Monday, August 24, 2009

Tra La La La

Predictable people can be so boring but for some reason I just can't get enough of the ACC league officials who seem to have their own Vanilla Sky phony reality thing going on in regards to their TV contracts. According to the quotes in the ACC Sports Journal the league expects to get as much or more than the SEC's $3 billion, yes B as in billion, 15 year television deals. In the midst of the deepest recession since the depression of the 1930's, with falling revenue in nearly every athletic department and schools trying to cut costs by ditching air travel the ACC "leadership" sincerely believes that they will even get a fraction of what the SEC received? I guess pretending you have not been left in the dust as a athletic conference is better than admitting your athletic departments have little hope of competing economically with the likes of the schools in SEC in the foreseeable future.

As the article points out the last contract in 2004 the league signed was for $260 million for seven years and they probably only got that money because TBS was sniffing around to outbid ESPN. Two years later the Big East, who was left for dead after the ACC raided it of some mediocre football programs, signed a 6 year contract with ESPN for over $250 million. No one can turn an opportunity into a disaster like John Swofford and his cronies in the ACC's athletic departments. It is well known that ESPN overpays for every sporting event it broadcasts but I would find it hard to imagine the folks in Bristol are prepared to offer over $100 million per year for ACC football. The Big Ten has a $1 billion 10 year agreement with ESPN and I doubt that the ACC will get more than that. I'm sure that won't stop the ACC from putting out pathetic press releases arguing that this awful foster family conference is as healthy as any in the country.

CBS Blog Poll

Turtlewaxing is a voter in the CBS top 25 Blog Poll this year. I don't think there should be a top 25 vote until three games into the season anyway but who am I to fight the power. Here is my opening ballot:
1 Florida
2 Oklahoma
3 Texas
4 Southern Cal
5 Ohio State
6 Alabama
7 Oklahoma State
8 Penn State
9 Mississippi
10 LSU
11 Oregon
12 Virginia Tech
13 Georgia
14 Georgia Tech
15 TCU
16 Florida State
17 Boise State
18 Utah
19 Michigan State
20 Brigham Young
21 Nebraska
22 North Carolina
23 Oregon State
24 West Virginia
25 Kansas

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Line gets thinner

Defensive tackle Dion Armstrong won't have to worry about being eligible this fall because he is transferring out of Maryland. That leaves the line with more question marks as A.J. Francis takes over at nose tackle in place of Armstrong. The line is certainly unproven and not many people outside of College Park think much of the unit at the moment but there are some young players like Masengo Kabongo, Zach Kerr, Carl Russell and De'Onte Arnett that could surprise some of the "experts."

Over at the ACC Sports Journal they cover the main questions for the Terps going into the season. From the kicking game, which seems to be Mike Barbour's to lose now, to the new defense under Don Brown they seems to have all the potential problems spelled out.

On minor position battle that I've been interested in is at tight end. Tommy Galt and Lansford Watson are battling for playing time at a position that has had great significance for the offense the last few years. Since Vernon Davis emerged the tight end has been a position that is a major weapon for Maryland. In the last five seasons tight ends Davis, Joey Haynos or Dan Gronkowski have finished 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd in receptions. Chris Turner has always liked going to his tight end so if Watson or Galt can gain his confidence then they will get a fair number of passes thrown their way.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The enigmatic Chris Turner

Quarterback Chris Turner is entering his third season as a starter and has the most starts(20) at QB in the ACC behind Wake Forest's Riley Skinner(37) and Duke's Thaddeus Lewis(34). The interview Turner did with the ACC Sports Journal is emblematic of the way he plays on the field too. His answers were low key and understated and after reading it you were left with a feeling that the quarterback had moved up and down the field but had not finished off any points with a touchdown. He has said before he might like to get into politics so he has the round-about-non-answer down pat. Turner is a likable kid and I've always been a strong advocate that he was the best answer at quarterback for the Terps. Neither Jordan Steffy or Josh Portis could do all the things they needed to in whatever offense Maryland was running at the time. While Turner has understood what the quarterback needed to do in the system he has been unable to produce offensive fireworks. Consistency has certainly been a bugaboo for Turner. His success against ranked teams has been well documented but he is also capable of putting out stinkers like his three interception performance against Middle Tennessee State. I expected more consistency from Turner as a junior last year but he couldn't deliver a reliable performance from week to week. It didn't help that there were times it seemed offensive coordinator/coach in waiting James Franklin didn't know what he wanted to do on offense either but Turner should have done better.

The real problem with Turner and something that has really held this team back is the lack of an aerial attack on the endzone. Turner ranks sixth in Maryland history in passing yards and could end the season as the number two all time passer behind Scott Milanovich. The numbers tell a different story when you look at the touchdown percentage of the top ten passers in Maryland history, by yards.

Quarterback (years)Touchdown %
Scott McBrien (2001-3)5.7
Boomer Esiason (1981-83)4.9
Scott Milanovich (1992-95)4.9
Stan Gelbaugh (1981-85)4.4
Sam Hollenbach (2003-06)4.1
Neil O'Donnell (1987-89)3.9
Dan Henning (1985-87)3.7
Brian Cummings (1994-97)3.7
John Kaleo (1991-92)3.4
Chris Turner(2007-present)2.7

It isn't fair to blame everything on the quarterback as the shaky offensive line, unreliable running game, and indecisive playcalling have all hurt Turner's production but so far he hasn't been able to succeed in having the offense be good at the most important thing, scoring points.

News & Notes
There have been some rumors reported in the New York Post that Maryland or Boston College might be in the sights of the Big East so that they could expand to nine football programs. I don't think this is anything more than speculation and would be shocked if Maryland's administration would consider it seriously. It isn't such an easy call to dismiss the merits of such a move as you might think. The expansion of the ACC has been a failure in almost every sense and Maryland's influence and status in the league has been dwindling steadily over the last few years. Maryland is far from a "southern" school in either its culture or traditions and the league expansion, regardless of the ridiculous inclusion of Boston College, has only served to solidify the ACC's southern leanings.

For her part athletic director Debbie Yow characterized the rumors as "silliness" and then went on to write to the Baltimore Sun that the school does not respond to anonymous rumors as a "basic principle." I guess the basic principle of not responding to anonymous rumors is trumped by the basic principle that the athletic director should promote herself at every opportunity.

I've also got a message for the ACC: forget getting SEC television money for a football product that the fans of the league can barely get excited about.

Monday, August 03, 2009

ACC Preseason Voting

Maryland's football team isn't getting much affection from members of the media this summer. In many publications Maryland is picked last, or near the bottom, in the Atlantic Division. The ACC media picked Maryland to finish 5th in the Atlantic ahead of only Boston College and only two Maryland players, LB Alex Wujciak and P Travis Balz, made the preseason All-ACC teams. Wujciak is coming off an excellent season in a defense that was designed for the linebackers to make most of the tackles. This year Wujciak has missed most of the off season as a result of knee surgery and it remains to be seen if the new scheme of Don Brown will suit Wuciak's skills. Since Ralph Friedgen came back to Maryland it has been a boon for linebackers and corners no matter the coordinator. Ten former Maryland linebackers are on NFL rosters currently, behind only Miami in the ACC, and the Terps have been putting out some very good corners in the last four years. I look for LB Adrian Moten, who had a injury marred 2008, to become a star in the new defense.

The folks over at the Virginia Tech fansite Gobbler Country held an ACC blogger voting for preseason awards and you can see the results by clicking here. I have yet to really ponder my picks for this ACC season but my first instinct was to pick Florida State to have a return to glory this season and win their first conference title since 2005.