NCF Nation: Yale Bulldogs

3-point stance: Senators in football

December, 23, 2011
1. Thanks to all of you who responded to my question Tuesday regarding U.S. senators who played college football. Two current senators, John Boozman (R.-Ark.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) played at Arkansas and Wake Forest, respectively. Among the former senators who played varsity football: J. William Fulbright (D.-Ark.) at Arkansas, Milward J. Simpson (R-Wyo.) at Wyoming, George Allen (R.-Va.) at Virginia and, of course, Richard Nixon (R-Calif.) at Whittier College.

2. Tom Williams, who resigned as Yale head coach on Wednesday, replaces UCF coach George O’Leary as the example of how not to write a résumé. Williams said he had been a Rhodes Scholarship candidate as a Stanford linebacker two decades ago. Not quite. Williams said he had been asked at Stanford to apply. In his mind, he was a candidate. That may not have been good enough for Yale, but I understood it. The San Francisco 49ers refuted his claim that he had been a free agent with them. Williams is a good man and a smart guy. Like O’Leary at Notre Dame a decade ago, he got dumped for being sloppy.

3. Here’s the reason that 11-1 Boise State didn’t trip over its cleats when it played 6-6 Arizona State in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. Disciplined beats undisciplined every time. The Sun Devils underachieved under Dennis Erickson and he probably would be the first to tell you as much. Arizona State made the same penalties and suffered the same breakdowns it made in going from 6-2 to 6-6. What a mess. As usual, Boise State won’t get credit for beating a big-name team. But the Broncos, as usual, simply were better.
1. As speculation continues regarding who will be the next head coach at Penn State, this much seems to be true: if he’s not a member of the Nittany Lion family, then the tight-knit former players who showed up en masse for the last home game in the wake of the firing of Joe Paterno will revolt. That could be Miami coach Al Golden and, yes, it could be the interim coach, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. Interim athletic director Dave Joyner, who is heading the search committee, knows Scrap well. His son played for him.

2. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA director Robert Gates received the Gold Medal, the highest honor given by the National Football Foundation, on Thursday night. Before that, Gates served as president of Texas A&M. “I fired a lot of people when I was at the Pentagon,” Gates said. “But I don’t think I ever did anything as controversial as firing a football coach in Texas. I later told the media I had overthrown the governments of medium-sized countries with less controversy.”

3. Yale quarterback Patrick Witt, a finalist for the Campbell Trophy, the NFF’s “Academic Heisman,” turned down the chance to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship last month, in order to play his final college game against Harvard. “The quarterback position is unique. It wouldn’t be right to leave your guys as the leader of your team on that final game.” Witt will give the NFL a try. The Rhodes Committee told him, given his circumstance, they would consider waiving their age limit of 24, should he choose to apply again.

Video: Tragedy at Harvard-Yale game

November, 19, 2011

College GameDay's Chris Fowler reports on the tragedy in New Haven before the Harvard-Yale game, where a woman reportedly dies while tailgating for the game.
1. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany included the words “at this time” in his news release explaining why former Penn State coach Joe Paterno’s name is coming off the league championship trophy, which makes all the difference. Delany said the league wanted to remove any controversy from the game, and allow the players to focus on what’s at stake. It’s a smart, rational decision. Time will reveal whether it’s permanent.

2. Yale senior quarterback Patrick Witt refused an interview request Monday after his announcement Sunday that he will forego his Rhodes Scholarship interview in Atlanta Saturday so that he may play in his final college game against Harvard. Bulldogs coach Tom Williams told me Monday that Witt has the opportunity to reapply for the scholarship. He has only one more chance to play in The Game.

3. Tennessee (4-6, 0-6) has scored 23 points in the four SEC games since losing quarterback Tyler Bray to a broken thumb against Georgia. Before Bray returned to practice Monday, Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley said, “if he’s ready to go we’d be crazy not to at least give him a shot.” Tennessee historically has cruised through November. An improved Vanderbilt (5-5, 2-5) arrives in Knoxville Saturday night. There’s a lot at stake. The Vols have never lost seven SEC games in one season.
1. Fans and schools alike complain about slow NCAA investigations. But they are never slow when competition is afoot. It took Miami fewer than 10 days to declare 13 players, including veteran quarterback Jacory Harris, ineligible in the Nevin Shapiro case. The university acted Thursday not only to give the NCAA the opportunity to rule on the players before the Hurricanes’ opener on Sept. 5, but also to give head coach Al Golden time to prepare a team without those players.

2. I like Dan Persa as much as the next writer. The Northwestern quarterback has been an exciting player, and if the Wildcats are winning, there’s usually a good story in it. But the hype for Persa is setting up Wildcat fans to be disappointed. I have read this week on the Big Ten blog that Persa’s mobility remains limited from the Achilles tendon injury he suffered late last season, yet I also read on the blog that Persa the No. 3 player in the Big Ten. It just doesn’t add up. I hope I’m wrong.

3. There may be a reason that tennis star Caroline Wozniacki is a three-time defending champion in the ATP event on the Yale campus in New Haven. The last two years, Wozniacki has spoken to the Bulldog football team and they have come to her matches to cheer her on. The team has tentative plans to attend her semifinal match Friday. While there, the players also plan to run on the pink treadmill outside the stadium, a fundraiser for breast cancer research.