Emotions and Realities Following Dave Clawson’s Departure

12 Dec

By James Nahikian

I am a Dave Clawson fan, a bigger one than probably any student on campus. I have recorded his weekly press conferences for the past two seasons, I have seen him interact kindly with the media, I have heard what players have had to say about him, I have seen behind the scenes interactions on game day, and I have witnessed him completely turn around a program – all of these aspects have made Dave Clawson, in my mind, a tremendous coach. And therefor making it difficult to grasp that he is gone.

To state the obvious, Clawson’s departure to Wake Forest University has certainly tugged at my emotions. It’s not like I have cried or have gone into any form of depression. But I do have a lot to say, more so than I have on any newsworthy story in a very long time. Hence, I am posting this article on my blog that has been shut down for over a year.

First off, I am in no way mad or upset that coach Clawson has left. I completely understand the business and unfortunately for schools like Bowling Green, these things happen all the time. Turner Gill (Buffalo) left for Kansas following the Bulls 2009 Mid-American Conference championship; Dave Doeren (Northern Illinois) bolted for North Carolina State prior to the Huskies 2013 BCS bowl game, and both Jerry Kill (Northern Illinois) and Darrell Hazell (Kent State) have left within the last three years after taking their respective schools to the conference championship game. The goal for these coaches is to continue to move up the ranks, and a million-plus dollar contract is something that is almost impossible to turn down.

I previously stated that I was not mad at coach; the emotion that I am feeling, however, is sadness. The whole situation is sad on a variety of levels:

1. The Falcons just won the conference for the first time in 21 years. In doing so, BG knocked off a nationally ranked and undefeated team that was a win away from earning a BCS birth. The win was arguably the biggest victory in school history, and it was undoubtedly the biggest win in over two decades. The triumph occurred less than a week ago, it should still be fresh in fans’ minds. And it certainly still is, however, the majority of the talk amongst the fan base is about Clawson’s departure and who will take over in 2014. Clawson’s absence has greatly overshadowed a time that should be filled with 100-percent joy. This is a team that has won double-digit games for the first time in ten years, and will be participating in a bowl game against a conference that has a national championship game participant. It is sad that this season, for the time being, is taking a backseat.

2. No undergraduate student on this campus, including fifth-year seniors, has witnessed a game at BGSU (during their time as a student) with anyone other than Dave Clawson as head coach. After a 7-6 campaign led by a senior-heavy roster in 2009, BG finished the following season with a 2-10 record. Coach Clawson then built the program back up, winning five games in 2011, eight games in 2012 and now ten games this season. Under Clawson, BG witnessed its APR scores reach a program-high, this after inheriting a team that had lost scholarships due to poor grades. Fans witnessed Clawson rebuild the program in everyway and they had fallen into a habit of knowing that he was going to be here the following year. The fact that he is gone is sad.

3. The reality of being a fan in the Mid-American Conference has fully taken form. This is not a knock on the quality of football that is played in the MAC, nor is it a knock on the talent of players within the conference, let me make that clear. The program arguably reached an all-time high after Friday night’s championship victory. For a larger conference school, this would be an appropriate time for a coach to receive an extension or a raise. At the very least, it would earn a coach some leeway. In Clawson’s situation, however, it earned him a new job within three days. It is sad that BG hit an extreme high, and then its coach was essentially gone the next moment. Also, it is sad that we don’t have a fan base to keep special coaches like Clawson around. The majority of this campus would rather watch Ohio State on Saturdays (which is a sad reality in itself), and it is unfortunate that we don’t have the number of loyal supporters that power-conference schools have. I live and breathe BG football. I could get into how basically all of my free time is spent in activities related to the team, but it would be embarrassing. The point is, there are not an overwhelming number of people on this campus that share my intense passion. Therefor, BG does not sell out many games and we don’t have the budget to offer coaches a large salary. This is true for every MAC school, and it has turned the conference into simply a “stopping point” for successful coaches.

4. Lastly, it is quite an eerie feeling amongst the program not knowing who the coach of 2014 will be. We have been on this same path now for what seems like a long time, and it is weird that fans do not know what is next. Offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero and defensive coordinator Mike Elko will also be gone next year, as will (presumably) a number of other assistants and staff members. Fans have been treated to such an amazing brand of football, specifically over the past two seasons, and it is sad that this era of Falcon football has to end. That is not to say that the next era won’t be even better, but it is safe to say that no one wants to see this coaching staff leave.

Overall, this entire process thus far has been interesting, but also tough. It is exciting that something new awaits us, but it is sad to see such a great coach leave. Watching Clawson’s introductory press conference was extremely odd, too. I’m jealous of Wake Forest fans because I know that they are getting a fantastic program leader. And it was weird that words such as “us” and “we” referred to Wake Forest and not Bowling Green.

I will conclude these thoughts by saying that I am 100-percent confident in the program. I know that we will find a great coach. Personally, I believe that athletic director Chris Kingston is something special himself and I am confident that he will make a solid hire. Bowling Green is on a completely different level than it was five years ago, and there is no doubt that this job is a good one for prospective coaches. The talent and depth within the program is also at an all-time high; this alone excites and assures me that the Falcons will be contenders yet again in 2014.

Dave Clawson ended a 21-year conference championship drought. And for that, he will forever be etched into Bowling Green State University history.


Does BGSU Football Deserve National Ranking?

21 Oct

The Bowling Green State University Football team has won four straight games. If they win out, and that is a big if, they deserve to be nationally ranked heading into the Bowl Season.

Why is that?

Their only losses will be to No. 2 ranked Florida, a team that they actually outplayed. Multiple missed field goals (Both chip shots) and a timely turnover was the only thing that prevented a BG win. If you watched that game, Bowling Green outplayed the Gators. Even Florida fans would admit to that. Florida has looked unbeatable ever since and just destroyed a top 10 team.

BG also lost to Toledo, who just knocked off No. 21 Cincinnati and will probably be ranked next week, if not soon. Their only loss was to Arizona in week one in OT. BG’s final loss was to Virginia Tech. A team that is one game behind from leading their ACC division and having a chance to win their conference and head to a BCS bowl game.

Not to mention, all of these games were on the road and in the first month of the season. A lot of nationally ranked teams (Two in the top 10 have already loss to Florida) have and will continue to lose to those three teams.

If Bowling Green wins out, they will have the big wins to justify that ranking. They will have beaten Ohio on the road, a team that is currently undefeated and nationally ranked and they will have beaten Northern Illinois or Toledo in the MAC title game. Northern Illinois or Toledo, whoever makes it, will also be nationally ranked.

That would leave BG with a 10-3 record, a MAC East Championship, a MAC title championship and multiple top 25 wins. With their only losses coming during the opening month of the season against a team that is going to have double digit wins and two other teams that are probably going to the BCS, with one of those teams possibly going to the National Championship.

I am not saying they will win out. It will be very difficult. But if they do, the above resume will be extremely impressive. Bowling Green has an unbelievable defense (Ranked No. 1 in the MAC) and they will keep them in every game.

The MAC is actually a great conference this year which will help too. The conference has wins over Penn State (Big Ten), Kansas (Big 12), Cincinnati (Big East), South Florida (Big East), Indiana (Big Ten), Connecticut (Big East) and Iowa (Big Ten).

Needless to say, If Bowling Green wins the rest of their games, they should and will be nationally ranked.

Falcons Are Still In Contention

16 Sep

It was pretty painful to watch the game Saturday at UT. It was even more painful to watch the post game interview of Chris Jones. I was at the weekly press conference Wednesday, and Jones said that the last two losses to Toledo were “Heartbreaking.”

You could clearly tell that the senior was indeed devastated following the game and it hurt to watch. Jones had two sacks and forced a fumble in the loss.

Bowling Green now travels to Virginia Tech this Saturday to face the nationally ranked Hookies. It should be a very tough game, but I don’t really care if we win. We just need to get out of there healthy. Yes, it would be a huge win for the program if we could get it, but the bigger picture is MAC play.

The Falcons need to somehow salvage a kicking game or I think it will be impossible to compete. Not only does it hurt to miss out on points, its even more deflating to put together great drives and come up empty handed. I think it effects the team for the rest of the game.

With that being said, things get easier. These first 4 games were extremely difficult. Florida, Virginia Tech and Toledo on the road in the first month of the season would be a very tough schedule for any team in the country. Toledo took nationally ranked Arizona to OT in week one and Florida and Virginia Tech speak for themselves.

Every game in the MAC is huge from here on out. I expect Ohio to win out so BG is going to have to do the same. We have 7 games left in the MAC, none of them will be easy. However, we will probably be favored in 5 of them if not 6. The Miami game is huge. Whoever wins that will more than likely set themselves up for Ohio. With the winner of that game, advancing to the MAC title game.

That is just my take. I think BG, Ohio and Miami could certainly lose to teams other than themselves. Which would shake things up in the East. It will be very interesting to see how things shake out over the next month and throughout the season.

And although BG’s loss to Toledo stung, the team still has a shot at winning the division and advancing to Detroit.

I also think Toledo will win the West. Which means that there could potentially be an EPIC rematch for all of the marbles. I really hope that happens.

Nevertheless, Bowling Green is still alive and in contention. Its still very early. Most teams around the country haven’t even started conference play.

Are The Ohio Bobcats The Boise State of The Midwest?

13 Sep

Let me start by first acknowledging the facts. The Ohio University Athletic Program is fantastic. The football team won 10 games last season and won their first ever bowl game, the basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament last year and nearly beat North Carolina to advance to the Elite 8. The football team continues to upgrade their brand by adding new jerseys, helmets, ect. And yes, in week 1 of the football season they knocked of Penn State of the Big 10. All great accomplishments for any school, let alone a MAC school.

However, some of the things in the media and around their program bother me. It started last year when they were making their run in the NCAA’s. Their Athletic Director was quoted in talking about how it bothers him that the school is still referred to as, “Ohio University” and not simply, “Ohio.” He even compared the idea to how the University of Arkansas is known as just “Arkansas” and the University of Indiana is known as just “Indiana.”

Lets get right to the point on this one, Ohio University is not Arkansas of the SEC or Indiana, arguably the best program in college basketball. I get what he is trying to say, but you are the Athletic Director of a MAC school. No one, outside of your own campus, will ever refer to you as just, “Ohio.” Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand people’s arrogance about this conference. No one thinks this conference is worth anything, and it bothers me just as much as the next guy. But its reality, and by no means is Ohio University that much ahead, in the grand scheme of things, than any other MAC school.

The next thing that bothers me is a more recent topic. The Bobcat’s QB, Tyler Tettleton said that his school is sort of becoming the Boise State of the Midwest. I don’t remember his exact words nor do I care to look them up, but they were almost exactly that. Ohio won their FIRST ever bowl game last season, and they didn’t even win the MAC. So first things first, win your own conference every single year and then win a BCS bowl game, before you can even consider talking about how your school is even in the same breath as Boise State.

Yes, Ohio had a nice win against Penn State in week 1 that got a lot of recognition. And rightfully so. They were not supposed to win that game. No MAC school is supposed to win a game against the Big 10. But lets not kid ourselves here. The Penn State football team is probably THE biggest named school right now, out of any sport, that is struggling the most (For obvious reasons). Their best player transferred to USC, various other big time players transferred to other schools, they lost a ton of scholarships, they can’t play in a bowl game for years to come, they lost the face of their program, they can’t even make an extra point anymore, and technically, they have not won a game since 1997. The program is a complete mess. I am convinced that multiple teams in MAC could beat Penn State this year, and I think a lot of coaches around the league would agree with that. Penn State will be lucky to win 5 games this year.

Next, is the schedule that Ohio has this year. It is by far the easiest schedule in the conference. Their other non-conference games are Norfolk State (Who?), New Mexico State and Marshall. They avoid the two best MAC teams this year in not playing Northern Illinois (MAC Champions) and Toledo. Their hardest game within the conference is a HOME game against BGSU. Not being bias there either, it will be their lowest spread for the rest of the year. Ohio is probably going to be ranked too, as they keep getting more AP votes each week and they aren’t going to lose anytime soon.

So I will take my school for example. If BGSU and Ohio switched schedules this year, things would be much different. Ohio would not have won in the Swamp, they would not have won at Virginia Tech and they would probably would lose to either BGSU or Toledo (Both would be on the road), if not both.

This article isn’t intended to be negative or to shoot down the great success that the Bobcats have had. This article is simply pointing out the facts of the situation that are covered up because Ohio plays out of the MAC, and no one expects a team from the MAC to have any success, let alone the type of success that Ohio has had.

Also, I am mainly talking about the football team here. Ohio has a great basketball program. They would compete and beat many of the big time programs as they showed last year.

But the same cannot be said about the football team. The schedule has MUCH to do with the team’s success, which is not all of their fault. When they scheduled the game to play Penn State, there was no way in knowing that they would be playing against the biggest mess in college football. They probably thought that they would be going against a ranked powerhouse.

Nevertheless, Ohio University will never be a Boise State and in my opinion, they will never even be a real football power within the conference. Call me crazy, but the Bobcats are not going to win the MAC this year, even though they have gotten all of the attention.


BG-UT is The Best Non-BCS Rivalry in College Football

11 Sep

I have heard both schools talk about how this rivalry is the best Non-BCS rivalry in College Football. I have always believed them (Mainly because I go to BGSU and want to believe that this rivalry is huge), but it wasn’t until I did some research until I actually realized that it now is the best.

I read an article on ESPN that ranked the top 5 Non-BCS Rivalries (As of 2008), and BG-UT was ranked No.4 on that list. The rivalries ahead of it?

1. BYU vs. Utah (The Holy War) – No longer can be considered Non-BCS because Utah has joined the PAC-12

2. Boise State vs. Fresno (Battle for the Milk Can) – This was when both teams played in the WAC, and now both teams play in the Mountain West. So, technically it is still Non-BCS, but Boise State will be in the Big East next year and are rumored to be moving to the Big 12 after that.

3. Then comes the only Non-BCS Rivalry that will remain right along with BG-UT, Army vs. Navy. This is without a doubt a great contest, however I still think BG-UT is ahead of it. First off, its not really a rivalry is it? How can it be? These two forces work together to protect our country, so how can they “hate” each other? I get why its on the list and it is without a doubt a huge game that both programs and college football fans everywhere look forward to seeing at the end of the season, but I don’t really consider it a rivalry. It can’t be unless both schools literally hate each other, and I don’t see how that is possible in this situation. Maybe the teams do for that day, and I know I am not involved with it first hand, it is just my opinion.

4. BG-UT was No.4 on the list as mentioned.

5. Middle Tennessee State vs. Troy (Battle of the Palladium) I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know that this rivalry existed before I read the article. In 2008, the schools had only played each other seven times, so I’m a little confused by this and don’t even care to look up the tradition behind it. Nevertheless, it is clear to me that the BG-UT rivalry is miles ahead of this one.

The article also mentioned a few others outside of this list:

– Boise State vs. Idaho (Battle of Idaho) – The two teams have stopped playing each other since Boise State moved out of the WAC. And I believe that for a rivalry to exist, both teams have to be competitive, which isn’t the case here. The series was competitive at some point, but as the series ended, Boise was just destroying Idaho every single year.

– Houston vs. Rice (The Bayou Bucket), Memphis vs. Southern Miss (Black and Blue Bowl), Akron vs. Kent State (Wagon Wheel). I do not know much about these, but they do make sense. According to ESPN they aren’t nearly as bitter as BG-UT and I would tend to agree.

All and all, after all of this conference realignment, it actually is pretty cool that the BG-UT rivalry really is one of the best, if not the best, Non-BCS Rivalries in College Football.

In my opinion, it is without a doubt the best. The only one that compares to it is the Army/Navy game, but as I mentioned before, I can’t really call that series a rivalry. If you go to BGSU or Toledo, you know how much hatred there is between the two schools. I don’t have the time to get into all of it, but it is certainly there and I am sure that I will get into all of  it some other time.

For now, I am very excited to be apart of my first BG-UT Football game this Saturday. Me and my Dad will be traveling to that place they call the “Glass Bowl.” Which I think is just the dumbest name possible. It all goes back to all of the UT arrogance. They name their stadium like its some nationally recognized facility that hosts bowl games annually. Their basketball arena is also called “Savage Arena,” which I am extremely baffled as to why they would allow for that to be its name, but thats for another day. They also are charging outsiders 34 dollars a ticket (Their season ticket page is $59) for this game and they only gave our band 170 seats (We have over 300 members).

Sorry for the rant, that just gives you an idea of a little but of the hate that is going into it this year’s game. The game is at 7PM and it should be packed and loud.


Recap of Idaho, Preview for Toledo

9 Sep

The student section was amazing and pictures can be seen on BGSUFalcons.com – I am going to copy and paste the story from the athletic website below that I actually helped write.

Long story short, our defense is pretty darn good. We only allowed 6 rushing yards and we made a few huge stops deep in our territory to force field goal attempts. We did allow a bunch of passing yards however, and it appears that our pass defense may need work. Florida really didn’t have a quarterback that could pass with any sort of consistency. Hopefully this improves, but I’m okay with the effort that our defense has displayed thus far. They seem to tighten up in the red zone and get the job done. If Florida didn’t have so many electric players, we probably would have won that game. And outside of Virginia Tech, we won’t face those type of athletes for the remainder of the season.

It was also nice to see our defense CREATE some huge turnovers that actually meant something. The interception by Pettus resulted in a BG touchdown, and the forced fumble by Paul Swan basically clinched the game for us.

Our offense was effective but penalties killed us. However, the wide receiver concerns seem to be answered, as I predicted. We have so much talent at this position, even if most of the guys were inexperienced heading into the year. Joplin was a beast last night, Stokes had a huge touchdown and seems to be in impact player, and Chris Gallon is going to be one of the best in program history. This dude is 6-4 and has some of the best hands that I have seen at the collegiate level. He reminds me a lot of Calvin Johnson (I am not calling him the best reciever on the planet), in the sense of he goes up and catches the ball at its highest point.

Going back to the defense, Chris Jones is indeed worth all of the hype. He caused problems the entire night and is well worth the NFL draft pick that he will soon become.

Heading into a HUGE game against Toledo next week, we do need to correct some things. We need to limit the offensive penalties, be more smooth on offensive (Which relates back to the penalties), and try to disrupt the two good quarterbacks that we will see next week. We can’t keep relying on defensive stands when we are backed up to our goal line, we need more three and outs and we need to force more incomplete passes.

With that being said, I still like our chances against Toledo. Clawson is going to use last year’s lost to these guys and last week’s sloppy performance as motivation. This game is huge, its probably the difference between a 1-3 start and a 3-2 start. The schedule gets easier after this month, but we need this win badly for a variety of reasons. And loosing three games in a row to that school would just be absolutely brutal on every level.

If we limit the penalties, I think we can put up points and I think our defense can keep up us in the game for 4 quarters.

Here is the recap of the Idaho game that can be found on BGSUFalcons.com

Bowling Green, Ohio – In front of a crowd of 16,591, Anthon Samuel scored two touchdowns and the Bowling Green defense held Idaho to six yards rushing in a 21-13 victory Saturday night at Doyt Perry Stadium.

The Bowling Green offense got started on their second drive of the game when Matt Schilz found  junior Shaun Joplin, who finished the game with seven receptions for 117 yards, for 42 yards deep in Idaho territory. The catch was the longest of Joplin’s career. Later on, Travis Greene took an end-around for ten yards to set up Anthon Samuel’s four-yard touchdown rush. The drive lasted 2:07 and covered 67 yards on just five plays.

Bowling Green’s offense then went quiet in the second quarter and the defense took over. Idaho went on a nice 11-play, 77-yard drive that lasted 6:03, but was forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal after defensive tackle Chris Jones sacked Idaho quarterback Dominique Blackman on third down.

The defense held its own again after a fumble gave Idaho a short field to work with. The Vandals threatened to score their first touchdown of the game, but were denied when Ryland Ward broke up a Blackman pass on third down. Trey Farquhar then connected on his second field goal of the game from 22 yards and Bowling Green headed to the locker room with a 7-6 halftime lead.

After Idaho went on a long drive to start the second half, Trey Farquhar pushed his 36-yard field goal attempt wide left and the Falcons kept their one-point lead.

On the ensuing possession, three big plays highlighted the Bowling Green touchdown drive. Quarterback Matt Schilz, who completed 24 of his 35 passing attempts for 283 yards, hooked up with freshman Chris Gallon for 37 yards. Gallon had a huge game in his first outing at the Doyt, as he hauled in six catches for 89 yards.

Schilz then kept the drive alive on third down when he rushed for 12 yards. On third and four, Samuel took a carry and went 29 yards for his second touchdown of the game to give the Falcons a 14-6 lead.

After Josh Pettus picked up his first career interception on a ball that was tipped three times by a pair of Falcons, Je`Ron Stokes caught his only pass of the game when Schilz found the transfer from Michigan up the middle. Stokes eluded a couple of would-be tacklers and finished off the 15-yard reception to give the Falcons a 21-6 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

Bowling Green tried to put the game out of reach before Schilz threw his only interception of the night. Idaho’s Solomon Dixon cut in front of a pass intended for John Pettigrew, and traveled four yards before stumbling down on his own 22-yard line. The Vandals proceeded to go on a seven-play touchdown drive that covered 78 yards in 2:15. Blackman (30-37 for 352 yards), who was playing in his first Division I game, finished off the drive with a 16-yard toss in the corner of the end zone to wide receiver Marquan Major to cut the deficit to eight at 21-13.

After Bowling Green stalled on its next drive, Idaho had one more chance to send the game to overtime. After a completed pass, BGSU captain Paul Swan chased down an Idaho ball carrier and forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive back Aaron Foster on the Idaho 33-yard line. After a key first down run by Pettigrew, the Falcons ran out the clock and secured the 21-13 victory.

Idaho falls to 0-2 on the season. The Falcons improve to 1-1 and will open MAC play on the road next week against their rival Toledo for the Battle Of I-75. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.


6 Sep

So the home opener is this Saturday at the Doyt. It is pretty exciting for a variety of reasons:

1. Its a night game, which always seems to make the experience more epic.

2. I will be watching the game in the press box and get to do some other cool stuff (Free Dinner).

3. We should be able to win.

4. We looked great last week against a top 25 program, so it will be fun to watch the team at home.

5. It should be PACKED! Reports from the ticket office are indicating that they are receiving a bunch of calls and expect it to be a loud crowed. Traditionally, the home opener here is sold out.

I expect us to win by a few touchdowns. Idaho lost to an FCS school last week (Eastern Washington), but they were without their 6-5, 250+ pound quarterback. They are very high on this dude and at his weekly press conference, Coach Clawson indicated that Eastern Washington is a very good team. He said that they won the national championship a few years back and that they almost beat Washington on the road recently.

Many people are calling this game a “trap game.” Due to the fact that the team is probably excited that they competed very hard against a premier program. The media is “expecting” the team to take Idaho lightly because they are certainly no Florida, and they lost to an “inferior team.” It is also a trap game because the team may be looking forward to huge game next week. Next week BGSU takes on their bitter rival (Who will go unnamed) in the MAC Conference opener for both teams.

Personally, I am not buying any of this trap game talk. And either is the team. Tight end Alex Bayer said that the team is only guaranteed 12 games and that they will be excited for all of them. Captain Paul Swan also indicated that the team is very fired up for this game.

The fact is, its the home opener and the team will be playing in front of a packed crowed. They will be excited and ready to go and I fully expect them to win. They are the better team and they will play like it.

Also, Coach Clawson was one of the better FCS coaches out there. He helped rebuild a few FCS programs and he knows how good an FCS school can be. He even stayed around after his Wednesday press conference to inform the media of this knowledge. Not that Idaho is an FCS team, but they lost to an FCS team. Long story short, Coach knows what the team is up against Saturday. And his team knows. BGSU will come ready to play and they will win.

SIDE NOTE: Coach Clawson is a great guy and we are extremely lucky to have him here. He runs a clean program and he does everything the right way. He treats everyone with respect, and I mean everyone. He even went out of his way to talk to my buddy and I. He is also so professional and represents BGSU tremendously. I hope he never leaves. He has the reputation as a “program builder” and he has certainly rebuilt this program. BG is on the rise and will compete in the MAC and compete nationally for a very long time. The upcoming years could very well be the “Golden Age” for this football program.