Sunday, August 30, 2015

You'll Get A Kick Out Of This

High school senior and Dartmouth commit Davis Brief of Warwick, N.Y., has been ranked, "the top combo prospect in the northeast for the class of 2016 and one of the top specialists nationally for his class," according to Special Teams Solutions. Find his STS bio HERE and the Sept. 1 punter rankings that have him first HERE.
Speaking of special teams standouts, Pete and Charlie Gogolak, who pioneered soccer-style kicking and forever changed kicking in the 1960s, are this year's co-recipients of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award. Pete kicked at Cornell and Charlie at Princeton. Find a story HERE.

Here's what you may not know.

A third brother, John Gogolak, kicked at Dartmouth, where he was a classmate of Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens '79. Unfortunately for John, there was a fellow by the name of Nick Lowery '78 ahead of him and he never lettered for the Big Green.

If you have the patience to scroll around on the page, you can read an interesting AP story about the Gogolaks and see a picture of 8-year-old John kicking a ball on a Google News page from the March 20, 1966 Reading Eagle HERE.
The Tennesseean has a thorough story about the STRIVR virtual reality system being used at Vanderbilt, Dartmouth and a handful of other colleges as well as several NFL teams. Derek Mason, the Vandy coach who knew STRIVR founder Derek Belch when he coached at Stanford, offered a thought that really gets to the heart of what STRIVR does. He said:
It’s one thing to see it on film from a bird’s eye view. But to watch it live inside the play, they can see what their techniques were and if their alignments were correct and see the pace of the play ...
Having worn the headset, I think Mason used the perfect word. It does put you inside the play.

Something from the story I did not know even with all the reading I've done about the system. STRIVR stands for :
Sports Training in Virtual Reality
Speaking of high-tech equipment being used by Dartmouth football, a friend shared an SBNation commentary (?) on the MVP motorized tackling dummy that appears under the headline:
Dartmouth's invincible football robot is good but probably capable of evil
I'm back out at practice this morning. Check in with BGA Premium tonight for coverage of the first day in full pads. And once more, with feeling ;-) . . .

If you chose the option of receiving up to three Alerts on publication of the latest Premium update and haven't sent along addresses, click the link below and type them in, one to a line. I'll add them to the list. Thanks!

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Saturday, August 29, 2015


Dartmouth's freshmen show their, uh, moves in this quick video I pulled together:

The players will be back on the field this morning at 8:30 and as always thee will be a story on BGA Premium later in the day. It should be an interesting one if I can catch up to the player I hope to write about.
Freshman defensive tackle Jackson Perry played his high school football at national powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas. Here's the Gorman hype video:

2015 Bishop Gorman Hype Video from Bishop Gorman on Vimeo.
The first televised college football game of the season will be on ESPN today at 3:30 when North Dakota State and Montana meet up in a showdown of FCS powerhouses.

The FBS season kicks off Thursday night with eight televised games. The North Carolina-South Carolina game is one that should be fun watching.
A reminder that if you signed up to receive up to three email Alerts moments after each day's BGA Premium posting goes up I'm building that list. Please send along the addresses that should get the Alerts, one on each line of an email. Click here to send Alert addresses.
And finally, a huge thank you to readers who have been in touch since I decided to keep this site available to everyone. (LINK)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dartmouth's Smart Dummy On NPR

Check out the story and video HERE.

No. 2 Is No. 1

With the start of the preseason the Dartmouth football office has released its No. 1 play of the 2014 season video and it's a terrific choice.

The top highlight is Ryan McManus' 60-yard punt return for a touchdown at the Yale Bowl last year. Not only was it the only Ivy League punt return for a touchdown a year ago, but Ryan was escorted the last few yards by his brother, Danny, and their high school teammate at St. Thomas Academy, Paddy Clancy. It was one of two touchdowns McManus scored (the other came on a 30-yard pass) in the Big Green's 38-31 victory.

A case can be made that McManus' return changed the complexion of a game to that to that point had been almost all in Yale's favor. Enjoy!

The 2015 Ivy League football media guide is now available HERE. While you won't find much information on current players in the league it's a wealth of statistical history of the Ivy League.
WMUR TV has a short report on Dartmouth's robotic tackling dummy that features a few comments from former defensive tackle Elliot Kastner, the engineering graduate and one of the creators of the MVP. Here's the report:

In addition to the dozens and dozens of local papers that have picked up the Associated Press story on the MVP, it also has appeared in the New York Times and Washington Post.
BGA Premium had a look at a key position change last night and will consider a novel aspect of preseason practice at Dartmouth tonight.
And finally, I'm working on rebuilding the email alert list for those of you who selected the BGA option that includes up to three alerts to go out as soon as each day's story is posted. Some of you have sent along handwritten addresses that, to be honest, can be a little hard to decipher. Some have included addresses in notes embedded in PayPal that are way too easy to miss. Some emailed addresses a while back that I managed to overlook . . . and that's on me. And some have appeared to choose the alert option and haven't shared any addresses.

What I'm hoping you will do to make building the list easier it to send the addresses along again by clicking on the link below and typing them in, one to a line. That will allow me to cut and paste them into one file. Thanks!

One more thing. Please make sure all three people who you include actually want an email from me every day from now until Thanksgiving. I always hear from a few who very nicely ask me to stop filling their in box ;-)

The alerts will start going out tonight.

Click here to send Alert addresses.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pay Attention

When it comes to predictions, this is the one that deserves a little extra attention.

The STATS FCS page used to be part of The Sports Network where it was edited and largely written by Craig Haley. As a former beat writer covering Princeton, Craig knows the Ivy League and has good contacts around the league and the East. When he writes about the Ivies he knows what he's talking about.

STATS has been posting its conference roundups/predictions and now it's the Ivy League's turn. The headline on its Ivy story: Ivy Preview: Dartmouth sets sights on Harvard in title race.

Haley points out that Dartmouth once had an overwhelming lead over the rest of the Ivies in terms of championships won. He notes that with Penn having won nine titles and Harvard eight since the last time the Big Green won it all (1996) the honor of having the most championships is up for grabs. Dartmouth has won 17 titles while Harvard and Penn have won 16 apiece.

So who does Haley have winning it all this  year? After writing, "This year's race figures to go to the end again," he posts his prediction:
1. Harvard2. Dartmouth3. Yale4. Brown 5. Princeton6. Penn7. Cornell8. Columbia

Find the full report HERE.

The NBC affiliate in Burlington, Vt./Plattsburgh, N.Y., reports on Dartmouth's MVP in a video report you can watch HERE.
The MVP is showing up everywhere. Venerable US News & World Report picked up the AP story HERE and has it HERE.
A quick bit from last night's BGA Premium:
Joining the Dartmouth coaching staff this fall are three quality control assistants. Former Westfield State standout running back Don Jones will work on the offensive side, former Arkansas Razorback safety Matt Hewitt will be on the defensive side and Danny O’Dea, a former head coach at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, will be quality control for special teams.
Also new to the program is Joe Gilfedder, a former Springfield College graduate assistant who will help Spencer Brown with football strength and conditioning.
Coaches are always looking for different ways of livening up the preseason when practice starts to drag. At Holy Cross, former Dartmouth assistant Steve Cully took part in a WWE-type wrestling match. Check out the story and video at this LINK:

Click HERE to watch the video.
Speaking of former Dartmouth assistants . . .

Don Farnham, who coached at Dartmouth in the late 1980s and went on to spend 13 years as the head coach at Maine's Brewer High School, has joined the staff at Division III Husson in Maine. (LINK)
Rolling Stone has a lengthy look at Super Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson that includes this:
Harrison Wilson III, a Dartmouth football star and a UVA law graduate, is central to his son's creation myth. Harrison waited until after law school to try out for the San Diego Chargers and still almost made the team. He played catch with his son on mornings before school and made it to nearly every one of his games. "Harrison Wilson could do no wrong" has always been the narrative. His son's image is just as carefully burnished, with only a hint of imperfection . . . 
Find the full story HERE.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

AP Chimes In On MVP

And here's a video I put together . . .

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect? Dartmouth certainly hopes so as it kicks off practice this morning on Memorial Field. Check BGA Premium tonight for full coverage as the Big Green begins the chase for its 18th Ivy League title.
Several days ago I bought the online version of the venerable Phil Steele FCS magazine, which predicts the Ivy League to finish this way:

1. Harvard
2. Dartmouth
3. Yale
4. Brown
5. Princeton
6. Cornell
7. Columbia
8. Penn

Nothing unusual near the top but picking Cornell sixth and Penn eighth is going out on a limb ;-)

Dartmouth has 13 players chosen on Steele's first and second teams, the most of any Ivy:

First Team Offense
Dalyn Williams, quarterback
Ryan McManus, wide receiver
Jacob Flores, offensive line

First Team Defense
AJ Zuttah, defensive line
Cody Fulleton, defensive line
Will McNamara, linebacker
Vernon Harris, corner

Second Team Offense
Kyle Bramble, running back
Victor Williams, wide receiver

Second Team Defense
Zach Slafsky, linebacker
Troy Donahue, defensive back

Second Team Specialists
Alex Gakenheimer, placekicker
Ben Kepley, punter

Dalyn Williams is the projected Ivy League offensive player of the year and AJ Zuttah is the projected defensive player of the year.

Steele's 220-page FCS College Football Preview is not available in print but can be purchased for online reading HERE.
The publication Dartmouth Now writes about the STRIVR virtual reality program the Big Green is using as well as the mobile tackling device. (LINK) The story begins this way:
Dartmouth football heads into the fall with the highest preseason Ivy League ranking in 18 years and an arsenal of high-tech tools that Big Green head coach Buddy Teevens ’79 expects will reduce injuries and give all his players virtually unlimited practice time on the field.
The Times of Northwest Indiana has a piece about safety issues in football and it has a bit about Dartmouth's motorized tackling dummy, which will make its public debut this morning. From the piece (LINK):
Speaking of concussion, leave it to the Ivy League, which was part of the very first college football game, to help save the sport’s future. Tomorrow, Dartmouth College will unveil the MVP, short for “Mobile Virtual Player,” at an on-field news conference.
And . . .
Tackling drills are a necessary part of football but ball carriers and receivers subject to repeated hits in practice risk injury. An immobile tackling dummy is much safer but a poor simulation. The MVP looks like a far more promising alternative in a demonstration video. Designed at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, it will be offered for sale “in the near future.”
Without something like the MVP, football faces hit limits for high school players, somewhat akin to the pitch limits in youth baseball. Data from multiple studies indicate an excessive number of sub-concussive hits in a season are a greater worry than individual concussions. 
Speaking of technology and football, that other Times, the Times of New York ;-) has a piece about how TV has planted GPS trackers in NFL shoulder pads and how it will use that to track all kinds of data on player movement. (LINK)
And finally, a story.

When I lived at home and long after, my mother did income tax returns as sort of a side business. To be truthful, while she did a healthy number of returns – people would come by five or six nights a week as April 15 approached – it is probably a misnomer to call it a business because she didn't charge anywhere near the going rate for the work she did.

People would come by once a year and sit down at the kitchen table. Within seconds a cup of coffee would appear in front of them and they'd have a cat purring on their lap. After a half hour or an hour or more of catching up on what happened in their lives over the past year, people would pull out their records, their check stubs, their receipts and all the rest. My mother would pile it all in a manila folder with a thick rubber band around it. She'd ask a few questions and answer a few questions, the cat would be gently placed on the floor and the visitor would eventually be on his or her way.

A few weeks later the folks would come by to pick up their taxes and we probably wouldn't see them for another year but they'd come back year after year after  year.

I once asked my mother why she didn't charge more for what she did because, and this isn't bragging, she was very good at it. She told me that over the years people became friends, she enjoyed having them come by, and well, most of the returns were for working class people and she was making enough money for her trouble.

BGA readers don't often come by Moose Mountain (except if we host a hike). I don't have a cat, I don't drink coffee and you sure wouldn't want me to do your tax return.

But you've become friends. When I go to the post office to pick up the mail and find an envelope from a subscriber it's a good thing because we still have a kid in college and bills to pay. But truth be told, what I most enjoy is the little notes that are in so many of the envelopes. This is a seven-day slog from mid-August until Thanksgiving and it really helps to know that you understand and appreciate how much of myself I pour into this.

This site? Yeah, it's back and it's still free but make no mistake about it, this is a slog as well. I have been encouraged for years to put it on the premium site and was sorely tempted a couple of weeks back. I'd spent a lot of time pulling up some really good stuff and posting it and found myself wondering why I bother. I mentioned that donate button up there and it has been clicked two times in the past year.

Then I got a letter from a former football parent and it said this:
"Hi Bruce. I was reading tonight on your difficult decision to charge blog readers and sense I was falling into that category."
The sentence or two that followed meant more to me than the check he sent along. He'll have premium access for the next year and in a large part you can thank him and another former parent for this site staying where it is.

I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


It was a pleasure meeting parents and freshmen last night. The next four years should be a lot of fun ;-)

A couple of questions I've been asked heading into the season:

1) Will you be having a pregame hike this year?

2) Will you bring the mobile BGA office to practice?

The answer to the first is I'm thinking about two hikes. The first, a very, very moderate hike just outside of town. It might be good for the morning before any game. It's maybe 15 minutes each way with a surprisingly nice view.

The second hike would be up the Appalachian Trail here on Moose Mountain. That one is more strenuous and could take three hours round trip. That would be best for the 3 p.m. Columbia game on Oct. 24. Or maybe the Cornell game on Nov. 7 if it's not too cold by then. We'd wrap it up with light refreshments here at BGA headquarters ;-)

Here are a couple of pictures to whet your appetite. (These have been on this site before but I thought I'd toss 'em up again for new folks.) Click the pix to enlarge them.

This is the view west  from across the road here at the Moose Mountain world headquarters of BGA ;-)
This is the view from atop Moose Mountain looking to the east.
And here's the mobile BGA headquarters, which will be making an appearance at a few practices before being put up for the winter.
It's a 1984 VW Westfalia Vanagon with fridge, stove, sink and desk. It sleeps two in the loft and two on the "first floor." No, it's not for sale and never will be. (Our kids would disown us if we sold it!)
In addition to the little bit of background I gave you last night on BGA, you can visit my freelance writing website to poke around and learn more about who I am and what I do when I'm not doing BGA, which is a full-time job for four months of the year. There's even a corny bio. To check out that site click HERE.
The Sacred Heart preview was posted last night on BGA Premium. The Central Connecticut preview goes up tonight, closing out the preview series. Tomorrow the daily practice reports will start.
OK, this is something I've been thinking about with Dartmouth having legitimate title hopes this fall.

There are eight Ivy League schools. That means each team plays seven Ivy League games. And that means some schools have four home conference games this fall while others have just three. As you would expect, that flip-flops each year.

How much difference it makes is debatable, but certainly it's better to have four conference games at home and Dartmouth is one of the schools with four Ivy games at home this year. Preseason media favorite Harvard is another with four games at home.

Here's the breakdown for the league:

Ivy Games Home/Away in 2015
Dartmouth 4/3
Harvard 4/3
Penn 4/3
Yale 4/3
Brown 3/4
Columbia 3/4
Cornell 3/4
Princeton 3/4

Taking it a step further, it seems to make sense to have your toughest Ivy games at home. That being the case, I worked up breakdown of home/away games each Ivy team has against the top three teams in the preseason media poll. (In the case of the teams in the top three – Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale – I included the next team in the poll.) Here's how that turned out:

Home/Away Games Vs. Top Teams In 2015 Poll
Dartmouth 2/1
Harvard 2/1
Penn 2/1
Brown 1/2
Columbia 1/2
Cornell 1/2
Princeton 1/2
Yale 1/2

In other words, Dartmouth has two games against top teams at home (Yale, Princeton) and one on the road (Harvard).

Yale, meanwhile, has one game against a top team at home (Harvard) and two on the road (Dartmouth, Princeton).

What does it all mean? Hey, it's something to talk about.
WMUR TV, the ABC affiliate in Manchester, N.H., has done a short piece on Dartmouth's mobile tackling dummy.

Watch the full piece HERE.