kcleach's Blog

Myles Brand-ed the NCAA

Leader of college athletics loses battle with cancer at age 67.

College athletics lost one of its own on Wednesday. Dr. Myles Brand passed away at the age 67. As the president of the National Collegiate Athletics Association from 1993 until his death from pancreatic cancer, Brand was a leader looking to model leaders.

The NCAA scripted the release of his death notice, building a memorial to Brand, just the fourth CEO of the Association, via IBM WebSphere Portal. There is a lot to see and read about Brand's tenure.

What to remember: Brand fought for reform (academic). Brand removed a General (legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight).  Brand even blogged.

Brand epitomized his surname.  The NCAA controls it entities, running a sports association on par with the controlling hand of the National Football League: Their games, their rules.

Now there is no leader, and as with most NCAA decisions, no public discussion on the change. No head-coach-in-waiting has been named, no Raul Castro masking the death of Fidel.

A sitting president is looking into the practices of the NCAA, namely its football national championship. The Association is in need of a change, one from a leader looking to walk all those Myles.

Local sports bar provides comfort for Syracuse football loss

Chadwick's in the Eastwood section earns kudos.

 Halftime Snack found a local watering hole for the Penn State game, walking east to Chadwick’s Bar & Grill, located on James Street in the Edgewood section of Syracuse.   

Run down the hallmarks of a solid bar:  good bartender, TVs with different sports games to watch while commercials play, variety of seating options, Lottery machine, ATM, burgers, involved fans and sports poster/pictures/foam fingers on the fall.  Chadwick’s has it all covered.   
go to watch the NFL games on Sunday and get a 20 oz. draft of Killian’s for $3.  

If you’re looking for the game-result:  #7/5 Penn State defeated Syracuse, 28-7, Saturday afternoon in non-conference football action at Beaver Stadium.Official SU Athletics Release

LEGENDARY NEW YORK:  Brooklyn-native Joe Paterno coached the Nittany Lion football team for 27th time against the Syracuse Orange (97th time overall between the programs).  It was an emotion-filled day for the 82-year old.  He began by looking up at the sky and checking for rain at kick-off.  Then the referee called a phantom offensive pass interference penalty on Joe’s wide receiver.  Joe ran onto the field for an explanation.  Then Joe tried to slam the door on Syracuse, going for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line.  The exchange between center and quarterback was fumbled away.  Gosh darnit!

Joe’s first half was capped with an enlightening conversation with BigTen Network reporter Charissa Thompson right before halftime:

Thompson:  “Coach, how do you get better on third down?”
Joe:  “Play better on third down.”
Thompson:  “How can you get more consistency?
Joe:  “Play consistently.”

OFFENSIVE ORANGE:  Was there only one play run from the “Stallion” formation today?   Where are the reverses, a pass to the Ryan Nassim at wideout and another pass deep to Mike Williams, or a direct snap from shotgun (with a QB standing there)?  Running on PSU and linebacker Sean Lee is difficult, why not let them just tee-off?  I’m sure inexperience will be a common word this week.

MY OTHER BROTHER DARYLL:  Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark is the best player the Orange will see on a football field in 2009.  And he is eerily familiar to a SU legend.  Look for him to be quarterbacking the St. Louis Rams or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010.

DOUBLE NICKELS:  The Nittany Lions have multiple players wearing the same numbers.  Halftime Snack would like to see this practice die.  100 players on one team are enough.  Some of us memorize numbers on jerseys in order to accurately identify said player in a particular stat situation.

EVERYBODY PLAYS:  Two quarterbacks, two kickers, five wide receivers.  Intense signals and substitutions.  Coach Doug Marrone brought a basketball player to quarterback his team and now has adopted the substitution pattern of a hoops coach.  Confusion reigned at Beaver Stadium Saturday, and Coach Marrone won’t want to be wasting his timeouts if it's a game the team could win.


Football Friday - Penn State

Orange football team heads south for monster road game.

There is nothing the Orange can lose in Happy Valley. 

Halftime Snack is late this week -- poor planning and an active sports-social calendar on the South Side (SU field hockey and then Corcoran HS football) cut Friday Football at its knees.  But that does not mean Snack isn't thinking this morning:

I LIKE MIKE:  SU receiver Mike Williams puts the touchdown streak on the line against a young Nittany Lion defensive backfield.  Here's to hoping he gets a ball his way before the end of the first quarter, unlike the Minnesota game.  Halftime Snack falls deeper in love with Williams after seeing his blocking ability on the edge.

1959:   The best football team in Cuse history took on Minnesota in the second week, and the best part of the Terps team coming in?  You guessed it:  the kicking game.  Maryland "ace" kicker Vince Scott booted a trio of three-pointers two weeks prior against West Virginia.  The Terps came into the game limping (QB Richie Novak sprained his ankle badly in the previous game at Texas and would not play) and relied on the old "I" formation made famous by Notre Dame.  The Hillmen showed little confusion with the offensive set, holding Maryland to just 29 yards in a 29-0 drubbing.


SU Score:  Penn State 43, SU 23 -- Orange display more wrinkles in offensive playbook, including showcasing the strong arm of backup QB Ryan Nassim.  Watch the play of the PSU offensive line against the SU defensive front:  Art Jones has some young Nittany Lions in front of him and should have fun chasing Darryl Clark and his stable of running backs.

Game of the Week:  North Carolina at Connecticut -- this would be the game of the year if a basketball was involved, but what a job by both athletic departments to build up strong football programs (both teams are now flirting with national rankings week-in and week-out).  Look for the Tar Heels to win ths one, too many questions about UConn's offense remain.

Who Said That?:  "Sometimes I can't see [SU kicker Ryan Lichtenstein] if he's turned sideways."  -- Orange Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator Bob Casullo.

From O.K. to P.K.

Large scale game of soccer sometimes diminished to one-on-one of penalty kicks.

Gunslingers settled disputes with a quick-draw at high noon.  Soccer has its own nerve-testing version:  the penalty kick.

''I felt a great deal of fear.''  Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer great, said after scoring the decisive penalty kick to advance Argentina past Italy in the 1990 World Cup semifinals.

Hansen WoodruffThis “beautiful game “is played by a teams of 11, working together in an expansive space with goals on either end.  Team breakdown (on defense) or team precision (on offense) generally decides the outcome of a game.  

The PK (shorthand for Penalty Kick) settles inequality (illegal use of hands, a foul when the player has clear path to the goal) and establishes finality (soccer tournament games still tied after overtime sessions resort to a shoot-off to establish the winner).  The shooter places the ball 12 yards in front of the goal.  The goalkeeper stands on his line, the goal line, trying to formulate a plan:  guess, read, react, which one should I do? 

The vast war that is the game, settled by two individuals.

This past week the Syracuse men’s soccer team saw its fortunes hinge on the result of this soccer quick-draw: on Sept. 5, Orange senior midfielder Hansen Woodruff (left, Photo: Syracuse University Athletics) converted a penalty kick in the 60th minute of a 2-1 win over Cornell while two days later, Colgate returned the favor, topping SU on a penalty kick in the 94th minute.

Woodruff, converting his second career PK (the first came at Albany in 2007), moves fast, and picks his target late.

"Usually my approach is to go fast and try to see what the goalie does," Woodruff, sporting a shorter haircut and new number in 2009, said in The Daily Orange. "Wherever he moves, I try to kick it to the other side. I usually don't pick a side until the very last second."

Perhaps you remember France midfielder Zinedine Zidane striking a change up in the 2006 World Cup, using the fast-twitch movement of Portugal goalie to his benefit.

Halftime Snack was thrown into the same cauldron during a soccer match in Santos, Brazil during the summer of 2008.  Re-live our angst.

Hanson Woodruff (#10, abover) photo courtesy of SUathletics.com


Donovan McNabb shows up for Syracuse football's encouraging loss

The star of Syracuse football past visits the Carrier Dome for the first time since graduation.

Many years have passed since the sounds of possibility and admiration swirled amid the Syracuse football fans exiting the Carrier Dome.

More amazing, this Saturday these sounds were after a loss.  The pre-season hype generated by the of hiring new head coach Doug Marrone even prompted former quarterback Donovan McNabb to return to his alma mater for the first time since departing for the NFL in 1999.  Hear what Super Five had to say.

The University of Minnesota (1-0) stole a win Saturday afternoon when junior kicker Eric Ellestad converted a 35-yard field goal in the first overtime session, giving the visiting Gophers to a 23-20 victory in front of 48, 617 fans.

“I take my hat off [to the crowd],” Marrone said.  “But at the end of the day, we need to make plays.”

The one play, in particular, that needed to be made was a third-and-4 at the Minnesota five-yard line.  The new Syracuse signal-caller (dubbed The Duece by Halftime Snack) was flushed out of the pocket, and rolling towards the left sideline through a prayer into a sea of white Gopher jerseys littering the end zone.  Minnesota junior linebacker Nate Triplett came down with the interception, ending the lone Syracuse possession in the extra period.

“We weren’t going for conservative,” The Duece said afterwards.  Conservative in that situation would have led to a field goal attempt – strong move based on the first looks at Syracuse freshman kicker Ryan Lichtenstein (2-2 with field goals from 23 and 42 yards).

The atmosphere on the Hill was vibrant, even with the early kick-off (television wanted a noon start). Orange lacrosse players turned the volume up on Euclid Avenue, the trumpet section of the SU marching band tuned up beside Bowne Hall and the Quad was turned into an orange tent city.

Inside the Dome, the alma mater “Song of Syracuse” was sung with vigor, the student section sported “The Devil Wears Orange” shirts (I’ll let you figure that one out) and the Orange mascot was carried in like an Arabian prince.

The emotions bubbled over on the first possession of the game:  the Syracuse sideline suffered miscommunication, the offense got out on the field late and on the first play, junior center Jim McKenzie snapped the ball twenty feet in the air. 

“I’ve never seen anything like [the start of the game],” said Marrone.  “There were lots of issues on that first play and I take full responsibility [for that].”

The Gophers pounced on the loose ball, recovering on the Syracuse 16-yard line.  Minnesota took the gift and running back Duane Bennett scampered around the right side for the opening score. 

“Here we go, again,” thought the 4th-largest home opening crowd in Dome history.

The Orange refused to live in the past, exhibiting a bad short-term memory: kick returner Mike Jones bolted up the sideline for a 79-yard return on the ensuing kickoff and SU freshman Ryan Lichtenstein converted a 23-yard field goal with 1:40 left in the first quarter.  The Orange crowd was alive.

“We feed off that energy,” Syracuse defensive tackle Arthur Jones said. 

The Gophers’ second possession also started in SU territory and the visitors knocked on the doorstep after a 38-yard reception by All-Big Ten receiver Eric Decker.   The Orange defense held, batting down a third-down attempt in the end zone, but a false start by the Minnesota line blew the play dead.  The Gophers used the second life to tally its second touchdown of the afternoon—a 7-yard reception on a slant pattern by all-purpose threat Todd Stoudemire.

Coach Marrone hid his best offensive weapon, senior receiver Mike Williams, until late in the first quarter.  The Orange looked for Williams down the middle of the field on the third play of the drive, but a Minnesota triple-team thwarted the attempt.  SU came back with play action three plays later, and Williams was alone in the end zone after the Gopher defender fell down on the fake.  The reception extended Williams’ touchdown streak to 10 consecutive games—a Syracuse record. 

A strong running game amplified the new “Stallion” formation employed by the Orange offense. Tailback Delone Carter returned to the form of his freshman campaign, taking direct snaps and using cutback lanes to the tune of a game-high 90 yards on 23 carries.

Trailing 14-13 mid-way through the second quarter, the Orange sensed Minnesota was turning up pressure and executed a pair of screens, one to halfback Antwon Bailey and the other to Williams, driving deep into Gopher territory.  Carter peeled off a 16-yard scamper to the left side, just missing the end zone.  The Orange called the next play without a huddle and Carter leaped high over the pile for his first touchdown of the season.

The Orange marched into the locker room with the lead (20-14), the loud crowd and an off-balance Gopher squad across the way.

Syracuse (0-1) came out a different squad in the second half, failing to score the rest of the way.  The offense got a bad case of the drops and began committing drive-killing penalties.  Special teams saw its star, punter Rob Long, shank a kick off the side of his foot, basically handing the Gophers three points (Ellestad would convert a 26-yard try after one Minnesota long run and a Syracuse penalty). 

The Orange defensive unit played inspired football in the second half, getting a boost on third down from faithful while limiting the Gophers to just one productive drive.

“No one could hear down there,” Arthur Jones explained following the game.  “My ears are still hurting.”

For nearly 55 minutes the noise in the Dome and the can’t-lose attitude of the Orange defense kept the Minnesota offense in check (20 of the Gopher points came when their offense started on the Syracuse side of the field). 

Minnesota made an adjustment on its last drive, going no-huddle with a steady diet of quick slants and crossing routes to post a 14-play, 73-yard drive culminating in the tying field goal by Ellestad with 57 seconds remaining.

The Orange continues its three-game Big Ten mini-series on Saturday in Happy Valley.  Nothing happy will meet Syracuse, most of all being defending Big Ten champ Penn State.

When the Orange return to the Dome two weeks from now, Arthur Jones wants the same atmosphere to greet the team.

“Keep it going every weekend; don’t give up on us.”


PLAY OF GAME:  Syracuse special teams blocked a Gopher field goal attempt that would have tied the game at 8:54.  Credit for the tip was given to defensive tackle Anthony Perkins.  Perkins dropped his shoulder to create an angle, finding room to stick paw up in the air to deflect the ball.  Assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Bob Casullo has the players believing, mostly by example:  “Be professional, do your job.  Everyone has a job to do.”

BIG TEN OVERTIME:  The last time the Orange played and lost in overtime was also against a Big Ten opponent:  Syracuse fell 20-13 to Iowa in the Dome on Sept. 9, 2006.

BEST DRESSED:  The Orange players were dressed to the nines during the postgame, a direct reflection of the coaching staff.  Lichtenstein (hot pink) and Arthur Jones (bright orange) displayed color with well-fitted black suits—red carpet material for sure.

PLAYER OF GAME:  Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker 9 catches, 183 yards.  Decker is big, fast over overmatched one, and at times, two Orange defensive backs on Saturday.  Decker moved into third place all-time at Minnesota for receiving yards with 2,544—Ron Johnson (1998-2001) holds the record with 2,989 yards.

FORGET HALFTIME SNACK:  Orange failed to score in the second half, posting a 1-for-12 on third down for the game.  Some credit is due to Minnesota, dropping more defenders into throwing lanes once the Duece started to scramble.  

IT’S HOT IN HERE: The Dome is an oven, a fact not missed on first-timers in the press box.  “Y’all need some air conditioning in here,” said McNabb.  Luckily there are fans to circulate air and plenty of ice to cool the fountain soda down.  Kudos to Sue Edson and the SU Athletic Communications staff on a well-run press box—announcements, statistics and cake come quickly.  

Football Friday - Minnesota

Preview column about Syracuse football debuts with season-opener tidbits.

You can maul us, if we mention Greg…

This is a Syracuse QB-free sports blog. 

(Unless the SU player wore #5).  I won’t name drop classmates here, except Will Dugan.  All references to the player will be "the Duece."

I Like Mike

Mike WilliamsThere have been many Mike Williamses playing wide receiver.  I’ve ignored them all to this point, especially that USC version that got caught in draft-limbo.  The SU Mike Williams version is on a similar path as Halftime Snack:  return to school claim high level of achievement, seek employment at the pinnacle of chosen career.  We’re almost twins.  So Brother Mike, light up the turf!  Nine straight games with a touchdown catch?  I once ate 10 hot dogs at Veterans Stadium, in one game! 

Hail, Hail the Hillmen

The year 1959 is the one to remember, and to celebrate, the best Syracuse football team.  The Hillmen opened the season late (by today’s money-making standards), hosting the University of Kansas Jayhawks to Archibold Stadium on Sept. 26.  No domed roof, later start, colder weather, and the tough schedule — these Hillmen feared little.  SU won 35-21 that day, benefitting from Jayhawk fumbilitis in the backfield.  KU, a perennial challenger to mighty Oklahoma in the Big Eight Conference, looked for an advantage via field position, executing three “quick kicks” to the tune of a 69-yard average. 

Long Strange Trip

Thankfully, the 2009 SU squad has the same type of talent at punter:  senior captain Rob Long.  How great is that?  Backed up on fourth down, let’s kick it, Long!  He is tied for the longest punt in program history (73 yards vs. South Florida in 2007) and should have plenty of shots at breaking the mark, with seven home games with no weather factors and an inexperienced offense.


Predictions:  Texas wins BCS National Championship; Colt McKoy is Heisman Trophy winner, Dave Wannstedt and the Pitt Panthers win Big East; its all in the mustache

Orange Outlook: 5-7, 2-5 Big East: wins over Minnesota, Maine, Akron, Louisville, Rutgers

SU Game:  Syracuse 35, Minnesota 31;  Williams catches two TD in a game for first time in career

Game of the Week:  Virginia Tech tops Alabama in defensive contest. Special teams win another big game for Hokies

They Said What

A new radio feature show will kick off at 4:20 p.m. with a campus Top 10, “the real solid stuff,” said WAER program director Ted Koppel, The Daily Orange, Sept. 28, 1959.

Cash Advance

A two-bedroom apartment close to the SU campus in 1959 could be had for $15 a week ($60 a month).  I have a textbook that costs more than that.

Need money for school? Saratoga a good bet

SU grad student searches for alternate resources when loan money stalls.

The summer is over and all my money is gone. 

I moved from Philadelphia to Syracuse during the summer, had a nose job to eliminate snoring, and bought a car. 

I, perhaps like you, have no job, no cash, and I’m at the mercy of the student loan money. 

I turned to horse racing, in need of financial energy.

Horse races have been run on Union Avenue for 145 years. New Yorkers love gambling:  gotta take money to make money. 

The Saratoga Race Course, with the best interest of cash-strapped college students in mind this fall, will hand out scholarship money today, Sept. 4. Starting with the first race at 2:30 p.m., the New York Racing Association (NYRA) will give out a $1,000 scholarship after every race (12 in total).  Admission is free, commemorative T-shirts are free, the scholarship money is freeing, financially. 

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

"We are excited to provide our college students with a reason to visit Saratoga as they arrive back on campus," said NYRA Executive Vice President and COO Hal Handel. 

Halftime Snack trotted out to the oldest horse track in the country for you last week: it is "the August place to be."  Just walk through the front gates, draw in the air of the royalty, a scent pungent and liberating.