The RTC 2011 College Football All-Americans (with a Hoops Twist)

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC Pac-12 and Mountain West correspondent and a frequent columnist. 

It’s that time of year again. Off in the distance, it could be a mirage, or it could be the start of college basketball season. It’s probably a mirage, but the Great Sports Desert (you know, that time of year between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of college football when normal American males actually have time to get stuff done) ends Thursday, as college football kicks off its 142nd season. And given the offseason that college football has had, it couldn’t come any sooner. Unfortunately, given all the scandals and arrests and the like, according to my source at the NCAA, it appears that literally every college football player will be ineligible for the coming year (at least I assume that is true – it’s not a very good source). As a result, football programs across this great nation have been scrambling for some last minute replacements. And, since we here at RTC are nothing if not diligent, we’ve spent the last few weeks scouring college football camps across the country while other lesser outlets have been reporting on things like a little scuffle in Baton Rouge and something-or-other about Miami (I’ll admit, I never got through that whole article, but I think I got the gist of it – Miami is a nice place to go to school, right?). Anyway, since we’re the only ones who seem to be on top of this sea change in college football, we’ll let you all in on some of our wisdom as we preview college basketball’s richer, more-spoiled sibling, with RTC’s official 2011 College Football All-American team.

Offense

High School Star Aaron Craft Will Fill In Nicely for Terrelle Pryor at OSU

  • QB: Aaron Craft (6’2″, 190 lbs), Ohio State: In light of the Buckeye football program’s recent troubles, new head coach Luke Stickell turns the reins over to the sophomore Craft. He’s not the quickest or fleetest of foot, but he is accurate, he’s tough and he’s a leader. There has been plenty of talk about the Heisman Trophy campaign of North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall, but until he takes better care of the ball (last year, he turned the ball over on almost 30% of all possessions), we’ll give the nod to Craft, who at least has the advantage of having played QB for three years in high school.
  • RB: Jordan Taylor (6’1″, 195 lbs), Wisconsin: The newest Badger tailback may not have the size of former greats like Ron Dayne and John Clay, but Taylor is a tough and smart runner who excels at finding a crease and finishing through contact.
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Let’s Kick It Off: Observing a College Football Weekend Through A Hoops Lens

Posted by rtmsf on September 2nd, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 Conferences and an occasional contributor.

Hooray! Today is the official end of the Great Sports Desert – you know, that period of time between the first Monday in April and the first weekend of the college football season. Beginning tonight, there are actual meaningful sporting events that I am interested in. Let’s be clear, I love college football. Easily my second favorite sport. But, I’m a college hoops junkie first and foremost, and part of the reason I love the start of college football season is because that means that the start of college basketball is within shouting distance from here. And, while looking over the slate of college football games this weekend, I couldn’t help but imagine some of these matchups as college basketball games. So, here I have, in reverse order, the ten most intriguing matchups of the college football weekend, provided they are re-imagined as season openers in basketball season.  (ed. note: yes, he is sick, but we love him for it)

College Sports is Back on the Calendar!

First, a nod to a handful of games which, being a junkie and all, definitely appeal to me, but were just a bit off of my top-10 list:

  • Pittsburgh @ Utah – on Thursday night, with only six other games on. If this was basketball season, and there were only six other games on, you could bet I’d watch some of this. Sure, Utah isn’t going to be very good, but it would be interesting to see Pitt go on the road early into a hostile environment.
  • Murray State @ Kent State – a very good mid-major matchup between one of last season’s Cinderellas and one of the MAC’s always competitive teams.
  • Connecticut @ Michigan – this game just sounds really good, but in reality, UConn is down and Michigan is, well, I would say Michigan is down, but its been awhile since they’ve been up.
  • Richmond @ Virginia – a big intrastate matchup between the A-10 and the ACC. If Virginia was just a little bit better, this may have made the cut, because UR will be very good again, but a road trip into the John Paul Jones Arena would be a good early test for Kevin Anderson and company.
  • Northwestern @ Vanderbilt – as enticing as this Wildcat/Commodore matchup would be between two talented teams with NCAA Tournament hopes, this just misses the cut.

And on to the top 10:

  • #10 – Washington State @ Oklahoma StateKlay Thompson, Reggie Moore and DeAngelo Casto invade the Gallagher-Iba Arena to provide a good early season test for a young Cowboy squad minus last season’s two leading scorers. While the young Cowboy guards Ray Penn and Keiton Page keep this close throughout, too much Thompson eventually does them in.

Predicted Football Score: Oklahoma State 31 Washington State 10

Predicted Basketball Score: Washington State 72 Oklahoma State 66

  • #9 – UCLA @ Kansas State – Kansas State is one of the teams on the short list of national title contenders. UCLA is, well, honestly, not very good at least judging by last season’s performance. But, they’re still UCLA. And their frontline of Reeves Nelson, Josh Smith and Tyler Honeycutt will test Curtis Kelly, Wally Judge and company, perhaps even to a draw. We’ll also get a first chance to see if the Bruins have even remotely solved their problems at the point, an area of concern that will eventually be the deciding factor in this matchup as Jacob Pullen eventually gets over on Malcolm Lee and the Wildcats pull away in the second half.

Pullen is Back With Another Strong Team

Predicted Football Score: UCLA 23 Kansas State 17

Predicted Basketball Score: Kansas State 70 UCLA 60

  • #8 – Syracuse @ AkronJim Boeheim taking his Orange on the road early against a Midwest mid-major? Sure, that’ll happen. But, if it did, I’d be thrilled to see my first glimpse of Syracuse freshman center Fab Melo battling the Zips own young center, sophomore seven-footer Zeke Marshall. Sure, the Orange’s talent would probably win out in the end with Akron not having an answer for Kris Joseph, but I’m pretty sure that we’d get at least 30 minutes of pretty compelling basketball here.

Predicted Football Score: Syracuse 24, Akron 20

Predicted Basketball Score: Syracuse 67 Akron 55

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Morning Five: 08.24.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 24th, 2010

  1. College athletic departments are not immune to the economic downturn either, as the NCAA reported that only fourteen of the 120 FCS (I-AA) schools turned a profit in the 2008-09 fiscal year.  Specific names were not released, but some of the usual suspects were confirmed by Transylvania University accounting professor Dan Fulks, who performed the research – Texas, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee.   Slightly more than half of the I-AA schools made money in both football and basketball, but the range between the two was quite a bit larger at the big football powerhouses.  It goes to show just how important these two cash cows are for athletic departments, though, as so few are actually turning a profit due to subsidizing the other sports.
  2. LSU guard Bo Spencer did not meet the school’s academic requirements, so the two-year starter who averaged 15/3/3 APG last season was dismissed from Trent Johnson’s program and will transfer to Nebraska as a walk-on, eligible to play in the 2011-12 campaign.  Yes, you read that correctly — he was unable to make the grade at LSU.   Regardless, Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler said that Spencer is not guaranteed a scholarship even for the year that he plays.  As an interesting side note, Spencer will sit the bench watching his teammates play Big 12 teams next year, but he will be playing Big Ten teams in his senior season after Nebraska changes conference affiliation.
  3. Hey, we enjoy college football as much as the next guy — if you’re a fan of college sports, how can you not?  But this is also the time of year when all the holier-than-thous come out of the woodwork (when every team is 0-0 and therefore still eligible for the national title game, unless your name is Utah, Boise State or TCU…) to tell us about the beauty and sanctity of the CFB regular season.  To that we say: get over yourselves.  If the entire regular season is a ‘playoff,’ then when teams lose one (and most definitely, two) game(s), we don’t want to hear about said team any more this season.  Of course, the hype machine doesn’t work that way (how many Notre Dame games in the last decade have been relevant?  One?), which goes to show that the entire argument is built on a house of cards anyway.
  4. Texas guard Varez Ward is leaving the Longhorn program and his likely destination, according to the Dallas Morning News, is Auburn.  Ward is supposedly moving closer to his Montgomery, Alabama, home to be closer to his mother who suffers from a heart condition.  Ward, as you recall, blew out his knee early last season in a bizarre incident in the layup line at the CBE Classic.  He was expected to have been a significant contributor last year, so even with super-frosh Cory Joseph in the fold, this is a definite blow to Rick Barnes’ backcourt depth, as described in detail over at Burnt Orange Nation.  Ward received a medical redshirt for last season, so he’ll have three years of eligibility left when he joins Tony Barbee’s club next year.
  5. The long national nightmare is over in Minneapolis, as Trevor Mbakwe finally suited up as a Gopher after a year in limbo as a result of his felony assault charge in Miami.  As we mentioned ten days ago, Mbakwe entered a diversionary program that will allow him to work off the charge through community service.  He expects to have that completed prior to Minnesota’s first regular season game in early November.  The Gophers are practicing this week in preparation for a trip to Canada during Labor Day weekend, and Mbakwe’s size and strength inside — he hopes to lead the conference in rebounding — should help Tubby Smith’s team reach its goals for another trip to the NCAA Tournament and a finish in the top half of the Big Ten.  Below is an interview he did yesterday showing how excited he is to finally get to lace them up…

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Greg Paulus Debuts at Syracuse, Throws Game Away

Posted by rtmsf on September 5th, 2009

We promise we won’t do this every week he plays, but we wanted to post about Greg Paulus’ debut as the starting QB at Syracuse today.  Considering that he hadn’t played competitive football in five years, his overall performance was pretty astounding (19-31 for 167 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT).  Most of his success was in the first half, though, as all twenty Orange points and the majority of its yardage came before the break.  Syracuse led 20-14, but in the second half, Paulus’ offense sputtered as the Orange managed only three first downs the rest of the way.

Paulus Had His Ups and Downs Today (AP/Kevin Rivoli)

Paulus Had His Ups and Downs Today (AP/Kevin Rivoli)

However, it was what happened in the overtime that will mark Paulus’ first game as disappointing.  At third and goal from the Minnesota five, Paulus peeled left and threw into triple coverage in the end zone rather than dumping the ball into the stands.  The pass was intercepted by Nate Triplett, setting up Minnesota’s FG to win the game 23-20 on its next possession.  This will be written off as a rookie mistake by a player who had an otherwise solid debut game, but to our untrained eyes it was vaguely reminiscent of several end-of-game scenarios involving a young Paulus at Duke (this one especially).  Rather than making the smart, simple decision, he choked on it at a critical juncture and ended up hurting his team.

It’ll be interesting to see how Paulus plays the rest of the season and if he learns from this mental error.  At minimum, Syracuse appears better than they were last year, which has to give Orange fans something to rally around.

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08.20.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 20th, 2007

Some random morsels on Michael Vick Day in America:

  • And now on to the next great great political debate, Swift Boat style.  Did Obama play ball at Occidental or not?  There appears to be some dispute on this story, with a blogger at the Fanhouse refuting the original story we linked to from last week, while someone else dug up an old Washington Post quote from his coach talking about his game.  This is so much more interesting than whether W showed up for air guard duty!
  • Aggiesports.com reports with an in-depth article on Billy G‘s first 100 days in Lexington.
  • Quick, what Big East team has the most wins in the Big East Tournament during the 2000s?  If you said Pittsburgh (15 wins, largely due to five runner-up finishes) give yourself a Dave Gavitt doll.
  • Andy Katz exonerated Roy Williams from the accusation that he was still recruiting Wake Forest commit 6’11 PF Ty Walker after the death of Skip Prosser several weeks ago.  There was apparently some misunderstanding over a letter of condolences sent by Williams to Walker regarding the incident (from Katz’s blog – subscriber only).
  • A small newspaper article in Missouri confirms what we’ve always known as true about the upcoming college football season (which, admittedly, we enjoy very much despite its fundamental flaws):
    • But that’s what we’re asked to do year after year during college football season, as the “best regular season” leads way to the “worst postseason” of any sport. Sure, the bowl games are great for TV viewing on New Year’s Day, but most of them are meaningless and the game we’re supposed to care the most about happened during the second week of January last season.

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