Skip to content

2011: A look ahead

Carnac

What’s that you say?  It’s barely stopped raining confetti following Auburn’s BcS title game win over Oregon and we’re already talking about a 2011 season that won’t start for another eight months?

You damn right we are.  And you know why?  ‘Cause that’s how we roll.  Or something.

Anyway, here’s a brief look at how at how things may play out in 2011.  And, based on our look ahead to the 2010 season, you don’t have much to worry about if there’s anything negative about your school below.

FIVE COMPELLING STORYLINES

1. The Conference Shuffle
You may have forgotten, but several schools will be ditching long-time conference homes for some new league digs in the coming months.  Nebraska to the Big Ten from the Big 12.  Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12 from the Big 12 and Mountain West, respectively.  Boise State from the WAC to the Mountain West.  Perhaps the most intriguing angles will come from the two BcS conferences with new additions; specifically, how will the split into two six-team divisions and the addition of a conference title games affect the leagues as it pertains to the BcS?   It’s hard to say at this point in time how this mini-expansion apocalypse will impact the various conferences, but it’s certainly a new frontier these leagues will be plowing.  And something that bears watching as conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 continue to sniff around adding even more schools in the coming years.

2. Can the Big Ten Recover From New Year’s Day Bowl Embarrassment?
Last year at this time, we were asking if the Big Ten had displayed earnest growth based on their performance during the 2009-2010 bowl season or if it was merely just a one-year blip.  The 0-5 massacre on the first day of 2011 suggests the latter is the case.  We all know — or at least should know — that bowl performance is not indicative of conference strength one way or the other.  However, it’s a number that’s used to fuel national perceptions, and right now the Big Ten is back nationally to where they were two years ago: a sloth-like, middle-of-the-road conference that has a long ways to go before they climb even with the likes of the SEC.

3. Can Texas Two-Step Back to Their Rightful Place?
Any way you parse it, the 2010 season was an unmitigated disaster for the Longhorns.  Not only was UT 5-7 overall, but they finished an unsightly 2-5 at home — including losses to UCLA, Iowa State and Baylor.  Again, at home.  Following that disaster, Mack Brown overhauled most of his coaching staff either of his own volition or out of necessity, including bringing in new coordinators on both sides of the ball.  There’s simply too much talent on that roster for yet another disastrous year in what could very well be Brown’s swan song.  Oops, did we type that out loud?

4. Last Call for JoePa-hol… Maybe?
Despite rumors that were running rampant that Joe Paterno would be forced to step down due to health concerns, the legendary head coach will be back for his 147th season as Penn State’s head coach in 2011.  But, will it be his last?  Paterno is entering the final year of a three-year contract, and administration stated after a meeting with Paterno this past weekend that his future won’t be discussed until after the ’11 season.  He’s gotta go at some point; will this be the year?

5. The NFL Labor Issue
Based on the rhetoric coming from both sides of the NFL’s labor issue, there seems to be a very good chance that the players will face a lockout at the hands of the owners.  There’s also a very real possibility that the lockout could drag into the regular season, costing the NFL games… and leaving college football as the only “major” game in town.  We’ve heard from a couple of members of athletic departments that filling that football vacuum and sliding some games to Sunday “is something that has been talked about and will continue to be talked about if (the labor projections) continue” to look gloomy.  The NFL will always be king; college football, though, could very well be a big beneficiary of that league’s stupidity.

WAY-TOO-EARLY HEISMAN ROLL CALL

1. Andrew Luck, Stanford — The quarterback surprised some by returning to the Cardinal for another season.  It would be no surprise at all if he winds up in New York City in December holding the same stiff-armed trophy he finished runner-up for late last year.  With the coaching change at Stanford, this could be a dicey player to stick at the top of the Heisman list, especially if athletic director Bob Bowlsby decides to eschew the in-house approach for a replacement.

2. Darron Thomas, Oregon — The Ducks quarterback should’ve received more Heisman attention than he did in 2010.  That will be rectified in 2011 as the junior-to-be is too talented as a runner/passer to ignore much longer, the spotty play in the national title game notwithstanding.

3. Cam Newton, Auburn — After the way the quarterback dominated SEC defenses in 2010 on his way to winning the Heisman, why would he not start at the top of the 2011 list?  Simple: only one player has won back-to-back Heismans, and that happened way back in the seventies.  Of course, any inclusion of Newton is predicated on Newton returning — BIG if — instead of leaping to the NFL after just one full season as a starter at this level, which we will know no later than Saturday.

4. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina — We believe it’s a federal law to throw a curve ball into the middle of these lists, so why not toss the talented soon-to-be sophomore running back into the early mix?  Lattimore rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true freshman.  Logic would dictate that Lattimore will receive even more of the workload after proving himself to head coach Steve Spurrier to be a reliable cog in the offense.  Logic would further dictate that, with a year of seasoning and three-fifths of a solid offensive line returning, Lattimore will be able to improve his 4.8 yards per carry from this past season.

5. Kellen Moore, Boise State — Based on Moore’s first three years with the Broncos, he would appear to be a mortal lock for at least another trip to New York City, provided he can remain healthy and the wheels don’t fall of the BSU freight train.  The senior-to-be has averaged 3,600 yards, 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions in his three years as a starter, all the while completing just over 68 percent of his passes.

6. LaMichael James, Oregon — The nation’s leading rusher in 2010, James, like Luck, decided to eschew a shot at NFL riches for another season of college ball.  For whatever reason, despite his productivity, James does not receive the hype and/or love from the media that he seemingly deserves.  Is he being viewed as a “system back”?  We’ve gotten that impression from some and, although we believe it to be unfair, it’s not likely to abate at any point in the near future.

Bonus Pick: Matt Barkley, USC — Call this one a serious hunch, but we feel that the USC quarterback is on the precipice of fulfilling all of his immense high school hype and throwing some serious numbers out onto the Heisman table.  Plus, it will make NBC Sports.com‘s college football editor very happy, and could potentially help curb his incessant whining over the state of the Trojans.

RICH RODRIGUEZ MEMORIAL COACHING HOT SEAT

1. Paul Wulff, Washington State
The man is 5-32 in three years with the Cougars and barely made it to a fourth.  If he doesn’t show marked improvement in the won-loss ledger, you can bet he won’t get a fifth year and will instead be thrown out on his Wazzu.

2. Mark Richt, Georgia
During his 10 years in Athens, Richt has only finished a season with a winning percentage below .667 twice.  Oddly enough, both of those seasons have come in the past two seasons.  The native Dawgs are getting restless and, with a new boss sitting in the athletic director’s office with a winning mandate for the football program, Richt had better win this season.  Or else.

3. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
Slick Rick returned to his alma mater with great fanfare… and has proceeded to defecate all over the bed.  All Neuheisel has done is wrap a pair of 4-8 seasons around a 7-6 second year during his three seasons with the Bruins.  Perhaps most disturbing is an utterly inept offense that spits and sputters despite the presence of a former quarterback in Neuheisel and an offensive genius in Norm Chow.  What it will take for Neuheisel to remain at UCLA beyond 2011 remains to be seen, but it sure as hell will have to be more than what Slick Rick has done thus far.

4. Ron Zook, Illinois
No coaching hot seat would be complete without the perpetually on-fire backside of The Zookster.  Zook bought himself a little bit of time with a seven-win season that included a bowl win, but he’s still just 28-45 in six years in Champaign.  Even more unacceptable is the fact that he’s 16-32 in the Big Ten and has finished above .500 in conference play just once — the Illini’s Rose Bowl season waaay back in 2007.  It appears Zook will get one more season to show the program is taking significant strides.  Then again, dude has the same number of lives as a couple of felines, so we’ll see.

5. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
The fourth-year coach was thiiis close to getting the axe following the 2010 season, but received a reprieve.  Based on what we’ve been told, it will be his one and only commutation, especially since the Sun Devils are the early pick by some to win the Pac-12 South.  In other words, Erickson might want to consider winning post-haste.

FIVE RISERS
1. Alabama
C’mon, this might be the biggest no-brainer of the bunch.  Is there really any explanation needed as to why the Tide, which finished No. 10 following the blowout of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, is very likely to find their way back into the Top 5 for the vast majority of the upcoming season?  Then again, the quarterback position…

2. Syracuse
Oh yeah; I went there.  Consider this my one flyer in this category.  And, no, I don’t see the Orange as a Top 10 team at any point during the ’11 season, but, given the strength — or lack thereof — in the Big East, Doug Marrone has the opportunity to do something special as early as this coming year.  Hell, UConn made a BcS bowl; why can’t the ‘Cuse?

3. Texas
Almost as big a no-brainer as ‘Bama.  Again, too much talent on that 85-man roster, and Mack Brown is too good of a coach, to allow yet another debacle to take place.

4. Mississippi State
OK, I lied; there’ll be two flyers in this category.  A 9-4 season that included close losses to Auburn and Arkansas, and a big blowout win in the Gator Bowl has the Bulldogs set up for a leap from perennial also-ran to legitimate contender in Dan Mullen’s third year in Starkville.

5. Florida/Florida State
A new head coach at UF seems to have reinvigorated the entire Gator football program, something we fully expect to carry over into a rebound ’11 season.  A first-year head coach at FSU has no doubt brought new life to Seminole Nation, as evidenced by a recruiting class that could easily finish in the top three in the country.  It’s a better sport when programs like these two are relevant.  Expect that to be the case in 2011.

FIVE TUMBLERS
1. Virginia Tech
Yes, Frank Beamer & Company seem to reload year after year, but losing one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country in Tyrod Taylor (no relation) as well as two of your top running backs to early entry is not exactly the optimal recipe for sustaining success.

2. Missouri
Blame this hunch solely on attrition.  When you lose your best player on the offensive side of the ball, especially when it’s at the quarterback position, and one of your best on the defensive side of the ball, there’s a very good chance for at least a brief step back for the Mizzou program.

3. Ohio State
Shocked at this one?  You shouldn’t be.  Four offensive starters suspended for, barring a successful appeal that results in a reduction, the first five games of the season does not portend well regardless of the schedule.  Down one-third of your starting offense, suddenly games against Miami (Fla.) and Colorado don’t look like such gimmes, and the game against Big Ten co-champ Michigan State gets that much tougher.

4. UConn
Randy Edsall was Huskies football.  As much as we didn’t like the hire for Maryland, we think his departure will have a very negative impact on UConn, which go only eight votes in the final AP Top 25 poll, at least for the short-term.  Then again, they do still reside in the Big East…

5. Michigan State
Personally, I thought the Spartans’ magical 11-2 run was a mirage.  They will prove me correct in 2011 as they have to go on the road to face Notre Dame — a team I nearly put in the Five Risers — Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa, as well as take on Wisconsin at home.

EARLY-BIRD TOP FIVE*

1. Oklahoma: I didn’t buy into the preseason Sooner hype last offseason; I’m ready to this year.  Wholeheartedly and unequivocally.

2. Oregon: Darron Thomas, LaMichael James & Company returning?  Something tells me that No. 2 might end up being too low.

3. TCU: Sure, the Horned Frogs lose some key performers — chief among them quarterback Andy Dalton — but the combination of a likely Top Five placement in the preseason polls, a “favorable” schedule and a helluva football program built by Gary Patterson has the private school poised to remain on the fringes of title contention for years to come.  Especially when their schedule really gets easy with the move to the Big East.

4. Stanford: Jim Harbaugh left a helluva foundation for whoever it is that takes over, especially if the Cardinal stays in-house — which they should — for a replacement.  Oh, and Andrew Luck somewhat unexpectedly returning for another year?  That’s enough to at least start them off inside the Top Five.

5. Boise State: The move to the Mountain West should help the Broncos’ “street cred”, even just a little and even with the loss of Utah from the conference.  Chris Petersen reaffirmed his commitment to BSU, and Kellen Moore returns for one more season on the blue turf.  What’s not to like about their chances of competing yet again for a BcS slot… and maybe a spot in the national title game in New Orleans a year from now.

(*With this Top Five, and unlike the early Heisman Roll Call, I’m going with the assumption that Newton will leave early; if he doesn’t, Auburn would be my No. 2)

Permalink 18 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, Top Posts

Reserve LB is fifth Georgia defender arrested this off season

Georgia v Clemson

It hasn’t exactly been a banner off season for the Georgia Bulldogs and head coach Mark Richt.

The team’s off-the-field issues continued Saturday morning when reserve linebacker Davin Bellamy was arrested on charges of DUI and speeding, according to the Athens-Clarke County (Ga.) jail log. Bellamy, a redshirt freshman, was booked at 5:02 a.m. and released an hour and 20 minutes later after posting a $2,000 bond.

Bellamy is the fifth member of the Bulldogs’ defense to be arrested this off season.  The linebacker’s arrest comes on the heels of the team dismissing defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor from the team Wednesday after his second arrest. Taylor was the third member of the unit to be dismissed.

Since this is Bellamy’s first offense, he isn’t expected to be dismissed from the team, but the Georgia’s student-athlete handbook stipulates that any athlete with a DUI charge is required to be suspended for 20 percent of the team’s season. As a result, Bellamy will miss at least the first two games of the season against the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Coach Richt could decide to extend the suspension beyond two games if he deems it necessary.

The loss of Bellamy deals a blow to the Bulldogs’ linebacker depth. Bellamy, a three-star recruit in the 2013 class, was projected to be a backup behind junior Jordan Jenkins at Jack linebacker. Without Bellamy in the lineup, sophomore Johnny O’Neal will now have an opportunity to gain more playing time within the linebacker rotation.

Bellamy’s arrest is the seventh overall for the program since the end of last season.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

It cost $8.78 million for Auburn to buyout Gene Chizik and staff

Auburn v Georgia

Auburn wanted to buyout the contract of former head coach Gene Chizik so badly the school was willing to carve out $8.78 million just to move on. According to a report from Al.com, Auburn set aside nearly that much to buyout the contracts of Chizik and the assistant coaching staff before bringing Gus Malzahn back to Auburn.

As reported, Auburn was originally prepared to spend $11.09 million to buyout the various contracts but the total was reduced as coaches found jobs elsewhere. Chizik, who led Auburn to a national championship just four seasons ago, received a buyout of $7.5 million to account for the remainder of his money owed on his contract. Auburn will pay Chizik a little more than $200,000 per month through the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The remainder of the $8.78 million in buyout money was reserved for former assistant coaches Scot Loeffler, Brian VanGorder and Trooper Taylor. All three coaches have received their final buyout payments.

Auburn worked in the red last year, but with the buyout costs starting to trim down and with a nice boost from revenue sharing through the addition of the SEC Network, Auburn should be in decent shape a year from now.

Permalink 8 Comments Back to top

Southern Miss CB caught in horribly executed armed robbery

Southern Miss v Nebraska

Police say a Southern Mississippi football player has admitted he had a role in planning an armed robbery. Defensive back Ed Wilkins was one of two men involved in the criminal planning, and now he has been indefinitely suspended by the school while the legal process plays out. The university is also investigating the situation. The Sun Herald was first to report the story.

Wilkins and his alleged accomplice, Michael Bailey, were booked in a county jail Friday evening, according to The Sun Herald. A bail was set for each at $75,000.

“This is a serious matter,” Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken said in a statement. “Ed has been removed from the program while we gather additional information.”

The details from a police report state Wilkins and Bailey had a plan to go to a residence in search of money and drugs. Police responded Friday morning to an armed robbery in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and discovered Bailey, who told officers he was just visiting some former roommates to smoke marijuana. Wilkins had reportedly entered the residence with a handgun equipped with a laser and wearing a ski mask while demanding money. When police arrive don the scene, Wilkins was found hiding in a car across the street.

What a masterful plan at work.

Wilkins started nine games for Southern Miss last season, recording 39 tackles and one interception.

Helmet sticker to Dr. Saturday.

Permalink 5 Comments Back to top

Pete Carroll’s contract double-standard logic with Marshawn Lynch

USC v California

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is having a bit of a stand-off with management off the defending Super Bowl champions. Lynch has two years remaining on his contract with the Seahawks but is holding out from training camp to deliver his message to the team. Head coach Pete Carroll got involved by making a statement that comes off a little hollow considering the source.

“It’s a contract for a reason. We made a decision and it was signed, by us and by them,” Carroll said, via USA Today. “We expect them to honor their contract just as we will. We’re going to honor it and we expect them to do the same.”

Oh, that’s rich.

While coaching at USC, Carroll signed a contract extension in December 2005. The new contract would have kept Carroll in charge of the USC Trojans through the end of the 2010 season. The only problem is Carroll saw an opportunity to return to the NFL with the Seahawks. Oh and by the way, that return to the NFL came with a healthier paycheck as a result.

Is this the pot calling the kettle black? Maybe to an extent, although the situations really are a bit different.

In his defense, Carroll had done just about everything he could at USC, winning a BCS championship and another AP national championship while building one of the top programs of the BCS Era by bringing it back to life, even if for a short period of time. Sure, it was slapped with NCAA sanctions for violations that occurred under his watch, and that is fair to mention as well. Carroll has been outspoken about his belief that USC was punished too harshly by the NCAA, but the top level of a football coach’s profession is in the NFL, and Carroll was ready to take another crack at it. The situation and timing were right to move to the NFL when Carroll did.

Even if it meant not honoring the contract he had signed.

Permalink 12 Comments Back to top

AP: TCU’s Devonte Fields surrenders to warrant

Texas Tech v TCU

The future of TCU defensive end Devonte Fields appears to be a bit sketchy at best. The former Big 12 defensive player of the year surrendered himself to authorities after a misdemeanor warrant was issued.

The Associated Press reported Fields surrendered to Tarrant County authorities Thursday afternoon and was released shortly after posting bond of $3,5000. Fields has not been formally charged but could be facing up to one year in jail for a Class A misdemeanor assault. As previously reported, Fields was being investigated for allegedly threatening a woman with a gun.

TCU announced a separation from Fields while the investigation was ongoing earlier this week. Fields allegedly pointed a gun at an ex-girlfriend and threatened to “blast” her during a shouting match after punching in a window.

Nothing about this sounds good, especially in light of a number of stories floating around the football world this week regarding violence aimed at women. It has not been a good week for football players and women, that’s for sure.

Permalink 3 Comments Back to top

Report: Oklahoma’s 5-star RB Mixon “involved in serious altercation”

Photo credit: Rivals

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, a five-star member of the Class of 2014, was out celebrating his 18th birthday, when something went horribly wrong. According to information reported by SoonerScoop.com, Mixon was involved in a serious altercation that required Norman police to respond early Friday morning.

Charges have not been issued by police at this time. Police reportedly want to review security camera footage that may have caught the incident before making any decisions. As of now, details of the incident are a bit limited due to the fact that one or more of the people tied to the police report are juveniles.

Here are some of the early details reported by SoonerScoop.com, the Oklahoma affiliate for Rivals;

Norman police responded to an incident at Pickleman’s Gourmet Café in Norman at 2:39 a.m. on Friday. A spokesman for Pickleman’s gave no comment on the situation.

A synopsis of the report suggests aggravated assault and battery.
​ ​
Sources indicated Mixon was not arrested at the scene as officers wanted to study security footage of the incident before filing any charges.

The incident report obtained by SoonerScoop contains limited information, as one or more juveniles is involved. A spokesman for OU is aware of the incident and issued the following statement:

“We are aware of the matter and it is under internal review.”

Oklahoma is aware of the situation and allowing the legal investigation and process to play out before commenting any further. Mixon was rated a five-star running back by Rivals in the Class of 2014. Rivals also ranked Mixon as the number one overall running back in the country.

Photo credit: Rivals

Permalink 11 Comments Back to top

Report: Clemson WR Peake undergoes knee surgery

Georgia v Clemson Getty Images

The 2014 season may get off to a late start for one Clemson wide receiver. Charone Peake underwent what Clemson is calling minor knee surgery Friday, and the rehab could mean he will have to miss the first week of camp before the 2014 season.

“Charone was having a great summer, but tweaked a knee on Wednesday making a reception,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney in a release, obtained by CBSSports.com. “The surgery was successful and his ACL is fine. He will probably miss the first week of practice and then we will go from there. We expect him to play against Georgia in the season opener.”

Peake saw his 2013 season end prematurely with a torn ACL in the second game of the season. Fortunately, the NCAA granted Peake an extra year of eligibility as a result. Peake was to be competing for a starting job at wide receiver for the Tigers this season.

Helmet sticker to CBSSports.com.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Quick updates on CFB Playoff contender win totals

BCS National Championship - Florida State v Auburn Getty Images

How comfortable are you that Florida State will win 12 games this season? What about Alabama winning 11 games? Some new win total betting lines have been posted in Las Vegas by Wynn Las Vegas, and betting expert David Purdum made note of the schools most often discussed as a contender for the College Football Playoff this season.

Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State have been tied to various favorite-labels as College Football Playoff contenders. Oklahoma is also in that conversation. Purdum added the Sooners are set at 10.5 for the win total…

Are any of these numbers worth taking a shot on with your money?

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

All Steve Addazio wants is the next Tim Tebow at BC

Steve Addazio

If there is one college football player that is most responsible for the elevation of Boston College head coach Steve Addazio, it has to be Tim Tebow. Now, as Addazio looks to build off a decent start at Boston College, the former Florida assistant coach is keeping a watchful eye out for the next Tim Tebow. Is that too much to ask?

“When I saw Tim Tebow, I watched him play in high school and will never forget it,” Addazio said to Jared Shanker of ESPN.com. “To me your quarterback has to have the ‘it factor,’ and I’ve never seen a guy with the ‘it factor’ more in my life. It was oozing off his uniform. I saw him put his whole team on his back and win. He was going to lead and win championships.”

There is little to dispute just how motivational and influential Tebow was to the BCS championship teams at Florida. The Heisman Trophy winner may not have been the best quarterback, but he found ways to help his team win some big games along the way. No matter what you might think about Tebow’s overall football legacy, his time at the college level will leave him as one of the all-time greats. Finding a player of that caliber is a rarity, but if Addazio and his staff can keep working and convince a player of that caliber to come to Boston College to be the next Tebow or Matt Ryan or Doug Flutie it could go a long way. Coincidentally, Flutie’s nephew, Troy, is a quarterback on the Eagles roster.

“I talk to our staff all the time about this,” Addazio said. “We got to be right about this. One of those young guys needs to be a guy that can win a championship for you. If you don’t do that, you struggle.”

Permalink 4 Comments Back to top

Penn State may have a new AD ready to introduce

Nebraska v Penn State

Now that we have reached into Friday afternoon, it seems as though news is starting to slow down. That is not quite the case in State College, Pennsylvania, where it appears Penn State is ready to introduce to the world its new athletics director. A media memo sent out Friday afternoon confirmed there will be a press conference scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the media room at Beaver Stadium. The memo says the purpose is to “make an announcement on a personnel decision within Intercollegiate Athletics.”

Penn State president Eric Barron will open the press conference, but given the timing of the press conference just days before Big Ten media days in Chicago and Penn State’s current athletics director set to step down next week, it just makes too much sense.

It was just over a month ago when it was announced Penn State athletics director David Joyner would be stepping down from his position. Joyner will be resigning from the position effective August 1. The next AD will be taking over a program that sees two more years remaining on a football postseason ban, unless the NCAA amends the sanction terms. As far as football is concerned, the worst may be behind Penn State at this point. The NCAA has already turned over some lost scholarships and a new head coach, James Franklin, is in place and doing terrific work in recruiting.

The Big Ten football media day will get underway on Monday in Chicago.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

Strong message at Texas; RB Bergeron is gone

Marqueston Huff, Joe Bergeron

If there was one thing the Texas football program needed, it was a focus on discipline and getting a toughness back. That is what makes head coach Charlie Strong a terrific hire for the program after cutting ties with Mack Brown. Strong’s message to the team was put on display once more Friday morning with news of senior running back Joe Bergeron being dismissed from the roster.

Bergeron is the seventh player to be booted from the Texas football program since Strong arrived on his saddle in Austin. That number has skyrocketed in the past week with four others being dismissed this week. Running back Jalen Overstreet and defensive end Chevoski Collins were also dismissed by the program on Thursday for various violations, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrell Meander were also suspended by Strong on Thursday as a legal situation stemming from an alleged sexual assault.

Bergeron had been sent home from spring practice earlier this year, so seeing Strong come to this decision may not be quite a shock, although the head coach did sing the praises of the running back during a spring tour. Strong has said from day one as the Texas head coach he needed to make some changes to overhaul what could be a sleeping giant of a program at this point. Strong has always been focused on discipline and he does not waste time coddling players, which is a little bit of the dose of reality seemingly needed in Austin.

Bergeron was third on the team in rushing in 2013, accumulating 362 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 13 games.

Don’t mess with Texas? Don’t mess with Strong, that much is for sure.

Permalink 29 Comments Back to top

Media covering Big Ten picks Ohio State as the favorite, Wisconsin in west

Urban Meyer

The Big Ten is late in the media day circuit, getting started on Monday in Chicago, but we already have a favorite from the media; Ohio State.

The Buckeyes were named the media favorite in a media poll organized by The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, with members of various organizations spread across the Big Ten’s footprint casting their votes and predictions for each Big Ten division and conference champion. There is no formal media poll organized by the Big Ten, so the Cleveland-based newspaper has taken on the responsibility of giving Big Ten fans a preseason poll that swung and missed on the outcome a year ago (nobody picked Michigan State, but that happens). Ohio State received 23 first-place votes to win the Big Ten’s new east division. Defending Big Ten champion Michigan State received the other 10 first-place votes in the east and finished second in the preseason poll. Michigan and Penn State followed, respectively. Big Ten newcomer Maryland was picked to finish fifth in the east, followed by Indiana and the other Big Ten rookie, Rutgers.

The Big Ten’s west division was a bit more open according to the poll voters. Wisconsin came out on top with 15 first-place votes, but Iowa comes in a somewhat surprising second place with 11 first-place votes. Nebraska finished third with five first-place votes and one voter gave Northwestern (fourth in the preseason poll) a first-place vote. Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue round out the west division.

Ohio State received 19 out of 29 votes to win the Big Ten. Michigan State received nine votes and Nebraska received one vote. Wisconsin received no votes to win the Big Ten despite being picked to win the west division.

You can see the full unofficial preseason media poll for more voting results.

Permalink 12 Comments Back to top

Baylor’s Art Briles admits to interest in Texas vacancy

Art Briles

When a dream job comes along, few reasonable people would likely fault anyone for exploring the possibility of leaving all that you have built behind to take the new opportunity. Fortunately for Baylor, their head coach shrugged aside the idea of coaching at Texas this past offseason.

Baylor head coach Art Briles took over the desolate and often hopeless program prior to the 2008 season after a successful stint as a head coach at Houston. Briles was asked to do what seemed to be impossible; turn Baylor football into something worth respecting in the Big 12. After starting out his career in Waco with identical 4-8 seasons, the building blocks were starting to form a foundation and Baylor broke through with a 7-6 record in 2010, the first winning season for the Bears since 1995 in the old Southwest Conference. The next season Robert Griffin III exploded on the scene to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Baylor to a 10-win season, a top 25 finish and the first bowl win for the school since the 1992 season. Last year Baylor won the Big 12 championship and played in the Fiesta Bowl. As far as stock is concerned, Briles may have peaked and could have cashed in.

This is why it only makes sense that Briles would not only be one of the top candidates for the vacancy in Austin, once Texas found a way to move on from Mack Brown, but Briles also had an interest in the job. Was Briles interested? You bet. Yesterday while moving through the ESPN car wash with a stop on the Paul Finebaum radio show, Briles admitted as much.

Briles, of course, chose to stay where he is at Baylor at a big time for the program. The Bears are coming off the first Big 12 championship in school history, appear to be a threat once again in the conference and move into a brand new football stadium this season. Times are good for Baylor. Briles is a big reason why, and it is nice to see someone choose to stay put to see through it all, especially when it is very likely Texas could have made Briles a wealthier man for years to come.

Texas may not have nabbed Nick Saban from Alabama, but the Longhorns ended up with a pretty good coach anyway by hiring Charlie Strong away from Louisville.

Permalink 7 Comments Back to top

SEC Network’s Time Warner deal increases launch viewership to 60 million

A cable truck returns to a Time Warner Cable office in San Diego, California

Things continue to be developing smoothly for the SEC Network, just weeks away from going live on the air. After successfully putting together deals with Comcast and COX Networks, the new network has added another big name to the cable distribution line-up; Time Warner. Just for good measure, the SEC Network has added Bright House Networks to the mix as well. The total potential reach for the launch of the SEC Network is now expected to total an estimated 60 million homes.

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily broke the news about the agreement, which was later confirmed by a release from the SEC Network on Thursday.

“We know we have customers who want the SEC-ESPN Network, and are pleased to bring it to them,” said Andrew Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Content Acquisition for Time Warner Cable. “This deal will help ensure that fans and alumni of SEC universities won’t miss any important games.”

“By delivering the SEC Network across Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks’ nationwide footprint, including key markets within SEC territory, we are meeting the demands of fans while also adding value to customers’ video subscriptions in advance of the network’s launch next month,” said Sean Breen, Disney and ESPN Media Networks senior vice president of affiliate sales.

There is still one giant hurdle remaining for what is already being praised as a masterful launch for the network; DirecTV. There is also some growing concern about ESPN’s involvement with the SEC Network and the College Football Playoff, as expressed by Bart Doan on The Student Section, but as far as preparing for a grand debut, ESPN has been hard at work at the negotiating table to make sure everything is lined up for the launch of the new network. It may just be a matter of time before there is a deal with DirecTV signed by all parties. At this point, DirecTV would be wise to not be labeled as the one provider without the network.

The SEC Network will launch on August 14.

Permalink 11 Comments Back to top

Four Cincy players forced to retire, QB Legaux working his way back

Cincinnati v Louisville Getty Images

The playing careers for a pair of Cincinnati players have come to an end as a result of a car crash last September. Wide receivers Mark Barr and Javon Harrison will no longer play football due to injuries suffered in a tragic auto accident that claimed the life of offensive lineman Ben Flick.

In addition to Barr and Harrison, Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville confirmed to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer that safety Marcus Foster and defensive back Drake Burns will also no longer be able to play football. All four players will remain on scholarship.

Harrison was listed in stable condition once taken to a hospital following the accident, but Barr was placed in critical condition. Barr was released from a hospital nearly a month later.

In more positive injury news out of Cincinnati, quarterback Munchie Legaux is making some good progress on his return to football. After suffering a devastating knee injury early last season, Legaux was granted an extra year of eligibility and he is looking to make it count. Tuberville expects Legaux to be in uniform and available to practice once the Bearcats open training camp. With Gunner Kiel stating his case for the starting job in the spring, Legaux may have to be at 100 percent and work to win the job back once he is.

Permalink 5 Comments Back to top