Saturday, May 28, 2011

Carnes appears to be backup QB for Nebraska

Nebraska doesn’t have a depth chart (at least not for public view), but it seems safe enough to conclude that Brion Carnes has moved into the backup role as the Cornhuskers quarterback.

Either the Manatee High product was already there or several of his competitors for the backup role concluded the job was his to lose.

Multiple sources, including ESPN and the Omaha World Herald, reported Saturday that returning backup quarterback Cody Greene has requested a release from his scholarship and is exploring transfer options.

Green started several games last year after starter Taylor Martinez and Zac Lee were injured and led the Cornhuskers to victories over Iowa State and Colorado.

It was also reported last week that another Nebraska quarterback, Kody Spano, announced he was ending his career because of multiple injuries.

If Green is granted his request, the only two quarterbacks left on scholarship at Nebraska are Martinez and Carnes. A school spokesman said Nebraska head football coach Bo Pelini had no comment on Green.

Dick Vitale Gala has record setting night

Final Four coaches gather with Dickie V. at Dick Vitale Gala
(L-R Jim Calhoun, Dick Vitale, Shaka Smart, John Calipari, Brad Stevens)

Dickie Vitale broke the bank at this year’s Dick Vitale Gala raising a record $1.3 million for pediatric cancer research.

It was the most money ever raised the Gala exceeding the $1.2 million that event brought in several years ago when it honored Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“We are ecstatic that we broke the record,” Vitale said after learning of the figures late last week. “It’s absolutely amazing and I want to thank all the people from the Bradenton-Sarasota are and the celebrities who came and made this possible.

“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can’t thank enough all the stars that came on their own expense without charge and the many, many thousands of dollars they gave. I am talking serious donations. We in the Jimmy V Foundation are very happy with the final numbers.”

The scene at Vitale’s house the next day where many of the guests gathered was very emotional. Anthony Littlejohn, Lakewood Ranch assistant football coach who lost his 15 month old son Adrian Shawn to cancer on May 1st, gave an impassioned speech thanking everyone who had helped him and his wife Ivette get through the tough times.

Vitale said plans are already under way for next year’s Dick Vitale Gala that will be held May 18th at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. He plans to honor former college football coach and ESPN analyst Lou Holtz, Villanova head basketball coach Jay Wright and former Maryland head basketball coach Gary Williams.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Frazier says Manatee connection doesn't pressure Carnes at Nebraska

Tommie Frazier says there is no great pressure on Brion Carnes at Nebraksa because they are both from the same high school.

Both were standout quarterbacks for Manatee High and there is a feeling that folks in Lincoln, Nebraska are expecting Carnes to duplicate Frazier's success, which would be hard for anyone.

Frazier led Nebraska to two national championships and three straight national title games earning MVP honors in all the games.

"I don't see that comparison between us, not from here," said Frazier who lives in Omaha. "It's a big transition from high school to college and Brion has worked very hard to put himself in a position. If he works hard I believe he will have a successful career."

For now, the starting quarterback at Nebraska is Taylor Martinez and Frazier says it's anybody's guess whether Carnes or someone else is going to be the backup.

It was reported that Kody Spano, one of the quarterbacks in the mix, has left the team because of numerous injuries he has incurred throughout his career at Nebraska including two ACL tears.

The quarterback battle could or could not get heated up a bit more this summer with the arrival of Bubba Starling, the heralded star signal caller, who is also rated the top high school baseball prospect by Baseball America.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lakewood Ranch's Griffin tops C-USA in homers

Jonathan Griffin knows how to celebrate.

On Tuesday, the University of Central Florida first baseman and Lakewood Ranch graduate was named to the Conference USA first team. For the regular season, Griffin led C-USA in homers, slugging percentage and total bases.

On Wednesday he blasted his team leading 17th homer of the season to spark the Knights to a 16-9 victory over Memphis in a C-USA tournament game at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi. The homer moved Griffin up to third in the UCF history books for most homers in a single season.

The 6-7, 250 pound senior has been on a tear nearly all season. He leads the Knights in slugging percentage (.638), is tied for first in doubles and is second in batting average (.366) and RBIs (50). He has also shown his prowess with glove committing only four errors in 532 chances for a .993 fielding average.

The 22 year-old Griffin was an All-Area choice at Lakewood Ranch and had two productive years at State College of Florida, particularly in 2008 when hit smacked 22 homers to lead Florida JUCO ball.

The C-USA tournament is an eight team pool play event. The winners of each of the two four team pods will meet in the championship game on Saturday with the winner earning a berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Regular season co-champs Rice and Southern Mississippi are the top seeds. UCF is seeded fourth, but with a top 20 RPI ranking is hoping to get an at-large bid if it doesn’t win the tournament.

Will USF and Florida ever meet again in football?

Will the University of South Florida ever get a chance to exact revenge against Florida on the football field?

That moment seems further away than ever with a recent report that the final of two games scheduled between the teams has been put off again without a date to play.

The Bulls and Gators met for the first time last season with Florida coming away with a 38-14 victory in Gainesville. The second meeting between the teams had been rescheduled three times with the latest agreement having them meet in 2015.

Now the 2015 meeting has been postponed (or cancelled for those who see this as the end). There is no date to play the game, though the schools still have a contract to meet again in Gainesville.

USF is hesitant about making any long term commitments because of speculation that the Big East Conference will increase its football membership and possibly have a league championship game if it goes to 12 teams.

The Bulls have one non-conference road game next year (at Notre Dame) and four non-conference home games with Ball State, Florida A&M, UTEP and Miami. In 2012 they have non-conference games scheduled with Florida State at home and Miami and Ball State on the road.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

USF football program tops BCS schools in APR improvement

The University of South Florida football program produced the largest improvement out of all the BCS conference schools for the second consecutive year in the NCAA's latest Academic Progress Report (APR) that was released on Tuesday.

The APR measures the classroom performance of every Division I student-athlete, composing a score for each team. The report consisted of data from 2006-07 school year to 2009-10.

“We continue to see strong improvement across the department as it relates to APR and we couldn’t be more excited about the direction we’re headed,” said USF Athletics Director Doug Woolard. “Helping our student-athletes graduate is one of the core goals of this athletic department and the progress we’ve made over the last couple of years is promising.We want to continue to build on these positive trends."

In comparison Big East Conference opponents Connecticut and Louisville suffered loses. The UConn men's basketball team, which won the national championship last month, lost two scholarships because of a low APR.

The rating puts the Connecticut men's basketball program's four year rating at 892, below the NCAA minimum score of 925.

Louisville announced that it lost three football scholarships under the NCAA APR penalties. Louisville's latest score in the academic progress rate -- which measures academic eligibility, retention and graduation rate -- was 908.

The USF football program saw another large increase in 2011. After posting a 930 in the 2010 report and producing a 21-point increase, which tied for the largest improvement of any BCS school, the football program increased another 22 points to 952, the biggest improvement of any BCS school this year.

The 952 is tied for 30th out of the 66 BCS schools, an improvement from 59th last year, and ranks fourth in the BIG EAST compared to seventh last year.

The program’s annual score increased for the fourth-consecutive year, going from 879 in 2005-06 to 971 in 2009-10.

The men’s basketball program has also continued a positive trend. Last year, the program produced a 37-point jump from the previous year, which was the fifth-best improvement out of the 73 schools in the six major conferences, to 915.

This year, the men’s basketball program improved another 22 points, the 10th-largest increase, to 937. The 937 is tied for 11th in the BIG EAST, up from 15th last year. The 59-point improvement over the last two years is tied for the fourth-largest gain of the 73 schools in the six major conferences.

Of USF’s 18 sports represented in the report, 13 have a positive multi-year APR trend from the 2010 report and 16-of-18 programs have annual APR rates above 950, including eight with perfect rates of 1,000.

The athletic department is led by the women’s tennis program, which received special recognition last week for achieving a perfect multi-year rate of 1,000. Three other programs achieved a rate in the 990s with volleyball at 994, women’s golf at 993 and softball at 991. The men’s tennis program was the top male performer with a multi-year score of 983.

This year’s report comes on the heels of USF’s most successful semester academically on record. The department produced a combined 3.01 GPA for the spring 2011 term, which was headlined by the women’s tennis program at 3.56, the women’s golf program at 3.46 and the men’s golf program at 3.42.

Hall of Fame exec says Tommie Frazier should be in

Steve Hatchell, the president and CEO of the National Football Foundation, which operates the College Football Hall of Fame, said Tommie Frazier deserves to be inducted.

Hatchell made his comment to ESPN this week after controversy erupted all over the country over the exclusion of Frazier and other former college football greats.

It seems there are a bunch of unwritten rules about how people get in. Hatchell said one thing that hurt Frazier was that former Nebraska offensive lineman Will Shields was voted in this year.

"There's a lot of things to balance: What do we have for positions, for race, for geographic considerations," Hatchell told "What people don't understand is that we're not dealing with 32 teams. We're dealing with 119 and we're dealing with 22 positions and special teams while going border to border and coast to coast. And we've worked very hard in the last seven years to show a lot of balance.”

Frazier finished his career at Nebraska in 1995 and wasn’t on the ballot until this year. The Manatee High product was voted the 33d best player of All Time in 2004 by