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CFT Predicts: the Pac-12

David Yankey, David Shaw, Shayne Skov AP

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the Pac-12.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SEC, Big Ten

Pac-12 North

1. Stanford (Last year: 12-2; beat Wisconsin in Rose Bowl)
What happened last season?
Though Stanford lost arguably the best quarterback to ever pass through the program in Andrew Luck, the Cardinal did something it couldn’t when Luck and Jim Harbaugh were on The Farm: win the Pac-12. David Shaw is quickly ascending the list of best college coaches in the country. I mean, the guy did a Ted Talk. Clearly Stanford is big-time now.

So why are they ranked here?
The Cardinal are experienced and there really aren’t many glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is undefeated as a starter and has a solid offensive line and running game that brings back Tyler Gaffney. The defensive front seven returns plenty of starters too, including linebacker Shayne Skov. This is a solid team all around.

Anything else?
Things get a little more interesting schedule-wise in the second half of the season. The Cardinal play UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon in consecutive weeks before ending the year against Cal and Notre Dame. Weather that schedule and Stanford will absolutely be in the national title discussion. And I’d like their chances of winning it all (meaning, by rule of the jinx, they’ll go 8-5 and OMG I’m so sorry, you guys [sad face]).

2. Oregon (Last year: 12-1; beat Kansas State in Fiesta Bowl)
What happened last season?
Another BCS win for the Ducks would end up being the final game for coach Chip Kelly, who left for the NFL shortly thereafter. But the important story line here is that the one-point safety happened and we are all now better off as humans for seeing it.

So why are they ranked here?
The Pac-12 North looks like it could play out in a similar fashion to the SEC East, where Georgia and South Carolina could be slotted in either order as 1A or 1B. Oregon is actually the preseason favorite to win the North (and the league’s championship game) — albeit by the slimmest of margins — but if it comes down to it, I’m going to go with Shaw over first-year coach Mark Helfrich.

Anything else?
There’s a lot of national focus on Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel as far as as quarterbacks go, but keep an eye on Marcus Mariota. This redshirt sophomore was efficient in his first year as a starter, throwing for 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He has great size (6-foot-4 and 211 pounds) and athleticism.

3. Oregon State (Last year: 9-4; lost to Texas in Alamo Bowl)
What happened last season?
Just when you think Mike Riley is on the way out of Corvallis, he orchestrates one of the more dramatic turnarounds in college football. (Not that I thought Riley was on his way out or anything… Okay, I did.) The Beavers started 6-0 before exchanging wins and losses through the rest of the year, which ended in a bowl loss to Texas.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s good offensive firepower returning for Oregon State. This team has two capable quarterbacks in Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, and running back has both talent and depth. The question will continue to be on the offensive line can pave the way for OSU to have a better rushing attack than the one that ranked 101st in the country a year ago. On defense, the Beavers’ secondary should be a strength even with the departure of Jordan Poyer.

Anything else?
It wouldn’t be surprising to see this team 7-0 headed into a huge home game against Stanford — and playing in Reser Stadium can be a thorn for opposing teams. But there are no gimmes on the schedule once late October rolls around.

4. Washington (Last year: 7-6; lost to Boise State in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas)
What happened last season?
This can be summed up in highlights and lowlights. Highlight: beating Stanford, however ugly it was, 17-13. Lowlight: a regular-season ending loss to Wazzu in the Apple Cup. In overtime. Woof.

So why are they ranked here?
Steve Sarkisian isn’t on the hot seat, but it’s time to win more than seven games. Keith Price returns as one of the more talented quarterbacks in the Pac-12, but he’s also never experienced the luxury known as pass protection. If he has time, this is an offense that can put up a lot of points. The defense made major strides in 2012 under Justin Wilcox and will need to keep pace against a schedule that features plenty of good offensive opponents.

Anything else?
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is currently dealing with a broken pinkie. There’s optimism he can return by Week 1, though, as Sarkisian said it was a clean break. Jenkins will be counted on a lot this season in the passing game, so his health is crucial.

5. Washington State (Last year: 3-9)
What happened last season?
Yeah, Mike Leach‘s first season in Pullman didn’t exactly go as planned. The Cougars passed the ball a lot (go figure) but struggled to score and couldn’t stop anyone. But, hey, y’all beat Washington so huzzah!

So why are they ranked here?
There are still plenty of concerns on both sides of the ball, but Wazzu is not a team completely deprived of talent. Connor Halliday returns at quarterback, but the offensive line needs to come together to give him some more protection. Sacks and interceptions doomed the Cougars offense last season. If the offense can jell, a turnaround might start taking some form in 2013.

Anything else?
Wazzu doesn’t have to run the ball more, but they have to run it more effectively. This is a team that averaged 29 yards per game on the ground in 2012. Twenty. Nine. That’s, like, De’Anthony Thomas‘ yards-per-carry or something.

6. Cal (Last year: 3-9)
What happened last season?
The Golden Bears lost their shine and Jeff Tedford was shown the door. Things got really bad at the end when Cal lost their final two games by an average of 45 points.

So why are they ranked here?
Sonny Dykes will win in Berkeley, it just won’t be this year. True freshman Jared Goff will be thrown into the fire immediately as the team’s starting quarterback, and the schedule is unforgiving.

Anything else?
Cal will likely lose three of their first four games, but we could still get a decent understanding of what this team can potentially accomplish in Dykes’ first year if they hang tough with Northwestern, Ohio State or Oregon.

Pac-12 South

1. UCLA (Last year: 9-5; lost to Baylor in Holiday Bowl)
What happened last season?
The Bruins took a huge step forward under first-year coach Jim Mora by winning nine games and making it to the Pac-12 championship. UCLA got torched by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl, but the Bears were playing their best football at the end of the year.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s a new edge in Pasadena that previously wasn’t there. That’s a reflection on Mora, and things are only looking up for UCLA. Brett Hundley returns as one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the league. This is an offense that will need to find a replacement for Johnathan Franklin in the running game to take the pressure off of Hundley. The defense has to replace its entire secondary too. But this is a talented, young team.

Anything else?
Part of that talented youth is Notre Dame transfer Eddie Vanderdoes. The defensive lineman will be able to play immediately and he’s expected to do so.

2. Arizona State (Last year: 8-5; beat Navy in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) 
What happened last season?
First-year coach Todd Graham did a good job getting the Sun Devils to eight wins. And, of course, beating Arizona always helps.

So why are they ranked here?
ASU could be a sneaky good team this year. There’s a lot of hype in Tempe around Taylor Kelly, who already has a 3,000-yard passing season under his belt.  This team features 17 returning starters, including All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton. There’s room to grow at the receiver spot, but the Sun Devils have a good backfield with Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. Based on their 2012 play, this is a team that can right in the middle of the Pac-12 South hunt.

Anything else?
ASU has an interesting and difficult early part of the season with Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks. Winning both of those early Pac-12 games would be huge.

3. USC (Last year: 7-6; lost to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl) 
What happened last season?
USC went from the preseason No. 1 team to being unranked at the end of the season after losing a to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl in embarrassing fashion. Matt Barkley hurt his shoulder and couldn’t finish out his career with the Trojans. There were almost too many disappointments to list.

So why are they ranked here?
There are a lot of question marks on offense with the departure of Barkley and receiver Robert Woods. Marqise Lee is back though and figures to be a huge part of the game plan — if he can stay healthy. There was a lot of staff turnover during the offseason, so it could take some time for everything to come together. And let’s not forget the depth issues affecting this team while it rides out the scholarship reductions from the NCAA. Still, it’s not like USC is lacking talent. That should be enough to keep this team from going under .500 this year.

Anything else?
Well, that’s the thing. Lane Kiffin can’t afford to go under .500 — or .500 at all —  and realistically expect to keep his job. The scholarship reductions hurt, but they don’t have any impact on failed two-point conversions, or switching numbers between plays midway through a game. Pull shenanigans like that and win seven again, and Kiffin could be headed for the unemployment line.

4. Arizona (Last year: 8-5; beat Nevada in New Mexico Bowl)
What happened last season?
Rich Rodriguez rebounded from his short Michigan gig by winning right away with Arizona. The highlight of the year included a 39-36 win over what was then a top-10 ranked USC team.

So why are they ranked here?
Matt Scott waited his turn and had himself a banner senior season. He left for the NFL as one of the more intriguing quarterback prospects. But while the Wildcats have to replace him, they do bring back Ka’Deem Carey, who was the country’s leading running back last year. Carey figures to be the focal point of the offense this year, which may need to win some shootouts again.

Anything else?
The defense was the worst in the Pac-12 last season at giving up points. Jeff Casteel is a fine defensive coordinator, so that’ll be a unit to watch to see if any significant improvement can be made.

5. Utah (Last year: 5-7) 
What happened last season?
It was another disappointing year for Kyle Whittingham. The offense, especially the passing game, couldn’t get going and Jordan Wynn had to end his oft-injured career earlier than he’d hoped.

So why are they ranked here?
Dennis Erickson been brought in as co-offensive coordinator to light a fire under one of the worst passing games in the Pac-12 last season. The defensive line loses three key players as well in Star Lotulelei, Joe Kruger and Dave Kruger. There’s a lot to replace and plenty of tough games on the schedule.

Anything else?
Erickson is more than just another offensive mind to add to the staff. He’s familiar with the recent Pac-12 landscape from his time with Arizona State. That should pay dividends for the Utes, but just how soon remains unclear.

6. Colorado (Last year: 1-11) 
What happened last season?
The Buffaloes were terrible and Jon Embree got fired. During Embree’s final press conference, it become abundantly clear from a national perspective just how much work this program has to do to get back to its former winning ways.

So why are they ranked here?
Mike MacIntyre did wonders at San Jose State. He’ll need to work those miracles again in Boulder, but 2013 looks like it could be another brutal year for this program. The Buffs have a dire QB situation right now, though it appears Texas transfer Connor Wood will get the nod. There is a lot of experience returning for Colorado (17 starters), but how long it takes them to adjust to MacIntyre remains to be seen.

Anything else?
It won’t count toward Pac-12 standings, but Colorado can make a big splash at the start of the season by beating Colorado State. When little is expected to go your way, grabbing a win over an in-state rival goes a long way.

——————————————-

John Taylor‘s prediction:
North
1. Stanford
2. Oregon
3. Oregon State
4. Washington
5. Washington State
6. Cal

South
1. UCLA
2. Arizona State
3. USC
4. Utah
5. Arizona
6. Colorado

Ben’s Pac-12 champ: Stanford
John’s Pac-12 champ: Stanford

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Oregon DL Sam Kamp retires from football

Pac-12 Championship - Arizona v Oregon

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.

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Chad Morris was still returning congratulatory texts six weeks after taking SMU job

Chad Morris

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.

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Wazzu promotes Eric Mele to full-time special teams coordinator

Utah v Washington State

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.”

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Report: Virginia Tech won’t host Thursday night game in 2015

David Wang, Caleb Farris

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.

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Two ex-Vanderbilt players found guilty in rape trial

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.

The pair was accused of a July 2013 rape, along with two other players – Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie and Brandon Banks - who still await trial.

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.

“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.

 

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Duke promotes Matt Guerrieri from GA to full-time assistant

Matt Guerrieri

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)

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James Franklin asked Herb Hand to cut back on Twitter beef with Pitt

James Franklin

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…

… 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.

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Busted Sooner: Safety Hatari Byrd cited for drug and alcohol offenses

Russell Athletic Bowl - Clemson v Oklahoma Getty Images

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.

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Does winning a national title really give you a boost in recruiting? (Yes)

Urban Meyer, Nick Saban

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.

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Where did your team get its 2015 starting QB?

Cody Kessler

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.

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Nebraska recruit says Michigan’s Greg Mattison “tried to call me stupid to my face”

Indiana v Michigan

Nebraska defensive end Daishon Neal is committed to join the Nebraska Cornhuskers when National Signing Day comes next week. The Omaha native gave the Cornhuskers his verbal commitment last April and has stayed true to that even while evaluating other options following a coaching change in Lincoln. Michigan, with Jim Harbaugh and a newly assembled staff, have been one of those options until a recent recruiting pitch from the Wolverines turned sour for Neal.

Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who opted to stay on board as a Michigan assistant coach under a reduced and more focused role on the staff, made a visit to Neal and his family on Monday night. The hope was being able to sell Neal and his family on flipping to Michigan as the Wolverines try to give the Class of 2015 in Ann Arbor a late boost. The effort did not go so well for Mattison, who may have crossed a line with regards to academics.

According to a quote from Neal’s father, Abraham Hoskins Jr., on a local radio station in Omaha (1620 The Zone), Mattison said Neal would not be able to get into Michigan if not for football. Per a transcription from MLive.com;

“Michigan was a powerhouse, they came in and they stormed us, they made one bad statement and it was over,” Hoskins told 1620 on air. “They said without football, Daishon wouldn’t be able to go to Michigan. Like we couldn’t afford to send him there, or that we couldn’t get him in academically.

“Once he said that, we pretty much escorted him out of the house.”

Neal added his own summary of the interaction, telling the station “(They) basically tried to call me stupid in front of my face.”

Neal is a three-star recruit according to Rivals. He is also considered the top prospect in the state of Nebraska and he confirmed his commitment to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

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Marcus Mariota’s brother is heading to Oregon

Marcus Mariota

Oregon may be losing one Mariota, but the family legacy has a chance to continue with the Ducks this fall. Matthew Mariota, the younger brother of Heisman Trophy quarterback Marcus Mariota, will sign a National Letter of Intent to Oregon next week on National Signing Day.

KHON in Hawaii reports the younger Mariota will likely be a preferred walk-on at Oregon. The 6′ 3″, 220-pound defensive end is not a player with much of a scouting report from the major recruiting services, but there is no question he has the name recognition after what his brother managed to do at Oregon. Matthew Mariota has played outside linebacker as well as defensive end so there is a chance he could provide some flexibility for the Oregon defense. If he be developed to the same kind of level his brother reached, then Oregon may be getting a pure steal in the recruiting class. If nothing else, it helps keep Oregon’s pipeline pumping in Hawaii.

Marcus Mariota was a Class of 2011 recruit with a three-star ranking according to his Rivals profile. Obviously, Mariota was developed by the Oregon coaching staff led by Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, and he blossomed into one of the top players in the country, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2014 and leading Oregon to a Pac-12 championship and berth in the first College Football Playoff national championship game.

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Ohio’s leading tackler Poling arrested for fighting

Ohio v Louisville Getty Images

Ohio redshirt linebacker Quentin Poling was arrested early Sunday morning for fighting outside an Athens pizza shop. Poling was one of two men arrested after police showed up on the scene.

According to a report by The Athens News, police responded to a call at 1:50 a.m. on Sunday and observed a large crowd of people outside a local establishment as a fight was starting. Two men, one said to be intoxicated according to the police report, were identified and taken to Athens Police Department. Charges related to fighting were levied against the two men. It is unconfirmed which man was the intoxicated individual in the police report.

Poling led Ohio with 89 tackles in 2014, including 55 solo tackles. Poling also had a team-high three interceptions last fall.

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Oregon governor makes good on CFB Playoff championship wager

Urban Meyer

Ohio State defeated Oregon in the first College Football Playoff national championship just two weeks ago, and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber did not delay on making good on a friendly wager.

The Columbus Dispatch says Kitzhaber’s shipment to Ohio Governor John Kasich arrived Monday, thus fulfilling his side of the bet prior to Ohio State and Oregon clashing in the national championship game. The prize for the Ohio governor following the Buckeyes victory was a package of cheese, honey and jam. A six-pack of a locally brewed product is still on the way.

Had Oregon won its first national championship in school history, the Ohio governor would have sent a shipment of a six-pack of a local Ohio brew, buckeye candy and lasagna.

Gov. Kasich can send that my way if he wants.

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Pair of Iowa running backs cited for a disorderly house

Two Iowa running backs were cited for a disorderly house, but it is not because they failed to clean up the pizza boxes and dust the furniture.

Iowa redshirt freshmen Jonathan Parker and Akrum Wadley were cited by police Saturday night after being called to respond to a complaint about a noise disturbance. Police discovered  a large gathering of people, and a scent of marijuana was reported to be stemming from the residence. According to a report from Iowa City Press-Citizen, both players were released later that night.

Parker and Wadley were apparently responsible for the party, but nothing beyond the disorderly house citation has been dropped on either player. As far as crimes and violations go in the offseason, this is hardly much reason for much concern given the information available at this time.

Parker rushed for 141 yards and one touchdown for the Hawkeyes in 2014. Wadley rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown after appearing in eight games in 2014.

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