Tag:Cam Newton
Posted on: April 1, 2011 5:48 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 4/1

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.


FOUR LINKS ...

1. National champions Auburn might not have enjoyed the HBO expose that aired this week, but they got plenty of love from more official channels, with the Alabama state House honoring Gene Chizik with a resolution and Cam Newton getting similar treatment from the legislature in his home state of Georgia. But for Auburn fans, the biggest honor of the week was the news that NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip will be driving this car at Talladega April 17 to commemorate the Tigers' achievement:



2. Sounds like Florida's going to have a friend in the broadcast booth this year as Jon Gruden attended Will Muschamp's first Gainesville coaching clinic and called the Muschamp-Charlie Weis coaching tandem "the best in college football." Also in attendance despite the rumors that he and Muschamp had not always seen eye-to-eye in Austin: former Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis.

3. You may have seen this already:



Even if you haven't, you know that there is only one coach who would put up a motivational chart with a "World of the Uninvested" and a "Circle of the Untrustables." Houston Nutt explains the chart and its genesis to the Clarion-Ledger here.

4. Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen doesn't sound like he's bearing any real grudge towards former head coach Dan Hawkins and his son, fellow (ex-)quarterback Cody Hawkins, but he does say Hawkins the Elder's handling of his son did include "a little nepotism." Which is why the whole situation sounds more than a little awkward.

... AND THE CLOUD

Jimbo Fisher is asking fans for their prayers and thoughts as his son Ethan battles an undisclosed health issue ... Former Texas Tech running back and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal guest columnist Baron Batch has a pretty amazing story to tell ... After $100,000 raises for each, Alabama coordinators Kirby Smart (defensive) and Jim McElwain (offensive) are earning a combined $1.36 milllion ... Speaking of contracts, Mike Locksley has renegotiated his New Mexico deal in a fashion that makes it easier for both parties to part ways ... Two reserve linemen for Michigan State have been knocked out of spring practice (and maybe longer) with injuries ... Marcus Davis, a backup safety at Oregon who'd transferred from Texas, has left the Duck program ... Colorado reported one secondary violation to the NCAA from their recent recruiting cycle, but since it's for feeding the 10-year-old brother of a visiting recruit, we doubt they're too ashamed about it ... Mississippi State has a new announcer for their radio broadcasts, always a big deal anywhere college football's a big deal ... Joe Bauserman is taking the first-team snaps at Ohio State quarterback while Terrelle Pryor recovers ... And here's video of Notre Dame's quarterbacks donning a helmet-cam for practice. Thus the indomitable sprit of the World League of American Football lives on.

Posted on: March 29, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 1:26 pm
 

Ex-Auburn players tell HBO they were paid

Posted by Tom Fornelli There have been rumors floating around the internet for weeks about a story HBO was doing for its Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that would not shed a favorful light on Auburn. The program is set to air on Wednesday night, but Brooks from SportsByBrooks received an advanced copy of the show, and there are quite a few bombshells dropped in the interview. Brooks was kind enough to transcribe the interviews. Here's a taste of the talk between HBO's Andrea Kremer and former Auburn Tiger Stanley McClover.
Kremer voiceover: “McLover said it wasn’t until he attended an all-star camp at Louisiana State University that he realized how the game is played. A game of money and influence.” McClover: “Somebody came to me, I don’t even know this person and he was like, ‘we would love for you to come to LSU and he gave me a handshake and it had five hundred dollars in there. … that’s called a money handshake … I grabbed it and I’m like, ‘wow,’ hell I thought ten dollars was a lot of money back then. Five hundred dollars for doing nothing but what I was blessed to do. I was happy.” Kremer to McClover: “What did you say to the guy when he hands you five hundred dollars?” McClover: “Thank you and I’m seriously thinking about coming to LSU.” Kremer voiceover: “But McClover says there were money handshakes from boosters at other football camps too. At Auburn for a couple hundred dollars and at Michigan State. All the schools denied any wrongdoing. And things really started heating up a few months later when he went to Ohio State for an official visit where schools get a chance for one weekend to host prospective athletes. McClover says there were money handshakes from alumni there too. About a thousand dollars. And something else to entice him.” McClover: “They send girls my way. I partied. When I got there I met up with a couple guys from the team. We went to a party and they asked me to pick any girl I wanted.” Kremer: “Did she offer sexual services?“ McClover: “Yes.” Kremer: “Did you take them?” McClover: “Yes.” Kremer: “McClover committed to Ohio State right after that weekend. The recruiter at Ohio State who says he dealt with McClover that weekend denied the school was involved in any wrongdoing.” On what caused McClover to sign with Auburn over Ohio State: Kremer voiceover: “McClover says what he asked for was money. A lot of it. And that he got it. Delivered in a bookbag, exact amount unknown.” Kremer to McClover: “You opened it up, what are you thinking?” McClover: “I almost passed out. I literally almost passed out I couldn’t believe it was true. I felt like I owed them.” Kremer to McClover: “You felt obligated to them (Auburn)?” McClover: “I felt totally obligated.” Kremer to McClover: “Because of the money?” McClover: “Yeah.”
The word that should be in your head as you read that is the same one that was stuck in mine the entire time: Wow. In just one segment of the interview we have McClover not only saying that he was given money by Auburn to attend the school, but also that he received money from LSU, Michigan State and Ohio State during his recruitment. Oh, and then the tiny tidbit of Ohio State basically hiring a prostitute to help convince McClover to come to Columbus. And remember, this is just the interview with McClover. The talks with other former Auburn players Chaz Ramsey, Troy Reddick and Raven Gray don't exactly do Auburn any more favors. There's Reddick saying that Auburn wanted him to change his major because they felt his class schedule was getting in the way of football, and McClover also saying a booster bought a car for him.  Now, it's important to point out that there's no way to prove what these players are saying is true, which I'm sure plenty of Auburn fans will point out in the coming days. Still, the fact that four players are coming out and saying so, without any real motivation, makes you wonder what, if anything, they'd have to gain by lying about all this. Of course, this isn't the first time in the history of college football that players have been paid, and it won't be the last either. To pretend like this isn't going on at other schools right this very moment would be incredibly naive, but obviously, this is not good news for Auburn. If Auburn thought he Cam Newton sideshow was a distraction in 2010, well, things won't be any quieter on the plains in the coming months either.
Posted on: March 28, 2011 1:27 pm
 

Gene Chizik won't succumb to 'energy vampires'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Gene Chizik is coming off of the longest, most memorable season of his coaching career. The Auburn head coach led the Tigers to a national title, but he also had to spend just about the entire season dealing with the Cam Newton saga. In fact, since the NCAA hasn't officially concluded its investigation into Cam Newton's recruitment at Auburn, there's a good chance he'll have to deal with more questions about him in 2011 even though Newton has moved on to the NFL.

Not that Chizik plans on letting any of it be a distraction, or to let it all drag him and his team down. No, Chizik has no time for those "energy vampires."

“Whatever people want to say or whatever somebody is comfortable talking about in terms of talk radio or other places, we have absolutely no control over that,” Chizik told ESPN.com. “But here’s what we know: We are the national champions, and we were the best football team in the United States last year. There’s nothing I have to do to defend our honor for that. 

“They’re going to say what they’re going to say and discuss what they’re going to discuss, and you have absolutely no control over that. I call those energy vampires. They’re not going to suck my energy out worrying about that. That’s how we work.” 

This is where I wish I had Photoshop so I could produce a Twilight poster with Gene Chizik surrounded by Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans. Since there are werewolves in Twilight, as well, I'd have Dan Wetzel and Charles Robinson in the background in wolf form. I tried to do this in Paint, but frankly, I just don't have the talent to pull it off.

Which is a shame for all of us, really.

As for Chizik, while dealing with the energy vampires for another season may be a problem, I don't think it's going to be as big a problem as trying to replace Cam Newton.
Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Auburn

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice  . So we here at the Eye on College Football    will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers   . Today, we look at Auburn , which started spring practice on Wednesday.

Spring Practice Question: Does Auburn have the playmakers to stay in contention?

In 2010, no team in America deserved the "big-play team" label more than Auburn. It's an easy argument, offensively speaking; the Tigers finished No. 1 among all BCS teams in yards per-play, first overall in yards per-pass attempt, and second overall per-rushing attempt. Cam Newton alone accounted for 46 plays of 20 yards or greater, or an average of more than three such players per game.

But it wasn't just the offense. The Tiger defense hemorrhaged yards and points at a rate far, far greater than any previous BCS championship-winning team, finishing a mediocre 60th in the FBS in total defense and 53rd in scoring defense. But led by Nick Fairley's constant presence in opposing backfields, the Tigers made up for it with an SEC- leading (and sixth nationally ) 99 tackles-for-loss. Combine that with a penchant for timely turnovers -- like Antoine Carter's famous strip-from-behind of Mark Ingram to keep Auburn alive during their first-half struggles against Alabama -- and the Auburn defense kept its head just enough above water (BCS title game excepted) for the offense to power its way to a crystal football.

Entering 2011, it's likely Auburn will need more of the same. The offense won't be built to grind out four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust drives, not with Newton's third-down magic gone and four offensive line starters representing nearly 200 career starts having departed. (Not that Gus Malzahn has ever designed his offenses to plug away Wisconsin- style, of course.) The defense may not be able to get a whole lot worse in terms of down-to-down success, but it may not get much better, either, with all three members of the late-season defensive tackle rotation graduated, six of their top seven tacklers gone, the top three safeties departed (following Mike McNeil's involvement in the recent four-player armed robbery embarrassment), two senior defensive ends, etc.

All of that means that to either move the ball or get stops, Auburn will have to stick to the same big-play formula that worked so well in 2010. But this begs the question that's going to hang over the Tigers throughout spring practice: who's going to make those big plays? No Newton, no Fairley, no Carter, no Darvin Adams, no Terrell Zachery (the underrated big-play threat at wideout who averaged better than 14 yards a reception), no Josh Bynes, no Zac Etheridge ... where are those difference-making plays going to come from?

There's an easy answer for Auburn at running back, at least, where Mike Dyer and Onterio McCalebb form what should be one of the better inside-outside running combos in the SEC, if not the country. (Though both will need to stay healthy; Auburn's third option at tailback is likely to be true freshman Tre Mason.) But everywhere else, the "Help Wanted" sign will be in the window. A few candidates that will need to prove themselves up to the job this spring:

Corey Lemonier: The only returning starter on Auburn's defensive line is redshirt sophomore end Nosa Eguae, but it's the hotly recruited sophomore defensive end from south Florida who's most likely to emerge as a pass-rushing force in the vein of former Tiger greats like Quentin Groves. In any case, it's the ends that will have to fill Fairley's disruptive shoes; with nothing but new tackles on the inside, they'll have their hands full focusing on plugging up opposing running games.

Trovon Reed: Another member of the Tigers' well-regarded 2010 recruiting haul, Reed was on track to play a sizable role last fall as both receiver and Wildcat quarterback before an injury in fall camp forced him to redshirt. Emory Blake is a nice start, but there would seem to be room in the Tiger receiving corps for a poor man's Percy Harvin- type rushing/receiving threat; if healthy, Reed needs to show he can fill that role.

Neiko Thorpe: One of the few bright spots in Auburn's disastrous 5-7 2008 campaign, Thorpe was expected by many on the Plains to develop into a lockdown, All-SEC corner after a freshman season that saw him hold down a starting job from Day 1 and make freshman all-conference. It hasn't happened, as Thorpe has spent much of the past two seasons getting beaten deep and watching other players (Walt McFadden, Demond Washington) emerge as Auburn's best one-on-one cover guys. Now Ted Roof has moved Thorpe to safety, both to take advantage of Thorpe's size (6'2", 185) and provide cover at one of Auburn's thinnest positions. If the position switch doesn't generate some big plays out of the Auburn secondary, it's not easy to see what will.

Spring Practice Primers
Then, of course, there's Barrett Trotter, the likely heir to Newton's throne after serving as the Heisman winner's backup last season. Though Trotter still has to fend off challenges from Clint Moseley this spring and highly-regarded incoming freshman Kiehl Frazier this fall,his mobility and knowledge of the offense should see him safely through to the starter's job ... if he can make the downfield throws that have been Malzahn's stock-in-trade since the day he moved to the college ranks.

Thanks to three years of savvy recruiting by Chizik and Co., there's no shortage of candidates for the playmaking roles Auburn so desperately needs. But it's one thing to put those candidates on a roster; it's another to see them perform on the practice field, the spring game, under the lights. If players like those above aren't putting their best foot forward this spring, it's hard to see how Auburn doesn't fall out of contention in their follow-up season in the most cutthroat division in college football.


Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Auburn and Oregon lost money with BCS trip

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Earlier this week we wrote about the $1.8 million that UConn lost with its trip to the Fiesta Bowl. The largest portion of UConn's loss came from the number of tickets the school wasn't able to sell. Of course, UConn only lost money because it's a smaller school without a great football tradition, and just didn't have the same number of fans available to buy up tickets.  Surely a larger school wouldn't have such a problem with the BCS system, right?

Wrong. Not even Auburn and Oregon, the two teams playing for a national championship, could escape their postseason trips with a profit.

According to the Birmingham News, Auburn returned home from Glendale short over $600,000, while Oregon lost $261,132. Combined, the two schools ended up paying $875,238, with the biggest culprit once again being ticket sales. Auburn had to eat $781,825 in tickets, while Oregon took a $555,575 hit.

Granted, I'm pretty sure if you told Auburn it could win a national championship every year for $600,000 -- insert Cam Newton joke here -- it would take the deal in a heartbeat. Besides, the odds are that Auburn will make that money back through the sale of merchandise related to its BCS title. That being said, the fact that even the teams playing in the biggest college football game of the year are losing money to do so tells you an awful lot about the BCS system.

Sure, the BCS is around to help both the schools and the student-athletes. Just as long as you replace "schools and student-athletes" with "BCS" anyway.
Posted on: February 28, 2011 10:58 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Mississippi State

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Mississippi State , who opens its practice this Friday, March 4.

Your spring practice question: the Bulldogs are going to have something of a new-look defense. So how does it look?

For most college football fans, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of the two-year Dan Mullen era in Starkville (well, if they don't think about how close Mullen came to landing Cam Newton) is the team's bruising, tricky spread-option rushing attack. Behind poor man's Tim Tebow Chris Relf at quarterback, a beefy and well-coached offensive line, and an assortment of physical running backs, the Bulldogs finished ninth in the nation in rushing in Mullen's first season and followed that up with a 16th-place finish in 2010. With the Bulldogs going over the 200-yard mark in eight of their last nine games and returning their top nine rushers -- most notably Relf and senior tailback Vick Ballard, whose late-season surge took him all the way to 20 rushing touchdowns, tying the aforementioned Mr. Newton for most in the SEC -- there won't be any reason not to expect the Bulldogs to boast one of the nation's best running games once again in 2011. And with Relf continuing to improve his touch and the Bulldog receiving corps returning virtually intact, the inconsistent passing game could offer enough balance to make State one of the most feared attacks in the SEC, if not the nation.

But for all of that, the not-so-dirty-secret of the Bulldogs' surprising run to their 9-4 2010 record was their defense. As directed by super-aggressive first-year coordinator Manny Diaz, the Bulldogs held potent attacks from Georgia to 12 points, Florida to 7, Michigan to 17, even Auburn to a season-low 17 ... all but the latter resulting in Bulldog wins. Leading the way was linebacker Chris White, who broke out of anonymity with 110 tackles, 15.5 tackles-for-loss, and six sacks--good enough to lead the team in all three categories. Wright was joined in the linebacking unit by fellow veterans K.J Wright and Emmanuel Gatling (142 combined tackles), with the defensive line anchored by dynamic end Pernell McPhee and his 10 tackles-for-loss. McPhee and White each landed on an All-SEC first-team (McPhee the coaches', White the AP's), the only two Bulldog defenders to earn all-league honors.

The biggest problem of the Bulldogs' spring? All of the names in the previous paragraph have moved on. White, Wright, Gatling, and McPhee were all seniors; Diaz left Starkville after just the one season, agreeing to a hefty raise to replace Will Muschamp as Texas's new defensive coordinator. State will go into 2011 with an entirely new starting linebacking corps, a big question mark at one defensive end spot, a secondary that limped to a 91st-place finish in pass defense a year ago, and in promoted former defensive line coach Chris Wilson, a first-time defensive coordinator trying to fill those holes.

That seems like a lot of potential problems, but the good news for Bulldog fans is that State does boast several potential answers. Wilson did serve as co- coordinator last season and after several quality years of position coaching two excellent coordinators in Oklahoma's Brent Venables and Diaz, should be as ready as he's going to get. If McPhee's absence might create problems on the ends, the Bulldogs should be rock-solid in the middle of the defensive line with their pair of impressive junior tackles, Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox. And if the secondary was a sore spot a year ago, there's still room for optimism with all four starters returning, including freshman All-SEC safety Nickoe Whitley.

The linebackers look like a potential dilemma no matter how you slice it. But if Wilson can cobble together a unit that shows some kind of promise this spring -- and the defensive backs continue to develop, and Boyd and Cox are as good as advertised, and Wilson appears to be well in command -- it's going to be tough keeping a lid on the Bulldogs' preseason hype. Opposite Relf and the Bulldog steamroller on the other side of the ball, the only thing standing between State and a potential emergence as the biggest threat in the SEC West to Alabama and LSU is a competent defense; if that defense looks likely this spring, the ceiling will be higher than it's been in Starkville in ages.
Posted on: February 25, 2011 2:45 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), Feb. 25

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.


FOUR LINKS ...

1. Future scheduling is very much in the news today, with discussions about moving the new Big 12's biggest in-state rivalry games to Dec. 3 and the Big East finally releasing its 2011 slate. But maybe nowhere is it more in the news than at Nevada, which is desperately trying to work its way out of a brutal road stretch (at Oregon, at Texas Tech, at Boise State, all back-to-back-to-back) ... but still found the time to tentatively schedule a home-and-home series with Oregon State for 2017 and 2018. (Is there a way to schedule them for that far ahead that wouldn't be tentative?)

2. Yes, Virginia, when you would have already been the clearcut No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, you need some kind of insurance policy when you decide to go back to school. Andrew Luck's is worth $5 million already and could wind up being worth even more , depending on the new NFL collective bargaining agreement.

3. Your weekly Friday Four Links position coaching update: former Minnesota assistant John Butler is South Carolina's new special teams coordinator ; Louisville defensive line coach Clint Hurtt will not be accepting Auburn's offer of the same position following Tracy Rocker's departure; which means former Butler colleague with the Gophers Tim Cross is, by process of elimination , the likely front-runner on the Plains; and well-traveled assistant Danny Barrett is the new running backs coach at UCF.

4. Despite saying the scandal that erupted around Cam Newton "kind of stained almost everybody" involved with it -- including himself, we presume -- Dan Mullen also said he had "no regrets" about his Mississippi State program's recruitment of Newton or its handling of the situation. No regrets aside from the part where Newton chose Auburn and went on to win the Heisman and a national championship, it's safe to assume.

AND A CLOUD ...

Tennessee junior cornerback Art Evans spoke publicly for the first time since being reinstated following a three-month suspension; Evans missed the last six games of 2010 after falling behind on his car payments ... In addition to his infamous call to the Paul Finebaum radio show, accused Toomer's Corner oak poisoner Harvey Updyke may have also bragged about committing the crime on an Alabama fan site ... More buzz is buzzing about Oklahoma countering Texas's "Longhorn Network" with one of their own ... Remember former Florida and Ole Miss defensive back Jamar Hornsby? If you do, it won't surpise you to learn he's currently in jail ... Without Nebraska, does the Big 12 have enough quality games for its television obligations?

Posted on: February 21, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Don't call LaMichael James 'LaMarcus'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

LaMichael James has had quite a bit of success during his first two seasons at Oregon. In two years, James has rushed for 3,277 yards and 35 touchdowns, picking up the Doak Walker Award in 2010, and finishing behind Cam Newton for the Heisman Trophy. Of course, this has left many people in the state of Texas, where James is from, to ponder what life would have been like had James stayed in state to play his college football.

Particularly if he'd stayed home to play at TCU, which was the school that finished second to Oregon during his recruitment. Well, while accepting the Doak Walker Award over the weekend, James finally shared what the deciding factor was that sent him to the Pacific Northwest. Turns out that James felt disrespected by TCU.

Why? Well, you'd feel a bit disrespected yourself if TCU spent an entire weekend calling you "LaMarcus" instead of LaMichael.

During a radio interview in Dallas on Friday, James said that while he was on an official visit to TCU, a coach whom he would not name spent the entire weekend doing just that. Which is when James decided to turn his attention out of state, particularly to Oregon.

So let this be a lesson to coaches throughout the country. When you're spending time with a recruit, try to learn his name.
 
 
 
 
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