- 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
Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury will finally have his quarterback in 2015. Stephenville, Texas quarterback Jarrett Stitham has committed to playing for Texas Tech in 2015.
Stidham is the nation’s top ranked dual-threat quarterback, a four-star dual threat according to Rivals.com. He held offers from all of the big name programs around the country, including Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Clemson, Miami, Michigan. Two other big name programs worth noting are Texas and Texas A&M. The Aggies may be set on their quarterback situation in due time, and the Longhorns may have a developing situation as well, but this is a major recruiting victory for Kingsbury and the Red Raiders. It was Tecxas Tech’s early recruiting efforts that helped keep an edge on the competition.
“First of all, Tech was the first school to ever recruit me when Tommy Mainord and Neal Brown were back there,” Stidham said to Red Raider Sports. “So that kind of holds a special place in my heart just because they were the first ones to put themselves out there for me.”
Texas Tech has been battling all sorts of quarterback instability since Kingsbury was named head coach. If he can keep his head above water in 2014, then he will be rewarded in 2015 with one of the prize recruits in the Class of 2015. Not only that, but Stidham represents one of the highest rated recruits to commit to Texas Tech in years.
According to Red Raider Sports, Stidham hopes to be able to graduate high school in December, which would allow him to enroll at Texas Tech next spring. If he can do that, he will be able to get a jump on practicing with his new teammates and make a push for the starting job in 2015.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has been rather fortunate when it comes to his starting quarterback situation over the years. Since first becoming a head coach at Houston in 2008 through the 2013 season, Sumlin has had to go in to a spring practice wondering who his starting quarterback will be for the fall just twice. That is a luxury most coaches rarely get to enjoy, and it is one not found in College Station, Texas as the Aggies wrap up their first full week of spring practices.
So, just who will get the chance to fill in the spot left vacant by Johnny Manziel, who has left to perhaps be one of the top picsk in the 2014 NFL Draft?
“Life after Johnny Manziel seems to be the growing theme around here,” Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said earlier this week, according to AggieSports.com. “But, I’ve been fortunate enough to have good quarterbacks everywhere I’ve been. And I’m looking for the next guy to come in to be their own man and step up and make a name for themselves.”
Aren’t we all? The Aggies will not have another player quite like Manziel, this much should go without saying, but they do have options to work with this spring and again in the summer training sessions leading up to the first kickoff of the season. Three players will be competing for the opportunity, but only one has any real experience to rely on. Senior quarterback Matt Joeckel is a more traditional pro-style quarterback, so he would certainly be a 180-degree flip in offensive style for the Aggies. Freshman Kyle Allen could be another option if the Aggies choose to go with a pro-style approach to the offense. Allen was a part of the most recent recruiting class but is already enrolled at Texas A&M. Joeckel has the experience, but Allen has the long-term potential. Sumlin has shown he has not been too timid when it comes to starting a young quarterback. Take his last two starting quarterbacks for example, Case Keenum at Houston and Manziel at Texas A&M.
One thing we learned while watching Manziel at Texas A&M is that it can serve well to have a player who can move around and make plays happen out of nowhere, or adjust on the fly. Maybe Joeckel or Allen could be capable of that, but the quarterback who has the dual-threat tendencies already is sophomore Kenny Hill. Hill was the fourth-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation in 2013. If Sumlin wants to have a player who can open things up a bit, Hill may prove to be the best option available.
Whoever gets the eventual nod, a decision that may not come until much closer to the start of the new season, neither should worry about replacing Manziel. They each must embrace what they can do and try to stay within their abilities.
“I know the next guy to play is not going to be the next Johnny Manziel, but who knows, he’ll probably bring a different aspect to the game and he’ll probably be pretty good at what he does,” Spavital said. “There is no panic with me, the best thing is you gotta put him in the best position to succeed.”
Spring practices will get underway in Storrs, Connecticut on Monday. The start of a new season technically begins at this time. Sadly, this year’s spring practices will mark the official end of one player’s career. A neck injury suffered last season will force three-year starting safety Ty-Meer Brown.
Brown appeared in seven games last season before suffering a neck injury following a head-to-head collision in a practice last fall. He had established himself as one fo the top tacklers on the team with 51 total tackles (31 solo) in his seven games, which was two more than the 49 he recorded in 12 game sin 2012. He ended the year as UConn’s sixth-leading tackler for the 2013 season.
According to John Silver of SNY, Brown remains on scholarship and will be a part of the football program. He will not count against UConn’s 85-scholarship limit either.
How many times has a coach asked his quarterback as he returns to the sideline “What are you seeing out there?” or “Did you see this guy wide open?” Now he may be able to answer those questions himself.
We all love those GoPro cameras that skateboarders and snowboarders have been using more and more, right? They capture a unique vantage point for action shots like no other camera could do before, and they have been starting to mix in to the world of football in recent years as well. As the technology advances, so will the usefulness as well. Take these latest Clemson football helmets for example.
Clemson quarterbacks will be experimenting with football helmets with a built-in camera right at the center of the front of the helmet. You can imagine the usefulness this will have in film breakdowns. Coaches will actually be able to see exactly what the quarterback is seeing straight ahead. Wherever the quarterback’s head moves, the camera will see it. This is taking film work to the next level, and it will not take long for this to start spreading to other programs, especially if Clemson builds any sort of advantage in quarterback play.
According to Clemson’s equipment staff Instagram account, the helmets were developed by Schutt, a longtime football helmet manufacturer. It is part of the company’s Schutt Vision, which will be used in the Arena Football League during the 2014 season. The press release by the AFL also features an image of what could be a Michigan helmet with the built-in camera as well. According to Schutt Vision’s Twitter account, LSU will be receiving their helmets on Monday.
It is not known at this time if these cameras will be used in games this fall, or perhaps if they would even be legal (you never know), but they can certainly make use of them in practices.
Photo credit: Clemson Athletics (via Instagram)
Mississippi State has a fever and the only prescription is more Dan Mullen. Mullen has been given a contract extension that will keep the head coach in place through the 2017-2018 season. Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com was first to report the contract extension.
The school has not commented on the contract extension, likely because it needs to be finalized and approved by the university. Just as there has been no official word from Nebraska on the contract extension for Bo Pelini, this is a standard practice.
Mullen’s contract extension may come as a bit of a surprise to many. Mullen has been attached to the hot seat discussion for a couple of years now it seems, and after going 7-6 last season some seemed to feel the pressure was on for Mullen to make a big statement this season to possibly save his job. In the division Mullen is coaching in, that is clearly easier said than done. Mississippi State is lumped in the same division as the defending SEC champions (Auburn), a team that has won three of the last four BCS national championships (Alabama), a frequent SEC contender in LSU, an emerging force in Texas A&M and an Arkansas program that is down now but probably not for very long. Ole Miss has been blazing on the recruiting trail and developing some young talent as well that make them a tough out for anyone as well. In other words, Mullen is up against a stacked division, and we have not even touched on the other half of the conference.
A closer look at Mullen’s job since taking over the program in 2009 though sheds a much more positive light than he is generally given credit for. Mississippi State recorded a losing season in eight of the ten seasons prior to his being named head coach. Since 2009, Mullen’s first year on the job, the Bulldogs have finished with a winning season every year but his debut season. Mullen has also coached Mississippi State to three bowl victories (in four straight bowl trips).
Mullen may not be the hot coaching name he was just a few years ago, but his overall impact on the state of the Mississippi State program is certainly not to be disputed too harshly.
Somebody needs to inform Bo Pelini, still new to this whole Twitter game, that nothing is official until it is shared on Twitter. The Nebraska head coach reportedly signed a five-year contract extension earlier this week, when nobody had heard much of a peep about it.
According to Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com, Pelini signed the extension that will keep Pelini in charge in Lincoln through the 2018 season, so we can officially remove Pelini from any coaching hot seats heading in to the 2014 season. Nebraska has yet to officially comment on the contract status, likely because the extension still has to be approved by the university in an official capacity. This is not uncommon, and it should not be much longer before an official statement can be made about the news.
Nebraska is coming off their first season without a top 25 finish under Pelini since his firsts season in Lincoln in 2008. No Nebraska team under Pelini has finished with fewer than nine wins. Since being hired as head coach at Nebraska, the Huskers are 59-24 and have played in two Big 12 championship games and one Big Ten championship game.
As previously reported, Florida State offensive lineman Ira Denson was not seen working out with the team during an offseason workout open to the media on Thursday. Head coach Jimbo Fisher told The Orlando Sentinel “We’re going to evaluate how he does,” and suggested they wanted him to focus on his academics while he works his way back from an injury riddled 2013 season. Perhaps there was more to the story.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported Friday Denson allegedly used a debit card belonging to Florida State running back Mario Pender on December 20. Two days later the two were tied to an incident involving a shooting. According to the report, citing the police report from December 22, Pender took a pair of Denson’s sneakers as collateral until he could get his money back from Denson. Denson agreed to meet Pender somewhere to exchange money and the shoes. Denson was accompanied by Tarron Addison, who is now in a county jail facing an attempted murder charge. As reported, Pender sent his half-brother outside an apartment to return the shoes. Once the shoes were placed in the trunk of the car Denson was sitting in, the car started to drive away and Pender claims Addison pointed a gun out from the driver’s side window and fired a few times in the direction of Pender and his half-brother, who had been shot through the left ear.
Needless to say, this is not a good situation.
Some other questions may soon be worth exploring here as well. Both Denson and Pender remain on the Florida State roster (neither traveled with the team for the BCS Championship Game). Did Fisher know about this incident in question? If so, did he address Denson’s absence properly on Thursday? Denson has not been charged with any crime, so his status on the team would not fall under any questioning as far as that is concerned. Denson has denied to police using Pender’s debit card. If there is a rift between teammates that has allegedly involved bullets flying, has peace been made?
College football could be moving to a change in the recruiting game by offering an early signing period. Sensing momentum and a possible need to change the standard procedures, the Conference Commissioners Association will review the possible plans to add an early signing period in football based off the model used for basketball at a meeting later this year.
“I think everyone wants an early signing period,” NCAA associate director of operations Susan Peal said this week, according to ESPN.com. “It’s just trying to nail down what’s the appropriate date for that.”
Peal said the topic has been discussed before by the commissioners, but the time to revisit the idea has become more necessary now due to the NCAA altering recruiting regulations in recent years. The momentum for discussing an early signing period may be there, but not every coach will be in favor of it. Adding the early signing period means adjusting the recruiting calendar, and possibly distracting from other items of business during the football season.
There is no doubt the early signing period would have some benefits for the game. Players would be able to commit to a program and avoid the headaches of months of recruiting pressure and sales pitches while at the same time showing their commitment to a program. In return, those players would feel security knowing those programs are truly committed to them. Coaches could then spend more time working on recruiting other players waiting until National Signing Day to sign, rather than waste time on a player that has been on board since the summer or previous spring. It would seem to be a win-win scenario for players and programs, at least in theory.
Not every prospect would sign early of course. National Signing Day would still remain a significant day on the college football recruiting calendar, and some players will still use the day to hold press conferences and bask in the national spotlight. Hey, that’s their choice. For those who would choose to avoid that hoopla and just focus on other things, an early signing period would be a welcome addition.
There will be plenty of details to iron out before this become a reality. This topic is expected to be on the agenda for a June meeting of the Conference Commissioners Association. Do you like the idea of an early signing period for football? Why or why not?
Wittek visited Hawaii last week, and earlier said his visit to Texas “exceeded expectations.” There’s a far lesser chance Wittek would win a starting job at Texas than at Hawaii, as he’d have to compete against David Ash and Tyrone Swoopes in Austin.
Wittek came to USC rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals and played sporadically in three years on campus. He started back-to-back games to end the 2012 season, throwing two touchdowns and five interceptions against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.
The SEC finally should have a permanent format for its conference schedule beyond 2016 by its spring meetings in May — and that format may stick to the status quo of eight games.
AL.com’s Jon Soloman talked to eight SEC athletic directors who favor sticking to an eight-game conference slate, though SEC commissioner Mike Slive said university presidents and chancellors will have a say in what format the league uses.
With plenty at stake — long-standing rivalries, permanent cross-divisional games and the rigors of an eight-game schedule vs. a nine-game schedule — Slive wants those university higher-ups involved in the process.
And too, if the SEC sticks to an eight-game schedule (six conference games, one rotating cross-divisional game and one permanent cross-divisional game) it’d mean a school could go 12 years between hosting or traveling to one of the six non-permanent cross-divisional campuses.
Soloman has an insightful look at all these issues — you can see why it’s taken the SEC so long to sort them out, that’s for sure.
Ohio State safety Vonn Bell had knee surgery Thursday to repair a sprained MCL suffered in the first spring practice of the year for the Buckeyes. Multiple reports have said Bell will be out for the remainder of the spring practice schedule in Columbus.
Bell, a sophomore, got his first start for the Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl in January, and he was expected to be a favorite to land one of the starting jobs at the safety position this fall. A former five-star recruit, the potential was high for Bell going in to the spring. There will be plenty of time to rehab and get back in to good shape for the fall. Ohio State expects Bell to be able to workout again in May.
According to Cleveland.com, sophomore Cam Burrows will likely get some more reps in spring practices with the first team defense. The former cornerback was already working on switching positions and competing with Bell and Tyvis Powell for a starting job at safety.
Florida State, the defending BCS and ACC champions, is prepping for another championship run in 2014, but a couple of players were missing from an offseason conditioning drill open to the media Thursday. Linebacker Kain Daub and offensive lineman Ira Denson are each missing out on spring practices right now, according to head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Denson had a shoulder injury that kept him out of action for much of the 2013 season. Fisher said they are monitoring his status and hoping he will be able to rejoin the team.
“We’re going to evaluate how he does,” Fisher said, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “He’s got to continue to do well, we want him to do well academically. If he does, he does. If he doesn’t, we’ll have to adjust.”
It sounds like Fisher is giving the straight coach talk by suggesting the Seminoles will worry about the players they have on hand. Fortunately there is plenty of time before the start of the 2014 season so Denson has some time. Fisher certainly wants Denson to be at full strength though, and the sooner the better. Denson was a four-star recruit out of high school and has potential to be a key player on the line.
Daub’s situation is a bit different, and perhaps a bit more of a headache according to Fisher. As The Orlando Sentinel reports, Daub is working through eligibility problems related to his high school records.
“It’s not anything that he did academically, it’s a [NCAA] Clearinghouse issue that he’s having to clear up with a class,” Fisher said. “So he’s not eligible to be out here right now, but he’ll get through this and hopefully he’ll be here in the summer. He won’t be here in the spring, he’ll be in the fall.”
If nothing else, Daub has Fisher”s support through what seems to be a bit of a messy situation.
“It had nothing to do with anything Kain has done,” Fisher said. “I don’t agree with it, but it’s crazy what they’re making him do.”
Boise State’s offense figured to have a little bit of a different look this upcoming season with a change in head coaches. Chris Petersen is off to Washington to push the Huskies over the hump in the Pac 12, so one of his former assistants has returned to try to get Boise State to bounce back a little bit as well. Bryan Harsin is getting the Broncos ready to pick up the pace this spring, and that offensive mentality is expected to carry over in to the fall.
“We’ll be no-huddle and we’ll have movement within it,” Harsin said, according to Boise State beat reporter Chad Cripe of The Idaho Statesman. “We’ll still have personnel groups within it. There will be times of tempo and times for getting a little bit of funk in there. … The core still will be running the football on offense. That won’t change. To be a successful team, to be a championship team, you have to run the ball.”
Harsin ran this sort of offense in his short time at Arkansas State and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford dabbled in at while at Stanford. The news of the new style of offense at Boise State, or perhaps more of a renewed vision of the offensive philosophy on the blue turf, comes a day after the NCAA’s Football Rules Oversight committee tabled the 10-second defensive substitution proposal that has ruffled feathers of coaches using up-tempo offenses. Needless to say, Harsin is happy to hear that news. He responded to a question about the proposal being shelved with a dose of humor, staring at his watch for 10 seconds before responding.
“It’s not a lot of fun, is it, to sit here for that long? I’m glad it didn’t pass, to say the least,” Harsin said. “I think the way somebody wants to run their offense, that’s their offense. … You can go fast if you want to but you’re not always doing that.”
Harsin also announced that two players, tight end Holden Huff and linebacker Andrew Pint, will be suspended for the first game of the season against Ole Miss. Both are suspended for a violation of team rules, although the specifics of the violations is not known. Ole Miss announced safety Denzel Nkemdiche will also be suspended for the season opener.
Michigan State has been climbing a bit of an uphill battle on their way to a Big Ten championship last season. Always flying under the radar and playing with a chip on their shoulders, the Spartans opened some eyes last season by coming together to make a run for the Big Ten title by overcoming rough play early on, handing Ohio State their first loss under Urban Meyer and then shutting down Stanford in a defensive battle in the Rose Bowl. Now on top of the Big Ten, will the Spartans be able to stay there? If nothing else, quarterback Connor Cook is full of confidence heading in to the spring.
“Heading into 2014, our expectations are so high that I feel like anything less than a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl would be a failure,” Cook told Bruce Feldman in an interview for CBSSports.com. “But it’s different now. I feel like we’re going to have more of a swagger heading into this season.”
Michigan State will be moving to a new division in the fall as the Big Ten expands. The Spartans will remain in the same division as in-state rival Michigan, but will also be in the fray with Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana and newcomers Maryland and Rutgers. The increased exposure in the east could not have come at a better time for the program as they currently hold the Big Ten’s title belt. And if they can get out of the Big Ten’s East Division, the odds may be pretty good they can play their way right back to Pasadena, or perhaps enter the College Football Playoff discussion.
“We won the Rose Bowl. We know what we’re capable of.,” Cook explained. “It’s everyone’s dream to win a national championship, and we feel like we can do that but you just have to take it one step at a time. The main goal at our program, which is what it is every year, is to win the Big Ten championship. If you win that, you’re in a BCS bowl. But it’s still the main goal is to win the Big Ten championship and then really everything else will take care of itself.”
Cook also discussed his trianing and how he is preparing for the upcoming season with Feldman, as well as a number of other topics. You can read the full interview on CBSSports.com.
Army and Connecticut will play a neutral site game in Yankee Stadium this upcoming season, the two schools announced today. Army and Connecticut will play in the home of baseball’s New York Yankees on Saturday, November 8. The official kickoff time has not been determined yet, although it will likely have an afternoon time slot on CBS Sports Network, the network that broadcasts Army home games.
This will mark the third straight season Army has played a game in the newer Yankee Stadium. Army played Notre Dame and Rutgers in the past two games in Yankee Stadium. This will be the sixth all-time meeting between Army and UConn, with the Huskies leading the series 4-1 with a four-game winning streak dating back to 2003.
The venue may have changed, but Army playing in Yankee Stadium is still a pretty cool scheduling twist for the Black Knights. For a program that has been so down over the years, anything that can bring a spotlight on the football program is something to look forward to, so hopefully playing a game in Yankee Stadium will continue to do just that. The options for putting together a game in Yankee Stadium can sometimes get tricky. Notre Dame aside, Army has to do what they can to bring in an opponent that has some schedule flexibility and one that can also draw some fans willing to travel. Rutgers and UConn each are a relatively short distance away, which makes them decent pairings. Perhaps we will see Syracuse kick off against Army in the future, as Army does hope to continue scheduling a game in Yankee Stadium for years to come.
The Army game fills out UConn’s 2014 schedule, although the specific dates for the AAC schedule still need to be released. The conference has likely been holding off on releasing a full conference schedule until some non-conference openings were filled by conference members. The home teams for conference match-ups is known, but the dates the games will be played has not been released.
Army’s schedule is also now complete with a full 12-game schedule. Army will play a rare road game for an FBS program at an FCS school when they travel to Yale of the Ivy League on September 27.