Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cherry Movie Trailer

I worked on this film in the Fall of 2008. It will make its world premiere at the 2010 SXSW Film Fest in Austin.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Screen Shot from TNT Show Leverage

The TNT show Leverage starring Timothy Hutton is shot Portland. I played "Charlie" the Security Guard in a recent episode called The Two Live Crew Job guest staring the great Griffin Dunne and Wil Wheaton of Star Trek TNG fame.

Here is a screen shot:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anders Osborne Plays Portland O

It was a stone groove last night at Portland's Mississippi Studios as Anders Osborne along with Johnny Sansone and Clarence Bucaro invaded town on their Southern Troubadour Tour.

Obviously Hurricane Katrina and the ineptitude of the aftermath sucked. But there has really been some great music coming out of New Orleans in its wake.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Reaction To The SI Jeff Komlo Story

On June 15, 2009 Sports Illustrated published a facinating piece about former Delaware QB Jeff Komlo. Here is the reaction of another former player to that story:

In March, I dined with former college teammates from Delaware, and there were three linemen at the table, including myself, who had blocked for Jeff Komlo. When we shared the news of his recent demise, not a tear was shed. He was a talented athlete but a more talented con. He cared for one thing: himself. His actions went against the traditions of our school and all that we were brought up to believe was right.

-Former Delaware Player Joseph G. Susan Jr in a letter to Sports Illustrated published in the July 6, 2009 issue.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Alex McMurray @ Lousiana Music Factory

My favorite New Orleans musician playing from his new album at my favorite New Orleans music store. Pay close attention as there will be a quiz...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mmm...Nice Slacks.

"No, No, tuck in the jersey. You look great, Mr. Hernandez." (Caption provided by Matthew Fine.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chris Wheeler Makes an Oopsie.

Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler obviously didn't stretch out his tongue before the nugget:

Friday, June 05, 2009

Baseball The Way It Was Meant To Be:

With a porn-stache, a polyester shirt, and a smoke.

Ahh, don't you miss the 80s?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Great American Comedy

"Yeah, I was in the shit."

Rushmore is one of those movies that help define its era. It is the quintessential American movie of the 1990's that not only helps define us a people, it pokes fun at where were were and where we were going.

It is a story about the loss of innocence. It is the story of America on the precipice of George Bush, 9/11, and the Iraq war.

Besides, Bill Murray has never been better.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stay Classy Boston. Stay Classy.

Red Sox announcer Dennis Eckersley says what every Red Sox fan is thinking as Mets ace Johan Santana takes down the Sox last night....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Breaking News: Delaware State Changes Nickname

Amid pressure from the National Honey Growers Assn. and in the wake of forfeiting a home conference game next season in order to get paid to play at Michigan, Delaware State, moving forward, will be known as the Whorenets.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"There's no cheating in Baseball!"

I am currently working on a two part series examining cheating in Major League Baseball. The first part is done and can be seen here: Baseball's Cheating Culture.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Alive and Kickin'

I wrote an article reviewing the book Pieces of Me by Paul Sanchez.

Here is the link: Alive and Kickin': Life After Hurricane Katrina

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Springtime for BK in Germany

I have logged a lot of air miles in the last week: Portland to Houston to New Orleans to Las Vegas to Portland to Atlanta to Munich where Pam and I are now. On the ride to Munich I sat next to a German born woman who has lived in Alabama since 1957. She had an unfortunate accent combo. The first thing she said to me about six hours into the flight was about Iranian President Acmadinijad and how he was running his mouth again. I kept my face buried in Pieces of Me the book by Paul Sanchez that I bought on my last day in New Orleans.

After twenty-four hours of travel including time changes and layovers, we arrived in Munich at seven a.m. The train ride from the airport into town is about an hour and not too scenic. I kinda felt like I was in Northern New Jersey, and not the Red Bank, New Jersey of Alex McMurray’s youth. But Munich itself is a beautiful city with great architecture.

The main train station is huge and very clean. It was early in the morning, but Pam was having a hankering for sausage (what else is new), so we dove right in with a early morning brat with mustard. In for a penny; in for a pound. It was delicious.

Pam got us a bit lost trying to find our hotel which was supposed to be with a stones throw of the train station. Fortunately it seems like many of the people speak English which is a good thing because these Germans have a different word for everything.

We found the hotel, but the room wasn’t ready yet, so we went back to the train station to catch the first train out of town and up to Dachou which is where the fist German concentration camp is. The town of Dachou is a quaint little hamlet with a checkered pass. The camp is a fifteen minute bus ride out of town. It has been preserved to pretty much the exact condition it was in when it was operational. We toured the facility and watched a half hour film about the history of the camp.

We eavesdropped on an English speaking tour guide to get a bit of the lay of the land. We saw the same guy later in the day in town. He offered to tour us later in the week to some of the castles outside of Munich, and he only wanted 471 euro for his efforts. Pam practically laughed in his face wondering how much it would cost not to have him talk.

After Dachou, we went back into Munich. We checked into our hotel, the King Hotel, rested for a bit before heading back out into town. We went to the old part of town to the famous Haufbrauhaus which I am sure is the German equivalent of the Hard Rock except it dates back to the 1500s. We drank those ridiculously large beers, sausage, spitzel, pretzels, and salad. Gotta have your veggies.

Later that night, we were back in our neighborhood. Pam wanted to go to Boobs which is the table dance bar across the street from the King Hotel, but instead we went to another beer garden for some more giant beers.

Only one day in Munich and we experienced beer halls, sausage, and a concentration camp. Not a bad first day.

On day two Pam woke up crazy early and fetched me coffee and breakfast. I was feeling a bit worse then she was after our night of drinking. Once I had my legs back, we embarked to the old section of town again to see the sights and shop for shoes. We went into the Ludwig Beck store but the clerk told Pam that they only had a small selection of shoes which was his polite way of telling her that she probably couldn’t afford them. Instead she bought a fifteen euro umbrella which guaranteed us another couple of hours of sunshine.

We sat next to an American couple from Texas in the town square waiting for the Glockenspeil outside town hall. Next it was off to the outdoor market where a mean butcher lady yelled at Pam for wanting to take a picture of the meat case. I kicked her ass and we instead went to the fish store for a lox and onion sandwich on the best kaiser roll in Germany.

Afterwards it was time for more beer and sausage at one of the oldest sausage houses in Munich. The Weisses Brauhaus has been making their own sausage and beer since 1567 which is a good thing because anything opened after 1600 is total BS. The waitress might have been part of the original staff. She perfected the art of looking right at you without seeing you. She totally pegged me for an American and brought me a “light” beer. After some more walking and shoe shopping it was off the Ratskellar for more beer and none of the light shit this time. Ah Lowenbrau when the beer you pour must say something more somehow.

Later in the day we toured the famous German Residenz where many generations of royalty lived. It was largest house I have ever been in this side of Brakefield’s beach house. Some of the crucifixion art had remnants of the actual cross. Is that what they mean by Neo-Realism?

We were obviouly exhausted after touring the million square foot facility so afterward we had to get some more beer and sausage. Pam found some comfortable shoes on sale at the Puma store. Who’d a thunk it?

On day three we rented a car and headed out of town to one of King Ludwig II castles in the foothills of the German Alps. The castle itself was never entirely completed as they prematurely pulled the plug on Ludwig’s reign. The place was still pretty incredible.

Afterwards we drove to the German town of Garmisch which is a ski town that was used as a site for the 1936 Winter Olympics. Unfortunately the we missed the last tram to the peak and could only go about 1000 meters up to a little lake village.

Back in Munich last night, we went to one of the oldest pubs in Munich where they have been using Swiss ice to cool their wooden beer kegs since the late 1500s. We made some new friends as Pam swapped cooking stories with Christine and I talked politics with her husband Wilhelm and his friend who immediately discarded me because I was American and I didn’t smoke.

We spent the day today touring Schloss Nymphenburg and the surrounding grounds and then it was off to Hirschgarten which is the largest outdoor beer garden in Germany. It was a beatiful day for giant beer and pork shank.

A great dinner tonight at a tapas bar in a hip neighborhood and tomorrow it is off to the English Gardens to eat and watch the surfers.

More to come.....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry The K (1936-2009)

Very sad news today about the death of Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas. I worked for the Phillies back in the early Nineties. Harry was an inspiration to me and many others.

Here is a piece that I wrote about Harry for HubPages:

Harry The K

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Money Shot

As I get ready to hit the road again this week, I was thinking that I just might be visiting the two most diametrically opposed cities on the planet. My first stop will be New Orleans where the best shows rarely start before two am and the potential for debauchery is well documented. Afterward it is off to Munich, Germany which I thought would be stuffy, conservative, and, you know, German.

And then I saw this video and wondered if some Philadelphia Eagles fans had taken a wrong turn in Conshohocken and ended up at this “football” match in Germany between Hamburg and Manchester City. I started thinking that maybe New Orleans and Munich are not that different after all. 

Although “I’ll have a beer and sausage” may not translate exactly the same way...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Coach Gets Fired; World Ends; Film At Eleven

Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie was fired the other day after only two years on the job. While you can certainly argue whether or not the firing was warranted (Gillispie's record was a respectable 40-27 but Kentucky missed the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time in eighteen years), you can't argue that the behavior of Alan Cutler of WLEX-TV was anything but sleazy.

Watch the video below as Cutler chases Gillispie like he was Bernie Madoff down hallways and corridors of the Joe Craft Center after the firing.  My first thought was that Gillispie deserved the wrath of Cutler just for his lame I'm-on-the-phone-so-I-can't-talk-to-you-Mr.-Reporter bit, but upon further review, it is obvious who the douchebag is here.  If the hairplugs fit you must not acquit...

Friday, March 27, 2009

HubPages Article

Here is an article that I wrote recently with advice on how to choose a Real Estate Agent.

Choosing the Right Realtor

Friday, March 20, 2009

HubPages Article about Joe Flacco

Here is an article I wrote recently about Joe Flacco focusing on his incredible game against Navy in 2007.

Joe Flacco: From Delaware to the NFL

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dancing With Myself

Any chances that I might have had to win any of my pools magically disappeared about three minutes into the first game of the first day of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.  As soon as Butler fell behind LSU 9-0 around 9:14 this morning, my hope of finally winning dashed.  I should have hit the snooze and gone back to bed.

I never understand the people who fill out several brackets.  How do you know who to root for?  I may enter several pools, but I only fill out one bracket.  So it doesn’t matter when I enter the CNN DC Bureau pool as I do every year with about seventy people, the Portland Life of Riley pool that I am in for the first time along with about 150 others, or the Fine Boys Invitational which once again is me, my friend Matt, and his son.  Every pool I use the same bracket.  It is like my March signature.

Every year I also have the same feeling looking over my picks on Wednesday night before the tourney starts, “I think picked every winner this year!  How can I be wrong?  After all no one knows more about college basketball than me!”

My delusion usually lasts longer than five minutes.

By the time the day was over not only had Butler who I picked to go to the Elite 8 lost, but also so did Mississippi State and VCU each of whom I picked to go to the Sweet 16.

I feel like the guy who finally gets the nerve to ask the girl to dance only to be cut-in on right away without even a chance to dip.  And after I polished my shoes and everything.  

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Selling The Snake Oil in Upstate New York

I know the economy is bad but....

It may have been one of the greatest college basketball games of all-time, but it didn't take much for the pinheads in the Syracuse Athletic Marketing office to turn last week's 6-OT game against Connecticut in the Big East Tourney into a huckster cheese fest.

Exactly how long did it take them to put this gem on their website?  What they couldn’t frame Eric Devendorf’s enlarged preening ego?

The best part is that as quickly as they put the framed boxscore up for sale, they reduced the price from $79 to $69.  “Now you too can own a piece of college basketball history at a bargain basement price!”

I have already made a cleared a spot on my bookcase right next to my Barack Obama Inauguration Commemorative Yes We Can Eat Salad Bowl and my Michael Phelps gold medal bong phone.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Link to Article:

An article I wrote for HubPages about the Presidential Impeachment of 1868.

Edmund G. Ross: American Hero or American Zero?

When I told Pam what I was writing about, she snarkly asked if I had uncovered some new evidence.  Funny.  No, but I still think it is an interesting read....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Update: November 2008

Hello to everyone back in Blue Hen Country. As much as I have missed Delaware and Delaware Football, it has been an amazing Summer and Fall. I have received a lot of e-mails and messages asking how I am doing, so I thought I would post an update:

On July 31st I settled on the sale of my long time house in Trolley Square in Wilmington. I packed what I could into my car, piled Buckner the dog into the back seat and headed West. After spending a couple of days with friends on a lake in Newaygo, Michigan; I met my girl Pam in Chicago, and we stared weaving our way west.

We spent the next two weeks dissecting Rt 94 stopping at some great spots along the way including Deadwood and Sturgis, South Dakota; and Missoula and Flathead Lake, Montana eventually landing at my new home in Portland, Oregon.

I wasn't in Portland for that long before getting the call. One of my old buddies from college, Matt Fine, was making a movie in Michigan with his brother Jeff. It was one of those all-hands-on deck calls that you have to answer if you can. Fortunately for me and much to the chagrin of Portland Pam, I had yet to really look for a job so I had some time on my hands.

So for the passed two months I have been in Kalamazoo, Michigan working on an independent movie called Cherry which is a coming of age story about a young man embarking on his freshman year of college that is enriched by great writing and solid acting. The cast includes:

West Chester's own: Kyle Gallner; plus: Laura Allen, Brittany Robertson, Esai Morales, Stephanie Venditto, Kirk Anderson, DC Pierson (Search YouTube for his comedy troupe: Derrick), Zosia Mamet, and Matt Walsh.

The film was written and directed by my friend Jeff Fine, and shot by legendary cinematographer Marvin Rush.

We made the film in Michigan because of the incredible incentive program that the state is offering the film industry. We shot the film on two college campuses: Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College, and several locations throughout the town of Kalamazoo.

The entire crew was also living in a vacant dorm on Western's campus. So in many ways it was like we were all going back to college as well including playing bocce ball in the halls and tapping the occasional keg in the party room of the sixth floor.

For me it was a once in a lifetime experience. I was charged with many different tasks including casting a few of the supporting roles, casting the hundreds of extras that appeared in the film, and overseeing an internship program that saw scores of college students get an opportunity to work on the movie in several different capacities. One of those students may get a chance to go out to LA to continue to work on the movie during the post production process.

I also have a neat cameo in the movie as a male nurse; plus I even cast a robot. When it is all said and done I will be credited as an Associate Producer.

I am not exactly sure what is next for me but I feel like I have been bitten by the bug, and I am looking forward to continue to write and hopefully drum up some interest in one of my screenplays. But for now I am getting ready to head to Mexico and relax for much of December with my girl Portland Pam.

I have been trying to keep up with Delaware Football as best I could from afar, and I know it has not been a great year. Hopefully the basketball team will step up and get things going in the right direction again. Plus we all know that UD Football will not be down for long.

Goodbye for now and Happy Thanksgiving!

Bill Komissaroff

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good Night And Good Luck

It is with great sadness that I am announcing that I will be leaving Delaware both the state and the University. It has been an honor and a privilege to be associated with the University of Delaware for the past sixteen years, and it has truly been a dream come true for me.

Ever since I was a kid, I have loved sports. And it became quite obvious early on that if I was to make sports a part of my life, it would involve something other than playing, hence: broadcasting. I can remember watching the NBC Game of the Week on Saturdays with the volume turned down pretending to be both Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek. Most people do not get to realize their childhood dreams, and for this I am deeply humbled, forever grateful, and extremely fortunate.

My affiliation with my hometown University started back in the early 1990s when Jim Hayes asked me to sit in for him on a men's-women's basketball doubleheader against Drexel from the Bob that was being broadcast on the old Channel 2 in New Castle County.

While working at WSTW-WDEL, I was lucky enough to be the "back-up" guy calling basketball games on the radio when the football team's season was extended for the playoffs. Like in 1996 while the football was unfortunately getting thumped by Marshall in a I-AA Playoff game, I was in sunny Puerto Rico spending Thanksgiving with the Mike Brey and the basketball team who won two out of three games in that year's San Juan Shootout with wins over what would prove to be a very good Tennessee-Chattanooga team, and an 88-78 win over the University of Florida and their first year head coach Billy Donovan.

The next year while the football team was taking care of Hofstra on Thanksgiving weekend in the first round of the playoffs, I was in Bermuda with the basketball team calling Delaware's 66-56 win over American University in the first ever NCAA sanctioned event on the island memorable for having to use an office phone with a long cord because my equipment was not compatible with the facilities phone line.

I was the PA announcer for both Men's and Women's basketball for four years starting in 1996: the golden years of Delaware Men's basketball! While behind the mike on the PA there was nothing more thrilling than calling a Kestutis Marciulionis THREEEEEEEE!!!

Before the 1999 season the radio contract switched to the new FM station and the University asked me to team up with Mike Corey to call the games on 94.7. I'll never forget the butterflies in my stomach that first Thursday Night of the 1999 season under the temporary lights at Delaware Stadium as Mike and I called our first game together. It was a thrilling double overtime win over William and Mary, and in my mind I can still clearly see Butter Pressey slicing around the left end and cutting upfield for the game winning touchdown run.

There were so many great games over the years including national championships, improbable upsets, dramatic comebacks, and wonderful rivalries. But what I will cherish the most are the relationships and bonds formed with some truly amazing people, and what I will remember most are the funny moments of life on the road. Like the time an overly enthusiastic Corey tried to get his movie choice played on the team bus prior to embarking on an eight hour overnight ride home from the University of New Hampshire while Mike Brey looked back at me with that look of his telling me to reign in my man at the same time reminding us that, "Voltz (the previous radio guy) never complained about the movie".

Or the time when the team bus was stuck in the snow outside the Hofstra Arena during a blizzard long enough for Coach Henderson to watch the tape of his team getting pummelled by the Pride that afternoon finally exploding in anger and making everyone get off the bus and dig it out of two feet of snow on their knees with their hands. I looked over at Asst. SID Mike Hirschman to see if Henderson meant us too, and all Hirsch could do is shrug his shoulders and whisper, "I don't know?"

Football trips were always the most fun for the radio crew whether we were driving home from Northeastern in a borrowed SUV or trying to fly home (unsuccessfully) from Northern Iowa.

My approach to broadcasting the games has always been the same: be prepared; be honest; and (hopefully) be entertaining.

So many people helped and supported me along the way. To them I say a very big Thank You! The following are just a small sample. From the University: Edgar Johnson, KC Keeler, Tubby Raymond, Dave Cohen, Kirk Ciarrocca, Greg Perry, Frank Law, Jerry Oravitz, Monte Ross, David Henderson, Tyrone Perry, Sean Kearney, Scott Selheimer, Kevin Tritt, and Curt Krouse. I would especially like to thank Mike Brey who was instrumental in me getting the job in the first place.

Also, all my colleagues and friends at Clear Channel Radio including: Bob Walton, Matt Berman, Dan Clark, Tom Byrne, Glen Frazer, Paul Schmidt, Matt Ryan, Matt Janus, and Mike Miller.

Also big thanks to Kevin Tresolini, Scott Graham, and Joe Farley who hired me right out of college to call high school games at the old WAMS.

To my broadcast partner Mike Corey: We have sat next to each other for hundreds of games and countless hours on the road. We struck an instant chemistry that first night back in 1999 that has grown into something very special over the years. When people meet us they often compare us to an old married couple. I guess in broadcasting that is a good thing. Thank you my friend.

Finally to the fans. Thank you for listening. And thank you for accepting me into the Delaware family.

I am off to Portland, Oregon to start the next phase of my life with the woman that I love. See you in the bleachers in a couple of years when Delaware travels to South Dakota State!

Bill Komissaroff

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tennessee Jed and the Mexacali Blues

What an incredible year for the University of Delaware football team. Congratulations to all of the players, coaches, and support staff.

Thanks also to my broadcast team: Mike Corey, Glen Frazier, Matty Ryan, Matt "Yalloff" Janus, Colin, and the rest of the team at Clear Channel Delaware. Great job guys!

The lesson I learned from this year is to never underestimate this team and never make vacation plans where there is any chance of a conflict. Early in the Fall, my girlfriend and I booked our annual December trip to Mexico. As we were strategizing, I assured her that I thought the week surrounding December 19, was going to be okay. I knew the Hens were going to be good; I just didn't think they were going to be "championship game" good.

Silly me.

I paid for my sins by logging a lot of air miles that week. I went from Philadelphia, to Houston, to Puerta Vallerta, and to Bucieras. Then on Thursday night before the championship game, I left Mexico and made my way to Chattanooga. On the flight from Houston to Tennessee, I sat next to former Blue Hen player and current Hollywood producer Phil Atwell. We talked Delaware football, Michael Vick, and movies for the entire bumpy flight.

After the game on Friday night, the crew and I stayed out until closing time at some extra smoky joint packed with, lucky for us, Appalachian State fans. I got back to our hotel very late, packed up my stuff, and headed straight to the airport for a very early flight back to Houston and then eventually back to Bucieras, Mexico where my beautiful girlfriend was waiting for me on the beach with an icy bucket of Pacifico. In retrospect, it was not a bad way to come down from what was a very disappointing game. (The NCAA should be ashamed and embarrassed by how poorly the game was handled by the officials and by the host school. It was a disgrace. Both teams deserved better.)

Below are all of my blog entries for this past season. For best results, read from the bottom up.

Enjoy and thanks for all of your support!

Bill Komissaroff

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why Don't We Do It On The Road?

The look on Delaware head coach KC Keeler’s face said it all. As he was waiting in the small terminal at the Marion County Regional Airport in Carbondale, Illinois late on Saturday night watching his team make their way through the makeshift security line, he looked completely spent. And understandably so. For the second week in a row, his team had just pulled off an improbable win in hostile territory; this time it was a 20-17 squeaker over the fourth seeded Southern Illinois Salukis to advance to the National Championship Game Friday in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

He may have been exhausted from all of the hours that he and his staff had already logged to get the team to this point or just knowing the prospect of all of the hours that were still ahead of them.

Regardless of how this season ends, however, the 2007 University of Delaware Football team is already officially a huge success, as it is now on the precipice of winning a second National Championship in just five years with only two-time defending National Champion Appalachian State in their way. For those of you scoring at home (or even if you are alone), we are talking about the same App State that started their season with that incredible win over Michigan in the Big House and the same App State that went through Richmond last week like a Ginsu through a tomato.

To make matters worse for Delaware, they will be playing on the road for a third straight week; and even though the Championship in supposed to be at a neutral site, App State’s close proximity to Chattanooga combined with Delaware’s horrible handling of the ticket allotment means that Hen fans might be outnumbered four or five to one.

Sounds like the Hens have them right where they want them.

Back in 2003 Delaware steamed rolled through the playoffs making short work of each opponent including a 40-0 drubbing of Colgate in a final game that was over at halftime. That year Delaware players were able to sleep in their own beds and play on their own field for the first three weeks of playoffs before heading down to Chattanooga where they played in front of a huge contingent of their own fans who showed up in droves like it was Mug Night at the old Stone Balloon.

This year has been a bit different. For the past two weeks, Delaware has had to fight, scratch, kick, and crawl for every yard, for every first down, and for every point along the way battling everything from Mother Nature, to the T.S.A., to two very talented football teams in Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois en route to two of the most satisfying wins in the program’s storied history.

One thing that this year’s team does have in common with its 2003 brethren, however, is that it seems to be peaking just at the right time.

Keeler is quick to deflect credit for the success to his team and to his staff, but this is Keeler’s team. They are a group of players that take everything thrown at them in stride and are as cool as their Oakley sunglasses wearing coach.

Nothing seems to faze them.

After the Southern Illinois win on Saturday, Keeler said something to the effect that his team may not be the best team in the country, but that they were one of only two teams still alive due to their incredible perseverance.

That may be true, but if they are able to muster the strength to overcome all of the obstacles that still lay ahead of them, thanks to the beauty that is the I-AA playoff system, the best team in the country is exactly what they will be.

Besides, what’s a little sleep and comfort when you have a memory like that for the rest of your life?

Bill Komissaroff

(Reporting this week from the beach in beautiful Bucerias, Mexico!)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Can't Find My Way Home

"Is this heaven?" "No, it's Iowa."
-Shoeless Joe and Ray Kinsella from A Field of Dreams.

"It's hard on the road, man."
-G Love.

The trip took a turn into the realm of the surreal on Sunday morning when word circulated that one of the three buses carrying the University of Delaware football team and its entourage including coaches, trainers, cheerleaders, support staff, and radio crew had crashed. We were en route from the Waterloo Regional Airport to a Bonanza Steak House somewhere in the middle of Iowa after waiting five plus hours for them to unsuccessfully de-ice our plane.

Fortunately word came back quickly that it was just a minor accident and no one was hurt. Whew. All I could think was, "Thank God this is all coming after a win," as the team was supposed to leave on a charter flight right after their quarterfinal playoff game in the UNI Dome on Saturday night against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers. However, the ice storm that blanketed the state and much of the Midwest took care of that. Although we were told to hang tight because there was still a chance to depart late night but after a couple of hours, those plans were scuttled, and we were hunkering down for the night.

Sunday was a long day of hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait starting with a 5:45 am wake-up call and ending late at night in the same room in the same hotel where we started. It was like the movie Groundhog Day meets Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

By the time Monday morning rolled around, it was back on the buses and back to the airport to try again. I half expected to see running back Omar Cuff and linebacker Eric Johnson on top of the fuselage de-icing the plane themselves and quarterback Joe Flacco in cockpit preparing for takeoff. Why not? They did everything else to ensure a successful Delaware weekend in Iowa. A weekend highlighted by an improbable 39-27 win over the top seeded Panthers in the most hostile environment that I have ever seen in college football.

And what a win it was. An instant classic whose lore will only grow with time because of the ice storm and all of the travel related tribulations afterwards.

At the outset it certainly did not seem like it was going to be Delaware's day. In fact after the first quarter, it looked like the Hens were in danger of getting blown out of the dome. On the opening possession, Delaware's offense suffered two false starts, a burned time-out, an injury to left guard Corey Nicholson, and a sack. All to the delight of the huge deafening UNI Dome crowd. Once on defense, the Hens allowed UNI to march down the field in five plays and score a touchdown in just 1:54. At the end of the first quarter Delaware trailed 10-0.

And then something happened.

It wasn't as dramatic as the Navy game back in 2003 when the Hens trailed 14-0 but seemingly turned the momentum completely around on one fake punt play. It was more subtle than that: a ten yard pass from Flacco to Mark Duncan for a first down, a ten yard pass to Aaron Love and another first down, three plays in a row to Cuff for ten more yards, and then a seven yard laser to Duncan for a score. Delaware had adjusted to the speed of the game and was on the board. The defense, who also adjusted and began to take some more risks, would then force a Panther three and out and the momentum had slowly begun to shift.

Later in the first half Flacco would orchestrate a twelve play 80-yard scoring drive hitting four different receivers along the way highlighted by a 21-yard strike to Duncan and culminating with a touchdown dart to tight end Rob Agnone on third down. On the second play of the ensuing UNI possession, Delaware linebacker Eric Johnson would scoop up a fumble and rumble 55-yards for a defensive touchdown.

In the second half several Delaware players would step up and make big plays including kicker Jon Striefsky who kicked the two longest field goals of his career after UNI blocked two extra points in the first half; Kervin Michaud who had a 40-yard kickoff return and a 33-yard reception on Delaware's last scoring drive late in the fourth quarter; Matt Marorelle who had a sack and a forced fumble and recovery single handily thwarting two UNI attempts to get back into the game; and Omar Cuff who became only the second runner all year to rush for 100-yards against the stingy UNI defense.

The biggest play of all, however, came about midway through the third quarter with Delaware clinging to a two point lead. The Hens were facing a third and thirteen from their own 25-yard line when Joe Flacco hit Mark Duncan on an incredible pitch and catch 44-yards down the field. Flacco narrowly avoiding the sack by rolling all the way to the sideline and Duncan somehow coming down with the catch that completely deflated the Panthers and silenced the 17,000 in the dome.

With the win, Delaware advances to the semifinals next Saturday at Southern Illinois and are now just one game away from playing for another National Championship.

Coincidentally, it was Northern Iowa who had weather related travel issues before their playoff game with Delaware in Newark back in 2003 that led to their demise. Hopefully being stuck in Iowa for an extra couple of days won't have a negative effect on Delaware next week. I don't think it it will. In fact, I think it will have a positive effect. This team bonded through the adversity and became even closer then it was before.

When the plane finally landed today at New Castle County Airport after five days in Iowa everybody cheered. We were home. We weren't going to wake up in the same bed in the same hotel room in icy Iowa again.

But for the players the jubilation was short lived because they also knew that once we touched down, it was time for them to get back to work, for it will be a quick turnaround for everyone as we head back out on the road to Southern Illinois on Thursday.

And no matter the forecast for Carbondale, I'll be sure to pack an extra couple of pairs of boxers this time. Just in case.

Bill Komissaroff

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Rarely do sporting events live up to the hype (ask Ohio State fans about last year's BCS Championship Game), but in the case of the first ever football game between the University of Delaware Blue Hens and Delaware State Hornets, with all of the talk and expectations, who would have thought that this one would have been over before it even started with, of all things, the flip of a coin.

Delaware won the coin toss and elected to defer their decision to the second half meaning that Delaware State head coach Al Lavan had to decide whether to take the ball or defend a side. He took the ball forcing his team to navigate directly into the teeth of an eighteen-mile an hour wind to start the game. It would turn out to be a mistake.

On the first play from scrimmage, Hornet quarterback Vashon Winton tried a deep play-action pass downfield to his pro-prospect receiver Shaheer McBride. McBride ran passed Blue Hen corner Fred Andrew who had stumbled while backtracking, and was wide open near the fifty-yard line. Winton's pass, however, was knocked down by the wind forcing McBride to slow down and allowing safety Charles Graves and Andrew to catch up to him. In traffic, McBride would drop the ball (although the replay may have showed otherwise) and thwart Delaware State's hope of surprising Delaware and jumping out to an early lead. The Hornets would go three and out putting their punter, Josh Brite, in the precarious position of having to kick into the wind from his own ten-yard line. Brite would shank the punt giving Delaware the ball on the Del State forty-four yard line.

Four plays later, Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco would scramble and hit his tight end and roommate Robbie Agnone for a thirty-two yard touchdown. The Hens would never look back.

By the time Delaware State had the wind at their back in the second quarter, Delaware had already scored three touchdowns and led the game 20-0. It was 30-0 by halftime.

In the second quarter Delaware neutralized the wind by keeping it on the ground with their all-world running back Omar Cuff. It was Omar, Omar, Omar. Left, right, and up the middle. It just did not matter because the highly touted Delaware State defense could barely slow him down. It seemed like every time Omar touched the ball another record would fall. He would end the day with a UD single game record 288 yards and another four touchdowns giving him thirty-three this year and sixty-eight in his incredible career.

The final score was 44-7, but it could have been much worse for Del State had Delaware not called off their attack early in the second half.

After the game, Del State head coach Al Lavan who exudes dignity and class succinctly summed up the day's experience when he said, "Being here shows us how far we have come, but also how far we have to go." Unfortunately not all of the Del State players took their cues from their coach. On the game's last play, an inconsequential kneel down by the Delaware back-ups, Del State's Ryan Spinner leveled a horrendous cheap shot on the Delaware third-string center. Way to go Ryan; you really showed him. Spinner then refused to get in line and shake hands when it was over.

Spinner's thuggish act aside, the game went off without a hitch. The huge crowd really seemed to enjoy themselves despite the lopsided outcome. Before the game, it was great to see the two sets of fans co-mingle in the parking lots trading good-natured barbs back and forth.

Yes this was the first meeting ever between the state's lone Division I schools, but the way everyone is talking it surely will not be the last. It was a great day for the State of Delaware even if it was eighty-three years in the making, and in retrospect it would have been difficult, no matter how it went, for the game to live up to the hype.

It just would have been nice if it lasted a little longer then coin toss.

Bill Komissaroff

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Higher Learning

At the end of her show each week, Sarah Silverman always asks her dog, "What did we learn today, Doug?" After a crazy day in college football, I am sitting in my kitchen on Sunday morning drinking a cup of coffee wishing I had a dog named Doug. (Or a girl named Sarah!)

One thing we learned is that statistics don't always tell the full story. Back in 2004 Delaware ran up and down the field and dominated in their game at James Madison. The Hens out gained JMU 466-166 in total offense that day, but JMU prevailed 20-13 ruining the debut of a then unheard of Delaware running back named Omar Cuff. It was the type of game that championship teams find a way to win which is exactly what James Madison was that year finishing the season with a record of 13-2 and winning the I-AA National Championship.

Yesterday at Delaware Stadium it was JMU that was able to run it up and down the field. The Dukes compiled 403 yards rushing, the fourth most ever against a Delaware defense, including touchdown runs of 86, 48, and 55 yards; but it was Delaware who persevered this time defeating JMU 37-34. It was the type of game that championship teams find a way to win.

Another thing we learned yesterday was to play until you hear the whistle. On James Madison's second possession of the game running back Scott Noble ran what appeared to be a garden variety 2-yard run up the middle. As the pile was holding him up, Noble and several other players anticipated the whistle and stopped playing. One player who did not stop was Delaware defensive end Matt Marcorelle who ripped the ball away from Noble and started sprinting in the other direction commencing a 20-minute tirade/hissy fit on the field and up and down the sidelines by JMU head coach Mickey Matthews disputing the call.

We also learned that Delaware's defense needs both of its ends Marcorelle and Ronald Talley healthy. Marcorelle did not return to the game after injuring his shoulder on a touchdown saving tackle by JMU quarterback Rodney Landers on the aforementioned strip. Talley sprained his ankle in the first half of the Navy game last week and hasn't played since. After the game, Delaware head coach KC Keeler told us on the radio that he was certain that both would be fine and ready to go next week which I am pretty sure is what he told us last week about Talley. Delaware fans better hope so. Without either of the two playing during the second half yesterday the Dukes were able to compile 339-yards and score 28 points.

After the Delaware game, I had a chance to watch the Hens next opponent, the Richmond Spiders and their Big Daddy Long-Legs Tim Hightower take apart Villanova 35-27. You don't need a degree in Arachnology to realize that these Spiders are pretty scary. Hightower rushed for 187-yards, a touchdown, and caught 3 passes increasing his rushing yards per game average up to 154. These Spiders are far from a one-legged team however. Their quarterback Eric Ward keeps getting better. Yesterday he completed 70% of his passes, threw a score, and ran for one. Richmond also has an outstanding offensive line, a good group of receivers, a stingy defense that allows less than 20 points per game, and a young coach in Dave Clawson that appears to be on the fast track.

If Delaware is going to win next Saturday, they are going to have to play their most complete game of the year.

A couple of other things we learned yesterday. If you are going to win games in the Northeast part of the country in November and December, you better be able to run the football. Just ask Massachusetts and New Hampshire, who had to play in hurricane conditions and lost to the two worst teams in the CAA, about that.

Finally we learned that good things come to those who wait. After 44 years, Navy beat Notre Dame. Congratulations to Navy coach Paul Johnson. I hope you like the weather in Nebraska.

Bill Komissaroff

ps- See the post below for the recap of the JMU Game.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Battle by the Bay

I wasn't there on November 10, 1979. I didn't get to see Delaware erase the 31-7 halftime deficit or hear the zealot on the P.A. system shout, "Let's hang the chicken," as Delaware shocked the hometown fans at Falcon Stadium coming from behind to beat Youngstown State 51-45 in the famed "Shootout" game.

It was still a bit before my time in September of 1985 when Delaware shut down the Naval Academy and their Heisman hopeful Napoleon McCallum with the one man wrecking crew Daryl Booker leading the way. The Delaware defender recorded a record twenty-three tackles as the Hens hung on for a 16-13 win over the Mids at Delaware Stadium.

Like many fans in the pre-Internet and pre-ESPN Everything days of 1993, I was fighting through the static on my AM radio to try and follow that unbelievable frozen Thanksgiving weekend opening round playoff game from Missoula, Montana when Delaware came back and edged the Grizzlies 49-48.

During my nine years in the booth, I have seen some great ones including the amazing regular season finale against Villanova in 2000 when Delaware climbed out of a twenty-five point hole en route to a 59-42 win. There was the Navy game in 2003 when Delaware trailed by fourteen before they could even muster a first down. The Hens would use a fake punt to turn the momentum in their favor eventually holding on for an incredible for 21-17 road win. And then a few weeks later, I witnessed the classic 51-45 triple overtime win over Massachusetts setting up the run all the way to the 2003 I-AA National Championship.

It may be too soon to properly judge where this past weekend's game at the Naval Academy falls in the storied history of the University of Delaware Football Program, but in the immediate aftermath, it sure feels like one of the greatest games ever.

The Hens became the sixth division I-AA team to defeat a I-A this year, and were clearly the better team on Saturday prevailing 59-52 in a back and forth game at Navy that sometimes felt more like ping-pong then football, and nobody on the field was better than UD quarterback Joe Flacco who played with the confidence of a guy who brought his own paddle.

Flacco has been outstanding both on and off the field since transferring to Delaware from Pitt, but against Navy's meager defense, he took his game to a whole other level completing thirty passes for 434-yards and four touchdowns. Whether the extra motivation came from wanting to stick it to his former coach Dave Wannstedt who refused to release him from his scholarship at Pitt and had embarrassingly lost to Navy a couple of weeks prior in double overtime because of a horrible coaching decision, or because he knew that Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weiss with all of his NFL connections would be studying the tape as his team prepared for its annual match-up with Navy the following week, or it was because Flacco knew how important a win over Navy would be in the eyes of the selection committee knowing that Delaware might have to rely on an at-large bid to make the post-season. Regardless of the reasons, Flacco was as dynamic as a QB could be, maybe even Tom Brady-like, especially on the final drive of the first half when he completed five in a row for a touchdown in under a minute.

Obviously, Flacco was not alone. His former Pitt teammate, tight end Robbie Agnone helped twist the Wannstedt knife a bit while having his best day ever grabbing a career high 7 balls and rumbling for 133-yards. Omar Cuff was, well, Omar Cuff. The Delaware senior running back padded his highlight reel with another 148-yards and four more touchdowns breaking the Delaware single season touchdown mark with his nation's best twenty-eight scores.

Also contributing was Josh Baker who had the most acrobatic play of the day as he fought for the ball in mid-air ripping it away from Navy defender Rashawn King.

As impressive as Flacco and the offense were, this game may have been won by Delaware's defense which probably sounds strange knowing that Navy scored 52 points and compiled over 500-yards. But the defense broke serve just enough by forcing two fumbles and getting one huge stop on fourth down to give Delaware the advantage in this back and forth match.

I might not have been at the "Shootout" game against Youngstown in 1979, but one man who was is Delaware Head Coach KC Keeler who was the starting middle linebacker for the Hens that day having to move over from his usual and more familiar outside spot. Earlier today, I asked Keeler about that game and how he felt afterwards. He said that the entire team was physically and emotionally exhausted, but they knew that they could not afford to enjoy the euphoria of the win because they had to go right back to work and get ready to hit the road again the following week and play a very tough Colgate team.

That is exactly the case for this year's team as they have to quickly forget about this great Navy win as the most challenging and most important part of their schedule lay ahead of them starting this week against James Madison following with Richmond and Villanova.

Keeler's 1979 team was able to put the Youngstown "Shootout" behind them and refocus themselves not only for the following week but for a playoff run all the way to the Division II National Championship. As a coach, his 2003 team was able to use their Navy and UMass wins as catapults for their championship run.

What is in store the rest of the way for this Delaware team, and how will history look back on this Navy win?

I don't know, but it is sure going to be fun to be there to find out.

Bill Komissaroff

Saturday, October 20, 2007

On The Clock

It's time.

Delaware Stadium is sick; Delaware Stadium is suffering; and Delaware Stadium isn't going to get any better.

My father always used to say that the length of a minute depends on what side of the bathroom door you were on. For people waiting in line to use the troughs at the venerable venue on South College Avenue, that minute must sometimes seem like an eternity.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Delaware Stadium was a crown jewel. A palatial pigskin palace envied by all from Amherst to Zable. That time, unfortunately, has passed.

The "time keeper" was the issue last Saturday as Delaware hosted Northeastern in front of a large homecoming crowd. It was not the first time that the scoreboard and game clock zonked out; just the latest. The result was that twenty thousand plus fans (and broadcasters) in attendance watched game without the luxury of knowing how much time was left which is just the type of vital information that UD fans have come to expect. I felt especially bad for that guy who tries to time his trip to the trough for just before the half.

This past weekend's Clockgate was just the latest in what is starting to become a long list of issues with the stadium, the facilities, and the field.

It just doesn't seem to make sense to start throwing money at one or two specific issues when the Titanic is sinking.

I would think that the luxury boxes and corporate sponsorships alone would pay for most of the cost, if not all of it and more, for a brand new Delaware Stadium built either on the exact same spot or right next door. And yes my motives here are completely selfish knowing that a new Delaware Stadium means a new press box, and not having to fight my way over, under, and through the throngs of my colleagues in the UD press corps jockeying just to try and get to the single stall in the press box and then hope that the line is not too long so I can get back to our spot at the other end before we have to go back on the air after halftime. Get stuck behind a scribe a bit too "liberal" with his Delaware Dogs during the first half and risk missing the third quarter kickoff.

I understand traditions, but older is not always better when it comes to stadiums. The night before the Delaware-New Hampshire game I went to Fenway Park with the crew to see the Red Sox in game two of the Division Series against the Angels. As cool as Fenway is, and I know I am committing sacrilege here, it is just not that much fun sitting in those tiny little seats for five hours angled the wrong way with no leg room jammed in like a herring next to some drunk Sox fan clapping for Manny while holding both of his plastic draft beer cups in his teeth.

Delaware Football has an incredible history steeped in tradition. A large part of the fabric of that tradition has been and always will be tied to Delaware Stadium; the two are almost synonymous. But, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is not the end of Delaware Football. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Its time to put Delaware Stadium out of its misery.

Bill Komissaroff

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mistake Free Or Die

So much went wrong for the University of Delaware Blue Hen football team in their 35-30 loss at New Hampshire on Saturday that, at times, it was hard to imagine this was the same team that had cruised through its first five ballgames unscathed. There were just too many mental mistakes, missed assignments, and missed tackles. The team also had poor communication, poor protection, too many penalties, and one very costly turnover.

During warm-ups before the game, tight-end Robbie Agnone felt like something was off. He couldn't quite put his finger on it at the time, but, in retrospect, he felt like the team was over confident.

"There was a different attitude", Agnone said on Monday, "but I thought we could overcome it once the game started."

Unfortunately for Delaware by then it was too late.

Two consecutive plays late in the first half epitomize Delaware's problems on and off the field. Facing a fourth down and five at the fifty yard line, the Hens sent out their punt team. Head Coach KC Keeler had alerted his coaches that he might want to try a fake. The Delaware coaches up in the booth and on the sidelines, who were having problems with their headsets throughout the entire game, thought they heard Keeler call for a fake when in fact he had called just the opposite. While the Hens were confused and snapped it to the upback, New Hampshire's defense was not in the least bit confused or surprised as they tackled Fred Andrew behind the line of scrimmage for a five yard loss.

On the very next play UNH backup quarterback RJ Toman, playing for the injured Ricky Santos, brought his offense out to the line of scrimmage and as the Delaware coaches were screaming to remind their players about "sudden changes", Toman threw a lateral pass to Keith LeVan who then threw it forty-five yards downfield to Mike Boyle who was standing all alone for a touchdown. Just like they draw it up on the sandlot.

The fear for Delaware fans is not that the Hens lost, after all it was on the road against a tough conference opponent that had backed itself into a corner with two early conference losses. It was how they lost. They were unprepared to play and came out flat. Perhaps the team had become too enamored with itself and its 5-0 record, or perhaps they thought they could just to show up and win as they seemingly had in their first five games.

After the game, Coach Keeler told us on the radio that he thought New Hampshire had a "nice ball club, but they are not quite up to the level that we are."

The problem is that we are not exactly sure what that level is yet.

We know that Delaware is a good team. There is just too much talent for it not to be. But what we don't know yet is whether Delaware is a championship team.

Championship teams don't stall three first half drives because of procedure penalties. They don't let opposing quarterbacks scramble consistently for first downs and touchdowns. And they don't get stuffed on a must have fourth and one using a play that they practice so much the players must see it in their sleep.

On Monday Keeler told his team that they can't let New Hampshire beat them twice. He is right. Since championship teams rarely go undefeated, one thing they must always do is bounce back after a loss.

The Hens will have that opportunity this Saturday in front of a huge homecoming crowd at Delaware Stadium when they play a Northeastern team that gave James Madison fits and is apparently better then their 1-4 record.

If Delaware can rebound and take care of Northeastern this weekend, they would be 6-1 going into the bye week, and still be in a position to achieve everything they want and dream of this year. However they must play better. Because while championship teams can often survive the mishaps and mistakes of a game like Saturday's once.

They rarely do twice.

Bill Komissaroff

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Another Tricky Day

"You've got the room with the fire escape; I've got the smoke detector" -The Knobs

It can be a liberating feeling when your baseball team is eliminated. I am just not sure that I could have handled the stress of another Mets post season especially with the memory still fresh from last year when Carlos Beltran's feet were in the box but the bat was on his shoulder as he watched the last pitch of game seven go by.

I didn't want to spend the next four weeks agonizing every night watching playoff games all pumped on caffeine to stay up past midnight and then all bleary eyed the next day while scouring every single word in every single newspaper, magazine, and website simultaneously while watching Peter Gammons on some continuous loop either real or more likely imagined in my head.

Instead I can do something fun. Like being the first one in my household to watch all ninety-seven hours of the Ken Burns World War II documentary!

Or I can brush up on my BNI Leadership Team Policy and Procedures Handbook! After all a good referral is a terrible thing to waste.

Now I'll be able to go up to New Hampshire for this weekend's Hens game against UNH with a clear head not having to worry about a Mets playoff game coinciding with Delaware's upcoming clash with Ricky Santos; or even worse having to find a bar in Durham the night before that is willing to switch the channel off the inevitable Bruins pre-season hockey game.

With all of this extra time I will be able to focus my attention on my calling-it-mediocre-would-be-generous fantasy football team, and give Kansas City back-up running back Michael Bennett the respect and attention he rightly deserves.

Okay, maybe not.

It is supposed to be different when you are forty-two, right?

Certainly I didn't feel as bad on Sunday when the Mets lost and the Phillies won ending the Mets season, as I did when the Jets lost the 1982 AFC Championship game to the Dolphins. I watched that game alone in my room at my parent's house in Green Acres because I was too nervous to watch the game with anyone else. I didn't come out of that room at all that night. I just sat there wondering what could have been had Jerome Barkum not dropped Richard Todd's pass in the endzone. I had to be prodded the next day by my mom just to go to school.

But at the same time, it probably would not have felt as good as it did in 1986 when Mookie's ball went through Buckner's legs and all of New York City erupted as we watched from an Italian restaurant on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan during Fall break from college; Billy Rustum finally picking his head up off the bar where it had been buried in his arms since the sixth inning because he just couldn't bear to watch.

We love sports as much for the lows as we do for the highs.

I understand the depths of the Phillies fan. I took a three year Mets sabbatical when I worked for the Phillies from 1992-94. I was in the visitor's radio booth in Toronto at Skydome producing the radio broadcast when Joe Carter took Mitch Williams deep in game six to abruptly end the 1993 World Series.

I don't hold any animosity towards the Phillies for overtaking the Mets this year. Let's face it: The Mets blew it. They completely imploded and the Phillies were there to pick up the mess. The Phillies, to their credit, put themselves into a position to take advantage of the collapse. But it was a collapse.

Good luck to the Phillies and all my Phillie fan friends. Enjoy the ride over the next three weeks and I hope they don't break your heart again.

I'll be sure to save the season premiere of Two and Half Men for you on my Tivo.

Bill Komissaroff

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Slogging Into The 21st Century

The Earth shifted this week on South College Avenue, and it now looks like there will be a football game between the University of Delaware and Delaware State University sometime before the Sun begins to die in the next five billion years. The shift was felt on Monday afternoon when Delaware head coach KC Keeler told me and others that he thought the game would happen "sooner rather than later," but more importantly that he was taking a more active role "philosophically" in Delaware's football schedule design.

When he was hired after the 2001 season, Keeler was told two things by his new employers: Don't try to change the helmets, and leave the scheduling to us. But after looking at his team's tentative schedule for the 2008 season and seeing games at Maryland, at Furman, at James Madison, at Hofstra, at Richmond, and knowing earlier this year Delaware had scheduled a series of three games starting in 2010 with South Dakota State including one on the road, Keeler felt like it was time to get more involved. On Monday Keeler said that he would like to continue to see Delaware play a Division II school every year. (If you listen closely you may be able to hear the sounds of champagne corks popping through out the borough of West Chester, Pennsylvania.)

Keeler also said that he would like to have a Division I-A game like Navy, Army, Maryland, or Temple on the schedule every other year, and for the rest of the non-conference games he would like to see them against other I-AA opponents who would be willing to play exclusively at Delaware Stadium without any reciprocation. He then said (prepare for shift) that if Delaware State falls into that last category than so be it, "it would be good for the state".

The long debated controversy over why Delaware and Delaware State have yet to meet in football bubbled up again this week for several reasons.

First, it is always a topic when Delaware plays a game against any non-conference opponent that isn't Delaware State. On Saturday Delaware hosts Monmouth a I-AA school that would probably be in Division II or III except for the fact that they want their basketball program to be able to compete in Division I.

Delaware Athletic Director Edgar Johnson has maintained over the years that Delaware was not opposed to playing Delaware State they could just never find room on the schedule for the game. Proponents of the game scoffed that if Delaware could find room for the likes of Monmouth this year, Holy Cross and Albany the last two years, West Chester every year, and South Dakota State starting in 2010 then why not Delaware State?

Earlier this week the debate reached the national stage when Jeff Pearlman, a former Sports Illustrated reporter and a University of Delaware alum, penned a piece for ESPN's website citing racism as the reason for Delaware avoiding the game.

This is not the first time that race has been mentioned in this context. While no proof exists to validate this view, the history of Delaware (the State and the University) shows a poor track record in the area. For example:
  • In 1861 despite rejecting an offer to join the Confederacy, Delaware remained a slave holding state.
  • In 1862 the Delaware legislature rejected an offer from President Lincoln to buy all of its slaves in order to set them free.
  • In 1865 the Delaware legislature voted against the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery.
  • In 1868 the Delaware legislature voted against the fourteenth amendment which guaranteed equal protection for all races.
  • In 1891 in response to the Morrill Act of 1890 which required that states either open their land-grant colleges to all races or create a separate land-grant specifically for blacks, the Delaware General Assembly rather than allow blacks to attend the University of Delaware chose the latter and as a result The State College for Colored Students was established eventually changing its name to Delaware State College in 1947 and then Delaware State University in 1993.
  • In 1950 the University of Delaware changes policy and admits its first African-American students.
  • In 1968 in the wake of riots in Wilmington the National Guard begins a ten month occupation of the State's largest city. The longest occupation in the country.
  • In 1990 after a series of racial incidents, the University must strengthen its policies regarding racial harassment.
Back in 1957, a full decade after Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Philadelphia Phillies finally signed their first black ballplayer. They were the last National League team to so. Later in life Robinson recalled that he used to receive death threats wherever he played, but Philadelphia was the only place he was ever actually scared that something bad might happen. In fact after a game with the Phillies in 1947 in which the hate and venom that spewed from the Phillies dugout from their manager Ben Chapman and some of the players was so strong that Robinson actually considered quitting. "To hell with Mr. Rickey's noble experiment," Robinson wrote of the encounter in his autobiography in 1972.

At the time, the Phillies were owned by the late Bob Carpenter a member of the Board of Trustees and long time benefactor and supporter of the University of Delaware.

Do any of these things have anything to do with the reason why Delaware has refused to play Delaware State in football? I don't know. But I think that it provides a context as to why people might think that race is the underlying reason why the University has evaded the game for so long. The University has never publicly stated its reasons for not playing the game. When pressed for an answer over the years, Athletic Director Edgar Johnson has never expanded on his standard response of "it will happen".

I do not think that the University is racist today although I do think it can be stubborn and slow to react. It seems like the harder people have pushed for the game over the last ten years, the harder the University has resisted. I just don't think they like being told what to do. I also wonder if, in some strange way, by agreeing to play the game now it would look like an admission of guilt for not playing it sooner.

In the past I have never been a huge advocate of playing the game, but I think the time has come. The University needs to bite the bullet, take its lumps, and just schedule the game.

And if the earth can shift at the mere mention of being philosophically agreeable to it, imagine how much the earth will move when ball is actually kicked off for the first time.

Bill Komissaroff

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Few Good Hen

Larry David might describe this Delaware football team as being pretty good. Pretty, pretty good. I am not sure we know how good just yet, but I think we will have a better idea after Saturday's showdown with Towson and quarterback Sean Schaefer.

So far this season, Delaware has done everything and more asked of them including last weekend's 38-9 thumping of Rhode Island; but, let's face it, Delaware fans wouldn't be Delaware fans if they weren't, deep down in places you don't like to talk about at parties, still just a tad bit nervous.

After all it was just two years ago that Delaware was coming off a playoff appearance and had started out the season 3-0 with wins over Lehigh, West Chester, and Holy Cross before heading down to Towson and losing giving the Tigers their first ever conference win. A huge upset that might have saved Towson coach Gordy Combs his job. Delaware went on to finish 6-5 that year following that up with a 5-6 record in 2006, which also included a 49-35 loss to Towson at home.

Which brings us to 2007. Yes, the Hens are 3-0, but how good has the competition been so far? The jury is certainly still out on William and Mary even though they have won their last two since dropping the opener to the Hens albeit against suspect opposition in VMI and Liberty. West Chester is, of course, a Division II school, and as much as I like Rhode Island head coach Tim Stowers, if they truly want to compete in the CAA, Rhode Island should consider a complete overhaul including scrapping that ridiculous triple-option gimmick of an offense.

Since beating Delaware back in 2005, Towson's total record to date is 12-8 just missing the playoffs last year by blowing an eleven point fourth quarter lead at home to William and Mary late in the season. A third straight win this year over Delaware would certainly go a long way to helping secure Towson a spot among the upper echelon of the CAA, and I am sure it wouldn't hurt those other Towson and Delaware battles that occur not on the field but in the living rooms of high school juniors and seniors around the region.

If Delaware is going to stop this losing streak to Towson, they are going to have to figure out a way to rattle junior quarterback Sean Schaefer who has thrown for over 700 yards and six touchdowns in two games against Delaware. A task easier said than done. Schaefer comes from a lineage of fire fighters and wants to go into the family business after college. Last week against a very strong UMass defense, Schaefer took hit after hit never once even flinching. I guess if you are willing to walk into burning buildings for a living, it may take a little more than a blitzing college football defense to get you off of your game.

Ultimately, however, the UMass defense was too much for Schaefer who was sacked four times and intercepted three times as Towson's high-powered offense smoldered against UMass losing 36-13. Expect the Delaware coaches to spend a lot of time watching that tape.

Which brings us to Saturday. I think this year's 3-0 Delaware team is much better poised to tackle Towson than the 2005 3-0 Delaware team that went down there and lost. I also think that this year's Delaware defense is so much better that it will be difficult for Sean Schaefer to carve it apart as he did last year at Delaware Stadium.

Will it be enough to halt the two-game losing streak to Towson?

One thing is for sure if Delaware does win and improves to 4-0, we will know that they are better than just pretty, pretty good.

Bill Komissaroff

Monday, September 10, 2007

Say Uncle

The University of Delaware football team wanted to make sure that their helmets were the only thing that they had in common with Michigan in their home opener against the West Chester Rams on Saturday night. Before the game Head Coach KC Keeler refreshingly told his players that they were the better team and he expected them to act that way. Any thoughts that West Chester might have had of "App Stating" the Hens on Tubby's Tundra were quickly quashed.

On Delaware's second play from scrimmage quarterback Joe Flacco, who is as calm as an accountant the day after tax day, fired the ball down field and hit Mark Duncan for a thirty-seven yard gain setting up an early score en route to a 41-14 win over their Division II foes.

On the ensuing kickoff Brian Void set the tone for the rest of the night by pummelling West Chester returner D'Andre Webb. The pop instantly becoming a candidate for special teams hit of the year.

Keeler, when asked how you handle a lesser opponent, answered, "to not let them them breathe", and after Delaware's performance in the first half, West Chester was clearly gasping. The Hens dominated every facet of the game never letting what might have been the best West Chester team in years to come to Delaware Stadium think they had a chance.

Afterward West Chester head coach Bill Zwann summed it up, "I felt like were weren't in this one at all."

He was right.

By halftime Delaware led 34-0. Omar Cuff had close to 100 yards rushing and scored another four touchdowns. Joe Flacco was close to 300 yards passing. The defense was pitching a shut-out and had forced three turnovers. As for special teams Stuart Kenworthy's lone punt in the first half pinned the Rams on the two yard line and Jon Striefsky was a perfect two for two on field goal opportunities while consistently kicking off inside the five yard line.

In the second half the Hens were able to rest the starters while the coaches tested the back-ups. Passing with honors was true freshman running back Philip Thaxton who exploded through a hole on his first ever college football touch stopping 62 yards later in the end zone. Thaxton was electric. Later in the game he broke off another long run that would have been a touchdown had West Chester defender Mike Mignogno not made a terrific play on the ball forcing a fumble. Thaxton still finished with 177 yards rushing setting a Delaware debut record.

It should get tougher for the Hens next weekend as another group of Rams come to play in a CAA Conference game. Rhode Island is 0-2 so far this year, but according to their coach Tim Stowers they could easily be 2-0 if it weren't for all those pesky fumbles, interceptions, missed field goals, and other blown red zone opportunities. Rhode Island utilizes that "great equalizer" of an offense: the triple option. But since he has been at Delaware, Keeler has had success against triple option teams like Georgia Southern in 2002, Navy in 2003, and Rhode Island twice in 2003 and 2006.

Delaware is 2-0 so far this year, but if this team continues to play like they have in the first two games and Michigan continues to play like they have in their first two games, maybe by the end of the year people will think that Michigan is wearing Delaware's helmet instead of the other way around.

How cool would that be?

Bill Komissaroff

Friday, August 31, 2007

O What A Night

Early Friday Morning I was driving up the Eastern Shore of Virginia on my way home from Delaware's first football game of the year the previous night at William and Mary. I was thinking about the game and to paraphrase the late Jack Buck, I still didn't believe what I had just seen.

Delaware running back Omar Cuff rewrote the record books on Thursday Night when he rushed for 244 yards and scored 7 touchdowns. I wonder if he got a little tired of all of us asking him if his ankle was okay. If so, message received. Loud and clear. We get it.

In a funny anomaly Omar's profile on the ESPN site projects his stats for the entire 2007 season based on the first game. How is this for a line:

330 rushes for 2684 yards and 66 TDs plus 44 catches for 572 yards and 11 receiving TDs.
While those numbers may be a tad ambitious, if he stays healthy, Omar will likely have a huge year.

Not bad for a guy who was brought in to be a reserve defensive back never likely to play much, and was moved over to offense only out of necessity in 2004 when several other running backs went down with injuries. That year, after not playing at all in the first six games and only sparingly in the next two, Omar had his coming out party in Game 9 on the road against one of the toughest defenses in the country.

Like the character from the HBO show The Wire who has the same name and who announces his presence with a giant shotgun, Omar announced his presence that day to the record setting tune of 34 carries and 162 yards while paralyzing the James Madison defense as if they were looking down both barrels. In the remaining four games of the season (two of which were 1-AA playoff games), Omar had three 100 yard plus performances and scored a total of eight touchdowns.

The legend was born.

When Delaware Head Coach KC Keeler talks about Omar Cuff his eyes light up. After the 2005 season, the coach asked his already all-world running back to try and make himself a better receiver. The following off-season with the help of his mom (Can you say: Campbell's Soup commercial?), Omar went to work catching ball after ball after ball from his mom in the alley-way near his house. He caught balls until his hands hurt and more importantly until his hands improved.

He made himself into the complete package: A strong runner, a reliable receiver, and lock-down blocker which is imperative for any back in the Delaware spread offense, but unfortunately he did not get a much chance to show off his skills last year due to injury. Which made Thursday night even more compelling.

After stalling on their opening drive of the game against William and Mary, the Delaware offense would explode for seven consecutive touchdowns on their next seven possessions not counting a kneel down at the end of the first half. Seven touchdowns. All courtesy of Omar Cuff with a lot of help from what appears to be a very talented offensive line. It truly was an incredible performance.

The legend continues. Stay tuned...

Bill Komissaroff

Monday, August 13, 2007

High Hopes

This team is going to be better.

It was definitely a bit of a culture shock for me to be back in Delaware Stadium on Saturday for the scrimmage after being in Vietnam for about a month. From the streets and markets of Hanoi and Saigon and the beaches of Nha Trang and Hoi An back to the world of Rocket Screens, Belly Reads, and Cover 2s. I loved it!

I am not usually much a "practice" or "scrimmage" guy. I find that, more than any other sport, it is very difficult for me to evaluate what I see on a practice field or during a scrimmage and project what it might mean for a football team against real and live opponents.

That being said, the 2007 University of Delaware Football team will be better than last year's model. It has to be. Right?

This past Saturday's scrimmage was my first chance to see the team at all since the end of last season. (Unfortunately my schedule did not allow me to see any of the Spring practices or the Spring Game.)

It is still obviously very very early, but there seems to be a different aura surrounding the team now as opposed to this time last year. The first thing I noticed was that there were plenty of live bodies available to play on Saturday. That is certainly a good thing.

It is going to be fun to watch the relationships between Quarterback Joe Flacco and his various receivers develop. It looked to me that Wide Receiver Mark Mackey may have grown a few inches, and I have a feeling that Tight End Robbie Agnone will step up and fill the shoes of Ben Patrick without missing a beat.

On defense, I was disappointed that neither Defensive Ends Matt Marcorelle or Notre Dame transfer Ronald Talley participated, but was assured by Head Coach KC Keeler afterward that it was strictly precautionary and that both are fine.

I was told by a few who had been to previous practices that Talley looks like a real difference maker and combined with a healthy Marcorelle could make for an extremely deadly combination (for opposing QBs).

After the scrimmage I spoke to Safeties Charles Graves and Anthony Bratton both true sophomores who will be expected to take on much more responsibility this year after getting their feet wet last year. They both seem to understand the challenge ahead of them and more importantly seem to relish it.

Expectations are always high this time of year on South College Ave. After all this is Delaware Football. But coming off a losing season and combined 11-11 record with zero playoff games for the last two years, the hopes may even be a bit higher than usual .

Is that even possible?

Bill Komissaroff

Saturday, November 25, 2006

University of Delaware Football 2006

Please see the archives section to the right to review all postings that Tom Byrne and I wrote from last season.


Bill Komissaroff

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The SideByrne: Winding Down, Starting Up.

by Tom Byrne

Football season is winding down and basketball season is starting up. This week, I have thoughts on both.

We’ll start on the gridiron. Last week, I talked about a different vibe with the UD football program as they faced the same situation as last season, 4-5 with two left to play and needing wins over William & Mary and Villanova to avoid a losing season. I didn’t feel the same energy surrounded the team and there was a sense of playing for next season as much as this season. Well, that lack of energy was evident at the Tub Saturday, but not from the players. The announced crowd of 20,655 didn’t seem to bring much energy. It was a very different vibe standing on the sidelines last Saturday, not at all like the electric atmosphere of previous games, especially New Hampshire. So, hats off to the players for motivating themselves and delivering a win.

Certainly, the return of Omar Cuff had something to do with the victory. Not only did Cuff post 93 yards rushing and a TD and 2 catches for 17 yards, he also brought his trademark passion and intensity (and some nice blitz pick-ups). I was on the fence about bringing him back this season, risking further injury to his ankle. Cuff took me off the fence Saturday. After the game, he pointed out that it was good for him to get a chance to prove to himself that his ankle was fine and the work he put into rehab was paying off. I’m sure he and the rest of Blue Hen nation will feel better going into the off-season if Cuff can put up another good game Saturday against ‘Nova and come out healthy.

And speaking of Saturday’s game against Villanova, expect a good one. There’s no playoff berth or conference titles on the line for either team, but the fact that both are 5-5 should be enough to heat up this long-time rivalry. One team will walk off the field with a winning season and one will not. That should be enough to have both sides ready to go.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve dismissed DSU’s chances of making the playoffs for the first time in team history. I still feel they will miss out, even with a win at Howard and a 9-2 finish likely. The Hornets, now ranked #23 in the “Sports Network” top 25, still need help to get in. Other teams with 3 and even 4 losses could argue they more deserving based on their schedule and who they’ve beaten. Having said that, head coach Al Lavan and crew deserve a lot of credit for making post-season talk realistic in the final week. Last week, Del State lost its starting quarterback Vashon Winton to a broken ankle (his season is over) and didn’t miss a beat when little used senior back-up Kurt Elden stepped in. Elden, a transfer from Minnesota Tech, isn’t thrilled with the way he got on the field, but told me it is “kind of a fairy tale” that he gets to close his career playing in games that have so much meaning. It’s also great for the rest of senior class that went through so much turmoil before Al Lavan arrived.

Wesley College did secure its first undefeated regular season last Saturday with a win over Morrisville (NY). They also secured the top seed in the South region for the NCAA Division II playoffs and have a chance to play at home much of the Division III playoffs, if they keep winning. The big issue for Mike Drass and his staff this week is getting his team to take it up a notch after winning its final two in blow-out fashion against some lightweight competition. There are no pushovers like Chowan or Morrisville from here on out. Dickinson, Wesley’s first round opponent, is 8-2 and won its conference. The good news is the Centennial isn’t that strong and the Red Devils haven’t really seen anyone of the Wolverines’ caliber this season, with the possible exception of Hobart. Wesley should advance with relative ease Saturday, avenging their loss to Dickson in an ECAC Bowl game in Dover back in 1998. In that one, Wesley gave up 2 touchdowns in the final 7 minutes to lose. That won’t happen again against this edition of the Wesley “D”.

Some quick thoughts on the start of college basketball season locally.

Monte Ross didn’t win his first game against Marist Tuesday, and his team may not win many over the course of this season, but a corner has been turned. First, there was much more energy and intensity shown by the Hens in that opener than at almost anytime last season. Second, the initial Ross recruits seem different from players brought in by David Henderson. Henderson seemed to take chances on great athletes or guys with size, hoping to make them basketball players. The freshman Johnsons, Brian and Darrell, seem to have athleticism AND a good basketball IQ. That gives them a chance to help now and grow even better later. And third, it was nice in post-game interviews to hear the players say they didn’t get it done and the coach say he needs to do better. Everyone is apparently accountable for themselves under the Ross regime and that should help the team get through what will likely be a bumpy first season.

Tina Martin’s women’s squad at Delaware is definitely worth keeping an eye on this season. A win over Villanova at home Sunday and a narrow loss at Boston College Tuesday show this squad can compete at a high level. If they avoid injury, imagine how good they may be by the end of the season as they grow as a group.

At DSU, an odd start to the season. First, their opener against Division II Saint Paul’s was not going to count. Now, it does. It’s stuff like that, an inability to dot “i’s” and cross “t’s”, that often hurts DSU’s credibility as they try to build the program and the athletics at the school. Plus, they paid Saint Paul’s a 25 thousand dollar guarantee to come up for the game. I’m not sure that makes a whole lot of sense. Now, the Hornets are playing 14 in a row away from home, a run of games that started with a 67-50 loss at 4th ranked Pitt Tuesday. The big question for me is can this team retain Greg Jackson’s commitment to defense now that they’ve put together a roster that has some serious scoring punch, including MEAC “Player of the year” Jahsha Bluntt and Roy Bright. Pulling off an upset against an N.C. State, Marquette or Wisconsin during this tough run would certainly show this group is still buying into Jackson’s methods.

Finally, a thought on high school football. Glasgow High players really got the short end of it when the Dragons were forced to forfeit all of their wins and a trip to the playoffs when it was discovered the team had used an ineligible player. What a shame. As usual, the players, who had nothing to do with the violation, bare the brunt of the punishment. You see this in college sports too. When a coach commits a violation, he can leave and get another job with no restrictions, while the players are left to deal with the fall out (post-season bans, the loss of scholarships, etc). Players can transfer, but have to sit a year, or in football, sit a year or drop to a level. How is that fair? The Glasgow situation also feels pretty unfair. Glasgow players didn’t fail to keep the ineligible player off the field, yet they suffer serious consequences. DIAA executive director Kevin Charles says it’s the school’s responsibility to make sure players are eligible. True, but it’s not the players’ responsibility. In fairness to DIAA, it made the right call because this is punishment that is currently in place according to the rules. There was no choice. Is there another way? Maybe. Maybe not. But, it should be explored. High school athletes deserve at least that much those that police the games they play.
Tom Byrne is a Sports Anchor for WHYY-TV, Sports Director of WILM Newsradio, and Sideline Reporter on University of Delaware Football Broadcasts on The River 94.7