January 26, 2009
• Pat White succeeds, wins. Film at 11. Whaddaya know: West Virginia scrambler Pat White was not only allowed to throw passes in the Senior Bowl, but went on to win the game's MVP award Saturday, largely for drilling a 39-yard touchdown strike to Ole Miss' Mike Wallace in the second half (he ran for 31 yards on three carries, too, but mobility is a negative in the pros, from what I hear). Four-for-nine passing is not an impressive day, especially after a poor week of practice, but the consensus seems to be that White bought himself a chance to take some snaps in a training camp, if nothing else. Odds are still that Saturday was his last hurrah as an actual quarterback, but if the NFL can't find a way to successfully deploy this kid in some capacity, I will be very disappointed in the NFL.
At the opposite end of the spectrum: Graham Harrell, whose 4-for-13, one-interception effort in Mobile was described as "horrible" even by the hometown Dallas Morning News, whose blogger was openly rooting for him. After an "OK" week of practices, with no precedent for a stat-wielding "Air Raid" quarterback (from Texas Tech or Mike Leach's previous stops, Kentucky and Oklahoma) making the successful transition to the pros, Harrell probably locked himself into one of the later rounds.
• Bryce Brown is monitoring the situation. Philadelphia Eagles assistant Mark Whipple, Ivy League grad and owner of a I-AA national championship as head coach at UMass in 1998, has apparently accepted the offensive coordinator job at Miami -- there's the usual evasiveness, but a source in the U's athletic department told the Miami Herald Sunday night, "There's a only slight chance it won't happen."
I wonder if Randy Shannon consulted with Bryce Brown about this? The nation's top-ranked running back is a longtime Miami commitment, but Brown's "mentor," Brian Butler, told the Herald last week that Brown won't be signing anywhere until March (Signing Day, as you might be aware, is Feb. 4), and his standing commitment to the Canes hinges in some part on his opinion of the new coordinator. If Brown doesn't take to Whipple for whatever reason, it could be Tennessee, Kansas State, Auburn or USC's gain. In the meantime, you can follow every twist in the Bryce Brown saga on Butler's Web site for the low low price of $9.99 per month! Or don't you want to stimulate the ailing economy? Here is a true patriot.
Speaking of Signing Day: Miami refugee Robert Marve won't make a decision on his new destination until after Feb. 4, either, according to his dad and high school coach (both of whom are available for quote anytime you need one). Oklahoma has called, but Marve is still looking at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Purdue and South Florida, or possibly paying his own way to Florida or Tennessee, where Shannon has forbid him from accepting a scholarship.
• Production? Bah. What's a few numbers between friends? Frank Spaziani's first move as Boston College head coach is a red flag: Spaz said "Nice knowing you" to successful offensive coordinator Steve Logan, instead dipping into the old Rolodex to hire his good buddy Gary Tranquill, head coach at Navy in the mid-eighties and a colleague of Spaziani's at the academy in the seventies and at Virginia in 1990. Tranquil turns 69 and has already retired twice, first after a stint as offensive coordinator on Nick Saban's staff at Michigan State, then again after leading woebegone offenses for six years under John Bunting at North Carolina, where he last coached a unit that averaged an ACC-worst 18 points per game in 2005. ESPN's Heather Denich thought it was a "respectable" hire. BC blog Eagle in Atlanta thought it was a joke.
Quickly ... East Carolina quarterback Patrick Pinkney was granted a sixth year of eligibility, likely securing the Pirates as favorites to repeat as C-USA champs. ... Hyped quarterback prospect Tajh Boyd of Virginia will announce his school of choice Tuesday, and it will almost certainly be Ohio State or Clemson. ... Much-sought linebacker Manti Te'o, a Mormon likely heading for a mission, has dropped BYU from consideration, narrowing his list to USC, Notre Dame and UCLA. ... Florida State is considering a 10 percent cut in its athletic budget next year, which might include limiting tutors to "high risk" students, among other belt-tightening measures, and Nevada looks like it will be hit with cuts, as well. ... Mountain West fans seem more resigned to the conference's dismal television situation than they used to. ... Indiana players Cortez Smith and Dennis Zeigler won't be back at IU after a December robbery arrest. ... Was Washington's fog machine violation an ominous sign for the Sarkisian administration? Ah, probably not. ... Kevin Scarbinsky's hits 'return' like a thousands times to defend a pair of assistant coaches who had the audacity to leave Alabama and Auburn, respectively, for hated rivals writing bigger checks. ... And Georgia assistant Rodney Garner has the worst possible reason for staying in Athens: For a man. He'll only disappoint you, honey. They always disappoint.