Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:
A real mouthful
Much has been made of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini’s recently uncovered profanity-laced tirade against Cornhusker fans — a tirade that took place two seasons ago after a blowout loss to Ohio State. Pelini was speaking off air to a radio announcer and was critical of fans, particularly those who had left the game early, and several sports reporters. Pelini has apologized several times for the heat-of-the moment outburst in which he used a lot of big-boy words. A lot. Pelini, who said he was aware the tape could haunt him one day, has been contrite and now appears to have the support of some of the university’s bigwigs. Good for him. Hopefully, the Big Red coward who released the tape to Deadspin.com (not coincidentally in the immediate aftermath of last week’s embarrasing loss to UCLA) has the courage to stand up and be accountable as well.
State of confusion
One of the most bizarre endings in recent memory took place in the desert in the wee hours of Sunday morning when Arizona State escaped with a 32-30 win over Wisconsin. The Sun Devils played a good game but they received a little help from their friends. And by their friends, we mean an incompetent group of officials. The Badgers were on the verge of completing a great comeback, driving to the ASU 13-yard line with 18 ticks left. There, Wisconsin QB Joel Stave tripped while taking a knee. He dropped the ball, where it was blown dead. A Sun Devil jumped on it as the clock ticked (he should have been whistled for delay of game) and as Wisconsin players frantically tried to line up to spike the ball to set up a winnng field goal, they were prevented by a slow-moving ref as the clock ran out. The apology from the Pac-12 probably isn’t sitting well in Madison.
Cause and effect
Pretty neat story out of the Big Ten, where a Michigan State fan came up with a unique way to answer a prank perpetrated by a fan of archrival Michigan. At last week’s Michigan State-Youngstown State game in East Lansing, a skywriting plane appeared over Spartan Stadium and dotted out the words “GO BLUE” — an obvious attempt to tweak the home crowd. Scott Westerman, a pilot and the executive director of MSU Alumni Association, figured rather than raising money to fund an air assault over Ann Arbor (I’m thinking “Go Sparty?”), he’d ask people to donate money to the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance. “I don’t fault the Michigan fan who did it, but felt like it would make sense to take our rivalry to a more produtive level,’’ Westerman, whose wife is a two-time ovarian cancer survivor, told MLive.com. By midweek, donations had reached nearly $10,000.
Sight to behold
Patrick Yarber may not have a rooting interest in Saturday’s Vanderbilt-UMass game Saturday in Foxborough, but one thing’s for sure, you should be rooting for Patrick Yarber. A 53-year-old sports junkie, Yarber is on a mission to see every Division 1 football venue. Gillette Stadium will be No. 122 of 125. Yarber’s quest comes with a sense of urgency as he has just 20 percent of his vision left as he suffers from both retinitis pigmentosa (which has robbed him of his peripheral vision) and macular degeneration (which has stolen much of his central vision). Despite these handicaps, Yarber maintains a positive attitude. “I’m so thankful for the vision that I have,’’ he told the Buffalo News last week when Yarber was in town to catch the Buffalo-Stony Brook game at UB Stadium. “I know there are people who have it worse than me. I’m very blessed to have had vision for 53 years.”