Tag:Steve Addazio
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 3

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A longtime Floridian told me Friday he couldn't remember the last time the state was the center of college football like it was this past weekend. Sure there have been big games and plenty of teams in championship contention, but it's hard to think of a time when each corner of the state had a big primetime match up. Equally surprising, he said, was that traditional rivalry Florida-Tennessee was only the third most interesting game on the docket.

The spotlight was indeed on the Sunshine State and things couldn't have gone better for the most part. At the northern end, number one Oklahoma rolled into Tallahassee to play Florida State and there were moments when you genuinely stopped and said, "FSU's back." A loss is a loss but the way the Noles played was encouraging.

The storyline coming out the game seems to be all about Big Game Bob Stoops' team getting their first non-conference road victory over a top-five team in over three decades. The Sooners were gritty, responding to scores like a top-ranked and championship team should. Quarterback Landry Jones had several clutch throws and it seemed like linebacker Tom Wort was making every other play on defense. Oklahoma looked the part and survived with a victory.

The key word being survived. Yes their road woes are well documented but the reason the game was close - closer than most thought - was that Florida State looked the part of a top five team as well. For three quarters at least, it was a knockdown, drag out fight between two high profile head coaches. After FSU freshman Rashad Greene caught a beautiful 56 yard touchdown pass to tie the game, Doak Campbell was rocking. As more than one writer said on Twitter, it was partying like it was 1999.

One wonders what might have been had quarterback E.J. Manuel not gotten hurt. Could he have pulled off the upset? Who knows? But the biggest take away was the defense held an explosive, veteran-laden OU offense to just 23 points and showed they are close to having the athletes at every position like they used too when things were rolling. They were kids last year in Norman and it took less than a year for them to grow up into men. The offense still needs some work - especially along the line - but the defense should help carry the Seminoles through ACC play.

Jimbo Fisher has Florida State making waves on the recruiting trail and there are plenty of signs that the on the field product is coming along as well. The next step is winning games like the one on Saturday but, by all indications, that's coming. Party like it's 1999 indeed.

A couple hours down the road in Gainesville, two teams showed they still need work if they're to take the next step. It looked like Florida was going to run away with the game up 30-7 late in the third but the defense seemed to take the foot off the accelerator. For the most part though, the defensive line was active and did a great job of shutting down the Vols' running game. Completely. Florida's defense held Tennessee to just -9 yards on the ground, the third best mark in the country so far. The offense took a hit once receiver Justin Hunter went down but it was the young offensive line that just couldn't handle the pressure Florida was generating.

All-purpose threat Chris Rainey was everywhere Saturday for the Gators' offense. He had 233 all-purpose yards and recorded his fifth career blocked punt. The Gators are still adjusting to Charlie Weis' offense and Will Muschamp's defense but Rainey is a constant playmaker that the team will have to lean on as they get into the thick of the SEC schedule. Is this team in the same class as Alabama or LSU? Not even close. But there's enough there on both sides of the ball to put up a fight with Georgia and South Carolina for the East title.

Further South, some observers would have had no issue with vacating the Ineligibowl. It just wasn't a pretty game. Ohio State was a step slow all night and Miami struggled on offense outside of their scoring drives to open and close the game. Both teams got back several players from NCAA suspension and Miami's certainly made the difference in the game: Jacory Harris was efficient outside of two boneheaded interceptions and linebacker Sean Spence truly transformed the defense into a much stouter unit that was able to apply pressure on nearly every snap.

Sophomore running back Lamar Miller set the tone early with a big run on the first play of the game en his way to a career night that made him the fourth leading rusher in the country at 151.5 yards per game. There's plenty of talent on this team to get nine or so wins but there's still moments when the Hurricanes revert to last year's form and make a boneheaded mistake. It will be curious to see how they use this game as a momentum builder going forward. At full strength and with some confidence, the Hurricanes have a little bit of swagger back.

On the other side, Ohio State is lacking an identity and has to figure out their quarterback position and do so soon. The Buckeyes have no clue about what kind of team they want to be and there could be some doubt amongst the players about head coach Luke Fickell if post game comments are to be believed.

"I felt like me and Jordan (Hall) were doing a great job in the run game, so I felt we should have just come out and ran at them," tailback Carlos Hyde told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We should have manned up and ran straight at them, see if they could stop us."

Also, don't overlook the other game in Miami on Saturday: FIU following up it's big win over Louisville with a solid victory over in-state foe UCF to start 3-0 on the season. Many had pegged the Knights as a possible BCS buster at the beginning of the season so for FIU to knock them off does wonders for a program that was the definition of a rebuilding job just a few years ago. Yes it's a Sun Belt team but with the schedule like it is, don't be surprised if FIU keeps things rolling. The defense recorded six sacks against UCF and did a great job the week before against the Cardinals. Plus they did everything without all-everything star T.Y. Hilton, who missed most of the game with a hamstring injury. Take note, the program in the state with the most upside is the one that's not in a BCS conference.

The state of Florida won't be the center of the college football universe like it was this past weekend for some time. But while it was, it delivered.

Stat of the week

Auburn's win streak was snapped at 17 games by Clemson on Saturday, which was the longest in the nation. It was the 10th longest streak in the past decade and amazingly, 10 of the 17 games were decided by eight points or less. Stanford now has the longest win streak in the country with 11, just two seasons removed from a losing record and five seasons away from the school's 1-11 mark.

Biggest reason why the Tigers' streak ended? They're 117th in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 116th in rush defense, 107th in scoring defense and dead last in the country in third down stops. Yikes.

Other stats of note

- Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege broke the NCAA record for highest completion percentage for 40 or more completions in a game. He completed 40 of 44 against New Mexico for a healthy 90.1 percent clip. He also hit 15 passes in a row at one point, tying a school record on his way to a 401 yard and five touchdown day.

- Kellen Moore's 457 yards of offense against Toledo was third most in the country this year and he averaged nearly 10.39 yards a play. His completion percentage on the season is at a remarkable 78.9 percent.

- With the loss to LSU on Thursday, Dan Mullen fell to 2-10 versus the SEC West as head coach at Mississippi State. Both wins are over rival Ole Miss. While the Bulldogs have been much more competitive under Mullen, they still haven't quite gotten over the hump just yet. He was 8-6 against the West while an assistant at Florida.

- There are beat downs and there's what Missouri did against Western Illinois. The Tigers defense allowed just one first down and 44 total yards on the day while the offense rolled up 744 total yards to set a school record that had been set just after World War II. Tailback Henry Josey ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns, the most in a game this season. The mark was also good enough to move him into sixth place on the national rushing list.

- Of the five players to top 200 yards rushing in a game so far this year, three did so on Saturday (Josey, Marcus Lattimore and LaMichael James).

- Georgia Tech's game against Kansas was pretty amazing to take a look at after the fact. The game delivered the longest run from scrimmage of the season (Orwin Smith went 95 yards for a touchdown), featured two 100 yard rushers and had five players with over 70 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets also piled up a school-record 768 total yards, 604 of them via the running game. The 12.1 yards per rush also set an NCAA record for highest in a game.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly has games with 18, 17 and 23 tackles to lead the nation in that category. His 58 total tackles are 19 more than the next player.

- Jeff Fuller became Texas A&M's all-time receptions leader against Idaho while Cyrus Gray topped the 100 yard mark rushing for the ninth time in a row.

- Via senior writer Bruce Feldman, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has eight touchdowns and just eight incompletions.

Yard-by-yard

- Impressive, impressive comeback by Iowa from down 24-3 in the 3rd quarter to Pitt. James Vanderberg has been a little underrated early in the season in the face of replacing a longtime starter and doing so with plenty of fresh faces around him. The junior quarterback is 31st in the country in passing efficiency and 25th in total offense after Saturday's game in which he had several impressive throws in the second half in route to a 399 yard and three touchdown day. The lack of a running game has to be concerning if you're Kirk Ferentz, especially as the begin Big Ten play in two weeks with a trip to Penn State. A heck of a comeback but it's apparent there's plenty of flaws in the Hawkeyes.

- Why hello there Sammy Watkins. While it has taken some time for the Clemson offense to adjust to Chad Morris' new system, Watkins has been an explosive playmaker for the Tigers they really haven't had since C.J. Spiller left for the NFL. Yes it was against a porous Auburn defense, but this week was Watkins' coming out party to the nation with 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He shows an explosiveness you just can't teach whenever he gets the ball in his hands and was the spark that allowed Clemson to turn things around. A former five-star recruit, he was ranked behind fellow Tiger frosh Charone Peake coming out of high school by Maxpreps which should give you some indication what kind of young nucleus Dabo Swinney has assembled when you add in running back Mike Bellamy and quarterback Tajh Boyd. Speaking of Swinney, he channeled his inner-Howard Dean in his post game remarks on television.

- Al Golden didn't leave the cupboard bare at Temple as the Owls almost beat Penn State for the first time since Joe Paterno started coaching in Happy Valley. Despite giving up the lead late, Steve Addazio's club showed they can play with bigger and stronger team and should have no problem contending for a MAC championship this year.

- Kudos to James Franklin and what he's been able to do with Vanderbilt. After a close, 4th quarter win against defending Big East champ UConn, the Commodores embarrassed Ole Miss on Saturday 30-7. Franklin has really gotten the team and the rest of the community to buy into what he's building there and it's starting to pay off with the team's 3-0 start. Quarterback Larry Smith isn't sharp enough in the passing game yet but the offense is moving the chains on the ground and playing good defense - they're currently 10th in the country in total D. Things will get much tougher as they head on the road to face South Carolina and Alabama but with home games against Army and Kentucky and a date with Wake Forest, bowl eligibility is possible in Franklin's first year.    
 
- It looked like West Virginia finally started to get their rushing attack going against Maryland this weekend. Geno Smith is putting up great numbers from the quarterback position but head coach Dana Holgorsen knows that if the team wants to win the Big East - or beat LSU this week - they're going to have to be able to run the ball. Whether the answer at tailback is Vernard Roberts or Andrew Buie still remains to be seen but it can't just be all Smith, all the time. Tavon Austin is a dynamic threat who adds a few wrinkles but there still needs to be a consistent rushing attack so the defense can't play nickel the entire game. The Mountaineers did have an impressive three players top the 100 yard receiving mark last Saturday though.

- It was not pretty at the Rose Bowl as critics briefly turned their attention from overrating Texas to remarking on how hot UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel's seat is. He's an alum who probably cares more about the program winning than anyone there yet there's been hardly any progress to show for it. The defense was supposed to be much better this year and strength of the team but it was anything but in the blowout loss to the Longhorns. Case McCoy (with a little David Ash mixed in) appears to be the answer for UT at quarterback and freshman tailback Malcolm Brown showed flashes on his way to a 110 yard day.

- I am not a believer in Nebraska's defense after playing Washington last week but they'll still do just enough to make it to the title game in their first year in the Big Ten. Still, the effort against the Huskies had a lot to be desired of a top 10 team.

- After returning from Sun Life Stadium late in the Miami night, I was surprised to find out there was not one, but two football games on and I managed to stay up for Oklahoma State-Tulsa late, late, late into the night. I couldn't believe they kicked off after midnight local time, much less that Brandon Weeden was still throwing to Justin Blackmon late in the fourth quarter - and well past 3 AM Central - with the game well in hand. Mike Gundy is not only a man, he's all in on this Cowboys team it appears. All or nothing, this is the most talented squad since Barry Sanders was in Stillwater and everybody is onboard. Why Gundy still had his stars on the field that late in the game for a blowout continues to baffle me however.

- I thought Navy's offense in the middle of the season always spelled trouble for teams that weren't ready for it - especially those coming off an emotional victory like South Carolina. The Midshipmen had a chance late but ultimately the Gamecocks ended up winning 24-21 thanks to a last minute interception. As one head coach told me, you schedule option offenses early or play them in a bowl game or else you'll end up upset. South Carolina wasn't upset but they nearly were with the way they played.

- I couldn't believe the score when I first saw it but here it was, Utah 54, BYU 10. A week ago in the Coliseum, I saw the dejected faces on the Utes sideline as their rally came up short against USC. I thought it would be another tough battle in the Holy War but the Utes smacked everybody around Saturday. Don't count out Utah as representing the Pac-12 South with USC ineligible for the title game and Arizona State still Arizona State.

- Kudos also go out to Wyoming, who blocked Bowling Green's extra point to win 28-27. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…

Quote of the week

Craig James during LSU-Mississippi State: "You play four quarters in the SEC."

Tweet of the week

Myself following the second ESPN account to feature the word Genocide in place of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Not a bad nickname if he keeps putting up passing numbers in Dana Holgorsen's offense however.

"Company-wide memo about Geno & autocorrect on Monday. RT @McShay13: WVU QB Genocide Smith off to a fast start."

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Fisch's Finest

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. Wisconsin

7. Texas A&M

8. Oklahoma State

9. Florida State

10. Oregon

Where we'll be this week

Tony Barnhart will be at the big Arkansas-Alabama game, Dennis Dodd will be in College Station for the top 10 matchup between Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Brett McMurphy gets another great game this weekend, showing up at LSU-West Virginia Saturday night.

Leaning this way

Arkansas-Alabama: The secondary for Alabama will be flying around and turnovers will doom an explosive Arkansas offense.

Oklahoma State-Texas A&M: The Aggies defense is underrated but this game will still be a shootout. The home crowd will give them the edge in a close one.

LSU vs. West Virginia: LSU's defense is just too much late in the game for Dana Holgorsen's offense to break through.

Across the goal line

I was going to write about conference expansion in this space but figured things would change by the time I finished writing the final paragraph. 


Category: NCAAF
Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Buie, Arizona State, Arkansas, Army, Auburn, Barry Sanders, Baylor, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big East, Big Ten, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Boise State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, BYU, C.J. Spiller, Carlos Hyde, Case McCoy, Chad Morris, Charlie Weis, Charone Peake, Chris Rainey, Clemson, Craig James, Cyrus Gray, Dabo Swinney, Dan Mullen, Dana Holgorsen, David Ash, Dennis Dodd, Doak Campbell, EJ Manuel, FIU, Florida, Florida State, Geno Smith, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Henry Josey, Idaho, Iowa, Jacory Harris, James Franklin, James Vanderberg, Jeff Fuller, Jimbo Fisher, Joe Paterno, Justin Blackmon, Kansas, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, Kirk Ferentz, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Larry Smith, Louisville, LSU, Luke Fickell, Luke Kuechly, MAC, Malcolm Brown, Marcus Lattimore, Maryland, Miami, Mike Bellamy, Mike Gundy, Mississippi State, Missorui, Navy, NCAA, Nebraksa, New Mexico, NFL, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Orwin Smith, Pac-12, Penn State, Pitt, Rashad Greene, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Rose Bowl, Sammy Watkins, Sean Spence, SEC, Seth Doege, South Carolina, Stanford, Steve Addazio, Sun Belt, Sun Life Stadium, Surveying the Field, T.Y. Hilton, Tajh Boyd, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Toldeo, Tom Wort, Tony Barnhart, Travon Austin, Tulsa, UCF, UCLA, UConn, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Vernard Roberts, Wake Forest, Washington, West Virginia, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin, Wyoming
 
Posted on: September 13, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 6:50 pm
 

CBSSports.com Conference Power Rankings: Week 3

Posted by Chip Patterson

Look around you, you can't avoid conference realignment rumors. Local media, message boards, and national insiders everywhere are ruminating on the future of the FBS and how it will look in 2012, 2013, and beyond. But there is a college football season going on in 2011, and these teams can only control 60 minutes of football each week. So taking the current conference shifts out of the picture, we are proud to roll out the first edition of the CBSSports.com Conference Power Rankings.

It was particularly important to preface these rankings with that clarification with the Big 12 sitting right below the mighty SEC at No. 2. While Texas A&M's exit and Oklahoma's Pac-12 flirtation have led some to consider the conference "dead," the 2011 league roster has shown up to play this season. Led by top-ranked Oklahoma, the conference currently boasts five teams in the AP poll with three of them among the top ten.

Every week for the rest of the college football season we'll rank these FBS conferences, taking into consideration their presence in the national rankings, non-conference performances, and depth. The Sun Belt Conference, for example, finds themselves in the cellar of these power rankings despite FIU's upset of Louisville last Friday. That's because outside of the Panthers and Troy, the conference has taken some beatings here in the first two weeks of play.

So without further adieu, the first set of 2011 Conference Power Rankings.

1. SEC - The best until proven otherwise. Five straight BCS National Championships combine with a pair of SEC West giants trading places in the top 3 of early 2011 polls. Alabama and LSU each look worthy of a title game spot at this point, and are joined by five more SEC teams in the current AP Top 25.

2. Big 12 - With Oklahoma leading the way in the polls, other Big 12 schools held their own in non-conference showdowns this past weekend. Oklahoma State gassed Arizona while Iowa State escaped in an overtime thriller over Iowa. Depth will be tested this weekend as Texas looks for revenge against UCLA and Kansas travels to Georgia Tech. Oh yeah, and rumor has it there's a scrimmage in Tallahassee between Oklahoma and Florida State that might be important.

3. Big Ten - Penn State was muted offensively by Alabama in Week 2, but Wisconsin's dismantling of Oregon State gave the conference a new frontrunner on the national scene. Ohio State got a scare from Toledo, but will have the chance to bounce back in a primetime road game against Miami. Big question marks for me among the ranked conference teams here lie with Nebraska and Michigan State, but each will have the opportunity to flex their muscles against some competition in Week 3. Michigan was able to represent the conference in the depth argument, and 2-0 Northwestern hits the road for a test against a winless Army team.

4. Pac-12 - Oregon reminded us how many points they can score, and Andrew Luck did Andrew Luck things in a cross-country visit to Duke in Week 2. USC's sanctions hold no bearing in these rankings, and I expect them to take care of Syracuse at home with very little trouble (though no promises about covering the spread - I know better than that). Arizona State has a chance to boost the standing of the conference with a road test against 2-0 Illinois, and Utah will try to provide some support to the conference's depth with a non-conference battle against BYU.

5. ACC - With only Florida State and Virginia Tech representing them in the rankings, the conference is struggling once again to command national respect. The ACC is looking to erase the stigma of losing on the big stage this weekend, with the Seminoles hosting Oklahoma while Miami welcomes Ohio State to town in South Beach. Maryland also gets a chance to show off their latest uniform combination against a ranked West Virginia team and Clemson will try to knock off Auburn in a rematch of 2010's 23-20 overtime thriller. This is the biggest week of the season for the conference as a whole, and it is imperative they show up on the big stage.

6. Mountain West Conference - With Boise State leading the way, the shifting MWC sits on top of their non-AQ counterparts. TCU was able to bounce back from their season-opening loss to the Baylor RGIII's, and a pair of 2-0 teams (San Diego State and Colorado State) will get a chance to showcase their talent against Pac-12 opponents this weekend. Boise State and TCU can't anchor the entire conference for long, so they will need to show up in these last opportunities against respectable non-conference opponents to hold onto No. 6.

7. Big East - After starting the season 8-0 in the first week of play, the Big East looked unimpressive as a whole in Week 2. Pittsburgh and Syracuse played down to their FCS competition, each escaping with a one-score victory. The eight team conference usually boasts parity as a strength of the league, but when a preseason title contender shows weakness (Pittsburgh) or defending champion drops an early non-conference matchup (Connecticut) the argument falls short.

8. Conference USA - Rice blocked a late field goal to knock off Purdue, Houston kept their high-powered offense rolling, and UCF pulled away late in an impressive 30-3 win over Boston College.  At the same time, Memphis was very - well - Memphis in their 47-3 loss to Arkansas State and Southern Miss looked hardly like a division favorite in their loss to Marshall.  But for a 12-team non-AQ conference being top-heavy is not a terrible thing.  At least you have teams that can contend on a national stage to represent the league.

9. MAC - Temple is fielding one of their best teams in recent years, and head coach Steve Addazio will get a chance to show their full potential against Penn State. I also like what we've seen from Toledo and Ball State did upset Indiana in the opening week of play before falling 37-7 to a very talented South Florida team.

10. WAC - The depleted WAC can't quite hold their own in rankings like these without their former heavy-hitters. Nevada hasn't quite gotten back on track offensively since losing Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua, and Fresno State has looked out of sync in a challenging start to the schedule.  However New Mexico State will have a chance to give the conference some depth this weekend. After knocking off MInnesota on Saturday the Aggies will host the UTEP Miners of Conference USA on Saturday.

10. Sun Belt - As I mentioned earlier, outside of FIU and Troy the performances have not been very impressive out of the Sun Belt. That does not, and will not, change the powerful grassroots #Hilton4Heisman campaign for all-purpose threat T.Y. Hilton. The Panthers' wide receiver is averaging 275.5 all-purpose yards per game and outside of the farewell tour for FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger is the story in this conference.

Check back in to the Eye On College Football next week for the updated edition of the Conference Power Rankings.

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Big Ten not spending enough on assistants?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

By now, anyone who follows college football has seen enough "BREAKING: Football coaches somehow earn lots of money in billion-dollar enterprise" headlines to last us a lifetime. So at a glance, this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article -- "Assistant coaches' salaries soar in college football" -- doesn't appear to be one we haven't read plenty of times before.

But there's one highly interesting nugget from the Post-Dispatch's math that's worth paying closer attention to:
The SEC paid its assistant coaches an average of $276,122 in 2010, according to figures compiled by St. Louis attorney and agent Bob Lattinville of the firm Stinson Morrison Hecker.
The Big 12 was second at $232,685 and the Big Ten a distant fourth, behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, at $187,055. In each instance, the averages do not include salaries at private schools such as Baylor, Penn State and Vanderbilt.
It's no surprise to see the conferences of Gus Malzahn and the Manny Diaz-Bryan Harsin tag team topping the list, but ... the Big Ten? Fourth? Really?

They may not actually be a distant fourth, in fact -- Penn State probably pays better than the likes of Indiana, and Lattinville's salary-based figures don't appear to take into account Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's unusually structured $750,000 contract -- but it's baffling why the conference that distributes more money to its members than any other in the FBS should lag so badly behind anyone in coaching salaries. Some of that is Big Ten schools' insistence on spening their cash on crazy ideas like, say, men's soccer teams, but it's hard to see why the conference's highest-profile sport should be getting the short end of a stick this lucrative.

It's so hard, in fact, we won't speculate on the reasons. But we don't have any problem stating this for the record: the Big Ten's stinginess is hurting it on the football field.

Contrast the decisions from some of the SEC's and Big Ten's best assistants from 2010. Malzahn was offered the head coaching job at Vandy and had some interest (at least) from Maryland; he turned them both down when Auburn stepped up with its gigantic raise. In the end, the only SEC coordinator to take a head coaching job this offseason was Steve Addazio, who'd basically been dumped out of his Florida gig already.

Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Don Treadwell was busy guiding Michigan State into the national top 20 in yards per-play, winning multiple games as MSU's interim head coach during Mark Dantonio's health-related absence, and generally being the nation's most underpaid assistant as the Spartans won 11 games. He left East Lansing to take the head coaching job at Miami (Ohio). Dave Doeren capped years of outstanding work at Wisconsin by coordinating the defense that took the Badgers back to the Rose Bowl (and nearly won it); he left to become Jerry Kill's replacement at Northern Illinois. (PSU's Tom Bradley, one of Joe Paterno's longest tenured-assistants, also did some serious angling for the Temple job that went to Addazio, you'll recall.)

It's not just retention that's a problem, either. How much better would Michigan have been under Rich Rodriguez* if they'd made Jeff Casteel a Mattison-like offer-he-couldn't-refuse to tag along from West Virginia, instead of subjecting themselves to Greg "GERG" Robinson? Would Tim Brewster still be around if he'd been able to hire one legitimately great offensive coordinator instead of subjecting Adam Weber and Co. to a revolving door of schemes? Even the newcomers aren't immune--it's yet-to-be-determined, but one has to wonder if Nebraska couldn't have done better in replacing exiled OC Shawn Watson than promoting running backs coach Tim Beck (especially considering the Huskers' head coach's expertise is on the defensive side of the ball).

As the Post-Dispatch article points out, it's not like the conference has to look very far to see the value of paying top dollar for assistants. After a miserable 2009, Ron Zook was thisclose to being fired at Illinois. So he went out and hired two top-shelf coordinators at salaries commensurate with the SEC's; in fact, one of them (Bobby Petrino brother Paul Petrino) was an SEC coordinator. Result: a job-saving 7-6 campaign and, in 2011, likely the program's first back-to-back winning seasons in 20 years.

It feels awfully awkward to tell anyone to follow Ron Zook's example. But when it comes to assistant salaries, it's high time the Big Ten at-large did exactly that.

*Rodriguez actually got the defensive coordinating hire right the first time, when he plucked away current Syracuse DC Scott Shafer from Stanford; Shafer's been a success everywhere else he's been, and his work with the Orange last year--the only team in the country to finish in the top 20 in total defense while also finishing in the bottom 20 in time-of-possession--was nothing short of remarkable. But RichRod and Shafer didn't appear to see eye-to-eye, and in came Robinson after just one season. You'll forgive Wolverine fans if they spend the rest of the afternoon banging their heads against the closest wall.


Posted on: July 5, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Temple recruits: Move to Big East coming soon

Posted by Chip Patterson

July 1 marked the first day in the house for recent conference jumpers like Utah and Nebraska. As the conferences continue to realign, eyes continue to turn to the 8-team Big East. With TCU arriving in 2012 and the negotiation of a new media deal on the horizon, it is assumed that the conference will be making more moves in the near future to increase membership. Jason Brewer, of SB Nation Philly, pulled together some interesting quotes from Temple recruits that suggest the Owls rumored move back into the Big East could come as soon as after this season.

First came quotes earlier from Temple Football Forever, which included TE Tanner Kearns sharing his excitement for the potential to play in Lincoln Financial Field and "knows" the Owls "plan on moving to the Big East soon." The father of Temple commit CB Tavon Young took it a step further, stating his son will be close to home and "in the Big East in 2012." Add those quotes to the recent statements from LB Michael Kalaman and TE Jameson McShea and you've got to assume that there there is something going on behind the scenes in Philadelphia.

Temple spent 14 years in the Big East before their departure in the exodus of 2003-2004. Since then current Miami head coach Al Golden worked to rebuild the program from within the MAC, bringing the Owls their first postseason appearance in 30 years in 2009. After his departure to the Hurricanes, the hiring of Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has helped continue the momentum that Golden started in Philadelphia.

But Temple is not the only team that has been discussed in possible Big East expansion. The conference nearly gave one bid away to Villanova before discussions took a turn in another direction, many believe that UCF is a football powerhouse in the making that could benefit the conference geographic balance, and recently the addition of Army and Navy has been discussed. I doubt that Temple's staff would be outright lying to recruits, so they at least have some reason to believe that Temple's invitation to the BCS ranks could be coming in time to join along with TCU.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy that there is no "best model" for Big East expansion, but there is certainly an end date. By September 2012, the conference needs to be set in their membership in order to capitalize on the negotiation of a new media deal when their current one with ESPN expires. ESPN has already made moves to try and begin those talks, but the conference still has some moves to make before they are comfortable presenting their future product. Temple's potential addition would bring the conference to ten teams heading into the 2012 season, but what would that mean for their Philadelphia brethren Villanova? The Wildcats, already a member of the conference in every sport but football and women's lacrosse, would be one of the easier additions logistically. If the Big East brings in both schools to the football conference, that leaves only one spot left to finish with the magical 12-team count needed to hold a conference championship game. With UCF, Army, Navy, Houston, and East Carolina all likely interested in making the jump, someone is going to get left out. Again.

With all of the other five conferences securing new media deals in the last couple years, the Big East gets to be the prettiest girl at the dance for the next several months. Sure, the schools left aren't exactly the lighting up the BCS standings (only UCF and Houston have ever been ranked); but there is still a lot of potential value for a conference looking to make a statement on the national scene.


Posted on: May 14, 2011 1:59 pm
 

Todd Graham all for renewing Pitt-PSU rivalry

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Some rivalries in college football are born from the competition on the field between two schools over time, while others stem simply from geographical roots. For over a century there was a rivalry that featured both between Pitt and Penn State. The schools competed against each other 96 times over a 107-year span, but have not met on a football field since the turn of the century in 2000. Some say it's because both schools shed their independent status as Pitt became a member of the Big East (via the Eastern 8 and Atlantic 10) while Penn State entered the Big Ten, and there just wasn't the room to fit each other into their schedules. Others will say Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is just angry that Pitt wasn't interested in Paterno's idea of creating a conference with eastern teams in the early 1980s.

Whatever the reason for it, the fact is that the schools just don't play anymore, which is a shame since the rivalry made so much sense. Well, at least one of the school's head coaches would like to see that change. New Pitt head coach Todd Graham joined Joe Paterno -- along with new Temple head coach Steve Addazio -- to talk to the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association on Friday, and after the meeting said he'd love to see the rivalry renewed.

"I can remember watching that game growing up and the tremendous tradition that that game was, and we would actually love to play that game in the future," Graham told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "It would be something that we'd be very much in favor of." 

Now, while Paterno was in attendance, Graham made it very clear that he had yet to speak to Paterno about the idea, so he wasn't sure what Paterno's feelings on the idea were. The media in attendance never had a chance to ask Paterno either, as he left without speaking to reporters.

Personally I don't see this happening while Joe Paterno is still at Penn State. The fact is that if Paterno wanted to play Pitt, Penn State would be playing Pitt. The fact that the two schools haven't met in over a decade should tell you everything you need to know about Paterno's level of desire to renew the rivalry. 

Hat Tip: CFT

Posted on: March 16, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Florida

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 Florida , who starts spring practice today.

Spring Practice Question: What's going to be drawn on the blank slate of the Florida offense?

As spring practice 2011 opens, there may be no single unit in the entire country more intriguing than the Florida offense.

It's true. Consider that just three years ago it was the envy of college football, an unstoppable force led by the Heisman-winning Tim Tebow, featuring the most explosive receiving/rushing playmaker in the college game in Percy Harvin, drawn up and play-called by one of the best spread-option gurus in the nation in Dan Mullen, positively littered with future successful pros like Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Hernandez ... it was the kind of offense custom-built to win a national championship, and it did. And then two seasons later, in the hands of Steve Addazio,  it was a crumbling heap that finished an unthinkable 82nd in total offense. That was an offense built to go 7-5, and it did, too.

So it's hardly surprising Will Muschamp decided to scrap the entire thing and start over. It's maybe somewhat surprising, though, he'd start over with something he's familiar with but Florida hasn't run in ages: a true two-back, under-center, pro-style system as run by the newly-contented Charlie Weis.

The result of that decision is that what we know about the new Gator offense is dwarfed by what we don't, the questions at this stage far outnumbering the answers. A sampling:

Is Weis's offense going to incorporate anything left over from the Meyer era? It's not what Weis knows or what Muschamp hired him for, so don't expect much different from Weis's offenses at Notre Dame or the Kansas City Chiefs. But with a collection of personnel recruited for (and in many cases, much better-suited) the Meyer spread, there must be the temptation to include certain elements of the old scheme here and there. We'll see if Weis gives in to that temptation this spring.

Can John Brantley's career be salvaged? If there's any former Meyer recruit who might have been happy to see the offense overhauled, it would have to be the pass-first Brantley, who was asked by Addazio to fill many of the running-game holes Tebow did without only the tiniest fraction of the success. Weis's system could make Brantley a star, but whatever offense he's running, Brantley will have to be substantially more poised this spring if he's going to hold off a challenge from early-enrolled freshman Jeff Driskel.

What happens to the heirs to Harvin? What success the Gator offense had in 2010 was frequently the result of getting the ball to Jeff Demps, the diminutive sprinter who took several handoffs the distance. But a pro-style tailback job doesn't typically go to backs of Demps's (or fellow veteran blazer Chris Rainey's) size, and Demps's history of nagging injuries won't help him convince Weis and Muschamp he or Rainey will be ready to be an every-down back. With one of those injuries sidelining Demps for at least the start of spring, the larger Mike Gillislee or Mack Brown may be able to stake their claim to the position.

Will the offensive line bounce back? Much of the disappointment of 2010 started with the disappointing play up front, as a veteran line began its year with Mike Pouncey memorably dribbling snaps back to Brantley in the season opener and never seemed to truly recover. Now the Gators enter spring with a new line coach brought in from the NFL in Frank Verducci, and just one healthy 2010 starter available. But the competition for open spots and fresh voice following the departure of Addazio could lead to better results all the same.

Will any playmakers step up in the receiving positions? Yes, the receivers were a problem last year too, as the entire corps of wideouts and tight ends totaled just eight touchdown receptions and as a team the Gators averaged barely more than 10 yards a completion. Deonte Thompson led the way by netting 15 yards per-catch and 570 yards total; a big spring should establish him as the team's clearcut No. 1 and a potential All-SEC candidate. But it will also be worth watching Jordan Reed and Trey Burton, top-drawer athletes who moonlighted as Wildcat quarterbacks a year ago and have been shifted into starting roles as a tight end and slot receiver, respectively. If Thompson's ready to take the next step and Weis can find the best way to put Reed and Burton to use, the Gators could come out of spring with plenty of optimism regarding their receiving corps.

With so many questions, it seems unlikely Florida will find the right answers to all of them. But with so many potential answers at virtually any position you choose, whatever Weis and Muschamp cook up, it promises to be fascinating viewing ... and at the least, a good bit more effective than the not-even-close-to-fascinating viewing the Gators offered last season.


Posted on: March 15, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Florida clears up its QB logjam

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The quarterback position was a bit confusing in Gainesville last season. John Brantley was the starting quarterback for the Gators last season, but to be honest, he didn't really fit the position in the team's spread offense. While Brantley has an arm, he's not exactly the dual-threat you look for in a quarterback in such an offense. Which is why Trey Burton and Jordan Reed also spent some time at the position, in what was a three-headed monster that seemed to spend more time biting the Gators than the opposition.

Well, now that Urban Meyer has moved into a studio, and Steve Addazio is gone, Will Muschamp has brought in Charlie Weis and a brand new offense. Now, with spring practice nearing, the Gators are making some room at the quarterback position. While John Brantley is still atop the team's depth chart, neither Burton or Reed will find their names listed under QB, as they've both been moved. Reed is listed as a tight end and Burton is at fullback, though he'll play other positions.

Which makes you think that the road has been cleared for Brantley to win the job, but he still has plenty of competition. Along with rising sophomore Tyler Murphy, there are the two members of Florida's latest recruiting class to contend with in Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Driskel is currently third on the depth chart, and could challenge Brantley in camp.

Will Muschamp said on Monday that while Brantley would seem to have an advantage over the rest due to his experience, the depth chart right now is just a starting point. Nobody is locked in to any position.

Still, I'd imagine that Brantley will wind up winning the job. He's better suited for the pro-style offense that Charlie Weis will be running in Gainesville than the one he ran under Meyer and Addazio.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Addazio goes back to Gator well for Temple OC

Photo by Jerry Hinnen

If a coaching staff was good enough for Florida, you'd expect it to be good enough -- more than good enough -- for a MAC program like Temple. And now thanks to new Owl boss Steve Addazio, it appears we're going to be able to put that expectation through a rigorous real-life testing process.

You already know that Addazio himself was the Gators' offensive line coach and, in 2009 and 2010, offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Not long ago Addazio was able to hire former Gator secondary coach, recruiting coordinator, and eventual co-defensive coordinator Chuck Heater as the Owls' new DC. And per the Twitter feed of Temple Rivals affiliate OwlScoop , now a third member of the Meyer staff will be making his way to Philadelphia: Gators quarterback coach Scot Loeffler.

Loeffler will be taking over as the Owls' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and like Heater, the Gators' 2010 struggles shouldn't obscure the fact that Loeffler is stunningly overqualified to be working at a tradition-starved MAC team like Temple. Loeffler spent several high-profile years as the quarterbacks coach at Michigan, helping turn players like John Navarre and Chad Henne into All-Big Ten stars, before spending one season as the Detroit Lions QB coach. He then went to Gainesville with the endorsement of Tim Tebow , where he spent the past two seasons.

Loeffler hasn't yet been a full-time play-caller, but all the same, for Addazio to bring a coach with high-profile experience in the NFL and at two of the nation's premier programs to Temple is -- on paper -- quite the coup. If the Owls' Gator guys can enjoy half as much success at Temple as they had in Gainesville, the hiring of Addazio -- questioned far and wide after his disastrous stint as the Gators' OC -- is going to look far smarter than nearly anyone imagined.

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