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Just when you thought college football's bowl situation couldn't get any wackier or more unwieldy, news comes Wednesday that the St. Petersburg Bowl -- formerly sponsored by magicJack and then Beef 'O' Brady's, in case you were worried about its past prestige -- will now be called the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl.
It was first reported by ESPN's Brett McMurphy. Even the web site of the game shows a new logo (right).
What is Bitcoin, in case you need a refresher course?
Well, Bitcoin's web site will tell you it's an "innovative payment network and a new kind of money." It was developed five years ago.
Most of us think of Bitcoin as a type of virtual currency. And how does the U.S. Treasury define that type of "money?" Well, let's take a look: "In contrast to real currency, 'virtual' currency is a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments, but does not have all the attributes of real currency. In particular, virtual currency does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction."
In other words, unless you are deep into it, Bitcoin is not real money -- which as Spencer Hall points out, is actually kind of appropriate in this case.
Most folks who heard about this early Wednesday reacted with the requisite snark and amazement. Even the Wikipedia page for the St. Petersburg Bowl read like this: "On June 18, it was announced that the game will be sponsored by Bitcoin. I'm serious. That's the funniest [redacted] thing ever."
So, to summarize, we have a type of "virtual" money sponsoring a bowl game. The jokes, the possibilities, the money itself ... everything at this point is limitless.
That ranks among the top five favorite headlines we've ever written on this blog. Per ESPN.com comes the tale of Tyler Sash, who played in the NFL for the Giants after playing his college ball for the Hawkeyes (our bold added for emphasis):
Former New York Giants safety Tyler Sash was arrested early Saturday morning in Iowa after leading police on a drunken scooter chase and being shot with a Taser. Sash, who played two seasons with the Giants, was charged with public intoxication and interference with official acts by police in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
According to multiple reports, police spotted Sash at approximately 1:30 a.m. riding a motorized scooter with its lights off and asked him to stop. Sash, however, reportedly refused on multiple occasions, leading police on a four-block chase before leaving the scooter and fleeing on foot. Police eventually found Sash hiding behind a tree and, after the 25-year-old refused to come out, shot him with a Taser.
"Interference with official acts by police" sounds even more complicated than pass interference.
This Vine of prep football recruit Gary Haynes has been making the rounds, and for good reason.
/declines to make Ponder joke.
/declines to make Freeman joke.
/Just posts the video:
There are a million things more serious about the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal than whether Mike McQueary, the former QB at the heart of blowing the whistle (eventually) on the whole thing, possibly had a gambling problem during his playing days.
But if you read the vast ESPN report on McQueary, that subject was raised.
According to several of his classmates and teammates, McQueary developed a compulsive gambling habit at Penn State. He bet and lost thousands of dollars on poker and sports wagering, mostly on pro football, though he also bet, several of his former teammates say, on Nittany Lions games. One former teammate specifically recalls that Big Red bet and lost on his own team in a November 1996 game against Michigan State at Beaver Stadium. With McQueary serving as a backup on the sideline, favorite PSU won on a late field goal 32-29 but didn't cover the eight-point spread.
As his losses mounted, McQueary owed thousands of dollars to a bookie, a debt that was eventually erased by his father, several people say. A college friend recalls urging McQueary to slow down. "It got pretty bad," the friend says, "and it just kept snowballing and snowballing. He was very impulsive."
It adds another layer to an already controversial ending to a game from 1995, when McQueary -- playing as a backup QB at the end of a game -- threw a TD pass from midfield with barely a minute remaining and the Lions holding an 18-point lead on Rutgers. Per an account of the game at the time:
And then Mike McQueary, a substitute Penn State quarterback, spotted an open receiver late Saturday night, and the question of the young season -- When does too much become enough? -- was revived once more.
McQueary's 42-yard touchdown pass to Chris Campbell, 58 seconds from the end of Penn State's bizarre 59-34 victory over Rutgers at Giants Stadium, led to an angry exchange between Doug Graber, the Rutgers coach, and Penn State's Joe Paterno.
Suddenly, Penn State's 20th consecutive victory, and the types of defensive lapses that could eventually derail a second straight trip to the Rose Bowl, were overshadowed by a quarrelsome handshake. Paterno had to be restrained from pursuing Graber after the Rutgers coach made a parting remark.
Afterward, Graber chose not to talk about the margin of victory -- which didn't exceed the Las Vegas point spread of 19 1/2 to 20 points until the final score -- or the controversial touchdown, and his players followed his lead.
Here is video of the play and the heated exchange (there are some swears during the midfield exchange, FYI). It could all be one big coincidence. Or not.
Some of the highlights:
Fourteen humbling months later, Bielema's reputation has taken a considerable hit. While some rebuilding was expected on the heels of Arkansas' 2012 season -- a season it spent in limbo under interim coach John L. Smith, who took over for the disgraced Bobby Petrino -- the Razorbacks went 3-9 last fall and endured their first winless conference campaign since 1942. On consecutive weeks in mid-October, they lost to South Carolina 52-7, and to Alabama 52-0.
With Lane Kiffin now muzzled as a member of Nick Saban's staff at Alabama, Bielema is well on his way to replacing him as college football's most reviled figure.
Bielema's current arc is reminiscent of another previously successful coach whose stock plummeted upon moving to a new conference. Michigan's Rich Rodriguez went 3-9 in his first season in Ann Arbor in 2008, and while the Wolverines improved each year thereafter, he could never shake that nightmarish initial impression. Rodriguez's ugly divorce from West Virginia -- followed by an NCAA investigation into practice-hour violations -- did not help his cause.
The piece also makes the case that Wisconsin padded its reputation under Bielema by beating up the dregs of the Big Ten (including the Gophers). He's also apparently not particularly liked by at least one NFL agent.
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