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: November 18, 2011 12:26 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send questions via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @kcflatlander Why doesn't Colin Klein get any pub for Heisman consideration?
There are three big reasons for that: first, Klein was completely off the radar before the season. No one knew or expected much from him outside of perhaps some folks in the state of Kansas.
Second, he plays at a program that is far from a national name and gets obscured by having so many other Heisman hopefuls in his region. Going into the season, there were four such candidates at the Oklahoma schools alone. Then, Robert Griffin III at Baylor really flashed onto the Heisman picture in a big way over the first month. Klein and K-State really didn't start to get much notice until October.
The third point is that for a QB to have a decent shot of getting into the Heisman race, he needs to either put up gaudy passing stats or play at a glamour program or, if he's a running QB, needs to put up big rushing numbers like an elite back to go with some highlight-reel runs. Klein's rushing totals are impressive. He's run for 1,009 yards (good for 26th in the nation) and has 24 rushing TDs. That last stat has prompted some Klein supporters to try and draw comparisons to Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman in 2007. The problem with that is Klein's passing numbers aren't close to Tebow's.
Klein has a passing efficiency rating of 127 (ranking him 69th nationally) and a 10-5 TD-INT ratio. Tebow's rating was 172.5 (No. 2 in the country) to go with a 32-6 TD-INT mark, and his numbers came against tougher defenses in the SEC. Even if you use Denard Robinson's run last year, Klein's numbers are lacking. Robinson was in the top 20 in passing efficiency, was virtually a one-man offense and he still didn't win or get invited to NYC for the ceremony, and he plays at one of those few true glamour programs.
In reality, the off-the-radar guy I think deserves consideration in anything framed around the "Most Outstanding Player" talk in college football but has no shot at the Heisman is BC linebacker Luke Kuechly. He's leading the nation in tackles by three a game, which is a huge margin relatively speaking. But he plays defense and plays for a 3-7 team. Unfortunately, there is only so much a linebacker can do, even a great one. Kuechly's about the set the ACC career tackles record this weekend and it's fitting the team he's going to do it against, Notre Dame. His background is certainly worth sharing here though:
Kuechly was a 6-3, 220-pound linebacker at Cincinnati's St. Xavier High, a program that won a state title his junior year. He had a 4.0 GPA. He also was a lacrosse standout. "I kept telling every coach that came though here, this kid is special," St. X coach Steve Specht told me a while back. Ohio State though didn't offer Kuechly. Nor did Notre Dame or most of the top programs in the midwest. Duke was his first offer. The Blue Devils staff had a theory why other teams weren't sold: Kuechly, who wears glasses off the field, looked kinda, well, nerdy. And, he was soft-spoken. Coaches wants to see a guy who looks like Brian Urlacher, not like he could be writing computer programs.
In his senior year, St. X was playing its rival St. Ignatius. Specht spotted Notre Dame defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta in attendance. "I'm here to see #3," Tenuta told Specht.
"My #3 (Kuechly)?" Specht asked.
"No, I'm here to see the other #3," replied Tenuta, referring to Dan Fox, a similarly-sized linebacker the Irish already had offered.
Kuechly caught a touchdown in the game and was all over the field on defense, but St. X lost in overtime and despite Specht's post-game-lobbying, the Irish still weren't interested. Kuechly opted to sign with Boston College. He was named the Eagles starting middle linebacker in his first game and has not come out of the line-up since. This year, Kuechly leads the nation in tackles for the second consecutive season and, at the very least, should take home the Butkus Award, honoring the country's top linebacker.
From @TheCBurns Will Kevin Sumlin be coaching at Houston next year?
I'd be shocked if Sumlin is back at UH in 2012. The timing is too good for Sumlin not to make his leap to a bigger program now. The Cougars have a good shot to go to a BCS bowl this year. His QB Case Keenum is a senior and moves on after this season. Sumlin's name can't get much hotter than it is right now. There are some very intriguing jobs that are or are about to come open, which figure to court Sumlin: UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona and UNC. My hunch is he ends up in the Pac-12 in 2012.
From @ixcuincle will urban meyer coach in the near future?
Yes, I'm convinced the temptation to get back into coaching is too great for Meyer. He was able to recharge his batteries for a year, spend some time with his family but knowing that one of the few jobs (Ohio State) that he sees as elite is open will drive him back to the sideline. I realize there have been some reports floated that it is a done deal. I'm told by a source those reports are premature, but look for him to be running the show in Columbus very soon.
From @jhclay in 07 everyone was against UGA for title as did not win div/conf even though #3 and top 2 lost. But now everyone wants Bama?
First, I'm not so sure that "everyone" wants Bama. There's a lot of people who have been vocal about Alabama not getting another shot at LSU. One of the reasons you hear is that viewers were bored by the lack of offense in a game where there wasn't a single touchdown. However, keep in mind pollsters are voting for the second-best team. They're not supposed to be doing so as programmers, seeking out potentially the most entertaining match-up.
There are some differences between that Georgia team and this year's Alabama squad. That was a two-loss Georgia team that had been blown out in the middle of the season by Tennessee by three TDs. No one has blown out Alabama. The Tide has the best defense in the country and hasn't allowed more than 10 points since September. They also have a potent running game, led by the best back in college football, Trent Richardson. They have one of the better wins of the season, crushing Arkansas 38-14. They also went up to State College and blasted Penn State.
Another noticeable difference between 2007 UGA and 2011 Alabama is, at that point, the SEC hadn't been that far along on this run of BCS titles. That benefit of the doubt that the league is going to get wasn't really there. The run of five BCS titles in a row carries a lot of weight. To a lesser extent so does the fact that Bama just won a national title two years ago. That's still fresh in people's minds. The Dawgs, meanwhile, had gone unranked the previous season in the Coaches poll and had been upset by WVU in the Sugar Bowl the year before that.
From @jasongrant19 please discuss the disaster that is ole miss football.
It is stunning how quickly that program has fallen apart in the past two years. To go from back-to-back Cotton Bowls and then to four wins and now to a year where they're looking at 2-10 is remarkable. Ole Miss has had some clunker teams over the years, and in the two years I was around Oxford, the Rebels were really mediocre, but those teams were at least competitive in most games. This team has been thumped by Vandy and La. Tech and lost by double-digits to a horrible Kentucky team.
Houston Nutt walked into a decent set-up when he arrived at Ole Miss: lots of young talent that actually had plenty of SEC experience because those guys were forced into action probably sooner than they should'v been. Dexter McCluster, Mike Wallace, Shay Hodge, Cassius Vaughn, Kendrick Lewis and Jonathan Cornell and some really good linemen became the nucleus of good, fast team. Nutt also inherited a gifted transfer QB (Jevan Snead) who was sitting out but poised to take over the offense as the program's best QB, by far, since Eli Manning left Oxford. Having that triggerman was crucial. You see how awful the program has been without it. That bunch of players that Nutt inherited had been coached hard by the previous staff. Nutt came in, eased up, threw them a bone and they responded well.
The problems started to come because Nutt didn't recruit as hard as the old staff. You're able to get away with not recruiting as hard at Arkansas than you can at Ole Miss. His first few classes were huge, but loaded with misfires and guys who never made it to Oxford or didn't last long. He also allowed MSU to take over the recruiting in the state in his first few years. Eventually that caught up with him, as did the eased-up, players' coach mentality inside the program. The team had lost whatever edge was there in the early years of Nutt's tenure. Whoever replaces him will inherit quite a challenge. There is some talent, especially in a nice group of young receivers, but there are major questions about the QB and throughout the rest of the depth chart, especially on the lines. There also are APR issues the new coach is going to have to be very mindful of because they've had so much attrition the past few years there. It looks like this team has been mailing it in on the field so if you're the next coach you better hope they haven't been mailing it in off the field too by not going to classes.
Frrom @DatBoiMattyP Will you consider Geno Smith a top 5 QB next season?
It really depends on which of junior QBs opt to return to college football for 2012. Remember, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Barkley and Landry Jones all have another season of eligibility remaining. The only ones I think of that quartet who may return to college are Griffin and Barkley.
Smith has had a good season in his first year in Dana Holgorsen's system which was a radical change from what he'd run previously at WVU. Smith's fifth in the country in passing yards (350 per game) and has a stellar 24-5 TD-INT ratio. The team has also soared from 78th in scoring last season to 16th. I expect a big jump from Smith again with more experience in the system and with added seasons from an already dynamic group of receivers who all are expected back in 2012: Tavon Austin, Steadman Bailey and Ivan McCartney. Smith will come into the season as a legit Heisman contender, not a darkhorse guy.
The other top QBs for 2012: Clemson's Tajh Boyd; Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, Oregon's Darron Thomas, ASU's Brock Osweiler, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Iowa's James Vandenberg and Washington's Keith Price. Other young QBs closing in on that group: TCU's Casey Pachall, Illinois' NateScheelhasse, VTs Logan Thomas, FSU's E.J. Manuel and OSU's Braxton Miller.
From @DukeBlogMKline probably not getting any DukeFB questions but how do you assess progress in year 4 of Cutcliffe. Closer or as far away as ever?
I realize the Blue Devils are in a 5-game losing, but Cutcliffe has things getting better in Durham. It's just that things had been so dismal there for so long, it's going to take a lot of time. Consider this: the current senior class at Duke has won 15 games in the past four years and they'll leave the school as the winningest group of seniors since 1997.
This program still doesn't have the depth to handle the wave of injuries that have hit. Some 20 players in their two-deep have missed at least one game this year. The bright side is Duke will return almost every significant player in the program save for one OT and a safety. They also redshirted most of their freshmen class. Team speed has definitely been upgraded. The Blue Devils should have a decent shot at getting to a bowl game in 2012.
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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Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:02 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. If you have questions, send them to me on Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @hogeandrew With the blowout loss to Arizona last night, is Rick Neuheisel finally done?
I realize UCLA Dan Guerrero tried to be supportive of his coach in the wake of that embarrassing 48-12 loss but the Arizona game was critical for Neuheisel. Not only could he not afford to lose that game, the last thing he needed was for his team to get blown out on national television by a team that was 1-5 and ranked 119th in rushing. Zona finished with 254 rushing yards and clearly looked like the team that wanted to be there. The Bruins, who were still in the thick of the Pac-12 South race, never showed up.
The Bruins fell to 3-4 and 2-2 in conference play. I supposed if they ran the table, which would include beating ASU and arch-rival USC that--and probably only that--would save his job. But realistically, the team that showed up Thursday night does not appear capable of running off five consecutive wins. Four of which would come against teams better than the one that mauled them on national TV.
Personally, I like Rick Neuheisel a lot. I think he's one of the brightest guys in coaching. He's personable, funny and I can attest to him being a truly decent man. On paper, he has recruited very well at UCLA with his first three signing class all in the top 15. But for a variety of reasons, it just isn't working out: They've never been able to find a QB; the O-line has been a disaster for much of his time and the defense, which on the hoof sure looks the part, has not gotten any better. It's only gotten older. And when Neuheisel hit the re-set button on his coaching staff after three seasons, it hasn't gotten results. And quite frankly, it is all about results. It's Year Four and they should be doing better, especially since with USC falling off and dealing with NCAA sanctions, the window of opportunity has only widened since he arrived.
From @kacpeters where would you rank texas a&m in the sec this year (obviously behind lsu/bama at 1&2)
At this point, with Marcus Lattimore out for the season, I'd rank Texas A&M fourth among SEC teams behind Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. The Aggies have an explosive offense and a suspect defense, but one that is good at getting pressure on the QB. In many ways they remind me of Arkansas, the team that rallied to beat them. Now if Lattimore was healthy, I'd say the Aggies would also be behind South Carolina.
From @Ole_Met now that Carolina has an AD, any idea who they're looking at for HC?
My hunch is that Bubba Cunningham will take a long look at Auburn OC Gus Malzahn. Both have Tulsa ties and Malzahn is a well-respected offensive mind. His offense has struggled quite a bit this year (the Tigers are 77th in scoring), but a big dropoff was expected with the program losing Cam Newton and almost all of their O-linemen. Even if they finish no better than 7-5, Malzahn still will be an attractive candidate and I'd think would be tempted given the ACC is a lot easier to win a conference title than the SEC would be.
From abellwillring do you think FSU has a chance to salvage the season? Would winning out make the year a success or still a huge disappointment?
No. It's too late for that. This was supposed to be the year the Noles came back on the national stage in a big way. And, it wasn't just the media talking them up. Jimbo Fisher played a big part in that in the off-season. They came into the year ranked No. 6, but they completely fizzled. Falling to OU at home, especially after losing your starting QB is nothing to be ashamed about, but to drop three in a row, including against unranked Wake Forest isn't the stuff of elite programs.
Look at the rest of the schedule. There are no ranked teams remaining. There is nothing that will get people's attention and show that this isn't the same overhyped team that it had been in the past few years, where all of those four and five-star recruits didn't translate into Top 10 teams.
From @SteveFeenEven with Penn State's revolving QB door, do you think they have a legit shot at the B10 title game behind Redd and their D?
I doubt it. They are too sluggish on offense. If they're going to win their division, one of these two QBs needs to really emerge fast. I'm skeptical because you'd have think if it was going to happen, it would've occurred by now. Thus far, they've been winning on defense and, quite frankly, shaky competition. The closest thing PSU has to a good win is beating unranked Iowa, who had already lost to Iowa State. After this Northwestern game, the schedule gets much tougher, the Nittany Lions are going to have to do much better. They've played a bunch of suspect defenses (aside from Alabama and Temple) and they're still only 96th in scoring and 102nd in passing efficiency.
From @adamdounn How do you think The U will do the rest of the season? I love Golden and very impressed with Jedd Fisch on improving J-12
After this week's game against No. 22 Georgia Tech, the Canes schedule eases up some, I'd expect them to be no worse than 8-4, which considering they started 2-3 and with a ton of turmoil amid the Nevin Shapiro scandal and all of those suspensions, that wouldn't be too bad for Golden's first season. Not great, but respectable all things considered.
Fisch has proven to be a terrific find as the OC. People were skeptical because he had only one season as a college offensive coordinator at Minnesota and the results were mediocre. Well, it's been quite the opposite for him at UM. The work he's done helping get Jacory Harris' confidence back has been head-turning, as I wrote in the Big Picture. The Canes are 48th in scoring and ninth in passing efficiency despite having already faced four defenses ranked in the top 25. Keep in mind last year UM was 67th in scoring and 97th in passing efficiency.
That said, I expected more from the defense. Then again, that side of the ball got hit harder by the suspensions and has now been hammered by injury along the D-line.
Obviously, for Golden and this program, the biggest thing will be how much the NCAA can find -- and prove from the Shapiro allegations. And then how harsh the sanctions are.
From @gibsonjosh79 who has the tougher job ahead of them Will Muschamp or Derek Dooley?
Dooley probably does. He inherited a bigger mess, not just in terms of talent left in the program but the profile of the Gators program is still very high in many recruits' minds. The Vols have been struggling for a few years now, which is a long time for kids who weren't old enough to remember the Tee Martin BCS title team. Also, Florida has so many more elite recruits close by.
From @LandonP23 Is Tyler Wilson of <s class="hash">#</s>Arkansas hands down the best Qb in the Sec?
Yes, Wilson has been as good as advertised. Maybe even better. The toughness he showed when he got battered at Alabama was really something. The Razorbacks have had some significant injuries to some of their best offensive weapons, but this offense still piles up points. I give Wilson the edge over Aaron Murray, who has thrown seven INTs, more than double Wilson's total this year.
From @ChrisSedenka Is it time for Geno Smith to start getting more national attention?
Geno's gotten plenty of attention, and if WVU continues to roll up wins, his stats will surely keep people buzzing. Thing is, if he was going to really enter the Heisman race, he needed to lead WVU to an upset win over LSU on national TV. That was really his only shot this year at a cache win over an elite team. Smith was pretty good in that game, but despite the gaudy numbers, he wasn't at his best and LSU cruised. Smith just needs to keep growing in this system. Look for him to be a serious Heisman contender in 2012.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 1:12 pm
It has been a very rough first two weeks of the season for Brian Kelly. The Irish, a team many figured would be a BCS bowl team, are 0-2 and have been plagued by some self-destructive moves. The ND head coach didn't do himself any favors in the wake of the team's meltdown against Michigan when he said a challenging early season schedule has only made the mistakes more difficult to overcome.
“I believe that we’re going to be a good football team. We won’t be until we clean up the little things that keep popping up on Saturdays.”
I agree with colleague Tom Fornelli who said: "Why Kelly felt the need to take a shot at Ohio State's early season schedule, I'm not sure. What's further confusing about it is that Kelly is also taking a veiled shot at Toledo, a school that gave Ohio State just about all it could handle on Saturday, and one of the best members of the MAC conference which is exactly where Kelly helped make a name for himself coaching at Central Michigan. It was hardly an "easy game" for the Buckeyes."Bringing up a specific school doesn't seem like a move Kelly should've made. He ends up taking a shot at two programs when he didn't needed to take any. You're at Notre Dame. You're not supposed to lament these kinds of things. Certainly not publicly. When he was coaching at Cincy, his teams played the Eastern Kentuckys and Southeast Missouri States. He took the ND job knowing all of this. The Irish also do benefit from a pretty sweet BCS bowl relationship that affords them a different status than most other programs. Besides, Toledo, which has 17 starters back, is a solid FBS program. They have several players, including standout WR Eric Page, could start any most AQ conference programs.
*Legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowden revealed to the USA Today that he was treated for prostate cancer in the spring of 2007. He initially guarded his medical history for fear opponents would try to use the knowledge against FSU in recruiting. Just when you think the world of recruiting sounds about as crazy as it can get, you hear something like that.
"I did not understand the significance of prostate cancer back then," Bowden said in an interview with USA TODAY . "What I knew was when something like that happens to a coach and your opponents find out about it, the first thing they say is 'Don't go to Florida State, Coach Bowden is about to die.'
*Rick Neuheisel says he will no longer doing those post-game victory/loss speeches at the microphone following games at the Rose Bowl. I remember being at the Rose Bowl the night an undermanned Bruin team upset a ranked Tennessee squad. Neuheisel grabbed the mic and turned the place into a de facto pep rally. It seemed like the Bruin program was destined for greatness that night and yet it just hasn't materialized. It's certainly not for the coach's ability to work a crowd. According to Jon Gold, Neuheisel said he thought they had become a ''distraction'' and all about him and not about the team. He said he went to administrators, talked about it and they came to the same conclusion. Who is this guy and what has he done with Rick Neuheisel?
*North Carolina schools are having a very hard time keeping many of the state's best players at home, reports Tim Stevens.
*Florida linebacker Dee Finley was arrested on Monday afternoon after being pulled over on campus.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Finley is the sixth different UF player to be arrested since January and it is the seventh arrest Muschamp has dealt with in his short tenure.
*Touching story about how Vandy coach James Franklin provided Andrew Kittrell, an 11-year-old born without a leg with an unforgettable experience.