CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 13 Texas

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2011 record: 8-5 overall, 4-5 in Big 12 (6th-tie)

2011 postseason: Holiday Bowl (21-10 win over California)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: unranked/unranked

Head coach: Mack Brown (227-113-1 overall, 141-39 in 14 seasons at Texas)

Offensive coordinator: Major Applewhite (fourth season at Texas, second as co-OC); Bryan Harsin (second season at UT, second as co-OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 21st rushing offense (202.6 ypg); 86th passing offense (189.9 ypg); 54th total offense (392.5 ypg); 55th scoring offense (28.1 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: 10

Defensive coordinator: Manny Diaz (second season at Texas, second as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 6th rushing defense (96.2 ypg); 42nd passing defense (209.8 ypg); 11th total defense (306.8 ypg); 33rd scoring defense (22.2 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: seven

Location: Austin, Texas

Stadium:  Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 2009

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
The Longhorns certainly couldn’t be any worse than they have been the past two seasons, right?  Coming off a stretch in which it won 10-plus games for nine straight seasons, Texas proceeded to win just 13 games total in 2010 and 2011 — the same number they had during their title-winning 2005 season.  With a total of 17 returning starters — tied for 20th in the country according to the esteemed Phil Steele — from a team that “rebounded” with an eight-win season in 2011, it appears the ‘Horns are ready to emerge from its inexplicable two-year sabbatical from meaningful football.

The Bad
A four-game stretch of the schedule beginning in late September that features road games against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, and home contests with West Virginia and Baylor, combined to go with uncertainty (still) at quarterback to go along with a defense that’s ill-equipped to withstand attrition in any form.  In other words, yes, this ranking could very well — hell, may very well — be such a stretch that I’m pulling a muscle/muscles as I type this.

The Unknown
The quarterback position, of course.  After seven straight seasons of Vince Young/Colt McCoy under center, the Longhorns the past two seasons have had, well, the exact opposite at the position.  And, no, it’s no coincidence the worst two-year stretch under Brown coincides with abysmal play at quarterback.  David Ash, who rotated in and out of the starting lineup with Colt McCoy’s brother Case last season, showed flashes that he could be the guy, although not enough for Brown to name him the starter entering camp.  If either Ash or McCoy can emerge as even an average player at the position, the Longhorns are positioned defensively and with the running game to get back to Texas normalcy record-wise.  That’s a huge, huge if, however.

Make-or-break game: vs. Oklahoma at Dallas, Oct. 6
While the preceding two games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia were tempting to slot here, the annual (warning: political incorrectness ahead!!!) Red River Shootout warrants the spot.  With the Sooners once again expected to be at or near the head of the class in the Big 12, the annual rivalry game will serve as a very solid midseason litmus test of where the Longhorns stand in the conference — and how far they may still have to go to get back to where they were just a couple of years ago.

Heisman hopeful: running back Malcolm Brown
If we have to put anyone here for Texas, it has to be the talented sophomore.  As a true freshman last season, Brown led the Longhorns in both rushing yards (742) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.  It’s a stretch to put Brown in the Heisman mix in the first place; add in incoming freshman Jonathan Gray and the return of Joe Bergeron (2nd in rushing with 463 yards) and it morphs into merely a pipe dream as there may simply not be enough carries for Brown, as talented as he is, to shine on a stage as bright as the Heisman.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

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Jim Harbaugh, on threatening tweets directed at him by former player: ‘it’s a serious matter’

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The man at the center of a storm not of his creation has spoken.

Elysee Mbem-Bosse, or someone with access to his Twitter account, sent out a string of disturbing and threatening tweets Monday night that seemed to be directed at U-M head football coach Jim Harbaugh.  Even as U-M’s athletic director expressed concern for a player who left the football program in mid-November, the University of Michigan Police Department had already confirmed that they had launched an investigation into the social-media threats.

At a coaching clinic in Detroit Thursday night, Harbaugh for the first time (somewhat) addressed the threatening tweets seemingly directed at him by a former player.  From the Detroit News:

It’s a serious matter,” Harbaugh told The Detroit News. “I’m confident our administration and university officials will take the proper steps and are taking the proper steps.”

Harbaugh was asked if he felt threatened by the tweets.

“That’s all I’m going to say about it,” he said.

He issued the same response when asked when he became aware of the tweets.

Mbem-Bosse, who appeared in 12 games at linebacker the past two seasons, has not been arrested or charged as of yet in connection to the social-media threats.  Even in the face of a police investigation, the Twitter account attached to Mbem-Bosse, which he marked private before switching it back to public, has remained defiant and continued to direct unnerving tweets at his now-former head coach.

Nick Saban had ‘very positive meeting’ with Jalen Hurts’ dad

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Not surprisingly, Nick Saban is taking a measured approach to what could potentially be a volatile situation within his football program.

In an interview that was posted Thursday, Averion Hurts, the father of two-year starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, stated that, if his son fails to beat out Tua Tagovailoa for the starting job, he would “be the biggest free agent in college football history.”  The intimation, of course, was that Hurts would transfer if/when he lost the competition.

As it turned out, the Crimson Tide head coach was previously scheduled to meet with the media later on in the day, after the piece had gained some national traction.  Predictably, Saban was asked about the quotes attributed to the elder Hurts.

In answering the queries, Saban stated that he had met with the father this past weekend in what he described as “a very positive meeting.”

In the article in question, Averion Hurts stated that, while “Coach Saban’s job is to do what’s best for his team… my job is to do what’s best for Jalen.” Saban’s response? From al.com:

At the end of the day, everybody has career decisions that they have to make. Nobody knows what the outcome of this situation will bring. We don’t want any player not to be able to fill their goals and aspirations in our program here. We don’t want that for any of our players. Jalen’s dad has always been very positive and supportive in every conversation that I had.

So I’m not really concerned with what somebody else chose to write because I’m always sort of use the personal communication that I have with our player, Jalen and his family when necessary. And I have a lot of trust and respect for those folks. And I don’t think there’s an issue or problem from my standpoint.

Hurts has taken the majority of first-team reps this spring as Tagovailoa has been extremely limited because of an injury to his left (throwing hand) that has, thus far, required two different surgeries.  Tagovailoa will not participate in the annual spring game this Saturday, and Saban has refused to give a timeline for a decision on a starter to be made.

Will Greg Schiano attend Rutgers camp with Ohio State coaches?

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The most successful head coach in Rutgers program history could be making his long-awaited return to the program. Sort of. Greg Schiano, now Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, could potentially be one of the members of the Ohio State coaching staff that makes a visit to New Jersey this summer for a football camp run by Rutgers.

The East Coast Elite Football Camp will be held on June 1 for high school juniors and seniors. Ohio State’s coaching staff will be a special guest for the camp, leading many to suspect Schiano will be one of the star attractions for the Rutgers camp.

It is worth noting Rutgers head coach Chris Ash was previously the defensive coordinator for Ohio State before accepting his first head coaching gig with the Scarlet Knights. Schiano was hired by Ohio State to fill the vacancy on the coaching staff as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. With Ash making it his professional mission to build the Rutgers program using the lessons and strategies learned under Meyer at Ohio State, it seems only natural to invite Urban Meyer and his staff to New Jersey to work a football camp. Not only would this be a tremendous selling point for high school juniors and seniors (thus, potential recruits), but the Rutgers staff can benefit from working alongside Ohio State’s coaching staff, which is among the best in the nation.

Schiano turned a dreadful Rutgers program into a competitive program in the Big East over a span of 11 seasons. During that time, Rutgers played in six bowl games, and won five in a row over a six-year span. In 2006, Schiano coached Rutgers to a No. 12 ranking with a record of 11-2. After a 9-4 season in 2011, Schiano accepted the job with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a two-year stint in the pros was all Schiano would have before eventually returning to the college game after a two-year break.

Keegan-Michael Key to guest coach at Penn State spring game

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Penn State’s spring game on Saturday could be a coaching matchup of James Franklin vs… James Franklin?

Noted Franklin impressionist and Penn State alum Keegan-Michael Key will be attending the Penn State spring game this Saturday. The school also announced on Facebook Key will be a special guest coach for the game. You can bet the actor will tap his inner Franklin for at least a little bit for some comedy on the sidelines.

Key has made himself visible around Penn State the past few years with his impressions of Franklin during football meetings and on ESPN’s College GameDay. The similarities between Franklin and Key are so good that even the head coach of the Nittany Lions has had to tell some people it’s not him they see on TV sometimes.

With any luck, perhaps we’ll get our first glimpse of the newest addition to the Penn State spring roster, Hingle McCringleberry.

Penn State’s spring game is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. this Saturday.