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Tag:West Virginia
Posted on: February 1, 2012 9:47 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 11:24 pm
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: Big East



Posted by Chip Patterson


Breaking down who won and lost in the Big East on National Signing Day

WINNER: Rutgers

Losing your head coach less than a week before National Signing Day should be recruiting suicide, but Kyle Flood was able to not only hold on to most of the Scarlet Knights' class but sign one of the top recruits in the state of New Jersey. The addition of defensive end Darius Hamilton (pictured above, No. 29 overall prospect) gives Rutgers the only Big East class in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25.



LOSER: The Big East's national stock

The Big East was not a huge player in National Signing Day this year. Much of that is likely due to the uncertain football future of the league. While schools like San Diego State and Boise State may use the future move to their advantage in recruiting, an existing Big East school cannot promise a future with a BCS automatic bid.

WINNER: West Virginia

With 27 commits in the Class of 2012, Dana Holgorsen is bringing in a healthy load of talent to the Mountaineers program. There were only two National Signing Day commitments, but both were significant additions to the class. Adam Pankey is a 6-foot-5, 290 pound offensive lineman who chose West Virginia after being committed to Pittsburgh since October 2011. Talented athlete Travares Copeland was the eighth Florida prospect in the 2012 class, a new hot spot for West Virginia apparently.



LOSER: West Virginia

Head coach Dana Holgorsen mentioned on National Signing Day that the "in between" stage of the West Virginia program as they transition from the Big East to the Big 12 hurt them on the recruiting trail. While some recruits may have heightened their interest in the Mountaineers because of the opportunity to play in the Big 12, competing schools used the ongoing legal battle as a reason to turn recruits away from Morgantown.  The Mountaineers' staff was able to keep many of the commitments they expected to sign, but it could have made West Virginia a bigger player for top prospects down the stretch.

WINNER: Louisville

Charlie Strong didn't shock anyone with a big National Signing Day surprise, but the Cardinals were able to hold on to a solid class of recruits that ranks among the best in the Big East. Strong once again dipped into the Sunshine State, pulling nearly a third of Louisville's class from the state of Florida. On a day when few Big East hats were on the table for top prospects, holding on to your commits was the best case scenario for the Cardinals.

LOSER: Syracuse

While Louisville was able to hold on to some of their prized recruits, Orange head coach Doug Marrone was not so lucky. Four Syracuse verbal commits changed their mind before National Signing Day, most notably defensive lineman Harold Brantley. Brantley, a 6-foot-3, 280 pound recruit from Hershey, Pa., committed to the Orange on June 29 but had a late change of heart after visiting Missouri this past weekend. Syracuse also lost linebacker Tashon Whitehurst, who signed with South Florida.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: January 31, 2012 11:16 am
 

Report: Big 12 to search for new commissioner

Posted by Tom Fornelli

For an interim commissioner, Chuck Neinas has seen an awful lot happen in the Big 12 since replacing Dan Beebe. Texas A&M and Missouri announced they'd be leaving the conference, and TCU and West Virginia were both brought on to replace them. Through all of this, Neinas has made it clear that he does not want to become a permanent replacement for Beebe.

Now it looks like the conference is ready to find his replacement.

Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News reports that on Thursday the Big 12's board of directors will consider a search committee to begin looking for Neinas' replacement. Exactly who the conference may consider to become its next commissioner, there's no mention in the report.

The report goes on to say that the board will also get the latest update on the "legal wrangling" between West Virginia and the Big East as the school continues its pursuit of freedom from the conference. The Big 12 still plans on releasing its schedule for the 2012 season no later than Wednesday to meet its contractual obligations to its television partners.

So since Wednesday is signing day, maybe Chuck Neinas will unveil the schedule by pulling it out of one of two hats. One hat will just have the Big 12 logo on it, and the other will have a West Virginia logo.

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 2:42 pm
 

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For all their explosive Mathieuan brilliance, LSU failed to finish the 2011 season ranked No. 1. But Phil Steele does have a small bit of good news for the Tigers: the numbers guru says that's where LSU will start the 2012 season.

For the fourth straight offseason, the preview magazine maven has projected the preseason AP top 10 based on returning starters, bowl performance, and other factors. Despite their BCS championship game pratfall, Steele expects the Tigers to open 2012 as the AP No. 1, one slot ahead of much-hyped USC.

Steele's assessment:

Last year LSU was picked 2nd in the SEC West behind Alabama and would go on to have arguably the best regular season in school history going 13-0 winning the SEC Championship and would beat EIGHT Top 25 teams! While the National Title loss to Alabama still stings, many of the Tigers’ star players return for 2012 including Heisman candidate DB Tyrann Mathieu along with their top 3 rec’s and their top 4 rushers. Throw in QB Zach Mettenberger who Miles said last year was his best pure passing QB and a home game vs Alabama and the Tigers will be the favorites to win the National Title! 

Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma round out the projected top five, with Nos. 6-10 going to Georgia, Michigan, Florida State, Arkansas and West Virginia, respectively.

Based on Steele's track record, Les Miles should go ahead and start preparing his team to wear that familiar top-ranked bullseye, at least for its opening week matchup against North Texas. All three teams pegged by Steele to earn the AP's preseason No. 1 nod have gone to do so, including Oklahoma last year. Steele has also correctly predicted 9 of 10 teams all three years of the exercise and 13 of 15 total teams in the top five. 

Which means it's not just Miles that can go ahead and start worrying about managing expectations--assuming Steele is correct (or even close to it), the Bulldogs, Wolverines and Mountaineers will all be graced with a substantially higher preseason ranking than any of those programs has faced in years. And though that's not always a recipe for disaster (look at what Oklahoma State accomplished this past season), an appearance in Steele's projected top 10 proved to be a terrible omen for other supposed up-and-comers like 2009 Ole Miss, 2010 Iowa and 2011 Texas A&M.

So we're guessing Mark Richt, Brady Hoke and Dana Holgorsen -- not to mention Jimbo Fisher and his perennially overrated Seminoles -- are all hoping that this once, Steele isn't quite as accurate as he's promised to be.

Steele also recently released a comprehensive look at the entire FBS's projected returning starters for 2012; you can read the Eye on CFB's breakdown of those numbers here.

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 12:06 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 12:50 pm
 

Neinas says Big 12 comfortable at 10

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If we've learned anything over the last few years when it comes to conference realignment and expansion, it's basically that anything can happen no matter what anybody is saying. So keep that in mind when reading these latest quotes from the Big 12's interim commissioner Chuck Neinas on the Big 12's plans in the future.

The conference's expansion committee got together last week to discuss the possibility of further expansion, and while talking to West Virginia Illustrated over the weekend, Neinas made it sound like the committee decided that 10 is enough for now.

"The Board of Directors at the time West Virginia was admitted to the Big 12 asked the expansion committee to continue to monitor the landscape of college athletics," Neinas said. "We are currently at ten and very comfortable with ten.

"As a ten team conference you play every team in the conference for football. You are not skipping any opponent. There is not that argument that someone played Oklahoma and the other guy had to play a lesser team. In basketball, it is a double round-robin, so if you lose on the road, you get the same team at home. That is very appealing to our conference membership." 

Neinas also talked about how the conference doesn't really desire having its conference championship game return.

"Unlikely that there will be a conference championship game anytime in the near future," said Neinas. "There is, not unanimous, but heavy plurality favoring not having a conference championship or playoff because that brings about divisional play and that is where you get into a debate about strength of division." 

So it seems that, for now, the possibility of the Big 12 expanding back to 12 teams and adding a school like Louisville -- the school most frequently mentioned -- and another has been tabled for now. That being said, as I made clear at the beginning of this post, these things change pretty quickly.

After all, it might just be that since the Big 12 could be finding itself in court with the Big East over West Virginia in the near future, the conference doesn't want to come out and say "oh and we're gonna take Louisville too."

Speaking of West Virginia, Neinas also made it sound as if the Mountaineers will be playing in the Big 12 next fall. The conference has to release its schedule by February 1st, and according to Neinas that schedule has already been distributed to the conference's athletic directors and West Virginia is likely on it.

"Either West Virginia [will be on it] or the Green Bay Packers and I think it is more likely West Virginia," joked the commissioner.

If it does end up being the Packers, though, I know who I'm picking to win the title next season.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:36 am
 

Chuck Neinas calls Missouri 'selfish'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas called Missouri "selfish" in an interview with the Charleston Gazette while talking about conference realignment and the Big 12's future. According to Neinas, the current lawsuit between West Virginia and the Big East as the school tries to replace Missouri probably wouldn't be happening if not for Missouri.

"The one thing that gets lost is we're in this predicament because the SEC invited Missouri," Neinas told the paper. "But the SEC was willing to play with 13 [rather than 14] next season. We made an offer to Missouri that was financially beneficial to stay for another year. Missouri made the decision not to accept.

"We had a teleconference call with those in the SEC, Big East, ACC, Mountain West and Conference USA. We all agreed we could save money and avoid litigation if all held serve for 2012-13. All agreed. But Missouri made a very selfish decision. It's been very disruptive. Missouri gave us notice in November [of 2011] and it's pretty difficult to move forward then." 

Now, while Neinas may have a point and might even be right, I must admit, I find the fact that conferences are calling schools selfish to be a bit funny. After all, it's not as if the conferences are worried about the well being of other conferences while they seek schools to join their own.

I don't think the Big 12 decided to invite West Virginia to replace Missouri because it was in the Big East's best interest.

Speaking of the Big East, Neinas had some comments for them as well.

"The Big East gets on planes and flies all over the country inviting other schools," Neinas said. "But they raise hell when West Virginia wants to come to the Big 12?"

Considering that the Big 12 is still exploring further expansion and another Big East school, Louisville, is a likely target, it's probably safe to say that the Big 12 and Big East won't be sitting at the same table in the conference cafeteria anytime soon. 

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 11:27 am
 

The Big 12 still looking to expand

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Maybe you thought conferences were done expanding after all the movement we saw before the 2011 season started. After all, nobody was shuffling the deck during the season. Then on Tuesday it was announced that Navy would be joining the Big East for the 2015 season, and it looks like the dominoes have started falling again.

According to The Chronicle (subscription), the Big 12 is once again considering expanding the conference. While nothing is imminent, two sources told the paper that the Big 12 adding at least one new member is "very possible."

That new member would likely be Louisville, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Before it was announced that West Virginia would be joining the conference, there were reports that half the schools were split on which school they wanted to extend an invitation to. Half wanted West Virginia, half wanted Louisville.

An expansion committee plans to put together a report for the Big 12's Board of Directors next week. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, and Kansas State president Kirk Schulz make up the committee. 

“I don’t want to send the message, ‘Oh, they’re getting ready to expand,’” Castiglione told The Chronicle. “But you’d be naïve to think there’s not instability still in our business.

“From a transition standpoint, we’re in position now to deal with the reality of our world. We’re going to make some evaluations and reach the best conclusion that helps us stabilize our long-term future.”

The conference seems willing to stay at 11 teams, much like the Big Ten did for years, if it adds Louisville, but if the return of a Big 12 championship game is the ultimate goal, it will have to add a twelfth school. As for which school that would be, BYU is being mentioned as a possibility again. Cincinnati has also been mentioned as an option in the past as well.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:24 pm
 

Big 12 and Big East in limbo waiting on WVU

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Eight months from now West Virginia may be playing as a member of the Big 12 conference, or it may still be a member of the Big East. Right now, we don't really know, and if you ask West Virginia's athletic director, Oliver Luck, he's not going to be of much help.

"I can't help much," Luck told The Charleston Gazette when asked. "I'm sworn to secrecy ... I'm not going to comment. My silence is all I can offer." 

This is because the situation is currently being handled by the courts. West Virginia would like to leave, but the Big East is holding the school to its contract, and until some type of settlement is reached, both the Big 12 and Big East remain in limbo. Which is causing headaches for both conferences, as The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel went over earlier this week when discussing the Big 12's scheduling problem. While Tramel's focus was on the Big 12, the Big East is facing similar problems with its schools not knowing whether West Virginia will still be on their schedules or not.

In both the Charleston Gazette story and Tramel's story, the prevailing theory is that whether the case is settled or not -- and I'd put money on it not being -- West Virginia is going to jump to the Big 12 in time for the next school year and then just suffer the consequences of that decision. Consequences that could end up costing the school quite a bit of money.

This is because even if there was a decision made in the courts on the case, the "losing" side would appeal the decision, and that appeal could take another couple of years to be settled. Another couple of years West Virginia isn't likely to sit around waiting for a decision on.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:46 pm
 

Report: Brent Venables is going to Clemson

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Finally it seems that one of the strangest coaching searches I've ever seen involving an assistant coach has come to an end. After a night of speculation that saw people reporting that Brent Venables was doing everything but running for President, it's now being reported that Venables has indeed accepted the defensive coordinator position at Clemson.

And I think it's serious this time.

The Oklahoman's Travis Haney tweeted, along with others, that Venables had confirmed to him that he's leaving Oklahoma for Clemson. 

Which should be good news for a Clemson defense that can use a tune-up. The Tigers allowed 70 points to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl and gave up 29.3 points per game during the 2011 season. Since joining Bob Stoops' staff at Oklahoma in 1999 as a co-defensive coordinator, Venables' defenses in Norman have routinely been some of the best in the country, churning out NFL players and keeping the Sooners in title contention year after year.

If he can bring that same kind of success to Clemson and the Tigers combine it with their potent offense, the school could become quite a force in the ACC.

As for why Venables would suddenly leave Oklahoma after spending the last 12 years there, it all started when Mike Stoops was brought back to the Sooners from Arizona. Rather than share defensive coordinator duties with Stoops, Venables decided he'd rather start somewhere new. He'd also been mentioned as a candidate at West Virginia since the announcement of Stoops' return.

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