A teenager’s visit to the Hall, leads to sculpting the greats! By Paul Kenney
We begin this week with arguably the “best” pair of hands in football.
Fifty-Seven year old Blair Buswell only carried the ball once in his football “playing” days at BYU, and that was for two yards.
But since 1983, his talented hands have sculpted the busts of the last 84 players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The germination of his career took root from a visit to the Hall when he was a teenager. Looking at the busts, he marveled at their strength staring back at him.
And when he discovered that someone actually made the visages of these great players, he thought to himself, “This would be a great job to have someday.”
A typical posing session for a player lasts five to seven hours, and during that period the sculptor incorporates vintage photos into his work.
And when asked about his job, Buswell simply said, “I love working with my hands.”
This weekend, let’s see which teams play as if it has feet of clay, and which perform as such a high level, they seem destined for the Hall of Fame.
No.7 Michigan State at No.3 Oregon (FOX, 6:30 p.m.)The last time the Spartans faced such an ominous opponent the Athenians were staring across the Peloponnese Peninsula.
In arguably the showcase game of the year, the Big Ten with a victory, will elbow its way into the playoff conversation.
The Sons of Duffy Daugherty are directed by its resilient junior QB Connor Cook, with assists from starry tailback Jeremy Langford, and his Prudential sized (6’3) receiver, Tony Lippert.
But as always in East Lansing under Mark Dantonio, the MSU calling card remains its Fort Knoxian D.
Sparty’s “Green Curtain” is anchored by All-America end Shilique Calhoun, with assists from bookend Marcus Rush, and a pair of ball-hawking corners Trae Waynes, and Darian Hicks.
With apologies to Mel Brooks, and his classic movie “Space Balls;” Oregon moves in “ludicrous speed.”
The captain of this rocket ship is the Ducks dual-threat All-America, and Heisman Trophy candidate, QB Marcus Mariotta who tossed an eye-popping 31 TDs against 4 interceptions last season.
Road grading tailbacks Byron Marshall, and Thomas Tyner till the soil behind five returning o-line starters, anchored by its All-America center Hroniss Grasu.
When the Ducks take to the air, wideouts Dwayne Stanford, and Darren Carrington are high cotton targets.
The D featuring All-America corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, end Tony Washington, and tackle Arik Armstead must be better preventing third down conversions if Oregon is going to be playoff bound.
In a classic green versus green chess match, we’re going with the Sons of Phil Knight, who have a huge home field advantage at Autzen Stadium.
No.14 USC at No.13 Stanford (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) Unlike Thomas Wolfe, USC Coach Steve Sarkisian is living proof that you in fact, “Can go home again.”
If they can remain healthy, this Trojan team, directed by its bolt tosser, QB Cody Kessler, will be a Zeus-like force in the PAC-12 Conference.
The USC field general is assisted by tailback Javorius Allen, and glue-fingered wideout Nelson Agholor.
But it will be Southern Cal’s smothering D, anchored by All-America tackle Leonard Williams, with assists from backer Hayes Pullard, and safety Su’a Cravens, which will determine the heights of USC’s season.
In addition to the classroom, the Boys on the Farm have also aced its performance on the field.
The Cardinal flies on the arm of its QB Kevin Hogan, who is assisted by tailbacks Barry Sanders jr. (how’s that for pedigree?), and Kelsy Young.
The Cardinal leader also has a Linus-blanket target in field stretching wideout Ty Montgomery.
Stanford’s rebuilding D, featuring backer A.J. Tarpley, Escalade-sized (6-6, 295) end Henry Anderson, and safety Jordan Richards has more questions than a Calculus II exam.
For the Trojan faithful, the homecoming remains in the honeymoon stage, as USC aces its first big test.
Michigan at No.16 Notre Dame (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.) One tradition ended earlier this year when the powers to be, (geniuses?) ripped out Notre Dame Stadium’s natural grass, replacing it with turf. UGH!!!
By the way, one can purchase a piece of “actual” turf for the giveaway price of; $149.95. Oh those good fathers!!! Only in America!!
(That must bring a smile to the visage of John Henry, and his merry band of Fenway money makers.)
The other ending tradition is this classic rivalry.
The Irish are sadly saying; “Oiche mhaith agus codladh samh”, translation: “Goodnight, and sleep well,” to its Wolverine rivals.
It was ND’s choice, not Michigan’s. Ah yes, progress!!
But on to other matters.
The Coaching seat of Wolverine Coach Brady Hoke is hotter than the volcanic eruption on the Holuhrasn Lava Field located in Iceland.
Meeechigan’s attack is directed by it oft erratic QB Devin Gardner, who is assisted by tailbacks Derrick Green, De’Veon Smith, and quality pass catcher; Devin Funchess.
If The Big House is to have any special moments this year, and Hoke is to remain in the employ of the Maize and Blue, it is imperative that the Wolverines be able to run the ball.
On the defensive side, experience abounds, but none more so than its trio of backers; Desmond Morgan, Jake Ryan, and James Ross.
The Irish are back under the direction of its scintillating dual-threat QB, Everett Golson, who is assisted by tailback Greg Bryant, and Tarean Folston.
When the Irish go aerial, William Fuller, and Amir Carlisle are quality targets.
With the academic investigation ongoing, ND’s D took a significant hit, but backer Joe Schmidt, and tackle Sheldon Day, are quality disruptors.
It pains us to watch the direction of college football, in which conferences, and century old rivalries are tossed aside to grab a bigger piece of the almighty $$dollar.
That said, we’ll take the Irish, and its phony turf, to cash in the W.
Virginia Tech at No.8 Ohio State (ESPN, 8p.m.) Coach Frank Beamer’s twenty-eight year run rivals that of most US Senators.
But after an unprecedented eight year run of 10 or more wins a season, the mediocrity of the past two seasons (15 victories) has the Blacksburg faithful beginning to grumble.
The reins to the Hokie hoedown, which has been stuck in neutral the last two seasons, have been handed to Texas Tech transfer QB Michael Brewer.
The big-armed signal caller is assisted by tailback Shai McKenzie, and wideouts Isiah Ford, and Bucky Hodges.
But as always in Blacksburg, the football identity begins with the letter D.
And this year’s edition, led by tackles Luther Maddy, Corey Marshall, and All-America corner Kendall Fuller is constantly on the attack and hits harder than Smokin’ Joe.
With the season ending injury to its starry QB Braxton Miller, the two time offensive Conference Player of the Year, the Buckeyes, like that other great searcher, Diogenes, are looking for an identity.
Coach Urban Meyer has slotted r-shirt freshman QB J.T. Barnett into that breach, and the kid will lean heavily on tailbacks; Ezeckiel Elliott, and Curtis Samuel, as he indoctrinates into Big Ten Football.
When Meyer calls their numbers, wideouts Devin Smith, and Dontae Wilson, are comforting targets.
But if the Boys from Columbus are to make noise in the national picture, the D, particularly its line, anchored by All-America tackle Michael Bennett, his partner Adolphus Washington, and end Joey Bosa who will do most of the “I” dotting regarding the success of the Ohio State season.
On Saturday the Bucks sing “Goodbye Columbus” to its visitors from Blacksburg.
BYU at Texas (FS1, 7:30 p.m.) If the Cougs can hook the Horns, the Provo faithful will lift its voices in song.
Bronco Mendenhall’s bunch is directed by its dynamic dual-threat QB Tayson Hill, who like David Janssen, is better on the run.
The rest of the offensive cast tailback Paul Laske, and a trio of receivers; Mitch Mathews, Teren Houk, and Algernon Brown, are more like backup singers.
BYU’s “higher calling” is its stout D, which attacks behind backers Zac Stout, Bronson Kaufusi, and corner Jordan Johnson.
The new Sheriff in Austin, Coach Charley Strong, is intent on stamping his own brand on Bevo.
And with QB David Ash suffering what might be a career ending concussion, The Burnt Orange will turn to its sparingly used sophomore QB Tyrone Swoopes to fill the void.
Luckily, he can blindly rely on a pair of quality road runners; Malcolm Brown, and Johnathan Gray to ease the pressure, while receivers Jaxon Shipley, and John Harris are glue-fingered targets.
Despite the Keith Jackson “stumbling, bumbling” nature of last season’s D, hopes are higher for this year’s eleven, featuring All-America Cedric Reed, tackle Hassan Ridgeway, and safety Mykkele Thompson.
In Austin, Sorry Charlie, we think’s its BYU who brands Bevo with an L for loss.
Last week: 4-1. Season record: 4-1.
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap by noon on Sunday. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. pk