Welcome to this week's championship edition of The Dean's List, dedicated to Slingin' Sammy Baugh, a two-time All-America quarterback and star third baseman at TCU, who died last week at the age of 94.
• Here's my new favorite name in college football, Gartrell -- as in Colorado State running back Gartrell Johnson, who ran for 285 yards and added 90 more receiving yards in a 40-35 victory over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. The name "Gartrell" just rolls off the tongue, much like the running back rolled off Bulldog defenders on Saturday. Gartrell set the record for rushing yards in a bowl game by a CSU player and moved into second place on CSU's single-season rushing yards list with 1,476. Gartrell's teammates call him "The Predator," probably because of the dreads flowing out of the back of his helmet, but I'm going to stick with Gartrell. That's a sweet name for a sweet running back.
• On October 11th, just seven games into coach Mike London's first season, his Richmond Spiders lost to James Madison on a heart-breaking punt return with one second left in the game. The loss dropped the team's record to 4-3 and would have crushed the will of your average football team. The Spiders, however, are not your average team. In fact, they're somewhat extraordinary. Richmond won its next eight games to earn itself a spot in the Football Championship Subdivision national title game against the heavily-favored Montana Grizzlies. Then, on Friday evening, the Spiders completed their Cinderella story, crushing Montana 24-7 to claim the school's first ever FCS national championship. This is good news for all those people out there (like me) who are barely hovering above .500 in the all-important game of life. Take this to heart. You, too, can be a champion.
• If the Penn State women's volleyball team were a racehorse, I'd call it "Superior Supremacy." After winning last season's national championship, the Nittany Lions have not only continued their success this season, but improved upon it. This year, the Nittany Lions boast a 38-0 match record, 114-2 set record and have held opponents to 20 or fewer points in all but 18 of 116 sets. What's more, they have an NCAA-record 64-match win streak and have made the NCAA tournament 28 consecutive seasons. On Saturday, Penn State beat Stanford 25-20, 26-24, 25-23 to win its second straight NCAA D-I volleyball title. The loss was Stanford's third-straight in the championship game and second defeat in a row to Penn State. To conclude, if the Stanford women's volleyball team were a racehorse, I'd call it "Third Time's No Charm."
• Benjamin Franklin once said, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." He obviously didn't have the forethought to consider the Stagg Bowl. (Nostradamus, on the other hand, could see this coming 500 years ago...) The Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks and Mount Union Purple Raiders have faced off in the D-III football title game each of the last four years. But while the Stagg Bowl contenders remain constant, the outcome tends to vary. In the first two games, Mount Union prevailed. Last season, Wisconsin-Whitewater won for the first time. And this year, the Raiders reclaimed the title, beating the Warhawks 31-26 on Saturday to win their 10th Division III football championship in the last 16 seasons. Mount Union running back Nate Kmic, who has run for more yards and scored more touchdowns than any other player in NCAA football history, rushed for 88 yards and one touchdown on Saturday to finish his career with 8,074 yards.
• Carroll College entered Saturday's NAIA football championship game with a 28-game win streak. The Fighting Saints were so dominant that they'd won five of the past six titles. But the Sioux Falls Cougars were unconvinced. Sure, the South Dakota school had lost to the Saints in all four of their previous meetings, including last year's title game, but Carroll was playing with its third-string quarterback and the Cougars felt that their defense could take advantage of the young quarterback's inexperience, which is exactly what they did. On a wet cold field in western Georgia, Sioux Falls pushed around the Saints, holding the former-champs to 194 yards of total offense and forcing four turnovers en route to a 23-7 victory. Back in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, better known as the "Best Little City in America," Cougar fans jubilantly flooded the streets, shredding their clothes in celebration of the Cougars' third NAIA football championship. Okay, that's actually not true. It's physically impossible considering the temperature in Sioux Falls on Saturday reached close to 25 degrees below zero.
• Here's a good joke: What do five straight losses get a Duke football coach? A contract extension. Get it? David Cutcliffe does. The Blue Devils' football coach, whose team failed to win a game in November, received a two-year contract extension on Sunday. Now, to be fair, Duke did win four games this season, which equals the total number of victories from the previous four seasons combined. And the Blue Devils did play 10 bowl-eligible teams this year and faced the second-strongest schedule in the nation, according to the Sagarin computer rankings. But is it right to reward a man who has taken a horrendous football team and simply made it less bad?
• On Wednesday, former Indiana University guard Eric Gordon told the Indianapolis Star that drug use by his teammates caused a rift on the basketball team last season. The entire state of Indiana sobbed tears of disappointment and the media ran large headlines about drug use at IU. Then, Gordon had a change of heart and spent the rest of the week attempting to extenuate his previous claim. He told the press he was "going to move on from here" and "it's all in the past." Gordon even met with former IU coach Kelvin Sampson, who Gordon claimed was too focused on winning to stop the team's drug use. But apparently they didn't talk about their shared time in Bloomington. If Gordon and Sampson didn't talk about the allegations, what did they talk about? Here's an idea. Sampson: "Eric, I'm disappointed in you." Gordon: "Disappointed in me? You're the one who never calls anymore."
• Leon Patton had a good thing going for a while in Manhattan, Kan. In his first two seasons as running back at Kansas State, he rushed for 999 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was the future of the program. Now, he's not even on the team. Former Wildcat football coach Ron Prince kicked Patton off the squad after his arrest this summer on outstanding warrants for misdemeanor theft (he stole two video games from a Wal-Mart) and failure to appear. But the Leon Patton story only gets worse. On Friday, a Kansas judge ruled that Patton should be held for arraignment for child abuse. Back in July, police claim Patton "unlawfully and feloniously and intentionally shook" his 2-month-old son. The child suffered a severe brain injury. If convicted on the child abuse charge, Patton could receive a sentence of up to 31 months in prison.
• Safety Emanuel Cook might have been the best defender on the University of South Carolina football team. For the last two seasons, he has led the Gamecocks in tackles and, this year, he was named to the AP All-SEC second team. There's no doubt the kid has talent. As for brains, we're not so sure. Cook has been declared academically ineligible for South Carolina's upcoming Outback Bowl match-up with Iowa. He failed to pass the minimum six hours required by the NCAA to be eligible for a bowl game. For those of you who have been out of college for a while, six hours of credit is not a lot, but it is apparently more than Cook could handle. Not surprisingly, Gamecock coaches say they expect Cook to declare for the NFL draft and forego his senior year at South Carolina.
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