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Newest Heisman promotion for Manti Te'o

Vegas may have Johnny Manziel as the odds on favorite to win the Heisman, but the guy that has captured the hearts and minds of the American public this season remains to be Manti Te'o.

I can't remember the last time a player has overcome the types of obstacles that Te'o has this season (including the death of his girlfriend and grandmother in a 24 hour period), while still having a level of production and consistency that rivals some of elite defensive players of recent college football memory.

Off the field, Manti epitimizes everything that the Heisman stands for. Voters won't have an easy decision.

Take a look at Notre Dame's newest Heisman promotion for Te'o. Take notice of the clever hashtag.

Wheaton makes a strong case for "small quarterback U"

Coming into this season, the Wheaton College (D-III - IL) offensive staff had a unique challenge in front of them. They had to tmake a decision between two two highly successful, and game tested quarterbacks.

Jordan Roberts won the job over Garrett Meador back in 2010 when they were both sophomores, and led the Thunder to a playoff berth and 10-2 record, while also setting a new school record for completion percentage (66.4%)

Had Roberts stayed healthy, it would have been very difficult to beat out. But during a preseason scrimmage, he suffered a season ending injury and Meador stepped in and ran with the opportunity. In his first season as a starter, Meador led Wheaton to an 8-2 record and was named the conference and North Region player of the year, and also finished just behind Roberts' completion percentage record.

So when both of their senior years rolled around this season, head coach Mike Swider and offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Joe Davis had quite the decision on their hands. They found themselves having to chose between two proven signal callers, which is ironically a situation that many FBS coordinators and head coaches wish that they had to make heading into their season opener (minus the obnoxious media questions everyday of course).

Both of those guys had opportunities to play in bigger environments coming out of high school (Roberts was a two time All-State QB, and Meador was a national player of the year and All-American), but the unique faith based environment that Wheaton offers often appeals to big time players with strong religious convictions.

Because of their on the field success combined with that unique religious environment, the staff at Wheaton is able to be very selective when recruiting. In many cases, they're going to get the cream of the crop and their far-reaching footprint has allowed them to be able to recruit at a national level for the past several years. Once players get on campus, the staff does a great job of developing them physically, mentally and spiritually, and that combination usually leads to having deep junior and senior classes which always pays off on Saturdays.

As the graphic below illustrates, Wheaton has had a rich history of D-III quarterbacks, and it's hard to think of another small college program that has seen this kind of sustained success. Mount Union has recently become known for having their receivers make a splash in the NFL, so maybe Wheaton is starting to head down that same road for their quarterbacks.

Only time will tell, but they seem to have a lot of the pieces in place. An appealing college environment, a coaching staff hungry for success for their players both on and off the field (coach Swider has been there 17 years as the head coach and has spent 28 years on staff). To top it all of, not only do they have a room full of players that many higher level schools were fighting over, but the players are committed to being there for the long haul and are men of character. 

Regardless of where you're coaching, that's a very good formula for success.

Take a look at the graphic below and come to your own conclusion.

 

Thursday TV - Football is back on tonight

Finally, after a few nights without football, we'll have Louisville at Rutgers and New Orleans and Atlanta tonight followed by some conference title games tomorrow.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

New Orleans at Atlanta - 8:20 - NFL Network

College:

Louisville at Rutgers - 7:30 - ESPN

High School:

No games

Les Miles to remain on the bayou

Les Miles got a contract extension and raise from LSU on Wednesday. In the wake of an SEC championship in 2011 and a 10-2 regular-season in 2012, that LSU decided to reward Miles for a job well done is no surprise. But one can not ignore the timing, just one day after reports surfaced that Arkansas was prepared to offer Miles a five-year, $27 million contract to move one state to the north. It just wouldn't be Les Miles if there wasn't an oddball factor complicanting things.

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva stated that the Arkansas report had nothing to do with Miles' extension although, to his credit, he also said that he knows the media won't believe him. 

"It has been my plan all along to give (Miles) a raise, and that's what we're doing," Alleva said. 

LSU won't win the SEC this season, but Alleva is most pleased with Miles' ability to keep the Tigers in contention year after year. 

"It's not always about winning championships," he said. "It's about being in the hunt to win championships."

Miles, whose 85-20 record makes him the fifth-winningest coach in SEC history, said that he has spoken with Araknsas AD Jeff Long, but not to the extent that was reported. According to Miles, there conversations were preliminary and "fell short of major interests." Miles denied he was offered the five-year, $27 million deal. Miles said he talked with Long to recommend other candidates for the Razorbacks' vacant head coaching position. The two worked together at Michigan where Miles was an assistant coach and Long was an assistant athletics director.

Speaking of recommending other candidates, Miles was asked about LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis' candidacy for the Tennessee head coaching job. 

"John Chavis is a tremendous coach who has a good overview of what a successful program looks like," said Miles. "If Tennessee was looking for a quality candidate, John Chavis should be one."

Miles' extension, which will last seven years, has not disclosed financial terms as, per the press release, they are still being negotiated. The USA Today coaching salary database lists Miles' salary at over $3.85 million.

Miles said that he gets embarrassed discussing money but offered, "I'm fortunate to have an occupation that pays a tremendous market value."

More than anything, he's glad that his family will be in Baton Rouge for the long haul, saying, "I think home is what we call this place."

 

Inside the Illini's new equipment truck

On occasion, we like to show some love to the equipment guys out there that make our jobs as coaches much easier. This video from Illinois highlighting their new equipment truck (loaded with all the right features) was definitely worthy of some attention.

The clip has some good footage inside of the design of the new trailer (which took 8-10 months to design), as well as a tour of the cab which includes bunk beds for the long trips and some insight into how they set up their schedule for road trips.

Interesting stuff.

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