Mailbag: Can Weis fix KU? Ducks a BCS threat? USC recruiting?
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send your questions to me via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS.
|Charlie Weis and Kansas went 1-11 last season, including 0-9 in conference play. (US Presswire)|
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send your questions to me via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS:
From @GoJayhawks1: will Kansas ever be any good?
The Jayhawks have to get close to "decent" before they can hope to be good again, and I'm very skeptical of the latter, at least in the next five years or so. When Charlie Weis was hired by KU, I said I didn't expect him to leave KU with as good a winning percentage as Mark Mangino had in his eight-year career at Kansas when he went 50-48. After Year 1, I don't think Weis even gets close to it.
After a dismal 2012 in Lawrence, Weis is going all in with junior college guys, and this is going to be an interesting experiment to follow. Weis is trying to duplicate the model that Bill Snyder used to help transform Kansas State from laughingstock to powerhouse, but that's so much easier said than done. For a variety of reasons, it's rare for any staff to hit on a high percentage when it comes to JC personnel. But I do think it's a gamble Weis was shrewd to realize he has to take.
His team just went 1-11 and was No. 115 in scoring and No. 109 in scoring defense and is losing 11 senior starters from last year's team. And when you're as bad as KU was in Weis' first season, I'm not sure you can expect to get more than three years to get things cranked up.
KU plays in a league that is loaded. The closest thing to a weak program in the Big 12 right now is Kansas. So now he's going to sign around 20 JUCOs this winter. That is a staggering number. If many of these guys don't pan out, whoever follows Weis is going to have some gaping holes in his depth chart and a real big mess to clean up. But if it does work -- and it should be noted several of these JC recruits are highly touted -- Weis will have a much easier chance selling to high school recruits next year a team that is 4-3 or 5-2 rather than at the bottom of the Big 12 again and with the dark cloud of rumors of him being on the hot seat hanging over his program.
Looking at their 2013 schedule. KU actually has a decent shot to open 3-0 with games against South Dakota, at Rice and Louisiana Tech, but after that it's a stretch to see more than two wins coming from the Big 12 schedule.
From @BojanCroatia: Is Oregon still a national title contender with the coaching change?
Chip Kelly left Eugene. Marcus Mariota, De'Anthony Thomas and a ton of other experienced, dynamic talent did not. The Ducks do have a few guys to replace on defense, especially at linebacker and in DE Dion Jordan, but the entire secondary returns. Plus, the caliber of athletes on the defense is so much better than what it was the year the Ducks came within a last-second field goal of beating Auburn to win the BCS title.
As I wrote last week, the transition to Mark Helfrich should be smooth. It's not like there has had to be a complete overhaul of the coaching staff for these players to adjust to. Most of the guys who helped elevate this Ducks program and establish how things run are still there.
Helfrich is also making some nice hires to fill out his staff. I reported Friday morning that Oregon is adding Duke WR coach Matt Lubick, the son of former long-time Colorado State assistant Sonny Lubick. That's a good move. I was around the younger Lubick quite a bit while I reported Meat Market. He is a dogged recruiter. He's the one who found and helped get unheralded Dexter McCluster from Florida to Ole Miss. Lubick also recruited almost every player ASU signed after the coach left Oxford to join Dennis Erickson's staff.
Among his key recruits Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Will Sutton and former five-star Vontaze Burfict. I can also vouch for Lubick being a well-liked member of a coaching staff who should fit in nicely to Helfrich's group in Eugene.
From @royalbickness47: can USC finish with a top 10 class once signing day is finished?
It depends on what criteria people use. No question, the more players you sign, the more margin for error a school has. But, from a pound-for-pound perspective, you'll be hard-pressed to find a group more stocked with blue-chippers than what USC is putting together and in actuality, has already landed. The Trojans have six elite prospects signed to letters of intent and enrolled in class: five-star QB Max Browne; five-star DT Kenny Bigelow, five-star DB Su'a Cravens, four-star DB Leon McQuay III, four-star CB Chris Hawkins and four-star RB Justin Davis. In addition, Lane Kiffin also has eight other four-star rated prospects committed. That sure seems like a Top 10, if not Top 5 class.
Obviously, we should've all learned by now to take recruiting rankings with a few grains of salt, but if you're going to list top classes, USC is in line to land a Top-10 class and it's likely to have the highest star-rating per prospect in the country. Not bad considering the Trojans are coming off a disappointing 7-6 season, is replacing at least three assistants, and has a head coach whose job security has been a pretty hot topic this winter.
That said, there certainly is a feeling that USC's recruiting class isn't as strong as many figured because of the number of high-profile recruits who have decommitted from the Trojans (there have been six since December). In a few cases, I hear Kiffin got caught in a juggling act while trying to balance out his numbers in the face of the 15-scholarship limit this class is under due to the NCAA sanctions. On top of that, arch-rival UCLA appears to be closing out this class very well, which also takes away some of USC's thunder. The Bruins landed a couple of top DBs in the past few days and are in the hunt to snag another five-star D-line recruit that had been committed to USC previously, Eddie Vanderdoes. Jim Mora also snatched up former USC commit Eldridge Massington, a four-star WR.
Of course, it should be noted that there's still over a week till Signing Day and surprises are bound to happen. USC landed the player who turned out to be the best freshman in the Trojans class last season, DT Leonard Williams on Signing Day.
From @BoutThisU: thoughts on U of Miami's off season staff hires.
Miami lost two of its better assistants when WR coach George McDonald and OC Jedd Fisch left, but Al Golden rallied well.
In Mario Cristobal, he got a guy who is more plugged into the South Florida recruiting scene than anyone. Cristobal also will ramp up toughness and energy around UM and that level of intensity will make them better every day at practice.
As for the news this week that Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley has left his alma mater for the chance to call plays and be the Canes OC and QB coach, UM fans should be encouraged.
Coley, a former Nick Saban assistant, is well-respected by those who have worked around him. He inherits a pretty ripe situation. Miami returns a big, experienced O-line, a strong-armed QB (Stephen Morris), a spectacular and versatile tailback (Duke Johnson) and plenty of speed outside. Of course, we don't really know how well Coley will do as UM's play-caller. He doesn't have much of a track record.
Then again, there was plenty of skepticism with Fisch when he was hired two years ago and Fisch did pretty well especially when you consider how young Miami was in 2012.
The other big reason why I think these two hires will prove to be upgrades is because of Cristobal and Coley's recruiting acumen. The South Florida recruiting class of 2014 is projected to be loaded according to experts and both of these will have a big impact.
From @GreenBean612: Has any Top 10 team ever lost 6 asst coaches in one offseason, a la FSU this year?
I couldn't think of one. Texas A&M lost two guys (Kliff Kingsbury and Brian Polian) who became head coaches and third, LB coach Matt Wallerstedt who followed Kingsbury to become his DC. But Jimbo Fisher has had twice that. Usually, when there's a shake-up on a staff, it's mostly on one side of the ball and it's done on a struggling team.
But such turnover for a top team isn't unprecedented as @JonDArthur points out: Wisconsin in 2012 had to cope with losing six assistants off a team that went 11-3 in 2011. Bret Bielema's team, in the wake of all the departures, finished 8-6.
From @MikePesesky: Why are people still talking about Te'o?
When Deadspin broke the story last week, it left a ton of unanswered questions. Remember, Manti Te'o's personal account of his coping with the death of his "girlfriend" became one of the bigger storylines of the 2012 season. The guy played for the most high-profile program in the country and he ended up winning more individual awards than anyone.
Complicating an already complex story was that Te'o didn't do any interviews in the wake of the Deadspin story till late Friday night and due to the format he and his handlers opted for, information of his account seeped out over the weekend. Mixed in with that, was also the South Bend Tribune story about how ND's "investigator" never actually questioned Te'o. Then, came word of the first on-camera sitdown with Te'o by Katie Couric, and that didn't air till Thursday, more than a week later, so this saga has dragged on in the national spotlight for probably longer than most would've imagined.
At this point, I just shrug my shoulders now at some of these reports that have come out in the past 48 hours about just whose voice is on those voicemails with the sourcing being Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's attorney and other family sources. As I said last week, I'm skeptical about all of it.
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