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Tag:UCLA
Posted on: October 1, 2010 12:18 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

The Pistol formation is sweeping the country, if you consider sweeping a list of about 10 schools. The variation on the shotgun was invented by veteran Nevada coach Chris Ault in 2005. It features a quarterback four yards behind center and a running back three yards behind him.

The advantage for the offense is more downhill running than in a zone read where the running back frequently is running parallel to the line. Because the backfield is essentially in an I-formation it's harder for defenses to target their blitzes. Alabama, Arkansas, Boise State, Duke, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and UCLA are using it in varying degrees this season.

Nevada (at UNLV) is 4-0 for the first time since 1992 and ranked in the AP poll for the first time since 1948.

Boise State (at New Mexico State) is chasing a national championship.

UCLA (vs. Washington State) switched to it to jump start its offense this season. The Pistol produced 264 rushing yards last week against Texas.

Alabama, Boise, Indiana (vs. Michigan) and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are undefeated.

"Most great ideas are born out of necessity," UCLA's Rick Neuheisel said. "We needed to run the football better. Looking at the equipment we had, it just wasn't working. We had to accept that. We were very fortunate to have been given some great advice from the University of Nevada coaching staff. We kind of poured ourselves into it. It was a little bit of a leap of faith." ...

NC State (hosting Virginia Tech)  is ranked for the first time in seven years ... In a game that might go a long way toward deciding the ACC's best quarterback (non-Russell Wilson division), Miami's Jacory Harris plays at Clemson against Kyle Parker. Each of the last three games between the teams have gone into overtime ... Former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis goes against the Vols for the first time when Tennessee visits LSU ... The problem at LSU is offense, specifically Jordan Jefferson's passing. Jefferson has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has completed less than half his passes to go with three interceptions ... A.J. Green returns for Georgia in its game at Colorado. The losing coach should check the temperature of his chair. Mark Richt and Dan Hawkins, are all but on notice about their job security ...  Florida Wildcat sensation Trey Burton is the grandson of Lawrence Burton who finished fourth in the 100 meters at the '72 Olympics, was a first-round pick of the Saints and played receiver at Purdue ...

Not surprisingly, the Big Ten and the SEC combined have almost half the teams in the top 25 (six each). You can see what this is coming down to: The Big Ten and/or SEC champion vs. Boise State in the polls/BCS/public discussion ... Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh on playing at Oregon:  "Just thinking about it, we're going to be ready to walk out of that tunnel, 80,000 screaming Duck fans. We'll have our team huddled around us beneath that stadium. It doesn’t get any better than that. I'm getting excited thinking about it." Sounds lyrical except that Autzen Stadium seats only 54,000 ... Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker will miss his fourth consecutive game because of what are reportedly complications from diabetes ...  The Sun Belt player of the year so far is Troy's Jernell Jernigan. The sophomore receiver is second nationally in all-purpose yards (208 per game). In addition to averaging almost 100 yards in receptions per game, Jernigan returns kicks and punts and lines up in the Wildcat. Troy is No. 14 in total offense and plays perhaps the Sun Belt game of the year Tuesday at Middle Tennessee ... Central Florida's George O'Leary (Wednesday vs. Alabama-Birmingham) is 1-19 against BCS teams. That's the same record as the man he replaced in 2004, Mike Kruczek. That's according to research done by CBSSports.com's Matt Brodsky.

Posted on: September 26, 2010 1:54 pm
 

The Day After in college football

As the month of September closes, Texas is out of it, Boise State is in it and Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame with a defense so suspect it ought to be arraigned.

Surprises? Shoelaces and Michigan. Oregon and its offensive napalming. Jim Harbaugh and his piling on.  Georgia slumping, Auburn soaring. "Little Giants" and one big giant -- Alabama remains No. 1 and looks like it isn't going to nudged from that spot for a while ...

**Just in time for Alabama, Florida may have found a) itself and b) a reasonable facsimile of Tim Tebow.

Celebrated freshman Trey Burton scored six times (five rushing, one passing) against Kentucky in a 48-14 win. Burton lined up mostly in the Wildcat, spurring memories of Tebow during his freshman year. The freshman had changed his number from 13 to 8. That at least gave him the mojo to go for the joy of six. Rex Grossman and Percy Harvin also wore the number. It also gives Alabama something to think about this week when the Gators come to Tuscaloosa.

More good news for the Gators: Florida is 21-4 against coaches with a national championship on their resume since Urban Meyer arrived.

**Way to wreck a Red River party: In its last two meetings to Austin, UCLA has outscored Texas 100-15 including Saturday's 34-12 decision. It was the infamous "Rout 66" in 1997 (UCLA 66, Texas 3) that paved the way for Mack Brown to come to Austin. Between the two UCLA visits to Texas, the Longhorns have been to (and won) two Rose Bowls. UCLA has been to one. Texas, of course, leads UCLA in national championships 1-0 during that time.

"I don't feel right now that we're very good at anything," Brown said after the game.

It may not get better anytime soon. Texas next two games are against Oklahoma and at Nebraska. The loss likely drops Texas out of the national championship race before the calendar turns to October. If OU wins next week, the Big 12's national championship hopes may be up to Big Ten deserter Nebraska.

**The Big Ten's lost weekend produced some predictable results -- blowouts and embarrassments. Wisconsin (over Austin Peay) and Ohio State (over Eastern Michigan) each scored 70. Purdue (to Toledo) and Minnesota (to Northern Illinois) both lost to MAC teams. Add it up and the Big Ten went 8-2 against a compilation of eight MAC teams and two I-AAs. Shameful schedule.

**Don't blame Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. After getting 21 tackles against Stanford, the Irish linebacker leads the country with a staggering 13.5 per game. ND is back, though, where it has been for the last few years in total defense -- 103rd. Only two BCS-level teams are worse, Oregon State and Wake Forest.

The No. 2 tackler is Hawaii's Corey Paredes, meaning the nation's top two tacklers are from Oahu

**Don't care if Terrelle Pryor if got six touchdowns against air (aka Eastern Michigan), he moved to the top of my Heisman list this week: 1, Pryor (four passing, one rushing, one TD reception); 2, Kellen Moore; 3, Mark Ingram; 4, Andrew Luck; 5, Denard Robinson.

Posted on: September 22, 2010 12:05 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 12:09 pm
 

National notes

Heart attacks can happen to anyone. Young, old. Physically fit, physically decrepit. That's why our thoughts and prayers should rightfully go to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.

But the idea that coaches face any more stress than the rest of us is laughable. If anything, coaches should be healthier than the general public. They control their hours. They are around trainers, doctors and elite athletes all day. There is a weight room right around the corner. Sure Dick Vermeil coined the term "burn out" but most of us don’t' have the luxury of quitting our jobs, doing TV for 16 years and getting into wine collecting.

Take a moment and think about the poor slob, trying to make the mortgage and putting two kids through college. He's burned out every day.  He doesn't get a trip to Hawaii from Nike in the offseason. Heck, he doesn't have an offseason. So let's not go nuts here. There are some coaches, Steve Spurrier and Bob Stoops among them, who don't believe that more is better.

Dantonio's heart attack spurred a rash of cliché coaches-need-to-take-care-of-themse
lves stories this week. Thankfully, in general, most coaches responded the same way as Michigan's Rich Rodriguez.

"There are a lot of stressful jobs out there," he said.

**On June 11, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and AD Tom Osborne stood before the Nebraska board of regents and ranted.

"One school leaving a conference does not break up a conference. Two schools leaving a conference does not break up a conference," Osborne said. "Six schools leaving a conference, breaks up a conference. We have not had a hidden agenda, we have not dealt with more than one conference."

They were talking about Texas. It was half theater (the board voted unanimously for Nebraska to join the Big Ten) and half political. In that same meeting, Perlman added that his school didn't owe the Big 12 a dime for leaving the conference. Remember, this was in the middle of the Pac-10's failed raid on half of the Big 12.

From a legal standpoint, Nebraska wanted to position itself as having been pushed out of the Big 12 because of the wandering eyes of Texas and the five other schools pursued by the Pac-10. Colorado and Nebraska left the Big 12 on consecutive days. The next order of business was determining how much each school owed the Big 12 for departing. League bylaws state that a school that gives only one year's notice, it must sacrifice 80 percent of its conference revenue share.

Perlman knew there would probably come a day when his school would negotiate some sort of exit fee. When it did, Perlman wanted to save as much money as possible. He was already on record as saying his team was forced out.  Nebraska no doubt would have cited Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's assertion, on the day Nebraska left for the Big Ten, that the Big 12 would be better off with 10 teams. The Big 12's case would have been bolstered by a report that Nebraska had been sending feelers to the Big Ten since January. 

Faced with the prospect of a protracted court battle, what happened Tuesday was a mutually negotiated divorce. A mediator was brought in work with Colorado, Nebraska and the Big 12 over a two-day period, according to the Boulder (Colo.) Camera. As late as Saturday Colorado apparently still hadn't taken advantage of a standing Pac-10 offer to "finance" the Big 12 buyout by withholding future Pac-10 revenues. The Pac-10 had offered up to a $10 million loan to help CU with the exit fees, the Camera reported.

The Big 12 settled for only half of the money owed it when Nebraska agreed to pay the league $9.2 million. Colorado paid less, only $6.9 million, because it had said all along it was joining the Pac-10 in 2012. Plus, its revenue take in the Big 12 was less than Nebraska's.

Remember this when you next read about buyout clauses and exit fees. They mean little. They are meant to compensate current members, not keep schools in a league. If a school really wants to leave, it will leave. Everything can be negotiated. If it isn't, there's always court.

**The news last week that Penn State is adding hockey had an interesting Notre Dame twist.

With Penn State there are now six Big Ten teams that sponsor men's hockey, the NCAA minimum. Commissioner Jim Delany has been enthusiastic about forming a Big Ten hockey league. The other five Big Ten hockey members compete in NCAA power conferences -- Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State in the CCHA; Wisconsin and Minnesota in the WCHA.

Notre Dame also competes in the CCHA. The hockey Irish might have no choice but to join the Big Ten in hockey if Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State decide to leave the CCHA. In essence, it would be the hockey version of the recent college football realignment. Would Notre Dame playing Big Ten hockey be part of a larger move for all of the Irish's sports? The school already plays in three other leagues (Big East, CCHA and Midwest Fencing Conference) for its other  sports.

**How underachieving has Florida's offense been to this point? Mississippi State, which threw five interceptions against LSU, is ranked significantly higher (No. 70) than the Gators (92nd) in total offense. Only five other BCS conference schools average fewer yards than Florida -- UCLA, Kansas, Vanderbilt, Oregon State and Maryland.  That's after the Gators have played Miami (Ohio), South Florida and Tennessee.

**So much for losing nine defensive starters. Alabama is back in the top 10 (ninth) in total defense.

Posted on: September 16, 2010 6:51 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 6:51 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

The overflow companion piece to Friday's Weekend Watch List

Boise State has more than twice as many points in the AP poll (1,306) than the Big East and ACC combined (627) ... Arkansas has not been 3-0 since 2003 ... Speaking of which, Ryan Mallett has some monster numbers (73 percent completion rate, six touchdowns) but has yet to face a I-A opponent ...

Duke's David Cutcliffe
is a Bama grad and worked as a grad assistant for Bear Bryant. As a head coach at Ole Miss he has beaten Alabama twice. In his wallet, Cut carries a ticket stub from Nov. 28, 1981, the day Bryant became the then all-time winningest coach with his 315th victory. Cutcliffe's first game as a student assistant came 28 years ago. Alabama beat Duke ... Minus 13 those starters in the opener, North Carolina leads the nation in passing after two weeks (412 yards vs. LSU) ... Baylor is one of three teams that has not allowed a touchdown this season. (Alabama and Arizona are the others) The last time the Bears did not allow a TD in their first two games was 1960 ... Kansas State's Carson Coffman leads the Big 12 in pass efficiency. Dad Paul was an 11-year NFL veteran. Younger brother Cameron, also a quarterback, is a big-time recruit at Raymore-Peculiar (Mo.) High. Sister Camille is a freshman volleyball player at Wyoming. Another brother, Chase, was a standout tight end at Missouri ... Nebraska quarterback sensation Taylor Martinez has back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. The last time a Husker quarterback did that was 2003 ... 

Miami
returned a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same game last week for the first time in the same game (last week vs. Ohio State). According to Miami sports information no team in the last 15 years has scored on a kickoff and punt return as well as a 50-yard-plus field goal in the same game ... There are as many underclassmen quarterbacks (freshmen and sophomores) in the top 13 in rushing as there are senior running backs (three each) ... Lost in the flurry of I-AA upsets was Liberty. The Flames beat Ball State last week 27-23. That was Liberty's second win over a I-A school in its history, its first in 21 years. The Flames are ranked 14th in I-AA. Each one of the other I-AA teams to beat I-As this season are also ranked ... Not surprisingly, UCLA leads the Pac-10 with seven turnovers. Only New Mexico has more (eight) ... San Diego State (at Missouri) has finished 105th or lower in rushing each of the last three seasons. It is currently 21st. The Aztecs' eight rushing touchdowns matches their 2009 total. San Diego State is 2-0 for the first time since 1994. 
Posted on: September 12, 2010 11:38 am
 

The Day After in CFB

The day the ACC died: OK, maybe too harsh but it was certainly one of the worst days in ACC football since expansion.  All four ranked teams lost -- No.  12 Miami (to No. 2 Ohio State); No. 13 Virginia Tech (to James Madison); No. 15 Georgia Tech (to Kansas) and No. 17 Florida State (to No. 10 Oklahoma). The rest of the league (unranked teams) was 4-1. Overall, the ACC was 4-5.

It could get worse next week: Cincinnati plays at NC State on Thursday. On Saturday, Clemson is at Auburn, Duke hosts Alabama, BYU comes to Florida State, Maryland is at West Virginia and East Carolina goes to Virginia Tech.

Get your No. 16 jersey, while they last: If Denard Robinson isn't hot enough, check out what may be a bit of foreshadowing from the Michigan Daily.
 

YouTube sensations: The two most jaw-dropping plays of the day. Kyle Rudolph's catch and run vs. Michigan and LaMichael James' incredible run against Tennessee.

Rockin' the mic: Following an embarrassing 35-0 home-opening loss to Stanford, UCLA's Rick Neuheisel grabbed a microphone and addressed the Rose Bowl crowd. "We'll get better," he said, "We can't get any worse that we were tonight ... I promise you, we will not give up. We'll be back."

It suddenly seems like a long time since Neuheisel led a pep rally after his first game. It's been only two years.

Miami fans never cease to amaze: While there only seemed to be 3,000-5,000 in the stands at Ohio Stadium, they made themselves known. The kid at the Columbus airport was interesting. Cut into the back of his head by an enterprising barber: "U Swag"

Posted on: September 9, 2010 5:29 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2010 9:37 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

(Overflow from Friday's Weekend Watch List)

How arrogant is LeBron James? You may have heard he is thinking about attending the Miami-Ohio State. Heaven help him if the Miami Heat star watches Miami win. It's 105,000-1. No matter what Jim Tressel says, there will be a much of hacked off Bucknuts ... San Jose State goes to Wisconsin with the distinction of having played more ranked non-conference opponents in the first two weeks of the season (two, counting Alabama) than the Badgers have in the last eight years (one). The Spartans are playing back-to-back home games in the Central Time Zone for the first time since 1999 ... Oklahoma has a nation-best 31-game home winning streak ... Texas A&M ran 99 plays against Stephen F. Austin, the most in the nation last week ... The Big 12 is back to being a running league. For a week. Three backs went over 200 yards last week for the first time since 1998 ... In Rick Neuheisel's 26 games at UCLA (hosting Stanford), he has beaten two with winning records at the end of the season -- Tennessee in first season and Temple in last year's EagleBank Bowl ... Part of an explanation, sort of, for the poor showing against Miami (Ohio).  Florida played 15 true freshman last week. That was the most of any team in the country ... The Boise State-Virginia Tech game was the most-viewed regular-season game in ESPN history (7.2 million viewers).

Posted on: July 29, 2010 11:16 pm
 

Five things about the Pac-10

The latest from my preseason media day tour...

USC’s long road back. How long will it take? How painful will it be? USC is just beginning what promises to be one of the darkest periods in its history. It might get through the crippling NCAA penalties in as few as five years. We’re talking 2015 being the first year to be able to have enough talent to compete for a Pac-10 title again. But it won’t be easy. Oklahoma suffered similar penalties and was dead for 10 years. It took Alabama eight years to win a national championship after similar penalties in 2002. Watching Lane and the boys negotiate the loss of 30 scholarships and two postseasons will be the key thing. I’m sure Kiffin has a plan – he always does – but the program has to bottom out first. The embarrassment isn’t over in regards to Bush’s Heisman and the 2004 title. Both might still be taken away. After that, the 2010 Trojans could win the league have to watch the Rose Bowl on TV. It was one of the best dynasties in the history of college football and now it’s gone. For how long, we don’t know.

The winner. Oregon might have been the favorite to defend its title until Jeremiah Masoli got stupid. USC might have been the favorite until Reggie Bush was stupid. What about Arizona, a program that has never been to the Rose Bowl? It has five of the nine conference games at home, including USC, Washington and Cal. Mike Stoops has to break through at some point. After consecutive eight-win seasons, it might be time for the Wildcats to break through.

East Coast bias. Don’t blame the media this time. There was an East Coast bias on the part of the players. This is back to being the year of the quarterback in the league. The Pac-10 took its top four quarterbacks to New York for an unprecedented media day on the East Coast – Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, Matt Barkley and Nic Foles. However, only Barkley and Foles made it to L.A. for the traditional Pac-10 media day. I don’t want to hear any griping from Stanford and Washington about national honors for their quarterbacks at the end of the season. Guys, you’ve got to take care of your local media first.

Divisional alignment. It seems to be a conversation piece around here as the league decides how to divide into two six-team divisions in 2011. There is the “zipper” alignment. Example: travel partners Oregon-Oregon State, Cal-Stanford ,USC-UCLA, Arizona-Arizona State and Washington-Washington State are split into separate divisions. There is my North-South alignment: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford vs. Colorado, Utah, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State. Whatever the plan, everyone wants to play in L.A. because of recruiting. And with USC on probation, there are going to be plenty of players available in Southern California.

Hot seat. Paul Wulff at Washington State and Dennis Erickson at Arizona State. It's almost a hopeless case at Wazoo. Erickson has to win seven just to go to a bowl. ASU is playing two I-AAs. The wolves will be out if there is not significant improvement at each school.

Posted on: July 29, 2010 10:59 pm
 

A strange, fun look at Pac-10 media day

PASADENA, Calif. -- It was probably the first media day with complimentary sun screen, misting tents and towels. Don't forget the towels. They kept the sweat off the bald domes in the Pac-10 media crowd.

"You look like Al Davis carrying around those towels," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.

That hurt. Bad. I may be balding but I'm not that pathetic and wrinkled.

Am I?

If so, please don't let me near Lane Kiffin. He might freak.

Thursday was the West Coast version of the Pac-10 East Coast media swing. Coaches and players spent a few days this week making the rounds in New York, then rode G4s back to their ancestral homeland here in Cali.

"People knew who we were," Arizona State's Dennis Erickson said of New York.

That's startling considering the conference is generally ignored in the East. Some Pac-10 games start at 10 p.m. ET.  It's also another backhand winner down the line for commissioner Larry Scott. There was a lot of angst this summer over whether the Big Ten could get into the New York market  with expansion. Scott chartered a couple of planes and cabbed it into Times Square from the airport.

Bingo, Pac-10 on Park Avenue, ringing the ball on Wall Street, going through the "carwash" at ESPN and generally introducing itself to the biggest media market.

"We've been that Left Coast conference, kind of perceived as the finesse conference," UCLA's Rick Neuheisel said. "If I got into a conversation with somebody east of the Mississippi, they'd say, 'You play that throw-it-around ball.' It was a bold move. I'm not sure how it will work out but I think it is brilliant.


"We have a perception hill to climb. That's why I applaud commissioner Scott for taking the ball step to do that. I don't think any of us should rest until we're considered the top conference in the country."

 

Well, minus two of the biggest names in Pac-10 football on Thursday. Stanford's Andrew Luck and Washington's Jake Locker didn't show. Apparently they were good enough for ESPN but not for the media who actually cover them here out West.

There's my rant. It beat sitting in conference rooms with the thermostat set at 55 degrees listening to pimp references. I was impressed. No stunned. The media day was on the floor of the Rose Bowl. The San Gabriels were shining in the background. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. Think of it, this is the field where Reggie Bush played. He was well compensated but he did play here.

 

There was a short promotional film to kick things off. The narrator, with one of those Captain Big Boy voices, said, "Here, on the western edge of the New World ..." I expected a ship full of Spanish conquistadors to pull up in San Pedro and start pillaging cruise passengers.


Best line of the day came from Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. As a former USC coach, he was hurt by the NCAA penalties. I asked him if Reggie Bush can ever come back to campus.

"In this day and age he can," Sark said. "Our president [Bill Clinton] faced the country. Guys face the music. Look at Andy Pettitte and look at Roger Clemens. One guy owned up, he's still getting standing ovations. The other guy is social outcast. It's how he embraces it."

California sun, veggie subs and a Slick Willie reference. It was not a bad day.

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