Banned no more: Trojans sit atop CFT’s preseason Top 25

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My utter disdain and contempt for any preseason poll notwithstanding, last year I played the role of sight-impaired squirrel to Alabama’s proverbial nut.

Despite being named CFT’s preseason No. 1 around this time last year, the Tide somehow managed to navigate its way through the Curse of Nostradumbass — see Florida, 2010; OU, 2009 — and end the season as BcS champions for the second time in three seasons.

This year, the curse has landed squarely at the feet of the Men of Troy.

Loaded with talent — but not a lot of depth — at nearly every position, and coming off a two-year bowl ban, USC has its sights set on returning to the halcyon days of Pete Carroll — minus the NCAA sanctions of course. While the Trojans are No. 1 in the minds of CFT (and the Associated Press), a case could certainly be made for a handful of other teams as well.

In fact, you could make a solid, reasonable argument for the teams we have at Nos. 2-4 — Oklahoma, Alabama and LSU, respectively — to be the ones sitting atop the preseason rankings instead of USC.  Taking it deeper, a case could be made for a baker’s dozen or more teams to fill out the remainder of the Top 10 as well.

Simply put, there are a lot of really good football teams, at least on paper, at the FBS level in 2012, which makes the meaningless exercise that is any and all preseason polls that much tougher.

So, without further ado… well, one additional ado: for all of Ben Kercheval’s conference-by-conference predictions, please click HERE as the latter did a helluva job doing all of the heavy lifting on this part of our 2012 preview.  And there’s also a place where you can voice your opinion one vote at a time by casting your cyber ballot for who you feel should be the preseason No. 1.

Anyway, with the ado done, below is CFT’s complete Top 25 rankings, with links out to brief snapshots of the season that was and the season that will be.  Now, flame away in the comments section…

1.) USC
2.) Oklahoma
3.) Alabama
4.) LSU
5.) Michigan
6.) Georgia
7.) Oregon
8.) West Virginia
9.) Wisconsin
10.) Florida State
11.) South Carolina
12.) Clemson
13.) Texas
14.) Michigan State
15.) Arkansas
16.) Virginia Tech
17.) Ohio State
18.) North Carolina
19.) Florida
20.) TCU
21.) Boise State
22.) Nebraska
23.) Stanford
24.) Louisville
25.) Virginia

Ragin’ Cajuns confirm hiring of Sun Devils OC Billy Napier as head coach

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This phase of The Grand Experiment at Arizona State is officially an abject failure.

In hiring Herm Edwards, it was known that ASU was looking to retain both of Todd Graham‘s coordinators in an effort to ease Edwards’ return to coaching after a decade-long absence.  Earlier this week, the new Sun Devils head coach confirmed that defensive coordinator Phil Bennett was leaving the staff because of what were described as “family matters.” Overnight, reports surfaced that offensive coordinator Billy Napier had been offered the head-coaching job at a Sun Belt Conference program and was likely to accept it.

Friday afternoon, that likelihood became a reality as Louisiana announced that Napier has been named as the Ragin’ Cajuns next head football coach.  Napier replaces Mark Hudspethfired earlier this month after seven years with the program.

The football program will officially introduce their new coach at a Monday press conference.

“My family and I are excited and humbled for the opportunity to serve Cajun Nation and our Louisiana football program,” Napier said. “We will make it a priority to bring in the best talent from the state of Louisiana and the nation.”

Napier just completed his first season at ASU.  Prior to that, he spent five seasons as the wide receivers coach at Alabama.  Next Sept. 29th, Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns squad will square off with… the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

With Napier’s hiring, Kent State is the lone FBS program without a head coach.

Shea Patterson, Michigan should have 2018 eligibility decision in late January/early February

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In an interview earlier this week, transferring Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson expressed confidence that he would be immediately eligible to play for Michigan in 2018.  Whether that confidence will be rewarded, though,  won’t be known for a couple of months down the road.

Patterson and other transferring Rebels football players have retained the services of Thomas Mars — known to most of the college football world as the bulldog attorney who handled Houston Nutt‘s lawsuit against Ole Miss — in their attempt at immediate eligibility next season without having to sit out the transfer season normally required by the NCAA.  In an interview with Angelique Chengalis of the Detroit News, Mars revealed that a final decision on Patterson’s eligibility to play for the Wolverines in 2018 won’t be known until late January or early February.

In the interim, Mars will argue to the NCAA that Ole Miss displayed “egregious behavior,” including misleading recruits like Patterson and his family regarding the potential seriousness of the NCAA issues facing the football program,  and thus the standard transfer year should be waived in this case. “At this point, there’s no room for Ole Miss to deny it unlawfully kept the NOA (NCAA Notice of Allegations) it had just received under wraps for five months while the school misled prospects and their parents about how the NCAA investigation would likely impact the future of the football program and the goals and dreams of the student-athletes who ended up signing with Ole Miss under false pretenses,” the lawyer told Chengalis.

The News also laid out the process that will play out between Patterson, Ole Miss, Michigan and the NCAA in the coming weeks:

In the case of Patterson, Michigan must send a package to Ole Miss with information that supports the premise of Ole Miss’ “egregious behavior.” Ole Miss has several options — it can support what Michigan sent, oppose it, express neutrality or not respond at all. Once the NCAA has Ole Miss’ position on this, it moves forward with its decision-making process.

“If Ole Miss supports the transfer waivers, this could be a very easy decision (by the NCAA),” Mars said.

If Patterson is able to gain instant eligibility, he’d immediately become the favorite to win the Wolverines’ starting quarterback job.

Seth Collins leaving Oregon State a second time

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Seth Collins‘ winding journey in Corvallis has taken yet another twist.

After asking for it, Collins has been granted a release from his Oregon State scholarship, the school has confirmed. The junior wide receiver has already parted ways with the team, and no specific reason for the departure has been given.

This marks the second time that Collins has left the Beavers football program.  In January of 2016, Collins, amidst speculation that he would be moved from quarterback to wide receiver, made the decision to transfer; three months later, he returned to OSU — as a receiver.

Last season, Collins was second on the team in catches (36) and yards (418).  After three games this season, Collins was ruled out indefinitely because of what was described by the team as a health-related issue; he didn’t play again for the Beavers in 2017.  In the three games in which he played this season, he caught 12 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

That illness was unrelated to the unspecified health event last season that left him hospitalized and caused him to miss not only the last two games of 2016 but spring practice this year as well.

If Collins moves on to another FBS school, it’s believed he’ll have to sit out the 2018 season.  That would leave him with one season of eligibility that he can use in 2019.

It was thought that, when Collins left the first time, he was headed to Northern Illinois, so that’s certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Minnesota assistant Ed Warinner tweets he’s ‘never been contacted’ about Kent State job

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You just have to love the vagaries of the annual coaching rumor mill.

The offensive line coach and running-game coordinator at Minnesota, Ed Warinner has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Paul Haynes as the head coach at Kent State.  In fact, just yesterday, the former Ohio State and Notre Dame assistant had been labeled as a “strong candidate” for the opening.

Thursday night, however, FootballScoop.com tweeted that Warinner is no longer a candidate.

Less than 20 minutes after that tweet, Warinner took to his personal Twitter to confirm he is not only not a candidate for the job but claimed that he has “never been contacted by anyone involved with the school.” Left unsaid is whether those representing or associated with him had been in contact with the university.

Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen (HERE) and Syracuse offensive coordinator Sean Lewis (HERE) are the latest names du jour connected to the opening at the MAC school.

Kent State’s one of two jobs at the FBS level that remain open, although the other, Louisiana, could be closed in short order.