McCue: Hammock’s fidelity to UW promising sign

first_imgWhen Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock announced he would return to the Camp Randall sidelines next season, Bret Bielema & Co. avoided more than simply the hassle of interviewing and selecting yet another new coach. Hammock – widely considered one of the Badgers’ top recruiters and one of the pre-eminent young position coaches in the country – was one of the candidates for, most likely, the same position for NFL’s St. Louis Rams. Although there is no official evidence that the former Northern Illinois tailback was offered the job, it seems quite likely that he was, since the Rams are still searching for a coach and reported his interview went “very well.”Many fans were already writing off the talented coach, who was one of just three members of Bielema’s staff from last season who would return in 2012, as an unfortunate byproduct of the Badgers’ notable success between the hash marks. With former UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst darting for Pittsburgh and carting former tight ends coach Joe Rudolph and former linebackers coach Dave Huxtable with him to the East Coast, the turnstile that was the Wisconsin coaching staff was one of Badgers’ fans top concerns this offseason.The loss of Hammock would have only added to the worrisome turnover levels, but the coach’s renewed commitment to the Badgers further acted as a sign that Madison is no longer just a temporary stop on the route to the top but rather a final destination for nationally-recognized coaches. No longer is Madison known for the nostalgic playing days of Ron Dayne that garnered Wisconsin football national attention at the start of the 21st century.Although both ended with tears sliding down the faces of UW’s stars in Pasadena, back-to-back Rose Bowls remain an undeniable sign of a top tier program. Hammock, who drew the Rams’ interest after serving just one year as Wisconsin’s running backs coach, clearly believes the Badgers will continue to expect BCS Bowl appearances and play accordingly.After being hired last February, the Jersey City, N.J., native’s words on the strength of the running back tradition at Wisconsin now appear more genuine than ever before.“Like I tell recruits, ‘What better place is there for a running back than Wisconsin?’” Hammock said. “I feel the same way as a coach. What better place for a running back coach than Wisconsin”?It sounds like a cheesy line to pump up the ego of a talented four-star running back, but it also reflects on the fact that Wisconsin is developing into and deserves to be a primary option for fleet-footed ball carriers across the nation.Analysts and fans alike may point out that Wisconsin football has made its name on the run-heavy offenses that crank out 1,000 yard rushers every season. It’s no surprise, then, that a running backs coach wants to stick around at a school where he can laud every recruit with the powerful line that they could be the next Montee Ball, who rushed for 1,923 yards and a still hard-to-believe 39 total touchdowns this season. In that view, one of the nation’s best up-and-coming college coaches turning down an NFL job only reaffirms that the Badgers boast one of the most recognized rushing traditions in the country.However, with the jump to the pros, Hammock would have seen a significant pay increase and set himself up nicely for consideration for NFL offensive coordinator openings farther down the road. Instead, he chose to stick with a premier Big Ten program that continues to creep deeper into the national landscape and, much like Chryst in the past, wait for the perfect opportunity.Loyalty to the school where he worked as a graduate assistant in 2003 and 2004 only carries so much weight in big-time decisions like whether to take an attractive job alongside NFL sideline giant Jeff Fisher. Ultimately, the decision for Hammock undoubtedly came down to “what is the career outlook of staying in Madison compared to heading for the Gateway Arch”?Piling onto the ever-growing stack of evidence that Wisconsin is an alluring place for the top coaches in the country is that the Rams turned to the Badgers in the first place when looking to fill a void on their own coaching staff. If UW was not building an elite program, NFL teams simply wouldn’t attempt to hire away its premier player developers.John Settle, Wisconsin’s tailbacks coach from 2006-2010, was similarly lured away by the NFL’s Panthers to take over the same spot in Carolina, establishing a pipeline between Camp Randall and the pros in which Badger fans should take pride.The threat of losing one of the few lasting sources of stability in Hammock may have been nothing more than a momentary scare for Wisconsin fans hoping for another Big Ten title-producing 2012 campaign. But, they must remember that even though such moments first appear to lack any favorable angle, these situations are an unfortunate effect of the glorious climb to college football’s peak.Convinced Hammock only stayed because he felt like he owed it to Bielema, or wanted the chance to guide Montee Ball to a Heisman this season? Let him know by tweeting @imccue.last_img read more

SU blown out by Harvard, 4-0

first_imgA string of one-touch passes had SU’s defense on its heels. Once Harvard’s Sophie Hirst snuck past the backline, center back Abby Jonathan’s only option was to impede Hirst’s straight shot at the net. Jonathan earned a yellow card and Hirst earned a penalty kick with 38 minutes left in the match.Goalkeeper Jordan Harris guessed correctly, but Hirst’s penalty shot was too elevated for the transfer to deflect. The goal gave Harvard a 1-0 lead and opened the floodgates.After playing even in the first half, defensive miscues and penalties led to four Harvard goals in the final 45 minutes in a 4-0 Orange (2-2) loss to the Crimson.Ten minutes after Hirst’s penalty kick, Harris mishit a clearance which led to an easy goal from Harvard’s Trinity Thomas, her first career goal. With 21 minutes left, Harvard was rewarded another penalty shot, which was promptly buried by senior Leah Mohammadi. To make it 4-0, freshman Taylor Nielsen lasered a shot from 30 yards deep into the top left corner with 15 minutes remaining.Prior to this game, SU had surrendered just two goals in its first three games. In Harvard’s previous two games, both loses, it had failed to score.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU struggled to generate quality scoring chances all game, despite controlling most of the possession in the first half. Harvard outshot Syracuse 16-9.The game made SU’s goalkeeping situation interesting. Harris, who has started every game so far, recorded three saves and allowed three goals — two of them penalties. Lysianne Proulx, who subbed out Harris with 19 minutes to go, allowed one goal. Proulx also made two acrobatic saves and cut down the angle on a one-on-one chance, forcing a shot wide.The loss was the first of four road games for the Orange, who stay in the Greater Boston area for the weekend and will play Northeastern on Sunday. Comments Published on August 30, 2018 at 6:26 pm Contact Danny: [email protected] | @DannyEmermancenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Small changes with big impact

first_imgBy Anita Snow THE ASSOCIATED PRESS HAVANA – With Raul Castro in charge, Cuba has raised payments to milk and meat producers, is paying off its debts to farmers and has stopped blocking the import of parts needed to keep vintage cars rumbling along. Travelers can even bring in DVD players and game consoles, highly coveted by Cubans starved for high-tech entertainment. Raul’s ailing brother Fidel is still showing leadership behind the scenes, and as provisional president Raul has taken only small steps. But he’s already giving clues to how he might govern once he takes full control – paying special attention to quality-of-life problems, publicly scolding state managers and bluntly acknowledging that salaries don’t cover basic needs. The new Chinese buses on intercity routes are evidence of the Raul effect. They were in the planning before Fidel got sick, but they have become much more visible since Raul gave a speech late last year saying he was sick of hearing bureaucrats’ excuses and wanted results. To boost food production, lawmakers agreed in June to pay producers 2 times more for milk and meat included in the island’s heavily subsidized ration program and in meals provided at similarly low-cost workplace cafeterias, schools, hospitals and community centers. The prices consumers pay will remain the same. At the same gathering, National Assembly members were told that the state had just paid off debts worth $23 million to the small farmers and cooperatives that grow two-thirds of the island’s fruits and vegetables, and renegotiated $35 million in other debts. The change is evident in style too. Where a Fidel speech could devote hours to communism, his brother’s oratory is much more short and direct, and Cubans love his public attacks on government failures. But 76-year-old Raul is only a caretaker president, and officials insist that 81-year-old Fidel will be back. And as long as Fidel is alive, no one thinks Raul will dare to make big moves that could annoy the older brother he has loved and admired since they were boys. Thomas Fingar, the U.S. deputy director of National Intelligence, told the U.S. Congress in June that while the Cuban public has high expectations of improvement, “Significant, positive political change is unlikely immediately.” As caretaker president, Raul has “very limited running room,” said Cuba analyst Phil Peters, of the pro-democracy Lexington Institute think tank outside Washington. “He seems to be looking for small practical things that can make Cubans’ lives easier.” Cuban exiles in Miami are consumed with rumors that Fidel is dying or dead. But Cubans on the island rarely mention him nowadays – they’re already more focused on what Raul, Fidel’s constitutionally designated successor, will do. They were pleased to hear him confirm on television that state salaries fail to cover basic necessities, and some even cheered when Raul delivered a slap at inefficient state managers by commenting sardonically about government farms infested with a fast-growing, thorny bush called marabu. They nodded knowingly as Raul publicly questioned why all Cubans, not just children under 7, aren’t guaranteed milk in their monthly food rations. They also noticed that the milk comment was dropped from the official transcript of the televised speech. On a personal level, Cubans were moved to see Raul appearing to choke back a sob after kissing an urn containing his wife’s ashes at her state-televised funeral in June. Cubans have never had such a personal glimpse of Fidel, who does not appear in public with his family. Authorities insist the brothers are united, and bristle at suggestions Raul is more open to change than his brother. They note that Fidel also hinted at reforms in November 2005, when he acknowledged that if government corruption and inefficiency are not controlled, “this revolution can destroy itself.” Dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe wrote in an essay e-mailed to international media that he suspects government hard-liners are worrying that possible changes could undermine their legitimacy. He also noted that just five days after Raul said he would be open to discussing improved relations with a new U.S. president, Fidel wrote that the United States – “the empire” – would never negotiate with Cuba. In the past, Raul expressed interest in China’s model of a market economy in a one-party state. But Vice President Carlos Lage says Cuba won’t copy that model. “The countries now working to build socialism in different parts of the world,” Lage said, “are doing so in situations very different politically and economically from ours.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more