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Tag:East Carolina
Posted on: September 28, 2008 6:09 pm
 

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

Before we proceed, today's blog is dedicated to the memory Paul Newman, one of the two coolest guys ever. He and 
Steve McQueen were the male ideal throughout their lives, professional and personal. They taught us it's not about 
having a drink or a cigar or driving a hot car or chatting up a beautiful woman. It's about doing it in style.

The great Newman passed away Friday with a body of work that will be unmatched: Hud, The Hustler, Butch Cassidy and 
the Sundance Kid, Absence of Malice, The Color of Money, just to name a few. I will make it a must that young Jack 
add Cool Hand Luke to his movie collection immediately. This is an anti-hero, Jack, showing grace, style and guts 
under pressure. Sure, it's only a story but it's an American story, an American male story.

Newman will be remembered not only as an action icon but also for his charity work, racing and making a heck of a 
salad dressing later in life. Thoughts and prayers, Joanne. Your husband is a legend.

 Gutty Little Tar Heels: Down to backup quarterbacks, down 17-7 at Miami and just plain down after blowing a 
two-touchdown lead against Virginia Tech last week, North Carolina beat the Canes 28-24. Other than that it wasn't a 
good day for the Carolinas. Wake Forest, East Carolina and Clemson all lost to unranked teams.

 Duke broke a 25-game ACC losing streak with a 31-3 victory over Virginia. Can't remember where this came from but 
the headline was perfect: Duke and North Carolina win. Is it basketball season?

 Two conferences without an undefeated team: ACC and Pac-10. Elsewhere, there are 13 undefeated teams among the six 
major conferences, five of them are in the Big 12 (Missouri, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State). Four of 
those are in one division, Big 12 South.

 Bad timing: East Carolina announced Saturday that coach Skip Holtz had received an extension through 2013 hours 
before the former BCS busters got blown out at home by Houston.

 After watching Connecticut's Donald Brown on two consecutive Fridays, it's obvious this guy is the real deal. The 
nation's leading rusher has amazing feet and cutting ability. Playing in the East in the Big East and being on 
national television several times, I can see Brown getting a Heisman invite if he keeps it up.

 If Tennessee and Clemson do make moves on their coaches, they're going to be expensive ones. It could cost 
Tennessee upwards of $6 million to get rid of Phil Fulmer, not to mention the cost of hiring a new staff. Clemson 
would have to start by scratching a check for $4 million. That's the amount of Tommy Bowden's buyout. Both coaches 
got raises/extensions in the offseason. Their teams are a combined 4-5.


 If Notre Dame keeps this up they're going to get ranked and go to a BCS bowl while Jimmy Clausen gets some Heisman 
mention, as far-fetched as that sounds. ND, 3-1, matched its 2007 victory total with a 38-21 victory over Purdue.

Clausen seems to be turning some kind of corner after completing 20 of 35 for 275 yards and three touchdowns.

"I know I'm capable of doing stuff like that," Clausen said. "It was just a matter of time and practice preparation 
to get to this point."

 Rice's Chase Clement hooked up three more times with receiver Jarrett Dillard setting an NCAA record for career 
scoring passes between teammates (41). North Texas (0-4) was the victim, 77-20.

Let the debate begin about the worst I-A team. Washington State (1-4 after a 63-14 loss to Oregon) or North Texas.


 Northwestern is 5-0 for the first time in 46 years after beating Iowa 22-17.

 Utah kicker Louie Sakoda chipped in 13 points during the Utes' 37-21 victory over Weber State becoming the 
school's all-time leading scorer. Funny, all along I thought it was Andre Miller.

 Penn State's Derrick Williams scored touchdowns rushing, catching and returning against Illinois.

 Weird play of the day: Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell threw an apparent 97-yard touchdown pass to Terrance 
Turner against Michigan State. Instead, it was called back. Indiana was called for holding in the end zone and the 
Spartans were awarded a safety.

 Did anyone else notice that Dolphin Stadium was half full, at best, for Miami's game against North Carolina? The 
announced attendance was 35,830.

 Navy beat its first ranked team in 23 years, 24-17 over Wake Forest.

 

 

 

 

Posted on: September 14, 2008 1:59 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2008 10:51 am
 

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

One last reaction from Ohio State-USC:

"I can't believe that we screwed up so badly," Ohio State offensive tackle Alex Boone told reporters. "I cannot 
believe this is second time this happened to this team. I thought this team made it clear after the national 
championship game -- all the gassers we ran, and all the running we did that we weren't going to mess up anymore. 
Apparently, that wasn't evident."

Second time?

 A lot of history has been made at Notre Dame, not a lot of it on crutches. Notre Dame is 2-0 after beating 
Michigan 35-17 and, if you believe in omens Irish fans, Charlie Weis still has another knee to tear up. Not to go ND message 
board here, but the schedule does look favorable especially if Notre Dame keeps getting six turnovers a game.

 

Sept. 20, at Michigan State; Sept. 27, Purdue; Oct. 4, Stanford. Do I smell 4-1?

 It was not a good day in the Pac-10. Washington State, Washington, UCLA, Cal, Arizona State, Stanford and Arizona lost by an 
average of 23.3 points. That includes Arizona State's overtime -- but no less humiliating -- loss to visiting UNLV 
and UCLA's mind-bending 59-0 tank job at BYU.

 

That last score has me wondering how Tennessee is feeling right now.

"A butt whoopin'. We got our butts whooped," linebacker Reggie Carter told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm going home, 
go to sleep, and tomorrow forget about it."

Easier said than done. UCLA's worst loss since 1929 was complete and had me wondering which team competed in the 
Pac-10 and which was in the Mountain West? BYU's Max Hall had seven touchdown passes in THREE QUARTERS. The 
decade-old Mountain West went 4-0 against the Pac-10 on Saturday.

 In Oklahoma's 55-14 win over Washington, Bob Stoops won his 100th game in his 122nd game as the Sooners' coach. That's the eighth-fastest to 100 in history. It's also the second-highest total for a coach in 10 seasons.

 

Barry Switzer also reached No. 100 in his 122nd game. Legend Bud Wilkinson is No. 3 on the list getting to the milestone in 111 games. Oklahoma is the only school to have four coaches with at least 100 victories -- Stoops, Switzer, Wilkinson and Bennie Owen. Stoops' teams have scored at least 50 points in 24 of his victories.

 What is it with Oregon quarterbacks and knee problems? The Ducks' season hangs in the balance after its third 
starting quarterback in 10 months went down. Justin Roper reportedly tore his left MCL against Purdue and could be 
out as long as two to four weeks. There's not a lot behind Roper. Freshman Chris Harper finished the game against 
Purdue, a 32-26 overtime victory. Bellotti says juco transfer Jeremiah Masoli and freshman Darron Thomas will also 
get looks.

 

Oregon has had enough problems lately with quarterbacks being injured. Dennis Dixon's injury derailed a possible 
national championship run. In the preseason Nate Costa suffered an ACL injury that has him out of the season.

 It almost went unnoticed that Florida State could still have to forfeit games as part of the penalties involving 
the academic scandal. If so, Joe Paterno could take a commanding lead in the all-time victories race. We're talking 
about Florida State's seven victories from 2007. The legendary coaches are tied at 375 victories apiece after Penn 
State beat Syracuse on Saturday and Florida State clobbered Chattanooga.

 

 Michigan State and Florida Atlantic combined for 20 punts and 36 incomplete passes in the Spartans' soggy 17-0 
victory. The Owls' Rusty Smith completed only eight of 34 passes.

 

 Cal became the West Coast Clemson when it failed to show up at Maryland. The Bears scored 21 fourth-quarter 
points to make it cosmetic but their 35-27 loss to the Terps was crippling. Cal was outmatched on both sides of the 
line for most of the game.

 

 Missouri has scored on its last 13 possession with Chase Daniel at quarterback (12 touchdowns, one field goal). If 
he could only stay on the field. The Tigers have boat-raced their past two opponents (Southeast Missouri State and 
Nevada) so thoroughly that Daniel has been removed in the second half of each game.

 

In that abbreviated action, Daniel has completed 40 of 46 the past two games for 663 yards and seven touchdowns. 
Against the Wolf Pack, Daniel completed 23 of 28 for 405 yards and four touchdowns.

 You knew East Carolina was due for a letdown. Patrick Pinkney threw a late touchdown pass against Tulane and the 
Pirates are 3-0 for the first time since 1999.

 

 Oklahoma State continues to amaze. The Cowboys passed only 10 times in a 57-13 victory over Missouri State. Their 
450 rushing yards were the fifth-most in school history. Okie State did this (offensively) last year but were just 
as bad on defense as they were good on offense.

 

 Looking ahead to next week, it's the SEC's world and we're only living in it: Georgia is at Arizona State, LSU 
goes to Auburn, Arkansas plays Alabama in the Ego Bowl. Oh, and apparently Florida is playing Tennessee too. That's 
three games with both teams being ranked.

 

 The best of the rest: (These teams weren't good enough to get into my top 25 but deserve mention) 1, Oklahoma 
State; 2, Vanderbilt; 3, Kentucky; 4, Nebraska; 5, TCU; 6, Notre Dame; 7, Northwestern; 8, Boise State; 9, Iowa; 10, 
Florida State; 11, Minnesota; 12, UNLV.

 

 Heisman Watch: 1, Chase Daniel, Missouri; 2, Sam Bradford, Oklahoma; 3, Max Hall, BYU.

 

 If you've got the time and the money go to The Huntley hotel in Santa Monica and take the elevator to The Penthouse. It's a Stars War bar scene of young hipsters trying to be crucially cool. The doors of the elevator opened and I immediately felt like a janitor. I can't believe places like this existed. It's a cliche of L.A. Not to drop names but someone said Jamie Foxx was there.
Posted on: September 10, 2008 12:37 am
Edited on: September 11, 2008 12:06 pm
 

National notes

Following up on Sunday's blog: How hot is Skip Holtz? So hot that if polls were released today, the East Carolina coach's program could make a heck of an argument for being No. 1. What other schools at this point have defeated two top 20 teams that won their 
conferences last season?

So hot that agents are going to start lining up hoping to be hired.

Holtz is a unique kind of "free agent". Despite having just signed a six-year extension before the season, he does 
not have a traditional agent, choosing to work closely with his boss AD Terry Holland. His buyout, only $150,000 in 
his old deal, wouldn't scare away a school trying to hire him away.

"I'm pretty much old fashioned," Holtz told me last week. "The AD hired me, we can work on a handshake. When I need 
an agent to go in there and start negotiating I've got a problem."

It's a problem he might like to have. Holtz's next job could be a lifestyle changer. Coaches have cashed in on less 
than Holtz has accomplished just this season.

"His market value is definitely on the rise," said Matt Baldwin, a senior associate in client management with IMG 
Coaches in Minneapolis. "I think he'd be a fantastic client."

IMG is the worldwide conglomerate specializing in representation and marketing. Prior to the latest extension Holtz 
was making only $4.35 million over five seasons. His new deal guarantees $1.16 million per season. The old contract 
included modest bonuses for tickets sold and for more than five conference victories per season.

Holtz's name value alone should net him some offers after the season. The problem is there don't figure to be many 
high-profile openings. Michigan, West Virginia and UCLA all have new coaches. The only sure openings seem to be 
coming at Washington and Syracuse.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is said to be interested in Washington. With the Syracuse situation deteriorating 
rapidly, AD Daryl Gross might have difficultly landing a major-program head coach to replace Greg Robinson.

If you really want to speculate how about Louis J. (Skip) Holtz Jr. at Notre Dame some day? The former Irish walk-on 
 played for his father in 1986.

 Speaking of Leach, even he thought he was crazy Saturday against Nevada going for it twice inside his own 30. The Red Raiders failed to convert each time.

 

"I thought I gambled stupid and it was just dumb," Leach said. "Being in Reno, I guess I got the bug. I was stuck in a hotel where you don't have any clocks and they were pumping oxygen in there. I thought it was my lucky day."

 Beanie Wells is playing Saturday in The Cage Match In The Coliseum. What did you expect? You know my feelings.

 Washington's Ty Willingham seemingly changed his stance since Saturday when he supported the official who threw 
that horrid excessive celebration against his team:

"I think we all know that it was not the right call. There are rules written for them to use discretion, and in this 
case we didn't do that. Proper judgment was not used. That was not an act of a young man taunting, not an 
unsportsmanlike act at all, and therefore it should have been viewed in its totality and not just isolated as to the 
letter of the law."

Reaction around the country varied widely ...

Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt: "At the staff meeting this morning we talked about that. I'm going to show our team 
that clip and reiterate what the rules are. My initial reaction was shock. I had to see it again to see what the 
penalty was. But when you read the rule book...the official had the right to throw the flag. Did I think it was 
right? I didn't think there was any taunting going on. I know what the rule is. The official made the call that way 
but there's a gray area that needs to be talked about.

Connecticut's Randy Edsall: "I don't know why everybody got upset. It's a rule. It's simply stated in the rulebook. 
If you score, hand the ball to the nearest official. I don't know why everybody is getting upset with the officials. 
The official had no other option but to throw the flag. If he doesn't then he has a problem. The guy was doing his 
job. The kid was wrong, didn't mean it intentionally but that's part of the rule."

 Sebastian the Ibis wasn't the only one with ruffled feathers after Florida kicked that late field goal against 
Miami on Saturday night. The Gators led 23-3 with less than a minute left when Urban Meyer called for a 29-yard field goal to make the 
final score 26-3. It seemed inconsequential at the time. But it was clear after the game that the Canes were upset 
that Florida was trying to run up the score.

Coach Randy Shannon issued a terse "no comment" when asked about it. Offensive lineman Jason Fox said "If I did 
(comment), I'd probably get in trouble."

Shannon later said: "Sometimes when you do things and people see what kind of person you really are, you turn a lot of people off.

A person in the office had an interesting thought -- that it was done intentionally to cover the spread, which was 21 
1/2 points. I won't go that far. To me, it was more of a reminder that Florida is Miami's, er, witch and will stay 
that way for some time. Miami had beaten Florida six consecutive times dating back to 1985.

These things always get blown out of proportion when a rivalry is involved. It is ironic, though, that Florida coach 
Urban Meyer famously stated in his book that Georgia's bum rush of the field in Jacksonville was "a bad deal."

" ... It will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team ... We'll handle it."

 Parity? What parity? The three power conferences -- Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC -- went a combined 30-1 over the weekend. The only slacker was Ole Miss which lost to Wake Forest on a late field goal.

The Big 12 enjoyed it first 12-0 week with the WAC On Steroids continuing its offensive assault. Oklahoma State became the first team in conference history to have a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in one game (a 56-37 victory over Houston). That has been only four times in history.

The rusher was Kendall Hunter (210 yards), the receiver Dez Bryant (236 yards), the passer Zac Robinson (320 yards). The Cowboys seemingly haven't missed offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, now the head coach at South Miss. The Cowboys were eighth nationally last season in total offense averaging more than 200 yards each in rushing and passing. This year's group is 12th, once again averaging 200-200.

 In that 12-0 sweep, the Big 12 scored 71 touchdowns, 33 passing, 27 rushing and 11 on defense or special teams. The touchdown passes averaged 25 yards, the scoring runs averaged 11 yards.

 

Big 12 quarterbacks had a great "season" completing 250 of 365 for 3,475 yards and 39 touchdowns (only eight interceptions).

 The thinnest position at Utah is now thinner. Kyle Whittingham has lost starting defensive tackles at the same 
position -- with the same injury! -- in consecutive weeks. Kenape Eliapo broke his foot in the opener against 
Michigan (out six-to-eight weeks). Lei Talamaivao replaced Eliapo and broke HIS foot Saturday against UNLV.

 Nebraska linebacker Barry Turner's season is over after suffering a broken leg against San Jose State. That 
reminds us of his quote from the preseason on how much he loves playing at Nebraska.

"Once we lose a game shops close, people are sad, divorces go up. There's no other place I'd want to play."

 West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said there is a future after Saturday's loss to East Carolina: "Jesus, Mary and 
Joseph, yes. It's only the second game of the season."

 Through two games Texas Tech has seven rushing touchdowns and only two passing. In the prior two seasons, Tech has 
scored 90 passing touchdowns and 31 rushing.

 The most brutal loss last week? I can't even begin to describe it. Read on.


Posted on: September 3, 2008 2:27 pm
 

National notes

It's early but the NCAA rules committee has seemingly gotten it right with the new timing rules.

Through the first weekend, teams are averaging 68.6 plays per game, down only 3.3375 plays per team from last season (6.6675 total per game). That's tolerable because the loss of plays is minimal and, despite that, scoring is up. 
Again, it's early but teams are averaging 30.84 points per game. If it holds up that would break last season's record of 
28.38 points per team.

The big difference is in length of game. So far games have lasted only 3 hours, 8 minutes on average. That's down 
from 3:22 last season. I've taken my shots at the rules committee in the past as being too meddling. So far its 
"fixes" have worked.  After covering two games I haven't noticed the quality or the pace of the game being disturbed.

 Everyone seems to be bashing the ACC, but what about the Big East? It went 4-4 in the opening weekend, including 
embarrassing losses by Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Louisville and Syracuse. Yes, Louisville and Syracuse. The Cardinals 
losing to Kentucky is no surprise but being run out of its own building is disgraceful. A lot of us thought the 
Orange would show better against Northwestern but Syracuse lost by 20.

 

Quoting comedian Jay Mohr: "Is that a football conference or France?"

Six of the seven teams in action this week are favored (Tennessee Tech-Louisville is off the board but we're still 
assuming the Cardinals as a favorite):

Upset alerts: Watch for West Virginia (-8) going to East Carolina and Pittsburgh (-13) at home against Buffalo. 

Also watch for Cincinnati (+21 1/2) traveling to Oklahoma. Bearcats coach Brian Kelly says this game is a measuring stick for the Big East 
season. Don't be surprised if the Bearcats play this one a lot closer than anticipated.

 This might be the mantra for the season: "The little guys are tired of being the little guys and the big guys are 
getting a little fat." That's Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater to The Sporting News after beating Rutgers. 
Not sure if Rutgers qualifies yet was one of the big guys getting fat but the quote works for me.

 

 That was Fresno's 13th victory since 2001 over a BCS conference school.

 

 Iowa State used 11 true freshmen in its season-opening win against South Dakota State. Not a big deal until you 
consider that the 11 accounted for 26 of the Cyclones' 44 points.

 


Posted on: August 31, 2008 5:39 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2008 8:53 pm
 

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

As long as I'm piling on the ACC couldn't resist this one ...

Well, it's not an ACC error per se but why not kick a mediocre league while it's down. It seems that Duke officials 
were shocked when parachutists descended into Wallace Wade Stadium with the game ball about an hour before Saturday's 
James Madison game. One problem. Duke hadn't ordered a game ball. However, North Carolina, eight miles away, did.

 Will we look back on this as the football equivalent of The Beatles playing the Cavern Club? In other words, the 
modest beginning for a monster talent? Terrelle Pryor looked more than capable in his career debut against 
Youngstown State, 35 yards passing, 52 yards rushing and a touchdown.

 

For up-to-the-minute updates go to Pryor's 24-hour webcam. You've got to see the archived stuff of him having the 
Caesar salad for lunch on Friday. Classic.

 Appalachian State won! The third quarter, 7-3 over LSU.

 

 Nothing like patience. This from a Detroit columnist: "(Michigan quarterback) Steven Threet needs to start based on his performance 
(against Utah)." After watching that mess in The Big House does it matter?

 

 Hawaii AD Jim Donovan is a smart, smart man. There are no more SEC teams on the Warriors schedule for the 
foreseeable future. The last two outings against the SEC have resulted in combined losses of 97-20 to Georgia and 
Florida.

 

 If you want to put a new name atop the hot seat list, feel free to add San Diego State's Chuck Long. We did get 
our designated I-AA upset late Saturday although it wasn't the earth shaker you might think. Cal Poly beat the Aztecs 
for the second time in three seasons. This time it was 29-27. A San Diego columnist the program "reached the bottom of its existence."

 

 Big 12 starting quarterbacks threw a combined 20 touchdown passes on Saturday. That's an average of 2.2 per man without two of the  nine starters throwing for a score. The breakdown:  Kansas' Todd Reesing (three), Missouri's Chase Daniel (three), Nebraska's Joe Ganz (four), Kansas State's Josh Freeman  (three), Texas' Colt McCoy (three), Texas' A&M Stephen McGee (none), Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (two), Oklahoma State's Zac  Robinson (none) and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (two).

 


 Five years ago to the day Dennis Franchione started his Texas A&M career with a 26-11 victory over Arkansas State. 
Franchione's replacement, Mike Sherman,wasn't so fortunate losing to the Red Wolves 18-14 in his first game as 
Aggies' coach. The usually staid Associated Press called it "one of the most embarrassing losses in A&M history."  


 Nebraska recovered a fumble against Western Michigan. That brings the Huskers to one-third of their total for all 
of 2007.


 Pittsburgh is now 5-13 since starting 6-1 in 2006. 

 How important are those Virginia Tech special teams? Huge. The Hokies had won 17 consecutive games when blocking a 
kick. Ironically, East Carolina's T.J. Lee blocked a punt and scored the game-winning touchdown in a 27-22 Pirates' 
victory. East Carolina became the only team below the BCS level that beat a top 20 team. The other teams 
with a win over top 20 wins on Saturday were Missouri and Alabama.

 

The Pirates became the first Conference USA team to beat back-to-back ranked teams. They had defeated Boise State in 
last year's Hawaii Bowl. That says more about Conference USA than it does East Carolina. Conference USA is 13 years 
old.

 Injury watch: Georgia's monster defensive tackle Jeff Owens is out for the season with a knee. How many more injuries can UGA stand?...There are varying reports about the severity of Jeremy Maclin's injury late Saturday. Missouri's all-purpose 
king apparently twisted an ankle (X-rays were negative).

 

 Novenas are being said in Columbus for tailback Beanie Wells. Ohio State's tailback has some sort of right foot 
problem. Again, X-rays were negative. Even if he is 100 percent look for Jim Tressel to seriously limiting Wells' 
playing time this week against Ohio. The Bucks need him healthy for USC in two weeks. We should know something on Monday.

 

 Most impressive on opening weekend? It had to be USC which slapped around Virginia. Pete Carroll looked like he 
was sandbagging us during the preseason. Three weeks after dislocating his knee, quarterback Mark Sanchez looks 
ready and able to become the new Leinart after throwing for a career-high 338 yards.

 

"Everything happened just right," Carroll said. "Too bad we let them score."


 If you're looking ahead to Tennessee-UCLA on Monday night consider UCLA's Kevin Craft. The juco transfer 
quarterback faces some uphill odds. The last juco transfer qb to lead a team to a Pac-10 title was USC's Tim Green in 
1984.

 Hurricane Gustav's impact is being felt all the way to Alabama. Tulane has already gone threat ahead of the storm 
in preparations for this week's game at Alabama. Troy goes over to LSU in a game that could be a prime candidate for 
cancellation. The Category 3 storm is expected to hit Louisiana on Monday.

 

 OK, so there is no Terrelle Pryor 24-hour webcam but if you got down this far believing it, gotcha!

 


Posted on: August 6, 2008 10:38 pm
 

Five things you should know about Conference USA

Five things you should know about Conference USA

1. Central Florida's off-field problems: What happened to coach George O'Leary and the defending Conference USA champs shouldn't be wished on anyone. The fallout from the tragic death of player Ereck Plancher is just beginning. 

There has been criticism from outside the program. O'Leary refused to talk to an Orlando Sentinel reporter at the conference media days. Plancher's family has said it will file a wrongful death suit.

How will any of this impact the Knights? It remains to be seen but Central Florida is favored by many to win the East Division again.

2. New coaches: The league got a boost in name recognition when Southern Miss hired Larry Fedora, Houston got Oklahoma's Kevin Sumlin and SMU was lucky enough to sign June Jones. Combine those talents with Mike Price (UTEP),  Bob Toledo (Tulane), Skip Holtz (East Carolina) and O'Leary and you've got a Library of Congress full of football knowledge.

3. It's possible to make Warriors out of the Ponies: SMU didn't hire Jones for his blitz schemes. The Mustangs haven't been to a bowl since the rocks cooled but the hiring of the former Hawaii coach is meant to at least get people excited about the program again. Balls will be flying. We'll see if SMU takes off.


4. There is a dark horse Orange Bowl candidate: In this age of offense-first, why not Tulsa? Crazy-go-nuts coach Todd Graham is one of the leading purveyors of the spread option. He needs to find a replacement for quarterback Paul Smith but the schedule sets up for the Golden Hurricane to possible go 11-1.


5. There is hope for everyone: There have been seven Conference USA champions in the last six seasons. How is that possible? TCU and Cincinnati shared the 2002 crown followed by Southern Miss (2003), Louisville (2004), Tulsa (2005), Houston (2006) and Central Florida (2007).

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: May 29, 2008 3:12 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2008 3:24 pm
 

Speed Inc.

Notes on the speed series that concluded on Thursday:

Mike Golden knows speed. However, you probably don't know Mike Golden. He is East Carolina's strength coach which in the college football world doesn't open many doors.

Golden quietly tutored one of the fastest players in the country the past three years. Chris Johnson led the country in all-purpose yardage last season, including a bowl record 408 yards in the Hawaii Bowl. Johnson was taken last month in the first round of the NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans.

"When we first got here, it was his sophomore year and he ran a 4.33 and (vertical jumped) 38 inches," Golden said. "When we got him he was down to 4.24 and jumped 43 1/2 inches."

Golden is not the only "speed" guy across the nation. Miami set the standard with speed coach Andrew Swayze. Ohio State has been using former Olympic sprinter Butch Reynolds. Every time you hear the designation "speed coach" it raises the age old question: Is it possible to teach speed. Swayze has helped develop a load of first-round draft choices. Reynolds says it's a combination of speed plus balance. Ohio State has been criticized for being slow when it comes to BCS title games.

Two things: Ohio State was good enough to get to the BCS title game and it hurts when your fastest player goes down. The Bucks lost Ted Ginn Jr. early in the 2007 BCS title game against Florida. It was downhill from there.

"A lot of people miss the fact that you've got to be strong to be fast," Golden said. "All they're worried about is stride length and stride frequency. We teach them how to run. We have a speed school. We show them from ground zero."

Golden says he "scours different things" -- DVDs, journals, articles -- for speed technique.

"I'm a good thief," he said.

Pirates coach Skip Holtz first hired Golden in 1998 at Connecticut, and then hired him away from South Carolina after coming to East Carolina in December 2004. While it's hard to quantify the results of speed, there is a basic indicator: Holtz' record the past two seasons (15-11) is the best for East Carolina since 1999-2000.

"Our first year and a half here we couldn't work on speed because we weren't strong enough," he said. "We would have blown hamstrings all over the place."

 Now he's crediting some of that speed training for the Pirates' Hawaii Bowl win over Boise State.

"When we went to that first bowl game (in 2006) we fell flat on our face," Golden said of a 24-7 loss to South Florida in the Papajohns.com Bowl. "It took us 18 hours to get to Hawaii, then we ran their guts off. We let them know we're on a business trip. That got their attention real quick. They thought we were going right to the hotel."

There are times Golden can determine in warm-ups if an opponent does speed work.

"I can tell how guys bend how fluid guys move," he said. "It's definitely an edge. Our kids will come to the sideline and say, 'These guys can't run.'

No one player will take Johnson's place this season. Junior running back J.R. Rogers will be part of a committee. He is the fastest Pirate at 4.32. Defensive end C.J. Wilson (6-foot-4, 271) ran a 4.55 at the program's recent NFL timing day. That would have been one of the fastest times at February's NFL combine.

  We only included 20 players on the fastest list on Tuesday. Here are a few others to consider (alphabetical):

Cam Baker, WR, Memphis, 4.35 40

Tim Brown, WR, Rutgers, 4.25

Rashard Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech, 4.38

Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia, 4.30

Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pittsburgh, 4.38

Brandon Dillard, WR, Virginia Tech, 4.28

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland, 4.23

Correy Earls, WR, Georgia Tech, 4.36

Patrick George, CB, Northern Illinois, 10.4 100 (high school)

Dante Lamar, DB, Memphis, 4.35

Emani Lee-Odai, WR, Maryland, 4.29

Scott Long, WR, Louisville, 4.24

Wopamo Osaisai, CB, Stanford, 10.39 100

Jock Sanders, WR, West Virginia, 4.33

Carlos Singleton, WR, Memphis, 4.37

Woodney Turenne, CB, Louisville, 4.33

Pat White, QB, West Virginia, 4.45

 

 
 
 
 
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