Tag Archives: College football

Like All 20-Somethings, FSU’s Jameis Winston Needs a Little Guidance

24 Oct

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Jameis Winston has won a Heisman Trophy and led his team to a national championship, but has been involved in some highly publicized incidents. Photo courtesy of ABCNews.com.

Jameis Winston has won a Heisman Trophy and led his team to a national championship, but has been involved in some highly publicized incidents. Photo courtesy of ABCNews.com.

PHILADELPHIA-I’m going to start my column on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with a memory from my days as a 20-something student at Morgan State University, so bear with me.

Like a lot of college students, I mixed various extra-curricular activities such as working as a sports anchor at Morgan’s radio station WEAA, maintaining a part-time job, hitting the parties and checking out the ladies along with my classes. In other words, I was your basic college student.

While I had good grades, I also had a bad habit of waiting until the last minute to turn in assignments and get ready for tests.

It caught up to me one day in my Political Science class. I had to make a presentation and after two minutes of fumbling through a poorly prepared speech, my instructor, Professor Grant, decided that he’d had enough. He told me to sit down, chastised my presentation as an “abysmal failure” in front of all my classmates and left me feeling kind of embarrassed for the rest of the class period.

After class, Professor Grant took me and a friend out to lunch. He said that he expected more of me and that being unprepared on the job or in graduate school would lead to my feeling a whole lot worse than it did that day.

To his credit, Professor Grant allowed me to re-do the presentation. But even if he hadn’t, I couldn’t get mad at him because he was right. When he took me to the woodshed in public, it was something that my hard-headed self needed to have happen. It also lit a fire under me and made me remember to stay on top of things in all aspects of my life.

Now I admit that I didn’t have as much going for me as Winston, who has a Heisman Trophy and a national championship under his belt and led the No. 2 ranked Seminoles to a comeback win over Notre Dame last Saturday.

But I’ve been 20. I’ve been hardheaded. I’ve come real close to blowing it. And I’m hoping that Winston’s Professor Grant is on the way because if he doesn’t, things could get ugly.

While Winston has spent a lot of time on the sports pages, which is good, he’s also spent some time in the news section, which isn’t. Between an accusation of sexual assault for which he was never charged, shoplifting $32.00 worth of crab legs, yelling out obscenities in the Student Union, and an accusation of signing and selling autographs–a big no-no for the NCAA–Winston is getting a lot of the kind of attention that a skittish National Football League already reeling from the domestic violence and child abuse incidents of Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice doesn’t want.

In fact, it’s attention that’s already impacting his draft status. NFL Draft pundits say Winston’s draft stock is falling because while his talent is first-round, his character is third or possibly fourth. When you play quarterback in the NFL you are the face of the franchise and the owners don’t like risking millions of dollars if you have a tendency to get in trouble.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, who like Winston is from Bessemer, Alabama, tried to talk to him in the same emphatic way a parent would before the crab leg incident and didn’t mince words with the young man.

“I really don’t know who is giving this young man guidance. I have communicated with him and I just talked to him like I was his dad. The things that you need to do.,” Jackson said in SBNation. “Normally, I don’t like giving people advice if I haven’t been down that road myself. But if I give you advice on something that I know more about than you by just falling out of bed in the morning, if you can’t take that advice and learn from it, then I’ve got nothing else to do with the situation. You’re on your own.”

Jackson received some shade from Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher and more than a few people on Facebook and Twitter because they felt Jackson was butting in unnecessarily or he was being too exacting on the kid.

But I’m not mad at Jackson for trying to be Winston’s Professor Grant. The purpose of ruffling Winston’s 20-something feathers a little bit to make him a better person and a better man. We need more “old heads” like Jackson to get into the face of kids like Winston to let them know that they still have a lot to learn about life.

Winston is on that athletic conveyer belt that New York Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden refers to in his book, “Forty-Million Dollar Slaves,” where sometimes the indiscretions and shortcomings of ball players are overlooked because of their athletic prowess.

That often times leads to trouble that athlete can’t always get themselves out of because no one dared to say, “No” or You can’t do this or that. We were all foolish 20-somethings once on some level and there was an older person—an uncle, aunt, cousin, or some other mentor to light a fire under our rear ends to make us better people.

I have seen far too many talented young people, especially young African-American males, with the world in front of them make too many bad decisions that ended up costing them their careers and even their lives.

I covered the story of the death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, who had no history of getting into trouble, but made one bad decision, using cocaine, that cost him his life.

It was one of the toughest stories I’ve had to cover in my journalistic career because it didn’t have to happen.

While many scoff at the whole idea of a “village” being needed to raise a child, I believe it’s true. I don’t know Winston personally, but I get the impression that at his core he’s a good kid in need of some guidance. His problem is one of maturity more than anything else.

I just hope that he finds someone who is strong enough to tell him the truth and help him grow as a man.

I hope he finds his Professor Grant.

FBS Should Have a 16-Team Playoff to Determine the National Championship

20 Dec
Florida State and Auburn will lock horns for the BCS National Championship next month in Pasadena.

Florida State and Auburn will lock horns for the BCS National Championship next month in Pasadena.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

 

PHILADELPHIA—A couple of years ago, I wrote a column for this blog about the need for the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS—aka  Division I-A) to have a 16-team playoff.

https://thechrismurrayreport.org/2009/12/24/once-and-for-all-there-needs-to-be-a-playoff-in-fbs-div-1-a/#comments

The automatic bids would go out to the winners of the 10 FBS conferences. Six at-large bids would go out to the highest ranked non-conference champions, according to the final Bowl Championship Series poll of the regular season.

The opening-round and quarterfinal games might be played at the home of the highest seeded team or at the existing bowl sites. Semifinal and championship games would be played at the major BCS bowl sites on a rotating basis.

As a disclaimer, I am probably not the only one who has come up with this idea and so I am not seeking a patent. If you got a better plan, put it out there.

To accommodate final exams for the student-athletes, I would start the first-round games a week before Christmas. Most universities are either finished or close to finishing up exams by that point in December.

The playoffs, even if there’s a two-week delay between the semifinals and the championship game would end by mid-January—when most students would be coming back from the winter break.

Meanwhile, if your team doesn’t make the playoffs and has a good season, they can still go to a postseason bowl game. It would be the football equivalent of college basketball’s National Invitation Tournament—which is kind of what we have now in college football with the plethora of bowl games.

Even with next year’s four-team playoff on the horizon for next year, I still believe there needs to be a 16-team playoff.  On one hand, I think the four-team playoff is a step in the right direction because sooner or later it’s going to expand to eight and then to 16. It may take a few years, but it will get there eventually.

If there is an expanded playoff, it will no doubt make tons of money for those institutions—some of which should go to the student athletes putting their bodies on the line to play in those games.  In other words, they should pay the athletes in the revenue producing sports just on general principle, but that’s another column.

Bracketology College Football Style

So what if he we had a 16-team playoff THIS year? As we said earlier, your automatic bids would go to the winners of the 10 FBS conferences.  The at-large teams would be the six highest ranked non-conference champions in the final regular-season BCS poll.

According to the final 2013 BCS rankings, the six highest ranked teams without a conference championship are: No. 3 Alabama; No. 7 Ohio State; No. 8 Missouri; No.9 South Carolina; No. 10 Oregon and No. 11 Oklahoma.

In the round of the 16, ACC champion and No. 1 seed Florida State would play No.16  Louisiana-LaFayette, champions of the Sun Belt (UL-L had the same record as Arkansas State but beat them head-to-head).

FSU would beat Louisiana LaFayette and in the quarterfinals they would face the winner of eight-seed Missouri versus No. 9 seed South Carolina—I would pick Missouri to win that game.

An intriguing matchup in the first round would be Big-10 title-holder and No. 4 Michigan State and the nation’s best defense versus No. 13-seed and Mountain West standard bearer Fresno State, with their high-powered offense. If you believe defense wins championships, Spartans would probably win.

That would be a dangerous matchup for Michigan State with the way the Bulldogs can put points on the board.

The 5-12 matchup would be a tough fight. Pac-12 champ Stanford as the No. 5 seed versus American Athletic Conference champion and No. 12-seed University of Central Florida would be a heck of a contest. It’s another game that could go either way. Stanford would be the more physical team, in my opinion, and  would probably win.

In the quarterfinals—Florida State would overwhelm Mizzou while No. 4 Michigan State toughs out a physical contest with Stanford to face FSU in the semifinals. The Seminoles would beat the Spartans to get to the title game.

On the other end of the bracket, SEC champion and No. 2 seed Auburn would easily defeat No. 15- seed and Mid-America Conference champion Bowling Green.  In a game that could probably go either way, No. 7 Ohio State would probably be upset by No. 10 Oregon. Since both of these teams are lacking in defense, this is a pick-‘em game.

Meanwhile, No. 3 Alabama would easily run over No. 14 seed and Conference USA champ Rice.  Big 12 champion and No. 6-seed Baylor would beat No. 11-seed Oklahoma—another one of those games that could go either way.

In the quarterfinals, Oregon versus Auburn would be a game of whoever has the ball last wins since neither team is really that great on defense. The Tigers would beat a Ducks team that wasn’t all that sure of itself at the end of the season.  The Crimson Tide would rough up the Bears and would beat Auburn or Oregon to get to the national title game.

In the national championship, I believe that Florida State and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston would be slightly better than Alabama. The Seminoles would take home the trophy.

I know some of the big conferences would complain about the idea of having to share the wealth with the smaller conferences. Even worse, I can almost hear the bigger conferences saying their fourth and fifth team is better than the champion of the Mountain West.

Every so often, we have teams from small conferences beating the big boys from the so-called bigger conferences. What harm is it to give those kids a fair shot at the title by including them in football’s big dance? Are big conferences afraid that a team from the MAC or the Sun Belt might upset an SEC team or an ACC squad?

I don’t know if this plan is perfect, it’s not.  Whatever plan or scheme they come up with, I hope it’s fair to the student athletes and their well-being, gives all FBS schools a chance to participate without big conference bias and gives those smaller to mid-level programs that one shot to slay Goliath on a big stage.

Maryland puts Temple Away Late in Mistake-Filled Contest

8 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and CM Report

The Maryland Terrapins came into Saturday’s game against the Temple Owls as a 10-point underdog.

However, odds-makers don’t play football and by halftime, the game was a 23-point blowout in favor of Maryland as a listless Temple squad was being drowned by a stingy Terps defense and in a sea of its own penalties and turnovers.

But in the second half, the rejuvenated Owls rallied back to cut the lead to within two late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Terrapins got a late touchdown to put an end to the Temple comeback and came away with a stunning 36-27 victory over the Owls Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.

“It was a really a tale of two-halves,” said Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. “The first half we went out and capitalized on big plays and turnovers and then it reversed itself and they made some big plays. To have our guys come on the road against a quality, which Temple is, to fight through adversity to put that last drive together, it really showed me about the heart, the soul and character and belief that these kids have in one another.”

On the Temple side of the field, head coach Steve Addazzio  and his team will look at this game and ask themselves what the heck  happened, especially in the first half when Maryland jumped out to a 26-3 lead at halftime. Temple quarterback Chris Croyer said the team lacked intensity in the first half.

“We were playing very sloppy and we didn’t come out as fired up as we should have been. We came out very slow,” Croyer said.

The Owls simply couldn’t get out of the way of themselves in the first half and at times during the second half. For the game, they committed five turnovers, three in the first half.  They had a couple of bad center snaps over the head of quarterback Chris Croyer’s head led to a safety and slowed down another drive. There were some dropped  passes by Owls receivers and a blocked field goal.

“We didn’t get a rhythm going for a lot of reasons, most of which are three turnovers (in the first half),” Addazio said. “It’s hard you turn the ball over, you’re off the field. .. You don’t get a rhythm that way. Then you’re just calling plays, you’ve established nothing.”

Temple committed five penalties for 60 yards in the first half.

Maryland’s defense held the Temple running game to just 52 yards. Matt Brown gained just 31 yards on 10 carries after gaining 146 in last week’s win over Villanova.  Inexplicably, Temple passed the ball just three times in the first half. But found some rhythm in the second half, Croyer completed 7-of-18 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

After the first quarter ended with the game tied  at 3-3,  Maryland seized control of the game in the second quarter and took a 10-3 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Perry Hills to senior tight end Matt Furstenburg.

Later in the second period,  Maryland upped the margin 17-3 on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Hills to Marcus Leak.  The four-play, 62-yard drive was helped by a 15-yard penalty personal foul penalty by Temple.

On the Owls next possession, Sean Boyle’s center snap in the shotgun sailed over Croyer’s head and the Owls quarterback recovered the ball in his own endzone for a safety.

Seven plays after getting the ball on a free kick, the Terps got an 11-yard touchdown run by Hills to give the Terrapins a seemingly insurmountable lead at the half. The last scoring drive of the half was aided by a roughing the passer penalty by the Owls.

“I don’t what it was on defense, a couple of dumb penalties, personal fouls and missed opportunities today,” said Temple linebacker Nate Smith.

In the second half, things seemed to be going Temple’s way when the Owls recovered a fumble on Maryland’s first play of the second half.  It took just four plays and 35 yards for Kenny Harper’s one yard run to cut the lead to 26-10.

But the Terps refused to fold and marched 67 yards in 12 plays for a 26-yard field goal that gave Maryland a 29-10 lead. The big play on that drive came on a third and 17 play from the Maryland 18 when Hills hit Marcus Leak for a pass that was good for a 39-yard gain.

On its next possession, Temple got a 62-yard touchdown pass from Croyer to C.J. Hammond to cut the lead 29-17.  When the Owls got the ball back they moved from their 40 to the Temple 23, but another bad snap by Boyle pushed the ball back to the 47. They managed to move back to field goal range and settle for a field goal.

The Owls had another opportunity for points after recovering a Maryland fumble at the Terps 12.  But Temple wound up with nothing after Maryland’s A.J  Francis blocked would what have been a chip shot field goal by Brian McManus.

Temple got the ball back one play late when Maryland’s Wes Brown fumbled at the Terps 49. Three plays later, Croyer hit Jalen Fitzpatrick for a 35-yard touchdown pass and that’s as close as Temple would come.

Maryland marched 75 yards in 11 plays to the seven-yard touchdown by running Justus Pickett that sealed the game for the Terrapins.

Temple Runs Over Cross Town Rival Villanova in Season-Opener

1 Sep

At just 5-foot-5, Matt Brown carried a big load for the Temple offense in their win 41-10 over Villanova. He gained 145 yards rushing and had 84 yards in punt returns.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

During his first press luncheon of the season on Tuesday, Temple head coach Steve Addazio said he wanted to pay close attention to how his young offensive line would engineer the Owls rushing attack.

The Owls first drive of the game may have given Addazio the answer he wanted to see.

Temple offensive line set the tone from outset by opening the scoring with a 14-play, 78-yard drive that culminated with Chris Coyer hitting running back Kenneth Harper on an eight-yard shuttle pass. Eleven of their 14 plays were on the ground.

“That was power football at its best,” Addazio said. “We wanted to do that and we did it and I was really excited about that.”

For the game, the Owls would roll up 301 yards rushing on its way to a 41-10 win over Villanova in front of 32,709 fans at Lincoln Financial Field in what will be the final Mayor’s Cup Game until further notice.

Whether it was running back Matt Brown or quarterback Chris Coyer or, the Owls offensive line was able to open holes for their backs. Brown gained 145 yards on 19 carries while Coyer added 86 yards on 13 carries. Addazio said he liked his line’s performance, but they have work to do to get better.

“I felt like they gave us effort, but we gotta get clean,” Addazio said. “We’ve got to finish blocks. I thought they protected well when we did throw it. I felt, at times, we looked good. We got a ways to go. This preseason camp I had to back off because we were thin and without a lot of depth. We were fighting through it, but we were a little gassed out there.”

With senior running back Montel Harris out with a hamstring strain early in the game, Brown was the big workhorse on offense. But in addition to his yards on offense, he had 84 yards in punt returns which gave him 229 total yards for the game.

“I think I ran okay, but I think I could have run even better, but you know everybody critiques themselves,” Brown said. “My O-line provided some holes for me and made it easier for me to run They created lanes that I could run through. We held it down.”

The Owls passing game, another area of concern for Addazio. Croyer was 5- of-11 passing for 61yards. But with the way the Owls ran the football on Villanova, they didn’t need the passing game as much. Croyer did throw a mean block on Villanova cornerback Eric Loper.

“”If we gotten a first down on the block I would have liked it even more,” Croyer said.

Meanwhile, the Temple defense also contributed to the scoring and set up the Owls offense with good field position to score. Free safety Vaughn Carraway gave Temple a 14-3 lead on a 57-yard interception return. The Owls sacked Villanova quarterbacks four times.

“The ball was in the air, I just went up and got it and saw the endzone,” Carraway said.

On Villanova’s next possession after the interception for a touchdown, Carraway recovered a fumbled at the Wildcats 24. Three plays later, Croyer scored on a 19-yard run to make the score 21-3.

“That was a big momentum changer,” Carraway said. “The defense needed that one so that we could get our offense back on the field to score some points.”

Near the end of the first half, Villanova’s offense finally got out of its own way and moved 69 yards in seven plays that was capped by a four-yard run by Villanova redshirt freshman quarterback John Roberston to cut the lead to 21-10.

But Temple effectively ended the competitive portion of the game on its next possession. It took them just 39 seconds to push the lead to back to 18 when Brown streaked past the left side of the Villanova defense for a 56-yard run.

“That broke out back and it hurt a lot when you have a team like ours that doesn’t have a lot of confidence and rhythm,” said Villanova head coach Andy Talley. “Now you’re down 18 and it’s like aw man, it’s a struggle.”

Temple got one more touchdown in the second half on a 38-yard run by fullback Kenny Harper and a pair of field goals by Brandon McManus, who became Temple’s all-time leader in field goals made with 48 surpassing the previous school record held by Bill Wright (1985-1988).