Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia’

2010 Marshall Football Predictions

July 17th, 2010

After going 7-6 in 2009 and capping off the season with a big win over Ohio 21-17 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, the Marshall Thundering Herd will look to maintain its momentum as they head into a new season. They will be led by one of the college footballs top-recruiting specialists, head coach John "Doc" Holliday.

The 52-year-old Holiday will bring with him a plethora of experience having served stints with SEC Giants Florida, N.C. State and West Virginia. He will begin his time at Marshall sorting through the 14 returning starters and an 83-player roster, a daunting task for even the most experienced coaches.

Here’s a look at the 2010 Thundering Herd to help make your College Football wagers winners. For a detailed look at the 2010 Conference USA Football Predictions check this out.

Be sure to check out more free expert college football picks to help make your betting experience a winner.


The Herd’s offense will be under the direction of new offensive coordinators Bill Legg and Tony Peterson. They have seven returning starters on offense, including quarterback Brian Anderson. The 6-3 senior started all 13 contests leading the team to his first bowl win in his first full season, throwing for 2,646 yards and 14 touchdowns along the way. Anderson has a lock on the number one spot this season. He will have to remain sharp since redshirt freshman A.J. Graham stands ready in the wings.

In the backfield junior Terrell Edwards and sophomore Andre Booker will be called upon to fill the hole in the left by NFL bound Darius Marshall, who lead the team last year in rushing. Edwards, whose best performance came in a win over SMU last season, rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns including 113 yards and a touchdown in that single win. Booker also emerged as a threat last season but saw limited action, rushing for just 73 yards on 15 attempts in seven games.

If all else fails the Herd can turn to sophomore Martin Ward. He came on strong in the last two games of the season and finished with 393 total yards and three touchdowns on just 82 carries, including 136 yards in a game against Southern Methodist on Nov. 21. He rushed 75 yards and two touchdowns in the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, enough to be named the games MVP.


First-team All C-USA selection linebacker Mario Harvey will be one of seven returning defensive starters. Battling it out in the trenches will be junior tackles Delvin Johnson, and Brandon Bullock along with defensive end Johnny Jones. They are an impressive group with intimidating size standing 6-4 and 320 pounds on average.

Another returning starter junior is DB DeQuan Bembry, who had 53 tackles and three picks. He will lead an experienced secondary that includes junior CB Ahmed Shakoor, who led the team with 11 swatted passes. T.J. Drakeford, also, will look for more playing time after appearing in just five games in 2009 due to ongoing injuries.

Rounding out the sixth and seventh returning starters will be junior safety Omar Brown, and senior DB Kevin Perry. Brown, who stepped up after senior John Saunders succumbed to a season-ending injury, finished third on the team with 73 tackles, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups in four games.

Perry, on the other hand, saw action in all 13 games as a reserve behind now departed senior Ashton Hall, dragging down one interception against Tulane on Oct 10.

2010 Outlook and Prediction: Third in Conference USA East Division. It shouldn’t be too hard to better last year’s results as the team returns more than 40 seniors and is strong defensively up front, which should keep the Herd in every game.

They have experience and depth at both quarterback and the running back positions, but could struggle with an inexperienced offensive line that has been hit hard with injuries. However, they should end up 5-3 in conference play. The new coaching staff has brought the spread attack that is widespread throughout the SEC.

Need some help making your selections? Then check out our college football picks offered by some of the industry’s top handicappers.

Calipari Point Guard Project: Brandon Knight

July 17th, 2010

Every year, there's a team who comes away with the top recruiting class and all of their fans become over excited about what players from high school are coming to play for their team.

It's just something else to look forward to in the offseason or to get excited about after a disappointing performance.

However, sometimes top recruits don't always back up their hype out on the court (see North Carolina last season).

With that said, there is one team that always does, and with five players leaving for the draft after last season, they have to.

John Calipari may be known for leaving programs with probation and recruiting violations and everything like that, but while he's at a school, they will be successful. Maybe this has something to do with him always having a top point guard.

Three years ago, Derrick Rose went to Memphis to play for Calipari and took the Tigers all the way to the National Championship games where they lost a heartbreaker thanks to Mario Chalmers' clutch shooting towards the end of the second half.

However, the point was proven. Calipari started bringing in top recruiting classes to play for him and his dribble drive system.

After Rose was Tyreke Evans. Evans played small forward in high school, but Calipari moved him over to guard when he arrived in Memphis.

And after struggling for 11 games, he decided to move Evans over to point guard and the Tigers didn't lose another game until they were defeated by Missouri in the NCAA Tournament.

Finally, last season's guard was probably the most famous to play for Calipari. That probably had something to do with the move from Memphis to Kentucky, but don't tell John Wall that.

Wall was always the fastest player on the court and was one of the most explosive guards the NCAA had seen in a while.

In his first collegiate debut against Miami, Wall scored 19 points including the game winning shot with only .5 seconds left on the clock to give the Wildcats the win.

And, against Hartford in December, Wall set the Kentucky single game assist record with 16 as opposed to just one turnover.

However, Kentucky's season fell just short of a Final Four run when they lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight.

With all of that said, though, Kentucky fans don't care about the past, Calipari could still be on the chopping block if he fails to keep bringing in this kind of talent and success.

So, let me introduce you to a name that will be known by every basketball fan in America by next December, and the new "John Calipari Point Guard Project."

Brandon Knight.

As the fourth-generation Calipari guard, Knight may not be the most athletic player on the court next season, but his physical strength and great ball handling is second to none in this year's recruiting class.

On the other side of the ball, Knight is a great defender who has a nose for the ball, and isn't afraid to grab every rebound he can.

In high school, Knight led his team to four state title appearances, including back-to-back wins in 2008 and 2009.

He averaged 31.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game throughout his high school career.

This past year, he was a McDonald's All-American and Jordan Classic All-American. He also finished his high school career second on Florida's all time scoring list.

He is obviously the best player in the 2010 class.

However, that only means that Kentucky is counting on him to come in and back up all of this hype with success as an individual and as a team.

And, with the three guards before him, he has some pretty big shoes to fill.



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Conference Realignment Wrap Up: How The Big East Can Save Itself

July 17th, 2010

Being from the other side of the country, the Big East as a football conference suffers from the same questions that the Mountain West does. Do the Big East and Mountain West deserve to be AQ BCS conferences?

Just as important in the current economy are two additional questions: First, how is your TV contract treating you? And, second, in the upcoming age of the superconference, will the Big East and Mountain West be able to survive?

Instead of letting the Big Ten+2 and the Pac-10+2 lead the way, the Big East and select teams from the Mountain West Conference (MWC) should lead the way and form the country's first superconference with the best and most well-positioned teams from the MWC. For simplicity sake, I’ll refer to these teams as the MWCII.

Three things would be crucial for this to work:


1. This "marriage" would be for football only. The MWCII teams would be on their own for all other sports. But other opportunities would exist for these teams to work together outside of football. This is especially true for basketball.


2. This new superconference should run its own TV network, a la the Big Ten Network and The Mountain Network.


3. These new BCS conference teams should expand the offerings of their new TV network by implementing significant inter-conference play in basketball and other sports. 

Why would this work? Simple: It makes sense. The Big East currently lacks the prestige of the SEC or the Big 10+2, and its champion's quality is called into question yearly.

On the other hand, the MWCII teams, led by TCU, Boise State, and BYU deserve to be in a BCS AQ conference. Both conferences are filled with teams that are either “not too long ago” mid-majors or are currently mid-majors (Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville, South Florida, UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico and Air Force).

By joining together these questions are all put to rest on the field. This new superconference would pit the best of the West against the best of the (Big) East.

1. The “New” Big East…the “Great American Conference” Anyone?

So, how could they make it work? 

First, the Great American Conference (GAC) would need to invite the best and most geographically relevant of the MWC and one non-MWC team on the rise that is geographically relevant to join the conference for football only. These MWC teams would be Air Force, Boise State, BYU, New Mexico, San Diego State, TCU, and UNLV. (Sorry Wyoming and Colorado State, you’re out. But, the WAC will be happy to have you back.) The non-MWC team to make the grade would be Houston (from C-USA). These teams would form the West Division of the conference, which would look like this:

Great American Conference








South Florida


West Virginia

Air Force

Boise State



New Mexico

San Diego State




Second, scheduling. As the teams from the MWC know, the 16-team WAC was a dismal failure. But, that was due to the quad system and lost rivalries and unknown teams. The GAC should play nine regular season games, seven within each division and two inter-division games. So, travel wouldn’t be greatly affected, as each school would be required to make only one “long” road trip each year. But these games would open up new markets for new recruiting and rivalries in the long run.

The GAC would be a success from day one with the addition of three perennial top 25 programs in Boise State, TCU, and BYU. Boise State and TCU have both busted the BCS in the past four years. Air Force is a strong mid-level team with a national following due to it being a service academy. Houston is up-and-coming and its market is huge. Finally, New Mexico, UNLV, and San Diego State are strategic in maintaining existing bowl tie-ins and are located in mid-to-large media markets.

The GAC would then be able to pick from a number of great venues at which to hold its conference championship game: Heinz Field (Pittsburgh), Reliant Stadium (Houston), and Invesco Field at Mile High (Denver) are just a few of the possibilities. How does Pitt vs. BYU or Rutgers vs. TCU or Boise State vs. West Virginia for the right to go to the Orange Bowl sound?

2. The New GAC Network

Both the Mountain West Conference and the Big Ten have shown that a conference can improve its financial well being with its own TV network. The New GAC Network would do exactly the same for the GAC, Big East, and MWCII. But unlike the Big Ten Network and Mountain Network, the GAC Network will have much more programming.

Instead of offering programming from only 12 teams (Big 10) or nine teams (MWC), the GAC Network would offer programming for 24 teams—16 teams during football season and 24 teams the rest of the year. Yes, the new GAC Network should provide nationwide programming for all 24 teams. Such an arrangement would work because the teams currently in the Big East would utilize the earlier time slots for programming and the teams from the MWCII would utilize the later-starting programming slots. Inter-conference play outside of football would also increase viewership nationwide. Also, with 24 teams, there is also a greater inventory of relevant programming to fill the Network’s schedule.

To keep things financially simple, the 16 teams making up the Big East should receive two-thirds of the money from the network, due to the larger population base in the east and more teams to feed come basketball season. The eight teams of the MWCII should receive one-third of the money. Each group would then be responsible for splitting their respective “bounty” amongst their member schools as they felt best.

While the new GAC Network would likely not generate revenue equal to that of the Big Ten Network, on a team-by-team basis, it would like generate significantly more revenue than the Big East and the Mountain West are currently making.

Now that the plan is laid out, what does it accomplish? That is simple. First, the teams from the Big East maintain their status as BCS teams and they are insulated from the certain death that will come upon them should the Big 10+2 and the SEC expand. For example, if the Big 10+2 took Rutgers, Pitt, and Syracuse with Notre Dame to form a new Big 10+6 and the SEC took four teams from the ACC, all the GAC would need to do to maintain its Eastern Division would be to add four teams from the ACC. Dogs need not apply. 

Second, it will ensure the long-term viability of all of these football programs in the era of the soon-to-be superconference. If there is a Big Ten+6, an SEC+4, a Pac-10+2+6, it would be in all of these teams’ best interest to ensure they have a seat at the BCS superconference table.

Be assured, the day of the superconference is coming. Who knows where Notre Dame will land, or Texas for that matter. But one thing is for certain: When the dawn of the superconference rises over the college football horizon, colleges don’t want to find themselves on the outside looking in. Just ask Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri.

Cincinnati Bearcats Player Spotlight: QB Zach Collaros

July 13th, 2010

On July 29 former Cincinnati QB Tony Pike will officially begin his tenure with the Carolina Panthers as NFL training camps begin. Now that Pike has moved on, it is time for someone new to take the reigns as the leader of the Bearcat offense.

Welcome to the show, Zach Collaros.

Collaros will step under center in 2010-2011 as the No. 1 quarterback for the first time in his college career. Collaros played as Pike's backup the last two seasons. Appearing in nine games in 2009-2010 while Pike dealt with injuries.

Before Collaros signed his letter of intent to come to the University of Cincinnati, he was a quarterback at Steubenville High School in Ohio. Over his high school career, he compiled an overall record of 41-1 as a three seasons starter

In his final two high school years, Collaros was close to flawless. A perfect record of 30-0 was the antecedent for two Ohio Division III state championships.

Fast-forward to Collaros’s second year with the Bearcats and glimpses of his perfection were still quite evident. Collaros enjoyed his two best games of last season in wins over Syracuse and Connecticut in back-to-back weeks.

When the Bearcats came up against Syracuse on Halloween, Collaros had only been the starter for one week and not much was expected of him. Collaros made a name for himself against the Orange. He connected on 22 of 28 pass attempts for 295 yards and a career high four touchdown passes.

As if that wasn’t enough to get Cincinnati fans talking, the following week the Bearcats returned to Nippert Stadium against the Connecticut Huskies. Collaros would have career highs in completions, attempts, and passing yards on this day. He ended the game completing 29 of 37 passes for 480 yards.

Collaros also put up strong performances against Louisville and West Virginia.

The Bearcats will be looking to ride Collaros’ arm to another Big East title in 2010-2011. What will it take to keep them at the top?

One of the biggest keys to Collaros’s success in 2010 will be his teammates on the other side of the ball. The Cincinnati defense was not a very strong unit last season and it showed in the second half of the year against teams like Pittsburgh and Florida.

If the defense can find a way to be more effective in 2010-2011 it will take a significant amount of pressure off Collaros and will help him ease into the starting role.

Zach Collaros has the potential to surpass everyone’s expectations in 2010-2011. Bearcat fans from all over will be watching him closely this season to see if that potential will mold itself into success on the field.

Collaros and the Bearcats will open the season on September 4 in a late night showdown with Fresno State. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with kickoff set for 10 pm EST.

In Memoriam: Harvey Pekar (1939-2010)

July 13th, 2010

Harvey Pekar personified Cleveland.  He oozed Cleveland.  Every word he wrote had a little smell of Cleveland.  And write he did, from the mid-1950s until decades.

Chiefly known for his intelligent comic books, graphic novels, and a 2003 film, American Splendor (named for his slice-of-life comic books).

He began writing boxing articles in 1950s. 

Then moved on to one of the absolute loves of his life, jazz music.  Pekar wrote close to 10,000 jazz reviews.

His comics were about anything and everything Cleveland.

In one, he lamented the helplessness of Cleveland sports fans.  How all Cleveland teams teased and taunted their fans, over-and-over again.  Coming so close to championships, only to get bit in the end.

This article has a personal meaning to me.

In 1995, I was diagnosed with brain cancer.  In the winter of 1996, while going through massive amounts of chemotherapy, a dear friend of mine brought me a book entitled Our Cancer Year

Pekar had gone through cancer as well.

It was a 10-chapter, about 200-page comic book.  Having never read comic books in my life, I looked at my friend and said, "It's a [expletive] comic book?!?"

"Just read it."

I did.  And it was one of the many things that helped me kill the tumor.

Ten years later, in the spring of 2006, I was working on the administrative floor of the main branch library in Huntington, West Virginia. 

I absolutely despised almost everyone in my department.


The library was getting ready for it's bi-annual book festival.  I begged, pleaded, kissed feet—anything to get the brass to send Harvey Pekar an invite.

They did.  And he accepted.

To top things off, I was appointed his personal liaison for the weekend.

That Friday, I met him at the airport, and showed him to his hotel.  We chit-chatted a bit, went our separate ways, and met back for a pre-festival dinner, then parted ways again.

On Saturday, I was supposed to get Harvey to the book festival as early as possible—he was the most expensive speaker.

That morning I called and asked if he was ready.  In his distinctive, raspy voice he mundanely said, "Yeah, I guess."

I rushed over at about 11:30 fully expecting him to be ready to go.

Instead he was lying on the bed in sweat pants and a t-shirt watching the first round of the NFL Draft. 

He asked me, "Can we at least stay and see who the Browns take?"

"Sure, what do they need this year?"

He said, "A defensive end."

They got their defensive end.

So I'm thinking to myself, would it be cooler to hob-knob with a bunch of dorks or sit in Harvey Pekar's hotel room and watch as much of the draft as possible.

I opted for the latter.

I said, "Hey, the Skins have an early second rounder.  Wanna try to make it that far?"

"I don't want to get you in trouble, Illya, but I'd rather stay and watch the whole damn thing than have to walk around shaking hands with people."

We had to leave before the Skins pick. 

But sitting in that hotel room, talking to one of my all-time favorite writers, and watching the draft may very well be the best decision I have ever made.

We walked into the conference area 15-minutes before he was set to speak...about four hours late.

The attendance for Harvey's lecture tripled any of the other writers. 

I didn't get in trouble.

Rest in peace, Harvey, knowing you gave one guy his most memorable NFL Draft experience ever.




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