January 04, 2012
Making the morning rounds.
• You make the call. All the bounces seemed to go Michigan's way in Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech, none more so than the official decision to overturn a diving touchdown catch by Tech's Danny Coale in overtime. According to officials, Coale briefly lost possession of the ball as he hit the ground, negating the touchdown; according to ESPN's broadcast team (Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge) and the instant analysis on Twitter — both of which generally concluded the catch should stand — that ruling was anything but "conclusive." It may have also cost the Hokies the game: On the next play, third-string kicker Justin Myer pushed a field goal attempt wide, setting up an easy kick for Michigan's Brendan Gibbons that sealed a 23-20 Wolverine win.
You have one good look at the play above, in real time and slo-mo from the broadcast. (The ESPN producer who posted the clip titled it "Danny Coale robbed of amazing TD catch.") You also have this still look at the decisive moment, courtesy of US Presswire:
From the video replays, I thought it was a good catch at the end of a spectacular effort. From the photo, I think the officials probably nailed it. But you'll see what you want to see. [US Presswire]
• We hardly knew ye. Stanford is bidding a reluctant sayonara to its Face-of-the-Program quarterback, Andrew Luck, and now to the All-Americans who protected him, too: Left tackle Jonathan Martin and guard David DeCastro both announced their plans Tuesday to forego their final season of eligibility in Palo Alto for the NFL draft. Like their star quarterback, Martin and DeCastro are both fourth-year juniors on schedule to pick up their degrees on their way out, and both are projected in the top half of the first round after starting 39 consecutive games and picking up back-to-back all-conference nods by Pac-12 coaches.
As a unit, the line anchored by Martin and DeCastro has allowed a grand total of 25 sacks over the last three years — fewer than any team in the country except Boise State — while also establishing a straight-ahead ground attack that averaged well over 200 yards per game all three seasons. [San Jose Mercury News]
Some of the many, many other premature departures announced Tuesday:
• Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who leaves ASU with a formidable legacy of big hits, dumb penalties and untapped potential after failing to earn so much as "honorable mention" nod from Pac-12 coaches this year. At least he'll always have the photo of the year. [Arizona Republic]
• Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who went from preseason obscurity to unanimous All-American after leading the nation in sacks and forced fumbles. You may not believe it, with the fired head coach and all, but it turns out Illinois' defense this year was actually pretty dang good. [Chicago Tribune]
• Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who's leaving with the school record for career receptions (210) and the Big East record for receptions in a season (115). That's on top of four career touchdown passes and nine touchdown runs, including a 91-yarder that stands as the longest run in school history. He's considered a late first-round or second-round pick. [Newark Star-Ledger]
• South Florida running back Darrell Scott, best remembered as a five-star bust at his first school, Colorado. Scott took advantage of his second chance to lead USF this year with 814 yards rushing, though a disproportionate chunk of that — including all five of his touchdowns on the ground — came against Ball State, Florida A&M and UTEP back in September. [Tampa Tribune]
• San Diego State tailback Ronnie Hillman, who led the Mountain West for the second year in a row and finished third nationally with 1,711 yards — more than SDSU ever got in a season from former Aztec All-American Marshall Faulk. (For his career, Hillman averages 129.7 yards per game over two years to Faulk's 127.5 over three years.) Hillman is actually giving up two years of eligibility: He was academically ineligible out of high school in 2009, and spent the year waiting tables at an Applebee's in Georgia. He'll do slightly better as a likely second-day pick. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
• Iowa offensive lineman Reilly Reiff, a first-team All-Big Ten pick by league coaches and media who's likely to go among the first dozen picks in April. He is very, very large. [Cedar Rapids Gazette]
• That's what I call staying power. One guy who's not going anywhere anytime soon: Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who's fended off the usual parade of suitors this winter and just agreed to a new five-year contract that will pay him $2 million a year. That's a $375,000 raise over his current deal, which calls for a $100,000 raise each time the Broncos win at least eight games. [Idaho Statesman]
Quickly… Nick Brassell is having a birthday party, and you're invited. … Vanderbilt boots a pair of backups for unspecified violations of team rules. … Jordan Williamson gets a nice message from a former Stanford player who knows what it feels like to play the goat. … North Carolina's players wouldn't mind some flashier uniforms. … Penn State's coaching search seems destined to land a Shula … And if Michigan had let him keep running on this 22-yard loss, David Wilson might have become the next Roy Riegels.