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Scouting out for Luckhardt

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007

Like a lot of people, California University football coach John Luckhardt will be watching Saturday afternoon's Ohio State-Michigan game.

Why won't he and his staff be in New Haven, Conn., that day where his first opponent, either Bryant or Southern Connecticut, will be knocking heads in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs?

"We're not allowed to go," he said. "It would be a violation of NCAA rules so no one would have a distinct advantage in the playoffs."

Even though Luckhardt won't be anywhere near New Haven this weekend, he doesn't have to worry about getting a scouting report on the rematch between the Bulldogs and Owls. Southern Connecticut won 56-28 Nov. 2.

"Both schools have already received our game tapes and we have theirs," he said.

A Purdue graduate and gridder, Luckhardt has mixed emotions when it comes to the Big Ten showdown in Ann Arbor.

"I know both coaches (Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Michigan's Lloyd Carr), my daughter Allison is a Ohio State graduate and this might be Lloyd's last regular season game," he said.

While spending Thanksgiving week and the holiday practicing may be new for California's gridders, it's not for Luckhardt.

"This is the 17th time in the NCAA playoffs over the last 35 years," said the Vulcans' coach, who previously coached at Northern Illinois, Washington and Jefferson College and Lehigh.

Despite going 11-0 for the first time in the school's history, California won't have the service of its leading rusher junior, Brandon Lombardy, in the post-season.

Lombardy, the school's No. 3 all-time rusher with 2,805 yards, underwent a successful knee operation Friday at the Cleveland Clinic.

"He can start running in four months," said Luckhardt. "The scenario is good because he could have been out for a year. He won't practice in the spring but he should be ready for the 2008 season."

Luckhardt thinks the week off with the first round bye is a blessing.

"Some coaches think you lose the edge by not playing but we had a tough stretch psychology-wise," he claimed. "Four of our last five games were away and six of the last seven were very physical football games," he claimed. "The break from routine should be a benefit."

As far as the six-team Northeast Region field is concerned, Luckhardt feels for 8-2 Slippery Rock, which was left out.

"In my opinion they were better than Bryant," he said. "They deserved to be in. We were in the same boat a couple of years with an 8-2 record.

"It's the luck of the draw. You have to control your own destiny. If you leave it to the polls, you're in trouble."

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