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Tuesday Tidbits

September 4, 2012

This is about a week late and $7 short, but for the third straight year, EMU football has (bizarrely) gotten votes in the pre-season SB Nation Blogpoll. This year, the vote was for #8 (yes, in the country), it came from our friends at Black Shoe Diaries (Penn State), and it was based on EMU football’s eighth-worst in the nation NCAA Graduation Success Rate (from 2010-11, the latest year published). Their rationale is that since Penn State is (according to the NCAA) beholden to a “football culture”, they must vote for the schools that put football ahead of academics, and obviously since these schools have such bad academics (by the NCAA’s metric) they must be the ones. And in case you’re wondering, the NCAA claims that this metric accurately accounts for students that transfer; when we look at the Federal Graduation Rate, which does not account for any transfers, EMU ranks worst. In the country.

The women’s soccer team split their games at the UTSA Classic over the weekend, losing 2-1 to host Texas-San Antonio, then winning Sunday against Lamar. While not stellar, the team seems much improved over what we saw last year; they’ve scored 10 goals through five games (last year it took 14 games) and have their second win nearly a month earlier. I’m not ready to proclaim them “good”, but I’ll confidently go for “not bad”. Junior Stephanie Clarke, who had an outstanding freshman season but struggled last year, scored the single goal against Texas-San Antontio, while Cara Cutaia, Sarah Deakin, and Bianca Rossi each scored against Lamar. The Eagles return home this Friday for an afternoon match (4 pm) against IUPUI. The Jaguars are 1-5, with losses to Miami University and Bowling Green, and a win over Ball State. The Eagles and Jaguars also have a common past opponent in Butler, who defeated IUPUI 3-1 in an exhibition match and lost to EMU 1-0 two weeks later. This Sunday, the Eagles will travel to East Lansing to face the Spartans (5-1), who’ve defeated Bowling Green and Akron.

After a 4-0 start in which they won 12 of 14 sets, things got a lot tougher for the volleyball team last week. At their home opener in the Convo last Tuesday, the Eagles fell behind 2-0, fought back to tie at 2-2 but fell short in the fifth set. They followed that up over the weekend with the Illinois-Chicago Tournament, where they lost to IPFW for the eighth straight time, but then turned things around to beat Texas-Arlington 3-2 and Illinois-Chicago 3-1. This afternoon they went up against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in what I’m finding listed as either the North Texas Tournament or the Mean Green Invitational; the match was scheduled for 3:30 today but results don’t seem to have made their way through the internet’s pipes to Ypsilanti. However they did today, and whatever the tournament is called, they’ll continue in it this weekend, facing North Texas on Friday, followed by Hofstra and Oral Roberts on Saturday.

The women’s cross country team began their competitive season Friday at the Mel Brodt Invitational, hosted by Bowling Green, where they finished third of five teams. With five of the top six runners, Toledo won easily, while Bowling Green edged out the Eagles for second place; Ball State and Madonna University finished fourth and fifth, respectively. EMU was led by Victoria Voronko who finished second, the one non-Rocket among the top six. Next up for the women’s cross country team is the George Dales Invitational this Friday, hosted by Western Michigan.

The men’s cross country team is two weeks away from their opener, the Spartan Invitational in East Lansing on September 14, but looking toward the end of the season, things are looking pretty good. In the pre-season coaches’ poll, the Eagles were picked to win their third consecutive MAC championship, which would be their seventh in eight years. Senior Terefe Ejigu has set the bar high, saying, “…every single one of my teammates are determined to look beyond MACChampionships and aim to qualifying to regionals and ultimately to nationals. Personally I have never been to Cross Country Nationals and this is my last chance to give it everything I got to get there.”

File this one under “Are you f***ing kidding?” EMU is encouraging fans to vote for Alex Gillett in the Davey O’Brien Fan Vote for the nation’s best college quarterback. Now, I’ll say a lot of good things about Gillett — possibly a surprise number of good things, given that the team is 6-20 against FBS teams with him as a starter — he’s tough, he’s a fighter, he doesn’t give up, and if he can find a way to win he will. But “nation’s best college quarterback”? Sorry, no. Besides which, since it’s a fan vote, it’s probably going to go to a school with a big fan base (right now only one of the top ten vote-getters is from a non-AQ conference). However, the vote totals are pretty low, at least for the moment, and if it stays that way it’s not inconceivable that a big get-out-the-vote effort could at least put Gillett in contention; my single vote just put him into a 13-way tie at #64. So get on over to voteobrien.org to vote early and vote often (one vote per person per day is allowed)! In summary, ignore what I wrote at the beginning and do what I wrote at the end.

Friday was the NFL roster cut deadline, so we can take a look around and survey the damage. For EMU, we have the usual suspects, with Charlie Batch still hanging around Pittsburgh as a back-up quarterback, T.J. Lang with a nice new contract and a presumptive starter on the Green Bay offensive line, wide receiver Kevin Walter playing for Houston, and Jason Jones moved from Tennessee to Seatttle on a one-year contract. After first signing with Pittsburgh and then with Minnesota, Bridger Buche doesn’t appear to have made the cut. I’m not sure what’s happening with Latarrius Thomas, who was signed by the Colts, cut be the Colts,  and then possibly re-signed (some sources list him, others do not)..

The women’s basketball team will hold open try-outs for the upcoming season. There will be an informational meeting in Media Room A at the Convocation Center this Friday at 11 am, and the try-outs will take place the following Friday, September 14. Given the depth this team will have coming back, I think this is most likely going to be for scout team practice spots, but it’s still a neat chance to be a part of a defending MAC champion team with a fair chance at repeating. If I were a woman, and a current EMU student, and had any basketball skills whatsoever, I’d be there for sure.

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