ESPN Keeps Expanding Bowl Season With Its Own Games: There are 39 bowl games this year in college football. ESPN owns 11 of them. One of this year's network-created newbies is the Camellia Bowl, played in Montgomery, Alabama, at the 92-year-old Cramton Bowl, the longtime home of the BlueGray Football Classic and host to 20 Alabama games through the 1950s. The bowl was created to match up Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference teams and the inaugural opponents are Bowling Green (7-6) and South Alabama (6-6). The guaranteed payout for each team is only $100,000. "We realize this isn't Ohio State-Alabama in New Orleans," said Pete Derzis of ESPN Events.
The FSU Problem: 'The Florida State football program has become the Florida Man of college sports. Any story that begins "A Florida State player Ö " is liable to end almost anywhere except, remarkably, in jail.'
Bitcoin Bowl Brings Virtual Currency to St. Pete: The first Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl will be played on December 26 at Tropicana Field between N.C. State and UCF. The bitcoin processor BitPay bought the naming rights, paying for the deal in the virtual currency, and the event has grown beyond the game. A nearby town in a "Bitcoin Beach" initiative convinced 65 percent of its businesses to accept the currency, touting no transacation fees or chargebacks as incentive. Five bitcoin ATMs will be installed at the game and concessions will take it as payment. A sign that this isn't all bitvana, from the Tampa Tribune: "A downside to the coin is that its value fluctuates. But BitPay has offered area merchants the opportunity to accept it from customers and then receive the exact dollar amount of the transaction back into their bank accounts."
Wage Lawsuit by Bills Cheerleaders Details Appalling Treatment: The Buffalo Bills make over $200 million in revenue a year but not a penny of that goes to the team's cheerleaders. A minimum wage-violation lawsuit filed by five of the Buffalo Jills details how they had to pay $650 for their own uniforms, got no wages, had their Facebook accounts monitored, were told how to handle their menstrual cycle and were required to visit a plastic surgeon who pitched them on breast augmentation. And then there's this: "The Jills were required to attend a golf tournament for sponsors. The high rollers paid cash -- 'Flips for Tips' -- to watch bikini-clad cheerleaders do back flips. Afterward, the men placed bids on which women would ride around in their golf carts. A not-incidental detail: The carts had no extra seats. Women clung to the back or, much more to the point, were invited to sit in the menís laps."
Oklahoma Judge Asked to Overturn High School Playoff Game: On Wednesday, a district judge in Oklahoma will rule on whether to invalidate a high school football playoff game because of an officiating mistake. Locust Grove defeated Frederick A. Douglass 20-19 after a 58-yard Douglass touchdown pass was reversed with 64 seconds left. A coach had accidentally bumped a referee during the play, and the referees wrongly threw out the score instead of assessing a five-yard penalty on the extra point or kickoff as the rules dictate. To those who scoff at the idea the mistake should result in a partial or full-game do-over, Oklahoma City public schools general counsel Brandon Carey said, "Just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean itís not the right thing to do."
Tide-Buckeyes, Ducks-Noles: It's official -- the participants in the College Football Playoff will be the four power-conference champions that played a conference championship game. #2 Oregon takes on undefeated defending national champions #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl, while Nick Saban's #1 Alabama faces Urban Meyer's #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. #5 Baylor and #6 TCU are left out, handicapped by being in the 10-team Big 12.
538: 7 Other Schools That May Follow UAB Out of Football: The number crunchers at 538 look at the financial situation that led University of Alabama at Birmingham president Ray Watts to announce the shutdown of the school's college football program this week. Eight other schools have added football programs since UAB in 1996, and seven of them have similarly difficult funding situations: Florida Atlantic, Florida International, South Alabama, UT-San Antonio, Georgia State, Old Dominion and UNC-Charlotte. "All of them are based in the South, and all of them felt they had a chance to succeed because of the prestige of the game and the fertile recruiting grounds in the region. But they've found it incredibly expensive to field a competitive FBS program," writes David Goldenberg. "And as the Big 5 power conferences start to crank up the financial pressure -- both with lavish spending on facilities and upcoming allowances for players -- it's possible that some of these programs could join UAB on the sidelines."
College Football Fan Map: The New York Times has given college football the fan map treatment, creating an interactive map of fan allegiances based on Facebook likes. "All told, 84 programs can reasonably claim to be the most popular college football team somewhere in the United States," the paper reports. You can zoom in on the interactive map to see zip-code specific findings. One discovery: "The most consistently loyal fans in America live in Wisconsin. More than 87 percent of fans in some Wisconsin ZIP codes support the Badgers, a level that isn't reached anywhere else, our estimates show."
Texans' Andre Johnson Takes At-Risk Kids on Toys 'R Us Shopping Spree: A group of 8-16 year old kids from family protective services in the Houston area were taken to a local Toys 'R Us by Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson and given 80 seconds to fill an empty shopping cart with any toy they wanted, bought by him as Christmas presents. They also got a videogame system and some games on top of that. The bill was $16,266.26. Johnson has done this for eight straight years. The 80-second-spree idea was his uncle's. His reaction after the first year: "Wow, I didn't think they could grab that much stuff in that amount of time."
Bye-bye Blazers:: The University of Alabama at Birmingham has shut down its football program, becoming the first Football Bowl Subdivision level team to do so since 1995.
Ticats lose Grey Cup 20-16 to Stampeders : It was the illegal block that broke hearts. A penalty call on Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Taylor Reed negated what would have been a 90-yard, go-ahead punt return by Brandon Banks with under a minute to play as the Ticats lost the Grey Cup 20-16 to the Calgary Stampeders. Meanwhile, McMaster loses the Vanier Cup to University of Montreal in a heartbreaker
Richard Sherman uses cardboard cutout to send NFL a message: The ever-eloquent Richard Sherman took a shot at the NFL on Tuesday, and did so in a way that garnered laughs from all the media members in the room.
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 12: This week's NFL games begin tonight with Buffalo at Miami. Leaders: wmwtm (1340), mattwalshvideo (1290), mbates321 (1280), Krumrie's Floppy Leg and lsun667 (1240).
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 10: Cleveland visits Cincinnati tonight to start off week 10. Top 5 in our contest: wmwtm (1200), mattwalshvideo (1190), lsun667 (1160), grum (1150), mbates321 (1140). Collective hive mind picks of the week: Baltimore over Tennessee and Denver over Oakland (both 98 percent). Closest choice: Kansas City over Buffalo (68 percent).
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 9: We have a new leader, Wmwtm, who is 10 points ahead of Lsun667 and Mattwalshvideo. The collective hivemind at NFL.Com has picked Cincinnati over Jacksonville by a margin of 98 to 2 percent.
Denver Broncos Fan Disappears During Game: A 53-year-old man attending his first Denver Broncos game with his son and two friends disappeared during halftime and has been missing for four days. Paul Kitterman told his son Jarrod they'd meet up back at their seats when Jarrod went to the restrooms at halftime. Paul Kitterman never showed up and has been gone since. He had $50 in cash, no credit cards and no phone. "He's absolutely nowhere to be found," said friend Tia Bakke, who attended the game with him. "It's been the longest, [most] miserable three days of our lives."
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 8: Week eight of SportsFilter's NFL Pick 'Em contest finds Mattwalshvideo continuing to hold a big lead, 50 points ahead of Lsun667 and Wmwtm and 60 ahead of Mbates321. San Diego visits Denver tonight in Thursday Night Football.
Was Belichick to New England the Best Deal in NFL History?: and how does Bill Parcells remember it all going down in his new memoir?
Concussions last longer than they used to: because the media reports on them. Thus spake Marvin Lewis, who knows about head cases.
Infamous College Tackler Tommy Lewis Dies: The former Alabama player who made one of the most infamous tackles in college football history has died. At the 1954 Cotton Bowl, Rice halfback Dicky Maegle had broken free on a run likely to end in a 95-yard touchdown when Tommy Lewis left the sideline and tackled him near midfield. The officials awarded Maegle the touchdown. Lewis, who would be invited with Maegle to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show two days later, explained, "I was just so full of Alabama, and I couldn't stand to see him make another touchdown. I lost my composure and tackled him."
DeMarco Murray Ties Jim Brown Record: Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray became the second running back in NFL history to start a season with six straight 100-yard rushing games, matching Jim Brown. And he did it against the league's best run defense, which had not allowed a running back more than 38 yards in a game this season, as Dallas defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-23.
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 6: Six weeks into the contest, Mattwalshvideo's lead has narrowed slightly to 40 points, with jagsnumberone in second and lsun667, aeonmcallister, wmwtm and crisisstills tied for third. Biggest anticipated rout: The Pick 'Em hive mind predicts a 98% chance of a Denver victory over the New York Jets. Fun fact: Jagsnumberone would be tied for the lead if he hadn't picked Jacksonville to win four times.
Florida QB Treon Harris Investigated in Alleged Sex Assault: Two days after he helped Florida come back to a 10-9 road victory over Tennessee, freshman quarterback Treon Harris has been suspended indefinitely by the team because of an alleged crime involving a female student. The crime is not yet being described, but university president Bernie Machen said in a statement, "We have no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus."
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 5: Minnesota visits Green Bay for Thursday Night Football. Mattwalshvideo remains atop our Pick 'Em Contest by 50 points, with Wmwtm, AeonMcCallister, Crisisstills and Jagsnumberone tied for second.
Lights On: The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday it repealed its sports blackout rule for the National Football League, eliminating a decades-old ban on airing local games that were not sold out.
Tackled Ohio State Student Was Wearing Secret Booze Panties: Ohio State strength and conditioning coach Anthony Schlegel executed a ferocious open-field tackle on a student who ran onto the field Saturday in the game against Cincinnati, to the roaring approval of the home crowd. The student is a senior in mechanical engineering on a full housing and tuition scholarship. Why would he risk that? The answer is in his pants.
Brady Hoke's Dangerous Incompetence So Bad ESPN Announcers Denounce It: Michigan quarterback Shane Morris took a nasty, and illegal, hit to the skull in the fourth quarter of last night's loss to Minnesota. Not only was Morris immediately re-inserted into the game, but Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke claimed " I didn't know if [Morris] had a concussion or not." Over-the-top deadspin headline aside, there is a growing demand to relieve Coach Hoke of his duties in Ann Arbor that isn't even based on the team's 2-3 start to the season. The university released a statement last night defending the team's handling of the situation, though not referencing the suspected head injury.
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 4: The NFL resumes tonight with the New York Giants going to Washington. Mattwalshvideo continues to lead our Pick 'Em Contest by 50 points, with Jagsnumberone, Crisisstills and Howardt98 tied for second. Jagsnumberone had the best week, going 14-2 with only Arizona's upset of San Francisco and the Colts defeat of the Jaguars as misses.
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 3: Make your picks for this week's games, which start tonight with Tampa Bay at Atlanta. Mattwalshvideo leads with 300 points after going 10-6 in week 2, putting him 50 points over the 1wurster in second. Here's how scoring works in the contest: 10 points for every winner you pick, plus a bonus of 10 if you get five right, 30 if you get 10 right and 50 if you get all 16 that week.
Vikings' Adrian Peterson Indicted for Child Injury: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted on charges of child injury in Texas for "reckless or negligent injury to a child." The team is keeping him out of Sunday's game. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that Peterson has been cooperating with investigators. The charges involve Peterson using a switch to whip his four-year-old child as punishment and leaving lacerations and bruises on his thighs, lower back and buttocks. The sports blog Deadspin gathers press reports with more details, including a text message reportedly from Peterson to the child's mother in which he wrote, "Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don't play no games when it comes to acting right."
NFL Pick 'Em, Week 2: Make your picks for this week's NFL games, beginning with tonight's matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Five players are tied for first after week 1 with 12-4 records: 1wurster, aeonmcallister, cixelsyd, mattwalshvideo and me. No one on NFL.Com went 16-0, but five players went 15-1. Four of them missed Buffalo over Chicago and one missed Miami over New England.
FCC chairman: Sack the NFL's blackout rule: "With the first weekend of professional football in the books, two things should be abundantly clear: The NFL is king; and the Federal Communications Commission's sports blackout rules are obsolete and have to go. ... The bottom line is the NFL no longer needs the government's help to remain viable. And we at the FCC shouldn't be complicit in preventing sports fans from watching their favorite teams on TV. It's time to sack the sports blackout rules for good." -- Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
Area Man Buys Bills for $1B: The trust that inherited the Buffalo Bills from Ralph Wilson has apparently agreed to sell the team to Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres. The amount is being reported as slightly above $1 billion, which would be a record for a team that does not own its own stadium. Pegula had become a favorite due to his large wallet and his roots in Western New York. The other team owners still need to agree to the sale at their next meeting in October.
Sea of 49ers Red at Cowboys Stadium: I listened to the Dallas/San Francisco game on the radio broadcast, and when Tony Romo threw one interception near the end zone the roar of the crowd made me check whether the game was really in Dallas. Photos show a massive sea of fans for the visiting 49ers, which local reporters estimated to be 40 to 50 percent of the entire crowd.
Robert Mathis Tears Achilles in Workout, Out for Season: Indianapolis Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis, serving a four-game suspension for a PED violation, tore his Achilles tendon during a workout last week and will miss the entire season. Mathis was suspended for Clomid, a fertility drug that also can be used to mask PEDs. He had 19.5 sacks last season for the Colts, a franchise record. Mathis and his wife had twins in 2012 and are expecting another child this year.
Video of Ray Rice Elevator Punch on Partner Released: Remember the theory that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's soft punishment of Ray Rice was justified by something he saw on the in-elevator video? Not so much. Video obtained by TMZ shows Rice hits Janay Palmer, she hits back, then he hits her again and knocks her out.
Colts Owner Irsay Suspended 6 Games for DUI: The NFL has suspended billionaire Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for six games and fined him $500,000 following his guilty plea in an Indiana court to operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. Irsay admitted to having hydrocodone, oxycodone and alprazolam (Xanax) in his system March 16 when arrested in Carmel. He was originally facing four counts of felony possession of a controlled substance. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement that said owners, coaches and team executives "must be held to a higher standard than players."
SportsFilter NFL Pick 'Em, 2014 Edition: I've set up an NFL Weekly Pick 'Em group for SportsFilter on NFL.Com for the season, which begins Thursday night with Green Bay at Seattle. It's a straight-up league with no point spreads. The password to join is kickoff. This will be the first contest in the SportsFilter Cup, a year-long competition to find the best fantasy sports player in this site.
Dallas Cowboys to Sign Michael Sam After Physical: Michael Sam, the first openly gay athlete to be drafted in the NFL, is flying to Dallas Tuesday night to take a physical for the Dallas Cowboys. If he passes, the team plans to sign him to its practice squad, ESPN reports. ESPN football writer Kevin Seifert wasn't surprised Sam didn't make an NFL roster but was surprised he didn't isn't already on a practice team. "He'll now get a second chance to impress another organization, albeit after a longer-than-usual wait and with a franchise whose owner craves attention like no other," Seifert writes.
University of Minnesota Not Thrilled to Host Slurskins: When Washington comes to play Minnesota at the University of Minnesota for an NFL game Nov. 2, the university has asked Washington to use throwback jerseys without the team name or logo, not have any team apparel or paraphernalia sold on the premises and for the team's name not to be used by the PA announcer or on the scoreboards. "The Vikings have a great working relationship with the tribal nations of Minnesota, and they're very understanding of how this team name and logo impacts our community," said Katrice Albert, the college's vice president in the office of equity and diversity.