Monday, January 21, 2013

Nosuch Dame, Notre Shame, etc.

I've spent the past week craning my neck and gaping in can't-even-wrap-my-head-around-this-nonsense amazement at the train wreck that is the Manti Te'o story. I started to write about it a couple times and then stopped because (a) my words were immediately rendered irrelevant by whatever new nonsense was dripping from the wreckage and (b) I don't even know how to sensibly write about something that has at no point been sensible. Basically, there is both nothing to write and everything to write.

I'm gonna start with this: My initial reaction was that there was literally no possible way Te'o wasn't in on the whole thing. More than anything else, it was the unbelievability that anybody could have a four-year relationship-type thing with a person who claims to be in a terrible car accident, go into a coma, be diagnosed with leukemia, undergo extensive treatment and then die without ever seeing said person. And considering that he did claim (in amazingly detailed fashion) to have met her at a Stanford game, vacationed with her in Hawaii, etc., the only possible scenarios were that Te'o was directly involved from the beginning (either for the publicity or for a cover story) or was/is a mind-blowingly naive, ignorant and socially awkward person who's also a liar. The more detail that comes out -- from the documentation of the roses he sent to that house in California to the anecdotal Facebook messages and recollections of lengthy phone calls and whatnot -- the more plausible the latter seems. Whether that's actually better is a matter of opinion.

I mean ... I just ... I don't know, man. Go back and read the second sentence of the previous paragraph. There's naive/ignorant/socially awkward and then there's that.
She was in that hospital for about two months. ... Remember, she got in the accident and she was in a coma. We lost her, actually, twice. She flatlined twice. They revived her twice. It was just a trippy situation. It was a day I was flying home from South Bend to go home for summer break. It was May. Mid-May. That was the day where they said, "Bro, we're going to pull it. We're going to pull the plug." I remember having this feeling like everything is going to be OK. They were telling me, "Say your goodbyes." From April 28 to around mid-May, I was always talking to my girlfriend who was on a machine.
Ehh, I'll visit the dying love of my life some other time. NBD. And that black box over her face on Skype is probably just a weird Skype thing because lol technology. Like everything else about this story, his involvement in what he supposedly thought was a serious relationship with somebody his father honestly believed "could be our daughter-in-law" makes no sense whatsoever.

And what makes even less sense is every single thing about Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Every single thing. Why would a "family friend" do that? Why were they tweeting back and forth months and months ago if he weren't a family friend and were just some guy associated with a girlfriend he'd never actually met? Why were they hanging out in Cali after the USC-Notre Dame game, which was right about the time the whole thing started to unravel when the fake Twitter account for U'ilani Kekua (which Te'o was following and tweeting to) was deleted after people started tweeting about it being a fake run by the same person running Lennay's account? Why do these paragraphs exist and make as much sense as anything else?
A friend of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told us he was "80 percent sure" that Manti Te'o was "in on it," and that the two perpetrated Lennay Kekua's death with publicity in mind. According to the friend, there were numerous photos of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo and Te'o together on Tuiasosopo's now-deleted Instagram account.

The sheer quantity of falsehoods about Manti's relationship with Lennay makes that friend, and another relative of Ronaiah's, believe Te'o had to know the truth. Mostly, though, the friend simply couldn't believe that Te'o would be stupid enough — or Ronaiah Tuiasosopo clever enough — to sustain the relationship for nearly a year.
I don't know, man.

On a related note, I couldn't be any less inclined to believe Notre Dame's story that Te'o was gonna come out with the whole thing the Monday after Deadspin went ham; mmmkay. That story was gonna stay buried until somebody unburied it, as was made evident by Te'o bunkering down for three days after it broke and then saying nothing until an off-camera, after-midnight interview with a lawyer present and with only Jeremy Schaap asking the questions. Spending a week getting your story straight doesn't lend a lot of credence to the story that you were just totally hoaxed by something and did nothing wrong oh except for all the lies yeah those ummm yeah.

And really, considering that (a) Te'o's story at this point is that everything before this point was a lie and (b) Tuiasosopo has disappeared off the face of the Earth except for Te'o claiming he's said various apologetic things, isn't it possible that the above-blockquoted excerpt is entirely accurate and that everything coming out now is being manufactured by lawyers paid to generate face-saving cover stories? That's somewhat of a rhetorical question, I guess, but it's not entirely rhetorical since yes, it is possible. And plausible. The great thing about this story is that you can believe anything and it is as believable as anything else.

From Bill Simmons:
Is this the strangest sports story of all time? Will we ever have a sports story weirder than a star linebacker for the highest profile school in the nation possibly making up an online girlfriend, eventually killing her off, using that as "motivation", then claiming he was a victim of a hoax and either making the whole thing up or really being the victim of a hoax? — Trevin, Fort Worth, TX

SG: The short answer: No. If only because the whole saga was so elaborately convoluted from start to finish that this was either (a) a phenomenal hoax pulled off on someone who was phenomenally naive; (b) a snowball-type story in which Te'o got catfished, found out in the August-September range, then decided to keep embellishing the story and making things worse over just coming clean; (c) the handiwork of one of the greatest pathological liars who ever lived, and someone who was involved in the hoax the whole time; or (d) the workings of a closeted football star who invented a fake girlfriend to throw everyone off the scent, never imagining that his career and team would take off, and that the ensuing level of scrutiny ended up trapping him within this spiderweb of lies that just kept getting worse and worse. Those are the only four acceptable answers. So yes, we might not ever have a stranger sports story than this one.
Indeed. Note to self: DVR Thursday's "Katie" for the first time ever.

I could pretty easily write 2,000 more words here, but they'd effectually be the same as what's above and therefore can be aptly summarized by "WTF" and "this is the weirdest story ever." Srsly. This thing is weirder than Tonya Harding and weirder than O.J., because those things (as weird as they were) at least made sense on some level. This thing still makes none and probably won't unless Te'o comes out as being gay (as believable as anything else; see above), in which case the internet would explode again and columnists everywhere would look down their noses at society for requiring a guy to make up a fake girlfriend and kill her off to avoid the stigma and such. Barring that, this will probably remain the weirdest story ever for all of eternity, and that's OK since it's resulted in some entertainment-related brilliance that might never be outshone. 

From LSUFreek:

And from Cuppy Cup:

For the win.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You were good, kid

So that's that. Oregon-related crisis not averted. Chip Kelly is gone, and with him goes a lot of the Oregon-ness of the great-googly-moogly version of Oregon. I mean, yeah, Mark Helfrich will take over (after a search that's only being conducted because it's required by state law) and presumably keep things as close to the same as possible, but if Mark Helfrich were Chip Kelly, he'd have been going 46-7 with four straight BCS appearances and an almost national title at some other national power instead of being a quarterbacks coach and nominal offensive coordinator.
. . . . . .

Almost exactly three years ago, I wrote something on the old version of my site about Urban Meyer's legacy after he retired (haha) in the most WUT way possible. The premise: The guy had a 95-18 record at three schools in three conferences, three unbeaten seasons, two national titles (the only coach in the BCS-era to have done that at the time) despite the spread being incapable of winning a national title according to Gary Danielson, a squeaky-clean record, etc.

About a week later, I wrote something similar about Pete Carroll (after he bailed for the Seahawks and their gajillions of dollars) except without the squeaky-clean part.

Chip Kelly isn't really either of those guys because he doesn't have the national titles. In terms of just winning, though, he's pretty close: 46-7 (a) is ridiculous and (b) yields an .868 winning percentage that's better than Urban Meyer's overall win percentage at this point (.856) and Carroll's win percentage at USC (.836). Actually, it's the second-highest winning percentage EVER among D-I coaches, with only Knute Rockne's .881 higher. Wow? Wow. And that's to say nothing of the four BCS games in five years, the total of two losses to teams that didn't win at least 10 games, the zero Pac-12 losses to teams other than USC and Stanford over the past four years and the general hilarity on offense. BTW, all of that stuff was accomplished with a program that had previously been to three meaningful bowl games in modern history and had won 10 games a total of three times before Kelly showed up out of nowhere (New Hampshire is basically nowhere) as O-coordinator in 2007, the year Oregon might have won it all and Dennis Dixon might have won a Heisman if not for the ACL gods striking him down at midseason.

Really, beyond the lack of a national title, there's only one thing about Kelly's record/resume/whatever that could be construed as anything other than totally awesome:

Oh yeah. That. Oregon's gonna go in front of the COI at some point soon, try to explain some utter nonsense (insert Manti Te'o reference here) that looks a lot like purchases of recruits and then get some mostly meaningless penalties along with maybe a bowl ban that might actually be of some significance; I mean, without a bowl game, Nike will only be able to design 12 ridiculous jerseys a year instead of 13, and that's just not gonna be sufficient in recruiting, let me tell ya.

So something is gonna happen, and that something will be not good but probably not at the devastating end of the scale that goes from "nothing" to "Penn State." Wherever it falls in between will be somewhat of a determinant in Kelly's legacy, and that's kind of an ambiguous way to leave things. Maybe he's leaving largely because of that; I guess that's possible, but it seems a lot more possible that he's leaving because he ultimately wants to know whether he's The Best or just really good. That's an insignificant difference to people who aren't running massive organizations and getting paid even-more-massive amounts of money, but Chip Kelly is one of those people; Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll are also among those people. Beyond that, non-Penn State-esque sanctions are eminently overcomeable; Ohio State is doing pretty OK right now, and USC would be doing just as OK if the defense still existed (or, more specifically, if Carroll and the gang were still together). Winning is still winning, and Oregon has been freakin' winning. But I don't know for sure; I'll never know for sure since this thing in question isn't really knowable for anybody who isn't Chip Kelly.

Whether he'll turn out to be any good in the NFL* isn't really knowable, either, nor is it relevant to this particular site unless he's so not good or so disenchanted that he becomes a much more smirky version of Nick Saban/Bobby Petrino by leaving the Eagles for a school that isn't Oregon (or maybe even a school that is Oregon) in three or four or five years. I don't think that's very likely, but that's just, like, my opinion, man, with some basis in the  Patriots using a lot of spread inside-zone stuff and quick screens and other Oregon-type stuff (the tempo, specifically) and the Niners/Seahawks/Redskins pretty effectively using various zone-read concepts.

Regardless, that matters not at all to Oregon and only slightly more to me (and entirely from a curiosity standpoint). What matters is whether Mark Helfrich can maintain the Oregon-ness that I referred to earlier, with the scoring-a-lot-of-points thing probably more manageable than the going-to-the-BCS-every-year thing. There will be a drop-off of some degree just because Helfrich isn't debatably the best offensive coach in all of football. I don't think that drop-off will be massive, though, even if Helfrich was a pretty blah O-coordinator at Colorado (he was a pretty widely respected quarterbacks coach at ASU and Boise State prior to that) before getting the Oregon gig. Firstly, it seems reasonable to assume that he's learned some useful stuff from Kelly and been involved somewhat extensively in both gameplanning and playcalling. Secondly, Oregon will still be Oregon. There will still be the crazy-ass jerseys and the "players' lounges" filled with 87-inch TVs and not-yet-released electronic products and various other things that basically serve as a way for Phil Knight to give the players cool stuff and circumvent the NCAA. Woo recruiting!

But Mark Helfrich's Oregon won't be Chip Kelly's Oregon, and that's kinda sad, because Chip Kelly's Oregon was awesome in an "lol touchdown wwwhheeeee" way that nobody else's program has ever been. It's sad for everybody except the rest of the Pac-12 and obviously the guy, whose life will feel so fulfilled until he realizes at some point in the near future that Chip Kelly was really freakin' good.

*Chip Kelly and Monte Kiffin ended up in the same division. Hahahahahahahahahaha.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stop that, you guys

Tommy Tuberville's been around, yo. He's been a D-I coach since I was in middle school (which was also before I'd ever had in-home internet lol). The dudes in his first recruiting class as a head coach are now 36. Etc. The point of this paragraph is that Tommy Tuberville is not entirely unfamiliar with recruiting and the various things that accompany recruiting.

So it was kinda weird that he literally walked out on a bunch of recruits at a restaurant to take the Cincinnati job; still, that just makes him a slightly skeezier version of Todd Graham. Whatever. It was something else entirely to yoink offers from the entire Cincinnati recruiting class by way of just not telling them.

From Matt Hinton:
First up: Demetrius Monday, a three-star cornerback from Fairburn, Ga., who committed to Cincinnati last summer, and told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday that he's back on the market after failing to hear from Tuberville – who accepted the Cincinnati on Dec. 8, less than 48 hours after Jones left for the top job at Tennessee – for a solid month. When Monday's family finally contacted the university this week, according to his father, they were told to "look other places."

Next up: Jaleel Canty, a three-star "athlete" from Lansing, Mich., who also committed to Cincinnati last July, and also told the AJC he had to find out he'd been dumped the hard way. After a month with no news, he called the football offices on Thursday.

"They said they were bringing in their own guys, so all the guys that are committed are out luck," Canty said.
Oh. In other words, this is Tommy Tuberville's recruiting exit strategy:
Bob Porter: I looked into it more deeply and I found that apparently what happened is that he was laid off five years ago and no one ever told him about it; but through some kind of glitch in the payroll department, he still gets a paycheck.

Bob Slydell: So we just went ahead and fixed the glitch.

Bill Lumbergh: Great.

Dom Portwood: So, uh, Milton has been let go?

Bob Slydell: Well, just a second there, professor. We, uh, we fixed the *glitch*. So he won't be receiving a paycheck anymore, so it'll just work itself out naturally.

Bob Porter: We always like to avoid confrontation, whenever possible. Problem is solved from your end.
BTW, Signing Day is in three weeks. And those stories basically just confirmed what the coach of Ohio powerhouse Massillon Washington had said a couple days earlier after Tuberville inexplicably decided incoming quarterback Kyle Kempt (who picked Cincinnati over Tennessee, West Virginia and various other pretty good schools) that he would no longer be incoming:
Massillon football coach Jason Hall stopped short of declaring Bearcat football dead to him, but clearly he isn’t happy with the way Cincinnati’s new football coach is operating.
“It was an ugly situation,” Hall said. “I think they thought he was going to go to Tennessee with Butch Jones and they offered another quarterback. But that wasn’t the case. Cincinnati will not be allowed back in Massillon on our campus as long as Jason Hall is in Massillon.”
At least Massillon never has any good players or anything oh wait hahaha just kidding. But seriously, doing what Lane Kiffin does is always a good idea. Always.
Three days before he was scheduled to arrive on USC’s campus as an early enrollee on Jan. 10, defensive end Kylie Fitts — Rivals’ seventh-best defensive end in the Class of 2013 — was told that his scholarship was no longer available for the spring semester.

The Trojans’ did not pull Fitts’ scholarship entirely but rather deferred him to the fall. But since Fitts had already graduated from Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High School, he would have had no place to go until the start of USC’s fall camp this summer.

As a result, Fitts has decommitted from the Trojans and is now considering Notre Dame, Washington and UCLA. More detrimental to USC than losing Fitts is the long-term damage it did with East Valley, one of the better programs in the state of California.

If a Friday tweet from Bruich is any indication, the Trojans have some work to do in patching up that relationship.

Kurt Bruich @CoachBruich: When people are desperate, their true colors show. Take the USC coach, captain of an underachieving ship. His true color: SHADY! #goKylie
/laughs and nods approvingly at karmic gods as Lane Kiffin gets fired
/shakes head as Lane Kiffin inexplicably gets hired by the Eagles

Solve for the "?":

You get "piss off as many recruits and high school coaches as possible," right? Sweet.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Football Season Is Over

It's a Saturday. There is no football. Sigh.

I don't like this Saturday. I never like this Saturday. The calendar never cares that there are about eight months more than I need or want.

To the best offseason piece ever written (it's tradition, man):
... you will face the winter again, holding the note and understanding the urge to write those words on a sheet of paper: "Football season is over."

The experience, though, is now more than enough. The wind may cut through me now. It's an indicator that I'm alive, completely and fully alive in the indefinite span between arrivals and departures. This all matters so much more now, all of it, football and every other absurd fixation, the time, the space, the diversion, and most of all who you share it with, because it is finite, borrowed, and ultimately reclaimed. Its scarcity is its value; its pleasure is in its ultimate end. Its consolation is its rebirth and continuation.

In the depth of winter I finally learned there was in me an eternal September.
I think I can make it.

Catching up just needs the right time and place

Woo commitment: Since Brian Kelly's dream job is whichever is the best one available at the moment, his status at Notre Dame seemed relatively tenuous (especially after he left the country at a convenient time following his reported interview with the Eagles the day after the BCS title game) until he released this statement Saturday afternoon:
"This week, I had an incredible opportunity to speak with one of the premier organizations in sports about becoming their head coach," Kelly said in a statement released through the school.

"Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame.

"This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country."
The obvious follow-up question: Why interview (or why interview now)? The obvious answer: Dennis Dodd has it.
There is no going back. Win 12, at least, each season. Ten wins won't be acceptable, probably not after this season. Not for Kelly, not for long. Notre Dame isn't the only place where that's the case. Mack Brown's Longhorns won nine in 2012 and legions are still asking what's wrong. ...

And at the moment, there is more certainty that Kelly can get himself to the next level (NFL) than he can keep Notre Dame at its current level.
To be clear, I don't think winning 10 games a year "won't be acceptable" at Notre Dame seeing as how that's happened, like, twice in the last many years, but the Kirk Ferentz Corollary exists; there's a point at which you're the awesomest thing ever and a point shortly thereafter at which you're the worstest thing ever because you couldn't sustain something that wasn't really sustainable. And the related RABBLE RABBLE citing Kelly's "not an option" comment from last week explicitly ignores the other comments he made to CBS Sports that day, specifically these, which indicate that he might kinda sorta eventually wanna check out that NFL thing:
"How can you not be (intrigued by the NFL)? When you've coached football, you look at everything -- you look at high school film and you watch coaches there, college, Division III to Division I, it doesn't matter, college, NFL. All of that stuff intrigues me. I still think it comes down to time and place. What is the right time, and what is the right place? I never take any of that off the board.

"My agent would get a call, he'd run it by me, and we'd go from there. But, again, time and place."
2013 and Philadelphia apparently weren't the time and place. 2014 and some other NFL city might be, though, at which point the ND Nation freakout will be one of historic proportions.

Syracuse needz haz coach: It's Scott Shafer, who had been defensive coordinator before Doug Marrone bailed for the Bills last week after taking Greg Robinson's flaming pile of poo and going to two bowls in the last three years.

Here's some hilariousness: Shafer was Michigan's defensive coordinator in RichRod's first year but got fired because of a general difference in 4-3/3-3-5 philosophy (which probably should've been realized at some point prior to midseason), at which point Michigan hired Robinson from the poo fire that was Syracuse and Shafer essentially took his place running the Syracuse defense. The results pretty much speak for themselves: Michigan became engulfed in said poo fire while Syracuse's defense improved from 101st in yardage and 101st in scoring in Robinson's last year to 37th and 81st in 2009 to seventh and 17th in 2010 to 64th and 73rd in 2011 to 48th and 46th last year. So Syracuse's defense basically went from terrible to somewhere between average and very good every year.

Shafer also had done pretty well before the one year at Michigan (which wasn't that bad, actually); he previously was D-coordinator at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and then Stanford, with all of his defenses blitzing at an insane rate and thus producing a LOT of sacks/tackles for loss and usually a lot of turnovers. He's never been a head coach at any level, though, so whether he can run a staff or do anything other than implement defenses that GO CRAZY remains to be seen. One positive data point: He was Jim Harbaugh's assistant head coach in 2007 before taking the job at Michigan, which ... uhhh ... oops.

As for Syracuse, there are worse places to start at; an ACC program with a lot of history that's gone 21-17 over the last three years and whose only real geographic competition (in terms of recruiting) is Penn State should be able to get to meh bowl games on a relatively frequent basis. The location and terrible stadium and general lack of awesomeness in most recruits' lifetimes are all problematic, obviously, hence a guy getting an NFL job after going .500 at Syracuse over four years. Still, the program as a whole is in way better shape now than it was when Marrone took over.

Nevada haz coach, too: It's Brian Polian, son of Bill Polian and formerly Texas A&M's special-teams coordinator. He's 38. He's also never been a coordinator or coach at any level; his 16 years of college experience include various positional-coach jobs along with special-teams duties the last few years at A&M and Notre Dame. He's got some connections, I'm sure; whether that translates to being able to run a program is pretty much unknowable.

There were some guys out there who'd been coordinators at Nevada under Chris Ault -- specifically SMU D-coordinator Tom Mason and recently deposed Arkansas O-line coach Chris Klenakis -- that at least superficially would've made more sense in terms of both experience and continuity, so I'm not really sure why a guy with zero connections to Nevada, zero head coaching experience and zero coordinating data that could even be extrapolated to determine his head coaching ability ended up getting the job; pay might have ended up being an issue since Polian's gonna be making only about $500K, a ridiculously low number for a head coach. Whateva.

At least he knows what's up from a continuity standpoint:
Polian did say that he will run Ault's pistol offense. Offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich, who left the Pack last month to become the offensive coordinator at Temple, has returned to Nevada and will be Polian's offensive coordinator.

“I'm not a dummy,” Polian said. “The offense has been pretty good here.”
Not a dummy. Probably not Chris Ault, either, since Ault went 233-109-1 at Nevada (Nevada!) and retired having gone to eight straight bowl games (at Nevada!). But not a dummy.

Alabama (the state) wins: No explanation needed:

I know.

Ted Roof likes to see the world: Ted Roof left Penn State this week for the D-coordinator job at Georgia Tech, which would be a lateral/slightly downward move if not for (a) the stuff at Penn State and (b) Roof being a Georgia Tech alum whose family apparently still lives in the Atlanta area. Keep in mind that he'd had four jobs over the past four years, with the only one of those that lasted more than a year being the Auburn gig from 2009-11 (that obviously included the 2010 national title).

Roof stopped being categorized as "good" a few years ago but, like every other coach at Penn State last year, ended up with something better than it had any reason to be. The defense finished in the top quartile nationally in every relevant category -- 16th in points allowed, 29th in yards allowed, 23rd in rushing yards allowed, 28th in pass-efficiency defense, etc. -- although some of that was probably due to the general craptacularity of Virginia, Temple, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, etc. Still ... I mean ... 16th in scoring and 29th in yards. And the ACC is no less craptacular offensively, so Georgia Tech should probably see some degree of improvement from a defense that was statistically average last year but got absolutely obliterated in pretty much every meaningful game, giving up 40-plus points six times (six times!). That's assuming last year wasn't an aberration for Roof, obviously.

As for Penn State, secondary coach John Butler has already been promoted to D-coordinator, which is interesting inasmuch as (a) there was no national search and (b) a 39-year-old with no coordinator experience got a promotion that I think most people figured would have gone to Larry Johnson Sr. or Ron Vanderlinden, both of whom have been at Penn State for about the last 78 years.

Anyway, here's some very informative ... uhh ... information:
(Butler) wants an aggressive defense with multiple looks but simple enough for players to pick up and play at a high tempo.
Oh. OK. Regardless of what he's doing, Penn State won't be as good on defense next year if for no other reason than the losses of Jordan Hill, Michael Mauti, Sean Stanley, Stephon Morris and possibly some other guys I'm forgetting. Beyond that, I have no idea; there's no real data to go on other than a year as a secondary coach/special-teams coordinator, which whatever, and some generally effusive praise from people like Ted Roof, which whatever.

It's probably worth noting that BSD's collective reaction to both Roof leaving and Butler getting promoted has been "meh" followed by "let's discuss wings and Emma Stone."

More in coordinator-related news: Oklahoma State D-coordinator Bill Young "stepped down" this week after saying a few days earlier that had thought about retirement but decided to keep coaching for as long as he'd be welcome. Interpret that as you will. An interesting conversation as told by Young:
Young, 66, said he was told by Gundy in February that college football is a young man’s game “and I was the face of the defense and he thought my age would hurt recruiting and he thought players wouldn’t play for me.”  
Wow. So Glenn Spencer (who had been linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator) is the new DC. Surprise: Spencer is 49 and an "ace recruiter in the Southeast."

FWIW, Oklahoma State's defense has been somewhere between below average and bad for the last three years, although the Big 12's ridiculousness skews the raw data a little bit; in a relative sense, those same defenses have been just about average in the Big 12 every year. Okie State did force a crapload of turnovers in that time, too -- more than anybody else in the country by far -- and that resulted in a consistently pretty good pass-efficiency defense. Still, improvement is very possible. And this would be a particularly good year for it since O-coordinator Todd Monken (who was hired when Dana Holgorsen left for West Virginia) left last month to take over at Southern Miss; I'm not expecting much of a drop-off since the system/terminology/whatever didn't change last time and probably won't change this time, but continuity (or a lack thereof), especially in terms of playcalling, isn't meaningless.

Brissett out: Jacoby Brissett has finally given up on Florida:
Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett is leaving Florida.

Coach Will Muschamp said the sophomore "expressed an interest in transferring and getting a fresh start."

Brissett started three games in two seasons and lost an open competition with Jeff Driskel before this season. Brissett completed 41 of 74 passes for 455 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions (in his Florida career).

He is reportedly considering West Virginia, Louisville, Arkansas, North Carolina State and Duke.
FYI, Brissett was a relatively big-time recruit but basically looked like a slightly-less-effective version of Driskel whenever he was on the field (which was occasionally in 2011 but rarely in 2012). Given Florida's general ineptitude on offense the last couple years, though, it's hard to say whether he could be a good player with some competent coaching/development/whatnot; seems plausible, especially considering that he hasn't used his redshirt year yet, so he'll have a year to sit and learn and then two years to play wherever he ends up.

As for the above-mentioned schools, West Virginia, Arkansas, NC State and Duke all lose multiyear starters (assuming Mike Glennon goes pro) to graduation, but since he'll have to sit out a year, Brissett would presumably be behind the 2013 starter come 2014 at any of those locales other than Louisville (Teddy Bridgewater has two  years of eligibility left). So he's gonna have to beat somebody out eventually at the risk of beating out Kiehl Frazier for Biggest Disappointment of the 2011 Quarterback Class.

Way to rank stuff: The Colley Matrix, which is one of the six BCS-approved computer rankings, had a final top two like so:

1. Notre Dame    0.973997
2. Alabama         0.961139

Guh. This is what happens when you don't let the computers use relevant data like, ya know, margin of victory and yardage differential and whatnot. In that regard, as far as the computers were concerned, there was no difference between Notre Dame's win over Stanford and Alabama's win over Notre Dame, and the nonsensical numbers above are the result. Basically, don't blame the computers for not having all the info. Wooooo BCS!

Johnny Manziel has a sense of humor: Seriously:


Wow: I don't even know what else to say about this 62-inch (!!!) pizza, which was made by a San Antonio pizza place for the Cotton Bowl:


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Nick Saban is McKayla Maroney

Third national title in four years? Unimpressed:

Gatorade bath from grateful players? Irritated:

Another SEC title? Bored:

That is all.

OK, we get it, Bama

Great googly moogly. Analysis is unnecessary. This is analysis (via Prevail and Ride on
November 4, which dang):

. . . . .

I spent the hours after last year's curb stomping trying to convince myself that I most definitely had not just written about how LSU probably deserved at least a share of the national title no matter what happened in the title game because of a couldn't-possibly-be-bettered resume and whatnot, which haha just kidding. Alabama has now won 17 of its last 18 games; only three games in that time have ended with the other team closer than 17 points, and neither of the last two national championship games was one of those. Actually, that means Alabama has as many three-plus-touchdown wins over top-10 teams in that time as games of any type that were effectually any closer. That's just ... like ... I don't even know, man.

Alabama is a machine. Honestly, I spent the second half of the game perusing the interwebz on my phone just because I felt a little bad watching the violent, kinda embarrassing carnage that was only briefly interrupted by A.J. McCarron and Barrett Jones turning the carnage on themselves because DAMMIT WE JUST BURNED A TIMEOUT AND WE'RE ONLY UP BY 42!!! Nick Saban reacted by yelling at the refs only to hide the smugly satisfied look that otherwise would've appeared via the recognition that his happiness-less quest for perfection has assimilated itself in all things Alabama. Srsly: He walked off the field flashing a thumbs-up and halfheartedly yelling, "Good job, guys," as his CPU initiated smile.exe, and he then spent the next two minutes trying to convince the sideline chick that he was in fact happy but only for the next two days because them's the rules. Machine.

Alabama is also a dynasty. Three national titles in four years? Yeah. Dynasty. Whatever Saban's getting paid, he deserves it. IMO, the mid-90s Nebraska dynasty-type thing was a little better inasmuch as the '95 team was probably the most dominant team in modern history, but whatever. A dynasty's a dynasty. See above: Alabama has as many three-plus-touchdown wins over top-10 teams in the last two years (and national titles in the last four years) as games of any type that were effectually any closer.

Speaking of which, I saw that Alabama-Notre Dame game once before: It was in September and Michigan was Notre Dame, and it was pretty much the worst thing ever. And I'll probably see it again next year with some other teams that are comparably good but not Alabama; nobody's Alabama since nobody else has both Nick Saban and a team full of dudes who will be starting in the NFL in three years. I mean, is there a player on Notre Dame's offense other than Tyler Eifert who would start for Alabama? Maybe Zack Martin? I don't know. ND's defense could put a few guys in Bama's front seven, I'm sure; Manti Te'o, obviously, and maybe Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt. But having the best coach in the country (no dispute) and pretty much all the best players results in things like, you know, going 39-5 and winning three national titles in four years.

And you know what's really horrifying? Next year's version of The Best Team Ever brings back pretty much everybody of relevance other than Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, Jesse Williams and probably Dee Milliner; that's two offensive linemen, one nose tackle and one corner. Without looking, I feel relatively comfortable saying Alabama will have a reasonably talented dude available at each of those spots since Alabama is by definition comprised entirely of reasonably talented dudes. A.J. McCarron comes back, Eddie Lacy comes back, T.J. Yeldon comes back, Amari Cooper comes back, D.J. Fluker comes back (unless he doesn't, which is possible), Cyrus Kouandijo comes back, C.J. Mosley comes back, Adrian Hubbard comes back, Ed Stinson comes back, Vinnie Sunseri comes back, Haha Clinton-Dix comes back, etc. That's probably the best team in the country even if it's filled out with crap, which it won't be. BTW, next year's schedule isn't difficult, either; the only non-joke of a nonconference game is the Something Something Classic in Atlanta against Va. Tech, and the only seemingly losable conference games are at Texas A&M and at home against LSU. I wrote this when the schedule came out a couple months ago:
Upshot: Just give Alabama the next two national titles (along with a couple broken crystal footballs and credit for about five national championships) so we can fast-forward to 2014 or whenever it is that Nick Saban gets bored and restarts his dynasty as coach at Kent State. 
Indeed. Maybe Jimmy Haslam will make out one of those really big lottery-style checks for eleventy billion dollars, at which point Saban will probably leave and things will probably be a lot more interesting for everybody who doesn't consider Bear Bryant a deity. Barring that, the only real uncertainty about next year is whether there will be more BCS title game camera time spent on A.J. McCarron's girlfriend or Nick Saban's daughter; I'm taking the latter based on new-ness.

/shakes angry fist at Pitt's kicker for ruining an Alabama-Oregon title game that probably would've been both competitive and entertaining, two things last night's game definitely was not. I mean, yeah, Notre Dame deserved to be there from an earned-it standpoint, but still. Yeesh.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Oregon-related crisis averted

What the headline says. From ESPN:
Oregon coach Chip Kelly has decided to turn down a chance to go to the NFL and instead will return to the Ducks, according to league sources.

Kelly was intrigued with the Philadelphia Eagles' head coaching job but decided he wasn't comfortable leaving the college game. The Cleveland Browns are the only other NFL team known to have interviewed Kelly.
Yay. I will now Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V most of what I wrote last year at this exact moment.

I don't root for Oregon as a fan but also have no desire to watch the most entertaining offense in the universe get yanked out from under Phil Knight's wallet and NFL-ized to the detriment of everybody who enjoys watching really fast guys do amusing things and score touchdowns on 52-second drives.

For now, Oregon is still Oregon. Whether that's still the case a year or two from now is impossible to know, especially with the NCAA looking skeptically at the Willie Lyles thing for obvious reasons. I don't doubt that Kelly will get another call or three next year; he's only 49 and isn't getting any worse at producing ridonkulous offenses, although finding an owner willing to totally commit to his system won't happen a lot. Hopefully it won't happen at all (yeah, I'm selfish).

Side note: The site exists, is run by an Oregon fan and is apparently totally serious. Actual quotes:
I have no personal vendetta against Chip. I've met him at school events and found him to be a nice enough guy, but I hold us to a higher standard than most and I think we can do better.

No National Championships.  With decent coaching, we should have 2 at this point.
Hahahahahaha. The rest of the crappily formatted single-page site is similarly hilarious and worth checking out purely for the laughs. Enjoy. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Did anybody actually watch Oregon?

News flash: Chip Kelly is probably going to the NFL. In that regard, this post is only tangentially related to college football; it's somewhat necessary, though, to dispute some of the ignorance that exists in comment sections everywhere and apparently in Jerome Bettis, who's allegedly an expert based on being able to truck similarly large humans for many years.

This quote comes directly from Bettis via The Tim Brando Show:
"I'll tell you this: He's not going to be able institute that type of offense 100 percent," Bettis said. "It will have to be similar to the Washington Redskins. They do it sparingly; they do some things in that area. They don't do a whole lot because the problem you have is, as the Redskins found out, when your quarterback gets hurt, now the backup quarterback, if he's not familiar, you've got to change the offense.

"I don't think you're going to see that wholesale commitment to that type of offense, because if you do, that means you've got to institute your starting quarterback that way, your backup quarterback and your third-string quarterback, and that's going to be very difficult to be that one-dimensional in the NFL.

"It's such a dangerous proposition with your quarterback running the football. I don't think you can do that 100 percent of the time."
I would write this off as one guy not really knowing anything if not for (a) the alleged expert-ness and (b) the replication of this quote (but in badly misspelled form) all over the interwebs. Clearly, people haven't actually watched Oregon and therefore are just assuming that Oregon's offense = RichRod's offense = Urban Meyer's offense = every zone-read offense. Not so much.

Wanna know how many carries Oregon's starting quarterbacks have had over the last three* years? A total of 255. That's 85 a season. That's 6.4 a game. Breaking it down into percentages, Oregon's starting-ish running backs have had 1,302 carries (32.6 a game) in that time, so Oregon's quarterbacks have been getting about 16 percent of the carries. And keep in mind that those aren't sacks-excluded numbers; in reality, the carries-per-game number should be closer to 5.4 than 6.4 based on Oregon's average of about a sack allowed per game the past few years.

Wanna know how many carries RGIII had this year for the Redskins? A total of 120. That's 7.5 a game and about 24.7 percent of the team's total attempts. Wanna know how many carries Colin Kaepernick had this year for the 49ers in the five games after he took over as starter? A total of 32. That's 6.4 a game and about 21.3 percent of the team's total attempts. Wanna know how many carries Russell Wilson had for the Seahawks this year? A total of 94. That's 5.9 a game (that would be about 6.1 if not for the 58-0 obliteration of the Cardinals in which Wilson accumulated almost no stats) and about 19.2 percent of the team's total attempts. And those are sacks-excluded numbers since the NFL logically includes sack yardage in passing-yardage totals. So even "wholesale commitment to that offense" -- which there will be wherever Chip Kelly ends up since that's the point of hiring Chip Kelly -- won't result in the level of quarterback-run reliance the Redskins and 49ers had during the regular season. Woo expert analysis!

It's probably worth mentioning that the Redskins, 49ers and Seahawks were first, third and fourth in the NFL in rushing this year and finished a collective 32-15. Also, the aforementioned quarterbacks missed a collective one game. Granted, one season isn't a massive sample size, but there are three NFL teams that are doing pretty dang well right now running their quarterbacks as much as or more than Oregon has under Kelly the last few years.

And that's to say nothing of the little-noticed truth that Oregon's running game is largely built on a variation of inside zone/outside zone/power** stuff; the zone read is a component that allows for a fundamental blocking advantage (hence the usefulness of the zone read in general) at the risk of allowing this ...

... but is still secondary to Oregon's explicit spread-to-run-inside philosophy, as evidenced by the running backs getting 84 percent of the carries the last three years. In other words, the threat of the quarterback having the ball with nobody around isn't the same as the quarterback actually having the ball "100 percent of the time."

Quotes? Quotes:
"I look for a quarterback who can run and not a running back who can throw. I want a quarterback who can beat you with his arm," Kelly explained at a coaches clinic in the spring of 2011, emphatically adding, "We are not a Tim Tebow type of quarterback team. I am not going to run my quarterback 20 times on power runs."
BOOM KELLY'D. BTW, read the rest of that article now; it comes from Smart Football and therefore is filled with yummy goodness about strategory and whatnot.

*I used three years because those years were the ones in which Kelly-recruited quarterbacks were starting; Dennis Dixon and Jeremiah Masoli were guys he basically inherited when he took over as O-coordinator and therefore weren't necessarily indicative of the kind of quarterback (and accompanying offense) he prefers. For reference, those guys were both pretty consistently around nine carries a game, or only slightly more than RGIII has been getting.

**At its heart, Kelly's running game isn't strategically that much different from the 15 or so zone-blocking-based ones in the NFL; he just prefers (a) unloading the box as much as possible, (b) using a lot of shotgun zone-read action to the extent that pretty much everything (from four verts to the bubble screen to inside zone to outside zone to straight-up option) looks the same at the snap and (c) going balls out from a tempo standpoint (usually).

Friday, January 04, 2013

Catching up haggles over $90K for some reason

Editor's note: I've spent the last week collecting links and doing nothing with them because of a complete lack of motivation. Now that I have enough that there are really too many for one post, I'll attempt to cram them all into one post. Don't question me, dammit.

Let's keep scoring lots of points and stuff: USA Today got somebody at Oregon to acknowledge Thursday what everybody's assumed for the last couple years: If/when Chip Kelly bails for the NFL (probably at some point in the next few days considering that he's already got at least three interviews scheduled), O-coordinator Mark Helfrich will take over. Details:
Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will be promoted to head coach if Kelly jumps to the NFL, according to a person with direct knowledge of the school's plans. This person spoke to USA Today Sports on condition of anonymity because Kelly is still the Ducks' coach. ...

Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who had long been linked in speculation to the Oregon job if it ever opened, would not be a candidate, the person said.

"Conceptually, it's about continuity," the person said, adding that Helfrich could be named head coach within 72 hours of Kelly's departure.
FYI, Helfrich's been the offensive coordinator for the entirety of Chip Kelly's time as head coach but before that was at Colorado, ASU and various other places (which is to say not with Kelly). He's reportedly pretty heavily involved in Oregon's gameplanning, though, and considering what Oregon's been and done for the last four years, staying as close to that as possible going forward makes sense, even if Chris Petersen or whoever else were interested. I mean, a hypothetical Oregon that's 80 percent as prolific as that the current version of Oregon probably still goes to the Rose Bowl every other year and contends for the national title at least occasionally. So consider me not surprised; beyond that, I'm gonna hold off on writing 2,000 words on Helfrich until Kelly actually leaves.

Commitment, eh? Bill O'Brien was either really unimpressed with the various NFL front-office guys he met with or felt so bad about meeting with those guys that he couldn't even imagine actually leaving, hence this:
Bill O'Brien isn't going anywhere.

On the same night we learned the Penn State coach interviewed with the Cleveland Browns earlier this week, we also learned that O'Brien is staying with the Nittany Lions.

"I'm not a one-and-done guy," O'Brien told on Thursday night. "I made a commitment to these players at Penn State, and that's what I am going to do. I'm not gonna cut and run after one year, that's for sure."

O'Brien said several NFL teams contacted him through his agent, Joe Linta, and Sirius XM Radio's Adam Caplan reported the coach also interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday in Massachusetts.
Hurrah for Penn State being something resembling relevant for the next five-ish years and having something to build around (that being an NFL-style passing game that was pretty good with Matt McGloin and therefore should be pretty good for the foreseeable future). I can't imagine that another coaching search at this point in the offseason given Penn State's current, um, situation would've gone particularly well.

Geographical coherence FTW: Boise State is staying in the Mountain West and paying the Big East $10 million to not be a member. This has been known for a couple days now and makes sense for everybody, even if it sucks for the Big East since what was gonna be a relatively crappy conference will now be a definitively crappy one. But what wasn't as widely known was this stuff: (a) Boise State will retain its home-game TV rights, therefore effectually doubling its TV revenue, (b) San Diego State has the option to return to the Mountain West and reportedly is interested in doing so despite all the public statements to the contrary, and (c) the Mountain West dropped its uniform regulations as part of the deal, meaning Boise can wear blue unis on blue turf. Very important.

As for the TV thing, there's also this:
The Mountain West's new contract includes equal revenue distribution among its members but also a bonus structure paid to individual members for each national television appearance it makes. If, for example, Boise State appeared on national television four times and Wyoming twice, Boise State would receive a bigger total bonus. The bonus amount for weekday or weeknight games is $300,000 and $500,000 for games played on Saturdays, according to a release from Boise State.
So there's equal revenue sharing that's not at all equal, basically. Boise oughta be doing fine for itself financially going forward regardless of the size of the Mountain West's TV package (hur hur).

As for San Diego State, the details:
The Broncos’ contract with the Mountain West state that the league “will extend an option for San Diego State University to join the MWC on terms mutually agreed between SDSU and the MWC and to join or decline before offering membership to any other institution.”

This means the Aztecs have the right to first refusal, a development that is all the more interesting when held in contrast with an ESPN report by Brett McMurphy which stated that “San Diego State wants back in the Mountain West, but the league is holding up the process as it decides whether there is a better fit than the Aztecs and if there is a school that can deliver more value.”
If San Diego State wants in, it's in. And that will presumably happen since the Mountain West is now back at 11 schools and needs one more to get to 12 and have a championship game. And with that, the Big East will have taken one more step in its inevitable journey toward becoming indistinguishable from Conference USA.

Butch Davis really needs that extra $90K: So Butch Davis was reportedly in talks to take the Florida International job (for some reason) last week before running into some contractual issues related to his North Carolina buyout. To be specific, those contractual issues were basically North Carolina wanting out of its deal if Davis were to take another job.
The dispute centers on almost $1.8 million that Davis is owed from the settlement he signed upon his dismissal as UNC's head coach in July 2011. The source said that UNC doesn't want to pay the money if Davis accepts another coaching position, which is a stumbling block that also complicated his hiring earlier this year by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Davis would earn "roughly $500,000 a season" coaching for FIU, according to Marvez's source, while his settlement from UNC would reportedly pay him $590,000 per year for the next three years -- meaning that if Davis could not force UNC to continue his payments even after taking the FIU job, he'd be taking nearly a $100,000 per-year pay cut for his efforts for the Panthers.
And that resulted in this:
"(Davis) will not be taking the FIU job," Davis' attorney, Jon Sasser, told the Miami Herald. 
OK then. If he'd really wanted the job, I can't imagine that $90K would've been a significant factor; the consensus early on was that Davis wasn't as interested in as FIU was in him, and that was probably the case. BTW, it's worth reiterating that Davis came out of the North Carolina stuff without being specifically named in any of the violations or getting any show-cause penalty or anything of that nature. He's hirable; he just hasn't been hired yet.

But Ron Turner has:
Florida International has hired former Illinois coach Ron Turner to take over its football program.

FIU director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia says Turner signed a five-year contract Thursday night with a base salary of $500,000 annually. A news conference with Turner was being scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Turner most recently was the quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a past offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and was Peyton Manning's position coach with the Indianapolis Colts.

Garcia says Turner is "the best quarterbacks coach in America, college or pro. So I'm very excited to get this guy."
Hahahahaha. Turner hasn't coached in college in any capacity since getting fired by Illinois in 2004 after going 35-57 and making two bowl appearances in eight years. Since then he's been roaming the NFL demonstrating his "best quarterbacks coach in America"-ness via Rex Grossman, Curtis Painter and the 2012 version of Josh Freeman, all of whom became Pro Bowlers, I'm pretty sure (no time for research!).

And that's what FIU fired Mario Cristobal for. SMH.

Ohhh boy: I didn't write anything about the Texas hotel shenanigans when they first happened because ... I mean ... what's to say? Something bad either happened or didn't happen, depending whom you choose to believe. A little background:
Texas quarterback Case McCoy and linebacker Jordan Hicks were suspended and sent home a day before the Valero Alamo Bowl for breaking team rules, a source within the school's administration told on Friday.

A person with knowledge of the suspensions told The Associated Press the players violated curfew.

Texas coach Mack Brown addressed the situation during a previously scheduled news conference Friday and referred to a KENS-TV report in San Antonio that police were investigating two unidentified Texas players in an alleged sexual assault at a hotel in the city, where Texas played Oregon State.
Yeah. Bad. But there's this, of course:
Hicks "vehemently asserts that all conduct that occurred during the evening of the incident was consensual by everyone involved," his lawyer said Sunday in a statement. "The allegation, if any, that a sexual assault occurred by anyone at any time is completely false."

No charges have been filed.

"No arrests have been made; (the case) is still being currently investigated," Matthew Porter of the San Antonio police said. "There is no timetable for the investigation" to be handed over to the district attorney, he said.
To my knowledge, there's been nothing new in that regard (there might never be). Neither guy played in the Alamo Bowl, obviously.

But if the allegation-type thing ever results in charges and long-term suspensions/dismissals/whatever, Hicks would be the more significant loss; he was an uber recruit back in 2010 who became a starter as a sophomore last year, then got hurt in the Ole Miss game this year and missed the rest of the season. He had 14 tackles and four tackles for loss in about two and a half games; he's a no-doubt starter if he's healthy and available and whatnot.

McCoy's loss would be more problematic from a depth perspective. David Ash is obviously the starter at this point, but McCoy did get a start against Kansas State and was sort of always on the periphery waiting for Ash to do something terrible, which he mostly avoided. Both guys were sophomores this year, BTW. Texas does have big-time recruit Tyrone Swoopes committed, but I'd think the optimal scenario would be to redshirt him, and if McCoy's gone, that becomes more difficult since Ash and currently redshirting freshman Connor Brewer would be the only quarterbacks on the roster. That said, if McCoy's third on the depth chart (which is a definite possibility), replacing him with a walk-on or whatever wouldn't be a big deal barring extreme quarterback attrition, and in that case, Swoopes would probably be needed anyway.

So we'll see. With no announcement yet from anybody in San Antonio, it's seeming more and more likely that nothing will happen from a legal standpoint, in which case anything that happens from a Texas standpoint would be minor (if extant).

Chris Ault was good and did stuff : Chris Ault retired last week for the second time; this one's probably a real retirement since the guy's now approaching 70 and has done pretty much everything that can be done at Nevada. Srsly:
Ault announced Friday he was stepping down, leaving as the winningest coach in school history, already a Hall of Famer.

Under Ault, the Wolf Pack went from Division II to I-AA to I-A, winning at every level with some of the most prolific and innovative offenses in the country.

The 66-year-old won 10 conference championships and took the Wolf Pack to the postseason 16 times, including 10 bowl games in 12 FBS seasons. He finished with a record of 233-109-1.
He went 233-109-1 at Nevada (Nevada!) and retired having gone to eight straight bowl games. In the Mountain West. At Nevada. He also was making about $500K -- roughly half the Mountain West average and something like 15 percent of what Chris Petersen made last year -- probably in part because he spent his previous coaching hiatus as athletic director and therefore understood the duality of managing a crappy budget and hiring a viable staff. As mentioned in the blockquoted portion above, he's already a Hall of Famer, and deservingly so. There's an alternate universe in which Nevada is Boise State.

Ault also invented the Pistol, which I think I saw somebody use the other day oh wait that was everybody. This Smart Football novella ...

... was published last week, literally the day before Ault announced his retirement (for those with vision even worse than mine, it's titled "How the Pistol offense is changing the NFL"). Mandatory quote:
"I'm proud that our offense has broadened the landscape of football. That's exciting," Ault said. "It's here to stay, unlike the wishbone (offense)."
Yeah. Suck it, wishbone.

As for Nevada, given the aforementioned financial situation, the next guy will most likely be either an FCS coach or an FBS assistant, maybe SMU D-coordinator Tom Mason or recently deposed Arkansas O-line coach Chris Klenakis, both of whom were coordinators under Ault in the past and could probably retain a majority of the staff.

Wisconsin has an O-coordinator: It's Andy Ludwig, most recently of San Diego State and Utah but also of various other West Coast locales. Details:
Wisconsin is expected to hire Andy Ludwig as its next offensive coordinator, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Ludwig, who has held the same post at San Diego State for the past two seasons, attended Wisconsin's pre-Rose Bowl practice Friday in Los Angeles. New Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen coached with Ludwig at Utah from 2005-08, helping the Utes to a 13-0 season and a Sugar Bowl championship in 2008.

Because of Wisconsin's hiring rules for all state employees, the team can't confirm Ludwig's hiring until the job posting expires.
Ludwig has since confirmed, BTW. Answer to the obvious question: Yeah, Ludwig is basically a pro-style running-game guy. The "basically" qualifier is necessary because anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that he prefers to spread (a little, as in three wides and one back) to run rather than manballing to run, but that may have been a personnel-based thing rather than a philosophical preference. Interestingly, Ludwig was actually one of the finalists for the Wisconsin O-coordinator job last year when Paul Chryst left; in that regard, it makes sense that Andersen would bring him in given (a) their familiarity from the Utah days and (b) Ludwig's apparent blessing from Bret Bielema/Barry Alvarez in the recent past. An excerpt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article dated almost exactly a year ago:
When Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema initially talked about finding an offensive coordinator to replace Paul Chryst, his No. 1 goal was non-negotiable:

"We're not going to change what we're doing," he said as UW prepared for the 2012 Rose Bowl. "We're going to be a pro-style offense and continue to do the things we've been doing."

Ludwig is a candidate because of his play-calling experience. He has served as an offensive coordinator at six schools since the 1997 season, including last season with the Aztecs. Those stops included Fresno State (1998-2001), Oregon (2002-'04), Utah (2005-'08) and California (2009-'10).
Every one of those schools ran a pro-style-ish offense (although Utah was still hanging on to some Urban Meyer stuff) under Ludwig; Wisconsin obviously will do the same and thus bear some resemblance to the Wisconsin of the last 20 years, as expected. The question is whether that resemblance will be purely a stylistic one or also a results-y one.

Do this always: So the Sugar Bowl went pretty well for Florida. It went so well that nobody wanted to sign the alma mater afterward except for one guy (I'm serious): junior linebacker Darrin Kitchens, who didn't actually play in the game ...

... but was Florida's team MVP nonetheless for doing that. Darrin Kitchens for 2013 captain. Darrin Kitchens FTW.

It's a little Montana: Nick Montana -- the one who was good coming out of high school and was at Washington briefly before transferring for playing-time purposes -- is headed to Tulane, presumably due to the allure of the Big East or something. He signed his letter of intent on Friday. Some relevant info:
(Montana) comes to Tulane via the junior college ranks, where he threw for 2,652 yards and 22 touchdowns last season at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. Montana -- who originally signed with the University of Washington out of Oaks Christian High in 2010 -- will enroll for the spring semester, participate in spring drills and have two years of college eligibility remaining. Dating back to high school, Montana has compiled a 38-3 record as a starter (27-1 in high school, 0-1 at Washington, 11-1 at Mt. San Antonio College).
FYI, Montana did play in six games for Washington as a redshirt freshman, doing nothing of real significance, and then put up some legit numbers last year in juco ball. That said, 247 Sports (which has the only juco rankings I can find) has him listed as only the No. 156 juco prospect overall and No. 7 juco quarterback, right behind Jesse Scroggins and former Iowa backup A.J. Derby. So he's presumably still talented but not the borderline five-star everybody though he was a couple years ago (hence Tulane).

He'll definitely have a chance to play at Tulane, though (hence Tulane again): Starter Ryan Griffin and backup D.J. Ponder are both graduating, meaning the only real competition for the job will be Devin Powell, who had a touchdown and three picks in some meaningless time this year as a freshman. In other words, Montana will either be the starter next year or irrelevant forever.

So many wings: The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl apparently has a wing-eating contest for the affiliated teams, which ... I mean ... you know where this is going:
On Wednesday night, Michigan State and TCU combined to eat a ridiculous 7,330 wings at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Tempe in preparation for the bowl game on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. The Spartans won the competition by averaging 33 wings per player, while the Horned Frogs averaged just 20 per person. MSU’s team total got a pretty nice boost from offensive tackle Shawn Kamm, who came close to eating 65 wings, according to QB Andrew Maxwell.
I don't even WUT 65 WINGS LOL WWWHHEEEEE!!! Shawn Kamm's wing-eating ability apparently is rivaled only by his mustache-growing ability:


Jadeveon Clowney holy hell: I know: Jadeveon Clowney kills people. And by "people" I obviously mean "160-pound Michigan running backs":

It's science. Also science:

You win, Wikipedia-editing guy. BTW, that hit was only made possible by literally the worst call in the history of worst calls. No joke; attempted explanations are futile.

Of course he is: A.J. McCarron is dating Miss Alabama. Of course.

Except not of course because Miss Alabama is actually an Auburn alum, which OMG:
“I’m not trying to sabotage Alabama,” Webb said.

Some might consider it a necessary disclaimer, since she’s an Auburn University graduate. ... With the intense rivalry between the two schools, are Auburn-Alabama romances ever OK?

"Honestly, it's just a game," she said of the football rivalry.

Webb said her time as Miss Alabama taught her how to put some allegiances in perspective.

“When you’re a representative of the whole state, you have to kind of bypass your own feelings and love everyone,” she said.
/Paul Finebaum dies

Duke amazingness: I randomly came across this stat on Twitter the other day:
Since Duke's last bowl win in 1960, Duke has won 94 NCAA Tournament hoops games.
I have nothing to add.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year from creepy baby Les Miles

It's only appropriate that LSU just got done doing something entertaining since ... ummm ... I don't really have a good segue here. Just enjoy my now-annual New Year's Day offering:

Yes, that's Les Miles photoshopped into a diaper and a top hat. No, I don't have an explanation.
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