Tag:FIU
Posted on: February 15, 2012 10:58 am
Edited on: February 15, 2012 2:39 pm
 

Report: Utah St, others candidates for new league



Posted by Bryan Fischer

If you follow along the timeline the past few days, it's pretty clear we're headed toward some sort of consolidation in college football.

No sooner than CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported that Conference USA and the Mountain West were both dissolving in order for remaining schools to start a new league for the 2013-2014 academic year, Dennis Dodd followed that up with a report that WAC commissioner Karl Benson would be taking the same position with the Sun Belt. With no commissioner and a league on its last legs, nobody should be surprised that the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday night that Utah State and several other schools are candidates to join the new superconference spanning the country from the East Coast to Hawaii.

“At this point, we are sitting tight,” Utah State athletics director Scott Barnes told the paper. “We obviously feel we are a strong candidate should [the new conference] decide to expand. The good news from our perspective is that there is clarity in the sense that expansion is likely.”

Temple, Florida International, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech are among the schools who are also mentioned for the unnamed league. With the departures of Boise State to the Mountain West in 2011 and Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii in 2012, the WAC will have just seven football members this upcoming season and any further defections would probably result in the conference folding.

The new league being formed is expected to consist of Southern Miss, Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and Tulane from Conference USA and Wyoming, Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii (football-only) from the Mountain West. If you add in aforementioned candidates then the conference would be right at 21 schools, right in the middle of the targeted 18-24 that are expected to be part of a true coast-to-coast endeavor.

By the way, you can vote on possible names (and suggest your own) for this massive, superleague on our Facebook page.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:13 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 11:13 pm
 

Report: FIU working on extension for Cristobal

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Wednesday night it was reported that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst had become the frontrunner to land the Pitt job. News that was somewhat surprising because FIU's Mario Cristobal had been rumored to be the lead candidate for the position. Well, we may now know why Cristobal's name suddenly dropped from the discussion.

According to the Miami Herald, FIU has been working to sign Cristobal to an extension. In fact, the paper calls them "aggressive negotiations." While I try to get the image of members of FIU's athletic department literally punching Cristobal in the face with contract offers, it should be pointed out that Cristobal did just get an extension from the school earlier this year.

That extension lasts through 2016.

While there's no word on how long this latest extension will be, it's pretty clear that Cristobal is a coach FIU values and really wants to keep around for as long as possible. And it's hard to blame them for it.

The program has only been around for a decade, and its rise under Cristobal has been remarkable. The Panthers won the Sun Belt Conference last season and finished the year with a win over Toledo in the Little Caesar's Bowl. While 2011 wasn't as successful, the Panthers still did reach a bowl game for the second consecutive season, losing to Marshall in the Beef O'Brady Bowl on Tuesday night.

Combine all that with 19 of 22 starters returning in 2012, and it's easy to see why FIU wants Cristobal around.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:27 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 9:55 am
 

Pittsburgh hires Wisconsin's Paul Chryst

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It appears we are getting close to Pitt finding a replacement for Todd Graham after Graham left the school to take over at Arizona State.

An Associated Press source with knowledge of the decision says Pittsburgh has hired Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to be the next head football coach.  This confirms a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Wednesday night, as well as several other outlets with sources close to the program. 

The Post-Gazette report says that the two sides are still working on a contract agreement, and that an official announcement could come in the next day or two. Which, we'll admit, leaves a bit of wiggle room. It wouldn't be the first contract negotiation to go horribly awry.

It had been reported earlier in the week that FIU's Mario Cristobal was the frontrunner for the job with Chryst in second place, but it seems that has changed for now. Chryst also interviewed at Pitt last January before the school decided to hire Todd Graham.

Graham took the Pittsburgh head coaching job 11 months ago preaching character, commitment and a "high octane" offense designed to take the Big East by storm.

What was high-octane was watching Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri dodge pass rush from the opposition.  The Panthers allowed 57 sacks this season, easily the most in the FBS, and Graham enraged the Pitt fan base by shifting blame from himself to Sunseri.

Chryst, a former Wisconsin quarterback, has built one of the Big Ten's most dominant offensive units since joining the Badgers' coaching staff in 2005.  This season, the Badgers' led the Big Ten in total offense with 466.9 yards per game and the unit has finished in the top three of that same category every season since 2007.   



Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:30 am
 

QUICK HITS: Beef O'Brady's Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

MARSHALL WON. The Marshall Thundering Herd capitalized on multiple FIU miscues in the fourth quarter, and Marshall came away with a 20-10 victory. Rakeem Cato had a productive second half and finished with 224 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air for Marshall, and FIU was held to just 246 yards of offense on the day.

HOW MARSHALL WON: Marshall had six blocked punts coming into this game, so let's make it seven. Zach Dunston blocked a punt in the fourth quarter and were it not for a litany of penalties after the block, he would have scored a touchdown on the recovery. As it was, Marshall stayed close enough to the end zone to kick a go-ahead field goal with under six minutes left, and that was enough to take the lead for good.

WHEN MARSHALL WON: After Marshall's go-ahead field goal, FIU still had more than enough time to drive down the field, but T.Y. Hilton coughed up the football -- his second fumble of the day -- and Marshall recovered near midfield. The Thundering Herd would hang onto the ball until there was under a minute to play ... at which point Cato reared back on a 4th and 5 on the FIU 35 and found Aaron Dobson for a long touchdown pass to seal the win. Yes, Marshall called a deep pass play on 4th down with a 3-point lead to protect. That is play-calling con gusto.

WHAT MARSHALL WON: Marshall was widely regarded as the worst bowl team of the 70 with bids this year, so coming away from the Beef O'Brady's Bowl with a win anyway is a major plus for Doc Holliday and the program. Rakeem Cato came on strong and still has three years of eligibility left, so Marshall fans ought to be pleased with having their QB situation settled until 2014.

WHAT FIU LOST: It stinks to see T.Y. Hilton be such a big part of the offense in his final game, only to have him fumble away the team's last shot at scoring. But really, what's more important than even this game itself is whether FIU loses Mario Cristobal to Pittsburgh or if Pitt goes in a different direction. Cristobal's not the only person capable of winning at FIU, in all likelihood, but he is literally the only person to be head coach of FIU thus far, and undoubtedly the FIU brass would prefer Cristobal stays home for as long as possible.

THAT WAS CRAZY: On the final play of the game, Marshall defensive lineman Marques Aiken and FIU offensive lineman Giancarlo Revilla engaged in some extracurricular activity, including Revilla tearing off Aiken's helmet and Aiken throwing at least one punch at Revilla. Guys, guys, guys. Please don't have beef with each other. Beef has no place in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl!

FINAL GRADE: C-. Sloppy play abounded in this game, and only the late touchdown throw by Cato saved this mess of a game from getting into D-level territory. 



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Posted on: December 20, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Report: FIU's Cristobal is 'frontrunner' for Pitt

Posted by Chip Patterson

Pittsburgh's search to replace Todd Graham as the head football coach has slowed since the weekend's interviews, possibly because school officials are waiting for a response from the reported frontrunner: Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal.

Paul Zeise, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reports that Cristobal emerged from the weekend as the leading candidate to become the next Panthers football coach, but asked the school to hold off any further discussions until after FIU's bowl game. Cristobal's Golden Panthers squad will make its second-straight postseason appearance against Marshall in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl on Tuesday night.

Cristobal interviewed with the school last week, but the Panthers have back-up plans if the Miami native chooses to stay put with the Golden Panthers. Ohio State defensive coordinator -- and interim coach for 2011 -- Luke Fickell as well as Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst are the other known candidates for the vacant position. The report in the Gazette cited a source close to one of those candidates that suggested Pitt was "waiting for something" before moving forward. It is believed the school will wait for the completion of Tuesday's bowl game before gauging the interest of Cristobal.

No formal offers have been made by the school to any candidates, but all three would fit the mold Pittsburgh is looking for in their next coach. Of course, the Panthers thought Todd Graham fit that mold as well, but the most high-octane aspect from Graham's time in Pittsburgh was the speed of his exit. The school is looking for a coach to re-energize the storied program that has only claimed a share of two conference titles since 1980.

Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will serve as the interim head coach when the Panthers face SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7 in Birmingham.

Get set for Mario Cristobal and FIU's showdown in Tuesday's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl against Marshall at the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Beef O'Brady's Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Adam Jacobi

Key matchup: Kedrick Rhodes, RB, FIU vs. Omar Brown, FS, Marshall

Ordinarily, having a free safety lead a team in tackles by a substantial margin is usually a portender of doom: if ball-carriers are getting to the second level with such regularity that the defense's centerfielder is being required to make a plurality of the tackles, after all, that normally means that the linebackers are having such a rough go of it that forcing third and fourth downs is basically out of the question. And yet, there's Marshall FS Omar Brown, leading the Thundering Herd by a 16-tackle margin over the next leading tackler (LB George Carpenter), and Marshall's defense is still... well, it's not good, but it's okay!

Brown's going to have to spend plenty of time in run support on Tuesday, because FIU's probably going to give the ball to sophomore tailback Kedrick Rhodes at least 20 times -- and perhaps closer to 30 -- in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. Rhodes broke the FIU record for most rushing yards in a year with 1164 yards this season, topping the mark of 1133 set by Rashod Smith in 2004, and Rhodes was named a 2nd team All-Sun Belt RB as a result. Rhodes isn't exactly a bruiser, but he's hardly a wisp either at 5'11", 190.

It's going to be easier for FIU to open up the game and create space for T.Y. Hilton to work his magic if the Marshall defense is preoccupied with stopping the run, and that's only going to happen if FIU can gain significant yardage on the ground to force 2nd and short or 3rd and short. And the extent to which Marshall utilizes Brown -- again, a defensive back, although one who's a tackle machine -- to do so should be a fascinating chess match to watch during the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.



Check out all the latest updates on FIU and Marshall right up until kickoff at the Beef O'Brady's Bowl Pregame.

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 19, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 8:33 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Beef O'Brady's Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

FIU WILL WIN IF: T.Y. Hilton has one more big game in him. Hilton, the multi-talented wideout and return specialist, caught 64 passes for 950 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. Once you add in rushes and returns, Hilton registered 104 total touches for 1749 all-purpose yards and eight scores. That works out to 8.66 touches, 145.75 yards, and .66 TDs per game for the electric senior.

In FIU's four losses, however, Hilton's production drops considerably; he touched the ball 5.75 times for 102 all-purpose yards per game, and scored two touchdowns in those four games. In fact, Hilton's stats were substantially lower in every single measurable category in those four losses except kick return average; there, Hilton's YPR jumps all the way from 32.0 to 33.75. So the message here is clear: get the ball in Hilton's hands, or leave the Beef O'Brady's Bowl disappointed. And nobody likes to associate Beef O'Brady's with disappointment, now, do they?

MARSHALL WILL WIN IF: Vinny Curry gets loose. Marshall may be 6-6, but there are a few pretty decent wins hidden in there: 26-20 over Southern Miss, 17-14 at Louisville, and even 24-20 over a 4-8 Rice team that faced a ferocious schedule. One of those most consistent factors in those wins -- and just about all of them -- was Curry. Curry trailed only Houston's Sammy Brown in sacks and tackles for loss in the C-USA this year; indeed, Brown and Curry were 1-2 in the nation in tackles for loss. What's more, in the Herd's six wins, Curry was even more dominant: 13.5 TFLs, 9.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks. Those rates -- 2.25 TFL and 1.50 sacks per game -- would be enough to lead the nation if he had maintained them in the Herd's six losses as well. He didn't, of course, so it's going to be crucial for Marshall to get that level of production out of its senior DE one last time. 

X-FACTOR: Mario Cristobal's status. FIU's celebrated coach, who has essentially been the architect of Golden Panther football, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for multiple BCS-level football programs. And while it's unlikely that Cristobal would take a new job that would require him to abandon his team in the 24 hours leading up to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, it is also the case that Cristobal's time spent in consideration of a new coaching destination is time not spent on game preparation for the Marshall game. Exactly how much effect the distraction of job talks has on FIU's preparation -- if any at all -- remains to be seen, but FIU fans and administrators looking forward to the Golden Panthers' second straight bowl win can't be thrilled that Cristobal is conducting these talks before his team's season is officially over.



Check out all the latest updates on FIU and Marshall right up until kickoff at the Beef O'Brady's Bowl Pregame.

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 19, 2011 2:40 am
 

Pittsburgh holds interviews with Fickell, Chryst

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Pittsburgh may not have a head coach to replace Todd Graham yet, but if two recent confirmed interviews are any indication, the Panthers are looking for a Big Ten influence as they transition from the Big East to the ACC.

According to the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday, Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell confirmed that he has interviewed with Pittsburgh in recent days, but that he has not been offered the Pitt job.

Fickell said that regardless of whether he goes to Pittsburgh, he will coach the Buckeyes in their January 2 Gator Bowl matchup against Florida before ceding the program to Urban Meyer. If Fickell does not take another job elsewhere -- he has not interviewed with any other programs -- he will take a spot on Meyer's defensive staff, though the formal title has not been announced.

Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has also been mentioned as a candidate for some relatively high-profile head coaching gigs, including Kansas and Illinois, and Pitt has shown enough interest in Chryst to bring him in for an interview as well. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, Chryst is ready to be a head coach, but he's not ready to talk about the Pittsburgh job:

Asked if he would talk about the Pittsburgh job, Chryst politely declined to comment.

Chryst, in his sixth season as UW's offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach, has acknowledged he feels prepared to run a program.

UW athletic director Barry Alvarez has recommended Chryst to Pittsburgh officials.

A source reiterated Sunday that although Chryst is ready to be a head coach he would prefer to stay in the Midwest and will leave UW only for a perfect fit.

Still, even though Pitt has interviewed coaches from Ohio State and Wisconsin, it's every bit as possible that it goes in an entirely different direction when it comes time for the final hire. Some reports are emerging that Pitt's top candidate is actually Mario Cristobal of Florida International (whom CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman has endorsed as a possibility for the Penn State head coaching role). Cristobal has already interviewed with Pitt as well, and the Journal-Sentinel report on Chryst also indicated that Cristobal was offered the Pitt job on Sunday. Cristobal will lead his 8-4 Golden Panthers to their second straight (and second ever) bowl game with a game against Marshall in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl on Tuesday.

Still, Pittsburgh is adamant that any reports of job offers are premature, as the athletic department released this statement on Sunday afternoon: “Contrary to Internet reports, the Pitt football head coaching position has not been offered to anyone, nor have any decisions on an offer been made. The search is still an ongoing process.”



To keep up with the Pittsburgh job search and all the other coaching hires of this offseason, check out CBSSports.com's Coaching Carousel Tracker.

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