Posted on: December 27, 2011 12:36 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 7:52 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Year's best/worst predictions

Time to revisit some of our best and worst predictions over the past year, which will serve as a double-barrel Tuesday Top 10 list.

The Worst

1. Oklahoma to win it all: The Sooners did sustain some big blows to injury, losing standout LB Travis Lewis before the season and then top receiver (Ryan Broyles) and top rusher (Dom Whaley) later. Still, the Sooners lost at home to a four-TD underdog (Texas Tech) that didn't even get to a bowl game and then finished the season losing by 34 to rival Oklahoma State. OU ended up the season tied with Baylor for third in the Big 12.

2. FSU is back and ready to play in a BCS bowl: The AP poll went all in on FSU putting the Noles sixth in the preseason poll. I was even more optimistic last April, placing them third in a poll I turned in. Instead, FSU, went 8-4 and just 5-3 in the ACC.

3. Maryland could go 8-4: I saw the ACC's top young QB (Danny O'Brien), a quality RB (Davin Meggett) and four returning starters on the O-line and said that 8-4 "seems viable." Um, not exactly. The Terps were a disaster, going 2-10 with one win over an FBS opponent, and that team Miami was a shell of itself due to NCAA player suspensions.

4. Texas A&M is a top 15 team: I bought into the hype around the Aggies with Ryan Tannehill, some gifted receivers and backs and a more mature O-line. Things fizzled in College Station so bad that Mike Sherman lost his job as A&M fell apart in the second half of games and finished 6-6.

5. Gus Malzahn - the hottest assistant in college football: It wasn't a surprise that the Auburn OC saw the Tigers struggle mightily without Cam Newton and most of the AU O-line from 2010, but you had to figure he could've gotten in on UNC or even the Kansas coaching vacancies, no? No? A video of an interview his wife gave certainly didn't help his cause. Regardless, from here it looks like Arkansas State was very fortunate to scoop him up.

6. Nebraska is going to win the Big Ten: The Huskers beat two top top 15 teams - No. 11 and No. 12 Penn State (those were the rankings when they met), but still only finished third in the Legends Division and were also blown out twice, once by Wisconsin, 48-17 and once at Michigan, 45-17.

7. Notre Dame will win 10 games and make the BCS: Once Brian Kelly signed off on embattled star WR Michael Floyd not missing any games, I figured the Irish had more than enough firepower to roll through their schedule. Trouble was, the team was far too mistake prone, committing 26 turnovers and had an underwhelming 8-4, going 2-3 against teams that finished with winning records this season.

8. At worst, Tennessee will go 7-5: Of course, it didn't help that the Vols lost QB Tyler Bray for half of the season and their best weapon, WR Justin Hunter for most of the season, but losing to that bad Kentucky team playing with a WR at QB to miss even becoming bowl eligible was indicative of a miserable season in Knoxville for the 5-7 Vols.

9. Clemson will struggle again and Dabo Swinney may be forced out: I figured new OC Chad Morris would help a lot but ultimately the Tigers would stumble too many times. Oh, they did have some problems in the second half of the season, losing three of their last five games but still thumped Va. Tech to win the ACC.

10. UCF would be a borderline Top 25 team: After watching the Knights win 11 games last season and beat Georgia in a bowl, I thought they'd have another strong season. So strong in fact that I had them as my No. 4 BCS bowl buster candidate behind Boise State, Houston and TCU. The Knights didn't even finish .500 in C-USA play, going 3-5 and 5-7 overall. They played six road games and lost all six.

The Best

1. Michigan will be a top 25 team this year: Brady Hoke inherited a team with 20 starters back and one of the top playmakers in the sport in Denard Robinson. Hoke was also smart enough to bring in Greg Mattison to shore up the defense.

2. Florida will not be ranked: I was surprised to see the Gators ranked in the top 25 given the fact that they had a dramatic transition in schemes and so much uncertainty on both sides of the ball. They also had to deal with back-to-back games against the best two defenses in college football, against Alabama and LSU. End result: 6-6, winning just one game in their final seven against FBS opponents.

3. Arkansas State will make a lot of noise in the Sun Belt: Well, I didn't buy that the Red Wolves were going to win the Sun Belt as ASU D-line coach Chris Kiffin told me they would before the season, but I bought in that first-year coach Hugh Freeze would lead the program to its first winning season since 1995. They ended up doing a lot more than that, winning the league and going 10-2.

4. Tony Levine -- fast-rising assistant coach: The former Minnesota wideout may never have been an offensive or defensive coordinator, but he's long been regarded as one of the top special teams coordinators in college football. He also had been a huge help for Kevin Sumlin in a variety of roles, so when A&M hired Sumlin, it shouldn't have been that big of a surprise that UH would turn to Levine, who has always been well-respected by those inside the Cougars athletic offices.

5. Mississippi State isn't a top 20 team: The Bulldogs lost a bunch of key pieces to their defense, in addition to DC Manny Diaz and that would be too much to overcome in the loaded SEC West. End result: 2-6 in SEC play.

6. Mike Locksley will be the first head coach fired this season: A brutal mix of on and off-field issues led to New Mexico canning Locksley before the end of September.

7. Georgia will win the SEC East: I wasn't sold that South Carolina, preseason No. 12, should've been the favorite in the lesser division of the SEC. I was sold that the Dawgs had the best QB, a good mix of young and old and the most manageable schedule (no LSU, Alabama or Arkansas) to emerge from the East. Of course, things got even harder for Carolina after standout RB Marcus Lattimore was lost for the season with a knee injury.

8. WVU to a BCS bowl: Despite all of the drama for this program in the off-season, I was pretty convinced Dana Holgorsen would spark a dramatic improvement for this team offensively. And, he did. They went from 78th in scoring last season to No. 19 this year en route to making it to the Orange Bowl.

9. Texas will be better, but not that much better: After going 5-7, Mack Brown made significant changes to the Texas coaching staff. I expected the moves to help but still was skeptical UT would be better than the fourth best team in the Big 12. They weren't. They went 7-5 and finished sixth in the conference but at least they were able to beat arch-rival Texas A&M. Then again, UT finished off the regular season with a loss to Baylor.

10. Urban Meyer to get the Ohio State job: Truth is, this one was pretty obvious. I floated that Meyer could be the next OSU head man at the end of 2010 before Jim Tressel was really in hot water. Then, once Tressel was forced out, Meyer became just about everyone's frontrunner for the Buckeye vacancy.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 8:53 pm

Barkley return setting USC up for a big 2012 run?

For Matt Barkley, the lure of NFL riches was simply outweighed by the chance to return to USC to win a BCS title after enduring two seasons low-lighted by an NCAA's post-season bowl ban.  And despite what the NFL economics may suggest, Barkley deemed it as having "unfinished business."
"When you look at the team that we have coming back," he said, "and see how the story lines up--from us going through the darkest points of USC's history and now how we're on the rise, I feel like this lined up perfectly and feel like it is something I couldn't have turned down."

Barkley made his announcement just about 10 feet from the spot where less than two years ago, he calmly fielded questions about USC's future a few minutes after hefty NCAA sanctions rocked the Trojans program. On that June, 2010 afternoon, Barkley spoke about how fortunate he still felt to get to play at USC and what a "privilege" it is.

No doubt, USC coach Lane Kiffin must feel pretty fortunate too these days: "Many times guys who are thinking about leaving for the NFL asks themselves, 'Am I really ready?' But this wasn't about that," Kiffin said. "Matt is ready to leave for the NFL. He is ready to play right now, but he wants to come back, and it's not just to blow away the records, it's for something more than all that. 

"No one is going to have the story he can have. Think about it: He grows up a USC fan. Comes here after they go to seven straight BCS bowls. He probably think he's gonna go to three more and then he's leaving for the NFL. Instead, the coach leaves. The AD leaves. The school president leaves. The sanctions come. . . .  This could be really remarkable.

"He can really have a legacy and go down as the greatest Trojan of them all." 

With Barkley, the leader of this year's 10-2 Trojan team that finished the 2011 regular season with a flourish that included a win at No. 4 Oregon, USC figures to be a pre-season top-five team, and perhaps No. 1 overall. Barkley will have quite a talented cast around him, including the country's best receiving duo in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee; along with a 1000-yard back in Curtis McNeal. USC's left tackle Matt Kalil, a likely top 10 draft pick, did opt to jump into the NFL draft but the rest of the offensive line returns. In addition USC also gets back standout safety T.J. McDonald, who announced he was coming back for his senior season earlier this week; the Trojans' top two tacklers were both freshmen linebackers (Hayes Pullard and Dion Bailey) and the Pac-12's best CB, Nickell Robey was just a sophomore.  The team also redshirted four blue-chip defensive linemen and just signed two junior college all-Americans on defense. On top of that, the Trojans schedule sets up quite well with Oregon and Notre Dame having to visit the Coliseum in 2012. But it's the return of Barkley that transforms the group from a top-25 team to a serious national title contender.

In 2011, Barkley blossomed, especially in the last two months of the season, throwing 29 TDs and just four INTs as USC went 7-1 over its final eight games as the team averaged 40 points per game. 

  The notion that USC could be a legit national title contender less than two years after the NCAA sanctions  were announced may seem vexing to many. The Trojans did lose a handful of players who were allowed to transfer per NCAA rules and Seantrel Henderson, the No 1 offensive line recruit in the country two years ago, backed out of his commitment to USC in the wake of the NCAA sanctions. 

Truth be told, the real teeth of the sanctions are likely to grind at USC after 2012, when the effect of losing 30 scholarships over three seasons (that part of the penalties begin with this recruiting class) start to really take hold, affecting the team's depth and their margin for error in recruiting. Lane Kiffin and his staff has been very strategic in trying to map out a structure in their roster building to keep positions well-stocked and this is a program that did not have a lot of seniors. Kiffin's decision to redshirt 19 scholarship players this season, a lot more than usual at USC, is part of his plan to cope with the long-term stress of the sanctions. 

In the short-term, the return of Barkley is huge for this program and on Thursday afternoon, USC sure was in celebration mode. The Trojans had all six of their Heisman Trophies out of their cases flanking a podium that stood in front of a large Christmas tree. A portion of the USC band was on hand to perform. Some of the USC Song Girls stood off to the right of the podium. Despite all of that, and the "unifinished business" mindset, Barkley and Kiffin, though, were quick to try and downplay the notion that 2012 now sets up as a "National Championship of Bust" season. 
"I didn't say a word about the national championship out there or the Rose Bowl or the Heisman," Kiffin later explained. "It's just about the team getting better every day, us getting to work and also challenging Matt to keep improving. . . . This is a really special college student-athlete story. And for us to be a part of this story is unbelievable for everyone involved."

Category: NCAAF
Tags: USC
Posted on: December 21, 2011 8:54 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 5:25 am

Mora: UCLA really needs a culture change

I had a chance to visit with new UCLA coach Jim L. Mora Wednesday afternoon. As you probably have heard, the former NFL head coach isn't a big fan of one of the Bruins' football traditions, the one where the players "go over the wall" and skip practice as they did right after their pre-practice stretching period on Tuesday in keeping up with something the upperclassmen of the program have been organizing for years in Westwood. It became obvious in the first 45 seconds of my sitdown with him that Mora is determined to change some things around the underachieving program and he didn't mince words.

"We'll honor the traditions here at UCLA that lead to us representing UCLA on the football field the way it deserves to be represented. Look at a guy like Troy Aikman or Kenny Easley or Maurice Jones-Drew and those great players, and we want to represent that history," Mora said, as he pointed to some of the pictures of Bruins greats on the walls surrounding him in his office. "There are also some traditions that are counter to that, and in my humble opinion, skipping practice is counter-productive to winning and its counter-productive to what we want to be as a football team.

"I'd heard about it but that has never been a part of my world. I've never been on a football team that would skip practice.  I think it is disrespectful to the coaches. I think it's disrespectful to your teammates. I think it's disrespectful to your athletic director and I think it's disrespectful to the men that came before you.

Asked if someone tried to explain the tradition to him, Mora shot back, "I don't care about the explanation. All I know is that guys left practice unexcused. And it will not happen again. That is the last time that someone will go over the wall and be allowed back inside the wall.

"(UCLA athletic director) Dan (Guerrero) and I talked about how this football program needed 'a culture change,' and if that wasn't the case, I wouldn't be here. And that action by those players right there is indicative of the fact that it does need a culture change. It's my job to change it. It is not going to be easy. It is not going to happen over night. It's going to involve in a lot of hard work, but that is the task."

I'll have more on my visit with the new Bruins coach in the blog in a few days.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: UCLA
Posted on: December 21, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 7:57 pm

Levine taking over full time at Houston

Interim Houston coach Tony Levine, Kevin Sumlin's right-hand man at UH, has been hired to take over the program full time as the Cougars next head coach, a source has confirmed Wednesday afternoon to CBS. 
  The 39-year-old Levine, a former wideout at Minnesota, has been running the UH football program after Sumlin left to become the head coach at Texas A&M earlier this month.

Over the past four years, Levine had proven to be one of the country's best special teams coaches. Since he got to UH in 2008, Levine's teams have returned eight kickoffs for TDs and blocked 18 kicks. That's fourth-most in the country in that time. He's also been Sumlin's assistant head coach for what has become a very hot program these days. 

Levine also been UH's inside receivers coach for the Cougars' record-breaking offense since coming to Houston when Sumlin was hired. A source told CBS that the UH brass was intrigued about hiring from within, in a similar fashion to the way Boise State has continued to develop its program over the past 15 years.

In addition to working under Sumlin, Levine has also learned under John Fox, Bobby Petrino and Tommy Tuberville in his time in college and the NFL. 
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Houston
Posted on: December 16, 2011 2:01 pm

Friday Mailbag: New UCLA staff starting fast

Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have a question, send it to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.

  From @ChuckMuselwite what are you thoughts on the start Jim Mora got at UCLA and his new staff?

I really like the hires Mora has made so far targeting aggressive recruiters (Adrian Klemm, Steve Broussard and Demetrice Martin) who know the California recruiting scene well. And, that aggressive, high-energy attitude can carry over to the practice field, where the Bruins really could use it. His new OC Noel Mazzone did a very nice job at ASU. Mazzone is an experienced play-caller who has continued to evolve over the past decade, from his time in the NFL with the Jets to his time studying up on the one-back offense variations. 

  Those three recruiters had really done so damage to UCLA at their previous stops and now they have a bigger brand to sell locally. They will now work to battle USC for a handful of blue-chippers the Trojans either had committed or were closing in on. What transpires over the next six weeks will be very intriguing.

  A few battles to keep an eye on: CB Kevon Seymour, who goes to the same school (Muir HS) that Martin, a former USC staffer, went to. Many recruiting insiders figured Seymour was heading to USC. UCLA wasn't even a factor. Well, the Bruins are a factor now.

Klemm had developed a relationship with OL Jordan Simmons while the coach was at SMU. Simmons is committed to USC but now Klemm is working hard to flip him to UCLA.

Ellis McCarthy is the best D-linemen on the West Coast. His father had wanted him to go to UCLA but the Bruins struggled to make a favorable impression with the 295-pound DT from Monrovia, CA. Martin, though, has a good relationship with the big man and his family and is working hard to get him to Westwood.

The Bruins also have a shot now with Arik Armstead, a one-time USC commit and one of the top line prospects in the country.

I'll have a lot more on Mora and the evolving battle in Los Angeles in the next few weeks.

From @GGutierrez01  I know bowls haven't started, but your guess of preseason No.1 going into next year? Thanks

It all depends on which underclassmen jump to the NFL and which remain in college for another season.  If Matt Barkley opts to remain at USC for his senior season, the Trojans, I think, will be the No. 1 team going into the fall despite the news that standout left tackle Matt Kalil is leaving early.

With Barkley, USC would arguably have the best QB in the country to go along with the top duo of wideouts in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee; a 1000-yard back in Curtis McNeal, an improving group of athletic linemen on both sides of the ball, their top two tacklers were both freshmen linebackers (Hayes Pullard and Dion Bailey) and the Pac-12's best CB, Nickell Robey, who was just a sophomore. Plus, Oregon and ND have to visit the Coliseum in 2012.
  If Barkley doesn't come back, my hunch is LSU would get that spot. The biggest question mark for them would be at QB but folks inside the Tigers program are high on Zach Mettenberger and he going to have a terrific group of running backs returning. We'll see if WRs Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle come back. The D-line should be even scarier next year; Tyrann Mathieu will be back. My guess is lockdown CB Mo Claiborne might not. Rangy CB Tharold Simon, though, would start for 90 percent of the teams in the top 25 and would be a good replacement if Claiborne does leave.

  From @YoAustin310 why is the south carolina scandal not getting ANY press?

I think it has a lot to do with the timing of when this all came down. It is a very crowded news-space in college sports right now. First, you have the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal, which, quite frankly has redefined what we see as a college "scandal" as compared to Willie Lyles/Oregon recruiting; Ohio State tattoos or Nevin Shapiro and Miami. You also have the constant tug of the coaching carousel news/gossip which has been especially hectic. You have BCS fallout too. 

  The mess with South Carolina is significant though as it deemed the three NCAA violations "major and serious."   In the Notice of Allegations sent to South Carolina, the NCAA alleged Gamecock athletes or prospective athletes received $55,000 worth of extra benefits from representatives of the school’s athletic interests and that the university failed to properly monitor two potentially improper situations. For more on this, you can read this story by Josh Kendall. 

We'll see if the NCAA buys that the Gamecocks' move of forfeiting six football scholarships over the next three years is a harsh enough punishment. Given the money involved, you wouldn't think it would be. Then again, the NCAA is so unpredictable with this stuff because it's just making things up as it goes along.

From @Bushwood41 PSU has lost some commits recently. Could they have prevented this if they would have hired a new coach already?

Probably, but do you risk rushing to just have a head coach in place in hopes of keeping a few commits rather than make sure everyone there is convinced you have the right head man for the long haul? I don't think so. Besides, if they find and can land the right head coach, he'll probably have a shot to be able to sway back some kids who were on the fence.

From @SilverCrushBlog why hasn't Delaware HC KC Keeler gotten any shots at a premiere FBS school yet? He'd be perfect at PSU. He already recruits PA.

I agree that he'd make some sense at Penn State. The guy has done a superb job at Delaware, especially since he replaced a legendary coaching figure there in Tubby Raymond. I've heard he'd love for the chance to take over at Penn State. They could do a lot worse.

From @PaysonRealtor  Do you have anything good to say about ASU's hire of Todd Graham?

He's got a lot of Texas ties. That should help give a jolt to recruiting in an area ASU can and needs to take advantage of.

From @BillBoettcher Claiborne is presumed the better pro prospect but if you had to re-recruit you would take the honey badger for college right?

I'd take em both. The risk with Mathieu is coaches see so many undersized, but productive, "instinctive" guys in the recruiting process where they debate just how well their ability will translate at the next level. And, to be fair, they can cite a lot more examples of those guys getting overwhelmed and lost in major college football than they can for the ones who shine. When I spoke to Frank Wilson, the LSU assistant who had been recruiting Mathieu for a long time, he said the kid's competitiveness and quickness were off the charts and he was sold. LSU is fortunate to have Mathieu. He is a special talent.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 11:58 am

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing bowl matchups

We're just a few days away from the official start of bowl season and I'm pretty fired up about that. This week's Tuesday Top 10: the match-ups I'm most intrigued by:

1- BCS National Championship Game, Jan. 9: LSU vs. Bama: I realize many of you don't want to see a rematch of a game that didn't have a single TD the first time out. To me, Les Miles is always Must-See TV and I'm very curious to see how Trent Richardson does against the LSU D the second-time around. Also, curious what the Honey Badger does on a stage this big. Pregame

2-Rose Bowl, Jan. 2: Oregon vs. Wisconsin: Chip Kelly's team will try and end its little two-game BCS bowl skip against a physical Badger team. The Ducks have had a hard time against top teams who have had plenty of time to prepare for their scheme. Wisconsin comes into the the game with the nation's No. 6 scoring defense. Pregame

3- Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford: So, you're looking for a BCS bowl where you'll see plenty of offense? This is your game. OSU is No. 2 in scoring nationally. Stanford is No. 5. I'm very curious to see how Andrew Luck handles the country's most opportunistic defense (42 turnovers forced this season.) Pregame

4-Outback Bowl, Jan 2. Michigan State vs. Georgia: The Spartans got embarrassed by Alabama last year in the bowl after a strong regular-season and come into this riding a four-game bowl losing streak under Mark Dantonio. Are they good enough to make a statement for the Big Ten this time around? Pregame

5-Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29: Baylor vs Washington: If RG3 is playing, I'm watching. . . . Oh, and if you're looking for defense, this really ain't it. Washington ranks 99th in scoring defense. Baylor is 109th. Pregame

6-Orange Bowl, Jan. 4: Clemson vs. WVU: A pair of cutting-edge offensive minds in Clemson's Chad Morris and WVU's Dana Holgorsen. Both have QBs primed to get a jump on some 2012 Heisman hype, especially since each is working with gifted receiving crews. Pregame

7-Sugar Bowl, Jan. 3: Va. Tech vs. Michigan: I know both of these programs looked brutal in January bowl games a year ago, but I'm curious because of the match-ups: Bud Foster's D against Denard Robinson sounds like fun. Same for Greg Mattison's improved Wolverines defense against David Wilson. Pregame

8-TicketCity Bowl, Jan. 2: Houston vs. Penn State: Kevin Sumlin is already at A&M leaving his righthand man Tony Levine to get the Cougars ready for a very tough Penn State D, by far the best defense Case Keenum has seen all year. The Nittany Lions are No. 5 in the country in scoring defense and No. 1 in the Big Ten in pass efficiency D. Pregame

9-Gator Bowl: Jan. 2: Florida vs. Ohio State: Hard to get excited about two 6-6 teams that have had such down years? Normally, that'd be the case, but given the Urban Meyer factor hanging over this game, you'd think there's a lot more pressure on Will Muschamp than on the OSU sidelines. Then again, how about the Buckeyes looking to impress their new boss? I'm in. Pregame

10-Champs Sports, Dec. 29: Notre Dame vs. Florida State: Two programs with rich histories who had duds of seasons amid a lot of lofty speculation. Winner can make the claim that they finished strong and were really "just a year away." Pregame

Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:57 pm

Miami's Miller jumping to the NFL

Miami RB Lamar Miller is leaving early for the NFL draft, a source told CBS.

Miller had a breakout season for the Canes this fall, rushing for 1272 yards (the third-most in UM history in a single season) and nine touchdowns. He leaves UM with two seasons of eligibility remaining. The 5-11, 216-pound back with sprinter speed blossomed this year after learning to become a more patient runner. Miller explained before the season that because he was in such a rush to trying and make something happen that he struggled to let plays develop. The difference in his performance was dramatic. He went over 100 yards seven times this season as UM's feature back. In 2010, he ran for 646 yards and six TDs as a redshirt freshman, while also shining as a kick returner.

Miller is expected by many draft analysts to be a first-round pick. He figures to test very well in the pre-draft workout settings. He is considered one of the fastest players in the Miami program and is expected to clock in the 4.3 range in the 40.

Miller is the third underclassmen to declare early for the NFL draft, joining WR Tommy Streeter and DT Marcus Forston.
Posted on: December 10, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 1:34 pm

Sumlin accepts Texas A&M coaching job

Kevin Sumlin has accepted an offer to become the next head coach at Texas A&M, a source confirmed Saturday to CBS Sports. The 47-year-old Sumlin, a former Aggies offensive coordinator a decade ago, led Houston to a 12-1 record this season. He replaces Mike Sherman, who was fired after coaching the Aggies, ranked preseason No. 8 in the AP poll, to a 6-6 record this year. Sherman was 25-25 in four seasons at A&M and just 15-18 in Big 12 play.

Sumlin, 35-17 in his four seasons at Houston, takes over at A&M as the Aggies are making the jump into a much deeper conference in the SEC. It is a A&M proud program with top facilities and great resources, but has only finished ranked one time in the past dozen years.

Having worked under Bob Stoops, R.C. Slocum, Joe Tiller, among others, Sumlin has long been pegged as "a rising star" in the business. Staffers who have worked with him gush about what a great motivator he is, saying that he is "a player's coach" yet a real discipline guy at the same time. The Birmingham, Ala. native is also regarded as a great closer with recruits and their parents, according to colleagues.  

Sumlin's name had come up in connection to other vacancies at UCLA, ASU and Illinois this year, but from the moment Sherman was fired on December 1, it appeared likely College Station would be the place he ended up. Sumlin did wonders there in his first time on staff. He took over the Aggies offensive coordinator role three games into the 2002 season and the team went from averaging 16 points per game to 33 points per game. They even upset No. 1 Oklahoma, 30-26 using a back-up freshman quarterback (Reggie McNeal). After two seasons at A&M, Sumlin moved on to OU before eventually getting hired to take over at Houston in December of 2007.

At UH, Sumlin built on what Art Briles had done. He gave an unheralded Texas Tech assistant Dana Holgorsen the chance to call plays. That proved to be a shrewd move. The Cougars turned into one of the country's most prolific offenses. After Holgorsen moved on, the UH attack continued to pile up points as Sumlin picked Kliff Kingsbury to run the offense. This year, the Cougars averaged 51 points per game and 599 yards of total offense, both are No. 1 in the nation. Houston made it up to No. 6 in the BCS rankings before being upset by Southern Miss last Saturday in the Conference USA title game. They will face Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 2. Sumlin will not coach UH in the bowl game.
Category: NCAAF
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