Category:NCAAF
Posted on: July 21, 2008 9:31 am
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O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

Wow, does George O'Leary have a set.

As you'll see below the Central Florida coach is refusing to speak to the Orlando Sentinel for what he says are errors in its coverage of Ereck Plancher's death. By the way, O'Leary, in Mike Gundyesque fashion, has refused to name those "errors." 

Of course, if there is anyone who knows about misinformation it should be O'Leary. Let's not the forget that the only reason he's at UCF is because of that little scandal at Notre Dame. O'Leary had years to own up to his little white lies and didn't. The Sentinel is begging him to tell it what it did wrong. Instead, O'Leary is pouting and acting like Harry High School. The coach has dragged this issue into the gutter by refusing to speak to Sentinel reporters at Conference USA media days. If they sit at a roundtable with other reporters, the interviews are over.

Classy, George. Punish everyone for the perceived slights of one.

Where is AD Keith Tribble to tell O'Leary to cut this crap out right now now?

Where is Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky to privately tell O'Leary to cooperate during one of the conference's signature events?

So now we're down to a pissing match. O'Leary has aliented the hometown newspaper. This might be different if the Sentinel had an agenda or had actually gotten stuff wrong, but the paper has professionally covered this story from the start.

UCF staffers are the ones that look bad. They have mismanaged the information to the public from the start. Coaches have a bad track record of trying to control the media. They look oafish and amateurish. They are out of their element.

The media, UCF and O'Leary won't have to wait much longer. This is small stuff compared to when the Plancher eventually files its lawsuit against everyone who even drove by the UCF campus the day their son died.

The news:

O'Leary declines to talk with Sentinel at C-USA media days


Iliana Limón
Orlando Sentinel
21 July 2008


UCF football coach George O'Leary declined to talk with the Orlando Sentinel at the Conference USA media days. He also did not let players Pat Brown and Joe Burnett grant interviews to the newspaper. Ryan Powell, who handles media relations for the UCF football program, also said O'Leary refused to speak with any other members of the media if a Sentinel reporter was at his table during other interviews.

O'Leary said during his Florida Sports Writers Association media day press conference Thursday that he would not speak with the Sentinel corrects errors in its coverage of UCF football player Ereck Plancher's death. The Sentinel has repeatedly asked UCF to point out specific errors so that the newspaper could investigate the problem and publish corrections, but O'Leary and UCF officials have declined the newspaper's request.

The reaction:

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 14, 2008 11:47 pm
 

Eight schools, 12 great dynasties

These are other great college football dynasties to go along with the Pete Carroll story...

Alabama, 1961-66, 1971-79: The two-time defending champions went 11-0 in 1966 and finished <em>No. 3</em> in the final polls. Bear's second run included national championships in 1973, 1978 and 1979. Bama is spending $4 million a year on Nick Saban in hopes of getting back to those days.

Army 1944-50: Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis, Red Blaik and consecutive national championships in 1944-45. There were three in a row if you count the Helms Athletic Foundation giving Army its No. 1 ranking in 1946, which we don't.

Florida State 1987-2000: Fourteen consecutive years with a top four finish in the AP poll. From upset kings to ACC kings, FSU ruled the country in that span, at least as far as the Florida panhandle. Bowden is hoping for national title No. 3 before Jimbo Fisher takes over.

Miami , 1983-2002: The Canes changed everything from fashion to end-zone celebrations to the game itself.  It's hard to argue with five national championships under four different coaches. This dynasty lasted so long that a member of the 1987 title team, Randy Shannon, is now the coach.

Nebraska, 1970-1999: Nebraska started dominating college football with Bob Devaney's back-to-back championships in 1970-71. Tom Osborne went on to win 84 percent of his games from 1973-97. That included three national championships and 13 conference titles.

Notre Dame, 1919-30, 1943-49: Knute Rockne won 105 games in 13 years establishing the Fighting Irish -- and college football -- as a national passion. Frank Leahy won 86 percent of his games including four national championships in two different coaching terms.

Oklahoma, 1948-58, 1971-85: Bud Wilkinson was the mastermind behind what might be the most unbreakable record in the game, 47-consecutive victories. The second run includes Barry Switzer's three national championships in 1974, 1975 and 1985. Bob Stoops has a nice little run going himself with a championship and five Big 12 titles this decade.

USC, 1967-1979, 2002-present:  John McKay and John Robinson combined to win seven Rose Bowls and four national championships in the first dominant 13-year run. Pete Carroll came within 19 seconds of becoming the first coach to win three consecutive national championships in 2005.

Posted on: July 14, 2008 2:36 pm
 

Some thoughts on the best coach series...

I purposefully waited until the coaching series was over to go back and dissect the numbers. When picking the 

coaches in each category, I didn't want to be influenced.

Anyway, here is how it breaks down ...

 The big winners were the SEC and Big 10. Surprise! Eighteen of the 66 coaches chosen came from the SEC (27.2 percent). The Big Ten had 13 picks (19.7 percent). Only three of the coaches came from non-BCS leagues (two from Conference USA and one from the WAC).

 Another surprise (not). Nine of the 66 coaches came from schools in Florida.

 

 The Big 12 and Pac-10 each led with three coaches on the dream staff. Norm Chow (UCLA, offensive coordinator), Pat Ruel (offensive line, USC) and Pete Carroll (head coach, USC) came from the Pac-10. In the Big 12, there were Cale Gundy (running backs, Oklahoma), Bruce Walker (tight ends, Missouri) and Brian Cabral (linebackers, Colorado). The Big Ten and SEC each had two "bests".

 USC and Florida tied for the most coaches on the list, each with five. That means that more than half the staffs at those schools are among the best in the country. That would make sense since the schools have combined to finish No. 1 in the AP poll three of the last five years.

 Thirty-five total schools were represented, including at least two programs from all six BCS conferences. Notre Dame did not have a coach on the list. However, East Carolina, Hawaii, UNLV and Tulsa did.

 The only SEC schools not represented were Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Kentucky and Mississippi State.

 

 The only conferences not to have at least one coach on a list were the Sun Belt and MAC.

 

 Nine of the dream staffers have won a national championship. The only ringless member is Missouri tight ends coach Bruce Walker.

Coaches I wished could have made the list but didn't:

 South Florida defensive backs coach Troy Douglas (coached first-rounder Mike Jenkins and fifth-round Trae Williams in 2007).

 There were too many good offensive coordinators. Among those that deserve mention: Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Mike Locksley, Illinois; Joker Phillips, Kentucky; Jim Bollman, Ohio State; Steed Lobotzke, Wake Forest.

 How do you leave off defensive coordinators DeWayne Walker of UCLA and Wally Burnham of South Florida?

 

 This has nothing to do with the coaching series but I found it interesting that Texas A&M's new president Elsa Murano isn't expecting much out of Mike Sherman in his first season.

"I have great expectations for coach (Mike) Sherman. Poor guy," Murano told the San Antonio Express-News. "We all think he needs to win the championship the first year, which of course cannot possibly happen. We need to give him a chance to rebuild.”

Cannot possibly happen? You've got to love Murano's candor.

Posted on: July 11, 2008 12:36 pm
 

The final word on The $4 Million Dollar Man

Bill Martin is a businessman, a great one judging by his resume. A billion-dollar developer of residential and commercial property, Michigan's AD also founded the Bank of Ann Arbor before moving to the athletic side.

It's hard to figure, then, how Martin ever let it get to this point at Michigan. Columnists with a lot more business acumen than me have been torturing keyboards this week in the analysis of Rich Rodriguez' buyout agreement. See, it isn't an agreement at all. It was a bailout. Michigan is picking up $2.5 million of the $4 million Rich Rod owes West Virginia.

Martin had to know it was going to end this way -- with his coach owing the entire $4 mil and Michigan paying part of the bill. I have questions. Then, below, I have some comments from Rodriguez from a June interview.

--Did Martin, that shrewd businessman, read the court documents? In hindsight, it was a fairly cut-and-dried deal.

--How did he not tell Rodriguez that the coach didn't have much wriggle room on this one? In the end the issue was simple: The coach's name was on the contract agreeing to the buyout.

--Assuming Martin did his due diligence why wasn't this issue addressed before, or shortly before, Rodriguez signed at Michigan? Shoving the two-ton elephant to the corner is the exact same thing Rodriguez did when he signed his last West Virginia contract.

Instead, Rodriguez, West Virginia and Michigan were needlessly dragged through the mud. Obama has handlers to spin things when the presidential candidate dares to deviate from his well-crafted script.
 

Colleges have, well, I've said this for years ... College athletics needs an image consultant. From ham-handed SIDS and public information officers (the overwhelming majority are great people, by the way), to despotic coaches to bankers-turned-AD, the industry knows squat about crisis management. It knows how to let coaches shut down practices. It knows how to limit media access to players whose scholarships are subsidized by the public. It knows how to let a coach chase rainbows in court.

Just being congenial human beings sometimes is a lost art. We long for fall Saturdays and March Madness. We get seat licenses sucking loyal alums dry. We get tuition increases to pay for flat screens in players' lockers. We get ... corporate b.s. There's a situation in Kansas right now involving the university and a local T-shirt maker. Larry Sinks owns JoeCollege.com in Lawrence, Kan. (please, look it up). Kansas contends in a lawsuit that Sinks' is selling unlicensed Kansas gear.

Sinks does not use Kansas trademarks or logos. In fact, the shirts are some of the most devious and creative I've ever seen.

--In reference to overweight coach Mark Mangino: Our Coach is Phat!
--Same reference: Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach
--Transpose the first letters and you'll find out what KU thinks of rival Missouri: Muck Fizzou

Kansas is no different from most schools when it comes to "officially licensed" merch. It is tired, old, over-priced and pretty much sucks. As a longtime consumer of logo gear let me say this: Creativity (and affordability) go out the door when licenses are signed.

The school, obviously, is making a killing on its stuff after winning basketball's national championship. According to Sinks, he is trying to get through life day to day after being slapped with the lawsuit. His storefront on Massachusetts St. in Lawrence is unassuming and modest. But apparently Kansas has determined Sinks has established a lucrative beach head in raiding the school's coffers.

Kansas essentially is trying to say it owns the rights to the color blue and the word "Kansas". The case could be landmark if the jury decides that a shirt with the phrase "If You Mess With The Bird, You Get The Beak," constitutes a licensing violation.

The state itself is named after the Kansa Indian tribe. Using NCAA logic, the school should be barred from wearing anything with the word "Kansas" on it. The NCAA has set arbitrary rules for schools using Indian nicknames. How is Illini "hostile and abusive", as the NCAA put it, and the state name, Illinois, isn't. Both refer to Indian tribes?

How "Seminoles" is less offensive than Indians or Tribe (William and Mary) is a case of palms being greased. The Seminole tribe has a business arrangement with Florida State.

Anyway, back to Rich Rod. Back in June he told me that West Virginia's intent was extend the lawsuit into the fall; not only bleed him dry but distract him from his job. With fall practice looming, it became time for everyone to move on.

Here is Rodriguez' take on the issues taken from that early June interview in Ann Arbor:

 "I was always pushing for things for the program at West Virginia. But that was my job. People say I was petty. I was thinking the other way.

"I was told (by administration), 'Don't worry about (the buyout) ...  We'll reduce it or eliminate it. I don't believe in buyouts.' That's what I was told by the No. 1 boss at the school (president Michael Garrison).

"(I was told), 'We've got to get (the contract) done right now. There's pressure from the governor, to the board to the president.' Maybe I should have had an attorney present. I was getting ready to start practice in a week.

"I probably didn't tell enough in my deposition, how many times I was told, 'Just trust us." That phrase, 'Just trust me,' went on for five or six months.

"I had a meeting with the president before I left. One of the things I said was, 'Here I've been at a place seven years and we've done some pretty good things. You're telling me no to everything. Where there's another school with great tradition, great opportunity telling me, yes.' I said 'I'm getting confused. It should be the other way around.' That was probably the most shocking thing to me, the actions of the president."

Finally, let's end this mega-blog with an anecdote. Shortly after Rodriguez took the Michigan job, his wife Rita was back in West Virginia grocery shopping. A bag boy noticed the Michigan plates while taking the groceries to her car.

"When you go back to Michigan, tell that guy Rodriguez, 'Blah, blah, blah,' Rodriguez quoted the bag boy as saying.

"That's my husband," Rita Rodriguez said.

"Why did he leave?" the bagger replied.

After relaying the story, Rodriguez leaned back and said, "It's time to move on."

Consider that the last words on the subject. Aren't you ready for some football, Michigan?

 

Posted on: July 9, 2008 7:09 pm
 

Ten wise guys

Ten players who could be in the NFL right now but aren't. In other words, thanks for staying in college guys ...

1. Jim Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State -- It's more about getting a degree (Laurinaitis wants to be a broadcaster) than chasing another national championship game.


2. James Davis, RB, Clemson -- Actually declared before wisely pulling out of the draft to re-form Thunder and Lightning (with C.J. Spiller) at Clemson.


3. Rey Maualuga, LB, USC -- A wild child as a freshman, maybe the No. 1 linebacker in the country as a senior.

4. Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss -- How many guys have a book written about them before they get to college?

5. Darry Beckwith, LB, LSU -- The scouts love his pursuit. Playing behind another great LSU line Beckwith should have a monster year.


6. Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Ohio State -- Is there anything more pure than this?: "I don't feel that I've accomplished everything I can accomplish in college football," Jenkins said, "and there's still a lot for me to conquer and shoot for - the national championship, another Big Ten championship, the Thorpe Award. And I really look forward to the honors and perks associated with being a senior on this team."

7. Duke Robinson, OL, Oklahoma -- Get your tears of a clown puns out of the way, this great nephew of Smokey Robinson had an amazing 13 knockdown blocks against Miami.

8. Alex Boone, OT, Ohio State -- Boone is coming back to win an Outland Trophy, ahem, if not a national championship.

9. Macho Harris, CB, Virginia Tech -- This has to be a success story: Harris declared for the draft even though he was projected in the third round. Four days before the deadline, he pulled his name back.


10. Jonathan Luigs, C, Arkansas -- How does it get better after winning the Rimington Trophy while blocking for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones?

 


Posted on: July 8, 2008 6:01 pm
 

Notre Dame AD search

It's Tuesday (7/8) and a little bird told me a new Notre Dame AD could be announced as soon as Wednesday.

We know that SMU AD Steve Orsini (former ND player) is interested. So is MAC commissioner Rick Chryst, an under-the-radar type who has the respect of everyone, as far as I can tell, in college athletics.

Other names to consider: Bubba Cunningham, Tulsa AD and ND grad; Missy Conboy, current interim AD; Sandy Barbour, Cal AD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Cal, Notre Dame, SMU, Tulsa
 
Posted on: July 7, 2008 10:43 pm
 

All Philled Up

Headline: Phil Fulmer will make an average of $3 million through 2014 per the terms of his contract extension.

Question: Would he have taken $2.5 million? Maybe $2.25 million?

The Tennessee coach made $2.05 million last season and while he deserves a raise for getting the Vols to the SEC 
title game, a 50 percent bump in this economic and athletic climate seems a bit much. To me, Fulmer's agent Jimmy 
Sexton deserves credit for this one.

This was a raise clearly dictated by ego -- not Fulmer's or Sexton's, by the way. Tennessee wanted to pay its coach $3 million 
because it can. Everyone else (seemingly) in the SEC is making $3 million, let's show we're big time too.

Sure, the winning percentage (.766, one of the best among active coaches) means something but why such an extravagant raise now? As you'll see by the editorial below that is not sitting well with everyone. The program has continued to  underachieve in the eyes of many.

Since the 1998 national championship, Tennessee's average finish in the SEC East  is somewhere between second and third place (2.27 to be exact). It has two outright division titles in that span (2001, 2004) and two ties (2003, 2007) but is 0-3 in SEC championship games in that span.

Compare that UT's two biggest rivals in the SEC East: Florida has three outright division titles, two SEC titles and 
a national championship since 1998. Georgia has two outright East Division titles and two SEC titles in the last nine years. (UGA won a three-way division title tiebreaker in 2003 but lost the conference title game.)

Given all that, what leverage did Fulmer have for such an extravagant raise? Look, the guy deserves a lot for being 
around this long. He is the senior coach in the SEC but it wasn't like NFL or college teams were busting down the 
door to get him.

Here's another view from Bob Gilbert, a former AP writer and retired UT news operations director ...

In approving salary packages of $20.95 million for football coach Phil Fulmer and $13.85 million for basketball 
coach Bruce Pearl through 2014, the University of Tennessee has thumbed its nose at UT students, faculty, fans and 
common sense and decency.

But worse than that, by guaranteeing Fulmer a contract extension every time his team wins eight regular season 
games, Vol athletics director Mike Hamilton and president John Petersen have set a new low standard for Tennessee.

It means Tennessee can have 8-6 seasons to infinity and Fulmer will still be the Vols’ head coach. All he has to do 
is win 57 percent of his games.

Ironic, isn’t it, that just a few years ago, Fulmer’s staunch supporters were talking about him breaking Gen. Bob 
Neyland’s 82.9 career won-lost percentage? But in Neyland’s era, teams played a maximum of 10 regular season games. 
Today they play 12, and an eight-win season is mediocre.

Moreover, Fulmer has beaten only 14 of his last 26 SEC foes; Neyland won 79.9 percent of his last 26 SEC games.

That is Tennessee’s new standard – mediocrity – under a president and an athletics director who don’t have a clue, 
or even care, about the standard of excellence established by Neyland.

When combined, the salaries for the football and men’s basketball coaches, not counting basketball assistants whose 
raises haven’t been announced, will total $5.935 million for the 2008-09 fiscal year. Fulmer will be paid $2.4 
million and his assistants another $1.9  million, and Pearl will get $1.6 million.

The increases come at a time when the nation’s economy is on the verge of collapse. Gasoline costs $4 a gallon, 
General Motors is on the brink of bankruptcy, Starbucks is closing 600 stores, unemployment is rising, the housing 
market has gone into the tank, our banking system is a shambles, the cost of health care is spiraling out of 
control, and our military is broken because of a U.S. president who believes an ill-conceived war will save his 
legacy.

What Hamilton and Petersen, with trustees’ approval, have done is fiscally irresponsible, bordering on criminal 
malfeasance. They rationalize that athletics should not be held to the same fiscal standards because the athletics 
department is self-supporting, but they appear completely ignorant of the fact that UT exists to educate students, 
not entertain the public.

The salary hikes for Fulmer and Pearl have triggered a wave of outrage among students whose tuition goes up 6 
percent this year and faculty who’ll receive no raises.

Moreover, several academic and research programs of considerable importance to the state, Audiology and Speech 
Pathology and the Center for World War II Study, were in danger of being eliminated until a public outcry changed 
some minds.

What is worse, Pearl got his new deal despite being on record as saying he’s happy at Tennessee, wasn’t going to 
leave, never dreamed he’s make the money he was already being paid ($1.3 million), and didn’t ask for a raise.

As for Fulmer, no other schools or pro teams are panting for his services, yet the university says his increase is 
predicated on market value. What market value? This is the dumbest assertion ever uttered by a UT administrator.

The Petersen-Hamilton rationalize that the coaches’ salaries come from revenue the athletics department generates, 
not from tax dollars.

The University of Tennessee, founded in 1794 as Blount College, was designated in 1869 as the state’s federal 
land-grant university. And nowhere in that enabling legislation if there any stipulation that the school provide the 
citizens of Tennessee with sports entertainment.

Because of reckless spending for a top-heavy roster of administrators, the UT-Knoxville budget is beginning the new 
fiscal year $11 million in the red. Meanwhile, the athletics departments are spending millions on stadium upgrades 
and other facilities that cater mostly to fat-cat contributors.

UT and its irresponsible leaders have been sucked into what Dr. William Friday, president emeritus of the University 
of North Carolina and former chairman of the Knight Commission on college sports reform, calls the athletics “arms 
race.”

To cope with runaway spending, reformers are calling for a variety of changes in athletics philosophy. Among them: 
(1) reducing the length of football and basketball seasons, (2) making freshmen ineligible for varsity competition 
so they have a year to acclimate themselves to academic and campus life, (3) and disclosure of how many athletes get 
passing grades because of soft courses, degree programs designed to keep athletes eligible, and “friendly faculty.”

At the current rate of increases in spending and charges passed onto the fans, Vol sports ultimately will be beyond 
the financial reach of the average fan. Petersen and Hamilton get away with it because the sports media don’t 
challenge the use of athletics to entertain the public.

Nothing will change until fans quit buying tickets and succumbing to extortion.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 1, 2008 4:25 pm
 

Getting it Richt

(Note: We sat down with Georgia coach Mark Richt last week at the College World Series. It has been an eventful offseason for the Bulldogs coach. He has been to Honduras with approximately 25 players on a Christian goodwill mission. He also joined Yale coach Jack Siedlecki, Miami's Randy Shannon, Notre Dame's Charlie Weis and Auburn's Tommy Tuberville on a tour of Iraq and the Middle East.

At the end he was most moved by a letter handed to him by a soldier. Richt quoted the soldier as writing, "Tell your team and anybody in American that will listen that we believe in our cause and we are not doing this in vain.") 

Dodds and Ends: Is it possible for the momentum from winning the Sugar Bowl to carry over to this season?

Richt: "Like I've been saying, all the momentum that was built, people build it, players, leaders. I like to describe last year that we somehow found the heartbeat of our team. We somehow rode it out the rest of the year. The culture is very healthy when it comes to work ethic, attitude.

We have a bunch of guys who want to be great. This year's guys will have a job of maintenance. It's not like they have to start this train from a stop. Keep it rolling. The juniors and seniors we got are just super hard workers.

We don't even have a senior lineman in the program, just a bunch of guys who love the grind. We know the SEC East is difficult every year. Our West opponents are Auburn, Alabama, LSU and we always play Georgia Tech. Decided to go to Tempe, Ariz. and play a preseason top 10 (Arizona State). Those coaches we're facing are responsible for nine national championships. No matter how good we might be, everybody is else is just as good."

D&E: What's harder to win a national championship in football or baseball? (Georgia, the SEC champion, lost the best-of-three championship series in baseball to Fresno State)

Richt: "I think it would be pretty comparable. Baseball seems like you've got to get hot at the right time. You look at Fresno State what were they the regular season (33-27)? If you have that regular season in football it's over. In football, the margin of error all season long is much smaller.

"My comments were a year ago were: as the season goes on we're going to be a very good team. I just hope we win enough in the beginning to be in the race at the end. As it was happening we were fighting for our lives until everybody else started losing and we kept winning. All we needed was Tennessee to lose one more time."

D&E: You've been on two fairly significant trips this offseason.

Richt: "This was my second trip to Honduras. Both of them were no brainers. You go. When they asked me to go the Middle East, I said, 'I'll go. I'll make it work.'

"They (soldiers) knew who we were. They just loved the fact we came. They were fired up. I didn't know how we'd be received to be honest with you. I thought we'd cheer them up. They cheered me up.  It was like going to a Touchdown Club. We'd get into an auditorium, there'd be a section of Bulldog fans.

"Coach Tuberville coached a flag team against Coach Shannon and Coach Siedlecki. Charlie, he wanted to have the whistle. He was officiating. That was the thrill of a lifetime. One girlfriend of one the players on my team said it was like Christmas when we showed up. He said it was the very best day since they'd been there. They just loved it.

She wrote me a long letter to say thank you."

 

 

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