2012 will be the real test for Stanford and coach David Shaw. The Cardinal don’t just lose Andrew Luck to the NFL, they lose several other prominent members of Jim Harbaugh‘s now-famous 2008 recruiting class. Lineman David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, as well as receiver Chris Owusu are gone too.
Harbaugh built a program at Stanford based on tough, smash-mouth football. And it worked to perfection. The question is can Stanford keep that edge going forward?
Though the Cardinal operate a run-first offense, the focus will, obviously, be on who replaces Luck. That falls on either Brett Nottingham (who possesses the most Stanford name ever) or Josh Nunes, who is making the QB competition a little closer than some probably expected.
“That competition is still even,” said Shaw Saturday. “I don’t know what the numbers say, I don’t care what the numbers say, today that position was not played well enough for us to win a football game.”
Well, for the record, Nunes went 11-of-29 for 167 yards and two touchdowns; Nottingham 12-of-19 for 118 yards and an interception.
The defense received points for turnovers and stops depending on where each occurred on the field. At one point in the game, the defense had outscored the offense 35-15 before holding on to a 37-29 win.
Some other news and notes from around the Pac-12:
- Washington State is adjusting to life under new coach Mike Leach, who is also coaching his first spring practice/game since 2009 at Texas Tech. Unlike some of the other Pac-12 programs holding spring games, Wazzu’s QB situation is solid with Jeff Tuel, who went 22-of-47 for 200 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The Cougars failed to win under old coach Paul Wulff, but the pieces seem to be place for Leach to take WSU to bowl eligibility in his first year.
- Also in his first spring practice with Arizona is Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s read-option gets an immediate boost from quarterback Matt Scott, but it was Scott’s arm that grabbed the headlines — four touchdowns and 315 yards. In fact, the Wildcats threw it more times (55) than they ran it (43). That probably won’t be the case this season. In other news, safety Adam Hall tore his ACL. It’s his second ACL injury in as many years.
- Colorado enters its second year under Jon Embree, and the Buffaloes hope to dramatically improve on what has been a really awful last few years for a program that, not but a decade ago, was competing for conference championships. Texas transfer Connor Wood could be one of the missing pieces to get the Buffs back on track. Wood was 7-of-10 passing for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- If you’re wondering where USC is in this recap, fear not. A separate post is on its way.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher got together for a joint press conference in Miami today as the two coaches prepare to face one another in the Orange Bowl on December 30. Harbaugh said he is looking forward to the matchup but seemed to be much more interested in getting a chance to witness one of the pregame traditions of Florida State; Chief Osceola riding on Renegade and planting a spear in the turf.
“I’ve never been to a game at Florida State,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve always wanted to go there and see what that atmosphere was like in person. This will be as close as I’ve ever been to that. I’m excited for that. I know I’m going to get some chills when that Appaloosa comes riding out there.”
Of course, this isn’t exactly a home game for the Seminoles, so sometimes pregame traditions are put on ice for the bowl season. Knowing this, Harbaugh made his case and made sure everyone listening knows just how cool he thinks it is.
“I want to see that. That’s one of the cool things,” Harbaugh said. “We have cool things and other teams have cool things, but that is right up there as one of the coolest things.”
Fortunately for Harbaugh, he will indeed get a chance to witness this pregame routine in person. Florida State Associate Athletics Director Jason Dennard said on Twitter Chief Osceola and Renegade will make the trip to Miami from Tallahassee.
The Houston Cougars are reportedly hoping to have a new head coach named as soon as this coming weekend. As expected, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and former LSU head coach Les Miles are among the final candidates being considered for the job.
One candidate no longer to be in the mix, according to a report from Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle, is Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. That should be good news for Oklahoma, as it likely means Riley will be back in Norman for at least one more season to run the offense (and with Baker Mayfield coming back for 2017, the Sooners offense should continue to rack up some big numbers).
As noted by Duarte, five total candidates were vetted by Houston for the head coaching job. Kiffin, Miles and interim Houston coach Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite along with Riley all were checked by the university as a decision is approaching.
Baylor introduced new head coach Matt Rhule in a press conference setting today, and it would seem Rhule has already gotten some opportunities to speak to his new players in Waco. One player in particular delivered a promise to the new Bears head coach. Baylor wide receiver KD Cannon reportedly made a bowl game guarantee to Rhule.
Baylor started the season with a 6-0 record but dropped their last six games to enter the bowl season at just 6-6. The Broncos of Boise State finished the season with a 10-2 record and second in the Mountain Division behind Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference. Boise State has won six bowl game sin the last seven seasons between head coaches Chris Petersen (now at Washington) and Bryan Harsin.
Personally, I’m still trying to figure out how many people thought pairing Boise State and Baylor in a bowl game would be a good idea, considering the unfortunate story surrounding former Boise State and Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu. We can focus plenty on the non-controversial stuff leading up to the Cactus Bowl, but that is one story that cannot be totally overlooked either, especially given the current state of the Baylor football program.
Baylor and Boise State have never faced each other in football. The two will play in the Cactus Bowl in Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
There was a certain irony in seeing Penn State win and celebrate a Big Ten championship in Indianapolis on Saturday night. Penn State, five years after the horrifying revelations of the Jerry Sandusky scandal ripped through the program, university, and community, was slammed hard by the NCAA, whose offices are located in Indianapolis with sanction terms that were thought to be crippling for the program at the time in the summer of 2012.
So, with Penn State clinching the Big Ten title in the home city of the NCAA headquarters, what did NCAA President Mark Emmert have to say about it?
“I thought Penn State’s season was spectacular,” Emmert said while taking questions at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York on Wednesday: “What coach [James] Franklin has done there, I think, is very, very impressive.”
Emmert has been criticized by many who have taken issue with the NCAA getting involved with any decisions regarding Penn State’s football program in the aftermath of the Sandusky fallout following the release of the Freeh Report, which the NCAA used in place of its own in-depth investigation.
“It’s great to see it bounce back and do well,” Emmert said of Penn State’s 11-2 season. “While people will occasionally say those sanctions were meant to cripple the university, that’s not true at all. I’ve always said and always believed Penn state is a wonderful university, because it is, and secondly it’s got great sports traditions.”
Emmert may say the sanctions dropped on Penn State were never meant to cripple the university, but that is exactly what a four-year postseason ban and a massive reduction of available scholarships (reduced to 15 per year as opposed to the typical 25) is intended to do. Regardless, Emmert had nothing but praise for Penn State’s 2016 season.
“How can you not be pleased that they’re playing good football again? That’s very good stuff.”