Tag:Stanford
Posted on: December 3, 2010 6:57 am
 

Rich Rodriguez still wants to coach at Michigan

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Michigan held its annual banquet tonight, and while we were all tragically spared the awkwardness of Stanford coach (and potential next Michigan coach) Jim Harbaugh attending to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Rose Bowl win at Michigan, the banquet provided its own special memories all the same.

As one might imagine, the chief headline-maker tonight was Rich Rodriguez, who was forced to speak on behalf of the team without knowing if he'd oversee another season at the helm of the Wolverines. Yes, he's at least got one more game with the team, as Michigan's headed to a bowl and AD Dave Brandon has insisted that RichRod's job will not be evaluated until the end of the year. But past that, who knows? Not even Brandon knows, in all likelihood, so it's certainly not worth listening to anybody who claims to have the answers already.

So it was up to Rodriguez to make his case for staying in Ann Arbor one last (socially acceptable) time, and while his decision to hold hands with his wife during a Josh Groban song probably came off as more awkward than anything else, his commitment to the program was never left unsaid.

"My name is Rich Rodriguez," he said at the end of the banquet. "I'm honored to be the head football coach at the University of Michigan. I hope you realize that I truly want to be a Michigan man. Thank you."

Now, a pedant would make hay out of the fact that Rodriguez said that he merely wants to be a "Michigan man" and not that he already is one, but rather than using that as proof that RichRod's not a good fit in Ann Arbor, we'll just point out that it's nice to see that he at least acknowledges that the title of "Michigan man" isn't self-appointed -- especially by someone who's spent three seasons with the program. Is that provincialism? Sure, but that's what just about every major college football program thrives on already, so at least RichRod's heart is ostensibly in the right place.

At the same time, whether Rodriguez plays inspirational songs in front of reporters or feels it necessary to deem himself a "Michigan man" or not probably pales in comparison to whether he fires Greg Robinson as defensive coordinator or not. PR campaigns matter only so much, especially when any regular Michigan fan can see RichRod's 15-21 record at Ann Arbor. The wins need to happen soon, and if the Wolverines can't win their bowl game this year, "next September" might not be soon enough for Michigan brass -- regardless of how much emotion Rodriguez showed at a team function tonight.

Posted on: December 2, 2010 1:27 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2010 2:00 pm
 

Can Beavers pull off the shocker of the season?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's basically two candidates for the upset of the 2010 college football season: James Madison taking out Virginia Tech , just the second-ever victory for an FCS team over a ranked opponent, and Nevada ruining Boise State 's dream season with their wild overtime victory.

But neither of those would hold a candle to a hypothetical Oregon State victory over the top-ranked Oregon juggernaut the Beavers will host in Corvallis this Saturday, in the 114th edition of the Civil War. The Ducks are, of course, a perfect 11-0, boast the top-ranked offense in the country, and one hiccup at Cal aside have won their other 11 games by an average of 32 points. Oregon State, meanwhile, is a disppointing 5-6 and is coming off a 38-0 humiliation at the hands of Stanford .

But the Civil War has some history of chaos , particularly when one team or the other is on the cusp of a championship. Could the Beavers make it happen? It won't be easy, but it won't be impossible, either. Here's what they'll have to do:

Shorten the game with Rodgers. It's mostly beside the point to say the Beavers need to "control the clock"; Chip Kelly 's hyperdrive offense scores so quickly that even gaining more yards than any other attack in the country, the Ducks still rank 103rd in the FBS in time-of-possession. But OSU will have to hog even more of the ball than the Ducks normally concede, because the more possessions Oregon can pack into the game, the more cracks they get at the Beaver end zone, the more fatigued the OSU defense will get as the game wears on, and the greater the toll the Ducks' superior talent will take. OSU needs to approach the game the way a Princeton-offense basketball team would a first-round NCAA Tournament game; the fewer possessions there are, the greater impact one or two fortunate bounces and big plays could have in the underdogs' favor.

So how do the Beavers do that? The heaviest dose possible of Jacquizz Rodgers . The Beavers' dynamo has been at his best in big games in the past, and will have to be again to keep the chains moving, the clock running, and the Duck offense off the field.

Rattle the Ducks on the road. Oregon has been incredible just about everywhere, but they've been far more vulnerable on the road than at home in their virtually-impregnable Autzen Stadium fortress. They allowed more than 600 yards to Arizona State in Tempe in their worst defensive performance of the season, winning largely on the strength of a cavalcade of Sun Devile errors that led to six turnovers; the Ducks' worst offensive performance came in Berkeley, where they managed just one offensive touchdown and anaverage of 3.8 yards per-play, nearly two yards lower than their next-worst performance.

The Beavers haven't been particularly good at home -- their decisive loss in Corvallis to Washington State is probably the single worst performance in Pac-10 play this season -- but if they can play with enough emotion and energy early to keep the crowd well in it, the Ducks have shown they might not respond all that well.

Win the special teams battle. This is much easier said than done with All-American Duck returner Cliff Harris around, but special teams have typically been a Mike Riley strength -- they kept the Beavers competitive in their meeting with Boise almost singlehandedly -- and they simply can't afford to lose this phase of the game when they have such an uphill climb on first-through-third down. Preventing a big Oregon special teams play and making one or two of their own would go a long, long way towards evening the scales.

Sell out against the run. With an offense as powerful as Oregon's, there's no good way to defend it; packing the box means that Darron Thomas will have more opportunities to hit a backbreaking pass downfield. But the only time Oregon's been halfway contained -- in the aformentioned trips to Cal and Arizona State -- it's started with limiting LaMichael James and the Duck running game, which averaged just 3.47 yards an attempt vs. the Sun Devils and an ugly 2.95 vs. the Bears. The Beavers' star defensive tackle Stephen Paea will need to play the game of his life.

Don't turn the ball over. A team like OSU simply won't beat a team like Oregon wasting possessions and helping the Duck offense with turnovers. There's not much else to say there.

Even if Oregon State does all of the above, they're still not likely to actually emerge with more than a moral victory; Oregon is just that good. But they'll at least have a fighting chance, and if they catch a couple of breaks with the officials and in the turnover department, who knows? There could be one more shocker left in the college football season after all.


Posted on: December 1, 2010 3:00 pm
 

Walter Camp Award finalists announced

Posted by Tom Fornelli

One of the questions I have following the revelation that Cam Newton has been declared eligible by the NCAA is how will Heisman voters look at him now.  Yes, he's been cleared, but the fact remains that his father did solicit money in an attempt to sell his son's commitment to the highest bidder. Personally, if I had a vote, Newton would still be getting mine, and he'd be eligible for any postseason awards, but I have no idea how others will view it.

Though I now have an idea of how awards like the Walter Camp Award, which is given annually to the player deemed the best in college football by a group of coaches and SIDs, see it.  The award announced its three finalists today, and Newton is one of them.  Stanford's Andrew Luck and Oregon's LaMichael James are the other two.

Newton has accounted for 3,590 total yards and 42 touchdowns for Auburn this season.  James leads the nation in rushing, averaging nearly 155 yards a game for Oregon, while Luck has thrown for 3,051 yards and 28 touchdowns for Stanford.  All three players are deserving of the award, though I have to think that Newton is going to win it.

Those are video game numbers he's posted this season.

We'll have to wait until December 9th to find out who wins.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:13 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2010 1:33 pm
 

Harbaugh not attending Michigan banquet

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It looks like we're all going to miss out on what could have been one of the most awkward moments anybody could have hoped for this season.  As you're well aware, there are plenty of Michigan fans out there who would like to see Rich Rodriguez fired and replaced by former Michigan quarterback and current Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.  Michigan AD Dave Brandon has said repeatedly that he won't be making any decision on his head coach until after the bowl game, but he also hasn't exactly come to Rodriguez's defense either.

Which makes you wonder.

Still, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened at Thursday night's banquet to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Michigan's 1985 football team.  One that had Harbaugh as a starting quarterback.  Unfortunately, while the banquet is still taking place, Harbaugh will not be a part of it. He said as much during a conference call on Tuesday, saying that he can't make it because he'll be on a recruiting trip.

Which no doubt disappoints many Michigan fans and alumni.  It would have been a great chance for Brandon to speak to Harbaugh and get a feel for what he wants to do, though Harbaugh has said that he doesn't plan on talking about any other jobs than the one he already has.

Of course, if I had a dollar every time a college football coach said he wasn't going to talk about another job, and then ended up accepting another job, I'd have at least enough money to take the woman to a fancy dinner at Burger King.
Posted on: November 29, 2010 5:58 pm
 

Broyles finalists have offensive flavor

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The ancient saw about football is that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. But based on this offense-dominated 2010 season, it may be time to admit that when it comes to college football, offense can just about handle the whole thing, thanks; likely BCS title game participants Auburn and Oregon both ride their record-breaking offenses first and their defenses second, and whether it's the Big Ten with Wisconsin , the Big 12 South with Oklahoma , or the SEC East with South Carolina (and their 100th-ranked pass defense ), defense-first teams are giving way to more explosive counterparts.

Which helps explain why of the five finalists announced today for the Broyles Award , given annually to the nation's top assistant coach, four of them are offensive coordinators at the helm of some of the nation's best attacks. They are:

Dick Bumpas, defensive coordinator/defensive line coach, TCU
Paul Chryst, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Wisconsin
Dana Holgorsen, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State
Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Auburn
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, Stanford

Of the five, Malzahn has become (almost without question) the biggest name in the group and with his unorthodox scheme producing not only an SEC West title but a probable Heisman Trophy for Cam Newton , he's your likely front-runner. But all five have done incredible work this season: Holgorsen took over a Cowboy offense missing its longtime quarterback and biggest receiving threats and helped make Justin Blackmon and Kendall Hunter All-Americans; Chryst has made Scott Tolzien  the most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten by a mile while maintaining the Badgers' bulldozing ground-based mentality; Roman, likely the most obscure name in the bunch, has coordinated an offense that lost Toby Gerhart and still averaged better than 40 points per game; and though a couple of off-games have denied TCU their run at being the best statistical defense of the decade , Bumpas's perenially excellent Frogs again lead the nation in both total and scoring defense.

But a vote for Bumpas in 2010 feels a bit like counterprogramming opposite the Super Bowl or something similar. This is the season of offense in college football, and the Broyles winner will likely reflect that.

Posted on: November 28, 2010 1:57 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 27)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. The Ducks are who we thought they were. It's just not accurate to say we learned anything new about Oregon in their 48-29 Friday night win over Arizona . We knew already they were as dominant a second-half team as any in the country (save maybe their likely BCS title game foils at Auburn ), and that's how they played. We knew already with weapons like LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and even the ever-more-terrifying Josh Huff , the Ducks could put up nearly 50 points without even being particularly sharp in the first half, and that's what they did. We knew that playing in the comfort zone of Autzen Stadium, they were going to win and win comfortably when all was said and done, and in the end the Wildcats feel by nearly three touchdowns. (We also knew their defense could have the occasional

In short, we knew that Oregon was the 2010 Pac-10 champion and almost certainly on their way to the BCS championship game, and that's what we still know. If there was anything surprising about their dismantling of the Wildcats, it was the realization that by this point of the season, Oregon's championship-caliber excellence isn't even surprising any more.

2. And yeah, you can forget about them choking away that title berth in the Civil War. Mike Riley will almost certainly have his Oregon State team ready to play a competitive game against their archrivals at home in Corvallis, but it's hard to imagine that he has the horses to actually finish off the hypothetical shocker of the season, not when two of the Beavers' previous three results are a home loss to Washington State and today's hideous 38-0 whitewashing at the hands of Stanford . The Cardinal are legitimately playing as well as any team in the country right now, but still; fewer than 300 total yards an zero points doesn't exactly portend the kind of offensive explosion that will be necessary to stay with the Ducks.

3. USC is ready for its season to be over. The Oregon State result sandwiched between the aforementioned losses to Wazzu and Stanford? An inexplicable-looking 36-7 demolition of the Trojans that this space immediately chalked up to USC's longtime tendency to break into football hives upon crossing the Oregon border. But after watching USC's listless, often yawn-inducing performance in a 20-16 loss to a Notre Dame team that at times seemed determined to give the game away -- Irish quarterback Tommy Rees threw three interceptions, more than one of the highly charitable variety -- it may be time to wonder if Lane Kiffin is still able to get through to a team with nothing to play for other than pride.

Now, true, the Trojans still would have pulled out the victory if Ronald Johnson hadn't dropped a certain game-winning reception late, and the absence of Matt Barkley (coupled with a shaky-looking first start from Mitch Mustain , who averaged less than 5 yards an attempt and failed to throw a touchdown pass) no doubt didn't help USC's cause in the least, either. But for a team playing its oldest and arguably biggest rival, the spark needed to really get the Trojan blood pumping (and the crowd involved) seemed curiously absent. Maybe it was the rain. But maybe it's just Week 12 of a season whose self-described bowl game took place a month ago.

4. The end to one team's bowl streak is just the start of someone else's.  Or so it would appear after Washington edged Cal 16-13 to pull within a game of bowl eligibility at 5-6, with only the feeble specter of Washington State (surely not due for two major upsets this season) standing in the way of the Huskies' first postseason appearance since 2002. Steve Sarkisian 's second season in charge hasn't always lived up to the outsized expectations of the preseason, but at least he can point towards some concrete progress.

Unfortunately for Jeff Tedford , unless you count the upcoming long-since-overdue renovations to the Bears' Memorial Stadium, "concrete progress" seems further away than ever. Kevin Riley 's career-ending injury a few weeks back appears to have been a fatal dagger for Cal's bowl hopes, which finally dissolved in the loss and resulting final record of 5-7. The record is the worst of Tedford's nine-year Cal tenure, with the Bears missing the postseason for the first time since -- whaddya know -- 2002. Tedford's not in any kind of trouble just yet (don't forget that Cal was hands-down the worst program in the Pac-10 when he took over), but the heady mid-aughts days when the Bears were serious Rose Bowl and BCS contenders have never seemed further away than they did on Saturday.

5. Rick Neuheisel had better have something more up his sleeve this offseason than just canning Norm Chow. Because when you give up 55 points to Arizona State 's backup quarterback , your offensive coordinator is pretty obviously not the only thing wrong with your football team. 
Posted on: November 27, 2010 2:54 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2010 2:56 pm
 

The Rich Rodriguez Watch begins now

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Let the Rich Rodriguez is getting fired rumors begin.  Well, okay, continue.  No, that's not right either.  Let's just pour some more gasoline on the raging inferno that has been Rich Rodriguez getting fired rumors.

Yes, the Wolverines have improved in each season under Rodriguez since his first year in Ann Arbor after taking over for Lloyd Carr.  They've even reached bowl eligibility this season.

Still, improvement is nice, but not getting destroyed by Ohio State is better when you're the head coach at Michigan, and so far Rodriguez just hasn't proven himself capable of that. Through three seasons, Rodriguez is yet to pick up a victory against either of Michigan's two rivals, Ohio State or Michigan State

It's one thing to get beaten by Ohio State, it's another to do so while seeing Michigan State earn a share of the Big Ten title.

So I don't think it would surprise anyone if Rodriguez is let go after the season, if not before whatever bowl game the Wolverines end up in.  Dave Brandon may be the athletic director at Michigan right now, but he's not the one who hired Rodriguez.

Rich isn't his coach, and you have to think the man Brandon would have his eye on is out west in Palo Alto, California.  That's where former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh has built one of the best programs in the country with Stanford, and has done so while having to recruit the smart kids, not just the talented ones.

What's odd in this situation is that the Michigan fans may want Rodriguez gone, and even Brandon may want Rodriguez gone, but I'm not sure they have that much say in the matter.  No, I think it'll all come down to what Jim Harbaugh wants to do.

I have no doubt that Michigan will reach out to Harbaugh somehow, though it won't be publicly.  If Harbaugh gives the indication that he'll leave Stanford and come home to Ann Arbor, then Rodriguez will be kicked out the door quicker than a Greg Robinson defense can give up a touchdown.

If Harbaugh says no, then I think Michigan sticks by Rodriguez for one more year.  And waits to see if Harbaugh changes his mind.

Posted on: November 23, 2010 12:39 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Robinson Coach of the Year finalists announced

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The eight announced finalists for the 2010 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award (as given out by the Football Writers Association of America) didn't offer much in the way of surprise; six of the nominees come from the current top seven teams in the BCS standings and all eight coach for teams in the BCS top ten. They are, from highest-ranked to lowest:

Chip Kelly, Oregon
Gene Chizik, Auburn
Gary Patterson, TCU
Chris Peterson, Boise State
Jim Harbaugh, Stanford
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

A victory over Alabama (and the lack of further allegations against Cam Newton ) would probably make Chizik the front-runner by a nose over Kelly, since his team entered this season with lower expectations and a far worse record in 2009. But Kelly's mastery of his light-speed spread-option offense and dominating season would make him a fine choice, as would any of the finalists. The FWAA can't go wrong.

If there's anything to complain about here, it's that all eight choices follow the "good or great team becomes or stays great" model. But there's something to be said about taking a mediocre or even bad program to (or back to) respectability. Here's three coaches who also deserve some recognition for their work in 2010:

Mario Cristobal, FIU. It's easy to forget just how miserable the Golden Panthers' program was when Cristobal arrived in 2007, with FIIU fresh off an 0-12 season, the infamous Orange Bowl brawl with Miami , and NCAA sanctions. Three seasons later FIU, picked to finish eighth in their conference, will win the Sun Belt and play in their first-ever bowl game if they can hold serve at home against Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee State to end the season.

Ralph Friedgen, Maryland . The only reason the Fridge is even still employed by the Terps is because the school couldn't afford his buyout at the end of 2009, and it was no surprise when Friedgen's team was pegged for dead last in the ACC Atlantic this offseason. Instead of tuning out their supposedly lame-duck coach, though, the Terps have surged back to a 7-4 season with a big win vs. rivals Navy and road victories at Virginia and bowl-bound Boston College , putting them in contention for the division title as recently as last week.

Mike Haywood, Miami (Ohio) . It's hard to believe that the 7-4 Redhawks could win the MAC East when you consider how supremely hopeless they were in 2009, when they failed to score a single point until their third game and finished 1-11. In the MAC. But Miami served notice in a valiant season-opening effort against Florida that Haywood had made the absolute most of the offseason, and if they can claim an eighth win they'll have their most victories since 2004.


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