Mark Stoops now has his own Bourbon Whiskey
Mark Stoops brought a groundswell of new energy to Kentucky football. Off the field you can see it in recruiting results, the upgrades to the facilities and just in the general swagger of the program. On the field, Stoops plans to demonstrate results in terms of increased wins this season. People across the state are excited about the future of Big Blue on the gridiron.
In another example of the rise in popularity of the football program, on Tuesday Maker's Mark unveiled it's latest commemorative bourbon bottle featuring Stoops. 10,000 limited edition bottles will be sold at $52 per. Proceeds will benefit UK's Gill Heart Institute. Maker's Mark has partnered with Keeneland since 1997 for 18 commemorative bottles raising over $7 million for various Central Kentucky charities.
I’m honored to be on this year’s bottle and humbled to be chosen by Maker’s and Keeneland, two iconic Kentucky brands pic.twitter.com/ODQNsN1KBu— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) April 2, 2014
The 2009 bottle featured Rich Brooks and the 2010 bottle featured John Calipari.
We are operating under the assumption that Coach Stoops will be so generous to send at least a few bottles to the operators of his favorite website...thanks in advance Coach.
What's the youngest age possible to become an FBS head coach? We have an idea
Minds were blown across the college sports landscape Tuesday when Louisiana Tech announced Tyler Summitt as its new women's basketball coach. Summitt is the son of ultra-legendary Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt. He is 23 years old.
We're sure Summitt will do a great job. He served as an assistant at Marquette for two years, worked under Cuonzo Martin and Bruce Pearl with the Volunteers' men's team while a student at Tennessee, and, obviously, learned the game under one of the best coaches in the history of women's basketball.
Still, 23 is just unfathomably young.
It got us wondering, what's the youngest possible age one could obtain an FBS head coaching job? Is there a set of circumstances that would lead a school to hire a coach in his mid-20's?
We think so. Granted, we'll have to take several broad jumps from reality, but we'll get there.
Andrew Luck is 24 years old. He won't turn 25 until September 12. Let's say Luck suffers a horrific shoulder injury in off-season workouts (trust us, we're knocking an entire national forest's worth of wood here), something not even Dr. James Andrews can fix. His career instantly and tragically finished, Luck decides he wants to get into coaching to stay in the game of football. He decides to return to his alma mater, where Stanford magically has an opening for a quarterbacks coach.
Already a half-decade ahead on the coaching ladder, Luck wows everyone in Palo Alto at how quickly he adapts to coaching. Players believe in him, recruits flock to him, and his fellow coaches trust him. Shaw believes in Luck so completely that, by 2015, Luck takes over Shaw's share of play calling and the Stanford offense immediately improves.
After Stanford wins the 2015 College Football Playoff, the New England Patriots make David Shaw an offer he simply can't refuse. After a combination of Cardinal assistants following Shaw to the NFL, taking promotions elsewhere in college football and other FBS head coaches receiving golden handcuffs tying them to their current jobs, momentum begins to build to name Luck as head coach. Kirk Herbstreit appears on SportsCenter touting Luck's candidacy . Stanford students and alumni demand to keep the job in the family.
And on January 18, 2016, four months past his 26th birthday, Andrew Luck is named the head coach at Leland Stanford Junior University. "We know he's young, but we also know this is the guy to lead Stanford football to the future," athletics director Bernard Muir says. "He's got the leadership ability and the best football mind I've ever seen."
Admittedly, it's fantasy. But that's the most realistic scenario we could see that would allow the youngest possible candidate an head job in FBS.
Anybody got anything better?
A full recap of today's April Fool's pranks
It was a pretty light year for April Fool's pranks in college sports. Or was it?
No, it actually was a pretty light day.
The Northeast Conference started the day with this tweet:
BREAKING: Conference realignment hits again. Syracuse and Boston College set to join NEC...— Northeast Conference (@NECsports) April 1, 2014
Veteran prankster Tony Levine announced that Houston had added offensive line transfer Ben Dew, a cousin of the legendary baseball player Sidd Finch.
"There are a number of very important reasons that I am choosing to continue my playing career and pursue my graduate degree at the University of Houston," said Dew. "Being so much closer to my family in New Zealand was a major factor, as well as being near my Uncle Scooby who lives in Beaumont with my cousin Montan.
"Since I've been at Hawaii for three years I've grown accustomed to telling people that I go to UH," Dew added. "Continuing to tell people that I attend UH will help make my transition that much smoother."
Finally, Oklahoma announced that Blake Bell was moving back to quarterback:
BREAKING: Click the image for more on Blake Bell... pic.twitter.com/W962x1O68f— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) April 1, 2014
It's not April Fools, but Norwich University assistant Barry Casterlin sent us this prank he recorded back in November:
In the end, 2014's version of April Fool's Day left us longing for the good old days when LSU was painting Death Valley purple.
College football's toughest 2014 schedules belong to...
There are a number of problems with the NCAA's schedule strength formula. Chiefly, there's not enough of a formula. The NCAA simply calculates your opponents' winning percentage and... voila. The difference between 10-3 LSU and 10-3 Ball State? There is none.
There are also a number of issues in projecting 2013 performance on to the 2014 season, as Auburn and Florida will attest. Still, though, looking ahead to 2014, the NCAA's schedule strength formula can tell us in broad strokes who has a tough road ahead and who's living on easy street. And the NCAA says Arkansas, Virginia and Tennessee - three teams that desperately need good seasons - have their work cut out for them.
It's far from perfect, but it's real football talk on April 1, so we can't be picky anway.
Fifteen Toughest Schedules
1. Arkansas - 103-54 (.656) opponent 2013 record; 2013 bowl opponents: 10
2. Virginia - 102-54 (.654); 2013 bowl opponents: 10
3. Tennessee - 101-54 (.652); 2013 bowl opponents: 9
4. Notre Dame - 103-56 (.648); 2013 bowl opponents: 10
5. Texas A&M - 100-55 (.641); 2013 bowl opponents: 8
6. Kentucky - 98-55 (.641); 2013 bowl opponents: 8
7. Iowa State - 97-57 (.630); 2013 bowl opponents: 8 (plus North Dakota State)
8. Syracuse - 96-57 (.628); 2013 bowl opponents: 7
9. Rutgers - 97-58 (.626); 2013 bowl opponents: 9 (plus Penn State)
Wake Forest - 97-58 (.626); 2013 bowl opponents: 7
11. Utah - 98-59 (.624); 2013 bowl opponents: 10
12. West Virginia - 97-59 (.622); 2013 bowl opponents: 8
13. South Carolina - 96-59 (.619); 2013 bowl opponents: 7
14. Miami - 96-60 (.615); 2013 bowl opponents: 10
15. Boston College - 95-61 (.609); 2013 bowl opponents: 8
Fifteen Easiest Schedules
1. Georgia Southern - 51-95 (.349); 2013 bowl opponents: 2
2. North Texas - 55-92 (.374); 2013 bowl opponents: 2
3. Northern Illinois - 55-91 (.377); 2013 bowl opponents: 3
4. Colorado State - 57-91 (.385); 2013 bowl opponents: 2
5. Middle Tennessee - 58-90 (.392); 2013 bowl opponents: 3
6. Texas State - 57-88 (.393); 2013 bowl opponents: 3
7. Marshall - 59-89 (.399); 2013 bowl opponents: 3
8. Buffalo - 59-88 (.401); 2013 bowl opponents: 3
9. Ball State - 60-89 (.403); 2013 bowl opponents: 3
10. Troy - 60-87 (.408); 2013 bowl opponents: 3
11. Louisiana-Monroe - 61-87 (.412); bowl opponents: 4
12. Utah State - 68-94 (.420); bowl opponents: 4
13. Rice - 64-85 (.430); bowl opponents: 4
14. Arkansas State - 64-84 (.432); 2013 bowl opponents: 3
Houston - 64-84 (.432); 2013 bowl opponents: 4
Mic'd up with North Carolina RB coach Larry Porter
Say Larry Porter's name among coaches and the first things that are likely to come to mind are "one of the best recruiters in the country", "former Memphis head coach", and "one of the best running back coaches in the country". Those are among the many reasons that Larry Fedora ultimately felt he was an excellent addition to the Tarheels staff, and there's no doubt that he hired a great coach.
The list of notable running backs that Larry Porter has mentored is both lengthy and impressive. At Oklahoma State he tutored Tatum Bell and Vernand Morency (both drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft), and at LSU his potent backfields included the likes of Joseph Addai, Jacob Hester, Trindon Holliday and Charles Scott.
His coaching style is demanding of his players, and his attention to detail is second to none. Take a closer look at what makes him so successful with running backs in the mic'd up session below.
Now if someone would just mic him up on the recruiting trail...
Dino Babers cleverly lets everyone in on just how fast 'Falcon fast' is
Every coach that attacks defenses with an up tempo approach talks about going fast, and up until recently, only Arizona has taken to the screen to talk about their "Speed".
At Bowling Green, new head coach Dino Babers has found an interesting way to let the fan base know how fast they plan to go in the fall and it involves hopping in a police cruiser in an effort to hype up their spring game and season ticket sales.
This method definitely beats throwing together a bunch of highlights or simply having the head coach talk into the camera about the spring game, and it looks like coach Babers had a good time with it too. Plus, the Falcon fan base will love this one.
Video: Sometimes the best sounding board for your program is parents of players
Giving recruits a first hand look inside of your program by linking them up with current players, or commits, for a campus tour, overnight visit, or phone call is on page one, paragraph one of the recruiting handbook.
However, we all know that the final decision often times comes down to the parents. At Tennessee, Butch Jones and his staff have preached family since his opening presser, and they realize that showing parents that they are just as much a part of the program as their sons are can pay some big dividends.
Here, Jones and the staff have parents attend a practice, grab some grub, and mingle with players and coaches after a scrimmage during a "Family Day". It's a simple concept, but you can tell the parents absolutely love being involved. Two parents perfectly summed up what the event accomplished from their perspective.
"I'm getting to know the family," one mom said. "So you feel like you're not in this alone, and it's exciting."
One dad in particular didn't mince words when talking about what Jones and his staff have brought to Knoxville, noting that "It's just more family like. It seems...how do I say this? More professional."
Hear more from parents, and see more of the event below. Whether you're at the FBS or NAIA level, all parents are going through the same thing when the send their kid off the college. Doing something like this keeps them involved, makes them feel valued, and you'll find that parents recruiting other parents may be the most effective method out there.
The NFL has an idea to boost attendance, and it involves cheerleaders
The NFL, America's biggest money-making behemoth this side of the Avengers films - doesn't have much trouble making a buck these days.... on television. Not when networks are begging for the opportunity to pay north of $100 million to broadcast a single game. As for getting fans to actually show up and watch the games in person, though, that's where the league is beginning to run into trouble.
The NFL product on television has become almost too good. When a 72-inch, high definition view of the game, with unlimited beer and pizza and fully-serviced phone or laptop ready to deliver fantasy statistics comes at a fraction of the price of actually driving an hour-plus to the game, dropping hundreds of dollars on parking and concessions on top of the ticket cost, and missing out on a day of fantasy scores and other action from around the league, it's an easy choice for most fans. The La-Z-Boy wins every time.
Boosting in stadium Wi-Fi is great, but the live experience has to offer something exclusive to get the average fan off his couch. College football has the band, the student section and a tradition of pageantry, and the NFL has... cheerleaders.
According to Sports Business Journal, the NFL has partnered with app developer Experience to, you guessed it, enhance the in-stadium experience at games. The Atlanta Falcons used the service last year, offering it to 3,000 season ticket holders. It worked as a link within an official team app, and it offers a set of experiences fans can purchase throughout the stadium.
“Anything from pregame on-field, to a birthday message, to cheerleader visits, to mascot visits, to the fly-by pass, which is a dedicated lane where you don’t wait to get into the stadium,” Falcons chief marketing officer Jim Smith, the Falcons’ told SBJ. “All the experiential things sold out within the first four hours they were made available.”
The team says they sold an average of 800 experiences per game.
Experience expects half the league to sign up for the 2014 season. Teams can customize experiences they would like to offer. For instance, the Seattle Seahawks sold the opportunity to attend Pete Carroll's post-game press conference or kick field goals on the field after the game.