- Jerry Sandusky passed on the Temple coaching job? The Owls dodged one there.
- The halo over Joe Paterno‘s head on a mural has been removed. Here’s a picture.
- Obviously, the Freeh report has dominated Penn State headlines, but the annual Lift For Life did raise over $100,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association.
- Spencer Hall and SB Nation take on the Big 12. If you need to laugh — and judging by many of the comments over the past 48 hours, I would say that’s an affirmative — I would recommend clicking the link.
- Frank Beamer lost 32 pounds? Good for him.
Saturday offseason one-liners
Jim Harbaugh may or may not pull in one of the Big Ten’s top recruiting classes — it’ll more than likely the latter — when it’s all said and done, but what he and his staff are doing now is setting the football program up for the next year’s class.
Exactly one week away from National Signing Day, UM’s 2015 class ranks 75th nationally and dead last in the Big Ten (Purdue is the closest at 60th). That’s quite an improvement from two weeks ago when, two weeks into his tenure, Harbaugh’s Wolverines were 97th in the country. That bump was triggered by a trio of flips, including a four-star quarterback who had been a Texas commit.
UM, along with UCLA, is also in play for the No. 1 tight end in the country, Chris Clark, a target that could push the class ranking closer to midpack. Five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, the No. 3 player in the nation according to Rivals.com, took an official visit to Ann Arbor earlier this month and came away giving UM serious consideration, although USC is still widely considered the favorite (maybe). A handful of three- and four-star recruits are still in play as well.
The program hopes to add 15 players from this year’s class, and are currently sitting at nine commitments with signing day seven days away.
Given the tight time frame in which Harbaugh’s been forced to operate, and despite attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind, the 2015 recruiting cycle is essentially serving as a gateway to next year’s class.
“You may not see a huge bump in 2015, in part because of the timing of Jim Harbaugh’s hire,” Brandon Huffman, the national director of recruiting for Scout.com, told the Toledo Blade recently. “But you’ll see that momentum carry into the spring when coaches go on the road to begin evaluating the 2016 class.”
Harbaugh & Company could still make a late push this year, but circle 2016 as the year they begin to challenger Urban Meyer and Ohio State, currently seventh nationally, for Big Ten recruiting supremacy.
Right or wrong, Miami’s Al Golden will likely head into the 2015 season on arguably the hottest coaching seat in America.
After improving to 7-5 in 2012 and 9-4 in 2013 after a first season of 6-6, Golden’s Hurricanes dipped back to 6-6 in the 2014 regular season before dropping its bowl game and tumbling to 6-7. UM lost its last four games this past season, the second straight year they’ve stumbled to the finish; in 2013, they lost four of their last six after starting out 7-0.
The fan base, former players — including very outspoken former players — and even boosters are restless for The U to return to its glory days, with most not shy of making their displeasure known for a man who helped guide the program through the choppy waters of NCAA sanctions. Most, not all, though, as Golden has his supporters, most notably former Miami great Michael Irvin.
“I thought it was the right move, and guys, I’ve said this over and over again and I’ll say it here again: Al Golden — Coach Al Golden — has earned this opportunity, has earned the right to see this through. With what he’s done, to jump there and fight, that was not his fight, and he stayed through the fight. He recruited well and he kept us in the fight.
“We started a freshman quarterback. Where’s the smarts? Tell me this: Where’s the smarts in saying, ‘Hey freshman, we know we started you. We know you learned a lot. But right now we’re going to snatch all of that from under you and make you start all over again next year.’
“It would be absolutely stupid, absolutely ignorant to do it to him, so it would be absolutely the right thing to let this man get one more year to finish and make it right. Building a championship takes time and there’s a process to it. And we’re in the midst, I think, of a very good process.
“And I surely hope that people, in Miami, can calm their asses down and let the process see itself through.”
Irvin’s support notwithstanding, most observers agree that Golden faces a make-or-break 2015 campaign. Another late-season collapse, or another season that hovers around .500 — or both — portends doom for Golden’s tenure at the school.
Three Kentucky football players who found themselves on the wrong side of the law last year may have done the same to start out the new year.
The father of Eastern Kentucky lineman Colton Scurry told the Louisville Courier-Journal Tuesday that his son sustained multiple facial fractures during an incident at an off-campus bar this past weekend. Three Kentucky football players were alleged to have been involved in what turned into a brawl: wide receiver Dorian Baker (pictured), quarterback Drew Barker and defensive end Tymere Dubose.
Witnesses claimed that it was Scurry who was the aggressor.
“I was actually pretty sober and I was watching everything that was going down,” Zach Littleton, an EKU student, told the Courier-Journal. “Basically what happened was a bunch of UK football players come in and all you hear is, ‘This is my neighborhood. What are you doing here?’
“I know if there’s any video, you’ll see I’m trying to defuse the situation. I was getting between them and saying, ‘Calm down. Calm down.’ (But) As soon as (Scurry) pushed Will, it was just a big mess. From what I saw, it wasn’t just Colton. I saw a bunch of people swinging for no reason.”
The Will mentioned by Littleton is Will Ruholt, a high school friend of Barker who also laid the blame for the melee at the feet of Scurry.
“We were in the back part of Jerzees,” said Ruholt. “A couple people started talking (abusively) and things started to get a little heated. Colton Scurry is the one who started the entire fight. He pushed me. Multiple people can verify that.”
Curry may need to undergo reconstructive surgery, his father allowed.
An EKU spokesperson stated that the university is currently investigating the incident, as well as an on-campus incident “that may have occurred late Saturday night or early Sunday morning” and is possibly connected to the bar fight. UK head coach Mark Stoops is aware of the situation and is gathering information while on the road recruiting.
In late September, Baker, Barker and Dubose, along with running back Stanley “Boom” Williams, were suspended following an airsoft pellet gun incident that ended with Lexington police shutting down campus.
Baker finished the 2014 season fifth in receiving yards (199) and sixth in receptions (19). Neither Barker nor Dubose recorded any stats.
South Carolina’s depleted receiving corps has taken yet another hit.
On Twitter Tuesday, K.J. Brent announced that he will be transferring out of the Gamecocks football program to an undetermined location for his final season of college football. As he will be a graduate transfer, Brent will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 if he transfers to an FBS school and enrolls in a grad program not offered at USC.
Below is the missive Brent posted on the social media website yesterday evening.
In 2014, Brent played in all 13 games, catching nine passes for 11 yards and a touchdown. Behind Pharoh Cooper (42-1,136-9), Brent would’ve been the Gamecocks’ second-leading returning wide receiver; with Brent gone, that honor now falls to Shamier Jeffery and his two receptions for nine yards.
The voice in general and opinions specifically of outspoken ESPN college football analyst Mark May have been the bane of the existence of many an Ohio State fan for many a year.
His anti-OSU agenda has not gone unnoticed, from Facebook pages — “Mark May is a D***e” anyone? Or THIS. Or THIS — to the national media — “his burning, seething hatred of Ohio State reads like a message board commenter” — to, now, the head coach of the team he ofttimes directs his puzzling venom. In the run-up to the selection of the College Football Playoff final four, the former Pittsburgh Panther standout ratcheted up the rhetoric and histrionics.
“They weren’t worthy enough to get [into the CFP],” May said prior to the 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game that propelled OSU into the four-team playoff and, ultimately, the national championship, adding, “you cannot put them in the Top Four, they’re not worthy.”
“That’s no disrespect to that football team,” May concluded, with no sense of irony or self-awareness whatsoever.
Ladies and gentlemen, Urban Meyer sending a shout-out to the Sean Salisbury of the college game, the day prior to OSU’s celebration of its “unworthy” title:
Exactly why May is so staunchly anti-Buckeye is unclear, even as he’s made it perfectly clear on-air, every chance he gets, that the university as a whole did the proverbial kicking of his dog. AwfulAnnouncing.com, though, summed up the May-OSU dynamic perfectly:
It’s insane that we’ve gotten to the point where a coach takes time out of celebrating a national championship to stick it to an ESPN analyst. From a media observer standpoint, it’s actually kinda depressing that ESPN allowed things to get this point and didn’t put a stop to May’s act much sooner. But for Ohio State fans, it does make celebrating the championship that much sweeter.
(Photo credit: The Big Lead)
It’s not often you see a player in good health cut his college football career short, but that’s what Oregon defensive lineman Sam Kamp has chosen to do. In a message posted to his Instagram page on Tuesday evening, Kamp announced his decision to retire from football. A redshirt junior in 2014, the Mesa, Ariz., native is set to graduate this spring.
“I’m incredibly blessed to have made so many amazing memories playing for this team. I’m so grateful to God, to my loving family and close friends, to my coaches, trainers and support staff who together are better than any other program in the nation, and especially to my teammates who I’ve spent a seriously ridiculous amount of hours grinding with! This season has been a once in a lifetime experience and even though we didn’t finish with a win, it was an unforgettable finish to my athletic career,” he wrote.”I’ll graduate this spring as a proud University of Oregon double major and I can’t wait to find out what opportunities I can take advantage of in the future!”
He confirmed his decision to The Oregonian.
Kamp played in all 15 games and posted 20 tackles, one sack, three pass breakups and three passes defended this fall.
A new head coach has a lot on his plate, particularly when that coach spent a previous lifetime building inroads into the deep community of Texas high school football coaches.
So when Chad Morris was formally introduced as SMU’s head coach way back on Dec. 1, Morris’ phone and email accounts were hit with a deluge unseen since the book of Exodus.
By the time Morris stepped away from the podium, he’d received a whopping 690 text messages and 898 emails congratulating him on taking the job.
And when Associated Press writer Ralph Russo swung his Dallas office the day before the College Football Playoff championship for an interview nearly six full weeks later (which posted today), Morris still had 256 text messages to go. “I’m going to answer them,” Morris said.
At his current rate of 72 returned texts per week, it would take until Feb. 4 – which happens to be National Signing Day – to return every text that greeted him upon taking the job.
It’s been a good day for young coaches looking for their big break.
After Duke named graduate assistant Matt Guerrieri as one of its full-time assistants earlier Tuesday, Washington State named former support staffer Eric Mele as its full-time special teams coordinator.
Mele was moved from an offensive quality control position to interim special teams coordinator after head coach Mike Leach fired then-special teams coordinator Eric Russell on Oct. 6 in the aftermath of a 60-59 Washington State loss in which the Cougars allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
“Eric did a nice job coming in midway through last season,” Leach said in a statement. “He is organized, hard-working, energetic and has a great rapport with the players.”
Washington State also announced the hiring of Brian Odom as a defensive quality control assistant. He previously served as the co-director of sports performance at Houston.
“Brian brings a great work ethic and an experienced football mind to our staff,” said Leach. ”He has been a part of football staffs that have seen a great deal of success and he will be an asset for our program.”
Lane Stadium and Thursday Night Football are as American as the extra large Happy Meal. Virginia Tech has made 29 total appearances on ESPN’s Thursday Night package, including 11 wins in 16 games in Blacksburg. The Hokies hosted a Thursday night affair from 2002-12, but didn’t host a midweek game in 2013 and it appears they won’t again in 2015.
Citing sources close to the situation, Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote Tuesday that it appears Virginia Tech isn’t in line to host a Thursday night game on the ACC’s to-be-released 2015 slate, which could be announced as soon as Wednesday.
Instead, the Hokies will visit Georgia Tech on a Thursday night. It would be the Hokies and Yellow Jackets’ fourth Thursday night meeting in the past six seasons and sixth since 2004. Virginia Tech topped Georgia Tech 17-10 on a Thursday night in September the last time the pair met in Atlanta in 2013.
Barber wrote the previous Hokies athletics director Jim Weaver was weary of hosting Thursday night games because of the burden it placed on Virginia Tech’s older fans getting to and from Blacksburg on a weeknight, but “new athletic director Whit Babcock has requested to the ACC and ESPN to host Thursday night games every season.”
Virginia Tech hosts N.C. State, Duke, North Carolina and Pittsburgh in home ACC games in 2015. The Hokies will get to scratch their weeknight itch on Labor Day evening as defending national champion Ohio State visits Blacksburg on Sept. 7.
The trial of former Vanderbilt players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey concluded Tuesday with both players being found guilty of all charges. The pair was on trial together but were represented by different lawyers.
Deputy district attorney Tom Thurman told the jury the accused thought their status as Vanderbilt football players allowed them to escape justice. “That’s the culture that you really saw here. Their mindset that they can get away with anything,” Thurman said.
The jury deliberated for close to three hours and found both men guilty of all seven counts of aggravated rape or sexual battery. Vandenburg, who was accused of initiating the events of that fateful day, also faced two more counts of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography.
Sentencing is set for March 6.
Sentencing will be March 6. Agg rape charges carry serious prison time and mandatory minimums. #vandytrial
“I was just drunk out of my mind,” Batey said Monday. “This is something I would never do in my right state of mind. I’m just sorry.”
Vanderburg’s attorney Fletcher Long argued his client took pictures of the acts but did not participate himself. “He took photographs that he never should have taken,” said Long.
The dream of every graduate assistant in college football is to earn a full-time spot on the coaching staff he spends 100 hours a week working for. Few will realize this dream. But Matt Guerrieri realized that dream on Tuesday.
Head coach David Cutcliffe announced the promotion of Guerrieri from graduate assistant to full-time assistant in a to-be-determined role.
“We’re very excited to promote Matt Guerrieri into one of our nine assistant coaching positions,” Cutcliffe said in a statement. “Matt is an exceptional young coach with an extremely bright future ahead of him. He hasn’t been your typical graduate assistant coach for us in that he’s coached our safeties for the past two seasons and done a terrific job. This promotion is especially gratifying because of the way Matt has handled his business over the past three years in our program. He is very deserving of this opportunity and I know he’ll take full advantage of it.”
Duke notes that Guerrieri aided Jeremy Cash to two second-team All-America nods and DeVon Edwards to an All-ACC nod this fall. Edwards ranked second on the club with 133 tackles and also posted 7.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, one interception and five forced fumbles. Cash recorded 235 tackles, 20 TFLs, 5.5 sacks and six interceptions over the past two seasons.
Duke ranked 23rd in pass efficiency defense this fall and 42nd in yards per play allowed.
The addition of Guerrieri will require some shuffling for the Blue Devils’ defensive staff. Duke is without a defensive line coach after Rick Petri took the same job at Louisiana Tech last week.
(Photo credit: @Duke_FB)
Penn State and Pittsburgh will finally resume their series on the football field in 2016 with the start of a four-game series between the instate rivals. The build-up to that renewal of the series should continue to build in recruiting battles between the coaches at both schools, but James Franklin has asked one of his assistants to cool off a little bit on Twitter.
During a live interview with ESPN on “College Football Live” Tuesday afternoon Franklin said he asked offensive line coach Herb Hand to step back from some indirect Twitter exchanges with his counterpart at Pittsburgh, John Peterson. The two offensive line coaches had exchanged in some amusing exchanges over the last week as both coaches are looking to make an impact and plant a flag in the state of Pennsylvania.
If you missed that fun, it started when Peterson shared this image on Twitter…
— john peterson (@coachjpete) January 22, 2015
… and Hand responded on his own account…
It escalated a little from there with a few more tweets from each offensive line coach. Fans of both schools enjoyed the exchanges, and why not? It was done in good fun, or so it seemed. Either way, perhaps it is best to bring things under some control before things turn ugly.
Oklahoma safety Hatari Byrd will have some explaining to do to Sooners head coach Bob Stoops after being given two citations for drug and alcohol misdemeanor offenses.
As reported by The Tulsa World, police observed Byrd speeding and swerving over lanes early in the morning of January 24. After pulling Byrd over, police discovered a small plastic bag of marijuana and a bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey in the front of the car. Byrd was cited for drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of alcohol.
These offenses appear to be minor in nature, and it is unknown if Byrd will face any further disciplinary action from Stoops and the Oklahoma program.
Byrd, a junior, recorded 17 tackles for the Sooners in 2014.
Ohio State has been sitting on top of the Big Ten recruiting rankings for a number of years now. According to the team rankings from Rivals, Ohio State has had the top class in the Big Ten each of the past four seasons and all but one year since the Class of 2008. Rivals ranked Penn State’s Class of 2010 ahead of the rest of the Big Ten, with Ohio State coming in third (Michigan was No. 2).The Buckeyes look to be locking up another top class in the Big Ten, which should come as no surprise to those who follow recruiting. Urban Meyer and his staff have been recruiting juggernauts and now they have a push that comes from a national championship.
How much push does a national champion get in recruiting? Since 2003, six national championship teams have seen their team recruiting ranking dip in the ensuing recruiting rankings. Unfortunately, it is unfair to compare one recruiting season to the next as needs change, which leads to a shift in recruiting emphasis on a year-to-year basis. That said, there is no question a team winning a national championship has an extra card to play on the recruiting trail. And, sometimes, teams winning a national title have a recruiting ranking that is so high it is extremely difficult to maintain it or improve upon it the following year.
Unless you are Nick Saban.
Here is a look at the champions of the BCS era and how their recruiting class compared from the recruiting class before winning the championship and immediately after. This list starts with the Class of 2003, the first season we can compare recruiting rankings from the previous season using Rivals.
2003 BCS Champion: LSU Tigers
Rivals Class of 2003 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2004 Rank: 2 (-1)
Nick Saban flexed his recruiting muscles at LSU. Equipped with a coaching staff that included offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the Tigers brought in the nation’s top class in 2003. That season LSU went on to win the BCS national championship. The Tigers followed that up with a stellar recruiting class, but one that was beat out by USC, who had been recognized as the Associated Press national championship that same season.
2004 BCS Champion: USC Trojans
Rivals Class of 2004 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2005 Rank: 1 (-)
USC has always been a traditional recruiting power, but winning the national title (which would later be vacated of course), helped keep Pete Carroll and his Trojans to the top.
2005 BCS Champion: Texas
Rivals Class of 2005 Rank: 20
Rivals Class of 2006 Rank: 5 (+15)
No team saw as big a boost in the recruiting rankings following a championship as Texas did following a BCS Championship Game victory over USC in what many call the best college football game in history, if not just the modern era or BCS era. Mack Brown may have lost steam in recruiting in the years to come, but for one season the Longhorns were ahead of the Sooners.
2006 BCS Champion: Florida
Rivals Class of 2006 Rank: 2
Rivals Class of 2007 Rank: 1 (+1)
Urban Meyer‘s arrival in Gainesville had a mighty impact. Meyer reignited the recruiting efforts at Florida, and winning a national title sent Florida to the top of the SEC and, perhaps more importantly, kept the Gators ahead of Florida State. Florida did not have much room to go, but the Gators overtook USC for the top spot in the recruiting rankings after winning the first of the SEC’s seven straight BCS trophies.
2007 BCS Champion: LSU
Rivals Class of 2007 Rank: 4
Rivals Class of 2008 Rank: 11 (-7)
What we are about to see is that winning a national championship does not always result in a recruiting boost in terms of team rankings. LSU’s second national championship was followed by a seven spot drop in the recruiting rankings, but Les Miles and his program still signed a quality class.
2008 BCS Champion: Florida
Rivals Class of 2008 Rank: 3
Rivals Class of 2009 Rank: 11 (-8)
After winning a second BCS title in three season you might have thought Meyer and Florida would be set up for years of sustained success in recruiting. As we know, the opposite proved to be the case for the Gators and the program continues to try and rebuild to this level. Meyer’s second BCS title was followed up by the biggest drop in the team recruiting rankings. Not only did Florida drop behind SEC foes like Alabama, LSU and Georgia, but Florida State moved back ahead of the Gators as well.
2009 BCS Champion: Alabama
Rivals Class of 2009 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2010 Rank: 5 (-4)
With Saban back in the recruiting game, the Tide were not likely to stay down for long. Alabama started to rise in the recruiting rankings as soon as Saban took over and actually suffered a drop in the team rankings after winning the national title in the 2009 season. Of course, Alabama had nowhere to go but down after signing the top-ranked class the previous season.
2010 BCS Champion: Auburn
Rivals Class of 2010 Rank: 4
Rivals Class of 2011 Rank: 7 (-3)
Auburn actually spiked in the recruiting rankings the previous recruiting cycle. though the Tigers dropped in the recruiting rankings and failed to receive a boost, Auburn was still bringing in a top 10 class.
2011 BCS Champion: Alabama
Rivals Class of 2011 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2012 Rank: 1 (-)
Alabama’s current streak of dominance in the recruiting rankings began with the Class of 2011. After winning a second national championship in three years, Alabama was once again back on top of the recruiting world and Saban’s Tide have yet to be knocked from its perch to this day.
2012 BCS Champion: Alabama
Rivals Class of 2012 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2013 Rank: 1 (-)
Three titles in four years is hard to beat, and Alabama has become extremely hard to beat in the rankings. For the second time, Alabama repeated atop the recruiting rankings under Saban with a national championship to show off.
2013 BCS Champion: Florida State
Rivals Class of 2013 Rank: 10
Rivals Class of 2014 Rank: 4 (+6)
Florida State had never faded too far out of the elite national recruiting spotlight, but winning a national championship (against an SEC program no less) certainly helped boost Florida State back toward the top.
2014 College Football Playoff National Champion: Ohio State
Rivals Class of 2014 Rank: 3
Rivals Class of 2015 Rank: 7 (-4)
Ohio State is on pace to be the third team to not receive a boost in the recruiting rankings following a national title, although it should also be noted that recruiting is different from year to year. For example, Ohio State does not need to go after a star quarterback with the stock available already, and big time skill players tend to influence the rankings as well. Ohio State is still firm atop the Big Ten rankings, so schools like Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State still have some work to do.
While many college football fans may not have a clue who will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2015 (Ohio State, LSU to name two), a handful of fans have a pretty good grip on which player will be taking snaps under center in the fall (USC, Penn State). No matter what the state of your team’s quarterback position is today, odds are probably pretty good your team’s starting quarterback came from California, Texas or Florida.
Athlon Sports did some digging through the recruiting archives to compile some stats on where starting quarterbacks were being found. Without much of a shock, California, Texas and Florida tend to be the most fertile quarterback recruiting grounds for power conference schools. Between the 65 power conference schools, 26 projected starting quarterbacks come from one of those three states. One interesting nugget from that research showed just one of the FBS programs in the state of Florida will likely have a starting quarterback from the state of Florida.
There are some other good pieces of information in the research by Athlon Sports. For example, the Big 12 seems to find most starting quarterbacks within its own footprint (hello there Texas), while the SEC, ACC and Big Ten all spread out to find quarterbacks from 11 different states.
Dig a little deeper into the research over on Athlon Sports.