CFT predicts: MAC 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 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 Mid-American Conference:

Ben Kercheval’s MAC champion: Toledo
John Taylor’s MAC champion: Toledo

Ben’s take
The MAC has been absolutely atrocious in bowl games recently, which is what many use as a measuring stick for a conference’s strength. To climb their way out of the Division 1 FBS cellar, the MAC’s higher-ranked teams are going to have to — and I’m paraphrasing a certain YouTube video here — “put the conference on their back!”.

Miami of Ohio is the pick of the MAC media poll to win the East in its first year under former Michigan State assistant Don Treadwell, but I’m going with Ohio University, which has been seemingly in the mix of things year in and year out since Frank Solich took over as coach. Al Golden is gone from Temple, but he left that program far better than he found it, which should make life for Steve Addazio a little easier in his first year. Beyond the top three, the MAC East is anybody’s guess.

With Jerry Kill moving on from Northern Illinois to Minnesota, and Central Michigan still in a rebuilding process, the time is now for Toledo to make it back to Detroit for the MAC championship game and represent the West Division. Tim Beckman has really done a nice job with the Rockets, and while the West is the more top-heavy division, Toledo returns a ton of starters on both sides of the ball.

John’s take
With the exception of Conference USA, there might not be a conference in college football with more parity in its top half than the MAC. You could make a case for any of three teams in the East division and would get nary an argument from me. The same holds true for the West.

In the former division, it appears likely that half of the conference championship game will come from defending champ Miami of Ohio, Ohio or Temple. While the RedHawks changed coaches after the biggest one-year turnaround in college football history — 1-11 in 2009, 9-4 last year — they’re in Treadwell’s capable hands. The Owls will also have a first-year head coach in Addazio, but he too fell into a very good situation thanks to the building efforts of Al Golden, who’s now at Miami (Fla.). The Bobcats will return seven starters on offense, but just two on defense, which could be the biggest hurdle to a conference crown.

On the West side of the ledger, Toledo, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan all have the talent to challenge for the top spot in the division, but with all due respect to the latter two schools, Beckman is building something pretty special with the Rockets and, when all the conference dust settles, the Toledo school will be facing another in-state school, Miami, in the conference title game. Maybe. Possibly.

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

CFT’s preseason Top 25

Texas QB Shane Buechele undergoes hip surgery, expected back for spring practice

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A postseason injury has forced Shane Buechele to undergo an offseason medical procedure.

Buechele suffered a torn abductor muscle in his hip/abdomen in the first half of Texas’ Texas Bowl win over Missouri and didn’t return in the second half.  Nearly a month later, the football program has announced that the quarterback will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the damage.

If rehab goes as planned, Buechele is expected to be on the field when the Longhorns kick off spring practice March 5.

As a true freshman in 2016, Buechele started all 12 games for the Longhorns.  This past season was one marred by various injuries.

Buechele started the season opener for Texas, but ceded the job to Sam Ehlinger the next two games because of a bruised throwing shoulder.  Returning to the starting lineup in Week 5, Buechele suffered an ankle injury in the win over Iowa State that allowed Ehlinger to start the next three games.  In the last of those three games, Ehlinger suffered a head injury that left him in concussion protocol and opened the door for Buechele to start five of the last six games of the season.

Buechele and Ehlinger will be the two veterans battling for the starting job once spring practice kicks off in March.

NCAA tables discussions on limiting staff size

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It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.

The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.

“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”

This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.

Miami’s home winning streak is officially over after Orange Bowl loss

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The Miami Hurricanes opened the new year with a loss in the Orange Bowl in their home stadium, but the Hurricanes marked the bowl game down in their records as a neutral site game. Not so fast, says the NCAA. That loss to the Badgers will go down as a home loss for the Hurricanes.

Because the NCAA officially records the Orange Bowl as a home game for Miami any time the Hurricanes happen to play in the bowl game hosted in their home stadium, the wins and losses are reflected on Miami’s home record. This is true for any team playing a bowl game in their home stadium, including any time UCLA appears in the Rose Bowl or San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl or Poinsettia Bowl.

Prior to losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl this past season, Miami was riding nine-game winning streak in Hard Rock Stadium dating back to November 5, 2016. Miami will get a chance to hit the reset button on their home winning streak on September 8 with a home game against Savannah State.

Report: LSU to add former RB Kevin Faulk to staff if SEC gives the green light

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Former LSU running back Kevin Faulk could be set to return to the Tigers program in a new role if the SEC will allow it. According to a report from The Advocate, Faulk is being lined up to join the LSU football support staff, but his addition must be thoroughly vetted first.

Because Faulk is a high school coach, LSU and the SEC must be certain he has no direct ties to any LSU football players on the roster. This is to ensure the staff change complies with a new NCAA rule prohibiting schools from hiring high school coaches for a two-year period when any player from that associated high school enrolls at the university. As long as there are no players on LSU’s roster with any ties to Faulk’s high school coaching within the past two years, the staff change should become official.

Having Faulk associated with the program would be good to see considering how much Faulk meant to LSU during his college career. Faulk rushed for a school-record 4,557 yards and 46 rushing touchdowns. Both are records that stand today despite some extremely talented running backs over the years. Since Faulk’s final season at LSU in 1998, Leonard Fournette has come the closest to Faulk’s career rushing total with 3,830 yards in three years. Fournette is also the closest to Faulk since Faulk played to the school record for career rushing touchdowns, with 40.

Supposing the staff addition does go through, Faulk will not be involved with any off-campus recruiting efforts or on-field coaching assignments, but he will assist with player development.