Posted on: January 20, 2011 3:51 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College football fans love to chatter about which of the 11 FBS conferences is best. They get much less excited to discuss which of them is worst, though for the few who do, this past bowl season provided some quality fodder when the two leagues generally considered the FBS's weakest -- the MAC and Sun Belt -- squared off in three different bowl games. The Sun Belt came out ahead 2-1, with Troy dominating Ohio and FIU winning a 34-32 barnburner over Toledo. (MAC champion Miami (Ohio) did cruise past Middle Tennessee State for the Midwestern league's victory in the MAC-SBC "Challenge.") Case closed?
Not even close. This week the College Football Blog reviewed all 22 (or 21, if you don't count Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia) new head coaching hires in our Headset Reset series , and that review turned up something interesting about the Sun Belt and the MAC: namely, that the MAC is making much stronger coaching hires.
First, look at the MAC's new coaches : two of them are coordinators from two of the 2010 Big Ten co-champions; one was the offensive coordinator and highest-ranking assistant for Urban Meyer's national-title winning program at Florida ; one was a longtime position coach and ace recruiter for Ohio State; and the "weakest" of the hires on paper, Ball State's Pete Lembo, is a 40-year-old coach with 10 years of successful head coaching experience on the FCS level already under his belt.
Contrast that with the Sun Belt's three choices: one a promotion from within the Arkansas State staff, one a potentially past-his-prime Florida position coach, the other the Mississippi State wide receivers coach.
All three of those hires could prove to be shrewd (it's not as if Dan McCarney and Mark Hudspeth don't have quality head coaching experience to draw on, and Hugh Freeze has been knocking on the door of his own head coaching gig for years). But if the MAC is to the Big Ten as the Sun Belt is to the SEC, then you'd have seen the SBC hiring the SEC equivalents of Don Treadwell or Dave Doeren (pictured at right), well-regarded college-first coordinators like Manny Diaz or John Chavis or Mike Bobo. That's not happening. In fact, the only 2010 SEC coordinator to take a head coaching job this offseason went to ... Temple.
(As an aside, this might also be an indication of the relative strength of the Big Ten and SEC; where SEC schools are willing to pay top dollar to retain their best assistants and keep them out of the clutches of smaller schools, the Big Ten watches the likes of Treadwell and Doeren walk away.)
The Sun Belt's bowl performance was nice. But until they show they can land the same caliber of coaching talent as their Midwestern counterparts (or, more easily, the WAC says its official goodbyes to Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii) they should continue to be regarded at the bottom of the FBS conference barrel.
Tags: Arkansas State, Ball State, Big Ten, Dan McCarney, Dana Holgorsen, Dave Doeren, Don Treadwell, FIU, Florida, Fresno State, Hawaii, Headset Reset, Hugh Freeze, John Chavis, MAC, Manny Diaz, Mark Hudspeth, Miami (Ohio), Middle Tennessee State, Mike Bobo, Mississippi State, Nevada, Ohio, Ohio State, Pete Lembo, SEC, Steve Addazio, Temple, Toledo, Troy, Urban Meyer, WAC, West Virginia
Posted on: January 19, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2011 5:30 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
"Headset Reset " is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in the Pac-12 and Big Ten.
DAVID SHAW, Stanford
JON EMBREE, Colorado
JERRY KILL, Minnesota
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Big Ten, Bill McCartney, Bob Bowlsby, Boise State, Brady Hoke, Brent Pease, Chris Petersen, Colorado, Dan Hawkins, David Shaw, DeMarco Murray, FCS, Glen Mason, Headset Reset, Indiana, Iowa, Jerry Kill, Jon Embree, Kevin Wilson, Kevin Wilson, MAC, Minnesota, Mountain West, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-12, Rich Rodriguez, Southern Illinois, Stanford, Tim Brewster, USC, WAC
Posted on: January 19, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2011 12:48 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Who knew that an entire conference could disappear right before our eyes? That seems to be exactly what's happening to the WAC. The conference has already lost Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii to the Mountain West -- which has been hemorrhaging teams of its own -- and now it seems like the conference could be about to lose another school.
According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, talks have begun within the Mountain West about extending San Jose State an invitation.
San Jose State has emerged as a potential expansion target of the Mountain West Conference, according to sources familiar with discussions between SJSU officials and their counterparts in the MWC.
A longtime member of the Western Athletic Conference, San Jose State is one of several schools that could be invited to join the more prestigious MWC if the 10-team league expands by two in order to stage a football championship game.
The Mountain West’s board of directors is scheduled to meet Monday in Las Vegas. Expansion is on the agenda, but the league isn’t expected to issue invitations.The other teams reportedly in consideration are another WAC school in Utah State, and three C-USA schools in UTEP, Houston and SMU. Though, according to the source in the story, it's unlikely either Houston or SMU would leave C-USA. Which makes San Jose State an attractive option to the Mountain West in the same way that the lone girl at the bar looks more attractive because she's the only girl there.
Though the Mountain West will tell you it's because of the television market that San Jose State brings for the Mountain West's television network, as well as the fact it'd be joining fellow California schools Fresno State and San Diego State in the conference.
Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:48 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Nevada shut down an anemic Boston College offense en route to a 20-13 win.
Offense: Rishard Matthews had two first-quarter scores, but the Nevada offense was uncharacteristically subdued today, largely due to three turnovers -- two interceptions and a lost fumble. Still, Nevada had to punt seven times (Nevada typically punts fewer than three times a game), and scored less than half its usual amount of points. Vai Taua was held in check, with 76 yards on 22 carries, and Colin Kaepernick had a positively pedestrian performance in this, his last game as a Wolf. 20-33 for under 200 yards and only one score usually won't cut it; Nevada was fortunate to be facing Boston College. Grade: C-
Defense: Nevada typically isn't thought of as a defensive powerhouse, but it's actually not that bad. From a total yardage standpoint, Nevada's pretty middle of the road, but the Wolf Pack only gives up about 22 points a game -- second only to Boise State in the pinball-scoreboard WAC. Tonight, Nevada was all over Boston College's rushing attack, giving up 30 yards on one rush and 34 yards on the other 24 rushes combined. The Wolf Pack secondary forced two interceptions from Chase Rettig and could have had three or four more; Rettig's passes were frequently deflected or otherwise found a defender's hands. Boston College had one drive of over 30 yards all day long. That's more than you can ask from a defense -- dropped interceptions aside. Grade: A-
Coaching: It's not exactly an indictment of Chris Ault if his players weren't amped up for today's game. BC was 7-5 in a very unimpressive ACC this season, and didn't look like a worthy opponent for the champion of a conference that boasted 10-win teams Nevada, Boise State, and Hawaii among its members. Moreover, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl came 36 days after Nevada's last game, so there's always going to be some rust with that long of a layoff -- as was evident during this game. But Nevada looked pretty well-prepared, and Ault's play calls were fine. They were conservative, sure, but conservative wins games when leading against an inferior opponent. Really, this game wasn't nearly as close as the seven-point margin would indicate; only the turnovers kept the game "in doubt," and last we checked, Ault wasn't the one giving the ball up. Play calling is more than "you should throw a touchdown here and not an interception," after all. Grade: B
Offense: Chase Rettig tries hard, and he tried hard for all four quarters today. Now, whenever it's necessary to mention that a player "plays hard," it's a safe assumption he just had a terrible game, and that's what happened here. Rettig's final stats were 14-34 for 121 yards and two interceptions, good for a 59.3 passer rating. Worse yet, he spent most of the game with a lower rating, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter that he stayed above three yards per pass attempt. And again, it could have been worse; Nevada should have had somewhere between three and five interceptions on the day. It didn't help that Andre Williams contributed a 30-yard rushing score and basically little else, of course, nor that the Eagle offense was painfully predictable (oh, we're getting to that). Still, this was a painfully bad offensive performance, to the point that head coach Frank Spaziani himself called it "anemic" during his halftime interview, and considering what gifts Nevada gave BC with its turnovers (an interception returned to the Nevada 6-yard line resulted in a field goal, for crying out loud), the Eagles really had no business scoring only 13 points. Grade: F
Defense: Aside from Boise State, Boston College might have the best front seven Nevada faced all year, and it was immediately evident. Nevada rushed for 114 yards, including 76 for Taua and 22 for Kaepernick. If it hadn't been for a 51-yard performance by Taua against Eastern Washington in a warmup at the beginning of the year, all three of those numbers would be season lows. All-American LB Luke Kuechly had an interception and a boatload of tackles for the Eagles, and BC frequently and reliably moved the point of attack backwards on defense when Nevada tried rushing the ball. The secondary struggled at times, though, especially on throws to the sideline. Grade: B
Coaching: Eagles fans were understandably upset with their team's play-calling, and rightfully so; it's infuriating to watch a straight-laced, run-run-third-and-long offense when the other team has a quarterback like Kaepernick and a fun system like Ault's pistol offense. The fact is, though, that Spaziani really doesn't have much talent on offense (especially with dynamic starting tailback Montel Harris still out with injury), and his defensive planning and second-half adjustments were praise-worthy. Boston College needs players on offense, plain and simple. Grade: C-
This practice of scheduling minor bowl games for January dates -- historically the province of only high-profile bowls -- could end today, and no college football fan would be upset. This bowl game was laughably bad, particularly when Boston College was on offense, and the fact that it comes on the eve of the national championship seems like cruel and unusual punishment. During the game, when the Kraft commercial featuring the dulcet-toned former homeless man Ted Williams finally aired, the prevailing sentiment on Twitter was that it was the unquestioned highlight of the game. It was that bad. At the very least, Boston College's defense helped get the game back to a one-possession contest, but this was the most lopsided seven-point game in recent memory. Thankfully, it's over, and real January football can be played. Grade: D- and only because it was close
Tags: ACC, Andre Williams, Boise State, Boston College, Bowl Grades, Chase Rettig, Chris Ault, Colin Kaepernick, Eastern Washington, Fight Hunger Bowl, Fight Hunger Bowl Grades, Fight Hunger Bowl Recap, Frank Spaziani, Hawaii, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Luke Kuechly, Montel Harris, Nevada, Rishard Matthews, Ted Williams, Ted Williams Commercial, Ted Williams Kraft, Vai Taua, WAC
Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:44 am
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Posted on: January 9, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: January 9, 2011 12:58 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
After losing Jim Harbaugh to the NFL on Friday, Stanford has the enviable task of finding a new head coach. It's enviable because for the first time in almost 40 years,* an open Stanford head coaching position is actually desirable on account of the team coming off a major bowl victory. Buoyed with this success, Stanford is able to reach out to big names early in the process, and as Yahoo! Sports reports, Stanford has contacted Boise State head coach Chris Petersen.
Now, hiring a Boise State head coach isn't necessarily a guarantor of future success; look at what happened to Dan Hawkins down at Colorado , after all. Nonetheless, this report would seem to indicate that Chris Petersen is Stanford's first choice, and there's nothing athletic directors like to do more at hiring announcements than stand up there and proclaim that they "got their guy."
Of course, it also helps that Andrew Luck is returning for his junior season, which should definitely ease the new coach's transition to Palo Alto. One could argue that this decision by Luck will be a bigger factor than the head coaching hire for Stanford's short-term success, in fact.
Now, if Stanford can't bring in Petersen or any other "big" name for whatever reason, fans shouldn't be quick to be disappointed. As the San Francisco Chronicle reminds, Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby has made two football hires at the I-A level: Kirk Ferentz at Iowa after the 1998 season, and Harbaugh at Stanford in late 2006. Neither coach had any I-A head coaching experience; Ferentz was 12-21 in three years with the Maine Black Bears, while Harbaugh was 29-6 at San Diego (a school in the non-scholarship I-AA Pioneer League). Both hires have, to say the least, succeeded.
*In 1971, John Ralston led Stanford to its second consecutive Rose Bowl (a 13-12 win over then-undefeated Michigan , incidentally), then jumped to the NFL to coach the Denver Broncos. His successor -- Jack Christiansen -- didn't fare exceptionally well, going 30-22 in five seasons and never reaching a bowl before being fired, but he at least had a winning record in every season and paved the way for legendary coach Bill Walsh to take over. So if history repeats itself, it's not as if disaster lurks for the Cardinal in the coming years. Disappointment, yes, but not disaster.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Bill Walsh, Bob Bowlsby, Boise State, Chris Petersen, Chris Petersen Stanford, Colorado, Dan Hawkins, Iowa, Jack Christiansen, Jim Harbaugh, John Ralston, Kirk Ferentz, Maine, Pac-10, San Diego, Stanford, Stanford Coaching Candidates, Stanford Coaching Rumors, Stanford Coaching Search, WAC
Posted on: January 8, 2011 12:35 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Basics: Nevada (12-1) vs. Boston College (7-5), Jan. 9, 9 ET
Why You Should Watch: What? Do you want kids to starve or something? We're trying to fight hunger here, people. With football. Didn't you know that when you're starving, by watching football and diverting your body's attention, you keep it from eating itself. It's real science, look it up, I swear. Okay, so maybe the science is a little off, but there's still some other reasons to watch this game. First, it features a Nevada team that beat Boise State earlier this year and won the WAC. The Wolfpack aren't a bad team, and quite frankly, they're a fun team to watch. Finally, there's the fact that after this game, there's only one game left on the schedule. Get in one more college football game while you can, before the long, dark summer creeps in.
Keys to Victory for Nevada: The key to victory for Nevada is very tall and skinny, and when he runs, he reminds me of an ostrich. His name is Colin Kaepernick, and he's one of the more exciting quarterbacks in college football that a lot of people have never really had a chance to see. Just like in every game Nevada plays, how The Ostrich goes, so goes the team. And he could be facing one of his biggest tests of the season.
Kaepernick and the Wolfpack have one of the best rushing attacks in college football. In fact, they're ranked third nationally with 305.9 yards per game. Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua lead the attack. Well, in this game, they'll be going against the top rush defense in the country, as Boston College has only allowed 80 yards a game on the ground. Finding a way to be successful on the ground will be pivotal for the Wolfpack, because even though Kaepernick has improved as a passer, I'm not sure you want him being forced to drop back and throw too many times. Particularly when he's most effective throwing off of play action.
Keys to Victory for Boston College: The Eagles offense has been unreliable all season, scoring a meager 18.9 points a game. So, obviously, if Boston College is going to win this game, it can't afford to get into a shootout. Which means that the defense is going to have to stifle the Nevada ground game to have any shot.
Which means that the linebacking trio of Luke Kueckly, Mark Herzlich and Kevin Pierre-Louis will have to once again step up and keep the Eagles in this game. Of course, you can't win if you don't score points, so Boston College's offense will have to do something when it has the ball. The good news for BC is that running back Montel Harris is expected to play in this game after missing the last few weeks of the regular season with an injury. He's only 126 yards shy of becoming Boston College's all-time leading rusher. If Boston College wants to win this game, they're going to need Harris to set that mark.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is like: that potato chip you dropped on the ground without even noticing. You've spent the last few hours watching television with that bag of chips in your lap. Now the bag is empty, but you're still hungry. That's when you notice the chip sitting on the floor. It's got some lint on it, but still, you wonder. "Do I have another bag of chips in the cupboard?" No, and you don't plan on going shopping for more food right now either. So are you going to eat that chip? You're not sure how long it's been sitting there, and you haven't vacuumed in a while, so who knows what's gotten on to that thing since it's been down there. But you're hungry. What do you do? Are you going to eat it?
Posted on: December 25, 2010 1:49 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Tulsa uses speedy scoring to keep Hawaii in check on their home turf in the 62-35 win.
Offense: It was going to be tough to try and keep up with the nation's best passing offense score for score, so Tusla did a fantastic job of seizing every opportunity they were given. Thankfully for Golden Hurricanes fans, Hawaii offered up enough opportunities to stimulate an economy against Tulsa in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Tulsa took advantage of Hawaii's mistakes to jump out to an early lead on the heavily favored Warriors. The thing that was so impressive about Tulsa's offense was their relentlessness once the lead was established. They scored quickly and often, continuing to steal all the momentum from a Hawaii team that did their best to rally a not-so-neutral crowd in a comeback. Wide receiver Damaris Johnson wrote himself into the NCAA record books with 326 all-purpose yards, and Hawaii had no answer for the quick-strike attack of Tulsa. GRADE: A
Defense: Tulsa didn't do a ton of radically impressive things in their gameplan, but what the simple things worked on Friday. Hawaii has one of the best passing offenses in the country, and for some reason dropping a linebacker into coverage seemed foreign to both Bryant Moniz and G.J. Kinney. Both quarterbacks threw interceptions in the first half on coverage-heavy plays by the Golden Hurricanes. The stats also do not accurately represent the effect of Tulsa's defense sucking the momentum away from Hawaii with the turnovers. GRADE: B
Coaching: The Golden Hurricanes entered the game as a two-score underdog basically playing an away game. But none of these obstacles seemed to bother a Tulsa team that came in with the utmost expectations of winning. Have to impressed with Tulsa's preparation and aggressiveness coming into the game. Over and over again, it seems that half of the postseason battle is seeing which team cares more, and Tulsa seemed to have that edge about them on Friday. GRADE: B+
Offense: If Hawaii thought they were going to run n shoot over the Golden Hurricanes on their home turf they were sorely mistaken Statistically, there are tons of reasons to believe that Hawaii's offense was successful on Friday night. Unfortunately, all of that analysis requires you ignore the fact that they had six turnovers. Sure, 471 sounds about right for a Warriors win. But having multiple drives end in turnovers and allowing Tulsa to convert those turnovers into points continued to keep Hawaii stuck behind a deficit the entire game. GRADE: F
Defense: The Warriors not only allowed Tulsa to score in plentiful amounts, but they allowed it to happen at record speeds. The longest (time) scoring drive Hawaii gave up on Friday night was 3:31, and that was late in the fourth quarter with the game decided. Granted, the defense was not given much of a chance with the turnovers by the offense, but still it is hard to leave a 62-35 game and feel like the losing team really did their best out there on the defensive side of the ball. GRADE: F
Coaching: Outside of a general lack of preparation for the moment, it is difficult to pin the blame for Hawaii's embarrasment on head coach Greg McMackin. The team did come into the game flat, but the coaching had nothing to do with the first half turnovers that basically buried the Warriors. I will give the coaching staff credit for keeping Hawaii fighting for a while, but by the fourth quarter they did a great job of making their opponents look like the runners and shooters. GRADE: C-
All in all, the Hawaii Bowl was not the best game on the slate thus far. Not that we have been served the most gourmet menu thus far, but still a painful second half to watch. The stadium in Honolulu had less fans than points on the scoreboard by the time the final horn sounded, and my guess is that most of the national audience chose to divert to other holiday festivities. There was a lot of scoring, and the big plays at least gave some "wow" factor. Still far too sloppy to laud the "greatness" of the game. GRADE: C