Posts Tagged 'college footblog'

Mustard Stain on the Sweater Vest

Just months after hammering USC for violations, the NCAA didn’t even seem to slap Ohio State on the wrist for its players’ involvement in the selling/bartering of sports memorabilia to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor. 

Jim Tressel will be without a headset for the first two games of the 2011 season, and it could be more if the NCAA finds anything else (google images)

Instead of suspending the players right away, the NCAA erred on the side of caution–and TV ratings for the Sugar Bowl–and let the violations slide until the beginning of the 2011 season.  Otherwise, the 31-26 Ohio State victory over Arkansas would have likely been a much different outcome, considering quarterback Terrelle Pryor (one of the players who will miss the first five games next season) took home Sugar Bowl MVP honors after compiling 336 total yards in the game.

Today, a new development was uncovered that head coach Jim Tressel was made aware of the violations in an email last April that several of his players were selling signed memorabilia for money and free tattoos.  Upon hearing the news, Tressel did nothing, and admitted as much in a press conference where it was announced that he will be suspended for the first two games of this season for not coming forward with this information to the administration, and more importantly, to the NCAA.

Things could quickly go from bad to worse for Tressel and Ohio State for two reasons.  1)  The NCAA has already taken plenty of heat for the sanctions (or lack thereof) they issued to Ohio State during the Sugar Bowl and 2)  It turns out that the owner of the tatoo parlor, Eddie Rife, is under federal investigation for drug trafficking, which could easily open Pandora’s box on the program.

Tressel is known for his clean-cut, tie and sweater vest image, but this isn’t his program’s first clash with NCAA violations.  In his 10-year stint at Ohio State, his program produced multiple issues and violations with troubled running back Maurice Clarrett after the Buckeyes won the 2002 National Championship.

As the NCAA is forced to peel back more and more layers to what they don’t know and what they weren’t told, you can bet that college football fans (especially at USC) will be paying close attention to any further punishment that is handed down.

Advertisements

Fail! To the Victors!

In 2007, Michigan decided that the Lloyd Carr era was over.  The only problem was that the storied program didn’t have anyone locked in to take the vacant position.  Speculation was that LSU’s head coach Les Miles would return to Ann Arbor, where he played and coached, but Miles made an announcement before he led his LSU Tigers into that year’s SEC Championship game.

The Rich Rodriguez experiment did not go well for Rodriguez or Michigan (google images)

Michigan then turned to Rich Rodriguez, despite not being the program’s top choice to fill the vacancy, and despite the fact that Rodriguez’ coaching style was in stark contrast to the Wolverine’s 4-3 defense and pro style offense.  It was not a pleasant three years for Rodriguez or Michigan football.  In his brief tenure at Michigan, Rodriguez was 15-22 with just six wins against Big Ten opponents.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon showed that the program didn’t necessarily learn their lesson, firing Rodriguez in favor of what he thought would be Jim Harbaugh, who led the Stanford Cardinal to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory.  Harbaugh instead opted to take the head coaching job for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.  Brandon quickly turned his focus once again to Miles.  But, once again, Miles said thanks, but no thanks.

Brandon is hoping the third time is a charm, and Michigan announced today the hiring of San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke.  Brandon insists that Hoke was Michigan’s first option, but the timing of his hiring suggests otherwise.  Hoke’s season with SDSU wrapped up on December 23rd, when he coached his Aztecs to a bowl victory over Navy.  And yet the decision to hire him did not take place until after Harbaugh and Miles were not only finished with their bowl games, but the decision also came after each coach publicly announced their decisions to coach somewhere other than Ann Arbor.

On paper, Hoke actually looks like a better fit for the traditional Michigan program–he did, after all, coach as an assistant at Michigan from 1995-2002.  Hoke actually has an overall losing record (47-50), but he has shown an ability to revamp programs.  He led Ball State to a 12-1 record in 2008, and after a losing season in his first year at SDSU, Hoke led the Aztecs to a 9-4 mark.

He will have his work cut out for him as the head man in Ann Arbor though.  Not only will all eyes be on him to see if he can right the ship, the new head coach will also have to revamp, recruit and reconstruct Michigan’s defense, which ranked 110th in the FBS.  He will also have to give the Wolverine offense its second complete overhaul in four years if he goes with a more traditional offense that the Wolverines have been known for in the last few decades, instead of Rodriguez’ spread attack.

Add the fact that Hoke is taking over a programs with only three weeks before National Signing Day, and it could be at least two years before fans of the Big Blue can expect any reason to celebrate.  Brandon will go down as a genious or a moron when the dust settles, and nothing in between.  If he can’t dig the program out, Brandon will be looking for a new job long before Hoke will.

BCS Title Game Breakdown: Part 2

The college football bowl season is about to begin, and although there are several solid match ups, none are as intriguing as the title game, where arguably the two most explosive offenses in the nation square off, as Oregon and Auburn take the field in Glendale, AZ next month.

In the first of our three-part breakdown of the title game, College FootBlog took a brief look at the X-factors from each team.  In part 2 of our analysis, we look at the individuals who have led the way for each team–the head coaches.  

Gene Chizik When he was named head coach at Auburn, many experts questioned the hiring, mainly due to Chizik’s mediocre results as the head coach at Iowa State.  Chizik silenced most of those critics last season when he led the Tigers to an eight-win season and gave Alabama (the eventual national champion) everything they could handle in last year’s Iron Bowl.  Chizik slammed the door on the few, if any, critics that were left going into this season, as he has rolled through the nation’s deepest and strongest conference with a perfect 13-0 record.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has had a lot to celebrate this season. Will he be celebrating a BCS Championship next month? (google images)

Chizik

, who had been known for his defensive strategies, has relied on his offense since arriving at Auburn last season.  While Auburn has some play makers on defense, Chizik and his staff bet all their chips on Heisman Trophy winner Cameron Newton to be a virtual one-man show, and the bet has paid huge dividends. 

Perhaps even more impressive is how well Chizik has sheltered his team from the media frenzy that has surrounded the program since questions regarding Newton and his father handled his recruitment last season.  Through it all, Chizik has kept his cool, but more importantly, his team has continued to prosper, despite the negative attention.  Handling the media for a national title game should be a cake walk, compared to the last month.

Chip Kelly:  Oregon’s offensive explosion is actually a continuance of Kelly’s days as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator.  He took the OC job in 2007 and perfected the spread attack, and the Pac 10 hasn’t been the same since.  While the Ducks have athletes on defense as well, Kelly remains an offensive mastermind, and other than one game against Cal, no team has kept Oregon from putting up 37 or more points–the Ducks put up at least 50 points in and astounding six of their twelve games this season.

Like Chizik, Kelly is in just his second year as head coach of his program.  And like Chizik, Kelly has generated championship results, despite controversy surrounding his team.  Even the avid college football fans probably didn’t even know who Kelly was until the famous right cross of LaGarrette Blount connected on Boise State’s Byron Hout after the Ducks’ opening week loss to the Broncos.

Kelly suspended Blount, who had been his top running back, and publicly discussed the incident and his plan get his team refocused and to help Blount get back on track.  Oregon won the Pac 10 title last season, but in the wake of the Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State, his starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate, Jeremiah Masoli was dismissed from the team for burglary.  Even without his starting QB, Kelly’s squad has put up ridiculous numbers on offense, leading the nation with over 49 points per game.

Analysis:  Each program should be very excited about their respective head coaches, not only for this season, but for years to come.  There really appears to be no clear-cut advantage in the coaches.  Expect each coach to have his team ready to play, and the way they have led their players through previous media turmoil, don’t expect either team to be rattled because after all, each team has been in the national spotlight (for good reasons and bad) quite a bit the last several months, but each coach has persevered and each coach now has a shot at a championship ring in year two of taking the reigns.

Look for our third and final breakdown of the BCS Title Game later this week.

Changing of the Guard

Florida State’s 31-7 throttling of the Florida Gators this past weekend was much more than a win–it marks a new beginning for the Seminoles and a sign of things to come.  All three of the state’s major programs (Florida, Miami and FSU) have made runs, but with blow out victories over Miami earlier this season and over the hated Gators and Urban Meyer last weekend should have FSU fans very excited about the direction of their program.

College FootBlog takes a look at four major evolutions that were apparent with FSU’s coveted “State Championship”–something the ‘Noles had not done since the 1999 season.

1.  Talent discrepancy:  Over the last decade (Miami in the first part of the decade and Florida over the last six years), FSU was outmatched on at least one side of the ball.  FSU had no answer for Sean Taylor and the dominant Miami defenses in the early part of the decade, and they were absolutely no match for Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin.

My, how times have changed.  While Florida has plummeted to #78 nationally in total offense, the FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher has the ‘Noles have continued to develop into a more balanced offense, but the biggest difference has been the FSU defense.  After ranking in the 100’s in every major statistical category last season, new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops has revamped the D in the top 40 defenses in the nation this year.   While the Gators and Hurricanes have dropped to worse records this year, Florida State already has nine wins with two more games left in the season.

FSU Head Coach Jimbo Fisher beat rivals Miami and Florida in his first season (google images)

2.  Recruiting:  Florida State was already off to a great start in recruiting (Rivals currently has FSU ranked 4th overall), and the huge wins over the ‘Canes and Gators will only solidify a top five finish in recruiting.  There were over 100 recruits at the Florida game, and many of those athletes are considering the Big 3 schools in the state of Florida. 

Those recruits saw a completely one-sided game on Saturday, one in which the Florida Gators displayed an unimaginative, ineffective offensive game plan that generated a whopping 64 yards passing.  Meanwhile, the Hurricanes lost an overtime game to the South Florida Bulls, which resulted in a 7-5 regular season and the firing of head coach Randy Shannon.

3.  Preparation for the NFL:  Tebow’s lack of development as a passer was well-documented last spring before the NFL combine.  Tebow had to spend his spring retraining himself how to throw a football.  Urban Meyer was openly criticized by scouts and media for not making those corrections in the four years he had Tebow on campus.  In contrast, current Florida QB John Brantley, who is more of a pro-style quarterback has struggled mightily in Meyer’s spread attack, posting anemic numbers this season.  Despite having all the speed and talent at wide receiver, Brantley is averaging just over 168 yards passing per game.

In Miami, quarterback Jacory Harris entered the season on the Heisman radar, but he has noticeably regressed in 2010.  Both Harris and FSU quarterback Christian Ponder have been down statistically versus last season, and injuries to each have been a major culprit.  However, there is no question on which QB is more NFL-ready. 

4.  Size of Players:  Since Fisher’s arrival as the offensive coordinator four years ago, he immediately began recruiting bigger, more physical players, and that trend has continued on defense since he took over as head coach this past January.  On the defensive line, FSU is beginning to look more like an SEC team, with defensive tackles going from the 270 lb range to 285-300 lbs.  Defensive ends, linebackers and safeties are getting much bigger and faster as well (FSU’s starting safeties are Nick Moody at 6’2″, 228 lbs. and Terrance Parks at 6’2″ , 218 lbs.).

The past few years, FSU has lost games in the trenches to bigger, stronger teams.  That discrepancy was not as apparent this season, and as Fisher and his staff continue to recruit bigger players, along with an enhanced strength and conditioning program that Fisher instituted immediately after taking the reigns, expect this trend to continue.

Week 9 Heisman Update

With only six weeks remaining in the college football season, College FootBlog takes a look at who is making the strongest cases to make the trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony.  Here are the four elite players we feel have the best shot at bringing home the hardware this December.

Cameron Newton (QB/Auburn):  When you’re leading your team in rushing as a quarterback and your team is ranked #1 in the country, you’re making a very strong case for the Hesiman.  Newton’s numbers have been sick this season, averaging over 305 yards per game with 27 total touchdowns.  He will get at least one more chance to shine on national television when he leads his Tigers into Tuscaloosa to face Alabama in the Iron Bowl.  A strong performance against Nick Saban’s defense would essentially lock up the Heisman and an SEC Championship game.

Sophomore LaMichael James leads the most explosive offense in the nation (google images)

LaMichael James (RB/Oregon):  After missing the opener due to a suspension, many writers had removed the talented running back from their Heisman watch lists.  But James has burst back onto the scene and currently leads the nation in rushing yards per game with 161.  If Oregon keeps winning and James keeps getting his touches, he could be the fourth straight sophomore to win the coveted award.

Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State):  Once again, BSU’s quarterback has quietly put together the most efficient passing attack in the NCAA.  The junior signal caller has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, with only one interception.  With six more games remaining, he could end up with video game statistics again this year, and his Broncos have their best chance ever at playing for the BCS Title.  If his stats hold up (and based on his career, they should) and if BSU can secure a BCS Title game, Moore will have as good of a shot as anyone at winning the Trophy.

Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State):  Dez Who?  Blackmon has ripped through secondaries all season long for the 6-1 Cowboys and leads the nation with 158.9 yards per game.  In last weekend’s shoot out with Nebraska, the sophomore wideout eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark to go along with 14 TD receptions.  If he keeps this pace, he would finish the season with 1906 yards and 24 touchdowns–numbers that should lock him up for a trip to New York.  OSU has a tough road to finish the season, with games against Texas and Oklahoma, so keeping that pace will not be an easy task.

Look for another breakdown in a few weeks that will provide our pick for the top three, along with who College FootBlog thinks will ultimately bring the award home.

Week 9 College FootBlog 3rd & 1

Week 8 in college football was saw another big upset and saw a Heisman contender move to a Heisman front-runner.  We cover these topics and more in this week’s edition of our 3rd & 1.

1st:  Oklahoma’s lack of a vertical passing game finally caught up with them.  Whether it is conservative play calling or zero confidence in quarterback Landry Jones, the Sooners’ lack of the intermediate and deep passing game was finally exposed by the Missouri Tigers this past weekend.  In match ups against Florida State, Texas and Mizzou, it was abundantly clear that the OU coaching staff does not want the sophomore QB to make reads down the field.  Until the Mizzou weekend, Jones’ weaknesses were somewhat masked by a barrage of bubble screens and the fast pace of the no-huddle offense.  Mizzou walked their safeties and corners up to the line of scrimmage and kept the bubble screens in check, and begged OU to challenge their pass defense.  Still, the OU play calling was bubble screens and quick slants, and it cost the Sooners one loss and could easily cost them another if the coaching staff doesn’t improve the passing game.

QB Cameron Newton has led Auburn to an 8-0 start this season (google images)

2nd:  The Heisman Trophy is Cameron Newton’s to lose.  Auburn’s  junior signal-caller eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in last weekend’s victory over previously undefeated LSU.  Although his passing numbers were far from explosive (10 for 16 for 86 yards), the elusive QB rushed for over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a LSU defense that had previously only allowed one player, Tennessee’s Tauren Poole, to break 100 yards.  Newton is 9th nationally in total yards per game with 305.1 and has already accounted for 27 touchdowns, despite going against the stout defenses of the SEC.  If he can put up similar numbers in the Iron Bowl, not only will he have a great shot at the Heisman, but he will have the Tigers in position for a BCS Championship.

 

3rd:  Oregon’s offense is scary-good.  The Ducks lead the nation with just under 570 yards per game.  Their lowest scoring output so far this season was against Arizona State, when the Sun Devils “held” them to a mere 42 points.  Last Thursday’s 60-point, 582-yard thrashing of UCLA gave the rest of the nation an opportunity to see just how explosive the 2010 Ducks are.  Quarterback Darron Thomas has made everyone forget about Jeremiah Masoli’s departure last spring.  The sophomore QB has accounted for over 1,500 yards passing and 17 TDs to go along with 269 yards and two TDs on the ground.  Sophomore running back LaMichael James has picked up right where he left off last season and currently leads the nation in rushing yards per game with just over 161 YPG.

….and 1:  Only Iowa stands in the way of a Big Ten Title for Michigan StateThe undefeated Spartans invade Iowa City this weekend and face the Hawkeyes, who lost a heart-breaker at home last weekend to Wisconsin (who Michigan State beat earlier this month).  MSU has the luxury of not having Ohio State on the schedule this year, and after this weekend’s trip to Iowa, they wrap up the rest of the regular season with home games against 1-7 Minnesota and 4-3 Purdue, before traveling to Penn State for the finale.  If the Spartans can knock off Iowa this weekend, they can still afford to lose one game and be guaranteed at least a share of the conference title.  Look for Kirk Ferentz and his Hawkeyes to give MSU all they can handle in what should be a great game.

College FootBlog 3rd & 1: Week 8

For the second consecutive week, College FootBlog rolls out our 3rd & 1 feature, which breaks down three observations from the college football action from the previous weekend.  And we finish by giving one key match up to look for in the upcoming week.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

1st:  Another week, another set of hangover games.   Last weekend, the Alabama Crimson Tide fell at South Carolina after thumping the hated Florida Gators the week before.  This weekend, Kentucky returned the favor.  Steve Spurrier took his Gamecocks into Lexington, and the Wildcats shocked them 31-28.  Not to be outdone, Oregon State lost a double-overtime thriller to Washington, just one week after knocking off previously undefeated Arizona.   

2nd:  Michigan QB Denard Robinson cannot take the punishment of a full Big Ten schedule.  Although Robinson is the most explosive player in college football, Rich Rodriguez has no other legitimate weapons on offense, making Robinson a one-man show.  Robinson is on pace for around 250 rushes this year–if his body can take it.  They need more production and more carries from their running backs to take some pressure off Robinson (RB Vincent Smith is second on the team in yards and carries and currently has nearly half the rushes (70) that Robinson has accumulated this season.  More importantly, Robinson, who is listed 6’0″ and only 188 lbs. does not have the body to take that many hits in the thick of the Big Ten schedule.

Wisconsin's bruising running back, John Clay took it to Ohio State this past weekend (google images)

3rd:  John Clay is the real deal.  The Big Ten’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, along with Wisconsin’s massive offensive line smacked Ohio State right in the mouth this weekend, en route to this season’s biggest upset as they took dominated the Buckeyes 31-18.  Clay led the Badgers’ ground assault with 104 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 carries (5.0 yards per carry).  Behind arguably the most physical offensive line in the country, the 255 lb. junior proved to be too much for a Ohio State defense that features seven players who could be playing in the NFL in the very near future.  Clay and fellow tailback James White will get another opportunity to shine on national television this upcoming weekend when they travel to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes.  If he has a similar performance against Iowa’s stout defense, Heisman voters will be forced to take notice.

…and 1:  Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert will get his first major test of 2010 this weekend when Oklahoma comes to town.  At 265 yards per game, Gabbert ranks 20th in the country.  Statistically, the Sooners defense has been far from stellar this season, but a closer look shows that Bob Stoops’ squad has brought their A-Game in their only two legitimate contests so far this season.  The Sooners shut down Florida State in week 2 and rattled Texas QB Garrett Gilbert in the Red River Rivalry game a couple of weeks ago.  Look for OU to come after Gabbert, who has battled through a hip injury.  The Sooners will bring it this upcoming weekend, and they will look to ruin Mizzou’s homecoming weekend on the national TV game of the week.