Thursday, October 29, 2009

Small Potatoes, Large Memories

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

As I watched ESPN's Presentation "Small Potatoes" which featured the demise of the USFL, this program brought back some great memories.

It's hard to believe that the league played only three seasons from 1983-85 and lost $163 million, yet it was a formidable competitor to the NFL during this time period. Today's players definitely know that without the USFL, their salaries wouldn't be as high as they are now.

When I spoke to my close friend Gus Pantelides the day after "Small Potatoes" aired, we reminisced about the 1984 USFL Championship Game we covered at Tampa Stadium for the now defunct Hallandale Digest. That weekend, I stayed with Gus at his beach house on Clearwater Beach.

His brother Mike Pantel, another close friend, also attended this contest featuring the Philadelphia Stars against the Arizona Wranglers. The Stars defeated the Wranglers 23-3.

Gus was my photographer for the game and we strategized how we were going to cover the contest. One thing we didn't prepare for was that Gus would be bombarded with autograph requests from fans as a result of him winning a Tom Selleck lookalike contest at the Clearwater Mall. My photographer was forced to do double duty and he managed quite well.

I'll never forget the events leading up to the game as I worked at the downtown Tampa Sheraton Hotel seeking story-lines.

I had the opportunity to talk to late Tampa Bay Bandits Owner John Bassett and his right-hand man Miami based attorney the late Steve Arky. I also met with Donald Trump and we talked about the second year league's progress.

What made the USFL special was the players, coaches and executives, who went on to great careers in the NFL.

Former Kansas City Chiefs President/General Manager Carl Peterson was the mastermind behind two championships for the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars.

Hall of Fame Coaches Marv Levy and George Allen roamed the sidelines while the league was a stepping stone for Jim Mora Sr. who would eventually pilot the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts.

Other coaches who roamed the sidelines included Red Miller, Darrell "Mouse" Davis, the Run N Shoot guru, Jack Pardee, Steve Spurrier, Frank Kush, Lee Corso and John Ralston.

Current Florida Atlantic University Coach Howard Schnellenberger was lured from the Miami Hurricanes in 1984, to coach the Washington Federals, who would be relocated to Miami, but that situation never materialized.

There would be 179 former USFL players who also played in the NFL.

Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young and Jim Kelly highlight a list which includes, Greg Landry, Chuck Fusina, Brian Sipe, Vince Evans, Bobby Hebert, Doug Flutie and Doug Williams.

The USFL snapped up some good running backs. Heisman Trophy Winners Herschel Walker and Mike Rozier head a list which includes Kelvin Bryant, Joe Cribbs, Craig James, Gary Anderson, Tim Spencer and Marcus Dupree.

Former Detroit Lions running back Billy Sims nearly played in the USFL. He signed two contracts, one with the Lions and Gamblers which were owned by his former agent Jerry Argovitz but would end up staying in Detroit after a major legal mess to determine which deal was valid.

There were some good wide receivers. Anthony Carter, who starred for the Michigan Wolverines, won a title with the Michigan Panthers in 1983. Jim Smith, Eric Truvillion, Trumaine Johnson, and Raymond Chester were excellent performers.

On defense, John Corker, Sam Mills, Reggie White and John Banaszak. The USFL produced two future World Champion professional wrestlers: Lex Luger and Ron Simmons.

As of 2008, the USFL alumni in the Pro Football Hall of Fame includes: Levy, Allen, Kelly, Young, White and Gary Zimmerman. The three MVP Awards belong to Bryant (1983), Kelly (1984) and Walker during the USFL's final season in 1985.

What made the USFL so unique was the use of the territorial draft where teams could select stars from their own region. The Michigan Panthers selected Carter from Michigan using this rule to win the 1983 title.

If only the Detroit Lions could ever take advantage of the Wolverines as their one time Pontiac Silverdome neighbors did.

Truvillion did play for the Detroit Lions as a replacement player in 1987 as their starting receiver and retired from pro football when the NFL strike ended.

There was the use of instant replay and the two point conversion which the NFL has now decided to utilize.

Why did this league crumble? In my opinion, Trump was the major reason the USFL failed.

Competing with the NFL in the fall was a tragic strategy which caused stadium conflicts and teams were forced to move to different markets without NFL teams.

Over expansion was also part of the demise and getting into a bidding war with the NFL for star players caused USFL owners to go broke by promising large contracts to players with personal services clauses attached.

Trump over spent to get players with large contracts but never did win a championship.

What Trump was too ignorant to realize is the USFL had earned it's place as a spring league as the public was getting used to the idea of spring football. Even though the TV ratings were declining, the league needed more time to determine which markets would work.

I'm not going into detail about the USFL's lawsuit with the NFL that earned the USFL a check for $3.76 because even though there was indeed a monopoly by the NFL. But to think the USFL would succeed during the fall was absurd! Just ask the defunct World Football League.

As I look at my leather work bag from the 1984 USFL Championship Game in Tampa in my office, plus the fact that I won an award with Broward Community College For the Best Sports Reporter in the State of Florida for writing on the USFL, the USFL meant a lot to me early in my Journalism career.

It seems like a pipe dream now with our troubled economy that there is no spring football league at the moment. As more and more college football programs appear at all levels, there are enough players to stock two football leagues. Should there be another major football league, a salary cap is vital. Patience and controlled growth should factor into the equation.

If another league does get created, just say "No To Donald Trump." Since Trump wrecked the USFL, it appears as though his name has been black balled by the other major sports leagues.

What made the "Small Potatoes" documentary great was watching Trump look like an idiot when he was asked about his role in the failure of the USFL. He was short and defensive towards the reporter. He costs a lot of players, coaches, executives plus other front office people opportunities and fans quality entertainment.

But the legacy that the league has in American Sports History lives on. It also had legendary broadcasters like Keith Jackson and Jim Simpson doing the national broadcasts for television partners ABC and ESPN.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

FAU Coach Howard Schnellenberger

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When I spoke to FAU Football Coach Howard Schnellenberger, before the 2009 season, the 75-yard old boss of the Owls had better mobility than this 46-year old reporter. I could see the concern in his face as I struggled to get up and down from his chair in his office just seven weeks removed from my major back surgery on June 24th.

Nevertheless, as we always do, there was plenty of time to talk about our days when we first worked together while he was coach of the Miami Hurricanes in 1983.

That was the driving force behind my desire when former Deerfield Beach Observer Editor Ric Green and I had a vision to help promote Schnellenberger's latest venture.

Now in my third year of covering the Owls, this program has come along way. It has won two straight bowl games.

FAU defeated Memphis 44-27 to win the 2007 New Orleans Bowl then followed it up with a 24-21 triumph over Central Michigan in the 2008 Motor City Bowl.

While Schnellenberger is one of the most colorful people I've ever spoken to and worked with, I did put him on the spot about his challenges comparing the two programs.

In this interview, we addressed a lot of different areas.

Q: Do you ever have any of your former players come down and give pep talks to your teams?

A: The only quarterback that I've ever had come to a game and help the team was Joe Namath. In the Orange Bowl Game against Penn State, I asked him to come down and be my honorary coach in charge of upsets. He got his big upset in the Orange Bowl in Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts. He came down and talked to my team in his own way the night before. Then on game day, he had a pre-game meal with us, came on the bus, and stood on the sidelines by which time I introduced him to the team as my hoary coach of upsets. And low and behold, we got an upset.

Q: Am I sensing a superstitious Howard Schnellenberger?

A: Oh sure I'm superstitious. All old coaches are.

Q: How would you compare the magnitude of the challenges with Miami and FAU?

A: They're so different because I went into a program that was on the verge of extinction but they had a long life's experience. I believe they started back in 1927 and played football consecutively until I got there in 1979. They had some success but had fallen on hard times and I came in as a gunslinger coach that had some cleaning up to do. I gathered a group of players around me and we had great success. Here at Florida Atlantic, there was nothing here. We had no history and I came in as the Father Of The Program. I brought players in just like a father has a son. We brought in our own players and we trained our own players. We had a lot of money to raise and the other things. If we would ever become anywhere close to being as successful here as we did at the success at Miami, it would be a sweeter victory.

Q: Which has been more fulfilling, FAU or Miami?

A: There is nothing more fulfilling than winning a national championship within five years. This one will be more fulfilling in a different way. This is Natural Child Birth and the Miami thing was Adopted Children if you will. These children are my Natural Children and when you watch your sons grow and get better, it's a lot more prideful than when you watch your stepchildren do the same thing.

Q: So you're telling me that you won't tilt one way or the other?

A: Yes, that's pretty close to it. If I would lead this one to a national championship then it would be twice as satisfying. But I can't live that long.

Q: When you were at Louisville, what was your recruiting strategy?

A: We made a commitment to come back to Florida to get the majority of our players just like we did at Miami and here at Florida Atlantic. I've also got to be considered the Guru of recruiting in the State of Florida.

Q: If I placed a tag on you as the “George Washington” of Florida Atlantic University since you're the Father of this Football Program, would that be accurate?

A: Nobody has ever called me that before but I'll accept that.

Q: Was the undertaking at FAU more difficult than you anticipated?

A: I didn't know what to anticipate because I've never done it before and didn't know anybody that had done it. But it was so different it took me awhile to find out how to get it done. When I came up with the concept of gathering 100 founders to give birth to this program with me, I was able to raise $13 million and that was certainly a very important thing for us to get off to a fast start, build this building (Tom Oxley Center) that we're sitting in right now, buy the uniforms, get the state to get us a license to have a football team and then to bring in the assistant coaches to help bring in the players, scheduled the games and do those things you do when you build a football program from scratch. I didn't know what I was getting into but we were able to get it done through trial and error. We brought in a lot of good coaches and players to get it started.

Q: What's the most gratifying moment of your tenure at FAU?

A: There are really two of them. To take a brand new team and in three years have them in the playoff of I-AA. There is 130 teams in this division and to be one of 16 selected to go to the playoffs, plus we were not in a conference so there was no automatic bid, we were an at large team, we won two games in the playoffs and reached the semifinals enabling us to get ranked fourth in the nation, that obviously was a very big thing. It may have even been bigger then us winning the (Sun Belt Conference Championship versus Troy) in our third year and winning the New Orleans Bowl allowing us to come out with that ring. These two were the most satisfying.

Q: Lets talk about the Motor City Bowl. Wouldn't you say that was more gratifying than the New Orleans Bowl since Central Michigan was a better team than Memphis and it technically was a home game for them?

A: You would think this one is better because you're from there. You're probably right but both teams have been playing football for over 100 years. Both had high powered offenses. I would rank the Motor City Bowl three but with both of these bowl games, we were the only game on that night so the exposure was priceless.

Q: You must be elated knowing that your on campus stadium will be a reality in September of 2011?

A: Thank goodness the date has arrived. We're glad that the Board of Trustees has allowed us to go to the bond house and get the money. This is going to be the platform that our football program is going to rise to great heights. A 40,000 seat stadium is the right size and it's going to allow us to recruit much better players, plus allow us to attract much better football teams to come down and play. I think it's going to put us in a position to get into a BCS Conference.

Q: You've been at Miami, Louisville and FAU. It seems like you've had good luck getting stadiums built?

A: This is the rubber match. We were unable to get a stadium in Miami, did in Louisville so it's one and one right now. When we get one done here, I'm on the plus side. This is a record because no other team has ever been able to build a stadium of that magnitude in 10 years. We're designing our stadium for 40,000 but starting with 30,000 so we can make sure we can sell it out. The following year we're hoping to add the 10,000 in 2012 or within a year or so.

Q: How much has Howard Schnellenberger changed since we met in 1983?

A: The hair has gotten grayer, I've gotten smarter and my wife (Beverlee) has gotten prettier.

Q: Could you ever see yourself coaching into your 80's like Penn State's Joe Paterno or Florida State's Bobby Bowden?

A: They're both my heroes and I think when Bobby leaves the scene I would have five more years to go and when Joe leaves the scene, I'll have eight years ago. Joe's 81 and Bobby is 79 that would give me four more years. Joe's either 81 or 82, that would give me six more years.

Q: Even though you won't come close to their win totals, do you feel that building three programs is a bigger accomplishment for you legacy wise?

A: It's all in the mind of the beholder. Some people think being a caretaker of a program and winning all of those games is the definition of greatness. Some people think how much you've elevated programs and how much you've elevated football in an area makes a difference. I just try to do what my high school coach did and the four coaches I worked for, they were all builders. I had no caretakers in this group.

Q: John Wooden had his Pyramid of Success, what is Howard Schnellenberger's?

A: Pass the torch. Take what everybody taught you, what was important to you, and pass that information to your coaches and players. I accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

These are all lessons that everyone in life can learn from. Hearing it from an individual who has had such mentors as Paul “Bear” Bryant, George Allen, Don Shula as well as others just validates why Schnellenberger has been successful in many of his challenges.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

No Tylenol Needed

By SCOTT MORGANROTH

As tough as it was to watch the Detroit Tigers become the first team in baseball history to blow a three game division lead with four games remaining, seeing the Minnesota Twins get swept by the New York Yankees 3-0 in the American League Divisional Series eased the pain.
Considering the fact that I live in South Florida, otherwise known as "Manhattan East" meant that if the Yankees would have defeated the Tigers, I would have had the New Yorkers bragging in my ear that they defeated my hometown team.
When the Tigers dropped the opener of the 2006 ALDS, all I heard was "your team was over matched."
But when the Tigers ousted the Yankees 3-1, it was great to see these folks in distraught.
There is no doubt that the Twins were over matched in their series with the Yankees. It's one thing that they were tired after defeating the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings in the AL Central Playoff Showdown, only to find themselves on an airplane heading to the "Big Apple" where they would lose 7-2 in the opener 18 hours later.
These franchises are like night and day. The Yankees payroll exceeds $200 million while Minnesota's is under $70 million. Minnesota played without one of its best players in Justin Morneau.
Best of all, I didn't have to listen to the New Yorkers in 2009, who in actuality, would have watched their team steamroll past the Tigers.
Yet, I find myself rooting for the Yankees to win the World Series.
Skipper Joe Girardi, who was the National League Manager of the Year in 2006, when he guided the Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record and kept them in Wild Card contention, only to be fired by Owner Jeffrey Loria, has done a nice job since joining the Yankees in 2008.
In 2008, during the final year of Yankee Stadium, Girardi posted an 89-73 third place finish which his squad fell short to a hot Tampa Bay Rays squad.
The opening of New Yankee Stadium was celebrated with a first place finish and 103-59 record.
The Bronx Bombers saw Captain Derek Jeter become the franchises all-time hits leader with 2,747 but more importantly, they currently lead the LA Angels 2-0 in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees have won five straight contests.
The 2009 Yankees appear to be a team of destiny. They spent their free agent money wisely by bolstering their pitching staff adding C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to accompany clutch post-season performer Andy Pettitte.
Young studs Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain have stabilized the middle of their bullpen while future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera continues to close games masterfully.
During spring training, Alex Rodriguez was making headlines for all the wrong reasons with his use of steroids. Now he's finally performing well in the playoffs with a .368 average, three homers and eight RBI in five games.
The Yankees paid big money for free agent Mark Teixeira and he delivered during the regular season with a .292 average, 39 homers and 122 RBI to give Rodriguez protection in the middle of the lineup.
When a team has character players to complement its stars, that's usually the ticket to championships. Guys like Hideki Matsui, Nick Swisher, Johnny Damon, Jerry Hairston Jr. to name a few have made their contributions to provide character in the clubhouse.
During New York's glory years in the late 1990's, the Yankees had Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Chuck Knoblauch, Chad Curtis, Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson, to complement Jorge Posada, Jeter, Roger Clemens, Bernie Williams, Pettitte, David Cone and Orlando Hernandez. Girardi was a catcher on this squad managed by Joe Torre.
These players proved to be the capable role performers that blended well with the highly paid stars.
This year, Rodriguez, Teixeira, Sabathia, Burnett, Matsui and others have an excellent chance to win their first championship rings. They'll be able to do it with the opening of a new stadium.
Should the Yankees win the World Series, they will have won 40 American League Pennants and 27 World Series titles.
Including the playoffs, the Yankees won 10 straight games against the Twins. A World Series victory would be 47 playoff series wins for this storied franchise.
I think they'll defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 and home runs will fly out faster than fireworks on July 4th, at Citizens Bank Ballpark and Yankee Stadium, both being hitter friendly venues.
Best of all, I saved money by not going to the drug stores to invest into Tylenol having these New Yorkers saying, "What happened to your Detroit Tigers?" Thanks Twins for saving me the aggravation.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Phillies Missing Voice

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Should the Philadelphia Phillies repeat as World Series Champions, there will be one legendary voice missing.

On April 13, 2009, legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas (73) died of heart disease in the press box before the Phillies were set to face the Washington Nationals in the nations capital. He collapsed at approximately 12:30 and was pronounced dead at 1:20 EDT at George Washington University Hospital.

That night, the Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals 9-8 without their golden voice, who was entering his 39th season with the team. The 2009 season was dedicated to the Hall of Fame announcer. The Phillies wore a patch on their jerseys and his presence was felt all over Citizens Bank Ballpark. The Phillies TV Broadcast Booth was renamed "The Harry Kalas Broadcast Booth."

Replicas of his autograph ("Harry Kalas HOF 2002) were painted on the field at Citizens Bank Ballpark in foul territory along the baselines near the coaches' boxes just beyond the first and third base for their first home series after Kalas's death. The wording of "HOF 2002" refers to his winning the Ford C Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.

There is also a billboard featuring a microphone and the words "HK 1936–2009" is displayed on the outfield wall.

It is sad to see these broadcast icons slowly passing away especially with the recent announcement that Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame Announcer Ernie Harwell, 91, now has Cancer and is likely to be the next tribute to be written.

But in this year's playoffs, there is a strong possibility that the 2009 World Series could showcase the emotional seasons of the LA Angels and Philadelphia Phillies. The Angels lost 22-year old Pitcher Nick Adenhart to a tragic fatal drunk driving auto accident.

Who does one root for? I can't answer that because it's very subjective.

But when an icon dies at 73 and a young player passes on at 22, the 51-year age differential does reinforce that life is too short and we better enjoy it while we can because we're just here for a visit.

One thing is for certain, if this series transpires, one tribute will be completely fulfilled and Adenhart and Kalas in their own ways will be never forgotten by their teammates and fans.

They'll be part of the great storied history of baseball.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

LA Angels Emotional Ride

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When the LA Angels begin their ALCS battle with the New York Yankees Friday night, they'll be playing with an emotional theme that Southern Californians are quite familiar with.

In 1989, the Loyal Marymount University Lions faced the tragic loss of 23-year old Hank Gathers on Sunday March 4, 1990 due to a heart attack. It was a death that stunned the sporting world as the Lions had to prepare for the NCAA Tournament without their young star.

They used this tragedy, and their emotional ride led them to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. During the tournament, the Lions roared past the defending National Champions, the Michigan Wolverines 149-115.

Nineteen years later, the Angels carry the same heavy hearts the Lions faced when Gathers passed away as Pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in an auto accident due to a drunk driver at the age of 22 just hours after being the starting pitcher against the Oakland A's on April 9th.

All-year long, the Angels have paid tribute to Adenhart as they had a full photo of him on the outfield wall in their stadium. The Angels posed for a team photo in front of the wall, hung his uniform in the dugout and kept it in his locker. When the LA Angels clinched the American League West Division title on Monday Sept 28 with an 11-0 rout over the Texas Rangers, they soaked Adenhart's jersey with beer, champagne and tears holding his No. 34 high in the middle of the celebration he missed.

For those individuals who objected to the alcohol on his jersey because of the drunk driving tragedy, take a chill pill. Teams have always celebrated this way so there is no reason to get too sensitive about this issue. His spirit was an inspiration to his team all year and will be for this franchise for many years to come.

The amazing part about the Adenhart and Gathers tragedies is both teams had success in the postseason. The Angels swept the Boston Red Sox 3-0 in the American League Division Series and Adenhart's jersey was soaked again. Whether they defeat the NY Yankees in this years playoffs remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain, they''ll be the sentimental favorites to win the World Series.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

Saturday, October 10, 2009

College Football Week 5

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

As we draw closer to the BCS Computer Rankings coming out, there were certain teams which bolstered their chances to get a premium bowl bid. This week, it's time to examine the ones that are getting closer to mega paydays.

1. There is no better place to start off than the Miami Hurricanes. On September 8, 2007, the Oklahoma Sooners handed the Hurricanes a 51-13 loss in Norman. Miami finished the year 5-7. But things changed this time as Miami sophomore Jacory Harris passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 17 Miami (3-1) to a 21-20 triumph while senior running back Javarris James amassed 150 yards rushing. Despite playing without Heisman Trophy quarterback Sam Bradford, this game was close in a couple major offensive categories. Miami out gained No. 8 Oklahoma (2-2) 342-341 in total yards and in time of possession, 30:43-29:17. Bradford's replacement Landry Jones did throw for 188 yards and a touchdown. Even though Jones was named after former Dallas Cowboys legend Tom Landry, his name defines his position. Former Detroit Lions quarterback Greg Landry and former Baltimore Colts signal caller Bert Jones had good careers in the professional ranks.

2. Which team needed to win it's in state rivalry worse, No. 22 Michigan or Michigan State? Depending on who you talk to, you'll get different answers. For a young Michigan (4-1, 1-1) team to win in East Lansing, this would be a huge triumph as the Wolverines aim to get back into the national spotlight. For Michigan State (2-3 1-1) , a win over the Wolverines could save the season. Michigan State jumped out to a 20-6 lead but the Wolverines rallied to tie the the game 20-20 before the Spartans emerged in overtime thanks to a 23-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Larry Caper. The Spartans defense held Michigan's offense to 251 yards and limited Michigan's running attack to 28 yards. Michigan freshman quarterback Tate Forcier threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns. This was the first time Michigan State has defeated Michigan in successive seasons in 42 years. Michigan still leads the all-time series 67-30-5.

3. The http://www.scottsports33.com/ jinx bit the No. 12 Houston Cougars. As we gave them some publicity and respect, Houston was hammered by the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) 58-41 at the Sun Bowl. These two teams were tied 17-17 at halftime before the Miners pulled away in the second half. Miners junior running back Donald Buckram rushed for a career high 262 yards and four touchdowns to overshadow the performance of Houston junior quarterback Case Keenum, who had a career night by completing 51 of 76 passes for 536 yards and five touchdowns. Houston (3-1) out gained UTEP (2-3) 664-581, but lost two fumbles and had to settle for two field goals. Keenum's 76 passing attempts were seven shy of the FBS record set by former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees, who is now putting up record numbers with the New Orleans Saints.

4. On paper, the No. 13 Iowa Hawkeyes versus the Sun Belt Conference Arkansas State Red Wolves looked like a mismatch. When the game it was over, Arkansas State earned respect while Iowa was thankful it came away with a 24-21 win, has the nation's second longest winning streak at nine games and left the game with a 5-0 record thanks to junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi's 296 yards and three touchdowns performance. This was the first time Iowa has started 5-0 under coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have a huge challenge at home against the upstart Michigan Wolverines in a prime time affair in week six. Arkansas State (1-3) outscored Iowa 14-3 in the fourth quarter. The Red Wolves fell to 0-9 against Top 25 teams.

5. Very few college football followers would classify this game as a major in-state rivalry because these schools play in totally different divisions. The South Carolina State Bulldogs most notable NFL player is former Detroit Lion Robert Porcher, but he couldn't help his Alma mater defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks this week. South Carolina (4-1) rolled to a 38-14 victory in Columbia as sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another against his Football Championship Subdivision opponent. South Carolina State (3-1) fell to 0-5 against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

6. There is no better way for a new quarterback to start his career than by winning on the road in two successive weeks. That's what the University of South Florida Bulls (5-0) freshman signal caller B.J. Daniels did as he led USF to a 34-20 win over Syracuse (2-3) in the Carrier Dome. Daniels threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns. In week four, USF defeated Florida State 17-7. But in this contest, Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus, a former Duke point guard, found out that if you turn the ball over too many times in football or it will cost you. He threw five interceptions and was sacked three times. Paulus equaled the school mark for interceptions set by Todd Norley in a 28-7 loss at Penn State in 1982. Anyone who thought USF would let down and lose after a monumental win against the Seminoles was proven wrong.

7. Two years after Coach Dennis Erickson departed for Arizona State after a 4-8 record with The Idaho Vandals (U-I) in 2006, it looks like things are going well for U-I. The Vandals, who play in the Western Athletic Conference have rebounded to a 4-1 record with their latest win against the Colorado State Rams (3-2). Erickson did serve as Idaho's head coach from 1982-85 where he posted a 32-15 record when the Vandals were playing in the Big Sky Conference. He returned for the one season at Idaho then bolted for the warm dry climate of Tempe, AZ.

8. Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin's ride to Rocky Top has hit a bumpy road in the Southeastern Conference. The Volunteers are now 0-2 in the SEC with their latest defeat coming at the hands to the Auburn Tigers 26-22 in Knoxville in front of 102, 941 fans at Neyland Stadium. Tigers senior quarterback Chris Todd threw for 218 yards and a touchdown, and senior running back Ben Tate rushed for 128 yards and a score to give Auburn its first 5-0 start since 2006. The Tigers have now defeated Tennessee for the fifth consecutive time. The Volunteers are now 2-3 overall.

9. Former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Ryan Mallett is alive and well in Arkansas. The sophomore transfer threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Razorbacks (2-2) to a 47-19 win over the Texas A&M Aggies (3-1) in a battle of former Southwestern Conference rivals at Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington. A crowd of 71,872 fans attended this "Southwest Classic" the beginning of a 10-year series in hopes of cashing in on recruiting and alumni riches in the Dallas area. Thus far in 2009, Mallett has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 1,148 yards. He has a passer rating of 159.13 for Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Alma-mater.

10. This week's blog started out with one of Howard Schnellenberger's transformation projects the University of Miami Hurricanes and will end with another one. Former Miami Dolphins Coach Dave Wannstedt's Pittsburgh Panthers (4-1) clobbered the Louisville Cardinals 35-10 in the house the Howard built Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in front of 39,948. Louisville (1-3) took an early 10-7 lead at halftime but the Panthers scored 28 unanswered points thanks to the passing of senior quarterback Bill Stull, who threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com

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