Major League Baseball

St. John’s-St. Thomas to double Div. III single-game attendance mark

1 Comment

Yes, this is kind of a big deal.

St. John’s-St. Thomas is one of the best and longest-running rivalries at the Division III level of college football.  Today’s renewal will mark the 87th meeting between the two Minnesota schools, with this one being played at Target Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins.

According to the Associated Press, more than 35,000 tickets have already been sold for the game that kicks off at 2:20 ET Saturday afternoon.  That number will likely more than double the previous D-III single-game attendance record of 17,535 set in October of 2016 for UW-Oshkosh at UW-Whitewater.  The record that game broke?  The 17,327 that were in attendance for the 2015 St. Thomas-St. John’s game.

In fact, this rivalry between the two Catholic schools accounts for four of the top seven single-game attendance marks at that level of football.  From D3Football.com:

17,535: UW-Oshkosh at UW-Whitewater, 10/8/16
17,327: St. Thomas at St. John’s, 9/26/15
16,514: St. Thomas at St. John’s, 9/24/16
16,421: St. Thomas at St. John’s, 10/2/10
15,287: UW-Platteville at UW-Whitewater, 10/3/15

14,437: Randolph-Macon at Hampden-Sydney, 11/12/94 (100th meeting)
14,286: St. Thomas at St. John’s, 9/15/12
13,671: Amherst at Williams, 11/11/89 (New England small-college record)
13,627: UW-Oshkosh at UW-Whitewater, 10/25/14
13,107: Bethel at St. John’s, 11/8/03 (John Gagliardi’s 409th win)

Today’s game will also fare favorably when compared to its big football brother as, according to research undertaken by the St. Thomas sports information department, the attendance for this contest will exceed the attendance of 20 of the 40 FBS bowl games played last season.

“If we could do this every single week for the rest of my career, sign me up right now,” St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso told the AP. “It has been an absolute blast, and it would never, ever get old. Are there extra media requests? Yes. Are there extra ticket requests? Sure. But at the end of the day if you can’t get genuinely excited about this opportunity, then what are we doing coaching this sport?”

In addition to the attendance record, this matchup will also mark the first-ever college football game played at the major league park.

Rocky Long returns to New Mexico as defensive coordinator

Getty Images
Leave a comment

From 1999-2008, Danny Gonzales worked on Rocky Long‘s staff at New Mexico. Now, the shoe is on the other foot.

On Monday, new Lobos head coach Gonzales announced Long as his defensive coordinator in Albuquerque.

“Look who’s back on the sideline together!!!” Gonzales tweeted. “Welcome back Coach Long DC /Linebackers Best DC in CFB!!! Let’s Do This! The goal is Conference Championship #5 Lets Gooooooo!”

The hiring concludes a strange saga for the 70-year-old Long (today is actually his birthday), who was rumored to interview for the Syracuse defensive coordinator job that later went to his own defensive coordinator in Zach Arnett. (Incidentally, Arnett has since left that job.) Two days later, on Jan. 8, Long stepped down as San Diego State’s head coach, a move the school termed as a retirement.

And now he’s back for his sixth tour of duty in Lobo colors.

Long first played defensive back at New Mexico from 1969-71, then joined the staff as a graduate assistant in 1972 while playing semi-professionally in Canada. After a stint at a New Mexico high school, he returned to UNM as a position coach in 1978, first coaching offensive backs before switching to defensive backs. After climbing the ladder as a coordinator, Long obtained his first head coaching job at New Mexico in 1998, going 65-69 with five bowl appearances in 11 seasons. He then went 81-38 with three Mountain West titles and at least a share of two division crowns from 2011-19.

Long is presumably set to take a major pay cut in the move. He earned close to $880,000 as SDSU’s head coach in 2019, while New Mexico paid then-coordinator Jordan Peterson $170,000 in 2019.

Two Rutgers players tweet decisions to transfer from Scarlet Knights

Rutgers football
Getty Images
1 Comment

Even as the Rutgers football program adds transfers, Greg Schiano‘s new squad is losing them through the same process.

Friday evening, wide receiver Mohamed Jabbie announced on Twitter that he has decided to transfer from the Rutgers football team.  Just a few hours later, teammate and offensive lineman Michael Maietti (pictured) used the same social-media platform to announce a similar decision.

Both Jabbie and Maietti will be leaving the Scarlet Knights as graduate transfers.  The loss of the latter, though, will likely leave the biggest mark.

The past three seasons, Maietti has started 33 games at center for the Scarlet Knights.  The New Jersey native earned Academic All-Big Ten honors each of the last three seasons.

Appearing in 27 games, Jabbie started 12 of those contests.

This past season, Jabbie set career-highs in catches (14), receiving yards (149) and receiving touchdowns (one).  He will apparently finish his Rutgers football career with 182 yards and a touchdown on 18 receptions.

CB Tony Butler posts classy, heartfelt goodbye in announcing transfer from Nebraska

Nebraska football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thanks to a Nebraska football player, we won’t have to go through an entire day without a portal post.  Hurray?

Late this past week, Tony Butler announced in a very classy, heartfelt post on Twitter that he will be entering the NCAA transfer database.  The move would serve as the first step in a departure from the Nebraska football program.

The cornerback could also return to the Nebraska football team if he so desires.

That said, Butler would be leaving the Cornhuskers as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

“In 2016, I came here as an 18-year-old kid lost and looking for a home.  Nebraska, you became my home and brought me in with open arms,” Butler wrote. “This place became very special. …

“Nebraska, you have done an incredible job at helping a lost boy become a man.  My family and I are forever grateful for this opportunity.”

A three-star 2016 signee, Butler was rated as the No. 22 player regardless of position in the state of Ohio.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

The past three seasons, Butler played in 27 games.  Four of those appearances came in 2019, which was likely the trigger for the decision to transfer.  Most of the games played came on special teams.

Butler is the third player to leave the Nebraska football program in a week.

Linebacker Pernell Jefferson, a three-star 2016 signee, entered the portal Wednesday.  Days before that, offensive lineman John Raridon decided to retire from football to pursue a career in architecture.

Five-star Penn State WR Justin Shorter tweets transfer to Florida

Florida Gators football
Getty Images
2 Comments

The Florida Gators football program is the latest to benefit from Ye Olde Transfer Portal.

In late November, Justin Shorter took the initial step in transferring from Penn State by entering the NCAA database.  Two months to the day later, the wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career as part of the Florida Gators football team.

As of yet, UF has not announced Shorter’s addition to the roster.

A five-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, Shorter was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only defensive end Micah Parsons was rated higher than Shorter in Franklin’s class that year.

Limited to four games as a true freshman in large part because of injuries, Shorter caught three passes for 20 yards in 2018.  In 11 games this season, Shorter caught 12 passes for 137 yards.

Barring the unexpected, Shorter will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.