Posted on: February 11, 2009 1:04 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2009 4:06 pm

The future of Mike Leach and other items

The feeling seems to be that Mike Leach will let the deadline expire for signing a new contract on Tuesday. I wrote about the situation on Wednesday.

That leaves him only two years left on a deal that is paid him $1.75 million in 2008, eighth-highest in the Big 12. More important, Texas Tech could be assured that Leach would be on his way out. Allowing him to walk after the 2010 season would not only hurt recruiting but probably distract Leach who would be looking for a new job.

That's not to say a new agreement couldn't be worked out at some future date, but giving a sitting coach a deadline to sign a deal is unique.

Here is a copy of what is believed to be Leach's current contract

 A look at the 2009 Pac-10 non-conference schedule: (Thanks to the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner who rounded up the skeds)

Once again the Pac-10 is showing it isn't shy about playing out of conference. The league plays few I-AA opponents and is willing (maybe because of its geography) to travel to play high-profile opponents.

Best 2009 Pac-10 non-conference games:

1. USC at Ohio State, Sept. 12 -- Game of the Century No. 1,317. Will this be Terrelle Pryor's coming out party?

2. Utah at Oregon, Sept. 19 -- By this point in the schedule the Ducks will have played Boise, Purdue and Utah. Three BCS league opponents. Combined record from 2008: 29-9. Please, stop the madness. Even if the Ducks win all three, what condition will they be in for the Pac-10 schedule?

3. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 17 -- Seven in a row and counting for the Trojans ...

4. Oregon at Boise State, Sept. 5 -- Can't understand why Oregon (and Oregon State) keep playing the Broncos. In this case, the loser might be out of a BCS bowl.

5. UCLA at Tennessee, Sept. 12 -- Rick Neuheisel won't be leading any postgame pep rallies in Neyland. When was the last time the Bruins and Vols were each this desperate for a quarterback?

6. Arizona State at Georgia, Sept. 26 -- The Devils were embarrassed by the Bulldogs last season in the middle of a six-game losing streak. In this return game, both teams are rebuilding.

7. Cincinnati at Oregon State, Sept. 19 -- Jacquizz Rodgers vs. the defending Big East champions.

8. LSU at Washington, Sept. 5 -- What is the Washington AD smoking? That brutal non-con schedule helped get Tyrone Willingham fired. Steve Sarkisian starts his career against an SEC monster.

9. Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 28 -- Irish season finale. Will it be Charlie Weis' finale?

10. Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19 -- Wait, Bill Snyder is actually getting on a plane to play a non-con road game?

11. Arizona at Iowa, Sept. 19 -- The Wildcats are on the rise but Iowa still start the season ranked despite the loss of tailback Shonn Greene.

12. Stanford at Wake Forest, Sept. 12 -- The I.Q. Bowl. Jim Harbaugh's scheduling instincts have to be questioned. His team is starting with consecutive roadies to Pullman (Washington State) and Winston-Salem.

13. Cal at Minnesota, Sept. 19 -- Gophers have almost everyone back in this season that will be a referendum on Tim Brewster's future. (started 7-1, finished 0-5). Hope the Bears have a secondary. Adam Decker could be a preseason All-American.

14. Maryland at Cal, Sept. 5 -- Plenty of revenge motive here for the Bears. Cal was down 28-6 after three quarters last season at Maryland before waking up. After winning nine in '08, the Bears have set their sights higher.

 How the economy will handle the glut of bowls -- natural selection.

 The president is a recruitnik too.

It is the responsibility of this space to keep alive the printed word whenever possible. To that end, let me recommend two excellent, recently-released books.

"KU Basketball Vault, The History Of The Jayhawks," is a unique look at one the most decorated programs in hoops by veteran college basketball scribe Ken Davis. Unique? When was the last time you got souvenirs with your coffee table book?

"Big Boy Rules, America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq" will change your entire view of the war, the government and human nature. Steve Fainaru of the Washington Post provides a deeply personal look at the Bush travesty that is the Iraq war. Steve is a Pulitzer Prize winner who was a former colleague at the Kansas City Star.

I know, I know. I can hear you. That's as close as I'll ever get to a Pulitzer.


Posted on: February 6, 2009 11:22 am
Edited on: February 6, 2009 5:14 pm

Recruiting wrap

Dear Pat Summitt:

Please excuse Lane Kiffin for, in some small way, taking away from your accomplishment.

It was a night to celebrate a career milestone. Instead, some of us were distracted by Senor Smoke's flaming of Urban Meyer. You didn't deserve that.

Pat, just to remind everyone: You've won 1,000 games. The Laner has called out Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer and is 0-0 as a college coach.

 Let's hope Ka'lial Glaud takes his classes more seriously than he takes his college choice.

Heads, stay in bed, tails, go to history lecture?

Don't laugh. Glaud signed a letter of intent with Rutgers this week because the Scarlet Knights came up tails when he flipped a coin. It was down to West Virginia and Rutgers. Glaud was conflicted so he went Harvey Two Face. The three-star linebacker from Atco (N.J.) Winslow Township raises some interesting possibilities for future coin flips.

Heads, go to the post-game party; tails, study?

Heads, drive the booster's Escalade; tails, keep driving your beat-up '88 Corolla?

Heads, Heinken; tails, Natty Light?

Heads, start a fight outside a bar at 3 a.m.; tails, study?


 I want Dre Kirkpatrick to fail. Maybe that's too harsh. I want what Dre Kirkpatrick represents to die off.

The nation's No. 1 defensive back committed to Alabama on Wednesday, but it was the way he did that turned the stomach. In front of a supportive hometown crowd, before cameras televising the vent live, Kirkpatrick played out the time-worn practice of putting on his new school's hat to announce his decision.

But it was the way he did it that turned the stomach. Kirkpatrick baited the crowd. Created some theater. "Ya'll ready?, he asked, then pulled a gym bag out from underneath a table. From inside the bag came a plastic bag and finally a red velvet box.

Sufficiently teased, the crowd yelled its approval as Dre pulled out the Alabama cap. His left arm in a sling (the result of a recent shoulder operation), Kirkpatrick then told his audience, "I'm not afraid of Julio Jones," referring to the Tide's freshman All-American receiver.

Somebody give me a barf bag. Kirkpatrick is the latest embodiment of the sense of entitlement some of these recruits get. Kirkpatrick is recovering from surgery, hasn't even enrolled -- much less taken the field -- and has called out a future teammate.

Why do I get the feeling this kid is going to crash and burn, spectacularly, in T-town?


 High school powerhouse Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas took care of one side of the ball. Now what can coach George Smith do on the other side? Smith's program produced an incredible 11 players who signed letters of intent this week. Raiders populated rosters  from Ohio State to Notre Dame to the Ivy League. The Raiders were the nation's No. 1 prep team in 2008.

 A fine story by Ken Gordon of the Columbus Dispatch describing "The Pryor Effect". It seems there is a quarterback who was willing to commit knowing he'd have to wait at least two years behind Terrelle Pryor.

 UCLA not only finished in the top 10 nationally, it sent a message down the 110.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 4, 2009 2:13 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2009 2:16 pm

Signing day upsets

So you know I'd rather eat dirt than spend a minute fretting over recruiting but there were a couple of notable developments on Wednesday.

Manti Te'o to Notre Dame? Incredible. A Mormon -- maybe the first Mormon -- at Our Lady's program. Not only that, if you read my Monday story, there isn't exactly a big LDS presence in St. Joseph County. This "get" is as much about perception as recruiting. Charlie Weis just might be making the slow climb back to respectability.

Te'o certainly wasn't chasing bowl games but he is comfortable. It still floors me that he didn't stay on the West Coast. The kid is going to be given every chance to play right away as a freshman. With middle linebacker Brian Smith, Te'o (who prefers to play inside) ND could have a deadly combination.

USC also lost linebacker Vontaze Burfict to Arizona State. That's two huge linebacking prospects who could have played right way, getting away. USC will still finish in the top five nationally but this might be another indicator that the Trojans' death grip on the Pac-10 is weakening.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 26, 2009 2:50 pm

Manti Teo shocker

I'm not one to chase my tail on recruiting but the news from Hawaii on Monday was surprising.

Linebacker Manti Teo has eliminated BYU from his list of finalists saying he was "too comfortable" with the school. Teo has several relatives in the Salt Lake City/Provo area. BYU had been the odds-on favorite because Teo had told all recruiters that he intendede to take his LDS mission when he turned 19. BYU, obviously, is experienced at that sort of thing.

His recruitment is turning into one of the better stories of the season. Teo, a devout Mormon, has narrowed his choices to a private catholic institution (Notre Dame), another private school (USC) and a state school (UCLA). The two California schools almost make sense. Almost. Notre Dame is completely out of the box. I checked around and it looks like Notre Dame may have never had a Mormon player on its roster. There is a small LDS population in South Bend, Ind. and St. Joseph County.

However, ND types think Teo can play right away. Charlie Weis has been to the islands at least twice recruiting the kid. Teo is probably one of the reasons Notre Dame chose to play in the Hawaii Bowl.

The kid is supposed to announce his choice next week, maybe on signing day. Stay tuned.



Category: NCAAF
Tags: BYU, Notre Dame, UCLA, USC
Posted on: January 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Sanchez skinny

There are doubts about Mark Sanchez. Not mine, necessarily, although I do agree with some of the evaluations about the USC quarterback I've been hearing.

Much like Sam Bradford, Sanchez just hasn't played that much college football. Unlike Bradford, Sanchez has been a full-time starting quarterback for only one season. You heard that in Pete Carroll's evaluation of Sanchez' decision during a Thursday press conference.

Plus, there are concerns about Sanchez' toughness and ability to take a hit. One source who has watched USC estimated that Sanchez has been behind center for less than eight "legitimate" sacks. [That is, not flushed out of the pocket or running side-to-side]

USC runs a pro-style offense which should help Sanchez. The team uses only 15 percent of its extensive drop-back passing game in the playbook.

In another sense, It's hard to blame Sanchez given that the Heisman triplets (Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy) are all returning. He has a chanace of being the second quarterback taken after Matt Stafford. However, Sanchez could be leaving a lot of money on the table. He is no slam dunk to go in the top 10. If he returned for his redshirt senior season, Sanchez could improve significantly on his earning power.

"Mark knows he's going against the grain on this decision ...," Carroll said Thursday, "I don't agree with the assessment of the decision ... The NFL has a very clear thought in that they want you to stay in school as long as you can."


Don't be surprised if Sanchez signs with agent David Dunn.

Now, on to USC. It needs a quarterback.

That you know, but this goes much deeper. USC needs a quarterback, a couple of new coordinators, oh, and a new defense.

Welcome to Carroll's first rebuilding job since he arrived in Troy in 2001.  It's not just Sanchez leaving a year early for the NFL. It's essentially the entire defense leaving, one of the best -- statistically -- of modern times. Both coordinators have left too -- DC Nick Holt followed Steve Sarkisian to Washington.

The spring battle at quarterback will be the most significant at USC since 2003 when Matt Leinart came out of nowhere. It seems like the same thing will happen again with Aaron Corp, Mitch Mustain and Garrett Green competing with freshman Matt Barkley, who is already enrolled.

Mustain, an Arkansas transfer, had trouble picking up the offense in 2008. That was clear when he dropped to third on the depth chart for a time behind Corp.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: USC
Posted on: January 3, 2009 6:06 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2009 6:08 pm

Parcells to OU. Stoops not to the Broncos.

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Dolphins EVPFO Bill Parcells attended Oklahoma's Saturday practice.

EVPFO, that's Executive Vice President for Football Operations or fancy talk for general manager.

"He’s just evaluating our players I’m sure, but it was great to have him here. I’ve always been a big fan of the way he coaches and the way he handles you media guys too," Bob Stoops said. "I think it’s always important when you get a legendary figure and a guy that’s a hall of fame coach. I just like to have our players see and hear from those kind of guys and always he has a great message for them."

Stoops also shot down rumors about him and the vacant Broncos job. Denver owner Pat Bowlen is an Oklahoma grad.

"What situation? That’s a rumor that I have not heard and no one has contacted me about that so I don’t know anything about it," Stoops said. "We’re preparing for a national championship and that’s all my focus and all my concentration’s on so obviously I’m not a candidate. I’m sure someone might have told me other than you guys if I was a candidate."

 The early hypocrite of year award goes to Joe Paterno. The venerable coach complained about the media intrusion on himself and his team at the Rose Bowl.

 “People running around with cameras taking pictures of me," Paterno told reporters on Friday, the day after his team lost to USC in the Rose Bowl, "when I’ve got a team of guys bustin’ their butts to get themselves in this situation. And people are more worried about me than talking about guys like Daryll Clark and Derrick Williams and people like that.”

Hey, we'd love to talk to them coach but you closed the lockerroom after the game which is against BCS policy. You also stiffed ABC on a promised interview before the game.

“I just think there’s a limit to how much you can expose your football team to.”

Those two statements don't make sense together, coach. You can't complain about us not talking to your players, then in the same breath complain about how much we talk to your players.

The Rose and BCS are considering what action to take against Paterno and Penn State. There are apparently fines for violating terms of the BCS contract which states that lockerrooms must be open to media after all five games.

 There are some strong hints that Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly isn't going to be a coach in waiting much longer. Mike Bellotti seems to be clearing the decks to become athletic director before next season. Bellotti has given two assistants permission to "explore other options." Those options apparently do not include staying at Oregon under Kelly.

  Pardon Utah if it felt slighted at the Sugar Bowl. First there were shirts being sold identifying Utah as being in the WAC (it is in the Mountain West). Before the game fans were given some novelties (clappers, etc.) that identified the Utes as being the "Uthes". 


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 2, 2009 7:21 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2009 7:33 pm

Leftovers from the Rose Bowl and other bowls

LOS ANGELES -- Take all of this for what it is worth but USC's two biggest stars from Thursday say they're coming back.

Receiver Damian Johnson said before the Rose Bowl that he was definitely coming back from his redshirt junior season in 2009. That was before his 10-catch, 162-yard career day against Penn State.

A USC source told me that Sanchez' father told him that the quarterback is definitely coming back. Sanchez threw for 413 yards (second-most ever in the Rose Bowl) and four touchdowns.

"I don't know how I could leave all this," Sanchez told reporters after the 38-24 victory. "That's what I'm planning on."

Departing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was asked if this was Sanchez' last game.

"I don't know. I know he's a tremendous quarterback, he's extremely bright. He's got great physical tools. He prepares himself mentally and physically better than anyone I've been around. I don't know what that equates to. I just know what he is."

If both players return, USC's offense could be the most productive at Troy since 2005, the last season for Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. The defense is another issue. The offensive line returns intact. Williams and Ronald Johnson are rounding into go-to receivers for Sanchez who has struggled in general to develop one as a starter.

The nation's No. 1 defense is another story. It figures to lose 10 starters if, as expected, safety Taylor Mays comes out early.

"It's about what's best for me," Mays said.

Code breaking from your favorite translator: He's gone.

As for that rebuilt defense ... USC got its last national championship game with a unit that wasn't exactly a juggernaut in 2005. It finished 48th nationally giving up 361 yards per game.

 While Sanchez' future is uncertain, Sarkisian did coach his last game at USC before going to Seattle for take over the sinking ship known as the University of Washington.

"It's been seven great years of my life," Sark said. "Four straight Rose Bowls to be part of, three straight wins. For Mark and I, watching him grow up as a freshman until this point now I'm really happy for him."

"More than anything we've got to develop a belief in winning. This team believes in winning. That's the first thing we have to carry up there."

 Williams is the most productive on-field member of the Springdale Five.

Four of the five highly-recruited members of Springdale (Ark.) High School followed their coach Gus Malzahn to Arkansas in 2006. Since then, a cross-country drama has played out. Malzahn left Arkansas after a year to go to Tulsa. He recently took the OC job at Auburn.

They eventually scattered to the four winds. Williams and quarterback Mitch Mustain transferred to USC. Mustain is now the No. 3 quarterback behind Aaron Corp and Sanchez. Williams led the Trojans in receiving. Tight end Ben Cleveland is still at Arkansas having caught one pass in 2008. Receiver Andrew Norman transferred to Tulsa in 2007, then returned to Arkansas as a walk-on in 2008.
Offensive lineman Bartley Webb signed with Notre Dame but reportedly gave up football because of a shoulder problem.

"I wouldn't ever say that (I'm the most accomplished)," Williams said.

 It still boggles the mind that Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer was considering redshirting quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In winning a tidy, if not exciting, Orange Bowl, Taylor is now 13-2 as a starter.

The Hokies should go into next season as ACC favorites. Again. Tech's dominance of the league was not what the suits envisioned when they expanded the league but until Miami and Florida State show us more, the league is going to stay out of the state of Florida.

 Speaking of which, that was the ACC's first BCS bowl win (and second ever) since 2000. Virginia Tech was involved in that one too, as the loser from the Big East against FSU.

 South Carolina quarterbacks threw an incredible 27 interceptions this season and have coughed up a total of 69 in Steve Spurrier's four seasons. After a disappointing 31-10 loss to Iowa in the Outback Bowl you've got to ask yourself how much the OBC has left before he starts hitting from the tips for good.

  For whatever its worth, the Pac-10 has clinched best record in the bowl season (5-0). It's hard to put much stock in a series of exhibition games but if we're going to damn the Big Ten for being 1-5 in bowls, we might as well credit the Pac-10.

That doesn't remove the fact that the league had two of the worst programs in America -- Washington and Washington State -- and continues to be USC and the Little Nine.

 Not a bad comeback for Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz in the Gator Bowl. He fumbled away a ball that was a returned for a touchdown and threw a pick that led to another score. After leading a second-half rally Ganz was named the MVP of the Gator. 
Posted on: December 29, 2008 7:11 pm

A quarter century of Florida national champions

Nine national champions in the state of Florida since that magical night in the Orange Bowl almost 25 years ago.

The Tampa Tribune polled 20 journalists to determine which of the nine was best.

 Alabama's Andre Smith besmirched the name of the Outland Trophy by getting suspended for the Sugar Bowl. Supposedly, it has to do with dealings with an agent. I'm always amazed at how these guys can't wait a few days until after the bowl game to get into this kind of stuff.


The Outland dinner and ceremony in Omaha early next year is one of the finest of its kind in the country. It's a shame that this kid did something idiotic (allegedly) to soil the good name of the second-oldest individual award in college football.

 Apparently, USC players aren't up on their current events. I'm thinking this video is at least as much about the irrelevance of Joe Biden's political career than about the Trojans not knowing the vice president.


Category: NCAAF
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