Derek Dooley denies he offered to resign

It's not a secret that there is a lot of pressure on Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley to close the 2012 season in impressive fashion. After a 44-13 loss to Alabama on Saturday, Tennessee is 3-4 overall and 0-4 in SEC play. Dooley is 14-18 (4-14 in the SEC) in two and a half seasons as the head coach of the Volunteers.

This morning a report surfaced that Dooley offered to resign following Tennessee's loss to Kentucky last season. According to the report, Dooley offered his resignation with the condition that Tennessee honor his $5 million buyout. From our staffs knowledge of Dooley, we were highly skeptical of this report.

Dooley vehemently denied the report at his Monday press conference. 

"That's absurd," Dooley said on Monday. "I'd be a real dumbass to do something like that."

"I'm not upset that people are angry and screaming at the coach," Dooley continued. "You haven't been in this business if you don't expect otherwise. That's the way it is."

Watch Dooley talk about this below. He even throws in a good story about his high school coach to boot. (Video courtesy Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Kevin Wilson: "We're a play away"

Indiana (2-5, 0-3 Big Ten) stands mired in a five-game losing streak. But things aren't always as they appear, and Kevin Wilson feels the same way about where his team stands. Four of Indiana's five losses have come by 10 points combined. Despite the setbacks, Kevin Wilson remains upbeat about his team's future.

"We're a play away," said Wilson. "Making a one more third-down conversion, making one more stop, getting a touchdown instead of a field goal. It's just making a play. A year ago we needed a bunch of plays." 

The streak started with a 41-39 loss to Ball State. Despite outgaining the Cardinals by more than 100 yards, the Hoosiers lost when Ball State kicker Steven Schott hit a 42-yard field goal as time expired. 

Two weeks later, Indiana built a 27-14 halftime lead over Michigan State before the Spartans scored 17 unanswered points for in a 31-27 final. A week later the Hoosiers' staged a late rally from a 45-27 fourth-quarter deficit before falling in a 52-49 decision. 

Indiana lost its fifth-straight game on Saturday, 31-30 to Navy. The Hoosiers built a 30-21 lead before Navy scored 10 straight points in the game's final 5:30. 

"We're trying to build our team up because we're doing a lot of things winning teams do," Wilson continued. "We're going to get those W's. It's a process of the way we're working and the way we live our lives, and success is going to follow."

Indiana visits Illinois on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, BTN). 

The Scoop on stats - Week 8

 Last week was one of the most exciting weekends of college football to date. Two point conversions to decide games, and plenty of games going down to the wire. With only a handful of weeks left to go, we hope to see plenty more Saturdays like that.

Here's some stats that caught our eye over the weekend. Let us know if there's anything you've seen that is worthy of being included.

- In case you missed our note earlier, a Kansas high school quarterback rushed for 659 yards in a single game, which tops the rushing total for 10 FBS teams through at least six games.

- USC ran only 48 offensive plays, and scored 50 points on Saturday. On the flip side, Colorado ran 85 plays and scored just 6 points.

- As Zach Barnett points out (via Anthony Andro), the Big 12 featured more touchdowns (48) than punts (47) over the weekend.

- Over the past four games, Texas has given up 197 points and over 2,300 yards. In comparison, over the past 19 games, Alabama has given up 151 points and 3,474 yards.

- Florida is the first team since 2000 to put up 40 points while producing less than 200 yards of total offense.

- Alabama's AJ McCarron and Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron are the only two starting quarterbacks to have not thrown an interception so far this season.

- Thomas More College defensive back Zach Autenrieb set the D-III career record for interceptions over the weekend, picking off his 30th pass.

- Texas A&M has scored first in 12 straight games.

- Louisiana Tech ranks in the top ten nationally in passing offense (#8) and rushing touchdowns (#2).

- Air Force has still not allowed a sack; however they have only attempted 74 passes.

- New Mexico (95), Air Force (74) and Army (72) are the only four teams in the nation yet to reach 100 pass attempts. 

- Florida State is allowing just over 23% on third down conversions (29 conversions on 125 attempts).

- Three teams are coming out of their red zone trips with touchdowns 80% of the time or more. Lousiana Tech (85%), Texas (83%) and Louisville (80%) are the three teams that are the most efficient at scoring touchdowns in the red zone

- For running a ton of plays and airing the ball out a ton, it's surprising that not one Big 12 team is in the top twelve in passes defended. Interestingly enough, two teams from the Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan State), ACC (Florida State and North Carolina) and Pac 12 (Oregon, Stanford) are represented. Ohio State has defended the most passes in the country with 65, followed by Toledo, Utah State, Oregon, SMU, Louisiana Tech, Florida State, Michigan State, Stanford, Texas A&M, North Carolina and Nevada.

- Baylor has the highest fourth down conversion percentage of any team with 10 or more attempts. The Bears have converted on 10 of their 11 fourth down attempts (90.91%).

- Both SMU and Fresno State are taking one out of every three interceptions back to the house. Each team has 15 interceptions and 5 touchdowns, and SMU has done it with one less game.

- Only one team, Georgia Tech, has more than ten scrimmage plays of 50+ yards (11).


Pac-12 programs on the rise

This weekend Zach Barnett and I traveled to Arizona to see how football is played in the great state of Arizona. 

We arrived early in the day Thursday. After a quick lunch on Mill Ave. (more on this area later) we went to Oregon's team hotel to meet with their coaches. Two key takeaways from that meeting - first, it's a long day of waiting before heading to the stadium for a 6 p.m. ESPN game; and second, Oregon's coaches have a lot of confidence in this year's team. A third note that only Opps guys will appreciate - when I asked what one of the coaches what time they were going to step on the field, he pulled out a laminated business card size sheet that showed his group on the field at 3:59. Not 4 p.m.,  3:59. Hawk doesn't mess around.

We headed back to campus to check out the pre-game festivities. The pre-game scene outside of the stadium was a little lighter than anticipated, but given that this was a 6pm game on a "school day"...

The vibe on the field before the game was awesome. Todd Graham and his staff have several huge speakers set up on the field blaring music certain to get their players excited. Every player was bouncing around, big smiles and clearly ready to roll. 

Down on the Oregon side I witnessed something that I thought was pretty cool. As the players finished up pre-game action on the field and headed to the locker room with Chip Kelly, all of the assistants got together to shake hands, encourage each other to have a great game and to just take a minute to enjoy the moment. This is what these guys work for. Enjoy it, remember it, embrace it, because too soon the season will be behind you. 

Five minutes before the game I looked up and the stadium was still less than half full...five minutes into the game the place was packed and loud (unfortunately those arriving five minutes late had missed the first 17 touchdowns). The student section was loud. Question for the Pac-12: Why are so many student sections located behind the home team's bench? Crazy. 

On the field, injuries slowed Arizona State after losing their best defensive player on the first play of the game. Slow and Oregon don't mix well. Oregon is fast and when their quarterback is making good decisions on the read they are tough to stop. Chip Kelly, Mark Helfrich, Nick Aliotti and the rest of the staff have their guys playing at a high level. 

After the game we stopped by Mill Ave. once again to enjoy post-game ASU style. Did. Not. Disappoint.

Friday we went in to see the Arizona State coaches. We spoke separately with AD Steve Patterson and Todd Graham who both said about the same thing, "Didn't play our best but the program is getting better. Need to continue to add depth and talent, but we're still in this battle for the south." Todd Graham left me with this nugget, "I sure hope we get another crack at them in 5 weeks." 


ASU's team room has a fresh design

Friday afternoon Mike from Overtime Software and I headed down to Tucson. Upon entering the football offices we were promptly greeted by Rich Rod. Rich is one of the head coaches I most enjoy visiting with. When he speaks with you he's completely engaged with you. He remembers every time you have met and is truly interested in you. He's the exact same way with his staff and his players. This group is bought in to what Rich is doing.

LSU and Texas A&M kicked off at 9am local time, which at first seemed so odd but then seemed so wonderful. West coast life ain't so bad. Mike and I were fairly engaged with the game at the hotel's pool bar (yes, that's Pac-12 living) and from time to time might have raised our voices at the TV. Pretty sure most of the others at the pool thought we were crazy; one even said, you guys must be from the South. Yes, yes we are. 

We arrived on "The Mall" at Arizona around 2pm and found a delightful atmosphere. A nicely defined and orchestrated tailgate scene was enjoyed for several hours. I had the pleasure of meeting countless high school coaches from the area and enjoyed talking ball with them. Each had very positive feedback regarding the direction that both Arizona and Arizona State's programs are headed. Overall, we encountered nothing hospitality and saw a vibrant scene. 

We joined the Arizona staff on their sideline for the game. Rich-Rod-SidelineI took turns standing by Jeff Casteel (and David Lockwood) as they called the defense and watching Rich Rod and his guys call the offense. Most of this staff has been together for quite some time and this is truly a sideline that is all on the same page. They move fast and make changes on the fly but I rarely saw any sort of communication issues between the staff or the players. I like how these guys work as a staff. 

After the game I had the pleasure of meeting several of the coaches families on the field. Arizona is very much a family atmosphere both within the program and university wide. 

University Blvd./Main Gate Square was enjoyable after the game with fans from several Pac-12 programs in attendance. We liked the crowd upstairs at Gentle Ben's. 

Both Arizona and ASU appear headed to have their programs headed in the right direction. When Rich Rod was hired I immediately thought it was a great hire by Greg Byrne and my visits there since have reinforced that belief. Upon hearing of Todd Graham's hiring at ASU I didn't honestly know how that would work out but after this visit and spending time with he and his staff and the AD I feel very confident that this program is in good hands and is headed in a good direction. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch these two teams play football for a long time. Football in this state is on the rise. One thing to watch for...if either (or both) of these teams can improve their ability to pull the right recruits from Texas and/or Southern California look out. I like the future of football in the Pac-12.

Last note, I cracked a smile when late in the game I turned around and noticed where Arizona had UW's band. Take a look at this picture...way, way up top in far, far right corner. Nice.



Video from Toledo: "The Quest for Greatness"

The Quest for Greatness - 2012 Toledo Rockets from Toledo Football Rockets Video on Vimeo.


First year Toledo head coach Matt Campbell has done a terrific job of  winning close ball games through the early part of the year, and has the Rockets picking up this season right where they left off in 2011. Their largest margin of victory through the first eight games is 20 points.

After finishing last season 9-4, the Rockets have gotten off to a fast start, currently sitting at 7-1, and 4-0 in MAC play, with their lone loss of the season coming to Arizona in an overtime thriller in the season opener (24-17). 

Here's a well done video that highlights the first half of the Rockets season, and one that they hope is the first step in their "Quest for Greatness." Very well produced, and really gets the message across without using more than a few words.

This weekend, Toledo takes on Buffalo on the road, and then comes back to Ohio for a night game against Ball State before rounding out the season with a big test at Northern Illinois and then wrapping up the regular season at home against Akron.


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