Posted on: July 29, 2011 4:25 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
NEW YORK -- UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel knows what it takes to win the Pac-12. He won the then-Pac-10 while at Washington and had the team in the upper echelon of the conference annually before being fired. After a pair of rough 4-8 seasons bookending his time in Westwood however, there's plenty of work to be done if the Bruins are to advance in the conference standings. Yet the coach, who briefly sat down with CBSSports.com during Pac-12 Media Days, believes the team will finally turn the corner this year.
"I have high expectations, I always start the seasons with high expectations," Neuheisel said. "When you're coming off a year like we did, you can't wait to get that taste out of your mouth."
Neuheisel is one of four coaches to be rated as having a warm coaching seat heading into the season by senior writer by CBSSports.com Dennis Dodd. The UCLA alum drew laughs at Media Day in Los Angeles when he joked about being happy to just be invited despite his status on the hot seat. He did note that he was just joking and actually hasn't felt the heat despite what some fans or media members think.
"I really don't feel it," he said. "It's just been brought to my attention so many times that it's like the elephant in the room so let me just talk about it so we can get that behind us. I have never been worried about losing my job, never one time in my life. I've lost my job before for reasons that have been well documented. But I've never lost my job because I wasn't doing a good job.
"I'm doing as good as job as I possibly can and working harder than I've ever worked."
This season is, of course, about wins and losses though. Neuheisel is hoping 2012 is a momentum builder for the program despite having a difficult schedule which includes hosting Texas and traveling to Stanford. Though there are five new coaches, including two new coordinators, there are several players coming back that are worth getting excited about. Running back Johnathan Franklin was a revelation last year and topped 1,100 yards rushing despite an anemic passing attack to take the pressure off of him. If the defense can be turned around and not give up 30 points per game (30.3 to be exact), you can understand why Neuheisel is much more hopeful about the upcoming season if they can stay healthy.
"I'm excited about the guys I have recruited," he said. "I feel they have confidence in me and our coaching staff. I feel like as many things that have bounced the wrong way so far in the three years, we're due some good bounces. I'm always optimistic in that regard and never been more optimistic about a year."
Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:01 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
The college football coaching industry has become increasingly volatile over the last several years, as a failure to meet expectations is often immediately met with questions about the dreaded "hot seat." One of the Pac-12 coaches who will face those questions all season is UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. The seasoned vet would not be caught off guard while meeting the media in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and beat them to the punch with the "hot seat" reference.
"Excited to be here," Neuheisel said as he began his opening statement. "As a coach on the proverbial hot seat, I guess you're excited to be invited to any of these things."
The crowd chuckled a bit, and then he returned to the topic in the first question when asked what it is going to take to turn this season around and continue coaching the Bruins.
"Well, we don't have to turn it around yet because nothing bad's happened yet. But I think in this business we all are on somewhat of a hot seat at all times. I mean, it just comes with the nature of the beast."
Here are some more highlights from UCLA's time with the media in Los Angeles on Tuesday:
- Neuheisel dropped the bomb that we reported earlier about true freshman quarterback Brett Hundley undergoing knee surgery to repair torn meniscus, and injury he suffered playing pickup basketball. He said that once against Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut will be competing for the position and Hundley will likely miss three to four weeks.
- For the first time since Neuheisel's arrival back in Los Angeles, he says the Bruins are two-deep at every defensive position with the exception of cornerback. After suffering from injuries defensively in 2010, the depth on that side of the ball is a reason Neuheisel says "hope springs eternal."
- Running back Johnathan Franklin is ready to step up and be a leader of this team. He was singled out by Neuheisel early in the press conference as a big reason for optimism heading into the season. The Bruins believe they are "light years ahead of where they were at this point" a year ago in the running game. Franklin also stepped up and acknowledged that when the team needs someone to make a play this fall, he is going to take that responsibility on himself.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:40 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The consensus has been that after three seasons with no achievement more impressive than a handful of blue-chip signings and an EagleBank Bowl victory over Temple, Rick Neuheisel must either guide his UCLA team back to the postseason or get fired trying.
One person at UCLA who won't argue with that consensus? Rick Neuheisel, as it turns out:
The UCLA football coach must win at least half of his games and play in a bowl or he's gone, and he knows it.
"I hate talking like that, but, as an alumni, I would say absolutely yes," Neuheisel said Thursday. "At the end of the day, I am responsible for this program."That's from a conversation between Neuheisel and Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke, during which Neuheisel tocuhed on various aspects of last year's disastrous 4-8 campaign. One of those aspects was the hiring of since-departed offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who the Bruins paid some $500,000 to coach somewhere else. Despite Chow's pedigree, it's clear from Neuheisel's comments he feels he never should have hired the current Utah OC in the first place:
"I was more enamored with Norm's profile than anything else," Neuheisel says ... "I was trying to hit a home run ..."
"It just didn't work, and it's not Norm's fault. It was that chemistry thing. We didn't have the usual give-and-take that staffs need to be successful," Neuheisel says. "You have to have a staff that develops a recipe for success and stays united behind it. … I don't think that always got accomplished and, because of that, there's a trickle-down effect on your players."The result of the Chow hire was that between Neuheisel and his star offensive coordinator, Plaschke writes, the Bruins saw their offense pulled in two different directions. He neglects to point out, however, that with neither Neuheisel nor Chow having any experience with the pistol offense installed before last season, Neuheisel also gave his team a third separate direction for the offense to juggle.
Here's how Plaschke describes Neuheisel's attempt to remedy the situation:
[H]e hired a bunch of strangers to everyone but him, coaches whose main attribute was that they shared his boundless optimism and energy. Anonymous guys. Neuheisel guys. He hired Mike Johnson to bring NFL offensive smarts, Joe Tresey to bring a Midwestern-style defense, and Jim Mastro to bring some secrets from that crazy Nevada "pistol" offense.That's right: he hired a dyed-in-the-NFL-wool pro-style coordinator to oversee a doubling-down on the pistol ... or, in other words, he created -- on paper -- the exact offensive identity crisis that caused so many problems for his team last season.
We're wishing Neuheisel the best of luck. As good as the Bruins' defense shapes up to be, we're guessing he'll still need it.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:50 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd unveiled his 2011 Hot Seat Ratings for college football and if you pull out the Pac-12 coaches, you'll find the seat is quite toasty - or could be quickly - for at least half of the conference. While Utah's Kyle Whittingham and Washington's Steve Sarkisian don't have anything to worry about, Pac-12 media days might feature a few new faces next year. It almost seems as though the conference has to move to a "hot couch" to fit everybody on it. Here's the list of coaches on the West Coast in order from 5 (brushing off for-sale signs) to 0 (buying second beach house).
Washington State's Paul Wulff: 5.0
UCLA's Rick Neuheisel: 4.0
Arizona State's Dennis Erickson: 3.5
Arizona's Mike Stoops: 2.5
USC's Lane Kiffin: 2.0
Cal's Jeff Tedford: 2.0
Stanford's David Shaw: 1.5
Colorado's Jon Embree: 1.0
Oregon State's Mike Riley: 1.0
Washington's Steve Sarkisian: 0.5
Utah's Kyle Whittingham: 0
Oregon's Chip Kelly: 0
Wulff is the only coach in the country to receive a 5.0 from Dodd. His winning percentage is south of the Mendoza Line (.135 entering 2011) and he probably needs to get the Cougars close to a bowl game in order to get another year. He's an alum of the school and poured all his efforts into rebuilding things on the Palouse but it's hard to overlook his overall record. He's got some talent on offense, notably quarterback Jeff Tuel, so there is some hope.
The coach with the best chance to get off of the seat is Erickson, who has a team full of upperclassmen and is primed to make a run at the first ever Pac-12 South title. He is just barely over .500 in his time in Tempe and has only finished in the upper half of the conference standings once, which is why his seat is third hottest in the conference.
It seems as though Neuheisel has "been on the cusp" of breaking through after two good recruiting classes a few years ago but he'll have to combat a tough schedule to prevent the temperature from rising further. Many have speculated that the school's financial situation is the only thing keeping him around for another year.
Tedford finds himself in the middle of the pack but he knows the situation is fluid. Cal fans' expectations will likely raise next year with the re-opening of Memorial Stadium so while the quarterback guru is probably safe this year, he's not too far away from having his name move higher on the list if things don't go well in 2011. Dodd accurately pegs Kiffin as having a pretty lukewarm seat, unlike what some fans outside Southern California might think. However, like with Chip Kelly, any NCAA trouble will find him shooting up to near the top of the list.
The hot seat is crowded in the Pac-12 and it should be fun to see who gets off of it this season.
One way or another.
Tags: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, David Shaw, Dennis Erickson, Hot Seat Index, Hot Seat Rating, Jon Embree, Kyle Whittingham, Lane Kiffin, Mike Riley, Mike Stoops, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Paul Wulff, Rick Neuheisel, Stanford, Steve Sarkisian, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State
Posted on: June 22, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 2:57 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Stop us if you've heard this one before: a formerly highly-touted recruit has left UCLA following a brief, turbulent tenure for reasons related to academics (as opposed to injury, this time), leaving Rick Neuheisel's Bruins perilously thin at a key position.
We can't believe you didn't stop us. Because surely you've heard that story before, right? This time, the main character is offensive lineman Stanley Hasiak, who the Los Angeles Times reported today has been declared academically ineligible and is expected to transfer to a community college.
A 6-foot-5, 300-pound guard from Hawaii, Hasiak was considered one of the nation's top offensive line prospects in the class of 2009 and would see action in three games as a true freshman that fall. But after being expected to challenge for a starting position in 2010, Hasiak was declared academically ineligible and missed the entire season. He returned to the practice field this spring and drew positive notices, sparking hope he might contribute again in 2011.
That won't happen, and now the Bruins could be one injury away from disaster at guard (again).
With senior Sean Sheller starting at one guard position and sophomore Chris Ward pegged for the other, UCLA should be OK in the starting five. But behind those two are nothing but redshirt freshmen, meaning an injury could cause a major reshuffling along the entire line if those newcomers can't hack it.
Of course, those kinds of reshufflings won't be anything new for the snakebitten Bruins -- another major reason Neuheisel is facing a make-or-break 2011 season, one Hasiak's departure won't do anything to help "make."
Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:54 am
By the Eye on College Football bloggers
To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.
50. COWBELLS, traditional noisemakers, Mississippi State. On the one hand, yeah, it's just a bell with a stick attached to it and (usually) a State logo affixed to one side. But on the other, it's a huge reason why trips to Starkville have become a gigantic thorn in the side of SEC favorites since Dan Mullen took over the Bulldog helm. The cowbells create a tremendous amount of noise during their designated usage periods (touchdown celebrations, timeouts, etc.), but there's plenty enough State fans willing to use them during non-designated periods that Davis-Wade Stadium can become just as loud and disruptive as SEC stadiums with twice its capacity.
And in 2011, how loud Davis-Wade can get will matter. A lot. The Bulldogs will play host to both of the consensus SEC West favorites and the closest thing the preseason has to an SEC East favorite--LSU visits Sept. 15, South Carolina Oct. 15 and Alabama Nov. 12. A State victory in any one of those three games could immediately turn the entire conference on its head--and given that this is Mullen's most experienced team yet, the guess here is that thanks in part to those cowbells, the Bulldogs will come away with at least one of those scalps. -- JH
49. DOAK CAMPBELL STADIUM, home venue, Florida State. The Seminoles' home field will play host to one of the biggest non-conference matchups of the season--and it takes place on the third weekend of football. On September 17, Oklahoma -- expected to be one of the top-ranked teams in the nation -- will visit Doak looking to repeat last year's thumping of FSU in Norman. The Seminoles return 17 starters from last year's team that finished the season as the ACC runner-up and Chick Fil-A Bowl champion, though, leading many to tap Florida State as the 2011 ACC frontrunner. It's safe to say head coach Jimbo Fisher has brought the hype back to Tallahassee in just his second year.
So the two juggernauts will collide in Doak Campbell Stadium. A win for Oklahoma would be a huge confidence boost after struggling in a few crucial road games over the last couple years. A win for Florida State would not only bring the Sooners' title hopes to a screeching halt, it would transform the home team from ACC favorite to national title contender. The 'Noles also get Maryland, N.C. State and Miami all at home, making Doak not only a key destination for the national title picture but the key venue for the ACC Atlantic race. If the Seminoles can escape the month of September undefeated, it could be their race to lose down the stretch. -- CP
48. AL GOLDEN, head coach, Miami. The Hurricane coaching search was heavily publicized and tossed around flashy names like Jon Gruden and Dan Mullen, but the final decision was on the decidedly less-flashy, hard-nosed Golden. Since joining the program, Golden has talked about changing the "culture" of Miami football. After watching the team prepare for the Sun Bowl, Golden said he wanted to practice faster, hit harder, and increase the toughness up and down the roster. His winter conditioning program produced players' tales of being worked harder than ever, and his gritty demands continued well into spring practice.
But Golden needs to be more than a strength coach and philosopher for the Hurricanes. He needs to be the face of the program moving forward, and the team needs to believe in his word. There is a roster full of talent in Coral Gables that has not come close to sniffing a conference championship. Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hurricanes have yet to produce so much as a Coastal division title. Golden's arrival has brought a lot of excitement back to The U, but also the expectations for winning. If Golden is going to get the trust of Randy Shannon's team, he will need to show them that his "culture" produces championship-caliber football. -- CP
47. THE BIG TEN THANKSGIVING DINNER, new-and-improved rivalry weekend, November 25-26. The Big Ten, for better or worse, has always been unusually staid about its traditions--that means Saturday conference games only, no conference games after November 25 (which usually ends the season before Thanksgiving), and Michigan-Ohio State to end the conference season, always. That has worked out pretty well for the Big Ten for the most part, although Buckeye fans in particular have long rued the six weeks of layoff between a pre-Thanksgiving conference finish and a January BCS bowl game (since the SEC and most other conferences would only have four weeks).
Say goodbye to that disparity, though, because the Big Ten has moved the end of its regular season to Thanksgiving weekend. That decision plus the conference championship game equals football in December in the Big Ten, just like everywhere else. And what a regular season finale week the Big Ten has lined up for its fans this year: Michigan-OSU is still there, as fans demanded en masse when scheduling was going on, but now it's not the only show in town. Iowa and Nebraska have set up a season-ending rivalry for the next four years (one expects this to be made permanent if fans respond well to the new rivalry), and breaking with all sorts of conference tradition, it'll be on Friday. There's also a key showdown with Penn State at Wisconsin, and if Ohio State's not in contention for the (sigh) Leaders Division title, PSU-Wisconsin will likely have heavy implications for that bid to the championship. Same goes for Michigan State at Northwestern in the Legends Division. That's a heck of a way to spend a Thanksgiving weekend, isn't it? -- AJ
46. KELLEN MOORE, quarterback, Boise State. Kellen Moore's career thus far seems to have taken an arc we usually only see in TV shows. Last season was the "championship run" season, where Boise State was as poised as it ever was to crash the BCS Championship before fate conspired to take down the heroes. And make no mistake, Moore was a hero last year, leading the nation in passing efficiency and racking up 35 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He may not have had a chance to overtake Cam Newton for Heisman consideration, but his fate was sealed in the Broncos' 34-31 loss to Nevada--even though Moore threw a downright miraculous 53-yard bomb to Titus Young that put Boise in position to win the game.
If last season was all about the team taking its best shot at the title, this year's all about Moore; his top two receivers, Young and Austin Pettis, are both off to the NFL now, and key reserve RB Jeremy Avery is also gone. The Broncos find themselves in a tougher conference, too, though they still look to be favorites to win the Mountain West championship. If there were ever a time for Moore to erase the last of the doubts about his ability to play quarterback, this'll be it, and with any luck, this season'll end on a much more crowd-pleasing note for Moore and the rest of his teammates. -- AJ
45. THE PAC-12 HOT SEAT, conference furniture, Pac-12. When Pac-12 media days roll around next year, there's a good chance there will be a few different faces from this year's edition. While every conference has their fair share of coaches on the hot seat, it seems as though the Pac-12 has a hot couch with so many people to fit on it. Washington State's Paul Wulff, UCLA's Rick Neuheisel, Arizona State's Dennis Erickson and Cal's Jeff Tedford are those that are feeling the heat ... and a bad year by USC's Lane Kiffin could find him starting to sweat as well.
The coach with the best chance to get off of the seat is Erickson, who has a team full of upperclassmen and is primed to make a run at the first ever Pac-12 South title. Erickson is just barely over .500 in his time in Tempe and has only finished in the upper half of the conference standings once. Needless to say, it's put up or shut up time. Wulff's winning percentage is well south of the Mendoza Line (.135 entering 2011) and he probably needs to get the Cougars close to a bowl game in order to get another year. Neuheisel and Tedford both have upset fan bases and a really bad year will likely mean they're out; financial considerations might be the only thing that could keep them around. The hot seat is crowded in the Pac-12 and it should be fun to see who gets off of it this season -- one way or another -- first. -- BF
44. OKLAHOMA'S BUMPY ROAD, scheduling hurdle, Oklahoma. Oklahoma seems to be the popular pick to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls, which gives the Sooners an edge in its pursuit of a national championship. All it has to do is go undefeated -- that's it! -- and the Sooners will find themselves in the BCS Championship Game. Obviously, winning every single game on the schedule is not an easy thing to do, particularly when you've got that giant target on your back ... and things could be even tougher for Oklahoma when you look at their schedule.
Over the last two seasons, Oklahoma has played nine games on the road -- not counting neutral site games -- and the Sooners have gone a distressing 3-5. Last season the Sooners won two games on the road, against Cincinnati and Oklahoma State, but only won those games by a combined eight points. This season two of Oklahoma's toughest games will be on the road, as it travels to Florida State during the second week of the season and will finish the year against those same Cowboys in Stillwater. Then there's the neutral site battle with Texas. It wouldn't be a shock to anybody if the Sooners came away from those three games with at least one loss on the marker. And given that there's no longer a Big 12 title game that could help boost the Sooners' profile at the end of the year, that loss could singlehandedly derail the team's 2011 title hopes. -- TF
43. WILL MUSCHAMP, head coach, Florida. In some ways, Muschamp will have less pressure on him this season than the other two head coaches in the SEC East's "Big Three"; Mark Richt is firmly in win-or-else mode, and Steve Spurrier has to know his career won't last long enough to see talents like Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery come around again. Muschamp, meanwhile, may need a couple of seasons to get his favored pro-style offense working and his aggressive defense completely in place.
Then again, this is Florida. And Muschamp is replacing a coach with three SEC East titles and two national championships in the last five seasons alone; transition or no transition, a second straight year bumbling around the 7-5 mark with an offense barely fit to wear the same jerseys as the Spurrier Fun n' Gun or the Tim Tebow/Percy Harvin spread juggernaut won't go over well at all. The easiest way for Florida to improve, fortunately, is Muschamp's specialty: defense. The Gators have all the athletes needed to dominate on that side of the ball, and if Muschamp's going to extend his coaching honeymoon past the season's first month, they'd better. -- JH
42. BIG EAST CONFERENCE TIEBREAKERS, potential title-deciders, Big East. Since 2003, the Big East title has been split four times. Two of those times were between at least three teams, most recently last season when Connecticut won the tie-breaker over West Virginia and Pitt. As the conference's front office continues to eye expansion and the addition of a conference championship, the eight teams participating in conference play this fall will all be fighting for the BCS berth awarded to number one team in the standings.
With the seven game conference schedule (which is backloaded, for most teams), there are less games to separate the teams in the standings. Unless one team goes undefeated (West Virginia in 2005, Cincinnati in 2009), there is a good chance that there will be a tie at the top of the standings. In the final month of the season the Big East title hunt will become a wild collection of if/then scenarios, with each conference game carrying a tie-breaker significance. -- CP
As a redshirt junior in 2011, Griffin will be playing his fourth season with the Bears, and should be better than ever--a scary proposition for Big 12 defenses already struggling to stop him. While Baylor's defense will likely keep it from having a real shot to win the Big 12 this season, odds are that RG3 is going to have a big say in who ultimately does win the conference ... meaning that he could have a big impact on the national title picture as well before the year is finished. -- TF
The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61 and 60-51. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.
Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Alabama, Alshon Jeffery, Arizona State, Austin Pettis, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Cal, CBSSports.com College Football 100, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Dan Mullen, Dennis Erickson, Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Jeff Tedford, Jeremy Avery, Jimbo Fisher, Jon Gruden, Kellen Moore, Lane Kiffin, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Mark Richt, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Mountain West, N.C. State, Nevada, non-BCS, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Paul Wulff, Percy Harvin, Pitt, Randy Shannon, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, SEC, South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, Texas Bowl, Tim Tebow, UCLA, USC, Washington State, West Virginia, Will Muschamp
Posted on: May 3, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 2:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
He's not exactly Curt Flood, but all the same Russell Wilson may wind up serving as a college football landmark: the sport's first legitimate free agent. Cut loose from N.C. State, eligible to play virtually anywhere thanks to his early graduation, "95 percent" likely to take advantage of that eligiblity, and -- most importantly -- a bona fide all-conference candidate with three years of starting experience and a 76-26 career touchdown-to-interception ratio.
So Wilson represents uncharted waters for college football; while other players have been eligible to transfer without penalty, none have offered such tantalizing immediate benefits. But which school is going to be the lucky one to sail into those waters?
We don't know. No one does, Wilson included; he's still got months of baseball ahead of him. But we can say which programs would be the best fit should Wilson decide to take a look. Here's our guesses for the comfiest landing spot for Wilson in each BCS conference, judging by both which team would benefit most by Wilson's arrival and which team Wilson would benefit most by joining. Enjoy:
SEC: TENNESSEE. Yep, we're saying the Vols, despite most of the early Wilson speculation centering on South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Auburn. But multiple reporters covering the Tigers have said they won't be interested; it makes sense considering that 2012 shapes up as a much more likely championship campaign for Auburn than 2011, and Gene Chizik won't want to spoil that with a first-year starter under center. Steve Spurrier will certainly give Wilson a ring if Stephen Garcia is finally dismissed, but if Garcia sticks around, neither he nor Wilson will want the controversy his arrival would bring. And though we have little doubt Houston Nutt would welcome Wilson with open arms rather than ride with the untested Randall Mackey or Barry Brunetti, Wilson can probably find a team with higher expectations.
Enter Tennessee. Yes, the Vols have a starter already, promising sophomore Tyler Bray. But Bray's boom-or-bust results late last season and ugly 5-for-30 spring game performance suggest that he might need more seasoning before taking the reins for a full SEC season. Bringing in Wilson lets the Vols redshirt and groom Bray for three solid seasons to follow, without taking a step back at the position; going to Tennessee lets Wilson play for a high-profile team in the nation's toughest conference, one with plenty of playmakers at his disposal. It's a win-win.
BIG TEN: WISCONSIN. An easy call: the perpetually consistent Badgers have the defensive playmakers, the ball-carriers and the receivers to put together another fine Big Ten team if they can hold the line on the offensive line ... and if they can find a quarterback. The results at the Badgers' spring game suggest they don't have the latter yet. The stodgy Badger attack won't make much use of Wilson's mobility, but no other team in the conference offers Wilson the chance to waltz in as the unquestioned starter for a top-25 program.
BIG 12: MISSOURI. After years of Chase Daniel and then Blaine Gabbert spearheading the Tigers' aerial attack, Gary Pinkel has to feel a little spoiled when it comes to quarterbacks. But that may be changing, as Mizzou comes out of spring without a clearcut starter and with neither candidate (Tyler Gabbert, younger brother of Blaine, or James Franklin) having looked quite in the Daniel/Gabbert class. Wilson would short-circuit any potential quarterback-platoon talk immediately upon arrival and give the Tigers one of the best trigger-men their spread could ask for. Wilson, meanwhile, would have the benefit of having the ball in his hands 40 to 50 times a game, for a team whose underrated defense should make them top-25 contenders.
PAC-12: UCLA. Let's face it: the 3-9 Bruins maybe don't have a heck of a lot to offer in terms of football glory. But after their seemingly endless quarterback carousel of the past few seasons, no program would be more appreciative -- no coach more thankful -- than UCLA and Rick Neuheisel. If Wilson can salvage a winning season out of 2011 and potentially turn around the flagging tenure of Neuheisel, the gratitude aimed his way from the Westwood faithful would likely dwarf anything he'd receive anywhere else. (Besides, most of the other Pac-12 contenders -- Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, Cal, even ineligible pseudo-contender USC -- have fairly established quarterbacks.)
ACC: FLORIDA STATE NO ONE
[This section originally discussed the "far-fetched" possibility that Wilson could transfer to the Wolfpack's intra-division rivals in Tallahassee, but it's more than far-fetched; it's impossible, since Wilson's release -- originally, erroneously reported as "unconditional" -- specifies that he may not transfer to an ACC school or any school on NCSU's schedule. In retrospect, this is a common sense precaution. Apologies.]
BIG EAST: WEST VIRGINIA. We're kidding, mostly; Geno Smith enjoyed an excellent spring game and will be the Mountaineers' 2011 starter. And given Wilson's unwillingness to give up on a "football dream" that likely includes the NFL, he would likely pass on Dana Holgorsen's Mike Leach- inspired "Air Raid" offense anyway, which has struggled putting its passers in the pros. But an offense like Holgorsen's, as helmed by a talent like Wilson? We can dream of those kinds of pinball games, can't we?
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Barry Brunetti, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Cal, Chase Daneil, Christian Ponder, Curt Flood, Dana Holgorsen, E.J. Manuel, Florida State, Gary Pinkel, Gene Chizik, Geno Smith, Houston Nutt, James Franklin, James Franklin the Missouri quarterback not the Vanderbilt coach just so we're clear, Jimbo Fisher, Mike Leach, Missouri, N.C. State, Ole Miss, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, Randall Mackey, Rick Neuheisel, Russell Wilson, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tyler Bray, Tyler Gabbert, UCLA, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: April 8, 2011 11:26 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If there's anything you'd have expected Rick Neuheisel to learn in his star-crossed, injury-plagued tenure at UCLA, it's that he needs to have as many quarterbacks prepared for action as he possibly can; you never know when whatever angry Norse god or gypsy curse that's been shredding Bruin ankles and ligaments the past few seasons will strike again.
That goes double when one of those quarterbacks is Kevin Prince, the junior whose quarterbacking down the stretch of the 2009 season played a major role in propelling UCLA to a bowl game and represents one of the few stretches of competent quarterback play for the Bruins in recent memory. But from Neuheisel's management of the limited Prince and his other quarterbacks at yesterday's practice, you wouldn't know it (emphasis added):
Just so we're clear on Neuheisel's logic, the responsibility of getting his most experienced, likely most talented option at quarterback involved in quarterbacking drills on the first day that quarterback is available falls on ... the quarterback.