Saturday, March 28, 2015

Have A Seat

There was a soccer camp on Memorial Field yesterday and with a bunch of parents in the visiting stands I realized this was the first opportunity to actually get inside the fences and shoot a few photos of the rebuilding project.

The timing was great because the grandstand is really starting to take shape.

There will be plenty more photo ops starting one week from Tuesday when "spring" football kicks off.

(While snow on campus and around the valley is getting scarce except for where it was piled up by plows, it doesn't look much like spring up here on the shoulder of Moose Mountain where we still have 20 inches at the stake and it's flurrying.)

A peek inside offered the first glimpse of how the workers helped make sure the  old brick corners remained at a 90-degree angle. (Click photos to enlarge.)


Friday, March 27, 2015

Screen Gems



The Woods
from Ninetynine Films on Vimeo.
Numerous reports including one on the Time site report that NBC will be producing a sequel to the popular 1990s situation comedy Coach, with Craig T. Nelson reprising his role as, yup, a college football coach. But Nelson won't be at a state university this time.

From Time (link):
The pitch: “Coach Hayden Fox, in the present day, has retired from coaching. He is called back to become assistant coach to his own grown son, who is the new head coach at an Ivy league school in Pennsylvania that is just starting up a new team."
An Ivy League school in Pennsylvania just starting a football team? Uh oh.

Green Alert Take: Whether it is a good show or a bad show only time will tell, but the guess here is that it won't be particularly good for the image of Ivy League football.  Look for the usual cliches about Ivy League brainiacs and football players who aren't very committed to the game – or very good at it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hey Patriot League, Listen Up

The Morning Call has a story about Carolyn Schlie Femovic stepping down at the end of July as executive director of the Patriot League after 16 years. The story ends this way: "A national search will be conducted for the next Patriot League’s Executive Director." (LINK)

Look, I worked in college sports. I get it.

I know colleges and conferences love to spend money on professional organizations to lead searches. Gotta cross all those t's and dot those i's. If nothing else, there's someone to blame if they hire the wrong person.

The Patriot League presidents don't have to bring in a search firm this time because the best candidate is staring them in the face, and at least a few of them already know him, or know of him. If they are smart they will bring him in for an interview, do everything in their power to convince him to take the job, and then use the money they were going to pay a search firm to hold a league-wide party and celebrate their good fortune.

The Patriot League's next executive director should be Tom Odjakjian, senior associate commissioner  (broadcasting and digital content) of the the American Athletic Conference.

 (In the interest of full disclosure, Tom and I grew up together. He's one of my oldest and dearest friends and someone I had hoped the Ivy League would consider when Jeff Orleans stepped down.)

OJ – people in college sports from coast to coast know him by that nickname – is a proud Patriot League product. He graduated from Lafayette College with a degree in economics and business.

He has close ties with the Ivy League and around the east, having served as assistant sports information director at Princeton and then as an associate commissioner of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC).

And he's a huge figure in the history of college sports broadcasting.

From the ECAC he moved on to the fledgling ESPN and was instrumental in helping the network become "the Worldwide Leader" as its director of college sports. Read that again. At a time when every college and conference is jockeying for air time, the Patriot League can pitch the former director of college sports for ESPN.

 In 1994 he was named “The Most Influential Person in College Sports” by College Sports Magazine. The Sporting News named him one of the four most influential people in college basketball in 1990.

In 1995 OJ joined the Big East as associate commissioner. From his Big East bio:
"His primary responsibilities include television negotiations for all sports (including TV deals with CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN Regional, CBS Sports Network, and local and regional outlets), football TV scheduling, and men’s basketball scheduling. From 1995-2006, he was also the manager of the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden and oversaw all men’s basketball game operations and policies."
When the old Big East morphed into the American Athletic, OJ went along.

You know that tournament you are going to watch again tonight? Consider this from the book ESPN: The Uncensored History . . .
Because of Odjakjian, who deftly orchestrated the coverage from his producer's chair, ESPN defined college basketball and turned the month of March into a maddening national hoops obsession.
Remember that famed Georgetown-Princeton tournament thriller that Time Magazine last year referred to as "The Game That Saved March Madness?" Wanna guess why it was on live TV? From that Time story:
The Georgetown-Princeton game might not have attracted much attention if Tom Odjakjian, then a programming executive at ESPN, hadn’t lobbied his bosses to put it in prime time. The talent gap was huge, but the plotlines, Odjakjian reasoned, were too tempting. “There’s a compelling Princeton-vs.-Georgetown, David-and-Goliath thing here,” he says.
If the Patriot League wants to build a national profile, there simply isn't a better choice than OJ, who is nationally known and universally respected. And here's the kicker. He's an even better person than he is a professional, and folks, that's saying something.

This is from author Michael Freeman's acknowledgments in his book on ESPN:
Tom Odjakjian, a most important man in ESPN's history, who held a variety of jobs, lived up to his reputation as one of the kinder people on the planet.
I don't have it in front of me by I think it was in one of his books that Dickie V said pretty much the same thing. And having known him forever I can tell you the next person who doesn't like him will be the first.

So save your money, Patriot League and give OJ a call. I ask only one thing in return.

Invite me to that party after you hire him. It's going to be a special one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Elsewhere

This might make you a little dizzy – why it goes as fast as it does in places I don't know – but take a virtual tour through the new football stadium that will be going up across the state at the University of New Hampshire. Those of you who saw the old place last fall will certainly appreciate the difference.



Sure would have been nice, though, if they had relocated the track . . .
A transfer tight end is moving up the depth chart at USC. That's no surprise.

The surprise is that 6-foot-6, 240-pound Connor Spears transferred from Columbia. Find a story from the school paper HERE and an ESPN piece HERE.

Call Spears (USC bio) one that got away from Columbia. Oh, and maybe Dartmouth as well . . .

Spears' father, Bob '81, was a record-setting swimmer for the Big Green who went on to earn an MBT at Southern Cal and then an MBA at Harvard.
At age 36 former Brown quarterback Kyle Rowley is still playing the game with the Portland (Ore.) Thunder of the Arena Football League. A story about him from the Portland Tribune begins this way:
There are plenty of things Kyle Rowley could be doing with his Ivy League education.
But rather than working in an office and wearing a suit to work every day, the Brown University graduate prefers to put on pads.
Working for a Fortune 500 company would give him nowhere near the joy he gets from being an Arena Football League quarterback for the Portland Thunder.
“I’m a firm believer in doing what you love,” Rowley says. “I played at Brown and got an Ivy League degree, but football was always my priority, even in college.
Find the story HERE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

You May Get A Kick Out Of This . . . Or Not

The Indianapolis Colts have pitched a novel idea to breathe life into the increasingly boring PAT kick. A team opting to attempt a two-point conversion instead of kicking would be awarded a 50-yard extra point try if the two-point conversion is successful. (LINK)

That would be interesting, but a loyal BGA reader has what might be an even better idea.

He suggests, with a nod toward rugby, that the extra point try have to be kicked directly up the field from where the touchdown is scored. (To give the offensive line room to set up properly the outside boundary for a PAT might be set halfway between the hash mark and the sideline on an experimental basis. After a trial period it could be moved closer to the sideline if the try still proves too easy.)

With this rule TDs scored down the middle would bring about today's run-of-the-mill PAT.

But a score on a fade to the left corner or a sweep to the right would make the kick a lot trickier.

The kicking team would have the option of choosing the yardline for the snap. Obviously, a tough angle would be made easier by a longer kick, but that would bring its own challenge.

What would the result be? More challenging kicks for sure, and a lot more to think about for coaches in tight games.

Do you throw the fade and risk getting six instead of seven? Do you put a little more emphasis on defending the middle of the field if you are up seven to lure your opponent into going for a touchdown that will result in a more difficult kick? Do you go for two because you scored in the corner and the kick is going to be difficult? Do you try to score up the middle to make the kick easier or on one side of the field because your kicker is more accurate from that side?

It's an interesting idea that is fun to think about, but a long shot to ever make it to the rules committee because it's probably too revolutionary.


The Princeton women's basketball team and former Dartmouth star and assistant coach Courtney Banghart saw their undefeated dream season come to an end last night with an 85-70 loss at No. 1 Maryland.

Although the Tigers faded in the second half they gave as good as they got for much of the game, repeatedly taking the Terrapins to the basket in the first half while also winning the rebounding battle. In the end it was a fabulous shooting night by Maryland (12-for-20 from outside the arc and 53.4 percent from the field on the game) that made the difference.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Rising Risers

With the tear-down apparently finished the home stands at Dartmouth's Memorial Field are starting to rise again. Here are some pictures taken yesterday. Click the pix for a better view.




David Brown '79, a former Buddy Teevens teammate at Dartmouth and now president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, will be "roasted and toasted as a Face on the Barroom Floor" this year at the Omaha Press Club Show. (LINK)

Brown won two letters at defensive end for the Big Green and was awarded the Earl Hamilton Varsity Award for friendship, humor and a love of the outdoors as a senior. He also played baseball for the Big Green. He has headed up the Greater Omaha Chamber for a dozen years.

Green Alert Take: If the roasters want some really good stuff they ought to call a few of his former teammates. Nothing is sacred in the locker room ;-)
Princeton seems to win the most Ivy League championships each year but Harvard has claimed the 2014-15 triple crown of championships that might be most important to the old guard. The Crimson won the Ivy League football last fall, added the men's basketball earlier this month, and just captured the ECAC men's ice hockey title.

Joining Harvard in the NCAA hockey field, by the way, is fellow Ivy League basketball champion Yale. The Bulldogs, who narrowly missed their own share of the "old guard triple crown" when their football team came up just short against Harvard, are going to the ice hockey NCAAs for the fifth time in seven years.

Green Alert Take: With Princeton's traditional success those who always worry about HYP domination may actually be on to something.
Yale is slated to begin spring football practice this week. The Bulldogs will be the fourth Ivy League team to hit the field. Dartmouth spring ball is scheduled to begin two weeks from tomorrow.

Back to Princeton. Former Dartmouth three-point specialist and assistant coach Courtney Banghart will lead the 31-0 Tigers against No. 1 seed Maryland (31-2) at 6:30 tonight in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The game will be on ESPN2 in Maryland and New Jersey, and on the WatchESPN app and ESPN3 elsewhere. Find a preview HERE.
We were in town yesterday and marveled once again at how different things are down in the valley compared to up here on the shoulder of Moose Mountain. In town there's still some snow in the shadows, but large patches of (brown) grass are taking over. Up here we have a good two feet of snow left and absolutely no hint of clear areas anywhere.

I took Griff the Wonder Pup on the snow-covered, but well-packed trail toward the Dartmouth Outing Club cabin in the woods behind us yesterday and thought to take the hypotenuse back to our house. Three steps in and I was in snow above my knees. Needless to say we ended up coming out the way we came in.

Oh, and it was 0.9 degrees when the pup and I went out for his constitutional this morning. Enough is enough . . .

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Potpourri

Always enjoyed the potpourri category on Jeopardy. Here's some BGA potpourri on a "spring" morning when it is nine degrees and absolutely howling out there . . .
Dave Bell '59 has been selected to the Beverly High Hall of Fame. Bell played football and ran track for two years at Dartmouth before his career was ended by a back injury. (LINK)
One of the true legends of Ivy League football has been lost with the passing of two-time Penn All-America Charlie Bednarik. The New York Times story about Bednarik talks about the fearful hit he put on Frank Gifford, but begins his way:
They called him Concrete Charlie, and while Bednarik worked during his off-seasons as a salesman for a concrete company, the nickname perfectly captured his fearsome presence as a jarring blocker at center and a thunderous tackler at middle linebacker.
Princeton sophomore Chad Kanoff completed 15-of-29 pass for 207 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers overwhelmed Japanese collegiate powerhouse he Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters. From the Japan Times:
The level of play in Ivy League football is still a few steps ahead of the Japanese collegiate league, even for the four-time defending college champion Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters.
The Princeton Tigers scored five touchdowns and a field goal in their first seven possessions to rout the Fighters 36-7 on Saturday at Kincho Stadium in the Legacy Bowl, an exhibition game to celebrate Kwansei Gakuin’s 125th anniversary year. 
There are a few more details about the game played before 4,500 fans in the Princeton sports information story HERE.
Columbia football coaches have taken aggressively to Twitter. If you don't think there's change afoot in New York City, check out this Twitter feed, aimed directly at high school football players. Columbia assistant Jon Mclaughlin's Tweets and re-Tweets include:
What better way to make a name for yourself then to do something everyone doubts you can do
And . . .
The most dynamic urban campus will accentuate an elite education and the opportunity to make history in football
And . . .
It's not a matter of if but a matter of when
And . . .
Columbia University's diverse faculty help create (an) ideal culture of support for elite student athletes of all races 
Saw this list of upcoming FBS games on a message board:

  • Bucknell: Army this fall
  • Colgate: Navy this fall, Syracuse next year
  • Fordham: Army this year, Navy next year, Army in '17
  • Holy Cross: UConn in '17 and Boston College in '18
  • Lehigh: Navy in '18

Green Alert Take: Maybe I'm guilty of crying that the sky is falling but with scholarships, FBS games and the NCAA Playoffs to dangle in front of impressionable high school athletes and their parents, the Ivies are going to face an increasingly difficult recruiting challenge from the Patriot League schools and tougher challenges on Saturday afternoons in the years to come.
While spring has been off to a rocky start for several Dartmouth teams, the men's lacrosse team kicked off the Ivy League season with a dramatic 12-11 double-overtime win against Harvard. (LINK)

Old friend Courtney Banghart '00 led the undefeated Princeton women's basketball team to an 80-70 win over Wisconsin Green Bay yesterday afternoon in the NCAA Tournament. (LINK) It was the first NCAA Tournament win ever for Princeton and just the second in Ivy League women's basketball history. Among those in the stands: President Barack Obama, whose niece plays for Princeton but did not get into the game.

Banghart is one of four finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year along with UConn's Geno Auriemma, South Carolina's Dawn Staley and Florida State's Sue Semrau. (LINK)

Since going 7-23 in her first year and 14-14 in her second, Banghart has posted a ridiculous 148-29 record the past six years. The Tigers haven't won fewer than 21 games or lost double figures since 2009-10. Find Banghart's bio HERE.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Smart Idea

There was a time when the NFL Combine was conducted behind closed doors and most of the numbers that came out of it were whispers and rumors. Once the league and the NFL Network realized they were sitting on a precious commodity that changed.

On Sunday the NFL will debut a new kind of Combine. It is the result of an idea put forth by Dartmouth graduate Dan August '07, and a year and a half of planning. This Combine will see 100 pro veterans who are looking for a second chance being evaluated in a one-day event at the Arizona Cardinals' facility.

From a Bloomberg report:
August, who two months ago took over as the NFL’s head of strategic marketing and planning, had the idea of giving unemployed veteran players the chance to work out for all 32 teams in one place instead of waiting for invitations. It was also efficient for teams, a spin on the league’s annual Scouting Combine for draft-eligible college players.
Working on the project along with August were former Yale jayvee punter and placekicker Josh Helmrich, and Penn grad Samantha Kleinman. Longtime NFL standout Matt Birk of Harvard, now the NFL's director of football development, was involved once the idea was given the green light.

There's a Q&A with August about his Dartmouth background and how it helped prepare him for the NFL in a posting by the Dartmouth Center for Professional Development. Find it HERE.

August's wife, Joanna Hunter August '06, is the director of corporate communications for the NFL. Interestingly, the two met not at Dartmouth but once Dan joined the NFL.
Speaking of the NFL, The Sports Network has capsule looks at what it considers the most promising 40 or so prospects from the FCS ranks. There are three Ivy Leaguers included and one other player Dartmouth faced last fall.

Included on the TSN report are Harvard center Nick Easton, Crimson defensive lineman Zack Hodges, Yale tailback Tyler Varga and New Hampshire receiver RJ Harris. Find the story HERE.
If I'm reading it right, the undefeated Princeton women's basketball team's game against Wisconsin Green Bay will be part of whip-around coverage for most of the nation on ESPN2 today at 11. Depending on where you live you might be able to see the entire game on "the Deuce," but it appears you will be able to see the whole game on ESPN3. No promises, though :-(