Tag:Wake Forest
Posted on: February 9, 2011 9:45 am
Edited on: February 9, 2011 9:47 am
 

Was that donated kidney an NCAA violation?

As unsavory as it seems, the question must be asked -- did Wake Forest baseball coach Tom Walter break NCAA rules by donating a kidney to one of his players?

Walter is the celebrated Wake Forest baseball coach who was the talk of Tuesday, basically saving the life of freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan. Two months after committing to Wake, Jordan developed a serious kidney condition that caused him to undergo dialysis 18-20 hours a day. 

Walter was a medical match for his player who needed a kidney transplant. The coach didn't think twice about donating. But the act did seemingly break the letter of the law. The NCAA extra benefits rule prohibits, "any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation." 

The essential question the NCAA would ask is: Would Walter's kidney be available to the average student? I think we all know the answer. Walter only has two and chose to give his "first" kidney to one of his players.


I don't know if Wake asked the NCAA's permission -- I don't know if the NCAA wanted to be asked -- but the association isn't as cold-hearted in these situations as it might seem. This case involving Boise State from last summer seems to closely resemble the Wake Forest situation.
 
If you want to want to be a real jerk, go ahead, turn in Walter and Wake Forest to the NCAA. In this case, Big Brother might take a pass.
Category: BBD
Tags: NCAA, Wake Forest
 
Posted on: February 8, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Why the NFL loves the ACC

Gil Brandt loves to analyze the draft. At times, Gil Brandt is the draft. The former vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys (1960-89) was responsible for evaluating and drafting several hall of famers in his career.

For the last eight years he has been a draft expert and personnel guru for NFL.com. For the purposes of Tuesday's ACC story, he shared with us some exclusive statistics regarding the conference's strength in NFL war rooms. Since 2000, the ACC is second only to the SEC in total number of players drafted. Highlighting that is a stat Brandt calls a "value index". He assigns a number for each player drafted. For example ...

Schools get 10 points for each player drafted in the top 10; 11 through 30, eight points; 31-60, six points; 61-100, four points; 101-150, two points; 150-plus, one point. Here is the ACC's individual players drafted and value index from 2001-2010 ...

Miami, 62 players drafted/215 VI; Florida State, 51/149; Virginia Tech, 47/106; Virginia, 29/73; Maryland, 26/73; North Carolina State, 27/72; Clemson, 29/70; North Carolina 27/63; BC, 19/58; Georgia Tech, 22/55; Wake Forest, 16/36; Duke, 1/1.

Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State and Maryland won ACC titles in those 10 years.

This is where it gets even more interesting for the ACC in the butt-kicking draft department ...

--From 2001-2010, seven current ACC teams are in the top 26 in Brandt's value index: 1. Miami; 6. Florida State; 12. Virginia Tech; T22. Virginia; Maryland; 24. NC State; 25. Clemson.

The top three probably aren't a surprise but certainly Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina State and Clemson being in the mix raises some eyebrows. During that time Virginia produced the likes of Heath Miller (30th overall, 2005), D'Brickashaw Ferguson (fourth overall, 2006), Chris Long (second overall, 2008) and Eugene Moore (eighth overall, 2009). Maryland notables included E.J. Henderson (second round, 2003), Shawne Merriman (12th overall, 2005), Vernon Davis (sixth overall, 2006) and Darius Heyward-Bey (seventh overall, 2009). NC State draft highlights include Philip Rivers (fourth overall, 2004) and Mario Williams (first overall, 2006). In 2006, the Pack had three total first-round picks. Clemson had Gaines Adams (fourth overall, 2007) and C.J. Spiller (ninth overall, 2010). 

--From 2000-2009, 31 schools have produced 50.8 percent of all selections, essentially a quarter of Division I-A. ACC schools finished second (Miami), fourth (Florida State), ninth (Virginia Tech) and 26th (Virginia) in total picks.

--In that same span, 14 schools produced 56 percent of the top 10 picks. Miami, Florida State, Virginia and NC State are among that group.

--Nineteen schools produced 61 percent of the top 30 draftees. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State) and 16th (Boston College).

--Twenty schools produced 53.3 percent of the top 60 draftees. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State), 14th (Virginia Tech) and 15th (BC).

--Twenty-two schools produced more than half (50.7 percent) of the top 100 picks. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State), 15th (Virginia Tech) and 17th (Maryland).

What does all this mean? The three newest ACC members (Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech) haven't added much in terms in pro talent compared to their previous accomplishments. A large portion of Miami's numbers above came before it joined the ACC in 2004. From 2005 through 2010, Miami has averaged 4.5 draftees per year and has only six first-rounders (none since 2008). From 1999-2004, Miami averaged 7.18 draftees and had a staggering 21 first-rounders. Boston College post-expansion: 1.83 draftees per year; pre-expansion, 2.33. Virginia Tech, has seen its NFL production increase only slightly since joining the league -- 29 drafted from 2005-2010, 25 drafted from 1999-2004. 

--Another strange stat courtesy of the ACC. Through 2010, the conference leads the NFL in linebackers (including those on injured reserve, practice squads and physically unable to perform lists.)

1. ACC, 53; 2. Big Ten, 49; 3. SEC, 46; 4. Big 12, 35; 5. Pac-10, 31; 6. Mountain West, 20; 7. Big East, 17; 8. WAC, 8; 9. Sun Belt, 7; 10. MAC, 6; 11. Conference USA, 5. 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: October 4, 2010 12:46 pm
 

National notes

Before we begin, here is your daily dose of Les Miles. Actually, it's the only dose of Les Miles you need for this week. If you learn anything more from this postgame video about Saturday's Unlucky 13 vs. Tennessee, let me know.


**A warning going into Week 6 ...

There is a real chance almost halfway through the season of an unprecedented logjam at the top of the BCS -- six undefeated conference champions, four of them in BCS leagues.

It's early but there is some separation and definition to the season after five weeks. Alabama is clearly the class of the SEC. Nebraska and Oklahoma are undefeated in the Big 12, and can't meet until the conference championship game. Ohio State's trip to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks suddenly looks less daunting. Boise State is going to rush through the WAC. TCU and Utah are likely to decide the Mountain West head-to-head. Oregon looks like it is going to run away with the Pac-10.

If all that happens, here is one projection of how the final BCS standings might look. Is too early? Never. The first BCS standings will be released in two weeks.

1. Alabama: With all the talk about the Pac-10's strength this season, the SEC still rules. The Tide are all but assured of playing three more ranked teams -- South Carolina, LSU and Auburn.

2. Oregon: Pollsters are already falling in love with the Ducks despite a dicey strength of schedule to this point.

3. Ohio State: Like Alabama, likely to play three more ranked teams (Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan). If you think the Big Ten's strength will carry the Buckeyes into the top two, think again. Oregon's offense is stronger and will make a stronger case, especially on the road where Jim Tressel seems to play conservatively.

4. Big 12: I am well aware that Kansas, Oklahoma State and Missouri are also undefeated making it five in this league. I'm also projecting that, regardless, this is where an undefeated Big 12 champion would end up if everyone else wins out. Among the five Big 12 undefeateds: Kansas State plays Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Missouri plays Kansas State, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Nebraska plays  Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Oklahoma plays only Missouri and Okie State. The Cowboys still have Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

5. TCU/Utah: The Mountain West race will come down to the teams' Nov. 6 meeting in Salt Lake City. If either finishes undefeated it will most likely finish ahead of an undefeated Boise.

6. Boise State: There was bad, bad news for the Broncos on Sunday. They were jumped in both polls by Oregon for No. 3 in the rankings despite having superior accomplishments and super schedule strength to this point. Oregon has played a I-AA (Portland State) and a team that might as well be I-AA (New Mexico). Boise has played two ranked teams, one in the top 10 on the "road" (Virginia Tech at FedEx Field).

For the previous two weeks Boise, at No. 3, had gained on No. 2 Ohio State and pulled away from the No. 4 team. After one week of WAC play -- against admittedly horrible New Mexico State -- the voters have fallen in love with Oregon and are already damning the Broncos for their schedule.

There are 18 remaining undefeated teams. Five of those (28 percent) are in the Big 12. By the end of this week there will be 16 because of head-to-head meetings (Michigan State-Michigan, Nebraska-Kansas State). Also, by the end of the week a maximum of 11 teams will have the possibility of finishing undefeated because of assured head-to-head games. After this week only four undefeated teams will be alive in the Big 12; three in the Big Ten. Only one undefeated team (at most) will be able to come out of the Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC and WAC.

**Texas is out of the AP poll for the first time in 162 weeks (2000). The streak in the coaches' poll had lasted 192 weeks. Texas, 3-2, still has games left against Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M meaning it could be headed for its worst season since before Mack Brown arrived in 1997.

**TCU posted its first road shutout of an opponent in Gary Patterson's 10 years as head coach, 27-0 at Colorado State. That's significant because Patterson is a defensive wizard whose teams have finished tops in total defense each of the last two seasons.

**Speaking of the Horned Frogs, the interest in the Big East is apparently real and reciprocal. TCU could join the league as soon as next season. One reason: There is no financial penalty to leave the Mountain West.

**Poor Jaime Hill. The BYU defensive coordinator was fired after Friday's loss at Utah State. You expect that in the SEC, but at BYU? Hill joined the staff from the CFL in 2006 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2008. BYU, 1-4, is off to its worst start in almost four decades.

Some other d-coordinators who might want to watch their backs:

Tyrone Nix, Mississippi. The Rebs got upset by Jacksonville State giving up 49 points and got beat by Vandy, 28-14. Had to hold off Kentucky 42-35 on Saturday. Rebels allowing almost 33 points per game.

Doug Mallory, New Mexico. Not really fair because his future is tied to embattled head coach Mike Locksley. The Lobos have allowed a I-A-most 35 touchdowns and 52.6 points per game.

Co-coordinators Keith Patterson/Paul Randolph, Tulsa. The Hurricane gave up 51 points at East Carolina, losing on the last play of the game. Oklahoma State put up 65 on Tulsa which is 106th in pass efficiency defense.

Ray McCartney, Wake Forest. His defense has given up 68 points to Stanford, 24 touchdowns in five games and 36.8 points per game.

**Team Schizo: Washington has lost to the worst BYU team in years, got run off its home field by Nebraska and now has beaten USC in consecutive seasons.

**Team Schizo II: Kansas lost to Baylor by almost seven touchdowns, 55-7, in Waco. Not even the locals care about Baylor, a Big 12 doormat. There were an estimated 15,000 empty seats at Floyd Casey Stadium. It's bad when your team is intimidated by the Bears.

"When I went out there, they were bigger than I thought,” KU linebacker Steven Johnson told the Kansas City Star. “I’m just like, ‘What in the world are they eating?’ ”

Posted on: July 6, 2010 11:38 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 12:47 pm
 

Son of fresh faces

Friday I offered up 10 fresh faces to watch for 2010. Here are 21 more ...


Nick Becton, OT, Virginia Tech -- This sophomore replaces three-year starter Ed Wang at left tackle.

Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana-Monroe -- Redshirt beat out senior Trey Revell.

Clemson quarterbacks -- Depending on whether Kyle Parker signs a major-league contract. That means either fifth-year senior Michael Wade or redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd will take over.

Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn -- Alabama-Auburn is heating up again. Gene Chizik landed a top five recruit to go with new quarterback Cameron Newton.

Vidal Hazelton, WR, Cincinnati -- Transfer from USC could take over for Mardy Gilyard as the go-to guy.

Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State -- The progress of Florida State's defense under Mark Stoops will be one of the biggest stories going into '10. This redshirt sophomore is starting at rush end, a glamour position.

Skylar Jones, QB, Wake Forest -- Takes over for Riley Skinner. The junior won the job in the spring after not throwing a pass last season.

Logan Kilgore, QB, Middle Tennessee -- Transfer from Bakersfield (Calif). College, threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Dwight Dasher is the man but Kilgore could be the next man.

Dan Mason, LB, Pittsburgh -- Pittsburgh's starting middle linebacker has been All-Big East first team each of the last five years. Will Mason make it six in a row as a sophomore?

Lamar Miller, TB, Miami -- With Graig Cooper rehabbing a knee hurt in the bowl, this homegrown redshirt freshman could be a savior.

Jason Peters, DE, Georgia Tech -- Al Groh was hired to install the 3-4. There is more pressure on the ends in that alignment. Peters was one of the stars of the spring.

Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina -- Overshadowed on one of the best defenses in the country.

Ryan Radcliff, QB, Central Michigan -- If you're asking who will replace Dave LeFevour, this is the guy. The redshirt sophomore threw 21 passes last season.

Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State -- This sophomore is replacing NCAA rushing leader Ryan Mathews in the Central Valley. Runs like Jacquizz Rodgers with similar measureables -- 5-foot-7, 185.

Rutgers Super Sophs -- Six-foot-five quarterback Tom Savage threw for 14 touchdowns as a freshman. Receiver Mohamed Sanu (51 catches) is one of the fastest players in the game.

Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois -- Redshirt freshman from high school power Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst was named starter by Ron Zook in the spring. Dual-threat guy needs to jump start Illini offense.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- For the first time in five years, the Mountaineers don't have an experienced quarterback returning. Smith could be great (65 percent on 49 passes in '09) but will have to come back from a broken foot in the offseason.

Josh Snead, TB, Duke -- Early enrolling freshman is a home-run hitter for a program desperate for a bowl.

Tino Sunseri, QB, Pittsburgh -- The Panthers always seem to be a quarterback away from doing great things. Coming off a 10-win season, Sunseri could be the difference in Pittsburgh getting back to a BCS bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: July 27, 2009 10:15 am
Edited on: July 27, 2009 10:17 am
 

Five things I believe about the ACC ...

Random thoughts from the ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C. The events ends Tuesday. Then it's on to to the Big 12 media days in Dallas.

• Gene DeFilippo is my hero. When Jeff Jagodzinski played footsie with an NFL team, Boston College’s AD drew a line in the turf. Follow through on the interview, DeFilippo said, and you’re gone. Jags did and DeFilippo canned his coach after two seasons. Longtime defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani got the job.

If more ADs were more assertive and upstanding as DeFilippo maybe we wouldn’t have more academic scandals. (You listening Florida State?)

• C.J. Spiller thinks a lot of himself. The Clemson running back’s impression of his talents kind of match the annual hype surrounding his team. Both are overblown.

“Every year I’ve been at Clemson, I’ve considered myself a Heisman Trophy candidate,” said the tailback who rushed for a career-low 639 yards last season.

To be fair, Spiller is the program’s career all-purpose yardage leader. Some projections have Spiller being the first running back taken in the 2010 draft. Still, until Clemson actually cashes in all this talent it will still be, well, Clemson.

But to be totally fair, is a Heisman candidate in July.

Coach Dabo Swinney begins his first full season with plenty of promise – and hype. The school commissioned a life-size poster of 5-foot-11 Spiller to, you know, get his name out there. SID Tim Bourret had the idea after considering it had 25 years since Clemson’s last life-size poster of Refrigerator Perry.

“It’s so old-school it’s new,” Bourret said. “Nobody does these things anymore. Everybody does internet and e-mail.”

The highest a Tiger has finished in Heisman voting was quarterback Steve Fuller in 1978.

The cost of a limited printing run of 4,700 was offset by two sponsors. The posters are now becoming keepsakes and collectibles. Bourret said more posters could be printed if other sponsors jump on board. That will happen if Spiller gives those sponsors a reason to jump on board.

• You won’t believe Virginia Tech’s secret weapon. He’s 6-foot-3, 287 pounds and throws the ball 85 yards.  Tight end Greg Boone is Tech’s “Wild Turkey” in the formation that features a change-of-pace back taking snaps.

Boone came out of high school as the No. 15 quarterback in the nation but was quickly switched to tight end. That might throw off some defenders who don’t believe Boone can be lethal. Last season he played 42 offensive snaps rushing 21 times for 76 yards. We’re waiting, though, for Boone to throw. He says he can chuck it more than 80 yards using only a three-step drop.

Tyrod Taylor and Ju-Ju Clayton are the quarterbacks but Boone insists the fall-off wouldn’t be much if he was forced to play.

“I’m not sure I’d need that much time (to get ready),” Boone said. “Tight end and quarterback basically know the offense.”

The real show is Friday during the walk-through. Boone and teammates stand about 40 yards away and try to hit each letter of HOKIES in the end zone. Ohio State dots the “I”. Boone hits every letter.

“He’s a little freakish quarterback back there,” said teammate Kam Chancellor.

• Bobby Bowden’s NCAA fight is a story outside the FSU lockerroom. Both quarterback Christian Ponder and linebacker Dekoda Watson insisted there is no distraction for the team as the school waits to see if Bowden's 14 career victories are taken away.

“Honestly, we’re not worried about it,” Ponder said. “We know that Coach Bowden is a strong person. He could care less whether those games are forfeited so we could care less … It might hurt to lose the Joe Paterno contest. We already know Coach Bowden is one of the greatest coaches in college football.”
 
“He’s the sweetest man you’ll ever meet in your life,” said Watson a senior from Aiken, S.C. “I only heard that man cuss five or six times since I’ve been at Florida State. It wasn’t even big cuss words. The ‘d’ word, maybe the ‘h’ word but they say that in the Bible.”

• It’s better that folks stay asleep on Wake. Demon Deacons quarterback Riley Skinner prefers that folks don’t realize that his team has won 28 games and an ACC title in the last three seasons.

“I hope we fly under the radar,” said Skinner, a redshirt senior. “That’s usually when we play our best, when our guys sneak up on people.”

It was argued that after all the recent success maybe Wake Forest has arrived. Wake is picked in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic Division this season. Sounds like a championship run is imminent.

“It’s been wild, it’s been unbelievable, it’s been amazing to see my redshirt compared to these last three years,” Skinner said. “I’m grateful Coach (Jim) Grobe has stayed. He’s a hot topic whenever a job comes up. Winston-Salem loves Coach Grobe. They’ll fight to the end of the earth for him.”

 

Posted on: June 26, 2009 3:41 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 11:00 am
 

Picking the ACC

It has been easy to take shots at the ACC since expansion.

The whole Florida State/Miami axis-of-excellence thing hasn't panned out. But there have been some stories worth reading. Wake Forest competes favorably representing one of the smallest schools in I-A. Everybody is waiting for North Carolina to break out under Butch Davis. Georgia Tech's option game has baffled opponents, at least in Paul Johnson's first season.

Virginia Tech has remained the only constant. The Hokies have won consecutive ACC titles and never seems to drop far off the grid. Frank Beamer could be anywhere. He has chosen to remain in Blacksburg and built an unlikely powerhouse.

The Hokies are prohibitive favorites to make it three in a row.

Atlantic

1. North Carolina State -- Invest in Tom O'Brien. The Wolfpack's coach is as solid commodity as there is on Wall Street these days. Actually better, considering the state of Wall Street. For 10 years, he overachieved at Boston College. Now with more resources he is ready to deliver in Raleigh. When in doubt, I always go with a solid returning quarterback. Russell Wilson might have the most upside of any in the league. He enters the season with 249 passes without an interception, 22 short of Drew Weatherford's ACC record. During an injury-filled season Wilson still threw 17 touchdowns and only one interception. O'Brien will hit it big in his third season coming in with a four-game winning streak to end '08.

UPDATE: Linebacker Nate Irving was injured in a car accident on Sunday (6/28). Irving, when healthy, was one of the best linebackers I saw last season. If he isn't able to go this season, the certainly impacts the Pack's chances.

2. Florida State -- The bandwagon is not full. I'm intrigued why the Seminoles are most people's choice in this division. Bobby Bowden is back to having an established quarterback (Christian Ponder) for the first time in eight seasons. The offensive line is reflecting line coach Rick Trickett's toughness (left tackle Andrew Datko was a freshman All-American). But there aren't the dynamic athletes we're used to seeing. And there always seems to be some drama around the program. People have talked more about the loss of 14 victories in the offseason more than Ponder having some reliable receivers. Try to envision a nine-win season with road trips to BYU, North Carolina, Clemson, Wake and Florida. I can't. FSU could win the division and probably eight games but it will take a step back from '08 when it won nine. 

3. Wake Forest -- The Deacons have won 11, 9 and 8 games the last three seasons. It would be logical to assume the decline is going to continue. Most of the returning players are back on offense, which struggled. The defense loses eight starters. Four players were taken in the first four rounds of the draft. That's amazing but also troubling for this season. Wake will have to get those new defensive starters ready to contribute right away for it to be a factor in the division.
 
4. Clemson
-- The Dabo Swinney era goes into its first full season. A 4-2 finish by the former receivers coach was enough to raise hopes after the end of Tommy Bowden's 9 1/2-year reign. There is always the fear that Clemson is still Clemson. Since 1999, it has never won less than six or more than nine. The Tigers have had the talent to win the ACC each of the last three seasons but they always seem to disappoint. Kevin Steele was a huge get as defensive coordinator coming from Alabama. Tailback C.J. spillers is less than 1,000 yards away from becoming the ACC's career leader in all-purpose yards. Swinney will be reminded at every turn that the last ACC title was in 1991. 

5. Maryland -- We can see the end of the Ralph Friedgen era in College Park. Offensive coordinator James Franklin is the coach in waiting. The Terps should take a major dip after going 8-5. Twelve starters have departed including receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Friedgen loves Torrey Smith and redshirt freshman Kevin Dorsey as emerging talents at receiver. Franklin has done a good job shaping senior quarterback Chris Turner. 

6. Boston College -- Gene DeFilippo is my hero. Look, I liked Jeff Jagodzinski but I admire BC's AD for calling the former coach's bluff when Jags interviewed with the Jets. I admire DeFilippo more for replacing Jags with the guy who most deserved it. Frank Spaziani was d-coordinator for 10 years and had earned his shot. There is enough left over from the nation's No. 5 five defense to compete (linebacker Mark Herzlich was ACC defensive player of the year). You wonder, though, if the Eagles will be able to throw when they need to. Junior Codi Boek arrived as a quarterback, then was converted to fullback. He is now is back at quarterback. He is competing with freshman Justin Tuggle.


Coastal

1. Virginia Tech -- Beamer doesn't get enough credit. The Hokies have become the dominant program in a league that was formed showcase Miami and Florida State. In the last five seasons he has won 52 games and three ACC titles, including the last two in a row. Virginia Tech should go to a third consecutive BCS bowl. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor gets the job to himself after injuries and Sean Glennon blocked his way the past two seasons. Taylor's game resembles a certain legend whose name rhymes with "quick." Sophomore tailback Darren Evans rushed for most of his 1,265 yards in the second half of the season.  Coordinator Bud Foster might have his best defense ever. It is quick and mean. If the Hokies get past Alabama in the opener, they could be in the national championship hunt.

2. Georgia Tech -- You've got to love Paul Johnson's, um, confidence. When folks questioned whether his triple option could work in the big time he went out and won nine while beating Georgia in his first season with the Jackets. Things should be better this season Heisman candidate Jonathan Dwyer, the ACC's leading rusher, is complemented nicely by Roddy Jones in the same backfield. The defense finished in the top 25 nationally and held five teams to 20 points or less. The secondary is loaded with the addition of corner Jerrard Tarrant who was suspended for all of '08 fighting a rape accusation. The charges were dropped. The toughest stretch will be three weeks in October when the Jackets play at Mississippi State, at Florida State and Virginia Tech at home.

3. North Carolina -- Davis continues to recruit. The Tar Heels should continue to win. In Davis' second year the Heels jumped from four to eight wins. Often-injured quarterback T.J. Yates lost his two most reliable targets (Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate) to the NFL. Fortunately, the defense is loaded. If the Heels can win at Georgia Tech on Sept. 26 don't be surprised if they start 6-0.
 
4. Miami -- I don't care who is responsible. In fact, I don't want to know. The schedule, though, is a joke. Poor Randy Shannon is looking at 0-4 with the toughest first four games in the country -- at Florida State, Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Shannon lost a quarterback (Robert Mavre) and had to change both coordinators. Mark Whipple came from the NFL to take over the offense. First-year d-coordinator John Lovett came from North Carolina. The defense is stout, but let's be honest. This is Miami and if they don't win big with flair, it will be a disappointment.  The progress of quarterback Jacory Harris will be on one of the major stories in the conference.

5. Virginia -- It has been a weird circle of life in Charlottesville. Al Groh's son Mike became offensive coordinator in 2006 after Ron Prince left to become Kansas State's head coach. Prince is back (as special teams coach) after being fired at K-State. Mike Groh was, um, let go after producing the sixth-worst offense in Division I-A last season. Gregg Brandon has installed a spread offense for quarterback Jameel Sewell. They should be thankful to work together. Brandon landed at Virginia after being fired at Bowling Green. Sewell missed '08 because he was academically ineligible.

6. Duke -- There won't be a more upbeat last-place team in the country. David Cutcliffe squeezed out four victories in his first season as coach. That ties for the most in Krzyzewskiville since 1994. Senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis gets one last season to work under the guy who tutored Peyton and Eli. Last season's defense held three opponents to less than 10 points for the first time since 1976. Only four starters return including potential All-ACC defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase.

 

Posted on: May 27, 2009 12:27 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2009 5:39 pm
 

Voting coaches go gutless

DESTIN, Fla. -- Bobby Johnson is a good man, an honest man, a heck of a football coach.

With all due respect, he didn't know what he was talking about Wednesday after the American Football Coaches Association decided its coaches poll would go gack to the dark ages. Starting in 2010, the AFCA will no longer reveal the final ballots of its voting coaches. It had done so the past four years bringing some credibility to a borderline corrupt poll.

Johnson, the Vanderbilt coach, is a member of the AFCA board of trustees who approved -- unanimously we are told -- the switch.

It's pretty simple: The coaches might know football, but they don't know polls. They especially don't know how to choose their consultants. The AFCA followed the recommendations of the Gallup World Poll which was called in to examine the coaches poll. Gallup takes its name from George Gallup who in 1948 was part of one of the biggest polling goofs in history. Remember "Dewey Beats Truman"? Part of the blame goes to Gallup whose organization stopped polling a month before the election.

Darn that Truman and his barn-storming tour that turned the tide in the final weeks.

"You can still make mistakes on a call," said Dr. Bob Tortura of Gallup who worked with the AFCA on the project. "That was a low point in Dr. Gallup's career, I can assure you."

So why is anyone supposed to rely on the Gallup World Poll for something as complicated and controversial as the coaches poll? That's a miscalculation that's hard to live down even 61 years later. The organization advertises itself as being "a must read for audiences that need the most accurate and up-to-date information."

Just like the coaches poll, we'll have to trust Gallup on that.

It is assumed that Johnson knew none of this when a few of us approached him here Wednesday at the SEC spring meetings.

"I can't tell you the rationale," Johnson said. "They (Gallup) do a great, I think, (job) of enlisting the top experts in the land about this situation."

Hopefully, one of them wasn't South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, one of five SEC coaches in attendance who voted in the poll last season.

"That was surprising," Spurrier said of the AFCA's announcement. "I thought we would stay public on that last vote. I sort of think we ought to stay public, keep everybody honest."

Georgia's Mark Richt, another SEC voter in the poll, agreed.

"I didn't mind opening up my vote," Richt said. "I try to make it make sense. I want to be able to defend (it) every week whether it's public or not."

One of the ideas being tossed around was actually hiding the identity of all the voters. Talk about a Star Chamber. After the past four seasons, each of the 60 or so voters (there were 61 last season) released their final ballots. That was a small concession to a system that rewards its participants with millions of dollars. Those dollars actually controlled by the participants.

Example: Coaches will still be allowed to vote for themselves.

Wonderful.

Am I the only one outraged by this? Apparently not.

"Now," Spurrier said, "There's a chance for real hanky panky."

Where's the incentive, now, for coaches to fill out their own ballots? This isn't a poll, it's a secret society that prints money.

For the past four years, the system has worked. At least it worked better, if not completely. There was transparency, accountability. The coaches' final regular-season ballots were published in USA Today. With Wednesday's announcement, they're going backward.

The best method is to release each and every ballot every week. If the coaches don't like it, don't participate. If the thin-skinned coaches who vote can't stand a little scrutiny then that's tough.  Give me $3 million a year, I'll give you my vote, my car keys and my credit card number and my underwear size.

Let's recap: This is a system that forces it coaches to vote No. 1 the winner of the BCS championship game. The AFCA essentially is legitimizing itself. The BCS would still "work" if coaches were allowed a free will after the title game.

If the Congressmen and attorney generals want some BCS source to sue, they ought to go after the AFCA. Its poll kept Utah from winning a national championship. At least the AP media voters can vote their conscience. If you recall, the AP voters thought so much of the undefeated Utes that they voted them No. 2 in the final poll.

AFCA and USA Today officials swear it has cross checks in place to keep a coach from abusing his ballot. Since we'll never see them -- just like 1948 -- we'll have to take their word for it.

A final head scratcher: The 16 board of trustees who voted to change the Division I-A poll aren't all from Division I-A. In fact, the coaches poll that makes up one-third of the BCS formula has been altered by two Division II coaches, two Division III coaches, one NAIA coach and 11 I-A coaches.

I'm sure glad the NAIA has weighed in.

Get ready for some real hanky panky. Trust me.

Posted on: February 11, 2009 1:04 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2009 4:06 pm
 

The future of Mike Leach and other items

The feeling seems to be that Mike Leach will let the deadline expire for signing a new contract on Tuesday. I wrote about the situation on Wednesday.

That leaves him only two years left on a deal that is paid him $1.75 million in 2008, eighth-highest in the Big 12. More important, Texas Tech could be assured that Leach would be on his way out. Allowing him to walk after the 2010 season would not only hurt recruiting but probably distract Leach who would be looking for a new job.

That's not to say a new agreement couldn't be worked out at some future date, but giving a sitting coach a deadline to sign a deal is unique.

Here is a copy of what is believed to be Leach's current contract

 A look at the 2009 Pac-10 non-conference schedule: (Thanks to the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner who rounded up the skeds)

Once again the Pac-10 is showing it isn't shy about playing out of conference. The league plays few I-AA opponents and is willing (maybe because of its geography) to travel to play high-profile opponents.

Best 2009 Pac-10 non-conference games:

1. USC at Ohio State, Sept. 12 -- Game of the Century No. 1,317. Will this be Terrelle Pryor's coming out party?

2. Utah at Oregon, Sept. 19 -- By this point in the schedule the Ducks will have played Boise, Purdue and Utah. Three BCS league opponents. Combined record from 2008: 29-9. Please, stop the madness. Even if the Ducks win all three, what condition will they be in for the Pac-10 schedule?

3. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 17 -- Seven in a row and counting for the Trojans ...

4. Oregon at Boise State, Sept. 5 -- Can't understand why Oregon (and Oregon State) keep playing the Broncos. In this case, the loser might be out of a BCS bowl.

5. UCLA at Tennessee, Sept. 12 -- Rick Neuheisel won't be leading any postgame pep rallies in Neyland. When was the last time the Bruins and Vols were each this desperate for a quarterback?

6. Arizona State at Georgia, Sept. 26 -- The Devils were embarrassed by the Bulldogs last season in the middle of a six-game losing streak. In this return game, both teams are rebuilding.

7. Cincinnati at Oregon State, Sept. 19 -- Jacquizz Rodgers vs. the defending Big East champions.

8. LSU at Washington, Sept. 5 -- What is the Washington AD smoking? That brutal non-con schedule helped get Tyrone Willingham fired. Steve Sarkisian starts his career against an SEC monster.

9. Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 28 -- Irish season finale. Will it be Charlie Weis' finale?

10. Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19 -- Wait, Bill Snyder is actually getting on a plane to play a non-con road game?

11. Arizona at Iowa, Sept. 19 -- The Wildcats are on the rise but Iowa still start the season ranked despite the loss of tailback Shonn Greene.

12. Stanford at Wake Forest, Sept. 12 -- The I.Q. Bowl. Jim Harbaugh's scheduling instincts have to be questioned. His team is starting with consecutive roadies to Pullman (Washington State) and Winston-Salem.

13. Cal at Minnesota, Sept. 19 -- Gophers have almost everyone back in this season that will be a referendum on Tim Brewster's future. (started 7-1, finished 0-5). Hope the Bears have a secondary. Adam Decker could be a preseason All-American.

14. Maryland at Cal, Sept. 5 -- Plenty of revenge motive here for the Bears. Cal was down 28-6 after three quarters last season at Maryland before waking up. After winning nine in '08, the Bears have set their sights higher.

 How the economy will handle the glut of bowls -- natural selection.

 The president is a recruitnik too.

It is the responsibility of this space to keep alive the printed word whenever possible. To that end, let me recommend two excellent, recently-released books.

"KU Basketball Vault, The History Of The Jayhawks," is a unique look at one the most decorated programs in hoops by veteran college basketball scribe Ken Davis. Unique? When was the last time you got souvenirs with your coffee table book?

"Big Boy Rules, America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq" will change your entire view of the war, the government and human nature. Steve Fainaru of the Washington Post provides a deeply personal look at the Bush travesty that is the Iraq war. Steve is a Pulitzer Prize winner who was a former colleague at the Kansas City Star.

I know, I know. I can hear you. That's as close as I'll ever get to a Pulitzer.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com