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Ed Cunningham becomes first broadcaster to drop out of football for ethical reasons

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Back on August 1st, when ESPN announced its 2017 college football television announcing team, the astute college football diehard noticed there was no Ed Cunningham listed next to Mike Patrick.

Cunningham had been an ESPN college football color analyst for the past 20 seasons.

Wednesday John Branch of the New York Times revealed the reason for Cunningham’s departure.

“In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear and tear,” Cunningham told the Times.

“But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”

Numerous football players have dropped out of the game from the high school level all the way up to the pro level for just the same reason, but Cunningham maybe the first to do so from the perch of broadcaster.

Cunningham leaves a $100k plus salary on the table for what he calls “my ethical concerns”.

Cunningham lamented the toll the game has already taken on players from years past, “I don’t currently think the game is safe for the brain. And, oh, by the way, I’ve had teammates who have killed themselves. Dave Duerson put a shotgun to his chest so we could study his brain” Cunningham told the Times.

The former NFL lineman is perhaps the most prominent person to have walked away from the game among a group of men and women who make their livelihood directly off the game on the field. A game which decidedly has caused so much concern for player safety and with its direct impact to the head, most believe is linked to a condition we now know as Chronic traumatic encephalopathy  or CTE.

There’s concern not just for former NFL players, but recently its thought that even those who played at the high school level can be affected long-term. 

Journalists, bloggers, some former football fans have all decried the sport as not worth the entertainment value.

Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune wrote today a column titled: “I don’t think I can watch football anymore.”

Chapman cites a study which recently made headlines concerning CTE:

“a study of brains taken from deceased players conducted by Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University. Of 202 brains she examined, 177 showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Of the 111 from NFL players, 110 were diseased. CTE is a progressive, fatal condition that can cause memory loss, depression, psychosis and dementia.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded to that study by stating that the average NFL player lives longer than those who have never played a down in the league. Of course that would be about 7.5 billion people who have never suffered impact directly to the head on a football field.

Per Yahoo Sports here was Goodell’s response when the topic was brought up at an NFL hosted fan forum:

“The average NFL player lives five years longer than you,” Goodell said. “So their lifespan is actually longer and healthier. And I think because of all the advancements, including the medical care, that number is going to even increase for them.”

“I think the one thing everyone agrees on is there’s an awful lot more questions than there are answers at this point,” Goodell said.

The player safety issue is now front and center up against a sports and cultural institution called football with tens of thousands of willing participants, and billions of dollars in revenue. Where those two points collide, if they ever do, remains to be seen.

Jim Harbaugh appears to be over Ohio State loss, excited about FSU’s renegade

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You have to give Jim Harbaugh credit. As much as many try to discredit the head football coach at the University of Michigan, he’s incredibly resilient.

Speaking to media at the Orange Bowl press conference Harbaugh quoted Sir Andrew Barton to explain his mindset.

“It was a tough loss,” Harbaugh said, via “But as Sir Andrew [Barton] said, ‘Fight on me men. I’m a little hurt but slain, I’ll lay down and bleed a while, but then I’ll rise to fight again.”

Harbaugh and his guys will take on Florida State Dec. 30th against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.  The game is perhaps the most compelling of the non-playoff matchups to close out the college football season.

Harbaugh stated he has re-watched the Ohio State loss where questionable officiating calls cost him $10,000 for criticizing officials after the game.  However, Harbaugh states that he hasn’t changed his mindset on the incorrectness of the calls in the game, doesn’t plan on doing so and still doesn’t believe he should be allowed to voice his concern publically without a fine.

Michigan finished the season at 10-2 and ranked sixth in the final college football playoff rankings, while Florida State finished at 9-3 and finished 11th in the final rankings.

Meanwhile, Harbaugh genuinely seems pumped about the Florida State spear.

Per ESPN: “[Florida State is] one of those great programs, one of those great traditions. Renegade the war horse. The spear. The tomahawk chant. I’ve never been to a game at Florida State. I always wanted to. I always wanted to go to their stadium and see what that atmosphere was like in person.”

“This will be as close as I’ve ever been to that. I’m very much excited about that and looking forward to that. I’m gonna get some chills I know when [Renegade] comes riding out there. … That is one of the coolest things. A lot of teams got cool things. We got cool things and other teams got cool things. That is right up there with one of the coolest things.”



Some Notre Dame fans appear to be very unhappy with AD Jack Swarbrick

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Wednesday, under the heading “paid advertisement” in the University of Notre Dame/St. Mary’s student newspaper, The Observer appears a very nice graphic.

The graphic is titled “Notre Dame Football Has Failed Under Jack Swarbrick”.


The graphic itself would probably score a B in a business class, or a C in a graphic design seminar. However, this is reality for people. This is Notre Dame football.

Notre Dame finished with a brutal record of 4-8 in the 2016 college football season. Yet the advertisement, which is allegedly paid for a group of alumni and students, takes its displeasure out on Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s (thick skinned) athletic director. *Any AD with his own radio show is thick skinned we would assume.

The graphic points to on the field: zero “major” bowl wins during Swarbrick’s tenure, and off the field: issues like the recent academic misconduct case which costs the football team 21 wins from seasons gone by.

The force of a viral image has a lot of weight these days. No doubt the well-educated persons who sponsored the graphic understand that a single advertisement in a student newspaper does not result in job loss, but it gets the conversation going. It attempts puts the pressure on someone who thus far usually has been immune, that is Jack Swarbrick.

It may be coincidental, but Swarbrick recently gave Kelly a vote of confidence after some wondered how much longer the football coach would be at the school.

And in true Brian Kelly fashion (a style many in the media are getting used to and loathing), he stated that he was disappointed that he would even need a vote of confidence. Implying that confidence in him as head football coach by his athletic director and university, should be implied.

For the present time, the Heisman Trophy appears to have lost some luster

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—At one time, the Heisman had extreme importance in college football and in the sports world.

Historically you can’t discount what Bo Jackson winning the Heisman Trophy in 1985, or just about any other winner in what some people might consider the “golden era” of college football 1970 to late 90s.

But it’s 2016 and no one in sports media and social media is talking about the Heisman Trophy and that’s odd. Sure there are mentions. But there is no buzz.

Sure a few college football websites have thrown out some content regarding the award, a kid from Louisville named Jackson (Lamar) may have a shot, but not only is there no definitive shining stars this year, no one seems to be all that excited.

Officially the final candidates for the 2016 Heisman Trophy are Jackson ,who is a quarterback, along with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook.

There are many theories as to why this has happened. For instance, a guy named Reggie Bush was required to give back his Heisman in 2010, after violating NCAA rules related to amateurism.

Another theory comes from Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune 

“The best player rarely wins the Heisman, and now it basically comes down to propaganda and ESPN, which has power over the award (see the joke of Gino Torretta over Marshall Faulk) mostly because the majority of the electors see but a few highlights and listen to talking heads crap. How many saw D.J. Pumphrey?

The thing usually goes to a quarterback or running back, which certainly doesn’t mean best player.”

Here’s my simple fix, include college coaches who actually play against guys, study the film, leave the media out of it. They are much too busy to really get a handle other than reading the hype themselves and transmitting it across their mediums.

Let the coaches decide and keep the pomp and circumstance of the show for ESPN and it will have a lot more meaning.

Kevin Wilson out at Indiana: Life, Physicality, Grit, Toughness and other College Football things

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—Kevin Wilson “resigned” as the head football coach at Indiana University on Thursday.

It was not due to wins and losses. In fact, strictly by wins and losses Wilson had taken the Hoosier football program places it had not been in several decades.

Indiana defensive coordinator, Tom Allen, whose acronym L.E.O. (short for “love each other”) spread across social media as word broke he would be taking over as the head coach,  is more of a family guy, more of an Indiana guy. He was born and raised in Indiana. Wilson was not.

Indiana athletic director Fred Glass stated that Wilson resigned after a meeting. Before the announcement, it was assumed Wilson was fired.

The end result is the same.

Glass stated it was due to philosophical differences which had crept up before but again reared their ugly head in recent weeks. Glass cited differences in “leadership” philosophy.

Social media and a report by ESPN tell a different story.


Kevin Wilson was aggressive. If a player complained he was hurt, Wilson let them know about it. If a trainer said a guy was hurt, Wilson gave them an earful of expletives, allegedly.

Wilson’s job at Indiana was not simply just to coach football and make everyone happy. His job was to recruit as hard as he could, take players with lesser talent and get them ready to play a violent sport against some of the best football players on the planet in the Big Ten. It appears it the leadership style that Wilson employed more often than not, which cost him his job, is that he pushed his players beyond their physical limit. Even when injured.

As reported by

Earlier Thursday, however, a former Indiana player’s father told ESPN that his son suffered a concussion in practice shortly before the 2015 season and was rushed back to workouts, causing his symptoms to intensify.

“He was out about a week and they started a normal concussion regimen, in which he was allowed to work out for about 20 minutes and gradually increase it,” the former player’s father said. “But after he worked out for 20 minutes, they had him run about 6 miles. After that, my son was feeling fine. But when he went home, he started throwing up and his symptoms went haywire.”

Indiana’s AD stated the NCAA won’t be involved. There will be no medical or legal matters to deal with, however the school employed an independent law firm to review the football program and found enough of a problem to warrant a change.

This is not the era in football to have guys grind it out. This is not the era in college athletics to have any hint that a coach abused or took improper measures or anything. Some say it’s a sign of the times that everyone is getting softer, and we’re training our kids to be pampered and self-centered.

But Kevin Wilson lost his job because he wasn’t quite aware or failed to fully realize what type of environment he was really working in.

Harbaugh’s boys show a weakness for the first time in 2016

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Call it overconfidence. The Juggernaut that is Michigan Football in 2016 is not.

When Michigan arrived at Kinnick Stadium the equipment staff mercilessly revamped the famed pink-walled visiting locker room with Jordan logos and UM pride. By the time it was over Saturday night, Michigan left in shock, losing 14-13. The Wolverines, no longer perfect, with doubts now for the lock that was the college football playoff.

Michigan faces Indiana next week, which likely will result in a win, then play at Ohio State Nov. 26th, which likely may decide their college football playoff chances.

“We’re all going to to our jobs,” Jim Harbaugh said after the game.

“That’s part of my job. I’m not the only one, but a big part of my job is to make sure we respond.”



Brian Kelly will keep his job, this is a throw away season for Notre Dame

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—Brian Kelly will keep his job, despite the fact that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dropped to an overall record of 2-4 after losing to North Carolina State in Raleigh 10-3 in a rain storm.

Greater coaches have been fired for less. Not for the weather, but for the abysmal failure. An abysmal failure offensively. A three-point output in the rain and the mud.

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 Lately, the big complaint many people have is that Brian Kelly does not, and will not stop yelling at his players.

After embarrassing losses earlier this season, he blamed the players, then he blamed his assistant coaches. He fired his defensive coordinator. The media postgame Saturday tried to get Brian Kelly to blame Brian Kelly.

It kind of happened, but not really.
Via’s Matt Fortuna:

Asked what he meant when he said he let his team down, Kelly alluded to a punt that NC State blocked and returned for a 10-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter — the game’s only touchdown.

“When your team is flat and not playing with that energy, you kind of sense it,” Kelly said. “They were excited to play today and you want to be there for them. You want to make the right call, you want to put them in the right position. You had two guys back there [on the punt], maybe you second-guess yourself. Maybe we should’ve been in a three-man wall there instead of rugby. You second-guess yourself in games like this where your team is ready to play and excited to play. That’s what I was meaning by that.”

And the Journal Courrier’s Jeff Washburn:

No doubt Brian Kelly will not be fired even if Notre Dame loses the remainder of their schedule. Even if the Irish don’t make a bowl game, which is very possible. He gets a throwaway season. He’s earned that. He took Notre Dame to the Championship game in 2012 and that earns him a throwaway season. Simple as that.

He’s watched his predecessors take all the blame and get controlled by the media and also forced out of town. He’s done everything in his power to work the alumni and the media, but at some point, even Brian Kelly has to answer for Brian Kelly.

Jim Harbaugh: “Tom Brady can rip it”

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Tom Brady seems to be enjoying his off season. The former Michigan Wolverine served as an honory captain Saturday at the Big House while Michigan hosted Colorado.

On Friday Brady played catch with his son at Michigan Stadium, as shown in the facebook video below.

Then Saturday afternoon Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Brady played a little pregame catch.

Regarding the pitch and catch session with Brady Harbaugh said post game, “Two great thrills, two great thrills, looking back in my career of playing catch with different peope that was right there with playing catch with my dad.”

“Tom’s got a good arm by the way. He can rip it, he can throw it well. I wish I wouldn’ve given him the wind. Big thrill.”

“His (Brady’s) pregame talk was outstanding. It was very good, very from the heart.”


Michigan is young, talented and untested

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—There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Michigan football program. The six days in between games are almost assuredly going to be filled with some Jim Harbaugh related headline as was the case this week.

Colorado put out the fake depth chart with old cartoon characters and what not. Harbaugh said it wasn’t very amusing and we expected the Wolverines to trounce the Buffaloes. Then an actual football game took place.

The Buffaloes took an early 14-0 lead. And with that all the early season promise Michigan had shown seemed to be in jeopardy.

Michigan put a score on the board in the first quarter with a blocked punt return for a touchdown, but then Colorado made it 21-7 with a long ten play drive culminating in a touchdown.

Then Michigan put their foot on the gas. They scored two touchdowns and a field goal to give them a 24-21 halftime lead. Momentum blue, but still a very good change for the huge upset.

Those hopes looked very promising as Colorado scored quick to open the second half with a three play drive which included a 70-yard touchdown pass from Sefo Liufau to Shay Fields.

Once again Michigan would tighten up and slam the door shut scoring three straight touchdowns while allowing none to finish off the Buffaloes 45-28.



One thing is clear: Michigan can score.  The Wolverines have scored 159 points over their first three games and that’s a school record.

“They knew it was a fight, because heard them talking about it,” Harbaugh said post game.

“I look at every football game that has ever been played, or will be played, it’s a battle seeing who the best players are in a football games.”

It appears that Michigan has two Achilles heels: It’s defense and its youth.

“That’s a veteran team (Colorado). 20 starters I believe,” Harbaugh added.

And we’ve got quite a few guys who are playing in their second or third games, young to college football I thought they acquitted themselves very well.  We’re striving to get better as fast as we can.”

Tom Brady was a guest captain Saturday for his alma mater Michigan. Harbaugh said Brady gave a “great message” going through the “position groups” and letting them know they were expected to play as the greats have played at that position in the past at Michigan.

Harbaugh added, “Tom Brady has a great arm, he can rip it.”

Michigan opens the Big Ten season next Saturday against Penn State at Michigan Stadium.


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