Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:15 pm
 

Kragthorpe gives up LSU OC job due to Parkinson's

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A month before the start of the 2011 season is far from the best time for a reshuffling of coaching assignments. But for LSU offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe, there are now much more pressing issues than football.

The Tiger program has announced that Kragthorpe is suffering from Parkinson's disease, and will be giving up his coordinating duties effective immediately. He will, however, remain on the LSU staff as quarterbacks coach. The new play-caller will be Greg Studrawa, the Tigers' offensive line coach.

Kragthorpe has issued a statement regarding the unfortunate news:


Eye on College Football wishes Kragthorpe the best of luck in his fight against the disease.

And though football clearly takes a backseat to the news of Kragthorpe's health, the disruption to LSU's preparation for the 2011 season should be relatively minimal. Studrawa has a wealth of play-calling experience from his post-Urban Meyer tenure at Bowling Green, when he directed a dynamic Falcon offense behind quarterback Omar Jacobs. And with Kragthorpe still on staff to help oversee the offense, with any luck the transition will be a smooth one.

But of course, whatever good news comes out of the Tigers' football season would pale next to the better news that Kragthorpe was able to continue in his position. Here's hoping.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 11:41 am
 

Oklahoma tops preseason Coaches Poll

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Just as predicted by numbers guru Phil Steele back in February, Oklahoma will begin the 2011 season ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Sooners grabbed 42 of a possible 59 first-place votes in the coaches' preseason ballot, released Thursday morning, but still hold just a 40-point lead over second-place Alabama. The Tide took 13 first-place votes, with the remaining four split evenly between No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU (who just so happen to be playing in Dallas on the season's opening Saturday). Florida State rounds out the top five, further cementing Jimbo Fisher's program as the new ACC favorites. (Virginia Tech is the next-highest ACC team at No. 13.)

Conference-by-conference, the poll features eight teams from the SEC, five from the Big Ten, five from the Big 12, two each from the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West, and one independent in Notre Dame. The Big East went unrepresented in the top 25, with West Virginia finishing "No. 27" as part of the "Also Receiving Votes" category.

Some immediate reaction:
  • When it comes to getting the benefit of the doubt, it still pays to be the biggest-name program possible. Georgia, Florida, Texas and Penn State combined for a whopping 25 losses last year, but all four still find their way into the preseason ballot as teams Nos. 21-25.
  • Despite the SEC's lofty reputation, it's the Big 12 with the top billing in the top 10. In addition to Oklahoma edging the Tide for top spot, both Oklahoma State and Texas A&M squeeze into the top 10 while only LSU joins Alabama from the SEC. The Cowboys and Aggies will have a lot to prove, as recent Big 12 dark horses like Nebraska last season and the '09 Cowboys have failed to live up to their preseason ranking.
  • Ohio State's off-season turmoil has left Wisconsin and those same Cornhuskers as the only Big Ten teams in the top 15 of the poll. Given the league's apparent parity -- the Huskers were recently named the league favorite despite coaching turnover and major losses on defense -- even that may be generous.
  • The top two teams in the final poll of 2010 slid a combined 31 spots, with national champion Auburn coming in No. 19 and No. 2 TCU checking in at No. 15. Auburn may be ranked entirely too low if you subscribe to the "champions until they lose" doctrine, and entirely too high if you believe the combination of a brutal schedule and extremely young roster will result in a struggle to even make the top 25. Which means they're probably ranked about right for a poll like this.
  • With USC ineligible and Arizona State and Utah each finishing in the "Also Receiving Votes" category, no team from the new Pac-12 South was included. Guess the "Sun Devils = divisional favorite" offseason chatter didn't mean a whole lot to the voters, just as West Virginia's status as the presumptive Big East favorite didn't. But should it really have meant less than Penn State's expected running-in-place season after a 7-6 season a year ago?
  • For that reason, this blogger will go with the Nittany Lions as the poll's most overrated team, and a tie between Nos. 13 and 14 -- Virginia Tech and loaded Arkansas -- as the poll's most underrated.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Podcast: Mike Brewster talks 2011 Buckeyes

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's been a tumultuous offseason to say the least for Ohio State, but Rimington Trophy favorite Mike Brewster says the Buckeyes still aren't lacking for confidence going into their 2011 season under head coach Luke Fickell. Listen to his interview with CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer here:



Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: August 1, 2011 9:02 am
 

Podcast: Aizer, Fischer talk Pac-12 Media Days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Thursday, our Eye on Recruiting reporter Bryan Fischer wrapped up his visit to a highly eventful Pac-12 Media Days -- wherever Larry Scott appears, headlines are sure to follow -- and here sits down with CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer to review the highlights. (And yes, those highlights include Andrew Luck's famous beard.)



Posted on: July 27, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Tate Forcier transferring to San Jose State

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Tate Forcier's long and winding road appears to have finally wound its way to San Jose.

The Mercury News is reporting that Forcier has committed to play for the San Jose State Spartans, ending a months-long cross-country transfer tour that saw Forcier announce at one stage that he would be playing for Miami before later announcing he would instead look elsewhere.

Obviously, SJSU would appear to be quite the step down from playing for the Hurricanes (much less Michigan, the school where Forcier spent two years making his name), but Forcier will be much closer to his San Diego home and brother Jason Forcier reportedly works in the area. He offered the Mercury News a comment via text message:
“It felt right,” Forcier said ... “I loved the coaches and felt comfortable with them. I really believe I can help that team.”
While Forcier won't simply have the job handed to him (incoming freshman QB Joe Gray was SJSU's highest-ranked recruit and could be reasonably entrenched as the starter once Forcier is eligible in 2012), it's hard to believe he won't help a program as downtrodden as the Spartans. He immediately becomes their most proven commodity, their highest-ranked recruit (probably ever), and far and away the closest thing Mike MacIntyre's program has to a star. Given the state of the WAC in 2012, it's likely Forcier is also already the entire conference's highest-profile player.

SJSU won just one game last year, and even that one was a 16-11 scrape past FCS Southern Utah*. But they were surprisingly competitive down the stretch (losing four of their final five games by a total of 16 points), return all 11 of their starters on defense this year, and boast another BCS-caliber transfer in former Minnesota tailback Deleon Eskridge.

With Forcier now all but falling into their laps (thanks to the Miami decision and Hawaii ruling him unable to meet their fall semester's academic requirements), MacIntyre would appear to have the Spartans moving in the right direction. There's still miles and miles and miles to go in that direction, but it's something--and having a talent like Forcier around certainly won't hurt.


*As an aside: SUU's nickname is the Thunderbirds, one of the best in all Division I. Why more schools never adopted this one, we don't know.

Posted on: July 27, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 12:18 pm
 

MWC forbids Boise from all-blue look at home

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When San Diego State head coach Rocky Long called the combination of Boise State's home Smurf Turf and their all-blue uniforms "unfair" this past April, we applauded his candor but also assumed he was giving voice to run-of-the-mill behind-the-scenes sour grapes. If Boise hadn't been so good, and their opponents on the blue turf hadn't lost so many times, no one would care about the color of the field or uniforms, right?

Maybe not. But as it turns out, Long is far from the only coach to believe the Broncos' home color-coordination gives them an unfair advantage. In fact, so many of the coaches in Boise's new Mountain West Conference home complained that the league prohibited the Broncos from wearing all-blue uniforms in their conference home games as a prerequisite for their entry into the league.

While the Bronco administration had little choice but to sign off on the agreement (what, they were going to stay in the WAC over their uniforms?), you couldn't have expected the MWC's plan to go over well in Boise. And it hasn't, with even usually soft-spoken head coach Chris Petersen railing against the decision at MWC Media Days Tuesday:
“I thought it was ridiculous,” Petersen said of his reaction. “… That’s our colors. That’s who we are. That’s who our fans have wanted us to be since I’ve been at Boise State. That’s what it’s been through and through.”

The MWC's explanation?

Said commissioner Craig Thompson: “What we had heard from our coaches is ‘a competitive advantage.’ It’s as simple as that.”
Again: color us skeptical the Broncos' "competitive advantage" in Boise has anywhere near as much to do with the field or the uniforms as the long travel, players like Kellen Moore, and coaches like Petersen. And we're particularly skeptical the coaches' gripes are based in legitimate competition issues -- rather than a conference-wide sort of rookie hazing -- when we read the following:
One complaint from coaches is that it’s difficult to watch video of the Broncos’ home games. Petersen said that’s true, but shouldn’t be an issue as schools switch to high definition.
It's a little more difficult to watch film of their games, so you're going to tell the Broncos what uniforms they can and can't wear at their own stadium? Really?

Really. As a neutral viewer, we shouldn't complain; the all-blue look on the blue turf does take a few series' of visual adjustment (even in HD), and monochrome uniforms in bright colors aren't exactly the height of football fashion no matter the color of the field. But quirky home-field advantages have always been a part of college football, and this one seems even more quirky and innocuous than most.

So: we anxiously await confirmation from the MWC that as part of their invitations to join, Hawaii will be playing their home games in California, Nevada will be playing theirs at sea level (and only in September and October, what with those chilly November/December temperatures in Reno), and at theirs Fresno State will force Pat Hill to coach clean-shaven.

Posted on: July 26, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 5:34 pm
 

NCAA moves towards closing Newton loophole

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Aside from Auburn's fans and coaches, there didn't seem to be many people happy with the NCAA's decision last fall to rule Cam Newton eligible after his father Cecil Newton admitted he'd asked Mississippi State boosters for $180,000. That even goes for people who agreed with the NCAA's ruling, like president Mark Emmert, who stated plainly (as Gene Chizik will tell you) that the NCAA had no evidence to rule that Cam knew of his father's request or that the family had received benefits from anyone ... but also affirmed that "I think it's absolutely a fundamentally wrong for a father to try to sell the services of his son or daughter to the highest bidder."

And in the interests of protecting that stance, Emmerts's organization has moved towards making requests like Cecil's an eligibility-breaker in the future. An official release from the NCAA Tuesday details a proposal for an "expanded definition of agents," one that would "include third-party influences, including family members, who market student-athletes’ athletics ability or reputation for personal financial gain."

The statement reads:

The cabinet at its recent meeting in Indianapolis agreed to sponsor legislation for the 2011-12 cycle that would define agents as individuals who either directly or indirectly:

  • Represent or attempt to represent a prospective or current student-athlete in the marketing of his or her athletics ability or reputation for financial gain; or
  • Seek to obtain any type of financial gain or benefit from securing a prospect’s enrollment at an institution or a student-athlete’s potential earnings as a professional athlete.

The new definition would include certified contract advisors, financial advisors, marketing representatives, brand managers or anyone who is employed by or associated with such individuals.

The new definition also would apply to third parties, including family members, who shop prospects to various institutions for personal financial gain. In the past, the agent definition applied generally to third parties marketing an athlete’s skills to a professional sports team. The cabinet’s proposal expands the definition to include people marketing athletics skills to a collegiate institution for personal gain.

Under the new definition, Cecil would have been acting as Cam's "agent" and -- one would assume -- having an agent operating on his behalf (even without his consent) would have resulted in Cam's having been declared ineligible. The definition might also be broad enough to include the likes of "advisors" like Bryce Brown mentor Brian Butler (or, if certain allegations involving Oregon stick, Will Lyles.)

The proposal will be reviewed at the NCAA's 2011-2012 legislative session and could be put into effect as soon as April of next year.

If we play devil's advocate for a moment, we have to wonder if it's entirely fair to prospective athletes to pay the price in elgibility for others' actions they may have no control over. (Consider a scenario similar to the famous Albert Means case: if a high school coach goes behind a recruit's back and asks a school for money in order to push the recruit towards that school, how is that the player's fault? Would their college football career be ruined all the same?)

But all the same, Emmert is right that the attempted sales of athletes' services (whether that sale is completed or not) is "fundamentally wrong." If the NCAA believes the proposed legislation might help stamp out some of those sales pitches, it's legislation they must consider.

Posted on: July 26, 2011 3:58 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 4:56 pm
 

UCLA QB Hundley to undergo surgery

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We don't know what Rick Neuheisel did to curse the UCLA quarterback position. Maybe he entered an NCAA Tournament pool with a coven of old gypsy women. Maybe the one area of the Bruins' practice field where Neuheisel has them warm up is a very, very small ancient Indian burial ground. Maybe he signed his UCLA contract by the light of a full moon under a ladder on Friday the 13th under the advice of legal counsel Joe Theismann.

But whatever the reason, UCLA's quarterbacks have the most rotten luck of any single position on any single college football team in the FBS--and by this point, that's closer to fact than opinion. The latest evidence? Neuheisel announced at Pac-12 Media Days Tuesday that true freshman Brett Hundley has torn his meniscus and will undergo surgery. Hundley suffered the injury playing pickup basketball.

Fortunately, the injury is expected to sideline Hundley for only three-to-four weeks, and the Bruins still have two quarterbacks with starting experience in Kevin Prince (the expected starter) and Richard Brehaut. But as a highly-touted prospect who fits the Bruins' pistol offense snugly and enrolled early for spring practice, Hundley nonethless had a shot at major playing time or even the starting position--particularly given that both Prince and Brehaut have their own injury histories to deal with.

He may still have that shot, especially later in the year. But missing out on the critical first few weeks of fall camp and being forced to deal with his recovery on the fly isn't the recipe for any player to make an immediate impact, much less a true freshman.

So in the end, it's just one less option for Neuheisel to work with through the first several weeks of the 2011 campaign. If there's any silver lining, though, it's this: Neuheisel must be awfully comfortable handling setbacks at the quarterback position by now. Right?


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