There have been 13 comments, comment now

Pac-12 Notes – Alamo Bowl

December 29th – GameDay!

… Foe Pause … 

ESPN finally does a CU story (it’s about the equipment truck)

From ESPNCHRIS LEHMANN DISCOVERED he had become an unlikely object of curiosity when he found out media outlets were speculating on his whereabouts, as if he was some sort of fugitive with an 18-wheeler loaded with football equipment. He discovered he was a minor celebrity when he realized he was about 400 miles from where they thought he was.

Earlier that day, on Dec. 16, Lehmann had rolled away from the University of Colorado campus, carrying almost everything the Buffaloes would need to play in the Pac-12 championship game in Los Angeles two nights later.

But when he drove off, the Buffaloes weren’t in the championship game. There was just a chance they would be by the time he got about halfway between Boulder and L.A. The whole story is a mess of logical guesses, bureaucratic indecision and aimless wandering, which is what makes Lehmann the perfect emblem of an illogical, indecisive and often aimless year in both college football — two conferences that canceled and then un-canceled, more than 150 games lost to COVID-19, a conference champion in the College Football Playoff who played just six games — and the entire world.

Colorado’s entry into the absurd began when Washington had to back out of the title game because of an outbreak of COVID-19. That elevated North Division runner-up Oregon to play South champion USC, which in turn forced the cancellation of Colorado’s game that weekend with Oregon. But — and here’s where the saga gets so weird it eventually involved a 48-year-old truck driver from Wellington, Colorado — the leaders responsible for scheduling games and cashing television checks realized the conference needed a backup in case USC produced its own run of positive tests. Since Colorado was the second-place team in the South, and since the prospect of having no game at all sent a cold and bitter wind through the conference office, the Buffaloes were told to be ready to play a game in case USC couldn’t.

“We’re in code-red mode,” Buffaloes coach Karl Dorrell said on local radio Tuesday as he awaited word on his team’s destination. “We’re preparing as if we’re playing, but we’re waiting to hear. The way the conference has set up and protected this championship, they’re keeping us on the hook to make sure at a certain point and time in the week that everything’s OK, then take us off the hook.”

There is a lot of planning that goes into a football game, but also there’s just a lot of stuff — the kind of stuff that has to be there but nobody really thinks about, which is also the same kind of stuff that can’t fit on an airplane if that airplane is also being used to transport human beings. And what Lehmann does is drive the truck that gets the Buffaloes’ stuff from one place to another.

He carries cartons of tape and pallets of prewrap and scissors and tape-cutters and bandages. He carries cases and cases of Gatorade, and boxes of food that he presumes are protein bars but has never fully investigated. (“I’ve never looked in there,” he says, “but if I break down and I’m hungry, that story might change.”) He carries helmets and replacement helmet parts and shoulder pads, cleats and communications equipment and popup medical tents. “Everything you see on the sideline but the benches,” says Christopher Dountas, Colorado’s director of football equipment.

Continue reading story here

—–

December 28th

… Foe Pause … 

CBS: Grading 2020 First Year Coaches – Karl Dorrell receives only “A”

From CBS Sports … The 2020 college football season is almost in the books, which means it’s time to hand out grades for all of the first-year head coaches. Last offseason’s coaching carousel provided us plenty of intrigue, including the arrival of Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and Mike Leach at Mississippi State. That cranked the Egg Bowl rivalry up several notches. Elsewhere, Greg Schiano made his return to Rutgers, Mike Norvell took over a reeling Florida State program and Jimmy Lake got promoted to take over for Chris Petersen at Washington.

The Group of Five level had plenty of turnover as well, including at traditional powers Appalachian State and Memphis. Neither of those two claimed conference titles, but foundations were set for glory moving forward.

There were 24 coaching changes overall that took place from Dec. 1 all the way through Feb. 23. Let’s break all of them down and hand out first-year grades.

Colorado – Karl Dorrell – A … The Buffaloes stayed in the Pac-12 South Race until mid-December and earned a spot in the Alamo Bowl vs. Texas. Dorrell made them relevant in Year 1 … which is exactly where they should be every year.

Others of note … 

Washington – Jimmy Lake – B … It’s hard to judge a season off only four games, but it did result in a Pac-12 North title. Even though the Huskies couldn’t actually play in that game due to COVID-19, it was still impressive.

Michigan State – Mel Tucker – D+ … The win over Penn State was nice … at least we thought. In reality, this was a pretty lackluster debut for Tucker in East Lansing.

Washington State – Nick Rolovich – D … The Cougars should at least be relevant in the Pac-12 North. That didn’t happen in Year 1 under Rolovich.

Colorado Sate – Steve Addazio – D– … A one-win season and offseason controversy made things very difficult for the former Boston College coach. Better luck next year.

College Football News breaks down the Alamo Bowl (with predictions)

From College Football News

Why Texas Will Win

– It took all year, but the offense finally found its groove. It lost a heartbreaker at home to Iowa State, but the passing attack worked on the was to 448 yards of total offense. The team picked it up the following week with 608 yards and 69 points against a Kansas State team looking for something positive.

Super-recruit Bijan Robinson grew into a running back role, tearing off 113 yard on 12 carries gains West Virginia, and running or 172 yards and three touchdowns against Kansas State. He’s good, QB Sam Ehlinger has been in big bowl games before, and the offensive backfield should work just fine.

– Colorado does a whole lot of things well, but the secondary is about to get hit. The Texas backfield might be solid, but this should be when the passing attack goes off against a Buff defense that allowed over 300 yards in the first two games and only didn’t give up more over the next few games because it played teams that didn’t throw. Utah was able to balance out its attack with a 240-yard day out of Jake Bentley.

Ehlinger isn’t going to screw up. He threw 25 touchdown passes and five picks on the year and hit over ten yards per pass over the final two games. 3-0 as a starting quarterback in bowl games, he has four touchdown passes and one pick with 154 rushing yards and four scores. He knows what he’s doing.

– It’s been a theme early on this bowl season, and it’s not that difficult. The team with the 1) stronger quarterback and 2) doesn’t have a turnover issue wins. Texas has the better quarterback, and it doesn’t turn the ball over with just one giveaway over the last four games. Colorado turned it over six times in its last two outings.

Why Colorado Will Win

– Colorado has a star in RB Jarek Broussard. The freshman was worked from the start with a 31-carry day with three scores in the win over UCLA, and he tore off 301 yards in the win over Arizona. Overall the Texas defense wasn’t too bad against the run, but it had its rough moments.

It allowed over 200 yards three times – two times came in the losses to TCU and Oklahoma. Colorado has to maintain some sort of steady ground attack to pull this off.

– Colorado gets into the backfield. The pass rush was okay, but it found ways to always get behind the line to apply pressure and make big plays against the run. LB Carson Wells and company combined for 43 tackles for loss including 33 over the last three games. The Texas offensive line has been fine this year, but Ehlinger likes to try making things happen. That’s going to be a problem against this defensive front, which is a further issue because …

– The Buff defense was a killer on third downs. Usually, Texas is great at being able to keep the chains moving thanks to Ehlinger, who’s brilliant at fighting for first downs with his legs as well along with the short passing game. This year, not so much.

The Longhorns converted 49% of their third down chances in 2019 and over 46% in 2018. This year? 39% and didn’t hit 40% in three of their last four games.

Colorado led the Pac-12 allowing teams to convert 34% of their attempts.

What’s Going To Happen

Really? You’re going to go against Tom Herman in a bowl game?

Colorado is an okay team that had a strong, shortened run in the Pac-12. It would be massive for the Karl Dorrell era if the team could pull this off and show that this might really be a player next year, but Texas will get up for this and close out the season with a bang.

Texas will be a whole lot like Utah was in its 38-21 win over Colorado. The offense will be just balanced enough to keep things moving, and it’ll come up with the key plays at the right times to take over the game late in the first half.

Colorado will have enough big plays defensively to keep this from getting out of hand, but Texas will go on a two good scoring drives in the second half to put it away.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas vs Colorado Prediction, Line

Texas 37, Colorado 23

Texas -9.5, o/u: 64
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3

Must See Rating: 3.5

5: New Year’s Day on the couch
1: New Year’s Eve going out

Gill Alexander, VSIN: Texas*
Patrick Conn, Longhorns Wire: Texas
Jeff Feyerer, Fighting Irish Wire: Texas*
Pete Fiutak, CFN: Texas
Dan Harralson, Vols Wire: Texas
Phil Harrison, Buckeyes Wire: Texas
Jeremy Mauss, MW Wire: Colorado
Big Game Ben Niewoehner, CFN: Texas*
Kegan Reneau, Sooners Wire: Texas
Johnny Rosenstein, SportsBookWire: Texas*
Nick Shepkowski, Fighting Irish Wire: Texas
Scott Steehn, WinnersandWhiners: Texas*
Keith Stewart, WinnersandWhiners: Texas*
Brian Stultz, Auburn Wire: Texas
Clucko the Chicken, CFN: Colorado
CONSENSUS PICK: Texas*

*- will win, but not cover …

—–

December 27th

… Foe Pause … 

No market for new Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch until Wildcats created one

From the San Jose Mercury News … Days later, Arizona’s decision to hire career assistant Jedd Fisch makes as little sense as it did when news broke on Wednesday morning.

And of all the ways it makes little sense, we continually return to one in particular:

There was no market for Fisch until the Wildcats created one.

In fact, we don’t recall Fisch ever being a finalist for a head coaching vacancy in major college football … or even being rumored as a finalist.

In the past 13 years, he has coached for 10 teams in the Power Five and the NFL.

He has been a position coach and a coordinator.

He has been fired.

He has moved on.

He has even been promoted.

But at no time was Fisch ever elevated to the head coaching position.

At no time was he viewed as one of the hottest playcallers in the FBS.

At no time was he viewed as a rising star.

His primary qualification for the Arizona job, it seems, is that he crossed paths years ago with university president Robert Robbins and remained on Robbins’ radar.

It only takes one school — one president — to make a market.

Fisch’s one chance for success

Fisch’s lack of qualifications for the job doesn’t guarantee he will fail in a few short years.

But this will guarantee failure: Poor hiring decisions.

Fisch doesn’t have the leeway afforded to a proven winner or to a popular hire.

He has to get the staff right immediately.

He has to create a sense of legitimacy instantly.

He must make the right choices with the assistants he decides to retain off Kevin Sumlin’s staff and the right choices with the assistants he courts externally.

If every hiring decision isn’t made with recruiting in mind — especially recruiting Polynesian communities in California and Utah and the Pacific islands — then Fisch is doomed to fail.

The more money available for salaries, the better chance he stands.

Under Sumlin, the Arizona assistants and coordinators earned a collective $3.4 million in 2020 (excluding reductions related to the pandemic), according to the USA Today salary database.

That was one of the lowest staff salary pools in the Power Five.

Per a report from CBS Sports, Fisch will have about $3.7 million available — more, but not much more.

How he deploys that limited amount will shape his prospects for success.

Read full story here

—–

December 26th 

… Foe Pause … 

Alamo Bowl expert picks: Hard to find love for the Buffs

CU is a 9.5-point underdog to No. 20 Texas, but it’s hard to find anyone willing to even take the points, much less pick CU … 

From USA Today … According to two ESPN analysts, buy stock in the Longhorns for this game. Former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback who won a National Championship in that 2009 season didn’t pull any punches when he gave Texas one of the highest confidence picks of bowl season. Texas received 26 in the confidence grade of a possible 28.

“When given the opportunity to pick against a Pac-12 team in the postseason, you do it,” McElroy said Monday during Bowl Mania. “With all due respect to Colorado, I’m not a believer in the Pac-12. From top to bottom this year, it was a league that was rather bothersome with the quality of play all over the place. I think Texas is angry and also fed up with the fact they had Oklahoma on the ropes earlier in the season. Now, Texas has obviously played well in bowl games under Tom Herman, but in order to try and thrust their way back into the conversation atop the Big 12 — which they usually are, wasn’t the case this year — they make a statement and dominate Colorado much like they did Utah last year.” per 247Sports

McElroy wasn’t the only one that thought of the Utah game from a season ago when making their picks for the game.

My worst bowl pick last year was Utah over Texas, as the Longhorns thoroughly dominated the Alamo Bowl. Colorado isn’t as good as Utah in 2019, but the Buffaloes will be extremely motivated after having three games canceled because of COVID-19 issues and Pac-12 ineptitude. Texas has had several key opt-outs, but quarterback Sam Ehlinger will be on the field for most likely his final game in burnt orange. Colorado’s backfield of Sam Noyer and Jarek Broussard will stress an improved Texas defense. Although I’m a bit concerned about the Longhorns’ motivation, it’s hard to go against the more talented team under Tom Herman (4-0 in bowls) playing close to home, especially after last year’s result.

Texas 37, Colorado 27– per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg

From CBS SportsAlamo Bowl — Tuesday, Dec. 29: I mentioned how different coaches take different approaches to bowl season, and that’s certainly been the case with Tom Herman, who has always been one of those coaches who gets his team fired up for big games but can sometimes suffer letdowns in the smaller ones. Well, Herman thinks bowl games are big games. That’s part of the reason why he’s been able to go 4-0 both straight up and ATS when coaching in bowls (Herman’s Houston team lost the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl, but he’d already left for the Texas job). So that’s part of the reason why I like the Longhorns here.

The other reason is I’m just not sure what to make of Colorado. The Buffs had an unexpectedly delightful season, going 4-1, but I’m not sure how impressive a 4-1 season it was. They didn’t blow anybody out, and their offense has been one-dimensional. The Buffs ran the ball 59.7% of the time this year (ranking 15th nationally), but they weren’t especially good at it. They ranked 43 in yards per carry at 4.75, but their overall success rate of 39.9% ranked 88th. In other words, they were dependent on big plays in the run game. Well, while Texas has plenty of problems defensively, it’s been solid against the run, ranking 42nd nationally in success rate and 26th in yards per carry. I’m not sure how much room the Buffs will find on the ground, and that will make it difficult for them to cover. Texas 37, Colorado 24 | Pick: Texas – 9.5

But … from the New York Post …  It’s a mess at Texas with fourth-year coach Tom Herman, who reportedly explored other job opportunities and wants out. Herman has been on the hot seat and would be history if Urban Meyer had decided to come out of retirement.

The Longhorns are showing no progress and spinning their wheels, so it seems fitting they are returning to the Alamo Bowl for the second year in a row. Herman said his players are “extremely excited” to be playing Tuesday in San Antonio, but who’s buying that line?

The truth is five team captains — including offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi, defensive lineman and linebacker Joseph Ossai and safety Caden Sterns — opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. The only captain who will play is senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who has 25 touchdown passes and is a gamer who always gives a great effort. Another positive is Herman’s 3-0 bowl record with the Longhorns, who were 7-point underdogs in a 38-10 victory over Utah last year in this bowl.

In coach Karl Dorrell’s first season at Colorado, the Buffaloes (4-1) beat UCLA and Stanford to emerge as the Pac-12’s surprise team. One team is definitely excited to be in this bowl and it’s not Texas, which has the look of an unfocused bowl favorite. This line opened at 12 before sharp money started showing on the ’dog.

The pick: Colorado +9.

Utah running back Ty Jordan passes away 

.. Jordan was the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, and, along with CU’s Jarek Broussard, the AP Pac-12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year … Jordan ran for 597 yards with six touchdowns on 83 carries in five games. He was named to the All-Pac-12 second team … 

Related … “Utah Utes RB Ty Jordan, Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, dies” … From ESPN

Related … “Teammates, Ute alums and others react to the death of Utah freshman running back Ty Jordan” … from the Salt Lake City Tribune

From the Salt Lake City Tribune … The University of Utah has confirmed that freshman running back Ty Jordan has died, although details remain scarce.

A media spokesman for the Denton (Texas) Police Department told The Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday morning that the original call went out Christmas night at 9:38 p.m. CST. Officers responded to the 1100 block of Avenue B in Denton. Upon arrival, they found a single gunshot victim, who was transported to a hospital.

After a preliminary investigation, it is believed the gun was accidentally discharged. The victim was later pronounced deceased at the hospital.

“Words cannot express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling right now upon learning of the tragic death of our teammate and brother, Ty Jordan,” Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement. “Ty’s personality and smile were infectious and he made a huge impact on our program in the short time he was with us. He leaves an indelible mark on each of us and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. From the bottom of our hearts, all of us in the Utah Football Family want to say we love you Ty and may you rest in peace.”

—–

December 25th – Merry Christmas!

… Foe Pause … 

Oregon State star RB Jermar Jefferson to forego final season

Related … “Oregon State cornerback Nahshon Wright declares for NFL Draft” … from BeaverBlitz.com

Related … “Oregon State linebacker Hamilcar Rashed declares for NFL Draft” … from BeaverBlitz.com

From NBCSports.com … Oregon State star running back Jermar Jefferson will forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility at Oregon State and instead has decided to declare for the 2021 NFL, he announced Thursday afternoon on his Twitter.

In just six games as a junior, Jefferson ran for 858 yards on 133 attempts, seven touchdowns, and added nine receptions for 67 yards.

He finishes his Oregon State career as a three-year starter with 2,923 total rushing yards on 514 attempts, good for fifth all-time in Oregon State history. His 27 career rushing touchdowns also ranks fifth all-time in program history.

Dante Pryor of Fansided wrote Jefferson could be a fourth-round NFL Draft selection back in November.

Arizona QB Grant Gunnell transferring to Memphis

From DesertSwarm.com … If you were hoping the Arizona Wildcats could convince Grant Gunnell to stay in Tucson, that possibility was dashed Thursday when the sophomore quarterback announced his decision to transfer to Memphis.

Gunnell entered the transfer portal shortly after Arizona fired Kevin Sumlin, though it seems he would have done that no matter what the Wildcats decided to do with their head coaching position.

“In high school, my coach gave me a lot of freedom, and he allowed me to make decisions at the line of scrimmage and make checks,” Gunnell told 247Sports. “I’m ready to get back to that, and I’m ready to get back to pushing the ball down the field. I think Memphis’ offense is going to fit me better than Arizona’s did.”

Gunnell, the Texas high school all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, appeared in 12 career games at the UA, completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 1,864 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions.

—-

December 24th

… Foe Pause … 

Rating the new hires: Karl Dorrell goes from No. 23 to No. 4

In Lindy’s preseason magazine, the 24 new head coaching hires were rated.

CU’s hire, Karl Dorrell, came in 23rd out of the 24. Lindy’s had this to say about the Buffs’ new head coach: “Colorado’s search eventually (disappointingly?) landed on Dorrell, who was a middling head coach at UCLA from 2003 to 2007 and has spent exactly one season in college since 2007; he was Vanderbilt’s offensive coordinator in 2014. Of course, spending nine of the past 10 years in the NFL gave him the kind of experience that most college programs are looking for these days”. 

Other new head coaches of note, according to Lindy’s … No. 1: Mike Leach, Mississippi State … No. 5: Nick Rolovich, Washington State … No. 8: Jimmy Lake, Washington … No. 17: Mel Tucker, Michigan State … No. 24: Steve Addazio, Colorado State …

Now, a writer at Yardbarker.com has reranked the new hires, with Karl Dorrell making a significant rise …

No. 4 – Karl Dorrell, Colorado … Dorrell did a fantastic job getting the Buffaloes back into contention in the Pac-12 South division. Colorado won its first four games before losing an ugly game against Utah in the finale, which cost the Buffs a shot at a division title. While that loss will sting a bit, there is a sense this program is turning things around.

Compare … 

No. 6 – Jimmy Lake, Washington … Dorrell did a fantastic job getting the Buffaloes back into contention in the Pac-12 South division. Colorado won its first four games before losing an ugly game against Utah in the finale, which cost the Buffs a shot at a division title. While that loss will sting a bit (fans were a bit upset), there is a sense this program is turning things around.

No. 17 – Steve Addazio, Colorado State … It was a frustrating season for Addazio and the Rams, who only got four games in after dealing with four cancellations for a variety of reasons (their final game was canceled due to a Utah State player boycott). In the four games they did play, the Rams won just once and were pounded in their three road games. If there was any new coach that had a rough go of trying to gain traction, it was Addazio.

No. 18 – Mike Leach – Mississippi State …This looked like this was going to work. In the first game of the season, Mike Leach’s offense went into # 6 LSU and rolled the defending champs, 44-34. The high-octane offense was going to work in the SEC and the rest of the league better look out. Of course, LSU turned out to not be what we thought they’d be and Mississippi State’s offense took a nosedive. The Bulldogs would lose their next four games and scored a total of 30 points in that span. Mississippi State would lose 7 of 8 games, with the only win over a miserable Vanderbilt team (and that was a 24-17 win). Somehow, Leach’s bunch won their finale, 51-32, over an improved Missouri, but the promise of the opener was crushed as the season went along. Will Leach’s style work in the SEC? It didn’t in 2020.

No. 19 – Nick Rolovich, Washington State … Rolovich got off to a rocky start when receiver Kassidy Woods alleged the coach was out to get him due to his participation in the student-athletes’ “WeAreUnited” group that wanted fair treatment for players who wanted to opt-out from the season. Once on the field, the Cougars played just four games this season — games against Stanford and Apple Cup rival Washington were canceled — and lost to the two ranked foes they faced. Losing to Oregon, USC, and Utah isn’t some indictment of a season where you only play four games but there’s a lot of work to be done on and off the field in Pullman.

No. 21 – Mel Tucker, Michigan State … It was a bummer of a season for the Spartans, but they did beat rival Michigan and topple Northwestern for their only two wins on the season. Their five losses were ugly, however, including a home loss to Rutgers … who hadn’t won a Big Ten game in two years. This season was a bust, to say the least, and Tucker has promised to overhaul the roster (and he’s seeing players transfer already) so the heat is on his recruiting skills.

Fiesta Bowl 50th anniversary team includes three Buffs

From the Fiesta Bowl …  The rich 50-year history of the Fiesta Bowl includes many of college football’s greatest moments, with players and coaches whose performances have become etched in the minds of fans and media.

As part of its 50th Anniversary celebration, the Fiesta Bowl has unveiled the Top 50 Players and Coaches in the Bowl’s legendary history. The group spans the Bowl’s inaugural game in 1971 up through and including the most recent game between Clemson and Ohio State. There are 14 College Football Hall of Fame inductees and nine others not yet eligible but who will be strong candidates. On top of the 50 on-field people recognized, the original nine Fiesta Bowl Founders hold an honorary place on the list.

Ohio State leads the way with eight individuals on the list, with a Fiesta Bowl-high nine appearances in the first 49 games. Penn State is close behind with seven people among the Top 50 and the Nittany Lions have a perfect 7-0 record in Fiesta Bowl appearances. Five people come from Arizona State, with four of the five individuals being College Football Hall of Fame inductees. Boise State, Clemson, Colorado and Nebraska have three people each.

This is one initiative that the Fiesta Bowl is undertaking to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. A commemorative logo includes the Bowl’s trademark sunburst and script, along with a large 50 and five “laces” on a football, to signify the five decades the Fiesta Bowl has been in existence. It will be widely seen as the 50-yard marker on the field during the 50th playing of the PlayStation® Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2021, between No. 25 Oregon and No. 10 Iowa State.

From CU … 

  • Rashaan Salaam, RB – 1995
  • Kordell Stewart, QB – 1993; 1995
  • Ted Johnson, LB – 1995

—–

December 23rd

… Foe Pause … 

“Upstart” Buffs taking on a Texas team that is 3-0 in bowls under Tom Herman

From Yahoo.Sports.com … Upstart Colorado and No. 20 Texas, two teams with different expectations entering the 2020 season, will look to end the COVID-19-influenced campaign in style when they square off in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio.

The Longhorns will play in the Alamo Bowl for the fifth time and second straight year, while Colorado will appear in the postseason game for the third time and first since losing to Oklahoma State in 2016.

… “Obviously, for us, it’s a return trip, and I know our kids will be excited, regardless of the circumstances that 2020 has thrown everyone’s way,” Texas coach Tom Herman said. “We are honored and proud to be a part of it, and I know we will definitely have our hands full.”

The Alamo Bowl marks the 57th all-time bowl appearance for the Longhorns, the second-most in the country behind only Alabama. It is the fourth-straight year Texas has appeared in a bowl game under Herman, with the Longhorns winning each of the first three.

“It will be bittersweet, but I’m going to savor every last practice, every last minute I have with this great group of seniors,” Herman said. “Most of them came in when we took this program over and have been great models of leadership for our team and our university.

The Buffaloes were the surprise team of the Pac-12 this season and made the most out of their limited opportunities, finishing the regular season with a 4-1 mark, and 3-1 in league play for a second-place finish in the South Division.

With a roster that sports only a handful of seniors and a long list of underclassmen who earned valuable playing time, the bowl bid serves as another validation of what coach Karl Dorrell, who was not hired until February, is building in Boulder.

“We feel like our program’s on the rise,” Dorrell said. “We’re trying to get better week after week and keep improving the depth of our team with our freshmen and sophomores that are playing. This has really been an extra bonus year for us to build a foundation in our program. It was just another step.”

Continue reading story here

Reports: Arizona to hire Jedd Fisch (?) to replace Kevin Sumlin

… Considering that Arizona went for the “splash hire” in Texas A&M’s Sumlin last go-round, and with the high-profile Herm Edwards making progress in Tempe, this is a non-needle moving moment in Tucson … 

From CBS Sports … Arizona is expected to hire New England Patriots quarterback coach Jedd Fisch to replace Kevin Sumlin as the program’s next football coach, according to ESPN’s Field Yates and The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. Fisch, 44, boasts a long resume of NFL and collegiate experience that includes a recent stint in the Pac-12 as UCLA’s offensive coordinator in 2017.

Fisch then spent 2018 and 2019 with the Rams before joining the Patriots this season. Sumlin was fired earlier this month after compiling a 9-20 record in three seasons at Arizona. The Wildcats were 0-5 this season. San Jose State coach Brent Brennan and Arizona State co-defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce were among the other names connected to the opening.

A New Jersey native and University of Florida graduate, Fisch is unique in that he did not play football in high school or college. But he landed a spot as a graduate assistant on Steve Spurrier’s staff at Florida by leaving notes on the windshield of the coach’s car, according to a recent profile of Fisch in the Boston Herald. In the 20 years since his stint on Spurrier’s staff, Fisch has held numerous jobs in the college and professional ranks.

His other college experience includes a 2009 stint as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator and two years at Michigan as Jim Harbaugh’s passing game coordinator in 2015 and 2016. Fisch’s stop at UCLA in 2017 on Jim Mora’s staff also included leading the Bruins to a 1-1 record during two games as interim head coach.

From the Boston Herald story mentioned above …

Most stories about the 44-year old coach open with a list of his famous former bosses: Billick, Mike Shanahan, Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh, Steve Spurrier and Sean McVay. Fewer mention his old college roommate and confidant, Howie Roseman, now the Eagles general manager. And only one unearthed the fact Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was once Fisch’s counselor at an overnight camp in the Berkshires.

But at some point, these pieces all reach the same conclusions: Fisch is unusually connected, universally respected, and, through a winding career path, has amassed a uniquely broad knowledge base few coaches gather in a lifetime.

All these themes belie another truth: Fisch can’t seem to sit still.

—–

December 22nd

… Foe Pause … 

CU remains in CBS Sports Top 25 

From CBS Sports … The final CBS Sports 127 of the regular season has been finalized, and our FBS-wide rankings of every team — compiled by ballots from CBS Sports and 247Sports voters — match the final decisions of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee when it comes to the top four.

While others may have spent their Sunday arguing about Notre Dame against Texas A&M, our voters only dropped the Fighting Irish from No. 2 to No. 4 following their ACC Championship Game loss to Clemson. The Tigers moving up into that No. 2 spot after winning a sixth-straight conference crown with Ohio State moving up to No. 3 after pulling away from Northwestern in the second half of the Big Ten Championship Game. The Aggies come in at No. 5 — just like the committee has placed Jimbo Fisher’s team anchored to that spot for a few weeks now.

After that, the CBS Sports 127 does differ from the committee’s final rankings, starting with No. 6. Oklahoma was a three-spot mover this week after winning the Big 12, but our group has undefeated Cincinnati at No. 6 and the Sooners one spot behind the Bearcats. Other differences compared to the committee: Indiana is also three spots higher at No. 8 in our rankings, BYU four spots higher at No. 12, Iowa State three spots lower at No. 13 and North Carolina four spots lower at No. 17.

Even though it was a lighter week with mostly championship games and a few make-up dates sprinkled in with those “championship week” exercises in the Big Ten and Pac-12, there was still some major movers in the rankings so be sure to check those out below the top 25.

  • No. 22 Oregon (+15): Like UAB, Oregon sees a huge boost in the rankings after winning as an underdog on conference championship weekend. The Ducks were called into action when Washington could not meet the threshold to play and Mario Cristobal took advantage of the opportunity with the kind of wide-open approach you’d expect from a team with nothing to lose. Oregon played two quarterbacks, brought pressure defensively with Kayvon Thibodeaux and won its second-straight Pac-12 title.
  • No. 29 Utah (+5): This is a team that got better through the season. The problem for Utah is “the season” only lasted about a month in the Pac-12 and this young team didn’t really get to find itself until it had a couple of games under its belt. The Utes make a move up after beating Washington State to finish the regular season at 3-2.
  • No. 21 USC (-8): No longer undefeated, the Trojans fall from their top-15 status in our rankings. USC had come from behind successfully all season and nearly did it again against Oregon. This was Clay Helton’s first division title since 2017, and it would have been nice to also make it the program’s first Pac-12 title since 2017, but now it’s on to a bowl-less postseason instead of a spot in the New Year’s Six after the Trojans decided to opt out and turn their attention to 2021.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 … Texas A&M (2021 opponent)
  • No. 21 … USC
  • No. 22 … Oregon
  • No. 23 … Texas (Alamo Bowl opponent)
  • No. 25 … Colorado
  • No. 28 … Washington
  • No. 29 … Utah
  • No. 40 … Arizona State
  • No. 44 … Stanford
  • No. 49 … UCLA
  • No. 60 … Minnesota (2021 opponent)
  • No. 64 … Oregon State
  • No. 75 … California
  • No. 77 … Nebraska 
  • No. 80 … Washington State
  • No. 88 … Michigan State 
  • No. 110 … Colorado State 
  • No. 112 … Arizona

Boise State head coach hired by Auburn (not Arizona)

From CBS Sports … Auburn has hired Boise State coach Bryan Harsin to take over its program, replacing Gus Malzahn following a rapid search process, a source tells CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Harsin was 69-19 in seven seasons as the Broncos’ coach, winning Mountain West titles in 2014, 2017 and 2019.

In joining the Tigers, Harsin again follows in the footsteps of Malzahn. He previously took over Arkansas State in 2013 after Malzahn was hired by Auburn. Harsin went 7-5 and won the Sun Belt in his lone season with the Red Wolves before heading out west to lead his alma mater Boise State.

Harsin is known for a system that puts an emphasis on physicality along both lines of scrimmage and a creative offensive scheme out of the spread. His system has produced 3,000-yard passers in four of his first six seasons and, had Hank Bachmeier not suffered from injury last season, could have put up a fifth.

The biggest question facing Harsin now is his staff. Recruiting is the most important aspect of any SEC coach’s job, and Harsin’s limited experience in the SEC footprint could become a problem if he doesn’t hire the right assistant coaches. It’s unclear who will be on Harsin’s first staff on the Plains, but a group of energetic recruiters with deep ties in the south will help him transition to his new role in the toughest division in college football.

Due to injury, illness and opt-outs, Texas could be down a number of starters

From BurntOrange.com … Take some time over the holiday to study up on that Texas Longhorns roster, friends.

Next week, there’ll be a pop quiz on Tuesday evening at the Alamo Bowl for a program that will only have one of its seven captains available against the Colorado Buffaloes due to opt outs and the injury suffered by senior center Derek Kerstetter in Manhattan.

Head coach Tom Herman also revealed during Sunday’s Alamo Bowl press conference that the COVID-19 outbreak suffered by the team in the aftermath of its last game against Kansas State will impact the availability of several players against Colorado.

Since junior safety Caden Sterns and senior safety Chris Brown already opted out to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft, the Texas secondary could be without at least five players in the bowl game due to injuries and opt outs.

… Along the defensive line, opt outs from senior defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham and junior Jack Joseph Ossai will provide significant playing time for freshman defensive tackle Alfred Collins, who had the best game of his young career against the Wildcats, but it’s less clear what will happen at the Jack position.

… So even though the staff is unlikely to take senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger off the field in what is likely to be his final appearance in burnt orange and white, there will be a number of young players on the field at the Alamodome.

“We’ve got some more COVID issues than we did in three weeks ago or two weeks ago when we headed to to Manhattan, so that might elevate a few more young guys into some key contributor roles, but I know that the young guys that we have played with have fared very, very well and I expect the ones that will be playing for the first or second time this year will do much in the same,” Herman said.

Read full story here

—–

December 21st 

… Foe Pause … 

Navy coach denies interest in Arizona opening 

From The Baltimore Sun … Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo dismissed ongoing rumors he is a leading candidate for the vacancy at the University of Arizona.

“There’s nothing to it,” Niumatalolo told The Capital during a lengthy interview Monday afternoon. “I don’t know where those rumors come from … maybe because of last time, maybe because of our success as a program.”

Niumatalolo was immediately listed as a likely candidate after Arizona fired Kevin Sumlin following a three-year tenure. That was due largely to what happened in 2018 when Niumatalolo emerged as the top target, with some media outlets reporting he had been offered the job.

Niumatalolo, who just completed his 13th season at Navy, has never talked about how far things went with Arizona in 2018. He acknowledged traveling to Tucson to visit the campus and meet with school administrators but ultimately chose to stay in Annapolis.

Continue reading story here

Even with 6-3 record and season-ending blow out win, Longhorn fans still pine for Urban Meyer

From the Austin American-Statesman (December 5th) … Texas won the most meaningless football game of the year on Saturday (a 69-31 win over Kansas State), which in and of itself presumably carries a ton of meaning.

Tom Herman talked about how his team, unranked and to a certain extent unloved, played with pride and purpose and passion. And it did all of that, but curiously after being eliminated from the Big 12 race.

The players all spoke of being loose and free and competing for the pure joy of playing. “This is a game. We get to play football. We’re not working football,” quarterback Sam Ehlinger poignantly said. There was no joy the first eight games?

The scoreboard in Manhattan showing a convincing-and-then-some 69-31 Texas win with its most points in 15 seasons reflected the talent gap between the Longhorns and a COVID-strapped Kansas State team that has now lost five straight. Scoring 11 times in 13 possessions showed focus and readiness for a 6-3 team that will finish the regular season at Kansas next week (a game which was ultimately canceled).

For once, Texas did not play to the level of the opponent. It played to a standard, one aided by a string of outstanding players like freshman running back sensation Bijan Robinson, who had a breakout game with three touchdowns, and junior All-America defensive end candidate Joseph Ossai and the team’s outgoing senior quarterback and a whole bunch of other talent.

Maybe Texas should threaten to fire its coach every week, if it’s going to play this well.

But does it matter a whit? Does it change any minds, foremost those of President Jay Hartzell and athletic director Chris Del Conte? Does it slow the avalanche of rumors that Herman may not return?

Not likely.

The Texas administration is waiting on every Urban Meyer hint and reading something into everything big or small in the meantime. His building a dream house in Florida. His relaxed body language on his Fox pregame show. His comments about fans at elite programs who are “completely out of their mind” and who expect 15-0 records, perfect graduation scores, top-five recruiting classes and player development for the NFL.

And what he isn’t saying. Or hasn’t said.

Meyer hasn’t said no.

And Texas hasn’t told Herman to go.

Not yet and maybe, just maybe, not at all.

Everything remains on the table, even a potential pursuit of others like Florida’s Dan Mullen, Penn State’s James Franklin or Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

All this could change in the blink of an eye from a simple I’ll take the job from Meyer, a two-time national championship coach and the best one on the market who isn’t Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney. Meyer clearly could put an end to all the rampant speculation he will replace his former offensive coordinator in Austin with a single tweet. So he either likes the attention or is using it as leverage or he is seriously considering it.

I’m buying the latter.

One Texas higher-up suggested Saturday he was thinking Meyer was 70/30 in favor of coming to Texas. Later in the day he reduced that viability to a 50/50 proposition. It’s very tenuous.

But no one truly knows other than Meyer and his family.

Not even Herman, and that has to be driving him crazy. Amidst a sea of rumors of his demise, Herman did an admirable job of coaching this week and can now brag on a fourth straight winning season, a shot at a 4-0 bowl record here and some promising talent on his roster and staff. Who knows which bowl wants Texas although the Alamo Bowl does not currently have the Longhorns in its pool of likely invitees.

“I don’t hear it. I don’t listen to it,” Herman said of the rumors. “I believe what our administration and my boss is telling me. And when you don’t get on the Internet and you stick to Yahoo News and Words With Friends and the Chive app, you kind of tend to stay above the fray a little bit.”

In the end, this Wildcats team is a shell of itself, especially after losing its starting quarterback.

This Longhorns team remains a mystery club, capable of beating Oklahoma State and West Virginia but also of losing at home to TCU and Iowa State and almost to Texas Tech.

But Texas responded to adversity and speculation with its most emphatic win of the year.

And that too begs the question: Why can’t Texas play like this all the time?

And will Herman get a chance to coach ‘em up this good much longer?

It’s in Urban Meyer’s hands.

Buffs to play before their first crowd (11,000) of the season

From the Daily Camera … On Sunday, CU (4-1) accepted an invitation to play Texas (6-3) in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio. It will be the Buffaloes’ first bowl appearance in four years, and just the second time this season they will play in front of fans.

The Alamodome, home to the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, has limited capacity to 11,000 fans this season, but that will make it, by far, the largest crowd of the season for a CU game.

CU played in front of 554 family and friends for the Nov. 7 season opener at Folsom Field against UCLA. Since then, every game they’ve played has been without fans.

“I don’t want to understate just the importance of playing in a bowl game, and having your family members be able to watch,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “Our whole season was no fans on the west coast. That was a different level of football to be desired, to be honest with you.

“This is going to be a reward, not only for our players, but also for the families that haven’t had a chance to watch their sons play, and to be involved in it. I think it’s a great reward for everyone in a number of circumstances. We’re excited for the change of scenery.”

CU has 22 players from Texas on the roster and Dorrell said, “I think (they) are excited about getting home and getting their families involved, so it should be a great experience for us.”

—–

December 20th 

… Foe Pause … 

Colorado opens as an 11-point underdog to No. 20 Texas

From VegasInsider.com … Pac-12 bowl games …

Colorado – an 11.0-point underdog to No. 20 Texas – Alamo Bowl — December 29th – 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

No. 25 Oregon – a 3.0-point underdog to No. 10 Iowa State – Fiesta Bowl – January 2nd – 2:00 p.m., MT, ESPN

Alamo Bowl didn’t want Texas for two straight years, but needed a “big name” for television

From the Austin American-Statesman … Texas’ postseason destination has usually boiled down to two places in recent years — San Antonio or Houston. This year, it’s the Alamo Bowl again.

No. 20 Texas (6-3) will face Colorado (4-1) in the Alamo Bowl at 8 p.m. on Dec. 29 at the Alamodome.

Teams all over the country have decided to opt out of the postseason, citing COVID-19 fatigue and contact tracing as the primary reasons. The Longhorns have dealt with that all season, too. Their regular-season finale was also scrapped because of Big 12 protocols.

But UT coach Tom Herman said last week that his team was likely all-in on a postseason appearance, wherever it may be. For the history books, it’s worth noting the Horns finished 20th in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

“These guys are competitors,” Herman said during an Alamo Bowl teleconference. “Any time you tell them you’re going to go play a game, they’re going to be extremely excited.”

Alamo Bowl officials can’t be too excited about getting Texas, though. The Longhorns upset No. 11 Utah 38-10 last season in the Alamodome. Typically, bowl officials loathe having the same team two years in a row. They like different teams for variety.

But once USC, the projected Pac-12 opponent, opted out of the postseason, Alamo officials needed a big name for TV purposes.

Texas holds an 11-7 all-time record over Colorado. The two teams have not met since 2009 when the Buffaloes were still in the Big 12. Most fans still remember the 70-3 demolition administered in the 2005 Big 12 championship game as the Horns were on their way to the national title.

(But the Texas writer apparently doesn’t remember the 39-37 win by Colorado in the 2001 Big 12 championship game … ).

While other Pac-12 programs decided to skip the postseason, Dorrell said, “I think our players felt like they were ready to play another game. We’re just a growing program. We’re trying to get better week after week.”

Dorrell said he can’t overstate the importance of playing a game in front of fans. All Colorado games have been played with no fans. “I think it’s a great reward for everyone in a number of circumstances,” he said.

“We’re excited for the change of scenery,” Dorrell added. “We’ve got some Texas kids on our team that I think are excited about getting home and getting their families involved. It should be a great experience for us.

This will be the Horns’ third appearance in the Alamo Bowl since 2012. Texas has played in the Texas Bowl in 2014 and 2017. The school has made only one out-of-state bowl trip since the 2011 Holiday Bowl, the Sugar Bowl to cap the 2018 season.

Texas coach Tom Herman has a 3-0 record in postseason games at UT. One of those came at the Texas Bowl in Houston (2017) and the Alamo Bowl last season.

Final Tally: 28 bowls; 56 teams – 71 teams done for the season

From CBS Sports … The wild process of college football bowl game selections has now concluded with 56 of the 127 FBS teams that were active in the 2020 season filling slots in 28 postseason contests. It all started with the announcement of the four College Football Playoff teams and continued with the release of the final CFP Rankings and the rest of the New Year’s Six games.

After that, every bowl game trickled in as some teams opted out and some games were canceled until every last spot was filled. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame — in that order — make up the playoff field. Texas A&M and Cincinnati were among the teams disappointed not to make it in, but both are in premier New Year’s Six bowl games.

Oklahoma vs. Florida in the Cotton Bowl may be the best matchup of that New Year’s Six grouping, while Auburn vs. Northwestern presents an intriguing matchup in the Citrus Bowl.

Canceled bowls (16): Bahamas, Birmingham, Celebration, Fenway, Frisco, Guaranteed Rate, Hawai’i, Holiday, Independence, LA, Las Vegas, Military, Pinstripe, Quick Lane, Redbox, Sun

Teams that opted out (22): Boise State, Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Louisville, LSU (self-imposed bowl ban), Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington State

—–

13 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes – Alamo Bowl”

  1. Whenever someone starts a comment with “all due respect”, prepare to get dissed. Thank you McElroy. He certainly doesn’t think that the PAC 12, and thereby the Buffs, are due much respect. However, he seems to be ignoring the fact that Tex-a$$ has been an underperforming program since the break up of the Big 12. Many commentators mistake the current version of the shorthorns for those of Mack Brown or Darrell Royal. Fact is, for all their money, they fall far short of the expectations of their deluded fans. At least the third pundit quoted provided some balanced analysis of the CURRENT state of the shorthorns.

    Now that Summers has had some time to adjust to the loss of Nate, he will have a good enough game plan to slow down the shorthorns. The defensive players have also had time to adjust to the loss. The questions arise on the offense. Will Chev learn from his myopic Utah game plan? Will he put Noyer in a position to succeed by using Jarek appropriately and avoid the 3rd and long situations? If so, Buffs have a good chance to win. If not, another disappointing bowl loss.

    1. Chev needs to step up. Whatever that means.
      I have been a strong supporter of him to be given the opportunity.

      I am not yet convinced he has stepped to the opportunity. This is a concern.
      He is a hype machine and I like it. But at somepoint the sound needs to go away.

      I am waiting.

      Buffs.

      Note: Regardless what happens with Texas (although I would like the win the an explosive offense) I am hoping the coaching staff stays the same for next year.

  2. Very impressive that Fisch who never played the game at any level became a head coach of a power 5 team. Even more amazing is that he was a QB coach in the NFL. Other guys with no playing experience usually become “pundits”

  3. This is (I believe) the 4th straight time that Boise State has lost its coach to a Power 5 Conference. Dirk Koetter to ASU, Dan Hawkins to…DON’T REMIND US, and Chris Peterson to UW. Only one of that trio who had any consistent, lasting success was Peterson. Interested to see how Coach Harsin makes out at Auburn.

  4. Nice to be going to a bowl without the Mikey Mac bungled Thompkins mess hanging over the program like a sodden blanket the last time we went to the Alamo Bowl. . Here is hoping Noyer The Destroyer shows up and not Noyer the Over/Under/pic-six Throyer who makes an appearance ….

  5. Based upon recruiting rankings over the past 10 years or so, Colorado will be out manned at almost every position. Defensively without Nate Landman, and a small, inexperienced secondary, ol’ Tex could have their way…or not. Despite the talent disparities, somehow something happens to a lot of players who get Austin in them. Sometimes revealing itself in undisciplined, mistake prone, and just poor play. Perhaps Texas will have big heads, party hard in S.A., show up hung over, and prove this tendency. Buffs have a good shot, as they will be taking this game seriously, and be ready to play…just depends on whether Texas wants to be there or not.

    1. From what I understand, Clayton opted out because he wanted to be home for the holidays, not that he intended to enter the transfer portal.
      Doesn’t mean he won’t leave, but we shouldn’t make more of this until we have to …

      1. That’s understandable with limited playing time & the holidays in an unusual year I can see a young player wanting to just go home for the holidays. Enjoy your time with your family Clayton & hopefully we’ll see soon.

      2. To follow up, coach Dorrell Monday said of Clayton (and of freshman WR Keith Miller, who is CU’s second opt-out for the bowl game): “Both guys are planning to come back in the spring semester”.
        Good news …

  6. Waaaaay too high a spread. Take the points. This is a different CU team. Dorrell is a different coach. CU is going to score points against Texas. I have not had a chance to watch the Texas games but pure statistics show that we should be able to score points.

Leave a Reply

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