CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 20 Texas

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2013 record: 8-5 overall, 7-2 in the Big 12 Conference (4th in the Big 12)
2013 postseason: Alamo Bowl vs. Oregon Ducks (30-7 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: Not ranked
Head coach: Charlie Strong (37-16 overall; 1st year at Texas)
Offensive coordinatorJoe Wickline (1st year at Texas)
2013 offensive rankings: 36th rushing offense (196.2 ypg); 79th passing offense (212.5 ypg); 64th total offense (408.7 ypg); 65th scoring offense (29.3 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: seven
Defensive coordinator: Vance Bedford (1st year at Texas)
2013 defensive rankings: 83th rushing defense (183.1 ypg); 53rd passing defense (224.2 ypg);  68th total defense (407.2 ypg); 57th scoring defense (25.8 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: eight
Location: Austin, Texas
Stadium: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119 capacity; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2009

THE GOOD
Texas is absolutely loaded with talent from the top of the roster to the bottom. It’s only been two years since the Longhorns were putting together Top 5 recruiting classes. And Texas should benefit from those top recruits becoming upperclassmen. Running back Malcolm Brown, linebacker Steve Edmond, cornerback Quandre Diggs and defensive tackle Malcom Brown were elite recruits now expected to be leaders of the team. The talent on the roster is there to mold. It simply comes down to finding the right scheme and place said talent in the position to succeed. That’s where a new coaching staff can come in, have instant success and win at a high level even with the same team that’s struggled to win more than eight games the past four seasons.

THE BAD
Last season, the Louisville Cardinals finished as the top defense in college football. The Cardinals staff is now taking over at Texas, and they inherit a Texas defense that played far below expectations in recent seasons. The argument can be made that Texas plays in the wide-open Big 12 conference, which features some of the most explosive offenses in college football and skews the stats. Yet, Texas’ defense last year was substandard even for the Big 12. The Longhorns didn’t finish better than fifth in the conference in any of the major defensive statistics. The one area on defense the team excelled in 2013 was getting to the quarterback. Unfortunately, the team’s top sack artist from a year ago, Jackson Jeffcoat, has departed for the NFL and will be replaced by junior Shiro Davis. Bookend Cedric Reed returns as does the ultra-talented Malcom Brown. The Longhorns’ new head coach, Charlie Strong, hangs his newly fashioned 10-gallon hat on playing tough and fundamentally sound defense. The talent is there for the new staff to exploit. The coaches must simply develop the available talent to play at a much higher level than they’ve grown to expect in recent years.

THE UNKNOWN
There is a new sheriff in town and his last name is Strong. A multitude of questions comes along with the departure of Mack Brown after 16 seasons as the Longhorns’ head coach. Strong has already begun to answer some of those questions. The new coach immediately displayed strong leadership when he either dismissed or suspended multiple players, which included four projected starters. Recruiting appears to be picking up in recent weeks. These moves, however, are merely the first indications of Strong’s performance. Strong and his staff will need to build off their current momentum and ride it into the season. Strong proved to be a highly successful head coach at Louisville. But can he improve the Longhorns’ stagnant offense? Can Texas’ defense play to Strong’s standards? Will the young talent on the roster develop and reach their potential? As Strong answers questions, more will continue to come until he quiets the rabble with strong team performances each and every Saturday.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Oklahoma
The Red River Rivalry is important every year, but it’s exponentially so this season. When the Longhorns meet the Oklahoma Sooners on Oct. 11, it’s a chance for Strong to make a statement. Mack Brown won his last game against the Sooners, and the team did so in an impressive fashion. If Strong falls short, the negative comparisons will automatically commence. While Brown’s Longhorns upset the 12th ranked Sooners a year ago, Oklahoma is regarded as Top 5 program this fall. Strong can set the tone during this game and prove he was the right choice for the job by taking out Texas’ bitter rival.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: RB Malcolm Brown
While Texas’ roster is supremely talented, potential Heisman candidates are limited (to put it kindly). None of the players currently on the roster have lived up to their lofty status coming into Austin as recruits. Malcolm Brown is the closest of the bunch. The running back has shown the ability to take over games for stretches and be a dynamic runner. Last season, Malcolm Brown led the team with 904 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He was at his best late in the season with three straight games of 128 yards or more. If quarterback David Ash can play at a higher level and consistently threaten defenses in the passing game, Brown could explode for massive rushing totals. And the University of Texas could have its first Heisman Trophy winner since Ricky Williams.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Florida State AD Stan Wilcox takes over Oliver’s Luck’s old NCAA job

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Boston College at Florida State
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As had been rumored, Florida State is in search of a new athletics boss.

The NCAA announced Monday that Stan Wilcox has accepted the position of executive vice president of regulatory affairs. Wilcox has been the athletic director at Florida State since August of 2013, and FSU will now be forced to launch a national search for a replacement.

Wilcox will replace Oliver Luck, the former West Virginia athletic director who left the NCAA in June of this year to take on the job of XFL commissioner.

“Stan is a highly-respected, visionary leader in intercollegiate athletics, and I’m excited to have him join our senior leadership team at the national office,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “Stan’s nearly three decades of experience working in athletics administration at Notre Dame, Duke and Florida State, among others, have clearly demonstrated his commitment to providing student-athletes with the opportunity to excel in both academics and athletics while being successful in life.”

“I want to thank Stan for everything he has done at FSU. We’re excited for him, and we all wish him the best in his new position,” said FSU president John Thrasher in his statement. “Our success on the playing fields under his leadership has been exceptional, with national championships in football, soccer, and softball over that time. We finished ninth in the 2017-18 Learfield Director’s Cup last year, and our student-athletes reached a cumulative 3.0 GPA this past year.”

Below is Wilcox’s full statement on his departure from Tallahassee:

I am honored and humbled to join Mark Emmert’s leadership team at the NCAA.

I am so grateful for the opportunities and experiences that have led me to this point. The Big East Conference, Notre Dame University, Duke University and most recently Florida State University have provided a depth and breadth of experiences on which I will rely heavily moving forward.

I am excited to return to the NCAA, where my intercollegiate athletics career began.

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to former Florida State University Presidents Eric Barron and Garnett Stokes, and current President John Thrasher. The success we have enjoyed in Tallahassee would not have been possible without their trust, guidance and support, and without the fine efforts of our student-athletes, coaches and athletics support staff.

My wife Ramona and I are excited to start this new chapter in my career and in our lives together.

Ohio State board likely to recommend suspension for Urban Meyer

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In the last few days, there’s been a growing sense that Urban Meyer could very well survive and keep his job at Ohio State.  One report Monday did nothing to extinguish the hopes of Buckeye Nation.

OSU announced earlier in the today that the university’s Board of Trustees will meet Wednesday morning to discuss “personnel matters related to the investigation involving Urban Meyer.” The two-week probe into the head coach’s handling of domestic abuse allegations leveled against a now-former assistant was completed Sunday.

The 19-member board will review the investigative committee’s final report on the results of their investigation, with OSU president Michael V. Drake determining Meyer’s fate after receiving a recommendation from the regents. And, according to a pair of Columbus Dispatch sources, “the likely recommendation [from the board] is a suspension for Meyer.” Just how long of a suspension potentially facing Meyer was not relayed by the newspaper.

Not only that, Meyer might also avoid any further punitive measures, period. “Drake and the board could also opt for a ‘time served’ punishment since Meyer has been removed from football activities for more than two weeks.” the Dispatch wrote.

While the board will meet Wednesday and present its recommendation to Drake the same day, it’s unclear at this point when the university’s president will make his announcement.

Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 as questions into his handling of domestic abuse allegations made against his now-former assistant coach, Zach Smith, surfaced.  The university announced the launching of an investigation into Meyer’s actions the day after the head coach’s leave was announced.

Zach Smithfired by Meyer as OSU wide receivers coach July 23 in the wake of allegations that he abused his ex-wifeCourtney Smith, during their marriage, met with the investigative team on Tuesday of last week.  Courtney Smith, along with her attorneys, met with investigators the day before her ex-husband.

In a statement Aug. 3, Meyer claimed that he has “always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels.” Allegations of domestic abuse stemmed not only from Zach Smith’s time at OSU, but while he was on Meyer’s Florida staff in 2009 as well.

Meyer’s boss in Gainesville, former UF athletic director Jeremy Foleydeclined comment on that 2009 incident earlier this month.  Meyer’s current boss in Columbus, OSU athletic director Gene Smith, could also be in the university’s crosshairs as Zach Smith alleged that the AD contacted him about the allegations in October of 2015.

As the investigation reached its midway point, Gene Smith was on vacation but “available to speak with the investigative team.” It’s unclear if Smith spoke to the investigators; it’s also unclear if Smith, also on the selection committee for the College Football Playoff, will continue on as OSU’s athletic director moving forward.

As Meyer is barred from interacting with his players and coaches during his leave, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day has been handling OSU’s preparations for the Sept 1 opener against Oregon State after being named as the Buckeyes’ acting head coach. The university has also kept players or coaches from speaking to the media throughout Meyer’s leave.

Louisville places TE coach Klenakis on leave following DUI arrest

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Louisville tight ends coach Chris Klenakis was arrested early Sunday for driving under the influence, and now he has been placed on administrative leave by the Cardinals.

According to an Associated Press report, Klenakis was driving with a BAC of 0.165, which is more than twice the legal limit. From the report, it sounds as though Klenakis was lucky to have been caught with by police, because a police report says Klentakis walked into the road during a sobriety test and was nearly hit by a passing truck.

Police charged Klenakis with reckless driving, wanton endangerment and possession of open containers on top of the DUI charge.

How long Klenakis remains suspended by the university remains to be seen, as does his overall job status with the football program. Klenakis has been Louisville’s coaching staff since 2014 and has previously coached offensive line.

Louisville opens the 2018 season on September 1 against No. 1 Alabama in Orlando, Florida.

Mike Bobo remains hospitalized as Colorado State prepares for season opener vs. Hawaii

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Colorado State will begin a brand new college football season this weekend at home against Mountain West Conference opponent Hawaii, but it remains to be seen if head coach Mike Bobo will be on the sidelines to coach the Rams. Bobo remains in a hospital after checking in for medical evaluations last week.

An update from Colorado State Athletics Director Joe Parker on Monday confirmed Bobo has moved to a new hospital in Denver and continues to be evaluated to determine why he might have felt numbness in his feet recently. Parker said it is possible Bobo could be released from the hospital any day, but the Rams coaching staff will continue preparing the team for this weekend’s game as if Bobo will not be available just in case.

With that being the case, there is some uncertainty over how the staff would run the team with responsibilities like calling plays. That appears to be a detail the staff will worry about later in the week in the event it is determined such a need arises. In the meantime, Bobo has been able to stay in touch with the staff and review film to keep sticking to his job as head coach, but nobody at Colorado State is going to push Bobo to get back as soon as possible if there are concerns about his health still to deal with.

Colorado State faces Hawaii in the season opener on Saturday, August 25.