Inside the scheduling philosophy at LSU
There are two ways to approach non-conference scheduling in major college football. Some programs challenge themselves in non-conference play, while others avoid challenges like Indiana Jones fleeing an oncoming bolder. LSU is in that first group.
The Tigers have been fixtures in college football's kickoff game era, opening their 2010 season against North Carolina in Atlanta, facing Oregon to open the 2011 season in Dallas, returning to Dallas to face TCU to open last season, and they'll open this coming season against Wisconsin in Houston. LSU is 3-0 in kickoff games.
One of the few SEC schools willing to leave the South, the Bayou Bengals have also completed recent home-and-homes with Washington and West Virginia. LSU is 4-0 in those games. This may have something to do with why Les Miles' club isn't afraid to schedule major opponents outside of SEC play.
The man behind LSU's non-conference scheduling strategy is associate athletics director Verge Ausberry. He's handled the Tigers' scheduling since 2007.
it's not a coincidence that LSU has sought neutral site games in major recruiting hotbeds like Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, and would like to play a neutral site game in New Orleans. In addition to filling a schedule, Ausberry has to expand LSU's brand.
“The world has changed,” Ausberry said. “Everybody says LSU’s brand is already big. I say, ‘Yeah, but you can’t ever stop growing.’ You either get better or worse every day. You’ve got to keep working on that brand.”
With the College Football Playoff oncoming, Ausberry says he hasn't seen a reason to change LSU's strategy for filling its four non-SEC games. (In addition to Wisconsin, LSU will host Sam Houston State, Louisiana-Monroe and New Mexico State in non-conference play.)
“They’re going to (look) at a lot of statistics on games, how much you won by, who you played,” Ausberry told the Baton Rouge Advocate of the CFP committee. “There are some things the SEC has sent out to all of us to take a look at (about) how the new process is going to work. … We’re all kind of like, ‘Let’s just see how this plays out.’ I think our schedules strength wise looks pretty good from here on out.”
In addition to this season's Wisconsin game, LSU has another neutral site date with the Badgers at Lambeau Field in 2016, and contracts with Arizona State, N.C. State and Oklahoma.
It's an interesting tightrope Ausberry walks. You don't want to submarine your own team's chances with a schedule that's too challenging, but then again, the ultimate nightmare scenario in Ausberry's world is an 11-1 LSU team that's left out of the College Football Playoff due to a schedule that the selection committee deems too soft. It sounds ridiculous today, an SEC team playing an inferior schedule, but no one knows what to expect in age where 13 voters have the fate of the college football world in their hands.
Adding to the uncertainty that makes Ausberry's job a challenge is the SEC's current 6-1-1 scheduling model. With a round-robin against six SEC West foes, an annual game against SEC rival Florida and one rotating SEC East opponent, LSU's in-conference schedule could swing wildly from year to year. It's a wild swing from year to year when you're saddled with, say, 2012 Florida and South Carolina versus 2013 Florida and Kentucky as your crossover opponents. In the end, LSU's East division draw could prove the difference between receiving a golden ticket to the College Football Playoff and not, and, of course, that's the one aspect of LSU's schedule of which Ausberry has no control.
Still, though, Ausberry builds every schedule with one thing in mind. “Our ultimate goal is to hold the crystal ball over our head,” Ausberry said.
Video: Mike Yurcich breaks down the OK State inside zone read
Every program that runs zone schemes runs the zone read, and variations of it.
In the latest installment of "Coaches Chalk Talk" at Oklahoma State, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich not only gets on the board and breaks down the inside zone read, but also provides some great coaching points (like the running back staying play side and not making his first cut until he's at the heels of the offensive line) and then cues up some cut-ups of the play in action.
Gundy and his staff have done an outstanding job with this series. Fans and coaches everywhere appreciate it.
Would your AD troll like this with your rivalry trophy?
Mississippi State has won four of the past five Egg Bowl contests against in-state rival Ole Miss. That my friends, is as good of a license to troll as any.
Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin took full advantage of that trolling opportunity by tweeting this picture of his morning commute yesterday, with the Egg Bowl trophy belted into the passenger seat and the caption "Morning commute. #carpooling #HailState".
Well played Mr. Stricklin. Athletic directors everywhere now need to step up their trolling game to get on your level.
Video: 'It's not about the shoes, it's about what you do in them'
Utah State has found a formula for success, and it has nothing to do with uniform combinations, or fancy chrome helmets. Matt Wells, and his predecessor Gary Andersen, have found a way to get the most out of the guys on their roster and that approach has led to 20 wins over the past two seasons.
This video was shown on the senior's banquet night, as they reflected on their final season of college football, and the line that the video leads with could not be more fitting (courtesy of the great Michael Jordan and a recent commercial).
"It's not about the shoes, it's about what you do in them. It's about knowing where you're going and not forgetting where you started."
"It's about having the courage to fail. Not breaking when you are broken. Taking everything that you have been given, and making something better. It's about work, before glory. It's about doing what they say you can't." Jordan explains
That's as powerful of an opening line as I've ever heard. The video goes on to recap the season's highs and lows and is well worth the seven and a half minutes.
Photo: Did Wal-Mart spoil Florida State's new logo reveal?
If you read a lot of uniform-related articles like I do (or maybe not, I might have a slight problem), you'd know that spoilers are a common plight of teams and leagues hoping to hold a surprise uniform unveiling until a specific date. What often happens is, for example, an NBA team will want to surprise the public with new uniforms around the start of the season, only to be spoiled by screen shots of NBA-related video games hitting the internet a month in advance.
We may have seen a similar situation happen in college football on Wednesday.
Florida State has announced plans to update its iconic Seminole head logo, which the school has used since at least 1976.
“The changes are very minor and the primary thing people will see is consistency in the garnet,” Florida State vice president for university relations Liz Maryanski told ESPN.com. “If you go into a sports store and look across the store, you’ll see as many shades of garnet as there are T-shirts, and we’re trying to get consistency in our colors. We’ll still have what we call ‘the head’ with the Seminole [Tribe’s] blessing.”
But on Wednesday, the Florida State blog Tomahawk Nation posted a photo of this T-shirt on sale at Wal-Mart.
On the surface, this definitely passes the smell test. It's a tweak of the basic template that Florida State already uses, with a slight change of the facial expression and the "Seminoles" script exchanged for "FSU". It's the type of change that would sail right over the heads of casual fans.
To be clear, this is far from official confirmation. But it's a situation where you wonder, with a new logo on the way, why would that shirt be available for retail if it wasn't the new official logo?
Anyway, this mystery will be solved on April 11, when the 'Noles will unveil their new logo in advance of the spring football game the following day.
Here's a short video Florida State released in advance of the release. Let the amateur detectives in our audience have at it.
(HT SB Nation)
Georgia is sending hand drawn portraits to recruits
Some programs flood a recruit's mail box with a hundred letters a day, others send unique puzzles, but Georgia has decided to put their own (very) unique spin on their recruiting mailings to a handful of recruits.
Below are the hand drawn portraits that Bulldog targets Rashad Roundtree and D'Andre Walker received, along with a short hand written note from Mark Richt.
It would be nice if coach Richt had the time and talent on hand to craft each one of these himself, but regardless of the illustrator, you've got to give the staff credit for coming up with something this unique. Both recruits seem to have enjoyed the personalized touch.
Recapping our visit with the Texas Tech staff
Last week I spent two days with the Texas Tech staff...and came away very impressed. Over the next few weeks I plan to share a number of stories and insight into the coaches on staff; but I also wanted to provide some high level thoughts now based upon my time there.
Zach and I had been talking about how impressed I was and we figured we just roll some tape to share with you my thoughts on where the program is and what the future looks like for Texas Tech football.
Will share a number of other pictures, stories and opinions over the coming weeks. Stay tuned...
Kliff and his staff at their staff meeting Thursday morning
One last note, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Coach Kingsbury, the entire staff and particularly Kenny Bell for their assistance and hospitality during my visit. Nothing but great people in West Texas. Thank you
Kentucky OC Neal Brown learned an important lesson his first year in the SEC
Neal Brown's hire as Kentucky's offensive coordinator brought plenty of hype, and hope to the Wildcat program. When the season finally came to a close, the Wildcats finished 100th or worse offensive in both scoring (108th) and pass offense (100th), and they ranked 86th in rush offense.
Looking back on year one with The Courier-Journal, Brown noted that in order to improve moving forward they need to dramatically improve in talent level, and create more depth within the program to be successful in the SEC. He also detailed an important lesson that he sees now looking back on the season, and it's something that head coaches and coordinators everywhere should take note of, especially if you're in a league where you're often outmatched physically or talent-wise.
"I think what happens when you're maybe not as talented as some of the teams you're playing is you try to out-scheme some people and maybe deviate from the system you have in place. I think we did that." he explained.
"We tried to maybe cover up some areas that were weaknesses for us, where if I had it to do over again I would just really concentrate on fundamentals and stuck with the system and not swayed off it as much and just really concentrate more on fundamentals."
Going into the year, Brown and the staff set a goal of having the opportunity to win the game when the fourth quarter came around.
"Our goal was to take games into the fourth quarter and, with the exception of three games, we had opportunities to win in the fourth quarter – the exceptions being the Alabama, Georgia and Missouri games. But the rest of the games, we had realistic opportunities to win the game, and that was kind of my goal to give us a chance in the fourth quarter. Now obviously we didn't finish those games, but we did give ourselves an opportunity."
"Some of the things we did schematically did give us an opportunity to win the game. We just didn't do it. Looking back, after we went 2-10, the schematics kept us in games but we didn't win them, so I think one thing if I had to do it again is maybe being less concerned with schematics, being more concerned with just getting fundamentally better each week – which we did, but we could've done better."