Tag:Tom Fornelli
Posted on: February 1, 2012 7:35 pm
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: Big 12



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Breaking down who won and who lost in the Big 12 on National Signing Day

WINNER: Mack Brown

Nothing new for Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns on signing day this year, as the Longhorns put together a class of 28 players. Players that were good enough to earn the Longhorns the second spot in our CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25. The Longhorns already had a strong class coming into the Wednesday, but flipping players like Torshiro Davis, Bryce Cottrell, and Daje Johnson in the last few days helped put it over the top.

LOSER: Mack Brown

How can you win and lose at the same time? Well, it's not that hard if you're Mack Brown. After all, Brown has long been considered one of the best coaches on the recruiting trail since taking over at Texas. However, the great classes that he's signed haven't done much to help the Longhorns when it comes to picking up victories the last few years. Now with another top class, the expectations that Texas compete for the Big 12 title will only grow that much larger, and considering that Connor Brewer is the only "top" quarterback in his latest class, Brown will really need the rest of his newest class to start contributing right away. If they don't we can't be sure how many more signing days Brown will have, contract extension or not.

WINNER: Boomer Sooner

While Oklahoma's class may not be as highly regarded as Texas, it's still good enough to finish at #8 in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25. It has its share of studs in wide receivers Trey Metoyer and Durron Neal, along with lineman Will Latu and quarterback Trevor Knight, but more than anything Bob Stoops and his staff focused on the areas of need in Norman. Of the 25 players in Oklahoma's class, 12 are either receivers, tight ends or defensive lineman. If the Sooners had been able to add another running back or two -- and this isn't a knock on Alex Ross, David Smith, or Damien Williams -- this class would have been ranked even higher.

LOSER: Oklahoma State

It doesn't seem like the Cowboys and Mike Gundy were truly able to capitalize on their first Big 12 title and win in the Fiesta Bowl. While their 2012 class certainly isn't terrible -- I consider it pretty solid to be honest -- it's not exactly the type of class that will wow anybody either. Still, Gundy and company focused on need, and while a class full of three-star recruits isn't going to knock anybody off their feet, it's those same types of recruiting classes that Oklahoma State rode to the Fiesta Bowl last season. So while I have the Cowboys marked a as "loser" here, it's in the context of the National Signing Day. Besides, if four-star quarterback Wes Lunt and receiver C.J. Curry go on to become the next Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, well, then this class will be magnificent won't it?

WINNER: Tommy Tuberville

Texas Tech went out and, quietly, pulled in one of the better classes in the Big 12. In fact, depending on which recruiting service you fancy, the Red Raiders trailed only Texas and Oklahoma in overall quality this season. While four-star receivers Reginald Davis and Dominique Wheeler are the flashier commits, I feel the best sign for Tech's future is the fact that at least 15 of its 26 commits will play on the defensive side of the ball. We already know Texas Tech can light up a scoreboard, but until it starts playing better on defense, it won't be able to win consistently. Recruiting classes like this one will go a long way to making that happen.

LOSER: Iowa State

Again, like I said in the Oklahoma State entry, don't take this "loser" personally. The fact is that Iowa State just isn't the type of program that is going to pull in a lot of 5- and 4-star recruits. Instead Paul Rhoads pulled in a class of 21 players comprised mostly of 3-star players. So while this class may not have a lot of "sex appeal" it could help Iowa State continue to make bowl appearances under Rhoads, and that's all you can ask of Iowa State right now.

WINNER: Fax machine distributors of the United States

Hope you made enough money this year to tide you over until next signing day.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:34 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 4:58 pm
 

Report: Ex-Ohio St. commit charged with rape

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Former Ohio State recruit Roger Lewis has been charged with two counts of rape.

The wide receiver from Pickerington Central turned himself in to Pickerington, Ohio police on Wednesday after being contacted by the police on Tuesday according to ThisWeekNewspapers

According to the report, Lewis has been charged with two counts of rape of an 18-year old woman. Both charges are first-degree felonies. It's alleged that Lewis raped the alleged victim twice, once in December and once on January 6th. According to Pickerington police commander Matt Delp, it's believed that the alleged victim is an acquaintance of Lewis.

The police also say that Lewis has been under investigation for over a month. Earlier in January he had been pulled over and cited for speeding and driving under suspension in the alleged victim's vehicle with the alleged victim as a passenger. It was after Lewis was pulled over with the alleged victim that she first reported the incidents to the police.

Lewis had been a member of Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class until earlier this week. That's when the Columbus Dispatch first reported that Lewis would be exploring other options when it came to where he would play football in college. Ohio, Marshall and Bowling Green were all mentioned as possible landing spots for Lewis in the story.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:53 am
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:01 pm
 

Marcus Coker transfers to Stony Brook

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Former Iowa running back Marcus Coker has found a new home, announcing on Monday that he had transferred to Stony Brook of the Big South Conference on the FCS level.

“I’m very grateful to coach [Chuck]Priore and Stony Brook University for this opportunity,” Coker said in a statement. “I’ve become aware of Stony Brook’s growing football program and outstanding academics. I’m excited for spring practice and the chance to help my teammates win a fourth straight Big South championship.” 

Coker led Iowa in rushing last season, gaining 1,384 yards on the ground and scoring 15 touchdowns for the Hawkeyes. He was suspended for the team's appearance in the Insight Bowl for violating the school's Student-Athlete Code of Conduct.

Coker was being investigated for sexual assault after a woman claimed Coker assaulted her in late October. No charges were ever filed against Coker by the woman.

Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore told Newsday that he did "due diligence" in researching Coker's family and personal background and that he felt assured Coker would be a "positive role model" at Stony Brook.

Since Coker is transferring from the FBS level to the FCS level he will be eligible to play in 2012 and has two years of eligibility remaining. Two years in which he plans to finish getting his degree as a double major in physics and astronomy.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:31 am
 

Sooners center to miss spring practice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that Oklahoma can't escape the injuries that dogged the team throughout 2011.

After missing a large portion of the 2011 season thanks to a broken arm, center Ben Habern had to undergo neck surgery last week. The injury is not considered career-threatening, but neck surgery is never something to be taken lightly, and Habern will miss spring practice because of it.

The good news for Oklahoma is that the team is prepared to deal with Habern's absence since it already dealt with it through most of the year. Gabe Ikard will once again slide over from guard to center while Adam Shead will get more playing time at guard during the spring.

Unfortunately for the Sooners, Habern won't be the only player missing spring practice.

Dominique Whaley, who missed the last half of the season after breaking his ankle in October, will not be back this spring. He continues to recover from the injury and the team does expect him back in time to practice in August.

Then there's receiver Jaz Reynolds who suffered a kidney injury late in the year. The team isn't sure whether or not he'll be ready to participate with them this spring.

Oklahoma's spring practice begins on March 5th.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: January 31, 2012 11:16 am
 

Report: Big 12 to search for new commissioner

Posted by Tom Fornelli

For an interim commissioner, Chuck Neinas has seen an awful lot happen in the Big 12 since replacing Dan Beebe. Texas A&M and Missouri announced they'd be leaving the conference, and TCU and West Virginia were both brought on to replace them. Through all of this, Neinas has made it clear that he does not want to become a permanent replacement for Beebe.

Now it looks like the conference is ready to find his replacement.

Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News reports that on Thursday the Big 12's board of directors will consider a search committee to begin looking for Neinas' replacement. Exactly who the conference may consider to become its next commissioner, there's no mention in the report.

The report goes on to say that the board will also get the latest update on the "legal wrangling" between West Virginia and the Big East as the school continues its pursuit of freedom from the conference. The Big 12 still plans on releasing its schedule for the 2012 season no later than Wednesday to meet its contractual obligations to its television partners.

So since Wednesday is signing day, maybe Chuck Neinas will unveil the schedule by pulling it out of one of two hats. One hat will just have the Big 12 logo on it, and the other will have a West Virginia logo.

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 4:05 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 4:24 pm
 

Illinois considering new helmets for 2012



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Illinois will take to the football field with a new head coach in Tim Beckman next season, but could the Illini be sporting some new headgear as well?

As the Big Ten Network's Brent Yarina informs us, the school is displaying three new helmets for recruits as they visit the Illinois campus. Though Illinois SID Derek Neal says that just because the helmets are on display, that doesn't mean the school is ready to make the change.

“While our coaches have been displaying those for recruits, those are just options we’ve been exploring for new helmets,” Neal told BTN.com. “No decisions have been made yet on helmet, uniform changes, or if there will even be a change.” 

If Illinois does in fact go through with the change, I'd like to put in a vote for the matte blue helmets with the block "I." Of the three pictured, that one is far and away my favorite.

Photo courtesy of IllinoisLoyalty.com

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 3:45 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 4:09 pm
 

VIDEO: Kirk Ferentz takes a polar plunge

Posted by Tom Fornelli

People, by and large, are a strange species. We do odd things that generally don't make sense pretty often. At some point, after the Wright brothers invented the airplane, somebody was flying in a plane and said to themselves "I want to jump out of this thing." It's not a natural reaction, but it's one many have had over the years.

The same goes for bungee jumping, walking on hot coals, diving with sharks or even climbing Mt. Everest. These are all things that you probably shouldn't do, and all could lead to disasterous results, but people do it anyway. Whether for the sense of accomplishment, or just the adrenaline rush. 

I understand that. I get that. What I have never understood, however, is that whole Polar Bear Club deal. I just don't see the point in it, though apparently that's not the case for Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.



Now, I ask you, what does this accomplish? I know Ferentz did this to help the Iowa Wrestling Club, so I'll give him a pass. He did it for charity, to help others, and there's nobility in that. But why would anybody else do it?

I have a friend who did this once in Lake Michigan in the dead of winter. When he told me about it and I asked him why, his answer was "I don't know." This is not an acceptable answer. He didn't know why he was doing it, yet he did it anyway. When he finished, I asked him if it was worth it.

"No, not really."

So while I give Ferentz a pass for it as he was doing it to help others, I implore the rest of you who have considered doing it just for the sake of doing it not to. Go jump out of a plane or something.

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 12:06 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 12:50 pm
 

Neinas says Big 12 comfortable at 10

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If we've learned anything over the last few years when it comes to conference realignment and expansion, it's basically that anything can happen no matter what anybody is saying. So keep that in mind when reading these latest quotes from the Big 12's interim commissioner Chuck Neinas on the Big 12's plans in the future.

The conference's expansion committee got together last week to discuss the possibility of further expansion, and while talking to West Virginia Illustrated over the weekend, Neinas made it sound like the committee decided that 10 is enough for now.

"The Board of Directors at the time West Virginia was admitted to the Big 12 asked the expansion committee to continue to monitor the landscape of college athletics," Neinas said. "We are currently at ten and very comfortable with ten.

"As a ten team conference you play every team in the conference for football. You are not skipping any opponent. There is not that argument that someone played Oklahoma and the other guy had to play a lesser team. In basketball, it is a double round-robin, so if you lose on the road, you get the same team at home. That is very appealing to our conference membership." 

Neinas also talked about how the conference doesn't really desire having its conference championship game return.

"Unlikely that there will be a conference championship game anytime in the near future," said Neinas. "There is, not unanimous, but heavy plurality favoring not having a conference championship or playoff because that brings about divisional play and that is where you get into a debate about strength of division." 

So it seems that, for now, the possibility of the Big 12 expanding back to 12 teams and adding a school like Louisville -- the school most frequently mentioned -- and another has been tabled for now. That being said, as I made clear at the beginning of this post, these things change pretty quickly.

After all, it might just be that since the Big 12 could be finding itself in court with the Big East over West Virginia in the near future, the conference doesn't want to come out and say "oh and we're gonna take Louisville too."

Speaking of West Virginia, Neinas also made it sound as if the Mountaineers will be playing in the Big 12 next fall. The conference has to release its schedule by February 1st, and according to Neinas that schedule has already been distributed to the conference's athletic directors and West Virginia is likely on it.

"Either West Virginia [will be on it] or the Green Bay Packers and I think it is more likely West Virginia," joked the commissioner.

If it does end up being the Packers, though, I know who I'm picking to win the title next season.

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