Video: Players and coaches sell the John Grass era at Jacksonville State
Shortly after we learned that Bill Clark would be leaving Jacksonville State for UAB back on January 21st, word started to circulate that offensive coordinator John Grass would be promoted to replace him. The choice was obvious for those close to the program.
Grass led one of the most exciting FCS offenses in the country (#25 in total offense), and nearly everyone that has played, or worked with him easily recognizes that he posses the traits that make up a quality head coach.
Here, in this video from the Gamecocks, 2013 highlights are mixed intermittently with players and coaches talk about Grass' character and how he genuinely cares for every person involved in the program.
There's no doubt that this is being shown to recruits considering Jacksonville State. The only people that may like it more than the recruits, are their parents.
Video: 'This is about a lot more than football'
Colorado State got more than a head coach when it plucked Jim McElwain away from Alabama in 2012. Also making the trip from Tuscaloosa to Fort Collins was a green-and-gold replica of Alabama's Fourth Quarter program, Ram U.
"This is about more than football," McElwain said. "The lessons learned and the endurance required in the Ram U program will not only help them in playing the game of football, but will carry with them the rest of their lives, with their families and in their careers."
In practical purposes, that means a one-hour lift four days a week and then a one-hour afternoon session focusing on agility and conditioning. "It's still tough. Every year you have to come out ready and you have to come out prepared," said senior tight end Kivon Cartwright. "You know you physically can get through the program since you've done it before, it's just mentally telling yourself that and pushing yourself to the limit."
From year one to year two at Ram U, Colorado State improved its record from 4-8 in McElwain's debut season of 2012 to an 8-6 mark with a 48-45 win over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl to close the year.
'The biggest muscle we're trying to train is between the ears'
Wyoming's new strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval arrived on campus and realized that he had his work cut out for him if he was going to help Craig Bohl turn around the Cowboy program.
"Watching the film, a lot of our guys didn't pass the eye test. We had a lot of fat and not enough muscle. We've had to transform their bodies." Duval explained.
But before any of that could change, Duval took the time to develop a relationship and trust with every single player on the roster, according to The Republic. He dug in with each individual wanting to learn about their family history, training habits, academics, and how they like to spend their free time. That was important to Duval because he wanted the players to know that he cares about them as much off the field, as he does on the field.
When Duval took the job initially, he had a plan in mind, but after seeing where players were physically, he scrapped it, Instead, he came up with a new plan designed to increase lean muscle mass, as well as increase growth hormone and testosterone naturally in the body. To do that, he installed an intense training circuit with very little rest between sets that would tax players strength wise, and test their conditioning.
One player described the approach as "do-or-die." Either you get in and do it, or you fail in front of everyone. Needless to say, players are coming into the weight room with a much different mindset than they did in past years.
The intensity of the workouts has helped 16 players add 12 pounds of lean muscle, with many players shedding between 2% and 3% of body fat. The minimal rest time is also having quite the effect on the guys, who get pushed to the limit of their conditioning. Needless to say, garbage cans can be easily located throughout the weight room facility.
The new approach has proven very effective, but Duval hopes that the biggest advantage is a little harder to measure than lean pounds added or a percentage of body fat.
"We'll get a lot faster transformations than a lot of other people. The biggest muscle we're trying to train is between the ears."
Why is James Franklin wearing a wig?
James Franklin, a few assistant coaches (including Charles Huff and Sean Spence), and a handful of players went down to a hair salon to get their heads shaved for charity yesterday.
I know what you're thinking...James Franklin has as much hair as Michael Jordan did in his prime, but that didn't stop him from having some fun and contributing to the event.
After initially walking through the door, and shaking some hands, Franklin disappeared to the bathroom and came out wearing an afro wig. As you can see, he pulls off the look quite well actually.
Huff was the only coach who actually had any hair to shave off, and while the clippers were just getting started he stated "I feel like I'm getting ugly already."
It was all part of a "No Hair, Don't Care" cancer awareness event where students came in and donated $10 to the charity to have their heads shaved. The event raised $2,600 and 215 heads were shaved according to Penn Live.
The power of one tweet
UAB's Friday morning off-season workout was just like any other, until it wasn't.
First, the backstory. Timothy Alexander was a very talented high school football player until a 2006 car accident robbed him of his football career and his ability to walk. A few years later, Alexander enrolled at UAB and as we understand it reached out to then-head coach Garrick McGee to see if he could become a part of the football program. Now bound mostly to a wheelchair, Alexander has his own locker and participates with the team as much as he can, including doing upper-body workouts with the team.
One thing he can't do, is run the Legion Field bleachers. Friday morning the team was running the stadium stairs. Everyone was on their way up when strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin looked down and realized that Alexander was left on the field by himself.
@DrewChamplin I didn't know what was going on. I was about to go stand up on the fence and coach says. "You wanna go to the TOP" Yes Sir!!— Timothy Alexander (@1stN2ndTimothy) February 15, 2014
Director of football operations Tyler Cook snapped this photo.
Then the rest of the team joined in.
There's a lot of things happening at once here. Woodfin and the rest of the team provided a moment Alexander will remember for the rest of his life but that moment also helped galvanize the team. Following the workout, Alexander broke it down with "One team, One goal!"
Moments like this don't often happen; and usually when they do they are remembered by only those there at the time. This time, Cook realized the moment and was able to capture the moment in a great picture from his phone. Cook told head coach Bill Clark that he wanted to share this moment with the football community. They decided to tweet the photo and tag @FootballScoop in the tweet. We retweeted the photo and it caught life of its own.
To date the tweet has been retweeted 459 times and received 304 favorites. It inspired articles in UAB's hometown Birmingham News, and was picked up by other websites across the country. Social media is a powerful tool when used correctly.
Coach Woodfin's selfless act brought his team together and undoubtedly was a moment Timothy will never forget. Coach Cook capturing and sharing the moment helped us all recognize the power of teamwork and determination.
We spoke with Coach Cook today and he said Timothy is a very determined young man who continues to make great strides in his recovery. We hope this moment gives him further encouragement to keep working towards all of his goals.
Are you ready to see college football's largest scoreboard?
They say everything's bigger in Texas, and no one says that more often than Texans. I still remember as a high school freshman touring Baylor's student recreational center when they made sure to note that their indoor climbing wall was two feet taller than Texas A&M's.
With that in mind, of course Texas A&M's new scoreboard is going to be the largest of its kind in college football. Measuring in at 47 feet tall and 163 feet wall, the Aggies' scoreboard will span a total of 7,661 square feet, just surpassing the current placeholder for college football's largest scoreboard... the 7,370-square foot so-called Godzillatron belonging to the University of Texas.
The new Aggietron is expected to be open for business by Texas A&M's home-opener against Lamar on Sept. 6.
Video: The before and after of USC's Heritage Hall will wow you
Previously, USC's Heritage Hall was.... not great. It was a place where the Trojans' seven Heisman trophies were on full display, only the display stands had outlets on them, and visitors would rest their charging iPhones beside Charles White's bronze block of college football history.
Led by Pat Haden and Mark Jackson, USC has turned Heritage Hall into a place that can beautifully house and celebrate the Trojans' 125-year history of the program's 21 sports.
Why aren't students going to football games any more?
Here's the bad news: your school is having serious trouble getting students to show up on time - if at all. Now here's the good news: you're not alone. Far from it. In many cases, the biggest schools in college football are the ones having the toughest time getting students to show up.
According to a report from ESPN, only 3,773 of a possible 9,000 students seats were filled for the second half kickoff of Arizona's upset of Oregon last November. Twenty-six percent of Michigan's student ticket holders didn't make it inside the gates this season. Georgia reduced its student section by nearly 2,000 seats, and nearly 30 percent of those ticket holders still no-showed.
ESPN reached out to students across the nation for their reasons for staying home.
"People would rather stay at fraternity houses with unlimited food, booze and a big-screen TV than make the trek to the stadium," North Carolina student Thomas Doochin said. "Phone service is terrible during games and it's hard to stay in touch with the world for the three hours you're in the stadium."
"The routine is the exact same as it was the first game of my freshman year," said Nebraska student Bryce Maher. "The exact same warmup songs at the same time in every game. Even the tunnel walk has gotten stale after being there for a couple seasons. I believe the university needs to try some new rituals, get some new traditions. At a place that covets tradition, as much as any fan base in the country, a change is needed."
Personally, those sound like lame excuses to me. But like football enough to get a job writing for a football website.
The most common answer was that the opportunity cost of attending a game was too high. Many kids would rather miss a game in person than miss three hours of text, tweets and other games on TV. The NFL is wrestling with the same issue, albeit with an older clientele. If a fan thinks they can get more value watching a game from behind a (television or smartphone) screen than with their own eyes, how can you convince them otherwise?
Many schools start their sales pitches on students as soon as they get on campus, if not before. "We spend a great amount of time in the summer and the fall working on the freshman," Miami associate athletics director Chris Freet said. "We want them to understand that athletics is a big part of college life at Miami and make sure that their first experiences are entertaining. If you get off on the right foot, hopefully they become a fan and matriculate to a season-ticket-holder after graduation."
The most common answer has been to turn the stadium into one big living room. The Big Ten has made a concerted effort to boost the wireless experience inside its own stadiums, and the Big 12 has started showing in-game highlights of other conference games inside its own stadiums. Of course, Nebraska recently dumped $12 million into Memorial Stadium's in part to improve its wireless capabilities, only to be told its traditions were too monotonous.
This empty-seat plague is one that stretches across regions, divisions and conferences. Athletics administrators aren't exactly sure how, when and why this became a problem, but they're in agreement that they need to find a solution.
"We have to solve this because we are talking about the season ticket-holders of tomorrow," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "But interests and attitudes are changing so rapidly it's not easy to quickly identify what we need to do."