Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September is special; Snyder talk; Boise State begins possible national championship run; Navy-Maryland

There is something special about the calendar hitting September. Kids complain about going back to school—although I know there are now lots of places where they start in August—but most are excited about seeing their friends again and talking about their summers.

For someone like me, September is right up there with March as a month I always look forward to on the calendar. It isn’t just that football starts, it is that pre-season football ENDS. Honestly, the number of meaningless games and stories that take place during the summer in the NFL could fill The National Archives. Yesterday on Washington Post Live I swear to God we spent five minutes—which in TV-world is the equivalent of five hours in the real world—talking about Malcolm Kelly.

Malcolm Kelly? Seriously? A guy who has about 12 catches in two NFL seasons and is always hurt? He’s finally been put on injured reserve after grabbing his hamstring AGAIN on Monday after returning to practice for the first time in a month. This morning, in The Washington Post there’s a story on the Redskins lost draft of 2008—the one that was run without adult supervision by Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato. There’s even a quote from Cerrato—put out through Snyder’s new flak—claiming Snyder had nothing to do with the decision to draft Kelly. Of course Snyder flew to Oklahoma to watch Kelly work out. That, Cerrato said was, “just for support.”

And Tiger still loves Elin.

I know I digress but why do guys like Snyder insist on hanging on to complete untruths? (Also known as lies). Why not just say, ‘yeah, Vinny and I really blew it in the draft that year. If we end up with two guys panning out we’ll be lucky. That’s why Mike Shanahan’s here now.’

In every NFL city there is talk about irrelevancies like Malcolm Kelly and who will be the third string quarterback or the No. 5 receiver. Once the season begins, that goes away and the games have meaning. College football is different because there are no exhibition games although there are some really BAD games played early in the season—power schools lining up against lower Division 1-A (sorry NCAA, that’s still the term I use) teams or 1-AA schools.

The most intriguing game of this first weekend won’t be played until 8 o’clock Monday night in the stadium formerly named for Jack Kent Cooke. That means the 90,000 or so who go to see Boise State and Virginia Tech can expect to get home well after midnight because a national TV game will take close to three-and-a-half hours to play and then it will take about that long to get out of those god-forsaken parking lots.

Still, it is a game well worth watching. Boise State has been begging for games like this in recent years and, of course, very few power schools will play them. That’s why I get annoyed when I hear people like my pal Tony Kornheiser say things like, “well Boise State couldn’t go undefeated if it played in the Big Ten.”

Really Tony? How do you KNOW that? There certainly isn’t anyone in The Big Ten willing to actually PLAY Boise State. Except for a couple of Pac-10 schools NO ONE will play them home-and-home or even coast-and-coast. You think Virginia Tech is going back out west for a rematch? The only reason Virginia Tech is willing to play the game—besides money—is that it has less to lose than Boise. Why? Because the ACC has become a laughingstock nationally in recent years and a win would help restore some luster. A loss merely confirms what everyone already thinks anyway.

If Boise wins and beats Oregon State and runs the table it should play for the national championship. If the power schools whine about their schedule, like I said, PLAY them. Last year the BCS conspired to make Boise and TCU play one another in the Fiesta Bowl because they were so frightened that both would walk in and beat power schools.

Okay, I’m not going to go on one of my BCS rants today—plenty of time for that later.

What I really want to say is that I’m psyched it is September. I’m looking forward to Monday afternoon (Thank God it isn’t a night game too) when Navy and Maryland play in Baltimore. I’d prefer Saturday—ALL college football games should be played on Saturday; sadly we know that ship has sailed—but that game should be a lot of fun. It is very important for both teams: Maryland is coming off a horrific 2-10 season and needs to rebound to save Ralph Friedgen’s job and Navy has extremely high hopes after going 10-4 and crushing Missouri 35-13 in The Texas Bowl.

I’ll be starting my 14th season doing color on Navy radio, which is hard to believe. As I’ve said before there are few things I enjoy more than my association with Navy. I like calling games involving good kids—and they ARE good kids in spite of occasional transgressions and that one angry Navy professor who has made a cottage industry for himself by ripping his employer in any publication that will accept his work—and I enjoy greatly working with (new dad) Bob Socci, Omar Nelson, Frank Diventi and Pete Van Poppel in the booth.

All that said, this Maryland game makes me very nervous. There’s too much hype around this Navy team: Ricky Dobbs Heisman talk (I love the attention the kid is getting, but please let him play a few downs this season first okay?); talk about an un-defeated season (won’t happen—too many tough road games: Air Force, Wake Forest, East Carolina, not to mention this Maryland game and Notre Dame in the Meadowlands with a real coach in charge. Heck, even Duke has a reasonable team) and people acting like the Maryland game is a semi-walk over.

Please. Maryland has two very good running backs, BCS caliber and BCS-size lineman and defenders and a mobile quarterback. I’ve always though Friedgen could coach and the reasons for the team’s recent failures are based on recruiting not actual coaching. Plus, there is nothing more dangerous than a team that has something to prove and Maryland has a LOT to prove and knows it will be 3-0 (it has two cupcakes after Navy) if it can beat the Mids.

Either way, it will be a fun afternoon. Either way, September is always fun. The weather cools, the football gets better and I actually enjoy September baseball. I’m one of those guys who likes going to late-season games even if they don’t involve contenders. I like seeing who is playing as part of the expanded 40 man rosters and I enjoy the relative calm of a September game with nothing except pride and perhaps the long-term future of teams at stake. The pennant race games—and postseason—are fun for entirely different reasons. Of course most of postseason is played so late that I struggle to stay up and rarely go anymore. If there is an early round afternoon or early evening game near me, I might go.

There’s also some interesting golf the next few weeks, the U.S. Open tennis where there’s bound to be an upset (I think) at some point and another month of being able to swim outdoors. So, if we can just keep the damn hurricanes away, this should be a lot of fun.


Mr. X said...

Has Boise State gotten too big to be considered gallant?

Ed Tracey said...

John, at one time there was a gentleman's agreement about the following concerning American football:

Friday nights - belong to the high schools.

Saturday daytime - belongs to the high schools and colleges.

Saturday nights - belong to the colleges.

And Sundays belong to the pros (even if it's New Year's day).

Somehow this started to break-down in the past few years. Was it publicly discussed how it came about?

John Matthew IV said...

So it took until the fourth paragraph to mention Tiger.

Darn, I lost. I had the sixth in my pool.

Dan Serafini said...

Earth to Ed: It is called TV, and more specifically, ESPN.

Me, I am like John and blame the Sainted Earl.

John Graves said...


Your love for Navy football is starting to disturb me. You need to come back to RIGHT side of academy football and root for Army. The Navy streak ends this year.

dominic said...

It is too bad that Navy plays Maryland in their first game thereby allowing Md. all summer to prepare for the Option. Same thing last year with Ohio State, give them a normal week to prepare and Navy becomes one of them.

Anonymous said...

I agree - I'm ecstatic that September is here. Its been a long, hot and humid summer here in the south without any real sports action to take note of. After all the talk of LeBron, expansion, transfers, Clemens, and on and on, I'm just happy that we start getting to watch action on the field in baseball that matters, in the NFL that matters and college football where even bad teams have games that matter.

Without question, from now till the first week in April there is something to watch at all times worth noting. Hopefully this will be another memorable sports year.

bevo said...

"that one angry Navy professor who has made a cottage industry for himself by ripping his employer in any publication that will accept his work"

As opposed to that one angry book writer who has a made a cottage industry for himself by praising the institution in any publication (including his own book) that will accept his work.

What do you know? The logic of the argument works both ways.

The personal attack aside, what was factually incorrect about what the employee said? Hasn't the employee been associated with his employer, the USNA, for more than 30 years?

How long is your association with the USNA? More specifically, how long have you been employed by the USNA?

Paul said...


There are several underrated things about college football on Saturday. The first is that so many games start at noon. I can't explain why but I love the noon EST start WAYYYY more than the NFL's 1 p.m. start on Sunday Something psychological about it.

The second, pschologically cool thing about college football on Saturday, is that one doesn't have to go to work the next day. Once again, a seemingly small thing, but something I love about it. Saturday afternoons (and nights to an extent) are just plain, well... awesome during college football season. Even games like Indiana-Northwestern, if they are on ESPN 2 at noon, somehow capture my attention. I can't say the same for an NFL game like Detroit-(put another bad team in here).

And I am not an NFL hater or a college football crazy by any stretch of the imagination. Something about the build up and the season itself is just so much more compelling.

That being said, I'm with you and many others who hate the BCS system and a lack of a true national champion most years.

Gordon said...

I'm sure I'm in the minority but I hate September save for the US Open. For the most part, and their are some exceptions such as Florida and Alabama, once again the SEC gets it, college football is a joke. And ESPN doesn't make it any better by already having a Heisman watch and endless and mindless discussions as to who will play for the national championship which because of people like Bill Hancock and the BCS is a mute point because their is no REAL national championship game. And college football season means more Mel Kiper Jr. The scary part is that their is actually a Mel Kiper Sr.!

Baseball is fine as we now approach the "October Classic"..... oh wait MLB in its' infinite wisdom now plays the World Series into November at night when nobody ,especially kids, can or will watch.

And the NFL begins. not entirely bad save for the fact that we are force feed it 24/7 365 already. And who can forget those lovable losers who play fantasy football and actually believe those of us who do not actually care who they got in the draft or who they just traded for. And nothing says fustration quite like losing the weekly office pool to a person who picks games based on the colors of uniforms and knows nothing about football!

We do have the Ryder Cup for golf geeks like myself. This year should be competitive match. One can only hope that Dana White gets smart and follows up with a Cory Pavin vs Jim Grey match and a Jim Mckay vs Steve Williams pay per view. THAT would get me to be interested in MMA! Probably Not!!!!!!!

What September means is that the NHL season is only 5 weeks away. Now that's something to be truly happy about for some of us.

And how can we all not be glued to the compelling and always important WNBA playoffs? They make hockey look popular!

Speaking of hockey the two most scary words to NHL hockey fans is Don Fehr! The new head of the NHLPA is bound to cancel another Stanley Cup finals as he does for the NHL what he did to and for MLB.

Bring on October when things begin to matter.

Michael HMB said...

For the first three paragraphs I thought maybe hell had indeed frozen over and then there it was ..."And Tiger still loves Elin."

All's right with the world.

MarkS said...

You Tiger Woods hero worshipers are downright hilarious. John makes one innocuous comment about Tiger and you geniuses ignore 99.9%of what he wrote and fixate on the 5 word sentence involving Tiger.

Start learning to think for yourselves, folks, or you're just going to keep getting played by the likes of the Tiger Woods Marketing Machine for the rest of your lives. Then again, maybe you Phi Beta Kappas enjoy being easy marks for the myriad corporations who have an equity stake in convincing you that Tiger Woods was born in a manger and walks on water...

Anonymous said...

If Boise St. wants more BCS school to play them, perhaps they should follow the model Florida State used many years ago when Bobby Bowden was the new coach. They would play anybody, anywhere. They played 5 ganes at LSU before the Tigers played one at Talahassee. They also played Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and LSU in 5 consecutive away games in 1981 (winning 4 of those games). FSU earned their way into the top 15 and then the big boys couldn't avoid them anymore. I would like to see boise State play 2 or 3 top powers, away during the regular season for a few years and see how they do.

Anonymous said...

I think the West Virginia fans will disagree with you calling them a cupcake. The Terps play in Morgantown in their third game. They host Florida International the week after that. I do agree, though, that Morgan State is a true cupcake!

Anonymous said...

I think Mr Feinstein must have a little chuckle when he puts his Tiger tweak in because he KNOWS that some of you guys will just start squirming in your seats!

Tim said...

John - I just read where Pat Haden said that while he has no ulterior motive in what direction he wants to take USC in, he says that in today's day and age that keeping an eye on the value of going independent in football is necessary, and prudent (can't remember exact quotes, but said he has an open mind on the issue). As an anti-BCS guy, if a school like USC, Texas, Oklahoma or all the above starting taking their football programs independent, you obviously see this as a killer to the system, correct? But in doing this, would it ultimately lead to another division in football, basically splitting 1A into the haves and have nots?

And to maximize money (and ego) in football, can and would schools ultimately take their football programs out of the NCAA to create more opportunities (and pitfalls)? Can you split programs out?