Tag:Art Briles
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:01 am
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football



Posted by Tom Fornelli


With teams having already started or starting spring practice over the next few weeks. there are a lot of players across the country who will be charged with replacing someone who has come and gone before them. It's an annual rite of spring in college football, when the senior quarterback from last season is putting the finishing touches on his final semester as a college student, and the sophomore who isn't even sure what he's majoring in yet realizes he's going to be majoring in Playbook 101 for the next few weeks.

Of course, while roster turnover is a common occurence in college football, there are bigger shoes to fill than others, and in this post we take a look at the ten biggest pairs looking for a new owner this spring.

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Ryan Broyles began re-writing the Oklahoma record books the moment he stepped on the field in his first game as a Sooner. He caught 7 passes for 141 yards against Cincinnati, both of which were freshman records. Four years later he finished his career having caught more passes than any other receiver in FBS history, pulling in 349 passes for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns.

In other words, he's not the type of player that Oklahoma can just replace with anybody. This spring receivers like Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Metoyer will try to replicate Broyles' production in Norman. Whether it will be one of them doing it, or a group effort, Oklahoma will need it to happen if the Sooners want to win the Big 12 and contend for a national title.

9. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Understandably, USC fans were extremely excited by the news that Matt Barkley would be returning for his senior season, and many have pegged the Trojans as a title favorite because of it. What you don't want to do, however, is overlook the fact that the man who was in charge of protecting Barkley's blindside these last few years won't be back.

Though that's how life generally works for offensive lineman like Matt Kalil. As large as they are, they're often overlooked. Kevin Graf, Jeremy Galten, David Garness and Nathan Guertler will all be competing for the unenviable task of being the man in charge of making sure nothing happens to the most valuable piece of the USC offense.

8. Mark Barron, S, Alabama

One of the problems with having a defense as strong as the one we saw in Tuscaloosa last season is that you're bound to lose players to the next level, and the Crimson Tide have no shortage of beasts making their way to greener pastures. Still, the Tide have a knack for churning out defensive lineman and linebackers, but safeties like Mark Barron don't come along all that often.

Barron made 231 tackles for Nick Saban in his four seasons, including 13 for a loss, while picking off 12 passes. Barron was the type of player that could defend the pass and the run, and he won't be easily replaced. Can Robert Lester or freshman Vinnie Sunseri step up and be the next stud in the Alabama secondary?

7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Based purely on production, there may be no larger shoes to fill in the country than Luke Kuechly's. There may not have been more than 3 plays run by opposing offenses in which Kuechly wasn't in on the tackle. Kuechly finished 2011 with 191 tackles. The next highest total on the Boston College defense belonged to Kevin Pierre-Louis, who had 74.

As our own Chip Patterson put it, "for Boston College, replacing Kuechly is like any other team replacing 2 1/2 players." Though it's been proven that it can be done, as Kuechly himself once had to fill the shoes left behind by Mark Herzlich. Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto -- who has a name that would be hard to replace -- will be the two linebackers looking to repeat the feat.

6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Many casual college football fans never truly appreciated how amazing a player Morris Claiborne was for LSU in 2011 simply because opposing offenses weren't dumb enough to test him all that often. Throw in some Honey Badger exploits with a bit of Les Miles being Les Miles, and Claiborne gets a bit lost in the gumbo. Still, Claiborne truly was the definition of a shutdown corner for LSU, playing a pivotal role on one of the best defenses in the country.

While Tyrann Mathieu will be back in 2012, he's not the cover corner that Claiborne was, so it will be up to Tharold Simon to fill the role. One he seems capable of considering he led LSU with 10 passes broken up in 2011 playing mostly as a nickel back.

5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

I won't lie to you. Even when Mark Ingram will still in Tuscaloosa running through SEC defenses, I always felt that Trent Richardson was the best running back on the Alabama roster. Now both are gone, and Richardson will be harder to replace than Ingram was simply because Trent can't replace himself.

Can Eddie Lacy be the next Heisman finalist in the Alabama backfield? He showed some promise in 2011, and in an offense like Alabama's, the opportunities will be there. Still, even if Lacy is extremely talented, there are only so many shoes capable of doing this.

4. Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon, QB/WR, Oklahoma State

A bit of a cheat, I know, but the truth is that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon felt like extensions of one another for the past two seasons in Stillwater. Their success was as a duo. I mean, Blackmon caught 40 touchdowns over the last three seasons, which accounted for 53% of the 75 touchdown passes Weeden threw with the Cowboys.

Now we know that Oklahoma State is going to continue putting points on the board without them, but will the offense ever be as prolific when the combination is Clint Chelf or Wes Lunt to Tracy Moore? We'll get our first clues this spring.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

Maybe you think that LaMichael James isn't all that hard to replace given the weapons Oregon has in the backfield. I can see your point, but I can also point out that James nearly doubled Kenjon Barner's rushing total (1,805 yards to 939) in 2011. I mean, this is a man who rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry in 2011, yet we didn't think it was so amazing based simply on the fact we'd already seen him do similar things in the previous two seasons.

We just got used to it.

Yes, Barner and DeAnthony Thomas are extremely talented backs, but the fact is there's no easy way to replace a back who accounted for 5,888 all-purpose yards and 58 touchdowns in three seasons as a Duck, all at the speed of light.

2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Will it be harder to fill RG3's shoes, or his socks? Neither will be easy. While we all know how talented Griffin was as a quarterback for Baylor in 2011 and the two seasons before it, it's his impact on the program that will leave the biggest impression. Baylor went from a perennial bottom-feeder in the Big 12 to a team that can call itself the home of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Nick Florence will be the favorite to replace Griffin this spring, but he'll never be able to have the impact on the Baylor program that Griffin did. Instead he'd be much better served to focus on replacing the production on the field. Something that won't be easy, either, but given Art Briles' history with quarterbacks and the way Florence performed in place of Griffin against Texas Tech, it may not be that far-fetched, either.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Andrew Luck didn't win the Heisman Trophy like Robert Griffin did, but that doesn't diminish the impact he had on the Stanford program. In the three seasons before Luck showed up in Palo Alto, Stanford was 10-26, including a 1-11 season in 2006. In Luck's three seasons the Cardinal went 31-8, played in two BCS bowl games and became a national program.

Stanford is essentially the school Notre Dame used to be, and it's all thanks to Luck. Of course, the question now is whether or not Stanford can maintain the success they had under Luck with a new quarterback. Brett Nottingham, Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo will all enter spring practice looking to replace the most important player in the history of Stanford football, and that's a list that includes John Elway.

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:26 pm
 

PODCAST: Big 12 Wrapup with Tom Fornelli

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Was the Big 12 the best conference in the nation this year? Was Oklahoma-Baylor a better game than Texas A&M-Kansas State? What went right and what went wrong for each team? Mike Gundy, Bill Snyder or Art Briles for Coach of the Year? Big 12 blogger Tom Fornelli joins the podcast crew to answer these questions and much more. 

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.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:34 am
 

OSU working on new contract for Mike Gundy

Posted by Tom Fornelli

We've basically known it was coming since T. Boone Pickens first tweeted that he thought Mike Gundy deserved a raise following Oklahoma State's win over Oklahoma to finish the regular season, but the Tulsa World is reporting that the school has begun talks with Gundy's agent to discuss a new deal for the head coach.

"As we said we would do a few weeks ago, now that the season is over we are reviewing coach Gundy's contract,"  said Gary Shutt, OSU's director of communications, in the Tulsa World. "We also have begun discussions with his representative.

"A new contract - reflecting the success we have enjoyed the past three years and expect to continue for years to come - is being discussed. We are striving to have a new, long-term contract for coach Gundy in place soon."

Gundy's current deal paid him $2.1 million for 2011, and still has four years remaining on it. Coming into the season Gundy's salary was the fourth-largest in the Big 12 behind Mack Brown, Bob Stoops and Gary Pinkel. Since then Charlie Weis has gotten more money from Kansas, and Art Briles' new extension will likely exceed $2.1 million annually as well.

With Pinkel leaving for the SEC with Missouri, it's safe to say that Gundy's new deal will make him the third-highest paid coach in the Big 12 along with Stoops and Brown. Which is fitting seeing as how they're the only three head coaches who have won the conference over the last decade.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:04 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:05 pm
 

Art Briles gets a contract extension

Posted by Tom Fornelli

One name that I haven't heard come up nearly as often in coaching rumors this season is Baylor's Art Briles. Not because I felt he'd be looking to leave Waco, but I figure plenty of schools had surely noticed what he's done with the program and would like to pry him away.

A task that just got a lot harder to do.

On Friday evening it was reported in the Houston Chronicle that Briles had agreed to an extension and raise in salary at Baylor. The details of Briles' new deal aren't known at this point, but it's rumored that he'll be making somewhere in the area of $2.5 million in 2012. Or as much as Charlie Weis just got from Kansas. Either way, compare that salary to the roughly $1.5 million that Briles earned in 2011, and it's a nice raise.

Briles is only 24-25 at Baylor, but is coming off a 9-3 regular season and the team is a bowl victory away from having its first 10-win season since 1980. Considering the state of the Baylor program when Briles first came aboard, it's a pretty remarkable turnaround.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:57 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 2:58 pm
 

CBSSports.com 2011 All-Big 12 Team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The season has wrapped, the bowl games are set and it's time to hand out some awards. As part ofCBSSports.com's look at the regular season, here is the best of the Big 12 conference.

Awards

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Robert Griffin, quarterback, Baylor

When it comes to choosing only one person to be the Offensive Player of the Year in a conference that features so many potent offenses as the Big 12, it's not easy. Or at least, it shouldn't be. Still, despite all the amazing offensive players in the Big 12 this season, the choice here was pretty clear for me. Robert Griffin set an NCAA record with his 192.3 efficiency rating this season, all while throwing for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns compared to only 6 interceptions. No one player was more important to his team this season than Griffin was, and he'll likely be adding a Heisman Trophy to his collection soon enough.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Frank Alexander, defensive line, Oklahoma

There were a few other players I considered for this like Iowa State's A.J. Klein and Texas A&M's Sean Porter, but in the end I went with Alexander. He was a force on the defensive line for one of the conference's best defenses all season long. Alexander finished the season leading the Big 12 in tackles for loss with 18, and was tied with Porter for most sacks in the conference with 8.5.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Quandre Diggs, defensive back, Texas

This was between Diggs and Kansas State's Tyler Lockett for me, but I went with Diggs since Lockett missed the final three weeks of the season. I also went with Diggs because he deserves the honor, picking off 3 passes and breaking up another 13 while making 46 tackles for the Longhorns in 2011.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Bill Snyder, Kansas State

This was extremely tough, as I mulled between Snyder, Mike Gundy and Art Briles for a while. In the end I went with Snyder because I'm still amazed by what he's now done twice in Manhattan. I had a feeling before the season began that Kansas State would be better than we thought, but I didn't see a 10-2 season and a near berth in a BCS bowl being possible. So because of that I have to give the nod to Snyder.

All-Big 12 Offense

QUARTERBACK

Robert Griffin, Baylor

He was my offensive player of the year, so he's my selection for quarterback here as well. Though I'd be remiss if I didn't give a tip of my non-existent cap to Brandon Weeden and Collin Klein.

RUNNING BACKS

Terrance Ganaway, Baylor and Henry Josey, Missouri

When it comes to the Baylor offense, Griffin and the passing game get a lot of credit, but Ganaway is what helps make that passing attack even more dangerous. When you have a running back who rushes for a Big 12-best 1,347 yards and 16 touchdowns, defenses can't just drop back into coverage and take away your passing game. Ganaway's presence gives Baylor its balance. As for Henry Josey, he finished the season averaging more yards per game than any other Big 12 running back and would have led the conference in rushing yards if not for a knee injury against Texas that cost him the last few weeks of the season. Still, 1,168 yards in 10 games and over 8 yards a carry will get you here injury or not.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Kendall Wright, Baylor and Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

Too many deserving receivers to choose from, but I went with Wright and Blackmon. Somebody had to be on the receiving end of all those Robert Griffin passes, and Wright was the most popular target. He led the conference with 1,572 receiving yards and had 13 touchdowns. Only one receiver finished the year with more receptions and touchdowns than Wright, and that was Oklahoma State's Blackmon. He came into the season with enormous expectations considering what he did in 2010, and though he didn't match those numbers, 113 receptions for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns is one hell of a letdown. Also, honorable mention to Ryan Broyles who had his senior season cut short and Texas A&M's Ryan Swope.

TIGHT END

Michael Egnew, Missouri

This wasn't that hard of a decision since Egnew led all Big 12 tight ends in receptions (47), yards (484), and was tied in touchdowns (3). Egnew was a reliable target for James Franklin all season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Grant Garner, Oklahoma State; Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State; Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma, Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State, Jeremiah Hatch, Kansas

No matter what kind of scheme you use, there are no great offenses without great offensive lines, which means the Big 12 had plenty to choose from. Trying to pare a long list down to five was not easy, but these are the guys who stood out to me the most all season.

All-Big 12 Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

Frank Alexander, Oklahoma; Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma; Ray Kibble, Kansas State; Alex Okafor, Texas

If you're an offensive lineman and you look across the line of scrimmage to see these four men in your face, you know you are going to be in for a long day. Whether getting to the quarterback or stuffing the run, all four of these lineman had their names called quite often this season.

LINEBACKERS

Arthur Brown, Kansas State; A.J. Klein, Iowa State; Sean Porter, Texas A&M

While Porter was tied for the Big 12 lead with 8.5 sacks, Klein was a tackling machine for the Cyclones with 101 tackles and also proved useful in coverage. Then there's Arthur Brown who, in my opinion, may be the best all-around linebacker in the conference. Whether stopping the run, in pass coverage, or just being wherever he needs to be to make a big play. Kansas' Steven Johnson and Texas' Emmanuel Acho also deserve a mention here.

SECONDARY

Nigel Malone, Kansas State; Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma; Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, E.J. Gaines, Missouri

If you're a cornerback or a safety at a Big 12 school, you are going to be tested week in and week out. There's no way around it, and some plays you're going to get beat, as it happens to everybody. Still, more often than not, these were the four defensive backs whom I saw making the plays their defenses needed them to make this season.

SPECIALISTS

PK Randy Bullock, Texas A&M; P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State; Returner Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

I could have gone with Quinn Sharp for both punter and placekicker as he performed both duties for Oklahoma State this season, and performed extremely well in both jobs. I decided to go with Bullock however as he was called on more often than Sharp to put points on the board and did so at the same rate. Then there's Tyler Lockett who was one of the more exciting returners in the conference this season, with two kickoffs returned for touchdowns. He just slightly edged out Texas' Fozzy Whittaker.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Big East additions: what do they bring?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Big East will go a long way towards remaining a solvent football league this week when, as reported by CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphythey announce the additions of Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, UCF and SMU.

The additions will bring the conference's total number of football-playing members to 10, with Nos. 11 and 12 possibly soon to follow. But just as importantly, the expansion also gives the league a bona fide headliner--Boise brings their impeccable record at the non-AQ level, national recognition, and their attention-grabbing status as the No. 1 lightning rod for the FBS's ongoing haves-vs.-have-nots discussion.

But what do we know about the other four teams joining up? What do they bring to the table? What issues might they have to deal with? We've broken it down team-by-team:

HOUSTON

PROS: The Cougars are riding a Case Keenum-led high, having won 22 games in their star QB's last two healthy seasons, including the program's first bowl win since 1980 in 2009. But Houston has plenty going for it off the field, too; their location smack dab in the middle of one of the country's largest television markets (this is going to be a repeating theme) and most fertile recruiting grounds should pay the Big East dividends both in their TV negotiations and on the recruiting trail. If the Cougars themselves can capitalize on their new BCS status on the trails in Houston and nearby Louisiana, they could be a power for years to come.

CONS: What happens when Keenum and head coach Kevin Sumlin --as seems increasingly likely -- both depart for greener pastures? This is still a program that, as mentioned, has just one bowl win in the past 31 years and was in truly sorry shape when Art Briles (with Sumlin in tow) arrived in 2003. The wrong hire in the wake of Sumlin's exit could return the Cougars to their doormat days in a hurry. And as nice as the Houston market is, the Cougars still need to make more inroads into it; fulfilling a promise to expand or replace 32,000-seat Robertson Stadium would be a plus.

SMU

PROS: As with the Cougars, Dallas-based SMU has the advantage of being located in one of the nation's biggest metro markets, a major plus for the television bean counters. But the Mustangs also have an administration that hasn't been shy about throwing its financial support behind its formerly woebegone program, and that's not a "Pony Express" joke; the school opened Gerald J. Ford Stadium just 11 years ago and four seasons back ponied up the cash (that pun's intended) to lure June Jones from Hawaii. Result: three straight bowl bids after a 25-year drought, some of the best recruiting classes in Conference USA, and noticeably increased fan interest and attendance.

CONS: If the Mustangs can hang onto Jones, or replace him with another smart (and duly expensive) hire, they have more than enough potential to be a respectable member of the Big East for some time to come. (The league's higher-ups have to appreciate that the Mustangs defeated Big East deserters TCU this past season.) But the Dallas market and surrounding recruiting grounds are so ultra-competitive, turning SMU's resources and location into a legitimate BCS contender may take quite a few years and even more support from the SMU fanbase, which was called out by an SMU player this season for its lack of enthusiasm.

UCF

PROS: If there's any school that's put its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting athletics, it's UCF, which opened the $55 million, 45,00-seat on-campus Bright House Networks Stadium four years ago amongst multiple other major facilities upgrades. Though a 5-7 2011 season has been a major disappointment for George O'Leary's program, this is still a team that's won two C-USA titles and earned three bowl bids in the past five years. As the second-largest school in the country in terms of enrollment and the only major college football program in the sizable Orlando market, a move to the Big East and a few years of consistent winning could give the Knights the push on the recruiting trail needed to become a legit BCS contender.

CONS: Of course, that's all assuming the NCAA Committee on Infractions doesn't give the program the USC treatment in the wake of the recent allegations against exiled athletic director Keith TribbleThough the Orlando market is an obvious TV positive, the Knight's central Florida location is both a blessing and a curse; while there's plenty of athletes available around which O'Leary (or his successor) can build a successful program, there's also few (if any) areas of the country where the competition for those athletes is more cutthroat. A few NCAA-hamstrung poor seasons could deal the program a blow that could take it years to recover from.

SAN DIEGO STATE

PROS: Long regarded as the "sleeping giant" of the Mountain West, the Aztecs finally went some way towards waking up with a 9-4 2010 season and just their second bowl berth in 19 years--a campaign that resulted in an attendance surge that ranked amongst the nation's best. Despite the loss of head coach Brady Hoke and multiple NFL talents, an 8-4 year and New Orleans Bowl berth wasn't a bad follow-up. Thanks to their access to California's bountiful recruiting grounds and the TV-friendly San Diego market, another good year or two for Rocky Long should lay the foundation for success for years to come.

CONS: As much potential as SDSU has on paper, this is still a program with just four bowl appearances and one win since 1969; just because it looks like it should be easy to win here doesn't mean it is. More than any of the other addditions save Boise, SDSU will add a sizable chunk to opponent's travel bills. And Long, already 61 years old, may not be the long-term answer at head coach; if he's not, will the Aztec brass be shrewd enough (or spend enough) to find another Hoke?

Posted on: December 5, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Five players named Heisman Trophy finalists

Posted by Chip Patterson

One of the most wide-open Heisman races in recent memory has entered the final stage, with the finalists for this year's Heisman Trophy being named on Monday evening.

The following players will be in attendance for the presentation of the award in New York City, in alphabetical order:

Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Robert Griffin III
, Baylor
Andrew Luck, Stanford
Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
Trent Richardson
, Alabama

The iconic stiff-arm trophy will be presented to "the most outstanding player in collegiate football" on Saturday evening in the official ceremony hosted by the Heisman Trophy Trust.  The last time five players were finalists for the Heisman Trophy was 2009 when Mark Ingram, Toby Gerhart, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, and Ndamukong Suh all made the trip to New York.   

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:53 pm
 

No love lost between Mizzou and the Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As we all know at this point, Missouri is leaving the Big 12 after this season to join the SEC just like Texas A&M. Generally, when something like this happens, it's not because both sides get along and are happy with one another.

Well, whatever animosity exists between Missouri and the Big 12, a bit more became evident on Sunday when bowl selections and the final Coaches Poll of the regular season, and the most important, were released. It seems that neither side could resist the urge to get in one last jab.

Despite the fact that Missouri finished fifth in the Big 12 with a 5-4 conference record, it was passed up by Texas, Texas A&M, and Iowa State for the Big 12's bowl bids. This despite the fact that Missouri finished ahead of them in the standings and went 3-0 against those teams this season, winning the games by a combined score of 107-53. Instead Missouri is going to the Independence Bowl, which no longer has a tie to the Big 12. Do you think it's a coincidence that the Tigers were passed up by Big 12 bowls and ended up playing a game in the heart of SEC country?

For their part, Missouri is saying the Big 12 did everything it could for the Tigers, but do you honestly believe that to be the case?

Texas A&M will play in the Texas Bowl, which has the last pick amongst bowls with Big 12 conference ties, and it only had two schools to choose from: A&M and Missouri.

Still, Missouri may have gotten a bit of revenge on the conference. The individual coaches poll ballots were released on Monday, and the Big 12 has five coaches who vote in the poll that is included in the final BCS formula: Bob Stoops, Art Briles, Paul Rhoads, Tommy Tuberville and Missouri's Gary Pinkel.

Every single one of those coaches had Oklahoma State at #2 on their ballots except Pinkel. Pinkel had Alabama ranked second on his ballot, and put Oklahoma State at #4 behind Stanford.

It's safe to say that these two won't miss each other next year.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com