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Posts Tagged ‘college football’

Mullen’s First Recruiting Class and Staff Announcements

Posted by Kevin on February 5, 2009

As the day after National Signing Day dawns, college football junkies turn their attention to their school’s recruiting ranking. Not that these rankings actually mean anything, but it gives us something to talk about and dissect for a couple of weeks until college baseball starts back up and the regular season of college basketball winds down and our attentions turn toward March Madness.

I have no idea what Mississippi State’s historical recruiting rankings may be. My guess is we would have a trend of a national ranking of 50-70 and a conference ranking of 7-12 with an occasional big bump. What has got me excited about this year’s class is Dan Mullen and the enthusiasm and promise he brings to my beloved Bulldogs.

Sure, this is Mullen’s freshman season as the head man, but his resume speaks for itself. Everywhere he has been, he has been a winner. Having been a part of Urban Meyer‘s staff from the beginning when Meyer got his first head coaching job at Bowling Green, I feel that Mullen has been in a prime position to learn how to build a successful staff and program. They did it at Bowling Green, Utah, and Florida. Now Mullen has his shot at putting his experiences to the ultimate test in Starkville.

Mullen is a firm believer in building relationships with Mississippi high school coaches and the players that our state produces. He believes that Mississippi produces enough talent to win at the college level and has made great strides already in keeping these players close to home to “play for their state university”.

19 of the 27 players MSU signed yesterday are from Mississippi. Heck, Mullen’s staff has already been talking to the state’s top juniors about their college choice for next season. This year’s primary recruiting focus was to bring speed and a lot of receivers to the offense while filling holes elsewhere. Mullen already knows next year’s recruiting class will have more of a defensive focus and he’s made mention of forecasting his needs for two year’s down the road. Now, I’m sure many college coaches are smart enough to think long term like this, but this is something refreshing for Mississippi State fans. We are not used to having a coach with the smarts to think long term.

Perhaps the biggest gem from this class is Meridian quarterback Tyler Russell. Russell was Mr. Football this past season in Mississip, and lead Meridian to a dramatic 5A state championship that snapped South Panola’s 90-game winning streak.

Mullen’s staff also signed SEVEN… yes, seven, receivers. I don’t know if State has ever had that many receivers on the entire roster before now. Mullen says he would like to keep 10-12 receivers on the roster because they will rotate players so often to keep people fresh. Now, that’s not to say that all of these receivers will play receiver. A couple may end up at cornerback, and a couple of players signed as athletes may end up at receiver.

Mullen’s staff breaks down like this:
Dan Mullen – head coach & special teams coordinator
Less Koenning – offensive coordinator & quarterbacks coach
Mark Hudspeth – passing game coordinator & wide receivers coach
John Hevesy – running game coordinator & offensive line coach
Greg Knox – running backs coach
Scott Sallach – tight ends coach
Carl Torbush – defensive coordinator & linebackers coach
David Turner – defensive line coach
Melvin Smith – cornerbacks & nickel coach
Tony Hughes – safeties coach & recruiting coordinator
Reed Stringer – director of recruiting operations
Rockey Felker – director of player personnel & high school relations
Jody Wright – coordinator of football operations

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Dan “The Man” Mullen Hired As MSU Head Football Coach

Posted by Kevin on December 14, 2008

After a two-week coaching search process that should earn Greg Byrne an award from the CIA on keeping things private, Dan Mullen was introduced this week as Mississippi State’s 32nd head football coach.  Mullen’s name popped up on the rumor mill from time to time, but never really garnered as much steam as names like Chris Peterson from Boise State or Kevin Wilson from Oklahoma.  With the way Byrne conducted his search in a shroud of privacy, every name Bulldog fans threw out there was just speculation.  In the end, Byrne hired the man that he knew he wanted within minutes of talking to him.

Mullen, 36, has 15 years of collegiate coaching experience, all on offense.  His first major collegiate coaching job came in 1998 where he served as an offensive graduate assistant on Syracuse’s Big East conference championship and Orange Bowl team.  In 1999, Mullen moved to Notre Dame to work for Bob Davie on the Irish’s squad that played in the Fiesta Bowl.  While at Notre Dame, Mullen worked alongside another young coach named Urban Meyer.  In 2001 Mullen followed Meyer to Bowling Green where he served as quarterbacks coach.  In 2002, Bowling Green quarterback Josh Harris threw for 2,452 yard, rushed for 737 yards and finished the season as the nation’s 3rd leading scorer.

Meyer and Mullen moved to Utah in 2003 where Mullen served as quarterbacks coach.  While at Utah, Mullen developed quarterback Alex Smith into the eventual #1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.  Under Mullen’s tutelege, Smith also earned the Sporting News Player of the Year award, was Utah’s first finalist for the Heisman Trophy, was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp National Player of the Year awards, and lead the Utes to a 12-0 record and Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma.  The 2004 Utes finished the season with the 3rd highest scoring offense in the nation.

The Meyer/Mullen tandem moved to Florida in 2005 where Mullen has served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  In 2005, Chad Jackson was a Biletnikoff award semifinalist for receivers while setting a Florida single-season record for receptions in a season.  In 2006, the Gators won the BCS Championship while setting more school, conference, and national offensive records.  In 2007, he coached Tim Tebow as the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.  Tebow also won the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, and 78th Sullivan awards.  The Gators offense was the only team in the country to rush and pass for at least one touchdown in every game.

So… everywhere Mullen has been they’ve won.  He has learned from one of the best collegiate defensive minds in Bob Davie, one of the best X’s and O’s coaches ever in Paul Pasqualoni, and an offensive genius in Meyer.

When Byrne started the coaching search, he listed the qualities he wanted in a coach.  He wanted someone young and aggressive, full of energy and a tireless work ethic, someone with a passion for recruiting and someone who was on their way up in the coaching world; not someone who had already peaked.  While he didn’t say it publicly, Byrne wanted someone to get Bulldog fans instantly excited although it will be another eight months before he coaches his first game for MSU.

I was born and raised an MSU Bulldog.  I bleed maroon.  I grew up watching my beloved Dogs win maybe 5 games a year in a good year with the occasional surprise bowl team.  I loved them during the infamous Tech-and-10 (1 win, 10 losses for the uninformed) and I loved them during Jackie Sherrill‘s best years where we had the 1998 eventual national champs Tennessee on the ropes in the SEC title game.  The only time I can recall just not caring what happened in Starkville on football Saturdays have been the last couple of years under Sylvester Croom.  I didn’t like the hire when they got him but I supported my team, but week after week he proved just how unprepared he was to be a head coach.  After the 3-2 Auburn debacle this season, I vowed to never attend another Mississippi State home game until Croom was gone.  Thankfully, Byrne took care of that.

Mullen has said all the right things in his fan meet-and-greets and press conferences.  He’s talked about the spread offense and how it will be tooled to fit the players he has to work with; not forcing the offense on a bunch of players who can’t run it (think Croom’s garbage west coast offense).  He’s talked about putting together a staff full of more young and energetic coaches who have a passion for recruiting and keeping Mississippi’s best athetes not only in state but in Starkville.  While I’m sure he will need to do some recruiting out of state, there is no doubt that there is superior talent in our high schools.  Talent enough to compete for conference championships.

I cannot wait for next fall when Mullen’s first squad takes the field.  Just the thought of an offense that will score some points is enough to get me back to God’s country.

Posted in Mississippi State, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Who’s It Going To Be?

Posted by Kevin on December 3, 2008

As a rabid Mississippi State fan, I can’t stop refreshing Kyle Veazey‘s blog and the Locker Room forum at BulldawgJunction, and constantly checking my phone for updates on Kyle’s Twitter page.  I know it’s not likely that Greg Byrne will have our new coach hired for a few more weeks, but keeping up with the latest rumors and speculation is a sick addiction that I cannot fight.

But keeping up with the rumor mill also leads to a lot of disappointment and wondering why hot coaches at non-BCS schools aren’t beating down our door wanting to take their shot in the mighty SEC.  I know Mississippi State isn’t exactly the Florida Gators but we’re an SEC school and a coach can win here.

Many of the hottest young coaches in the country are making statements that they are not interested in coaching my beloved Bulldogs.  Chris Peterson at Boise State; Brian Kelly at Cincinnati; Gary Patterson at TCU.  All three claim to be more than happy with their current positions, and why shouldn’t they be?  None of them coach in the cut-throat SEC but have been wildly successful and are due to be paid SEC-like salaries.  Now, that’s not to say that their public comments aren’t entirely true, that there may really be interest, but aside from anything Nick Saban says, I tend to believe it when a coach publicly states he has no interest in another job.

Which brings us back to the speculation and rumor mill about who may actually want the MSU job.  One name in particular that surfaced early on and hasn’t let up is Derek Dooley from Louisiana Tech.  Dooley carries the rare dual role of head football coach and athletic director and has done a lot of good for LA Tech in his short time at the school.  He may be the guy, who knows, but I want Byrne to hire a proven winner.  I do not want someone who has had two decent years at a WAC school jumping head first into the SEC.

Other names that keep popping up are Ellis Johnson, our former defensive coordinator under Croom who is now on staff under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina; Tommy Bowden, who was ousted at Clemson for not meeting their crazy Alabama-like expectations; Skip Holtz, the head coach at East Carolina and son of hall of famer coach Lou Holtz; Charlie Strong, defensive coordinator at Florida; Jeff Bower, former head coach at USM; Turner Gill, former Nebraska all-american and current head coach at Buffalo; Phillip Fulmer, the recently fired head coach at Tennessee; and perhaps the most intriguing name, Tommy Tuberville who many speculate may be let go at Auburn.

Among those names I keep seeing, the only two that I care for are Charlie Strong and Tommy Tuberville.  I wanted State to look at Strong when they hired Croom.  He’s young, energetic, experienced, and most importantly he coaches in the SEC.  Strong was the first black coordinator in the SEC when South Carolina hired him in 1999 as defensive coordinator.  Florida hired Strong as their defensive coordinator prior to the 2003 season.  When Ron Zook left Florida for Illinois with one game remaining in the 2004 season Strong served as the team’s interim head coach for the Peach Bowl loss to the Miami Hurricanes.  Strong is well known for his smothering defenses and well-mannered personality and deserves an opportunity at being head coach…. somewhere.  Maybe at State?  I don’t know, but I hope Byrne takes a look at him.

Many fans around the SEC hate Tuberville.  I think he’s great and would love to have him in Starkville.  Tubby cut his teeth as a defensive coach and defensive coordinator at Miami where he coached on a national championship team.  He was also defensive coordinator for Texas A&M in 1994 for a team that went 10-1.  Tuberville got his first head coaching job at Ole Miss in 1995 before moving to Auburn in 1999 where he as guided the Tigers to eight bowl games in ten years, including four conference division titles and one SEC conference title.

A lot of State fans want Byrne to make a hire than will generate a “big splash” in the conference.  They want a big name that will generate a lot of excitement.  They want someone who will run a wide open offense that will blow up the scoreboard.  I don’t care about all that.  What I want is simple.  I want a coach that will win more ballgames than he loses; a coach that will win us bowl games and have us in contention for conference titles.  I don’t care if that means we get a coach with the personality of a wet mop, or a coach that runs the most boring offense in history.  If it wins ball games, I want it. 

Ask Alabama fans how they feel about Gene Stallings.  That man has zero personality and had an offense that would put you to sleep watching it, but all he did was win five bowl games, four division titles, one conference title, and a national championship in just seven years at the helm.  Do you think they cared how boring his teams were while they were winning all those games?  I don’t think so either

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It’s Finally Over… Croom Resigns

Posted by Kevin on November 29, 2008

Sylvester Croom resigned this morning, less than 24 hours after being mystified about the 45-0 ass kicking by Ole Miss.  But the score of that game had nothing to do with the resignation.  It was just the latest reminder to Mississippi State fans that our program is in arguably as bad of shape as it was when Croom was hired five years ago.

Many will say that Croom left the program in better shape than he found it.  I think that’s debatable.  What isn’t debatable are these statistics during his tenture at the helm:

  • 21-38 overall record
  • 10-30 conference record
  • embarassing losses to Houston, Tulane, Maine, and Louisiana Tech
  • total offensive rankings: (107th, 113th, 103rd, 113th, 105th)
  • scoring offensive rankings: (114th, 113th, 97th, 96th, 113th)
  • net punting rankings: (34th, 99th, 107th, 98th, 108th)
  • turnover margin rankings: 66th, 48th, 87th, 55th, 80th)

Not once in five years could Croom’s garbage West Coast Offense crack even the top 100 total offenses in the nation.

Every season was the same thing from Croom.  During summer and fall camps, Croom would question the leadership, effort, and identity of his teams.  Then right before the opening game he all of a sudden knew who his team leaders were, praised the team’s work ethic and effort in practice, and knew what kind of team he had.  Then, remarkably, after each loss we all of a sudden had leadership, effort, and team identity issues again.  Sure enough, right before the next game all of that would be resolvoed.  Rinse, repeat.

The fact is, the only leadership problem the team had started with the coaching staff.  Don’t blame the players for your faults as a coach, coaching staff, and game plan.  The players tried, but they were executing a system of failure, second guessing, and inability to adjust.

I worried that Croom would be retained at least another year because we would not have the resources to buyout his contract, and/or that AD Greg Byrne would not have the balls to be the man to fire the first black head football coach in the SEC.  Yet, after meeting with Byrne this morning, Croom offered his resignation and Byrne accepted.

I’m finally excited about Mississippi State football again and we’re not even playing.  This football season has been much like Ron Polk‘s last season as our baseball coach.  We were so awful that I just stopped caring.  I couldn’t get upset anymore about the program and I couldn’t get excited about any wins.  I just wanted the season to be over.  Now with this morning’s news I’m anxious to see who Byrne will go after.

I think Byrne pretty much has to bring in someone who can put an offense on the field that will score points.  No more of this three yards and a cloud of dust nonsense.  I don’t necessarily want to see a no-huddle or spread offense, but I do want to see an offense that attacks.  Hell, I want to see an entire team that attacks.  Maybe Byrne should take John Cohen with him to talk to potential new coaches…

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More On The SEC Being The Best Football Conference In The Nation

Posted by Kevin on January 8, 2008

Some factoids sent to the media from the SEC office:

  • LSU’s 2007 BCS National Championship is the Southeastern Conference’s fourth in the 10 years of the BCS. Tennessee won the BCS National Championship in 1998, LSU in 2003 and Florida in 2006
  • The SEC is the first conference to win back-to-back BCS titles.
  • The SEC is 11-4 all-time in BCS bowl games. The SEC has won four BCS bowl games in the last two seasons.
  • The SEC’s seven bowl wins this season is an all-time high for any conference. SEC had six last season (previous high).
  • The SEC’s 7-2 bowl record this season is first among the automatic qualifying BCS conferences (.778 percent) and second overall (Mountain West – 4-1, .800 percent) this season.
  • This season, the SEC posted a 47-10 record against non-conference foes (.825 percent), which is the highest percentage of all FBS conferences. 47 wins ties an SEC high all-time (last season, had 47).
  • The SEC now has 184 bowl wins in its history, which is tops in FBS.
  • The SEC’s bowl win percentage of 52.8 (184-164-13) is percentage points ahead of the ACC’s 143-128-5 percentage of 52.7 for tops among FBS conferences. Records are using 2007 conference alignments.

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T.. I.. G.. E.. R.. S.. TIGERS!

Posted by Kevin on January 8, 2008

As Ohio State rolled through it’s 2007 regular season schedule, clearly the media darling for returning to the BCS title game, they were constantly reminded of the thrashing 41-14 thrashing Florida put on them in last year’s title game. SEC speed, and lack of Big 10+1 speed was the theme and it was repeated over, and over, and over, and over.

When LSU and Ohio State were selected as the participants in this year’s BCS title game, the SEC speed theme continued despite Ohio State’s claims that speed would not be a factor this year. They were partially right. Chris Wells is fast. Really fast. That much was evident on his 65-yard run in the 1st quarter. If he can stay healthy and not leave school early, he’ll rewrite OSU rushing records before he’s done. That’s a monster statement considering Wells is chasing some guy named Archie Griffin in the OSU rushing recordbook.

But the OSU defense is not fast. Certainly not fast enough to keep up with SEC speed for four quarters. And last night they couldn’t tackle very well. Sorry, Buckeyes, but you’re still too slow to keep up.

Ohio State did jump out to an early 10-0 lead as LSU looked a bit sluggish and out of sync. However, once they settled into the game and got back in sync, it was over for OSU. LSU ran off 31 unanswered points before Ohio State could get back on the board, but by then it was too little too late. The scoreboard says the 38-24 final score wasn’t as bad as the 41-14 loss to Florida, but that asskicking was every bit as bad. LSU made the Buckeyes’ #1 ranked defense look bad; really bad. Ohio State didn’t help themselves with 5 costly personal fouls either.

Ohio State is now 0-for-9 against the SEC in bowl games, something I’m sure you’ll hear a lot of if the Buckeyes square off with another SEC school in the 2008-09 bowl season. For their part, Ohio State will be expected to return to the BCS title game next year for the third consecutive season. Their roster is absolutely loaded from top to bottom with talent.

LSU is the first team to win two BCS titles, having won its first BCS championship in 2003-04 under Nick Saban. Maybe now Les Miles haters will crawl back in their holes and shut the fuck up. No longer can you claim he’s winning with Saban’s recruits. That really wasn’t a fair statement after Miles’ first season. What’s left of Saban’s recruits now were freshmen when he was at LSU. They are not the same players now as they were then. These are Miles’ players; this is Miles’ team.

My early 2008-09 BCS title game prediction: winner of the Ohio State – Southern Cal game vs. winner of the SEC title game (LSU vs. Georgia). I’m leaning towards a Southern Cal vs. Georgia matchup based on me thinking they should have met in the Rose Bowl this year. It would be a good follow-up next season.

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Dear All Sports Media: STFU!

Posted by Kevin on December 31, 2007

liberty bowl

It started as soon as the matchup was announced…

Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders‘ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
Sports Media: Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.

During the game…..

ESPN: We love Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith is the greatest running back ever. He only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Wow. We just can’t get enough of Kevin Smith, and he only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Have we told you how much we love Kevin Smith?
ESPN: We love Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith is the greatest running back ever. He only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Wow. We just can’t get enough of Kevin Smith, and he only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Have we told you how much we love Kevin Smith?
ESPN: We love Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith is the greatest running back ever. He only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Wow. We just can’t get enough of Kevin Smith, and he only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Have we told you how much we love Kevin Smith?
ESPN: We love Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith is the greatest running back ever. He only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Wow. We just can’t get enough of Kevin Smith, and he only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Have we told you how much we love Kevin Smith?
ESPN: We love Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith is the greatest running back ever. He only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Wow. We just can’t get enough of Kevin Smith, and he only needs 181 yards against Mississippi State to break Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record.
ESPN: Have we told you how much we love Kevin Smith?

Once it was clear Kevin Smith would not get the record….

ESPN: Well… uhm… hey, isn’t it great that Kevin Smith is coming back for his senior year? His momma is so proud of him. Now he’ll get another shot at breaking Barry Sanders’ single season rushing record. Wow. Kevin Smith is just the greatest guy ever.
ESPN: blah, blah, Kevin Smith…. blah, blah… Kevin Smith.

Dear Sports Media, and especially ESPN:

SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP! (pardon my French there kids, but there’s just no polite way to say it)

Not to discredit what the kid has accomplished this year, but I am sick and tired of hearing about Kevin Smith. For the 12 games leading up to conference championship weekend, very few people outside the state of Florida and Conference USA even knew who he is. They certainly didn’t notice someone creeping up the all-time single season rushing list. Only when Central Florida wrapped up the C-USA championship and set their sites on the Liberty Bowl did anyone bother talking about him. And they never shut up about it.

Now… let’s take a closer look at Smith’s quest to eclipse Sanders and why I think it’s ridiculous to even talk about it.
In 1998, Barry Sanders had 345 carries for 2,628 yards in 11 games. In what was then the Big Eight conference. He did this against the likes of Texas A&M, Colorado, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Sanders eclipsed the 300-yard mark four times and averaged 238 yards rushing per game.

In contrast, Kevin Smith had 450 attempts in 2007 in 14 games for his 2,567 rushing yards. 105 more carries in three more games to come up short of what Sanders did in ’98. And Smith plays in arguably a much, much softer conference in C-USA than Sanders played in. Smith benefited from a conference championship game and a bowl game to pad his stats. In 1988 there were no conference championship games and bowl game stats did not count toward single season records. If they had, Sanders would have another 222 rushing yards added to his total to give him 2,850 on the season.

As much as the media is loving playing up to this kid for what he has accomplished this season, I feel they are also belittling just how great of an accomplishment Sanders put up in ’98. The simple fact that today’s players are playing in more games and all of them count toward season stats elevates what Sanders did in my mind.

Kevin Smith is good. Barry Sanders was superman. There is no comparison.

Now to the game….

I wonder if the Vegas experts didn’t get caught up in the Kevin Smith hype as well, putting UCF up as 3 point favorites. I would have made the game a toss up or given State a 1.5 point spread personally.

I didn’t know if Smith would break the 100-yard mark or not, but there was no doubt in my mind he would not get the 181 needed for the single season record. State’s defense is simply too good for that. If Darren McFadden couldn’t run for 100, why would you think Smith could get 181?

What did bother me was whether or not State’s offense would move the ball. They’ve been hot and cold all season and the five week down time could leave them sluggish once the game rolls around. I think UCF did a good job of preparing for us more than I think our offense just wasn’t ready to play. They did the same thing our defense did; they stacked the line and dared Wesley Carroll to beat them with his arm. It worked. When Carroll did drop back to pass, UCF pressured him into bad throws all game long.

But the matchup everyone talks about is State’s defense vs. Kevin Smith. State’s defense rose to the challenge and stuffed him more times than not. They did their job and when UCF was forced to pass, State’s defense bent but didn’t break and came up with big plays when it absolutely needed to.

The coaching staff finally made some adjustments to the play calling and State’s offense put together the game winning drive late in the 4th quarter after Kyle Israel threw his third interception. No, it wasn’t pretty but the win counts nonetheless. I don’t care how pretty or ugly a game is as long as we win.

And just in case you’re wondering, Smith needs something like 1700 yards next season to break the career rushing record. If he breaks that, I’ll give him some of the credit ESPN is trying to shower him with. Until then, enough talk.

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Clean Sweep!

Posted by Kevin on December 5, 2007

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom has swept the two most recognized Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year honors, it was announced today.Croom, who led the Bulldogs to a 7-5 record and their first bowl berth since 2000, was named coach of the year by his peers and by the Associated Press.

State won seven of its last 11 games after a 45-0 loss to then-No. 2 LSU in the season-opener. High-profile wins against Alabama, Auburn and Kentucky followed, as did a come-from-behind win over Ole Miss in the Nov. 23 Egg Bowl that clinched the team’s first bowl berth since 2000.

MSU will face Central Florida (10-3) in the Dec. 29 AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

“It is a great honor and a tremendous blessing to be named SEC coach of the year by my peers,” Croom said in a statement released by MSU. “To even be considered for such an award by the coaches in this conference is quite special.

“I would like to thank my coaching staff, our players, the MSU administration, and the fans for their support over the past four years, and particularly this season. I especially want to thank the fans for the home field advantage they have created. They had a tremendous affect on the outcome of the games.

“Special praise and gratitude also has to go to our seniors, and our entire football team, for the character and determination they showed this season. But I also must remind them that the job is not yet finished.”

Croom is the first State coach to be honored as the AP SEC Coach of the Year since Charley Shira in 1970 and the first from State voted in by his peers since Wade Walker in 1957.

When Sylvester Croom was hired four years ago, State’s football program was in shambles. The talent level was poor, many of the attitudes even worse. The NCAA was handing down sanctions for deeds done under Jackie Sherrill‘s watch. We had already suffered through three straight losing seasons and had absolutely no hope of ever coming out of the funk.

Mississippi State broke the color barrier by hiring Croom as the first minority head football coach in the SEC (he’s still the only one). Croom carried with him an impressive resume as an assistant coach, but he had not coached at the college level in more than 17 years and had zero head coaching experience. However, what Croom did have was character. Lots of character. The man was well groomed by his parents and his coaching mentors. And he had a plan for turning around State’s dreadful football program.

I doubt there are many State football fans that honestly gave him a chance to win. I know I sure didn’t. Croom wasn’t very concerned about recruiting when he first arrived in Starkville. His first priority was to change the attitude of the team. He knew if he could weed out the bad attitudes and loser mentality, positive things would happen. How he even survived his first year is beyond me. But he did. He kicked players off the team, worked others so hard that they quit. In the end, what he was left with were players who bought into their coach. Players with good work ethic, good attitudes, and players who would not quit no matter what.

His first season was no better than the three seasons prior to his arrival as far as wins go. But the difference in the team could be seen. They were trying harder even though it didn’t show up in the win column.

Croom’s second season was worse in win totals, but you could still see there was a lot of fight in the team. But how long could they go on continuing to lose before the program caved in again?

Last year the Bulldogs again only won three games, but you could sense they were close to breaking through. Of their nine losses, four of them were one-possession games that State had a chance in. Winning was just beyond their grasp but it gave fans hope.

This year State finally was able to take advantage of an opportunistic defense and find ways to win seven ballgames. Had just a very few plays gone in our favor, State could have easily won nine ballgames.

Croom’s plan is working. He has stuck to his guns and is rebuilding the program the right way. He is recruiting players with good character and good work ethic. He says those types of players win ballgames. Winning ballgames makes more people want to play for you. Doing it the right way makes more parents want to send their sons to play under someone like Croom. Croom has definitely changed my mind. I suspect he has changed oh so many more who also doubted him.

Job well done, coach. We’re proud of you.

P.S. Croom has also been named a finalist for Liberty Mutual’s National Coach of the Year.

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Yes, Another Playoff Post. Ok, So More Of A Rant.

Posted by Kevin on December 4, 2007

The BCS is a complete and utter failure. Why? Easy. It doesn’t matchup the two best teams in the country as it should. Instead, it matches up the top two vote getters from the polls.

The people behind the BCS are also full of shit. Just look at how they spin how the BCS is so much better than the old poll voting.

Until the early 1990s the selection process for bowl games was disorganized at best; chaotic at worst. Some bowls would effectively make selections after seven or eight games. As a result, the conference commissioners worked to develop a system that not only allows the selection process to be completed at the end of the regular season, but also creates better matchups.

And

The BCS was established to determine the national champion for college football while maintaining and enhancing the bowl system that’s nearly 100 years old. The BCS has become a showcase for the sport, matching the best teams at the end of the season.

Put on your waders; the shit is getting deep.
While I freely admit the poll voting leading up to the creation of the BCS wasn’t perfect, it was certainly no more flawed than the BCS itself. And as far as the BCS creating better matchups, that still carries a great deal of luck in getting those better matchups. The BCS sure as hell does not “match the best teams at the end of the season” as it claims. Sure, it matches #1 vs. #2 every single year only because there has to be a ranking system that has a #1 and #2 team. That does not mean those two teams are deserving of their standing.

And how exactly does the BCS enchance the tradition of the bowls? The only positive thing the BCS did was break old traditional conference ties with some of the major bowls in order to create the BCS bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange). Now that those longstanding automatic ties have been severed, the BCS has actually helped when they finally realize a playoff is the answer to determining the national champion.

The BCS claims to matchup the two best teams. This year, the BCS claims that LSU and Ohio State are the two best teams. What criteria does the BCS use to determine that Ohio State and LSU are better than Georgia, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Southern Cal, West Virginia, and Hawaii? The answer is in the polls. The polls and the timing of each of these teams’ losses (except Hawaii – the only undefeated team in the BCS top 25). Lose early and you have a chance. Lose in the middle of the season and you still have a chance if you were ranked 1 or 2 at the time. Lose late and you’re out unless you win your conference championship and the guys ahead of you didn’t play in their conference championship game.

LSU and Ohio State are not the two best teams. They’re just the two that the pollsters voted up after Missouri and West Virginia had the dubious honors of being the last #1 and #2 teams to fall on the final weekend of the regular season. Ohio State is being rewarded for the Big 10 not having a conference championship game while Georgia is being penalized for not winning their conference division and not playing in the SEC title game (they did tie with Tennessee, the Vols simply won the tie breaker). LSU jumped from 7th all the way to 2nd after escaping the SEC title game. Virginia Tech was ranked ahead of LSU in the week 13 standings and beat a higher BCS ranked team for their conference title and still gets jumped by LSU. Why? Easy. The polls. We’re right back to letting the polls decide who wins championships instead of deciding it on the field.

The BCS screwjobs aren’t reserved for just the title game, either. Missouri got perhaps the biggest BCS screwing of all. Missouri beat Kansas for the Big 12 North division title, meaning Kansas did not play in the Big 12 conference championship game. Yet Kansas is selected to go to the BCS Orange Bowl while Missouri falls to a consolation game in the Cotton Bowl. Oh yeah… and Missouri is still ranked higher than Kansas in the final BCS poll. Why did Missouri get screwed? Easy. They have two losses while Kansas has one. Kansas is being rewarded for not playing in their conference championship game while Missouri is being penalized for playing in it and losing.

I’m also still lost on how the BCS “enhances” the bowl system. It does nothing to enhance it. The BCS simply replaced one broken poll system for another. The only difference is the BCS eliminated the conference ties to the four BCS bowls. That’s it.

A playoff is the only way to determine a national championship. Why is it that DI-A football is the only major college sport without a playoff? Hell, even DII and DIII football have playoffs to determine their champions. For me, the answer lies in the university presidents’ failure to think outside the box. They’re content with a broken system and are not interested in the additional revenue a playoff would no doubt generate.

A playoff would do nothing to harm the traditional bowl system either. If anything, it may help their games mean more.

Many college football “experts” have been claiming for the last couple of weeks that USC and Georgia are the two best football teams right now, yet neither of them are in the title game. Why? If they’re the best, they should be playing for the title instead of LSU and Ohio State. The truth is we’ll never know until you put them on the field and let the teams decide who the two best teams are in a playoff format.

I posted it here a few days ago how a playoff could work. Here are the highlights.

  • Move the start of the season for everyone to the last weekend in August or the first weekend in September.
  • Play an 11-game regular season with one off week.
  • Every conference must have a championship game. Any conference without one must create one. Any conference without enough teams for one must work to get enough teams added to make it work.
  • Every team must belong to a conference. No more special treatment for independents.
  • Play the conference championship games the weekend after Thanksgiving.
  • The top 12 in the BCS poll released after the conference championships advance ot the playoffs. The other bowl eligible teams receive their bowl invites.
  • Two more bowls are added to the BCS structure to accommodate playoff games.
  • Give everyone the second Saturday after Thanksgiving off.
  • Play the first round of the playoffs the third Saturday after Thanksgiving as home games at the higher ranked teams’ home fields.
  • Play the traditional bowl games starting the Monday after the playoffs start. The bowl games can fit into the weeks between playoff games and wrap up the week leading up to the championship game.
  • Play the second round of the playoffs in four of the BCS bowls.
  • Play the third round of the playoffs in the remaining two BCS bowls.
  • Play the BCS Championship game in a rotating BCS bowl.

As it stands now, there are 3-4 weeks of dead time in college football between the conference championships and the first bowl games. In my proposed playoff format, there would only be one weekend off before the playoffs and bowls start. The playoff games are held on Saturdays and the bowl games are played during the week. Now, I know people will bitch about weekday bowl games but there are already plenty of them and their attendance does not suffer from it. I believe my system would generate more excitement in December for college football because it eliminates so much of the dead time. Just space the games out and wrap up the bowls in the week leading up to the championship game.

By including the top 12 BCS teams in the playoff, I feel it gives all of the teams with legitimate potential claims to be the best team a chance to prove it on the field. Don’t use academics as an excuse to not do this either. DII and DIII have 16 team playoffs and seem to do just fine with it.

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The Bowls Are Set

Posted by Kevin on December 3, 2007

I almost don’t even care. Almost. The BCS once again proved that the system is an absolute disaster. And nothing is going to be done to fix it. Outstanding.

Liberty Bowl – the only bowl game that matters.
vs. Game Ball: Mississippi State

BCS “Who Cares” Championship
vs. Game Ball: LSU – THE Ohio State doesn’t have a chance.

Orange Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Virginia Tech – Tech’s defense will knock Reesing silly, and Kansas’ defense has been exposed more times than Brittney Spears’ crotch.

Fiesta Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Oklahoma – never bet against Stoops.

Rose Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Southern Cal – it’s a home game for the Trojans. I could care less, really.

Sugar Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Georgia – Sorry, Hawaii. Georgia has something to prove.

GMAC Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Tulsa – after shaking off an ass kicking at the hands of Central Florida, the nation’s top offense gets back on track.

International Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Rutgers

Outback Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Wisconsin, if their tailback is healthy.

Cotton Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Missouri – Mizzu gets screwed here by being snubbed by the BCS while Kansas makes it in. They’ll be pissed and Arkansas will have a makeshift coaching staff. McFadden deserves to go out better than this.

Gator Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Texas Tech

Capital One Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Florida

Armed Forces Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Cal

Sun Bowl
vs. Game Ball: South Florida – the game of the hasbeens. South Florida was ranked #2 at one time, while Oregon was on the path to the BCS title game before a season-ending injury to Dennis Dixon.

Humanitarian Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Fresno State – only because Tech won’t have their head coach.

Music City Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Kentucky

Chick-Fil-A Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Auburn – they should have been in the Cotton Bowl.

Insight Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Oklahoma State

Independence Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Colorado – please Buffs…. I’m begging you. Stomp a mudhole in Saban’s ass.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Wake Forest – welcome back to reality, UConn.

Alamo Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Jo Pa

Texas Bowl
vs. Game Ball: TCU

Champ Sports Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Boston College

Emerald Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Oregon State

Holiday Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Arizona State

Motor City Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Purdue

Hawaii Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Boise State

PapaJohns.com Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Southern Miss – The Golden Eagles send Bower out a winner.

New Mexico Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Nevada

Las Vegas Bowl
vs. Game Ball: UCLA – they have more initials.

New Orleans Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Memphis

Poinsettia Bowl
vs. Game Ball: Navy

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