Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Graduating to a new standard

The matchups are all set for the bowl games that will end the 2006 college football season. But which teams in the Associated Press Top 25 would be the most deserving of the national title game, by the graduation rates of their players?

The answer would not be Ohio State vs. Florida.

It would be Navy vs. Boston College, in my 11th-annual Graduation Gap Bowl.
Those schools have respective National Collegiate Athletic Association graduation success rates of 98 percent and 96 percent.

To be fair, Florida is no slouch. It ranks sixth in graduation rates among the AP teams, at 80 percent. But it is one of only two Top 10 teams to also be in the Top 10 in the classroom. Michigan is the other team, but its 71 percent graduation rate cuts down the middle of a horrible gap between white players (91 percent) and black players (50 percent). Ohio State is tied for 23rd at 55 percent. Check out the comparisons below.

Top 25 Graduation Rates

Team Players' graduation %
1. Navy 98
2. Boston College 96
3. Notre Dame 95
4. Wake Forest 93
5. Nebraska 88
6. Florida 80
7. Penn State 80
8. Texas Christian 78
9. Virginia Tech 74
10. Michigan 71
11. South Florida 66
12. Boise State 65
13. Maryland 64
14. South Carolina 64
15. Auburn 63
16. Texas A&M 63
17. West Virginia 63
18. Wisconsin 62
19. Oregon State 60
20. UCLA 59
21. Rutgers 58
22. Tennessee 58
23. Arkansas 55
24. Georgia Tech 55
25. OSU and USC 55
Barely passing graduation rates in the AP rankings: Brigham Young 53, Louisville 53, Oklahoma 52, Houston 51.
Teams that should be dropped from bowls on overall graduation success rates:
Hawaii 49, LSU 49, California 44, Georgia 41, Texas 40.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

USC Number 2 in new BCS

Southern California's championship hopes just got a lot brighter, as it jumped in front of idle Michigan to capture the No. 2 slot in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll.

The upward vault comes on the heels of USC's convincing 44-24 win over Notre Dame at the Coliseum on Saturday night. The Irish tumbled six spots to No. 12 as a result of that loss.

Ohio State (12-0), which completed its regular season with a memorable win over Michigan on November 18, received all 65 first-place votes to retain the top spot for the 14th straight week.
Florida (11-1) stayed in the fourth position following its narrow 21-14 victory over Florida State, and LSU moved up four spots to No. 5 after edging Arkansas on Friday.

Louisville, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Boise State round out the top 10.
Nevada was considered Boise State's biggest challenge on the schedule by many, but the Broncos (12-0) rolled to an easy 38-7 win this past week.

Auburn starts the second 10 and is followed by Notre Dame, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

The Scarlet Knights (10-1) rebounded from their surprising loss to Cincinnati by dropping Syracuse this week, and can capture the Big East title with a win over West Virginia on Saturday.
Wake Forest came in at 16 while Tennessee and Texas share the 17th position. The Longhorns (9-3) fell six spots after losing to Texas A&M. The Aggies, meanwhile, went from not being ranked to securing the 22nd position. Nebraska and BYU complete the top 20.

The final five teams in the AP poll this week are California, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Hawaii and Boston College.

Clemson, which was ranked 24th, fell out of the poll after a loss to South Carolina.

The Sports Network

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Schiano, Alvarez among top candidates for Miami coaching job

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — University of Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon wasn't ready to talk about it.

Former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez is in the area. His interest is unclear.

Meanwhile, names like Rutgers' Greg Schiano are bandied about.

Miami coach Larry Coker's long-awaited firing took place Friday. In between reasons for making a change, Miami athletic director Paul Dee also took questions on what the school is looking for in a successor.

"We will begin working on this right away," Dee said. "Our hope would be to have a coach as soon as (possible). But given the circumstances of bowl games and the like it might be a little longer than we otherwise would have taken."

Dee said school officials will consult with Chuck Neinas, 74, former Big Eight Conference commissioner and Executive Director of the College Football Association.
Neinas Sports Services — a one-person consulting company — has conducted about 50 searches, which have included hires at Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Missouri, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan and Nebraska. He commands from $10,000 to $40,000 for his services.

With Neinas known to work secretly on bringing talented applicants to schools, there may be some surprise candidates.

Dee did say that Shannon, whom Coker hired as a defensive coordinator, is a possible candidate. Miami's defenses regularly have ranked in the nation's top 10 each of his six seasons, and this season Miami set a regular-season school record by allowing just 66 yards rushing per game.
"I'm not talking about (the job) right now," Shannon said. "I'm just worried about the recruits. We gotta get that handled, calling the kids."

That is important because Demarcus VanDyke, a 6-foot-1, 163-pound defensive back/wide receiver from a Miami-area high school, withdrew his commitment to Miami once he heard Coker was fired. He now is considering Florida and Ohio State.

Earlier this week, Alvarez was in Miami, according to employees who work at the Ritz-Carlton. Alvarez also has a Naples condo, which he's staying at this weekend. He didn't return a message left at the front desk of his condo.

In his recently released book Don't Flinch, Alvarez said Miami contacted him twice about its coaching openings in 1995 and 2001. When Dee offered him $1.4 million to be coach, Alvarez wrote in his book, "I was thinking a little north of that number."

Dee said he'd get back to him. Alvarez later wrote he couldn't believe he told Dee that.
Schiano appears to be the popular choice but there's a question whether he might want the Penn State job more when Joe Paterno retires. Rutgers (9-1) also is having a season for the ages and has two games left plus a bowl game.

Rutgers officials reportedly are prepared to offer him an extension, which could go as high as $22 million for 10 years.

Other candidates include:

• LSU offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jimbo Fisher. Miami is familiar with him after LSU beat the Hurricanes 40-3 last season. Friday, LSU beat Arkansas 31-26.

• TCU coach Gary Patterson, who's used to working in a bigger TV market in Dallas. While TCU (8-2) won't reach a goal of a BCS game, the Horned Frogs have a chance at a fourth 10-win season under Patterson, who is 51-20 in six seasons.

• West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez, who has brought the Mountaineers (9-1) back to national prominence. However, there's a question of whether the West Virginia native would want to leave and he's also due a big raise.

• Tulsa's Steve Kragthorpe also is another candidate.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, a former Miami quarterback, and Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, a former Miami assistant, told ESPN they are not interested in the job. Steve Spurrier, responding to Internet reports, said last Sunday he will remain at South Carolina.

"It's the best job in the country," Dee said about the Miami position, noting the five national titles won under four different coaches. "This is as fine a job as you can have, because when the success comes, the success is tremendous. It's a hard job. This is not a job for the feeble. This is a job for somebody that likes coaching college football, that is excited by college football. I think this is a wonderful job for whoever wishes to take it and we can attract."

By Craig Handel, The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dolphins Look at ex-Navy Star

Former Navy fullback Kyle Eckel, who faced a five-year military commitment when he graduated in 2005, is practicing with the Miami Dolphins.

The Navy Times, a weekly newspaper, reports Eckel was "kicked out" of the Navy. The Navy Office of Information says he was "administratively separated" Oct. 31 and will not disclose the reason because of "personal privacy."

Lt. Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman, said Tuesday, "His discharge was not related to his pursuit of a football career." He said Eckel owes the Navy $96,229.56 to repay a portion of the educational costs.

Eckel was in 2005 training camp with the New England Patriots (using military leave). After being waived, he was claimed by the Dolphins, who put him on the "reserve/military" list. They moved him Nov. 2 to the "exempt/commissioner's permission" list, which could enable him to practice without counting on the 53-man roster.

The Miami Herald on Tuesday quoted Eckel, "I was given the opportunity to submit a letter of resignation, which was accepted."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Big East Could Land Two Teams in Top Bowls

The Big East Conference has fallen out of the race for the national championship, but an enticing prize is still within reach. If Louisville and West Virginia win their remaining games, the league could put two teams in Bowl Championship Series games for the first time.

West Virginia is seventh and Louisville ninth in the current BCS standings. Winning out would leave both the Mountaineers and Cardinals 11-1 and would require WVU defeating No. 14 Rutgers on Dec. 2. Louisville would claim the conference crown (and automatic BCS berth) by virtue of its win against West Virginia.

But West Virginia could have enough strength to be picked ahead of the loser of fourth-ranked Florida vs. sixth-ranked Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference championship game, either of which will have at least two losses.

BOWL PREDICTIONS: Complete 2006 lineup

"Without studying it closely, I know there is a chance for two Big East teams," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday. "A few years ago we weren't considered worthy of one spot."

The conference took a big hit when perennial powers Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech and Boston College left for the Atlantic Coast Conference. But the addition of Louisville and the resurgence of league originals WVU and Rutgers have helped the Big East rebound.

"Putting two teams in BCS bowls would put to rest a lot of questions about the viability of the Big East as a conference, not only in terms of how competitive we are but how attractive our teams are in the marketplace both to the bowls and television," said Nick Carparelli, the league's assistant commissioner for football. "We were left dead and buried two years ago and took a huge step forward this season. There are more steps to take, but we've moved a little quicker than we expected."

Because of the way the guaranteed spots could play out, there might be only one at-large bid available among the five BCS games. Decisions will be finalized Dec. 3. A breakdown:

Ohio State and Southern California are in at least the Rose Bowl, but realistically Ohio State is in the Tostitos BCS Championship on Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz., by virtue of its No. 1 BCS standing.

Should analysts be correct in predicting USC would move to the No. 2 BCS spot by defeating Notre Dame and UCLA, that would put the Trojans in the title game. The Rose Bowl then would have lost both anchor teams the Big Ten and Pacific-10 champs. The Rose can fill its slots first from the at-large pool but after anchor teams for the other bowls are decided: SEC winner to the Sugar, Big 12 winner to the Fiesta and ACC winner to the Orange.

Based on tradition, the Rose certainly would pick Michigan of the Big Ten. At worst, the Wolverines will be among those eligible to be selected (at least nine victories and at least 14th in the BCS standings). If they are third in the BCS standings as an at-large (with conference member Ohio State the automatic), the Wolverines also would be an automatic selection. They could even be automatic as the No. 4 BCS team.

As for the other Rose spot, Notre Dame looms, and the Irish are always attractive for any bowl. They are assured of a BCS bid by being in the top eight of the final BCS. Should they lose to USC, the Irish might fall below No. 8, knocking them from automatic but keeping them eligible. The Rose would have to decide if it wants a rematch of Michigan's win at Notre Dame in September or a team from the East such as West Virginia or Florida, should they be available, or even a 10-2 LSU.

After the Rose Bowl fills both its spots, the other three BCS games can pick their teams from the at-large pool and Big East winner. By rule, the selection order is based on the dates closest to the title game: Allstate Sugar (Jan. 3) goes first, then FedEx Orange (Jan. 2) and Tostitos Fiesta (Jan. 1).

The at-large pool could have some interesting teams. BCS No. 11 Boise State is guaranteed a spot if it finishes in the top 12 thanks to a new inclusion rule designed to help teams outside the big six leagues. The Tostitos Fiesta on Jan. 1 is the most likely destination.

The Big East champ would be Louisville if it wins out and West Virginia beats Rutgers. That leaves an exciting 11-1 West Virginia offense available possibly as high as BCS No. 5.

The loser of the SEC title game will have at least two losses. LSU, No. 10 in the BCS, already has two losses.

The only other one-loss team in the top 10 under that scenario would be Wisconsin. By rule, no conference can have three teams in BCS games, so the Big Ten's Badgers (11-1) would be out.

Another possibility, though unlikely, could scramble the picture. Provisions exist for bowls and leagues to make deals that move anchor teams to create more attractive matchups or avoid rematches. Would the Sugar Bowl want local favorite LSU (if it beats Arkansas) enough to make a deal for the Orange to take possible SEC champ Florida? And if Boise loses to Nevada ...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Phillies Ryan Howard wins NL MVP Award

NEW YORK - Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player on Monday after leading the majors in home runs and RBIs, beating out the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols for the honor.

Howard received 20 first-place votes and 12 seconds for 388 points in balloting by a panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Pujols got 12 firsts, 19 seconds and one third for 347 points.

Howard, the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year, had 58 homers and 149 RBIs while batting .313. He had the most homers in the major leagues since Barry Bonds hit a record 73 in 2001.

He set Phillies records for home runs and RBIs, producing the highest totals in those categories in big league history for a second-year player. Twenty-three of Howard's homers put the Phillies ahead and five tied games. The Phillies went 32-18 in games in which he homered.

Pujols, who hit .331 with 49 homers and 137 RBIs, defeated Atlanta's Andruw Jones 378-351 in last year's voting after finishing second in 2002 and 2003. Stan Musial and Ted Williams (four times each) are the only players to finish second more often than Pujols, who matched three-time AL MVP Mickey Mantle with three second-place finishes.

Pujols was third in the NL in batting average behind Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez and Florida's Miguel Cabrera, and second to Howard in homers and RBIs.

Stan Musial (four times), Ted Williams (four times) are the only players to finish second more often than Pujols, who matched three-time AL MVP Mickey Mantle with three second-place finishes.

Houston's Lance Berkman was third with 230 points, followed by the New York Mets' Carlos Beltran (211), Cabrera (170) and Washington's Alfonso Soriano (106) who on Sunday reached a preliminary agreement on an eight-year contract with the Chicago Cubs worth about $136 million.

Pujols gets a $100,000 bonus for finishing second, Berkman $250,000 for placing third and Beltran $200,000 for winding up fourth.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

McNabb Out for the Year

USA Today reports that Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb will miss the rest of the year because of a torn ligament in his right knee, ending his season early for the third time in five years.
McNabb was carted off the field early in the second quarter of Philadelphia's loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
The Eagles said McNabb tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
"That's normally an eight month to a year injury, so he's done for the year," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Navy Grounds the Owls

To the casual observer, Saturday afternoon's match up between Navy (7-3) and Temple (1-10) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium might have been a ho-hum affair. No one told that to Navy's 35 seniors or the rest of the Midshipmen who rolled to a 42-6 victory over Temple.

33,927 fans watched Navy use a total team effort from the opening kickoff to overwhelm the Owls and jump out to a 35-0 halftime lead. Navy's defense came ready to play limiting the Temple offense to just 13 yards rushing and 83 total yards in the first half. Navy's top ranked rushing offense was clicking on all cylinders amassing 263 yards rushing and 298 total yards in the half.

Navy finished the game with 420 yards rushing for the day and 455 total yards.

The victory broke a two game home losing streak. The Mids haven't lost two consecutive games in Annapolis since the 2002 season when they went 0-5 at home.

Navy's offense continued their efficient style by scoring a touchdown on their opening drive of the game. That TD, an eight yard scamper by backup quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, was the ninth consecutive scoring drive resulting in a touchdown for the Mids' first team offense. Navy never relinquished the lead.

Navy's seniors and their parents were honored before the game in what was their final game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Special teams senior standout Anthony Piccioni had mixed feelings about today's game.

"To be honest, it hasn't really hit me yet. I've tried not to think about it because it hurts too much to think all of this is going to be gone," Piccioni said. "We've all put our whole heart and soul into this program. Along the way, we've had so many good times together. I just can't imagine what it's going to be like without football and these guys."

Piccioni's father, Sam, tries hard not to think about what the future holds for his son. "With the Iraq situation, it's tough on Naval Academy parents. We've said a lot of prayers recently."

The same holds true for all parents of not only Navy football players, but also those from Army and Air Force.

Navy head coach Paul Johnson decided to use two different 12th Mids to cover kicks during Saturday's game.

Rich Lippincott and Clint Desjarlais alternated on the kick off team had the honor of wearing number 12, as 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach has given his permission for his number to be unretired once per year for the 12th Mid. Neither player was in on a tackle.

Navy will next face Army in two weeks at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Mids have already accepted a bid to play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte against an ACC team.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Schembechler dies after collapsing during television show

Former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler died Friday, according to Southfield authorities.
Mike Dowd, chief investigator with the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office, confirmed he died at 11:42 a.m.
He was transported to Providence Hospital after a medical emergency Friday morning, a Southfield Police Department official has said.

Detective John Harris said Southfield officers escorted an ambulance carrying Schembechler to Providence Hospital at about 9:30 a.m. Medical personnel were called to WXYZ-TV in Southfield after Schembechler apparently suffered a medical problem.

Around noon, friends and family continued to arrive at Providence Hospital, including former U-M coach Gary Moeller and U-M football color commentator and former player Jim Brandstatter. Security guards led them inside.

At Schembechler's Ann Arbor home, where two American flags hung outside the garage, a family friend who would not give her name, said: "It wasn't time for him to go. He wasn't ready. He knew that he had a problem with his heart, but he wasn't ready to give up."

She said Schembechler's wife, Cathy, was on her way back to Ann Arbor from Providence Hospital.
Friday's incident was the second time that Schembechler collapsed while taping the Big Ten show at WXYZ-TV studios in Southfield. The first occurred in October when he experienced dizziness and other symptoms before taping his weekly show.

He was admitted to the cardiovascular unit of the University of Michigan Hospital where he had a procedure done in which a small device was installed in his chest to help regulate his heartbeat. The device is designed to help Schembechler's heart pump more efficiently and prevent possible heart-related crises. It combines a pacemaker, which regulates the heartbeat, with a defibrillator, which can shock the heart back into rhythm.

He remained at the hospital for a few days.
The seven-time Big Ten coach of the year compiled a 194-48-5 record at Michigan from 1969-89. Schembechler's record in 26 years of coaching was 234-64-8.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Panthers Host Juniata Valley

NBC hosts 3-1 Juniata Valley Friday night. The Panthers look to build on last week's win over Everett.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Navy 7, Tulsa 7

Tulsa's Paul Smith hit Ryan Bugg for a 34 yard TD pass to tie the Midshipmen 7-7. The Golden Hurricane's drive went for 80 yards on 10 plays and eclipsed 4:50. Smith is 10-13-175-1 for the game. Navy's defense surrendered just their second TD in the last 9 quarters. With 6:15 left in the first half it's Navy 7, Tulsa 7.

Navy 7, Tulsa 0

Shun White capped off a 6 play, 61 yard drive with a career high 28 yard carry for a TD in front of 31,604 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy leads 7-0 with under 11 minutes left in the second quarter.

Navy 0, Tulsa 0

At the end of the first quarter Navy and Tulsa are tied at 0. Navy has held the Golden Hurricane to no points with two trips into the red zone. Coming into today's game Tulsa has been 11-11 from the red zone.

Navy Looks to go 4-0

The Midshipmen look to improve to 4-0 for just the second time in the last 27 years as they host Tulsa this afternoon in Annapolis.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Panthers Fall to 1-1 on the Season

ORBISONIA — Coming off its convincing win last week over Williamsburg, the Northern Bedford Black Panthers made the trip to the lower end of Huntingdon County to take on longtime rival Southern Huntingdon.

The Rockets were also winners a week ago and were hoping their home opener would produce the same results. The Inter-County Conference South Division matchup looked good on paper, but the Rockets used a high-flying aerial attack in the first half and a hard-hitting ground game in the second to send NBC home with a 48-13 loss.

‘‘The better team won tonight,’’ Northern Bedford coach Dan Foor said. ‘‘I’m not disappointed in the way our kids played tonight.’’

Southern Huntingdon (2-0, 1-0 ICC) wasted little time in getting into the end zone. The Rockets set up shop at its own 32 and immediately started throwing the ball.

Senior quarterback Tyler Mansberger connected on four passes to get the Rockets inside the 5-yard line. Troy Hoover plowed his way through the Northern defense for a 3-yard touchdown run.

Northern eventually answered that score when Myles Crawford plunged in from the 1. At the initial contact, it looked as if Crawford was stopped short of the goal line, however, Crawford was able to wiggle his way into the end zone.

‘‘We had some momentum heading into the second quarter,’’ Foor said. ‘‘We had a couple off passes that were just inches out of our reach. From there, it just snowballed.‘‘

Southern took over with just 1:27 left in the quarter and chewed up the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second en route to its second touchdown. Mansberger hit Corey Knepper with a pass that went 8 yards for the score.

Northern tried to keep in stride with the Rockets as they proceeded downfield once again. However, the drive stalled, and the Black Panthers were forced to punt. Huston Klotz was back in punt formation and took the ball from center and sprinted to the far sideline, in hopes of making the first down. Unfortunately, for the Black Panthers, Klotz was stopped a yard short.

‘‘We had a wide receiver on our side of the field that was wide open and nobody was covering him, and before we could get Tyler to change the play, he was off and running.‘‘

Southern then controlled the rest of the game.


Northern Bedford      6  0   7  0 — 13
Southern Huntingdon 7 20 13 8 — 48

First Quarter

SH — Hoover 1 run (Gaston kick), 10:20
NB — Crawford 1 run (kick blocked), 1:33

Second Quarter

SH — Knepper 5 pass from Mansberger (Gaston kick), 8:08
SH — Hoover 1 run (Gaston kick), 3:40
SH — Crull 35 pass from Mansberger, (rush failed), 1:45

Third Quarter

SH — Hoover 5 run (Almeida kick), 8:11
NB — Klotz 66 pass from Love (Hagleberger kick), 5:13
SH — Crull 31 pass from Mansberger (kick failed), 2:36

Fourth Quarter

SH — Plummer 5 run (Knepper pass from Mansberger), 5:11.


RUSHING — Northern Bedford - Crawford 13-33; Riley 3-29; Cogan 2-1; Feathers 1-8. Southern Huntingdon — Hoover 25-154; Hall 5-45; Plummer 8-34; Mansberger 3-4; Gaston 1-4.

PASSING - Northern Bedford — Love 5-12-1-141; Cottle 1-1-0-5. Southern Huntingdon — Mansberger 14-20-3-225.

RECEIVING- Northern Bedford — Klotz 2-109; Riley 1-12; Boyd 1-22; Grace 1-5. Southern Huntingdon — Crull 5-105; Hall 2-34; Knepper 3-33; Yohn 2-26; Hoover 1-23; Shade 1-4.

From the Altoona Mirror

Friday, September 08, 2006

Aeros push Curve to brink of elimination with 12-0 win

AKRON, OH   The Akron Aeros delivered an early knockout punch to the Curve in Game Two of the E.L. Southern Division Playoff Series Thursday night in Akron, scoring eleven times in the first inning en route to a 12-0 shutout victory. Altoona has dropped the first two games of the best-of-five series, allowing 24 total runs in the losses.

Josh Shortslef entered his start against the Aeros on Thursday with a 1-0 record against the Southern Division champs and no earned runs allowed in six innings. He left the game after recording just two outs and allowing eight earned runs on seven hits.

The left-hander lost for just the third time in 2006, and the early meltdown marked just the second time all season he allowed an earned run in the first inning.

Akron scored all of their first-inning runs with two outs, and used nine hits and three walks to take a strangle hold on the game in just their first at-bat. Jared Sandberg ripped a three-run homer after a walk by Brandon Pinckney and a single by Ryan Goleski to make it 4-0.

Following base hits by the next four batters, Shortslef was taken out of the game in favor of reliever Chris Hernandez. The right-hander walked the first two Aeros he faced, then surrendered a grand slam to Brian Barton to make it 11-0.

The Curve never seriously threatened in the ball game, spreading out nine hits during the contest, but placing only six runners in scoring position.

Southpaw Aaron Laffey picked up the victory, throwing six shutout innings and racking up nine strikeouts.
Javier Guzman was the only Curve player with a multi-hit game, finishing 4-for-5 with a double, the only extra base hit for Altoona. Neil Walker was one of five other Curve players with a hit, joined by Brian Bixler, Pedro Powell, Brett Roneberg, Octavio Martinez.

The Curve used a total of six pitchers, and kept the Aeros off the scoreboard after allowing the big first inning, giving up just two Akron hits in their last seven at-bats.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brandon Bowser Named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Second Team

NEW ORLEANS University of New Orleans junior outfielder Brandon Bowser earned recognition Thursday by being named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VI second team in a vote of sports information representatives from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Bowser, a native of Roaring Spring, Pa., holds a 3.76 in mechanical engineering at UNO and made the President’s List in his first two semesters at UNO last season. Bowser, as well as the rest of his Privateer baseball teammates, spent the fall at New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M.

On the field, Bowser is hitting. 322 with two home runs and 31 runs batted in 46 games played (44 starts), to go along with a team-best 15 doubles, a triple and 25 stolen bases. Last season, Bowser was the Louisiana Newcomer of the Year as well as earning second team All-Sun Belt honors. The centerfielder for the Privateers was a preseason all-league pick this season.

Here is a list of the first and second team winners:

FIRST TEAM: pitchers Edward Degerman, Rice; Brooks Dunn, Mississippi State; catcher Zach Dillon, Baylor; infielders Ryan Rohlinger, Oklahoma; Marc Maddox, Southern Miss; Jason Long, New Mexico State; Mark Hamilton, Tulane; Ian Hollick, New Mexico; outfielders Drew Stubbs, Texas; Aaron Ivey, Oklahoma, Jacob Stover, UALR; Utility/DH Chris Carlson, New Mexico.

SECOND TEAM: pitchers Craig Crow, Rice; Trey Holloway and Charley Boyce, Arkansas; catcher Brian Walker, Arkansas; infielders Brian Friday, and Joe Savery, Rice; Trey Sutton, Southern Miss; outfielders Bowser, UNO; Drew Holder, Dallas Baptist; Tyler Henley, Rice; Michael McKennon, Texas-San Antonio; Utility/DH Jeff Mandel, Baylor.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Panther Coach Defeats Mentor

By Matt Adamiak

BEDFORD - Northern Bedford High School baseball coach Scott Burda is a
1994 graduate of Portage High School, and played baseball there for
current Mustangs coach Larry McCabe.

On Monday evening, Burda's squad got the best of his mentor's team,
defeating the Mustangs, 7-4, in the first round of the PIAA Class A
playoffs at Bedford High School.

Portage finished its season at 15-9. The Black Panthers improved to
17-6, and will meet Christopher Dock Thursday.

''I have mixed emotions,'' Burda said. ''I know some of the players on
their team (Portage), and I hate to see them lose. But I bleed black,

"My hat goes off to Scotty, because he's a total class-act,'' McCabe
said. ''I love the way he coaches. I'm so proud of him."

With a 1-0 lead, the Black Panthers scored four runs, while sending nine
batters to the plate, in the bottom of the second inning. Dylan
Snowberger's two-run single plated Ethan Boy and Ian Feathers
highlighted the scoring.

In the top of the third inning with one out, the lightning and rain
came, and the game was delayed for 58 minutes. When the game resumed,

Panthers pitcher Kellen Stiffler returned and threw 3 2/3 scoreless
innings, until he was finally scored on when Eric Dividock scored Ray
George on a sacrifice fly. Stiffler carried a no-hitter into the top of
the sixth when George finally broke it up with a single.

''He (Stiffler) was able to locate his fastball tonight, and his
curveball came along in the middle innings,'' Burda said.
''He still looked really good after the first delay. I couldn't ask for
anything more from Kellen tonight.''

In the bottom half of the sixth, No. 9 hitter - Justin Claar - hit a
two-out solo home run over the left centerfield screen to give the Black
Panthers a 7-1 lead. Immediately after the homer, the lightning and rain
forced a 40-minute delay. When the rain and lightning let up, the
Mustangs came to the plate in the seventh, and every player turned their
cap inside out. They were able to get to Stiffler a bit, scoring three
runs, thanks to RBIs from Dividock and Martella. But it was too little,
too late.

''They wanted to put on our rally caps, and I thought we made a
statement in the seventh inning,'' McCabe said. ''We showed that the
game wasn't over yet.''

Stiffler allowed just six hits and four runs, while striking out five
and walking just two. Oberman, Snowberger and Claar each had a pair of
hits for the Black Panthers.

PORTAGE (4): Dividock 2b 301, Murphy cf 400, Bilchak 3b 211, McCabe c
311, Spaid 1b 300, Martella dh 311, Maul p 000, Bandzuh p 000, Kiell rf
301, George lf 311, Petryshak ss 200. Totals - 26 4 6.

NORTHERN BEDFORD (7): Oberman ss 412, Bowser cf 300, Weber lf 210,
Wagner 1b 301, Stiffler p 000, Boyd dh 210, I. Feathers 3b 210,
Snowberger c 302, D. Feathers cr 010, Hart rf 310, Claar 2b 312. Totals
- 25 7 7.

Score by Innings

Portage 000 001 3 - 4 6 4

Northern Bedford 140 011 X - 7 7 1

E - Petryshak 2, Maul, Bilchak, Oberman. 2B - Martella. HR - Claar. Sac
bunt - I. Feathers. SF - Dividock. HBP - Weber. DP - Portage 1, Northern
Bedford 1. WP - Stiffler. LP - Maul. SO - Maul 4, Stiffler 5. BB - Maul
1, Stiffler 2.

Records: Portage (15-9); Northern Bedford (17-6).

Monday, June 05, 2006

Panthers 'Love' Their Pitching

By Philip Cmor

FISHERTOWN From catcher Dylan Snowberger’s description, Northern Bedford pitcher John Love almost morphed into a cartoon character as the screamer off the bat of Matt Stahl scorched directly at him.

“His eyes got really big,’’ Snowberger said through his laughter.

Eyes wide open, Love knocked the ball down, gathered himself, picked it up, jogged toward first and then flipped the it to Steve Wagner for the final out in what was eye-opening pitching performance of his own.

Love held previously-unbeaten Meyersdale’s powerful offense scoreless for the first six innings on a pair of hits as his Black Panthers captured the District 5 Class A baseball championship, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon at Chestnut Ridge High School.

Dan Oberman homered, scored Northern’s third run and drove in the fourth to help the Panthers raise their record to 16-6. NBC will play District 6 runnerup Portage Monday at Bedford High School in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs. The Panthers built a 4-0 lead before Drew Wiltrout’s two run homer brought Meyersdale within two.

With the tying run on first, though, Love struck out Jeff Miller and fielded Stahl’s hard hit to end it. A physically-imposing junior right-hander, Love finished with a four-hitter.

“I was nervous. I wouldn’t admit it, but I was definitely nervous coming into the game,’’ Love said. “I was just throwing strikes with my fastball, really. They were hitting it, and my defense was making plays. My curveball was working, but I basically stayed with fastballs.’’

Meyersdale entered the game 23-0, averaging more than 10 runs and never having scored fewer than five before yesterday. But Love only needed 65 pitches to get through the first six innings, although he allowed three walks in that span.

Red Raider coach John Wiltrout hadn’t been expecting to face Love. He thought NBC coach Scott Burda would throw Wagner, another big righty.

“Our scouting report said Wagner, Love and (Kellen) Stiffler were all very similar,’’ Wiltrout said. “Pitching was irrelevant in our scouting report, although it didn’t turn out to be irrelevant today.’’

Stiffler had two-hit Conemaugh Township in the semifinals Thursday
in fact, NBC pitching allowed just three hits between the first inning of that game and the seventh inning of the championship.

“John and Kellen (Stiffler) have probably been our two most consistent pitchers all season, so it wasn’t that much of a decision to go with Johnny. The last few weeks, he’s probably been throwing the best out of everybody, and Kellen threw (Thursday),’’ Panther coach Scott Burda said.

Before the seventh, Love’s biggest trouble came in the fourth, when Bobby Hartman singled to lead off and got to third on a groundout and a wild pitch. Love, though, fanned Adam Horning and got Drew Wiltrout to fly out to emerge unscathed.

Love also benefitted from a lot of solid defense. The Panthers didn’t commit an error, and second baseman Justin Claar and left fielder Luke Weber both made a pair of nice catches on well-hit balls.

“The pitching’s been there all year, but the defense is really coming around,’’ Snowberger said.

“We just wanted to get outs,’’ Oberman said. “The big thing was to get outs. We had a cushion, and we used it.’’

Oberman played a big part in getting the Panthers that cushion. With his team holding a 1-0 lead after Claar singled in Zach Hart, Northern’s diminutive shortstop stepped to the plate and drove an 0-1 Stahl offering over the fence in right-center.

“I never hit a home run before. I think the wind got ahold of it. I never hit one in little league, either,’’ Oberman said. “I was just trying to hit it, to make contact.’’

NBC added important insurance runs in the sixth and seventh to send the Panthers to their first district title since 2000, when they also beat Meyersdale 4-2 in the final. It’s Northern’s fifth championship in the last 20 years.

“It’s a great feeling,’’ Burda said. “This has been a long time coming for Northern Bedford. We’ve always been a good baseball program, and it feels good to restore the team to that stature.’’

“I thought we might get this far, and I was hoping I would be the one to take it all the way,’’ Love said. “It’s all for the seniors. I just wanted to give back to them.’’

Game notes: Stahl pitched a six-hitter. He struck out nine, five of those coming on the first time through the order. ... Burda is a 1994 Portage grad and played for current Mustang coach Larry McCabe. ... This will be a rematch of a game from Portage’s tournament. The Mustangs defeated the Panthers on May 7.

NORTHERN BEDFORD (4): Oberman ss 322, Bowser cf 300, Weber lf 300, Wagner 1b 201, Love p 000, Boyd dh 301, I. Feathers 3b 300, Snowberger c 100, D. Feathers cr 000, Hart rf 210, Claar 2b 211, Brown ph 101. Totals

MEYERSDALE (2): R. Donaldson rf 300, Miller cf 200, Stahl p 401, Hetz 3b 300, Hartman dh 301, Haulk lf 000, Hersch 1b 300, A. Horning c 200, Walker cr 010, Wiltrout ss 211, M. Donaldson 2b 301. Totals


Northern Bedford 002 001 1
4 6 0

Meyersdale 000 000 2
2 4 2

Stahl, Hersch. DPMeyersdale 1. LOBNorthern Bedford 4, Meyersdale 7. 2BBoyd. HROberman, Wiltrout. RBIClaar, Oberman 2, Wagner, Wiltrout 2. SACBowser. CSHart, D. Feathers.


Northern Bedford: Love (W)
7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 SO.

Meyersdale: Stahl (L)
7 IP, 6 H, 4 R 4 ER, 6 BB, 9 SO.

Love 3.

Records: Northern Bedford (16-6); Meyersdale (23-1).

Umpires: Leon Cardiff (plate), Doug Williams (first), Ross Shinow (second), John Nakich (third).

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Navy Nails Down Agreement With Bowl Game in Charlotte

Navy football officials reached a deal for another bowl game tie-in yesterday and could announce one more in the near future, Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk said.

Gladchuk said Navy will play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte if it wins at least six games this fall and is negotiating with officials from the Insight Bowl to guarantee the Midshipmen will head to Tempe, Ariz., if they are bowl eligible in 2008.

Under the deal with the Meineke bowl, the Midshipmen or the third selection from the Big East Conference will face an ACC team on Dec. 30 at Bank of America Stadium.

Navy also holds the option of playing in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego anytime it has a winning season in 2008, 2009 or 2010, and Gladchuk said he plans to meet with Poinsettia Bowl officials with the hopes of landing a spot in the 2007 game.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Rule Tackles Blowouts In High School Football

Expect New London High School football coach Jack Cochran to operate next season as he always has, and if that means his team wins by 50 points or more, so be it. And expect Cochran to be suspended for doing so.

In what some are referring to as the "Cochran rule," the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference football committee passed a score management policy to be instituted next season. The rule says if a team wins by 50 or more points, the coach is suspended for the next game.

Although many have accused Cochran of running up scores, he doesn't see it that way. And he doesn't like this rule. On that point, he has company.

"It won't change anything with how I prepare for a game," Cochran said. "Where it's going to run into problems is when you've got your second team in or you've got your freshmen in; what do you tell them? One coach is saying he's just going to have his guys take a knee. I would never do that. I would never tell a kid to run out of bounds instead of scoring.

"I will probably have to take a suspension next year. If it comes down to letting a freshman or a [junior varsity] player score at the varsity level or me being suspended, I'm not going to stop that kid from doing that. I cherish the sport too much and believe in it too much to tell some kid he can't play the game the right way."

The rule, passed in April, says if a team wins by 50 points or more it will be called an unsportsmanlike act. Under the CIAC's disqualification rule, the coach will be suspended for the next game. The football committee is made up of coaches and school administrators, all formerly involved in coaching."

Our football committee has been discussing this topic for two or three years and they've been studying policies," said CIAC Assistant Executive Director Tony Mosa. "It certainly didn't just come about after last year. We certainly have been having a lot of criticism regarding what appeared to be a high number of high scores."

Mosa said 12 games last season had a differential of more than 55 points."

That's really not an exorbitant number, but 12 is too many," Mosa said.

Of the 659 games reported to the CIAC last year, there were 27 in which teams won by at least 50 points. Cochran's New London team won four games by 55 or more, including a 90-0 victory over Griswold."

The CIAC is sending the wrong message," Cochran said. "It's protectionism of those that can't compete. Do you tell people at work that everyone has to make the same amount of money and they can't succeed? This is about teaching kids to work hard and that success will come. For a lot of guys out there, when they get beat handily it makes them stronger and they go back and work harder."

Some states use a system that calls for a running clock when a team has reached a certain advantage. Although Connecticut has no rule that allows a running clock, many coaches employ the practice in blowouts."

I had a season where I had seven games where the clock was run in the second half. It works," Cochran said. "The problem with that is sometimes opponents won't do it. The Griswold coach [Glenn LaBossiere] wouldn't do it with me last year. But I've very rarely had a coach that didn't want to do that."

Mosa said the running clock system was something the football committee saw as prohibitive to giving second- and third-string players the chance to play.

"You do that and the game is over before anybody can even get in," Mosa said.

The rule applies only to the final score. A team could be leading 55-0 and back off defensively so that its opponent could score a touchdown that prevents a coach's suspension.

Tim Panteleakos, coach of the Tourtellotte (Thompson)/Ellis Tech (Danielson) co-op team, sees putting in a rule to thwart running up the score as a double-edged sword.

Panteleakos, who has coached the co-op team since its inception in 2000, was charged last season with breach of peace after having words with Cochran as they were leaving the field at halftime of a game in New London. Panteleakos said he was angered when Cochran used a timeout late in the half so his team could score more points. New London won, 60-0.

"I think it's a very progressive rule," Panteleakos said. "You really have to adhere to scoring management. It's not something that when you come in as a young coach that you're really aware of because you just want your kids to succeed."

But Panteleakos sees problems with the rule, too.

"We had a small school like Putnam on our schedule last year, and they're experiencing some problems with numbers and that sort of thing," Panteleakos said. "Putnam didn't have enough kids to go to a second string. So now you've got a few kids on that field from Putnam that are getting their butts whipped week in and week out and they're angry young men. Now me, as the head coach on the other side, I'm reluctant to put some of my second and third string in against a kid on the other side who is going to take the head off of any kid he sees. So I have to leave my first string in there, and they're going to keep playing the game."

Asked whether he thought the CIAC was instituting the rule because of the actions of one coach, Panteleakos said, "I think at the moment they are."

Mosa denied that, saying the rule was "not directed at one particular school or individual."

Cochran took umbrage with Hyde-New Haven coach John Acquavita referring to the rule in a published report as the "Jack Rule."

"He's pointing blame, and I don't think that's fair of him," Cochran said. "He's got a lot of lopsided scores. They're a hell of a football program. But it's easy to blame someone else when you don't like something new."

Northwest Catholic-West Hartford coach Mike Tyler said he was surprised by the decision to implement the rule and says many coaches have the same feeling.

"I'm still trying to absorb the whole thing," Tyler said. "When I was told about it, I just thought there wasn't much discussion about this."

Like many in the state, Tyler sees the rule as leading to troublesome situations.

"Regarding telling kids to just fall on balls and don't pick it up, you've got kids that are in there that don't get to get in often, and it's their chance to shine a little bit," Tyler said. "How do you tell that kid not to pick it up and run? I don't know if I could tell a kid that, but if I was going to get suspended in the next game it would be different."

Cochran sees the rule as another hindrance in helping kids in the state to move on with their football careers at higher levels.

"You look at all the other states, we're one of the weakest when it comes to football," Cochran said. "It's simply because of the restrictions put on us for coaching time. Until that changes, it's a disservice to every kid that plays football in this state. At the end of the day, they're competing against kids from Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Florida to move on and it's not a level playing field. This is just another restriction that's going to hinder football in this state."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Philco Radio

Dave Potchak

I didn’t have my own bedroom. I had to share one with my younger brother. And it wasn’t laden with electrical appliances and gadgets, at least not compared to an adolescent’s bedroom today. But what this 12 year-old did have was a Philco AM radio, and I was as tickled with that as I was with having my own bed. The radio was all mine too, given to me by my dad, and it became a part of my media connection to sports in an era when there was very little else to make that tie.

I‘d catch every Pittsburgh Pirate ball game I could. WJAC in Johnstown picked up the broadcast from KDKA in Pittsburgh. With his relentless rat a tat tat style of delivery, “The Gunner,” legendary Bob Prince called the “play-by-play” and supplemented his own hue of color at the same time. His comments became imbedded in my brain as much as the names of my favorite Pirate players. Roberto Clemente, Dick Groat, Bill Mazeroski, Bill Virdon, The Deacon (Vernon Law), Dick Stuart and Elroy Face were just a few of the names I heard often.

“We had ‘em all the way,” Prince shouted at the end of every close game won by the Pirates, and “that’s a can of corn in Bobby’s glove!” as Clemente routinely made a thigh-high, basket catch of a fly ball in right field. Prince could magically pull out a win from the booth like no other. “All we need now is a bloop and a blast,” he’d wish out loud.

Combined with my prayers we divinely influenced many a game. I can still hear him cry out “Arriba, Arriba,” as Clemente came to bat with runners on. I enjoyed listening to him as much or more than seeing a game in person. I tuned in to both home and away games. Sunday afternoons, weekday evenings, it made no difference to me - I listened to every game. But, my favorite games were those that the Pirates played on the west coast.

After wishing mom and dad a “goodnight,” I’d hit the sack around 10:00, but didn’t have the slightest intention of going to sleep. Around 10:30 I turned on the old Philco, waited the usual 3 or 4 minutes for it to warm up, and then didn’t miss a pitch until the game ended, sometimes in the early hours of the following morning. Extra innings – I loved them! “You look tired,” mom said often the following morning, as I got ready for school. “Are you feeling ok?” she’d ask.

To this day I don’t know if my parents had any idea how many times I lay awake back then, listening to those games. I know I looked more tired and irritated if the “Buccos” lost. Win or lose, I was their biggest 12 year-old fan in the world.

That radio was made of a brittle yellow plastic and it was nicely equipped with only two black knobs, which promptly fell off if you weren’t careful. Chipped and cracked corners enhanced its d├ęcor. A small light bulb illuminated the station selections which were located in a semi-circle under a transparent cover, so scratched you could barely see the digits.

I remember the rotating needle and how it drifted off every couple of minutes and how you had to adjust the knob often to keep WJAC tuned in. The reception faded in and out too, and a static-like interference was common. Rain, lightning or a plane-flying overhead, were constant deterrents from a clear broadcast. None of that bothered me very much though. I was more concerned when Jerry Lynch hit a pinch-hit homer in extra innings to pull out a Pirate win. It was almost as if he was responding to Prince’s encouragement from the booth, because on more than one occasion it was predicted.

I’d cheer out-loud when Willie Mays (the predecessor to Pete Rose’s nickname of Mr. Hustle) slapped a single to right, took the turn too wide around first, and Clemente would rifle him down as he slid back into the bag. I could visualize the fact that Clemente made a habit of lethargically picking up the ball, only to entice Mays to take that wide turn. “You think he’d know better by now,” I said to myself.

I loved the intra-state rival games with the Phillies too. Prince dared to compare Clemente with Philadelphia’s great right fielder, Johnny Callison. Both possessed explosive arms that could propel a ball from deep right to home with great accuracy. Prince proudly pointed out, though, that Clemente was a complete player; he was a better hitter, better power hitter and better fielder than Callison. I wondered then, as I do now, what Philly fans think of that comparison.

I don’t know how old that Philco radio was when my dad gave it to me. I do know it still worked all through my high school and college years and then just disappeared sometime later. Yes, it was old, but it was an incredible piece of electronics for its day. I never had to replace a tube – it had no transistors. The FM feature, so popular today, was an extraordinary luxury that my radio didn’t have. It also did not function as a clock and I am glad it didn’t. I really didn’t want to know what time it was while listening to those games, and if I did know the time, it wouldn’t have stopped me from continuing anyway.

You see, before there where CD’s, stereo-phonic sound systems, digitally programmed radios and satellite receivers, there existed true fans and a love of baseball. And long before the world revolved around space-age electronics, there was a 12 year-old kid who loved to listen to the Pirates on an old AM radio. Today, I am sure I would not trade that memory for all the Radio Shack, Circuit City and Rex franchises in the world.

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