CFT predicts: Big East standings

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As we look ahead to the 2011 college football season, we take with us the lessons we learned from seasons past. We calculate, scrutinize, dissect and digest schedules, returning starters, coaching changes, injuries, and yes, even hunches, and spew it back in the form of how we think each of the 11 Division 1 FBS conferences — and the independents — will pan out by year’s end.

Of course, these are merely our opinions. Feel free, as we know you will, to disagree. We know that’s why you really come here anyway.

Here are our predictions for the Big East:

Ben’s take:
The Mountaineers are the early favorites to win the Big East, and there are plenty of reasons to feel good about them. WVU returns quarterback Geno Smith and a talented group of receivers in new coach Dana Holgorsen’s pass-happy offense. But West Virginia is frighteningly thin at offensive line — a position they’ve struggled with the last few years — and loses eight defensive starters from a stingy 2010 defense.

The conference schedule is manageable, clearly, but if I were a Mountaineer fan, I’d be worried if Smith got hurt. Or, if Holgorsen bought a beer during a game.

I had South Florida winning the Big East at first (and I might change my mind again), but you never know what you’re quite going to get out of the Bulls, although quarterback B.J. Daniels should be improved. Syracuse is on the rise under Doug Marrone and Cincinnati should be plenty good in Butch Jones’ second year with Zach Callaros at quarterback.

Pitt is breaking in Todd Graham at coach, but the Panthers always have talent. Charlie Strong still has his work cut out for him at Louisville as they try to desperately recover from the Steve Kragthorpe era, but he’ll get the Cardinals there eventually.

As for Rutgers and defending champion UConn? I have a feeling it’s going to be a long season for both.

John Taylor’s take
If you went by the way each team in the Big East looks on paper entering the 2011 season, you would have to say there’s little doubt that West Virginia is the creme de la creme of the conference. Of course, as we all know, the game of football is not played on paper but rather… ahhh, who the hell am I kidding; the Mountaineers — on paper, on a football field, in a casino inebriated — are the class of the Big East this year, and it’s not even really close.

When you look at WVU’s schedule, the two biggest conference tests don’t come until the final two games of the season — the Backyard Brawl against Pittsburgh at home and on the road against USF — and those twin tilts won’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of, well, anyone really. In fact, WVU’s biggest hurdle could be the game before those two as a road trip to Cincinnati has the look, feel and smell of a look-ahead, trap game.

Short of WVU stubbing their own toe — and that’ll sometimes happen early in the morning when you’ve had one too many — this should be a very successful first season for Holgorsen, which would/should leave Pittsburgh, USF and Cincinnati fighting for second-place scraps. Louisville and Syracuse are probably a year away from making any type of conference noise — keep an eye on the Orange in ’11; I have a feeling they may surprise — while UConn is in line for a precipitous free fall from a BcS appearance at the end of last season.

That said, WVU, and every other member for that matter, should enjoy this year while they can as, next year, the talent level will be ratcheted up a notch or eight with the addition of TCU. From the looks of it, based on last year’s play as well as what it looks like on paper outside of the Mountaineers this year, the Horned Frogs should be able to come right in and prop up their feet, muddy or not, comfortably on the conference couch. And have the other schools serve them drinks. And make them sandwiches.

More predictions: ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt, WAC, Independents

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Ace recruiter Tim Brewster following Jimbo Fisher to A&M

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Tim Brewster is taking his Twitter act — and recruiting talents — to College Station.

The top recruiter announced on his personal Twitter account Tuesday morning that he will be joining Jimbo Fisher‘s coaching staff at Texas A&M.  Fisher left as the head coach at Florida State earlier this month for the same job at A&M.

Brewster spent four years on Fisher’s FSU staff, serving as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach.  From 1998-2001, he served in the same role for Mack Brown at Texas.

Brewster had one prior stint in the SEC, at Mississippi State in 2012 where he was the Bulldogs wide receivers coach.  He was the head coach at Minnesota from 2007-2010, compiling a 15-30 record before being fired midway through his fourth season.

Former Georgia QB Jacob Park transferring from Iowa State too

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Jacob Park‘s winding collegiate football journey has taken yet another twist.

The quarterback confirmed to the Des Moines Register that he has decided to transfer from Iowa State and continue his playing career elsewhere.  The football program has granted Park, who will be leaving as a graduate, a release from his scholarship, although there’s no word on what if any restrictions were attached.

The development comes a little over two months after Park took a sudden leave of absence due to what were described as “unspecified medical concerns.” Park confirmed to the Register that he was facing a one-game suspension after testing positive for marijuana prior to his sabbatical.

From the newspaper’s report:

He said the challenge of balancing school, football, fatherhood and living with the mother of his child became overwhelming. Park also said he failed a drug test because of marijuana usage and was facing a one-game suspension that was supposed to have been served against Oklahoma on Oct. 7.

Park said he talked to Iowa State’s staff about his marijuana usage. The night before the suspension was supposed to be served, Iowa State announced Park had taken an indefinite leave from the team to “work through some personal health issues.”

“It was not something that was very easy to deal with when you have so much high-pressure situations that you’re being put into as I do,” Park said Monday. “And it’s a coping mechanism that I understand now is not acceptable and that I’m still working on this to this day.

Park had started the first four games of the 2017 season for the Cyclones in his second year in Ames.  In his first season at ISU, he became the full-time starter in the latter portion of the 2016 season.  During his time with the Cyclones, he completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,971 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.  He also ran for a pair of touchdowns in that span.

If the move on comes to fruition, Park will be working on his fourth collegiate program in less than four years.

A four-star member of Georgia’s 2014 recruiting class, Park was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of South Carolina; and the No. 229 player overall according to Rivals.com.  Park worked mainly with the scout team during his only season with the Bulldogs.

In mid-June of 2015, it was confirmed that Park would be transferring from Georgia.  After spending the 2015 season at the junior college level, Park transferred to ISU in February of 2016.

Greg Schiano was set to make nearly $28 million over six years as Tennessee’s head coach

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An ugly, very public backlash ended up causing some significant damage to Greg Schiano‘s bank account.

247Sports.com obtained the full Memorandum of Understanding between Schiano and the University of Tennessee, with the MOU revealing that UT was set to sign the Ohio State defensive coordinator to a six-year contract worth a total of $27 million; ESPN.com puts the number closer to $28 million. Schiano would’ve been paid $4.4 million in his first year as the Vols head coach.

However, Schiano was never officially hired as UT’s head coach after a certain segment of the fanbase used social media and other means to very vociferously object to the hiring based on Schiano’s (flimsy) connection to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. That backlash forced the university to reverse course on Schiano, setting the stage for an embarrassing series of snubs — and the athletic director working on a deal with Mike Leach one night only to be fired the next day — over the next couple of weeks before settling on Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as its next head coach.

It was reported back in late November that UT chancellor Beverly Davenport never signed the MOU, casting doubt on Schiano’s ability to seek any type of legal relief over the university backing out of the deal. It was further clarified earlier this month that the MOU, which was signed by Schiano as well as then-athletic director John Currie, needed to be signed by the university’s Chief Financial Officer to be valid; CFO David Miller never put his Herbie Hancock on the document, seemingly making it invalid if Schiano’s side decided to pursue a court case.

Should Schiano seek legal recourse through a lawsuit and ultimately win, though, it could prove to be very costly for UT. From ESPN:

If [Schiano] believes he was in fact hired, and then fired without cause, he would be owed 75 percent of the contract, which would equal $20.7 million.

Pruitt will make $3.8 million in his first year as UT’s head coach. Schiano made $700,000 (pre-bonus) as OSU’s coordinator this season, and is expected to get a bump in pay for 2018 that should get him to at least $800,000.

Three DBs among four who have left Syracuse since end of season

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Especially when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, Syracuse’s roster has seen a significant amount of attrition over the past couple of weeks.

Since the end of the 2017 regular season 17 days ago, a total of four players have left the Orange football program. Three of those who have taken their leave are defensive backs — Juwan Dowels, Daivon Ellison, Cordell Hudson — while the other is defensive tackle Kayton Samuels (pictured).

Dowels and Samuels were the latest to part ways, with both announcing on social media their decisions to transfer over the weekend.

Both of those two, along with Hudson, are leaving the Orange as graduate transfers. That transferring trio would all be eligible to play in 2018 if they move on to another FBS program.

Samuels played in 34 games during his time with the ‘Cuse, while Dowels played in 24. The latter’s 2016 season was cut short because of a knee injury in Week 2.