Posted on: August 5, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 1:41 pm

Brian Kelly still not sure who his QB is

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Another college football season is right around the corner which means that now is the time of year filled with high expectations for Notre Dame. In spite of the fact that the Irish have won 9 games or more only three times since the turn of the century, Notre Dame finds itself ranked 18th in the preseason Coaches Poll that was released on Thursday. Whether it deserves that ranking or not, I'll let you decide for yourself, but it is somewhat understandable considering how Notre Dame finished the 2010 season.

That being said, Notre Dame has a recent history of not being able to live up to the expectations placed upon it, and now that he's entering his second season as head coach, the pressure on Brian Kelly is even greater. Which isn't the best feeling in the world when you're not even sure who your starting quarterback is going to be.

"If it's an ideal situation, I'd like to know who the starter is before camp," said Kelly in a press conference on Friday.

"I don’t know if there's a certain date (to name a starter) other than we're only going to use the first 19 practices for the evaluation process. We're spending two weeks on South Florida. We're gonna know going into the last 10 days who the starting quarterback is." 

Kelly also went on to say that he plans on naming the starter publicly and that there is no need to be "stealth-like." Which is somewhat funny considering that I'm not all that convinced Kelly doesn't already know who his starter is at this point. Dayne Crist is widely-considered to be the favorite seeing as how he started the first nine games of the season for the Irish last season before going down with an injury.

What's thrown a wrinkle in the process is that Notre Dame finished the season very strong under Tommy Rees, Crist's strongest competition this fall. Still, even though Notre Dame won every game Rees started, a lot of the credit for those victories goes to a defense that played fantastic down the stretch and should be even better this season given the haul of players Kelly brought to town in his first recruiting class like Aaron Lynch.

So while the job may not be Crist's yet officially, he's going to have to do a lot in the coming weeks to lose it.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 11:41 am

Oklahoma tops preseason Coaches Poll

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Just as predicted by numbers guru Phil Steele back in February, Oklahoma will begin the 2011 season ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Sooners grabbed 42 of a possible 59 first-place votes in the coaches' preseason ballot, released Thursday morning, but still hold just a 40-point lead over second-place Alabama. The Tide took 13 first-place votes, with the remaining four split evenly between No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU (who just so happen to be playing in Dallas on the season's opening Saturday). Florida State rounds out the top five, further cementing Jimbo Fisher's program as the new ACC favorites. (Virginia Tech is the next-highest ACC team at No. 13.)

Conference-by-conference, the poll features eight teams from the SEC, five from the Big Ten, five from the Big 12, two each from the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West, and one independent in Notre Dame. The Big East went unrepresented in the top 25, with West Virginia finishing "No. 27" as part of the "Also Receiving Votes" category.

Some immediate reaction:
  • When it comes to getting the benefit of the doubt, it still pays to be the biggest-name program possible. Georgia, Florida, Texas and Penn State combined for a whopping 25 losses last year, but all four still find their way into the preseason ballot as teams Nos. 21-25.
  • Despite the SEC's lofty reputation, it's the Big 12 with the top billing in the top 10. In addition to Oklahoma edging the Tide for top spot, both Oklahoma State and Texas A&M squeeze into the top 10 while only LSU joins Alabama from the SEC. The Cowboys and Aggies will have a lot to prove, as recent Big 12 dark horses like Nebraska last season and the '09 Cowboys have failed to live up to their preseason ranking.
  • Ohio State's off-season turmoil has left Wisconsin and those same Cornhuskers as the only Big Ten teams in the top 15 of the poll. Given the league's apparent parity -- the Huskers were recently named the league favorite despite coaching turnover and major losses on defense -- even that may be generous.
  • The top two teams in the final poll of 2010 slid a combined 31 spots, with national champion Auburn coming in No. 19 and No. 2 TCU checking in at No. 15. Auburn may be ranked entirely too low if you subscribe to the "champions until they lose" doctrine, and entirely too high if you believe the combination of a brutal schedule and extremely young roster will result in a struggle to even make the top 25. Which means they're probably ranked about right for a poll like this.
  • With USC ineligible and Arizona State and Utah each finishing in the "Also Receiving Votes" category, no team from the new Pac-12 South was included. Guess the "Sun Devils = divisional favorite" offseason chatter didn't mean a whole lot to the voters, just as West Virginia's status as the presumptive Big East favorite didn't. But should it really have meant less than Penn State's expected running-in-place season after a 7-6 season a year ago?
  • For that reason, this blogger will go with the Nittany Lions as the poll's most overrated team, and a tie between Nos. 13 and 14 -- Virginia Tech and loaded Arkansas -- as the poll's most underrated.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 4:02 pm

PODCAST: Top 5 running backs of 2011

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Who's in your Top 5 for the best tailbacks of 2011? CBSSports.com experts J. Darin Darst and Adam Aizer sat back down today to hammer out their top fives, and the answers may shock you!

Well okay, they probably won't shock you, unless you've got an unusual amount of hope in, say, Bryce Brown putting it all together at Kansas State.

If you don't have nine minutes to listen (which, yes you do, but whatever), here's each podcaster's top five.


5. James White, Wisconsin

4. Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky

3. Trent Richardson, Alabama

2. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

1. LaMichael James, Oregon


5. Chris Polk, Washington

4. Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky

3. Knile Davis, Arkansas

2. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

1. LaMichael James, Oregon

Briefly, I don't have a whole lot of problems with the top of either guys' list, but I think they're putting too much stock in the 2010 stats of each guy -- specifically Trent Richardson. Yeah, Richardson had only 700 yards last year, but if we're talking about 2011, he's easily a better Heisman prospect than Chris Polk or Bobby Rainey. Moreover, if you had Richardson, Polk, and Rainey in the same backfield (and keep in mind Auburn had RBs Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Brandon Jacobs in 2003, so it's not an impossibility), you're probably starting Richardson before Polk or Rainey, right?

Anyway, if they'd asked me for my five, it'd go James at the top, followed by Richardson, Lattimore, Davis, and then Rainey. Trepidation about Lattimore not handling a full workload might be fine in August, but by September or October I think it's going to be pretty obvious that Richardson is a freakish manbeast of the highest caliber. James is the best candidate for a 2,000 yard season so that's why he's my number one, but really, we're arguing about relatively small levels of difference in quality when we're talking about this highest echelon of running backs, so keep that in mind for this debate.

Who's in your Top 5? 

Posted on: August 3, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 5:31 pm

Humanitarian Bowl now Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

One of the more disturbing trends of the college bowl system recently has been the proliferation of bowl games named after things that don't go in bowls. Oranges, sugar, and roses all can go in bowls (though your roses might prefer a vase -- little gardening pro tip there). Bluebonnets, poinsettias, peaches, all fine things to put into a bowl. Even the Peach Bowl's new namesake is Chick-Fil-A, and if you're out of clean plates at home, hey, why not serve the Chick-Fil-A in a bowl? Totally fine.

But the other bowl namesakes, especially of late, have been a point of dismay. The Alamo doesn't belong in a bowl; it belongs right where it stands, on the ground. Music City Bowl? Nashville's way too big to fit in a bowl. Illogical. Independence Bowl? Independence is a concept, and concepts don't belong in bowls, they belong up here, in your mind.

Then we have this Humanitarian Bowl. Look, we can all agree that humanitarians are good folks, but you shouldn't put them in bowls, even if they're very small humanitarians, like the size of gummy bears or something. No, I don't know how they got that small, but you're the one putting them in bowls, so they must have gotten that way somehow.

Anyway, the folks up in Boise have rectified this unpleasant situation by just renaming the Humanitarian Bowl. Its new name is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl -- named by and for the main sponsor, the Idaho Potato Commission -- and that is a majorstep up. Potatoes can go in bowls, no questions asked. Especially if they're mashed.

The other details of the detail are basically the same. It's still being held at Boise State's Bronco Stadium, on the famous blue turf. It's still tied to the WAC and MAC. It'll still be on Saturday, December 17, at 5:30 EST. It's just a potato-themed bowl now, and that's fine, because let's face it: football and humanitarianism always had a tenuous-at-best relationship to begin with anyway. 

[2011-12 Bowl Schedule] 

What really sets this bowl reboot on a high level, though, is the logo, at upper right. Look at that thing. They made the football a baked potato, then put chives on it. Read that sentence again. What would you call that, a baked footato? A pigspud? Either way, Salvador Dali would be proud of your revisionist approach to reality, sirs and mesdames.

It would stand to reason, then, that there's a slightly crazy mascot that'll be at the game too. Probably an anthropomorphic potato with crazy eyes and limbs sticking out, and probably a funny hat. There's no trademark against that already, right? ...Oh.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:12 pm

You can vote for Wyoming's uniforms

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's what we know about Wyoming's opening game of the season against Weber State. The game will be on September 3rd, and it will be against Weber State. What we don't know is what uniforms that the Cowboys will be wearing during the game, but we could have a say in it.

Wyoming is holding a poll that allows fans to vote on which uniforms the school should wear in the season opener.
Head coach Dave Christensen and the University of Wyoming football team have invited Cowboy fans to help decide which uniforms UW will wear for the season opener on Sept. 3 against Weber State. Fans may vote for one of six uniform combinations and one of three helmets. Voting will conclude the week before the Weber State game, when a winner will be announced.
"Only six options?" says an obnoxious Oregon fan somewhere.

Personally I'd roll with the all brown option, including brown helmet, just because I can't think of any other team who wears nothing but brown. Plus, there's no yellow helmet, so the all-yellow option isn't available. Which is a shame.

Get to work on that, Wyoming.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 2:38 pm

Showtime, CBSSports.com to air Army-Navy series

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Without question, one of the most storied, most heralded rivalry games in college football history has been and continues to be Army-Navy. Yes, the days of Glenn Davis, Doc Blanchard, and Roger Staubach are long gone, but the legacy's still there -- as are the exemplary young men that populate each roster every year.

To that end, Showtime is teaming up with CBS Sports to produce a two-hour special on the rivalry, called A Game Of Honor, to be aired December 21 -- 11 days after the Black Knights and Midshipmen lock horns on the gridiron. Better yet, there's going to be other related programs and content about the special. Here's more info:

SHOWTIME will have behind-the-scenes access to both academies and their respective football teams for six months leading up to the Army-Navy game, as well as during the game and immediately following. With so many stories to tell, SHOWTIME will air exclusive content across multiple CBS platforms including a special preview show about the making of the docu-drama on Wednesday, November 23 on SHOWTIME; with a network television premiere of the preview show on CBS Sports on Saturday, December 3. In addition, CBSSports.com will air an exclusive 10-episode weekly original web series beginning Monday, October 17. 

Look, say what you will about the football teams themselves, but when you're talking about the actual players and what they're like off the field, it'll probably become pretty clear almost immediately that these guys are the real deal. The US Military Academy and US Naval Academy are about as prestigious as it gets, and the quality of man that comes out of those academies is the proof. On the field, we'll be seeing guys like linemen, linebackers, and running backs, but they're also future generals, CEOs, and lawmakers -- and some of the most disciplined people in America.

At the same time, we are still talking about college-aged kids, and while they're not exactly going through the "normal" college experience, they're also still learning to be adults, in a sense. Further, we're talking about young men in the military during wartime. Needless to say, that's the type of thing that weighs heavily on a lot of their minds, and so to have a game like this to act as an anchor, of sorts, to their lives over here is incredibly important. 

Moreover, the football's getting better. This isn't 20 years ago, when Navy was hapless and Army wasn't a whole lot better; Army just beat SMU (in the Mustangs' backyard) in the Armed Forces Bowl to finish at 7-6 last year, and Navy's been averaging nearly 9 wins a season since 2003. Ken Niumatalolo has been a revelation as head coach of the Midshipmen, and Army brings back nearly every starting skill position player on offense. It's probably going to be a good game regardless of what level of locker room access fans get.

So to have that and this special (and all the additional content that'll be available on this website and on Showtime) is going to be truly special. These are two of the most compelling college football programs today, and A Game Of Honor ought to be a fitting reflection of that.  

Posted on: August 3, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 12:39 pm

Boise AD talks about abandoning blue uniforms

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Earlier this week it was announced that Boise State would not be allowed to wear all blue uniforms during home games on the school's blue turf now that it was a member of the Mountain West. As you'd expect, this decision didn't go over very well with a lot of Boise State fans, as they've felt that wearing all blue on a blue turf helps the team because it works as a sort of camouflage.

A theory I've never understood all that much because last I checked, you play football on a field at the same eye-level as your opponent, not from a blimp flying above the field. Sure, maybe the blue on blue made watching game film a bit annoying at times for opposing coaches, but on the field I don't see how it could have an impact.

Still, the Mountain West asked Boise State to abandon the practice, and being the new kid on the block, Boise State agreed. Though if you were to listen to Boise AD Bob Kustra talk about it, the school might not have made the same decision if it were joining the Mountain West now.

"One thing I think people have to understand is the Mountain West we were going to had TCU, BYU and the University of Utah sitting at the table," Kustra told the Idaho Statesman. "And when I first met with TCU’s, BYU’s and Utah’s presidents, it was a pretty inspiring moment. I knew I was sitting with the top dogs of that conference.

“When they come to you and give you a bottom line, a year ago, we didn’t have a lot of elbow room. There really wasn’t much give. If that same conversation were to take place this year, I’ll guarantee you we wouldn’t be talking about no blue uniforms on the blue turf unless somebody decides how to keep green uniforms off the turf in Fort Collins and any place else where there is such.

“People tend to forget it was a different context in which this decision had to be made and we had literally minutes in which to make it in. They were clearly doing their vote.”

In other words, Boise State didn't feel as if it were the big dog at the table last year when Utah, TCU and BYU were still around. Now that those schools are gone or on the way out, Boise State would have had a bit more of that "we'll do what we want because you really need us at the moment" leverage.

Either way, no matter the timing, this is a bit too much fuss over the color of a uniform to ever have.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: August 3, 2011 12:07 pm

Michael Floyd reinstated at Notre Dame

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In a move that everyone knew would be coming eventually, but just weren't sure when, Notre Dame announced on Wednesday that wide receiver Michael Floyd had been fully reinstated to the football team.

"From the very beginning of this process, Michael knew what was expected for him to be a member of our football program," said Brian Kelly in a release.

"Based on my own observations, I am very pleased with the progress Michael has made since March. That is why I am comfortable reinstating him to our football team."

As I said, this does not come as a surprise. When Floyd was able to get by Notre Dame's ResLife disciplinary board back in April without a suspension or even a possible expulsion it was only a matter of time before he rejoined the football team. He was then cleared for voluntary summer workouts with the team over the summer.

Floyd had been arrested on March 20th for a DUI, his third alcohol-related arrest since coming to Notre Dame in 2009.

His return to the team is a huge boost to the Irish offense as Floyd is one of the best wide receivers in the country. In his first three seasons in South Bend Floyd has made 171 catches for 2,539 yards and 28 touchdowns. The 28 touchdowns are already the most by any receiver in school history, and barring an injury or another arrest, Floyd will become the school's all-time leader in receptions and yards in 2011 as well.

See video of Michael Floyd talking about his reinstatement here, as well as Brian Kelly here
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com