Apr 30 2011

So Long, Russell


Russell Wilson leaves the field after playing his last game for the Pack. (photo by Ethan Hyman/N&O)

It’s official now, Russell Wilson’s NC State football career is over.  TOB had been giving us signs that this day was coming ever since his Signing Day press conference, but the final hammer came down Friday.  NC State granted Russell his release so that he can pursue opportunities in football at another university.  If nothing else the timing of this is absurd.  A day after NC State celebrated Russell’s selection as the Arthur Ashe Jr. Male Sports Scholar of the Year, he’s being shown the door.  Anybody that thinks this decision was made by anybody other than TOB is a little naive.  You can feel the resentment towards Wilson playing baseball dripping from these quotes:

“Russell and I have had very open conversations about his responsibilities respective to baseball and football.  While I am certainly respectful of Russell’s dedication to baseball these last several years, within those discussions I also communicated to him the importance of his time commitment to NC State Football.”

“My staff and I thank him for his contributions as a member of Wolfpack football and to this University and wish him only the best in the future.”

I don’t necessarily disagree with TOB.  In order for our football team to be the best that it can be we need everybody devoted to the program 100%.  Having said that, in an ACC where up to 9 schools will be with new starting QBs next season, it’s gonna be awfully tough to swallow seeing Russell playing football in the fall and it not being for the Wolfpack.  The terms of the release will not let Russell play for another ACC team or anybody else on the Pack’s schedule, but it’s still a lost opportunity.

Who knows how this works out in the long run for both parties, but in the short term it will probably mean 1 or 2 more losses for the Pack this season.  Mike Glennon now not only has the pressure of replacing Wilson, but knowing that TOB ran Wilson off to turn the reigns over to him.  No pressure at all.  TOB has been declaring Glennon is as good as any QB he’s ever coached (the Atlanta Falcons’ Matty Ice included) so for the sanity of Wolfpack fans everywhere let’s hope he’s right.

In true Russell Wilson fashion he was nothing but classy and said all the right things about this:

“Although I remain undecided on the option of playing college football this coming season, I believe it is in the best interest of the players and coaches involved to end any speculation of my return to the Wolfpack. It has become apparent that the time has come for the program to move on without me.”

“I am forever grateful to NC State for allowing me the privilege of participating in athletics for four years. I especially appreciate the cooperation among coaches who allowed me to pursue my dream of playing two sports. I also want to thank the great fans of NC State University. Your love and support was a gift that I appreciated every day and will treasure my entire life.”

“While my immediate plan includes playing professional baseball, I have not closed the door on football. With one more season of college eligibility remaining, I will continue to explore and consider all my options.”

I really enjoyed watching Russell play for the Red & White, even though he frustrated the hell out of me sometimes with his redzone INTs.  As I tweeted yesterday, someone close to the situation said that 3 schools Russell has mentioned are Texas, LSU, and Auburn.  Regardless of what Russell said in the press release, I think he has definitely decided he wants to play football in the fall.

Thanks Russell!  Best wishes as you pursue your baseball and football careers!

[Update 5/1:  Russell talked to the N&O yesterday.  He is “really torn up” about leaving because “NC State means the world” to him.  He also went on to say, “it’s heartbreaking that I had to go.”  Don’t worry Russell, all State fans agree.  This situation just went from bad to way way way worse.  TOB built up a lot of goodwill with the fans after last year’s 9-4 season, but this decision has put the bullseye squarely on his back again.  I hope he knows what he’s doing or it could get real ugly for him.]

[Update 5/2:  I heard today, from a different source close to the situation, that for Russell to play football this fall he would have to break the conditions of his contract w/ the Colorado Rockies.  I don’t want to speculate what that might mean for his baseball career, just want to put that info out there to shed some more light on what all likely went into this decision.]

Oct 22 2010

Week 8 Picks

I told myself when I first started this that I would have one rule … never pick NC State, no matter how much of a lock it was.  I had resisted the temptation to go against that rule until last week and the Pack reminded me why I made it.  Not only was I pissed that we didn’t cover that short line, but we lost straight up.  Talk about the ultimate kick in the gut.  Moving on, I loved the Texas pick and they won straight up.  So the 3rd game would determine if I had a winning week or not.  I had every one of my leans (which went 4-1) in there at one point and had Iowa -4.0 too, but last minute I changed to the Under and it lost big time.  So a 1-2 record last week drops me down to a 9-12 record on the year.  I’m still aiming for .500 and it’s gonna take a perfect 3-0 week to get there so let’s give it a shot.  Here are DFCF the Greek’s week 8 picks:

#6 LSU (+5.5) at #4 Auburn

“The Hat” (a.k.a. Les Miles) has been criticized more than any other coach this year, yet he has the Bayou Bengals at 7-0 and ranked #6 in the country.  Yeah he struggles with clock management in the end-of-half and end-of-game scenarios, but the guy finds ways to get the job done.  You know the saying, “it’s better to be lucky than good.”  Well his team is pretty darn good too, especially on defense.  That’s the key to this game.  Auburn is a good team, but their whole offense is QB Cam Newton and LSU will find ways to contain him.  This will be your typical SEC slobberknocker that comes down to a field goal.  Geaux Tigers!

#16 Nebraska (-5.5) at #14 Oklahoma State

Mike Gundy is a man!  He’s 40! That is THE all-time great postgame press conference rant!  Gundy has his Cowboys undefeated (6-0) and ranked #14 in the country right now, but I think they are vastly overrated.  They can score points with anybody (49.5 ppg, #2 scoring offense), but they haven’t played any good teams.  Definitely nobody with a defense the caliber of Nebraska’s blackshirts.  Nebraska had a demoralizing loss last week to Texas so there’s a chance of a hangover effect, but I think they bounce back with a statement game.

Syracuse at #20 West Virginia (-13.5)

West Virginia is quietly having a very good year.  Their only loss was a 20-14 loss at the above mentioned LSU.  They are getting very good play from QB Geno Smith and their defense is one of the best in the country (12.33 ppg, #3 scoring defense).  Syracuse has played better than expected so far this year, but both real opponents they’ve played have smoked them (Washington 41-20 and Pitt 45-14).  This is a noon game so the Mountaineers will sleep walk through the first half, but will still dominate the Orange and win by at least 3 TDs.

Season Record: 9-12

My leans last week were 4-1, best on the season.  Hopefully I can match it this week.  Here they are:  Oklahoma (-3), Western Michigan (-7.5), Iowa (-6), South Carolina (-12.5), and Northwestern (+6).  Good luck!

Apr 22 2010

More Chancellor Woodson

Tuesday I posted this write-up welcoming Chancellor Woodson.  Then today, Tim Peeler of GoPack has a great article about getting to know Chancellor Woodson (click here to read it) which deals more with the sports angle of his chancellorship.  Not sure if I used that term correctly, but I’m an engineer not an english major so it sounds good to me.  I loved what Chancellor Woodson had to say.  Here’s some of the quotes that stood out to me:

What I see is a university whose alumni are passionate about athletics. I have already heard from a lot of them.”

“… we have world-class facilities for athletics at NC State. All the pieces appear to be very strong to put this puzzle together. But our alums and our fans want us to win. And, frankly, I like to win too.”

I just need to do everything I can to create an environment here where the coaches can be successful and the student-athletes can be successful. I’ll be a big fan, but I need the athletics director to be the person [in charge of] the coaches and the organization.”

Let’s not go back and tell [Purdue athletics director] Morgan Burke this, but Saturday’s game was a bigger spring event than I ever experienced at Purdue.”

What I take from all these quotes is that NC State should have a successful athletics program and that Chancellor Woodson will do everything in his power to make sure that is the case.  That is definitely something that DFCF is on board with and it gets even better.  The quote that should really give all of Wolfpack Nation a warm fuzzy feeling that Chancellor Woodson understands “it” is the following:

In 1974, I was a high school student and I just remember seeing David Thompson play on television. I had never seen anybody jump like he did. He was such an iconic basketball player.In terms of 1983, it was just such a wild ending to a season. This was a team that was on the bubble of even going to the NCAA. I was at LSU during that season. It just is an iconic moment in college basketball history. I have also come to appreciate that Reynolds Coliseum was a huge part of the growth of college basketball in the state of North Carolina. I think Everett Case was, too. To a certain extent, Duke and North Carolina should be grateful to NC State for what was created here.”

He saved the best for last, huh?  As I read that it felt like I was sitting in the back pew of a Southern Baptist church … Amen Brother Woodson!  Preach on!  He not only realizes how important it is now, but how important it has been to our school’s history.  Call me crazy or call me a homer (not homo), but if NC State athletics were a stock I’d definitely be buying as much as I could right now.

Mar 17 2010

The DFCF Plan

March Madness starts tomorrow and all I can think about is why can’t we have this same excitement about college football?  Well it’s because … the BCS = Epic Fail.  I’m not really down with all the internet lingo, but I think that’s how the kids are saying it these days.  Actually I think it’s way more cool to say … the BCS “pwns” the NCAA.  That one still seems really lame to me and, for all you normal people out there, that is not a typo (although it started out that way and became its own word).  Anyway, I digress.  The point is the BCS system is a sucky way to determine the national champion.

The opinions of how to change it are like … uhm, let’s go with belly buttons … everybody’s got one.  You have the BCS plus-one format, another tier-based BCS plus-one, a 12-team playoff, a 16-team playoff called the Wetzel Plan (similar to Joe Rozsa’s plan), a 24-team playoff, and on and on and on.  Even our country’s fearless leader has an 8-team playoff in mind even though he hasn’t really given us any details about it.  Shocking, I know!

So now it comes to me.  I’m not a college football expert by any means, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  That was not funny at all and I’m not even getting paid for that plug.  Oh well, moving on.  I’ve read most of the proposals out there and I’ve thought about this a lot “dating back” (ding … inside joke) to 2002 when NC State was ranked 10th in the AP poll and 9th in the BCS standings.  Not that I think NC State can ever realistically win a national championship, but under the current BCS system we will never even get that chance.  I did a presentation on this very topic in my Public Speaking class back in 2002 during the week leading up to the Georgia Tech game.  Sorry!  Don’t blame me!

Because the BCS is so skewed towards the big name programs, even if NC State had remained unbeaten in 2002 we would not have played for the national championship.  Looking at some of those big programs; Ohio State, Texas, Southern Cal, LSU, Florida, Miami, Oklahoma, and Florida State have all appeared in multiple BCS title games and comprise 20 of the 24 total spots in the twelve year history of the game.  That would be like skipping the whole March Madness Tournament and making the Final Four consist of some grouping of Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan St., UCLA, and UConn every year.  Blasphemy, I say!

Ok, I’ve rambled on enough already so … drum roll please!  I humbly present the DFCF Plan:

  • Conference Alignment – All the big six (a.k.a. BCS) conferences should expand to at least 12 teams.  I don’t know or ultimately care who the Big Ten, Pac-10, or Big East would want, although it seems like we could be finding out soon what the Big Ten and Pac-10 have in mind.  Both have begun exploring their expansion opportunities.  I do have my dream conference alignments, but that’s for another post … maybe later this week.
  • Schedule – The regular season schedule should be cut back to 11 games consisting of 8 conference and 3 non conference games with no games against D1AA teams allowed (with this plan the terms FBS and FCS would thankfully become obsolete).  I’m pretty sure that huge cheer you just heard was coming from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Other than that, who’s really going to miss Florida vs. Charleston Southern or Alabama vs. UT-Chattanooga (both actual matchups from this past season)?  I would, however, be fine with one preseason exhibition game against a D1AA team that didn’t count towards records or player eligibility ala the NFL.  Just a thought.
  • Conference Championships – Let me be the first to say that I hate conference divisions.  It seems like more times than not the best two (or even three) teams are from the same division so the conference divisions should be scraped.  The conference schedules should have two common opponents and rotate the other six games with the best two teams meeting in the conference championship game period.
  • Non Big Six Conferences – I haven’t forgot about you guys.  The best two teams from all the non big six conferences should meet in a pseudo “Little Guys” Championship game.
  • Playoff Bracket – The playoff should consist of eight teams: the six conference champs, the little guys champ, and one at large team that cannot be a championship game loser.  How about a game between the next best “big boys” team and the next best “little guys” team.  What, no convoluted formula or biased committee to determine that last spot?  Actually deciding it on the field?  What nerve I have!  Okay, I guess you would need a formula or committee to determine playoff seeding, but as long as the champ is decided on the field I don’t think seeding matters that much.
  • Playoff Schedule – The conference championship games would remain where they are now … the first weekend of December.  The following weekend would be an off weekend.  Then the playoffs would begin with the first round being played on the third weekend of December and the second round on the fourth weekend.  Then the championship would take place a week and half later in the same Thursday night prime time spot that the BCS championship game has held for the past few years.  All playoff games would be played at neutral sites … preferably a rotation between the current Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta Bowl venues.
  • Bowls – For this plan to really work some of the bowls would have to be kept, just not all of them.  Let’s say 12-14 bowls were kept and all played on or right around New Year’s Day.  It would keep the New Year’s Day bowl tradition going, reward the teams that had very good seasons, give us some exciting football to watch, and fill in the break between the semifinals and the championship game.

I’m sure my plan isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn close, right?  All I did was try to make it exciting and fair for everybody.  I’m pretty sure that I at least accomplished that.  I might have missed addressing a few of the common reasons we hear for not having a playoff, but I didn’t miss these …  This plan does keep importance on the regular season and it does include the non big six conference teams.  It also does not lengthen the schedule too much (one extra game for the championship game participants than under the current system).  Most importantly, it will determine a true champion.

Feel free to comment on how awesome this plan is or ways you would tweak it.

Feb 3 2010

Wishing Upon Some Stars

Well 2010 National Signing Day has come and gone.  It was a pretty routine day around the Murphy Center.  No surprises, good or bad.  My take: there are a few guys that really impress me, but overall it’s a lot of average.  I will admit it’s a little crazy ranking the classes 7 months before these guys ever play their first game, but if you think the rankings don’t matter then you’re a little naive.

There’s a bunch of different recruiting services that release rankings, so I averaged the rankings from Rivals, Scout, and ESPN to come up with a consensus ranking.  Let’s look at the consensus Top 10 classes in order:  Florida, Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, USC (sorry Cock fans … this is the real USC), LSU, UCLA, Florida State, and Penn State.  That list reads like a Who’s Who of college football programs.  It includes the last seven national champions and eight of them show up in the top 14 on the Top 25 College Programs of the Decade list put together by my buddies over at Frumpzilla (one of my college roomies and half my fantasy football league keep that site running so show them some love).  It’s a lot easier to win when you have the best players so let’s all just agree that the rankings do matter.

Speaking of rankings let’s get back to the Wolfpack’s class.  The recruiting gurus have it as the 6th or 7th best class … in the ACC.  I guess that is better than where we’ve finished in the actual league standings during the TOB era.  I just expect better than that, especially with our passionate fan base and the best facilities in the ACC (per ESPN).  We did get a few guys that I’m really excited about (shown in the picture below) including one BIG time pickup, literally.

The six guys I'm most excited about.

The jewel of the class is OL Rob Crisp (6’7″ 299lb.) out of Raleigh.  He was rated one of the best players, regardless of position, in the country and should man the LT spot for the next four years.  Two others that have me excited are DB’s David Amerson and Dontae Johnson.  Hopefully they can step in immediately next year and help solve the massive problems we had in the secondary this past year.  The final three I can’t wait to see in the Red and White are WR’s Tony Creecy and Bryan Underwood, and RB Mustafa Greene.  You can never have too many speedy playmakers and I think these three will fit that mold for the Pack.  I’m sure there will be a really good player or two come out of the rest of the class, but these are the six that have me looking to the future with hope and anticipation.

To these six and all the other new Wolfpackers (click here for bios) … welcome to the family!  You made the best decision of your life (I’m not biased at all).  To TOB, take a day to do your honey do’s, then start working on next year’s class.  GO PACK!