Saturday, January 12, 2013

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:



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