Welcome to this week's Dean's List segment, where we'd have anxiety too if we were Isaiah Thomas. Sure, he ruined a great playing career with a terrible coaching career, but that's no excuse to overdose on sleeping pills and then pin the blame on his teenage daughter.
• It's been a tough season for Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel. The Scarlet Knights' offense could only muster 39 points in the team's first three Big East games this season and entering Saturday's contest against No. 17 Pittsburgh, Teel had thrown three touchdowns and seven interceptions. The senior quarterback was playing so poorly that his own fans booed him and he took a swing at his teammate. But one game can change a season. In Rutgers' stunning 54-34 victory over the Panthers on Saturday, Teel threw for a school-record six touchdowns, five of which came in the first half. Of course, the game was played in Pittsburgh, so Teel didn't have to hear the hometown boo-birds. It'll be interesting to see how the Piscataway crowd greets Teel when the Scarlet Knights take on Syracuse in their next game.
• Minnesota was pretty much a unanimous pick to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten this season. This is a program that won just one game last season and finished with the lowest-ranked defense in college football. But under second-year head coach Tim Brewster's guidance,the Golden Gophers have defied expectations. On Saturday, Minnesota beat Purdue 17-6, moving to7-1 on the season and jumping to No. 20 in the national rankings. Sophomore quarterback Adam Weber threw for 212 yards and rushed for 60, but the key to Minnesota's success was the suddenly-stingy defense, which knocked Purdue's starting quarterback Curtis Painter out of the game early and held the Boilermakers to 109 passing yards. The Golden Gophers' next big test comes next week against Northwestern, another team that's poo-pooing the tinsel of popular acclaim.
• Somebody upstairs is looking out for James Madison. The top-ranked team in Division I-AA won its second consecutive game in dramatic fashion. One week after beating Richmond on a 69-yard punt return with one second left in the game, the Dukes were losing to No. 7 Villanova by two with 4.3 seconds to go. JMU coach Mickey Matthews chose to throw for the end zone rather than attempt a 52-yard field goal in swirling winds. Quarterback Rodney Landers dropped back and lofted a Hail-Mary into the end zone with no time left in the game. Caught in the wind, the ball nipped a defender's fingers and bounced off a helmet before landing in wide receiver Bosco Williams' hands. With the miraculous catch, James Madison won the game 23-19, proving God is either a George Mason football fan or just likes purple.
• Here's an issue Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse men's basketball team don't have to deal with -- fetal gestation. For the second time in two years, the Syracuse women's basketball team has a pregnant member. Back-up point guard Cintia Johnson will forgo her senior season while awaiting her child's January birth. The five-foot-four hard-nosed defender started every game during the 2006-07 campaign, but was relegated to back-up duties last season when Tasha Harris took over the point. You might remember that back in April, 2007, former Syracuse forward Fantasia Goodwin gave birth to a baby girl after playing through her pregnancy. Johnson, on the other hand, has chosen to concentrate on her classes so she can graduate in December and "focus on family."
• Light poles, stops signs, cars, parking meters, one-way-street signs, newspaper boxes -- this is the list of items exuberant Penn State fans celebrating their football team's victory over Ohio State on Saturday night destroyed. After the Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes 13-6, a celebration erupted in "Beaver Canyon," a strip of bars in downtown State College. When people started tossing shoes, water, toilet paper, pots and pans from balconies down onto the street, police in riot gear used mace to disperse the crowd. No one is really sure why a victory on the football field causes certain fans to riot, but Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon has an idea: "Sometimes there aren't a lot of answers when there are 25-cent beers and one-dollar Jell-O shots."
• I was in the supermarket the other day and I saw a guy stuffing a chicken down his pants. He didn't hide his poultry very well. In fact, he looked exactly like a guy with a chicken down his pants and, while I was checking out, supermarket security nabbed the shoplifter. That was dumb, but not as dumb as the three Nevada basketball players who were picked up for shoplifting from a sporting goods store and suspended from the team just one day before the season started. Starting guard Brandon Fields, a six-foot-four junior who was the Wolf Pack's third-leading scorer last season with 12.4 ppg, and two freshman were charged with petty larceny, which is fancy legal speak for theft of an item worth less than $250. No word yet on what the Nevada players were caught stealing. My guess is it wasn't a chicken...
• For nearly two years, the mighty Bowdoin field hockey team hadn't lost a single game. The Polar Bears hadn't suffered defeat since the 2006 NCAA Tournament, winning 31-straight since then. But all good things must come to an end and last Saturday, Trinity College halted Bowdoin's winning streak, beating the Polar Bears 2-0. The loss also knocked Bowdoin out of the top ranking in D-III for the first time this season and broke the team's 39-game home-field winning streak that dated all the way back to October of 2004. So how does a team that doesn't lose deal with losing? Pretty well. In its first game after the defeat, Bowdoin destroyed Colby 8-1.
• It's tougher than it seems being a high-school basketball recruit. As a teenager, not only do you have to deal with puberty and a wide array of vultures looking to make a few bucks off of your potential, but you've got to weather the ever-shifting nature of college coaching. Abdul Gaddy, a high-rated point guard out of Tacoma, Washington, thought he was going to Arizona next year to play for legendary coach Lute Olson. That'd be awesome. What young baller wouldn't want to play for a coach who has more Pac-10 wins than any other coach in history? But when Olson took last season off, Gaddy decommitted. When Olson announced he was returning to the bench, though, Gaddy recommitted. Now that Olson has abruptly retired for good, the six-foot-three guard has to weigh his options a third time. Gaddy's also considering UCLA and Washington, but says there is no timetable for making his final decision. No kidding there's no timetable! It's like Gaddy's asked a girl to the prom three times and each time she answered differently before finally deciding to just stay home and eat pizza.
Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, I'm trying to get that Oprah. Contact The Dean's List at Jacob.Osterhout@gmail.com.