Posted on: December 27, 2010 12:57 pm

Harbaugh: 'I haven't even discussed' new contract

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Way back on December 6, we wrote of the contract extension offered by Stanford to Jim Harbaugh that "if he balks [at signing it], it's going to be the clearest sign possible that he's going to want to hear what [Michigan] (or NFL Team X) has to say."

It's now December 27, and not only has Harbaugh not signed the extension, he claims he hasn't even bothered to look at it :
“I haven’t even discussed it,” he told [the San Jose Mercury News] today.

That comment would seem to contradict what athletic director Bob Bowlsby said three weeks ago — that “Jim has indicated he plans to accept it.”

When I relayed Bowlsby’s comment to Harbaugh, he said: “Maybe he misspoke.”

If you are Bowlsby or Stanford, there is only one response to that: Ouch.

Because it's highly doubtful that -- even if Bowlsby was exaggerating when he claimed that Harbaugh was close to accepting the extension -- that Harbaugh isn't even aware of what Stanford is offering. The contract is out there, and whether he's "discussed" it or not, Harbaugh knows it. He's just not interested in putting his name on it just yet.

It's entirely possible he still does at some later date, of course. But with not one but two possible-bordering-on-probable landing places for Harbaugh should he decide to bolt, in both his alma mater at Michigan and now the vacant San Francisco 49ers head coaching job, it's clearer than ever that Harbaugh's in no hurry to limit his options now.

For the time being, Bowlsby and the Cardinal are just going to have to grin about their Orange Bowl berth and bear it. The rumor mill is going to be circling The Farm for a while.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 1:55 pm

BCS automatic bids not helping BCS attendance

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Some of the stories that have emerged over the past few days about teams struggling to sell their allotment of bowl tickets aren't surprising, quite honestly. How many FIU fans are going to want to leave Miami for a late-December trip to Detroit ? What percentage of the fanbase at Tulsa -- one of the smallest schools in all Division I -- are going to have the means to fly to Hawaii ?

But you might think that things would be different on the top rungs of the bowl ladder. You'd think wrong, as the Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl are each finding out. We mentioned last week that UConn was looking at a major financial shortfall, and that hasn't changed; the Huskies have still sold only approximately 4,500 of their 17,500 tickets and are on the hook for at least $1.4 million in unsold ticket costs alone. Stanford, meanwhile, isn't much better off , according to San Jose Mercury-News columnist Mark Purdy (emphasis added):
Why should the Cardinal football team and its loyal followers be forced to schlep way across the country to Miami for the Orange Bowl in two weeks? As of late last week, Stanford had sold less than half of its 17,500-ticket allotment for that game. Isn't it stupid that the team can't play in a big bowl much closer to home?
Purdy's column makes clear that he and the Pac-10 would have much preferred to see the the Cardinal in the Rose Bowl over TCU (and no doubt the Rose itself agrees), but he doesn't ask the question from the opposite perspective: isn't it stupid the Orange Bowl can't invite a big school closer to home? Why do they have to take a team representing a private academic institution from the West Coast whose fanbase is mostly apathetic even in the best of times when teams like LSU or even Michigan State could provide a lot more attendance bang for the invitation's buck?

In Stanford's case, it's because of a BCS bylaw that requires any team in the BCS rankings top-four to receive an automatic BCS berth; in UConn's, it's because the Big East champion is also admitted auotmatically, no questions asked. If Purdy thinks the agreement that sent TCU to Pasadena at Stanford's expense is unfair (and that's debatable, since the other BCS bowls have each been saddled with non-AQ teams before and will be again; why should the Rose be excepted?), how fair is it that the bowls are forced into inviting schools they know will leave them with attendance issues?

It's a little fair, sure, because there's no question that at 11-1, Stanford has done more to deserve a BCS berth than, say, 9-3 Alabama. But it's high time the NCAA started examining a way to free teams from the burden of ticket guarantees -- since it is unfair for a team like FIU, caught between an invitation they can't afford to turn down for the sake of their program and a guarantee they can't afford to accept on the financial ledger -- and if they might start with either limiting or eliminating those guarantees, they can definitely continue by loosening bowl tie-ins and doing away with the BCS's automatic bid. If bowls can take teams that will actually fill seats, they won't have to charge the schools that don't when those seats go empty.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 2:17 pm

Report: VT using orange helmets in Orange Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

For all the flak Oregon gets about constantly fiddling with its football uniform, it's worth mentioning that stodgy old Virginia Tech has also developed a penchant for the alternate uniform (not coincidentally, VT is also a Nike-sponsored team). The Hokies have gone with their traditional maroon helmets , white helmets at the ACC Championship, and some really choice matte black helmets against Boise State (even if the rest of the special Pro Combat uniform was a little ridiculous).

Now, it appears the Hokies are ready to add a fourth helmet to their season's total: an orange one, presumably in honor of the Orange Bowl. Here's a picture of the new helmet, according to Virginia Tech blog The Key Play:

Now, we can't confirm that these helmets will be used at the bowl; The Key Play cited an anonymous source for this picture, and Virginia Tech's equipment department refused to confirm or deny the report when contacted today.

The image itself is pretty obviously legitimate, however; it'd be nearly impossible to alter an existing VT helmet in Photoshop while still keeping the details like the reflections in the helmet, and we're confident nobody went through the trouble and expense of physically crafting this helmet for the simple benefit of an online prank. So whether or not Virginia Tech uses the orange helmets on January 3 when it takes on Stanford , the new helmet's at least in its sartorial arsenal, and what better event exists at which to debut it than the Orange Bowl, right?

So what do you think? Thumbs up or down for the orange hat?

Posted on: December 12, 2010 1:51 am
Edited on: December 12, 2010 2:18 am

Heisman voting breakdown, region-by-region

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here are the final Heisman voting numbers for this year's balloting.


  • 1. Cam Newton , 379
  • 2. Andrew Luck , 168
  • 3. LaMichael James , 162
  • 4. Kellen Moore , 113


  • 1. Cam Newton, 379
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 187
  • 3. LaMichael James, 143
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 108


  • 1. Cam Newton, 418
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 158
  • 3. LaMichael James, 152
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 81


  • 1. Cam Newton, 384
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 176
  • 3. LaMichael James, 158
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 103


  • 1. Cam Newton, 356
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 192
  • 3. LaMichael James, 145
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 95


  • 1. Cam Newton, 347
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 198
  • 3. LaMichael James, 156
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 135

The complete lack of a regional bias is, to say the least, astonishing; not only was this Cam Newton's award the entire way, but Andrew Luck is now the prohibitive favorite for the 2011 Heisman. Take that observation for the little amount it's worth -- Mark Ingram was a sophomore Heisman winner just last year, and he was hardly a factor in this year's voting, after all -- but if Luck returns for his junior year or James comes back for his senior campaign, Oregon - Stanford will clearly be the most anticipation-worthy game on 2011's schedule all of a sudden.

It's also pretty amazing that this universal consensus of Heisman voters didn't appear to affect the Football Writers' Association of America, who didn't find it necessary to vote Newton onto any of their All-American teams that were released today. It would be interesting to see the overlap of Heisman voters and FWAA voters; after all, there's much more language about off-field behavior built into the Heisman Trophy's stipulations than into thoe of the All-American teams, and yet Newton was clearly punished far more on All-America voting than on Heisman voting. Why?

Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:46 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 4:50 pm

Virginia Tech down LB for Orange Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Virginia Tech has been dealing with injuries all season on both sides of the ball.  Yet somehow, they have been able to step up and keep it from hindering the team on their current 11-game winning streak.  That kind of support and adjustment will be needed once again, with reports that the Hokies will likely have to face the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal without starting linebacker Lyndell Gibson.

Gibson left the ACC Championship Game with what was initially diagnosed as a "shoulder stinger."  Head coach Frank Beamer complimented his linebacking corps after the game for their ability to step right in and contribute defensively.  Unfortunately, tests later revealed that Gibson had broken his left shoulder blade, and will likely miss the Orange Bowl on January 3 in Miami.

If Gibson can't go against Andrew Luck and the Stanford offense, Beamer will likely turn to backup Tariq Edwards to once again replace him in the lineup.  Edwards has seen his playing time increase over the season, and played the entire second half of the title game victory against Florida State on Saturday.

Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:45 pm

Vandy to cut candidate list, as they should

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Thanks to the Jon Gruden panic at Miami, the Bill McCartney escapades at Colorado , etc., the coaching search at Vanderbilt has flown mostly under the radar to date despite it being the only vacancy this offseason in the SEC (barring Dan Mullen' s hypothetical departure at Mississippi State ). That doesn't mean the Commodore brass hasn't been doing their due diligence. In fact, as this report from the Tennessean indicates , they've been extremely diligent. According to the report, the full alphabetical list of coaches contacted or coaches whose agents have been contacted by the 'Dores --and it may not be comprehensive -- is as follows:

Troy Calhoun , head coach, Air Force
Dave Doeren , defensive coordinator, Wisconsin
James Franklin, offensive coordinator, Maryland
Al Golden, head coach, Temple
Todd Graham , head coach, Tulsa
Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator, Auburn
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, Stanford
Don Treadwell,
offensive coordinator, Michigan State
Shawn Watson, offensive coordinator, Nebraska

If that seems like a lot of candidates, Vandy Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams agrees with you :
Williams said he will select three candidates — maybe four — from the first round of interviews to become finalists. There would then likely be a second round of interviews.

The cut could come as early as today or as late as next week.

"What I'd prefer to do is probably take more than three to the second round, but to get this thing done, three is probably the optimal number," said Williams, who has declined to comment on candidates during the search process.
We already know a few names on the above list that won't reciprocate enough interest to make the cut -- Calhoun, Malzahn, possibly Golden -- and even though Williams said the frequency of offensive-minded coaches on the list is "just how it's gone," add that frequency to the 'Dores hopeless struggles on offense the last few years and it's easy to see Vandy leaning in that direction.

This could lead the 'Dores to Roman, who's coming off of two incredible seasons with the Cardinal, has first-hand experience dealing with the Stanford-like academic requirements at Vandy, and even got some measure of name-recognition following his nomination as a Broyles Award finalist.

But before they can settle on one candidate, the 'Dores have to settle on three or four. It's time for Williams to make that call.

Posted on: December 6, 2010 6:38 pm

Heisman finalists announced

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Heisman Trophy will be handed this Saturday in New York, and while there really isn't all that much suspense surrounding who is likely going to be taking home the hardware, until now there was some question as to which players would be making the trip.  Well, that suspense is over.

The four finalists for the Heisman were announced on Monday, and they are as follows:
  • Cam Newton - QB - Auburn
  • LaMichael James - RB - Oregon
  • Andrew Luck - QB - Stanford
  • Kellen Moore - QB - Boise State
I am snubbed once again.

Now, if the votes were based solely on performance on the field this season, then there wouldn't be much doubt that Cam Newton was going to be walking out of New York with the trophy in his hands.  Still, who knows for sure how the voters are going to vote considering everything that has taken place with Newton this season, and the fact that Reggie Bush just gave up his Heisman a few months ago.

Nobody wants to see that happen again, and according to some voters I've seen on Twitter, there are some voters who left Newton off of their ballot. Which means that there is a chance that somebody other than Newton will win the award, though I wouldn't bet on it.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 12:43 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 12:43 pm

Stanford offers Harbaugh raise; will he accept?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

That Stanford finished fourth in the final BCS standings, grabbing a lucrative automatic berth to the big-money bowls, is already a tremendous accomplishment. It's all the more tremendous, however, when you remember where the Cardinal were when Jim Harbaugh was hired: coming off of a 1-11, last-place season under Walt Harris, his two year reign of error coming on the heels of the equally disastrous three-year, 10-23  Buddy Teevens era. Stanford had gone five years without a winning record or bowl berth, and after years of poor recruiting, had become simply overmatched against Pac-10 competition.

It's taken Harbaugh only four seasons -- each better than the last -- to position the Cardinal as perennial Pac-10 contenders, becoming the hottest name in college coaching in the process. There's never been any doubt that Stanford would have to offer him a substantial raise to keep him in the fold. So, yep, it didn't take long for Stanford to offer him a substantial raise :
"We have a proposal in front of Jim and he's indicated he plans to accept it," [Stanford athletic director] Bowlsby said Sunday. "He's got this year and four more on his contract. I expect that he will be our coach in the foreseeable future."
Whether anyone else expects the same will depend on whether or not an NFL team makes an overture to Harbaugh, or, even more importantly, Michigan decides to dismiss Rich Rodriguez. With Wolverine athletic director Dave Brandon having stated he would not make a decision on Rodriguez until after the bowl, his alma mater may be placing Harbaugh in an awkward position; the 28 days between now and the Orange Bowl would be a long time for Bowlsby's new contract to sit on the table.

There wouldn't really be anything other than money -- money Michigan even might pay for him -- to keep Harbaugh from signing his new extension and departing for Ann Arbor anyway. But Harbaugh's reputation as a straight-shooter would seem to preclude him from that kind of bait-and-switch; if he signs the extension, he'll almost certainly be in Palo Alto next season. If he balks, it's going to be the clearest sign possible that he's going to want to hear what Brandon (or NFL Team X) has to say.

The ball, as the saying goes, is entirely in his court.

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