Thursday, August 28, 2008


For those who prefer to have their worlds revolve around football season, today is a very special day: the season begins--it's the Thursday appetizer before Saturday's meal.

As the Thursday game phenomenon has grown, more and more teams find themselves playing before the weekend gets here, and the Big South is riding that wave this season.

At 7:30 tonight, the Charleston Southern Buccaneers take the field against the Miami Hurricanes. If you're able to access it, you can watch the game unfold on ESPN360. The good news for CSU: "The U" is not expected to be quite as overpowering as in years past, and the 'Canes are also not defending the Orange Bowl turf any more (beginning their time in Dolphin Stadium rather than remaining in the older facility that had long been their realm of intimidation and domination).

Admittedly, there aren't too many folks who give the Bucs a ghost of a chance, but getting match-ups against FBS programs is all part of the Big South's growth (and learning) curve in football. For CSU, that meant last year's trip to Hawaii and next year's game in Florida's Swamp, in addition to facing the Canes. They're not alone: this Saturday, Coastal Carolina will enter Happy Valley for a good look at JoePa and Penn State! Gardner-Webb's trek to Mississippi State a year ago is another example. But hey, don't let yourself get caught in the habit of counting any of these teams out before kickoff--here's hoping all the boys of the Big South leave an impression on their voyages into FBS territory!
CSU is not the only one getting their hits in tonight; Gardner-Webb will face off against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at 8pm.

Elsewhere on the gridiron, in Saturday's action, we have the aforementioned CCU-PSU game (on the Big Ten Network), Colgate at Stony Brook (on The Big South EDGE from, North Greenville at Liberty (The EDGE), and Presbyterian at Wofford...VMI is idle this week.

We reported when the first few team previews were available on they're all can link to them from the Football Media Center page.

Changing gears, let's look at the other sports on the docket...

Volleyball is serving up its first action, and the preseason favorite is Liberty. The coaches' poll also named Shannon Sitzmann of Winthrop (pictured) as the Preseason Player of the Year (for the second straight season).

The men's soccer preseason poll returned Winthrop as a slight favorite over Liberty, edging the Flames by only one point overall. The coaches selected Daniel Revivo (pictured) of the Eagles as the Preseason Player of the Year. Revivo (along with LU's Joshua Boateng) can also be found on the watch list for the Hermann Trophy, awarded at season's end to the nation's top collegiate men's soccer player.

We already mentioned it in SHOUT, but in the interest of equal time, I'll remind you that the women's soccer preseason poll revealed Coastal Carolina as the early favorite and CCU's Ashleigh Gunning as the Preseason Player of the Year.

Well, I gotta sign off for today--enjoy the games...check out the available streaming games on The EDGE--and don't forget to get your Vortex so the Big South will be with you wherever you reside online!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Drawn Into The Vortex

Wednesday we noted the launch of the preseason football previews at PC's report came online that day--since then, we have seen the additions of VMI's 2008 overview along with the outlook for Charleston Southern. Keep checking the site for more gridiron goods in the coming days.

Now I want to say a word about the Vortex..."the what," you say?

First notice of this will hit the SHOUT readers
, with a big release/announcement from the Conference to follow on Tuesday, so you're getting a "soft launch" preview (see it right here in the column to the right of the posts).

The Big South Conference has partnered with Real Time Matrix to create The Big South Vortex, an active web element that puts "old-fashioned" widgets to shame and will allow you to take the Conference with you wherever you want to be on the web. Your blog or website, social networking pages, start-up page, or other spaces can all be fitted with their own copies of the Vortex--just click "Copy Me" and follow the instructions to tie in to The Big South Vortex (even copy and paste the HTML code directly into where you need it to go)!

The Vortex instantly becomes your personal, pocket-sized version of (and connection to) get headlines (scrolling RSS feed) and video clips, use single-clicks to reach the Big South Online Store or EDGE Video Streaming Source, plus hit the "Jump To" link menu connecting you to active sports, the SHOUT blog, and Conference features, in addition to other growing and changing elements that will keep the Vortex fresh all the time.

In short, this is cool.

So many things in cyberspace discourage you from copying them or putting them in your personal space--we are encouraging the practice! It's one more way to keep up with everything that's going on in the wide and wild world of the Big South Conference, so join us and get drawn into The Big South Vortex...

Before closing today's SHOUT, a quick note for some of our VMI fans upon the arrival of the team's season preview on the Conference site...we saw a couple comments posted about how SHOUT needed to show more love for Howard Abegesah (pictured at right), junior RB for the Keydets. Yes, guys, he is a great back--and you should check the Big South Football Preseason Video, because he does get his due in that presentation. At the same time, please remember that writing about Rashad Jennings and his preseason honors should not be considered as excluding Abegesah, merely as reporting facts from around the League (we can't write about everybody every day, after all). Besides, by the time he gets to the end of this paragraph, the 2007 All-Conference Second Team star and 1,000-yard rusher will have seen the name Abegesah posted on our blog three times!

Don't forget, the streaming calendar gets going just hours from now, featuring Old Dominion at High Point women's soccer (Friday 7pm), with three more games on the weekend slate: Wofford at HPU (WSOC, Sunday, 2pm), ETSU at UNCA (WSOC, Sunday, 2pm), and Clemson at Winthrop (exhibition MSOC, Sunday, 7pm).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Wayback Machine

We're about to do a little time-traveling, so prepare yourself...

First a quick peek at the present with an eye on the future:

Team-by-team football previews started today on with the Presbyterian College Blue Hose...a new piece will follow each day leading into the season.

The first video streaming game of the season is set for Friday the 22nd, a women's soccer game for High Point (hosting Old Dominion). Visit The EDGE, Big South Online Video Source, for more on available packages, game schedules, etc.

Now let's step into the Wayback Machine (itself a dated reference requiring a certain age or pop culture know-how, not to be confused with the internet archive tool that now wears the same name) see, the Big South is marking its 25th Anniversary--certainly you haven't missed that, right? The Conference has taken great pains to review its first quarter-century of success and will continue to provide an array of retrospectives in words and video presentations throughout the 2008-09 season. That being said, I thought perhaps SHOUT could take a moment and bring you all back to the world of 1983...

(pause for dreamy time travel transition here) we are. First confession: I'm old enough to properly remember the world of 1983. I was 13 at the time (and there's nothing like a good retrospective to make you feel your age, no matter what it is...or was), so it's a little awkward being here again. On the other hand, our students and student-athletes at Big South schools, generally speaking, have not yet been born.

Hey, if you brought your cell-phone with you, forget about getting a signal--there won't be any "bars" on your phone for a good many years yet (I won't try to explain the advent of car phones, bag phones, brick phones, and the array of antennae and accessories involved in the process, it's just not worth it).

Same goes for the internet, I'm afraid. That's pretty much limited to a narrow band of computer experts exchanging simple and limited data--the public has no idea what it is yet. Heck, Apple Computers just released its "Lisa" model (seen here), precursor to the Macintosh...and a bit of a bust. Lisa has a 5 megabyte hard drive (external), a pair of 5.25 floppy drives, a monochrome monitor, and a $10,000 price tag...and this is the cutting edge. On the other side of the computer wars, Microsoft has debuted the first version of Word, while IBM PCs now have some important new software in the form of Lotus 1-2-3 (think primitive Excel, kids). At this point, Windows are pretty much just things that let air into stuffy rooms. Oh, and Nintendo just released the first NES in Japan (Wii? Noo.)

Look at all the BRAND NEW STUFF for 1983, though: Chicken McNuggets, Hooters Restaurants, and Wheel of Fortune in syndication...surely none of that stuff will last, right? Maybe we could go catch a movie--if the line for Return of the Jedi is too long, we can try Flashdance, Scarface, Trading Places, Risky Business, or National Lampoon's Vacation...meanwhile, the radio is really playing an odd mix of Men at Work (Grammy's New Artist of the Year), Pat Benetar, Survivor, Toto, and John Cougar (before adding the Mellencamp)--and that's between all the songs from Michael Jackson's Thriller, of course.

A review of the news tells us NASA is breaking barriers--the first woman and the first African-American astronauts in the same year, both on the Challenger (a shame that the orbiter is three years from its destruction). The U.S. Embassy in Beirut has been bombed, American forces have secured the island nation of Grenada (flag at right), and President Reagan has signed the bill creating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

1983 saw the loss of icons like George Halas and Bear Bryant in sports and Tennessee Williams and Ira Gershwin in entertainment...time will only tell how significant the arrival of future sports personalities like Matt Leinart and Vince Young or musicians like Carrie Underwood and Amy Winehouse may be seen down the road.

Lastly, the sports world...looking over the year, we see that Hagler beat Duran (when boxing was still relevant to a good number of fans), the Orioles won the Series (honest), the Sixers took the NBA, the NFL had a quirky would-be competitor called the USFL, the tennis slams were won by names like Wilander, Noah, McEnroe, Connors, Evert, and Navratilova, and Wayne Gretzky was the Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP. Meanwhile in college sports, everyone's still talking about NC State's upset win at the basketball tournament...and another Southern upstart is finding its place in the world: the Big South Conference is born.

Whoops--time's up (so to speak), gotta go back!

(repeat dreamy time loop thing)

Wow, and we did all that with no flux capacitor...

Okay, it's finally 2008 again--gimme my iPod and my cell...thanks.

Now I have to check my e-mail and post something on the blog before updating our website and the video streaming data and--say, can I try that Wayback Machine again?!?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Football & Soccer Quick Hits

Can you feel the fall season getting closer?

Hard to believe, but games are less than two weeks from rolling out now!

Some notes to fill the void in the meantime:

--The Kansas City Chiefs did their best to spotlight the Big South this preseason, whether they know it or not. When KC topped Chicago 24-20 in the Chiefs' exhibition opener, one of the touchdowns was a Conference connection of second-year pro players: Coastal Carolina's Tyler Thigpen (8 of 16, 113yds--to lead all passers in the game, TD, INT) threw an eight-yard score to Charleston Southern's Maurice Price (2 rec, 33 yds, TD). Chants & Bucs--on the same side?!? But wait, there's more: Gardner-Webb's Brian Johnston also had a pair of solo tackles for the Chiefs!

--Liberty's All-Conference running back Rashad Jennings (pictured) earned a tremendous honor recently, as The Sports Network named him the upcoming season's best running back for the entire NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Bravo, Rashad!

--Women's soccer also gets out of the gate soon, and the preseason coaches' poll has arrived. The results: Coastal Carolina picked to lead the Big South in 2008, but not by a resounding margin. The Chanticleers were one of three teams (along with HPU and CSU) to earn three first-place votes from the League coaches (Liberty got the remaining vote), and CCU edged High Point by a point total of 90-83. Sounds like we should have quite a competitive year. Kudos to Coastal's Ashleigh Gunning (pictured) for picking up the Preseason Player of the Year award for 2008, adding it to her Player of the Year honor from the end of 2007.

--Anniversary Splash...I've seen a preview of a few of the Big South 25th Anniversary "Best of the Best" moment video vignettes: good stuff. That list has some great athletes, to be sure, but their stories also have some true emotions that will really reach out to fans of all teams and sports. Look for those to be available on starting August 25th!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Life on The EDGE & Web-O-Rama

Greetings from the Big South here on the echoing date of 08-08-08.

Things are moving steadily into the fall season--for an example, let's talk video streaming for a moment. The EDGE (presented by State Farm) is already bursting at the seams with games on the calendar. Last year, the fall sports combined for 156 events streamed live through This year the schedule already holds 215 events and is still growing as schools continue to add more games in volleyball, soccer, and football (plus a cross country meet, too). There's great potential for a huge year in video stream offerings--with the addition of two new schools and the experience of the original eight "stream-team" members, it should be possible to eclipse the 500+ live events of 2007-08 and surpass the 600+ mark (maybe by quite a lot).

With that set-up, I have to offer a shameless plug for The EDGE before moving on to anything else. If you haven't tried it, or have only limited experience with video streaming sports, consider this: you can have access to hundreds of live events, plus several hundred more recorded offerings On Demand(including archived games from past seasons) for a full year with an Annual Subscription of $79.95. Would you think twice about pay-per-view at merely 13-cents a game? That's just about what we're looking at with the full year deal. Of course, there are plenty of other packages out the season, by the sport, or by the game--and single game prices are the same as they were last year! We hope you enjoy catching all your favorites on The EDGE!

Time for Web-O-Rama!
Haven't done this in a while, let's take a tour around the Big South and see some website highlights...

*** Got eligibility left? Charleston Southern will be holding open tryouts for the volleyball team August 22nd! Read all about it at

*** Do you know what day it is? They do in Myrtle Beach: it's "Amber Campbell Day." The folks at Coastal Carolina share the celebration on behalf of their Olympian alum today (Friday, August 8th).

*** Gardner-Webb reminds us that football is not the only sport opening practice: women's soccer opened workouts this morning and GWU already has a photo album of the first day's practice!

*** High Point wants you to know all about the touch-ups and enhancements going into the Panthers' athletic facilities, like the facelift at the Millis Center (pictured).

*** You know, here's something we don't get to talk about much in the Big South: ice hockey. Liberty has club hockey teams (men and women) representing the Flames again this fall.

*** Here's a time-sensitive one from PC football: tickets still available for Presbyterian at Appalachian State, as the transitioning Blue Hose face off against the seemingly perennial FCS champs in Boone.

*** Add another Olympian for the Big South Conference and for Radford University: former Highlanders track standout Goran Nava will compete for Serbia in the 1500m.

*** Speaking of the Olympic Games, UNC Asheville has a first-hand account of trying to qualify for England's track team from UNCA sprinter Natalie Pearson.

*** Eight of the country's top military institutions will gather in competition at VMI for February's All-Academy Wrestling Championships. It will be only the second time in 15 years that VMI has hosted the prestigious event.

*** Winthrop continues to push itself against high-level hoops opponents--the Eagles recently announced they will be back in the Orange Bowl Classic near the end of December. Last year, WU downed Miami in the OB Classic; this season they will face the Florida Gators.

*** Finally, pay a visit to Stony Brook University, the Big South's Associate Member in football. I'm not picking an individual story here, I'm just suggesting you go and learn more about this new squad before they start bringing the pain against your favorite Big South team--they look pretty good, so don't overlook the "new guys"...with that in mind, we're also adding a blog to watch for the Seawolves: WUSB Sports.

Oh, and a SHOUT-out to Nic Bowman in the Big South Office, having a birthday this weekend!
Happy 40th, Nic! Whoa, just kidding...he's 27.

That's all for now--look for upcoming editions of SHOUT reflecting on the 25th Anniversary and offering more details on the launch of the fall sports season!