Posted: Friday December 23, 2005 1:21PM; Updated: Saturday December 24, 2005 2:24AM
Grange, a.k.a. the "Galloping Ghost," outscored Michigan's previous 20 opponents all by himself that day -- in the first half. Grange fielded the opening kickoff and raced 95 yards for a touchdown. He also scored on breakaway runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards... in the first quarter. In all Grange scored five touchdowns and threw for another in the 39-14 upset win. He had 402 total yards on the afternoon in an era when football final scores were rarely higher than table tennis final scores.
Harold "Red" Grange personified all the things we hold dear in a Heisman winner: dramatic performances, highlight film-worthiness and charisma. Grange was not only way ahead of his tacklers, he was also way ahead of his time. He left school immediately after his final game and signed with the Chicago Bears, embarking on a 19-games-in-67-days barnstorming tour that winter. Grange's pilgrimage changed the way football fans viewed the NFL for good.
Charisma? Was there ever a better nickname than the "Galloping Ghost?" Grange was even the subject of a 1931 Hollywood film entitled The Galloping Ghost, which starred... Red Grange. The man had talent.
Grange was simply Reggie Bush four score (as opposed to four scores) ago. So, in that spirit, I am hereby creating the Harold "Red" Grange Award. It will be given to "the most unforgettable college football player of the season."
This year's candidates are:
1. Tyrone Prothro, Alabama
2. Matt Leinart, USC
3. Reggie Bush, USC
4. Vince Young, Texas
5. Elvis Dumervil, Louisville
Now, you have one week to email me and become a member of the Campus Blitz Extra Point Club (there are already too many touchdown clubs out there). A promise to send me $1 in the near future is all I require to gain membership in the club, and you are immediately eligible to vote on the first annual Grange Award. There will be a small reception at the El Centro, Calif., Del Taco some time next month, with all the proceeds going to fight the spread of canker sores. Details to come.
Eight in the Box
1. Former USC quarterback Paul McDonald recently recounted his final game, USC's 17-16 Rose Bowl victory over Ohio State in 1980. "Ohio State was going to blitz and I called an audible," McDonald told the Hartford Courant. "I hit Kevin Williams on a 53-yard post route for a touchdown."
The Buckeyes secondary coach who called the blitz that day? Pete Carroll. McDonald's son, Michael, is now a sophomore backup QB for the Trojans.
2. On Tuesday Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt, who suffered a concussion during the Big 12 Championship game loss to Texas, criticized the NCAA as an organization that is "terribly run." The Buffs' record-setting senior QB was primarily concerned with the fact that players who deliver cheap shots face no repercussions beyond a 15-yard penalty and perhaps a game expulsion.
"The NCAA does a terrible job protecting the quarterback," Klatt said. "The NCAA needs to look at the NFL and how they conduct those types of hits and penalties and form some sort of strategy to protect the guys who are playing in their organization."
The next evening, during the New Orleans Bowl, Southern Miss quarterback Dustin Almond took a borderline late hit from an Arkansas State linebacker on a pass play. ESPN analyst Chris Spielman lauded the play, going so far as to mention that if the NFL should change one thing, it needs to allow defenders to put that type of pressure on a quarterback. Of course, Spielman is a former linebacker. Still, I wondered if Klatt was listening. Or if he was still too groggy to comprehend.
3. Reader David Bevan of Pickering, Ontario, throws out the following hypothetical. What if USC QB Matt Leinart's fourth-and-9 pass in South Bend falls incomplete? Bevan then analyzes the fallout if you make the HUGE assumption that all other statistical data remains the same for the rest of the season:
"Quinn's completion percentage is better than Leinart's (as it is, Leinart is 0.02% better, so call it a wash). Quinn's total yards for 11 games was 3,633, compared to Leinart's 3,450 in 12 games. Quinn had 32 TDs versus 7 INTs; Leinart had 27 TDs with 7 INTs. (Notre Dame is 10-1 and ranked ahead of USC, which is 11-1, and it was Quinn, not Leinart, who scored the winning touchdown in their contest). For my money Quinn would have been the better selection to go to the Heisman (ceremony)."
Interesting. Except, of course, that Leinart DID complete that pass.
4. Funny story from my friend Paula, who, like me, is an enormous U2 fan. "I'm having brunch at the Chateau Marmont (a rocker-magnet hotel in Los Angeles) last Sunday and I see Bono in the foyer. Bono! So I picked up my friend's baby (Tanner) and we walk out near him. I was afraid to talk to him, but Bono looked at Tanner and just said, "Beautiful... he's beautiful." So Time's Man of the Year thinks my godson is beautiful." Paula, by the way, used to play kid sister Joanie on NBC's Providence. My Christmas would have been made if Bono approached her and asked, "Didn't you used to be on Providence?"
5. Speaking of Dec. 25, do you know anyone whose Christmas list includes the item "Brokeback Mountain action figures?"
6. You have to think that the writers of Will & Grace will consider returning for a 9th season just for the new material that film will give them.
7. During last Friday night's I-AA championship game between Northern Iowa and Appalachian State, one of the announcers referred to the previous week's semifinal contest between UNI and Texas State. The Panthers (Northern Iowa) had just tied the game with a touchdown and 2-point conversion in the final 90 seconds. The Bobcats, playing in front of a home crowd and with all three timeouts remaining, had 86 seconds to mount a drive for a game-winning field goal. Instead, Texas State coach David Bailiff opted to have his quarterback take a knee and play for overtime, where they lost. Appalachian State, by the way, won the Division I-AA title.