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Terry Bowden will comment on college football issues throughout the 2007 season here in "Bowden Files."
Our college football analyst will file several times a week. Some days he may file twice. Some days he may not file. But check Yahoo! Sports' college football page to make sure you don't miss his latest installment (of course, we'll archive them, too).
And Terry wants you to be involved, so he encourages you to send him a comment or question. That link also appears at the bottom of every article, including Bowden Files. He can't reply personally, but he'll try to address some of your comments and questions in this space.
For more information about Terry, visit his official web site.
Sept. 4 – All offseason, the story has been about what is now going right at Florida State and what is still going wrong at Clemson.
Down in Tallahassee Bobby Bowden hired a bunch of new coaches who were going to immediately transform the Seminoles into a national contender. Up in Death Valley, Tommy Bowden was being vilified for losing four out of his last five games in 2006.
What is perfectly clear after Clemson's hard-fought 24-18 victory over the Seminoles is that the building process at FSU is just that – a process, and the rumors of Tommy's imminent demise at Clemson were greatly exaggerated.
And, just as I said before the game was played – a victory or loss by either team in this game will not make or break either of their seasons.
Sept. 3 – At least for one game California put to rest the theory that the SEC is the most athletic conference. In Saturday night's 45-31 victory over Tennessee, the Bears were clearly faster, more athletic, and more creatively prepared than the Volunteers. California had eight big plays on offense of more than 20 yards by five different players. On top of that, Cal WR/KR DeSean Jackson had the most phenomenal punt return for a touchdown in recent memory to take the early lead in my preseason Heisman hype.
Auburn scored with 2:01 left to finally take the lead and tacked on another score with a fumble return for a touchdown minutes later to seal a 23-13 victory. But the game ball has got to go to Kansas State for putting up such a gallant effort under extreme circumstances. Coach Ron Prince continues to have the Wildcats looking more like the Bill Snyder teams of old as they played head to head with a very good Auburn team down "in the loveliest village on the Plains."
In its first victory over a BCS team since upsetting Alabama back in 2000, Central Florida ruined the North Carolina State debut of new head coach Tom O'Brien by holding on for a 25-23 victory up in Raleigh, N.C. Meanwhile, O'Brien's old team, Boston College, led by new head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, knocked off defending ACC champion Wake Forest 38-28.
A lot of people were talking about how Oklahoma State might be the darkhorse in the Big 12 South. But Georgia was having nothing to do with it, sending the Cowboys home Saturday with their tails between their legs 35-14. Georgia started eight new faces on defense and still held the talented Oklahoma State offense to less than 300 total yards. The Bulldogs will definitely have something to say about who wins the SEC East division this season.
And finally, what can you say about Notre Dame's humiliating 33-3 loss to Georgia Tech? Bear Bryant always said that you needed to have a plan for everything. Although it was clear that Charlie Weis' plan for using multiple quarterbacks against Tech failed miserably, you now have to be concerned about the master plan Weis has for the Fighting Irish. If you ask me, it needs to start with freshman Jimmy Clausen under center.
Aug. 29 – If there is one thing about college football that distinguishes it from any other sport it is the marching bands. I don't care what anybody says, college football would not be the same without them. And if anybody ever tries to tell you their sport is bigger than ours, just ask them why they don't have a marching band show up for their games. Here are a few little-known facts about a typical BCS marching band:
• Formations per show: 12-15 per halftime;
• Formations per season: Approximately 100;
• Songs per game: Approximately 10;
• Hours of practice per week: two hours a day, five days a week, two hours on game day, plus outside sectional time of 12-14 hours a week;
• Band members: 400;
• Buses for road games: Eight 58 passenger buses and 10 smaller ones for equipment;
• Longest time on bus: 22-hour road trip;
• Years of study: Approximately nine years per member – sixth grade through sophomore in college;
Wow! And I thought playing the game was hard.
Aug. 25 – I hate to see the University of Miami leave the Orange Bowl but it had to happen. As great as it is to remember all the good times in that stadium, that place is not what it used to be. It is not a pleasant site to attend a game and no one could come up with the bucks to fix it up. Miami will win wherever it plays as long as it gets the athletes around Miami to go with them. …
Now that we are almost certain that Evan Sharpley will be named the starting QB at Notre Dame isn’t this probably the way it should be? I mean Charlie Weis had to be thinking about the future of the Fighting Irish program from the minute he got there and a replacement for Brady Quinn in that all-important third year in South Bend. A freshman quarterback, such as Jimmy Clausen, is not going to lead you to the championship until his second or third year even if he is the right guy for the job. But, if Weis is recruiting and developing QBs the way he should be, then Sharpley will be just fine. If not, that opens up a whole lot more questions that need to be answered.
Aug. 22 – Word of out Corvallis this week that wide receiver/punt returner Sammie Stroughter is out indefinitely, dealing with the deaths of two family members as well as former OSU coach Jim Gilstrap, is a big blow to the Beavers. Stroughter, the Pac-10's leading returning receiver, is not expected to play this season.
The loss of the All-American will create holes that the Beavers will not be able to fill this year.
Stroughter is expected to leave OSU and return to his home in Sacramento, according to the Portland Oregonian.
Aug. 18 – You have to be pretty impressed with the Big East Conference in the first Associated Press top 25 poll. According to the poll they have three teams – West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers – ranked in the top 16 in the country. That's better than the ACC, the Big 12 and the Pac-10 … But if you had to pick a Big East program with the biggest upside over the next 20 years, I'd probably have to go with South Florida. Can you say location, location, location. …
Much is being written about DeSean Jackson of California being the most explosive offensive player in the country and a Heisman Trophy candidate. He is not only an outstanding wide receiver, but also a game-breaking kick returner. But keep your eye on another WR/KR in the Pac-10 who might be just as good. Sammy Stroughter of Oregon State was second behind Jackson in punt returns with a 15.7 yard average and three returned for touchdowns and led the Pac-10 in receiving yards with 1,293 and five touchdowns on 74 receptions. … Stroughter is currently out indefinitely, dealing with personal issues.
I thought I looked better after losing over 50 pounds. this offseason. Wisconsin running back P.J. Hill dropped down from 242 pounds in the offseason and after eight days of preseason practice is a svelte 226. Hopefully this will allow Hill to finish stronger this season after averaging 146.5 yards in the Badgers' first eight games, but only 79.4 over the last five. Two of their last three regular-season games this season will be against Ohio State and Michigan.
Aug. 10 – I have taken a temporary leave of absence from my daily radio show in Central Florida to observe coaches meetings and football practices at Florida State in Tallahassee.
I have come to one quick conclusion: The players and coaches who prepare for the game work a lot harder than we folks who write about them.
Over the past two weeks, I have been in the office no later than 5:30 a.m. and left the no earlier than 10 p.m. every day.
Maybe the most difficult thing to get used to is that my Blackberry must remain turned off for most of that time. And this routine isn't just happening at FSU but on every football playing college campus in America.
The Point? Count to a hundred and think twice the next time you want to rip your favorite football team.
Yesterday, the NCAA board of directors reaffirmed a proposal by the Division Management Council banning text messaging of recruits by Division 1 football coaches. The vote was 13-3.
But this issue is not dead as the full body of the NCAA membership will take another vote at the convention in January. It is a bad rule and I promise you that eventually it will be repealed.
July 7 – It's interesting to see that the NCAA is reconsidering the ban on text messaging in the recruiting process that was enacted this spring. It seems the NCAA is having reservations about the rule scheduled to go into effect Aug. 1 that disallows text messaging of any type during the recruiting process. The board of directors will meet Aug. 9 to revisit this controversial piece of legislation, and hopefully common sense will rule the day and texting will be reinstated into the recruiting process – with safeguards and limitations as to how often it can be used.
We can't turn back the hands of time and just ignore that there continually are going to be changes in the way we communicate. I didn't own a cell phone 25 years ago, but we wouldn't think of banning their use. I had never been on the Internet 15 years ago, but we couldn't live without it today in the recruiting process. Banning text messaging was a knee-jerk reaction to a "not so new" technology, and we need to go back and treat it like we have everything else and merely add some reasonable limitations to its use. …
I had Georgia head coach Mark Richt on my radio show the other day, and when we were talking about some of the recent rules changes regarding the actual playing of the game, he suggested that we needed to do away with the kickoff. His thinking was that with the size and speed of college athletes today there is too much of a chance for injuries on such plays. He thought we should just start each series after a score on the 24-yard line.
With the rules having been changed just this year moving the kickoff back to the 30, it looks like the NCAA is more interested in increasing the chance for a kickoff return than in eliminating it. Most consider it one of the most exciting parts of the game, and although reduction of injuries has always been a concern of the NCAA, it doesn't seem to be much of a consideration in this regard.
June 26 – We can argue ad nauseum which conference has the best players, but when it comes to the biggest stadiums there isn’t much room for debate. The Big 10 wins hands down. Of the four college football stadiums that seat over 100,000 people, the B10 has three of them … Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State (Tennessee is also on the list). Now, it looks like Michigan is going to solidify its position as the “Biggest House” on the collegiate block with a planned renovation of $226 million to give them a capacity of over 108,000. I’m shocked that the Southeastern Conference is going to take this sitting down &hellip' or should I say standing up.
In another effort to increase annual revenues, The B10 has also announced the formation of its own Big Ten Network and many of the cable companies are not thrilled. In fact, Comcast, which is the largest cable network within the eight states that comprise the B10’s geographical area, says the B10 is trying to push their “less than top quality” content on the general public through increased cable fees.
They do not believe the B10’s “niche sports channel of second and third tier games” should be offered as part of the basic cable package but should only be part of an additional subscription package. George Bodenhiemer, the President of ABC and ESPN Sports, which has a 10-year agreement with the most-watched sports conference in the country, suggested that, “in some respects, they’re (the B10) competing with the hand that feeds them.”
Al this from a conference that will not even consider rocking the boat that goes by the name of the Rose Bowl – even though almost everyone agrees it would mean millions of more dollars for the conference coffers.
June 21 – I was in Philadelphia on a speaking engagement this week, and I decided to see if I could set up a meeting with former UCLA, Eagles, Rams and Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil. He is retired and living outside of Philly with his wife, Carolyn, and I always have wanted to pick his brain about what it was like to be a head coach in the NFL and then spend 15 years in the broadcasting business only to go back into coaching and win a Super Bowl.
I'm an ex-coach going into my ninth year as an analyst for TV, radio and/or Yahoo! Sports, and I wanted to know what forces most affected the career decisions he had made in his life. Folks, any of you who think that people just luck into positions like head coaching jobs in the NFL never have spent a day in the private study of Dick Vermeil.
He is the most organized and detailed individual I have ever met. He showed me spiral notebook after spiral notebook of notes he had taken on almost every meeting of every day of every month of every year he had been a football coach. He had a plan for everything, and when it came to preparing his football teams he left no stone unturned.
But even more importantly, and the thing that made the biggest impression on me, were all the pictures of him and his players. There were pictures of Coach Vermeil and his players laughing together or chumming around together, and there were lots of pictures of Coach Vermeil and his players embracing. The most important thing I came away with that day was how much he truly loved and cared for his players – and how much they loved and cared for him.
I think that's the biggest reason he was a Super Bowl champion. I don't know if I'll ever get back into coaching, but if I do, I'll make sure to take that lesson from Coach Vermeil and make sure that each and every one of my players know that I truly care about him.
We need more coaches like Dick Vermeil.
June 17 – I know you win football games with talent and not coaching (at least that is what I was taught to say when I was walking the sidelines), but have you ever wondered what Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach would do if he were at Southern California? With all that talent he might just average a hundred points a game.
Coach Leach has not had a stock load of NFL talent while coaching the Red Raiders, but every year he keeps plugging in a new quarterback and breaking all kinds of NCAA records. His teams have led the NCAA in passing yards each of the last four seasons. As I heard someone once say, some people can just move the chess pieces around a little better than others. …
There was much discussion this spring about implementing an early signing date in college football. After extensive debate at several conference meetings, the idea seems to have run its course. I, for one, do not think it is a very good idea to have a signing date in early December to go along with the usual date on the first Wednesday of February. History has shown that this will not reduce the amount of recruiting in the latter months; rather, it only will focus recruiting on a smaller number of players. More importantly, it would encourage the go-getters to start working on recruits at an even earlier age than they are now. We are seeing a record number of commitments being made by juniors this year, and the trend will only increase. …
Yes, I said it and I have to live with it, but I wish some young reporters (we are in the same business, you know) would think a little bit about putting quotes into context once in a while. While attending a Florida State booster meeting recently and being asked to introduce my father to about a thousand screaming Seminole fans, I tried to be funny during my introduction and said that as an announcer, talk show host, writer for Yahoo! Sports and motivational speaker, I was "so tired of talking about Urban Meyer that I wanted to vomit."
In another setting I probably would have used the words "so tired of talking about Urban Meyer that it makes me sick," and I then would have qualified that statement with the comments that I speak around the country quite a bit in the offseason and talk about such topics as leadership, building a winning team and having a burning desire to be the best – and that I continually use Coach Meyer as the leading example of all these things. In a backhanded sort of way, I was paying him a huge compliment.
So to all you Gator fans out there who probably could care less what a Bowden says about your coach, I hope you will accept my apology and, if not, at least appreciate the context within which the comment was made. As for the ambulance-chasing newspaper kid who wrote the story, quit hanging around booster club meetings looking for a quote and go out and cover a real story.
May 21 – The LSU mascot, Mike V, died a few a days ago, and boy, did he make a lasting impression on me. He had been the mascot since 1990 and was rolled out on the sideline of home football games in a circus-style cage painted in LSU purple and gold, sometimes positioned specifically to welcome visiting teams into Tiger Stadium. The fact is: He was parked right outside the visitors' tunnel where they entered the playing field in order to surprise them before they ran onto the field.
I should know. Back in 1993, in my first game in Baton Rouge, La., as the head coach at Auburn, he scared the hell out of me with about the loudest roar I've ever heard seconds before we were to run out of the tunnel for the game. There is an old joke about wearing red coaching pants on the sidelines during a tough game because of how bloody it was going to be and not wanting to alarm the players. Well, let's just say, I could have used some brown pants on the sideline that day. …
Arizona head coach Mike Stoops will try to finally get off the schneid – 12-22 and three straight losing seasons – by going back to the future and hiring offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes from Texas Tech to run the spread offense for the Wildcats this season. Dykes will install the pass-happy attack utilized at Texas Tech by head coach Mike Leach, who was the offensive coordinator Bob Stoops (Mike Stoops' brother) brought in at Oklahoma when he arrived to turn that program into a national champion. The Wildcat offense was ranked 105th in the country last season in scoring, averaging 16.6 points per game. …
With two teams, Louisville and West Virginia, expected to be in the preseason top 10 and another, Rutgers, not far behind, the Big East looks like it may be the easiest conference for a coach to make it to the national championship game this year. The best kept getting better in the offseason and the rest, except for South Florida, all continued to struggle to keep up. With only seven conference games and five nonconference foes to spice up the schedule you couldn't ask for a better situation for handpicking your opponents. Louisville's nonconference roundup includes Murray State, Middle Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina State and Utah, while West Virginia's lineup includes Western Michigan, Marshall, Maryland, East Carolina and Mississippi State.
I did say the Big East was the best conference to get to the national championship game, not to win it.
May 10 – If anyone out there wonders what a college football analyst does in the offseason, this is what my next three days look like. I am on a plane right now flying from Orlando to Houston to give a motivational speech to a specialized contracting company, Quanta Services.
Hopefully, I will be able to convince them that in order to be a great company, every member of the team – i.e., employee of Quanta – must truly believe he or she has to do the thing that will lead to the ultimate success of the company. That is, without his or her talent, without his or her effort, without the job that he or she does, Quanta Services will not be a great company.
It's no different than building a winning football team. You must get each and every player to take responsibility for the outcome of the game – if it's going to be, then it's up to me!
Friday I will be in Fort Lauderdale speaking to a group down there and finally in West Palm Beach on Saturday morning at a Florida State Seminole Booster golf outing before I head back home Sunday for Mother's Day. That reminds me, fellas, call home right now and tell your Momma how much you love her and appreciate her. You wouldn't be where you are today without her.
I'm beginning to think I almost need to get back into coaching to slow down. …
Speaking of Houston, I don't guess I'll be bumping into Roger Clemens down here now that he signed on with the New York Yankees. The contract is pretty much like the one he had with the Astros, where he doesn't have to show up and be with the team if he is not pitching that particular day.
Now, I don't have anything personally against Clemens. In fact, I am a big fan of him and all his accomplishments, but if anybody ever wondered why I like college athletics so much more than professional athletics, his contract pretty much answers the question. How in the world can you be a member of a team if you are not there to cheer them on every game? I would think his encouragement alone to the other struggling young pitchers would be almost as valuable as his fastball. In fact, I'm a little ashamed of Mr. Steinbrenner for breaking his No. 1 rule and putting the player ahead of the team. He might as well let Johnny Damon grow his hair back out and add a beard while he's at it. Like I said, it would never happen in college ball. …
I think this is a really big year for Karl Dorrell and his UCLA Bruins. Many people believe, including me, that UCLA has the ability to contend for the Pac-10 crown almost every year. I'm not saying the Bruins necessarily should knock USC off the top of the mountain, but if you asked me which two or three teams in the conference had the means to be in the top three every year I'd say UCLA would have to be one of them. Florida, Texas and Ohio State have shown us that schools with great tradition in one sport can excel in another sport as well. And if Dorrell is going to build a championship program at UCLA, it must start with a championship defense.
May 6 – I read where the Oakland Raiders players were quite impressed with the incredible talent of rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell in their first pass drills Friday. I'm not surprised. Although his physical stature and arm strength are the first things you notice, he also is a guy who can accurately make all of the throws. His LSU quarterback coach, Jimbo Fisher, who was my quarterback and quarterbacks coach in college, told me before the draft that in Russell's last two years at LSU he doesn't remember seeing Russell throw an incompletion in practice. …
Of all the teams in last year's final top 10, West Virginia is the only team that didn't have a single player selected in the NFL draft. With running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White coming back for their junior seasons, I don't think we can expect to see that happen again next year. …
I had a chance to play golf with my father this weekend at a Seminole Booster tournament in Orlando, Fla., and we had a chance to reminisce a little bit. I reminded him that one of my earliest memories of going to a football game with him was of sleeping up in the luggage racks of the team bus when he was the head coach at Howard College (now Samford University). He remembered the exact game I was thinking about back in 1962 against Louisiana College in Pineville, La.
My oldest brother, Steve, Tommy (now at Clemson) and I would lie up in the luggage racks and listen to the football players play cards and tell jokes all night as we traveled to and from Birmingham to the game. One of those players was Little All-American running back Bobby Jackson, still one of my father's all-time favorite players. Anyway, he has been one of the top assistant coaches in the NFL since 1983, and I just noticed that he took a new job coaching running backs with the Miami Dolphins. Incidentally, for all you die-hard Auburn fans, the head coach of Louisiana College that year was Frank Young, the longtime assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Tigers.
April 30 – I can't believe Brady Quinn dropped all the way to the 22nd pick in this year's NFL draft. I had him pegged as a top-five pick going to Cleveland (at No. 3), with a chance he could drop to No. 9 and get picked up by Miami. I still think that Quinn will be a big success in the NFL but that, at least as far as the draft goes, there is a difference between talent and intangibles. Of all the positions in football, quarterback is the only one where intangibles are more important than talent. Give me Joe Montana and "poise under pressure" over Ryan Leaf and arm strength any day. But intangibles still are almost impossible to evaluate qualitatively and extremely difficult to get factored into something like the NFL draft. That being said, I still think JaMarcus Russell was the best QB in the draft and has plenty of both talent and intangibles, but Quinn just was not that far behind in my mind. The Cleveland Browns got the biggest steal of the draft.
Speaking of the Miami Dolphins, how in the world could they not take Quinn? They desperately needed a quarterback for the future and especially someone with the talent, style and charisma of a Quinn to finally fill the shoes of Dan Marino. …
If the Duke lacrosse case taught us anything it is that people really are innocent until proven guilty and that all of us need to wait until the facts are in before we pass judgment on anybody. And that is exactly what we need to do in the situation that has occurred at Penn State where six football players face felony charges that they barged into a party and started a violent fight earlier this month. This is not the time for the media or the fans or a bunch of talking heads on TV to draw conclusions about guilt or innocence or who should be punished for what. Careers will be affected and lives will be changed because of this incident, and if there ever were a case where we all need to PAUSE and let the judicial process run its course, this is it. …
I saw where the Bowl Championship Series title game, the Fiesta Bowl and the Insight Bowl pumped a record $401.7 million into Arizona's economy. This is great for Arizona and commendable for college football, but this is no way to decide how a championship is determined. Somehow we have evolved through the bowl process to a point where the economic impact on certain communities is a factor in how and who we let decide a national championship. I even would go as far as to say that certain communities and constituencies care more about what a championship game can do economically for their city than whether it will determine a true national champion. Don't get me wrong. I'm not blaming Glendale or Tempe for this dilemma but rather the powers that be in college athletics that allow this to be part of the equation. (In fact, an eight-team playoff utilizing seven of the existing bowls would decide a champion on the field and bring in even more money into these communities.)
April 25 – It may have been the Blue and White game, but that was in name only, as the colors of the day were maroon and orange. Penn State held its annual spring football game Saturday at Beaver Stadium in front of 71,000 fans, many of whom were decked out in Hokie colors to pay tribute to Virginia Tech, where 33 people died five days before. The Penn State cheerleaders wore the VT colors as did the Nittany Lion marching band, which also played the Virginia Tech fight song. Joe Paterno, who was given a VT hat to wear at his postgame press conference by the parents of shooting victim and Penn State graduate Jeremy Herbstritt, was moved to tears by the gesture. Is it any wonder that, when you think of Penn State, you think of the word class. …
There has been much debate as to who will be the better quarterback in the NFL, JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn. After seeing each play in college many times over the last couple of years, I don't think this is an either/or deal. Both are going to be outstanding NFL quarterbacks and should go in the top five in the draft. …
You can't imagine how many differences there are between being a head coach and an assistant. New Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik was just reminded of one of them during the Cyclones' spring football game. After coaching mostly from the press box as an assistant for the last 22 years, Chizik got a quick reminder that as the head man his game-day duties will come from the sidelines. After serving 15 years as a college head coach, I assure you that this is no simple difference.
As the leader of the team, Chizik always must be aware of his demeanor on the sideline because his players will be standing behind him looking to him for guidance as to how they should be responding to the game. For instance, if he panics, they will panic. From a strategic point of view, if he is going to call defensive signals, and he has been one of the best in the country at that, he is going to have a terrible view of what is going on compared to what he could see from the box. Anyway, that's my point of view from where I now sit.
April 22 – I stand corrected. I was ready to officially crown Nebraska as the winner of the spring football game attendance competition last Saturday after the Huskers had 54,288 fans show up for their Red and White game. However, Alabama set a new standard for crazy die-hard fans this weekend at their annual A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Folks, 92,138 people showed up for the game. Im talking about a dadgum spring football game. Can you imagine 92,000 fans showing up for a Miami Dolphins intra-squad game? I don't think so. If you were wondering how the Crimson Tide could pay their head football coach $32 million, well, now you know. …
I see where Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain finally transferred to Southern California. After starting seven of the first eight games last year for the Razorbacks, he was relegated to the bench in favor of sophomore Casey Dick. I know there were other mitigating circumstances besides playing time that led to his departure from Fayetteville, but I hope he realizes there is going to be a lot more competition at quarterback at USC than there was at Arkansas. …
Text messaging appears to be on its way out. The NCAA Division I Management Council voted to eliminate text messaging completely, and speculation is that the NCAA board of directors will second the motion Thursday. If you ask me (and they didn't), this is a very short-sighted response. Just like phone calls, they should have placed some reasonable limitations on the use of text messages in recruiting. To go from totally ignoring it to totally eliminating it does not recognize the reality of how young people communicate today. And something soon will take the place of text messaging, the same way texting often has replaced talking on the phone and using beepers.
April 16 – With 54,288 fans in attendance Saturday, Nebraska may get the prize this year for having the largest turnout for a spring football game. Many of those fans came to watch the battle going on at quarterback between Joe Ganz and Sam Keller. Ganz, a redshirt junior, and Keller, the highly touted senior transfer from Arizona State, both looked very impressive as they matched each other touchdown for touchdown most of the afternoon working with the first-team offense against the second- and third-team defenses. Head coach Bill Callahan says the battle will continue into fall practice. Regardless of who eventually starts at QB, he will be throwing to one of the most experienced group of wide receivers in the country. …
After a ho-hum performance by the offense in Florida State's spring game, new offensive line coach Rick Trickett had this to say about his offensive linemen: "We haven't got enough puppies that will bite you right now." …
I saw where Reggie Bush's family agreed to a settlement and gave between $200,000 and $300,000 to Michael Michaels for unpaid rent and for benefits they received while Reggie was playing and winning a national championship for USC. Of course the family, including Reggie, always has maintained that it never violated any NCAA rules or regulations. The NCAA says it has made two requests to meet with Reggie Bush through his attorney and followed up with a written request, but didn't get a response. Bush contradicted this assertion while visiting a Southern California practice last week, saying that he had not been contacted and that if he had he would have hung up the phone. If Reggie Bush and his family continue to stonewall the NCAA like this, the organization has no other recourse but to go after USC as severely as possible and punish the institution for the actions of one of its players. This would include forfeiting games that he played in, even the national championship. If the NCAA does not act decisively here, it might as well forget about ever enforcing its rule against extra benefits.
April 14 – I used to tell young coaches that when you go to a football clinic or a seminar to try to bring back one thing that might help your program. Dont try to incorporate every little thing you learned, but if you can bring back just one new idea, one new technique or coaching point, it might mean the difference between winning and losing a football game.
I just got back from the Kansas State football coaches clinic, and although I was the keynote speaker, I have to say that I left having learned a few things about football myself. Head coach Ron Prince gave a talk on running the football and explained a great way of teaching the coordination of downfield running and run blocking. So often during a game a ball carrier breaks open downfield and the blockers who are out there in front of him don't know which way to block the defenders. They either get in the way or block the defender into the runner. Coach Prince showed us a simple rule he called The Slip and Dip that always put the runner and the blocker on the same page when taking on a downfield defender. Then he showed us video and statistics of how it actually improved the running game at K-State. Needless to say, I was on the phone at 5:30 this morning going over this with my old man (Florida State was 103rd nationally in rushing last year).
Andy Lowry, the head coach at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., also was a speaker at the clinic. He is an extraordinary motivator who had me ready to run through a brick wall at the end of his presentation. It is easy to see why his team won the 5A state championship in Colorado last season.
Speaking of great motivation, here is a nice health tip. I have been on a diet since Jan. 1 and lost 41 pounds (yes, Daniel Dahm, you read that right). Editor's note: Daniel Dahm is Terry's former radio co-host.
I have not followed any of the fad diets that are out there but instead just have gone back to the age-old method of eating fewer calories and getting more exercise. The one thing I have done that really has helped is buy a 12-pound bowling ball after every 12 pounds I lose. Every time I get the urge to break my diet, I pick up that bowling ball to remind myself just how heavy 12 pounds of fat is and how much of a strain that puts on my heart. Nothing curbs your appetite like staring at three bowling balls all day.
April 13 – I've always heard in the coaching business that you never want to be the guy who follows THE GUY. What you really want to be is the guy who follows the guy who follows THE GUY. That is, after an ultra-successful coach hangs it up, the next guy almost never lives up to the expectations left behind by that coach, so he fails. Then the next coach comes in under less strenuous conditions and gets everything back on track. Well, I'm out in Manhattan, Kan., speaking at the Kansas State football clinic, and it's pretty clear the Wildcats have found an energetic young head coach who debunks that so-called theory.
Ron Prince, who came to KSU as the second-youngest head coach as well as one of only five African Americans (in the Bowl Subdivision, or Division I-A), had the dubious task of following legendary coach Bill Snyder, who is not only the winningest head coach in school history but also the man whose name is on the stadium. In 2006, his first year at the helm, Prince became the only new head coach in the country who led a team that had not been to a bowl the previous year to a winning record. In doing so, the Wildcats also stunned defending national champion Texas and appeared in the inaugural Texas Bowl on the way to a surprising 7-6 season. In doing so, I guess Prince now becomes THE GUY who follows THE GUY.
April 10 – An interesting look at the NCAA stats … How many times have you heard the saying that penalties will get you beat? The truth of the matter is that a lack of penalties will get you beat even quicker. Of the top 10 teams in college football last season in least yards penalized, six of them had losing records. With that list including such teams as Northwestern, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Navy, Air Force, and Stanford, it looks like the lack of penalties points more toward how smart you are than how good you are. Incidentally, the national champion Florida Gators finished the season ranked 109th out of 119 schools in least yards penalized and only one team in the final top 10 made it into the top 35 least-penalized teams. …
Whats the difference between a fan and a fanatic? If we were to use the Ohio State Buckeyes as an example, a fan would be someone who nicknames his son, Buck. A fanatic is someone who names his son, Tressel Hayes. The problem is that this is not a hypothetical. It seems that Buckeye fan…atic, Brent Huffines, last week named his newborn son after OSU coaches Jim Tressel and Woody Hayes. However, if you think this sounds a little strange, you better think again. There have been six boys named Tressel in Ohio since 2003. Incidentally, what is the least favorite name in Ohio this year? Urban, of course.
April 9 – Did you know that St. John's (Minn.) head coach John Gagliardi, the winningest coach in college football history, has a unique style of coaching football called "Winning with Nos." That is: No calling him coach. No calisthenics. No tackling during practice. No whistles. If it weren't for those 443 wins, I'd say "no way." …
Speaking of the winningest coach in college football, most people know that Joe Paterno, age 80, and Bobby Bowden, age 77, are the winningest coaches in Division I-A history. Currently, my old man is three games ahead of Joe Pa, with 366 career wins. With both of these guys having spent 41 years as head coaches, many people think that there is just too much pressure in today's game for anyone to last long enough to challenge that record.
Well, not so fast, my friend. At 54, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel already has 197 victories. He has averaged a little more than 10 wins per season at Ohio State, and if he can maintain that pace, and if he coaches until age 75, he will have 407 total victories (the ones at I-AA Youngstown State count, just like Bobby Bowden's wins at Samford). …
After winning its third national championship in the last year, it looks like I finally get to say something critical about the Florida Gators. Last week, not one but two football players were arrested by local authorities in Gainesville. First, projected starting linebacker Dustin Doe was arrested for fighting in public, a misdemeanor. Then offensive lineman Ronnie Matthews was jailed and charged with a felony for firing a semiautomatic rifle in a dispute at a local nightclub.
April 6 – Here's an update on the states with the most Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) football recruits. I reported earlier that 1) Texas, 2) California and 3) Florida are the top three states for Bowl Subdivision football recruits. Of course, those also are three of the four most populous states (New York ranks third). Reader Paul Otto was kind enough to email me that, based on his calculations, the three states with the most recruits per capita are 1) Mississippi, 2) Louisiana and 3) Alabama – no wonder the SEC does so well in recruiting.
Dawg days – All indications are that Washington head coach Ty Willingham will go with redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker when the season opens against Syracuse. Although spring practice has not begun, Willingham said Thursday that Locker would get the nod even if Carl Bonnell recovers from his shoulder surgery. Bonnell took over in the seventh game last year after starter Isaiah Stanback was lost to injuries. The Huskies lost six of their last seven under Bonnell. As much as the Washington fans love their home-grown All-American recruit, I have a hard time projecting a winning season with a quarterback who never has taken a college snap.
College Football Playoff Central – I don't want to get all our Big Ten and Pac-10 readers in a hussy, but many people think it will be those two conferences that ultimately will come between college football and a playoff system. Florida president Bernie Machen, who is spearheading the drive to persuade college presidents to consider a playoff, believes the only real problem will be the Big Ten and the Pac-10 because "they like their sweetheart deal with the Rose Bowl." Maybe fans can visit www.boycotttherosebowl.com, a site that reader David Barnes of Dallas emailed to me.
April 3 – Just as they did in the college football national championship game back in January, the Gators just looked too athletic for the Buckeyes on the basketball court Monday. Florida's basketball team wasn't just as good as advertised, it was better. I don't normally comment a lot about basketball, but when I see a team that is this complete I just have to take notice. Now, with three national championships in a year's time, maybe I won't have to talk or write about the Gators again for a while.
The times, they are a' changin': It used to be that when a college athletic program was accused of breaking NCAA rules, it would hang its head in shame, quietly accept the findings, and promise never to do it again – in hopes of a more lenient punishment. This definitely doesn't seem to be the case anymore … just ask Oklahoma.
OU "strongly disagrees" with the NCAA's allegations that the university failed to adequately monitor the employment of its athletes at a Norman car dealership. The association alleges that the athletic department violated its own guidelines by failing to collect earning statements from 12 football players.
The university has gone on the offensive, with Oklahoma president David Boren quoted as saying, We met, if not exceeded, industry standards," "There was absolutely nothing else we could have done to detect it," "We should be applauded, not penalized by the NCAA," "These unnecessary and unfitting charges … and "The University of Oklahoma stands for principle, and all of the actions we took in this matter illustrate that character." "Strongly disagree" is an understatement.
For two groups (the NCAA and universities) that are supposed to be working together for the same cause, it sure sounds like an adversarial relationship to me. I guess we'll find out who is right at the NCAA hearing in Indianapolis on April 14.
April 2 – I forgot to mention that I drove up to Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend to speak to the students at the Florida State University School of Law (I am an '82 graduate), and I managed to take in the Seminole football scrimmage Saturday. I talked my brother Jeff into going with me to the scrimmage, and I have to admit it was a little strange standing on the field next to my brother, the former offensive coordinator at FSU, and watching Jimbo Fisher, the man who replaced him, leading the offense for my father, Bobby, who is the head coach of the whole thing.
When I first became a head football coach at Salem College in 1983, Fisher was the first quarterback I ever recruited and he became a great player and coach for me at Salem College, Samford and then Auburn. Jeff, by the way, was Jimbo's first offensive coordinator. Anyway, we both agreed that the offense looked much improved in only the second week of spring ball.
April 1 – Did you see which states had the most scholarship football players signed this year by Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) schools? Texas was No. 1 with 374, California was second with 332 and Florida was third with 313. The next closest was the state of Ohio with 157 – barely half of Florida's total. Is it just a coincidence that the last three national champions are Florida, Texas and Southern California? I think not.
Federal authorities recently charged a Toledo player in connection with a point-shaving scheme. Apparently, Harvey "Scooter" McDougle helped a man identified only as "Gary" try to influence other athletes into improperly affecting the outcome of a game. The payoff was said to be cash, merchandise, groceries, and other various gifts. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 20 … As a former head football coach at a major university, I always felt that this situation was just a disaster waiting to happen. A poor college athlete gets behind on his Internet gambling debt and gets talked/coerced into fumbling a punt or dropping a touchdown pass. You can imagine the possibilities.
With so many great football players coming back, it's going to be awful hard for anyone not to pick Southern California as the preseason No. 1.
March 30 – The NCAA is being hit with a class-action lawsuit scheduled to go on trial in June that represents all football players and men's basketball players in major programs (nearly every Bowl Subdivision, or Division I-A, school), and it just might cost the NCAA a huge chunk of change.
The athletes are suing for the inclusion of such incidentals within the athletic scholarship as school supplies, laundry money, travel, and health and disability insurance. At about $2,500 per student per year, it could total about $350 million, which the NCAA lawyers insist the sanctioning body can't afford to pay.
I don't know exactly what the NCAA can or cannot afford, but in this case it should be as much as possible as long as it doesn't break the bank. Colleges can't pay the coaches million-dollar salaries and then say they can't pay the student-athletes for reasonable cost-of-living requirements. It's still supposed to be about the student-athlete. …
You had better get used to it: If Florida wins a second NCAA men's basketball title to go along with its current football title, the school will reach a level of success unparalleled in NCAA history. With the best teams in the two most important college sports, two of the best young coaches in America, annual revenues of $82.4 million, one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the country and a president and athletic director that clearly are committed to winning championships in every varsity sport, the Gators are not going away any time soon.