Tag:Washington State
Posted on: October 18, 2009 6:27 pm
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

Coaches of the year at the halfway point (seven weeks down, seven weeks to go)

ACC: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech. With the upset of Virginia Tech, Johnson is on track to win the league in his second season. Who says the triple option won’t work in major-college football. The Yellow Jackets completed one pass on Saturday.

Big East: Brian Kelly, Cincinnati. They were picking for the middle of the pack after losing 10 starters on defense. Kelly took a bunch of offensive players, made them linebackers and balanced a team that was going to score points with Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard on offense. The question is how long can Cincinnati hold onto Kelly if he wins the Big East again, especially if Notre Dame opens up?

Big Ten: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa: No one expected 7-0, especially after an opening-day squeaker against Northern Iowa. Now the Hawkeyes are to be feared after a comeback win at Wisconsin. Don’t be surprised if they’re favored on Nov. 14 going to Ohio State.

Big 12: Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State. That loss to Houston is looking better all the time.  The dude isn’t exactly Mr. Rogers but he does know how to call an offense and the addition of Bill Young on defense has made a difference. The NCAA took away Dez Bryant. Injuries took away his best running back, Kendall Hunter. The Cowboys, 5-1 and second in the Big 12 South, control their own destiny for the conference title.

Conference USA: Kevin Sumlin, Houston. Not “Sumlan” as a wire story called him on Saturday. Be assured, the Cougars’ coach is known throughout the industry. After defeating three BCS-conference teams, Houston is the favorite to win Conference USA. Kelly should be up for every major job that opens.

MAC, Al Golden, Temple: The Owls have won four in a row for the first time since 1985 and are tied for the MAC East lead. The division could come down to a Nov. 27 date at Ohio. As late as 2006 this program had lost 20 in a row.

Mountain West: Gary Patterson, TCU. Fort Worth’s favorite has the Froggers chasing their first BCS bowl and first conference title since 2005. No Heisman candidates, a great defensive end (Jerry Hughes) and Patterson’s scheming.

Pac-10: Chip Kelly, Oregon. In his first season as head coach, Kelly lost his best runner and his quarterback. All he did was win the next five after the opening-night loss to Boise. USC should be worried, very worried, when it goes to Eugene on Oct. 31.

SEC: Nick Saban, Alabama. Until Saturday, it might have been Steve Spurrier but Saban quashed that talk. In his third season, Saban has the Tide back among the elite. They control their road to the national championship; have a Heisman candidate (Ingram) and perhaps the nation’s nastiest defense.

Sun Belt: Charlie Weatherbie, Louisiana-Monroe. Among the lowest-paid coaches in I-A, Weatherbie has the Warhawks off a 3-0 conference start. That's the longest conference winning streak in 16 years. At a school that usually gets beaten down by guarantee games against  BCS schools, Louisiana-Monroe is 4-2 overall.

WAC: Robb Akey, Idaho. The Vandals are 29th in the first BCS which should be cause for a street party in Moscow. Idaho is nine miles away from the BCS (Pullman, Wash., home of Washington State is that close), but miles away from a BCS bowl. Still, Akey has taken a program that was picked for the bottom of the WAC to contention with mighty Boise State. Halfway through the season the Vandals are bowl eligible. Their only bowl as a I-A program came 11 years ago.

National coach of the (half) season: Check back on Wednesday.

The right-now, no-hype, no-b.s., not-what-they-did last year Heisman rankings for this week:

1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. Behind Tebow, the best player in the SEC.
2. Case Keenum, QB, Houston. Leads the country in touchdown passes (19), yards (2,464) and has beaten three BCS schools.  That’s as many as Jimmy Clausen.
3.  Jacory Harris, QB, Miami. The physical and spiritual momentum behind Miami’s rise back to the top.
4. Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh. The nation’s leading freshman runner is on pace for 1,580 yards.
5. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida. Harassed by Arkansas but came through again during the game-winning drive.

Posted on: October 6, 2009 3:29 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2009 3:45 pm
 

National notes

Don’t believe that excessive celebrations are going away.

Secretary-editor of the NCAA rules committee Rodgers Redding told me Tuesday that he will continue to push for a rule that would penalize players for excessive celebrations on their way to a touchdown. That’s right, points could be taken off the board if, say, a player shows a defender the ball on his way to the end zone.

“I’m assuming it’s going to come up,” Redding said of February’s next rules committee meeting. “If not, I’ll bring it up.”

The possibility of such a rule came up last February when the rules committee released a statement on sportsmanship. I’ve been asked several times this week if officials will go lighter in such situations after A.J. Green’s gestures were misinterpreted on Saturday in the Georgia-LSU game.

The statement should tell you all you need to know. The flags are going to keep flying on these judgment calls.

The good news is that beginning this year, rules are changed only in two-year cycles. The earliest we could see a score be “voided”, as the rules committee puts it, is 2011.

Redding is also the SEC supervisor of officials who said Monday that the penalty against Green should not have been called.

 What tragic, tragic news that Juice Williams is being benched this week at Illinois.

This is a guy who led the Illini to the Rose Bowl two years ago. He has never been the same since. Blame it on losing his offensive coordinator (Mike Locksley, now at New Mexico). Blame it on Ron Zook. It’s clear something has happened to one of the more likeable kids in college sports. Now the pressure is on Zook whose team is out of the Big Ten race. 

“He never was a very good passer,” one former coach said of Williams. “Even when he throws it to the right guy it’s not in good body position. The receiver is reaching behind him.

When Illinois went to the Rose Bowl the same coach said, “they had Rashard Mendenhall who could run the ball. Juice Williams could run the ball, but he was only an average passer.” Now without a legitimate running threat, it was easier for defenses to concentrate on Williams.

The senior will be on the bench when the Illini, 1-3, host Michigan State, ending a streak of 38 consecutive starts. Williams holds the school record for career total yardage.

 Things don't look good for Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli who missed practice on Monday and Tuesday because of a right knee injury.

Masoli got hurt in the second quarter  of what was a glorified scrimmage against Washington State. Now squarely in the Pac-10 race, coach Chip Kelly might have to turn to backup Nate Costa or sophomore Darron Thomas. Not good news with a trip to UCLA coming. The Bruins are expected to get back quarterback Kevin Prince from a broken jaw.

Masoli has been wearing a knee brace and is listed as day-to-day.

Posted on: September 23, 2009 10:19 am
 

Flu outbreak policies of I-A conferences

[The policies of the Pac-10 and Sun Belt are listed in Wednesday's story]


ACC: A policy might be determined Oct. 7 at the fall meetings.

Big 12:
No conference-wide policy. Institutions should work with local and state health agencies.

SEC: Currently working with schools on handling outbreaks.

Big Ten: Ongoing discussions regarding contingency plans.

Conference USA: In the process of developing a policy. Could have specific language on the issue within a week.

Big East: Has taken out an “event cancellation” insurance policy that protects against several elements including swine flu.

WAC: (Regular season)

1.   In the event the visiting institution is unable to arrive at the site of a contest for any reason in order for it to be played at its regularly scheduled time, it shall notify the home director of athletics, home head coach and the Conference office as soon as possible.

2.   In the event either the visiting institution is unable to arrive at the site of a contest in order for the contest to be played and completed on the day it was scheduled or if the home institution is unable to participate for any reason:

a.   The contest shall be rescheduled only upon the mutual consent of the involved Directors of Athletics and the approval of the Commissioner.

b.  If the contest is unable to be rescheduled, it shall be declared no contest and shall not be included in the regular season standings.


Mountain West: The conference's planned approach is to address each situation on a case-by-case basis in the context of the unique circumstances of that particular outbreak. These would include, but not be limited to, the location of competition, the sport involved, the host institution’s policies/emergency management plan, state and local guidelines, etc.  After gathering all the pertinent information and consulting with all necessary constituents/agencies, we would make a determination how best to proceed.
 
As an example, while it did not affect competition, the United States Air Force Academy recently had an outbreak among the incoming freshman cadets and quarantined a significant number of individuals as a result.  This was done in accordance with USAFA guidelines and other pertinent jurisdictions.  Had there been institutional and/or MWC competition involved, we would have consulted with the appropriate parties at USAFA and developed a plan of action.

Note: The Mid-American Conference did not respond.




Other flu outbreaks regarding college football:
(Others are mentioned in Wednesday's story. Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

 
Duke: One confirmed case in August. Upwards of three dozen players had flu symptoms that lasted approximately 10 days.

Tulane: Twenty seven players had mild symptoms and returned to practice in early September.

Washington State: Sixteen players got sic shortly before the Sept. 5 home opener against Stanford (a loss).

Kentucky:
Defensive tackle Antwane Glenn has been isolated due to flu symptoms.

Wisconsin: Several players developed symptoms the week of the Sept. 12 game against Fresno State. Whether it was because of the flu or not, several Fresno State receivers were able to get behind the Wisconsin secodary during an overtime win by the Badgers.

Posted on: September 16, 2009 12:28 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2009 8:09 pm
 

National notes leading with Russell Shepard

Is  Russell Shepard being hidden?

LSU’s freshman has Tigers fans’ mouths watering, but didn’t play in the opener at Washington. He played handful of snaps last week against Vanderbilt showing how good he can be and how young he is.

Operating in the Wildcat on LSU’s eighth offensive play, Shepard ran around left end for 13 yards. On the next play he caught an eight-yard pass from Jordan Jefferson, then immediately fumbled. Later, Shepard ran for eight yards on the option keeper.

“We’ve have to get him some more touches and some more experience,” Les Miles said. “The second time with the ball in his hands, he coughs it up. He didn’t understand how important it is to get the yards and go down. Going down is OK as long as you have the ball.”

Shepard has been compared to everyone from Tim Tebow to Percy Harvin. Miles still hasn’t been clear on how his prize  eventually will be used. There is still time to tinker against Louisiana-Lafayette this week before the SEC schedule starts against Mississippi State.

So is Shepard being hidden? More like getting used to hot water. LSU ran only 48 plays against Washington so there were few opportunities for him to get in. Against Vandy, he had three touches for 29 yards which was a tease for those who can't wait for more.
 
“According to people I’ve talked to, his (off-field) abilities are Tebow-esque … On the field what he can do is similar to Percy Harvin,” said CBS network analyst Tim Brando.

CBS game day analyst Gary Danielson said it would be a mistake to throw Shepard in at quarterback for any legnth of time: “If Russell Shepard is the leader of this team, they are not going to be a good football team. If Florida would have hung it on Tebow, Florida would not have been good the first year either.”

CBS’ Spencer Tillman added this: “His talent is literally off the charts. This kid is more gifted than Vince Young was at this point in time.”

Shepard has some of those Tebow qualities, agreeing to a magazine cover shoot in high school but not without teammates. After committing to LSU in June 2008, he then began recruiting other players for the Tigers. One was five-star safety Craig Loston, a cousin.

This is probably not the week to be raising Terrelle Pryor’s name but Shepard has been compared favorably to Ohio State’s quarterback.

“I admire the way Tim Tebow handles himself off the field,” Shepard told the New Orleans Times Picayune . “I took a liking to that. He says, ‘God bless you,’ after every interview. He’s amazing … I want to be known like that.”

You can read more about Shepard here .

 USC might have the best quarterback situation in the country if Matt Barkley doesn’t go on Saturday. It still has its most experienced quarterback on the bench. If Aaron Corp starts for USC against Washington, that puts the forgotten Mitch Mustain a tweaked ankle away from being under center. Mustain might the most talented No. 3 quarterback in the country. He was 8-0 as a freshman starter at Arkansas in 2006. Don't forget that Corp won the job coming out of spring.

 Loved this anecdote from the Michigan press box. Announcing Central Michigan’s upset win over Michigan State, the press box announcer at Michigan Stadium said, “No cheering in the press box, but we will make an exception right now.”

  Joe Paterno his team being ranked fifth in both polls: “Are we No. 5? I take the paper and go to the bathroom. I scan it. First, I see who died.”

 After two weeks, the Pac-10 has the best record (4-2) against the Big Six major conferences and Notre Dame. Not surprisingly, the Sun Belt has the worst mark (1-8). The MAC has played the most games against the major conferences, 14, and gone 2-12.

 If SMU beats Washington State this week it will be 3-0 for the first time since pre-death penalty days in 1984.

 Tulsa has allowed one defensive touchdown in its first two games. Get ready for that to change. The Golden Hurricane travel to Oklahoma.
 
 Just warning all those BCS lovers out there: Florida is 11th in the Sagarin Ratings. That’s not the worst of it. The Colley Matrix  has Florida No. 35 and USC No. 13. Wes Colley’s top five – 1. Pittsburgh, 2. LSU, 3. Wisconsin, 4. Texas, 5. UCLA.

You shouldn’t have to be reminded that those are two of the six computer indexes used in the BCS standings.

 


Posted on: June 19, 2009 12:43 pm
 

Picking the Pac-10

It's never been like this in the Pac-10.

The conference that gave us Elway, Leinart, Plunkett, Aikman and Fouts, also has given us Best, Blount, Rodgers, Gerhart, and Grigsby. The first set of five names you recognize as some of the best quarterbacks in Pac-10 history. The next five represent another bit of history. According to the conference, there have never been five returning 1,000-yard rushers in the Pac-10.

They are:

Jahvid Best, Jr., Cal -- Despite missing a game, Best rushed for 1,580 yards last season and will be on everyone's Heisman list. Or should be.

LeGarrette Blount, Sr., Oregon -- Chip Kelly has made Oregon into an offensive powerhouse, particularly on the ground. The Ducks have finished in the top six in rushing each of the last two seasons. Kelly lost one 1,000 yard rusher (Jeremiah Johnson) and gets another. The punishing Blount ran for 1,002 yards.
 
Jacquizz Rodgers, Soph., Oregon State -- The Pac-10's offensive player of the year ran for 1,253 yards as a freshman despite missing two games. How could we forget that Thursday night against USC?

Toby Gerhart, Sr., Stanford
-- Set the school rushing record with 1,136 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in '08.

Nic Grigsby, Jr., Arizona -- The Cats' first 1,000-yard rusher since 2001.

Picking the Pac-10 ...

1. USC -- Expect at least a share of an eighth consecutive Pac-10 title. Expect an eighth consecutive BCS bowl (probably Rose). Don't expect me to tell you the starting quarterback. Aaron Corp started the spring game, but true freshman Matt Barkley has made tremendous strides. Corp may start the season but Barkley might be the guy by the end. The defense and offensive line (Pete Carroll's best ever at USC) can hold the Trojans in the national championship race if the qbs struggle.

2. Oregon -- Kelly has gone from New Hampshire offensive coordinator to Oregon head coach in less than three years. He will take over officially on July 1. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli started as a fifth-stringer, then accounted for 23 touchdowns under Kelly in 2008. Normally, a head-coaching change would signal a drop in the standings. But Kelly has had enough time in the program to get familiar. Don't forget the Ducks were a top 10 team last season. Welcome to the big time, Chip .The season kicks off at Boise.

3. Cal -- Jeff Tedford has brought stability to Berkeley, but no Rose Bowls. It's been 50 years and counting for the Bears since their last trip to Pasadena -- for a bowl game. Tedford, the quarterback wizard, has been pumping out running backs in recent years while quarterback play has slipped. Aaron Rodgers was the last serviceable signal caller. That was five years ago. Inconsistent Kevin Riley gets the job this season. Best will have to relieve the pressure.

4. Oregon State -- Twenty-eight victories the past three seasons. Two wins over USC. Never, ever doubt Mike Riley. Even though his defense has to rebuilt, the Beavers are going to be a pain again this season. Four of the five starters on the offensive line are back. Rodgers' shoulder is healed. Lyle Moevao is a veteran quarterback. Expect at least eight wins.

5. UCLA -- The Bruins could be the most improved team in the Pac-10. Interception machine Kevin Craft is gone. In his place is redshirt freshman Kevin Prince. Sixteen starters return and defense is not the problem. The Bruins had the second-best total defense in Pac-10 play. Until Neuheisel actually performs in Westwood, though, I will relegate them to this spot.

6. Arizona State -- The Sun Devils (5-7) were one of the most disappointing teams in the country last season. Don't be surprised if Arizona State repeats that record. The strength lies with the defense where end Dexter Davis has 10-plus sacks each of the past two seasons. Chris McGaha is a fine pass catcher who led the Devils two years ago (830 yards).  Dennis Erickson must first get some consistency out of an offensive line that has surrendered a staggering 89 sacks the past two seasons.

7. Arizona
-- The Wildcats have the worst Pac-10 record this decade (24-51) but seem to be on the rebound. Despite losing firestarter Willie Tuitama, coach Mike Stoops could make it to a second consecutive bowl. He will have to deal with a non-conference trip to Iowa, plus having only four conference home games (five away). Either Matt Scott or Nick Foles, both sophomores, will replace Tuitama. They have 11 career pass attempts between them.

8. Stanford -- Jim Harbaugh might be the most coveted 9-15 coach in the country. His name continues to come up when other jobs open up. The Cardinal have improved, coming within a season-finale loss to Cal of being bowl eligible. Gerhart and Andrew Luck give Stanford a chance this season. Luck, a sophomore, threw five touchdowns in the spring game. They're here because the Cardinal open with back-to-back road games (Washington State and Wake) and have to play seven teams that won bowl games.

9. Washington -- Steve Sarkisian can't lose. Well, he can but certainly at the level of last season's worst Husky team ever. Sark starts his head coaching career with Washington on a 14-game losing streak. Three wins would make him the mayor of Montlake. The Huskies have the talent to go 5-7. A healthy Jake Locker will make a difference under Sark. Everyone is looking forward to redshirt freshman tailback Chris Polk. Part of Sarkisian's job is getting the Huskies to believe they can win. The streak breaker should come in Week 2 against Idaho.

10. Washington State -- The Cougars won twice last season (one of them against Washington) but are in worse shape than their rivals. This could be one of the nation's worst programs again this season. Second-year coach Paul Wulff loses five starters from one of the worst defenses in Pac-10 history. That might be a good thing. The offense turned it over a staggering 25 times and gave up 43 sacks.

 

Posted on: June 1, 2009 12:42 pm
 

Picking the WAC

The biggest offseason news for the WAC has not Boise State's 12-1 season, it was Boise State's athletic director.
Gene Bleymaier is the Broncos' athletic director. He is also a lawyer who made the most sense last month at the BCS hearings in Washington.

"How many more years do we need to go undefeated," Bleymaier told a congressional committee, "before we get a chance?"

Good point.

Boise has finished the regular season undefeated three times since 2004. This season could be No. 4. if the Broncos can get past a tough season opener against Oregon. (It didn't bother them last year when the Broncos won 37-32 at Oregon).

Boise should roll to another WAC title but how high can it get in the BCS standings? While the Mountain West has its gripes, the WAC has had teams in back-to-back BCS bowls in 2006-07.

The problem, if you can call it that, is that Oregon will likely be the only ranked team that Boise State faces this season. A similar predicament didn't bother the Broncos against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl so what are we supposed to conclude?

Bleymaier is right. The Broncos belong not only in a BCS bowl but deserve a chance at the national championship.

If it wins all its games.

Picking the WAC ...

1. Boise State -- Start with accurate lefthander Kellen Moore at quarterback. Throw in starting experience at every position. Add a rising superstar coach who has two undefeated years in his first three seasons.  Watch for Chris Petersen and the Broncos to make another top 10 run. They are quick and athletic. Think a mountain version of Miami in the 1980s. Watch Titus Young who might be the league's fastest receiver.

2. Nevada -- Colin Kaepernick is the WAC's best quarterback. The Pistol offense is quirky and might be the WAC's best unit. It was held under 31 only twice, none came after September. In his third go-round with the Pack, Chris Ault is one of the more underrated coaches in the country. Ault needs just a hint of defense to milk the season down to late November when his team visits Boise State with the conference title possibly on the line. 

3. Louisiana Tech -- If it wasn't for Boise State, Louisiana Tech would be the WAC's Next Big Thing. The Bulldogs went 6-2 down the stretch appearing in only the program's third bowl in 20 years. Coach Derek Dooley has a returning quarterback (Ross Jenkins) as well as 16 other starters. Just think what a healthy receiver/returner Phillip Livas can do this season. Playing with a torn meniscus, the 5-foot-8 Livas piled up more than 2,000 all-purpose yards.

4. Fresno State -- The baseball team shamed the football team last year going from Bulldogs to Underdogs to Wonderdogs in winning the school's first national championship in a men's sport. Fresno would settle for a conference title from football. Coach Pat Hill has no WAC titles this decade and no outright titles ever (1998 and 1999 were ties). Fresno State's version of American Chopper's Paul Teutul  might have lost something off his fastball but the Bulldogs are still going to be a factor. Something will have to change, though, even with 15 returning starters. The Dogs were minus-11 in turnovers last season and have been outgained in the last three seasons.

5. San Jose State -- Coach Dick Tomey has done wonders in his retirement job, milking 23 victories out of this program in his four seasons. The Spartans faltered down the stretch last season losing their final three and missing out on a bowl. Tomey's team will contend for the WAC this season if Cal transfer quarterback Kyle Reed can improve, 6-4 receiver Marquis Avery can take pressure off of teammate Kevin Jurovich and the front seven on defense can dominate.

6. Hawaii -- June Jones knew what he was doing by getting out while the getting was good. While replacement Greg McMackin went 7-7 and got the Warriors to a bowl in his first season, the program will continue to slide. Hawaii will entertain offensively, it always does. But only two starters return on defense where 11 of the top 13 tacklers have departed.

7. Utah State -- New coach Gary Andersen (Utah's former defensive coordinator) has a monumental task ahead. As the No. 3 program in a sparsely populated state Utah State is constantly reminded how it can't get it done. It has been 12 seasons since the Aggies had a winning season. Former coach Brent Guy won nine games in four seasons.

8. Idaho -- Robb Akey is 3-21 in his two seasons but there are signs of hope considering the Vandals haven't had a winning season this decade. The top three rushers return not including Washington State transfer (nine miles away) DeMaundray Wooldridge. Quarterback Nathan Enderle somehow threw more touchdowns (20) than interceptions (17) during a 2-10 season.

9. New Mexico State --The Aggies went from wild-eyed offensive philosophy (Hal Mumme) to one of the best defensive coaches in the game (UCLA d-coordinator DeWayne Walker). Unfortunately the new coach picked one of the worst programs in I-A to launch his full-time head-coaching career. The defense will play hard and get better. The offense lost the leader of the nation's No. 10 pass offense (quarterback Chase Holbrook). Too bad new o-coordinator Timm Rosenbach doesn't have any eligibility left. The former Washington State quarterback was the Cougars' quarterback coach from 2003-07.

 

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: November 5, 2008 10:32 am
 

National notes

What is the immediate future of Tennessee football?

I'm talking two, three years down the road. I have a nagging feeling that Tennessee could become the new Nebraska. A fallen power. Nebraska will never win three national championships in five years. Those days are over.
I'm wondering when the Huskers will challenge for the Big 12 North again. As recently as early this decade, Nebraska was still dominating the division.

Tennessee has won three SEC East titles in the past seven years. That's not bad, folks. Will the next coach do that? The school has the facilities and interest and budget to win big. How does it get that back in one of the most competitive atmospheres in the country?

 Good to see that Steve Spurrier has officially declined interest in tap-dancing on Phil Fulmer's grave, er, in the vacancy. After all, you can't spell Steve Spurrier without UT.

 Before that the Old Ball Coach took a few final jabs at his favorite target. After South Carolina beat the Vols 27-6, Steve Spurrier said: "I'm used to hearing 'Rocky Top' about 10 times. Did they play it at all? I can't remember any of it. Usually you hear that song -- maybe they only play it after they score." Ouch.

 

 USC has become a victim of its own excellence. The Trojans dropped from fifth to seventh this week in the BCS standings despite shutting out Washington 56-0. Apparently the pollsters and computers aren't impressed with the Pac-10 conference.

 

Since the BCS standings debuted, USC is 3-0 having outscored Washington State, Arizona and Washington by a combined 142-10. In that time USC has lost 7.5 percent of its BCS average (.8165 to .7551).

Three of the six BCS computers have the Pac-10 ranked no higher than fourth (Billingsley, fourth; Sagarin, sixth; Colley, seventh behind the Mountain West).

"The more we win, the worse we get," Pete Carroll said.

 BYU needs Utah to beat TCU on Thursday to have any chance of winning its third consecutive Mountain West title.

 

Where is BYU quarterback Max Hall going to be?

"Can't miss 'The Office,' Hall said before changing his story. "I don't know. I will probably pay attention to it. I will probably watch it."
 
 
 Greg Robinson has won three Big East games in four seasons at Syracuse. Two of those are over Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe. Might want to add another name to the hot list.

 This week's SEC ill feeling of the week descends upon Baton Rouge where Nick Saban makes his return as a college coach to LSU.

 

"This isn't about me," Bama's coach said.

Uh, yeah it is, Nick. It's all about you walking out on LSU for the NFL. That in and of itself isn't bad. Who among us wouldn't jump at the chance for a huge promotion?

The mistake is coming back into the belly of the beast (Death Valley!) and trying to deflect the attention. Check this comment from the SEC meetings earlier this year. The guy doesn't exactly expect a welcoming committee.

"All I know is when we had a staff meeting about who goes on what bus, who rides where and all that kind of stuff, it was pretty unanimous in our staff that when we go to LSU, nobody's riding on the bus I'm on," Saban said.

 The pandering went down to the last day for Mr. Hope and Change. Barack Obama continued to tell us what we wanted to hear without offering any substance.

 

"I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football," Obama said during a Monday interview. "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide a national champion."

That will resonate with Joe Six Pack, which is the point of Obama's entire campaign. Hope and change are empty terms. I'm betting Mr. H and C knows as much about college football as the average cricket player.

How are you going to select the eight teams? What about the ninth team? What about the bowls? Where are the games going to be? You might want to check with the Rose Bowl, Pac-10 and Big Ten.

A lifetime of Washington experience counts more than charisma and empty promises. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, John McCain gave us 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison, I believe we owed him at least four in the White House.

 Mystery team of the week. Unbeaten, No. 1 in total defense in a major conference, tied for 54th nationally in total defense. Answer below.

 

 Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette became the seventh player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four seasons. He joins a list that includes Tony Dorsett, Cedric Benson and Ron Dayne.

 

 More Tennessee:

 

One of the more striking aspects of Phil Fulmer's firing is the support showed by his players.

“I just feel like I just lost one of my ribs and my kidney or something,” safety Eric Berry said. “I feel like I just lost a family member. Nobody has died, but that’s what it feels like to me right now.”

"That right there wasn't very stand up of Tennessee ... He should go out on his own terms," offensive lineman Ramon Foster said.  "If you're on the other side of the fence we hope you're happy."

 Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's letter to alumni:

 

Dear friends,


This afternoon, Coach Fulmer announced he will step aside at the conclusion of the football season. I want to express my sincere gratitude for everything he has done for the University and our program.

Coach Fulmer has been, and will continue to be, a great representative of the University and the athletic department. He has dedicated a majority of his life to our program and brought home two SEC championships and a national championship. He has secured his place as the second winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. I personally appreciate everything he has done for Tennessee and look forward to him continuing to be a part of our family.

I hope that you will come and show your appreciation for Coach Fulmer at the Wyoming and Vanderbilt games as well as the Kentucky game on Nov. 29 when we celebrate “Phillip Fulmer Day” in Neyland Stadium.

We will begin a national coaching search immediately. We have a great University, world-class student-athletes, a tremendous fans base and first-class facilities. As a result, we will attract some of the nation’s best candidates. We will introduce a new coach to you over the next several weeks.

Thank you for your continued support of Tennessee football.

Sincerely,

Mike Hamilton

 

 Kentucky wishes Randall Cobbs could clone himself. In his first career start, he threw for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 win over Mississippi State. Cobbs also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.

 

He also caught a team-high three passes as a receiver and returned a few punts.

"If I were our field goal kickers, I'd be worried," offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.

 Texas Tech is your mystery team of the week.

 

 
 
 
 
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