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: January 25, 2012 10:23 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 10:36 pm
Pete Thomas, who started two years at quarterback for Colorado State, will transfer to NC State, his personal QB coach George Whitfield confirmed to CBS Wednesday night.
The 6-5, 225-pounder will be eligible for the ACC school starting in the 2013 season. He figures to battle for the vacated starting QB job since Mike Glennon, who blossomed in 2011, will be a senior next year. Thomas started as a true freshman in 2010, and does have his redshirt year still available, which he will use in 2012.
The El Cajon, Calif. native also considered Vandy and UCLA among others. He will visit N.C. State this weekend to check out the campus and meet with the coaching staff.
Whitfield, who tutored former Auburn star Cam Newton to get ready for the NFL draft last year, has been training Thomas since the QB was an eighth grader. The coach praised Thomas' work ethic, focus and his accuracy.
In two seasons at CSU, Thomas completed 63 percent of his passes and threw for over 4,200 yards. His TD-INT ratio was 18-21 and he was sacked a head-shaking 71 times.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 12:51 pm
As we get close to the end of the regular season, it's time to get into our year-end awards. This week's Top 10: the best coaching jobs of 2011.
1. Bill Snyder, K-State: If the Wildcats beat Iowa State at home, they'll finish 10-2, which would be remarkable given there were such modest expectations for this team every place outside the KSU football complex. K-State was, after all, predicted to finish eighth in the 10-team Big 12 before the season began. Snyder's team had only two starters back on the O-line and uncertainty at QB, yet here they are in the Top 15. The Cats have had an absurd number of tight games and they've won a head-turning amount, going 7-1 in games decided by seven points or less. Before this year, the KSU program hadn't won more than seven games since 2003 when Snyder led them to an 11-3 record.
2. Les Miles, LSU: Yeah, I know his team may have more talent than any other squad in the country. But to make it through a season without a stumble, especially one with as many formidable opponents as they had is very, very impressive. Nothing seems to deter this guy or his damnfineteam. Lose the best defensive player in college football (Patrick Peterson)? No worries. Suspensions to key players? No big deal. Hostile road environments? No problem. Potential QB controversy? Who cares? The Tigers are steam-rolling their way to the BCS title game. They faced seven teams that were ranked in the top 25 when they played -- and only two of those games were in Baton Rouge -- and they won all seven with an averaging victory margin of 19 ppg.
Fans, you can voice your opinion for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year by voting HERE
3. Kevin Sumlin, Houston: This is the hottest coach in the country with a bunch of intriguing jobs coming open. Sumlin should be their first call. He has done a terrific job elevating this program. The Cougars, who only had 12 starters back, are 12-0 and in the top 10. He has made some brilliant coaching hires that are paying off in a big way on both sides of the ball. They are averaging over 53 ppg, but also are playing pretty solid defense, ranking No. 30 in scoring D and No. 3 in TFLs. The knock (because there almost always has to be some knock) is their schedule featured no ranked opponents, but the Cougars could only play who was on their schedule, and no one has been able to catch them.
4. Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State: On the eve of this season, a member of Freeze's staff predicted this team would win the Sun Belt. Bold talk for a program that went 4-8 last year and hadn't had a winning season since 1995. The Red Wolves also only returned one starting O-lineman. But the assistant, D-line coach Chris Kiffin, had that much confidence in Freeze and what he was doing there. Monte Kiffin's younger son knew what he was talking about. ASU is 9-2 and 7-0 in Sun Belt play and Freeze's name is hot. He's either going to be the next head coach at Ole Miss, Southern Miss or Memphis. This is good offensive team and also only one of two squads that kept Va. Tech's great David Wilson under 5.0 yards per carry or under the 100-yard mark this season.
5. James Franklin, Vandy: I wrote in more detail about the transformation job the first-year head coach has done in Nashville in the Big Picture Sunday. In a nutshell, here's his case: A program that had won two games each of the past two years and then loses its best player to injury before the season (Warren Norman) yet still finds a way to go 6-6 in the SEC, and came very close to going 10-2. They lost games against Arkansas, Georgia, and at Florida and at Tennessee by a combined 19 points. If the Commodores win two of those, Franklin's No. 1 on this list.
6. Brady Hoke, Michigan: The Wolverines finally beat Ohio State after almost a 3,000-day stretch, and they won 10 games this season. Hoke deserves plenty of credit, although he did inherit a good situation with an explosive offense led by a dynamic QB and an experienced O-line. The biggest change came on defense where the Wolverines were lacking. His hire of Greg Mattison as DC is why Hoke's on this list. Mattison sparked a metamorphosis in this bunch, taking a unit that was No. 108 in scoring defense last season and turning it into the No. 9 D in the nation.
7. Willie Taggart, WKU: The former Jim Harbaugh assistant has transformed arguably the worst program in FBS to a respectable one this season. WKU, which had gone 4-32 the previous three years, looked like it was headed for more misery after the first month of the 2011 season. The Hilltoppers opened 0-4, even getting blown out by an average FCS team, Indiana State. But then they got rolling, winning seven of their last eight, which included wins over ULL and FIU, a couple of 8-4 teams.
8. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: A cult hero for his locker room speeches, Rhoads is emerging as a hot commodity, thanks in large part to his ability to contain potent offenses in big games and pull huge upsets. He was the architect behind the Pitt Panthers' stunning upset as a four-TD underdog of WVU when the Mountaineers were on the cusp of going to the BCS title game a few years ago. Earlier this month Rhoads' team did something similar by sparking the victory of another four-TD fav, Oklahoma State. In reality, it's a stunner this team is even bowl eligible if you asked Vegas experts before the season. Almost as impressive is his team's 5-0 record in games decided by six points or less.
9. Lane Kiffin, USC: At the mid-year point of this season, the people in Kiffin's corner seemed to be dwindling. The Trojans had looked shaky against some lowly opponents (Minnesota, Syracuse and Arizona) and got blown out at ASU. A road trip to Notre Dame was coming. ND played it up big. Outsiders talked about how Brian Kelly would out-coach Kiffin and the Irish would maul the Trojans. The opposite happened. Despite the shadow of the NCAA sanctions and no post-season bowl hopes, USC's been rolling ever since, picking up momentum. They ended Oregon's 21-game home winning streak, which had been the longest in the country. The Trojans finished the season hammering UCLA 50-0, meaning they beat their two archrivals by a combined score of 81-17.
10. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: I was close to putting UVA's Mike London in this spot but opted for Spurrier, who led the school to only its second 10-win season in Gamecocks history, despite losing his most valuable player, RB Marcus Lattimore early in the season, and on top of that had issues with his starting QB Stephen Garcia.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: October 5, 2011 9:48 am
A month into the 2011 season and it's time to look back on the biggest surprises thus far. And by surprises I mean pleasant surprises, not disappointments. That's a list for another day.
1. Clemson: The Tigers who have been perpetual underachievers prone to teasing more than producing may just have turned the proverbial corner under Dabo Swinney this year. Swinney hired former HS coach Chad Morris to run his offense and Clemson is really getting results, going from 86th in scoring up to 33rd. After looking shaky early, the Tigers, led by QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins, have responded by knocking off three ranked teams in a row, highlighted by last weekend's win at Lane Stadium. That W was also quite a departure for a team that had lost four of its previous five road games.
1. Nordly Capi, DE, Colorado State: Talk about a shocker. Capi was thrown into action four snaps into the 2011 season after standout DE Broderick Sargent was lost of the year with an ACL injury. Capi, a 6-3, 249-pound sophomore from Florida, who had no sacks in four games last year, goes on to terrorize the New Mexico offense that day, forcing four fumbles, setting an NCAA single-game record. And, the kid hasn't really slowed down much since, going on a five-game sack streak, CSU's longest since Clark Haggins had one of the same length in the late 90s. Capi, who is said to have a really outgoing and fearless personality (he wants to be a fire fighter after his football career is over), leads the nation in both sacks (eight) and forced fumbles (five).
3. Michigan Defense: The Wolverines D would be even higher on this list if they've played a few more decent teams (although WMU, ND and SD State do have capable offenses), but the fact that this unit has gone from 108th in scoring defense to 4th is still remarkable and a big tip of the hat to new DC Greg Mattison who has replaced Greg Robinson. Finally, this D is more than just stud DT Mike Martin as DE Craig Roh has gotten healthy and given them some presence and Kenny Demens, Thomas Gordon and Jordan Kovachs really have taken to the new system, which is a big reason why a unit that was 114th in pass defense has jumped 100 spots despite seeing some good passing attacks.
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor QB: RG3 has played out of his mind in the first month. The guy who arrived at Baylor with the rep as one of the fastest men to ever play QB in college football, has blossomed into a true passing threat. Griffin leads the nation in passing efficiency by a wide margin, has a sterling 18-1 TD-INT ratio and almost unfathomable 18-20 TD-INC ratio. For comparison, the No. 2 guy in passing efficiency Russell Wilson is 13-28 in TD-INC.
5. K-State: Bill Snyder is doing it again at Kansas State. The Cats went to Miami and took down a Miami team that was coming off a big win over Ohio State and then they took down a ranked Baylor team. Led by speedy Miami transfer Arthur Brown, K-State has gone from 78th in scoring defense up to 17th and this team has a decent shot of opening the year 7-0, matching last season's win total before OU comes to town in late October.
6. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin, QB: We knew the former NC State QB was good. His 3-1 TD/INT ratio in three seasons in the ACC was very strong, but it's been how quickly he has taken to this new system and his teammates and how accurate he has been that is so impressive. You'd think the timing with the new receivers wouldn't be as crisp as it has been. Remember this is a guy who had never completed above 59 percent of his passes. This year he's at 75 percent and is averaging a gaudy 12.5 yards per pass attempt, tops in the country and on pace to shatter Ty Detmer's NCAA record of 11.1 ypa. Just a part of the reason why RussellManiaXVI is running wild in Madison.
7. Ga. Tech offense: Guess opponents haven't quite figured out Paul Johnson's offense after all. The 5-0 Jackets, 71st in scoring and 119th in passing last season, have been very sharp in 2011 behind QB Tevin Washington who has been burning defenses with the pass, sporting a 10-1 TD-INT ratio and a passing efficiency number of 260.7 (he'd be #1 in the nation if he had enough pass attempts). Tech is #2 in the country in scoring and up to No. 79 in passing offense.
8. Auburn: The Tigers may have been in the preseason top 25, but they had many critics looking at all of the talent the defending national champs had to replace and were scratching their heads. Gene Chizik's team has looked pretty shaky at times, but this bunch is still finding ways to win close games. Their 16-13 win at No. 10 South Carolina last weekend earned them a place on this list as the young Auburn D kept Marcus Lattimore from running wild and limited Steve Spurrier's team to 2-10 on third downs.
9. The Big 12: For all of the chaos with this conference off the field, the product on the field has been better than expected. Both Oklahoma schools look like potential BCS title game candidates. Texas is undefeated and showing some spark on both sides of the ball, while getting some plays from its young QBs. Baylor knocked off TCU early and has been turning heads. Texas Tech and K-State are both still undefeated. Even though A&M's second half troubles cost them a win over future SEC brethren Arkansas, the Big 12 is still 27-3 in games outside of the conference play and has six teams in the PA top 25, the same as the SEC has.
10. Vanderbilt: James Franklin is generating a lot of buzz on the recruiting trail and that vibe is carrying over to the field, where the Commodores, a team that won four games the previous three seasons, is 3-1. Vandy's D has been very sharp forcing turnovers at an eye-catching rate (the school is No. 5 in turnover margin). Vandy absolutely dominated Ole Miss, 30-7 in mid-September in a way that jogged people's minds trying to recall the last time Vandy football demolished another SEC opponent the way they did the Rebs that day.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 1:12 pm
It has been a very rough first two weeks of the season for Brian Kelly. The Irish, a team many figured would be a BCS bowl team, are 0-2 and have been plagued by some self-destructive moves. The ND head coach didn't do himself any favors in the wake of the team's meltdown against Michigan when he said a challenging early season schedule has only made the mistakes more difficult to overcome.
“I believe that we’re going to be a good football team. We won’t be until we clean up the little things that keep popping up on Saturdays.”
I agree with colleague Tom Fornelli who said: "Why Kelly felt the need to take a shot at Ohio State's early season schedule, I'm not sure. What's further confusing about it is that Kelly is also taking a veiled shot at Toledo, a school that gave Ohio State just about all it could handle on Saturday, and one of the best members of the MAC conference which is exactly where Kelly helped make a name for himself coaching at Central Michigan. It was hardly an "easy game" for the Buckeyes."Bringing up a specific school doesn't seem like a move Kelly should've made. He ends up taking a shot at two programs when he didn't needed to take any. You're at Notre Dame. You're not supposed to lament these kinds of things. Certainly not publicly. When he was coaching at Cincy, his teams played the Eastern Kentuckys and Southeast Missouri States. He took the ND job knowing all of this. The Irish also do benefit from a pretty sweet BCS bowl relationship that affords them a different status than most other programs. Besides, Toledo, which has 17 starters back, is a solid FBS program. They have several players, including standout WR Eric Page, could start any most AQ conference programs.
*Legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowden revealed to the USA Today that he was treated for prostate cancer in the spring of 2007. He initially guarded his medical history for fear opponents would try to use the knowledge against FSU in recruiting. Just when you think the world of recruiting sounds about as crazy as it can get, you hear something like that.
"I did not understand the significance of prostate cancer back then," Bowden said in an interview with USA TODAY . "What I knew was when something like that happens to a coach and your opponents find out about it, the first thing they say is 'Don't go to Florida State, Coach Bowden is about to die.'
*Rick Neuheisel says he will no longer doing those post-game victory/loss speeches at the microphone following games at the Rose Bowl. I remember being at the Rose Bowl the night an undermanned Bruin team upset a ranked Tennessee squad. Neuheisel grabbed the mic and turned the place into a de facto pep rally. It seemed like the Bruin program was destined for greatness that night and yet it just hasn't materialized. It's certainly not for the coach's ability to work a crowd. According to Jon Gold, Neuheisel said he thought they had become a ''distraction'' and all about him and not about the team. He said he went to administrators, talked about it and they came to the same conclusion. Who is this guy and what has he done with Rick Neuheisel?
*North Carolina schools are having a very hard time keeping many of the state's best players at home, reports Tim Stevens.
*Florida linebacker Dee Finley was arrested on Monday afternoon after being pulled over on campus.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Finley is the sixth different UF player to be arrested since January and it is the seventh arrest Muschamp has dealt with in his short tenure.
*Touching story about how Vandy coach James Franklin provided Andrew Kittrell, an 11-year-old born without a leg with an unforgettable experience.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 12:04 pm
The biggest game of the week in at FSU where the Noles look for revenge after getting drilled last year at Oklahoma. Coley Harvey lists five reasons why the Seminoles could pull the upset. The biggest in my eyes was his No. 2:
When I visited FSU in the spring, Nole CB Greg Reid admitted to me he and his teammates thought they knew what they were getting themselves into, but they really didn't know what they didn't know. "That no-huddle offense killed us," Reid said. "I've never went through anything like that before in my life. It was a real learning experience. Coach [Mark] Stoops [FSU's defensive coordinator] kept saying, 'Y'all better tighten up. Y'all don't know what you're getting yourselves into.' And we were like, 'Aw, man, we got this. It's just a football game.' I had no idea. I'm looking over to the sidelines for a play and they're already hiking the ball. I can't imagine how hard it was for the D-line. That was real tough."
As much as the final score looked like a rout, the game wasn't even that close. Through three quarters, the Sooners led 44-7. Landry Jones, the Sooner QB, torched the Noles' defense, going 30-for-40 for 380 yards and four TDs.
"I believe we really didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, but this year, they have to come to the big brick place, they gotta come to Tallahassee," Reid said. "Everybody's excited. This place will be jam-packed. We got something on our shoulders where we have to prove a point, especially if they're preseason No. 1. From a defensive standpoint, we just have to stay focused, have fun and communicate. Not let the quick hurry-up offense get to us."
* Even though Stanford thumped Duke 44-14 in Durham, Jon Wilner notes there were some areas of concern for the Cardinal.
The Blue Devils aren’t any good, and yet they gave Stanford problems for a half, especially with their use of delayed blitzes to pressure Luck. I haven’t seen him get hit that much … ever. If he weren’t bigger than many of the players hitting him, he might have gotten banged up. Watch for upcoming Cardinal opponents to use the same defensive tactics — and with better players.
I spoke to a Duke staffer Monday who noted that the Blue Devils did have some success with delayed blitzes and they'd hit Luck when they brought six and seven defenders. They also had some success using line twists. But as Wilner says, this is a mediocre Duke defense. It is really young right now. Luck and the Cardinal O-line will face much tougher very soon.
* More bad news for Mark Richt and Georgia: The team's top tackler, LB Christian Robinson will miss at least a couple of games with a foot injury sustained in Saturday's loss to South Carolina, the AJC reports.
Over the weekend, Va. Tech's budding star David Wilson ran for 138 yards on 26 carries against ECU. In two games, he's now run for 300 yards. He's also broken 29 tackles, per the VT staff with him breaking 14 tackles on Saturday.* Rob Lohr was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week. The junior DT, who came to Vandy as a tight end/DE, became the first Commodore defender in more than a decade to post four tackles for loss. Lohr's four tackles for loss were the most by a 'Dore defender since linebacker Jamie Winborn contributed five such tackles against No. 6 Florida on Nov. 4, 2000.
* Tweet of the Day: From Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis, who has has been sidelined with a broken foot. @TravisLewis28 For everyone that's that's asking. . . Ill let y'all know by the end of the day if ill going to play this week
Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:26 am
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