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.
It appears Dino Babers is on the verge of, once again, completing his Syracuse coaching staff.
FootballScoop.com is reporting that reporting that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) is leaving his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as running backs coach at Syracuse. Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.
This will mark Lustig’s first job at a Power Five program.
Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana. Tom Kaufman, who oversaw Syracuse’s special teams as well as coached linebackers, took the defensive coordinator job at an FCS program two weeks ago.
Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later. For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.
Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15. He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.
The cloud habitually hovering over the Baylor football program continues to get darker. And more ominous.
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[f]ormer Baylor football player Tre'Von Armstead was arrested Wednesday… on three second-degree felony sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged 2013 sexual assault while he was a member of the Baylor football team.” While the alleged rape occurred in mid-April of 2013, the case was suspended by the Waco Police Department, ESPN.com writes, “after the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Armstead and former Bears running back Myke Chatman, who she accused of sexually assaulting her at her apartment.”
The victim in that alleged assault, a former “Baylor Bruin” recruiting hostess for the football program, filed a lawsuit in late January of this year in which it’s alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape over a four-year period starting in 2011. It was further alleged in the lawsuit that BU assistant football coaches, including current Florida Atlantic assistant Kendal Briles, contributed to what was described as a “culture of sexual violence” around the football program.
“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles, the son of disgraced former BU head coach Art Briles, told one recruit according to that lawsuit, one of many the university is currently facing as a result of the sexual-assault scandal.
Despite the 2013 allegations of Armstead being involved in a sexual assault, he remained with the football program until his dismissal in September of 2015. A little over a week ago, Armstead was arrested on multiple charges in Las Vegas after he allegedly physically assaulted a woman.
The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.
Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball. Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.
As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.
New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.
Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game). They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.
“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”
It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.
In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.