Posted on: December 28, 2010 4:10 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Basics: West Virginia faces NC State, 6:30 PM Tuesday
Why You Should Watch: Both West Virginia and NC State fell just a game shy of an opportunity to play for a BCS bid, and they will each be looking to turn that disappointment around and finish the season strong. The game is also loaded with exciting playmakers - Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Russell Wilson, Nate Irving - to name a few. Both offenses have had high scoring performances this season, though West Virginia's defense ranks among the best in the NCAA in scoring defense. While Wilson still has one year left of eligibility, many believe that Tuesday will the be his final game in a Wolfpack football uniform. He has already signed a contract to play with the Colorado Rockies, who he has already bypassed one year for his junior season. Wilson has been part of Tom O'Brien's success at NC State, and I expect he will be looking to cap his career off with another performance. West Virginia also has an interesting storyline with the awkward announcement that Bill Stewart will be phased out before the 2012 season. Basically a sitting duck until Dana Holgorsen takes over, Stewart will fire up the Mountaineers for their seventh ACC bowl opponent since 2002.
Keys to victory for West Virginia: While Geno Smith has had an impressive second half of the season, the Mountaineers are living on the play of their defense. West Virginia's defense, particularly in the second half, simply refused to give up the big play against their opponents. Russell Wilson has a tendancy to wear a defense down with lots of pitch and catch, so West Virginia cannot let him get in a rhythm. If NC State keeps this game close, I have a feeling it's going to be a shootout. If the Mountaineers can shut down Wilson, Geno Smith should find it easy to catch the NC State secondary napping for a big play or two.
Keys to victory for NC State: Match West Virginia's intensity on defense. While not one of the superior defensive units in the ACC, NC State's linebackers are the cream of the crop. Led by Nate Irving, they will have an opportunity to create big plays to slow West Virginia's momentum. When NC State is blitzing the quarterback, they mask their shortcomings in the secondary. If they allow West Virginia's offense to keep them on their heels, the Pack will struggle mightily to play keep-up.
The Champs Sports Bowl is like: The third place match in international competition. Both teams fell just a game short of their conference championship hopes, and now this is their consolation. Much of this game will be decided by who decides to really "bring it." If both teams do, it could be a thrilling game in Orlando.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:12 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Today is a good day to be a college football fan as we're all blessed with the chance to watch not just one, but two bowl games this evening, the first time we've had multiple games on the same day since the first three bowl games were played on December 18th. The games provide a couple of decent matchups as well, as all four teams come from BCS conferences with West Virginia taking on N.C. State and Iowa facing Missouri. Though if recent television ratings have taught us one thing, not many eyes will be on N.C. State and West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl.
The Wall Street Journal published a story on the top television draws in bowl games since 1998 based on how ratings performed against expectations. The usual suspects sit atop the list of teams who draw more viewers. Teams like USC (+28.7%), Florida State (+22.6%), Notre Dame (+20.8%), Miami (+15.7%) and Michigan (+12%) all draw in more eyeballs than expected. Of course, when you look at the bottom of the list, you find that outside of Florida State, not many people seem to care about ACC teams in bowl games.
Four of the bottom five teams are from the ACC, including N.C. State. In dead last we have Virginia (-18.3%) followed by N.C. State (-17%), Georgia Tech (-14.7%), LSU (-8.9%) and Clemson (-7.9%). As you can see, LSU is the only non-ACC team in the bottom five, and honestly, I'm a bit surprised to find them there.
You'll also notice that there are no SEC teams in the top five, so I guess everyone must hate the SEC too. Or, you can explain it by the fact that the SEC tends to play in a lot of national championships and other BCS bowls, which are expected to get higher ratings and skew the numbers a bit. Still, even if that's the case, feel free to use the "Nobody watches the SEC!" argument next time you're dealing with an SEC-homer. They won't care, but you'll need as much ammo as you can get.
Posted on: December 23, 2010 2:59 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
At the rate things are currently going, West Virginia won't have many players left on its roster by the time its date against North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl next week gets here. Yesterday the news came that the team's top cornerback Brandon Hogan wouldn't be able to play in the game thanks to an injury, and on Thursday the school announced three more players who won't be able to play.
Those these three aren't hurt physically as much as mentally. Seems they don't have what it takes to make the grade.
Three West Virginia football players, including a starter on the offensive line, have been declared academically ineligible for the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28 against North Carolina State.
Sophomore Joe Madsen, the team's starting center, reserve defensive back Eain Smith, a junior, and reserve junior defensive lineman Josh Taylor did not meet NCAA eligibility requirements and will not participate in the bowl. Smith and Taylor, while not starters, are contributors to West Virginia's defense.
Maybe Dana Holgorsen can spend some time tutoring while he waits for Bill Stewart to give him the head coaching job.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 6:56 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
After earlier compiling a database of all 120 FBS head coaching salaries for the recently completed 2010 season, USA Today today released a look at the salaries of the nation's assistant coaches, all 907 of which are available for comparison here . Your highest-paid assistant: Texas ex-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp at $900,000 per year. The lowest amongst coaches actually drawing a paycheck? Leon Lett -- you remember him ! -- who's being paid just $12,000 to coach defensive tackles at Louisiana-Monroe.
Inbetween on the scale are some 900 other coaches (not counting those working at private institutions whose salaries are not public information). Ignoring certain obvious choices (yes, Greg Davis was overpaid, yes, Dana Holgorsen was a bargain), looking only at 2010 results, and making allowances for coaches in their first year at a new school, here's three choices for the country's most underpaid and most overpaid assistant coaches:
MOST DUE FOR A RAISE
Don Treadwell ($235,250), offensive coordinator, Michigan State. Despite possessing few playmakers known to fans outside the Midwest, Treadwell guided the Spartans to a top-20 finish in yards per-play and offered his team an enivable balance with better than 2,000 yards rushing and 2,800 passing. He also took over for two games as interim head coach while Mark Dantonio dealt with a heart ailment, winning both. And he did all this for the cost of less than many SEC position coaches.
Jeff Casteel ($372,268), defensive coordinator, West Virginia. Casteel's not doing too badly for himself, salary-wise, but compared to what his fellow DCs are earning in the SEC, Big 12, etc., he's still a bargain. With virtually no nationally-recognized players and few star recruits, Casteel quietly put together the nation's third-ranked unit in total defense and third in scoring defense; the Mountaineers were the only defense in the country to allow 21 points or fewer in every game.
Tom Osborne ($220,000), special teams/tight ends coach, Oregon. Osborne put together arguably the best set of special teams units in the country, leading the Ducks to top 20 finishes in net punting and kickoff coverage, coaxing a 12-of-16 performance from his two kickers, and along with returner Cliff Harris creating the most dangerous punt return unit in the nation, one that racked up better than 18 yards per return and scored five game-changing touchdowns. The Ducks probably aren't in the national title game without him.
Honorable Mention: Manny Diaz ($260,000), defensive coordinator, Mississippi State; Pete Kwiatkowski ($259,520), defensive coordinator, Boise State; Al Borges ($205,000), offensive coordinator, San Diego State.
MOST DUE TO NOT RECEIVE A RAISE
Norm Chow ($640,000), offensive coordinator, UCLA. That figure includes a $250,000 retention bonus designed to keep Chow in Los Angeles, but maybe the Bruins would have been better off being spared paying the nation's eighth-highest assistant's salary for the nation's 109th-best offense.
Tyrone Nix ($500,000), defensive coordinator, Ole Miss. For Nix's salary, the Rebels could have had Gus Malzahn, who earned the exact same amount this season from Auburn. Malzahn will earn quite a bit more next year, obviously, but Nix won't after overseeing a defense that utterly collapsed in the embarrassing season-opening loss to Jacksonville State and went on to finish 105th in yards allowed per-play.
Stacy Searels ($301,200), offensive line coach, Georgia. Offensive line coaches do very well in the SEC, with several topping the $300,000 mark. If we ignore the low-hanging fruit that was Steve Addazio's season in Gainesville, none had a more disappointing season than Searels, whose Bulldog charges looked to have the makings of one of the nation's strongest ground games at the close of 2009 and entered 2010 with as much experience (and talent, arguably) as any line in the country. Instead the Dawgs finished 10th in the SEC in rushing and middle-of-the-pack in sacks allowed (despite ranking 9th in passes attempted) as Searels wound up forced to juggle his lineup late in the year. Searels has done outstanding work before and likely will again, but 2010 wasn't his best moment.
Dishonorable Mention: Chuck Long and Carl Torbush ($350,000 each), offensive and defensive coordinators, Kansas ; Nick Holt ($650,000), defensive coordinator, Washington; Greg Robinson ($277,100), defensive coordinator, Michigan.
Tags: Al Borges, Boise State, Carl Torbush, Chuck Long, Don Treadwell, Florida, Georgia, Greg Robinson, Jeff Casteel, Kansas, Manny Diaz, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nick Holt, Norm Chow, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pete Kwiatkowski, San Diego State, SEC, Stacy Searels, Steve Addazio, Tom Osborne, Tyrone Nix, UCLA, Washington, West Virginia
Posted on: December 22, 2010 12:05 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
When West Virginia takes on North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl it's going to have quite a void to fill in its secondary. Head coach -- for now -- Bill Stewart announced during his press conference on Tuesday that the team's top cornerback, Brandon Hogan, will not be playing in the game thanks to a torn ACL.
"It just kills me, but not near as bad as it kills him," Stewart said on Tuesday. "Brandon Hogan played with a bicep injury, one in which many wouldn't have played with -- that's how tough the kid is. I was holding out hope that he would be ready to play in this football game, for his sake and for the seniors' sake. He's such an important cog on this defense."
Hogan suffered the injury during West Virginia's final game of the season against Rutgers on December 4th. The team had been hoping that Hogan would be able to put off surgery on the knee until after the game, but that's obviously not going to happen at this point. Stewart said that either sophomore Pat Miller or freshman Brodrick Jones will start in Hogan's place, and that the team may blitz more to try and make up for Hogan's absence.
Why he'd give away that strategy during a press conference, I don't know.
This won't be the first game Hogan has missed this season, as he was suspended earlier this season following a DUI arrest. Hogan finishes his senior season with 37 tackles and 3 interceptions.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 11:57 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
So you've asked the prettiest girl in class to go to the dance with you, and she said yes. You're excited. Today is the day of the dance, and you've got yourself a nice new suit, a haircut and you're wearing some generic knockoff of a very expensive cologne. You are ready to rock her world, but there's a problem. You go to pick her up in your mom's car, and when you get to her house her parents told you she's already left for the dance with the kid who lives down the street from you.
"But he already has a girlfriend," you yell, tears already beginning to form in your eyes.
Dejected, you get back into the car. You have two options now. You can feel sorry for yourself, go home and cry yourself to sleep, or you can go to that dance, find any other girl there and show her the time of her life. All while little Dana Ditchedyou stands and watches you. So what are you going to do?
Well, it looks like Pitt has chosen the latter.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Miami (OH) head coach Mike Haywood was on campus on Tuesday to interview for the head coaching job a day after Dana Holgorsen spurned Pitt for West Virginia.
Officially the job has not been offered to Haywood - officially - but he is in Pittsburgh and from everything I can tell based on who I have talked to this morning, he is the first candidate that has actually been brought to campus and it is likely he is now fully in the crosshairs of this thing.
So stay tuned, you, meaning Pitt fans, could have a coach in place shortly.
Haywood went 1-11 in his first season at Miami in 2009, but the Redhawks went 8-4 this season to win the MAC East, and defeated Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 12:35 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 12:37 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
First Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen was a leading candidate for the open position at Pittsburgh, then there were reports of discussions with West Virginia. Engaged in discussions with bitter rivals, and only one head coaching position available, there was little clarity to Holgorsen's situation. But according to the most recent reports from Morgantown, Bill Stewart does not have to worry about his coaching for his job like we may have thought.
The Charleston Gazette is reporting Tuesday that Holgorsen will join the Mountaineers staff as offensive coordinator in 2011, and then take over Stewart's position as head coach heading into the 2012 season. According to the report, current offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen, a candidate for the Kent State head coaching position, will be out whether he lands the job or not. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and the entire defensive staff will be retained.
So it appears as though the "coach-in-waiting" is not dead after all, just maybe put on a more definite timetable. Holgorsen has put together an entertaining and high-powered offense at Oklahoma State, and he will have many of the same caliber athletes to work with at West Virginia. One of the biggest disappointments of the Mountaineers' season was an offense that could not always capitalize on the play of their defense. West Virginia finished second in the nation in scoring defense, only allowing 12.8 points per game. But it was failing to score a second-half touchdown in back-to-back losses to Connecticut and Syracuse that prevented West Virginia from winning the Big East outright. After four years of Pat White-led offenses, an inferior offensive unit was not something fans were used to seeing.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 3:00 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
One of the more intriguing subplots of the Big East this season has been the performance of Bill Stewart at the helm of the West Virginia Mountaineers, and what little effect it's had on his job security. This is the third season of a six-year deal for Stewart, and all things considered, his time in Morgantown hasn't exactly been a failure; his Mountaineers are 27-11 in the last three years, and are playing for their first 10-win season since going 11-2 under Rich Rodriguez in 2007, RichRod's last season there.
And yet, nine wins seems to be Stewart's ceiling, which understandably irks some fans who look at a historically inconsistent Big East and see a conference ripe for regularly allowing double-digit wins to a program like West Virginia's. Stewart hasn't won the conference in his three seasons, though, and having Connecticut represent the league in one of the most lopsided BCS bowls ever while WVU faces an ACC bowl opponent for the third straight season is just a little more than some fans and school administrators want to take.
Hence, then, this report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Stewart may be fired if his team loses to 8-4 North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl, and that regardless of the result of the bowl game, the school is already setting its sights on a replacement:
Now, there aren't many coaches with clean disciplinary records who get fired with records like 28-12 -- an even .700 winning percentage -- and what job Stewart takes next would depend strongly on how much of a workload the 58-year-old feels like putting himself through after what an unceremonious departure like this would be.
If the Post-Gazette's other report listed in the aforelinked article -- that if Stewart's offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen is hired as head coach at Kent State , Holgorsen would be hired as the offensive coordinator with the head coaching spot guaranteed for 2012 -- is correct, it's clear that Stewart is operating in an environment that's enormously toxic from a trust and security standpoint. If that's the case, then regardless of whether Stewart wins his bowl game and/or salvages his job with the Mountaineers for another season, he doesn't have his superiors' confidence, and those situations rarely end well.