Blog Entry

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:41 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 5:08 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send questions to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS. 

From @Feldyman15 Urban Meyer is a proven winner, however does his style of offense translate to the B1G? Will it be a smooth transition?

Nice to see a question from my favorite former FCS star football player. Meyer's had success everywhere he's been. He's proven he's willing--and capable--of tweaking his offense to suit the personnel he inherits. He's not rigid.

The key thing about him taking over in Columbus is the most important component to his system that he inherited (the dual-threat triggerman) happens to be an ideal fit for what Meyer loves to do. As I wrote a while back when Meyer got hired, he's been sky high on Braxton Miller since long before he took the job. That said, Miller's still a young QB and there are bound to be growing pains. A bigger challenge will be that OSU has to replace three very good O-linemen and there are no proven wideouts to rely on. There will be some rocky moments, but I expect this to be a top 25 team, in part because of Miller's talent, in part because of some playmakers on a seasoned defense and because Meyer's a great, not good, coach.

From @NYWolverine2 Do you think Urban Meyer's spread will work in the B1G since RR failed?

First off, RichRod's problems in the Big Ten weren't because of his offense. In his final season in Ann Arbor, when he finally had many of the pieces in place to run his system, the Wolverines were eighth in the nation in total offense (and first in the Big Ten). Rodriguez isn't still in Ann Arbor because he never got the right defensive coordinator.

If Meyer's system worked in the SEC, it can work anywhere. And if anyone's going to suggest that because of the challenges a program's defense faces on a daily basis at practice because you own offense, like Rodriguez hinders a D's development, keep in mind that Meyer's former defensive coordinator at Florida was Greg Mattison, the guy who has made the biggest difference in Brady Hoke's success at UM.

On top of that, Meyer is riding such a wave of good energy right now since he was hired. He is killing it in recruiting and finished the 2012 class with a flurry. And that heat is only intensifying. Earlier this week, OSU got a commitment from one of the top O-line prospects in the midwest, Evan Lisle, who picked the Buckeyes over, among others, Alabama and OU. Meyer already snagged a five-star guy in Cameron Burrows and Jalin Marshall was another Ohio kid who virtually everyone was after.

From @BrianTrageser What offense are you most excited to watch in 2012?

There are so many intriguing dynamics to look forward to this fall. The ones that most jump out at me as I went through a list of schools alphabetically via conference:

Clemson: Year Two for Tajh Boyd, Chad Morris and Sammy Watkins.
FSU: Can E.J. Manuel and an impressive group of young receivers live up to expectations.
Kansas: Curious how Dayne Crist and Charlie Weis will do reuniting in Lawrence after dismal 2011s.
Texas A&M: Kliff Kingsbury's system is very different from what Mike Sherman ran and the Aggies do have the luxury of an excellent O-line.
WVU: Similar to the Clemson team they destroyed in the Orange Bowl, this could be an even more explosive attack with an off-season of added reps and improved timing.
Ohio State: Urban Meyer loves Braxton Miller and probably has some wrinkles ready to break out on the rest of the Big Ten.
Penn State: Bill O'Brien had a lot of success with the Pats offense (then again, who doesn't?) and now gets a chance to fix the shaky Penn State QB situation.
Boise State: Life after Kellen Moore?
Arizona: RichRod inherits a QB (Matt Scott) who is a pretty good fit for his system.
Oregon: Because Chip Kelly's still there and he's got a gobs of speed.
Stanford: Life after Luck?
USC: Matt Barkley's back for his fourth year as a starter with most of the line in tact to go with two superb WRs and a 1.000-yard runner.
Washington State: Leach's offenses have always produced and there might be some Pistol flavor to spice up the Air-Raid. He inherits two capable QBs, one outstanding WR and a very suspect O-line.
Tennessee: They have a lot of thee-year starters and should throw for a bunch of yards.
FIU: Cristobal hired a Chip Kelly disciple from New Hampshire.
Hawaii: Norm Chow goes home to run his own show.

From @eric_hise Will Mack's reach into JUCO ranks pay off?...side note, look forward to seeing u n the ATX for SXSW!

From what I heard via coaches who tried to recruit those JC linemen, those guys should help boost what has been an underwhelming group over the past few years and provide depth on the D assuming they can grasp Bryan Harsin's system and Manny Diaz' scheme. That's one of the big mysteries with bringing in JC guys.

The Horns, though, have a couple of gifted, physical young backs, so I expect to see a big improvement in this running game. The thing most holding UT back from being a legit Top 10 team is a consistent passing game. My hunch is David Ash will be a lot better than he was in his first season, but this program is probably a year away.

I am also looking forward to getting to Austin for SXSW. (I tweeted earlier this week that I will be speaking there on a panel covering sports reporting and Twitter a week from Monday.)

From @Draft_Hub Top 5 exciting players for 2012

Three players immediately came to mind: Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, Michigan's Denard Robinson and LSU's Tyrann Mathieu. I was torn for the last two spots between Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, Wisconsin's former walk-on phenom Jared Abbrederis and WVU's Tavon Austin.

From @JohnHanson20 Does WVU have a legit shot at a Big12 title next year?

In terms of firepower and offense? No question. They have a legit shot because their offense is going to be so explosive, but I have my doubts whether they'll be good enough on D to overtake an Oklahoma. The team lost three of its best players off of what was a very average defense that ranked No. 61 in scoring. Jeff Casteel was a well-regarded DC and he's gone, off to join Rich Rodriguez in Arizona. The new defensive staff is younger and there's more uncertainty.

From @SlickOne716 Is WVU canceling of their game at FSU really going to hurt FSU's chance at the National Championship?

No. With FSU, it's not going to be about having enough impressive opponents. If FSU won out last year, the Noles would've been playing for the title. The pollsters are just salivating at that chance to say the Noles are back, but the team, of late, has had the tendency to shoot itself in the foot a time or three. 

There's no doubt the non-conference schedule took a hit with them having to replace WVU with Savannah State, but at least UF is still on there with a road game at USF. There are a lot of top 25 teams that have a lot worse than that. FSU does need a few ACC programs to get out to fast starts and look viable (Clemson? Va. Tech? Miami?). It'd also help their cause a lot if the Gators knocked off a few top 25 SEC teams before they visited Tallahassee.

From @loubega1 how close is Notre Dame to fielding a dominant defense? Are there enough playmakers in the secondary?

It has been such a long time since the Irish have had a really good defense, much less a dominant one. I would say last season there were were only two truly dominant defenses, LSU and Alabama. Notre Dame is not close to what either of those teams had or did. Those teams were overflowing with playmakers, not just the starters by all over their two-deeps.

In 2011, the Irish made some strides, ranking 30th in total D and 24th in scoring defense. The downside was they were only 59th in sacks, 77th in tackles for loss, and worst of all, forced only 14 turnovers in 13 games. Only one team in all of the FBS that played in a bowl game forced less turnovers (Fresno State).

It has been years since ND has had the type of size and athleticism it has now in its front seven, but many of those guys are still pretty raw. Aaron Lynch, Prince Shembo, Ishaq Williams, Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix need to mature fast and become more consistent. What is more a concern, as you point out, is their secondary. They had a lot of experience back there in 2011, and those guys just struggled to make plays on the ball. And many of these guys came to ND as celebrated recruits. We'll see if they can get it sorted out. Until that happens and the younger D-line guys show they can be consistent, they're still a bit away.

From @NMStefan can Illinois ever really recruit consistently good due to their geography with Northwestern and Notre Dame so close?

They should be able to but so much of that is on the new staff and the relationships they develop with the local high school coaches. Ron Zook's staffs landed more than their share of blue-chippers but many tended to be from outside the state. It's not Notre Dame and Northwestern that are the biggest thorns in the Illini's side in terms of in-state recruiting. It's Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State. And in terms of the 2012 recruiting class, it was Auburn that snagged arguably the top in-state prospect in OT Jordan Diamond.  Just in 2012, Iowa landed four of the top 10 players. That has to change with the new staff.

From @JDubs88  Would you agree that Spencer Hall and Jason Kirk need a little more sun?

I don't think so. I'm not sure tan works with corduroy. It's kinda like mixing ascots and mullets. I think I learned that in one of my classes in junior college.

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: March 5, 2012 9:02 pm

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

Bluemagic (wot a misnomer that is)--your claim that Braxton wont make it after starting SEVEN games as a freshman is  full of misconceptions and obvious bias .  First, he almost beat you on the road against your 'new and improved 'defense after starting ONLY seven games.  Secondly,  he was the #1 dual -threat QB in the country when recruited by OSU.  and finally --I bet you didnt know he had the same QB rating last year as Denard had in 2010 with fewer interceptions and the same completion percentage.  So we bring in the argubly the  best coach available in the country with proven abilty in coaching QBs and you cast doubt?  Sounds more like you are extremely  worried  to me  SO afraid VERY afraid ...or as you THIRD choice coach replied when asked on the Dan Patrick Show of the Urban Meyer hiring,   " um....not...not good" .   Be prepared to be DOMINATED again

Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:48 am

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

A Nebraska fan shows class, and Michigan fans show their  aaasss.  no surprise so far.  par for the course.

Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:30 am

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

I need to add that Miller has a LONG way to go before he ends up like Tebow or Alex Smith at Utah.  But Urban Meyer has developed his QBs with amazing consistency his whole career.  I think he can do it.  Next year will probably be rough for the Ohio State offense, but when Miller is a junior/senior, it should be a fun offense to watch.

Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:27 am

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

Braxton Miller is talented enough and capable to make Meyer's spread work to perfection.  The defenses in the Big Ten are a little different than the SEC, but it should be interesting to see how it all comes together.  Congrats on getting a great coach, Buckeyes.  Happy to have Urban in the league; he's an all-timer.

Since: Oct 13, 2011
Posted on: March 4, 2012 11:13 am

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

Same guys that said "spread is a gimmick" now beleive it will work and thrive in the B1G. HA! Again, good luck with that. Your QB couldnt remember the basic play Lick gave him last year, he was scrambling for his wrist playbook all game. The spread is much more complicated. Another year of sub .500 ball fellas.

Since: Oct 13, 2011
Posted on: March 4, 2012 11:11 am

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

No wide receivers, loss of offensive lineman, a qb who throws like garbage....LOL! Good Luck!

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: March 3, 2012 9:58 pm

RR didn't "fail Michigan;" Michigan failed RR.

RR didn't "fail" at Michigan.  He never truly was given a chance to do his job.  Lloyd Carr and his acolytes did everything they could to undercut RR's tenure at Michigan.  Carr gave transfers out like monopoly money before RR even had a chance to address the team.  Admissions fought him tooth and nail over four and five-star recruits.  David Brandon went directly against one of the most beloved beliefs of his supposed "mentor," Bo Schembechler, and fired RR before he had the five years that any coach should have to do his job.  

The list goes on and on, but the bottom line is Michigan got exactly what they wanted: a guaranteed contiuation of the incestuous University of Michigan coaching "tree." Brady Hoke has to succeed now.  If he doesn't, there is no way any outsider with real options will even consider the Michigan job because of their treatment of RR.  David Brandon's botched "coaching search" was a great demonstration that he might as well just hang a big sign next time: "outsiders not welcome."

RR could have won ten or eleven with this team this year, too.  Also, it is curious at best that David Brandon was more than willing to pay big bucks to Greg Mattison, but refused to spend that much to get RR a competent coordinator.   

The book "Three and Out" pretty much confirmed every cyincal suspiscion that I ever had about what went on behind the scenes to sabotage RR's efforts.  If anything, the truth was even worse than I imagined.  Since I had Carr pegged as a saboteur quite early in the "process," it came as a surprise that even someone as cynical about it as I was didn't know how bad it got.  

Anyway, so-called "Michigan fans" who continue to perpetuate the myth of the "failure of RR" when they should be congratulating Brady Hoke for handling the transition so well aren't really fans; they are just easily-fooled bandwagon jumpers or "Carr-tel" sycophants. 

Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: March 3, 2012 12:59 pm

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

Loved this as a Buckeye.  Silly Michigan.  The defenses sucked under RR.  The spread can and will succeed in the big 10, in fact the big 10 needs more spread to compete nationally.   i am so pleased with the 2013 class which is only at 5 guys right now, but 3 are 5 star guys.  of course that can change after their senior campaigns.   future looks bright for osu after this bowl ban season.  just dont quit on us too soon UM.  5 years minimum, promise?

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: March 3, 2012 6:25 am

Mailbag: Urban's smooth transition to the Big Ten

The question about Rich Rodriguez completely misses the point.  Rodriguez didn't lose games because of his offense.  His offensive teams led by Darnell Robinson were more than successful.  What Rodriguez failied to understand is that defense wins games.  And Michigan basically had no defense for three years.  The same can be said for some jerk like Mike Leach.  Oh yeah, we can expect the Washington State offense to be entertaining.  But don't expect WSU to go anywhere, because like Rodriguez, Leach doesn't have a clue about defense.  The same cannont be said for Urban Meyer.  There's nothing special about whether the so-called spread (read single-wing) offense can succeed in the Big 10.  What Meyer will do as opposed to Rodriguez is ensure that the Ohio State defense is sound.  He did so at Florida by having the smarts to have Charlie Strong as his defensive coordinator.  Florida beat OSU in Glendale because of the strength of the Gator defense.

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