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Sunday, September 11, 2005

45 to 10. It's a money game

I’ll never write much about football. I never cared for the sport as a spectator and never played it.

I spend my few forays into the sport at the tailgate. A rum and Coke or a gin and tonic is my preferred lubricant. God knows that a good football game can quickly ruin a mediocre conversation.

But in my view, that’s the point of football, it’s a social sport, you talk, a lot, while nothing much happens.

Nevertheless, into uncharted waters we go today, as my Eastern Illinois University Panthers were trounced yesterday by the Brigham Young University Cougars. The Division I Cougars took an early lead with two touchdowns. Our offensive line was out-weighed 50 pounds on average by their defensive line. The Panthers simply couldn’t make headway against the larger Utah opposition.

That put pressure on the Eastern defense, which was fighting to hold narrow strips of Panther turf. It was a money game. And as I was watching I was wondering what the Cougars were getting out of it?

Only three minutes into the game, the answer came, BYU had a streak of 11 games without a touchdown, broken by Eastern allowing one. Hmmn… Schools pay money to allow their teams to score?

Yep, if you don’t know much about college football, you should know this, big schools pay smaller opponents money to beat the small school senseless.

Okay, let’s not worry about that. EIU finally managed to get on the scoreboard. I thought that was a victory. And, I discovered something cool about replays of the game on the BYU television network, they cut all the stuff I hate about football out.

They also cut out the pictures of the cheerleaders being held aloft. (Sigh! I've linked to an EIU cheerleader for a great pix of these athletes in action).

The television shows a play, allows some commentary, cuts the huddle and close-ups of the bench out of the replay, and goes to the next play. Excellent. I couldn’t do better with my TiVo. Be gone earnest coaches. Go away bench warming freshmen. Let’s just watch football action with no nonsense.

Time outs? Gone! Commercial breaks? No more! This could make the game tolerable to a person like me.

The EIU teams have historically been unable to find a punter. This year they field senior Tom Schofield, who kicks like a rugby player. He was uneven, but got a lot of practice. By the end of the match, he was causing problems for the Cougars.

A sophomore, Mike Donato, led a line that was simply out-classed by the Division I Cougars. I think putting any points on the board was a great accomplishment for the EIU Quarterback. It should be exciting this year and next as the walk-on likes the ground game.

Eastern also fields a line of defense men with lots of experience. They were able to read the Cougars and slow them, especially in the third quarter. Some noted returning players for EIU include Vincent Webb Jr., Jermaine Mobley and Ryan Voss. All juniors.

The team is led by 19-year coach Bob Spoo. Spoo has been honored over the years for his coaching. His teams have won their conference championship, shared one year, in three of his 19 years at the helm, twice since 2001.

Final score BYU 45, EIU 10.

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