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9 years without a coaching change

Oregon is the only FBS program without a change within it's coaching staff since 2009. Tough profession.

Up in East Lansing though, Michigan State's defensive staff has been able to stick together since 2003, when Mark Dantonio assembled them after being introduced as the head coach at Cincinnati. Going into this season, the staff has been together an impressive 9 seasons. That's unheard of.

In the video below Dantonio explains that the continuity on the staff has allowed them to take the team to new heights. Also, having the defensive staff stick together for so long has allowed them to try out some different things as spring ball has progressed as well.

Keeping the same staff together on the defensive side of the ball has helped them put together back to back 11 win seasons and rank in the top 10 nationally in most every major defensive category (#7 in sacks, #6 in total defense, #9 in rushing defense, #10 in scoring defense).

The Spartans will be put to the test, especially defensively, in their season openers the next few seasons. They'll open up with Boise State this year and next, followed by their season opener against Oregon the following two seasons.




Oregon Authentic

Everyone knows that Oregon and Nike have a fairly close relationship. In fact, we've heard one coach refer to the University as "Nike's test lab in Eugene". Unquestionably, Oregon strolls out more uniform combos than any other football team in the country (at any level). So, have you ever wondered what happens to all of those Oregon jerseys / pants / lids once they have moved on to the next set?

Well, the Oregon athletic staff had a creative idea to help turn that "used" (which they wisely have up-sold as "authentic") equipment into very real fresh dollars for the department.  

Yesterday Oregon launched a new website, OregonAuthentic.com. The website will auction off things such as game-worn jerseys, helmets, cleats, etc. from all sports.

Craig Pintens, Oregon’s Senior Associate AD for Marketing and PR, announced the launch of the site via twitter (see tweet above).

Pintens a few hours later went on to tweet, “Crazy to think every item in http://oregonauthentic.com started at $1...”

It certainly is crazy, considering the jersey set that was worn vs. LSU last season has a current bid of $932, less than a day after the website launched. At that same time, a game-worn LaMichael James jersey (pictured) is pushing $700.Screen Shot_2012-04-25_at_6.12.49_AM

This idea wouldn't work for every team. First, you have to have the "authentic" inventory; and most programs reuse those things for a few seasons. Oregon’s well-documented history with Nike allows them to have a large quantity of things to auction off. This serves them a dual purpose of raising money for the athletic department and cleaning out the crowded equipment room to make space for new gear.

We think this is a great idea for Oregon and we hope it generates some more novel ideas within other athletic departments across the country. We saw that Pintens shared some love with Row27 last night via twitter for their excellent work in designing and building the site. Row27 is a marketing / creative firm that is doing some very cool things for athletic programs across the country. 




Georgia Southern's plan to move to FBS

Georgia Southern has started to put their five phase plan in motion to go from an FCS member to a full fledged member of the FBS.

The move, which would undoubtedly gain a ton of additional national exposure for football on television, is aimed to help the University “move from a regional university to a national university,” and keeping their current coaching staff intact as much as possible.

As the Statesboro Herald explains, the plan to move to the Football Bowl Subdivision, also called the "Soaring to Victory Campaign" has been split into five phases; Phase I: “Stabilizing the Program” ($15.5 million); Phase II: “Enhancing The Student Athlete Experience” ($2.85 million); Phase III: “Upgrading Athletic Facilities” ($7.5 million); Phase IV: “Improving the Fan Experience” ($10.5 million) and Phase V: “Expanding the Technology Infrastructure ($275,000). Note from FootballScoop> That $275k for Technology Infrastructure seems a little light.

Phase I will focus on paying coaches in all sports at or above the Southern Conference median salary. Athletic Foundation President John Mulherin explained “There’s no reason Georgia Southern should be the training ground for good, young coaches. If you've got a good, young coach, you want to keep them.”

Right now the operating athletic budget at the University is about $12 million. In order to rank amongst the bottom FBS schools they will need to come up with a minimum of $4.4 million just to cover everything from travel expenses to the additional 22 scholarships. Their budget right now ranks them 95th out of 125 other fellow FCS schools.

Amongst the other changes are increasing the seating capacity by 6,300 seats, and adding a 57,000 square foot football ops building to improve the current facilities. “We need the very best facilities so we can to do the very best job we can, and that’s why this Football Operations Center is so important for us, and that’s important for us whether we decide to move anywhere or not. Our locker room is atrocious. It’s embarrassing. It’s so embarrassing we don’t even take our recruits to show them. It’s awful, by any standard. It’s just awful. It’s rusted out. It’s dim. It’s dark. I wouldn't want to take my mother in there, that’s for sure. I think we’re doing our players a huge disservice. And that’s not our fault. We've just not had the resources to do something with that.” University President Brooks Keel explained.

 




Willie Taggart's message to season ticket holders

Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart sent a letter out to season ticket holders recently, with a specific mission enclosed.

The mission had a few well defined objectives. First to re-energize the fan base who didn't think they could succeed in major college football, and secondly, to get more people at the games and out tailgating on Saturdays.

The full letter can be read below.

Season ticket holders:

I know that you all are already "true believers," and you already know that crucial next step that I talked about depends on our fan base, so what I want to do today is DEPUTIZE each one of you, and SEND YOU OUT ON A MISSION. This is Coach Taggart's CALL TO ACTION, and here's what I want to do.

First, we know some of our most enthusiastic fans from the past lost some of that enthusiasm because they honestly doubted we could succeed in major college football. I am asking you to get them back, get them fired up, and get them to buy their season tickets.

Then, there are bunches of new prospective fans out there that may be friends of yours. They may follow us through the  and really wish us well, but they don't attend games. With a little encouragement from you many would become Hilltopper faithful and join the tailgate parties on Saturdays.

Finally, almost all of you are connected in some influential way to our local , restaurants, civic clubs, churches, and the media. With your leadership, and your influence, and with the cooperation of our athletics department, all of those groups can become active participants in the great spectacle of major college football. If you can get them connected, we will find ways to get them involved.

So, in your role as Coach Taggart's special deputy, your specific mission is to get five new fans to buy season tickets. If you can't get five, then get two. If you really try to get two and cannot, then I will be proud of you if you can bring one new Hilltopper fan into the fold. Just think what it will mean to our , in addition to the lift it will give our team on the field:

-Bring national recognition to our university

-Increase revenues and enhance the overall growth of our university

-Stimulate  efforts - for students as well as for student athletes

-Help out our team into conversation for bowl bids and possible conference realignment

-Economic stimulus to the community and the entire area

-Source of pleasure and pride - enriching experiences for all of us

Now, don't see this as a job. There can be great satisfaction in pulling people together in a worthy cause, and great fun in coming together to enjoy the success that follows. Join us as we chase greatness, and then share with us excellence that we intend to catch. Evey time you recruit a new Hilltopper fan, give me a call. If I'm not in the office, give the information to my Administrative Assistant and I'll get back to you. I will report your name and contribution to our football team, and I guarantee you that it will make us play a little bit harder. Honestly, it will make a real difference.

Consider yourself deputized, and consider this Coach Taggart's call to action. Let me thank you all once again for your support of WKU Football.

GO TOPS!!!"

Willie Taggart Head Coach

We also noticed a video that echoed the same message. The video guys did a great job pairing up some great workout footage with a ton of quality motivational quotes.

The video wraps up with a simple message saying "7-5 wasn't good enough. 15,000 fans a game wasn't good enough. This time we won't leave it up to bowl committees. Blame no one. Make no excuses. Do something!"




Rebel road trip

While the assistants have hit the road recruiting, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and Athletic Director Ross Bjork hit the road to meet with boosters and drum up support at conventions and other events around the state.

The tour, which started yesterday with a trip to The Dock Bar and Grill in Gulfport, include stops in a total of 15 cities across Mississippi.

For two of the newest faces of Ole Miss athletics, it's been a great way to get out and visit with the Rebel faithful. “This is a great way to kick off my tenure, a great way for Coach Freeze to meet people around the state he hasn't met before.” Bjork said. 

Bjork explained his excitement and believes many of the pieces of the puzzle are in place for Ole Miss to succeed. "“The foundation is there. $125 million worth of facilities the last 10 years, the atmosphere at Swayze Field, the atmosphere in ‘The Grove,’ the Manning family, the ‘Blind Side.’ There are so many assets we have to work with.”

After catching a glimpse of their travel accommodations, we can see they are definitely traveling in style. There's no doubt who's coming to town when this bus rolls in.
RebelRoadTrip

 

 




Fun at Northwestern

If you've ever been up to a spring practice at Northwestern, you know that Pat Fitzgerald likes to work some fun into practice on occasion.

The video below shows the typical spin around with your forehead on a bat race that's been turned into a team building activity.

Ten spins around the bat, then hand it off to a teammate 5 yards away. However, the staff threw in a nice little twist at the end....the last player also has to eat a hot dog.

You can't make this kind of stuff up. 




Freeze's recruiting pitch

It's no secret that Hugh Freeze uses the fact that he was "The Blindside's" Michael Oher's real life coach while he's out on the recruiting trail, but an interesting article with the Atlanta Journal Constitution got some insight into just how it's used.

“It’s going to get discussed.” Freeze told the paper. If the recruit doesn't bring it up, Freeze won't be shy about it. 

"No doubt, it helps. It’s an instant icebreaker for our assistant coaches or me, particularly for kids who have not heard of Hugh Freeze outside of the states of Mississippi, Tennessee or Arkansas, the places I have coached."

“I think everyone has at least knowledge, if not seen the movie ‘The Blindside,’ the story of Michael Oher, which is a great introduction to who we are and how we want to go about treating your young son if he joins us. I definitely think it’s something we should use in recruiting.”

Asked if he carries around copies of the DVD around with him during visits, Freeze responded "I haven’t done that. But Michael Oher did an interview not too long ago, which he gave me an enormous amount of praise about our relationship and how he thinks I will do at Ole Miss. We’re certainly going to have that with us."

Along with locking up the top recruits in the state of Mississippi, Freeze aims to dip into Georgia as well for top talent. He added that him and his staff firmly believe that if your a recruit that can have success at Georgia, then you can have success at Ole Miss as well, and vice versa.

The head coach also explains his belief behind the three things recruits should choose a college based on. First on that list is the chance for academic success, followed by their chances for athletic success. "As far as athletic opportunities, there’s no greater place in the SEC right now to have a better chance to impact than ours right now. But I think the No. 3 thing they should consider that really makes you the best at items 1-2, is choose the right environment for you. The reality is, we’re probably not going to be the right fit for everybody, and they’re probably not going to be the right fit for us. I really believe strongly in getting the right fit for your core values, who you are, and the philosophy to which your program is going to build on

"I think the environment that we are going to create will attract a certain type of kid. That, combined with an athletic opportunity to compete early, be a trendsetter and trailblazer, and help us do something special here...hopefully will attract some of those Georgia kids to come with us.”

 




9 first round picks in two years?

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have put together an impressive run. They've rolled out two of the last three national titles, are second only to Stanford in BCS graduation rate, and they have also been able to churn out an impressive number of first round draft picks.

With the NFL draft starting on Thursday, Bama has 5 guys projected by many experts to go in the first round (although we all know the draft never works out quite the way it's projected). If they do end up having five guys go in the first round this season, on top of their 4 picks in the first 28 choices last season, it would mark an impressive run of 9 first round picks in a two year span.

Doing some quick research, we noticed that feat would rank right up there just behind Miami, who had 10 first round picks in a two year span back in 2003-2004 (including Kellen Winslow, Vince Wilfork and Andre Johnson) and just ahead of USC who churned out 7 first rounders in two seasons in 2008-2009 (including Mark Sanchez, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews).

At a charity event yesterday in Mobile, Saban addressed that possibility, and noted that it's not necessarily where you get drafted that's important, what is important is the opportunity that they have after the draft and being able to take full advantage.