Tag:Central Florida
Posted on: May 27, 2009 9:36 am
Edited on: May 28, 2009 5:49 pm
  •  
 

Picking Conference USA

Welcome to Big 12 Jr.

Just like its big brother, Conference USA is high scoring. The offensive talent is wide ranging. Yes, there are even Heisman candidates at this level. The Big 12 has six programs from Texas and Oklahoma. CUSA has five. Both are able to mine those areas of the Southwest for talent.

C-USA had three teams in the top 10 in total offense.  The Big 12 had five. Only C-USA and the Big 12 averaged more than 400 yards in total offense per game. C-USA finished second behind the Big 12 nationally in touchdown passes per game, points per game and plays per game.

Just don't come around here to find any defense. Just like the Big 12, Conference USA had a problem stopping the ball. Half the league finished No. 100 or lower in total defense last season.

On offense, though, six of the top seven rushers and eight of the top 10 passers return. Nine of the 12 teams have at least eight offensive starters returning. Four of the nation's top 20 players in total offense last season were from C-USA.

Houston, Tulsa, Texas-El Paso, East Carolina and Southern Miss look like bowl teams. Houston or East Carolina could be BCS busters.

Whatever happens, it will be fun to watch.

West Division

1. Houston -- Kevin Sumlin set a school record for wins by a first-year head coach (eight). Don't be surprised if the former Oklahoma assistant pumps out double digit wins this year. Sumlin's best players still haven't reached their peak yet. Quarterback Case Keenum (5,020 passing yards) should be a Heisman candidate. Tyron Carrier caught 80 balls as a freshman. If a shaky defense holds up behind CUSA defensive player of the year Phillip Hunt, the big boys better watch out. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State are all on the schedule. They're all winnable games.

2. Tulsa -- In less than a month's time Todd Graham's offense scored 77 (against Texas El-Paso) and his defense gave up 70 (to Houston). If Graham can ever balance this thing out, the Golden Hurricane are going to be a BCS buster.  Unfortunately for them, it's not going to be this year.  The offense lost coordinator Gus Malzahn to Auburn, its quarterback (David Johnson) and top rusher (Tarrion Adams, 1,523 yards). Tulsa will score will rely on a veteran defense to hold teams under 70.

3. Texas-El Paso -- This might be Mike Price's best team since he headed for the border five years ago. Four of the five starters are back on the offensive line. Some think quarterback Trevor Vittatoe could be the league's best. A defense that helped put the Miners among the top 10 in turnover margin returns seven starters.

4. Rice --  From biggest turnaround in the country (seven-game improvement from 2007) to bottom half of the West. David Bailiff has to replace 56 touchdowns produced by Chase Clement (44 passing, 12 rushing). It's not going to be easy with the first three games on the road. After that the Owls plays Tulsa, Navy, East Carolina and Houston. If Bailiff goes 5-7 with this group give him a bonus.

5. Tulane -- Bob Toledo has won only six of 24 games in his two seasons in New Orleans. The beat should go on this year. The Green Wave's only victories last season were against Louisiana-Monroe and SMU. They come into this season having lost eight in a row, the last seven by at least 17 points.

6. SMU -- This is exactly where Hawaii was 11 years ago -- at the bottom, 0-12 under Fred vonAppen. June Jones blew into the islands in 1999, going 9-4 in his first season. It's going to take a little longer at SMU. Jones went 1-11 in his first season at SMU. He has most of his offensive talent returning but this is still SMU, losers of 17 consecutive CUSA games.


East Division

1. East Carolina -- The Pirates are loaded with 16 starters returning a CUSA championship team that beat Virginia Tech and West Virginia. While opponents are more wise to the ways of quarterback Patrick Pinkney, it's hard to scout takeaways. The Pirates had 33 of them last year, including six against Tulsa in the conference title game.
 
Skip Holtz stayed put after becoming one of the hottest coaching commodities around. That means the Pirates could once again take a run at a BCS berth if they are able to defeat West Virginia and North Carolina in back-to-back weeks on the road.

2. Southern Miss -- Larry Fedora has 19 starters back from a team that won its final five games. The Golden Eagles might have the best running backs, receivers, offensive line and defensive backs in the league. The difference might be Nov. 28 when Southern Miss has to go to East Carolina for a division showdown.

3. Memphis -- Jucos usually need a year to get acclimated. Tailback Curtis Steele came in from Northwest Mississippi and ran for 1,223 to become conference newcomer of the year. If the Tigers can stay healthy at quarterback then senior receivers Duke Calhoun and Carlos Singleton should have big seasons. Calhoun has caught a pass in 37 consecutive games. The 6-foot-8 Singleton is tied for the school career receiving touchdown record (19). 

4. Marshall
-- Mark Snyder is under pressure to produce a bowl game. Marshall hasn't been to the postseason in his four seasons. Snyder is 16-31 and is coming off a 4-8 finish in '08. If he doesn't get it done with 16 returning starters including All-American prospect Cody Slate at tight end, then it might be time to freshen up the resume.
 
5. Central Florida -- George O'Leary has alternated winning and losing seasons in his five seasons. The pieces are in place for an above .500 finish but that's about it. Last season's offense was last in I-A. It's going to take more than the return of 15 starters to rebound from a 4-8 downer. O'Leary loses only left tackle Patrick Brown (All-CUSA) on offense. The problem will be scraping out seven wins in the ultra-competitive East Division.

6. Alabama-Birmingham -- This is Neil Callaway's best team in Birmingham. The Blazers, though, have to play seven road games (in a nine-week stretch).  Joe Webb was No. 3 rushing quarterback (1,021 yards) in the country.

 


Posted on: April 15, 2009 12:57 am
 

Fire Missouri medical and training staff

This is what they never told recruits at Missouri, assuming the school even knew:

The strength and conditioning director lacked the proper certification to be hired. The sports medicine director basically did not know -- may still not know -- how to recognize athletes in distress afflicted with sickle cell trait.

In a stunning revelation, the AP reported Tuesday that the Missouri training staff was woefully unprepared and under-trained when Aaron O'Neal died during an offseason workout. How Pat Ivey, the strength and conditioning director, and Rex Sharp, the sports medicine director, are still employed is amazing.

Not only should they fired, their future in the profession should into question. Missouri paid $2 million to settle a lawsuit brought be O'Neal's parents. Part of the settlement, though, is that no blame be assigned by coach Gary Pinkel, AD Mike Alden, Sharp and Ivey.

The AP's fine reporting has taken care of that. Sharp and Ivey are directly to blame considering they unaware of how to handle O'Neal's symptoms which many now say resulted stress resulting from sickle cell trait.

If I'm Missouri's president, I fire Sharp and Ivey and conduct a review of the entire training and medical staff. Pinkel and Alden should at least get a letter of reprimand. The conditions were allowed to exist under Alden. Pinkel is part of a football culture that continues to wink at the "involuntary" offseason workouts.

Letters sent to players before the 2005 season by Pinkel were entered into the record during the trial. In an eery foreshadowing one of the letters stated, "You must be dying to be a great player ..."

There is no excuse for medical and athletic professionals to be ignorant to sickle cell trait. A seven-step series of guidelines distributed by the National Athletic Trainers' Association are followed by only a fraction of schools according to Oklahoma head trainer Scott Anderson. Anderson was co-chair of the NATA group that drafted the guidelines in 2007. He estimates that only half of schools even test for sickle cell.

This will all be interesting information for the parents of Ereck Plancher. They are suing Central Florida for the death of their son who had sickle cell trait. The school recently paid $60,000 for an independent study of its medical and training techniques. Central Florida then spent the next few days patting itself on the back for the self-examination.

One problem: Not once in the report's 24 pages does it mention sickle cell trait. In other words, the school spent all the money and did absolutely nothing to improve the odds that another Ereck Plancher wouldn't happen again.

We should pray that Missouri is the only training and medical staff in the country that was inadequately unprepared. Sadly, I don't think that's the case.

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 10, 2008 9:19 am
 
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 15, 2008 10:56 am
 

National notes at the halfway point

One of the best measures for an improved program is the games ahead/behind method. Look at baseball standings for an example. The NCAA includes a section in its statistics book each year that tracks the most improved teams from one year to the next. In 2007, it was Illinois which went from 2-10 in 2006 to 9-4 last season. That's an improvement of 6 1/2 games.

Hawaii holds the record improving by 8 1/2 games in 1999. Ironically, the Warriors might be on the opposite side of that stat this season.

At the halfway point, I thought it would be a good idea to figure the biggest improvements and biggest declines of the 2008 season. Remember, some of the numbers might be skewed because we've played only half a season. But this might be a good measuring stick for coach of the year candidates and provide a short list of coaches about to be fired.

Most improved

1. Minnesota +7 1/2 games (from 1-11 to 6-1)
2. Duke +5 1/2
3. North Carolina +4
4. Pittsburgh +3 1/2
5. several tied at +3

Biggest decline

1. Hawaii -5 1/2 games (from 12-1 to 3-3)
2. Central Florida, Tennessee -4
4. LSU, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Kansas - 3 1/2

Most improved by conference: Baylor, +3; ACC, Duke +5 1/2; Big East, Pittsburgh, +3 1/2; Conference USA, Rice/Marshall, +3; Mountain West, Colorado  State/UNLV, +3; MAC, Ball State/Northern Illinois, +3; SEC, Vanderbilt/Ole Miss, +3; WAC, New Mexico State, +3: Independents, Notre Dame, +3; Big Ten,  Minnesota, +7 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida International/Louisiana-Lafayette, +3; Pac-10, Stanford, +2 1/2.

Biggest decline by conference: ACC, Boston College/Clemson/Virginia, -2 1/2; Big 12, Kansas, -3 1/2; Big East, West Virginia/Rutgers, -3 1/2; Big Ten, Michigan, -3 1/2;  Independents, Western Kentucky, -2 1/2; Conference USA, Central Florida -4; MAC, Bowling Green/Ohio/Miami (Ohio), -1 1/2; Mountain West, New Mexico, -3; SEC, Tennessee, -4; Pac-10, Arizona State -3 1/2; WAC, Hawaii -5 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida Atlantic, -3 1/2.

Storylines for the second half

Will anyone go unbeaten?: It looks like the SEC and Big 12 will cannibalize each other. That leaves a bunch of one-loss powers that also could include Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Utah or Brigham Young.

Heisman race: Tim Tebow won't repeat and the Big 12 looks like it has a lock on the 2008 winner. But which player?

JoePa In the Sky With A Headset: Can Penn State's venerable coach win a Big Ten title and national championship without setting foot on the field the rest of  the way? Physical problems continue to keep JoePa in the press box. When asked Tuesday if he needed a hip replacement, Paterno answered cryptically, "I don't  know." It isn't exactly Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds but anything Joe does the rest of the season is going to be followed closely.

The non-BCS challengers: TCU, BYU and Utah are all in the mix. If Tulsa can win at Arkansas on Nov. 1 the Golden Hurricane will be a factor. The MAC is  simply too tough for Ball State (7-0) to go undefeated but you have to root for the Cardinals. Their best receiver's career is over (Dante Love) and their quarterback (Nate Davis) wears gloves.

Biggest looming controversy: If a one-loss team from the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 is edged out of the BCS title game by an undefeated non-BCS school.

Next coach to be fired: Given the swiftly declining situation at Auburn it might be Tommy Tuberville. Other than that, Washington's Tyrone Willingham and  Syracuse's Greg Robinson are locks. Keep an eye also on San Diego State's Chuck Long and Central Florida's George O'Leary.

Biggest upset looming out there: Not in terms of David and Goliath but watch the Texas at Texas Tech game on Nov. 1. If both teams keep winning you're looking at No. 1 Texas vs. a Red Raiders team that should be in the BCS top five. If Texas Tech wins try to wrap your mind around Mike Leach and his Pirate  Love jumping up to No. 1.

Get out your swords and Johnny Depp movies.

BCS bowl predictions at the halfway point

BCS title game: Penn State* vs. Oklahoma*
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Alabama
Sugar Bowl: Florida* vs. South Florida*
Orange Bowl: BYU^ vs. Virginia Tech*
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC*

*-conference champ
^-non-BCS automatic qualifier

  Remember last week when Washington State held open tryouts to find a scout team quarterback? The winner of that competition, Peter Roberts, suddenly finds himself a viable backup option with the Cougars headed into the USC game.

 Speaking of injuries, it's a shame that two stars at Kentucky and North Carolina recently saw their careers end. Carolina's Brandon Tate, the I-A career  leader in kick return yards, is finished because of a knee injury. Exciting Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons is done because of a knee ligament tear.

 

 Don't say I didn't warn you. I know what I said about Texas and Texas Tech above but indulge me: The way things are shaking out, a Kansas-Oklahoma State Big 12 title game isn't out of the question. If Texas beats Missouri on Saturday then it becomes more likely. Kansas is playing better and has Texas at home later in the season. KU and Missouri meet in Kansas City on Nov. 29.

 

Oklahoma State is playing better than anyone in the conference (that includes Texas). That head-to-head game is Oct. 25.

 Remember this when you watch BYU and TCU on Thursday night. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall allows each special teams unit to name a captain. The captain then  names starters and backups for each unit. Wonder if that ever happens in the SEC?

 

 


Posted on: September 2, 2008 7:25 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2008 2:18 pm
 

The pollsters get a conscience

In the old days -- OK, 2006 -- the major pollsters fell in line like those lemming Obama supporters.

If USC was No. 1 -- as it was in AP for 32 consecutive weeks from the end of 2003 to the last regular-season poll of 2005 -- then, well, by God that's where it stayed no matter what. What I'm trying to say here is that there isn't much original thought in the human polls. Check the Harris polls. Instead of voting in the moment, the BCS pollsters who debut in October usually fall in line with what the AP and coaches are spewing at the moment.

That's why Tuesday was somewhat of a big day in the polling business. USC jumped Georgia for the No. 1 in both major polls after one week of play for no apparent reason. The Trojans punched a punchless Virginia. Georgia ripped Georgia Southern. Ohio State, which fell from No. 2 to No. 3 in AP, pimp slapped Youngstown State.

Really, I didn't see much difference in quality in the opponent except that the Trojans traveled across the country to play a real, live BCS team. Call it the frequent flyer advantage. USC picked up nine more first-place votes and 49 points overall in going from third to first in AP. It also picked nine first-place votes in the coaches' poll outpointing Georgia 32-4.

That last time something like this happened, No. 2 LSU lept over No. 1 USC in the AP poll of Sept. 30, 2007. That week the Trojans won at Washington 27-24. Meanwhile, LSU beat Tulane in New Orleans, 34-9.

Maybe the pollsters couldn't stand Georgia getting another injury. Maybe USC looked that good. The latest shift seemed to be a reaction to some of these powers playing body bag games. Suddenly, the pollsters have a concscience. What a concept! This is what poll critics wanted, now they've got it.

Here's the preseason AP top 5 fared

1. Georgia beat I-AA Georgia Southern and fell to second losing two first-place votes and 22 points overall.

2. Ohio State beat I-AA Youngstown State and fell to third losing six first-place votes and nine points overall.

3. USC beat Virginia and went to No. 1 picking up nine first-place votes and 49 points overall.

4. Oklahoma beat I-AA Chattanooga and stayed in fourth losing two first-place votes and 12 points overall.

5. Florida beat Hawaii and stayed in fifth losing one first-place vote. Its point total stayed the same.

--If you were dialing into the George O'Leary's weekly teleconference with reporters at Central Florida on Monday, you got a phone sex hotline.

"Hi sexy you've reached the one-on-one fantasy line."

Insert your punch line containing the words "spread option", "deep coverage" here.

 

Oh, by the way, it was a mistake. An SID entered the wrong phone number for reporters to dial in on.

 

--Glad to see Frank Beamer see the light. Dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor will play this week against Furman. Taylor was a candidate for a redshirt until Sean Glennon showed against East Carolina that he wasn't ready to fully lead the Hokies.

 

 

 

 

 

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 21, 2008 9:31 am
 

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

Wow, does George O'Leary have a set.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The news:

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


Iliana Limón
Orlando Sentinel
21 July 2008


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

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

The reaction:

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