Nebraska Needs to Legalize Gay Marriage

same_sex_marriage_ban_in_nebraska__giacomo_cardelliby Jason Dannelly
It’s my hope that in the coming days U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon will overturn Nebraska’s ban on gay marriage.

There. . .I said it.

Anyone that knows me understands I don’t particularly like writing things that are controversial. I enjoy discussing my views with people that are close to me and don’t often venture outside of the world of sports and comedy when it comes to the written word. Mostly because I understand that once you write something, it’s there and it’s not going anywhere.

Since 1998, I’ve considered myself a journalist. I had been working in radio and when I was in college I got the opportunity to begin writing a column every few weeks in the local Blair, Nebraska newspaper. Not a college paper, an actual for profit paper. Since then I never really wrote anything that wasn’t sports related or involved some sort of comedy or entertainment.

The main reason was because of my fear that my actual opinions on “real life situations” would alienate what few readers I actually had or anger people that I worked for. Continue reading

Remembering Brad Fossberg, The Rimington Banquet and The Fight Against Cystic Fibrosis.

Brad Fossberg

The view I had of Brad every morning for two years.

This Saturday the Rocco Theater will fill up with people who adore sports and are infatuated with college football for the annual Rimington Trophy Presentation.

People much like Brad Fossberg.

They’ll want to listen to Hall of Fame Coach Bobby Bowden speak. They’ll rise and applaud the official honoring of Reese Dismukes of Auburn as the nation’s top center with the Rimington Trophy. The event itself is something I absolutely love attending and I’m certainly not a “banquet” person. The underlying message, the reason for everyone getting together will be to spread awareness about cystic fibrosis and raise funds for finding a cure for the disease.

For the last few years I have helped to select the Rimington Award for the DI-FCS, DII, DIII and NAIA levels of college football. Basically I reach out to experts and scouts at each level of college football, review film and narrow down the candidates before selecting the winners of each division. I was honored to be asked and the selection process is something I take great pride in being a part of every year. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly Selects Winners of the First Round of the NAIA Football Championship Series

10339739_1703721843187182_1827114446610379474_nWe’ve been on the “road” for so many years that its odd for me to envision a “race” to the NAIA National Championship. Especially given the driving conditions I had cross country the last few years getting to Rome. Although two buses stranded on I-75 in Georgia and the stories from all those involved is still one of my favorite memories from 2010.

But this year the NAIA will embark on the first of three title games in Daytona Beach aptly title the “Race to Daytona.” Previous incarnations of the game saw us on the “Road to Savannah” and the “Road to Rome.” The racing moniker fits the host and also the attitude of several of the NAIA’s best who are definitely in the fast lane towards the NAIA title game. (See what I did there?)

It’s so tough for me to pick any major upsets in the first round of the NAIA Football Championship Series in any given year. Typically if you select the chalk, you are bound to get five or six of the eight games correct. Last year the only upset was Tabor defeating Benedictine in the first round (11 over an 8). In 2012 there were two upsets, same with 2011.

But that’s not to say the NAIA postseason doesn’t go without it’s occasional craziness. In 1998, five underdogs garnered victories in the NAIA’s opening round of the championship series seeing the No. 1, No. 2, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 teams in the county knocked off in game one of the postseason. This led to a national championship game where the No. 8 Azusa Pacific Cougars won their first national championship game over the No. 11 Olivet Nazarene Tigers. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly Predicts the 2014 NAIA Football Championship Series Qualifiers

Dustin Rinker

Carroll College RB Dustin Rinker. (Helena IR Photo)

Every year this moment in the season comes and every year it’s like my version of X-Mas. There’s nothing better in my world than seeing 16 NAIA football teams advance to the postseason and letting the craziness begin.

This year, the craziness might have started a week earlier than usual. Morningside, Southern Oregon and Georgetown College both all on the final day of the NAIA football regular season changing the perspective of the NAIA postseason immensely. That’s three of the NAIA’s top five teams falling, making the new No. 1 team in the NAIA Carroll College

Being rated in the Top 2 and Top 4 are probably the two biggest factors in making the NAIA Championship Game. Top 2 (as long as you put in the bids) guarantees you home field advantage through the semis. Top 4 obviously gives you the same advantage until the semifinals which many will argue is the most important. Given the Thanksgiving holiday, no one wants to be on the road that weekend and traditionally the home teams have had a much higher rate of success than the road teams during the Turkey Day weekend.

Before predicting anything we have to know the facts. Who won, who lost and who is a conference champion. Remember, all conference champions rated No. 20 or higher earn an automatic berth. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly: A Look at the Final Week of the NAIA Football Regular Season

10339739_1703721843187182_1827114446610379474_nEarlier this week I had intentions to write a conference by conference breakdown of who is in and who is out of the NAIA Football Championship Series. But as life would have it this week has been much busier than normal. Something about a trip to Minnesota, a snow storm and another job kind of got in the way.However, the NAIA wrote a great breakdown of the final week of the regular season. You can read that article here.

The number one thing everyone needs to remember is this: Conference champions rated #20 or better get automatic berths to the postseason. If you are a conference champ and rated #23 in the final poll, you are out of luck. If you are conference co-champs and you are rated #21 and the other team is #15, you are on the outside looking in.

The magic number to remember is 20.

So who am I talking about specifically? Langston, Reinhardt, Saint Francis (Ind.) and Webber International. All of these teams can either win or have part of a conference title by winning this weekend. However, they will all need the help of a lot of other people outside of their control if they are going to make it to the postseason. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly: Two Weeks Left Until the NAIA Football Regular Season Ends

Brandon Wegher of Morningside

Brandon Wegher of Morningside

My first year covering the NAIA as a true national journalist was 2002. I knew the teams and the conferences, kinda. And I knew who was good, sorta. But when this time of year came around I found myself scrambling to try to figure out what the heck was going on in each conference. I made bold predictions that made me look like an idiot and I guaranteed outcomes that I had no business commenting on.

12 years later . . . not much has changed!

The NAIA postseason is taking shape. If you want to be a part of it, don’t have three losses. It’s been nearly impossible through the years to make the postseason with three losses, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen.

Where we see the exception is typically in conferences where teams are forced to play a lot of games outside of their league schedule. The Central States Football League is the most notable in this department and unless Langston wins out they will be left without a postseason rep once again. The Lions are 5-3 and finish up against Bacone and SAGU, the next best teams in the league over the next two weeks. Continue reading

Former NAIA RB Doug Wasylk Gained A Son But Lost His Wife. Please Donate.

Doug and Elise WasylkThis week I will not be writing a review or preview of what’s going on in NAIA football. Sometimes, tragedies happen that touch you and remind you that even though we take college football very seriously, in the end it is just a game.

One of my favorite NAIA football programs has always been the University of Saint Francis (Ind.) because of the type of young men on their teams and how well they were coached. There was never a shortage of stars. Players of the year nationally, conference players of the year and countless NAIA players of the week were all over the rosters through the years.

But for every star, there were 15 blue collar kids working their butts on to bring them glory. That’s the very basis of NAIA football and that’s what Doug Wasylk of the University of Saint Francis exemplified. Wasylk was the type of NAIA RB I loved to watch. Tough, gritty and one that would NEVER give up. In his career he rushed for over 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns and played alongside a couple of superstar NAIA running backs.

Right now, Doug needs everyone’s help.

Recently he was blessed with the birth of a son, Tucker Dean Wasylk, but in the process of birth he lost his wife, Elise. All the families are going through a tough time right now. In order to ease the financial burden in these tough times, a Go Fund Me account was set up by a close friend of Doug and Elise.

Please donate and spread the word. I cannot think of a more deserving person in this world to receive unconditional support from everyone, including strangers. When I see a former NAIA athlete going through a major tragedy like this I can’t help but think of all the other people out there willing to donate and help out.

Please, spread the word and help a person in need. http://www.gofundme.com/gbgv74

****Update as of 8:00 CT on 10/27/14 – 50K raised for the Family****

Thanks – Jason Dannelly

Jason Dannelly: How I Became and Remain a Lifelong Fan of the Kansas City Royals.

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The Dave Dannelly Family

A couple years ago I was in Kentucky covering an NAIA football game. The Yankees and the Red Sox were locked up in their first postseason skirmish that would later result in the Red Sox coming back from behind in the series and eventually moving on to win their first World Series since 1918.

During the course of that night one Athletic Director was pretty frustrated. Somehow, he was an avid Yankees fan and was taking every pitch personally that night. At one point I thought I was going to have to drive him home because he was so inconsolable after the loss.

Innocently I asked, “How are you, an AD in Kentucky, a fan of the Yankees?”

His reply, “Because I like winners and the Yankees have always been winners. Who do you like?”

“The Royals.” Continue reading

Jason Dannelly: NAIA Football Recap and Predictions for Sept 27th

I wasn’t lying went I said there were a lot of “trap games” in NAIA football. Not only did the No. 1 team in the country lose last weekend but a total of nine teams that were rated or receiving votes were upset by lower ranked or unranked teams.

Obviously the biggest shock was Grand View University losing to Marian. When I looked at all of the games last weekend this game didn’t even cause me to give it a second look. It had all the makings of another GV win, so kudos to Marian for upsetting the NAIA’s top team and causing a stir at the top of the rankings.

In the end, it makes the season a whole lot more fun when there are few different teams at the top of the rankings. Some of the best in the NAIA already have a notch in the loss column and I do not believe it discounts them as a team or takes them out of the running for a potential national title. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly: NAIA Football Review/Preview for Monday, September 8th.

Photo Courtesy of SOU Sports Information

Photo Courtesy of SOU Sports Information

Breath.

Just inhale . . .follow with an exhale.

It’s going to be okay.

The college football season is officially fully underway and from looking at the NAIA twittersphere one would think the season is over for some of these teams. Sure there were some pretty good upsets this weekend but overall it shouldn’t change your opinion on many of these teams quite yet.

Unless the injury bug bit your team hard this weekend because the name of the game in the NAIA is depth. Teams that have depth can survive a few bumps and bruises while teams that lack it will really struggle this year.

Early last week I said the game of the week was going to be Carroll College at Southern Oregon. The NAIA national office also officially gave the game that title and the Raiders and Saints did not disappoint. SOU defeated Carroll 38-35 as quarterback Austin Dodge found Victor Dean from 22 yards out with just seven seconds left to play in the game. The TD capped off a seven play, 80-yard drive that took just 1:23 to execute.

Dodge was impressive going 21-30 on the day for 281 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions but equally as impressive was Raider running back Melvin Mason who rushed 27 times for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Mason’s performance was easily the grittiest we have seen from a running back in a big NAIA game for quite a while. Continue reading