Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pointing Us to a Playoff!

My daughter got me the "Death to the BCS" book for Christmas. I could not put it down and finished it on Dec. 25, 2010.

The book by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan does a great job of exposing a great job of exposing the BCS for what it is: an un-American, unfair money grab by some of the nation's best universities.

I challenge any sane person to read this and still support the sham that is "bowl subdivision."

The book contains many examples and illustrations of why this farce must end. There is, however, one thread that keeps coming to mind for me:

Many Public institutions need taxpayer subsidies to cover the cost of their athletic departments. These schools are doing this when they are well aware that a football playoff could easily support said programs without the taxpayer subsidy.

This fact seems unfathomable in today's economic times.

What can we do about this? Well, you can contact your alma mater and voice your displeasure.

San Diego State University, my undergraduate college, is not part of the "Big Six" conferences that siphon 86-percent of the current bowl revenue. Their conference, the Mountain West, is currently on the outside.

As much as I hate to admit it, if the Aztecs were in the "cartel" (that's the book's fair term) they, too, would likely support the status quo. That's the frustrating part: If you get in the club, all good sense goes by the wayside, and you simply shrug your shoulders and run to the bank with your deposit.

If President Obama just got "don't ask, don't tell" pushed through can he not mandate a 16-team playoff. Executive order!

Already 90-percent of fans dislike the BCS. Yet more grassroots support is needed to keep the light shining on the nuclear-sized roach that is the BCS.

I'm a fan, too, of UCLA and the Pac 10. I plan to write Bruin Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and Conference Commissioner Larry Scott about my BCS opinions.

Additionally, I am a resident of North Carolina. Since there's a viable alternative to help fund athletic departments that go into the red, I will contact my elected officials.

What will you do today to help end the BCS sham?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fabulous Football Friday

Friday, November 26 will go down in infamy as one of the best ever days of college football. Let's revisit some of the highlights.

Uptight About Uprights

Did Boise State kicker's field goal really go wide right? The boot at the end of regulation was much higher than the high-school-height uprights. Like many of the calls in the game, this "miss" favored the Wolf Pack.

In the officials' defense, this has to be one of the toughest calls in football. Replay should probably be in effect for such plays, but not sure that would've mattered.

Yet it's the WAC and Karl Benson who are red-faced. The WAC looks like the Bush League by not requiring higher goal posts. Wethinks there will be taller yellow uprights in Reno in 2011.

Greensboro College lost to Guilford in overtime on a similar call in the 2006 Gate City Soup Bowl. But that's NCAA Division III football with a little less on the line.

Friday's Loser: Boise State

Not playing in the national championship? Check.

Not winning the BCS lottery? Check.

Yet the highlight of the Bowl season would've been the undefeated Broncos heading to Pasadena to face Ohio State. Remember, OSU Pres Gee just dissed BSU and their "sisters of the poor" schedule.

I would've paid for the cross country flight to see BSU wax the elitist Big Ten team. It would've happened, trust me, I promise.

War Eagle Comeback

Yes Auburn's comeback at Alabama was impressive. Most of the free world, however, wanted to see 'Bama roll and one of the outsiders (TCU, BSU) get a shot at the brass ring.

We all hear how great the SEC teams are. However, a more efficient Tide team should've been ahead by 40 points int he first half!

If the SEC and its teams are so great, why didn't Alabama pounce Auburn when it had the chance?


On Friday I heard a radio analyst utter ridiculous banter. He said even if Auburn lost in the SEC Championship, they should go to the BCS title game.


Let's says Oregon, BSU and TCU all ended up undefeated. You should take a one loss Tiger team riding a one-game losing streak ahead of undefeated clubs?

"Boise and TCU could not withstand the SEC schedule week in and week out," he pontificated.

Really. We'll never know because geography and elitism would never allow such a dynamic.

By the same token, we will never know if an SEC team, with much fewer resources, much fewer future NFL athletes, with much less tradition, could go 14-0 in the WAC or MWC.

Don't Drink BCS Kool Aid

I implore you to turn the channel, page or station if you hear that current structure of the FBS/BCS is a reason to keep the status quo--or is somehow responsible for the Fantastic Friday.

Fans should not have hope that one team loses so that its undefeated team can get a shot at a championship. All undefeated teams should be included in a playoff.

It's happening today in the FCS, Division II and Division III. Imagine that...

A championship among current FBS teams would have the thrills of Friday and the excitement and pageantry of March Madness. It would also bring more money to college athletics than anything we've ever seen.

How much longer do we have to wait for a playoff?

Future NBAer Singleton Leads FSU

FSU 97, UNCG 73 -- Singleton Gets Triple-Double

By Bob Lowe

Greensboro, N.C. – Chris Singleton had a triple-double and a game-high 22 points as Florida State (2-0) defeated UNC Greensboro (0-2), 97-73, on Sunday.

Singleton also set a new school record with 10 steals. He added 11 rebounds and six assists. His triple-double is the first in the Atlantic Coast Conference to feature 10 or more steals. He is the only ACC player to record one in the Greensboro Coliseum--home of this year’s ACC Tournament.

“Hard work paid off, and I was really into the game tonight,” said Singleton. He was 7-14 from the field, and made all seven of his free throws.

"Chris contributes for us when he’s not scoring," said FSU Head Coach Leonard Hamilton. “He is quick and has such long arms that he makes things difficult for opponents."

Singleton joins former Seminoles Reggie Royals and Bob Sura in the exclusive FSU triple-double club.

FSU got off to an 8-0 lead and led 46-29 at halftime. The visitors used a 12-2 run near the end of the half en route to the advantage.
"We got off to a good start due the energy of Singleton and (Michael) Snaer," Hamilton said. "We played well tonight and are improving as a team. The one negative: too many (21) turnovers."

Snaer and Okaro White added 16 points apiece for the Seminoles. UNCG got a team-high 16 points from David Williams, who was 7-13 from the field.

“We came out flat on offense and were just standing around on offense," said UNCG Head Coach Mike Dement. "You just can’t do that against a good defensive team like Florida State.”

Aloysius Henry scored 15 and Cody Henegar contributed 12 points for the Spartans.

The Seminoles had 11 blocked shots and forced 26 Spartan turnovers resulting in 32 points. UNCG was out-rebounded 42-39.
UNCG, a member of the Southern Conference, hosts four Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball teams at the Greensboro Coliseum this year. This is the Spartans second year using the venerable arena as its home court.

In addition to boosting attendance for UNCG, playing at the site of this year’s conference tournament has been a draw for ACC teams. In addition to FSU, Virginia Tech, and Duke will play at the Spartan’s home floor. Additionally, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and North Carolina State will compete in the arena this year.

"I guess it's good to play here in preparation for the tournament, but I think the exposure on Tobacco Road is more imporatnt," said Hamilton.

"We lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament here last year, so I'm glad we came out and played well in this building tonight," added Singleton.

In regards to being just four short of the extremely rare quadruple-double, Singleton said: “I had one in high school and I won’t rule it out.”

The Seminoles host Gardner Webb on Tuesday. Thereafter, FSU has two more mid-major schools before the University of Florida visits on Nov. 28.

Virginia Tech visits UNCG on Nov. 21.


Hockey Hack For Hire

Hockey Game Story

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A View From the Other Side

I recently had the opportunity to see my job from the other side.

I'm a sports information professional or--some say--a "strategic communicator for college athletics," at Greensboro College. With an open evening, I took on the job for stringing for a newspaper at a professional sports event.

The experience illuminated the challenges of the sports writer. It also reiterated some of the basics of our profession: common courtesy and customer service.

After confirming the gig, I contacted the public relations professional from the home team. My email requesting credential and parking details was not responded to. A day later, two phone calls requesting the same information were not returned.

I left early and it was good thing. Traffic put me behind schedule.

When I arrived, I circled the arena searching for media parking. I then asked a parking lot attendant and she noted that the television stations park "on the street near the red cones."

My baby blue Ford Taurus squeezed between TV station vans. I haphazardly created a hand-written media pass and stuck it on my dashboard.

The thoughts raced through my head. Will I be ticketed? Towed?!

The media entrance was nearby. I passed through security. Alas, there was a media pass for me.

An employee directed me to press row. I searched for my name plate, to no avail.

I asked for the PR director and where I should sit and maybe some game notes. One staffer suggested I got to one of the luxury boxes since it was very tight in the media area.

The PR pro was summoned to the press box. He was friendly bloak and cleared a seat for me. The game notes arrived shortly.

Due to the pomp and pageantry of the season opener, the game started late. That was good in some ways, but would make the 11 p.m. deadline difficult.

When halftime arrived, I made my way to the food room. You know, the big perk for scribes is a square meal provided by the home team.

Well, the prime rib was gone. There was bread, salad, popcorn and some cake. No problem except the only utensils available were plastic knives.

This meal lacked protein. I prayed the starch, veggies and sugar would get me through the night!

After the game, I headed to the locker room. To my surprise, there was another journalist waiting outside the visitor's dressing room. Intrigued, I struck up a conversation with the chap.

Turns out, he was covering the game for the same newspaper! A phone call to the sports editor followed.

Basically, we did rock, paper, scissors (or Ro-Sham-Bo, if you prefer) to seal the gig.

I won. (Note: When feeling strong, go with "rock!")

After getting some quotes, I ventured to the media room. I popped in the quotes, proofed the story and emailed it off.

My numerous confirmation calls to the sports editor went to voice mail. You know, it was Friday night night and high school football rules the day.

I exited the arena to find my car. Things were going good and there was no ticket!

I worried the entire drive home if my email made it to the sports editor. Would the whole night be for naught?

Too tired for much else, I hit the sack at 12:30 a.m.

The next morning, I checked the paper's web site and saw my article with byline. Phew!

What an adventure. It should've been a night with much less drama.

To my fellow athletic communicators, please return calls and emails.

And, save a seat for a writer and you will be cherished.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Power of "Win"

If you are a regular fan on Bob's Blog (we have some room on the couch for newcomers) you might be wondering what's up with the photo of DJ Kahled. Why is a rapper on this site that talks of sports and tech stuff?

The answer is in three letters: W-I-N. The DJ has a catchy tune with Ludacris and Snoop that has become a popular song for sports teams. I thank the Greensboro College softball team for turning me onto it last Spring.

In addition my GC teams winning at 74-percent clip on the weekend, it was a very good run for Bob's football teams.

-My alma mater, San Diego State, beat Utah State 41-7. The Aztecs 3-1 start is the best in 28 years.

-UCLA surprised all and took the Texas Longhorns to the woodshed in Austin. This seemed impossible when the Bruins were 0-2 two weeks ago.

-The Rams broke a 14-game losing streak and hammered the Redskins. It's nice to see your NFL team block and tackle for once.

What occurs after such a successful weekend?

There's more bounce in your step on Monday morning. The smile is wider when you greet co-workers.

Early in the afternoon, you start to believe:

-SDSU fans have been waiting long enough. Brady Hoke can bring a bowl, if not a championship to the Montezuma Mesa.

-USC is down, way down. LA is ripe for a Bruin Pigskin renaissance.

-The NFC West is weak, maybe the Rams can prevail.

Winning is the serotonin for the sports fan's soul! Hope springs eternal in the Fall.

Here's the CLIP, enjoy.

Good luck to YOUR teams.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Some Can't Accept the Underdog

Two non-BCS teams enter the season in the national top 5 and BCS Establishment (note capitalization) raises an eyebrow.

Boise State then beats perennial power Virginia Tech and all heck is breaking loose in the sham that is the monopoly of major college football.

This whole Bowl Championship Series shindig has been closed card game for the fat cats since day one. The system (I use that term with tongue in cheek) has been a misdeal to many dues-paying institutions since its outset.

The fact that Boise, Hawaii, Utah and TCU have made a huge dent in the BCS calamity has been simply amazing.

Newspapers, talking heads and radio shows this week have all chimed in how unjust it would for a BSU to play in a BSC championship.

And I say BS.

Pundits say the upstarts from the MWC and the WAC:

-Don't play a tough-enough schedule.
-Would lose 3-4 games in the SEC.

Sorry, establishment, your syndicate wants no part of scheduling these teams that have defied the odds. Your best offer is "two games at our place and one in you home." Old habits die hard and this scheme has been prevalent long before there was a thing called B (C) S.

These teams haven't had a much of a choice where they are located or which conference they are in. Unless the SEC recruits Hawaii to join, there should be no discussion on the point.

Perhaps the upstarts would lose three games per year in a big time conference. But maybe these teams would do better with the resources afforded the BCS teams.

These are just irrelevant points.

It's not if a matter of "if" yet a challenge of "how soon" we get to a real determination of selecting a national playoff.

Every other league does it fellas. It's called a playoff. Let's do it.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thirteen Takes on MWC/WAC Shenanigans

It's been a wild week in the West with all that occurred this week. Seems like nobody is shedding a tear for the BYU Cougars. The Y felt they had to counter Utah's admission to the PAC 10 with football independence. Their reach could cost them mightily.

(At right: SDSU and the MWC are in good shape...for now, anyway!)

The Western Athletic Conference is on life support. Let's hope a solution will result in the WAC remaining viable and Mr. Benson's bad moves won't cost the member institutions.

1. The Mountain West Conference is in good shape as it is. Even if BYU goes, the MWC boasts highly-rated TCU and Boise State in 2011. The addition of a solid Fresno State program and a decent Nevada Reno outfit solidifies the future.

2. The Western Athletic Conference needs to act and act fast. The WAC and Benson should be proactive. The best bet is to recruit strong FCS teams.

3. UC Davis should jump up to FBS status. While the Aggies just recently jumped from NCAA Division II, UCD has an outstanding athletics program and the wherewithal to jump the hurdle.

4. Brigham Young University had its goose cooked. There was a time when the Cougars could’ve thrown its weight around, but not now. The Y’s tail is between the proverbial legs. The rest of the MWC is stronger than the Provo school.

5. Independence a gamble for Cougars? Was taking BYU in all but football a backlash to losing Boise State? Seems that way. It seems a shortsighted move by Benson. My odds are 65-35 against this being a good thing.

6. Benson is a hypocrite. Calling out two institutions—FSU and Nevada—for loyalty is a selfish call. Benson was trying to recruit BYU and had his bluff called.

7. Montana is the other team should be courted by the WAC. The Grizzlies are strong enough to make the move.

8. Hawaii is a better independent than BYU. The Warriors are better off as an independent than in the WAC. They can schedule home-and-homes with many due to the destination. Why play Louisiana Tech when can likely get a pay day from LSU?

9. The Big West is a better fit for Hawaii for the rest of its sports. The WCC is made up small, religious schools that have no similarity to UH. The Big West, on the other hand, is a bunch of public that don’t play football. Who is the better fit?

10. BYU will end up playing in the following order. A. Status quo with football and everything in the MWC. B. Football Indy and the rest in the WCC. C. Football Indy and in the WAC.

11. The MWC should NOT combine with Conference USA. A football championship game with CUSA could earn a BCS berth. That might be good for some, but not the MWC. This coalition also buys into the BCS farce. Let’s keep a separate MWC and CUSA and a playoff in 2014!

12. Utah State to the MWC? Last I heard, Houston had no interest in the Mountain West. Should BYU exit, the Aggies are good fit to keep presence in the absence of BYU and the Utes.

13. Somebody (NCAA) needs to put a tent over this circus. A playoff would be the best for all involved. (Then maybe we could go back to 1A and 1AA!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Best in College Football Attire

After the recent worst of college football fashion (congrats THE Ohio State University), it's time to focus on the positive. So here e the best college football uniforms

8. Greensboro College. Who you ask? Okay, my day job is to promote The Pride. Give GC Head Coach Dr. Randy Hunt credit, however, for adding the "GC" to a blank canvas helmet. This is the only NCAA DIII institution on the list. Coach Hunt led The Pride to six wins in 2009, the most in program history. Looking forward to seeing the new green tops, after wearing all-white the past three years.

7.Army Black Knights. Gotta give some love to a United States service academy. Air Force has a little better look than the Midshipmen from Navy. How can you not like a service academy that is bold, black and--from what we hear--has a great game-day atmosphere. They have an attractive"A" that will likely never make it on a helmet. Too bad...

5. Cincinnati Bearcats. Cincy does what my alma mater has never been able to accomplish: Make the red and black look great. The Bearcats stylish duds are modern and attractive. I don't love the helmet logo, but it does work. Cincy loses marks for the red jerseys that are inferior to the black tops.

5. Oregon Ducks. Many would've like to see the University of Oregon's traveling smorgasbord of colors, schemes and "Nike-ness" on the ugly list. However, OU and Phil Knight's deep pockets have produced one of the best branding images in recent memory: The "O." The problem with Oregon is they have too many different combinations. C'mon Phil, less is more sometimes.

4. Penn State Nittany Lions. Old coach, old school, Linebacker U gets an "A" in apparel. Not much has change in Joe Paterno's 70 years or so in Happy Valley, and that's good thing. The clean blue and white look stands the test of time.

3. Texas Longhorns. Mack Brown and the Longhorns win a lot of games. Their athletic department is the richest in the land, partly due to their marketing smarts. Their hook 'em horns logo is perhaps the best in the nation. (Note: the Houston Texans practically stole the logo.) The burnt orange lettering on all white is gorgeous.

2. University of Miami Hurricanes. You love them or hate them, but they are number one in logo branding. When Bernie Kosar played they adopted the famous "U." It was and is brilliant. Miami also meshed orange and green into an attractive combo that my hometown minor league baseball team (Greensboro Grasshoppers) lifted.

1. University of Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide are the defending national champs and are numero uno in fashion sense, too. They wore similar duds when Bear Bryant was boss, and for good reason. While we chastised Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Wisconsin for being red, white and bland, 'Bama is distinctive. Maybe it's the numbers on the helmet. We can't put a finger on it but Alabama wins!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Ugliest Uniforms in College Football

The College football season is just days away. There's no better time go Mr. Blackwell and judge the teams on their fashion sense.

5. Tie Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Nebraska. The reason? The red and white scheme is too prevalent and does not allow any of these institutions to pull away from the crowd.

4. LSU Tigers. They haven't updated these duds since Eisenhower was President. The "LSU" with a tiger head below on the skullcap reminds me of Pop Warner football opponents. C'mon, Baton Rogue, you can do better!

3. Minnesota Golden Gophers. As much as I dislike USC, the school with 1,000 lakes stole the patent on burgundy and gold schemes from Troy.

2. Florida Gators. I don't know exactly what it is about the Gators unis, but I just don't like 'em. They're not quite old school and they certainly not modern or cutting edge. They should be able to do better with orange, blue and an alligator.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes. Yes, THE Ohio State University is an institution in the Buckeye State. However, their football success has more to do with their reputation than their attire. Grey, white, and little Buckeye stickers on the helmet? It drives me to root for Michigan annually. (Note: Sorry, these clothes and head wear are too ugly to show on this blog.)

Coming up next: The best of college football uniforms.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Politico Prejudice

Ask about anyone where they stand on politics and they claim to be centrist or middle-of-the-road.

This goes to my colleague who is not in "any party" and not a Republican. Every time we go to lunch Rush Limbaugh is yelping on his SUV's AM radio. As for the Tea Party, they "just don't like big government." Gimme a break!

My liberal chum drives a Prius and railed about Carl Rove for years. When a buddy spews some right wing falsehood (Obama a Muslim, or not born in the USA), he goes bonkers.

My self-evaluation of my politics. I'm Democrat. I've voted that way all but twice in Presidential elections since 1980. When Reagan-led Repubs hooked up with the far-right Christian wing, I leaned more left.

The point is we all have strong opinions. We want our people to win.

Yet the problem is the folks on the far fringes of each side. There's so much hate and a willingness to do whatever it takes to crush the opposition.

Can't we all just get along or just be civil?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

LeBron's Personal Brand Went South

The most popular phrase out there is "personal branding?

And in this week after LeBron deserted Ohio for South Beach, his brand took a nose dive.

Wherever he chose to sign, he was going to get more money than he could ever spend. In Miami, he may have team success if more talented players sign with the Heat's "Big Three."

Had King James signed with the New York Knicks his "marketability" would've went through the roof. But marketing over the next three years is not what we're speaking about in this piece.

If James had signed with his hometown Cavaliers he his personal branding Q-rating (or is it PB-rating) would've risen to epic proportions.

-Hometown hero stays home
-There are things more important than money and winning.

Those things are invaluable and could've been parlayed positively by personal branding for many, many years.

We'll never get to see that special cachet that LeBron would have if he'd chosen to remain in the Buckeye State.

I won't second guess his decision, although he did not seem elated when he shared his thoughts with the World.

Though it's off topic, the LaBron haters (Cavs owner, fans) need to get a life. Whining is not good for your personal branding, Mr. Gilbert.

He was a free agent and can go wherever he wants. The Cavs should worry about getting some new players, rather than crying over spilled Gatorade.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lowe Picked to CoSIDA BOD

Bob Lowe, Greensboro College's assistant athletics director for communications, has been selected to serve on the College Sports Information Directors (CoSIDA) Board of Directors.

Lowe was hired as The Pride's sports information director in the fall of 1999. He has provided publicity for GC's 16 intercollegiate athletic teams and was promoted last August to assistant AD.

As a member of the CoSIDA Board, Lowe will serve a three-year term beginning with the upcoming 2010-11 athletic year. He will be a college division representative from the Southeast region. Lowe is one of 16 elected board members who represent the more than 2400 sports information professionals in the USA and Canada.

"Bob has done an outstanding job covering Pride athletics, and Greensboro College is proud of this special selection," said Pride Athletics Director Jean Lojko. "He has been on the forefront of many developments in his profession. Bob will offer a great deal to CoSIDA."

Lowe is the driving force behind PrideNet/PrideTV, which offers live and archived broadcasts of Greensboro College athletic events. In addition, Lowe's responsible for upgrading the college's athletic website, including the new launch in August of 2008.

In 2004 and '05, Lowe served as media coordinator for the NCAA Division III men's and women's soccer championships. These highly successful events were held in the Gate City and hosted by The Pride. The championships returned to Greensboro again in the fall of 2008.

Lowe received two first place regional writing awards in 2000 from CoSIDA. He serves on the new media/technology committee, and has had a number of professional articles published in the CoSIDA Digest. In July of 2008 Lowe was selected to the inaugural D3-SIDA Board: an advisory group that represents NCAA Division III SIDs for CoSIDA.

At the 2000, '01, '04 and '08 CoSIDA conventions, Lowe led discussions regarding broadcasting on the Internet. At the 2004 and '10 convention, Lowe also served on a technology panel. He served as chairman of the CoSIDA New Media/Technology committee from 2003 to '10.

In the summer of 2002, Lowe helped form the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA). Since that time, NCCSIA has honored nearly 1,000 "All State" student-athletes. Lowe previously served as both the organization's treasurer and president.

Lowe was the sports information director at Santa Ana (Calif.) College for three years prior to arriving in Greensboro.

"I'm honored to represent the nation's SIDs," said Lowe. "This an exciting time in our profession, and I look forward to working with a talented board led by President Larry Dougherty and Executive Director John Humenik."

A native of Whittier, Ca., Lowe received a bachelor's degree in journalism from San Diego State University. Lowe resides in Greensboro with his wife, Kim, and daughter, Brinley.

About CoSIDA

CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) was founded in 1957 and currently is a 2,400-plus member national organization comprised of the sports public relations, communications and information professionals throughout all levels of collegiate athletics in the United States and Canada. The 2010-11 academic year marked the 60th year of the organization.

The association is designed to help the athletic media relations and communications professionals at all levels. It is the desire of the members to have the profession take its rightful place on the decision-making levels of college athletics. Everything done - the short- and long-term strategic planning and initiatives, year-long professional development opportunities, and the annual Convention/workshop - is geared to this objective.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Use state lottery money for college scholarships

With recent budget cuts at our schools, the question comes up, what about the North Carolina Education Lottery. Where is that money going?

Having lived in California when its lottery passed, the same concerns were present. Just like here, lottery money ends up being a small part of the education budget. With that said, is that the best way to spend our lottery winnings?

Georgia’s winnings fund, the HOPE Scholarship, has become a successful model for other lotteries, including the South Carolina Education Lottery. Our lottery is not the envy of all.

I have only heard good things about the HOPE program, where good students get free college tuition at in-state schools. This program seems to offer more direct and tangible benefits to its residents.

The North Carolina Lottery passed in 2005. I don’t recall being asked, or if there was a debate, on how to spend the lottery revenue. I would have favored such a scholarship to our current program.

Can we change our program?

Bob Lowe

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Does USA Soccer Model Work?

The USA got knocked out of the 2010 World Cup knockout round and the pundits are out like vultures.

ESPN/ABC announcer Jürgen Klinsmann (pictured) had some interesting points on the uniqueness/inferiority of American Sport in producing World Champions.

He blames the American soccer system for much of the USA's failure.

The American focus is to get kids to play sports, get on travel teams and earn a college scholarship. In essence, parents foot the bill to develop kids for college athletics.

The rest of the world? By early ages, kids get identified and sign on with a professional team. They play with the younger kids and matriculate their way up to the top level of that team's program.

Back in 199 MLS started Project 40, which encourages early entry (without college graduation) of American players into MLS and with the hope of producing World Class talent. The program is now called Generation adidas and has had impressive results.

The program has included Tim Howard, Josh Wolff, DaMarcus Beasley, Maurice Edu, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Ben Olsen, Bobby Convey, Sacha Kljestan, Michael Parkhurst, Danny Califf, Freddy Adu, Brad Guzan and Michael Bradley.

On the bright side, that's eight players on the 2010 World Cup Roster! The others have had a decent amount of pro and international success.

On the other hand, a number of the above mentioned did not go to college. That includes Bradley, the son of Princeton-educated Bob Bradley.

No doubt Michael Bradley will earn enough without a college degree in his pro soccer career. He had a great World Cup and likely improved his standing more than any other American.

College education has always been an important of American society. The United States seems to compete well in just about every sport we play internationally, and that includes soccer.

If you look at the roster of the USA team, most are part of the "rest of the World" sports model. There are only a handful of college-educated players on the American team.

The USA competed in its sixth straight World Cup this year. The 1994 team went as far (second round) and the 2002 club advanced to the quarterfinals of those tournaments. Those teams were made up of players who competed extensively at the collegiate level.

Klinsman brought up another interesting and controversial point. He said that the lower and middle class kids are playing other sports, particularly basketball. The German noted that individuals in this demographic are hungrier and have the required grit needed in soccer.

That's a fair point. Poor kids don't have a lot of money to play on travel teams. However, I've never heard of a youth organization in any sport that would turn away a talented kid who wants to play.

Also, America is a melting pot. Their are a number of immigrants who have soccer in their heritage and they continue to play here (see Edu, Adu, Altidore).

Klinsman also brought up the formidable Hispanic presence in the USA. There are only four players with Spanish surnames on the team. However, expect that number to continue to grow as the population of the USA becomes more Latino. Additionally, US Soccer needs to continue to reach out to Mexican and other leagues that are not as connected to the federation as AYSO, for example.

One would thing the traditional American model the a hybrid of Generation adidas and other talented players can be successful.

The sky is not falling in American soccer. It's intriguing to consider the source of the theories: Jürgen Klinsmann.

He was the top candidate to succeed Bruce Arena after the 2006 World Cup. He didn't want the job at the time.

So, four years later, does he still think we have it backwards in the USA or does he believe he can lead America to the 2014 World Title?

USA Soccer in 2014?

The USA men's national team had a solid 2010 World Cup. They won their group for the second time since 1930. They did not lose a game in group play.

However, the team had a bad habit of allowing early goals. The Americans also lost a huge opportunity (a beatable Ghana team) in the knockout round.

So let's look a the USA possibilities for 2014.


The USA appears solid at the midfield with cornerstone Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, joined by budding stars Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu.

Dempsey and Donovan can also play up front. The duo will likely be the heart and soul of the USA in Brazil.

Will Freddy Adu finally break into the lineup in four years?

That said, the Americans need work in the back and up front.


On defense Captain Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo (solid World Cup) have likely played their last World Cup. They both will be 35 in four years.

Hopefully, this country can produce replacements. If Jonathan Spector and Jonathan Bornstein improve, they could be the starters. A healthy Oguchi Onyewu could be the rock of the back four. Marvel Wynne is another possibility.


The USA forwards scored no goals in the 2010 World Cup. However, let's remember that Wayne Rooney will return home without a goal, too.

Jozy Altidore emerged on World stage. He wreaked havoc on the opposition and was integral in other scoring opportunities. Can Altidore (pictured) turn in physical gifts into becoming the Americans go-to scorer?

The Americans missed exciting Charlie Davies. Robbie Findley did little to impress in South Africa.

Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez were one-shot wonders who Bradley hoped would find their recent for the net. They both had their moments. It's too bad they did not get hot earlier. More time with National Team could've produced more continuity, and more goals from the forwards.

Brian Ching might’ve been a good complement on this team. Tim Howard was the best “in the air” the USA had, and that was a brief extra time stint against Ghana.

Which brings us to Howard and to goalkeeping. He was at times outstanding and keep the Americans in the World Cup. However, he should’ve stopped at least one of Ghana’s two tallies.


While Howard is considered one of the best keepers in the World, there are doubters. He will be 35 in 2014, a prime age for a netminder.

Would you not feel better with a younger Kasey Keller between the pipes than Howard?

I thought so...

It will be interesting to see how Brad Guzan progresses over the next few years.

Change the NC Lottery?

With recent budget cuts at our schools, the question comes up what about that North Carolina Lottery? Where is that money going?

Having lived in California when its lottery passed, the same concerns were present. Just like here, lottery money ends up being a small part of the education budget.

With that said, is that the best way spend our lottery winnings?

Georgia’s winnings fund the HOPE Scholarship, and has become a successful model for otherv lotteries, including the South Carolina Education Lottery. Our lottery is not the envy of all.

I have only heard good thing about the HOPE program, where good students get free college tuition at in-state schools. This program seems to offer more direct and tangible benefits to its residents.

The North Carolina Lottery passed in 2005. I don’t recall being asked (or if there was a debate on the subject) how to spend our winnings. I would have favored such a scholarship to our current program.

Can we change our program?

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup Knockout Round Predictions

It's do or die time now in the World Cup. The second round gets under way on Saturday. Here are my projections.

USA vs. Ghana: Ghana knocked the USA out of the 2006 Cup on a questionable call. Sound familiar? The USA, however, is playing with confidence and will be able overcome adversity.

Uruguay vs. South Korea: The South Americans have been good and the former two-time champions get the nod here. This sets up a very tough match between Uruguay and the Americans.

Netherlands vs. Slovakia: The Dutch should be able to handle the Slovaks. Holland will not win the 2010 Cup, however.

Chile vs. Brazil: Chile is a nice story but the Brazilians will write their final chapter. I'll go ahead and take them over the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

Germany vs. England: At leas the Brits got to the knockout round, unlike European theilor kindred spirits from across the pond: France. The tabloids can get back to dogging Rooney and Co. after Sunday's loss to Alemania.

Argentina vs. Mexico: I've been surprised with the Mexicans run in group play. However, look for Messi and Maradona to advance in extra time.

Paraguay vs. Japan: One of the toughest matches to pick. I'm going with the Blue Samurai as they've been a hair more impressive.

Spain vs. Portugual: The Spanish are getting their grove on. Look for Espana to beat their neighbors by 2 goals.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Soccer Karma on the Way Up

The soccer gods shined on the USA.

The Americans had a goal and win taken against Slovenia.

Today looked to be more of the same. The yanks lost a goal after a close and unlucky offsides today vs. the Desert Foxes

However, the better team prevailed and advanced.

Here’s what Landon Donovan said.

“When there’s adversity you moan about or you can move forward.”

They did the later!

You can, however, still turn on the radio and hear national sports talk stars dis soccer. That's too bad, but so what?

Soccer are used to spending the entire World Cup defending 0-0 draws. Almost dead sportswriters would crack one-liners about futbol.

If onlookers can't appreciate Americans excelling at the highest level or the World's most popular sport, it's their problem.

The numbers don't lie:

-The ratings for the World Cup have been good.

-The American soccer following is the biggest in South Africa.

-The Americans went undefeated in group play for the first time.

This club is something to proud of. Former President Bill Clinton noted the heart and determination of this team.

I enjoyed the game at a sports bar here in town with former Greensboro College men's soccer coach Bill Brady.

We shouted, jumped and cringed. After Donovan scored, we celebrated and chanted "USA! USA!."

Ignore it or not but this was going in Greensboro, Gastonia, Gardena and Glendale.

Next up is 2:30 p.m. on Saturday vs. Ghana in the knockout round.

I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Got Tech Tips to Help Others?

We are trying to launch a new column, "Tips from the SID," but need more tips! (You can view sample tips below.)

Please take a moment to send one (2-3 would be better) tips. If you think a tip might be "too basic," don't worry.

These tips will appear on You will be created with any tip that is used by this column. Simply send tips to


Tip #1: Email Extensions

Did you know that email extensions are NOT needed to send to another recipient with your institutions domain? For example, If I write an email to from, I can just put “blowe” in the subject line.

Please note, however, that if you are sharing an email address book with other email accounts (Yahoo, gmail, Outlook), you’d need to send to Also keep this in mind if you import address books as they may need to be edited for the different email account.

Tip #2: Cut, Copy and Paste

This tool is a great way to save time and can be used move text from web sites, Word Files and event .pdf files to other formats.

-Highlight the text you want with your mouse (or, CTRL-A for the entire document)
-Next, hit CRTL-C for “copying” the text.
-Finally, use CRTL-V for “paste” in your document where you’d like to place the text.

One last tip: Try Notepad (free with PCs) as a holding area for text. Notepad is a “straight text” application. You will find it easier to import straight text into your documents and adjust formatting later.

-Tip #3: Calendar Importing

Today’s calendar functions are impressive. For example, our web site allows me to download all of our athletic events—or specific sports--as a VCAL file.

When you click on the VCAL tab, our site has a pop-up that allows you to “open” directly to your preferred calendar application (Outlook, Google) or you can download the file named: add2calendar.vcs

If you choose the later option, open your other calendar (Outlook, Google. Then, choose the import function. This great feature will automatically place the desired games in your personal calendar. One other note: Schedules change, so you’ll need to re-import the calendar regularly.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Final Score: Deceit 7, FIFA Credibility Nil

Final Score: Deceit 7, FIFA Credibility Nil

That's not the score of the North Korea game (I am praying for their safe futures), rather the verdict on Sepp Blatter's regime.

The long-awaited report on World Cup officiating is in. There's no problem. All is well in South Africa.

Well that's what FIFA says. So what if the rest of the 3 billion watching see otherwise on the tele.

I'm using a few clips from an AP story and I'll comment on them.

"The duty of the referees is not to explain their decision ... [but to] try to do their best on the field of play," Garcia-Aranda said. "[Otherwise] they are not focused on the game, they are focused on the media."

Say what? Officiating needs to be transparent. If a coach has a question, answer to the best of your ability. American sports have accountability due to past incidents like the Black Sox scandal. To not have this accountability only calls into question the legitimacy of the game.

Are these officials tied to organized gambling? Do they have bets on the games?

These are fair questions if the public that supports this enterprise is stonewalled.

Video replay isn't an option so long as Sepp Blatter is FIFA president, and he's all but certain to be re-elected to a fourth four-year term next year. And the idea of adding an extra set of eyes behind each goal has been kicked into the long grass and not likely to resurface anytime soon.

Then I will start the "Fire Sepp Blatter campaign" right now. He has the votes for a fourth reelection? How?

Oh, I forgot that this is international sport. Just like the Olympics, you get a cast of elite characters not always doing best for athletes or sport itself. Money and power can corrupt.

The lack accountability regarding officiating is the big concern. However, I will give the referees the benefit of the doubt on the "diving issue."

These World Class athletes have spent as much time with their soccer skills as their thespian abilities. That said, the human eye can't always spot a dive in real time.

That said, limited video review is needed at the World Cup. How limited? I don't know but something has to be done.

I've gained a great respect for top-level soccer. American coaches and administrators shrug their shoulders as if to say "That's international soccer, we must live with it."

It's a shame that FIFA--the group most invested in keeping the game's integrity--is driving the sport backwards.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Accountability & Transparency at World Cup: Part II

Monday there's supposed to be word from FIFA on World Cup officiating.

Don't hold your breath if you're looking for an explanations for the recent gaffe(s) in the USA-Slovenia match, for example.

Rumor has it the Mali referee received a bad review. How bad was it? He was the fourth official on the Italy-New Zealand game on Sunday!

I can only imagine what type of smokescreens or shenanigans will emerge from Monday's briefing. There will be no specific address of particular plays.

Now, my avocation is officiating so I can speak with some relevance in this case. Officials should NOT cause the outcome of matches. That has not been the case of a few games in this year's World Cup.

Also, as an official, you are subject to review. We talk about plays, what we saw, if we got it right, etc. If an error was made, the proper people are informed.

The USA has long been scoffed at by international soccer. Yet the Americans are better at soccer now, bring more fans than any other nation to the World Cup and people now watch and follow the games.

In short we've grown as a soccer nation. FIFA, on the other hand, has not grown.

How can they make amends? Take the initiative of American sports where integrity and accountability to the public are part of the checks and balances.

That photo above shows New Zealand celebrating after its improbable draw with Italy. The blew that one, too, as Italy dived to earn its match-tying PK.

That brings up another issue. The naked eye can't see these dives, but video can. Video is needed in these other instances. That's just another thing Sepp Blatter and FIFA need to address ASAP.

Credibility can kill the goose that laid the golden egg. FIFA is in jeopardy of doing just that.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Accountability & Transparency Needed at World Cup

We recently had a very special event in sports when an MLB umpire miss a call at first base that cost a pitcher a perfect game.

A very good umpire (Joyce) made an error. He owned up afterward. He was forgiven. Good sportsmanship was evident. Very nice.

Then we get to the World Cup.

The USA was obviously robbed of an incredible 3-2 win vs. Slovenia. Replays showed one Slovenian tackled (American-styled tackle) Michael Bradley. Two others were at least held. Maurice Edu broke through for the would-be winning goal. The USA was called for the foul and there was no goal.

A phantom call with no explanation as to what happened.

Who can solve that mystery?

But there was another boner. Robbie Findley was yellow-carded for a hand ball that hit his face.

If the yellow stands, he sits the next game. Apparently, FIFA rarely overturns such calls.

They should in this instance. And the Mali referee should not work another game in this World Cup.

If he offers no explanation for the phantom call, I say never again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where West is not Best

As a California native, I've lamented being a sports fan on the East Coast.

Monday Night Football and World Series start too late.

There's nothing like a Fall California Sunday with coffee, menudo and a 10 a.m. NFL kickoff.

However, with the Copa del Munidal in South Africa, I like Carolina over Cali. I'll take the 10 am over 7 am World Cup start time in a heart beat.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pac 12 Means Who Goes East?

The addition of Utah and Colorado makes the Pac 10 now 12.

That causes me to change my Pac 16 to Pac 12 logo (see below).

And, according to an LA Times report: "The conference probably will divide into two, six-team divisions in football and play a conference title game beginning in 2012."

Obviously, the newbies join Arizona and ASU to from 4 of the 6 for the eastern division. But there's no easy answer for the other two.

My hunch says it will be Washington and WSU. Perhaps WSU is the closest to Colorado and that'll be the excuse.

There's no other alternative that will work.

If the Starbuck's schools complain, remind that them that in football USC is in the other division.

U of Phoenix Stadium seems like a good spot for the championship.

To appease the Northern schools however, perhaps Qwest Field is the venue for championship game #1.

Nellie Brings World Class Pub

It's not often that a small college sports information department gets to trumpet (should I say vuvuzela?) on a global scale.

Ryan Nelsen, captain of the 2010 New Zealand "All Whites" World Cup team, attended Greensboro College for two academic years: 1997-98 and 1998-99. He was an exemplary student-athlete and led The Pride to a national runner-up finish in his sophomore season.

He moved to a larger stage--Stanford University--for his last two collegiate seasons. He later matriculated to the DC United (won an MLS CUP) and now captains the Blackburn Rovers of the EPL.

Those laurels are indeed rare for a former NCAA Division III athlete. Most of you probably know that D3 schools can't offer athletic scholarships.

I arrived in Greensboro from Southern California just days after Nelsen left for Palo Alto in August of 1999. I was fortunate enough to provide publicity for a GC soccer team ranked second in the nation.

He was the first of a number of Kiwis who came to attend and play soccer at Greensboro College. The Pride made five straight and advanced to 8 of 9 NCAA tournaments after I got here. (Enjoy that kind of success when it comes!)

I got a chance to meet Nelsen back in 2002. He was a kind and humble dude. He made an impact here and The College is following both the USA and New Zealand this year.

Team Captain Nelsen and New Zealand garnered their first World Cup point in its draw with Slovenia.

Greensboro College inducted Ryan Nelsen into our athletics Hall of Fame in April. Check out the induction video we did for him: HERE

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

PRK and Brazil: Opposites Attract

Not since Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett has there been a worse grouping than Brazil vs. North Korea in the World Cup.

Brazil is the top team in the tournament and North Korea the worst.

Brazil is all about Samba and brings to mind the free love of Haight Ashbury of the 1960s.

On the other hand, the PRK is regimented, repressive and reminds me of the Iron Curtain.

Ahhh, those were the days of the Olympics: the USA vs. USSR. American college kids vs. unemotional and robotic Soviet block athletes.

The Soviet block nations didn't travel very well. Communism didn't allow many fans to travel to Montreal or even Munich. They did have enough resources, however, to build a dominant sports power.

In addition to the USSR, Romania, Bulgaria and especially East Germany had success. The Germans also invested a lot in performance-enhancing drugs.

After the wall came down it's just North Korea and Cuba carrying that communist flag. Dictators Kim Jong-Il and Fidel Castro are doing their best to keep the commie dream alive. (China qualifies as repressive dictatorship but they now dig capitalism.)

But what an outdated philosophy in today's World. The information revolution makes it nearly impossible to control the media and minds of the masses.

Cuba has suffered because there's no more Soviet blank check. North Korea still has China's back, if you count sending a few hundred "fans" to root for their Korean neighbors.

You can't make this stuff up. North Koreans can't afford or can get a visa to South Africa to watch their team play. The theater of the bizarre, but that kind of thing would've been normal in international sport in the 1960s or 1970s.

Here's hoping the tyrant dinosaurs and their regimes won't survive much longer.

The Korenas did a great job today. They were aggressive early and their keeper gave up a tough goal to the near post. Let's hope he doesn't end up in a forced labor camp in a few weeks.

A 2-1 loss to Brazil was no disgrace for North Korea.

The people of the PRK, however, deserve more than a decent soccer team and nuclear weapons. Food and freedom would be better.

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup 2, NBA Nil

You can count on some things every four years. A Presidential Election, the Olympics and newspaper writers ripping the World Cup.

But I love the World Cup. Especially with the USA playing.

There were no televised games or Internet when I began following international soccer in the 80s. My sources were the L.A. Times and Sports Illustrated. (BTW, they both have GREAT soccer writers today in Grahme Jones and Grant Wahl.)

There wasn't much good to report back then. The underfunded USSF sent undermanned teams to wilt against many, most noteworthy: Mejico.

As the decade came to a close, our nation was assembling an improved group. My hunch is this was partly due to the soccer boom from a decade earlier, and the better play of NCAA Division I soccer teams.

Pau Caliguiri's "shot heard around the World" beat Trinidad, 1-0, and new era of USA soccer began. The USA qualified for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

While the USA did not advance, I recall going toe-to-toe with the host Italians. I'm sure we were "packing it in" but, please, this was Italy and the Americans. I can remember Eric Wynalda (he led San Diego State to the NCAA title game in 1987) getting a red card. Actually, I forgot but according to Trivial Pursuit, he did.

1990 was a start, however.

That era was better, but not by much, than the previous decade for soccer fans. Other than the World Cup and a qualifying match here or there, no games were available on television.

Well, at least ENGLISH speaking television.

I spent a number of late nights viewing Univision. My three semesters of Espanol came in handy. A few years later, Andres "Goalllllllllllllll" Cantor would become a celebrity.

The 1994 World Cup came to the United States. I was lucky enough to attend.

I wasn't in Michigan wheWynala blasted a goal vs. Switzerland in the Silverdome. I had tickets to the Yanks game vs. Colombia. However, my wife Kim and I owned a computer magazine back the--Coast Compute--and it was our deadline. While I couldn't make to the Rose Bowl, I was able to watch the exciting game on the tele.

Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Tony Meola, Claudio Reyna, Joe-Max Moore and John Harkes were a few of the stars back then.

Romania and the USA met later at the Rose Bowl. I attended that game with a friend, Mitch Fenton. However, that was the Americans only group loss (1-0).

The 2002 Cup brought more fun. The Amebericans upset Potrugual and should've beaten Gremany (Google "handball by Frings for more details).

The next Cup was not a huge success, but the US Soccer men's program was still at high level. That talent level is getting better every year. Shoot, we had Brazil down 2-0 in the Confederation's Cup championship last year!

Landon Donovan and Tim Howard are likely the best players we've produced. We've also got game Clint Dempsey (above) and Jozy Altidore, who might be the most exciting player this nation has produced.

Team chemistry appears to be great on this club, which could go a long way.

Because of the headline of this story, you may wonder where is the talk of the NBA. Well, many others will write about that. I'd rather watch the US in the World Cup than the NBA finals. And that's coming from a Laker fan.

I'm looking forward to the Americans next games in the World Cup. If it means setting the alarm early or watching in Spanish, I'll do it!