Tag:Big East
Posted on: January 18, 2011 3:34 pm

Headset Reset: the Big East and Mountain West

Posted by Tom Fornelli

"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in the Big East and Mountain West


Why him? Because Mike Haywood got arrested two weeks after he was hired. Also because Graham put together some successful offenses at Tulsa. For 2011, Graham needs to: build a strong offense without the services of Pitt's two best offensive players Jonathan Baldwin and Dion Lewis.  Luckily for Graham, Dave Wannstedt recruited good players to Pitt, but Graham will have to mold them to his offense. By 2014, Graham will need to have: won a Big East title and taken the Panthers to a BCS bowl.  Dave Wannstedt won more games than he lost at Pitt, but it was the lack of a conference championship in a weak conference that ultimately led to his dismissal.  Chances Graham gets what he needs? I'd say they're pretty good. Weak conference or not, Pitt is still in a BCS conference and has the resources to win in college football.  Of course, by the time Graham has his stamp on the program, TCU will be a Big East member, so it won't be easy.


Why him? Have you seen West Virginia's offenses under Bill Stewart the last few seasons?  Nothing like a Mike Leach disciple who helped put together one of the best offenses in the country at Oklahoma State to infuse life into a dormant scoreboard.  For 2011, Holgorsen needs to: bid his time, let Stewart finish his final season, and start getting his offense ready for his ascension in 2012. By 2014, Holgorsen will need to have: won a Big East title and improve the Mountaineers offense enough so that it once again resembles the teams Rich Rodriguez put together.  He'll also need to find a quarterback better suited for his system than Geno Smith. Chances Holgorsen gets what he needs?  They're very good.  Even with the program's struggles under Stewart, they still competed for the Big East title.


Why him? Well, it came as a bit of a surprise.  Pasqualoni hasn't been a head coach or coached on the college level since 2004, spending the time in between in the NFL.  Still, the last time he was a head coach he was a rather successful one at Syracuse in the Big East.  So he knows what it takes to win in this conference.  For 2011, Pasqualoni needs to: silence the doubters.  We know that Pasqualoni can coach, but will the lay off and his age (he'll be 62 when UConn kicks off its season) prove to be too much for him?  By 2014, Pasqualoni will need to have: maintained what Randy Edsall started at UConn.  I'm not sure he'll have to win a Big East title to keep his job, but at the least he'll have to continue to build the program for his eventual successor.  Chances Pasqualoni gets what he needs?  Not great, but not terrible.  UConn has always been a basketball school first and foremost, but who knows how a trip to the Fiesta Bowl will affect the schools interest in building a winning football team?

ROCKY LONG, San Diego State

Why him?  Because Brady Hoke left, and had built something at SDSU that Long was a part of.  The school didn't want to risk losing any momentum by starting a coaching search. Plus, Long has head coaching experience from his time at New Mexico.  For 2011, Long needs to: continue the rise that Hoke started.  Since Marshall Faulk left for the NFL, the Aztecs weren't exactly a football powerhouse before Hoke came along.  The good news is that Long inherits some talent in Ronnie Hillman and Ryan Lindley. By 2014, Long will need to have: kept San Diego State competing in the Mountain West.  With Utah, BYU and TCU leaving, the conference becomes a lot easier to win.  Chances Long gets what he needs?  Not great.  San Diego State just doesn't have the established history to make me think they'll do whatever it takes to help Long build this team into a powerhouse.  What Long will have working for him, however, is the fertile recruiting base of southern California.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 10:51 pm

UConn hires Paul Pasqualoni over Mark Whipple

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Earlier, we reported that there were strong indications that Connecticut was looking to hire ex-Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple as its new head coach. And while Whipple did end up being one of the finalists for the job vacated by Randy Edsall two weeks ago, the Boston Globe reported today that UConn has hired former Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni instead.

Pasqualoni, 61, compiled a 107-59-1 record at Syracuse from 1991 to his firing in 2004, and while those numbers are fine -- winning 100 games at the I-A level is no trivial feat -- TNIAAM rightly notes that the program diminished in quality under him; two of Pasqualoni's 10-win seasons came in his first two seasons with the team, and his only three non-winning seasons were his last three. Since his firing, Pasqualoni has been an assistant in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys , then the Miami Dolphins , then the Cowboys again (briefly) this season.

What this means for Whipple is unclear, other than that he won't be on the sidelines at Connecticut this season; he was not retained by new Miami coach Al Golden after Randy Shannon was fired, so it's not as if Whipple's still got a job to come home to. Whipple was a successful head coach at Massachusetts and other smaller programs, and he has assistant experience both at Miami and in the NFL. His skill set is still impressive, and at 53, he's got plenty of miles left on him. It's just up to him to convince a new team that his Hurricanes' offensive struggles were aberrations and not indications of larger strategic shortcomings in Whipple's game-planning.

Posted on: January 11, 2011 3:08 pm

Report: Mark Whipple to be next UConn coach

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Hey, did you know that there are other coaching searches going on right now besides the one at Michigan?  I'm serious, there are!  UConn still needs to find a head coach since Randy Edsall decided to leave following the Fiesta Bowl and take over for Ralph Friedgen at Maryland.  Though it's starting to look as though the job vacancy in Storrs has been filled.

Reports out of Florida say that former Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, now out of a job following the firing of Randy Shannon and hiring of Al Golden, will be named the new head coach at UConn.

If the reports turn out to be correct, and the 53-year old Whipple lands the UConn gig, it will be his first head coaching job on the FBS level, and his first head coaching job anywhere since he left UMass in 2004.  While at UMass he won a Division-IAA national championship in 1998.  Whipple has spent the last two seasons as Miami's offensive coordinator, assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.  After a nice 2009 season that saw the Hurricanes score the most points they had in a season since 2002, things took a big step backwards in 2010.  Of course, that could be the fault of Jacory Harris throwing interceptions like they were going out of style more than it was Whipple's offensive system.

Either way, to lose a job as an offensive coordinator only to find yourself getting a job as head coach at another BCS program is a pretty nice turn of events for anybody.
Posted on: January 10, 2011 5:44 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 6:00 pm

Reports: Todd Graham 'a done deal' with Pitt

Posted by Adam Jacobi

According to Fox 23 out of Tulsa, the next Pittsburgh football coach will be Todd Graham of Tulsa. Fox 23 reports that while Graham's hiring has yet to be announced, it is a "done deal" and he will depart for Pittsburgh later this evening.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confirms this report, reporting that Graham and Pitt have come to terms on a deal and will be announcing the hiring tomorrow. It's likely that the announcement may come later today, considering the pressure such reports put on athletic officials who are being asked constantly for confirmation, but Pitt's current plan is to take care of the formalities on Tuesday.

At any rate, this report likely dismays Panther fans who had been holding out hope for Tom Bradley , the longtime Penn State assistant who was the early favorite for the job. Bradley did interview with Pitt, but obviously those talks stalled at some point. It's also entirely possible that Pitt AD Steve Pederson just plain liked Graham better as a candidate (rather than, say, getting hung up on money with Bradley), but those specifics will have to come from Pederson.

Bradley is also interviewing with Connecticut this week, as the Huskies look to replace Randy Edsall after his move to Maryland a week ago.

Posted on: January 8, 2011 12:35 pm

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Basics: Nevada (12-1) vs. Boston College (7-5), Jan. 9, 9 ET

Why You Should Watch: What?  Do you want kids to starve or something?  We're trying to fight hunger here, people.  With football.  Didn't you know that when you're starving, by watching football and diverting your body's attention, you keep it from eating itself.  It's real science, look it up, I swear. Okay, so maybe the science is a little off, but there's still some other reasons to watch this game.  First, it features a Nevada team that beat Boise State earlier this year and won the WAC.  The Wolfpack aren't a bad team, and quite frankly, they're a fun team to watch.  Finally, there's the fact that after this game, there's only one game left on the schedule.  Get in one more college football game while you can, before the long, dark summer creeps in.

Keys to Victory for Nevada: The key to victory for Nevada is very tall and skinny, and when he runs, he reminds me of an ostrich. His name is Colin Kaepernick, and he's one of the more exciting quarterbacks in college football that a lot of people have never really had a chance to see.  Just like in every game Nevada plays, how The Ostrich goes, so goes the team.  And he could be facing one of his biggest tests of the season.
Kaepernick and the Wolfpack have one of the best rushing attacks in college football.  In fact, they're ranked third nationally with 305.9 yards per game.  Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua lead the attack.  Well, in this game, they'll be going against the top rush defense in the country, as Boston College has only allowed 80 yards a game on the ground.  Finding a way to be successful on the ground will be pivotal for the Wolfpack, because even though Kaepernick has improved as a passer, I'm not sure you want him being forced to drop back and throw too many times.  Particularly when he's most effective throwing off of play action.

Keys to Victory for Boston College: The Eagles offense has been unreliable all season, scoring a meager 18.9 points a game.  So, obviously, if Boston College is going to win this game, it can't afford to get into a shootout.  Which means that the defense is going to have to stifle the Nevada ground game to have any shot.

Which means that the linebacking trio of Luke Kueckly, Mark Herzlich and Kevin Pierre-Louis will have to once again step up and keep the Eagles in this game.  Of course, you can't win if you don't score points, so Boston College's offense will have to do something when it has the ball.  The good news for BC is that running back Montel Harris is expected to play in this game after missing the last few weeks of the regular season with an injury.  He's only 126 yards shy of becoming Boston College's all-time leading rusher.  If Boston College wants to win this game, they're going to need Harris to set that mark.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is like: that potato chip you dropped on the ground without even noticing.  You've spent the last few hours watching television with that bag of chips in your lap.  Now the bag is empty, but you're still hungry.  That's when you notice the chip sitting on the floor.  It's got some lint on it, but still, you wonder.  "Do I have another bag of chips in the cupboard?"  No, and you don't plan on going shopping for more food right now either.  So are you going to eat that chip?  You're not sure how long it's been sitting there, and you haven't vacuumed in a while, so who knows what's gotten on to that thing since it's been down there.  But you're hungry.  What do you do?  Are you going to eat it?
Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:37 pm

Report: Pitt interviewing Tulsa's Graham

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Wednesday brought quite a flurry of rumors about Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and the head coaching job at Pitt.  First he was the new head coach, then he wasn't.  Then he was texting his former players to let him know he was taking the job, and then he wasn't sending his players anything.  Here we are a day later, and Pitt still doesn't have a new head coach.

Will it end up being Bradley, we don't know.  What we do know, however, is that according to a report on Pantherlair.com, Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson wasn't even in Pittsburgh to be interviewing Bradley.  No, apparently he's in Atlanta to talk to Tulsa head coach Todd Graham.
According to sources, Pederson was in Atlanta meeting with Tulsa head coach Todd Graham.
Graham, 46, was interviewed in Pitt's first coaching search of the 2010-11 offseason, but multiple sources have confirmed that financial issues prevented him from moving further in the process. He is currently believed to be making more than $1 million annually at Tulsa. 
The report also says that Alabama assistant head coach Sal Sunseri has interviewed with Pitt as well this week.

Graham has been at Tulsa since 2007, and has gone 36-17 in those four seasons, and has had three seasons with at least 10 wins.  He has no experience coaching at Pitt, but he did spend a few years as an assistant at West Virginia.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 12:06 pm

Very good news about Eric LeGrand

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In October, Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was covering a kickoff against Army when he took a hit.  A hit that left him paralyzed and doctors suspected would keep him from ever walking again.  Since then, however, LeGrand has been making progress in his recovery.  Doctors have changed the diagnosis of his paralysis to incomplete, and he's been able to breathe on his own without a ventilator since late November.

Which is great news, but the news seems to keep getting better for LeGrand.  According to the Newark Star-Ledger, LeGrand now has movement in his shoulders and "full sensation" throughout his body.  He previously only had feeling in his hands.

All of which is fantastic news for LeGrand, his family, Rutgers and college football fans in general.

LeGrand recently gave his first interview since being paralyzed, and it will be aired on ESPN on Friday morning.  In the interview LeGrand said that when he was carted off the field during that October game, he wanted to give the crowd a thumbs up, but felt like "1,000 pounds was on his thumb."

Posted on: January 4, 2011 2:40 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 3:41 pm

Details on Mike Haywood's arrest emerge

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that Mike Haywood no longer has to worry about running the football program at Pitt, he can concentrate all his time and energy on his upcoming court case following his arrest for domestic assault last week.  Since being released from jail, Haywood hasn't had a whole lot to say about the case publicly, just that his arrest "wasn't fair" and "the truth will eventually come out."

Well, the truth, at least according to the police reports, has come out.  Haywood pled not guilty in court on Monday, and a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pieced together what went on at Beth Marriott's -- the mother of Haywood's one-year old son -- home in South Bend.
According to a court document, Ms. Marriott told St. Joseph County police Officer Diana Landry on Friday that she was angry with Mr. Haywood because she suspected him of seeing another woman in Texas, and because he did not return home from there Thursday night as she expected. She barricaded the door to the house, she said, because Mr. Haywood had given keys to several people.
Mr. Haywood, 46, said he stayed in the South Bend Marriott Hotel on Thursday night because he could not enter his house, the document said. He forced the door open Friday, he said, later showing police a picture he took on his cell phone of a blue pole that he said barricaded the door.
Ms. Marriott said she and Mr. Haywood argued and that she decided to go to her brother's house with the child and put him in a car in the garage. Mr. Haywood, she said, attempted to take the boy out of the car and pulled her away by wrapping his arm around her neck and throwing her backward, causing her to fall on a wheelbarrow. She said she felt a pop in her neck but no pain, and her arm was "burning and tingling" but she did not know how she hurt it. Ms. Landry wrote that she saw dark red marks on Ms. Marriott's neck and jaw, a raised mark on her back and redness on her right arm, consistent with her story.
Mr. Haywood said he did not want Ms. Marriott to take the child and that he hadn't given her permission to use his car. He said he opened the back door to remove the child and Ms. Marriott tried to stop him by grabbing his shirt. He pushed her away with his arm and she fell, he said. He helped her to her feet, then called his attorney. He said Ms. Marriott's face, neck and chest turn red when she is upset.

Now, if you'll let me put on my lawyerin' pants for a moment, I can tell you that they don't fit at all.  It seems I've put on a few pounds since I wasn't in law school, which means I really can't tell you all that much about what will come from this case.  What I do know, however, is that there aren't many circumstances when a man can put his hands on a woman and come out the hero of the story.

And while hindsight is 20/20, I bet Haywood is wishing he'd called the police first before any of this had gone down.  He'd still have his job today. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com