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 7, 2010 4:45 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Thanks to the Jon Gruden panic at Miami, the Bill McCartney escapades at Colorado , etc., the coaching search at Vanderbilt has flown mostly under the radar to date despite it being the only vacancy this offseason in the SEC (barring Dan Mullen' s hypothetical departure at Mississippi State ). That doesn't mean the Commodore brass hasn't been doing their due diligence. In fact, as this report from the Tennessean indicates , they've been extremely diligent. According to the report, the full alphabetical list of coaches contacted or coaches whose agents have been contacted by the 'Dores --and it may not be comprehensive -- is as follows:
Troy Calhoun , head coach, Air Force
Dave Doeren , defensive coordinator, Wisconsin
James Franklin, offensive coordinator, Maryland
Al Golden, head coach, Temple
Todd Graham , head coach, Tulsa
Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator, Auburn
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, Stanford
Don Treadwell, offensive coordinator, Michigan State
Shawn Watson, offensive coordinator, Nebraska
If that seems like a lot of candidates, Vandy Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams agrees with you :
Williams said he will select three candidates — maybe four — from the first round of interviews to become finalists. There would then likely be a second round of interviews.We already know a few names on the above list that won't reciprocate enough interest to make the cut -- Calhoun, Malzahn, possibly Golden -- and even though Williams said the frequency of offensive-minded coaches on the list is "just how it's gone," add that frequency to the 'Dores hopeless struggles on offense the last few years and it's easy to see Vandy leaning in that direction.
This could lead the 'Dores to Roman, who's coming off of two incredible seasons with the Cardinal, has first-hand experience dealing with the Stanford-like academic requirements at Vandy, and even got some measure of name-recognition following his nomination as a Broyles Award finalist.
But before they can settle on one candidate, the 'Dores have to settle on three or four. It's time for Williams to make that call.
Tags: Air Force, Al Golden, Auburn, Broyles Award, Colorado, Dave Doeren, Don Treadwell, Greg Roman, Gus Malzahn, James Franklin, Jon Gruden, Maryland, Miami, Miami coaching search, Michigan State, Nebraska, SEC, Shawn Watson, Stanford, Temple, Todd Graham, Troy Calhoun, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt coaching search, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 30, 2010 12:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's still something of a mystery why Vanderbilt ever removed the "interim" tag from recently ousted (or "resigned," if you believe the press releases) Robbie Caldwell if the Commodores were just going to go coach-shopping again after just one season with college football's most famous turkey inseminator , but at least the Vandy brass appears to be going about that shopping the right way. As in, according to the Tennesseean , taking a look at one of the hottest properties on the coaching market in Temple 's Al Golden .
Golden's overall record of 27-34 may not look overly impressive, and this year's 8-4 mark has actually been something of a disappointment for an Owls team that was expected to win the MAC and instead finished a surprising third in the conference's East division. But that a program as punishingly downtrodden as Temple ever had those kinds of expectations to begin with is a minor miracle; the Owls had gone 3-31 the three years prior to Golden's arrival. And this season hasn't exactly been a disaster, especially by typical Temple standards, not with accomplishments like a win over potential Big East champion UConn , eight wins, and back-to-back bowl berths for the first time in the program's history.
With a resume like that and the rampant similarities between Vandy and Temple -- both academics-first afterthoughts in major metropolitan centers with zero tradition of winning football -- Golden would appear to be the best-case scenario for the Commodores. The bigger question is if their interest is reciprocated; Golden has been rumored for jobs at places like his alma mater Penn State (assuming Joe Paterno isn't immortal, a dangerous assumption at this stage) and Virginia before they hired Mike London . Like fellow alleged Vandy target Gus Malzahn , he may be able to land a better (and certainly easier ) gig down the road even if one doesn't come available this offseason.
But if the 'Dores can get Golden to listen, the Caldwell fiasco might start to make a little sense after all.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 10:11 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 10:20 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
As you probably know by now, the Big East has decided to expand the number of football playing teams in the conference from eight to ten. This decision was reached during a regularly scheduled meeting of the athletic directors and presidents of all sixteen conference schools in Philadelphia.
The decision was unanimous, and conference commissioner John Marinatto indicated that the evaluation of potential expansion candidates will begin immediately. However, the unofficial evaluation process has been ongoing for some time. The conference approached Villanova, a member of the Big East in the other Olympic sports, back in September to discuss a move from the FCS, though no official offer was extended.
Villanova appears to be an easy selection for one of the two new spots in the conference. The addition of the Wildcats would be as painless as it comes for the rest of the schools, but that does not mean it would be free of roadblocks. The NCAA requires a two-year transition period for a school to move from the FCS to the BCS, and there is some concern as to if Villanova could replicate the success that brought them an FCS National Championship immediately against BCS-caliber opponents. In all likelihood, Villanova winning the FCS National Championship was one of tipping points to accelerate the discussion of the jump to join their Big East brethren on the gridiron.
For the Big East to fill both spots in the planned expansion, they will likely have to bring in a school from outside the conference in the other Olympic sports. Making that move will take the work of some big guns, like former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Tagliabue has been hired as a consultant to help with the deal, among other things the formation of a possible TV network.
One giant boost to the television value of the conference would be the addition of TCU. Rumors of discussions between TCU and the Big East began to circulate back in September, with both sides remaining ambiguously mum on the issue. Now with the blessing of the Board of Directors, those discussions can (and may likely) become serious fast. Under head coach Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs have become perennial powerhouses on the national college football scene. In addition to bringing national interest, TCU would also bring the Big East to the football audience in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area.
But would this be a good move for TCU? The greatest appeal the Big East can offer is an automatic bid to the BCS, though some have argued that with the future arrival of Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State, the Mountain West Conference may be on their way to gaining AQ status. But as the teams shuffle, there are no promises that new MWC will carry the same weight as it has in recent years.
Sources have also reported Central Florida, Houston, and Temple as other possible candidates for the two new spots in the Big East. Central Florida and Houston would be able to offer the major markets that the Big East would prefer in order to negotiate a major television deal. Temple also is a former Big East conference member.
There is still plenty of negotiation ahead, but in my opinion the best move for the Big East would be to TCU and Villanova. If the Horned Frogs join the conference only for football, then no adjustments would be necessary for the rest of the Olympic sports. It would be an immediate upgrade for the conference to gain a program that has finished ranked in the Top 25 seven times since 2000.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 11:24 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
On the field, the Big East has failed to make a dent in the national scene this year. The conference has been openly criticized by many, and with just a month left in regular season play there is not a single Big East team in the current Top 25. Off the field, the presidents and athletic directors are gathering this week to work on changing their reputation. It is being reported by several sources that one of the hot topics to be covered in this meeting is a "probable expansion."
The regularly scheduled meeting will likely be tense with debate as the football-playing members of the conference will be pushing to expand the eight team conference, possibly by including current national powerhouse TCU. A New York Post report indicated that TCU and Central Florida are both very interested, with Houston, Temple, and Villanova also being mentioned as leading candidates.
"The goal is to get the presidents' blessing to seriously pursue teams," said one Big East athletic director. "I don't think we're going to get pushback on that."
If they do get the green-light, sources are reporting that invitations could be offered by the end of this college football season. But getting everyone involved to rally around expansion may not be easy for the non-football schools in the conference. Adding a team to the football conference would likely mean adding them to the already vast 16 team conference from many of the non-football sports.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 3:08 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The CBS College Football Blog wrote multiple times last week that Michigan 's visit to Penn State was a make-or-break game for Rich Rodriguez and his much-much-much -maligned defense, which couldn't ask for a better scenario than having a bye week to prepare for the Big Ten 's bottom-ranked offense playing without its starting quarterback. As you know by now, the Wolverines broke in spectacular fashion , giving up 435 yards and 41 points to a Nittany Lion attack that barely scored that many points total (46) in games against MAC cupcakes Kent State and Temple .
Naturally, this was the cue for yet another round of recriminations and rumormongering out of Ann Arbor Sunday, with most of the whispers centering on the continued employment of defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and the rest of Rodriguez's defensive staff. So loud had the rumors become by Monday that Rodriguez had to be asked about them directly , and responded as you'd expect:
That's not what Michigan fans hoping for Robinson's head -- or anything that might signal a change-in-approach from the current disaster -- would want to hear, but Rodriguez's next comment might be even more bone-chilling:
This would make sense if Rodriguez had more experience (does he have any?) in coaching college defense from something more hands-on than the head coaching position. Multiple Michigan bloggers have noted since the disaster in Happy Valley that the Wolverine defense's problem likely isn't that Rodriguez hasn't been involved enough; it's that he's been too involved, asking Robinson (as well as previous coordinator Scott Shafer , now enjoying a highly successful season under Doug Marrone at Syracuse) to run the unusual 3-3-5 defensive scheme operated by Jeff Casteel under Rodriguez during his West Virginia tenure. Neither Shafer nor Robinson had any prior experience with the 3-3-5 before being asked to run it by Rodriguez, however, and the results have been predictably muddled.
If this is indeed the root of the defense's problem, Rodriguez may be better served by going in the opposite direction, by fully ceding control of the defense to his coordinator and allowing Robinson to run whatever scheme and make whatever playcalls with which he feels most comfortable. No one can blame Rodriguez for making moves out of desperation at this stage, but Michigan fans have to be worried that in this case, Rodriguez's cure could prove to make even worse an already program-wrecking disease.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 10:39 pm
J. Darin Darst
2. Circle your calendars for a showdown next weekend of the two best teams in Conference USA next weekend -- East Carolina at UCF. The Pirates have won three in a row and are averaging 38 points per game over that stretch. Meanwhile, UCF has the conferences best defense, which has allowed only 11.6 points over its three-game winning streak. The winner of this game should decide the East Divison in the conference and will be the favorite to win the C-USA crown and that Liberty Bowl berth. It's going to be a great matchup in Orlando. What a weekend you could plan -- watch UCF take on East Carolina and after the game head on over to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights.
3. How good is this Hawaii team? Utah State was supposed to be a sleeper team and hung with Oklahoma, but all Hawaii did was blast them 45-7. Bryant Moniz ... has anybody else outside of Hawaii heard of this guy? He only leads the nation in passing yards and finished Saturday with another 389 yards. The biggest question we all want to know is, can the Warriors (6-2) give Boise State a game? We are going to find out soon enough -- at Boise on Nov. 6.
4. Who is the Sun Belt's second-best team? Since the conference has two bowl bids this year, somebody has to grab that second spot, right? Louisiana-Lafayette looked like it might finally grab a bowl bid, but ended up losing at home to Western Kentucky 54-21. The Hilltoppers hadn't won a game in close to three years. Maybe its Arkansas State? The Red Wolves are now 3-2 in the conference and played Troy really close (Lost 35-28). Big game for Arkansas State on Nov. 2 as it takes on Middle Tennessee. FIU was off this week, but it is 2-0 in Sun Belt play. Will somebody please step up in the coming weeks!
5. Miami (Ohio) isn't all that great and the fade is beginning. Sure the RedHawks were 3-0 in the conference, but just lost to Ohio, a key game in the East Division. They now have three of their final four games on the road, including next week at Buffalo. I'm not sure they are going to be able to win the division. Ohio and Temple are much better teams and with the conference only getting three bowl bids, Miami (Ohio) is most likely going to be left out. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois is making a HUGE statement in the West as it has now won five in a row. Get ready for the game on Nov. 9 against Toledo, which will likely decide who reaches the MAC title game.
Posted on: October 9, 2010 10:28 pm
By J. Darin Darst
3. Northern Illinois might be the frontrunner in the MAC, not Temple. The Owls looked like the team to beat until today as Northern Illinois defeated them 31-17. Chandler Harnish threw two touchdown passes and Chad Spann rushed for 100 yards and a score in the victory. Northern Illinois is 4-2, 2-0 in the conference and has victories over Minnesota (not a huge accomplishment, but its still a BCS team) and barely lost to Illinois 28-22. The biggest game left on its schedule is probably at road trip to Western Michigan on Oct. 30. Stay tuned.
4. Troy is by far the best team in the Sun Belt. Many, including myself, thought Middle Tennessee would win the conference. But even with Dwight Dasher back for MTSU, Troy blasted the Blue Raiders 42-13 on Tuesday night. Since the Sun Belt gets two bowl bids, the bigger question is -- who is the second-best team? It's up for grabs, but Louisiana-Lafayette looks to be up for the challenge. Despite starting the season at 0-4, Florida International could be the second-best team. It hung with Rutgers and Texas A&M in non-conference play.