Does anybody have a cooler beard than Will Matte?
Wait. Let’s be precise. Does any college football center good enough to be in the running for the Rimington Trophy have a beard as good as Matte’s?
The short answer is no. The long answer is no.
The Indiana senior has a black beard thick enough to hide Terrell Owens’ ego. Add the shaved head and this 6-2, 290-pound senior looks ready for his WWE debut.
But that’s not why Matte is making news.
He’s on the Rimington Trophy spring watch list. That’s a big honor considering the trophy goes annually to the best center in NCAA Division I football.
This leads to the obvious question -– who’s Rimington? That would be Dave Rimington, a first-team All-America center for Nebraska in 1981 and ’82.
Matte has been an iron man for most of his time with the Hoosiers. He started the first 32 games of his career before an injury stopped the streak last season. He still started nine games and played in 10.
When it comes to public perception, centers are not judged on their number of blocks (although you'd better believe coaches focus in on that), but on the overall numbers of the offense. Last year Matte helped IU rush for 1,374 yards in Big Ten action, the most since 2001 when Antwaan Randle El led the offense. The Hoosiers had five games with more than 200 rushing yards. They burned Northwestern for 319 rushing yards, their most in a Big Ten game since 2003.
The winner will be honored at the Rimington Trophy Presentation banquet at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Neb., Jan. 12, 2013.
A beard is optional.
IU’s Casey Smith got a suspension for his role in a brawl near the end of the Hoosiers’ Big Ten baseball tourney loss to Purdue.
Smith and Purdue’s Eric Charles got hit with one-game suspensions. Charles must sit out the Boilers’ NCAA tourney opener against Valparaiso. Smith will have to wait for the Hoosiers’ opener next year because their season ended with that defeat to Purdue.
The Big Ten issued the following release:
“The Big Ten Conference office announced that it will impose a one-game suspension on baseball student-athletes Eric Charles of Purdue and Casey Smith of Indiana for violating the Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement. Charles will be suspended for Purdue’s opening NCAA Championship game on Friday, June 1, while Smith will be suspended for Indiana’s first game of the 2013 season.
“The Big Ten Conference considers this matter concluded and will have no further comment.”
The brawl started when Charles slid hard into IU’s Michael Basil in the ninth inning in a nail-biter of a game. Officials viewed Charles’ slide as flagrant in nature. So did the Hoosiers, who came out of the dugout. Purdue players responded and the fight was on.
Eventually umpires restored order and the Boilers went on to win the game, the conference tournament and a NCAA tourney bid.
Despite the loss, the Hoosiers grew into a formidable team in the last month of so of they season. They return most of their players for a squad the became the Big Ten's second best behind Purdue. Look for them to make a run at a conference title and a NCAA tourney berth next season.
And if the construction schedule holds (no sure thing despite the early earth-moving start), they'll do it in a state-of-the-art new baseball stadium.
New Indiana women’s basketball coach Curt Miller is not an under-the-radar guy. He’s pushing hard to get the program to a competitive level. That sometimes means addition by subtraction.
If you believe the reports, 6-4 Kristiana Stauere is transferring from IU to Division II Alaska Anchorage. The connection is that former Indiana assistant coach Nathan Altenhofen is now the new head coach at Alaska Anchorage.
It also seems that IU will add a couple of new players. One would be 6-3 Jocelyn Mousty, an Indiana basketball All-Star. Mousty averaged 19.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.9 blocks as a senior.
Another reportedly is Nicole Bell, once signed by Ball State. She’s a 5-5 point guard from Cincinnati who averaged 22.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 4.6 steals as a high school senior last season.
Miller had a tremendous amount of success at Bowling Green. He understands the value of recruiting, and in particular the value of recruiting the state. Indiana has never been a women's basketball power. While the challenges are formidable, including going against traditional national powers Purdue and Notre Dame for the best in-state players, he seems prepared to handle them.
Time, as it always does, will tell.