College Football Notes

Ruminations on the Passing Scene …

With college football preseason practices kicking off next week, here are a few notes to clear my notebook (and mind) …

Bowden is 32 Wins Behind Paterno …

The career wins list in college football shows Florida State coach Bobby Bowden trailing Penn State’s Joe Paterno by one victory (383-382).

Now, I like Coach Bowden, but his win total is more inflated than Keith Olbermann’s ego.

Knowledgeable college football fans should realize that the chief Seminole earned 31 of those victories as head coach at Howard College (now Samford) from 1959-1962. The total includes wins over Maryville, Millsaps, Delta State, Furman, and one against something called the National University of Mexico. Oh yeah, do not forget the big 34-zip triumph over Tennessee Tech’s B Team on October 3, 1959 (as if you could).

Not one of the wins came against a big-time program.

So, even if FSU successfully appeals the recent NCAA decision stripping the program of fourteen wins (doubtful), Bowden should still trail Paterno by a significant margin (383-351) with those Howard wins discounted. If you toss out the fourteen vacated victories as mandated by the NCAA, the true total heading into 2009 would read 383-337.

About as close as Secretariat vs. the field at the 1973 Belmont.

Oh, for those who believe Coach Bowden should keep the wins from Howard, then shouldn’t the career marks of John Gagliardi (461 wins at St. John’s College and Carroll College) and Eddie Robinson (408 wins at Grambling) be factored in as well?

The Real All-Americans …

Dan Jenkins has long been one of America’s foremost college football writers; his daughter is terrific too. If you have not read The Real All-Americans by Sally Jenkins, put it on your list.

The book recounts the story of the Carlisle Indian School.

Founded in 1879 by famed U.S. Cavalryman Richard Henry Pratt (leader of the Buffalo Soldiers and a veteran of the Indian Wars of the 1860s and 1870s), Carlisle was a social experiment with a goal of assimilating (forcibly and forcefully if necessary) American Indians into United States culture. The most visible result of the effort ended up being the football squad.

The book provides gripping accounts of the Indian Wars, and illustrates the incongruity of tribal chiefs and leaders (many of them having battled the U.S. government for much of their lives) sending their children and grandchildren off to a government-run boarding school.

The football squad, led by coach Glenn “Pop” Warner and eventually featuring the legendary Jim Thorpe, gained national attention by playing an annual schedule against many of the era’s great powers. The book culminates with the famous Carlisle vs. Army game of 1912 … a “battle” that featured the great Thorpe of Carlisle and the future U.S. President Dwight David Eisenhower of Army among many others.

A fine book.

Beano and the Pods …

Curmudgeonly Beano Cook on the cutting edge? You bet.

College football fans who have not had the opportunity to listen to Beano Cook and Ivan Maisel podcasts (available at the college football pages of espn.com) are missing a treat.

The two chew more fat than your local offensive line at the training table.

Next time you find yourself with thirty or forty minutes, click and listen. Count how long it takes Beano to mention “Notra Dame” … the over/under is around the two minute mark.

The podcasts are currently posted every two weeks, but should be on more frequently as we near the season.

Swith to Further Action …

My introduction to college football came from the old Notre Dame football replays featuring Lindsey Nelson and Paul Hornung.

Readers of a certain age can surely recall the … “we now switch to further action with Notre Dame leading 34-10” highlights that kept the action within a one hour TV limit. The ND football replay was a forerunner of the dozens of similar shows college football fans can access today.

Although a southerner, a Protestant, and an SEC man, that replay program kicked off a lifelong affection for Notre Dame football that remains with me today.

How did college football become important to you?

Until next time … see you at kickoff!

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