Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pack's Eugene knows Orange Bowl history

The first college football game N.C. State tailback Jamelle Eugene attended was at the Orange Bowl in 2002.

Eugene watched from the opposite end zone as Xavier Beitia’s field goal attempt missed wide left and Miami edged Florida State 28-27.

Now Eugene, a native of Naples, Fla., is playing as the opponent in Miami’s second-to-last game in the Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes are moving their games to Dolphin Stadium next season.

“A part of me is like, the Orange Bowl, this is it,” Eugene said. “I always looked forward to playing there. At least I’ll have the opportunity to play there one time. There’s so much history there.”

Eugene’s high-profile opportunity is the result of his own persistence. When he arrived at N.C. State in 2005, former coach Chuck Amato’s staff moved him to defensive back because it had so much young talent at running back in Bobby Washington, Andre Brown and Toney Baker.

Eugene lasted just one day at defensive back. He kept telling his coaches that he was a running back, and they told him they’d give him a shot there.

“I guess they saw the light or something,” Eugene said. “They decided to keep me there, and it’s been a blessing.”

Washington has transferred. Brown and Baker are injured. And Eugene has two performances of more than 100 yards in his last two games as he heads to the Orange Bowl.

– Ken Tysiac

Monday, October 29, 2007

BC just another story in Boston so far

Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan watched the first six innings of Game 4 of the World Series, then fell asleep.

He woke to find that the Boston Red Sox had completed their sweep of the Colorado Rockies. One obstruction preventing Ryan and Boston College from grabbing headlines in Boston was cleared.

Now there's another, Sunday's much anticipated meeting of undefeated NFL rivals, the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. If competing for the spotlight bothers Ryan, he's not admitting it.

"It's a great time to be in Boston" Ryan said Monday during a teleconference with reporters. "To be a part of the Boston sports scene is a good thing as well, so we're enjoying it."
If the college football season ended today, Boston College (8-0) would meet Ohio State in the BCS title game, and Ryan probably would win the Heisman Trophy. In a season when the other Heisman favorites have stumbled, Ryan produced the highlights that impress Heisman voters with two late touchdown passes for a 14-10 victory on national television Thursday night at Virginia Tech.

Since Miami and Virginia Tech and then Boston College joined the conference, ACC detractors have complained that its lack of a national title contender has made the league appear weak.

Now the ACC has a title contender and its first Heisman favorite since Chris Weinke in 2000. And if many sports fans in Boston get behind Ryan and Boston College along with the Red Sox and Patriots, the whole conference will benefit.

- Ken Tysiac

Monday, October 15, 2007

College football needs a playoff

It’s more obvious than ever.
College football needs a playoff. For the first time in history, the difference between the No. 1 and No. 15 teams in the nation seems negligible.

That means it’s ridiculous to pick two teams at the end of the season with some convoluted formula and have them play for the national title. It’s time to have a national championship that’s earned on the field.

Here’s how it should be done:
- Seed the six BCS conference champions, the best non-BCS team and one at-large team (this leaves room for Notre Dame) in an eight-team bracket.
- Include the current BCS bowl sites plus Atlanta, Dallas and one other city as neutral locations for the games.
- Charge some eager TV network $17 bajillion for the broadcast rights.

There, that was easy. And for you college presidents who pretend to be concerned about academics, we promise we can get this done long before the ridiculous Jan. 7 date when the current season’s BCS title game will be held. So the playoff system won’t interfere with second-semester classes the way the BCS system does.

And you can keep the second- and third-tier bowls operating as rewards for all the teams that have winning records but can’t get into the playoff.

If all the intelligent people who run our nation’s universities can’t figure out a way to implement such a playoff system, well, maybe they’re not as intelligent as we think. – Ken Tysiac

Monday, October 8, 2007

Shame on Butch Davis

Shame on coach Butch Davis and North Carolina.

Just when football season was about to transition seamlessly into basketball with Late Night with Roy approaching Friday, Davis’ team gave fans a reason to care about football.

During his news conference Monday, a writer from South Carolina asked whether last week’s 33-27 win over Miami would prevent the Gamecocks from overlooking North Carolina.

Davis replied that he didn’t have time to think about that. He has enough responsibilities trying to get his team ready for Saturday’s game with South Carolina and Steve Spurrier’s crew at Kenan Stadium.

But clearly the Miami win, which broke a four-game losing streak, gives the Tar Heels hope. After the game, safety Deunta Williams even talked about reaching the team’s goal of playing in a bowl game.

North Carolina (2-4) needs to win four of its six remaining games to do that, but it’s not out of the question with struggling N.C. State (1-5) and Duke (1-5) left on the schedule.

Davis wants North Carolina to be like Florida and Ohio State, where the football and basketball teams both contend for national titles. The Tar Heels are a long way from that level in football.

But having people excited about a football game against a top-10 opponent on the same weekend as Late Night is a step in the right direction. That’s what the win over Miami accomplished.

– Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Davidson keeps its head in coin toss

The Davidson football team has won eight of its past 10 games entering Saturday’s game against Morehead State, but the Wildcats might not have maintained the streak if not for a heads-up move during a coin toss.

Before Davidson’s 20-10 win Saturday against Jacksonville, the Dolphins won the coin toss, but a poor decision helped cost Jacksonville the game. When asked what they wanted to do, a Dolphins player said, "We’ll kick."
Davidson then smartly deferred to the second half, meaning the Wildcats would receive the kickoff in each half. Davidson needed that extra boost, scoring on its opening drive of the second half to help erase a 10-0 deficit and spark a victory.

"That was really the key to the game," Davidson coach Tripp Merritt said. "We scored on three plays, and that got us going again."

Davidson dominated the rest of the way, gaining 301 yards in the second half to only 111 yards for Jacksonville.

"It was just a mistake on their part," Merritt said. "But luckily our guys were paying attention and knew what to do."

-- Kevin Cary