Sports

USC running back expected to play football again after accident

From College News - Running back Stafon Johnson in critical but stable condition after weightlifting bar slipped, fell directly onto his throat.

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 In an unexpected, scary turn of event, University of Southern California running back Stafon Johnson’s life was put in peril by a small sleight of hand. Johnson was weightlifting as usual Monday when the bar slipped from his grasp and fell directly onto his throat. Johnson was taken off the Trojans’ campus wearing a neck brace and woke up Tuesday at the California Hospital Medical Center.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Johnson was performing a bench press lift at the time of his accident.

Johnson had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy to repair the damage done to his throat, along with reconstructive surgery. News outlets reported that, according to Dr. Gudata Hinika, the trauma medical director at the hospital, Johnson was communicating via waving and writing after his seven-hour surgery. The USC running back is currently in critical but stable condition.

“He’s not talking, but he was doing his wave and writing,” USC coach Pete Carroll said, according to ESPN. “It’s very uplifting for his mom and his family and all the guys who got a chance to go down there.”

Hinika said that a person with a smaller neck would have most likely died, but Johnson’s neck is larger than the average person. For USC head strength and conditioning Coach Chris Carlisle, he had never seen anything like what happened to Johnson.

ESPN reported that Johnson’s condition after the accident was unknown by the USC coaching staff, his teammates and his mother, who was actually working at the hospital he was transferred to. According to the Los Angeles Times, Johnson was communicating non-verbally with family, teammates and his coaches on Tuesday.

Johnson is not expected to play again this season, but doctors have said that Johnson should play one day again. Johnson is currently the USC’s second-leading rusher, and leads the team in touchdowns with five.


By Nick Mordowanec

   

Sooners lose tight end Gresham for season

From College News - Bad news gets worse for Oklahoma Sooners, as star tight end Jermaine Gresham out with knee injury.


Talk about adding insult to injury. Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford got hammered to the turf in the season opener against Brigham Young University, resulting in a sprained shoulder.  Before that, tight end Jermaine Gresham had suffered an injury to his right knee. And while Bradford will come back from his injury at some point this season, the same cannot be said for Gresham.

The Sooners were made aware of Gresham’s news on Tuesday, when head coach Bob Stoops said that the tight end will need at least five months to recover from cartilage damage to his right knee. Arthroscopic surgery determined Gresham would need stitches to repair his cartilage, a long and rigorous process Stoops said would hurt the team offensively.

“He’s such a main target, presence on the field and quality player that it changes,” Stoops said, according to the Associated Press. “It changes everything, your run-blocking along with your protection, along with him out in routes and, in particular, red zone stuff. You just have to work through it.”

Gresham did not play in the team’s loss to BYU, but his injury was thought by many to have an adverse effect on the Sooners. After Bradford hit the ground awkwardly and clutched his shoulder as he was helped off the field, all bets were off in the Oklahoma locker room at halftime.

“It was a total morgue,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said to the AP Tuesday. “It was a concern. I was a cheerleader for 10 minutes: ‘We’re winning. Open your eyes. Get a little spunk here. Let’s go! This is why we practice hard, for great games. Let’s go!”

Wilson did say, however, that Bradford’s replacement, red-shirt freshman Landry Jones, was the one who finally spoke out and attempted to lift his team’s spirits as the second half was almost underway.

“He was the only guy in the locker room talking at halftime,” Wilson said. “He’s the guy that gathered them up, and a guy that hasn’t said much.”

Oklahoma has been in this situation before. In 2007 Adrian Peterson, the now-stud NFL running back, broke his collarbone and missed the entire season until he played in a Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. But these latest sets of injuries pose an even bigger predicament for the Sooners to solve: their Heisman-winning quarterback and All-American tight end are both hurt for extended periods of time. Bob Stoops says the team just has to deal with the cards it has been dealt.

“In the end, our guys know. We expect whoever’s out there to do well,” Stoops said. “You have to move forward. Just like other injuries, someone else has to step up and play. That’s what a team does, and our guys are aware of that.”


By Nick Mordowanec

   

AP college football rankings list topped by Florida

From College News - Oklahoma drops out of AP top ten list entirely after embarassing loss

 

The new college football AP rankings list has been released this morning, and Florida is still the overwhelming the number one team in the college football land. The Gators topped the AP’s list of top 25 college football teams in the same way they topped their first week opponents Charleston Southern University--overwhelmingly. (The score of that Florida/Charleston Southern match-up? 62-3).

Texas maintained their #2 ranking after they obliterated their first week opponent Louisiana-Monroe in a score of 59-20.

But other teams didn’t fair so well. The Oklahoma Sooner dropped ten spots, from 3 to 13, after their 14-13 upset loss to Brigham Young University. On the flip side, Brigham Young breezed into the top 10 by fling up 11 spots from the 20th spot to the 9th spot. BYU’s gain was the most impressive increase on the AP list.

But they weren’t the only team on the rise. USC benefited from Oklahoma’s loss by taking their spot in the rankings at #3. The Trojans have a real test this week with their trip to Ohio State Saturday night, though the last time they met, the University of Southern California whipped the Buckeyes by a score of 35-3

Alabama also rose on spot in the ranking from #5 to #4 after they beat the Virginia Tech Hokies last week. Oklahoma State went up 4 spots, from 9th to 5th, after their impressive win over Georgia last week.

Moving up 2 spots each in the AP’s rankings for this week were The Ole Miss Rebels and Penn State. Ole Miss went from the 8th spot to the 6th spot after their win over Memphis while Penn State went from the 9th spot to the 7th spot after they routed Akron.

Ohio State dropped two spots from the 6th spot to the 8th spot after a 31-27 nail biter against Navy. The Buckeyes may find themselves biting their nails for a different reason come this Saturday (see above).

The University of California rounds out the top-10 after they jumped from the 12th spot last week. The Golden Bears blew out Maryland in a score of 52-13.

Past the top ten, LSU and Boise State are on the outside looking in with 11th and 12th rankings, respectively. Tumbling down a bit was Virginia Tech, who fell to the 14th spot after their loss to Alabama. Georgia Tech stayed put at 15, while TCU and Utah both went up one spot to 16th and 17th. Georgia fell 9 spots from the 13 spot to the 21st spot after their loss to Oklahoma State.

Alongside BYU, Notre Dame made the one of the biggest jumps on the AP rankings list, moving up 5 spots from 23rd to 18th after their impressive victory over Nevada. North Carolina rose two spots to 19th after their 40-6 victory over citadel and Miami broke into the top 25 at the 20th spot with their win over Florida State.

Nebraska and Cincinnati broke into the top 25 after first week victories at the 22nd spot and 23rd spot. Kansas rose one spot from the 25th ranking to the 24th ranking after their big win over Northern Colorado.

Missouri sneaked their way into the 25th spot after not being ranked last week by shutting down the Illinois offense in a 37-9 victory.

Three teams fell out of the rankings completely after the first week. Oregon, Florida State and Iowa all fell out of the rankings after rough first week showings. Oregon was apparently frustrated so much by the Boise State Broncos that fists started flying in a 19-8 loss. Florida State took a tough loss at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes and Iowa was not impressive in their win over Northern Iowa.


By Michael Hansen

   

College football opening weekend promises excitement

From College News - The 2009 college football season kicks off tonight, and Labor Day weekend will host several big match-ups.

 

The 2009 college football season is finally here. Fans have been anticipating Labor Day Weekend since Florida beat Oklahoma. The first weekend brings several interesting match-ups to the table as teams will try to get off to a good start. There will be excitement right from the beginning with four games featuring both teams ranked in the top 20 and two heated rivalries.

Thursday night, North Carolina State lost to South Carolina. No. 19 Utah extended the nation’s longest winning streak against Utah St. The most intriguing game of the night was when No. 16 Oregon lost to No. 14 Boise State.

On Saturday, No. 3 Oklahoma and Sam Bradford will be tested against No. 20 BYU. No. 13 Georgia goes in as the underdog, after losing Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno to the first round of the NFL, against No. 9 Oklahoma St. Oklahoma St. features one of the nation’s best offenses, with quarterback Zac Robinson and wide out Dez Bryant returning.

The biggest game of the night will be shown on ABC at 8 p.m. ET when powerhouses Alabama and Virginia Tech collide. Alabama comes into the game ranked No. 5, but they will have a new quarterback. Virginia Tech is ranked No. 7, and dynamic quarterback Tyrod Taylor will have the offense all to himself.

Monday night will host one of the most historic rivalries in college football. Miami and No. 18 Florida St. will face off as both teams try to improve on their last season. Labor Day weekend is going to be an exciting four days that will host several quality games for fans to watch.


By Ryan Howard

   

Freshman Matt Barkley named USC starting quarterback

From College News - Barkley to start University of Southern California season opener against San Jose State on September 5th.

 

Freshman Matt Barkley will have a year of firsts. He will start his first college game with University of Southern California as the first non-redshirt quarterback to start a season opener for USC.

As one of the nation’s top high school players, Barkley was honored but not surprised with the decision to be named starter, according to ESPN.

“I don’t feel intimidated at all,” Barkley told ESPN. “There’s been some great quarterbacks here, we all know that, and I’m just excited to be a part of it. ... I’ve been preparing this whole time like I’m the starter. That’s what I came in here in January hoping to do.”

Two days prior to USC’s mock game, Coach Pete Carroll announced the decision to start Barkley. The verdict was unexpected because the mock game was supposed to be the deciding factor in the quarterback race between senior Mitch Mustain, sophomore Aaron Corp, and freshman Barkley.

But Carroll and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates felt the decision was already made.

“Matt earned it,” Bates told ESPN. “It’s not based on [Corp’s] injury or anything like that. Matt has made some mistakes, but he’s learned from it and come back. He’s made it exciting.”

Corp was out for two weeks this month after developing a small crack in a bone below his left knee Aug. 10. Barkley took advantage of the situation and stepped up.

Although Corp was the starter out of spring practice, his injury allowed Barkley to close ranks.

According to the Ripsit Blog on the Trojan’s official football website, Carroll has decided Barkley is to stay the starting quarterback.

“Aaron has done a marvelous job of getting back from his injury,” Carroll said to Ripsit. “By next Saturday, we’d expect him to be ready to play if needed, but he’s not ready yet. The competition will continue at this position, but at this point, Barkley is our starting quarterback.”

Carroll and Bates had worried about the freshman picking up the ins and outs of the offense-- signals, shifts, and play-calling-- but early on in the spring practices, Barkley had it under control. The coaches were impressed.

“It was huge to get that head start with the offense,” Barkley told ESPN. “If I wasn’t here in January, there’s no way I’d be in this position now.”
Barkley graduated one semester early from Orange County’s Mater Dei High School to participate in the team’s spring practice. His dedication paid off.

Barkley will start the Trojan’s season opener against San Jose State at the Coliseum on Sept. 5.


By Selena Larson

   

Olympics out: Kwan chooses school over skating

Michelle Kwan chose school over skating.

The nine-time U.S. champion announced Friday she will not return to competitive skating in hopes of making the Vancouver Olympics. Instead, she will begin classes for a master's degree in international affairs at Tufts University. Kwan, who recently graduated from the University of Denver, has already made several trips as a public diplomacy envoy for the State Department.

"Skating will always be a part of me," said Kwan, who remains one of the most popular skaters in the world. "But in the bigger picture of my life, I have always wanted to find a career that will allow me to make a positive contribution and difference in the world.

"Representing the United States as an American public diplomacy envoy the past three years has been very rewarding, and I want to do more. Furthering my education will bring me closer to that goal, and I don't want to wait any longer to continue the journey."

The 29-year-old Kwan was the gold standard of her generation, her grace, beauty and smile making her a favorite of fans and sponsors alike. She's the most decorated skater the United States has had. In addition to her silver medal from the Nagano Olympics in 1998 and a bronze from Salt Lake City in 2002, she won five world titles.

But Kwan hasn't competed since an injury forced her to withdraw from the Turin Olympics after her first practice; she eventually needed hip surgery.

While Kwan never announced her retirement — the statement Friday from U.S. Figure Skating made no mention of that, saying only that she won't compete in 2009-10 — she seemed to be moving into the next phase of her life.

In 2006, the State Department appointed her to a position in which she talks with youngsters about leadership and social and educational issues. This year, she was named to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She also has done some broadcasting, working for NBC at the world championships in March.

Still, Kwan has been working out for most of the year, fueling speculation she might join old rival Sasha Cohen in a comeback for Vancouver. When it was announced she would appear with world champion Kim Yu-na at an ice show in South Korea next month — her first in front of an audience in three years — that only added to the buzz.

Kwan said in March she wasn't sure if she wanted to try for a third Olympics. She did, however, want to give herself the option, and had until September to enter qualifying events for this year's national championships in Spokane, Wash. Nationals also serve as the Olympic trials.


By NANCY ARMOUR,AP National Writer

   

Study finds rise in student injuries in gym class

Injuries to American children during physical education classes increased by 150 percent from 1997-2007, a new study finds, a possible drawback to a movement encouraging more vigorous exercise in schools.

Yet that may have less to do with lively gym programs than with lack of adult supervision, experts said. A decline in school nurses and larger class sizes could be to blame, said the study's senior author Lara McKenzie of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"Children got hurt by running into equipment or having contact with structures or other persons," McKenzie said. "They had heat stroke, fainting and heart palpitations." Boys had more cuts and broken bones than girls. Girls were more likely to suffer strains and sprains.

While the benefits of physical education classes outweigh the risks, McKenzie said, "being healthy doesn't have to hurt."

The study, based on hospital reports of phys ed injuries, was released Monday and appears in the September edition of Pediatrics. It suggests schools should renew their efforts to make gym class safer, said Cheryl Richardson of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education in Reston, Va.

Richardson noted some school districts don't require teachers to be certified to teach phys ed, particularly at the elementary school level.

"Classroom teachers who aren't trained in P.E. might not recognize situations that can cause injury," Richardson said. Certified physical education teachers know where to position themselves, the amount of space children need around them for activities and proper warmup exercises.

The federal Healthy People 2010 initiative has made it a goal to improve P.E. programs. That's led to more state policies supporting physical education, but not all schools comply because the policies aren't usually accompanied by funding to support them, Richardson said.

For the study, researchers analyzed emergency room reports of P.E.-related injuries in children, ages 5 to 18. The data came from 100 representative U.S. hospitals taking part in surveillance for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The researchers found nearly 12,000 injuries from those hospitals during the 11 years. From that, they calculated a national estimate of nearly 37,000 annual injuries on average, with fewer than 30,000 in 1997 and climbing to more than 60,000 injuries a year by 2007.

Rates per 10,000 students in those age groups also increased. The researchers weren't able to calculate a rate based on numbers of children taking gym classes, which would have given a more accurate picture. Based on other studies, the researchers believe there's been only a slight increase in P.E. participation and only in the past few years.

The authors said it's the first examination of P.E.-related injuries in a large nationally representative sample.

"Physical education in schools is one of our main tools to increase physical activity and prevent childhood obesity," McKenzie said.


By CARLA K. JOHNSON,AP Medical Writer

   

College Quidditch teams on the rise

From College News - Fantasy sport of Harry Potter is heading into year five of its collegiate existence.


You read that title right. Quidditch, the broomstick riding sport of J.K. Rowling’s insanely popular Harry Potter novels is being played at universities around the world, including Princeton, U-Mass-Amherst and Vassar College.

Don’t believe me? Check out the website for the IQA, or Intercollegiate Quidditch Association.

Last year’s season was the fourth in total, and the second consecutive season which featured a World Cup finale. In 2005, Middlebury student Xander Manshel adapted the wizard’s sport into a ground-based game for us Muggles. (Don’t ask--I’ve already gleaned too much of my nerdiness.)

New York’s Middlebury College hosted a Quidditch cup for the first two years that was made up of several teams from the school. In 2007, the game took flight (figuratively) at other colleges in the area. Amherst, Columbia, Princeton, and Dartmouth were stops for Middlebury’s squad, with coverage by local television outlets as well as ESPN.

Thanks to the recently released sixth installment of the movie franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sport is getting more well-deserved attention. A new article for the New York Daily News describes the sport’s gaining popularity, with over 200 colleges expressing their interest in the sport to the IQA.

In Quidditch, teams score points by throwing the Quaffle (ball) in one of the opponents’ three goals. Players can hold one of four positions in Quidditch. A keeper is essentially a goalie, guarding his goals from incoming opponents.

A team’s three Chasers handle the Quaffle and are responsible for scoring goals. Beaters, of which there are two, roam the field protecting their teammates from Bludgers, two spheres that traverse the area without prejudice, attempting to knock players off their brooms.

Bludgers are equipped with wooden clubs to redirect Bludgers away from their players and / or towards their opponents.

Finally, each team has one seeker. Seekers are nimble and quick with only one goal in mind: catch the Golden Snitch. The snitch is a tiny enchanted gold ball that zips three-dimensionally around the pitch, or playing field.

Catching a snitch nets that seeker’s team 150 points and is the only way to end a game. (Some Quidditch games in the books were told to have spanned months.)

Now, obviously all this magic has no place in the real world, but that doesn’t stop college Quidditch players from substitutions. Snitches are attached to the backs of runners in golden attire that race around the field.

Beaters now carry red dodge balls that represent the Bludgers, hurling them at opposing players. And of course, each player must perform all of these feats while holding a broom between his or her legs.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is out now in theaters across the nation.


By Joe Anello

   

Schools looking to parents to pay for sports

Soccer is good exercise, good for developing coordination and just good fun, but if David Haase wants his sixth-grader to play it at school, he'll have to come up with $135 to make it happen.

What will he get for his money? The use of a uniform for 11-year-old Morgan, and the privilege for her to attend practice. He must also supply a ball, cleats and shin guards if she wants to join the team at Karns Middle School in Knoxville, Tenn.

"It may get expensive, but I would rather give up something myself than I would give up something for our child," he said. "Those school activities are so important to a child's growth."

While parents have always had to pay for private piano lessons and cough up Little League fees, such pay-to-participate and pay-to-play charges imposed by public schools around the country are on the rise, often as a worst-case alternative to canceling activities altogether in the bad economy.

The practice has gone up and down since the recession-tainted 1970s. A 2004 USA Today survey found 34 state high school associations required participation fees. Now, dozens of cash-strapped school districts are relying on them to supplement squeezed budgets and fatigued PTAs.

In May, the board of education in Hartford, Conn., approved a budget that relies on parents paying $100 in participation fees, with a $200 yearly cap and a family cap of $400. In Manchester, N.H., schools are considering charging parents $50 to $100 for extracurricular activities per child.

Parents in Richmond Heights, Ohio, may have to pay up to $1,000 in fees next school year. It will cost $350 for a student to participate in a sport, band, choir or cheerleading. The charge for other activities, including the National Honor Society, will be $100.

Robert Kanaby, director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which counts more than 7.3 million participants in school sports around the country, said the trend is disturbing but still better than the alternative — dumping athletics and other activities for lack of money.

"The educational value in school sports in incredible," he said. "We believe it's an important part of growing and maturing."

Others in school athletics agree, but they said fees in schools not only sting parents. They put coaches and kids in tough spots, too.

Jerry Snodgrass, an assistant commissioner for the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the former athletic director at Findlay High School, where Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played, posed this predicament: If a benched student pays to be on the team, should he or she be guaranteed significant game time over starters?

"Your mindset may become, I'm an eighth man on a team, I'm not going to play that much so what's the point?" Snodgrass said. "Schools can really struggle with their numbers."

Some parents have banded together for a slightly different approach to paying fees per child or per family.

Last year, parents in the Wantagh school district on New York's Long Island mobilized under a threat to cut extracurricular activities. A dad, Don Desroches, led the charge, raising more than $650,000 for sports, music and drama. The fundraising took a few months and included endless bake sales, walkathons and jewelry sales. As a result, the activities stayed.

"You name it, we did it," Desroches said. "We really had no other choice."

When the budget passed this year, there was no threat of cancellation, Desroches said.

Relying on parents in bad economic times sometimes becomes the norm in a school as families resign themselves to paying extra year after year, Kanaby said.

"In some situations schools are charging students to participate regardless, a practice that's accepted ... from class to class and generation to generation," he said.

That's what happened at Karns Middle School, said Haase, who mentors student athletes at the University of Tennessee. The soccer fee was in place at Morgan's school when he moved to the area years ago from New York, and parents have accepted it as part of life, he said.

"I think a lot of parents have just gotten so accustomed to it," Haase said. "You're going to pay for it and you'll make the sacrifices of other things, in some other area."

For Morgan, it means the chance to play sixth grade soccer and hone her midfielding skills.

"She really loves to play," Haase said. "And that's important."

 

By COLLEEN LONG,Associated Press Writer
 

   

Senate to decide college football’s future?

From College News - Senate Judiciary Committee will decide this week if Bowl Championship Series violates antitrust laws


News flash college sports fans: the Bowl Championship Series is a criminal conspiracy! Who will step forward against this dastardly plot? Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Congress?

A Senate Judiciary Committee will convene this week to discuss if the BCS violates antitrust laws, and if it should be restructured to follow a typical playoff format. The issue was raised by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, a known college football enthusiast.

Hatch wrote an essay for the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, claiming that the BCS “intentionally and explicitly favors certain participants.”

With the existing arrangement, almost half of the teams in college football receive only a fraction of the television and sponsorship revenue. A significantly heftier portion is divvied out to teams in the six BCS conferences: the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, and SEC.

Hatch rallied against the deal, noting that “this money goes to benefit some schools and create disadvantages for others.”

Automatic bids are granted for the top teams in each of the six conferences, as well as the University of Notre Dame, to enter into the BCS.

Other universities can participate in the BCS, but none are granted bids for their top team. Polls and a computer ranking system determine the remaining BCS ranking slots and decide which two teams battle for the national title.

Fans have argued since the BCS’ inception that the system is flawed and often fails to put the best two teams in the national title game. It has come under fire more recently from President Obama, who is an outspoken critic of the system.

Most BCS detractors favor an 8-team playoff, which would be settled over the course of seven games. A few of the more notable Bowl Games would serve as the precursors to the championship match-up.

A benefit of the new system--besides fans not hating it--would be increased ratings and drama for what is arguably the worst post-season in all of sports.

Such a change is liable to drive up the cost of the $495 million dollar contract the BCS has with ESPN, attorney Alan Fishel, who represents the Mountain West Conference, argued.

Most pundits agree that a college football playoff would also considerably increase their ratings, adding to the sizable deals inked with corporate sponsors.

Congress has also stepped in to marshal other sports in the past. They held a hearing on steroids for Major League Baseball in 2005 and later for the Mitchell Report. Another Senator, Arlen Specter, held investigations on why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell destroyed the video tapes from the infamous “SpyGate” incident involving the New England Patriots in 2007.

 

By Joe Anello

   

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