Middle Tennessee's 2013 hype video is top-notch
With non-conference road games against teams like North Carolina, and BYU there should be no shortage of excitement in Murfreesboro.
But just in case, this season hype trailer for the Blue Raiders' 2013 season should provide an extra jolt of excitement surrounding Rick Stockstill and his program.
Who has the best grass field in college football?
If you've ever watched a game and thought to yourself, "Man, this grass field looks amazing," you aren't alone. In fact, the SportsTurf Managers Association got together and voted on whose field looks the best and, for the 2012 season, Iowa State's Jack Trice Stadium came out on top.
“It’s always good to be recognized by your peers,” Iowa State athletics turf ground manager Tim Van Loo said in reaction to the win. “It’s also quite humbling.” As part of their prize, Van Loo and his five-man student staff will appear on the cover of an upcoming issue of SportsTurf Magazine. Not bad for a group of guys putting in yeoman's work in a thankless job.
The win marked Iowa State's second victory in the history of the award, the first coming in 1996. Dating back to 1991, the STMA has doled out the honor on a semi-annual basis since then. Northwestern took home top honors in 2011 in the first time the award was given since Virginia Tech claimed the prize in 2008. Panther Stadium at Oregon Unified School District in Oregon, Wisc., won the prize in the Schools and Parks Division.
Unfortunately for traditionalists, this is a field with dwindling competition. In the Big 12 alone, seven of the 10 schools utilize artificial surfaces.
One look at Jack Trice Stadium and it's easy to see Van Loo and his crew were deserving winners.
Rate Lane Kiffin's acting skills in this USC promo
USC is in the midst of its Coaches Tour 2013 - a chance for Trojans fans of California to have their favorite school's coaches brought to them for some quality face time. To get the word out, USC used its two most recognizable coaches to shoot a promotional video.
In one corner we have head football coach Lane Kiffin, a face undoubtedly known to 100 percent of this audience. In the other corner sits new Trojans head basketball coach Andy Enfield. College basketball fans may remember his starring role in the 2013 March Madness hit - "Dunk City: A Florida Gulf Coast Story".
The gist of this promo is that Kiffin is to explain what the USC Coaches Tour is all about to newcomer Enfield. We can't decide what we like more, Kiffin's deadpan line, "I'm sure they'll be there to see our wives and not us," or that you can see USC's video crew and equipment in the reflective glass on the wall behind Kiffin and Enfield.
Considering the Trojans' proximity to Hollywood, maybe they should outsource this stuff to the professionals next time.
American Athletic Conference releases their logos
The new American Athletic Conference has released their primary logos.
Commissioner Mike Aresco, who has been vocal in staying away from the "AAC" acronym. stated that the logo featuring the classic letter "A" and unique star inside was unanimously chosen.
"It's a bold look. Obviously this is a media world we live in, and we wanted to make sure we had the kind of mark that would be distinctive and would make an impact when people saw it. We wanted it to be something people would like and remember, but the notion really was to make it as simple as possible but also strong." Aresco told USA Today.
We definitely don't see this unique logo being confused with any others out there.
What are your thoughts?
Just as a reminder, the American Athletic Conference will be a 10 team league in 2013 (Louisville, Rutgers, UConn, South Florida, Cincinnati, Temple, Houston, SMU, Central Florida, Memphis). In 2014, Louisville will depart for the ACC and Rutgers will leave for the Big Ten, but the conference will add East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa.
(H/T to USA Today for the logos)
Video: PJ Fleck passionately explains his vision for Western Michigan
As a first time head coach leading a MAC program, and the youngest head coach in the FBS, PJ Fleck has developed a very good vision for the Western Michigan program and has really embraced getting the word out through the use of technology.
In this sit down, coach Fleck explains the "Row the Boat" philosophy that is now entrenched in the Bronco program and how some adversity in his own life influenced him to embrace that quote and philosophy for his new program.
"What 'Row the Boat' basically means is that, when you row a boat, you're facing the opposite direction that the boat is actually going. When you're rowing it, you have to row at the same efficiency, the same power, same speed, same energy as the other people in the boat to get effectively from point A to point B, as fast as possible," Fleck explained.
"A is where we are at right now, and B is the goal. If we can get everyone in the boat rowing at the same speed, efficiecny and power, we'll get there a lot faster. Now if one person in that boat decides to slow down, and not row and do their job like everyone else, then we'll zig-zag to point B. If one side of the boat stops rowing, then we'll just go in a circle and four years from now they'll be a new head football coach here, they'll be a new belief and a new method and a new saying around here."
"So anyone that comes in contact with the Western Michigan team, we want them to grab an oar and start rowing."
Hear coach Fleck talk more about his extensive philosophy and vision, including his plan to have an oar in every hospital, bank, bakery, and dorm in Kalamazoo, in the clip.
Young coaches take note. It's this type of clear vision for a program, and passion that's needed to become a become a young head coach.
The five characteristics of successful coaches
Yesterday came across an article by renowned author John C. Maxwell that focused on the five main characteristics possessed by successful coaches. Maxwell has authored over 60 books centered around leadership (selling more than 19 million copies in all) including titles like Talent is Never Enough, Winning With People, and The 17 Indisputable Qualities of a Team Player.
Maxwell explains in the piece that while coaches like Mike Ditka and Phil Jackson have many differences, there are five characteristics that all successful coaches have in common.
They establish trust
They lend perspective
They orchestrate people
They ensure preparation
They provide discipline and accountability
We highly recommend taking a look at the full article here, where Maxwell also provides an explanation and example of each characteristic.
A look at the largest (and smallest) coaching staffs in the NFL
While the college football world is trapped inside a debate with the fury of a thousand suns about just how large a personnel staff can or should be, the NFL operates without such restrictions.
Coaching staffs in the 32-team league can vary by up to 60 percent; the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks lead the league with 24 coaches apiece, while the Pittsburgh Steelers have the league's smallest staff with 15 coaches. (Does anyone find it interesting that the Eagles, Seahawks and third-place Buccaneers, all with head coaches who came directly from the college ranks, have the NFL's largest coaching staffs?)
In addition to the standard positions (offensive coordinator, defensive line coach, strength and conditioning coach), the Eagles feature an assistant offensive line coach, an assistant defensive line coach, an assistant tight ends coach, an assistant defensive backs coach, two assistant special teams coaches and a well-publicized sport science coordinator. Of course, it's too early to tell whether bigger will be better for Kelly; judging from his track record, we have no reason to think otherwise. But what about everybody else? Does employing more coaches really help? What about employing less coaches?
Research from Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com says that 17 of the NFL's 32 teams employ either 20- or 21-member coaching staffs. With those numbers set as the median, we'll take a look at each end of the spectrum to see if any hard conclusions can be drawn.
NFL's Largest Staffs
1. Philadelphia Eagles - 24
Seattle Seahawks - 24
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 23
4. Arizona Cardinals - 22
Kansas City Chiefs - 22
Jacksonville Jaguars - 22
St. Louis Rams - 22
Minnesota Vikings - 22
NFL's Smallest Staffs
1. Pittsburgh Steelers - 15
2. Carolina Panthers - 17
New England Patriots - 17
Atlanta Falcons - 17
5. Washington Redskins - 18
Cincinnati Bengals - 18
7. Detroit Lions - 19
Four of the eight largest staffs are brand new, so it's far too early to draw sweeping conclusions about them. The other four - Seattle, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and St. Louis - were a who's who of the NFL's most improved teams from 2011 to 2012. The four jumped by a total of 19 wins from year to year, and each club improved by at least three wins. Seattle improved from 7-9 to 11-5 and came within a whisker of playing for the NFC championship, while Minnesota leaped from a 3-13 mark to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. Of course, there are many more factors contributing to those improvements than just a large coaching staff. We're just trying to establish there isn't a "too many cooks in the kitchen" scenario going on here.
On the other side of the coin reside three of the NFL's most consistent winners of the decade. Pittsburgh missed the playoffs for the first time in what feels like a millennium last fall, while both New England and Atlanta reached their respective conference title games. Washington made its first playoff appearance in half a decade, and Cincinnati completed a run of back-to-back playoff trips since 1981-82. Of course, there are many more factors contributing to those teams' success than their smaller coaching staffs. We're just trying to establish they're not battling a competitive disadvantage by having fewer chairs in the meeting room.
In all, half of the NFL's 2012 playoff teams came from the largest and smallest coaching staffs, while the other half resided firmly in the 20-21 coaches median. If anything, we've established that winning football depends more not on the five extra coaches your team does or does not utilize, but getting the most out of the 15 essential staff members that every team employs. Having better players than the other guy never hurts, either.
Pac-12 announces early-season TV schedule
The season is just around the corner. Even if you may not feel that way, television executives certainly do.
ESPN, Fox and the Pac-12 Networks combined to announce the Pac-12's early-season TV schedule on Wednesday. All told, 43 of the Pac-12's 92 football games have already found television homes. Not bad for May 28.
Before we go any further, a few notes:
- The Pac-12's TV partners are ESPN (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and the like), Fox (and its cable sibling, Fox Sports 1) and, obviously, the Pac-12 Networks. That means any CBS Sports Network or NBC games are Pac-12 away games owned by the home team.
- For those of you scratching your heads at just what the heck Fox Sports 1 is, don't worry, it's already on your channel guide. The Speed Network is being rebranded as an all-sports Fox Sports 1, the newest competitor to ESPN, in mid-August.
- Washington State at Auburn remains the only Pac-12 opening-week game without a broadcast home. That game is owned by the SEC's television package.
- The conference is making a significant investment into Thursday and Friday nights. Of the 15 weeks between Labor Day and Championship Saturday, only six go by without some sort of weeknight affair.
- Speaking of investments, Pac-12 Networks have already claimed two Oregon games (Sept. 28 vs. Cal and Oct. 5 at Colorado) well ahead of the conference's other partners in hopes that the Ducks will help any cable or satellite holdouts (read: DirecTV) succumb to fan demand.
- With a 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff, Pac-12 Thursday night games on Fox Sports 1 will effectively serve as the back-end of a doubleheader, following ESPN's Thursday night game.
- The Pacific time zone is a double-edged sword. Cal and Arizona State host Northwestern and Wisconsin in what will be 9:30 p.m. kickoffs on the visitors' body clocks. On the other side of the coin is Stanford, who heads to West Point for a 9 a.m. PT kick on Sept. 14.
- We mentioned this in January when the schedule was originally announced, but bravo to the Pac-12 schedule makers for not making us choose between Oregon-Stanford and LSU-Alabama.
- For the first time in its three-year history, the Pac-12 Championship moves from Friday to Saturday and from Fox to ESPN.
- All times Pacific.
Here is what we know at this point:
Thursday, Aug. 29
Utah State at Utah - 5 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
USC at Hawaii - 8 p.m. - CBS Sports Network
Friday, Aug. 30
Northern Arizona at Arizona - 7 p.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Saturday, Aug. 31
Nicholls State at Oregon - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
Eastern Washington at Oregon State - 3 p.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Boise State at Washington - 7 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
Nevada at UCLA - 7 p.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Northwestern at California - 7:30 p.m. - ESPN2
Sunday, Sept. 1
Colorado State vs. Colorado (in Denver) - 3 p.m. - CBS Sports Network
Thursday, Sept. 5
Sacramento State at Arizona State - 7 p.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Saturday, Sept. 7
Weber State at Utah - 11 a.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Oregon at Virginia - 12:30 p.m. - ABC/ESPN2
Portland State at California - 2 p.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Central Arkansas at Colorado - 5 p.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Hawaii at Oregon State - 5 p.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Arizona at UNLV - 7:30 p.m. - CBS Sports Network
Washington State at USC - 7:30 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
San Jose State at Stanford - 8 p.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Saturday, Sept. 14
Stanford at Army - 9 a.m. - CBS Sports Network
Fresno State at Colorado - 11 a.m. - Pac-12 Networks
Tennessee at Oregon - 12:30 p.m. - ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
Washington vs. Illinois (in Chicago) - 3 p.m. - Big Ten Network
Ohio State at California - 4 p.m. - Fox
Oregon State at Utah - 7 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
Wisconsin at Arizona State - 7:30 p.m. - ESPN or ESPN2
UTSA at Arizona - TBD - Pac-12 Networks
Boston College at USC - TBD - Pac-12 Networks
Southern Utah at Washington State - TBD - Pac-12 Networks
Saturday, Sept. 21
Oregon State at San Diego State - 4:30 p.m. - CBS Sports Network
Saturday, Sept. 28
California at Oregon - TBD - Pac-12 Networks
Thursday, Oct. 3
UCLA at Utah - 7 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
Saturday, Oct. 5
Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (in Arlington, Texas) - 4:30 p.m. - NBC
Oregon at Colorado - TBD - Pac-12 Networks
Thursday, Oct. 10
Arizona at USC - 7:30 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
Saturday, Oct. 19
USC at Notre Dame - 4:30 p.m. - NBC
Thursday, Oct. 31
Arizona State at Washington State - 7:30 p.m. - ESPN
Friday, Nov. 1
USC at Oregon State - 6 p.m. - ESPN2
Thursday, Nov. 7
Oregon at Stanford - 6 p.m. - ESPN
Friday, Nov. 15
Washington at UCLA - 6 p.m. - ESPN2
Friday, Nov. 29
Washington State at Washington - 12:30 p.m. - Fox
Oregon State at Oregon - 4 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
Saturday, Nov. 30
Notre Dame at Stanford - TBD - Fox/Fox Sports 1
Saturday, Dec. 7
Pac-12 Championship - 4:45 or 5 p.m. - ABC or ESPN