Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gamecocks hot from the line

Talk about your big-time turnarounds.

Two years ago, the Jacksonville State basketball team was among the worst in the country when it came to shooting free throws. The Gamecocks were 338 out of 341 teams in Division I. Only Wagner, Winthrop and Washington were worse.

After Tuesday night's game at Ole Miss -- where they went 11-for-11 from the line in the first half and 19-of-21 in the game -- they are among this season's best -- 13th.

JSU coach James Green suggested two reasons for the turnaround Wednesday -- recruit players who are better free throw shooters and emphasize the skill.

"I think we work on it and we try to put a little bit of pressure on guys and we constantly talk about the importance of it," Green said. "That's kind of been a deal this year where our guys understand that and our concentration level is higher. I'm really excited about that."

We'll take a look at the turnaround later this week when we preview the Gamecocks' weekend road trip to Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri. Check it out.

But for now, here's the year-by-year listing of JSU's national ranking in free throw shooting since the program went full-fledged Division I as a member of the TransAmerica Athletic Conference (remember them?):

2009-10 .765 13
2008-09 .653 T276 (with Toledo)
2007-08 .600 338
2006-07 .673 T219 (Milwaukee, Alcorn State)
2005-06 .696 T147 (Oregon St., Bucknell, St. Louis)
2004-05 .721 68
2003-04 .656 T254 (Long Island, Alabama State, Army)
2002-03 .676 T228 (SE Louisiana, Santa Clara, Binghamton)
2001-02 .681 T194 (Houston, Dayton, W. Virgina)
2000-01 .654 T252 (Milwaukee, Va. Tech, Ole Miss)
1999-00 .664 T218 (Stephen F. Austin, Winthrop, Cornell, Ga. State)
1998-99 .640 T264 (Stephen F. Austin)
1997-98 .700 T79 (Liberty, UMass, Missouri)
1996-97 .656 T209 (Iowa State, UIC, William & Mary, Buffalo)
1995-96 .721 NA

It should be noted that a good percentage at the free throw line doesn't guarantee a winning season. In the three years the Gamecocks shot .700 or better -- 2004-05, 1997-98 and 1995-96 -- they went 7-22, 12-14 and 10-17, respectively, while in their best Division I season -- 20-10 in 2002-03 -- they were .676 at the line.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Perrilloux's NFL dream on track

Things seem to be moving along well for JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux.

He recently accepted an invitation to play in the Feb. 6 Texas vs. The Nation all-star game in El Paso, Texas, and he's within days of signing with sports agent Bus Cook.

His only setback since the season ended was undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. "Nothing serious," he said. He has recovered from it and will start his training regimen for the next level in Hattiesburg, Miss. -- Cook's home base -- starting Jan. 2.

Cook, by the way, is the agent for Brett Favre and Jay Cutler, the two quarterbacks in Monday night's Vikings-Bears shootout.

Check Wednesday morning's Star for more insights from Perrilloux, who celebrates his 23rd birthday on New Year's Day.

Monday, December 21, 2009

JSU 16th in final TSN poll

As the highest ranked team not in the FCS playoffs, Jacksonville State thought it might have a chance to crack the top 10 when all the shouting was through.

It didn't happen. The Gamecocks pulled down a No. 16 ranking in the final Sports Network media poll that came out Monday.

Villanova, the national champions, was No. 1, of course, receiving all 101 first-place votes in the balloting. The Wildcats were No. 2 in the final regular season poll.

National runnerup Montana was second.

National semifinalists Appalachian State and William & Mary were third and fourth, respectively.

Richmond (11-2), the 2008 national champion, was fifth, followed by Southern Illinois, New Hampshire, South Carolina State, Elon and Stephen F. Austin.

Coming in at No. 11 was South Dakota State, followed by McNeese State, Eastern Washington, Holy Cross, Prairie View, JSU (8-3 with nowhere to go), Weber State, Northern Iowa, OVC playoff rep Eastern Illinois and Penn.

Friday, December 18, 2009

All-Decade Basketball Team

As promised, here's one man's take on JSU's All-Decade Basketball Team. With fewer spots than the football team and so many players to consider, this one could create the most debate of any, but the criteria is pretty much the same as the football -- stats, impact and postseason recognition. That's partly the reason I picked 10 guys, to take some of the pressure off a starting five.

Omar Barlett
DeAndre Bray
Courtney Bradley
Will Ginn
Brant Harriman
Jay Heard
Mike McDaniel
Poonie Richardson
Walker D. Russell
Scott Watson

As they say on TV, "Your thoughts?"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

All-Decade Football Team

Around the office they've been toying with an idea for an on-line reader poll to determine the Player of the Decade for the three universities and all the high schools The Star covers, and it got me thinking:

I've been around here covering Jacksonville State for at least that long, let's do an All-Decade Team.

Here's the one for football (basketball will come tomorrow). A couple of spots could be open for debate -- these kinds of things often are -- but this is one man's idea based on stats, impact and postseason awards.

Let me know how this stacks up with your team. If this doesn't get some replies, nobody's watching.

JSU All-Decade Football (2000-2009)

QB - Ryan Perrilloux
RB -- Rondy Rogers, Clay Green
WR -- Maurice Dupree, Taurean Rhetta
TE -- Keller Speaks
OL -- Jeremy Sullivan, Deon White, John Pettus, Rod Olds, Keith Gergel

DL -- Brandt Thomas, Mark Tibbs, Greg Green
LB -- Alexander Henderson, Lemarcus Rowell, Jonathan Crutcher, Devin Phillips
CB -- T.J. Heath, Delvin Hughley
S -- Josh Cain, Carnell Clark

P - Richie Rhodes
K - Gavin Hallford
RS - Craig Agee

I ran it past Gamecocks coach Jack Crowe, who's been here the whole decade, and he said he could do something with that kind of lineup.

"That's a salty bunch of football players, that's what that is," he said. "You wouldn't have to practice four days a week with that crowd.

"One thing in common with those guys is they all loved the game. They'd play in the street at midnight."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

JSU baseball schedule

While Jacksonville State announced its 2010 football schedule earlier in the week, the 2010 baseball schedule -- the one the Gamecocks play this season -- is still a work in progress.

There apparently is a holdup on a date with Kennesaw State.

Here are some things that are certain.

The Ohio Valley Conference games are set -- among them Tennessee Tech (April 2-3), Murray State (April 10-11), SE Missouri (April 24-25), Eastern Illinois (home May 8-9), at UT Martin (March 27-28), at Austin Peay (April 17-18), at Eastern Kentucky (May 15-16), at Morehead State (May 21-22). The OVC Tournament is set for Pringles Park in Jackson, Tenn.

The Gamecocks also will play ...

Michigan on Feb. 19 and 20 in the Texas Tech Tournament, according to Michigan's schedule ...

Auburn -- for the first time since 1994 -- on the Plains May 18 at 6:30 p.m ...

Home-and-home series with Samford (at JSU March 10, at Samford March 16) and Troy (at JSU March 2, at Troy March 23 and ...

A three-game home series with Middle Tennessee home March 5-7.

JSU's Heath makes All-America squad

Jacksonville State junior cornerback T.J. Heath was picked to the second team of the FCS All-American Team announced by The Associated Press Wednesday.

Heath was among the national leaders in interceptions with six and returned two of the three picks he had against UT-Martin for touchdowns. He also had 34 tackles and 10 break-ups.

He was the only JSU player on any of the three teams.

Here's the complete team

Quarterback — Armanti Edwards, senior, 6-foot, 185 pounds, Appalachian State.
Running backs — Deji Karim, senior, 5-11, 205, Southern Illinois; Pat Paschall, senior, 6-0, 198, North Dakota State.
Linemen — Derek Hardman, senior, 6-6, 300, Eastern Kentucky; Matt McCraken, senior, 6-3, 300, Richmond; Vladimir Ducasse, senior, 6-5, 330, Massachusetts; Jeff Hansen, senior, 6-4, 292, Montana State; Kyle Mutcher, senior, 6-3, 300, Weber State.
Tight end — Clay Harbor, senior, 6-4, 243, Missouri State.
Wide receivers — Terrell Hudgins, senior, 6-2, 235, Elon; Marc Mariani, senior, 6-0, 185, Montana.
All-purpose player — Matt Szczur, junior, 5-11, 195, Villanova.
Kicker — Matt Bevins, sophomore, 6-2, 185, Liberty.
Linemen — James Ruffin, senior, 6-4, 265, Northern Iowa; Arthur Moats, senior, 6-2, 250, James Madison; Austen Lane, senior, 6-6, 250, Murray State; Dane Fletcher, senior, 6-2, 242, Montana State.
Linebackers — Brandin Jordan, senior, 5-11, 230, Southern Illinois; J.C. Sherritt, junior, 5-10, 220, Eastern Washington; Mike Morales, senior, 6-0, 230, UC Davis.
Backs — Terrell Whitehead, senior, 6-2, 200, Norfolk State; Mark Legree, junior, 6-0, 200, Appalachian State; Jeromy Miles, senior, 6-2, 215, Massachusetts; Josh Morris, senior, 6-0, 180, Weber State.
Punter — Jonathan Plisco, freshman, 6-0, 200, Old Dominion.

Quarterback — Dominic Randolph, senior, Holy Cross.
Running backs — Chase Reynolds, junior, Montana; Toddrick Pendland, senior, McNeese State.
Linemen — Benjamin Ijalana, junior, Villanova; Mario Acitelli, senior, Appalachian State; Johnny Culbreath, junior, South Carolina State; James Williams, senior, Harvard; Austin Steichen, senior, Northern Iowa.
Tight end — Scott Sicko, senior, New Hampshire.
Wide receivers — Tysson Poots, junior, Southern Utah; Buddy Farnham, senior, Brown.
All-purpose player — LeRoy Vann, senior, Florida A&M.
Kicker — Craig Camay, senior, Chattanooga.
Linemen — Danny Batten, senior, South Dakota State; Tim Knicky, senior, Stephen F. Austin; Adrian Tracy, senior, William & Mary; Larry Hart, senior, Central Arkansas.
Linebackers — Matt Cohen, senior, Lehigh; Tyler Santucci, senior, Stony Brook; George Howard, senior, Morgan State.
Backs — Charles Graves, senior, Delaware; Jason House, junior, Southern; Patrick Stoudamire, senior, Western Illinois; T.J. Heath, junior, Jacksonville State.
Punter — Jon Vanderwielen, senior, Idaho State.

Quarterback — Matt Nichols, senior, Eastern Washington.
Running backs — James Mallory, senior, Central Connecticut; Kyle Minett, junior, South Dakota State.
Linemen — Dorian Brooks, senior, James Madison; Will Rackley, senior, Lehigh; Levi Horn, senior, Montana; Joe Gibbs, senior, Tennessee-Martin; Austin Howard, senior, Northern Iowa.
Tight end — John Sheffield, senior, Yale.
Wide receivers — Jason Caldwell, senior, Fordham; Juamorris Stewart, senior, Southern.
All-purpose player — Taiwan Jones, sophomore, Eastern Washington.
Kicker — Zach Kutch, senior, Illinois State.
Linemen — Christian Anthony, senior, Grambling State; Tim Kukucka, senior, Villanova; Josh Beard, senior, Chattanooga; Mychal Savage, senior, Youngstown State.
Linebackers — Wes McDermott, sophomore, Morehead State; Jake Lewko, senior, Penn; Jacque Roman, senior, Appalachian State.
Backs — Anthony Beck, senior, Prairie View A&M; Justin Rogers, junior, Richmond; Korey Lindsey, junior, Southern Illinois; Josh Norman, sophomore, Coastal Carolina.
Punter — Jahmal Blanchard, senior, Hampton.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

EKU game times moved

To avoid the conflict of playing a home basketball doubleheader against the BCS National Championship Game between Alabama and Texas, Jacksonville State officials have moved the start times of their Jan. 7 games to earlier in the day.

The Gamecocks play Eastern Kentucky on that date and the appeal of Alabama football to so many people was expected to impact the crowd.

The women's game now is set for 3 p.m., while the men will follow at 5:30 p.m.

The Gamecocks have played games on the night of the National Championship Game before, but never was one of the state's two major programs involved.

Check Wednesday morning's Star for more details.

Monday, December 14, 2009

JSU's 2010 football schedule

The 2009 football season has only been in the history books about a month and already Jacksonville State has its 2010 schedule complete.

Unlike last year’s schedule, set up to accommodate the start of the Paul Snow Stadium expansion/dorm project, this year’s schedule has decidedly different look.

It starts with only one FBS opponent – opening day at Ole Miss – and has a home game in September, two home games at night and an open date during Race Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Another highlight is a Sept. 18 game with fledgling Georgia State in the Georgia Dome.

Also, Tennessee State returns to the schedule after missing last year to accommodate its Classic rotation.

Here’s the schedule.

Sept. 4 -- at Ole Miss, TBA
Sept. 11 -- Chattanooga (Band Day), 6 p.m.
Sept. 18 -- at Georgia State, TBA
Sept. 25 -- at Eastern Illinois, TBA
Oct. 2 -- Murray State, 6 p.m.
Oct. 9 -- at UT-Martin, TBA
Oct. 16 -- Tennessee State, 3 p.m.
Oct. 23 -- Austin Peay (Homecoming/Family Day), 3 p.m.
Oct. 30 – OPEN
Nov. 6 -- at Eastern Kentucky, TBA
Nov. 13 -- Southeast Missouri (Preview Day), 3 p.m.
Nov. 20 -- at Tennessee Tech, TBA

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Green on BCS title game conflict, 'Do

JSU basketball coach James Green was asked for his opinion about the prospect for moving the Gamecocks' Jan. 7 OVC doubleheader with Eastern Kentucky off the same night as the BCS National Championship football game between Alabama and Texas to help their gate at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

He said any decision like that was “strictly an administrative call.” But he was passionate about what he’d do if one of JSU’s teams were involved in the big game.

“I know this,” he said. “If it were our football team or our baseball team playing for a national championship, I’d cancel the (basketball) game. That’s how I feel. If it were one of our teams, I certainly would do that, because I’m for our teams.”

The Gamecocks have played at home on nights of the national championship football game before and didn’t alter the schedule — in 2007, they played Samford that night and SU coach Jimmy Tillette is a big LSU fan — but this will be the first time the game involves Alabama.

The Gamecocks played their conference opener at home Saturday while the Tide battled Florida in the SEC Championship Game and attendance definitely was impacted.

JSU athletics director Oval Jaynes said a lot of factors go into deciding to move a game, and he can’t run his program based on what Alabama does.

It’s Green’s dream that someday he can get the JSU program to the point folks will want to watch it regardless of what’s going on in the world of sports.

“What I hope is we get this program (moving) and when the Gamecocks pick it up, there’s somebody who wants to be in here to see the excitement,” he said. “That’s what we want to get to.”

WHAT'S DOING WITH 'DO?: Senior center Amadou Mbodji returned to practice Thursday after missing several weeks with an ankle injury he suffered at Southeastern Louisiana and Green was encouraged by what he saw.

Mbodji participated in all the drills, with only a slightly noticeable limp.

"He's been doing a little bit -- jogged on it a little. rode the bike and jogged a little more and moved around a little more and did some things our athletic training staff has gotten him going a little bit," Green said. "To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see him be able to go through as much as he did."

The coach stopped short of saying the 6-foot-11 Senegalese shot-blocker would be able to play Saturday against NAIA Reinhardt. The hope is to have Mbodji back in action sometime before Christmas.

"We won't rush him," Green said after Saturday's win over Tennessee Tech, the Gamecocks' third straight game (and first win) without the Big Guy, "because him being a senior and wanting him to finish up in some games that are really going to matter.

"I think we can evaluate it, but I'd like to get him back before (Christmas) so he can get some rhythm back. It's a shame for him because he was starting to play pretty good ball."

Mbodji is averaging 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds this season and has blocked six shots in four games to become the Gamecocks' all-time leading shot-blocker.

Monday, December 7, 2009

JSU goes head-to-head with Tide's national title game

Now that the football bowl schedule is set and Alabama is playing Texas for the national championship, more than a few local fans have wondered how the Tide playing in the Big Game will impact the crowd at Jacksonville State’s first home date of the new year.

The BCS National Championship Game is Jan. 7, the same night JSU plays Eastern Kentucky in a conference doubleheader.

While the rest of the world won’t stop, in this state at least the goings-on in Los Angeles that night are sure to draw more eyes (and bodies) than anything going on in Pete Mathews Coliseum. There may be more people in line at one of the concession stands at the Rose Bowl that night than there are in attendance at the JSU-EKU games.

The Gamecocks have played on the night of the national championship game before, but never when the game involved Alabama.

The Gamecocks played their conference-opener doubleheader Saturday at the same time Alabama and Florida were playing in SEC Championship Game. A quick head count recorded less than 100 on hand for the women’s game. There was slightly more for the men’s game, although the official box score listed the attendance at more than 500.

JSU athletic director Oval Jaynes said Saturday he hasn’t made any decision about moving the game to help the gate, and the way he talked, it sounded unlikely he would.

"The issue is more than going head to head with this game," he said. "There are other teams involved.

"You certainly don’t want to play Friday and Saturday back-to-back; I don’t think that’s fair. They’re on the road. That’s another day of missed classes."

The Gamecocks, who are on the road the Saturday and Monday (at Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri, are one of two Division I programs in the state with home basketball games that night – South Alabama entertains Western Kentucky (Troy is at Florida Atlantic).

It’s uncertain if USA has any plans to alter its game, but the bottom line at JSU seems to be this:

"I can’t run my program based on what Alabama does," Jaynes said. "It’s not fair to our kids."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Whitten has NCAA experience

Brittney Whitten and Brooke Schumacher were sitting at a table in the back room at Jefferson's Sunday preparing to be interviewed after the JSU volleyball team had just finished watching the NCAA Tournament selection show.

Whitten is the only player on the roster with previous NCAA Tournament experience and Schumacher was asked if the Gamecocks would be relying on that insight this weekend in Tallahassee.

"Oh, thanks for more pressure, Al," Whitten said without looking up from filling in her NCAA bracket.

She was kidding, of course, but truth is the players will look to the All-OVC outside hitter for the leadership she regularly supplies.

"Brittney always has a lot to say and we always really listen to her and take it in because she's the oldest and has been here the longest and through it all," Schumacher said.

JSU coach Rick Nold knows the importance of having a player who's been through it.

"For us, it's not much different in terms of how we travel and the schedule than some of our preseason tournaments," Nold said. "But to have someone who has gone through it, she's there to answer the little questions that go with it."

Whitten said the idea she wants to impart on her teammates is the court they'll be playing on in Tully Gym is no different than the ones they've played their 33 previous matches on this season.

"Remember in 'Hoosiers' when they got to the gym and dropped the measuring tape, that's kind of what I would like to evoke in them," Whitten said. "Yes, the game has more gravity, but there's no more expected this weekend than what has been expected of us all season."

Whitten was a freshman on the 2006 team that blew through the Ohio Valley Conference and lost to San Diego in the NCAA first round at Tennessee.

"It was a little bit surreal," she recalled. "We blew through the conference and the conference tournament and the first time we were really challenged was in the NCAA Tournament.

"This year it's completely different. It means more on a personal level, but I think it means more to this team, too, because we really feel like we've gone out there and earned and then proven (winning the OVC Tournament was not a fluke). This is another step to proving the type of team we are."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baseball inks seven

The Jacksonville State baseball program has signed seven players for the 2011 season, including a set of twins and a Calhoun County product.

Oxford pitcher Taylor Sparks and Pelham twins Michael and Andrew Bishop will be joined by JUCO first baseman Ben Waldrip, Pelham pitcher-first baseman Trae Santos; Southside pitcher-outfielder Bradley Raulston; and Smyrna, Ga., pitcher-infielder Travis Stout.

“As we went into the recruiting process for 2011, we had some positions that we felt like would need immediate attention,” Case said in a statement released by the athletic department. “We feel very confident that we addressed our needs and we expect these young men to all have an impact within our program.”

Signees (stats are from last season)
Ben Waldrip (1B, 6-6, 225, Medford, Mass./St. Anselm College, .394, 3 HRs, 27 RBIs)
Trae Santos (RHP/1B, 6-1, 237, Pelham HS, 6-1 record, 53 Ks)
Michael Bishop (OF/1B, 6-2, 180, Pelham HS, .432, 8 HRs)
Bradley Raulston (RHP/OF, 6-1, 210, Southside HS, .347, 7 HRs, 37 RBIs, 9-2, 94 Ks)
Andrew Bishop (INF, 5-11, 175, Pelham HS, .304, 5 doubles, 13 stolen bases)
Taylor Sparks (LHP, 6-0, 175, Oxford HS, 70 Ks in 40 IP)
Travis Stout (RHP/INF, 5-10, 175, Smyrna, Ga./Holy Innocents HS, 61 Ks in 51 IP)

The signing announcement comes on the same day Case confirmed to The Star that junior pitcher Jason Zylstra has been dismissed from the team for violating team policy. Zylstra was arrested on Nov. 12 on DUI and open container charges.

The Gamecocks are awaiting word on a date with Kennesaw State before releasing their 2010 schedule. The slate is expected to include the first game with Auburn since 1994.

WBB looks for win vs. Alabama A&M

The JSU women's basketball team plays Alabama A&M tonight (Wednesday) looking for its first win of the season. Here's a capsule look at the game.

Jax State women vs. Alabama A&M
Today, 7 p.m.
Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville
Radio/TV: 91.9 FM
Records: Jax State 0-6, Alabama A&M 1-2
Series: JSU leads 13-12.

Projected starters
Jax State: 6-0 Fr. P Danielle Vaughn (6.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg); 5-8 So. G Zenobia Pitts (8.7, 4.2); 5-9 So. G Danielle Beneby (4.3, 3.0); 5-11 Fr. F Brittany Wiley (8.0, 4.2), 5-7 Fr. G Karisma Boykin (6.7, 2.5)
Alabama A&M: 5-8 Sr. G Katrich Williams (19.0, 4.0); 5-10 Jr. F Chelsea Marshall (5.0, 1.0); 5-7 So. G Whiquitta Tobar (9.0, 6.0); 6-3 Fr. C Brittney Carter (2.7, 3.7); 5-10 Sr. F Dominisha Johnson (8.3, 4.3).

Bounce passes
The Gamecocks can avoid a lot of bad things by winning tonight … They are looking to avoid their worst start since JSU started tracking game-by-game records in 1983-84; last year’s team started 0-6 … The Gamecocks have lost 10 in a row going back to last season, matching the longest slide in coach Becky Geyer’s JSU tenure and the program’s longest since a 12-game drought covering the 1984-85 (10) and 1985-86 (2) seasons … Geyer is just waiting for her team to break out. “I think we’re a great team,” she said. “The minute we turn the corner, I really can see great things happening from this team. For us, it has to start tomorrow night against Alabama A&M and we just go from there” … A&M hasn’t played since beating Stillman by 16 on Nov. 23 ... According to tonight's game notes, Geyer signed two players in the early signing period -- JeDechia Hill from Villa Rica, Ga.; and Lakeria Crowder, a point guard from Memphis.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Loss at SELA hurt

Jacksonville State's 77-73 loss at Southeastern Louisiana Tuesday night cost the Gamecocks more than a game.

Center Amadou Mbodji and swingman Nick Murphy, one of their "big men" inside, both sustained ankle injuries in the game that could limit their availability Friday night at Georgia.

The players are both considered day-to-day and a game-time decision at present, but JSU coach James Green said Wednesday there "may be a better chance" to have Murphy back than Mbodji, who at 6-10 is the Gamecocks' tallest player.

Georgia (2-2) has two players 6-10 or taller -- 6-10 Trey Thompkins and 6-11 Albert Jackson -- and three others 6-8 or 6-9.

"That's obviously a huge concern for us," Green said.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Griner dunks on Gamecocks

Jacksonville State stands to get some exposure on ESPN tonight and tomorrow, but not for what one of its teams did.

Baylor’s 6-foot-8 freshman Brittney Griner became the seventh woman to dunk in a college basketball game Tuesday night when she dunked flat-footed at the 15:05 mark of the first half against the Gamecocks.

It gave the eighth-ranked Lady Bears a 17-3 lead. Baylor scored the first 13 points of the game.

Griner dunked in an exhibition game and in warmups of Baylor’s game with Tennessee, but hadn’t dunked in a real game until Tuesday night.

Baylor leads at halftime 51-23.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Perrilloux a Payton finalist

As expected, JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux made it to the formal ballot for the Walter Payton Award -- the FCS Heisman. He is one of 11 quarterbacks on the 20-player ballot.

Here are the pertinent stats of the 20. Cast your vote here. Pick three (in order of preference). If you don't want to respond in this forum, email me at

Pat Devlin, Delaware QB, Junior: 220-of-344 (64%), 2,664 yards passing, 16 passing touchdowns 9 interceptions; 84-127-4 rushing; 2,791 yards of total offense. Transfer from Penn State

Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State QB, Senior: 189-of-261 (72%), 2,504 yards passing, 10 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions; 101-575-16 rushing; 3,079 yards of total offense, 9 games played. Last year's winner. Transfer from South Carolina.

William Ford, South Carolina State RB, Senior: 189 carries, 1,026 yards rushing, 8 rushing touchdowns; 18-122-2 receiving; 1,990 all-purpose yards. He was 12th in last year's voting.

Pat Grace, Northern Iowa QB, Senior: 155-of-253 (61%), 2,280 yards passing, 20 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions; 93-297-8 rushing; 2,577 yards of total offense. Ranks seventh nationally in passing efficiency.

Cameron Higgins, Weber State QB, Junior: 238-of-366 (65%), 2,890 yards passing, 28 passing touchdowns, 14 interceptions; 30-(-95) rushing; 3,059 yards of totaloffense. Ranks 13th in total offense, sixth in passing, sixth in TD passes. He finished sixth last season.

Terrell Hudgins, Elon WR, Senior: 111 catches, 1,466 yards receiving, 15 receiving touchdowns.
He led the nation in receiving and yards. He caught a TD pass in all but two games in 2009. He was 11th in the 2007 voting, 15th last year.

Deji Karim, Southern Illinois RB, Senior: 205 carries, 1,512 yards rushing, 16 rushing touchdowns; 13-161 receiving; 1 KOR touchdown. Ranks second in rushing and third in all-purpose yards.

Bryant Lee, Southern QB, Senior: 158-of-250 (63%), 2,039 yards passing, 19 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions; 63-166-5 rushing; 2,425 yards of total offense. Ranks 10th nationally in passing efficiency, 17th in total offense.

Michael Herrick, Northern Arizona QB, Junior: 270-of-407 (66%), 3,356 yards passing, 22 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions; 31-(-75) rushing; 3,281 yards of total offense. Transfer from Ole Miss. Ranks sixth in total offense, 15th in passing efficiency.

James Mallory, Central Connecticut State RB, Senior: 257 carries, 1,243 yards rushing, 15 rushing touchdowns; 12-61 receiving; 1,357 all-purpose yards, 3 blocked kicks. Ranks fourth nationally in rushing and is 99th in total offense, a category normally dominated by quarterbacks.

Jeremy Moses, Stephen F. Austin QB, Junior: 320-of-474 (68%), 3,488 yards passing, 36 passing touchdowns, 14 interceptions; 40-55 rushing; 3,543 yards oftotal offense. SFA has the nation's No. 1 scoring and passing offense. Moses ranks fourth nationally in total offense, 16th in passing efficiency.

Matt Nichols, Eastern Washington QB, Senior: 255-of-382 (66%), 3,369 yards passing, 30 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions; 59-85-2 rushing; 3,454 yards of total offense. Ranks fifth nationally in total offense, eighth in passing efficiency. Been intercepted in just two games and not thrown any in his last five games.

Toddrick Pendland, McNeese State RB, Senior: 168-992-17 rushing; 27-237-2 receiving; 1,237 all-purpose yards. Leads the nation in scoring and ranks 12th in rushing.

Ryan Perrilloux, Jacksonville State QB, Senior: 138-of-236 (58%), 2,345 yards passing, 23 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 98-443-8 rushing; 2,793 yards of total offense. Transfer from LSU. Leads the nation in passing efficiency, ranks fourth in points responsibility and 12th in total offense.

Curtis Pulley, Florida A&M QB, Senior: 137-of-226 (61%), 1,824 yards passing, 12 passing touchdowns, 6 interceptions; 122-881-6 rushing; 2,705 yards of total offense. Ranks 16th nationally in total offense.

Dominic Randolph, Holy Cross QB, Senior: 279-of-434 (64%), 3,429 yards passing, 31 passing touchdowns, 15 interceptions; 111-474-6 rushing; 3,903 yards of total offense. He is the active FCS career leader in total offense (13,887 yards), passing yards (13,108 yards), passing touchdowns (114) and ranks second in touchdowns responsible for (129). He is fourth all-time in passing and total offense. Currently leads the nation in total offense. He finished 12th in 2007 voting and ninth in 2008.

Chase Reynolds, Montana RB, Junior: 251 carries, 1,159 yards rushing, 15 rushing touchdowns; 27-248-2 receiving. Ranks seventh in rushing.

Andre Roberts, The Citadel WR, Senior: 77 catches, 792 yards receiving, 8 receiving touchdowns; 12-77 rushing, 14 punt returns, 15.5 average; 3 kickoff returns, 22.0 average; 1,152 all-purpose yards. Roberts is expected to be the first FCS player selected in the 2010 NFLDraft.
Currently tied for 13th in receptions and is sixth in punt returns. He finished 13th in 2008 voting.

David Sinisi, Monmouth RB, Senior: 300 carries, 1,437 yards rushing, 13 rushing touchdowns; 20-249-4 receiving; 1,738 all-purpose yards. Ranks third nationally in rushing, tied for eighth in scoring and 10th in all-purpose yards. He finished 16th in last season's voting.

Trevyn Smith, Weber State RB, Senior: 221 carries, 979 yards rushing, 7 rushing touchdowns; 32-270 receiving; 1,249 all-purpose yards. Ranks 14th in rushing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

UPDATE: JSU finishes 14th in poll

Jacksonville State ended its football season with an 8-3 record, which was good enough to pull down a No. 14 rating in the final Sports Network poll.

The Coaches Poll came out Monday and the Gamecocks wree 13th.

They are the highest rated team not in the FCS playoffs. They were not eligible, of course, because of their APR post-season ban.

Here's the playoff field. The top four seeds are Montana, Villanova, Southern Illinois and Richmond. The number beside the team's name represents its position in the TSN poll

11-South Dakota St. (8-3) at 3-Montana (11-0)
13-Eastern Wash. (8-3) at 12-Stephen F. Austin (9-2)
9-Elon (9-2) at 4-Richmond (10-1)
7-South Carolina St. (10-1) at 5-Appalachian St. (9-2)
17-Holy Cross (9-2) at 2-Villanova (10-1)
10-New Hampshire (9-2) at 8-McNeese St. (9-2)
19-Eastern Ill. (8-3) at 1-Southern Ill. (10-1)
15-Weber St. (7-4) at 6-William & Mary (9-2)

JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux pulled down the OVC Offensive Player of the Week -- again -- after accounting for 307 yards of total offense and two touchdowns in the Gamecocks' 34-26 win over Eastern Kentucky. It's the second week in a row and seventh time this year he has won the award.

He's won it nine times in his career, tying EIU's Tony Romo (2000-02) and EKU's Markus Thomas (1989-92) for the league record.

Just go ahead and give him the Player of the Year trophy now and don't wait until Tuesday's announcement.

Alexander Henderson was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week for the third year in a row. He had 14 tackles and three fumble recoveries. It marked his seventh straight game with double digit tackles. JSU coach Jack Crowe has called him the best defensive player in the league, and that just might be proven come Tuesday's announcement, too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Perrilloux ... Payton ... Part II

Here's how JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux stacks up among the 20 players currently on the Walter Payton Watch List. The ballot will be distributed to the voters next week. The results of the voting and the announcement of the three finalists will be Nov. 30.

For the purpose of this chart, the first number in each category is a player's national ranking this week with the applicable value and touchdowns (when necessary).

When you're done sifting through all the data, mark your top 5 (in order) and send it along. We'll do an informal vote right here. If we get enough responses to mark it worth it, we'll post the results -- lets say, in about a week.

David Sinisi, Mon 2-1375-13 T3-10.20 9-162.4 32-11.4
Deji Karim, SIll 3-1356-14 10-9.0 3-184.9 60-9.0
Chris Evans, Samf 7-105.3-7 NA 40-121.7 NA
William Ford, SCSt 27-85.4-7 NA 67-102.4 NA
David McCarty, Alb 19-91.7-9 NA NA NA
Tony Nelson, Mass 33-79.8-6 NA NA NA
Todd Penland, McNs 6-105.3-16 1-12.44 19-132.6 25-12.4
Chase Reynolds, Mnt 5-109.6-15 T3-10.20 22-131.4 45-10.2
Trevyn Smith, Webr 16-96.9-5 NA 33-124.6 NA

Terrell Hudgins, Elon 1-100-1322-14 15-8.4 20-132.2 70-8.4
Andre Roberts, Cit 41-72-711-7 NA NA NA

Pat Devlin, Del 19-2257-15 12.5 27-238.2 24-141.64 32-11.4
Armanti Edwards, App 12-2504-20 63.9-16 3-342.1 2-163.35 8-17.3
Pat Grace, UNI 21-2221-20 27.6 21-249.7 5-162.06 9-16.8
Cam Higgins, Webr 6-2790-26 38.1 18-269.1 28-139.4 13-16.0
Bryant Lee, Sthrn 18-2259-21 30.7 17-269.4 12-151.18 7-17.8
Matt Nichols, EWash 4-2961-25 10.3 5-306.4 8-158.80 11-16.2
Ryan Perrilloux, JSU 25-2159-22 36.5 11-276.3 1-176.87 3-19.3
Curtis Pulley, FAMU 45-1824-12 88.1-6 16-277.5 26-140.63 37-10.8
Dom Randolph, HC 2-3158-30 43.6 1-359.4 14-151.37 1-21.6
*-Edwards is second nationally in scoring

Tracking Perrilloux for the Payton

JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is considered one of the top contenders for the Walter Payton Award that goes to the most outstanding player in the FCS. If he wins, he'll join some elite company. The competition is stiff. Here's a look at the quarterbacks who have won it in recent years and what the Gamecocks' senior is up against this year.

                              TOTAL   PASS    PASS    POINTS
                              OFF     EFF     YDS     RESP
2009 Ryan Perrilloux, JSU     276.33  176.87  239.89  19.33
2008 Armanti Edwards, App St  295.62  170.19  223.33  19.08
2007 Jayson Foster, Ga. Sthrn 277.00  130.50  109.36* 17.09    
2006 Ricky Santos, New Hamp   169.50  147.50  240.39  18.92
2005 Erik Meyer, E. Wash      352.00  169.30  333.58  16.33
2004 Lang Campbell, WmMary    307.50  158.70  284.86  16.70
2002 Tony Romo, E. Ill        262.40  148.40  263.75  17.67
*-Foster ranked second nationally in rushing (167.64)

JSU's Nold named OVC's top coach

That didn't take long.

No sooner did the previous post hit the Web then the All-OVC volleyball team hit cyberspace.

As expected, Rick Nold was named conference Coach of the Year after guiding a JSU team picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll to the regular-season championship. It's his second OVC Coach of the Year distinction.

The Gamecocks placed two players on the All-OVC first team and two on the All-Newcomer team.

Brittney Whitten and Caitlin Vorbeck made the eight-player first team, while Alyx Schulte and Jen Meyer were All-Newcomer.

Whitten, an outside hitter, repeats on the first team. She ranks among OVC leaders with 3.23 kills and 3.82 digs per set. She had double-doubles in all but seven matches this season and hit the 20-plus digs mark six times.

Vorbeck, a middle blocker/outside hitter, recorded 32 service aces and 61 total blocks this season. She averaged 2.89 kills and had 10 or more in 17 matches. She ranks among league leaders with 3.49 points per set.

Schulte was third on the JSU squad with 2.35 kills per set while Meyer led the team with a .292 attack percentage.

The other major award winners were Austin Peay's Stephanie Champine (Player of the Year), Murray State's Kayleah Sauer (Defensive Player of the Year) and Morehead State’s Annie Gruenschlaeger (Freshman of the Year).

Cain garners OVC academic accolade

It's awards season in the Ohio Valley Conference.

JSU senior football safety Josh Cain has picked up another academic accolade, Wednesday being named one of six -- three men, three women -- to receive the OVC Scholar-Athlete Award for 2008-09.

Cain and the other five winners were picked from a group of 19 finalists by a vote of OVC Faculty Athletics Representatives. The other winners were Teresa Craig of Tennessee Tech (volleyball), Jamie Furstenberg of UT-Martin (soccer), Jessica Goshert of Eastern Kentucky (soccer), Derek Hardman of Eastern Kentucky (football) and Leonardo Locatelli of Austin Peay (tennis).

Kelsey Johnikin, a senior guard on the Gamecocks' women's basketball team, also was nominated for the award.

The All-OVC volleyball team is expected to be announced later today. How can JSU coach Rick Nold not be named Coach of the Year. Sure, his team won the regular season title and will host the conference tournament this week, but it also did so after being picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll.

The Gamecocks aren't expected to pick up any of the other major postseason volleyball awards, but with all their players giving solid performances all year it will be interesting to see how they are distributed on the all-conference teams.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

JSU Hall inductions Friday

Jacksonville State will induct its newest class into the JSU Athletic Hall of Fame Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in the Gamecock Center.

The inductees for the Class of 2009 are basketball player Gary Angel, two-time All-American offensive lineman Joe Billingsley, softball's all-time strikeout leader Ann Shelton Welsh and basketball's all-time leading scorer Robert Lee Sanders.

Angel became just the fourth player in Jacksonville State basketball history to score 1,000 points (1,193). Billingsley was an All-American in 1986 and 1988. Sanders scored 1,983 points in his JSU career. Shelton struck out 635 in her two-year JSU career in 418 innings.

In addition to the inductees, Bob and Lou Kennamer and Miriam and James B. Haywood will be presented with the Jimmy Bryan Award for their contributions and years of dedication to JSU athletics.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

OVC volleyball set

By winning the regular-season title, Jacksonville State earned the right to host the OVC Volleyball Tournament.

The Gamecocks won't play their first match until Friday, when they meet the winner of No. 4 Murray State and No. 5 Tennessee Tech.

Here's the tournament schedule.

Match 1 - #4 Murray State vs. #5 Tennessee Tech – 4:30 p.m.
Match 2 - #3 Morehead State vs. #6 Eastern Kentucky – 7:00 p.m.
Match 3 - #1 Jacksonville State vs. Match 1 winner – 4:30 p.m.
Match 4 - #2 Austin Peay vs. Match 2 winner – 7:00 p.m.
Match 5 – Championship – 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Who needs Rock City to see the southeast United States when Jacksonville State fans can take a trip to Southeast Missouri?

The tourist stop in Chattanooga claims you can see seven states, but if you go the right way to SEMO, you'll pass through eight -- one-sixth of the contiguous United States. That's the route we took last week.

On the way, you pass through Alabama (1), Mississippi (2), Tennessee (3), Arkansas (4) and Missouri (5). On the way home, you pass through Missouri, Illinois (6), Kentucky (7), Tennessee, Georgia (8) and Alabama.

You've got to eat when you go on the road, right? And JSU's road schedule this year provided ample opportunities. On the drive back from SEMO last week, staff photographer Steve Gross and I recounted all the culinary must-stops we've enjoyed this season.

Georgia Tech -- The Varsity.
Nicholls State -- Dreamland in Tuscaloosa, any place in the French Quarter in New Orleans (but we stopped by Cafe du Mond), Bubba's/Bubba's II in Thibodaux (once called the best sports bar in America by Sports Illustrated).
Murray -- Calhoun's in Nashville (it was so good, we made sure to stop on the way to Austin Peay, too. The one in Knoxville will be a stop on next year's trip to EKU), The Keg and Tumbleweed Southwest Grill (both near the stadium complex).
SEMO -- Rendezvous in Memphis, Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston.

Don't get me started on the golf courses.

Can't wait for the trips next year.

Where do you stop when you hit the road with the Gamecocks?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blanchard to visit JSU

Jacksonville State expects to have some of the best high school players in the state on campus this weekend, and one of them will be Cherokee County quarterback Coty Blanchard.

Blanchard, the son of former JSU receiver Fran Blanchard, is back in the recruiting game after retracting his verbal committment to Mississippi State for baseball. The player called MSU with his decision Sunday.

"Coty just didn't feel right about signing," Fran Blanchard said. "He decided baseball wasn't the only thing he wanted to do."

The elder Blanchard said JSU "is way up on the list," but "he's still listening to everybody and going through that part."

It is believed Blanchard will sign with the Gamecocks if he doesn't receive an SEC offer. He is expected to visit Alabama next weekend.

Even though he's back on the market, he's not swinging the door to recruiters wide open.

"We're going to see who calls first," Fran Blanchard said. "He's got a list. It's not where we're just going to run to everybody just to do it. He's excited about going to Jacksonville this week."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Volleyball on verge

The JSU volleyball team is one of the hottest teams in America, but coach Rick Nold says there's still "a lot more" it can do.

"Hopefully in two weeks we can be clicking on all cylinders," he said.

The Gamecocks (21-5, 14-0 OVC) can have a lot of say where they'll be playing two weeks from now this weekend. If they beat Austin Peay Friday night in Pete Mathews Coliseum, they will clinch the OVC regular season title and the No. 1 seed and home site for the OVC Tournament.

If they don't win Friday, they have enough of a lead in the standings that they can still claim the top seed by winning their three matches that follow.

They were picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll.

The Gamecocks faced the biggest threat to their 15-match winning streak last Friday before pulling out a 3-2 win over Tennessee Tech. They fell behind two games to none and 24-22 in a potential deciding Game 4, before claiming their eighth five-set win of the year and sixth in OVC play.

"We really bumped our level of play up to a point we hadn’t seen in a while," Nold said. "Sometimes it takes somebody to push you that way to really see what you have inside of you. The important thing is for us to know where that other level is, because that’s where ultimately we’re trying to get to every week we’re playing."

The Gamecocks will recognize seniors Brittney Whitten and Paige Beasley during Saturday’s final regular-season home match against Tennessee State.

If anyone's listening, how incredible is this run of the volleyball team is on? Is it more incredible (inspiring) than the 19-match run the 2006 team made on its way to the NCAA Tournament? This was a team that was picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll and are now on the verge of winning the regular-season title. Sounds like hero stuff. Share some thoughts.

Monday, November 2, 2009

JSU in top 20 of both polls

Jacksonville State's 28-10 win at Austin Peay vaulted the Gamecocks into the top 20 of The Sports Network media poll and the top 15 in the coaches poll.

The Gamecocks, 22nd last week, jumped up to No. 17 in the TSN poll. They jumped to No. 15 -- from 20th -- in the FCS Coaches Poll.

It marks the tenth straight week the Gamecocks have been ranked, the most consecutive weeks ranked in the Top 25 in the school’s Division I history.

Richmond remained No. 1 in the both polls, followed by Montana, Southern Illinois and Villanova -- in both polls. The Spiders picked up all 28 first-place votes among the coaches, while the top four, No. 7 Appalachian State and No. 10 South Carolina State also received first-place votes among the media.

Eastern Illinois, which handed Jax State its only I-AA loss this year, was No. 14 in the TSN poll, No. 13 in the coaches poll.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Perrilloux honored again

JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux won the OVC Player of the Week award for the fifth time this season, when the conference announced the awards Sunday.

Perrilloux passed for 210 yards and a touchdown and added another rushing touchdown in the Gamecocks' 28-10 win over Austin Peay. He was 12-of-22 passing, including a 34-yard screen to Calvin Middleton late in the second quarter to answer an Austin Peay score and put the Gamecocks ahead for good. He had a 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to extend the lead to 21-10.

Perrilloux went over 4,000 career passing yards at Jax State in the game while throwing for 200 yards or more for the 15th time in his career. He remains the national leader in passing efficiency.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nilsson on the run

The OVC cross-country championship runs Saturday in Nashville and JSU's David Nilsson has to be one of the runners to watch.

The 22-year-old freshman from Sweden has been the Gamecocks' best runner all year and one of the best in the conference. He has won five of the six races he entered, and the race he didn't win -- the JSU Foothills Invitational in Oxford (he finished second, 10 seconds off the lead) -- was attributed to an extra-long training run he put in the day before.

Nilsson already has run -- and won -- on the Vaughn's Gap Course that's staging the conference meet, claiming the Commodore Classic (that included six OVC teams) by 30 seconds. His toughest competition is expected to be Eastern Kentucky's Stanley Mugo and Wesley Ruttoh, who have the two fastest 8K times in the conference this year, and Southeast Missouri's Jason Lumpkin.

Eastern Kentucky is the traditional favorite in both races. The EKU men have won the event 17 times and has produced the Runner of the Year the last five years in a row. The EKU women have won it 23 times, three in a row and five of the last seven.

The men's 8K race starts at 9 a.m., with the women's 5K race going off at 10. It will be the 48th men's championship and 31st for the women.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

RP makes national news

Ryan Perrilloux and the JSU football team picked up some national pub in Sports Illustrated this week.

The mag sent a writer to town to do an update on the Gamecocks' quarterback.

Here are a couple highlights off the Web:

"Ryan Perrilloux can't take his eyes off Colt McCoy. Perrilloux, the former LSU quarterback who is a senior at Division I-AA Jacksonville (Ala.) State, is sitting in a booth at Strut's, a burger joint in this sleepy town of 8,400 in the Appalachian foothills. On a mounted TV, highlights of McCoy and the Texas Longhorns are playing, which takes Perrilloux back in time. 'I almost went to Texas, and maybe my life would have turned out differently if I had,' he says. 'But now I'm here in Jacksonville, rebuilding my reputation and trying to show the NFL that I have tools to make it at that level.' "

You can't do a story about Perrilloux without talking about the way he got to JSU, and this piece touches on it, but largely focuses on where his head is now. It says most NFL scouts project him as a mid-round draft pick.

More from the Web ...

"For the first time, he wasn't surrounded by childhood friends. 'I had a lot of negative influences around me at LSU,' he says. Though it's hard to find trouble in Jacksonville, where churches outnumber bars 49 to two, Perrilloux hasn't been choirboy perfect; he was suspended for the first game of this season by Crowe for an undisclosed reason. But Perrilloux now meets with a life-management counselor (in Anniston) weekly and can usually be found in his apartment with his fiancée, Ralle Banks, whom he has been dating since he was 14, and their one-year-old daughter, Ryleigh."

The story wasn't just based on a conversation with Perrilloux and JSU coach Jack Crowe. It even includes a quote from Wellborn product/teammate Brandt Thomas.

When the train comes in, everybody rides.

Murphy staying true to team

Jacksonville State junior guard Nick Murphy is a Yankees fan and he's not giving up on his team after one loss in the World Series.

Murphy grew up in the Bronx, about 10 minutes from Yankee Stadium. While he might have been saddened by the Yankees' 6-1 loss to the Phillies in Game One of the World Series Wednesday, he remains confident the Bombers will prevail.

"The Yankees are going to win," he said Thursday, about five hours prior to Game Two. "Yesterday was a little mishap."

He may like Alex Rodriguez, but he claims shortstop Derek Jeter as his favorite player.

"He's been there for the longest," Murphy said.

Murphy averaged 10.0 points and a team-leading 5.3 rebounds last season.

OVC men's picks and preseason team

The OVC released its men's basketball projected order of finish and preseason All-OVC team this morning (Thursday), and as earlier reported in The Star, Jacksonville State was picked sixth and didn't have a player on the preseason team.

Morehead State and Murray State were tabbed co-favorites, each receiving 10 first-place votes. It's the third time since 1980-81 (when preseason polls were first available) that co-favorites have been picked in the preseason poll (1991-92 and 1994-95).

It's the 13th time in the last 21 years that Murray State has been picked the preseason favorite and second year in a row. Morehead State is tabbed first for the first time since the 1983-84 season.

The teams play for the first time Dec. 5 in Murray.

The rest of the poll -- 3. Austin Peay (114), 4. Eastern Illinois (105), 5. Eastern Kentucky (93), 6. JSU (86), 7. Tennessee Tech (76), 8. UT Martin (55), 9. Tennessee State (44), 10. Southeast Missouri State (19).

You'll notice the teams with the new head coaches are the teams picked 8-9-10. SEMO was one vote shy of unanimously being picked last.

Morehead's Kenneth Faried headlines the 10-player preseason All-OVC team as preseason Player of the Year. He is coming off a season where he was named OVC Defensive Player of the Year and OVC Tournament MVP.

Faried ranked third nationally in rebounding (13.0/game), 52nd in blocked shots (1.9/game) and 69th in steals (1.9/game). He averaged 13.9 points per game and connected on 55.6 percent of his shots. He also had 25 double-doubles, second nationally behind only National Player of the Year Blake Griffin (29).

Morehead coach Donnie Tyndall called Faried "a great energy guy" who reminds him of Dennis Rodman and has a chance to lead the nation in rebounding this season – he is the top returning rebounder in country -- but that energy has been limited early-on by a series of injuries.

Faried missed two weeks with a bruised knee, came back and strained his shoulder that cost him a week, returned and bruised the same knee that sidelined him another week.

"He’s behind in regards to conditioning," Tyndall said. "Kenneth’s been a guy who always played extremely hard. As a freshman, he played 20 minutes, last year 30 and this year we’d like to play him 34-36, but if I had to say right now that wouldn’t be possible with the conditioning where it’s at. Those injuries have set him back, but he’s a worker."

Here's the team: Faried; Ivan Aska, Murray State; Wesley Channels, Austin Peay; Darius Cox, Tennessee State; Tyler Laser, Eastern Illinois; Romain Martin, Eastern Illinois; Isacc Miles, Murray State; Maze Stallworth, Morehead State; Justin Stommes, Eastern Kentucky; Danero Thomas, Murray State.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Women, as reported, tabbed fifth in OVC

As reported in The Star earlier this week, the JSU women's basketball team is projected fifth in the preseason OVC coaches poll and placed two players on the preseason all-conference team.

The conference announced the poll and preseason team Thursday as part of its preseason media day. It wouldn't confirm the Star's report earlier in the week although JSU officials reported the Gamecocks position at their school's board of trustees meeting Monday.

The Gamecocks picked up 84 points in the voting. They were picked fifth last year, too, but just barely made it into the OVC Tournament.

"I really feel last year for us we could've been one of those teams that was fifth and in a position to knock somebody off in the top four, but with the loss of Cierra Duhart it really just left us shorthanded in our post position," JSU women's coach Becky Geyer said. "The best thing for us this year is we filled that void and we filled our void in our point guard position, so we are a much better team and a much more well-balanced team as well."

Morehead State was made the narrow choice to win the league, one point ahead of Austin Peay. It's the fourth time in the history of the preseason poll the top two teams have been separated by one point or less -- and the first time since 1995-96 (Middle Tennessee over Tennessee Tech).

Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois were picked third and fourth, but nearly 30 points separate the four projected first-round tournament hosts and the rest of the league.

"If you look at the fact there's one returning all-conference player overall in the league, I honestly think it's really open for anybody to get in there and take it," Geyer said. "Definitely, Austin Peay and Morehead have a lot of returning players and you have to give them the respect of having those returning players, but I do really feel it's going to be who comes through in the end of February, the beginning of March, and we feel like we're going to be one of those teams. We have the ability to be one of those teams."

Jolie Efezokhae and Brittany Wiley made the 10-team preseason All-OVC team. Morehead State's Chynna Bozeman was voted preseason player of the year.

The men's poll and preseason team will be announced next Thursday. The JSU men will be sixth, their highest projection since joining the league.

Here's the women's projected order of finish

1. Morehead State (Nine first-place votes) -147
2. Austin Peay (Six first-place votes) - 146
3. Tennessee State (Four first-place votes) - 134
4. Eastern Illinois (One first-place votes) - 111
5. Jacksonville State - 84
6. Murray State - 79
7. Southeast Missouri - 67
8. Tennessee Tech - 58
9. Eastern Kentucky - 54
10. UT Martin - 18

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hoops poll

Despite losing a veteran backcourt to graduation and two key contributors in the offseason, the JSU men's basketball team is getting some love from the coaches in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Athletic department officials reported to the school's board of trustees Monday that James Green's second JSU men's team is being picked sixth in the preseason OVC poll. It also mentioned that Trenton Marshall, one of the top JUCO scorers in the country last year, was tabbed as OVC Newcomer of the Year by one national publication.

The Gamecocks started the Green Era last season 6-1, which included road wins at UMass and Georgia State, but didn't make the OVC Tournament field.

The women's team, meanwhile, is being picked fifth and two players -- Jolie Efezokhae and Brittany Wiley -- were named to the presason all-conference team.

No other teams were mentioned.

The OVC office would neither confirm nor deny the report, with assistant commissioner Kyle Schwartz saying the women's predictions wouldn't be released until Thursday and the men's predictions on Oct. 29.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Moving up the polls

Jacksonville State's run of four straight lopsided FCS victories has the Gamecocks moving up the national rankings on the express elevator.

The Gamecocks (4-2) are No. 12 in this week's Sports Network media poll, jumping six spots and tying their all-time best ranking since moving to Division I. They are ranked No. 13 in the Coaches Poll.

"I have felt like we were going to be in a debatable posiiton," JSU coach Jack Crowe said Sunday. "I felt like we were creating debate at some point in time ... I think it's a little early, to be honest with you, but we're not what-iffing any more."

The Gamecocks reached their highest point in the national polls when they were No. 12 in both polls on Oct. 18, 2004. They promptly lost that weekend to Tennessee Tech on a last-second field goal.

They are idle this week before returning to the field Oct. 24 against Eastern Illinois.

Their big move in the polls this week isn't really surprising. They were expected to pass teams ranked 12 through 16 in the TSN poll that lost Saturday, but they actually passed six of the seven teams ranked ahead of them in the previous week's poll that lost Saturday. Only No. 2 Villanova lost last week and stayed ahead of the Gamecocks in the media poll.

Here's the Sports Network poll:

1. Richmond Spiders (119) 5-0 3,253 1
2. Northern Iowa Panthers (11) 5-1 3,050 3
3. Montana Grizzlies 5-0 2,936 4
4. New Hampshire Wildcats (1) 5-0 2,923 5
5. Southern Illinois Salukis 4-1 2,646 6
6. Villanova Wildcats 5-1 2,557 2
7. William & Mary Tribe 5-1 2,403 8
8. Elon Phoenix 5-1 2,292 10
9. Appalachian State Mountaineers 3-2 2,219 9
10. Central Arkansas Bears 4-1 2,129 11
11. South Carolina State Bulldogs 4-1 1,626 17
12. Jacksonville State Gamecocks 4-2 1,554 18
13. McNeese State Cowboys 3-2 1,455 7
14. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 4-1 1,345 20
15. Weber State Wildcats 3-3 1,240 21
16. James Madison Dukes 2-3; 17. Colgate Raiders 6-0; 18. Massachusetts Minutemen 3-2; 19. Cal Poly Mustangs 2-3; 20. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 4-1; 21. Eastern Washington Eagles 4-2; 22. Florida A&M Rattlers 4-1; 23. Delaware Blue Hens 4-2; 24. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 3-2; 25. Holy Cross Crusaders 4-1

Here's the Coaches Poll

1. Richmond (28) 5-0 700 1
2. Montana 5-0 657 3
3. Northern Iowa 5-1 645 4
4. New Hampshire 5-0 621 5
5. Southern Illinois 4-1 578 6
6. Villanova 5-1 549 2
7. William & Mary 5-1 530 8
8. Central Arkansas 4-1 501 9
9. Elon 5-1 462 11
10. Appalachian State 3-2 441 10
11. McNeese State 3-2 368 7
12. South Carolina State 4-1 359 16
13. Jacksonville State 4-2 332 18
14. South Dakota State 4-1 304 19
15. Weber State 3-3 258 21
16. James Madison 2-3; 17. Eastern Washington 4-2; 18. Colgate 6-0; 19. Cal Poly 2-3; 20. Massachusetts 3-2; 21. Stephen F. Austin 4-1; 22. Florida A&M 4-1; 23. Eastern Kentucky 3-2; 24. Holy Cross 3-1; 25. Eastern Illinois 4-2

Monday, September 7, 2009

More on the handshake, whistle

Here's a little more on the pregame handshake issue as it relates to JSU coach Jack Crowe's conversation in Monday morning's Star that morphed into a discussion on whistles blown in the stands at Georgia Tech.

The response was prompted by my question about the handshake and -- only -- knowing the volatile nature of the Miami, FSU, Florida rivalries, how explosive that could be Monday night when Miami and FSU play.

Crowe called the handshake a "good public gesture" of sportsmanship and mutual respect, but wondered how sincere it could be if it's mandated by a higher authority instead of being a spontaneous act.

"I think if the coaches set the tone, it'll be handled right," he said. "I can't believe given the atmosphere out there right now they won't take any of that for granted.

"You look at (the players) and say this is what's gonna happen, this is what you do. They're gonna do what you tell them to. You leave that space to their discretion, the other side of the personality might come out. I don't think it'll be a problem. I think both the coaches will control their teams."

As for the confusion that resulted immediately after the play with the whistle, the officiating crew conferred, met with both coaches and let the play stand. Moments later, Tech returned a Patrick Tatum punt 68 yards for a touchdown.

"They had every right to replay the down - it would have been a strong gesture," Crowe said. "I'm not discrediting the officials. I thought they were very good. It was a one of a kind situation and they decided not to confront it. They were justified in what they did. We were talking about sportsmanship. You've got the players out there trying to set the tone and it didn't carry over to the (stands)."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Volleyball beats Tide, looks to sweep big 2

Brittney Whitten's double-double in kills (17) and digs (13) helped the JSU volleyball team score its first win in five all-time tries against Alabama, 3-1, Saturday in the Bama Bash.

The game scores were 25-23, 25-22, 28-30, 25-20.

JSU is 5-2.

The Gamecocks will try to sweep the state's big two Tuesday when they travel to Auburn.

Hey, folks, weigh in on this: Is beating one of the state's big two in any sport better than any other victory the Gamecocks can claim?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gamecocks going back to Atlanta in 2010

When the Gamecocks play Georgia Tech Saturday at Grant Field, it will mark the second year in a row they will open the season in Atlanta.

Next year they will be going to Atlanta for the third year in a row.

JSU officials said they were going to play Georgia State regularly when the Panthers get their program off the ground and the Gamecocks are on GSU's 2010 slate.

The Gamecocks will play the Panthers in the Georgia Dome on Sept. 18, according to the slate GSU announced Wednesday.

Georgia State will play its first two seasons as an independent in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision before joining the Colonial Athletic Association in 2012.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dupree waived again

Former JSU receiver Maurice Dupree was among four players waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars to get thir roster to the league-mandated 75-player limit.

Dupree had been with the team since April. He was first waived two days before its first preseason game, then re-signed shortly before the team's exhibition game with Philadelphia after the position was hit with injuries. "The Reaper," the Jags' term for the guy players used to call "The Turk," paid him a visit Sept. 1.

The Jags also waived tight end Tyler Lorenzen, defensive tackle Jervonte Jackson and wide receiver Clarence Denmark in this latest wave of cuts. They placed rookie cornerback Don Carey on injured reserve.

"I've learned it's a total business, that's what it is," Dupree said. "The talent is so good, there are so many good players it doesn't matter. They're letting veterans go.

"It's more you have to find a perfect fit before you can get that big break."

He played in the third and fourth quarters against the Eagles, but didn't have a ball thrown his way. His biggest disappointment through it all is he didn't get as big a look as a return man as he thought he might to make his mark.

After being cut the first time, Dupree had a workout with the Atlanta Falcons. He was also talking with the Orlando and New York franchises of the new UFL. That option remains open.

The teams will cut their rosters to 53 players on Saturday.

"Right now I'm hanging by the phone," Dupree said. "All the teams have to go through another cut. Right now I'm just waiting."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

JSU football notes

Santez Mays says he needs 25. Marquez Ivory needs nine, "at least". Brandt Thomas only needs two more.
Tickets, that is. Good luck finding them.
It’s game week of the season opener at Georgia Tech and the Jacksonville State players are working just as hard filling family ticket requests as they are the game plan.
The combination of the opener, a top 20 BCS opponent and the big city nearby makes tickets hard to come by. The players get four each, but that's not nearly enough for this game.
“It’s amazing how many friends and family come out of the woodwork in situations like this,” Thomas said. “Everybody’s trying to find tickets. You’ve got to be the first one to ask a manager or a trainer or people who live far away.
”With the builk of the JSU players hailing from within two hours of Atlanta, potential sources are limited. Tight end Sherwin Winbush II of Texas and offensive lineman Ricky Clemons of Michigan might be popular newcomers this week. Quarterback Ryan Perrilloux's ducats are available. He's under a one-game suspension and won't be making the trip.
The scarmble will probably be on next week, too, as the Gamecocks get ready to play at Florida State.
PAYING RESPECTS: JSU coach Jack Crowe and wife LeAnn planned to attend Monday's visitation for Keith Howard, the Lincoln High football coach who died of a heart attack Friday night.
Tiger Williams, a defensive back who played for Howard, was excused from practice Saturday and Crowe said the player could have as much time as needed to grieve. He wasn't expected to be part of the team's travel squad anyway.
Williams isn't the only JSU player who will go through this season with the heavy heart of losing his high school coach. Starting corner T.J. Heath and linebacker Chris Findley lost their coach, Alexandria's Larry Ginn, to cancer earlier this summer. Heath and Findley visited Ginn shortly before his passing.
"When I first heard about Coach Ginn being sick, I was in a morning practice," Heath said. "My coach said, 'Do you love coach Ginn?' and I said, 'Yes, sir.' He asked me again and I said, 'Yes, sir,' and he said you need to go see him."It was kind of tough to see my high school coach who taught me a lot of things and the next day he passes. There hasn't been a day I haven't thought about him."
Heath puts his coach's intials on his wrist bands as a memorial.
"It helps motivate me," he said. "He helped me to get where I'm at today."
ACADEMIC DAY: Mondays have typically been an improvement day at JSU practice. The Gamecocks will still use it for that purpose this year, only it will be for academic improvement.
One of the program's academic progress penalties involved the loss of practice time. To accommodate the sanction, the Gamecocks have eliminated practice on Monday and turned it into an academic day with scheduled class time in the window previously reserved for football.
"We're going to have to not require as many reps to get ready to play, which requires a smarter (football sense) player," Crowe said. "We're going to bave to be better with less reps ... and we're going to have to be better coaches. There are some trades in here, but that's never going to be an excuse for how we perform, I'll assure you of that."
The players said they won't miss not practicing on Monday. Besides, by the midpoint of the season Monday practices were starting to disappear anyway.
"When you get to this time of year and you put the hard work through it camp, it all becomes a mental game," Thomas said. "You can only bang your head so much before bad things start to happen with all that."
MILESTONE PROMOTION: Benjamin Puckett has been impressive enough in camp that Crowe said he would reward the freshman linebacker from Marietta, Ga., with a scholarship when one becomes available.
Puckett would become the 25th walkon to be put on scholarship during Crowe's 10-year tenure as the Gamecocks' coach.
Crowe said there were five others "right on track" for similar battlefield commission. He declined to name the others, since he hasn't informed them, but one figures to be Francis Duncan, a freshman from Cartersville, Ga., currently listed as the No. 2 corner behind A.J. Davis.
"Before I put a guy on, I have to see his classwork," Crowe said. "Puckett was here last year. He's got a 2.7. He's never been on a list for anything. (The process) starts when you see whether they can play, but then you track them to see if they're accountable. If Francis Duncan can show me a year's worth of that kind of accountability, he'll be on scholarship, too."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New podcast out

The latest edition of The Star's JSU Sports Podcast is up. With the season-opener at Georgia Tech looming, Al and I talk about quarterback Ryan Perrilloux's suspension, and how Marques Ivory is likely to do filling in for him. Also, we analyze JSU's position in the preaseason polls.

Click the player below to hear this week's episode.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Dupree back in the NFL

The Jacksonville Jaguars have resigned former JSU receiver Maurice Dupree to bolster a position riddled by injury.

Dupree was signed as an undrafted rookie in May and was waived 10 days ago.

Receivers Mike Walker and Mike Thomas both have missed preseason games for the Jaguars.

The Jags play the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night in a game that is expected to be Michael Vick's return to NFL action.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another hoops game

Georgia released its schedule Friday and the game with JSU is set for Nov. 27.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another hoops game heard from

Ole Miss just released its schedule. Its game with JSU is Dec. 29.

More hoops games

The dates of three more Jacksonville State home basketball games have been confirmed by the opponents' schedule.

The Gamecocks will play Chattanooga on Dec. 1, Norfolk State on Dec. 15 and Nicholls State on Dec. 21. The Chattanooga game is the return for the 2007 Bracket Buster game. The Nicholls State game is a tradeoff for the JSU football team's one-game visit to Nicholls in September.

JSU officials are awaiting word on the move of a conference date before releasing its 2009-2010 schedule.

The Gamecocks also have non-conference games planned with Georgia, Ole Miss, UAB, Georgia Southern, Southeast Louisiana and the Bracket Busters.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hoops schedule shaping up

Jacksonville State has yet to release its 2009-10 basketball schedule -- officials say it needs administrative approval – but several of the Gamecocks’ opponents have announced and here are the JSU games they list. Most of the times remain TBA.

UAB – at JSU, Nov. 17

Austin Peay – at JSU, Jan. 23; at Clarksville, Feb. 15

Eastern Illinois – at Charleston, Jan. 2, 6 p.m.; at JSU, Jan. 30

Morehead State – at JSU, Jan.9; at Morehead, Feb. 4

Murray State – at Murray, Jan. 14; at JSU, Feb. 13

SE Missouri – at Cape Girardeau, Jan. 4, 7:45 p.m.; at JSU, Jan. 28

Tennessee State – at JSU Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m.; at Nashville, Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m.

Bracket Buster – at JSU, Feb. 20

In addition to the rest of the OVC games, the Gamecocks are also expected to have home games with, among others, Nicholls State (part of the agreement to play football this year), Georgia Southern (Bracket Buster return) and Chattanooga (leftover Bracket Busters) and road games with Ole Miss and Georgia.

JSU assistant goes global

JSU assistant basketball coach Mike Smith is headed overseas later this week to help entertain the troops.
The News Star of Monroe, La., reported in Sunday's editions Smith will be among several coaches going to Kuwait on a goodwill trip.
He'll be joining UL-Monroe head coach Orlando Early, VMI coach Duggar Baucom, Murray State's Billy Kennedy and Pittsburgh women’s head coach Agnus Berenato, the paper said.
College coaches across the country were approached in the spring about making a trip to entertain our troops in Afghanistan in August, the paper said, but when that the dates were the same as the national elections there, the trip was canceled.
“The army said it wouldn’t be a good idea to go to Afghanistan during their elections,” Early told the News Star. “A lot of times in those countries, it’s an uneasy period during their elections. Instead, they still have troops in Kuwait and would like for us to still come.
“I’m very excited about it. It’s a once in a lifetime deal. Those guys over there are fighting for our country. If I can do anything to help, I would like to lend a helping hand — try to lift some spirits.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The award hype begins

Samford running back Chris Evans, an Alexandria product, is among the first four players The Sports Network released on its Payton Award Watch -- the preliminary list for the FCS equivilent of the Heisman Trophy.

There are four more segments coming, since the 20 players on the initial list are being released on an alphabetical basis, so the network says.

That would mean, if you believe he has the talent to be the best players in the subdivision, Jax State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux should be on the list in due time. Perrilloux wasn't on the list at all last year, a Network rep told me then, because he never played on the I-AA level before and transfers don't get considered for the award -- no matter how high profile they were on the bigger stage -- when they first come into the FCS.

Of course, no one would dispute Perrilloux has the athletic ability to contend for the award -- some preseason magazines already have him as the OVC Player of the Year -- but one might wonder how much the off-the-field stuff that got him here and will remain linked to him will keep people from considering him.

What the quartereback thinks about the award or any chances he has for being considered for it won't be known until at least Aug. 6. That's when athletic department officials say the quarterback will be made available to the media -- the group, who along with school publicists, that will be voting on the award.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Basketball workouts

JSU basketball players will start coming on campus for summer school and pickup games beginning this weekend. One player who won't be there is freshman Brylle Kamen. The forward has been released from the program, the Star has learned. Kamen was held out all last season as school and NCAA officials looked into the player's association with a French pro team before signing with JSU. Kamen said this spring he would regain his eligibility after sitting out the first eight games of the upcoming season and paying a $350 restitution.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

OVC baseball gets new home

After nine years of calling Paducah, Ky., home, the Ohio Valley Conference baseball tourament is moving to West Tennessee for the next three years starting in 2010.

The six-team, double-elimination tournament will be held May 26-30 at Pringles Park, home of the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, the AA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

"The opportunity to play games at Pringles Park and build on the student-athlete experience and community support of the event is attractive," OVC interim commissioner Brad Walker said in a statement through the league.

The OVC just completed its 30th baseball championship. The first elimination style tournament was held in 1980, most usually being played at the site of the regular season champion. Beginning in 2001, the tournament switched to neutral site Brooks Stadium in Paducah, Ky.

Walker called the stay in Paducah "a great experience."

“We are going to miss them, but we are excited about the new possibilities that are in store for the tournament," he said.

Pringles Park opened in 1998 and has a seating capacity of 6,000. The venue hosted the 1999 Southern League All-Star Game and will also host that event in 2011. Pringles Park also has luxury suites, a video board and merchandise shop that will be used for the championship.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded the OVC Baseball Tournament for the next three years,” said Tom Hanson, General Manager of the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. “Our community always does a great job in supporting major events, and I’m sure this tournament will be no different. We look forward to making this a special experience for all players, coaches, families and friends.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

JSU fifth best overall in OVC

When Jacksonvile State joined the Ohio Valley Conference in 2003, there was a general perception the Gamecocks would become a instant power in the league.

In the years that have passed, the Gamecocks have either fallen back or the rest of the league has caught up.

League officials announced the Comissioner' Cup standings for the 2008-09 academic year, ostensibly the All-Sports Trophy, and JSU was a distant fifth behind champion Murray State.

Murray State finished the year with 102 points, 11 more points than second place Eastern Kentucky. JSU has 82.

The Racers were bolstered by first place finishes in women’s soccer, women’s basketball and women’s golf and second place finishes in women’s cross country, men’s golf and baseball.

Here are the standings:

Murray State 102 points, Eastern Kentucky 91, Eastern Illinois 88, Morehead State 87, JSU 82, Southeast Missouri 81, Tennessee Tech 70.5, UT Martin 68.5, Austin Peay 65 and Tennessee State 55.5.

The Gamecocks picked up the majority of their points through first-place finishes in rifle and softball.

The award -- started in 1962-63 for men’s sports and 1980-81 for women’s sports -- was previously divided into a Men’s All-Sport Champion and a Women’s All-Sport Champion. Points were awarded for each of the 18 sponsored sports and each school was required to count its totals from each sport in its grand total.

Under the new scoring system, schools are required to count point totals for four main sports (football, volleyball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball) along with their next eight highest point totals from the remaining sports, regardless of gender. Morehead State, which does not compete in OVC football, counted baseball as one of its four required sports.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Softball game times

Here's the lineup for JSU's NCAA softball regional appearance in Knoxville. All times Central.

Friday, May 15
2:30 p.m. -- Nebraska vs. Jacksonville State (Game One)
5 p.m. -- James Madison vs. Tennessee (Game Two)
Saturday, May 16
12:30 p.m. -- Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (Game Three)
3 p.m. -- Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (Game Four)
5:30 p.m. -- Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (Game Five)
Sunday, May 17
1 p.m. -- Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 (Game Six)
3:30 p.m. (if necessary) -- Rematch of Game 6

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Something to think about

It’s been a while since we posted. Well, here’s a question that should make up for the wait.

It’s one we haven’t explored or have even seen brought up during the debate.

Jacksonville State officials just went before an NCAA academic committee to make its case for waivers against potential penalties against the football program for missing the APR benchmark for the third year in a row. The most visible of the penalties would be a ban on post-season play for the 2009 season, which, as the dominoes fell, could impact the Gamecocks’ guarantee games.

An decision is expected within the next three weeks.

All indications are the football program has been making what appears to be a good-faith effort to improving its academics. But the question for your consideration today is if the Gamecocks’ are denied the waiver and banned from post-season play in 2009, would you go watch them play and is the season really worth it? After all, the biggest thing the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II and Division III have going for them is they get to play for their football championships on the field.

Now, if you can’t play for the championship, is the season really worth playing?

Your responses are more than welcome here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New podcast, with special guest

Al's on vacation this week, so today I sat down with a special guest, the "Voice of the Gamecocks," Mike Parris. Mike's been behind the mic for Jax State for 26 years. He shares some of his experiences in this week's podcast. Have a listen below, or sign up on iTunes to have the latest episode delivered to your computer each week.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Trouble in paradise?

Here’s a story Jacksonville State officials don’t want you to know about, but one that has been a buzz about campus for a while.
High-profile quarterback Ryan Perrilloux faced a university student disciplinary hearing on Thursday following the report of several incidents earlier this year that university and multiple police sources have said involved him.
Since no formal charges have been brought, the hearing addressed code of conduct issues. And because there were no charges, athletic department sources did not believe there were any grounds from the legal system to remove the player from the football program.
The Gamecocks opened spring practice Friday and Perrilloux participated. The team is pinning its hopes for an OVC championship and beyond on him.
The hearing was closed and since its findings involve student records, the results are confidential. According to JSU policies, a written decision from the hearing is rendered within 10 days. Perrilloux would have the ability to appeal any decision should any unfavorable ruling be rendered.
Cedric Johnson, the troubled but talented quarterback Perrilloux replaced, was once suspended from student housing for issues that occurred early in his short term at JSU. Johnson was a midyear JUCO transfer and lasted one season before being dismissed shortly before the start of spring practice last year for violations of university policy.
Perrilloux came to JSU last spring after being dismissed from the LSU program following a series of off-field incidents.
Gamecocks officials have tried to shield the quarterback from trouble ever since he arrived, constantly surrounding him with coaches, players or other trusted personnel. Perrilloux told the Star once he understood the concern for supervision.
Perrilloux submitted his name to the NFL to gauge his viability in this year’s draft, but returned to school for his senior season after being told by NFL officials he was draftable but not until after the third round.

ITEM: You know, we never did learn this season whether Brylle Kamen, a freshman forward from France, was ever declared eligible by the NCAA.
Kamen and the Gamecocks were waiting all year to learn if, as JSU officials explained all season, his international course work met NCAA academic guidelines. JSU officials said repeatedly during the year the issue was tied up with the NCAA and Gamecocks coach James Green has said he wasn’t going to spend time worrying about an issue he had no control over.
It never has been confirmed if Kamen never got eligible, if the Gamecocks have to endure the process again in the coming season or Kamen was ruled eligible and the ruling came at such a late date in the season team officials decided to simply go ahead and redshirt him.
Asked about the situation following the last game of the season, Green called it a “compliance issue.”

ITEM: Similarly, it remains uncertain if early signee Trenton Marshall’s misfortunes at Jones County JC will affect his status on coming to JSU.
Marshall, one of the nation’s top JUCO scorers this season, was kicked off the JCJC team just before the Mississippi JUCO state championship game for a violation of team rules or policies (it was described both ways in media reports).
At JSU, a violation of policy is generally more serious than a violation of rules. It typically, but not exclusively, involves such issues as an arrest or failing a drug test.
Media sources in Mississippi said they hadn’t found any local police reports with Marshall’s name in them and JCJC coach Don Skelton has said the violation wasn’t as serious as people are making it out to be.

It was 30 years ago today ...

I was doing some archival research for the local golf scene – actually, the beginnings of the Sunny King Charity Classic – when I came across an interesting item in the paper that relates to present day Jacksonville State football.

On March 8, 1979, The Anniston Star reported that North Alabama had just hired a new offensive line coach. His name: Jack Crowe.

If the date wasn’t so significant, I probably would’ve given the item only a brief look to settle my curiosity and moved on. But it's 30 years ago today.

The story mentioned that Crowe was a former assistant to Bill Burgess at Oxford High School. It also said his UNA duties would include recruiting the Birmingham area.

“It was a new beginning for me, because I had been at Livingston long enough to know,” Crowe said earlier in the week when I mentioned the story to him. “And it was a beginning because in ’79 we (UNA) had a winning season and in ’80 was the first championship they'd ever won and the first time they’d ever been in the NCAA playoffs. That was a turning point.”

And he moved along the career path quickly.

“I coached the offensive line about two weeks,” he recalled. “The offensive coordinator left and I became the offensive coordinator.”

And from there he went to Wyoming, Auburn, Clemson, Arkansas, Baylor and, eventually, JSU.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Two for the books

Bert Smith sat in the clubhouse before Friday's game with Harvard talking with some of his other base-stealing teammates about how many they were going to get this day -- just like they always do before a Jacksonville State baseball game.
The senior second baseman hadn't had much luck early in the year, but he got two very significant swipes against the Crimson.
Smith stole second and third in the third inning to set up the Gamecocks' first run in their 4-1 victory. Just as significant, they moved him atop JSU's all-time stolen base list.
He now has 71 in his career -- in 81 attempts.
"I finally got it," he said. "There are two or three guys on the team who steal bags all the time and we sit around and talk about how many bases we're going to steal. Like today, I told Blake (Seguin) I was going to steal at least one bag and he said he was going to steal at least one bag. I'm not sure if he did, but we both talked about it before the game."
Smith has his sights on stealing 35 bases this year, but it took into the seventh game to get his first this season. In fact, he had had only one attempt prior to Friday's game.
He wasn't getting antsy. He has a green light, but he knows when to exercise caution.
"Every time I got on base, it was pretty much a guy who was quick to the plate," Smith said. "It's tough to steal when somebody's a 1.1 or 1.2 to the plate. The guys have been pretyt quick to the plate, so they've been holding me pretty good.
"Plus, I've been in the league four years. Everybody knows once I get on base I'm going to try to steal, so they always try to make it a little quicker to the plate."
Harvard starter Daniel Berardo was a tough pitcher to run on, too. But Smith found a way. Twice.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

JSU's best shot for a national title

Jacksonville State’s small bore and air rifle teams qualified for the 2009 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Rifle Championship.

The event is March 13-14 in Fort Worth at the TCU Rifle Range and Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

A total of 48 competitors were selected for the championships. The top eight teams in both the smallbore three-position and air rifle events were selected based on the average of the three highest regular-season aggregate scores with no more than one match at any given site. The average of the three highest scores was added to the aggregate scores from the designated qualifiers to determine the top eight teams.

The Gamecocks shot 2,327 in the smallbore and 2,344 in the air rifle at the NCAA Sectionals. Brian Carstensen was JSU’s top shooter with 588 points in the smallbore.

They will be joined in the field by Alaska-Fairbanks, Kentucky, Nevada-Reno, TCU, Army, Navy and West Virginia.

Individual and team competitions in smallbore three-position (60 shots) will be held March 13. Individual and team competitions in air rifle (60 shots) will be held March 14. The overall team champion will be determined by combining the smallbore and air rifle team totals into one aggregate score for each institution.

Monday, March 2, 2009

JSU request in NCAA's hands

Jacksonville State’s bid for a waiver to ease any Year Three historical penalties related to the academic progress of its football program is now in the hands of the NCAA.

The Gamecocks are expected to miss the APR minimum score for the third year in a row, for which penalties include a ban on post-season play.

“I can say the report was filed with the NCAA and … we’re waiting to hear from them,” university attorney Randy Woodrow said Monday.

It is believed JSU’s request will show extenuating circumstances related to its APR score, such as players being dismissed for the integrity of the program while still in good academic standing.

It is also believed the request will reflect what school officials believe is a good-faith effort toward improving the program’s academic performance, an effort that includes a demonstration of improved semester grades and the promotion of an assistant coach with duties tied to student-athlete academic accountability.

A decision is likely to come in April. The NCAA will make public its report on all institutions in May.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

JSU early signee off JUCO team

Two newspapers in Mississippi reported over the weekend that early Jax State basketball signee Trenton Marshall has been dismissed from his Jones County Junior College team for a violation of team rules.
The Laurel Leader Call said emails and phone calls to confirm the high-scoring guard was no longer on the team were not returned Saturday.
Marshall was suspended from Thursday's JUCO state championship game and the Hattiesburg American reported the player would not be with the team when it opens region tournament play Monday.
"He will not be participating with us any more," Jones coach Don Skelton told the American. "He was suspended for a violation of team rules."
Reporters checked the local police blotter in the days around the suspension announcement and did not find any incident involving the player.
Skelton told the American he has heard plenty of rumors about the cause of the suspension, but said "most of them are exaggerated or totally false.
"It's not a severe instance, I can say that," he said. "But there are going to be people who are going to run with it and act like there was something wild and crazy that happened, when really it hasn't."
It wasn't immediately known how the suspension might affect Marshall's availability with the Gamecocks.
Marshall, who attended the same high school as current Jax State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and played for current JSU assistant Kyle Roane at Jones last year, was the nation's third-leading JUCO scorer, averaging 25.5 points a game.

JSU baseball cancelled Sunday

Due to wintry weather overnight and field conditions, JSU's Sunday doubleheader at Middle Tennessee has been cancelled.
The teams were scheduled to play two nine inning games Sunday after weather postponed play Saturday, but overnight snow worsened field conditions.
The Gamecocks won the only game of the series Friday 10-6 behind four RBIs by Jake Welch.
The cancellation means ace Ben Tootle, who was supposed to pitch Saturday, hasn't pitched since Opening Day.
If the rotation held, he wouldn't throw again until the weekend home series with Harvard, but JSU coach Jim Case said Sunday the junior right-hander would pitch Tuesday at UAB.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

OVC's bracket busted again

When it comes to the Bracket Buster series, OVC stands for Oh Very Costly.

The conference had a dreadful showing in this year's made-by-TV event, going 3-7. Its top four teams according to the standings -- UT Martin, Morehead, Austin Peay and Murray -- didn't get a win nor did its top three teams according to the RPI (UTM, Peay, Murray).

The only wins the OVC registered came from Eastern Kentucky (over Ohio), Eastern Illinois (over Western Michigan) and resurgent Tennessee State (over Detroit). Jax State surrendered a 30-5 run during the course of its loss to Georgia Southern, a team that had lost eight games in a row.

Since 2006 when every team started participating, the OVC is 15-27 in Bracket Busters. It is 16-29 all-time.

2009 -- 3-7
2008 -- 4-6
2007 -- 3-8
2006 -- 5-6
2005 -- 1-1
2004 -- 0-1

Jax State is 1-3, winning its first experience against New Orleans, then losing to Chattanooga, Georgia State and, now, Georgia Southern. The Gamecocks are 1-1 in the return games, losing to New Orleans and beating Georgia State.

What's it get them; the OVC didn't even get a game on the ESPN family of networks this year? At least it's one less game the league's teams have to go out and find for next year's schedule, two in JSU's case if you count the game Chattanooga still owes the Gamecocks.

What do you think of the Bracket Busters concept, especially for teams, like JSU and Georgia Southern (or even woeful SEMO), near the bottom of their leagues' standings? Should every OVC team continue to play in it? How about half the teams one year and the other half the next? Or, if the league ever expands to 12 teams, how about four different teams over a three-year period?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hard Corps 2, Opponents 0

Meant to get this to you the other day, but got caught up in a couple things (mainly the nice golf weather Sunday).

The Hard Corps pep band got another one Saturday. And this time, the victim seemed to rather enjoy the treatment.

Eastern Kentucky's Colette Cole has been wearing a face guard since taking a pop in the nose against Tennessee State on Jan. 3. Saturday, she went to the foul line in the second half against the Gamecocks and the pep band didn't waste any time breaking into humming the theme from "Phantom of the Opera."

Cole caught on pretty quickly as she couldn't help chuckle as she set up for the shots.

Earlier this year, the band noticed SE Missouri player Lesley Adams had her shorts on backwards for the first half of that game and let her know it every time she came down the floor. The shorts were adjusted at halftime.

I'll say this: The pep band does have some annoying cheers, like their blood cheer ("... Hemoglobin. Hemoglobin. We want blood") and the run ups to when JSU players go to the line, but when they hit the mark, they are usually pretty good.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Walking a thin line

JSU athletic department officials don’t believe they have committed any NCAA violations, but, boy, it sure looks close.

In early January, junior quarterback Ryan Perrilloux appeared at an official team press conference to discuss spring practice and his decision to forgo the NFL draft with a soft-drink company logo displayed prominently on his JSU polo shirt. Then, last week, comments from student assistant Tommy Joe Whiddon appeared in a Florida newspaper relative to his brother Rayce’s verbal commitment to the Gamecocks.

While JSU officials claim no violations in these cases, both situations seem to walk a thin line.

NCAA bylaw 12.5.4 stipulates an institution’s official uniform and all other items of apparel shall bear only a single manufacturer’s or distributor’s normal label or trademark, and applies to just “competition” as well as pre- and post-game activities. It’s one thing for a coach to be linked to a popular product, and JSU strategically places a soft drink in front Crowe during his weekly in-season press conferences NASCAR-esque, but the rules are there to prevent the commercial exploitation of a student-athlete.

Bylaw 13.10.2 prohibits an institution from commenting about a prospect’s ability, potential contribution to the college team or the likelihood of his signing with the school, a violation JSU athletic department officials have accused The Star on several occasions of promoting in conversations with their coaches.

After it was noted in the Walton (Fla.) Sun that Tommy Joe Whiddon and John Houston Whiddon, a senior receiver on the team, both said they hoped to see their brother join them at JSU, Tommy Joe was quoted saying, “I just told him I wanted him to keep all of his options open. He had had a good season and had earned the right to be recruited. I didn't want him to base his decision just on me and John Houston being up here because he had to do what was right for him. It's his life. You only get this decision to make one time."

Sounds like a comment about a recruit.

Rayce officially joined his brothers Wednesday, signing with the Gamecocks on national signing day.

The NCAA, in an e-mail response to The Star, said it couldn’t state whether there was a violation in the apparel case unless it had more information. As to the recruiting comment question, it directed any questions to JSU.

JSU sports information director Greg Seitz explained away the shirt Perrilloux wore as “it’s our team shirt.” He said earlier this week when the question was revisited, “it’d be like him wearing a FUBU shirt. He could wear a Coca-Cola shirt. It’d be no different than wearing an OVC shirt.”

Of course, the Ohio Valley Conference doesn’t stand to make a buck by having one of its teams’ star players appear with its logo on his shirt or throw support toward the program to have the logo displayed on team wear whether the player is (improperly) compensated or not.

Seitz explained Whiddon’s public comments about a recruit as “He’s (Tommy Joe) a student. We don’t have graduate assistant coaches.” Still, he works in/for the football program, and you’d figured the rule would apply to everyone in a program’s staff regardless of their status.

Since the school claims no violations, these two circumstances become nothing more than a thing to make you go hmmmm.

To the Gamecocks’ credit, it has been said they have had fewer than a dozen secondary violations since moving to Division I. But these two instances should sound an alarm.

The solution? The NCAA should tighten some potential loopholes in its rules or JSU, especially now that university president Bill Meehan is on the NCAA Board of Directors, needs to steer clear of even the slightest appearance of impropriety.