Tag:Connecticut
Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Maryland's next coach is Randy Edsall

Posted by Adam Jacobi

[UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: Maryland has officially announced the hiring of Randy Edsall tonight.]

After the unceremonious dismissal of Ralph Friedgen from the head coaching spot at Maryland , most people expected Mike Leach to be named the new head coach shortly thereafter. Leach was the only person named by Maryland AD Kevin Anderson at the press conference announcing Friedgen's departure, and he was the first person formally interviewed by Maryland earlier this week.

So, naturally, just hours after Connecticut 's 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, Huskies head coach Randy Edsall was reportedly tabbed to run the Terrapins.

Wait, what?

The Washington Post reported today that according to several sources, Edsall was at Maryland interviewing for the head coaching spot with the search committee. CSN's Chick Hernandez confirmed the report and said that "barring major setback," Edsall would be hired. Minutes later, Joe Schad reported on Twitter that Maryland had in fact tabbed Edsall, and here we are. The hire has not been confirmed by Maryland, and according to the Baltimore Sun, one source at the school insists Leach is still a candidate, but an announcement is expected within 24 hours.

If Terps fans are disappointed by the prospect of Edsall coming aboard, it'd be hard to blame them; bringing Leach and the Air Raid offense to Maryland would have been a breath of fresh air for the program after it took the hit of losing coach-in-waiting James Franklin in December. But a breath of fresh air isn't the same thing as a quality, long-term hire, and that's apparently the direction Maryland wants to go with this hire. Edsall built Connecticut from a I-AA power to a FBS BCS competitor (albeit arguably the worst ever) in just a few years, and Maryland could use that type of institutional quantum leap forward -- or, as Anderson put it, "from 'good' to 'great'." Whether Edsall can deliver on that scale, of course, is something that necessarily remains to be seen.

And if Edsall is indeed confirmed as Maryland's next top man, we can't help but wonder... Mike Leach to UConn?



Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:38 am
 

Bowl Grades: Fiesta Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Oklahoma outpaced Connecticut en route to a 48-20 Fiesta Bowl victory.

Oklahoma

Offense: Landry Jones set an Oklahoma bowl passing record with 433 yards through the air, and he was able to find wideouts Ryan Broyles and Cameron Kenney (both of whom had over 150 receiving yards) without much trouble. Broyles' touchdown catch was the type of play that exemplified his All-American season: an absolutely brilliant display of athleticism. DeMarco Murray wasn't a gamebreaker, but his 25 carries for 93 yards kept the chains moving -- he accounted for eight of Oklahoma's 27 first downs. Jones did throw a pick-six and Broyles coughed up a fumble at the end of an otherwise brilliant punt return, but those were relatively minor concerns. Grade: B+

Defense: Giving up 20 points is sort of a bummer, right? Thing of it is, though, UConn scored one touchdown on the aforementioned pick-six, and the other came on a kickoff return. Also, Jamell Fleming and Tony Jefferson each took an interception to the house in the second half, pushing the game out of reach for UConn. So essentially, the Oklahoma defense outscored the Huskies' offense 14-6. That's a win. Grade: A

Coaching: Well, Bob Stoops finally got that BCS bowl losing streak off his back. Shame that it had to come against such a comically overmatched opponent, but that's probably of limited concern to Stoops and the Sooners. It's hard to fault Stoops for any play calls or in-game decisions, except for that fake field goal early in the fourth quarter. Everyone in the world knows Stoops doesn't have a great deal of confidence in kicker Jimmy Stevens, who doesn't have a field goal of longer than 41 yards this year, so when OU lined up for a field goal on 4th and 7 at the UConn 30, nobody really expected a kick to go up. Further, Jones passed for 8.8 yards per attempt on the day; let the kid make another play!  Grade: B-

Connecticut

Offense: It's painfully obvious that UConn quarterback Zach Frazer doesn't have much in the way of help at receiver. The senior QB had rather pedestrian numbers again tonight (19-39, 223 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs), but several of Frazer's throws were dropped, tipped, or aimed somewhere other than where the receivers ended up going. Even on Frazer's two pick-sixes, both passes hit his receivers in the hands before being deflected up and into a Sooner's hands. It was sort of painful to watch. Jordan Todman did rush for 121 yards after a slow start, however, and Anthony Sherman and Ryan Griffin were decent targets between the 20s. Grade: D+

Defense: The Huskies' main highlight on defense was the "look what I found" interception score by Dwayne Gratz in the second quarter that first got UConn on the board, but that was pretty much it. Landry Jones found open receivers nearly every time he dropped back to pass, and Oklahoma was only forced into four punts in 14 possessions on the day. Grade: D

Coaching: Randy Edsall 's first foray into the BCS bowl world didn't go well, but that was pretty much a given considering the matchup. Connecticut's execution was sufficiently bad that it's hard to pin much on Edsall's playcalling, and the Huskies at least made Oklahoma work for its victory; this was still a 14-point game with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. It's hard to say whether Edsall will ever make it back to a BCS game -- his odds are probably better at a stronger school than UConn -- but he didn't look bad today. Grade: B

Final Grade

Look, nobody outside of Storrs, CT and whatever lair BCS president Bill Hancock resides in wanted this game to happen. The final score was pretty predictable, even though UConn stuck around for a little longer than most people would have expected. It would have been great to see this high-powered Oklahoma offense face a real defense, like that of Stanford or TCU or Boise State . But the rules are what they are, and this is what we get because of them: an afterthought of a Fiesta Bowl. Connecticut didn't belong in a BCS game, everybody knew it, and they proved why today. Can we really not get an "automatic unless you're a four-loss team" clause in the BCS language? Really? This game's very existence was unacceptable. Grade: F

Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 4:09 pm
 

Report: Wannstedt out at Pittsburgh

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Dave Wannstedt took over as head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers before the 2005 season, his charge was to "bring Pitt to the next level."  At the conclusion of the 2010 season, the Panthers announced their bid to a bowl in January.  But it was not the January bowl that Panthers fans had hoped for out of Wannstedt's tenure.

Fanhouse's Brett McMurphy reported on Tuesday that Dave Wannstedt's time at Pittsburgh has come to a close.  After six seasons only added up to a 42-31 record, three bowl appearances, and no Big East titles; the Pittsburgh program clearly feels it is time to look elsewhere.

Frank Cignetti will fill in as the interim coach for that thrilling BBVA Compass Bowl against Kentucky on January 8 in Birmingham.  The bowl will have an odd feeling for Panthers fans, after watching Connecticut take the field against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a week earlier.  A month ago, the Panthers controlled their own destiny in the Big East, and looked ready to finally get that conference title Wannstedt was hoping for.  But after losing to the Huskies, and getting blown out by rival West Virginia, the Panthers found themselves jumbled at the top of the standings holding no tie-breakers.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 3:27 pm
 

Despite downfalls, Wannstedt confident for future

Posted by Chip Patterson

A week ago, many believed that both coaches in the 103rd Backyard Brawl were entering the game with their jobs on the line.  West Virginia stunned Pittsburgh at home, holding them to just one touchdown in the 35-10 victory.  While coaching rumors may have swirled with Bill Stewart retirement rumors, things appear to be fine in Morgantown as the Mountaineers still have a chance to win the Big East and earn a bid to a BCS bowl game.

The Panthers, on the other hand, will have to deal with a second (or worse) place finish in the conference despite controlling their own destiny at the beginning of November.  By dropping crucial late-season tilts against Connecticut and West Virginia, Pittsburgh stepped aside and allowed both teams to break through at the forefront of the Big East.  It was suggested that head coach Dave Wannstedt, hired to bring Pitt "to the next level," might have a closing window of opportunity in Pittsburgh.  His 41-28 record with the Panthers includes no conference titles, and only two bowl games in five seasons.  But Wannstedt seems confident his job is safe for now.

"We're trying to win Saturday," Wannstedt said at his weekly news conference. "I'm not concerned with [job security], we're just trying to beat Cincinnati. Trust me. We aren't going to graduate many players, we have a great future and a lot of recruits committed and a good young team coming back, really."

Wannstedt proceeded to list the key injuries and provide further explanation for the Panthers troubles.  But injury reports do not always work as appropriate excuses for unhappy fan bases.  When Pittsburgh was sitting in first place, I circled this date with Cincinnati as a trap game for a team with BCS hopes.  Now, it may have become a must-win for their head coach.  Even if Wannstedt has the support of the administration and his staff, the fans will be calling for answers if the Panthers drop three of their last four conference games in a season that started with a No. 15 ranking in the polls.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 3:47 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 11:41 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 27)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1.) With Win, South Florida Joins The State Elite - While Miami's loss to South Florida certainly jump-started some major program changes in Coral Gables, the Bulls' upset victory marked a significant moment in the USF program, and the career of first-year head coach Skip Holtz. South Florida has only been playing football since 1997, and only in Division I since 2001. The Bulls' victory over Miami gives a good portion of 2010's squad an in-state ACC sweep. A season ago, it was B.J. Daniels who stepped in for injured QB Matt Grothe to lead the Bulls to victory over Florida State in Tallahassee. This year, it was freshman quarterback Bobby Eveld who stepped in for the injured Daniels and led the team to a victory at Miami. Eveld completed only 8 of 15 passes for 120 yards, but managed the game well to help South Florida withstand a furious charge by Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes offense. For Skip Holtz, the win helped bring a good landmark for an otherwise rollercoaster first season as head coach for a BCS program. The struggling passing game did not spoken well for the offensive minded head coach, but Holtz has been able to coach up this squad from a 3-3 start to staring down a potential fifth straight 8+ win season. Accomplishing that will be more difficult than it sounds, with Jordan Todman and Connecticut coming to town playing for the conference title.

2.) Jordan Todman Leading Connecticut Title Surge - At the end of this definitive weekend in college football, South Florida was not the only new addition to make a statement in the Big East. Added to Division I officially in 2002 and the Big East in 2004, Connecticut stands one win from the first BCS bowl berth in program history. The Huskies have caught fire in the second half of the season, conveniently during the backlogged conference schedule. Wins over West Virginia and PIttsburgh has given Connecticut the tie-breaker edge against all the contenders, and now they control their own destiny. Much of the credit on the offensive end has to be credited to running back Jordan Todman. Todman has broken the 100 mark in 9 of his 10 games this season, and averaging 175.6 yards/game in his last three outings. Todman even left Saturday's showdown with Cincinnati and returned to finish with 31 carries on the day. So far there has been no stopping Todman, and if the Huskies can carry this win streak to the Fiesta Bowl Todman will start getting a lot more (deserved) attention from the league.

3.) Home Struggles Stain Otherwise Successful Season for Syracuse - The Orange have had one of their best seasons in nearly half a decade, but still something seems sour as Syracuse closed 2010 against Boston College on Saturday. After all, a team that hadn't seen a bowl game since 2004 should be excited about a seven win season. Right? Unfortunately, Syracuse fans will be asking the "What If's" for a long time after watching their team finish the season losing three home games in the last month of the season. At the end of October, Syracuse was 6-2 with a 3-1 conference record that had them in the early conference title talks. But the late season collapse that has been characterized by a stagnant offense has demoted the Orange to the middle of the pack in the Big East, simply playing for a bowl with better swag. As a former offensive assistant coach, those questions will have to be answered by Doug Marrone. However, it should be stated that Syracuse has done a great job turning the program around from their recent struggles. But when it comes time for season ticket renewals, don't be surprised if a 2-4 home record (0-4 against FBS teams) keeps ticket sales down in the Carrier Dome.

4.) The Backyard Brawl Could Have Two New Faces In 2011 - Heading into Friday's 103rd meeting of Pittsburgh and West Virginia, Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that the losing coach might find themselves in danger of becoming unemployed. After all the dust cleared in West Virginia's 35-10 manhandling of the Panthers, there is a chance that both schools could be looking for new head coaches for 2011. Predictably, the late-season struggles of the Panthers have Dave Wannstedt on the hot seat in Pittsburgh, but recent reports suggest that West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart may be considering retirement. Both teams have been perennially competitive for the better part of five years, but neither squad has been able to capitalize on their fast starts in 2010. Stewart fell into his position after Rodriguez departed for Michigan, and Wannstedt was brought in to bring the Panthers to the "next level." Trips to the Meineke Car Care Bowl do not exactly count as "next level," and Wannstedt might want to think about taking some pens home from work.

Posted on: November 27, 2010 2:24 pm
 

Connecticut capitalizing on opportunity so far

Posted by Chip Patterson

When West Virginia toppled Pittsburgh in the 103rd Backyard Brawl, Connecticut suddenly had a reason to extra thankful this weekend.  The Panthers loss opened up the Big East conference championship race to the Huskies and Mountaineers, with the prize of a BCS bowl berth at the finish line.  Connecticut has been on a tear since starting the conference season 0-2.  They have knocked off West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse on their climb up the standings.  Now with two weeks left, the Huskies own the tie breaker against the top teams in the conference and control their own destiny.  Connecticut has seized the opportunity so far against Cincinnati, leading 24-10 at half.  

Jordan Todman has continued his impressive performance on the ground, creeping up on the 100 yard mark in the first half.  Todman has broken the 100 yard mark in every game except a 26-0 shutout loss to Louisville, and is averaging 155 yards per game in the Huskies current win streak.  It is awfully impressive to think that a team that just joined Division I is on the verge of a potential BCS Bowl game, and a huge credit to head coach Randy Edsall for getting them to this point. 
Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:55 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2010 12:01 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 20)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. It doesn't have to be pretty, Pittsburgh just found a way to win - It took almost three quarters, but the Panthers offense finally caught stride in the second half. A touchdown-less game saw back-to-back-to-back touchdown drives across a 12 minute span that put Pittsburgh up for good 17-10. Tito Sunseri efficiently led the way on the scoring drives, completing 8 of 9 passes in the second half. Dion Lewis was undoubtedly the Panthers' feature back, rushing 22 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. Avoiding a loss keeps Pittsburgh alone atop the Big East standings, as we creep closer to the end of the season and crowning of a conference champion. With only two other two-loss teams left, all eyes will be on the 103rd Backyard Brawl against West Virginia next week. A Panthers win would eliminate all other contenders except Connecticut, a West Virginia victory blows the race wide open with a week left.

2. At 7-3, West Virginia can thank their defense for success - While many teams fear the power and potential of West Virginia's offense, their success in the 2010 season can be credited mostly to their defense. The Mountaineer defense is among the top five in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 12.9 points per game. No team has scored more than 21 points on West Virginia, Saturday's 17-10 victory over Louisville was another example of Bill Stewart's defensive unit closing out a game, pitching a second half shutout against a Cardinals rushing attack that entered the Saturday averaging 192.3 yards per game -- best in the conference.

3. Connecticut poses the biggest threat as a dark horse - On a three game winning streak, one of the conference's hottest teams is Connecticut. The Huskies have moved from winless and sub-.500 to one of three teams competing for a BCS Bowl birth in late November. The Huskies 3-2 conference record is good enough for second place, and with wins over West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse, they own the tie-breaker against the conference's best teams. If Connecticut wins against Cincinnati and South Florida, all they need is one loss from Pittsburgh and the Huskies will find themselves bowling in January. It would be quite an accomplishment for a program that just joined Division I-A in 2002.

4. Learning the scenarios for the Big East title contenders -
For Pittsburgh to win the Big East - Simply - win both of their remaining games. Can also clinch the division with a win over West Virginia paired with a Connecticut loss. Losing to West Virginia would blow the title hunt wide open with Connecticut taking a slight advantage by owning both tiebreakers.

For West Virginia to win the Big East - West Virginia needs to win the Backyard Brawl and defeat Rutgers in the season finale. They also will need a Connecticut loss in order to avoid losing the conference championship to the Huskies in a tiebreaker.

For Connecticut to win the Big East - The Huskies need a Panthers loss in order to get a shot, but victories over the Panthers and Mountaineers have given Connecticut protection in the event of any ties. However, the Huskies would need to win out as well, and after watching Cincinnati hang 69 points on Rutgers, there are no guarantees in the Big East.

Posted on: November 12, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 2:59 pm
 

Fun with charts: The Big East title hunt

Posted by Chip Patterson

With Connecticut's upset of the first-place Pittsburgh Panthers on Thursday night, a seemingly closed Big East title race has been officially re-opened. The Panthers could have put significant space between them and the rest of the conference, with a 1.5 game lead over second-place Syracuse AND owning the tie-breaker against the Orange. The Orange could have pulled away from the rest of the pack last week, but instead fell short 28-20 to Louisville.

 So now the entire Big East is within two games of first place with each team having at least two conference games left on the schedule, with some having as many as four. Such a tight race in a conference like the Big East would not seem like a big deal on the national scale, but when there is a BCS bowl berth at stake everything chances.  Let's take a look at the weeks ahead in the Big East.


(click here to enlarge image)

Now a few thoughts...

1. Pittsburgh still the team to beat - Despite the upset to Connecticut, Pittsburgh will be the only team in the conference with one loss at the conclusion of Week 11.  The number of two-loss teams will be cut down to four by Sunday, thus pushing three teams basically out of the race entirely.  Also, the teams with the easiest remaining schedule (according to the combined conference record of opponents) are all teams that Pittsburgh has defeated.  The most crucial of which is second-place Syracuse.  Win out, and the BCS Bowl berth will belong to the Panthers.  But nothing is certain, particularly with trips to Tampa and Cincinnati left on the schedule.  Don't forget about those Mountaineers...

2. Three (1-2) teams the most dangerous - With four conference games left on the schedule, even the teams at the bottom of standings have a chance to create the most havoc.  Pittsburgh has yet to play West Virginia and at Cincinnati, two teams that have not lived up to the standards of recent years but are still very dangerous.  Rutgers also hosts Syracuse on Saturday, and could continue to muddle the standings with an upset of the Orange.  They may have the toughest battle to win the conference, but they have the best chance to spoil the fun for the favorites.  Pittsburgh needs at least a game of separation heading into the finale at Cincinnati, because that game is anyone's to win - no matter what the records say.

3.  Looking for a dark horse?  Try Louisville - The Cardinals are fresh off an impressive upset of Syracuse, and they have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the conference.  Also with wins over Connecticut and the Orange, they have positioned themselves well in the event of the likely possible tie-breaker.  Last week the Cardinals showed that the success of the rushing game is not dependent on Bilal Powell, and being able to dictate tempo with the ground game will help significantly down the stretch.  First-year coach Charlie Strong has seen his fair share of obstacles this season, but if he can muster up any kind of home-field advantage at Papa John's Stadium in the next two weeks the Cardinals could find themselves in the Big East title hunt come December.      

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