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Tag:Pittsburgh Steelers
Posted on: January 17, 2012 9:20 pm
 

UCLA hires Redskins' Spanos as D coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jim L. Mora has finished filling out his initial coaching staff at UCLA, dipping into the NFL ranks one more time to hire his ninth assistant--and his first defensive coordinator.

That hire is Washington Redskins linebacker coach Lou Spanos, who Mora introduced with a statement Tuesday afternoon. A longtime NFL veteran, Spanos spent one season with the Redskins after 15 as part of a Pittsburgh Steeler defensive staff that oversaw some of the NFL's best units during that span.

"I am thrilled a coach with Lou's NFL background and defensive pedigree has agreed to join our staff. Now that our coaching staff is complete, I'd like to thank [athletic director] Dan Guerrero for his support as we sought to bring the finest coaches in football to UCLA," Mora said. "We have a collection of men that will not only be mentors to our student-athletes, but given their experience at the highest levels of football, will also be able to provide them a blueprint for competing and winning, and reaching their athletic potential."

Spanos has his work cut out for him; he takes over a Bruins defense that finished 89th in total defense this past season and 94th in 2010. He'll also have to climb that hill without any experience as a coordinator at either the pro or collegiate level.

Fortunately for the Bruins, Mora has plenty of that kind of experience; between the two of them, there's no shortage of NFL-tested experience ready on the defensive side of the ball. Thanks to other hires out of the pro ranks like linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and strength and conditioning coach Sal Aloisi, the Bruin staff (per the announcement) "have over 90 years of experience in NFL as either players or coaches."

How much that experience is worth remains to be seen, since plenty of college staffs have been built around the idea of "NFL experience" before and failed miserably. But on paper, Mora has built the kind of staff that should be able to compete in the Pac-12.

Want more Bruins football? Follow our CBSSports.com UCLA RapidReports, written by Sean Ceglinsky. 

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 11:40 am
Edited on: January 9, 2012 12:09 pm
 

Texas A&M going after the Denver Broncos

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Sunday the Denver Broncos, and Tim Tebow in particular, were blowing the minds of football fans across the country while beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs. It was pretty much a wonderful day to be a Broncos fan, but it was also a day that may find the team in court soon.

That's because after the Broncos beat the Steelers in overtime there was this tweet from Texas A&M's Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Jason Cook.



Yes, before the game a man parachuted into the stadium waving a flag that said "12th man" and the flag was waved during the game. Which seems completely harmless and pretty much commonplace, but Texas A&M owns the trademark for it and is planning on getting its money.

It's not the first time that the school has gotten involved in something like this, as it filed a lawsuit against the Seattle Seahawks in 2006 for the same thing. Now any Seahawks broadcasts that mention the crowd as "the 12th man" also has to mention Texas A&M's trademark.

Seems pretty stupid, right? Yeah, that's because it is, though there's also an easy solution. Instead of referring to your home crowd as "the 12th man" just start referring to them as "the 12th player." Then Texas A&M will have to find a whole new way to waste everybody's time.

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: January 5, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 4:05 pm
 

Montee Ball is making a mistake

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Thursday Wisconsin running back Montee Ball made the announcement that he would be coming back to Wisconsin for his senior season. A commendable decision by Ball considering the season he just had in Madison, finishing the year with 2,229 yards and 39 touchdowns, and going to New York as a Heisman finalist.

That being said, I don't think this is the right decision for Ball to make.

At the moment Ball is ranked as the sixth best 2012 NFL draft prospect amongst running backs by Rob Rang and 80th overall, and he'd likely be a middle round pick. Yes, it's possible that his draft stock will improve after staying at Wisconsin for another season, but that doesn't mean staying in school will help him have a longer, more successful pro career. In fact, it could seriously hinder his chances.

While there are some positions like quarterback where players are better served to stay in college and get another year of experience under their belts, running back is generally not one of those positions. This is due to the wear and tear that running backs endure during a season of football, on both the college and pro levels, and there aren't many programs that can wear down a back like Wisconsin.

A running back's legs only have so many miles on them. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule as we've seen in the past from guys like Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton, but backs like those two don't come around very often. For a glimpse of what does happen more frequently, Ball need not look past his own program and some of the great rushers in the school's history.

For example, there's Heisman Trophy winner and the NCAA's all-time leading rusher Ron Dayne. In his four seasons at Wisconsin Dayne carried the ball 1,220 times for 7,125 yards. In his seven NFL seasons after being a first round draft pick of the New York Giants in 2000, Dayne carried the ball 983 times for 3,722 yards. Dayne never had the success in the NFL that he had while at Wisconsin, and while that's partially due to his build -- Ron was never the slimmest guy around -- you can easly look at those 1,220 carries in college as a factor as well. There weren't many miles left on those legs by the time he joined the Giants.

More recently there was Ball's former teammate John Clay. Clay only played three seasons with the Badgers and had half as many carries as Dayne in his career with 629 rushes, but his legs began breaking down before he even left for the NFL. Clay went undrafted last April before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent. So far in his rookie season with the Steelers, Clay has carried the ball only 10 times. Yes, the jury is still out on his NFL career, but given that he wasn't even drafted and only saw time in Pittsburgh's backfield due to injuries, it's reasonable to think that Clay won't end up in Canton one day.

The good news for Ball is that while he carried the ball 307 times in 2011 -- more than Clay ever had in any season, and more than Dayne had in two seasons at Wisconsin -- he only had 261 rushes in his first two seasons in Madison. So there's plenty of tread left on the tires, but given that Russell Wilson will not be back in 2012, there's enough reason to believe that Ball's workload will only increase next year. Which would not be good news for his longevity.

The other bonus for Ball is that he's a lot smaller than both Dayne and Clay ever were, slimming down to 210 pounds for his junior season for the sole purpose of saving some wear and tear.

Still, given the history of some of Wisconsin's greatest running backs, it's pretty clear that if Ball is hoping to have a long and successful pro career, he should make the move sooner rather than later. Playing football is not a profession with a long shelf-life, especially for running backs, and if Ball wants to have a long professional career, he'd be better off starting it in 2012 rather than 2013.

Check out where Ball, and all the 2012 draft prospects rank on the CBSSports.com draft board, and follow all the news on early entrants here. 

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. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: August 31, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 4:46 pm
 

Panthers' defense getting notes from Steelers DC

Posted by Chip Patterson

Pittsburgh has adapted the "high octane" moniker of new head coach Todd Graham, who is well-known for his no-huddle hurry-up offenses. But throughout the fall camp Graham and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson have insisted that the offense won't be the only high-octane aspect of the Panthers this season.

Patterson is installing a new 3-4 defense that will utilize a fourth "Panther linebacker" at times - a hybrid between a defensive end and outside linebacker. Pittsburgh will show all kinds of movement and different looks before the snap with their four linebackers, and use zone blitzes to try and throw off opposing quarterbacks. Patterson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about reaching out to one of the best zone blitz minds in the game of football this offseason.

Luckily, the Panthers' defensive coordinator didn't have to go far for advice.

Patterson said he sat down with the current Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive coordinator, the legendary Dick LeBeau, several times this offseason to learn even more about the defense he was preparing to install in fall camp.

"To have the opportunity to sit with him and ask him questions, was really special," Patterson explained. "And some of the things he said reaffirmed what we were doing and some showed me we were missing the boat.

"But the little attention to details of it was amazing. Anyone can run a certain blitz or pressure, but he spoke of the intricacies, the details, some techniques or an alignment, and that is where he really helped us. So I am going to continue to rely on him as resource, and he's the best guy in the business at what he does, so that's huge for us."

Best in the business is right. In 2010 the AFC Champion Steeler defense gave up fewer points and the second-fewest yards of anyone in the NFL. Outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley terrorized quarterbacks and combined for 20.5 sacks on the season. There has been talk that defensive end Brandon Lindsey will move to that Panther linebacker position in some packages, unleashing the defensive end who totaled 10 sacks (2nd in the Big East) in 2010.

Expecting Steelers-esque performance from the start is asking a bit much from the Panthers, but there is no doubt that Keith Patterson is using a good model for his new scheme. Pittsburgh has been picked to finish right near the top of the conference, likely battling Backyard Brawl Rival West Virginia for the title once again. Their campaign kicks off Saturday when they play host to Buffalo at 6 p.m..
Posted on: January 25, 2011 4:10 pm
 

SEC linemen missing-in-action at Senior Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Senior Bowl is one of those unique events that draws interest from both NFL diehards and college football fanatics, the former scoping out the next wave of professional stars and the latter getting one last look at some of the college game's brightest stars. CBS is covering the event accordingly, with plenty of coverage over at our NFL Draft homepage .

But as of this afternoon, there's a pair of prominent names from the SEC 's lines-of-scrimmage you won't see appearing as part of that coverage. One of them is fearsome LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis, a first-team All-SEC selection this season who finished second only to Nick Fairley amongst league tackles in both tackles-for-loss and sacks.

That performance was enough to put Nevis on the first-round radar (if not into the first 32 picks in the current CBS mock draft ). But a "minor foot injury" has hampered his preparations for the draft and today he officially withdrew from taking part in the Senior Bowl. Nevis has continued to work out and will reportedly take full part in the upcoming NFL combine despite the injury, but he will not be able to improve his stock this week in Mobile.

The same will go for Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey, who after initially accepting his invitation to participate has now elected not to appear in the Senior Bowl or take part in the week's practices. His reasoning is unclear at this time, but after a disappointing senior season that saw the preseason all-conference selection struggle mightily with a conversion to center from his preferred guard position, it no doubt won't help his standing in the eyes of the scouts.

That doesn't mean he won't find an enthusiastic taker somewhere -- his brother Maurkice Pouncey was a first-round draft choice last year who'll take the field in the Super Bowl for the Pittsburgh Steelers -- but it nonetheless seems like a missed opportunity for the longtime Gator stalwart.

Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 2:22 pm
 

Super Bowl rosters, broken down by conference

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Are you an NFL general manager or other team executive? Would you like your team to win its conference and go to the Super Bowl? You, sir, clearly need to start drafting players out of the conference where the real talent is: the mighty MAC.

That's the curious lesson imparted by the active rosters of this year's two Super Bowl participants, as the MAC is more heavily represented among thosee 106 players than any conference aside from the SEC and Big Ten. The complete breakdown of players' conference affiliation is as follows, per the active rosters of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers available here and here , respectively:
SEC: 18 (Steelers: R. Clark, R. Foster, A. Madison, Ma. Pouncey, C. Scott, M. Wallace, H. Ward; Packers: C. Clifton, M. Flynn, B. Goode, H. Green, Q. Johnson, D. Lee, P. Lee, T. Masthay, C. Peprah, S. Wells, J. Wynn)

Big Ten: 15 (Steelers: F. Adams, W. Allen, T. Essex, L. Foote, J. Kapinos, R. Mendenhall, A. Randle-El, M. Spaeth, L. Woodley; Packers: B. Bulaga, A. Hawk, R. Pickett, A. Quarless, M. Wilhelm, C. Woodson)

MAC: 13
(Steelers: C. Batch, A. Brown, J. Harrison, B. Roethlisberger (pictured back in his Miami (Ohio) days), S. Suisham; Packers: D. Briggs, T. Crabtree, J. Gordy, C. Jenkins, G. Jennings, T. Lang, J. Starks, F. Zombo)

ACC: 13 (Steelers: C. Butler, J. Dwyer, N. Eason, J. Farrior, K. Fox, B. McFadden, H. Miller, L. Timmons, G. Warren, J. Worilds; Packers: R. Francois, B. Raji, S. Shields)

Big 12: 8 (Steelers: C. Hampton, T. Hills, Z. Hood, J. Scott; Packers: G. Harrell, M. Crosby, B. Jackson, J. Nelson)

Conference USA: 7
(Steelers: B. Leftwich, D. Legursky, M. Moore, E. Sanders; Packers: A. Bigby, J. Sitton, C. Wilson)

Non-FBS: 7 (Steelers: I. Redman, A. Smith; Packers: N. Collins, E. Dietrich-Smith, D. Driver, J. Kuhn, N. McDonald)

Pac-10: 6 (Steelers: K. Lewis, T. Polamalu; Packers: D. Bishop, C. Matthews, D. Nance, A. Rodgers)

MWC: 5 (Steelers: C. Hoke, B. Keisel, C. Kemoeatu, S. Sylvester; Packers: B. Swain)

WAC: 5
(Packers: J. Bush, D. Colledge, K. Hall, J. Jones, T. Williams)

Big East: 4 (Steelers: W. Gay, R. Mundy; Packers: J. Spitz, B. Underwood)

Sun Belt: 4 (Steelers: D. Johnson, S. McLendon, I. Taylor; Packers: E. Walden)

Independent: 1
(Steelers: A. Battle)
(Note that affiliations are based on 2010 league alignment: Boise State in the WAC, Utah the MWC, Nebraska the Big 12, etc.)

Some bullet points to be made about the breakdown:
  • Kidding aside, the number of MAC players represented has to be something of a statistical fluke -- does any team in the league have as many as the Packers' eight? -- but it's worth noting that both teams rely heavily on players from outside the six BCS conferences. 34 percent of the Steelers' roster hails from non-AQ (or non-FBS) teams, with the Packers' number at 43 percent. An NFL team that doesn't bother scouting smaller conferences would, obviously, be missing out on a major source of talent.
  • That said, the two conferences best represented -- the SEC and Big Ten -- are exactly the two you'd expect based on the amount of money being spent within them and overall influence within college football.
  • As with the MAC's high numbers, the oddly low numbers for the Pac-12 and Big East are probably unfortunate circumstance. Nonetheless, those leagues probably would have liked to have been represented by more than only four and three teams, respectively.
  • Yes, it's interesting that non-FBS teams enjoy more representation than two BCS leagues and have only one player fewer than a Big 12 featuring programs like Texas and Oklahoma. But don't marvel too much; as with the number of successful pro players who weren't highly-ranked as recruits being a function (in large part) of how many more lower-ranked recruits there are, the sheer numbers of players attending the dozens of FCS and Division II schools ensure that some of them will always find their way to NFL stardom.




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