Monday, November 28, 2011

Urban Meyer the newest Buckeye

I wonder how many of the names on the plaque went on to coach against the Nittany Lions. I'm assuming Urban Meyer is the first.

With the hiring of Meyer by The Ohio State University, it improves the quality of coaching in the Big Ten Conference. Meyer had much success at Florida and Utah before that, and much is expect in Columbus. There are still positions to be filled at Penn State and Illinois so until those are made it will be hard to debate this, but collectively, where will the Big Ten rate - as a conference - among the BCS conference schools in quality of coaches.

The debate would begin with how to measure it. Number of National Championship? Number of Conference Championships? Individual game win? Number of players to the NFL? Those that graduated?

The are other conferences that have their share of coaching changes, most notably the Pac 12. Based on Meyer's history, it brings increased credibility to the Big Ten.

Night Out on the Town - Guest Report

This week Christopher Luke, the Video Coordinator at North Carolina in Chapel Hill provides the weekly feature. Definitely worth the read as it goes beyond a restaurant review - it is about a night out on the town.

As an avid reader of your blog, I have often said, I should do this for my trips, too.  I thought this would be a great night to document.  One of the coolest things about living in the Research Triangle Park area (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) is the 3 BCS schools located about 20 minutes from each other.  NC State is in Raleigh, Duke is in Durham, and UNC is of course in Chapel Hill.  I know of no other BCS schools that are this close in proximity. It really is pretty cool to be around this great group of guys not only in RTP, but the ACC as a whole because every weekend someone is coming to visit.  Most teams stay in hotels in RTP when they come to play. This weekend was no different.  Maryland stayed next door to UNC as we both prepared for our games against NC State and Duke respectively.  There have been as many as 6 schools staying in RTP on a given weekend. Earlier this year, I hosted Miami and Florida State in the same weekend in October.  It really is a unique situation here in North Carolina.  Hooter’s is usually our place of choice simply because it is centrally located near the airport and all of the hotels.
Tom Long of Duke is a Maryland grad so this weekend was also a great time to catch up with the ACC’s newest Video Director, Will Brown of Maryland, where Tom once worked in the Video Office.    I have known Will for a number of years at his previous stops of UCONN and Middle Tennessee State.
Tom Long (left) and Will Brown

Hud Jordan, not pictured, is the assistant Video Director at NC State, but is essentially in charge of the day to day operations for the team in Raleigh.  Hud arrived late but he was able to enjoy our mini CSVA convention.  Since we are all DVSport users, we also got to talk about features of DVSport’s Gameday application, issues we have been dealing with that piece of software, conference and NFL video exchange, and future non-conference teams video we all needed to find this off season.  We also had a good discussion about our iPAD DVSport application called Shuttle, as Duke, Maryland, and UNC have used it this season.  All in all, it was a great night to catch up with friends in the video business.

Victory Bell fought between Duke and North Carolina Football
Duke’s Video Director Tom Long and I have become really good friends since we both took similar jobs in July of 2008 here in North Carolina.  Our wives are pretty good friends and we both have 2 boys (Megan Long is pregnant with their second and is due this spring) For the 3rd and final time this fall I drove my opponent’s Video Director to work on game day.  I did this earlier in the year for Luke Goldstein at Virginia and Stewart Cramer at Miami as I live in the RTP near all the host hotels.  My wife Sabra and Megan Long brought our boys later and sat inside the 5th floor of the Kenan Football Center where my office is located during the game.  UNC kept the Victory Bell, one of the few trophy games in the ACC, for an 8th consecutive year by a score of 37-21. 
Kenan Football Complex, home to North Carolina Football

Sunday, November 27, 2011

College Football Week 13

For once I didn't have to google pictures of cheerleaders to use in this weekly posting. This was taken at the Iowa Nebraska Heroes game in Lincoln. The Iowa Cheerleaders have travelled with the Football team all over the Big Ten. Not only have the appeared on the sidelines, but they are also working for the fans at the pre-game Hawkeye Huddle. We see them weekly on the plane, but they are resorted to the last two rows of the plane - just a few back from the video staff.

Championship weekend approaches and ESPN and its family of networks is on the outside looking in. ABC was the original network to televise the SEC Championship game, but CBS won the rights many years ago. But ABC and ESPN were able to compete for viewers with the ACC, Big 12, MAC, and C-USA Championship Games. However the Big 12 no longer is able to have one as teams left to join the Pac-12 and Big Ten allowing for a Championship game in those conferences. Those conferences now showcase their premier games on FOX, while the Big 12 had to schedule other games to televise on the last weekend. The ACC game should be good as #5 Virginia Tech takes on #20 Clemson, a rematch when Clemson won in Blacksburg. That game will be on ESPN.

My game of the week will be Indianapolis. Wisconsin has a rematch with Michigan State. The Spartans won the earlier meeting on a Hail Mary as time expired. Many remembered it was ruled down inside the one, but replay reversed the call and the MSU touchdown gave Wisconsin their first loss of the year. This outcome may not come down to the last play, but it should be one of the more competitive championship games on the weekend. LSU should be able to handle Georgia in Atlanta. Oregon opened up as a 30 1/2 point favorite at home against UCLA. And that leaves the ACC Championship of the major BCS level conferences. As mentioned the ACC should be good, too. But let's see if Clemson can un-Clemson themselves with the Hokies.

As for bowl implications, we all await the outcomes of these games. Coach Fry always said, "There is no such thing as a bad bowl game." And while that is true, there are definitely advantages to some over others. What I am looking forward to are good bowl match-ups. There has been some talk of bowl giving up their alliances to conferences. That may be good at the BCS level. I've heard the Rose Bowl has no interest of giving up their conference affiliations, but I think the Orange may be interested in that. Last year I'm sure they enjoyed having Virginia Tech and Stanford, but the Cardinal didn't travel well across the country - much like UConn didn't to the Fiesta Bowl. Outside of the Title Game and Rose Bowl, let's get good, interesting match-ups in the most prestigious of bowl games.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Iowa - Nebraska Football

Gary Dolphin & Kirk Ferentz recording their pre-game radio show.
Not the typical Thanksgiving day routine for the Hawkeye football team, but it will become this in the future. Iowa and Nebraska will become the norm on Black Friday whether it is in Lincoln, Nebraska or Iowa City. The first meeting of the "Hereos Game" took place at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium and the outcome went to the home town team. But over 6,000 Iowans travelled across the border to the west for their first conference game in that direction.

Nebraska spent their first season in the Big Ten and it has turned out to be a good fit. The atmosphere is much like fans are accustomed to in Ann Arbor, Madison, Iowa City and Columbs. Football has traditionally been important to the fans in Nebraska and it is not taken lightly by them or by their university. Nebraska definitely is about Football.
 The rivalry between these two teams extends into the video departments. Husker Video Coordinator, Mike Nobler holds the travelling trophy that goes to the winning video staff. In the past the Huskers had a trophy with Colorado, the final game of their Big 12 schedule.
 Prior to the game the Husker Football Video Staff prepares for Senior Day. Within the office is a remote cam used to record the end zone angle for exchange purposes. That remote cam is used by both teams, but we were the first to experiment sharing the network tv platform in the south end zone. Important to the Iowa Football staff is having each end zone shot for teaching purposes. The Iowa coaches like to have their backs to the camera, something our video staff was able to provide for all but two games (Minnesota and Purdue).
 The tradition of Nebraska Football is something everyone in Lincoln is proud of. Although they haven't won a conference championship since 1999, they are proud of their individual and team honors. Above is a sampling of the national honors - Heisman Trophies - and alongside of these (not pictured) are the Remington, Outland and others.
 Of course the Husker fans are proud of their National Championships. The bulk of them came in the 90s. These greet you as you enter the Nebraska Football offices.
And part of the current tradition of Nebraska Football is the Tunnel Walk. It may have been the original team entrance in college football, and many are patterned after it today. On this red carpet the players leave their locker room to the 80,000+ fans of Memorial Stadium.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Huskers the Heroes in 2011

Nebraska took home the bragging rights in the first annual "Heroes Game" with the University of Iowa. The Huskers were victorious 20-1 which found the Huskers with the advantage in many of the statistical categories. It was the first time these two border rivals met in Big Ten Conference play.

The regular season is complete for the Hawkeys with a bowl game and destination to be announced the first Sunday of December.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Night Out on the Town

The season started with a tequila bar, and it will end with one as well. However the sites of the two couldn't be anymore different. The first was adjacent to the campus of Arizona State in Tempe. But this most recent post, Barrio is found in downtown Minneapolis, part of the Nicollet Mall area.

The location of Barrio is uniquely different. Many of the establishments in the area offer something different. Down one side of the street is a English pub - Brit's Pub - offering authentic fare with an rooftop bar that would be an ideal spot in the summer months. Across the street is the NewsRoom, aptly named for the many newspapers that line the walls. Next door is "The Local," an Irish pub offering the most poured Jameson Irish Whiskey, if that's your thing. And after trying it out, I realized it isn't my thing.

But Barrio is much different than any of those. First of all it is truly a tequila bar. A variety of labels are stacked behind the bar, high enough that a ladder is necessary to access some of the higher quality brands. And it is necessary to have all of those brands as the menu featuring the different drinks is vast.

And the clientele inside Barrio is not necessarily what you would find in any of the other bars. It definitely has a core target audience and entertains those who are inquisitive by the low lights and bottles of tequila. The wait staff is warm and welcoming to all patrons. And if you are lucky, you could be entertained by a random movie that is shown on the wall opposite of the bar. The one we were entertained to was of the independent variety.
The mass quantities of tequila behind the bar

Nicollet Mall is a great area for shopping, dining and nightlife. Barrio is one place that would be a definite stop. Each downtown establishment mentioned would provide much fun, and something for everyone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Big Ten's Third Memorial Stadium

As the Big Ten added Nebraska it also added a third Memorial Stadium. Indiana and Illinois already have stadiums with that name. And Nebraska has it too. Memorial Stadium is a nice of way of remembering either fallen heroes, but the rich traditions of some of these schools cannot offer an additional name that signifies their tradition. Or in the case of Indiana, you cannot find a sponsor who will add their name for the right price? And, Indiana and Illinois are so similar that their basketball areas share the same name - Assembly Hall.

Nebraska has played the day after Thanksgiving for a number of years. Most recently it was against Colorado, and before that the Oklahoma Sooners. Iowa now has become that team and this is new territory for the Hawkeyes. Game week preparation has been accelerated, and the work week has begun earlier. School is out for the team allowing them additional time to recover and prepare for what looks to become a holiday tradition.

This will be Iowa's first trip to Lincoln, Nebraska since 2000. On that September afternoon, the Hawkeyes played the Huskers as good as they possibly could. It was the second year for Kirk Ferentz and the team was still building to get to Nebraska's performance level. Up until the last play of the second half, Nebraska could only muster a one-point lead. But on the half's final play, Nebraska capitalized on a Hail Mary which gave Nebraska a 21-13 lead, and they never looked back.

This Friday's game begins at 11am on ABC.

College Football Week 12

This week we honor a loyal reader of the blog with a University of North Carolina Cheerleader. Perhaps he would like to contribute to the blog with his own "Night Out on the Town" post?

This was definitely not the weekend to play for a university that begins with "O." Of those who had much on the line on a national or conference level, they were defeated. It started Friday night with the upset of Oklahoma State. The state of Oklahoma then had to deal with another upset the following night as the Sooners lost to Baylor. Moving to the Pacific Northwest, Oregon had positioned themselves for a spot in the BCS title game, only to be defeated by USC. And in the Big Ten Ohio State lost any chance at the Big Ten title game by losing to Penn State. Definitely a gutsy performance for the Nittany Lions - a group of players being punished in the court of public opinion for something they had nothing to do with.

Had the Big Ten not gone to division play, the typical end of the year match-up between Michigan State and Penn State may have been for the Big Ten title. Instead Penn State has their own division championship game on the last weekend, but in Madison against the Badgers. Definitely the most important conference game of the weekend, but there is much on the line for a number of teams jockeying for bowl position. Iowa secured their spot and improved their ranking with the win over Purdue. Northwestern secured their position while Purdue can do so this weekend with a win at Indiana. And while Illinois has struggled over their last five games, they are still bowl bound. But Michigan's final home game with Ohio State may prove the most pivotal for every one's bowl standing. A Wolverine win and each team may be able to jump a spot. Many are projecting Michigan to make a BCS bowl with a ten win season - currently they are 9-2.

Another game of the weekend will be in Conference USA. Houston travels to Tulsa and defends their undefeated streak against the Golden Hurricane. The winner of the game will be the champions of the West Division and earn the right to play in the conference championship game. The Cougars have much to lose in Central Oklahoma.

And finally the premier football conference in 2011 is the SEC. And while the BCS top three teams have earned the most recognition one team that gets set aside is Georgia. Starting the season 0-2 the Bulldogs have quietly won 9 straight and will play for the conference title the first weekend of December. This past weekend created "BCS Chaos" with many teams in the top five losing. But what kind of chaos would we have if Georgia wins the SEC to earn the automatic BCS bid?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend in West Lafayette

 There are few stadiums in the Big Ten that have their stadium is such close proximity to its Campus. Ross-Ade Stadium is literally across the street from many of its buildings of higher learning. This gateway to the Purdue campus is located at the corner of Stadium John Wooden Drive and Stadium Avenue.

 Purdue is known for their engineering programs. One graduate of the school is astronaut Neil Armstrong. This statue is erected in front of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering where a replica of Apollo One resides inside.
 Football isn't the most important sport south of South Bend in Indiana. Basketball is the sport of choice in the Hoosier State. Freshly renovated Mackey Arena is the home to Boilermaker Basketball. Purdue honors its past in many ways throughout the concourse. But the highest honor goes to long time coach Gene Keady as his name adores the actual playing court.
 Prior to leaving the locker room at home or on the road, each member of the Iowa Football team must touch the "Break the Rock" sign above the final exit to the field.
 It was Senior Day for not only the Purdue Football team, but also for members of its spirit squads and marching band. Purdue has long been known for a number of traditions in its marching band.  Among them is the pre-game ritual of "I Am an American" where those in attendance state their belief in unison declaring, "I Am an American" at the end of the patriotic program. Purdue also boasts of owning the World's Largest Drum. And on this final Saturday of the home football season, each senior member of the marching band unit had the opportunity to bang the drum for the final time.
It was a happy locker room following the Hawkeye victory. But many members of the local Iowa media as well as the Big Ten Network cram into the small room off from the visitor locker room at Ross - Ade Stadium. It was a disappointingly attended game for those supporting the Boilermakers, but the Iowa media continues to follow Iowa in every town they play in.