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Clemson: "We're the total package"
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Photos: Washington's new unis
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D-II version of "Evolution of Dance"


North Dakota State has made a film about the building of its dynasty

There was a time when North Dakota State was not the FCS version of mid-90's Nebraska. In fact, there was a time when the North Dakota State looked at moving to FCS with trepidation. That time was only a decade ago.

After claiming eight national titles and 26 conference championships, the Bison decided to leave Division II for FCS, then known as Division I-AA. At the time, the migration from Division II to Division I was not the sure thing it appeared to be. The road was littered with the corpses of programs that had attempted the move before. 

The school made the decision to move in August of 2002, and completed in time for the 2004 season. The Bison acquitted themselves well in the Great West Conference, posting a 35-9 record with one conference championship in their four seasons in the league. North Dakota State moved to the Missouri Valley in 2008, and immediately fell flat on their face, going 6-5 in 2008 and 3-8 in 2009.

You know what happened next.

The Bison reached the FCS Quarterfinals in 2010, and then claimed the next three FCS national titles and going 43-2 in the process.

And now the school has commemorated its rise with "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions". It goes on sale April 24, the day before the Bison's spring game. We'll let you know if a full version surfaces online. 




Mississippi State has some new commemorative unis

Mississippi State started off the week by hyping up their new uniforms with multiple teasers via Twitter.

However, before the University released anything official, a reporter leaked the first photos of the new uniforms yesterday. But only die-hard Bulldog fans (or uniform nuts) will notice the differences between these (which celebrate the 100 year history of Scott Field) and the uniforms that they wore last year.

Now we get to take a look at the real deal.

Hardcore Mississippi State fans will notice a few subtle changes, most notably the "Hail State" across the chest (which the University has also used in the form of hashtags in the endzones), and the stripes on the shoulders.  The team will wear these on September 30th. 




Les did it, Gary Patterson is doing it, will Bielema do it?

Fox Sports released an interesting article this morning on TCU's offensive overhaul. In the piece, Gary Patterson opens up about why he felt some changes to his offensive philosophy were needed, and it started with recruiting.

"I saw too many good players leave the state because they considered us a running team and play action." Patterson told Fox Sports Southwest.

Essentially, Patterson observed that players were giving TCU the cold shoulder to play in up tempo offenses at places like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas Tech, or West Virginia. Patterson decided enough was enough, and hired Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meachum to bring his fast paced offensive approach to help him stop the exodus of Texas' top play makers to outside programs.

While the main focus was bringing in a more potent offensive attack, Patterson explains there has been an interesting byproduct of the new approach this spring. To quote the article, "Patterson figures practicing at that speed will better prepare his defense to face offenses that operate at similar tempos."

That will prove to be very beneficial in the Big 12. Looking at their schedule, after their first two games against Samford and Minnesota, TCU faces six straight teams with an up tempo offensive approach (SMU, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and West Virginia).

That got us to thinking, who else out there has a rough stretch when it comes to facing no huddle teams? You know where this is going, don't you...

Four of Arkansas' first five games are wicked. The Razorbacks open with Auburn, and then two weeks later face Texas Tech, Northern Illinois, and Texas A&M in consecutive weekends before eventually wrapping up the season with Ole Miss and Missouri back to back.

A front loaded schedule like that will certainly challenge the Razorbacks' stamina. I recall a few years ago when LSU opened up against Chip Kelly's Oregon team at JerryWorld. To prepare for the tempo Oregon played at, Les had two offensive scout teams run back to back...no breaks for the LSU defense as they tried to prepare for Oregon's attack. You might recall the result...a game in which LSU's defense stoned Oregon all night and Les' group won rather easily. After the game I recall LSU's defenders praising the fact that they faced tempo from the scout teams all through spring and August practice. Given his very public statements against unrelenting tempo, it will be interesting to see how hard Bret Bielema pushes his scout offense to simulate actual game speed that his defense will face in these early games. 




Rutgers hires new senior director of digital media

In February, Rutgers athletics director Julie Hermann told a class of Rutgers journalism students "it would be great" if the Newark Star-Ledger went under. The paper recently had to lay off 167 (mostly underpaid) employees. When the comments came to light last week, Hermann was rightly taken to task by both the New Jersey and national media.

Today, Rutgers announced the hiring of a new senior director of digital media... and it's Tom Luicci, a longtime Rutgers beat writer from the Newark Star-Ledger.

Luicci started writing in 1974, and worked for the Star-Ledger from 1979 until leaving the paper one week ago. 

Seemingly every major college athletics program these days has a senior director of digital media. It's become a necessary position to employ as more and more Americans spend life with their mobile device glued to their eyeballs. But most, if not all, of them are nothing like Liucci. 

For starters, most have only seen a typewriter in museums. Liucci owns one. 

The typical digital media director is skilled in storytelling through video, photos, graphics and other creative web functions, and toggles between social media platforms with ease. Luicci's battle with today's technology has been a running joke on his Twitter feed for years.

This isn't meant to be a slight on Luicci. He's a talented and incredibly accomplished writer, much more so than I'll ever be, but he seems to be a curious match to lead the online efforts for a Power Five athletics program headstrong in an ongoing attempt to capture the nation's largest media market. 

It's just the latest head-scratching move for an athletics director that's made a habit of them. 




Dan Mullen crashes a frat party

 

Programs everywhere are getting creative to draw more fans to their spring game. Dan Mullen is the latest promoter, and he's offering to do dinner with the Mississippi State fraternity that comes to the Spring Game with the "most presence and spirit" on Saturday.

Well, the more we think about it, maybe a sorority will win and Dan will be doing dinner with the ladies instead.




A trailer every high school coach should see: 'Rise Up, West'

Almost a year ago to this day, West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, erupted in an ammonium nitrate explosion that ultimately claimed the lives of 15 people. The town's rebuilding effort began at the 50-yard line of the West High School football field - literally and figuratively. It's that recovery that inspired "Rise Up, West", a 60-minute documentary produced by Dallas-based TV station WFAA. 

In the moments following the explosion, the Trojans' field served as a triage staging area for the wounded. By fall, it was the Trojans' football season that pulled the town back together and returned a sense of normalcy to the people of West. The Trojans went 1-9 on the season, but they were unequivocally the most successful 1-9 team in America.

The film centers on head coach David Woodard, who urged his team to move forward one play, one series and one day at a time, and then did the same in his personal life as he went home to a rental property shared with his in-laws. 

The film debuts Saturday night at 6 p.m. CT and, unfortunately, the film is only available to those in the Dallas area at this time. We'll update this page if the station makes the entire film available online.




This advice will help every player you have that's currently in a position battle

The spring and early fall is a time when depth charts start to sort themselves out for staffs everywhere, and for players it's a grueling period of proving that you belong on the top of those depth charts.

At Michigan State, longtime sports psychologist Lonny Rosen recently lent his ear to backup quarterback Tyler O'Connor and provided him with some advice that completely changed the way he looked at his spring position battle. The lesson is one that your players would definitely benefit from.

O'Connor told the Detroit Free Press that he grabbed an open session with Rosen to ask how he should approach the quarterback competition between him, starter Connor Cook, and Damion Terry (who is battling with O'Connor for the #2 spot). Rosen's response? There's no such thing as a competition between the three of them.

"He opened my eyes. It’s not a competition between the quarterbacks. It’s a competition between each quarterback and the defense." O'Connor explained

"I can’t handle with Connor does. I can’t handle what Damion does. I’m going out and I’m not trying to be better than them. I’m trying to go out and do what my skills allow me to do.”

That change in his thought process has completely transformed his thinking. Now, after watching a good play from one of the other quarterbacks instead of thinking, "I have to go out there and top that" and putting an enormous amount of pressure on himself, he now understands that the position battle is a process and that it's a culmination of his entire body of work against the defense, not the other guys in his position group.

How many players on your roster would benefit from that kind of change in approach when it comes to position battles?




Mic'd up with Texas running backs coach Tommie Robinson

If you're shooting a football movie and looking for a prototypical football coach, here's a suggestion that you consider Texas running backs coach Tommie Robinson. In a nearly three-decade career that has taken him to Troy, Arkansas, TCU, the Dallas Cowboys, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Miami, the Arizona Cardinals and USC, Robinson joined Charlie Strong's staff in Austin this January.