Saturday, May 9, 2015

2014 College Football Dread All-America (Part 1)

Sorry to have kept you waiting for so long, but here finally is my list of the players who were on the field during the 2014 season with dreads you couldn't help but notice - dreads you didn't need your binoculars to see no matter how far away from the field your seat was. Choosing this season's dread all-Americans was harder than ever, as there continues to be a multitude of players with sick dreads in uniform on Saturdays. Indeed even as long as it has taken me to finish this, I still have not gone through the entire rosters of all the teams in Division 1; so there might be a player or two omitted from the team simply because I never saw him. If I did miss somebody who you think I should have mentioned but didn't, please leave a comment so that we all will know about him.

In Part 1 we'll take a look at the best dreads on (the more familiar) teams in the FBS, while Part 2 will focus mostly on the FCS. Of the 48 players on last year's (2013) FBS squad, 26 were seniors (including 7 who would make it to the NFL), three (Rannell Hall, Jazz King, and Ferrington Macon) cut off their dreads, one (Cassius McDowell) transferred to a Division 2 school, and 7 others simply didn't make the the team this year. That means there are 37 roster spots filled by players who weren't on the team last year, and I am thrilled to announce that one of them was filled by Colorado WR D.D. Goodson (photo above), who makes his first appearance on the team.

Friday, May 8, 2015

2014 College Football Dread All-America (Part 2)

In Part 2 of this season's edition of the Dread All-America team we'll look at the best dreads on teams in the FCS, I'll present the 2014 all-dread sideline team, and there will be a couple of extras. For a while I was considering combining the FBS and FCS schools together and just having one team, because I feared there weren't enough FCS offensive linemen with sick dreads to have an FCS team. There were only 20 O-linemen with dreads that I know of on FCS rosters in 2014, and several of them have short dreads; but I decided to do a separate FCS team anyway, realizing that while the 1st team O-line entirely has sick dreads, it's a lot harder to see the dreads of the 2nd teamers when they have their helmets on.
 
The same as with the FBS team there are not many repeat selections from last year. Nearly half of last year's team were seniors (25), with two of them - Isaiah Crowell and Billy Turner - making it to the NFL. There were three ex-dreads, two players whose whereabouts were unknown, and four others whose dreads just weren't great enough for them to repeat. Also one more spot became available when Georgia Southern and Tray Butler moved up to the FBS. That leaves only 13 players who repeated, and I'm very pleased that one of them is Richmond RB Jacobi Green (photo above).

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Toast of the K-Town

By the time I remembered it was already after I had posted my preview of the 2014 NFL Draft (the post titled "Know Your Muck"), and the damage was already done - I forgot the music. How can I have a final jeopardy and not play the music? Please forgive me for being such an idiot. I won't make the same mistake twice. So after you read the final jeopardy answer that leads off this year's draft preview, you may, if you like, click on the link beneath it and listen to that familiar little 30-second tune while you try to come up with the right question.

There is no long, three-section quiz this year; we go straight to final jeopardy.
The category: The NFL Draft.
And the answer is ....... They are the only pair of high school teammates ever to both be selected in the 1st round of the draft in the same year.
Good luck ..... http://www.hark.com/clips/sfpbhcvhzh-jeopardy-theme

Actually the correct question depends on when you are reading this. If you're one of the early birds who are viewing this before the draft, then there is no correct question. It has never happened before. Not yet. But come the end of the 1st round this Thursday night there's a very good chance history will be made.

A hint is located in the photo of the map above. And those of you who are not too geographically challenged will recognize that the star is not pointing to Chicago or Milwaukee but rather to about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee - right where you will find the city of Kenosha.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cutch's Cut

I knew the day was coming; but for real I was hoping it wouldn't come for a couple more years or so. I knew it was coming because he said it was coming, hinting in the past that he wasn't going to keep his dreads forever. But even the advance warning wasn't enough to lessen the disappointment I had when I found out the day indeed has come. Watching baseball won't be as much fun for me in 2015, and my guess is that never again will it be as enjoyable as it has been watching telecasts of Pittsburgh Pirates games these last 6 years.

It is with deep sadness and regret that I have to announce that the house has lost one of its most prestigious residents, as earlier this week - Wednesday, March 25, to be exact - Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen cut off the dreads he had been growing for the last 8 years and that he has had for every game in the first 6 seasons of his sensational MLB career. With the college basketball season reaching its climax, I have been paying little attention to baseball this month. But there it was, hitting me like a ton of bricks and impossible to ignore, in the bottom right corner of the last page of Thursday's Chicago Tribune sports section -  literally the very last thing in the section - a paragraph reporting that Cutch's dreads were gone and would be auctioned off for charity.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

2014 College Football All-America with dreads

You may argue I did so incomplete a job of covering the 2014 season that I'm not qualified to pick the season's best players with dreads. And you would be correct. But I'm not going to let a minor detail like that stop me. So here we go with my 7th annual All-America with dreads team. The 2014 team includes many of the 133 players with dreads who earned all-conference honors in their respective leagues. That total of 133 is 16 less than last season's 149; but the number of 1st team honorees remained the same - 50 - and the number making the Associated Press' (AP) All-America teams (FBS and FCS) actually increased from 10 to 16.

I was hoping to be able to include a photo of Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon holding the Heisman Trophy at the beginning of this post. But despite having one of the best seasons a running back has ever had, he finished 2nd in the voting for the Heisman; so you'll have to settle for a pre-game photo (above) of him from the Badgers' Week 4 game against Bowling Green instead.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

College BB '15 - First Look

From the moment in late November 2010 that I saw them pictured as part of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's preview of the 2010-11 Milwaukee area high school basketball season, I have been looking forward to the day I would be writing about Elgin Cook and Jameel McKay in this blog. Little did I expect that day wouldn't come until more than 4 years later. Although the preview was the first I had ever heard of McKay, I was a little bit familiar with Cook from the previous season, when he was named City Conference player of the year while playing for Hamilton HS. Led by the 6-foot-6 Cook (top two photos on right from March 2010) and 6-8 Darnell Harris (lower left photo on right from the same game), both juniors, Hamilton was pretty much an all-star team in 2009-10, winning the conference championship and making a rare (for Hamilton) appearance in the state tournament. But neither of them was around a year later, when Hamilton made a repeat trip to the tournament; and neither they nor McKay, the 6-7 forward from Pulaski HS (lower right photo from a February 2011 game) would begin their college careers at Division 1 schools in the fall of 2011, as they (and I) had hoped.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Where there's a will, there's a .... Williams

As I went through the recaps of the Division 1 College Football games every week this season (actually it was more like every other week), it was impossible not to notice it - there sure seemed to be a lot of teams with a player with dreads named Williams on their rosters. Heck, there were 8 such teams in the SEC alone. So, out of curiosity, just as I did near the end of the 2010 season after noticing a lot of players with dreads named Harris, I went through my entire notebook to find out just how many Williamses with dreads there actually were. The result was almost astonishing.

When I did my "Harris Family Reunion" post in 2010, I was really impressed that there were at least 16 Harrises with dreads on D-1 teams. But that number is completely dwarfed by the three dozen players with dreads named Williams this season.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 15

It looked like it was going to be a storybook finish for East Carolina on senior night in the first game of the week on Thursday night (Dec. 4). But that was only until the Pirates made a complete mess of the final 2 minutes of their game against UCF. Indeed the Pirates have nobody to blame but themselves that they and their fans were in stunned silence after the final play of the game, and that the Knights were celebrating wildly after pulling out a miraculous 32-30 victory at Greenville, NC, that clinched a share of their 2nd straight AAC championship. UCF's victories this season have come with a lot less drama than they did during their 12-1 season in 2013; but this victory surely tops any of the several great escapes the Knights made last season. It was fitting that QB Justin Holman and junior WR Breshad Perriman were posing with the trophy in the locker room after the game (photo below), since they were two main participants in the play that won the trophy.
After watching a little bit of the 3rd quarter, I decided to turn to another channel, even though ESPN had just displayed a graphic that showed that throughout this season the 4th quarter was East Carolina's strongest quarter.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 12

For the most part it was an enjoyable Saturday (Nov. 15) of watching football for me ..... right up until there were about 5 minutes remaining in the Auburn-Georgia game, when Todd Gurley didn't get up after his 29th carry of the night. In his first game back in action after serving a 4-game suspension, Gurley - the star junior RB and arguably the best RB to ever wear a Georgia uniform - turned in his usual outstanding performance. But when he stayed down and grabbed his knee after gaining 6 yards to the Auburn 11-yard line on 2nd and 5, you knew something had gone wrong. And then when they showed the replay - Gurley wincing as he planted his left leg while making a cut then falling to the ground, unable to take his next stride on the leg - it looked exactly the way it does all too often in sports when a player tears the ACL in his knee. A day later the worst fears of a lot of people (including me) were realized with the official announcement that Gurley indeed had torn his ACL and was done for the season. And with the injury occurring so late in the season, you wonder and worry that he won't recover in time to have a rookie season in the NFL in 2015.
The injury put a bit of a damper on Georgia's 34-7 victory, as the Bulldogs finished SEC play at 6-2 and needing Missouri to lose at least one of their remaining 2 games in order to finish first in the SEC East and play in the conference championship game.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 9

There were less than 2 minutes to play in the game, and with Marshall's victory already in the bag, I kept waiting for QB Rakeem Cato to take the snap and kneel down to kill the remaining time. But instead he kept handing the ball off. Then I remembered ..... right, this is college football - not only is running up the score not frowned on, it's necessary. Marshall simply was thinking, "Why beat FAU 28-16 when you can beat them 35-16?" The BCS era may be over, but the truth is that college football remains a beauty contest. Winning isn't the only thing, winning as impressively as possible is. So it's no surprise that the Thundering Herd added a TD with 51 seconds to go, when just taking a knee would have been the sportsmanlike thing to do.
With the teams in the Little 5 conferences (CUSA, MAC, SBC, MWC, and AAC) being allotted just one of the 12 spots in the big 6 bowl games to be played on New Year's Eve and Day, Marshall, now 8-0 and seemingly breezing toward the Conference USA championship, needs their wins to come with as many style points as they can get, because their schedule hasn't been all that difficult.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 7

Hey, is the TCU-Baylor game over yet?

Forget the Iron Bowl, it's looking more and more like the big end-of-the-season showdown to decide the SEC West might be the Egg Bowl - in the state immediately to the west of Alabama. Halfway through the 2014 season Mississippi and Mississippi State are both 6-0. That's not a misprint - 6 wins, zero defeats. Who woulda thunk it? But before you decide to get rich by scalping your tickets to the Egg Bowl, Rebel and Bulldog fans, remember it's still early, And with teams as talented as Arkansas and LSU bringing up the rear, the West Division of the SEC is an absolute minefield this season. Every game is a difficult game. But really, wouldn't it be something if CBS was televising Hail State vs. Ole Miss on the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of Auburn-Alabama?
You kind of of expected Mississippi to get good because they had been signing some very highly-ranked recruits the last couple of years. But who saw Mississippi State coming?

Monday, October 6, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 5

The voting for the 2014 Heisman Trophy will take place, as usual, at the end of the regular season in December, with all players eligible for consideration. But let's pretend that the voting were done now, after only the first month of the season, and it wasn't vote as you please - you had to vote for either Georgia RB Todd Gurley or Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, a couple of juniors who hope to be playing in the NFL at this time next year and a couple of players I'm a very huge fan of. Remarkably, through the first 5 weeks (4 games for both) the two are separated by only 2 yards rushing - with Gordon having rushed for 612 yards and 8 TD to 610 yards and 6 TD for Gurley. But I believe the separation would be much greater at the voting booth ..... with Gurley winning in a landslide. It's not that Gordon hasn't been outstanding, only that Gurley has been more outstanding.



















His Heisman campaign already smeared by an ugly 38 yards on 17 carries game against FCS team Western Illinois, Gordon saw his hopes diminishing even further on Saturday, Sept. 27, during the 1st half of the Badgers' home game against South Florida, as he gained only 50 yards on 17 carries.