|09.04.09 at 3:13 pm ET|
Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani joined Steve DeOssie, Greg Dickerson and Jon Meterperel on the Dennis & Callahan Show to preview the upcoming season. Coach Spaz and the boys joked about honey-do lists, information sources and DeOssie’s ability to jump back onto the field (or on the sidelines?).
Highlights from the conversation are below.
Coach, what are your nerves like the day before your first game running the helm at Boston College?
Well, I think it’s the normal apprehension, making sure all the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted and, you know, what I did I think of what didn’t I think of, blah, blah, blah.
I got a lot of great assistants helping me out, so we are ready to go.
Was there ever a point throughout this preseason or throughout this whole process since January, when you were hired, when you felt overwhelmed?
No. Never. I think there’s two ways to go with new jobs; you’re either overwhelmed or energized and I was the latter.
Coach, so far in the preseason and training camp overall with a guy like Mark Herzlich going down, how has your defense been able to step up? How have the guys reacted to his absence?
Well, you know, Steve, you played. There is a reaction and we’re going to miss these guys but it’s life, it’s sports, it’s whatever it is. But, you know, certainly going to miss him but we’ve got to go on. We’ve got to play Saturday at two o’clock and when it gets down to it, you know, you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to move on and make the best of it and somebody’s got to pick up the sword and move forward.
Who are your most pleasant surprises over the last month in camp?
Well, we’ve had, a lot of the younger guys, you know, this class that we had coming in they look like they are real prospects and a lot of the younger guys that have had to step up have done a good job. But the biggest surprise has been how well everybody’s adapted to the new staff, the players and making progress. I mean, we’re getting better everyday, believe me, we have a long way to go, but we are getting better everyday.
You look at the two-deep (depth chart) coach and there is redshirt freshman and true freshman. It’s all around that two-deep and I know that might be daunting for some coaches but you feel that you are well armed because have Gary Tranquill running your offense and you promote Bill McGovern to run the defense, what does that mean for your team?
Well, first of all, Gary is a Hall of Fame coach. He might be one of the best football coaches I have ever been around. Well, he certainly is, let me say that. He’s one of the best coaches in the country. He’s been through a lot of things and if there is anybody who can handle the issues over there on offense it’s Gary. I mean he’s not going to be thrown off-kilter by anything we have over there.
And Billy, I’ve worked with Billy for 10 years, you know, the system’s in place and, you know, Billy’s getting his chance to do what he can do.
Deossie wanted the gig, I think.
Well, he’s uh. . . we’ll let him play. . .
How do you see the ACC stacking up this year? It’s going to be pretty good competition this year across the board.
Well, the thing about the league is, well, you know, we had our conferences meetings down there early on, and this year a lot of the teams have better quarterback situations. Not us withstanding. But, most of the teams have quarterbacks coming back, they’ve played for a while and usually that’s a good sign for a league.
You talked about the quarterback situation. Does that keep you up at night and how do you think it sorts itself out over the next few weeks and the first part of the season?
Well, a lot of things keep me up at night and that might be the 1:30 or two o’clock feeding but it’s going to sort itself out. We have young men there and they each have redeeming qualities and we would have hoped that it would have been a little clearer right now but that’s not the case, so we have to play and see how it sorts itself out and hopefully these guys will separate from one another and we will be a little more solid at that position.
You’re going to start Justin Tuggle tomorrow. . . first career start, redshirt freshman. . .
Is that the word? You tell me. You tell me. My sources indicate.
Sources?! You’re talking to the source!
What we have is that either Dave (Shinskie) or Justin (Tuggle) is going to start the game and Mike (Marscovetra) is going to plan. I mean, that’s the plan right now. And, once again, it’s a game and, you know, we have to win. So, we are going to do what’s best for the team but we have to keep in mind that winning is what’s best for the team.
Hey, Uncle Dave Shinskie, you mention him. If he does start tomorrow it will be his first snap in seven years. What do you like about him?
First of all Dave is, obviously, Dave has some maturity on him. He’s been around the block a little, done some things. And, he has the skills, he has the physical talent to be a quarterback at this level. Once again, what he hasn’t done is taken snaps and we have to find that out about him. Unfortunately he missed a couple scrimmages so the evaluation process was set back a little.
Coach, your take on what happened in Tampa yesterday and your predecessor with coach Jags being let go by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday?
Well, let me just say this, I don’t really have a take on it but my thoughts are with Jeff and his family because anytime you have that anxiety or that kind of turmoil, it’s your personal issues and your family that need to be addressed first.
Fair, unfair, that a guy like Rahim Morris calls him a guy that wasn’t a details guy or a guy that wasn’t precise? Did you see anything like that in your time with him at Boston College?
Well, once again, the situation with Boston College and the situation at Tampa . . . I’m not at Tampa. All I know is that we won a lot games here at Boston College with Jeff as the head coach.
Tom O’Brien’s (N.C. State) Wolf Pack lose last night to South Carolina 7-3. I talked to you early and you thought it would be a pretty high scoring game. What do you think went wrong for them?
That’s what happens when you predict. That’s why you guys do what you do and that’s why I did what I do.
I know for the ACC, it’s a pride thing. They had a stat last night, SEC 237 wins, ACC 114 wins head-to-head. What does that tell you?
I don’t know what that tells me. Master of the obvious, that the SEC has won more games than the ACC. It’s all individual basis and it’s all about what’s happening now and sports and that’s why you play them. I don’t read much into it really. I don’t have time to. Once again it’s great for the fans, it’s great for the media. Gives you something to talk about, right?
How about, who’s starting at outside linebacker for me?
Dominick LeGrande? There’s some young guys at linebacker though?
There certainly are. I had to write letters to all their parents to get permission.
We saw that also Herzlich was on campus again this week. Any good word out of that camp there?
Yeah. Best as I can determine just talking with Mark is that everything is going just like they want, they get the results that they want. He’s getting some of his treatments here and he’s going to be around the squad as much as his doctors allow. And, that’s great for us and more importantly great for him.
He’s a special kid and a special player and he’s certainly redefined that position for us over there beyond my wildest imagination. We’re just hoping that the best can come out of the whole deal and we will see him back in uniform.
|09.02.09 at 8:27 pm ET|
CHESTNUT HILL – One of the best lines from the 1995 movie Four Rooms comes in the fourth of the four rooms when Quentin Tarantino’s character says “those who make declarative statements are more likely to look foolish in retrospect.”
Not that Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani fears to look foolish, it is just that when it comes to his quarterback situation, he deigns to make any declarative statements.
With Saturday’s season opener against Northeastern looming, Spaziani has yet to name his starter and there is a good probability that we will not know until the first snap is taken.
In the conversation are three very different types freshman: 25 year old former minor league baseball player David Shinskie, redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle and true freshman Mike Marscovetra. Shinskie has complicated the discussion from last week (when it looked like a Tuggle versus Codi Boek battle) by coming back from a cracked rib to practice this week. He has been taking reps in practice along with Tuggle.
“We’re still deciphering it. Hopefully Uncle Dave (Shinskie) will be out here practicing again and he can get a good practice in and it will be Tuggle and Uncle Dave and Marscovetra third,” Spaziani said. “Now, who’s going to start the game? One of those three guys is.”
The guess is that Tuggle and Shinskie will both play significant amounts against Northeastern as the coaching staff looks to separate the two on the depth chart.
“We’ve scrimmaged and now we put guys in the game. We hoped that they would have separated themselves but that hasn’t happened. So now the next place to separate themselves is on the field,” Spaziani said.
Shinskie told reporters today that his side is “still a little tender” but that he is ready to go. When asked if was pushing himself for the opener he offered and enthusiastic yes.
“Oh my god. I had to do it, I don’t care what kind of pain I was in. If I had to take six ibproufen instead of four, I was going to do it. Even my highschool coach called me up and told me ‘get out there.’ So, it was very important, you know, just to be able to stand on the sidelines, you know,” Shinskie said. “Just to be out there is something that I really want to do.”
Outside the quandary at quarterback, there is a buzz around the Citadel on Chestnut Hill. The offense, now with a solidified depth chart at every other position, is excited to get the ball rolling. Spaziani seamed pleased with the progress they have made during the last week.
“They’re making progress every day. Offense is doing really well. They’ve got to be ready to go and they will be ready to go. Now, are they going to be as good as they’re going to be? No,” Spaziani said. “They’ve got a ways to go but obviously we get a quarterback that we’re solidified in that position, that’ll help.”
With the dynamic sophomore duo of Montel Harris and Josh Haden at running back and captain wide receiver Rich Gunnell poised for a big senior season, there is reason for excitement. But the real reason for the buzz is the fact that the Eagles are returning four of their five juggernauts on the offensive line and the fifth (red-shirt freshman Emmett Cleary) is a titan at 6-foot 7-inches and 297 pounds. Boston College has a history of good offensive linemen and the beasts in the trenches are throwing around the “O-Line U” tag line to help describe this years bunch.
“What people are kind of expecting, kind of saying — O-Line U. A lot of people are starting to say this is turning back into O-Line U. With the four returning starters that we do have, just with the size up front, being able to move people around up front, goes back to the old offenses, just the old offensive scheme, being able to move the ball around the field,” Junior right guard Thomas Claiborne said.
Claiborne, like some of his offensive teammates, exuded confidence, flashing sneaky smiles at the thought of pummeling opposing defenses. Tuggle, for one, shares this sentiment.
“The guys in front of you are veterans, they’ve been around and they help you out as much as they can. And they’re the solid O-Line U. Everyone knows about them all around the country, it’s good to know that you got five guys in front of you who are ready to protect you each and every play,” Tuggle said.
Joining Claiborne and left guard Cleary are two All-ACC Preseason Team members are junior left tackle Anthony Costonzo and senior center Matt Tennant. Hulking junior Rich Lapham, all 322 pounds of him, mans the right tackle position. There is a lot of size and experience to like.
“So, it helps,” Spaziani said. “The more experience you have the better off you are because you can’t coach experience.”
Harris’s eyes lit up when talking about the big boys in front of him.
“Real confident. A lot of offensive line coming back from last year, we are able to relax more and be comfortable on the field, so, it should be fun this year,” Harris said. “Thomas Claiborne. Every play before he tells me to follow behind him cause he’s going to throw me a block.”
So, with the bedrock offensive line and talent at running back, it is understandable that Spaziani does not seem too worried about who will start at quarterback against Northeastern, a team not normally known for its football prowess (2-10, 1-7 in CAA play last year).
“The reason it’s vague (the quarterback position) is because we don’t have one. We don’t have one yet so it doesn’t make a difference in my mind. I know everybody wants it, who is it, make a decision. It it was going to make a big difference we would make a decision but it’s not going to make a difference,” Spaziani said.
With two games against lesser out of conference opponents at home to start the season (Northeastern then Kent State on September 12th) Spaziani has time to sort things out under center, whichever flavor of freshman he decides to go with.
|09.02.09 at 4:15 pm ET|
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Mark Herzlich understands the skepticism. He’s just not going to give into it.
The Boston College linebacker and 2008 ACC Defensive player of the year, who had the NFL in his sights like another quarterback target, was blindsided in May when he disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Suddenly, he wasn’t as busy thinking about the NFL as he was surviving. But after a summer of chemotherapy and radiation treatment on the malignant cancerous tumor, the senior believes he will be back on the field for B.C. in 2010.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Herzlich said on Wednesday at The Heights. “There’s doubt in other people’s minds. It’s basically once we find out in November how the chemotherapy finished up and how I react to running and lift, then we can make a final decision. I’m very confident in how it will turn out.”
So, three days before the team opens their 2009 season at home against Northeastern, the coaching staff just got an addition.
“I’m going to be on the field, helping to coach the guys, the linebackers,” he added. “Hopefully, be moral support and inspiration to the other guys and just be a leader. I can be a leader in the same way as I would on the field. I just won’t be in uniform.”
“What it does for me, it makes me feel real good,” added head coach Frank Spaziani. “Just sitting around there and it’s real positive. He’s just a great kid and I’m sure it affects the players just like it affects me.”
|09.02.09 at 1:37 pm ET|
If you’re a parent, you may be calling this the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s that time of year again, time to go back to school. For college students, it’s that time again to get that dorm room straightened out, and buy those outrageously expensive textbooks.
However, it’s not a great time to be a collegiate coach, especially if your name is a marquee one.
Newly minted Kentucky Basketball coach John Calipari has done once again what he does best, leave before the house is set ablaze. Memphis has been forced to vacate their 38-win 2007-08 Final Four season due to an SAT cheating scandal.
First, how is it even possible to cheat on the SAT, when it’s part of the plot of an MTV Films movie starring one-time Celtic Darius Miles? Allegedly, former Memphis guard Derrick Rose used a stand-in to take the SAT in 2006.
The NCAA allegations also state that Robert Dozier had a crazy spike in SAT scores and was eventually denied admission to the University of Georgia.
Secondly, doesn’t this story sound a little too familiar? Let’s hop in to the time machine and go back to 1996.
Back then Calipari became the virtual patron saint of Bay State Basketball miracles in turning the laughingstock UMass Minutemen into a national powerhouse, virtually overnight. The key to that team’s success was National Player of the Year, Marcus Camby.
Camby reportedly took gifts consisting mostly of money and women. The university out in Amherst was forced to vacate its best basketball season in history due to the scandal.
What did Calipari do? Why, he left the college ranks for a plum job coaching the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, right as the 1996 scandal was breaking.
We’ve all heard the statement that practice makes perfect while growing up. Clearly Michigan’s head football coach, Rich Rodriguez has made that old adage a cornerstone to life. Allegedly, the coach made his team practice much more than the 20 allotted hours set forth by the NCAA.
This was first reported in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press, as former players say the program has repeatedly violated the NCAA regulation limiting the amount of time college gridders spend on the field. Former Wolverines wideout Toney Clemons backs up the allegations, saying that he was on the field for over twelve hours.
“On Sunday it was lifting, film, dinner, and practice,” Clemons told ESPN’s Joe Schad this week. “I usually got out around 10:20. I truly don’t want to be associated with the program back there. But I am going to help benefit my teammates back there by speaking and giving testimony.”
As much as the above mentioned Derrick Rose would argue, these student-athletes are students first. It was wrong of Rodriguez to hold practices that lasted this long, but it allegedly happened.
But, seriously, what are we talking about here? Allen Iverson can tell us for sure.
|09.01.09 at 6:01 pm ET|
Reporters love Twitter. It is a way to break news and promote stories. For sports journalists it provides a way to stay in touch with the fan base and let personalities shine through outside of the normal realm of the beat. Real time updates with a little flair? Sign us up.
Along with other social media tools, Twitter has blown up this year, increasing its membership to as much as 15 million earlier this year. As such the college and professional ranks are having to come to grips with the Tweeterpocalypse. The NFL just released its social media policy, which states that coaches, players and personnel are “permitted under league policy and with club permission to use social media on game day during specific time periods before and after games.” That “window” exists 90 minutes before kickoff until after the post game player interviews.
For the most part, this policy extends solely to persons associated with the NFL. Yet a handful of teams, including the Patriots, have restricted what members of the media can tweet during practice. The purpose of this is to keep injury and game-plan related information from leaving the practice field into the internet ether where any opposing scout / coordinator can pick it up and use it for an advantage. Also, for a league that is doing its best to guard its image, restricting player tweets is another way to keep the dirty laundry in the hamper. Even innocuous tweets, such as Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie’s jibe at the team’s food spread, have been met with negative reactions (Cromatie was fine $2,500 for his remarks and probably told to keep his trap shut in the future).
This is a policy that most players can probably get down with, excepting the truly outspoken such as Bengals receiver Chad Johns. . . err, Ochocinco, who has threatened, via his twitter account, to travel with his mariachi band if he cannot tweet during games. It is understandable that players like social media. It is a way for them to bypass the traditional media and bring information and opinion straight to the fans and prevent them from feeling they are being misquoted or misconstrued (whether or not they actually are) and provide an outlet for their often exuberant personalities.
This is not just about the control of information though. Yes, The Hoodie would love to keep a death grip on all information leaving Patriots camp, but the reality is that the NFL needs the media to promote their brand and optimize revenue streams.
This was almost the exact same thinking when the Southeastern Conference announced its controversial social media policy earlier this month. The initial policy, now twice revised, was so broad that it restricted just about every type of social media interaction from SEC football games, presupposing fans and bloggers pictures and tweets in the process. The backlash was immediate, mostly from mainstream media sources outside of the SEC/ESPN/CBS partnership that the policy was trying to protect. The revisions in the policy have since left the fan and most media outlets more leeway concerning social media policies while still protecting video clips (though most bloggers will likely object or ignore the restriction to putting the clips on their sites) but the SEC’s proactive approach towards the restrictions is likely just the tip of the iceberg in the social media. For a audio good interview from SEC Associate Commissioner of Media Relations Charles Bloom, go here. For an an opinion on the ACC social media policy, check out Heather Dinich’s July column for ESPN.com.
Their idea is simple enough: protect content. The television and radio contracts that college and professional sports have drive revenues and the leagues, understandably, want to push eyeballs towards their partners. At the same time, with the rise of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, they might be missing out on a huge part of their branding opportunities concerning social media. The goal is to go “viral” and get the internet buzzing, thus bringing more eyeballs that would normally not see your product to your website or their nearest television.
It’s not just the leagues and their personnel that are coping with the new Twitter news cycle. Last month the story broke that reporters at ESPN will not be able to break stories and opinion through Twitter but rather through the more traditional sources of the website and television for news. Ken Fang from FangBites has the memo from the policy in an August 4th blog post along with some interesting commentary on the ESPN Twitter blackout. The conclusion is basically the same as it is with the SEC and NFL policies: protect our image, protect our content and thus protect our revenue streams.
The ESPN policy has another tangible benefit. Now that the news craving public knows the restrictions on ESPN reporters it makes it less likely that some wahoo out there will try to create a fake Twitter account and tweet erroneous reports under a respected journalist’s name (such as the incident earlier this summer when someone tried to break a “story” with a fake WEEI Twitter account).
Social media is still in its infancy and it is going to have to have a significant adjustment period before the mainstream media and various sports leagues learn to coexist. In the end what drives that relationship is what drives all other media relationships: the bottom line. The fight to protect copyrights, protect content and keep noses clean is just the beginning. With every new website and innovation the debate will be transformed. For now though? The fight has just begun.
|08.31.09 at 10:29 pm ET|
After 13 seasons, nine trips to the playoffs, three Super Bowl rings and one great comeback, the Patriots have lost one of its most recognizable faces and names. On Monday morning, Tedy Bruschi announced his retirement from professional football, putting a cap on a spectacular career, all spent in Foxborough.
How does one go about ranking the top five moments of such a storied career? Bruschi himself couldn’t do it at Monday’s's press conference.
The LEEInks will take on such a daunting task in an effort to put Bruschi’s career in perspective. Without further ado, here are some of the LEEInks favorite moments during 13 great years from Bruschi in reverse order:
5.) Fun in the Snow
Let’s face it: some of the best moments in recent Patriots memory have happened on a cold New England winter day with the white, fluffy stuff falling from the sky.
Whether it was stopping a crucial third-and-one against the Raiders in the “Snow Bowl” last game ever played at Foxboro Stadium or that interception against Miami, Bruschi brought it during the winter precipitation.
4.) Super Bowl Heroics
Throughout Bruschi’s career the linebacker has been able to stand on the sport’s highest stage as a Super Bowl champion three times. Bruschi also played in the Patriots two Super Bowl losses.
Bruschi had an interception in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville to help the Patriots en route to a win. He was a mainstay in Belichick’s 3-4 dynastic defense.
In terms of interceptions, Bruschi’s best years were those Super Bowl years. In seasons where the Patriots won the Super Bowl, the University of Arizona-product snagged eight interceptions. Check out the rest of his statistics here.
Just looking at the numbers, Bruschi has made an impact on a team that has certain made an impact on professional football.
3.) Making One Little Wish Come True
We here in New England have known for a long time about the caliber of player Bruschi is both on and off the field. His efforts off of the gridiron had as much, if not more of an impact on his community. Just ask young Andrew Geracoulis. Geracoulis had heart surgery as an infant, and looked to Bruschi as his favorite player because of the hulking linebacker’s own surgery.
ESPN captured the meeting between the two as a part of July 2006′s My Wish series.
2.) The Family Man
As earlier stated, Tedy Bruschi made an indelible mark on his career by playing in the Super Bowl. Before Super Bowl XXXIX, one of Bruschi’s best moments was caught on film.
Prior to that game against the Eagles, Tedy Bruschi made his mark as the ultimate family man when he played with his kids on the Alltell Stadium turf.
That moment would become a big part of the Bruschi legacy when Bruschi’s biggest health scare hit weeks later. Days after the Pro Bowl, Bruschi suffered a minor stroke which sidelined him for much of the ensuing season.
1.) He’s Back!
It was October of 2005, and the Patriots were about to go into their bye week after playing against the Denver Broncos. Two weeks later, Bruschi became the first player to ever come back from a stroke to play professional sports.
Bruschi triumphantly came back against the Buffalo Bills two weeks later. Bruschi was already a hero in these parts, but with is valiant comeback, that heroism was amplified.
After coming back Bruschi helped make PSA’s about his comeback and stroke awareness like this one.
Bruschi embodied much of what sports fans believe as the ideal sports hero. The man won a lot of football games but ultimately won the collective hearts of football fans in each of the six New England states.
The LEEInks gives its best and most heartfelt wishes to Tedy as he embarks on his retirement! Thanks for these and many more memories over the years, Tedy.
|08.27.09 at 6:34 pm ET|
CHESTNUT HILL — The quarterback carousel at Boston College continues. After their fourth intra-squad scrimmage of camp the Eagles are not yet ready to determine the primary man underneath center come the season opener September 5th against Northeastern.
Head Coach Frank Spaziani has an interesting dilemma. The probable front-runner, 25-year old Dave Shinskie, is on the shelf with a cracked rib. His absence had redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle and junior Codi Boek leading the offenses in the final tune-up of camp.
At the start, it was Tuggle who was the star. Running the firstteam offense, Tuggle started off on fire, going 7-10 for 115 yards in the first half. The crowning moment was a nifty 41-yard touchdown bomb to top receiver Rich Gunnell on the first drive of the game.
But it was downhill from there. He did not complete a pass in the second half, going 0-9 with erratic passes sailing over or bouncing to intended receivers. Yet Tuggle has placed himself in the quarterback discussion, which was not a sure thing at the beginning of camp.
“In the beginning of this whole debate he was somewhere else on the ladder and he took a licking he come back ticking, right? He could have went two ways and he went the positive way. So that means a lot and he made progress,” Spaziani said. “Tuggle has made a lot of strides, a lot of strides and you’ve got to project. But he has made strides.“
Boek ran the second-team offense and had his moments mixed with embarrassments. He fumbled the first snap of the scrimmage on the exchange from center and later had a tipped pass at the line intercepted by junior Domik Scafe. Boek finished the day 7-9 for 94 yards with the interception and a touchdown. The score was more a product of red shirt freshman Clyde Lee’s 45-yard burst through the secondary after a catch on a short crossing route than on Boek’s prowess, but the junior will take what he can get.
“Codi, showed some flashes, showed some flashes,” Spaziani said.
Spaziani would probably like to see Shinskie step up and take the job, but until the trainers clear him, the coach’s hands are tied.
“If you’ve got a solidified one, then the second gets less reps. It looks to me now with talking to [offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill] that we’re probably going to have to play two quarterbacks,” Spaziani said.
Here are the other lessons we learned from Wednesday’s scrimmage.
Defense Still Looking For Its Leader
The other big news on campus for the day was the return of star middle linebacker Mark Herzlich to campus. Herzlich, a Butkus Award finalist for the nation’s top linebacker last year, was diagnosed with cancer in his leg and will miss the entire year. He plans on finishing his degree this fall and looks forward to a comeback next year.
As much as he and the rest of the BC team looks forward to his return,, his absence this year leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the Eagles’ defense. Senior captain Mike McLaughlin is still out and sophomore incumbent Will Thompson has been nursing injuries, leaving the duties to true freshman Luke Kuechly. Like the offense, the situation is not ideal but Spaziani will work with what he’s got.
“Plus we have the middle linebacker nowhere to be seen yet. The quarterback position is more solidified than the middle linebacker,” Spaziani said.
Kuechly recorded three tackles during the scrimmage.
“Once again you’ve got a true freshman over there and Will Thompson’s been out. That’s a big order for a guy to do, true freshman quarterbacking the [defense],” Spaziani said.
Ground Game Will Have to Carry the Load
If there is anything set on this team, it is the running back position. Sophomore Montel Harris, coming off a team freshman record 900 yards last season, will be looked upon to carry the load. Yesterday he got the bulk of the carries with 12 attempts for 53 yards and a touchdown. He also fumbled once.
Behind him, fellow sophomore Josh Haden is coming off a 479-yard freshman campaign. Haden logged six attempts for 26 yards on the day.
With injury and inexperience bogging down both sides of the ball, the ability of this dynamic duo to put up big numbers (and stay healthy) will be a huge factor in determining how much success BC is going to have this fall.
Defensive Line Looking to Step Up
It is tough to lose your top defensive players to the NFL and come back the next year with any semblance of firepower. With B.J. Raji in Green Bay and Ron Brace up the road in Foxborough, the Eagles are looking for players to step up.
Yet, injuries are once again an issue, forcing Spaziani to move senior Austin Giles inside to nose tackle and patch around from there. The move is probably not permanent but, like so much else, in the short term it is a matter of necessity.
“We always focus on the quarterbacks here but there are a lot of other uncertainties over there on defense. [Kaleb] Ramsey not practicing, [Nick] Rossi not practicing,” Spaziani said.
Who needs to step up?
“Everybody,” Spaziani said. “We need Ramsey to step up, we need [Damik] Scafe. Scafe has been a part-time player. Ramsey has not played at all, suddenly Rossi has helped us over there but, you know, he being injured and stuff.”
Junior Brad Newman, a career second-unit man, looked decent in the scrimmage, logging two sacks on six tackles. He, among others, will be relied upon in the regular season to help make up for the losses to the pros and the injury ward.
Adventures In Special Teams
Redshirt freshman punter Gerald Levano had an up-and-down day. He looked good placing the ball inside the 20, spiking two directly on the 13-yard line, yet did not show good distance when kicking from his own end zone. On two attempts he had trouble clearing the 50-yard line and did not look good in the process.
On the same note, the extra-point attempt on Gunnell’s touchdown was blocked by sophomore cornerback Donnie Fletcher. Spaziani said that Thursday’s practice would focus on the kicking game while the rest of the week will be devoted to finalizing the depth chart and tuning up for Northeastern.
|08.27.09 at 2:24 pm ET|
The List Is Dead! Long Live The List!
Really, this is getting old. The List is driving me crazy. It is death by 104 paper cuts seasoned with lemon juice and sea salt. It is like Steve Carell getting his chest waxed in The 40 Year Old Virgin, slow and agonizing ripping of flesh … 104 times.
You know what list I am talking about. It is THE List. The 2003 MLB “anonymous” steroid test results list.
Now it appears that the list has met its match: The MLB players union and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the Associated Press, the federal appeals court ruled “that agents had no right to seize baseball’s anonymous drug-testing results from 2003.”
So, the players union has won. Theoretically, so has baseball. The union now has control over the list, which leads one to believe that it will be destroyed in the very near future — barring and appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, that is. Now, can this madness end?
The guess here? Probably not. Whoever has been leaking The List knows the names that are on it. You can shred paper, set fire to servers and blow up databases, but outside of a Men In Black style neutralizer, I am not yet aware of a way to wipe the contents of a person’s brain. The names on The List have been oozing out, so the thought is that there are journalists out there who know who the leak is. Presumably, these journalists will press this source for more names, whether the source legally controls The List or not. If I knew the source, I would do the same thing. It’s good journalism.
Good journalism aside, the appeal court decision is a step in right direction. Whoever the leak source is, it seems they have a vendetta against the game of baseball (not just the MLB, but the entire game, Little League on up). The slow trickle has been wicked. It has been cruel. What it really comes down to is: Do we really want to know? I can understand how players in the big leagues who stayed clean and members of the media (who thrive on this stuff — right, Mr. Ortiz?) want the list out. Players want to know who beat them because of the juice, journalists want to see more juice in their paychecks and breaking big stories is the way to do that.
But, what about the fan?
I think the fan wants it to go away. Just look: Mannywood lives on. Sox fans still love Big Papi (especially after last night) and Yankee fans do not care, as long as their team is winning. For
the passionate fan, The List from six years ago is an annoying history that keeps popping up its ugly head and a media fixation that takes away from what they love: the game of baseball.
So, as of today, The List is dead. But, do not be surprised if it turns out to have the half-life of a particularly persistent zombie. It will jump out of the grave, bite a couple heads off and be put back down by the zombie-killing wing of the players union.
|08.27.09 at 10:43 am ET|
There may be three teams in the AL East that figure to be in the thick of things for the entire season, but when it comes to the offseason, the Red Sox and Yankees rule the headlines and transactions log. This past winter was no different, and it was understood from the get-go. The Yankees were going to throw a truckload of money at CC Sabathia and the Red Sox were going to do the same with Mark Teixeira. Both things happened, but the Yankees outdid themselves and the rest of the league by also adding A.J. Burnett and topping Boston’s offer to Texeira with an eight-year, $180 million pact.
In an offseason in which $88.5 million came off the books for the Bronx Bombers, a combined $423.5 million was invested in Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixeria. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, rather than throwing the money they had planned to spend on Teixeira at another free agent, went the low-cost route. They traded fourth outfielder Coco Crisp, set to make $6,083,333 in ’09, to Kansas City for reliever Ramon Ramirez, who is only costing them $441,000. To replace Crisp, they gave former first-round pick Rocco Baldelli a one-year deal worth half a million.
To solidify a rotation that a year earlier couldn’t depend on Clay Buchholz as much as initially assumed, the Sox brought in future Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz and two-time NL All-Star Brad Penny. Both players came to Boston on one-year deals– Smoltz for $5.5 plus incentives and Penny for $5 plus incentives. To improve a bullpen that had already seen the addition of Ramirez, 39-year-old Takashi Saito was given a one year, $1.5 million deal that included both incentives and a club option for the ’10 season. At the time, the signings of the three pitchers were applauded as great moves that cost the club very little and wouldn’t tie up their payroll in the future.
Hindsight’s 20-20, but at the time, who disagreed? In 20 seasons and 3395 innings, Smoltz had a career ERA of 3.26 to go with 210 winds and 154 saves. Of course, he was coming off shoulder surgery, but if anyone could come back in a big way, why not one of the game’s greatest pitchers?
Penny also was viewed as a reclamation project worth the money. When people think of the 2003 World Series, Josh Beckett is the first name that comes up, but a closer look could might surprise some. Though Beckett dominated in the series-clinching Game 6 for the Marlins, it was Penny who went 2-0 in the series while Beckett actually lost Game 3. Additionally, Penny had finished third in NL Cy Young voting in 2007.
Rounding out the trio of big names picked up on the cheap, Saito was the guy who stepped in for Eric Gagne when injuries and ineffectiveness took over for the ’03 NL Cy Young winner. The Japanese-born Saito figured to fit in wonderfully with a pitching staff that already had Hideki Okajima and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Playing up the chemistry angle, Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal wrote this spring of the unlikely friends and karaoke-mates that Penny and Saito have become since their years together in LA. Read it and you’re promised to be bummed that the two no longer share the same clubhouse.
This piece from Over the Monster is just one of the many expressions of approval of the inexpensive-but-potentially brilliant offseason. Posted in March, the piece contained the following praise of each of the signings:
On Smoltz: “If he can contribute on the level Braves fans had become accustomed to seeing over the last couple decades, the Red Sox may have found themselves one of the best bargain signings in all of baseball heading into 2009.”
On Penny: “With his veteran presence, Penny could be invaluable to the Red Sox pitching staff. It would be hard to find another back-end starter as efficient as Penny if he can regain the form that saw him go 16-4 in 2007 with a 3.03 ERA (Finished 3rd in Cy Young voting, voted to All-Star team). This could be a tremendous value signing for the Sox in 2009.”
On Saito: “If Saito can return to his All-Star form, he should be an essential part of what is already considered one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.”
The reason I chose this post as an example of the positive reception given to these signings is because of the use of three words that were perhaps overlooked by fans and writers everywhere. The three words? “If,” “may,” and “could.”
Those three words have proven to sum up the 2009 Red Sox perfectly. If Smoltz and Penny were anything close to what they used to be, the Sox could be leading the division rather than being six games behind the Yankees. If the rotation had more stability for the entire season, Boston may not have had to call upon Junichi Tazawa so soon. Catch my drift?
This isn’t to say that the Sox had an awful winter. The belief out there is that no matter what they did, Teixeira was Bronx-bound. Additionally, Baldelli has produced at or above the level the Sox could have expected from Crisp (and outlasted him, considering the former Boston centerfielder is out for the season with a labrum tear). However, while the one-year deals to the pitchers were seen as great moves for the future (they would eventually open rotation spots for Buchholz, Tazawa, and Michael Bowden), perhaps not enough emphasis was placed on how it would impact the ’09 club. What were considered “low-risk/high-reward” contracts have just proven to be low-reward. Too low for a division title.
Two of the three are already gone. Smoltz was designated for assignment on August 7 after eight starts, five losses, and an 8.32 ERA. Penny produced what a No. 5 starter should produce– seven wins and an ERA in the mid-to-upper-fours– through his first 19 starts, but since then, Penny has pitched like more of a No. 8ish starter. In his last five starts in a big and tall Red Sox uniform, Penny went 0-4 with a sky-high 9.11 ERA. When he asked for his release yesterday, it’s hard to think Sox GM Theo Epstein teared up.
Saito, on the other hand, has posted an 2.80 ERA that does nothing but reinforce the idea that looking at a reliever’s ERA as a barometer of effectiveness is like looking at Penny as a barometer of athletic builds. From watching the games you can tell that Terry Francona has little-to-no faith in the reliever. Here’s a stat that backs up the notion: In 45 appearances for Saito this season, he has entered only four tie games. Furthermore, he has been called into a one-run game just three times.
If that stat can prove how little he is trusted, let this one prove how ineffective he’s been. Saito– remember, the same guy who has a shiny 2.80 ERA– has allowed 67 percent of the runners he has inherited to score. Perhaps that can explain the lack of faith. Though Saito remains the only one of the three free agent pitchers signed to remain with the team, his performance to this point doesn’t justify a contract that was seen as wise at the time. Of course, the team won’t be hurt long-term by the fact that they gave $1.5 million to a reliever they’re unwilling to use in pressure situations, but it’s worth noting that the three seemingly smart signings have proven to be nothing but a very unsuccessful experiment.
If there is a bright side to the small contracts given out over the offseason, Alex Speier has found it. The lack of guaranteed money committed in the offseason made it possible for the Red Sox to add the salaries of Victor Martinez and Billy Wagner without thinking twice.
“And yet because of their offseason short-term deals that featured relatively modest guaranteed salaries, the Sox retained the financial flexibility to address their needs mid-year,” writes Speier. ”The incentive-laden structure of the deals to Smoltz and Penny also left the Sox in a position where, if the players did not perform up to expectations, the team’s financial commitments would be limited.”
As the team gears up for the final month-plus of the season, they do so having dealt with failed expirements and unanticipated contributions from both Buchholz and Tazawa. Long-term, last offseason won’t hurt the Red Sox. This season, however, is a different story.
|08.20.09 at 11:03 am ET|
Since taking over for Paul Tagliabue just over three years ago, NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell has been a man on a mission. With the suspensions of Adam Jones, Chris Henry, Tank Johnson, and Michael Vick, to name a few, Goodell has shown that there is more to the job than inserting vocalized pauses into the announcements of draft selections.
[Quick rant: If I hear "With the, ah, 10th pick" again my head is going to explode. Is it a difficult script? "Amobi Okoye" is easy to say, but not "the 10th?" I digress...]
Goodell’s no-nonsense approach has given the league a muscle at the top that it never had with Tagliabue. There will be no shenanigans from anyone or anything that is connected to the NFL, at least not on his watch.
This is why I believe that Goodell is simply unaware of the state of his league’s merchandising.
In the very week that yet another type of Brett Favre jersey is being mass-produced for all fans comfortable enough with themselves to wear purple, the new Vikings jersey isn’t even the most noteworthy item for sale. The last time I saw a Michael Vick jersey prior to last week, a dog was going old-school bananas on it.
Now, not only are the Eagles selling Vick jerseys for people, but any fan deranged enough to want one is just a few clicks away from spending $39.99 on this:
The Daily News first hit on this, and if there is anyone out there with 40 bucks to burn, nothing is stopping them from dressing a potential Vicktim in sickening style. This is the height of offensive gestures, and the league is willing to make a profit from it.
While the Vick dog jersey should evoke nothing but pure disgust, there is certainly plenty of NFL merchandise out there that should leave you laughing. Where to begin? Let’s start wit the Kansas City Chiefs rally monkey.
It all makes sense now. Of course the rally monkey is a Chiefs thing! Thank God for the internet, because I had to do some searching to disprove this insane idea I had that it was an Angels thing back in 2002. Now I see correctly. The rally monkey is, in fact, a Chiefs thing. Just like Scott Spezio is their starting third baseman.
If you just dropped $20 on that hideous doll and still feel the urge to spend, you’re in luck. Nobody knows what time it is more than the immortal Byron Leftwich, so grab your credit card and spend $36.99 on a Wincraft Jacksonville Jaguars Byron Leftwich clock!
$36.99. Really? Sure, there is leftover junk out there that teams and stores are trying to unload (I believe the Dolphins are selling autographed pictures of their cheerleaders for less than two bucks apiece), but even Flavor Flav himself couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on the merchandise of a man who is now on his third team since the Jaguars.
I have done some extensive research in preparing this presentation of overpriced crap with the NFL seal on it, but this next one might take the cake. You know those fake leather helmets that teams sell? I’m not making fun of those–they’re cool if you’re a football historian, so the throwback feel at least can win you some style points. However, the Redskins have put a twist on them that make Crocs look like Doc Martins.
Presenting the Redskins football head. They’ve taken the old-school helmet, added laces and made them look like they were a prop from the set of Coneheads.
How do you even begin to fathom the thought that somebody actually had the idea of this hat, brought it to their boss, and was told that it was a good idea? Has anyone bought one of these things? Does this make somebody look like they know about the game or give off the impression that they’re a die-hard? If even one of these has been sold, it does nothing but suggest that fans are under the impression that supporting their team means looking like a complete moron.
There are plenty more ridiculous items being sold by the league: from Steelers hand-sanitizer to Bengals Christmas stockings to Raiders jerseys (it’s true, they sell them), there is enough horrible merchandise out there to drive a man crazy.
The NFL works each and every day to paint a picture of the ideal professional sports league. Clearly, they’ve missed a spot.
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