CFT preseason No. 14: Texas A&M

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2010 record: 9-4, 6-2 (T-1st, Big 12 South)

2010 bowl: 41-24 loss to LSU in the Cotton Bowl

2010 final AP/coaches’ ranking: 19th/21st

Coach: Mike Sherman, third year; 19-19 overall, 11-13 conference

Offensive coordinator: Sherman

2010 offensive rankings: 34th, scoring offense (31.2 ppg); 23rd, total offense (441.9 ypg); 46th, rushing offense (165 ypg); 20th, passing offense (276.9 ypg)

Defensive coordinator: Tim DeRuyter, second year

2010 defensive rankings: 34th, scoring defense (21.9 ppg); 55th, total defense (364.3 ypg); 30th, rushing defense (130.2 ypg); 89th, passing defense (234.2 ypg)

Returning offensive starters: 9

Returning defensive starters: 8

Location: College Station, Texas

Stadium: Kyle Field (Bermuda Grass; 83,002)

Last league title: 1998

2011 schedule: [view]

2011 roster: [view]

2010 statistics: [view]

Snapshot: Listen, I know I should like the Aggies more than I do. I get that. I really do.

I know A&M returns 29 of their 22 starters — OK, it’s 17 — from a team a year ago that finished 9-4 and was 10 points away from double-digit wins. I know its 2011 schedule — well, except for that whole “at Oklahoma” thing — sets them up for a run that could keep them inside The top 10 of the major polls for a good chunk of the season, perhaps even at the start of it. I know that, outside of Madison, Wis., the Aggies possess the best one-two running back punch in college football. I know that the defense in its first year under Tim DeRuyter — enjoy him while you can, College Station; he will be a Div. 1-A (FBS) head coach sooner rather than later — improved exponentially from 2009 to 2010, and, while the improvement may not be as striking, they will be better in the second year under the coordinator’s leadership.

Yet, even knowing all that, I couldn’t pull pull the trigger on a Top 10 spot for the Aggies, and actually had to talk myself into placing them this high in the initial poll. Why is that? I’m not really certain myself, but it could have something to do with an individual whose name rhymes with “Schmike Schmerman”. And, even if that’s the reason, that’s probably an asinine stance on my part. Yeah, Mike Sherman started off with seasons of four and six wins, but that was after he gutted what was left of the Dennis Franchione philosophy while simultaneously building and implementing his own system. Last year’s nine-win season was proof that the Sherman Way may have the program headed in the right direction.

While the 2010 season may have simply been an aberration and the first two the true barometer of Sherman’s program, I’m getting the feeling that I may rue placing the Aggies this low to begin the season.

Make-or-break games: The two Oklahoma schools

When it comes to the conference race this year, A&M’s season will come down to a home matchup with Oklahoma State Sept. 24, and the road trip to Oklahoma Nov. 5. Yes, it will have to navigate a road game against Texas Tech as well as a home game against in-state rival Texas in the regular season finale, but the Aggies’ conference season will, in essence, come down to the games against the two Oklahoma schools. Win them both, and there’s a clear path to an automatic BcS bid. Split the two, and an at-large BcS berth might still be within reach, depending on the results of the other 10 games. Get swept? They won’t be able to forget the Alamo.

Heisman hopeful: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill

While I may not “like” the Aggies as a national contender, I really, really like Tannehill as a football player. Tannehill was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 7 last season, and the Aggies proceeded to ripoff six straight wins, a streak that was preceded by three consecutive losses. The 17-point bowl loss to LSU may have taken some of the wind out of the Aggies’ regular-season sails, but it did nothing to the fact that Tannehill will likely be one of the preseason favorites for the Heisman. Oh, and the fact that first-team All-Big 12 wide receiver Jeff Fuller decided to return for another season won’t hurt his chances of being in the mix, either.

Postseason projection: Alamo Bowl

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

Big 12 preview, vote

USC makes hiring of Virginia’s Vic So’oto official

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The massive renovation of Clay Helton’s USC football coaching staff has taken another official step.

Last week, it was reported that USC was expected to poach Vic So’oto from Virginia.  As Clint Sintim‘s hiring as So’oto’s replacement was announced a few days later, the latter’s move to the Trojans was a mere formality.

Tuesday, USC football confirmed So’oto’s addition to Clay Helton’s staff.  As he did with the ‘Hoos, So’oto will serve as the Trojans’ defensive line coach.

The 32-year-old So’oto was the line coach at Virginia for the past three seasons.  Prior to that, he was a defensive graduate assistant at the ACC program.

So’oto played his college football at BYU, ending his four-year career in 2010.  After his NFL career ended, So’oto began his collegiate coaching career as a football intern at his alma mater.

For those unaware, So’oto is the second cousin of USC football legend Junior Seau.

LSU confirms hiring of Scott Linehan as new passing-game coordinator

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LSU football has officially replaced one of the hottest young coaches in the sport.

Not long after LSU football claimed the 2019 national championship, Joe Brady left to take over as the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Earlier this month, it was reported that Scott Linehan was expected to be hired as Brady’s successor.

Tuesday, LSU confirmed that Linehan has indeed been named by Ed Orgeron as the Tigers’ new passing-game coordinator. The 56-year-old Linehan has spent the past 17 seasons he’s been a coach at the NFL level.

Linehan was out of coaching this past season.

“Scott brings a wealth of knowledge to our offense,” the LSU football head coach said in a statement. “We wanted to bring in someone who will expand our passing game and with Scott’s experience as an NFL head coach and offensive coordinator we feel this is the best move for our offense. After talking to numerous people with NFL experience and interviewing Scott we knew he was the right fit for the LSU Tigers.”

In 13 of those seasons in the NFL, Linehan served as an offensive coordinator.

  • Dallas Cowboys, 2015-18
  • Detroit Lions, 2009-13
  • Miami Dolphins, 2005
  • Minnesota Vikings, 2002-04

In the other four NFL seasons in which he wasn’t a coordinator, Linehan was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams (2006-08) and passing-game coordinator for the Cowboys (2014).

Linehan’s last job at the collegiate level came as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Louisville (1999-2001). From 1996-98, he was the coordinator at Washington.

American announces 2020 schedule

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The American Athletic Conference will again play football in 2020, the conference confirmed on Tuesday.

The American revealed its 2020 conference schedule, a 44-game slate that completes the 88 total games AAC teams will play in 2020. As a reminder, UConn is no longer an American member, meaning the conference will have 11 football-playing members for the foreseeable future. All 11 teams will still play an 8-game league schedule, and the conference will still hold a title game.

The 2020 season will also be the conference’s first under the new rights agreement it struck with ESPN in March. As such, at least 40 American home games will be shown on the ESPN family of networks, and at least half of those will be on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The conference will play a total of 12 games on Thursday or Friday nights.

“We are excited to announce our 2020 schedule as we enter the next phase of our longstanding relationship with ESPN,” said commissioner Mike Aresco. “With the continued success our schools have had, I have no doubt that we will once again provide our fans, and ESPN, with compelling matchups throughout the season in both conference and nonconference play. We look forward to another outstanding season of American Athletic Conference football.”

The season will begin on Saturday, Aug. 29 when Navy “hosts” Notre Dame at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. That game will be shown on ESPN with College GameDay in tow as part of the network’s season kick-off effort. While the full schedule can be viewed here, highlights include:

  • North Carolina at UCF, Sept. 4 (Friday)
  • South Florida at Texas, Sept. 5
  • Temple at Miami, Sept. 5
  • Houston at Washington State, Sept. 12
  • Cincinnati at Nebraska, Sept. 26
  • TCU at SMU, Sept. 26
  • Memphis at SMU, Oct. 1 (Thursday)
  • UCF at Memphis, Oct. 16 (Friday)
  • Memphis at Cincinnati, Oct. 31
  • Memphis at Navy, Nov. 14
  • Cincinnati at UCF, Nov. 21
  • UCF at South Florida, Nov. 27 (Friday)

The 2020 American season will conclude with the sixth annual American Championship on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Ohio State CB Sevyn Banks to wear No. 7

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George Costanza was never much of a college football fan. He was a New Yorker, after all. But he was a fan of the No. 7, and so he would have a new favorite college football player in 2020.

A product of Orlando’s Jones High School, Sevyn Banks has been a member of Ohio State’s defensive backfield since 2018. The former 4-star recruit has received limited playing time in the Buckeyes’ loaded defensive backfield, but figures to compete for a starting spot in 2020.

And now he’ll do so in his namesake number.

Banks announced Monday he will switch from No. 12 to No. 7 for the upcoming season.

The No. 7 had been claimed by linebacker Teradja Mitchell, who is now switching to No. 3, opening No. 7 for, well, Sevyn.

Banks appeared in all 14 games for Ohio State last season, collecting 11 tackles and one interception.

He’ll hope to get more burn in 2020, with some support from a fictional New Yorker.