Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has thrown nine touchdown passes in the first two games for the Buckeyes this fall, which takes on an even better flavor when you know that’s more than 125 college teams so far this year. And, get this, when No. 12 LSU plays at No. 7 Auburn in this Saturday’s SEC marquee game, both teams will be led by transfer quarterbacks – LSU’s Joe Burrow started out at Ohio State while Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham got his start at Baylor.
For the past 50 years I have loved the “inside skinny” of college football so imagine my delight to discover there is a new “hip pocket” source.
For years as a sports writer I would get a copy of “The Kickoff,” the wonderful college newsletter, fold it carefully, and stuff it in my back pocket. I would rely on it daily until the next Monday when I would reload.
As the Internet has changed the way we do everything, I have mourned that my “ready source” is no more … or at least that’s what I thought until this fall local advertising expert Kent Keasler added me to the friends of the Bobby Dodd ‘Coach of the Year’ who each week receive an updated eight-page marvel known as “The Blitz.” An updated copy arrives bright and early each Monday during the football season.
That’s how I found out about the Ohio State quarterback and the fact that two transfers will lead LSU and Auburn against each other. “The Blitz” is published by Jim Gumm, a Cleveland (Tenn) native who was actually the sports editor of the ‘The Kickoff’ some years ago and today, when he’s not selling radio spots for J-103, has developed a huge “cottage industry” that delivers “thousands and thousands” to select friends each week.
His client list includes almost every college bowl and a lot of pro sports teams as well as college booster clubs but when I called him yesterday, I asked him the more important question, “What do you do if you haven’t got friends in low places?” I am dead serious because I realize how many of my friends would love a weekly dose of Jim’s expertise. The newsletter’s cost is kept down because the Internet is free, compared to print-and-postage cost.
“When I started The Blitz was just a hobby because – like you – I know how much fun it is to research football teams, compare stats, and the stuff you’ve done for years,” said Jim with a warm laugh. “It gets in your blood and, while my Sundays are hectic, you wouldn’t believe how popular The Blitz has become.
“We add people every week because it is relatively inexpensive and pretty popular this time of the year. If there are people who want individual subscriptions, I’ll try to work something out … just tell them to call me (423/584-0360) or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gunn said the fact college and pro teams are clients has really increased his readership “but I couldn’t begin to tell you how many we have. We use a service that guards email addresses so when we get a new client’s list, I just forward the emails to them.”
Much like our beloved Kickoff of yersterday, The Blitz includes each team’s complete schedule, Power Ratings, a Top 30, but where the Kickoff was four pages, the Blitz is 8. “We can include so many things, like the winningest teams, the conference standings, and all of the ‘tidbits’ that so many of us like to read. College football still has an immense appeal,” he said.
This week The Blitz has a “Bragging Rights” page that ranks 130 NCAA teams by winning percentage … not by the most wins, mind you, but the won-lost percentage. Michigan is No. 1 with .729 over 137 years, then rounding out the Top 5 are Boise State (.726 over 49 years), Ohio State (.725 over 127 years), Notre Dame (.724 over 128 years) and Alabama (.723 over 122 years). Tennessee is 12th on the list (.677 in 120 years) and Georgia is 14th (.621 over 123 years).
There are 90 universities above the .500 mark and 40 below it, and it shows that Tennessee – as of today – has now played 1,269 games in the Vols’ colorful history.
I’m telling you, The Blitz is the real deal and, so help me, that is not a solicited statement but a fact.
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WHO IN THE HECK IS BILLY BEANE?
Chip Kelly, who is off to a rocky 0-2 start in his first year as the football coach at UCLA, has still got his sense of humor. Minutes after No. 6 Oklahoma pounded the Bruins, 49-21, the coach told sports writers, “The only guy I would say I'm disappointed in is Billy Beane.”
The writers were bewildered. There is no “Billy Beane” on the UCLA roster. Instead, he’s the Oakland A’s executive who signed Oklahoma athlete Kyler Murray to a $5 million contract on the provision Murray could play his senior season with the Sooners. Needless to say, Murray was sensational against UCLA, passing for three touchdowns and running for two more in an early bid for the Heisman Trophy.
To Kelly it was obvious. "I wish he gave the kid more money. If there was a little bit bigger prize, maybe number 1 wasn't out there because he's a real talented player."