Tag:MAC
Posted on: February 28, 2011 5:10 pm
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Midweek MACtion will wait until November

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Once upon a time, in those halcyon days of, say, 2003, the MAC was known for two things: grooming future NFL quarterbacks like Byron Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger, and playing league games whenever ESPN asked them to, often on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday nights.

Now that it's the year 2011, things have changed. Oh, the MAC is still playing weeknight games ... but as they've done the past couple of seaons, thanks to travel and academic concerns they aren't playing them at the drop a proverbial hat any longer. Per the official 2011 MAC schedule released today , no MAC team will play a midweek game between Week 1 (when four teams kick off their seasons on Thursday night) and Week 10, when Northern Illinois visits Toledo for a Tuesday night ESPN2 broadcast.

That matchup kicks off the MAC's version of Shark Week, as ESPN airs seven MAC games over the next seven weeknights. The backloaded midweek slate helps the MAC accomplish two goals: keeping the bulk of their schedule on Saturdays where they naturally belong, while still ensuring that the biggest games of their season are aired to a national audience.

But is it worth it? Ceding the midweek slots to conferences like the WAC (remember Boise State playing Louisiana Tech on a Tuesday this past season?) may have resulted in smoother scheduling and easier logistics, but it's also resulting in less exposure; the 2011 schedule features 15 guaranteed ESPN dates, where the 2010 version offered 19.

Of course, the MAC already tried the maximum exposure route and decided it wasn't worth the trade-off. As the league's contiued adherence to the "no midweek games until they matter" plan shows, even ESPN's power has its limits.

Bonus link of interest: Did you see where Kirby Hocutt bolted from the Miami (Fla.) athletic director's chair for the same position at Texas Tech last week? Well, before going to Miami Hocutt was also AD at Ohio; here's an open letter to fans from his Bobcat days which discusses, in part, the MAC's midweek scheduling dilemma.

Posted on: February 15, 2011 12:45 pm
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Posted on: February 15, 2011 12:44 pm
 

Ball State assistant nailed with DUI

Posted by Tom Fornelli

This is not the best first impression for Terry Lantz to make at Ball State. Lantz was hired by head coach Pete Lembo on February 4 to be the team's secondary coach, and early Sunday morning, Lantz was pulled over and charged with drunk driving in Muncie.
Lantz was stopped at 1:09 a.m. Sunday at the corner of University Avenue and Dill Street by Muncie Police Sgt. Brad Wiemer after Lantz did not dim his headlights while driving on University. Officer Stash Hellis was dispatched to assist.
The veteran assistant coach, who came to Ball State after 10 years at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., failed three  field sobriety tests, according to Hellis in a probable cause affidavit.
"While talking with him about why he had been stopped, I could smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person and noticed that his eyes were red and glassy," Hellis said in the affidavit.
"Terry Lantz is a family man who has a reserved and unassuming demeanor," said Lembo in a statement following the arrest. "He is extremely embarrassed about this situation. Good people sometimes make poor decisions."

However, what Lembo would not comment on was whether or not this arrest would affect Lantz's job status at Ball State.

Photo courtesy of the BSU Daily News
Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Addazio goes back to Gator well for Temple OC

Photo by Jerry Hinnen

If a coaching staff was good enough for Florida, you'd expect it to be good enough -- more than good enough -- for a MAC program like Temple. And now thanks to new Owl boss Steve Addazio, it appears we're going to be able to put that expectation through a rigorous real-life testing process.

You already know that Addazio himself was the Gators' offensive line coach and, in 2009 and 2010, offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Not long ago Addazio was able to hire former Gator secondary coach, recruiting coordinator, and eventual co-defensive coordinator Chuck Heater as the Owls' new DC. And per the Twitter feed of Temple Rivals affiliate OwlScoop , now a third member of the Meyer staff will be making his way to Philadelphia: Gators quarterback coach Scot Loeffler.

Loeffler will be taking over as the Owls' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and like Heater, the Gators' 2010 struggles shouldn't obscure the fact that Loeffler is stunningly overqualified to be working at a tradition-starved MAC team like Temple. Loeffler spent several high-profile years as the quarterbacks coach at Michigan, helping turn players like John Navarre and Chad Henne into All-Big Ten stars, before spending one season as the Detroit Lions QB coach. He then went to Gainesville with the endorsement of Tim Tebow , where he spent the past two seasons.

Loeffler hasn't yet been a full-time play-caller, but all the same, for Addazio to bring a coach with high-profile experience in the NFL and at two of the nation's premier programs to Temple is -- on paper -- quite the coup. If the Owls' Gator guys can enjoy half as much success at Temple as they had in Gainesville, the hiring of Addazio -- questioned far and wide after his disastrous stint as the Gators' OC -- is going to look far smarter than nearly anyone imagined.

Posted on: January 31, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Heater officially named Temple D-coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Good news for Temple fans settling in for this week's nationwide blizzard: Steve Addazio has officially installed a new Heater.

That's Chuck Heater, specifically, the new Owl defensive coordinator announced by the school Monday afternoon . Though the move has been expected for a few weeks now, having Heater officially signed, sealed, and delivered is a nice feather in Addazio's cap.

Why? Because on paper, Heater is vastly overqualified to be coordinating a MAC defense, or recruiting to a school with as little tradition as the Owls. Heater has been an assistant coach on the Division I level for more than 30 years, the last seven of them on Urban Meyer's staffs at Utah and Florida. In Gainesville he rose from being the Gators' cornerbacks coach to Meyer's recruiting coordinator and, eventually, co-defensive coordinator for one of the strongest defenses in the nation.

It's a measure of the respect Heater's career has accumulated that fans of Heater's alma mater at Michigan had him atop their favored list of candidates for Greg Robinson's replacement before Greg Mattison was hired. If Heater was good enough for Michigan, good enough to remain on a defensive staff with both Mattison and Charlie Strong in Gainesville, and good enough a recruiter to serve as the recruiting-obsessed Meyer's recruiting coordinator, there seems little doubt he'd going to be good enough for Temple.

When Addazio was hired, many wondered why the Owls would gamble on such a failure of an offensive coordinator, ignoring the fact that for all his weaknesses as a play-caller Addazio offered many strengths that allowed him to rise to that position in the first place. One of them was his keen rapport with his fellow coaches--one that, in the hire of Heater, has already paid off for Temple in a big way.

Posted on: January 26, 2011 5:43 pm
 

2011 returning starters: a first glance

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's never too early to start thinking about the next college football season, and that means it's never too early to ask the inevitable first question of any team going forward: How many starters do they have returning?

Fortunately, preview magazine maven Phil Steele has worked to provide a convenient answer to that query, releasing today a chart ranking all 120 FBS teams according to their offensive, defensive, and specialist starters returning.

There's plenty of time to delve far more deeply into college football's 2011 outlook, but a few immediate impressions after looking over the Steele chart:
  • SEC teams finish at both the top and bottom of the chart, with Vanderbilt leading the way behind all 11 2010 offensive starters remaining on the roster. But more notable is that after losing eight offensive starters, seven defensive, and both kickers, defending national champion Auburn comes in dead last, 120th out of 120. Gene Chizik will have his work cut out for him.

  • A couple of new head coaches in the Midwest step into very favorable situations. Brady Hoke will be able to draw upon nine returning starters on either side of the ball at Michigan and will only have to generate any kind of defensive pulse to be hailed as an improvement on Rich Rodriguez. But even he won't have it as cushy as Don Treadwell, who takes over the defending MAC champions at Miami (Ohio) and has 18 starters back to work with, good for 10th on the list.

  • A lot of early talk in the SEC West has focused on what LSU returns at the skill positions and what Alabama has lost, but behind nine returning defensive starters and both specialists, the Tide still boasts two more starters back than their Bayou Bengal rivals.

  • 2010 was almost certainly the high-water mark for the crumbling WAC. Not only is bellwether Boise State moving on to the Mountain West, but Nevada and Hawaii return just eight offensive starters between them.

  • Actually, it might have been the high-water mark for non-AQ teams in general. Gary Patterson's TCU seems as bulletproof as programs come these days, but having just four starters back on either side of the ball (placing them 119th on the chart, one spot ahead of Auburn) will be quite the challenge all the same.

  • You should go ahead and steel yourself against the Notre Dame hype flood now; the Irish ended the season on a four-game win streak, you'll recall, and have eight starters back on both offense and defense including surprise draft dodger Michael Floyd (pictured). 

  • Likewise, the offseason storyline for the ACC is already written: Florida State, with 18 starters back, will be expected to wrest the league overlord role away from Virginia Tech, with just 13.

Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 2:22 pm
 

Super Bowl rosters, broken down by conference

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Are you an NFL general manager or other team executive? Would you like your team to win its conference and go to the Super Bowl? You, sir, clearly need to start drafting players out of the conference where the real talent is: the mighty MAC.

That's the curious lesson imparted by the active rosters of this year's two Super Bowl participants, as the MAC is more heavily represented among thosee 106 players than any conference aside from the SEC and Big Ten. The complete breakdown of players' conference affiliation is as follows, per the active rosters of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers available here and here , respectively:
SEC: 18 (Steelers: R. Clark, R. Foster, A. Madison, Ma. Pouncey, C. Scott, M. Wallace, H. Ward; Packers: C. Clifton, M. Flynn, B. Goode, H. Green, Q. Johnson, D. Lee, P. Lee, T. Masthay, C. Peprah, S. Wells, J. Wynn)

Big Ten: 15 (Steelers: F. Adams, W. Allen, T. Essex, L. Foote, J. Kapinos, R. Mendenhall, A. Randle-El, M. Spaeth, L. Woodley; Packers: B. Bulaga, A. Hawk, R. Pickett, A. Quarless, M. Wilhelm, C. Woodson)

MAC: 13
(Steelers: C. Batch, A. Brown, J. Harrison, B. Roethlisberger (pictured back in his Miami (Ohio) days), S. Suisham; Packers: D. Briggs, T. Crabtree, J. Gordy, C. Jenkins, G. Jennings, T. Lang, J. Starks, F. Zombo)

ACC: 13 (Steelers: C. Butler, J. Dwyer, N. Eason, J. Farrior, K. Fox, B. McFadden, H. Miller, L. Timmons, G. Warren, J. Worilds; Packers: R. Francois, B. Raji, S. Shields)

Big 12: 8 (Steelers: C. Hampton, T. Hills, Z. Hood, J. Scott; Packers: G. Harrell, M. Crosby, B. Jackson, J. Nelson)

Conference USA: 7
(Steelers: B. Leftwich, D. Legursky, M. Moore, E. Sanders; Packers: A. Bigby, J. Sitton, C. Wilson)

Non-FBS: 7 (Steelers: I. Redman, A. Smith; Packers: N. Collins, E. Dietrich-Smith, D. Driver, J. Kuhn, N. McDonald)

Pac-10: 6 (Steelers: K. Lewis, T. Polamalu; Packers: D. Bishop, C. Matthews, D. Nance, A. Rodgers)

MWC: 5 (Steelers: C. Hoke, B. Keisel, C. Kemoeatu, S. Sylvester; Packers: B. Swain)

WAC: 5
(Packers: J. Bush, D. Colledge, K. Hall, J. Jones, T. Williams)

Big East: 4 (Steelers: W. Gay, R. Mundy; Packers: J. Spitz, B. Underwood)

Sun Belt: 4 (Steelers: D. Johnson, S. McLendon, I. Taylor; Packers: E. Walden)

Independent: 1
(Steelers: A. Battle)
(Note that affiliations are based on 2010 league alignment: Boise State in the WAC, Utah the MWC, Nebraska the Big 12, etc.)

Some bullet points to be made about the breakdown:
  • Kidding aside, the number of MAC players represented has to be something of a statistical fluke -- does any team in the league have as many as the Packers' eight? -- but it's worth noting that both teams rely heavily on players from outside the six BCS conferences. 34 percent of the Steelers' roster hails from non-AQ (or non-FBS) teams, with the Packers' number at 43 percent. An NFL team that doesn't bother scouting smaller conferences would, obviously, be missing out on a major source of talent.
  • That said, the two conferences best represented -- the SEC and Big Ten -- are exactly the two you'd expect based on the amount of money being spent within them and overall influence within college football.
  • As with the MAC's high numbers, the oddly low numbers for the Pac-12 and Big East are probably unfortunate circumstance. Nonetheless, those leagues probably would have liked to have been represented by more than only four and three teams, respectively.
  • Yes, it's interesting that non-FBS teams enjoy more representation than two BCS leagues and have only one player fewer than a Big 12 featuring programs like Texas and Oklahoma. But don't marvel too much; as with the number of successful pro players who weren't highly-ranked as recruits being a function (in large part) of how many more lower-ranked recruits there are, the sheer numbers of players attending the dozens of FCS and Division II schools ensure that some of them will always find their way to NFL stardom.




Posted on: January 20, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Coaching hires show Sun Belt still FBS's worst

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College football fans love to chatter about which of the 11 FBS conferences is best. They get much less excited to discuss which of them is worst, though for the few who do, this past bowl season provided some quality fodder when the two leagues generally considered the FBS's weakest -- the MAC and Sun Belt -- squared off in three different bowl games. The Sun Belt came out ahead 2-1, with Troy dominating Ohio and FIU winning a 34-32 barnburner over Toledo. (MAC champion Miami (Ohio) did cruise past Middle Tennessee State for the Midwestern league's victory in the MAC-SBC "Challenge.") Case closed?

Not even close. This week the College Football Blog reviewed all 22 (or 21, if you don't count Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia) new head coaching hires in our Headset Reset series , and that review turned up something interesting about the Sun Belt and the MAC: namely, that the MAC is making much stronger coaching hires.

First, look at the MAC's new coaches : two of them are coordinators from two of the 2010 Big Ten co-champions; one was the offensive coordinator and highest-ranking assistant for Urban Meyer's national-title winning program at Florida ; one was a longtime position coach and ace recruiter for Ohio State; and the "weakest" of the hires on paper, Ball State's Pete Lembo, is a 40-year-old coach with 10 years of successful head coaching experience on the FCS level already under his belt.

Contrast that with the Sun Belt's three choices: one a promotion from within the Arkansas State staff, one a potentially past-his-prime Florida position coach, the other the Mississippi State wide receivers coach.

All three of those hires could prove to be shrewd (it's not as if Dan McCarney and Mark Hudspeth don't have quality head coaching experience to draw on, and Hugh Freeze has been knocking on the door of his own head coaching gig for years). But if the MAC is to the Big Ten as the Sun Belt is to the SEC, then you'd have seen the SBC hiring the SEC equivalents of Don Treadwell or Dave Doeren (pictured at right), well-regarded college-first coordinators like Manny Diaz or John Chavis or Mike Bobo. That's not happening. In fact, the only 2010 SEC coordinator to take a head coaching job this offseason went to ... Temple.

(As an aside, this might also be an indication of the relative strength of the Big Ten and SEC; where SEC schools are willing to pay top dollar to retain their best assistants and keep them out of the clutches of smaller schools, the Big Ten watches the likes of Treadwell and Doeren walk away.)

The Sun Belt's bowl performance was nice. But until they show they can land the same caliber of coaching talent as their Midwestern counterparts (or, more easily, the WAC says its official goodbyes to Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii) they should continue to be regarded at the bottom of the FBS conference barrel.

 
 
 
 
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