Posted on: July 7, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 12:49 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Time for another preseason award Watch List.* This time it's for the Biletnikoff Award, handed out annually to the nation's best receiver.
Via No 2-Minute Warning, the full 75-player list:
A few knee-jerk reactions:
-- Yeah, it's the SEC, but the emphasis on the nation's strongest conference still seems a bit ... heavy. Duron Carter, who as of today still hasn't even enrolled at Alabama? Four different Arkansas receivers? (It's true, Cobi Hamilton would be the No. 1 guy on most teams ... but still.) Tavarres King, who caught all of 27 passes last season? (Then again, it's hard to say the SEC is really getting that much respect when Rueben Randle's name is so egregiously misspelled.)
-- As for snubs, Big East followers are up in arms over the exclusion of Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, which makes some sense given his overall production as a receiver/rusher/even passer. Notre Dame's Theo Riddick could also wind up having a huge year, especially if Michael Floyd doesn't make it back from suspension. Other than that ... well, as you can see, it's a long list.
-- Louisiana-Lafayette's Ladarius Green was one of the nation's most prolific receivers last year at the Ragin' Cajuns' combo WR/TE spot ... which is how he's turned the rare trick of being nominated for both the Biletnikoff and Mackey Awards. Not bad for a Sun Belt player, huh?
*Hope you're getting used to it, because we've still got a bunch more coming down the pipe this week.
Posted on: April 7, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: April 7, 2011 12:41 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The 2011 offseason doesn't nearly so expansion-mad as the summer of 2010, but thanks to the Sun Belt, it look like we might have some intrigue after all.
According to this report in the Miami Herald, the current nine-team conference (and 10-team league once provisional program South Alabama becomes a full FBS member) is on the verge of adding a new, as-yet-unidentified 11th future member (emphasis added):
The conference has entertained expansion overtures from multiple programs in recent months, and the league has expressed keen interest in at least one of those candidates, The Miami Herald has learned.
The report is correct that limiting candidates to current FBS programs within the Sun Belt's geographical footprint doesn't leave room for a whole lot of options. And in fact, barring a surprise defection out of Conference USA, there seems to be just one: Louisiana Tech.
Located hundreds of miles from its closest geographic neighbors, the Shrveport-based school has always been an odd fit in its current home in the WAC. Given the WAC's short straw in the expansion battles and impending plunge to the basement of the FBS (not to mention the possibility of losing its automatic NCAA Tournament berth in men's basketball), Tech's switch to the Sun Belt would make sense from any number of perspectives: better level of competition, substantially reduced travel costs, local rivalries with schools like the SBC's UL-Monroe and Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, and all the recruiting advantages that those benefits would bring.
Meanwhile, the Sun Belt would be getting a firmly-established FBS program with a long history of producing high-quality teams, NFL players, and upsets of neighboring power schools (not to mention the aforementioned in-state conference rival for its Louisiana programs). Tech to the Sun Belt would appear to be a win-win on all sides.
That's not to say it's a certainty. Several schools in Conference USA also fit within the SBC's geographic footprint if they wanted out of C-USA for whatever reason, and if the league decided that footprint was wider than we'd expect, they could theoretically re-adopt former Sun Belt members New Mexico State or Utah State. And even if the school receiving "keen interest" from the league is Tech, it's far from a done deal.
But in any case, the move would make so much sense for both the Bulldogs and the SBC it would be a surprise if they weren't considering it. And if it's a move that indeed comes to pass, we'll have yet more confirmation that the Belt has decisively left the WAC behind as the FBS's bottom-barrel conference.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 2:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in Conference USA and the Sun Belt .
BILL BLANKENSHIP, Tulsa
Why him? Former Tulsa quarterback was promoted from running backs/special teams coach to maintain 10-3, top-25 status quo. For 2011, Blankenship needs to: find a replacement for departed offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who took the same position at Clemson after being passed over the Tulsa head job; the right hire could turn Tulsa's nine returning offensive starters (including quarterback G.J. Kinne and all-purpose weapon Damaris Johnson) into another double-digit win season. By 2014, Blankenship will need to have: won a C-USA title. For all of the Golden Hurricane's offensive fireworks under Todd Graham, their only league championship came back in 2005 under Steve Kragthorpe. Chances Blankenship gets what he needs? Fair-to-middling. Tulsa's points-happy brand should be strong enough to keep them near the top of the league standings (provided Blankenship doesn't blow the OC hire), but will simply promoting a position coach really be enough to get them over the hump?
DAN McCARNEY, North Texas (pictured)
Why him? Far and away the most recognizable name among the new C-USA/SBC hires, the 57-year-old McCarney spent 12 successful seasons as Iowa State's head coach before supervising the defensive lines at South Florida and Florida. For 2011, McCarney needs to: just offer some kind of hope. The snake-bitten Mean Green (4 losses in 2010 by total of 13 points) have won only 13 games in six seasons. By 2014, McCarney will need to have: found some semblance of a defense. UNT hasn't had too many problems offensively, but they won't accomplish anything until one of the nation's worst defenses is brought up to code. Chances McCarney gets what he needs? Decent. McCarney may be a little too long in the tooth (and the program may have decayed too badly) to bring back the Mean Green's early-Aughts glory days, but the old pro should have the defensive chops to at least bring UNT back to respectability.
HUGH FREEZE, Arkansas State
Why him? Former Ole Miss assistant made famous by The Blind Side was promoted from offensive coordinator after leading Red Wolves to better than 400 yards per game, vaulting them from 95th to 43rd in total offense. For 2011, Freeze needs to: get to .500. Disappointing 4-8 records the last two seasons earned Steve Roberts a pink slip, but with Ryan Aplin back at quarterback and better luck due after going 1-5 in one-possession games in 2010, there's no reason (other than a revamped offensive line) Freeze can't get the Red Wolves back to 6-6. By 2014, Freeze will need to have: established ASU as an upper-tier Sun Belt program. Getting past Troy and up-and-coming FIU won't be easy, but there's nothing stopping the Red Wolves from joining in the SBC mix. Chances Freeze gets what he needs? Good. Freeze knows his way around the Arkansas and Tennessee recruiting scenes and has a sharp offensive mind; those traits alone should be enough to get the Red Wolves back to the postseason (for the first time since 2005) sooner rather than later.
MARK HUDSPETH, Lousiana (formerly UL-Lafayette)
Why him? Before taking a job on Dan Mullen's staff at Mississippi State , Hudpseth excelled as the head coach at Division II North Alabama, going 66-20 in seven seasons. For 2011, Hudspeth needs to: right the ship. A series of near-misses at a winning season under Rickey Bustle dissolved in a 3-9 disaster in 2010; a simple step in the right direction will be enough for one of the FBS's most tradition-deficient programs. By 2014, Hudspeth will need to have: earned a bowl bid. The Ragin' Cajuns have never taken part in FBS postseason play. Chances Hudspeth gets what he needs? Not bad. There's room to be upwardly mobile in the Sun Belt, and despite a relatively bare cupboard, Hudspeth has quality head coaching experience at only 42 years of age.
Tags: Arkansas State, Bill Blankenship, Chad Morris, Clemson, Conference USA, Damaris Johnson, Dan McCarney, Dan Mullen, FIU, Florida, G.J. Kinne, Headset Reset, Hugh Freeze, Iowa State, Louisiana, Mark Hudspeth, Mississippi State, North Alabama, North Texas, Ole Miss, Rickey Bustle, Ryan Aplin, South Florida, Steve Kragthorpe, Steve Roberts, Sun Belt, The Blind Side, Todd Graham, Troy, Tulsa, UL-Lafayette
Posted on: November 16, 2010 5:01 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Linemen, defenders, running backs, and quarterbacks have all had their day in the "award announces smaller list of potential winners from larger list" sun, so now it's time for the guys that catch the ball. First, the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award , given to the nation's outstanding wide receiver:
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Randall Cobb, Kentucky
Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M
A.J. Green, Georgia
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
Julio Jones, Alabama
Aldrick Robinson, SMU
Greg Salas, Hawaii
Jordan White, Western Michigan
And the eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award , due the nation's top tight end:
George Bryan (Jr., North Carolina State)
Michael Egnew (Jr., Missouri)
Ladarius Green (Jr., Louisiana)
Daniel Hardy (Sr., Idaho)
Lance Kendricks (Sr., Wisconsin)
Allen Reisner (Sr., Iowa)
Luke Stocker (Sr., Tennessee)
D.J. Williams (Sr., Arkansas)
What's interesting about contrasting the two lists in how many names pop off the firts list and don't pop off the second one. Of course, of course, the first is wide receivers and the second is tight ends. But whereas Green, Jefferey, and Jones are all universally considered first-round talents and players like Blackmon, Broyles, Salas, and White are all putting together flatly ridiculous statistical seasons (oh, and Cobb is only leading the nation in all-purpose yardage, and incredible talents like Michael Floyd and Jeff Maehl didn't make it), the tight ends are ... well, they're around. The No. 1 TE in receiving yardage is Egnew, followed by Green, and neither is exactly a household name. The early draft projections don't feature any of the tight ends listed above ... or any at all.
It's probably a one-year fluke. But as with the lack of workhorse running backs among the nation's top offensive skill players , it also speaks to how dominant the spread offense has become in college football. There just aren't as many traditional tight ends playing college football ... and it appears to be having an impact on the quality of the position overall.
Tags: A.J. Green, Alabama, Aldrick Robinson, Allen Reisner, Alshon Jeffery, Arkansas, Biletnikoff Award, D.J. Williams, Daniel Hardy, George Bryan, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Jeff Fuller, Jordan White, Julio Jones, Justin Blackmon, Kentucky, Ladarius Green, Lance Kendricks, Louisiana, Luke Stocker, Mackey Award, Michael Egnew, Missouri, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Randall Cobb, Ryan Broyles, SMU. Greg Salas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Western Michigan, Wisconsin