Friday, July 26, 2013

Stoops' Contract Extended through 2020

Sooners' head coach has guided OU Football to 149 wins, 14 straight bowl berths.

July 25, 2013

NORMAN, Okla. -- University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced today that the contract of head football coach Bob Stoops will be extended through the 2020 season.

Boren will recommend that the OU Board of Regents take formal action at their September meeting.

"We took this action to express the University's deep appreciation for Bob Stoops' work," Boren said. "In my opinion, he ranks among the very best nationally in the way he combines his ability as a coach with high ethical standards. I greatly value and enjoy my association with Bob and feel extremely fortunate that at the University of Oklahoma we have the longest continuous tenure of the current head football coach, athletics director and president.

"The progress made in our football program since Bob took the helm in 1999 is remarkable. He has truly revived one of the great college football traditions, while adding his own enhancements, and elevating the profile and competition in the Big 12 Conference. As president, it is particularly meaningful to me that we have a coach who has accomplished so much and with such high personal integrity. His strong character represents the best of the values of our university. I'm always proud when he represents the University of Oklahoma to the nation."

OU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joe Castiglione cited Stoops' leadership and the foundation he has developed for future growth.

"Anytime I look at Bob Stoops on our sideline surrounded by our student-athletes and coaches, I'm reminded of the truly exceptional coach he has become," Castiglione said. "Whether it's his inspirational leadership, his passion for the game or consistently putting his team in the best position to be successful, his character and steely resolve continue to make him the right person to lead us to success in the future.

"Coach Stoops has become one of college football's iconic figures yet he is a selfless man who remains focused on winning championships adding to our program's great legacy. Against that backdrop he has also quietly embraced the role of serving others and encourages similar values amongst his players and staff. I am proud to have worked with him continuously for 15 years and excited we can extend our relationship with him. We will continue to build on the incredibly strong foundation and tradition which exists at the University of Oklahoma and pursue the many great things we want to accomplish in the coming years."

Stoops, the only active coach with a winning percentage higher than 80 percent with 14 uninterrupted seasons on the FBS level, said the relationships he enjoys at Oklahoma are special.

"I appreciate the University's commitment to our program and me," Stoops said. "Most coaches dream of working in the kind of situation that exists at Oklahoma, especially with leaders like President Boren and Joe Castiglione. We're proud of what we have accomplished to this point and look forward to achieving a lot more."

Stoops, who reached 100 coaching victories faster than any NCAA Division I coach in the modern era, is about to enter his 15th season at OU. During that time, he has compiled a record of 149-37 (.801) with a BCS National Championship in 2000 and eight Big 12 Conference titles. His record in Big 12 games is 99-23 and he is 81-5 at this home field.

Stoops' program has produced 65 NFL Draft picks, 33 First-Team All-Americans and 18 national award winners, including two Heisman recipients.

All of his teams have appeared in bowl games and each of the home games during his tenure have registered sell-out attendance.

Friday, July 19, 2013

USA Today names Montee Ball one of NFL's "Rookies to Watch"

July 19, 2013

Rookies are part of the NFL's fabric, and their impacts on their new teams is often significant. USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis highlights one per club worth watching in 2013.) EJ Manuel, Bills: He was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2013 draft. Manuel only needs to beat out Cardinals castoff Kevin Kolb (4) to earn the starting job in Buffalo's first season under new coach Doug Marrone.

Matt Elam (pictured) and Arthur Brown, Ravens: Elam (Round 1) and Brown (Round 2) have the enviable tasks of taking over for FS Ed Reed and ILB Ray Lewis, respectively, veterans who have moved on amid paths likely to end in Canton. Baltimore’s defense may or may not be better in 2013, but it will surely be faster.

Le’Veon Bell, Steelers: Pittsburgh only ran the ball 412 times in 16 games in 2012 (20th in the NFL) while Bell carried the rock 382 times in 13 games for Michigan State. Look for him to be the man to revitalize a once-formidable ground assault.

Montee Ball has a good chance at taking over as the Broncos’ lead running back.

Montee Ball, Broncos: Denver didn’t have many weaknesses in 2012, but an inability to milk the clock in the postseason helped lead to the stunning ouster by the Ravens. With RB Willis McGahee now on the street, look for second-rounder Montee Ball to emerge as the bellcow -- provided he can handle pass protection in front of QB Peyton Manning.

Tavon Austin, Rams: Expect St. Louis to get creative in finding ways to put the ball into the hands of Austin, who caught 114 passes for 1,289 yards and rushed for 643 yards last season at West Virginia. He should also get a shot to produce as a returner and seems to already be on the rookie of the year short list among preseason prognosticators.

Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals: Is he a corner? A safety? A returner? A Honey Badger? He's distancing himself from the infamous nickname even as Arizona asks him to embrace a hybrid safety/nickel role in the hopes Mathieu can make the game-changing plays he produced for LSU in 2011. And he might give former Bayou Bengal teammate Patrick Peterson (21) a rest on special teams, too.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings: He’s one of Minnesota’s three Round 1 choices (the first time a team has had such a trio since 2001). Though Patterson's receiving skills need polish, defenses will have to respect his deep speed. Even if he doesn't make an instant impact for QB Christian Ponder, look for him to make his presence felt as a return man.

Eddie Lacy (pictured, 27) and Johnathan Franklin, Packers: Green Bay has never ranked better than 14th running the ball since QB Aaron Rodgers replaced Brett Favre in 2008. Yes, the team has clearly fielded offenses that shock and awe, but the arrival of the rookie runners could provide balance that's frequently been lacking, especially at playoff time.

Zach Ertz, Eagles: While at Stanford, the tight end caused plenty of headaches for former Oregon coach Chip Kelly. Now they've joined forces in Philadelphia, and Ertz could quickly emerge as one of the weapons in Kelly's highly anticipated offense.

Manti Te’o, Chargers: All eyes in San Diego will be on the headline-making linebacker this season. Can he hold up against speedy AFC West RBs Jamaal Charles and Darren McFadden? Will he get abused in coverage by Peyton Manning and others? Will he be embraced by his teammates? Stay tuned (but also keep an eye on T D.J. Fluker and WR Keenan Allen).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

NC Sports clients named to Big Ten Network's All-Big Ten Offense of 2000's

Dienhart: My All-Big Ten Offense of 2000′s

By Tom Dienhart

July 16, 2013

The 2000s saw plenty of great players in the Big Ten. One, in fact, won the Heisman: Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (2006), who arguably is the top player from the 2000s. Over the next couple days, I’m going to take a look at the best of the best in the Big Ten since the calendar flipped to 2000. First up: Offense.

Before I get to the list, I have a couple rules: 1. A player had to play at least two seasons in the 2000s to be considered; 2. Nebraska players prior to 2011 are not eligible.


WR: Braylon Edwards, Michigan (2001-04). The Biletnikoff Award winner as a senior with 97 catches and 1,330 yards, he finished with 252 receptions, 3,541 yards receiving and 39 TD grabs in an illustrious career in Ann Arbor.

WR: Taylor Stubblefield, Purdue (2001-04). He left West Lafayette as the NCAA career leader with 325 catches. He also had 3,629 career receiving yards and 21 TDs.

TE: Dallas Clark, Iowa (1999-2002). He capped his career by winning the Mackey Award as a senior, ending a career that saw him make 81 catches for 1,281 yards, 8 TDs in just two seasons as tight end. Clark had 43 catches for 742 yards with 4 scores in 2002.

QB: Troy Smith, Ohio State (2003-06). There were some good signal-callers in the 2000s, but Smith gets the nod based on his 2006 Heisman season in which he led the Buckeyes to the BCS title game.

RB: Mike Hart, Michigan (2004-07). The diminutive Hart rushed 1,015 times for 5,040 yards, both Michigan records, and 41 TDs. Hart placed fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2006 and ran for at least 100 yards 28 times and 200 yards five times, both Michigan all-time marks.

RB: Montee Ball, Wisconsin (2009-12). The 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and 2012 Doak Walker Award recipient, Ball scored 38 touchdowns in 2011 (one behind Barry Sanders’ FBS record) and finished his career with an NCAA record 83 scores. He also ran for a total of 5,140 yards.

OL: Robert Gallery, Iowa (1999-2003). He began his career at tight end before morphing into an all-time great at tackle. As a senior in 2003, Gallery was a consensus All-American, the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and the Outland Trophy winner. He was the No. 2 overall selection in the draft.

OL: Joe Thomas, Wisconsin (2003-06). The massive tackle returned for his senior season and helped the Badgers have the second-highest scoring offense and the fourth-best rushing offense in the Big Ten. Thomas was first-team All-Big Ten, a consensus All-American and the Outland Trophy winner before being picked No. 3 overall.

OL: Greg Eslinger, Minnesota (2002-05). As a senior, the center won the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award, the Outland Trophy and the Rimington Trophy. Not bad for a kid from North Dakota who had no FBS offers.

OL: Levi Brown, Penn State (2002-06). He arrived as a defensive lineman but flipped sides of the ball. Brown became a dominant blocker and eventual No. 5 overall selection in the NFL draft.

OL: Jake Long, Michigan (2003-07). As a senior, Long was a unanimous All-American and won the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award for a second year in a row. The tackle subsequently was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

K: Mike Nugent, Ohio State (2001-04). He broke or tied 22 school records. Among them: notching the most points in a career (356). He connected on 72-of-88 field-goal attempts and 140-of-143 extra-point attempts.

Karl Klug camp gives back to Caledonia

By Kyle Deckelbaum

July 18, 2013


Two years after the Tennessee Titans took him in the fifth round, defensive lineman Karl Klug is back on the very same practice field he played on.

"This is awesome," Karl said. "This is where our roots are."

"I knew they'd come back and do something like this at some point," said Mary Klug-Silha, his mom.

Karl is hosting the first-annual Klug Skills and Drills Camp with his twin brother, Kevin. Both are giving more than their knowledge of the game.

Proceeds from the camp go towards rebuilding the Caledonia community pool in honor of their second cousin, Alexis Klug.
She died of leukemia when she was seven years old.

"That's why we're doing it, is to raise money for the pool," Kevin said. "And they'll be bricks in her honor, so her name will always be present and family will always be reminded of her."

"I think about her every day," Karl said. "It's just really too bad that someone was taken from us at such a young age. It's really not fair."

"I'm proud of them," Mary said. "As I have been for years."

The Klugs aren't in town very long, but they hope their gift lasts for years.

"It's only right for us to give back," Karl said. "Thank you for getting us started. Thank you for getting us off on the right foot"

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wentzville's Montee Ball Holding Autograph Fundraiser July 20

The event is raising money for a local brain tumor patient.

By Tamara Duncan

July 12, 2013

Wentzville's own son, football star Montee Ball will be signing autographs on Saturday, July 20 in order to raise money for a local brain tumor patient.

The fundraising event is being held at Wentzville's Progress Park banquet hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Fans can bring their own items for Ball to sign or they can purchase a picture or have their picture taken with him. Prices range from $15 to $50.

Ball was a standout player for Wentzville's Timberland High School, going on to play for the University of Wisconsin before he was drafted by the Denver Broncos this year.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

All-time Indy Colts tight ends: Dallas Clark and Marcus Pollard

June 29th, 2013

By Mike Chappell

Dallas Clark forged a record-setting career. It included a season for the ages.

Marcus Pollard had a career that defied the odds. It included an infectious smile and big-play capabilities.

Nice pair.

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy was associated with each, and impressed by both.

“Marcus was a very good player,’’ he said. “Dallas Clark was special, a unique guy.

“He was Marcus Pollard (before Pollard joined the NFL); in my mind just a little bit better than Marcus Pollard.’’

Clark and Pollard took drastically different paths to the Colts and NFL, but the final destination is the same. They’re the tight ends on The Star’s all-time Indianapolis Colts team.

Clark was the Colts’ 2003 first-round draft pick, the 24th overall selection. He established himself as an elite prospect in his final season at Iowa by winning the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end.

Pollard was What have we got to lose? acquisition. Then-general manager Bill Tobin signed him in January 1995 as a free agent with intriguing athleticism and potential, but no real football pedigree. Pollard averaged 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds as a power forward at Bradley University.

“They were real similar,’’ long-time Colts assistant coach Clyde Christensen said. “They both could block. They both could hold up at the point of attack and they were special with their athleticism.

“They could make big plays at tight end.’’

In nine seasons, Clark set the standard for Colts tight ends. He ranks No. 1 in club history with 427 receptions and 46 touchdowns, and No. 2 to Pro Football Hall of Famer John Mackey with 4,887 yards. He also owns club single-season records for tight ends with 100 catches (2009), 1,106 yards (’09) and 11 touchdowns (’07).

The 427 receptions rank No. 4 among all players, trailing Marvin Harrison (1,102), Reggie Wayne (968) and Raymond Berry (631).

Clark’s 2009 season went down as one of the best in NFL history by a tight end and resulted in his only Pro Bowl appearance. He joined Tony Gonzalez as the only tight end with at least 100 receptions. At the time, his 1,106 yards were the 14th-most by a player at his position.

“Dallas just allowed you to do so much,’’ Christensen said. “People remember all of those good (statistical) years, but they forget how often we asked him to block defensive ends in pass protection.

“The only reason (Brandon) Stokley and (Austin) Collie and those guys were able to become great slot guys was because our tight ends did what they did. They were that fullback-type guy when we want to our three-wide package.’’

When Clark arrived in 2003, Pollard’s career with the Colts was winding down. It was a 10-year stint that saw Pollard appear in 146 games with 102 starts, and one that generated 263 receptions, 3,391 yards and 35 touchdowns. The receptions are No. 3 and the yards No. 4 in club history among tight ends.

The transition was natural and seamless. Pollard remained the team’s most productive tight end in 2003-04, but the blueprint was clear. As Clark began to emerge in the passing game, Pollard assumed a heavier workload as the blocking tight end.

It was similar to how the pairing of Pollard and Ken Dilger unfolded.

“Dilger was the tight end and Marcus was kind of Dallas Clark,’’ Dungy said. “After Dilger left, Marcus became the all-purpose tight end. His role diminished a little bit when we got Dallas and Dallas kind of took his role, like Marcus took Ken’s role.’’

Before becoming subservient to Clark, Pollard frequently flashed his big-play prowess. His 86-yard touchdown at New Orleans in 2001 is the sixth-longest reception in club history. He also had a 70-yard reception at Jacksonville in 2003 and a 50-yard TD at Miami in 2000.

In retrospect, Christensen remains most impressed with Pollard’s ability to make himself into an elite, consummate tight end.

“It was surprising because of the mentality of being able to play our game,’’ he said. “I wasn’t surprised he could become a great passing-game tight end. The surprising thing was he was able to learn the in-line skills like he did as fast as he did.’’

Christensen noted the personnel staff is adept at finding a tight end with pass-catching skills, or one who excels as a blocker.

“But it’s so hard to find both in one guy, where he can hold up in-ling and he can be a real threat on the perimeter,’’ he said. “Dallas and Marcus gave us both.

“Then you add in the character and the fact they were probably two of the favorite locker room guys I’ve ever been around.’’

Ted Ginn Sr. and Chuck Kyle heading into Greater Cleveland Sports Hall together is a shared legacy

Ted Ginn Sr., pictured at a 2011 Glenville football game, won't give up or give in. He'll return to the sidelines this summer, and will be inducted with St. Ignatius' Chuck Kyle into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame in September.
Lisa DeJong, The Plain Dealer

By Tim Warsinskey, The Plain Dealer

July 1, 2013

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Winning is not a legacy in high school sports. I've known coaches who've won and were disliked or disrespected by their athletes, and with good reason.

Chuck Kyle wins. Ted Ginn Sr. wins. They have between them 17 state championships in football and track, and more than 450 football victories.

Their paths have different starting points, but the finished products have so much in common beyond winning. Ginn's and Kyle's legacies are the young men they lead, the ones who love and respect their coach and carry his imprint into our community for years to come. It is entirely appropriate Kyle and Ginn will be inducted simultaneously into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame in September. The Hall made the announcement last week.

Kyle of St. Ignatius starts his day teaching the values of Chaucer and Shakespeare at the elite, all-boys Catholic school. If a kid can cut it there academically, it stands to reason he'll bring a good work ethic to practice. Half the battle already has been won.

St. Ignatius, of course, attracts some of Northeast Ohio's most promising student-athletes. Once they arrive at West 30th and Lorain, they benefit from outstanding coaches, and many have family support for individualized private training that polishes their talent.

That formula has produced 11 state football titles and one in track track for Kyle.

Ginn, of course, has a different situation at Glenville. He does draw elite student-athletes from across Cleveland to play at East 113th and St. Clair. During the day, many attend Ginn Academy, the all-boys school he founded, where discipline and academic standards are higher than other Cleveland schools. Once again, those who succeed there typically have the right makeup for athletics at Glenville.

The similarities with St. Ignatius end there. Glenville student-athletes have an entirely different set of circumstances, of course. Many come from single-parent homes with few financial resources, and live in sometimes dangerous neighborhoods. Ginn speaks so often of “saving kids' lives'' that it's easy to become numb to the term, but it's a constant reality for the children he mentors.

Ginn has been part of five state track titles, but not winning a football championship is viewed by close-minded fans as some kind of failure. It's a meaningless statistic. The failures that eat at Ginn are the kids he didn't reach, or didn't listen, and wind up in jail or worse.

“He’s changed so many lives that you can’t put a number on it,'' San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner told The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot before playing in this year's Super Bowl. Whitner counted himself among the saved.

What endures about Kyle and Ginn is they refuse to give up or give in. Each is in a position to retire, and scoffs at the notion. Despite serious health problems and missing the 2012 football season, Ginn will be back on the sideline this fall, and he has taken over once again as head track coach after several years in the background. Kyle thinks summer vacation is for summer school and minicamps, and he's headed for his 31st football season and 41st track season.

Inducting Kyle and Ginn into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame continues a long narrative of recognition the two receive, recognition that begins with leading high-profile football teams in a football town. If they were volleyball coaches, their impact would be just as great, but we wouldn't be having this conversation.

In a way, they represent hundreds who might never receive the same public appreciation, but also are doing the real work of educators that isn't measured by victories, trophies or state tests. When I think of Ginn, I also think of St. Vincent-St. Mary track coach Dan Lancianese and Kent Roosevelt football coach John Nemec. When I think of Kyle, I am reminded of Maple Heights volleyball coach Betsy Smerglia and Glenville girls basketball coach Renee Wright. They walk the same walk and endure the same headaches and heartaches as Kyle and Ginn.

Their task is to mold men and women, and the fact they continue to do so with such vigor, purpose and character, we're all better for it. That is their shared legacy.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Ohio State Football All Decade Team: Ted Ginn, Jr.

Ted Ginn Jr. housing a punt for six. - USA TODAY Sports

A handful of Ohio State's return specialists from the 2000s have made their way into program record books, but one stands out as truly exceptional.

By Jeanna Thomas

June 30, 2013

Return specialists can make or break a game with their level of effectiveness. In our final installment of the 2000s All-Decade Team series, let's look at the return specialists from 2000-2009 who had the most impact for the Buckeyes.

Nate Clements (1998-2000)
Clements was Ohio State's primary punt returner during his junior year at Ohio State, after which he declared for the draft. In that single year, he managed to secure a spot in Ohio State's record books, as well as establish himself as the punt return leader in the Big Ten that season. Clements returned 36 punts for 470 yards, averaging 13.1 yards per return, and scored one touchdown. Clements also returned one kickoff for 80 yards. Clements is fourth on the all-time single game punt return yards with 131 at Purdue in 2000. Clements is second on Ohio State's single season punt return yards list for his efforts in 2000. In 2000, Clements' punt return yards were the best in the Big Ten.

Maurice Hall (2001-2004)
Hall returned kicks throughout his Ohio State career, and he currently holds the top spot on Ohio State's all-time career kick return yards list with 1593 yards on 70 attempts. Hall also holds three spots in Ohio State's record books for the most kick return yards in a single season. His 2001 season total of 523 is the fifth-best in program history, his 487 return yards in 2004 are good for 9th on the list, and 434 kick return yards in 2002 place him at 14th on the list.

Ted Ginn, Jr. (2004-2006)
Ginn made his mark at Ohio State returning kicks and punts, with 900 career punt return yards and six touchdowns on 64 attempts, and 1012 kick return yards and two touchdowns on 38 attempts. He appears twice on Ohio State's all-time punt return yards per game list--his 123 punt return yards against That Team Up North in 2004 are good for 7th, and he is tied for 8th with Ray Small with 110 punt return yards at Indiana in 2005. Ginn's 900 career punt return yards are good for second in school history, and he tops the list for most single season punt return touchdowns with four in 2004, and career punt return touchdowns with six. Ginn was no slouch as a kick returner either, as his 1012 career kick return yards are good for second in program history, and his two kick return touchdowns share the top spot in the Ohio State record books with Lenny Willis and Dean Sensanbaugher's.

Ray Small (2006-2009)
Small had a lot of impact as a return specialist at Ohio State, with 790 yards and one touchdown on 78 punt returns and 715 yards and one touchdown on 34 kick returns. Small comes in fifth and tied for eight for single game punt returns, with 130 at Penn State in 2009, and 110 against That Team Up North in 2008. His total career punt return yards place him fourth all-time for the Buckeyes. On kick returns, Small is 9th all-time for career yards with 715. He is tied for 8th for single season kick return yards per attempt with 27.0 in 2009, and he's tied for tenth for the longest kick returns in program history with a 96 yard return against Wisconsin in 2009.

And the winner is...
Ted Ginn, Jr.

When you think of Ted Ginn, Jr., the first word that comes to mind may be "explosive." He set the bar high for his NCAA career as he established school and Big Ten – and at the time, NCAA – records with four punt return touchdowns in a single season during the 2004 season.
Ginn is in Ohio State's record books for his punt return yards per attempt in three separate games during the 2004 season–an average of 36.0 yard per punt return against Wisconsin is good for second all-time, 35.5 yards per return against Michigan State places him third on the list, and Ginn's 30.8 yards per punt return against Michigan are good for sixth on the list. His 2004 yards per punt return average place him first in Ohio State's program history with an average of 25.6.

Entering the 2005 season, many saw Ginn as a Heisman favorite. Ginn scored on a 100 yard kick return against Minnesota, and on a 62 yard punt return against Indiana, and had two other return scores negated due to penalties. His 532 total kick return yards in 2005 are good for fourth in school history, and his 29.6 yard average per attempt in 2005 lands him fifth in program history.

In 2006, Ginn's efforts as a return specialist further secured his status as one of the best in Ohio State's history, and the very best of the 2000s. His 440 kickoff return yards on 18 returns place Ginn 13th on the all-time single season list. Perhaps the most memorable play of his career came in the early moments of the BCS Championship Game that season, when Ginn scored on a 96 yard return on the opening kickoff.

Ginn's career punt return yards are good for third in the Big Ten since 2000, and his career yards per punt return, 14.1, top the NCAA during that timeframe. In 2004, Ginn's four punt return touchdowns were good for first in the Big Ten, and second in the NCAA. He remains first in Big Ten history with six career punt return touchdowns.

As a return specialist for the Buckeyes, Ginn was dynamic and explosive. His record-setting, game-changing performances earned him this spot on the Land-Grant Holy Land 2000s "All-Decade Team".

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