I don’t know about you but I am really excited about Super Bowl Sunday and I am rooting for the Patriots. Why? Well, there is a strong mountain football connection.
As many of you know former Badger and Fresno State grad Cole Popovich (YHS 2003) was named as an assistant offensive line coach prior to the current season for the mighty Patriots. Cole’s hiring owes much to the respect of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for former Fresno State Head Coach Pat Hill.
There is a great read on Popovich’s hiring by Rich Hill of PatsPulpit.com back in July. Rich Hill reports that “(Pat) Hill knows his offensive linemen and Belichick respects his analysis. So when Hill recommended that the Patriots add Popovich to the coaching staff … Belichick didn’t wait for the season to end.” The Pats signed Cole prior to the playoffs in 2016.
Remember that Belichick drafted guard Logan Mankins (Mariposa 2000-Fresno State 2005) and picked up un-drafted center Ryan Wendell (Fresno State 2008) who played for New England from 2008 to 2015. Now Cole is poised to take over for longtime Pats offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, a 35-year NFL veteran and one of the great position coaches of all time.
It won’t be an easy game for Cole and the Pats. Yes, New England is favored by 3 points but Atlanta is on a roll. The Falcons will also be playing in an indoor environment at Houston’s NRG Stadium for Super Bowl 51. It’s basically an indoor stadium with a retractable roof. I think this favors Atlanta as they play on a similar surface.
They destroyed a Packers team that was also on a roll. But it’s almost sacrilegious to bet against Tom Brady and Belichick. The Patriots are experienced and are the greatest team of the modern era, if not of all time. I can’t wait.
Brown and Mumm at Reedley
Former Lady Badgers - guard Mattaya Brown and forward Kaley Mumm - are in their second season at Reedley Junior College. The Tigers are 5-2 in the tough Central Valley Conference and 12-8 overall this season. College of the Sequoias (19-3, 6-0 CVC) and Fresno City College (19-7, 6-1 CVC) lead the CVC.
According to the California Community College Athletic Association, Mumm is averaging 8.7 points per game and 4.3 rebounds. Brown is scoring 4.3 points per game along with 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals.
All the best to Mattaya, Kaley, and the Tigers, the rest of the way. The Tigers could secure a playoff berth and it’s great to see Badger grads being a big part of the success.