McCollum's Column: James Madison's knockout, Hokie connection and Heisman

We’ll start with the debacle Friday night in the “Battle of the Patriots” and offer some tidbits of “David’s Appetizers,” assorting musings on the sports scene:

James Madison vs.
Sam Houston

James Madison crammed a large dose of Sam Houston’s own medicine down the Bearkats’ throats in the FCS quarterfinals in the cold Friday night at Harrisonburg, Va.

The Dukes went vintage Rhonda Rousey on the previously unbeaten Bearkats in the 65-7 romp, the second-largest margin of victory in an FCA playoff game in history.

The score was 42-0 at the half in a method of domination that Sam Houston has applied to opponents in the first half all season.

Sam Houston, out of sync from the beginning, was thoroughly whipped in every phase of the game, including mentally.

A few more observations:

* The Bearkats’ overall schedule was weak and they hadn’t been tested for four quarters until they squeaked past Chattanooga the week before in the first round, which was an indication of vulnerability.

* Historically, Southland Conference teams are not built as physical “cold weather” teams, which is an essential at playoff time. When SLC teams have played in the colder climates, they have not fared as well. Most SLC teams are finesse teams, based on the available recruits in the region, rather than power teams.

* James Madison is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association (Richmond, Villanova, New Hampshire, Stony Brook, Towson etc.), which is arguably the second-best FCS conference in the country next to the Missouri Valley Conference.

* The margin and style of the James Madison victory over an dominant, unbeaten Southland team will likely keep the league in the middle of the pack for future playoff seeds. Turns out undefeated Sam Houston’s controversial No. 5 seed was justified.

Virginia Tech

When Virginia Tech takes on Arkansas in the Belk Bowl, there will be a Conway connection for the Hokies.

Steven Campbell, son of UCA head coach Steve Campbell and who served as a graduate assistant for the Bears last season, is Quality Control assistant for the Hokies.

James Shibest, a former star receiver for the Hogs, is special teams coach.

Williamson

Matt Williamson, who left Stephen F, Austin as defensive coordinator after this season as part of a shakeup of head coach Clint Conque’s staff, is the new head football coach at NCAA Division II Missouri Western, his alma mater.

Williamson was well-respected and well-liked when he served as DC on Conque’s former staff at UCA. Good to see him land on his feet.

Heisman

My vote went to Lamar Jackson of Louisville. No player was a bigger factor and more dominant for his team, the best individual player and certainly the most exciting. My other votes went to Oklahoma quarterback Baker Maxfield and Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, who carried teams on their backs during some frustrating times. I liked Foreman’s passion about how he said he was playing to save coach Charlie Strong’s job.

Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net

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