Category:NCAAF
Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:33 pm
 

Ohio St. RB Jaamal Berry no longer on roster

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After a rocky 2011 season, Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry is no longer part of the Buckeye roster.

Berry's attorney told the Columbus Dispatch this week that he did not expect Berry to return to the team, not with the sophomore preparing to face misdemeanor assault charges stemming from an October incident. But a spokesperson for the school said he remains on scholarship, and he continued to appear on the Buckeyes' official roster--until Thursday, this is, when the roster was labeled "as of Feb. 9" and no longer included a listing for Berry.

“From the conversation he had with the coaches, it didn’t appear that they were excited about him being (there),” Larry Coffey, Berry's coach at Palmetto (Fla.) High School, told the Dispatch. Coffey said he had spoken with Berry on Tuesday. 

“He took the lead from that, and his thought process was that it was maybe time for him to go in another direction," Coffey said.

One of the nation's top recruits in the class of 2009, Berry redshirted after a marijuana possession arrest preceding his freshman year. He bounced back to see action in all 13 games in 2010, rushing 32 times for 8.3 yards a carry and returning 21 kickoffs for the Buckeyes.

Injuries hampered the start of his 2011 season, however, before two serious off-field incidents: a September fight on campus in which police were called to the scene but no charges were filed (and Berry went to the hospital), and then the misdemeanor assault incident in October in which Berry allegedly struck a 21-year-old man in a parking garage.

Berry attorney R. William Meeks said that Berry would finish the current quarter at the minimum and could finish the school year at Ohio State.

HT: @marcushartman 

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:36 pm
 

LSU's Jefferson 'would've changed' play-calls



Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's open season on the LSU offensive coaching staff, and the team's former players just keep firing away.

The latest ex-Tiger to do so is the player at the center of much of the post-BCS championship second-guessing, quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Speaking on WCNN radio in Atlanta, Jefferson said he "probably would've changed" some of his coaches' play-calls during his team's 21-0 embarrassment if he'd had the authority. A portion of the interview:

Do you second guess yourself on doing things differently?:

“I think we should’ve spread them out a little bit more, put the ball in different passing areas, use our talent on the receiving side. We had that in as far as play-calling, we just didn’t get to it ...

Is that something you realize during the game but you can’t really do anything because you’re not calling the plays?:

“Yeah it definitely always comes to mind and it comes to mind to our receivers and tight ends. We have great guys in those areas and sometimes we just wonder why we don’t use those guys. But we’re not the one calling the plays. We still have to go out and execute what the coaches and coordinators are calling. We can’t complain as players, but sometimes we do question that."

Could you change those plays and audible on the field?:

“Only in certain plays and certain formations, not all the time. … If it was any way where I can change it, I probably would’ve changed some of them.”

As for the coaches' halftime attempts pt get things back on track, Jefferson added that "the adjustment we made wasn't the adjustment we needed to make."

Not surprisingly, Jefferson passed on suggesting he should have been replaced by backup quarterback Jarrett Lee, as guard Will Blackwell and Lee himself have. But his complaint that "sometimes we wonder why we don't use those guys" echoes strongly the gripes of tight end DeAngelo Peterson that the LSU braintrust ignored a game-plan that would have more heavily involved Jefferson's primary targets. (When not opining on the quarterbacking issue, Lee said as much as well.)

As we've stated before, the torrent of criticism in Steve Kragthorpe's, Greg Studrawa's and (to a lesser extent) Les Miles' collective direction would be much more troubling if there were any current players willing to publicly join in.

But that not one former Tiger is willing to stand up for his ex-coaches' performance that night in New Orleans strongly suggests that things were not run well behind the scenes -- not that what was in front of the scenes would argue with those complaints in the slightest -- and that if LSU's offensive coaching staff wants to maintain their players' faith in them, a    strong spring and quick start to 2012 would be highly advisable.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 6:47 pm
 

NCAA rules committee proposes new changes

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Following a regular meeting this week, the NCAA Football Rules Committee has recommended several rules proposals aimed at enhancing player safety for the upcoming season.
Changes are normally on a two-year cycle but the emphasis on safety was strong enough that the changes are proposed for immediate implementation in 2012.

“In all of our proposals, we are continuing the annual effort to find ways to make our game safer where we can,” said committee chair Scot Dapp. “Without question, these changes will enhance student-athlete safety and we feel very comfortable based on the data we collected that the impact will be significant.”

Proposed changes include:

  • The committee voted to move the kickoff back five yards to the 35-yard line and require that kicking team must be no further than five yards back to limit running starts. Another change was to move the touchback on kicks and safety punts to the 25-yard line to encourage more touchbacks.
  • Another recommendation is if a player loses his helmet other than as the result of a facemask, it will be treated like an injury and the player must leave the game and is not allowed to participate for the next play. Also, the player must not continue to participate in play to protect him from injury.
  • To clarify blocking below the waist rules, the committee approved wording that allows offensive players in the tackle box at the snap to block below the waist legally without restriction. All other players are restricted from blocking below the waist with a few exceptions. 
  • The committee proposed a rule similar to the leaping rule on place kicks that does not allow the receiving team on punts to jump over blockers, unless the player jumps straight up or between two players.
According to the NCAA website, the recommendations must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which has a teleconference scheduled for later this month.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:44 pm
 

Report: Big 12 schedule released on Friday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The 2012 Big 12 football schedule has become some kind of modern day Ark of the Covenant. People seem to think they know where it is, and what's on it, but until Chuck Neinas comes down from a mountain with the dates etched in stone, nobody really knows anything.

Though that could change on Friday.

That's the date Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the schedule is going to come out.

“It’s time for the schedule to come out,” Hocutt told the paper. “But at the same time even up until 7:30 (Wednesday) night we were having conversations about various adjustments within the schedule. It is going to come out (Friday) and I’m pleased with the end result. It think it will be one of the best home schedules we’ve possibly had in program history, or at least in quite some time. Unfortunately, given the circumstances we’ve faced, it’s a lot later than anyone wanted.” 

Of course, as has been well-documented, the hold up on the release of the Big 12 schedule has been implementing TCU and West Virginia into it. TCU hasn't been much of a problem, outside already having a non-conference game scheduled in the Big 12 before joining the conference. The real delay has been caused by West Virginia.

More specifically, is West Virginia going to be in the Big 12 next season.

The school has maintained it'll be joining the Big 12 this summer all along, and all signs currently point to that being the case, but as I said earlier in this post, it isn't safe to assume anything just yet. Though if the schedule is in fact released on Friday, and West Virginia is on it, I think that would be a pretty good sign.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 3:18 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 3:38 pm
 

Roundtable: Backing the Big Ten plus-one

Posted by Eye on College Football



Occasionally the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron-style to answer a pressing question in the world of college football. Today's query:

What are the chances of the BCS adopting the Big Ten's home-field semifinals playoff proposal? And if they do, how much of a good thing (if at all) is that for college football? 

Tom Fornelli: I think it's clear at this point that the playoff is coming. Whether or not it's going to be the Big Ten's proposal of the top two seeds hosting semifinal games, I'm not sure.

I do think that's the best way of going about things for the schools and fans, though. It would minimize travel costs for the schools, and it's the only way to make things fair. Hosting the games at places like the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or Rose Bowl wouldn't be. Right now, if you're a Big Ten or Big 12 team and you land in the top two, you're not only traveling outside your home state but your entire conference footprint to play in those locations.

Plus, how exciting would it be to see a school like Florida possibly having to travel up north to play Wisconsin in Madison during December? We already know what happens to the Big Ten when it has to head south for the winter. With this proposal we'd get to see what happens to the SEC when it's forced to head north.

As for whether or not this would be a good thing for college football, I don't see how it would be a bad thing. You take a lot of the money that you've been giving to bowl games and put that cash into the schools. Plus, as long as you keep the playoff to the top four teams, get rid of the BCS AQ statuses and everything else, you can restore the bowl traditions that are so important to everybody.

Chip Patterson: I'm with Tom: I don't see how this could be a bad thing. I certainly understand there are plenty of concerns along the way, but any step in this direction is one I support.  

Allowing the top two seeds to host the semi-final games also keeps the integrity of the BCS system intact.  At its core, the system is meant only to determine the two best teams in college football.  Now those two teams will have the advantage of getting to play the gridiron's version of the Final 4 round on their home turf.    Those who are calling for a large-scale playoff would likely be appeased with this one step forward, and the bowl experience that means so much to the fans and players can continue as it has for years.  There is no rich tradition for the BCS National Championship Game itself, so altering the process at the top does not hinder the game of college football. 

Jerry Hinnen: I'm afraid I can see how this proposal could be, if not a bad thing, a worse thing than it should be. 

There's two downsides to the Big Ten's plan as presented. The first is that it proposes to yoink those top four teams out of the bowl pool entirely, meaning that the two semifinal losers wouldn't get the bowl experience at all, despite having the kind of season that would have put them in the BCS top four to begin with. If you're, say, Stanford and your postseason experience is traveling to Columbus to watch your season end in front of 100,000 Buckeye fans in 25-degree weather, I'm not sure at all that's going to feel like much of a reward. I'd much prefer the semifinals be played in mid-December, with the losers still eligible for BCS selection; it's better for the teams (who get their deserved week of bowl festivities) and better for the bowls (who get better matchups). 

The other downside is an unavoidable one: that this could be the first step down that slippery slope to the sort of eight- or 12- or 16-team playoff that sees the college football equivalent of the New York Giants ride a single hot streak past more deserving teams to a national championship. This is another reason the Big Ten proposal should do more to placate the major bowls--they've collectively taken a lot of heat for their role in preserving the BCS's current status quo, but their money and influence are also a key line of defense in ensuring the "plus-one" doesn't become a "plus-six."

But whatever downsides you come up with are always going to pale in comparison to the upside. The biggest flaw of the BCS has always been the No. 3 team that deserved its shot as much as either (or both) of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams and didn't get it, the team that -- as Phil Steele has called it -- needs to be in the playoff. The squabbles over No. 4 vs. No. 5 are going to continue, yes, but that's a small price to pay for giving 2001 Miami, 2003 USC, 2004 Auburn, 2010 TCU, or 2011 Oklahoma State their shot. Giving them that shot in an electric on-campus atmosphere -- be it in the Midwest, on the West Coast, the Southeast, wherever -- makes a huge triumph for college football that much more, well, huge.

Bryan Fischer: We're moving toward change, but what form it takes certainly remains to be seen. Let's be clear that there were something like 50 proposals presented at the last BCS meeting, so what's notable is not this specific Big Ten proposal but the fact that the conference has changed its tune and is open to some sort of playoff.


Jim Delany has two things he is looking to accomplish no matter what happens with the BCS: keep the Big Ten in a seat of power and protect the Rose Bowl. This proposal does both and seems to be a win-win for just about everybody. I think we're moving in the right direction and Delany is finally going with the flow instead of obstructing it.

Having seen how well things worked out for the Pac-12 with an on-campus championship game, I'm in favor of including a home field advantage tie-in no matter what proposal surfaces. The detractors are always worried about the regular season and keeping the bowl system and a plus-one/four-team playoff would make things meaningful during the year and keep the current structure (more Alamo Bowls!) in place. The most interesting thing, to me, will be how long we'll be stuck with the system. It could be a 10-plus year deal--which is interesting if tweaks need to be made in order to ensure a better playoff system.

TF: I would think that the any deal has to be longer than 10 years, just because conferences are going to want to keep things from expanding to 8 teams or 16 teams for as long as possible. Because we all know that as soon as the four-team playoff begins, then so will the "Expand the playoffs!" arguments. 

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:40 pm
 

MWC commish 'open' to Minnesota AD job

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi won't be officially retired until June 30th, but the school would like to have his successor in place before then, and one name that has come up is current Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.

Thompson, who has been the commissioner of the Mountain West since the conference was first formed in 1999, is a Minnesota graduate. He's also said he's open to the idea of returning to the school to run its athletic department.

"But there would be a million questions to learn more about the position," Thompson told the Pioneer Press. "Is there a budget deficit? Is fundraising the issue? Is the focus on rebuilding the football program? Are there academic concerns? Is there a support system to graduate student-athletes? There would be a lot more to know about the needs and wants of the athletic department before you can even think about taking the next step."

While there are plenty of questions for Thompson to ask Minnesota, there are probably just as many questions for him to ask the Mountain West. The first question being, what would Thompson's role be within the conference should it merge with Conference USA?

With the future of the Mountain West being unclear at the moment, this might be the best time for Thompson to make the next move in his career.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 12:37 pm
 

Georgia AD: Auburn rivalry not guaranteed

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Everyone expected difficulties in scheduling an expanded SEC. But we're not sure many expected the kind of difficulties outlined by Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday--the sort that could bring an end to one of the conference's oldest and greatest rivalries.

According to McGarity, the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" between his Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers could be near the end if its 114-year run* as an annual series. When the SEC convenes at the end of February to map out its future schedules, it will have to decide whether or not to maintain the permanent cross-division game that has preserved the Auburn-Georgia meeting since the league's 1992 expansion. 

With only two of the potential seven cross-divisional games constituting traditional rivalries (the "Third Saturday in October" between Alabama and Tennessee is also in jeopardy), McGarity says the leaguewide support for continuing those games may not be there.

“I think if you ask Alabama and Tennessee, like us and Auburn, we’d like to retain the games,” McGarity said. “But does that work? What do the other 10 schools think? Those four schools like having those games but there’s no other East-West match-up that has that piece of history to it. So I don’t where that fits in ...

“With 14 teams, not everybody will be happy. Some will have a problem with everything. But we’ll make decisions based on the best situation of the league.”

Further complicating the issue is that with six intra-divisional games and a permanent cross-division rival, an eight-game SEC schedule would see just one slot devoted to rotating cross-divisional opponents--meaning teams in the East would play their rotating opponents in the West just twice every 12 years. A nine-game schedule would alleviate many of these problems, but both McGarity and SEC officials say there is little interest within the league to add the extra conference game. 

League officials could find a compromise--say, letting Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama continue with their cross-divisional partnerships while other schools rotate, or allowing those four schools to play their rivalry games as a nonconference matchup in years when they aren't scheduled to play within the SEC.

But those suggestions are entirely speculative. The bottom line is that in a 14-team league, there's simply no way to 1. play an eight-game schedule 2. maintain those cross-divisional rivalries 3. have other cross-divisional opponents play more often than a couple of times a decade. It doesn't work.

Which is why -- unless the league changes course on the nine-game scheduling issue -- it's going to continue to find itself wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place. And unfortunately for Auburn and Georgia fans, the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry may well prove to be the cost of getting itself out.

*The game has been played every year since 1898 with the exception of three seasons during World Wars I and II.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 10:14 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 10:43 pm
 

Report: Rutgers-Syracuse could play twice in 2012

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The drama surrounding conference realignment and the Big East conference seems to be revisited on a daily basis with a new wrinkle popping up by the hour. Earlier Wednesday, CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported West Virginia and the conference are close to a settlement worth at least $20 million that would resolve all issues between both parties and allow the school to leave the league.

The Mountaineers are headed to the Big 12 and have insisted they are doing so for the 2012-13 season. The Big East has previously maintained that they will remain a member in the conference so that there will be eight football members this fall but that is something leadership is apparently wavering on.

The latest twist, according to McMurphy, is that both are working together on an agreement that would let West Virginia out of the league with both parties asking around to see if a future conference member could join this year instead of in 2013. Boise State has been a school that some are speculating could be option number one.

What happens if a school can't come to the Big East-to-West in time? Well, it appears the answer is to play two.

According to The Star-Ledger, one contingency for a seven-team league seems to be schools playing a home-and-home in the same season to make up for the lost game with West Virginia. The highly unusual move could have Rutgers and Syracuse playing twice, with the second game in Yankee Stadium. The Scarlet Knights are set to host the Orange this season if the Big East stays with eight schools.

The paper also mentions that Rutgers is close to finalizing a home-and-home deal with Arkansas, starting this fall. Rutgers would travel to Arkansas this year with the Razorbacks returning to Rutgers Stadium in 2013.

All things considered, if the worst case scenario is a Rutgers-Syracuse double-header this season, they should play the second game at a baseball stadium. At least that makes a little sense.

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