Randomly overcoming greatness

August, 28, 2008

On the eve of the season opener, we present to you the coolest offseason nugget of the year. It's about one-time Penn State wideout-turned-DB Mark Rubin, who according to Cory Giger has quite the claim to fame: He actually beat the amazing Michael Phelps in a bunch of swim meets:

Rubin, a senior from Amherst, N.Y., was an elite youth swimmer and eight-time All-American in the water. He raced Phelps between the ages of 12 and 14. ''He was from Baltimore…and swimming sort of goes by regions,'' Rubin said, ''so the whole northeast would swim against each other for the bigger meets.''

Rubin was one of the nation's finest swimmers in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Phelps excelled in almost every event, like he does now, but the short sprints were his weaker ones. ''Those were the events that I actually did beat him in,'' Rubin said. ''Pretty much every other event he beat me.''

A buddy of mine I found out long after first meeting him, had struck out Barry Bonds in a college baseball game, which was a lot better than my high school friend who sacked Al B. Sure in a high school football game.

I think this tops both of them for randomly overcoming greatness.


• It has been an unusual path for 24-year-old LB Mike Balogun into Oklahoma's starting line-up, Jake Trotter writes.

"Balogun's journey began eight years ago when he decided not to play football his junior or senior year at his Maryland high school. After graduating in 2002, college wasn't available for him because of grades. Nor was football, at first. So Balogun began working in construction to help support his young daughter. A year later, however, several of Balogun's high school buddies were trying out for the Maryland Marauders. He decided to join them."

Balogun came to OU though Lackawanna JC, the same junior college that produced another impressive football talent with an odd background, former Miami LT Bryant McKinnie.

• Chad Jones will literally be all over the field for LSU this year, according to Randy Rosetta:

Whether it's in the nickel or dime pass defense packages, when the Tigers need an extra cover man or even if he slides up to linebacker, Jones will be a focal point of the game plan. "I definitely want to be a starter, and in my heart I think of myself as a safety, but as long as I'm on the field a nice little bit like I have been, I know I can play a big role for us," Jones said. "I've learned more about our defense, so I know where to be at the right time no matter what position I'm playing."

I remember being at the LSU-Ole Miss game last year and the 6-3, 220-pound Jones was such a force on special teams, the Rebels went from trying to double-team him to triple-teaming him on kick coverage and he was still giving them problems.

• I'm not feeling so confident about picking VT over ECU if Macho Harris can't play.

• There is a story about Charlie Weis in today's NY Post, which I found interesting especially in light of the recent ND press conferences where the Irish coach makes a point of not addressing anything to do with 2007.

I get why Weis would do that, but a lot of this story is loaded with quotes about why things were so dismal last year. I suspect Weis sat down for this interview long before that recent press conference:

"There was one game last year when we had 11 freshmen starting … and I'm not counting red-shirt freshmen," Weis said. "That is not an excuse; that's just reality. The thought methodology was, 'Let's get the best guys on the field regardless of their age and get them experience.'"

Also, you can call it however you want, whether that is an explanation or an "excuse."

• Even though there's been a lot of hype about freshmen Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis and Devin Thomas, it's junior Cordera Eason who is Ole Miss' starting TB David Brandt writes:

I'm not surprised by this at all. The old Ole Miss staff was very high on Eason, but struggled to find the opportunities to get him work. The two backs in front of him Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Bruce Hall are both in NFL camps now and were more advanced. Eason is a power runner, like Green-Ellis but has more shake to him. The downside is that he had battled fumbling problems early in his career.

• Jim Harbaugh is really rolling on the recruiting trail, Greg Biggins writes.

• Former Notre Dame QB Zach Frazier is eager to get back on the field for UCONN, writes Nick Ironside:

"I can't wait," he said. "It's a dream come true. Coming out of high school, you want to go to college, you want to play ball. And then in the future you want to make it to the NFL. But right now I'm working on playing in college, and I can't wait for that."

• ASU's Ryan McFoy has gone from safety to LB, reports Dan Zeiger.

• 1-AA upset call: JMU over Duke?

• Will Miami be fortunate to win six games this year? That's Jorge Milian's take.

• Senior wideout Robert Dunn, Auburn's most experienced offensive player, was demoted to the fourth-team offense Tuesday, Jay G. Tate reports. Tuberville didn't discuss specific circumstances surrounding Dunn's behavior, but made it clear the Georgia native had taken a lax attitude toward some responsibilities. That's a direct road to the bench. "Even our older players can find out very quickly how important it is to be consistent," Tuberville said. "You can't rest on experience. You can't rest on, 'Hey, I've been here.' You'd better play and you'd better perform."



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