Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Football madness. I really am sorry to all of you who aren't into college and pro football. If you're a baseball fan, you can read the latest about that idiot managing the Brewers here. While you're there, stop and leave a comment - preferably a message of support to those who put that thing together. They deserve it, because they saw the writing on the wall before a lot of people did. And, yes, we did get Yosted again on Tuesday night. If you're a basketball fan, well go to True Hoop, because I just can't get into this FIBA thing, and nothing else is really happening in the NBA.

Hockey fans, hang tight. We're still about a month away. It's going to be fun.

College football gets started tomorrow night. Instead of being lame and trying to give you reasons why college football is better than NFL football, I've instead decided to try something different. You'll never see more than 16 NFL games in one weekend, even if you have the Sunday Ticket package. The following is a list of games I will be able to watch this Saturday alone, and it is without the benefit of a pay-per-view purchase.

East Carolina at Virginia Tech
UAB at Michigan State
Colorado State vs Colorado
Marshall at Miami (FL)
Appalachian State at Michigan
Northeastern at Northwestern
Youngstown State at Ohio State
Florida International at Penn State
Virginia at Wyoming
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Mississippi Valley State
Southern vs. Florida A&M
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame
Wake Forest at Boston College
Washington State at Wisconsin
Missouri vs. Illinois
UCLA at Stanford
Iowa vs. Northern Illinois
Western Michigan at West Virginia
Arizona at BYU
Baylor at TCU
Oklahoma State at Georgia
North Texas at Oklahoma
Purdue at Toledo
Army vs Akron
Kansas State at Auburn
Tennessee at California
Indiana State at Indiana
Bowling Green at Minnesota
New Mexico at UTEP
Idaho at USC

30 games. No extra charge to me. This doesn't count any games I can find online. I know what I'll be doing Saturday.

Stupid NCAA rules. Brian Cook had this on FanHouse earlier today. The gist: An Oklahoma recruit was shot and killed a few days back. In order to help his family pay the $9,000 for the funeral, some OU fans started up a fund to raise money. The NCAA intervened and informed the fans that such a fund is a violation of NCAA rules, unless a waiver is requested by OU - and subsequently granted.

The stupidity of this knows no bounds. The sports world in general is wrought with image problems. Even fans occasionally do things that tarnish the overall image of sports fans. For once, someone is trying to make something good come out of a horrible story, and the NCAA intervenes to end the goodness.

I understand that they have rules. But why is a waiver required in order to raise money to help a family fund a funeral for a freaking murder victim?

UMD football opener. Last year, the Bulldogs may have actually had a better team, but they took a step back in terms of record and conference standing, going 6-4 overall and 4-4 in the North Central Conference. This season, UMD opens with a ridiculously tough three-game home slate, hosting three postseason teams from a year ago (Bemidji State, Missouri Western, and South Dakota). Leading the offense for a third year is starting quarterback Ted Schlafke. The junior didn't miss a start last year, but played hurt for much of the year.

The team ended the year on a high note, beating St. Cloud State to clinch a winning season, and in the process, UMD showed off the potential to run the ball more effectively than they had all season to that point. The Bulldogs, under head coach Bubba Schweigert and offensive coordinator Phil Longo, finally get to run the same system for a second straight year. The offense should look more fluid with all their returning experience. Even though star Greg Aker is gone, the passing game will click with Schlafke at the helm.

One key will be flashing a competent running game. The Bulldogs were often bad running the ball, which put more pressure on Schlafke to make plays with his arm, and it allowed defenses to key on the passing game. There's no doubt that today's brand of football doesn't require actual offensive balance, but a team that doesn't show it can run the ball is going to have a long day, much like how a team that doesn't show it can throw the ball is often going to struggle. It's not about 50/50 balance. It's about showing you're capable of 50/50 balance.

Defensively, UMD is loaded. Senior LBs Jon Rufledt, Nate Fears, and Cody Ahmann lead the way, but junior safeties Jim Johnson and Tyler Yelk also return. It's as experienced a defense as you're going to find anywhere in the NCC, and it might be the best defense UMD has fielded under Schweigert.

As I mentioned, the schedule is tough. The three postseason opponents to kick off the season are followed by a road trip to Central Washington, who is coming off a pretty successful NCC debut. The Bulldogs also travel to Nebraska-Omaha and have a home date with North Dakota in October.

This is the final year of North Central Conference football, and it looks like UMD will be right in the thick of the title picture when November comes.

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