Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:14 pm
 

Roundtable: College football valentines

Posted by Eye on College Football



Occasionally the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron-style to answer a pressing question in the world of college football. Today's query:

It's Valentine's Day, so pick someone or something from college football--person, team, conference, whatever. Who should they be sending a valentine to today, and what does that valentine say?

Bryan FischerI think the athletic directors at Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington and Washington State should be sending a Valentine to Larry Scott this year. The Pac-12 commissioner unveiled his Pac-12 Network studios just yesterday, and that's appropriate considering the media deals he negotiated were the biggest reason those schools were able to off the sweetheart deals that landed their new coaches. Do you think the Bruins or Huskies could have afforded the assistant salaries before that money started flowing? Or that Wazzu was able to land a coach like Mike Leach? I don't think they do.

I'm guessing their valentine says something to the affect of, "Thank$ Larry for everything, hope you'll be our Valentine for several more years."

Tom Fornelli:  I'm going to say TCU and West Virginia owe Missouri and Texas A&M a valentine this year, one with some expensively-licensed cartoon character saying "Thanks for the sloppy seconds!" If not for those two leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, then both TCU and WVU are stuck in the Big East for 2012 at least--a Big East that's without a clear future at the moment, and seems en route to becoming Conference USA version 2.0.

Instead the Frogs and Mountaineers have joined the Big 12, which is in much better shape than the Big East and will provide far more money for both schools in the long run.

Jerry Hinnen: If I'm Mike Slive, I'm sending out a valentine to Dana Holgorsen -- or maybe Gus Malzahn, or Mike Leach, or Todd Monken -- saying "WILL YOU BE MINE?" festooned with as many hearts (and dollar signs) as it takes to convince them to try their hand (again, in Malzahn's case) in the SEC. There's no doubting the SEC's dominance on the defensive side of the ball or its overall array of talent, but the 2011 season also showed a league in dire need of an infusion of offensive ingenuity, preferably (for variety's sake) out of the spread school. Alabama's yawn-inducing strangulation of LSU in the BCS title game is Exhibit A for the conference's current cloud-of-dust tendencies, but the overall statistical picture is even more damning: six different SEC teams finished in the bottom 25 in the FBS in total offense, with zero finishing in the FBS top 25. (Arkansas ranked highest at 29th.) 

Some of that is good defense; an awful lot of it is terrible offense, too. And it may get worse before it gets better--look at the likes of former offensive juggernauts Florida and Auburn, currently undergoing dramatic offensive regime changes after regressing badly in 2011.

Defense may win championships, but offense often wins TV ratings, as the BCS championship Nielsens will tell you. The SEC's current regular season ratings are fine, of course, but Slive is about to go back to the negotiating table to try and keep his TV contract up with the Joneses of the Big Ten and Pac-12, a table to which he'll want to bring every single positive for his league he can gets his hands on. The SEC will be a-OK with or without the Big 12's reputation for high-flying offensive theatrics, but that doesn't mean Slive -- and a league full of fans likely tiring of watching Tennessee and South Carolina combine for 17 points and barely more than 500 yards in nationally televised prime-time -- wouldn't welcome someone who could shake up the conference's burgeoning reputation for Slugfest-with-a-capital-S football. Kevin Sumlin gets first crack, but we're guessing Slive would prefer he had some high-profile help sooner rather than later.

Chip Patterson: If I'm Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, I'm sending roses, candy, banners, and thankful notes to new head coach Urban Meyer.  Even with an ill-timed bowl ban from the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Meyer has cooled much of the heat on Smith after the fallout surrounding Jim Tressel's departure.  Winning cures all, but hiring a two-time national champion to supposedly guide your program out of the darkness will certainly hold the Buckeye fans over until the bowl ban is lifted.  Meyer hit the recruiting trail hard after his hire, pulling in a top-5 recruiting class despite the sanctions from the NCAA.  

If Smith had whiffed on his hire to replace Tressel, he would find himself under further scrutiny with the additional sanctions.  Meyer is exactly the home run hire Ohio State -- and Gene Smith -- needed.  In fact, a valentine might not be enough.  Maybe Smith should get a tattoo. 

What? Too soon? 

Posted on: February 14, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 9:44 am
 

New Tennessee weight room features MMA cage

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



It's Valentine's Day, so what do you get for the new college practice facility that's already got everything? If you're Derek Dooley and Tennessee, you get it a mixed martial arts fighting cage.

That's not an exaggeration or a typo; among the many details revealed regarding the Volunteers' new $45 million practice facility during the Knoxville News-Sentinel's Dooley-guided tour is that the Vols will be able to sharpen their MMA moves against each other from the comfort of their own weight room. From the News-Sentinel story: 

Players will be able to walk straight from the 120-yard practice field into the new weight room — a 22,000 square foot "multilevel thunderdome of power," as it's called in UT's promotional video for the facility. Along with the standard free weights, machines, cardiovascular training equipment — which will be situated on a deck that overlooks the weight room — and a nutrition bar, it will feature a mixed martial arts cage "so we can go in and fight and all that stuff," Dooley said.

The important details for Vol fans are all covered in the story -- the facility will open in July, feature a "Peyton Manning Room" that will document and celebrate the Volunteers' "tradition in winning," and, yes, should be more than state-of-the-art enough to give Dooley's recruiting efforts a boost -- but it's that paragraph we keep coming back to. So many questions need answering:

1. So Dooley not only isn't forbidding his players from fooling around with amateur martial arts combat, he's actively encouraging it within the walls of his own practice facility? Apparently, unless there's some hidden disapproval we can't find when he says the cage is there for them to "fight and all that stuff." 

2. What happens if a player is injured in the cage? We have no idea, but if it happens, the fallout should be ... interesting.

3. Was this Dooley's own personal idea? The News-Sentinel reported that Dooley asked for a number of changes to the facility's plans upon his hire in 2010, some of which "initially rubbed prominent donor Charles Anderson, who pledged $8 million toward the project, the wrong way." Not that Dooley shouldn't have had a major say in the final construction (it being his future offices, after all), but the image of him poring over blueprints and asking Anderson "But where's the mixed martial arts cage?" is one we find irresistible.

4. The "multilevel thunderdome of power"?!? It appears, to coin a phrase, you can separate the program from Lane Kiffin ... but you cannot separate the Lane Kiffin from the program.

Of course, the only question that matters for Dooley is whether or not the facility -- MMA cage and all -- is going to help him win the games he needs to keep his job, and from here it appears that answer is soundly in the affirmative. And if one of the defensive linemen can pick up a bit of additional footwork while grappling with a teammate in his downtime, so much the better.


HT: Dr. Saturday. For more Tennessee football, follow our CBSSports.com Volunteer RapidReports.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 6:35 pm
 

Gators hire Utah's Davis to coach offensive line

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The usual post-Signing Day position-coaching shuffle has continued across the SEC, with Florida the latest to make a move by naming Tim Davis their new offensive line coach.

The Gators announced Monday that Davis would be taking over for former line coach Frank Verducci, a who spent only one season in Gainesville after being hired, in part, due to his familiarity with the now-departed Charlie Weis. Davis arrives from Utah, where he held the same position.

The Gainesville Sun reported Monday that Verducci was fired by Muschamp after interviewing for the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive line position.

Despite the Utes' long-held reputation as one of the FBS's leading spread practitioners, Will Muschamp -- as he has been with all of his offensive staffing hires -- was quick to point out Davis's pro-style bona fides. Davis worked alongside Muschamp with the Miami Dolphins and has spent time with some of the country's most recognizable pro-style programs at Wisconsin, Alabama and USC.

"Tim is a perfect fit for our program - he has a history of coaching in a pro-style offense and shares the same program philosophies," Muschamp said in a statement. "It will be a seamless transition for our players and staff ... He understands the values that we put on the line of scrimmage and he will help us get where we want to be at that position after Coach Verducci made a decision to pursue other interests. We wish Frank the best of luck and appreciate his efforts towards the Gator program."

Like Verducci, Davis likely received his offer to join the Gator staff based not only on his familiarity with Muschamp's preferred style of offense, but the rest of the staff as well. In addition to his time alongside Muschamp in Miami, Davis worked with current Florida running backs coach Brian White at Wisconsin and tight ends coach Derek Lewis with Minnesota.

"I'm excited to work with Coach Muschamp again and join the Florida football program," Davis said. "Like most assistant coaches, I've been on a number of coaching staffs and usually there is a transition period when you join a new staff. I don't look at this as joining a new staff, having worked with Coach Muschamp, Dan Quinn, Brian White and Derek Lewis in the past. I understand the shared philosophies of the staff and look forward to being part of the Gator Nation."

Davis has work cut out for him--despite Muschamp's emphasis on a powerful Crimson Tide-like running game, the Gators finished 73rd in rushing in 2011.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 12:53 pm
 

North Texas coach Dan McCarney suffers stroke

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



North Texas 
head coach Dan McCarney has been hospitalized and is undergoing tests to address "medical difficulties" encountered this past weekend.

Those medical difficulties were rumored to have been a stroke, rumors which McCarney confirmed to the Des Moines Register on Tuesday.

"I was just sitting down to eat a sandwich when my left side went numb," McCarney told the paper. "Talk about a scary feeling. Something happened on the left side in the back of my brain. My left side -- all of a sudden everything went numb."

"I've got too much Irish in me to stay down very long. I feel good right now. I've got a little tingling feeling, but hey, if that's the worst of it, I'd say I'm a pretty lucky guy. Nothing wrong with me that a little Grey Goose won't cure."

McCarney is 58 years old and coming off his first season as head coach of the Mean Green, in which he led them to a 5-7 record (their best season since 2004) and 4-4 Sun Belt mark. He is best known for his 12-year tenure as head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones, where he finished 56-85 between 1995 and 2006.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:12 pm
 

Army opens spring practice, moves spring game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's not easy for our nation's men and women in uniform to make the trip to West Point for the Army football team's spring game. So the Black Knights are bringing the game to some of them.

Army announced recently that the annual Black/Gold Game will be held at Doughboy Stadium on the campus of Fort Benning, Ga. The game will be held March 9 at the conclusion of Army's spring practice, which officially begins Monday after some weekend walkthroughs.

"It's something we're anxious to do," Army head coach Rich Ellerson said in a statement. "It makes too much sense. As spring football games have become a little bit more of a media event, it's a chance for us to showcase the program and articulate that connection with the U.S. Army ... It will be a great experience for us and hopefully for the folks at Fort Benning. It's a first-time thing. We had to get an exception from the NCAA, but it makes sense given the institutional relationships. We'll see where it leads us."

Maj. Gen. Bob Brown, Fort Benning's commanding general, said the "theme of the event and the focus of the day" surrounding the game would be "Duty."

The game at Fort Benning will wrap up what shapes up as a key spring practice for the Black Knights, one Ellerson hopes will help turn around the momentum from a disappointing 3-9 season. Ellerson said after Saturday's workout that more team veterans will have more work to do in spring drills than in 2011--particularly in the area of ball security, where the Black Knights ranked 120th out of 120 in fumbles lost.

“Frankly, those guys need it very badly,” head coach Rich Ellerson said. “We had the ball on the ground a lot last year. When we talk about the fundamentals, in some cases, I’m talking about our older guys. We need to either get them right or beat them out.”

For a CBSSports.com ULive video interview with Army senior quarterback Trent Steelman, click here. 

HT: EDSBS

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 5:16 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 5:18 pm
 

Report: Saban tried to get WVU SEC invitation

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As of this moment, there is -- almost without question -- no more powerful coach in all of college football than Alabama's Nick Saban. But as it turns out, even Saban couldn't pull enough strings to get someone other than Missouri the coveted 14th invite to the SEC.

That's according to the account provided to the Charleston Daily Mail by West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, West Virginia University graduate, who said he and Saban had spoken and "were working toward" snagging that invitation for the Mountaineers before the league settled on the Tigers. Both Saban and his wife Terry are West Virginia natives, and Saban spent two seasons in the late '70s as a defensive assistant for the Mountaineers.

"I thought we could have been in the SEC," Manchin said. "I talked to my dear friend Nick Saban about that, and, like me, he said, 'I would like West Virginia in the SEC,' and we were working toward that."

The Charleston Gazette also reported in October that Saban had been lobbying behind the scenes for West Virginia. But to no avail: Missouri was officially added as the SEC's 14th team in early November.

"They chose Missouri instead, and then you never heard a thing else about it," Manchin said.

That decision helped lead to a bitter political struggle between Manchin and Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell. McConnell, a Louisville graduate and Republican, reportedly attempted to block the Mountaineers' bid to join the Big 12 with the hopes of getting the Cardinals the invitation instead; Manchin, a Democrat, responded by publicly calling for Congress to hold hearings on whether McConnell had committed an ethics violation.

In the end, of course, Manchin and the Mountaineers got their happy ending -- they're not even going to have to wait an extra year -- and Manchin says the feud with McConnell is in the past. But with as powerful an ally as Saban on his side, you have to wonder if he doesn't wonder what might have been if the SEC had lent a more friendly ear.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:12 pm
 

Jefferson pleads not guilty to battery charge

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In what's been a busy couple of days for Jordan Jefferson, the former LSU quarterback has pled not guilty to the misdemeanor simple battery charge stemming from last August's infamous fight outside a Baton Rouge bar.

If convicted, Jefferson faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. His case is set to be heard May 10 in the East Baton Rouge Parish court.

Jefferson had originally been charged with felony battery, but the lack of DNA evidence and other factors led to the grand jury reducing the charge to a misdemeanor, resulting in the lifting of Jefferson's suspension midway through the 2011 season.

Jefferson and his attorneys have maintained his innocence throughout the process, with attorney Lewis Unglesby saying in September that Jefferson "will never be convicted" in a trial setting. 

Though the impending court date and reports from the bar fight won't do Jefferson any favors in the eyes of NFL scouts, one draft expert told CBSSports.com LSU RapidReporter Glenn Guilbeau it doesn't make any real difference--Jefferson won't be drafted regardless.

"I was surprised he was invited (to the NFL Draft combine)," said expert Mike Detillier. "I don't think Jordan can throw accurately enough to play in the NFL. He has a strong arm. He's a good athlete. But in the NFL you have to throw accurately from the pocket. He struggled with that his whole career." 

Jefferson will try and disprove those doubts at the combine, set for Feb. 22.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:33 pm
 

Ohio St. RB Jaamal Berry no longer on roster

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After a rocky 2011 season, Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry is no longer part of the Buckeye roster.

Berry's attorney told the Columbus Dispatch this week that he did not expect Berry to return to the team, not with the sophomore preparing to face misdemeanor assault charges stemming from an October incident. But a spokesperson for the school said he remains on scholarship, and he continued to appear on the Buckeyes' official roster--until Thursday, this is, when the roster was labeled "as of Feb. 9" and no longer included a listing for Berry.

“From the conversation he had with the coaches, it didn’t appear that they were excited about him being (there),” Larry Coffey, Berry's coach at Palmetto (Fla.) High School, told the Dispatch. Coffey said he had spoken with Berry on Tuesday. 

“He took the lead from that, and his thought process was that it was maybe time for him to go in another direction," Coffey said.

One of the nation's top recruits in the class of 2009, Berry redshirted after a marijuana possession arrest preceding his freshman year. He bounced back to see action in all 13 games in 2010, rushing 32 times for 8.3 yards a carry and returning 21 kickoffs for the Buckeyes.

Injuries hampered the start of his 2011 season, however, before two serious off-field incidents: a September fight on campus in which police were called to the scene but no charges were filed (and Berry went to the hospital), and then the misdemeanor assault incident in October in which Berry allegedly struck a 21-year-old man in a parking garage.

Berry attorney R. William Meeks said that Berry would finish the current quarter at the minimum and could finish the school year at Ohio State.

HT: @marcushartman 

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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