Beano Cook: Postponing Games was Right Decision

Syndicated columnist Beano Cook gives his take on college football following the attacks last week. Beano's column didn't arrive in time to make our print version, so we've put it on the Premium site, just for you!


In postponing or canceling games during the week of the national tragedy, football made the right decision.

When all the college administrations and conference officials started seeing the round-the-clock coverage, on local and network news, they realized they made the right choice. The ones that initially gave the go-ahead to play quickly, and appropriately, reversed field.

The fact that these events are on television, they come into your living room. That was my feeling in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. When I saw the funeral on Monday, I thought, "Thank God the games were postponed." At that time, we didn't get the immediate, continuous coverage networks provide today.

The one difference was Kennedy was killed on a Friday (Nov. 22). These senseless attacks took place on a Tuesday morning, which gave the powers that be more time to think about it. After immediately calling off Thursday night's ESPN games, some leagues thought it might be OK to play Saturday, then thought better off it.

I think the NFL decision, which was not made until Thursday following the attacks, forced the hands of the SEC and Big 12.

The reason those leagues didn't want to cancel is those games couldn't be made up without pushing the conference title games, scheduled Dec. 1, back even further. (At press time, conferences were considering moving their championship games to Dec. 8.)

The NCAA has no power over the decision of the conferences to play or not to play. The question is: Should they? The answer is very simple: They would never get the power to make decisions like that.

The NCAA is more of an administrative body than it is police, although its ability to put teams on probation for breaking rules, some minor, remains powerful.

The NFL, obviously, made the right decision. But the old-timers had to remember the criticism the league received for playing on Sunday, Nov. 24, 1963 -- two days after Kennedy's assassination.

It's ironic the NFL didn't start this year until the week after Labor Day weekend because of the desire for higher television ratings. If the NFL had played over Labor Day, the games cancelled on Sept. 16-17 could be made up more easily.

In most seasons, the Super Bowl is played two Sundays after the league championship games. Not this year. It's one week later.


In the UCLA at Alabama game, the Bruins were not penalized once. Alabama was penalized 15 times for 93 yards. Obviously, Bear Bryant is no longer coaching.

And the officials were from the Southeastern Conference. Apparently, these officials were born north of the Mason-Dixon line.

All interconference games should have officials from a neutral conference, just as all the bowl games do.


Any thought that Joe Paterno would quit after this year, even if the season turns out to be a disaster, remains ridiculous. In 2002, Penn State plays eight home games, including the first five of the year. Nebraska will come in to Beaver Stadium with a new quarterback.

The big drawback on Penn State's schedule next year remains the road games -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Indiana, where Penn State only won by a field goal last year.

If Paterno has a losing season this year and next, then he will retire. But regardless of his record, it is still his call. Paterno is from Brooklyn: Nobody pushes people from Brooklyn.

By the way, an AFC general manager, in evaluating material in the Big Ten, says Penn State is No. 8.


ABC is conducting a poll on the greatest college football coach of all time. Why waste time? The answer is Knute Rockne.

However, one name remains absent from the list posted on TV and the Internet: Frank Leahy of Notre Dame. He coached two seasons at Boston College and 11 at Notre Dame and had seven undefeated seasons.

If that statistic doesn't convince you, maybe this one will: In 1946 and 1947, Notre Dame was never behind once. The lone blemish was a 0-0 tie with unbeaten Army in '46.

But ND won two national titles.

Quick outs ...
*Unless he's injured Fresno State's David Carr will finish in the top five of the Heisman Trophy and if he keeps this up, he has an excellent chance to win it. (I'm not going to predict he'll win two). Years ago, a player from a school like Fresno State would have little chance. Of the first 22 Heisman Trophy winners, 18 were either from the East or Midwest. The first winner from the Pac-10 was Oregon State's Terry Baker in 1962. The other factor favoring Carr is cable television because people are going to see him in games and highlights. Years ago, there were no highlight shows. Cable TV helped Andre Ware, when Houston was on probation, win it in 1989.
*Even though Michigan lost to Washington, the Wolverines still have an excellent chance to win the Big Ten. Wisconsin remains Michigan's toughest remaining game, although they must be wary of Michigan State, which hates Michigan more than vice versa.
*Syracuse overscheduled itself when it took on the Kickoff Classic against Georgia Tech. That was unfair to Paul Pasqualoni. We know Syracuse dislikes Penn State grads, but this is going a little too far.
*It's amazing Lou Holtz saw his South Carolina team beat Georgia, but it was more amazing his team was favored on the road. There never has been any doubt that he's one of the best coaches in the country. Many in minds of other people but not mine.
*According to Fox, the average number of penalties in the first week of the NFL replacement officials was roughly eight per game, instead of the 15 per game the NFL officials averaged last year. The college officials don't call all the ticky-tack penalties. A typical NFL Sunday has more officials' conferences than the U.N. does in a decade.

Beano Cook's column will appear in Herd Insider this fall.

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