Posted on: February 8, 2011 8:36 pm

Haden supportive of Kiffin despite new allegation

Posted by Bryan Fischer

USC athletic director Pat Haden threw his full support behind embattled head coach Lane Kiffin in the wake of a recent report saying he would be named in an NCAA violations case at Tennessee.

AOL Fanhouse reported last Wednesday that Kiffin would be cited for a failure to monitor violation arising from his time as head coach of the Volunteers. Kiffin’s brother-in-law David Reeves, who was an assistant on staff, will reportedly be cited for improper contact with recruits.

“I read the report and I know he can’t comment on it,” Haden said. “I can’t really ask a lot about it because it happened at Tennessee. Right now it really is not a USC issue.

“What I know of Lane Kiffin is he’s been more than compliant with everything we ask. He is doing the right thing and we’ll see how this report turns out, how the investigation goes, what the results are, I just have no idea what’s going to happen. All I know is our (case) took a long time and I don’t know how long this will take.”

The violations stemmed from a group of school hostesses who allegedly made improper contact with several recruits, with Reaves reportedly instructing the hostesses on how to contact the recruits. It was one of several alleged violations committed by Tennessee during Kiffin’s short tenure at the school. Despite the run-ins with the NCAA at his previous school, Haden believes Kiffin is doing everything by the letter of the law at USC.

“I did not hire Lane but in my seven months, he has been very positive in terms of compliance,” Haden said. “The reputation and reality of Lane Kiffin are two entirely different things. I understand what his reputation is but the reality that I’ve dealt with is not that reputation.”

USC was placed on four years of probation by the NCAA for violations stemming from a lack of institutional control following an investigation centered on the school's football and men’s basketball programs. The school is currently appealing several of the sanctions placed on the football team but Haden did not think the recent news would have any effect on the appeal.

“I sure hope not,” he said. “Those are two separate cases and it should not, that’s the Tennessee case. The way these play out, I would expect we’ll hear from the Appeals Committee long before the Tennessee situation is taken care of.

Haden spoke to reporters following a six hour summit designed to discuss issues related to agent awareness and education. Representatives of the Pac-10, SEC, NCAA, NFL and NFL Players Association were in attendance.

Posted on: February 7, 2011 7:24 pm

Janzen Jackson withdraws from Tennessee

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While Derek Dooley and Tennessee had a nice finish to the 2010 season, one that will bring a bit more optimism to Knoxville heading into 2011, the Vols got some bad news on Monday. Safety Janzen Jackson, who missed Tennessee's loss to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl due to personal reasons, has withdrawn from the school.

“Janzen continues to battle personal issues of which our program is always going to be very supportive of,” Dooley said. “His withdrawal from school has nothing to do with disciplinary reasons on the football team and everything to do with a continuing battle of deep personal issues, of which we’re very supportive of.

“His leaving for bowl practice was not a punishment, and as long as he continues to manage his personal issues and football and school, he’s going to be welcomed back in the program. He’s clearly reached a point where the personal issues have become much greater than his ability to manage workouts and school.

“Until he gets a little clarity on those issues, we’re going to support him.”

While Jackson is going to miss spring practice, there is a possibility he'll be able to return for the fall if he can get everything taken care of. If not, though, then Dooley and the Vols will be heading into the new season without one of their most talented players. If he isn't the best player on the roster.
Posted on: February 4, 2011 5:04 pm

College football sets attendance record in 2010

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Turns out that this college football stuff is pretty popular. The NCAA issued a release today to let everyone know that more people attended college football games this season than any other season in the history of the world. During the season, 49,670,895 fans made their way through the turnstiles and to their seats to watch a game this season.

Which is good news for the sport, because after routinely setting attendance marks from 2006-08, the sport saw a dip in attendance in 2009. While some may say that it's because people were more willing to spend money on entertainment again following a bad year economically, personally I'm of the opinion that it has to do with the emergence of this blog. Just look at the facts.

In 2009 attendance drops, and there is no Eye on College Football blog on CBSSports.com. In 2010 the blog debuts, and all of a sudden attendance increases across the country. It's a pretty open and shut case if you ask me.

As for which schools held the top spots, it's the usual suspects. Michigan topped everybody -- generic Big House joke goes here -- with an average of 111,825 fans a game, and Big Blue was followed by Ohio State (105,278), Penn State (104,234), Alabama (101,821) and Texas (100,654). Now, while the top three spots were all claimed by Big Ten schools, the SEC claimed every spot from 6 through 10 with Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, Florida and Auburn.

So it would seem that college football is popular in the Big Ten, SEC and the state of Texas. Who knew?
Posted on: January 31, 2011 12:19 pm
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Posted on: January 31, 2011 12:18 pm

Big Ten spending shows Wolverines lagging

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

magazine writer Kristi Dosh has continued a series on college football spending that started with the SEC with a closer look at the Big Ten's revenues and profits , and though some of her findings and conclusions aren't surprising -- Ohio State spends more on football than any other member of the league, the average SEC team generates more revenue and spends more money than the average Big Ten team, etc. -- some of them are legitimately eyebrow-raising.

Perhaps the most intriguing number is the difference between the revenue generated by the Michigan  football program and how much the university re-invests in those same Wolverines. These are the figures for how much gross revenue each Big Ten team creates:
Penn State Univ. $70,208,584.00
Ohio State Univ. $63,750,000.00
Univ. of Michigan $63,189,417.00
Univ. of Iowa $45,854,764.00
Michigan State Univ. $44,462,659.00
Univ. of Wisconsin $38,662,971.00
Univ. of Minnesota $32,322,688.00
Univ. of Illinois $25,301,783.00
Northwestern Univ. $22,704,959.00
Indiana Univ. $21,783,185.00
Purdue Univ. $18,118,898.00
And here's how much each team spends:
Ohio State Univ. $31,763,036.00
Univ. of Wisconsin $22,041,491.00
Penn State Univ. $19,780,939.00
Univ. of Iowa $18,468,732.00
Univ. of Michigan $18,328,233.00
Michigan State Univ. $17,468,458.00
Univ. of Minnesota $17,433,699.00
Northwestern Univ. $15,733,548.00
Indiana Univ. $12,822,779.00
Purdue Univ. $11,821,265.00
Univ. of Illinois $11,092,122.00
Note that when it comes to revenue, Michigan is a solid No. 3, only narrowly behind their rivals in Columbus and nearly $18 million ahead of fourth-place Iowa. But when it comes to expenses, Michigan drops back to No. 5, and a distant No. 5 at that; they spend less than 60 percent of what the league-leading Buckeyes do, and despite their massive revenue advantage barely outspend even their in-state enemies at Michigan State.

Contrast the Wolverines' approach with that of Wisconsin. The Badgers come in just sixth in the league in revenue, but (as Dosh points out) reinvest an incredible 57 percent of that money back into the football program, a number that exceeds even the percentages in the SEC and puts the Badgers' raw investment well ahead of not only Michigan but even revenue leaders Penn State. It's hard to argue the Badgers aren't getting a return on that investment, either, when they've posted nine or more wins six of the past seven years and are coming off of a surprise Rose Bowl appearance.

Michigan's troubles go deeper than just spending money, of course, and it has to be pointed out that there are institution-wide advantages to hogging so much of the football team's revenue as (the Big Ten's second-largest pile of) profit; the athletic department sponsors a wide variety of varsity sports programs (no, there's no scholarship field hockey at, say, Tennessee) and does so without financial support from the university.

But if the Wolverines are serious about competing for not only conference championships against the likes of the Buckeyes but Rose Bowl championships against the likes of Oregon or USC, or national titles against the likes of the Big 12 or SEC, they're going to have to start putting more of their football money to use in football (particularly in the area of coaching salaries ). Greg Mattison is a nice start, but he's only a start.

(One other note worth noting: thanks to the Big Ten Network, a revenue stream that according to Dosh's figures falls outside of the football-only numbers, the average Big Ten athletic department remains more profitable overall than the average SEC athletic department by some $2.5 million. The Big Ten has the money to spend. They just spend more of it, it appears, on things that aren't football.)
Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:26 pm

The most exciting football is at UAB, the Big Ten

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Auburn Tigers played in a lot of close, exciting games this season. The Tigers win over Oregon in the national championship game was no different than their affairs against Alabama, Clemson, Kentucky, LSU or South Carolina. They had the most dynamic player in college football in Cam Newton as well. All in all, they were a very fun and exciting team to watch.

But were they the most exciting team in all of college football in 2010? I guess that depends on your perspective, but according to one website that ranks teams based on how exciting they are, Auburn wasn't even the most exciting team in the state of Alabama.
It’s actually the University of Alabama-Birmingham, which finished the season with a 4-8 record. Auburn, which won all 14 of its games actually finished second, according to Thuuz.com, a company that sends alerts to fans in real time based on how exciting a game is.
The company averaged the excitement rankings from the games of 92 of the 120 FBS schools and came up with some pretty interesting findings. The excitement meter ranges from 0-100 and doesn’t take into account the records or the fan following.
Yes, that's right, UAB was the most exciting team in college football this season. A 4-8 team. I'm not sure how the website ranks these things, but UAB did play in some close games. The Blazers played in two double-overtime games, played in another two games that were decided by a point and lost two others by five points. The only UAB game I saw this season was against Tennessee, and I'll admit, seeing the Blazers nearly shock the Vols in Neyland Stadium was rather exciting.

The top five teams were UAB, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Michigan and East Carolina.

Of course, teams are one thing. No college football fan is content knowing that just his team is better. He needs to know where is conference ranks. So where did the mighty SEC finish in excitement? It was the fifth most exciting conference in college football. The only thing that could make that fact worse for SEC fans is the next sentence.

The Big Ten was ranked as the most exciting conference in college football.

I know, I know. Just keep in mind the excitement factor isn't based on style of play as much as close games.
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: January 11, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 3:18 pm

What I learned from the SEC: Bowl Edition

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. The SEC is still the best conference in college football.  Yes, the conference may have only gone 5-5 in bowl games this season, and it may have included a couple losses against a Conference USA team and a Big East team, but here is the stat that actually mattered: for the fifth straight year, the national champion calls the SEC home.  Oh, and let's not just ignore the fact that a twelve team league had ten teams playing in bowl games to begin with.  Fans of other conferences around the country may have been hoping the conference would get knocked down a peg this postseason, but prepare yourselves for plenty more "ESSSS  EEEEEEE SEEEEEE" chants in 2011.

2. The 2010 season belonged to Cam Newton and Auburn.  Whether the headlines were good or bad this season, the college football world seemed to revolve around a tiny town in eastern Alabama and the quarterback that caught a nation's eye.  It's somewhat fitting that on the final drive of the season, the one that gave Auburn its national championship, the one player who put the team on his back for most of the season had to play a secondary role thanks to being banged up.  For once, Cam Newton 's defense and his offense decided to carry him to the finish line.  We don't know for sure what Cam Newton's future will hold, but odds are that Newton is bound for the NFL.  How will Auburn fare next season without its Superman?

3. Alabama is still really good .  Honestly, if college football did have a playoff system in place of the bowls, would any of you have been shocked to see Alabama make it to another title game?  The Tide suffered three losses this season.  They came at the hands of South Carolina , LSU and Auburn .  When the worst loss of your season is against the SEC East champion, you didn't have a bad season.  Then the Tide went out and put an exclamation point on the year by pasting Michigan State -- a team with one loss and ranked in the top ten -- by 42 points.

4. The SEC East should be better next season.  While the SEC may have gone 5-5 as a whole during the bowl season, the SEC East was responsible for four of those losses.  The good news for the division is that things should improve a bit next year, as Georgia and Tennessee aren't likely to suffer two losing seasons in a row, South Carolina will still have Marcus Lattimore and won't have Stephen Garcia , and Florida might actually have an offensive system suited for its quarterback.  Well, if John Brantley stays.  Plus, with all the key players that Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas and LSU will be losing to the NFL this spring, the West shouldn't be nearly as dominant.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com