My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Sunday, May 21, 2006

New Yardstick Up

While the majority are concerned about NEC scholarships and think it is time to get them in the Patriot League, it is a fairly wide distribution of opinion on the recent poll. Here's the final breakdown out of 67 votes:
39% are very concerned
16% are somewhat concerned
27% are not really concerned
10% are not concerned at all
We'll get to see how it plays out over the years I guess. Monmouth this year and Albany in 2007 will give us a glimpse of what kind of talent the NEC can attract with scholarships.
The new poll is related to my most recent AGS post. I'm fairly high on Colgate this year in terms of Patriot League play and think they deserve some top 25 consideration. What's the rest of the 13 Yard Line readership think? Time to vote!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Yes, It's Time: 2006 Preseason AGS Top 25

Hard to believe that it is here already, but it is. This weekend marks the preseason voting for Any Given Saturday's Top 25 I-AA poll, of which yours truly is a charter voting member of. Here's what I've cooked up for this fall's first crystal ball:

1. New Hampshire

Ball and Santos are back. This team is extremely good and could have won it all last year. They're about as good as it gets in I-AA.

2. Montana

Besides being a I-AA program of unrivaled consistency, they bring back a ton, including Lex Hillard. With a potential great record and favourable seeding, the Griz could walk deep into the playoffs this year.

3. Appalachian St

The defending champs lost Richie Williams, but not much else. There is a school of thought that places the last year's champ as the preseason #1, but I didn't go to it. Players graduate, and repeating as champs is next to impossible.

4. Northern Iowa

The runners up are equally stacked in their desire to return to Chatty. The Gateway will perhaps be the strongest conference this year, so it won't be easy. They've got a serious homefield advantage to help them out. Especially with #5 breathing down their neck!

5. Youngstown St

They may have peaked early last year but they may also be far from peaking! I imagine there has been some serious motivation this off season after being left out of the playoffs.

6. Hofstra

My 'sleeper' for 2006. Every year the A-10 spits out some unsuspecting team to make a serious run for the title. Richmond last year, JMU two years before that. A new coach takes over, but there's a lot of talent there and a favourable schedule that avoids some of the traditionally tougher A-10 South teams.

7. James Madison

A couple of bounces here and there and JMU was in the playoffs instead of out. I think the bounces go their way this year.

8. Furman

The Paladins have to replace an NFL quality quarterback, but historically they are a top I-AA team and this year should be no different.

9. Cal Poly

Boy can they play some football out west! The Mustangs have been proving it on the field and I think they only get better from here on out.

10. North Dakota St

Right on their tails are those big farm boys from North Dakota. If only they were playoff eligible.... Big game against Georgia Southern in Georgia.

11. Northwestern St

The first of three Southland teams practically right on top of one another, Northwestern State dissappointed me last year as I thought they could win the whole thing. They are still very talented and the Southland is up for grabs... so why not? But I could easily interchange any of the three here.

12. Nicholls St

Strong 2005 playoff performance from a solid program. All of these Southland teams will benefit from a hurricane free start to their programs. Fingers crossed guys!

13. Massachusetts

Colgate's home opener will not be easy in the slightest. A solid program that stumbled near the end of last season, they should start out strong again.

14. McNeese St

The Pokes took some lumps the last two seasons, but they won't stay down for long. I think they make some noise again this year.

15. Eastern Illinois

This might be a tad high for a team from the Ohio Valley Conference, but they were a pretty good team last year and I think they will be again this year.

16. Hampton

I'm not letting the playoff performance overshadow the amazing season the Pirates had last year. It may be a bit harder for them to move up as far as they did for me last year, but they are still a program worthy of respect.

17. Idaho St

Starting to get into the tea leaves with this one, but I think Idaho State takes the baton from Eastern Washington as the Big Sky's 'other' team. We'll see.

18. Delaware

Do you really think they'll be down for long? Omar Cuff will lead the Hens to quite a few victories this season.

19. UC Davis

Another team from the solid Great West that with a few more bounces could have been sitting very pretty at the end of the year. Upsetting Stanford will not be forgotten by many this preseason.

20. Colgate

Ah, the home of my beloved Raiders. I think Colgate's got the inside track to win it this year (by a hair mind you) and this is about right for a Patriot League team to be this year. First weekend will make or break our ranking for at least two months.

21. Illinois St

That Gateway showing up again. This team finished 2005 strong and returns enough to think they'll pick up where they left off.

22. Coastal Carolina

Amazing to think how far this four year old program has come. I'm looking for them to continue to make statements like beating JMU last year and knocking off a pretty big fish down in Georgia.

23. Lafayette

The Pards aren't a big step behind Colgate this year, if they are behind at all. I rank them lower than us because they lost most of their defense and it was their defense that kept them in most of the games. I just don't see the offense there to hang with Colgate or Lehigh, so it will be up to some defensive replacements to carry the Pards to victory once more.

24. Portland St

Another Big Sky tea leaf. They've got an offense that can put up some numbers. We'll see if this was a wasted vote or not.

25. Jacksonville St

Another OVC team. I must be smoking something lately! I think JSU is going to be good this year. That's all I'm going to say.

We also got to vote on two questions:

The Biggest Rising Team of 2006: Hofstra. Again, they're my sleeper.

The Biggest Falling Team of 2006: Georgia Southern. Don't get me wrong. I don't think the Eagles are going to stink. In fact, 7-4 is at least likely. I just think given the history of dominance and playoff appearances there will be some adjustment from the option that maybe some fans aren't considering a possibility. We'll see. I think they start out the season 1-1 with a lose to Coastal or, gasp, Central Connecticut State! Some underestimating of opponents will need to take place in order for that to occur, but we Raiders know all about that.

Whew. In 3 1/2 months we'll be talking about kick offs!

Look for my Patriot League preview in the coming weeks. I'll be reviewing and ranking teams once more, starting with a #7 team located in Pennslyvania... Until then, root for Andy McDonald and the Mighty Ducks!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Branch Finally Makes a Splash

Finally, someone gives Jamaal the ball and he doesn't disappoint! For his 124 yards on 26 carries (4.8 yards per carry), one touchdown and two catches for 23 yards, Branch was named the NFL Europe Offensive Player of the Week. Outstanding!

Keep giving him the ball coach. He will not let you down. Actually, with only 26 carries for the game, Jamaal probably had enough wind to play two!

Mark Murphy's Got His Hands Full

They say that boys will be boys... so how do you explain this?

Northwestern University suspended its women's soccer team Monday pending an investigation of alleged hazing involving players last year.

A Web site on Monday displayed pictures allegedly of Northwestern soccer players clad only in T-shirts and underwear -- some with blindfolds on and others with their hands tied behind their backs. Other women had words or pictures scrawled on their bodies and clothes, and it appeared some were drinking alcohol.

I've often thought that while fraternities and sororities get plenty of the spotlight for hazing, there are some pockets of athletic and club hazing that goes on with little consequence. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in light of the atmosphere in college athletics after Duke rape case and because these are women doing it.

Update: A link to the pictures in question.