Discover Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois v Florida State

Florida State looked apathetic in Orange Bowl win

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As expected, Florida State handled Northern Illinois. However, it wouldn’t be right to say Florida State handled Northern Illinois “with ease” because, well, Florida State almost never takes the easy route.

It’s frustrating to watch, really, and it has to be borderline torture for Seminoles fans. That’s insane when you realize you’re talking about an ultra-talented 12-win team, but Florida State has a knack recently for getting pumped for big games while not showing up for presumed wins against (sometimes far) inferior opponents. And there was no question from the moment the Orange Bowl began that the Seminoles were a bigger, faster and simply better than Northern Illinois.

So when No. 13 FSU struggled to put away No. 16 NIU for three quarters before eventually cruising to a 31-10 win, it was another “meh” performance from Jimbo Fisher‘s team. Yet it was a strange game in the sense that the Seminoles’ one or two-possession lead for most of the night felt much, much larger.

There were a couple of reasons for that. For one, NIU wasn’t able to do much offensively because man for man, pound for pound, it wasn’t winning any battles at any position — especially in the trenches. Florida State’s front four had Jordan Lynch running for his ever-loving life the entire time.

Secondly, upsets require some assistance. NIU had to play at the top of its game (which didn’t happen) plus catch FSU napping (which did) and catch a break or two (which most certainly did not happen). In fact, the Huskies were screwed out of a first down or two and a fumble that should not have been thanks to some of the worst officiating the college football world had seen since earlier that day in the Outback Bowl.

More than anything though, NIU was outmatched — just to indicate that point, fullback Lonnie Pryor was torching the Huskies’ defense for five carries, 134 yards and a pair of scores — and therefore unable to recover from mistakes as well as FSU could. The Huskies played hard and even mounted a mini rally in the third quarter. People can rant against NIU for not deserving a spot in the BCS — even an Orange Bowl rep reportedly jumped on top of that pile — but this team played the system just like everyone else, got rewarded, and showed up in Miami expecting to win. That’s about the most anybody could have expected.

Florida State is another story.

Granted, the Seminoles were stuck in a tough situation. Beat NIU and people shrug their shoulders because that’s what should have happened. Lose, and the embarrassment will be unfathomable. About the only thing Florida State could have done to break even was spear NIU in the heart and filet them by halftime. That didn’t happen. Even Lynch’s promise to wear down FSU’s defense last week, which now was apparently fabricated, didn’t seem to register with FSU; quite on the contrary, the ‘Noles seemed genuinely apathetic tonight.

That part’s at least a little understandable. Some of the play calling by Fisher was not. Between Pryor’s long scampers and James Wilder Jr.’s bruising, inside-the-tackles running, there was a point in the game where FSU was averaging over eight yards a carry. Yet, somehow, E.J. Manuel was informed that continuing to throw the ball was a good idea. Manuel didn’t have a bad night with 291 yards and a score, but he was inaccurate at times and was plagued by drops in others. It wasn’t until the end of the first half that the Seminoles converted a third down. FSU finished with three of those conversions on the night out of 14 attempts.

The problem is this wasn’t a one-time thing for Florida State. This team has struggled with consistency in recent years while being hyped way too much by hacks like us.

Not anymore. Not until the Seminoles prove without a doubt they’re “back.” They certainly didn’t prove it tonight.

Georgia raising money to build Devon Gales a home

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It’s been close to a year and a half since Southern football player Devon Gales fractured his C6 vertebrae when covering a kick at Georgia. While the two sides will forever be linked, Georgia has gone above and beyond its duties to help improve his life.

In addition to regularly visiting him in the hospital and paying for his parents’ travel to Georgia, the Bulldogs will now raise funds to build him a house.

Gales received an NCAA Sportsmanship Award at the Bulldogs’ basketball game on Saturday, and it was announced that the UGAAA will launch a “Drive to Build a Dawg House” for Gales and his family.

“Anybody can just their prayer for you and send you on your way, but they didn’t. They took me as one of their kids, not just as another player, but as one of their children,” Gales said.

To contibute, text (707) 204-1707 to donate $5 toward the fund.

Mike Gundy says Sugar Bowl loss to Ole Miss wasn’t on a “level playing field”

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Mike Gundy originally blamed himself for Oklahoma State’s 48-20 loss to Ole Miss at the Sugar Bowl that closed the 2015 season.

Speaking at the AFCA Convention in Nashville last month, I heard Gundy explain to thousands of fellow coaches he felt he overtrained his Cowboys in preparation to play the physically imposing Rebels. The end result backfired. As I wrote for FootballScoop:

As Oklahoma State prepared to face No. 12 Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, Gundy pushed his players harder than usual in December practices. “They’re going to knock us off the ball and it’s not going to look pretty,” he remembers thinking. That strategy backfired on him, though, as the Rebels pounded Gundy’s team 48-20. Oklahoma State was out-rushed 207-63 and averaged only 6.7 yards per pass attempt to Ole Miss’s 9.9. “We weren’t physical and we were slow,” Gundy said.

But now Gundy thinks something else may have contributed to that 28-point spanking.

As he explained to the Tulsa World‘s Bill Haisten, Gundy said he couldn’t help but think of the Sugar Bowl when he learned of the NCAA’s charges against Ole Miss.

“The first thing I thought about was (OSU’s recent experience with the NCAA),” Gundy said, “and the second thing was the Sugar Bowl and my players and what they went through.”

He continued: “We’ll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field. That is the truth. I’m not sure we would have won the Sugar Bowl, but we’ll never know.”

 

Kim Mulkey offers defense of Baylor amid sex assault scandal by encouraging assault

DENVER, CO - APRIL 03:  Head coach Kim Mulkey of the Baylor Bears reacts as she coaches in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the National Final game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Though she isn’t the most visible coach on Baylor’s campus, women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey is certainly the most accomplished. In her 17th season on campus, Mulkey has led the Lady Bears to two national championships, three Final Fours, eight Big 12 championships and a run of six consecutive Sweet 16 visits.

She has mostly remained silent through the school’s ongoing sexual assault scandal, but spoke up Saturday night after an 86-48 thrashing of Texas Tech that saw Baylor clinch its seventh consecutive conference championship and Mulkey secure her 500th win in Waco.

“If somebody’s around you and they ever say, ‘I will never send my daughter to Baylor,’ you knock them right in the face,” Mulkey said.

As you’ll see in the video below, the green and gold crowd greeted that line with applause.

“Because these kids are on this campus. I work here. My daughter went to school here. And it’s the damn best school in America.”

“I’m tired of hearing it,” Mulkey explained of the comments in the post-game press conference. “I’m tired of people talking on it on a national scale that don’t know what they’re talking about. If they didn’t sit in those meetings and they weren’t a part of the investigation you’re repeating things that you’ve heard. It’s over. It’s done. It’s a great institution, and I would send my daughter here, and I’d pay for anybody else’s daughter to come here. I work here every day. I’m in the know, and I’m tired of hearing it… The problems we have at Baylor are no different as any other school in America. Period. Move on. Find another story to write.”

As a reminder, a lawsuit alleges 52 rapes were committed by Baylor football players under head coach Art Briles.

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.