Slow Saturday

Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's been a pretty slow news day as far as the Big East is concerned. With that, I'll give you all that I have:

Who's Getting Bush(whacked)?

Friday, January 30, 2009

The recruiting Odyssey of New Jersey tight end Malcolm Bush is a bit odd to say the least. After committing to Rutgers last year, Bush reversed course and de-committed shortly thereafter, citing a desire to possibly look into going to Pitt or North Carolina. UNC notified Bush that it had no room for Bush unless he wanted to Greyshirt for a year and wait for a scholarship to open up. That was until today, when scout.com reported that UNC does in fact have room for Bush.

The problem here is, that Bush never really closed the door on Rutgers (visiting on today) or Pitt (visited in Dec.), and he opened the door for Syracuse (visited on Jan. 23). As mentioned above, UNC is back in the mix, so it begs the question: who's getting this kid?

Based on past statements, I'd have to say that UNC is the favorite here, but he may be disenchanted with the idea that they originally didn't want to make room for him. Syracuse has a new staff that has been on a tear recruiting-wise, and Pitt and Rutgers are on fairly solid ground as far as their programs are concerned. My gut tells me this will be a signing day announcement.

Two other tidbits on recruiting:

Larry Fitzgerald and Pitt: A Matter of Fate

I'm sure avid fans of Pitt football already know about this, but I think this story posted by Michael David Smith on Fanhouse.com about Larry Fitzgerald, is very eye-opening. The gist? Growing up in Minnesota, Fitzgerald was a huge Penn State fan and admits,

"...I always liked LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short and I always wanted to be a Penn State linebacker."

Fair enough; Penn State was/is a great program, especially if you want to play linebacker. Something got in the way of Larry making it all the way to State College, PA though. That something, was the weather:

"On our way driving to visit Penn State it was raining really hard and the visibility wasn't good enough so we spent the night in Pittsburgh. My high school coach told me that Tony Dorsett and Dan Marino and Mike Ditka went there and that there were a lot of great players who went there. So we went over to their facility and the coaches didn't know we were coming. I met the coaches and we gave them my tape and that was how the relationship started."

Wow, to think that the Fitzgeralds weren't even planning a stop in Pittsburgh, and that the Pitt coaching staff knew practically nothing about Larry, really speaks volumes about how circumstantial this chance meeting actually was. Of course, you know the rest of the story, so I won't bore you with the details, but it's truly fascinating how these things end up sometimes. I know Pitt and the Big East for that matter, is proud to have Larry representing them in the NFL (and Superbowl!). Best of luck to him and all Big East alums on Sunday.

Mike Tranghese is a Gator Wrestler

You have to hand it to outgoing Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese. The man is not leaving without a fight....with the Gator Bowl committee. Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette has a nice little piece on how our fearless leader (for now) is pressing for face time with the Gator Bowl in order to lock up a more substantial deal.

As you may or may not know, the Big East currently has a "hybrid" bowl tie-in setup, whereby the league switches off having a tie-in with the Gator Bowl every other year with the Sun Bowl (this year Pitt played in the Sun Bowl and no Big East team appeared in the Gator Bowl). Apparently, Tranghese is not satisfied with the "either/or" scenario and wants to have a set bowl schedule every year. That being said, I think the aim here is to lock up the Sun Bowl separately as well, in order for the league to appear in both bowls each year. Regardless of how things ended up for the Big East this year, I'm happy to see that Tranghese is still working hard for the league instead of checking out. I think he'll make a fine case to these bowl committees that the Big East deserves a little more respect than they've been getting.

With that, let's look at what else I have for you this glorious Friday morning:

Get to Know: Zack Chibane

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Something I'm going to try to do, to the extent that I can, is get in touch with relevant players, coaches, bloggers, and journalists who are relevant to the Big East, so that I can share their thoughts with you. This evening, I had the pleasure of exchanging messages with Syracuse commit Zack Chibane.


I thought Zack would be a good person to start out with because he has broad relevance to the Big East given the fact that he was recruited by three Big East schools; committed to USF, and later switched his commitment to Syracuse. He's an offensive lineman from New Jersey who's very excited about the new Syracuse coaching staff. Here's what he had to say in response to some questions I threw his way:

On his original commitment to USF:

My commitment to USF was something I really felt good about. They are a great program that is established in the national college football world.

On his commitment to Syracuse:
I have always loved Syracuse University and throughout to recruiting process I thought that if they ever offered I would love to be a part of the program. Not only did Syracuse offer but with this great coaching and recruiting situation it's something I feel great about joining. Syracuse pretty much sells itself as an academic institution and after meeting with Coach Adkins and Coach Jackson in my school I knew the athletics would soon be top notch.

On coach Derrick Jackson's (defensive line) involvement in Zack's recruitment before and after the coaching staff transition (Jackson was retained by new head coach Doug Marrone):

Coach Jackson has done a lot to make me feel good about SU. He was recruiting me on the old staff and throughout the transition told me that he would make a strong case for me to the new coach. He did that and I am very grateful for that trust he has had in me.
On the incoming recruiting class:

The incoming class is exciting to say the least. I don't think anyone expected things to turn out the way they are. It's really a testament to the new coach's dedication and passion for what's going to happen here in the coming seasons.
On competing for playing time:

I am very excited to be competing with the new commitments Justin Pugh and Andrew Phillips, and hopefully Andrew Tiller. They're all real good players and it's a great thing to have all of us in the same class. Playing together should be a challenging but enjoyable experience.

On New Jersey as a recruiting pool for Syracuse:

Coming from NJ I know the kind of talent that New Jersey, especially the northern parts produce. It's great to hear the coaches say how they want to start recruiting my area real hard. If I can do anything to make people from NJ choose Syracuse that would be awesome. I think that will pay huge dividends for the program in the future. The more NJ guys the better!

Photo Credit: Rivals.com

Tons Going on In Tampa


It goes without saying that the Superbowl is pretty much making Tampa, FL the center of the sports universe right now. That's good because it means the USF Bulls also get more attention and publicity than they would normally be accustomed to. For example, their practice fields (which the Pittsburgh Steelers are using) got a nice little makeover by the "God of Sod," George Toma. Also, the Gramatica brothers (two of which kicked for USF) were used in a segment for the Conan O'Brien show on kicking field goals. And if that weren't enough, USF is doing a pretty good job of making their own publicity without the help of the Superbowl:

In other news:

uRi?

The mighty University of Rhode Island football team will apparently see an influx of transfers from Rutgers this coming season. According to Kyle Town of the Good Five Cent Cigar (URI student newspaper), backup quarterback Chris Paul-Etienne, tight end Tom Lang, wide receiver Robenson Alexis, and defensive back Rob Cervini are all coming to the Football Championship Subdivision program.

URI head coach Darren Rizzi was an associate head coach under Greg Schiano at Rutgers from 2006-07, so this pipeline is not all that much of surprise. Of the transfers, Paul-Etienne and Cervini stick out the most in my mind. Paul-Etienne was the primary backup to Mike Teel at one point this season, but eventually fell out of favor with Schiano when Dom Natale replaced him in the pecking order. That being said, I would think that Paul-Etienne would have had a solid opportunity to compete for the starting job this season along with Natale and incoming freshman phenom Tom Savage, now that Teel is graduating. Cervini, who was a program walk-on, gained some notoriety in this year's Papajohns.com Bowl when he scored Rutgers' first points of the game on a fake field goal play.

It's significant that Darren Rizzi managed to poach four players from his former employer in the first year he was able to do so. It will be interesting to see if this becomes an annual right of passage for disgruntled Scarlet Knight footballers in years to come.

What else is going on?:

NBC Has No Pull

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I came across an interesting nugget from Greg Auman of the USF Sports Bulletin today, about how USF signal caller Matt Grothe nearly played quarterback for the NBC broadcast crew for the Superbowl. Essentially, NBC wanted Grothe to throw passes to Cris Collinsworth (Grothe would be off camera) during a broadcast segment. Sounds pretty worthless to me, but I guess it could have been fun for Matt. USF signed off on the idea, but alas, with security being what it is at the "new sombrero," Grothe wasn't able to get a credential from NBC. So you're telling me that the network responsible for broadcasting the Superbowl this year can't get one measly college student on the field for a gimmicky stunt? I think I hear a PA getting fired.


I've got more:

And in case anyone out there wants to question the quality of officiating in the Big East, please know that the conference's Coordinator of Football Officials, Terry McAuly is refereeing a little game called the Superbowl.

Big East vs. Mountain West

There's been a lot of talk lately, about the Mountain West's appeal to the BCS to have them included as an an automatic bid in the BCS Bowl process. With the success of Utah and TCU, one can't blame them for trying to get in the door. A big part of this discussion has been their perceived comparability to the Big East and ACC Conferences in football. Well, in case there was any question about how the Mountain West stacks up against the Big East, Brian Bennett of ESPN's Big East Blog gives us the lowdown. B-Squared's analysis is pretty much gold to me, so I think we can all sleep better at night knowing that the Big East is still a valid BCS auto bid, and a better overall football conference than the Mountain West.

With that, I give you links:

Shout Out to Pat White

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm embarrassed to say that I'm still not posting as consistently as I'd like to, and therefore, I've missed out on passing along information in a timely manner. That being said, I wanted to give a quick shout out to Pat White for his MVP-caliber performance in the Senior Bowl this past Sunday. I think we're seeing more and more why Todd McShay may be a tad off in saying that White can't be a quarterback in the NFL. I plan on posting a more substantive piece on Pat White's prospects for this year's draft and whether or not I think he can be an effective quarterback in the NFL. For now, enjoy these links:

A Monday Morning Pair of Links

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hi all. Not much going on this morning except the aftermath of a huge recruiting weekend. That being said, I have a couple of links to throw your way:

Syracuse and USF Continue to Set the Recruiting Trail Ablaze

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Doug Marrone knew when he took the head coaching job at Syracuse that fans would expect him to quickly turn around and build a formidable coaching staff and recruiting class. When Greg Robinson had been hired for the same position four years ago, some gave him a free pass because he was hired well further into the recruiting season. But as any observant Big East fan can see, Robinson built a less than stellar coaching staff and regardless of the talent he brought to the football field, the results were not satisfactory to the school's administration or fans.

In roughly a month's time, Marrone built a staff around several highly respected assistant coaches and as of this evening, has also built a modestly accomplished recruiting class (considering the time with which he and his staff had to be out on the trail). Various sources are reporting the commitment of Charley Loeb (Quarterback - MA), E.J. Carter (Linebacker - FL), Dale Peterman (Defensive Back - OH), and Philip Thomas (Defensive Back - FL) to the Orange today.

If that weren't enough, Marrone isn't stopping anytime too soon. With the February 5 national signing day looming, the first time head coach and Syracuse alum is looking to add Andrew Tiller (Offensive Tackle - NY), David Oku (Running Back - OK), and Craig Drummond (Defensive End - IL), among others. Here are the headlines on the aforementioned recruiting developments for Syracuse:

_________________________

After a somewhat disappointing season, the USF Bulls and head coach Jim Leavitt are taking no prisoners on the recruiting trail. They've shown that they too can be competitive in attracting top level talent in the state of Florida, along with Miami, UF, and FSU.

There has been a great amount of discussion over ultimate destination of former Miami quarterback Robert Marve. The troubled former high school standout announced that he would transfer from the Hurricane program and wished to play at a highly competitive football school, where he could also be closer to his sick father (he lives in Tampa, FL). Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that Marve is focusing on four schools: Oklahoma State, Purdue, USF, and Oklahoma (scroll down). This would be quite development for the Bulls, should Marve decide to play his college ball in Tampa, because he would be able to potentially step into the starting job after Matt Grothe graduates at the conclusion of this coming season (Marve would sit out this season).

Then again, it's well known that Robert Marve has had trouble "playing well with others," his coaches in particular. He was suspended for the Hurricanes' bowl game appearance, accelerating his decision to leave the program. USF would have to be sure they would want to risk using a scholarship on another athlete who causes trouble, much like strong safety Carlton Williams.

If you want to discuss the "here and now" of USF recruiting, the Bulls managed to haul in a big fish, in JUCO offensive lineman Carlos Savala. There's no question that if Grothe wants to have the type of senior year that he feels he's capable of having, his offensive line will have to help him a great deal.

I'm Back, and So Is the Big East Apparently

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I have to apologize folks, yet again, for being M.I.A. for about 24 hours. I'm but one man with a full time job that doesn't always allow me to post copious amounts of comments/information on Big East football. But alas, I'm back and I promise to try to continue posting consistently. And speaking of being back, how about all these Big East schools setting the recruiting trail ablaze? I have to say, I'm impressed with the quality of student athlete that some of our schools our pulling in. Even a school like Syracuse is managing to get back on the horse by having the number one rated overall running back in the country (rivals.com) visit them this weekend. Best of luck to the Orange in trying to lock up his commitment. For now, catch up on all the action going on behind the scenes in the Big East since I last left you:

Big East Overall:


Cincinnati:

Connecticut:

Louisville:

Pittsburgh:

Rutgers:

South Florida:

Syracuse:

West Virginia:

Greg Gregory: That whole thing about me going to coach with Urban Meyer...that was a joke. Can I have my job back?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sorry folks, for not being around for the better part of yesterday. I'll really briefly mention that Greg Gregory was not hired to coach tight ends at the University of Florida, as was speculated. Now, Gregory is sitting around as an idle staff member of the USF Bulls, but remember, he is no longer the offensive coordinator (he was stripped of those duties by head coach Jim Leavitt when Leavitt learned that he would be pursuing the UF opening). No update on what will happen with Gregory at this point, but one interesting tidbit to note is that the coach that Urban Meyer decided to hire is Brian White, who not all that long ago, was the offensive coordinator for the Syracuse Orange.

And with that, I give you a plethora of Big East football related information:

Leavitt Was Gator Baited

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

According to Greg Auman of the USF Sports Bulletin, USF head coach Jim Leavitt fired offensive coordinator this past weekend due to Gregory informing him that he would be interviewing for the vacant tight ends coaching position at the University of Florida.

This is an interesting development to say the least, being that many felt Leavitt's reasons for letting Gregory go were purely performance-related. Even more interesting perhaps is that Gregory is apparently still "on staff" at USF and working on recruiting and other football-related activities.

Leavitt is still searching for an OC replacement and current Bulls wide receivers coach Mike Canales is apparently a viable option (he was USF OC from 1996-2000). Leavitt maintains that he never intended to "fire" Gregory, but to merely strip him of his role. He would have to find a new role on staff for Gregory if he were to stay at USF and if a new offensive coordinator was hired from outside of the program.

My take on the whole scenario: A bit of a brash move on Jim Leavitt's part. After hearing about UF, I might give Gregory an ultimatum, or a drop-dead timeline as to when I would need a decision from him. But to go ahead with a public firing is kind of silly and probably sends the wrong message to incoming/potential recruits, as well as other staff members. I do however, agree with Leavitt that he has to take quick action, especially when it relates to his primary staff.

I've got more for you:

Randy Shannon Not Getting Any Young(er)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This one is indirectly related to the Big East, so please bear with me. Oklahoma State has hired Bill Young away from the University of Miami to be their defensive coordinator. Young, who was also DC at "the U," is the second coordinator to leave Miami (OC Patrick Nix was fired).

I bring this up because it will be interesting to see how Randy Shannon is able to retain recruits who had previously committed to the 'Canes under the impression that they would be working with either Nix or Young. This could have a profound impact on whether Big East schools who were also in the mix for these recruits are able to swoop in and reopen the recruiting process. I would look for USF in particular to try to take advantage of a seemingly less stable situation at Miami.

What else?:

Syracuse and Michigan Complete a Trade

So if you didn't get your daily dosage of Vitamin C today, I bet you're glad you stopped by the Dangerfield Division because we're packing more Orange information than you can imagine. The latest news out of Ann Arbor has former West Virginia head man and current top dog at the University of Michigan, Rich Rodriguez, hiring former Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson as his new defensive coordinator.


Granted, this is pure rumor in the blogsophere at the moment (one that has persisted for about two weeks now), but if it were to be true, it would make for interesting fodder considering that new Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone recently hired former Michigan defensive coordinator Scott Spence as his new DC. This "trade" of sorts is odd to say the least and probably has many fans scratching their heads.

One can easily tout Robinson's appeal as a defensive coordinator due to his relative success in the NFL (winning two Super Bowls with the Broncos) and at the University of Texas (Rose Bowl win). On the other hand, many Syracuse fans feel that Robinson single-handedly exacerbated the decline of the Orange football program; something that has many Wolverine fans worried. Stay tuned for an official announcement should it come.
Photo Credit: Kevin Rivoli / AP

Will Mitch Browning Board the Kiffin Gravy Train?

Photo Credit: Frank Ordonez/Syracuse Post-Standard


Apologies for the over-abundance of Syracuse related stories today, but I couldn't help but share this one. As Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com astutely points out, former Syracuse offensive coordinator Mitch Browning is considering an offer to join Lane Kiffin's staff at the University of Tennessee as a....wait for it....wait for it....GRADUATE ASSISTANT!

Browning, considered to be one of the best offensive line mentors in the country, would go to Knoxville to help in that regard. He's still under contract with the Orange for another year, so the lack of salary at Tennessee would not be a factor. The recently unemployed coach is credited with discovering talent at the running back position in Marion Barber and Lawrence Maroney, while he coached under Glenn Mason at the University of Minnesota. It could also be asserted that he played a significant role in senior Syracuse running back Curtis Brinkley finally having a breakout season with over 1,000 yards rushing.

With all of the coaching/recruiting talent that Lane Kiffin has been surrounding himself with at UT, one can already see that he's not screwing around. The hiring of Browning as a grad assistant however, would without a doubt, take the cake. If this move were to come to fruition, it would surprise me for two reasons:
  1. Even though Mitch Browning is a quality coach and would be a worthy staff addition, why wouldn't Kiffin want to use a graduate assistant spot for a younger up-and-coming coach that he could mentor; maybe even a minority candidate that could use the role as a stepping stone to future Division 1-a opportunities?

  2. Why, when Glenn Mason was fired, was Browning out of work for a year before being hired by Greg Robinson at Syracuse. And why, now that Greg Robinson has been let go, is Browning not being seriously considered for a paying gig at another institution?

Stay tuned for a link to come later if in fact Mitch Browning takes a graduate assistant position at UT, or otherwise.

Get Your Syracuse Fill

Donnie Webb of the Syracuse Post-Standard is all over news pertaining to Syracuse football today. H/t to him for pointing out the following:

Okay, I decided to throw in at least one link unrelated to Syracuse:

Randy's On a Roll

Randy Edsall and the UCONN Huskies are on something of a roll as of this weekend. You first heard about running back Martin Hyppolite ending his recruitment by giving his verbal commitment to Edsall. After being radio-silent for several weeks following the departure of offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose to Towson State, we now know that Edsall went out and hired Akron Zips offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Joe Moorhead (pictured left; courtesy of Gozips.com).

Here's Moorhead's official bio from the Akron athletics website, but the following is the skinny on him:


  • Started at quarterback for three years at his alma mater, Fordham
  • Had a stint as a graduate assistant under Walt Harris at Pitt
  • Spent time as an offensive coordinator, among other things, at Georgetown
  • Has been a quarterback and receivers coach, as well as offensive coordinator at Akron for the past five years
  • The Zips were 40th in total offense this season, with a 5-7 record
  • Two notable players that Moorehead had a hand in developing: New York Giants wide receiver Domenik Hixon and Cleveland Browns quarterback Charlie Frye

The above sounds like a nice, albeit less than overwhelming resume. That being said, it's not as if Rob Ambrose's reputation preceded him prior to him coming on board at UCONN. If Randy Edsall trusts Moorhead, and if Moorhead can continue the development of the UCONN offense along with quarterbacks Cody Endres and Zach Frazier, then this could be a very fruitful partnership.

Randy also managed to nab two more recruits whilst hiring his new OC:

  1. Kevin "will you be my?" Friend
  2. Nick Williams

Finally, here are a couple of more unrelated links for your reading pleasure:

Another Big East Coaching Vacancy

Monday, January 19, 2009

Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe has to be wondering when he's going to catch a break. After a rough season, losing his defensive coordinator (Ron English), losing his replacement for Ron English (Bill Miller), dealing with the uncertainty surrounding offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm, players transferring, and a tough recruiting situation, he's now faced with losing his running backs coach (Tony Alford) to Notre Dame. One certainly can't blame Alford for wanting to jump ship to a prestigious program like Notre Dame, but it leaves Kragthorpe in a precarious situation. It will be interesting to see how Krags fills the holes he has on his staff in order to right the ship in the 'Ville.

In other news:

MLK Day Links

Happy MLK Day everybody. I hope those who have a day off from work are enjoying themselves, and those that don't....well, that sucks. Anyway, here's all the news that's fit to print in the world of Big East football:

A Couple O' Recruiting Links

Sunday, January 18, 2009

AD Links

Here are a couple of links to the Newark Star-Ledger in regard to the Rutgers Athletic Director situation:

And:

The Big East Coaching Landscape Shifts Yet Again


We had been waiting on a decision from Syracuse's Doug Marrone on who would be the school's next running backs coach. That decision was made last evening when it was announced that former University of Tennessee RBs coach Stan Drayton would be coming aboard.

Drayton, in addition to coaching at Tennessee under Phil Fulmer last season, also has coaching stints at the University of Florida, Mississippi State, and Villanova on his resume, among others. With the exception of having coached at Villanova and the University of Pennsylvania, Drayton's Northeast credentials are not all that overwhelming, although coach Marrone insists, "Stan has very strong ties in the Northeast."

Given that Stan Drayton is a native of Ohio and that he played his college ball there, he can be a factor for the Orange in recruiting Midwest players. His experience coaching at three different SEC Conference schools has certainly exposed him to the fertile recruiting grounds of the South. In 2007, he was named by Rivals.com as one of the top 25 recruiters in the country for his work in helping to build the nation's number one recruiting class at the University of Florida. Most notably in 2007, he managed to recruit the Pouncey brothers who were prominently featured on the offensive line of this year's National Champion Gators team.

As far as running backs that Drayton has coached, he can boast about his efforts with Brian Westbrook at Villanova and Jerious Norwood at Mississippi State. Moreover, Florida's rushing attack in 2007 averaged a shade over 200 yards per game, good enough for third in the SEC and 23rd nationally.

Stan Drayton is Doug Marrone's third hire from the University of Tennessee. One can absolutely make the assumption that offensive line coach Greg Adkins and Director of Football Operations Kevin Van Derzee played significant roles in singing the praises of Drayton. Even if Tennessee's offense wasn't all that impressive last season and that Drayton does not have any significant ties to the Big East (or Syracuse), Marrone is at least impressed with the coach's "orange" credentials, having already served stints at two other institutions where orange is an integral school color. Marrone also hopes to recreate the above (right) scene with Drayton in the middle of a pack of Orange players after winning a national title.

____________________________

University of South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt decided last evening to part ways with offensive coordinator Greg Gregory. Leavitt, citing that, "It is time for our program to move in another direction," will seek to replace a coach who is seen as largely responsible for failing to produce an efficient red-zone offense. The Bulls went 2-5 in the Big East this season, while unceremoniously swooning down the stretch and failing to improve on offense with 10 returning starters.

Gregory (in the above picture -- left), who took the offensive coordinator post after five seasons as the school's tight ends coach, was under consideration for the Army head coach position earlier this year. It's widely thought that current Bulls wide receivers coach Mike Canales will assume responsibility of the entire offense at this point, after having returned to the squad subsequent to a stint with Mike Stoops at the University of Arizona.

It is worth noting that UCONN head coach Randy Edsall is still in the process of filling an offensive coordinator position of his own. He is seeking to replace Rob Ambrose, who took a head coach position at Towson State University.

Report: Shawney Kersey Switches Commitment from Rutgers to Penn State

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A quick note to let you know that the Gloucester County Times is reporting that three star (rivals.com) wide receiver Shawney Kersey has in fact switched his commitment from Rutgers to Penn State. Kersey had offers from Virginia, West Virginia, Iowa, and Michigan State among others, but it has been confirmed that he will play college football in State College, PA.

Guy's the Guy

Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe decided to elevate recently hired linebackers coach and former Utah State head coach Brent Guy to defensive coordinator. Guy will maintain his duties coaching the linebackers as well. This all after Kragthorpe replaced Ron English, who bolted after one season to coach Eastern Michigan. Kragthorpe replaced English with Bill Miller, who had previously been coaching the linebackers for the Cardinals, but in the end, decided to take a position as co-defensive coordinator for the Kansas Jayhawks. I think in the end, this is ended up pretty well for Krags, given that Guy is well respected as a defensive coordinator despite his disastrous stint as head coach at Utah State.

In other news:

What's Up With Robert Marve?

Friday, January 16, 2009




"Weiner (Marve's former high school coach) said Saturday that Marve had
targeted 10-12 schools, and mentioned four by name: the Big 12's high-scoring
Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, as well as Purdue and Syracuse. Geographically,
none are close to the Marves' Tampa home, so it would seem to go against the
family's public statements about Marve's father battling prostate cancer and a
desire to have Robert closer to home."
This is certainly an interesting development in a saga where the University of Miami was reportedly making it very difficult for Marve to move on to another school of significant relevance in college football. If you're aware of Marve's situation or read the above-linked article, you'll note that Marve would ideally like to be around the state of Florida in order to attend to his ailing father. Curiously enough however, none of the schools mentioned in the above statement are scheduled to play in the state of Florida in 2010, save for Syracuse (at USF).

Obviously, USF also remains a viable option for Marve, given its geography and that Grothe will enter his final year as starter at QB in 2009, which potentially paves the way for Marve to start in 2010. My observation would be that USF and Syracuse seem to pose two clear-cut opportunities for Marve in the Big East. One thing to remember though, is that the Syracuse coaching staff just put the kabosh on allowing Mississippi quarterback recruit Clayton Moore to come north, forcing Moore to enroll at Ole Miss.

Similar to the situation surrounding another high profile transfer in Vidal Hazelton, it will be interesting to see if Robert Marve makes a move to the Big East. More to come as details become available.


Photo Credit: TheEndzoneReport.com

TGIF

Happy Friday everyone. Not much going on at the moment, but I will of course scour the Internet and other sources for more info as the day moves along. For now, chew on these:

Evening Links

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Four for your enjoyment:

I Owe You Links

I mentioned earlier today that I had a lot to dish out, so as promised, here's what's going on in the world of the Big East:

You've already seen the roster and listing of Big East participants for the Texas vs. The Nation Bowl, now here's the same for the Senior Bowl. The 16 Big East players participating include:

Cincinnati: Connor Barwin, TE; Mike Mickens, DB; DeAngelo Smith, DB; Kevin Huber, P; Trevor Canfield, OL
Connecticut: Darius Butler, DB; William Beatty, OL; Cody Brown, DL
Louisville: Eric Wood, OL
Pittsburgh: Scott McKillop, LB; Mark Estermyer, DS
South Florida: Tyrone McKenzie, LB
Syracuse: Tony Fiammetta, RB
West Virginia: Pat White, QB; Ellis Lankster, DB; Pat McAfee, K

"Vidal" Decision

Reports of former USC wide receiver Vidal Hazelton transferring to Cincinnati are apparently premature. According to this article by Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Hazelton is very high on Cincy and is supposedly leaning in their direction, but will visit UC this weekend in order to make his final assessment.

Syracuse is the other finalist on Hazelton's list, but UC seems to be the school of choice for him due to its driveable distance to Georgia (where his sick gradfather resides), and their apt implementation of the spread offense (a system that he prefers to participate in).

It's worth noting however, that new Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone and his offensive coordinator Rob Spence would like to bring a more "wide-open" brand of football to the Carrier Dome. That does not necessarily imply "spread offense," but it could certainly employ spread principles and make for something Hazelton should consider.

We'll make sure to update you once VH has made his final decision.

Holy P-ioli!

Lot's to discuss today. Something I found that was a little under the radar, if only because it's pure speculation, was a piece by Michael Blunda of Pro Football Weekly detailing the potential plans of newly hired Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli.

Syracuse fans are well aware that the co-architect of the New England Patriots current regime has deep roots at Syracuse. Pioli earned a masters degree while serving as a graduate assistant under legendary coach Dick MacPherson in the late 1980's.

Many are speculating that Herm Edwards' days are numbered in Kansas City and that Pioli would seek to bring in "his guy." Speculation of that occurring has since been tamped down, but in looking at the Blunda article, one will see some interesting potential choices for head coach should Scott Pioli make a move.

It's widely assumed that Pioli would want a defensive-minded head coach. There is no question that two high profile names in that regard would be the Giants' Steve Spagnuolo and the Vikings' Leslie Frazier. With a few job openings still looming, one of the aforementioned coaches may get snapped up. But the more interesting factor is Pioli's affinity for a 3-4 defensive scheme, something with which ex-Syracuse head coach and current Dolphins defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni is quite familiar.

One also has to remember that Bill Belichik is a Bill Parcells disciple. Parcells, of course, is at least indirectly responsible for Pasqualoni's hiring in Miami, and because Pioli has a similar mindset to Parcells/Belichik, he could find it very easy to warm up to the idea of Pasqualoni leading the Chiefs. The bottom line on Pasqualoni is that he had a very productive 15 years as head coach of Syracuse (although things leveled off in the last 7 or so years of his tenure) and he has made a good impression on the NFL in his short time there, with both the Cowboys and Dolphins. Somebody with that blend of experience could make for a very attractive head coaching candidate.

Steve Kragthorpe Learns Parenting 101

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rule #1 for parents: If you explicitly bar your child from doing something, it will increase the likelihood that your child will in fact do what you are prohibiting them from doing.

Apparently Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe didn't get the above memo. When defensive back Latarrius Thomas decided to leave the Cardinal program for "greener pastures," Kragthorpe placed the explicit condition of him not being able to transfer to Eastern Michigan. ECU of course, is where ex-Cardinal defensive coordinator Ron English landed as a head coach. According to Michael Lewis of the News-Journal Online, LT decided not to heed Kragthorpe's warning, and will join English at ECU. Granted, this doesn't even begin to approach the magnitude of the Robert Marve situation at Miami, but it's yet another saga where coaches and kids are fighting over where they can and can't transfer.

In other news:

I know I also promised a run-down of Big East players participating in "senior" bowls. Here's a full roster of the "Texas vs. the Nation Bowl." The following eight Big East players will participate:

  • Adrian Grady, DT, Louisville
  • Mike Teel, QB, Rutgers
  • Conredge Collins, FB, Pitt
  • C.J. Davis, OL, Pitt
  • Julius Williams, DE, UConn
  • Jason McCourty, DB, Rutgers
  • Dahna Deleston, S, UConn
  • Kevin Malast, LB, Rutgers

One In, One Out

We learned of two very significant news items having to do with Big East teams today:

  1. As surmised, Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy is on his way out and headed to the NFL
  2. Surprisingly, former USC wide receiver Vidal Hazelton will be transferring to Cincinnati

Number one is a surprise to nobody, given the significant amount of chatter from all ends of the media spectrum, that "Shady" McCoy would pack it in and accept his fate at the NFL draft. It was only a matter of time before an official announcement was made, and today was the day for that.

Hazelton's case is a little more surprising. It's widely known that the former high school all-American wanted to return to the East coast (he's a native of Long Island), and mentioned a few Big East schools as potential landing spots. Rutgers, Pitt, and Syracuse all came up as possibilities for Hazelton. I suppose Hazelton evaluated the situation at Cincinnati and felt as though it represented the best opportunity to maximize his abilities with one year of eligibility remaining in his college career.

Best of luck to both LeSean and Vidal in their future endeavors!

Shady Business

When will LeSean "Shady" McCoy make a final decision on whether or not to enter the NFL draft? We thought we might have heard a firm answer by now, but that is apparently not the case. The Pitt community is on pins and needles waiting for this all-impactful choice. It's understandable considering the fact that the running game really buoyed the offense. Any alteration to the status of running backs on the team could have huge ramifications on how the offense performs next season. Then again, the Panthers do have an incredible stable of running backs to rely on that go well beyond McCoy; not to mention a top-flight running backs coach in David Walker. Should be interesting to see what develops today or in the next couple of days. Here are Pitt Blather's thoughts on the situation.

Also:

Four More...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

...links that is:

Honk if You're a USF Bull


This could just be an indication that Greg Auman and the fellas at a USF Sports Bulletin have way too much time on their hands, but I found it interesting to learn that USF speciality license plates are sky-rocketing in number in the state of Florida. As Auman points out, you'll note that USF experienced a 50% increase in licence plates over a two year period (more than any other Florida school). Interestingly enough, USF is the third largest school in terms of enrollment, behind UF and UCF, with 46,174 enrolled students. That's a lot of license plates for the Florida DMV to be churning out, whether it's for USF or other schools.
USF fans have more to be excited about than car adornments though, as they've managed to get two more high profile recruits in the door:

Other news around the Big East:

For those of you interested in the LeSean McCoy situation, all I will say is that there is a ton of speculation on the web and elsewhere, that he is leaving for the NFL. The official decision has not been made yet, and there are certainly a ton of articles and blog posts at your disposal to see what's going on, so I won't bore you with re-posts of the same sources.

Brian Bennett is Light on Links Too

Monday, January 12, 2009

See, I'm not the only guy in the Big East blogosphere that doesn't have a ton to talk about today. Brian Bennett of ESPN's Big East Blog threw out a couple of posts, namely this one that gives props to the conference's big-time performers in this season's bowls.

I think B-Squared is on the mark for the most part here, but I'd add one more "helmet sticker" for Pitt's entire defense. Sure, Wanny's squad was atrocious in trying to move the football against Oregon State in the Brut Sun Bowl, but you've got to give credit to a defense that shut down a team who had averaged 34 points per game during the regular season. It's unfortunate that the lonely field goal that Pitt's defense let up was enough to sink the Panthers. Good thing Dave Wannstedt is going a different direction with his offensive coordinator....oh wait.

LeSean McCoy is Hearing Jeopardy Music In His Head

As basketball season picks up in the in Big East, the football news cycle gets slower and slower. Here's some info to tie you over for now:

Recruiting Continues at a Brisk Pace for Big East Schools

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A few links to fill you in on more recruiting info:

Sunday Links

First and foremost, congrats to all the Big East alumni who proudly represented the conference in yesterday's NFL playoff games. Shout-out in particular to the Miami (pre-ACC conference) boys and Haruki Nakamura (Cincinnati) for fine performances in lifting the Baltimore Ravens to the AFC Championship Game, as well as Pitt alum Larry Fitzgerald for putting on a clinic in the Cards' win over the Panthers.

There will be more strong Big East ties to come in today's 1 p.m. match-up between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. Most notably, you'll see ex-Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb match wits with former Syracuse coaching assistant Tom Coughlin.

Till then, let's take a look at what's been going on in the world of Big East college football since Friday:

The All Classless Conference

Friday, January 9, 2009

College football is an interesting case study in sociology. Not to sound like a nerd or anything, but there are so many examples of conferences, teams, coaches, athletic directors, and groupings of fans that feel for whatever reason, that their rooting interests are paramount over everyone else's. One can essentially break this down to passion and/or pride, and it's certainly one of the things that makes college football and sports as a whole, so interesting.

I have to say though, that two ACC teams are carrying the torch for the "inferiority complex crowd" at the moment. And because these two teams -- Boston College and Miami -- are former Big East members, it makes for interesting fodder on the Dangerfield Division. Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN sums of the situation of Robert Marve transferring from Miami quite aptly, while also making reference to the firing of Jeff Jagodzinki at Boston College (although he applauds BC for taking a tough stance on Jags).

My impression of the treatment of Robert Marve is that it's completely ridiculous. Sure, Marve made a commitment to Miami and he should be held to the standard of upholding said commitment while working hard in the classroom and on the football field. He had his problems and was rightly reprimanded by the university when off-the-field issues arose. Now that Marve wants to transfer, the U is making life a little tougher for the once highly rated recruit out of Tampa, FL:

  1. They are preventing him from transferring from any ACC school (this is fairly standard due to issues of scheduling, whereby schools typically don't like transfers to play them in upcoming scheduled games).
  2. Miami has specifically singled out LSU, Florida, and Tennessee as school he may not transfer to (Miami backed off an initial ban from ALL SEC schools!)
  3. He may not transfer to any programs within the state of Florida (this has changed as well, being that USF is now an approved program)

The above conditions are all-too-funny for me to bear. It's clear that Miami is very insecure about the way they will be perceived if they "go easy" on Marve. The fact is, Miami is not an elite program anymore. Sure, they've got tradition and a history of winning in the past on their side, but recent events have changed all that. I applaud coach Randy Shannon for trying to change the culture of Miami football, but the situation with Marve isn't helping. They should not feel threatened in any way by Marve going to another program, even if it's a program that is highly competitive or has close proximity to them. Instead, they should take the approach that they have fine recruits coming in the door (a top 10 recruiting class for 2010) and that they will be fine without a quarterback that probably was not going to start for them next year anyway.

In Wojciechowski's article, it was also interesting to see this tidbit about Florida head coach Urban Meyer's policy on players transferring:

Florida's Urban Meyer said his general policy, which can change based on family circumstances (illness, etc.), restricts schools on UF's schedule from receiving permission to speak with a potential transfer.

Okay, so there are restrictions at UF transfers too. But these restrictions change based on "family circumstances (illness, etc.). Guess what? Robert Marve's father is ill and dealing with the onset of cancer. One would think that this might change any perceived policy that a school has toward a player transferring, apparently not at Miami though.

I've already spoken at some length about the Boston College situation. Whether one supports BC AD Gene DeFilippo's decision to dispatch of Jeff Jagodzinski or not, it's obvious that the situation should have been handled behind closed doors. To air this dirty laundry in public is without tact to say the least. But this is also yet another situation where a school thinks it's a bigger deal on the college football scene than they currently are. For sure, the Eagles have performed better in the last four years or so than Miami, but other programs are not seething jealously over the state of football at Boston College. BC has always had a hard time reeling in big-time recruits (as they are again this year), and I can't see things getting any better with the instability brewing among the athletic department and coaching staff. Moreover, I don't see many high caliber coaches wanting to come to Chestnut Hill to roll the dice with DeFilippo (exhibit A: Brian Kelly).

To be fair in all the above criticism, the Big East has had its run-ins with unfair coaches/athletic departments. Everyone knows about the nasty divorce between Rich Rodriguez and West Virginia. But all in all, the Big East tends to keep its powder dry when running into sticky situations that can potentially get blown out of proportion. Observe Louisville's handling of the fickle Bobby Petrino potentially going to Auburn and eventually bouncing to the NFL as a prime example of how an athletic department can handle a tough scenario appropriately. There was no whining or moaning when Petrino ultimately left; Louisville simply turned around and hired Steve Kragthorpe right away. The same can be said of Cincinnati when they hired Brian Kelly immediately after Michigan State nabbed Mike Dantonio (in fact, Cincy is now better off).

Ultimately, I think what at least the Miami situation will produce, is an environment where potential recruits start asking programs more about their policy on transferring. It's only natural to want to know how programs will receive them if things don't go as planned. Frankly, I think recruits SHOULD inquire about this and it is completely understandable to want to safeguard oneself when coming, say, across the country to play for a nationally recognized program. I don't think any ACC programs or programs from other conferences will want to be seen as having an inflexible policy on transferring or the retention of head coaches.

As the BCS Rages on, Big East Teams Learn What They'll Look Like Next Year

The recruiting scene is at a boiling point, transfers are coming and going, and many factors are taking shape that will indicate how Big East teams will look player personnel-wise next year. Here are some links (mostly courtesy of scout.com -- subscription required, but the headlines should give you most of the info you need to know) to give you a rundown:

Also, in case anyone didn't notice: Brian Kelly is not interested in the BC job opening, as some speculated he might be due to his Boston roots and his Irish Catholic background. Sorry BC. Priceless quote from Kelly on the situation:

“I grew up there and watched BC...We’ve got a great deal of respect for their
program, but that’s not a job I would be interested in. At the end of the
day, I’ve got a better situation here at the University of Cincinnati.”

Vidal Links

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Former USC wide receiver Vidal Hazleton decided in December to transfer and has been looking at a variety of options. He was first quoted as saying that Rutgers and Missouri were his top two choices. Now, his father Dexter remarks: "I think (Missouri and Rutgers) are out..."

Hazelton is reportedly now deciding whether to transfer to a D-1AA (Delaware is mentioned as a possibility -- his good buddy Pat Devlin will be playing there) to be able to play immediately, or to another D-1A school (Pitt and Syracuse are mentioned as options -- he would have to sit out one year in order to play).

Chas from Pitt Blather is not feeling optimistic about Hazelton coming to Pittsburgh. That being said, Hazelton was highly recruited coming out of high school and had a tremendous sophomore year for the Trojans, garnering 50 grabs and four touchdowns. It will certainly be interesting to see where he lands, whether it's a Big East school or elsewhere.

After the Pause, I'm Back With Links

Hi All,

Sorry about the day and a half delay in postings. I needed to recharge my batteries and take care of some stuff, but I'm back now and I have links to share (many of which you may or may not be already aware of). I'm also planning on updating everyone on senior bowl rosters once those are finalized so that we can take a look at the presence of Big East players. First, here are the final bowl conference standings prior to tonight's BCS Bowl Championship game:

Pac 10 5-0
SEC 5-2
Big East 4-2
CUSA 4-2
Big 12 4-2
MWC 3-2
Sun Belt 1-1
ACC 4-6
WAC 1-4
Big 10 1-6
Indies 0-2
MAC 0-5

Now for the links:

Laugh at Boston College and Get Your Links

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Upon further examination of the coaching situation at Boston College, it does appear that Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo wasn't bluffing, and fully intends to fire head coach Jeff Jagodzinski after taking an interview with the New York Jets. I realize this has very little to do with the Big East, but it's worth commenting on for the fodder it provides about a program that seemingly jilted the Big East (at the time).

My thinking is, this is a horrendous public relations disaster for the entire Boston College athletics department. Who's going to want to coach at a school that 1.) isn't a sports powerhouse in the first place, and 2.) treats their coaches with such vigorous disrespect in a public forum? I have no doubt that this issue could have been handled behind closed doors, but I'm not sure it was even warranted at all. I could understand this happening if Jago wanted to bolt BC for another ACC school, ala Tom O'Brien, but this was not the case. The Jets job represents a step up for the bright young coach, and regardless of how likely it would be that he got hired in New York, the BC athletics department should have been fully supportive of the opportunity.

Alright, that's enough of that. Now back to teams we actually care about:

I leave you with a vid of Florida head coach Urban Meyer discussing the success of his alma mater, Cincinnati (courtesy of palestra.net):


Get a Load of This Guy

Monday, January 5, 2009

Recently fired Utah State head coach Brent Guy will be taking over as the linebackers coach at the University of Louisville according to Rivals.com. When it comes to his career as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator, Guy has had a relatively hefty amount of success. He's had successful stints at Oklahoma State, Utah State, Boise State, and Arizona State (I guess he likes them states) in those capacities. It was only when he took the reins at Utah State as the head coach that he ran into some disfunction. Over four years in Logan, Guy's squad mustered a 9-38 record.

Guy will be joining former Cardinal linebacker coach Bill Miller on the defensive side of the ball. Miller and Guy will be reunited from their days on staff at Oklahoma State in the early 1990's.

A lot is going to have to be done if Louisville's defense is going to improve. Ron English remarked upon leaving Louisville, that he was surprised by the lack of stability in recruiting and retention within the program, making it difficult for him to run an efficient defense. As you'll also note below, Brian Bennett of ESPN's Big East Blog is predicting that the Cardinals' slide may get worse before things in Louisville get any better. On to that and other links: