Tag:Iowa
Posted on: January 14, 2011 2:41 pm
 

What's next for Michigan's Mike Barwis?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Brady Hoke is the new head coach at Michigan (perhaps you've heard). Hoke hasn't filled out his entire staff yet, but one move he was expected to make was bringing his strength & conditioning coach from San Diego State ; being as that's the case, that means it's the end of the line for Michigan S&C coach Mike Barwis. The fact that QB Devin Gardner bid Barwis a farewell on Twitter means all that's left is the formality of an official announcement.

Now, there are now no more open head coaching opportunities in the FBS as we speak, and that means barring something weird happening, Rich Rodriguez will not be a FBS head coach for the 2011 season. He can spend the season with his family and/or making spot appearances on ESPN, and that's a fine way to pass a year or two between coaching gigs -- especially with the generous buyout Michigan gave him as part of the severance. Barwis didn't get the $2.5 million Rodriguez got, however, and it would be a surprise if he didn't actively pursue a different job for the coming season.

Therefore, the Rodriguez-Barwis connection and Michigan-Barwis connections are both effectively over, which means there is a high-level S&C coach available to anyone who wants one. And make no mistake, Barwis is still a high-level coach; his players at West Virginia under Rodriguez were fast, strong, and mean, as typified by fullback Owen Schmitt (the "runaway beer truck," as he was called by one announcer). Barwis is a new-school type of coach, emphasizing fast-twitch muscle development, agility, and endurance more than 40 times and basketball-sized biceps. In fact, he doesn't look like a typical old-school S&C coach: so thick-necked and bald that they usually look like thumbs with faces. I say that with love.

Bringing in a new S&C regime (which is to say: different methods, not just a different guy assigning the same workouts) along with a new coach has a track record of success; at Iowa , for one example, Kirk Ferentz hired Chris Doyle from Utah and made Doyle's intense workouts the centerpiece of Iowa's campaign to turn its fortunes around. The Hawkeyes were in a bowl by the third year and in the Top 10 by the fourth, and the fact that the turnaround was led by lightly-recruited players who ended up All-Americans like Bob Sanders , Robert Gallery , and Dallas Clark speaks volumes about Doyle's influence on the program's success. And while Barwis shouldn't promise he can make All-Americans out of walk-ons, he can point to Doyle's work at Iowa and his own at West Virginia as proof of what a fresh approach to strength and conditioning can do for a football program.

Of course, Barwis can and should expect to be asked why Michigan looked so physically unprepared -- especially on defense -- three years into the Rich Rodriguez era. But really, there's only so much an S&C coach can accomplish when the team has to continually throw out freshmen to play against juniors and seniors. Yes, a player typically sees the most improvement earliest in his time in a strength and conditioning program, and yes, there are diminishing returns by the fifth year. But diminishing returns or not, the aggregation of conditioning plus both in-game and practice experience had by a senior in any program is generally more than a freshman should be expected to overcome. That's more on Rich Rodriguez and Greg Robinson than anybody else, and when Barwis find a coach that agrees with that assessment and needs to make a hire at S&C, he'll probably have a job shortly thereafter.

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.

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.

Posted on: January 13, 2011 3:39 pm
 

Ex-Iowa RB Wegher on way to Oklahoma

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After disappearing from the Iowa football roster just ahead of the 2010 season and never returning, it looked like Brandon Wegher's FBS career might be over. But it looks like we haven't heard the last of the bruising running back and (relatively rare) four-star prospect out of Iowa just yet, as Wegher publicly stated today that he will be transferring to Oklahoma to continue his career as a walk-on.

At a glance, Wegher's hard-nosed running style might not make him seem like the best fit for the Sooners' wide-open offense, but after rushing for 641 yards and a school-record right touchdowns as a true freshman for the Hawkeyes, it wouldn't be wise to count Wegher out. And as a walk-on rather than a scholarship transfer who's already missed a year of playing time, Wegher may be able to avoid the typical transfer year spent on the bench.

The best part of the news for Oklahoma? With Wegher walking on and hoping to earn a scholarship later, there's no risk involved for Bob Stoops and Co. (assuming Wegher's much-rumored-about "personal reasons " that led to his falling-out with Iowa become an issue, which seems unlikely). If Wegher can't crack the playing rotation, no scholarship harm, no foul.

And as for Wegher, if he can, he'll be part of a potential preseason No. 1 team and the certain favorites to bring hom a second straight Big 12 championship. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved ... save, we suppose, the Iowa fans who may have to watch their native son go on to glory with someone else.

Posted on: January 12, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Iowa's Tyler Sash entering NFL draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

When it comes to projecting the strength of Iowa's defense the last few seasons, a lot of people bring up the name of Adrian Clayborn and other members of the Hawkeyes defensive line.  The reasons for this are obvious, as Clayborn was a one man wrecking crew in 2009, but safety Tyler Sash has always had a knack for making huge plays for the Iowa defense when they're most needed.  And now it seems that the Hawkeyes are going to have to find somebody to replace Sash as well.

According to Matt Bowen, Sash is going to forego his final season at Iowa and enter the NFL Draft.

In his three seasons with the Hawkeyes, Sash has picked off 13 passes, and is also a force in stopping the run.  He's the type of player whom, although he's projected to be a mid-round pick, can make an immediate impact for a defense on the NFL level.  Whether as a starter in the secondary, or on special teams, the kid is just a football player.

Sash was an All-Big Ten selection in both 2009 and 2010.
Posted on: January 9, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: January 9, 2011 12:58 am
 

Stanford reaches out to Chris Petersen

Posted by Adam Jacobi

After losing Jim Harbaugh to the NFL on Friday, Stanford has the enviable task of finding a new head coach. It's enviable because for the first time in almost 40 years,* an open Stanford head coaching position is actually desirable on account of the team coming off a major bowl victory. Buoyed with this success, Stanford is able to reach out to big names early in the process, and as Yahoo! Sports reports, Stanford has contacted Boise State head coach Chris Petersen.

Now, hiring a Boise State head coach isn't necessarily a guarantor of future success; look at what happened to Dan Hawkins down at Colorado , after all. Nonetheless, this report would seem to indicate that Chris Petersen is Stanford's first choice, and there's nothing athletic directors like to do more at hiring announcements than stand up there and proclaim that they "got their guy."

Of course, it also helps that Andrew Luck is returning for his junior season, which should definitely ease the new coach's transition to Palo Alto. One could argue that this decision by Luck will be a bigger factor than the head coaching hire for Stanford's short-term success, in fact.

Now, if Stanford can't bring in Petersen or any other "big" name for whatever reason, fans shouldn't be quick to be disappointed. As the San Francisco Chronicle reminds, Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby has made two football hires at the I-A level: Kirk Ferentz at Iowa after the 1998 season, and Harbaugh at Stanford in late 2006. Neither coach had any I-A head coaching experience; Ferentz was 12-21 in three years with the Maine Black Bears, while Harbaugh was 29-6 at San Diego (a school in the non-scholarship I-AA Pioneer League). Both hires have, to say the least, succeeded.

*In 1971, John Ralston led Stanford to its second consecutive Rose Bowl (a 13-12 win over then-undefeated Michigan , incidentally), then jumped to the NFL to coach the Denver Broncos. His successor -- Jack Christiansen -- didn't fare exceptionally well, going 30-22 in five seasons and never reaching a bowl before being fired, but he at least had a winning record in every season and paved the way for legendary coach Bill Walsh to take over. So if history repeats itself, it's not as if disaster lurks for the Cardinal in the coming years. Disappointment, yes, but not disaster.


Posted on: January 4, 2011 10:50 am
 

Hank Hughes named interim coach at UConn

Posted by Tom Fornelli

UConn finds itself in unfamiliar territory at the moment, because for the first time in the school's FBS history, it has a coaching search to conduct.  The problem is, with signing day not even a month away, somebody needs to take the program over now to keep things running as smoothly as possible while the school begins its search.

And that person is going to be assistant head coach Hank Hughes.

"Hank Hughes is the perfect choice to fill the role as interim head coach for our football program," said UConn AD Jeffrey Hathaway in a statement. "He has been a long-time member of our coaching staff and is extremely loyal to our university and our Division of Athletics. Hank will provide outstanding leadership to our football student-athletes and support staff during this time of transition."

Hughes will also be a candidate to take over the job full time, but he won't be alone in that department.  While the school hasn't made any official announcement about who they'll be looking at, names that keep coming up as possibilities are Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, former Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, and Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe.

Ironically, another name being mentioned is the man who was supposed to be getting the Maryland job Randy Edsall left for, Mike Leach.  In a way, Mike Leach has become the new Randy Edsall since his name comes up for every coaching job, but he never gets the job.  Another possibility would be Rich Rodriguez should he be relieved of his duties at Michigan.
Posted on: January 3, 2011 5:41 pm
 

Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert to go pro

Posted by Adam Jacobi

No big surprise out of Columbia today, as Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert announced that he'd be joining the NFL draft this year. Gabbert, a junior, didn't have a statistically dominant 2010 season, tallying just 16 touchdowns on the year, and recording only the eighth-best quarterback efficiency rating in the Big 12. Gabbert did look sensational in the Insight Bowl, however, shredding the normally stingy Iowa pass defense for 434 yards and a touchdown (though his game-losing interception was, to say the least, unfortunate).

“This is definitely a bittersweet day for me, I was really looking forward to having a chance to do some special things next season with my teammates, but in the end, this is the right decision to make for myself and my family,” said Gabbert in a statement released by Missouri today.   “These last three years have been an unbelievable experience for me, and I’ll miss being at Mizzou, but I’m definitely looking forward to this next stage of my life.  I’m so grateful to have been part of such a great program and all of the people who have helped me get to this point, and now I have to take what I’ve learned, and build on that for the next level."

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel praised his outgoing quarterback, calling Gabbert "an outstanding leader" for the Tigers and praising the hard work Gabbert put in as a two-year starter with Missouri.

And yet, though we don't doubt Pinkel's sincerity for a second as he lauds and encourages Gabbert, we must wonder how ready Missouri is to move on without its star quarterback. As the Columbia Tribune points out, the next-most experienced quarterback on the roster is freshman James Franklin , who completed 11 of 14 passes for 106 yards this year. Past that, it's fellow sophomore-to-be Ashton Glaser (no passing stats) and redshirting freshman Tyler Gabbert. Yes, Tyler and Blaine are brothers. No pressure, kid!

 
 
 
 
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