Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: January 30, 2012 2:42 pm

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For all their explosive Mathieuan brilliance, LSU failed to finish the 2011 season ranked No. 1. But Phil Steele does have a small bit of good news for the Tigers: the numbers guru says that's where LSU will start the 2012 season.

For the fourth straight offseason, the preview magazine maven has projected the preseason AP top 10 based on returning starters, bowl performance, and other factors. Despite their BCS championship game pratfall, Steele expects the Tigers to open 2012 as the AP No. 1, one slot ahead of much-hyped USC.

Steele's assessment:

Last year LSU was picked 2nd in the SEC West behind Alabama and would go on to have arguably the best regular season in school history going 13-0 winning the SEC Championship and would beat EIGHT Top 25 teams! While the National Title loss to Alabama still stings, many of the Tigers’ star players return for 2012 including Heisman candidate DB Tyrann Mathieu along with their top 3 rec’s and their top 4 rushers. Throw in QB Zach Mettenberger who Miles said last year was his best pure passing QB and a home game vs Alabama and the Tigers will be the favorites to win the National Title! 

Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma round out the projected top five, with Nos. 6-10 going to Georgia, Michigan, Florida State, Arkansas and West Virginia, respectively.

Based on Steele's track record, Les Miles should go ahead and start preparing his team to wear that familiar top-ranked bullseye, at least for its opening week matchup against North Texas. All three teams pegged by Steele to earn the AP's preseason No. 1 nod have gone to do so, including Oklahoma last year. Steele has also correctly predicted 9 of 10 teams all three years of the exercise and 13 of 15 total teams in the top five. 

Which means it's not just Miles that can go ahead and start worrying about managing expectations--assuming Steele is correct (or even close to it), the Bulldogs, Wolverines and Mountaineers will all be graced with a substantially higher preseason ranking than any of those programs has faced in years. And though that's not always a recipe for disaster (look at what Oklahoma State accomplished this past season), an appearance in Steele's projected top 10 proved to be a terrible omen for other supposed up-and-comers like 2009 Ole Miss, 2010 Iowa and 2011 Texas A&M.

So we're guessing Mark Richt, Brady Hoke and Dana Holgorsen -- not to mention Jimbo Fisher and his perennially overrated Seminoles -- are all hoping that this once, Steele isn't quite as accurate as he's promised to be.

Steele also recently released a comprehensive look at the entire FBS's projected returning starters for 2012; you can read the Eye on CFB's breakdown of those numbers here.

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Posted on: January 27, 2012 1:12 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 1:13 pm

Yale QB denies report on Rhodes suspension

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Yale quarterback who missed an interview for the Rhodes scholarship when it coincided with "The Game" has denied a New York Times report claiming the Rhodes program had already suspended his candidacy.

Bulldog signal-caller Patrick Witt received national acclaim when he publicly declined the Rhodes interview in order to lead his team against archrivals Harvard. But the Times published a story yesterday stating that "a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault," though no "formal complaint" was ever lodged with the university and the student declined to go to police. 

The accusation, the Times reported, resulted in the Rhodes Trust suspending Witt's candidacy "several days" before his scheduled interview.

Witt has responded with a public statement issued by his representation (obtained by Deadspin) that denies the Times' connection between the accusation and his withdrawal from the Rhodes program, calling the assault claim "an informal complaint process that had concluded on campus weeks prior to his withdrawal – a process that yielded no disciplinary measures, formal reports, or referrals to higher authorities." The statement also asserts Witt's withdrawal was entirely voluntary. The statement reads in part:
To be clear, Patrick's Rhodes candidacy was never "suspended", as the article suggests, and his official record at Yale contains no disciplinary issues.

Patrick formally withdrew his candidacy for the Rhodes Scholarship on Sunday, November 13, in an email to both the Regional Secretary and the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust. He withdrew after being informed in an email from the Regional Secretary on November 8 that the Rhodes Committee would not reschedule Patrick's final interview, which would overlap Yale's football game versus Harvard on November 19 ...

As this decision process unfolded, Patrick became aware that an anonymous source had contacted the Rhodes Trust with false information purporting to reference an informal – and confidential – complaint within the University. In light of this, and given the short period of time between this occurrence and the potential final interview, the Rhodes Trust asked for an additional letter of reference for Patrick from Yale. By that time, however, Patrick had already informed Athletic Department officials that he intended to withdraw his candidacy due to the inability to reschedule his final interview, and that he would issue a statement to this effect following the Princeton game on November 12 ...

Regarding the information contained in the informal complaint, neither Patrick nor the other parties are permitted by confidentiality rules to discuss details of the matter, though it is important to note that the [university] committee took no further action after hearing the informal complaint. Patrick is aware that the informal complaint was filed by a person he had known for many months prior and with whom he had engaged in an on-again, off-again relationship beginning in the Spring of 2011 and ending about two months before the informal complaint was filed.
According to the Times, a female student had gone to the school's Sexual Assault Harassment and Response and Education Center last September claiming that Witt "had assaulted her in her dormitory room." The student then registered the informal complaint with the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.

The Times offered no account of the Committee's response, writing that "many aspects of the situation remain unknown, including some details of the allegation against Witt; how he responded; [and] how it was resolved."

The dispute over Witt's candidacy comes at a time when the Yale football program is already sensitive to issues of truth-telling when it comes to the Rhodes; former Bulldog head coach Tom Williams resigned in December after admitting that he had not, in fact, applied for the scholarship as he had claimed on his resume (as well as interviews regarding Witt).
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Posted on: January 26, 2012 4:44 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 4:44 pm

PHOTO: Orange Bowl unveils 2013 BCS logo

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The 2012 season will mark just the second time the Orange Bowl has rotated into double bowl-and-BCS national championship hosting duties, and the honor couldn't come a minute too soon for the long-suffering game. Expect organizers to make the most of their time in the spotlight, and that started Thursday with the release of the logo for the 2013 BCS championship game:

A statement issued alongside the logo describes it like this ...
The BCS National Championship Game logo incorporates colors and elements that represent the beauty of South Florida. The blue waves represent the world famous beaches of South Florida, while the iconic Orange Bowl orange represents nearly 80 years of college football excellence in South Florida.  The orange border on the BCS National Championship Game logo ties together the rich tradition of the Orange Bowl with the Discover word mark.
... which strikes us as little over-the-top (and yet, simultaneously, bloodlessly corporate) for a logo we find enjoyably classy and understated. But like we said, the Orange is probably entitled to go a little over-the-top this go-round; we should probably all be thankful we haven't just posted college football's answer to the London 2012 logo.
Are you a West Virginia (or South Carolina) fan who'd like to relive all of the Eye on CFB's coverage of last year's Orange Bowl? Click here

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 6:27 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:33 pm

Lobo QB Trujillo arrested on domestic charge

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

New Mexico has been completely under the radar since making one of the most surprising (and intriguing) hires of the offseason in new head coach Bob Davie. Given the way things have gone for the Lobos the last few years -- coaching embarrassmentsfailed recruits, loss after loss after loss -- that's probably the way the Lobos would like it.

But now walk-on quarterback Ryan Trujillo has gotten the Lobos another round of attention--and, once again, not the kind the program would like.

Local TV station KRQE reported this week that Trujillo was arrested Friday and charged with "battery on a household member," a domestic violence charge, after allegedly spraying his girlfriend in the face with her own pepper spray.

Per police reportsTrujillo and the girlfriend were engaged in an argument in an Albuquerque restaurant when Trujillo grabbed the girlfriend's car keys off their restaurant table. When the couple continued to fight over the keys in the parking lot, Trujillo sprayed the girlfriend in the face with the pepper spray canister attached to the keys.

Trujillo was later arrested in the restaurant parking lot, telling police that he had sprayed her by accident. 

New Mexico issued a statement Friday that it was looking into the incident, but had no other comment. 

Though a walk-on who redshirted during the 2011 season, Trujillo won't be an unknown to many Lobo fans, having earned New Mexico high school Player of the Year honors in 2010 after leading Albuquerque's Manzano High School to the state championship game.


For all of the Eye on CFB's coverage outside the BCS leagues, click here.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:08 pm

Auburn's Gogue approves plan for Toomer's Corner

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn president Dr. Jay Gogue has approved a committee recommendation that will keep Tiger fans rolling the famed Toomer's Corner despite the impending loss of the site's poisoned oak trees--but that doesn't mean some big changes aren't coming to the Corner all the same. 

With the current oaks unlikely to survive beyond this fall, the school's Committee to Determine the Future of Rolling Toomer’s Corner presented a two-part plan to Gogue: one, that the trees would be permanently replaced by one or more similar-sized specimens (likely a different species of oak), and two, that a second committee would be assigned to determine a temporary solution for rolling the corner during the three-to-five year period before the new oaks were ready. Gogue signed off on the plan this week.

“Dr. Gogue did approve the recommendation of the committee and we’re moving forward this week,” said Auburn Communications Director Mike Clardy. “We’re not going to wait to spring to start planning."

The good news for Tiger fans is that the replacement process and temporary solutions won't be put into practice until 2013 at the earliest. The oaks are expected to be in good enough shape to withstand rollings during the 2012 football season, with the same safeguards established during the 2011 campaign -- such as removing the toilet paper by hand -- still in place.

“Live oak wood is hard,” said AU horticulture professor and Toomer's Task Force member Dr. Gary Keever this week. “If you want to roll them, fine.” 

But while there remains a chance the oaks could pull through and render the recommendations and planning moot -- Clardy says the "next step" is to reassess their health -- Keever warned fans not to get their hopes up.

“I would not bet they’d be alive next fall,” he said in Tuesday's committee meeting.

And once the current oaks have died, that's where the changes start. While decisions on exactly what species of tree will serve as replacements are still in the distant future, what's certain is that they will not also be live oaks; the coastal species prefers wetter soil than found in Auburn and would be highly difficult to grow to the current oaks' size at all, much less in the given timeframe. Keever will recommend that overcup oaks be used instead.

As for that temporary solution, it's still too early for many specifics. ("There’s not a tremendous rush," Clardy said, since the oaks would last through 2012.) But the final recommendation is likely to be something man-made, potentially a system of wires.

That's not likely to sit too well with Auburn fans accustomed to the oaks' organic presence (for lack of a better term) at the Corner. Alleged poisoner Harvey Updyke is already public enemy Number 1 among the Tiger faithful; three-to-five years of rolling wires followed by the introduction of a different species of oak isn't going to do a thing to change that.

Reporting by the War Eagle Reader.

For daily real-time updates on Auburn football, follow our Tiger CBSSports.com RapidReports by Jay Tate here.  

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 1:12 pm

LSU TE Peterson questions BCS play-calling

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As historically dominant as Alabama's defense was in 2011, the consensus among LSU fans -- or anyone who watched the BCS national title game, really -- has been that the Crimson Tide got plenty of help in New Orleans from a Tiger offensive braintrust that didn't do their own team any favors. But as now ex-Tiger tight end DeAngelo Peterson has made clear with his comments at the Senior Bowl, it's not just the fans that feel that way.

"The game plan we were working on before the game, I don't think we used it," he told reporters after Senior Bowl practices Tuesday. "I don't think we used it ... I felt we were going to run all the plays we'd been practicing, but they really were calling none of it. I just think the playmakers on offense, they didn't really have a chance to make any plays. That's the big thing that bothers me. We didn't have the opportunity."

Peterson added that he wasn't alone in being frustrated.

"The play-calling bothered the whole offense," he said. "They were doing stuff that we never did all year. The game plan was to spread the ball out, get the ball to me, get the ball to Rueben (Randle), let Russell (Shepard) run the ball every now and then, give the ball to our running backs. In that game, Russell played like two plays, Rueben had like one ball, I had one ball ... I feel like if they had went to the game plan and given the playmakers the ball, they would have done something with the ball."

Peterson felt free to speak his mind during the season as well. But he isn't the first departed LSU senior to publicly question the offensive coaching during the Tigers' BCS meltdown. Quarterback Jarrett Lee said at his own all-star game appearance he "could have been given ... an opportunity to come in and get something going, you know, give them, Alabama, something else to worry about." In the game's immediate aftermath, guard Will Blackwell described the choice between Lee and starter Jordan Jefferson as a "pick-your-poison kind of deal" before saying the coaches "picked the wrong one."

The good news for Les Miles is that to-date, the Tigers still on LSU's roster haven't expressed such doubts in the media, sparing Miles the awkwardness of potential suspensions or other punishments. (Shepard might be viewed as the exception after temporarily declaring for the Draft on Twitter, but now that he's safely back in the fold, that teapot-tempest already appears over.) The bad news is that even if they haven't expressed those doubts publicly, the agreement between the LSU seniors suggests that silence doesn't mean those doubts aren't there. It doesn't help Miles that the seniors have a point: weapons like Randle and Shepard should have gotten the ball more often, Lee should have seen at least a series or two, the play-calling was completely unimaginative.

It's bad enough to lose a national title game that ruins what could have been one of the all-time great seasons in college football. But if the Tigers continue to struggle offensively in 2012 -- with Steve Kragthorpe and Greg Studrawa retained to run the offense for a second year -- and those quiet doubts are allowed to fester, the fallout from that fateful night in the Superdome could make that terrible defeat that much more terrible.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:26 pm

SEC East coordinator hires: thumbs up or down?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all 28 positions now filled, here's one team-by-team assessment of where the SEC stands at the two most important assistant coaching positions. Yesterday, the West. Today, the East:


2011: Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator, Dan Quinn defensive.

Departures: Weis famously left for the Kansas head coaching position.

2012: Weis has been replaced by Boise State coordinator Brent Pease.

Thumbs up/down? TBD. Weis had his moments (offensively speaking, anyway) at Notre Dame, but they nearly all came via the arms of Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen and the Irish's cadre of top-notch receivers--making him a terrible fit for both Will Muschamp's visions of an Alabama-like ground game and the Gators' pass-poor personnel. On paper, replicating the Broncos' balanced mix-and-match approach should be a much snugger fit. But Pease arrives with just one season of play-calling experience under his belt, and at that a season in which Boise ran the ball much more poorly than they had in recent years (34th in average yards per-carry, down from 10th in both 2009 and 2010). And thanks in large part to iffy quarterback play, Texas's 2011 attempt to import the Boise offense (via Pease predecessor Bryan Harsin) hardly set the world on fire--an ill omen for a team whose current QBs, sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, looked out of their depth as freshmen. Pease has promise, but the jury is very much out.


2011: Mike Bobo offensive, Todd Grantham defensive.

Departures: Status quo.

Thumbs up/down? Up, obviously. Bobo managed the offense as well as could be expected given the injury-struck units at running back and receiver, and Grantham came into his own as one of the SEC's hottest coordinating commodities after piloting his young Dawgs to a top-five finish in total D. Richt has no reason to consider change at either slot.


2011: Randy Sanders offensive, Rick Minter and Steve Brown defensive.

Departures: Brown was fired after the 'Cats finished 10th in the SEC and 58th nationally.

2012: Minter has been promoted to full defensive coordinator.

Thumbs up/down? Down. Despite Brown's dismissal, Minter's role as play-caller and lead defensive game-planner means that Joker Phillips is keeping things almost entirely status quo--the entire 2011 offensive coaching staff will return, for instance, even after the hapless 'Cats finished a miserable 118th nationally in total offense and 117th in scoring. Phillips' loyalty to Sanders and the rest of his staff is admirable (and the upset of Tennessee was undoubtedly sweet), but if those kinds of numbers aren't enough to cause a shakeup, what would be?


2011: David Yost offensive, David Steckel defensive.

Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Up. These are the Daves Gary Pinkel knows, and after several productive seasons in Columbia (if not spectacular where 2011 was concerned), there's no reason to make a change before testing their mettle in the SEC.


2011: Steve Spurrier is his own OC; Ellis Johnson ran the defense.

Departures: Johnson took the head coaching position at Southern Miss. 

2012: Spurrier promoted defensive backs coach (and "defensive coordinator" in title only) Lorenzo Ward to replace Johnson.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively up. Ward spent three years leaning Johnson's schemes and already assisted with a similar 4-2-5 approach during his time at Virginia Tech; his promotion means the already successful Gamecock defense (fourth in FBS total D in 2011) won't change much -- if any -- from a schematic standpoint. The only question is if Ward can reproduce Johnson's adept in-game adjustments (see the Gamecocks' second-half shutdown of Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl) and excellent situational play-calling. If he can even come close, the Gamecock D shouldn't miss too many beats.


2011: Jim Chaney offensive, Justin Wilcox defensive.

Departures: Wilcox took the same position at Washington.

2012: Wilcox has been replaced by Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri.

Thumbs up/down? TBD. The Sunseri hire alone would get a thumbs-up, since it's doubtful the Vols could have done much better than the man who just helped put together one of college football's all-time great defenses--not to mention was widely believed to be being groomed to replace Kirby Smart when the current Tide DC finally takes a head job. While it's hardly guaranteed Sunseri can replicate the Tide defense in Knoxville any more than Pease can replicate the Boise offense in Gainesville, there's no arguing with attempting that replication after what the Crimson Tide D has accomplished of late. 

The question is if Derek Dooley should have also looked for a replacement for Chaney. Following Lane Kiffin's departure, Chaney's two years in sole charge of the Vol offense have produced a slide from 60th (in 2009) to 75th to an awful 104th in total offense. Chaney has without question been dealt a rough hand, having been forced to deal with widespread inexperience as well as catastrophic injuries, and a little bit of continuity on a staff already wracked by upheaval is a major positive. So we don't blame Dooley for standing pat in the OC's chair ... though if Chaney can't engineer a dramatic turnaround in 2012, we suspect there's plenty of Vol supporters who will.


2011: John Donovan offensive, Bob Shoop defensive.

Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Well up. The Commodore offense only ranked 81st in yards per-play, that was still a far sight better than the 111th they managed in 2010. Meanwhile, Shoop quietly pulled off one of the nation's most impressive coordinating jobs by pulling the 'Dores up from 76th to 14th in the same statistic. Clearly, there's no call for James Franklin to change things up at this stage.

For all of Eye on CFB's SEC coverage, click here.

Thanks to TeamSpeedKills' helpful "Coaching Carousel Scorecard." 

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:56 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 4:40 pm

Paterno memorial tickets hit $99K on eBay

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As expected, demand in State College for tickets to Penn State's planned "A Memorial for Joe" public service at the Nittany Lion basketball team's Bryce-Jordan Arena has been astronomical. Less expected, in this time of mourning, was that some unscrupulous ticket holder would (apparently) attempt to make a quick buck off of Joe Paterno's death.

With officials announcing Tuesday that the event had sold out, an auction appeared on eBay selling two tickets to the memorial service:


Bids would reach as high as $99,509 before the website shut down the auction. While many of the bids were likely fake -- and possibly even an attempt to ruin the auction for the seller -- that the total so quickly escalated also shows how badly Paterno's legions of admirers would like to be present at the service ... and, sadly, why the seller (assuming sincerity on his or her part) tried to profit off the service in the first place.

Amanda Coffee, a spokeswoman for eBay Inc., said the site does not "allow the sale of tickets to events in which all tickets are free to the public" and removed multiple ads offering tickets to the memorial.

"I think it's absolutely repulsive that people are taking an event that's supposed to be a celebration of life and trying to use it for monetary profit," Penn State student Emily Ricken told the Associated Press Tuesday. Ricken, like hundreds of others, was waiting in line to view Paterno's closed casket at the campus spiritual center. 

The memorial service tickets were issued via the PSU athletics website on a first-come, first-serve basis. More than 10,000 of the tickets were claimed within the first seven minutes of their availability.

Penn State fans without tickets -- as well as other Paterno admirers from across the country -- will still be able to view the service on the Big Ten Network, which will broadcast it live Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.

Among those offering condolences to the Paterno family Monday were President Barack Obama and his family, who fondly remembered meeting the legendary coach.

Screencap HT: Kegs n' Eggs. Information provided by the AP was used in this report.

For more coverage on Paterno's death (including recent comments by his son, Scott) and the week of mourning in State College, follow our CBSSports.com Penn State RapidReports by Jim Rodenbush.

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