Mino Raiola reportedly told a French radio station they had been given Martinez’s blessing for Lukaku to leave at the right price amid rumours of interest from Paris St Germain. But the Spaniard was unwilling to go into the issue, saying: ” I’m not here to try to do the job of agent. “I’m not going to entertain any sort of rumours and speculation. I have to do that during the transfer window, against my wishes, so as you can understand I’m quite happy now not to go into any comments.” Club-record signing Lukaku, 22, has made a good start to the season after an up-and-down first campaign as a permanent Everton player, scoring seven goals in 13 appearances. Martinez said: “With Romelu, it has been a joy to see him growing and developing from a very young age. “He’s had a very important role with us and now I feel he’s in the perfect moment to kick on and even take more responsibility on the pitch. “All that matters to everyone at Everton is Romelu can keep fulfilling that role, keep enjoying his football and being very important for the team.” Martinez was speaking at his pre-match press conference, the day after Everton bade an emotional farewell to Howard Kendall. Thousands of fans and Everton figures past and present attended Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral and Goodison Park to pay tribute to the 69-year-old, who died earlier this month. Martinez hopes the memories of Kendall’s glory years can inspire his players as they look to get back to winning ways in the Premier League against Sunderland on Sunday. Press Association The Everton boss said: “I thought it was an incredible event. We were all so proud and touched by the incredible reaction and the support that everyone showed around Howard’s career, Howard’s footprint at our football club, and then obviously to pay the respects to an incredible legend and an Everton giant. “There are great moments to sit back a little bit as a player, and everyone who has the privilege to represent Everton at this time has a unique source of inspiration. “You’re looking back at those big seasons, big moments full of emotion. Clearly for the players and everyone it’s the perfect inspiration to go forward.” Seamus Coleman is a major doubt for the match because of a stomach bug but his fellow full-back Leighton Baines is nearing a return after almost six months out. The 30-year-old has undergone two ankle operations but was set to return to full training on Friday along with midfielder Muhamed Besic, who has made only one Premier League appearance this season. Gareth Barry is back in contention following suspension, with Martinez set to revert to a more familiar line-up after ringing the changes for the Capital One Cup win over Norwich in midweek. Roberto Martinez talked up Romelu Lukaku’s importance to Everton following claims from his agent that the Toffees would sell if the right offer came in.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It may have been Senior Day at Kinnick Stadium, but the afternoon belonged to a junior. Making his first career start, in place of the injured John Stocco, junior quarterback Tyler Donovan was thrust into about as unsavory a situation as could be imagined. The shifty scrambler was charged with leading Wisconsin into one of the Big Ten’s most hostile environments to take on a team no current Badger had ever beaten: the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were looking to right a season that has gone awry with another timely win over UW. “It doesn’t get much more high pressure than that,” sophomore cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu said. Surrounded by noise and bloodthirsty defenders, Donovan, playing with a chip on his shoulder that could be seen from the nosebleed section, calmly quarterbacked Wisconsin to a hard-fought 24-21 victory.”I wanted to prove something to myself, but more so, I wanted to prove something to the team,” a reserved and still very collected Donovan said after the game. “I don’t think you can say enough about a guy starting his first game in the Big Ten finale in a hostile environment,” Bielema said. “The plays he was able to come up with today were amazing and gratifying to watch as a coach.”Often standing in the middle of a maelstrom of chaos, with blitzing Hawkeyes coming at him from every direction, Donovan calmly led the Badgers down the field on several key scoring drives. After getting out to a fast start, where Donovan completed his first seven passes en route to a 10-0 Wisconsin lead, the Badgers watched Iowa’s Drew Tate briefly catch fire, as the Hawkeyes scored twice and took the lead. With the pendulum of momentum — a favorite expression of Barry Alvarez — swinging in the direction of Iowa, the junior signal-caller almost immediately led UW on a six-play 73-yard scoring drive punctuated by a spectacular 42-yard touchdown by receiver Luke Swan. On the drive, Donovan accounted for every yard, either via passing or scrambling. “He took some shots, too,” senior safety Joe Stellmacher said. “I don’t know how he got up from all of them, but he did.”Donovan came up big again late. As the Badgers clung to a perilous 17-14 lead, Iowa downed a punt at the UW 3-yard line that left Donovan standing in the Hawkeyes’ end zone — with the howling student section at his back, no more than 20 feet away. After a short P.J. Hill run, Donovan took the snap and dropped back 2 yards deep into the Iowa scoring box and with two Iowa defenders closing in, he completed a strike to tight end Travis Beckum for 13 yards and some much needed breathing room. The play set up a simply sparkling 15-play, 97-yard scoring drive that proved to be the decisive point in the contest. The march down the field might’ve been led by a quarterback making his first start, but during it Donovan was nothing less than a field general, poised beyond his experience. “For the first start of his career he was so poised,” Stellmacher said. “He was really playing to win, I mean you could see that. He was holding nothing back, he was playing to win and played his heart out.”My hat’s off to him.”Donovan has had to sit behind Stocco for three years and hear questions about his decision-making and arm strength. He then had to watch the new coaching staff bring in an experienced transfer in former Kansas State starter Allen Evridge, who will be eligible to play next season. The game may prove to be something of an audition for Donovan as the Badgers’ 2007 starting quarterback position. “I’m sure after this season is completed, everybody is going to want to know who the starting quarterback is at the University of Wisconsin, and I think [Donovan] took a huge step forward in that area right now,” Bielema said. “Today he went out there, was able to execute and get a win.”
Rivalries make college football special.Coaches, players and fans alike circle one or two games on their calendar each year as “must-win” games — not because of rankings or standings, but out of a longstanding and passionate dislike for another school. For some, it would be OK if their team lost every other game if only they beat that school.The names really say it all. Every year, Pittsburgh and West Virginia throw down in the Backyard Brawl. Utah and BYU wage an annual Holy War. Georgia and Georgia Tech engage in Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.Whether between teams in the same conference, the same state or even the same city, almost all of college football’s rivalries share a common bond: They make geographic sense.USC’s rivalry with Notre Dame stands out because of how seemingly random it is: 2,103 miles separate Notre Dame Stadium from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The teams have never played in the same conference — Notre Dame football has seen no need for conference affiliation at all. What then does a Catholic school of fewer than 12,000 students in northern Indiana have in common with a secular institution of 36,000 grads and undergrads in the heart of the nation’s second-largest media market?The origin of the rivalry is equally odd. Gwynn Wilson, USC’s equivalent to an athletic director in 1925, went with his wife to Lincoln, Neb., in November of that year to spend Thanksgiving watching Notre Dame play the Nebraska Cornhuskers.The Trojans themselves were in the midst of an 11-2 season in which they played all but one game at the Coliseum and were searching for a more nationally prominent rival. The Fighting Irish were a prime candidate, having gone undefeated the previous season, which was capped off by a 27-10 victory over Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl.At this point, the line between truth and fiction begins to blur. Legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne — whose life inspired the movie Knute Rockne, All American, starring, among others, Ronald Reagan — is said to have been reluctant to agree to an annual series with the Trojans because of the long-distance travel required.That’s when the women stepped in. Wilson’s wife got to chatting with Rockne’s wife and convinced her that a biannual trip to the sunny West Coast was an improvement upon the usual pilgrimage to freezing Nebraska.Naturally, Rockne was convinced by his wife, and the teams squared off for the first time ever in Los Angeles the following December. This Saturday the Trojans and Irish will play for the 83rd time in their history.It’s not just the distance between the schools, however, that makes the series unique. Notre Dame fills its schedule each year with games against teams from coast to coast because it doesn’t belong to a conference.In the 1980s, for example, the Trojans’ were far from the Irish’s most fearsome opponents. USC didn’t win a single game against Notre Dame from 1983 through 1995. Meanwhile, the Irish went to nine major bowl games during that span and won the 1988 national title.The games Notre Dame fans most looked forward to then were the team’s showdowns with the Miami Hurricanes, which reached their dramatic peak in the 1988 game dubbed “Catholics vs. Convicts,” featuring a pre-game brawl between the teams. The series was called off two years later, however, and was only renewed again last year in the Sun Bowl.The longevity of the USC-Notre Dame series, along with its prominence on the national stage, is what sets it apart.The two programs have won a combined 22 national championships (11 each) and 14 Heisman trophies (seven each). They’ve had more players drafted into the NFL (USC is first with 472, Notre Dame second with 469) than any other school. Both are in the top eight in all-time winning percentage.The series has produced some of the best moments in the history of college football.Notre Dame fans fondly recall the 1988 game in which the No. 1 Irish beat the No. 2 Trojans 27-10 in Los Angeles on their way to the program’s last national championship.The 1977 “Green Jersey Game” is also a happy memory for the Golden Domers. That year Notre Dame wore its traditional blue uniforms during warmups before switching clothes and charging out of the tunnel in special green jerseys followed by a giant Trojan horse. Led by quarterback Joe Montana, the Irish won 49-19.USC supporters can claim “The Comeback” from 1974, in which the Trojans trailed 24-0 with 10 seconds remaining in the first half and rallied to win 55-24. Running back Anthony Davis scored four of his 11 career touchdowns against Notre Dame in that game.More recently, Matt Leinart converted a 4th-and-9 pass to Dwayne Jarrett at Notre Dame Stadium in 2005 on the Trojans’ dramatic late drive. Leinart won the game with a one-yard quarterback sneak on the famous “Bush Push” play, giving the Trojans a 34-31 victory.It’s moments like those that make USC and Notre Dame’s rivalry stand out as truly special. “Sellin’ the Sizzle” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Jonathan at email@example.com.