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.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 11:31 am
Time for the Friday Mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @nrwester anything to be said abt the fact Luck had 2 top-15-pick lineman at school? What happens when he see's pressure?
We see that the guy also has sub-4.7 speed and can run like an WILL linebacker and we'll see that he's about as savvy as any QB prospect coming out of college in a very long time.
Andrew Luck did have two very gifted O-linemen in front of him in 2011. It also should be pointed out that the other three starters were inexperienced guys. Here's a better point on Luck: He led Stanford to 23 wins in the past two seasons while his best deep threat was a tight end. Wait till Andrew Luck gets some wide receivers who can separate and make yards after the catch.
I think he is going to be outstanding in the NFL. People know he's gifted, but I'm not sure people really just how smart, accurate and athletic or big this guy is. I would never use the words "cant' miss" to describe any QB prospect, but Andrew Luck is about as close as you're going to get at making the transition to the NFL.
From @AHBick who's your pick to win the Big 12? Full disclosure, I'm wearing crimson shades
With both Landry Jones and Mike Stoops returning to Norman this year, Oklahoma is my pick to win the Big 12. I think Mike Stoops will provide a spark to a defense that hasn't been quite as salty as what it was during his first stint at OU. There is plenty of talent for him to take advantage of in the back seven. This is also a team that got rocked by injuries last year to not only a bunch of gifted players, but guys who were also leaders (Ryan Broyles and Travis Lewis for starters). That adversity may help them in the coming year with how the young players were tested.
I expect Oklahoma State to take a step back this year given the losses of their stars on offense. Plus Bedlam is in Norman this season. Baylor is likely to take an even bigger drop without RG3 and Kendall Wright. I'm not sure if K-State can be as successful just because the Wildcats won so many close games in 2011. It's hard to do that kind of thing two years in a row.
On the other hand, Texas will be improved. UT was so shaky on offense last year. There is a lot of good young talent there, but I'm skeptical they can be good enough at QB in 2012 to go from being a fringe Top 25 team to a legit Top 10 team.
The toughest competition for OU in the Big 12 race this year may come from the two newcomers. And the Sooners have to visit both WVU and TCU in 2012. Both have talented returning starters at QB with dynamic receiving corps. The Mountaineers probably will have the most explosive offense in the league and playing up there especially in mid-November is never easy. I still see OU as the most complete team in the conference though.
From @IceCoLD53 Ohio and ND are spread teams now. Is that helping UM recruiting for Hoke?
I actually think that has little to do with Michigan's recruiting success right now. The only real position where Urban Meyer's scheme would affect Michigan as it relates to recruiting needs is at QB, and the Wolverines got a commitment from Shane Morris long before the Buckeyes hired the former UF coach. Notre Dame just signed a QB, Gunner Kiel, who is no running quarterback. In terms of skill set, Kiel isn't much different from what Michigan is looking for now.
The big reason why UM is hot in recruiting has to do with the vibe of the program: The perception is the Wolverines are on the rise. They just won the Sugar Bowl. Everyone around the place has bought in that Brady Hoke is exactly what Michigan needs and he "gets" Michigan. The fact that they finally beat Ohio State only hammered that point home even harder. Kids and their high school coaches are excited about Michigan.
From @ChrisMonti Rutgers '12 outlook, one step back, then forward?
I'm not overly optimistic about that because the Big East is going to be so watered down, the perception is the conference is gonna be even less relevant. My hunch is it'll be that much harder for RU to compete with schools from the Big Ten and others when they go head-to-head on top talent around the Northeast. Can Kyle Flood do much more than Greg Schiano did? We'll see. It has become a tougher spot because of the conference's situation.
From @jlwdiggs does gunner Kiel already have the starting qb spot locked down for the irish?
I doubt it. As I said a few weeks back, Brian Kelly is sky high on redshirt freshman Everett Golson, who just seems to have that mythical "IT" quality, something this program has been lacking for a while.
It's never easy for a true freshman to come in and take over at QB. The issue with Kiel is, how does he cope with grinding away and competing for this job? If you heard California-based QB coach George Whitfield (the guy who trained Cam Newton before the draft and is working with Andrew Luck now) on our Signing Day Central show, he voiced some concerns about that after working with Kiel and other touted QB prospects at last summer's Elite 11 competition.
From @donniejonesjr What are the State of Alabama chances of keeping the BCS title for a fourth year in a row?
I'd categorized it as decent. Expect Bama to open the year in the preseason top four. The Tide's number of returning starters on both sides of the ball is relatively low, but they have some key guys back in emerging QB A.J. McCarron, coming off his strong performance in the BCS title game, the nucleus of the O-line and a quality big back in Eddie Lacy. Plus, you can never underestimate Nick Saban. He is that good of a coach. But I'm skeptical because they did lose a lot of proven playmakers on defense; they have to visit both LSU and Arkansas, and because it is just so hard to repeat in college football, the odds are really against them.
Auburn's chances, given all the staff turnover and inexperience, makes them too much of a long shot.
From @shockjay Who will have more wins next year: Kansas (Big 12) or Missouri (SEC)?
Considering how awful KU was in 2011, I don't see the Jayhawks making that big of a jump in Charlie Weis' first season, although ND transfer Dayne Crist will give the offense a needed spark. Anything more than four wins is overly optimistic, though because the defense is brutal.
Meanwhile, their archrival does go into a much tougher league, but Mizzou returns a good, young QB in James Franklin and brings in the best WR recruit in the country in Dorial Green-Beckham. They should be even better on offense than they were in 2011, and they were pretty formidable on O, ranking 12th in total offense and 30th in scoring. We'll get a much truer gage on how the Tigers fit with the transition on Sept. 8 when Georgia comes to Columbia. The Dawgs have a strong defense and an experienced QB.
>I could see Mizzou 4-2 by the time Bama visits, but then the schedule gets thicker. My hunch is they can win seven games, but beyond that it's a stretch.
From @crsegar What would it take for Edsall to be fired after this season?
I've always thought that it's crazy to hire a guy and then fire him after just two or three seasons. You're just not giving the guy a chance to recruit to his system and establish his program. It does take time, and in some cases more than others. Now, if there is a scandal or NCAA issues, it's a different story in regards to how much room a new coach merits. And, for as bad as the Danny O'Brien transfer saga looks, it's nothing that some wins can't remedy from the Terps standpoint.
You almost have no choice but to ride this out for another two seasons if you're Maryland. Randy Edsall's far from a first-time head coach. Maryland knew, or at least should've known what it was getting. Short of another 2-10 season, I don't see how they'd fire him, and even then, I'm not sure they'd pull the plug. Financially, it'd be such a hit for the school, but obviously thus far it's been disastrous but they're on the hook now and they have to give him a chance to turn things around.
From @Brad_Freeman What did you think of your trip to College Station, and your impressions of the new coaching staff?
It was a good day there. Kevin Sumlin's staff is one of the biggest reasons why I think he was such a good hire for A&M. My story from College Station will run on the site in a week or so.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:27 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 9:13 pm
Time for the last Friday mailbag of 2011. As always, send questions to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @FormerlyAGuest Why are people down on Brian Kelly? Don't they remember ND getting boatraced by every good team in the Davie/Ty/Weis years?
It's the expectations that come with the place and also with the fact that he was a "proven" head coach, not a guy growing into the job. On top of that, there was a lot of hype that this team was ready to get to 10 wins (more than even the normal ND overhype that tends to come for the Irish) and get into a BCS bowl especially since Kelly cleared star WR Michael Floyd for the season. But aside from a big win over a good Michigan State team in mid-September, it was a frustration year for the Irish with them going 3-4 against teams with winning records. Quite frankly, it's hard to look at this team and say they are close to being a powerhouse. They're a far leap from where LSU and a few others are at this point. They have some gifted players. Just nowhere near the number they need to be a real elite team.
I still am convinced Kelly is a significant upgrade over Charlie Weis and feel like he will get the Irish back to being a legit Top 20 team consistently, but I would've thought they'd been further along at this stage. I figured, at worst, they'd win nine this season. Instead, they went 8-5, getting pushed around at home vs. arch-rival USC; weren't really close to Stanford and finished with a loss to an FSU team with a patch-work O-line loaded with freshmen.
I suspect some of the digs at Kelly stem from his sideline demeanor, framed by the cameras showing him berating players and getting so red-faced. Truth be told, he's far from the only coach who has ripped a player on the sideline. It's just now the spotlight on him is brighter and more cameras are on him. It also doesn't help his cause that his team had a maddening penchant for turnovers and Red Zone problems.
The upshot coming out of the 2011 season is that you don't the sense the Irish staff feel great about the quarterback situation going into Year Three. Tommy Rees didn't seem to make much progress. The jury's still out on Andrew Hendrix, and now they lose their best weapon in WR Michael Floyd and maybe TE Tyler Eifert. You'd think they should be better with the QBs with another year more seasoning (including strong-armed redshirt Everett Golson into that mix as well), but we'll see. They missed out on five-star QB recruit Gunnar Kiel, who had ND ties so it seems that Kelly's future for ND in the next three years is tied to Rees/Hendrix/Golson. We know this: Floyd won't be easily replaced. There are reportedly some talented recruits coming to South Bend, but we'll hold off getting too fired up on that front too since we hear that every year with them.
The bright side: I do like what I see from the defense, especially in DE Aaron Lynch and the young linemen, but on the other side of the ball, it's shaky. Worse still, it seems like their two arch-rivals, USC and Michigan, are surging upward and primed for big years in 2012.
From @abellwillring EJ (Manuel) didn't perform at the level we hoped this yr but looked very good in the clutch last night. Do you think he'll build off it?
I do expect him and the Noles to build off that come-from-behind win over Notre Dame Thursday. I was impressed by the way Manuel kept battling after taking a pounding in the first half. The young FSU O-line looked really shaky but settled down in the second half. The other thing to really like about the outlook for the Noles offense is that two of Manuel's best targets are freshmen, WR Rashad Greene and TE Nick O'Leary.
Still, I suspect expectations will be kept in check somewhat because in recent years there's been so much hype about the Noles being back, and time and again, they've underwhelmed for one reason or another. Pollsters will be gunshy to buy them, I think. They'd have to be, no? No!?? I mean they seemed good on paper going into this year and still lost games to Wake Forest and UVa, among others.
From @NakedShort11 Can Weis turn KU around?
It's never smart to speak in absolutes when it comes to these things, but I don't like his chances to turn Kansas into a top 20 football program consistently. Or even close to that. He takes over a very bad team that was so far away from being competitive, that just getting them to a mediocre bowl game is going to be an uphill battle.
Weis' rep for developing QBs will help, and it's obviously helped him land former ND quarterback Dayne Crist and ex-BYU quarterback Jake Heaps (both were top recruits but had struggled before losing their starting jobs.) I expect them to get better on offense, but it's the defense where they've been spectacularly inept, and Weis never was able to get a defense going in South Bend. And I just don't see him having the recruiting cache to get enough playmakers on that side of the ball to contend with OU, OK State, Texas and now TCU and WVU. His staff recruited well at Notre Dame, but that was ND, not Kansas, and his profile doesn't carry as much juice as it did when he arrived in South Bend. Kansas football doesn't have the appeal that Notre Dame does and Weis was more of a big deal 5-6 years ago then he is after fizzling out at ND and having a mediocre season in Florida. I suspect his pitch will play well to QBs and tight ends, but won't get blue-chippers at other spots that fired up, compared to some of those other Big 12 schools.
Mark Mangino did a really good job at KU. He left there with a 50-48 record and won three bowl games, including a BCS bowl. I'll be very surprised if Weis leaves there with as good a winning percentage.
From @melesse Wondering where you stand on Dooley's decision to not give freshman WR Arnett his full release?
First, some background on what has become a messy story involving a former four-star prospect in last year's recruiting class at Tennessee: A UT spokesman says Arnett, a Michigan native who wants to transfer closer to home, is not being denied the opportunity to play at the FBS level. The school also has a policy of not releasing players to schools the Vols play against or "recruit against". O.K., that last part is interesting because you could say that would stop them from any school in the country if the want to stretch it that way. After all, guys like Arnett are "national" recruits and therefore the Vols had to beat virtually everyone to land him. Anyhow, Arnett says he wants to transfer closer to home to be near his ailing father, but some of the schools he's intrigued by--Michigan and Michigan State--Dooley won't release him to. Just MAC schools.
[If Arnett enrolls at a school Dooley won't release him to, he has to foot the bill for a year, which the kid says he and his family cannot afford.]
This is just the latest Dooley goof after a dud of a 2011 season. It's a PR nightmare. To say this isn't going to play well for Dooley is an understatement. By all accounts, Dooley is playing hardball with Arnett. The kid is clearly unhappy about something there. The guy who recruited Arnett to Knoxville, Charlie Baggett, the Vols receivers coach, retired after the 5-7 season.
If a guy doesn't really want to be somewhere or part of something, do you want that person around? I'd say no, especially if he's gone to the levels of this that Arnett and his family have. Then again, Dooley's got to be feeling the pressure after a dismal 2011. Fact is, stuff like this isn't going to make landing blue-chippers any easier for him. The kid is a talented receiver and would be a significant blow if he opts to leave. The Vols WR depth chart is already pretty thin. Dooley needs to show marked improvement in 2012.
Word is Arnett will make his decision by Monday. You have to wonder if the perception of Arnett going to a mid-major program closer to his home will compel the Michigan native to stick it out in Knoxville. I imagine that is what Dooley is hoping. I don't see Dooley relenting and releasing him to the big Michigan schools. Dooley's taking the PR hit already. I'm sure rival recruiters will remind prospects of this story a lot as long as Dooley is coaching at UT. Then again, with the moves Dooley has made, you chave to wonder if that'll be more than another year or two.
From @erik_gillespie Does Keith Price have any sort of NFL future? Or will the "not tall enough, arm strength not good enough" catch up to him?
He just finished his sophomore year and ended on an impressive note. Price has a good arm and very good feet. His size isn't good at about 6-feet, 195 pounds, but he'll get stronger and he is a guy who throws well on the move. He's as tall as Drew Brees, Mike Vick, Chase Daniel and a bunch of other QBs. Price also plays in a very good pro-style system right now. Sarkisian's staff knows how to develop a QB in terms of an NFL game. I'll be very surprised if in 2014, Keith Price isn't on an NFL roster as a back-up QB.
From @steakNstiffarms Ducks struggle when opp has >1wk to prepare, Wisc struggles w/ great teams away from Camp Randall. Which holds true on Monday?
Well said. For both of these staffs, as much as they don't want to acknowledge outside skepticism, you want to quash it as soon as you can because all of the questions that keep coming (about both issues you point out) can become distractions and push their way into people's minds. My hunch is Oregon will win. Part of that is because the Badgers are dealing with some coaching staff transition with Chryst getting the Pitt job, and things like that, always make life a little harder even if Wisconsin had to deal with it last year when Dave Doeren took the NIU job.
From @felimalipe RG III is a better college FB player than Cam Newton was?
I think both are fantastic QBs and franchise guys. Robert Griffin III changed the way people think about Baylor. He is awe-inspiring, on and off the field. He deserved the Heisman. Keep in mind, Baylor has one of the six worst defenses in college football this season. Four of those inept defenses were on teams that didn't win more than two games this season. The other team, Texas Tech, went 5-7. Baylor won 10 games. Baylor. 10 games.
That said, for one season, Cam Newton is the best college QB I've ever covered. What he did for Auburn and how he did it, when all of that scrutiny mounted, unlike anything any other top college football player has faced in the spotlight, was truly remarkable.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:58 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 1:10 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions send them to me on Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @Newberry75 Is PSU interviewing anybody? Seems pretty quiet for such a high profile search.
It's been kept very quiet if they have. Given all of the uncertainty with the leadership there and the cloud that will hang over that community for a very long time, it's a delicate situation. I can report that a hot rumor which was swirling in the past 36 hours is untrue that was linking former Penn State player Al Golden to the job. Golden, the rumor went, was picked up Wednesday in New York in a private plane and flown to PA to meet with Penn State officials. However, a source explained to me that the private plane that Golden was flying in is actually owned by a Miami donor and the coach was going around the northeast recruiting for Miami.
The guy who I think Penn State should target for this job is actually a different guy with Miami ties, Mario Cristobal, the head coach at FIU. As I wrote here a few months ago, Cristobal has done wonders taking over what was the bleakest, messiest, most screwed-up FBS program in all of college football. He is a high-energy, no-BS guy who knowns the northeast well from his time as Greg Schiano's top recruiter when they were trying to breathe some life into the Rutgers program. Cristobal knows what it takes to win both as a player and as a coach. He has shown he has great focus, which I think will be paramount for the next head coach there given everything that you will inherit.
If you're skeptical about Cristobal's tenacity and savvy to land such a big job with such unique problems, click the link and look at the bottom of the column:
I said no coach in FBS took over a worse program. The reason: FIU was like no other program at that level. There was no infrastructure. They had no film library. They had no academic support system in place for the players. They had to build everything from scratch when Cristobal's staff arrived. "Our first month of official visits, we didn't show them the locker room or the weight room," said a former staffer. "We were running smoke and mirrors. Everything focused on the campus and the city of Miami. We'd just show them plans of what we were building."
From @astubert Do you think Devon Still wasn't selected as an AFCA All-American because of the PSU scandal?
I'd hope that wasn't the reason behind it since Still had nothing to do with it. I was surprised to see him NOT on the team. If you were to ask which DT had the most impact on his defense and doesn't take a lot of plays off, Still would be the first guy I'd think of. He played on a top 5 defense, and he was the biggest reason why they were so tough. He had 17 TFLs, which is really impressive since most of the other top guys in tackles for loss are edge rushers, not guys who consistently see double teams and lots of traffic.
From @tperk54 why on earth did you not vote for Trent Richardson for the Heisman?
Richardson is an outstanding back. He was on top or near the top of my ballot for much of this season. He had some spectacular moments. Best example was that amazing run he had against that dreadful Ole Miss team. In a few games against some of the tougher defenses he played, he was good, although he only averaged a little over four yards per carry against Penn State and under four yards against LSU and his team didn't even score a touchdown. I feel like he's a better back that Montee Ball, but the Wisconsin back put up even more impressive numbers and he did so against some good defenses too. Both backs had very good years. I believe there are six or seven guys you could make a strong case for. I watched a lot of games on each of those guys. To me, it just comes down who had the best year in terms of making the most impact on his program and, as I detailed in the Big Picture column, that was Robert Griffin III.
From @SouthernJetNC Is Fedora a great, good or average hire for UNC?
I'd categorize him as a good hire. He's aggressive, has a sharp offensive mind and a really keen eye for talent. That last part is big. He helped land some very unheralded prospects at Oklahoma State who blossomed into stars. Obviously, a lot will depend on the caliber of assistants he can surround himself with, but I was impressed by the staff he assembled right away when he took over at Southern Miss. Those guys could really recruit.
From @T_Dwyer Is "Charlie Weis? Huh?" enough of a question or should I be more specific?
That one caught me off guard too. I can see why KU would consider Weis, although I wouldn't think they'd hire him over, say, a Gus Malzahn or even a Chad Morris, if they could've landed either. Weis isn't a first-time college head coach, but it's not like he was a big success at ND with a lot more resources there. His name will carry weight with some recruits, but so would those other guys.
As for the other side of it: Kansas is a really, really tough place to win at. Remember before Mark Mangino arrived, KU hadn't had a winning season in a half-dozen years before and hadn't been to a bowl since 1995. In 2007, when Mangino got KU into a BCS bowl, which they won, was arguably the best coaching job we've seen in the last 20 years. KU was 12-1 and finished No. 7. Amazing. KU isn't in a fertile recruiting state and it can't take many of the local JC players that other programs in that league can. Then they got rid of him and the program has bottomed out in two seasons with Turner Gill. They weren't even competitive.
Weis, should attract some talent on offense. According to the New York Times, Dayne Crist, a former Weis QB at ND, will visit there this weekend. Landing Crist would be a good first step for the coach. Weis will inherit a talented young RB in Darrian Miller, but also the nation's worst defense. Crist would be a quick fix to try and help them get respectable in a hurry, maybe go 4-8, 5-7 to win over some skeptical recruits. But it is going to be a very uphill battle. Top recruits won't perk up for KU as they will listen if you're the head coach at Notre Dame. Now maybe some QBs and tight ends may given Weis' pedigree, but there are other coaches with strong NFL track records too and they're at bigger programs. When Weis was at ND, he was at the glamour school. Now, he'll be below OU, Texas, Oklahoma State and just about everyone else in the Big 12.
From @MatthewLevi If Bama wins BCS, what are the odds that LSU still gets AP title since LSU beat Bama at Bama's house and had a stronger SOS?
My hunch is those are slim chances LSU would still get the AP title. Keep in mind if Bama won, they'd be beating LSU in the Tigers backyard. Also, people, by nature, are creatures of the moment. They tend to go with what they just witnessed and put heavy emphasis on it. By overlooking the BCS title game like that would make a farce of something (the BCS) that is already pretty dubious.
From @AnalogSports Is Mike Leach going to run his same offense up in Pullman? In the snow? Will he get the right kids for it?
They ran the Air-Raid system in Iowa, where the weather was brutal and had a lot of success with it under those conditions. It can get pretty windy in Lubbock and some parts of the Big 12 too.
Sounds like he already has a few of those kids in the program right now with those two QBs (Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday) and Marquess Wilson, a great sophomore WR. The challenge will be for them to grasp the nuances of the system and rep it so much where they can get the timing down.
From @cdunk87 Who do you think would be better fit at Nebraska for DC Ron Zook or Mike Stoops?
Zook is a fantastic recruiter, but as a DC, I'll go with Mike Stoops. Ask OU fans about what they feel like the program has lacked since Mike Stoops left for Arizona. He is a very good coach. People I've spoken to who have worked with him saying he was an excellent tempo setter at practice and very good in the day-to-day. That said it would be interesting to see him on the same sideline with another up-to-the-edge intensity guy like Pelini, but since both go back I suspect they'd could play off each other pretty well if Stoops does end up in Lincoln.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 11:26 am
Coming into the season there was so much optimism at different programs, but fast forward three months and there's been a lot of disappointment. This week's Top 10 list: biggest duds of the 2011 season. (I'm leaving off the BCS, which you could make a strong case for deserving to be on this list every year.)
1. Maryland: Randy Edsall's first season in College Park was a disaster of the highest order. The Terps got off to a nice start, edging a seriously depleted Miami team that was gutted by NCAA suspensions, but then things completely fell apart. They didn't beat another FBS program the rest of the way. They got blown out at home by Temple 38-7. They lost to a bad BC team by 11. They blew a huge second-half lead against NC State. The stunning part in all of this was it's not like Edsall inherited the FAU squad. They were 9-4 last year and had the best young QB in the conference in Danny O'Brien. However, the sophomore quarterback regressed in a big way under Edsall. The team was 111th in passing efficiency. In the final eight games of the season, the Terps managed to scored more than 21 points twice. Somewhere, Ralph Friedgen is probably still laughing at his bosses who ran him out of his alma mater after winning ACC Coach of the Year honors.
2. The State of Florida: The Noles were preseason No. 6 and slogged their way to an 8-4 record where they didn't even make it to the ACC title game. At one point they had a three-game losing streak. In mid-November, they lost at home against unranked UVA. ... The Gators, No. 22 in preseason, fizzled on offense and went 6-6 by dropping six of their last eight games. . . . Miami's hopes were torpedoed on the eve of the season by the Nevin Shapiro mess that would sideline a bunch of key players early. The Canes never recovered, losing six games by eight points or less before opting out of what figured to be a mediocre bowl game in hopes of appeasing the NCAA down the road. Their final game: a home loss to a 3-8 BC team. ... USF got off to a fast start, beating a ranked Notre Dame team on the road, but then Skip Holtz team flopped, losing seven of their final eight. ... UCF, which despite having the No. 11 D in the country, failed to even get bowl eligible, going 5-7. Last year UCF was 11-3. Now there is much uncertainty and who knows if sophomore QB Jeff Godfrey, who had seemed to be the centerpiece of the upstart program, will be back in Orlando in 2012?
3. Texas A&M: The Aggies, preseason No. 8, had way too much firepower to go 6-6. Even 8-4 would've felt like a big let down. Statistically, they were a very hard team to figure out. They were seventh in the country in total offense, first in fewest sacks allowed, first in sacks, 13th in rushing defense but they also were 100th in turnover margin. They blew a ridiculous amount of games in the second half. They ended up losing four of their last five and Mike Sherman lost his job because of it.
4. Ole Miss: A lot of people pegged the Rebels for the bottom of the SEC West, but no one would've expected they'd have the worst season in school history. Houston Nutt's lackluster recruiting at Ole Miss really caught up with him. His team got thumped by Vandy in a way that the Commodores never beat another SEC program. The Rebels also lost by 17 to lowly Kentucky and then get crunched by La. Tech 27-7 at the their homecoming game. The 2-10 season cost Nutt his job and was punctuated with another blowout loss to arch-rival Miss. State, 31-3.
5. Oklahoma: [Note: The Sooners were a bad omit on my part when I initially published this list.] They were preseason No. 1 and sputtered badly in the season half of the season, losing three of their last six. The first loss was home to a four-TD underdog (Texas Tech) that would end up having its worst season in almost 20 years. The Sooners finished off the season getting drilled by rival Oklahoma State, 44-10.
6-UCLA defense: Few teams look better on the hoof, but the Bruins just never could get it done under Rick Neuheisel. Despite a defensive unit were more than its share of former blue-chippers, the Bruins were 112th in sacks and 96th in scoring defense. They surrendered 38 or more six times this season.
7. Mississippi State: They were a long shot to win the incredibly stacked SEC West, but the Bulldogs were still a preseason top 20 team but they never got much of anything going. They went 6-6. The only team with a winning record they beat was 8-4 La. Tech. Their other four wins over FBS opponents went 12-36 combined.
8. Notre Dame offense: The Irish were ranked a respectable 43rd in scoring, but given the weapons Brian Kelly had (led by WR Michael Floyd) ND should've been a lot more dynamic. They were held to 20 points or less five times this season. They also were brutal when it came to taking care of the football, tying for third-worst in the country in turnover margin.
9. Kansas: Turner Gill was fired after just two seasons because the Jayhawks were so overwhelmed this season. They beat an FCS program and then knocked off the eventual MAC champs (NIU) in Week 2 and it was all downhill from them on as it was one epic blowout loss after another. They ranked 106th in total offense and 120 in total defense. Of their final 10 losses to finish the season, only two were decided by less than double-digits. They lost six games by 30 points or more.
10. Illinois offense: Things set up so well for Ron Zook this season. They had a dynamic young QB (Nate Scheelhaase) and some talented backs and receivers. The Illini jumped out to a 6-0 start and then the bottom drops out. They lose the next six, failing to score more than two TDs in any other game. They managed just seven points against a Minnesota D that was 102nd in scoring defense. They scored 14 on a Michigan, which is 51 points fewer than they scored on the Wolverines on a year ago. The Illini finished 91st in scoring, dropping 59 spots from where they were at mid-season. They also ended up 106th in sacks allowed.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 5:21 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, send your questions via Twitter to BFeldmanCBS.
From @Jdangelo4404 what do you think of the pac12 hiring all of these offensive minded coaches and how does it affect the perception of the conf?
The perception of a conference's merits change when it wins big games against other top teams from other leagues. Best thing that happened for the Pac-10 was when Pete Carroll's USC teams went to Auburn and Arkansas and hammered them and when the Trojans drilled Oklahoma in the BCS title game. Don't forget Carroll was fortunate to have some really sharp offensive minds with him (Norm Chow, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian). Jim Harbaugh was a home run hire for Stanford but you'd have to peg him as more of an offensive guy. Mike Stoops was a defensive guy but never could get Arizona to be a consistent winner. Point is, it's way too easy to generalize about "offensive" and "defensive" head coaches.
Urban Meyer was thought of as an offensive guy and that worked out quite well for the SEC. Same for Steve Spurrier. Bobby Petrino's an offensive guy and his hire at Arkansas is looking very good. There isn't only one way to build a powerhouse.
Obviously, hiring the right guys to run your defense if you are an "offensive" guy is vital though. Meyer had Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong. Rich Rodriguez who is a superb offensive mind didn't have those types of guys as his DC at Michigan. It'll be interesting to see who Rodriguez and Mike Leach land to run their defenses this time around and what UCLA and ASU end up doing. I do think what's interesting here is you're seeing these programs hire guys who both have very unique schemes and a lot of head-coaching experience in big conferences, not guys who are learning to be head coaches on the fly.
It is a very intriguing time for the Pac-12 right now. USC is hot again, but after 2012, they may feel at least some of the effects of the scholarship sanctions. Oregon is likely headed to its third BCS bowl in a row, but still has a sizeable NCAA cloud hanging over its head. Stanford has to replace a true franchise QB in Andrew Luck. Cal and Oregon State, which had been stronger in recent years, appear to be tailing off. The two new additions, Colorado and Utah showed they're still a ways from being able to compete for a league title. Then you have four programs going through coaching transitions.
From @jeremyarc7 Do you feel a&m fired Sherman too soon?
Nope. They'd given him enough time. Texas A&M is a big job and 25-25 and just 15-18 in Big 12 won't cut it, especially as the Aggies go into the SEC. This is Texas A&M, not an Iowa State, Baylor or Kansas, where they haven't traditionally had a lot of top 25 seasons. This team lost too many games in the second half, and it got to the point where if they'd finished 8-4, not 6-6, it still would've felt like a clunker of a season. Truth is, it looked like the Aggies took a backwards step this season. Sherman couldn't afford it in Year Four. He hadn't shown enough to warrant the confidence that he could get this program back into the top 10.
If the A&M brass feel like there are coaches out there that are better to get things cranked up (such as a Kevin Sumlin), they were smart to cut ties now and make that move.
From @RobGiffin how bad has the TN situation under Dooley gotten?
Much worse than I think anyone around the program would've anticipated if you'd asked them honestly three months ago. It's true they are young and they were stung by injuries, but I doubt anyone there truly believed they wouldn't even get to a bowl game. Remember, former UT AD Mike Hamilton backed out of a game against North Carolina and the Vols ended up with Buffalo instead. Even if the Vols beat Kentucky to go 6-6, I still think the year would've been a dud, but to lose to such a bad UK team playing a WR at QB was embarrassing for many Vols fans. It not only cost a young team more bonus bowl practices they won't get, but it leaves the program in a bad light on the recruiting trail.
I get that there is reason for some optimism because they have some gifted sophomores and freshmen, but can anyone really point to a reason for optimism about Derek Dooley running this team? Given his track record, I don't see how at this point.
Having said that, short of more NCAA trouble, I don't believe they could pull the plug on Dooley after just two seasons given all of the turnover from the end of Fulmer -- through Kiffin -- to now. He has to get least get a third season. They hired him and he does have a hefty buyout. But it is looking very obvious that Dooley is in fact in over his head here.
This is a guy who didn't even have a .500 record in the WAC, so for him to take over an elite SEC program looked really curious. I suspect there will be more turnover on the Vols staff this offseason than just WR coach Charlie Baggett. Dooley's 0-17 against ranked teams all-time. If he doesn't beat one or even two ranked teams next year, I have a feeling it won't matter if he gets UT bowl eligible. It's Tennessee. The Vols have a proud tradition, a huge stadium and a staff getting paid a lot of money. They're also in the much easier side of the conference right now. They shouldn't be content with bowl eligible.
From @Robherbst are you surprised that leach didn't hold out for a seemingly better job and are you surprised washington state coughed up the money to pay him?
Not really. I think realistically aside from Washington State, the other school that seemed to be genuinely interested in Leach was Kansas. He has been close to their AD for a long time. But Washington State made a lot of sense to him because it's in a stable conference (Pac-12) which now is reaping the benefits of a robust TV deal; he's at a program where they've had a lot of success not that long ago (having been to a few Rose Bowls in the past 15 years); have a rich history of prolific offenses and he inherits a nice group of young players. However, the biggest thing that Wazzu's program had going for it was the AD Bill Moos, who is a straight shooter (when asked about the search committee on Tuesday, Moos said 'you're looking at the Search Committee") -- stuff like that is huge to Leach. The politics and number of people involved makes the job that much more appealing. And they were stepping up making a big financial commitment to him and to his staff.
From @spry23 NCAA basketball tourney makes $ why can't college football find a way wouldn't it make more sense
Because when it comes to college football, it is really about power and control more than money, and the power brokers of the sport aren't ready to relinquish that.
From @Jus10Sarabia Who seems to be a logical replacement for Houston if Kevin Sumlin leaves? Co-offensive coordinator Jason Phillips?
I could see UH keeping things in house to try and minimize the transition. Tony Levine, who is the special teams coordinator and assistant head coach, may get a long look. As I wrote a few weeks back, Levine's a guy who has worked under some excellent coaches in college and the NFL. Phillips, given his ties to the program as a player, will get consideration too. Keep in mind, the guy who really runs the offense is Kliff Kingsbury, who in a few years figures to be ready to run his own program. My hunch is Kingsbury goes with Sumlin wherever he goes. UH also may consider Clemson OC Chad Morris as well given the former Texas HS coach's background.
From @melchrestmanjr after spending time with Coach Orgeron, what makes the Ole Miss job so tough?
The biggest hurdle has been the politics of the place and the leadership around you. The outgoing AD Pete Boone was a big headache/stumbling block. He treated football more like a C-USA program than an SEC program. The other big challenge is you have to bust your butt to find promising recruits and get on them before everyone else does because in all likelihood if that same kid gets offered by LSU, Alabama or Florida, you'll miss out or if you're not hustling, you'll never get in the front door. Orgeron was very good at connecting with recruits early in the process. Some times it was rewarded (Dexter McCluster for example); sometimes it still wasn't good enough (Drake Nevis). Houston Nutt, from what I've been told by people who were around the Ole Miss program, never really went as hard, treating it more like Arkansas than Ole Miss, and you can't get away with that in Oxford.
Ole Miss' facilities are pretty good, but by SEC standards, they're still below average, especially when you compare stadiums.
They do have a solid recruiting pool around them, especially in terms of JUCO talent and there is the flexibility to get some of those good, borderline academics recruits admitted. But many others still can't get into major four-year colleges. There's also a delicate racial history that in some cases, makes it very tough to recruit players to Ole Miss. I know from talking to assistants who have coached at Ole Miss they've run into several situations where the kid's parents or some grandparent or relative won't allow them to go to Ole Miss because of the perception they have of it, which is something the football staff has to work hard to combat.
From@Drofdarb23 What kind of an impact does the coaching rumor mill have on recruiting?
It certainly doesn't help, but unless you're talking about later in the process, like in late January, the coaching staff should be able to overcome it.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 11:19 am
As the BCS races becomes even more frenetic, a handful of other programs are just trying to salvage their seasons for respectability and establish some momentum for the future. Anything they can do in hopes of avoiding a coaching change to get more one season. It's not even Halloween yet and we've already had three head coaches losing their jobs. More turnover is coming. You can count on it. This week's Tuesday Top 10: The 10 coaches on the hottest seats in the FBS:
1. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: The former Bruin standout QB has just not been able to get anything going in four seasons at his alma mater. He has tried virtually everything, from going all-in on the Pistol to turning over his coaching staff last off-season. But it's just not working out. On paper, he has recruited very well with three top-15 ranked classes in his first three seasons, however all he has to show for it is a record of 18-26 overall and 10-20 in league play. The most frustrating part for Bruin fans is that there has been opportunity to benefit from instability across town with USC coping with massive NCAA sanctions.
As I wrote in the Friday mailbag after the Bruins' dreadful performance on national television in their blowout loss to a reeling Arizona squad, UCLA still has a chance to win the Pac-12 South if it runs the table. But that seems like such a long shot after seeing its most recent showing that leads you to believe they are incapable of running off five consecutive wins. (Four of which would come against teams better than Arizona.) In fact, you wonder if they're even capable of winning three of those games to finish .500.
2. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss: The pressure is clearly wearing on Nutt. Over the weekend, he lit into a reporter at a post-game press conference because the guy had predicted the Rebels were going to get blown out by Arkansas. The Rebels squandered a 17-0 lead, but "only" lost 29-24, stretching the program's losing streak in SEC play to 10 games, an Ole Miss record for futility. It was the first time in four tries that Nutt's team hadn't lost a conference game by at least two touchdowns. Then again, a few weeks earlier, that same reporter, Neil McCready, a writer for the local Rivals Ole Miss site, had predicted the Rebels would get thumped by Alabama. They did. Nutt never said anything about that. Earlier this season, Ole Miss got crushed by Vandy in a way the Commodores never beat another SEC program.
Nutt got off to a terrific start in Oxford with the Rebels winning nine games in each of his first two seasons, but recruiting has not gone so well and that has caught up with the former Arkansas coach. The talent level has fallen off. He's 1-12 in his past 13 SEC games and he may not even match last season's total of four wins. The Rebels are 116th in the total offense and 110th in total defense. It would cost the school at least $6 million to dump Nutt, but don't be surprised if both he and his AD Pete Boone both get the boot this year. It's gotten that ugly in Oxford.
3. Neil Callaway, UAB: Thanks to a big upset win over UCF last week, Callaway's team has finally gotten its first win of 2011, and with Memphis and FAU remaining, a 3-9 season is within reach. However in Year Five for him at the school, it'd seem like a mighty long shot that would be good enough. The Blazers are 118th in scoring and 95th in defense. Callaway is 16-43 all-time at UAB.
4. Paul Wulff, Washington State: The Cougars jumped out to a 3-1 start albeit those three wins did come against teams that are a combined 4-18, they have lost a lot of steam. They've been blown out the past two weeks, first by Stanford and then by an Oregon State team that came in 1-5. Wulff may need to win three of his next five to keep his job, and two of those are against ranked teams. The finale at Washington figures to be crucial for a guy who has seen his program getting a lot better over the past two years. Still, he is only 8-37.
5. Steve Fairchild, Colorado State: He got off to a nice start, going to and winning a bowl game in his rookie season. Since then, its been really shaky. Fairchild's just 3-15 in the past three years of league play and 3-4 overall this year, and on a three-game losing streak. Worse still, one of those losses came against arch-rival CU, which is the Buffs (1-7) lone win this year. With five games remaining, but only one is against a team with a losing record (1-5 UNLV), Fairchild probably needs an upset or two to feel some security. Keep in mind this is a program that only had four losing seasons in 16 years under Sonny Lubick.
6. Tom O'Brien, N.C. State: The Pack just got a big road win at Virginia, which has to help O'Brien's prospects. With dismal Maryland and his former school BC still remaining on the schedule, he has a very good shot to get this team to a bowl game, but even that might not be enough. He is just 15-20 in ACC play and generating only one winning season out of five may be a tough sell for the NCSU brass to buy that he's the right guy to lead the program to bigger things.
7. Larry Porter, Memphis: It's hard to dump a guy after just two seasons, but Porter is dangling after a brutal first year and some stunning blowout losses, including a 47-3 loss to Arkansas State and 28-6 loss to a Rice team that is 2-5. Porter, though, got a much-needed W last week when the Tigers beat a Tulane team that just got rid of its head man Bob Toledo. The Tigers still have a home game with UAB remaining, so even though 3-9 sounds horrible, it may show enough growth for him to get a third season.
8. Frank Spaziani, Boston College: The Eagles have been solid for decades and haven't won less than seven games since 1998, but they have really dropped off since Spaziani took over in 2009. BC had won 30 games the previous three seasons before he was elevated to head coach. Since then, it's been eight wins, seven wins and now they'll be fortunate to win three this season. Spaziani's career record is over .500 (17-16) but can he survive a horrible 2011, where BC is 1-7 and hasn't beaten an FBS program yet?
9. Turner Gill, Kansas: After doing a nice job at Buffalo, where he won a MAC championship, Gill is off to a disastrous start at KU. He's 1-11 in his first 12 Big 12 games and just 5-14 overall. Jayhawk fans left a lot of seats in last week's big rivalry game for K-State fans who watched the Wildcats smash KU, 59-21. They've been outscored in conference play by an average of 32 ppg. They're on a five-game losing streak, which could double by season's end with a trip to Iowa State being their best bet to end the skid.
10. Robb Akey, Idaho: After leading the Vandals to a Humanitarian Bowl win in 2009, the program has backslide again, going 7-13 the past two years and winning just three league games.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:03 am
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