From kickers for Heisman to LSU fan paranoia

Quiet week in the mailroom, which I'm guessing has more to do with the lack of interesting games last week than anything else. Outside of the SEC, it was a good weekend to catch up on gardening, or, if you were in the path of Hurricane Ivan, hydroponic gardening. Last Saturday was nothing compared to this Saturday, when the good matchups are as rare as electricity in Alabama. Schools remain closed, and windows remain open.

Notre Dame fans have remained relatively quiet in the wake of the victories over the Michigan schools. They are tamed, for now. Texas fans have remained quiet, because the Longhorns didn't play last week. Oklahoma fans remained quiet, because the Longhorns didn't play last week, and after the conduct of now-former Sooners defensive lineman Dusty Dvoracek, Sooner fans may be laying low for a reason.

I am surprised that I didn't get more letters complaining about the officials' timing screwup in the Florida-Tennessee game, or about the inability of kickers at LSU, Auburn, Tennessee and Wisconsin to make extra points. Speaking of which, Ohio State's Mike Nugent doesn't miss extra points, or much of anything else.

Don't forget, if you want to appear in the column, you have to sign your name and your hometown. I've let some good letters go out to the recycle bin for the lack of one or both.

Now I know this might sound absurd, but I don't see why Mike Nugent shouldn't at least be considered for the Heisman. I know he's just a kicker, but he's not your typical one. He is the best kicker in the country, not to mention the best player on the Buckeyes. He is perfect from inside 50, he probably could make one from 60. He is clutch, can make a game-winner from 54 out. He is a leader for them, a team captain. This is all for one of the top teams in the country. And I know that they wouldn't be half the team they are if it wasn't for him.

Patrick Halley
Columbus, OH

Nugent found the right team. More accurately, Ohio State needs Nugent. When you win games by single digits every week, your field goal kicker inflates in importance. Speaking of which, some USC fans have started a website promoting punter Tom Malone for the Heisman. Based on the Kansas State-Fresno State game, both Nugent and Malone have a better chance than Darren Sproles.

I am a huge Florida State fan, and lately that is a scary thing to admit. The one thing that bothers me is that everyone seems to be blaming Chris Rix for (the Seminoles') offensive problems. Yes, he has not played well in high-pressured games. My question is why no one seems to be blaming Jeff Bowden for the offensive issues. And is Bobby blinded by nepotism?

Rex Griffith
Glens Falls, N.Y.

Judging by what I read and hear from Tallahassee, plenty of people are blaming Jeff Bowden for Florida State's offensive woes. He has been the leading scapegoat among the coaches almost from the time he took over coordinating duties after Mark Richt left for Georgia. Is Bobby blinded by nepotism? Of course. Bobby Bowden could have hired any offensive coordinator in the country when Mark Richt left following the 2000 season, including Norm Chow, who left North Carolina State after the 2000 season to coach for Pete Carroll at USC. Bobby promoted his son, and hired Daryl Dickey to coach quarterbacks. If you take Bobby Bowden, and all his wins, you take his sons, too.

I am a transplant like most everyone here (in Miami). Attended my first 'Canes game in 1992 (Wide Right II), been a season ticket holder since '01, saw the 58-game streak ended in '94, Edgerrin James' UCLA miracle game in '98, and Dorsey-to-Shockey in 2000 (to beat Florida State), among others. I cannot believe that you would have the OB (Orange Bowl) destroyed. It's not just that it is a phenomenal advantage for UM, and a great place for real, actual college football fans to watch a game. It's the history of the place, and the fact that it is one of the few true-blue, history-laden parts of Miami. I think it would be a big mistake to ever tear it down (until and if it falls down!). During the telecast from last years UF-Miami game, Bob Griese referred to it as "the grand old dame of Miami. It's a rich part of a city/area that believe me, needs every item of richness, tradition, stability, and legitimacy that it can claim. And that's not even looking at the Stadium's place in football lore. Namath's guarantee, several other classic Super Bowls, Marino's early exploits, '72 fish joyride (Dolphins' undefeated season), the greatest college play ever (Flutie '84), the '83 Miracle in Miami over the unbeatable Huskers, Rocket's (almost) runback (Ismail in the 1991 Orange Bowl), one of the biggest MNF games ever with dolphins ending '85 Bears shot at going undefeated, and of course the Kellen Winslow game (Jan. 1983 AFC playoffs), plus all the great 'Canes-FSU games, and other classic bowls. There's a book titled, "Autumn's Cathedrals", and it gives a little blurb on every college football stadium. About the OB, it says that the stadium has been the site of more historically important, memorable games than anywhere in America. You can't deny that claim. There's too much history to ignore.

Greg Reed
Coral Gables, FL

Greg made an effective deployment of the Fenway Park argument. I like Wrigley Field as much as anyone, but the charm of the Orange Bowl has eluded me. I didn't call out 'Canes fans, but the next two letters do.

In response to your comment on the Orange Bowl stadium as well as Chuck
Jones' e-mail defending it, let me just say you are absolutely right! This
is a dump in every sense of the word. As a former resident who grew up
in Miami and had to endure my high school playing a game in that place,
I can just say that deathly frightened does not begin to describe my
feelings sitting in that decrepit place. The state of the Orange Bowl
does not exemplify school spirit. It means that your un-school-spirited
alumni and fans don't contribute a dime to renovate their own football
stadium they claim to love so much. And its laughable that Chuck claims
the UM stadium is proof of what real fans are: UM couldn't even sell out
their season the year after they won the national championship! When I
visit my parents in Miami, they are begging people on the radio stations
on Thursday to buy tickets to a Saturday game! What is that? Go to any
true fan base -- Michigan, Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State -- and I can bet
you tickets are at a premium for any game. The last GameDay I viewed at
the Orange Bowl was a joke. No one even showed up! Where are the fans
and the spirit? Maybe they are stuck trying to find a bathroom in the
Orange Bowl.

T.B. Wright
The Swamp-Gator Country

What a joke! This guy Chuck Jones writes about how the 'Canes must stay in
the Orange Bowl because that's what the "real" fans like. Mr. Jones needs
to wake up, there are very few "real" 'Canes fans. Most are bandwagon fans.
Mr. Jones should look at the attendance figures at the Orange Bowl. UM
averaged barely over 58,000 per game last season. They have to play music
over the loudspeakers as a distraction because the fans aren't loud enough
to impact the opposing team. The two biggest draws were Florida (79,932)
and Tennessee (69,722), and I'd be willing to bet that at least half of
those in attendance were UF and UT fans, NOT UM fans. Remove those two
games and the average attendance falls to just over 51,000. Many schools
with lesser teams average tremendously higher attendance figures than the
'Canes. They should be embarrassed.

I honestly couldn't care less if the 'Canes stayed in their stadium forever. When Mr. Jones talks about "real" 'Canes fans it makes me laugh. I'm quite certain that if he got all of the "real" 'Canes fans together, they could split a pizza while sitting around his dining room table.

Jack Adler

There are politics involved in the University of Miami remaining in the Orange Bowl. There's also the notion of Pro Player Stadium being 30 minutes away from campus on a no-traffic day. That's the best defense of playing in the Orange Bowl. But the 'Canes and the city of Miami need to hold a bake sale, or even a car wash, to renovate the old dump.

Ivan, in response to your and Geno's thoughts on Matt Leinhart and his less-than-flattering T-shirt about the BCS, what do you think would have been the reaction from the media if Marcus Spears had worn an "F-Tiger Helmet-C-K the AP" shirt on national TV? Maybe it's that LSU fan paranoia we hear so much about, but I think he'd be roasted over an open flame for that one. And if the rest of the Trojans feel the same way Leinhart does about the BCS (which does suck, by the way; don't confuse me with a BCS defender), will they decline an invite to the Orange Bowl this year to stay in Pasadena?

Mark Adams
Baton Rouge

A) I would have reacted the same way. B) More important, I'm betting that LSU never would have let him on camera with that shirt on in the first place. C)You're right, Mark. It is that LSU fan paranoia.

Why should LSU have dropped so many spots in the polls? If it had been Georgia, Florida State, or Texas that lost by one point to Auburn, you can bet that none of these three teams would have dropped more than three spots!! LSU has never gotten the respect it deserved last year -- they will continue to be the most under-appreciated team in college football. Meantime, USC will continue to be the most over-rated and over-hyped.

Reed Richard
Baton Rouge


Maisel Is Lame
"-- 1988, when the roar after LSU's late touchdown in a 7-6 victory set off the Geiger counters on the Baton Rouge campus..."

Um ... Ivan. Geiger counters measure ionizing radiation. Was there a nuclear event in '88 that I wasn't aware of? You were thinking maybe Richter? (although Richter is a scale, not a counter).


William B. Lott, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, NM

Dr. Lott, if I had enrolled in your class, I would have dropped -- who am I kidding? I never would have enrolled in your class. I discovered long ago that I'm allergic to science. Unfortunately, I proved it Saturday. It's a seismograph, not a Geiger counter.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at ivan.maisel@espn3.com. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel E-mails.