Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hypocrite or competitor?

The rivalry between USC and UCLA has always been one of the best in college football. From Gary Beban and O.J. Simpson, to John Robinson and Terry Donahue, the rivalry has had big names and big games. After USC's 28-7 win Saturday night, you can be sure that Trojans coach Pete Carroll is no longer on the Christmas card list of UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel. Here's the setup: With USC lead 21-7 and less than a minute to play, the Trojans take a knee on first down. UCLA calls its first timeout. When plays resumes ...

You might recall that it was only two weeks earlier that Carroll complained - some might say whined - that Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh had his team go for a two-point conversion with a 27-point lead over USC with 6:47 remaining. Is this move by Carroll equally as bush league as Harbaugh's? The Carroll-backers will say UCLA got what it deserved by calling a timeout when it could have let USC take two knees and end the game.

After the game, Carroll said it was "just the heart of a competitor, just battling,"

Neuheisel too the high road, saying on that "they have every right to throw the ball deep. It's our job to cover it."

So what do you think? Classless act? Hypocritical? Just part of the game?

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So who's going to win?

West Liberty is having one of those seasons, blazing through new frontiers and getting noticed for an offensive football team that is as fun to watch as any June Jones produced at Hawaii.

California is a tradition power team, based on good defense, strong running by Windell Brown and devastating passing from Josh Portis.

The two teams meet Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II quarterfinals at West Liberty. The Hilltoppers are coming off a record-setting 84-63 victory over Edinboro and Cal just avenged a previous loss to Shippensburg with a 26-21 victory.

Most are talking about this number: 84. But the important number is 63. The Hilltoppers defense gave up 63 points to Edinboro, a team Cal defeated in the regular season. West Liberty will have difficulty scoring half as many points against Cal as it did Edinboro because the offense will not have the ball as much.

Cal's running game should control the West Liberty defense and eat up time. Vulcans' head coach John Luckhardt said the key is scoring points. But how many? If Cal hits in the 40s, it will win. If not, the Vulcans will lose.

Edinboro missed a lot of tackles against West Liberty, something Cal will not do. The Hilltoppers are a feel-good story but I think it will end Saturday.

Cal 49, West Liberty 34

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Playoff prognostications

Coaches are loath to say anything that might become locker room material for their opponents. So the interviews this week with the players and coaches of this area's two playoff teams - California and Washington & Jefferson - were politcally correct. Heaps of praise and doses of platitudes were dispensed. So let's take some time to diagnose the two playoff games this week on ordinary terms.

Here goes:

California at Shippensburg

Can you say revenge?
That's what we are talking about here for the Vulcans, who had their pride severely damaged by a 42-35 loss to Shippensburg in the PSAC State Game two weeks ago. It wasn't simply that the Red Raiders' Wing-T offense was baffling to the Cal defense, it was more the embarrassment of allowing wide-open receivers, missing tackles and permitting Shippensburg's offensive line to shove Cal's front backward.

That is not the type of video you want to show to impress incoming recruits.

You can bet that Cal has been working on the Wing-T, but what it really needs to do is concentrate on winning the battles up front. In that scenario, the defense won't have to blitz as often, allowing for more coverage in the secondary to make Ship's passing offense less lethal.

On offense, Cal must sustain a running game so the Ship's offense stays off the field. The blueprint for that was in the Vulcans' win last week over Fayetteville State.

The Wing-T offense is not unique, but it is hard to defend. what makes it easier to defend is winning the battle along the line of scrimmage. If that happens, Cal wins the game. If not, then it's time to hit the recruiting trail.

Wash & Jeff at Mount Union

If everything falls into place for W&J, if the running game produces its best effort of the season, if the quarterback play is sharp and efficient, if the offensive line rises up to the occasion, if the defense flies to the football, makes sure tackles and defends the run and pass better than any time this season, then . . .

W&J loses by only 21.

Mount Union is the defending NCAA Division III champion because the program has better players than W&J and probably every other D-III program. That's why the Purple Raiders will beat W&J and probably go on to win an 11th national title since 1993.

That said, this game will be interesting for this reason: It will show what a successful program such as W&J needs to do to get to Mount Union's level. Watch the play of the Purple Raiders line, and the way they execute. Watch how well they play defense, plugging holes and producing turnovers. Watch how their skill players dominate a game.

Losing to Mount Union is not a shame, or an indictment on W&J's program. It's one of the best in the country.

Losing to Mount Union without coming away with a better understanding of what's needed to reach its level?

Now that would be a shame.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Correal makes impressive debut

Emily Correal, a Peters Township graduate and three-time Observer-Reporter Girls Basketball Player of the Year, made her collegiate debut Sunday as William & Mary played Radford.

A starting forward for William and Mary, Correal helped her team to an easy 70-40 victory.

In 25 minutes, she scored nine points and gathered a game-high 15 rebounds (11 defensive) in addition to three assists, two blocks and six turnovers. She scored W&M's first points of the year.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

PAC men's basketball preview

Thomas More turned in a rare double play last year in basketball, winning both the Presidents' Athletic Conference men's and women's championships. It should be tougher this time around for the Saints, who suffered some big losses to graduation and have a new head coach on the men's side. The following is a preview of the Presidents' Athletic Conference men's teams in predicted order of finish, according to the conference's preseason poll:

1. Thomas More
Head coach: Jeff Rogers (1st year)
Last year: 102- in conference, 19-9 overall. Won PAC tournament. Lost to Capital in first round of NCAA tournament.
Outlook: The Saints put together one of the best stories in Division III basketball last year, going from worst (3-23 two years ago) to conference champion. head coach John Ellwood is gone, leaving for the same job at Division II Ashland. Also gone are four starters. Jeff Rogers, the Saints' assistant coach last season, moves over one spot on the bench this year so there won't be much of a change int he team's style of play. Senior point guard Romell Salone (9.9 ppg) is the only returning starter but the Saints' reserves last season logged more minutes than those of most teams. Thomas More has 13 newcomers on the roster including six transfers. With a new coach and so many new players, there's bound to be a period of adjustment. But the Saints will be tough to beat, especially at home, where they were 12-2 last year.

2. Washington & Jefferson
Head coach: Glenn Guierrez (4th year - 48-38 career)
Last year: 7-5, 20-10. Won ECAC South Division championship.
Outlook: The Presidents' inside game took a huge hit with the graduation of Josip Lucic-Jozak and Wahad Olawabi. Both were first-team all-conference picks last year and 1,000-point career scorers. Look for a larger scoring burden to fall to swingmen Albert Varacallo (10.1 ppg) and Brian Felker, pictured, (11.3 ppg). Also back is point guard Matt Drakeley (7.2 ppg). Guard Paul Matthews, who transferred from Hampden-Sydney for the second semester of last season but played in only two games with the Presidents, should have a much larger role this season. “These four players are as good as anyone else’s four in the conference," Gutierrez said. The Presidents will play good defense and shoot well from the perimeter. If they can hold their own on the boards, then they'll have a good shot at winning the conference championship.

3. Bethany
Head coach: Andrew Sachs (1st year)
Last year: 9-3, 17-12
Outlook: Sachs, who comes to Bethany from Holy Cross, is the Bison's third coach in three seasons. Bethany has a Washington County look as the roster includes senior Joe Testa (Trinity), senior Jonas Ankrom (Canon-McMillan), freshman Nick Wilcox (Peters Township) and freshman Nick Bryant (Washington). Gone is Lance Beckwith, a first-team all-PAC pick who played only one season with the Bison. Testa and junior Ryan McFadden give Bethany two returning starters inside. Ankrom, who sat out last season with an injury, is a good perimeter shooter. Expect Wilcox to make an immediate impact. With so much coaching turnover, you expect there to be a period of adjustment. if the Bison can adapt quickly to Sachs' style and schemes, then the Bison will be a dangerous team.

4. Grove City
Head coach: Steve Lamie (12th year - 156-132 career)
Last year: 6-6, 12-13
Outlook: The Wolverines have three returning starters, including 6-7 Andy O'Keefe (12.8 ppg), fifth-year senior Joe McCoy (11.0 ppg) and three reserves who combined to make 10 starts a year ago. Guard Luke Tomaselli, who missed last season because of injury, also returns. When Lamie is given that kind of experience, he usually produces a team that contends for the conference title. The key will be developing a reliable group of reserves to help what should be a strong starting lineup. Though picked fourth in the preseason poll, don't count out the Wolverines.

5. Westminster
Head coach: Larry Ondako (7th year - 76-85 career)
Last year: 7-5, 10-17
Outlook: Westminster hopes the strides it made during the second half of last season carry over to this year. The Titans started last year 1-11, their worst start ever with the one win coming against eventual league champion Thomas More. Westminster was resilient and won nine of its last 16. A similar start could be coming as Ryne Murray, the reigning PAC Player of the Year after leading the conference in scoring (20.2) and rebounding (10.4), won't play until mid-December because he has only one semester of eligibility remaining. Until then, the Titans will rely on sophomore Ron Briggs (7.6 ppg) and senior Steve Bielich (10.7 ppg), the latter a three-year starter who has been injury riddled.

6. Thiel
Head coach: Tim Loomis (4th year)
Last year: 1-11, 2-23
Outlook: Loomis, the former California University coach, called last year's disaster of a season "the toughest I've ever gone through." By the beginning of the second semester, the Tomcats had lost six of its top eight players. But don't expect Thiel to be down for long. The Tomcats could be the surprise team of the league. Loomis has gutted the roster and brought in several impact players, including three transfers, to go with guards Devon Adams (11.2 ppg) and Cory Chaffee (11.1 ppg). The Tomcats will do more pressing and trapping on defense. "We'll be able to stop people this year," Loomis says. Look for Youngstown State transfer Blair Rozenbald to make a significant contribution.

7. WaynesburgHead coach: Frank Ferraro (7th year - 62-83 career)
Last year: 2-10, 6-19.
Outlook: Like most of Waynesburg's athletic teams, this program has struggled in recent years. The Yellow Jackets have seen their win total drop in each of the last three seasons. Last year's 19 losses were the most for Waynesburg since 1968-69 -- the season before Rudy Marisa became the Yellow Jackets' coach. Waynesburg has nine players returning but only two starters, junior Ryan Courneen (13.0 ppg) and senior point guard Jarrell Rodriguez (5.6 ppg). The Yellow Jackets have been undersized for many years and that won't change this season. The big preseason question is, other than Courneen, who is going to provide scoring?

Head coach: Jeff Santarsiero (14th year)
Last year: 0-0, 8-17
Outlook: Geneva is not eligible to win the conference championship. The Golden Tornadoes had an unexpected poor season last year and defense was the primary reason as Geneva allowed a whopping 81 points per game. Four starters return, including the top two scorers Richard Colick 916.0 ppg) and Dave Phillips (13.6 ppg). Also back is long-range shooter Bryan Hill (11.1 ppg), who was limited only seven games because a knee injury and a bout with mono. T.J. Bevilacqua, a 6-5 swingman, is a transfer from Illinois Tech, and should be an impact newcomer. The Golden Tornadoes have the potential to be vastly improved, but it all depends on their ability to stop opponents. "We're all about defense this year," Santarsiero said. Geneva plays at Division I Youngstown State Nov. 24.

Saint Vincent
Head coach: D. P. Harris (7th year - 125-40 career)
Last year: 0-0, 22-3
Outlook: Saint Vincent is not eligible to win the conference championship. The Bearcats, who are in their final season as a Division III provisional member, are coming off a 22-win season but that was accomplished with several holders from the Bearcats' schoalrship days. Four starters who combined for 71 percent of the offense have graduated. The lone returning starter is guard B.J. McGill (11.5 ppg). Mike Watkins (Ringgold) gives the bearcats an inexperienced 6-8 player in the low post. Saint Vincent must get immediate production from several newcomers, the most interesting of which is 6-11 center Alberto Benetti from Verona, Italy. The Bearcats enter the season with a 27-game home-court winning streak. We're going to play fast and we're going to press," Harris said. "We're kidding our selves if we think we're going to put together another 22-win season. We're looking forward to next year so we can compete for a conference championship."

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Friday, November 13, 2009

College pregame notes


California got a second-chance to the season by being included in the NCAA Division II playoffs. But the Vulcans, coming off a 42-35 loss to Shippensburg in the PSAC State Game, did not look anything like the team that has made back-to-back trips to the national semifinals.

The defense was dazed and confused trying to stop the Wing-T offense of Shippensburg and trailed at one point, 42-14, before rallying in the fourth quarter. Fayetteville State does not run the Wing-T so Cal's defense, led by linebackers Dontey Brown and Brett Diamond, won't have to worry about it.

Fayetteville State has speed in the backfield and size along the offensive line. But the quarterback position has been a problem. Head coach Ken Phillips made a quarterback switch in the second half of last week's CIAA title game against Bowie State.

Still, Cal's success depends on whether it can continue to throw the ball well, and Josh Portis has done that most of the season, and whether the defense contains the Fayetteville State running game.

Opponent: Fayetteville State
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Adamson Stadium in California
Records: Cal is 8-3. Fayetteville State is 8-3.
On the air: WCAL-FM 91.9
Television: None
Games remaining: Possible playoff game at Shippensburg

Washington & Jefferson
Waynesburg University

Here are three reasons why W&J should win this game.

1. The Presidents are 24-1 against Waynesburg in home games.
2. The running game should be able to control the football against a young, inexperienced Waynesburg defense.
3. They need this game to have any hope of making the playoffs.

Here are three ways in which Waynesburg can win.

1. Ride the passing arm of quarterback Brad Dawson.
2. Force turnovers from what has become a shaky quarterback position for W&J.
3. Dominate the return game with Scott Cree producing a couple scores early.

Opponent: Waynesburg
When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Cameron Stadium in Washington
Records: W&J is 8-1, 4-1 in the PAC. Waynesburg is 5-4, 2-3 in PAC.
On the air: WJPA-AM 1450, WCYJ-FM 88.7
Television: None
Games remaining: Possible playoff game

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cal's Andrews gets extra year of eligibility

The California University women’s basketball team, which is ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Division II USA Today/ESPN preseason poll, got a little stronger Tuesday.
California received word from the NCAA that point guard Crystal Andrews (pictured) has been granted another season of eligibility. Andrews received the extra season because she sat out a year at Pitt-Johnstown because of injury before transferring to California, where she played the two years.
Andrews averaged 10.1 points per game last season and started 30 of the Vulcans’ 34 games. She also led California in assists. Andrews joins Brooque Williams (18.0 ppg) and Kayla Smith (15.2 ppg) as returning starters.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Cal women's soccer gets first NCAA berth

The California University women’s soccer team received an at-large bid Monday to the NCAA Division II Championships. It is the first NCAA tournament berth for the Vulcans.

California will play West Virginia Wesleyan in a first-round game Friday in Kutztown. The starting time has not been determined. Kutztown earned an opening-round bye and will host the winner of the Cal-WVW game on Sunday.

Under third-year head coach Al Alvine, Cal established a program record with 16 wins, earned its first PSAC West title and made its first-ever appearance in the PSAC tournament.

West Virginia Wesleyan (12-6-1) earned an automatic berth to the 48-team tournament by winning the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. The Bobcats won their third third-straight WVIAC title.

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Change that bookmark

Because "The Big Blog on Campus" was changed from Blogger's server to the Observer-Reporter's server Monday, you might have to create a new bookmark for the blog. Make sure you bookmark:

Hope, Rich Rod and cheap shots

We're thinking Purdue coach Danny Hope won't be invited to Rich Rodriguez's house for Thanksgiving dinner this year.

After Purdue rallied to defeat Michigan 38-36 Saturday - the Boilermakers' first win in Ann Arbor since 1996 - Hope and Rodriguez were meeting on the field when the Purdue coach made sure to bring over offensive lineman Zack Reckman. It was Reckman who was suspended for a game earlier this season after delivering a late hit against Northern Illinois. It seems that Hope and the Boilermakers believe Rodriguez is to blame.

So Hope wanted Rodriguez to know that he didn't appreciate him ratting out his player. After Michigan’s Jonas Mouton was suspended for a game early in the season for punching Notre Dame’s Eric Olsen, Rodriguez made sure to let everyone know he’d be turning in anybody he saw playing dirty.

So Hope brought Reckman over today to tell Rodriguez “Thanks, coach. We appreciate what you did.”

Rodriguez did not take too kindly to Hope’s antics and mentioned it after the game.

"I was a little disappointed that, after the game, their coach seemed to bring the lineman over like I was the reason that his lineman got suspended for that one game," Rodriguez said. "I don’t know where that came from. I talked to him on the phone and told him that wasn’t me – that this is way back when. I didn’t have anything to do with that young man getting suspended for that one game."

You can view the Purdue player's shot shot here:

Click here.

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W&J women in D-III soccer tournament

The Washington & Jefferson College women's soccer team will be making its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III tournament after earning the Presidents' Athletic Conference's automatic berth.

The Presidents (12-6-2) will travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday for a 1:30 p.m. contest against the Calvin College Knights (13-4-1).

Ohio Northern (15-4-1) takes on Wittenberg (11-4-5) in the other opening-round contest at the Calvin four-team pod at 11:00 a.m. Friday. The first-round winners will meet in a second-round match Saturday afternoon.

W&J won the PAC championship Saturday by defeating host Grove City, 1-0, on a second-half goal by Chrissy Marcius (pictured).

Calvin received one of 21 at-large (Pool C) bids to the tournament. The Knights will be making their fifth consecutive trip to the postseason. Calvin lost in a penalty-kicks shootout last week in the MIAA tournament semifinals to Kalamazoo.

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He's outta here!

There are things you see at small college football games that just never occur at the higher levels of the sport. Saturday afternoon's PSAC State Game between California and Shippensburg provided one of those moments.
Gorden Blain, who was doing the color for the SPORTSFEVER Television Network's production, walked out of the telecast area during the game, apparently upset because one of the local television stations failed to pick up the feed. Blain, who is normally a sidelines reporter during the games, left the play-by-play announcer, Jason Bristol, by himself for most of the third quarter and part of the fourth before returning to finish the game. Blain spent part of his absence standing outside the door to the telecast area.
SPORTSfever was producing the game for affiliates throughout the state, including channels in Pittsburgh (PCNC), Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

W&J nets PAC women's soccer title

Freshman midfielder Chrissy Marcius scored the game's only goal as Washington & Jefferson successfully defended its Presidents' Athletic Conference women's soccer championship by defeating host Grove City, 1-0, in the tournament final Saturday.

The Presidents (12-6-2) earned their first win at Grove City since the 2005 season and receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament for the second consecutive season. For the second year in a row, W&J won both its semifinal and championship matches on the road.

Third-seeded W&J and top-seeded GCC (11-6-3) played a scoreless first half with the Wolverines holding a 7-3 advantage in shots, while W&J held the slight edge in corner kicks, 2-1.

The Wolverines continued to hold an edge in the stat sheet in the second half, but Marcius converted on a scoring opportunity in the 60th minute for the only goal the Presidents would need.

W&J sophomore goalie Stephanie Saussol held the Wolverines off the scoreboard the rest of the way and finished with 10 saves. Saussol recorded her sixth shutout of the season.

The NCAA will release the tournament bracket Monday morning.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

College pregame notes


No one, outside of the most ardent fan and teammate, thought California would be in this position after the first two weeks of the season. The Vulcans will play a team in Shippensburg that appears to have destiny on its side. The Red Raiders have won three game by a combined 10 points, knocking off then-No. 3 Bloomsburg, 28-27, to wrap up the spot in the State Game.

The great debate this week is whether the State Game is necessary, considering the loser might not receive a playoff bid because of three losses. But that doesn't seem likely, considering the PSAC has a strong reputation. Cal could probably most afford a loss because the Vulcans have made it to the national semifinals the past two seasons.

Cal will be playing on a grass field at Shippensburg but that should not be a factor because the weather is expected to be sunny and clear. That's good news for tailback Windell Brown, who has run the ball effective since returning midseason from an ankle injury in the opener.

Opponent: Shippensburg
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Where: Seth Grove Stadium in Shippensburg
Records: Cal is 8-2, 7-0 in the PSAC. Shippensburg is 8-2, 6-1 in the PSAC.
On the air: WCAL-FM 91.9
Television: PCNC (live)
Games remaining: Possible playoff berth

Washington & Jefferson

The pain from last week's loss to Thomas More is still there but the Presidents need to win their next two games if they expect to have any chance at receiving a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

The Presidents struggled on offense in the second half of last week's game and the quarterback combo of Steven Shumaker and Gino Rometo looked rattled and, at times, confused. They have to play well for W&J to win.

The defense has steadily improved this season and end Jacob Bloomhuff is having an outstanding season. Bloomhuff ranks second in sacks (1.44 per game) in NCAA Division III. Wittenberg defensive lineman Eddie Vallery leads the nation with an average of 1.75 sacks per game.

Opponent: Bethany
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Where: Bison Stadium
Records: W&J is 7-1, 3-1 in the PAC. Bethany is 2-6, 1-4 in the PAC.
On the air: WJPA-AM 1450
Television: None
Games remaining: Waynesburg


After last week's loss to Grove City, the Yellow Jackets need a win this week to assure a fourth straight season of finishing with a .500 or better record. Waynesburg quarterback Brad Dawson has passed for 2,175 yards this season, making him the fourth in school history to surpass 2,000 yards. The others are John Huntley (2004 in 1968), Darren Elvey (2,044 in 1997), and Jeff Dumm, who did it three times from 2002-2004).

Jamelle Bowers leads the stable of running backs with an average of 8.3 yards per carry, 408 on 49 carries. Scott Cree leads the team with 774 all-purpose yards and Ray Hightower has 33 receptions for 487 yards and five touchdowns.

Opponent: Thiel
When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Wiley Stadium in Waynesburg
Records: Waynesburg is 4-4, 1-3 in the PAC. Thiel is 3-5, 1-3 in the PAC.
On the air: WCYJ-FM 88.7
Television: None
Games remaining: at W&J

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

PAC: Big 2, Little 8

Washington & Jefferson and Thomas More played a memorable football game Saturday at Cameron Stadium, one that decided the Presidents' Athletic Conference championship.

That shouldn't come as a surprise. For years, W&J has been the giant in the Presidents' Athletic Conference, in the size of both its football linemen and its wallet. The Presidents have won 22 PAC football championships. And W&J's success has not been limited to football. Over the last decade, the Presidents have built a powerful athletic program with full-time head coaches and several sparkling new playing facilities as its blueprint for success.

Thomas More is a relative newcomer to the PAC, having joined in 2005. But the Saints have become a major player. Last year, Thomas More won PAC titles in the conference's three marquee sports: football, men's basketball and women's basketball.

There is little doubt that W&J and Thomas More are the powerhouse athletic programs in the PAC. While Grove City has had much success - primarily in the pool, on the tennis courts and in the running sports - and Westminster's women won the conference's all-sports trophy last year on the strength of titles in volleyball and track & field, there is a big gap between W&J, Thomas More and the rest of the PAC. With the exception of cross country, the Big Two can be found in the top three in all current men's sports standings. The same can be said for women's volleyball and women's soccer. In reminds of the old days of Big Ten football with Ohio State, Michigan and then everybody else battling for third place.

This should concern the PAC because it's possible - some might say likely - that W&J and Thomas More will leave the PAC in the near future. W&J has made overtures on at least two occasions, including this year, to the North Coast Athletic Conference about joining that league. When Thomas More, which is located in Crestview Hills, Ky., joined the PAC many expected it to be a short-term relationship before the Saints joined a conference based closer to its campus. Thomas More had played as an independent before joining the PAC.

If W&J and Thomas More leave the PAC, then it will be a huge blow to the conference. Think back to the state of Big East football when Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami bolted for the ACC. The PAC will be in worse shape than Big East football was in 2005.

Four of the current PAC schools have athletic programs that are light years behind W&J and Thomas More. Bethany did not win a PAC championship in any sport last year. The last Bison titles came in the 2007-08 school year in men's basketball and softball. Thiel wins the conference title each year in wrestling, but there are only three schools that field teams in that sport and the other two have trouble filling the weight classes. Chatham is an all-girls school and the development of its athletic program is in its infancy.

The athletic program at Waynesburg is the worst in the PAC. The Yellow Jackets haven't won a conference championship in any sport since a volleyball title in 2004. The men's teams at Waynesburg haven't hoisted a PAC title trophy since it football title in 2003. That's amazing when you consider the school's president is a former high school and college coach.

Geneva and St. Vincent are currently completing the process of becoming full-fledged members of the PAC. However, neither is showing the ability to become a power in the league.

There are some people at W&J who openly joke about the sorry state of the athletic programs at Bethany, Thiel and Waynesburg. W&J football coach Mike Sirianni even took a shot at Thiel's football program after the Presidents lost to Thomas More.

"We haven't been good on offense all season. Who have we really played? Thiel?" Sirianni said.

If W&J and Thomas More leave the PAC for other leagues, then will the rest of NCAA Division III be joking about what's left of the PAC?


Why W&J lost

It won't take hours of pouring over stats, watching game films or discussing strategy foul-ups to figure out why Washington & Jefferson College's football team lost 14-7 to Thomas More Saturday at Cameron Stadium.
The reason is simple.
The one guy who could have saved the team from a defeat that cost a Presidents' Athletic Conference title spent nearly all the game on the W&J sidelines.
That's where Bobby Swallow watched most of the game, in street clothes.
Swallow ran out of eligibility after a record-setting career as quarterback of this team for the past three seasons.
W&J does not have anyone who can replace Swallow, at least not on a skill level to match the left-handed quarterback. In last season's 35-29 loss to Thomas More, Swallow kept W&J in the game with one of his best efforts of his career. He completed 40 of 58 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns. He was the only offense W&J had in that game.
W&J's uses a quarterback-driven spread offense and it's served the Presidents well. Over the past decade, they have had above-average running backs but no one who could carry a team through a season.
That's what head coach Mike Sirianni expects his quarterbacks to do. This past Saturday, Gino Rometo and Steven Shumaker did not provide the spark, especially in a second half when the Presidents mustered just 18 passing yards and two first downs. It was so bad that even the basic snaps from center were an adventure. Rometo mishandled two for losses of 22 yards.
The Presidents have enjoyed a string of great quarterbacks. Swallow followed Chris Edwards, who followed Brian Dawson, and the wins and playoff appearances were a given in most of those seasons.
Rometo and Shumaker are not at that level yet, and their struggles were evident against a strong Thomas More defense. Those types of problems are easily hidden in a weak PAC conference schedule but not against the Saints.
Until W&J gets better play from the quarterbacks in these types of games, wins will be difficult to come by.

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