Tag Archives: College Football

Can we teach sports journalists to care? I think so

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 12.25.36 PMSports journalists are tasked with considerably more than Xs and Os.

We cover everything from labor strife to domestic violence, sexual violence to racial tensions.

But, like most in our audience, we seem to forget about the ramifications of these big, cultural issues as soon as the game starts, or as quickly as another topic catches our attention.

I think one of the biggest challenges of sports journalism educators is to literally “train” students to care and to show it in their work.

My column, published on PBS MediaShift, discusses how I think we can do this.

Latest scandal should wake us up

“The Lead” on ESPN’s crawl Sunday morning during SportsCenter highlighted LSU’s narrow win over Alabama in the rare No. 1-vs.-No.2 showdown. Then it noted that No. 3 Oklahoma State barely held on to beat Kansas State. It mentioned that Oklahoma beat Texas A&M but lost the nation’s top receiver to an ACL tear and it mentioned that the NBA Lockout is in its 129th day.

Much like a fumbled snap, the Worldwide Leader dropped the ball.

The biggest story in college football got swept under the rug because Saturday’s lights need to be shined elsewhere. The most tragic kind of scandal was ignored Saturday because the money-making machine that is young men grinding on grass was running at full steam.

Swept under the rug. Ignored.

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Miami scandal exposes the NCAA as much as the ‘Canes

Photo montage from Yahoo! Sports

The time has come for serious reform in big-time college football.

As a matter of fact, the time came and went in 1985 in Dallas, Texas. The time came again in 1989 in Norman, Okla. And again in 2004 in Boulder, Colo., again in Los Angeles a year later, again in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Columbus, Ohio over the last year. (And this doesn’t even consider the Dexter Manleys, the Tony Mandariches, the recruiting hostesses, etc.)

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Plain & simply: Good luck, Jake

Locker in 2005 (Bruce Kellman/The News Tribune file)

The first time I ever came in contact with Jake Locker was on the rippled carpet on the floor of the Tacoma Dome after Bellevue High defeated Ferndale in the 3A Washington State Championship game.

I don’t think anyone ever doubted the greatness that would come to the gracious young man, even as he walked away in defeat that evening.

Tonight, Locker and his family and friends will wait to hear when his name, uttered by NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell. Once his name comes off Gooddell’s lips, visions of riches, fame and glory will dance through the minds of his fans. Continue reading

Pryor, Buckeyes thoroughly impress

Call it a humbling experience for me, er, I mean, the Oregon Ducks. Despite being slight favorites and boasting a nifty offense with startling speed, Oregon succumbed to an Ohio State team I thought didn’t have a prayer.

I was dead wrong… and that fact made my season-long rant look pretty arrogant and, well, stupid.

Terrelle Pryor will be a Heisman Trophy candidate next season -- if coach Jim Tressel lets him. (Getty Images)

Two things happened to the Ducks this New Year’s Day: 1.) Jim Tressel, 2.) Terrelle Pryor.

Let’s start with Tressel. Tressel is conservative, predictable and relatively boring. Today, he was none of the above. His defense wasn’t simply disciplined, it did some interesting things and the guy who looks like he should be in his fourth or fifth year in the NFL (Worthington, I think?) was freakin’ awesome. Ohio State’s staunch defense harassed not only the Oregon quarterback, but its receivers at the line of scrimmage.

The offense was anything but predictable. Tressel let Pryor loose — finally. Finally, Pryor wasn’t just in it to hand the ball off and serve as a decoy. Tressel’s offense today was centered around Pryor. And Pryor responded. He looked Rothlisberger-esque the way he shook off defenders. He looked like a beast running the ball, a master throwing the ball, and he had great chemistry with his receivers. Tressel took off the restraints, put some trust in his sophomore signal caller and, in doing so, unveiled a 2010 Heisman candidate.

Oregon was the team that looked predictable. The read-option that Jeremiah Masoli operated so well this year was pretty darn stale, especially when Masoli hardly ever took the ball himself. Ed Dickson disappeared in a scarlet and grey mass at the line of scrimmage.

Wildcats quarterback Mike Kafka fell in defeat, but had a monster day. (Getty Images)

The Big Ten looked great today — even in its Outback Bowl loss. (Hats off to Mike Kafka… Too bad Northwestern couldn’t pull that off, but with three chances at the end, it really should have.)

The Pac-10 went 2-4 in bowl games this season. USC looked damn good in its bowl (as usual.) There isn’t much shame in losing to BYU or Utah, and I think Stanford did a hell of a job with a backup quarterback. But Arizona and Oregon really, really disappointed.

So, being so impressed with Ohio State and Penn State — and Northwestern — I hereby promise not to needlessly rip the Big Ten for the entire offseason and for the 2010 season.

However, I will still rant about a couple things: All 11 teams need to play each other. The conference doesn’t need another team, it just needs for each team to play all 10 teams. (Doesn’t that seem obvious?) And a little more competition and few fewer MAC or I-AA targets would be nice on the preseason schedule, too. (I love that Penn State actually travels to Alabama in ’10, and that OSU hosts Miami — even if all four of its preseason games are at home.) And, ff Tressel ball-and-chains Pryor next season, I’m allowed to bitch about that, too — as should everyone Columbus!

But, aside from those points, I’m silenced. Good, innovative play does that.

Blair, Beer & Football: What else is there?

It has been several days since I last blogged, as kindly pointed out by my dear friend Dana, but I have been spending quite a bit of time last week babysitting Blair. Mary is doing her training for her new job in Athens and my mom had several meetings/appointments and also had to be out at her school getting ready for the year to begin. (She teaches fifth grade and school starts -GULP- Monday for her.)

So, it has been The Aunt Molly & Little Blair Show! Blair is amazingly behaved, cute as a button and has a great little personality on her. She turned nine months old last week and really is just about a perfect toddler. But here is where I give out the kudos — to single parents, stay-at-home parents and anyone who makes a living caring for little ones — because it’s exhausting! Even with Blair, who can play by herself for extended periods of time. I’m hawking over the poor kid, watching every move trying to ensure she is safe, healthy and not doing anything too ridiculous (like licking shoes; you can’t prevent all of it, I tell you!) Even when she is napping, I am listening for her.

Blair doing her "funny" laugh while I take her picture. (The "funny" laugh is when she sniffs in and out instead of really laughing!)

Blair doing her "funny" laugh while I take her picture. (The "funny" laugh is when she sniffs in and out instead of really laughing!)

But, really, BIG DEAL. I’m teaching her how to high-five. (We’re getting it!) I take her to store and she waves to people and laughs. She does those funny, baby open-mouthed “kisses.” She laughs at goofy things you do, then makes this funny little growling noise when she’s trying to get YOU to laugh at her. She’s just a riot.

So, that takes up most of my day, but it’s more of an explanation than an excuse. I’m so thankful for this time with her. It is one of the only reasons I am actually happy I lost my job. Right now, I’d be in Seattle getting ready to go to a scrimmage at Husky Stadium, covering camp and preparing for Sept. 5 when UW hosts LSU. I’d think about Blair in passing, smile when Mary would send me photos. I wouldn’t be in her life at all. Instead, she smiles when I walk in a room. How cool is that

So, I babysit Blair in the day time. Why couldn’t I blog a little in the evening, right? Well… that’d be because of beer and football.

My parents’ favorite place in Athens is the Maplewood, a little dive bar on E. State St. that has really cold, cheap beers and decent salads. (And pretty damn good wings, too, I found out!)

On Thursday night, the Yanity clan congregated at the Maplewood while a massive thunderstorm rolled through. A friend of mine from high school also met us. I haven’t seen Beth Tyre since early college, I believe, and she was in town with her two small children as she moves from Columbus to Memphis, Tenn.

Catching up like that can be awkward because of coruse you’re leaving out major stuff, but I didn’t think it was awkaward at all with Beth. We had a really good time, hit the big stuff and related to some things. She recently accepted a buyout from Honda, a company for which she had worked for a long time, and we kind of “got” each other on leaving (her case)/losing (mine) jobs we loved. So, we had some beers and reminisced and I probably should have let her drive me home, but I ended up at BW3’s with Jason Kelly (see below) and watched football highlights.

That brings me to football…

It’s late August. College football is a mere two weeks from starting and NFL preseason games are in full swing. If you aren’t into sports, here’s where to stop reading for the day; tomorrow I’ll write about how I still don’t have a class to teach, how I’m heading to Seattle Thursday for a quick visit, blah, blah. But I have FOOTBALL ON THE BRAIN… so, if you do, too, read on!

Ohio University’s football team held a scrimmage today and I attended. Jason Kelly, an assistant athletic director and good friend of my parents’, told me he thought the Bobcats were, surprisingly enough (his words) going to be “pretty good.” (He did leave the “if they stay healthy” clause open.) Well, our friend Jason may be drinking the green Kool-Aid.

In a scrimmage, you look for the little things, because one side may look awful, which might just mean the other side is doing well. The Bobcats’ offense messed up all the little things. I watched them false start on manageable third downs. I watched them drop passes, run wrong routes and run the option to perfect imperfection. (In other words, they never got that right.) I watched the special teams fumble and lose two of four punts (and couldn’t help but think of last year’s Ohio State game.) It’s hard to say if the offensive line and talent positions were just poor, or if the defensive line dominated them that much, but it was easy to see the little things not getting done. The ‘Cats have a big defensive tackle I liked. Their cornerbacks were legit and there was a long, lean middle linebacker who looked too small for the position, but was tough as hell. Theo Scott and Boo Jackson were supposed to compete for the starting job, but Jackson hurt his shoulder and didn’t play at all. I’d say Scott has the job wrapped up — and may have had it regardless of the injury.  And I know the defense is typically ahead of the offense, but I’d be a bit woried if I was Frank Solich. If the offense gets more disciplined, the defense just might be able to carry them to respectability, but I didn’t see that today.

I voted in the AP poll the last two seasons, so I couldn’t wait to see the preseason poll, which was released today. Florida is a runaway No. 1 and for good reason. They would have been my No. 1, but I made a conscious decision after my first preseason poll to simply use the final poll from the year prior as the preseason poll. Right or wrong, it’s the only way that makes sense to me to do it. Otherwise it is all pure speculation. Anyway… I’ve defended that for more than a year and am done, so… my the biggest source of ire for me is Notre Dame at No. 23.

With no offense to be taken by my dear friend Molly Riestenberg, Notre Dame has no more business being ranked than the Bobcats. And I don’t even want to hear about their convincing win in the Hawaii Bowl. The worst part about the Irish being in the Top 25 AT ALL (which they shouldn’t be) is they will only rise, they will make some good (lucrative) bowl game and if they are playing any BCS team that finished in the top half of its conference, they’ll get blown the hell out. Why? Because they play Nevada, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Washington, Washington State, Navy, UConn and Stanford with sure-bet losses to USC, Boston College and Pitt sandwiched in between. That has got to be the easiest schedule of any big-time football program this year. Notre Dame will likely win eight of those games to go 8-4. Hell, Jimmy Clausen for Heisman! Unbelievable.

Ohio State and Penn State are grossly overrated — again — though Ohio State might actually break into 21st century football with Terrelle Pryor throwing, and running, the rock. Virginia Tech at No. 7 is a stretch without Darren Evans, and I think Cal will end up being a top-10 team, though that Minnesota game in Week 3 has to look a little scary.

QUICK NFL OBSERVATIONS: Boy, Tavaris Jackson looked good last night for the Vikings. Haha! I can’t help it. Who went 1-for-4 with four yards and looked like he has been practicing with high schoolers? Yeah, whathisname? Hm.

* The new Shrine to Jerry Jones, er, Texas Stadium was impressive. (Wonder if Jones has ever heard of Freud?) The videoboards were ridiculously ostentatious and kind of defeat the purpose of going to a game.

* I got my tickets to the Oct. 25 Vikings-Steelers game in Pittsburgh. I can’t wait! (And, no, I’m not worried about Roethlisberger’s Achilles or accuser.) Going with Jennell, the biggest Vikes’ fan I know. Should be a BLAST! The Steelers play the Redskins tonight… I’ll watch for a little bit.

*Sucks being Brandon Marshall. Sucks even worse being Kyle Orton.

* I’ve lived in Seattle for more than a decade and never been a ‘Hawks’ fan, but I might have started to this year. My friend Lisa is marrying Patrick Kearney, and I don’t see how can dislike a team that drafts guys like Max Unger, Owen Schmitt, Joe Newton, etc. These are just good, tough, hard-assed players. … Quick shoutout: Go Mike Sando!

* The first of my three Fantasy Football drafts is Monday. I have the second pick in a keep league. Hmmm… 🙂