June 16, 2008

Curry facing a tough task at Georgia State

A look at some various and sundry topics as we continue to count the days until the season starts (it's 73, by the way):

Georgia State which plans to begin playing football in 2010 named Bill Curry as its first coach last week. That's fine. What continues to strain credulity, though, is that the school plans to play its home games in the Georgia Dome. Come on the Atlanta Falcons have trouble selling out the place. A brand-new Division I-AA program is going to draw crowds big enough at the Dome to make it financially worthwhile? Far be it for me to decide how to run a I-AA program, but the school has to pay to rent the Georgia Dome and it sure seems that would be money better spent on I don't know maybe finding a high school stadium in which to play.

So Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen has decided to hang it up at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. The first question that probably comes to mind well, other than, "Who is Tom Hansen?" is where the league's new leader will fall in "The Rose Bowl is the most important thing in college football" way of thinking. Now, I am not a playoff proponent, but I still find it oddly amusing that the Big Ten and Pac-10 act as though it's still 1967 and the Rose Bowl and its parade are the be-all, end-all in college football. If the national media ever quoted Hansen, it invariably was about the Pac-10's marriage to the Rose Bowl, and it'll be interesting to see if the new commissioner subscribes to that line of thinking. Then again, maybe Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will tell the new guy it's OK to take a different viewpoint.

Staying with the "new commissioner" theme, three big-time jobs are open in college athletics: the commissioner jobs in the Big East and Pac-10 and the athletic director's job at Notre Dame. A case can be made that the Notre Dame AD wields more power than any conference commissioner outside the "Big Six," which means we could see a mighty interesting row of dominos falling if - as expected Notre Dame fills its job first. MAC commissioner Rick Chryst is on the radar for the Notre Dame job and should be on the radar for the Big East job. SMU AD Steve Orsini who used to be athletic director at UCF and hired George O'Leary also is a possibility for the Notre Dame job. They have amazingly similar backgrounds: Both attended Notre Dame and also worked at the school, and both also worked for the ACC for a while. Orsini has said he will listen if Notre Dame calls. Boy, that's a stunner, huh? Stay at SMU or go to Notre Dame yeah, that'll take about a millisecond to decide. An aside: One of Chryst's brothers, Paul, is the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, and another, George, known as "Geep" works for the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has booted starting linebacker Freddie Fairchild off the team. Fairchild had been arrested in late March on battery charges. That means the Hogs will have an all-new group of starting linebackers.

Army safety Caleb Campbell was a seventh-round draft choice by the Detroit Lions in April. Navy pitcher Mitch Harris was a 13th-round choice of the St. Louis Cardinals in the recent baseball draft. Campbell will be going to camp with the Lions later this summer in an attempt to make the team. But instead of playing rookie ball for the Cardinals, Harris has been assigned to the amphibious transport ship Ponce. A new Army policy allows athletes with a chance to play professionally to complete their service by serving as recruiters and in the reserves, as long as they make a pro team. A new Navy policy, on the other hand, makes no concessions. "Of course we're at war; no one can argue we're not," Harris, who averaged almost 12 strikeouts per nine innings, told the Gaston Gazette in Gastonia, N.C. "But what I've said from the beginning is that I'm not trying to get out of anything. If I don't get that chance (to play baseball) right now, I'll never get it again. And to fulfill a goal of getting to the pros - it's sad that they would take it away from me." A Navy spokesman told The Associated Press that it would be "inappropriate for Navy and Marine Corps personnel to be released from service obligation to play sports at a time other sailors and Marines are carrying out their service obligations." Regardless of your thoughts on the issue, this definitely will come up on the recruiting trail for both schools.

The College World Series is under way, and one of the most surprising stories is that Fresno State is there. That's not to denigrate the Bulldogs in any way. Instead, it's a surprise they're in Omaha because they were a No. 4 seed in a regional in the first round. There are, of course, just four teams in each regional field in the first round, which means the Bulldogs weren't even supposed to get out of their regional, much less win a Super Regional over Arizona State which was seeded No. 3 nationally. But that's where it gets weird. The idea that Fresno State was a No. 4 seed in the first round is beyond ludicrous. Blame it on the NCAA. While the NCAA seeds the complete men's and women's basketball field from 1-64/65 and while it seeds the 64-team softball field 1-16, it seeds only the top eight in baseball. In an attempt to save money, geography plays a huge role in deciding the No. 3 and 4 seeds in the first round. That's how you had a Fresno State team with an RPI in the 90s seeded as a No. 4 along with Mount St. Mary's (260s), Stony Brook (150s), Texas Southern (290s) and Bucknell (190s). Ridiculous. Maybe the NCAA should take some of the money it makes on the NCAA men's basketball tournament and use it to fairly seed the baseball field one through 64.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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