Why Is Michigan Playing Appalachian State Again?

At a house party in 2008, Jason Gingell was talking about the University of Michigan’s upcoming Pro Day. He hadn’t done so well in his private NFL auditions, and this would be his last chance to impress a team. “What position do you play?” a sophomore girl asked. A different girl answered for him: “He’s the asshole who missed the kicks against Appalachian State.” Gingell quickly exited the party.

Three years ago, when I saw the press release announcing Michigan vs. Appalachian State: The Rematch, I figured it was a sick joke. “We look forward to facing Appalachian State again,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in the release. We? Is he speaking on behalf of Appalachian State fans? Because no Michigan fan is looking forward to this game. We think it’s a terrible idea.

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Heisman Talk; College Hoops Rising Stars

Credit: National Football Foundation

Hard at work for you, dear reader. (Credit: National Football Foundation)

Why is the Heisman Trophy essentially reserved for quarterbacks and running backs? My latest college football column attempts to answer that. I attended the press conference for the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class, which included 1996 Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel, Orlando Pace, and Tedy Bruschi (pictured above), among others, and I spoke to them about the Heisman’s skill position bias.

I’ve been doing a lot of college basketball reporting as well, covering several games at Madison Square Garden for Newsday. I’ve also started a weekly column for CBS Local in which I profile a “Rising Star” in the sport (I’ve written the two from this season). Remember, this blog is home to most all of my freelance work. If you have any suggestions for my next “Rising Star,” or any other story ideas, send them my way. Even if it’s a local story that received little attention, I’d love to give it a bigger audience. Thanks for reading. Happy holidays.

Texas A&M and Missouri Find Success in SEC

Missouri was picked to finish sixth in the seven-team SEC East. Having gone 2-6 in the conference last season after coming over from the Big 12, perhaps there was a feeling that Missouri wasn’t ready for the big, bad SEC. The Tigers are now one win away from reaching the SEC championship game. Their success comes a season after Texas A&M, which also left the Big 12 for the SEC, took the league by storm. Assuming these teams didn’t magically get better simply by joining the SEC, their success proves that every conference has good teams and bad teams. This is useful to remember in a year where fans and media are once again making generalizations about conferences and applying them to specific teams.

To read my take on that, check out my Saturday Blitz column: http://saturdayblitz.com/2013/11/25/sec-football-missouri-texas-am/. You’ll also find two amazing plays from the past week, as well as quick thoughts on first-year head coaches and Florida’s struggles.

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