Football Gazette's Small College Football Blog

Don Hansen's Football Gazette Blog of information, comments, notes, and tidebits on Small College Football. NCAA 1-AA & Mid Major, Division II & Mid Major, Division III, NAIA, and NCCAA

Friday, October 14, 2005

THE RED ZONE/This is a sample of the articles published in the Football Gazette

Hi, In my never-ending quest to to get subscribers to my Football Gazette I have posted here an example of what kind of articles you can find in our weekly Football Gazette
THE RED ZONE By Craig Burroughs

There is one figure in college football who gets far too little recognition: the Sports Information Director. Many schools have begun giving these individuals more exotic titles, such as Director of Media Relations or Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations or Director of Athletic Communications, but whatever the chosen moniker for the job, it is one of the most critical in any athletic department. These are the people who keep the stats at ballgames, who issue the press releases that let us know what's going on with the team, who arrange for coach and player interviews, and who generally represent the face of the school in the eyes of the general public.
The SID at a large university may have as many as 7 or 8 staff members to help with this daunting job, depending on how many sports the school offers. At a small college, the SID may be a one-person shop, or at best have the availability of one or two student interns to help with the stats and paperwork. But universally, these folks are the type that are highly motivated, loyal and articulate representatives of our institutions of higher learning. In my ten years of writing for this magazine, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of such people, and I would have to search very hard to recall a negative experience involving a college SID. In fact, on more than one occassion, an SID has saved my bacon when it came to meeting my deadline for submitting game stories and a column for this magazine. The most recent instance of this was three weeks ago, when I couldn't get an internet hookup at Army's Michie Stadium to finish sending my weekend stories, and then found that I didn't have internet access at my motel either. So on Monday I drove to Marist College's campus in nearby Poughkeepsie and prevailed upon the Red Foxes' SID Jason Corriher to let me use one of their internet hookups to finish my work and send in my stories and column. Jason not only provided everything I needed, he put me in a private room where I could finish up without any distractions and without inconveniencing anyone else. It was just the latest of many examples of help I have had over the years from SID's at colleges we cover, and I thought it was time we gave these people the credit they are due for assisting us in getting this magazine published each week. Most of the game stories you read here are submitted by the SID at one of the participant schools, and virtually every award that we issue to the "Player of the Week" at each position in each division and the seasonal "All American
Team" recipients are the result of nominations and supporting stats submitted by SID's. So here's a great big 'Thank You' to all you ladies and gentlemen in the Sports Information Departments on college campuses all over North America who make our
job not just easy, but a lot of fun, too.
* * * * *
I've been a supporter over the years of the idea of instant replay in college football to review officials' decisions, just to make sure the right call was made. I was quite happy with the announcement this fall that many conferences at the 1-A level were going to institute instant replay reviews for questionable calls, and I had high hopes
that games at lower levels might institute this feature whenever television cameras are present, as is increasingly the case with new cable channels vying for football programming. But an incident at Saturday night's Ball State-Western Michigan game in Kalamazoo has me rethinking the implications of replay reviews. Late in the First Quarter, with BSU leading 21-7, WMU's QB aimed a quick lateral pass toward the right flank, and an alert BSU defender knocked it down, scooped it up and rumbled 25 or so yards to the end zone for the score that would have made it 28-7. After the play was well over and the touchdown had been awarded, the referees decided to review the play, since the game was being regionally televised. Now I had no doubt
that it was a backward pass, as I was parallel to the play, and my assessment was confirmed by everyone else around me in the pressbox, but the television replay, according to the officials, provided "uncontrovertable evidence" that the play was, in fact, an incomplete forward pass. My initial reaction was disbelief; I've had Lasik surgery, and my eyesight is perfect. Then I gave it a little thought; a 28-7 game at the end of the 1st Period loses an enormous percentage of its viewing audience. Did the TV truck give the officials a skewed angle on the replays, so it appeared to be a forward pass? I've long been concerned about the effect of TV on the increasing length of games, as well as the break in momentum and the natural flow of play, but this is a new aspect. The idea that a TV review can skew a call for the benefit of the network airing the game is scary indeed. Within 1:37 of game time after this botched review, Western had scored to make it a 21-14 game, and Ball State didn't get its 28th point until well into the 3rd Period. TV got its exciting game as a result, and the 5-overtime contest turned out to be the longest in Mid-American Conference history. Fortunately for fair play, Ball State ended up winning 60-57 despite having a deserved TD taken away early in the contest. Had it ended differently, the hue and cry from the Cardinals' locker room would have been quite understandable indeed. As a result of this clearly erroneous reversal, I'm rethinking my assessment of the need for instant replay reviews. TV has far too much influence over the college game already, and the idea that replays can be used to reverse correctly-called plays when TV networks will be adversely affected is a very unsettling matter. Maybe we should concentrate more on better training for game officials and rely less on manipulatable technology. My mind is no longer made up on this issue after Saturday night.
* * * * *
With my viewing of Alma College's narrow victory over Adrian on Saturday, I now have seen all but eight currently-playing North American 4-year college football teams. All eight of those schools are on my schedule in the next four weeks, with Concordia College of Selma, AL, being next on my list in a Thursday night game at Texas College in Tyler, TX. This is a "two-birds-with-one-stone" game, as I have only seen TC for 3/4ths of a game two years ago when they were a club team. Then I'll take my first plane trip of the 2005 season to Bismarck, ND, for the short drive to Minot State, where I'll see another "t-b-w-o-s" game. I've not yet seen Minot play (although I did watch them warm up for a game against now-defunct Westmar in LeMars, Iowa, in 1994 before driving to Sioux City to see North Dakota shut out Morningside....I'd love to have a do-over for that day!), and I have not seen Mayville State's varsity team, just their JV team in a home game against Trinity Bible. Then it's back to Texas on a return flight to see Howard Payne's JV visiting McMurry's JV
in Abilene on Monday night. I have not seen any HPU team yet, and I'll count the JV for now until I can get an HPU varsity game on my schedule, probably early next year. Then it's on to Rome, GA, for the Thursday night game between Shorter and Virginia-Wise. Shorter is my unseen team there, but UVA-Wise is still a "partial" as I missed the First Quarter of the only game I've seen them play, two years ago at Pikeville. Saturday the 22nd of October will be one of the most unusual days in my years of football travels, as I will get to see two previously-unseen non-four-year teams in the afternoon, then catch an unseen 4-year in the evening. The afternoon game is one which may not be repeatable in the future; I've been trying for years to find a way to see a game involving the Walter Reed Army Medical Center club team, and it's finally going to happen against football newcomer Louisburg College, the nation's oldest co-ed junior college, in Louisburg, NC. This will possibly be the last year of Walter Reed Warriors football, as the world-famous hospital is slated to close within a year if the Base Closing Commission is not overruled by Congress. In the evening, thanks to Greensboro College rescheduling its Homecoming Game to a 7:00PM kickoff, I'll be able to see Averett's Cougars for the first time with just a 90-minute drive from Louisburg. I'll stay in the East for the next week, with a JV game at Fordham on Friday allowing me to see SUNY-Maritime this year in their club season, and after a Baltimore double-header on Saturday (Ursinus @ Johns Hopkins and FAMU @ Morgan State) I'll drive to Worcester, MA, to see Becker take on Husson
in a Sunday Noon game at WPI. That will leave only Upper Iowa among currently-playing college teams that I have not yet seen, and I can catch their final game of the season at home in Fayette, IA, against the Augustana(SD) Vikings, if I wish. I'm not sure I'll do that, as I already know that I can see them against Drake in Des Moines next year in a September 9th night game at Drake's new stadium the week after I plan to see the first game in LaGrange College history. Either way would allow me to end my quest, for at least a year, anyway, at home in Iowa where it all started in 1957. In 2007 I will most assuredly extend the quest by seeing the first game played in the planned restoration of football at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. Who knows how many other new programs there may be by then, but however many there are, we'll be there to cover them!

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Craig Burroughs, National Correspondent/Columnist
Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette, Chicago

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