Tag:Tennessee
Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:12 pm
 

Kiffin blames youth for conflict with Meyer

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Urban Meyer isn't making a lot of friends in his new digs in the Big Ten, which makes it all the more ironic that he's on better terms than ever with his old SEC archenemy, Lane Kiffin.

Meyer told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd recently that he and Kiffin "have conversations" and that each has apologized to the other over their conduct while at Florida and Tennessee, respectively. Those conversations were confirmed by Kiffin in a Tuesday interview with the Atlanta Jornal-Constitutionin which Kiffin blamed his behavior -- including smack talk aimed in Meyer's direction over the recruitment of Nu'Keese Richardson -- on the impetuousness of youth (emphasis added):

“Yeah, I’m glad Urban and I are where we are in our relationship. When you’re young, you make some mistakes. We’ve moved forward from that. Who would’ve guessed we are back at battling each other for recruits even though we’re a long ways away? I have tremendous respect for what Urban Meyer does.”

We'll take this opportunity to remind readers that Kiffin made his remarks about Richardson ("I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him") three whole years ago, when Kiffin was a mere 33 years of age--far from the grizzled, world-weary 36-year old he is now. 

But snark aside, even if Kiffin isn't actually that much older than he was during his Volunteer tenure, his relationship with Meyer seems to show that he has gotten more mature. Which is not to say he's lost any of his talent for clever remarks in front of a microphone, saying of the Vols' notorious loss to Kentucky (and his reputation among Vol fans),  "I’m sure somebody somewhere blamed me for that."

A Lane Kiffin with all of his old coaching acumen and overall shrewdness, but without the petty childish distractions and torrent of secondary violations? Maybe that doesn't have a lot to do with USC's likely preseason No. 2 ranking ... but it's sure not hurting, either.

Kiffin's Trojans will start spring practice March 6. See when your team starts their camp or plays their spring game with our handy database of spring dates 

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 5:49 pm
 

2012 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff: 2 games in 2 days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We've known since September 2010 that the 2012 edition of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game would be the annual event's first doubleheader, one matching up Auburn and Clemson in one game and Tennessee and North Carolina State in the other. But Thursday saw the organizers reveal that for the first time, the Kickoff will become a two-day event, one matching up the Volunteers and Wolfpack on Friday, Aug. 31, and the Tigers and other Tigers Saturday, Sept. 1.

“When we created the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game with ESPN, our goal was to kick off the season in a special and memorable way,” Chick-Fil-A Bowl president and CEO Gary Stokan said in a statement. “With these two games, and these four teams and their fan bases, this is going to be a colossal weekend of football in Atlanta – like nothing you have ever seen before.”

While we don't begrudge Stokan or the athletic directors quoted in the statement their excitement over "the first-ever double hosting of marquee, BCS-style games on back-to-back days in the same venue," we also won't begrudge any neutral fans their lack of excitement over games that -- frankly -- don't quite live up to that "BCS-style" billing. Clemson may have won the ACC last season, but none of the other three participants won more than 7 regular season games, with the Vols' 5-7 mark a particular disappointment. (That billboard-worthy Orange Bowl drubbing at the hands of West Virginia even took a bit of the shine off of Clemson's 2011, too.) There's also the little detail that Auburn and Clemson doesn't exactly qualify as an exotic nonconference matchup any longer, not with the two teams having played each of the last two seasons and three of the past five. 

We won't argue with Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips when he calls the Auburn-Clemson tilt "one of the national highlights of the opening weekend of college football." But compared to past games like Alabama-Clemson in 2008 or Georgia-Boise State in 2011, we're forced to point out the 2012 Kickoff isn't quite that kind of highlight, either.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2012 2:58 pm
 

Spring Practice Dates

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Hard to believe but it is indeed time for Spring Practice to begin. It was not too long ago that Alabama hoisted up the crystal ball in New Orleans but as of now, all 120 FBS teams are equal with a 0-0 record and only themselves to face. Here's a list of notable dates for every school this spring and, as they become available on the blog, links to Spring Practice Primers (click here to see them all). Be sure and check out Dennis Dodd's preseason top 25 as well.

Spring Practice Dates
ACC First Practice Spring Game
Boston College February 18
Spring Primer 
March 31
Clemson March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Duke February 22
Spring Primer 
March 31
Florida State March 19
Spring Primer 
April 14
Georgia Tech March 26 April 20
Maryland March 10
Spring Primer 
April 21
Miami March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
North Carolina March 14
Spring Primer 
April 14
N.C. State March 23 April 21
Virginia March 19
Spring Primer 
April 14
Virginia Tech March 28 April 21
Wake Forest March 1
Spring Primer 
April 14
Big East First Practice Spring Game
Cincinnati March 1
Spring Primer 
April 14
Louisville March 21 April 14
Pittsburgh March 15
Spring Primer 
April 14
Rutgers March 27 April 28
Syracuse March 20
Spring Primer 
April 21
Connecticut March 20
Spring Primer 
April 21
South Florida March 21 April 2, April 9
Big Ten First Practice Spring Game
Illinois March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Indiana March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
Iowa March 24 April 14
Michigan March 17 April 14
Michigan State March 27 April 28
Minnesota March 24 April 21
Nebraska March 10
Spring Primer 
April 14
Northwestern March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
Ohio State March 28 April 21
Penn State March 26 April 21
Purdue March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Wisconsin March 22 April 28
Big 12 First Practice Spring Game
Baylor March 19 April 14
Iowa State March 20 April 14
Kansas March 27 April 28
Kansas State April 4 April 28
Oklahoma March 5
Spring Primer 
April 14
Oklahoma State March 12 April 21
TCU February 25
Spring Primer 
April 5
Texas February 23
Spring Primer
April 1
Texas Tech February 17
Spring Primer
March 24
West Virginia March 11 April 21
Pac-12 First Practice Spring Game
Arizona March 5
Spring Primer 
April 14
Arizona State March 13 April 21
California March 13 None
Colorado March 10
Spring Primer 
April 14
Oregon April 3 April 28
Oregon State April 3 April 28
Stanford March 27
Spring Primer
April 14
UCLA April 3 May 5
USC March 6 April 14
Utah March 21 April 21
Washington April 2 April 28
Washington State March 22 April 21
SEC First Practice Spring Game
Alabama March 9
Spring Primer 
April 14
Arkansas March 14 April 21
Auburn March 21 April 14
Florida
March 14 April 7
Georgia March 20 April 14
Kentucky March 21 April 21
LSU March 1
Spring Primer 
March 31
Mississippi State March 21 April 20
Ole Miss March 23 April 21
Missouri March 6
Spring Primer 
April 14
South Carolina March 12 April 14
Tennessee March 26 April 21
Texas A&M March 31 April 28
Vanderbilt March 16 April 14
Others First Practice Spring Game
Notre Dame March 21 April 21
Boise State March 12
Spring Primer 
April 14
BYU March 5 March 30
Air Force February 24 None
Army February 13 March 9
Navy March 19 April 14

Posted on: February 15, 2012 10:22 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 12:33 am
 

Tee Martin joining USC staff as WR coach

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Maybe if this whole football thing doesn't work out for Matt Barkley he can give journalism a try. The USC quarterback broke some news on Wednesday night by tweeting that Tee Martin was joining USC's staff as wide receivers coach.

News that CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman was able to confirm on Wednesday night.

Tee Martin had spent the last two seasons in the same position at Kentucky, though he was also promoted to passing game coordinator before last season. Martin had been a popular target among coaching staffs across the SEC for his ability as a coach and his recruiting ability as well.

Though most college football fans likely remember Martin as the quarterback of the 1998 Tennessee team that won its first national championship in 47 years.

Now, ironically enough, Martin leaves Kentucky, a rival of Tennessee's, to take a job at USC. The same USC that lured Lane Kiffin away from Tennessee. A move that didn't exactly make Kiffin a popular name in Knoxville.

So next time Martin is in Knoxville, he might want to have that championship ring on display for self-defense.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:14 pm
 

Roundtable: College football valentines

Posted by Eye on College Football



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

It's Valentine's Day, so pick someone or something from college football--person, team, conference, whatever. Who should they be sending a valentine to today, and what does that valentine say?

Bryan FischerI think the athletic directors at Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington and Washington State should be sending a Valentine to Larry Scott this year. The Pac-12 commissioner unveiled his Pac-12 Network studios just yesterday, and that's appropriate considering the media deals he negotiated were the biggest reason those schools were able to off the sweetheart deals that landed their new coaches. Do you think the Bruins or Huskies could have afforded the assistant salaries before that money started flowing? Or that Wazzu was able to land a coach like Mike Leach? I don't think they do.

I'm guessing their valentine says something to the affect of, "Thank$ Larry for everything, hope you'll be our Valentine for several more years."

Tom Fornelli:  I'm going to say TCU and West Virginia owe Missouri and Texas A&M a valentine this year, one with some expensively-licensed cartoon character saying "Thanks for the sloppy seconds!" If not for those two leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, then both TCU and WVU are stuck in the Big East for 2012 at least--a Big East that's without a clear future at the moment, and seems en route to becoming Conference USA version 2.0.

Instead the Frogs and Mountaineers have joined the Big 12, which is in much better shape than the Big East and will provide far more money for both schools in the long run.

Jerry Hinnen: If I'm Mike Slive, I'm sending out a valentine to Dana Holgorsen -- or maybe Gus Malzahn, or Mike Leach, or Todd Monken -- saying "WILL YOU BE MINE?" festooned with as many hearts (and dollar signs) as it takes to convince them to try their hand (again, in Malzahn's case) in the SEC. There's no doubting the SEC's dominance on the defensive side of the ball or its overall array of talent, but the 2011 season also showed a league in dire need of an infusion of offensive ingenuity, preferably (for variety's sake) out of the spread school. Alabama's yawn-inducing strangulation of LSU in the BCS title game is Exhibit A for the conference's current cloud-of-dust tendencies, but the overall statistical picture is even more damning: six different SEC teams finished in the bottom 25 in the FBS in total offense, with zero finishing in the FBS top 25. (Arkansas ranked highest at 29th.) 

Some of that is good defense; an awful lot of it is terrible offense, too. And it may get worse before it gets better--look at the likes of former offensive juggernauts Florida and Auburn, currently undergoing dramatic offensive regime changes after regressing badly in 2011.

Defense may win championships, but offense often wins TV ratings, as the BCS championship Nielsens will tell you. The SEC's current regular season ratings are fine, of course, but Slive is about to go back to the negotiating table to try and keep his TV contract up with the Joneses of the Big Ten and Pac-12, a table to which he'll want to bring every single positive for his league he can gets his hands on. The SEC will be a-OK with or without the Big 12's reputation for high-flying offensive theatrics, but that doesn't mean Slive -- and a league full of fans likely tiring of watching Tennessee and South Carolina combine for 17 points and barely more than 500 yards in nationally televised prime-time -- wouldn't welcome someone who could shake up the conference's burgeoning reputation for Slugfest-with-a-capital-S football. Kevin Sumlin gets first crack, but we're guessing Slive would prefer he had some high-profile help sooner rather than later.

Chip Patterson: If I'm Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, I'm sending roses, candy, banners, and thankful notes to new head coach Urban Meyer.  Even with an ill-timed bowl ban from the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Meyer has cooled much of the heat on Smith after the fallout surrounding Jim Tressel's departure.  Winning cures all, but hiring a two-time national champion to supposedly guide your program out of the darkness will certainly hold the Buckeye fans over until the bowl ban is lifted.  Meyer hit the recruiting trail hard after his hire, pulling in a top-5 recruiting class despite the sanctions from the NCAA.  

If Smith had whiffed on his hire to replace Tressel, he would find himself under further scrutiny with the additional sanctions.  Meyer is exactly the home run hire Ohio State -- and Gene Smith -- needed.  In fact, a valentine might not be enough.  Maybe Smith should get a tattoo. 

What? Too soon? 

Posted on: February 14, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 9:44 am
 

New Tennessee weight room features MMA cage

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



It's Valentine's Day, so what do you get for the new college practice facility that's already got everything? If you're Derek Dooley and Tennessee, you get it a mixed martial arts fighting cage.

That's not an exaggeration or a typo; among the many details revealed regarding the Volunteers' new $45 million practice facility during the Knoxville News-Sentinel's Dooley-guided tour is that the Vols will be able to sharpen their MMA moves against each other from the comfort of their own weight room. From the News-Sentinel story: 

Players will be able to walk straight from the 120-yard practice field into the new weight room — a 22,000 square foot "multilevel thunderdome of power," as it's called in UT's promotional video for the facility. Along with the standard free weights, machines, cardiovascular training equipment — which will be situated on a deck that overlooks the weight room — and a nutrition bar, it will feature a mixed martial arts cage "so we can go in and fight and all that stuff," Dooley said.

The important details for Vol fans are all covered in the story -- the facility will open in July, feature a "Peyton Manning Room" that will document and celebrate the Volunteers' "tradition in winning," and, yes, should be more than state-of-the-art enough to give Dooley's recruiting efforts a boost -- but it's that paragraph we keep coming back to. So many questions need answering:

1. So Dooley not only isn't forbidding his players from fooling around with amateur martial arts combat, he's actively encouraging it within the walls of his own practice facility? Apparently, unless there's some hidden disapproval we can't find when he says the cage is there for them to "fight and all that stuff." 

2. What happens if a player is injured in the cage? We have no idea, but if it happens, the fallout should be ... interesting.

3. Was this Dooley's own personal idea? The News-Sentinel reported that Dooley asked for a number of changes to the facility's plans upon his hire in 2010, some of which "initially rubbed prominent donor Charles Anderson, who pledged $8 million toward the project, the wrong way." Not that Dooley shouldn't have had a major say in the final construction (it being his future offices, after all), but the image of him poring over blueprints and asking Anderson "But where's the mixed martial arts cage?" is one we find irresistible.

4. The "multilevel thunderdome of power"?!? It appears, to coin a phrase, you can separate the program from Lane Kiffin ... but you cannot separate the Lane Kiffin from the program.

Of course, the only question that matters for Dooley is whether or not the facility -- MMA cage and all -- is going to help him win the games he needs to keep his job, and from here it appears that answer is soundly in the affirmative. And if one of the defensive linemen can pick up a bit of additional footwork while grappling with a teammate in his downtime, so much the better.


HT: Dr. Saturday. For more Tennessee football, follow our CBSSports.com Volunteer RapidReports.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 12:37 pm
 

Georgia AD: Auburn rivalry not guaranteed

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:26 pm
 

SEC East coordinator hires: thumbs up or down?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all 28 positions now filled, here's one team-by-team assessment of where the SEC stands at the two most important assistant coaching positions. Yesterday, the West. Today, the East:

FLORIDA

2011: Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator, Dan Quinn defensive.

Departures: Weis famously left for the Kansas head coaching position.

2012: Weis has been replaced by Boise State coordinator Brent Pease.

Thumbs up/down? TBD. Weis had his moments (offensively speaking, anyway) at Notre Dame, but they nearly all came via the arms of Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen and the Irish's cadre of top-notch receivers--making him a terrible fit for both Will Muschamp's visions of an Alabama-like ground game and the Gators' pass-poor personnel. On paper, replicating the Broncos' balanced mix-and-match approach should be a much snugger fit. But Pease arrives with just one season of play-calling experience under his belt, and at that a season in which Boise ran the ball much more poorly than they had in recent years (34th in average yards per-carry, down from 10th in both 2009 and 2010). And thanks in large part to iffy quarterback play, Texas's 2011 attempt to import the Boise offense (via Pease predecessor Bryan Harsin) hardly set the world on fire--an ill omen for a team whose current QBs, sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, looked out of their depth as freshmen. Pease has promise, but the jury is very much out.

GEORGIA

2011: Mike Bobo offensive, Todd Grantham defensive.

Departures: Status quo.

Thumbs up/down? Up, obviously. Bobo managed the offense as well as could be expected given the injury-struck units at running back and receiver, and Grantham came into his own as one of the SEC's hottest coordinating commodities after piloting his young Dawgs to a top-five finish in total D. Richt has no reason to consider change at either slot.

KENTUCKY

2011: Randy Sanders offensive, Rick Minter and Steve Brown defensive.

Departures: Brown was fired after the 'Cats finished 10th in the SEC and 58th nationally.

2012: Minter has been promoted to full defensive coordinator.

Thumbs up/down? Down. Despite Brown's dismissal, Minter's role as play-caller and lead defensive game-planner means that Joker Phillips is keeping things almost entirely status quo--the entire 2011 offensive coaching staff will return, for instance, even after the hapless 'Cats finished a miserable 118th nationally in total offense and 117th in scoring. Phillips' loyalty to Sanders and the rest of his staff is admirable (and the upset of Tennessee was undoubtedly sweet), but if those kinds of numbers aren't enough to cause a shakeup, what would be?

MISSOURI

2011: David Yost offensive, David Steckel defensive.

Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Up. These are the Daves Gary Pinkel knows, and after several productive seasons in Columbia (if not spectacular where 2011 was concerned), there's no reason to make a change before testing their mettle in the SEC.

SOUTH CAROLINA

2011: Steve Spurrier is his own OC; Ellis Johnson ran the defense.

Departures: Johnson took the head coaching position at Southern Miss. 

2012: Spurrier promoted defensive backs coach (and "defensive coordinator" in title only) Lorenzo Ward to replace Johnson.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively up. Ward spent three years leaning Johnson's schemes and already assisted with a similar 4-2-5 approach during his time at Virginia Tech; his promotion means the already successful Gamecock defense (fourth in FBS total D in 2011) won't change much -- if any -- from a schematic standpoint. The only question is if Ward can reproduce Johnson's adept in-game adjustments (see the Gamecocks' second-half shutdown of Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl) and excellent situational play-calling. If he can even come close, the Gamecock D shouldn't miss too many beats.

TENNESSEE

2011: Jim Chaney offensive, Justin Wilcox defensive.

Departures: Wilcox took the same position at Washington.

2012: Wilcox has been replaced by Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri.

Thumbs up/down? TBD. The Sunseri hire alone would get a thumbs-up, since it's doubtful the Vols could have done much better than the man who just helped put together one of college football's all-time great defenses--not to mention was widely believed to be being groomed to replace Kirby Smart when the current Tide DC finally takes a head job. While it's hardly guaranteed Sunseri can replicate the Tide defense in Knoxville any more than Pease can replicate the Boise offense in Gainesville, there's no arguing with attempting that replication after what the Crimson Tide D has accomplished of late. 

The question is if Derek Dooley should have also looked for a replacement for Chaney. Following Lane Kiffin's departure, Chaney's two years in sole charge of the Vol offense have produced a slide from 60th (in 2009) to 75th to an awful 104th in total offense. Chaney has without question been dealt a rough hand, having been forced to deal with widespread inexperience as well as catastrophic injuries, and a little bit of continuity on a staff already wracked by upheaval is a major positive. So we don't blame Dooley for standing pat in the OC's chair ... though if Chaney can't engineer a dramatic turnaround in 2012, we suspect there's plenty of Vol supporters who will.

VANDERBILT

2011: John Donovan offensive, Bob Shoop defensive.

Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Well up. The Commodore offense only ranked 81st in yards per-play, that was still a far sight better than the 111th they managed in 2010. Meanwhile, Shoop quietly pulled off one of the nation's most impressive coordinating jobs by pulling the 'Dores up from 76th to 14th in the same statistic. Clearly, there's no call for James Franklin to change things up at this stage.

For all of Eye on CFB's SEC coverage, click here.

Thanks to TeamSpeedKills' helpful "Coaching Carousel Scorecard." 
 

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