• The football team worked out for almost two hours Sunday in brutally hot conditions. The temperature was around 103 with 70 percent humidity. Head coach Chris Thomsen stressed to his team in his post-practice how impressed he was with their work in what he later said was the "hottest practice" in his four years as the Wildcats' head coach. He also made sure to remind them that early in the season they'll face days when the temperature will soar into the 90s with high humidity. One of those games he stressed was the Aug. 30 season-opener at Northwest Missouri State. Although I'm sure the Maryville Chamber of Commerce will have the city nice and toasty for our arrival in late August, Sunday was pretty mild (high 80s) with a humidity index of around 75 percent.
• The Wildcats' two new offensive tackles seem to be gelling with the rest of the unit pretty quickly. Trevis Turner and Tony Washington are two of the key factors for the Wildcats on offense this season, and Thomsen has been impressed with both so far. In fact, he said Washington might be one of the most physically gifted linemen he's had the opportunity to coach.
• Bernard Scott is the unquestioned starting running back on this team, but don't think the Wildcats' ball-carrying skill ends there. Senior running back Taber Minner – who two years ago was a first team all-LSC South Division performer with a 150-yard playoff game to his credit – has been impressive early in the summer drills. He appears to have lost about 10-15 pounds from last year and has those quick feet back. And don't forget Chancy Campbell, who was a second team all-LSC South pick two years ago. He's back after redshirting last year and has also run the ball well. The Wildcats will have no shortage of ball carriers in 2008.
• The Wildcats will practice Monday and Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. for two hours each day before their first two-a-day workout on Wednesday (8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. practices). They'll practice just once Thursday and the scrimmage Friday morning before departing for Dallas and the Promise Keepers rally. They'll be back to a 4 p.m. practice next Sunday before three days of two-a-days the next week lead them up to the first day of school (Aug. 25).
• For those of you looking for the ACU media guide on the ACU athletics Web site, your wait is almost over. The 148-page book goes to the printer Monday, which means we should have .pdf's of the guide on the Web by Tuesday morning. Volleyball and women's soccer media guides should go to the printer by Friday, which means those should be available on the Web site by the first part of next week.
• ACU head volleyball coach Kellen Mock welcomed her full squad back to campus on Sunday with the team's first workout scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday. The Wildcats (click here to read '08 season preview) were 15-14 overall last year, but Mock believes that with nine returning players – including all-region players in Shawna Hines and E.J. Moronu, as well as three other all-LSC players – the Wildcats should again challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid.
• Also reporting Sunday was the women's soccer team, which gets started with practice Monday morning. The Wildcats' first game will be Aug. 29 in Missouri against Missouri Southern State College. Head coach Casey Wilson needed to go out and get some quicker, more physical defenders, and he believes he's done it. ACU was picked to finish seventh in the LSC pre-season poll, but don't be surprised if they're not in the top four this year with a chance at an NCAA Tournament berth.
• In case you missed it, quarterback Justin Pitrucha has been dismissed for good from the Southeastern Oklahoma State athletics program. Pitrucha missed the 2007 season, allegedly for academic reasons. He then missed most of spring training after he was arrested and charged with a felony: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 2,000 feet of a school. Pitrucha could have been sentenced between four years and life in prison.
However, late last week a woman, who says she was at the apartment when Pitrucha was arrested, admitted to bringing large amounts of the marijuana. That, combined with the fact that Pitrucha had allegedly just arrived at the apartment when he was arrested, convinced the prosecution in the case to accept a lesser misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana. Pitrucha received an 11-month suspended sentence, meaning the 21-year-old won't be serving any prison time.
But he also won't be back on the football field this year, at least not for the Savage Storm. The Southeastern athletics department released the following statement on Saturday:
"After reviewing the situation concerning Justin Pitrucha, we have determined that he will not be a member of the football program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University this year.
"This was a very difficult decision and one that was not taken lightly. We certainly wish Justin the best and are confident that he will be successful in his future endeavors.
"At Southeastern, we hold our student-athletes to very high standards and expectations. The bottom line is that we have acted in what we believe to be the best interests of our student-athletes, our program and our university."
Southeastern head coach Ray Richards will now have to choose between a fifth-year senior and several true freshmen as the starter for the Savage Storm in 2008. The Wildcats will be in Durant, Okla., on Sept. 20, to take on the Savage Storm in a game set for a 6 p.m. kickoff. ACU has outscored Southeastern 92-17 in the last two seasons (51-14 in 2006 and 41-3 in 2007).