Monday, September 6, 2010

David vs Goliath, Twice

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I'll bet the Michigan Wolverines fans had sympathy for what happened to the Ole Miss Rebels Saturday in Oxford, Mississippi.

The Rebels lost to the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 49-48 in two overtimes in front of 55,768 stunned fans.

This contest featured the debut of Ole Miss prize transfer quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who came from Oregon. On this day, when it was all said and done, when a school takes an everything to gain and nothing to lose attitude, anything can happen. Ole Miss led 31-13 by the end of the third quarter, but the Gamecocks mounted their comeback to come out on top.

On Sept 12, 2009, Jacksonville State gave Florida State a scare in Tallahassee but the Seminoles prevailed to earn a 19-9 victory.

On Saturday, Kansas Jayhawks Head Coach Turner Gill made his debut against the North Dakota State Bison. The Bison won for the first time ever against a Big 12 opponent earning a 6-3 victory in front of 48,417 stunned fans in at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, KS.

Between the two venues, there were 104,185 stunned fans featuring two David vs Goliath contests.

When an FCS team defeats an FBS squad, especially from a BCS Conference, people take notice.

Even though the Wolverines 34-32 loss to Appalachian State on September 1, 2007 turned out to be the biggest upset in college football history and grabbed the most attention, players from all divisions of college football still go to the NFL Scouting Combines in Indianapolis, participate in the season ending All-Star Games, Skills Competitions as well as other pro related functions.

Former Delaware Fighting Blue Hens QB Joe Flacco was taken in the first round, 18th selection overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. Delaware has always been one of the top schools at the FCS level.

Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins selected former Michigan Wolverines starter Chad Henne in the second round of the 2008 draft, 57th overall.

Ironically, both players shared the same color scheme and winged helmets, yet they're on other ends of the spectrum as the Blue Hens are in FCS while the Wolverines are the all-time winningest program in the FBS.

But in the end, both schools and levels develop players.

How many people know that Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) and the late Walter Payton (Jackson State) came from smaller schools? Yet, the NFL people found them.

So the next time you see a major upset by an FCS institution over a FBS, these players are good.

They can run, catch, punt, kick, and throw. But the only time you ever hear about them is at the end of the season when the NCAA does have a football playoff system to decide their national championship, or when they play these non-conference games against heralded opponents. That's the only time their games are televised or shown on national highlight shows.

What people fail to realize about Appalachian State is the Mountaineers are one of the best teams in FCS. Prior to the game, this contest made me nervous because I knew how good they were because they have a great history of winning national championships at their level.

Before Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel took the Buckeyes job, he built a powerhouse at Youngstown State. Tressel won four Division I-AA Championships for this Ohio based school.

If these FCS schools were to have rematches against their FBS opponents, who would come out on top? I'd say the FBS schools win the second time.

But these David vs Goliath match-ups are what makes the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament a lot of fun to watch so we can predict these upsets.

Yet when they happen in football, they catch us off guard and they're a bigger deal.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Michigan play Appalachian State again down the road. I'm sure the Wolverines would win by a large margin.

The bottom line is there is exciting football on all levels and these FBS schools are learning to not take these smaller universities lightly.

One other thing worth mentioning is college football doesn't have preseason games to work out the kinks, unless you know that you're scheduling as College Basketball Analyst Dick Vitale would say there is a "Cupcake" looking for a huge payday and doesn't mind getting blown out to build their athletic department.

However, that's besides the point.

I won't ever take an FCS team lightly and neither will Michigan, Mississippi and Kansas.

If you listen to those endings of these smaller schools radio broadcasts, you could hear these announcers scream from from Key West, Florida to Iceland. These broadcasts will be archived until the end of time for generations to hear and ESPN Classic won't hesitate to re-air them.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

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