Signing Day

USC tops, SEC dominates recruiting past 10 years

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As part of their celebration of “Rivals at 10”, Rivals.com has compiled a list of the top schools in the recruiting game over the past decade.

And, in what should come as no surprise at all, a plethora of schools from the SEC litter the Top 25 list, while a Left Coast school is the paper recruiting champion.

Thanks in large part to four No. 1 recruiting classes during that span, USC sits atop Rivals’ Top 25 rankings for individual schools from 2002-11.  Perhaps more impressive than the top classes is the Trojans’ “worst” recruiting showing: 13th in 2002, the year after Pete Carroll‘s first full season at the Los Angeles school.  All told, those recruiting class rankings translated into on-field success for Carroll’s program as the Trojans compiled the third-best winning percentage in the country during the past decade.

Interestingly, the next two schools in the rankings — Georgia at No. 2, Florida at No. 3 — tied for 10th in the country in winning percentage.  Florida, however, has two national titles during that span while Georgia has none, which could explain in part why Mark Richt‘s backside may be inching closer to the proverbial hot seat.

Others, however, fared far “worse” record-wise when compared to their recruiting rankings than did the cocktail partygoers.

Florida State is arguably the most striking example, finishing No. 6 in the recruiting rankings but just 36th in winning percentage.  Other examples of the “coaching matters” principle include Notre Dame (14th in rankings, 46th in winning percentage), South Carolina (15th, 55th), Texas A&M (16th, 59th), UCLA (T17th, 61st), Ole Miss (21st, 70th) and North Carolina (23rd, 80th).

On the flip side, there were other schools that made more than most out of the on-paper rankings, especially Boise State and TCU.

The Broncos had the highest winning percentage of any Div. 1-A school the past decade, but just the 76th-best recruiting ranking.  The Horned Frogs weren’t far behind their (for now) Mountain West Conference colleague with the fifth-best winning percentage while compiling an overall No. 61 in recruiting rankings.

Inside the Top 25, Virginia Tech had the 25th-best recruiting effort over the past 10 years but managed to finish eighth in winning percentage.  Ohio State was 12th in recruiting but No. 2 overall in percentage of wins.

There were just three of the 12 SEC schools that did not make the Top 25, with Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Ole Miss being joined by LSU (4th), Auburn (8th), Tennessee (T9th), Alabama (13th) and Arkansas (24th).

Here’s Rivals’ complete Top 10 list, but you can view the entire Top 25 by clicking HERE:

1. USC  (nine Top 10 classes)
2. Georgia (10)
3. Florida (six)
4. LSU (seven)
5. Texas (seven)
6. Florida State (eight)
7. Oklahoma (seven)
8. Auburn (six)
T9. Michigan (four)
T9. Tennessee (five)

Alabama reportedly fills defensive assistant vacancy with Derrick Ansley

Alabama defensive back Cyrus Jones (5) is mobbed by teammates after intercepting a pass in the end zone during the first half against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football semifinal playoff game, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
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When Alabama lost defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to a head coaching position at Georgia, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban stressed his program always manages to find good coaches to fill spots left by coaches going to accept other positions. Needing to fill out its staff following the latest changes in the coaching carousel, Alabama looks to have filled a defensive assistant role with the addition of Derrick Ansley.

According to a report Sunday morning from TideSports.com (a Rivals affiliate covering Alabama), Ansley will join the coaching staff at Alabama after serving as a co-defensive coordinator for Kentucky. While in Lexington, Ansley coached the secondary for the Wildcats. It is reported he is expected to fill the same role with Alabama under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Ansley previously coached under Saban as a graduate assistant in 2010 and 2011 before moving to Tennessee for one season. He joined the Kentucky staff in 2013. At Alabama, Ansley will fill the vacancy left by Mel Tucker, who moved to Georgia with Smart. Tucker was Alabama’s secondary coach as well.

Cam Newton is first Heisman Trophy winner to win NFL MVP since Barry Sanders

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton walks onto the Auburn football field before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
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On the eve of the Super Bowl, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was named the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League. He is the first Heisman Trophy winner to win the NFL’s MVP award since Detroit Lions running back and former Oklahoma State star Barry Sanders was named the best player in the NFL in 1997. Sanders shared the MVP honors that season with Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, which means Newton is the first Heisman Trophy winner to be the outright winner of the NFL’s MVP award since 1985, when Los Angeles Raiders running back Marcus Allen won the award (Allen was a Heisman Trophy running back for USC in 1981.

Newton becomes the first quarterback to win the top honor at the college and NFL level and joins a short list by becoming the sixth player to receive both awards. Newton was a Heisman Trophy quarterback for Auburn during the 2010 season, in which he fueled a BCS Championship Run. Newton now can become the first player in football history to win the Heisman Trophy, a college national championship, NFL MVP and a Super Bowl. To do that, Newton will have to lead the Panthers past the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, who is perhaps one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time but was passed over for a Heisman Trophy by Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997 (Manning finished second in the voting that season).

It is somewhat amazing to think that grand slam of football has never been achieved once since the NFL MVP award was first awarded by the Associated Press in 1957, but it also goes to show that sometimes the best players in college and the NFL do not always achieve the top-level of championship success.

Players to win Heisman Trophy and NFL MVP

  • RB Paul Hornung
  • RB O.J. Simpson
  • RB Earl Campbell
  • RB Marcus Allen
  • RB Barry Sanders
  • QB Cam Newton

Temple adds recent NFL assistant, long-time college coach

MIAMI - 2009:  George DeLeone of the Miami Dolphins poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
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With the Cleveland Browns (again) changing regimes, George DeLeone found himself on the outside of the coaching profession looking in.  A couple of weeks later, DeLeone is back on the inside, and in a familiar locale at that.

While the school has yet to officially confirm it, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that DeLeone has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff at Temple.  Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com subsequently confirmed the report.

According to both outlets, DeLeone will serve as the Owls’ running-game coordinator.

The past two seasons, DeLeone worked as an assistant line coach with the Browns.  Prior to that, however, the vast majority of his 46-year coaching career had been spent at the collegiate level.  And a sizable chunk of that time was spent in the Northeast.

DeLeone’s first FBS job came at Rutgers from 1980-83.  Two different stints at Syracuse (1985-96, 1998-2004) were sandwiched between his the job at the NFL level with the Miami Dolphins (1997).  Temple was his home from 2006-07, and then UConn from 2011-13 before the Browns called.

Demoted by BC, Todd Fitch takes over as LaTech’s OC

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Skip Holtz of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs objects to a call during the first half of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 19, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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A promotion in 2015 was quickly followed by a demotion a year later for Todd Fitch.  Not long after the latter went down, Fitch left town for a fresh start to his coaching career.

Friday, Skip Holtz announced that Fitch has been hired as his offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech.  Additionally, Fitch will serve as the wide receivers coach for the Bulldogs.

Fitch had spent the past three seasons at Boston College, first as receivers coach and passing-game coordinator in 2013-14 before being promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015.  However, BC head coach Steve Addazio announced in mid-January that he had hired Scott Loeffler as his coordinator, effectively demoting Fitch back to receivers coach.

Three weeks later, Fitch headed south.

“I am excited to be joining a staff that is part of growing something special,” Fitch said. “This coaching staff has laid the groundwork for a program that has already done some great things and is building a foundation for future success. I am excited for the opportunity to be on a staff with Skip Holtz again and to keep growing this program.”

In addition to BC, Fitch had also been a coordinator at East Carolina and USF. Holtz was the head coach at both of those stops.