Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beating Up Cody; Corso Apologizes; Football Folly

The meek might inherit the earth, but they don’t hang out in the paint trying to stop Cody Zeller. Instead, Indiana’s heralded 6-11 freshman deals with a coarser group of guys who aren’t above smacking him in, well, a sensitive area.

“I know they’re going to try to beat me up a little bit,” Zeller says with a smile. “I just try to keep my head up and keep going at it.”

After four games Zeller has been roughed up in all sorts of ways, some that might get you arrested if done on a street corner.

The key is, this is just against mid-major players. What happens when the really big, really strong guys from power conference teams show Zeller what major college ball is really like?

Zeller, it seems, is ready for it just as he’s been ready for just about everything else this season. He’s lifted, run and played at a veteran level, and it shows in stats that include a team-leading 15.0 points, a team-leading 7.3 rebounds and an eye-popping 82.6 percent shooting from the field.

“One of the things I need to work on is getting stronger and getting lower on rebounds,” he says. “It’s a work in progress.”

Zeller is noticeably bigger and stronger than he was last year, the benefit of IU’s strength and conditioning program

“It was a lot of hard work in the summer,” he said. “It’s paying off.”

Coach Tom Crean knows teams are targeting Zeller, but he doesn’t want any retaliation other than by playing better and harder.

“I wouldn’t just single Cody out in that,” Crean said. “I think our guys are doing a very good job in handling that. They know the ramifications. Who knows what is going to happen down the road? I don’t think we have any wallflowers.

“Cody is a tough young man. Those guys have a determination about them. They understand what is at stake.

“I would have a bigger issue with some of that if the referees weren’t on top of that, but there’s no reason to believe that they’re not.

“We want all of our guys to play with a real intensity, a real determination, but to play with emotion, not emotional. For the most part, we’re getting that.

“Cody certainly epitomizes that. He plays with some emotion. He plays with a lot of intensity, but you never look at Cody and think he is getting emotional about anything, which is good.”

How good? We're about to find out.


Are we getting so soft in America that a man can’t use the F-word on national television while putting on a mascot head without apologizing?

Apparently so.

ESPN, in its infinite wisdom, directed Lee Corso to apologize for blurting the Word That Shall Remain Unwritten during a College GameDay bit.

Lee, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and former Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis were wrapping up a segment from Houston. The Cougars were about to play SMU and Corso was set to pick who he thought would win. He saw a megaphone that had SMU’s logo on it and shouted.

“How can you pick against SMU? Look at that one there –- red, white and blue!”

He picked up the megaphone and shouted “USA!”

Then he tossed the megaphone and picked up the Houston mascot head of Shasta the Cougar while saying, “Ah, (bleep) it!”

Fowler went face down onto his desk. Herbstreit pushed back from the desk as if concerned it would burst into flames. Lewis just laughed and applauded.

And then the whole thing went Internet viral. Corso later apologized on the air and said he would never use that word again.

But the video remains forever.


Did you think Michigan State was rubbing it in when it let senior offensive lineman Joel Foreman run the ball against the Hooisers?

It happened in the third quarter with the Spartans ahead something like 200-3. Foreman is 6-4 and 315 pounds. He’d never carried the ball before, but coach Mark Dantonio wanted to give him a chance because, well, why not? It was Senior Day, which means it was Foreman’s last ever home game.

Why not have some fun?

Foreman rushed for three yards, and later got the game ball. It was a moment he’ll likely never forget.

In fact, it was not rubbing it in. The Hoosiers have become everybody favorite patsy. The only reason why they didn’t get slaughtered at Ohio State is because the Buckeyes, with all the issues they’ve faced, including losing their quarterback and head coach to a tattoo scandal, aren’t very good.

If you don’t want offensive linemen running on you, play tough enough so it doesn’t happen. But, as we have seen through the course of this long, long season, toughness is not yet a Hoosier strength.

Will that change? There’s no guarantee when it comes to Cream ‘n Crimson football. Just because IU plays a lot of young guys now doesn’t mean they’ll become good veterans down the road.

The Hoosiers have a chance to wipe out some of the sting of this painful season by beating Purdue. It would give the Boilers a losing record and ruin their bowl hopes. It would bring a measure of pride to an Indiana program that badly needs it.

The Hoosiers have one last chance to get it right. We’ll see what they can do with it.


  1. I attended the game as an IU fan and alum, but I grew up in East Lansing and follow the Spartans when possible. Allowing Joel Foreman to run the ball was not rubbing it in, and it wasn't just about having some fun on Senior Day, either. It was more a gesture of appreciation by the coaching staff in recognition for Foreman's class and leadership. Earlier this year Foreman, who had started 22 consecutive games, gave up his starting spot for Arthur Ray Jr. Ray signed with MSU in 2007 but was diagnosed with cancer shortly after. He had the tumor removed, went through chemotherapy, and had to withdraw from school due to an infection. Ray taking the field for one snap was a touching and memorable moment during a special season in which the Spartans are playing for a Big Ten championship. This senior class is MSU's all-time winningest class, surpassing the group that won back-to-back National Championships in 1965 & 1966. Foreman is a leader of the class and earned the rushing attempt against the Hoosiers.

  2. Could not agree more with the treatment of Corso's faux pas. I was watching it as it happened, and it was hard to hear exactly what Lee said at the time, but it wasn't until ESPN made him apologize that I realized my ears weren't fooling me. Totally harmless mistake, not unlike the epithets that come over the field microphones during any given game. As for IU football, I was willing to give Wilson a pass for this year, but it was based on seeing a discernable improvement in the team's play as the season wore on. Since that clearly hasn't happened, I am hoping that the humble pie which Wilson has been served will cause him to talk less and get down to the business of recruiting and player development. This level of execution is totally inexcusable and can not be tolerated.