Posted on: March 4, 2011 5:40 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
In February, Oklahoma had to give its players a week off from training after self-reporting violations committed by the school's coaching staff when four assistants improperly questioned players about their lack of workouts. It was a minor violation, and not one that brought a lot of trouble to the program, but there had been some speculation that defensive back Marcus Trice was the player who gave Oklahoma's compliance department a recording of defensive backs coach Willie Martinez.
It's an accusation that Trice denies, though this bit of news won't help quell the conspiracy theories. Oklahoma announced on Friday that Trice would be transferring.
“It was my dream school,” Trice told the Tulsa World. “I pretty much always wanted to come to OU since I was little. I fulfilled my dream to play here at the University of Oklahoma, and I got to play early. Right now, I’m just looking to get on the field and play somewhere.”
“Marcus is looking for another opportunity and we’ll do everything we can to help him find a good situation,” Bob Stoops said in a press release. “Marcus has worked hard here and will leave with our best wishes.”
As for the tape of Willie Martinez, Trice said he didn't do it “but I don’t and won’t throw anyone else under the bus.”
As for where he'll end up, Trice says he'll take a look at Tulsa, which was one of his finalists before he decided to attend Oklahoma.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 6:05 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 6:41 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Clemson, who opens spring camp Friday, March 4.
Will Clemson's offseason moves (coaching, recruiting, and otherwise) result in immediate improvement from 2010?
When the Clemson Tigers finished their 2010 campaign with a 31-26 loss to South Florida, there were plenty of frustrated fans in Death Valley scratching their head. After all, it was only a season earlier that Clemson won the Atlantic Division and took Georgia Tech down to the wire in the ACC Championship Game. Certainly there was expected to be some drop-off, but not the first sub-.500 finish since 1998. Head coach Dabo Swinney felt his seat warm up a little after the Meineke Bowl loss, and he acted swiftly to make changes and look towards the future.
The Tigers finished near the bottom of the ACC in most major offensive categories. Swinney could have blamed the deficiencies on injuries (starting quarterback Kyle Parker and running back Andre Ellington both missed time in 2010), but with Parker departing for Major League Baseball now was the best time to make a key change on the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Billy Napier was fired, and Swinney reached out to Tulsa offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
Morris' arrival in Clemson is one of the main points of interest heading into spring practice. In 2010, Tulsa's offense ranked 13th in the nation in passing yards, while sitting at 15th nationally for rushing yards per game. They were the only school in the nation to rank in the top 15 in both categories, and their 505.6 total offensive yards per game ranked fifth in the country.
All of this is welcome news to Tigers fans, who saw too many close games slip away because of Clemson's inability to put points on the board. Six of their seven losses last season were by 9 points or less, most notably a 3-point loss to Florida State and 6-point loss to Boston College. Different results in both of those games could have changed Clemson's fortunes in the Atlantic Division.
Morris runs a fast-paced offensive style that stretches the field and relies on a strong running game to set up the deep ball. The "smash-mouth spread," as he calls it, does not include a lot of the pitch-and-catch screen game that has been prevalent in the last couple seasons at Clemson. This is very welcome news to quarterback Tajh Boyd, who is fired up about leading this new offense in 2011.
Boyd is the only scholarship quarterback returning from 2010, and the success of Morris' offense will begin and end in the sophomore's hands. The Hampton, VA native saw limited action filling in for the banged-up Kyle Parker, but that was a different offensive scheme. Not only does Boyd feel confident with a year of experience under his belt, but he appears to feel pretty comfortable about the new system.
“I think it could be a perfect fit,” Boyd said recently referring to Morris' system. “It’s keeping defenses on the edge. I’m trying to become the most versatile player I can to keep this offense explosive. Just having that extra threat would make this offense go, as you can see from all the spread teams (like) Oregon, Auburn, Texas.”
But Swinney could not spend his offseason neglecting the defense that helped deliver another bowl berth to the Tigers. Things worked out pretty well in 2010, leading the ACC in scoring defense at only 18.8 points per game. But Clemson only returns 6 starters from that unit, and has said goodbye to big names like Da'Quan Bowers and DeAndre McDaniel. So Swinney got to work as soon as 2010 was in the book, assembling the next crop of defensive playmakers to bring to Clemson.
Swinney put in his work late, and finished with a start-studded recruiting class that MaxPreps ranked as the No. 5 class in the nation. On National Signing Day, Clemson's defense received a major upgrade with the commitments of Stephone Anthony (LB, No. 5 overall prospect) and Tony Steward (LB, No. 7 overall prospect). But even aside from the two big names, Swinney identified and filled in most of Clemson's biggest needs moving forward. From a pair of highly rated wide receivers for the new offense (Charone Peake and Sammy Watkins) to an Oregon de-commit that hopes to be the next great Clemson defensive end (Roderick Byers), Swinney recruited and signed another class of "his guys." His confidence in the program suggests that Swinney's big offseason was just another part of his big plan, rather than simply a reaction to the poor finish in 2010.
“Come this fall, we have laid the foundation for what we want this program to become,” Swinney said on National Signing Day. “All the sophomores and freshmen on this football team this fall will be guys that we’ve recruited since January of ’09.
“This staff has worked really hard and has done it the right way. Before you can have a harvest, so to speak, you have plow, you’ve got to plant, and you’ve got to water. That’s what we’ve done for two years.”
But talk can only do so much for a coach at a program like Clemson. The Tiger fans demand to be competitive annually, at a bare minimum. But with the way Clemson has started 2011, the expectations will be high for the fall. Whether those expectations are fair or not never matters in big-time college football, they just need to be met.
Meeting those expectations begins on Friday with the start of spring practice. It might be a little rocky at first, with new coaches, players, and for some, positions. But when the Tigers rub Howard's Rock on their way into the stadium on September 3, the hot lights will be on Swinney. After making so much noise in the offseason, fans will want to see results.
Clemson will hold their annual spring game on April 9
Quotes via Greg Wallace, OrangeandWhite.com
Click here for the rest of the Spring Practice Primers
Posted on: January 20, 2011 10:38 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The LSU offensive coordinator's position should be one of the most sought-after in college football: a steady supply of premium-grade home-grown talent, a more-or-less permanent place in the race for one of the premier division titles in the sport, a fearsome defense that means your unit could, say, finish no higher than 11th in the conference in total yardage over two seasons and you could still claim a role in 20 wins over that span. Les Miles ought to have his pick of nearly any offensive assistant in the country.
So why on earth would he pick this assistant?
Yes, the Baton Rouge Advocate means that Kragthorpe, Steve Kragthorpe, the coach most notorious for tearing down in the space of one season what had taken Bobby Petrino years to build at Louisville. As assistant coaching hires go, taking a flyer on one of the biggest head coaching failures of the past decade isn't going to be the most inspiring choice.
That's not to say it couldn't work out anyway. Kragthorpe had a highly successful tenure at Tulsa that won him the Cardinal job in the first place, and many of the failed responsibilities that led to his dismal record at Louisville won't be issues as an assistant. He also has productive experience as an OC, calling plays for R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M in the late '90s and even winning a Big 12 title in that role in 1998.
All the same, his Tulsa success was built on a foundation of solid defense rather than offense. And when you have as many options as Miles must have had for filling the vacancy, settling on a name so closely associated with the stench of misery at Louisville seems like, well, settling. Kragthorpe's hardly doomed to failure in Baton Rouge -- in fact, the grade of talent at his disposal suggests he could be a smashing success even without much in the way of innovation or creativity -- but until LSU fans see his offense in action, they should be forgiven for scratching their heads.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 6:38 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Todd Graham (pictured) is all but finished putting together the new coaching staff at Pitt, officially announcing today what candidates he's chosen to fill eight of his program's nine vacant positions. Where Pitt fans are concerned, probably the most controversial hire will be new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who served with Graham as his co-defensive coordinator at Tulsa the previous five years; Panther fans had better hope the Golden Hurricanes' up-tempo offense had a lot to do with their defensive struggles, because otherwise hiring an assistant who oversaw the nation's 110th-ranked defense will end up looking awfully curious.
But where fans of virtually every other school are concerned, the most eyebrow-raising aspect of the announcement is the connection binding three of the other new hires:
Calvin Magee served at Michigan the past three years as associate head coach and offensive coordinator ... Prior to Michigan, Magee spent seven seasons as the running backs coach at West Virginia ...Yep, that's not one, not two, but three different coaches who cut their teeth under Rich Rodriguez at Pitt's archrivals from Morgantown, then followed Rodriguez to his doomed tenure in Ann Arbor. Grabbing three coaches coming off of such a notable failure is one thing; grabbing three coaches coming off of that kind of failure who also happen to be associated with Pitt's one-time public coaching enemy No. 1 is another. Graham had better be right about this, or he likely won't be met with a lot of forgiveness by Panther fans.
Then again, he probably won't need it; though Gibson's secondary was frequently torched by opposing passing attacks, he didn't have a lot to work with (including helpful advice from his defensive coordinator), and neither Magee's offense nor Dews's receivers were remotely the problem for the Wolverines. If the trio can recreate anything like the success they had at West Virginia at Pitt, no one will blink an eye at where they spent their previous stops.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 3:34 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in the Big East and Mountain West
TODD GRAHAM, Pitt
Why him? Because Mike Haywood got arrested two weeks after he was hired. Also because Graham put together some successful offenses at Tulsa. For 2011, Graham needs to: build a strong offense without the services of Pitt's two best offensive players Jonathan Baldwin and Dion Lewis. Luckily for Graham, Dave Wannstedt recruited good players to Pitt, but Graham will have to mold them to his offense. By 2014, Graham will need to have: won a Big East title and taken the Panthers to a BCS bowl. Dave Wannstedt won more games than he lost at Pitt, but it was the lack of a conference championship in a weak conference that ultimately led to his dismissal. Chances Graham gets what he needs? I'd say they're pretty good. Weak conference or not, Pitt is still in a BCS conference and has the resources to win in college football. Of course, by the time Graham has his stamp on the program, TCU will be a Big East member, so it won't be easy.
DANA HOLGORSEN, West Virginia
Why him? Have you seen West Virginia's offenses under Bill Stewart the last few seasons? Nothing like a Mike Leach disciple who helped put together one of the best offenses in the country at Oklahoma State to infuse life into a dormant scoreboard. For 2011, Holgorsen needs to: bid his time, let Stewart finish his final season, and start getting his offense ready for his ascension in 2012. By 2014, Holgorsen will need to have: won a Big East title and improve the Mountaineers offense enough so that it once again resembles the teams Rich Rodriguez put together. He'll also need to find a quarterback better suited for his system than Geno Smith. Chances Holgorsen gets what he needs? They're very good. Even with the program's struggles under Stewart, they still competed for the Big East title.
PAUL PASQUALONI, UConn
Why him? Well, it came as a bit of a surprise. Pasqualoni hasn't been a head coach or coached on the college level since 2004, spending the time in between in the NFL. Still, the last time he was a head coach he was a rather successful one at Syracuse in the Big East. So he knows what it takes to win in this conference. For 2011, Pasqualoni needs to: silence the doubters. We know that Pasqualoni can coach, but will the lay off and his age (he'll be 62 when UConn kicks off its season) prove to be too much for him? By 2014, Pasqualoni will need to have: maintained what Randy Edsall started at UConn. I'm not sure he'll have to win a Big East title to keep his job, but at the least he'll have to continue to build the program for his eventual successor. Chances Pasqualoni gets what he needs? Not great, but not terrible. UConn has always been a basketball school first and foremost, but who knows how a trip to the Fiesta Bowl will affect the schools interest in building a winning football team?
ROCKY LONG, San Diego State
Why him? Because Brady Hoke left, and had built something at SDSU that Long was a part of. The school didn't want to risk losing any momentum by starting a coaching search. Plus, Long has head coaching experience from his time at New Mexico. For 2011, Long needs to: continue the rise that Hoke started. Since Marshall Faulk left for the NFL, the Aztecs weren't exactly a football powerhouse before Hoke came along. The good news is that Long inherits some talent in Ronnie Hillman and Ryan Lindley. By 2014, Long will need to have: kept San Diego State competing in the Mountain West. With Utah, BYU and TCU leaving, the conference becomes a lot easier to win. Chances Long gets what he needs? Not great. San Diego State just doesn't have the established history to make me think they'll do whatever it takes to help Long build this team into a powerhouse. What Long will have working for him, however, is the fertile recruiting base of southern California.
Tags: Big East, Bill Stewart, Brady Hoke, BYU, Dana Holgorsen, Dave Wannstedt, Dion Lewis, Geno Smith, Headset Reset, Jonathan Baldwin, Marshall Faulk, Mike Haywood, Mike Leach, Mountain West, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Paul Pasqualoni, Pitt, Randy Edsall, Rich Rodriguez, Rocky Long, Ronnie Hillman, Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, Syracuse, TCU, Todd Graham, Tulsa, UConn, Utah, West Virginia
Posted on: January 18, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 2:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in Conference USA and the Sun Belt .
BILL BLANKENSHIP, Tulsa
Why him? Former Tulsa quarterback was promoted from running backs/special teams coach to maintain 10-3, top-25 status quo. For 2011, Blankenship needs to: find a replacement for departed offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who took the same position at Clemson after being passed over the Tulsa head job; the right hire could turn Tulsa's nine returning offensive starters (including quarterback G.J. Kinne and all-purpose weapon Damaris Johnson) into another double-digit win season. By 2014, Blankenship will need to have: won a C-USA title. For all of the Golden Hurricane's offensive fireworks under Todd Graham, their only league championship came back in 2005 under Steve Kragthorpe. Chances Blankenship gets what he needs? Fair-to-middling. Tulsa's points-happy brand should be strong enough to keep them near the top of the league standings (provided Blankenship doesn't blow the OC hire), but will simply promoting a position coach really be enough to get them over the hump?
DAN McCARNEY, North Texas (pictured)
Why him? Far and away the most recognizable name among the new C-USA/SBC hires, the 57-year-old McCarney spent 12 successful seasons as Iowa State's head coach before supervising the defensive lines at South Florida and Florida. For 2011, McCarney needs to: just offer some kind of hope. The snake-bitten Mean Green (4 losses in 2010 by total of 13 points) have won only 13 games in six seasons. By 2014, McCarney will need to have: found some semblance of a defense. UNT hasn't had too many problems offensively, but they won't accomplish anything until one of the nation's worst defenses is brought up to code. Chances McCarney gets what he needs? Decent. McCarney may be a little too long in the tooth (and the program may have decayed too badly) to bring back the Mean Green's early-Aughts glory days, but the old pro should have the defensive chops to at least bring UNT back to respectability.
HUGH FREEZE, Arkansas State
Why him? Former Ole Miss assistant made famous by The Blind Side was promoted from offensive coordinator after leading Red Wolves to better than 400 yards per game, vaulting them from 95th to 43rd in total offense. For 2011, Freeze needs to: get to .500. Disappointing 4-8 records the last two seasons earned Steve Roberts a pink slip, but with Ryan Aplin back at quarterback and better luck due after going 1-5 in one-possession games in 2010, there's no reason (other than a revamped offensive line) Freeze can't get the Red Wolves back to 6-6. By 2014, Freeze will need to have: established ASU as an upper-tier Sun Belt program. Getting past Troy and up-and-coming FIU won't be easy, but there's nothing stopping the Red Wolves from joining in the SBC mix. Chances Freeze gets what he needs? Good. Freeze knows his way around the Arkansas and Tennessee recruiting scenes and has a sharp offensive mind; those traits alone should be enough to get the Red Wolves back to the postseason (for the first time since 2005) sooner rather than later.
MARK HUDSPETH, Lousiana (formerly UL-Lafayette)
Why him? Before taking a job on Dan Mullen's staff at Mississippi State , Hudpseth excelled as the head coach at Division II North Alabama, going 66-20 in seven seasons. For 2011, Hudspeth needs to: right the ship. A series of near-misses at a winning season under Rickey Bustle dissolved in a 3-9 disaster in 2010; a simple step in the right direction will be enough for one of the FBS's most tradition-deficient programs. By 2014, Hudspeth will need to have: earned a bowl bid. The Ragin' Cajuns have never taken part in FBS postseason play. Chances Hudspeth gets what he needs? Not bad. There's room to be upwardly mobile in the Sun Belt, and despite a relatively bare cupboard, Hudspeth has quality head coaching experience at only 42 years of age.
Tags: Arkansas State, Bill Blankenship, Chad Morris, Clemson, Conference USA, Damaris Johnson, Dan McCarney, Dan Mullen, FIU, Florida, G.J. Kinne, Headset Reset, Hugh Freeze, Iowa State, Louisiana, Mark Hudspeth, Mississippi State, North Alabama, North Texas, Ole Miss, Rickey Bustle, Ryan Aplin, South Florida, Steve Kragthorpe, Steve Roberts, Sun Belt, The Blind Side, Todd Graham, Troy, Tulsa, UL-Lafayette
Posted on: January 14, 2011 11:32 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It's official. On this Friday morning, January 14th, every single football program in the FBS now has a head coach. The carousel has stopped spinning for now. The latest team to name its new head coach is Tulsa, who had to replace Todd Graham after he left to take the Pitt job. The news broke on Friday morning that Tulsa will hire Bill Blankenship to take over the football program.
If you're anything like me, you're reaction to this news may have been along the lines of "who?" Well, let me tell you a bit about Bill Blankenship. He served as Tulsa's associate head coach last season, but has been coaching at the school for the last four seasons. He spent three of those seasons coaching special teams, and has also coached the running backs and wide receivers.
Blankenship also played quarterback at Tulsa, and though this will be his first head coaching job on the college level, he spent 22 years as a head coach on the high school level. In those 22 seasons, Blankenship's high school teams reached the state championship game seven times, winning three of them, and he was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
Posted on: January 10, 2011 5:44 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 6:00 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
According to Fox 23 out of Tulsa, the next Pittsburgh football coach will be Todd Graham of Tulsa. Fox 23 reports that while Graham's hiring has yet to be announced, it is a "done deal" and he will depart for Pittsburgh later this evening.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confirms this report, reporting that Graham and Pitt have come to terms on a deal and will be announcing the hiring tomorrow. It's likely that the announcement may come later today, considering the pressure such reports put on athletic officials who are being asked constantly for confirmation, but Pitt's current plan is to take care of the formalities on Tuesday.
At any rate, this report likely dismays Panther fans who had been holding out hope for Tom Bradley , the longtime Penn State assistant who was the early favorite for the job. Bradley did interview with Pitt, but obviously those talks stalled at some point. It's also entirely possible that Pitt AD Steve Pederson just plain liked Graham better as a candidate (rather than, say, getting hung up on money with Bradley), but those specifics will have to come from Pederson.
Bradley is also interviewing with Connecticut this week, as the Huskies look to replace Randy Edsall after his move to Maryland a week ago.