Posted on: February 17, 2012 1:31 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:38 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send your questions via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @Mark Johnson w SEC the best conf who do you think is the 2nd best after realignment?
There is a big drop-off between the SEC and the next-best conference. Having won six BCS titles in a row is quite an accomplishment and with four or five SEC teams expected to open the season in the top 12, it doesn't seem like anyone is close to make a move to overtake Mike Slive's league.
Going forward, I'd lean to the Big Ten in who I'd list as the next toughest conference. A big reason for that is Urban Meyer's arrival giving Ohio State and really the rest of the Big Ten such a jolt. On top of that you have Michigan now surging back on track, coming off a BCS Bowl win; Wisconsin coming off back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances; Michigan State coming off its best season in over a decade and Nebraska joining the league in 2011. The downside of it is the uncertainty of the direction Penn State is headed.
The other conferences I had right there with the Big Ten are the Big 12 and the Pac-12. From an off-the-field component the Big 12 still seems fairly unstable given all of the uncertainty around it and its recent history. On the field, you've had Oklahoma State rise up with consecutive top 10 finishes. We'll see if Mike Gundy's program can sustain it. Same for Bill Snyder at K-State. Baylor had a fantastic season but figures to backslide some with RG3 gone. OU had a "disappointing" season yet still finished in the top 15 and now gets Mike Stoops back to run the defense. Texas appears to be on the way back up after two woeful seasons.
The Big 12 also added two programs in WVU and TCU that are poised for big debut seasons because they both return a lot of young talent although the Horned Frogs, given this week's events and key player dismissals, definitely don't look as strong as they did a few days ago.
Larry Scott's league is on much more solid footing than the Big 12 big picture, but it's still coming off a season where one of the teams that played in its title game, UCLA, finished with a 6-8 record. That doesn't speak well of the league when something like that happens. Chip Kelly just led Oregon to perhaps its best season ever, but the Ducks still have the Will Lyles recruiting mess hanging over the program. Stanford lost Andrew Luck and a couple of other top 15 draft picks and the Cardinal are likely to drop out of the top 20, although with the way David Shaw has recruited, it doesn't seem like this program will plummet off the national radar. USC is poised for a great 2012, but after Matt Barkley's senior year, the Trojans will have to deal with the meat of the NCAA's scholarship sanctions. After these three teams, the rest of the conference is in scuffling to get to be Top 25 caliber.
From @Drew Conrad what do you think about University of Utah promoting a 25-year-old to OC?
No question it's risky to flip the keys to a guy this young, but Brian Johnson has spent a lot of time around some very bright offensive minds, starting with Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen, going through Andy Ludwig and Norm Chow. That's a pretty interesting mix of coaches and styles. From the guys in the coaching world I've asked about Johnson, I've heard a lot of good things. Almost all of those guys keep talking about how focused and smart the former QB is.
His experience working with head coach Kyle Whittingham and knowing what he wants is also key for a new hire. Johnson's level of coaching experience isn't much less than what Kliff Kingsbury had when he took over play-calling duties at Houston, and that worked out great for the Cougars. The biggest difference there though is that Kingsbury's head coach Kevin Sumlin had been an OC before while Whittingham is a defensive guy.
The short-term concerns here are that the team lost two very good offensive tackles and on top of that a terrific O-line coach, Tim Davis just left the program for Florida. And obviously, they need to get better at QB if they're going to be serious contenders in the Pac-12 South.
From @GoonerAggieFan Thoughts on the Staff that Kevin Sumlin has put together at A&M, including his most recent addition Terry Price?
It is excellent. He brought one of the sharpest young offensive guys in coaching with him from UH in Kingsbury. That guy is going to be a star in this business very soon. He also brought one of his betters recruiters in the Southwest in Clarence McKinney, and landed USF D-coordinator Mark Snyder, who is one of the top defensive guys in the country. I'll have a lot more on the Aggies in a week or so. I'm heading to College Station in a few days.
From @marty roberts If FSU shores up OL, how far u think they can go this year? And where u think they start in rankings?
Given all of the youth and newcomers from the JC ranks they're adding into the mix, that is a pretty big if. I'd expect improvement, but can this group make such dramatic strides to go from being as shaky as they were last year to the caliber of being part of a BCS title contender? I have my doubts, especially when you consider after last season's hype, it's basically anything short of a top-five season will be seen as a major disappointment/underachieving yet again.
The line was a mess last year. FSU was 110th in sacks allowed and 104th in rushing. You can't be an elite team no matter how tough your defense is being so bad in both those stats.
The other big key is E.J. Manuel also needs to take a significant step forward and become much more consistent. Part of his struggles, no doubt, were due to the inexperienced O-line and to his injuries, but you look at just how much he and the Noles struggled in their regular season finale at UF and it's clear this is still a team with a lot of work ahead.
As far as where the Noles will open the season, I'd expect them to begin around No. 11 or 12. On paper, there is a lot of reasons for enthusiasm: returning QB coming off a pretty good first season as a starter with a gifted young group of receivers, an outstanding defense returning and the influx of (another) touted signing class. The problem: it seems like we've heard much of these same reasons why FSU is finally poised to compete for a BCS title again before, almost annually in fact, and for a variety of reasons, it hasn't came true and things fizzled out. And, why I used the word "problem" is that I suspect that notion isn't something only the media now believes, it's something players on the team hear about so much that it's a challenge to not let that mindset seep into the locker room: 'O.K., what's going to creep up and muck things up for us this time?'
From @Omer Subhani how good/bad was recruiting job by All Golden considering circumstances? TheU
The recruiting job Golden's staff at Miami did this year, considering the circumstances of the avalanche of publicity the Nevin Shapiro story got, and the fact that there is an on-going NCAA investigation still hanging over the program, was remarkable.
As I said on our Signing Day Central show, I think there were three big keys to this class: the first was having a local star hold firm on being very public about his desire to be a Cane as Duke Johnson, perhaps the most dynamic running back prospect in the country, did. The second was stocking up on depleted positions (WR, D-line and DBs) with scholarship restrictions looming. The third was finishing with a flourish to build up that momentum going forward, and by reeling in Tracy Howard, the nation's top CB recruit, Golden did that in a big way. Remember, Howard was a kid who just a few weeks earlier was said to be a long-shot for Miami. Highly touted DE Tyriq McCord was another big late pick-up who many top programs chased hard.
If Golden can land a class this deep and talented in the face of all of the Shapiro stuff/NCAA player suspensions, it'll be interesting to see what he can do at Miami once the NCAA's ruling finally is known.
From @djr98 wat do u think of arkansas for 2012?
I like the Hogs chances to be a top 10 team, but I don't like their chances to win the SEC West and compete for a BCS title. Reasons for a top 10 run: Tyler Wilson is back, along with Knile Davis and they do get LSU and Bama at home this year. Reasons why I don't think they can win the SEC: I'm not sold on the defense. It wasn't good enough in 2011 and they're losing most of the best players they had on that D to the NFL.
From @joe king Who's gonna be next years Sammy Watkins,An can Hugh Freeze recruit well enough after Mullin has dominated the State this yr.
I'll go with Dorial Green-Beckham being the biggest impact freshman wideout. He has freakish athleticism at 6-6, 225 and will play in a wide-open offense at Mizzou with a promising young QB (James Franklin) where they run the ball well enough to stress defenses. That should enable DGB to have a lot of big-play opportunities.
Freeze is an ultra-aggressive recruiter and a good salesman. He also knows the area around Ole Miss as well as any coach they could've hired. I suspect he'll probably end up offering more scholarships before the summer than any coach in the country. I have no doubts he will get some talented players to Oxford. He was able to nab a couple already.
The on-field product is going to be mediocre for a few years, though. Freeze inherited a complete mess from Houston Nutt. Recruiting there had really tailed off save for Nitt's final class there. The program was in disarray and that won't be mended overnight. Dan Mullen just put together a very strong class, especially on the D-line and at linebacker. There is a pretty sizeable gap for Freeze to try and close.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:34 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 3:42 pm
Think the recruiting process gets crazy for blue-chip high schoolers? Well, it can be even more chaotic if you're a proven college QB who can be eligible immediately.
Danny O'Brien, a 2010 Freshman All-American and former ACC Rookie of the Year, who had a 22-8 TD-INT ratio while helping lead Maryland to a 9-4 record and a top 25 finish, announced earlier this week he's transferring from the Terps program after the tumultuous first year of the Randy Edsall Era in College Park. A pro-style QB who still has two years of eligibility remaining would intrigue a lot of programs, but O'Brien's even a hotter commodity because he's on schedule to graduate with a Business degree in the spring and would be eligible as a graduate transfer this fall. Much like former N.C, State QB Russell Wilson was for Wisconsin this past year. However, unlike many of these recent graduate transfer cases, O'Brien has two years remaining, not just one. Even the SEC's new rule restricting graduate transfers would be open to O'Brien because he has two years of eligibility remaining, not just one season. And that twist has only spiced things up even more here.
Edsall employed a system that didn't suit the 6-3, 210-pounder very well, and O'Brien, along with the rest of a team that finished with an abysmal 2-10 record, struggled. The young QB appeared to regress last year. Edsall benched O'Brien in a loss to Georgia Tech in early October and later made comments in the media that certainly didn't come across as a ringing endorsement of the quarterback.
After O'Brien informed Edsall of his decision to transfer, the coach said in a statement: "I'm disappointed by Danny's decision. Danny told me that he's not committed to our program. that he's not 'all in.' I want what's best for all of our players."
Obviously, Edsall wasn't happy about the news, and apparently isn't just showing that by the statement. He also had denied permission of O'Brien to transfer to Vanderbilt. That wouldn't stop O'Brien from being able to attend Vandy, but it would keep him from getting a football scholarship there. In many cases, coaches try and restrict the places where one of their former players can transfer to, and the criteria usually is if that other program plays in the same conference or appears on the schedule in the next year or two. Vandy, however, is not in the ACC or slated to face the Terps any time soon. (The last time the two schools met on a football field was in the late '80s.) But Vandy's coach is James Franklin, the man who used to be the Terps offensive coordinator when O'Brien had his breakout season in 2010. Franklin also had recruited O'Brien from North Carolina to College Park. In addition, Edsall has blocked two of the other former Terp starters (LT Max Garcia and LB Mario Rowson), who also announced they were bailing from Edsall's program Monday, from transferring to Vandy as well.
The players can appeal that decision to get Edsall's restrictions overturned. An NCAA source said that student-athletes often win such appeals.
On Thursday morning, O'Brien's high school coach Todd Willert, who says he speaks to the QB almost every day, expects the family will make such an appeal in order to have the option to transfer to Vandy.
"I believe they will," said Willert. "This weekend, Danny and his family will sort through everything. They think (Vandy) should be an option but I don't know exactly what they'll decide. It should be an option for him. Just be fair to everybody. Danny has no ill will towards anybody."
Attempts to reach O'Brien on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Among the schools believed to be in the mix to land O'Brien in addition to Vandy are Wisconsin, Stanford, Michigan State, East Carolina and Ole Miss. Willert would not disclose which programs O'Brien has had contact with but says there has been a lot of interest.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:14 pm
Here is the Friday Mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @ShawnMoritz Do you think Bielema has a legit argument against Urban and his recruiting tactics?
Well, I'd love to know exactly what Bret Bielema is talking about in regards to Meyer's tactics. During his Signing Day press conference, the Wisconsin coach made reference to Meyer using "illegal" recruiting tactics. What rules specifically was the new OSU coach breaking? Bielema spoke to the Sporting News on Thursday:
“I called Urban and we spoke about it,” Bielema said. “We talked about it, and he said it would stop and it did. I’ll let our commissioner deal with anything else. That’s not who we are (in the Big Ten). We settle things among ourselves as coaches.”
On top of that, there were also some folks at Michigan State who weren't thrilled with Meyer either apparently. In reality, rival coaches never seem to mind when a program is losing out on coveted recruits or not winning games, but when it's the opposite that's when coaches get chaffed.
IF it all stems from one program going after another program's commitments, and this isn't the first time we've heard some carping about this within the Big Ten, I'm shrugging my shoulders on it. Welcome to the 21st Century, Big Ten. To paraphrase Dan Hawkins, it's D1 football. They're all competing for Rose Bowls and BCS bowls (at least theoretically), and even if Big Ten coaches are trying to be demure in their explanations, it all ends up reduced to he said/he said, gossipy semantics.
This all feels a lot like the laments about negative recruiting and how coaches spin that they really don't do it, when they essentially all do. The upshot: it only adds to the intrigue when we actually get back into the games.
A final point about this: One thing that has happened in the aftermath of signing day is there really has been a lot of muddled reaction/grousing in comments made by coaches to both the media and/or booster groups that has gotten picked up and parsed around via social media, and in that process has created quite a combustible brew that has gotten lumped together. It's a big mess and been hard to keep straight about who said what about whom?
From @hogeandrew What were the most shocking announcements on LOI day?
Seeing five-star WR Deontay Greenberry, a long-time Notre Dame commit, flip to Houston on Signing Day. Just getting Greenberry to visit UH was something of a stunner considering how many bigger programs tried to sway this kid. But for Tony Levine's program to actually reel him in was THE shocker of the day. It wasn't even like this was a local kid UH was keeping home. It was a California guy, but the track record of the Cougars offense and the fact that they have to replace four prolific wideouts only sweetened UH's sales pitch.
From @bsu90 Do you think signing day has gotten out of hand?
You're talking to someone who just did eight-hours straight of live signing day coverage. I also spent two years of my life detailing the inner workings of the recruiting process a few years ago, and the whole thing has only gotten crazier in the five years since.
Out of hand? Yep, it is. And I, along with my brethren in the media would be kidding myself if I didn't own up to the fact that we contribute to the madness by covering it, and yes, hyping it. Often times, it seems like one big farce. Truth is, it is a huge business and because so many people are addicted to it, things only get more out of hand each year.
From @jeffriesj78 with Iowa's good recruiting class this year, multiple 4* and nice group of 3*, how high can we go next season?
From the coaches I've talked to over the past few months, the Hawkeyes landed a few really coveted guys with the athleticism to come in and contribute right away: RB Greg Garmon and D-lineman Faith Ekakitie, who one rival recruiter told me was one of the most gifted line prospects in the entire country. He and fellow DL Jaleel Johnson may be too talented not to get into the rotation, especially for a program that has lost five outstanding D-linemen in the past two seasons to the NFL.
Garmon and another RB signee Barkley Hill will get really long looks in camp because tailback is a big need for the Hawkeyes given the departures of Marcus Coker and Mika'il McCall.
In terms of Iowa's prospects in 2012, it sure helps that James Vandenberg is back. He's one of the more talented QBs in the country and had a strong first season as a starter, although he did tail off some in the final two games of the year.
Overall, I feel like this program may have lost too many key guys (on the O-line, Marvin McNutt) to be a top 15 team, but this is always gonna be a well-coached group and there is still plenty of talent to crack the top 25 IF the young guys can step into significant roles.
From @CarlBleich for Florida's big 3...was there a bigger recruiting get than Miami getting Tracy Howard?
FSU, UF and Miami each landed more than their share of gems on Wednesday. DT Eddie Goldman was cause for big celebration in the Noles war room, and Florida snagging Dante Fowler surely elicited similar in Gainesville, but I doubt either tops the significance of the nation's top CB, Tracy Howard opting to stay home and play at Miami. The two biggest reasons: First, Miami has been depleted at corner for the past two years. Second, it makes a huge statement for a program that has the cloud of an NCAA investigation hanging over it that appeared like it was going to scare off most local blue-chippers (outside of RB Duke Johnson) but in the end, that didn't happen. And Howard, a guy who sounded like a long-shot for Miami just a few weeks earlier, is major proof of the belief recruits have in Al Golden's program. Howard's statement is very big for the Class of 2013 as well, much as I would say Dorial Green-Beckham signing with Mizzou is for the Tigers in big picture sense because it tells future blue-chippers, Mizzou is "big-time."
From olemissking1977 How do you think Miss States class did, I live The Dline Mullen put together
It was a very impressive group. State landed arguably the top JC player in the nation in DE Denico Autry, who was chased after by half the SEC. Autry is a small-town kid and just loved the fit there. Starkville is the biggest place he's ever lived. DT Quay Evans, who's already at MSU was one of the top interior guys in the South. Evans is the typical, explosive D-tackle that has helped spark the SEC into the elite college football conference. One other coup was beating Tennessee, Stanford and arch-rival Ole Miss for Richie Brown, the top linebacker in the state of Mississippi and four-star talent Beniquez Brown, who was another hot commodity.
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 4, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 8:32 am
After leading an Arkansas State program that hadn't had a winning season since 1995, to a 10-2 record this year, Hugh Freeze informed his players at a Monday morning meeting that he has accepted the head coaching job at Ole Miss, a source told CBS.
Freeze takes over a Rebels program that is coming off a brutal 2-10 year, its worst season in school history. He replaces Houston Nutt, who was fired after four seasons at Ole Miss. The Rebels are in the midst of a school-record 14-game losing streak in SEC play. They were hammered by Vanderbilt, lost 30-13 to Kentucky and blasted 27-7 by Louisiana Tech at the Rebels homecoming weekend. They were 11th in the SEC in scoring offense and 12th in the league in scoring defense. Under Nutt recruiting had lagged, where many of the top signees he landed either never made it to Oxford or fizzled and ended up leaving the program.
Freeze, known for running his up-tempo offensive system, will return to Oxford, where he coached for three seasons while he was an assistant on Ed Orgeron's staff. He had been the Rebels interim head coach in the transition after Orgeron was fired, but was not kept on staff after Nutt was hired.
In 2010, Freeze sparked a big improvement after joining the Red Wolves as offensive coordinator, turning a unit that had been 95th in scoring and turning it No. 43 nationally. Still, the team only went 4-8. Head coach Steve Roberts was fired, but Freeze stayed on, getting promoted to head coach. Prior to coming to the Sun Belt school, he spent two seasons at NAIA Lambuth, where he went 20-5.
Before getting into college coaching, Freeze coached for 13 years at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis. At one point, his teams went to six consecutive state championships. A Senatobia, Miss. native, Freeze did not play college football, but did graduate with a mathematics degree from Southern Miss.
Expect several of the members of Freeze's staff from Arkansas State to come with him to Oxford.
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: 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.