Monday, July 11, 2011

Miracle at South Bend - 20 Years Later

Many of you have heard me tell this story, some of you more than others and still listen to it with polite boredom. I figured the release of the new NCAA football game, and my return to Ohio for my uncle's wedding in May would be a great time to put it online.

We go back to November 4, 1991. My family was living in Perrysburg, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo. Being up in NW Ohio put me right in the middle of Big Ten country. My dad went to Tennessee which of course rubbed off on me and I had been a Vols fan my entire life. Being a kid in second grade at the time I always wore my Tennessee orange on Fridays before games, but being up in Ohio I was surrounded by kids who cheered for Michigan, Ohio State, and independent Notre Dame (other Big Ten schools as well but it was a smaller amount). Of course kids are always so nice to each other when one of them is different (note sarcasm) and the SEC was not the power it has grown into today so I got my fair share of abuse for cheering for a supposedly inferior school to big bad Michigan, OSU and Notre Dame (this btw was when the Irish were a perennial top ten team).

In the previous season #9 Tennessee and #1 Notre Dame went toe to toe at Neyland Stadium. The Vols had one final drive left in them but quarterback Andy Kelly had his pass intercepted at the goal line and the Irish won 34-29. The Notre Dame kids didn't let me forget that and they ratcheted up the taunts and were joined by the OSU and Michigan kids the week prior to the game at Notre Dame Stadium in 1991.

Going into the game the Vols were 5-2 and ranked #13 while the Irish were 8-1 and ranked #5 with the seniors were playing their final home game in Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish were coached by Lou Holtz and led by QB Rick Mirer and future Hall of Famer at running back Jerome Bettis while the Vols had Andy Kelly under center, Dale Carter at safety and kick returner, and my favorite player as a kid, Carl Pickens at receiver.

On the first series the Tennessee defense forced a three and out, but Dale Carter muffed the punt. The Irish took advantage and rammed in down the Vols throats to score. Carter made it up by taking the kickoff past midfield, but Andy Kelly threw a pick right to a Notre Dame linebacker and he ran it all the way back for a score. Five minutes into the game it was 14-0 Notre Dame.

Just before the half Notre Dame led 31-7 and lined up for a field goal. Darryl Hardy blocked the kick and Floyd Miley ran the ball 85 yards for the score, drawing a famous "Oh My!" from broadcaster Dick Enberg. That is the definition of a "game changer." Instead of 34-7, Tennessee only trailed 31-14. Once the second half started, Tennessee was a different team. They looked sharper and were not intimidated by Notre Dame, or the aura of their stadium. The Irish could not keep their momentum on offense going and only scored three points in the second half. During the comeback, Andy Kelly passed Jeff Francis to become the All-Time passing leader at Tennessee. The Vols slowly clawed their way back to being down 34-28 in the forth quarter.

On a crucial forth down deep in Irish territory Notre Dame dialed up a safety blitz and stopped the Vols. However the Vols defense stood tall and Dale Carter picked off a pass to swing momentum back to Tennessee. On second and short, legendary coach and now color commentator Bill Walsh saw the Irish were going to bring that safety blitz again. Tennessee head coach Johnny Majors and then offensive coordinator Phil Fulmer saw it too and called the perfect counter to a blitz, a screen pass to the left to freshman running back Aaron Hayden. Hayden had two blockers in front with no one to block and Hayden went untouched into the end zone. After the extra point Tennessee led 35-34 with 4:03 to go.

Those were some of the longest minutes of my young life as the Irish in true Notre Dame fashion marched down the field on a drive to try and win. Now back on the blocked field goal at the end of the first half, the Notre Dame kicker Craig Hentrich got injured. He tried to make a go of it and was barely able to get the lone Notre Dame field goal of the second half over the cross bar. He further injured the leg on a punt and could not continue. Bill Walsh realized that Notre Dame would have to get the ball down where the winning field goal would be the distance of an extra point to make it easier on the backup kicker.

With four seconds to go in the game, sophomore walk-on kicker Rob Leonard lined up from the right hash mark to kick a 27 yard field goal that would give the Irish the win. This is the type of finish that Notre Dame always got, especially at home, and this ending would add to the legend. But it was not to be. Tennessee defensive back Jeremy Lincoln dove in front of the kick and the ball ricocheted off his butt to deflect the ball. The kick fell short. Game over. Tennessee 35 Notre Dame 34.

Everyone watching at my house went nuts. I could not sleep that night I was so excited. I could not wait to see what would happen Monday at school. To rub some salt in the wound I made sure to wear my Tennessee sweatshirt to school so all the kids had to look at that wonderful shade of orange. Of course all the Notre Dame kids blamed me for the Irish blowing a 31-7 lead at home and wanted to punish me for that. Since they were all fat, slow, midwestern kids they could not catch me at recess and I made it through the day unharmed and had a nice wide grin on my face.

I still got my fair share of bullying and abuse for being a Tennessee fan through 1995 when my family moved away, but I never shied away from my love of orange, or the fact that they could never catch me on the playground anyway. The only way I could have enjoyed Tennessee's 20-14 win over Ohio State in the 1996 Citrus Bowl, or their 45-17 drubbing of Michigan in the 2002 Citrus Bowl anymore is if I was back in Ohio and wearing my orange and being a Vol for life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shibley's 2010

The late college basketball coach Jim Valvano said in his epic ESPY Speech, "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day."

Well 2010 for has been that kind of year for me. I have had plenty of laughs, done a little bit of crying, and a whole lot of thinking so I would say 2010 has been a pretty full year.

At the beginning I was doing much of what I had done the past few years. Working at the radio station in Virginia Beach and announcing games for my high school. Finally, driving through a snowstorm on my way to getting paid minimum wage at 5 a.m. was a big sign that I needed to do something else.

Big change was on the way for me in June as I made a fateful trip back to Knoxville. In the span of a few months this summer I fell in love, decided to move back to Rocky Top, had songs written about me, got a job with AT&T, and then had my heart broken. So I would say it has been a complete year.

The Shibley family had another great year in 2010 as well. My highlight was seeing my sister in the role of Mimi in the musical "Rent" in Philadelphia. I had a ball making sure all my relatives knew what the show was about so they were not completely shocked the whole show. My mother decided to retire from nursing and has now converted my old room into her new studio.

We had another family reunion, this time in Charleston, South Carolina. It was great seeing everyone again and I look forward to the next one, hopefully in 2012. Also my cousin Andrew got married to his long time girlfriend in November. I was a blast, (and Tennessee defeated Vanderbilt during the reception which was a plus).

So as I look forward to 2011, I feel the best I have since I graduated college. Despite some of the circumstances of my return to Knoxville, this is where I belong right now. I have a solid job with a good company, I work with great people, I found a great new hobby in taking MMA classes, and I believe I have lived up to Valvano's quote.

So while 2010 was a great year, I am really looking forward to 2011. My resolution is to just grow as a person, keep smiling, and it wouldn't hurt me to drop a few pounds.

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 10, 2010

BCS Bowls Breakdown 2010

Good to be back writing a bit.

Despite all the arguments we are stuck with the BCS for the foreseeable future. They are the top five bowl games in the country in terms of money so lets take a look at each one and what fun they will give us this season.

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game – January 10, 2011
Auburn vs. Oregon

The BCS got it right at least in terms of the top two teams in the country at least for this season. Yeah TCU may have a gripe but if you look at the body of work, the Ducks and Tigers are the best in 2010 and should be playing for all the marbles.
Everyone sees a high scoring affair as both teams score in bunches and do not do the best job in stopping people. This game could look more like and arena football game as the scoring goes but it should be fun to watch if you like points.

It is a contest that many have been looking forward to as it’s the SEC vs. the Pac-10 which has not been one of the contests during the current SEC streak of National Championships. Most people had been hoping it would be USC against an SEC team since the Trojans had been a factor in the past decade against the best conference in the country. Did not work out that way but it will be a great matchup.

The deciding factor will be who can stop who first. If you have watched Auburn over the course of the season, you have seen a team that has fallen behind but was always able to rally back and win including falling behind 24-0 at Alabama only to have Cam Newton get on track and pull out a one point win. Once Newton gets rolling there has been no stopping War Eagle. For Oregon to win they need to jump on top first and somehow keep the Tigers down.

The Rose Bowl – January 1, 2011
Wisconsin vs. TCU

The most traditional of all the BCS games got a wrench thrown in as the Horned Frogs of TCU crashed the party to play Big Ten stalwart Wisconsin. For those who want a David vs. Goliath match this is it. TCU fell shot of the title game but they still get to take on one of the big boys and prove that they belong.

TCU has a very strong offense led by QB Andy Dalton and has scored bunches of points and also shutdown their opponents all season including then No. 5 Utah at their place. However, the Badgers have been scoring in bunches as well and it has not all been on the ground as many think with Wisconsin. Quarterback Scott Tolzien is one of the most accurate passers in the country and the Badgers have a tough defense that shut down Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State earlier in the season.

It’s not the usual matchup in Pasadena but the “Granddaddy of them all” should still be a fun one to watch on New Years Day.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – January 1, 2011
Connecticut vs. Oklahoma

Like it or not the Huskies of UConn are in the BCS so we all have to live with it. I will say this about the Huskies, their head coach Randy Edsall has done wonders with this program and should either get a nice pay raise or as I believe, be the new coach at a major power.

No one would even think the Huskies had a chance against Oklahoma except for the fact that the Sooners have been down this road twice, against Boise State in 2007 and West Virginia in 2008. Both times Bob Stoops and the Sooners came in to the Fiesta Bowl expecting to win only to have Boise State trick their way to an upset and Pat White and Steve Slaton run wild against them.
I don’t see it happening a third time though. UConn is a solid team but they don’t have the gusto of Boise or the playmakers West Virginia had. The Huskies do have a great running back in Jordan Todman who rushed for over 1,500 yards but if the Sooners shut him down its all over. The Sooners have QB Landry Jones, RB DeMarco Murray, and WR Ryan Broyles on offense and I don’t think the Huskies can stop them.

Discover Orange Bowl – January 3, 2011
Stanford vs. Virginia Tech

This is the game you have to wave the caution flag to most of the “experts” who think Andrew Luck will throw all over the Hokies. Most people stopped watching Virginia Tech after they lost on Labor Day to Boise State and were hungover in a loss the next week to FCS foe James Madison.

However, the Hokies have righted the ship and won eleven in a row to win the ACC and secure another BCS Bowl for Frank Beamer. QB Tyrod Taylor has been wonderful all season passing for 2,500 yard and rushing for 637 yards. He is the focal point of their offense but look out for David Wilson who is dangerous out of the backfield and in the return game. Also be aware that the Hokies just know how to win bowl games.

We have all seen Stanford’s Andrew Luck and what he has done all season pitching the ball all over the field and also rushing for 438 yards. However it is not your usual wide open Pac-10 offense as the Cardinal line up and pound the ball when they want to. Should be a fun game down in Miami.

Allstate Sugar Bowl – January 4, 2011
Ohio State vs. Arkansas

Besides the Title game and the Tennessee game, this is the matchup I am most excited to watch. We all know the Ohio State vs. the SEC streak as the Buckeyes have never beaten an SEC school (including Peyton Manning and Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl in 1996). They have also gotten smashed by Florida and LSU in the BCS Title game in consecutive years.

This is a different matchup however as the Buckeyes may have the better defense this time. They also have Terrelle Pryor and a high powered offense who only had one bad game at Wisconsin this season.

While Ryan Mallett and those wide receivers get all the attention for the Razorbacks, they can also run the ball quite well. Knile Davis has 1,100 yards and 13 TDs this season so if the Buckeyes try and stop the pass all game, look out for Davis.

So there you have it. A quick look at the BCS games this season. Enjoy the games, save the debates about the BCS for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 College Football Pick'em Week 6

Well everyone got the win picking LSU but of course we would have all been glad to take the loss instead after what happened. Bottom line, if the Vols had picked up that 4th and 1 or stopped LSU on 4th and 14 this would have never happened. The faux pax is squarely on the coaches and players. I give them credit for fighting the whole way and the biggest sign of valor is if the Vols can pick themselves up and take out Georgia.

Let's look at the standings:

Last week

Alex 11-1/Joseph 10-2/Chuck 9-3/Trey 9-3/Tiffany 9-3/Dina 8-4/Shibley 7-5/Will 7-5/Victor 6-6/Eva 5-7


Chuck 48-12/Shibley 46-14/Trey 41-19/Alex 36-12/Dina 25-11/Tiffany 24-12/Victor 23-13/Joseph 19-5/Will 17-7/Josh 8-4/Andrew 8-4/Eva 5-7

Starting next week I will start including winning percentage so make it count this week!


No. 7 Nebraska at Kansas State


Paul Bunyan's Axe - Minnesota at No. 20 Wisconsin

No. 1 Alabama at No. 19 South Carolina

No. 11 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (at Cowboys Stadium)

Paul Bunyan Trophy - No. 17 Michigan State at No. 18 Michigan

Clemson at North Carolina

Pittsburgh at Notre Dame

No. 12 LSU at No. 14 Florida

No. 23 Florida State at No. 13 Miami (FL)

USC at No. 16 Stanford

Pillow Fight of the Week - New Mexico at New Mexico State

Tennessee at Georgia

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 College Football Pick'em Week 5

Another big week of college football as we have five battles between ranked teams and the Vols head to Tiger Stadium to take on LSU.

Here is how we all did last week:

Chuck 10-2/Will 10-2/Shibley 9-3/Joseph 9-3/Victor 9-3/Tiffany 8-4/Dina 8-4/Trey 6-6


Chuck 39-9/Shibley 39-9/Trey 32-16/Alex 25-11/Dina 17-7/Victor 17-7/Tiffany 15-9/Will 10-2/Joseph 9-3/Josh 8-4/Andrew 8-4

Now let's see if we can get all 11 people to play this week!


Texas A&M at Oklahoma State


No. 16 Miami (FL) at Clemson

Red River Rivalry - No. 21 Texas vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (from Dallas)

No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 24 Michigan State

Virginia Tech at No. 23 North Carolina State

No. 7 Florida at No. 1 Alabama

No. 9 Stanford at No. 4 Oregon

Notre Dame at Boston College

No. 22 Penn State at No. 17 Iowa

Washington at No. 18 USC

Commander-in-Chief's Trophy - Navy at Air Force

Tennessee at No. 12 LSU

Good Luck Friends!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010 college Football Pick'em Week 4

Awesome! Seven of you decided to join me in picking games last week! How did we all do?

Shibley 10-2/Alex 9-3/Dina 9-3/Chuck 9-3/Trey 8-4/Victor 8-4/Andrew 8-4/Tiffany 7-5


Shibley 30-6/Chuck 29-7/Trey 26-10/Alex 25-11/Dina 9-3/Josh 8-4/Victor 8-4/Andrew 8-4/Tiffany 7-5

For those of you who have on ly played one week, once you start to play a few I'll put the percentages up in overall.

On to week 4!!!


No. 19 Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh


Virginia Tech at Boston College

No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Arkansas

No. 16 Stanford at Notre Dame

Kentucky at No. 9 Florida

Georgia at Mississippi State

Fresno State at Mississippi

No. 12 South Carolina at No. 17 Auburn

No. 24 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State

No. 22 West Virginia at No. 15 LSU

California at No. 14 Arizona

UAB at Tennessee

Good Luck!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2010 college Football Pick'em Week 3

Let's take a look and see how everyone did on "Monster Saturday."

Shibley 11-1/Chuck 10-2/Alex 9-3/Trey 8-4

After two weeks

Chuck 20-4/Shibley 20-4/Trey 18-6/Alex 16-8/Josh 8-4

So the first 11-1 week goes to me! Let's see if someone can have a perfect week!

Here are this week's games:


Cincinnati at North Carolina State


No. 12 Arkansas at Georgia

Georgia Tech at North Carolina

East Carolina at Virginia Tech

Air Force at No. 7 Oklahoma

No. 8 Nebraska at Washington

Mississippi State at No. 15 LSU

Clemson at No. 16 Auburn

No. 6 Texas at Texas Tech

Notre Dame at Michigan State

No. 9 Iowa at No. 24 Arizona

No. 10 Florida at Tennessee

Good Luck!