Posted on: December 29, 2010 12:16 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier this season Mississippi State lost defensive end Nick Bell to cancer. Bell had been diagnosed with the disease in late September after experiencing headaches, and had surgery to remove a mass from his brain on October 1. Just over a month later, on November 2, Bell would lose his battle with the disease.
It's a tragic story for Mississippi State, but the team was able to overcome its grief and finish the season 8-4 to earn a trip to the Gator Bowl. A bowl game in which the team and quarterback Chris Relf will honor their fallen teammate.
During the Gator Bowl, Relf won't be wearing the number 14 he usually wears, but will don the #36 jersey instead. The same jersey that belonged to Bell.
Head coach Dan Mullen said he got the idea from numerous emails he received from fans asking the coach if Relf could wear the number during the game, and when he presented the emails to Relf, the quarterback was all too happy to agree.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 5:29 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Now that Miami has finally hired Al Golden to take over for Randy Shannon, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald took to wondering why Golden was the man Miami finally settled on. Not a crazy question to ask considering the names that came up at times during the coaching search. Guys like Jon Gruden, Bo Pelini and Jim Harbaugh.
Well, according to one member of the school's board of trustees, the simple fact was that no big name coaches seemed interested in leaving their current jobs for Miami. Though, according to that same trustee, when it came to Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, it wasn't his lack of interest as much as his giant ego.
A high-level trustee fully aware of how the search was done said, ``We were not going to get a star, and it wasn't a money thing. Why would [marquee coaches] leave any of their great programs'' to take another college job? ``Florida didn't get one either. We hired the best person that wasn't in the top 20.''
The trustee said UM inquired about Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, who wasn't interested, and said Jon Gruden never seemed serious about taking the job. Chris Peterson(sic) gave UM no indication he wanted to leave Boise State. UM thought Nebraska's Bo Pelini had some interest, but he changed his mind. And UM was turned off by Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen's big ego, with one trustee saying he acts like he invented the game.
I know, it's shocking to hear that a coach who has experienced success doing his job might have an ego. Still, the most shocking thing about this -- if it's true -- is that Miami would take offense to a coach's arrogance.
Miami is the same school that employed Jimmy Johnson, isn't it? It's the school that walked off the airplane at the 1987 Fiesta Bowl in fatigues and, for most intents and purposes, defined swagger in the world of college football.
That's the school that has now decided a coach may have been a bit too full of himself? Interesting.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 12:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Will Muschamp had the pleasure of working under both head coaches from last year's national championship game, serving as Nick Saban's defensive coordinator at LSU (and again with the Miami Dolphins ) and as Mack Brown's DC and coach-in-(not)-waiting-(any longer) at Texas.
But the early reports on his tenure and yesterday's introductory news conference left no doubt which of those two coaches Muschamp wants to emulate, whose methods he has the greater respect for, whose program he wants to refashion for himself in Gainesville. We'll give you a hint: it's not the guy whose staff he just abandoned.
No, it's Saban who Muschamp appears to be taking his cues from, starting with Muschamp's attempts to pluck away Saban's current Muschamp-in-training, Kirby Smart. As a Saban-trained coordinator himself, Muschamp could have looked to bring in a coach with a different philosophy and blend the two approaches; instead, he appears to be trying to hire a coach who can impart what he -- and the coordinator, if Smart or another Saban disciple is hired -- learned from the master with the minimum amount of confusion (or dissent) possible.
Even more telling is Muschamp's approach to the Gator offense :
Muschamp also said he wanted his new offensive coordinator to have NFL experience. Despite the overwhelming success of the spread in the current college game -- both of the offenses in this year's BCS title game will be helmed by spread gurus who, far from being NFL veterans, were a New Hampshire assistant and a high school coach just a few short years ago -- it may be a good time to move towards a pro-style set, as those offenses become rarer and enjoy some of the change-of-pace aspect the spread utilized in the past.
That doesn't mean it'll be easy, however. The current Gators were recruited exclusively for Urban Meyer's/Dan Mullen's spread-option attack, and the offensive staff will have to be completely overhauled. But the Saban-taught philosophy Muschamp is trying to instill requires a run-heavy, clock-killing, two-tight-end-power approach to give the hypothetically-overpowering defense its opportunity win the game (not to mention appeal to NFL-hungry recruits), and so that's what the Gators will do.
These are all good ideas, of course. There's a reason Saban has been as overwhelmingly successful as he's been at every stop of his college career, and even the reasons that go beyond his X's-and-O's or administrative prowess -- his inhuman work rate, his ability to close the deal with recruits, his detail-focused willingness to control every aspect of his program -- are traits that Muschamp would seem to share. There's no reason to blame Jeremy Foley for asking Muschamp to provide a second Crimson Tide in Gator colors, especially since the odds appear so good that Muschamp's going to give it to them.
But what if he doesn't? Part of what has made Florida Florida over the past two decades has been their unorthodox thinking under two coaching mavericks in Steve Spurrier and Meyer. Both of them arrived with offenses derided as effeminate jokes that would never work in the SEC, then departed with national title rings and new Heismans in the school's trophy case. Gator fans have been accustomed not only to winning, but of winning in a uniquely identifiable, Florida-first fashion.
That's not to say they won't accept victories as a kind of SEC East edition of the current Tide; if what we might call Alabama-Gainesville winds up with a championship or two under Muschamp, you could probably sell them officially-licensed UAG t-shirts. But if Muschamp can't deliver the goods, if it turns out Foley hasn't hired the new Saban but only the Nutrasweet facsimile of the real thing, Florida fans may wonder (and wonder quickly, and vocally ) if they shouldn't have found another coach -- like Spurrier, like Meyer -- willing to build the Gators in his own image rather than someone else's.
Posted on: December 9, 2010 5:55 pm
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.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.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 8, 2010 6:19 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 6:23 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Outback Bowl became a lot more interesting on Wednesday with the news that Urban Meyer would step down as Florda's head coach following the game. The true irony, of course, is that the opposing coach is Penn State's Joe Paterno, who still has not retired at the age of 83 [note: Paterno will turn 84 on December 21]. But while everyone spends the foreseeable future discussing the future of the Florida football program, the Nittany Lions will prepare to face the Gators of the present.
Step one in that preparation was naming a starting quarterback. After the signal calling duties were split throughout the season between Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin, but Paterno has named McGloin the starter for the team's bowl game on New Years Day.
“I think that Matt is the quarterback,” Paterno said in a bowl teleconference earlier this week. “Now the other kid (Bolden) has a lot of ability, but he is a true freshman in the truest sense of the word – he wasn’t even here for spring practice. He came in and unfortunately we had to start him a few games early until the other kid (McGloin) started to show some promise."
So talk all you want about Urban Meyer, Dan Mullen, Winston Churchill, or the Ghost of Tim Tebow, but the Outback Bowl will still be about the 2010 Gators against the 2010 Nittany Lions. If anything, Penn State has gained a competitive advantage from the new off-field distractions out of Gainesville. For a team that struggled in the big games this year, the Nittany Lions will take every advantage they can get.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 5:01 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 5:43 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Urban Meyer stepping down at Florida does not just affect the Gators football program. No, it can be felt throughout the SEC, specifically at a school like Mississippi State. Though it's still early in the process, you can bet that former Florida coordinator and current Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen's name will be coming up as a replacement for Meyer in Gainesville.
Which is just the latest twist in the roller coaster ride that Mississippi State fans have been on for the last few weeks. Now, I could sum it all up in words, but words are boring. So instead I present to you "Life As A Mississippi State Fan" in MS Paint. Because pictures are worth a thousand words, so get ready for like 1,400 more words.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 3:38 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With the news that Urban Meyer has resigned/retired at Florida (delete as you personally see applicable), the Dan Mullen sweepstakes has a new almost-certain winner. The Gators will likely see Mullen as their Nos. 1, 1A, and 1B candidates, and there's no better fit -- and no place that can pay him more money -- for Mullen than his old stomping grounds in Gainesville. From the outside, it appears to be the kind of marriage that'll have both parties at the courthouse before anyone even knows they're courtin'.
That may be great news for Gator fans who would be happy to sacrifice Meyer if it meant replacing Steve Addazio' s hapless play-calling with Mullen's tried-and-proven offensive acumen, but it's a terrible blow for Mississippi State (who given their financial constraints will have no chance of keeping Mullen if/when the Gators come calling) and a big one for Miami as well. Depending on which reports you believe, the 'Canes had made Mullen their top candidate after being turned down by Jon Gruden , and given his offensive pedigree and performance in Starkville, he was the option with the best combination of availability and likelihood of success.
If he's off the board, where might Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt turn? A flurry of reports out of South Florida have identified the candidates currently at the forefront of the search. (The 'Canes will apparently risk receiving another sternly-worded letter from Donald Trump , as Mike Leach is not among them.) Taking them one coach at a time, and assessing their chances of eventually taking their talents to South Beach:
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Tuberville has a strong Miami connection, having coached there for eight years and winning a national-title as a defensive coordinator under Dennis Erickson, and would certainly be capable of preserving the team's defensive improvement under Randy Shannon. He would almost certainly accept the job if offered, as whispers have indicated Tuberville has been campaigning hard for the job behind the scenes. (Then again, Tuberville's agent is infamous rumor-starter Jimmy Sexton, so take that with a grain of salt.) The problem is that Tuberville is already 56, with his best coaching days behind him, and has struggled at times putting together a working offensive staff. Would he cause enough of a splash?
Randy Edsall, UConn: Then again, if the 'Canes are seriously considering Edsall, making a splash isn't high on their list of concerns. Edsall would maintain Shannon's sense of rugged discipline, with an old-school grinding running game to match, and there's no doubt he's wrung the most out of his fledgling program. But the Huskies haven't actually been "good," even by Big East standards, as much as they have been the team least-prone to shooting itself in the foot.
Kevin Sumlin, Houston: Sumlin is a young, charismatic coach with an exciting up-tempo offense that ought to put butts in seats; he should be able to immediately connect wit hthe 'Canes fickle fanbase in a way the above candidates might not. But he's also by far the least proven, having made his name by maintaining Art Briles' previous good work at Houston.
Al Golden, Temple: Golden's resuscitation of the Owls is one of the most impressive feats of college coaching of the past few years, and he's young enough that he could be a cornerstone for Miami for years and years to come. But there's a strong sense -- bordering on consensus -- that Golden is waiting for Joe Paterno' s retirement for a shot at the Penn State gig. After Turner Gill' s struggles at Kansas , it's also worth wondering if rebuilding jobs in the MAC are easier than they're made it out to be.
Mike Stoops, Arizona: In what might be seen as a too-close-for-comfort parallel with the Shannon era, Stoops's steady year-by-year improvement project in Tucson took a minor step backwards this year. But Stoops' sideline antics prove he's got the energy for the job, and his reclamation job with the Wildcats has been impressive. But Miami may not be able to pay him much more than Arizona can, and there doesn't seem to be as much buzz as there is with the candidates above.
And that, for the time being, is the list (though the reports also agree that other candidates are likely on the radar screen). There's a few reasonably solid options there, and at this point you might have to consider Tuberville the favorite; he has the biggest name, the strongest ties, and likely the most intense interest. But if Mullen is truly no longer in the picture, Hocutt might also have to get creative to stave off the perception that the Gators stole his hire's thunder clean out from under him.
Tags: Al Golden, Arizona, Dan Mullen, Dan Mullen to Florida, Donald Trump, Florida, Florida coaching search, Houston, Jon Gruden, Kevin Sumlin, Kirby Hocutt, Miami, Miami coaching search, Mike Leach, Mike Stoops, Mississippi State, Randy Edsall, Randy Shannon, Steve Addazio, Temple, Texas Tech, Tommy Tuberville, UConn, Urban Meyer, Urban Meyer resigns, Urban Meyer retirement
Posted on: December 1, 2010 9:27 am
Edited on: December 1, 2010 9:57 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
In the latest episode of As The Gruden Turns, Wednesday morning brings some clarification to Tuesday night's reports from Canesport.com. According to a story in the Miami Herald, a "high-level UM source" has indicated that Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt has traveled to Tampa to meet with Jon Gruden, a meeting expected to take place on Wednesday.
Two members of Miami's Board of Trustees have indicated to the Herald that Gruden is the top choice in the search to replace Randy Shannon, but they are concerned he might decide to wait for a job in the NFL. As suggested by Sports Illustrated's Peter King, Gruden was initially uninterested in the position. But he has since begun to entertain the possibility of returning to the college sideline. The purpose of Hocutt's trip was to determine whether Gruden would take the position if offered.
The Herald also clarified that while the aforementioned actions are being taken to work on Gruden, several trustees said the process had not reached the stage of "hammering out final details" as the Canesport.com report suggested. If Gruden says no to Hocutt, Miami has begun assembling their list of next-best options. That list is reported to include Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, Connecticut's Randy Edsall, Utah's Kyle Whittingham, Arizona's Mike Stoops, and at least two other names.