Posted on: December 9, 2010 5:55 pm

Reports: Pelini "in the mix" at Miami; Tubby out?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

According to Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne on Wednesday, neither Husker head coach Bo Pelini nor Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt had requested permission to speak to the other about the Hurricanes' vacant head coaching position.

But if this report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is accurate -- and it's worth noting that Pelini declined to address the rumors about his flirtation with the Miami job, rather than simply denying them -- then Pelini and Hocutt (or their representatives) decided it was easier to ask forgiveness than permission anyway:
Pelini has spoken to ... Hocutt about the Hurricanes' coaching job but has not been offered it, two people with knowledge of the search told the Sun Sentinel on Thursday.

"He is in the mix," one of the sources said.
That's a mix that as of yesterday appeared to have been culled by one, with Dan Mullen likely pursuing the Florida job instead. And now it may be down another candidate, as the Austin American-Statesman reports that Tommy Tuberville is staying put at Texas Tech :
Tuberville has told school officials there he will not pursue further the head coaching vacancy at the University of Miami, a highly placed official at a Big 12 school told the Statesman Thursday afternoon.

“I think he could get it,” the source said of the Miami job, “because he’s been there before ... But he has shown no interest. They called and talked to him, but he didn’t want to visit with them.”

This runs contrary to previous whispers regarding Tuberville and the Miami job (which he was supposedly angling for), but where Tuberville agent Jimmy Sexton is concerned, smoke-without-fire is par for the course.

If the Sun-Sentinel report is correct that Al Golden has joined Tuberville and Mullen on the "thanks but no thanks" list, Hocutt's options have started to dwindle. If Pelini stays at Nebraska, Hocutt could be all-but-forced to go with a candidate like Randy Edsall or Kevin Sumlin by something like the process of elimination.

But Pelini hasn't declared himself out of the Miami picture just yet. While it's hard to see at first why Pelini would leave football-crazed Lincoln just as the Huskers prepare for the challenge of the Big Ten for a cash-strapped, fan-challenged 'Cane program treading water in the ACC, that Nebraska is still paying him a salary commensurate with schools like Kansas and Oklahoma State might have something to do with it. Until he says point-blank he's staying at Nebraska or the Hurricanes hire someone else, it will be premature to assume Pelini's not taking his coaching talents to South Beach.


Posted on: December 9, 2010 4:28 pm

Fisher says yes, he'll be calling Gator recruits

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The game of recruiting is one where sharks are forever circling any given team's targets and commitments, looking for the one hint of blood that could let them sway a given recruit in a given direction. And seismic news like Urban Meyer's resignation at a recruiting juggernaut like Florida is like tossing those sharks a huge bucket of chum.

This is a given. A coach like Jimbo Fisher at Florida State wouldn't be earning the full amount of his multi-million dollar salary if he didn't at least make a phone call to any Gator recruits who might be inclined to give his Seminoles a closer look given the turmoil in Gainesville. But it's not every day one of the sharks comes right out and admits, as Fisher did at a Chick-Fil-A Bowl press conference today, that yes, he's going to be one of the ones circling (emphasis added):

"I think it will cause at least some delay in [Florida’s] recruiting and what they’re doing and if there’s some battles that we can win from that, OK – so be it. Because that’s part of the business.”

Fisher has gone on record before as deriding those programs who use negative recruiting tactics but, obviously, there’s no way he can’t attempt to use this situation to Florida State’s advantage. Miami is searching for a head coach. Now Florida is, too. And all of a sudden Fisher, not even through his first full season as a head coach, is the most tenured coach among the state’s Big Three.

“They were using the turmoil going on here for all the time to [recruit against us],” Fisher said. “I mean, that’s part of the business … the good thing, we don’t have many guys left to get, know what I mean? There’s six, seven guys or whatever we take or how many it is here at the end.

“It’s not like you’re at the beginning. But it could influence [recruiting] and hopefully it’ll help.”

As Fisher points out, the 2011 recruiting cycle is so far advanced at this stage that there's a limit to how much he and the Gators' other rivals can benefit. But that doesn't mean the 'Noles won't be thrilled if they can get a second shot with Florida commitments like one-time FSU target Nick Waisome, a four-star defensive back from Groveland, Fla., or a better shot with hotly-pursued uncommitted Lake City, Fla. defensive tackle Tim Jernigan.

One player is always just one player, but given how badly the 'Noles embarrassed the Gators in this year's season finale and how well the Seminoles have already recruited this cycle, every recruit that widens the gap between the two programs makes it that much harder for whoever takes over in Gainesville to regain the Gators' dominance of the state. When their rivals aren't even bothering to disguise their intentions of exploiting Meyer's departure for maximum effect, it's obvious how quickly Jeremy Foley will need to find Meyer's replacement ... and how badly he'll need to make the correct choice.


Posted on: December 7, 2010 11:13 am

Scooters claim another Maryland player

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Earlier this season there was a trend that saw college football players say dumb things on Twitter followed by those players and their teammates being told by their head coaches to stay off of Twitter.  It made sense because you can't say anything stupid on Twitter if you're not on Twitter.  It's a model that Ralph Friedgen may want to follow at Maryland, though it's not Twitter he should be keeping his players off of.

It's scooters.

In October freshman offensive lineman Pete DeSouza broke both of his legs in a scooter accident, ending his season early. Now freshman cornerback Dexter McDougle will miss the Military Bowl against East Carolina after breaking his clavicle in what was described as a "single scooter accident on campus." 

Though some conspiracy theorists believe there was a second scooter, located on a grassy knoll.

Fellow Terrapin Isiah Ross was driving the scooter at the time of the accident, but escaped without injury.  The duo apparently hit a bump in the road that caused Ross to lose control of the scooter, causing the injury to McDougle and sent him to the hospital where he was treated and released.

McDougle played in 11 games for the Terps this season with 22 tackles and 3 pass break ups.
Posted on: December 7, 2010 12:30 am

Randy Shannon leaves notes for Miami players

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In collegiate athletics these days, it's all too common to see "it's just business" used as an excuse for quickly divorcing one's self from the emotional difficulties that come with major personnel changes. Players never like seeing their coaches leave the team before they do, even though it's increasingly common, and when a coach compounds the stress by stone-facedly blaming the almighty dollar, nobody's better off.

It's refreshing, then, to see the way Randy Shannon dealt with his firing from Miami two weekends ago. Rather than just say "that's that" or make a cursory goodbye through the press, Shannon went through the unusual effort to address dozens of his players on his way out with hand-written notes.

"It was the nicest thing he ever said to me since I’ve been here," tackle Orlando Franklin told the Miami Herald on Monday. “He was just telling me to keep my head up and don’t get sidetracked. I’m going to actually rewrap it and put it under my Christmas tree so I can open it on Christmas Day. I felt real nice when I [saw] it in my locker."

Miami cornerback Ryan Hill said he talked to about 20 teammates who told him they received notes and suspects many more actually did. Other fired coaches, consider the bar raised.

This sort of high commitment to the well-being, character, and progress of the young men even after Shannon was no longer professionally obligated to do so is something that would be nice to see more often. No, we don't want to get into seeing coaches get into the act of self-publicized token goodbyes and other empty gestures, but Shannon's notes are the type of thing that takes effort. Plus, y'know, we didn't hear about this from him, either.

Perhaps Miami's next coach will be better at meeting expectations when it comes to wins and losses, and Shannon's failure to do so is a perfectly acceptable reason for him to get fired. Seriously, it happens at basically every school, and there's no reason for Miami to be different. That next new coach will have absolutely giant shoes to fill where it comes to genuine concern for his players, though, and that's something the current Hurricanes will be acutely aware of going forward. Miami would be wise to hire with great consideration to character accordingly.

Posted on: December 4, 2010 1:45 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2010 3:07 pm

ACC game breaks out at C-USA title game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

You wouldn't expect a game featuring June Jones on one sideline and a UCF offense on the other that's scored 35 or more points six of the last seven weeks -- a game played to decide the Conference USA championship , the most defense-optional conference in the country -- to beocme a defensive slugfest.

But at halftime, that's exactly what the C-USA title game (held on the Knights' home field in Orlando) has become. UCF leads 10-0 on a Jeffrey Godfrey touchdown pass and a Nick Cattoi field goal to end the half, but the story of the game has been the Knight defense. They entered this game the conference's best D by nearly 50 yards a game allowed , and have so far held the Mustangs to just 7 first downs and fewer than 150 total yards, and dangerous QB Kyle Padron to a quiet 7-of-13 half.

The other story is how little football there's been; several long, clock-churning drives by the Knights (the touchdown came at the end of a 13-play march that ate nearly seven-and-a-half minutes of gametime) and a pair of long SMU drives that came up empty, the Knights got only four possessions in the half, the Mustangs only three .

Assuming the Mustangs can see more of the ball and Padron can get untracked, the game has a long way to go before being decided.

Update, 2 p.m. EST: Unfortunately for SMU, the UCF secondary -- which must have hit double-digits in deep passes batted away by game's end -- never did let Padron get in any kind of rhythm, as the Mustang QB finished a rocky 18-of-34 with two interceptions and several crushing coverage sacks taken. The final two of those came on SMU's last-gasp drive, down 17-7, which reached the UCF 25 but no further as the sacks ran the clock out.

The result is justice for UCF, which finished with the conference's best record both in league play (7-1) and overall (9-3). With their defense and the freshman star-in-the-making Godfrey playing far beyond his years, they'll be more than a match for whatever SEC team they face in the Liberty Bowl.
Posted on: December 3, 2010 8:09 pm

Keys to victory in the ACC Championship Game

Posted by Chip Patterson

The ACC Championship Game will have a familiar look on the field, but very different feel than years past. The ACC Championship was first held in 2005, and the first five seasons were all played in the state of Florida (first Jacksonville, then Tampa the last two years). But playing conditions will be a bit different as the title game moves north in 2010 to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Saturday night's weather forecast calls for 40 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain. Not exactly the breezy 60 degrees and clear that Tampa will enjoy at the same time.

But the teams on the field should look right at home, no matter where the location. Saturday's showdown is a rematch of the first ACC Championship Game, held in 2005. Until Virginia Tech's arrival, the ACC practically belonged to the Seminoles. Florida State won 12 conference championships in 14 years, finishing with a victory in the inaugural title game. Saturday will mark their first return since that game. The Hokies, on the other hand, are looking to add some more ACC hardware after locking up their fourth division title in six seasons of conference play.

On Saturday, the ACC's past will try and reclaim the throne from the ACC present. Here are three keys to the 2010 ACC Championship Game.
1) Florida State's pass rush must get to Tyrod Taylor

Without a doubt, the success of Virginia Tech's offense starts and finishes with Tyrod Taylor. The 2010 ACC Player of the Year has matured from a dangerous young talent to one of the most complete offensive threats in the nation. The job of containing him will start with the Florida State front line. The Seminole pass rush led the conference with 43 sacks in 2010, and they will be needed to penetrate into the Virginia Tech backfield to disrupt Taylor and force him into making some mistakes. Unfortunately, Florida State may find it difficult to do that to a player who only threw four interceptions in 256 pass attempts.

2) Battle of the X's and O's: Jimbo Fisher vs. Bud Foster

One thing that Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer went out of his way to mention on Friday was the Florida State's play calling. "Running the right play at the right time, they are good at that," Beamer mentioned when asked about Florida State's offense. That offensive play calling is still done by head coach Jimbo Fisher. On Saturday night, Fisher will go toe to toe with Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster - widely regarded as one of the best defensive coordinators in the game. The chess match between Fisher and Foster could, and might, be one of the deciding factors in deciding the new conference champion.

3) What, if any, effect weather plays on the game

"The only thing that is iffy is the weather," Frank Beamer said. "You know, cold doesn't affect a game anymore. Rain affects a game a little bit, wind I think affects a game a little bit, but hopefully the weather is going to be okay, and if not, both teams got to play in it." As was mentioned, the weather will be a big change from Tampa or Jacksonville. But how will each team react? Both offenses are so balanced and both defenses are incredibly disciplined, so it is hard to give an edge one way or another. But adding the weather factor on top of the national spotlight and a berth to the Orange Bowl on the line, and you never can predict how a college football team will react. Of course, there could no rain and wind could be a non-factor, in which case the point is moot.

Prediction: I'm sticking to my prediction from the expert picks, both offenses are far too balanced to kept from the end zone. No matter what the conditions, there are too many different weapons on the field to not set up some touchdowns. Virginia Tech 31, Florida State 24.

Posted on: December 1, 2010 6:51 pm

Gruden doesn't seem interested in Miami

Posted by Tom Fornelli

What a whirlwind few days it's been down in South Beach.  We've gone from Jon Gruden is the next head coach at Miami to Jon Gruden isn't interested in Miami to Jon Gruden is interested in Miami after all and then to the final details are being hammered out.  You know, unless there's a "glitch" in the proceedings.

Well, our next turn on the Gruden rollercoaster provides such a glitch.  According to the Miami Herald, Gruden did in fact meet with Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt on Wednesday morning, but it doesn't look like he's going to be accepting any offer anytime soon.

"Gruden was cordial," a member of the Miami Board of Trustees told the paper. "He listened to everything UM had to say but no offer was made. He said he didn't want to go further because he is keeping all his options open, including the NFL.

"He didn't say yes. He didn't say no. But in effect, it's probably a no because it will take months before the NFL jobs come open and UM can't wait that long.''

In other words, Mr. Gruden appreciates your interest, and he's flattered, but he's just not interested in Miami.  But don't worry, it's not you, Miami, it's him.  You see, this guy considers himself more of an NFL guy.  Sure, he showed up to see if you were willing to pony up so much money that he'd be stupid not to accept, but you didn't, and now he'll move on to his next NFL payday.*

Don't get your feelings hurt.  It's just business.

*Cue the 'Canes faithful who haven't quite accepted this yet to start with the "It's just a negotiating ploy!"
Posted on: December 1, 2010 5:02 pm

Vandy fans lobby for Randy Shannon as next coach

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's hard to say that the Vanderbllt football community can be left "reeling" by any bad news these days; the program is traditionally the worst in the SEC, after all, reaching a bowl game less than once per decade since World War 2 and usually not coming close. All the same, Vanderbilt's considerable admission standards discourage many high school prospects of limited discipline or character, so scandals are few and far between at Vandy; it's just year in and year out, three wins a season or so. That breeds plenty of turnover in the coaching ranks, as one might imagine, so a coaching change in Nashville is hardly the headline material it is in, say, Tallahassee or Lincoln.

And yet, the resignation of first-year head coach Robbie Caldwell on Saturday was something of a surprise, even to Vandy fans; while the Commodores were just 2-9 (and screaming headlong into 2-10) on the season, Caldwell was still a first-year head coach, and um, Vanderbilt isn't exactly a "win very very immediately or go home" type of program. So Caldwell's departure wasn't exactly a foregone conclusion, even if it's sort of par for the course at Vandy.

All the same, the fan base is scrambling to find a replacement that'll hold up Vanderbilt's academic standards without capitulating on discipline, and some Vandy alums already have such a candidate in mind: Randy Shannon.

Miami 's recently ousted head coach caught the attention of some Vanderbilt alums, and here was their pitch to other alumni in an email being circulated (and posted to a premium Canes website ):

Dear Vanderbilt Alumni, friends and fans:

With the recent resignation of Coach Robbie Caldwell, the Vanderbilt football team needs a head coach who has had success both on and off the field.  A group of us strongly believe that Randy Shannon should be the next head football coach at Vanderbilt.  Our goal is to get several hundred names affixed to the email below and send it as our recommendation to Vice Chancellor David Williams .

As quoted by the SunSentinnel.com, "Randy Shannon was hired as the head football coach at the University of Miami on Dec. 8, 2006. He replaced Larry Coker, who was fired after a 7-6 season. Shannon, who played at Miami from 1984-88, has long been affiliated with the program. Born Feb. 24, 1966, Shannon was a four-year letter winner when he played linebacker for the Hurricanes. He won a national title in 1987. He was selected in the 11th round by the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. He became the first rookie to start at outside linebacker for the Cowboys since 1966. He played just two seasons before going into coaching. He became a graduate assistant at Miami in 1991, winning a national title that season. He was then promoted to defensive line and linebackers coach before taking a job with the Miami Dolphins as an assistant coach in 1998. Shannon returned to the Miami Hurricanes as the defensive coordinator in 2001. He held that job for six years, building one of college football's top defenses. In his first season, he led a defense that was ranked in the top 10 nationally in three categories.

According to the Miami Official Athletic Site -- "All of Shannon's teams have continued to uphold to UM's academic success off the field. His UM football teams have achieved NCAA Academic Progress Rates (APR) of 978, 977, 969 and 966, which have all ranked in the top 10 nationally. The 978 APR in the 2010 APR report was tied for the sixth highest rate in the country. The 977 APR in the 2009 report was the 7th-highest rate in the country out of 119 Bowl-Subdivision football programs. Those rates also were the second highest in the Atlantic Coast Conference and highest among all schools in Florida."

We believe that Coach Shannon is a proven winner and would be the right coach at the right time for Vanderbilt.  He is a winner on the field and academically in the classroom.  If you agree that Vanderbilt should strongly consider Randy Shannon as its next football head coach, please affix your name to the email below.  Please feel free to send to other alumni, friends, or fans who you believe share the same sentiments.  Please have them affix their names to this email.  We ask that you copy us on any outgoing emails so that we know who is being added.

There's no telling how much regard Vanderbilt has or will have for this petition, of course; Shannon's track record is something that those in charge of finding Vandy's next coach will (or at least should) already be aware of. Still, it's interesting to see that while Shannon didn't succeed in Miami's eyes as a coach, college football fans are still noticing what he and his team accomplished off the field and recognizing him for it. Perhaps Vanderbilt is a better environment for Shannon. Perhaps Minnesota is. Regardless, it seems evident that Shannon's time between jobs will be brief.

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