Tag:West Virginia
Posted on: September 10, 2008 12:37 am
Edited on: September 11, 2008 12:06 pm
 

National notes

Following up on Sunday's blog: How hot is Skip Holtz? So hot that if polls were released today, the East Carolina coach's program could make a heck of an argument for being No. 1. What other schools at this point have defeated two top 20 teams that won their 
conferences last season?

So hot that agents are going to start lining up hoping to be hired.

Holtz is a unique kind of "free agent". Despite having just signed a six-year extension before the season, he does 
not have a traditional agent, choosing to work closely with his boss AD Terry Holland. His buyout, only $150,000 in 
his old deal, wouldn't scare away a school trying to hire him away.

"I'm pretty much old fashioned," Holtz told me last week. "The AD hired me, we can work on a handshake. When I need 
an agent to go in there and start negotiating I've got a problem."

It's a problem he might like to have. Holtz's next job could be a lifestyle changer. Coaches have cashed in on less 
than Holtz has accomplished just this season.

"His market value is definitely on the rise," said Matt Baldwin, a senior associate in client management with IMG 
Coaches in Minneapolis. "I think he'd be a fantastic client."

IMG is the worldwide conglomerate specializing in representation and marketing. Prior to the latest extension Holtz 
was making only $4.35 million over five seasons. His new deal guarantees $1.16 million per season. The old contract 
included modest bonuses for tickets sold and for more than five conference victories per season.

Holtz's name value alone should net him some offers after the season. The problem is there don't figure to be many 
high-profile openings. Michigan, West Virginia and UCLA all have new coaches. The only sure openings seem to be 
coming at Washington and Syracuse.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is said to be interested in Washington. With the Syracuse situation deteriorating 
rapidly, AD Daryl Gross might have difficultly landing a major-program head coach to replace Greg Robinson.

If you really want to speculate how about Louis J. (Skip) Holtz Jr. at Notre Dame some day? The former Irish walk-on 
 played for his father in 1986.

 Speaking of Leach, even he thought he was crazy Saturday against Nevada going for it twice inside his own 30. The Red Raiders failed to convert each time.

 

"I thought I gambled stupid and it was just dumb," Leach said. "Being in Reno, I guess I got the bug. I was stuck in a hotel where you don't have any clocks and they were pumping oxygen in there. I thought it was my lucky day."

 Beanie Wells is playing Saturday in The Cage Match In The Coliseum. What did you expect? You know my feelings.

 Washington's Ty Willingham seemingly changed his stance since Saturday when he supported the official who threw 
that horrid excessive celebration against his team:

"I think we all know that it was not the right call. There are rules written for them to use discretion, and in this 
case we didn't do that. Proper judgment was not used. That was not an act of a young man taunting, not an 
unsportsmanlike act at all, and therefore it should have been viewed in its totality and not just isolated as to the 
letter of the law."

Reaction around the country varied widely ...

Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt: "At the staff meeting this morning we talked about that. I'm going to show our team 
that clip and reiterate what the rules are. My initial reaction was shock. I had to see it again to see what the 
penalty was. But when you read the rule book...the official had the right to throw the flag. Did I think it was 
right? I didn't think there was any taunting going on. I know what the rule is. The official made the call that way 
but there's a gray area that needs to be talked about.

Connecticut's Randy Edsall: "I don't know why everybody got upset. It's a rule. It's simply stated in the rulebook. 
If you score, hand the ball to the nearest official. I don't know why everybody is getting upset with the officials. 
The official had no other option but to throw the flag. If he doesn't then he has a problem. The guy was doing his 
job. The kid was wrong, didn't mean it intentionally but that's part of the rule."

 Sebastian the Ibis wasn't the only one with ruffled feathers after Florida kicked that late field goal against 
Miami on Saturday night. The Gators led 23-3 with less than a minute left when Urban Meyer called for a 29-yard field goal to make the 
final score 26-3. It seemed inconsequential at the time. But it was clear after the game that the Canes were upset 
that Florida was trying to run up the score.

Coach Randy Shannon issued a terse "no comment" when asked about it. Offensive lineman Jason Fox said "If I did 
(comment), I'd probably get in trouble."

Shannon later said: "Sometimes when you do things and people see what kind of person you really are, you turn a lot of people off.

A person in the office had an interesting thought -- that it was done intentionally to cover the spread, which was 21 
1/2 points. I won't go that far. To me, it was more of a reminder that Florida is Miami's, er, witch and will stay 
that way for some time. Miami had beaten Florida six consecutive times dating back to 1985.

These things always get blown out of proportion when a rivalry is involved. It is ironic, though, that Florida coach 
Urban Meyer famously stated in his book that Georgia's bum rush of the field in Jacksonville was "a bad deal."

" ... It will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team ... We'll handle it."

 Parity? What parity? The three power conferences -- Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC -- went a combined 30-1 over the weekend. The only slacker was Ole Miss which lost to Wake Forest on a late field goal.

The Big 12 enjoyed it first 12-0 week with the WAC On Steroids continuing its offensive assault. Oklahoma State became the first team in conference history to have a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in one game (a 56-37 victory over Houston). That has been only four times in history.

The rusher was Kendall Hunter (210 yards), the receiver Dez Bryant (236 yards), the passer Zac Robinson (320 yards). The Cowboys seemingly haven't missed offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, now the head coach at South Miss. The Cowboys were eighth nationally last season in total offense averaging more than 200 yards each in rushing and passing. This year's group is 12th, once again averaging 200-200.

 In that 12-0 sweep, the Big 12 scored 71 touchdowns, 33 passing, 27 rushing and 11 on defense or special teams. The touchdown passes averaged 25 yards, the scoring runs averaged 11 yards.

 

Big 12 quarterbacks had a great "season" completing 250 of 365 for 3,475 yards and 39 touchdowns (only eight interceptions).

 The thinnest position at Utah is now thinner. Kyle Whittingham has lost starting defensive tackles at the same 
position -- with the same injury! -- in consecutive weeks. Kenape Eliapo broke his foot in the opener against 
Michigan (out six-to-eight weeks). Lei Talamaivao replaced Eliapo and broke HIS foot Saturday against UNLV.

 Nebraska linebacker Barry Turner's season is over after suffering a broken leg against San Jose State. That 
reminds us of his quote from the preseason on how much he loves playing at Nebraska.

"Once we lose a game shops close, people are sad, divorces go up. There's no other place I'd want to play."

 West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said there is a future after Saturday's loss to East Carolina: "Jesus, Mary and 
Joseph, yes. It's only the second game of the season."

 Through two games Texas Tech has seven rushing touchdowns and only two passing. In the prior two seasons, Tech has 
scored 90 passing touchdowns and 31 rushing.

 The most brutal loss last week? I can't even begin to describe it. Read on.


Posted on: September 3, 2008 2:27 pm
 

National notes

It's early but the NCAA rules committee has seemingly gotten it right with the new timing rules.

Through the first weekend, teams are averaging 68.6 plays per game, down only 3.3375 plays per team from last season (6.6675 total per game). That's tolerable because the loss of plays is minimal and, despite that, scoring is up. 
Again, it's early but teams are averaging 30.84 points per game. If it holds up that would break last season's record of 
28.38 points per team.

The big difference is in length of game. So far games have lasted only 3 hours, 8 minutes on average. That's down 
from 3:22 last season. I've taken my shots at the rules committee in the past as being too meddling. So far its 
"fixes" have worked.  After covering two games I haven't noticed the quality or the pace of the game being disturbed.

 Everyone seems to be bashing the ACC, but what about the Big East? It went 4-4 in the opening weekend, including 
embarrassing losses by Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Louisville and Syracuse. Yes, Louisville and Syracuse. The Cardinals 
losing to Kentucky is no surprise but being run out of its own building is disgraceful. A lot of us thought the 
Orange would show better against Northwestern but Syracuse lost by 20.

 

Quoting comedian Jay Mohr: "Is that a football conference or France?"

Six of the seven teams in action this week are favored (Tennessee Tech-Louisville is off the board but we're still 
assuming the Cardinals as a favorite):

Upset alerts: Watch for West Virginia (-8) going to East Carolina and Pittsburgh (-13) at home against Buffalo. 

Also watch for Cincinnati (+21 1/2) traveling to Oklahoma. Bearcats coach Brian Kelly says this game is a measuring stick for the Big East 
season. Don't be surprised if the Bearcats play this one a lot closer than anticipated.

 This might be the mantra for the season: "The little guys are tired of being the little guys and the big guys are 
getting a little fat." That's Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater to The Sporting News after beating Rutgers. 
Not sure if Rutgers qualifies yet was one of the big guys getting fat but the quote works for me.

 

 That was Fresno's 13th victory since 2001 over a BCS conference school.

 

 Iowa State used 11 true freshmen in its season-opening win against South Dakota State. Not a big deal until you 
consider that the 11 accounted for 26 of the Cyclones' 44 points.

 


Posted on: August 6, 2008 2:00 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2008 4:28 pm
 

Five things you should know about the MAC

Five things you should know about the MAC

1. Yes, Nate Davis is wearing gloves ... which is strange if you're a quarterback. Ball State's Davis was the MAC's top passer last season throwing for a conference-most 3,667 yards. No. 1 in MAC pass efficiency, Davis leads a return of the conference's top seven passers.

Ball State offensive coordinator Stan Parrish calls Davis one of the best he's ever had. That means something considering Parrish has both Super Bowl (Tampa Bay) and national championship (Michigan) rings. He worked with some guy named Brady while at Michigan.

Why the gloves? Davis, a shotgun quarterback in high school, had trouble taking the snap under center when he arrived at Ball State. Parrish suggested gloves for traction. Davis never took them off, playing some of his best games against BCS schools. Two years ago Davis threw for 250 yards against Michigan in an eight-point loss. Last season he threw for 422 yards and three scores in a one-point loss to Nebraska.

2. Postseason embarrassment. There's no doubt the MAC is better but it needs to get it going in bowls. In the last four years the league is 4-10. It lost all three bowl games, two by embarrassing scores: Rutgers beat Ball State 52-30 in the International Bowl and Tulsa laid an epic 63-7 whipping on Bowling Green in the GMAC Bowl.

3. Temple is no longer a joke. Al Golden went 4-8 in his second year with the Owls. The program hadn't won more than two games since 2002. Temple is believed to be the only I-A team with all 22 starters returning.

4. Ditto for Buffalo. In two short years, Turner Gill has led Buffalo to respectability. The Bulls were 5-7 last season, the program's best record this decade. Gill will be Nebraska's coach some day if the success continues.  He's just not ready yet. In the offseason his name came up for the Huskers vacancy.

5. Play up. It would be nice for the MAC to start winning some of these non-conference games against BCS schools. The conference went 5-37 against BCS-conference programs last season. Maybe the news is that Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Kent State each actually beat one of the big boys.

Last year there were embarrassments like MAC champion Central Michigan's 52-7 loss at Kansas and Western Michigan's 38-point loss at West Virginia. Toledo did beat Iowa State but it also lost to Purdue and Kansas by a combined 60 points.

This season MAC teams play 10 games against teams currently ranked in the coaches' poll. Games to watch this season: Akron at Wisconsin, Aug. 30; Central Michigan at Georgia, Sept. 6; Western Michigan at Nebraska, Aug. 30; Northern Illinois at Minnesota, Aug. 30; Toledo at Arizona, Sept. 6; Bowling Green at Pittsburgh, Aug. 30; Vanderbilt at Miami (Ohio) on Aug. 28 followed by the RedHawks' trip to Michigan on Sept. 6; Boston College plays Kent State in Cleveland on Aug. 30.

There is hope: Five years ago MAC teams beat five ranked teams.

Posted on: July 31, 2008 6:29 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2008 6:30 pm
 

Pat White speaks but does clarify nor apologize

More than two days after West Virginia quarterback Pat white blasted the WVU baseball coach, the school issued this statement for White on Thursday afternoon:

 "Thinking back on my recent comments at Big East media day, I believe that I may have overstated my feelings on college baseball and the WVU baseball program. I have not played collegiate baseball in the past because I have concentrated on football and building on our success with my football family. I am sorry my comments have caused so many distractions. I am looking forward to putting this behind me and getting on the practice field with my teammates on Saturday."  

That's not exactly an apology. White is sorry his comments have caused so many distractions, but he hasn't backed off the fact that he thinks baseball coach Greg Van Zant is a racist. To me, Van Zant is still hanging out there. How is the guy going to recruit? White said he was troubled by the lack of African-Americans on the baseball team. (There are none) But the fact is there were none on at least six Big East baseball teams this past season.

 

It is a reflection of a larger problem. The NCAA participation rate for African-Americans is six percent, basically what it has been since the association started keeping such stats in 2000.


I did get these comments from Rutgers' Fred Hill Sr., the dean of Big East baseball coaches:

 

"My relationship with Greg has always been first class. He's always been a gentleman and acted first class to us. I wouldn't comment on that ... I wouldn't comment on Greg's feelings.

"The inner city kids seem to gravite toward football and basketball. We have some excellent African-American men on our team. I can't speak for anybody else. We're located in a metro area so we may have more access to some (players)."

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 30, 2008 11:03 am
Edited on: July 30, 2008 11:58 am
 

Pat White drops a bomb instead of throwing one

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Pat White seemed a bit surly on Tuesday but sometimes that's Pat White.

West Virginia's quarterback can be moody at times. That's OK, it's a rough world. The question seems to be, what  does he have to be moody about? White has thrived in Rich Rodriguez' offense to the point that he is 784 yards away from being the all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks. He is a Heisman candidate, the heart and soul of the Mountaineers.

New coach Bill Stewart spent part of Tuesday's Big East media day talking White up as an NFL prospect. Stewart wanted his quarterback to play baseball this spring just to see his athleticism in a different sport. Stewart said White told him he couldn't hit the curve ball. White then told reporters a different reason.

"In my knowledge of West Virginia baseball, there's not been many players of my race on his team," White was quoted as saying of baseball coach Greg Van Zant. "He's not too high on it."


I spoke to White and some of his teammates during the media day. I wasn't there when White spoke those words. The closest he came was when I asked him about playing baseball White said, "I couldn't play for West Virginia." Later, though, another reporter did mention the incendiary comments to me. How do you treat something like that when you haven't heard it yourself? It's like handling hot coals. Everyone can be burned.

The Charleston Daily Mail had a lenghtly piece on White's comments on Wednesday.


This we know: Van Zant has been at West Virginia 14 years and won 413 games. Twenty-nine of his players have been drafted and he has coached five All-Americans. Last season's 34-man roster did not include any African-Americans. White might know more -- Van Zant isn't speaking -- but baseball in general has a problem lately drawing African-Americans to the sport. I've been to the last 17 College World Series. I can't remember a time when there were less diverse rosters than this year. The number of African-Americans in Major League Baseball is down significantly.


So if West Virginia's baseball roster doesn't have any African-Americans, it could be a sign of the times. Maybe there is more to it. One thing is sure: Pat White has smeared Van Zant.  West Virginia baseball will never be the same. Maybe it shouldn't be but now the world will be clamoring for some sort of clarification/reinforcement/denial -- whatever -- from White.


You don't drop a racial bomb and then head out to practice like nothing happened.  I'm not saying White is wrong. I'm saying I don't know. I found myself in the uncomfortable situation of leaving a message for Van Zant in his office seeking comment.

"Every player I've talked to doesn't like him," White went on to say about Van Zant. "He's not a well-liked coach, but I guess he has tenure so they never got rid of him. They're not successful at all."

Every coach has his detractors -- from Krzyzewski to Knight. It's no surprise then that there is a site, gvz-sucks.com, that is dedicated to ripping Greg Van Zant as a coach. The coach is criticized for everything from batting his catcher leadoff to bunting with a five-run lead in the eighth inning.


I'm a bit uncomfortable even noting that since, like a lot of the blogosphere, it is posted anonymously. But so what, it's a free country? The real story is White basically calling Van Zant a racist. That means that, for now, it's no longer about chasing a Heisman or a national championship at West Virginia. The next words out of Pat White's mouth better include some sort of reference to the baseball coach. 

Understandly, AD Ed Pastilong is in scramble mode. He issued a statement Tuesday reinforcing the school's commitment to diversity.


"We're trying to do damage control," one staffer said.


It's Wednesday morning and this thing hasn't hit the four-letter yet but when it does it might push Brett Favre off the 24-hour loop. That would be the good thing but let's not trivialize this. The West Virginia athletic department and Van Zant's rep are suspended in mid-air until Pat White speaks again.

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 29, 2008 8:24 am
 

Five things you should know about the Big East...

 

1. Can things get any better? Left for dead after the ACC expansion, the Big East has more than pulled its weight. 
It is 8-2 the past two seasons in bowls. It had four teams ranked in the AP 10 at various times in 2007. West Virginia is a national championship contender. The middle of the league is a strong as any league, except the SEC -- Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida and Connecticut. Commissioner Mike Tranghese deserves a lifetime achievement award in his final season.

2. Bill Stewart, come on down: The West Virginia assistant's surprising battlefield promotion after the Fiesta Bowl win was one of the more surprising developments of 2007. Now the former Rich Rodriguez assistant must produce. The Mountaineers are loaded this season with Rich Rod's leftovers. But Stewart has shown an ability to recruit too. West Virginia has 13 commitments and is actually slowing down recruiting in order to balance out the class. Too many skill players want to follow in the footsteps of Pat White and Steve Slaton. Stewart needs more linemen. His first recruiting class (2009) could provide the foundation for years to come.

3. The hottest of seats is at Syracuse: Along with Washington's Tyrone Willingham, Greg Robinson is considered one of the first coaches to be fired. He has won seven games in three seasons, never more than four in any year. There has been little improvement in a program that used to be a regular resident of the top 25. The only weak sister in the Big East has to play at Northwestern, West Virginia, South Florida, Rutgers and Notre Dame as well as a home game against Penn State. Where should we forward your mail, Greg?

4. South Florida is not going South: That wasn't a fluke last season when the Bulls rose to No. 2 in the country. D coordinator Wally Burnham has built a crushing unit led by returning All-American George Selvie. Quarterback Matt Grothe doesn't fit in any category, he just wins. Don't be surprised if South Florida is undefeated going to West Virginia on Dec. 6.

5. Pittsburgh is headed ... You tell me: Up? Down? The upset of West Virginia provided momentum and Dave Wannstedt has recruited well but the world is waiting to see the Panthers take the next step. A second-place Big East finish is doable, especially with under-the-radar Heisman candidate LeSean McCoy at tailback.

 

Posted on: July 11, 2008 12:36 pm
 

The final word on The $4 Million Dollar Man

Bill Martin is a businessman, a great one judging by his resume. A billion-dollar developer of residential and commercial property, Michigan's AD also founded the Bank of Ann Arbor before moving to the athletic side.

It's hard to figure, then, how Martin ever let it get to this point at Michigan. Columnists with a lot more business acumen than me have been torturing keyboards this week in the analysis of Rich Rodriguez' buyout agreement. See, it isn't an agreement at all. It was a bailout. Michigan is picking up $2.5 million of the $4 million Rich Rod owes West Virginia.

Martin had to know it was going to end this way -- with his coach owing the entire $4 mil and Michigan paying part of the bill. I have questions. Then, below, I have some comments from Rodriguez from a June interview.

--Did Martin, that shrewd businessman, read the court documents? In hindsight, it was a fairly cut-and-dried deal.

--How did he not tell Rodriguez that the coach didn't have much wriggle room on this one? In the end the issue was simple: The coach's name was on the contract agreeing to the buyout.

--Assuming Martin did his due diligence why wasn't this issue addressed before, or shortly before, Rodriguez signed at Michigan? Shoving the two-ton elephant to the corner is the exact same thing Rodriguez did when he signed his last West Virginia contract.

Instead, Rodriguez, West Virginia and Michigan were needlessly dragged through the mud. Obama has handlers to spin things when the presidential candidate dares to deviate from his well-crafted script.
 

Colleges have, well, I've said this for years ... College athletics needs an image consultant. From ham-handed SIDS and public information officers (the overwhelming majority are great people, by the way), to despotic coaches to bankers-turned-AD, the industry knows squat about crisis management. It knows how to let coaches shut down practices. It knows how to limit media access to players whose scholarships are subsidized by the public. It knows how to let a coach chase rainbows in court.

Just being congenial human beings sometimes is a lost art. We long for fall Saturdays and March Madness. We get seat licenses sucking loyal alums dry. We get tuition increases to pay for flat screens in players' lockers. We get ... corporate b.s. There's a situation in Kansas right now involving the university and a local T-shirt maker. Larry Sinks owns JoeCollege.com in Lawrence, Kan. (please, look it up). Kansas contends in a lawsuit that Sinks' is selling unlicensed Kansas gear.

Sinks does not use Kansas trademarks or logos. In fact, the shirts are some of the most devious and creative I've ever seen.

--In reference to overweight coach Mark Mangino: Our Coach is Phat!
--Same reference: Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach
--Transpose the first letters and you'll find out what KU thinks of rival Missouri: Muck Fizzou

Kansas is no different from most schools when it comes to "officially licensed" merch. It is tired, old, over-priced and pretty much sucks. As a longtime consumer of logo gear let me say this: Creativity (and affordability) go out the door when licenses are signed.

The school, obviously, is making a killing on its stuff after winning basketball's national championship. According to Sinks, he is trying to get through life day to day after being slapped with the lawsuit. His storefront on Massachusetts St. in Lawrence is unassuming and modest. But apparently Kansas has determined Sinks has established a lucrative beach head in raiding the school's coffers.

Kansas essentially is trying to say it owns the rights to the color blue and the word "Kansas". The case could be landmark if the jury decides that a shirt with the phrase "If You Mess With The Bird, You Get The Beak," constitutes a licensing violation.

The state itself is named after the Kansa Indian tribe. Using NCAA logic, the school should be barred from wearing anything with the word "Kansas" on it. The NCAA has set arbitrary rules for schools using Indian nicknames. How is Illini "hostile and abusive", as the NCAA put it, and the state name, Illinois, isn't. Both refer to Indian tribes?

How "Seminoles" is less offensive than Indians or Tribe (William and Mary) is a case of palms being greased. The Seminole tribe has a business arrangement with Florida State.

Anyway, back to Rich Rod. Back in June he told me that West Virginia's intent was extend the lawsuit into the fall; not only bleed him dry but distract him from his job. With fall practice looming, it became time for everyone to move on.

Here is Rodriguez' take on the issues taken from that early June interview in Ann Arbor:

 "I was always pushing for things for the program at West Virginia. But that was my job. People say I was petty. I was thinking the other way.

"I was told (by administration), 'Don't worry about (the buyout) ...  We'll reduce it or eliminate it. I don't believe in buyouts.' That's what I was told by the No. 1 boss at the school (president Michael Garrison).

"(I was told), 'We've got to get (the contract) done right now. There's pressure from the governor, to the board to the president.' Maybe I should have had an attorney present. I was getting ready to start practice in a week.

"I probably didn't tell enough in my deposition, how many times I was told, 'Just trust us." That phrase, 'Just trust me,' went on for five or six months.

"I had a meeting with the president before I left. One of the things I said was, 'Here I've been at a place seven years and we've done some pretty good things. You're telling me no to everything. Where there's another school with great tradition, great opportunity telling me, yes.' I said 'I'm getting confused. It should be the other way around.' That was probably the most shocking thing to me, the actions of the president."

Finally, let's end this mega-blog with an anecdote. Shortly after Rodriguez took the Michigan job, his wife Rita was back in West Virginia grocery shopping. A bag boy noticed the Michigan plates while taking the groceries to her car.

"When you go back to Michigan, tell that guy Rodriguez, 'Blah, blah, blah,' Rodriguez quoted the bag boy as saying.

"That's my husband," Rita Rodriguez said.

"Why did he leave?" the bagger replied.

After relaying the story, Rodriguez leaned back and said, "It's time to move on."

Consider that the last words on the subject. Aren't you ready for some football, Michigan?

 

Posted on: May 29, 2008 3:12 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2008 3:24 pm
 

Speed Inc.

Notes on the speed series that concluded on Thursday:

Mike Golden knows speed. However, you probably don't know Mike Golden. He is East Carolina's strength coach which in the college football world doesn't open many doors.

Golden quietly tutored one of the fastest players in the country the past three years. Chris Johnson led the country in all-purpose yardage last season, including a bowl record 408 yards in the Hawaii Bowl. Johnson was taken last month in the first round of the NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans.

"When we first got here, it was his sophomore year and he ran a 4.33 and (vertical jumped) 38 inches," Golden said. "When we got him he was down to 4.24 and jumped 43 1/2 inches."

Golden is not the only "speed" guy across the nation. Miami set the standard with speed coach Andrew Swayze. Ohio State has been using former Olympic sprinter Butch Reynolds. Every time you hear the designation "speed coach" it raises the age old question: Is it possible to teach speed. Swayze has helped develop a load of first-round draft choices. Reynolds says it's a combination of speed plus balance. Ohio State has been criticized for being slow when it comes to BCS title games.

Two things: Ohio State was good enough to get to the BCS title game and it hurts when your fastest player goes down. The Bucks lost Ted Ginn Jr. early in the 2007 BCS title game against Florida. It was downhill from there.

"A lot of people miss the fact that you've got to be strong to be fast," Golden said. "All they're worried about is stride length and stride frequency. We teach them how to run. We have a speed school. We show them from ground zero."

Golden says he "scours different things" -- DVDs, journals, articles -- for speed technique.

"I'm a good thief," he said.

Pirates coach Skip Holtz first hired Golden in 1998 at Connecticut, and then hired him away from South Carolina after coming to East Carolina in December 2004. While it's hard to quantify the results of speed, there is a basic indicator: Holtz' record the past two seasons (15-11) is the best for East Carolina since 1999-2000.

"Our first year and a half here we couldn't work on speed because we weren't strong enough," he said. "We would have blown hamstrings all over the place."

 Now he's crediting some of that speed training for the Pirates' Hawaii Bowl win over Boise State.

"When we went to that first bowl game (in 2006) we fell flat on our face," Golden said of a 24-7 loss to South Florida in the Papajohns.com Bowl. "It took us 18 hours to get to Hawaii, then we ran their guts off. We let them know we're on a business trip. That got their attention real quick. They thought we were going right to the hotel."

There are times Golden can determine in warm-ups if an opponent does speed work.

"I can tell how guys bend how fluid guys move," he said. "It's definitely an edge. Our kids will come to the sideline and say, 'These guys can't run.'

No one player will take Johnson's place this season. Junior running back J.R. Rogers will be part of a committee. He is the fastest Pirate at 4.32. Defensive end C.J. Wilson (6-foot-4, 271) ran a 4.55 at the program's recent NFL timing day. That would have been one of the fastest times at February's NFL combine.

  We only included 20 players on the fastest list on Tuesday. Here are a few others to consider (alphabetical):

Cam Baker, WR, Memphis, 4.35 40

Tim Brown, WR, Rutgers, 4.25

Rashard Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech, 4.38

Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia, 4.30

Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pittsburgh, 4.38

Brandon Dillard, WR, Virginia Tech, 4.28

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland, 4.23

Correy Earls, WR, Georgia Tech, 4.36

Patrick George, CB, Northern Illinois, 10.4 100 (high school)

Dante Lamar, DB, Memphis, 4.35

Emani Lee-Odai, WR, Maryland, 4.29

Scott Long, WR, Louisville, 4.24

Wopamo Osaisai, CB, Stanford, 10.39 100

Jock Sanders, WR, West Virginia, 4.33

Carlos Singleton, WR, Memphis, 4.37

Woodney Turenne, CB, Louisville, 4.33

Pat White, QB, West Virginia, 4.45

 

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