Tag:Illinois
Posted on: June 5, 2009 3:36 pm
 

Predicting the bling ...

We're all Heisman candidates in June. Mom, dad, the plumber, the cat. Well, maybe not the cat.

This is the time of year to salute every swinging hick who dares to dream of a trip to New York. With that in mind, here are my Heisman rankings.

1. Colt McCoy, Texas -- It's his time. Among the Three Amigos, it's his turn.
2. Tim Tebow, Florida -- Voters will be wary of making Superman a two-time winner. There has only been one.
3. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- Back-to-back ain't happenin' either.
4. Jevan Snead. Ole Miss -- This year's Matt Stafford.
5. Jahvid Best, Cal -- No. 3 rusher last season, should be the nation's leading rusher in 2009.
6. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech -- The hoss in Paul Johson's option offense.
7. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 1
8. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 2
9. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State --  Cowboy No. 3
10. Case Keenum, Houston -- 5,000-yard passer.

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

 

 

Posted on: June 4, 2009 1:05 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2009 1:36 pm
 

Picking the Mountain West

The Mountain West needs to focus, look closer. Capitol Hill's favorite conference spent the offseason pitching its case to Congress and challenging the BCS.  

But let's be clear. It was the coaches poll -- the prove-it-on-the-field guys -- that hit Utah with a lead pipe with its final regular-season poll.

The Utes finished No. 7. Seventh, for what turned out to be the nation's only undefeated major-college team. Utah's chances were dead before it got that Sugar Bowl bid. Great result and all that in New Orleans but let's analyze why the Utes couldn't play for it all.

There's a bias, all right. It comes from the coaches. The Harris poll also voted Utah seventh before the bowls but it almost gets a pass. The Harris voters aren't in the business, lining their pockets with bowl money, at the same time denying two major-college teams (Boise was undefeated in the regular season too) a better bowl fate.

The coaches, dear Mountain West, are the ones who have drawn the line -- and it clearly doesn't include teams from below the BCS level. Is that about to change? We'll see with the Mountain West sporting three possible BCS busters again this season (Utah, BYU, TCU). 

Only the top two teams in the BCS play in the national championship. The winner gets the coaches poll automatic No. 1 vote (or is supposed to). 

Heck, Utah was only able to make it up to No. 4 in the coaches after beating Alabama by two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

The BCS might be unfair to the great unwashed non-BCS school but it is unfair mostly because the voting coaches -- by and large -- don't take those schools seriously. (Remember, Utah finished second in the Associated Press media poll. It was fifth among the computers.)

Guess who had the majority of the coaches votes last season? Thirty-seven of the 61 voting coaches came from BCS conferences (61 percent). The power conference schools make up only 55 percent of Division I-A. 

The Mountain West voters were New Mexico's Rocky Long (Utah, No. 7 before the bowls); TCU's Gary Patterson (No. 7) and Utah's Kyle Whittingham (No. 5). Whittingham voted his Utes No. 1 after the Sugar Bowl.

The Mountain West has done its best to make all of this clear.  Unfortunately, it will be another five seasons, at least, before any kind of playoff can be staged.

Until then, there is a hope. Short of a playoff, we learned in January that the Mountain West could gain automatic BCS access by 2012
The noble fight goes on in 2009 with Utah expected to repeat as conference champions. Don't tell TCU and BYU, though.

Picking the Mountain West ... 

1. Utah -- Give Whittingham credit. He didn't mope around after getting shafted. He didn't skip town for a bright, shiny new job. He stuck to the task. Losing quarterback Brian Johnson, kicker/punter Louie Sakoda and defensive end Paul Kruger won't be hard with 24 redshirt freshmen returning, not including three players back from missions. Remember the name Corbin Louks at quarterback. 

2. BYU -- Along the Wasatch Range they're talking about the Cougars the way the rest of the nation is talking about Utah. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has won 32 games the past three seasons while winning two Mountain West titles. This year's team is loaded and gets the Utes at home to finish the regular season. Best sign? The last four times BYU has had a senior quarterback, it has won the league. Senior Max Hall is the Mountain West's best at his position. Defensive end Jan Jorgensen is the league's career sack leader.

3. TCU -- Coach Gary Patterson specializes in taking high school running backs and turning them into defensive terrors. Get ready, then, for All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes to cause more damage. Hughes was handed a defensive number when he got to Fort Worth and went to work. Last year he led the nation with 15 sacks. TCU's unit as a whole led the nation giving up only 47 rushing yards. If the Frogs are going to jump over Utah, they can't get bogged down offensively. Last year's 13-10 loss in Salt Lake City was a killer.

4. Air Force -- It has been a seamless transition from Fisher DeBerry to Troy Calhoun who has won 17 games in his first two seasons in Colorado Springs. The option offense continues to be the great equalizer. The Falcons should win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Beyond that, we're wondering if Air Force is the team that started 8-2 in '08 or the one that lost its last three.

5. UNLV -- Mike Sanford likely saved his job by winning five games last season. Bowl eligibility is a definite possibility this season. That's saying a lot for a program that has had one winning season in the last 14. Ryan Wolfe is the leading returning receiver in the league (88 catches, six touchdowns).

6. New Mexico -- First-time, first-year coach Mike Locksley has made his share of waves since arriving in the high desert. He injected some energy in what had become a lazy program. He used his recruiting prowess to snatch a few players from the Washington, D.C. area. Above all else, Locksley, the former Illinois OC, needs a Juice Williams-like presence at quarterback. Recruit Emmanuel Yeager left school recently to go back to D.C. That might have set the position back considering incumbent Donovan Porterie was recruited by Rocky Long to run the option. 

7. Colorado State -- Steve Fairchild took the Rams from 3-9 to 7-6 (and a bowl win) in his first season. That tied for the most wins since 2002. The defense must get better after giving up 30 points per game. A veteran offensive line could spring junior tailback John Mosure for a big year.

8. Wyoming -- Dave Christensen, his Hog and his spread offense blew into Laramie from Missouri promising  more appealing football. Christensen was the OC at Missouri for Chase Daniel and the Tigers' record-setting offense. Last season Wyoming's offense averaged less than 13 points per game. There's no one on the roster close to resembling Daniel. Let's hope that Christensen's motorcycle isn't the program's most entertaining feature.

9. San Diego State -- Still trying to figure out why Brady Hoke made this lateral move from Ball State to take this job. Sure, Ball State wouldn't bump up salaries for Hoke's assistants. Is that a reason to go to the worst program in the Mountain West? Brady, your career is at risk here. 
Posted on: December 14, 2008 10:40 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2008 10:51 pm
 

Brady Hoke to San Diego State

Brady Hoke is the new coach at San Diego State, CBSSports.com learned Sunday night.

The news leaked early in the evening after Ball State's season-ending banquet. Hoke parlayed a once-in-a-lifetime season in Muncie into a job full of potential on West Coast. For years, San Diego State has been a sleeping giant but couldn't find consistency. It wasn't that long ago that Marshall Faulk and Dan McGwire were starring for the Aztecs.

Playing in a pro town in a cavernous stadium has been a drawback but not not that the right coach can't overcome. Hoke is 34-38 in six seasons at Ball State. It is not clear if he will coach in the Cardinals' bowl game.  

Offensive coordinator Stan Parrish, the architect of the high-powered offense, would logically be considered a candidate to replace Hoke. The former Kansas State head coach has both a national championship and Super Bowl ring.

"We're all kind of in limbo here," a member of the Ball State staff told CBSSports.com Sunday night.

It's been a good year for Trace Armstrong who placed two of his clients in nice jobs. Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley took over New Mexico. Now Hoke is cashing at San Diego State. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 8, 2008 10:09 am
Edited on: December 8, 2008 7:05 pm
 

Mike Locksley at New Mexico

Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will be introduced as the new coach at New Mexico on Tuesday. CBBSports.com first reported Monday that Locksley was the front runner and likely to be hired this week.

Locksley just completed his fourth season at Illinois and is known for his recruiting ability. He is credited with opening up the Washington, D.C. area to the Illini. It was there that head coach Ron Zook was able to snag standout receiver Arrelious Benn.

Locksley's name came up at Syracuse but obviously the Orange are going a different direction. East Carolina coach Skip Holtz shot down a report that he had accepted the job over the weekend. However, he remains interested.

The 38-year-old Locksley is a Washington, D.C. native and coached with Zook for two years at Florida. He does not have any apparent ties with New Mexico. Locksley received much credit for the Illini getting to the Rose Bowl last season. However, the offense struggled this season and quarterback Juice Williams' output declined.

Rocky Long resigned on Nov. 17 at New Mexico after 11 seasons as head coach.

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 3, 2008 10:31 am
 

National notes

Expect a lot of Big 12-SEC sniping going forward because we're assured of a national championship game between the two best conferences. Here is a heck of a place to start ...

I understand who Gary Danielson works for and where his loyalties are but he dropped quite a bomb this week when the CBS analyst ripped the Big 12:

"This year there is a distortion about how good the Big 12 is," said CBS' color analyst on SEC games. "It's illogical that there are three teams in the Big 12 that are 1, 2 and 4 (actually 3, 4 and 8). To me it means a weakness in the rest of the league."

Three in the top 10 is a weakness? What kind of logic are we supposed to apply, then, to the SEC which has Nos. 1 and 2? The league must be really weak to have two teams ... in the top two.

"The (offensive) stats in the Big 12 are like pesos to me," Danielson continued, suggesting those numbers are devalued.

Pesos?

The criticism, obviously, is of the Big 12 defenses. That's a valid point but let's make these things clear. 1) These are major-college athletes, several of which will play in the NFL. We're not talking the WAC here. 2) This is the best the Big 12 has been in its 13-year existence. 3) We should all agree that the SEC and Big 12 are far and away the best leagues this season.

I've already make a case for the Big 12 being slightly ahead using the third-team tiebreaker. The third-best team in the Big 12 is 11-1 Texas Tech. The third-best team in the SEC might be 8-4 Ole Miss.

If Big 12 numbers are pesos, what's the exchange rate on all those Alabama sacks against inept SEC offenses?

My point all season has been that the excellence of the Big 12 and SEC should be embraced. Defense isn't necessarily better than offense. It's just the way the conferences have developed this season.

Me: Why are all those stats piled up in the Big 12 considered "pesos" and the fact they're playing 3-2 games in the SEC different? Why is one better than the other?

Danielson: "The SEC has better defensive players. It has better defensive linemen, more NFL linebackers. Go check out the draft the last 10-15 years and find out where the NFL players (are).

The NFL doesn't draft guys because they've got nice uniforms or come from a conference that's highly rated in the BCS. There are more NFL-ready bodies in this league than any other league in this frame of time. But right now there's a deficiency of quarterbacks in this league.

You might be a pretty good quarterback. You might be able to survive in another league. If you aren't really good in this league they'll chew you up."

More Danielson on the Big 12 tiebreaker controversy: "I know it can't happen, I'm just throwing it out there: They should just ask Missouri to step aside (to be replaced by Texas). This is a once in a lifetime thing ... I wish, the commissioner of the Big 12 would have said, for the good of the conference let's let them replay this thing in the Big 12 championship."

A glimpse into how CBS is going to promote Saturday's SEC title game: "This essentially is what amounts to a BCS semifinal," said Mike Aresco, CBS vice president, programming. "I racked my brain to see whether I could remember a previous situation like this. I can't remember when the winner would almost be assured a spot."

Good call. There have been seven 1 vs. 2 games (ranked in AP) since January 2005. This is the first 1-2 game in a conference championship contest. The last three consecutive 1 vs. 2 games have involved SEC teams. However, this is the first 1 vs. 2 game in AP poll history featuring two SEC teams.

Hmm, must signify a weakness in the rest of the league.

 

 Say goodbye to the Big 12 championship game in Kansas City this week.

 

One of the unintended consequences of Kansas' defeat of Missouri on Saturday was that it probably sealed Jerry Jones argument that the Big 12 championship game should be moved permanently to Dallas.


The footing was so bad for the annual Border War game at Arrowhead Stadium that the quality of play likely will be used as ammunition against Kansas City. The game was played in a combination of snow, sleet and rain. It looked like the field had never been covered prior to the precipitation.

Missouri plays at Arrowhead for the second consecutive week Saturday, this time against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Looking at game tape this week, OU coach Bob Stoops called the conditions "horrible."

The Cowboys owner, building a state-of-the-art stadium in the Dallas suburbs, is on record as saying he wants to host the Big 12 game on a permanent basis. The Big 12 game will be played in the new indoor stadium in 2009 and 2010.

Moving the game permanently would be a shame. The tradition of the old Big Eight has been moved out of its Kansas City brick-by-brick over the years. First, the office was relocated to Dallas, then the Big 12 basketball tournament was taken away and shared around the region.

A fair trade-off would be Kansas City getting the basketball tournament in a permanent basis and Dallas getting football. We all know that what Jerry wants, Jerry gets.

 Here's what is wrong with the conference championship games: Missouri.

 


It is perhaps the most undeserving team in a league title game this weekend. The darlings of 2007 have limped to the finish line in 2008, eventually ended tied with Nebraska for the Big 12 North.

The Tigers played like a team that had clinched a division title Saturday in losing to rival Kansas 40-37. One of the best games in the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi also pointed up how far the Tigers had fallen emotionally.

They mailed in an effort early on falling behind Kansas 26-10. By the time they woke up, the Jayhawks had confidence and a porous Missouri defense of which to take advantage.

The shame is that if Missouri somehow rallies and beats No. 4 Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, a BCS bowl would be a false reward.

The Tigers, 9-3, have no signature wins, have beaten one, long-ago ranked team (Illinois) and are coming off perhaps their worst effort of the season . Kansas coach Mark Mangino stated afterward he had 10 players who couldn't walk at the beginning of the week.  The Jayhawks willed themselves onto the field.

The Tigers mailed it in. But, they are in the Big 12 game and if by some miracle they are able to defeat the Sooners, they will be playing in the Fiesta Bowl.

Danielson might be right on that one. Missouri should step aside. Texas is waiting.

Posted on: December 2, 2008 11:17 pm
 

More coaching news from your hack-in-waiting

Nice move by Oregon to lock up Chip Kelly. Whether the move was accelerated by Syracuse's interest or not, it made sense. Kelly has been around only two seasons. It has been long enough to prove himself. In 2007, Oregon led the Pac-10 in scoring. This season, the Ducks lead the league in total offense. That's what you want out of your offensive coordinator.

Let's see, that makes five coaches in waiting: Kentucky, Purdue, Texas, Florida State and Oregon.

 Sometimes all you have to do break the code in these coaching searches. Cincinnati's Brian Kelly announced Tuesday that he was staying at the school. His name had been most recently linked to Notre Dame.

 

Kelly's action signaled to me that Notre Dame had decided to keep Charlie Weis. Otherwise, Kelly wouldn't have made a grandstand move out of sticking around at Cincinnati. Sure enough, Tuesday night it was announced that Weis would be back for his sixth season.

The best option for Notre Dame might be to wait a year, suck it up, and see if it can shake loose Urban Meyer. It's going to be incredibly awkward to pursue Meyer anyway at this point. The former ND assistant has at least a BCS bowl and maybe a national championship game to prepare for in Gainesville.

ND might be wise to ride out a choppy 2009 if it allows easier access to Meyer. The coach has said on numerous occassions that Notre Dame was his dream job. That was <>before<> he found happiness in Gainesville.

One of ND's few advantages are Meyer's success, strangely enough. If he wins his second national championship in three years at Florida, what is there left to accomplish?

 We have our first confirmation that Mike Leach has shown interest in the Washington job. The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that Leach had been in Seattle, ostensibly to interview. At the the same time, Texas Tech is readying a raise and extension offer. It better hurry. If U-Dub president Mark Emmert can get past Leach's quirky ways (and wardrobe), Washington just might have its next coach.

 

Leach had stoned potential suitors until after the season so he could concentrate on football.

 Syracuse is all over the map according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. The 'Cuse has interviewed or will interview Temple coach Al Golden, Eagles assistant Mark Whipple, Bengals assistant Paul Alexander, Florida assistant Steve Addazio, Saints offensive coordinator Doug Marrone and Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.

 

Buffalo's Turner Gill and East Carolina's Skip Holtz are also still in the mix.


Posted on: November 21, 2008 4:33 pm
 

Locksley interviews at Clemson

Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has been interviewed by Clemson according to at least two outlets -- the Anderson (S.C.)  Independent-Mail and Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette.

Locksley's name first came up for the Syracuse opening but Clemson seems a much better fit. The program is ready to win now and Locksley brings an impressive offensive resume. He opened up the Washington, D.C. area to Illinois from where it plucked 2007 All-American Vontae Davis and receiver Arrellious Benn.

The interview reportedly took place in Detroit two weeks ago when the Illini were there to play Western Michigan. Illinois concludes its regular season Saturday at Northwestern needing a win to become bowl eligible.

Posted on: November 16, 2008 9:09 pm
 

A dysfunctional end at Syracuse and a candidate

A week after Syracuse officially dropped from bowl contention, 24 hours after senior day, now -- now  -- they decide to fire Greg Robinson.

Like everything else about the Robinson era, this made no sense. AD Daryl Gross explained the firing as if Robinson had been some sort of serial killer.

"We just thought at this point the community could relax," he said.

Huh?

What exactly does Gross gain by firing Robinson now, especially since the coach will stay for the final two games of the season? Something must have gotten into ADs' coffee this year. Robinson became the sixth coach to be fired/resign during the season.  

Gross does have his first official candidate. Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley told me Sunday night, in a roundabout way, that he would be interested.

"Obviously being a head coach is an ultimate goal of mine," Locksley said, "whether it's a BCS or non-BCS school. I'm not in a hurry."

Locksley said he had not been contacted, although his name has circulated as a possible candidate for a while. The 48-year-old is in his fourth season under Ron Zook. Before that he was with Zook at Florida making a reputation as one of the nation's best recruiters. Locksley is responsible for opening up the Washington D.C. area to Illinois. They snatched current stars defensive back Vontae Davis and receiver Arrelious Benn from the area.

Illinois signed Locksley to an extension that runs through the 2012 season after West Virginia inquired about interviewing late last year. The coach makes approximately $500,000 per season, making him one of the highest paid coordinators in the country.

Syracuse already has employed headhunter Chuck Neinas. Former Raiders and USC coach Lane Kiffin is known to be interested and has ties to Gross, a former USC associate AD. The name of New Orleans offensive coordinator Doug Marrone has surfaced as well. Marrone played at Syracuse from 1983-85. He currently oversees the NFL's No. 1 offense. 

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