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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.
"I haven't watched him much," Favre told USA TODAY Sports recently, "but one game I watched, for like three quarters, was the Ole Miss game."
Manziel passed for 346 yards and ran for 124 more (plus two TDs) while engineering a 41-38 comeback win for the Aggies in Oxford, Miss., on Oct. 12, 2013.
"I almost thought I was watching film of a young Brett Favre," said the current Favre, who is 44 and spent 20 years in the NFL.
"I didn't think I did a lot of things well (in college at Southern Miss), but he did. And and I liked the attitude of 'whatever it takes' — from that standpoint, I liked him."
Manziel certainly does just look like he's having fun out there.
Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema voiced their concerns about the effects of up-tempo, no-huddle offenses on player safety to the NCAA committee that passed a proposal to slow down those attacks.
Neither Saban nor Bielema were on the committee and they did not vote on the proposal passed Wednesday to allow defenses time to substitute between plays by prohibiting offenses from snapping the ball until 29 seconds are left on the 40-second play clock.
OK, safety is good. Let's hear more about why it is unsafe to run plays earlier in the clock.
Many, many paragraphs later:
The committee said the proposed change addresses concerns that defensive players are at increased risk for injury because defenses cannot substitute if the offense goes straight to the line scrimmage when the ball is spotted and the 40-second clock has starts. ... NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said the proposal was not made based on a study of data.
"I can't say there is hard physical evidence," he said. "It's more common sense."
So there is really no proof that a rule passed because they want to protect players will actually protect players. Really, they just have a sentiment that faster is more dangerous.
Or maybe they found that the hot-button yet rather nebulous issue of "player safety" was a way to pass a rule that benefits more conventional offenses run by ... whoa, guys like Saban and Bielema.
Coaches that run up-tempo offenses -- including one who is a man, who is 40 -- are upset, and rightfully so. Maybe there is a safety concern, and maybe this could be a good rule. But maybe come into this with at least a tiny shred of evidence?
Gary Andersen has only been the Badgers' football coach for one season, and there was apparently a chance that his tenure was going to be a one-and-done. The school released statements on Tuesday regarding his involvement with the Browns' coaching search:
Statement from UW head coach Gary Andersen: “Officials from the Cleveland Browns contacted me to talk about their head coaching vacancy. After our initial conversation, I decided not to pursue the position. I am committed to the University of Wisconsin and the student-athletes in our program. I love the city of Madison and am grateful for all the support from Badgers fans around the state and around the country. I look forward to the start of spring football in a couple weeks and turning the focus to preparing for 2014.”
Statement from UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez: “I’m appreciative that Gary handled all of this the right way. He alerted me immediately that he had been contacted by the Browns and affirmed his commitment to the University of Wisconsin. When you have talented coaches on your roster, there will always be people who want to talk to them. I think that Gary is one of the top coaches in the country and am glad that he is leading our team.”
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