Posted on: August 25, 2009 11:28 am
The Altoona (Penn.) Mirror did some exhaustive research in trying to determine which was the best quarterback school.
You'll see the usual suspects (Notre Dame, Alabama, Stanford, USC, Washington), but there are some surprises too (Purdue?). The thing about this project is that it leaves it open at the end for you to make up your own mind.
Posted on: June 19, 2009 12:43 pm
It's never been like this in the Pac-10.
The conference that gave us Elway, Leinart, Plunkett, Aikman and Fouts, also has given us Best, Blount, Rodgers, Gerhart, and Grigsby. The first set of five names you recognize as some of the best quarterbacks in Pac-10 history. The next five represent another bit of history. According to the conference, there have never been five returning 1,000-yard rushers in the Pac-10.
Jahvid Best, Jr., Cal -- Despite missing a game, Best rushed for 1,580 yards last season and will be on everyone's Heisman list. Or should be.
LeGarrette Blount, Sr., Oregon -- Chip Kelly has made Oregon into an offensive powerhouse, particularly on the ground. The Ducks have finished in the top six in rushing each of the last two seasons. Kelly lost one 1,000 yard rusher (Jeremiah Johnson) and gets another. The punishing Blount ran for 1,002 yards.
Picking the Pac-10 ...
1. USC -- Expect at least a share of an eighth consecutive Pac-10 title. Expect an eighth consecutive BCS bowl (probably Rose). Don't expect me to tell you the starting quarterback. Aaron Corp started the spring game, but true freshman Matt Barkley has made tremendous strides. Corp may start the season but Barkley might be the guy by the end. The defense and offensive line (Pete Carroll's best ever at USC) can hold the Trojans in the national championship race if the qbs struggle.
2. Oregon -- Kelly has gone from New Hampshire offensive coordinator to Oregon head coach in less than three years. He will take over officially on July 1. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli started as a fifth-stringer, then accounted for 23 touchdowns under Kelly in 2008. Normally, a head-coaching change would signal a drop in the standings. But Kelly has had enough time in the program to get familiar. Don't forget the Ducks were a top 10 team last season. Welcome to the big time, Chip .The season kicks off at Boise.
3. Cal -- Jeff Tedford has brought stability to Berkeley, but no Rose Bowls. It's been 50 years and counting for the Bears since their last trip to Pasadena -- for a bowl game. Tedford, the quarterback wizard, has been pumping out running backs in recent years while quarterback play has slipped. Aaron Rodgers was the last serviceable signal caller. That was five years ago. Inconsistent Kevin Riley gets the job this season. Best will have to relieve the pressure.
4. Oregon State -- Twenty-eight victories the past three seasons. Two wins over USC. Never, ever doubt Mike Riley. Even though his defense has to rebuilt, the Beavers are going to be a pain again this season. Four of the five starters on the offensive line are back. Rodgers' shoulder is healed. Lyle Moevao is a veteran quarterback. Expect at least eight wins.
5. UCLA -- The Bruins could be the most improved team in the Pac-10. Interception machine Kevin Craft is gone. In his place is redshirt freshman Kevin Prince. Sixteen starters return and defense is not the problem. The Bruins had the second-best total defense in Pac-10 play. Until Neuheisel actually performs in Westwood, though, I will relegate them to this spot.
8. Stanford -- Jim Harbaugh might be the most coveted 9-15 coach in the country. His name continues to come up when other jobs open up. The Cardinal have improved, coming within a season-finale loss to Cal of being bowl eligible. Gerhart and Andrew Luck give Stanford a chance this season. Luck, a sophomore, threw five touchdowns in the spring game. They're here because the Cardinal open with back-to-back road games (Washington State and Wake) and have to play seven teams that won bowl games.
9. Washington -- Steve Sarkisian can't lose. Well, he can but certainly at the level of last season's worst Husky team ever. Sark starts his head coaching career with Washington on a 14-game losing streak. Three wins would make him the mayor of Montlake. The Huskies have the talent to go 5-7. A healthy Jake Locker will make a difference under Sark. Everyone is looking forward to redshirt freshman tailback Chris Polk. Part of Sarkisian's job is getting the Huskies to believe they can win. The streak breaker should come in Week 2 against Idaho.
10. Washington State -- The Cougars won twice last season (one of them against Washington) but are in worse shape than their rivals. This could be one of the nation's worst programs again this season. Second-year coach Paul Wulff loses five starters from one of the worst defenses in Pac-10 history. That might be a good thing. The offense turned it over a staggering 25 times and gave up 43 sacks.
Posted on: June 9, 2009 8:38 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 11:10 pm
Lane Kiffin is at it again. This time with what could be secondary violation No. 6.
You've no doubt heard that Kiffin might have broken NCAA rules by allowing a recruit to filmed in his office by a cable network. The question that popped into my mind was, when do enough secondary violations equal a major violation.
Short answer: It's complicated. Complicated answer: It's really complicated which is why so many coaches are willing to push the envelope when it comes to recruiting.
"There isn't a magic number," said one Division I-A compliance director, "but if you're violating the same rule more than once on different occassions, that's a problem."
That could be a secondary violation -- several of them -- because it simulates a game-day setting. Yeah, I know, toilet paper and trees don't conjure up game day but that's exactly what it is at Auburn.
I found out firsthand what these secondary violations mean to some coaches. New Mexico coach Mike Locksley allowed me to sit in on a staff meeting the day before signing day this year. Commanding the meeting, Locksley impressed upon his staff that he wanted to lead the Mountain West in self-reporting violations.
A minor controversy erupted at New Mexico when I published what Locksley told his staff, " "It's OK to make a mistake -- secondary violations, We want to lead the conference in them." There was laughter in the room but the point had been made. It's not the number of secondary violations that necessarily matter. It's about being forthcoming with the NCAA.
They were nervous at New Mexico when the quote came out because the program already is on probation from wrongdoing during the previous coaching regime. But Locksley showed me in that meeting he knew more about NCAA rules than anyone in the room. The 39-year-old coach, a tireless recruiter, was also well aware of his reputation in some coaching circles as a guy who pushes the edges of the NCAA Manual.
"As coaches it's almost a compliment," Locksley told me. "It's almost like having a beautiful girlfriend or wife and people are staring at her. If you're a good recruiter, people are going to accuse you of cheating."
So how beautiful a girlfriend do you want to date? In a recent Columbus Dispatch investigation, the newspaper found that Ohio State had reported an incredible 375 violations since 2000. That's the most of any of the 69 Division I-A schools who responded to the paper's Freedom of Information requests.
Rick Neuheisel had a part in more than 50 secondary recruiting violations while at Colorado. Neuheisel, then at Washington, was prohibited from recruiting off campus for a time. His former school was placed on probation, docked scholarship and had off-campus recruiting limited.
Schools have proven that the slap on the wrist they receive is worth it. If Kiffin wants attention for his program, he certainly has it. One of the violations reportedly had to do with a fake press conference set up to impress nine recruits. A fog machine was reportedly used in January, simulating pre-game introductions.
Taking all that into account, six secondary violations don't seem to be that many. I'm no expert but it seems Kiffin will get both his attention and a sore wrist.
Guess which one he cares about?
Posted on: June 5, 2009 3:36 pm
We're all Heisman candidates in June. Mom, dad, the plumber, the cat. Well, maybe not the cat.
1. Colt McCoy, Texas -- It's his time. Among the Three Amigos, it's his turn.
The others -- Arrelious Benn, Illinois; Eric Berry, Tennessee; Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas; Daryll Clark, Penn State; Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame; Aaron Corp, USC; Noel Devine, West Virginia; A.J. Green, Georgia; Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma; Max Hall, BYU; Greg Hardy, Ole Miss; Tim Hiller, Western Michigan; Jerry Hughes, TCU; Colin Kaepernick, Nevada; Julio Jones, Alabama; Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan; MiQuale Lewis, Ball State; Jake Locker, Washington; Taylor Mays, USC; Kellen Moore, Boise State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State; Todd Reesing, Kansas; Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State; Charles Scott, LSU; Brandon Spikes, Florida; Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; The Kobe and LeBron puppets; Zach Galifianakis; Conan O'Brien; Lassie; David Letterman; Iron Man; Alex Trebek, Tina Fey, shall I go on?
Bednarik/Nagurski Award (best defensive player): Jerry Hughes, TCU
Biletnikoff Award (best receiver): Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
Broyles Award (best assistant coach): John Chavis, LSU defensive coordinator
Groza Award (best kicker): Kai Forbath, UCLA
Ray Guy Award (best punter): Derek Epperson, Baylor
Lombardi Award (best lineman): Greg Hardy, Ole Miss
Mackey Award (best tight end): Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback): Colt McCoy, Texas.
Butkus Award (best linebacker): Brandon Spikes, Florida
Outland Trophy (best interior lineman): Ciron Black, LSU
Rimington Trophy (best center): Kristofer O'Dowd, USC
Eddie Robinson Award (coach of the year): Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Thorpe Award (best defensive back): Eric Berry, Tennessee
Doak Walker Award (best running back): Jahvid Best, Cal
Tags: Alabama, Ball State, Baylor, Boise State, BYU, Cal, Central Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Kansas, LSU, Nevada, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma state, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Penn State, TCU, TCU, Tennessee, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, USC, Washington, West Virginia, Western Michigan
Posted on: April 28, 2009 10:40 pm
I got one of the conference semifinal series right. Don't take that as an indication of how accurate how I'll be in the next around (please).
Western Conference semis
No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 8 Anaheim: Prior to the playoffs, the Ducks had everything but the goaltending -- experience, size, scoring and speed. Now they've got the goaltending too as Jonas Hiller proved in the opening round against San Jose.
No. 4 Chicago vs. No. 3 Vancouver: You've got to love the kids. The Blackhawks are the youngest and hottest team in playoffs. This is how the old Canadiens used to hit and skate.
No. 1 Boston vs. No. 6 Carolina: Hey, I got one right. Boston smoked Montreal. Carolina pulled a shocker in Jersey. At least early on, you've got to like the Hurricanes' momentum. They will steal a game in Boston, but eventually the B's size and puck-moving ability will take over.
No. 2 Washington vs. No. 4 Pittsburgh: Forget what I said about Boston-Carolina being the best series. When Sergei Federov scored late against the Rangers that made this a classic. The best hockey talent on the planet will be in one series -- Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Semin, Federov, Green and the new kid Varlamov. This would make a heck of a final. Unfortunately, it will only produce a conference finalist.
Posted on: April 24, 2009 1:20 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2009 1:34 pm
Leftovers from this week's West Coast swing ...
BCS commissioners might soon have to consider penalizing one of its own. One of the issues that emerged from the recent consolidation of the two USC cases, is a possible lack of institution control violation. Both former basketball star O.J. Mayo and former Heisman winner Reggie Bush are alleged to have taken improper benefits.
The combining of the cases streamlines things and makes it more likely that one or both of the programs could be forced to forfeit or "vacate" games. In the case of USC football, that could include a pair of Pac-10 championships in 2004 and 2005 as well as the 2004 national championship.
That could put the BCS commissioners in the uncomfortable spot of having to remove that national title. Because the NCAA doesn't stage a championship in I-A football, a forfeit would affect Pete Carroll's victory total, Pac-10 titles, the NCAA football records book and the USC media guide. It would be up to the commissioners to actually take away the title.
That isn't going to happen. The commissioners don't want to get into the business of penalizing their own. But it does raise another question: Because a BCS title is essentially immune from NCAA sanctions, does that ratchet up the incentive to cheat to get one?
It's looking more and more like Bush acted on his own. But if a booster (or group of boosters) or even a school decided to cheat its way to a title, really, what are the disincentives? Florida State has its panties in a bunch because it wants to protect Bobby Bowden's victory total. Other than that, the biggest drawback to forfeits/vacates is embarrassment.
Especially when the upside is a possible national championship that can't be taken away.
• Incoming Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott made an appearance at the BCS meetings in Pasadena. One of the subjects being tossed around in the rumor mill is a network that would be a joint venture between the ACC and Pac-10.
While those are two disparate conferences at opposite ends of the country, they do share some of the same problems -- lack of exposure in football. Scott has poo-pooed nothing so far. It will be interested to see how far Pac-10 presidents want to go in terms of expansion and television.
The Ocean Network (Pacific/Atlantic, get it?) could feature early ACC games at 11:30 a.m. ET (beating the Big Ten by half an hour for the first major-college games of the day) followed by a featured Pac-10 game at 3:30 p.m. ET. (12:30 p.m. PT).
Don't worry so much about game quality. Some of those early Big Ten games are dogs but they get good ratings because fans just want to see football as soon as possible on Saturday. A Wake Forest-Maryland game at 11:30 a.m. wouldn't be as distasteful as you might think.
As for that 3:30 p.m. window? The Pac-10 has to do something to get its games out of Saturday late night. While USC gathers most of the attention and ratings for the conference, you better believe that other conference members would welcome an afternoon time slot.
• Couldn't resist thinking of this while in L.A.: One school (USC) was staging a quarterback battle, while across town they're having a pillow fight (UCLA).
The spring opened with coach Rick Neuheisel opening the competition to replace/challenge Kevin Craft who threw 20 interceptions last year. Redshirt freshman Kevin Prince is the clear leader going into Saturday's spring game. Craft has fallen to third.
That brings us to the curious case of Chris Forcier. Sensing his future in Westwood wasn't assured, the brother of Michigan's Tate Forcier sought his release to transfer. One problem, once given his release, Forcier found no takers for him to play quarterback.
He did what any red-blooded disgruntled signal-caller would do, he stayed and switched to receiver. His prospects, if there are any left, are even worse at that position. To say that he is buried on the depth chart would be an insult to cemetery residents.
"Certainly you take your hat off [to him] for being willing to do things to help the team," Neuheisel told the Los Angeles Times. "But you can't just reward the great effort and slow down the team to create playing time, if it is not merited."
• How good is Washington's Steve Sarkisian? It seems that he was Nick Saban's first choice to be Alabama's offensive coordinator a couple of years ago.
• My new favorite quarterback, Navy's Ricky Dobbs, weighs in with his latest blog.
Ramblin' Ricky is upset after the spring game, talks about his dance moves and signs for the president -- five times.
• BCS coordinator John Swofford when he was quoted in an AP story that the commissioners would consider using a human committee to select teams in the future. Not true, according to a BCS official. Swofford was asked if he would consider parts of the Mountain West Conference eight-playoff proposal. He said, yes, using the human committee as an example.
I can't imagine the commissioners would come close to using a human committee. If you thought the polls and computers had flaws, think of the inherent biases that would come with humans picking the teams. Anyway, the point is that you can't unring the bell. Media are latching onto Swofford's comment ...
The Mountain West Conference is far from claiming victory after its proposal for sweeping changes to the current system of choosing a college football champion was pretty much swept under the rug at the Bowl Championship Series meetings in Pasadena, Calif., earlier this week.
But the league that is not one of the automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS did get in some jabs -- about 90 minutes' worth -- on Tuesday.
BCS coordinator John Swofford, in return, threw a bone to the conference that includes Utah and BYU.
The Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner said the BCS could adopt parts of the MWC's playoff plan. Specifically, he told The Associated Press that although the group is not likely to do away with its present system, the MWC's idea of forming a committee to pick the qualifying teams, rather than relying on computers and human polls, seemed to have some merit.
"A selection committee? Yes," Swofford said after the meetings concluded on Wednesday.
Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson flew back to league offices in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday but was not granting interview requests, a league spokesperson said.
Thompson had to be upbeat, however, seeing as how he spoke before the meetings about his wish of just getting the proposal on the table for discussion, which happened. Thompson is well aware that change won't happen soon.
The issue now moves to presidents of universities, Swofford said, noting that BCS commissioners will meet again in June (in Colorado Springs, coincidentally) to discuss the matter further.
But the pressure has been turned up, and not just by the conference itself and other conferences that feel left out of the most lucrative bowls.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff of Utah has launched an investigation into whether the BCS violates federal antitrust laws and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah has pushed for the BCS situation to be on the agenda of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.
Swofford said after the meetings that BCS commissioners did not feel they were on shaky legal ground.
Utah's football team went undefeated last season, but was not chosen to play in the BCS title game that featured a pair of teams with at least one loss.
Posted on: April 12, 2009 8:41 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2009 8:45 pm
It's been a long four years. I have less hair and less money but the same love for my St. Louis Blues.
The Bluenotes are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The franchise that once owned the longest postseason streak of the four major sports (26 consecutive years) is back where it should be.
If the hockey gods continue being kind, Nashville missing the playoffs will lead to that franchise moving to Kansas City. The folks of Nashville know country music but they don't know hockey. Please, give us this franchise. We've got a new arena (Sprint Center) and plenty of open dates.
There, that's my way of easing into my annual playoff predictions:
No. 1 seed San Jose vs. No. 8 Anaheim: Don't know if the team with the league's best record can finish the deal but winning the Cup, but they take care of the Ducks here in five.
No. 2 Detroit vs. No. 7 Columbus: Jackets just happy to be here in the franchise's first playoff appearance. Detroit in five.
No. 3 Vancouver vs. No. 6 St. Louis: Blues were one of the best teams in the league down the stretch. They got a huge break by finishing sixth on the last day of the season. A matchup against No. 1 San Jose or No. 2 Detroit would have been a killer. Blues carry over regular-season momentum. St. Louis in six.
Western Conference semis
No. 1 San Jose vs. No. 6 St. Louis: Blues hit their emotional wall. San Jose has too much of everything. Sharks in six.
No. 2 Detroit vs. No. 5 Calgary: Wings goaltending inconsistencies show up. Flames in seven.
Western Conference finals
No. 1 San Jose vs. No. 5 Calgary: These teams have a colorful playoff history. This will be the fourth meeting since 1995. San Jose leads 2-1. Just a hunch but Mikka Kiprusoff steals this one for the Flames. Calgary in seven.
No. 1 seed Boston vs. No. 8 Montreal: A bitter rivalry is renewed. Habs slumped badly in the second half. Boston should have no problem winning in five.
No. 2 Washington vs. No. 7 New York Rangers: Caps are Eastern Conference's team of destiny with all that scoring. Caps in five.
No. 3 New Jersey vs. No. 6 Carolina: Devils can't turn on the switch after a late-season slump. The Canes have that Cup look about them again. Carolina in seven.
No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Philadelphia: Ever see "Gladiator"? This isn't a loser-leave-the-state series. This is a loser dies series. Slight edge to Flyers if they can corral the big two (Crosby and Malkin). Philly in six.
Eastern Conference semis
No. 1 Boston vs. No. 6 Carolina: In what might be the best series of the playoffs, the hits and goals just keep on coming. It's run-and-gun for six games with Boston winning a bitter battle.
No. 2 Washington vs. No. 5 Philadelphia: Philly stopped the No. 2 and No. 3 best players in the NHL in the first round. It can't stop No. 1 (Ovechkin). Washington's scoring balance is too much. Caps in seven.
Eastern Conference finals
No. 1 Boston vs. No. 2 Washington: I picked an upset in the West. Might as well stay consistent. Caps outscore the Bruins in a highly entertaining series to get to their second Cup final. Washington in seven.
Stanley Cup finals
Washington vs. Calgary: Not exactly a ratings winner for the networks, but who cares? Ovechkin vs. Iginla. Green vs. Phaneuf. The teams met only once during the season but the hate will build up quickly. On the 20th anniversary of last Cup, the Flames grind it out in six.
Posted on: March 13, 2009 3:49 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2009 12:36 am
Mike Bellotti doesn't know how to keep a secret.
You could see it in his body language. Hell, you could see it in his language.
'At some point I won't be your head coach," Oregon's coach would tell recruits, "but our values won't change."
It was one of the more unique transitions of power in college athletics but now it is official. Oregon announced Friday afternoon that Oregon's longtime coach would move over to become athletic director on July 1. Recruits knew that was a possibility for the last three months. It makes the transfer of power almost seamless with Kelly already having increased power with the staff.
You knew the change was coming, and probably soon, ever since assistant Chip Kelly was named coach-in-waiting in December 2.
Bellotti basically had until March 30, the beginning of spring practice, to spit or get off the pot. Now that he is gone, Oregon might never be the same. Bellotti meshed his coaching abilities with his personality that allowed him to bond with Nike benefactor Phil Knight. Knight acted a king at times when it came to Oregon athletics, but never intruded on the crown jewel. Oregon football became a top 25 program because of the partnership of Bellotti and Knight.
Bellotti leaves as the dean of Pac-10 coaches (116-55 in 14 seasons) having led the Ducks to 12 bowl games including the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. This year's team could be poised to break USC's seven-year death grip on the conference.
Oregon a consistent winner through the decline of bitter rival Washington and the re-emergence of the Trojans, all the while Bellotti fought the annual Civil War with Oregon State. One of his final accomplishments will be a memorable ripping of the Beavers that kept them out of the Rose Bowl.
Kelly, 45, already has made his presence felt. The former New Hampshire offensive coordinator's dogged recruiting made Oregon a finalist for current Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor last year. On Monday, Kelly will find out if his efforts have paid off on Bryce Brown. Oregon is one of four programs still in the running for the nation's No. 1 recruit in the class of 2009.
"It's a great situation," Kelly said in January before a decision had been made. "That's why the situation at Oregon is as good as it gets. I have a chance to take over a top 10 program. You're AD happens to be the all-time winningest coach at the school."
The decks should be cleared for Bellotti when he takes over in his new job this summer. Current AD Pat Kilkenny will be the one having to make a decision on the future of basketball coach Ernie Kent. Women's basketball coach Bev Smith also in danger of losing her job.
Whatever happens, something soon will be named after the old coach/new AD. Bellotti Field at Autzen Stadium sounds nice. Sorry Rich Brooks.