There's no place like Saturday...

November 29, 2010

College Football Report - The U takes a U turn:

The U is now led by, who? For the third time this decade, the University of Miami is looking for a head man to wander their programs college football sidelines. Randy Shannon was fired Saturday, Nov. 27, hours after the Hurricanes lost to the South Florida Bulls at an abandoned Sun Life Stadium in Miami. The firing also comes months after the Hurricanes gave Shannon a four year extension on his contract.

Like those who came before him at Miami, Shannon couldn’t live up to the programs gauntly expectations. With a record of 28-22, however, Shannon couldn’t live up to Miami of Ohio expectations.

Off the field, Shannon cleaned up the Miami program, turning The U into one of the more respected athletic/academic programs in the country. The Hurricanes repeatedly found themselves at the top of the conference, and country in graduation rates and APR rankings. He led a team that had just one arrest in his four years, comparred to the Gators 30 under Urban Meyer.

On the field, Shannon struggled to compete in one of college football’s proclaimed “easiest” BCS conferences. Shannon was 16-16 in ACC games. The biggest problem the coach brought was the inability to coach his team to a winning performance in big games. The Hurricanes were just 4-10 against AP ranked teams under Shannon, and had an 0-2 bowl record.

So, on the same day that a plane circled Sun Life Stadium dragging a banner that read – 4 YEARS 0 ACC TITLES LOTS OF EXCUSES FIRE SHANNON – Shannon was fired. Remarkably, it may have had a bigger effect than most think. The Hurricanes previous coach, Larry Coker, was fired the same day banners flew over the Orange Bowl, calling for the firing of Coker.

Shannon was respected by his players and his colleagues that surrounded him, many of which were shocked to hear of the news Saturday night. In the end, however, it came down to wins.

For now, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will take over as the team’s interim head coach, coaching the team in whatever bowl the Hurricanes receive an invite from.

As for Shannon, I wouldn’t expect a long wait in finding another job. The South Florida native has an excellent recruiting reputation and has been liked by everyone whose surrounded him.

The search now begins for a replacement, though, and Hurricanes Athletic Director Kriby Hocutt has expressed his concern to bring in a coach with previous head coaching experience. Here is a list of some of the names that have been thrown around in discussion for the job, and a few others that need to be. Included is the probability of that individual taking the position. Expect a hire within the next week.

Jon Gruden – ESPN Monday Night Football Analyst

Gruden’s name has been brought up every time a coaching position comes available. Gruden’s last coaching gig was with the Tampa Bay Buc’s, who he led to a Super Bowl win. There are sources claiming Gruden has expressed interest in the job, as has Miami towards Gruden, but right now, Gruden claims he remains dedicated to Monday Night Football. Odds: 4/1

Mark Richt – Georgia head coach

Richt’s name came up mainly because the Georgia head man played at Miami from 1979-82. He has said that he’s happy at Georgia and wants to stay a Bulldog, and I believe him. This doesn’t seem like a same situation of Kelly leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame. Richt has a big-time gig already, even if the Bulldogs were 6-6 this season. Odds: 10/1

Dan Mullen – Mississippi State head coach

Mullen, the previous offensive coordinator for the Gators when Tim Tebow was axing fools, hasn’t commented on the Miami position, but I’m not ruling him out. Mullen, who’s in his first year as head coach at Mississippi State, turned around the Bulldogs in just one season, but they’ll remain behind LSU, Alabama, Auburn and most likely Arkansas in the SEC West for years to come. He also has a history recruiting the South Florida area. 3/1

Tommy Tuberville – Texas Tech head coach

Tuberville, the ex-Auburn head coach, has ties to Miami as an assistant coach from 1986-’93. Tuberville recently took the Texas Tech position after sitting out a year of coaching. The likelihood he leaves Tech, seems less than Mullen leaving his new position, though. 7/1

Randy Edsall – Connecticut head coach

Edsall has brought the UConn football team to something credible over the last few seasons. Apart from a 1998 position with Georgia Tech as a defensive coordinator, Edsall has spent the majority of his coaching years in the Atlantic Northeast. He’s got a record of 69-69, but has worked with less talent than anyone in the Big East conference. The money may be Edsall’s biggest draw to Miami. 5/1

Brent Venables – Oklahoma defensive coordinator

Venables is one of the lone coordinators in the country whose name is contention for the position. The main reason is the relationship between Miami Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt and Venables. The two both played football at Kansas State, where Venables later coached Hocutt as a linebacker coach from 1993-’98. Hocutt and Venables were both at Oklahoma together as well. Venables has been an outstanding coordinator at Oklahoma, and while Hocutt has stated he wants a coach with head coaching experience, I think he might make an exception on Venables part. 2/1

Charlie Strong – Louisville head coach

Strong, like Mullen, called Florida home for a while as a defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Strong has a great reputation recruiting South Florida as well. He turned around a Louisville team from 4-8 to bowl eligible this season, and would bring along a staff familiar with Miami, including past Miami defensive line coach and recruiting cordinator, Clint Hurtt. 6/1

College Football Report - The Greatest Play, I've Seen Before

I hope everyone got a chance to see the amazing interception made by Oklahoma State’s Shawn Lewis Saturday against Oklahoma (below). It was the greatest evidence of why The Bedlam series between the two, is bedlam. The interception by Lewis didn’t come without an assist, though. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones looked to be throwing the football away when Cowboys defensive back Broderick Brown leaped out of bounds, tipping the ball back in bounds to Lewis.

I couldn’t help but think, while the rest of the country yelled in “I’ve never seen anything like that before,” moments, I actually have seen something like this before. Apart from a couple of my college roommates, I would object that anyone I know, knows what I’m talking about. But it’s exactly what I thought of when I saw Brown make the leaping tip-drill play live Saturday.

The time was the 2001 Peach Bowl, between Auburn and North Carolina (below). Carolina won the game 16-10, but the bigger story of the night was one single play, nobody had ever seen. UNC quarterback Darian Durant was scrambling out of pressure, while trying to throw the ball away. Auburn linebacker Karlos Dansby leaped out of bounds, catching and throwing Durant’s pass back in to fellow linebacker, Dontarious Thomas.

The refs, who had probably never seen such a play on the field, took about a minute and a half conference between themselves to discuss what had just happened. The result, unlike the Oklahoma State interception, drew a flag because Dansby caught the ball, and threw it back in, resulting in an illegal forward pass. The interception, however, stood.

To get a better look at the play, move to 1:26 in the video.

My only question now, though, is did Oklahoma State's Brown know to tip the ball back in-bounds, rather than draw a flag throwing the ball back in to Lewis? That may be a little farfetched. Defensive play of the year, may not be as far off. The defensive play of the decade? Maybe, he’s got a little competition from Dansby, though.

It’s still one of the greatest plays that I have seen, before.

November 27, 2010

College Football Report: Saturday Picks - Week 13

Michigan (7-4) vs. #8 Ohio State (10-1)


12:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Nov. 27, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH

The rivalry known as The Game, hasn’t been much of, well, A Game, as of late. The Bucks have taken the last six in the series, with the Wolverines last winning coming in the 2003 season. Ohio State got away with one last week at Iowa, pulling out with a late game score to steal the win from the Hawkeyes. Michigan, who once had one of the best offenses in the county, has struggled down the stretch. Not good news for a team that has struggled on the defensive side of the football all season long. Pick: Ohio State 37 – Michigan 21

(Game of the week…)

#13 Oklahoma (9-2) vs. #9 Oklahoma State (10-1)


8:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Nov. 27, Boone-Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK

The Sooners have dominated the Bedlam series, not just as of late, but overall. Oklahoma has taken the last seven games, and eight of the last 10. The trio of quarterback Landry Jones, running back Demarco Murray and wideout Ryan Broyles may be second to only one trio in the country this season. The number one trio, the Sooners can be watched from the sidelines this game. Quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter and wideout Justin Blackmon have brought one of the nation’s most powerful offensive attacks to Stillwater this season. Until someone, apart from the Blackshirt Nebraska defense, slows down the Cowboys offense, it’s hard to pick against a guaranteed 50 points in your pocket. Pick: Oklahoma State 42 – Oklahoma 38

#10 Michigan State (10-1) vs. Penn State (7-4)


12:00 ET, ESPN 2, Sat. Nov. 27, Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA

If the Spartans have done one thing well this season, apart from winning nearly all of their games, it’s bringing drama to nearly all of their contests. So much so head coach Mark Dantonio went through a mid-season heart attack. MSU nearly gave all of their fans heart attacks last week, coming from behind, down 15 against Purdue in the third. The Spartans won, 35-31, blocking a punt in the fourth, taking the lead a few plays later. They’re going to need to win this week’s game against a good Penn State team earlier than the waning seconds, if they want a share of the Big Ten crown. Pick: Michigan State 23 – Penn State 20

#5 LSU (10-1) vs. #12 Arkansas (9-2)


3:30 ET, CBS, Sat. Nov. 27, War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock, AR

This one’s one of the toughest SEC games of the year to pick. The Tigers have consistently had one of the nation’s best defenses. The only question from week-to-week is, how hard is their defense going to have to work, to keep their offense in the game? Surprisingly, however, the offense came to play last week against Ole Miss, bringing in 43 points while the defense gave up 36. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw just his fourth touchdown of the yea r last week, though. On the other sidelines, stand Ryan Mallett, the best pure passing quarterback in the country. The Razorbacks have proven themselves down the stretch in SEC play, showing resiliency last week in an overtime bout against Mississippi State. Led by Mallett, the Razorbacks have been difficult to slow down this season, no matter who’s playing defense against them. Pick: Arkansas 33 – LSU 27

Florida (7-4) vs. #22 Florida State (8-3)


3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN, Sat. Nov. 27, Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL

The Sunshine Showdown has been one of the more lopsided rivalries in college football in the past decade. Florida has rolled over the Seminoles, winning the last six in the series. The tables have turned for the two this season, with the Seminoles hosting as the favorite against the Gators. The Florida offense has been inconsistent this season, and it feels the young Gators bring a new wrinkle and far different game plan to every matchup. The FSU defense has been inconsistent as well, but the Seminoles are tired of losing to their rival. Pick: Florida State 34 – Florida 28

#25 Mississippi State (7-4) vs. Mississippi (4-7)


7:00 ET, ESPN U, Sat. Nov. 27, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS

Mississippi quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has done his best to carry the Rebels this season. The problem, however, is a quarterback can only carry his team so far when his defense is giving up 35 points a game. Records don’t matter in the Egg bowl, though. Mississippi has taken six of the last 10, but the Bulldogs blew the Rebels away last season 41-27. State clearly has a better team than last season and I wouldn’t expect a different result this year. Pick: Mississippi State 30 – Mississippi 23

#18 South Carolina (8-3) vs. Clemson (6-5)


7:00 ET, ESPN 2, Sat. Nov. 27, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC

The Gamecocks have their ticket punched for the SEC title game, but need to get past their heated rival in the Battle of the Palmetto State to call it a successful season. Freshman running back Marcus Lattimore has been running ridiculously hard, carrying the team late down the stretch. The Tigers possess a potent rushing game of their own in running backs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper. Ellington is the more explosive player of the two, but is listed as questionable today. Pick: South Carolina 24 – Clemson 20

Georgia Tech (6-5) vs. Georgia (5-6)


7:45 ET, ESPN/ESPN 2, Sat. Nov. 27, Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA

Like the Longhorns, the Bulldogs are fighting to stay alive on the year, and will need to do so against one of their biggest rivals. Tech has struggled down the stretch, most of which can be credited to the loss of quarterback Jonathan Nesbitt. The Bulldogs continue to be a dominating football team from an offensive standpoint, as the chemistry between quarterback Aaron Murray and wideout A.J. Green continues to grow. Unlike the Longhorns, however, I think the Bulldogs have enough mustard in the tank to continue their season. Pick: Georgia 36 – Georgia Tech 27

Notre Dame (6-5) vs. USC (7-4)


8:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Nov. 27, Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA

There isn’t much on the line in one of the nation’s biggest rivalries, which is surprising in this matchup. For USC, this is their bowl game. The Trojans will be held from a bowl due to NCAA violations. For Notre Dame, it’s another disappointing 7-5 or 6-6 season. The coaches may have more on the line here, however. New head men Brian Kelly of Notre Dame and Lane Kiffin of USC are looking to begin the heated rivalry game on a perfect 1-0 start. Pick: USC 31 – Notre Dame 27

Last Week: 8-4 – Overall: 99-45 – Upset Pick: 6-5

November 25, 2010

College Football Report - Thursday & Friday Picks - Week 13


#17 Texas A&M (8-3) vs. Texas (5-6)


8:00 ET, ESPN, Thur. Nov. 25, Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX

Who could have predicted what the Longhorns would be fighting for at this point in the season? Last year, a National Title was on the line. This year, they’re just fighting for a mid level bowl game, and not even that is guaranteed. If you think that the Longhorns have the upper hand here because the game is at Royal-Texas Memorial, it’d be the wrong thought. There hasn’t been anything Royal about Texas at home this season, losers of four games at home this season. Pick: Texas A&M 27 – Texas 20


#21 Arizona (7-3) vs. #1 Oregon (10-0)


7:00 ET, Fri. Nov. 26, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR

The Ducks have had a week to rest their high octane offense and a week to find what went wrong in the game against Cal. The offensive line has been the dominant force behind the Ducks spread attack this season. The unit as a whole has opened up huge rushing lanes for Heisman candidate LaMichael James and given quarterback Darron Thomas plenty of time to stand in the pocket. The strength of the Wildcats thus far this year has been the play of their defensive line, led by ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed. Like the Cal game, it should be another clash in the trenches for Oregon, but I wouldn’t expect anything but typical Ducks football. Pick: Oregon 42 – Arizona 28

(Upset Pick…)

#2 Auburn (11-0) vs. #11 Alabama (9-2)


2:30 ET, CBS, Fri. Nov. 26, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL

Last season, Alabama was nearly in the same scenario the Tigers find themselves in now. Looking for a National Title bid and a Heisman trophy to add to their trophy case from Cam Newton. The Tigers continued their dominance in the SEC this season, rolling past Georgia at home. The Tide walks into this game the favorite, however, and almost as a forgotten team amongst the nation’s elite. If Alabama can get the rushing game pounding the ball against a defense without a select few suspended players. They’ll play spoiler to their biggest rival’s title hopes. Pick: Alabama 34 – Auburn 31

West Virginia (7-3) vs. Pittsburgh (6-4)


12:00 ET, ABC, Fri. Nov. 26, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

Season in and season out, the Backyard Brawl is consistently one of college football’s closest rivalries. The two teams have been the elite of the Big East as of late, and this year’s scenario is no different. The winner will go on to become the favorite to take the Big East’s BCS bid, becoming conference champions. The two teams matchup fairly similar, with speed to go around. The Panthers, however, are playing better football as of late. The rushing game, led by Ray Graham and Dion Lewis, should make the difference for Pitt. Pick: Pittsburgh 27 – West Virginia 18

(Give me a ticket to see…)

#4 Boise State (10-0) vs. #19 Nevada (10-1)


12:00 ET, Big Ten, Fri. Nov. 26, Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV

If the Broncos want to be considered one of the nation’s best, they’re going to have to walk through the WAC with a clean record once again. The Wolf Pack has proven themselves already on a national stage, blowing out Cal in a home game earlier this season. The play of quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been phenomenal again this season, but to take down the Broncos, an entire team needs to play phenomenal football. I like Boise, even away from the protection of the blue turf. Pick: Boise State 48 – Nevada 34

Last Week: 8-4 – Overall: 99-45 – Upset Pick: 6-5

November 24, 2010

College Football Report - There’s Rivalry in the Air

This weekend, more than 18 heated rivalries will take place throughout college football. To make things more passionate, some have National Title implications, and some, conference title implications on the line. From the Iron Bowl, to Clean, Old Fashioned Hate, I rank the weeks 10 best, plus one, rivalry matchups:


#2 Auburn (11-0)


# 11 Alabama (9-2)


Ø Known as – The Iron Bowl

Ø Trophy – The Sportsmanship Trophy

Ø Last year – Alabama won – 26-21

Ø All-time Series – Alabama 40-33-1

Ø Streak – Alabama 2

This year, the Iron Bowl has added implications due to the fact that Auburn sits at No. 2 in the BCS rankings. If the Tigers win, they’re one game closer to a National Title berth. The Tide, however, have taken the last two after dropping six in a row.


#5 LSU (10-1)


#12 Arkansas (9-2)


Ø Known as – The Battle For the Golden Boot

Ø Trophy – The Golden Boot

Ø Last year – LSU won – 33-30

Ø All-time Series – LSU 34-19-2

Ø Streak – LSU 1

One of the two teams is most likely going to be playing in a BCS Bowl. The Razorbacks feature one of the best offenses in the country, while the Tigers bring without a doubt one of the best defenses. Quarterback Ryan Mallet may be playing his last game at home, but he’ll need to be weary of LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, who may be playing his last SEC game ever.


Michigan (7-4)


#8 Ohio State (10-1)


Ø Known as – The Game

Ø Trophy – None

Ø Last year – OSU won – 21-10

Ø All-time Series – Mich. 57-43-6

Ø Streak – OSU 6

The Buckeyes have dominated the series between the hated state from the north over the last decade. Known simply as The Game, fans from both sides fuel the rivalry with their intense hatred towards one another, and their bordering states. Michigan has an opportunity this year to knock the Bucks from a Big Ten shared crown, but they’ll need to find a defense first.


West Virginia (7-3)


Pittsburgh (6-4)


Ø Known as – The Backyard Brawl

Ø Trophy – None

Ø Last year – WVU won – 19-16

Ø All-time Series – Pitt 61-38-3

Ø Streak – WVU 1

This year, the Backyard Brawl gets a little feistier than it already is. The winner will go on to become the favorite to win the conference. The bordering states, and blue collar attitude of both programs, bring close matchups to every game, with the series tied 5-5 over the last 10 meetings. This year, the two teams will unveil their new Nike Pro Combat jerseys, made specifically for this game.


#17 Texas A&M (8-3)


Texas (5-6)


Ø Known as – The Lone Star Showdown

Ø Trophy – Lone Star Trophy

Ø Last year – Texas won – 49-39

Ø All-time Series – Texas 75-36-5

Ø Streak – Texas 2

Nobody could have predicted what Texas would be fighting for at this point in the season. The Longhorns advanced to the Big 12 Championship, and later the National Championship last season following this game. This year, they’re just fighting to become bowl eligible. The Aggies have won five straight, and would love nothing more to end their regular season holding the Longhorns form a bowl


#13 Oklahoma (9-2)


#9 Oklahoma St. (10-1)


Ø Known as – The Bedlam Series

Ø Trophy – Bedlam Bell

Ø Last year – Oklahoma won – 27-0

Ø All-time Series – Oklahoma 81-16-7

Ø Streak – Oklahoma 7

To say that the Sooners have dominated the Bedlam Series as of late is an understatement. This year, however, the game brings along implications of the Big 12 Championship. The winner will advance to the Big 12 title game, representing the Big 12 South division. The Sooners have won eight of the last 10, but the Cowboys bring along one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Future high draft choices lie everywhere, on both sides.


#10 Michigan St. (10-1)


Penn State (7-4)


Ø Known as – The Battle of The Land Grants

Ø Trophy – Land Grant Trophy

Ø Last year – Penn State won – 42-14

Ø All-time Series – Penn State 13-4

Ø Streak – PSU 2

A relatively new rivalry, the Nittany Lions have owned the Spartans since the two began the series in 1993. This year’s game brings along larger things than pride, however. The Spartans have a chance to grab hold a share of, or the outright title of Big Ten Champions. The Nittany Lions are fighting for a better bowl berth and look to do so led by the hot arm of walk-on quarterback Matt McGloin.


Georgia Tech (6-5)


Georgia (5-6)


Ø Known as – Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate

Ø Trophy – The Governors Cup

Ø Last year – Georgia won – 30-24

Ø All-time Series – Georgia 60-39-5

Ø Streak – UGA 1

Sitting at 5-6 on the year, the Georgia Bulldogs are fighting for much more than just the states bragging rights, they’re fighting to continue their season. The Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech is also fighting for a bowl, however already eligible at 6-5; last year’s ACC Champions are fighting for something more respectable.


#Mississippi St. (7-4)


Mississippi (4-7)


Ø Known as – The Egg Bowl

Ø Trophy – Golden Egg Trophy

Ø Last year – Miss. State won – 41-27

Ø All-time Series – Ole Miss. 60-40-6

Ø Streak – Miss. State 1

The Egg Bowl is consistently one of college football’s most heated rivalries. In a state where football is king, the Egg Bowl holds supreme over every other game the two teams play. This year, the Rebels will be missing out on a bowl, but it would make their season to knock the Bulldogs down a peg. The Bulldogs stole a win at home last season, only their fourth of the decade.


#18 South Carolina (8-3)


Clemson (6-5)


Ø Known as – The Battle of the Palmetto State

Ø Trophy – None

Ø Last year – South Carolina won – 31-28

Ø All-time Series – Clemson 63-37-4

Ø Streak – South Carolina 1

The Battle of the Palmetto State has been dominated by Clemson the last decade. The Tigers have taken eight of the last 10 meetings between the two. The Gamecocks ticket to the SEC title game, their first ever, is punched, but one last win against their heated rival would top the season off. The game features some of the best young tailbacks in the country in Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina, and Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington of Clemson.

And can’t forget...)

Florida (7-4)


#22 Florida State (8-3)


Ø Known as – The Sunshine Showdown

Ø Trophy – None

Ø Last year – Florida won – 37-10

Ø All-time Series – Florida 33-19-2

Ø Streak – Florida 6

The upper hand over the last decade without a doubt goes to the Florida Gators. The upper hand this season goes to the Seminoles. The Noles have lost the last six in the series against Florida, but a struggling Gators team will travel to an FSU team that may be on their way to an ACC Championship season. The Gators are just fighting for a better bowl berth, than their current 7-4 record can provide.

All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.