Posted on: March 21, 2011 4:40 pm

Tennessee reinstates Brent Brewer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While one person on Tennessee's campus was losing his job on Monday, on the Tennessee football team, a player was getting a second chance. Five weeks after the Vols suspended Brent Brewer following a domestic assault charge in February, head coach Derek Dooley announced on Monday that Brewer had been reinstated to the team.

"He has served a five-week suspension from all team activities," Dooley told the Times Free Press. "There's still some other internal disciplinary measure that are taken. It was a learning lesson for Brent, a learning lesson for all the members of our team (and) it was very unfortunate what happened."

Which is good news for both Brewer and Tennessee, as the team has been without its two starting safeties for the last month. Though the absence of free safety Janzen Jackson has been due to his withdrawing from the school for personal reasons. Dooley also took some time to address Jackson's current situation.

"He seems to be managing his life well right now. (He's) on pace to come back, but that's day to day and month to month."

Posted on: March 14, 2011 4:52 pm

Brandon Willis is officially a Tar Heel, again

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Brandon Willis was originally a member of North Carolina's 2010 recruiting class, but only after originally committing to Tennessee and changing his mind when Lane Kiffin left for USC. After losing his mother while still in high school, Willis' father lost his job and found a new one in southern California. Not wanting to be separated from his father after losing his mother, Willis announced last August that he was leaving North Carolina to transfer to UCLA.

Then, seven days ago, Willis announced he was leaving UCLA. This time his grandmother is ailing, and once again Brandon is on the move. While it's been rumored for a week now, North Carolina made it official with a release on Monday saying that Willis was returning to Chapel Hill.

“Brandon lost his mother in high school and is very close with his grandmother, who lives in Burlington and is battling health issues,” head coach Butch Davis said in a statement. “He and his father wanted to move back to the East coast to be with her.  There were no hard feelings when Brandon originally left and when he inquired about the possibility of returning, we welcomed him back.”

Of course, since Willis transferred last season, he had to sit out the entire 2010 season. Now that he's transferring again, he may have to sit out a second straight year. North Carolina will submit a waiver to the NCAA asking to grant Willis immediate eligibility, and given the nature of his latest transfer, there's a chance that the NCAA will allow it.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:42 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Georgia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Georgia , who begins spring practice today.

Spring Practice Question: Is the Bulldog offense ready to make a push up front?

Entering 2010, the biggest reason Georgia was supposed to be the biggest challenger to two-time defending SEC East champion (and heavy 2010 favorite) Florida was, not coincidentally, their biggest players. Led by veterans like bookend senior tackles Clint Boling and Josh Davis, the Bulldogs boasted the nation's most experienced offensive line . With highly-regarded (and well-compensated) OL coach Stacy Searels leading the unit, the line was believed to be the SEC's best.

Entering 2011, things are very, very different. That line fell far short of the advance hype, with the Bulldogs finishing a disappointing 10th in the SEC in rushing (ahead of only Vanderbilt and Tennessee), doing nothing special in pass protection, and even seeing Searels juggle the lineup late in the year. Though the line wasn't the only problem, it also did precious little to help as Georgia scored 12 points or fewer three times (all losses) and finished a mediocre 56th in the country in total offense. Following the disappointment, Boling, Davis, Trinton Sturdivant (who eventually replaced Davis) and guard Chris Davis all graduated. Searels accepted the same position at Texas. And the advance hype will almost certainly move on to some other team this offseason.

But that doesn't mean it's too late for the Georgia line to get Mark Richt to another SEC title game. For starters, there's still plenty of talent on hand even after the departures, starting with senior center Ben Jones (pictured, a 2009 All-SEC pick before being overlooked last year), 325-pound senior guard Cordy Glenn, and junior guard Kenarious Gates, another player who ascended to the starting lineup late in the year. After seemingly tuning out Searels last year, the Bulldogs will have a new voice in their ears in new coach Will Friend. And maybe most importantly of all, the remaining Bulldogs will have the sting of last year's failures -- rather than an offseason of praise -- fueling them. If Georgia's spring practice shows that the line is enjoying the proverbial addition by subtraction and looks poised to make good on the hype a year late, the rest of the SEC should look out.

Previous Spring Primers
Why? Because if the Dawg line falls into place, everything else on the offense should, too. Aaron Murray was arguably the nation's best freshman quarterback in 2010 and could be the SEC's best signal-caller as a redshirt sophomore. Even with A.J. Green and Kris Durham gone, players like Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, and Rantavious Wooten -- not to mention future NFL tight end Orson Charles -- give the Bulldog receiving corps plenty of potential. And maybe most importantly of all, though he won't be in for spring, incoming tailback recruit Isaiah Crowell could deliver a Marcus Lattimore- like impact for an offense that spent 2010 crying out for a game-changer in the backfield.

Add all of that to a defense that seems certain to improve in the second year of Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme, in a division that's as wide open as any in the SEC's recent memory, and the tools are there for Richt to forge a championship season out of even the miserable ashes of 6-7. But they won't do much good without a huge step forward from the offensive line, and that's where Bulldog fans' primary focus ought to be this spring.

Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:23 am
Edited on: March 4, 2011 9:39 am

Patterson's Favorite Stadiums

Posted by Chip Patterson

In college football, more than any other sport, the stadiums can be just as memorable as the games played within them. So as CBS Sports takes a look at the best stadiums that college football has to offer, the bloggers here at Eye On College Football share their three favorite stadiums in the country.

1. Lane Stadium (Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, capacity 66,233)
Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium/Worsham Field may lack some of the size that the other stadiums on Dodd's rankings, but that does not make them any less of a fearful place to play.  In fact Lane Stadium, particularly at night, is one of the toughest places to play in the ACC.  

For every home game, the goal is to set the tone from the opening kick.  Virginia Tech has already beat you to the punch when you play in Lane Stadium, with their now well-known Enter Sandman entrance.  Having seen the Sandman in person, I can attest to the phenomenon that unites the Hokie fans on Saturdays.  Every Virignia Tech fan can be found jumping up and down and screaming when those opening notes ring through the stadium.  No matter the age or gender, if you bleed maroon and orange you go absolutely nuts when you hear this song.  Very cool, and one of the best intimidation factors in college football.  

A particularly good intro from a rainy night game a few years back via YouTube

2. Memorial Stadium (Clemson, Clemson, SC, capacity 80, 301)
Showing up at number 13 on Dodd's list, Death Valley falls in a close second behind Lane for me, but for very similar reasons.  The Tigers' football tradition often goes overlooked by the national audience, but it runs just as deep as most of the other "football giants" of the South.  When Memorial Stadium is filled with 80,000 rabit Tigers fans, opponents have said it feels like everyone is right on top of you.  It is the second largest in the ACC, and one of the only stadiums in the conference to have that "SEC football" feel.

When the Clemson football team prepares take the field, they hop on buses and are escorted to the site of "The Most Exciting 25 seconds in College Football."  The Clemson will rub Howard's Rock, as they have done since 1967, and then prepare to take the field by running down The Hill, located on the East side of the stadium.  It is unique to any other entrance in the south, and holds a special place in the hearts of Tiger fans everywhere.

Again, via YouTube


3. Neyland Stadium (Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, capactiy 102,455)
Finally, I must include the massive Neyland Stadium from the University of Tennessee.  Dodd placed Neyland at 14, but I think some of the obscurity of recent years (cough, Kiffin, cough) have made us forget how great Neyland can be at times.  As Derek Dooley continues to try and build a new era in Knoxville, I suspect we will recognize more and more the advantage that the Volunteers have at home.

Aside from the sheer size of the eighth largest non-racing stadium on Planet Earth, Neyland also carries a deep historical relevance to Tennessee football.  While the size, shape, and many features of the structure have changed, Neyland still stands in the same place it was first opened in March 1921.  Also, unlike many other 100k+ stadiums, Neyland is located right in the middle of campus.  Easy access for students and alum to turn the game into an entire college football experience.  

Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:04 am

USC, Vols receive NCAA Notice of Allegations

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Lane Kiffin's NCAA chickens appear to be coming home to roost.

Both Kiffin's former employers at Tennessee and his current ones at USC have announced today they have been served with NCAA "Notices of Allegations," essentially the list of violations which the NCAA has discovered during an investigation. That list as it pertains to Volunteer football, via the official Tennessee website :
The notice contains the following allegations of violation of NCAA rules against the football program:
  • By former members of the football coaching staff: impermissible telephone contact (16 total calls) with prospective student-athletes from Jan. 3-9, 2010.
  • By a former assistant football coach: allegations relating to impermissible contacts with prospective student-athletes.
  • By a former head football coach: failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant coaches have also been made against a former head football coach, and permitting a football recruiting intern to make impermissible contact with high school staff during a recruiting visit.
The headlining charge here is the "failure to monitor" violation levied against Kiffin. Though in the past coaches have typically been absolved of blame once they've left their previous university behind, it seems unlikely in this instance, with Kiffin's (well-earned) reputation for ignoring the finer points of NCAA regulations. There may be more forthcoming than the typical slap on the wrist.

As for the Trojans, their Notice of Allegations likely includes the same violations committed by Kiffin (and assistant Ed Orgeron, believed to be the "former assistant" in the second bullet above) in Knoxville. The official statement from athletic director Pat Haden :
"We have received from the NCAA a notice of allegations against Lane Kiffin pertaining to his tenure as the head football coach at Tennessee. The NCAA enforcement process provides for Tennessee and Lane to address those charges. Until that process is completed, it would be unfair and premature for me or USC to comment on this matter.

"However, I will say this: Since his return to USC last year as our head football coach, Lane has been vigilant in making sure he and the football program follow the NCAA's rules and compete the right way. Lane has my support as our head football coach."

Eye on College Football will have more on this story as it develops. Follow our Twitter feed for further updates. 

Posted on: February 18, 2011 12:45 pm

Vols Ben Martin undergoes Achilles surgery

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Well here's some goodish news for Tennessee and a member of its defense. Defensive end Ben Martin had surgery to repair his right Achilles tendon on Wednesday, and the surgery was a success. Which means that Martin has a long, painful rehabilitation in front of him, but he should be able to play in 2011.

In fact, the doctors believe that Martin will be available for the start of the season.

Martin missed the entire 2010 season after injuring his achilles in August on the second day of fall practice. Martin had played in 33 games his first three seasons in Knoxville, including 11 starts, and made 63 tackles with 4.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles. Having Martin back healthy in 2011 would be a boost to a Vols defense that has lost both of its starting safeties in the last few weeks.

Brent Brewer was suspended after being arrested in a domestic dispute, and Janzen Jackson left the school on his own to deal with some personal problems. It's possible that both could be back for the start of next season, but there are no guarantees.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 4:53 pm

Tennessee suspends Brent Brewer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Tennessee is losing safeties at an alarming rate. Last week Janzen Jackson withdrew from school -- though it's entirely possible he'll be back at Tennessee for the fall -- due to personal issues, and on Sunday word came down that Derek Dooley had suspended Brent Brewer from the team. Brewer was arrested over the weekend in a domestic dispute.

"Without knowing all the facts, any domestic incident warrants a suspension from all team-related activities until a thorough investigation is concluded," Dooley said in a statement. "We respect everyone's right to the legal process, but also acknowledge a greater standard of conduct associated with the privilege of being a member of the Tennessee football team."

Brewer was released on $1,500 bond Sunday.

Brewer did not begin his freshman season in Knoxville as a starter, but was inserted halfway through the season, starting alonside Jackson at safety. Now the Vols head into the 2011 season possibly having to replace both of their safeties.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 6:31 pm

NCAA considering 10-second run off rule

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I suppose we could call it the Music City Rule. When Tennessee and North Carolina played in the Music City Bowl, the Tar Heels spiked the ball with one second left on the clock to set up a game-tying field goal. The problem was that the Tar Heels had too many men on the field and were penalized for their transgression.

Though there are plenty of Tennessee fans who don't feel the Heels were penalized enough, as North Carolina would then tie the game and go on to win in double-overtime. Well, here's some news that may come as solace for those Vols fans who were twice vandalized by too many men on the field and too much time on the clock this season. The NCAA is considering adding a 10-second run off rule.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee has recommended that penalties which occur in the last minute of both halves, and stops the game clock, inlude a 10-second runoff of the clock -- just like the NFL does it.
The opponent would have the option to take the penalty yardage with the 10-second rundown, take the penalty without the rundown to preserve the time remaining, or decline both the rundown and the penalty yardage. The clock would restart when the ball is marked ready for play.
"The idea is to prevent a team from gaining an advantage by committing a foul to stop the clock," Rogers Redding, secretary-rules editor of the committee, said in an NCAA news release announcing the proposals.
There are other rule changes in the offing as well. The NCAA is looking to make blocking below the waist illegal unless you're on the line of scrimmage within seven yards of the center -- read: linemen -- or a receiver or running back in certain situations. It'll also now be illegal to line up three defensive players shoulder-to-shoulder over one offensive lineman on placekicks.

The intentional grounding rule may also be amended. Where as it currently sits, a play was deemed intentional grounding if the quarterback's "pass" to his receiver wasn't reasonably catchable. It seems that will be changed to the receiver just needs to be in the "area." What exactly the "area" is, I don't know.

Also, while it isn't a rule change, the NCAA also plans on monitoring the number of helmets that come off during play next season in an effort to see if any changes will need to be made in the future.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com