Monday, December 31, 2012

College Football: Sun Bowl Shines Outside the Spotlight

El Paso's Sun Bowl (Photo / gophergridiron.com)
El Paso's Sun Bowl (Photo / gophergridiron.com)

Born in the depth of the Depression, El Paso's Sun Bowl has persisted into its 79th year, despite lacking the prominence of its better known brethren, the Cotton and Sugar Bowls. All three were first played on New Year's Day in 1935.

The game is currently played at the permanent home of the UTEP Miners at Sun Bowl Stadium, which first opened in 1963 and was fitted into the rolling hills leading into the adjacent Franklin Mountains. The configuration makes the game prone to long shadows, and the El Paso climate is not always sunny, or even warm, for its annual New Year's Eve game day.

Fog, snow, rain, and even sun, have greeted players and fans over the years. Weather is so often unpredictable it begs the question of whether the original organizers were doing some optimistic marketing for their annual college bowl game in choosing its name.

Despite the unpredictable elements and less-than-marquee opponents, this year USC, the preseason #1 FBS team, comes in at 7-5 to face a 6-7 Georgia Tech team, the game captures what bowl games were envisioned to do. It provides an annual boost to the local economy and an opportunity for celebration just prior to the New Year.

It is accompanied by the oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament, the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational. Haskins made history at UTEP, then called Texas Western, when he started five black players in the team's 1966 NCAA Championship triumph over Kentucky. This year, fittingly, UTEP won the invitational.

The game is preceded in November by the Sun Bowl Parade, another highlight of the El Paso annual calendar. 280,000 people turned out for this year's event.

In the current bowl era, BCS games seemingly receive ceaseless hype and promotion, and smaller bowls come and go with annual frequency. The Sun Bowl for 79 years has managed to avoid the pitfalls of both.

This year's game airs at 2 PM Eastern on CBS.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

College Football: Arizona State Sails Past Navy

Arizona State was frequently asked about their ability to handle Navy's triple option in the run-up to yesterday's Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. Ultimately, it was Navy that struggled to handle ASU's offense in a 62-28 loss on Saturday afternoon.

Offensive MVP Marion Grice had 159 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for the Sun Devils and sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly executed the read option, shotgun, and single-back sets under center perfectly, passing for four touchdowns. He also ran for a fifth. Senior Matt Warrick led the Navy tacklers with nine in his final game.

Both teams finished the 2012 campaign with 8-5 marks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sports History: Ted Corbitt

Ted Corbitt (Photo / multidays.com)
Ted Corbitt (Photo / multidays.com)
It was five years ago this month that America's original ultramarathoner, Ted Corbitt, passed away at the age of 88.

Corbitt, quiet, slight, and standing just 5'7", was small in stature but prominent in accomplishment, having once been dubbed by New York City Marathon founder Fred Lebow as "the father of American distance running."

The accolades accorded Corbitt were many. He was at one time the US marathon champion and in 1952 was a member of the US Olympic marathon squad despite having first run the event just the year prior. At different times Corbitt held the American record in the marathon, 100 mile, and 25, 40 and 50 kilometer distances.

Corbitt was not content simply to compete, winning 30 of the some 200 marathons that he estimated he ran. He also played centrally in the organizing of competitions at a time when marathon races drew few fans and fewer participants. He helped to found the Road Runners Club of America in 1957 and was instrumental in developing standardized measuring guidelines for race distances. In 1958 he co-founded the New York Road Runners Club, and in 1959 he organized the country's first ultramarathon in New York, and won it.

Away from racing, Corbitt's accomplishments were also considerable. He served in the Army in WW II, earned his undergraduate degree in education from the University of Cincinnati, and later completed his masters in physical therapy.

He eventually rose to the rank of Chief Physical Therapist at New York's International Center for the Disabled. Until 1973, he ran to work every day, sometimes building 20 to 30 mile detours into his commute. He was a father to one son, Gary, and a husband to Ruth Butler for 42 years.

Corbitt grew, arguably, more active as he aged and certainly more committed to ultra events after bronchial asthma and the onset of age slowed his times and extended his distances. At 81 he walked 240 miles over six days. At 82 he walked 303.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

College Lacrosse: Navy to Play in Met Lacrosse Tournament

(Photo / Tommy Gilligan/West Point Public Affairs)
(Photo / Tommy Gilligan/West Point Public Affairs)
Lacrosse will find an unlikely home at the New York Mets' Citi Field this spring when the Navy Midshipmen play in the inaugural Metropolitan Lacrosse Classic on Sunday, March 17, 2013. The day opens with a Michigan-Colgate game at 1 pm followed by the Mids vs. Holy Cross at 4 pm. The Mids are 9-0 all-time against the Crusaders and the game will be a Patriot League contest.

The following week the Mids will play another Patriot League rival, Colgate, on March 23 at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank in Baltimore.

Navy's 2013 season gets underway on January 26 when they face Duke in an exhibition contest in Durham.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

College Football: Army-Navy Classic Yields Familiar Result

Navy defeated Army for the 11th straight year (Photo / uni-watch.com) 
Navy defeated Army for the 11th straight year (Photo / uni-watch.com)

Army senior quarterback Trent Steelman deserved a better result for his efforts as the Black Knights (2-10) fell to the Navy Midshipmen (8-4), 17-13, on Saturday. Steelman rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown while completing 4/5 through the air.

Navy trailed 13-10 in the fourth quarter, but a late touchdown by Navy's standout freshman signal-caller Keenan Reynolds staked Navy to the four-point victory.

With the win, Navy clinched the Commander-in-Chief's trophy outright. Their 2012 season finale is the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on December 29 against the PAC-12's Arizona State (7-5).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alfred Morris - New York Times, December 2

     (Photo / Library of Congress)
(Photo / Library of Congress)

FIELD's Tom Flynn had an article in today's New York Times on the Washington Redskins' standout rookie running back, Alfred Morris. Morris still drives a 1991 Mazda, his first and only car, and his end zone celebration mimicking a home run swing is a tip of his cap to a group of Little Leaguers whom he met this summer.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

College Football: Notre Dame to Title Game

Te'o_entering_Notre_Dame_stadium (1)
Manti Te'o prior to the Wake Forest game (Photo / public domain)
Notre Dame finished the regular season undefeated at 12-0, earning a place in the national championship game against Alabama (12-1). The Crimson Tide notched their own spot in the game by holding on to defeat Georgia (11-2), 32-28, in the SEC Championship. The BCS National Championship Game will be played on Monday, January 7, in Miami.

Another Western State Adds Varsity Lacrosse

For several years I've contributed lacrosse articles to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  This week I w...