CFT preseason No. 8: LSU

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2010 record: 11-2, 6-2 (T-2nd SEC West)

2010 bowl: 41-24 win over Texas A&M

2010 final AP/coaches’ ranking: 8th/8th

Coach: Les Miles, seventh year; 62-17 overall, 32-15

Offensive coordinator: Greg Studrawa, first year

2010 offensive rankings: 45th, scoring offense (29.7 ppg); 86th, total offense (341.3 ypg); 28th, rushing offense (185.7 ypg); 107th, passing offense (155.6 ypg)

Defensive coordinator: John Chavis, third year

2010 defensive rankings: 11th, scoring defense (18.2 ppg); 12th, total defense (307.2 ypg); 42nd, rushing defense (137.3 ypg); 10th, passing defense (169.9 ypg)

Returning offensive starters: 8

Returning defensive starters: 7

Location: Baton Rouge, La.

Stadium: Tiger Stadium (grass; 92,400)

Last league title: 2007

2011 schedule: [view]

2011 roster: [view]

2010 statistics: [view]

Snapshot: There is one reason and one reason only why the Bayou Bengals are sitting outside of the Top 5 of this poll, and it rhymes with “Schmordan Schmefferson”.

LSU will return a sizable starting chunk of a defense — the loss of cornerback Patrick Peterson being the most glaring loss — that finished just outside of the Top 10 nationally in points allowed and total yards given up. Sophomore Spencer Ware has more than enough talent to replace the production in the backfield lost by Stevan Ridley’s departure. The offensive line will return four starters from a year ago. The receiving corp is deep in talent and experience, although the potential Russell Shepard NCAA “situation” could dampen the enthusiasm over this unit pending a resolution, one way or the other, before the start of the season.

Thus, and as unfair as it may be or seem, how far LSU goes in 2011 will likely fall on the right throwing shoulder of Jordan Jefferson and, in part, new offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa (Steve Kragthorpe stepped down on Aug. 4 after revealing he has Parkinson’s disease). To say that Jefferson was uneven during the 2010 season would be both kind and a massive understatement; Jefferson tossed more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (7), and his passing efficiency rating was 96th — there are 120 Div. 1-A (FCS) schools; he was third-worst among BcS conference QBs — in the country. One way or the other, and much, much sooner rather than later, Les Miles & Company need to figure out whether last season was an abysmal aberration for Jefferson or if that was simply the first significant data point on a downward-heading career arc. A lot of people, including the program, are drinking the improved Jefferson Kool-Aid this offseason; I’m not. At least not yet.

(NOTE: Jefferson was suspended indefinitely following his Aug. 26 arrest for a second-degree battery charge for his alleged involvement in a bar fight.)

Of course, there’s also the chance that JUCO transfer and former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger will perform up to many expectations and rid the program of the Jefferson question marks at some point during summer camp or early in the season.

Either way, LSU needs to figure out the QB situation if they want to get to where their overall talent level suggests they very well should be: playing in the BcS championship game, in their own backyard of New Orleans.

Make-or-break game: Nov. 5 at Alabama

This is another absolute no-brainer. At least when it comes to the preseason projections, both teams will likely fall deep within the Top 5 in most if not all of the polls that actually matter. As long as they handle their business the first eight weeks of the season — Oregon in the opener will go a long way when it comes to LSU’s side of the business ledger — this could very well be a showdown of two undefeated teams, with the winner taking a major step toward a berth in the SEC championship game and, more than likely, a spot in the BcS title game. Playing the game in Tuscaloosa will be a huge advantage for the Tide, and could be enough to swing what on a neutral field would be a negligible talent advantage even more so in their favor.

Heisman hopeful: There is literally no one from the Tigers who could even remotely be considered a Heisman candidate at this time. Certainly Jefferson would be in the discussion if he wasn’t arrested and LSU was winning.

Postseason projection: Sugar Bowl

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Missouri WR Kam Scott steps into transfer portal

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One of Missouri’s top wide receivers from 2019 could be on the move. Kam Scott has reportedly entered the NCAA transfer portal, allowing him to begin evaluating potential transfer options for the upcoming season.

By entering the transfer portal, Scott is now free to have contact with any other college football program interested in recruiting him. Scott is also free to pull his name out of the portal and remain at Missouri, but Missouri is no longer obligated to hold his scholarship. If Scott does transfer to another FBS program, he will be required to sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Of course, a potential relaxed waiver process could make a path to immediate eligibility in 2020 a realistic possibility if the NCAA does approve a new waiver process.

Scott caught 17 passes for 328 yards in 11 games last season for the Tigers. He was Missouri’s third-leading receiver in 2019 behind Jonathan Nance and Tyler Badie.

Penn State and Paterno family resolve their issues

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It seems there is peace between Penn State University and the family of former head coach Joe Paterno. Or, at the very least, the two can go their separate ways without any more hostile feelings.

On Friday, the Penn State Board of Trustees announced the university and the Paterno family have reached a resolution on their ongoing issues. The Paterno family has agreed to drop all outstanding claims against the university and Penn State will cover some Paterno family expenses.

“The University recognizes and takes great pride in the many contributions made by Joe Paterno, not just to the football program, but to the academic advancement of this institution and to countless charitable causes in the community as well,” a statement from Mark Dambly, Penn State Board of Trustees chair, said. “We are pleased that the Paterno family has indicated that they will not support public or private advocacy efforts to revisit the past, through further review or release of investigative materials, or otherwise.”

“The last eight years have been difficult, made more so by the opinions in the Freeh Report, which my family and I believe was deeply flawed, reached unsupported conclusions about Joe and unjustly criticized the culture of Penn State,” a statement from Sue Paterno, the wife of Joe Paterno, said. “The University has made clear that Mr. Freeh’s opinions about Joe were never endorsed by Penn State. By confirming this position and reaching this understanding, the leadership of Penn State has acted in the best interests of the University, and for this I am grateful.”

The Paterno family has taken public aim at the Freeh Report, a report commissioned by the Board of Trustees following the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the university and community in 2011, which ultimately led to the dismissal of Joe Paterno as head coach of the Penn State football program and landed the program on hefty NCAA sanctions (which were later removed in part due to the Paterno family fighting the NCAA in court). Given the Paterno family’s long-time association with the university and the tension that arose with Paterno amid the Sandusky scandal, there were plenty of bitter feelings to go around.

As both the university and Paterno family stated, the real victims in this tragedy have been the ones truly suffering, and the hope is the university and Paterno family putting their differences aside can help keep the focus on what is really important in all of this.

And no, we’re not talking about the whereabouts of the Paterno statue.

Butch Jones getting a new job title at Alabama

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Former Cincinnati and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is moving up the ranks on the Alabama football staff. Jones will be promoted from analyst to special assistant to the head coach, according to a report from Al.com.

Jones joined the Alabama program in 2018 as an offensive analyst after his tenure at Tennessee ended in 2017. As a number of Alabama assistants and analysts tend to be, Jones has been a candidate for some potential jobs on the market since arriving at Alabama. the 2020 season will be Jones’ third with the Crimson Tide, as his name will likely continue to circulate the coaching rumor mill once the coaching carousel picks up again. With a new title at Alabama, it is expected jones will not be a candidate for the vacancy at Colorado.

What jones will do as the special assistant to the head coach, Nick Saban, can be pretty broad, but it will certainly be more than simply getting coffee (although the image of Jones as a coffee boy sounds entertaining). Jones will assist Saban in many parts of the operation of the program, taking some of the load off Saban’s shoulders where needed.

Just remember that Jones is not the assistant head coach, but he is the assistant TO the head coach. But if there is an Alabama spin-off of “The Office” in production, we’d certainly like to see it.

 

Ted Gilmore leaves Wisconsin for job at Michigan State

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Mel Tucker has continued to quickly assemble his first Michigan State football coaching staff.

Friday, MSU announced the addition of Ted Gilmore to Tucker’s first staff in East Lansing.  The 25-year veteran of the profession will serve as the Spartans’ tight ends coach.

“Coach Gilmore is a great teacher and excellent motivator who brings high energy,” said the new Michigan State football head coach in a statement. “He’s a proven developer of players and a very effective recruiter. He’s a true difference-maker.”

Gilmore comes to the Michigan State football program armed with recent and extensive experience in the Big Ten.  The past five seasons, Gilmore worked at Wisconsin as wide receivers coach.  From 2017-19, he carried the added title of passing-game coordinator for the Badgers.  From 2005-10, Gilmore was the receivers coach at Nebraska.  The last three seasons with the Cornhuskers, he was also the assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.

In between those two stints, he worked as the receivers coach at USC (2011) and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders (2012-14).

Gilmore has also served as the receivers coach at Colorado (2003-04), Purdue (2001-02), Houston (2000) and Wyoming (1997-98).  In 1999, Gilmore was the tight ends coach at Kansas.  He played his college football at Wyoming, and began his coaching career at his alma mater as a graduate assistant (1994-96).

The hiring of Gilmore is the seventh officially announced by the Michigan State football program.

This past weekend, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained.  Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.  Wednesday, former first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver Courtney Hawkins returned to East Lansing to coach the same position he played for the Spartans.  A day later, Jay Johnson was confirmed as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and Harlon Barnett was brought back as defensive backs coach.