SEC network finds its voice: Paul Finebaum
Less than three weeks after its birth, the SEC Network has already secured its first chunk of programming. After taking a sabbatical from the airwaves, radio lightning rod Paul Finebaum will hop aboard ESPN for a multi-platform role with the network.
"It would be the understatement of my life to say I wasn't thrilled," Finebaum told the Wall Street Journal. "It is incredibly exciting to be part of a new adventure, particularly one that involves the premiere brand in sports along with the pre-eminent conference in sports."
Finebaum will continue to host his radio show, which will simulcast on SEC Network to help kill the mid-day programming wasteland that often beffudels 24-hour sports networks. He will also make 100 television appearances a year on ESPN's various college football channels. Finebaum and ESPN are shy on specifics at this point, but one would think that means College Football Live, ESPNU's The Experts and even College GameDay.
It will be interesting to see if Finebaum's "stir the pot and let callers handle the rest" format will migrate with him to the SEC Network studios in Charlotte. We'll get an answer starting Aug. 1, when Finebaum joins the ESPN roster.
"What is striking is he is such a great moderator-slash-provocateur of the emotion that lives within the fan base," said Justin Connolly, the senior vice president for programming who will oversee the SEC Network for ESPN. "To be able to bring him aboard onto the team here is significant."
Translation: college football, meet your very own official Worldwide Leader-branded Skip Bayless.
Mic'd up with Wazzu outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons
Washington State receivers coach Dennis Simmons worked with Mike Leach for ten seasons at Texas Tech, helping to coach up some of the most prolific passing attacks in college football.
With production from guys like Michael Crabtree on his resume, bringing Simmons on board at Washington State was a no brainer for Leach. Last season his unit didn't disappoint, racking up the second most receiving yards in school history and they ranked 9th nationally in passing yards per game. Simmons managed all this with four of the Cougar's top five receivers as underclassmen...including three freshman.
Simmons has also coached the outside receivers at East Carolina, and also served as Leach's chief of staff prior to his on the field promotion. It's safe to say that the Air Raid system is in his blood.
In this mic'd up session with Coach Simmons, filmed during the tail end of spring ball, you'll get treated to some quality coaching points and gain some insight into why Simmons is such an instrumental member of Leach's staff.
Super Bowls 50 and 51 are awarded to....
In news that will surprise no one, the heavily-anticipated 50th Super Bowl was awarded to the Bay Area by NFL owners at the league's annual meetings in Boston on Tuesday.
Super Bowl L will be held at the newly-christened Levi's Stadium, scheduled to open in 2014 at a price tag of $1.2 billion. Located in Santa Clara, the game will be the Bay Area's first Super Bowl since Stanford Stadium hosted Super Bowl XIX in 1985, a 38-16 San Francisco win over Miami. Super Bowl L is tentatively set for Feb. 7, 2016.
“The Bay Area has been waiting for a (title) game since 1985. We have a stadium now … we are just thrilled and couldn’t be happier about this,” said Daniel Lurie, a leader of the San Francisco bid, told the Associated Press.
“We are going to get to highlight the best the Bay Area has to offer.”
Speaking of Miami, the South Florida area lost bids for both Super Bowl L and Super Bowl LI on Tuesday. The 51st Super Bowl was instead awarded to Reliant Stadium in Houston. It will be the third Super Bowl for Houston and second in Reliant Stadium. The venue previously hosted New England's 32-29 win over Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. Super Bowl LI is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 5, 2017.
This season's big game, Super Bowl XLVIII, will be held Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium, in the New York metropolitan area's first shot at hosting the Super Bowl. The following season will conclude with Super Bowl XLIX (tentatively set for Feb. 1, 2015) at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. It will mark the greater Phoenix area's third Super Bowl and first since the New York Giants' 17-14 stunner over New England in Super Bowl XLII in 2008.
Florida State's Orange Bowl rings are nice
Short of winning a national title, Florida State's 2012 season was just about as good of a year an ACC team can produce.
The losses to N.C. State and Florida hurt, but Jimbo Fisher's crew did something the Seminoles hadn't done in a long time - win the ACC and take home the Orange Bowl trophy. In fact, the 'Noles 1999 national championship squad was the last Florida State team to accomplish the ACC title-BCS win combination to close the season.
While Fisher and his program have more than moved on to prepare for the 2013 season, surely we can all take 10 seconds to admire the hardware won by the 2012 squad.
Video: Step inside one of the premier programs in FCS
The folks in Huntsville, Texas, are wearing orange and blue smiles around town these days. For the fourth time in school history, Sam Houston State claimed the Southland Conference's Commissioner's Cup as the league's top program for the 2012-13 athletic year.
“This is a huge accomplishment for our department,” Williams said. “The goal every season is to be the top program in the Southland. Across the board, every team had great performances on the field and this truly is a department award.”
The Bearkats won a total of four conference titles and placed among the Southland's top three in 11 different sports. While all sports are succeeding at Sam Houston State, the football team has clearly been the flagship of the Bearkats' armada.
Willie Fritz's squad has compiled a 25-5 record over the past two seasons, claiming back-to-back Southland titles and appearing in the school's first FCS National Championship games. In fact, over the past two campaigns, Sam Houston State has lost to only one FCS opponent not named North Dakota State, with 11 of their 25 victories coming by 30 points or more.
As Sam Houston State rings in its terrific year, the folks at Blackwater Media talked to some of the principles of the Bearkats' program to find the keys to their success.
San Jose State is aiming for a $38 million stadium renovation
Later today the California State University board of trustees is expected to voted on a proposed $38 million renovation of Spartan Stadium to help bring facilities up to par with the Mountain West.
The price tag, which is actually listed at about $38,577,000, is expected to paid mostly through private donations and half of the funds have already been raised, according to the Mercury News.
The project, which will be named the Vermeil-Walsh Athletic Complex, includes a new 61,000-square foot building in the north end zone that will house new locker rooms, coaching offices, meeting rooms, and a hall of fame. The facility will also house athletic training space and an auditorium.
If approved, the plan calls for 1,700 seats would be removed from the north end zone and 1,350 premium seats would be added in their place along with a new entry plaza and ticket windows on the west side of the stadium.
As with any program, the long term success depends on attracting the right coaches and recruits, and if this renovation plans passes $38 million will go a long way to put San Jose State on the right track to prolonged success. New head coach Ron Carragher and his staff have to be excited about their future in the new look Mountain West Conference.
Update: The plan was approved on Tuesday afternoon. Thanks to the San Jose Mercury-News, some (admittedly small) renderings can be seen below.
Brian Kelly: 'I'm always about the player over the play'
As Notre Dame closed spring ball last month, Fighting Irish head coach held a town hall meeting, which just so happened to be broadcast nationally on Sirius/XM radio. Such is life as the Notre Dame head coach. But beyond that, Fighting Irish fans got a chance to pick the brain of their favorite head coach, and one fan asked Kelly how he balances coaching to his roster versus coaching from his playbook.
"I'm always about the player over the play," Kelly said. "I've never been hung up on, 'Well I've got to run this play because I've always run this play.' If I've got Tim Brown, he's not going to go block the safety every down. I'm going to get him the ball."
Evidence of that can be seen in the way the Notre Dame offense changed with the insertion of sophomore quarterback Everett Golson into the starting lineup. Golson threw for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns and added 298 rushing yards and six scores, one of four rushers near or above the 300 yard mark, helping the Fighting Irish boost their rushing totals by more than 30 yards per game over last season.
"To answer your question, I've got enough of a library and enough experience that we're always going to set the offense to those playmakers. I think that's important in college football. These guys graduate and they leave, you've got new guys and we're not going to do what we did with Tyler Eifert. We're going to do some different things that are going to feature some other players. You've got a sense of what you want to do offensively and it always starts with the quarterback, and then the featuring of particular players is more important to me than any one particular play."
As tight end Eifert and running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood prepare for life after South Bend, expect the 2013 incarnation of the Fighting Irish offense to look as different from last season as the 2012 group did from 2011. As Kelly noted, adjusting your play calls to your playmakers certainly becomes a bit easier when you've got nearly a quarter century of head coaching experience.
Classy move by Central Michigan's Dan Enos and his staff
Every once in a while something happens in the realm of college football that makes us all realize that football is just a game in the big picture of life.
One of those moments came recently when Carrollton HS (MI) running back, and Central Michigan commit, Derrick Nash went to the doctor thinking he had the flu, or worst case scenario maybe a bout of mono.
Turns out the fatigue and nausea were effects from something far worse. Nash was ultimately diagnosed with leukemia. The diagnosis means that he won't be able to attend his senior prom, or walk across the stage for graduation, but one thing that will still be there for him is his scholarship offer to play for Dan Enos and his staff at Central Michigan.
"Sometimes when you think you have everything planned, God throws in a detour," Enos told MLive.com. “He’s going to come out of this stronger. He’s going to come out of this tougher.”
“One of the first things we told him was that he was going to play football again and that he was going to play for CMU. Keeping him on scholarship was a no-brainer. It’s the right thing to do. That’s the philosophy from the president through the athletic director to the coaches. You do the right thing.”
Chemotherapy treatments will keep Nash out of football for this season, but he expects to receive a medical redshirt and prepare working for the 2014 season as soon as he's able.
"There is a reason you go through tough things," Enos added. “I can’t wait until he can run onto our field before a game wearing a CMU uniform. That’ll be a great moment for a lot of people.”
Props to coach Enos and the Central Michigan staff for doing the right thing and keeping the player's best interest in mind.