Tag:Arizona State
Posted on: February 16, 2012 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:08 am
 

A sad goodbye to Karl Benson & perhaps WAC

The enduring image of Karl Benson will be his practically skipping through the University of Phoenix Stadium press box on Jan. 1, 2007.

Boise State had just shocked Oklahoma, college football and the world. The commissioner of the Broncos’ league was along for the ride. Karl Benson, a former Boise State shortstop, had just seen the gosh-darndest thing in his life. Along with the rest of us.

He was proud that his lowly-but-proud Western Athletic Conference had taken advantage of the BCS rules to – put in terms of the conference’s marketing slogan – Play Up. Yes, the loosening of BCS bowl access rules in 2006 contributed to Boise’s rise. But it took the team’s performance on the field to convince the world that college football wasn’t the exclusive domain of the Big Six conferences.

WAC member Hawaii went to the Sugar Bowl a year later but the new wave punk band that was the WAC slowly broke up over the years. Boise State skipped from the Mountain West to the Big East. Others followed.

The plucky little conference that couldn’t be killed was on its death bed Thursday with the news that Benson had become the new Sun Belt commissioner. On the surface, Benson is trading a job at the 10th-rated conference in FBS to one rated 11th(and last in the division).

In reality, it is the latest shift of conference realignment tectonic plates. The 50-year old WAC that Benson leaves behind be damaged beyond recognition.  It was formed in 1962 in order to grab an NCAA tournament automatic bid – there were only 24 at the time. The Original Six included Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.  The current seven-team league (in football) could be absorbed like rain into the soil by some combination of Benson’s new conference and the emerging Big Country (Conference USA/Mountain West conglomeration).

It really depends on the intentions of the Big Country. 

Benson, 60, fought the good fight out West with dignity. Now it’s time to keep the Sun Belt alive and kicking. Time after time on the conference call announcing his hiring, Benson was not shy about saying he wanted the 10-member Sun Belt (in football) to grow to 12. At least. It doesn’t take too much to figure out where those two (or more) teams are going to come from.

As mentioned, in 2012 the WAC is down to seven teams, one above the NCAA minimum. The teams that emerged from that conference to gain BCS bowls under Benson’s watch – Boise State and Hawaii – are long gone. Just a guess but look for the Sun Belt to go after WAC member Louisiana Tech – if the Big Country doesn’t get to Ruston first. The New Orleans-based Sun Belt already has members at Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe.

“There are schools in the [Louisiana] footprint that would make sense,” Benson said.   

Other possibilities: Any combination of Appalachian State, Georgia State, Jacksonville State and Liberty. All four are moving up or in the process of moving up to FBS.  

Benson has literally held the WAC together by force of personality. First, reorganizing after half the then-16 team league left in 1999 to form the Mountain West. (He got the news lying down on the couch at home after eye surgery.) Then with the departure of Boise State (Mountain West, then Big East) as well as Fresno, Hawaii, Nevada (Mountain West) Benson hustled within the last year to add Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. The next FBS game those two schools play will be their first.

The pity is if in the end Benson was somehow forced out of the WAC. The conference owes its current existence to him. With the Sun Belt’s Wright Waters stepping down, the lowest-ranked FBS league is about to experience a rebirth. The so-called Group of Five non-BCS conferences (WAC, MAC, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt) could to shrink to three.

In a way it consolidates Big Six conferences’ power. The apparent end of BCS automatic qualifying conferences in 2014 means that access to the game’s biggest bowls becomes more important for the “non-AQs” that Benson helped make famous.

“I often asked who is the next Boise State?” he said. “With my Sun Belt hat on, why not someone from the Sun Belt?”

 

WAC football membership in 2012

Idaho 
Louisiana Tech
New Mexico State
San Jose State
Texas State
Utah State


Sun Belt football membership in 2012

Arkansas State
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Middle Tennessee
North Texas
South Alabama
Troy
Western Kentucky


Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:17 pm
 

Wisconsin's Alvarez endorses Plus One

Calling out the SEC is all the rage in the Big Ten at the moment.

I wrote Thursday that one of the Big Ten’s intents in supporting a Plus One was to get the SEC to come up North to play national semifinals. Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez put it in writing in the latest issue of “Varsity”, Wisconsin’s official online magazine.

In his “Behind The Desk” column, Alvarez wrote, “ … I applaud the Big Ten and commissioner Jim Delany for advancing the discussion.” He called national semifinals played on campus sites, “ … one way of leveling the playing field a little bit.

“I’ve felt that SEC teams have had an advantage because of the number of bowls that have been played in their backyard. What would they think about leaving the South and playing in the Midwest?”

It’s an open-ended question but Alvarez goes on to say the Rose Bowl and regular season must be preserved. He uses the example of Duke’s loss to Miami this week having little impact on the big tournament picture.  Football is a different animal (badger, actually).

“I’m definitely intrigued by the proposal to seed four teams and play two semifinal games on campus sites,” Alvarez wrote.

The fact that administrators are coming out of the woodwork to support Plus One has to tell you something is going to happen. I’m still not sure it will go as far as a playoff. Arizona State president Michael Crow probably put forth the most radical proposal yet. -- an eight-team playoff.

It is interesting to note that in Crow’s playoff, only conference champions would be eligible. That would mean no Alabama in 2011. That also might require a phone call to Pasadena. Where would the Rose Bowl in an eight-team playoff?

Posted on: December 19, 2011 12:05 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 9:39 am
 

Koetter emerges at Hawaii

Jacksonville Jaquars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has emerged as a strong leading candidate at Hawaii, according to a source.

Koetter came from a reported group of 30 applicants for the job left vacant when Greg McMackin retired on Dec. 5. The 52-year-old Koetter has nine years head coaching experience at Boise State and Arizona State and 22 years of college experience overall. He was most successful at Boise where he led the Broncos to a pair of 10-win seasons from 1998-2000. At Arizona State, he preceded Dennis Erickson going 40-34 from 2001-2006.

His 66-44 career mark in college includes a 4-2 bowl record. For the past five seasons he has coordinated the Jags’ offense. From 2007-20010 Jacksonville’s offense ranked 13th in the NFL according to the team's website. In 2007, the Jags set a franchise record averaging 25.7 points. This year Jacksonville, 4-10, is last in the NFL in total yards.

In 2005, Arizona State finished second in total offense nationally under Koetter. He was fired at ASU in late November 2006.

Koetter was once known as a bright, young, up-and-coming offensive mind. Starting as offensive coordinator with San Francisco State in 1985, he moved up the ladder as OC with Texas-El Paso, Missouri, Boston College and Oregon before getting the Boise head coaching job in 1998.  

 

 

 

Posted on: December 14, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Hypocrite Week during coaching silly season

The clear losers today in the coaching carousel are SMU and Arizona State. That’s two schools with coaches under contract.

That’s part of the problem.

The SMU administration already has taken back June Jones who dumped his employer of four years and had all but left for Arizona State last week. The ASU administration apparently learned nothing. It “quickly” went out – well, six days – and hired Todd Graham from Pittsburgh.  

The story is not that Graham stayed exactly 337 days with the Panthers. It's not that Arizona State took 17 days in a sun-splashed desert paradise to find a replacement for Dennis Erickson. 

It’s that either of these schools are actually honoring signed contracts. The guys they currently employ haven't. Graham has made the word “vagabond” seem like permanent employment over the course of his career. Carpetbaggers think he is disloyal.

Meanwhile, Jones has told SMU through his actions that he doesn’t want to be there. He knows that. The school knows that. Yet it has taken him back.

At some point, administrators are going to start treating coaches like free-lance workers. There will be no-compete clauses where coaches can’t talk to a potential employer. Their salaries will be end-of-the year retention bonuses. If a coach leaves within three years he owes a buyout: You name it, $2 million, $5 million, $10 million. It’s already been done.

Yes, coaches are not loyal. You’ll be reading a lot of that over the next several days. It has turned into an offseason angle du juor. But what about the schools? A week after the season ended, Texas A&M Bill Byrne was forced to fire Mike Sherman. The school president and a booster wanted change. They eventually got their man in Houston’s Kevin Sumlin.

That’s why coaches have buyouts too.

Shame on administrations, though, for repeating their mistakes. It’s often cited that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. What, then, about either school’s conduct tells anyone that they have changed?

Pittsburgh is Graham’s second school where he spent one season before bolting to the next best thing. Except in this case, going to Arizona State is a lateral move. At best. ASU traded a 6-6 coach (Erickson) for a 6-6 coach (Graham). The difference in the two jobs is the weather. Both Pittsburgh and Arizona State have been a chronic underachievers for years.

At least in Tempe, it’s a dry mediocrity.

If I’m an SMU player I have a hard time playing for Jones at this point. A coach who asked his athletes for dedication and loyalty has shown none. Even worse, Jones came back after swinging and missing at another job. Still worse, the school took him back.

I recommend you start following Pittsburgh receiver Devin Street on Twitter (@D_Street_15) for a street-level view.

Sample: I'm literally sick.. That man [Graham] pulled me in his office one on one and lied to me.

The poor players are caught in the crossfire. The Todd Grahams of the world have absolutely no remorse when they reportedly inform players of their departure by text. If the technology had been available when Dennis Franchione left Alabama he still wouldn’t have used it.

Simple human decency clauses need to be inserted in some of these contracts.

And the vicious circle continues. Wednesday’s magic number was 4: That’s the number of jobs Charlie Weis has held since December 2009. Also, the number of coaches Pittsburgh will have since December 2010 when it gets around to replacing Graham.

This is lovely karma for those who despise the actions of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg. His name has been cussed in Big East circles for three months now. After once pledging loyalty to the Big East, Nordenberg led a surreptitious move to the ACC in September.

What comes around, Markie Mark.

As Hypocrite Week continued, someone tweeted these words an Arizona State administrator as Graham was introduced: "What we sought in a football coach was someone who would be in it for the long term at Arizona State"

And no one laughed. 

Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Weis to Kansas? Can't see it

Charlie Weis’ name has been mentioned for the Kansas job, which is interesting.

The man is highly thought of in the area. He made Matt Cassel an All-Pro in his one year with the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City won the AFC West and led the NFL in rushing with Weis as offensive coordinator. Weis was also determined to leave the area after one season because he and his wife had enough because of disturbing incidents involving their daughter.

Weis made the move to Florida to be with his son Charlie Jr. and to provide a better setting for that special needs daughter, Hannah. I don’t think he comes back to Kansas to be a head coach. Kansas has less of an infrastructure than Notre Dame and Weis went to two BCS bowls with the Irish.

I might be totally wrong. Kansas may have spoken extensively with Weis. Maybe he wants to get back into college head coaching in the worst way. He would be that sexy hire and get KU football back on the map. It’s hard to remember but the Jayhawks were national championship contenders in 2007.

Florida took a downturn in 2011 with Weis as offensive coordinator but that’s all it was – a downturn. And don’t forget the growing possibility that Urban Meyer didn’t exactly leave the cupboard stocked.

As of now, Weis isn’t going anywhere because his focus remains where it should be – his family.

Meanwhile, as of now …

Arizona State: With June Jones apparently out of the picture, the Sun Devils are reportedly turning their attention to Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, Oregon offensive coordinator Jim Helfrich and 49ers assistant Jim Leavitt. Still can’t understand why Sumlin was out of the mix early. Said it was his dream job.

UCLA: An LA Times report says the Bruins are centering on Jim Mora Jr. 

Illinois: The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Illini like Toledo’s Tim Beckman.

Kansas: Completely silent. The Kansas City Star lists 11 candidates.

 

Posted on: November 28, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 3:30 pm
 

Coaches' realignment in Pac-12

At this rate, Washington State's head of football operations will be the dean of Pac-12 coaches.

Just kidding, a little.

Black Sunday turned into Black Monday when two more Pac-12 coaches were reportedly fired. UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel and Arizona State’s Dennis Erickson are done. That brings the total number of conference coaches to depart in the last year to five. (Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Stanford)

This isn’t a changing of a guard, it’s a purge. It’s almost as if someone decided that with the conference about to launch it’s own network, it needed a new “look”.

Out: Erickson at Arizona State. In: Mike Bellotti?

Out: Dan Hawkins in 2010 at Colorado. In: Jon Embree

Out: Mike Stoops at Arizona. In: Rich Rodriguez.

Out: Jim Harbaugh, from Stanford to the 49ers. In: David Shaw.

Out: Neuheisel four days before the Pac-12 title game. In: ?

Next out: Paul Wulff at Washington State. Next in: Mike Leach?

Half the league has changed or is in the process of changing coaches, which led a lot of us to check our media guides. Who exactly IS the dean of Pac-12 coaches at this point? With apologies to the Wazzu ops guys, that would be Oregon State’s Mike Riley who just completed his 11<sup>th</sup> season in his second head coaching stop at the school. Cal’s Jeff Tedford is next at 10 years. Utah’s Kyle Whittingham is third who just completed his seventh season. (But only his first in the conference.)

Neuheisel might be the first fired coach to participate in a conference championship game conference call. Give Slick Rick credit for manning up. His team is in the game only because USC is ineligible. The Bruins are prohibitive underdogs to Oregon a week after losing to the Trojans 50-0. Among the highlights from Monday:

On giving thought to even appearing on the conference call: “We all know what we’re getting into when we get into the profession … I’m just thankful for the opportunity to help bring it back to a place where I would be proud. [Positive things happened] they don’t always make it to the front pages of the newspaper. There was a lot of effort, good work done when I was here. It won’t be a bitter memory at all.”

On leaving: “Certainly when you’re the UCLA coach you’d like to play better against USC. When you lose in the fashion that we did, that’s a difficult pill to swallow.”

On the future:  “This has kind of hit me between the eyes a little bit. We’ll  make any decision about which course to take [in the future]. I love coaching, I know that. I’d have to take some time to figure all that out.  

On Friday’s championship game: “I hope like heck I’m not a distraction.”

This is a spectacular fall from grace for a favorite-son alum. At least another fall from grace. Don’t forget he left Washington after the NCAA tournament pool scandal that eventually led to him suing the NCAA – and winning.

Arizona State and UCLA are arguably the two best jobs in the league after USC. I’ve always wondered why 85 spectacularly talented kids wouldn’t want scholarships at Arizona State. The new coach will inherit a senior quarterback (Brock Osweiler), a good place to start in the Pac-12. Sun Devil Stadium is being remodeled.

UCLA should never be this far down. Big city. Access to big-time recruits. Rose Bowl. I’ve said it before but Neuheisel’s biggest mistake was that UCLA became boring. In L.A., the one thing you cannot be is boring. 

Posted on: November 19, 2011 7:43 pm
 

Bellotti's name surfaces at Arizona

EUGENE, Ore. – Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti’s name has surfaced in the Arizona search.

TucsonCitizen.com reported Friday that “things could move very quickly” between the school and the 60-year-old now analyst for ESPN.  It has long been known that Bellotti wanted to get back into coaching at some point. He stepped down here after 14 seasons in 2009.

“Mike wants to get back into coaching,” one source close to Bellotti told CBSSports.com on Saturday. “Mike’s anxious.”

Arizona was the first major job to open up this season after Mike Stoops was fired Oct. 10. Arizona AD Greg Byrne already has one major hire on his resume. He was responsible for bringing Dan Mullen to Mississippi State while AD at that school.

Bellotti may have his pick of jobs in the Pac-12 if Arizona State and/or UCLA open up as well. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:54 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Starting with leftovers from the Friday Charlie Weis interview.

Florida's offensive coordinator takes on Alabama Saturday in his biggest college game since leaving Notre Dame in 2009. The knee he had replaced in June is no longer an issue. I began by asking him if walking around pain-free makes a difference in his job. 

"Absolutely no effect," he said.

All righty, then. Moving on. 

Question: You've coached at the highest level. Is the SEC, in some ways, like the NFL because it is a line-of-scrimmage league?

Weis: "It's not just a line-of-scrimmage league, it's how much speed there is. There's fast guys all over the place. That's a big testament to the conference. It's not just the linebackers and defensive backs. There's a bunch of athletic lineman running around too. You have to be on guard just to give yourself the best chance."

Question: When Urban Meyer came into the league one of the first things he realized is he had to have a fullback out there. Was there any surprise about coming into this league?

Weis: "I just came from the NFL so you're used to guys who can run real fast. You see it on a weekly basis. Now especially as we're getting ready for Alabama, I look at these guys on tape. This is what you're used to playing against."

Question: Have you snuck a look at the Chiefs this season?

Weis: "I know what's happened right there. We don't have time to watch any of their games or anything. Sunday is a very busy day for us."

Question: How is your son? (The reason Weis came to Florida was because he could be with his son Charlie Jr.)

Weis: "He's an intern for the head coach. I got him away from me, so he isn't like daddy's little tag along. That's worked out very nicely.

Question: What does he do for Will Muschamp?

Weis: "He's kind of the offensive liaison. He keeps Will [Muschamp] abreast of everything we do on offense. Will is always completely up to date with everything we do on offense. He brings him our daily grades and personnel. It's been a nice role for him."


Jordan Jefferson is back:
Now that LSU's quarterback has been reinstated, could it be that in a convoluted way, that bar fight might be one of the best things that happens to LSU?

Jarrett Lee (this week vs. Kentucky) probably never would have gotten the reps, or the starting job, had Jefferson never been suspended. Now, the Tigers essentially have two starting quarterbacks. If Lee slumps or loses the job, Jefferson is in the wings. Les Miles is already saying Jefferson will play in every game as a super-backup.

WWL would never advocate violence but in a weird way, this episode has worked out in LSU's favor. Jefferson is expected to see action against the Wildcats.


The gift that keeps on giving: The NCAA's top five passers this week all have ties to Mike Leach:

Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, Houston's Case Keenum, West Virginia's Geno Smith, Arizona's Nick Foles and Oklahoma's Landry Jones.

Weeden, Keenum and Smith are or were coached by Dana Holgorsen, Leach's offensive coordinator at Texas Tech from 2000-2007. Holgorsen has since coached at Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

Foles' offensive coordinator at Arizona, Seth Littrell, played at Oklahoma under Leach. Littrell was also Leach's running backs coach at Texas Tech. Prior to Litrell, Sonny Dykes was Foles' offensive coordinator at Arizona, before going to Louisiana Tech as head coach. Dykes coached with Leach at Kentucky and Texas Tech.

Connection to Jones: Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinator is Josh Heupel who was coached by Leach in 1999 as OU's OC.


This gets a WWL mention because we are a quarter of the way through the season and, well, it matters:
 Temple is No. 1 in scoring defense. The Fighting Addazios (3-1, hosting Toledo) have given up four total touchdowns playing an FCS (Villanova), a conference rival (Akron) and two BCS programs (Penn State and Maryland).


This week's Power Poll
1. LSU
2. Oklahoma
3. Boise State
4. Alabama
5. Wisconsin
6. Virginia Tech
7. Oklahoma State
8. Stanford
9. Nebraska
10. Oregon
11. South Carolina
12. Texas A&M
13. Clemson
14. Baylor
15. Florida
16. Georgia Tech
17. Michigan
18. Kansas State
19. Illinois
20. Michigan State
21. TCU
22. Arkansas
23. West Virginia
24. Arizona State
25. Ohio State



Piling on: George Barlow makes his head coaching debut for crippled, battered, embarrassed New Mexico. The Lobos, 2-26 under Mike Locksley, try to salvage some pride in a rivalry game against New Mexico State. Barlow was New Mexico's defensive coordinator before Locksley was fired on Sunday. That defense is 116th nationally having allowed 24 touchdowns, the most in the country ... Look who is the No. 1 running back in the country. After a slow start against LSU, Oregon's LaMichael James has 613 yards. James is coming off a school-record 288 yards against Arizona. The Ducks play Cal on Thursday ... We'll see how that K-State defense defends its manhood after defending the goal line last week against Miami. Baylor's Robert Griffin threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns last season against K-State in a 47-42 win ... Half of the Big 12 (actually five of 10 teams) are ranked No. 17 or higher in the coaches' poll ... Joe Paterno coaches his 700th game this week as a part of the Penn State staff (at Indiana) ... If South Carolina's Stephen Garcia doesn't get it going this week against Auburn he never will. Steve Spurrier's much-cussed quarterback is ranked second-worst among the 100 quarterbacks rated by the NCAA. Auburn's secondary has allowed opponents to complete almost 68 percent of passes ... LSU is No. 1 for the first time since November 2007.
 
 
 
 
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