Friday, June 30, 2006

Randy Walker Dies

Its a sad day in college football. A class act--and a guy with MAC roots--died way too young at the age of 52 today. I was shocked beyond belief when I saw the news.

A lot of BG tie-ins. He was the coach in two of the biggest games BG ever won--the 2001 victory at Ryan Field (picture a 2-point conversion rather than going for OT, and true FR. Cole Magner running the ball in), and the 2003 Motor City Bowl.

He once described Brandon Hicks, our NG, as a "rolling ball of butcher knives," which no one could figure out but sounded like a compliment.

He also coached at Miami University for nine seasons, where he had the misfortune of running into the dominant Blackney teams. BG was 6-2-1 during his tenure in Oxford.

He was performing where no one else ever had for as long as he had, and he was doing it the right way, the way college athletics should be run.

A requiem appropriate to his contribution is here.

If you want to write a condolence to his family, you can do so here.

Rest in peace. We're worse off for your loss.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mid-Term Correction

Hey, its almost the middle of the year, and its the heat of summer, but hey! let's talk some Falcon hoops. It feels good, I will say. Hope springs eternal in the off-season.

Maureen Fulton covered an alumni game played as part of the first day of the Dan Dakich school.

A few notes. The current team won, the value of which is hard to judge (seems to me like they should have), though three of the alumni players are playing professionally in Europe, so they are still active, at least.

On other notes, Darryl Clements made a mark. It cannot be stated how important he is to having a return to respectability for the program next season.

Clements impressed in the scrimmage, showing speed and ability to create turnovers. Last season Clements averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in 13 minutes a game. Martin Samarco, a second-team All-Mid-American Conference pick a year ago, said he has been mentoring Clements this summer.

“I’m trying to put him under my wing and show him that working hard will pay off,” Samarco said. “He’s starting to realize that if he works hard, the sky’s the limit for him. I go especially hard on him in the weight room, make sure every time we do a drill he’s gotta go hard.”
Other notes:

Dakich thinks he's a week away from a replacement for Artie Pepela.

Get this:

Sophomores Dusan Radivojevic and Erik Marschall have bulked up noticeably. Dakich said Radivojevic has gained 40 pounds since coming to BGSU and Marschall 30.
If accurate, that would be amazing. My hyperbole alert is blinking. 40 pounds on Dusan might be 25% of his previous weight. Marschall adding 30 would make him a force in the middle. The other factor addidng doubt is that those weights are since coming to BG, and neither seemed to bulk up during the season, meaning that much would have come since then. But, how could I tell.

Marschall has All-MAC potential, and with some additional bulk, I think he could be dangerous. On Dusan, we were so talent-poor last year that even if he can become a minor contributor, it elevates our team significantly.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Basketball Coaches Lobbying for 128 Teams in Big Dance

That includes Dan Dakich and Stan Joplin on Fox News with Fanning last night. I don't really support this. You're not going to eliminate the controversey--just move it down a few notches. The current set up is very good, and I think you have to be hesitant about monkeying with it. The set up creates tension in the MAC tournament, and yet has the orderly 64 team format that has made it so popular. The coaches say they want parity with football, where half of the teams play in a bowl. There are lots more D1 basketball programs, so that isn't going to be easy.

I just think the NCAA hoops tourney is among the best things going in sports. If BG and UT haven't qualified, we should try a novel approach--win the MAC Championship and get there. Most MAC teams have managed to do it, it can be done.

One other thing. On the news last night, Coach said something that has always gotten on my nerves. He made his usual speech about how the regular season should be used to determine who goes to the NCAA tournament, not the MAC tourney. Now, there's two problems with that. First, if the automatic bid isn't on the line, there's no point in having the MAC tourney. And second, the regular season cannot be used to pick a true champion as the MAC is set up today, because there is no common schedule. This is especially true with divisional play. Two teams could play dramatically different schedules, and just using gross records won't always yield you the best team.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Grabbed this on YouTube

Even though we lost, if this doesn't get your heart pumping, you're not in the Falcon Nation!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

On the World Cup

This has nothing to do with the Falcon Nation, but it has to do with sports, so I'm going to put it here. It has to do with the World Cup--and how our country's sports pundits react to it in their zeal to placate their audience.

I should begin by saying this. I am not a soccer fan. I have never watched even 10 seconds of an MLS game--it ranks even below the NBA on my scale. I could not name even one MLS player under an armed threat. I don't watch college soccer, I don't follow international soccer. My son doesn't play soccer.

I should continue by saying this. Soccer fans can be arrogant jerks. They need to stop preaching to people who don't like soccer--or, worse yet, telling them they don't understand the game. They need to stop telling people that its the world's most popular game. If they don't LIKE SOCCER, THEY DON'T LIKE SOCCER! OK? People are allowed to make their own minds up. Much of this is cultural anyway--and its not in our culture.

Not to let the hater off the hook, let me say two things. First, I actually heard a radio talk show host say he enjoyed the French Open, but couldn't watch World Cup soccer. Now, if you don't like soccer, you don't like soccer. But it defies any sense of consistency to speak favorably of clay court tennis, and then bash soccer. Its all or nothing on this one. Sorry.

Second, I have read numerous columnists say that one weakness for our US team is that it isn't in our culture to take a dive to draw a foul, and that hurts our chances. EXCUSE ME? Have you, by any chance, attended a college basketball game anytime, say, oh, ever, as players flop around left and right to draw charges? How about hockey? I used to watch a college referee who had a diving sign he used when a player took a header. Right. We're above that.

So, to recap. I am not a soccer fan, and you don't have to be either.

But I am a World Cup fan.

As a fan of sports--of competition, of athletics, it is hard to be any other way. This is simply the most captivating event in International competition. Its March Madness times about a billion.

I have been travelling in Europe twice during the World Cup, and it does help to have been in a place where people stop everything to watch the World Cup. You get a flavor of it that doesn't go away. There are some especially strong memories.

The strongest comes from Italy. In 1982 the Cup was in Spain, and Italy was playing in a semifinal game against Poland. We were staying at the Hotel Argentina, which is near Cortina in the Italian Alps. Stunning postcard beauty in a pastoral scene that could have been lifted out of a novel. As the game was preparing to start, all of a sudden, all over the area around the hotel came people walking from the hills, many of them little old ladies in support hose, dressed in brown housedresses.

What has happening? The people of the area where coming down to the Hotel to watch the game because they didn't have TV of their own. It was so "1932 Fireside Chat" that I could scarcely believe I was seeing it. Even the hotel's reception was bad...they kept sending a guy onto the roof to adjust the antenna. (That's right. The antenna.)

Italy won that game, and advanced to the finals against West Germany. (We also watched the unforgettable W. Germany-France semi final from the hotel).

Unfortunately, we were on a train to Barcelona the night of the final, but I will never forget that along our entire route, as we passed apartment buildings facing back to the tracks, you could see the green glow of the pitch emanating from every flat. Once we got to Barcelona we ran up against a little problem---try getting a cab on the night of the Cup Final.

From the Argentina, there was one more indelible image. After the victory over Poland, two children made Italian flags, and stood by the side of the lonely road waving them at the occasional traffic. And each car that passed responded with enthusiastic honking and cheering.

There are other images. In Austria, I was sitting in a Hotel lobby to watch the classic Italy-Brazil match. A German tourist walked to the door with a camera around his neck, right out of central casting. His wife was dragging him out to do tourist stuff, but I will never forget the look of longing and envy on his face as he walked away, leaving us to watch the big game.

But what about the soccer, you ask? It is entertaining. I think soccer shares characteristics with baseball...a game with many empty spaces to be filled in by an engaged and imaginative fan. But the World Cup makes it different because of the national identities involved. I said sports are cultural, and they are. We watch sports where we understand the context of the game--the myth, the background, the stories.

I don't know the mythology of Arsenal and Tottenham. But I do understand nationalities.

Candidly, the fact that this is a world event in which Ghana (and have it not be a shocker to boot) can beat the US is fascinating to me.

No, you don't have to like the World Cup. It is up to you. But it is a moment in sport that I can't turn away from.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Vandelay Picks BG to go 6-6

Vandelay sports, one of the few devoted MAC sites out there on the web, has a MAC pigskin preview up.

Here's how his season has us going:

s. Wisconsin (Cleveland, OH) - LOSS

vs. Buffalo - WIN

@ Florida International - WIN

vs. Kent State - WIN

@ Ohio - LOSS

@ Ohio State - LOSS

vs. Eastern Michigan - WIN

@ Central Michigan - LOSS

@ Temple - WIN

@ Akron - LOSS

vs. Miami - WIN

@ Toledo - LOSS

Candidly, given the way we play on the road, that isn't unrealistic. The OU, CMU, Akron and UT road losses could all really happen. On the other hand, if we can pick off OU (which he identifies as a key game), we're 5-3 and in East contention.

On the details, he likes Anthony Turner better than most Falcon fans do. I'm not sure what anyone is using to judge AT at this point other than random speculation, but that's what he thinks and its pretty much what I think.

The defensive analysis is probably pretty negative. It is also hard to disagree with this. Earlier this year I wrote that we were a year away on D, and I don't think there's any reason to change that opinion. We're just really, really young on that side of the ball, and we weren't real good last year.

I'll do my formal game by game predictions closer to when the season starts, but I don't think any Falcon fan can say that 6-6 is out of the question. And, if there is some improvement, I think we can live with it if AT is coming around and it looks like we can compete again in 2007.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Pretty good day to be a Sports Fan

In between a nice walk, and a little baseball practice with my son, I was able (with a semi-pass for Father's Day) watch three World Cup Soccer games, two baseball games, the end of the US Open, and substantial parts of the key game in the NBA Championship. Pretty good day to be a sports fan. Not New Year's Day, but a pretty good today.

And I still like Phil Mickelson. I've been where he was today.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Media Report: Our next AD will be Greg Christopher

According to this from the Charleston Daily Mail, Greg Christopher (AKA the one from Purdue) will get the job over Whit Babcock (AKA the one from West Virginia). (You have to scroll down to the bottom of the story to find the story--there are apparently bigger fish to fry in Charleston.)

The Blade confirms it this morning, with confirmation from both parties.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Falcons Assistant Leaves

BG LB Coach John Bowers has left the building. His wife was named the Head Gymnastics Coach at University of Washington, and he's travelling to support her, which is an interesting switch in the coaching field. He was the first coach on board when Urban started. Like every other assistant, he took a disproportionate share of abuse when players in his area did not perform (especially in our abysmal special teams last year), but I suspect he was a pretty good football coach. At this date, we would hope to be able to find another quality coach to fill the gap.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Dang, this is funny

Here's a hilarious blogpost comparing college football programs to characters on the Simpsons. You know, Wisconsin is Barney, Penn State and JoPa are Abe get the idea.

Our beloved Falcons got mentioned, too. BG and UT are compared to Itchy and Scratchy, as in:

Toledo and Bowling Green: Itchy and Scratchy
In the grand scheme of popular culture they barely merit a second thought, but you can't deny that on a boring-ass Tuesday night, when there's nothing else on, they're always good for some offensively oriented turn-your-brain-off entertainment.

And to beat the crap out of each other! Pretty clever.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

AD Finalists Named

BG named the two finalists for the AD Job. They are making campus visits soon...note the strong development background for both candidates.