EIU Panthers

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Life In A FishBowl

Ever wonder what it's like to be a fish staring out at the great unknown?
If you take out the cartoon versions of what people think fish are thinking like Finding Nemo or the Little Mermaid - the next closest item in real life to feeling like a fish in the bowl are athletes and coaches.
Think about it. Every play scrutinized. Every successful venture applauded (like a treat for your pet). Every disappointment played out in full view of the public. You have to give credit to those athletes and coaches for bouncing back and heading into their jobs each and every day. -- Granted it's much easier to do when you making a $1 million a game like some pro athletes.
Any way the Panthers basketball teams will have a chance to once again jump into the fish bowl on Wednesday and Saturday this week. The EIU men are at home in Lantz Arena both days on Wednesday against Ball State and Saturday vs. Western Illinois. The women's team is at Indiana State on Wednesday and home hosting Illinois-Chicago on Saturday.
So without further ado we take a quick look at some Know Your Opponent Facts on each of these schools:
Ball State
1.) The school name Ball State is derived for the Ball Brother's Glass Company which was located in the area in the early 1900's.
2.) The University's entrepreneurship program has been rated in the top five in the nation each of the last three years.
3.) Famous alumni include TV personality David Letterman, NBA player Bonzi Wells and Three's Company actress Joyce DeWitt.
Indiana State
1.) The list of famous alumni has to start with NBA Legend Larry Bird, former Major League baseball player Tommy John and Volkswagen of America COO Mark Barnes
2.) The campus sets aside a day each fall to work on campus projects called Donaghy Day
3.) The Indiana State Tricycle Derby was started on campus in 1963
1.) The school originally opened as Chicago Circle based on its close proximity to the downtown Chicago Circle (Loop) it was located next to.
2.) One out of every ten Chicago residents with a college degree has one from UIC
3.) The campus has been used for many movie and TV sets including the UIC Police Department as the early setting for Hill Street Blues
Western Illinois
1.) Western Illinois was founded in 1899 as the Normal School to accommodate teaching needs in the western part of the state near what would later become known as the Quad Cities.
2.) Famous alumni include actor Michael Boatman and NFL players Bryan Cox and Rodney Harrison.
3.) The mascot Leathernecks is named after former athletic director and US Marine Rocky Hanson.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

One Week, Almost Four Wins

With 8:25 left in the second half of tonight's Eastern Illinois men's game against Austin Peay all seemed to be going the Panthers way.

EIU was on the verge of a four-game sweep of Ohio Valley Conference games which would have put the EIU men and EIU women on top of the early OVC standings with a 2-0 record.

Then the proverbial wheels came off as the Panthers could not execute an inbounds pass on several occasions and eventually fell in overtime to the Governors to stand at 1-1.

EIU's men had to battle through a tough game on Thursday to win by one point against Tennessee State. But still a 1-1 conference mark is still a good start as EIU now preps for a second game against Ball State on Wednesday.

The Panther women on the other hand seemed to cruise to a pair of OVC wins and definitely looked like the defending champions on both nights.

Mariah King is playing lights out right now with eight straight games in double figures while other players are contributing at crucial points. The team is learning it doesn't need Ta'Kenya Nixon to do it all and they only makes them that much more dangerous.

Wins over Tennessee State and Austin Peay have put the Panthers in first place in the OVC after one week. Now a regional battle with Indiana State on Wednesday as the Panthers have won three straight heading into the contest.

Following one weekend of OVC action for the Panthers we think these players are stars in the making for the Panthers.

Alfonzo McKinnie for the EIU men and Mariah King for the EIU women (we know we already mentioned her, but trust me she will compete for OVC first team honors for the next couple of years). McKinnie brings a raw energy that has not been seen in Lantz in a few years witnessed by his one step, one handed jam against Austin Peay on Saturday.

Next up a pair of Wednesday games and then a home Saturday doubleheader.

We leave you with It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas (as snow was on the ground in Charleston on Saturday night).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Quick Hitters On Hoops

Since this became a regular feature during the football season we figured we would figure a way to drop a few Know Your Opponent Facts for the hoops season. Since both the men's and women's teams play so many different opponents we pulled a couple from each schedule that are relavant for this week.

This might have been longer but with the women's basketball loss to UNC Greensboro last night we are playing a little earlier than expected today. Besides that everyone in South Florida seems to be glued to the Miami-South Florida football game taking place today.

Too bad it could not have taken place in the Orange Bowl. Now that would have added some excitement.

So without further delay:

Bradley - since both teams played the Braves we figured we would start with them.
1.) Was founded as Bradley Polytechnical Institute by Lydia Moss Bradley
2.) Bradley still uses the nickname Braves but no longer associates it with the local Indian tribe from the Peoria, Illinois area
3.) A couple of famous alumni include: baseball star Kirby Puckett and announcer Chick Hearn

South Dakota State - EIU men's opponent Saturday
1.) Founded as a land grant school in 1862 as part of the Morrill Act
2.) Inventions made at SDSU are Daktronics Scoreboards and Briggs & Stratton engines
3.) Famous alumni include NFL player Adam Vinatieri and politician Tom Daschle

UNC Greensboro -
1.) Founded as a women's university in 1891. Men first admitted in 1963.
2.) the 1993 movie House of Cards was filmed on the campus
3.) Famous alumni include country music star Emmylou Harris and writer Claudia Emerson

Florida Atlantic
1.) Opened as a public university in Boca Raton in 1964. Currently has six campus locations.
2.) Has the largest adult continuing education program in the nation
3.) Famous alumni include comedian Carrot Top and Grand Funk Railroad Drummer Don Brewer

Hope you enjoyed Turkey Day and survived Black Friday Shopping.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!!!

First off we apologize for not having a blog for over a week now. It mainly came down to a lack of manpower and hours in the day, so we will try to get an extra one or two in here the upcoming days.

Next we wish everyone a Happy Turkey Day. Hopefully you are enjoying cold turkey sandwiches and left over green bean casserole today. For EIU women's basketball they are in lovely Coconut Grove to play in the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament.

The men's team is on a bus heading to very cold Brookings, South Dakota for a road game at South Dakota State.

We were not raised by dummies and have hopped on the trip to Florida.

Yesterday - Thanksgiving Day - the women's team departed Lantz Arena at 3:30 a.m. to catch a flight in Indianapolis. Two Southwest Flights later (including one over Disney World) - we arrived in Fort Lauderdale. The team is staying at the host hotel - the Mayfair Hotel and Spa. -- Spa being the exclusive word in that phrase as every room as a hot tub on the outdoor deck.

In a couple of hours EIU will play UNC Greensboro in the opening round game. They will play either Florida Atlantic or host Miami on Sunday.

For a couple of quick kudos since our last post:

Men's basketball knocked off Bradley on Wednesday - the biggest non-conference win for EIU in several years.

Women's basketball knocked off Missouri about ten days ago - the biggest non-conference win for EIU in several years.

Since that win EIU has played without Ta'Kenya Nixon for the last two games She is listed as day-to-day.

EIU head football coach Bob Spoo announced his plans to retire on Monday following the 2011 season. He even beat Joe Paterno to the punch as Paterno announced his retirement following the 2011 season on Tuesday.

Lastly EIU men's swimming had a solid second place team finish at the Western Kentucky Invite. We will come back with more tomorrow and thought we would do a November know your opponent quick spin for basketball that day.

Sunday we are supposed to hit South Beach and will give you our impression of that world famous place on Monday.

Also EIU Athletic Alumni remember the drive is on to Push Your Team Forward.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Play Here, A Play There

I think the phrase a play or two here or a play or two there is very common in what fans would consider to be "Coach Speak". That term was very prevalent during the EIU football season that ended on Saturday with a loss at Illinois State.

Here are just a couple of examples which could have easily swayed the outcome of any one game and thus the record for the entire season.

1.) The game against Central Arkansas - EIU muffs three punts in the first quarter
2.) The game against Jacksonville State - A late pass near the end zone gets intercepted preventing an EIU comeback win
3.) The game against Murray State - A sky kickoff was not properly fielded resulting in an on-side kick that the Racers recovered
4.) The Illinois State game - The Panthers left points on the table with an interception in the end zone and mishandled extra point snap

Of course the Panthers did get that same play here, play there treatment to go in their favor in the win at Tennessee State as they scored one touchdown on a tipped pass in the end zone and won the game as a ball was fumbled out of the end zone for a touchback.

Despite some of those miscues the Panthers did show some life in the final weeks which can only bode well for next season as some key players from this year's team are set to return.

The play here, play there theory was also in full effect on Sunday in Lantz Arena where the Panthers knocked off Big 12 Conference member Missouri to give the women's basketball team a 1-1 start to the year. In that game sophomore Kelsey Wyss hit an improbable half court short off an inbounds pass that helped EIU stay on top midway through the second half. Wyss' play has been submitted to ESPN for Top Play consideration.

Congrats to the men's and women's cross country teams which finished up the season on Saturday at the NCAA Regional while the volleyball team also ended its season falling short on its bid to make the OVC Tournament in Kate Price's first season at the helm. Look for good things from both of those programs as they had good year's under young first year head coaches.

The men's basketball team will be looking for its first win this Thursday when the Panthers play at Loyola. The EIU Alumni Association is having a pregame function in the Windy City at Hamilton's Bar and Grill prior to the game.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Illinois State

As if meeting people were not easy enough the USA Today reported today that the University of Kansas has done a study that identified five different types of flirting.

1.) Physical
2.) Traditional
3.) Polite
4.) Sincere
5.) Playful

To find out your style visit http://love.usatoday.com

My best guess is that none of those styles will be in play on Saturday when EIU and Illinois State meet in the 99th edition of the Prairie State Rivalry. The two teams respect each other, but any kind words probably drop off quickly after that.

Here is the week's Know Your Opponent. (P.S.) Sorry this has been a short blogging week but with many fall seasons, EIU didn't have a whole lot going on this week.

For those that do like the excitement of the hardwood, basketball season starts on Friday. The men are at home hosting South Dakota State at 7 p.m. EIU's women will be at home on Sunday hosting Missouri.

Now some quick facts to bring you up to speed on Illinois State.

1.) It is the oldest public university in the state of Illinois
2.) The town Normal actually took its name from the original name of the school - the Illinois State Normal School.
3.) Some famous alumni include actor Gary Sinise, Sean Hayes (actor - Will & Grace), singer Suzy Bogguss and golfer D.A. Weibring.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't Call It A Come Back...

Ever have those moments where you get a song or phrase from a song stuck in your head. Well if you take away the Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac that I kept hearing in the elevator, the other one stuck in my head from the weekend was LL Cool J's - Momma Said Knock You Out.

Not that those two songs have anything to do with each other, but the one verse that kept coming to mind was Don't Call It A Come Back, I've Been Here For Years.

That would best describe the efforts of the Eastern Illinois football team the last two weeks of the season as the Panthers looked more like the reigning champs of the OVC with nice wins over Austin Peay and Tennessee State, rather than the OVC cellar dwellers from some other contests this year.

The come back against Tennessee State was one of the best in EIU history and while it would probably have meant more had that game been to decide an OVC title, the result will linger in the memories of players on this Panthers team for years to come. Carlos Reyna made one of the biggest came saving hits in recent years - if EIU had been playing at home it most definitely would have been the Porter Auto Body Collision of the Game

So kudos to the Panthers for not giving up the fight and picking up a second straight win. Now a three game win streak to end the season would reap some benefits heading into the recruiting season. A win in the Prairie State Rivarly Game with Illinois State would mean even more.

Congrats to a couple of Sunday award winners by the OVC. Kristin Germann and Sarah Rusk were named to the OVC All-Tournament team for women's soccer. Chris Wright was named the OVC Offensive Player of the Week.

In some other Saturday news the men's soccer run in the Missouri Valley Conference came to an end as they fell to Drake, 2-1, in the final regular-season game. Rugby ended its regular season with another blow out win, this time over Missouri. Men's basketball had four players score in double figures as they rolled in an exhibition win over Illinois College.

Volleyball picked up a 3-0 win over Tennessee State as they are still in contention for the final OVC Tournament berth. EIU faces Tennessee Tech on Friday evening with both teams sitting at 7-9 in the OVC.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Blend Of It All

While Atlanta may be called the Capital of the New South - Nashville may be right up there with it as it is a little more than just Music City.

Many times the overlooked as a destination city in the southern state - Nashville has something to offer for everyone - even those not destined to be the next big country star.

Take this weekend for example as Eastern Illinois will play at Tennessee State. While 25,000 plus will be in town for the Tigers homecoming game, a step-show and other festivities will be taking place in one part of downtown.

Just a few mere two miles away the Southeastern Conference will be in full tilt with Florida visting Vanderbilt. Just in case you wondered what Nashville looked like a on Friday night - last night it was Orange and Blue as the Gator Nation had invaded. A few Blue and White shirts were out too, but the Panther Nation doesn't quite travel as well.

Throw on top of that the fact that Tootsie's is celebrating 50 years of business this weekend with the Country Music Award Show being televised from LP on Wednesday - a star sighting or two may be possible. Even EIU alumnus Jake Maurer had his name on the front page of The Tennessean as they did the article while Jake was playing his set.

Hopefully EIU can overcome some of the jitters of playing in front of a bigger crowd and an NFL Stadium later on tonight.

For those not fortunate enough to hit the road this weekend, EIU men's basketball kicks off its season tonight with an exhibition game with Illinois College at 6 p.m. Volleyball and men's soccer play their final regular season matches - both start at 2 p.m.

Last night EIU women's soccer finished its season falling 2-1 to Morehead State in the OVC semifinals. An own goal ended up being the difference which goes to show that soccer more often than not comes down to just one play or one goal.

Also men's and women's swimming posted wins over Lincoln College while volleyball lost a tough match to Austin Peay in four games.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Tennessee State

We're back with a second blog tonight with our second to last Know Your Opponent segment. This week's opponent is Tennessee State. Before we take a quick look at the Historically Black University, we recap some other news from tonight.

EIU women's soccer had four players earn All-OVC honors. Kaylin Lorbert was a first team selection.

Men's soccer lost at Valparaiso. The Panthers play their final regular-season contest on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Drake.

Now for Know Your Opponent - Tennessee State.

1.) TSU plays at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans

2.) The school was opened in 1909 as the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial School

3.) TSU has several famous alumni among them are Oprah Winfrey, Wilma Rudolph, Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Richard Dent just to name a few.

4.) The TSU Marching Band is known as the Aristocrat of Bands... to see them in action you will need to attend the game this weekend as this will be homecoming weekend at TSU.

Blogging The Night Away

I have been going back-and-forth the last couple of days trying to decide when would be the best time to throw up a new blog report.

Should we have done a Halloween recap - trying to relate EIU's team's performances to Halloween Classic films. Why that was a nice idea, it didn't really pan out as most of EIU's teams turned in good performances that were not really worthy of horror film references.

So after some procrastination, Election Day rolled around and I thought about an - out with old, in the with the new concept. Only problem is its still too early if anyone will be leaving or anyone coming in. The only change known for sure is that men's soccer will be moving to the Summit League for soccer action next season.

So now we are into Wednesday which is normally reserved for a Know Your Opponent segment. Don't worry we will be back with that a little later on tonight. So as if I was inspired by an episode of Tennessee State alum Oprah Winfrey in her last season on the air - we are going to churn out two blogs in one night.

This one will be a quick recap of the things we have missed in the last couple of days like women's soccer having four players on the Academic All-District team, volleyball picking up a crucial win over Southeast Missouri on Tuesday to set up an interesting final home weekend or women's rugby crushing Iowa State in their senior day game.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Monkey Off The Back

How does that idiom go - Get the monkey off your back.

Well on Saturday, Eastern Illinois football did just that and it had nothing to do with the Curious George character that was at O'Brien Field for the Kid's Day contest.

The Panthers snapped a 10-game losing skid that dated back to last season when the Panthers won the OVC regular-season title but lost the season finale and then lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Most people expected that losing skid to extend to three games when you open up with No. 9 Iowa - team thought to have Rose Bowl expectations when the season started (that may still be within reach after the beat down they put on Michigan State today).

But no one expected an eight game losing streak to go into this year, in fact many people were probably looking at being around 7-2 or 6-3 right now with big games remaining at Tennessee State and Illinois State.

Well the game at LP Field next week will still be big and the Prairie State Rivalry is always big so now the Panthers are looking to end the year on a three game win streak. And that is a very real possibility.

TSU has not won an OVC game yet this season and lost their top running back earlier this season. ISU has had a very up and down season and your not sure exactly which team may show up.

As for EIU, signs of productivity started to show last week in a loss to Murray State in which the Panthers were able to generate some offense and not turn the ball over. Today the offense found a few big plays and then the defense created some key turnovers. Put those two together and it usually spells victory.

In some other EIU news - volleyball had a tough weekend losing at EKU and Morehead State... Swimming lost at UIC today... Men's soccer lost a tough game 3-0 at Evansville and now the Panthers will need to beat Drake next Saturday and need some help to advance to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

Congrats to the EIU cross country teams. The EIU women had five All-Conference runners as they posted a second place finish at the OVC meet. The EIU men placed third.

Women's rugby plays its final home match at Noon on Sunday. Weather should be good so if you have time before you go trick-or-treating, then stop by Lakeside Field at Noon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Austin Peay

Three weeks and counting of know your opponents as we take a look at Austin Peay which serves as the Panthers final home opponent for the 2010 season. In the coming weeks we will also preview Tennessee State and Illinois State.

We will take a quick look at APSU in just a few minutes but first a couple of items in EIU athletic news.

First a correction from yesterday's blog. We incorrectly reported that EIU volleyball had defeated UT Martin in five games, when instead they won in three.

Today EIU women's basketball was ranked 30th in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll. Season opener for the Panthers is Nov. 12 at Western Michigan.

Men's soccer lost at UIC on Wednesday night. The match was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was pushed back one day due to inclement weather.

Lastly, EIU swimming picked up a men's win at Evansville on Wednesday night.

Now a couple of know your opponent facts about Austin Peay.

1.) The University is named for former Tennessee Governor - Austin Peay

2.) The school's famous cheer - Let's Go Peay stems from the 1970's when playground legend Fly Williams played basketball. The cheer would go - The Fly Is Open, Let's Go Peay!

3.) The school is located in Clarksville, Tenn. - depicted in the famous song - Last Train To Clarksville, which is actually an anti-war song as Clarksville, Tenn., is located near Fort Campbell Army Base in Kentucky.

4.) Austin Peay played football in the Pioneer Football League as a non-scholarship football team for about 10 years rejoining the OVC in 2007.

5.) Lewie Lastik, who was portrayed as an offensive lineman in the movie "Remember the Titans" played football at Austin Peay.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why is Pepto Bismol Pink?

Watching TV tonight flipping between the Boise State smurf turf and some other shows, I saw a Target ad that had a series of pharmacy questions. One of which was Why is Pepto Bismol pink?

I honestly didn't know the answer, other than great marketing strategy. Evidently the active ingredient Bismuth is pink and as some of the online sources would say - turns your tongue black when you take it. Ok maybe everything you read on the internet is not true.

Well here are a couple of things that we have found to be true in the last couple of days.

1.) EIU women's basketball was picked preseason No. 1 in the OVC

2.) EIU men's basketball was picked No. 3 in the preseason OVC poll.

3.) Men's soccer had to move its Tuesday night match in the Windy City for what else - Wind (inclement weather in the Chicago area forced UIC to move the match to Wednesday)

4.) Women's soccer clinched its 12th straight OVC Tournament berth and we think Kaylin Lorbert is by far the best goalkeeper in the OVC (second straight home weekend of OVC action with 200 minutes in the net and no goals).

5.) Volleyball picked up a much needed win in the OVC race with a 5-set victory over UT Martin on Tuesday night.

6.) Men's swimming is off to its best start in recent years.

Those are just the facts, nothing more maam.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Homecoming Hangover

While I don't think the term "hangover" is going to refer to the overuse of your favorite adult beverage in this blog - to some it may seem appropriate if they chose to over indulge yesterday. Nor is this going to be one of those blogs that doesn't seem to actually recall what happened yesterday much like the movie The Hangover (Mike Tyson was killer in that movie by the way).

No instead this will refer more to that fact that Eastern Illinois football showed some signs of life at O'Brien Field yesterday afternoon attempting to go toe-to-toe with Murray State's high scoring offense as the Panthers opened up their own passing offense. Unlike some other games this season when EIU was forced to primarily pass based on being behind early - this game EIU has a designed passing attack.

1.) Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 4 touchdowns and 341 yards
2.) EIU did not commit an offensive turnover
3.) Defense was able to force two turnovers both stopping Murray State drives
4.) Lorence Ricks had four catches for 114 yards

All signs pointing in the right direction. Now coming off of a tough lose at homecoming the Panthers must regroup as they face Austin Peay next Saturday in a game that could give the Panthers their first win of the season. APSU just lost at Jacksonville State. The week after EIU plays at Tennessee Sate that could be another chance for a win.

Other positives from homecoming weekend.
1.) Women's Rugby won at Illinois
2.) Volleyball won at Southeast Missouri
3.) Women's Soccer won versus UT Martin

The women's soccer team will host Murray State on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a match that has OVC Tournament implications.

Two other quick thoughts - congrats to the Texas Rangers on making the World Series (sorry Yankee fans). With Texas making its first World Series appearance now only the Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos) and Seattle Mariners have not made a World Series appearance
Second and this one comes from the land of common sense. High school football officials in Washington State may be suspended for using a pink whistle during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Not sure what message the Washington High School Association wants to be sending on an issue like this.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lonely On The Bottom

When thinking about life at the bottom you soon realize that everyone is a coach and everyone has a solution. How does that song go by the Little River Band.

Have you heard about the lonesome loser,
Beaten by the queen of hearts every time,

This season EIU is looking up from the bottom of the OVC standings and for a team used to being on top and looking downward, life is a little strange. Band wagons always seem to be a little less crowded when things are not going your way.

For this season the queen of hearts has reared her ugly head in the form of turnovers. The Panthers have committed 27 of them - a number that leads all of FCS. While they probably will not catch the school record of 52 set in the 1981 season, they are letting those things get the best of them.

Then comes the next week. As coaches like to say - young people are resilient, they seem to be able to bounce back. As homecoming approaches on the EIU campus there is no better time to try and break out of a slump and get some of that good MOJO going their way. Win won for old E-I-U and make the alumni proud.

In addition to the football game it is Think Pink week on campus with proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Make sure to stop by either the women's soccer games on Friday and Sunday, the swim meet on Sunday or volleyball match next Tuesday to pick up your Pink EIU gear and help find a cure.

We leave you with a little ditty from Little River Band.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Murray State

As we enter the home stretch of the know your opponent segment I guess it is somewhat appropriate that Murray State with the nickname Racers is this week's opponent.

It's homecoming week at EIU and here are some of the events that are taking place on the campus.

1.) Men's soccer kicked off the week with a 2-2 tie with Bradley on Wednesday afternoon
2.) Women's soccer plays a pair of home games on Friday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.)
3.) Football is home at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday
4.) Swimming is home at 1 p.m. on Sunday (that is a time change from earlier noted schedules)

This week is also Pink Zone week around EIU athletics with merchandise being sold at most athletic events to go towards the fight against breast cancer. It starts Friday at women's soccer and will run through Tuesday's volleyball match.

A quick congrats to EIU sophomore runner Olivia Klaus who picked up her third OVC Runner of the Week award. Also men's and women's golf wrapped up play at the Austin Peay Fall Invite.

Now on to know your opponent.

1.) Murray State's nickname for its sports teams is Racers with the exception of the baseball team which still goes by the moniker Thoroughbreds

2.) At MSU home games Racer 1 runs around the track following each Murray State score. They also play a bingo game that guesses which square the horse will take a Racer 2 in.

3.) The school was founded at the same time as Morehead State (another OVC school, but one that fails to play football at the scholarship level). Murray was chosen as the site for Normal School in the western part of the state while Morehead was chosen for the eastern part of the state

4.) The University changed to a system of referring to its dorms as colleges much like the Ivy League schools do. The system is popular with its founding in England at world famous schools like Oxford and Cambridge

5.) Until a number of years ago Calloway County - where Murray is located - was one of the dry counties in Kentucky. It's always funny that states like Kentucky and Tennessee that make Bourbon and Whiskey seem to be the most with dry counties. Lynchburg, Tenn., where Jack Daniels is made is located in a dry county.

Next week focus on Austin Peay and for those that don't know their chant, tune in next week to see what happens when the fly is open.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Way The Ball Bounces

I was thinking about a quote to describe some of the things that happen in sports and one that continues to come to mind is - "the ball takes some funny bounces."

While that quote can be attributed to many things in life, I thought the best take on that quote was by legendary coach Lou Holtz who said - "the man who complains about the way the ball bounces is usually the one who dropped it."

Dropping things has been a negative trend for the EIU football team this season as the Panthers have fallen to the bottom of the FCS ranks in turnovers this season with 27. That all despite no turnovers against No. 9 ranked Iowa from the Big Ten in the season opener.

EIU is currently on a seven game losing skid, nine if you count back to last season. While the work has been there, the breaks have not. Even in the games where statistically the Panthers are going toe-to-toe with their opponent that little devil "the turnover" creeps up and bites EIU.

Hopefully the ball will take a little friendlier bounce in the next couple of weeks as EIU will also face a couple of teams that have their own ups-and-downs this season as EIU hosts Murray State and Austin Peay the next two weeks before playing at Tennessee State on Nov. 6. The season finale is Nov. 13 at Illinois State.

Speaking of funny bounces that could happen. Looking at the OVC women's soccer standings today, they are about as clear as mud as far as EIU is concerned. The Panthers are 2-2-2 following a 1-1 tie with Tennessee Tech on Sunday. That puts EIU in 7th place with upcoming matches with UT Martin and Murray State at home. EIU could win both matches and catapult to second place or find itself falling all the way to 8th with a pair of losses. Like I said, clear as mud.

While football did not have success against TTU, falling 34-20 on Saturday. Women's rugby continued to roll with a 45-0 win over UW Milwaukee and men's soccer lost to SIU Edwardsville, 2-1. The Panthers have a show down with Bradley on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. EIU needs to salvage some points against either Bradley or Evansville (next week's MVC game) to help secure a spot in the MVC Tournament.

More to come later this week as we see how the ball bounces.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Big Wheels Keep On Turning...

You ever have those mornings when you get a certain song stuck in your head and though you probably don't know all the words you know enough to keep it on repeat in your brain.

For me this morning it was Proud Mary, but the phrase that keeps playing over and over is Big Wheels Keep On Turning. While I'm sure that CCR or Ike & Tina were not talking about the road to Cookeville, Tenn., that is what I'm thinking about as football makes the trip this weekend.

Actually the song refers to rolling down the Mississippi River and while that major body of water will be near the EIU teams on the road this weekend, none of them will actually cross it.

Football as we said is on its way to Tennessee Tech which is nestled in the Cumberland Mountains which are quite pretty this time of year. Hopefully this peaceful setting will the be the backdrop for a Panthers breakout for EIU's first win of the season.

Women's soccer will be right behind the football team as they head down to Cookeville for a Sunday match with the Golden Eagles. It is the only match for EIU women's soccer this weekend as they look to add points in the OVC championship race.

Volleyball hit the road last night for a win at UT Martin and will play the back end of that trip at Murray State on Saturday afternoon.

Cross country competed on Friday with an impressive showing by the women's team at the Bradley Classic. Peoria will be the site of the NCAA Regional in a few weeks so a test run on that course was good practice for the Panthers.

Women's rugby will head north to Milwaukee for a Saturday match.

Men's soccer is the lone EIU fall team in action at home this weekend as they host SIU Edwardsville at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Lakeside Field. Come on out and support the Panthers.

And remember Big Wheels Keep on Turning, Proud Mary Keep on Burning... Rollin', Rollin', Rollin' down the River.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Tennessee Tech

As the weeks of the season wind down we are now past the halfway point of the know your opponent sections on the EIU blog. This week we look at Tennessee Tech which located in Cookeville, Tenn., is the longest trip of the 2010 season for EIU.

But before we get to the know your opponent facts, a quick congrats to EIU men's soccer on their 1-0 win over Central Arkansas. The Panthers had been on the wrong side of four straight 1-0 decisions before the ball bounced in their favor on Wednesday.

Also for those fans who like to check out online media guides the men's and women's 2011 books are now available for viewing. Based on some pending NCAA legislation these will most likely be the final media guides ever printed at Eastern Illinois. The school will continue to produce online versions for all sports.

Now on to this week's know your opponent

1.) Notable alumni from TTU include two NASA Astronauts (Roger Crouch and Barry Wilmore) along with a few former NFL players (most notably Jim Youngblood).

2.) Watson Brown is the brother of Texas head coach Mack Brown.

3.) TTU was founded as a private school with the name Dixie College in 1909 but is now a state institution.

4.) The Golden Eagle that sits on top of one of the school buildings (Derryberry Hall) was stolen from a hotel in Monteagle, Tenn.

5.) One of the newer universities in the nation, Tennessee Polytechnical Institute was founded in 1915, the same year as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Good News

For those that have been following the mine rescue in Chile it appears that it may finally be coming to a close with good news in sight. As of this post nine of the miners had been successfully brought to the surface.

Could you ever imagine yourself stuck in a situation like that? Nowadays we complain if our internet is too slow or our cell phone doesn't have reception but to go nearly 70 days with nothing. You really have to admire those folks for keeping some faith.

Speaking of good news, since we last posted the Panthers have been on a roll (take out Saturday's tough day for men's soccer and football).

EIU volleyball has won two matches in a row following Saturday's five set win over Tenneseee Tech and Monday night's win at UIC.

Women's soccer picked up three points in the OVC race with a 1-0 win over Eastern Kentucky

Women's rugby rolled over Michigan.

As far as individual awards - EIU goalkeeper Kaylin Lorbert was named the OVC Goalie of the Week while volleyball player Jorie Dieter was named the OVC Defensive Player of the Week for her play at the net.

Let's hope the good news continues to come this week for Panther sports teams as many of them will be playing on the road. The lone home action this weekend is Saturday men's soccer against SIU Edwardsville at 2 p.m.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Deep Thoughts

One of the best parts of Saturday Night Live from a few years ago was the quick "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey segment they used to run. Getting ready for the trip to Eastern Kentucky this morning made me have several deep thoughts of my own.

First does Jack Handey still do these - answer yes. He like everything else in this world can be found on the internet. Here is one I thought was funny.

Next does every collegiate soccer game end up with at least one team showing zero on the scoreboard - answer yes (at least on Friday in the Ohio Valley Conference). Part of that included Eastern's 0-0 tie with Morehead State in which the Panthers had two overtime chances by Ashley Streid.

My other ponderings all have to do with things yet to come like will EIU win its first football game on Saturday at EKU. Will the men's soccer team knock off Missouri State for a second straight year. Will volleyball pick up its second OVC win against Tennessee Tech. And will women's rugby shutout Michigan. For the last couple of those you can find out in person if you head up to the EIU campus for weekend events.

Saturday 2 p.m. - EIU men's soccer vs. Missouri State
Saturday 2 p.m. - EIU volleyball vs. Tennessee Tech
Sunday 11 a.m. - EIU women's rugby vs. Michigan
Sunday 1 p.m. - EIU women's soccer vs. Eastern Kentucky

Saturday night at 6 p.m. - listen live to the EIU-EKU game or watch on ESPN3.com. You can also join us for a live in-game blog on our website www.eiupanthers.com

Final house keeping note is the women's volleyball recap on Friday night against Jacksonville State, EIU fell 3-1.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Things To See In A Lifetime

When you pose the question name 10 things you would like to see or do in your lifetime everyone would have a different list, but some surprisingly would be the same.

One such item that was never really on my list happened yesterday afternoon as Roy Halladay tossed a no-hitter as the Philadelphia Phillies shut out the Cincinnati Reds in the opening round of the National League Divisional Series.

While you may say a no-hitter is not that big a deal (269 total), there have only been two ever thrown in the baseball playoffs. The other was Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. By the way that perfect game got Larsen into the Baseball Hall of Fame despite a career losing record.

In my collegiate career I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the places in the United States that most normal folks only dream about heading to. From walking on the beach in Hawai'i, to traveling down the strip in Vegas, to sledding in the winter in Alaska.

This year athletes from EIU have also had the opportunity to hit unique destinations and here are a few(some already happened, some are still to come).

1.) Walking in the pink locker room at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium
2.) Playing and walking through historic Harvard University
3.) Competing at Oregon's historic Hayward Track Stadium
4.) Women's basketball playing in Miami, with a possible side trip to South Beach

Know Your Opponent - Eastern Kentucky

Today we quickly look at this week's football opponent Eastern Kentucky on our weekly check of Know Your Opponent.

But first a couple of congratulations to EIU athletes who collected top conference honors earlier this week.

From women's golf Lauren Williams was named the OVC Golfer of the Week after she finished in 7th place at the Butler Fall Invite. The women's team placed 7th overall at the event which took place on Monday and Tuesday while the men placed 8th.

Also earlier this week senior EIU punter Kevin Cook was named the National Special Teams Player of the Week, he won the OVC award on Sunday.

Our final housekeeping note before looking at some facts about EKU is that EIU indoor track released its 2010-11 schedule. The first meet in about two months away.

Now on to know your opponent this week for the 6 p.m. (Central) kick off between Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky. The contest will be part of the OVC Game of the Week package carried locally by WEIU TV and also broadcast on ESPN3.com

1.) EKU is the only team in the OVC to have won an FCS National Championship claiming the honor in 1979 and 1982. Both titles came under legendary coach Roy Kidd.

2.) The teams were known as the Maroons until the early 1960's. EKU still uses Maroon as one of its primary school colors but has since adopted the Colonels and Lady Colonels as the school mascot.

3.) Lee Majors - the Six Million Dollar Man - graduated from EKU and actually played football briefly for the school before an injury ended his athletic career.

4.) Dan Patrick - of ESPN Fame - played two years of college basketball at EKU before transferring and earning his degree from another university.

5.) EKU is one of 20 universities in the nation that has a major in Professional Golf Management

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Missed Opportunities

Life is full of missed opportunities like looking back on that first little kid crush or as an adult deciding should I have done this or that for a living. Sports is also full of missed opportunities that seem to play out on a more frequent basis.

On Sunday both EIU soccer teams fell 1-0 (men & women) on the road and you can bet both coaches would tell you about how this shot or that one could have been the difference in the match.

The Panther football team can also looked at missed opportunities they might have missed that would have made the difference in either of their recent home losses. EIU had two red zone chances that ended in field goals instead of touchdowns during a 28-13 loss to SEMO.

The other missed opportunity will be Panther fans that never had the chance to meet former player Cameron Brosseau who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Saturday morning. Brosseau played for EIU during Coach Spoo's first couple of years at EIU and was working as a detective in the Indianapolis police department. Our condolences go out to his family.

Other EIU news from the weekend includes women's rugby picking up a shut out win over Minnesota and volleyball falling in three sets at Austin Peay on Saturday.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Everyone Gets An Opinion

Take any subject out there and everyone gets or has an opinion on it. Now their opinion may not be right based on which side of the fence you are sitting on, but still they get one.

That comes to mind as I was reading the paper today and noticed that the Associated Press has listed their top 12 football movies. Now some of them would make my list, but some surely would not. One movie on the list is a Marx Brothers comedy called Horse Feathers. Now I have never seen this film, but guessing that it is black and white, my take is that most people would have the opinion that a six-year old recently told me. "I like the cartoons much better in color."

As for Eastern Illinois it has created a little room for opinions also as the Panthers will start freshman quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the second straight week. The first time starter was okay for his first collegiate start but what is going to stir those opinions is that former starter Brandon Large came off the bench in the final 6 minutes and looked like a world beater. People must remember that Large was the starter for the first three games when EIU averaged 8 points per game and ranked third to last in the nation for third down conversions - so only time will tell which direction is the better one.

Now for quick recaps of Friday night action. Cross country had a successful trip to the Notre Dame Invite. The Panther women placed 7th in a solid field with Olivia Klaus and Erika Ramos posting Top 20 times. The men placed 10th.

Both EIU soccer teams found themselves on the wrong side of one-goal decisions. Men's soccer fell 1-0 at No. 13 Creighton while women's soccer fell 2-1 at SIU Edwardsville. Volleyball also lost on Friday night at Tennessee State by a 3-1 score.

For those that can not make it to Charleston for Saturday's Family Weekend football game with Southeast Missouri, the game can be seen on ESPN3.com on computers around the world.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Get Ready For A BBQ Celebration

What do you get when mix one of the leading Funk Bands of the late 1970's and pop bands of the early 1980's. Well this weekend you get Kool and the Gang in concert in Lantz Arena for Family Weekend at Eastern Illinois.

Unfortunately when Family Weekend falls on campus many EIU teams seem to be on the road. This weekend only the football team on Saturday at 1:30 pm against Southeast Missouri and the women's rugby team on Sunday at 11 am against Minnesota will be around.

While they are home they can have the debate of what is the best number preformed by Kool and the Gang. (My personal favorite is Get Down On It - see clip below). You can pick from my favorite, Celebration, Jungle Boogie, Ladies Night and for the slower song set Joanna and Cherish - just to name a few.

Now for the remainder of the EIU calender of teams on the road. EIU volleyball will at Austin Peay and Tennessee State... maybe the team can make a stop by Jack's BBQ on Broadway for a pre-game meal. Men's soccer hits Creighton and UMKC so since we are talking BBQ you have to hit Arthur Bryant's in KC.

Women's Soccer is at SIUE Edwardsville and SEMO this weekend and while I don't know BBQ place in either location I do know you can hit 17th Street BBQ in Marion on the way to Cape Girardeau. Cross country rounds out the fall teams in season with a Friday afternoon stop in South Bend at the Notre Dame Invite. We found a listing for a Frankie's BBQ in South Bend but since I have never been I can not give you a recommendation on that one.

One final note on tonight's blog is a link to a story I saw about a Florida HS coach being suspended for doing a good deed. Sometimes it shows that common sense and rules don't always go hand in hand.

Know Your Opponent - Southeast Missouri

Before we get into this week's volleyball know your opponent - let's get you up to date in the world of EIU athletics over the past couple of days.

First EIU women's volleyball picked up a conference win over Murray State on Tuesday to improve to 1-2 in the OVC. The Panthers hit the road to Austin Peay and Tennessee State this weekend.

Men's and women's golf continue their fall season action. The EIU men placed 7th at the DePaul Invite but junior David Lawrence who finished 7th overall was named the OVC Golfer of the Week. The women's golf team placed 3rd at the SIUE Tournament.

Now quickly to a couple of know your opponent facts.

1.) The SEMO coaching staff is comprising also entirely of Nebraska alumni. Head coach Tony Samuel was a member of Tom Osborne's first recruiting class and the Redhawks like to run the ball.

2.) The school is located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri which is nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was founded in 1873.

3.) Famous alumni of the school include Rush Limbaugh (radio talk show host) and Cedric the Entertainer.

4.) The student newspaper the Capaha Arrow was firt published in 1911 and is one of the oldest college run newspapers in the country.

5.) Until January 2005, the athletic team nicknames were the "Indians" (men's teams) and "Otahkians" (women's teams).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How About Them Apples

It's amazing how quotes from movies seem to be inspiration for many things in life and the same seems to be true on a regular basis right here for the EIU sports blog.

Ohio Valley Conference action is now underway for football, women's soccer and volleyball and in some sports it seems as if the universe has been turned upside down.

In football action EIU was picked to finish second in the OVC race. Now I know that the Panthers had some question marks coming into the season but I don't think anyone could have predicted an 0-4 start. Most figured at worst this would be a 2-2 team four games in. On the flip side, Southeast Missouri this week's upcoming opponent is off to a 3-1 start and leading the OVC at 2-0. It will be interesting to see what type of spoiler role EIU can play the remainder of the year.

The EIU volleyball team is off to an 0-2 start in OVC action. While its not the end of the world in that sport, as the top six teams make the OVC Tourney, it does make the road ahead a little bumpier. EIU played OVC front runner Morehead State on Friday and lost in five sets to Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. They play Murray State on Tuesday and an 0-3 start to conference action is not how head coach Kate Price would like to get started.

The Panther women's soccer team split on their road trip with a 1-0 win over Jacksonville State on Sunday. Points in the OVC standings on the road are always a plus as the Panthers will continue road action next weekend.

Men's soccer is still gearing up for Missouri Valley Conference action but the Panthers had their recent win streak snapped with a 1-0 loss to Western Michigan on Sunday.

Women's rugby got back on the winning track on Saturday with a win over Northern Iowa. They will have upcoming home contests against Minnesota and Michigan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Slow Start To OVC Action

Friday night marked the start of the Ohio Valley Conference season for both the Panthers volleyball and women's soccer team. Unfortunately both started with one in the loss column.

Volleyball fell to Morehead State in four games. MSU was picked to finish at the top of the OVC. The Panthers will host Eastern Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Lantz Arena. The match follows the EIU football game at 1:30 p.m.

Women's soccer fell 1-0 at Austin Peay as the Lady Govs improved to 9-2 and appear to be much better than their predicted OVC lower half finish. The team continues the road trip on Sunday.

Tomorrow will be Hall of Fame Day at EIU. Be sure to check back tomorrow for an update on the hall of fame inductees.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sports Quotes and Sayings

Watching the Miami and Pitt football game tonight, ESPN continued to drop in previews of the upcoming sequal to Wall Street - the Michael Douglas hit from the 1980's.

While Gordon Gecko's famous line in that movie has been repeated a gillion times - "Greed is Good", they kept hitting me over the head with "Some people have good luck, some people have bad luck" which made me start to think about other famous sports quotes/sayings and how they might relate to some EIU team's in action this weekend.

The easy one is Yogi Berra with his "It Ain't Over Til It's Over Quote" which I think you would have to attribute to the Panther football team whose season may be on the line with a game against No. 4 Jacksonville State on Saturday. Throw in the fact that one of Yogi's relatives is kicking field goals for the Panthers and it goes together as well as spaghetti and meatballs.

After talking with members of EIU volleyball team and seeing how they work extremely hard at daily practices I found this one by author unknown. "There is no glory in practice, but without practice, there is no glory..." EIU opens conference action on Friday night at 7 p.m. Come help pack Lantz Arena.

From the movie "Miracle" which describes the US Hockey Team's 1980 Olympic Gold Medal run I found - "When you put on that jersey, the name on the front is more important then the name on the back." I think I would attribute that to the EIU women's soccer team which has made the OVC Conference tournament every season the event has been in existence. Through three different head coaches and countless line-ups, the name on the front still carries a sense of pride for each of the players who put on the jersey. EIU opens a run for the OVC tournament on Friday evening on the road.

Another practice related one from an unknown author is "Don't practice until you get it right. Practice until you can't get it wrong." I think this hits home with the EIU women's rugby team as they continue to work on perfecting their craft and despite a 30-match win streak being recently snapped, the work on the practice field has not dropped off. They look to start a new streak this weekend at Northern Iowa.

For the men's soccer team I had to find another Yogism (because you can't have just one if your doing sports quotes) ""It's like deja vu all over again." That fits for this season as EIU is playing its final season in the Missouri Valley Conference and will return to the Summit League next season. By the way EIU helped found the Summit League way back in the day when it was the Mid-Continent Conference. The Panthers will be home on Sunday hosting Western Michigan.

Finally despite them having an off weekend cross country will be tossed in this bunch with a quote from Steve Prefontaine - "You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Jacksonville State

Our weekly look at the know your opponent segment as the Panthers prep to host No. 4 ranked Jacksonville State on Saturday at O'Brien Field. It will be Hall of Fame weekend for the Panthers with the induction of five former athletes and one friend of athletics.

Before we get to that congrats to EIU men's soccer on picking up a third straight victory with a 1-0 win over IUPUI. Today's match was a non-conference meeting between two schools that will be Summit League rivals starting next season. EIU is now 3-3 on the season.

Now for a couple of quick facts about this week's opponent.

1.) Jacksonville State's mascot is the Gamecock... JSU joins the University of South Carolina as the only two school's with Gamecocks as a mascot.

2.) Country music group Alabama lead singer Randy Owen went to school at JSU. My personal favorite Alabama song is "Dixieland Delight".

3.) 1995 Miss America Heather Whitestone went to school at JSU... She was the first Miss America selection who was deaf.

4.) JSU recently expanded its football stadium to seat 24,000 fans. The stadium is now the 12th largest on campus FCS stadium. Georgia State and Tennessee State lead the list but both play at NFL stadiums, the next school on the list is Yale which plays in the historic Yale Bowl with a capacity of 64,446.

5.) In the Fall semester of 2011, JSU will begin to offer their first doctoral degree, Doctor of Science in Emergency Management.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hall Of Fame & Reality

First off we apologize for taking two days off from the EIU blog but we are back. Sitting around watching the reality shows on TV the last couple of nights it made me think is there really any better reality than athletics.

EIU women's soccer picked up a tie with Western Illinois as the Panthers prep for Ohio Valley Conference action which starts this weekend.

Volleyball continued its solid start to the season with a Monday night win over WIU. EIU will play at home on Friday night against Morehead State to open OVC action.

This weekend also marks the EI Club Hall of Fame induction which will include former soccer star Beth Liesen and former volleyball star Erica Gerth. Additional inductees will be Willie White and Kevin Staple from football, Kelly Waldrup from softball/women's basketball and friend of atheltics Jerry Myerscough.

Congrats to EIU men's goalkeeper Sean Molony who was named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week while Olivia Klaus was named the OVC Female Runner of the Week.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good Wins & Rough Days

It was a mixed bag for Eastern Illinois athletics on Saturday as the Panthers found some success in some sports and fell a little short in some others. By the way we just got back from Martin, Tenn., were entertained by a little lighting show that lit up the sky with some brillant colors most of the way home.

Any way on to the sucess stories of the day. EIU picked up a 2-0 win in men's soccer at DePaul to earn its second straight victory. Sean Molony had 14 saves for the Panthers in the win.

EIU women's volleyball had a split on the final day of competition at the Pittsburgh Tourney. EIU beat St. Francis but lost in five games to Bowling Green. A 2-2 weekend record gives EIU a 6-5 record to open the year. OVC action starts on Friday evening at home against Morehead State.

Football had a disappointing loss at UT Martin as the Panthers are now 0-3 to start a season for the first time since 1999. EIU finished that year 2-10. The Panthers held a 7-0 and 10-7 lead in the first half but went a fourth straight game without any second half offense. EIU hosts No. 4 ranked Jacksonville State next Saturday.

Women's rugby had maybe the most shocking result of the day as they lost 17-5 to Grand Valley State. Not sure if the loss or the five points is the more shocking result.

More from the women's soccer front from Western Illinois tomorrow.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Let The Games And Blogs Begin

Ohio Valley Conference play starts for EIU football tomorrow at UT Martin as the Panthers will look to rebound from an 0-2 start. Be sure to follow along on www.eiupanthers.com for live in-game blog.

This new in game blog is something that is being used in select matches and games after starting last week with women's soccer. The live in-game blog will be active for both of EIU's volleyball matches tomorrow at Pittsburgh along with at the football game.

Speaking of volleyball they had a solid showing during the opening day of the Pitt Tourney winning the opener in three sets over Robert Morris before falling in three sets to No. 9 ranked Washington. Volleyball opens up OVC action next Friday hosting Morehead State at 7 p.m. at Lantz Arena.

EIU women's soccer gave up two second half goals as they fell at Miami of Ohio. EIU plays at Western Illinois on Sunday.

Cross country rounded out the teams in competition on Friday. The women placed 5th in a 40 team field while the men were 10th among 39 teams. Olivia Klaus was the top runner placing 13th in the women's race.

More action tomorrow on the EIU Blog as team's continue to be on the road again. For some light reading material here is a summer recap of EIU's players in Minor League Baseball.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Road Trip Anyone

This weekend marks one of the rare weekends in Eastern Illinois athletics that all of EIU's fall teams are on the road. In fact the only home event is a softball fall exhibition contest with Heartland Junior College on Saturday at 10 a.m.

So today we give you a little insight as to where the Panther teams are heading - just in case you want to rack up some AAA miles or put your GPS to the test.

We talked about the football team's trip to Martin, Tenn. during yesterday's know your opponent blog, so if you really need to know more about that part of western Tennessee, then scroll down the page.

EIU cross country kicks off the weekend with a trip to the Illinois Intercollegiate which is hosted by Illinois State. You can't go wrong with a trip to Bloomington/Normal - capital of State Farm Insurance and the home of the original Steak 'n Shake. Of course the original Steak 'n Shake location is now a Monical's Pizza. Sort of like the original Jimmy John's being a hair cutting place in Charleston.

Of course some places stay in the same location like the original Wendy's still located in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Speaking of Columbus the EIU volleyball team passed through there earlier Thursday en route to a weekend tournament in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is truly one of the nicest cities to look as you approach, it just hits you as you exit the Fort Pitt Bridge and see it sitting on the Allegheny Plateau, where the confluence of the Allegheny River from the northeast and Monongahela River from the southeast form the Ohio River (thus the Three Rivers).

EIU will play on the Pittsburgh campus where the current student union building sits on the site of the former Forbes Field. The left field wall still stands with a plaque designating the spot where Bill Mazeroski hit a game winning home run in game seven of the 1960 World Series. The original home plate is shown under glass in the union entry way.

On Saturday night men's soccer heads up I-57 to play DePaul in the Windy City. If we were writing this blog in other parts of the country we would go in-depth about Chicago but since most of our fans have been there or are from there - they already know what they love about the town.

Women's soccer will play in two different locations with a Friday contest at Miami of Ohio which is located in Oxford, Ohio and then on Sunday at Western Illinois. Miami of Ohio was the original cradle of football coaches with legendary alumni such as Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Weeb Ewbank, Jim Tressel and Ara Parseghian but in recent years EIU has adopted the title of Cradle of NFL Coaches with three alums coaching current NFL teams.

Women's rugby rounds out the travel list with a match at Grand Valley State in Michigan on Saturday. GVSU is located in Allendale by the way which is about 15-20 miles west of Grand Rapids heading towards Lake Michigan.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Know Your Opponent - UT Martin

Eastern Illinois football will open Ohio Valley Conference play this Saturday against UT Martin but before we get to this week's edition of Know Your Opponent a couple of housekeeping items.

EIU men's soccer picked up its first win of the season on Wednesday afternoon at Lakeside Field on Zach Piekarski's goal in the 84th minute. The win moved EIU to 1-3-0 on the year as they play at DePaul on Saturday night.

Check out our complete weekend calendar of EIU events on tomorrow's blog. If you are looking to put some miles on your car there are plenty of Panther options.

Now for this week's opponent UT Martin - EIU makes its first trip of the season down the OVC Turnpike (pretty much I-57 from exit 190a until you hit I-24) all but two schools in the OVC are reached by traveling this route.

Now for several facts to know about this week's opponent.

1.) UT Martin's most famous alumnus has gained her fame on the hardwood - we are talking about Tennessee head women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.

2.) The school actually began in 1900 as a Baptist Junior College called Hall-Moody Institute.

3.) For many year's the sports teams were known as Pacers - We think a Pacer is some sort of racehorse or so the definition says on the USC Aiken website as they are now called the Pacers.

4.) The University of Tennessee Botantical Gardens are located just across the street from UT Martin.

5.) One way to travel to Martin is via the City of New Orleans Amtrak which will pick up you up in Mattoon at 11:13 p.m. and drop you in Fulton, Ky. (16 miles from Martin) at 3:14 a.m. in the morning. You could continue to ride the train and be in the Big Easy by 3:32 p.m.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some Days You Feel Like A...

How does that old Almond Joy & Mounds candy bar commercial go... Some days you feel like a nut, some days you don't....(see the You Tube clip below if you are too young to remember this or if you want to feel nostalgic)

Today seems to be one of those days on the EIU Blog so we will keep this pretty short and toss out some much deserved congrats to EIU sports teams and individuals.

First off congrats to Matt Feldhake and Olivia Klaus for being named the OVC Cross Country Runners of the Week. Feldhake won the EIU Panther Invite last Friday while Klaus was fourth. Cross country back in action this Friday at Illinois State.

EIU women's golf got off to a solid start to its fall season with a third place finish at the WIU Westerwind Classic. Emily Calhoun placed 7th in the field.

In other EIU sports housekeeping news please join us at Lakeside Field on Wednesday for the regular season home opener for EIU men's soccer. They take on rival Western Illinois at 4:30 p.m. Also here are links to the women's tennis results from Northern Illinois and the photo gallery link to Sean Payton people have been looking for.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rugby Wins 100th Match

Congrats to the EIU women's rugby team for winning its 100th match in program history on Sunday at Lakeside Field as they easily defeated Notre Dame 59-0. It marked the 29th straight win for the Panthers dating back to the 2007 season.

EIU women's soccer suffered a heartbreaker at home on Sunday losing 1-0 to UMKC in a match that the women's squad dominated in most statistical categories.

As expected EIU football fell out of the Top 25 poll. So after ranting and raving last week about EIU's plummet after losing to FBS No. 9 Iowa, it really doesn't make any sense to complain this week as I expect the Panthers to remain unranked. In fact EIU will probably have to beat UT Martin next week in the OVC opener and then beat a top five ranked Jacksonville State squad to get back into the rankings and playoff picture.

At least for all of EIU's teams the preseason is really just a warm up for conference play. The football team still has its playoff future in front of it as do all of EIU's teams that currently play in a league.

Also congrats to EIU alums Mike Shanahan and Sean Payton on winning their opening weekend NFL games. Unfortunately they were playing against EIU's two other NFL active representatives so EIU was 2-2 on the opening weekend of the NFL.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Golden Opportunity

Eastern Illinois football had a golden opportunity to secure a nice non-conference win on Saturday during its home opener. Unfortunately that opportunity was not to be as EIU committed five turnovers during a 37-7 loss to Central Arkansas.

With the loss EIU fell to 0-2 on the season and will open Ohio Valley Conference play next week at UT Martin. While the season is not lost, the margin for error just became slimmer as EIU most likely will have to win the OVC automatic bid to make the FCS playoffs in back-to-back years.

On the flip side congrats to EIU volleyball for picking up a big win over Clemson at the Michigan State tournament. The Panthers finished the tourney at 1-2 but a nice win over an ACC opponent is always welcome. EIU is now 4-3 under first year head coach Kate Price.

Home action is on tap tomorrow at EIU with women's soccer hosting UMKC at 1 p.m. at Lakeside Field with women's rugby hosting Notre Dame at 3 p.m.

Thanks to all the Panther fans for attending today's football game including a strong showing from the Panther Nation Student Group. The chants and cheers for Sean Payton were much appreciated and I think the Super Bowl winning coach had a good visit back to campus.

Look for EIU to fall from the FCS top 25 polls as several teams pulled upsets of FBS opponents including James Madison shocking nationally ranked Virginia Tech.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wins Come At Home On Friday

On a Friday full of Eastern Illinois action the couple of wins for the Panther sports teams came at home as both women's soccer and men's cross country won their matches.

The EIU women's soccer team won 1-0 in the final minute on a penalty kick by Kristin Germann marking the second time this season that the sophomore has knocked home a game winner via penalty kick.

The EIU men's cross country team had a strong showing winning the EIU Panther Invite in both overall and double dual scoring. Junior Matt Feldhake was the overall men's event winner.

The EIU women's cross country team also posted a strong effort with sophomore Olivia Klaus placing fourth overall. The women placed second in overall scoring and only lost in double dual scoring to North Dakota.

The EIU men's soccer team suffered an overtime defeat at IPFW which will become a conference foe for the Panthers next season when EIU joins The Summit League in soccer.

Volleyball suffered a loss in opening day action at the Michigan State Tourney. EIU will face Michigan State and Clemson on Saturday.

EIU men's and women's tennis also started play as individuals this weekend with a full recap of their efforts coming later this weekend on www.eiupanthers.com

Tomorrow will be a big day at O'Brien Field as the Panthers will play their home opener in football against Central Arkansas at 1:30 pm. Sean Payton will have his No. 18 retired at halftime of the game. Tickets are available at the gate and if you don't live in the immediate area you can listen live at www.weiuhitmix.com

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Weekend Chalked Full Of Events

If you are one of those people who live by the calendar in your Blackberry, then get ready to set it and spend the weekend on EIU's campus for a home weekend full of sports.

The Panthers will have four different sports teams at home this weekend while a handful of others will have road action. To read a preview about your favorite Panther sports team check out www.eiupanthers.com and click on your favorite.

The home slate begins at 4 p.m. on Friday with women's soccer sitting at 2-3-1 on the season hosting Belmont at Lakeside Field. Just about the time the first half is wrapping up the EIU cross country team will start the EIU Panther Invite with the women running a 5K at 4:45 p.m. and the men running an 8K at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton will be on campus for the Panthers home opener against Central Arkansas. Game time is 1:30 p.m. and you can purchase tickets at the gate or in advance by calling 217-581-2106.

On Sunday the home weekend wraps up with women's soccer at 1 p.m. at Lakeside Field. As that match is ending the women's rugby team will look to make it 28 straight wins when they host Notre Dame at 3 p.m.

Hope to see you on campus wearing the Blue and White.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who Ha! Home Football Is Back

Just got done watching Scent of a Woman which has some absolutely great Al Pacino quotes. While it will not get you quite as fired up as he pregame speech from Any Given Sunday - does make me think Who Ha! EIU Home Football is back this Saturday.

The Panthers will host Central Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at O'Brien Field. Tickets can be purchased by calling 217-581-2106 or online at www.eiupanthertickets.com. Oh by the way Sean Payton (yeah, the one who coaches the New Orleans Saints) will be back on campus to have his No. 18 retired.

Before we do our weekly know your opponent section on Central Arkansas - a quick congrats to women's rugby for running their win streak to 28 straight wins with a 75-5 win over Purdue. EIU will be at home on Sunday hosting Notre Dame at 3 p.m.

Tomorrow's blog will quickly go over all of this weekend's sporting events.

Know your opponent Central Arkansas.

1.) UCA is a member of the Southland Conference which features schools in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

2.) Yes for you Chicago Bulls fans this is the same Central Arkansas that produced Scottie Pippen.

3.) Their women's sports teams are known as the Sugar Bears.

4.) Famous alumni include winners of American Idol - Kris Allen and Survivor - Natalie White.

5.) Central Arkansas currently has two players in the NFL - Larry Hart with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Jacob Ford with the Tennessee Titans.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Understanding The Polls

Today's post is about understanding the FCS polls or my inability to understand how people vote. Eastern Illinois dropped five and six spots in each of the two major FCS polls released on Monday. This was following a 37-7 loss at No. 9 Iowa (that's number 9 in the big boy polls for those that did not follow along).

Evidently a loss to the No. 9 team in the country does not warrant the same credit as a win over a non-Division I school or a blow out loss to an unranked FBS team. I'm not saying tht EIU should have moved up in the poll or that a one or two spot was not warranted based on what happened but to drop the Panthers five and six spots behind teams that did not play schools at even the FCS level is absurd.

Jacksonville State made a giant leap after its win over FBS member Ole Miss and deserved every bit of that. The received nine first place votes for their double overtime win at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Oh by the way Montana which white-washed a below average Division II team received a majority of the first-place votes to move up to No. 1.

Also North Dakota State which beat Kansas 6-3 did not receive a single first place vote. Now I understand that this was not a victory over the Jayhawks basketball team but still holding a Big 12 team to three points is quite the feat. The Bison could only manage to crawl into both polls at No. 21. UMass which beat FCS No. 4 William & Mary was able to leap past North Dakota State in both polls. So I'm guessing a middle of the road BCS school is now not considered a better win than beating a ranked FCS program.

Normally the rule of thumb among FCS voters has been to drop a Top 25 FCS program only one or at most two spots when they lose to an FBS program. Here are this week's victims in the poll.

No.1 Villanova lost to Temple (31-24) and dropped to No. 2
No. 6 Richmond lost to Virginia (34-13) and dropped to No. 7
No. 7 Elon lost to Duke (41-27) and dropped to No. 8
No. 8 Stephen F. Austin lost to Texas A&M (48-7) and dropped to No. 10
No. 11 South Carolina St. lost to No. 16 Georgia (41-10) and dropped to No. 15
No. 13 Eastern Washington lost to Nevada (49-24) and dropped to No. 17
No. 19 Weber State lost to Boston College (38-20) and dropped to No. 20
No. 18 Eastern Illinois lost to No. 9 Iowa (37-7) and dropped to No. 23

Now while the moral of the story may be to play opponents of a lesser caliber to give yourself a chance that is not always the option or the philosophy some schools adhere to.

My other pet peeve is just tossing schools in the during your final couple of spots to complete a poll. Does Indiana State getting its second win in four years really warrant them receiving votes from any one. (No offense to the Sycamores which picked up a win over St. Joseph's College - that's in Indiana).

Finally kudos to new Sports Network FCS director Craig Haley for doing a projected bracket for the FCS Tournament. In his first go round he had both EIU and JSU making the field with the Panthers playing a Dec. 4 game at William & Mary. Will be interested to see where the bracket goes this week.

Just so I appear fair I have posted my weekly Top 25 votes below as I am one of the many voters in the Sports Network poll.

Rank Team
1 Jacksonville State
2 North Dakota State
3 Villanova
4 Massachusetts
5 Montana
6 Southern Illinois
7 Appalachian State
8 Richmond
9 Elon
10 South Dakota State
11 William & Mary
12 South Carolina State
13 New Hampshire
14 Eastern Illinois
15 Stephen F. Austin
16 McNeese State
17 Delaware
18 Northern Iowa
19 Weber State
20 Prairie View A&M
21 Eastern Washington
22 Holy Cross
23 Penn
24 James Madison
25 Northern Arizona