Pacific brings back football program after 19-year hiatus

first_img Florida State at Oklahoma Prediction: Oklahoma 27, Florida State 20 After narrowly escaping defeat at home against Utah State, head coach Bob Stoops and the Sooners will face a serious contender when they host Florida State. Florida State demolished its foe last week, Samford, 59-6. New Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher will have to shore up his run defense to make sure Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray doesn’t have free reign. Murray turned in more than 200 rushing yards in the close call last week. Penn State at Alabama Prediction: Alabama 23, Penn State 17 Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions will face a much tougher game this week. It will be interesting to see how Penn State’s true freshman quarterback, Rob Bolden, holds up against Alabama’s defense. Alabama was in fine form last week against San Jose State, but it too will face a greater challenge. This game will be close, mostly because the Tide’s Heisman winner, running back Mark Ingram, is still sidelined. No upset, but still a grind-out game. Comments Published on September 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm Miami (Fla.) at Ohio State Prediction: Ohio State 21, Miami 10 This is the first matchup between these two teams since the 2003 national championship game won by the Buckeyes. OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor looks to turn in another good game, after throwing three touchdowns in a romp of Marshall last week. Miami will need to prove it deserves its high ranking so far this season, but it will have its work cut out for it. Syracuse at Washington Prediction: Syracuse 23, Washington 20 Everybody knows about Jake Locker by now. How many times have we heard the phrase ‘Heisman candidate’? Syracuse looked quite good last week against Akron and should give the Huskies all they can handle, and perhaps more. If Ryan Nassib can keep the chains moving for the SU offense, the defense should be able to hold their own. For the first field goal ever by Pacific’s Jon Lee, everything went wrong. The snap came back wobbly. The holder promptly dropped the ball. As Lee came forward to kick, the ball laid on the ground horizontally. But Lee pushed through — sending the ball 26 yards through the field goal posts. ‘I’m still questioning myself on how I did it,’ said Lee, a Pacific senior. In that Sept. 4 game at Puget Sound, Lee played in his first football game ever and scored the first points of his career.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text The field goal also represented the first points Pacific has scored in 19 years. 19. In 2009, the University brought back its Division III football program after an almost two-decade hiatus and gave head coach Keith Buckley a year to put the team together. In the team’s first game, Lee kicked four field goals en route to a 36-19 loss for the Boxers. ‘Hopefully, next time we’ll have more touchdowns, so I won’t have to kick as many field goals,’ Lee said. At Pacific, Lee’s story of how he joined the program symbolizes how most players ended up on the team. Lee played collegiate soccer at Pacific for two years. He played in an intramural football league with some other students, too, just having some fun. At one intramural game, a friend told Lee that he had a great leg. ‘You might make a great kicker,’ his friend told him. When Buckley started putting together his team, Lee tried out. For Lee, the biggest adjustment to that point came when he began running in pads and a helmet. ‘I had never worn pads,’ he said. ‘I had never run in pads. So I had a little trouble.’ To build the program, Pacific plucked Buckley away from his assistant coaching job at UC-Davis. Both Buckley and his wife attended UC-Davis, and it looked daunting to pack up their lives and their children for something completely new, he said. ‘The biggest thing was that life-changing decision of leaving your alma mater, your wife’s alma mater, and jumping into something new,’ Buckley said. In the summer of 2009, Buckley and his family arrived at their new home. And Buckley quickly found that Pacific lacked any blueprints for constructing the team. ‘There’s not a manual for starting a football program,’ he said. ‘I pretty much dropped my bags and hit the road recruiting.’ Buckley traveled down the West Coast, trying to talk players into joining his program. He recruited from California, Oregon and Washington. He even made a seven-day trip to Hawaii, where 25 percent of Pacific’s student body comes from, including his current kicker, Lee. Buckley stuck to his recruiting timetable even in Hawaii, he said. ‘I didn’t even stick my toes in the water once — now that’s depressing,’ Buckley said. Buckley eventually won enough students over with his pitch. Pacific’s team would give them a chance to start as freshmen — no need to wait for playing time, Buckley would tell potential players. This summer Buckley started camp with more than 130 athletes. Now that number has dwindled to around 130. Division III schools accommodate larger teams because their players don’t receive scholarships. So far, so good, Buckley says. He has more time with his family, and it’s his team to build. He expects it will take about six to 10 years to build Pacific into a respectable program. ‘You don’t take this kind of task on if you expect to bounce in three years,’ he said. ‘I keep telling people that we’re putting our toes forward and just thinking about the future.’ Facebook Twitter Google+ Michigan at Notre Dame Prediction: Michigan 30, Notre Dame 27 One of college football’s best rivalries comes to South Bend, Ind., where these two recently down-on-their-luck programs will clash. Both teams hope to prove themselves this year, but if Notre Dame’s recent history proves one thing, it’s that the team lets its fans down in big games. New Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly got off to a good start last week, but don’t expect that success to continue as Notre Dame loses a heartbreaker at home. [email protected]last_img

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