Tag:Ole Miss
Posted on: January 19, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Ok St. loses assistant Brewer to Ole Miss

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A major part of Oklahoma State's rampant offensive success the past several seasons has been head coach Mike Gundy's keen eye for spotting offensive-minded coaching talent. But after losing yet another offensive assistant to another program, it might be time to ask: has Gundy's eye been too keen for the Cowboys' own good?

Former Poke play-caller Larry Fedora was hired as Southern Miss's head coach. Fedora's one-time co-offensive coordinator Trooper Taylor just won a national title as Auburn's receivers coach. Dana Holgorsen spent just one brilliant season in Stillwater before agreeing to become West Virginia's head coach after a one-year apprenticeship. And as of today, Gundy's most recent receivers coach (and his 2008-2009 co-coordinator), Gunter Brewer, has also flown the coop; he's following his father's footsteps to Ole Miss.

As Kyle Veazey of the Clarion-Ledger reports, it sounds like Brewer was just waiting for the right time to come back to same school where his father, Billy Brewer, once served as head coach:

“It’s good to always be coming home,” Brewer said. “So I’m looking forward to the journey. Done some outstanding things at Oklahoma State, and I hope to carry that over to Ole Miss and just expand on that.”

Brewer said he always tried to stay in touch with Ole Miss over the years to see if the timing would be right for an opportunity to join the Rebel staff. “When the opportunity arose, (Houston Nutt ) asked if I might be interested,” Brewer said. “And he was wanting to look at some things offensively that we’ve had success here at Oklahoma State and other places."

In this particular case, it's not that that success was what yanked Brewer out of Stillwater; without his family ties to Oxford, it seems clear he'd still be on Gundy's staff. Then again, it's also clear that if he hadn't put together the kind of resume under Gundy he did -- Brewer was the position coach for All-Americans like Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon -- Nutt wouldn't have bothere reciprocating Brewer's interest in the first place.

At some point, the Cowboys have to wonder just what it takes to keep their offensive staff intact for more than a year. (With T. Boone Pickens footing the bill, you wouldn't think salaries would be an issue.) The price of success is always high, but for whatever reason, it's seemed particularly steep at Oklahoma State.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Headset Reset: reviewing hires in C-USA, Sun Belt

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.



Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 3:20 pm
 

5 Up: Potential 2011 sleeper teams

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason Top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).

So earlier today we named five that are in his Top 25 that might slip out or could otherwise disappoint, and right now we'll name five more teams we think can crack that Top 25 next season. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Baylor - The good news for Baylor: dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III is back along with most of the offense, and while he loses starting tailback Jay Finley to graduation, Finley's backups Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi provide an intriguing balance of power and speed -- they both return. In addition, RG3 gets his top five receivers back (all of whom caught at least 40 passes this year), and three-year starting lineman Philip Baker will be the anchor at center for a mostly intact offensive line. Yes, Baylor still looks wretched at times on defense (53 points to Oklahoma and 55 to Oklahoma State aren't exactly solid efforts), so there's no telling whether the Bears' losses on that side of the ball are addition by subtraction or not, but one thing's for sure: there'll be points put up in Waco in 2011.

2. Illinois - This spot would likely go to fellow "Leader" Penn State if it weren't for the fact that PSU's replacing Evan Royster, two leading receivers, its two best offensive linemen, and there's really no telling who's starting at QB in 2011. Oh, and most of the Penn State defense -- including two of three starting LBs -- is graduating too. Contrast that with Illinois , who found a star quarterback in freshman Nathan Scheelhaase this year and returns four of five starting offensive linemen. The Illini won't miss early declarant Mikel LeShoure much with Jason Ford (who's basically a human truck) waiting to take over at tailback. The defense will definitely miss Martez Wilson and Corey Liuget on the interior, on the other hand; those guys were anchors of a stout rushing defense and their backups are unremarkable. Still, Illinois' 2011 schedule looks primed for some upsets, and nine wins is hardly out of the question. If Wilson and Liuget were returning, Illinois would probably be in Dodd's Top 25, but it's not as if no borderline-Top 25 team has ever exceeded expectations after losing two juniors to the NFL.

3. Utah - Everything's going to come crashing down once Utah joins a "real" conference, right? Maybe not. If QB Jordan Wynn recovers from December shoulder surgery in time for the season (which he should, but six months of rehab can turn into nine without the patient doing anything wrong), he'll be a third-year starter with a reasonable set of returning players. Senior wideout/returner Shaky Smithson is sure to be missed, but this is college football; so it goes. And while Utah's schedule looks daunting, it really could be worse; the Utes miss both Oregon and Stanford in inter-divisional play, and neither BYU nor Pitt should be as tough of matchups as they'd have been over the past couple years. In addition, the schedule's pretty top-heavy, and it's easily possible that Utah wins at least five of six down the stretch. Head coach Kyle Whittingham keeps proving predictions wrong by not bolting for a paycheck elsewhere, and now he's got a chance to lead his Utes into battle in a real conference and destroy the "mid-major" label that's been dogging the program -- even through multiple BCS bowl wins! -- once and for all.

4. Oregon State - Meanwhile, in the Pac-12 North, the Oregon State Beavers have a chance to make noise. Yes, Oregon and Stanford are the class of the division and should remain so for the near future, but don't sleep on the passing skills of QB Ryan Katz , especially now that he'll have his first full season as a starter under his belt. With the game slowing down for him and with Markus Wheaton and James Rodgers both returning at WR (to say nothing of Joe Halahuni coming back at TE), Katz should be able to more effectively use his NFL-caliber arm to put some points up in Corvallis. The offense will miss Jacquizz Rodgers desperately, and while deserved, his jump to the NFL will likely cost the Beavers a win or two. So while the defense struggled in 2010 and stands to lose several seniors, it may not matter in a Pac-12 with several struggling offenses and an OSU attack that should set 30+ points per game as a goal. Scheduling a road date at Wisconsin might not have been the wisest idea, though. Still, look for a push from Oregon State to hit that eight-win mark, which against a schedule like this could mean a spot in the Top 25 when it's all said and done.

5. Tennessee - Dodd ranks eight SEC teams in his Top 25 (26, really, but whatever). We're not sure all will end up ranked at the end of the 2011 season, but one thing seems clear: of the four teams he left out -- Kentucky , Ole Miss , Tennessee , and Vanderbilt -- Tennessee's the closest thing to a contender of the four. No, the SEC East shouldn't spend its entire season on fire like last year, where South Carolina took the division trophy in a five-loss season, but Florida 's going to be experiencing major upheaval and Georgia will be missing A.J. Green (again). With Tyler Bray coming off a successful freshman campaign and returning starting RB Tauren Poole and deep threat wideout Justin Hunter , we could see the Vols make some noise. On defense, the only major loss is leading tackler Nick Reveiz ; Herman Lathers made strides along with the rest of the defense down the stretch, and the secondary returns intact. If there's ever a time to make a run in the East, it's -- well, okay, it was 2010. 2011's not a bad opportunity for the Vols either, though.



Posted on: December 22, 2010 6:56 pm
 

Assistant salaries: Who's overpaid? Underpaid?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After earlier compiling a database of all 120 FBS head coaching salaries for the recently completed 2010 season, USA Today today released a look at the salaries of the nation's assistant coaches, all 907 of which are available for comparison here . Your highest-paid assistant: Texas ex-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp at $900,000 per year. The lowest amongst coaches actually drawing a paycheck? Leon Lett -- you remember him ! -- who's being paid just $12,000 to coach defensive tackles at Louisiana-Monroe.

Inbetween on the scale are some 900 other coaches (not counting those working at private institutions whose salaries are not public information). Ignoring certain obvious choices (yes, Greg Davis was overpaid, yes, Dana Holgorsen was a bargain), looking only at 2010 results, and making allowances for coaches in their first year at a new school, here's three choices for the country's most underpaid and most overpaid assistant coaches:

MOST DUE FOR A RAISE

Don Treadwell ($235,250), offensive coordinator, Michigan State.
Despite possessing few playmakers known to fans outside the Midwest, Treadwell guided the Spartans to a top-20 finish in yards per-play and offered his team an enivable balance with better than 2,000 yards rushing and 2,800 passing. He also took over for two games as interim head coach while Mark Dantonio dealt with a heart ailment, winning both. And he did all this for the cost of less than many SEC position coaches.

Jeff Casteel ($372,268), defensive coordinator, West Virginia. Casteel's not doing too badly for himself, salary-wise, but compared to what his fellow DCs are earning in the SEC, Big 12, etc., he's still a bargain. With virtually no nationally-recognized players and few star recruits, Casteel quietly put together the nation's third-ranked unit in total defense and third in scoring defense; the Mountaineers were the only defense in the country to allow 21 points or fewer in every game.

Tom Osborne ($220,000), special teams/tight ends coach, Oregon. Osborne put together arguably the best set of special teams units in the country, leading the Ducks to top 20 finishes in net punting and kickoff coverage, coaxing a 12-of-16 performance from his two kickers, and along with returner Cliff Harris creating the most dangerous punt return unit in the nation, one that racked up better than 18 yards per return and scored five game-changing touchdowns. The Ducks probably aren't in the national title game without him.

Honorable Mention: Manny Diaz ($260,000), defensive coordinator, Mississippi State; Pete Kwiatkowski ($259,520), defensive coordinator, Boise State; Al Borges ($205,000), offensive coordinator, San Diego State.

MOST DUE TO NOT RECEIVE A RAISE

Norm Chow ($640,000), offensive coordinator, UCLA.
That figure includes a $250,000 retention bonus designed to keep Chow in Los Angeles, but maybe the Bruins would have been better off being spared paying the nation's eighth-highest assistant's salary for the nation's 109th-best offense.

Tyrone Nix ($500,000), defensive coordinator, Ole Miss. For Nix's salary, the Rebels could have had Gus Malzahn, who earned the exact same amount this season from Auburn. Malzahn will earn quite a bit more next year, obviously, but Nix won't after overseeing a defense that utterly collapsed in the embarrassing season-opening loss to Jacksonville State and went on to finish 105th in yards allowed per-play.

Stacy Searels ($301,200), offensive line coach, Georgia. Offensive line coaches do very well in the SEC, with several topping the $300,000 mark. If we ignore the low-hanging fruit that was Steve Addazio's season in Gainesville, none had a more disappointing season than Searels, whose Bulldog charges looked to have the makings of one of the nation's strongest ground games at the close of 2009 and entered 2010 with as much experience (and talent, arguably) as any line in the country. Instead the Dawgs finished 10th in the SEC in rushing and middle-of-the-pack in sacks allowed (despite ranking 9th in passes attempted) as Searels wound up forced to juggle his lineup late in the year. Searels has done outstanding work before and likely will again, but 2010 wasn't his best moment.

Dishonorable Mention: Chuck Long and Carl Torbush ($350,000 each), offensive and defensive coordinators, Kansas ; Nick Holt ($650,000), defensive coordinator, Washington; Greg Robinson ($277,100), defensive coordinator, Michigan.
Posted on: December 3, 2010 1:15 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2010 1:19 pm
 

Slive, SEC sued by alleged cowbell assault victim

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC has probably had a lot of things in mind when it decided to allow cowbells into Mississippi State' s Davis-Wade Stadium (and, before this season, to mostly look the other way when it came to cowbell enforcement): allowing the Bulldogs to hold on to a long-held tradition that is specifically theirs; creating a unique atmosphere both for the fans in attendance and TV microphones; throwing a member school a bone in the interest of keeping all their proverbial ducks in a row.

Not on the list: getting your commissioner sued when a State fan uses a cowbell to knock another fan unconscious. But hey, turns out that's where we are :
The suit, filed late last month in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages from the SEC and commissioner Mike Slive because it says the league had a “knowing refusal” to enforce its own rule on artificial noisemakers that dated to 1974.

In the suit, William Matthew Brasher alleges that Brent Vowell knocked him unconscious with the bell [at the annual Ole Miss- Miss. St. Egg Bowl ], causing a four-inch laceration that required staples and resulted in “a concussion, memory loss, mental and emotional distress and anguish, depression, paranoia, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life and inability to pursue prior educational and professional goals,” according to the complaint ...

“If the SEC had taken the steps necessary to enforce its rule prohibiting artificial noisemakers, including cowbells, Mr. Brasher would not have been attacked with a cowbell," the complaint reads.
Maybe. But this is an SEC stadium the day of a heated in-state rivalry game. If it hadn't been a cowbell, it would have been a flask or a stadium seat or, if you're in a luxury suite, a nice chair or even a buffet table.

Which is why until the SEC successfully bans "rage" from their stadiums, the lawsuit's not going to have much impact in the future of the State cowbells. But we still wouldn't expect to see Slive ringing one himself anytime soon.

HT: The Wiz .
Posted on: November 29, 2010 10:52 am
 

Take Houston Nutt rumors with a beach of salt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Wherever there are head coaching openings in college football and wild unsubstantiated rumors about who will fill them, there will always be one name whose presence in those rumors and frequency of being "connected" to those jobs rises above all others: Houston Nutt .

Ever since his move from Boise State to Arkansas in 1998, Nutt has been linked with every conceviable opening, from a laundry list of SEC gigs to the Dallas Cowboys head coach to President Obama's "health care czar." (Only made up that last one, by the way; rumor had it before the Wade Phillips hire that since Jerry Jones is an Arkansas alum and enjoyed Nutt's time in charge of the Razorbacks, he would turn his franchise over to a guy with no NFL experience whatsoever that most of the pro football media have never even heard of.)

The reason for this is simple, and bears the name Jimmy Sexton . The most influential agent in the SEC, bar-none, one of Sexton's favorite longtime ploys for leverage has been to float rumors in the press that his clients could leave for other destinations, then using the apparent "interest" to help wrangle his client a new contract extension. This is exactly what Sexton ought to be doing, since it's a strategy that works and works well; when Auburn was in the market for a new coach after Tommy Tuberville 's departure in 2008 (a Sexton client who himself had reportedly been interetsed in jobs at Texas A&M, Arkansas, Miami, etc. over they ears), reports flew fast and furious that Nutt was the Tigers' top choice, and within a handful of days the Rebels had given Nutt an extension and a raise despite the fact that there's little evidence Auburn ever considered Nutt at all.

So when you read the now widespread "report" that Nutt has already accepted the Colorado job , remember that no one is better at conjuring "Nutt to new position X" stories out of thin air than Sexton.  (Especially when no one with a shred of credibility is lending the rumor any legs , Nutt himself included.) Admittedly, quotes like this one ...
Nutt added the intrigue when he was asked after the game what sort of items he wants to address after the season. “There’s a few things,” he said. “I’m going to get into that Sunday. I just — I want to talk to my team first before they read it. I want them to hear it first.”
... don't exactly help the "nothing to see here" argument, but it seems substantially more likely that Nutt's referring to staffing changes (maybe the dismissal of under-fire defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix ?) than any kind of change in his own job status.

Besides, a quote like that ensures Nutt can stay in the headlines for another couple of news cycles. No doubt Sexton is smiling somewhere over that.

HT: TSK .

Posted on: November 22, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: November 22, 2010 11:33 am
 

Georgia-Boise St. game alters 8 other schedules

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Lost somewhat in the excitement over Georgia agreeing to play Boise State in the annual Chick-Fil-A-Kickoff game next season was the fact that both the Bulldogs and Broncos already had opponents scheduled to open the 2011 season: Louisville in Georgia's case, and Ole Miss in Boise's.

That's where the ripples from the Georgia-Boise rock thrown into the puddle of college football scheduling start, but they radiate out much, much further from there, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes by listing the incredible eight teams whose 2011 slates have already been altered to accomodate the matchup:
Georgia, Boise State, Louisville (dropped from Georgia’s schedule), North Carolina (added to Louisville’s schedule to replace Georgia), James Madison (switching dates on North Carolina’s schedule to accommodate the UNC-Louisville game), Ole Miss (moved a scheduled 2011 season opener against Boise State to 2014), BYU (replaced Boise on Ole Miss’ 2011 schedule) and Oregon State (changed dates on BYU’s schedule to accommodate the BYU-Ole Miss game).
This isn't to say that several of these teams aren't happy with the changes; Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone called delaying his school's meeting with the Broncos until 2014 so it could be that year's Chick-Fil-A Kickoff "a dream come true."

But still: maneuvering this many moving pieces into place just for one high-profile made-for-TV game should tell you how much weight ESPN currently has to throw around in college football's sphere of influence. And with the WWL somewhat fortunate the Beavers could switch dates so easily and keep the daisy-chain at only eight teams, it begs the question: at what point do teams start putting their foot down and telling television that some things aren't worth the money being thrown at them? Is there such a point?

Judging by the number of dominoes knocked over to bring together Georgia and Boise, ESPN's going to find out if there is sometime soon.



Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:42 pm
 

What I Learned from the SEC (Nov. 20)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. South Carolina learned its lesson. The last time Carolina won a game as big as last week's SEC East-clinching victory over Florida , they had downed No. 1 Alabama before going out the following week and laying their biggest egg of the season against Kentucky . Now, sure, the Gamecocks got a lot of help early on from a Troy team that for some reason played like a nervous team with lots to lose rather than the massive underdog with nothing to lose they were. But the previously-hapless Gamecock secondary held a statistically potent Trojan passing attack entirely in check, the Marcus Lattimore -led offense ruthlessly punished every Troy mistake, and by halftime it was already 56-7, 'Cocks . Not only did Carolina avoid the letdown, but they looked ready to give Auburn all they want and more when the SEC championship game rolls around in two weeks.

2. It's time to put the defense-first image of the SEC to bed for good. Maybe the SEC really is home to better athletes, maybe they really do hire better coaches, maybe they take defense more seriously than some other conferences ... but none of that, even if true, is making a lick of difference on the field at the moment. This week gave us only four games between SEC teams and FBS competition, and those four games produced 268 total points (in regulation) and as average score of 42-25. And that 's with Tennessee and Vanderbilt battling to a low-fi 24-10 Volunteer win, and the conference's best offense and ninth-ranked defense at Auburn taking the week off.

You get the point: very few teams in this league are playing defense. When even the consensus best unit in the league -- LSU's entered the weekend No. 1 in total defense at 274 yards per-game -- is getting gashed for 36 points and 420 yards at home against the conference's No. 5 offense, the SEC's image as a collection of grind-it-out attacks and impregnable defenses is officially as current as Bob Dole . If SEC fans want to argue their conference is superior, fine. If they want to argue their conference is superior because of the SEC's brand of defense, they need to acquire a clue.

3. LSU should be an underdog going to Arkansas. Full kudos to Les Miles for exorcising his clock management demons , but it's the Hogs who appear to be playing the better football at the moment after surviving what might have been Mississippi State 's best performance of the season on the road in Starkville while the previously stout LSU defense was busy getting gashed by the up-and-down Rebels. If Masoli and Co. can do that in Baton Rouge, what can Ryan Mallett and the suddenly scorching-hot Knile Davis do in Fayetteville?

(And while we're playing the transitive property game, the latest compelling evidence of how much stronger the West is than the East? The Razorbacks went to the East champion three weeks ago and rolled to an easy win. Then they went to the fifth-place team in the West tonight and were fortunate to escape with a double-overtime win.)

4. This Tyler Bray kid might just be one worth watching. Not that you'd expect it from his taste in tattoos , but the skinny kid from California has taken to SEC football like a duck to some very forgiving water. No, the pass defenses of South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt aren't the most intimidating the conference has to offer. But after another productive outing in Nashville (16-of-27, 232 yards, 8.6 yards-per-attempt, 2 touchdowns), Bray has collected some seriously impressive numbers in his last three league performances: 43-of-76 (57 percent completion rate), 714 yards (9.4 YPA), 7 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.

And he's a true freshman. If Derek Dooley can keep his head on straight and his brittle-looking body remains intact, Bray should be one of the SEC's best in due time ... and maybe as soon as 2011. (As for 2010,the Vols are one win against Kentucky away from scraping their way to a bowl berth. Not bad considering they stood at 2-6 not so long ago.)


 
 
 
 
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