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Tag:Central Florida
Posted on: January 1, 2012 1:07 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 1:12 am
 

Auburn bookends up-and-down year with bowl win



Posted by Bryan Fischer

ATLANTA -- After every score Saturday night Virginia fans swayed back and forth singing their alma mater to the tune of 'auld lang syne.'

On New Year's Eve at the Georgia Dome however, it was the Auburn faithful who sang the actual song with gusto to ring in 2012 with a 43-24 win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

"What a great win," head coach Gene Chizik said. "You can say it's the last win of 2011 or the first win of 2012. However you want to spin it, it was a great win. I couldn't be more proud of our players or our coaches."

Playing their final game in the waning hours of 2011 was not what some in the orange and blue were looking forward to. The program had been to the top, been perfect, nearly 12 months earlier but had tumbled down the mountain to 8-5.

The confetti and plush Chick-fil-A cows falling from the rafters in Atlanta were nice but it was unmistakably different from what was falling from University of Phoenix Stadium in January.

The victory, in many ways, bookended one of the most up-and-down years in school history.

"I've said many times that our future is extremely bright. We've got a lot of really good young players," Chizik said. "We've had a lot of highs this season and we've had some lows. The highs have been really high and the lows have been really low. But these guys always bounce back."

They had been through so much, Aubie the Tiger could have gone to the court house and changed his name to Teflon Tiger. NCAA investigations? Asked, answered and over. They were walloped at home by rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Top running back Michael Dyer was not with the team and rumors swirled all month about him transferring. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof departed for Central Florida and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn surprisingly accepted the head coaching job at Arkansas State.

Despite all that, the program wrapped up 30 wins in three years and are tied for the active lead with five straight bowl wins.

"Even though we didn't have a defensive or offensive coordinator, I give all props to Coach Chizik and the staff for holding us together," defensive tackle Gabe Wright said.

Chizik, who is a perfect 9-0 in bowl games as an assistant or head coach, had a little extra on his plate given that he was coordinating the defense.

"It was very challenging," he said. "(Virginia) was an offense that did a lot of things we hadn't seen all year long. You have a lot of obligations. To try and be a position coach, the defensive coordinator, to call the game and still make decisions on the sideline - to go for it, onside kick it, punt, whatever it is - that's a lot of moving parts."

Special teams - one area where the head coach usually helps oversees - was key to turning a tight game into a blowout. Down seven, Onterio McCalebb scored on a statue of liberty play. Instead of putting the defense on the field, Chizik called for an onside kick.

Well, was nudged into calling it.

"We told them before the game started that after we scored the first touchdown, we were going to do it," he said. "But I forgot because I was over getting mixed up with the defense. After the second one, one of the coaches came up and said we had to do it. The players were all in to it."

The defense set a school-record, though it's nothing for them to be proud of, by allowing 408 yards per game. It's one reason why Roof is in Orlando and Chizik now sits at a crossroads having to replace two coordinators.

Last season, it was Malzahn - not Chizik - who was credited for most of the Tigers success last season. He won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant and his departure is one reason why, despite the amount of talent on the depth chart entering 2012, the future at Auburn still seems unclear.

How respected is Malzahn? He was the one, not the head coach, that was showered with Gatorade as the final few seconds ticked off the clock.

"That style of offense, they change up the reads and make it to where your run fits are important," Virginia head coach Mike London said. "Coach Malzahn does a great job and I wish him luck at Arkansas State."

"He's always going to be a great friend of mine and I'll always be very appreciative of him for what he's done for Auburn in three years," said Chizik. "I wish him the best, he's going to do a great job and be a great head coach."

Malzahn was aggressive and sped up the offense more than he had during the season. The Tigers' offensive output was so unusual that even normally sure-handed H-back Philip Lutzenkirchen dropped what would have been a touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter. The Auburn sideline took a few moments to stare in disbelief before snapping the ball again.

Starting quarterback Clint Moseley, who took over down the stretch run to close the season, injured his ankle early in the game. The offense didn't skip a beat with Barrett Trotter and Kiehl Frazier however, the former using his arm and the latter his legs to power scoring drives complete with misdirection and big plays. Fully healthy for the first time since October, wide receiver Emory Blake seemed to change the dynamics of the offense with his ability to stretch the field. The game's most outstanding player, McCalebb, had the team's longest run of the season in the second quarter.

"We just went out there and played hard," Lutzenkirchen said. "It felt good to get a win for the seniors."

The Cavaliers, who competed a remarkable turnaround in London's second season to come close to playing in the ACC title game, couldn't sustain momentum despite 428 yards of offense at nearly six yards a play. They missed a chance at the program's first bowl win in six years but did so without two of the team's best players, cornerback Chase Minnifield and linebacker Steve Greer.

"It's been a fantastic year for us," London said. "You get a chance to reflect on a lot of things. Right now this one stings a little bit. They played better than we did. We just regroup and get ready."

While London appears to have Virginia pointed in the right direction, there's still plenty that remains to be seen about the direction Auburn is taking. If the bowl game was any indication though, things will be just fine on the Plains.

"We just came out here and got the job done," said McCalebb. "People didn't give us much credit coming in. We knew we had to go out and do what we do."

Wright, a freshman defensive tackle who said he would ably step in for Nick Fairley on Signing Day in February, had a coming out party with a sack that setup the safety and was the only player who was able to get any pressure on quarterback Michael Rocco most of the night. Fellow frosh Quan Bray had a nice return after the safety and, despite his lack of attempts, Frazier left an impact by scoring two touchdowns in goal line situations.

"I've said it before, the future is extremely bright," Chizik said. "And this win gives a good idea of the direction we've been going in."

Bookended by success, Chizik will have to hope he's got a few more lessons ready to keep the program from taking two steps forward but one step back in 2012.

"We won some big games and we got beat in some big games," he said of the season. "There's a lot of teachable moments in there for our team."

Enough, he hopes, to carry over into next season as old acquaintances be forgot.


Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Big East welcomes new members with signs in NYC

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A few years ago, Oregon put up a massive billboard in New York City featuring quarterback Joey Harrington as "Joey Heisman" in order to boost awareness ahead of the season. It seemed to work well as the Ducks ended up playing in the Fiesta Bowl and Harrington finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2001.

After (finally) adding new members Boise State, Houston, SMU, San Diego State and UCF, the Big East figured they might as well pull the same thing off. Along with a massive conference logo, the league made a splash in Times Square by "welcoming" the new schools with electric signage that rotated throughout the day on Tuesday. The stunt was in conjunction with Big East sponsor American Eagle Outfitters.

There is an image for each school - the Broncos featuring the school's trademark Blue Turf - and the Big East itself rotating every 30 seconds. If you're in New York, we'd suggest making your way down to see them soon, as they're scheduled to run today only. If you can't make it, no worries, they're all below courtesy of the Big East Facebook page.






Posted on: November 1, 2011 1:51 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Big East Presidents approve, extend invitations

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Tuesday, the Big East held their annual meeting of the school Presidents in Philadelphia. As expected, commissioner John Marinatto used the gathering as an opportunity to get the official votes from league members regarding the specific plan for conference expansion. After the meeting, Marinatto provided a veiled update on the league's plan and timetable regarding expansion and the exit process for West Virginia.

“Our Presidents voted unanimously to extend invitations to specific institutions, including both football-only and all-sport members to join the Big East Conference," Marinatto explained in his official statement.  "I will be speaking to representatives of those schools shortly and look forward to announcing with them their acceptance into the Big East. The addition of these members will extend our reach, bring us to exciting new markets, strengthen our status within the BCS, and lay the foundation for possible further expansion, all while maintaining the high quality and standards our Conference is known for.

“In light of the lawsuit filed by West Virginia yesterday, the Presidents also discussed and confirmed our continuing commitment to enforce the Conference’s 27-month notification period for schools choosing to leave. The Conference believes these claims to be wholly without merit and will explore all its legal options to protect its interests and to ensure that West Virginia lives up to its obligations.”

There are not too many surprises in this update, including the clarification that both football-only and all-sports invitations will be extended. Navy, Air Force, and Boise State are expected to be among the football-only invitations, while Conference USA schools UCF, Houston, and SMU have been awaiting official invitations to join in all sports since the 12-team football expansion plans began taking shape.

The real development in the statement is the league's plan to hold West Virginia to the 27-month withdrawal period. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy detailed West Virginia's lawsuit against the Big East hoping for an exit in time to compete in the Big 12 for the 2012-2013 academic year. In the Big 12's teleconference, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck explained that "our team is working with their team" to make it happen. Marinatto's statement on Tuesday suggests that this may be a more difficult process than the Mountaineers originally imagined.

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: October 14, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 10:40 am
 

Report: Big East voting on exit fees Friday

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the Big East pursues a conference model that includes 12 football-playing schools, one obstacle that seems to be holding up the process is the league's exit fees. With an unknown future, the six remaining football schools have been noncommittal towards increasing the exit fees, which would make it more difficult to leave. At the same time, potential Big East targets such as Navy and Boise State would like to see some more commitment from the conference before joining.

According to a Sporting News report the conference has scheduled a call on Friday that would include a vote on "dramatically increasing the exit fee for universities wishing to leave for other conferences."
A source close to the league told Sporting News the meeting will ask schools to approve a change in the league bylaws that would require a school to pay three times its annual share of league television revenue in order to depart.

Under the league’s current deal, that would raise the buyout to between $15-17 million. If the league were able to gain a TV contract even close to the one it recently declined from ESPN -- $1.4 billion over 9 years – that escape clause would become even more substantial.
The report also includes a detail that Louisville may decline to participate in the call. The Cardinals have been the most realistic defector of the remaining six, as they have targeted as a potential replacement for MIssouri should the Tigers leave the Big 12. Louisville's vote is not needed to issue a change in the withdrawal fees, Big East bylaws require just a 75 percent vote for approval.

Until the exit fees are raised, it will be near impossible to convince other schools to join arguably the most volatile conference in FBS play. However, the addition of the service academies would be a big step forward towards securing the league's future. Once you get the service academies you can start working towards bringing in programs that would help maintain the Big East's status as a BCS automatic qualifier.

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: October 9, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 6:16 pm
 

Air Force AD: Interest 'high' in Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

Following the news of TCU's plans to accept an invitation to join the Big 12, the presidents of the remaining Big East schools participated in a conference call Friday morning to discuss the league's future. Contrary to some reports no official decisions or announcements came from the meeting, but all signs point to the conference extending invitations to membership in the near future.

One of the schools frequently listed as a target for football is Air Force. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported that the conference was targeting Navy and Air Force before Syracuse and Pittsburgh bolted for the ACC. Even with the league now looking at only six football programs moving forward, Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh is still interested in the idea of joining the Big East.

"Our interest is high in the Big East. That's fair to say," Mueh told The Denver Post on Saturday. "This stuff is moving fast."

Mueh pointed out that his ideal scenario involves Air Force, Navy and Army all making the move to participating in the Big East for football, but there were no certainties in the discussions. The Falcons were listed by some as a possible target for Big 12 expansion after Texas and Oklahoma announced their intentions to stay in the league. Mueh confirmed on Saturday the school was approached by the Big 12, to which the AD said "no thanks."

"We were approached by the Big 12, and I told them we're not a good fit for that conference. In the Big 12, geography makes sense, the economics make sense, but the recruiting makes no sense for us. I can't recruit against Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State," Mueh explained.

"That's why I turned down the Big 12. I can't do that to my kids, because they'll get beat up. I'd love the extra $12 million or whatever it would be per year from the TV money. And I know how I'd spend the money. I'd build a new soccer stadium, and I'd build a new baseball facility, all in one year. But I can't do that."

Interesting take from the Air Force AD. He also said the Big East "absolutely" wants Army. But there are strong sentiments within the Army community that making the move to Big East conference play may be detrimental to the program in similar ways the Falcons were concerned about the Big East.

Action is expected from the league in the coming weeks regarding football expansion. In addition to the service academies, East Carolina, Central Florida, and Temple have been listed as candidates. The key for the league will be to find a program that fits with the other schools, while still maintaining the football success necessary to retain their automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series.

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: July 20, 2011 6:51 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 6:58 pm
 

UCF QB Jeff Godfrey arrested

Posted by Tom Fornelli

UCF quarterback Jeff Godfrey was arrested by campus police on Saturday night for driving on a suspended license.

According to the officer that pulled over and arrested Godfrey, he knew that Godfrey was driving on a suspended license because he'd already given him a ticket for it on April 9th. The officer also wrote on his report that he felt the tint on the windows of Godfrey's car were too dark.

Godfrey was booked into Orange County Jail on Sunday morning and was later released after posting $250 bail. His court date is set for August 5th.

Godfrey's license had been suspended after he failed to pay two traffic fines in 2009, along with another one last month. His license also expired on May 25th, so even if it hadn't already been suspended, it wouldn't be valid anyway.

UCF head coach George O'Leary is aware of Godfrey's arrest and said in a statement that he has "spoken with Jeff in regards to correcting his driver license status.

Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:32 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A jury in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Florida decided Thursday to award $10 million to the parents of late University of Central Florida football player Ereck Plancher more than three years after Plancher died during workouts in March 2008. The jury found the University of Central Florida Athletic Association (UCFAA) negligent in Plancher's death, which an Orange County medical examiner determined was due to complications from sickle cell trait. The jury did not find gross negligence on UCFAA's part, eliminating the need for additional punitive damages. 

As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the Plancher family's lawyer emphasized the importance of player safety:

"If there's one message that we have sent very loudly and clearly, the welfare of any student athlete is at the top of any football program," Plancher family attorney Steve Yerrid said. "And that's how to have a winning program."

The Planchers declined to speak immediately after the verdict, allowing Yerrid to make a statement on their behalf.

Yerrid confirmed late Thursday night the Planchers turned down a settlement offer and UCFAA is responsible for the family's court costs. He estimated those could be about $1.5 million.

This ruling will probably not end the saga once and for all, however. Central Florida only has $8.5 million budgeted for football for the entire year, so it remains to be seen where the $10 million would come from. Additionally, that figure might not be what UCF ends up paying after the case is all said and done; UCF attorneys plan to appeal the decision, citing what they feel is "an ample of appeal opportunity" throughout the trial's proceedings. 

The two parties continued to disagree Friday, with Yerrid telling CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd that UCF had turned down an offer to settle the case for the sum of $4.7 million. UCF spokesman Grant Heston vehemently denied Yerrid's claim, calling the after-the-fact allegation "very poor form" and adding that Yerrid's settlement offer had been well above the final $10 million number.

UCFAA lawyers contended throughout the trial that Plancher's death could not have been caused by sickle cell trait, producing Boston University hematologist Dr. Martin Steinberg to testify to that claim, and that Plancher's death was the result of a previously unknown heart condition and thus unpreventable. The jury evidently did not agree with that assessment, though it's possible they agreed that head coach George O'Leary -- who some former players testified had punished Plancher in ways that might have contributed to his death -- bore no responsibility.

"I think the fact that punitive damages were not awarded shows that there was no credence to allegations that Coach [George] O'Leary withheld water or ordered trainers out [of the football facility]," Heston told CBSSports.com.

Posted on: November 2, 2010 10:11 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 10:20 pm
 

Where should the Big East look first?

Posted by Chip Patterson

As you probably know by now, the Big East has decided to expand the number of football playing teams in the conference from eight to ten. This decision was reached during a regularly scheduled meeting of the athletic directors and presidents of all sixteen conference schools in Philadelphia.

The decision was unanimous, and conference commissioner John Marinatto indicated that the evaluation of potential expansion candidates will begin immediately. However, the unofficial evaluation process has been ongoing for some time. The conference approached Villanova, a member of the Big East in the other Olympic sports, back in September to discuss a move from the FCS, though no official offer was extended.

Villanova appears to be an easy selection for one of the two new spots in the conference. The addition of the Wildcats would be as painless as it comes for the rest of the schools, but that does not mean it would be free of roadblocks. The NCAA requires a two-year transition period for a school to move from the FCS to the BCS, and there is some concern as to if Villanova could replicate the success that brought them an FCS National Championship immediately against BCS-caliber opponents. In all likelihood, Villanova winning the FCS National Championship was one of tipping points to accelerate the discussion of the jump to join their Big East brethren on the gridiron.

For the Big East to fill both spots in the planned expansion, they will likely have to bring in a school from outside the conference in the other Olympic sports. Making that move will take the work of some big guns, like former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Tagliabue has been hired as a consultant to help with the deal, among other things the formation of a possible TV network.

One giant boost to the television value of the conference would be the addition of TCU. Rumors of discussions between TCU and the Big East began to circulate back in September, with both sides remaining ambiguously mum on the issue. Now with the blessing of the Board of Directors, those discussions can (and may likely) become serious fast. Under head coach Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs have become perennial powerhouses on the national college football scene. In addition to bringing national interest, TCU would also bring the Big East to the football audience in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area.

But would this be a good move for TCU? The greatest appeal the Big East can offer is an automatic bid to the BCS, though some have argued that with the future arrival of Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State, the Mountain West Conference may be on their way to gaining AQ status. But as the teams shuffle, there are no promises that new MWC will carry the same weight as it has in recent years.

Sources have also reported Central Florida, Houston, and Temple as other possible candidates for the two new spots in the Big East. Central Florida and Houston would be able to offer the major markets that the Big East would prefer in order to negotiate a major television deal. Temple also is a former Big East conference member.

There is still plenty of negotiation ahead, but in my opinion the best move for the Big East would be to TCU and Villanova. If the Horned Frogs join the conference only for football, then no adjustments would be necessary for the rest of the Olympic sports. It would be an immediate upgrade for the conference to gain a program that has finished ranked in the Top 25 seven times since 2000.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com