Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:20 pm

UCLA withholds checks after missed workouts

Posted by Adam Jacobi

UCLA is gearing up for a bowl date against Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, a game set for New Year's Eve. And although UCLA and Illinois shouldn't be imbued with a heightened awareness of fighting hunger by the invitation any more than Texas A&M and Northwestern should be considered auto repair enthusiasts by dint of appearing in the Maaco Car Care Bowl, there is still no shortage of irony that UCLA is apparently causing hunger in some of its own football players this month.

Here's how the Los Angeles Times reported this story:

Some UCLA football players and members of the coaching staff were at odds Sunday after bowl game checks meant to help with living expenses were withheld. 

Some players did not receive checks for failing to attend what they called voluntary workouts during finals week, according to one parent who asked not to be identified because it could affect his son. Players said they use the money to buy food, as university services are shut down after the quarter ends.

UCLA spokesperson Nick Ammazzalorso said the players had been notified in advance that the checks would be withheld, and that the players in question had also not filled out academic paperwork. The crux of the matter, however, appears to be that the coaching staff and players disagreed on whether the workouts during finals week were mandatory or not, and that the consequence of missing a finals week practice was to withhold necessary living expenses.

As for how well-needed these checks were, the coaches eventually issued the checks after realizing that not doing so would cause financial hardship -- yes, that required a realization -- but not before two Bruins took to Twitter to complain about their hunger.

"We are being held from our checks because we chose not to participate in voluntary workouts," defensive back Randall Carroll wrote on Twitter. "Honestly, [I] don't know how I'm going to eat these few days."

Linebacker Aramide Olaniyan also posted on Twitter account, saying in part "My stomach [is] growling tonight."

This story's far from over at this point; UCLA should probably make a clarification on whether the workouts in question were in fact mandatory, and a statement from the NCAA on whether UCLA's initial handling of the situation was appropriate in the NCAA's eyes. Perhaps it was, and perhaps all bowl teams are operating under similar guidelines. Now would be the time to make that clear, though, because if all fans have is this account of the UCLA program, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that something is dreadfully awry in the way athletes in need are treated.

Now, if that seems like an exaggeration, consider that had Olaniyan or Carroll gotten a free meal from a sympathetic restaurateur who didn't want to see the two young men go hungry, that would be an impermissible benefit and would likely cost the two players their eligibility for at least the upcoming bowl game. Choosing between eligibility and dinner seems like an awfully heavy consequence of missing a workout and/or not filling out a minor piece of paperwork, does it not?

Posted on: December 10, 2011 9:44 pm

2011 Heisman Trophy voting numbers breakdown

Posted by Adam Jacobi

On Saturday night, the Heisman Trophy was awarded to Baylor junior quarterback Robert Griffin III. RG3, as he's known to Baylor faithful and now the rest of the nation, collected 405 first-place votes to finish with 1,687 total voting points, well ahead of the runner-up, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck had 247 first-place votes and 1,407 total voting points.

The key to Griffin's victory in the voting was his performance in the South region -- Alabama RB Trent Richardson's home territory -- where RG3 led all contenders with 303 voting points. Richardson was second with 256 points there, and Luck was third with 182 points. That region alone accounted for nearly half of Griffin's margin of victory over Luck, and it helped stave Richardson off as a serious threat to winning the Heisman. Of course, Griffin also cleaned up in his home Southwest region, but it was his ability to win regions that he wasn't the home favorite of that landed RG3 the coveted Heisman.

Here's the final national vote ranking:

  1. Robert Griffin III, Baylor QB: 405 first-place votes, 1,687 total points
  2. Andrew Luck, Stanford QB: 247 first-place votes, 1,407 total points
  3. Trent Richardson, Alabama RB: 138 first-place votes, 978 total points
  4. Montee Ball, Wisconsin RB: 22 first-place votes, 348 total points
  5. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU DB: 34 first-place votes, 327 total points
  6. Matt Barkley, USC QB: 11 first-place votes, 153 total points
  7. Case Keenum, Houston QB: 10 first-place votes, 123 total points
  8. Kellen Moore, Boise State QB: 6 first-place votes, 90 total points
  9. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin QB: 4 first-place votes, 52 total points
  10. LaMichael James, Oregon RB: 5 first-place votes, 48 total points

And here are the regional breakdowns:

FAR WEST (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming)

  1. Luck: 315 points
  2. Griffin: 220 points
  3. Richardson: 137 points

MID-ATLANTIC (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia)

  1. Griffin: 254 points
  2. Luck: 248 points
  3. Richardson: 168 points

MIDWEST (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin)

  1. Griffin: 272 points
  2. Luck: 220 points
  3. Richardson: 125 points

NORTHEAST (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont)

  1. Griffin: 257 points
  2. Luck: 254 points
  3. Richardson: 160 points 

SOUTH (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee) 

  1. Griffin: 303 points
  2. Richardson: 256 points
  3. Luck: 182 points

SOUTHWEST (Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas)

  1. Griffin: 381 points
  2. Luck: 188 points
  3. Richardson: 132 points
Posted on: December 10, 2011 3:16 am
Edited on: December 10, 2011 2:14 pm

UCLA hires Jim L. Mora as head coach

Posted by Bryan Fischer

After letting go of head coach Rick Neuheisel and attempting to hire several big names, UCLA has finally found a head coach.

Former Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim L. Mora will be the new coach in Westwood, the school announced Saturday morning. The Bruins had attempted to hire Boise State's Chris Petersen, Houston's Kevin Sumlin and Washington's Steve Sarkisian before Mora took the job. This will be the first time the Bruins have hired a head coach who has not been an assistant coach or player at the school since 1949. The LA Times first reported the news Friday night.

"As someone who has been around the game of football my entire life, I have always held the UCLA job in the highest esteem," Mora said in the release. "Given its location and its tradition, UCLA is truly a sleeping giant and I realize that an opportunity of this magnitude doesn't present itself more than once in a career, so I jumped at the chance to be a Bruin."

Mora has been out of coaching since 2009 after being let go by the Seahawks. He has been in the NFL since 1985, including stops in San Diego, New Orleans, San Francisco and Atlanta. In four seasons as a head coach, Mora compiled a 31-33 overall record and reached the NFC championship game in 2004 before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mora was serving as an analyst for the NFL Network the past two years before being hired by UCLA. Better known as Jim Mora Jr., he lived in Los Angeles when his father, Jim Sr., coached at the school in 1974. The 50-year-old also played defensive back at Washington in the early 1980's.

"UCLA has always been a place of high expectations, as it applies to our students, our faculty, our researchers and, not least of all, our athletic program. With more NCAA championships than any other university, the reality is that our fans count on us to be great. The hiring of Jim L. Mora as head coach of UCLA football proves that this is still a place where champions are made and integrity matters," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

The Bruins went 6-7 on the season under Neuheisel, losing 50-0 to crosstown rival USC and most recently to Oregon in the first ever Pac-12 Championship game last week.

UCLA will play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on December 31 with offensive coordinator Mike Johnson serving as interim head coach.

Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:09 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:09 pm

UCLA looking at Sarkisian for coaching vacancy

Posted by Bryan Fischer

UCLA is searching for a new head coach after letting go Rick Neuheisel before the Pac-12 Championship game. And searching and searching. And searching.

They tried Boise State's Chris Petersen, checked in on others such as Houston's Kevin Sumlin and now, apparently, have moved onto someone with local ties. According to the LA Times, UCLA officials have approached Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian about the vacancy but the efforts have "fallen on deaf ears."

Sarkisian has several ties to the Los Angeles area, hailing from nearby Torrance, Calif. and spending several years as an assistant at USC. Washington athletic director Scott Woodward told the Seattle Times on Friday that officials have not asked to talk to the 37-year-old head coach.

"Steve, I know, hasn't talked to them, as far as I know," Woodward said via phone, adding, "I don't think anything is imminent. I'm not worried.''

After taking over a winless Huskies team in 2008, Sarkisian has guided the program to back-to-back bowl games in 2010 and 2011. He signed a new five-year contract with the school at the end of last year that will pay him up to $2.85 million in the final year of the deal with a $2.5 million buyout. Washington is also making a significant investment in facilities to upgrade the program, which includes a $250 million renovation of Husky Stadium.

"I have not been contacted, no,'' Sarkisian said after practice Friday.

Washington plays Baylor in the Alamo Bowl on December 29th.

Posted on: December 9, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 7:08 pm

Arizona down to one QB after pair of transfers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When Rich Rodriguez took over at Michigan, the transfer of Ryan Mallett left the Wolverines in a quarterback crisis that played a major role in dragging Rodriguez's first team into a 3-9 hole. Things should be different in Rodriguez's new job at Arizona, but all the same, Rodriguez can't like the historical echoes of this week's quarterbacking news in Tucson

A pair of transfers have left Rodriguez's Wildcats with just one quarterback available for spring drills--senior Matt Scott, who spent a redshirt season in 2011 season behind star signal-caller Nick Foles. True freshman Daxx Garman asked out of the program the final week of November, while Rutgers transfer Tom Savage told Rodriguez this past week he would also be leaving the Wildcats in order to be closer to his family in Pennsylvania. A tweet indicated a family member coudl be ill.

"Tom has indicated to us that he wants to transfer closer to home for family reasons," Rodriguez said "He said it has nothing to do with football, schemes, or the University of Arizona. We certainly wish him and his family the best in the future."

That Savage's decision is unrelated to Rodriguez's spread schemes is one difference from Mallett's to leave Michigan, but there's still a much larger difference than that: Savage and Garman aren't leaving the cupboard bare. Scott is a highly experienced veteran with five career starts to his name and a few dandy performances; in a two-week stint filling in for Foles in 2010, Scott hit a combined 42-of-58 passes for 552 yards and 3 touchdowns in a pair of wins over UCLA and Washington. He should also prove to be an excellent fit athletically for Rodriguez's spread option attack, having collected 532 career yards on the ground.

"Everybody's been coming up to me this week, saying, 'Man, you're going to tear it up next year,' " Scott said recently. "I'm just trying to stay level-headed and stay calm. He has great credentials from where he's been (with) quarterbacks. That says it all. I'm happy for him to be here and ready to get to work."

So as long as Scott stays healthy, Rodriguez shouldn't be condemned to repeat his Michigan history. But if he goes down with an injury? It could be 2008 all over again.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:29 pm

Fischer's Heisman vote: RGIII, Luck, Moore

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Earlier this year, I was given the prestigious honor of voting for the Heisman Trophy for the first time. The award's illustrious history of selecting the country's most outstanding player has been well chronicled and I was happy to lend my expertise. As the weeks went by however, it became clear that this would be among the most difficult votes in some time - there was no runaway favorite like Cam Newton this year.

There did seem to be some resolution towards the end of the season but, in talking with other voters, it became clear that there was no easy pick. After sitting down and looking at stats, highlights and other things, who to vote number one became pretty clear. It was spots two and three (you only have three spots on your ballot) that caused me the most angst. Without further ado, my Heisman ballot and why I voted for them.

1. Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Baylor

Like my colleague Bruce Feldman, it's difficult to wrap your head around the fact that a player from Baylor is the most outstanding player in college football. I grew up in Texas and it always seemed the Bears were the ones everybody scheduled for homecoming. Thanks to the Big 12 television deal they were rarely on television unless they were playing a major school. Baylor, for most college football fans across the country, was irrelevant before Griffin burst onto the scene.

During September, the nation was transfixed on what, exactly, RGIII was doing but figured he couldn't keep it up. The first three games he was completing 85% of his passes, had 13 touchdown passes and no picks and flirted with a touchdown-incompletion ratio that was unheard of. The opener against No. 14 TCU was Baylor's first win over a ranked team since 2004 and the signal-caller was the chief reason why. Many expected the close loss to Kansas State to end any hopes of him making it to New York but in the deepest league in the country (sorry SEC fans), Griffin won nine games despite the Bears defense being ranked in the 100's in most major defensive categories. Safe to say that without RGIII, the Bears would have been 3-9.

What sealed the deal for me was the game-winning drive to beat Oklahoma for the first time in school history and an efficient game against what was the 9th-best defense in the country at the time in Texas to end the year. It's rare for any player in the conference to beat both schools but RGIII did accomplish the rare feat. He finished first in the country in passing efficiency with what would be an NCAA record 192.31 rating, edging out Russell Wilson despite attempting 85 more passes. He also finished second in the country in total offense and led the nation in points responsible for.

In January, Griffin was invited to speak at the NCAA convention in San Antonio by new president Mark Emmert. He was lauded for his achievements outside athletics such as getting a degree in three years and beginning his masters' with sights set on law school not his backup plan to the NFL, but his primary one. The attention and applause were genuine on that chilly day at the convention, just as it should be Saturday in New York City when he likely accepts the Heisman Trophy. On and off the field this year, Robert Griffin III was my pick for the most outstanding college football player.

2. Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford

He was supposed to be a shoe-in for this award. For most of the year, it looked like he wouldn't lose the Heisman, even if he didn't necessarily win it. I saw Luck up close several times this season and can confirm that he's the best quarterback in college football. He throws on the run better than anybody, his pocket awareness is uncanny, he calls his own plays and - like RGIII - has taken a program lacking success and turned it into a winner.

The Cardinal are 23-2 over the past two seasons and that is almost entirely due to Luck. Unfortunately his worst game of the year came when he needed it most, against Oregon. Even then, he threw for three touchdowns and the team was in things for three quarters. The offense scored fewer than 30 points just once all year - against Notre Dame when they could have topped the mark had they tried - and was more balanced than any other in the country as coaches had no issues sticking to running the ball if it was working.

A lot of people turn the Heisman race into a stats race. Luck's were good (3,170 yards passing, 35 touchdowns, 9 interceptions) but didn't top others. The thing I always kept in mind was what he did given the talent around him. Sure he had a good offensive line, so did Trent Richardson, Montee Ball, Wilson and Griffin. Nobody, however, put up the kind of numbers Luck did throwing to three tight ends who didn't have separation speed and with his best wide receiver sitting on the sidelines the second half of the year. Griffin had the dynamic Kendall Wright, Luck had Griff Whalen. That was a factor in my mind.

By all measures, he was outstanding this season but fell just short of being the most outstanding player in college football. He put up more points against USC in that school's history (against some defensive coordinator name Monte Kiffin) and had he had good defense, might be playing for the national title. He is the only quarterback ever to go undefeated against USC and Notre Dame. Listen to head coach David Shaw state his case for the quarterback and you can't help but consider him worthy of this award. I couldn't put him above RGIII so Luck wound up second on my ballot.

3. Kellen Moore, quarterback, Boise State

For many seeing this, the thought is that I gave Moore the third spot as a career achievement award. I did not.

For most of the week leading up to voting I had a running back (Ball or Richardson) penciled in.  But before I was making my choices I looked again at what the diminutive but excellent quarterback had done this year. Statistically he was great: 300-of-405 passing (74%), 3,507 yards, 41 touchdowns and seven picks. I watched a lot of Boise State games this year (even the blowouts) and know that most of the numbers were accomplished in three quarters or less. A great season was hampered by the loss to TCU but it's safe to say that Moore did all he could game-in and game-out to lead the Broncos to another top 10 ranking.

Moore's best strength this year was spreading the ball around. He lost his two best receivers from last season but didn't lose a step despite several of his young pass catchers dealing with drops from time-to-time. The running game wasn't as good but Moore made up for it through the air. Were it not for a one-point loss to a good team, he'd be in New York this year.

There were three things that caused me to put the quarterback on my ballot ahead of others however. The first was just the way he played. He's good as much as every person in the country likes to knock him for the competition he faces. He'd be the best quarterback in most power conferences, easily, and can drop the ball in on downfield routes perfectly. Second, he became the NCAA's all-time, winningest quarterback at the FBS level. How is that not outstanding? There's no knocking a winner, which Moore rightfully is. Finally, as a starting quarterback Moore has never trailed by more than seven points his entire career. Never. The combined margin of defeat in his three losses total is just five points. Those are just jaw-dropping stats and a measure of someone who not only starts good but doesn't panic if put into a difficult situation.

Moore was great this season and if you sort through it all, you'd see that too.

Why I didn't vote for them (in the order I would have)

Montee Ball, running back, Wisconsin: Ball was on my ballot for the stretch run but fell just short after considering Moore. He led the country in rushing with 1,759 yards and in scoring with 17.54 points per game. His 38 touchdowns is just one shy of Barry Sanders' record and more than 45 entire teams. It hurt that Russell Wilson was the man Wisconsin picked to campaign for earlier in the year but Ball without a doubt had a season to remember and was an outstanding college football player in 2011.

Matt Barkley, quarterback, USC: I wanted to put Barkley in my top three because he has not only been outstanding on the field leading USC back to the top 10, but he has been the face of the program that was put through the ringer. He set a school and conference record for touchdown passes in a season and tossed six TDs in a game twice. It was a season for the ages but he was hampered by a very slow start to the year, the Arizona State game and the head-to-head loss to Luck.

Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama: He was the best offensive player in the SEC and a great player who I'd want on my team in a heartbeat but I didn't think Richardson was the best running back in the country. He played only four games against schools with a winning record and faced just two defenses ranked in the top 40 against the rush. 46% of his yards came against North Texas, Ole Miss, Georgia Southern and Auburn and nearly the same percentage of his touchdowns came against those four defensive powerhouses. I get that he was hurt at times and shared carries; Richardson is a great player but just wasn't the best this season.

Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback, LSU: I love the Honey Badger - he's a game changer unlike any other in the way he forces turnovers and returns kicks. That said, he wasn't the most outstanding player on his own team (punter Brad Wing was) and wasn't even the best player in the secondary (Morris Claiborne was). His coverage skills were solid but not spectacular and had he not had two big games against Arkansas and Georgia to end the season, wouldn't have been invited to New York. The suspension during the season also played a factor.

Others under consideration: Case Keenum, Houston; LaMichael James, Oregon; Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State.

Posted on: December 9, 2011 11:54 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 11:18 am

PODCAST: All-Americans and Best/Worst Bowls

Posted by Chip Patterson

The time between the final conference championship games and the opening of the postseason is filled with honoring the performances of the year and previewing the bowl games ahead. CBSSports.com's Eye on College Football Blogger Bryan Fischer sits down with Adam Aizer to break down the CBSSports.com All-American teams. The two discuss some of the most heated positions on the list, like whether or not Tryann Mathieu should have gotten the First Team nod as a punt returner.

As the mind behind CBSSports.com's Eye on Recruiting, Bryan also explains the reasoning behind the Freshman All-American squad. Finally, the pair take some time to preview the bowl schedule. Which games they can't wait to see, and which games they can't wait to see end.

[Click here to check out the CBSSports.com All-American Teams and the Freshman All-American team]

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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 8, 2011 1:25 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:09 am

Oregon St. freshman dies of apparent heart attack

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Tragic news out of Corvallis Wednesday night as Oregon State freshman defensive tackle Fred Thompson has died of an apparent heart attack.

The school confirmed the death of Thompson, who was to turn 20 on Sunday, with a release. According to officials, Thompson was playing basketball at the Dixon Recreation Center on campus when he collapsed.  He was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis where he was later pronounced dead.

A 6-foot-4, 317-pound defensive tackle for the Beavers, Thompson had just enrolled for the winter semester and was expected to compete for a spot in the rotation in 2012 after redshirting. He is from Richmond, Calif. and played his prep ball at Oakland Tech High School.

Head coach Mike Riley was on the road recruiting when he first heard of the news and is making his way back to town. The school will hold a press conference to discuss the event on Thursday.

According to the Oregonian, news of Thompson's death has already produced reaction on Twitter from several of his teammates and the rest of the Oregon State community.

"Everybody on the team loved him," teammate Kyle Gardner told the Corvallis Gazette Times. "He was just one of those guys that was always just smiling and joking around with you. It's sad. We just don't know what to think. I just think everyone is in shock."

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