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Tag:Oregon
Posted on: April 9, 2011 10:40 pm
 

Miles on Willie Lyles, state of college football

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU coach Les Miles told CBSSports.com Friday he didn't know who Willie Lyles was until he saw him in December at the college football awards show in Orlando, Fla.

Lyles is a Houston-based trainer currently under investigation by the NCAA. His name first became known nationally when a Yahoo! Sports report stated last month that Lyles was paid $25,000 for his high school recruiting service by Oregon. The school eventually signed standout tailback Lache Seastrunk who Yahoo! Sports said was mentored by Lyles. In subsequent reports it became known that Lyles provides a high-school recruiting service to several programs. 

If it is determined Lyles is a booster, Oregon could have committed an NCAA violation.

Lyles' name came up most recently in an ESPN.com report  alleging that he had asked Texas A&M for $80,000 to sign star cornerback prospect Patrick Peterson. Peterson, who denied any relationship with Lyles, eventually signed with LSU which is why Miles spoke out Friday during a wide-ranging nearly 1 1/2-hour conversation. 

"In every recruiting scenario, sometimes it's a street agent, sometimes it's the guy's lifelong mentor," Miles said. "Sometimes it's the [high-school] assistant coach who really has [a recruit's] best interests at heart. Some people's interests are more self-serving."

Miles was particularly disturbed, like a lot of coaches, at the so-called third-party influence on recruiting. Coaches used to dealing with parents and high school coaches in the process now feel frustration at having to deal with a "handler" who may be marketing the recruit. While that has been common practice in college basketball for some time, it has just recently become an issue in college football. The NCAA is determining whether to form a focus group to concentrate on such issues

During the conversation, Miles stressed the cleanliness of his program in terms of NCAA compliance. His reference to Lyles emerged from the nationally televised college football awards show at Disney World. Coaches typically accompany their players to the show.

Following LSU's spring game on Saturday, Miles was asked about the rash of scandals in college football lately.

“I still am very much an advocate of college football. I realize what it does for a great majority of the youth of our country. It is still a place where you reward hard work ... The reality of it is, there’s a difficult issue in perception because it’s not uniform ...  [There] needs to be a common sense approach to this. College football is wonderful. It’s not something that should be viewed in a light, in any way, that’s anything but productive. The change that needs to take place is evident. And I think, honestly, there’s a want and desire to make those changes ... Don’t change the game so much that you don’t recognize it because, frankly, it’s magnificent."
Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU, NCAA, Oregon
 
Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Call it Super Saturday (Dec. 3)!

For the moment I'm going to name it Super Saturday. Even that seems a bit modest.

Traditionally, the last weekend of the regular season was already a monster -- the Conference USA, Big 12, SEC and ACC championship games along with your random Civil War thrown in. It was, and is,  usually a one-day play-in for the BCS championship bowl and other major bowls. Last year alone we got Oregon's coronation at Oregon State, Auburn's major, final statement against South Carolina and Virginia Tech winning the ACC (again).

That final weekend could be about to get a lot bigger. First, consider we've got a new configuration with the Big 12 dropping its championship game and the Big Ten and Pac-12 adding title games. Suddenly, the Big 12 is without a presence on that last day (Dec. 3 this year). Turns out there are serious talks underway about moving Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and/or Texas-Texas A&M to that day.  

That could make Saturday truly Super considering the blockbuster implications for this season. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State most likely are both going to start the season in the top 10. The game could end up being the Big 12's first "championship game" in the new 10-team alignment. Texas and A&M could also be moved off its traditional Thanksgiving week home.   

"The leader in the clubhouse would be either UT-AM or OU-OSU,” a source told the Tulsa World. “ABC wants a blockbuster weekend on championship Saturday, but doesn’t want to blow up Thanksgiving, so it’s a tricky situation."


The odds of all four of those Big 12 teams being out of the title race on the final day are minimal. Even if they are, those games are sure to deliver the key Texas demographic (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio etc.) That cannot be underestimated. The source added that a Texas-A&M, OU-OSU doubleheader is a possibility.

"That (doubleheader) is on the table and being discussed," the source said. "It is by no means a 'done deal,' but it is certainly possible."

Don't forget that the Pac-12 will play its first championship game that day at the stadium of the school with the best record. The Big Ten is already slotted to play its title game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In other Super Saturday news, the Big East -- which just released its schedule -- will have two games that day -- Connecticut at Cincinnati and Syracuse at Pittsburgh. 


The next question: How to schedule all those games so they don't all bump into each other. 
Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:50 pm
 

USC makes NCAA appeal, kills it in recruiting

This seemingly is going to be a great and horrible weekend for USC.

Talented recruits will visit the campus, possibly adding to an already loaded recruiting class. At the same time, a contingent of USC officials have landed in Indianapolis for Saturday's NCAA appeals hearing. AD Pat Haden is trying to get some relief from the crippling NCAA penalties that he inherited when he took office in August.

That it could be both a great and horrible weekend for Troy is a sign of the strength of the football program. Haden admits that the school's appeal is a long shot. He's hoping to halve the two-year bowl ban and the reduction of 30 scholarships over three years. It's not an all-or-nothing argument. The NCAA could honor none, some or all of USC's request.

"Our primary contention," associate AD J.K. McKay told reporters, "is, given what we were found to have done, these are the harshest penalties ever meted out."

At the same time, Lane Kiffin continues to pull big-time recruits -- possibly more than he can sign. The roster is down to 60 scholarships players. While the appeal is working its way through the system, though, the scholarship penalties are stayed. That means, conceivably, Kiffin could sign 25 players -- the NCAA limit -- get the roster up to 85 maximum and begin taking scholarship hits beginning in 2012.

Delaying a 30-scholarship hit doesn't seem to improve the situation unless, of course, Haden and USC get their way. They, and we, won't know for the next four-to-six weeks. That's the usual time for an appeal to be completed. If USC delays the scholarship hits, it couldn't sign a full class until 2015. If the 2011 bowl ban is upheld, USC could possibly be the poison pill in the first Pac-12 race. It could win the South Division but wouldn't be eligible for the conference's first (Pac-11?) championship game. Nothing says drama like a second-place team playing in a conference title game.


The thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. The quality of the current top-five class suggests that USC is going to weather the penalties relatively quickly either way. That is somewhat amazing for a program climbing out of penalties that were deemed to be death penalty-like. Kiffin has 17 commitments -- two over the limit if the appeal is denied. Nine other players who signed early count towards the 2010 class. Kiffin said after the penalties were handed down that the staff would have to be extremely selective and accurate because of the reduced scholarships. He also said that because it's USC the program might be able to get through the penalties relatively intact.

Hubris? Optimism? How about reality?

It has to be said: Kiffin and USC are killing it so far. Players still want to come to the program for the same reasons that have applied for decades -- it's L.A., it's sunny, it's a winning program and you can get to the NFL from there. It's the reason quarterback Matt Barkley didn't transfer knowing he may never play in another bowl game (assuming he stays only three years). It's the reason talented prospect Dillon Baxter came in last year's class pretty much knowing the program was about to be hammered.

The Trojans won eight games in 2010, the first year of that probation and should have won 10. It lost to Notre Dame for the first time since 2001. It got boat-raced by Oregon, the new power in the Pac-12. Depth was an issue. So was the offensive line and the front seven. But if this is as bad it gets, then USC will have absorbed a punch to the gut and kept on trucking.

Kiffin has a top-five recruiting class because he was able to get two of the top five recruits in the country -- receiver George Farmer and athlete De'Anthony Thomas. There are two other kids from USC go-to talent base Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. That's the home of Barkley and Matt Leinart as well as two Heisman winners (Leinart, John Huarte). 

As bad as things eventually turn out Saturday in Indianapolis, USC football may be turning the corner toward national prominence. Saturday could be horrible. The future, though, looks great.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:48 pm
 

USC makes NCAA appeal, kills it in recruiting

This seemingly is going to be a great and horrible weekend for USC.

Talented recruits will visit the campus, possibly adding to an already loaded recruiting class. At the same time, a contingent of USC officials have landed in Indianapolis for Saturday's NCAA appeals hearing. AD Pat Haden is trying to get some relief from the crippling NCAA penalties that he inherited when he took office in August.

That it could be both a great and horrible weekend for Troy is a sign of the strength of the football program. Haden admits that the school's appeal is a long shot. He's hoping to halve the two-year bowl ban and the reduction of 30 scholarships over three years. It's not an all-or-nothing argument. The NCAA could honor none, some or all of USC's request.

"Our primary contention," associate AD J.K. McKay told reporters, "is, given what we were found to have done, these are the harshest penalties ever meted out."

At the same time, Lane Kiffin continues to pull big-time recruits -- possibly more than he can sign. The roster is down to 60 scholarships players. While the appeal is working its way through the system, though, the scholarship penalties are stayed. That means, conceivably, Kiffin could sign 25 players -- the NCAA limit -- get the roster up to 85 maximum and begin taking scholarship hits beginning in 2012.

Delaying a 30-scholarship hit doesn't seem to improve the situation unless, of course, Haden and USC get their way. They, and we, won't know for the next four-to-six weeks. That's the usual time for an appeal to be completed. If USC delays the scholarship hits, it couldn't sign a full class until 2015. If the 2011 bowl ban is upheld, USC could possibly be the poison pill in the first Pac-12 race. It could win the South Division but wouldn't be eligible for the conference's first (Pac-11?) championship game. Nothing says drama like a second-place team playing in a conference title game.


The thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. The quality of the current top-five class suggests that USC is going to weather the penalties relatively quickly either way. That is somewhat amazing for a program climbing out of penalties that were deemed to be death penalty-like. Kiffin has 17 commitments -- two over the limit if the appeal is denied. Nine other players who signed early count towards the 2010 class. Kiffin said after the penalties were handed down that the staff would have to be extremely selective and accurate because of the reduced scholarships. He also said that because it's USC the program might be able to get through the penalties relatively intact.

Hubris? Optimism? How about reality?

It has to be said: Kiffin and USC are killing it so far. Players still want to come to the program for the same reasons that have applied for decades -- it's L.A., it's sunny, it's a winning program and you can get to the NFL from there. It's the reason quarterback Matt Barkley didn't transfer knowing he may never play in another bowl game (assuming he stays only three years). It's the reason talented prospect Dillon Baxter came in last year's class pretty much knowing the program was about to be hammered.

The Trojans won eight games in 2010, the first year of that probation and should have won 10. It lost to Notre Dame for the first time since 2001. It got boat-raced by Oregon, the new power in the Pac-12. Depth was an issue. So was the offensive line and the front seven. But if this is as bad it gets, then USC will have absorbed a punch to the gut and kept on trucking.

Kiffin has a top-five recruiting class because he was able to get two of the top five recruits in the country -- receiver George Farmer and athlete De'Anthony Thomas. There are two other kids from USC go-to talent base Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. That's the home of Barkley and Matt Leinart as well as two Heisman winners (Leinart, John Huarte). 

As bad as things eventually turn out Saturday in Indianapolis, USC football may be turning the corner toward national prominence. Saturday could be horrible. The future, though, looks great.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 9, 2011 7:31 pm
 

BCS championship game prediction blog

It's the little things in the BCS championship game. It's the little things because we know about the big things.

Figure Cam Newton for 200+ passing and 100+ rushing. Figure LaMichael James for 100+ rushing and a couple of touchdowns. Pencil Nick Fairley in for at least three tackles for loss and a personal four or two. None of that would surprise any of us.

It's the little things.

"I think it is real simple," Auburn's Gene Chizik said. "It is probably 200 years old ... We know that we have an explosive offense. We know that we have the capability of scoring a lot of points. What we'd like to do offensively is keep the football and eat some clock, get some first downs."

About that, Auburn is 86th in time of possession (29:01 per game) but is 11th in first downs (24.31). I'm a big stat guy so I think that's important. It's another indicator that Auburn is more like Oregon offensively than anyone knows. The difference in these two teams offensively is that I think Auburn wants to drive the ball, while Oregon wants to score quickly. Hence, the 79 plays per game. Possessions will have to be valued greatly. I compare it to a tennis match. If you don't score in this game, you lose serve.

I go back to the Oregon's USC game on Halloween. USC had a bye week to prepare for the Ducks' high-flying offense. Lane Kiffin spent a lot of time conditioning the Trojans. They were up to it to the point that USC scored two quick touchdowns in the third quarter to go ahead 32-29. Oregon then scored 24 unanswered to win 53-32. Do I think that will happen against Auburn? No. My point is that no matter what happens, Oregon's defense is going to be left on the field for an inordinate amount of time.

The Ducks average 1.76 points per minute of possession but their defense spends more than 32 minutes per game on the field.

For Oregon, gang tackling is going to be key against Cam Newton. The Ducks have six players with at least 25 tackles. Linebacker Casey Matthews is the energy guy (73 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 3 sacks). Corner Cliff Harris (five picks) is the big-play guy. He averages 19.5 yards per punt return and has taken four to the house.

As for Oregon's offense, I suspect Chip Kelly will come out early running the zone read side-to-side with James. That will serve to tire out Auburn's defensive line, which obviously is its strength. When I talked to James following the Oregon State he told me that he -- and the coaches -- favor him getting up field more and using his body. Even though James is only 185, maybe 190, he is one of the hardest hitters in the game when he sticks his nose up in there.

Even though he's got a space-age offense, Kelly will try to manage this game like an NFL coach. Take chances, open it up and try to get out to a lead in the first half. If that happens, look for James running up in the creases to tire out Auburn. There is a line of thinking that Kelly has "hidden" much of the offense down the stretch. Quarterback Darron Thomas hasn't done much running. Look for that to be a factor too with Thomas rolling out with a run-pass option.

"Defensively, we think it is very simple. Again, that's 200 years old," Chizik said. "We've got to definitely stop the run first. We cannot give up the big plays in the secondary."

That's Auburn's biggest weakness. Only 14 teams are worse than Auburn against the pass.

The second half, particularly the fourth-quarter will be key. That sounds simple, but is really the identity of these teams. Oregon has outscored opponents 277-77 in the second half. Auburn has outscored foes 125-48 in the fourth quarter. That begins to explain why each of these teams has eight come-from-behind wins.

The final factor: Which team has the biggest chip on its shoulder? Make that Chip. Oregon has been acting like the team that is here on business. It got to the Valley early. There was scant media availability. We didn't even know Kelly was in town until Friday when he appeared at the mandated media day. The Ducks are still thinking about their performance in last year's Rose Bowl. They weren't physical enough against a quarterback of a similar build as Newton, Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor.

Prediction: I thought former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti broke it down perfectly Sunday when he said Auburn runs a Wildcat offense on every play with Newton. Defensive coordinators call a running quarterback a "plus one" because he has to be accounted for on every play -- an extra running back if you will. New Texas coordinator Manny Diaz -- who coached against Newton in his second Auburn game with Mississippi State -- called the quarterback a "plus one and a half."

We've talked about the little things here. Like Chizik said, it's simple. Go with Newton. No one has stopped him yet. I don't think Oregon is going to be the first. Auburn 41, Oregon 31.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 9, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2011 6:18 pm
 

Bellotti likes Petersen at Stanford

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti endorsed Boise State's Chris Petersen Sunday for the current opening at Stanford.

"If I was [Stanford] I'd hire Chris Petersen," Bellotti said Sunday morning following a press conference for Monday's national championship game. "I think he's a great coach. I think he is in a really unique situation at Boise that he loves but he's lost last year's defensive coordinator and this year's offensive coordinator."

Justin Wilcox left following the 2009 season to coordinate Tennessee's defense. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin left last week to go to Texas. Petersen is the game's winningest active coach, 61-5 since taking over in 2006. He was Bellotti's receivers coach at Oregon from 1995-2000 and still speaks fondly of Oregon.

Obviously Bronco Nation is nervous. There have been reports that Stanford has sought permission to speak to Petersen The job would seemingly fit Petersen's comfort level. He dislikes having to deal with the media even in media-friendly Boise. One person familiar with the Bay Area scene told me Saturday that Petersen would have to deal with four to six regular reporters on the Stanford beat.

Actually, both men's names have been attached to the Stanford job since Jim Harbaugh left for the 49ers last week. Bellotti downplayed his interest in getting back into coaching.

"I don't know, maybe," he said. "If I was Stanford I'd go after Chris Petersen."

Chip Kelly took over for Bellotti, now an ESPN analyst, at Oregon before the 2009 season.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 6, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2011 12:24 am
 

Auburn will not go Euro soccer on Oregon

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Auburn isn't going to lay down. That much is official as the Tigers try to deal with the most explosive offense in the country.

Oregon averages 49.33 points per game according to the NCAA, No. 1 nationally. More to the point, Oregon scores those points quickly. The Ducks are 103rd in time of possession (27:59 per game). That figures out to an average of 1.76 points per minute of possession. Only 21 of 91 scoring drives this season lasted more than 2:43.

That leaves a lot of defensive tongues dragging. Chip Kelly's offense is so effective that basketball types have become interested with its pace. Kelly talks regularly with Oregon women's coach Paul Westhead (The Guru of Go). Representatives from the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers visited Kelly and the Ducks in the offseason.

There's the rank-and-file no-huddle offense and then there is Oregon's O which gets plays off in about 21 or 22 seconds on average. The idea is keep offensive rhythm but also tire out the defense. As you can tell by the numbers, it has worked. Things got so ridiculous that opponents began testing the boundaries of the rules. Cal assistant Tosh Lupoi was suspended for instructing a player to fake an injury in the Oregon game.

"We're not going to do that," Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said Thursday at the BCS championship game press conferences. "We're going to line up and play."

There is an NCAA rule that prohibits such tactics.

"Most likely the officials will warn the team, 'Get up, get up or you'll be penalized,' " before a penalty according to Dave Parry, the national coordinator of officials.

Opponents going European soccer on the Ducks -- aka diving -- started in September during a game at Arizona State.

"It's kind of like a World Cup game here with the crowd and these injuries," Kelly said at the time.

The practice became so common that Oregon fans began booing each time there was an opponent injury -- legitimate or not.

"The fake injuries, the cramps, that's stuff that sometimes can really kill our drives and sometimes really motivates us," Oregon receiver Jeff Maehl said. "We put our foot on the pedal even more ... It's becoming a strategy for other teams. If that's the route they want to take, that's part of the game. It shows a lot of mental weakness."

Oregon comes into the game fourth nationally averaging 79.25 plays per game. The top three are all from the Big 12 -- Oklahoma (86.5), Texas Tech (81) and Texas A&M (80.75).

"Hopefully my wind can hold up," said Auburn All-American defensive tackle Nick Fairley. "That's one thing we're not going to do ... fake an injury to slow them down."

Auburn's best chance is to stop Oregon on first down. That's when the Ducks offense faces the same challenge as a conventional unit, converting second- and third-down and long. Cal's lollygagging worked but so did the fact that it had effective back seven that allowed it to cover receivers one-and-one and devote the rest of the defense to the run. The Bears held Oregon to season lows in points (15) and points (317) in the Ducks' 15-13 victory.

 

Posted on: January 6, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 5:25 pm
 

Andrew Luck to stay at Stanford

This is a win for ...

Stanford, which now should be a consensus top five team with the return of the Heisman runner-up at quarterback.

This is a win for ...

The Pac-12, the Pac-12 North in particular, which now returns two Heisman finalists. Oregon's LaMichael James being the other.

This is a win for ...

Bob Bowlsby, the Stanford AD, who now may have a realistic chance of keeping his coach Jim Harbaugh as well.

But this is a win, mostly, for ...

College football. After a season of sleaze and slime, we can all feel good about ourselves today. It's OK to stop squinting. The car crashes are over. A sometimes R-rated season has some purity left. This is the way it is supposed to be. This is the way it used to be until the money and runners and the advisors got involved.

This is the way I kind of predicted it would be.

When Andrew Luck announced Thursday he was staying at Stanford for his redshirt junior season, we all exhaled. Admit it. It was the breathless sigh of relief. Something that had finally gone right. Auburn may win a championship with a quarterback that half the nation is looking at sideways. Ohio State just won a bowl game with key contributions from five players who should have been sitting out. USC is appealing an NCAA case this month that was decided in June and started six years ago.

Instead, Luck's on our side. He loves college. He wants to get his architectural degree. He wants to spend time with his sister Mary Ellen, a Stanford freshman. He loves college football. If you've ever been on the Stanford campus, you love Stanford too. Great kid. Great decision.

The NFL knee jerks will tell you that Luck is leaving $50 million on the table. Who cares? It's going to be there next year when Luck might be even more valuable. If he isn't, well, how much money do you need? By staying Luck is telling us that's not really the point anyway. The college experience is once in a lifetime. The Stanford experience is, well, you Stanford grads know how special it is.

"As good as he is, he'll only get better by staying in school," said Gil Brandt, a noted NFL player personnel guru. "I just think that he realizes that the fourth year in school is like his senior year and it will be a great year for him. It might not as be as good football-wise but whatever he was going to get this year, he'll get next year."

Maybe Harbaugh will realize that the NFL will be there next year too. Luck's return may be just enough for the quirky coach to stay in Palo Alto. With or without him, the Cardinal are going to be absolutely loaded. Seventeen starters return including 10 on the defense that pummeled Virginia Tech. Roll this around in your mind: Stanford is going to compete for a national championship. Mark your calendars for Nov. 12 -- Oregon at Stanford.

The biggest loser in all this? Clearly the Carolina Panthers who have the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Panthers' Luck just becamebad luck.

"I'm sure," Brandt said, "area code 704 just had a heart attack."

So what? College football won this round. No more waiting to exhale.

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