Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:40 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
After a frustrating and disappointing 4-8 showing in his first year as head coach, Butch Jones has silenced some of his doubters in Cincinnati. The Bearcats jumped out to an early lead against Connecticut and held off the relentless Huskies for a 35-27 win, giving Cincinnati a share of the Big East Championship.
It was a rough start for Connecticut, who put themselves in an early 14-0 hole thanks to Johnny McEntee turnovers that resulted in touchdowns. First Cincinnati defensive lineman Walter Stewart plucked the ball out of McEntee's hands and crossed the plane for a score, then it was Drew Frey who took an interception 15 yards in for a touchdown just before the end of the first quarter. McEntee is usually spelled by rushing threat Scott McCummings, but with the freshman out of the game the former walk-on kept slinging it and got the Huskies back into the game late. Two fourth quarter touchdown passes cut the lead to one score, but the Bearcats were able to bleed the clock and hold on for the win.
Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux played arguably the best game of his young career throwing for 252 yards and three touchdowns while adding 28 yards with his feet. Leagaux struggled as the Bearcats dropped two in a row after losing starting quarterback Zach Collaros to a season-ending ankle injury, but the sophomore quarterback looked much improved in the final two games of the season. Those two victories helped the Bearcats win their third Big East Championship in a four year period, after winning outright in 2008 and 2009.
The win is bittersweet for Cincinnati, who was likely eliminated from contention for the conference's BCS bowl bid with West Virginia's win on Thursday. The tiebreaker used in the event of a three-way shared championship is BCS ranking, and the Mountaineers entered the week as the only team ranked in the Top 25 of the standings. Louisville, who clinched a share of the Big East title last week, needed a Connecticut victory on Saturday to hope for a two-team tie at the top with West Virginia. The Cardinals would own the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to their 38-35 upset win Morgantown earlier this year.
The three coaches tied atop the Big East standings (Jones, Charlie Strong, and Dana Holgorsen) at the end of 2011 have five combined years of experience at their current post. This is the first head coaching opportunity for Strong and Holgorsen, and Jones is fresh off his first gig at Central Michigan. If it wasn't for West Virginia sprinting towards the exit door and a uncertain expansion in the near future, you could argue things are looking up for this young group of Big East coaches.
West Virginia likely earns a trip to the Orange Bowl thanks to a three-team tiebreaker. If you think Cincinnati or Louisville deserved the bid let us know at the new Eye On College Football Facebook page.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 2, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 2:29 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
It's the final weekend of the season, and therefore it's the final Saturday Meal Plan of 2011. It was a season that went by just a little too quickly for our tastes, but thankfully we have some excellent options on the menu for this weekend. There are some official conference championship games and then a few unofficial conference championship games.
All will leave you feeling full, and with fond memories of the last great Saturday of 2011.
#6 Houston vs. #24 Southern Miss - ABC 12pm ET
A BCS bid is on the line as Houston looks to capture the Conference USA title and pick up a school-record 13th win. Case Keenum also hopes to get plenty of Heisman consideration so expect big numbers against a solid Southern Miss defense. The Golden Eagles are ranked in the top 25 and might provide the Cougars their toughest test of the year. - Bryan Fischer
Cincinnati vs. UConn - ESPN 12pm ET
The Big East title race has come down to a noon kickoff between Connecticut and Cincinnati, because that's what kind of year it has been in the conference. With West Virginia's win against South Florida, they likely eliminated Cincinnati from earning the conference's one BCS berth. But the Bearcats can still win a share of the conference title win a win over the Huskies. Louisville is rooting for Connecticut, because a Bearcats loss would give the 7-5 Cardinals the tiebreaker edge over West Virginia and a spot in a BCS bowl game. The Mountaineers will likely win the three-team tiebreaker if Cincinnati wins. All of these scenarios are in the hands of Munchie Legaux, Jordan Luallen, Johnny McEntee, and Scott McCummings. Tune in for a show, with these four quarterbacks in the game. It'll be...something. - Chip Patterson
#17 Baylor vs. #22 Texas - ABC 3:30pm ET
Quite a bit on the line for both teams in this game, even if neither has a chance at a BCS bowl. There's Baylor's Robert Griffin who gets his final chance to impress a national audience and prove his Heisman case. Not to mention, a win here could possibly catapult the Bears to a Cotton Bowl appearance, and it would be Baylor's ninth win of the season. Meaning that it could finish the year with a double-digit win total. For Texas, following last season's 5-7 debacle, getting to eight wins in 2011 would be a nice turnaround for Mack Brown's program. Not to mention a chance to appear in a higher profile bowl game. - Tom Fornelli
#1 LSU vs. #14 Georgia - CBS 4pm ET
The Tigers might be going to the national championship game win or lose. But with an SEC championship and perfect season on the line in the annually electric atmosphere of the Georgia Dome, motivation is not going to be a problem. What might be: an underrated Georgia defense ranked in the top 10 in rush, total, and pass efficiency defense. Unlike Arkansas, the Dawgs are stout enough on D to make this a close game in the fourth quarter--and if they do, does Les Miles have yet another rabbit to pull out of his late-game hat? - Jerry Hinnen
#3 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Oklahoma - ABC 8pm ET
The Big 12 may not have an official championship game, but Bedlam will do just fine. Essentially the entire Big 12 season has been building up to this game, and it's a huge game for both schools no matter what the stakes. For the Sooners, it's obvious. Win yet another contest against their state rivals and they'll be Big 12 champions yet again and on their way to the Fiesta Bowl. For Oklahoma State there's even more on the line. It's the chance to finally get the Oklahoma monkey off its back and win its first ever Big 12 title -- and first for any school not named Oklahoma or Texas since 2003. Plus, while their chances may not be great, there's still the possibility that the Cowboys can get to the BCS Championship if their performance in this game is strong enough. So, in a way, there's more on the line in this game than just about any other Saturday night. - TF
#5 Virginia Tech vs. #20 Clemson - ESPN 8pm ET
Clemson finally was accepted as a "legitimate contender" after their 23-3 victory over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. But the two teams have finished the season in very different ways. The Tigers are one last-second field goal away from a four game losing streak, and the Hokies are the hottest team in the ACC on a seven game winning streak. Clemson lost to NC State and South Carolina after locking up the Atlantic Division, while Virginia Tech rocked their in-state rivals from Virginia to win the Coastal Division last weekend. The Tigers are loaded with talent, and possibly as healthy as they have been since October. But can they regain momentum against a Championship Game veteran like Frank Beamer? Beamer has been to five of the last seven ACC Championship Games, and the Hokies are looking to win back-to-back ACC titles for second time in five years. - CP
#13 Michigan State vs. #15 Wisconsin - Fox 8:17pm ET
The inaugural Big Ten Championship promises to be a doozy. It's a reprisal of the conference's best game and best play of the year, a magical 37-31 victory by Michigan State where Keith Nichol caught a deflected Hail Mary pass at the end of regulation and briefly managed to twist across the goal line for the winning score. Montee Ball will make one last bid for Heisman legitimacy, and Kirk Cousins will look for an undisputed conference championship to put an exclamation point on his Big Ten career. A berth in the Rose Bowl awaits the winner, while it's likely going to be a Capital One or Outback bid for the loser. If this game's anything like its first iteration in East Lansing, there won't be a ton of defense in it, but there'll be plenty of points and drama. Don't miss this game. - Adam Jacobi
Tags: ACC, Arkansas, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bryan Fischer, C-USA, Chip Patterson, Cincinnati, Clemson, Frank Beamer, Georgia, Houston, Johnny McEntee, Jordan Luallen, Keith Nichol, Kirk Cousins, Les Miles, Louisville, LSU, Mack Brown, Michigan State, Montee Ball, Munchie Legaux, N.C. State, Non-BCS, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Robert Griffin, Saturday Meal Plan, Scott McCummings, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Miss, Texas, Tom Fornelli, UConn, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: December 2, 2011 12:06 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
WEST VIRGINIA WON. It was a sloppy game with five combined turnovers and 17 combined penalties, but the Mountaineers emerged victorious and earned a share of the Big East title with a 30-27 win over South Florida on Thursday night in Tampa. The Bulls out gained the Mountaineers, who struggled to get anything going offensively until the fourth quarter. West Virginia now needs Cincinnati to beat Connecticut on Saturday to likely win the three-team tiebreaker and earn a bid to a BCS bowl. If Connecticut beats Cincinnati, Louisville will win the two-team tiebreaker and take the BCS bid.
HOW WEST VIRGINIA WON: Capitalizing on South Florida's mistakes. The Bulls shot themselves in the foot over and over down the stretch after dominating for most of the second half. The penalties, missed tackles, and especially BJ Daniels' fumble late in the fourth quarter allowed West Virginia to bounce back after the Bulls rolled off 17 straight points to take a 27-20 lead. While the ground game has sputtered for long stretches this season, West Virginia got the right performance at the right time from Dustin Garrison. The freshman running back picked up 54 of his 88 yards and the only offensive touchdown on the final two Mountaineer drives. South Florida was committing their defense to pass protection, and Garrison found enough room to make moves and keep getting first downs.
WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: On 4th and 10 with 13 seconds remaining, Geno Smith found Stedman Bailey for an impressive diving catch in the middle of the field. The Mountaineers were able to spike the ball and set up Tyler Bitancurt for the game-winning field goal as time expired. All of it was set up by BJ Daniels' fumble with more than three minutes remaining at the West Virginia 30 yard line.
WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: The best shot they have to keep their BCS hopes alive. Last season the Mountaineers lost the three-team tiebreaker to Connecticut and missed out on a chance to return to a BCS bowl game for the first time since the Rich Rodriguez era. They would not have even had that opportunity this year with a loss on Thursday.
WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA LOST: South Florida missed out on the postseason for the first time since 2004. The close loss was representative of the Bulls' season, which started with so much hope after the first four wins. South Florida has never finished the season with just one conference win, dating all the way back to their Conference USA seasons in 2003-2004.
THAT WAS CRAZY. The Mountaineers average over 35 points per game on the season, but have been slow to get started in their last three contests. West Virginia's first offensive touchdown did not come until there was 5:09 remaining in the game. The last three games have all been slow-starting for the Mountaineers offense, but they have been the three crucial wins needed to keep the BCS hopes alive.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Tags: BCS bid, BCS Bowl Projections, BCS tiebreaker, Big East, Big East BCS Bowl, Big East Standings, Big East Tiebreakers, Big East Title Race, BJ Daniels, BJ Daniels Injury, BJ Daniels Shoulder, Bowl Projections, Chip Patterson, Dana Holgorsen, Darrell Scott, Devon Brown, Dustin Garrison, Geno Smith, Shawne Alston, Skip Holtz, South Florida, Sterling Griffin, Sterling Griffin Injury, Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Posted on: December 1, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 7:17 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.
This is it, the final week of MWM in the 2011 season, and it pretty much couldn't have gone worse for me. You see, heading into last week it was a two-horse race, and I was on the verge of losing a picks competition against my girlfriend. Well, then the Machine had to go 8-2 last week while both Woman and I struggled, and guess who is now in second place?
That's right, at the moment, I trail not only my girlfriend but my Playstation as well. Pretty much as embarrassing as embarrassing can be.
On the bright side, the race is closer than ever before, which is pretty much the ideal situation heading into the final week of any competition. Yes, I'm in last place, but I'm only two games behind Woman. Machine is a game behind. So any of us can win, which makes this week the single most important week of the MWM season.
Feel free to read our final picks of the season while I pool some money together and get to work bribing teams to help me out this weekend.
South Florida (Pick 'em) vs. West Virginia - Thursday, 8pm (All times Eastern)Man - I was originally leaning toward South Florida because they're at home, and it's the Big East, so since you have no idea what's going to happen, leaning toward the home side is usually the best bet. But then the news that B.J. Daniels probably won't be playing came along, and, well, that changes things. Pick: West Virginia
Woman - "I want to pick the Bulls - mostly so I can watch coach Dana Holgorsen figure out a way to blame West Virginia fans for the loss (start at minute 1:10 here to see his previous efforts) - but they're too banged up, so the mundane Mountaineers will squeak by." Pick: West Virginia
Machine - West Virginia keeps its slim BCS hopes alive with a rather easy 37-20 win over the Bulls. Pick: West Virginia
Oregon (-30 1/2) vs. UCLA - Friday, 8pmMan - That is a very big spread. One that's big enough to make me think that maybe UCLA isn't a horrible pick because once Oregon gets up by a lot, it really has no reason to pile on, the Rose Bowl is its only possible destination. But then I realized I'd be putting my faith in Rick Neuheisel, and last game or not, no thanks. Pick: Oregon
Woman - "My prediction: At the start of his final game, fired UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel will rip off his shirt to reveal his 1984 SAN ANTONIO GUNSLINGERS JERSEY, SPRINT OUT ONTO THE FIELD AND, UNFAZED BY THE BAD BURRITO HE ATE FROM A TACO STAND ON LA CIENEGA, TAKE OVER AS QUARTERBACK, THROWING TO HIMSELF FOR TOUCHDOWN AFTER TOUCHDOWN UNTIL THE UCLA BOARD OF REGENTS REALIZES ITS GRIEVOUS ERROR, RUSHES TO THE SIDELINES AND ASKS, NAY, BEGS HIM TO STAY." Pick: Oregon
Machine - The Machine sees this one as a game that might be competitive-ish for a while on Friday night. It seems to think that the Bruins will experience some kind of Rick Neuheisel bump. They still lose, but only 41-28. Pick: UCLA
Houston (-14 1/2) vs. Southern Miss - Saturday, 12pmMan - This game is odd for so many reasons, one being that both head coaches are being mentioned as candidates at other schools, which can be quite a distraction. I want to pick Houston because they're undefeated and torched a good Tulsa team last week, but then I started thinking about the BCS. Wouldn't it just make sense that in the final weekend of the season the undefeated team from the non-BCS conference fell due to some kind of BCS conspiracy? I'm pretty sure Bill Hancock is a Freemason....ahh, screw it. Pick: Houston
Woman - "Picking blind here cuz the only Southern miss I know got wasted on SigEp punch and woke up on the 50 yard line the next morning. Wait. That was me." Pick: Houston
Machine - The Machine sees Case Keenum putting the final stamp on a terrific regular season, as he throws for 414 yards and 5 touchdowns as Houston wins 45-28. Pick: Houston
Pitt (-10 1/2) vs. Syracuse - Saturday, 12pmMan - Man, I seriously have no idea. Maybe it's the pressure of the situation I'm in getting to me, but I stare at this spread and it may as well be the equation on the chalkboard in Good Will Hunting. It's just a bunch of numbers and letters to me. Whatever, give me the Panthers. Pick: Pitt
Woman - "Syracuse is god awful but if there's one thing I learned watching last week's Backyard Brawl it's that every Orange defenseman should just yell "Boo!" while running towards Panthers QB Tino Sunseri, then wait for him drop to the ground and start weeping. That should keep the results within the spread, at least." Pick: Syracuse
Machine - The Machine nearly blew up after being forced to simulate two Big East games in the same week. Pitt wins 24-10. Pick: Pitt
Kansas State (-11 1/2) vs. Iowa State - Saturday, 12:30pmMan - I think Iowa State has already had its big upset bid of the season, and I don't see them being able to stop Kansas State on the road this weekend. Plus, the Cyclones offense just did not look very good at all last week. Pick: Kansas State
Woman - "Game's not being played in Oklahoma? Check. Not against a team from Oklahoma? Check." Pick: Kansas State
Machine - Can't decide if this is good or bad news for Kansas State, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time all year that The Machine has picked the Wildcats. KSU wins 27-10. Pick: Kansas State
Baylor (-2 1/2) vs. Texas - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Robert Griffin is expected to play, and although the Texas defense has been outstanding, I just don't see the Texas offense being able to keep up with the Bears for 60 minutes. Especially on the road. Pick: Baylor
Woman - "Note to Mack Brown: A television network does not a football team make." Pick: Baylor
Machine - Sorry, Baylor, The Machine just isn't buying what you're selling this season. Texas wins 27-24. Pick: Texas
LSU (-12 1/2) vs. Georgia - Saturday, 4pmMan - Here's how good LSU is: the Tigers could lose this game and then go on to lose the national title game, and I'd still probably put them at #1 on my ballot. Pick: LSU
Woman - "The only times I lost on LSU games this season were when I bet against you, Les. What was I thinking? (And by the way, I've decided to start a "DRAFT LES MILES FOR PRESIDENT" Committee, if only to see the look on his face when other candidates do really dumb things.)" Pick: LSU
Machine - The Machine doesn't really see Georgia threatening LSU in this game, but it also doesn't see much offense, and Georgia gets the cover because of it. LSU wins 14-6. Pick: Georgia
Oklahoma State (-3 1/2) vs. Oklahoma - Saturday, 8pmMan - You know that BCS conspiracy thing I mentioned with my Southern Miss pick? Yeah, well it applies here too. What's the best way to ensure that there's no debate between Oklahoma State and Alabama? Have Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State. Though I suppose that when you consider how the Sooners have dominated this rivalry through time, the conspiracy may not be necessary. Pick: Oklahoma
Woman - "This is it, Cowboys. Time to show all the naysayers why you belong in the BCS Championship. If you win, you've earned it (though it will have to be by thirty points to convince the myopic BCS voters)." Pick: Oklahoma State
Machine - The Machine sticks with the trends. Oklahoma wins 41-35. Pick: Oklahoma
Virginia Tech (-7 1/2) vs. Clemson - Saturday, 8pmMan - Clemson has already beaten Virginia Tech by 20 earlier this season, and although the Tigers haven't exactly been a good team the last few weeks, I'm still confident that they can at the very worst cover that spread on a neutral field. Pick: Clemson
Woman - "Really? This could be the game that loses me the MWM season? Pass the Maalox while I puzzle through my choices. Yeah, they crushed Virginia last week, but I still have Hokie hesitation. I'm taking a deep breath and going with Sammy Watkins plus home field advantage. Your move, Sicilian." Pick: Clemson
Machine - The Hokies get revenge and quite a bit of it, as Tech picks up a relatively easy 27-7 win. Pick: Virginia Tech
Michigan State vs. Wisconsin (-9 1/2) - Saturday, 8:17pmMan - I think we've seen the best from Michigan State already this season, and now that they're facing a Wisconsin team that's once again gotten rolling on a neutral field, I'm liking the Badgers' chances. Pick: Wisconsin
Woman - "Next stop, Rose Bowl. (Hey, guys, thanks to you for reading and to Fornelli for coming up with this competition. It's been a lot of fun. Also, thanks to CBS Sports for finally shattering the glass ceiling last week, so I can now look forward to a continued future in football prognostication.)" Pick: Wisconsin
Machine - The Machine doesn't believe in God, and therefore it does not see any Hail Mary saving the Spartans this time. Wisconsin wins 31-23, but that's a cover for Sparty. Pick: Michigan State
StandingsSeason Record (Last Week)
1. Woman 73-62 (4-6)
2. Machine 72-63 (8-2)
3. Man 71-64 (4-6)
Tags: ACC, Alabama, B.J. Daniels, Baylor, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bill Hancock, C-USA, Case Keenum, Clemson, Dana Holgorsen, Georgia, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas State, Les Miles, LSU, Mack Brown, Man vs Woman vs Machine, Michigan State, Non-BCS, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Pitt, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin, Sammy Watkins, SEC, South Florida, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Texas, Tino Sunseri, Tom Fornelli, Tulsa, UCLA, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:31 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
The ongoing legal battle between West Virginia and the Big East entered the next phase of litigation this week, with the school filing a motion to dismiss the Big East's lawsuit against the university.
[PDF: Read the 133-page motion, obtained by the Charleston Gazette]
West Virginia fired first in this legal battle, filing a lawsuit against the Big East seeking an exit before the 2012-2013 academic year. The league then responded days later with their own lawsuit against West Virginia, filed in Rhode Island Superior Court.
The motion from West Virginia, filed this week to the Rhode Island Superior Court, makes four key points as to why the suit should be dismissed. The primary claim from the school is that Rhode Island's courts don't have jurisdiction over the state of West Virginia. The language in the motion clearly ties the university to the state itself, at one point referring to themselves as "an alter ego of the State of West Virginia."
Finally, the school's lawyers make reference to the "essentially identical" suit brought against the Big East by the West Virginia Board of Governors. The motion requests that if the Big East's suit in Rhode Island is not dismissed, it at least be put on hold until the resolution of the initial action from West Virginia.
As expected, there is no bright light at the end of this legal tunnel yet. As the conference and school will likely continue to wage war in court for the foreseeable. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, the clock is ticking if they want to be able to get Big 12 conference play in 2012. If the Big East wants to hold the school for the 27-month withdrawal period in the bylaws, extended legal battles is one way to spend that time.
We won't sue you if you "Like" us at our new Eye On College Football Facebook page.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:59 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 6:20 pm
Posted by the Eye on College Football bloggers
Looking for one place with all the latest on the 2011 college football coaching changes, organized by conference and job? This is that place.
OUT: Butch Davis, who lasted four seasons with the Tar Heels before he was fired by Chancellor Holden Thorp July 27, just days before the opening of training camp. Davis accumulated a 64-43 record and took UNC to three bowl games, but was dismissed when the NCAA discovered rampant violations within the football program.
IN: Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora, who took home the 2011 Conference USA title with an 11-2 record and compiled a 33-19 overall mark in Hattiesburg. His Golden Eagle offense set a school record for yards in his very first game and finished in the FBS top 20 in total offense three of his four years.
WHAT WE THINK: Fedora is about to offer the Tar Heels the most exciting, high-scoring offense Chapel Hill has seen in some time; his offenses both in his coordinating tenure at Oklahoma State and at USM have been far too explosive, far too consistently, to think his acumen won't translate to the ACC. But we're not sure this is quite a smash hire, since Fedora's teams often struggled as badly on defense as they succeeded on offense and regularly suffered stunning upset losses. Was a coach carrying a three-game losing streak to UAB the best Carolina could do?
OUT: Turner Gill, after serving only two years of the five-year $10 million contract he signed before the 2010 season. Gill only won 1 game in the Big 12, and lost 10 games total by 30 or more points.
IN: In the most stunning hire of the 2011 coaching carousel so far, Charlie Weis is your new Jayhawk head man. After making his mark as the offensive coordinator of Bill Belichick's great New England Patriots teams, Weis coached Notre Dame to a 35-27 mark over five turbulent seasons between 2005 and 2009. He spent the 2011 season as Florida's offensive coordinator, to mixed reviews.
WHAT WE THINK: Contrary to popular opinion, Weis hasn't been a total failure as a collegiate coach; when given the strong-armed passers necessary to run his preferred aerial pro-style schemes, his Irish offenses were among the nation's best. The question is whether Weis can ever find such a quarterback in Lawrence, or whether he can avoid the multiple other pitfalls -- poor development of fundamentals, questionable defensive schemes, lack of a running game -- that submarined his Notre Dame tenure. It seems like a longshot, but it's hard to blame a desperate Kansas program for taking a gamble this splashy.
Out: Mike Sherman, who was fired following his fourth season with the Aggies, going 25-25 in his time at the school. He was done in by failed expectations after the Aggies began the season ranked in the top ten thanks to 19 returning starters on a team that finished the 2010 season strong.
IN: Houston's Kevin Sumlin began the Aggies' search as their No. 1 candidate, and he finished it as their No. 1 candidate. Sumlin's four years at the Cougar helm produced a 35-17 record and were arguably the best four-year stretch in school history, as UH won its first bowl game since 1980 and only missed the postseason once (that when Case Keenum went down with injury).
WHAT WE THINK: Sumlin has overseen explosive "Air Raid"-style offenses at every step of his career (including stops at A&M and Oklahoma before moving to Houston with then-head coach Art Briles). With coordinator Kliff Kingsbury in tow and loads of offensive talent in College Station, expect that to continue. But it'll take more than a great offense to win in the SEC, and Sumlin never got enough done on defense to even win a Conference USA title. The jury remains out on his potential at the SEC level.
OUT: Ron Zook, who survived for seven years before a 6-game losing streak wiped out a 6-game winning streak in 2011 and led to his dismissal on November 28. Zook leaves with a 34-50 (18-38) record at Illinois, and a 57-64 overall head coaching record.
IN: Toledo head coach Tim Beckman has agreed to be the Illini's next head coach. After a successful string of assistant's jobs (including stops at Oklahoma State and Ohio State), Beckman took over a flailing Rocket program and took them to winning seasons and bowl berths in both 2010 and 2011.
WHAT WE THINK: There's no doubting the impressive work Beckman did at Toledo, where the formerly sad-sack Rockets were a handful of plays from winning 10 or even 11 games this season. (Of their four losses, three came by a total of 11 points.) His spread scheme -- and its reliance on a dual-threat QB -- seems a good fit for the Illini's personnel, too. But the porous Rocket defense was a disappointment, and how he'll recruit in Champaign is anyone's guess; this looks like a solid double than a home run.
OUT: Joe Paterno, after 46 years at the head of the Penn State program and over 60 years involved with the Nittany Lions in some respect. Paterno was fired in the wake of a scandal concerning the coverup of child sexual assault charges against former longtime PSU defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
IN: New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is expected to be hired by Penn State by the weekend, though he will remain the Patriots' OC until the end of their playoff run.
WHAT WE THINK: The PSU search was doomed from the start by the circumstances surrounding the Sandusky scandal, up to and including the fact that the school does not have a permanent athletic director serving at this point. O'Brien is young and talented, but this may be a coaching task with odds too long for anyone that might want the job.
OUT: Jim Tressel, who was forced to resign after it was revealed he withheld knowledge of a widespread pattern of impermissible benefits going to his football players. Tressel had been with Ohio State for 10 years, going for a 94-22 record (106-22 before 12 wins from 2010 were vacated) and three BCS Championship Game appearances in that span.
IN AND OUT: Luke Fickell, who had been the defensive line coach and Jim Tressel's assistant head coach, assumed the role of head coach for the football team in 2010 after Tressel's departure. Fickell was often erroneously referred to as the interim head coach; the "interim" tag was taken off his job title before the season started. Fickell guided the Buckeyes to a 6-6 record in 2011, including a 33-29 victory over highly-ranked Wisconsin, all while breaking in talented QB Braxton Miller as a true freshman.
IN: Urban Meyer, announced as the next head coach of Ohio State at a Monday press conference. Fickell will coach the team through whichever bowl game it attends, while Meyer will be focused on recruiting and building his next coaching staff. After the bowl, Meyer will assume the head coaching role while Fickell will join Meyer's staff in an as yet undetermined role. This is Meyer's first coaching gig since he resigned from Florida in December 2010, citing health concerns.
WHAT WE THINK: Concerns over his health and potential longevity in the job notwithstanding, any hire that brings aboard a coach who won two national titles in just six years at his last stop certainly meets the definition of a "home run."
OUT: Rick Neuheisel, forced out after four years at his alma mater, during which he compiled a 21-28 record. Neuheisel went 0-4 vs. archrivals USC, losing by a combined score of 134-28.
IN: Former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawk head coach Jim L. Mora, the first Bruin head coach since 1949 to take the job without having been a former UCLA assistant or player. More spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons as an NFL Network analyst after compiling a 32-34 record with the Falcons and Seahawks.
WHAT WE THINK: Well, hiring a failed-but-energetic former NFL coach worked for the Bruins' crosstown rivals, didn't it? But Pete Carroll is the rare exception among a long string of pro coaches turned mediocre college head men, and Mora's total lack of experience in the amateur ranks -- his only season of college coaching came a grad assistant at Washington in 1984 -- doesn't seem to suggest he's going to buck the trend. But his charisma and NFL experience should make him a decent recruiter in the L.A. area; can he translate that to on-field success?
OUT: Dennis Erickson, fired following a loss to Cal that dropped the pre-season Pac-12 South favorites to 6-6. He went 31-30 five years at Arizona State with only one winning conference record.
IN: In a shocker, Pitt head coach Todd Graham, who left the Panthers for Tempe Dec. 14 after one 6-6 season. Before arriving in Pittsburgh, Graham spent four seasons as the head coach at Tulsa, going 36-17 and winning three divisional Conference USA titles. The Devils job will be Graham's fourth in six seasons.
WHAT WE THINK: We know the Sun Devils had to be getting desperate; we know Graham's up-tempo offense should both fit in well in the Pac-12 and -- if successful -- help sell a few tickets; we know Graham still has those outstanding years at Tulsa on his resume. But scrape that away and you're left with ASU firing Erickson for going a disappointing 6-6 only to hire a coach who also went a disappointing 6-6, and this coach now comes with a dyed-in-the-wool reputation for job-hopping and back-stabbing. How was this a better choice than June Jones, again?
OUT: Mike Stoops, fired Oct. 10, following a loss to previously winless Oregon State on the road. He left with a 41-50 record in eight seasons with the Wildcats.
IN: Rich Rodriguez, former Michigan and West Virginia head coach and CBS Sports analyst. Hired November 21, he compiled a 75-48 record at his previous two coaching stops and took the Mountaineers to two BCS bowls.
WHAT WE THINK: AD Greg Byrne took his time with the coaching search after dismissing Stoops but was able to zero in on RichRod after talking to several people in the college football world and local high school coaches. He brings a fast-paced, spread offense to a league full of them and should fit right in the Pac-12 despite his lack of West Coast ties. With facilities being upgraded and an engaging personality at head coach, the future is looking bright in Tuscon--if Rodriguez can hire a top-notch defensive coordinator.
OUT: Paul Wulff, dimissed Nov. 29 after posting the lowest win percentage of any coach in Cougar history at just 9-40 overall. Wulff failed to win more than two Pac-12 games in any of his four seasons.
IN: Mike Leach, who CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman reported accepted the job Wednesday. Leach brings an 84-43 record from 10 years spent as the head coach at Texas Tech, a decade which saw him produce some of the game's most explosive offenses (and porous defenses), earned him recognition as one of college football's brightest, most unique offensive minds, and garnered national coach of the year honors after his 11-1 season in 2008.
WHAT WE THINK: We're sympathetic for Wulff, who took over a smoldering asteroid crater of a program and little-by-little hauled it back to semi-respectability. But hiring Leach is a massive coup for athletic director Bill Moos, one that brings instant credibility to the program and should spark a huge renewal of energy in the Wazzu fanbase. Given how many other programs would have loved to have brought the pirate captain aboard, this is a smashing win for Moos and the Cougars.
OUT: Houston Nutt, fired Nov. 7 after 2-6 overall and 0-6 SEC start. Lost final 14 SEC games and 16 of final 19 overall of four-year tenure.
IN: Per CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze has been offered and accepted the job. A former Rebel assistant under Ed Orgeron, Freeze took over as the Red Wolves' offensive coordinator in 2010 and was promoted to head coach in 2011, after which he led ASU to its first-ever Sun Belt championship and a 10-2 record.
WHAT WE THINK: Freeze was always the most natural fit for the job, a former Memphis high school coach who knows both the Rebel program and its local recruiting grounds inside and out. The dramatic improvement in the Red Wolves' offense on his watch suggests that the Rebels' most recent season of offensive misery should be behind them, too. So a quick return to respectability should be in order, but there's one question: can Freeze put together an SEC-caliber defense?
OUT: Todd Graham, who accepted the Arizona State head coaching position Dec. 14, following one 6-6 season at the Panther helm.
IN: It's done: Pitt has hired Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. Chryst has been one of the nation's hottest assistant coaches after guiding a Badger team with a grind-it-out reputation to back-to-back national top-5 finishes in scoring offense in 2010 and 2011. Chryst has no head coaching experience but has spent the last eight seasons as an OC at Oregon State and Wisconsin.
WHAT WE THINK: For all of Steve Pederson's past failures on the head coaching hiring front, this one looks like the furthest thing from a Steve Callahan or, well, Todd Graham. Chryst's offenses have always been supremely well-coached, rock-solid in their identity as a run-first-run-second attack, and hyper-efficient in the passing game. While finding the Badgers' caliber of offensive linemen won't be easy, Chryst should be able to unearth a Scott Tolzien or Nick Toon at Pitt without much trouble. If Chryst learned anything from Bret Bielema about hiring the right defensive staff, Graham's bolt job should leave Pitt better off in the end.
OUT: In arguably the biggest shocker on this list -- given its timing, a week before signing day -- Greg Schiano has left to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coaching position. Schiano leaves with a 68-67 record over 11 years with the Scarlet Knights and five straight bowl wins, a remarkable accomplishment given the program's downtrodden status when Schiano arrived.
IN: Kyle Flood, the Scarlet Knights' offensive line coach since 2005. Since Flood's arrival, Rutgers has endured just one losing season as his lines have consistently ranked among the best in the Big East.
WHAT WE THINK: Flood appears to be a natural leader -- the school wasted no time in naming him the interim coach following Schiano's departure -- and the connection he enjoys with his players is obvious both in their reaction to his hire and the team's late surge on the recruiting trail. But Flood is, to date, also a career assistant who hadn't even reached the coordinating level yet. Rutgers had few options given the circumstances and Flood was likely the best of those, but the jury is as badly out as it is for any of the season's new hires.
OUT: Rob Ianello, fired Nov. 27 (on the way to his mother's funeral, no less) after consecutive 1-11 seasons. Only 2011 win came over FCS VMI.
IN: None other than Terry Bowden, making his long-awaited return to Division I football after a 13-year absence. Bowden comes to Akron from North Alabama, where he led the D-II Lions to three straight playoff appearances, but is best known for his six-year tenure at Auburn, where he went 47-17-1 with one undefeated season.
WHAT WE THINK: Considering the depths to which the Zips sunk under Ianello -- they stand alone as the only FBS team to record one total win over FBS competition over the past two seasons -- they could have done a lot worse than Bowden, who brings instant name recognition and credibility (and a fine track record of program-resuscitation to boot). But Bowden's ties to the Midwest recruiting scene are tenuous at best, and he's been out of the FBS game a long time; former Zip assistant and current Wayne State head coach Paul Winters would have been the safer choice, even if Bowden may yet prove to be the better one.
OUT: program patriarch and coaching legend Howard Schnellenberger, who announced his retirement in August after 11 seasons in Boca Raton. He is the only head coach in the Owls' brief football history.
IN: Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini will be the Owls' next head coach, as CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported Dec. 1. Pelini has no college head coaching experience but has overseen some of the nation's best defenses during his Lincoln tenure and -- based on his energetic sideline presence -- should have no lack of enthusiasm for the job.
WHAT WE THINK: For a program with as little tradition and recent success as the Owls, hiring a nationally recognized name like Pelini is quite the coup. Pelini has been his brother Bo Pelini's right-hand man ever since Bo took over the Huskers and Carl should have little problem transitioning to the head coaching ranks. The lone issue: defense hasn't been the Owls' primary issue the past two (awful) seasons, and Pelini's almost exclusively a defensive coach. A solid offensive coordinating hire is a must.
OUT: Larry Porter, fired Nov. 27 after a 3-21 record over two seasons, 10 of those 21 losses coming by 35 or more points.
IN: Justin Fuente, co-offensive coordinator at TCU since 2009. The Frogs set school records in yards and points each of his first two seasons as play-caller, including the undefeated 2010 campaign, and have finished in the FBS top 12 in yards per-play all three years.
WHAT WE THINK: For being a program as downtrodden as Memphis, the Tigers' final two of Fuente and Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain was impressive in and of itself, with Fuente bringing the gaudier offensive resume and McElwain the bigger name-brand. Fuente's offensive track record and youthful energy should get Memphis out of the C-USA cellar at the minimum, but whether he'll recruit or defend well enough to do more remains to be seen.
OUT: Mike Locksley, fired Sept. 25, a day after a recruit was arrested and charged with DWI while driving a car registered to Locksley. He left with a 2-26 record at the Lobos' helm.
IN: Bob Davie, former Notre Dame head coach and longtime ESPN analyst. Hired November 16, Davie hasn't coached since 2001 but went 35-25 in his five years in South Bend.
WHAT WE THINK: The marriage of a program that desperately needs a burst of energy/enthusiasm and a 57 year-old coach who hasn't been on a sideline in a decade is an odd one. But Davie didn't rise to the Irish head coaching position by being an idiot, and his name recognition and classiness should bring some dignity back to a program stinging from a long string of embarrassments under Locksley. Could the Lobos really have done much better?
OUT: Bob Toledo, who "mutually agreed" to resign Oct. 15 after four and a half years at the Green Wave helm, during which he compiled a 15-40 record.
IN: New Orleans Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson is the choice. A New Orleans native and local high school graduate, Johnson has spent five seasons with the Saints after nine as a receivers coach at Miami, tutoring the likes of Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson.
WHAT WE THINK: It's hard to imagine a candidate with closer ties to the New Orleans community or one with more immediate credibility on the local recruiting trail, and Johnson's Saints colleagues (including Sean Payton) have said he's ready for a head coaching position. But the track record of NFL assistants turned college head coaches who haven't had so much as a coordinator's job have a spotty track record, at best. Johnson could be the Green Wave's Doug Marrone ... or its Tim Brewster.
OUT: Neil Callaway, who "resigned" Nov. 27 after his first head coaching job produced an 18-42 record over five seasons.
IN: Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee is the choice after helping guide the Razorback offense to top-two finishes in the SEC in back-to-back seasons (not to mention a pair of 10-2 records). McGee is a finalist for this year's Broyles Award and enjoyed two productive years as the OC at Northwestern before joining Bobby Petrino's Razorback staff.
WHAT WE THINK: Corralling an experienced, highly respected SEC-level coordinator is quite an accomplishment for a program with as little track record of success as UAB's--not to mention their major issues in facilities quality and fan support. We don't know if McGee will succeed or not (though the Blazers shouldn't lack for offense), but he's going to give the Blazers as much of a chance as any candidate in their pool.
OUT: Per CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy, Steve Fairchild, who coached the Rams for four seasons but couldn't finish any better than 3-9 in any of his final three. After starting 3-1 this season, the Rams dropped their final eight, including a third straight "Border War" loss to Wyoming.
IN: Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who has overseen offensive improvement relative to the SEC all four of his seasons in Tuscalooa after one equally promising season as a play-caller at Fresno State. McElwain has never been a collegiate head coach.
WHAT WE THINK: McElwain's schemes aren't revolutionary and may not be quite as effective without Crimson Tide-type personnel, but that still shouldn't overshadow what he accomplished for Nick Saban--back-to-back years in the top 10 in yards per-play and three straight in the top 21 in scoring offense. Coordinators that do those those sorts of things for national championship-caliber squads typically go to much larger jobs than this one, making this a legitimate coup for the Rams.
OUT: Pat Hill, the dean of WAC coaches whose all-comers scheduling philosophy and BCS-level upsets arguably put Fresno football on the map. He leaves with a 112-80 overall record and 11 bowl appearances, but zero outright conference titles and a 4-9 record this season.
IN: Tim DeRuyter, current Texas A&M interim head coach and Aggie defensive coordinator, who officially took the job Dec. 14. After helping turning around previous defenses at stops like Ohio and Air Force, the California native spent two years taking the Aggies from 90th nationally in yards allowed per-play to back-to-back top-25 finishes in that statistic.
WHAT WE THINK: Though DeRuyter has often been mentioned as a bright up-and-coming coordinator since landing in College Station, he might still be underrated; A&M's up-tempo offense and the Big 12's regular shootouts have kept his total defense and scoring numbers artificially low. We like DeRuyter's first-time-head-coach energy and Cali connections as well as his 3-4 schemes, too; given Fresno's budget crunch, it's hard to imagine them having done any better than this.
OUT: Greg McMackin. The head coach since 2008, McMackin announced his retirement on Monday after four seasons in which his teams went 29-25 and made two bowl appearances. The team went 6-7 in 2011.
IN: Norm Chow, the Hawaii native who earned a deserved reputation as one of the college game's brightest offensive minds through years of helming devastating attacks at BYU and then USC. This is the 65-year-old's first college head coaching position.
WHAT WE THINK: If this was still 2003 or 2004, the Warriors would have just made one of the biggest, best hires of the season. But Chow's star has dimmed of late, with his UCLA tenure a total bust and Utah not seeing much in the way of results this season, either (110th in total offense). Still, Chow's certainly no dummy when it comes to offensive scheming, and in full command of his own offense at a place that's always enjoyed plenty of aerial success, the Warriors should still put up plenty of points. Chow's legendary status on the islands won't hurt recruiting, either. But at his age, how long can Chow handle the pressures of the job?
OUT: The aformentioned Hugh Freeze, who took the Ole Miss head coaching position after one spectacular 10-2 season in Jonesboro, the only 10-win campaign in Sun Belt conference history.
IN: Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn agreed to become the Red Wolves' new head coach Dec. 13, following a spectacular run as an assistant at Tulsa and then on the Plains that saw him turn the Golden Hurricane into the nation's No. 1 offense two years running and the Tigers into Heisman-winning national champions.
WHAT WE THINK: While the Auburn faithful are left wondering why Malzahn turned down a far more lucrative offer to coach Vanderbilt in 2010 only to bolt for a traditional Sun Belt also-ran in 2011, there's no question marks on ASU's end: they landed a native Arkansan who just-so-happens to be one of college football's brightest minds and hottest assistants, all for a salary reported to be nearly four times less than what Vandy would have paid him. It's not just a home run, it's a walk-off grand slam.
OUT: Larry Fedora, who (as you know if you read the first entry on this list) accepted the headcoaching position at North Carolina.
IN: Ellis Johnson, the just-turned-60-years-old defensive coordinator of South Carolina, named head coach Dec. 20. A former USM DC himself, Johnson has 29 years of coaching experience, including head coaching stints at Gardner-Webb and his alma mater the Citadel.
WHAT WE THINK: With his experience recruiting in the state of Mississippi (Johnson also had a successful stint under Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State) and long track record of outstanding defenses, Johnson should fix the Eagles' persistent defensive woes sooner rather than later. But Johnson's earlier head coaching gigs were less than successful, his ideas about offense seem an oil-and-water mix with USM's established spread attack, and at his age there are inevitable questions about how much energy he'll bring to the position. A solid-but-not-spectacular hire.
OUT: Tim Beckman, who has accepted the Illinois job after three outstanding seasons with the Rockets.
IN: Rocket offensive coordinator Matt Campbell has been promoted to the full head coaching position after guiding the Toledo offense to two top-15 finishes in total offense the past three years. At 32 years of age, Campbell replaces Fuente as the youngest FBS head coach.
WHAT WE THINK: Campbell had the trust and support of the Rocket players and fellow coaches, an insider's knowledge of both the program and (as an Ohio native) its recruiting grounds, all the offensive production you could want from an offensive-minded coach, and all the enthusiasm you'd expect from a 32-year-old on his first head coaching gig. The Rockets still have to repair some defensive issues to get over the hump and deliver a MAC title, but promoting Campbell looks like a no-brainer from here.
OUT: After four outstanding seasons, Kevin Sumlin, now the head coach at nearby Texas A&M.
IN: Popular associate head coach/inside receivers coach Tony Levine, promoted Dec. 21 after a brief spell as the Cougars' interim coach. Levine is in his fourth season in Houston and has also spent time as an assistant at Louisville and with the Carolina Panthers.
WHAT WE THINK: If it ain't broke, why fix it? Promoting Kevin Sumlin from the Cougar assistant ranks to old boss Art Briles's job worked like a charm last time Houston needed a head coach, so you can hardly fault the Cougar brass for going the same route again. Still, Levine hasn't held any title anywhere above the level of position coach; if he can't keep current UH offensive coordinator Jason Phillips in the fold, he may run into trouble.
Tags: Akron, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Bill Moos, Bob Davie, Bob Toledo, Boise State, Braxton Miller, Butch Davis, Butch Jones, Cal, Charlie Strong, Chicago Bears, Chris Hatcher, Chris Petersen, Cincinnati, Clemson, Coaching Carousel, Coaching Changes, Colorado State, Curtis Johnson, Dan Guerrero, Dan Mullen, Dennis Erickson, Doug Nussmaier, Eddie Gran, Everett Withers, FAU, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Frank Wilson, Fresno State, Georgia Southern, Greg Byrne, Greg Schiano, Gus Malzahn, Holden Thorp, Houston, Houston Nutt, Howard Schnellenberger, Hugh Freeze, Illinois, Jason Phillips, Jeff Monken, Jerry Sandusky, Jim Leavitt, Jim McElwain, Jim McElwain, Jim Michalczik, Jim Tressel, Joe Paterno, John L. Smith, John Neal, Kansas, Kevin Sumlin, Kirby Smart, Lance Thompson, Larry Fedora, Larry Porter, Louisville, LSU, Luke Fickell, Luke Fickell, Mark Hudspeth, Mark Stoops, Memphis, Miami, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Michigan State, Mike Bellotti, Mike Haywood, Mike Leach, Mike Locksley, Mike London, Mike Martz, Mike Sherman, Mike Stoops, Mike Stoops, Mike Thomas, Mississippi State, Mountain West, Murray State, Neil Callaway, New Mexico, New Orleans Saints, Nick Saban, North Alabama, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oakland Raiders, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, Pat Fitzgerald, Pat Hill, Pat Narduzzi, Paul Winters, Paul Wulff, Penn State, Pitt, Randy Shannon, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Neuheisel, Rob Ianello, Ron Zook, Sheahon Zenger, Skip Holtz, South Florida, Southern Miss, Syeve Fairchild, Tennessee, Terry Bowden, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tim Beckman, Todd Monken, Toledo, Tom Bradley, Tom Cable, Tommy Bowden, Tulane, Turner Gill, UAB, UCLA, UL-Lafayette, Urban Meyer, USC, Virginia, VMI, WAC, Washington State, Wayne State, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 1:36 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
There's just something about a few helpings of turkey and some good old fashioned hate for a rival football team.
As the season winds down and, in most cases, ends for teams that don't qualify for a bowl game or conference championship, rivalry week is when many schools put all the eggs in the basket to go into the offseason knowing they went out on a high note.
Because of that, there was no better scene in college football this weekend than Lexington, Kentucky.
Despite using a wide receiver at quarterback due to injuries, Kentucky still managed to pull off a win against Tennessee for the first time since 1984. On the whole, it was a disappointing year but the win over the Volunteers will give the team something positive to think about in the offseason. That AD Mitch Barnhart announced that head coach Joker Phillips would be back for sure next season also added to a historic day for the program.
The scene afterward was what college football was all about. Fans rushed the field to celebrate with players, everyone of whom had a gigantic smile on their face. That they attempted just six passes for 15 yards to win ugly didn't matter, a win is a win and this one meant more than the other four they had during the season.
Perhaps it was appropriate that the Wildcats wore black jerseys because it felt afterward like a funeral for Tennessee, who lost out on a chance to go to a bowl game with the loss. The Derek Dooley era is on shaky ground after barely beating Vanderbilt and, now, ending the streak over Kentucky. No doubt the slick-haired, orange pants wearing Dooley had to take over a difficult situation but it's still Tennessee. There are players there and the defense isn't too bad with Justin Wilcox running things but there has been zero consistency.
The losses are one thing for Dooley but the lack of wins might be the most concerning part if you're a Vols fan. He's never beaten a ranked team and has no signature victory that he can hold his hat on. You can understand why they're clamoring for his head in Knoxville.
It was a slightly different scene in College Station - except for the clamoring for the head coach's head part.
It was once again a second half to forget for Texas A&M, as they ended their final scheduled game with Texas by falling on their face. There was plenty of optimism coming in that the Aggies would get the last laugh before leaving for the SEC but it was the Longhorn players who had no problem starting up an "S-E-C!" chant following the victory.
"Sports can be really cruel," Mack Brown said. "I think it was a time tonight where both teams deserved to win."
After 118 meetings, it was pretty cruel for things to end that way. Kyle Field had erupted following Ryan Tannehill's pass to Jeff Fuller for a 16 yard touchdown to take the lead but was silent after Justin Tucker's 40 yard field goal sailed through the uprights.
"They played their hearts out tonight," Tucker said. "But sending them off to the SEC with a sour taste in their mouth feels pretty good."
Nothing like beating a rival.
Stat of the week
In 26 games among BCS AQ schools or ranked non-AQ schools on Saturday, just two were within seven points and the average margin of victory was 20 points.
Stats of week
- Alabama held Auburn to a 3-and-out on 7-of-10 drives and now has 72 3-and-outs in 143 opponent drives (50.3%)
- Since 2007, Tennessee and Kentucky are both 33-31. The Wildcats beat the Vols for the first time in 26 games, a span of 9,863 days. Tennessee finishes the year with consecutive losing records for the first time since 1910-11.
- Texas A&M was outscored 76-7 in the third quarter of their losses.
- Via the AP, Nebraska has nine or more wins for the 38th time in 42 seasons (90%).
- LSU's secondary has scored as many touchdowns (6) as they've allowed.
- Not sure if Trent Richardson helped win the Heisman with his career-high 203 yards in the Iron Bowl but he did nothing but bolster his resume. Remarkably the score at halftime was the same (24-7) as it was a year ago when some guy named Cam wiped out the deficit on the way to a championship. There would be no comeback from the Tigers this time thanks in large part to the suffocating Tide defense that allowed just 140 yards of offense. The lone bright spot for the home team was Onterio McCalebb's 83-yard kick return (the first ever in Iron Bowl history) that seemed to give the team some hope before Alabama quickly closed the door. All in all, a dominating effort for a team that has well over a month to prepare for their rematch with LSU.
- Impressive season for Louisville's Charlie Strong, who has done one of the best coaching jobs in the country by clinching at least a share of the Big East title with a win 34-24 over South Florida. Early losses, including one to FIU, seemed to show that the team was at least a year away from being in contention in the league but Strong righted the ship and freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has really come on as of late, passing for three touchdowns against USF. Amazingly, the win snapped a 16-game losing streak in the state of Florida during the regular season. That the Cardinals are in contention for a BCS bowl berth boggles the mind if you watched this team early in the year.
- You would not have expected Rex Burkhead to play against Iowa if you saw him on Monday when he had his foot in a walking boot. He shredded the boot by Saturday however and had no issues pounding away at the Hawkeyes defense, rushing for 160 yards and a touchdown in Nebraska's 20-7 win. Surprisingly, his 38 carries were a school-record and came just a week after one of his worst games of his career against Michigan. It was just part of a punishing offensive attack against Iowa that gave the team an amazing 16 minute time of possession advantage. You can tell why Bo Pellini decided to keep things on the ground after Taylor Martinez tossed a few arm punts early in the game.
- Andrew Luck's final home game ended on a high note as he passed John Elway's school record for career touchdown passes and gave Heisman voters some more to think about. Beating a marquee opponent like Notre Dame on national television helps too, as the Cardinal jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime and never really lost control of the game.
- Down the road in Los Angeles, Matt Barkley made his case to be invited to New York. In what could have been his final game in cardinal and gold, he passed for 423 yards and six touchdowns on a record setting night to throttle UCLA 50-0. "One more year" chants were heard throughout the game but it was a heck of a way for USC to end their bowl ban and put an exclamation point on what has been a terrific season under Lane Kiffin. Things aren't too pretty for the other side as the Bruins were not only humiliated at the Coliseum, but likely will be blitzed just as bad in the Pac-12 Championship game. The "gap" between the two programs that Rick Neuheisel talked about being closed appeared to have never been wider than it was Saturday night.
- Tulsa was supposed to represent Houston's stiffest test of the season but the trip to Oklahoma proved to be anything but as the Cougars rolled in the second half to secure Conference USA hosting duties. As good as Case Keenum was at quarterback, Patrick Edwards was the star of the show, grabbing four touchdowns and 181 yards to break the conference career record for receiving yards. The Golden Hurricanes had been undefeated in league play but Keenum found Edwards on 4th down in the 3rd quarter and it was away they go. Houston converted several 4th downs and built up style points as Keenum threw for 457 yards and a ho-hum five touchdowns before being pulled. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the Cougars defense, who held a normally high-scoring Tulsa attack to just 16 points.
- When Arkansas came into Baton Rouge, the Hogs represented the toughest passing attack LSU would see all season. Luckily the Tigers had the nation's best secondary and one player in particular - the Honey Badger. Tyrann Mathieu is simply a playmaker whenever his team needs it most and you could tell Friday when he returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown that seemed to turn the tide just when it looked like Arkansas was making a game of it. The offense was pretty good too, with Kenny Hilliard, Spencer Ware and even Jordan Jefferson (despite a boneheaded play or two) causing the Razorbacks defense issues. The 21 third quarter points - keyed in part by Mathieu - might have pushed LSU ahead but it was the rushing attack in the 4th quarter that turned a solid win into a blowout. It's no surprise that plenty of people invoked the name Billy Cannon after the game considering that the last time there was a top-three match up in Death Valley, Cannon returned a punt for a score against Ole Miss. Of course it was Mathieu doing the honors this time as the Tigers kept their record perfect on the road to Atlanta and on to New Orleans.
- If you had to say a team was due before the year was up, Colorado was a good choice. The Buffaloes, despite their record, had a pretty decent offense but just couldn't perform on defense or on the road. Although Utah was at home and playing for a chance to go to the Pac-12 title game, the Buffs jumped out to an early lead and managed to hang on to beat the Utes 17-14. Normally reliable field goal kicker Coleman Petersen missed the final kick with seconds left to go 0-3 on the day and diminish Utah's hopes of a solid debut season in a BCS conference. What was billed as the start of a new rivalry between new conference foes turned out to be a historic win for Colorado, as the team ended a 23-game road losing streak. Utah was hampered by the loss of running back John White but there was no question that they should have won this game but a few breaks went the way of CU. Before the season head coach Jon Embree talked about putting up bricks to build a wall of success that the program had done in its glory days and on a chilly Friday afternoon, he added one more thanks to the upset on the road.
- The Countdown Clock on the Columbus Dispatch's website was probably already setup to change following Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan game. Things were closer than expected in the Wolverines 40-34 win at the Big House, a testament to just how hard the Buckeyes fought to keep their streak alive. Braxton Miller was great until his final play, an interception to seal the game, and out-played his counterpart Denard Robinson for much of the afternoon. UM got the last laugh when the gun sounded by ending a streak that had gone nearly 3,000 days but if there was one take away from the annual rivalry game, it's that Miller should be fun to watch in Urban Meyer's offense.
- Most impressive victory this weekend might have been Wisconsin throttling Penn State 45-7. The Nittany Lions have the best defense in the Big Ten but they were ran over by Montee Ball, who scored four touchdowns and has a chance at setting the NCAA single-season record. The rematch with Michigan State for a trip to the Rose Bowl just got a little more interesting.
- If you haven't been able to watch Luke Kuechly play linebacker at Boston College, you missed out on one of the hardest working players in the game. Don't worry, he'll probably be a 10+ year vet in the NFL so there should be plenty of chances to see him in the future though. Surprisingly, Kuechly didn't reach the double-digit tackles plateau for the first time since his freshman year but he did run back an interception for a touchdown and made life tough for Miami in a 24-17 upset. The talented 'backer also became the school's all-time tackles leader and showed why he could be a potential first round pick if he decides to leave school early. On the flip side, Jacory Harris - after perhaps his best season - reverted to the Harris of old by tossing four interceptions in his final college game. While there were not many people watching (in the stands or on TV), the result was overshadowed by the news of the day as Miami announced head coach Al Golden had agreed to a four-year extension that would keep in in Coral Gables until 2020.
- In a/the Backyard Brawl, all rules are off. The intense series between Pitt and West Virginia faced an uncertain future with both moving to different conferences but on the field in 2011 the two had no problem giving everybody a compelling game. The Panthers had jumped out to a 17-7 half-time lead but were simply shut down by a swarming Mountaineers defense in the second half that kept things close enough that the sputtering WVU offense could eventually cash-in a game-winning touchdown. It was a wild ending in a series full of them but Dana Holgorsen's squad managed to pull things out. Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri had a rough night, being sacked 10 (!) times, four of which came on a crazy final drive.
- If you want to know why Dennis Erickson was shown the door at Arizona State, look no further than the late night showdown against an improving California team. It was in many ways it was young (Bears) against and the old (Sun Devils). Erickson's squad was trying to salvage the season and his job, Jeff Tedford's group was trying to build upon the second half of their season. It was a defense-optional shootout like the Pac-10 days of old but Cal managed to force four turnovers that likely ended up as the deciding factor. Credit to Tedford who helped his cause while Erickson killed his, this was a fun game but defense - surprisingly - decided things and that ended up in Cal's favor.
- In terms of surprises, Virginia Tech shutting out a hot Virginia team at home might be highly ranked on the list. It was the Cavaliers first home shutout loss since 1984 and they had zero ground game to speak of (30 yards on 26 carries). It was likely the Hokies best win of the season to date and continued a strong run by quarterback Logan Thomas.
Tweet of the week
"USC card stunts say "We run LA." Based on how poorly the city is run, I would not brag about that.
- Chris Huston, The Hesiman Pundit
3. Oklahoma State
7. Boise State
10. Virginia Tech
Where we'll be this week
I draw the early assignment and will head up Eugene for the Pac-12 Championship game with Oregon and UCLA on Friday. Eye on College Football bloggers Chip Patterson and Adam Jacobi will head to the ACC and Big Ten Championships respectively. Brett McMurphy makes the trip to see Bedlam between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State while Dennis Dodd joins Tony Barnhart in Atlanta for the SEC Championship.
Leaning this way
Georgia vs. LSU
Do the Bulldogs have a chance? No, not really. Even if they did, it appears the Tigers are locked into a trip to the BCS National Championship game in New Orleans either way. Les Miles' secondary already took care of the best quarterback in the SEC West last week and will do pretty much the same to the best quarterback in the SEC East down in Atlanta.
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Don't let the loss to Iowa State fool you, Oklahoma State is still a very good team and their opportunistic defense should enjoy playing Landry Jones on the road. The Sooners haven't really been the same team they were earlier in the season thanks to several injuries - their top running back and wide receiver among them - and they've had their troubles at Boone Pickens Stadium before. Expect it to be close but ultimately the Cowboys will win the game and the Big 12.
Wisconsin vs. Michigan State
These teams are so evenly matched that it took a hail mary for the Spartans to beat the Badgers the first time. That pass isn't something that Wisconsin players forgot about and have a chance to avenge it for a trip to the Rose Bowl. The offense has been rolling the past couple of weeks behind Montee Ball and Russell Wilson so look for them to do some damage against Michigan State the second time around.
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Backyard Brawl, Bedlam, Big East, Big House, Billy Cannon, Bo Pellini, Boise State, Boone Pickens Stadium, Boston College, Braxton Miller, Brett McMurphy, Bryan Fischer, California, Cam Newton, Case Keenum, Charlie Strong, Chip Patterson, Chris Huston, Coleman Petersen, Colorado, Conference USA, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, Dennis Erickson, Derek Dooley, FIU, Georgia, Heisman, Heisman Trophy, Houston, Iowa, Iowa State, Iron Bowl, Jacory Harris, Jeff Fuller, Jeff Tedford, John Elway, Joker Phillips, Jon Embree, Jordan Jefferson, Justin Tucker, Justin Wilcox, Kenny Hilliard, Kentucky, Kyle Field, Landry Jones, Lane Kiffin, Les Miles, Logan Thomas, Louisville, LSU, Luke Kuechly, Mack Brown, Matt Barkley, Miami, Michigan, Michigan, MIchigan State, Mitch Barnhart, NCAA, Nebraska, NFL, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Onterio McCalebb, Oregon, Pac-10, Pac-12 Championship Game, Patrick Edwards, Penn State, Pitt, Rex Burkhead, Rick Neuheisel, Rose Bowl, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, SEC, South Florida, Spencer Ware, Taylor Martinez, Teddy Bridgewater, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Tino Sunseri, Tony Barnhart, Trent Richardson, Tulsa, Tyrann Mathieu, UCLA, Urban Meyer, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 27, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 3:52 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Hot shot commissioner, brand new media deal providing more exposure than ever, facilities upgrades, more money and increased focus on wins.
It's a good time to be a head coach in the Pac-12... except when you're being shown the door.
As the coaching carousel begins in earnest with the end of the regular season, the for-sale signs are popping up all over the West. Thanks in large part to that new media deal, schools are feeling the pressure to win just as much as their counterparts in other parts of the country. The landscape is shifting in college athletics and athletic directors are coming to the realization that they have to find the right guy to lead their program or it's time to make changes.
And if you're an AD even thinking about firing the head coach, you probably should do so. Many have already come to that conclusion and before the Pac-12 puts on the first ever conference title game, there will likely be a third of the league's schools looking at having a new head coach in 2012.
Arizona got a head start on the process and appears to have gotten an A-list head coach for a bargain basement price. Athletic director Greg Byrne is known as one of the sharpest AD's in the country and it showed by shrewdly firing Mike Stoops early in the season following a loss to Oregon State. That allowed him to take his time to research candidates and see who would be the best fit, going so far as to seek out the opinions of the state's high school coaches. Former CBS Sports analyst Rich Rodriguez had taken West Virginia to the cusp of playing for a national title and though he had a rocky time in Ann Arbor, Michigan improved each year he was there. Now he's in Tuscon and while he has another rebuilding job ahead of him, his offense should fit right in out West.
Up the road in Tempe, Arizona State comes open after Dennis Erickson saw the Sun Devils slip from South division locks to barely bowl eligible. Injuries no doubt played a part in 2011's slide but with so many returning starters and upperclassmen on the team, things never did pull together like ASU brass thought it would. For years, this job was thought to be a sleeping giant with access to plenty of talent, decent facilities, a good city to live in and the ability to get plenty of recruits into school. Athletic director Lisa Love will likely target Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin as her first choice (he'll bring plenty of offense and has put Houston a game away from a BCS bowl) but it's possible former Oregon head coach Mike Belloti and even Mike Leach will get an interview.
If Leach's issues (lawsuits against Texas Tech and ESPN, perhaps too open of a personality) don't get him the job with Arizona State, he could be taking his talents to the Palouse. Paul Wulff inherited one of the worst programs in the country - BCS conference or otherwise - and turned Washington State around by steadily improving from year-to-year. They pulled a few upsets this season, including one over ASU that likely shoved Erickson out the door, and came close several other times but it appears they're looking to go in another direction. Leach will have some talent on offense that can utilize his system to put up some big numbers and he knows he can win with the Cougars after seeing Mike Price take them to the Rose Bowl. A West Coast guy, Leach can recruit California with ease and would provide plenty of interest in a program that hasn't had much at all the past couple of years. If he takes a job elsewhere however, AD Bill Moos might have to turn to an assistant coach or a lower-level head coach to fill the needs of a program that seems to be on the right track in a tough division.
Finally there's UCLA, which is probably the most attractive job that will come open west of the Mississippi. One of the few issues is the fact that athletic director Dan Guerrero is himself on shaky ground and may not be making the hire. After Saturday's embarrassing 50-0 loss to crosstown rival USC, it's clear that the gap Rick Neuheisel so recently talked about closing has never been bigger. The Bruins will play in the first ever Pac-12 Championship Game but based on how they played against the Trojans, it looks like they'll just be sacrificial lambs to an Oregon team in the top ten. When - not if - Neuheisel is let go following the game, the direction the school takes in finding his replacement will be an interesting one. Alumni are clearly fed up with the losing and have a prime opportunity to take advantage of local talent with USC entering scholarship reductions for the next three years. The facilities are good and few campuses in the country can compare to what they have in Westwood.
Boise State's Chris Petersen is the name frequently tossed around as the Bruins' top target but they have a better chance of knocking off Oregon and going to the Rose Bowl than they do landing Petersen. Boosters are ready to pony up the cash - as much as $3 million or more - but who's handling the search remains to be seen. After missing with his previous football hires, it's hard to see that being Guerrero. After Petersen, Sumlin seems like the top candidate but they'll have to move quickly. Leach, who went to school at Pepperdine and is well-connected in Los Angeles, still seems like a long shot due to his legal issues but he would certainly put people in the seats at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Off the radar candidates include Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, SMU's June Jones, Louisville's Charlie Strong and Belloti.
There are plenty of good jobs in the Pac-12 for the taking and someone is going to take them. Who and when remain to be seen.
Tags: Arizona, Arizona State, BCS, Bill Moos, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Charlie Strong, Chris Petersen, Coaching Changes, Coaching Rumors, Dan Guerrero, Dennis Erickson, Greg Byrne, Houston, June Jones, Kevin Sumlin, Lisa Love, Louisville, Michigan, Mike Belloti, Mike Leach, Mike Price, Mike Stoops, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Paul Chryst, Paul Wulff, Pepperdine, Rich Neuheisel, rich Rodgriguez, Rose Bowl, SMU, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin