Wed Dec 21 08:06am EST
Making the morning rounds.
• I hope they auctioned the rights to wield the wrecking ball. Washington brought the fantasies of hundreds of West Coast quarterbacks to life Tuesday when it demolished the signature overhang on Husky Stadium, the first phase in a $250 million makeover that will revamp the stadium's lower bowl, remove the track around the field and bring fans closer to the sidelines. (At least this time, the collapse was intentional.) Construction will force the Huskies will relocate to CenturyLink Field for the entire 2012 season. [Seattle Times]
• There goes the neighborhood. Last year, Marcus Coker was the breakout star of Iowa's Insight Bowl upset over Missouri, churning out 219 yards and two touchdowns in an MVP turn. This year, he'll be watching the Insight Bowl from the sidelines after getting hit with a suspension Tuesday for an undisposed "violation of the UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct." For all intents and purposes, Coker is the Hawkeye running game: As a sophomore, he was second in the Big Ten with 1,384 yards, on a league-best 23.3 carries per game. No other Iowa running back had 23 carries for the entire season.
"It is unfortunate that Marcus Coker will not be with the team for our bowl game," said coach Kirk Ferentz in a release. "During the next 10 days, we will focus and continue to prepare the players that are able to participate." At tailback, that means four freshmen — Mika'il McCall, De'Andre Johnson, Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri — who have barely seen the field outside of blowout wins over Tennessee Tech, UL-Monroe and Indiana. Then again, that's kind of how they discovered Coker in the first place. [Des Moines Register]
• Getting out easy. Todd Graham's new contract with Arizona State calls for the university to cover $1 million of Graham's buyout at Pittsburgh, which appears to be the amount of the entire buyout. Graham left Pitt looking for its third new coach in a little more than a year last week, and left Panther players seething in his wake. [Arizona Republic]
• Stand by your Joe. Nearly 400 former Penn State players from the 1950s onward have signed a letter in support of Joe Paterno, arguing that over the course of his career Paterno embodied the "values that make Penn State a great institution today," beyond the football program. "Many in the Penn State community view the public's rush to judgment of Joe as a rush to judgment of everything Penn State," the letter says. "We ask for due process for Joe Paterno and the Penn State community. Based on the immense quality of Joe's character and the absence of all the facts, we stand in support of Joe and Penn State."
• Place your bets accordingly. As a public service, EA Sports has formalized a dorm-room tradition by simulating all five BCS bowls using "NCAA Football 12 Technology," and posting the results to YouTube. Their highly scientific findings: Clemson will beat West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, 38-35; Michigan will beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, 31-14; Oregon will beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, 42-35; Oklahoma State will beat Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-21; and Alabama will avenge its special teams failures by beating LSU in the BCS Championship Game, 20-17, on — naturally — a last-second field goal. Is there even any point in playing the actual games now? [EA Sports]
• Quote of the Day. "Our equipment guys do a great job with washing everything." — Illinois defensive coordinator/interim head coach Vic Koenning, after starting fullback Jay Prosch was hospitalized with a staph infection. [Chicago Tribune]
Quickly… Charlie Weis undergoes successful hip replacement surgery. … Florida's new quarterbacks coach is "a swashbuckling young man." … The American Cancer Society and other public health organizations ask the Orange Bowl to drop Camacho Cigars as a sponsor. …. Texas has not had professional relations with the program. … Ellis Johnson's wife can vouch for his energy level. … And in case you missed it Tuesday night, this catch by Marshall's Jermaine Kelson was pretty incredible. It also came at the expense of a defender named "Jose Cheeseborough."