Posted on: November 24, 2010 11:26 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It's starting to look like Minnesota may finally be moving closer to their goal of finding a new head coach. According to a few reports, San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke talked to an official from the University of Minnesota about the head coaching job over the weekend. Hoke wouldn't go into details when asked about any meetings, but he did admit that a meeting took place.
"I did have an informal conversation about an opening that's out there," said Hoke. The Aztecs coach also said he wasn't going into any details "out of respect for that other school and the kids we have here that we're 100 percent committed to and will stay committed to."
Which sounds nice, but I'm not exactly sure how you can say you're 100 percent committed to the kids you currently have about 15 seconds after you admit you just talked to another school about another job. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming Hoke for taking the meeting, I would too.
As for who Hoke had the meeting with, Monday Night Football sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya said on her radio show Tuesday that she shared a plane from San Diego back to Minnesota with a few familiar faces. Those faces being Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi and his assistant Dave Mona. Though I suppose it's possible that they were just in San Diego for the weekend on holiday.
Minnesota has said that it would like to have its head coaching search wrapped up before the holidays, and while the prospect of finding someone before Thursday doesn't seem strong, it's possible that the school could have its coach by the end of next week. After all, when Hoke left Ball State to take over in San Diego, he did so at the end of the regular season and before the bowl game.
It's not crazy to think he'd do it again.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 11:34 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It's been a pretty frustrating last few weeks for Illinois football. The team was at 4-4, and only had to split its final four games against beatable teams like Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Fresno State to get back to a bowl game. So far the Illini have dropped one to Michigan in triple-overtime, and just lost at home to Minnesota -- a team that had won one game and fired its head coach earlier this season.
So, it would be hard to blame anybody on the team from being upset, but even so, that doesn't mean you should go out and beat the crap out of somebody. Which is apparently what sophomore lineback Evan Frierson did. Frierson was arrested for aggravated battery, and has been suspended indefinitely according to a team spokesman.
Frierson has played in limited duty this season, playing in nine games, but only making six tackles. He played more as a freshman last season while helping to fill in for Martez Wilson, who missed most of the 2009 season with a neck injury.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 3:37 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When the season started, the hot seat discussion in the Big Ten centered on their either-or question of who'd get the ax first? The so-fired-already Tim Brewster at Minnesota , or the equally-fired Ron Zook at Illinois .
It turned out that the correct answer was Brewster, as the head Gopher couldn't even make it past midseason and Zook's inspired-looking new hires at both coordinators' positions got the Illini out to a surprising 5-3 start. But if you can take the Zook out of the hot seat, however, temporarily, you really can't take the hot seat out of the Zook; his Illini handed the coach-less, hapless Gophers their first Big Ten win of the season today, falling 38-34 at home.
Making the loss even more brutal was how close the Illini came to another comfortable victory, going up 34-24 with 8:14 to play in the fourth quarter on a 55-yard Mikel LeShoure touchdown run. But the Gophers answered back with a 90-yard kickoff return for a DeLeon Eskridge touchdown run just 19 seconds later, and an expertly-executed Gopher two-minute drill resulted in a second Eskridge score with just 16 seconds to play.
Let's be clear about this: Zook is probably still safe at Illinois. There won't be a long list of better candidates available for the Illini, and even after today, 2010 has still been a dramatic improvement on the program's crushingly disappointing 2009.
But Illinois has now whiffed twice on the sixth win necessary for a bowl invite, and in two eminently winnable games. Now they'll need a big road win at either Northwestern or Fresno State , or the Illini will stay home for the third straight season. Improvement on 2009 or not, weak pool of candidates or not, there's a breaking point even at Illinois, and more than ever it seems like Zook's tenure is simply determined to find out where that is.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 5:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Sometimes, a news story isn't so much a news story as mere confirmation. For instance, after Penn State sophomore walk-on quarterback Matt McGloin tore apart visiting Michigan in a 41-31 win in relief of nominal starter Robert Bolden , and then led the Nittany Lions out of a 21-0 hole with 35 straight points to beat Northwestern after two series with Bolden went nowhere, it would take an extremely stubborn coach not to decide that McGloin had earned the starting position.
And Joe Paterno didn't win 400 games by being stubborn , not that Bolden is out of the picture just yet:
Paterno said he had intended to reinsert Bolden [against Northwesten], but McGloin got hot and finished with 225 passing yards and four touchdowns. McGloin has thrown for seven scores the last three games, with one pick.By this stage, though, there might not be many Nittany Lion fans who'd agree. McGloin is sporting a 7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio compared to Bolden's 5-to-7, is averaging .7 more yards per pass attempt (7.9 to 7.2), and has a passer rating some 34 points higher (154.83 to 120.16). McGloin has had the benefit of facing three less-than-killer defenses in Minnesota , Michigan, and Northwestern, but there's also not much arguing with a three-game win streak or the kind of listlessness the offense displayed under Bolden in losses to Iowa and Illinois .
Of course, it won't take long to determine if McGloin is a product of his opponents or not; this week's Nittany Lion opponent is Ohio State , the No. 3 defense in the country, and the Lions will be on the road in Columbus. If McGloin can play well enough to keep Bolden on the bench in those kinds of circumstances, it'll be worth asking if we'll see the true freshman again this season ... and if a player who began the season as a third-string afterthought is JoePa's official Quarterback of the Future.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 12:43 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier this morning I wrote about the interest Minnesota has in San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke and said that if the Gophers are seriously interested, they should probably act quickly because Colorado may turn its attention towards Hoke as well. Well, maybe they don't have to after all.
Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano held a teleconference with local media on Wednesday morning, and although he says he won't get in the way of whatever athletic director Mike Bohn wants to do in his coaching search, he feels that the school would be best served to look for a new coach who has experience in either the Big 12 or Pac-10.
“A coach who is either successful now as a head coach or has recent coaching experience either with someone from the Pac 12 or the Big 12," said DiStefano. "Somebody in a conference similar to, if not equal to, the conference that we’re joining.”
DiStefano also said that he thinks moving to the Pac-10-soon-to-be-12 will help Colorado in its efforts to replace Dan Hawkins.
“I think going to the Pac 12 is actually going to help us,” DiStefano said. “The limited financial resources we have, we’re more similar to the teams in the Pac 12 than in the Big 12. I think we’ll fare well in the Pac 12, but we’ll probably have to look at some upgrades in facilities. And I don’t know what those are and I’ll certainly leave those up to Mike to work with, but I think that will be a priority for a new coach coming in.”
Now exactly who the next head coach will be, nobody knows, but Mike Bohn did say that there is no timetable to find a replacement.
Posted on: November 7, 2010 2:32 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 2:58 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. Michigan doesn't do "boring." The game of the week, beyond any doubt, was Michigan's 67-65 squeaker over Illinois. The game featured 132 points scored, 1237 yards from scrimmage, 58 first downs, and 60:00 total time of possession. Okay, so the last one is normal.
Down the stretch, Michigan was led by Tate Forcier under center, as Denard Robinson was knocked out of a game once again. Forcier effectively reprised his role of "4th quarter dynamo" from 2009, proving yet again the rare value of an experienced backup quarterback. Forcier is clearly not Denard, but the fact remains that Forcier is good enough that he should be spelling Robinson periodically throughout Michigan's game regardless of Robinson's health. Michigan has two starting-quality quarterbacks, and as Robinson's accumulation of minor injuries demonstrates, they clearly need to use them! It's just up to Rich Rodriguez to use both on his own terms, rather than waiting for Robinson to get knocked out of the game first.
Thus, the only game that Michigan has participated in that didn't result in at least 50 total points was its season-opening 30-10 win over Connecticut; since then, whenever Michigan takes the gridiron, the points fly; on average, a Michigan game features almost 73 points per game. In fact, after today's circus act, Michigan leads the Big Ten in both points per game and points allowed per game. Is it "good football"? Lord, no. Is it exciting? Of course. If that's the role Michigan is destined to play under Rich Rodriguez, it's certainly a step down for the Wolverines, but it's not necessarily worse for the conference as a whole.
2. The road is awful hard. It don't take no guff. No. 9 Wisconsin went on the road to Purdue and trailed until the second half. No. 16 Iowa went to Indiana and needed a horrific dropped touchdown on 4th down (more on this later) to escape with an 18-13 win. Northwestern blew a 21-0 lead at Happy Valley, Minnesota got smacked by Michigan State, and Illinois couldn't win in Ann Arbor even after scoring 65 points.
All of which is to say, winning on the road in the Big Ten is still really difficult. It's something to keep in mind when prognosticating the Rose Bowl berth endgame. Regardless of how good the four teams at the top of the conference are, odds are that at least one (and probably more) will go down on the road yet this season, and we shouldn't be surprised when it happens.
3. Nothing's really changed at the top. Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa all won, and we're still waiting on a score from Ohio State and Brigham Young East (we assume that's what BYE stands for). The tiebreakers remain exactly the same, then, with the only difference being that there is now one fewer game for the first three teams mentioned to lose. With a finite -- and indeed, extremely limited -- amount of games to play, the passage of one week without a dropoff from the top four is in and of itself important, even if the stipulations and situations themselves don't change. Perhaps this isn't something to "have learned," per se , but for the top of the conference, the maintenance of the status quo is still meaningful.
4. Penn State's offense might actually exist. When Northwestern went up 21-0 on a sensational Drake Dunsmore* touchdown late in the first half, it would have been perfectly logical to assume that the Penn State offensive attack, led by former walk-on Matt McGloin, didn't have much of a shot to make up the deficit. After all, it would have tied the largest deficit a Joe Paterno-coached Penn State team had ever made up in his previous 399 victories, and that's a lot of victories.
But of course, Penn State did exactly that, scoring the final 35 points of the game to win 35-21. McGloin poured in four touchdown passes, but the real heroes were on PSU's oft-maligned offensive line; the front five paved enough holes to let both Evan Royster and Silas Redd top 100 rushing yards on the day, and McGloin's 225 passing yards simply wouldn't have happened if he had faced the pressure that regular starter Rob Bolden has become used to in this, his freshman season. Imagine that: when given time and space to operate, a previous all-conference honoree once again looked like an all-conference player, and a walk-on quarterback was able to execute to the best of his ability.
5. One quiet moment for Damario Belcher. We mentioned this play in passing earlier, but it's worth mentioning in more detail; with less than 30 seconds on the clock and the Hoosiers facing a 4th and 10 at the Iowa 18, Indiana QB Ben Chappell found wideout Damario Belcher open in the middle of the end zone. Belcher, already the team's leading receiver on the game with seven catches for 50 yards, made an athletic move to catch the ball with nobody on him and got both hands on it, leading most in the stadium to assume Indiana had scored the putative winning touchdown.
Alas, as an eagle-eyed referee (and several optimistic Iowa players) noticed, Belcher bobbled the pass and never controlled it before the ball hit the ground and rolled away ineffectually, making the play nothing more than a drive-killing incomplete pass. Indiana challenged, but it was an easy confirmation for replay officials; it clearly was not a catch. Iowa knelt on the ball, and just like that, Indiana lost on a play Belcher makes probably 90-95% of the time.
Again, this isn't strictly something to learn, but it's something important to remember: Belcher's a human being, and he doesn't need anybody to remind him that he screwed the game-winning play up. There's likely nobody in the world -- like, at all -- who feels worse about the loss than he does. So to anybody who finds it necessary to complain that Belcher "sucks" or is "stupid" or "needs to get his damn head in the game" or whatever arbitrary derogatory remark they think applies to Belcher, one piece of advice: save it. Just don't add to the crapfest that guy's season already became, and strike a note for civility instead. Granted, Indiana football fans aren't generally known to be nasty or otherwise unreasonable to begin with or anything, but still: let's all keep our heads screwed on about this game and this 20-year-old kid playing it.
*Did you know: Drake Dunsmore is a second-generation college football player. His father is Pat Dunsmore, a star tight end who was drafted in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears in 1983 and played two seasons with the team. And where did Pat Dunsmore go to school? Yep: Drake University.
Tags: Ben Chappell, Big Ten, Chicago Bears, Damario Belcher, Denard Robinson, Drake, Drake Dunsmore, Drake Dunsmore Catch, Drake Dunsmore Video, Evan Royster, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Joe Paterno, Joe Paterno 400 Wins, Matt McGloin, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pat Dunsmore, Penn State, Purdue, Rich Rodriguez, Silas Redd, Tate Forcier, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:26 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:06 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Since firing Tim Brewster , just about every college football coach who has experienced any kind of success in the last 20 years running a program has had his name pop up as a possible candidate to take the head coaching job at Minnesota . Names like Mike Leach , Tony Dungy , Chris Petersen , Gary Patterson and even Lou Holtz have been tossed out as candidates. All coaches who probably wouldn't leave their current gigs for the Gophers without a gun pointed to their heads.
Another coach who had been named, and is actually out of work and looking to get back in the game, is former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer . Fulmer would be a much more viable candidate than somebody like Petersen or Patterson, but there's one small problem for Minnesota. According to a radio report, he doesn't want the job.
Jimmy Hyams , a radio host at Knoxville's WNML-AM/FM, said on his show Thursday that he contacted Fulmer about his interest in the Minnesota job and that Fulmer said it "was not a good fit" for him. Which isn't all that surprising. Odds are that at the age of 60, if Fulmer wants to get back in to coaching he's going to want to do so at a program that won't provide such a sizable challenge as Minnesota does.
The Gophers aren't built to compete in the Big Ten right now, and it would take years before any coach was able to get the program on par with schools like Ohio State , Wisconsin , Iowa , Nebraska and even Michigan .
Posted on: November 3, 2010 2:05 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:06 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Halloween was four days ago, but it seems that Minnesota refuses to take off it's costume. It decided to dress up as a big-time football program this year, and go from coach's door to coach's door offering each one the opportunity to take over for Tim Brewster.
So far in the Minnesota coaching search we've heard some big names. Guys like Tony Dungy, Mike Leach and Phillip Fulmer have all been mentioned as possible targets for the Gophers. Well, while it is somewhat delusional for Minnesota to think that it's the type of school that a coach would view as a step forward in their career, the Gophers want you to know that we've only seen the beginning of their delusions.
According to a report in the Pioneer Press, the Gophers have three other targets atop their list.
At least the University of Minnesota is shooting high in its quest for a new football coach.Look, everyone! Minnesota thinks it's people!
Seriously, while I admire Minnesota shooting for the stars in its search for a new coach, who exactly is it trying to kid here? Chris Petersen is at a program like Boise State that doesn't seem to have much in its way to a BCS bowl game every season, and if he chose to leave Idaho, he'd have his choice of just about any program in the country with an opening.
Why would he choose Minnesota?
Then you have Jim Harbaugh, who might be looking to leave Stanford for a job in the Big Ten, but that job is in Ann Arbor, not Minneapolis.
Gary Patterson is in much the same boat as Peterson, but it's possible that TCU could be moving to the Big East in the future, which would basically be a guaranteed trip to a BCS game every season as well. Plus, Minnesota considered Patterson before hiring Brewster, and he wasn't all that interested then, so why would he be now?
I get why Minnesota is going this route. First of all, you never really know. If they drive up to one of these coaches homes with a Brinks truck full of cash, someone might just say yes. It also looks good to the fan base that the school can say they tried to land the big name coach.
But it's not going to happen.