Campus Pressbox 63 | Talking Pac-12 Football And So Much More

It's tougher to win at some schools as opposed to others. Sometimes it's due to tradition and other times it's due to academic standards. Even if your school has tough academic entrance requirements, it's still possible to win at a consistent level. Schools like Stanford don't want to hear the excuses.

Who will replace Nick Saban when he leaves Alabama? That's a big question. Will it be an established head coach or will it be an up and coming young coach? Don't worry, Alabama fans. Saban probably isn't going anywhere for the next 3-5 years. But it's fun to talk about.

The entire point of recording this podcast was to talk about Pac-12 football. But as is the case when Damien (@damienbowman) and Seth (@sethmerenbloom) fire up the microphones, tangents are found and fun is had by all. The Pac-12 was discussed though. Damien likes the popular picks to win the divisions. Seth believes we're going to see a couple of surprises in the Pac-12 championship game. Seth did earn some extra credit since he knew who the new coach at California is without looking it up.

And somehow we found ourselves talking about the monetary worth of the country's politicians. How? Who knows! One thing is for certain. Money in politics has always been a key influencer. Politics is a rich person's game.

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On ESPN, Layoffs, and Life’s Lessons…

Yesterday, ESPN laid off a bunch of people you’ve heard of. For those people who lost their job, yesterday is likely the worst day in their professional lives. Nothing is worse than being let go of a job with likely great pay and benefits and the chance to work with some of the best people in your industry. The unfortunate truth is that the same could happen to any of us anytime at our place of employment. I’ve spent time on both sides of buyouts and layoffs – involuntary separation in corporate speak – and I can tell you it isn’t fun for anyone. I’ve had people threaten me, my family and promise they’ll harm themselves or other people.

This will sound harsh, but the reality is, the day of your termination is the best day of your life.

Being let go gives you another chance at life – personally and professionally – and allows you to put everything into perspective. It reminds you that friends and family are more important than the paycheck you receive and how long you likely been living high on the hog.

A few things about losing your job, or something to think about if you haven’t lost your job: the company you work for is loyal only to its bottom line and if there’s a significant chance something will hurt that, your bosses will do whatever within reason to rectify that.

Bill O’Reilly – ever heard of him? He made hundreds of millions of dollars for FOX News; so much FOX was willing to pay out his victims of sexual assault, keep him around and extend his contract before firing him. Why’d they fire him? Because he threatened the bottom line.

ESPN laid off about 100 people that you’ve heard of yesterday, not because it wanted to, but because those people were affecting ESPN’s bottom line. Bob Igor, CEO of ESPN’s parent company Disney, basically told ESPN to shore up the books or, we’ll replace the people at the top. So, when faced with the prospect of losing one’s executive job or letting go of a bunch of probably over-paid people, what’s the obvious choice: protect yourself and let go of a bunch of people.

Remember, loyalty to the bottom line is all that counts.

Pure speculation here: ESPN probably needed to cut about 300 of its most expensive positions to help make up for the millions of cable subscribers its lost. As a mid-level manager at a company with a couple hundred thousand employees I can tell you easily how this works: attrition where people leave on their own, get fired, die, or retire. In the past year, you can probably name all the high-level ESPN on-air people who left the company through attrition. If you’re a company of any size, attrition is your best friend.

ESPN also (probably) needs to downsize another 100 current contracts this quarter to take the fiscal hit one quarter. It doesn’t matter that some of these contracts are for many years and some are likely guaranteed or have some type of buyout clause. Because when you terminate 100 people you’re not only getting rid of salary, you’re getting rid of benefits. Think insurance, retirement, etc. That shit is expensive also.

[Merenbloom: ESPN’s Sagging Ratings are Reflective of the Network’s Hard-line Liberal Views]

ESPN probably still needs to dump another 100 or so people and will do so through restructuring of contracts and will replace some of the highest 100 earners with kids who will do that same work for a fraction of the cost.

The next question everyone has: why not Stephen A. Smith or Dick Vitale? Because they contribute far more to the bottom line than Jayson Stark and Brett McMurphy. I wouldn’t even want to be in the same arena with the Smith or Vitale, but I’d have steak dinner with Stark and McMurphy and I hate steak.

Again, none of this is said to make anyone feel good, but think about it this way: all of this could happen to you tomorrow. Any one of us could be fired, laid off, whatever from our jobs and there’s likely nothing we can do about it.

So, what’s your backup plan? Do you have enough money saved to cover expenses for six to 12 months? Do you have an alternate source of income?

If you don’t, instead of worrying about highly-paid journalists who lost their job, think about what you would do if you lost your job. That’s the real lesson of this week’s layoffs.

The only person who’s loyal to you…is you.

E-mail Damien at or follow him on Twitter

2017 NCAA Tournament Notebook: The South - Where Everything is Fine

I’m back. I know it’s been a long time, but let’s get right into it. When Bob assigned me the South region of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, I thought it was a gift and you know what, it was. During the first two rounds (remember, play-in games aren’t part of the tournament), there were virtually no upsets in the South region. The closest call was either No. 12 Middle Tennessee (nee: MTSU) over No. 5 Minnesota or No. 10 Wichita State over No. 7 Dayton, but we all know that’s hogwash. Any team beating a Big Ten team in this year’s tournament makes complete sense, but because anyone (me) who paid even a middling amount of interest knows the Big Ten was terrible in basketball this year. [footnote] Yes, the Big Ten is STILL better in basketball than football. Fight me. [/footnote]. So, if an undervalued Middle Tenn (we’ll just keep making their name shorter and shorter) beats an overvalued Richard Pitino (how long until he goes by Rick or Dick?) Golden Gopher team, then it isn’t much of an upset. I don’t think Vegas is necessarily the key to knowing exactly how every game will play out, but the sportsbooks said MT was 1.5-point favorite over Minnesota.

Seems about right.

The next “upset,” which, again, anyone with a brain knows is complete hogwash, was Wichita State over Dayton. Dayton is a good team, so let’s not knock them, but to even suggest that Wichita State was seeded properly might be as dumb as suggesting that Donald Trump has a chance to become…never mind. The Shockers entered that contest as 6.5 favorite and beat the Flyers by six, so maybe Vegas does know something about how this process should work?

Perhaps it would make more sense to have Vegas setup the brackets?

Round of 32


I mean my bracket doesn’t look anything like I think it should at this point, but the top four seeds all advanced to next weekend in Memphis which I guess is how it’s supposed to be. No. 8 Arkansas gave No. 1 North Carolina all it could handle until the pressure became too intense. The Razorbacks had a good season even if their performance versus Kentucky in the SEC Tournament was childish at best.

We will no longer ignore the elephant in the room, which was Wichita State and No. 2 Kentucky yesterday in Indianapolis. The game was great, in fact it was so good that it should have been played this weekend in Memphis, but again, because the people on the selection committee forgot how good the Shockers are, we watched that game yesterday.

I’m clearly in the corner that Wichita State was under-seeded and yes, they did lose yesterday and probably would have lost to Kentucky next week, but it seems to me that it makes the most sense to have the best teams playing each other later in the tournament so those games are watched by more people.

One very important side note about Wichita State: Lynn Marshall, the wife of Head Coach Gregg Marshall is apparently very animated during games. There’s a report she may have been extremely intoxicated. There is a picture of her (below) standing behind Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde yelling at screaming (not at him like all y’all do) but either in celebration or trying to help the refs get through a tough sequence. I don’t know if she was drunk or how animated she is or what exactly is going on, but that this made the national media should be worrisome to the higher-ups at Wichita State.

I understand fans will be fans and that’s perfectly alright, but the wife of the coach shouldn’t have facility security talking to her about her behavior or have media speculating about how sober she is or isn’t.

Can she have one or 10 beverages before the game? Absolutely. Should it be obvious and on display to everyone because she’s in the front row being louder than the cheerleaders? No, not at all.

How Bad Are the Tournament Officials?

Look, I officiate basketball and at one point in my life I thought I may have a chance to do it consistently at a higher level than high school. For several reasons, it didn’t work out and I have very few regrets about that, but I’ll say this: these tournament games and every game in the college ranks are hard games to officiate. Officials will miss calls and some will be very bad misses.

How those three men missed the goaltending in the Gonzaga/Northwestern game I’ll never understand, but I can say the conversation with NCAA Men’s Basketball National Coordinator JD Collins was not pleasant. I also cannot make an excuse for the amount of contact that have been “no-called” by officials this past weekend. It isn’t a good look. It isn’t what Collins wants to see happen in the tournament, because he has bosses too who are probably looking at all the news and reports and are saying how does this continue to happen?

Are there likely solutions that could make this easier or fix a lot of this? Yes. But consider this, and only this, you me and everyone at home has the luxury of HD televisions and we aren’t constantly in motion trying to get an angle on play or trying to officiate 10 men that are significantly faster and stronger than us.

As much as coaches complain about how they want younger officials, they then complain about how bad those younger officials are at communicating or how they don’t trust them. At the same time, the officials who have been around the longest aren’t nearly as good as they were 10, 15 or even 20 years earlier.

I don’t say any of that to make excuses for the number of bad calls we saw this weekend, but for every bad call we saw there were at least five or more that were correct or where people on Twitter had conflicting opinions. Block, charge, traveling…well, sure pick one…or pick nothing and play on. It’s a choice officials must make decisions in a split-second again without the luxury of replay or beer.

South Region Links:

How did he tip that in? Kennedy Meeks basket helps avert upset for UNC [Scott Fowler/Charlotte Observer]

Three-minute crash: Hogs black out with victory in sight [Bob Holt/Whole Hog Sports]

What's next for Middle Tennessee's 10 returning players? [Aldo Giovanni Amato/Daily News Journal]

Sweet 16 celebrated far and wide by former Butler coaches, players [David Woods/Indianapolis Star]

Bearcats can't contain UCLA, out of tourney [Tom Groeschen/Cincinnati Enquirer]

UCLA to head to Sweet 16 after defeating Cincinnati 79-67 [Matt Cummings/Daily Bruin]

Kentucky ends Wichita State’s season with 65-62 second-round win [Paul Sullentrop/The Wichita Eagle]

Wichita State talked, Kentucky listened and the Wildcats advanced [Kyle Tucker/SEC Country]

I think that’s enough for now. Please check out the tournament notebooks from the other three regions as well as all our 2017 March Madness tournament coverage.

E-mail Damien at or following him on Twitter @damiEnbowman.

We're Willfully Ignoring Colin Kaepernick and Adam Jones' Issues Because of Their Approach

Over the past year, it seems sports in this country has been taken over by politics when, in reality, the two have been so closely intertwined for years…decades in fact. The current ‘crisis’ involves San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. Their issues, or at least the issues they’re trying to bring to the forefront, are those that have faced our nation since, well, before the Civil War.

I, as someone who participates in sports and owns a sports media website, have mostly been on the sideline throughout this argument because I’ve been of the opinion that sports and politics should remain separate, but I’ve changed my opinion.

I recognize that young Americans of all color see athletes as role models, along with members of the military and law enforcement, as well as doctors and nurses. The truth is that we, no matter what profession we are part of, in some ways are looked upon as heroes for people younger than us. And if the adults would rather their kids not look to people like Kaepernick or Adams as heroes because they chose not to stand for the National Anthem, or because they chose to publicly point out what they see as racism or oppression, then maybe we – the adults – need to look at ourselves in the mirror.

To be perfectly clear, I respect and understand the struggles that members of law enforcement and the military go through, and I do respect Kaepernick’s right to not stand during the National Anthem. I don’t view it as disrespecting the flag or members of the military.

The people who fight every day for our freedom do so because they know they’ll represent people that agree and disagree with what happens in this country on a daily basis. If the only thing we see is Kaepernick not standing for the Anthem or Jones saying baseball has become “a white man’s” sport, then we’re willfully ignoring the issues they’re trying to bring to the forefront.

It is true that men like me, Kaepernick and Jones, who are minorities, have benefited from being great at our jobs and have been paid well by those same “white men,” but the struggle they are trying to bring focus to is those who don’t have a voice. So, while they could shut their mouths and stand for the Anthem, they’re sacrificing the respect that many have for them and endorsement dollars to help those who cannot help themselves. In reality, that’s what being a hero is; sacrificing yourself for the good of others.

No, Jones and Kaepernick aren’t walking into the line of fire every day, though San Fransisco and Baltimore aren’t exactly the safest communities, what they are doing is saying, “I know I’ve had a good life but what can we do for others in my community that aren’t?” I’m also not on board with the assertion that police officers are murdering African-Americans at a historically high rate. And yes, if people didn’t commit crimes they wouldn’t be in the position to have interactions with law enforcement.

But, let’s think about this for a second, for years’ crack and cocaine criminal cases were adjudicated differently in the federal courts until Americans demanded equal laws and sentencing. What’s the obvious difference between crack cocaine and cocaine, well it’s literally black and white. The sentence for crack cocaine was completely different than it was for powder cocaine. Fundamentally, aren’t they same?

So, when I go out with my mostly white friends on a Friday night and they ask me about Kaepernick, their expectation might be that I think he should stand up and shut his mouth. Honestly, I do want him to stand up, but I don’t want him, or you, or anyone else to shut their mouth because it might disrupt the peace and calm that we suburbanites enjoy. When I’m critical of all the “Clevelanders” who’ve never lived in the city, or move when they have kids, it’s because nothing in Cleveland will get better until the people who can make a change, do make a change.

Can't wait til I'm old enough to wear velcro again!

Don’t tell anyone else who writes at Campus Pressbox, but baseball is my favorite sport. I played when I was a kid and tried out when I got to high school. I didn’t make the team. I didn’t cry or claim I didn’t make the team because I was back. I moved on with life and made myself better.

Sometimes someone saying “no” is what makes you stronger as a person, but don’t ever tell someone they should stop talking because they’re already privileged enough. When Jones says that baseball has become a “white man’s sport,” he’s both right and wrong. He’s both willfully ignoring the number of other minorities that are prevalent in the sport and not doing anything in his community to bring additional black kids into the sport.

No, you cannot make kids play baseball if they think it’s boring, but like the National Football League, Major League Baseball can encourage their teams to put more minorities in positions of power. Encourage doesn’t mean enact a version of the Rooney Rule, but say, if all things are equal, maybe it’s best to put a minority in this spot instead of the same guy that’s already been fired three times.

Nothing in this country will change until Americans of all color decide there’s a problem and that we need to fix it. We can hide in the suburbs and pretend like everything is great, but your kids don’t see color unless you teach them to. So, maybe it’s time we stop trying to make things about color and make things about equality.

E-mail Damien at or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photos: Damien Bowman/Self.

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The Next Step for Campus Pressbox

It’s August and that means we are merely weeks away from the beginning of college football and a few short months away from the start of college basketball, so in that vein it’s time we start anew…or as anew as we can. About three years ago when this site started as College Football Roundtable we never imagined it would transform itself into a full-fledged opinion website with columns and a few podcasts, but yet here we are in August 2016. As the site has grown we’ve repeatedly tried to present the best content to our listeners and readers, and now we’re ready for our next step.

Campus Pressbox Insiders

Campus Pressbox Insiders is a premium subscription model that will not only help us continue to create great content, but will give us an opportunity to consistently reward our writers with the compensation they deserve. Campus Pressbox is improving for everyone involved, not just those who become Insiders. Over the next few months we’ll roll out a new site design, improve the speed and responsiveness of our site and include the Insider community in the direction of the site and the implementation of those ideas.

The first step in improving the browsing experience for Insiders is to remove all of the ads that are displayed on the site. Hosting large websites isn’t easy or cheap, so while Insiders will have those annoying ads removed, placements by site sponsors will remain visible.

The next step is an Insider community to which we will move comments on all articles and will provide a moderated place where Insiders can talk about their own team and others without fear of the nastiness and constant competitiveness that many other sites expose its users to.

Insiders will also have early access to feature articles and podcasts. Typically, these are podcasts we may demo and ultimately based on your feedback continue to produce or move in a different direction. These feature articles are something we work on weeks or months in advance and hold until a particular point in time. We’ll release both early to you – because…why not?

Campus Pressbox Insiders isn’t expensive at $3 per month, but for those of you who chose to join us in the month of August, you’ll pay $2 per month as long as you remain a month-to-month member. So, yes, for life as long as you continue to renew, you’ll pay just $2 per month. On September 1, the rate for those who join will revert to $3 per month.

If you’re interested in becoming a Campus Pressbox Insider sign-up here and we're in the process of hiring contributors, so if you or anyone you know would like to join us, click here.

Thanks so much for reading.

Damien Bowman Executive Editor, Campus Pressbox

Photo: BillG/Flickr.

Can the ACC Network Finally Force Notre Dame to Join the ACC in Football?

For many, many years I was among a large group of college football fans who insisted that Notre Dame need not join a conference to remain competitive, but I’m starting to shift my thinking. The creation of the ACC Network, the Irish signing their grant of rights away until 2036 and the College Football Playoff have created a perfect storm that might lead to end of Irish independence. Obviously, Notre Dame wouldn’t do anything until its home television contract with NBC expires in 2025, but by then it will either be painfully obvious it needs to join a conference or that it can survive on its own*. The College Football Playoff contract also expires in 2025.

One of the reasons, other than being different, that I like Notre Dame being independent is because it spreads great football games across networks that aren’t tied to ESPN. I really had hope that the Big Ten would do something similar and break at least partially away from ESPN and give its rights to FOX (which partially owns the Big Ten Network) or NBC. It didn’t happen, and while Notre Dame’s contract with NBC made a lot of sense initially, the school now makes less than almost every other Power 5 school.

What we know: Notre Dame pulls about $15 million from NBC and another $6.2 million from the ACC/ESPN deal, as it stands right now. It’s believed another $5-$8 million in revenue from ACC Network will close the gap between it and most of the other Power 5 schools that aren’t in the ACC, but why the need for income source complexity?

Right. Tradition.

Let’s talk about tradition for a moment. I’m not a fan of Notre Dame playing Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, or any other team in the Big Ten. I really believe the only thing it promotes are the other schools its playing. Michigan and Ohio State provide no obvious recruiting benefit to Notre Dame. Since I didn't grow up watching Michigan and Notre Dame, it isn’t something I need to see every year.

Side note: I don’t want to see Michigan play Ohio State every year either, but television insists that it’s a great game, when clearly it is not.

I understand that the same history I just derided also says Notre Dame and Navy play each other and I understand the history the two schools have dating back to World War II. Fine.

Keep it.

But I really like when Notre Dame plays opponents that are out of their region and provide them a recruiting benefit. And this is where playing in the ACC will help them recruit. Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York. Seemingly everyone from the Midwest is traveling to those states to recruit and very few are traveling to the Midwest to recruit. Why? Because no one wants to live in the Midwest anymore and there’s no advantage for an up-and-coming prospect to live there.

So, while keeping their ‘traditional’ rivals would keep old school fans happy, it does very little to help recruiting or anything else that seems to matter.

The next, last and most important complication: The College Football Playoff. As long as the committee is going to put an emphasis on winning a conference then Notre Dame is going to take a perceived hit no matter what. Now that the Big 12 has decided to hold a conference championship game, the Irish can’t say they’re not the only team without a chance to play a conference title game.

Joining the ACC as a full time member and consistently facing Florida State, Clemson, Louisville is more important than playing region ‘rivals’ who impact nothing. Notre Dame will continue to sell out its home games and probably the stadiums of the teams it visits for the foreseeable future. The Irish will command – and receive – more money once they become full-time ACC members and the rest of us will wonder why we defended their lack of a conference home for so long.

All this is, of course, pre-mature, because I don’t suspect Notre Dame will be able to join the ACC while its contract remains with NBC. Under any other circumstances, NBC probably wouldn’t care if they joined a conference, but NBC pays all that money for a national schedule and beyond two or three non-conference games, the Irish cannot guarantee great home opponents as part of its conference schedule.

I did mention all of this is pre-mature? Right. Notre Dame will be a full participant in the ACC by 2025 at the latest.

E-mail Damien at or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photo: MGoBlog/Flickr.

Big Ten Links: We all hit Rock Bottom When Steve Spurrier is Wrong

I'm on vacation, but all that means is you'll get more words out of me. I hope you like my words. Here are a few of the happenings in the Big Ten along with a few podcasts I listened to this week. Have a great weekend. Is it September yet? Cornhuskers riding on Armstrong’s shoulder. Let’s get right to it. In order for Nebraska to improve from 2015’s 6-7, 2016 Tommy Armstrong has to be better. Setting career records for touchown passes and passing yardage will be for naught if he has another season of 16 interceptions. Half of that in the Big Ten won’t net many more than the six wins of last season and being lackluster at the end of the spring game doesn’t exactly instill confidence heading into the summer. Armstrong was 8-of-15 for 80 yards, while backup Ryker Fyfe 15-of-21. So, Armstrong will have to carry the Cornhuskers on his arm, and I guess his legs. He’ll have to work on ‘easy’ draw plays and be more precise. His timing will have to be better and he’ll have to grow up on and off the field. In January, Armstrong proposed to his longtime girlfriend and former Nebraska soccer star Jaylyn Odermann. Many in the Cornhusker fan base probably hope this among many other off-field moves will help settle his social life so he can focus on football. Armstrong’s goal is to have a marriage ring and also a Big Ten championship ring. Good luck with the latter.

Going to the Rose Bowl ins’t cheap, especially when you lose. Iowa lost in Pasadena not only on the field but in the bank account in January when the Hawkeyes played Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The Hawkeyes are claiming a $228,000 deficit in spending that will make people wonder how a university in the Big Ten can lose money in a bowl game. The university received $2.5 million from its share of revenue for the bowl, but that wasn’t enough to cover these related costs:

  • About $1.9 million for expenses for the football team and athletics department staff.
  • About $663,500 for expenses related to the marching band.
  • About $166,000 for expenses related to Iowa officials and administrators.
  • UI is reporting total expenses of $2,728,445, leaving a deficit of $228,445.

Due to this and probably other unforeseen expenses throughout the athletic department, UI athletics will close out its fiscal year with a deficit. Iowa does not take student subsidies and is self-supporting, but its revenue is smaller than normal because its football season ticket sales are down despite how well the team performed last season. I guess, the fans want to see if last year was lightening in a bottle.

Small potatoes add up, and I’m sure none of these people could afford to pay their own way, but administrative officials accounted for $165,815 in costs related to tickets, transportation, meals and lodging, and ‘other transportation.’ You can assume ‘other transportation’ is the motorcade from the hotel to the stadium. Can’t have the president of the university or the sexual misconduct coordinator sitting at traffic lights like peons.

When the defensive backs coach compares his unit to being an alcoholic. "It's kind of like being an alcoholic: You have to figure out where you are. If you're rock bottom, then OK, now I've got a chance," said Rutgers defensive backs coach Bill Busch. (I’m sure he isn’t related to Adolphus Busch, but it would be appropriate). Rutgers’ pass defense was not good last year, and yeah, if that secondary wasn’t at rock bottom it was obvious they can see it from where they stand. The unit could get worse, and playing in the Big Ten East certainly doesn’t make their recovery any easier, but newly hired coach Busch seems like a man on a mission. He mentions Michigan State and Ohio State as the two toughest opponents the Scarlet Knights will face this season, and yeah…that’s probably accurate, but what’s more important is the building process. Making practice harder than the games and getting players to understand the decisions making process in practice is supposed to be harder than it is during the game is the ultimate goal.

The telling number: 118. Rutgers’ defensive secondary ranked 118th of 127 nationally in passing yards allowed. 118th.

More Busch:

"I talk to them all the time about how we stress them out here," Busch said. "We stress with the pace, how we go from drill-to-drill — everything is stress. Then I ask them, 'How hard is it on Saturday night when you're playing against Ohio State or Michigan?' The guys that played are like, 'It's really hard.' So you see our method and they get it. They understand that we're trying to prepare them for this fight they're going to be in."

Did I mention the Scarlet Knights were 118th in passing yards allowed in 2015?

When retired Spurrier says something he probably shouldn’t. I’m the biggest Steve Spurrier guy there is. I think he’s a national treasure and definitely one of the funniest guys in college football – retired or not – but sometimes it’s better to not speak on certain things. In many ways though, I think I’m a lot like Spurrier, if someone asks me something I’ll probably just say whatever and then realize after I’m halfway through my answer that I probably should have said, ‘no comment.’ Spurrier appeared on Paul Finebaum’s radio show earlier this week and was asked about the treatment of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno. His response:

"[Paterno] was treated the most unfairly of any coach ever," Spurrier said. "He had nothing to do with that scandal. Nothing at all, and amazingly, what they did to him was completely wrong. I've heard they're having talk of putting the statute back, and they should do that. They really should."

Well. I agree with some of this, and I agree that Paterno in the court of public opinion may have received a slightly raw deal, but Paterno did nothing to bring anyone to his side of the argument. Paterno was hung out to dry by the Penn State administration, but I still have an hard time believing he had no idea what Jerry Sandusky was doing. I’m not suggestion he had complete knowledge, but at some point you have to think to yourself, something about Sandusky and this situation doesn’t seem right. And I think this is where Spurrier and some of the Penn State fans and alumni jump the shark.

Joe Paterno was a great coach and probably a better man, but like all men (and women) everyone makes mistakes. It is not ill to talk of someone after they die if you’re simply pointing out obvious flaws and facts. It would have been better to point these flaws out while he were alive so he could respond to them, but when you’re in the inner circle I get that it’s hard to be honest with the icon in the middle. But what are friends for?

If Paterno and Spurrier were close friends, then Spurrier should have asked Paterno what the hell was going on with Sandusky, and why hadn’t Paterno done something meaningful about it when he found out about it?

And for this reason alone, I cannot support the replacement of Paterno’s statue at Penn State. I don’t mind restoring records or wins because those are reflective of the student-athletes that won those games, but until I’m convinced Paterno had zero knowledge of what Sandusky was doing, then in my eyes, Paterno let a lot of people down.

What to listen to:

  • BuckAround episode 130 with Rich and Maxwell. They preview the Badger’s spring game tomorrow and Dylan from Pennsylvania wants to know if Wisconsin is a football or basketball school. Obviously worth your time.
  • What’s it like to be a Northwestern fan as an NU student, parts 1 and 2. The gang at Inside NU podcast a two-part series asking the tough questions surrounding Northwestern’s student fandom. Part 1 and part 2.
E-mail Damien at or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photo: Corn Farmer/Flickr.

Big Ten Links: You'll Never Convince me to pay Student-Athletes

Things are looking up for Maryland. In what many would have considered an off-season disaster, head coach DJ Durkin turned a potential negative into quick positive. Last week, I wrote about Maryland defensive coordinator Scott Shafer leaving the staff after such a short time and how quickly Durkin hired Kentucky’s Andy Buh to fill the position. Not only did Durkin hire a new defensive coordinator in short shrift, he picked up verbal commits from three impressive recruits.

What’s the ceiling at Illinois? Lovie Smith is a man of change. From the NFL to college. From early morning practices to late-afternoon workouts. From being part of the NFL contract process to dealing with high school coaches and recruits. While I have no doubts about Smith’s ability to coach, ultimately what will define his tenure at Illinois is his ability to win. Six years at $21 million dollars is a lot of money, which he’ll easily return to the university within three years, but how high can the Illini go in the Big Ten? As a charter member of the Big Ten and second largest university (Minnestoa) in the West Division, expectations should be high. The only other team that’s been consistently good since the conference went to two divisions in 2011 has been Wisconsin. With Smith’s hire, there’s literally no reason Smith and the Illini shouldn’t compete for the division title every season.

Wisconsin, why so cheap? I guess I understand Wisconsin is successful in the West Division of the Big Ten despite paying what seems to be the least amount of money for football coaches. I guess that shows – excuse me Cleveland Indians fans – that a ‘team’ can act like a small market team and still be successful even if it’s going to cause a bunch of turnover every season. I still have tons of respect for Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank for saying Michigan and Ohio State are overpaying their coaches. For the record, I agree 100 percent those dudes are overpaid. As well as Nick Saban. But to totally contradict what I just said, Wisconsin needs to step its game up. While they can hang their hat on Big Ten championship game and Rose Bowl appearances, how many of those have translated to wins? I’m sure coaching turnover has something to do with it.

You have until Friday to order Hawkeye’s season tickets. I can say I won’t be placing an order for season tickets, but based on last year’s success and the outlook for 2016, I expect Iowa to sell a lot more home tickets. Two items of note – 1. Iowa State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska visit Kinnick Stadium this fall. 2. There isn’t a chance in hell Iowa repeats what it did last season. I’d love to be wrong about that.

Jim Harbaugh: the next great commence speaker. “I’m not a football guy, but I know a great educator when I see one, and he always impressed me as a great educator and great leader.” Says Jim Vail president of New Jersey’s Paramus Catholic school where Jim Harbaugh will give the commencement speech this spring. I guess if the NCAA is going to ban satellite camps because of you, then you have to take your message around the country in a few other different ways. One way is to promote yourself and Michigan at commencement speeches. The NCAA had to approve this appearance, so I wonder if Harbaugh will be allowed to wear anything with the Block M on it or if he’ll have to submit his speech beforehand to make sure it doesn’t contain any recruiting subterfuge?

I don’t believe anyone understands NCAA graduate transfer rules. Here’s a smart podcast from our friends at Hammer & Rails as they try to tackle the transfer rule and how it relates to Boilermaker hoopster Kendall Stephens. Later in the episode, there’s a deep penetrating discussion about Tyler Summit, who apparently good at penetration, but bad on picking the people he penetrates.

Big Ten coaches aren’t and shouldn’t be united on camp ban. I think a lot of times we expect coaches from conferences to be a united front. Typically, their wishes are passed up the chain-of-command to university presidents through athletic directors and that’s how things become ‘law’ in college sports. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz doesn’t want satellite camps because he wants them to take place on campus. That’s a novel concept. Coaches like Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh (#duh) are in favor of these camps with varying degrees of restrictions. Is it surprising all the coaches aren’t on the same page? No. Is it surprising to publicly see all the coaches aren’t on the same page? Absolutely.

For the record, I was against the camps before I was for the camps. I’m against the camps in the way that Harbaugh used them as a means to take his kids from their spring break for a glorified recruiting trip. Now that I know many kids who aren’t going to play at the Michigan’s or Ohio State’s of the world are so affected by the change I’m against it. I’m never for taking scholarship opportunities from deserving student-athletes and if this means kids don’t have the chance to go exposure camps then this is bad for the sport.

No, Cardale, you shouldn’t be paid to play college football. You’re crazy if you thought I’d ignore this one. Cardale took to Twitter yesterday to voice his excitement at the prospect of being able to earn an income for playing football. I’m excited for Cardale and all the other student-athletes who will be drafted or signed later this month by NFL teams. It’s the culmination of years of hard work by the athletes, parents and coaches. The reward for missing summers with friends, tailgating before college football games, and spending Thanksgiving with dudes you probably don’t like. That said, I’m still a firm believer that playing college football is equivalent of an unpaid internship for student-athletes who gain on the job experience while earning and opportunity to play at the next level.

In fairness to Cardale, I do think his time at Ohio State has been nothing but a benefit and learning experience for him. I don’t know if last season worked out the way he wanted it to, but since his ‘we ain’t come to play SCHOOL’ tweet several years age, he certainly has appeared to have matured as a young man.

Isn’t that what going to college is all about – growing and learning? Even if you have to sacrifice in the near term to be successful in the long term?

E-Mail Damien at or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr.

Big Ten Links: How The Hell Do I Compete With Last Night?

Well, last night was a hell of a college basketball game. Neither team in the final is a member of the Big Ten, but congrats to Villanova and North Carolina for playing a national final that everyone will remember for probably the rest of their lives. For those of you into One Shining Moment, this is your moment of zen:

Harvey Perlman still hates Pelini; living in 2014

Remember Bo Pelini? He isn’t a fan of his old boss Harvey Perlman at Nebraska and apparently Perlman isn’t a fan of Pelini’s either. Perlman is retiring and when giving his final speech as chancellor of Nebraska-Lincoln, he couldn’t resist taking a shot at the former football coach:

“I’m not going to do a Bo Pelini.”

The audience laughed.

“Do you know what a Bo Pelini is?” Perlman continued. “It is defined in the urban dictionary as an expletive-laced rant expressing outrage on leaving a position you didn’t want anyway.

“Not going to do it.”

Bo Pelini is certainly in the right if someone asks him about his time at Nebraska and his relationship with Perlman, but Perlman is not in the right if he writes this into his speech. At some point, typically after like age 45, it’s time to be the bigger man and at least pretend you’re going to move on.

How do you leave your job after four months?

Ever start a new job and you hate it so much you can’t make it through probation? Apparently, that’s why Maryland’s defensive coordinator Scott Shafer is leaving the program after four months. Shafer cited personal reasons as the need for his departure, so I certainly hope all is right in his personal world, but is this the start of a troubling trend for new head coach DJ Durkin and the Terrapins? Hope not. After the disaster that was Randy Edsall the Terrapins cannot go back to anything resembling that nonsense.

Durkin and company have already answered the next question, ‘who will replace Shafer?’ If your answer was Kentucky special team’s coordinator Andy Buh, then you win $1,000. Buh leaving an SEC perennial bottom-feeder is good for him and hopefully a stabilizing force for Maryland. Good luck.

The Kahki King held his second Spring Game

It’s hard to believe it is time for spring football, but here we are. Michigan’s game was last Saturday and in a surprising and interesting move the Wolverine’s held the game at night. I have to imagine this is the first year the game was held at night as Michigan Stadium has only had lights for about five years, so this change is quite refreshing.

I’m not an X’s and O’s type of guy, but Tom Dienart of the Big Ten Network is, and here are his four observations from that game:

  1. It looks like Wilton Speight—yes, Wilton Speight—has emerged as the leader in the quarterback race to replace Jake Rudock.
  2. Running back Ty Isaac looks good.
  3. The defense looks VERY good.
  4. Michigan will have one of the best collections of tight ends in the Big Ten.

If you want more sights and sounds, ESPN’s Dan Murphy has you covered. Here are the Wolverine’s leaving the field after the game:

I really hope the Big Ten choses a television partner not named ESPN

I know the chances of the Big Ten signing a television deal with any network that isn’t ESPN is between slim and none, but I wish at the very least they’d consider all the possibilities. In my opinion, NBC offers the conference the best exposure for not only its mainline football and basketball games, but the broadcast network along with NBC Sports can augment those two sports as well as the non-revenue and Olympic sports. If NBC isn’t a viable option, again to me, the second best option is FOX. FOX is already a partner with the Big Ten in the Big Ten Network, so that relationship is built, but I think the Big Ten deserves its own place to shine. FOX also the primary broadcaster of Pac-12 games.

Do I think the conference should completely abandon ESPN? Of course not, but ESPN has primary rights or secondary rights holders’ agreements with every other Power Five conference and the Big Ten can shift some exposure in its favor by moving to NBC or FOX.

The Big Ten’s only big competition at NBC? Notre Dame.

E-mail Damien at or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photo: Larry/Flickr.

NCAA Tournament: East Region Round Two Notebook

As the East region moves to Philadephia this week, let’s quickly re-visit Sunday's second round action.

The obvious. North Carolina showed us they’re really good.

They took it to Florida Gulf Coast (83-67) and No. 9 Providence (85-66) while allowing fewer than their season average of 69.9 points per game. The Tar Heels will need to maintain that superb below average performance when they face No. 5 Indiana who rolled No. 12 Chattanooga (99-74) and survived an unmotivated No. 4 Kentucky (73-67). The Hoosiers average 82.3 points per making Friday evening’s match-up potentially one for the ages. The biggest question: Does Tom Crean have another great coaching performance in him?

I love you Xavier, but #OnWisconsin.

Look, I’m not a Wisconsin guy; I don’t really appreciate how Bo Ryan inserted Greg Gard as the head coach this year, because frankly I think it’s bush league for someone to think they control their job and their former program after they leave. That said, Gard has done a phenomenal job with this team that many didn’t expect to have a repeat of last season. Sunday’s game versus Xavier was, well, extraordinary. Despite the fact that Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes had another sub-par game, the Badgers were able to erase Xavier’s nine-point lead in six minutes. Then the Badgers won on a buzzer-beating corner three-pointer from Bronson Koenig. All this after Wisconsin was up by 11 in the first half. This is why you love March.

Side note: comedian Bill Murray’s son, Xavier assistant Luke, has reportedly never seen “Caddyshack.” Luke, it’s cool man, “What About Bob?” is about 50 times better.

Mike Brey and the Irish have a drive for excitement.

Was the Notre Dame-Steven F. Austin game the best of the tournament so far? Probably. Despite the three-quarter court buzzer-beaters, the upset of Michigan State, and Wisconsin’s Brandon Koenig’s channeling his ‘inner Steph Curry’, no other game had the back-and-forth of this game, right? No. 6 Notre Dame faces No. 7 Wisconsin on Thursday at 7:27 Eastern. You can bet Thursday’s game will have all the dramatics both teams brought to the table in first two rounds of the tournament.

Who wins the East?

If you don’t think this is the most interesting of the four regions, then you better hope and pray your boss doesn’t send you for a drug test anytime soon. It would be very difficult put the teams in any other order than the rankings in which they already stand, No. 1 North Carolina, No. 5 Indiana, No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 7 Wisconsin, BUT if you use recent history (last year’s tournament) as a guide, it would be tough to discount either Notre Dame or Wisconsin winning the region. To give either of those teams the region win would ignore what North Carolina has done this season, their seed and the respect that Roy Williams commands. As much as I love the drama and funny faces of Tom Crean, I cannot see the Hoosiers advancing to Saturday’s games. So, and I’m sure I’ll be wrong, but give me North Carolina over Notre Dame in the regional final Saturday night.

What the hell else do you have to talk about?

Yeah, the media…and because Bob limited me ONLY to this region, here are some of the best Vine’s, Instagram’s and Tweet’s I could come up with in five minutes.

I don’t think we’ll ever be done with Wisconsin-Xavier, so here’s Syracuse’s Christian White’s fathers' (get all that?) reaction from behind Wisconsin’s bench on that last second shot:

Barstool Sports has another dramatic view of that same shot. The guy in the orange hat, yeah that's White's father. 

Unreal view of Wisconsin's game-winner

A video posted by Barstool Sports (@barstool_sports) on

Notre Dame’s Rex Pflueger’s now-famous tip-in:

Steven F. Austin’s coach Brad Underwood talks about Thomas Walkup:

E-mail Damien at or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr.

The Pipeline: From our Keyboard to Your Eyes

Welcome to the Pipeline

Welcome to the Pipeline from Campus Pressbox where we hope to give you all the news of college athletics you may have missed over the past few days. I’m Damien Bowman, executive editor of Campus Pressbox, and I'll be presenting today. If you want to read this in a browser instead of your e-mail client, check here for the latest edition.

Photo courtesy: UTSA

Just when we thought most of the coaching moves were done, Larry Coker resigns as coach at University of Texas-San Antonio. Coker, who won a national title at Miami in 2001, was hired by UTSA in 2009 to rebuild the program was only able sustain a 26-32 record and just 3-9 in 2015. That record is unacceptable anywhere and even more so if you’ve won a national championship. As Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News notes, Coker’s untimely departure presents problems because of the timing and the proximity to National Signing Day, which is February 3. Also: 10 factors UTSA head coaching candidates may want to keep in mind. [Chris Vannini/Coaching Search]

#AngryTom Herman has finally appeared. Tom Herman went on a Houston-area talk show to defend his ‘recruitment’ of transfer Kyle Allen. Herman is adamant that he never “met” with the former Texas A&M quarterback as that may have some NCAA recruitment violations attached to it. After the transfer, Allen won't be eligible until 2017. The interview is 22-minutes long and is broken up over several pieces. [Joe Kinsey/Busted Coverage]

Why is everyone leaving Texas A&M? Also on the road is Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman, who just last week gave his vote of confidence to head coach Kevin Sumlin. It appears the exodus from A&M is in full force with everyone heading out the door except Kevin Sumlin. After the slew of firings in the National Football League, everyone wants to know if Sumlin is headed there or if maybe the movers and shakers in College Station are almost done with Kevin Sumlin and Hyman’s departure is a predictor of the very near future. Also out at Texas A&M: quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen; offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. [Dennis Dodds/CBS Sports] But things may be looking up for Texas A&M as Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight will transfer, and be immediately eligible, next season to Aggie program.

When Christian McCaffrey runs you out of town… Never in a million years did I think Barry J. Sanders (son of the other Barry Sanders) would be forced to leave Stanford, but I guess the writing is on the wall. Or rather, McCaffrey is on the field…everywhere. Barry J announced he’s been given his release by Stanford to go any non-Pac-12 school and it sounds like he may end up at Oklahoma State where his famous father ran all over the field. Sanders, who is a graduate transfer, will be able to play immediately wherever he lands.

When Gus (and money) Take you Home to Auburn. There’s no such thing as too much money, and it’s even better when going home means you can increase your retirement contributions and still make a pretty penny. Who am I talking about? Yes, Auburn’s new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele who was introduced as Auburn’s third coordinator in as many years. Steele served in the same position for one season at LSU under Les Miles and previously was on staff at Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Nebraska and Tennessee. Like the Beach Boys, Steele gets around. [James Crepea/]


On the Hardwood

Damon Del Rosario is back and as much as he appreciated the NCAA’s effort to improve college basketball this season, there’s one easy change he thinks would make the game instantly better. This basketball referee doesn't completely disagree with part of his reasoning.

Courtney is excited about Big 12 basketball and has thoughts on No 1 vs. No 2 on Monday night. Welcome back to Big 12 basketball.

Boise State's win streaks Overall: 8 games, t-6th longest active streak in country Home: 16 games, t-15th longest active streak in country [@BroncoSportsMBB]

LSU hammered No. 9 Kentucky 85-67 on Tuesday evening. I don’t know what’s going on at Kentucky, but I know that after a sub-par LSU non-conference schedule the Tigers are doing their best to make things right against one of the nation’s most storied franchises. A recap from Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo! Sports.

What’s better than triple overtime No. 1 vs. No 2? Overtime Mid-American Conference action. Yes, Kent State went to Kalamazoo and defeated the Broncos of Western Michigan 87-84 on the opening night of conference play.

Ever seen a coach get ejected from a basketball game? Bobby Hurley is on his way to becoming the modern day Bobby Knight or Bob Huggins. Hurley was ejected Sunday in Arizona State’s game versus Arizona by veteran official John Higgins. Hurley says he wouldn’t change a thing, which is sort of asinine, but the expectations for him at Arizona State are HIGH as Michael Tulumello reports.


What we're Talking About

SEC411_1400x1400edit.pngThe SEC 411 40: Bird LeCroy: AKA, Clay Travis Seth and Bird and Joined by Mike Loveall to discuss the bowl dominance of the SEC and preview Monday's national championship game.






horizoneJimmy and Bob talk about Oakland’s Khalil Felder and how he is making his argument already to become Horizon League Player of the Year. Jimmy also talks about the strange relationship between Milwaukee and the other Wisconsin schools.






itunes_logoMaxwell Brusky joined by Campus Pressbox contributor Mark Hasty to review the 2015 Big Ten football season that was – what will be remembered 10-15 years from now about this season, what were some of the season’s biggest surprises, and what the underachieving bowl season means for the conference’s perception and image are some of the topics covered.






What’s on television


  • Cincinnati at SMU [7p/ESPN]
  • Louisville at N.C. State [7p/ESPN]
  • Illinois at Michigan State [9p/ESPN]
  • Arizona at U.C.L.A. [9p/ESPN]


  • Villanova at Butler [7:30p/FS1]


  • Alabama at Clemson (College Football Playoff Championship Game) [8:30p/ESPN]


What else we're reading

The story behind the tent on Alabama's football sideline [Dan Wolken/USA Today] The story behind Alabama’s massive sideline tent and how it, like Gatorade at Florida, could become a money-making venture for Alabama.

Has The Biz Of College Football Bowl Games Outgrown Itself? [Darren Heitner/Forbes]: Do we really have 40 bowl games? Yes, we do. Darren talks about how we got here, who’s to blame and what the overall risk for everyone is with this many bowl games. My take: cut this nonsense in half and give us better match-ups. There is such a thing as too much football and last December proved that notion.

How Texas recruiting is taking advantage of Texas A&M woes [Westcott Eberts/Burnt Orange Nation]

The Freshmen Who've Helped Carry Alabama, Clemson to National Title Game [Barrett Sallee/Bleacher Report]

Why the Redskins’ Players Are So Frugal [Kevin Clark/The Wall Street Journal]

How Tom Coughlin changed his ways and won over the Giants [Ian O’Connor/ESPN]

Before you look down on LeBron James' response to the Tamir Rice case, look within [Chris Haynes/Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Want this delivered to your inbox? Sign-up here:

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Welcome to the new Campus Pressbox

Welcome to the refreshed Campus Pressbox. Most importantly, thanks to you for reading and thanks to the writers who are working their asses off at Campus Pressbox. We’ve previewed almost every bowl game this season which is something we’ve never done before. In fact, the only ones that are missing are the ones I was supposed to do. Feel free to make fun of me; it’s well deserved. Read all of the previews here if you haven’t already. With just a few bowl games left and the end of the college football season about 10 days away, we’re slowly making the transition into basketball. There have been tons of upsets already, and other drama already in the college basketball season. That said, we’ve teamed up with Four Lights FM, Bob McDonald and Jimmy Lemke to bring you the HoriZone Roundtable which is a podcast about the Horizon League. Also, on our own world famous Campus Pressbox podcast, Mitch Gatzke will take the reins to discuss college basketball on a national level.

What’s new at Campus Pressbox?

Now, let’s address the obvious: this site looks completely new. And hopefully for the better. We took our old look and threw it out the window. Literally…like I don’t even have the theme installed on the server anymore. Speaking of servers, we changed that also. For the longest time we were self-hosting at DigitalOcean, but as this site has grown and scaled the need for me to spend less time managing the back-end and writing has become greater, so we switched to Pantheon.

Pantheon is a WordPress managed hosting provider that hosts some of the largest and busiest websites on the Internet.

So our new theme is more responsive than our old theme and gives us a ton more layout options. In fact, this page is designed in a fashion that many of the other posts aren’t. I have so many more options with how I want to style my posts that it puts the last theme to shame.

What didn’t change?

Well, in August, I promised you that there would only be one ad per page, and that’s still true. While we have plans to make this site profitable for our writers, I don’t think that plan should include bombarding you with ads to get there. It’s unfair to you and the bandwidth that you pay for. We decided against making many of the changes we wanted because so many of our readers come from the mobile world. Your bandwidth is precious to you, and we don’t want to be the reason you go over your data cap each month. So, one ad, per page no matter what.

Anything else?

I think that’s it for now [footnote] I think Alabama just scored on Michigan State again. [/footnote]. Over the next several weeks we’ll be making small changes to the look and feel of this site, so excuse our dust as we clean up from construction. Again, thanks for reading, and if you have any concerns, e-mail me directly at

Have a great 2016

Damien Bowman

Photo: Vern/Flickr

Celebration Bowl: I Hope the Band Stays on the Field

The Celebration Bowl, in Atlanta and sponsored by none other than ESPN. In reality, we have ESPN to blame for the major expansion in bowl games as they will televise about 98% of all bowls in the 2015/2016 season. That dissent aside Mitch told me to talk to you about this titillating match-up between the Aggies of North Carolina A&T (bonus if you know what A&T stands for) and the Braves from Alcorn State. Common sense would tell you to pick the Braves because they’re playing in the city of the Braves but neither Braves team is actually from Hotlanta. Alcorn State’s Braves are from beautiful Lorman, Mississippi and the Atlanta Braves are originally from Boston, but we’ll go with Milwaukee cause I’m a fan of the Beast.

“’The Beast’ tastes like I’m swishing around piss in my mouth.” - college bros all across America

I was kidding about being a fan of the beast.

Back to Football

North Carolina’s A&T has long been known for their spectacular band, but is efforting to change that with its first bowl appearance since its 36-13 Heritage Bowl loss to Alabama State in 1991. The Aggies last won a bowl game in 1980 (I wasn’t born until 1982) at the Gold Bowl 37-0 versus now FCS North Carolina Central.

Alcorn State is the defending 2014 Black National Champion (I’d like to see that ring) and is the back-to-back Southwest Athletic Conference champion and is facing North Carolina A&T for the first time since beating the Aggies in Lorman, 16-13 in 2004.

ASU’s (Hi, Sun Devil people) bowl record is 1-2 with its last appearance and win in 1968 36-8 over Florida A&M in the Orange Blossom Classic.

The Orange Blossom Classic, which was seen as the mythical Black National Championship Game, hasn’t been played since 1978. The regular season game between Florida A&M and Florida International is called the Orange Blossom Classic, but Florida International isn’t a historically black college. Weird, but whatever.

I have to be completely honest with you here, I know absolute nothing about either team as they compete at the FCS level, but because Mitch ordered me to preview this game, I’ll talk about North Carolina’s band.

Leave the Band on the Field

The Blue and Gold Marching Machine is the largest of the Historically Black College and University bands in the country and features around 220 students. If this band wanted to be the Best Damn Black Band in the Land (Hi, Ohio State) it would mimic the Buckeye’s marching band and drop all those silly woodwinds and go all brass.

That’s the band’s 2010 performance of the Bed Intruder Song – which I had never heard of before I wrote this. I can only speak for myself, but making a song about rape and then having a marching band do a ‘cover’ of it only to have it go viral seems a bit out of place to me. Among other things.

Anyway, BGMM is a great band, and if I were good enough to be in a band in my collegiate days this is one that I would have approved of. My skills extend to super terrible percussion player and an even worse drum major, if such a thing exists.

Famous Alumni

What would a preview of an insignificant bowl be without mentioning the famous alumni of each school?

Alcorn State

  • Medgar Evers – civil rights activist; assassinated in 1963; wife portrayed by Whoopie Goldberg in ‘Ghosts of Mississippi’
  • Michael Clark Duncan – actor; played John Coffey in ‘The Green Mile’ and appeared in ‘Armageddon’ (which is a terrible movie); died of heart attack in 2010; his wife Omarose Onee Manigault (from Ohio – who isn’t at this point?) unsuccessfully gave him CPR.
  • Alex Haley – author of ‘Roots’; Chief Petty Officer (Go Navy, Who hasn’t beaten Army?) No relation to Charles.

North Carolina A&T

  • Ronald McNair – astronaut; died in 1986 on Space Shuttle Challenger
  • Jesse Jackson Jr. – son of senior (obviously); Illinois House of Representatives;
  • Jesse Jackson Sr. – father of junior; civil rights activist; 1984 candidate for President of the United States; stood feet away from Martin Luther King Jr when King was assassinated in 1968

If the game began and ended at halftime, North Carolina Agricultural and Technology University would be the clear winner, but Alcorn State’s history of superior football and great depth of alumni put them over the top in the first  Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.

E-mail Damien at or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Alabama Dominates Florida in 2015 SEC Championship Game

Florida is good, but they weren't today against Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Their offense was non-existent tonight and it shows the disparity between Alabama and everyone else. Buckeyes fans were hopeful that Alabama could be knocked off by Florida but they didn't stand a chance. Frustration came across in the fourth quarter through a pair of personal fouls against the Gators and there was little Jim McElwain could to turn the tide.

Thats really the story of the second half. And the first half.

Florida's sequence of possessions: punt, safety, missed field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, interception, punt.

(I think the Gators just punted again.)

So, while Florida's Jim Mcelwain has certainly earned the Bear Bryant coach of the year award, his Gators simply got their ass kicked by Alabama tonight in Atlanta.

What's next for Alabama?

We'll find out this weekend where and who Alabama will play in the playoff. Unless Clemson loses against North Carolina, I expect Clemson to remain No. 1. That likely means that the Crimson Tide will play in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve.

What's next for Florida?

Florida will likely play in the Sugar Bowl (yes, the best bowl) against a Big 12 team - which at this point has to be TCU.

What felt obvious in the first half is that Florida was happy to be in the game and only in Atlanta to cash a paycheck. But they showed signs of life in the second half, but it was too little too late.

For Ohio State fans they'll need North Carolina to beat Clemson handily to maybe get back into the top four, but the likelihood of that happening appears between slim and none.

Nick Saban solidified his place as the best coach in the modern era, but it would be hard to ignore the likes of Urban Meyer creeping up on him.

Photo: Bird LeCroy/Campus Pressbox

Damien's Top 10: Still Can't Forgive Oklahoma for Losing to Texas

First, I should apologize for my top 10 last week. It was complete trash. That said, here’s this my ballot for the mock playoff committee for week 12:

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Oklahoma State
  4. Ohio State
  5. Iowa
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Florida
  9. Michigan State
  10. Navy

Let’s get right into this. I think it’s safe to say that Clemson and Alabama are the two best teams in the country. The only advantage to being number 1 is that you have your choice of where you’ll play in the semi-final. I don’t see any scenario in which Clemson would opt for the Cotton bowl and I don’t think Alabama fans care about the first round of the playoffs no matter where they play.

Like they care because they’re going to talk trash no matter what, but in general, they only care about championship games.

Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State is good and in my opinion at this point, they’re the best chance for the Big 12 to get a team into the playoff this season. I’ve been the conductor of the Baylor train, but Oklahoma derailed that train last night. And, while Oklahoma State survived against Iowa State last night, they beat Texas (important later) and beat No. 8 Texas Christian. Oklahoma State and 48-year-old Mike Gundy only need to beat Baylor this weekend and Oklahoma on November 28 and I don’t see a scenario in which the Cowboys wouldn’t make the playoff.

Ohio State and Iowa

I’m not afraid to say I’m giving Ohio State the benefit of the doubt. The Buckeyes are arguably the most talented team in the nation, but we’ve only seen flashes of that this season. Buckeyes fans say they’re bored with the competition and will show up when games county. Well, it would be hard to argue they didn’t show up against Illinois. Yes, I know what the halftime score was, but at the end of the day, I think they’re easily one of the best 10 teams in the country.

The difference between them and Iowa is a lot less clear. Ohio State has played no one. Yes, they beat Virginia Tech on the road to open the season, but they didn’t beat No. 19 Wisconsin or No. 20 Northwestern on the road as Iowa did. In my opinion, Iowa and Ohio State are basically the same. Except for those road wins that I talked about.

I think all the speculation about Ohio State’s worth ends after the next two weeks once they play Michigan State this weekend then Michigan on November 28, but until then Iowa and Ohio State – to me – are joined at the hip.

Notre Dame and Oklahoma

This is simple. Notre Dame beat Texas; Oklahoma was destroyed by Texas. Yes, I’ve gotten over Alabama’s loss to now unranked Ole Miss, but I simply cannot forgive Oklahoma for Texas. Oklahoma beating Baylor certainly makes this thought process a bit suspect.

Notre Dame loses spots because Temple lost to South Florida in embarrassing fashion.

In Oklahoma’s defense, if the rankings hold, they will have played five ranked teams.

But that loss to Texas…


First, this is a foreign concept to some people: a service academy that’s good and inside the Top 20. Navy, currently at No. 20, should move higher this week and if we’re going to use ridiculously silly transitive property should be ranked higher than Houston because the Midshipmen destroyed Memphis and Houston merely survived 35-34. The rubber meets the road for this Group of 5 teams on November 27 when the two play at Houston.


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On Steve Spurrier's Immediate Retirement

For months - and probably years - I've speculated that it was time for now former South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier to retire. That probably makes me a bad person, but frankly everyone has a shelf life. Without a doubt Spurrier has been one of my favorite and most entertaining coaches. I'd be lying if I said I remembered his time at Florida and like most fans rarely remember he won the Heisman Trophy in 1966.

Most of us in the younger generation of college football, Spurrier is known for his time at South Carolina, but let's not ignore the fact that he spent a lot of time at Duke, Florida and in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. A few weeks ago, Bird and I were talking about the Head Ball Coach and in all his years of in college football we discovered he'd only had one losing record - his first year at Duke in 1987. His record that year was 5-6.

When Seth (@SMerenbloom) dropped the news of Spurrier's retirement in our super-secret Slack group I can't say I was surprised. In fact, Bird (@Autull) and I both thought either this or next season would be his final year, but he'd find a way to avoid the pomp and circumstance of a farewell tour. Frankly, I didn't expect him to walk into Ran Tanner's office and drop his resignation on his way out the door like an expense report. Say what you want about Spurrier, he does what he want and does it in his own way - results be damned.

Thoughts from around the world of college football:

Dan Wetzel - Yahoo! Sports:

Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage/FOX Sports:

But to our generation of SEC fans he'll always be something more, an icon, a mythic figure from our childhoods who came to personify the game that so many of us grew to love, the fast talking smart aleck Southerner with a droll wit, the man who always had a play guaranteed to get you a first down no matter the down and distance, and the guy who always had an insult at the ready. The only thing faster than Spurrier's wit was his trigger on his quarterbacks. This was a guy so cocky that he switched quarterbacks on every play for an entire game.

Dan Wetzel and Pat Forde on the Wetzel to Forde Podcast:

Will Shelton of Rocky Top Talk:

Some younger fans today don't know what it's like to be up 30-14 in The Swamp and lose 62-37, then finish the year 11-1, then welcome the Gators back to Knoxville with the Vols ranked second in the nation...and fall behind 35-0 in the second quarter. It is still the only time I've left a game before halftime.

Mark Rogers of Last Word on Sports:

Steve Spurrier announced as head football coach for the University of South Carolina:


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Rapid Reaction: Alabama Saves its Dynasty; Destroys Georgia 38-10

Disgustingly ugly is the description I’d use to describe today’s game in Athens, Georgia. Georgia lost and it wasn’t close. The score at halftime was 21-3 and if Alabama’s defense doesn’t fall asleep on one play in the third quarter, there’s little doubt the Bulldogs would have scored a touchdown in the game. By the way, Nick Chubb ran 83-yards for Georgia’s single touchdown.

All this is fine, but really this is all about Georgia. Everyone at the beginning of the week was busy speculating how this could be the end of Alabama’s dynasty. That obviously didn’t work out too well. It also isn’t the end of the road for Georgia. The SEC East is absolute garbage.

Next week, Georgia will head to Knoxville, then back home to face Missouri before the bye week. After the bye week – the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Florida. Those three and the following game versus Kentucky are the only three that matter. Georgia is fine.

Missouri isn’t dead – I just assume I’ll never see Maty Mauk again and we’ll know a lot more about Florida after their game again Ole Miss tonight. Oh, and Will Grier started for Florida. It was nice knowing you too, Treon Harris. Thanks for stopping in.

The road for Alabama is significantly tougher, but after today’s game everything should be a bit clearer. Texas A&M on October 17th, LSU on November 7th in Tuscaloosa, at Mississippi State on November 14th and the Iron Bowl in Auburn on November 28th. You can say whatever you want about Auburn, but the Iron Bowl is no joke.

It never is.

As Bird and I talked about a few weeks ago on the SEC 411, Alabama has never been able to find the stud quarterback who could just walk in and let the world know he’s in charge. I think Jake Coker made the case for himself today. He’s one of the key’s to Alabama’s success. Derrick Henry and Calvin Henry will carry the offense, and if the Tide’s defense continues today’s domination, Alabama won’t have to listen to anyone talk smack about their failing dynasty.

This fan perfectly sums up everyone’s feelings about Mark Richt and his performances in big games. I don’t think there was anything he could have done about today because Alabama had his number from the beginning, but the tweet is appropriate.

I believe tomorrow we’ll find that Alabama makes it way to at least number 7 and Georgia will probably land somewhere in 18-22 range depending on what happens to everyone else. Sure, they could be completely booted from the Associated Press Top 25, but who knows.

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