Great gesture from UMass for Boston Marathon runners
There were many, many, many great injustices done at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Around No. 1,478 on that list is that scores of runners were not given a chance to complete the journey they worked so hard to prepare for, and the Massachusetts football program is inviting all Boston Marathon runners a chance to rectify that at their spring game on Saturday.
"Competing in the Boston Marathon is a lifetime achievement and something to be celebrated," UMass coach Charley Molnar said in a university release. "These runners deserve to finish what they started and we hope we can provide that for them. We want them to have that feeling of coming down the home stretch to the sound of applause and to have their friends and families greet them as they cross the line."
The Minutemen are inviting any and all runners to take a lap around McGuirk Alumni Stadium, cross a finish line set up at midfield of the stadium and have their name shown on the video board. Each runner will also receive a gift from the university, and the team will wear commemorative Boston Marathon stickers on their helmets to recognize Monday's victims, the first responders on the scene and the runners themselves.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were at the Boston Marathon and those who worked to help people in need in the aftermath of this terrible event," the school said in a statement on Monday.
Sports are at their best when they rise up as a vehicle for community healing, as the crowd at the Boston Bruins game so vividly demonstrated Wednesday night. The UMass football program will take a turn to do its part on Saturday afternoon.
100 letters to a single recruit in one day. Does it work?
Mail has been all the rage in college football recruiting lately. Whether its through bombarding recruits with sheer volume of mail or being strategically brief, snail mail has made waves lately in the world of recruiting.
Other than attempting to single-handily save the U.S. Postal Service from bankruptcy, it turns out the "send a recruit 100 letters a day" trend has a strategic place in college football. USA Today interviewed coaches and recruits caught up in the phenomenon to find out A) why schools do this and B) if it actually works.
Like anything else, coaches are strategic about whose mailman they choose to burden with a day of triple-digit mail deposits.
"You're going to hit the kids that are hitting social media," said Chris Spognardi, assistant to Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones and one of the leaders of the program's newfound effort to widen its social media impact.
"A certain kid from Georgia: We know he's a very active social-media guy on Twitter," Spognardi said. "So when we sent him the 102 letters we knew within days that he's going to send these out – send out pictures. Every single time we've done it, it's hit the media. ... One, you want them to start saying, 'Hey, I want to get the 102 letters.' The next thing you know, they get it, and they're going to post it. And the next thing you know, it gets legs and takes off."
If sent to the right recruit, 100 letters to one kid can give schools a better bang for their 44 cent stamp than 100 letters to 100 kids.
"Going viral, obviously, anything that you do, you want to try to create content that's going to get people to click that button, click the retweet button. And that's really how the brand spreads and that's how you grow your fan base and your audience," said USC director of social media Jordan Moore.
Ultimately, this strategy is only an effective use of time if it actually works. So, let's go straight to the source.
"It definitely makes an impact on me," said Conner High School quarterback Drew Baker, a recipient of 115 Kentucky letters in one day. "I mean, it's just so memorable and it really makes me feel special."
"When you're allowed to go into the homes, a lot of kids' places, it looks like Geoff Collins did the wallpaper in their rooms," said Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, author of the infamous "You're a baller" letter. "My mailings or drawings or whatever nonsense I might be sending at the time, all (are) on their fridge."
How Cam Cameron's experiences shape the way he coaches
Cam Cameron has lived a very interesting life. He played football and basketball at Indiana. He got his start in coaching at Michigan. He's been an assistant with the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and now LSU, and a head coach at Indiana and with the Miami Dolphins.
However, as Andy Staples wrote for SI.com, the life of the guy coached by Lee Corso and Bob Knight, who coached under Bo Schembechler, Marty Schottenheimer and John Harbaugh, and coached Antwaan Randle El, LaDanian Tomlinson and Drew Brees is actually ten times more interesting than you think.
Growing up in Indiana in the 1970's, it turns out, put Cameron at the crossroads of greatness. He was a contemporary of former New York Yankees great Don Mattingly, and he played pick-up basketball at Indiana State with Larry Bird. Crossing paths with each of them left him with lessons that influence his coaching to this day.
For instance, Bird taught him the value of sharing the ball. "All you had to do was keep them involved, and they'd run through a wall for you," Cameron said. "Football is hard. Guys don't selfishly want the ball. But they want some reward for all their hard work."
Ten-year Major League pitcher Jim Abbott, born without a right arm but played quarterback in high school, also taught Cameron a lesson he imparts on every quarterback he mentors. "Playing one-handed, they had no center-quarterback exchange issues," Cameron said. "So I showed it to those guys to make the point that you don't need two hands to take the snap from center."
To read the full story on how Cameron uses the lessons he's picked up at the intersection of a truly remarkable life, please click here.
Photos: New uniforms and helmets for UConn
It's that time of year in college football, and UConn has drummed up some nice chatter with the introduction of new uniforms.
To go along with the department wide logo and font, the new unis also feature a new helmet design and a sleeker, more modern design for the uniforms. We'll post more pictures as they become available.
10 Questions With: Washington State head coach Mike Leach
Mike Leach is a man that needs no introduction. He was an early-adapter of a style of play that has now permeated football at every level of the game, and his personality has been a nation-wide fascination for more than a decade. After spending two years off the sidelines, Leach took over a Washington State program looking for its first winning season since 2003. The Cougars went 3-9 in Leach's debut campaign, but with close calls against Pac-12 division winenrs Stanford and UCLA and a season-ending upset of Washington, plus a passing offense that ranked in the top 10 nationally and a defensive front that placed among college football's top dozen in sacks and tackles for a loss, good times are on the horizon.
We caught up with Leach to talk about the best way for out-of-work coaches to use their time between jobs, the similarities he has with a well-known option coach and which foreign country he likens to Pullman in the latest installment of 10 Questions With. To review other editions of 10 Questions With, please click here.
1) For a coach taking a year away for the game, what do you think is the best use of their time?
Staying close to the game is the biggest thing, I think. In my case, I did three things that kept me constantly thinking about football. I broadcast for CBS, I wrote a book and was on the radio every day so that kept me pretty active.
2) Your teams have always had a good track record of graduating players. Do you think that's been overlooked when people talk about your career?
I imagine. We've led the nation of all public institutions several times. This last winter we had the highest GPA for football in the history of Washington State.
3) Though your styles of attack may have different modes of attack on the surface, we've noticed that you have a lot in common with Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. Is that something you've noticed as well?
I think one of the things that's key to that is that, in both cases, we make sure everybody touches the football and we attack the whole field. If you've seen what he does, there's kind of a false point of view. Clearly the wishbone attacks sideline-to-sideline really well, probably better than we do although we're pretty good sideline-to-sideline. But he goes downfield more than you think when you consider the transition from that triple option. They are pushing it upfield as they go. But the biggest thing we have in common is we make sure everybody touches the football.
4) How much film study do you devote to upcoming opponents considering your offense is your offense and isn't going to change much no matter what an opponent throws at you?
I'll watch every team they've played once and if there's not much in common I'll watch it fast. The less they have in common with us, the faster it'll be. And we'll break down several games and make up cut-ups, down and distance, situational, we'll pore over that. I do watch a lot of film.
5) Are there any defensive coordinators in particular that gave you trouble last season?
All defenses present their problems, and then you attack and address them. Typically after a game the evaluation tends to be more what we did and how we could have improved our game rather than the opposing defense because you don't have any control over what they do, so you try to make your side of the ball and your product the best you can. Talented players are a little more troublesome than defensive schemes.
6) How important was it for your program to close last year with that win over Washington?
We were on the brink of one of those all season long. We played Oregon well for two and a half quarters. We outplayed Stanford and UCLA, should have beat both of them. (We had) more yards and all that stuff, lost to them by a touchdown. A game like that, we were on the brink of it all year, we just finally had one. That's really key to springboarding us into the offseason.
7) How long did it take for your roster to buy in to you and your coaching staff?
First of all, our young guys had a lot of energy and enthusiasm. They have a vision of doing big things and being successful. There is a group that, I don't know, you can call it what you want, had gotten beat down by the lack of success or they were maybe the kind of guys to begin with that just didn't necessarily love football. It was okay, they're nice people but just not really pushing the wheel as far as expecting success, dedicating themselves to the offseason. We have had a certain addition by subtraction.
8) What will define a successful season for you this fall?
Play the best you can. Steady improvement and do the best you can.
9) What is more gratifying, seeing your former assistants move up in the coaching ranks or seeing your former players get into coaching and have success?
Both. A little of both. I'm happy for them. I'm excited for all of them. I spend a lot more time on focusing on the team I'm coaching, though.
10) You've had quite the variety in living locations lately between Lubbock, Key West and Pullman. Have you enjoyed the variety?
I think the variety is good. What's great about here is it's a true college town, it's not one that just talks about being a college town. It's one where there's a real closeness about the student body. It's a gorgeous spot, rolling green hills and everywhere here has got a view because of the hills. It's funny, it's almost a cross between the Rocky Mountains and England, you know? It's real pretty and we're close to some of the prettiest country on the entire continent.
What a drone was doing at Tennessee's practice yesterday?
As Tennessee conducted a spring practice on Wednesday, onlookers took note of a drone object hovering above the field filming the Vols as they worked.
A report from VolQuest.com cites the drone's purpose as gathering film for an upcoming television special.
Below is a video clip taken by Tennessee beat writer Evan Woodbery.
The drone getting warmed up. vine.co/v/bUAta0rlwZa— Evan Woodbery (@TennesseeBeat) April 18, 2013
#FearTheFrog hype video
TCU recently released the following 2013 hype video, which is very well put together.
The Horned Frogs will kick off the season in the Cowboy Classic against LSU on August 31st, so there is no shortage of excitement down in Fort Worth in the foreseeable future, but just in case, this video will get the blood pumping.
Outstanding hype video from San Diego
In the wide landscape of college football in California, perhaps the state's biggest hidden gem is the program at San Diego. Playing in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League in FCS, the Toreros have enjoyed eight winning seasons since 2001 while winning or sharing five PFL titles over that span. On top of that, the prorgram's last two head coaches are Jim Harbaugh and newly-hired San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher.
That tradition of winning, plus a top-flight education (ranked among the top 100 American universities by U.S. News & World Report) with a location inside one of America's best cities, give the Toreros a lot to offer. But how does the program pique the interest of a recruit that doesn't know about any of that? Enter this video, created by USD alum Tim Lynch.
If you're a high-schooler being recruited by San Diego, I don't know how you could not want to know more about the program after watching this video. Honestly, if the Oscars created a "Best Football Hype Video - Short" category, this would have to be a nominee. It's that good.