Pro or college, it’s game on
Since the end of the 2010 Super Bowl — 180 days ago, to be exact — football fans have been uttering two things: “I ate too much” and “when does football season start again?”
Well, football fans, the professional and collegiate football regular seasons are less than a month away.
People unable to wait until then can get their football thirst quenched even sooner. The first NFL preseason game of the season, the Hall of Fame Game, is Sunday, Aug. 8, and features the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys.
The game doesn’t mean anything in the final standings, but it is memorable because it caps the annual Hall of Fame induction weekend.
Among the inductees this year are NFL icons Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.
The NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) season begins Thursday, Sept. 2, with one game certain to draw the interest of Colorado football fans: the annual University of Colorado vs. Colorado State University game at Invesco Field at Mile High.
To prepare for football season, here is a slew of entertainment tidbits to chew on.
Tim Tebow hasn’t been in the NFL for one season yet, and his jersey is already the top seller, according to NFL Football Jerseys’ website.
In addition, Tebow made the opening day of Denver Broncos minicamp memorable when a record 3,103 fans turned out to watch him practice, according to multiple Denver media outlets.
Anything Tebow does this season is sure to grab headlines.
In March, Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the anti-Tebow, was accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia college student.
The charges were dropped, but Roethlisberger is suspended for the first six games of the year. The suspension could decrease to four games if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says so before the season begins.
How Roethlisberger plays when he returns and how the Steelers fare in his absence is worth watching. After all, the Steelers — and Roethlisberger — won the 2006 and 2009 Super Bowls.
Not much will change in college football this season because the University of Colorado and Nebraska don’t officially move to the Pac-10 and Big Ten, respectively, until 2011.
However, Big 12 opponents and opposing fans know those teams ditched the conference, so it will be interesting to see how they are treated in Big 12 stadiums this fall. And CU will get a taste of how it will fare in future Pac-10 play when it travels to California for a Sept. 11 game.
University of Southern California, a Pac-10 member and potential future rival of CU, will have its fair share of attention this season.
Earlier this year, the NCAA put USC’s football program on a two-year postseason ban and yanked 10 scholarships for improper agent and amateurism issues. In other words, USC looked the other way while Reggie Bush was being treated like a professional athlete.
Former Denver Broncos will be worth watching this year ... for other teams.
The Jay Cutler Era enters its second year in Chicago with the arrival of offensive coordinator Mike Martz and perhaps a boost to Cutler’s career.
Brandon Marshall, former Broncos wide receiver, was traded to Miami in April because Denver was tired of the distractions Marshall brought to the team.
Furthermore, former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, winner of two Super Bowls in Denver, is now the head coach in Washington.
The Broncos don’t face the Bears, Dolphins or Redskins this year, at least not in the regular season.
Mark The Calendar
Sept. 9 — Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints. The game is a rematch of NFC Championship game of last year, which the Saints won en route to winning the Super Bowl.
Sept. 11 — Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes at Ohio State Buckeyes, which is actually a rematch of the fantastic 2002 national championship game, unless you are a ‘Canes fan.
Sept. 19 — New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts. The game pits the Manning brothers against each other. Eli Manning is the starting QB for the Giants. Peyton Manning is the starting QB for the Colts. Both brothers have won one Super Bowl each. No word on whether the outcome of this game will affect their partnership in the Oreo Double Stuff Racing League.
Oct. 2 — Florida at Alabama, because this game now means quite a bit in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and eliminates one of the teams from national championship contention — for one week.
Oct. 16 — Texas at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers’ Big 12 farewell tour continues against Texas, which has been the power player in the Big 12 for years ... except that is not what Huskers fans will say.
Oct. 24 — Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos. Have fun yelling “In-com-plete” at Raiders starting QB Jason Campbell.
Nov. 22 — The Denver Broncos’ only appearance on Monday Night Football. The Broncos face the San Diego Chargers.
Nov. 25 — The annual Thanksgiving Day games traditionally feature the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. This year the Lions face the New England Patriots and the Cowboys play the Saints. The latter game could be good, especially when compared to any Lions game in recent memory. Sorry, Lions fans. But you know it’s true.
Nov. 27 — Michigan at Ohio State in a game that matters a little too much to fans of those respective teams. Honestly, Buckeye fans are crazy.
Dec. 11 — Army vs. Navy.
Jan. 1 — Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.
Jan. 3 — Orange Bowl.
Jan. 4 — Sugar Bowl.
Jan. 10 — Bowl Champion Series (BCS) National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.
Feb. 6 — Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The largest college stadiums in the country often surpass the capacity at the largest pro stadiums.
For example, the recent expansion of The Big House, known officially as Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., has pushed its capacity to a whopping 107,501.
Here are the 10 largest college stadiums nationwide:
Michigan Stadium, University of Michigan, 107,501.
Beaver Stadium, Penn State, 107,282.
Ohio Stadium, Ohio State University, 102,329.
Neyland Stadium, University of Tennessee, 102,038.
Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, University of Texas, 98,000.
Sanford Stadium, University of Georgia, 92,746.
Rose Bowl, UCLA, 95,542.
Tiger Stadium, Louisiana State University, 92,400.
Bryant-Denny Stadium, University of Alabama, 92,138.
Memorial Coliseum, University of Southern California, 92,000.
NFL rule changes
There are several significant rule changes for the upcoming NFL season, including a change to overtime in an effort to make the game less about who can win a coin toss and more about actual skill. Here are the notable rule changes.
During the postseason only, if the team that wins the coin toss scores a field goal on its first drive in overtime, the opposing team gets a chance to score. If that team then scores a field goal to tie the game, play will continue according to current sudden-death rules. However, if the team that wins the coin toss scores a touchdown on its first possession, the game is over.
If the clock is stopped in the final minute of the second or fourth quarter for no other reason than a replay review, officials will run 10 seconds off the clock before play resumes. Either team may call a timeout to void the time runoff.
If a punt returner muffs the ball after signaling a fair catch, he is entitled to “reasonable opportunity” to the catch the muff before it hits the ground without interference from the opposing team. If the opposing team interferes, the ball will be placed at the spot of the interference, but no penalty yardage will be awarded.
The umpire will stand in the offensive backfield rather than in the linebackers’ area to prevent linebacker-umpire collisions.
When a player running with the ball loses his helmet, the play will immediately be called dead and the ball placed where the helmet popped off.
If a ball strikes a video board, guide wire or sky cam, the play is whistled dead and the game clock resets to the time the play started.
Replay judges are allowed to initiate a review if they think interference with the ball occurred. This is the only time, other than the final two minutes of either half or overtime, that the booth can order a replay. Coaches also can challenge whether there was interference with the ball.
An opponent can no longer launch himself and use his helmet, shoulder or forearm to make contact with any defenseless player’s head or neck. (This type of tackle was previously banned only against receivers.)
The defense can’t position any player on the line directly across from the snapper during field goal or extra point attempts. (Formerly, a player only needed to have his helmet outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.)
A dead ball, personal foul on the final play of either half will be a 15-yard penalty on the second half or overtime kickoff.
Sources: (St. Petersburg Times, New York Times and ESPN)
Father of football
Although Penn State coach Joe Paterno is not credited with inventing the sport of football, the 83-year-old coach of the Nittany Lions sure has been around for enough games, compiling a 394-129-3 record, good for first among Division I college coaches.
He is entering his 45th year as head coach at Penn State, meaning Paterno has been head coach long enough to see nine U.S. presidents, dating back to Lyndon B. Johnson.
‘WE’RE COMIN’ TO YOUR CITY’
ESPN’s “College GameDay” has broadcast live since 1993 at locations across the country. The show has steadily grown in popularity among viewers and at college campuses where it builds a stage and fake field for demonstrations.
This year, “College GameDay” undergoes a major transformation as it expands from two to three hours. The first hour will include segments anchored by Erin Andrews. Here are the major players of College GameDay:
Chris Fowler, a Denver native, joined ESPN in 1986 after graduating from the University of Colorado. He has anchored “College GameDay” since 1990.
Kirk Herbstreit was an Ohio State University quarterback from 1989–92. The Centerville, Ohio, native joined the ESPN team in 1995 as a college football sideline analyst and moved his way up to “College GameDay” in 1996.
Lee Corso attended Florida State University, where he roomed with actor Burt Reynolds. Corso earned four varsity letters in both baseball and football. He has been an assistant and head coach at numerous schools, including Louisville and Indiana. Corso joined ESPN in 1987 and “College GameDay” by 1989.
Former University of Michigan standout and 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard joined ESPN in 2005. He played 11 years in the NFL and was the Super Bowl MVP for the Green Bay Packers in 1997. He was the first special teams player to win the award. Howard was inducted into the 2010 College Football Hall of Fame.
Erin Andrews joins the “College GameDay” crew as an anchor for various segments during the first hour of the show. Andrews graduated from Florida, where she was a member of the basketball dance team. She made headlines in 2008 after a stalker videotaped her nude and posted video online. Andrews, now an advocate for more stringent stalking laws, recently finished third on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars.”
‘ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?’
Perhaps no football program is as famous as Monday Night Football, which aired on ABC from 1970–2006 before moving to ESPN.
It is the second-longest running primetime show on network TV behind “60 Minutes.” Here are the faces of the 2010–11 Monday Night Football TV crew, which exclusively broadcasts NFL games.
Ron Jaworski joined Monday Night Football in 2007. He played 17 seasons as quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. He led the Eagles to Super Bowl XV. He was the NFL MVP and NFC Player of the Year in 1980.
Jon Gruden joined Monday Night Football in 2009 and was nominated for a Sports Emmy in his first season. He was an NFL head coach for 11 seasons with the Raiders and Buccaneers. The Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII while he was coach.
Mike Tirico joined ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor in 1991. He became part of the Monday Night Football crew in 2006. He was nominated for a Sports Emmy in 2007.
And that leaves BRETT FAVRE
He is playing? He isn’t?
— Story by Melinda Mawdsley and Kate Schwenke