Posted on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Spring time is a time for learning. Ask any coach and you'll hear some derivative of, 'We want to get back to learning the fundamentals' at the beginning of their spring press conference. Now that spring practices have wrapped up for all of the Pac-12 schools though, it's time to figure out what we've learned from them. Here's a few things we've learned about all 12 teams (other than the fact that they're all very rich thanks to the new media deal).
What we've learned: The Ducks are still feeling out the offensive line situation, where they have to replace three of the starting five before taking on a top five team in LSU week one. Mark Asper is set at right tackle and Carson York returns at left guard but beyond that it's a few question marks. Expect the battles to start to continue with a few of the incoming freshmen to get a look once fall camp starts. Luckily the Ducks have two Heisman Trophy candidates in the backfield in running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Williams to smooth the transition as they can both hit the hole quickly with their speed. The defense seems set and will likely be better than last year's unit despite losing their leader, linebacker Casey Matthews, to graduation. Oregon still needs some receivers to step up but early enrollee Colt Lyerla figures to be in the mix early on offense.
What we've learned: Andrew Luck is good. But everybody already knew that. A few pieces around Luck still need to be ironed out though, namely at receiver and on the opposite side of the ball along the defensive line. By all indications the transition from Jim Harbaugh to new head coach David Shaw went smoothly but practices were closed so there's not a ton we can gleam from the Cardinal's spring. Luck led scoring drives on all three series he was in during the Stanford spring game and that's without running back Tyler Gaffney, who was playing baseball all spring. Having the best quarterback in college football seems to cover up a lot of holes.
What we've learned: The Sun Devils will be donning new uniforms in the fall and on top of looking pretty slick, they'll also be carrying the weight of expectations as the Pac-12 South favorite. Injuries were the story of the spring with starting corner Omar Bolden going down with a torn ACL early last year. He's expected to come back later in the season but that's a big blow on an otherwise solid and upperclassman-laden team. Wide out T.J. Simpson also injured his knee. The offensive line, an area of concern for years in the desert, appears to be at full strength and much improved.
What we've learned: Lots of injuries to deal with this spring with the Utes, who had several starters miss the spring game or spring all together. Starting quarterback Jordan Wynn was one such player who didn't get a chance to go through practices under new offensive coordinator Norm Chow but he's still expected to be the starter once fall camp opens. There are several players competing at running back and the staff is hopeful after Harvey Langi, John White and Thretton Palamo all had a good spring. Palamo becoming the starter is interesting because he's a former ruby player. Utes also seemed to figure out the replacements in the secondary which was something head coach Kyle Whittingham wanted to do.
What we've learned: There's some talent at USC but the depth is... lacking. The Trojans used to be able to stock pile four and five-star talent but it was evident that Lane Kiffin is doing some rebuilding with 49 out of the 85 scholarship players from the past two recruiting classes. That also means this is a young team but there's a lot to build around in quarterback Matt Barkley and wide out Robert Woods. The defense should be better than a year ago as players grow more comfortable with the system. The secondary should be much improved in particular. With 12 players out for spring and many freshmen expected to contribute, USC still has to figure a few things out in the fall.
What we've learned: Starting quarterback Nick Foles has a talented group of wide outs but he'll have to get the ball to them quickly. While every coach in the country wants their trigger man to get the ball out quickly, Foles has to do so mainly because he'll have an entirely new offensive line in front of him. At the moment both tackles will be redshirt freshmen who haven't played a game but they looked solid this spring. Both defensive ends (who were very productive) are gone but C.J. Parrish impressed everyone coming off the edge this spring. The secondary seems to be rounding into form and Texas transfer Dan Buckner should be a nice target for Foles.
What we've learned: The Bears' practices had to be moved off campus due to construction and that's pretty fitting considering that Cal football was, well, under construction this spring. The situation at quarterback seems to be Zach Maynard over Brock Mansion and Allan Bridgeford but none of the three seems to be particularly appealing based on reports. Jim Michalczik is back in Berkeley as offensive coordinator and we'll see what tweaks he makes but Jeff Tedford will be the play caller and quarterbacks coach this year. The defense will likely be the strength of the team, especially along the defensive line.
What we've learned: Not a ton about the team that will take the field in the fall. Quarterback Ryan Katz sat out with a broken bone in his wrist and all-everything athlete James Rodgers is rehabbing from knee surgery and might not make it back in time for the opener. The offensive line returns four of five and needs to play better but there weren't any indications they did so this spring. Terron Ward seems to have emerged as the favorite to replace Jacquizz Rodgers but there are plenty of players in the mix.
What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on offense out side of the running back position but at least the defense looks better. Being relatively healthy on defense is nice for the new staff and the defensive line looks like it can provide a nice pass rush. The quarterback battle is on hold until the fall but freshman Brett Hundley showed flashes and if he gets the playbook down, could end up the starter. Injuries along the offensive line were an issue once again.
What we've learned: Keith Price is the new starter at quarterback and has the task of keeping the Huskies afloat without Jake Locker and several other starters. Chris Polk has looked good at running back and is primed for another good season if he can deal with more defenders in the box. Three starters along the offensive line needed to be replaced and some of the battles will likely continue in fall camp. Early enrollee Austin Seferian-Jenkins made an impression and figures to make an impact on offense at tight end.
What we've learned: Everything is new for the conference's newest member. First time head coach Jon Embree takes over the reigns as the program tries to reset after a down couple of years. Tyler Hansen had a good spring in the new pro-style offense and the Buffs have a listed 17 starters coming back overall that gives them some hope this year. There's a bunch of questions on defense as the team moves to a more traditional 4-3 alignment from last year's 3-3-5. The front seven seems to be ok coming out of drills but replacing both corners is still a concern.
What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on the Palouse but there's hope this spring. The Cougars are set at quarterback with Jeff Tuel and former starter Marshall Lobbestael and the offensive line seems solid coming out of the spring. The front seven was impressive this spring and should be much improved from last year with a bit of depth Washington State hasn't had. Special teams is a bit of a concern and didn't really get worked out this spring.
Tags: Allan Bridgeford, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brett Hundley, Brock Mansion, C.J. Parrish, Cal, Carson York, Casey Matthews, Chris Polk, Colorado, Colt Lyerla, Dan Buckner, Darron Williams, David Shaw, Harvey Langi, Heisman Trophy, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jake Locker, James Rodgers Terron Ward, Jeff Tedford, Jeff Tuel, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Michalczik, John White, Jon Embree, Jordan Wynn, Keith Price, Kyle Whittingham, LaMichael James, Lane Kiffin, LSU, Mark Asper, Marshall Lobbestael, Matt Barkley, Nick Foles, Norm Chow, Omar Bolden, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Robert Woods, Ryan Katz, Stanford, T.J. Simpson, Texas, Thretton Palamo, Tyler Gaffney, Tyler Hansen, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Zach Maynard
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:15 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 1:16 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
After years -- or as it must have seemed like to Buffs fans, millenia -- of injuries, waffling, and general lack of leadership at the quarterback position, the arrival of new head coach Jon Embree (and graduation of annual backup/spot starter Cody Hawkins) seems to have put an end to the question marks. Tyler Hansen is officially your Colorado quarterback starter, and it doesn't sound like there's any wiggle room in Embree's decision:
Those are some mighty fine numbers there, and suggest the Buffs coule have a legitimately threatening passing game for the first time since the Gary Barnett era. Of course, since they've all come against the Colorado secondary, they also suggest Embree has some work to do in the secondary.
But given how hamstrung Colorado has been by the quarterback position the past few season, it's hard to imagine any Buffs fans -- or Embree, who knows how badly the seemingly rudderless Dan Hawkins Buffs need a strong, rally-to-the-flag on-field leader like an entrenched senior Hansen -- offering up the first complaint.
(And hey, while we're discussing Colorado and quarterbacks, you should know former Georgia backup quarterback and occasional Bulldog receiver/punt returner Logan Gray has transferred to Boulder and should be eligible immediately, due to the same graduate program loophole that allowed Jeremiah Masoli to startfrom Day 1 at Ole Miss. But don't expect Gray to show up at all on Colorado's quarterbacking depth chart, much less challenge Hansen; he's expected to help fill in the Buffs' depeleted corps of wideouts.)
Posted on: March 24, 2011 10:52 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Other than perhaps "mediocre," over the past couple of years no adjective has been used more often to describe Colorado's football program than "cash-strapped ." And with a raft of buyouts and new contracts to pay for in the wake of Dan Hawkins' dismissal (and Jon Embree's hiring), not to mention the cost of the switch from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, gridiron money in Boulder is still as scarce as ever.
So maybe it's no surprise the Buffs are exploring one of football's most time-honored strategies for a quick injection of cash: renaming the stadium after someone willing to give them an awful lot of money , as the Boulder Camera reports:
The University of Colorado is discussing a deal for the naming rights to Folsom Field with at least one Colorado-based company, athletic director Mike Bohn confirmed ...
Premature or not, one potential partner-slash-naming effort has been reveealed all the same, as the following snapshot appeared Tuesday on the Colorado message board AllBuffs.com:
That's an image of a Frontier Airlines jet behind the "Frontier Stadium" banner on the Folsom Field video board there. So we'd say it's a pretty safe bet that the Colorado-based air carrier is a primary candidate for the naming rights; the Camera reported the image was placed on the board to give visiting Frontier executives an idea of how the name might look. (And now, thanks to the leak, everyone knows how it might look.)
If the deal is done, obviously, that'll be great news for a Colorado program that needs the money, and the proposed "Folsom Field at Frontier Stadium" moniker is at least more palatable than simply ditching the Folsom Field name that's graced the venue since 1944 .
That said, it's still just one more way the economics of major college football is making our sport more and more similar to its professional counterpart. Here's to hoping the expected deal in Boulder is the end of a trend rather than the start of one.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 5:54 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
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 Colorado, who opens spring camp today.
Spring practice question: How will the Buffs look under new coach Jon Embree?
The short answer is they won't look anything like the team that went 19-39 under Dan Hawkins. The long answer depends on how quickly the team can adapt to a new head coach and a new conference, neither of which should be an easy transition.
Embree, a former Colorado player and assistant, has already started to leave his mark on the program. One of the first things he did after wrapping up his first recruiting class was announce that several traditions would be returning to a school with a rich history full of them.
"There's been a lot of great traditions around here that have been swept under the rug and they're coming back," he said in a rousing speech at Colorado's recruiting luncheon after signing day. "And it starts with Hawaii."
While the first game is a few months away, the goal is clear for a program that was known mostly for failing to live up to the high expectations of Hawkins. There's several on-field adjustments Embree has already started to implement, starting with installing a west coast offense. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will have a few tools to work with, including returning starter Tyler Hansen and transfer Brent Burnett at quarterback. Also returning is senior tailback Rodney Stewart, who is coming off his best season in three years as a starter, and several promising young backups.
The offensive line will also look different this spring but not too much. Stud left tackle Nate Solder departs to the NFL (though maybe not to the Denver Broncos based on this video). Center Mike Iltis will also miss the spring while he recovers from a torn ACL but there will be three other returning starters to help show the new guys how things are done.
Defensively is where Embree faces the most challenges. The Buffs gave up 30 points per game and were 110th in the nation in pass defense despite having possible first round draft pick Jimmy Smith starting at corner. Also gone is senior corner Jalil Brown and two players in the mix to start in the secondary are out for spring ball with injuries with the rest of the players in contention having little or no playing experience. Defensive tackles Curtis Cunningham and Will Pericak will return once again but the trick will be figuring who plays linebacker behind them with the departure of leading tackler Mike Sipili. Luckily the team won't have to learn too much scheme-wise this spring with the return of former secondary coach Greg Brown as defensive coordinator.
"We`re evolving right now," Brown told the Boulder Daily Camera. "There is no way of knowing where the thing is going to end up. Our focus right now is on spring ball and just trying to line up and play it straight and see if we can win some one-on-one battles let alone trying to out-scheme somebody."
Either way you slice though, change is in the thin atmosphere of Boulder. A new conference, a new staff and several new players are going to get their first glimpse of Colorado this spring.
Most hope the new look is a lot better on the field than before. If anything, it sure is different.
Posted on: February 26, 2011 12:42 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier this week we found out that Jon Embree and Eric Bienemy, the head coach and offensive coordinator at Colorado, both made the same base salary of $250,000. Which, compared to most college coaches at BCS conferences around the country, isn't a lot of money. Still, it was somewhat refreshing to see that a head coach like Embree could put his ego aside and accept the same salary as one of his assistants.
Still, if you happen to be Jon Embree or Eric Bienemy, first of all, thanks for reading. Second of all, stop reading here.
Newly hired Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis signed a three-year contract with the school worth $2.625 million, making him the richest assistant under coach Will Muschamp.
Weis, who came from the Kansas City Chiefs, will get $765,000 this year, then $865,000 annually over the next two years. He also received a $100,000 signing bonus and, like all Gators football coaches, gets a $10,000 supplement for wearing Nike gear.
He also will be provided with a vehicle.That's a lot of money to be an assistant coach. Though, it is understandable. Florida is a bit more invested in its football program than Colorado, and unlike Embree and Bienemy, Weis does have head coaching experience. Plus, since he spent last season in the NFL, it's going to take some money to have him return to college in the same position.
What makes this all somewhat crazier is that Weis' salary at Florida is actually more than the base pay he received while at Notre Dame. In his final year in South Bend, Weis made $650,000. Of course, that doesn't include the money he got from Adidas and for personal appearances, which brought his income to roughly $2.5 million a year.
Anyway, the moral of this story is that you should become a head coach or coordinator on the college level. Because even the low-paid ones earn $250,000 a year.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 6:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This just in: the upwards spiral of major college football coaching salaries isn't going to de-spiral anytime soon.
Your latest evidence arrived this afternoon with the release of salary information for coordinators at both Michigan and LSU. In Ann Arbor, the university has committed some $750,000 to new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison (pictured), with more than $900,000 possible in the (unlikely) event the Wolverines bring home a Big Ten championship. Mattison's contract represents an increase of almost $500,000 over Greg Robinson's approximate $270,000 in the same position last year.
In Baton Rouge, the propsed contract for new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe will match the $700,000 a year currently being paid Bayou Bengal defensive coordinator John Chavis (despite Kragthorpe's substantially thinner resume). Given that Chavis already has his deal signed and delivered, approving the same salary for Kragthorpe appears to be a mere formailty.
With their new contracts, both Mattison and Kragthorpe vault into FBS's highest stratosphere for assistant pay; in 2010, only five assistant coaches nationwide earned as much as $700,000. (Along with Chavis and Texas coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Georgia "DC" Todd Grantham, and South Carolina DC Ellis Johnson also hit that mark. It pays and pays well to be a defensive coordinator in the SEC.)
Though Kragthorpe's not about to touch Les Miles' compensation, it's possible that like Jon Embree and his offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy at Colorado , Mattison's salary won't be all that far off from his head coach's. Not only does being an FBS assistant pay better than ever, these days it pays almost as well as being your own head coach.
Posted on: February 23, 2011 5:00 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When the Colorado head coaching position first came open, one of the names mentioned most often for the job was former Buffalo running back and program legend Eric Bieniemy, running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings. So it was a minor surprise when Bieniemy came to Boulder even without being named head coach, agreeing to serve as offensive coordinator for friend and fellow Buff alum Jon Embree.
But if that friendship and the call of his alma mater helped explain Bieniemy's decision, today's release of his and Embree's salary information helps explain that much further. We're not sure how many other assistants are earning a salary fully equal to their head coach's, but now we know there's at least one, since both Embree and Bieniemy will be earning base compensation of $250,000 per year.
It's not accurate to say that Bieniemy's making the exact same amount total as his boss; thanks to a hefty extra compensation package for media appearances and the Buffaloes' annual football camps, Embree will take home some $725,000 while Bieniemy will net just a little over $500,000 (though he also received a $150,000 signing bonus). Embree also has a much higher ceiling on his final paycheck thanks to a number of big-money incentives (which, as Gene Chizik can tell you , can sometimes pay off handsomely).
All together, the package is enough to give both Embree and Bieniemy salaries competitive within the Pac-12. (The odd distribution of the income in the contracts does raise the question if they were structured to somewhat obscure their true compensation at the cash-strapped university.) But when all is said and done, that Embree and Bieniemy have the same number at the top of those contracts will still give them a head coach-assistant relationship unique in the world of major college football. Now we'll see how well that relationship will work out for the downtrodden Buffs.
Posted on: February 5, 2011 4:24 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Colorado finds itself in one of the bigger financial pickles in major college football, needing to pay: a buyout to the Big 12 after having secured their jump to the Pac-12; any and all buyouts for dismissed head coach Dan Hawkins and his former assistant coaches; the salaries of new coach Jon Embree and his assistants under their new contracts and potential signing bonuses. Not only that, but the Buffs will have to do all of that on a budget that was already described as one of BCS football's most stretched.
But the Buffs got some good news this week, as Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said that though the Buffs would have to wait a year to get a full share of the conference's television payouts, their first season in their new league home will net the program something (emphasis added):
Scott added -- and clearly, the Buffs brass would agree -- that the Buffs will eventually profit by making the move, since the money shelled out by ESPN for the new Texas network suggests that the market will pay handsomely for the new Pac-12 contract (which will go into effect for the 2012-2013 season once signed). And thanks to the initial agreement with Fox, Colorado can even pick up "several million dollars" while they wait.
Until then, the Buffs are still going to be digging out of a financial hole, one that's going to make an already-difficult transition to the Pac-12 under a new coaching staff even more difficult. But they can take heart that even if their new conference brethren "didn't guarantee them" a cent for 2011, they appear nonetheless committed to helping the Buffs out of that hole as best they can.