Downs and distance
Four items of interest on the college football landscape
1. Keep off the grass
Kudos to the WAC for reprimanding San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre for rushing onto the field to argue with officials during the closing moments of his club’s 17-14 loss to Nevada Saturday. MacIntyre, who was flagged for a personal foul, was arguing the spot of the ball after Nevada was given a first down. The WAC said MacIntyre violated the conference’s sportsmanship code and he will be suspended for further violations. MacIntyre is hardly the only coach guilty of this practice. In Oklahoma’s win over Florida State Saturday, Sooners coach Bob Stoops charged onto the field so often I thought he was going to sub for quarterback Landry Jones a few times. Regardless of the reason (or the coach’s stature), it should be an automatic 15-yarder for any coach who enters the field.
2. Lateral movement
Hands down the most exciting play of the season came last Saturday at Carl Smith Stadium in Wise, Va. Trailing, 30-27, with 12 seconds left, Division 3 Virginia-Wise looked ready to fall to Emory & Henry in a game affectionately known as the Southwest Virginia Bowl. But the Cavaliers did the improbable, pulling off the win on a miraculous punt return. Emory & Henry’s Todd Frazier unleashed a great punt from his 11 - despite getting drilled by a pair of Cavaliers on a hit that should have drawn a flag. The kick drove Marcus Bratton to his 28. The junior got several key blocks before being upended at the Wasps’ 37. Before hitting the turf, however, he flung the ball wildly. It landed in the arms of teammate Josh Wright, who ran untouched to the end zone. YouTube it!
3. Hogs in spotlight
It’s not easy to fly under the radar in the SEC, a league that has produced five straight BCS champions. But Bobby Petrino and Arkansas have been able to do just that. With all the attention given to perennial powerhouses Alabama and LSU, it’s been easy to overlook the 14th-ranked Razorbacks. But they will be overlooked no longer as Petrino brings his 3-0 club to Tuscaloosa to face the third-ranked Crimson Tide (3-0). Arkansas nearly pulled off a huge upset vs. Alabama last season, holding a 20-7 third-quarter lead in Fayetteville before falling, 24-20. The Razorback offense is led by first-year QB Tyler Wilson, who has great numbers (68.6 percent passing and 274 yards per game) against three also-rans. His first real test comes tomorrow vs. Nick Saban’s fearsome defense.
4. Conference pall
No one is looking forward to conference play more than the members of the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. Seven of the eight members of the Division 3 league - a hodgepodge of schools from New England, New York, and Washington - are winless over the first three weeks of the season. The schools are a collective 2-17, with both victories belonging to 2-1 Maritime (N.Y.). Five schools - Anna Maria, Castleton, Gallaudet, Husson, and Mount Ida - are 0-2. Becker and Norwich are 0-3. The rule is no cheering in the press box, but I must acknowledge pulling for Husson this week, which has lost its two games by an aggregate 140-26. Tomorrow the Eagles host 1-1 Wesley, which is averaging 31 points per game.