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Tag:Minnesota
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:06 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 2:08 pm
 

Kill's punishment for Gophers: horse stall duty

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It sounds like a scene out of a sports movie: an old-school coach forcing his undisciplined players to spend part of their summers cleaning out horse stalls in order to build the character that will make them winners.

But while winning big in Minnesota is going to remain a Hollywood fantasy for at least another season, the rest of that description is exactly what's happening for the Gophers under first-year head coach Jerry Kill. Our Dennis Dodd wrote recently that Kill's straightforward approach was exactly what the Gophers needed, and that's been echoed by this Tuesday Minneapolis Star-Tribune column examining Kill's creatively strict approach to team discipline.

According to columnist Chip Scoggins, Kill joined with local sheriff Rich Stanek to create a summer community service program "for players who fell short of their responsibilities, either academically or off campus." Part of that service? Saturdays spent cleaning out the stalls -- manure and all -- belonging to the police horses that patrol the area's Three Rivers Park District.

Players are also required to weed a community garden and perform other services--"some old-fashioned hard labor," Stanek called it.

No doubt the Gophers on manure duty are convinced Kill's idea stinks, if you'll pardon the pun. But is it working? Quarterback MarQuies Gray told Scoggins that "right now players are definitely scared of getting in trouble."

We don't blame them, which might not help Kill much on the recruiting trails. But if Kill can create a tighter, more disciplined team through whatever methods he might choose, Minnesota might end up getting that Hollywood ending after all.


Posted on: August 4, 2011 3:52 pm
 

Big Ten moving to nine conference games in 2017

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Big Ten conference season is going to be getting longer in a few years. Jim Delany announced Thursday that in 2017, the Big Ten is moving to a nine-game conference schedule. Yes, that means some teams get five home conference games a year, but fear not: the conference has a plan:

Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years. The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division. 

The upshot of this is that unless there's a 13th regular season game about to be added (which seems unlikely right now), Big Ten teams are going to be left with three non-conference games to be filled. And being that college football programs still covet home games and bowl bids above all other things, those three non-conference games are probably going to be almost exclusively home dates against cupcakes. Those programs with regular non-conference rivalries (namely Iowa-Iowa State and Michigan-Notre Dame) are going to have to coordinate the schedules so that the road games don't come in years with the extra in-conference road game, otherwise that's only six games at home for the season -- a Big Ten athletic director's worst nightmare.

That all said, nine conference games is still nine conference games, and it's going to make the conference even more fiercely competitive. Say what you will about the Big Ten not being the SEC, but there really aren't that many cupcakes to be found. Between the regular season and the conference title game, whoever the Big Ten champion is will have had to face 10 Big Ten opponents to get there, and at least seven of them will have been teams other than Minnesota, Indiana, or Illinois. That's pretty rough. 

All in all, it's a bold move for the Big Ten. and if there's one thing I would change, it's the distribution of home and away games. While it evens out over time, the division races are going to be unfairly tilted toward the three teams given five home games. Penn State probably can't expect to win many division titles in odd-numbered years when it has five road games and Ohio State's over there with five home games. I'd rather see it alternate between entire divisions (Legends host the protected inter-divisional rivalry game in even-numbered years, Leaders host it in the odds), so at the very least divisional crowns are decided on more equal footing.

Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Whatever you think about preseason polls -- such as the USA Today Coaches version, released earlier today -- the one thing you cannot argue is that they don't matter. For Oklahoma and Alabama, the news became official today that if they win all their games this 2011 season, they will be in the BCS national championship game--no ifs, ands, or buts. And though they'll start the season No. 4, the same can now be said of LSU, since they'll face two of the three teams ranked ahead of them.

So with that fact about their importance in mind, it's time to break down where each of the SEC's 12 teams landed in (or outside of) the first Coaches Poll of the year, and decide whether the pollsters placed them too high, or too low, or just right:

ALABAMA (No. 2): So much for defense winning championships, apparently. The Tide allowed a full half-yard less per-play than the Sooners did in 2011 (ranking seventh in the FBS to Oklahoma's 33rd) and return 10 defensive starters, while Oklahoma has said good-bye to All-American safety Quinton Carter and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jeremy Beal. There's also the little matter of Nick Saban's recent defensive pedigree over the much, much iffier Sooners'.

Given that Saban is still deciding between two inexperienced quarterbacks while the Sooners return Heisman candidate Landry Jones, we can understand the coaches' thinking here. But we don't agree with it.

Verdict? Even at No. 2, too low.

LSU (No. 4): It's not often you see the nation's 86th-ranked offense rewarded with the No. 4 ranking the following season, but such is the buzz surrounding the Tigers after their bludgeoning of Texas A&M in last year's Cotton Bowl.

But until Jordan Jefferson proves he's as improved as he appeared to be that night in Dallas and the new (and, unfortunately, newly reshuffled) offensive staff prove they're genuinely capable of putting all the Bayou Bengals' weapons to use, we're still foreseeing a lot of tight, competitive, coin-flip-style ball games. And as excellent as Les Miles is in those kinds of contests, that's still not the recipe for the one-loss season required to finish in the final top-five.

Verdict? Top 10 makes sense, but top 5 is too high.

SOUTH CAROLINA  (No. 12): There's no question that with Stephen Garcia back in the fold, the Gamecocks have the talent to live up to this lofty billing. And the schedule, while difficult, isn't that difficult; no LSU or Alabama means trips to Georgia and Arkansas are the trickiest dates on the slate. If Carolina can survive the week 2 trip to Athens, a 10- or even 11-win season beckons.

Of course, the Gamecocks have also been the kind of program that traditionally loses trap games like their roadies at Mississippi State or Tennessee, so it's also possible they drop three or four regular-season games and wind up nowhere near No. 12. Splitting the difference seems reasonable.

Verdict? About right.

ARKANSAS (No. 14): We'll make this simple: a talented, veteran defense opposite a Bobby Petrino offense featuring his long sought-after plowhorse running back and the nation's best wide receiving corps? They're going to be really, really good. 10-2 good, second straight BCS bowl berth good, we're thinking.

Verdict? Too low.

AUBURN (No. 19): As we mentioned earlier today, the old adage that you shouldn't drop the previous No. 1 until they lose might suggest the Tigers have been slapped in the face being as low as No. 19. And indeed, no defending national champion has been ranked this low to start the season since Minnesota went unranked in the 1961 preseason top 20.

But almost none of those defending national champions have faced either the kind of talent exodus the Tigers do or the savage slate that sees Auburn face all seven of the other SEC teams in the poll. If Gene Chizik can win the nine games that are likely necessary to finish the season in the top 20, he'll have done nearly as good a job as he did in 2010.

Verdict? It's a nice gesture towards the defending champs. But performance-wise? Too high.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (No. 20): Dan Mullen's Bulldogs will be good enough (and will have enough opportunity, with home dates against Alabama, LSU, and South Carolina) to impact the SEC race and make the top 25. They don't seem to have enough horses (particularly in a graduation-damaged front seven) to actually challenge for a title in a division as completely stacked as the West. 20 is jus tabout where we'd have them, too.

Verdict? About right.

GEORGIA (No. 22): Mark Richt's Bulldogs, on the other hand, are the SEC's biggest 2011 wild card. They might start 0-2 and collapse in an under-.500, Richt-finishing heap. They might start 2-0 and ride the league's cushiest schedule all the way to an undefeated regular season. (Seriously. Look at their slate and tell me which game after the Carolina tilt they won't be favored in if they can get past the Gamecocks.)

That would suggest a cautious 22 might be about right, but we're betting Richt has turned the tide with this spring's "Dream Team" recruiting class and the focus that comes with a make-or-break season.

Verdict? Too low. We think. Maybe.

FLORIDA (No. 24): It's easy to forget that for all of the disappointment and frustration of Urban Meyer's final season in Gainesville, the Gators still won eight games--and could have even snagged a few more if not for some unfortunate bounces against teams like LSU and Mississippi State. So even though we're firmly in wait-and-see mode where the John Brantley-Charlie Weis shotgun marriage is concerned, having the SEC's second-best defense from a year ago getting the added boost of Will Muschamp's arrival seems like reason enough to take a flyer on the Gators at the bottom of the ballot.

Verdict? About right.

THE OTHER FOUR (n/a): Tennessee pulled seven voting points to land in the "Others receiving votes" category at "No. 41" overall, with none of the other three SEC teams receiving even a token vote. We're surprised the Volunteers didn't get a little more love -- after their late-season surge in 2010, there was some measure of buzz pegging them as 2011 sleepers -- but after Tyler Bray's up-and-down spring, we don't blame the pollsters for their skepticism.

Verdict? About right.


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 15, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:42 pm
 

LaMichael James headlines Doak Walker watch list

Posted by Chip Patterson

Keeping the watch lists coming here at the Eye on College Football, with the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announcing the initial list for the prestigious Doak Walker Award. The award, which was first given to Washington's Greg Lewis in 1990, celebrates the nation's top running back.

Oregon running back LaMichael James won the award last season, and he is back on the watch list for 2011. In the award's history, only two players have won in back-to-back years: Ricky Williams (1997-1998) and Darren McFadden (2006-2007).

Here is the rest of the watch list, which will continue accepting nominations through October



Posted on: July 14, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 12:45 pm
 

The entire 2011 season simulated on NCAA 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

After getting my new copy of EA Sports' NCAA Football 12 on Tuesday, I took the time to simulate the entire 2012 season to see what the video game thinks is going to happen this year. In order to make things realistic, I even went through all the trouble of updating rosters to reflect what they currently look like.

That meant moving Russell Wilson from NC State to Wisconsin, removing Terrelle Pryor -- not to mention benching the suspended Buckeyes for the first five games of the season -- removing WaShaun Ealey and Caleb King from Georgia's backfield and so on and so forth.

No need to thank me, it was a labor of love.

So how did things turn out?

Well, it looks as if we'll once again have a non-BCS school finish the year undefeated -- the only school to do so -- but it's not Boise State or TCU. In fact, Boise State finally got its shot at a national title, but it couldn't come through.

Who did?

Let's find out. First we'll start with the conference champions (Records don't include conference championships or bowl games).

ACC -- North Carolina 9-3 (6-2)

Big 12 -- Texas A&M 10-2 (8-1)

Big East -- South Florida 9-3 (6-1)

Big Ten -- Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1)

C-USA -- Houston 12-0 (8-0)

MAC -- Western Michigan 10-2 (7-1)

MWC -- Boise State 12-0 (7-0)

Pac 12 -- Oregon 9-3 (7-2)

SEC -- South Carolina 11-1 (7-1)

Sun Belt -- Troy 10-2 (8-0)

WAC -- Fresno State 8-4 (7-0)

And how about those BCS bowl games? Well I'm glad you asked.

Rose Bowl -- Wisconsin 49, Oregon 46 OT

Fiesta Bowl -- Texas A&M 38, Ohio State 17

Orange Bowl -- North Carolina 28, Alabama 20

Sugar Bowl -- Houston 48, South Florida 13

BCS National Championship -- South Carolina 24, Boise State 22

Yes, that's right, the Ol' Ball Coach has added another national title to his resume. Boise State did have a chance to topple the BCS machine, but couldn't pull through. Trailing 24-16, Kellen Moore hit Kyle Efaw on a 16-yard touchdown with 3 minutes left, but the Broncos couldn't convert the two-point conversion. The Gamecocks ran out the clock and celebrated a national title. Oh, and Stephen Garcia was the game's MVP. Let that marinate in your brain for a minute or two.

As for awards, I hope Houston quarterback Case Keenum used all that time off last season to build himself a trophy case because it looks as if he's going to need one. Keenum not only won the Heisman Trophy, but the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Davey O'Brien trophies to boot. That's what happens when you lead Houston to a 14-0 record yet still finish second in both polls.

Now, if that's not enough info for you, let's take a look at some of the season storylines by conference.

ACC

-- Jimbo Fisher hits the sophomore slump. Florida State doesn't even qualify for a bowl berth after finishing the year 5-7 with a 3-5 mark within the ACC. FSU loses to Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State, Boston College, Miami and Florida. And of those losses, only the loss to Florida was by less than 10 points.

-- Al Golden has Miami on the right track. Sure, the Canes only went 8-5 during the season, but they did finish 6-2 in ACC play, just missing the ACC title game thanks to a 27-17 loss to North Carolina

-- Duke goes bowling! That's right, Duke finishes the year 7-6 with a 4-4 mark in the ACC, including a two-point win over UNC. Though the Dukies do lose to Florida in the Music City Bowl. I have no idea who Steve Spurrier was rooting for while watching.

-- Boston College is the "best" team in the Atlantic Division. The Eagles finish the year 8-6 with a 5-3 mark in the conference. They even nearly beat UNC in the title game, losing 29-27.

Big 12

-- Oklahoma can't handle the pressure. The Sooners started out the year 7-0 before getting shocked by Kansas State on the road -- where else? -- 24-21. They also lost at Oklahoma State 38-24 to end the regular season and kill their hopes of a BCS berth.

-- Texas won't be terrible two years in a row. The Longhorns finish the season 11-2 with a 7-2 mark in the Big 12. Though they do lose to Oklahoma and Texas A&M, which stings a bit.

-- Where have you gone, Blaine Gabbert? Missouri needs you. The Tigers finished the season 4-8 with a 2-7 mark in the conference. Seems they're going to miss Colorado, Nebraska and the North Division.

Big East

-- The Big East is respectable. While no team in the conference finished the season with less than three losses (Pitt being the only with three), seven of the eight Big East schools won at least seven games, with Rutgers holding the only losing record.

-- Louisville can't finish. The Cardinals led the Big East most of the season before losing four of their last five games to finish 3-4 in the conference.

-- Casino or football field, Dana Holgorsen has a tough time winning anywhere this year. The Mountaineers went 2-5 in the Big East during his inaugural campaign.

Big Ten

-- Who needs Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor? Ohio State went 4-1 in its first five games of the season while so many of its playmakers sat out, and though the Buckeyes struggled in Big Ten play, they still finished the year 9-4 and got an at-large berth to the Fiesta Bowl. Oh, and they still beat Michigan.

-- Not that Michigan minded all that much, because Brady Hoke made believers out of the faithful in his first year. That Michigan loss to Ohio State? That was the Wolverines only Big Ten loss of the regular season, as they went 7-1 to win the Legends Division.

-- Wisconsin loves Russell Wilson. Wilson and the Badgers tore up the Big Ten all year long until the final week of the regular season. Then, after being 11-0 and ranked #1 for the majority of the regular season, the Badgers fell at home to Penn State 42-28. Though I guess beating Michigan 34-13 in the first Big Ten Championship Game and then Oregon in the Rose Bowl took some of the sting out of it.

-- New kid Nebraska gets picked on. The Huskers went 3-5 in Big Ten play, even losing to Minnesota. Though that wasn't as embarrassing as the 13-7 loss to Ohio -- University, not State -- in the Texas Bowl.

Pac-12

-- USC isn't on probation in virtual reality. So the Trojans were able to win the Pac-12 South division, even if they did lose to Oregon 35-14 in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship.

-- Utah enjoyed their move more than Colorado. The Utes finished the season 5-4 in conference play while Colorado went 3-6.

-- Andrew Luck should have gone pro. Stanford and Luck were off to a very nice start to the season, opening 7-0. Then Luck broke his arm, missed the rest of the year and Stanford finished 10-3.

SEC

-- The East still stinks. Sure, South Carolina wins the national title, but no other SEC East team managed to win more than four games in the conference. Meanwhile, in the West, LSU had the worst season of anyone, going 7-6 with a 3-5 mark in the SEC. Les Miles needs to eat more grass.

-- Will Muschamp did OK. Florida finished the season 9-4 with a 4-4 mark in the SEC, though Charlie Weis' offense needs some work. The Gators never scored more than 21 points against a SEC opponent not named Vanderbilt.

-- Alabama needs to fire Nick Saban, PAAAAWWWWWWWL. Oh the indignity of Alabama's 2012 season. Not only did the Tide lose the SEC title game to South Carolina, but then they went and lost to North Carolina in the Orange Bowl. Since when does Alabama play in the Orange Bowl, PAAWWWWL? NICK SABAN HAS GOT TO GO.

-- Auburn doesn't miss Cam Newton as much as you'd think. Even without their Heisman winning quarterback, the Tigers still manage to go 8-5 with a 4-4 mark in the conference. Not great, but not terrible either.

Non-BCS

-- TCU would like to get to the Big East ASAP. The Horned Frogs lose twice in 2012, and not just to Boise State. Unlike 2011, TCU wasn't able to escape San Diego State, losing 33-30 at Qualcomm Stadium.

-- Notre Dame is back! The Irish finish the year 10-3, and feature one of the most potent offenses in college football. Why they're painting Brian Kelly over Touchdown Jesus as you read this.

-- BYU finds independence to be constricting. The Cougars first season free of the shackles of conferencedom does not work out very well, as BYU finishes the year 4-8 and even loses to Utah State along the way.

-- While I already went over the disrespect Houston received, what about conference mate Southern Miss? The Golden Eagles finished the regular season 11-1 before losing to Houston in the C-USA title game, and they couldn't even sniff the Top 25.

And that's it. There's the entire 2011 season right there according to a video game. I suppose at this point there's no point in even watching any of the games. Now, if you don't mind me, I'm going to go try and wrap my head around Stephen Garcia leading South Carolina to a national championship.

Can you imagine that party?
Posted on: June 18, 2011 12:43 pm
 

DeLeon Eskridge leaves the Gophers

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As if turning around the Minnesota football program wasn't going to be hard enough for new head coach Jerry Kill, on Friday he found out that he's going to have to do so without the team's leading rusher from last season. Minnesota announced on Friday that DeLeon Eskridge was leaving the school due to personal reasons.

"He and I both felt it was in his best interest to make this decision," coach Jerry Kill said.

Eskridge asked to be released from his scholarship due to a family situation and would like to finish school closer to his home in San Francisco.

Eskridge led the Gophers in rushing yards and touchdowns with 698 and 7 respectively. The Gophers do have some depth behind Eskridge with fellow senior Duane Bennett along with three redshirt freshman in LaMonte Edwards, Devon Wright and Donnell Kirkwood. They also have quarterback MarQueis Gray, but this is still a rushing attack that finished tenth in the Big Ten with 135.3 yards per game last season.

Now they'll have to replace about 59 of those yards every week. 

Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:55 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 60-51

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

60. PHIL KNIGHT, head honcho/sugar daddy, Nike. He just might be the most passionate college football fan in the country worth $12 billion or more. Actually, Phil Knight is one of the most passionate college football fans in the country, period. The co-founder and chairman of Nike, Knight has an imprint on the sport unlike just about any other individual. In addition to Nike having contracts with all but a handful of schools, Knight has given millions of dollars to Oregon (his alma mater) and Stanford (where he went to grad school) athletics.

Knight has been ingrained as the poster boy for Oregon football the past few years, despite trying to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible. There's good reason for his status as one of the most powerful boosters in the country, though, whether it be having an athletic department official personally report news of a Duck recruiting commitment or listening in to play calls in his suite during games. His reach, through Nike, is even impacting college football fashion choices. While the Ducks have made the leap to BCS contender every year, they're also at the cutting edge of uniform design, and that's slowly filtering down to other Nike programs like Arizona State. Phil Knight might not be the most powerful person in college athletics ... but he certainly comes close. --BF

59. MICHAEL FLOYD, wide receiver, Notre Dame. At this point we don't even know if Michael Floyd will be playing football for Notre Dame this fall. After he surprised a lot of people in South Bend and decided to return for his senior season, Floyd was busted for a DUI - his third alcohol related offense since coming to Notre Dame. He could have been kicked out of school but survived the notorious ResLife board, though he's still under suspension from his head coach, Brian Kelly. Kelly has said that Floyd will either play every game for Notre Dame this season, or he won't play any, and that decision will have a huge impact on the Irish this year.

Odds are, Floyd is going to play. The fact is that he's one of the most important members of the Notre Dame offense, and his presence on the field could be the difference-maker between another 8-5 season and a possible return to the BCS for the Golden Domers. Floyd is one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the country, and may be the best red zone receiver in college football. His 28 career touchdown catches are a Notre Dame record and, if he plays, he'll likely break the school's records for yards and receptions as well. -- TF

58. MARQUEIS GRAY, quarterback/wide receiver (?), Minnesota. MarQueis Gray is something of an enigma in Minneapolis; the high school Army All-American quarterback was a recruiting coup for Tim Brewster and Minnesota back in 2008, but since then Gray has mainly spent his time at wide receiver for the Gophers, taking a backseat to the now-departed Adam Weber. Gray has lined up at quarterback a few times in his first couple years on the field, but it's usually been to execute a running play of some kind, as Gray's passing has been mostly disastrous--he's completed just 8 of 23 attempts thus far, and that includes a 5-of-6 performance against Ohio State. Take that out, and it's a surreal 3-of-17. (Only one interception in those 23 passes though, so at least when Gray misses, he misses everybody.)

Still, it's hard not to be tantalized by Gray's prospects as a quarterback. He has the size (6'4" and a strong 230) to play under center at the next level, his arm strength is legitimate, and he's plenty fast. All in all, he has such physical skills that Brewster had to get him on the field one way or another, and that's how his first two years played out at receiver. But at some point, someone with Gray's potential has to turn "on the field one way or another" into "on the field and leading his team," and if Gray can't make significant progress on that front in 2011, new head coach Jerry Kill's first season is going to be a long one. -- AJ

57. DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM, wide receiver, Hillcrest High School (Springfield, Mo.).  The nation's top high school football player according to MaxPreps analyst Tom Lemming, Dorial Green-Beckham is appropriately one of the most sought-after high school players in the country, if not the most sought-after player in the country. With his combination of speed and size, Green-Beckham has drawn comparisons to Randy Moss. Perhaps it's no surprise that one of the best photos in the MaxPreps database (at left) is of the star receiver is him making a leaping, one-handed grab.

Green-Beckham is considering schools closer to home, such as Missouri and Oklahoma, along with several SEC schools. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound receiver does not have a timetable as to when he'll choose a school, but he is looking to make his choice known on Signing Day so this will be a process that lasts until February. Recruiting has taken a back seat for Green-Beckham at the moment, though, as his younger brother Darnell is going through treatment for leukemia. As Dorial and his entire family goes through this grueling ordeal with Darnell, it's an important reminder of life outside of the game of football. -- BF

56. CHARLIE STRONG, head coach, Louisville. When Strong finally got the tap to join the head coaching community, his peers were elated and Louisville fans were excited to see what the heralded defensive coordinator could do with the Cardinals. He was brought in to fix what Steve Kragthorpe had broken, and in one season he was able to deliver the program's first bowl win since the Bobby Petrino era. The 2010 team was loaded with veterans on defense, and anchored by Bilal Powell's 1,405 yards of downhill running.

With Powell and many starters gone from last year's squad, Strong will have to deliver a repeat performance with less tools in the shed. To make matters worse, his team was decimated by injury this spring. The plague got so bad for the Cardinals that the spring "game" was changed to a scrimmage; the only way to practice with the offensive line became sunrise sessions that worked with the class schedules of the few healthy lineman. The second-year head coach maintained a positive outlook, but was honest about the obstacles he faced with the already-inexperienced team this spring. The coaching challenge for Strong is even greater in 2011--unfortunately, after 2010's success, the expectations might be even higher. -- CP

55. E.J. MANUEL, quarterback, Florida State. The revival in Tallahassee has been one of the most prominent offseason stories in the ACC. Jimbo Fisher's first season at the helm brought an Atlantic Division title, a Chick-Fil-A Bowl win over SEC runner-up South Carolina, and their first 10-win season since 2003. Already pegged as the favorite in the ACC, and possibly a national title contender, the expectations are back at Florida State. And much of the weight of those expectations falls on the shoulders of quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Manuel is no stranger to leading the Seminoles. Frequently over the last two seasons he has stepped in for the oft-injured Christian Ponder. But the appearances near the end of 2010 (against Clemson, Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, and then the Gamecocks in the bowl game) showed a more mature and dangerous playmaker than Florida State fans had seen before. Manuel kept himself composed on the biggest stage, being called on at the last minute in both situations to step in and lead the offense. He didn't have a fantastic spring, but Fisher is confident in his starter's ability to lead this team all the way to the top. Now the pressure is on Manuel to prove him right. -- CP

54. HARVEY UPDYKE, accused tree poisoner, Dadeville, Ala. No, "Al from Dadeville" isn't about to suit up for his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide, isn't about to steal any signals from his hated Auburn Tigers, isn't about to do anything to impact events on the field. But his (alleged) destructive actions will resonate throughout the season off the field, as college football learns to confront not only its increasingly rabid fandoms, but the Internet soapboxes and radio call-in echo chambers that help turn the healthy love of a favorite team into something toxic. If 2011 proves to be the year where the sport takes a legitimate step towards hooliganism, Updyke will have been the tipping point.

And of course, that goes double in the state of Alabama. Updyke isn't in any way representative of the Tide fanbase as a whole, nor that of the Tide's rivals on the Plains; the outpouring of support from Tuscaloosa after the poisoning announcement (and -- though in a situation so much more serious the two perhaps shouldn't be mentioned in the same paragraph -- from Auburn after the tornado tragedy) is far more typical of the majority of the state's football fans. Still, the same mad passion for college football that helped make Alabama the sport's epicenter the previous two seasons also unquestionably helped spawn the likes of Updyke. As the Tide gears up for another potential title run, the specter of "Al from Dadeville" -- and the potential for harm its school spirit-gone-wrong represents -- will continue to linger over the Iron Bowl ... and all of college football. -- JH

53. TOM O'BRIEN, head coach, N.C. State. In his fourth year since arriving at N.C. State from Boston College, O'Brien was able to deliver just the Wolfpack's second season since 1994 with at least nine wins. His team even came within one victory of the ACC Championship Game berth, then made up for that disappointment with an impressive 23-7 victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. For the time being, O'Brien could do no wrong. Wolfpack fans said their goodbyes to baseball-bound star quarterback Russell Wilson, and O'Brien began focusing on repeating the success from 2010.

Then in late April, Wilson decided that he wanted to come back to college football. That's when O'Brien stood strong on his word and made one of the more unconventional (and possibly influential) coaching decisions in recent memory. He stuck by junior quarterback Mike Glennon as his starter, and Wilson was granted a release from his scholarship. With one year of eligibility remaining, Wilson could end up being the final piece to a BCS team looking to get to the next level, or he could end up the next Jeremiah Masoli--a round peg trying to quickly fit into a square hole. Glennon, meanwhile, could be the star gunslinger he was thought to be as a recruit, or maybe the three years on the sideline behind Wilson have made him rusty. There are many different endings to the Wolfpack's 2011 story, but it all started with O'Brien's decision to let Wilson walk out the door. -- CP

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52. DAN PERSA, quarterback, Northwestern. Persa had quite the eventful five seconds last November 13. He threw a game-winning touchdown to Demetrius Fields in a 21-17 win over Iowa, then came down awkwardly on his right leg and ruptured his Achilles tendon, ending his season. And it was a stellar season, at that; Persa was in the top 10 nationally in passing efficiency, and at the time of his injury he was leading the Wildcats in rushing yards by a substantial margin. Northwestern would go on the finish 0-3 after Persa's injury (although that might have more to do with the 163 points they gave up in those contests than anything else).

Fortunately, Persa's rehab is on track, and he's probably going to be back under center for Northwestern come this September. Achilles injuries are tricky, though, and Persa's mobility is probably going to be affected to some extent. Doubtless, Pat Fitzgerald would like to rush his quarterback less anyway, seeing as how Persa's 2010 workload was more necessity than luxury, but that means someone in Northwestern's backfield is going to have to step up in 2011. Mike Trumpy, perhaps? They're probably hoping so in Evanston. -- AJ

51. TOMMY TUBERVILLE, head coach, Texas Tech. Not every red Raider fan was thrilled with the idea of replacing Mike Leach with Tommy Tuberville last season. It was kind of like Tech had traded in its Ferrari Enzo for a Ford Focus. There's nothing wrong with the Focus, as it'll get you where you want to go, gets nice mileage and is extremely dependable ... but it's not a Ferrari. Still, in 2010 at least, it's not as though the Texas Tech offense became a replica of Tuberville's conservative Auburn teams; the Raiders still finished seventh in the country in passing yards and 23rd nationally in points-per-game.

The problem -- as is normally the case in Lubbock -- was a defense that allowed over 30 points a contest. Tuberville got to where he is as a head coach by coaching defense, and as he enters his second season in Lubbock, we should start to see the defense improve. And if that starts to happen, fans may have to adjust to a less active scoreboard, but they may start seeing a lot more wins as well. Tuberville's track record at Texas A&M, Miami, Ole Miss and Auburn shows that Tech is going to be a better team long-term with him at the helm, a difference the Raiders should start seeing in 2011. -- TF

The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71 and 70-61. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.




 
 
 
 
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