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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Basketball, eh!


08-30-08: State bests York 81-60
08-31-08: State downs Guelph by 40


The Pack concludes their trip north of the border on a high note with the blowout win. Brandon Costner made a point to show up well this trip. He averaged 24.5 points and 11 rebounds over the weekend.

The same couldn't be said of Ben McCauley, who did not travel with the team for "conduct detrimental to the team."

So it appears, at this point, that one of the two purported malcontents from last season's flaming trainwreck has gotten his sh*t together. The other, apparently, has not.

View the complete entry of "Basketball, eh!"

You can't spell "yack" without the A-C...C?...eh f*ck it, we suck.


Hoo boy.

As opening weekends go for a conference, the ACC's pretty much sucked:
  • Clemson lost by 24 in the league's "statement game" against Alabama (and by proxy, the ACC versus the entire SEC).
  • Virginia Tech got "Beamered" by ECU in Charlotte.
  • State got shut out in Columbia on national television.
  • Maryland and UNC squeaked by in their opening wins against I-AA opponents.
  • USC (the real one) hung 52 on the Hoos in Charlottesville.

Wake and BC looked solid in their openers, and Duke won a game by 24 points (when the hell was that last time THAT happened?!?), but beyond that it was just a bad, bad opening weekend for a conference already known for its lack of strength.

The Clemson and Virginia Tech games were especially bad. These were opportunities for both of the ACC's predicted divisional winners to come out and assert themselves, and they BOTH laid eggs. Alabama just flat out dominated Clemson on the lines, and Virginia Tech looked lost offensively and complacent on defense.

Ugh. Let's just hope the league's second weekend goes a little smoother than the first.

View the complete entry of "You can't spell "yack" without the A-C...C?...eh f*ck it, we suck."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Oh yeah? Well our animal noise beats YOUR animal noise!


Yeah, we got our ass beat. Yeah we got dominated in the second half and couldn't stop a pee wee football team. But at least our rallying cry isn't a loud ass COCKADOODLEDOO!!!!!!

Fast forward to the 1:45 mark and let it run.

Wolf howl > chicken call.


(Courtesy ACCNOW)

View the complete entry of "Oh yeah? Well our animal noise beats YOUR animal noise!"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

34-0 Cocks; Wilson goes out with a concussion


I had a root canal performed about a month ago.

It felt a TON better than watching the South Carolina game, that's for sure.


I hate, hate, hate to go down this road...but damn if it didn't seem like the South Carolina defensive linemen were headhunting on Wilson. They took two questionable shots on Wilson early in the game, making helmet-to-helmet contact. Even Chris Fowler had to wonder at least once if the 'Cocks should've been flagged for leading with the helmet.

But after it looked like Wilson was getting comfortable leading the offense, with Andre Brown making headway on the ground, Wilson would take yet another blow to the helmet that left the quarterback lying on the turf for what seemed like an eternity.

As his teammates prayed in silence, Wilson was carted off the field in what we would later find out was a grade 2 or grade 3 concussion.

After that, there was just no life left in the Pack.

Evans came in and absolutely stunk. There's no other way to put it. I thought he was better than what he showed tonight; perhaps Wilson's injury rattled him quite a bit.

Ugh. I just can't even seem to process how quickly things went from a 0-0 defensive grudgematch to a 34-0 bloodletting.

The defensive line looked solid holding the SC offense in check up front, winning battles along the line early, pressuring the quarterback enough to lead to four interceptions.

But again, Wilson's injury just completely devastated this team, mentally. Credit SC for taking the game from that point; Spurrier knows when blood's in the water, and he got after it when State was clearly shaken.

So now it's time to regroup, prepare for William and Mary and pray that Wilson can return and bring some life back to a team that was lifeless without him.

View the complete entry of "34-0 Cocks; Wilson goes out with a concussion"

The Latest From Da Wedder Man


From weather.com

As of 10:14 AM, here's how things look in the evening for the WBS area code of 29201:

(Courtesy of www.weather.com)

It's worth noting that they're not calling for anything greater than a 30% chance of rain. Given that and that it's later in the evening, I think the field will be soaked from earlier rain but that the wet stuff should hold off come gametime. If the rain arrives during your pre-game tailgate festivities, you can always stay dry in your car while doing some football betting.

But I don't do this shizz for a living, so take that for what it's worth.

View the complete entry of "The Latest From Da Wedder Man"

Trev Alberts' YouTube goodness


Things I take from this:

  1. I HATE the NCST abbreviation. Get rid of it.
  2. Trev Alberts looks like he needs to go pee. Here's a tip, Trev: take a break every now and then. I know you probably shot 40 of these things back-to-back, but holding it in for that length of time isn't healthy. Think of your prostate, bro.
  3. He makes a good point about SC's run defense. For all the hype, they are still suspect in that area and if the offensive line can create some holes (a big test for this unit right off the bat), Andre Brown is no slouch with the ball in his hands. He could put some solid numbers up.
  4. Steve Jr.'s calling the plays this year...it should be interesting to see what the combination of a new quarterback taking play calls from a new OC will equate to.

View the complete entry of "Trev Alberts' YouTube goodness"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How about some hope heading into the South Carolina game?


Everybody and their mama, grandmama and financial adviser is picking State to lose against South Carolina Thursday night.

Russell Wilson is starting his first game at QB. The Pack's lost its top returning wide receiver for the year and its starting tailback is out with an ankle injury. South Carolina has one of the best defenses in the SEC.

But if you need a reason to believe that State can pull off the upset on the road, look no further. It can be done, and State did it 11 years ago.


In 1997 there was no way in hell State was going to go into the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY and beat the No. 13 Orangemen. Not coming off a 3-8 season, not on their home field, not with Donovan McNabb at quarterback.

But a State squad led by undersized-but-mobile quarterback (sound familiar?) Jamie Barnette and emerging superstar Torry Holt rallied from 14-0 and 17-10 deficits to tie the game in the final quarter. Luck was on their side, forcing and recovering a Syracuse fumble with the Orangemen on the two-yard line, trying to kill the clock and needing only a field goal to win it.

It also took some stones from coach Mike O'Cain. O'Cain took a ton of justified heat for the performance of his football team in the mid-to-late 90's, but he made the call in overtime to go for two, sensing Syracuse was off-balance on defense.

From the linked article, 99.9 The Fan host--and starting Wolfpack tight end--Mark Thomas had this to say after the game:
''I think we kind of surprised them. They have a young defense and when a defense sees an offense that has confidence, it kind of puts a question in their mind. When we got up to the line, it wasn't about what they were going to do. It was what we were going to do and what we were going to get done. They weren't really ready. We saw them jostling around, and we could see they were in a formation that we wanted.''

You probably remember the rest. Barnette hit Holt for the two-point conversion, the team streaked across the field in celebration, and Syracuse could only wonder what had just happened.

Is State as talented and experienced as that 1997 team? Probably not, at least not at the position of quarterback and wide receiver. But then again, South Carolina isn't exactly ranked 13th, either. They have all sorts of offensive questions as well. They also have all the pressure on them to win. At home, at night, in front of 80,000 fans, with a head coach that was supposed to have produced by now.

It's not supposed to go State's way tomorrow night. But it wasn't in 1997, either. In the first game of the year, anything can--and sometimes does--happen.

View the complete entry of "How about some hope heading into the South Carolina game?"

Hey kids! More bad news!


Just when you thought a broken record couldn't get any more broken:

- Starting tailback Jamelle Eugene is out for the USC game with an ankle injury;
- Strong safety Javon Walker's knee injury is season-ending;
- Coach O'Brien is keeping OL Curtis Crouch out of the USC for undisclosed reasons;
- Thomas Barnes and Kyle Linney are both transferring out of the program;
- OL recruit Sam Jones will not join the team until January, at the earliest

Just the kind of news you love to hear heading into the SC game, right?

Hey, if you're a State fan, you're kind of used to this stuff by now. I don't know who, but someone, somewhere, at some time in history must've done some pretty nasty stuff on State's behalf because apparently we're still operating in a tremendous Karma deficit (that has seemingly been in effect for the last century or so).

View the complete entry of "Hey kids! More bad news!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ed Begley, Jr. :hearts the Pack


First off, sorry for my sparse posting this week. With the opening game of the football schedule just two+ days away, work picked a hell of a time to pick up and kick my arse.

Given that, I'm going to cut some corners and steal some material from Steven over at Section Six.

From the files of "Damn we're bored and need something to do," the folks at Rivals calculated the total amount of driving distance a team must travel for all of their away games.


Turns out we came in first (or 119th, depending on your perspective) out of all the FBS schools in shortest total travel distance. If you road trip all of our games this year, you can expect to travel only 1,734 miles, round trip.

That sounds like a lot, but it blows away the field. Number-118 Purdue is a full 500 miles behind us with 2,280.

The most? Fresno St. fans can expect to log 18,190 miles on the road traveling to their seven road contests.

(You may be wondering about Hawaii. They were exempt from these rankings on account of the miles not being driveable.)

So for those of you Greenies out there on the fence, looking for a team to get behind this year, look no further than the Carbon-Footprint-Featherweights in Raleigh.

View the complete entry of "Ed Begley, Jr. :hearts the Pack"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Russell Wilson at QB


Well, I'm a little surprised. After planning to redshirt Mike Glennon for the season earlier this week, I thought Tom O'Brien would choose experience over the unknown heading into the South Carolina game. But he's stated all along that his decision would be based on who he thought gave the team the best chance to win, period.
“The decision always came down to who we thought would give us the best opportunity to win a football game. Right now, our offense and the way we are structured it will be Russell Wilson. That was the deciding factor.”

Interesting language here: "...the way the offense is structured." Is he saying that State's offense, at this stage, suits a mobile quarterback better than a dropback passer? We've known that the Pack's offensive line has been a work in progress ever since his arrival. Perhaps it's still too far away to give a quarterback like Evans enough time to be effective.

I think if O'Brien had a good offensive line, Evans would be the starter. Experience counts for so much in college football. None of the five quarterbacks blew the staff away with their offseason work, obviously. That it was such a neck-and-neck race to the end of fall practice tells me that Evans and Wilson were and are still very close in ability. What may have ultimately tipped the scales in Wilson's favor is his escapability, his ability to roll the pocket and his greater effectiveness when tucking the ball to run--all positives when your lineplay is subpar.

When watching the game Thursday, pay particular attention to how well the offensive line plays. South Carolina has one hell of a defense, but if the offensive line struggles against them, it could very well mean the job is Wilson's for the rest of the year--or at least until the line gets shored up. Evans just doesn't have the physical tools to operate behind a sieve-like line.

Regardless of the line play, Evans will still see some action in the first half, according to O'Brien:
"Somewhere in the first half he's gonna have to go in and play – he's done too much for this program and he's a good enough player. Somewhere Russell is going to get a little tired in that first quarter or first half – just the emotion of the night and trying to get it done your first time out. He's gonna need some time to sit and rest a little."
It will be an opportunity to see if Evans' surgically repaired shoulder has improved his ability to throw the ball any. If it has, then it should be interesting to see how this ever-evolving quarterback scenario unfolds from there.

One hopes, however, that we're still not trying to resolve it three or four weeks into the season.

View the complete entry of "It's Russell Wilson at QB"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ready To Nerd Out?


Statistics isn't usually my thing. That's typically Steven's domain, not mine.

But lately I've been trying to figure out a quantitative way to show just how much worse of the Coastal Division is this season than the Atlantic... More specifically, I needed a way to fight all this preseason hype the Tar Heels have been getting.

The preseason AP Top 25 poll was released this week, and Carolina earned 14 points (points are awarded based on where a team is ranked in the top 25. #1 ranking=25 points; #25=1 point).

The only two things I can attribute these votes to are:
  1. Butch Davis is their coach
  2. They were picked 2nd in the Coastal Division at the ACC Media Weekend a few weeks back*
*And 2b, there's Carolina's name recognition. All things being equal, every Carolina football team on the border of football success seems to get a few votes here or there on account of Dean Smith and Michael Jordan's past success...


But this is a Carolina team coming off a 4-8 record in 2007, led by a quarterback who sat out the spring recovering from a shoulder surgery (sound familiar?).

Sometimes teams just have a "buzz," and "buzz" often counts for a lot in the preseason, where every matchup is played out in the minds of sportswriters instead of football fields. This Carolina team has "buzz," and it's showing in the AP poll.

So I set out to put together a spreadsheet to see if the Coastal division sucked as bad as I suspected it did in relation the Atlantic, and to see if Carolina's Top 25 ranking should hold water.

What you see below you is convoluted, colorful and somewhat confusing, but there's a method to this madness. It's up to you to decide if it has any merit.

This spreadsheet is based on the average preseason rankings of five major publications/ranking services (CFN, collegefootballpoll.com, Rivals, ESPN, SI.com and Athlon) that put together a comprehensive 119-FBS-team preseason list. A full 119-team list eliminates the split division "boost" that Carolina is getting for its second-place ranking in a lousy division in the below-par ACC; it gets you nowhere here. This spreadsheet compares your strength relative to the rest of the Div. I-A programs out there to see how you would fare in a bigger, more-talented pond of fish.

Now given that I'm using numbers from the media, I needed a way to weed out the idiots. After all, this is the media we're talking about here. Preseason football polls are fertile idiocy breeding grounds. So, in the Olympic spirit of fairness (right, gymnastics judges?), I've eliminated the highest and lowest rankings for each school. The remaining three rankings are averaged together, and the list is sorted according to this average.

Right off the bat you can see that Atlantic teams, highlighted in orange, are dominating the top half of the leage. It's not that surprising, of course--that's what we expected to see. But outside of Va. Tech at #2 there's not much meat at the top from our friends in the Coastal division. And as I suspected, Carolina would be a middle-of-the-road team in a 12-team division-less ACC; no more, no less.

The rest of the chart, as you head from left to right, gives you an idea as to which teams would be favored head-to-head against others in the league based on their average national rankings. The numbers in red represent the average number of slots down the rankings a team is compared to its opponent; the green how many slots higher. In the first team column, for example, you can see that Boston College is ranked an average of 26 slots lower than Clemson, but ranked higher than Maryland by an average of 8.33 spots.

I marked teams more than 25 slots apart from their opponent as either solid underdogs or solid favorites. Teams within 5-25 slots either way are mild underdogs/favorites, and teams within 5 slots in the rankings I considered a toss up.

Finally, you can see how a hypothetical 11-game slate of in-conference games would shake out, assuming all the favorites won. This, of course, does not take into account the fact that not all of these teams will face one another during a single season (oh to dream), nor does it give teams any sort of homefield advantage. Imagine every single game played at Bank of America stadium, and you'll get the idea.

So there it is. Individually, these rankings from the media can make some pretty bold predicitons (N.C. State as the 110-th ranked team, according to CFP?) , but when you blend them together and average them out, they tend to make a lot more sense and confirm what I suspected all along: the Atlantic is not just a better division than the Coastal, it's night and day.

And Carolina may very well end up second in the Atlantic, but don't believe the hype just yet.

View the complete entry of "Ready To Nerd Out?"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Student Ticketing Changes On The Way



The three changes include the addition of a stand-by line available to students unable to get tickets through the lottery, a change in the point system used to distribute tickets and a change in the length of the on-demnad[sic] period the day before games.


The new priority point system will give students a certain number of points based on year and will allow students to gain or lose points from then on. The more points students gain the better place they will have within the lottery.

The stand-by line will allow students who do not receive tickets to show up on game day and possibly still be admitted. The number of people admitted from the stand-by line will be directly linked to how many students with tickets show up to the game.


Here's my take on all this.

For years since my graduation in 2001, it's seemed the N.C. State administration can't get out of its own way (sound familiar?) with respect to student ticketing. They went away from assigned tickets to a general admission, lottery-dispersed ticket system around that same time.

All it's ever led to is tremendous chaos and confusion in the stands as several thousand students cram into a space made for half that number. The GA policy was also to blame for the infamous urination incident in the stands a couple of years ago as students, fearful of not being readmitted to the section if they left their seat for the restroom, decided to relieve themselves where they stood.

There's also the ridiculous policy that all students must enter through one designated "Student" gate. I make no claims to be any smarter than the average man, but is it really too difficult to ask a dude in a green jacket, used to tearing regular tickets at a non-student gate, to process a student ticket as well? Apparently so, because for years the students have been herded like cattle through one "Student" gate, creating tremendous logjams that often result in partially-filled student sections well into the first quarter.

So these changes are welcomed, I guess, but skeptically so.

It's a sad statement that, going on the better part of seven years now, the leaders of the student body and the school administration must continue to meet nearly every summer to rehash what should be such a simple prospect: handing out tickets. Forgive me if I don't expect these changes to affect the current situation much -- it's an assumption made on past experience.

It's a testament to the lack of trust the administration puts in the student body that they can't simply offer the tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis at Reynolds like they did in the late 90's. I was there for the great Campout Debacle of Aught-One, where the poorly-run campout for Carolina tickets led to a out-of-control bonfire and some property damage, but after even years it's high time to have moved on. The current freshmen were all of 12 years old when that took place; no sense in punishing them for the sins of their student body forefathers.

The first-come, first-served system worked, based on a very simple principle: if you were willing to wake up early (or camp overnight) for tickets, you exhibited an above-average desire to attend the game, meaning you more likely to attend the game and make your presence known. Further, you had a real ticket to an assigned seat, meaning you could tailgate at your leisure, enter the closest gate to your parking spot and know that, heaven forbid you had to urinate, you wouldn't have to do so in your souvenir cup.

I'm encouraged by the priority-point system*...that shows they're at least trying to reward the more passionate students in the fanbase. I should hope that the increase in points over time is tied to actually showing up to the games. There's no more tangible measure of a student's want-to-be-there than when they put their butt in a seat.

At the end of the day, however, there's still a ticket lottery, which means the most dedicated Wolfpack football fan (not in the Student Wolfpack Club*) runs the risk of not getting a ticket. The stand-by line is an interesting concept, but how will they operate it? What do you tell the kid that first missed out on the lottery and then drove all the way to the stadium to stand in line for God-knows-how-long, only to find they missed out on a ticket again?

The only fair system I've seen employed by the ticket office was the one they had in place long before I got to State and were still using when I was there...first-come, first-serve. It rewards the passionate and dedicated, and who among us don't have fond memories for those cold early mornings camping for tickets?

These are the things the ticketing system of the last decade have robbed the State students of the new millenium.

*One group that's no-doubt benefited from the ticketing policies of recent years is the Student Wolfpack Club, which has been rewarding students willing to attend non-revenue sports with tickets through a priority-point system for over a decade. Frustrated students fed up with the lottery system have sought out the Student Wolfpack Club to ensure tickets to the biggest games of the year. (If you can't tell, I'm a proud SWPC alum.)

View the complete entry of "Student Ticketing Changes On The Way"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

QB Race Down To Two: Glennon To Be Redshirted


Per 850theBuzz:
3 down, 1 more to go. Justin Burke and Harrison Beck were already ruled out of the starting QB contest at NC State. Forget about Mike Glennon as well. Tom O’Brien announced that the school will redshirt Glennon this season. That leaves Daniel Evans and Russell Wilson as the final two contestants on Wolfpack Quarterback Idol.
You know my thoughts on it already. I think it's a good move, and it gives Glennon time to grow, get familiar with the playbook and get a leg up on his grades while Evans or Wilson take us through the second season of Tom's rebuilding project.


From the WRAL story:
O’Brien said it was possible that the two finalists will both see playing time in the season opener.

“We’ve been in these situations [at Boston College] and we’ve put the other guy in the game some time in the second quarter just to get the starter out because he was new. But it depends on who it is. If it’s Russell Wilson maybe we’ll take him out and put Evans in just so he can settle down and look at the defense.”
O’Brien said the starting decisions for all positions will be made when the Wolfpack exchanges depth charts with Gamecocks.
If you ask me, Evans is the leader at this point to start the South Carolina game, and I don't think it's even close. Maybe 80/20 in Evans' favor, and that's being generous to Wilson. Evans has what Wilson doesn't, and that's experience. It may not be the most ideal experience (more INTs than TDs to this point), but it's an invaluable leg-up to have on your competition. Maybe if the game was in Raleigh instead of Columbia this would be a closer debate, but I can't see Tom tossing Wilson into the fire on the road at an SEC school in the college football season opener on Thursday night.

View the complete entry of "QB Race Down To Two: Glennon To Be Redshirted"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Harrison Beck to switch from QB to OL


Or it appears he's well on his way (courtesy www.accfootballphotos.com)

Dude...mix in a salad.

H/T to the folks over at SFN

View the complete entry of "Harrison Beck to switch from QB to OL"

Message Board Quote-O-Teh Day


Haven't done one of these in a while, but this one cracked me up pretty good. In reference to the new wolf statue at Carter-Finley, "Fury:"

When I look at the straight on shot, it makes me think of Clint Howard.
-- wolfbreath

Hmmm...separated at birth?

View the complete entry of "Message Board Quote-O-Teh Day"

Burke is officially gone: Transferring to Lousiville




Well, it wasn't tough to see this one coming. As soon as Tom O'Brien eliminated him (and Harrison Beck) from the running of the quarterback position, it was clear that Burke was either going to have to give up any chance of playing time at State or look elsewhere.

Can't blame him for taking the latter.


After sitting out a year at Louisville, he'll have two years of eligibility remaining. By all accounts Burke was a tremendous student and was well ahead of schedule in getting his degree here at State.

Burke's story is an interesting one. As one of the better QB prospects in the 2006 class (#19 nationally according to Scout), a lot of folks (myself included) thought that Burke was the future of the football program. He has decent size, decent speed and was known to be a heady, between-the-ears player. State fans hadn't seen a cerebral QB since Rivers, and Burke looked poised to be that next tactician on the field.

He also seemed the perfect fit for Marc Trestman's West Coast Offense, which relied heavily on quick reads and short throws. But Burke was victimized somewhat by bad timing. He redshirted his freshman campaign in what would be Trestman's final year with the program. Trestman was given his walking papers along with Chuck Amato following the 2006 season, and Burke's spent his RS-Freshman year transitioning from a West Coast style to O'Brien's more traditional pro style.

Ultimately, it appears, Burke never fit into O'Brien's QB mold. I think Burke lost a little heart along the way, as well. That's just speculation on my part, but I never got the sense that Burke burned for the starting QB job the last couple of years. Again, speculation.

Now our eyes shift to Beck. Will he stay? Will he go? I wouldn't be surprised with either decision--he's already transferred once from a BCS school and may not be looking to pack his bags again. But it's clear he's not going to see the field, short of all three of the QBs ahead of him keeling over, so he may decide to transfer for playing time. We shall see...

View the complete entry of "Burke is officially gone: Transferring to Lousiville"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Wolfpack Unis


Photos courtesy Rivals.com.

So here they are...not too bad. You'll hear a lot of griping about the three wolves logo on the front of the uniform, and I'm not thrilled about it, but I think I'll get used to it. The big news is that we no longer look like Atlanta Falcon clones out on the field, and that's fine by me.

View the complete entry of "New Wolfpack Unis"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Can you say "Snake Bit?" Bowens out for the year.


Welcome to, well, every single year.

The Pack's notorious injury bug strikes again, this time claiming top wide receiver Donald Bowens.

It's the same ol' story year in and year out, it seems. Last season was the year of the tailback...losing Toney Baker early in the year and Andre Brown shortly thereafter. Jamelle Eugene would've been a virtual nobody were it not for decimating injuries in the Pack's backfield in 2007.

Now Bowens goes down with a hairline fracture in his spine to join junior college transfer Clem Johnson on the bench for the year. Johnson suffered a broken jaw. Baker is out of practice, still recovering from his knee injury a year ago.

We can only hope that this will be it for the year for major injuries, but if history is any indication, expect more down the road.

View the complete entry of "Can you say "Snake Bit?" Bowens out for the year."

Whoa...Mario's pissed.


At Osi Umenyiora, that is.

Back story: Apparently CBS Sportsline columnist Pete Prisco compiled a list of the NFL's Top 50 players recently.

And apparently Umenyiora took umbrage with Pack alum Mario Williams' position on that list at #6. So much so that he had the following to say about the list:
Asked on a national radio show what surprised him about my list, Umenyiora said, "Mario Williams at No. 6." He then added, "This guy right here at No. 6 is just absolutely ridiculous."


Now remember, one of Mario's defining characteristics in his young career has been his extreme patience in the face of criticism and negativity. When the Texans passed on Reggie Bush and Vince Young to take Williams with the top overall pick, nearly every radio, TV and print journalist (not to mention two-bit keyboard jockey on the internet) said Houston was foolish beyond reproach. They called him a bust before he played a single down, and said Houston passed on the can't-miss prospect of a lifetime in Bush.

Mario had every right to lash out at the chatter. To fire back during the countless interviews about his controversial selection. But he stayed positive, never dwelling on the performance of Bush or Young but only addressing what he could do to get better.

Flash forward to Umenyiora's comments. When word got back to Mario, the normally subdued and positive Texan said:
"He's a coward," Williams said. "If he has anything to say to me, he should have said it to my face. You write that."
Wow. The soft spoken Williams typically would never hurt a fly (well, except for the ones he smears on the windshield of his Lambo), but he lit up Osi like a Christmas tree. It's almost like your local church's lay leader calling you a dirty sonofabitch in the church bulletin.

I'm not much of one for trash talking, for the most part, but I think it's great to see Williams show a little nastiness.

When you're soft spoken in the game of football, you can unfairly get labeled as soft. I think it's even tougher for a defensive end. Snap, explode off the line, chase, kill--that's the name of the game for a DE. That killer mentality on the field clashes with a soft spoken demeanor off it.

Perhaps that's why Umenyiora felt like he could slam Williams (who finished 37 positions higher than Osi on the list, by the way) without repercussion.

It's good to see that Mario's not taking it lying down.

View the complete entry of "Whoa...Mario's pissed."

Lail: Proposed 3rd Q song list leaves much to be desired


Matt Lail

I absolutely love my alma mater, but sometimes it appears that N.C. State University just throws things together without really thinking them through just because someone thought it would be a good idea. The result can be a lame, half-hearted attempt at a “new” tradition that dies a quick, yet still somehow painful, death.

Case in point: The “Walk of Champions.” Don’t get me wrong: the concept of it is wonderful, and I hope it sticks around forever. But the name is a misnomer; the Wolfpack hasn’t won an ACC football championship since 1979. A large number of State fans are – by combination of their nature and the fact that they follow the Pack – a sarcastic and cynical bunch. We tend to mock ourselves as much as opposing fans can. So it’s not uncommon to see a Pack fan roll his eyes when saying, “Well, I’m off to see the [rolling eyes] ‘Walk of Champions.’”

The newest “new” tradition proposed is to have a sing-along song for the time between the third and fourth quarters. (Apparently this is very important; ample tailgating time is not.) Fans have been asked to vote from among these choices.

1."Hey Baby" -- Bruce Channel
2. "Song of the South" -- Alabama
3. "You Give Love a Bad Name" -- Bon Jovi
4. "I Won't Back Down" -- Tom Petty
5. "Start Me Up" -- The Rolling Stones

Sigh. My good friend James has already analyzed the pros and cons of the above list, and if the song has to be from among those five, then I have to agree with James that “Song of the South” should be the clear favorite. James stated that that is the most “inside the box” list ever, and he’s right. I’m surprised “Mony, Mony” (the Billy Idol version) didn’t make the cut.

But why force a “new” tradition on us? After all, the best traditions are those that just sort of happen.

In the 1960s, English band Gerry and the Pacemakers recorded a version of a song from a Rodgers and Hammerstein production. The song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” was regularly played over the speakers before Liverpool F.C. soccer matches, as the stadium DJ at that time would play the top 10 songs of the day in descending order. Incredibly, even after it was out of the Top 10, the Liverpool fans latched on to the song’s theme (“Walk on through the wind/Walk on through the rain/Though your dreams be tossed and blown/Walk on walk on, with hope in your heart/And you'll never walk alone”), they learned the words, and to this day the song is sung before the Reds take the field, either at home or away. The song is such a part of LFC culture that it’s included in the team’s crest. It wasn’t planned; it wasn’t focus-grouped; it just happened.

And it’s perhaps one of the greatest traditions in sports.

But, if we must have songs blaring from the Carter-Finley Stadium speakers, then let’s at least pick good ones. I give you my potential song choices for Pack games, in no particular order. (And there are no rap songs on this list; not because I don’t like rap but because Coach Tom O’Brien has said there will be no rap. I’m taking him at his word.)

I’ve divided the list into three categories: Rockin’ Tunes (these songs may not have lyrics that people can sing along with, but the songs have enough “oomph” to get some fists pumping); Happy Fun Songs (great sing-along songs or songs that just put a smile on your face); and finally, Southern, Possibly Un-PC Songs (no description needed). So, without further ado …

Rockin’ tunes

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” – Metallica

Granted, the opening portion of this song is probably a little too long; it would take minutes to get to the actual lyrics. But imagine a night game at Carter-Finley. The opening note of the song (an ominous, “come out to the execution” bell), followed then by the march-like thunder of guitars and drums. Oh, and for good measure, imagine close to 60,000 people (OK, probably more like a couple thousand who know the words) singing to the opposing team …

“Take a look to the sky just before you die
“It is the last time you will
“Blackened roar massive roar fills the crumbling sky
“Shattered goal fills his soul with a ruthless cry.”

Hell yeah.

“One Little Victory” – Rush

One disadvantage to this choice is that if just a few know the words to Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” then even fewer will know this song. No matter. The crushing double-bass drum intro to this song would have people on their feet. And, if by some chance we make it to the lyrics, they ain’t half bad either:

“Celebrate the moment
“As it turns into one more
“Another chance at victory
“Another chance to score …

“A certain measure of righteousness
“A certain amount of force
“A certain degree of determination
“Daring on a different course …”

“Working Man” – Rush

I threw a second Rush song in here for a reason. I may be completely off-base by saying this, but I’ll go ahead and say it: the consistent themes in Rush’s songs tend to be themes close to the heart of many Wolfpack fans: self-reliance, independence, the reality that “it’s a dog-eat-dog world.” “Working Man,” from Rush’s first album, is an homage to the common man, as the title implies. Plus, the song just rocks. Same could be said for “Tom Sawyer.”

Other choices:

“Fuel” – Metallica
“Elevation” – U2
“Rusty Cage” – Soundgarden
“Break on Through (To the Other Side)” – The Doors. (“Try to run/Try to hide …”)

Happy Fun Songs

“Keep On Loving You” – REO Speedwagon

Back in college, one of my friends (and former Technician Sports Editor) Michael Preston cleverly named his fantasy football team “MJP Speedwagon,” even claiming that his make-believe “team” took the field before “games” to “Keep On Loving You.” We all got a big laugh out of that. But thinking about it a decade later, maybe Mike was on to something. The song’s just catchy and cheesy enough to work. Plus the lyrics – “I’m gonna keep on lovin’ you/Cuz it’s the only thing I wanna do” – symbolize what it takes to be a State fan: dedication and perseverance.

Oh, and a sense of humor.

“Build Me Up Buttercup" – The Foundations

Speaking of self-deprecating humor...

“What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong

Hey, if “You’ll Never Walk Alone” can be embraced, why not perhaps the most positive song ever written?

Other choice:

“Your Love Is Lifting Me Higher” – Jackie Wilson

Southern, Possibly Un-PC Tunes

“Song of the South” – Alabama

See James’s commentary, linked above.

“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” – The Band

OK, so four-fifths of The Band were Canadians, but that didn’t stop them from recording one of the most anguish-filled yet romanticized songs about the South ever written. Robbie Robertson once recalled going “down South” and hearing people say, “the South’s gonna rise again.”

“At one point when I heard it I thought it was kind of a funny statement and then I heard it another time and I was really touched by it,” he said in the liner notes of Greatest Hits. “I thought, ‘God, because I keep hearing this, there’s pain here, there is sadness here.’ In Americana land, it’s kind of a beautiful sadness.”

“The South’s Gonna Do It” – Charlie Daniels Band

If we’re considering “Song of the South,” why not go for someone from North Carolina? Charlie Daniels is from Wilmington, the same city as Roman Gabriel. Coincidence? I think not.

It could be a fun song to which to dance, and the lyrics are very, uh, Southern:

“Be proud you're a rebel
“'Cause the South's gonna do it again and again...”

Other choice:

“Ring of Fire” - Johnny Cash
“Friends in Low Places” – Garth Brooks

Of course, if we must insist on a Dixie-themed song, there is one logical choice (and it’s not “Dixie”). It goes a little something like this …

"Where the winds of Dixie softly blow o'er the fields of Caroline, There stands ever cherished, N.C. State, as thy honored shrine

“So lift your voices! Loudly sing from hill to oceanside!

“Our hearts ever hold you, N.C. State in the folds of our love and pride."

Simply beautiful.

View the complete entry of "Lail: Proposed 3rd Q song list leaves much to be desired"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

...and then there were three.


QB battle trimmed to Evans, Wilson and Glennon.

You could almost see this coming, given how few reps Harrison Beck and Justin Burke were getting in the scrimmages. Glennon was getting the lion's share of reps and Wilson must've shown the coaches something that keeps him in the race. Evans, by no surprise, is still in it, but it appears that he's no longer a lock to be the starter for the South Carolina game based on TOB's language:
"I don't have anything to say about them individually," said O'Brien. "The idea is to find a guy who we think we can win with. We made that decision [to cut it to three]. Those three guys all have something we like about them, and it's all down to how they perform in these next two scrimmages."
A part of me keeps rooting for Burke to do something to get on the field, but it's clear at this point that he lacks some key ability to do it, be it accuracy, strength or leadership. I thought he looked the best out of the bunch at the Spring Game, but perhaps that was simply an anomaly. He seems content at this point to serve in a backup capacity and earn a degree for free, which I certainly can't begrudge (especially after dealing with that beech Sallie Mae this morning).

As I wrote yesterday, I would like to see Glennon redshirt this season, get more comfortable with the team, the playbook and build some size to increase his durability. But it looks like TOB is open to the idea of him playing season, perhaps from day one. If Glennon is to play this year, I would like him to play the first game. The worst case scenario, in my mind, is to sit him the first half of the year and then bring him in mid-season if we stuggle. At that point you've burned a full year's eligibility for 5-6 games of experience as a true freshman. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened to a player, though, and preserving eligibility doesn't seem high up on the list of factors for O'Brien as to who plays and who doesn't.

I still think Evans starts the South Carolina game, but at this point Glennon and Wilson seem to be closing the gap...stay tuned.

View the complete entry of "...and then there were three."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Glennon: QB, or not QB...that is the question.


We're two weeks and two days away from the first game of the season and State's no closer today than they were two months ago to knowing who the starting quarterback will be.

The big cry from the internets these days is anointing freshman Mike Glennon the starter against South Carolina, bypassing incumbents Daniel Evans, Justin Burke and Harrison Beck and newcomer Russell Wilson.

Here's two reasons why these State fans think it will work, and why I think it is a bad idea.

1. The Unknown is better than The Known. It's the classic scenario...the backup QB is always the most popular player on a football team. The reason being he hasn't done anything wrong to that point in his career. It's much easier to point to all the mistakes of the starting college QB and say he sucks while simultaneously touting all the accolades an incoming freshman received in high school as evidence that he's a better option. Comparing one's high school performance to another's at the college level isn't a fair comparison, by a long shot. Yes, Glennon was rated as one of the top two or three QBs in the nation as a high school senior. But how do you extrapolate that into what he'll do at the next level? You can't. But it hasn't stopped folks from making that argument.

2. Philip Rivers. While he will likely remain the greatest QB in school history for decades to come, Philip's legacy for the near future is that no QB to don the Wolfpack red will ever be comparable. Some folks lose sight of this, however, in wanting to thrust Glennon into the first game of the year, citing how well Philip did as a true freshman. They say he has all the tools Philip had, can make all the throws and has all the mental aspects in place to succeed as a true freshman, just like Philip did. If it worked then, it can work now. They may be right.

Here's why I think they're wrong.

First off, there were three things about Rivers' situation in 2000 that made his immediate success possible: his size and strength as a freshman, his offensive coordinator (Norm Chow) and his early enrollment. Glennon has none of these three things working in his favor. While I don't mean to shortchange Dana Bible, he's no Chow (no one else is). Glennon's thin as a rail (6'6"-195), and he didn't join the team until the summer, missing out on all of the spring workouts and practices.

Glennon needs two things right now: time and size. Missing out on spring practice cannot be diminished, in my mind, because those hours spent in the weight room and on the practice field are crucial team-building opportunities. The recurring theme coming out of Rivers' first spring in camp was how strong his leadership skills were at an early age. He worked harder than any of the returning players and incoming freshmen, and it helped build the kind of rapport a QB needs heading into fall camp and the first game of the year. Glennon hasn't had that time, and while I'm sure he's making the most of his time with the team now, he missed out on almost four months of time he could've spent in playbook memorization and team building.

His size is also a concern. While Glennon will never fill out into a 265-lb monster, he does need every pound of muscle he can add to his frame to ensure he'll survive the pounding he'd surely take in 2008. State's OL isn't exactly where it needs to be -- witness the moving of two defensive linemen over to the OL in the spring to fill in gaps -- and it would be risky, in my mind, to put a thin QB who hasn't physically matured back there with inadequate protection. Rivers stepped of the plane at RDU weighing a good 220. That's a full 25 pounds ahead of Glennon at this point, and Glennon is about an inch taller.

Couple the time in the weight room with a year of college-level film study and you'll set the groundwork for Glennon to maximize his output over four years of eligibility. If you need a good example of what holding a clipboard in your first year can do for a QB, look no further than Rivers, who sat his first two years in the NFL. It gave him plenty of time to learn the playbook, continue to workout and gain more strength and to build a rapport with his pro teammates. Glennon, in my mind, needs that time in moving from the high school to college level.

Some other factors:
  • State's picked to finish last in the Atlantic Division.
  • State faces one of the toughest schedules in the league this year. The Pack could be 100% better as a team than they were last year and still finish with the same record.
  • You run the risk of damaging Glennon's confidence if you start him too early in a situation where he fails often. A QB is measured between the ears, and if his confidence gets damaged early, it may take a lot of time to get it back, if ever.
  • Tom O'Brien is in no danger of losing his job if he struggles this season. Is it better to use a year of Glennon's eligibility now, in a year that won't amount to much more than a rebuilding season where Glennon will get pounded, or to have for a fifth year in 2012 with (hopefully) a much better OL and better surrounding talent?
Redshirt Glennon this season and let the quartet of other contenders duke it out for the honor to captain rebuilding season #2 of the TOB era. Evans has experience and a repaired shoulder that he claims is stronger than ever. If that's the case, I say give it to the senior and let the other three vie for the job. Because if Glennon is the truth, let's focus on the future with him at the helm and give him the best chance to succeed.

That means sitting him in 2008.

Edit to update Rivers' weight as a freshman...good catch.

View the complete entry of "Glennon: QB, or not QB...that is the question."

Even more "new traditions"


We mentioned this in a post last week, but now that we've gotten further along in the process it's time to address it in its own post.

The folks in charge of, well, traditions have deemed it necessary to pick a song to play in between the third and fourth quarters. They posted a campaign on www.gopack.com a while back calling for any and all suggestions...and after sifting through what I'm sure must've been a mountain of Sir Mix Alot, Limp Bizkit and John Tesh proposals, here are your nominees, in no particular order:

1. "Hey Baby" -- Bruce Channel
2. "Song of the South" -- Alabama
3. "You Give Love a Bad Name" -- Bon Jovi
4. "I Won't Back Down" -- Tom Petty
5. "Start Me Up" -- The Rolling Stones

Let me just say, first off, that this is one of the most "inside-the-box" lists ever. Nothing here to get ruffled up about; no rap-rock mixes that need to be edited for younger ears, no off-the-wall songs from groups you've never heard of. About the most controversial song on the list is the Alabama tune, oddly enough, as it glorifies a return to the "old" South remembered not only images of sweet potato pie but the days when Rebel flags flew with regularity over homes and state buildings all over the region.

I had hoped one song would jump off the page to me as something I could say, "YEAH! That's IT!" But no such luck, and I suspect the same for just about everyone else out there (except, I guess for the folks who nominated these).

In other words, I could see almost all of these songs making it into the 100.7 The River rotation, and that's not good.

If you tied me down and forced me to pick one...well, I guess I'd go with the Alabama song, and here's why. Well, more accurately, here's why it's not one of the other four.

1. "Hey Baby" Beaten to DEATH. Sheesh. Never has one band/artist gotten more mileage out of one song than Bruce Channel. They were probably playing it at football and basketball games in 1962, and they're still playing it in stadiums all across America to this very day, and no doubt in greater numbers. Carolina plays it, Duke plays it...hell, even high schools play it. Cliche doesn't begin to do justice to what level of overuse this song has "achieved."

3. "You Give Love A Bad Name" Bon FREAKING Jovi? Well, I guess with this song they were gunning for a line that you can shout. "SHOT THROUGH THE HEART ... hmm something something something hmm hmm ... YOU GIVE LOVE ... A BAD NAME!" HELLZ YEAH! No, wait! That sucks! Oh noes! We are the fail!

4. "I Won't Back Down" Here's your likely winner. Tom Petty's a safe choice, with a song that has a somewhat competitive message in the title. It's just that this song is a damn snoozer. It's got a medium pace, with not a lot of punch. Running Down A Dream is a much more driving tune, but I guess the title carries a negative conotation. Won't Back Down also features a couple of shoutable lines which likely earned its spot on this list: "HEYYYYYYYYY BABY (noticing a trend?) ... there ain't no easy way out (wait, we want that in our inspirational theme heading into the fourth?) HEYYYYYYYYYYY I ... won't ... back ... down ..." Here's your winner, but I would've liked to see us dig a bit deeper into Petty's catalogue for something that's not so overplayed (see above: 1."Hey Baby")

5. "Start Me Up" Here's your second place finisher, and it may be just as overplayed as "Hey Baby," if that's possible. It's been featured by nearly every beer company, been a part of nearly every Super Bowl pregame show...it even made an appearance as the theme music to a Windows 95 ad back in the day. It's a reasonable song, but I can't see 58,000 folks trying to shout "Start Me Up" in unison. Probably because, even if they haven't heard it in years, they're still sick and tired of it. Again, safe, but overplayed.

So by default, I chose "Song of the South" by Alabama because, if nothing else, it echoes our blue collar, Southern heritage as a land grant university in a state that still has traces of old-school Southern culture coursing through its veins. The "new" South may be here to stay, but there are enough folks that remember the "old" South that will identify with it. There's not much to shout in the song, other than perhaps the "Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth" (Though, admittedly, I don't know how well that will sound.) But if the marketing (?) folks pick "Song of the South," they're pretty much abandoning the idea that this song is meant to fire up the troops or scare the bejeesus out of the opponent. It's strictly chosen to get all the students singing together in a semi-drunken sway, with the hopes that some folks in the stands follow along.

"Song of the South" also earns points (from me, at least) for not being cliche. I can't recall the last time I heard it, and with the new country being what it is, i.e. American Idol contestants with slide guitar backing, I can't imagine it gets beat to death in rotation on country radio these days.

So there you go. My pick. But it's a selection from a list that's slim pickins' to begin with. It's by no means what I would've nominated, and it's only the least-worst song on the list, not the first-best.

But hey, that's new traditions for you.

HT to onebluebird.blogspot.com for the illustration of Petty

View the complete entry of "Even more "new traditions""

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cullen Jones wins gold: Suck on that, Frenchie!


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N.C State alum Cullen Jones and his mates in the pool pulled off a tremendous upset Sunday night in Beijing, besting the French in the 400 M Freestyle Relay to win gold.

Jones becomes the second black swimmer ever to win a gold medal in Olympic history (Anthony Nestor of Surinam was the first), the first black American and the first to hold or share a world record.

By sheer luck I happened to watch the race unfold live. Amazing. The final leg swam by Lezak was nothing short of incredible. At the final turn with just 50m to go, it looked like the French were going to take it in a walk. But Lezak kept churning as the Frenchman faded in the final 25m. I found myself cheering out loud when we claimed first place.

It was a dramatic win, and one that keeps Michael Phelps' hopes for 8 gold medals alive. But perhaps more importantly, it served notice to the French swimmers who had talked a great deal of smack leading up to the event:

Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey Alain Bernard: "The Americans? We will smash them."
Le Scoreboaurde, le biatches!

video HT: Awful Announcing, via 850 The Buzz's blog

View the complete entry of "Cullen Jones wins gold: Suck on that, Frenchie!"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Proposed New Tradition #3,964: Howard's Wolf


What do you do when your football program doesn't have much tradition to speak of? You make "new" traditions!

If you'll recall, GoPack.com has been asking Pack fans in recent months to submit suggestions for the opening song, and for the best song to play to get the whole crowd singing along, as part of a collection of "new" traditions to try at home games.

Well, in that same vein we now have this, our latest "new" tradition:

That's right. It's a wolf statue at the mouth of the players' entrance.

One can only assume that we're trying to start a "new" tradition of rubbing the wolf's head before entering onto the field, a la Howard's Rock at Clemson, Testudo at Maryland and probably several other schools that rub objects before hitting the field.

Color me "meh" on the whole idea.

Yeah, it's great that we're trying to put the wraps on all the renovations to Carter Finley with the smaller trappings and details, but this just looks unfinished to me in its current state.

Perhaps it is. Perhaps the statue will be joined in subsequent years with a matching environment that will give it a good, intimidating feel that it needs.

But right now, all it looks like is a statue that was dropped off the back of a Chevy Silverado onto a slab of concrete. Which it is.

I guess I shouldn't be too critical of this. It's a sign that we're trying to start building some tradition that we really haven't ever had. The fireworks entrance is about the only notable thing that we've continued to do over the last 10 years, but there's certainly nothing unique about that.

Actually, we used to have a tradition that sadly has passed: There was a large bass drum that the band used to wheel onto the field before a game as part of the marching band's entrance. But I guess with the addition of the jumbotron in the early part of this decade, the band's involvement into the pregame festivities has taken a back seat to the rap metal of P.O.D. and The Drowning Pool, so the bass drum's entrance -- our only real tradition at that point -- went the way of the dodo.

My fear is that it comes off like a half-assed attempt to copy the traditions that other schools already have in place. There's nothing unique about this idea that hasn't already been done before at other schools, and at other schools (notably Clemson), they've been doing it long enough to give it credibility.

Whether or not this "new" tradition sticks ultimately it comes down to two things: Our success on the field and the willingness of subsequent coaches to keep it in place.

If we win, it's cool. Winning teams get away with doing whatever the hell they want, no matter how cheesy. Remember when FSU was kicking ass and taking names? The notion of a white dude painted in red face riding onto the field with a flaming spear seemed badass...WAY cooler than it should, in all honesty. But they won games, and the dude fired you up (no pun intended) before kickoff. Maybe if the Pack can start posting 9-11 win seasons on a regular basis, rubbing a giant wolf will gain some clout.

The second key to this tradition's longevity will be when Tom' time here is done, the next coach in line needs to stick with it, regardless of how he feels about it. Because here's the bottom line about traditions: there's no such thing as "new" traditions. They have to earn the label over time. We have to ride this thing out over its initial cheesiness phase because if we don't, all we'll have as a tradition at Carter Finley is the constant stream of "new" traditions.

View the complete entry of "Proposed New Tradition #3,964: Howard's Wolf"