Links: Pivotal series for baseball at Rutgers
Lots of links to share, but we'll start with USF baseball, which as we speak is opening a three-game series at Rutgers, which is 7-2 in Big East play and one game back of the first-place Bulls. Rutgers baseball coach Fred Hill needs two wins to get 1,000 for his career, so USF's goal is to keep him from that milestone.
USF shortstop Sam Mende has played much of the past month with his broken jaw wired shut, wearing a special facemask while batting and still making ridiculous plays in the field. That's nothing compared to the challenges off the field for four weeks. USF's Joel Godett -- entirely off camera -- has a cool six-minute video of Mende going to get his jaw unwired: everything from how he lost 24 pounds in a month while unable to eat solid foods to the actual dentist-chair unwiring. Godett uses the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Peaches" for background music. I can't believe that in the middle of all this, Kate Winslet can break up with the guy. No, wait, that's Sam Mendes.
-- Joel and I often wind up chasing much the same stories at USF, and his video work often complements what I'm writing. If you liked the Sam Barrington story in today's paper, here's Godett's video on the "alternative spring breaks" taken by Barrington and USF walk-on receiver Tyler Stowell.
-- Draft links: The Miami Herald opens its state roundup with USF and a clever "Bull market" headline.
-- USF has released dates for its "Around the Horn" tour, with stops in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties, plus Lakewood Ranch.
-- JPP did a three-minute interview with Jay Crawford on ESPN.com, talking about his penchant for back flips (or back handsprings, yes) and his relative inexperience in football. ESPN.com's Pat Yasinkas has a good profile on Pierre-Paul as well.
-- Rivals.com's David Fox has a feature on Skip Holtz's first spring at USF and what's ahead for the Bulls.
-- Somehow ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi is already forecasting the field for next year's NCAA Tournament -- he has just 65 in the field -- and he has eight Big East teams making the cut. Georgetown's a 2-seed, West Virginia and Pittsburgh 3s, Villanova and Syracuse are 4s, Notre Dame a 6, Marquette an 8 and Louisville a 12. Subject to change once the season actually starts ... in six months.