Tag:Texas
Posted on: April 20, 2010 4:47 pm
 

Pac-10 schedule breakdown

The best thing about the Pac-10 is that it plays a true round-robin with only three, usually strong, non-conference games.

The worst thing about the Pac-10 is that is plays a true round-robin with only three, usually strong, non-conference games.

Ask the coaches.

While the Pac-10 produces a "true" champion, there are plenty of reasons to question the scheduling philosophy. The unbalanced schedule means nine conference games. Half of the league is playing four conference home games and five away games. That puts more pressure on getting just the right mix of three non-conference games. Six Pac-10 teams will be playing I-AA teams this season. Arizona State is playing two. USC gets a 13th game this season by playing in Hawaii and is still playing seven road games.

That means there are plenty of land mines out there for the contenders and a chance for the Pac-10 to drop off the national title radar this season. Even with the loss of Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon will be favored. The Ducks, though, still have to travel to USC and Oregon State as well as Tennessee in the non-conference.

If the Pac-10 expands -- a decision is coming soon -- it probably will have to abandon the round-robin scheduling format.  It might not be such a bad thing to add a winnable non-conference game and drop a conference game that could ruin your season.

Game of the year:  (non-conference) Notre Dame at USC, Nov. 27. There are other tasty games (UCLA at Texas, Oregon State at Boise, Oregon State vs. TCU in Arlington, Texas), but it's never bad to go with tradition.

Neither the Irish nor the Trojans will likely be favored to win any championships this season. That's hardly the point. There's a new coach on each side in this game for the first time since 1941 (Sam Barry and Frank Leahy). USC's current winning streak over Notre Dame (eight) is a game more than Lane Kiffin has won (seven as a college coach).  Brian Kelly tries to  bring the zone read option to a program that is searching for an identity.

Heismans are won and souls are crushed in this game. You have to watch.

 

Game of the year: (conference)  Oregon at Oregon State, Dec. 4. The Civil War reached new heights last season when the Ducks were featured on a Thursday night in their road to the Rose Bowl. It's hard to describe the intensity in this game but when it makes an impression on the Big Ten commissioner who know it's special.

"The games that were regional became national," said Delany speaking about the BCS has been able to highlight certain games. "Once they got me to watch Oregon-Oregon State, they got me to watch other games."


Team on the spot:  Arizona State. Three years ago the Sun Devils actually won a share of the Pac-10. Since then, they are 9-15. Only six of those victories have come against BCS conference schools. Dennis Erickson's star has faded fast. No one is expecting the Sun Devils to do much this season. With two I-AAs on the schedule (Portland State and Northern Arizona), a bowl is a must isn't it?


Toughest non-conference schedule:
UCLA. It's all about momentum. In his third season, Rick Neuheisel has to have it. By the first week of October he could lose it.

An 0-4 start is a definite possibility. There are no breathers in the non-non which is broken up by an early conference opener in the second week against Stanford at the Rose Bowl.

I dare any team to try this September schedule in consecutive weeks:

Sept. 4 -- at Kansas State. The improving Wildcats came within a game of winning the Big 12 North last season. Under Bill Snyder at this point they are capable of beating anyone outside the top 10. UCLA needs to mature in a hurry on offense. If it doesn't in this game, it could be another lost season.

Sept. 11 -- Stanford.  This was supposed to be an off field before it got switched for television. (Stanford was originally scheduled for Oct. 16) At least the Bruins get the Cardinal at home before (perhaps) the Pac-10's best quarterback, Andrew Luck, can get on a roll.

Sept. 18 -- Houston. This is the real WTF? Houston beat Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State on its way to a 10-win season last year. Case Keenum sure as heck isn't going to be intimidated by the Rose Bowl. This is a pick-'em at best, a Houston victory if Keenum heats up. This is the beginning of a two for one and gives the Bruins some face time in Texas, but wedged in where it is ... tough, tough, tough.

Sept. 25 -- at Texas. More face time in Texas but this is not the game you need at this time. Mack Brown has promised that the offense will become more physical this season. The Bruins better muscle up on D coming off meetings with Luck and Keenum.
 

Easiest non-conference schedule: Arizona State. As mentioned, Portland State and Northern Arizona kick off the season. That means the Sun Devils will have to win seven this season to go to a bowl game. It can count only one I-AA against bowl eligibility.

Reality sets in the next week at Wisconsin.

 

 

 

Posted on: April 20, 2010 4:47 pm
 

Pac-10 schedule breakdown

The best thing about the Pac-10 is that it plays a true round-robin with only three, usually strong, non-conference games.

The worst thing about the Pac-10 is that is plays a true round-robin with only three, usually strong, non-conference games.

Ask the coaches.

While the Pac-10 produces a "true" champion, there are plenty of reasons to question the scheduling philosophy. The unbalanced schedule means nine conference games. Half of the league is playing four conference home games and five away games. That puts more pressure on getting just the right mix of three non-conference games. Six Pac-10 teams will be playing I-AA teams this season. Arizona State is playing two. USC gets a 13th game this season by playing in Hawaii and is still playing seven road games.

That means there are plenty of land mines out there for the contenders and a chance for the Pac-10 to drop off the national title radar this season. Even with the loss of Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon will be favored. The Ducks, though, still have to travel to USC and Oregon State as well as Tennessee in the non-conference.

If the Pac-10 expands -- a decision is coming soon -- it probably will have to abandon the round-robin scheduling format.  It might not be such a bad thing to add a winnable non-conference game and drop a conference game that could ruin your season.

Game of the year:  (non-conference) Notre Dame at USC, Nov. 27. There are other tasty games (UCLA at Texas, Oregon State at Boise, Oregon State vs. TCU in Arlington, Texas), but it's never bad to go with tradition.

Neither the Irish nor the Trojans will likely be favored to win any championships this season. That's hardly the point. There's a new coach on each side in this game for the first time since 1941 (Sam Barry and Frank Leahy). USC's current winning streak over Notre Dame (eight) is a game more than Lane Kiffin has won (seven as a college coach).  Brian Kelly tries to  bring the zone read option to a program that is searching for an identity.

Heismans are won and souls are crushed in this game. You have to watch.

 

Game of the year: (conference)  Oregon at Oregon State, Dec. 4. The Civil War reached new heights last season when the Ducks were featured on a Thursday night in their road to the Rose Bowl. It's hard to describe the intensity in this game but when it makes an impression on the Big Ten commissioner who know it's special.

"The games that were regional became national," said Delany speaking about the BCS has been able to highlight certain games. "Once they got me to watch Oregon-Oregon State, they got me to watch other games."


Team on the spot:  Arizona State. Three years ago the Sun Devils actually won a share of the Pac-10. Since then, they are 9-15. Only six of those victories have come against BCS conference schools. Dennis Erickson's star has faded fast. No one is expecting the Sun Devils to do much this season. With two I-AAs on the schedule (Portland State and Northern Arizona), a bowl is a must isn't it?


Toughest non-conference schedule:
UCLA. It's all about momentum. In his third season, Rick Neuheisel has to have it. By the first week of October he could lose it.

An 0-4 start is a definite possibility. There are no breathers in the non-non which is broken up by an early conference opener in the second week against Stanford at the Rose Bowl.

I dare any team to try this September schedule in consecutive weeks:

Sept. 4 -- at Kansas State. The improving Wildcats came within a game of winning the Big 12 North last season. Under Bill Snyder at this point they are capable of beating anyone outside the top 10. UCLA needs to mature in a hurry on offense. If it doesn't in this game, it could be another lost season.

Sept. 11 -- Stanford.  This was supposed to be an off field before it got switched for television. (Stanford was originally scheduled for Oct. 16) At least the Bruins get the Cardinal at home before (perhaps) the Pac-10's best quarterback, Andrew Luck, can get on a roll.

Sept. 18 -- Houston. This is the real WTF? Houston beat Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State on its way to a 10-win season last year. Case Keenum sure as heck isn't going to be intimidated by the Rose Bowl. This is a pick-'em at best, a Houston victory if Keenum heats up. This is the beginning of a two for one and gives the Bruins some face time in Texas, but wedged in where it is ... tough, tough, tough.

Sept. 25 -- at Texas. More face time in Texas but this is not the game you need at this time. Mack Brown has promised that the offense will become more physical this season. The Bruins better muscle up on D coming off meetings with Luck and Keenum.
 

Easiest non-conference schedule: Arizona State. As mentioned, Portland State and Northern Arizona kick off the season. That means the Sun Devils will have to win seven this season to go to a bowl game. It can count only one I-AA against bowl eligibility.

Reality sets in the next week at Wisconsin.

 

 

 

Posted on: March 11, 2010 7:15 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 7:17 pm
 

Baylor pregame all-access blog

(I'm embedded with the Baylor men this week during the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City. My all-access tour of all things Baylor continues with an inside look at Baylor's pregame scout and chapel service prior to Thursday night's game against Texas.)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A moment earlier Paul Mills' voice was peeling paint in a downtown Marriott conference room. As the son of a minister, he's good at it. It was his duty Thursday afternoon to conduct the chapel service prior to Baylor's Big 12 quarterfinal game against Texas.

The Baylor assistant was quoting Bible verse and talking about drawn swords and redemption and being a man. Now he is quiet talking about the man who gave him this gift.

"He has Alzheimer's," Mills said of his father Kerry. "He got it when he was 56."

Mills holds it together but only for a moment. Kerry Mills was a minister at the North Belt Church of the Nazarene, a pillar in the community and in his family. The evangelical Mills tree stretches back to the Civil War where, Paul says, the family claims a chaplain in the battlefield.

The battle is different these days and nearly brings Mills, 35, to those tears.

"The ones that crush you are the kids whose parents trusted you and they just wondered off," Mills says, "I know John Thompson is hurting because of Allen Iverson ... divorce, [allegedly] gambling addiction, alcohol addiction. It crushes you. Those kids, you literally [say], we're going to make you better men. That's why you stay plugged into those kids long after they graduate."

These current Bears seem plugged into Mill's message. They have led the program to its highest point since the Armageddon of seven years ago. 

"You couldn't go anywhere but up," Mills said of a program burned to the ground seven years after the murder of a player. "You're young, you're a dreamer. We thought we could do anything."

Now they know they can do anything. Baylor is 24-6, ranked 20th and the darling of at least one scribe here in the media room. "I think Baylor could go to the Final Four," he said.

Thursday night's game might be the feature game of the quarterfinals. There is no love lost between Drew and Rick Barnes. The dichotomy between Thursday's presentaitons was amazing. Drew broke down Texas and its players with precision, going so far as to break down the jump formation. Mills brought the thunder from above.


"I would equate assistant jobs to youth ministers," Mills said. "You are always on call. You've got this issue at 10 p.m. I've been in their apartments at 4 a.m. I've been in them at 1 a.m. I've been in them at 2 in the afternoon."

What kind of things happen at 4 in the morning?

"It could be anything: 'Coach, I haven't slept and my brain is fried.' Maybe they have to do a paper. I tell them, 'Come meet me at the office ... and ya'll can type there' ". 


I'm trying to find a whiff of phoniness in this all-access journey and I can't. After Mills got done speaking, I wanted to pick up sword, not  a ball, and go after it. Last season Mills got on a ministerial role about the same time as the team when it made its run to the NIT championship game. He usually alternates with assistant Jerome Tang. When the Bears started winning, Mills took over until the end of the season.

It's all part of the plan -- Drew's, not necessarily God's.


"Our first couple of years it was fanatical," Mills said. "We were there by 8 [in the morning], go home from 6-9 [at night] and we would go from 9 to 3 in the morning."

Nowadays, Baylor can "relax" -- a little. Mills' message to the players started with a line from Joshua: "What man is a man who does not leave his world better?"

"God is on the side of Texas, as much as he is on the side of us," Mills said. "We're not any more special than anyone else because we're Baylor."

Except in basketball. Definitely, they hope, in basketball.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Baylor, Texas
 
Posted on: March 8, 2010 9:37 pm
 

Big 12 schedule analysis

(This is next installment of a continuing series analyzing the 2010 schedules of the BCS conferences)

You thought the Big 12 has been good lately? Year 15 of the conference kicks off with three familiar names at the top. At least two of the three are familiar.

Even with the loss of Colt McCoy, Texas never rebuilds (or is never allowed to). Oklahoma is over the loss of Sam Bradford as Landry Jones begins his first full season as starter. Nebraska is a fallen power making the long, slow slog back to the top. It hopes. But the Huskers are all the buzz coming off a 10-win season and sporting one of the nation's defenses -- even without a boy named Suh.

Elsewhere, there is depth throughout the Big 12. Missouri has established itself as a top 25 team every year. Texas Tech can only get better under Tommy Tuberville after Mike Leach's conduct going out the door almost ripped the program apart. Oklahoma State isn't going away with the Boone Pickens pipeline still running and Texas A&M is making strides, at least offensively. Baylor gets Robert Griffin back trying to end that pesky 15-year bowl-less streak.

Expect another national championship run, by some league team or another. A Big 12 team has been in five of the last seven BCS title games.

Game of the year: (non-conference) Florida State at Oklahoma, Sept. 11. In a sense, the suspense has been building for a decade. These teams last met in the 2000 BCS title game. Florida State is a shell of itself. Oklahoma not quite as strong as in the past. Watch for a rare Stoops vs. Stoops matchup. This time it's Oklahoma's Bob against FSU's Mark, the Seminoles new defensive coordinator. But there's so much more at stake here. This is essentially Jimbo Fisher's first real test (the opener is against Samford). It comes on the road in one of the game's most revered temples. We know FSU can score with Christian Ponder and other significant weapons. But for the Seminoles to get back to the top, it must start stopping people. God bless Mickey Andrews, but his final defense stunk. It's up to you, Mark.

Game of the year: (conference) Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 16. As goes the Red River Shootout, so goes the Big 12. Or so it seems. The winner of this game usually has the inside track to the Big 12 South and national championship contention. Texas is a roll having won four of the last five. Included in that streak is two Big 12 titles, two national championship berths, one national championship. Or as they call it in Austin, "Doing pretty good lately."

Team on the spot: Nebraska. After a 10-win, Holiday Bowl-winning season in Bo Pelini's second year, we're all wondering if the Huskers are truly back. The Flying Pelinis will go into 2010 as favorites to win the North. At least. The next step is to win the Big 12 for the first time since 1999. Nebraska was one playmaker on offense -- one -- away from beating Texas last season. Armed with a fearsome defense, the only question for Pelini is whether his offense can score enough to make 10-2 a reality. Nebraska almost pulled off the upset last year. The toughest games (Texas, Missouri) are at home. Oklahoma is off the regular-season schedule.

Toughest non-conference schedule: Colorado. No surprise here. The Buffs haven't backed off in the non-con since the Bill McCartney days. Good for building a program, not good for keeping your job. Dan Hawkins starts a win-or-else season with Colorado State, Cal, Hawaii and Georgia outside of the Big 12. That's a blood rival, a Pac-10 team that tied USC for third in the Pac-10 and a Georgia team on the rebound. The only game you'd feel confident of putting in the win column is Hawaii and even that might be a stretch. CSU has split the last four meetings. CU has split the last four against the Pac-10 on the road but hasn't won in a Pac-10 stadium since 2004. Georgia is an SEC powerhouse coming off a down year but will be favored in Boulder. A 3-1 start is recommended. A 2-2 beginning might not be enough for Hawkins who has to play Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska on the road.

Easiest non-conference schedule: Missouri. The Tigers have beaten Illinois five consecutive times. McNeese State has never beaten a team from a current BCS conference. San Diego State last beat a team from a current BCS conference in 1999. Miami (Ohio) has lost 23 of its last 26. Throw in a home game against Colorado after that and the Tigers don't have to leave the state of Missouri to start 5-0.

 

 

Posted on: March 4, 2010 4:49 pm
 

Texas tidbits from visit this week

Here are some leftovers from my visit this week to Texas. Subject matter included the ascension of sophomore Garrett Gilbert to starting quarterback, replacing Colt McCoy.

MACK BROWN

On the spring quarterback race:

"The real question mark is we've done a good job here of running an offense here with Major Applewhite and Chris Simms and then changing it to Vince [Young] and then tweaking it for Colt.  Our two question marks this spring are how do we tweak the offense toward the upcoming quarterbacks for the future? Where does [fifth-year senior] Sherrod Harris fit?"


On halftime at the national championship game:

"We thought Colt might come back. We were conservative in the second quarter. Colt wanted to play. That's great, that's valiant but you can't play. You're the spirit of this team, get your jersey, get your pads on and you get out there and get Garrett right in the middle of that team and pick them all up."

On the bad luck of losing Colt McCoy to injury:

"Where everything happened right in '05 against a great USC team, not much happened right in the first half [against Alabama]. We thought the teams were at least equal."

On expectations at Texas:

"The expectations of these kids and our current fans and therefore our current coaches is we need to get to that [championship] game every year. We're out of the win nine, win 10, out of win the South [Division]. We're out of just winning the conference, we'd like to do it all every year."

On developing a more diverse offense while transitioning from Colt:

"We've gotten pretty simple with our formations and therefore outexecuted people. We will not change our philosophy. We are going to be more stubborn because we have to get back to that [more balanced offense]."


On chasing the dream:

"Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno said, 'After you win a national championship, your goals change. You expect and want to win it every year. The second one is harder than the first one.'

"That's why I was so disappointed. We missed by hundredths of a point last year [2008]. Then we miss this year with some [injury] circumstances.

"Texas has won 3 championships in 112 years. We've been in the mix three of the last five years."

On early commitments (Texas has 17 commits for 2011):

"By and large it's not like everybody else. We're recruiting four states but we're at a point now that a lot of them want to have their kids come here. They're not going to tell them to come, they're going to tell them to come look.

"When we were at North Carolina; Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Penn State started the [early] camp deal in the summer to lock up all the in-state players and then recruit out of state. When we got here, Texas was new to [junior] camps. What we were trying to do is have juniors come to camp. Then we would offer them before their senior years ... Now they're starting off in their sophomore year. That part is out of control.

"Most of the kids that come to our junior day have 15 offers. If we don't offer then, by the time they walk out the door they have 15 e-mails from coaches: "Did Texas offer you? If you don't you have 15 offers. If they didn't, they're fools.' If we don't offer him while he's on camps we probably lose him." 

"We're lucky we know a lot about the kids because we've been around them. You've still got three semesters left in their academics. Very few have taken the SAT or ACT. You have to look at core and class rank."

GALE GILBERT, father of Garrett

On Colt McCoy's injury:

"That's got to be the earliest in the national championship or the Super Bowl that the starting quarterback had gone out. You know there's a lot of football to play but you can't give up too many opportunities."

On what it was like afterward with Garrett:

"Really more disappointment of being in that situation and not getting it done."


On Garrett's recruitment:

"He was always with Texas. When offers started coming in, he said we'll go look. I took him out to Cal and Stanford after his sophomore year. It's shut down, nobody's around and he said, 'What are we doing this for?' "


GARRETT GILBERT

On what he was told after the national championship game:

"Coach Brown he was proud of the way our team came out and fought in the second half. I used it as a learning experience. My dad told me he was proud of me.  Obviously, it was such an unfortunate deal with Colt going down. You never ask for something like that to happen.


"At halftime Colt was telling me to keep my head up and keep plugging away. The guys around me did a great job of making plays, stepping up and being leaders."

On taking snaps under center for the first time in years:

"I don't know how much of an issue it is. I'm sure Tim Tebow is working on all that. It's a big enough adjustment to go from college to the NFL."

On things slowing down in the second half of the Alabama game:

"Eventually. Hearing those guys say stay positive and stay with me that was a really comforting feeling. That first touchdown pass to Jordan [Shipley] was a big relief. Being a competitor I had all the confidence in the world in our team."

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 11, 2010 11:53 am
Edited on: February 11, 2010 12:02 pm
 

It's finally out there: Texas to the Big Ten

Respected Lawrence (Kan.) Journald-World columnist Tom Keegan reported Thursday morning that "preliminary exchanges" between Texas and the Big Ten have been made regarding expansion.

This could be nothing more than the Large Eleven doing it's due diligence. Make Texas say no before moving on. Or, it could be serious. I mentioned in December that the only two slam dunks that made sense for the Big Ten were Notre Dame and Texas. ND isn't coming. Texas?

I doubt Texas would leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten. First, it would literally take an act of the state legislature to move. Second, I hear that Texas is going to start its own network. It already makes approximately $10 million a year in Big 12 revenue. It would make at least $16 million per year in the Big Ten but the school has so many revenue streams at the moment that difference might not matter.

Anyway, good get by Tommy K.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 10, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 2:02 pm
 

More expansion: A proposed new look

The Mountain West is on notice.

The Big East too.

Don’t forget the Big 12 which could be ripped asunder.

One or all of those conferences are going to be impacted if, as expected, the Pac-10 and Big Ten expand in the near future.

After writing about the big picture on Wednesday, we’re here to speculate freely about how other conferences might be impacted.

Mountain West: After leading his league to the brink of BCS automatic qualifying status, commissioner Craig Thompson has to be concerned.

A BYU-Utah defection to the Pac-10 makes a lot of sense. In basketball, the league has travel partners (Washington-Washington State, Arizona-Arizona State). The Utes and Cougars are bitter rivals but would be make ideal additions due to the far-flung nature of the league.

I still don’t know how the Pac-10 views the academic aspect of expansion, so I’m not sure how it views the combination of a state school (Utah) and what amounts to a private school (BYU). If there is a fallback, it could be San Diego State.

If the Big Ten were to take Missouri, that’s a potential three teams ripped from the Mountain West and could mean the end of the league.  The three most likely replacements would be Boise State, Fresno State and Texas-El Paso.

The best non-BCS league could find itself teetering on the edge of existence, or at least relevance.

Big 12: The biggest hit comes if both Colorado (Pac-10) and Missouri (Big Ten) leave.

If Missouri or Colorado leave, the Big 12 would go get TCU from the Mountain West. While that would wound the MWC, the league would most likely then invite Boise State.

If both Colorado and Missouri left, the Big 12 would get TCU and, maybe, Houston? Either way, the Big 12’s TV stature would shrink.

Big East: The league was almost wiped out when the ACC expanded five years ago. What happens if Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Rutgers is taken by the Big Ten?

Most likely the Big East would raid Conference USA for Central Florida. That would get the league further into Florida. UCF is third-largest school in the country (53,000) behind Ohio State and Arizona State. There's got to be some football players in there somewhere. Plus, the school has made a huge commitment to facilities.

Sooner or later doesn’t Big East football and basketball have to split? The unwieldy existence between the two sides (16 teams in basketball, only eight of which play football).

After the wounds caused by the ACC, another hit could cause the end of the Big East in football.

My latest look on how the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and MWC might look in the future.

BIG TEN 
Schembechler Division

Iowa
Missouri
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Northwestern

Grange Division
Illinois
Indiana
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue
Wisconsin

BIG 12
North Division
Nebraska
Colorado
Kansas
Kansas State
Iowa State
TCU

South Division
Texas
Texas Tech
Texas A&M
Oklahoma
Baylor
Oklahoma State

 

PAC-10
North Division
Oregon
Oregon State
Washington State
Cal
Stanford
Washington

South Division
BYU
Utah
Arizona
Arizona State
USC
UCLA

MOUNTAIN WEST
Fresno State
Boise State
Texas-El Paso
Air Force
Wyoming
UNLV
San Diego State
New Mexico
Colorado State

 

 

Posted on: February 3, 2010 3:20 pm
 

Signing day notes

Before we begin, the recruiting “get” of the day goes to CBSSports.com’s J. Darin Darst. He was able to find Alabama’s “fax cam.”

If you didn’t believe it before, recruiting is officially out of control.

Winners

Tennessee: Never mind Derek Dooley’s closing job. The recruiting class just became that much better. A Boise television station reported Tuesday night and ESPN said Wednesday that Boise defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is headed to Tennessee.

Wilcox is one of the young up and comers. He was a short timer at Boise after his unit shut down Oregon and TCU on national television. The 33-year-old has coordinated the Broncos D for the last four seasons. Boise led the WAC in scoring defense and total defense in each of those four seasons.

The Oregon grad also worked at Cal before for three years as linebackers coach before coming to Boise for the second time in 2006.

Urban Meyer: A life-changing health problem. Rival recruiters running him into the ground. A revamped coaching staff. It is amazing that Florida has still been able to assemble the nation’s No. 1 class.

Auburn: Formal apologies to Gene Chizik who was largely derided in this space after his hiring from Iowa State. Chizik won eight in his first season, almost beat Alabama, and then actually beat the Crimson Tide – in recruiting. Auburn was listed above Bama in the top five midway through Wednesday.  Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn are fired up about national juco player of the year and former Gator quarterback Cameron Newton.

Texas: Let’s stow any speculation that Mack Brown is retiring anytime soon. This class showed that he still has the hunger to chase championships.  Texas finished with what was largely considered to be the nation’s No. 2 class. Most notable – West Chester, Ohio linebacker Jordan Hicks and Plano, Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

Missouri: Finished with what is believed to be its highest ranked class ever (top 20). Gary Pinkel continues to aggressively recruit Texas and lock up the best players in Missouri. The Tigers aren’t going away as an annual bowl team and factor in the Big 12 North. The Big Ten has to be happy.

Notre Dame: A respectable top 15 class that’s a good sign for Brian Kelly in 2011 when he has a whole year to recruit. Kelly completed revamped the coaching staff and didn’t get blown out of the water.

Cal: Jeff Tedford continues to solidify his spot as second-best coach in Bear’s history. (Hard to argue with Pappy Waldorf.) Tedford recruited aggressively landing a top 15 class with prospects from seven states. Typical of the far flung recruiting philosophy was getting five-star defensive back Keenan Allen to drop Alabama and come all the way from Greensboro, NC

Non-winners (Can’t bring myself to say ‘losers’ when no one knows how these kids will turn out):

Miami: The locals are grumbling about the lack of five-star recruits (none) and abundance of two and three-star prospects (19). Howard Schnellenberger might not approve. Nine players came from outside the “State of Miami”, including prospects from Buffalo, NY; New Berlin, NY and Evanston, Ill.

Kansas: Turner Gill got a late start, completely changed the coaching staff and had a hard time luring top recruits. Potosi, Mo. running back Brandon Bourbon should ease the pain.

Indiana: Rivals.com’s lowest ranked BCS conference school (No. 90). Let’s hope rankings mean little. Bill Lynch (7-17 the past two seasons) still deserves a chance to get the Hoosiers turned around.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are one of the “it” teams in the SEC for 2010. Maybe. A class ranked in the 50s might have impressed in Fayetteville but not elsewhere.
 
Ed Orgeron: Coach O’s reported poaching of Tennessee recruits on his way out the door to USC didn’t get the proper attention. “It’s been done before,” Tom Lemming said. “It’s not illegal, it’s unethical.” Maybe it should be illegal.

 
Best names:

MarKeith Ambles, USC.  Scoured from Twitter: Keith Ambles didn’t want to name his son after himself, so naturally he added a “Mar”

Emmanuel Beavers, San Diego State. How did he get away from Oregon State?

Furious Bradley, Southern Miss. Let’s hope he’s fast too.

Shaban Dika, Iowa State

Steele Divitto, Boston College

Pep Konokalafi, Hawaii

Munchie Legaux, Cincinnati. Please, God, make this be a nickname. Can’t imagine a parent who would name their child “Munchie.”

Shaquille Richardson, UCLA. And you thought there was only one.

 Another cautionary recruiting tale: It was announced this week that Miami linebacker Arthur Brown is leaving the program. The one-time five-star prospect made 17 tackles in two seasons. Speculation is that Brown and his brother Bryce, a tailback at Tennessee, could transfer to Kansas State.

 Good to know that top defensive end J.R. Ferguson has his head screwed on straight. His nickname is “Ego” (dad is actually Ego Sr.). Friends and family wear clothing labeled “Team Ego.” Let’s hope that LSU, his college choice, feeds his ego.
 
 
 
 
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