While We’re Waiting… Another Title for Mount Union, Killing NFL Kickoffs, and MOAR VAREJAO RUMORS!

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Considering how football crazy this state is, I’m always somewhat surprised that Mount Union’s dominance isn’t a bigger deal. “The 2012 senior class was 0-for-3, but it’s not as if they hadn’t come close. All three years had ended painfully in Salem, Va. with losses to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Stagg Bowl.

Friday, Wisconsin-Whitewater wasn’t on the opposing sideline. And finally, the 25 Mount Union seniors earned what they had all waited so long for.

Mount Union pulled away from St. Thomas (Minn.) in the second half, en route to a 28-10 victory in the 40th Stagg Bowl. It’s the program’s 11th national championship in 16 appearances, and it’s first since 2008.

It wouldn’t be right if the seniors didn’t contribute on this night. They were almost the only ones on the field for the Purple Raiders. And then some. But that’s what you get when 10 of your 11 starters on offense are seniors. If you win, they are the ones that are going to get it done.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” senior linebacker Chris Diuseul said. “We worked 364 days to get back to this point – waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning, the 6 a.m. lifting, practicing in the snow – it paid off [Friday].”” [Doug Kroll/]

I’m all for player safety, but I think changing the kickoff rule would be a huge mistake. “The proposal did not originate with Goodell but with Tampa Bay Coach Greg Schiano, who approached the commissioner before he even joined the league. Schiano devised his plan because he was haunted by the image of Eric LeGrand, one of Schiano’s players at Rutgers University, left paralyzed from the neck down after an injury during a kickoff return. (Giants fans might find it ironic that Schiano touts player safety yet ordered his players to dive at the Giants players when Eli Manning was taking a knee at the end of the Giants’ win over Tampa Bay in Week 2. The Giants felt it was a dirty play that could have caused injuries.)

Schiano’s idea is to replace kickoffs with the kicking team facing a fourth-and-15 at their own 30-yard line. Instead of kicking off, the team would punt, the logic being that punts create fewer injuries than kickoffs and that the receiving team would end up with similar field position. (The equivalent of an onside kick would be to go for it, a play that would be more exciting but potentially harmful because the opposing team would get even better field position if the offense failed.)

Schiano cited statistics showing that 17 percent of catastrophic injuries come on kickoffs even though they account for 6 percent of all plays. Punting is considered safer because the teams meet at the line of scrimmage so there are fewer players running in the open field.” [Fifth Down Blog/New York Times]

This a great read on Rick Barry and his underhanded free throws (with a bonus Mark Price cameo!). “Getting the chance at a personal clinic on the underhand free throw from Rick Barry is a lot like taking lessons on the physics of hang time from Michael Jordan, the mechanics of boxing out from Dennis Rodman, or the angles and trajectory of the Skyhook from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It’s likely not recognized as such because of this enduring stigma of Barry as a hostile personality.

Whether on a NBA court, the blacktops of China during a recent goodwill trip, or in the entrance of a fancy hotel following a late dinner, Barry obliges requests to showcase the thing for which he is most universally remembered.

“It’s something unique, something different,” he says. “And it’s changed a little bit now. I would think that if somebody shot it today, they wouldn’t have to worry so much about this macho thing, because back when I was growing up, it was a sissy shot because the girls used to shoot it that way. Girls don’t shoot it that way anymore, so I don’t know why everybody is hung up on that it’s not a macho thing to do, because really, it differentiates you.”” [Kevin Fixler/]

 A bunch of NBA players could be on the block, including Cleveland’s wobbily haired power forward. “Anderson Varejao: Cleveland Cavaliers, 30, PF-C

Contract status: Has $27.1 million remaining over final three years of contract. Due 5 percent bonus if traded.

Buzz: Varejao is having an All-Star season, averaging 14.3 points and 14.8 rebounds through 22 games. Cleveland, however, has one of the NBA’s worst records so teams will at least ask about the availability of Varejao, whose stock is rising by the day.

“He is a target for trade, but I don’t think Cleveland wants to trade him,” one GM said. “There is a distinction between players teams might want to move and players teams want to have.”” [Marc J Spears/Yahoo]

Could Minnesota be interested in our Andy? “Since president of basketball operations David Kahn joined the Minnesota Timberwolves in May 2009, he has made an absurd number of trades — 25.

The strong belief in league circles is No. 26 will come by the Feb. 21 deadline.

Yes, Kevin Love, there is some sort of plan.

However, team sources maintain that Kahn is not making any calls for now until he sees how point guard Ricky Rubio looks, beginning with his expected season debut on Saturday against Dallas at Target Center.

That hasn’t stopped Kahn from answering the phone, though. League sources insist both Cleveland and Toronto have reached out in recent weeks.

The Cavaliers are gauging interest in center Anderson Varejao, whom I’m told the Timberwolves like a lot. He’s signed through 2015 at less than $10 million per season.” [Darren Wolfson/]

 Roberto Clemente is one of the more fascinating MLB players of the last 50 years. “ON SATURDAY, SEPT. 30, 1972, Roberto Clemente arrived at Three Rivers Stadium tired and frustrated. He had 2,999 hits for his career, and the night before he would have become only the 11th player in baseball history with 3,000 hits except the official scorer had changed one of his at-bats from an infield hit to an error. Roberto hadn’t slept at all, but he desperately wanted to get to 3,000. It had been a long season. He was 38 years old and had been plagued by chronic ailments. He wanted to take a couple of games off before the playoffs.

He struck out in the first inning, but in the fourth he doubled off Jon Matlack of the Mets. No scorekeeper could take this one away. On the radio, legendary Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince was calling it: “Bobby hits a drive into the gap in left-center field! There she is!”

After the game, my dad went down to the clubhouse and waded through a media scrum to Clemente’s locker. Sportswriters were asking Roberto how he chose the bat that got him his 3,000th hit. Roberto told The New York Times that Willie Stargell helped him pick out the bat. “I haven’t been swinging good lately so Willie picked out one of my bats … a heavier one that I have been using,” Roberto is quoted as saying. “He handed it to me and told me to ‘go get it.'” [Kevin Guilfoile/ESPN OTL]



    If all it takes to get Love is Andy and whoever they want not named Kyrie or Dion, I do this deal in a heartbeat. I’d even throw in one of our two 1st rounders next year.

  • humboldt

    Punting may be safer statistically, but it still is a play in which a more-or-less defenseless player (returner) faces multiple defenders running at him at full speed.

    Why not just eliminate the danger full stop? Give the other team the ball on their own 25 after they give up a score. Or incentive it so that you start on your 30 if you give up a field goal and on the 20 if you give up a TD.

    Or, if people still want an exciting play to watch, how about a rule where the offense takes over wherever the punted ball’s forward momentum is stopped. That would create a fascinating cat/mouse game with punters & “returners” in which the punter would either boom the kick or sneak a favorable roll past the returner.

  • Danny

    I’d go further and say the wolves could have anyone besides Kyrie for K Love. Andy, Dion, multiple 1st-rounders (though it would be a coup to keep the Cavs’ 2013 lottery pick)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’m with you guys one of the first guys I thought of was Kevin Love especially when I heard all of the talk about his comments this past week about the organization in Minnesota. I’d package anyone not named Irving. I’ll be greedy and ask for Derrick Williams as well. He and Gee at SF would be nice.

  • Danny

    To me, Williams is really more of a 4, but the Cavs could try him as the first scorer off the bench in the K Love situation. If multiple draft picks change hands, he could certainly be included in such a deal

  • Garry_Owen

    My hunch, though I’m not certain, is that most of the catastrophic injuries do not occur to the returner, but to the other various special teamers – particularly the players on the kicking team.

  • humboldt

    That would make sense, although you do see a fair share of withering hits on returners who should have called a fair catch (or on hits in fast, heavy traffic as Cribbs suffered against Baltimore). It’s an exciting play, but, like kickoffs, the physics of it just don’t seem sustainable in this new era of head injury awareness.

  • cmm13

    Anyone else find it absolutely hilarious that guy who sent his defense flying over the line in a victory formtation insisting his guys “play to the whistle” is the one so concerned with player safety?


    I like Chris Grant’s style, trade with teams that always make mistakes and your bound to win the trade. He capitalized on the Clippers bad juju in the form of Kyrie, I’m sure he can work some magic at the expense of David Kahn. Though I would be slightly disappointed we wouldn’t be getting Toronto’s unprotected 1st rounder OKC owns and Perry Jones and/or Jeremy Lamb

  • mgbode

    yeah kahn totally lost that kevin love for oj mayo trade

  • mgbode

    yeah, the other players running full steam in both directions at each other (unlike punts where they run with each other) definitely are the usual guys injured on those plays.

  • Garry_Owen

    That’s how I got my worst (football) concussion. Wedge-breaker and gunner.