For whatever — I personally blame it on the fact that Craig James is still gainfully employed — The Big Fan Upstairs is very unhappy with the football being played in the Midwest section of the country today.
Currently, both the Michigan-Western Michigan game in Ann Arbor and the Notre Dame-USF game in South Bend are suspended due to storm systems that have swept through the area. In fact, the storm in South Bend is so bad that the stadium was evacuated; according to ND officials, it’s the first time in the school’s history that’s happened.
In Ann Arbor, the rain was literally coming down sideways for a fairly significant period of time. However, as the decision to suspend the game was being announced and the stadium emptying, the field was abruptly cloaked in sunshine even as the rain continued to fall.
Still, both games were expected to be delayed for at least a half hour as NCAA rules mandate that amount of time to pass if lightning strikes within eight miles of a stadium. The break comes at a fortuitous time for the Irish as they trail USF 16-0 with five minutes left in the second quarter. Michigan is holding on to a 20-10 lead early in the second half.
Additionally, the Iowa-Middle Tennessee Tech game was delayed for well over an hour earlier in the day due to the same storm system making its way through the Midwest.
Oh, and the color man on the Michigan game? Craig James. There’s your sign…
UPDATED 5:51 p.m. ET: And, of course, almost as soon as I hit publish on this post, the Michigan-WMU game resumed.
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury