Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Michigan Way Isn't Working

By Travis Stahl

Every time I hear those Tim Allen commercials for Michigan I want to pack up and go.  I love the beaches at South Haven.  When you hear Allen talking about "Pure Michigan" it's so relaxing.  The Michigan Allen is talking about though is for vacation purposes and in no way related to the "Michigan Way" we heard so much about last weekend from former Wolverine football players.  In defense of the horribly broken Michigan football program several players spoke out to support head coach Brady Hoke.  Then the Wolverines went out and got waxed by Minnesota.

Michigan is the most winning program in college football.  Those wins have not been coming as often under Hoke though and the coach is under heavy fire and may not make it through the season.  The Wolverines have now lost to Notre Dame, Utah and Big Ten rival Minnesota.  Michigan can't lose three games in a season and consider it acceptable.  This train has completely derailed at this point and Hoke will likely be out at the end of the season.

I like Hoke.  I remember when he was at Ball State thinking he would make a great coach at a big-time program.  But he and his coaching staff have failed at connecting with their players.  Michigan continues to recruit some talented players.  Granted, not enough talented players to compete for a Big Ten title, but still enough to beat Minnesota.  There is no part of this Wolverines team that even resembles the teams of the past and the players may have already checked out on the season.  Even the Big House isn't selling out despite cheesy efforts to get players to buy cheap tickets.

Lloyd Carr got fired at Michigan because he couldn't beat Ohio State.  Carr managed to beat everyone else, just not the Buckeyes and that wasn't enough.  Hoke can't beat anybody and is 3-8 in his last 11 games.  This team has no quarterback, no running back, no typically massive Michigan offensive line and nothing on defense.  When you see Michigan on the field there is no sense of urgency and no excitement at all.  There is nothing that makes you think this team is about to take off and collect four or five wins in a row.

With Hoke on his last leg we're going to have to listen to the rumors swirling for the remainder of the season.  On top of the rumor board will be Jim Harbaugh.  The San Francisco 49ers head coach is a former Wolverine and you know fans are going to be frothing at the mouth at the thought of the prodigal son coming home.  But Harbaugh is an NFL coach and even if he did return to the college level how long would he realistically stay?

The Big Ten as a whole is broken, we all know that.  Michigan looks to be the perfect example of what is plaguing the league.  There is no speed at the skill positions, no athleticism on the lines and no innovations at head coach.  All three of those apply to the Wolverines.  This is not the Michigan Way.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ball, Myer Shine in CC Loss

By Travis Stahl

Football games are often won and lost based on the rushing game.  A team that can run the ball effectively and stop the opposition from rushing puts itself in a pretty good position to win a lot of football games.  The Columbia City Eagles football team was able to run the ball very effectively against New Haven Friday night.  Now the team needs to work on stopping the run.  The Eagles fell in Northeast Hoosier Conference action to New Haven in a ground battle Friday night 42-21.

Eagles running back Braden Myer was again the T and T Athletic Supporters Player of the Game for his efforts on offense.  Myer led the Eagles with 142 yards rushing on 23 carries and two touchdowns.  Defensively the Player of the Game for Columbia City is freshman linebacker Bronson Ball.  Ball led the Eagles defense with eight tackles including one tackle for a loss.

As a team Columbia City racked up 205 yards on the ground against the Bulldogs as quarterback Trevor Bolt added 59 yards.  Drew O'Dell led the receiving corp for the Eagles in the loss.  O'Dell had four catches for 86 yards.  Dayne Asplund added two grabs for 47 yards.  Defensively Cody McClure racked up 5.5 tackles and Ashten Barnes stopped five New Haven ball carriers.

New Haven was able to run the ball for 37 times for 405 yards against the Eagles.

The loss drops Columbia City to 2-4 on the season.  The Eagles are back on the field Friday night at 7 p.m. when the team travels to Kendallville to face East Noble.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The NFL Has Gotten Too Safe

By Travis Stahl

So I'm watching last night's Thursday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.  Just minding my own business.  Washington tight-end Niles Paul catches this sweet pass up the seem and starts running up field.  When Giants safety Quinten Demps comes over to hit Paul he lowers his head in preparation for the contact.  When Paul lowers his head it collides with Demps' head and Paul is knocked out of the game with a concussion.  Plus, New York is assessed a 15-yard penalty for what the official called "unnecessary roughness to a defenseless receiver."  It's time for some changes in the NFL that don't have to do with domestic violence.

The collision between Demps and Paul was a football play.  Plain and simple.  Demps did not lead with his head and did not aim for Paul's head.  Demps actually entered the tackle low around Paul's thighs.  Plus, in my own humble opinion, as soon as Paul turns and takes two steps running up field he is no longer a defenseless receiver.  I know the NFL is up in arms about concussions and understandably so.  But that should not eliminate the need for officials to use some common sense.  If they don't have that ability then officials need to be able to review these plays to make sure they get the call right.

The call for safety in the NFL has gotten overly protective.  The minute you CHOSE to play football you are accepting the inherent risks associated with it.  That is the case with every sport.  Participation comes at a price sometimes and football is no different.  On any given play in any level a football player is susceptible to getting a concussion.  Obviously it is great that helmet manufacturers are doing all they can to make the game more safe.  But at some point we need to accept that this is part of the game.  And, because it is a part of the game, if a player suffers a concussion it does not necessarily mean the player that hit him did so illegally.

Football is a game precipitated on violence.  If you take the violence out what do you have left?  Nobody is going to watch the two-hand-touch or flag football leagues on TV.  Players hit each other, it's what they have been trained to do.  The vast majority of them have suffered concussions at some point.  We are all aware of the long-term damage football causes not just on the brain but on knees and shoulders and hips.  It is a physically draining game.  Marshall Faulk was once asked when the last time was that he was 100% healthy.  He answered when he was a junior in high school.  Once you start playing your body will never be the same.  Football players know this and have accepted it.

I'm all for the league and officials promoting safety.  I don't like players like Paul laying on the field grasping for their senses after a big hit.  But it is going to happen.  Players are going to get hit in the head by other players and there are times it is unintentional.  Officials and the league need to step in and make sure teams aren't being penalized just because one player tackles another.  That is what is ruining the game, the over protection.  Nothing bothers me more than hearing those words, "defenseless receiver."  Every player at all times knows they are vulnerable to injury so there should never be a time on the field when they allow themselves to be defenseless.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

CC-New Haven Preview

By Travis Stahl

The Game:  Columbia City hosts New Haven at 7 p.m.

Last Season:  New Haven defeated Columbia City 29-6.

Next Week: Columbia City travels to East Noble at 7 p.m.

About the Game:  This used to be a pretty even match-up between Columbia City and New Haven.  But since 2000 the Bulldogs have owned this series taking 11 of the 13 match-ups.  New Haven comes in to the game at 4-2 while the Eagles are on a four-game skid after starting the season 2-0.  Columbia City will also be looking to earn it's first win in Northeast Hoosier Conference play Friday night.  The Bulldogs got their first conference win last week when the team defeated Norwell.

Key Questions:  Will Thunder or Lightning be the most effective offensive force?  Thunder would be Columbia City leading rusher Braden Myer who had over 100 yards again last week against DeKalb.  Myer has been racking up yards between the tackles thanks to an offensive line that controls the line of scrimmage.  Lightning is New Haven tailback Nishawn Jones who continues the Bulldogs tradition of talented runners.  So far this season Jones has reached the end zone nine times and once he gets around the corner he turns on the jets and outruns most defenders.  One of these backs could decide the outcome.  Will Turnovers be a big factor?  Typically whichever team turns the ball over the most loses.  Last week Drew O'Dell came up with an interception for the Eagles and the team recovered three DeKalb fumbles.  The defense is going to have to produce some more take aways and give the offense scoring opportunities.

The Outcome:  These two teams are about as closely matched as they come.  If the Eagles defense that played the first two games returns to form Columbia City should be fine.  Especially if key contributors like Michael Simmons and Ashten Barnes keep playing the way they did last week.  Quarterback Trevor Bolt needs to take care of the ball and eliminate the interceptions from last week.  If that happens, the Eagles should get their first NHC win of the season.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Will Miss Jeter

By Travis Stahl

Got any plans for Sunday?  Maybe hang out with the family or do some yard work.  It is Sunday, you could watch some football.  Or, at 1:35 p.m., you could turn the TV on and watch a little part of history.  That will be the last baseball game for New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter as he officially ends his career in Major League Baseball.

We talked at the beginning of the season about Jeter's place in history.  Jeter's career with the Yankees can be measured by any combination of numbers.  I only care about one number ... 20.  That is the number of seasons Jeter has played in the majors all with the Yankees and all at shortstop.  In today's era of free agency and players missing games for a hangnail it is miraculous that The Captain has answered the bell for two decades.

Somebody the other day called Jeter the greatest Yankee of all time.  That is stretch.  This is the organization of  the Babe and DiMaggio and Gehrig.  Putting Jeter at the top of that list is a not realistic but he could easily be in the top five players in the history of the franchise.  And, I would say he  is probably the best player we have seen play in the last 20 years.

I hate seeing great players go.  Jeter is such an integral part of the fabric of baseball.  Some people are tired of  this farewell tour but we should be enjoying every second of it.  This is sports history writing itself into the pages of the game right before our eyes.  And, looking at the game right now, who do we see as the next player in baseball who could be as important to the game as Jeter?  I can't think of anybody.

We all know Jeter is a bit of a lady's man off the field.  But come on ... he's The Captain.  He's the greatest Yankee since Reggie and an absolutely legendary player.  I don't care what he has done off the field.  The guy is one of the most competitive players I've ever seen and baseball is going to miss Jeter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Does Character Matter at Florida State?

By Travis Stahl

Do you know why I like to make fun of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston so much?  Yep, because he steals crab legs.  In case you don't follow college football Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, was suspended for last Saturday's game against Clemson for some inappropriate behavior he displayed the week before.  Florida State won against Clemson but the bigger issue here is that Winston doesn't get it and it appears the school is tiring of his behavior.  I'm not sure at this point if Winston will make it through the whole season.

Everyone not living under a rock knew Winston was suspended for the game Saturday.  Yet there he was on the field during pre-game warm-ups in full uniform getting ready with his team.  When head coach Jimbo Fisher saw Winston he immediate sent him back to the locker room and had him change out of his uniform.  Good for Fisher.  But how in the world did Winston get out of the locker room to begin with like that?  At least one coach had to see him.  Perhaps Winston thought the coaching staff would cave when they saw him out there and just let him play.

Florida State it appears is slowly starting to realize what the rest of the country now knows.  Character matters.  Fans care about it, coaches care about it and administrators care about it.  Players that have been coddled and spoiled their whole lives are slow to adjust to this new concept that they don't always get what they want.  In Winston's case, it appears he is catching on slower than other players because he is constantly in trouble.  If he were a player at Texas he would have been kicked off the team weeks ago the way head coach Charlie Strong is cleaning house there.

You can win a Heisman Trophy or a national championship and everyone will love you.  But if you turn around and behave the way Winston does the fans and school will turn their backs on you just as quick as they fell in love with you.  The list of players who are now being cast aside because they can't follow the rules of society grows daily.  Why?  Because nobody has stood up to these players before and had high expectations for them.  It's a flaw in our society and a flaw in the system of high school athletics.  It produces players like Jameis Winston.

How do we reverse this trend?  Easy, we allow schools to hire coaches that will actually hold our kids accountable.  Nobody every told Winston you can't rape girls.  You can't take free food at Burger King.  You can't steal crab legs.  Every day up until now Winston got what he wanted.  Nobody was brave enough to put their foot down and stop him.  This will not end well for Winston and it will not end well for Florida State.  If the school wants to hold on to any shred of it's credibility it had better put a stop to his antics now.

Monday, September 22, 2014

CC Netters Go 3-1 in Tourney

By Travis Stahl
Laurisa Rehrer (left) and Macie Hinen (right)
The Columbia City Lady Eagles volleyball team traveled to the Wawasee Tournament Saturday and ended the day in third place with a 3-1 record.  Columbia City got wins on the day by beating Wabash, Tippecanoe Valley and Bethany Christian and only lost on the day against Garrett.

Against Wabash the Lady Eagles fell in game one 25-22 before coming back to win 25-12 in game two and 15-10 in game three.  Avery Sparks and Bayley Smith each had seven kills.  Jayla Wigent had three blocks and Macie Hinen led the way with 22 digs.

The Lady Eagles then won in dramatic fashion against Tippecanoe Valley.  Columbia City won game one 25-14 before falling in the second set 25-13.  Game three was a back-and-forth contest which saw the Lady Eagles come from behind to win 18-16.  Smith led the team with seven kills and Cassie Bosselman had two aces while Molly Green added two blocks.

Columbia City fell to Garrett in it's third match-up of the day when the team fell to Garrett 25-14 and 25-11.  The Lady Eagles came back on the court though and ended the day with a victory by beating Bethany Christian.  Columbia City lost the first set 25-23 before taking the next two 25-15 and 15-13.  Wigent had 8 kills and Hinen added 18 digs.

The Lady Eagles are on the court again tonight when the team hosts Blackhawk Christian.