Tag:Dana Holgorsen
Posted on: February 26, 2011 2:03 am
 

Rarity: West Virginia turns a non-BCS bowl profit

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's not exactly news that the bowl system is not set up with the invited teams' best financial interests in mind. Every year, there are numerous stories from the teams invited to minor bowls about how the athletic department actually lost money (or, at the very least, made a few thousand dollars), and the story is so commonplace that it doesn't make national headlines.

In fact, the West Virginia Mountaineers recently announced that the program made a $144,750 profit on its trip to the Champs Sports Bowl back in December. And as non-BCS bowls are concerned, in actuality, that level of profit is actually pretty solid.

And yet, at the same time, the question has to be asked: how in the world does under $150,000 qualify as an unusually positive outcome for a bowl invitation? The Charleston Gazette wondered exactly that, and it wasn't exactly impressed with the answers:

Considering the current bowl setup, West Virginia officials did well. They were thrilled.

"The interesting thing," said WVU deputy athletic director Mike Parsons, "is our ticket sales didn't meet what we've had in the past, but we still turned a profit."

It's a point of pride, as it should be. According to [the book Death to the BCS], "nearly 60 percent of schools spend more money to participate in bowls than the games offer in payouts."

Consider the situation. WVU's athletic department funded this expensive football team. It took that team to another city to make money for that city and ESPN; it entertained the nation; and it walked away with $144,750. There are incentive bonuses in coach Dana Holgorsen's new contract that pay more.

But there was also the expense of unsold or, as Parsons said is more correctly, "absorbed" tickets.

The bowl cartel, in this instance, persuaded the Big East and Atlantic Coast conferences to agree that their representatives would be "responsible for" 12,500 tickets each. Parsons said his school sold but 4,700 tickets. It had to buy around 500 tickets for the band. (You read correctly. Not only do the schools' bands provide halftime entertainment, they have to pay to do so.) Schools are allowed to, and expected to, provide tickets for players' families. Parsons said that accounted for over 800 tickets to the Champs bowl. (Odd to me for 85 scholarship players, but ... ) He said 200-400 tickets are for the department's staff.

I suspect the reason the bowls are allowed to continue offloading the risk of running a bowl onto the participants is that going to a bowl is a near-universal bonus for a football team. And that's not from a prestige or financial perspective; donors barely care about minor bowls and as the aforementioned book pointed out, most schools lose money by going to bowl games. No, the primary benefit is one codified by the NCAA, which states that teams with bowl bids are allowed several extra weeks of practice in preparation for the final game.

Such a rule makes sense, of course; a 4-8 team has no immediate athletic task in front of it in the middle of December, after all. But it's not as if there's no incentive to keep throwing its kids out into full-contact practice without an opponent to prepare for; all time a coach can get organizing practice helps his team improve, regardless of when in the year the practices happen.

If non-bowl teams were allowed the same practice time as bowl teams, then, it would remove one specific and unfair incentive for teams to accept bowl bids and allow the teams to evaluate whether going to a bowl game or not is in the athletic department's best financial interests. In these tough economic times, it's only fair to afford schools that opportunity without what amounts to an institutional mandate that the teams accept the bowl bid, is it not? Thus, we totally expect the NCAA to reverse course, rule in favor of its schools instead of the bowls and their sponsors, and decide that member teams will not be coerced into losing money by agreeing to ticket guarantees just to attend a bowl game. That's who the NCAA works for, right? The member schools?

 

Posted on: February 9, 2011 6:39 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 3:36 pm
 

OK State hires Todd Monken as new O-coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Not many coaches left behind bigger shoes to fill this offseason than Dana Holgorsen, the man behind the Oklahoma State offense ranked No. 3 in the country last season. Now we know the man who's going to do his best to fill them.

The Cowboys and head coach Mike Gundy announced today that that man is Jacksonville Jaguars assistant coach Todd Monken, who had coached the Jaguar wideouts for the previous four seasons and had just been promoted to the team's quarterback coaching position for 2011. Monken has experience in Stillwater, having coached receivers for Les Miles from 2002 to 2004 before moving with Miles to LSU.

While Monken's position coaching resume (and Big 12 and SEC experience) is impressive, he's only spent two years as a coordinator at the college level, running the Eastern Michigan attack all the way back in 1998 and 1999. Going 12 years between calling plays might mean that Monken will have to knock some of the rust off. Monken also comes to OSU without a single firm offensive identity; as he says in this Q&A , he's worked in several different offensive systems and is "flexible" above anything else.

But the good news for Cowboys fans is that if Gundy believes Monken can adapt to the Cowboy's trademark spread and help keep it humming, there's an excellent chance he'll do just that. Gundy's track record as a hirer of offensive coordinators is outstanding, with Larry Fedora and Holgorsen both moving onto head coaching jobs after smashingly successful tenures in Stillwater. Between Gundy's expertise, Monken's experience, and weapons like Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, the Cowboys shouldn't see too big a slip on offense ... no matter how big Holgorsen's shoes might be.


Posted on: January 21, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 12:57 pm
 

Mike Leach should just let this go

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Associated Press reported this morning that an appeals court has dismissed Mike Leach's lawsuit claiming that Texas Tech had committed a breach of contract  when they fired him in January of last year, and denied his claims for monetary damages. But not surprisingly -- given Leach's by-now famously stubborn temperament and own law degree -- Leach and his representation say they will file an appeal of the ruling, and hope to take the case to the Texas Supreme Court.

This may or may not be the right move, legally speaking. (This blogger is certainly no lawyer.) But in terms of Leach's coaching career, currently in a state of suspended animation, the appeal won't do anything to help get him back on the sidelines.

Because at this point, it's fair to assume that Leach's legal entanglements have become a major roadblock between Leach and his next head coaching gig. 22 schools hired new head coaches this offseason, and only Maryland gave Leach so much as an interview. For a coach with Leach's oft-stated (very oft-stated) desire to return to coaching and his impeccable resume -- exciting offenses, high graduation rates, no NCAA trouble, a legitimate national championship contender built in the relative hinterlands of Lubbock -- the snubs are otherwise inexplicable.

Take the case of Dana Holgorsen, a Leach disciple running Leach's offense. Why is he one of the hottest coaching commodities in the country, even without any head coaching experience at the FBS level, while Leach -- who all-but-invented the offense Holgorsen runs and has a decade of highly successful head coaching under his belt -- can't get a sniff? Why hire the guy you're hoping becomes the next Leach when you can just hire the real thing?

The only logical answer is Leach's reputation for prickliness and the ugliness of the legal dispute between himself and Texas Tech. As one official at a BCS-conference school told Sports Illustrated :
"When you're looking for the promise of a new day, you don't want to have to account for those cloudy days from years past," said a senior athletic administrator whose BCS-conference school had a recent opening but never considered Leach. "Wherever he is hired, it's going to be difficult not to have that opening press conference and those opening profiles include what happened at Texas Tech."
Leach may eventually have his day in court. But it looks like that day, more than ever, may cost him years of his coaching prime. If he's serious about getting back to football (and about repairing his image, fair or not, as an unmanageable maverick), it's likely long beyond the point where the appeal should have been dropped.
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.

Posted on: January 19, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Ok St. loses assistant Brewer to Ole Miss

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A major part of Oklahoma State's rampant offensive success the past several seasons has been head coach Mike Gundy's keen eye for spotting offensive-minded coaching talent. But after losing yet another offensive assistant to another program, it might be time to ask: has Gundy's eye been too keen for the Cowboys' own good?

Former Poke play-caller Larry Fedora was hired as Southern Miss's head coach. Fedora's one-time co-offensive coordinator Trooper Taylor just won a national title as Auburn's receivers coach. Dana Holgorsen spent just one brilliant season in Stillwater before agreeing to become West Virginia's head coach after a one-year apprenticeship. And as of today, Gundy's most recent receivers coach (and his 2008-2009 co-coordinator), Gunter Brewer, has also flown the coop; he's following his father's footsteps to Ole Miss.

As Kyle Veazey of the Clarion-Ledger reports, it sounds like Brewer was just waiting for the right time to come back to same school where his father, Billy Brewer, once served as head coach:

“It’s good to always be coming home,” Brewer said. “So I’m looking forward to the journey. Done some outstanding things at Oklahoma State, and I hope to carry that over to Ole Miss and just expand on that.”

Brewer said he always tried to stay in touch with Ole Miss over the years to see if the timing would be right for an opportunity to join the Rebel staff. “When the opportunity arose, (Houston Nutt ) asked if I might be interested,” Brewer said. “And he was wanting to look at some things offensively that we’ve had success here at Oklahoma State and other places."

In this particular case, it's not that that success was what yanked Brewer out of Stillwater; without his family ties to Oxford, it seems clear he'd still be on Gundy's staff. Then again, it's also clear that if he hadn't put together the kind of resume under Gundy he did -- Brewer was the position coach for All-Americans like Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon -- Nutt wouldn't have bothere reciprocating Brewer's interest in the first place.

At some point, the Cowboys have to wonder just what it takes to keep their offensive staff intact for more than a year. (With T. Boone Pickens footing the bill, you wouldn't think salaries would be an issue.) The price of success is always high, but for whatever reason, it's seemed particularly steep at Oklahoma State.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 4:56 pm
 

What I learned from the Big East (Bowl Edition)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Don't let the conference's 4-2 record fool you - While some might have boasted that the Big East's bowl record made up for a season of mediocrity, a closer look at the games on the slate do not impress quite as much. Pittsburgh and South Florida's wins were over teams that finished 6-7, and Syracuse's controversial win over Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl is far less dramatic when you realize the Wildcats only won three conference games all season. Having said that, the bowls try to make each matchup as even as possible. It would not be completely misguided to give the Big East teams credit for representing their conference well, just don't let it fool you into misjudging the caliber of performance from the league as a whole in 2010.

2. Pittsburgh impressed with focus despite distractions - Of all the teams that dealt with transition amidst the postseason, Pittsburgh entered their bowl game with the least stable situation. Interim coach Phil Bennett took over as the Panthers were forced to dismiss new coach Mike Haywood almost immediately after the former Miami (Ohio) coach was arrested for a domestic dispute off the field. Bennett did a good job of keeping the Panthers focused on Kentucky rather than the off-field speculation surrounding the vacant coaching position. Many of the Panthers players felt that Dave Wannstedt was forced out prematurely, and Pittsburgh dedicated 27-10 victory to their former coach. Instead it was Kentucky, dealing with off-field arrests themselves, who appeared distracted and uninterested in the awkwardly timed BBVA Compass Bowl on the Saturday before the BCS Championship Game.

3. Connecticut's storybook season had a sour ending - This was supposed to be a memorable season for Connecticut. After less than a decade of being in the FBS, and only having been in the conference since 2004, the Huskies found themselves sharing a piece of the Big East Championship and earning a BCS Bowl bowl bid to face Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Hardly anyone actually expected Connecticut to pull off the upset, but the fashion in which the Huskies lost and the events that followed may have tarnished a legendary season for the program. Oklahoma's defense did not shut down Connecticut completely, as they were able to rack up 335 total yards of total offense. But the Huskies inability to get an offensive touchdown, along with a pair of Zach Frazer interceptions and a non-existent defense made the Fiesta Bowl loss more frustrating than uplifting.

To make matters worse, head coach Randy Edsall took a different chartered plane back from Arizona than the rest of the team. The reason was so Edsall could finalize the details on his new gig as head coach of the Maryland Terrapins, a job he accepted the next day after the Oklahoma loss. Edsall mentioned nothing of the move to the players after the game, and only addressed them through a conference call after the announcement. Now the Huskies will try to build on last season's success with veteran coach Paul Pasqualoni, hoping to make sure that last season was not a fluke.

4. Changing of the guard amongst the Big East coaching ranks - Of the four teams that picked up wins in the 2010 bowl season, three of them were led by first or second-year coaches. Big East football fans can be hopeful for the future if it continues to see success under the leadership of coaches like Syracuse's Doug Marrone, South Florida's Skip Holtz, and Louisville's Charlie Strong. All three coaches inherited teams going through disappointing and/or controversial seasons, and all three coaches guided their 2010 squads to postseason victories. The turnover has continued throughout the conference, with Todd Graham hopping on board at Pittsburgh, Pasqualoni at Connecticut, and Dana Holgorsen waiting in the wings at West Virginia. When TCU arrives in the July 2012, the transition into the next era of Big East football will be complete. The struggle will be to continuing to battle a damaged reputation that hasn't been the same since Miami and Virginia Tech left the conference in 2004.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Headset Reset: the Big East and Mountain West

Posted by Tom Fornelli

"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in the Big East and Mountain West

TODD GRAHAM, Pitt

Why him? Because Mike Haywood got arrested two weeks after he was hired. Also because Graham put together some successful offenses at Tulsa. For 2011, Graham needs to: build a strong offense without the services of Pitt's two best offensive players Jonathan Baldwin and Dion Lewis.  Luckily for Graham, Dave Wannstedt recruited good players to Pitt, but Graham will have to mold them to his offense. By 2014, Graham will need to have: won a Big East title and taken the Panthers to a BCS bowl.  Dave Wannstedt won more games than he lost at Pitt, but it was the lack of a conference championship in a weak conference that ultimately led to his dismissal.  Chances Graham gets what he needs? I'd say they're pretty good. Weak conference or not, Pitt is still in a BCS conference and has the resources to win in college football.  Of course, by the time Graham has his stamp on the program, TCU will be a Big East member, so it won't be easy.

DANA HOLGORSEN, West Virginia

Why him? Have you seen West Virginia's offenses under Bill Stewart the last few seasons?  Nothing like a Mike Leach disciple who helped put together one of the best offenses in the country at Oklahoma State to infuse life into a dormant scoreboard.  For 2011, Holgorsen needs to: bid his time, let Stewart finish his final season, and start getting his offense ready for his ascension in 2012. By 2014, Holgorsen will need to have: won a Big East title and improve the Mountaineers offense enough so that it once again resembles the teams Rich Rodriguez put together.  He'll also need to find a quarterback better suited for his system than Geno Smith. Chances Holgorsen gets what he needs?  They're very good.  Even with the program's struggles under Stewart, they still competed for the Big East title.

PAUL PASQUALONI, UConn

Why him? Well, it came as a bit of a surprise.  Pasqualoni hasn't been a head coach or coached on the college level since 2004, spending the time in between in the NFL.  Still, the last time he was a head coach he was a rather successful one at Syracuse in the Big East.  So he knows what it takes to win in this conference.  For 2011, Pasqualoni needs to: silence the doubters.  We know that Pasqualoni can coach, but will the lay off and his age (he'll be 62 when UConn kicks off its season) prove to be too much for him?  By 2014, Pasqualoni will need to have: maintained what Randy Edsall started at UConn.  I'm not sure he'll have to win a Big East title to keep his job, but at the least he'll have to continue to build the program for his eventual successor.  Chances Pasqualoni gets what he needs?  Not great, but not terrible.  UConn has always been a basketball school first and foremost, but who knows how a trip to the Fiesta Bowl will affect the schools interest in building a winning football team?

ROCKY LONG, San Diego State

Why him?  Because Brady Hoke left, and had built something at SDSU that Long was a part of.  The school didn't want to risk losing any momentum by starting a coaching search. Plus, Long has head coaching experience from his time at New Mexico.  For 2011, Long needs to: continue the rise that Hoke started.  Since Marshall Faulk left for the NFL, the Aztecs weren't exactly a football powerhouse before Hoke came along.  The good news is that Long inherits some talent in Ronnie Hillman and Ryan Lindley. By 2014, Long will need to have: kept San Diego State competing in the Mountain West.  With Utah, BYU and TCU leaving, the conference becomes a lot easier to win.  Chances Long gets what he needs?  Not great.  San Diego State just doesn't have the established history to make me think they'll do whatever it takes to help Long build this team into a powerhouse.  What Long will have working for him, however, is the fertile recruiting base of southern California.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:29 pm
 

5 Down: Potential 2011 disappointments

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).

So later today we'll name five more teams we think can crack Dodd's top 25 next season, and right now we'll name five that are in his top 25 that might slip out ... or, at least, fail to live up to where they're currently placed. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Auburn (15). Slipping from first to 15th already seems like quite a slide, but the Tigers' losses are so major they could easily fall even further. The offensive line loses four starters representing approximately 200 collective career starts; Nick Fairley's departure is only the capper for an entire defensive tackle rotation that must be replaced; Auburn's two best linebackers are graduated, along with the best corner and best safety; and, oh yeah, that Cam Newton guy will be replaced by either a redshirt junior who's never started a game (Barrett Trotter) or a true freshman (Kiehl Frazier). The schedule also turns nasty, with this year's home dates against South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia all on the road. Gus Malzahn's continued presence means Auburn will have a fighting chance of getting back to eight or nine wins, but a bad break here or there could leave Gene Chizik's bunch outside the top 25 entirely.

2. Michigan State (9). The Spartans lived on the margins somewhat in 2010, needing big late comebacks to beat teams like Northwestern and Purdue while stumbling badly against more talented teams like Iowa and Alabama. And now Mark Dantonio loses three senior offensive linemen, soul-of-the-defense All-American linebacker Greg Jones, and offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who took the vacant Miami (Ohio) head coaching position. For a team that may have already been not-quite-as-good as their record, those are big blows.

3. South Carolina (17). Their appearance on this list isn't necessarily about the Gamecocks themselves, though the losses of end Cliff Matthews on defense and guard Garrett Chisolm on offense will be larger than people think. It's about their SEC divisional rivals at Florida and Georgia bouncing back from subpar seasons, and a schedule that hands them tough road trips to Athens, Knoxville, Starkville, and Fayetteville. It's the sort of slate that likely has four losses on it lurking somewhere.

4. Northwestern (24). We love the plucky Wildcats as much as anyone, but the way the 'Cats were memorably run over at Wrigley by Illinois, it's hard to see them being physical enough to make that much headway in the new-and-improved Big Ten. Five of their seven 2010 wins came by a total of just 15 points, and for a quarterback whose underrated running skills are as much a part of his success as his throwing accuracy, Dan Persa's Achilles injury is a killer.

5. Oklahoma State (7). OK, so with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon back and the Big 12 South not yet back to its 2008 glory days, it's not likely for the Cowboys to slip all the way out of the top 25. But the Cowboys haven't always done well with the kind of expectations they'll be dealing with in 2011, the defense still needs major work, and without Kendall Hunter the Pokes will have to work to ensure the running game can keep opponents from simply blanketing the Weeden-to-Blackmon connection. But the biggest loss by far is Dana Holgorsen, without whom the 2009 Cowboy offense was shut out by Oklahoma even with weapons like Hunter and Zac Robinson around. If Mike Gundy doesn't find a quailty replacement, the Cowboys may wind up as 2011's most overrated team.

 
 
 
 
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