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January 07, 2003 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-07

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January 7, 2003

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Bowling for a column:
One man s bowl week

ungover was I. It was New
Year's Day, and it was eight in
the morning on New Year's
Day. And I'm a square, sure, but I'm
not that bad a square, and my stomach
was in a knot that would only be
untwisted by coffee, a cigarette, or
more booze. I opted for the first two, as
I had an 11 a.m. game to cover for this
newspaper. Who schedules a bowl
game for 11 a.m. on the day after New
Year's Eve? The Outback Bowl, that's
who. The Outback Bowl. Tampa. I'll
tell you - at eight I was so not inter-
ested in crawling out of bed.
But I am a journalist, and my respon-
sibilities are to The Michigan Daily and
to you, the reader. So I shaved and
showered and journeyed with my col-
leagues to Raymond James Stadium
(hereafter RayJay).
All week I had been getting myself
psyched about the prospect of free
Outback Steakhouse food, and upon
arrival I was outraged to find breakfast
food. Breakfast food. Are they fucking
kidding? It's like going to a Bowl
game sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts
and being served pasta. Breakfast
food. Granted, it was 10:30, but I
wanted my Bloomin' Onion, and I did
not care what God-like event coordina-
tor decided that it was too early for
Outback food. If I hadn't been so tired
I would have gone Michael Douglas
(in "Falling Down") on their ass, but
for lack of energy, I buttered a bagel
and let the carbs soak up what was left
of my inside.
The game. Oh the game. I had cho-
sen Florida against the 1-point spread in
my Staff Picks, and was struggling all
game with the conflict between win-
ningStaff Picks and Michigan winning
the game. When the Michigan offense
sputtered early on, I resigned to a Ten-
nessee-like thrashing at the hands of
Florida and a leg-up in the Staff Picks
scramble. Then Chris Perry and John
Navarre decided to throw it down and
began their journey toward playing for
the national championship in 2004.
That's right. You've been thinking it and

you've heard the whispers: There is no
reason why this team shouldn't be col-
lege football's best team in 365 days.
What a delight. The day was made
ever the more glorious when Texas beat
Louisiana State by 15, assuring at least
a tie for me in Staff Picks. Even more
glorious still was watching Florida
State play something resembling foot-
ball against a Georgia team that I
picked, in August, as the nation's most
overrated. So much for that. But does
the fact that Florida State, Florida,
Miami, Nebraska and Tennessee all lost
mean that the '90s are officially over? I
couldn't have imagined how satisfying
it would be to see the teams that you
loved to hate over the past decade fall
one by one.
As for the rest of the bowl season,
Rose Bowl East was a complete dud.
That was definitely the game I was
most looking forward to, and Iowa
looked like they hadn't picked up a
football in, well, two months. I'm will-
ing to give the Hawkeyes the benefit of
the doubt and say that their play suf-
fered primarily from their absurdly
long hiatus.
Ohio State, of course, made it possible
for the rest of the Big Ten to claim this
season as our own, rather than just the
Buckeyes'. Congrats though, boys. My
hat is off to Jim Tressel, and Iam giddy
at the prospect of Ohio State-Michigan
2003. But just because Ohio State's
national championship was legitimate,
thus suggesting the BCS's legitimacy,
let's not forget that college football is still
in dire need of a playoff. The BCS
worked this time, sure. But as any dun-
geon master worth his salt will tell you,
if you rolla 20-sided die enough times
... uh... the right team will win it every
once in a while. Sorry. That analogy
broke down before I could stop it.
So, happy 2K3. May every bowl sea-
son be as entertaining as this one -
BCS or not.

Watson's first
year not what
he expected
By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Editor
TAMPA, Fla. - Michigan freshman defensive
tackle Gabe Watson was one of the only 340-pounders
talented enough to clock below five seconds in the 40-
yard dash during high school.
He was the prized recruit that, upon his commit-
ment last winter, led Michigan coach Lloyd Carr to
tell him, "I'm the luckiest coach in America."
Carr even said after summer workouts that Watson
"can do just about anything he
wants to." FOOTBALL
Anything, that is, other than
play significant minutes for the Notebook
Wolverines as a true freshman.
Watson was limited to just a handful of plays each
game, and he said he's starting to question whether he
should have redshirted-this season.
"I'm starting to get disappointed to be honest. I
don't know what else to say," Watson said immediately
following Michigan's 38-30 victory in the Outback
"I should have redshirted because (Norman Heuer
and Shantee Orr) got hurt, and they wanted me to
step in and play a big role. But then after they came
back I was right back on the bench."
While the rest of his teammates were celebrating on
New Year's Day like they had just won a Big Ten title,
Watson slowly walked out of the lockerroom, seem-
ingly on the verge of tears. He hadn't seen the field.
Watson's biggest problem was his weight entering
camp. The recruit billed as the top lineman in the
country showed up at 363 pounds, nearly 50 pounds
mbre than his ideal playing weight. Even now, his cur-
rent 326-pound frame is considerably larger than
almost all of his peers.
But despite his weight issues, Watson said he still
felt he'd get more playing time than he did.
The coaches "told me I was going to be a good
player. They told me all kinds of stuff," Watson said.
The former star offensive and defensive lineman at

Former Michigan defensive line coach Brady Hoke is leaving a defensive line stacked with talent, Including
defensive tackle Gabe Watson. Hoke accepted the head coaching job at his alma-mater, Ball State.

Southfield High School has no plans to switch sides of
the ball or transfer to another school. But to earn extra
playing time next season, he will compete with return-
ing starters Grant Bowman and Heuer.
Bo KNows BCS: Former legendary Michigan foot-
ball coach Bo Schembechler said he wouldn't watch
this year's Rose Bowl out of disgust for its lack of the
traditional Big Ten/Pac-10 matchup.
And apparently he wasn't the only one who boy-
The attendance on the 70-degree day was 86,848 -
the bowl's smallest turnout since 1944, when just
68,000 were on hand to see Southern Cal. beat Wash-
ington 29-0.
This year's game, featuring Washington State and
Oklahoma, marked the first time since 1947 - with
the exception of last year's BCS title game - that Big
Ten and Pac-10 schools didn't face each other in
Pasadena, Calif.
Schembechler said he blames the conference com-
missioners, not the Rose Bowl representatives, for the

bowl losing its luster.
"They threw the tradition out the window," Schem-
bechler said of the commissioners. "They don't give a
damn what it means to the players.... If you can make
more money, let's use these guys and make it - that's
what it boils down to."
HOKE HEADS ouT: Watching the Wolverines' victory
in the Outback Bowl was a bittersweet moment for
Michigan defensive line coach Brady Hoke. It was
Hoke's last game on the Michigan sideline, as the Ball
State alum accepted the job as new head coach for his
alma mater earlier last month.
"It was sad to leave Michigan because it's such a
special place," said Hoke, who has spent eight seasons
on Carr's staff. "I worked for the best coach there is, in
my opinion. But I'm excited to take the next step."
Hoke said he has spent nearly all his time helping
Michigan prepare for the Outback Bowl. That is,
except for Christmas Day, when he called all incoming
Ball State recruits to reaffirm their commitments.
"It took about 4 1/2 hours," Hoke said.


Bench strange territory for Horton

By Seth Klempner
Daily Sports Writer
Between meeting the needs and
demands of teammates, coping with his
classes and getting
enough sleep, BASKETBALL
freshman point Noebok
guard Daniel Hor-Noteboo
ton has a lot of
things to worry about. Luckily for the
Texas native, getting splinters is not

one of them, as he rarely gets a chance
to sit on the bench.
The rookie has averaged 37.8 minutes
in his last five games with the least
amount of minutes coming in a blow out
of Eastern Michigan, in which Horton
played 34 minutes. In that span, he has
spent 39 of the possible 40 minutes on
the floor in three of those five games.
One of the other major reasons for
all of this floor time has been Hortons'
ability to avoid foul trouble. The only
time Horton has had more than three
fouls was in his effort to guard Duke
point guard Chris Duhon, an All-Amer-
ica candidate.
"My legs are tired every day in prac-
tice," said Horton. "It normally takes

two or three days to recover after every
game, but considering that we play
every two or three days, I am not recov-
ering well enough. I think I am still
being effective, but I need to get more
Horton's playing time increased after
backup point guard Avery Queen was
dismissed from the team for violating
unspecified team rules after the third
game of the season. Since then, only
walk-on Sherrod Harrell has been
available to substitute for Horton.
Horton has the highest playing time
average on the team (34.5) with senior
LaVell Blanchard and junior Bernard
Robinson as the next closest with 31.2
and 30.8 minutes respectively.

David Horn can be reached at

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Faceoff Frenzy
After Saturday night's 3-2 overtime
win over Miami, Michigan hockey
players and coaches expressed con-
cern about the way that the linesmen
enforced this season's new 15-sec-
ond faceoff rule. For more on this
story, visit www.michigandaily.com.
All this time has proven valuable for
both Horton and the Wolverines, as he
is second on the team in scoring aver-
age with 14.9 points - 2.7 behind
Blanchard. The fast track learning and
extra experience has allowed Horton to
increase his production in assists (4.3
per game) while decreasing his number
of turnovers - he did not have any
turnovers in the first half against
Unfortunately for Horton, it does not
look like he will get much chance to
rest, as the intensity will only increase
when the Big Ten season starts tomor-
row night against Wisconsin.
"(They have told me) about the phys-
icality and the intensity required," said
Horton of what teammates have told
him of Big Ten competition. "About
how things are a lot harder offensively
as well as defensively because teams
scout you, and they know most of our
stuff by the time the game comes
"I think I will be able to handle it,
but right now I am paying for it."
STATUS IN DOUBT: Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker is still unsure of the
playing status of junior Bernard Robin-
son. The forward injured his knee dur-
ing practice last week and sat out of
Saturday's game after warming up with
the team.
Robinson gave no indication of
whether his knee would be better in
time to play in tomorrow's Big Ten
opener. He has been wearing a wrap
around his knee to keep it heated and
hopes to have a better idea of his status
Robinson, who is considered Michi-
gan's most versatile player, is the team's
third-leading scorer with 12.8 points
per game and second in rebounds with
six per game.
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