January 31st

Former Nebraska quarterback named offensive coordinator at Oregon

Can’t get rid of this guy …

From ESPN … Oregon has promoted former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost to offensive coordinator under new coach Mark Helfrich.

The move announced Thursday had been expected since Helfrich, the team’s former offensive coordinator, was made the Ducks’ head coach on Jan. 20. Frost will also serve as quarterbacks coach in his new role.

The 38-year-old has been Oregon’s wide receivers coach for the past four seasons under coach Chip Kelly, who left the Ducks earlier this month to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Frost was quarterback of the 1997 undefeated Huskers team that won the Orange Bowl over Tennessee. Before coming to Oregon, he was defensive coordinator at Northern Iowa.

“Scott is a bright, passionate and talented young coach who we are excited to lead our offense,” Helfrich said in a statement released by the Ducks. “His background on both sides of the ball, the coaches he’s been exposed to and his high character offer further foundations for his success. Surrounded by the continuity and support from the rest of our staff, we are confidently looking forward to this program’s continued success.”

Frost was on the road recruiting and was not immediately available for comment.

The Ducks, ranked No. 2 in the final AP Top 25, finished 12-1 this season, capped by a 35-17 victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon went 46-7 over the past four seasons under Kelly, who devised the Ducks’ innovative hurry-up spread offense. Over that span, the Ducks won three Pac-12 championships and played in four BCS bowl games, including the national championship game in 2010 against Auburn.

A Nebraska native, Frost started two seasons for the Cornhuskers under coach Tom Osborne after transferring from Stanford. His senior season he ran for 1,095 yards and passed for 1,237 yards in leading the Huskers to a 13-0 season capped by the 42-17 Orange Bowl victory over the Volunteers.

Frost was a third-round pick in the 1998 draft by the New York Jets and played six seasons in the NFL, with stops in Cleveland, Green Bay and Tampa Bay.

After his pro career, he was a graduate assistant coach at Nebraska. He joined Northern Iowa in 2007 as linebackers coach.

January 30th

Poll: 76% of USC fans don’t want Lane Kiffin as Trojans’ coach

From ESPN … It isn’t every day you inform USC’s Lane Kiffin that one of his own players questioned Kiffin’s ability to lead the Trojans’ program.

And it isn’t every day that Kiffin says, “That doesn’t surprise me one bit. … You got to blame somebody, so you’re going to blame the head coach — and you should. I blame myself for this.”

Wait. What? Was that actually Kiffin who fell on Tommy Trojan’s sword?

Yes, it was. In fact, during a nearly two-hour interview, Kiffin did more than just take responsibility for one of the most exasperating and spectacularly failed seasons in recent USC history. He also said he was a coaching work in progress, that he had needed to grow up, that he was sometimes his own worst enemy.

It wasn’t an apology, but it was an admission. And for Kiffin, that’s progress.

Nobody in college football takes more public relations body blows than Kiffin. USC athletic director Pat Haden, in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, referenced it as “The Kiffin Factor.”

“He’s anti-Teflon,” Haden told the Times. “I mean, stuff sticks to him that doesn’t even belong on him.”

Kiffin often can’t swing a chinstrap without creating a controversy. Soon he’ll be accused of being the phone voice of Lennay Kekua.

Of course, some of it is his own fault. As the 31-year-old head coach of the Oakland Raiders, he warred with owner Al Davis and was fired after losing 15 of his first 20 games. His one-season reign at Tennessee was a hit-and-run accident. And his third season as USC’s head coach was a living, breathing nightmare, full of injuries, losses and dysfunction.

Kiffin’s mistakes don’t seem to have an expiration date. People tend to love him or loathe him. If an LA Times readers poll is to be believed, he’s trending high on the loathe-a-meter. When asked if USC should keep Kiffin, 76 percent of the respondents answered, “No.”

“When you’re a sports figure and people dislike you, they’re going to look for the negatives,” Kiffin said. “Once you start rooting against somebody, you’re always going to look for the negative in everything they do.”

Negatives aren’t difficult to find in the Trojans’ 2012 season. In August they were the Associated Press’ preseason No. 1. In January, they were unranked and failed to receive even a single mercy vote in the final poll. North Dakota State did, but not mighty USC.

Kiffin blames himself for this — this being a 6-1 start, but a 1-5 finish. He blames himself for losses to rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, and a grotesque Hyundai Sun Bowl defeat to Georgia Tech, which entered the game with a 6-7 record.

In the end, it was a season of the wrong kinds of firsts for USC. It was the first time since 1964 that an AP preseason No. 1 finished unranked. It was the first time since 2001 that a USC team finished with six losses.

But 76 percent of LA Times respondents don’t want Kiffin gone because he gave the hook to a sports writer. They want him gone because the Trojans stunk it up during the second half of the season, because USC went from No. 1 to virtual irrelevancy, because nobody seems to remember Kiffin’s 10-2 record in 2011.

The Trojans never won a close game last season. They lost their rivalry games, lost to Stanford for a third time in a row under Kiffin and gave up 62 points in a non-overtime loss to Oregon. The Trojans finished 60th in total defense and 69th in rushing defense, resulting in the departure of Kiffin’s father and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. On offense, USC committed 34 turnovers, which ranked tied for 116th in the country.

The absolute low point was a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech, which had needed an NCAA waiver to become bowl eligible. Star quarterback Matt Barkley was out because of a shoulder injury. His replacement, redshirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek, couldn’t function in the 35 mph winds. And the Trojans’ defense couldn’t stop a Georgia Tech offense that would finish fourth in the country in rushing. Just to add to the fun, there was a postgame meltdown in the USC locker room.

A few weeks later, one Trojans player told me that Kiffin had “lost” the USC locker room. He described the defeat to Georgia Tech as, “getting boat-raced by a high school football team.”

So I asked the player, “Can Kiffin win at USC?”

“Yes, he can win,” said the player, who spoke under the condition of anonymity. “Do I think he is the coach of the future for the Trojans? I don’t know. I do know that Pat Haden didn’t hire Coach Kiffin. At SC, it’s all about winning. When you start off the preseason ranked No. 1 and you’re the first team in college football to lose six games, there’s a lot of pressure that following year.”

I read the key quotes back to Kiffin, including the player saying that he thought Kiffin was, “a great coach.” But make no mistake: the player questioned Kiffin’s ability to lead the program going forward.

“That doesn’t surprise me one bit,” Kiffin said. “When you have all the hype that this team had around it coming into this season — remember, these kids, everywhere they went, from the day Matt Barkley came back [for his senior season], was, ‘See you in the Orange Bowl [site of the Discover BCS National Championship]. I’m making my tickets already for Florida.’

“That’s where their minds were, regardless of what we said. Then when you go through that stretch at the end — the toll that takes on your players, losing five of six games … there’s not much positivity going on, no matter what you do. So to hear players upset or ‘lost’ the locker room, that’s going to happen. That does not surprise me at all.”

Did it hurt to hear?

“No, because I know the profession,” Kiffin said. “I know how it works. … Kids are going to be disgruntled, they’re going to be upset.”

Law proposed to force Texas and Texas A&M back together

For those of you old enough to remember when the Colorado State legislature, back in 1983, forced the Buffs – after 25 years – to resume its “rivalry” with Colorado State, this story might resonate …

From the Texas Tribune … bill that would require the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University to face each other on the football field every year was filed on Monday by state Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City.

The two flagship universities had a longstanding football rivalry, playing each other every year from 1914 until this past season. That all came to an end in 2012 following A&M’s move to the Southeastern Conference.

“This game is as much a Texas tradition as cowboy boots and barbeque,” Guillen, an A&M graduate, said. “The purpose of the bill is to put the eyes of Texas upon our two greatest universities to restore this sacred Texas tradition.”

House Bill 778, as filed, does not specify when the game should occur, but it does offer a penalty should it fail to happen: Whichever institution refused to participate in the showdown would suffer restrictions on its athletic scholarships.

Guillen, an A&M graduate, said it was too early to tell whether the legislation had a shot, but he said it was important to begin a dialogue about restoring the annual tradition.

“I think the people of Texas want a game, and we’re trying to get them one,” he said.

January 29th

Arizona running back in trouble … again

By itself, a minor incident, but when combined with Ka’Deem Carey’s past, if I were Rich Rodriguez, I would be considered that my star running back might not make it through next season …

From the Daily Wildcat … Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey was removed from Thursday’s basketball game against UCLA in McKale Center after a verbal confrontation with event staff and police, according to a campus police report.

The incident comes on the heels of earlier legal troubles for Carey, regarding a domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend in December.

Carey, an All-American running back for the UA in 2012 and the nation’s leading rusher, was removed from Thursday’s basketball game due to a “lack of cooperation” with UA event staff.

He and his cousin, Hakeem Adams-Johnson, were “double seated and sitting on the backs of the chairs.” Frank Duarte, a UA Athletics event staff member, initially asked Adams-Johnson and Carey to leave, according to the report.

Duarte asked them to move on “four occasions.” After Carey ignored him, a University of Arizona Police Department officer asked Carey to move and he complied.

Carey told the officer they were sitting in that area because “they couldn’t find their seats.”

When the officer asked both of them for their tickets, Carey responded, “Get the fuck out of my face.” He then asked, “Do you know who I am? I’m an All-American.”

The officer asked Carey and Adams-Johnson to accompany him outside. They agreed, but Carey approached the officer, asking what the problem was. He said that the pair did not actually have tickets, but were having problems getting them, according to the report.

Carey then “got close” to the officer, who told Carey to “back off.” When Carey did not comply, the officer spoke in “a louder voice” and Carey took several steps back, according to the report.

A background check did not return any warrants out for either man.

The officer told both that they would have to leave the game area. Adams-Johnson is not a UA student. Carey was referred to the Dean of Students Office for a code of conduct violation.

Earlier this month, Carey pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges. He is set to return to court on Feb. 6 for a pre-trial hearing.

January 28th

Tennessee over $200 million in debt

Enjoy that new contract, Butch Davis …

From Sports Business Journal … From the window in Dave Hart’s corner office, the University of Tennessee athletic director can see Neyland Stadium above all else, a fortress along the Tennessee River that instantly identifies the Volunteers as a member of college football’s elite.

Its enormity is a testament to the sport’s incredible growth during the past two decades and the power of the Tennessee brand. It also effectively conceals an athletic department that built enormous debt while trying to maintain its place among the richest and most powerful football programs in the Southeastern Conference.

Now, after staggering to losing football seasons in four of the last five years and seeing attendance drop to levels last seen in the 1970s, the Vols find themselves mired in more than $200 million of debt, the most in the SEC, with reserves of just $1.95 million, the least in the conference.

The athletic department spends a startling $21 million a year on debt payments, $13.5 million of which comes from the school’s stressed $99.5 million athletic budget and the rest from donations.

It’s an ugly financial picture for one of the nation’s strongest football brands, the kind of financial hole that SEC football giants aren’t supposed to be in, brought about by expensive coaching buyouts and costly improvements to Neyland Stadium and other athletic facilities, just as the losing seasons set in.

“We’ve got to get football healthy,” Hart said from his office in the new $50 million Brenda Lawson Athletic Center, just weeks after hiring Butch Jones from Cincinnati to be the Vols’ fourth football coach in the last six years. “That’s our economic engine. When that program is successful, everybody wins.”

Hart speaks with an urgency about the task at hand. Formerly the No. 2 at Alabama and the longtime AD at Florida State, he took the job in Knoxville 18 months ago fully aware of the upside and the pitfalls of big-time college football. After replacing former AD Mike Hamilton, who resigned under pressure in June 2011, Hart began with a lengthy evaluation process that revealed mounting debt, much more than he had realized.

“Our financial position was probably the biggest surprise of the assessment,” said Hart, bucking the perception that Tennessee athletics is flush with cash. “We’ve got to be better stewards of our finances.”

The bottom line is that, for SEC schools with extraordinary revenues, the profit margin is still very thin,” said Bill Carr, a former AD at Florida who now consults with athletic departments on strategy and searches. “Whether it’s Tennessee or any other school, if you’re not selling tickets at full bore and getting contributions to go with them, and that revenue tapers, it becomes very hard to put away the dollars you need. And then you have some undesired expenses like buyouts, and you can wind up in a negative position. The margin is razor thin for most schools.”

With those savings, Tennessee projects a balanced budget in 2012-13, which is a necessity for a program with just $1.95 million in reserves. Building reserves into the $50 million range or more is a priority, said Hart, who added that most SEC schools have reserves ranging from $50 million to $100 million.

Tennessee’s reserves were close to $30 million about five years ago, but they’ve been depleted by those $21 million in transfers back to the university over the last three years, and $11.4 million in buyouts to fired coaches in football, basketball and baseball, as well as administrators. Hamilton walked away in 2011 with a $1.335 million buyout.

None of that includes a $5 million buyout owed Derek Dooley, who was fired as Tennessee’s football coach in November, and $2 million to his assistants. That $7 million will have to be found in this year’s budget.

The financial cavalry is on the way, though, in the form of additional TV revenue from the SEC’s contracts with ESPN and CBS. Those deals average $205 million a year for the league and they are expected to jump to about $300 million annually when they are updated. The conference is renegotiating the contracts to account for the growth to 14 teams with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M.

Hart said SEC athletic directors have not been told exactly how much new revenue that will mean, but projections are $5 million to $10 million a year for each school. Nowhere in the SEC will that be more welcome than at Tennessee.

“We need to stabilize,” Hart said.

He also must make sure the Vols don’t follow any of the patterns that put them in such a financial mess. While college football was booming throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Tennessee was one of the schools leading the charge.

Peyton Manning, a 1998 national title and a burning rivalry with Florida had Big Orange fans feverish for their team and turning out in record numbers on fall Saturdays. Multiple expansion projects increased Neyland Stadium’s capacity to nearly 105,000 as Tennessee fought Michigan and Penn State for attendance supremacy.

These days, however, Tennessee football has lapsed into irrelevance. Only a season-finale win over hapless Kentucky enabled the Vols to avoid a winless 2012 SEC season.

While no one in orange would ever call Neyland Stadium a giant albatross around the neck of the athletic department — that would be sacrilege here in the mountains of east Tennessee — it simply isn’t doing its job as one of the program’s chief sources of revenue.

Attendance dropped to an average of 89,965 in 2012, the lowest since 1979. A couple of late-season games against Troy and Kentucky reportedly drew about 60,000 actual fans in the stands, even though the announced attendance — or tickets sold — was a little more than 81,000.

“We’ve been smart about our projections,” Hart said, adding that the decline in 2012 football ticket revenue won’t significantly hurt the Vols’ efforts to balance the budget in 2012-13.

But he knows that Tennessee can’t stay on its current financial path.

“What you’re seeing is the cost of keeping up with the competition,” Carr said. “You’re trying to keep up and then you wind up paying coaches not to coach. That can add up in a hurry.”


Coach MacIntyre discusses leaving San Jose State

From the San Jose Mercury News … It has been almost seven weeks since coach Mike MacIntyre left the thriving San Jose State football program to take the job at Colorado.

In the world of college football, change happens quickly. MacIntyre’s wife has found the family a new home, son Jay already is playing basketball for his new high school and, with the arrival of Millie, their golden retriever, the move to Colorado will be complete.

MacIntyre had orchestrated the greatest season in modern San Jose State history last fall, but he left Dec. 10 as the Spartans were gearing up for their first bowl game in six years. MacIntyre said he was not looking to leave.

“I really loved it at San Jose State,” he said this weekend in an interview at his football office on the Boulder campus. “But when you have success, things happen.”

What happened for MacIntyre, 47, was the opportunity to coach at a Pac-12 Conference school with a national championship on its résumé, albeit coming off its worst season ever at 1-11. He also could not ignore a contract offer: $2 million per season for five years.

“Any business person, if you get a phone call and they say they want to quadruple your salary for multiyears, anybody would say, ‘You better look at it,’ ” said MacIntyre, who earned about $465,000 in 2012 at SJSU.

“With college football, everybody puts so much passion and emotion into it.”

MacIntyre, who took the Spartans from a 1-12 record his first season in 2010 to a 10-2 regular-season mark last fall, had to put reason ahead of emotion.

Asked how he would respond to anyone suggesting he left only for the money, MacIntyre said: “They don’t know me. People that truly know me know what my heart’s about.”

MacIntyre said athletic director Gene Bleymaier made “a decent effort” to keep him at SJSU.He also confirmed he had discussions with Cal about the coaching job that eventually went to Western Athletic Conference rival Sonny Dykes of Louisiana Tech. The talks didn’t go far.

“I was happy for Sonny. He’s a good man, he’s a good coach, he treats people right,” said MacIntyre, noting that new Cal receivers coach Rob Likens is one of his closest friends. Colorado hosts Cal on Nov. 16 (and has a previously scheduled game vs. San Jose State in 2016).

There weren’t as many inquiries from schools as rumors suggested, MacIntyre said, but Colorado — despite its dismal 2012 season — stood out.

The Buffs haven’t had a winning season since 2005, and the move to the Pac-12 last season has exposed their need for speed. CU also is generally considered to have among the worst athletic facilities in the Pac-12.

What MacIntyre saw reminded him of SJSU — a job he said he was universally advised against taking. He sensed a hunger to return to CU’s glory days, when from 1989-2001 the Buffs won at least 10 games six times, including a national title in 1990.

“There’s a lot of people here who want to be successful,” he said. “I felt it was the same way when I went to San Jose State. I walked in there believing we were going to do it, and I believe everybody caught that vision.”

The postscript to his three seasons was the Spartans’ 29-20 win over Bowling Green at the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Washington, D.C. — their 11th win of the season. MacIntyre watched the game on TV with his family from the den of their San Jose home in what he called a “surreal, gut-wrenching” day.

“When we won that game,” he said, “there wasn’t a dry eye in our house. It was kind of a culmination for us, but we weren’t there.”

CU athletic director Mike Bohn believes the man he hired will build a winner and inspire donors to fund facilities improvements. In the interview process, Bohn said he was struck by MacIntyre’s clear message and unpretentious confidence.

“He has a warm, user-friendly, attractive appeal,” Bohn said. “He’s real.”

Recruiting has been MacIntyre’s focus. The Buffs got a commitment from Ryan Severson, a running back from Valley Christian-San Jose, who previously planned to attend SJSU, and Colorado is among the schools in pursuit of cornerback Chidobe Awuzie of Oak Grove-San Jose.

Although he is an obvious example of how state schools such as SJSU will be financially challenged to keep a hot coach, MacIntyre said what was accomplished the past three seasons proves the Spartans can win.

Even moving into the tougher Mountain West Conference next season, MacIntyre believes the combination of the Silicon Valley, weather and access to talent makes SJSU the best destination in the league.

“I definitely think it’s sustainable because there are enough good players in the state of California,” he said. “If they just keep moving forward and don’t relax, I think they can be very, very good, year in and year out.”

Oregon heading to Virginia for 2013 season opener

From ESPN … Virginia and Oregon announced Monday that they have scheduled a home-and-home series, the first ever meeting between the two programs.

The teams are scheduled to meet Sept. 7, 2013, in Charlottesville, and the Cavaliers will make the trip to Eugene’s Autzen Stadium in 2016.

Oregon replaces Penn State on Virginia’s schedule for the upcoming season. The Cavaliers originally had been scheduled to visit the Nittany Lions.

Virginia previously announced the 2013 season would begin with an Aug. 31 home game against BYU. The Cavaliers are scheduled to play eight home games for the first time in school history — quite a tantalizing home slate with these two non-conference games, plus Virginia Tech, Clemson and Georgia Tech.

“We initiated a conversation with Oregon about a potential game in 2017 in Europe,” Virginia executive associate athletics director Jon Oliver said in a statement. “As the conversation progressed, it became clear we might have an opportunity to initiate a series in 2013 starting in Charlottesville. We saw that as a great opportunity for our program and our fans.”

Virginia is coming off a 4-8 season, and coach Mike London has restructured his entire coaching staff. A challenging non-conference slate, however, is something he is looking forward to.

“We want our players to be able to compete against great teams,” London said. “Bringing BYU and Oregon to Scott Stadium to start the season will be a tremendous challenge, but one our team is preparing for now and is very excited.”

Oregon defensive back dismissed from team

From 247Sports.com … James Scales III has been dismissed from the Oregon football team for ‘violation of team rules’, according to a University of Oregon spokesperson who confirmed the news for DuckTerritory Saturday afternoon.

In 2012, Scales played in seven games and recorded six total tackles, one pass breakup, and one pass defended. In 2011, Scales played in three games and had a career-high three tackles in Oregon’s win at Colorado. Scales enrolled in the spring prior to the 2010 season to participate in spring practice. He redshirted in 2010.

Scales was a three-star recruit out of the 2010 class.

Scales is the fourth player to transfer out of the Oregon program from the 2010 class. Bryan Bennett recently transferred out this month while Dontae Williams and Lache Seastrunk left prior to last year starting.

Brandon Williams, Nick Rowland, and Curtis White have also left the program due to injuries and were part of the 2010 class.

January 26th

Dan Hawkins heading north?

Jon Embree has already gone back to the NFL, landing a job as the tight ends coach for the Cleveland Browns. His predecessor, Dan Hawkins, though, has been out of coaching the past two seasons.

But that might be about to change …

From the Montreal Gazette … It’s not yet carved in stone, but it continues to remain a strong possibility the Alouettes will look south for their next head coach, selecting a candidate with no Canadian Football League experience.

Football insiders believe three U.S. coaches are beginning to emerge as the leading candidates to replace Marc Trestman, hired last week by the Chicago Bears.

The names being mentioned are Turk Schonert, Dan Hawkins and Kurt Schottenheimer, The Gazette has learned. But it’s also believed Danny Maciocia remains on the Als radar and will be invited to Palm Beach Fla., in the coming days to meet with Montreal owner Robert Wetenhall and general manager Jim Popp.

… Hawkins, 52, is a former college fullback who began his NCAA Division I-A coaching career as an assistant at Boise State in 1998. He was named head coach in 2001, leading the Broncos to an overall 53-11 record. Hawkins holds a 31-game Western Athletic Conference winning streak, the longest in conference history.

He moved to the Colorado Buffaloes in December 2005, signing a five-year contract that paid $900,000 annually. With incentives, he could earn $1.5-million. But Hawkins failed to enjoy similar success, going 19-39 overall. He was fired nine games into the 2010 season. His buyout was approximately $2-million.

January 25th

Jimmy Smith looking to become the latest Buff with a Super Bowl ring

From cubuffs.com … Last Sunday Jimmy Smith and Nate Solder, who played together during their respective CU careers, battled for the AFC Championship in Foxborough, Mass. With the Super Bowl on the line, there was no time for reminiscing.

This was a familiar scene for the two second-year NFL players as both were a part of last year’s conference championship game. The rematch, however, produced far different results as Baltimore delivered a dominant performance to defeat New England 28-13.

Solder is the starting left tackle for the Patriots offense, which was one of the most efficient in the NFL during the regular season. But that was not the story on Sunday. Instead it was the impressive Baltimore defense with Smith in the secondary.

New England took an early lead and had a 13-7 advantage at halftime, but that’s when the script changed as the Ravens defense took over in the second half.

Baltimore did not allow the New England offense, who led the league in total offense, a single point in the final 30 minutes of play. On three separate occasions, the Patriots offense entered Ravens territory but was forced to punt.

The stellar Baltimore defense was superb in the final two quarters at it allowed their offense to score three touchdowns and punch their ticket New Orleans.

In the contest, Smith recorded two tackles while playing both cornerback and on special teams. The Colorado alum had 34 total tackles during the regular season.

Smith and Solder have now faced each other three times during their first two seasons in the NFL, with Smith leading the series 2-1.

Baltimore will play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 (4:30 p.m. MST, CBS).

Here is a list of CU players with Super Bowl rings:

1966Green Bay – Boyd Dowler, E

1967 – Green Bay – Boyd Dowler, E

1972 – Miami – Dick Anderson, DB

1973  – Miami – Dick Anderson, DB

1976  – Oakland – Cliff Branch, WR Terry Kunz, RB

1980 – Oakland – Cliff Branch, WR, Mike L. Davis DB, Odis McKinney, DB, Greg Westbrooks LB

1982 – San Francisco – George Visger, DT

1983 – L.A. Raiders – Cliff Branch, WR, Mike L. Davis, DB, Don Hasselbeck, TE, Odis McKinney, DB

1985 – Chicago – Brian Cabral, LB, Emery Moorhead, WR

1986 – N.Y. Giants – Lee Rouson, RB

1987 – Washington – Eric Coyle, C, Richard Johnson, WR

1988 – San Francisco – Barry Helton, P

1989 – San Francisco – Barry Helton, P

1992 – Dallas – Mickey Pruitt, LB

1996 – Green Bay – Shannon Clavelle, DT, Darius Holland, DT

1997 – Denver – Matt Lepsis, OT, Tom Rouen, P, Alfred Williams, DE

1998 – Denver – Matt Lepsis, OT, Viliami Maumau, DT, Tom Rouen, P, Alfred Williams, DE

2001 – New England – Tom Ashworth, OT, Charles E. Johnson, WR, Ted Johnson, ILB, Ben Kelly, CB/KR

2003 – New England – Tom Ashworth, OT, Christian Fauria, TE, Daniel Graham, TE, Ted Johnson, ILB

2004 – New England – Tom Ashworth, OT, Christian Fauria, TE, Daniel Graham, TE, Ted Johnson, ILB

2008 – Pittsburgh – Mitch Berger, P

2010 – Green Bay – Mason Crosby, PK, Brad Jones, OLB

January  24th

USC Athletic Director behind Lane Kiffin “137.5%”

From the Los Angeles Times … With Heritage Hall undergoing a yearlong face-lift, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and other department officials set up offices last month in a university-owned shopping center across the street from campus.

A tobacco shop sits directly across the walkway, a nail salon and food court across the courtyard.

The situation is clearly temporary.

And that’s how Haden, who oversees 21 sports and a program that generates more than $80 million in revenue, views the recent fortunes of USC’s high-profile programs.

After opening last football season No. 1, the Trojans stumbled to an embarrassing 7-6 record under embattled Coach Lane Kiffin. Haden last week fired basketball coach Kevin O’Neill midway through his fourth season. And the once-dominant baseball program has been absent from the NCAA tournament for nearly a decade.

Asked to describe the state of USC athletics, Haden says, “The sky is not falling, in spite of what some people read and think and write.”

After USC’s football team lost to UCLA in November, Haden went on record saying “Lane is my head coach 150%.”

Last week, he quipped, “I guess the math doesn’t work.”

Asked if there has been an adjustment in the percentage, he says, “137.5%,” adding, “I understand people disagree with me. . . . But in my judgment, and I get paid to make the best decisions I can for USC, there’s no reason that Lane Kiffin shouldn’t be our coach.”

Haden acknowledges that the Trojans “played horribly a couple times,” and “got shredded on defense a couple times” and “turned the ball over way too much.”

But . . .

“These are things that all can be fixed,” he says. “And they all can be fixed by Lane Kiffin.”

So too, he says, can “some of Lane’s slip-ups,” several of which had little to do with the Xs and O’s of football.

In September, a reporter was banned from practice after he accurately reported that a player underwent surgery. Kiffin also abruptly bolted from a post-practice news conference when asked about a player returning from injury.

In October, a USC quarterback was instructed by coaches to wear another player’s jersey number on special teams in the first half against Colorado, and then played later in the game in his usual number. In November, the Pac-12 Conference fined USC $25,000 after it was discovered that a student manager intentionally deflated USC footballs before a game against Oregon. The season ended with the embarrassing Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech, punctuated by news stories last week that portrayed a heated postgame locker-room scene.

“His reputation,” Haden says of Kiffin, “it’s going to be really hard to sanitize that over time unless he kind of wins a lot of games and does things right, which we plan to do.”

But Haden says that Kiffin suffers from what the coach has described as “the Kiffin factor.”

Haden says Kiffin had nothing to do with USC’s not allowing visiting teams to conduct walk-throughs at the Coliseum the day before games, or with the deflated-footballs incident. But, he acknowledges, “we messed up on the jerseys, there’s no doubt about that. Could he have handled the media better? No doubt about that.”

Asked to list three of Kiffin’s strengths, Haden offers work ethic, recruiting and play-calling.

“Now, again,” he says, “that’s going to raise, with some people, some rawness.” But Haden says offensive production during Kiffin’s tenure has been “pretty good, some of it sensational, now not all the way through.”

Asked what Kiffin needs to do to keep his job, Haden demurs.

“I’m not answering that question,” he says, adding, “Sometimes when you’re calling plays . . . you don’t sense maybe the whole team. So I think he has to really sense the whole team and feel and have the relationship with the whole team. . . . Secondly, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff, Lane.’ Don’t worry about injury reporting at practice and whatever other things we kind of trip ourselves up on — jersey numbers and things.

“Let’s just focus on ourselves and not focus on anything else but us getting better.”


January 23rd

Washington State banned from Texas high school

From the Dallas Morning News … Recruiting can be a cutthroat business.

Claude Mathis, DeSoto’s head coach since 2008 and a former star running back at Southwest Texas State, understands that; he’s seen promises from college coaches go unfulfilled during his tenure.

But what happened to senior defensive back Myron Turner, Mathis said, is just unforgivable.

Turner, a 6-0, 175-pound safety for the 5A Division I semifinalists, took his official visit to Washington State last weekend. He’d been committed to Mike Leach since October, and – according to Mathis – had since spurned all other suitors.

Nevertheless, Mathis got a call on Monday that Washington State was no longer going to honor its offer, deciding to go with a bigger safety. Mathis thought the new offer was to a junior college prospect that could start right away. That might not be the case; Amarillo Palo Duro safety Montrel Meander (6-3, 185) received an offer from Washington State and committed last weekend.

“You just don’t do a kid like that,” Mathis said. “Washington State isn’t welcome at DeSoto any longer.”

Mathis said he understood that pulling offers happens, but that switch shouldn’t occur two weeks away from National Signing Day (Feb. 6), especially when Turner had been steadfast in his commitment and so few other FBS options were still on the table. What made Mathis even more unhappy was that Leach took a visit to DeSoto last week, sitting in Mathis’ office and not once mentioning that Turner’s offer might be at risk.

“He didn’t say a thing,” Mathis said.

Mathis said he has been hitting the phones over the past few days, trying to find a spot for Turner, who’s now without a FBS offer.

“He’s really hurt right now,” Mathis said of Turner

January 22nd

Mountain West to have two divisions – “Mountain” and “West” (how clever)

From ESPN … The Mountain West voted to hold a conference football championship game on Saturday, Dec. 7. and name its divisions “Mountain” and “West.”

The league’s athletic directors approved the addition of the football championship game Tuesday along with splitting the MWC’s 12-teams into two six-team divisions. The division champion with the highest BCS ranking would host the title game.

It has not been determined which network will televise the championship.

The Mountain division will consist of Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State and Wyoming. The West will feature Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, UNLV, San Diego State and San Jose State.

All the Mountain division teams are in the Mountain time zone, and all the West division teams except Hawaii are in the Pacific time zone.

The Mountain West will be the seventh conference to hold a football championship game this fall, joining the ACC, Big Ten, Conference USA, Mid-American, Pac-12 and SEC. The only leagues without a conference title game are the Big 12, Big East and Sun Belt.

January 20th

Mark Helfrich named head coach at Oregon

From the USA Today … An Oregon tradition – promoting from within – will continue.

Oregon is expected to announce the promotion of offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to head coach today, completing a plan the school has had in place for almost a year, according to a person with knowledge of the school’s plans. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

USA TODAY Sports reported the informal succession plan to replace Chip Kelly on Jan. 4, just before Oregon played Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl and just before Kelly spent several days interviewing with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills before deciding to remain a college coach. When Kelly made an abrupt reversal last Wednesday, taking the Eagles’ job, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said the school would conduct a national search and said the school did not have a specific timetable for a hire.

Helfrich, 39, who has been Kelly’s offensive coordinator for four seasons, is seen as the best choice to promote continuity in hopes of continuing the football program’s run of unprecedented success. Before he could be promoted, though, the school had to comply with a state law requiring public universities to interview at least one minority candidate for head-coaching positions. Adopted in 2009 – a few months after Kelly was named Oregon’s coach-in-waiting, then promoted to succeed Mike Bellotti – the law is similar to the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” but carries no penalties.

Mullens conducted several interviews, including at least two with other Oregon assistant coaches. On Friday, according to the person with knowledge of the school’s plans, Mullens interviewed then-Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, fulfilling the state law’s requirements. Hamilton was named the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive coordinator shortly afterward.

CBSSports.com, The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., and The Oregonian are also reporting Helfrich’s hire will be announced today. Along with Helfrich’s promotion, The Register-Guard reported receivers coach Scott Frost would move up to offensive coordinator. The Ducks may also retain most of a veteran assistant coaching staff.

January 17th

Pac-12 Recruiting

ESPN’s Kevin Gemmell has put together a synopsis of where the Pac-12 schools are with three weeks left to go in the recruiting race. The full article can be found here.

Suffice it to say that Colorado is trailing the Pac right now, and is not likely to lap very many other schools between now and February 6th.

Some highlights from the article:

– Colorado does not have any current recruits in the ESPN list of Top 300 players nationally. The only other Pac-12 schools without a Top 300 recruit are Utah and Washington State;

– Arizona, Oregon, and Arizona State have only one Top 300 player on their lists, California two;

– Oregon has only four Top 300 players out of its 13 commitments;

– USC has only 14 commitments, but all 14 are in the ESPN Top 300 (the rest of the Pac-12 has 23 combined).

Arizona running back transferring to Washington State

From the Arizona Daily Star … Former Arizona Wildcats running back Daniel Jenkins will transfer to Washington State, he tweeted tonight. Jenkins, who has one season of eligibility remaining, graduated from the UA in December.

NCAA rules allow Jenkins to play right away as long as he enrolls in a graduate program at Washington State that is unavailable at Arizona.

“UofA will always be my Alma Mater, I am excited for the new opportunity to play against the best of the best and achieve my goals at WSU,” Jenkins tweeted.

Jenkins served as Ka’Deem Carey’s backup in 2012 and rushed for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He was likely to serve in the same role in his final season.

The Moreno Valley, Calif., native hasn’t enrolled at Washington State and it’s unclear whether he will do so this semester or wait until the summer or fall.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez first announced Jenkins would transfer in December, four days after the Wildcats’ New Mexico Bowl win over Nevada.

“He’s a good football player, and he’s going to make a decision on what’s best for him,” Rodriguez said then. “He’s done everything right by the university with the way he’s played, the way he’s graduated and the way he’s acted. … Just a great young man.”

January 16th

Chip Kelly to Philadelphia Eagles

This is not a drill … ESPN and NFL.com are reporting that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is actually heading off to the NFL, and has taken the job as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

UPDATE – It has been confirmed by the University of Oregon … Kelly is leaving Oregon …

From ESPN … “Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles,” said owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh, energetic approach to our team.”

This will be the 49-year-old Kelly’s first head-coaching job in the NFL.

The Eagles had interviewed Kelly early in its search for a replacement for longtime coach Andy Reid, talking to the coach in Arizona after the Ducks’ 35-17 Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State.

But sources had told ESPN after the meeting that Kelly had decided to stay at Oregon. The school never made an official announcement regarding Kelly’s employment with the team, however.

Kelly is 46-7 in four years as head coach at Oregon. The Ducks have been to four straight BCS bowl games — including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago — and have won three Pac-12 championships.

He originally came to the Ducks in 2007 as offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, where he started devising the innovative hurry-up offense the Ducks are known for today.

San Diego State to abandon Big East, re-join Mountain West

Of course, this makes total sense (just as San Diego State being a member of the Big East never made sense), but it’s getting close to being official …

From CBSSports.com … Both the Big East and San Diego State are preparing to announce that San Diego State will be leaving the conference before it ever officially joined the conference. Blaudschun reports the announcement should come in the “next few days.”

And as was the case when Boise State left the Big East in late December, San Diego State will be leaving the Big East in order to remain with the Mountain West. However, unlike Boise State, San Diego State will not have to pay the Big East an exit fee. The school negotiated a clause in its deal with the conference that if Boise State backed out it would be able to do so as well at no cost.

San Diego State’s return to the Mountain West now gives the MWC 12 schools for the 2013 season. Meanwhile, the Big East is still expanding from eight to 10 schools in 2013 despite the losses of Boise State and San Diego State. Their departures don’t mean the movement in the conference has stopped.


January 15th

High school coach blasts Lane Kiffin for pulling scholarship offer

From YahooSports.com … Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High School and USC coach Lane Kiffin are at odds thanks to a deferred scholarship.

Defensive end Kylie Fitts, a four-star recruit Rivals ranked seventh nationally at his position, was committed to USC and took extra high school classes so he could graduate early and enroll at the university in January.

Fitts talked to a couple USC coaches at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5 and they said they were ready to have him on campus. But the following Monday, he received a call saying his scholarship was no longer available for the spring semester.

Fitts was supposed to be on campus on Jan. 10.

The Trojans didn’t pull his scholarship entirely, but deferred him to the fall. However, since Fitts had already graduated high school, he had nowhere to go and didn’t want to wait.

“Recruiting man, it’s crazy,” Redlands East Valley coach Kurt Bruich told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. “He’s wanted to go to USC for as long as he can remember and now he feels betrayed. He did everything he was supposed to do from his end and he was a loyal kid. I think they thought because of that loyalty he’d still want to go there. He said to me ‘What am I supposed to do for the next five months?’ It seems shady. I think it seems shady to everyone.”

Consequently, Fitts, who was recruited and offered by several major programs around the country, has decommitted from the Trojans and opened up his recruiting.

Bruich told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that Notre Dame, Washington and UCLA were all back in the mix.

Peyton Williams lands in Lubbock

Colorado lost two grayshirts from the Recruiting Class of 2012. Defensive lineman Kisima Jagne and wide recevier Peyton Williams both ended up in their home states, with Jagne opting for Arizona State; Williams for Texas Tech.

Peyton Williams tore his ACL during a playoff game in his senior year, and he and the coaches decided to give him an extra year to heal. Williams paid his own way for school this past fall, giving him the option to transfer and play immediately.

CU fans shouldn’t feel all that bad for losing Williams. Not that he was a poor prospect (quite the contrary), but that it wasn’t the new staff which caused him to return to Texas. “The coaches were great and all that,” said Williams. “I just want to be closer to home (Southlake, Texas). It is an awesome environment, but I didn’t feel like I fit in as well as maybe I could somewhere else … I am a Texas kid, and I want to stay close to my family.”

Best wishes to Peyton and his family … good luck with the Red Raiders!

January 12th

UCLA head coach ends flirtation with San Diego Chargers, earns contract extension

From CBSSportsline … UCLA head coach Jim Mora agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2017 on Friday after revitalizing the Bruins in his debut season.

Mora led UCLA to nine victories, the Pac-12 South title and a Holiday Bowl berth just one year after replacing Rick Neuheisel at a school that hadn’t won even eight games in a season since 2005.

The former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach adjusted splendidly to the college game, even beating crosstown rival Southern California while climbing as high as No. 15 in the rankings.

“What Jim Mora has accomplished in just one season as our head coach is remarkable,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. “The wins, the Pac-12 South championship and the bowl berth were accompanied by an equally impressive performance by the team in the classroom and in the community.”

The Bruins (9-5) lost their final three games, including two meetings with Rose Bowl champion Stanford before a 49-26 loss to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. But the quiet finish didn’t dampen the renewed enthusiasm for football in Westwood, where the athletic department has embarked on plans to improve its football training complex.

Mora said he’s grateful to Guerrero “for his commitment to me and my staff, and our shared belief that we are on the road to creating something very special.”

“I believe UCLA will win championships,” Mora added. “The 2012 team established a foundation which will launch us forward. Our staff, our returning players, our administration and the entire Bruin community are pulling together in an effort to win championships.”

January 10th

CU’s 2013 schedule announced

Colorado will open Pac-12 play on the road against Oregon State. The trip to Corvallis will come after a bye week, and will be the Buffs’ first out of state trip this fall. Oregon State is the only Pac-12 team the Buffs have yet to face, having not seen the Beavers since 1988 (see the “Archive Game of the Week”).

The annual Family Weekend game will be CU’s first Pac-12 home conference game on Oct. 5, with Oregon set as the opponent. The Ducks finished No. 2 in both major polls with a 12-1 record and a big 35-17 win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl in 2012. Homecoming will follow later in the month on Oct. 26 against Arizona, which was 8-5 including a thrilling come-from-behind 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. In-between, the Buffs play at Arizona State on Sept. 12, with the Sun Devils coming off an 8-5 year as well with a 62-28 win over Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Colorado will play five games in November, just the fifth time in its history and the first since 1958 that many are scheduled in the “turkey month.” The Buffs have back-to-back road games for the only time during the season to open the month, visiting defending Pac-12 North Division champion UCLA (Nov. 2) and then Washington (Nov. 9). Those will be followed by two home games in a row, California (Nov. 16) and USC (Nov. 23). UCLA, Washington and USC all played in bowl games last fall, but all came up short of victory.

The season finale will be at Utah on Saturday, Nov. 30. Colorado had played the Friday after Thanksgiving for the last 17 seasons, or every year from 1996 through 2012, but this year’s rivalry game with the Utes returns to Saturday as the Pac-12’s television partners (ESPN, FOX) selected Oregon State at Oregon and Washington State at Washington as the two games they desired for the Friday slots.

In fact, CU does not have a weeknight game in 2013, the first time since 1995 that the Buffaloes will play every regular season game on a Saturday. The Pac-12 Championship game is also moving to Saturday after being played on Friday in its first two years of existence.

The Buffaloes will have two byes, which fall on Sept. 21 and Oct. 19. While CU had two Saturdays off last year, it was because of a weeknight game against Arizona State; the last time Colorado had two natural byes in the same season was in 2008. The Buffs had two bye weeks every year from 1996 through 2005, one usually after non-league play and the other prior to the regular season finale against Nebraska.

Date Opponent Site

Aug. 31 Colorado State Denver



Sept. 21 bye

Sept. 28 at Oregon State Corvallis


Oct. 12 at Arizona State Tempe

Oct. 19 bye


Nov. 2 at UCLA Los Angeles

Nov. 9 at Washington Seattle



Nov. 30 at Utah Salt Lake City

(FW – Family Weekend; HC – Homecoming. CSU is the home team for the game in Denver.)

Worst to First – Greg Brown hired as defensive backs coach at Alabama

University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced Wednesday the hiring of Greg Brown as Alabama’s secondary coach. Brown has three decades of coaching experience, including 15 years as an assistant coach in the NFL. He spent the last three seasons in the college ranks at Colorado and Arizona. Brown takes over for Jeremy Pruitt, who was recently named the defensive coordinator at Florida State.

“I’m extremely happy to add a coach the caliber of Greg Brown to our staff,” said head coach Nick Saban. “Greg has a tremendous amount of college and NFL experience, and his knowledge in the secondary really made him the perfect fit for this position. He will be an outstanding addition to our coaching staff and we look forward to Greg and his family joining our staff at the University of Alabama.”

Brown served as the defensive coordinator at the University of Colorado over the last two seasons, his third stint with the Buffaloes. He spent the 2010 season as the co-defensive coordinator at Arizona, helping the Wildcats return to the Top 25 for the first time in over a decade. From 2006-09, Brown was the secondary coach at Colorado and worked as the defensive passing game coordinator during the last three of those seasons.

“It is an honor and an unbelievable opportunity to join the staff at the University of Alabama,” said Brown. “I’ve known and respected Coach Saban for many years and he is the best in the country at what he does. It is the dream of any defensive coach to learn from Coach Saban, especially at a place with Alabama’s great tradition and history. I look forward to doing my part to help continue the success with the top college football program in the nation.”

January 9th

San Diego Chargers contact UCLA’s Jim Mora

From the LA Times … The San Diego Chargers have contacted UCLA football Coach Jim Mora about their head-coaching vacancy through his representatives, according to multiple people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly.

UCLA had a record of 9-5 in Mora’s first season as coach. Mora is likely to remain in Westwood, with UCLA boosting the pay for his assistant coaches and improving the team’s facilities, people in the university’s athletic department said.

Mora did not respond to phone calls or text messages.

In an email to UCLA boosters and donors Tuesday, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero praised Mora and the Bruins’ dedication and said, “Rest assured that I, along with Chancellor [Gene] Block and the university, share that dedication to Jim and the team, and together we are committed to, step-by-step, reaching new heights in UCLA football.”

UCLA is expected to announce plans for a new football facility within the next two weeks.

UCLA had already started increasing salaries for assistant coaches. UCLA paid assistants $2.17 million in 2012 and had five under contract for $975,000 for next season. Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm — one of the coaches already under contract for 2013 — has received a $50,000 raise offer that would boost his pay to $325,000, a person familiar with the situation said.

The Chargers are searching for a new head coach after firing Norv Turner last week.

Mora has the NFL experience and familiarity with the Chargers. He was coach for the Atlanta Falcons for three seasons and the Seattle Seahawks for one season. He began his coaching career as an assistant with the Chargers in 1985.

Mora has a five-year, $11.235-million contract at UCLA. He would have to pay $3 million if he terminates his contract before Jan. 16, or $2.5 million if he left in the year after that.

Playoff to include Rose/Sugar bowl rotation

From CBSSportsline.com … Get ready for the longest college football season ever.

The BCS commissioners assured that Tuesday when they released the dates and six-game playoff bowl rotation of the new playoff beginning in 2014. For the 11th time during 12 years of the four-team playoff, the championship game will be played in the second week of January. The latest end to a season will be Jan. 13, 2020, and 2025.

That after former Oregon president Dave Frohnmayer once famously declared as a member of the BCS presidential oversight committee that there should be no more second-semester football. Based on this release, there is going to be a lot of second-semester football.

Assuming an Aug. 31 start to the 2019 and 2024 seasons, there would be 138 days between season kickoff and the national championship game. Previously, the latest game fell on Jan. 10, 2011, the date Auburn beat Oregon for the 2010 BCS national championship.

The Rose and Sugar bowls will host the first national semis Jan. 1, 2015. Each of the six playoff bowls — three are yet to be determined — will host a national semifinal four times through the 12-year term of the contract. In eight of the 12 years, three playoff games will be played days after the national semis — sort of like the NIT following the Final Four.

“It was discussed,” BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. “The fact is there are these six top-tier bowl games on those two days and those days are going to belong to college football.”

Hancock explained that existing contracts between the Rose and Sugar bowls and their conferences to play on Jan. 1 (Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC) was part of the reason the two are paired together on the same dates throughout.

“[Also] calendar issues, days of rest [for players],” Hancock said. “Sugar and Rose were paired together because of days of rest.”

In the new playoff era, the average layoff between semifinals and championship game is nine days. Twice there will be a 12-day layoff. Seven times during the 12 years, there will be a gap of at least nine days between the semis and championship game.

The rotation:

2015 (2014 season): Rose-Sugar, national semifinals, Thurs. Jan. 1 at 5 pm ET and approximately 8 pm ET

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 12.

(Orange bowl and three other access bowls will be played Dec. 31 and Jan. 1)

2016: National semifinals at TBA, Thurs., Dec. 31

Rose-Sugar: Friday, Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 11

(Three other playoff bowls TBA)

2017: National semifinals at TBA, Saturday, Dec. 31

Rose-Sugar: Monday, Jan. 2

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 9

(Three other playoff bowls TBA)

2018: Rose-Sugar national semifinals, Monday, Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 8

(Orange bowl and three other access bowls will be played Dec. 30 and Jan. 1)

2019: National semifinals at TBA, Mon., Dec. 31

Rose-Sugar: Tuesday, Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 7

(Three other playoff bowls TBA)

2020: National semifinals at TBA, Tuesday, Dec. 31

Rose-Sugar: Wednesday, Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 13

(Three other playoff bowls TBA)

2021: Rose-Sugar national semifinals, Friday, Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 11

(Orange bowl and three other access bowls will be played Dec. 31 and Jan. 1)

2022: National semifinals at TBA, Fri., Dec. 31

Rose-Sugar: Saturday, Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 10

(Three other playoff bowls TBA)

2023: National semifinals at TBA, Saturday, Dec. 31

Rose-Sugar: Monday, Jan. 2

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 9

(Three other playoff bowls TBA)

2024: Rose-Sugar national semifinals, Monday, Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 8

(Orange bowl and three other access bowls will be played Dec. 30 and Jan. 1)

2025: National semifinals at TBA, Tues., Dec. 31

Rose-Sugar: Wed., Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 13

(Three other playoff bowls TBA)

2026: National semifinals at TBA, Wed., Dec. 31

Rose-Sugar: Thursday, Jan. 1

Championship game: Monday, Jan. 12

(Three other playoff bowls TBA)

Note: Three playoff bowls in the rotation are still to be selected. They are expected to be in Glendale, Ariz. (Fiesta), Arlington, Texas (Cotton) and Atlanta (Chick-fil-A).

January 8th

Pac-12 finds no abuse at Washington State

From ESPN … A Pac-12 investigation found no evidence of physical or mental abuse of players in the Washington State football program under coach Mike Leach, the league said Tuesday

The findings of the independent review mirrored the findings of Washington State’s own internal review of the allegations, which was released last month.

Former Washington State receiver Marquess Wilson contended near the end of last football season that players were suffering physical and mental abuse at the hands of coaches. Wilson, who quit the team, subsequently recanted his allegations.

But university President Elson Floyd asked the school and the Pac-12 to investigate the charges anyway. “I am pleased with the outcome of both reviews,” Floyd said in a press release Tuesday. “The well-being of all WSU students is our highest priority and it was important to take seriously allegations against the program.”

The Pac-12 report was compiled after 20 interviews with coaches, players, parents of players and athletic department staff members.

Wilson, the leading receiver in Washington State history, contended in a letter sent to journalists on Nov. 10 that he quit the team prior to the UCLA game as a protest to “physical, emotional and verbal abuse” by the coaching staff. He complained that coaches would “belittle, intimidate and humiliate us.” He did not provide details. The same night he sent the letter, Wilson sent a text message to athletic director Bill Moos in which he recanted those allegations. Leach also has denied the allegations of abuse.

The Pac-12 investigation was conducted by the law firm of Bond Schoeneck & King of Overland Park, Kan. Investigators interviewed Wilson, who told them there was no physical abuse.

“I wasn’t trying to accuse anybody of abuse,” the report quoted Wilson as saying. “I mean, they never touched us.” Wilson said he was just trying to explain why he quit the team. “I definitely could have used a different word,” Wilson said. “I couldn’t think of anything or another word at the time I was writing it.”

Leach told investigators that Wilson “never worked hard” and was criticized by coaches for that.

Moos, the athletic director, said the release of the Pac-12 report should bring an end to the issue.

Oregon No. 2 in final polls

The Oregon Ducks, who finished off a 12-1 season with a Fiesta Bowl romp over Kansas State, finished No. 2 in the final AP poll.

Other than Oregon, only Stanford (No. 7) and Oregon State (No. 20) were in the final rankings (with UCLA amongst the “others receiving votes”).

San Jose State, Mike MacIntyre’s former team, finished the season ranked No. 21.

AP Top 25
1Alabama (59)13-11475
3Ohio State12-01302
4Notre Dame12-11288
5Texas A&M11-21230
8South Carolina11-21038
10Florida State12-2922
12Kansas State11-2871
16Utah State11-2456
18Boise State11-2419
20Oregon State9-4303
21San Jose State11-2243
22Northern Illinois12-2227
  • Others receiving votes: Baylor 95, Penn State 90, Cincinnati 78, Oklahoma State 42, Tulsa 34, UCLA 31, Arkansas State 28, UCF 9, TCU 9, Wisconsin 6, North Dakota State 1

January 7th

Wall Street Journal: Colorado 25th most-valuable program

From the Wall Street Journal (thanks to Ron Ward for spotting this) …

Never mind for a moment which college-football team is No. 1 on the field. Is Texas losing its grip on being No. 1 at the bank?

According to an annual analysis of the values of college-football programs, Texas remains the most valuable team in the sport. But the gap is narrowing: The Longhorns—whose 2011-12 valuation is $761.7 million—now are only slightly ahead of Michigan ($731.9 million).

Ryan Brewer, an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, calculated the intrinsic valuations for 115 of the teams in the top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision. Among other factors, the study looked at each program’s revenues and expenses and made cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections for each school. The resulting figures represent what the teams might fetch if they could be bought and sold like pro franchises. (As a point of reference, the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars sold in late 2011 for about $760 million.)

Texas still generates the most revenue in college football, but Michigan’s valuation surged 18% over the year before because of improved cash flow, Brewer said. Texas’ valuation fell by 5%. As for Monday night’s title-game combatants: Notre Dame ranked fourth in the financial study ($597.4 million); Alabama was eighth ($476.0 million).

… Colorado was 25th in the survey, behind only Oregon (No. 19) and Washington (No. 20) in the Pac-12. USC came in at No. 28 Arizona State No. 31, and Stanford No. 36. Four Pac-12 schools: Arizona; UCLA; Utah; and Oregon State came in in order between 44 and 47. Trailing in the Pac-12 were Cal, in at No. 57, and Washington State, at No. 61.

Stanford loses two star tight end to the NFL

From ESPN … Stanford’s offense will be without one of its premier playmakers after tight end Zach Ertz announced Monday he’ll enter the 2013 NFL draft.

Ertz, a finalist for the Mackey Award given to the nation’s top tight end, led the Cardinal with 69 receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 64.1 receiving yards per game.

Ertz, the top tight end and No. 29 overall player as rated by ESPN’s Scouts Inc., was pivotal in helping Stanford to a 12-2 record, a Pac-12 championship and a 20-14 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

Stanford’s No. 2 tight end, junior Levine Toilolo, also announced Monday he will enter the draft. Toilolo finished with 24 receptions for 393 yards and four touchdowns this season.

Of course … CU doesn’t play Stanford next year … whatever …

Chip Kelly’s Courtship with NFL over … for now

Kelly’s second deep NFL flirtation — recall last winter’s “did-he-or-didn’t-he?” with Tampa Bay — ended with him back at Oregon, back atop the Pac-12’s present superpower.

Why did Kelly stay? He has yet to comment, which is telling. He feels no need to announce no change, though he is completely aware it’s major news. The Pac-12 blog believes, according to no sources whatsoever, that Kelly returned to his cavernous Eugene home Sunday and cranked up the Sinatra and sang along: “I did it myyyyyy waaaaaayyyy!”

Kelly is 46-7 overall at Oregon. He’s led his team to four consecutive BCS bowl games, winning the last two. He won 12 games this year by at least 11 points. It’s fair to say he’s pretty good at leading a football team.

The immediate reaction in some quarters to Kelly’s return — other than surprise from just about everyone — is that Kelly can’t keep doing it like this, both with NFL folks and with Oregon.

Both sides, it is reasoned, will get tired of the fickleness. Does Kelly want to be Oregon’s coach? Or does he want to be something else? He must decide!

No, he doesn’t. Kelly can do what he wants as long as he keeps winning with panache. When everyone knows you are one of the best living football coaches, you can write your own ticket. Kelly could announce tomorrow that all Oregon fans will be required to change their underwear every half-hour and all underwear will be worn on the outside so Ducks officials can check, and everyone would go, “OK!”

Oregon fans might wish he’d just tell the NFL folks he’s not interested, but they get over their frustration when they see he and his staff outcoach a Kansas State team that is as well coached as any in the nation.

NFL teams might get tired of being led on, but they get over that when they see the discipline, focus and offensive magic Kelly produces.

Let me make something clear: Kelly would be successful in the NFL. Of that I have almost no doubt. The analysis you keep hearing about his present systems not working in the NFL is superficial bunk. Kelly’s “systems” are all about winning games. Give him Tom Brady, and Kelly would no longer call designed runs for his QB. He’d line up with three fullbacks tomorrow if that helped him win the day.

So know this, too: The NFL will be back. And Kelly is likely to talk to them. At some point, a team might foster an interview that wins Kelly over. But that hasn’t happened yet and he, again, remains the Ducks coach.

As a result, Oregon’s quiet recruiting season might get a bit louder. Expect some major prospects who were awaiting Kelly’s plans to come a-calling.

The other layer to this is the NCAA. One of the potential harrumphs over Kelly leaving would have been expected NCAA sanctions over L’Affair de Willie Lyles. He would have looked like the second-coming of Pete Carroll, who bolted USC ahead of severe penalties.

Some might read into this Kelly’s confidence that the sanctions won’t be severe, and that’s not unreasonable. But it also shows Kelly isn’t one to run away from a potential problem. At least, not yet.

Oregon will be ranked in the preseason top five next year. It welcomes back eight starters on offense, including quarterback Marcus Mariota, a budding Heisman Trophy candidate, and seven on defense. The biggest questions are at linebacker, running back and offensive guard. If the Ducks avoid a postseason ban, they will be national title contenders. Again.

The allure of coaching that team kept Kelly in Eugene. That means nothing for 2014 and beyond. Yes, this could become an annual dance between Kelly and various suitors, one that fans breathlessly follow on Twitter — “He’s gone!” “He’s staying!” — as they learn to mock the term “sources.”

It might be emotionally exhausting and generally frustrating for Ducks fans, but this is the annual tax a team pays for having a coach whom everyone else want to lead their team

January 6th

Kelly not heading to Cleveland Browns …

From ESPN … The Cleveland Browns have decided to reboot their coach search after leaving Arizona late Sunday morning without landing Oregon’s Chip Kelly, according to league sources.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III will renew the search at “square one” once his executive contingent, including CEO Joe Banner is stationed back in Cleveland after interviewing eight candidates in Arizona.

Kelly and Syracuse coach Doug Marrone emerged as the leading candidates but Marrone reached an agreement to become the next coach of the Buffalo Bills.

The Philadelphia Eagles are the only other NFL team known to have interviewed Kelly. League sources believe the chances of Kelly returning to Oregon were significant with a decision expected Sunday.

The Eagles took their coaching search committee to Denver to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday after a lengthy meeting with Kelly on Saturday night in Arizona.

Kelly has built the Ducks into a national power. Oregon has gone 46-7 in the last four years and made four consecutive BCS bowl games. Kelly run’s a high-octane, fast-breaking offense, and elements of his schemes are already being used by New England and Washington.

If he returns to the Eugene, Ore., campus, Kelly may be facing NCAA sanctions as the school is being investigated for recruiting violations.

January 4th

Oregon cruises in Fiesta Bowl; Pac-12 finishes 4-4 in bowl games

From ESPN … De’Anthony Thomas caught the opening kickoff, raced past Oregon’s sideline and leaned his head into the end zone like a sprinter crossing the finish line.

The track meet had started and the fifth-ranked Ducks barely looked back after that.

Triggered by Thomas’ 94-yard return, Oregon bolted by No. 7 Kansas State 35-17 Thursday night at the Fiesta Bowl in what may have been coach Chip Kelly’s final game with the Ducks.

“I felt like my role in this game was to be a momentum-builder and a game-changer,” Thomas said. “Once I saw that edge, I wanted to get to the end zone as fast as I could so I could celebrate with my teammates.”

They did it a lot.

Teams that had that national title aspirations end on the same day, Oregon and Kansas State ended up in the desert for a marquee matchup billed as a battle of styles: The fast-flying Ducks vs. the execution-is-everything Wildcats.

With Kelly reportedly talking to several NFL teams, Oregon (12-1) was too much for Kansas State and its Heisman Trophy finalist, Collin Klein, turning the game into a try-to-keep up race from the start.

Thomas followed his before-everyone-sat-down kickoff return with a 23-yard touchdown catch, finishing with 195 total yards.

Kenjon Barner ran for 143 yards on 31 carries and scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota in the second quarter. Mariota later scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter, capped by an obscure 1-point safety that went in the Ducks’ favor.

Even Oregon’s defense got into the act, intercepting Klein twice and holding him to 30 yards on 13 carries.

“We got beat by a better team tonight, combined by the fact that we let down from time to time,” coach Bill Snyder said after Kansas State’s fifth straight bowl loss.

Whether Kelly leaves Eugene or not, he had a good run, leading the Ducks to four straight trips to BCS bowls, the last two wins.

Chip Kelly to interview with three NFL teams

From ESPN … Oregon coach Chip Kelly won’t have much time to rest after the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

On Friday, Kelly has an interview scheduled with the Buffalo Bills for their coaching vacancy. The interview will take place in Arizona, a day after the Ducks defeated Kansas State 35-17 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, a league source confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Cleveland Browns will also interview Kelly on Friday, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday.

USA Today first reported that Kelly was scheduled to interview with Buffalo.

Bills newly promoted president Russ Brandon and front-office brain trust have been in Arizona since Tuesday conducting their coaching search.

According to the Bills’ website, the team interviewed Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton on Wednesday, a day after meeting with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired Monday.

The Bills also are scheduled to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Saturday. Former Bears coach Lovie Smith also is scheduled for an interview over the weekend, a source familiar with the situation confirmed.

Kelly also has been linked as a candidate for the Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

January 3rd

USC loses wide receiver commit

From ESPN … ESPN 150 wide receiver Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica) has removed himself from USC’s 2013 recruiting class.

Initially posting on Twitter that he decommitted, the four-star confirmed that he’s opening his options.

“Not really sick and tired of it,” LaRue said. “I’ll just try to make the best decision for myself. SC, you know I really love SC. It’s not like I’m going to rule them out completely, but I had to take a step back from the whole thing, and make sure I’m making the best decision for myself as far as where I’m going to college. That’s the main reason why I’m doing it.”

LaRue already has taken official visits to Ohio State and Washington State. Notre Dame and Texas A&M trips are on deck.

But there will definitely be a battle for the fifth and final one.

“At this point, I’m taking visits to Texas A&M and Notre Dame and I was always taking those visits,” he said. “I’ve been interested in Washington and UCLA also. Some other schools are also in the mix. At this point, you know I’m going to take a look at some depth charts, take a look at some film of some offenses of schools that are really recruiting me hard.”

ESPN ranks LaRue as the No. 150 prospect in the country for the Class of 2013 and the 13th-best receiver in the nation.

LaRue does have an offer from Colorado, and was being recruited by Mike Tuiasosopo.

January 2nd

Utah loses top two defensive linemen to the NFL

From ESPN … Utah defensive end Joe Kruger has opted not to return for his senior season and instead will enter the NFL draft.

The 6-foot-7, 280-pound junior played in 37 of 38 games for the Utes from 2010 to 2012, with 14 starts. He led Utah with six sacks this season and had eight tackles for loss.

Joe is the youngest of three Kruger brothers. Paul plays linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and Dave just finished his Utah career as a four-year starting defensive tackle. Joe Kruger says it was “priceless” playing alongside brother Dave but he now is ready to pursue a lifelong dream of suiting up in the NFL.

The school released a statement from Joe Kruger and coach Kyle Whittingham on Wednesday.

Kruger’s decision to turn pro is another blow for the Utes defensive line. Nose tackle Star Lotulelei just completed his senior year and figures to be one of the top picks in the April draft.

Cleveland Browns to interview Chip Kelly

From ESPN … According to several reports, Cleveland’s CEO Joe Banner is in Arizona and intends to interview Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, who is preparing the Ducks to play in Thursday’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The interview will take place Friday.

Kelly has been courted by NFL teams in the past and came close to taking Tampa Bay’s job last year. Kelly has deflected questions about a possible jump to the pros, saying he’s focused on finishing his fourth season at Oregon

January 1st

Stanford takes down Wisconsin in Rose Bowl

The last time Stanford won the Rose Bowl, the Cardinal was known as the “Indians”. In fact, it was the last game ever played by the Stanford Indians, who went to the Cardinal in 1973.

Want some extra trivia for your friends? The quarterback for Stanford the last time the Cardinal won a Rose Bowl was … not Jim Plunkett. The Heisman trophy winner was the quarterback when Stanford won the 1971 Rose Bowl, but it was quarterback Don Bunce who led the Indians to a 13-12 victory over Michigan in the 1972 Rose Bowl.

Now, back to the 2013 Rose Bowl …

From ESPN … Although Stanford didn’t score many style points in the 99th Rose Bowl Game Presented By Vizio, the Cardinal could celebrate because they didn’t let Wisconsin score any points at all after halftime.

Stephan Taylor rushed for 89 yards and an early touchdown, Kevin Hogan passed for 123 yards, and Stanford (No. 6 BCS, No. 8 AP) won its first Rose Bowl since 1972, beating the Badgers 20-14 on Tuesday night.

Usua Amanan made the decisive interception near midfield with 2:30 to play as the Pac-12 champion Cardinal (12-2) ended their four-decade drought in the Granddaddy of Them All with arguably the biggest bowl win yet during the long-struggling program’s recent renaissance.

Stanford clamped down on the Big Ten champion Badgers (8-6), who lost the Rose Bowl in heartbreaking fashion for the third consecutive season. Monteee Ball rushed for 100 yards and his FBS-record 83rd touchdown, but Wisconsin managed only 82 yards after halftime.

With impressive defense of its own, Wisconsin still stayed in position for an upset in the one-game return of Hall of Fame coach Barry Alvarez, who was back on the Badgers’ sideline in his red sweater-vest seven years after hanging up his whistle.

When Bret Bielema abruptly left Wisconsin for Arkansas after winning the Big Ten title game, Alvarez agreed to coach his fourth Rose Bowl before handing off his program to new coach Gary Andersen, who met with Alvarez on the field before the game.

But the Badgers’ third straight Rose Bowl appearance ended in much the same way as the last two: With the Wisconsin offense failing to get the late score they desperately needed.

Curt Phillips went 10 for 16 for 83 yards passing and that crucial interception for Wisconsin, doing more with 64 yards on the ground. Jordan Fredrick caught a short TD pass right before halftime, but no Badgers receiver had more than Jared Abbrederis’ three catches.

And though Ball became the first player to score touchdowns in three Rose Bowls, the powerful back fell short of Ron Dayne’s career Rose Bowl rushing record, swarmed under by waves of tacklers from one of the toughest defenses in the nation.

Kelsey Young rushed for a score on Stanford’s opening possession, and Taylor scored on the second. Wisconsin kept the Cardinal out of the end zone for the final 51 minutes, but Stanford’s defense didn’t need any more help.

Stanford won its first conference title and earned its first Rose Bowl appearance in 13 years with seven straight wins. The Cardinal ousted top-ranked Oregon on the way to the biggest season yet in the improbable surge of success started by Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck, and extended by coach David Shaw and Hogan, who took over as the starter in November.

Oregon’s Chip Kelly: “I’ve got a game to play”

From ESPN … One of the first questions Oregon coach Chip Kelly was asked after arriving in Arizona for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl was about the possibility of coaching in the NFL.

The are-you-going-to-the-NFL questions haven’t let up in the five days since and only figure to pick up after seven coaches were fired Monday.

Deflection has been Kelly’s defense since the rumors started and it was no different after all those NFL openings cropped up.

“I’ve got a game to play,” Kelly said during the Fiesta Bowl’s media day on Monday. “We’re playing in the Fiesta Bowl. That’s the biggest thing in my life. If I allowed other things to get into my life, then they would be distractions, but there aren’t. Our focus 100 percent is on the Fiesta Bowl.”

Kelly has been an intriguing candidate for NFL teams for a few years.

The 49-year-old coach is known as an offensive innovator and his fast-paced, high-scoring offense has led to the most successful stretch in Oregon’s history.

The fifth-ranked Ducks have gone to four straight BCS bowl games, a run that includes a trip to the 2011 national championship game, Oregon’s first Rose Bowl win in 95 years last season and Thursday night’s Fiesta Bowl against No. 5 Kansas State at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The speculation over the past few years has been that Kelly has his eye on an NFL job and he even talked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year before saying he had unfinished business in Eugene.

The rumors began to pick up this season and followed him to the desert, where he’s been asked about the NFL every day he’s been here and has given a different version of the same answer every time.

“My heart is to win today and that’s it,” Kelly said. “I know everybody wants to hear a different answer. And I know that at times when I don’t give you guys the answer that you guys want, then I’m being evasive. I’m not being evasive.”

December 31st

USC becomes first preseason No. 1 to lose six games

After No. 10 USC dominated Colorado, 50-6, on October 20th, the Trojans were 6-1 and had their sights still set on a Rose Bowl bid, and, if things broke their way, a shot at the national championship.

Instead, the Trojans lost five of their last six games to become the first preseason No. 1 team to lose six games that season. With preseason Heisman trophy favorite Matt Barkley sidelined, backup quarterback Max Wittek struggled (14-of-37 for only 107 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions) in a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

From ESPN … Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 21-7 victory on Monday in front of a crowd of 47,922 at Sun Bowl Stadium. Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third made it 14-7, and he found Orwin Smith for a 17-yard touchdown pass in the fourth.

Barkley, the first three-time captain in team history, injured his right shoulder in a loss to UCLA and was not cleared to play. He clapped as the Trojans (7-6) took the field to face the Yellow Jackets.

Max Wittek tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Silas Redd in the second quarter, but also threw three interceptions. Redd also had 88 yards rushing on 17 carries. The Trojans struggled to contain Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack. The Yellow Jackets (7-7) rushed for 294 yards on 63 carries while stopping a seven-bowl losing streak.

David Sims had 99 yards on 17 carries, but he got plenty of help. Zach Laskey added 60 yards on six carries, Lee had 52 on 10 carries and Washington had 16 attempts for 46 yards for the No. 4 rushing team in the nation. Sims also caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Vad Lee in the first quarter.

Lee and Washington combined to go just 5-for-10 passing, but two completions went for TDs passes and two more covered 26 and 49 yards and keyed two of the team’s scoring drives.

High-powered USC finished with 10 first downs and eight punts as Georgia Tech shut down the Trojans’ big-play threats all afternoon.

Wittek had four passes deflected at the line. His second interception came in the Tech end zone with 6:22 to go and the last came inside the Tech 10-yard line in the game’s final minute.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *