January 11, 2007

Pig parent revolt part of strange 2006 season

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The Gators may hold the football and men's basketball titles right now, but the rowdy reptiles are plummeting in the party school rankings.

What was once a top-three party school in the country according to The Princeton Review produced a single arrest celebrating Monday's national championship.

Police greased the light posts along the main drag in Gainesville, Fla., with cooking spray to prevent fans of the Gators from climbing to unsafe heights.

One reveler was arrested for arson after setting a downtown Christmas tree on fire. A Christmas tree … on Jan. 8. Sounds like he did the city a favor.

College football fans are prone to going overboard. That's well-established.

Here are some other athletes and fans who created some wild and wacky news during the 2006 football season.

Mama knows best
In a news release in December, the mother of Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain - Beck Campbell - yielded to Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt's authority when it came to coaching the team.

"It was agreed by all parties involved that the head coach has the valid right to determine the direction of the program and the manner in which the team would develop," she said in the statement.

What brought about this concession?

Less than a week after Arkansas wrapped a 10-win season with an appearance in the SEC Championship Game, parents of three Razorbacks freshmen apparently weren't satisfied.

The mother and father of receiver Damian Williams, the father of tight end Ben Cleveland and Beck met with Athletic Director Frank Broyles to discuss the direction of the football program.

Specifically, the parents wanted to discuss the offense. The unit is run by first-year coordinator Gus Malzahn, who coached the trio a year earlier at Springdale (Ark.) High.

Malzahn ran a spread offense at Springdale, but head coach Houston Nutt and Malzahn focused their efforts in the SEC more on the run. The Razorbacks offense was led by Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden and fellow 1,000-yard back Felix Jones.

"The reason for the meeting was very simple," Rick Cleveland told The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "We wanted to know what is the direction of Arkansas' football program. Are we eventually going to get to Gus' offense? Or are we going to stay with the way we are at present?"

Apparently the parents of Heisman runner-up McFadden decided to stay out of this one.

Backup quarterback blues
Quarterback Harrison Beck was fourth string to Nebraska coach Bill Callahan, but to his mother Beck is a five-star talent.

Beck transferred to N.C. State at the end of fall practice, but not before skipping out on a Cornhuskers practice.

Beck's mother, Evelyn Beck-Bothwell, commented on the situation with her evaluation of starting QB Zac Taylor.

"It'd be different if (Beck) was sitting behind Matt Leinart or Brady Quinn," Beck-Bothwell told The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star. "Zac's OK; I wish him all the best, but he's just OK. The bottom line is, my son isn't learning anything. He's just on his own. If he got more time and attention from the coaches, he would be ahead of (Taylor). That's just my opinion, but I'm his mother."

Taylor was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

The All-Name Team
Best of the best:
C.J. Ah You, Oklahoma DE
Britt Barefoot, Southern Miss K
Bio Bilaye-Benibo, Rice RB
Vincent Chase, SMU TE (where's his Entourage?)
Popsie Floyd, Tulsa LB
Junior Jabbie, Notre Dame LB
Joseph Joseph, Louisiana-Monroe OL
Ray Ray McElrathbey, Clemson DB
Chase Pistole, North Texas DL
Chubb Small, Marshall RB
Syndric Steptoe, Arizona RB
Good Omens:
T.D. Callahan, Maryland RB
Marlon Lucky, Nebraska RB
Nate Swift, Nebraska WR
Keith Toogood, Texas Tech K
Orrick Quick, N.C. State LB
Don't I Know You?:
Jason Alexander, San Diego State OL
Colin Ferrell, Kent State DL
Joe Girardi, Miami OL
Richie Rich, North Carolina RB
Shelley Smith, Colorado State OL
That's Mister Simpson To You:
Mister Simpson, Michigan RB
SirDarean Adams, Michigan State DB
King Dunlap, Auburn OL
Prince Moody, Wisconsin DB
Prince Kwateng, Northwestern LB
What do you mean Opamuratawongse isn't in the spell checker?
Max Opamuratawongse, Wake Forest WR
Alex Ghebreselassie, UCLA WR
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, Navy QB
Kila Kamakawiwo'ole, Hawaii DL
Punters gone wild
Northern Colorado backup punter Mitch Cozad was charged with stabbing starting punter Rafael Mendoza on Sept. 11. Cozad allegedly stalked Mendoza, the team's starting punter, for several days before attacking him in the parking lot of Mendoza's apartment complex.

A witness told police the attacker fled the scene in a 2006 Dodge Charger with a Wyoming license plate. Later that night, an employee at a liquor store called the police when the clerk saw a man in the parking lot removing tape covering his license plate number – "8-KIKR."

Three months later, Vanderbilt backup punter Kyle Keown was arrested and charged with assault after an incident at his apartment in Nashville, Tenn.

Keown's roommate Richard Kovalcheck, a Vanderbilt quarterback, intervened when Keown began striking his ex-girlfriend, according to sworn affidavits.

After Kovalcheck struck him, Keown "then grabbed the victim by the groin, and began squeezing and pulling very intensely." Kovalcheck and Keown retreated to opposite rooms when Keown allegedly returned to Kovalcheck's room wielding a knife, threatening to kill him and Keown's ex-girlfriend.

In crime news not involving groin-grabbing or punters …
Two former Florida State players – wide receiver Fred Rouse and linebacker A.J. Nicholson – were accused of burglarizing the apartment of FSU running back Lorenzo Booker in May.

Police were tipped off on one of the suspects when inside the apartment they found an FSU-issued receiver's glove with Rouse's No. 1 written on it.

Sadly, no evidence of Jim Grobe was found in the disappearance of the Seminoles' home-field advantage.

At least Rouse didn't invite police to the scene of the crime
Texas running back Ramonce Taylor called police in May when a window of his truck was broken during a fight involving as many as 100 people at a party in Bell County, Texas.

In addition to the broken window, police found four one-pound bags of marijuana in a backpack in the vehicle.

Taylor later pleaded guilty to a felony marijuana possession charge.

Google says you stink
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden defended his son and offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden, blaming reporters for his eventual resignation.

"You all ignited it," the elder Bowden told a room of reporters. "You listen to eBay and e-mail and all that junk, and you kept writing about it and that fans it and makes it grow and grow, and it becomes a cancer."

Miami coach Larry Coker's demise wasn't helped by cyberspace, either. At least that's the way Florida Atlantic coach and former Hurricanes head man Howard Schnellenberger saw it in an interview with The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post.

Was Coker a victim of his previous success?

"He's a victim of freakin' talk shows," Schnellenberger told the Post. "And what's that other thing? Glops or gloops or whatever it is."

He apparently meant blogs. At least that's what we heard on eBay.

Who knew Auburn had an offensive game plan?
"A drifter," not a South Carolina spy, stole a laptop computer containing Auburn's offensive game plan, Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville said after Auburn beat Carolina 24-17.

The thief was caught on tape taking the computer from the offensive meeting room at the team hotel in Columbia, S.C.

One has to admire this drifter's guts, though. He took the computer with the team still in the room.

"We saw who did it, and it takes a lot of nerve to walk in there with 300-pounders standing around it and pick it up and put it in your pants and walk out the door," Tuberville said.

It not only takes a lot of nerve but a lot of room in your pants.

This guy won't make it to the CIA either
During spring practice, a West Virginia student affiliated with Mountaineers football was caught spying on rival Marshall.

In the spy's confiscated notes, he observed Marshall center Doug Legursky, whom he identified as "No. 66, fat ---."

West Virginia beat Marshall 42-10.

Dumb ---.

He Said It
Top quotes of the year from the mouth of Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach :
When asked if he planned to take his team over the border for a mock bullfight and a Mexican dinner when Texas Tech played at UTEP earlier this year:
"I don't think so. None of that spring break movie stuff. No bullfights, no gambling, no donkeys, no vanilla extract, no piñatas, none of that stuff. Straight football. Yup. No switchblades."
On not having a college football playoff:
"It's a joke and a lie. Texas high school football can play 16 games. Division III can play 16 games, Division I-AA, the NFL plays significantly more, and magically Division I-A is not able to do it? Are you kidding me? There are people who buy that, and that's disgusting. If people buy that, nothing is going to be solved because stupid people are making decisions."
On the new clock rules:
"I hate the new clock rule and that is one of the stupidest pieces of legislation ever. This season really kind of needs an asterisk beside it because it changes the entire dynamics of the game. Quite frankly, I don't even respect the people who disagree with me on it."
After Texas Tech defeated Texas A&M, Leach worked his pirate fascination into his post game interview with ABC saying:
"Once in a while a pirate can beat a soldier."
Just don't eat buckeyes. Trust me
If Ohio State looked a step slower in the championship game, maybe it was because the team was full of alligator meat.

Ohio stores filled their shelves with Gator meat in anticipation of Ohio State's matchup against Florida in the BCS Championship Game.

According to The Associated Press, Akron's West Point Market sold the "delicacy" for $14.99 a pound (which we're told is overpriced).

"It's more of a chicken texture, but I tell people it tastes like alligator," Doug Fulton, manager of meat, seafood and oven-ready food at West Point, told the AP.

Thanks, Doug.

He's no chicken when it comes to the 'Dawgs
A sports headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution so fired up Georgia governor Sonny Perdue that he wrote a letter to the newspaper to tell them about it.

What riled Perdue, a walk-on quarterback at Georgia in the 1960s? A headline after Georgia's 51-33 loss to Tennessee on Oct. 7 that read, "Dogs get put in their place."

Perdue, who was in the final weeks of the gubernatorial election, let the paper know just how much the slight displeased him.

"Sunday's sports page headline is an indication of the way the AJC views Georgia," Perdue wrote in a letter to the editor. "From the front page to the business page and now the sports page, it is as if the Journal-Constitution gleefully awaits lousy news about all things Georgia and pounces with their poison pens whenever bad things happen to the good people of our state."

Review this, says Oklahoma president
University of Oklahoma president David Boren went a little further than Perdue after the Sooners' 34-33 loss to Oregon, which was largely attributed to two incorrect calls on video review at the end of the game.

Boren sent a letter to Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg asking him to push Oregon to erase the game from the record books and have the Pac-10 officials suspended for the remainder of the season.

"To describe the lapses in accurate officiating at the Oklahoma-Oregon football game … as constituting an outrageous injustice is an understatement," Boren wrote.

The Pac-10 suspended the officials for one game, but Weiberg declined to ask for the game to be removed from the record books.

Rebel without a review
Oklahoma wasn't the only school to have trouble with instant replay, but David Boren's reaction was tame compared to UNLV coach Mike Sanford's.

Sanford stormed off the field after a 16-10 loss to Iowa State on Sept. 9 and ran to the officials' locker room, hoping to persuade them to review the final play of the game. UNLV receiver Aaron Straiten was clearly out of bounds on a catch in the end zone.

Sanford ran back to the field, tripping over something along the way. When he reached the sideline, he ordered his team to remain on the field and demanded to speak with an athletic director.

A referee and replay official both told UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick the play had been reviewed.

At least Croom doesn't coach the diving team
Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom lightened the mood at a Bulldogs' practice in August by suiting up in shoulder pads and a helmet.

After he missed the previous day's practice because of emergency dental surgery, Croom was carted onto the field wearing a red cross jersey reserved for injured players.

Croom didn't have as much levity, though, before his weekly radio show after a 34-0 loss to Auburn. It was the Bulldogs' second consecutive shutout to start the season.

Croom had grown weary of fans' complaints about the offense and the rest of the program.

"People are going to call in about that and I'm going to answer their questions, but nothing's going to change. We're going to try and get better at what we're doing. I don't want to hear about the play-calling. I don't want to hear about getting rid of my coaches, because I'm never going to fire a football coach. I'm not. If it comes to that, I'm going to fire me. I want to get that clear."

Then, he dropped this gem: "I don't even want to do that show anyway. I need to be working and trying to get our team better instead of sitting around and listening to those questions."

Croom later apologized.

Stanford suspended its infamous marching band in August for vandalizing its own "Band Shak."

Between $30,000 and $50,000 of damage was done to the on-campus trailer after the band moved into a new multimillion-dollar facility on campus.

The band was suspended until Oct. 15. The football team has yet to return.

Louisville happy to get the bird
Hey, Vegas, get ready for this stat: Louisville has outscored opponents 257-35 when they have stomped on the Cardinals' on-field logo.

Four teams since 2004 have committed the Cardinal sin, according to the Louisville sports information department. Miami was the latest this season prior to a 31-7 loss.

"I want to take that bird on the road," athletic director Tom Jurich said. "My next purchase is going to be a 25-foot bird to take with us."

Coaching carousel spins to Teddy Ruxpin
John L. Smith was not the only Spartan to melt down after Michigan State blew a 16-point fourth-quarter lead to Notre Dame for a 40-37 loss.

Mike Valenti, a host of The Sports Inferno on AM 1270 in Detroit and a Michigan State grad, had an epic meltdown on air after the game.

Listen as his voice gets higher and hoarser. He tells his co-host to shut up (twice) and suggests Michigan State replace its defensive coaches with Teddy Ruxpin and H.R. Pufnstuf.

What will the NCAA do about the engagement ring?
Boise State running back Ian Johnson, who ran in the game-winning two-point conversion in the Fiesta Bowl, felt the NCAA's iron hand of justice.

Johnson, who had taken up crocheting in high school, sold beanies throughout football season for about $14 each before the NCAA intervened.

The NCAA ordered him to stop selling them in November. He could not even give them away to charity. Originally, the NCAA said he could sell them as long as he did not promote them. Once he became a Heisman hopeful and his handiwork could be sold for more and more profit, the NCAA shut him down.

That was only the first time someone spoiled the party for Johnson this year. After the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, Johnson proposed to his girlfriend and Broncos cheerleader, Chrissy Popadics.

Fox sideline reporter Chris Myers spoiled the surprise by introducing the special moment by saying, "I know you're going to propose to your girlfriend" in front of his soon-to-be fiancée.

Way to go, Chris.

Florida Atlantic doesn't have a chance against Ohio State
ESPN analyst and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard misspoke during his analysis of the Holiday Bowl between Cal and Texas A&M.

Instead, he broke down Cal vs. Texas, all the way down to how Bears wide receiver DeSean Jackson would match up with Longhorns cornerback Aaron Ross.

No one on the set corrected him, although the on-screen graphic displayed the correct matchup between the Bears and Aggies.

A day later, Howard offered this apology.

Reading the fine print
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema's lasting achievement in his rookie year could be more than just the 12-1 season he brought to Madison.

In Wisconsin's Nov. 4 game against Penn State, the 36-year-old Bielema got the best of Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, 80, with his offside kick.

Bielema took advantage of the new rule that starts the clock on the kickoff rather than when the receiving team catches the ball.

Protecting a 10-3 lead with 23 seconds left in the first half, the entire Wisconsin kickoff team was blatantly offside on consecutive kickoffs, running 19 seconds off the clock. On the third kickoff, Wisconsin went by the book, but the Penn State offense never took the field.

Paterno was not impressed.


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