Blog Entry

Friday Mailbag: New UCLA staff starting fast

Posted on: December 16, 2011 2:01 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have a question, send it to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.

  From @ChuckMuselwite what are you thoughts on the start Jim Mora got at UCLA and his new staff?

I really like the hires Mora has made so far targeting aggressive recruiters (Adrian Klemm, Steve Broussard and Demetrice Martin) who know the California recruiting scene well. And, that aggressive, high-energy attitude can carry over to the practice field, where the Bruins really could use it. His new OC Noel Mazzone did a very nice job at ASU. Mazzone is an experienced play-caller who has continued to evolve over the past decade, from his time in the NFL with the Jets to his time studying up on the one-back offense variations. 

  Those three recruiters had really done so damage to UCLA at their previous stops and now they have a bigger brand to sell locally. They will now work to battle USC for a handful of blue-chippers the Trojans either had committed or were closing in on. What transpires over the next six weeks will be very intriguing.

  A few battles to keep an eye on: CB Kevon Seymour, who goes to the same school (Muir HS) that Martin, a former USC staffer, went to. Many recruiting insiders figured Seymour was heading to USC. UCLA wasn't even a factor. Well, the Bruins are a factor now.

Klemm had developed a relationship with OL Jordan Simmons while the coach was at SMU. Simmons is committed to USC but now Klemm is working hard to flip him to UCLA.

Ellis McCarthy is the best D-linemen on the West Coast. His father had wanted him to go to UCLA but the Bruins struggled to make a favorable impression with the 295-pound DT from Monrovia, CA. Martin, though, has a good relationship with the big man and his family and is working hard to get him to Westwood.

The Bruins also have a shot now with Arik Armstead, a one-time USC commit and one of the top line prospects in the country.

I'll have a lot more on Mora and the evolving battle in Los Angeles in the next few weeks.

From @GGutierrez01  I know bowls haven't started, but your guess of preseason No.1 going into next year? Thanks

It all depends on which underclassmen jump to the NFL and which remain in college for another season.  If Matt Barkley opts to remain at USC for his senior season, the Trojans, I think, will be the No. 1 team going into the fall despite the news that standout left tackle Matt Kalil is leaving early.

With Barkley, USC would arguably have the best QB in the country to go along with the top duo of wideouts in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee; a 1000-yard back in Curtis McNeal, an improving group of athletic linemen on both sides of the ball, their top two tacklers were both freshmen linebackers (Hayes Pullard and Dion Bailey) and the Pac-12's best CB, Nickell Robey, who was just a sophomore. Plus, Oregon and ND have to visit the Coliseum in 2012.
  If Barkley doesn't come back, my hunch is LSU would get that spot. The biggest question mark for them would be at QB but folks inside the Tigers program are high on Zach Mettenberger and he going to have a terrific group of running backs returning. We'll see if WRs Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle come back. The D-line should be even scarier next year; Tyrann Mathieu will be back. My guess is lockdown CB Mo Claiborne might not. Rangy CB Tharold Simon, though, would start for 90 percent of the teams in the top 25 and would be a good replacement if Claiborne does leave.

  From @YoAustin310 why is the south carolina scandal not getting ANY press?

I think it has a lot to do with the timing of when this all came down. It is a very crowded news-space in college sports right now. First, you have the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal, which, quite frankly has redefined what we see as a college "scandal" as compared to Willie Lyles/Oregon recruiting; Ohio State tattoos or Nevin Shapiro and Miami. You also have the constant tug of the coaching carousel news/gossip which has been especially hectic. You have BCS fallout too. 

  The mess with South Carolina is significant though as it deemed the three NCAA violations "major and serious."   In the Notice of Allegations sent to South Carolina, the NCAA alleged Gamecock athletes or prospective athletes received $55,000 worth of extra benefits from representatives of the school’s athletic interests and that the university failed to properly monitor two potentially improper situations. For more on this, you can read this story by Josh Kendall. 

We'll see if the NCAA buys that the Gamecocks' move of forfeiting six football scholarships over the next three years is a harsh enough punishment. Given the money involved, you wouldn't think it would be. Then again, the NCAA is so unpredictable with this stuff because it's just making things up as it goes along.

From @Bushwood41 PSU has lost some commits recently. Could they have prevented this if they would have hired a new coach already?

Probably, but do you risk rushing to just have a head coach in place in hopes of keeping a few commits rather than make sure everyone there is convinced you have the right head man for the long haul? I don't think so. Besides, if they find and can land the right head coach, he'll probably have a shot to be able to sway back some kids who were on the fence.

From @SilverCrushBlog why hasn't Delaware HC KC Keeler gotten any shots at a premiere FBS school yet? He'd be perfect at PSU. He already recruits PA.

I agree that he'd make some sense at Penn State. The guy has done a superb job at Delaware, especially since he replaced a legendary coaching figure there in Tubby Raymond. I've heard he'd love for the chance to take over at Penn State. They could do a lot worse.

From @PaysonRealtor  Do you have anything good to say about ASU's hire of Todd Graham?

He's got a lot of Texas ties. That should help give a jolt to recruiting in an area ASU can and needs to take advantage of.

From @BillBoettcher Claiborne is presumed the better pro prospect but if you had to re-recruit you would take the honey badger for college right?

I'd take em both. The risk with Mathieu is coaches see so many undersized, but productive, "instinctive" guys in the recruiting process where they debate just how well their ability will translate at the next level. And, to be fair, they can cite a lot more examples of those guys getting overwhelmed and lost in major college football than they can for the ones who shine. When I spoke to Frank Wilson, the LSU assistant who had been recruiting Mathieu for a long time, he said the kid's competitiveness and quickness were off the charts and he was sold. LSU is fortunate to have Mathieu. He is a special talent.

Since: Feb 18, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 8:33 am

Friday Mailbag: New UCLA staff starting fast

Jim Mora Jr - good hire for UCLA.

Since: Nov 3, 2007
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:21 pm

Friday Mailbag: New UCLA staff starting fast

Correction, I was wrong.  South Carolina's illegal benefits totalled $55,000, not $47,000.

Since: Nov 3, 2007
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:10 pm

Friday Mailbag: New UCLA staff starting fast

I think it has a lot to do with the timing of when this all came down. It is a very crowded news-space in college sports right now. First, you have the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal, which, quite frankly has redefined what we see as a college "scandal" as compared to Willie Lyles/Oregon recruiting; Ohio State tattoos or Nevin Shapiro and Miami. You also have the constant tug of the coaching carousel news/gossip which has been especially hectic. You have BCS fallout too
Really?  There's a few flaws to this logic.  South Carolina got caught with their hand in the cookie jar at exactly the same time as North Carolina.  When Weslye Saunders was implicated in the South Beach party scandal along with Greg Little, Marvin Austin of UNC and Marcel Darius of Alabama none of these items were even on the horizon.  When ten South Carolina football players including Saunders, and two women's track team members were found to be getting illegal extra benefits from the Whitney Hotel in Columbia a few weeks later, the Ohio State, Oregon, Miami and Penn State issues were all months from coming out.  Those benefits totalled $47,000.  The South Carolina issues were not overshadowed by anything other than the fact that they're a member of the SEC and the media puffs the SEC.  They play down SEC infractions. 

South Carolina had 12 players implicated and $47,000 dollars worth of illegal benefits while Norh Carolina had, I believe, nine players and $30,000 in benefits yet North Carolina was attacked constantly by CBS, as was Ohio State, with even fewer violations, while Spurrier was quietly allowed to tell Saunders his services were no longer needed.  Alabama's Marcel Darius was given a light suspension, I believe it was two weeks, with the NCAA actually saying the reason for going easy on him was that "he's a good boy".  

We've had hardly a word from CBS about South Carolina and Alabama while they've ripped UNC, Ohio State and Oregon.  Why?  Simple.  UNC, Ohio State and Oregon have two common threads.  Number one, they're not SEC teams and two, at the time they all at least on the surface posed a threat to the SEC's claim to NCAA football domination.  All three were given at least some chance of competing for the 2010 or 2011 National Championships.   &nb

So, "why is the South Carolina scandal not getting ANY press"?  Because the media is protecting their SEC cash cow.  The best evidence is the first two sentances above.  It takes very little effort to prove these statements as either lies or statements made by someone totally ignorant of college football news.  

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: December 17, 2011 8:28 am

South Carolina "scandal?"

"Why is the South Carolina scandal not getting any press?"  Easy: because nobody on the national scene cares about South Carolina.  South Carolina is totally irrelevant outside of South Carolina.  That's why a coach like Steve Spurrier can't even take them to the top.  Nobody outside of the state wants to go there and nobody outside of the state really cares about them.  
Might I guess that the only reason anybody bothered to write is because he or she is a Clemson or Tennessee fan?   Tennessee has been terrible ever since the hangover from their 1998 National Championship, and Clemson's coach was in the top five "hot seats" before the season started, but both are still more relevant on the national scene than South Carolina.  
Which brings to mind an old koan:  "If a scandal happens in South Carolina but nobody gives a bleep, is it really a scandal?" 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or