Justin Beaver. His name alone would be enough to garner recognition, but it was the running back's on-field performance in Wisconsin-Whitewater's 31-21 win over Mount Union in the D-III championship that's earned him this week's Dean's List Player of the Week. A mere two days after winning the Gagliardi Trophy, given to the best player in D-III, Beaver ran for 249 yards and one touchdown to help the Warhawks end Mount Union's 37-game winning streak and deny the Purple Raiders their 10th title in 15 years. (The last two of those titles came at the expense of UW-Whitewater.) OK, so Beaver -- who stands at 5-foot-9 and a mere 200 pounds -- also fumbled twice, but one of those fumbles was recovered by his own team in the end zone for a touchdown and the other was long forgotten by the time Beaver rumbled down the field for a 66-yard run with only minutes remaining to seal the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for his Warhawks.
While it might be a quiet week in college basketball and D-I college football, due to finals and a frustrating one-month vacation that the BCS imposes, it's been a championship week in a slew of other sports and divisions. This week's Dean's List Team of the Week goes to all those newly crowned champions out there. It goes to Appalachian State for dominating Delaware 49-21 on its way to winning their third straight Football Championship Subdivision title. It goes to the Penn State women's volleyball team for beating up on Stanford and winning its second national title and 26th-consecutive victory. It goes to the Valdosta State football team for overcoming a 14-3 halftime deficit to beat Northwest Missouri State 25-20 and win the D-II Championship. It goes to UW-Whitewater football for finally knocking off juggernaut Mount Union and claiming the D-III championship. It goes to Carroll College, which beat Sioux Falls 17-9 to win the NAIA championship. And finally, it goes to Wake Forest for knocking off Ohio State 2-1 in the D-I men's soccer finals. It's like my sandwich artist says, no matter the sport of the level of competition, a championship is a championship is a championship.
Back in 2006, Tyson Gentry was a third-year walk-on punter on the Ohio State football team. But don't let the fact that he was a punter fool you. Gentry was an athletic kid so coach Jim Tressel asked him to try out as a wide receiver. Then disaster struck. During a spring scrimmage, Gentry went up for a pass and landed awkwardly on his neck, breaking a vertebra and damaging his spinal cord. He has not been able walk since. According to an e-mail rumor, Tressel saw Gentry waiting to use a popular workout machine in the OSU weight room. When Gentry told his old coach that the $6,000 machine was one of the few he could still use, Tressel promptly went out and bought his former player one. Well, it turns out that the e-mail wasn't exactly true -- but it wasn't that far off either. Tressel denied that he bought the machine for Gentry, (the NCAA surely wouldn't support such generous acts of kindness), but he did have one of his conditioning coaches send an inquiry to the company that made the machine. The company took heart and sent one of the machines to Gentry. "In all those e-mails I look like a good guy, but it was just the idea that was my good part," Tressel said. What's going on in the world? A caring and generous company giving away a product and not making a profit? Hard to believe.
With his Aggies sitting at No. 12 in the polls with an 8-1 record, Texas A&M basketball coach Mark Turgeon should be pleased, but all's not well in College Station. Despite the team's fast start, which included a victory over Ohio State to win the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament, the Aggies can't seem to sell out their home gymnasium. So far this season, an average of only 9,098 fans have filled the 12,500-seat Reed Arena for the men's games. A&M has even gone so far as to offer $5 tickets, but with little success. Now the ball coach is speaking out. "I can't believe we don't have more people coming out to watch this team play after what they did in New York in the NIT," Turgeon said. It's sad, but this really shouldn't be that much of a surprise. The Aggies were 18-1 at home last year and they still could only muster an average of 9,812 fans, and the women's attendance was even worse. Last season, the women's team won a share of the Big 12 regular-season title and only averaged 4,442 fans. Now we're not experts, but here's an idea -- build a smaller arena.
Not too long ago, Chad Friehauf was a very good football player. In 2004, as quarterback for Colorado School of Mines, he set D-II season records for passing yards (4,213) and total offense (4,878) on his way to winning the Harlon Hill Trophy, given to the best D-II football player in the nation. In 2005, Friehauf was signed as a free agent by the Denver Broncos and played in one preseason game before being released. So what's the 6-foot-7 quarterback doing now that he's off the football field? He's back at his old college, on the basketball court. Two years after graduating, Friehauf has returned to Mines to pursue another degree and take full advantage of his remaining three years of basketball eligibility. Lucky guy. He gets to go through college twice, once as a football star and once as a basketball player. I wonder if the cheerleaders still remember him.
My how the mighty fall. Perennial hockey powerhouse Boston University was the Hockey East champ in 2006 and now, just two years later, they're stuck in the conference cellar with a 4-10-2 record. The Terriers have only three conference wins this season and are tied for last place in Hockey East with lowly Merrimack. And it's not the offense that's to blame. BU leads the conference in scoring with 56 goals on the season. But the defense has given up 59 goals, 23 in the third period alone, the most of any team in Hockey East. This could have something to do with the three-goaltender carousel BU has guarding the net. Or it could just be karma coming back to haunt the Terriers for recently imposing a draconian swearing policy at all athletic events that handcuffs loyal fans and keeps the cheers sweet and positive.
There's never a good reason to get suspended from you school's football team, but there are certainly a few ways that are dumber than others. Take for example, Colgate star running back Jordan Scott and wide receiver David Morgan, who are facing felony burglary charges after breaking into a dorm room on campus, rifling through a desk drawer and then running out when confronted by two female residents. Apparently, the two bandits just walked into the dorm and started trying doors until they found one unlocked. Then they searched through the room before getting caught. Now this would be pretty dumb for anyone to do, but Scott isn't just anyone. He leads the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing with 1,875 yards. What could have possibly been in that desk drawer that was worth throwing away your football career? Paper clips?
Talk about underestimating the size of your fan base. When the University of Hawaii found out it was going to play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans the school decided that it would not be able sell its allotment of 17,500 tickets and so it handed over 4,000 to Georgia, which was all too happy to accept the tickets. Hawaii simply had no idea how many fans would want to travel the 4,095 miles to see the nation's only unbeaten team. After all, this is Hawaii's first bowl game outside the Aloha State since 1992. Oops! The remaining 13,500 tickets sold out in two days, leaving many Warrior season-ticket holders frustrated. Well, after much begging and pleading, Hawaii has received an additional one thousand tickets to the Sugar Bowl, which should placate most of those angry fans, at least until the Bulldogs run all over the Warriors, making a mockery of the BCS system.
In his 33 years of coaching, Rick Pitino thought he'd seen it all. He's coached the likes of Walter McCarty, Antoine Walker and Ron Mercer. So when a player gets kicked off his team, as Louisville forward Derrick Caracter was last week, you know that something is seriously wrong. Pitino is not just going with a gut reaction. In fact, ever since Caracter, heralded as one of the nation's best recruits, showed up at Freedom Hall last year, it seems like he's has been getting on Pitino's bad side. He was briefly sent home during his freshman year to address personal issues and earlier this season he had to sign a contract in order for Pitino to play him. Shockingly, Caracter couldn't abide by the terms of the contract, specifically a curfew violation, and he's been suspended indefinitely from the team. If a player can't get along with the ultimate player's coach, then it's safe to assume he might be lacking in character. Get it? Caracter lacks character ...
There's no substitute for a college degree. A national championship can't replace it and a Super Bowl ring certainly can't take its place. Just ask Joe Namath who graduated from the University of Alabama this weekend, 42 years after leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship. Broadway Joe now has a bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies, which will get you far in today's world. And it wasn't easy either. By his own admission, Namath had a hard time sitting down to study. His female teachers had a tough time, too. The Dean's List isn't too sure how to properly use the word "gah-gah" but, apparently, the female staff members at Alabama "went gah-gah" over the old ball player. Oh Joe, you sly devil. Now, all you've got to do is work on your sideline interviewing skills and you'll be fully prepared to face the challenges of today's face-paced world.