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James Franklin challenging recruits, lands #2 overall running back

Vanderbilt offensive coordinator / running backs coach John Donovan may end up coaching the most coveted recruit in Vanderbilt history.

On Friday, head coach James Franklin landed a verbal commitment from East High School (Memphis, TN) running back Brian Kimbrow.

Kimbrow reportedly had scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama, Stanford, Nebraska, USC, and many others.  Rivals ranks Kimbrow as the #2 all-purpose running back in the country.

Upon hearing of the commitment, Franklin reportedly hollered, “Get you some, Coach O.” (just kidding)

Franklin did however explain part of his recruiting philosophy with Sports Illustrated.

Franlin challenges recruits by saying, "If you feel that you are the best and the brightest, come prove it with me week in and week out. If you're afraid of competition, then you'd better not be playing major division football, and you'd better not be considering the SEC."

Vandy now has twelve total commitments including seven verbals from the state of Georgia, four from Tennessee, and one from Louisiana.  Of course, verbal commitments are non-binding, just ask Mike Gundy.

If Vandy inks a Top 25 recruiting class, the Vanderbilt war room might be a wild scene.  

Mike Gundy frustrated, speaks out about decommitments

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is frustrated and for good reason. 

Recently, a couple of recruits have withdrawn their verbal commitments to Oklahoma State in favor of other programs.  Not only do the Cowboys lose out on the previous commitments, but also some of the backup options because we are well into the 2012 recruiting process.  In fact, forty-six of the Rivals 100 have already announced a verbal commitment...and it's only early July.  

It’s been happening for years, all over the country.  Although he might be one of the first to speak about being held hostage, Gundy isn’t the only coach that has become frustrated over the situation.

Gundy explained to the Oklahoman, "The player is always going to have the last say, they're holding the trump card.”

“There's nothing you can do about it. It's not like you can call and beat them up over the phone, because then you won't be able to go back into that high school.”

“It's very disappointing and very discouraging but it's not going to change. It's the part of the job that is most discouraging. When you have a guy committed for three, four, five months, you've stopped recruiting at that position then they go somewhere else.”

Maybe it’s time for a rule adjustment, perhaps an early signing period.

What do you think?

Video: Nebraska adds built-in iPads for every locker

In case ThisIsNebraska.com didn’t create a clear enough picture of the first-class Nebraska football facilities, the Big Ten Network recently took an inside look at the facilities of the newest member of the Big Ten Conference.

The Ndamukong Suh Strength Center is impressive, but the latest addition is a built-in iPad for every locker.

According to senior wide receiver Brandon Kinnie, “Yeah, the big man Suh hooked us up.”

Bo Pelini says, “Nebraska football represents the best of what there is to offer in college football.  It’s about passion, about loyalty, about accountable to the guy next to you.”

“This is our house.  There is no other place like it.”

Check out the video, highlighting the strength facility, locker room, tunnel walk, players lounge, and game day atmosphere.


Jimbo Fisher says the 'Noles have a huge advantage

Jimbo Fisher’s coaching staff at Florida State is one of twenty-five staffs in the country that remained completely intact during the off-season.  All nine assistant coaches remained with the program including coordinators James Coley, Mark Stoops, and Eddie Gran.

With coaching changes last season at Miami (FL) and the University of Florida, Fisher is now the dean of the Big 3 in Florida.  He believes the continuity should pay off.

Fisher said, "The good thing is everybody in the organization knows what to expect.”

"I think that's going to be a huge advantage for us. I think the biggest thing is for the folks who work around me and the players . . . about the way we coach, the demands and the things we expect.”

He added, "In this business, old doesn't always mean better. You just have to keep staying on top of things, staying hungry, winning those recruiting battles and be able to make the right calls on Saturday and hope your guys can execute them.”

According to FootballScoop research, twenty-four programs did not have any coaching staff changes going into last season.  10 of 24 programs actually had fewer total wins in 2010.  Texas, who didn't have any coaching staff changes, went from 13-1 to 5-7.  

Here is the entire list:

  Texas                  (13-1 to 5-7)
  Clemson              (9-5 to 6-7)
  Penn State          (11-2 to 7-6)
  Oregon State      (8-5 to 5-7)
  UL-Lafayette       (6-6 to 3-9)
  UAB                     (5-7 to 4-8)
  Boston College   (8-5 to 7-6)
  Iowa                   (11-2 to 8-5)
  Northwestern     (8-5 to 7-6)
  Wake Forest       (5-7 to 3-9)

On the flip side, four programs that kept their staffs entirely intact, went on to double-digit wins.  Those programs include Auburn, Oregon, Virginia Tech, and TCU.

Florida State opens the season in Doak Campbell Stadium against ULM.  Running backs / special teams coordinator Eddie Gran wants a rowdy atmosphere.

After hosting Charleston-Southern in the second week of the season, the Seminoles will host Oklahoma.  ESPN's College Gameday will likely be in Tallahassee for that one.


Maryland down 2 grad assistants during August camp

Maryland will be without two of their main horses, both graduate assistant coaches, during the first sixteen practices in August camp.

The university self-imposed the penalty on the program as part of two rules violations that occurred during last season under former head coach Ralph Friedgen.

The Terps were found to have exceeded the 20-hour rule last season.

According to a release this morning, Maryland used an extra 1.25 hours each week on football related activity.  Also, certain quality control coaches attended voluntary summer workouts last season.

Sounds like Maryland was trying to replicate the Michigan strategy.

As a result, the quality control coaches will not be allowed to observe or participate in on-field activities during August camp this year.  

In reality, things just became a little tougher for coordinators Gary Crowton and Todd Bradford.

The Terps open with four consecutive home games beginning with Miami (FL).  After the season opener against the Hurricanes, Maryland hosts West Virginia, Temple, and Towson.


ESPN sets killer Thursday night schedule, but here comes the NFL

If you are reading this site, chances are that Thursday nights in the fall mean one thing to you…the start of the college football weekend.  In fact, as of today, only sixty-three days remain until the first Thursday night primetime game of 2011 on ESPN, UNLV at Wisconsin.

Let’s be honest, ESPN could broadcast Bowling Green at Idaho.  You would still watch it.

For years, college football has stolen the spotlight of sports entertainment on Thursday nights in the fall.  However, here comes the NFL, which is proposing a new eight-game early season Thursday night schedule.

According to the LA Times, “The new eight-game package would be for the first half of the season. The NFL's own cable channel, the NFL Network, already has an eight-game schedule for the second half. Besides the NFL Network, other potential bidders include Comcast Corp., which owns the sports channel Versus; Turner Broadcasting, which owns TNT and other channels that could carry games; and News Corp., parent of Fox and the cable channel FX.”

Early season NFL Thursday night games could start as early as the 2012 season.

In the meantime, let’s look forward to the 2011 college Thursday night primetime schedule.  It's a great schedule. 

  September 1- UNLV at Wisconsin 
  September 8- Arizona at Oklahoma State 
  September 15- LSU at Mississippi State 
  September 22- North Carolina State at Cincinnati 
  September 29- South Florida at Pittsburgh 
  October 6- California at Oregon 
  October 13- USC at California 
  October 20- UCLA at Arizona 
  October 27- Virginia at Miami (FL) 
  November 3- Florida State at Boston College 
  November 10- Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech 
  November 17- North Carolina at Virginia Tech 
  November 24- Texas at Texas A&M 7PM (Thanksgiving)
  December 1- West Virginia at South Florida 


As only Jon Gruden can...

Seriously, is there anyone out there with the ability to focus on the positives (when there are few, if any to talk about) as Jon Gruden can?

Gruden shared his thoughts about Terrell Pryor on the Scott Van Pelt Show this afternoon on ESPN Radio.

Here are Gruden’s comments:

“You can’t deny the fact that this guy has very rare physical size and strength to play football, whether it be quarterback, receiver, or some creative role at the next level.”

“There is something for Terrell Pryor to do, that’s all I’m saying.”

“He is a premier game day competitor.  I do know this…I’d find something for Terrell Pryor to do.  I don’t know about being a return guy.  I do think if you watch the Fiesta Bowl his freshman year, you see him stand out there at wide receivers against Texas, Beckman throws a fade streak in the end zone, and he jumps up and takes it away like he’s stealing from a child.”

“I’ve seen him stiff are defensive ends.”

Gruden did bring up the fact that NY Jets head coach Rex Ryan effectively utilizes Brad Scott, a former college quarteback at Missouri.

“He could be an outstanding receiver with the size and strength advantage much like Calvin Johnson in Detroit.  There are not many athletes like this that I’ve worked out.  Go on YouTube and watch him on the high school basketball court.  When I stood on the sidelines at the Rose Bowl, I thought he was Julius Peppers.”

“I do think somebody is going to pull the trigger and acquire the rights to someone they can use.”

“I see a big guy that has won a lot of games.  If you ask me, someone is going to find something for Terrell Pryor to do.”

Translation…Gruden wouldn’t touch Pryor as a quarterback.


Jon Embree says Colorado players have changed habits

It’s only sixty-six days until Jon Embree will lead the Colorado Buffaloes against Hawaii in his first game as a head coach.

Embree has already declared the opener at Hawaii as a “brick game,” a tradition started by former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney, but discontinued by Dan Hawkins.

A win…and the Buffs will have a new gold brick outside the locker room signifying one of the bigger wins in program history.

Embree said yesterday at the Colorado Football Kickoff Luncheon, “We've accomplished some great things here. We've won a national championship, we've played in some of the biggest games in college football history. They (our players) need to know that, they need to understand what they're a part of."

Despite losing a number of players from the roster in the off-season, Embree is optimistic about 2011 and beyond.

He explained, "Because I know me. I know my coaching staff. I believe in those players . . . that they've made unbelievable changes in their habits off the field, the fact that every guy is there this summer working out. I don't think that guarantees anything, but it gives you a chance."

According to Embree, twenty-four players were under a 2.0 GPA when he inherited the program.  After starting a 6:45 am study table, only two players on the team finished the spring semester below a "C" average.  

That's a start, but the progress the Buffalo supporters want to see is on the field.

Embree and his new coaching staff open at Hawaii, but return to Boulder in week #2 to host Cal.