have to do some more shuffling to bolster the depth behind presumed starter Amir Pinnix, who was third on the depth chart last season behind Maroney and Russell.

The loss of All-American linemen Greg Eslinger and Mark Setterstrom to the NFL could put even more of a premium on quality running backs this season. Mason loves to use multiple backs in his run-oriented offense, which prompted him to move highly touted sophomore Alex Daniels from linebacker to running back, even before Callender was suspended.

"I've talked long and hard about not having the depth at running back we've all become accustomed to around here, so I moved Alex Daniels to running back," Mason said. "We have to get creative because we still want to run the football."

Jay Thomas and Justin Valentine also are in the mix for the Gophers, who have been one of the nation's top rushing teams for the past few years.

Callender's suspension could further hasten a move away from the running game as Mason will look to depend on senior quarterback Bryan Cupito more this season.

"When I look at us right now I'm a little uncertain about the running back position," Mason said at media day. "But I'm confident in our quarterback and the decisions he'll make. I'm confident in his throwing ability and I'm confident in our receivers, so that's why I think you'll see us throw the ball more effectively."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Where Do We Draw The Line

Tycoon's $165M gift to Oklahoma State raises both hopes and questions

STILLWATER, Okla. — On the Depression-era night when Boone Pickens was born, the attending doctor gave his father a grim choice: There were complications, and he could save the life of his wife or the baby. But not both.
Thomas Boone Pickens would have none of it. There had to be another option, he insisted, and the physician sweated — successfully — through the first cesarean section performed at the hospital in Holdenville, Okla.

Like his father, the son does not concede easily. In life. In business. Or on the playing field, where Boone Pickens, now 78, has made it his mission to lift his beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys from decades of low-budget mediocrity in all but a handful of sports to eminence in football and beyond. Money's what it takes? Money, the Cowboys now have. Just after Christmas last year, the famed oilman-turned-master investor wired $165 million to a school-connected account.

The donation was the biggest by far in the history of college athletics, a stunning windfall enhanced by a $31 million kick-in from the OSU golf foundation and careful investing that has swollen the total amount to more than $250 million. By the time it's spent, the pot is expected to grow to $343 million.

GIVING BIG: Largest gifts to colleges

To a get-results guy such as Pickens, OSU Class of 1951, it's simple cause and effect. "I've had a lot of experience," he says. "I've had a lot of winners — I'm not talking about athletics, I've had winners in business — and when you get down to it, it's funding and leadership (that make a difference). If you can provide the funding and you get the leadership, you'll have a competitive team."

And if win-loss records fail to reflect that logic? That's one of the hundred-million-dollar questions.

The football team is coming off a four-win season and last-place finish in the Big 12 Conference's cutthroat South Division, and prospects for this year are barely improved. The Cowboys are forecast by media covering the conference to finish next-to-last in the South, ahead of Baylor.

Mike Gundy is entering his second season as coach. He had Pickens' backing when hired in January 2005 and professes to feel no more than the standard major-college pressure to win. Pickens' gift, he says, is "a great opportunity for us."

OSU men's tennis coach James Wadley is more frank about Pickens' donation. "You'll see a bunch of coaches squirming. It raises the bar. It takes away some excuses," he says. "But that's what we all want. You want to compete, and you want to compete at the highest level. If you don't, you shouldn't be in this business."

The money, all of it, is earmarked for facilities. The next seven years will see a remarkable building boom that will provide the track, baseball, tennis and women's soccer and equestrian teams with new stadiums and quarters.

Football will get upwards of $120 million for new offices, new locker and training rooms and additional seating in a newly enclosed west end of its stadium. Gundy and his team will be the primary tenants of a multipurpose indoor practice facility, planned along with probably three practice fields at a cost of $54 million.

All that's atop two sprucing-up and expansion projects undertaken since 2003. By 2008, upgrades to the stadium will have totaled more than $220 million. Counting previous gifts, Pickens (whose name now adorns the stadium) will have underwritten roughly two-thirds of that amount.

"Word has gotten out," says Gundy, a record-setting, four-year starting quarterback for the Cowboys in the 1980s and later their offensive coordinator under Bob Simmons and then Les Miles.

Walk into a high school coach's office during a recruiting trip to talent-rich Texas, "and the first thing they say is, 'You guys are going to build big-time facilities up there,' " Gundy says. "That trickles down to the prospects.

"It's great marketing. It's great advertisement. And it's put us in position to have a lot of success."

'The winning better come'

Wadley says he's getting the same response: "I can get in a lot of houses I couldn't get in before."

OSU's longest-tenured coach at 31 years, Wadley has long had to make do with perhaps its poorest athletics facilities. His team uses the school's recreational courts, which have no locker rooms or restrooms. There isn't an indoor court anywhere on campus or even in Stillwater, and Wadley and his players must drive 45 minutes to an hour or more to Tulsa, Oklahoma City or Ponca City to practice during the winter.

From that poorhouse, the program will move into a $15 million, state-of-the-art facility sometime in the next five or so years.

Then, Wadley acknowledges, "The winning better come."

To put Pickens' $165 million gift in perspective, consider that athletics giving at Oklahoma State had averaged $7 million to $9 million yearly, most from donations tied to priority football seating. Non-athletics giving to the university for the fiscal year ending June 30 totaled $100 million.

Pickens' generosity didn't end with the $165 million. That, along with $6 million he'd donated earlier last December and the $31 million from the golf foundation, immediately was invested in his successful hedge fund, BP Capital Management, and Pickens waived all fees (2% of the original amount plus 20% of the profits).

Say this: He knows money management. BP Capital coaxed first- and second-quarter returns totaling $50 million, according to athletics director Mike Holder. Waiving the fees had saved the school roughly $14 million through the middle of July, Pickens estimates.

What does Pickens get?

Which raises a second question: What sort of influence in OSU athletics does that buy Pickens?

"With a gift like that, of course, they're going to be respectful and I'm going to be asked my opinion on things. It doesn't mean that I'm running anything," he says. "I don't want to get into personnel. I've never told a football coach at OSU, ever, 'Hey, you should play that guy at quarterback.' Or, 'You ought to run more up the middle or pass more.' I'd never be over there jerking people around or something like that. That's not my personality."

Still, a close relationship with Pickens did Holder no harm when Oklahoma State went looking for a replacement for retiring athletics director Harry Birdwell last year.

"Boone didn't pick Mike. He didn't try to pick Mike," says Oklahoma State President David Schmidly, who did choose Holder, then the OSU men's golf coach and a longtime quail-hunting buddy of Pickens. "But ... why wouldn't you want an athletic director that your top donor likes?"

Holder, who won eight national championships in 32 years in charge of the Cowboys golf program and just as notably built a $37 million endowment and debt-free, first-class university golf course, took over as vice president for athletic programs and AD in September. Pickens came through with his big gift three months later.

Gundy was running the football program by then. But Pickens, as a member of OSU's screening committee, was among those who'd championed him during a short search after Miles left for LSU in January 2005.

Pickens was growing increasingly impatient with a program that had won one league title (and that a tie) in 46 years in the Big Eight and Big 12, hadn't played in a top-tier bowl since 1946 and had never put together more than two consecutive years with at least eight wins. When the Cowboys came across gifted coaches — Jimmy Johnson and Miles — they'd soon lose them to other college programs.

"It was just a steppingstone. Miles no sooner got there than he was looking for another job," Pickens says. "What I proposed to the regents and the president of the university (was) if Gundy can do it, he's an OSU guy, he likes to live in Stillwater, he was a great football player for us and it's a natural place to go. That's the kind of advice I try to provide."

Robert Darcy, a regents professor of political science and statistics and past chairman of OSU's Faculty Council, nonetheless has complained about Pickens' heavy hand in school affairs. He was publicly critical of the $165 million gift, painting it as an example of the university's overemphasis on athletics.

"That, to me, is amusing. You give the money where you want it," Pickens says, and he tacks on a caveat. "If you're telling me that somebody in the faculty said that, I'd be careful if I were they because I've said I was going to give more money to the school. I'd want to be a supporter, not a critic."

The timing of Pickens' donation also drew attention from media outlets, including The New York Times. Because of congressional legislation related to Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, taxpayers making a charitable donation before the end of 2005 received a one-time opportunity to deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income, double the usual limit.

"Boone gave to OSU for one reason — to make the school more competitive in athletics and academics," Pickens' spokesman, Jay Rosser, said Tuesday via e-mail. "The notion that taxes factored into his thinking is laughable, and the actual tax benefits he received as a result of his giving have been dramatically overstated."

With Pickens' gift, OSU's spending on athletics facilities in the next five to seven years is projected at $316 million — slightly eclipsing the $314 million planned for a new science building, expansion and renovation of the business and architecture schools and other academic-side projects.

It also dwarfs the $11.7 million the university spent on sports facilities in a more than three-decade period from 1967 to 1999, when it began $56 million in improvements to basketball's Gallagher-Iba Arena. Pickens' gift essentially will lead to upgrades for every sport other than men's and women's basketball and golf, the only ones with facilities already up to snuff.

All of the new facilities, except for the equestrian team's, will be clustered onto newly purchased land north of the football stadium, fulfilling Pickens' vision of a sprawling sports complex.

And then ... what?

Do good times inevitably roll?

Oklahoma State has won 48 national team championships, but 34 have come in wrestling and 10 in golf. Two more belong to the Henry Iba-coached basketball teams of the mid-1940s.

'Quantum leap forward'

"If you follow the argument that facilities attract recruits, obviously this is a quantum leap forward for Oklahoma State," says Chuck Neinas, the former Big Eight commissioner and College Football Association executive director.

"Money doesn't buy happiness, and it can't necessarily buy victories. But it certainly creates a platform to develop a program."

Gundy and his staff hit recruiting pay dirt last winter, signing a class that by most assessments ranked among the nation's 20 best. He says the facilities promised by Pickens' gift were a factor.

There remains a gap between Oklahoma State and much of the rest of the Big 12 in operational spending on such necessities as equipment, travel, recruiting, salaries and scholarships.

OSU typically ranks ninth in the conference, and the roughly $8.5 million it spent on football last year was dwarfed by Texas' $15.5 million outlay en route to the national title, according to figures provided by the schools. With facilities covered, however, other donors can kick into those other areas, particularly scholarships.

"It was obvious to me and everyone else associated with OSU that we'd been playing with a short stick forever and someone needed to do something unprecedented to change the paradigm around here," Holder says. "All we've done for decades is just talk. Finally, there's more than just talk."

It's a $165 million bounce that Schmidly says is being felt beyond the university's playing fields and courts. "I'm getting ready to do a huge campaign for student scholarships," the OSU president says, "and I can go to donors and say, 'Look what Boone did to help us with athletics. Can you help us with academics?' So it's made my job a hell of lot easier.

"And let's face it. This is America. People like to be associated with winners. They like to be associated with things that are on the upswing, and this institution is on the upswing. In many ways, Boone gave us that momentum."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Texas Looks Towards The Future

With Vince Young making plays in the NFL now the Texas Longhorns are searching for a leader to fill some very big shoes. Is their another Vince Young waiting in the wings at Texas. Probably not, but how many Vince Young are really out their anyways.

Texas will have to rely on some unproven talent at quarterback to defend their National Championship this year. Mack Brown will have to choose between freshman Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead as his starting quarterback. Neither has anyexperience but both have alot of talent and it may come down to rotating quarterbacks until Mack Brown can find the right fit. No matter what happens the Longhorns better be ready as the Ohio State Buckeyes pay a visit the second game of the season.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kansas Meets With The NCAA

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas officials met with the NCAA for about seven hours Sunday in an effort to head off penalties harsher than those the Jayhawks have imposed on themselves for rules infractions.

A delegation including football coach Mark Mangino, basketball coach Bill Self, athletic director Lew Perkins and chancellor Robert Hemenway met with the NCAA infractions committee in the Tremont Plaza Hotel in Baltimore, answering 11 charges of wrongdoing.

The school's only public comment was a brief statement by Hemenway praising the committee for providing a fair hearing and saying a decision by the NCAA was expected in five to seven weeks.

Shortly after Perkins succeeded Al Bohl as athletic director two years ago, Kansas began an internal probe of violations that allegedly occurred during 1997-2003. The school self-reported violations involving football and men's and women's basketball, then put itself on probation for two years and reduced scholarships in both football and women's basketball.

After conducting its own investigation, the NCAA added the potentially serious charge of lack of institutional control during that six-year period. Also worrisome to Kansas is the label "academic fraud" the NCAA has put on violations that occurred in the football program.

Potentially, the NCAA could order further scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions and a ban on postseason appearances by the football and basketball team.

NCAA officials never comment about ongoing investigations.

"I don't think it would be productive to speculate on how the committee reacted to our presentation," Hemenway said. "Our focus now is that this chapter is over. We can now move forward confident that the changes we've made in the area of compliance will help prevent us from going through this again."

Hemenway said the university would not comment further on the NCAA investigation until the committee announces its decision in about six weeks.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Jerry Rice Enters College Hall Of Fame

College seems like a blur to Jerry Rice.

"It went by so fast. You're so focused," Rice said Saturday. "I wish I could go back and do it all over again."

That was a common feeling among the 20 men being enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame. Former Alabama linebacker Cornelius Bennett, former Pittsburgh offensive tackle Mark May and Oklahoma running back Joe Washington all said they would love to live those days again.

Even fullback Roosevelt Leaks, who faced some obstacles in becoming the first black All-America football player at Texas, said he would gladly do it again, even if it might have been a little more difficult for him.

"We all travel different roads. Whether it was a tougher road or not, there are always obstacles on the road. You keep moving forward," he said. "The things that deter you, they usually make you better."

May, now a college football analyst for ESPN, said the thing he remembers best from college is the friendships.

"The camaraderie you built with your teammates was special. The relationships you build then stick with you the rest of your life," he said.

Others being inducted into the hall Saturday included USC tailback Anthony Davis, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback John Huarte of Notre Dame, Stanford defensive tackle Paul Wiggin and Michigan defensive back Tom Curtis, along with former Auburn coach Pat Dye and former West Virginia coach Don Nehlen.

"The relationships you build then stick with you the rest of your life."
Mark May
The men being honored were in a parade in the morning, then held a youth football clinic and a flag football game in the afternoon. Keith Dorney, an offensive tackle at Penn State, was the game's MVP with two TD catches and three catches overall for 40 yards -- compared with two catches for Rice for 26 yards and one touchdown.

Bennett, who threw two touchdown passes, said the festivities were fun.

"Twenty years ago I never thought all this would be possible, yet here we are," said Bennett, who won the Lombardi Trophy in 1986.

Much of the talk Saturday centered on how special college was. Player after player talked about how much fun it was compared to the businesslike NFL.

"You don't have all the rigmarole that goes along with it," Bennett said. "At college you had no bills, just a cavalier lifestyle."

But Rice said not every thing in college was fun and games. Going to a small school such as Mississippi Valley State forced him to work harder to reach his goals.

"It molded me into the player I became," he said.

Rice, generally regarded as the greatest receiver of all time, retired from the NFL with 38 records and three Super Bowl titles. He said he's happy his induction into the hall is bringing attention to Mississippi Valley State.

"It's the icing on the cake," he said.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Why Do Some Fail, Why Others Succeed

After hearing about Maurice Clarett and his trouble I wonder why some guys succeed going to the pros and others fail like Maurice. Now it's not just Maurice there is a long list of guys who were big stars who never made it either. You can count Ryan Leaf and Lawrence Phillips in that same breath as Maurice.

It could be in the college frame these guys are protected from anything that can really go wrong by other players and coaches and sometimes the universities. Once they leave college their is no one to protect them and they have to fend for themselves and they don't know how to handle it.

The three examples above all have personal issues within their lives it seems and that could be another factor that causes this. Many people will tell you it's where they were raised or their environment. The NFL is full of guys who had the same troubles and sometimes worse and made it. I guess in the end it comes down to the individual and how bad they want it or not.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Maurice Clarett What Went Wrong?

On possibly his last night as a free man, Maurice Clarett was calling on the telephone. I hadn't seen him or heard from him in a year, not since the Denver Broncos kicked him to the curb, but I was on his list Tuesday night. Along with Jim Tressel and LeBron James and some arena football coach. His list of thank-yous.

I looked at the clock when he called, and it was just past 11 p.m. ET. He told me he was driving somewhere, and along the way his cell phone cut in and out. He wasn't loud or belligerent. Instead he seemed melancholy and possibly drunk.

Clarett was arrested near the home of a witness set to testify against him in a separate robbery case, the Franklin County prosecutor said.He started in with his news: He was a daddy. His girlfriend, Ashley, had given birth to a baby girl on July 17 and he claimed it had changed his life. "F--- Ohio State, f--- winning the national championship, it's more cool having her,'' he was saying. He said he'd cry a lot when he held her, and that just the other day in his mom's house, he'd cried four times holding her the same afternoon. He said he'd do anything for that little girl, that he'd go to jail for 30 years for this little girl. It wasn't clear what he meant, although it's starting to get clearer now.

I asked him how he was, and he said he was growing up, taking responsibility for what he'd done. He admitted "money used to be everything'' to him and he said, "Look how cocky I used to be. Life lessons have put me on my ass.'' I'd heard this sort of rhetoric before, from almost every troubled athlete I'd ever interviewed, but then he got me. He got me when he said he wanted to dump his whole story on me, when he said "I haven't done s---. I have done nothing but f------ run a football. Don't confuse yourself. I've done nothing but run a f------ football. Don't try to make it bigger than it is.''

He started in then with his thank-yous. I had written a column in ESPN The Magazine last January, after his initial arrest on burglary charges, outlining his potential drinking problem, steroid problem and self-esteem problem. He said he'd hated that story, that he'd hated me, but he was calling now to thank me, for waking him up to reality. He said he'd been calling a lot of people that day, that he'd called Tressel -- the same coach he'd once accused of giving him cars and grades -- and thanked him, too.

Tressel had reached out to Clarett months before, having asked Buckeyes QB Troy Smith for Clarett's cell phone number. They had talked, and Tressel had offered to do all he could for him, and now -- late Tuesday night -- Clarett was saying, "Me and [Tressel] have become cool again. I was talking to Jim Tressel earlier, and said, 'Thank you for being real.' He's been real to me, and I've been real to myself. I don't run from nothing anymore.''

He said he'd also called his old high school buddy LeBron James that day -- who knows if it's true, considering LeBron's playing ball overseas -- and that there were more calls to make. It was almost midnight ET by then, but now Clarett was starting to ramble, starting to sound a little skittish, a little paranoid.

He wondered if someone was overhearing the conversation, if someone might be listening. Was he being followed?

Who knew Clarett had an assault rifle with him the whole time? Or a 9mm gun between his legs? Or that he had a hatchet? Who knew the next morning I'd wake up and hear he was under custody on alleged weapons charges, that he'd been Maced and tasered, that he'd been wearing a bulletproof vest, that he'd probably been wearing it as we spoke?

His lawyer Mike Hoague came out Wednesday and said that Clarett has recently received death threats, verbal and written, and, suddenly, his pattern of behavior all seemed to make more sense. The people who know him say he's been alternately strong and unstable recently, that the stress of his court case and his baby girl and his uncertain future have him all over the emotional map.

Does someone really want to hurt him? Is someone bugging his phone? Or is he just delusional? Whichever, you've got to go back to last year, to the mess of Los Angeles.

After Ohio State booted him out of school, he went to L.A., where he befriended members of the rap community, manager types. They liked Clarett; he had an easy giggle, and a face they'd seen in the Fiesta Bowl end zone. He was their ticket to the world of sports, and they were his ticket to a lush lifestyle. Hell, he was broke, and they were driving BMWs and living in beachfront property. This was right up Clarett's alley.

He was one of these kids who'd always looked for shortcuts. His mom, Michelle, had worked long hours at a Youngstown Sears, just to support her family, but he found out early that football brought him all the love and cash he could handle. A caterer named Bobby Dellimuti provided a car, and other amenities, and soon, according to Clarett, Ohio State coaches and boosters had done the same. Clarett wasn't too proud to have his hand out. It's who he was.

But, in L.A., it was the last thing he needed. He was spotted driving a 745 BMW and living in a mansion, when he should've been training for the NFL. The people in the rap world were sponsoring him, figuring he'd bring them back millions after he went in the first round, but what did they know? Did they know his 40 time?

The first trainer they hooked him up with, in the fall of 2004, was Chad Ikei, out of Arizona. Clarett was 256 pounds by then. A two-hundred-and-fifty-six-pound tailback! And he had the most peculiar work habits. He wanted Ikei to clear the gym out before he worked out. He wanted no one watching him, no one judging him. His insecurity was mind-boggling.

"He actually wanted me to shut the gym down, so nobody could train when he was training, so he could focus and get in his intensity level, and all that,'' Ikei told me earlier this year. "I'm like … you going to tell Coach Green someday at the Arizona Cardinals that nobody can work out when you're working out?''

The harder Ikei pushed Clarett, the more Clarett sulked, and, ultimately, he quit.

"The day he quit, we were on a high school track," Ikei said. "He ran one lap, and these kids came out for PE class, and he was like, 'I'm not running in front of all these kids. It's embarrassing.' I said, 'What do you mean? For what? Who cares? He was like, 'Well, baseball season's not in, football season's going on right now, I'm too short and stocky to be a basketball player, so obviously these kids are going to know I'm not playing in the NFL or I'm not doing anything important.' I'm like, 'Who cares?'

"I told him right there, 'No one … knows who you are here anyway. So who cares?' He was like, 'No, no, no.' … And what it made it worse, though, was when we were leaving, these two or three kids came running all the way out to the parking lot. 'Mr. Clarett, Mr. Clarett, can we get your autograph? And he smiles and signs these pieces of paper and then turns to me and is like, 'Well, you said nobody knows me. These people knew me.' I'm going … the only reason they know you is because you're on ESPN f------ everything up for Ohio State and everybody else.'"

So Clarett quit right then and there. "Maurice was like, 'Just give me what David Boston was getting, and I'll do whatever,' " Ikei says. "He wanted an easy route out. I said, 'You want David Boston's trainer? Here's the guy's number.' "

So Clarett quickly switched to Boston's guru, Charles Poliquin, who denies supplying Clarett with HGH or steroids, even though Boston has been suspended for steroids. Poliquin and Clarett teamed up for six weeks in Phoenix, but it fell apart when Clarett wanted to move back to L.A., back closer to his rap friends.

"I don't know why, he was living nice in Phoenix,'' Poliquin told me earlier this year. "They gave him the latest Beemer. Whoever was sponsoring him was giving him a real nice plush life. He was driving better cars than five-year veterans of the NFL. I told his people, 'Make the guy take the bus and stay at Motel 6.'

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Police found four loaded guns, including this semi-automatic handgun, in Clarett's sport utility vehicle early Wednesday."And he partied too much, oh yeah. When he didn't report back after the Christmas holidays, we found out he was drunk as a skunk in New Orleans. We kept calling his people, 'When is he going to be back? When is he going to be back?' Because he's the type of guy, if you're not on his ass every day, he'll gain three pounds of fat a day. But there's not a lot of guys that want to play pro football when they have a team of money men backing them up. I mean, he was living in Malibu. Right on the beach. You walked out of the house, and there you were on the beach … I've been to the house. It's a nice place. The guy owned like 10 cars and said, pick whatever car you want. …

"And he was training at, I don't know, L.A. Sports Club. One of those stars, rich-and-famous gym. Which I told him you can't train … It's a gym for the young and pretty, but you can't get strong, you know. When I was there, there were a bunch of guys from the TV series "24," and actors and rappers. I would say Maurice was a classic case of Hollywood fever. Among the rich and famous, and he thought he was there with 'em.''

By the 2005 NFL Combine, Clarett was too slow to turn any heads, and his only blessing was that Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan was arrogant enough to think he could save him. Shanahan thinks the system makes the back, instead of vice versa, and so he picked Clarett in the third round and found out the hard way.

The minute Clarett arrived in Denver, they began to sour on him. At the airport, before flying from Colorado to the rookie symposium, he frantically called the Broncos, saying he'd left a brief case in his airport limo. But there was no brief case in there, just a water bag he always carried around. That's all right, he said, he wanted it.

He would take that water bottle everywhere, including the Bronco weight room, and the team started getting suspicious when, before minicamp practices, he'd grab the bottle and say, "I gotta get my Goose on.'' It wasn't a joke; the Bronco players were convinced he was chugging Grey Goose.

There was another incident at the team hotel, where he was accused of allegedly making sexual comments toward a guest. He denied it, but it didn't help that he had also begun alienating members of the Broncos staff. That summer, after minicamp, he had missed a weight lifting session with the team's strength coach of 11 years, Rich Tuten, and he and Tuten had then engaged in a profane shouting match. Offended by it, Clarett marched into GM Ted Sundquist's office and demanded that Tuten be fired. When Sundquist refused, Clarett -- who hadn't even signed a rookie contract yet -- asked to be traded.

By this point, the Broncos were wary of him. They offered Clarett a $416,000 signing bonus, but only if the contract had default language. But Clarett, against the advice of Clarett's former agents, Steve Feldman and Josh Luchs, turned it down. Feldman and Luchs -- who now, as agents for Gersh Sports, represent the new Bronco star rookie RB Mike Bell -- implored Clarett to take the signing bonus, but Clarett wanted to replace it with an incentive package that would pay him first-round money if he rushed for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons. It was his ego talking. Clarett even wanted Pro Bowl language. It was a reach, and if he got cut, he wouldn't see a penny. Obviously, the Broncos agreed to the deal. And when he spent 18 days nursing a groin injury, they cut him. He never carried the ball in a preseason game.

And now what? He had no money, although he claims he's made some periodic cash doing autograph sessions. His rap friends had financed him, with the idea he'd pay them back with his NFL riches. But there were no riches. He left for his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, thinking he'd go to NFL Europe and get himself back on the field, get himself financially liquid. But then there was his New Year's Eve arrest in 2006, and his pending court case. Not a team would touch him. "He'll never play again,'' said a league executive. So how was he going to pay these people back? How much did he owe? Were these people on his back? Were these the threats his lawyer spoke about?

Does this explain the assault rifle? The bulletproof vest? The phone call to me?


They found a half-full vodka bottle in his SUV early Wednesday morning. Grey Goose. Something was driving Maurice Clarett to drink (although police said they did not sense he was intoxicated) and it was obviously on his mind Tuesday night. He said his thank-yous to me, to Tressel, to LeBron, and after he hung up with me, he called his newest football coach, Jim Terry.

Terry is the head coach and owner of the Mahoning Valley Hitmen of the Eastern Indoor Football League. This isn't even arena ball, it's minor league arena ball. And this was the only team on earth that wanted Maurice Clarett.

According to Terry, Clarett was on the phone with him at about 1 a.m, a half hour after I was on the phone with Clarett and two hours before the gun arrest. Clarett was very likely thanking Terry, too, thanking him for being the last football coach on earth to take a chance on a has-been from Ohio State.

So it all makes sense, all the contriteness, all the thank-yous, all the quasi-goodbyes. If someone was coming after Maurice Clarett, that meant someone was coming after his baby girl. And if someone was coming after his baby girl, he was going to do anything he could to stop it. If that meant carrying four guns and wearing a bulletproof vest, so be it. Maybe, Tuesday night, he knew it was over. Maybe that's why he told me, "I'm a young man going through stress. I'm a person who was scheduled to make millions and didn't make 'em."

The more I think about it, maybe he'd decided Tuesday night was the night to tell everyone how he felt, his last chance for a confessional.

And now maybe he's in the safest, best place for him.

The slammer.

Tom Friend is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at tom.friend@espnmag.com.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Charlie Weis Runs Up Against South Bend Tribune

The South Bend Tribune, the local organ of the town where Notre Dame exists, and plays football, took on the thorny matter of how high school player Jimmy Clausen, regarded as the next John Elway by some, came to be successfully recruited by the Weis and the Golden Dome. The resulting article -- which to me is really harmless (I've read it) -- caused the two reporters to be blocked from attending Notre Dame practices (this was removed recently) and generally got the Irish up of the locals who support Notre Dame.

But one thing it's shown is just how thin skinned its coach is.

Notre Dame posted a 9-3 record last year when no one -- really, no one -- expected them to do anything. The difference this year is ND's going to get the "A" game of its opponents. How the team stands up to this pressure will show to what degree the program really has improved.

I'm betting not much.

There's a lot more interest. Tickets for the Notre Dame / Penn State game -- the first game on the team's schedule, are going for over $1,000 a seat. If Notre Dame loses that game, there are people who will feel that they got ripped off.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Heisman Hopefuls

I thought i would list the Heisman Hopefuls and Maybe some you haven't heard of.

Brian Brohm quarterback out of Louisville
Michael Bush running back out of Louisville
Jammal Charles running back out of Texas
Ted Ginn Jr wide receiver out of Ohio State
Troy Smith quarterback out of Ohio State
Kenny Irons running back out of Auburn
Dwayne Jarrett wide receiver out of USC
Calvin Johnson wide receiver out of Georgia Tech
Chris Leak quarterback out of Florida
Adrian Peterson running back out of Oklahoma
Jeff Samardzija wide receiver out of Notre Dame
Steve Slation running back out of West Virginia
Brady Quinn quarterback out of Notre Dame
Garrett Wolfe running back out of Northern Illinois

Others to watch!!

Colt Brennan QB Senior Hawaii
Kenneth Darby RB Senior Alabama
Michael Hart RB Junior Michigan
Sam Keller QB Senior Arizona State
Brian Leonard RB Senior Rutgers
Marshawn Lynch RB Junior California
Darren McFadden RB Sophomore Arkansas
Paul Posluszny LB Senior Penn State
Sidney Rice WR Sophomore South Carolina
Drew Stanton QB Senior Michigan State
Tyrell Sutton RB Sophomore Northwestern
Drew Weatherford QB Sophomore Florida State
Pat White QB Sophomore West Virginia

Planning and Preparation - Tyrone Willingham

I found this article in a website about the West Coast Offense and not properly indexed for linking, so I reproduce it here. It's a reminder of the kind of organization Tyrone Willingham brought to the Notre Dame (and not Washington) program and is a great reason for ND's first-year rebound under Tyrone Willingham.

Planning and Preparation
Tyrone Willingham
Head Coach - University of Notre Dame
South Bend, Ind.
• Proceedings • 79th AFCA Convention • 2002 •

Planning and Preparation
First of all, I’m delighted to be here, because I do have some experience coaching in the state of Texas. I coached at Rice for a few years. I know this room is not comprised only of Texas coaches, but there is nothing like Texas football.

We had a quarterfinal championship game going on at Rice Stadium one year while I was there. I think it was Yates and
Willowridge. And, of course, there was a double-header. One game was played at the Astrodome, and one game was played atRice Stadium. The Astrodome game fin-ished first and there were, roughly, 20 to 30,000 people in Rice Stadium and another 10,000 in the parking lot, trying to get into the stadium. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I’m delighted to be here and delighted to share just a little bit with you this evening. Now, I realize that I don’t know all there
is to know. And that’s important, because I think, for a football coach, once you realize that you don’t have all the answers, then you can really start to bring a lot of other people into the process. And that is what’s important to me.

Now, I was fortunate enough when I started playing college football at Michigan State that I had one of the legendary
coaches in Duffy Daugherty. Duffy said something that I think is important. “It’s bad luck not to have good players.” I think all of us can appreciate that.

Everyone talks about the X’s and O’s, but there is no question that, if you’ve got great players, you enhance your chances.
But I took it just a little bit further than Duffy took it. Because I am a big believer in teams; and I said, “It’s bad luck not to have good coaches.” And, especially, in the job that I have as head coach, you can’t do it all. You can’t slow the team down by hav-ing everyone wait on you. So, in our sys-tem, we have got to have good coaches.

I thought I would share something that our program relies on every week. We call it our “checklist.” It’s something that I think we need and, maybe, you even need, to use every week as part of your preparation.

I guess the first thing to ask myself is, “what is a checklist?” And, for me, that gets kind of easy, because I’ve been fortunate to be married now going on 22 years. The way I describe a checklist is, it’s called “honey-do’s!”

Now, some of you are familiar with honey-do’s. It’s getting to the point now where even single guys get honey-do’s.
That didn’t used to be the case, you know, only married guys got honey-do’s. But, when I come home, my wife says, “honey, do this.” And she’s kind of adamant about it and kind of routine in the list that she gives me.

Well, I think, for us, our checklist is really just honey-do’s, things that we want to check off every week to make sure we’re
prepared and make sure we’re doing all the things, in terms of proper preparation for our football team.

Why is the checklist important? I believe in our system, that it’s important because it gives us consistency, so that, every week we don’t let anything slip through the cracks, that all of the situations that you talk about, all of the things that you know
might happen in the ballgame, you’re pre-pared for. So, it’s important, in terms of us having the consistency that we need each week, in terms of our preparation. What I’m going to start with is just our basic offensive checklist that we use each

The first thing is that we try to make sure that we create a theme. Now, you can have multiple things. You can have total-team things, or you can have defensive/offensive special teams.

But we went back to a period of time that was pretty good for us in our 1999 run for the Rose Bowl. We gave our team a
thought process that we thought would carry us through the week.

I think we were sitting 3-0 in the Pac-10, at one point and everything became more focused. We only had five games left to go in the conference, and if we could win five games, there was no question we would be
the conference champion and represent the conference in the Rose Bowl.

So we came away with little things. We said, “the ring is the thing.” Because, if our guys could focus on accomplishing that
championship ring and envision that, internalize it, then we would have a better chance.

So each and every week, one of the major things that we like to do with our foot-ball team is try to create a theme, try to get
something that we could focus on.

We always like to sit down each week and make sure that we are working toward our strengths. I’m fortunate enough that, of my 24 years in football, I spent three years of that with the Minnesota Vikings and Denny Green and Brian Billick.

One of the things that was big there was knowing what you do well. So, we focused a great deal of our energies on making
sure, every week, that we clearly under-stood what we were good at and that we never took that out of our game plan.

Identify and Attack Personnel: For us this is huge. Because, just like we identify that we have a strength, so does your opponent have a weakness. There is something that they don’t do well.

We try to make sure that, as a coaching staff, every week, we find that one point or two or three, some weeks, if we’re lucky. We try to make sure that we focus and attack those points.

We try to make sure, like everyone does, that we study, study, study our ten-dencies. We self-scout. But, if you notice there, I added not just “self-scout” but “self-scout through the eyes of your opponent.” And that is drastically different than how you see yourself.

It is really how someone else views you.

How does your opponent look at it?
What does he believe are your strengths?
What does he consider your weaknesses?
Make sure you understand yourself through his eyes and not just yourself, alone.

Right now, everyone has changed again, but there is a big push, and still very much so, for blitzing, pressure defense,
zone blitz, the combination of the two.

We like to make sure that, in our game plan, as we prepare for the week, that we have blitz-breakers in there, that we under-stand the zone-blitz concept and we have things in place to defeat those. So, every week, those things are looked at.

Develop a Plan to Defeat 8- and 9-man fronts: Right now, that is, for us, a big deal: Where is the drop-down safety?
Where do they have him?

You can imagine, most of us who run the zone scheme, get used to sending that full-back, backing the backside out of your I-for-mation. But, yet, that’s not where the drop-down safety is. Maybe he’s on the front side.

How does your scheme handle taking care of that guy? How can we get your extra guy to where you need to be?

So, in our plan, we try to make sure that we have guys that will position themselves, in terms of our preparation, to handle eight-and nine-man fronts.

Develop a Plan for Things You Can’t Practice: Now, I heard coach Paterno talk earlier, and I think, somewhere in there he said, “make sure you don’t do things that you don’t practice.” I think that’s important, and I really agree with him.

But, at the same time, under the present rules that we live with in college, we’ve got, roughly, 20 hours that we can practice. So it is difficult to cover everything that you need to cover.

So, we try to make sure that, in our plan, we have a plan for things that we can’t practice. Case in point would be, as we
went through the season this year, it had always been a part of our program, to practice backed up. You’re down on the three-yard line, and you go through your offensive style of coming out of that area.

Well, as we went through the season, we didn’t have a lot of back-up situations. So, what we did was take back-ups out of practice, which meant now we’re not practicing it, because we had very few opportunities to use it in a football game. But you still have to have a plan for your it.

So, we wanted to make sure that things of that nature that we don’t have the opportunity to practice all the time, that we didn’t forget them during the course of the week, that, during our mental preparation, we prepared ourselves for that.

Develop an Opening Game Script: That is out of the Bill Walsh school and the West Coast Offense and the teaching progression that he had, most people now go to a 12-to-20 play script to start the ball game.

This would be very similar to what he we used for one of our ballgames. I listed nine plays and that was one of our latter ball-games of the year.

And you can notice that the mode is probably top-heavy for us, even, with the run. Because part of our theme, and
against this particular team, was to establish the physicality of our football team in early this ballgame.

So, we had a huge focus in the ball-game on our run portion. And off that, we had a huge portion developed to our play-action passes coming out of that.

So, for us, it was critical to have that progression, 12-play script, match our theme for the week.

The next situation that we wanted to make sure that we had prepared for was our second and short. I list second and
short as a waste down. That’s the down, that second and one, maybe second and two, that you feel like you can afford to take a risk or take a chance.

Well, I say it depends on the game. Second and shorts are not always a risk situation for us. It depends on who we play,
the conditions of the game, field position, and on how we respond to it.

But, as we went through our practice sessions, we like to have that situation some weeks classified as a waste down.

Now, the other part of that is important, because Coach Paterno really hit on some things that I think really fit with what I’m
hoping on giving to you today. He said, or he might have even said “Bear” Bryant said it, “keep your game plan small.”

For us, in the course of a game, we will rarely see more than three, maybe four, at the max, second and short situations. So,
the question then becomes, “how many calls do you need in your game plan for that situation?”

So I said, “limit the number of calls.” And I put “four” here, because we’ll probably have on our game plan only two runs and, maybe, two passes in that situation, other than a special, where we might want to go, in looking at it from a waste-down situation.

The next situation we want to make sure is on our checklist is third and long. That was a very difficult situation for us, simply
because it is very easy in that situation to always be locked in to the pass.

So one of the reminders that we give ourselves is to not always pass. You try to reduce that percentage down to where you force the team to defend some phase of your running game, not just know that they can bring in a nickel-and-dime and not
have to worry about any aspects of the run game.

Third and Medium: We want to make sure that we have those plays, those formations that we think are appropriate to
that situation, hoping to give us an advantage on third and medium.

Sudden Changes: From an offensive standpoint, what we try to prepare for in Sudden Changes is more than just the situation, itself. It’s really the attitude, because, really, there are two opposing attitudes that we feel like we’ve got to deal

One is the defense. Up or down? How do they come on the field? What is their tendency? What is their mode of operation?
Will they come after you? Will they wait till the second down and come after you? Will they play soft? Will they be cautious?
How do they play?

So we try to make sure that, in our thought process of sudden change, we try to account for all those situations, in terms of attitude and mind-set.

Backed Up: As I mentioned before, we took that out of our game plan, in terms of practice, but we never leave that situation unprepared and not have a written plan for it in our paper trail in preparing for the football game.

Short Yardage: If you notice there, I put back in “Second Down” simply because you don’t want to get it as a waste down,
earlier. But there are times that we will look at it only, depending on the game, the team we’re playing, the situation, to get the first down and keep the chains moving, and not use it as a waste down.

But we want to make sure that we’ve got our short yardage offense in place and that we’re well-drilled on it, and that our guys understand exactly what we’re doing in that situation.

Goal Line: I listened to Les Steckel talk a little bit at this convention a couple of years ago. And I picked up something from
him I think he had applied to red zone as well. He gave himself a situation when there was no time on the clock, or what I
call must-win, must-make-a-play situation. One of the things that we’ve done in our goal-line package throughout the season at some point is add one play with no time on the clock. This lets your guys know that the play has to get to the end zone, and not just running your normal goal-line offense or goal-line mentality.

Four-Minute Offense: This is another one of those situations for us that we don’t practice a great deal. We’ve kind of taken it out because of time allotment. But we always stress to our young men all of the intangibles that have to be executed there. Protect the football if you’re on offense. Stay in bounds. Get the ball out-side the hash so we can burn up as much clock as possible with the placement of the ball by the officials. Little things of that nature that give you a chance to take as much time off the clock as possible and put yourself in that win-win situation.

Two-Minute Offense: The execution and the mechanics of it. This is something in our system that, for us, is bigger than just
two-minute executions. We have always used the two-minute as a tempo-setter for our practice. On days that we’re struggling, our guys are not working very well, aren’t moving around very well, I will often change the practice schedule right then and there and go into two-minute. First of all, your defensive linemen, as soon as they hear “two-minute,” what do they think? “Rush the passer! Get up the field! Get going!” Your receivers, what do they think as soon as they hear two-minute? “Okay. Boom! Let’s go. Let’s get off the ball. We’ve got to make plays down the field and step out of bounds, etc.”

So, for us, we love practicing two-minute, because, one, you need it to win football games but also because it gives us an increase in our tempo and can change our whole practice process.

Red Zone Offense: Whatever yard mark you decide, the 20, 25, etc., we want to make sure that we’ve got a great plan for
our Red Zone offense. In looking at the stats from the NFL a couple of years ago, I think they took the top five teams that year that were going to the playoffs. They took the bottom five teams that didn’t make the playoffs, and they compared their Red Zones.

It was amazing that the number of opportunities in the Red Zone were basically the same. What was the difference? The difference was, when in the Red Zone, the teams in the upper playoff category scored a touchdown. The teams in the lower division that did not make the playoffs did not score touchdowns.

So, when I say what’s “important,” it’s important not just to get in the Red Zone, but to score touchdowns. And we want to make sure that we’re doing everything, in terms of our planning, to put us in that position.

Fourth Down Calls: In our system, our coordinators have become accustomed to not having fourth and short calls. How
many times have you been in, say, the plus-30 area and it’s a little too far up for your field goal. Yet, you don’t want to punt,
because you know your punter probably puts it in the end zone, and you’re right back to the 20?

In our system we make sure that, throughout the week, we have some fourth and six, fourth and seven, fourth and eight
calls that we practice. We do that so when we get in those situations in a game, we have a plan.

So we try to make sure, in our system, that we’ve got fourth down calls that are outside of that fourth and short area that
you normally give a call.

Again, kind of borrowing from Les Steckel, we make sure that, in our plans and in our preparation that we prepare for what we call “must-win plays.” These are plays where you’ve got one play in the game and you’ve got to score from that position. We try to make sure that we’ve got, from the plus-40, plus-30, plus-20, plus-10, etc., plays that we are prepared to score with. And our players have the mind-set that is exactly the play that is called for in that situation.

Two-Point Plays: I think everybody has a few of these. There is nothing new there, but it’s something that you have to have to make sure you execute and your kids are on the same page with you.

Our “Specials”: I think some people call them trick plays. I learned something, when I went to Stanford, with Denny Green
in 1989 about creating the right call process and creating the right mentality.

He never called a gadget play, a trick play; he never put that title on ‘em. He said, “Any play we run in our system is designed
to gain four yards. That’s it.” Now, what was so important about that to me was that it created a mind-set on our players’part, that, if the play didn’t gain four yards or it had a loss, nothing was lost. How many times do you see teams that,
when they try a special play, it doesn’t go right and, all of a sudden, there’s an emotional fall?

But, if you tell your team that we’re inter-ested in gaining four yards from every play in your system, then, to them, when you
haven’t made a play in that area, nothing is lost; it’s just another play. They stay on the same emotional level that they play with all the time.

So, we try to make sure that we have that play in there, but we also talk to them along the lines of: ‘This is just a play in our

Base Running Plays: Nothing new there but the things that we put in every week to counter the normal, average fronts,
under, over, bare, etc. We always like to make sure that we’ve got a few draws in our system. And, then, we like to make sure that we list what we call our best runs. And, to us, that’s important, because, sometimes, during the course of a ballgame, there comes a time when you have to get back to what you do best.

Sometimes, as coaches, we can try a lot of things; you can get off in a lot of areas; and you can get away from what is really
important. So, we like to make sure that, in our game plan, we list somewhere “our best runs.”

Base Passing Plays: Our quick passes; what we call our “action passes.” For us, the action pass is play action, but it’s play-action with a focus being on our backs. These are the ones that we’ll probably use in a short-yardage situation, where we fake it to one back and there’s another back in the flat, or do something to get the ball to the back.

Play-Action Passes: We try to make sure that we’re coming off the run action and we try to feature the wide receivers.

Movement Passes: Dashes are popular, sprint-outs are popular, boots are popular in this area. So we try to make sure that
we have that category included in our game plan.

Pass Specials: Fake reverses, throw the pass, halfback pass, things of that nature. Each week, we’ve got those included
in our game plan and we’re prepared to use them.

I’ve always heard some coaches use the theory that, if we can get our special play up first, that we want to do that. We
want to make sure that we show our spe-cial play, our reverse, our halfback pass, first.

Well, what we try to think of is not “first,” but “what is the right time?” What gives it the best chance to be successful?

Screens: These are our blitz-breakers. We were fortunate, I think, in the years at Stanford, that we used what you’d call the
“jailhouse screen,” or the “wide-receiver screen,” and we used those in many cases to eliminate the blitz pressure. When you
get the pressure, the receiver comes down, finds the blocker, you kick out the guards and center to meet up on the safeties, and you have success. In a span of about three or four years, we had about five touchdowns off that play in blitz situations.

Best Pass: Know that pass, one that your quarterback throws well and your receiver runs best. This year we were blessed that one of our best passes was just a simple lob pass. We had a young man from Seattle who was 6’7”, depending on who you talked to, 235-240 pounds and ran pretty well. He played on the Stanford basketball team. What we would do when we got in trouble: We lob the ball to him. The quarterback could throw it, he could catch it, and you’ve got a chance to win and be successful.

So, we wanted to make sure that we always had somewhere in our package our “best pass.”

That coincides with your best player: Make sure that you get the ball in your best player’s hands.

We had a difficult start in this year’s Seattle Bowl. The team didn’t have a lot of energy, they weren’t moving very well. Our
opponent was doing a great job against us. We stopped just for a second and thought to ourselves, “one of our better players had not had his hands on the ball, and we’re going into the mid-point of the second quarter.”

What we did immediately to start getting the energy and get our team moving was find that player’s best pass and get him the
ball. It seemed to be just an easy, simple throw. We threw just a three-quick-step hitch to one of our wide receivers. He takes it, boom, scoots for 15 yards. Now he’s in the game, and we start getting some energy and come back with just
a little one-step, quick screen to him, one-man screen. Boom, he takes off, another 12 yards!

Make sure you don’t forget in your game plan to have plays for your best player.

Defensively : We’ve done the same thing. So, you can almost take the chart that we’ve given you and just flip it as we go
through it.
Create a Theme for the Week: Work to your strength, identify, defend and attack personnel. If they have a guard that’s weak, how you can get your best player on them and attack their personnel.

Study Yourself-Scout Through the Eyes of the Opponent: The same thing that we talked about on offense, we want to
know how their offense views our defense. What is it that they see that we don’t see?

Develop a Plan to Defeat Their Favorite Runs and Passes: A case in point is, most teams, at times, have had problems defending the counter.

Try to Define, Try to Defend, Try to Identify: What is the best way to play the counter? Do you have your defensive player
take it on, inside shoulder, have the play continue downhill, and you have him cross-facing, force it to bubble.

But one of the things that we like to make sure of, when we’re preparing for those favorite plays, is that we understand
the nature of the play. What does the back like to do best? What’s the team like? Do they like for this particular runner to be a downhill runner? If he wants to be a downhill runner, then you want to force him to bubble. Maybe he doesn’t bubble well. Force him to do some-thing that he doesn’t do. If he likes to bubble and bounce, then we’ll take it straight on, make him a downhill runner, keep him inside where we can defend him. But we want to make sure that we develop a plan to defeat their favorite runs and favorite passes.

Have Adjustments vs. Unique Formation and Personnel Groups: So much of that falls on the shoulders of your secondary coach. He’s got to make sure he’s got all the adjustments in place that don’t leave any open gaps or a man running free. The defense has to adjust to formations, to make sure we have all our gap
responsibilities taken care of. Awareness to the Style of Offense: Do we need special things in because this team is different?

What do they bring to the table a little bit different?

Suppose we’re playing the option team. How does that affect us? How does it affect our practice plan? In the past we’ve had an extra period of practice where we can work on the option. Take in the first offense, let them run the option.
But make sure that we’ve got a plan in the works on the style of offense that we’re going to face.

Defend Their Best Players: I think that goes without saying. Who is it that you have to take away? Whether it’s in the
passing game or the running game, how do you do it? Defend their best players.

Second and Short: What is their philosophy? Will this offense waste this down anytime they have second and short? Will
they be conservative? How do we play it? Have a plan for it.

Third Down and Long: What do they like to go to? What are their personnel substitutions? How do we match up? What gives us the best chance?
Third Down and Medium and Third Down and Short: How do we want to play it? What is our plan?

Sudden Change: On defense, we say, “It’s all attitude.” How Do We Walk on the Field? Be Aggressive. Stop and Take Away a Great Momentum for Them.

Backed Up: Have a plan for that.

Short Yardage again.

Goal-line Defense.

Four-minute Defense: Get your guys to understand that we need the ball back. Let’s strip it. But, at the same time, don’t give ‘em a score. We were playing Washington this year, up in Seattle. They go up, we come down. Time’s running out on the clock. We need to take it away. Unfortunately, in our aggressiveness, we gave them a final score, which now eliminated any chance we could of winning the football game. So you want to make sure your players understand that situation, you have to take away from, the offense.

Two-Minute Defense: I put “Prevent” there because, usually, the rule of thumb is that the prevent defense can prevent you
from winning.

What is your plan there? Will you be aggressive? Will you be more like your base defense? How much time is on the clock? What can you take away?

Red Zone Defense: Do we get aggressive when we get in the Red Zone? How will we change. What do we do? Give it
plenty of thought to make sure you’re prepared.

Fourth Down Defense: We added that one. We think fourth and five, fourth and six, fourth and 10. An offense will try to take advantage of that situation because they don’t want to do different things. Or it could be they exhausted all their
chances and they’re trying to make that last-ditch effort.

Identifying Must-Win Plays: Again, going back to what I picked up from Les Steckel, make sure the defense is thinking like the offense does. The plays they need to win the game, and the plays we have to defend.

Two-Point Play.

Special Plays: With some teams there are certain plays you know they have in their game plan every week. They may
change the personnel and how they do it. They may run the reverse with a different guy. But it’s going to be there. How do you play it?
Have your guys prepare:
• Base Runs.
• Draws.
• Best Run or Runs.
• Base Passes.
• Quick Passes.
• Action Passes.
• Play-Action Movement.
•Special Screens.

Protection-Breakers: A couple of key points that we like to make sure every week that we think about, in terrms of special

Kickoff : We were watching a high school all-star game played here, I think it was last weekend, and they used a semi-pooch kick, I think. It was kicked along the right side, and would’ve been caught by what we would identify as our four, where the kicker just pooched it right over the front line about 15, 20 yards back. The player runs down the field, catches it. Great play!

We want to make sure that we have a lot of kicks in and things that we think we can execute.

Alignment: We want to make sure that we understand the alignment of the return team. That allows us to determine what
those kicks might be. Where do we want to place it?

Blocking Scheme: How would they block it in a zone-blocking scheme, in a man-blocking scheme? Do they like to wedge?

We need to know those things and make sure we understand them, for our special teams kickoff coverage to be effective.
That brings us to our coverage. What will we do? Will we loop a guy? Will we take a guy out? Will we work to our quick side? Work to our strong side?

Specials On Return Coverage: What type of coverage? What blocking scheme will we need for that coverage? Is there a
special guy who we have to defend? Is there someone we have to put two guys on?

What Type of Kick: I’ve got a lot of bad memories in Seattle, but I can remember being there. We were winning the game,
they scored to tie the game. They had a tremendous kicker. We practiced all week, because we knew one of the kicks that they love was a high pooch back to our fullback. Our fullback calls for a fair-catch and drops it!

All the practice that we’ve done preparing for the different types of kicks we would get still didn’t help us in that situation. But
you still have to prepare for them. You have to have them in place. Make sure your special is based on what they give you. Is this a team that we could run a reverse on? Is this a team that we can run a special scheme on, something different that allows us to have the advantage?


Their Rush: Where do they come from? Are they a rush team? Do they like to hold up?

Our Protection: Are there special things we can do? Can we take our up-back and have him block to a special guy, release him, different things.

Coverage: Specials that we can run. Can we run the trap? Can we have our kicker keep it? Can we go to pass on it?

Punt Return: Very much the same. Their protection: How can we attack it?

The rush.

Our returns.

Any specials we can use.

Field Goal/Extra Point: Very much the same.

Protection: Their Rush, Specials.

In closing, I think Coach Paterno, in all his years of coaching has done something I can at least try to continue to do, and that
is to be very thankful for the opportunity to be a coach.

I really look at the time that we’re coaching here as the greatest opportunity to coach. I am a little bit different than a lot of
people because I think I can see opportunity in everything.

And I kind of reflect back to the events of September 11th, which was a very tragic day in this country. But I looked at
it just a little bit different. I thought that day was a great opportunity for this country to assume a better and bigger role in
world leadership.

As a football coach, I look at it as an opportunity to create the young men that will be the kind of leaders that we need to
lead us through the very difficult situation, the very difficult times of that kind of crisis.

I think there is nothing like the game of football. Absolutely nothing like it. I think nothing else can capture the American imagination, the American heart.

Nothing does it better. So, I am honored to be a coach.

Even though, for many of you, this checklist may be redundant, but isn’t it the repetition of doing things over and over and
over that makes a great player and makes a great team?

So, I’m thankful for the opportunity, and I hope my checklist, the checklist that we use every week, will help all of you as it
helps us. Thank you.

Visit the new Zennie62.com

Google Analytics Alternative