Posted on: February 7, 2012 1:02 pm
As we try and size up the best and worst head coaching hires of the the past few months, I thought it was worth delving into some of the top in-the-trenches guys and staffers who made news but on a much smaller scale during "the silly season" that is the coaching carousel. This week's Top 10: best assistant moves:
1. Oklahoma hiring back Mike Stoops as defensive coordinator: Some Sooner fans have been lamenting the Mike Stoops Jinx for years now noting that OU football hasn't been as tough or as effective, especially in big games since Bob Stoops' fiery brother left for Arizona. On paper, the younger Stoops brother certainly left a mark, coaching OU to the top or near the top in almost every significant defensive statistic. He also sparked OU to a school-best 48 wins over a four-year stretch from 2000-03 that included a BCS national title. During that four-year stretch OU had three top-five finishes and produced 10 All-Americans on defense. In the eight years since he's been out of Norman, the Sooners have only had two top-five finishes and six All-Americans on D.
2. Washington hires Tosh Lupoi as D-line coach: The Huskies had been atrocious on defense prompting Steve Sarkisian to make some tough changes. One of them meant breaking the bank for the 30-year old former Cal assistant, who helped mentor some really good defensive linemen for the Golden Bears with Cameron Jordan and Tyson Alualu both becoming first-rounders in recent years. However, Lupoi's biggest impact comes off the field, where his departure shook up the recruiting world in the past few months. Five-star DB Shaq Thompson took a late visit up to U-Dub and ended up signing with the Huskies. Lupoi also got long-time USC DE commit Pio Vatuvei to flip to Washington on Signing Day. If Lupoi doesn't bolt for Seattle, Cal probably reels in a Top 10 recruiting class despite the fact that it has a sub .500 record in league play the past three years. But the coach's exit torpedoed that, and yes, it was messy. Expect many more fireworks in the coming year and for U-Dub to be a player nationally on the recruiting scene as long as Lupoi is with the Huskies.
3. Michigan State retains DC Pat Narduzzi: Arguably the most underrated defensive coordinator in college football, Narduzzi was courted by Kevin Sumlin after the new Texas A&M coach arrived at the SEC program, but MSU was able to hang onto the Youngstown product. That's quite a coup for the Spartans. In 2010, Narduzzi led MSU to one of its better defensive seasons in years. But going into last season he had to replace four of the top five tacklers, including star LB Greg Jones. The result: the Spartans played even better. MSU was No. 6 in the country in total defense; No. 10 in scoring; No. 7 in sacks and No. 9 against the run. They won 11 games and finished in the Top 10 for the first time since the Nick Saban days in the late '90s.
4. UNC lands Vic Koenning as its defensive coordinator: One of the best moves Ron Zook made at Illinois was flipping the keys to Koenning to run his defense. Koenning transformed the Illini D from 91st nationally to No. 7 in one year. He also sparked a dramatic improvement in K-State's defense at his previous stop. In his last stint in the ACC, at Clemson, Koenning (pronounced "CONE-ing") did something no other Tiger DC ever could do: Each of his four defenses from 2005-2008 finished in the top 25 in scoring, total, and pass efficiency defense each season.
5. Urban Meyer reunites with Mickey Marotti as Ohio State gets a new strength coach: A huge key for Meyer in his run at UF was surrounding himself with a great staff. With the possible exception of Charlie Strong, no other assistant was more vital to UF's success in that time than Marotti, who goes back with Meyer to their days in Columbus in the late 80s when both were just beginning their coaching careers. When Meyer talked about his new staff at OSU, Marotti was the one he called his "most important hire." The one-time OSU grad assistant developed 22 All-Americans and eight first-rounders during his seven years in Gainesville.
6. Jim Mora recruits his ace recruiters: The new UCLA head coach had never really worked in college and there was a lot of skepticism about how the NFL lifer would acclimate to things like recruiting. Well, Mora wasted little time getting up to speed by landing a couple of assistants with deep California connections in O-line coach Adrian Klemm and Demetrice Martin, a pair of aggressive young assistants who grew up in the L.A. area. Martin helped snag Ellis McCarthy, perhaps the top defensive lineman on the West Coast, along with touted DE Jeremy Castro, while Klemm nabbed a bunch of other blue-chippers that included CB Ishmael Adams, WR Jordan Payton and OT Lacy Westbrook.
7. Paul Chryst brings O-line coach Bob Bostad to Pitt: The Panthers were beyond brutal up front. They ranked dead last in the NCAA in sacks allowed with an eye-popping 64-- 17 more than the next worst team. You almost never see such wide gaps in the pits of the NCAA ineptitude stats. That figures to get a whole lot better under Chryst and Bostad. The former Badger O-line coach developed four all-Americans in the past two seasons alone (Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz) as Wisconsin rushed for over 3,000 yards the past two seasons en route to consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. Bostad's O-line actually allowed two few sacks in the past three seasons combined in 40 games than Pitt surrendered in 2011.
8. Rich Rodriguez finally gets Jeff Casteel back to run his defense: Rodriguez' biggest shortcoming from his time at Michigan was not being able to have his former WVU DC with him to run the Wolverines defense. Casteel has coached defenses that have finished in the top 15 in scoring D in four of the previous seven seasons. In 2010, the Mountaineers were third in the nation in scoring defense. Better still, Casteel is bringing a couple of WVU defensive assistants with him to Tucson who knew exactly what he wants and does. They will have plenty of work ahead of them in the most diverse offensive league as they inherit a team that was 107th in scoring defense and 116th in sacks.
9. Florida goes to Boise for its new OC: Charlie Weis had a very shaky season in Gainesville as the Gators stumbled in their transition season out of the Urban Meyer offense, finishing 105th in the country in total offense. Pease moves south after working with one of the most productive QBs in college history (Kellen Moore). The 47-year-old Pease also had a lot of success in his days at Montana in the 90s and had some good moments leading an undermanned Kentucky offense in the SEC before moving to Boise.
10. Mike Locksley is back at Maryland: No doubt Locksley had a disastrous run as New Mexico's head coach, going 2-26 and being at the center of a few off-field scandals. He signs on with second-year coach Randy Edsall, who had a disastrous beginning with the Terps going 2-10 with only one win over an FBS opponent. But never underestimate the recruiting juice Locksley has, especially in that part of the country. He will get kids who would never get within sniffing distance of Edsall's program to give the Terps a long, hard look now. And the school made sure to sweeter Locksley's deal on that front. According to the Washington Post, if Maryland is ranked in the top 40 by either Rivals.com or Scout.com's recruiting rankings on National Signing Day, Locksley will earn $25,000. He'll also get an additional $20,000 if the Terrapins place in the top four of ACC teams in the Rivals.com or Scout.com's rankings on National Signing Day.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 12:36 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 7:52 pm
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.
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.
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: November 11, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 12:33 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me on Twitter at BFeldmanCBS:
From @ajohnymous Is the PSU thing the biggest CFB scandal of all time? Biggest sports scandal?
Yes, I can't think of a bigger college scandal. As I wrote earlier this week, we in sports throw around the term "scandal" for things like the free tattoos mess at Ohio State or Reggie Bush and his family getting taken care of, those things are nothing compared to the damage that has allegedly been done by Jerry Sandusky to so many children. SMU got the NCAA's death penalty and even the circumstances around that and the shocking nature of it all pale in comparison to this.
In Sandusky, you had a guy who had meant so much to the Penn State program and then you start reading about what he has allegedly done for years and years, turning so many children into victims, it's disgraceful. But there were also so many people in positions of leadership there that buried their heads in the sand. This is one of those situations where there really is so much blame to go around. It is so tragic.
Adding to that, is you have this iconic figure in Joe Paterno. For all of the wonderful things Paterno did for Penn State and that community--raising millions for the school library, graduating such a high percentage of his players, he always seemed to epitomize doing things "the right way" yet people will never forget this week. That he was fired for his role in not doing enough. That when he first learned that Sandusky, this monster was such a danger to little boys, he did not do enough.
There has been a lot of debate about exactly what Paterno was told and when about his former long-time assistant. But what I can't get beyond is, as soon as the 28-year-old graduate assistant, Mike McQueary comes to Paterno's home that Saturday morning in 2002, and even if he only says these words: "Sandusky... 10-year old boy... showers... Friday night... Penn State football offices..." you have to be so disturbed and outraged that you have to press for more details.
And, no one ever looked for that 10-year old boy?
Remember Paterno testified that he did receive "the graduate assistant's report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset" and reported to his AD that his assistant had witnessed "Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy." Remember Paterno is the most powerful man at that school and yet Sandusky, almost a decade later, was still allowed to be around the Penn State football complex as recently as this month? How was that possible?
The school's handling of the situation only seemed to stoke the volatility of the whole thing this week. You had Penn State president Graham Spanier's statement of "unconditional support" for AD Tim Curley and the other top school official after they'd been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected sexual abuse of a minor. You had the school issuing its statement that, while Paterno would have his regularly scheduled Tuesday press conference, questions about anything other than the weekend's game were off-limits, which indicated how little Penn State PR grasped the magnitude of the story around them. Even in the wake of the Board of Trustees announcement that Paterno was out immediately as the school's head coach, when word got out that McQueary was still going to be allowed to coach in this weekend's game, it only fed into more outrage because people couldn't grasp how the guy who had actually witnessed the heinous act and ran and called his father was allowed to coach, yet Paterno wasn't.
We are talking about such a proud fanbase and a school whose identity is so tied into one man in Paterno that has only added more fuel to this story on top of all that.
Earlier Friday morning after I re-tweeted a link to an interview on Good Morning America with one of the victim's parents, the link was titled "PSU victim's mother speaks" a Penn State grad asked me:
"Why does it say "PSU victim's" Shouldn't it say Jerry Sandusky's victim?"
I didn't label the initial tweet, but while Sandusky is at the root of all of this, given how Penn State mishandled this for so long after there was an eye witness a decade ago, this is more than just Sandusky that victimized people there.
From @michaelgraham How is Gene Smith still the AD at Ohio State?
Gordon Gee and Ohio State have stood by Smith as he's botched almost every aspect of that investigation for the past 11 months. Both of them have really stumbled all over the place. Remember that "poster child for compliance" comment from Gee? Smith's close connection to power brokers at the NCAA, though, seems to help Ohio State in getting a favorable verdict down the line.
Despite all of the school's public proclamations, OSU did get hit with the dreaded Failure to Monitor charge by the NCAA Thursday and Gee, the school president, did chastise Smith for failing to ensure that its now-banished booster Bobby DiGeronimo didn't keep his distance from the Buckeye players and the program. But Gee seems adamant about keeping Smith in spite of his handling of things in the past year.
From @NAFOOM pecking order for open HC jobs? PSU, Ole Miss, FAU, tOSU, Zona all I can think of right now.
You left out Tulane and New Mexico. The merits of coaching jobs will vary depending on which coach and his background is doing the gauging because familiarity is a big key often in a guy's success at a program.
I'll rank the current vacancies this way: Ohio State, Penn State, Arizona, Ole Miss, FAU, Tulane, New Mexico.
Ohio State - Yes, it has the ongoing NCAA investigation but still has top-notch facilities and history.
Penn State - The cloud of what has happened around this program will linger for a very long time.
Arizona - Improving facilities, solid but not great football history, close to fertile SoCal recruiting base.
Ole Miss - In a big league with some solid JC recruiting talent nearby but still in a conference where you're far from the legion of heavyweights in the SEC fighting the uphill battle. And it'd be easier to win the Pac-12 at Arizona than it would win the SEC at Ole Miss.
FAU - Nice new stadium in a small league but surroundied by lots of talent.
Tulane - Shaky support where you wonder how committed the school is to football but there is some good recruiting in the area.
New Mexico - In a better league than FAU but doesn't have the recruiting base near by.
From @VLOHokie how come VT's David Wilson, the Nation's leading rusher isn't getting any Heisman talk?
Wilson is terrific. I mentioned this Thursday night on our Inside College Football show on CBS Sports Network: Wilson won't win the Heisman this year but he is deserving of consideration to get to NYC for the ceremony. He's been consistently outstanding. The biggest thing working against him is he's done it a bit off the radar. Va. Tech's really not been able to get people's attention nationally this year. The Hokies have only played one ranked team all season, No. 13 Clemson and they lost 23-3 at home. Wilson did put up nice numbers (123 yards) but he had a fumble that set up the Tigers first score. If they'd won that game, things for Wilson might be a little different but it didn't happen.
From @ TimValenzuela Bruce, will USC be a contender for the Pac 12 South title next year when they get off their postseason ban? Enjoy your work.
Even if Matt Barkley and Matt Kilil both leave early for the NFL, USC has the personnel in place to be a favorite in the South in 2012. I suspect Kalil is gone. I think with Barkley it's 50-50 right now. He's going to school with his siblings. He's close to home and it seems like he loves being a college kid. Plus, the appeal of getting to take USC back from the NCAA sanctions after having been one of the faces of the program as it deals with all of that stuff in the rebuilding effort would be tempting I imagine.
With Barkley, this would be a BCS title contender considering the bulk of the young O-line returns, and Robert Woods and an impressive group of young receivers comes back. The defense should continue to improve as well. They're basically starting all freshmen linebackers now. The best DB, Nickell Robey, is just a sophomore and they're redshirting a bunch of blue-chip D-linemen.
Without Barkley, it'll be an interesting battle between Jesse Scroggins, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. All three came to USC as big-name recruits but the drop-off from the three-year starter running the show would be significant. My hunch is it'd be the difference between a BCS title contender and a borderline top 20 team.
From @chucktodd actual football? How is Miami 10 point dogs?
FSU is home and has been more consistent over the past month. Miami's defense has been very shaky. The Canes do have two wins over teams that were ranked when UM faced them (No. 17 Ohio State and No. 22 Ga. Tech) and that's two more ranked wins than FSU has this season. Then again, those two games were at home. The Canes also have lost two of their three road games this year.
From @KBourgeois43 RichRod to Tulane, any chance?
I doubt it. Just of the jobs that are already open (Arizona and Ole Miss) Rodriguez may be able to get a better job than Tulane. And, even if he doesn't get one of those two, many other better jobs will come open soon. I also wouldn't be surprised if UCF comes open at the end of the year and if Rodriguez can't get Zona or Ole Miss, I could see him being a good fit there in Orlando.
From @BruningCollin Due to PSU, My cynicism is at an all time high. Longer tenure in the SEC? Mike Sherman at a&m, or Gary Pinkel at Mizzou?
Pinkel. He's done a lot more with Mizzou than Sherman has at A&M. Sherman's going to have to really step things up to ensure that he's at A&M beyond 2012.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 1:28 pm
The Oklahoma loss was painful, but FSU's loss at Clemson is potentially and excruciatingly devastating, writes Mike Bianchi.
I was on the Noles bandwagon coming into this season. I didn't think they'd win the BCS title, but I thought they'd be a top-five team. They still might be able to get there this year, but it does not look good right now. They're just 113th in rushing, 105th in sacks allowed and 87th in turnover margin despite opening against two woeful opponents. The biggest issues for them emerged in Death Valley on defense, where they really lost focus and committed back-breaking penalties and some assignment busts. They just couldn't get off the field on third downs as Tajh Boyd, a guy who had only a handful of starts, playing in a new system, carved them up. On top of that, Greg Reid, their top CB, has had the kind of off-field problems you wouldn't expect from a junior trying to show he's a leader.
I know the Noles are killing it recruiting. Of course, they always seem to be killing it in recruiting. It's the focus on the field, which Jimbo Fisher said all off-season he was confident was getting there, that has been lacking. Up next for them is five straight games against teams they should pound before they host a Miami team that looks pretty shaky too. I'm not sure they can prove to anyone outside of FSU diehards that they are even close to back until the final week of the regular season when they visit the Swamp.
*One of Miami's top commits, Miami Norland High School LB Keith Brown visited Clemson over the weekend and "loved" it and told CaneSport that while he would still consider himself a very soft Hurricane commitment, he also says "most likely I won't be going to Miami."
Thing is, Miami almost certainly will NOT know its fate with the NCAA by Signing Day, much less in December when mid-year signees would need to know.
*Mike Locksley was fired over the weekend. The move comes as no surprise. His time at New Mexico was a complete debacle. In fact, it was a tour de force for coaching ineptitude. He was 2-26 and, it wasn't like they were close. The Lobos were getting drilled by teams, not close to turning the corner. Worse still, he himself had all sorts of embarrassing issues off the field on top of that. I was stunned he got a third season.
*The Randy Edsall Era at Maryland has begun with a thud and John Feinstein isn't buying that the former UCONN coach was brought in to rebuild a wreck of a program.
Finestein makes a good point. Edsall inherited a team with the best QB in the ACC. Danny O'Brien is the kind of building block few others have. The Terps also have some pretty good talent on defense. There are some holes, but going into this season, this looked like an eight-win team. Now, after a dismal 1-2 start with a hefty ACC stretch coming in early October, you wonder if this team will even make it to a bowl game.
*After getting blown out in the fourth quarter at ASU, the USC offense merits a D+ grade, writes Michael Lev.
QB Matt Barkley missed Woods for a touchdown, threw two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and lost a fumble on a sack. … The offense converted only 1 of 9 third-down attempts and scored touchdowns on just 2 of 6 trips into the red zone.Heading into the weekend, I'd received some Tweets from some Trojan fans grousing about why Barkley wasn't being included in more Heisman talk. My feeling was that despite some impressive stats, the jury was still out on whether Barkley should be in the discussion with other Heisman contenders. He has struggled late in games and in crunch time. He and this USC team also haven't shined in many big spots against tough competition. Those are the kinds of things you must do to be seriously in the Heisman mix in the end.
The way they fell apart Saturday night has become shockingly common with this USC program in the past few years now. They also seemingly have too much talent at their skill positions to be only 79th in offense. We'll see if they can get it sorted out. The Trojans have a very interesting October coming up with games at Cal, at Notre Dame and then against Stanford. Those are games that people will keep an eye on. Not against Syracuse and Minnesota.