Friday, December 23, 2011

I know what I want for Christmas

I typically partake in two types of planning for my post-Christmas spending: one on the assumption that I'll get a handful of gift cards to Walmart or Target or wherever and the other on the assumption that I'll win Powerball (obviously) and have unlimited money to do whatever I want forever and ever.

This is the kind of thing that goes on the second list (click for the big version):

YES. Forever Saturday Field at Husky Stadium can become a reality for just $50 million. I'm on it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pitt would like Paul Chryst to stick around plz

It took Pitt about half as long to settle on a replacement for Todd Graham as it took ASU to hire Todd Graham, which is impressive since ASU actually knew a coaching search would be necessary and Pitt obviously didn't. The replacement: Paul Chryst (not Mario Cristobal despite the bajillion reports that claimed Cristobal was the favorite).

So ... Paul Chryst. He's interviewed for roughly 483 jobs in the past year and finally got one. The reason he's interviewed for 483 jobs: 483 places have been interested in hiring him (or at least talking to him) because of the pretty awesome things he's been doing at Wisconsin for the last seven years and Oregon State for the two years before that. A hypothetical and uber-subjective list of the best offensive coordinators in the country would probably include Chryst somewhere near the top.

I'm going straight to the numbers here:

2011 Wisconsin: 15th in yardage, fourth in scoring
2010 Wisconsin: 21st in yardage, sixth in scoring
2009 Wisconsin: 30th in yardage, 25th in scoring
2008 Wisconsin: 47th in yardage, 37th in scoring
2007 Wisconsin: 46th in yardage, 49th in scoring
2006 Wisconsin: 35th in yardage, 26th in scoring
2005 Wisconsin: 45th in yardage, 14th in scoring
2004 Oregon State: 54th in yardage, 49th in scoring
2003 Oregon State: 10th in yardage, 22nd in scoring

There's nothing mind-blowing there, but keep in mind that he hasn't had a single below-average season at any point and has been consistently very good with a pro-style-ish offense at two places with (typically) less-than-elite talent in major conferences. There's no question about quality of competition or ability to duplicate success or whatever. Interestingly, Oregon State was actually extremely pass-heavy back in 2004, when Derek Anderson went ham on the Pac-10; Chryst apparently got Alvarized upon moving to Wisconsin but has been no less successful seeing as how Wisconsin's running game has finished no lower than 37th since Chryst arrived and no lower than 21st in any of the past five years.

That probably seems like the norm because Ron Dayne was a truck, but the Wisconsin offense wasn't that great when Chryst got there: The total yardage rankings the previous three years were (chronologically) 83rd, 41st and 93rd. The offense has been at least as good as it was in the best of those seasons every year since. So yeah. Chryst can definitely run an offense regardless of what he's given.

That's good news for Pitt since this year was ... ummm ... not good (except for Ray Graham's half a season). Todd Graham's supposedly awesome passing game was not awesome with Calvin Magee calling plays and Tino Sunseri throwing ducks, and Sunseri might not be back anyway (even Chryst doesn't know for sure). Ray Graham will definitely be back, though, which is swell since he was on his way to 1,500 yards before blowing out his knee and is probably one of the top 10-ish running backs in the country if/when healthy. I could see him putting up ginormous numbers next year with Chryst running the show and presumably still lacking a good quarterback.

As for the bigger picture, I wouldn't count on a Wisconsin-style offense every year since the Oregon State numbers paint a different picture, but I am counting on a pro-style-type thing even if the next Dan Marino shows up at some point in the near future. Chryst isn't Todd Graham; he also isn't Dave Wannstedt since his offenses have a pulse. The question is what he'll do on defense since D-coordinator Keith Patterson is expected to head to ASU after the BBDFKDSFJSA Compass Bowl. The unemployed pickings are gettin' slim since it's almost Christmas (although Mike Stoops is still out there).

Speaking of employment, this tidbit is pretty unsurprising:
Athletic director Steve Pederson said (Chryst's) contract includes a "very significant" buyout.
I mentioned this late last week but will repeat it here for amusement's sake: Chryst is Pitt's sixth head coach in the last 12 months! And that includes three permanent hires!!! Think about that and then laugh a little bit. It doesn't seem unreasonable to have a head coach stick around for more than a couple weeks. Chryst is only 46 and could presumably be there for many years if he wins.

Pitt's a tough place to figure out. The stadium experience blows because of the off-campus thing with Heinz Field, but Western Pennsylvania is loaded with talent, the facilities are pretty new and there's enough money and tradition that Pitt seems like (at least on the surface) one of the more desirable locales in the Big East. Winning doesn't seem impossible ... it's just that nobody's really done it since Jackie Sherrill inherited the Johnny Majors juggernaut. The 2009 team that went 9-3 and then won the Sun Bowl was probably the best in like 25 years (the '04 team played in the Fiesta Bowl but went 8-4, which lol Big East). So Pitt is basically ASU Northeast. It's also worth noting that Pitt is en route to the ACC, where 8-4 records probably won't be sufficient for BCS bids. The overall quality of competition is going up a notch.

I don't have much doubt that Chryst is an excellent playcaller; being an excellent coach is a little different. There are a lot of variables that are currently unknowable, specifically on defense and in recruiting (Chryst is listed as lead recruiter for one of Wisconsin's commits this year). I do think being the polar opposite of Todd Graham will be a benefit for the obvious reason that Todd Graham is The Devil right now. Here's Chryst's amusing and un-coach-like answer to ESPN's relatively vague "who are you" question:
The good news is I’m someone that doesn't talk about himself as much as try to represent who he is with what he does.
That's the entire response. He's a lifelong Upper Midwesterner and therefore not a smooth-talker. I'm pretty sure the fans will like him after the whole Graham debacle; they'll love him if he can turn Pitt into the regular ACC contender it should probably be.

Catching up doesn't mention Ohio State (oops)

It only took 39 years: Norm Chow is a head coach for the first time in his career. He's 65 and has been probably one of the five-ish most well-respected offensive coordinators in the country for close to 30 years. I can't even list his track record in this space because it would take 1,000 words. Long story short: He's coached a million awesome quarterbacks at a bunch of different places (although it was only BYU until 2000).

People used to talk about why nobody would hire him when his offenses were destroying the world at USC; word on the interwebz was that he wasn't a good interviewer and was kind of a quiet type who didn't really get into the hobnobbing-type stuff most major programs require. The debate went away the last few years given his age and the blah product on the field at UCLA. Like I pointed out in my Neuheisel-centric coachpocalypse post, that probably had a lot more to do with the complete lack of a competent quarterback than anything else. Utah's offense was also pretty crappy this year but was without Jordan Wynn for most of the year. So it's kinda hard to say whether (or how much) Chow has really slipped as an offensive mind since he's so quarterback-dependent (albeit in a pro-style way and not a June Jones way). His name alone and typical Hawaii OFFENSE EXPLOSION oughta get him some decent quarterbacks and skill-position talent, and I can't imagine he hasn't learned some things about running a program under (insert prominent head coach here).

I normally advocate NOT hiring guys in their 60s for the obvious reason, but Hawaii is kinda different in that it's never gonna be nationally relevant because of the inherent disadvantage of being 2,000 miles away from everything and having a recruiting base of Samoans and nothing. The job requirements are as follows: be locally supported, generate some interest and produce enough wins/offense to make the program relatively entertaining. Chow should be able to do all those things, even if he only does it for a few years (although that's not a certainty since he could kinda retire and still keep coaching at Hawaii).

In case you were wondering, Chow is from Honolulu (he's Asian-American) and coached high school ball in Hawaii before getting his first job at BYU. He obviously has some familiarity/comfort with the area and the culture and whatnot; he's basically going home. Good for him.

Matt Barkley wooo: Matt Barkley. He'll be back. Yay. I assumed his press conference would be of the "I've done all I can blah blah ready for the next step blah" type; it wasn't.
"I am staying so I can finish what I started," Barkley said.
USC could be really good next year. They were a couple fluky bounces away from 12-0 this year and will be bringing back enough talent that a national title isn't an unreasonable expectation. And I'm making Barkley the by-a-mile favorite for the 2012 Heisman right now. The hype is gonna be just a notch below "Andrew Luck" on the Ron Powlus Scale. Senior seasons FTW.

Akron doesn't hire Jim Tressel, still makes me laugh: Akron is in the process of hiring Terry Bowden (?!?) as head coach. Terry Bowden. The guy who hasn't been an FBS head coach since 1998, when he quit after Auburn started 1-5 following five straight good years (including the unbeaten 1993 season).


Anyway ... upon further review, Bowden isn't a totally inexplicable choice. He's been coaching at North Alabama (a de facto orphanage for D-I washouts), which went to the D-II playoffs in all three of Bowden's seasons after becoming a quasi-powerhouse under Mark Hudspeth. He also jumped to Auburn from Samford, where he went 45-23-1 in his younger years. In other words, most of his meaningful years have been spent at smaller schools that have more in common with Akron than Auburn. He clearly has some idea of how to handle programs of all sizes. The problems are in the program (more on that momentarily) and ability to recruit kids who won't know him as anything other than Bobby Bowden's kid. He's also been in the Southeast since before this year's high school seniors were born and probably has limited Ohio-area connections.

Akron has been awful the last two years, going a combined 2-22 under Rob Ianello. The offense has been embarrassingly bad (115th and 116th) and the defense has been just slightly less pathetic (98th and 99th). So everything sucks. Getting that mess back to respectability might be enough to get Bowden back on the head coaching map before he gets too old (he's currently 54) to be viable for a job with a real program.

Houston is banking on continuity: Tony Levine was promoted from associate head coach/special teams coach this week to replace Kevin Sumlin and keep Houston doin' what it does. Levine has never been a head coach; he's been almost exclusively a special teams coach at a handful of places, including Houston for the last four years, and also spent one year as director of football operations at Louisville under Bobby Petrino in 2003. Trying to translate that into head coaching is an exercise in futility and therefore won't happen here.

I can make a reasonable assumption, though: Levine (who's only 39) will try to keep as much of the staff intact as possible, especially on offense. Houston's passing game has been scorching the earth for most of the last decade under Kevin Sumlin and Art Briles, and the local talent base should be sufficient to keep that going even after the move to the Big East.

I'm a little skeptical that Levine was a better option in terms of continuity than current O-coordinator Jason Phillips, but there's also a reason Levine and not Phillips was promoted to interim coach after Sumlin bailed. Again, with zero relevant data to go on in terms of numbers or experience, I'm offering no predictions here. I will offer this: Houston should be a consistently competitive team in the Big East. Whether they'll be one is another matter that will depend on Levine and exactly how much of the current momentum he can maintain.

Kansas is inexplicably flush with quarterbacks: Dayne Crist announced Thursday after completing his tour of a bunch of random schools that he's transferring from Notre Dame to Kansas. He'll be a fifth-year senior (he's already graduated) and will be eligible to play next year, which will obviously give Charlie Weis a talented and reasonably experienced option right off the bat. This isn't particularly surprising.

What is surprising: Jake Heaps is also transferring to Kansas. Heaps was a big-time prospect a couple years ago and was very good as a freshman at BYU in 2010 before playing like poo early this season and getting benched. He could have gone anywhere; he picked Kansas. He'll have to sit out next season as a transfer (which is fine since Crist will presumably start) and then will have two years of eligibility left starting in 2013. Jordan Webb, who started most of this year and was decent, will be a senior then (assuming he's still around) and the only real competition.

Upshot: Kansas now has two former five-star quarterbacks, although whether either one is actually a good college player is still to be determined. The Charlie Weis gravitational pull is strong.

Ohio State hires Everett Withers: Sorry. I tried.

Anyway, Everett Withers. If I were an Ohio State fan (hahahahaha), I'd be somewhat less concerned about the defense than if Luke Fickell were running it on his own with zero playcalling experience. Withers is pretty good, as evidenced by North Carolina turning into an NFL-draft-pick-producing machine over the last few years and producing the following numbers in total defense ranking in his three years as D-coordinator: sixth, 30th, 40th (keep in mind that suspensions added a level of difficulty the last two years). He also was a defensive backs coach at Texas and with the Tennessee Titans and had one awful year as D-coordinator at Minnesota in 2007 that doesn't mean a whole lot because Minnesota is Minnesota.

Withers will nominally be co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, which presumably means he'll be imparting some of his defensive-y wisdom on Fickell and helping ... umm ... coordinate? He won't technically be calling plays but brings enough experience and whatnot to the table that the co-coordinator thing with Fickell and Withers probably won't constitute a massive drop-off from the co-coordinator thing with Fickell and Jim Heacock (who called plays for the last seven years). Point for Urban Meyer.

Marcus Coker suspended: I am shocked and appalled that an Iowa player has been suspended:
Iowa has suspended leading rusher Marcus Coker for the Insight Bowl for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. The school said the issue involves a violation of the Hawkeyes' student-athlete code of conduct. Coker will not travel with the team to Arizona to face Oklahoma on Dec. 30.
Derp. Coker ran for almost 1,400 yards and scored 15 touchdowns this year on about 23 carries a game. He IS the Iowa running game (I'm totally for cereal since nobody else has more than 18 carries). James Vandenberg is an underrated QB, but ... I mean ... yikes. This is not a team built to air it out or shut down down Landry Jones since the defense is currently ranked 75th nationally in pass efficiency). In other words, Iowa's chances of beating Oklahoma just went from slim to something less than slim.

Nebraska picks a D-coordinator: John Papuchis is 33 (!!!) and is now Nebraska's defensive coordinator after Bo Pelini passed up Mike Stoops and unknown other options to promote Papuchis from his previous roles as D-line coach, special-teams coach and recruiting coordinator. Impressive.

How that stuff translates to D-coordinator is pretty hard to say. The Nebraska D-lines and special teams have been pretty awesome the last couple years, so that's a good start, as is Pelini's blessing since he's kind of a Nick Saban Lite. Speaking of which, given Pelini's defensive background, it seems reasonable to wonder if he'll handle a little more in that area now that he's got a relative baby coaching it rather than his brother. We'll find out. Regardless, he's obviously got a metric ton of confidence in Papuchis given the guy's ridiculously meteoric rise, accumulation of meaningful job titles and promotion even as Mike Stoops was openly talking about his interest in the job.

Virginia Tech has some special-teams issues: Frank Beamer might be the greatest special teams coach in the history of ever but has some serious issues right now, specifically a punting game that's been so bad this year that receiver Danny Coale is now the regular punter (the other guys were terrible at 34.7 yards a kick). There's also this:
Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell has been suspended indefinitely after being charged with breaking and entering.

Blacksburg Police say the 20-year-old Journell was one of three men charged Wednesday night after an alleged home invasion. Police said the men were arrested after officers responded to a report of a ''physical altercation'' at a house near downtown.

Journell, a redshirt sophomore from Ripplemead, Va., was 14 of 17 on field goal attempts this season.
Smooth. Backup kicker and kickoff guy Justin Myer is 0 for 2 on field-goal attempts in his career.

Va. Tech was 65th in FEI's special-teams rankings this year, and that was with Journell. With a kicker who's never made a field goal, a receiver punting (albeit pretty well at 44 yards a punt) and a nonexistent kick-return game (19.7 yards per return), that number is effectively even lower. Michigan's special teams have crept up from bad to about average (59th in FEI) and might actually be an advantage (!) in the Sugar Bowl unless Va. Tech blocks seven punts.

Gunner Kiel (probably) makes a logical decision: Gino Joubert is somehow connected with LSU/Southeast recruiting for Scout (his credibility is a matter of debate) and reports the following:
#1 QB Gunner Kiel from Indiana will pick LSU either today or Thursday according to one of my sources close to the Kiel family. If so, HUGE
Huge indeed. Kiel's recruitment has been totally bizarre: He was originally thought to be a Notre Dame lean, then narrowed his list to Oklahoma, Alabama and Indiana (?), then committed to Indiana (!!!), then decommitted when he realized Indiana is a tire fire, then took a few more visits. He's been basically off the grid since he decommitted last month.

LSU makes a ton of sense for the following reason: Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson are both seniors. Zach Mettenberger is the apparent Next Guy after transferring from Georgia last year, but he'll be a junior next year and has all of 11 career passing attempts. Worst-case scenario for Kiel: He redshirts, sits as a redshirt freshman and starts for three years. Best-case scenario: He beats out Mettenberger and starts for four years for a program coming off what would be its third national title in eight years.

Again, that's all assuming the stereotypically named Gino Joubert is accurate.

Nice hair: I'm honestly not sure if I'm being serious or 100 percent sarcastic.

I'm leaning toward sarcastic.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mark Richt's blatant disregard for the rules

Believing members of his football staff weren't being compensated satisfactorily, Georgia coach Mark Richt unknowingly violated NCAA rules by paying them out of his own pocket. Richt's supplemental payments to several staffers were among a series of secondary NCAA violations uncovered by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a standard open records report released Tuesday.

According to the AJC report, Richt's actions broke NCAA rules on supplemental pay. But discipline was limited to letters of admonishment from the school to Richt and those he made payments to, as well as additional rules education, the report said.
LOL WUT indeed. I'm assuming the intent of the rule is to avoid Willie Lyles-style shenanigans with no paper trail, but ... I mean ... arrrghgh:
Georgia's investigation into the matter determined that Richt made several impermissible payments:

• To former recruiting assistant Charlie Cantor, $10,842 over an 11-month period through March 2011.

• To former linebackers coach John Jancek, $10,000 in 2009 after the previous university administration declined to give Jancek a raise when he turned down a coaching opportunity elsewhere.

• To director of player development John Eason, $6,150 in 2010 when his new administrative position called for a salary reduction after he stepped down from an assistant coaching position on Richt's staff.

• Richt also paid a total of $15,227 when the school -- citing "difficult economic conditions being experienced by the University" -- refused bowl bonuses to 10 non-coach staff members.

• He also paid a five-year longevity bonus of $15,337.50 due to tight ends coach Dave Johnson when he took a job at West Virginia in 2008 just short of his fifth anniversary coaching at UGA and $6,000 to fired defensive ends coach Jon Fabris in 2010 when Fabris was unable to find a job after his UGA severance package expired.
Upshot: Mark Richt has handed out at least $75,000 of his own money over the last three years to coaches who either (a) didn't get the raises/bonuses he felt they deserved or (b) lost their jobs. And this resulted in a bazillion secondary violations and an accompanying letter of admonishment from Georgia. I'm giving this a 17 out of 10 on the "inexplicable NCAA violations" scale. Mark Richt: You are awesome.

One other thing: Georgia's football program had a net profit of $52 million last year (only Texas was higher nationally) and a net athletic department profit of $11.7 million. Think about it.

Comeuppance of the kinda-acceptable variety

So ... Ohio State. You know the story by now: one-year postseason ban (no Big Ten championship game or bowl), loss of nine scholarships spread over the next three years, probation and a five-year show-cause penalty for Jim Tressel.

I'm filing this under "acceptable," which is a small victory in the world of NCAA illogicality. I used to say things like "I'll lose all respect for the NCAA if (insert hypothetical and fair scenario here)." I lost respect for the NCAA a long time ago as I gained the realization that the NCAA has no real police power whatsoever. It's an organization almost totally dependent on schools doing the policing, which would be like asking the fox to police the hen house if the hens were both delicious and stuffed with money (mmmm, money hens). I've lowered my standards quite a bit; they hit rock bottom with the Cam Newton debacle.

The postseason ban is a real, tangible-ish penalty that will negatively affect Ohio State for at least the next year. So that's good. Like I said yesterday, I was expecting an NCAA tsk-tsk followed by an Urban Meyer tickling session and the continuation of my general frustration level.

But the reason it's "acceptable" and not "OMG YES SUCKEYES LOL" is two-fold: (a) it still doesn't align with precedent or the NCAA's stated desire to make it so schools "can no longer do a cost-benefit analysis of cheating" and (b) the long-term damage is minimal.

As for the precedent thing, I'm not just talking about USC. All those comparisons were interesting but not totally valid because the cases have a lot of differences, but if you break it down to just football, USC's penalties (a two-year bowl ban and 30 scholarships over three years) were still more than twice what Ohio State got despite having just one player involved in impermissible benefits (albeit at a much higher dollar amount) and one assistant coach who was very tenuously connected to him by a single picture. There was talk that the "lack of institutional control" charge and widespread indifference toward compliance bumped the penalties up a couple degrees, but I doubt it doubled them. So the Ohio State case was somehow deemed less severe even though there was documentation of widespread impermissible benefits -- including some from a big-money booster given access to the program -- for a bazillion athletes followed by an entire year of coverup by the head coach. It's hard to reconcile the penalties and the established facts of the cases.

But again, I'm not just talking about USC. The Committee on Infractions has established a precedent over the last several years: two units of punishment for one unit of screw-up. I can't find a specific link, so just look up any case from the last five-ish years and compare the punishment to the crimes. A 20-hour overage of countable practice time typically results in 40 hours of lost practice time over the next couple years. Improper benefits to three athletes for a year usually results in six lost scholarships for a year or two. And so on. Those are obviously flexible based on the circumstances, but they serve as a pretty good starting point when schools self-impose whatever they choose to self-impose.

A two-for-one situation with Ohio State would have yielded roughly the following: 16 lost scholarships per year for the next two years (eight players known to have received impermissible benefits) a two-year bowl ban (since the Tat 5 all played in last year's Sugar Bowl while known by Tressel to be ineligible) and two lost coaching-staff positions for one or two years (the Tressel fallout). The Gene Smith/Gordon Gee hilarity and lack of cooperation from Terrelle Pryor also should have affected things negatively given the COI's response to USC's consistent disregard for everything. Keep in mind that Tressel was never officially punished (he retired with benefits and pension intact) and the school did nothing of note until the "failure to monitor" charge came down, at which point a token scholarship reduction was put in place. Clearly, the actual punishment didn't come close to the two-for-one stuff. I'm not sure why, but it's the NCAA, so that's why. Dr. Saturday offers this:
The double standard is obvious enough. And the reason is just as clear: The NCAA is significantly less concerned with actions that is with reactions.
Pretty much. More on the cost-benefit thing momentarily.

As for the long-term thing ... yeah. Three lost scholarships per year for the next three years is not going to put Ohio State at a significant competitive disadvantage, especially with a guy who's raking in five-stars at a ridiculous rate. The next few classes will just get the fat cut off the bottom, which might have an impact on depth but shouldn't make a serious impact on overall quality.

The one-year bowl ban is even less damaging in that regard. It's probably the most embarrassing from a program/institution standpoint (excellent) but really doesn't mean much in the big picture. USC's two-year deal was waaay more painful because it cut the meaningful portion out of half of the incoming recruits' careers. That created an actual deterrent to committing to USC for high-end guys like DeAnthony Thomas with other comparable options. Ohio State's top commits are already coming out and saying they're solid, which makes sense since a postseason ban during your redshirt/backup season doesn't mean a whole lot. Long story short, I don't think the postseason ban will have any real effect on Ohio State's ability to win at any point in the future. I'm happy about it purely because of the embarrassment it represents to Gene Smith and everybody other snarky Ohio State fanboi who said things like this:
"It will be hilarious to watch the tears of the Ohio State-haters, though. They will be glorious, so let those tears flow. So much faux-anger about 20 year olds getting discounted tattoos and a few hundred bucks -- I can't wait. And when that biblical flood of tears come -- and it will come, my friends -- here's what I propose be the official reaction of every Ohio State fan to the haters: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯."
If you're wondering what their actual reaction was, their site was completely down after the penalties came out. Same with Bucknuts. In reality, they should be thankful for anything short of a USC-style cratering; I assure you that they are not since they still think Jim Tressel is God and believe Gene Smith can shoot a 38-under (with five aces!) in his first-ever round of golf.

Gratuitous picture:

Just replace "Americans" with "violations" and "Baghdad" with "Columbus" and that is absolutely perfect.

Jim Tressel has essentially been banned from coaching for the next five years; that's two more years than Bruce Pearl got and half of what Dave Bliss got for covering up a murder (!!!) that revealed his direct payments to players at Baylor. There was obviously some NCAA acknowledgment that a lot of stuff happened and a lot of nothing was done about it. But at the end of the day, the extent of the "punishment" amounts to erasing the 2010 season from history (impossible since it definitely happened), trading Tressel for Urban Meyer, cutting a couple third-stringers and missing the 2013 Capital One Bowl (or whatever). The fact that this is acceptable and borderline woo-worthy says a lot more about the NCAA than it does about the punishment.

Here's the full quote (courtesy the Los Angeles Times) from NCAA president Mark Emmert about the aforementioned cost-benefit thing:

Is addressing this deteriorating reputation your most important job?

Yes. The most important thing right now is for everyone in college sports to know they can no longer do a cost-benefit analysis of cheating.

Let's do one for Ohio State anyway. The cost: The stuff in the previous paragraph. The benefit (and I'm assuming the shenanigans were going on for a while given Maurice Clarett, Troy Smith and Tressel's not-so-coincidental violations at Youngstown State): seven Big Ten championships, an 8-1 record against Michigan, eight BCS bowl games, a national championship and roughly $500 million in revenue* in Tressel's 10 years. Think they'd give all that stuff back for the 2013 Capital One Bowl? /rhetorical question.

If the goal is to ensure schools "know they can no longer do a cost-benefit analysis of cheating," the NCAA is failing miserably. Hammering USC was a step in that direction; the Ohio State thing is a step sideways.

FYI, this has nothing to do with the weird argument that the NCAA is in bed with the big money schools. The NCAA makes zero money from FBS football; all TV revenue and BCS payouts go to the conferences and all bowl payouts go directly to the schools. Almost exactly 90 percent of the NCAA's total revenue comes from the TV rights to the basketball tournament, and while there's probably some incalculable benefit to the schools with large fan bases being more visible in revenue sports, the NCAA has not suffered financially during the periods in which USC/Alabama/Ohio State/Michigan/Notre Dame whoever was blah. This is a weak-minded excuse for the kind of tinfoil-hat-wearing people who fill the ESPN comments sections with "ref$" and "O$U" and "RABBLE RABBLE CONSPIRACY RABBLE." The NCAA isn't a gigantic conspiracy; it just inherently lacks organization and real power because of the fox-in-the-hen-house thing. That's why my expectations are (generally) impossibly low.

A decade of blatant rule-flouting and competitive advantages should be punished with more than a year of quasi-irrelevance. This is not debatable. I'll just have to take solace in some tears of unfathomable sadness, Jim Tressel never coaching in college again** and Ohio State playing a bunch of pointless games next year in exchange for a cripple fight against Florida next week, a game that could/should have been sacrificed but wasn't because of Gene Smith's total inability to grasp reality.

*Granted, that number isn't substantially higher than it would be for a so-so Ohio State program, but with the BCS appearances and merchandise sales and whatnot, I'm sure it's higher.

**Tressel will be 64 when his show-cause expires, and nobody (other than maybe Akron) is gonna be willing to get hit with a one-year postseason ban just to hire Jim Tressel and hope that a few years of winning will offset the smoking crater of NCAA violations he'll leave behind. Jim Tressel = John Calipari?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ohio State "stunned" = everyone else satisfied

The NCAA today stunned Ohio State University’s football program by banning it from postseason play after the 2012 season, multiple sources told The Dispatch. The penalty means Ohio State automatically is out of the running for any bowl, or a Big Ten or national championship next year, just as newly appointed head coach Urban Meyer is wooing recruits to the Buckeyes.

Athletic Director Gene Smith said previously that while Ohio State has been declared a repeat violator that failed to properly monitor its football program, a bowl ban would be out of line with penalties handed to universities with similar violations. In its ruling to be made public this afternoon, the NCAA Committee of Infractions will levy the bowl ban and two other penalties on top of the ones the university already imposed on itself, the sources said. The NCAA will:

* Strip four more football scholarships over the next three years on top of Ohio State’s prior forfeiture of five scholarships over that span.

* Add an additional year of probation to OSU’s self-imposed two-year probation for the football program, meaning any violations through the 2013 season could draw harsher-than-normal penalties.

The NCAA also will hand a show-cause penalty to former head coach Jim Tressel for failing to report that some team members improperly sold memorabilia and for allowing ineligible players to compete throughout the 2010 season.

The show-cause penalty against Tressel signifies he is a serious offender and means that any NCAA school that hires him could be subject to sanctions for appointing him as football coach absent a showing it should escape penalties.
Those aren't USC-level obliterations but also aren't meaningless. Given my expectations of an NCAA tsk-tsk followed by giggly tickling, my reaction:

Woo. More later.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Catching up is dangerous in the locker room

Penn State has some issues: This is clearly not the worst thing that's happened at Penn State this season but is still pretty problematic:

Starting quarterback Matt McGloin was injured Saturday following practice after getting into a scuffle with wide receiver Curtis Drake at the Lasch Football Building.

Punches were thrown. McGloin slipped to the ground and hit his head after being punched by Drake, sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

McGloin's father, Paul, said his son suffered a seizure and has a possible concussion but was back at his apartment Saturday night after being treated at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

The fight was allegedly some sort of carryover thing from practice earlier in the day; how exactly it got to the point it did hasn't been clarified, although McGloin took responsibility Monday:
"I started it, but as a quarterback for this university, I should be held to a higher standard. It should not have happened. I should've walked away from it."
McGloin is officially listed as "questionable" for the TicketCity Bowl, which is unfortunate since he pretty well solidified himself as the starter over the last month of the season by being decent. Rob Bolden was downright awful this year (42 percent passing with a touchdown and four picks), and his recent arrest on theft charges (of a Gatorade???) might result in a bowl-game suspension. So McGloin might be hurt, Bolden might be suspended and the only other option at QB is walk-on Shane McGregor, who's thrown four career passes. Woo.

The good news: McGloin's only a redshirt junior, so he'll be back next year regardless (barring some unlikely long-term medical issue). BTW, the fact that he's basically guaranteed a starting spot for the remainder of his career says a lot more about the crater behind him on the depth chart than it does about McGloin since he was 89th in the country in pass efficiency this year. Bolden's a mess and redshirt freshman Paul Jones will supposedly be the savior but first has to dig himself out of academic ineligibility and actually, like, play a game. We'll see. Drake's status is less relevant but not meaningless since he does play some Wildcat QB and has a handful of carries and a handful of catches this year. I won't be surprised if he's gone entirely given his two previous fights that both resulted in disorderly conduct charges. Anger management FTW.

As for Penn State ... umm ... yeesh. I have to believe whatever slim chance Tom Bradley had at getting the permanent job is out the window now. The program is so toxic in every way right now that I don't think there's any plausible justification for promoting a current assistant rather than starting over and building something new. It kinda sounds like that was already the assessment anyway, although nobody's totally sure who the "starting over" guy is. The widely circulated names: Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, Harvard coach Tim Murphy and Baylor associate head coach Brian Norwood (?). Remember when the Penn State job looked uber-desirable? That was two months ago.

Fresno State finds a coach: It's Tim DeRuyter, who's been Texas A&M's defensive coordinator for the last two years and made a name for himself at Air Force before that. DeRuyter was gonna get a head coaching job soon; he's been very good for the last five-ish years and has moved up at a pretty meteoric rate considering that he was Navy's secondary coach a decade ago. The meaningful portion of his resume: three years as D-coordinator at Ohio, two years as D-coordinator at Nevada, three years as D-coordinator at Air Force and two years as D-coordinator at A&M.

This year's A&M defense was pretty blah (65th in yardage, 76th in scoring), but last year's was pretty solid (55th and 34th) and looked freakin' amazing compared to the black hole of suckitude that preceded it. A&M's 2009 defense was 105th in both scoring and yardage, and the '08 defense was somehow even worse at 114th (!) in both categories. That is awful. DeRuyter's defenses at Air Force were 51st, 50th and 11th in yardage and 22nd, 43rd and 10th in scoring. That is good.

So DeRuyter can definitely run a defense. He's also only 48 and has spent most of the last decade in the Southwest-ish region, both of which were probably pluses for whoever was running the search at Fresno State. The minuses: He's never been a head coach and he's going to a place with high (maybe unreasonably high) expectations. Pat Hill slipped a little toward the end but still went 86-58 over the last decade with just two losing seasons before getting fired a couple weeks ago. In other words, just win the WAC on a fairly regular basis and you'll be fine. DeRuyter's a pretty good hire but will probably never be what Pat Hill was in his prime; just getting close would probably be sufficient to get him a BCS-conference job in the near future.

Mark Stoops is totally happy with his current job and probable raise: The rumored Mark Stoops-to-Auburn thing is apparently off:
Two sources have confirmed with the Tallahassee Democrat that Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is not planning to leave for Auburn or any other university.
That was the extent of the story as of Sunday night. Hooray for details. Stoops is making about $440,000 at Florida State and was allegedly offered about $1.1 million by Gene Chizik; the Auburn insanity apparently isn't worth an extra $600,000 a year. And yes, Stoops is probably worth it. It's easy to forget just how awful the FSU defense was a couple years ago (108th in yardage) and how fast it went from terrible to good (42nd in yardage and 20th in scoring last year) to awesome (sixth and yardage and fourth in scoring this year). That's all Stoops.

Where Auburn goes next is unknown since Stoops was the only guy publicly on the radar for the last week. I'm guessing a million bucks a year will lure somebody respectable.

I will be Pitt's coach for the next 17 minutes: Here's an amusing stat: Whoever gets hired as Pitt's next coach will be the sixth guy to hold that job in the last 12 months. Think about that. Six head coaches (!!!) in one year. The rundown: Dave Wannstedt ("resigned" on December 7 last year), Phil Bennett (interim coach for the Whatever Bowl), Mike Haywood (hired and fired in the span of a two weeks after an extremely untimely domestic assault), Todd Graham (bailed for ASU last week), Keith Patterson (current interim coach) and Unknown New Guy who will probably have a $50 billion buyout.

FYI, there are a bunch of people saying Florida International coach Mario Cristobal has been offered the job and may or may not have accepted it, although the school issued the typical "blah blah internet rabble" denial that means nothing. The other guys known to have interviewed: Luke Fickell (?) and Wisconsin O-coordinator Paul Chryst, who's interviewed for roughly 43 jobs in the past year and will probably get one eventually.

Urban Meyer is amused by recruiting-related skepticism: I mentioned last week that there's a little bit of a blogosphere debate regarding Urban Meyer and whether he's actually good at recruiting or just good at acquiring highly ranked players (there's a not-insignificant difference there). That's a question for about five years from now. As of right now, Meyer is crushing fools: Ohio State has signed two five-stars (DE Noah Spence and DT Tommy Schutt) and a four-star (DE SeVon Pittman) in the last week. Pittman was expected; the other two were not and are legitimately big-time prospects.

Ohio State will probably end up with a really good class despite all the stuff. The reason I say "probably" is the ginormous caveat: the stuff. Word on the interwebz is that the NCAA's final ruling is supposed to come out this week, and if it's bad, any/all of those highly rated commits could be gone. OSU has been selling the "we're expecting puppy dogs and rainbows" pitch to everybody in hopes that it's accurate. It might not be.

A bunch of guys be gone: Justin Blackmon, Matt Kalil, Nick Perry and Lamar Miller have all declared for the draft. Boo. LaMichael James had reportedly joined them but said Monday that he actually won't make a decision/announcement until after the Rose Bowl (MEDIA Y U LIE). So that's temporarily pleasing. RGIII is saying similar things but also has his parents interviewing agents, which yeah I can see where this is going.

Craig James hahahahaha: Craig James' murder of five hookers nationwide popularity has clearly reached a tipping point:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- College football analyst Craig James, who starred as a tailback at Southern Methodist University and with the New England Patriots in the 1980s, left ESPN on Monday and entered the Republican race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Texas.

James, who appeared on the cable network's weekly game broadcasts, had been flirting with entering politics for more than year but has not held public office. He submitted his paperwork to the Republican Party of Texas Monday, the last day of the normal filing period.
Upshot: Everybody wins (except Texas). This explains everything.

The awesomeness of meaningless bowls

There is no reason whatsoever to have 35 bowl games. Teams that go 6-6 (or 6-7 haha UCLA) do not deserve to be rewarded for blah seasons or get suckered into paying a couple million bucks in exchange for a trip to Boise.


The stuff I wrote above and the video that would have made Gus Johnson's soul escape his body* are not mutually exclusive. There is nothing significant or meaningful about Wyoming playing Temple in the middle of December to decide which team gets a ninth win. I will remember nothing from that game in a year. But I still remember this:

Ridonkulous. BTW, that's from the 2001 GMAC Bowl, which is right up there with the '05 Rose Bowl as one of the greatest games I've ever seen, full stop.

I'm not really sure why I'm writing this other than to justify spending nine-ish hours watching mediocre teams play each other so I can suck every ounce of football out of the marrow of this dying season. I guess I also wanted a place to put this ...

... which I'm not sure is physically possible and therefore KICKER Y U WIZARD, and this ...

... which seemed like a pretty awesome ending until this:

Yes. Awesome games are awesome.

*That was Louisiana-Lafeyette's first bowl win. Ever. And they needed a borderline-miraculous call and then a 50-yard field goal to get it in a game that featured 19 points in the final 5:40 and nine points in the final 32 seconds (lol wwwhheeeeee). Celebration deserved.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The best crappy bowl game ever

Virginia Tech has sold about half its allotment of 17,500 Sugar Bowl tickets. That's not good (duh) and has resulted in an embarrassing yet hilarious plea for fans/boosters to buy tickets even if they aren't going. Seriously:
Over the years, Virginia Tech has earned the reputation of being a football program that enjoys a strong following to bowl games. In order to maintain that recognition, the Athletics Department is asking Hokie fans that cannot make this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl to consider purchasing proxy tickets. Tech Director of Athletics Jim Weaver, head football coach Frank Beamer, and the entire football coaching staff, will each be purchasing a pair of proxy tickets in order to support this initiative.

All proxy tickets will be distributed to military and charitable organizations. To order your proxy tickets, please log on to or call the Athletics Ticket Office at (540) 231-6731 or 1-800 VA TECH4 (828-3244).
Translation: Give us some face-saving money plzkthx. Michigan might actually have the attendance advantage at a bowl game for the first time in the history of bowl games.

That would be my amusing bowl story of the day if not for East Carolina. East Carolina finished 5-7 and therefore obviously isn't playing in a bowl game. But somebody in the ECU athletic department realized that buying tickets to the Bowl, buying tickets to a game you aren't going to and just giving money to your football program of choice are all pretty much the same thing and launched the best marketing campaign EVER:
The Pirate Club is excited to announce the 2011 Virtual Bowl. Our challenge will be to sell more tickets than our bowl-bound Conference USA opponents and bowl-bound teams from the Big East. The Virtual Bowl appeal will go through December 23.

Tickets for the Virtual Bowl are $50 a piece and can be purchase by calling the Pirate Club Offices at 252-737-4540 or by going online at Virtual Bowl tickets purchased will be tax deductable and donors will receive one priority point for every ticket purchased. All proceeds from the Virtual Bowl will go towards the “Step-Up To The Highest Level Campaign." Go Pirates!
I'm speechless. This is a total money-grabbing scam but is also awesome because of the somewhat-legitimate possibility that East Carolina will sell more tickets to an imaginary game (albeit at a lower price) than some schools will sell to actual bowl games.

I will have infinite respect for ECU's fan base if this happens. Make it so.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It took 16 days to find Todd Graham?

I came across a quote recently that now seems quite appropriate:
"If I had to put my finger on anything, it's the notion that ... once the job is open, they're going to be banging my door down, and I'm going to pick and choose among all the great candidates. The only question is, which of these great coaches will I invite? ...

"There hadn't been any preparation for this that I could see. Nothing that said, 'We need to get ready for this.' And then it started to unravel."
That comment came from longtime Michigan faculty spokesman Percy Bates after the total debacle that was the 2007 coaching search. I've referenced that search-type thing several times on this site but never fully explained exactly how much of a debacle it really was.

In relatively condensed form (courtesy of Three and Out): Bill Martin had Kirk Ferentz at the top of his list but was immediately shot down by president Mary Sue Coleman, so he moved on to Tony Dungy only to realize that he was actually running a college program and not an NFL team. He told the six-person search committee he had no interest in Brian Kelly and "didn't want" Les Miles. He then went on vacation with a new cell phone that he didn't know how to use (guh) just as the Les Miles story broke on ESPN, and nobody -- including Miles' agent, who had actually been trying to make Miles' interest in the job known -- could reach him for an entire weekend. Martin then flew to New York, met with Greg Schiano and offered him the job despite never informing the search committee that he was considering Schiano. Schiano accepted the job, then changed his mind the next morning, at which point Michigan decided Miles was looking pretty good. So Martin and Coleman called Miles, who told them that he "would never say no to Michigan" but couldn't do anything until after the national title game (this was after his "great team yadda yadda" presser). Since Lloyd Carr hates Les Miles with the fire of a million suns, Carr personally called Rich Rodriguez (!), encouraged him to consider the Michigan job and then pushed his name to Martin as a candidate. A meeting was scheduled, an offer was made on the spot since it was the middle of December and RichRod accepted a day later after a less-than-encouraging talk with West Virginia president Michael Garrison.

Since you probably skimmed most of that, I'll summarize: There was an AD nominally running the search, a president overruling him and overseeing him (sometimes out of necessity because of incompetence), a search committee that had no real authority or influence, a person pulling strings and sabotaging the search from the inside and no real plan or direction despite having a full year of advance warning that a search was gonna be necessary. This is how you end up offering the job to somebody at an impromptu meeting on December 14 with no real negotiations. Again: debacle.

There is a point to all this, BTW. Arizona State just hired Todd Graham after a 16-day search that featured all the same insanity, incompetence and total lack of direction. I'm fairly confident that Kevin Sumlin was at the top of a very short list; once he bailed due to googly eyes for Texas A&M, everything fell apart. The next two weeks produced an ever-growing pile of evidence that Lisa Love and Steve Patterson and Michael Crow and whoever else may or may not have been involved* had absolutely no idea what they were doing. The June Jones "haha just kidding" ridiculousness sits atop that pile. I don't know what happened that day; all I know is that there was either no advance discussion with the prominent boosters or no advance approval from Crow. Both of those things are inexplicable given that a contract was already on the table.

Exactly one week of total silence later, Todd Graham was announcing his exit from Pitt via text message with the explanation that he didn't have time to meet with his players because of the "timing of the circumstances." I doubt there was a long negotiation process, which means the past six days were either perfectly organized and kept totally under wraps or were spent figuring out WTF to do next.
So ... Todd Graham. He's 47 and will be coaching his fourth school in six years, which represents sort of a pattern. Inevitable reaction: OMG HE'S LANE KIFFIN WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!? Pitt wideout Devin Street went ape on Twitter, which if nothing else is good to document hilarious reactions to things.

The idea that coaches have some unwritten-but-required loyalty to their programs and players is almost as laughable as the idea of a coach's contract meaning anything in terms of job security. Yet this story gets written every year about (insert coach here) leaving (insert program here) for (insert slightly better program here) after (insert number of years here). People say dumb things, a new coach gets hired, everybody moves on, rinse, repeat.

I remember when a bunch of Cincinnati players' heads exploded because Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame after issuing a bunch of standard non-denial denials, which ... umm ... really? And Kyle Turley is still OUTRAGED that Brady Hoke left San Diego State for Michigan. Mmmkay. Whether or not leaving a job on little/zero notice is ideal is irrelevant; it's the way it works now. Any 20-year-old who's still naive enough to think these guys are 100 percent committed to the place they're at and wouldn't bail for Dream Job X or a significantly bigger paycheck is extremely naive. Student-athlete, meet real world.

ESPN blogger Ted Miller said it best:
Look, folks: Being a college football coach is a job. It is not a charitable calling. Loyalty? There are going to be more than 25 coaching changes next fall. There are 120 FBS teams. The nature of the business is to get fired or to climb. It's best to do the latter.

Todd Graham wants to coach at Arizona State more than Pittsburgh. Most folks would. So instead of doing something he doesn't want to do, he's doing what he wants to. His only loyalty should be to his family and friends, not his bosses.

Some will throw around insults like "liar." They will say things like Graham told his players he was staying. Well, he was staying. Until he got a better offer. The lesson the players should learn from this is to be ambitious and to learn how the big-boy world works. In other words, Graham just helped them grow up.
BOOM ESPN'D. Climb or (eventually) be fired. I don't have any issue with a guy jumping around from job to job; the only downside is that hiring said guy means there's a good chance you're looking for a different guy in the near future. The chances of significant long-term success are an order of magnitude lower with a guy who probably won't be the long-term coach one way or another.

As for the coaching stuff, it's funny how everybody jumps on the whole "high-octane" thing and goes ZOMG OFFENSE TULSA WWHHEEEE (I've clearly spent too much time on the internet today). Graham was Tulsa's defensive coordinator and West Virginia's co-defensive coordinator before that. His background: defense. It's the thing that's not the offense. He definitely has an offensive philosophy, so to speak, but he's not the guy responsible for all the stuff at Tulsa. I've seen this paragraph (or a variation of it) reproduced in about eight different places today:
His Tulsa teams led the nation in total offense in 2007 (543.9 yards per game) and 2008 (569.9). The 2007 team posted a 63-7 victory over Bowling Green in the GMAC Bowl, and the '08 team followed with a 45-13 victory over Ball State in the GMAC Bowl.
Know who the offensive coordinator was in 2007 and '08? Gus Malzahn, who was fresh off a year of insanity at Arkansas. Malzahn left for Auburn after that, at which point the offense regressed to mediocrity en route to a 5-7 finish in '09. Result: Graham went out and hired Chad Morris, who took the offense right back to awesomeness and is now getting paid a ridonkulous $1.3 million as O-coordinator at Clemson.

Here's Graham's record at Tulsa:

2007: 10-4 (first nationally in total offense under Malzahn, 108th in total defense)
2008: 11-3 (first nationally in total offense under Malzahn, 74th in total defense)
2009: 5-7 (35th in total offense under Herb Hand, 85th in total defense)
2010: 10-3 (fifth in total offense under Chad Morris, 111th in total defense)

Takeaways: His overall success coincided directly with having an elite O-coordinator and his defenses were consistently bad. That seems potentially problematic for a guy whose primary emphasis is defense. BTW, his one year at Rice was almost identical: a pretty good offense led by Major Applewhite (who's now co-coordinator at Texas) and a terrible defense, with those two variants combining to produce a 7-6 record at a place coming off a 1-11 season.

The promising thing there (other than the record, obviously) is that he twice went out and found under-the-radar guys who turned out to be amazing coordinators. ASU might (emphasis on might) actually have the money to keep a Chad Morris-caliber coordinator if that guy were to matriculate out of a haboob in 2013. I say 2013 because it apparently won't happen this year: Graham is reportedly bringing co-offensive coordinator Mike Norvell from Pitt, which is good in a familiarity sense but not so great from a results-to-date sense. Norvell has been a co-coordinator for all of one year, basically working under Calvin Magee at Pitt before Magee left last week to work with RichRod at Arizona (mmmm, irony). He's never called plays, and anything that can be gleaned from last year's results (84th in yardage, 70th in scoring) isn't very useful since Tino Sunseri is not good and Ray Graham was on pace for about 1,800 yards before blowing out his knee. I'm willing to reserve judgment on Norvell; still, I can't get too excited about a guy who's been almost solely a receivers coach so far and doesn't have a resume even remotely comparable to Morris or Malzahn, both of whom were being nationally recognized as high school coaches for destroying everybody. Having a high-octane offense is dependent on having a coordinator capable of coaching it well.

The defense is another matter. Graham's involvement on that side of the ball is pretty fuzzy; he talks more about the speed of the offense and the "vision" and random other buzzwords of choice. The guy to know: Keith Patterson, who's been Graham's D-coordinator ever since Graham got promoted to head coach at Tulsa and will reportedly join him at ASU after the BJDSFKDF Compass Bowl.

Patterson's history (I already listed the craptacular Tulsa numbers but will put retype them here for ease of reading):

2007: 108th in total defense, 100th in scoring defense
2008: 74th in total defense, 75th in scoring defense
2009: 85th in total defense, 74th in scoring defense
2010: 111th in total defense, 85th in scoring defense
2011: 41st in total defense, 33rd in scoring defense

The 2011 jump might have had more to do with the defensive talent in place at Pitt than any coaching revelation; the microscopic sample size there makes it kinda hard to make any grand conclusions. Zooming out, there's really nothing to show Patterson is an above-average D-coordinator. FYI, Graham's numbers at Tulsa were quite a bit better: 21st and 40th in yardage in his two years. Unfortunately for him and probably for ASU, his defensive influence apparently ceased existing once he became head coach.

In the big picture, if you're looking for clues from his year at Pitt ... umm ... good luck. The offense wasn't very good and the defense was a little above average, but those both come with pretty significant caveats because of injuries and sample size and the Big East and whatnot. The Tulsa/Rice record (43-23) looks impressive on the surface but cracks a little with analysis of exactly how/when those teams succeeded. Consistently hiring good coordinators is a skill that I praise all the time and believe is massively underrated, and Graham has a history of doing that on offense. That's the good news. The bad news: A coach relying on good coordinators only wins as long as he has, like, good coordinators, and neither guy coming to ASU has the resume of a good coordinator (not yet, anyway).

Just to be clear, Graham's not a bad hire. ASU could have done worse (Mike Martz gack). I just look at a guy with a debatable role in his successful years and one 6-6 year at a comparable program and think, "meh." The upside seems relatively low barring him stumbling into the next Chip Kelly/Gus Malzahn at some point in the not-too-distant future. Frankly, I'd have preferred June Jones given the guaranteed passing-game dominance and the almost-guaranteed (even if moderate) improvement in wins. Todd Graham offers neither of those, zero promise of long-term stability and zero local recruiting connections.

This was from my Dennis Erickson post-mortem thing:
Somebody in my office threw out an interesting stat the other day: Erickson averaged 6.2 wins a year. Dirk Koetter averaged 6.7. Bruce Snyder averaged 6.4. Since Frank Kush retired in 1979, the 32-year average is 6.7 wins. The mediocrity: It's stifling.

Going back to what I said earlier, ASU isn't USC. An average-ish coach will produce average-ish results since there aren't any obvious program advantages. This program can be better -- just look at what Mike Bellotti did at Oregon (although he had Phil Knight pulling some strings) and what Rich Rodriguez did at West Virginia and what Mike Leach did at Texas Tech and what Joe Tiller did at Purdue and what Art Briles is doing at Baylor (Baylor!). None of those last four schools has any more geographical/financial/historical advantages than ASU; they succeeded/are succeeding because they found a coach who did/does some systematic thing really well and used it to win a bunch of games and get things figuratively snowballing.
Outside of the excessive use of forward slashes, the takeaway there: It's hard to consistently win more than about six games a year at ASU. It can be done by the right guy (GUS MALZAHN Y U NO LIKE THE OTHER ASU?), but I'm having a hard time finding anything that'll make me believe Graham is that guy. I don't even think Lisa Love believes it:
"Criteria for our head coach was established, and the word that was at the forefront of discussions was 'energy' ... energy towards promoting our program in the community and with former players.
Errr yes. Energy. That's the ticket. There's one fundamental thing Lisa Love doesn't understand (Greg Byrne does and thus will pwn her until she gets fired at some point in the near future): In college sports, your program is only as good as your coach. Period.

Todd Graham seems to be a slightly above-average** coach. That's fine given some of the alternatives and the disaster of a coaching search, but ... I mean ... 6.7 wins, man.
. . . . .

*A co-worker with a prominent ASU connection described the Love/Patterson/Crow mess as "a two-headed dog that's blind in both heads." Seems about right.

**This really ranges from "average" to "good" depending on the quality of his offensive coordinator at any given time. With Norvell calling plays, I'm filing him a little closer to "average."

The Gus Malzahn weirdness

I was actually working on a post yesterday about how it was possible that Gus Malzahn had been passed over for half a dozen BCS-conference coaching jobs that went to guys with (arguably) less impressive resumes. And then he got hired:
JONESBORO, Ark. -- Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will be the new football coach at Arkansas State.

Sports information director Jerry Scott said that Malzahn will be introduced as the new coach during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
So ... ummm ... WHAT?!? We're talking about arguably the best offensive coordinator in the country. The guy has a national championship ring and six years of D-I coordinator experience, with all of them awesome except the last one. He turned down the Vanderbilt job last year, was allegedly the frontrunner at North Carolina forever and was on every list made by every person over the last two weeks. And he's now leaving Auburn to take over Arkansas State, where he'll be voluntarily cutting his salary in half to about $600,000 a year to run a zero-prominence Sun Belt program.

How did this happen? Why are presumably intelligent and successful people passing on Gus Malzahn to hire Tim Beckman and Jim Mora Jr. (?!?) and Todd Graham, and why is Gus Malzahn leaving Auburn to go to Arkansas State (State!)?

I'm not Gus Malzahn or Gus Malzahn's agent and therefore really don't have an answer. I have to assume he would have been considered for at least a couple of those jobs, so the lack of even tenuous rumored/sourced connections probably means he shot down any interest from the outset. My guess is that he really prefers to stay in the Southeast. Again, he nearly accepted the Vanderbilt job last year and was known to have talked with Arkansas in '07 and North Carolina at some point before Larry Fedora was hired. The extent of his job history also backs up the Southeast thing: Arkansas high school coach, Arkansas offensive coordinator, Tulsa offensive coordinator (after he left Arkansas amid the whole Mitch Mustain/Houston Nutt debacle), Auburn offensive coordinator. His entire life has been spent in about an 800-mile radius (all to the south) of Arkansas, which is where he grew up.

There's probably something to be said for going home and yadda yadda yadda. There's also something to be said for being able to run a program the way you want to run a program, which in Malzahn's case isn't insignificant. There are places where politics and hobnobbing and whatnot are as important as, like, winning and stuff; I'm pretty sure Arkansas State isn't one of those places. He'll have to deal with little other than actual coaching-type things.

As for the better jobs, I'm curious as to whether the lack of head coaching experience was much of an issue. UCLA and ASU made a pretty big deal about that being a prerequisite, so maybe he figured he needed a rung-on-the-ladder type of job just to get it on his resume. Look at Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss: One year of successful coaching = many years of successful coordinator-ing. Speaking of Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State went 10-2 this year. Winning the Sun Belt next year with the senior version of Ryan Aplin looks totally doable, and that might be sufficient to bump Malzahn from "awesome coordinator" to "legitimate coach" and get him the non-blah coaching offers he presumably wants (more on that momentarily).

I have no interest in breaking down how good or bad the Arkansas State job is and what the long-term outlook is; the school's statement that "It's pretty incredible" tells the story. My interest is more in Malzahn and what exactly he wants to do. He could be running the show at Vanderbilt right now but chose not to for reasons nobody's totally sure of (maybe the academics, maybe the difficulty of every winning more than six games, etc.). It must not have been an issue of holding out for a better offer given the events of the last 24 hours. He also could have been a candidate at any number of other places but again (apparently) chose not to. Those things are kinda hard to reconcile with his introduction at Arkansas State. His stock definitely dropped some this year since Auburn couldn't find a quarterback or get first downs against Alabama, but it didn't drop that much considering what he had to work with (basically the '08 Michigan offense dropped into the SEC West).

There's really only one explanation I can come up with: He wants to be a head coach, wants to be in the Southeast and wants a real (non-Vandy) SEC job with a real shot at real success, with Arkansas State representing the easiest/most logical path for a kid from northern Arkansas. I say that's the only explanation because every other logical one ends with him (a) being the head coach at Vandy or North Carolina or Illinois or wherever or (b) continuing to get paid $1.3 million by Auburn to be one of the elite O-coordinators in the country.

Since none of those things are happening, I'm hoping the Arkansas State thing works out in terms of career progression. I hate the idea of arguably the best and most creative offensive mind in the country being relegated to WhoCares University in Nowheresville, Arkansas (yes, selfish writer is selfish).

You're a little late, Mountain West

Full disclosure: I am totally against BCS autobids. I hate 8-4 Big East teams playing in the Fiesta Bowl just because the Big East is allegedly the equivalent of the SEC/Big Ten/etc. That said, if you're in the top six-ish in the polls, you should get to play in a BCS game. Autobids shouldn't really be necessary in that regard but might be. I can live with the latter given the current system.

The Mountain West wants the former:
The Mountain West Conference is making a pitch for automatic entry in college football's Bowl Championship Series the next two seasons.

School presidents and chancellors on the league's board of directors voted Monday to submit the request, which, if approved, would assure its champion a berth in the BCS' five-game lineup at the end of the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The league can point, among other things, to four top-10 finishes and 10 top-25 finishes in the BCS team rankings in the last four years, ending with this one. Boise State was No. 7 and TCU No. 18 this season.

That was part of the competitive criteria the Mountain West had to meet to make the automatic-qualification request.
So the Mountain West has actually reached the competitive requirements for an autobid, which are based on various things like cumulative win percentage and top-10 finishes over a rolling four-year period. Awesome. That's more than the Big East has done over the last four years; I guarantee that's part of the argument.

Here's the rest of the argument:

2011: No. 6 Boise State
2010: No. 2 (!) TCU, No. 9 Boise State
2009: No. 4 Boise State, No. 6 TCU
2008: No. 2 Utah, No. 7 TCU

That's ... like ... impressive. The problem (besides counting two of Boise State's WAC seasons): None of those teams will be in the Mountain West after this year. Utah is already gone, Boise State is headed to the Big East and TCU is headed to the Big 12. Those teams' achievements over the last four years mean absolutely nothing in terms of the Mountain West's quality going forward.

It's also worth noting that this is only the second time in the past four years the Mountain West winner hasn't gotten into the BCS. This year's version of TCU lost two games early, fell off the radar and couldn't make it back into the top 14 to get an at-large bid (Boise State still would have been SOL because of the not-the-conference-champion thing.); the 2008 version also went 10-2 (including a conference loss to Utah) and ended up in the Poinsettia Bowl. The teams at the top have usually been good, but it's pretty hard to look at the Mountain West and think, "yeah, that conference is so consistently strong from top to bottom that the winner should be guaranteed a BCS berth even at 10-2." That's really what we're talking about here.

Remember when the Mountain West announced the merger that isn't really a merger with Conference USA? Long story short, those are still gonna be separate conferences and they'll have a championship-type thing between the winners, so the Conference USA teams don't count for Mountain West qualification purposes. Anyway, here's what the Mountain West will look like once TCU, Boise State, San Diego State and UCF are gone:

Air Force (pending a Big East decision), Colorado State, Fresno State (2012), Nevada (2012), New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming.

This explains everything (just pretend the Mountain West is zero):

Perfect. There is absolutely no possible/conceivable/comprehensible way that pile of blah can justify deserving a BCS autobid. What a bunch of different-and-now-gone teams did the last four years means nothing. TCU doesn't count. Utah doesn't count. Boise State (and its one freakin' year in your conference) definitely doesn't count.

Like I said before, every legitimately deserving MWC champion the past four years has gotten in. Changing that just as the conference becomes the WAC would make no sense at all and therefore will probably happen since this is the BCS we're talking about.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Catching up would have dominated the NFL

Ohio State has coordinator-type guys: Urban Meyer likes to be extremely vague with his coaching hires and give guys weird titles that don't necessarily mean what they say. Fortunately for me, he's being very explicit about who will run the defense:
"Luke Fickell will have the (coordinator) title," Meyer told WBNS radio in Columbus in a short interview Tuesday. "It might be co, it might not, but at the end of the day, he'll be calling the defense."
That last phrase is bolded for emphasis. Fickell will be the defensive coordinator regardless of who else comes on board, which is interesting for the following reason: Fickell has never been a true D-coordinator. He was linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator under Tressel, then jumped all the way up to interim head coach last year. Jim Heacock was OSU's D-coordinator and defensive playcaller for the past seven years, and before him it was Mark Dantonio. So Fickell will be in uncharted territory. It's not totally clear if Meyer's still trying to bring in Mike Stoops (doubtful given the lack of a meaningful role) or Everett Withers from North Carolina, but a co-coordinator seems likely for the aforementioned reasons.

As for the offense (pending Meyer's role in playcalling):
Ohio State has hired Iowa State assistant Tom Herman to be its new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Athletic director Gene Smith confirmed the hiring on Friday.

Herman, 35, has served as Iowa State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past three seasons.
You don't know anything about Tom Herman because nobody knows anything about Tom Herman. His experience consists of three uninspiring years at Iowa State (73rd, 99th and 55th in total offense) following two years as O-coordinator at Rice (51st and eighth in total offense). The one really good year was also the one year he had a good quarterback (Chase Clement), but whether that's a result of coaching or blah talent at Rice and Iowa State is impossible to say, especially given the relatively small sample size. He was definitely a spread-to-run guy at Iowa State and a spread-to-pass guy at Rice under David Bailiff; that's pretty much the extent of his track record. Meyer hasn't really discussed (at least not that I've seen) what the extent of his involvement with the offense will be.

So ... Ohio State's new coordinators are Luke Fickell and Tom Herman, both of whom could be anything from great to bad. I gotta be honest: Given Meyer's track record and alleged desirability, I expected his two biggest hires to have more than one good year of coordinating (and 73 years of existence) between them.

Joe Paterno has a broken hip: Joe Paterno falling at his home isn't really noteworthy in its own right but is noteworthy for what it represents: Paterno is dying. SportsbyBrooks (yeah, I know) reported this the other day:
... a Penn State Athletic Department source, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak for the Paterno family, told SbB:

“Joe is a lot closer to dying soon than the public is aware. … It is very bad. it (cancer) is much worse than the family has let on. … This may be his last Christmas.”

The source added that the former coach’s fall was a result of “his weakened state from cancer and the treatments he’s been receiving.”
Without knowing the credibility of the source (a definite issue with SbB), I'd still categorize that description that description as either "plausible" or "likely". Paterno is 84; even though he's looked exactly the same since he was about 50, people who are 84 just aren't physically equipped to handle radiation treatment and broken hips and whatever other age-related issues we aren't even aware of. It's only a matter of time.

A friend texted me right after Paterno was fired and said, "Joe Paterno death pool? Put me down for 15 days." I responded, "No way, that guy's gonna live to be 106." He's gonna be a lot closer.

Michael Dyer suspended: Auburn suspended Michael Dyer indefinitely this week for the always-specific "violation of team rules." He'll obviously miss the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia; what happens after that is unknown. Any long-term issues would be seriously problematic for an offense that was almost totally reliant on him this year due to the tire fire at quarterback. Dyer has 1,242 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns this year and a ridiculous 2,334 yards in his first two seasons. The guy is good.

There are some rumblings about a transfer based on various speculative rumors (as usual, weed is the comment-section consensus). That'd be bad regardless of how much hypothetical talent is waiting behind him. Onterrio McCalebb will presumably get a few more carries but is a totally different style of runner. Same with freshman Tre Mason and incoming transfer Mike Blakely, who was supposedly gonna be Urban Meyer's greatest running back EVER at Florida. Those guys all would be perfect as the sweep-threat component of the Cam Newton veer.

The interior running game will take a serious hit against Virginia, but it's next year that really matters at this point. Auburn has a ton of guys coming back and could be very good if Dyer is getting his 1,200 yards for Auburn rather than North Alabama (it'd also be helpful if Kiehl Frazier figures out how to play quarterback).

Auburn needs a D-coordinator: Weird coaching move of the offseason:
Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof was named UCF's defensive coordinator on Thursday, reuniting with Knights coach George O'Leary.

Roof was a member of O'Leary's staff at Georgia Tech from 1995 to 2001, spending his final three years there as defensive coordinator.
Ummm ... yeah. Auburn =/= Central Florida in terms of money or recognition or national aspirations or anything else. So WTF?

Roof was a big-time D-coordinator hire after his time as head coach at Duke but hadn't exactly been tearing it up at Auburn. Last year's defense was good enough but not really good (60th in yardage, 53rd in scoring), and this year's defense was flat-out bad (78th in yardage, 80th in scoring). Whether he had much talent other than Nick Fairley is debatable, but still. It seems pretty likely that he was either (a) "encouraged" to find another job or (b) realized that being a meh SEC coordinator doesn't offer a lot of job security and took a pretty decent offer to go work in Orlando for his one-time mentor.

The question now is who replaces him at Auburn. The worst-kept secret in the universe is that Gene Chizik has been going after Mark Stoops at Florida State, which would be a pretty fantastic hire. Side note: Chizik has some Les Miles in him in that he's smart enough to go out and get the best coordinators money can buy. Anyway, Stoops wouldn't really be taking a step up in position but could probably double his $440,000 salary at Auburn since Bobby Lowder has a bottomless wallet. I don't know who else is a serious candidate; I haven't seen any other names come out yet since Stoops appears to be at the top of the list and hasn't yet made a decision public.

Norm Parker planning to retire:
Norm Parker has been one of the best defensive coordinators in the country for basically as long as I can remember. Useful numbers: Iowa has finished in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense five times in Parker's 13 years and has finished in the top 10 in scoring defense three times in the last four years. But no mas:
The Iowa football program announced Sunday evening that longtime defensive coordinator Norm Parker will retire following the Hawkeyes' appearance in the 2011 Insight Bowl.
Parker is 70 and has some fairly serious medical issues, including the diabetes that forced his right foot to be amputated last year, so his retirement isn't surprising from a health standpoint. Iowa's defense also took a dive this year to 42nd in yardage and 68th (!) in scoring, which made it totally laughable that Parker was named AFCA assistant coach of the year a few weeks ago. He's been so good for so long that it was probably more of a career achievement award than anything.

Anyway, I'm curious to see what happens at Iowa. Parker's awesomeness has been a massively underrated factor in Kirk Ferentz's alleged awesomeness, and Ferentz is being brought up (surprise!) as a candidate for the Chiefs' head coaching job under Scott Pioli. I won't be surprised if Ferentz finally bails on Iowa. If he doesn't, he's gonna have a ginormous hole to fill on his coaching staff after 13 years with Parker. There'll be some irony if he hires an out-of-his-mind blitzer like Scott Shafer to replace a guy who was perfectly happy to go Cover-2 on every single play of every single game.

Memphis has a coach: Hey, it's Justin Fuente. Fuente popped up as an interesting candidate last offseason since he was the coordinator for TCU's pretty excellent offense that put up about 42 points a game, and this year's offense actually produced the exact same scoring average despite losing Andy Dalton.

The guy is only 35, which is infantile in the coaching world, but still might have been able to get a better head coaching job in a year or two. As it is, he takes over one of the crappiest programs in the country after Larry Porter went 3-21 in two years. Upshot from the ESPN story on Fuentes' hire:
The new coach faces major challenges, including adding better talent on offense and defense and rebuilding local interest in a football program that saw just 2,500 people attend this past season's home finale against Marshall.
Yikes. That is awful. But there's a reason the guy is getting D-I head coaching jobs despite being just slightly older than me:

Fuente said he plans to make practices accessible to the media -- something Porter did not do -- and speak at any Boy Scout or Kiwanis Club event that he is invited to as he tries to bring fans back to the program.

"I'm going to go out and beat pots and pans in the street if I have to," Fuente said.

JUSTIN FUENTE GETS IT. If he can get Memphis back to respectability, he'll be running a BCS-conference program by the time he's 40.

Jim McElwain to Colorado State (?): Speaking of offensive coordinators taking over blah programs, Colorado State officially hired Jim McElwain away from Alabama on Tuesday.

McElwain has been around as a coordinator, quarterbacks coach and special-teams coach at about a half-dozen schools, two of which were coached by Nick Saban. What's interesting is that he came to Alabama from Fresno State but withdrew his name (after interviewing) from consideration for that job, which is still open. The assumption at the time was that he was holding out for something bigger/better; a couple days later, he was signing on the dotted line at Colorado State. Possible explanation:
Concerns over the budget in the Fresno State athletic department, and its ability to sustain competitive football at the school, were a factor in McElwain's decision, sources said.
That would be an issue. Colorado State went 16-33 in four years under Steve Fairchild, but I remember a time not so long ago when CSU was pretty consistently the best team in the WAC. It shouldn't be impossible to compete in the stripped-down Mountain West at a historically good program at a good school in a nice city.

McElwain's obviously no Gus Malzahn. He's always run a pro-style-ish offense and presumably has learned to do things The Nick Saban Way (remember, Nick Saban was at Toledo at one point). He's also never been a head coach and has no real connections to the Colorado area unless you want to count his time growing up in Montana. How exactly that works out is anybody's guess, but I don't know that Colorado State could have done much better given the recent state of the program.

Toledo gives Illinois a swift kick to the groin: Toledo promoted offensive coordinator Matt Campbell to permanent head coach Tuesday, which was great news for Toledo since Campbell has been a really good O-coordinator but really bad news for Illinois since Tim Beckman said at his introductory presser that he wanted to bring Campbell along. As I mentioned at the time, Beckman is a defensive guy who generally had so-so defenses at Toledo and succeeded in large part because of Campbell's very good offenses.

BTW, Campbell is only 32 (!), so he'll be easily the youngest head coach in the FBS. A quick look back at the numbers at Toledo the last three years: eighth in yardage and eight in scoring this year, 74th and 54th last year, 13th and 38th in 2009. Not bad. He oughta be able to maintain some level of success at Toledo if he can find a capable defensive coordinator, which isn't as easy as it sounds in the MAC.

As for Illinois, Beckman's gonna have to start an actual search now (in case you're wondering, former O-coordinator Paul Petrino has already gone back to Arkansas to work with Bobby). I won't be surprised if he tries to pluck somebody off the Oklahoma State staff given his connections there.

Dayne Crist looking at Kansas: I mentioned last week that de facto free agent Dayne Crist was thought to be favoring Wisconsin but might consider Florida because of the Charlie Weis connection. The Florida thing is obviously out the window now, but Weis isn't (he couldn't fit lol zing!):
The redshirt junior visited the Kansas Jayhawks last week as they introduced new head coach Charlie Weis, who recruited Crist to South Bend.
In case you're wondering, sophomore Jordan Webb started at QB for Kansas last year and wasn't totally awful: 63.7 percent, 6.7 yards per attempt, 13 touchdowns, 12 picks. Crist would still represent a significant talent upgrade. Actually getting him to Kansas isn't a certainty, though:
Crist is currently visiting Delaware and will visit the Wisconsin Badgers later in the week, Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reports.
I'm having a hard time envisioning him transferring to Delaware if Kansas and/or Wisconsin are interested, which they apparently are. He should get (or might already have) scholarship offers from both; the choice will probably come down to whether he prefers playing for Weis or playing for a Big Ten title.

Heisman voters laugh in your general direction: Pawwwwl Finebaum don't understand this votin' nonsense:
SOUTH (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee)

1. Griffin: 303 points
2. Richardson: 256 points
3. Luck: 182 points
Griffin had more votes/points in SEC country than he did in any other region except the Southwest. In other words, even the rest of the Southeast thinks Finebaum is an idiot when he says stuff like this:
Much heat leaving RG3 off my Heisman ballot. Nice player- but SEC defenses would have eaten him alive. Haters get a clue.

For the lame critics of my Heisman ballot, just admit- Baylor would finish 6-6 in SEC West. RG3 would be watching the ceremony on tv.
Lol yup. Credibility: He has none. Paul Finebaum is a troll with a platform who exploits talk-show listeners even more ignorant than he is.

NFL suits love them some RGIII: I really hadn't thought much about Robert Griffin's draft status before all the Heisman stuff since nobody had ever talked about him as a first-round-type guy, especially with the potential overload of quarterbacks at the top of the draft this year (Luck, Matt Barkley, Landry Jones and whoever else). So this ...
Robert Griffin III, the Baylor quarterback who beat out Luck for the Heisman Trophy, has so much promise that one NFL personnel director told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that there are people around the league who prefer Griffin to Luck. Schefter spoke to two other personnel directors, one who described Griffin as a surefire first-round pick and another who said he’ll go in the top 15.
... made me go "lolwut" and wonder who hacked Adam Schefter's Twitter account. And I love RGIII! I don't question that the guy is awesome and will probably be a good NFL quarterback; I just question whether he'll really go in the top 15 and be viewed by anybody as a better prospect than Luck, who's about as safe of a franchise quarterback as has ever existed.

In short, Adam Schefter's ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter. I'm also intrigued by this new NFL draft in which great college players go in the first round. Crazy.

In more "lolwut" news: Remember Eric Crouch? I do, which is why I will laugh at this for several minutes and then dispute it:

“I think I could have been a great NFL quarterback,” Crouch said, according to Yahoo!’s The Postgame.

Crouch, 33, was drafted in the third round by the St. Louis Rams in 2002 after a prolific career with the Huskers and appeared on the rosters of the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs but never played an NFL game as a converted wide receiver.

“I battled some injuries. I took a lot of bad advice. I played a lot of different positions. If I could change one thing, I would have been pretty forthright about saying that quarterback was going to be my position. I’m going to play quarterback or not play at all.”

Hahahahaha no. You were a noodle-armed 52 percent passer with 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in your career despite playing for a still-dominant Nebraska team. The reason you never played an NFL game wasn't your willingness to switch positions; I'm pretty confident that an "I'm going to play quarterback or not play at all" ultimatum would have produced the exact same result. Just stop.

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