Tag:MAC
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Roundtable: Highlights, lowlights of bowl season

Posted by Eye on College Football



Occasionally the Eye on CFB team gathers, Voltron-style, to answer a pressing question from the world of college football. Today's question is:

What game are you most excited to watch this bowl season? Which game would you rather repair a leaky faucet than be forced to watch? And what under-the-radar bowl do you think will prove surprisingly enjoyable?

Tom Fornelli: There's three games that stand out to me as must-watches. The Fiesta and Rose Bowls present a couple of interesting matchups--a battle between Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden should be a good time, and in the Rose we have two drastically different approaches to the run game. It's a classic Speed vs Strength showdown we see a lot when the Big Ten is involved.

Then there's the Alamo Bowl and what could be our last chance to see RG3 play in a Baylor uniform. Plus a game between Baylor and Washingtonshould give us plenty of points.
When it comes to games I'd like to avoid like the plague, I have to go with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Two 6-win teams playing under interim head coaches? HOO BOY. Gotta get some of that! As for the game most people probably don't care about, but could make for a very entertaining four hours, I have to go with the next-to-last game of the season: The GoDaddy.com Bowl between Arkansas State and Northern Illinois. Not exactly a glamourous matchup, but a matchup that could feature so many points and big plays, and it's likely going to come down to who has the ball last. It'll be a great way to get my last offensive fix of the season before tuning in to see LSU and Alabama trade punts.

Bryan FischerEven though it's not on New Year's Day this year, no game gets me excited like the Rose Bowl does. The pageantry, the setting, and -- of course -- the game itself are just fantastic. This year in particular is a very interesting matchup, the speed and quickness of Oregon against the smash-mouth sytle of Wisconsin. Both have something to prove: the Ducks need to win a BCS game under Chip Kelly and the Badgers are looking to forget last year's loss. It should be another great BCS game out in Pasadena.

At the complete opposite end of the scale is the Little Caesars Bowl. Detroit in the middle of winter with a 6-6 Purdue team and 7-5 Western Michigan team is not exactly glamorous. If you want an example of why we have too many bowls, this is it. The blandness of the game would be too much for anybody to sit through if there weren't a MAC team involved. The Interim Head Coach Bo... excuse me, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl isn't must-watch either.

I feel like a lot of people are overlooking the Outback Bowl this year. Michigan State was thisclose to getting to the Rose Bowl and winning the Big Ten title, but now head out to Florida with so much attention on rival Michigan and newcomer Urban Meyer that everybody has forgotten the Spartans won 10 games this year. Likewise, Georgia ran off 10 straight during the season and are looking to end on a high note after last year's ugly bowl loss. Of the BCS games, I can't wait to see Andrew Luck go against the opportunistic Oklahoma State defense.

Adam JacobiCo-signed on the MSU-Georgia game; I think that's going to be outstanding. One game that completely underwhelms me is Texas-Cal in the Holiday Bowl. I preferred the days of yore, when the Holiday matched up a defense-optional WAC team (usually BYU) against a Big Ten or Big 8/12 team and let the sparks fly. I don't see sparks with Texas or Cal, I see an interminable slog. In fact, the closest thing we've got to an old-fashioned Holiday Bowl is the TicketCity Bowl, which pits pass-crazed Houston and Case Keenum against Penn State's ferocious defense. All year long, fans have groused that Houston wouldn't be able to replicate its aerial assault against a "real" defense, and Ds don't get much realer than Penn State, which has talent up and down the lineup and depth. Of course, with PSU's spotty offense, 20 points might be all the Cougars need to score to secure a win, but even that's not a guarantee. Should be interesting to watch. In terms of fan experiences, Iowa State's Pinstripe Bowl visit to Yankee Stadium to take on Rutgers -- the closest thing to a "home team" possible in NYC -- should be beyond cool. In terms of actual football, it's probably going to be a horror show. Pass.

Chip PattersonThe first attempt at football in new Yankee Stadium was both a dream and nightmare at the same time.  The awkwardly aligned field and another in-state Big East team should make for a unique environment, but the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl will be remembered for the infamous excessive celebration penalty on the final touchdown that likely cost Kansas State a shot at overtime.  Throw two wildly unpredictable teams like Rutgers and Iowa State on the diamond, and who knows what will happen; it might not be that bad.

So in addition to the Kraft Hunger Bowl, I'll pile on with the Independence Bowl as lacking some flavor, because both teams are looking towards the future.  Missouri finished the season with three straight wins to become bowl eligible, but are on their way to the SEC and will be without star running back Henry Josey thanks to a freak knee injury.  Everett Withers will be coaching North Carolina for this one game, but with Larry Fedora already hired as the next head coach there leaves very little inspiration for the Tar Heels' staff to make this a game to build on for the future.  I could be wrong, but the Tar Heels did not show a ton of fight down the stretch, losing four of their final six games.

On the positive side, I'm looking forward to seeing Dabo Swinney and Dana Holgorsen making their first BCS bowl appearances as head coaches, and the showdown of high-octane styles should make for some fireworks in South Beach. The Rose and Cotton Bowls both seem like very intriguing on-field matchups, and I'm setting two DVR's to catch Luck and Weeden dueling in the desert. But I would rather watch the entire Big East regular season on loop for 2 days straight than watch Pittsburgh and SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl.  Pitt blatantly tried to get out of the bowl and June Jones is fresh off an embarrassing flirtation with Arizona State. No thank you, BBVA Compass. I'll put my money elsewhere. 

Jerry HinnenIt's not surprising that precious few college football fans outside of Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge seem all that pumped for a rematch of a touchdown-free 9-6 slugfest that (save for the Bryant-Denny atmosphere) played more like a lower-rung NFL game -- in its inferior second half, anyway -- than a battle between two of the best SEC teams of the past decade. If I'd had a vote, I'd have cast it for Oklahoma State, too. 

But I'm still more excited for Tide-Tigers II than any other game on the bowl slate, because this LSU team is maybe the most compelling, fascinating college football team I can remember watching. They produce fewer yards per-game than 74 other teams in the FBS (including such non-must-see attacks as UCLA's and Virginia's), but they still make for riveting viewing because of the anything-can-happen-at-anytime nature of their games. There's Tyrann Mathieu's game-swinging plays, the terror of Mingo and Montgomery off the edge, Jordan Jefferson's capacity to win or lose any game near-singlehandedly, the phenomenon that is Brad Wing and -- oh yeah -- the mad in-game tactics of Les Freaking Miles. And now this bizarre bayou witch's brew of a team takes on its deadliest rival, again, with the opportunity to become not just national champions but -- given their domination of the SEC, nonconference gauntlet, and potential twin victories over Nick Saban's best Alabama team -- one of the game's greatest champions of the past 25 years. Whether it's the "right" title game matchup or not won't make it any less historic, or thrilling.

As for which game I'm least enthused about, at least Bruins-Illini has Nelson Rosario and Whitney Mercilus going for it. Louisville-N.C. State in the Belk Bowl seems like the most average possible matchup between the most average possible teams in the most average possible BCS leagues; I figure I'll need to average a cup of coffee per quarter to make it to the end. (At least, if Victor Anderson doesn't save me). As for an under-the-radar special, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati both come into the Liberty Bowl with plenty to prove, exciting (and balanced) offenses, and one of the hotter young coaches in the game. Show me two evenly-matched up-and-coming teams at programs where bowl wins are still worth their metaphorical weight in gold, and I'll show you what should be an outstanding contest.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 4:20 pm
 

VIDEO: Miami (OH)'s dancing equipment manager

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Miami University's football team has an equipment manager named Chad. Chad likes to dance. Chad doesn't know that the Redhawks' film crew has been filming his dance moves. That's pretty much all the background information you need to know.

And yes, of course, Party Rock is in the house tonight. Why would it be anywhere else?

What we'd like to know is if there was music playing in the background or if he was just, y'know, dancing to nothing. That's an important distinction. Because if you're at a dance club and there's techno playing and someone comes up to you doing "the robot," well, they're just enjoying the music in their own way. If you're on the street and someone does that to no music whatsoever? That makes them a mime, and nobody likes a mime.

If you'd been a fan of us on Facebook, you'd have seen this video first. Follow us at the official Eye on College Football Facebook page.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 

Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:07 pm
 

Keys to the Game: New Mexico Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

TEMPLE WILL WIN IF: The Owls can control the game with their defense and a steady ground game. Even in the high-scoring MAC, Temple's defense ranked in the Top 15 nationally in total defense and trail only LSU and Alabama giving up just 13.8 points per game. Complimenting that stout defense is a Top 10 rushing attack led by First Team All-MAC running back Bernard Pierce. First-year head coach Steve Addazio has had the benefit of relying on a steady ground game to keep scores low and take the pressure off a revolving door quarterback scenario. Redshirt sophomore Chris Coyer is expected to get the start under center after injuring his throwing in the regular season finale against Kent State. Coyer served mostly as a rushing threat/change-of-pace quarterback until taking over the starting duties in the last month of the season. If Pierce and backup Matt Brown can get going early, they should be able to rack up the yards against a Cowboys defense giving up roughly 230 yards per game on the ground.

WYOMING WILL WIN IF: The Cowboys can force turnovers and create the big play on offense. Knowing Temple's strengths on defense and in the rushing game, Wyoming will need to take some shots to create explosive plays and rattle the Owls. Thankfully, their best weapon for that task seems up to the challenge. Dual-threat freshman quarterback Brett Smith shattered Andy Dalton's MWC freshman records for total offense with 3,140 yards passing and rushing on the season, earning him conference Freshman of the Year honors. Steve Addazio has gone as far as to compare Smith to a certain former Florida quarterback you might have seen in the NFL headlines recently. Defensively, the Cowboys have to find a way to disrupt Temple's rhythm by creating turnovers. Wyoming led the Mountain West in fumbles recovered and turnover margin, and will need to win that battle in claim another New Mexico Bowl win.

X-FACTOR: Adjustment to the altitude. University Stadium in Albuquerque is roughly 5,000 feet above sea level, creating an atmosphere that many athletes over time have had difficulty adjusting to in regards to getting enough oxygen during competition. With only two bowl appearances since 1979 - and the last one played in nearby Washington, D.C.- it is safe to assume Temple is not used to dealing with extraneous climate factors on a regular basis. On the other hand, Wyoming stormed back from a 28-17 fourth quarter deficit to eventually beat the Ryan Matthews-led Fresno State Bulldogs in double overtime in this same bowl game two seasons ago. As Temple's touted defense works to contain Brett Smith late into the fourth quarter, they'll need every gasp of air they can get to pull out a victory in Addazio's first season at the helm.

For much more on Wyoming and Temple, cruise over to our New Mexico Bowl Pregame and get ready for Saturday's kickoff.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 9:17 pm
 

Toledo names OC Matt Campbell new head coach

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Having guided the Rockets to an eighth-place finish in FBS total offense, Toledo offensive coordinator Matt Campbell had two choices: he could follow his former head coach Tim Beckman to Illinois, or take over as the Rockets head coach himself.

Monday night, Campbell made his choice official, electing to remain in Toledo and serve as the program's 26th head coach. At just 32 years old, the Ohio native and alumnus of powerhouse Division III program Mount Union become the youngest coach in the FBS by nearly three years over newly-hired Memphis head coach Justin Fuente.

"Honestly, there's no place I'd rather be than right here at the University of Toledo," Campbell said. "My goal and dream has always been to be a head football coach, and I think coach Beckman knew that. I think he understood that." 

Both current Rockets and recent graduates of Beckman's revitalized program praised the move.

"With how our program was being run, you don't want someone coming in and destroying the momentum that the Toledo football program is building," Arizona Cardinals wide receiver (and 2009 Rocket) Stephen Williams told the Toledo Blade. "[Campbell] has been around. He knows where everything is going. He's a lot like coach Beckman, but he knows the direction he wants to take this program in, especially offensively." 

In four years under Campbell and Beckman, the Rockets improved steadily in the win-loss column but took a pair of giant leaps forward in offensive production. After finishing 84th in total offense under previous head coach Tom Amstutz in 2008, Toledo surged all the way to 13th in Campbell's first season. An inexperienced offense meant a slide back to 74th in 2010, but Campbell turned things around to the tune of top-10 finishes in both total and scoring offense in 2011.

Campbell will still have work to do to fix an often porous defense (76th in total D) and break through to the Rockets' first MAC title since 2004. But given his offensive track record and enthusiasm for the job, he'll have at least as good a shot at it as any other candidate the Toledo administration might have selected.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Bowl Game Picks: Who Do You Like?

Posted by Chip Patterson

Every week the CBSSports.com college football staff offers our picks straight up and against the spread in the Expert Picks. But we aren't the only ones who get to offer our opinions on the outcome of the weekend's best games. In our weekly "Who Do You Like" Picks, we give you - the readers - a chance to weigh in on how you think the upcoming slate of games will play out.

After getitng your opinion on the BCS bowls last week, we move our attention to some of the high-profile non-BCS bowls in the weeks ahead.  Let us know how you think these cross-conference showdowns will play out in the days leading up to the National Championship Game.       

You can see the results of the voting every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on Inside College Football, airing on the CBS Sports Network.



Come debate your picks for the week with other college football fans at the new Eye On College Football Facebook page. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Report: Illinois is focusing on Tim Beckman

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It appears that Illinois may be close to finding a new head coach to replace Ron Zook.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois is "zeroing in" on Toledo head coach Tim Beckman.

The report says that Beckman was meeting with his Toledo coaching staff on Thursday morning and also has a news conference scheduled for Thursday afternoon in which he is supposed to talk about Toledo's game against Air Force in the Military Bowl.

Beckman does meet the criteria that Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said he was looking for in finding a replacement. He has head coaching experience having been at Toledo since 2008. He also has experience coaching under Jim Tressel at Ohio State and Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, and has strong recruiting ties in the Midwest because of it.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 11:09 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 7:19 pm
 

QUICK HITS: NIU 23, Ohio 20 in MAC Championship

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: 
If it hadn't come in the MAC Championship Game, it might have been the ugliest win of NIU's season--four turnovers, a 20-0 halftime deficit, a whole series of hare-brained penalties. But because it did come in the MAC title game -- giving the Huskies their first MAC crown since 1983, and redeeming the NIU seniors for last year's shocking championship loss to Miami (Ohio) -- it's going to go down as the prettiest victory of them all. All-MAC quarterback Chandler Harnish had far from his best game (his 31 yards rushing was his lowest total vs. any team that wasn't Wisconsin) but threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and set up the last-second game-winning field goal with the help of Perez Ashford's brilliant 27-yard reception. For Ohio, a 43-year MAC title drought will continue--and for Frank Solich, this third conference championship game loss will likely hit hardest of all.

WHY NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: Their ... defense? The Huskies have been a sieve all season after graduating eight starters from the 2010 unit, and came into Friday's game ranked 91st in total defense, 94th in scoring. But led by junior defensive lineman Sean Progar (7 tackles, 4 QB hurries) and outstanding corner Jimmie Ward -- whose fourth-quarter interception marked the official turning point in NIU's late rally -- the Huskie defense vastly outplayed their much more celebrated colleagues on the offensive side. Three first-half NIU turnovers meant that only the good work by the Huskie D (including three stops inside their own red zone) was responsible for the halftime deficit wasn't already out of reach, and only one of Ohio's six second-half drives covered any more than 13 yards. And of course, thanks to Ohio kicker Matt Weller's first miss inside of 40 yards all season, the NIU defense didn't allow a point after the break--despite the fact that any Ohio score at any time would have effectively ended the game. 

Harnish has been the star for NIU all season. But tonight, all the Huskies that really mattered played on the other side of the ball.

WHEN NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: When Matt Sims' 33-yard field goal just snuck inside the left upright on the game's final play. The Huskies might not have even needed Sims' heroics if he'd hit an earlier extra point that would have put his team ahead 21-20 instead of stuck in a 20-20 tie, but no one will mind that much now.

WHAT NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: A trip to the GoDaddy.com Bowl to face Arkansas State in what promises to be one of the best under-the-radar bowl matchups of the season. And we mentioned this is their first MAC championship game win, right, and their first MAC title in 28 years? That's a pretty big deal.

WHAT OHIO LOST: Given how many opportunities the Bobcats had to put this game to bed, this likely ranks as the most brutal of their three MAC title game losses under Solich, an out-and-out heartbreaker. They'll still head to Boise for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, but the sting of this one isn't going to start to fade by then ... if it ever does. 



Dave Doeren before-and-after photo credit: Getty
Posted on: November 30, 2011 4:52 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Sorry, Akron: Jim Tressel's not interested

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

You can't really blame Akron fans for getting their hopes up, can you? 

Jim Tressel was once a graduate assistant for the Zips, and he is more-or-less available, and he may have even been at an Akron basketball game recently. (Possibly. Maybe. Though probably not.) Given the hopeless mess the Akron program finds itself in after the recently dimissed Rob Ianello's two-year, 2-22 tenure, if we were Zips fans, we'd start a Facebook page asking the Vest to come coach our team, too.

But alas, it's not to be. Zips athletic director Tom Wistrcill said in a statement released Tuesday evening that while he had at least spoken to the former wildly successful Ohio State head coach, Tressel had told him thanks-but-no-thanks.

“While Coach Tressel has shared with us that he is not interested in coaching at Akron," Wistrcill said, "he has graciously volunteered to help his alma mater however he can during the search for our next football coach."

As reported by the Akron Beacon-JournalWistrcill had originally stated he would not be making any public statements following Ianello's firing, but that the widespread nature of the Tressel-to-Akron rumors within the Zips community had demanded a response.

Even if Tressel had been interested, however, the odds the Zips could have actually hired him were awfully long to begin with. Though not yet official, it remains highly likely that the NCAA's Committee on Infractions will punish Tressel for his role in the recent Buckeye scandals and cover-ups with a show-cause order, one that would make him all but unemployable at the NCAA level. Tressel will not be hired by anyone, Akron or otherwise, this 2011 offseason.

So where will the Zips turn instead? Paul Winters, former Zip and Akron assistant and current head coach at Division II Wayne State, is currently considered the most likely choice. Another name floated has been Toledo offensive coordinator Matt Campbell.

Photoshop of Tressel in Akron regalia via "We Want Jim Tressel for Akron Zips Football" Facebook page. Your optimism is sincerely saluted and admired, gentlemen.

For a full, updating team-by-team overview of 2011's coaching changes, check out (and bookmark) the Eye on CFB Coaching Carousel One-Stop Shop. And voice your opinion for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year by voting 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