Steveo’s Salvos – December 16, 2015

Usually I start off this time of year telling readers the teams I saw during the season that made it to a bowl game. A bowl invitation used to be a reward for a team having a winning season. Now, that’s not even a prerequisite. I saw 19 different FBS teams play this season, several multiple times. Only six teams are not going to bowl games – Rutgers, Army, Old Dominion, Charlotte (first year in FBS), Georgia Tech, and Colorado. Rutgers was even under consideration before it lost to 2-9 Maryland in its finale to finish 4-8. Ridiculous! It’s not about the teams, the players, the fans, tradition, winning, pride, fun, rewards for a mediocre season, or anything worth putting the time and effort aside from maybe some extra practice to keep up with the winning teams. It’s all and only about selling TV commercials to fill in air time to compete with 500 other stations that have nothing else on worth watching. I used to watch all the bowl games. Now for most of them, I could care less. And this is coming from a guy who enjoyed going to see 0-6 Louisiana-Monroe defeat 0-6 Louisiana-Lafayette back in 2006, 45-42. Granted, it turned out to be a surprisingly exciting game, but I know that game wasn’t televised. Now, it’s a prime timer that will be stretched out 210 minutes until the next clunker comes on to where it’s getting to the point that attending is getting so painful. I might eventually only go to any game at any level only if it’s not televised. I don’t understand how many Geico commercials can one person watch over three and a half hours? I’m very happy with my car insurance and they never do TV commercials. I get a rebate for being a good driver who puts lot of miles on my car driving to games. Probably crushed a few geckos along the way that crawl across the road at night when I couldn’t see them…

Of the six non-bowl teams we attended this year, four played against each other. We saw ODU beat Charlotte above. The other such game was between Army and Rutgers. At least we saw them in competitive games.

Of the six non-bowl teams we watched play this year, four played against each other. We saw ODU beat Charlotte above, 37-34. The other such game was between Army and Rutgers. At least we saw them in competitive games.

Some observations of teams in bowls who we saw play this year (underlined): one of the best bowl matchups – Temple vs. Toledo. Owls are up and coming. Toledo has been rising the last few years. We expect his to be a good game between two well-coached teams; our friend Tom Ables met us for his 761st San Diego State game when his Aztecs ventured out this season to play Penn State. It was the last game they lost this season before running the table in nine straight games since including the Mountain West Championship over Air Force, 27-24. Tom will attend his alma mater’s 772nd game when his Aztecs travel to the Hawaii Bowl to take on Cincinnati. Since 1946, Tom has only missed two SDSU games. Ironically, one was at Hawaii early on because he couldn’t afford to go;  Duke vs. Indiana in the Pinstripe bowl at Yankee stadium. Usually during the Christmas season, if you saw these two schools playing in New York City, it was in a basketball game at the Holiday Festival in Madison Square Garden. Will they draw as many fans? ; We’ll be at Navy (10-2) vs. Pitt (8-4) in the Military Bowl in Annapolis on December 28, another good game. Of Pitt’s four losses, three were to Top 10 teams- North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Iowa. Under first-year HC Pat Narduzzi who came from Michigan State where he was defensive coordinator, the Mids’ offense will have its work cut out for them as the Panthers have three weeks to prepare for the triple-option…Air Force plays California in the Armed Forces Services bowl. We saw this exact same matchup in the same bowl in 2007. Cal won in a game down to the wire, 42-36. It was HC Troy Calhoun’s first season there. He’s still there.; Southern Cal vs. Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl. Some people earmarked these two to be playing against one another in the Rose Bowl; Michigan State plays Alabama in the College Football Playoff in the Cotton Bowl. We are two for two seeing at least one team during the regular season make it to the CFP. Last year, we saw two – eventual National Champ Ohio State and Florida State; Ohio State and Notre Dame meet one another in the Fiesta Bowl. We saw the Irish win at the Music City a year ago in a last second 31-28 thriller over LSU and Leonard Fournette. However, on the big stage, the Irish usually don’t play so well. We were at the Orange Bowl for the BCS Championship the lost to Alabama, 42-14, in 2013. I may miss this game as I plan to be out the Outback. Both games start at 1 pm…

The Irish and the Temple Owls both fought their way to very competitive bowl games both against teams from Ohio.

The Irish and the Temple Owls both fought their way to very competitive bowl games both against teams from Ohio.

Of the four bowls we’ll be attending, I’ll see only one team we’ve already seen play this year, Navy. So by the end of the season, we’ll have seen 29 FBS teams compete this year…Among those new teams will be Northwestern. Last season, I finished the season seeing the team they will play, Tennessee, wallop Iowa in the TaxSlayer bowl, 45-28 (45-7 at one point). I only bring this up because the Big Ten announced its All-Conference team today. This amazes me: of the 25 players named to the first team, we saw seventeen of these players compete since the TaxSlayer played on January 2 of this year. When we see Northwestern at the Outback, LB Anthony Walker will be the 18th among these players we will see. It helps that the majority of the players are from Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State of whom we all saw play this year. I don’t think we ever came close to doing something like this…

WR Aaron Burbridge (16) of Michigan State had nine receptions among his 80 against Rutgers to be named First TEam Big Ten.

WR Aaron Burbridge (16) of Michigan State had nine receptions against Rutgers  among his 80 for the season to be named First Team Big Ten.

At the end of this season, we may be able to say we saw the FBS National Champion play again this year. If Michigan State knocks off Alabama in the CFP Cotton Bowl, it’s definite. That’s because we will be seeing the Spartans play the winner between Clemson and Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl…However, we may be able to way that we saw a National Champion play after this weekend. That is because Shepherd U. whom we saw defeat Slippery Rock in the D-2 quarterfinals, won the semi-finals beating Grand Valley State. This Saturday, the Rams (13-0) will play the NW Missouri Bearcats (14-0) in Kansas City’s Sporting Park for the D-2 National Championship. NW Mizzou won it all two seasons ago. They also won it in 2009. This will be their ninth trip to the finals. Shepherd will have a tough task ahead of them, and we’re rooting for them so we can say we’ve seen two of the four NCAA national champs play this year. We thought about Friday night’s D-3 championship in Salem , Virginia when Mount Union and St. Thomas of Minnesota square off. The two purple D-3 teams should be fun to watch, but our son Eric is home on leave from the Navy, and we’re going to hang close to home this weekend before Christmas. What the heck, we got four games planned after he goes back…

Shepherd carries its colors to the D-2 national Championship against NW Missouri State this Saturday.

Shepherd carries its colors to the D-2 National Championship against NW Missouri State this Saturday.

Speaking of Slippery Rock, a week after the loss to Shepherd, SRU HC Georg Mihalik announced his retirement after 44 years at the The Rock, the last 28 as head coach finishing with a 197-110-4 record. His teams won eight PSAC West titles and moved on to the playoffs six times including the last three years. His teams had been one of the tops academically in the PSAC over the years. He was one of few coaches that got to coach in a stadium named for him. On September 8, 2011, SRU’s stadium was renamed “Mihalik-Thompson Stadium” in his honor. He will be missed at The Rock, but he’s given the school many great years of service and exemplified a lot of class while doing it….Looking at next year’s schedules among the FBS, we’re impressed by Independent BYU’s slate: Home- UCLA, Toledo, Mississippi State; Away – Arizona, Utah, WVU (at Landover, MD), Michigan State, Boise, and Cincinnati. However, they are still looking for a coach to lead them against this group. Bronco Mendenhall left BYU to take over at Virginia. HC Ken Niumatatolo of Navy was their first choice but turned them down (thankfully as far as we are concerned). Despite his son playing LB for the Cougars, he admits he loves the Naval Academy. It shows. We hope he keeps winning there for a long time.

Navy and are very happy that HC Ken Niumatalolo will be staying in Annapolis to lead the Mids to many more winning seasons.

Navy and are very happy that HC Ken Niumatalolo will be staying in Annapolis to lead the Mids to many more winning seasons.



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