Tag:Big East
Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 4:20 pm
 

2012 NFL Draft Early Entry Tracker



Posted by Chip Patterson


With many draft-eligible juniors deciding to file the official evaluation paperwork with with NFL, we take a look at the hottest prospects with the option of declaring for the 2012 NFL Draft. Of the 32 players on Rob Rang's latest Big Board, 19 of them are eligible to return to school for at least one more season.

Keep up the marquee names from Rob's Big Board, with a few notable additions here at the CBSSports.com NFL Draft Early Entry Tracker.

[Updated Dec. 21]

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 1
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: In a surprise to no one, Luck believes he is "absolutely" ready to enter the NFL.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 2
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Matt Barkley has decided to return to USC for his senior season.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 3
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Richardson has decided not to make his decision until after the title game. He suggested that he would return for another year earlier in the season, but his tone has changed since the completion of the Tide's regular season. "I'm going to sit down with coach and my mom after the last game of the season and see what's best for me and my family and see what's best for the team," Richardson explained.

Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 4
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Kalil ended any hopes of a "package deal" return with Matt Barkley when he announced his intentions to enter the NFL Draft.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 5
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. Alabama, Jan. 9
The Latest: Claiborne won't make his decision official until after the title game, but many LSU fans expect he will take advantage of his high stock and make the jump after this season.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 6
What's Next: Alamo Bowl vs. Washington, Dec. 29
The Latest: Griffin hasn't committed to returning to Baylor for another season, but he hasn't announced the intention to turn pro either. However, his parents are reportedly interviewing prospective agents. So there's that.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 7
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Stanford, Jan. 2
The Latest: Blackmon ended the speculation early and has already declared his intentions to enter the NFL Draft. "I think it's just time. It's that time to go. I came back last year to win a Big 12 championship, set us up for a BCS bowl and I think we did that," Blackmon said.

David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 8
What's Nextst: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: CBSSports.com's Rob Rang reports that DeCastro will indeed enter the 2012 NFL Draft, capitalizing on his status as one of the top interior lineman in the class.

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 11
What's Next: Insight Bowl vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 30
The Latest: Reiff has started the last 25 Hawkeye games, but will not make his decision until he plays at least one more. "I haven't really thought about [the NFL Draft] yet at all," Reiff said. "When the time is right, I'll sit down and think about it. Right now, I'm just worried about the bowl and bowl preparations."

'Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 12
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Kirkpatrick has not addressed the NFL Draft, and likely will not until after the title game. Some scouts have considered Kirkpatrick a little raw, which may lead to his return for another year at Alabama. But the All-American corner has not given any hint which way he is leaning.

Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 13
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Martin is considered the second best tackle in the class behind Kalil, who reportedly has decided to make the leap to the NFL. Martin has yet to give any hint which way he is leaning, though with such a high position in the eyes of most scouts it would not be surprising to see him go.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 14
What's Next: Boston College finished the season 4-8, missing the postseason for the first time since 1998.
The Latest: The star linebacker broke school and ACC records for career tackles after leading the nation for the second year in a row with 191 tackles in 2011. The Lombardi Award winner said he hopes to announce his plans for next season "shortly after Christmas."

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 19
What's Next: Memphis finished the season 2-10, TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente was hired to replace Larry Porter as head coach. The Tigers went 3-21 in two seasons under Porter.
The Latest: Poe has "just been focusing on the here and now" and is in the process of gathering information on his draft stock. After Memphis' final game he said his mother, Sandra, will have the final say.

Mohammed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 23
What's Next: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Iowa State, Dec. 30
The Latest: The official word from Rutgers' athletic department is that no underclassmen have made a decision regarding the NFL Draft, but a report last week in Metro New York claims Sanu has informed the coaching staff of his decision to return to the Scarlet Knights for one more season.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 24
What's Next: Music City Bowl vs. Wake Forest, Dec. 30
The Latest: Cox will not address the decision to enter the NFL Draft until after the Music City Bowl. Head coach Dan Mullen said all of the juniors, including Cox, have filed their draft evaluation papers with the NFL.

Nick Perry, DE, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 25
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Perry is reportedly joining Kalil in the 2012 NFL Draft class.

Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 26
What's Next: Orange Bowl vs. West Virginia, Jan. 4
The Latest: Dwayne Allen has submitted the NFL paperwork for an official analysis from the league, but will not make his final decision until likely early January. That will give him two weeks to make a decision before the Jan. 15 deadline.

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 27
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia, Jan. 2
The Latest: Worthy told The Grand Rapids Press a decision regarding the NFL Draft would be made after the Outback Bowl.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 32
What's Next: After a 6-6 finish, Miami declared themselves ineligible for the postseason in response to the current NCAA inquiry into the football program.
The Latest: Lamar Miller has already declared his intentions to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2
The Latest: Jeffery has submitted the evaluation paperwork to the NFL, and will reportedly make his decision after getting his response in early January.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Rose Bowl vs. Oregon, Jan. 2
The Latest: Peter Konz has also submitted the official evaluation paperwork with the NFL, and will not address the decision until after the Rose Bowl. Konz missed the final three games of the season with an ankle injury, but is expected to begin practicing again soon.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Insight Bowl vs. Iowa, Dec. 30
The Latest: Jones has applied for draft evaluation, and recently acknowledged starting to think about the decision "a little bit more."  He will likely wait until after the bowl game, and hearing the results of his evaluation from the league.  “If it's right for me to go, I'm going to go," Jones explained on Tuesday.  "If it's right for me to stay, I'm going to stay. I just have to kind of think about it a little bit more.”

Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Hightower will not make an official decision until after the bowl game, but many expect the All-American linebacker to make the jump after this season.

Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl vs. UCLA, Dec. 31
The Latest: The All-American defensive end has been busy collecting end-of-season honors and has not made an official announcement, but Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline reports that Mecilus will likely forgo his final season with the Illini and go pro.

Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2
The Latest: Like Jeffery and the rest of the South Carolina juniors, Gilmore has applied for evaluation from the NFL.  Assistant coach Lorenzo Ward believes a "first or second round grade" from the evaluation would convince the junior to enter the draft.

Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Charles has applied for NFL evaluation along with the rest of his draft eligible teammates. "It's really going to come down to what the Lord wants me to do," Charles explained. "I'm going to pray about it, talk to my family and definitely wait until after the Michigan State game, and take it from there."

Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Like Charles, Rambo has publicly delayed the decision until after the bowl game and hearing a response from the league's draft evaluation.  Rambo leads the SEC with seven interceptions and was named an AP First Team All-American, but wants to see "what everyone thinks of me and what I can improve on."


For much more news, analysis and the latest mock drafts check out our CBSSports.com NFL Draft homepage

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 12:51 pm
 

Report: Fickell, Chryst among Pitt candidates

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's a lot to blame Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson for where the discombobulated state of his football program is concerned. But at least it sounds like he's got a plan in the wake of Todd Graham's stunning departure.

And according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the first name mentioned as part of that plan is Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. The Post-Gazette reported Friday that Rhoads "appears to be the most coveted of the group [of potential candidates] as ... Pederson and chancellor Mark Nordenberg like and respect him and think he is an excellent football coach."

A former Panther defensive coordinator under Dave Wannstedt who spent eight seasons on the Pitt staff, Rhoads declined to speak to Pederson following Wannstedt's firing in 2010 out of loyalty to the Cyclones. But "according to two people close to Rhoads" who spoke to the Post-Gaztte, this time around Rhoads would be willing to sit down with Pitt and "likely will talk with the administration" regarding the opening.

UPDATE, 12:45 ET: Actually, you can probably forget the Rhoads talk; ISU announced Friday that Rhoads had signed a 10-year contract extension with the school.

With Rhoads presumably off the table, the focus will turn towards who the Post-Gazette reports is also on the Panthers' potential list of candidates: Ohio State assistant/2010 head coach Luke Fickell, Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren and former Illinois and Florida head coach Ron Zook. Pederson reportedly feels strongly enough in that pool of candidates that the school is forgoing the use of a search committee.

Fickell has reportedly already interviewed, with Chryst due to interview this Saturday. Given the upheaval around him in Columbus, Fickell may be the leading candidate until further notice.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 10:56 am
 

PODCAST: Wrapping up the ACC and Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

It must be the holiday season, because Adam Aizer and I are in the giving sprit and delivering two conference wrap-up podcasts for the price of one. In this edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, Adam and I put a bow on the regular season in the ACC and the Big East and break down the best and worst of both conferences.

Pleasant surprises, biggest disappointments, conference awards and the best games of the season. What worked well for Mike London in his second year at Virginia? What didn't work well for Todd Graham at Pittsburgh and Randy Edsall at Maryland? We run down each team in the ACC and Big East and tell you what worked and what didn't in 2011.


Your emails could be read on the next edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, so send them in to podcast[at]cbsinteractive [dot] com.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.

You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer



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Posted on: December 15, 2011 4:16 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Belk Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LOUISVILLE WILL WIN IF: the Cardinals can get things going on the ground. Sounds simple enough, but it's hardly coincidence that the Cards went 7-1 in games in which they topped 100 rushing yards -- including all six of their 5-1 sprint to the 2011 finish line -- and 0-4 in games in which they didn't. With true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater still learning the ropes when it comes to putting the ball in the air (the Cards averaged just 24 pass attempts a game over those final six), the Cards simply don't have the means to overcome consistent 3rd-and-long situations. And that probably goes double against the Wolfpack, who boast All-American safety candidate David Amerson and ranked 31st in the country in opposing quarterback rating. The NCSU rush defense was somewhat softer, though (ranking 41st) and the Cardinal offensive line picked up some legitimate steam down the stretch; if they can give talented backs Victor Anderson and Dominique Brown just a few seams to work with, the Cards should be able to move the ball just enough to earn the victory.

N.C. STATE WILL WIN IF: they likewise can get things going in the air. While the Cards likely need some semblance of balance to make their offense work, the Wolfpack should probably just forget trying to run the ball in this matchup; Charlie Strong's defense boasts the 10th-best rush D numbers in the FBS, while the NCSU running attack is ranked 107th. That's a no-go. But Mike Glennon quietly enjoyed a steady-if-unspectacular season under center for the Wolfpack (28 TDs-to-11 INTs) and a deep corps of receivers emerged with six different targets finishing with 25 or more receptions. The Cards struggled with viable passing attacks, too, yielding 11.8 yards an attempt to FIU, 410 yards on more than 9 an attempts to West Virginia, even 8.5 an attempt to Tino Sunseri at Pitt. If the Wolfpack can keep Glennon upright  -- the Cards finished 19th nationally in sacks -- there will be some holes for the Wolfpack to exploit.

THE X-FACTOR: red zone efficiency. While we can talk about what the offenses do and don't bring to the table, don't make any mistake: this is a "battle" between the nation's 104th- and 93rd-ranked total offenses going against a pair of top-40 defenses, and points are going to be at an extreme premium. (That's Louisville and N.C. State, respectively, but the order hardly matters; in yards per-play, the Cards are 91st and NCSU 107th.) That means whatever rare opportunities these two attacks get to put points on the board must be taken advantage of; don't be surprised to see a 17-13 type of scoreline where one touchdown for one side vs. one field goal for the other proves the difference.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview

Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:24 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 10:25 pm
 

Zach Collaros 'optimistic' he can play in bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Cincinnati starting quarterback Zach Collaros came close to seeing his career as a Bearcat come to an end when he suffered a broken ankle on Nov. 12 in a 24-21 loss to West Virginia. Collaros was ruled out for the remainder of the regular-season immediately, but his rapid recovery kept the door open on a return for the postseason. According to Tom Groeschen, of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the senior quarterback has already done some 7-on-7 drills and is "pretty optimistic" he can play in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.

"I'm just getting as much rehab as possible. I've been living in the training room," Collaros explained on Wednesday. "I'm just going to keep doing whatever they tell me to do, and hopefully my body heals."

Collaros still has yet to run on the injured ankle, but head coach Butch Jones did say the quarterback is "way ahead of schedule" in his recovery. Jones explained what the coaches and staff will be looking for, and said it's about 50/50 whether Collaros would finish his Cincinnati career in the bowl game against Vanderbilt.

"The next week is going to be critical with some game-speed repetitions, and we'll see if he continues to progress," Jones said on Wednesday. "Each day he gets better and better. The big thing we're monitoring with his limited activity right now is the amount of swelling. The swelling has really been controlled, but it's really too early to tell if he'll be able to go or not."

The quarterbacking duties for the remainder of the regular season were primarily in the hands of sophomore Munchie Leguax, with Jordan Luallen serving as a change-of-pace rushing threat. Leguax finished the season 2-1 as a starter, helping the Bearcats claim a share of their third Big East conference title in four years. West Virginia claimed the three-team BCS tie-breaker with Cincinnati and Louisville, but the 9-3 finish was a huge step forward for Butch Jones is his second year with the program.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 9:43 pm
 

Pitt players react to Todd Graham's departure

Posted by Chip Patterson

Todd Graham's departure from Pittsburgh to accept the head coaching job at Arizona State came as a big surprise to the college football world, especially the Pittsburgh players and administration. The school has already issued their official statement of disappointment, but the current Panthers took their displeasure to Twitter.

It wasn't pretty, either.

Below are a few selections from defensive end Brandon Lindsey (@B_Lindsey7), wide receiver Devin Street (@D_Street_15), and wide receiver Salath Williams (@WiLLiando17). Graham reportedly informed the team by text message as he was on the way to Tempe to be officially introduced as the next coach of the Sun Devils. Lindsey and Street, in particular, spent a great deal of Wednesday voicing their frustrations. If you'd like you can check out their pages in the links above - but warning, some language is NSFW.








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Posted on: December 14, 2011 5:18 pm
 

Pitt releases statement on Todd Graham

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Wednesday the college football world was caught off-guard when it was announced that Pitt head coach Todd Graham was leaving the school to take the same position at Arizona State. The news came as a surprise since Graham just took the job at Pitt this season and his name hadn't been mentioned as a candidate.

As you'd expect, Pitt isn't exactly thrilled with the way things went down, and didn't try and hide that in the statement the school released.

“Obviously this is not the way we would have expected Mr. Graham to handle any possible departure,” Pitt executive vice chancellor and general counsel Jerry Cochran said in the statement. “Beyond normal expectations with respect to professional conduct, he has failed to comply with the terms of his contract.”

Yes, the idea of Pitt complaining about Graham not complying with the terms of his contract considering all that's gone on with Pitt and the Big East the last few months is a bit laughable.

The statement also says that Graham asked for permission to speak to another institution on Tuesday night and was denied permission by the school. He then resigned from his position and was named the head coach at Arizona State on Wednesday.

Graham says that it was personal, not professional reasons for the change. He went the Randy Edsall route and called Arizona State his "dream job" and talked about having family in the area on Wednesday.

Though there are also reports that Graham sent "feelers" out to both Kansas and Texas A&M about their job openings recently as well. Whether Graham has many different dreams or just has family all over the country, I don't know. All we really know is that he'll now be starting his fourth head coaching job since 2006 when he took the job at Rice and left for Tulsa after a season. 
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 11:23 pm
 

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sometimes the coaching carousel spins slowly, and other times the college football world is blindsided by a surprise hire in the winter months. The news of Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham departing to accept the vacant job at Arizona State came from the carousel's rapid spin cycle.

Graham's decision to leave Pittsburgh happened so quickly he did not take the time to tell his team in person, instead he sent them a text as he left for Tempe for Wednesday's announcement. After the Sun Devils' negotiations with SMU head coach June Jones reportedly broke down in the final moments, the school was happy to seal the deal quickly with Graham.

 "Criteria for our head coach was established, and the word that was at the forefront of discussions was `energy'... energy towards promoting our program in the community and with former players," Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love said in a statement. "Energy towards instilling discipline, leadership and in recruiting. Energy towards representing our brand in every facet of the program. In Todd, we have not only hired a young and sitting head coach, but one with a history of success on the field and in hiring top-notch assistant coaches."

Graham's arrival at Arizona State is their answer to recent Pac-12 additions like Mike Leach at Washington State and Rich Rodriguez at in-state rival Arizona. But as Graham promised to move the ball down the field in his first day as head coach, he used the same motto he relied on when introducing himself to Pittsburgh fans.

 "Obviously, our offense is going to be high octane, it's going to be quick-strike, explosive," said Graham, 49-29 in six years as head coach. "Our whole deal is about explosive plays. I like to see the ball thrown down the field."

That "high-octane" phrase was one Graham pounded so hard into the mind of Pittsburgh fans, he had it plastered on the newly redesigned website for "high-octane Pitt football." Needless to say, the Panthers' fans and administration are not pleased that Graham did not stick around to deliver on his high-octane promises.  Players from the current Pittsburgh roster were furious, and took to Twitter to vent their frustrations through social media.  The administration showed their disappointment in a more traditional manner with a press release.

 "Obviously this is not the way we would have expected Mr. Graham to handle any possible departure," Pitt executive vice chancellor and general counsel Jerry Cochran said. "Beyond normal expectations with respect to professional conduct, he has failed to comply with the terms of his contract."

The only "high-octane" aspect of Graham's offense this season was watching quarterback Tino Sunseri run for his life as the Panthers allowed an FBS-high 57 sacks during the regular season. Pittsburgh ranked in the bottom half of the Big East in passing and scoring offense. The one offensive highlight from the Panthers' first season under Graham was the explosion of running back Ray Graham, who averaged over 130 yards per game before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

The 6-6 Panthers will be coached by defensive coordinator Keith Patterson against SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7.  Click here to check out the latest on the Panthers and Mustangs at the BBVA Compass Bowl Pregame

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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