Sunday, January 30, 2011

Interesting Football week approaching: National Signing Day on Wednesday, with Super Bowl XLV on Sunday

The Class of 2011 will see many sign on the dotted line on Wednesday. Unlike college basketball, there isn't an early signing period in college football. Players who are eligible for January term from junior colleges or graduating early from high school can sign in December or prior to enrollment, but Wednesday is huge in the College Football world with National Signing Day.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 30Th in Hawaii. For the second season, the Pro Bowl is now played the Sunday ahead of the Super Bowl. The NFL typically makes good moves and moving the Pro Bowl, within the window of the season was another example of a good move by the NFL.

Super Bowl XLV should be a great match up, spotlighting two of the better franchises in NFL history.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (7-1 in Super Bowl history, the all-time winning franchise)

  • Green Bay Packers (3-1 in Super Bowl history and winners of the first two games)

It should be a good week for those who enjoy football. There will be some joys and some likely sorrows, as players sign with various colleges throughout the NCAA and the biggest football game of the year is played in Arlington, Texas. The Super Bowl has something for everyone ...

  • Football
  • Commercials
  • Food
  • A gathering with friends and family
  • Music - Black Eyed Peas will be the halftime show
  • Fill in the blank

The only thing missing is a national holiday, after all, the Super Bowl is America's Game!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Iowa Football '11: Unlucky 13 strikes in unusual fashion for the Hawkeyes

What a week for Iowa Football, beginning Monday, January 25, with word of 12, later 13 players being hospitalized for Rhabdomyolysis brought on by off-season workouts, as the Hawkeyes enter year 13 of the Kirk Ferentz era at the University of Iowa, as head coach.

What a way to begin Year 13 for the Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa!

That disturbed me more than anything. Just knowing those guys,
those are not the kind of guys who do that sort of thing. The fact that that was
the first conclusion that anyone jumped to, I don’t think it was fair to those
guys to be quite honest with you
." - Julian Vandevelde, departing
senior offensive guard on the speculation of drugs

Some in the National Media have been ahead of the story with speculation and attacks. There is no question that this is a rare occurrence, but the University of Iowa isn't the first. In collegiate circles, the University of South Carolina had seven swimmers stricken by Rhabdomyolysis as they began preseason workouts in 2007. With an event like this, the University of Iowa was going to investigate into the facts leading to 13 players requiring hospitalization.

"Dr. John Graves, a staff physician in the division of hypertension and
internal medicine at the
MayoClinic in Rochester, Minn., said doctors at University of Iowa Hospitals should look at non training factors." - USA Today

Unusual case at Iowa puts focus on muscle disorder - USA Today
Rhabdomyolysis isn't a word that rolls off the tongue, but the hospitalization of 13 Iowa football players and the strenuous workouts that likely triggered their condition have shed a spotlight on its damaging effects ...

Iowa players test negative for illegal drugs - ESPN (blog) - Adam Rittenberg
My apologies for not posting this sooner, but the Sporting News' Dave Curtis reports from Iowa City tonight that the 13 Iowa football ...

This is typically a time of the year in College Football where coaching staffs are focused on recruiting and are on the road in preparation for National Signing Day, which is always the first Wednesday in February. Further, strength and conditioning staffs are typically beginning the preparation for the 2011 with the players with off-season workouts on campuses throughout the FBS. It appears this story will shed more details on what goes on in off-season workouts, through the investigation that will be conducted by the state Board of Regents.
  • Ferentz on Monday was on the road recruiting, when he learned that players had been hospitalized
  • Off-season conditioning is conducted by five strength & conditioning coaches at Iowa
  • Football staffs, under NCAA rules, are not allowed to participate in off-season workouts
  • Ferentz continued on the road recruiting through Wednesday, in communication by telephone with players and parents
  • The University of Iowa conducted a press conference on Wednesday, regarding the 13 hospitalized players
  • Ferentz was back in Iowa Wednesday, after the press conference
  • On Thursday, Ferentz meet with the hospitalized players and the players parents
  • On Friday, Ferentz issued his first public comments, with the announcement that five players have been discharged from the hospital
  • Ferentz is scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday, National Signing Day
Faith DiBona first heard the news Monday that her son Shane was one of 13 Iowa football players hospitalized with rhabdomyolisis, a disorder in which muscles begin to deteriorate, possibly as a result of extensive overexertion ...

Iowa's strength and conditioning program is lead by Chris Doyle, who is entering his 13Th season along side Ferentz. Doyle is highly respected by many in college football, the NFL and high school ranks. Like Iowa LB Shane DiBona, who just completed his redshirt freshman season, Doyle grew up in the Boston area.
“He’s one of the most respected strength coaches in the
country. I know Chris. He does an unbelievable job. He loves what he does. He
loves those kids. He pushed them hard. Whether this workout was too intense or
something went wrong, it’s a shame."
- David Maimaron, DiBona's high school
Iowa football player Shane DiBona of Duxbury expected to be released from hospital -
DiBona one of 13 Iowa players treated after offseason workout ...
The workout performed by the 13 Iowa players before their hospitalization this week was considered so routine it was a "shoulder shrug" to some Hawkeyes, according to NFL agent Jack Bechta ...

Eight more players remain in the hospital and there recovery and release certainly remains an important story. The investigation into the reasons that lead to the hospitalization of 13 players is to be concluded in less than 90 days.

Information doesn't always flow fast enough in our 15 second sound bite world we see in America today. The 13 players impacted by this developing story apparently range from a walk-on to a possible all-Big Ten player. First year players to fourth year players in the Iowa program, even sons of NFL and high school coaches.

Some in the media want to play on the emotions of the parents. However, the key elements of this story are found in the facts. Some in the Media want access and facts know. However, facts aren't always accessible immediately.

Jumping to conclusions doesn't help the matter. Time, patience and an honest investigation of the facts will hopefully shed light on the causes leading up to the hospitalizations and a better understanding of how to prevent future occurrences. Accountability is always required, but a knee jerk reaction isn't justified either.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The 2010 season is in the books; time for a final Top 25 rankings in College Football

We saw some outstanding football in 2010, with Auburn and TCU finishing the season undefeated, with wins in the BCS title game and the Rose Bowl, respectively. We witnessed a variety of conferences inviting new programs in, highlighted by Nebraska leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten and Colorado headed to the Pac 10, along with Utah from the Mountain West.

How should the Final Top 25 look for the 2010 season? 2010-11 Bowl Results
Here's my CidSports final Top 25 in College Football for 2010:

  1. Auburn Tigers (14-0, 8-0 SEC West) - Only in his second season as head coach Gene Chizik winsthe BCS Title, behind Heisman Trophy winner and junior QB Cam Newton. BCS Title Game: Auburn 22 Oregon 19 ...

  2. TCU Horned Frogs (13-0, 8-0 MWC) - In coach Gary Patterson's tenth season at the helm, the Horned Frogs capture a win in the Rose and their first BCS bowl win in the modern era. Rose Bowl: TCU 21, Wisconsin 19 ...

  3. Oregon Ducks (12-1, 9-0 Pac Ten)

  4. Stanford Cardinal (12-1, 8-1 Pac 10)

  5. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1, 7-1 Big Ten)

  6. Oklahoma Sooners (12-2, 6-2 Big 12 South)/div>

  7. Wisconsin Badgers (11-2, 7-1 Big Ten)

  8. Boise State Broncos (12-1, 7-1 WAC)

  9. LSU Tigers (11-2, 6-2 SEC West)

  10. Alabama Crimson Tide (10-3, 5-3 SEC West)

  11. Arkansas Razorbacks (10-3, 6-2 SEC West)

  12. Nevada Wolf Pack (13-1, 7-1 WAC)

  13. Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-2, 6-2 Big 12 South)

  14. Michigan State Spartans (11-2, 7-1 Big Ten)

  15. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-3, 8-0 ACC Coastal)

  16. Florida State Seminoles (10-4, 6-2 ACC Atlantic)

  17. Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-4, 4-4 SEC West)

  18. Missouri Tigers (10-3, 6-2 Big 12 North)

  19. Texas A&M Aggies (9-4, 6-2 Big 12 South)

  20. Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-4, 6-2 Big 12 North)

  21. Utah Utes (10-3, 7-1 MWC)

  22. South Carolina Gamecocks (9-5, 5-3 SEC West)

  23. Central Florida Knights (11-3, 7-1 C-USA)

  24. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (10-3, 6-2 C-USA)

  25. North Carolina State Wolfpack (9-4, 5-3 ACC)


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year 2011: Rough Start for the Big Ten Conference

After winning two bowl games in 2010 to close out the year, the Big Ten goes 0-5 to open the New Year. It's not been a strong beginning to 2011 for the Big Ten Conference.

The Big Ten is now 2-5 heading into the Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Arkansas, on Tuesday night. Will the Buckeyes reverse history? The Buckeyes have never beat a SEC team in a bowl.

Looking at the match ups, had the Big Ten 0-8 for the 2010-11 bowl line up. The Big Ten were considered underdogs in all eight games.

In the first two Big Ten-Big 12 games, Iowa and Illinois took care of business knocking off Top 15 Missouri and Baylor, respectively. Iowa was coming off a three game losing streak in November, while coach Ron Zook picked up his first bowl win, in six seasons in Champaign.

Northwestern faced Texas Tech on New Year's Day for the third Big Ten-Big 12 match up. The Wildcats entered the game, bowl eligible, but without the quarterback that got them there. QB Dan Persa's season came to an end on the final play that gave Northwestern a win over Iowa in Game 10 for the Wildcats. It was an ugly New Years Day for the Wildcats, but they made it respectable, 38-45, to Texas Tech, without Persa, the teams #1 weapon.

The real loss for the Big Ten was in the BCS game, where Wisconsin fell to a very solid TCU team in the Rose Bowl 19-21. TCU was clearly the better coached team. Further, is there any question that QB Andy Dalton wasn't the best QB on the field, in comparison to Wisconsin's QB Scott Tolzien? Why did Badger coach Bret Bielema move away from the bread and butter in the Rose Bowl? Wisconsin OC Paul Chryst went away from inside running and on the two point conversation, used the shotgun to the amazement of everyone.

TCU is a Top 3 team this season, without a doubt. There is a reason why the Horned Frogs coach, Gary Patterson, has avoided invitations from BCS programs for a job. Now, TCU will move to the Big East in 2012.

In the NCAA Basketball Tournament, guard play is so important. For Football ...

We witnessed how important quarterback play is in College Football on New Year's Day with the losses Wisconsin and Penn State had. The difference in the Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. Florida, came down to Penn State's charitable quarterback and special teams. Penn State Sophomore QB Matt McGloin didn't get it done for 84 year old head coach Joe Paterno. Congratulations to Florida Gator head coach Urban Meyer, who retired at age 46, after the Gators 37-24 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.

Quarterback play is very important in bowl games. Simply, it's important in any football game. There is a reason ESPN is dedicating 2011 to the quarterback.

A quarterback doesn't necessarily have to win a game. Wisconsin certainly could have pounded the football and beat TCU in the Rose Bowl. But, a quarterback can hurt you, if they turn the ball over and put their team in poor positions.

We saw how important QB play can be in the Insight Bowl, with both Iowa's Ricky Stanzi and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. Also, it is important to have more than just a quarterback, as we saw with Michigan in 2010. By the way, Mississippi State is a Top 25 program. Michigan isn't. They went 7-6 this season, beat Big East champion, UConn, but outside of super sophomore QB Denard Robinson, the Wolverines have one of the most dysfunctional defenses, playing a 4-2-5, that has been witnessed in the modern era in major college football.

The Big Ten had a very good season, but far from a great one. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State finished 7-1 in the Big Ten.

  • Ohio State wasn't a dominant BCS Title Game candidate this past season.

  • Wisconsin was hot-cold, depending on the mood of their coaching staff.

  • Michigan State benefited from schedule, but clearly Iowa and Alabama (Capital One Bowl) found ways to exploit the Spartans.
The Big Ten begins a new decade in 2011, with 12 members and a need to pick it up a notch, again. This fall, we will welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers as the 12Th member.

Some thoughts and resolutions for the New Year ...

  • Ohio State remains the program to beat, since 2005, in the Big Ten. However, the program has some questions off the field and it would be nice to see the Buckeyes clean up things, both on and off the field. Will Tressel and the Ohio State program finally beat a SEC team in a bowl, with the Sugar Bowl game on Tuesday, for the first time in school history?

  • The Big Ten West (Legends, if you listen to the conference) appears wide open heading into 2011. Only Iowa won a bowl game. The Hawkeyes have won three straight bowl games for the first time in Hawkeye football history. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is 6-3 in bowls, 3-1 vs. SEC schools, 2-1 vs. Big 12, 0-1 vs. Pac Ten. The Hawkeyes have two co-Big Ten titles under Ferentz ('02 and '04), when will number three come and Iowa's next Rose Bowl trip, since 1991?

  • Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio will enter his fifth season in East Lansing as head coach in 2011. The Spartans have not won a bowl game in a decade now. The Spartans did win a share of the Big Ten for the first time in 20 years, however, the 7-49 loss to Alabama in the Capital One Bowl on New Years Day was ugly, but not surprising. Alabama was supposed to defend its BCS title and be in the BCS mix this past season.

  • Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is now 2-3 in bowl games, after replacing Barry Alvarez, who lead UW to three Rose Bowl wins. Wisconsin won a share of the Big Ten title for the first time in over 10 seasons. Next up: division play for Big Ten teams, including the Badgers, who will play in the Big Ten East (Leaders, if you listen to the conference).

  • Penn State will welcome 84 year-old Joe Paterno for a remarkable 46Th season in 2011. The Nittany Lions are young, but they will have to replace nine senior starters on offense and seven on defense, along with place kicker and holder heading into 2011. The Nittany Lions had a trio of three young QBs this season, but now two appear set to transfer leaving junior to be Matt McGloin remaining, coming off five INTs vs. Florida in Outback Bowl, ouch!

  • Michigan football has fallen on bad times over the past three seasons. The Wolverines did go 7-6 and get back to a bowl game, after a two year absence. But, the coach Rich Rodriquez experiment has turned into a mistake. Lloyd Carr maybe wasn't getting it done, but he was a better representative for one of the best programs in college football history. What's next for the Michigan AD? Jim Harbaugh isn't the likely answer or option?

  • Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald will begin his sixth season in 2011. The Wildcats have gone to three straight bowl games, which is a school record. The school only has one bowl victory ever (1949 Rose Bowl, 1-7 overall). It should be very interesting to see Northwestern in division play, joining others in the Big Ten West.

  • Illinois coach Ron Zook saved his job this season and will enter his seventh season in Champaign in 2011. Zook is the only current Big Ten coach with division play experience, after three seasons in the SEC East at Florida, as head coach. Zook has never coached his team in a conference title game though. Next up: closing out the Class of 2011 recruiting and the Big Ten East.

  • Purdue coach Danny Hope will enter year three in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers will resume a rivalry with the Iowa Hawkeyes in the new Big Ten division schedule format, as the designated rival. Look for Hope to continue the rebuilding process and like other coaches in the past, becoming bowl eligible in year three.

  • Indiana will begin a new era of Hoosier football under a new head coach in 2011. Kevin Wilson is coming back to the Big Ten as a head coach this time, after the Hoosiers make the call for the Oklahoma OC. There is new excitement again in Bloomington. Wilson hired Nebraska's current LB coach, as his DC.

  • Minnesota will open its third season in TCF Bank Stadium with a new head coach. The Golden Gophers hired Northern Illinois head coach Jerry Kill to lead Minnesota into 2011. Will excitement come back to a dormant program, with a rich football history over 50 years ago?

  • Finally, Nebraska heads to the Big Ten in 2011 and will represent the West. Not since Penn State, when they arrived from the East in 1993, does the conference add a new member. Head coach Bo Pelini is coming off two straight Big 12 division titles, but no conference titles or BCS games, in three seasons. How far will the Huskers go in 2011?