Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:03 pm

Spring game attendance snapshot

Posted by Chip Patterson

Ahhh, the joy of spring games.  We spend all season shuffling depth charts and breaking down scrimmage numbers building up to one final display to wrap up spring practice.  In some cases, the games are creatively shaped to highlight the competition at each position.  In others the "game" is not much more than a highly-publicized practice.  Regardless of your personal opinions on spring games, their status has grown over the last decade as more schools find ways to get their spring product into the national spotlight.  Many schools have completed their spring practice after this weekend, and CNBC's Darren Rovell assembled a partial attendance report of some of the most notable schools.

Here is a list of the attendance at some of the spring games from colleges that do release the figures. This list is hardly complete, as most schools don't put out an official attendance number.
Alabama: 92,310
Nebraska: 66,784
Florida State: 53,818
Auburn: 53,209  
Florida: 51,000
Georgia: 43,177
Arkansas: 42,000
Mississippi State: 36,357
Tennessee: 35,891
Texas: 29,541 
South Carolina: 29,451
Mississippi: 28,000
Notre Dame: 27,863
Clemson: 27,000
Oklahoma: 25,598
LSU: 25,032
Texas A&M: 16,500
Oklahoma State: 16,000
Colorado: 15,655
North Carolina: 15,500
NC State: 13,139
Texas Tech: 12,400
Missouri: 10,000
Arizona: 4,500
Iowa State: 4,000
Baylor: 3,500

In the big picture these numbers really don't mean a whole bunch.  After all, 11 of the 25 teams in the final AP Poll of last season reported less than 17,000 in attendance at their spring game.  Among them was No. 2 Texas Christian (7,500), No. 4 Stanford (4,000), No. 11 Nevada (1,500), and No. 13 Oklahoma State (7,000).  There is obviously more hype around the team this go-around in Stillwater, but the point remains nonetheless.  

Hype around spring game has become a measure of program prominence, whether we like it or not.  Impressionable high school recruits want to play every down on national television, and it looks as though we are headed that way.  Teams that deliver big crowds and national television for scrimmages seem like good places to get noticed, and every angle counts in the recruiting game.  

Posted on: April 15, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: April 15, 2011 11:30 am

Brian Kelly cracks jokes at Butch Jones' expense

Posted by Chip Patterson

In the last decade or so, the art of the "roast" has become more and more popular as a structured way to both honor someone/something and completely obliterate all attendees with humor.  Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly recently was one of the guests of honor at "The Roasting of Jeff Ruby" in Cincinnati.  Ruby, one of the city's most recognizable resturaunteurs, put himself on the hot seat Thursday night to raise money for the Ohio Cancer Research Associates.  The guest list was pretty impressive, including Kelly, Marvin Lewis, Dusty Baker, NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung, as well as Hall of Famer Marty Brennaman, former Oakland Raiders star and Super Bowl Champ Phil Villapiano and Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.  Also a guest of honor was current Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones.  When Kelly took the podium, he decided to have a little fun at the expense of his Bearcats' successor.

“I had a steak named after me at The Precinct. It was 12 ounces, and I thought that was fitting for someone who went 12-0," Kelly joked to the crowd.  "But I’m no longer on the menu… So Jeff and I cut a deal. He said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do for you. How about if I cut Butch Jones’ and Marvin’s steak down to 4 ounces, since they only won four games?’ ”

Obviously the jokes were all in good fun, and the event was for a good cause.  Jones succeeded Kelly not only at Cincinnati, but also at Central Michigan.  Jones also served as Kelly's offensive coordinator in 2004, Kelly's first year with the Chippewas.  Marvin Lewis reportedly was the hit of the roast, breaking out a PowerPoint presentation of all the notables at the event and delivering clever one-liners for each.  When Lewis was questioned about his photoshopping skills, he simply replied: "I've got a little time on my hands."
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 12:18 pm

AD Keith Tribble: UCF will be in a BCS league

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While the Big East and Villanova continue passing notes in class and asking their friends whether or not the other one likes them, or if they really, really like them, UCF sits in the back of the class waiting her turn. UCF wants to go to the dance too, you know. She's got herself a very lovely dress, and it has grown through her awkward teenage faze. While UCF isn't drop dead gorgeous, she's still a solid 7, and should be getting more attention from the popular boys in school.

But will she?

Well, ever the reassuring parent, UCF athletic director Keith Tribble wants UCF to know that even if its day doesn't come this year, there will be other dances, and UCF will be going.

Athletic director Keith Tribble says no matter what happens with the Big East, the Knights are going to get into an automatic-qualifying BCS league.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Tribble said on our critically acclaimed Open Mike radio show earlier this week.

Of course, it’s the “when” that has UCF fans worried. They fear, and rightfully so, that if the Big East goes in another direction, it could be years before another opportunity to join a BCS league opens up.

Then again, all the Knights can do is what they’re doing right now: Winning on the field, graduating players and fielding championship-caliber teams in a number of sports.

“This program is trending the right way and doing the right things,” Tribble said. “We can’t stop doing the things we need to  do to make this program great.”

The common perception is that if the Big East does pass on adding Villanova to its football conference then UCF would be the next choice. It makes sense in that the program is on the rise, and it would give the conference another school in the state of Florida which could help recruiting for everyone. What I wonder is if the Big East does choose Villanova, then what BCS conference does Tribble see UCF joining?

The ACC and SEC would be the only other logical choices geographically, though I'm not sure what geography has to do with anything anymore considering TCU is now in the Big East. Still, I don't see the ACC or SEC expanding or replacing teams at any point in the near future, so I'm not sure they'd be an option for UCF. Really, the only options I see the school having would be if the Big East eventually expands to twelve teams, or if the Big 12 decides to go back to twelve. 

Posted on: April 13, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 12:09 pm

Professors ask Justice Dept. to investigate BCS

Posted by Chip Patterson

A group of law and economics professors have pulled together to ask the United State Department of Justice to investigate the BCS antitrust law.

According to the Wall Street Journal , 21 different professionals signed a letter to the DOJ that accuses the BCS of securing access and revenue for its favored members. A copy of the letter was provided to the WSJ , who reported on the professors' argument .

The professors claim that the BCS's control of access to the most important postseason games shields major-conference schools from competition and injures schools in the five non-major conferences, whose champions aren't guaranteed a BCS berth and have never appeared in the BCS title game. Consumers also are being harmed, the professors allege, because college football's lack of a playoff limits output. "Consumers aren't getting what they want," said Dan Rascher of the University of San Francisco.
This is not the first time that efforts have been made to get the government involved with the BCS. Over a year ago the department claimed they were determining whether or not to investigate the BCS, since then there has been no official action taken.

"We have not heard anything from anyone at Justice," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said . "We believe that's because they have concluded that the BCS does comply with the law."

The fairness of the BCS has only come under more heat recently with the firing of Fiesta Bowl president John Junker over allegations of financial improprieties. With more stories leaking out about lavish spending and gifts for BCS bowl officials, the squeaky clean facade of the BCS has been wiped away from their public image.

The Fiesta Bowl scandal is far from completed, and my guess is the events from the last six months may be enough to induce some changes in the structure. But if the BCS' "answer" is to switch out the Fiesta for the Cotton Bowl, there will still be much more work to do before the flaws are fixed. This letter from top law and economics professors won't get the job done alone, but at least it is a start.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 5:19 pm

Report: Michael Floyd will not be suspended

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you happen to be a Notre Dame fan, I've got some pretty good news for you. According to Irish Illustrated, a website that Notre Dame would not be allowed to look at, wide receiver Michael Floyd will not be suspended for any games this season. At least, not by the school's Office of Residence Life board. Which comes as a relief to Irish fans who had been living in fear that Floyd may not be playing in South Bend this fall.

Multiple sources told Irish Illustrated on Friday that Floyd's punishment handed down by the Office of Residence Life did not include a suspension of any games but will include community service. Floyd's initial hearing with ResLife was last week, followed by today's deliberations.

It is unclear when Brian Kelly will reinstate Floyd to the team or if the head coach could suspend the receiver for games in addition to the punishment handed down by ResLife.

Floyd had been suspended indefinitely by Notre Dame following a DUI arrest, his third alcohol related arrest since 2009. Considering some of the decisions that the Office of Residence Life has handed down to repeat offenders in the past, the idea that Floyd might miss the entire season was not out of the question.

Losing Floyd would have been a huge blow to the Fighting Irish, as he is already the school's all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 28, and he broke that record in only three seasons. That doesn't even factor in the time he missed during his freshman and sophomore seasons due to injuries. Floyd will also begin the 2011 season only 9 receptions short being Notre Dame's all-time leader in that category, and is 169 yards shy of breaking that school record as well.

In other words, he's somewhat important to the Notre Dame offense.

Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 4/8

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.


1. It's not easy for a school like Mississippi State to keep up with the Joneses of the SEC when it comes to the facilities arms race ... but $12 million worth of private donation sure helps. The artist's rendition of the future "Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex" (which will house practice fields a weight room, coaches' offices, etc.) looks like so:

2. It sounds like new Colorado coach Jon Embree isn't wasting any time reshaping the Buffaloes roster. Though a round of cuts (unfortunately) isn't exactly unprecedented for a new coaching administration, it will be interesting to see if there's any pushback from the Boulder media or academic types over his cancellation of scholarships for "effort"-related reasons that seem to straddle the "violation of team rules" line.

One player who won't mind Embree's arrival regardless: Buff kicker Justin Castor, who watched Dan Hawkins burn his redshirt last season to attempt just one field goal.

3. Unlike most sports teams, when choosing a design for their Rose Bowl championship rings, TCU went reserved, classy, tasteful :

Or, perhaps, the opposite of that. (Not that they don't deserve rings that would fit around this blogger's wrist, of course.)

4. After the success of last year's Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field (and that in the face of the "offense only faces one way" debacle), it's no surprise that the Boston Red Sox would consider hosting a college football game of their own at Fenway Park. Though such a game is still just a twinkle in the Sox executive's eye at this stage, it's no surprise that Boston College fans would like to volunteer their team's services.


Cal receiver Tevin Carter has left the Bears program citing a lack of interest in football; Carter did not catch a pass last season ... "Top-level donors" at Arizona State are getting a sneak peek at the team's new uniforms ... Minnesota signee Peter Westerhaus suffered a skull fracture and received 50 stitches after being hit in the face by a boulder on a family hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. He'll be fine for fall practice, though ... Staying with the Gophers, a bill to allow alcohol sales in TCF Bank Stadium's "premium seating" has made it through committee ... The intensity of the Iron Bowl rivalry extends itself to a gymnastics meet, not that you should be surprised by that ... And speaking of Auburn, reserve linebacker Jessel Curry and reserve safety Ryan Smith are not currently with the Tigers during spring practice, though the door to their return doesn't sound closed yet ... And speaking of Alabama, here's 50 photos (!) illustrating the process (pun intended ) of bringing the Tide's new Nick Saban statue to, uh, life ...  A useful look at the SEC's overall athletic program program margins, of which football is obviously the largest part ... Things got feisty at Texas A&M's practice this week ... The most in-depth 2011 preview of UL-Monroe you're going to find, courtesy of new stats-loving blog Football Study Hall .

Posted on: April 7, 2011 10:00 pm

TCU wraps up spring practice

Posted by Bryan Fischer

FORT WORTH, Texas - Amid the construction at Amon G. Carter Stadium, TCU wrapped up their own reconstruction project Thursday afternoon, finishing spring practices in an up-tempo two hour session at the Horned Frogs' home field.

"We got better," head coach Gary Patterson said. "Now we'll see how much better is."

TCU lost 14 starters from their Rose Bowl-winning 2010 team. Linebacker Tank Carder, expected to be the heart of the defense next year, was limited most of the spring while recovering from surgery but wore a red jersey normally reserved for quarterbacks and practiced in non-contact situations. Despite Carder's absense, the biggest issue of the spring might have been to find a replacement for All-American safety Tejay Johnson and figure out the rest of the secondary. In addition to senior Johnny Fobbs, sophomore Trenton Thomas and redshirt freshman Sam Carter both looked ready to handle the added responsibilities.

"I don't know if we're good enough to win but we got a lot better at the safety position," Patterson said. "I thought the young safeties, there was a sophomore and the rest of them were freshmen, did a great job. Running the defense, all the things we do, they did a great job. We have to keep getting better at corner and the linebackers, we should be good there with everyone coming back."

Sophomore defensive end Stansly Maponga looked good during team drills for the Horned Frogs and junior Jeremy Coleman looked quick inside at tackle. The defensive line might actually be the strength of the team if they can figure out a few things before taking on Baylor in the opener.

"With the defensive line, we have to keep getting stronger and better inside at the tackle position," Patterson said. "With the first front, we have a chance to be better than we were a year ago."

Sophomore starting quarterback Casey Pachall looked sharp and clearly had a better grasp of the offense than backup Matt Brown. Pachall threw several very nice passes and didn't mind tucking it and running with it when the pocket started to collapse. With just two quarterbacks on the roster at the moment, Patterson pointed to the offensive line as the only thing stopping TCU from continuing their run atop the Mountain West in their final season in the conference.

"On offense, I think the whole thing comes down to the offensive line progressing and being what we need it to be," he said. "We've got our motto of do it now. Everybody thinks we need a year to grow up but our goal is to come back and win a lot of ball games and do it now."

TCU's 2011 schedule was released earlier in the day and features the team playing three times on CBS Sports Network in their final season before moving on to the Big East in 2012.

Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 2:43 pm

Eye on CFB Recruiting Review, 4/7

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Once a week, our Eye on College Football Recruiting Review recaps the past week's top headlines from our sister blog, Bryan Fischer's Eye on Recruiting. Enjoy:

  • The big news in recruiting this week was the release of most services' initial "top 100" lists for the class of 2012, and Tom Lemming and our colleagues at Maxpreps were no exception. The full Tom Lemming top 100 is now available, topped by Springfield (Mo.) receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Eye on Recruiting breaks down the main storylines within the top 100 here; Bryan Fischer discusses the top 100 in a must-listen podcast here; and the recruitment of the list's top 10 prospects (Green-Beckham included) is updated here. There's no better time to get informed on where the 2012 recruiting cycle stands.
  • None of those lists are as full of names as the SEC's, though, with no league save the Big 12 having embraced early commitments the way the SEC powers have; Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Florida all have five pledges or more and only Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have yet to add their first name of the cycle.
  • This is not old news: Malcom Brown has committed to Texas. But this time it's not five-star running back Malcolm Brown (who famously joined the Longhorns this past Signing Day,) it's a highly-regarded defensive tackle out of Brenham (Texas), one who Longhorn sports information workers are no doubt very glad spells his first name without a second "L." 
  • Recruiting in the Bluegrass State is heating up. Charlie Strong has flexed his muscle over the past year at Louisville, but last week it was Joker Phillips who fought off the Cardinals as well as Cincinnati and others) for in-state quarterback Patrick Towles. 
  • It took a little longer than expected, perhaps, given the Ducks' tremendous 2010 season. But Oregon is on the board all the same after receiving a pledge from Newport (Ore.) athlete Oshay Dunsmore. Staying in the Pac-12, Stanford has continued Jim Harbaugh's nationwide recruiting push under David Shaw, netting a commitment this week from Virginia defensive back Alex Carter. 
  • Bryan Fischer was on hand to watch Atwater (Calif.) defensive tackle Aziz Shittu dominate the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp; here's his full report on Shittu's performance and all the goings-on at the camp.
One more reminder: if you don't want to wait for these Monday recaps, simply read Eye on Recruiting . You'll be glad you did. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com