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4 new FBS programs

The opening of the 2012 season will mark the start of a two year journey for four teams hoping to achieve full FBS membership.  Each of these teams has seized the opportunities presented by the conference alignment shake-ups to give their program more exposure and the potential of much bigger pay days.  While the allure of the FBS money and fame is appealing, it isn’t for everyone.  Teams that apply to join the FBS are required to undergo a two year probationary period where they must prove that they can sustain an average attendance of over 15,000 per game.

Texas State University, led by Dennis Franchione, is one of the schools making the jump this year, but like its fellow FBS provisional schools, it is not taking on this challenge blindly.  Texas State has set out plans to not only meet, but exceed the requirements of FBS membership.  In the two years leading up to the switch from FCS play, Texas State averaged 13,000 and 15,000 people per game respectively putting them at the threshold of meeting the requirements before the trial even begins. 

Early returns are telling the folks at Texas State that their calculated gamble is already paying off.  According to their director of ticket sales, Joe Verschueren, they have already surpassed their previous record for season ticket sales.  He expects that they could triple their average ticket sales by the time the Bobcats take the field this September.

One of the reasons for the increase in sales is the added exposure that comes from being able to host teams like Texas Tech this coming year.  This season's opener will be the first game in their newly refurbished field that has been doubled in size to prepare for the FBS move.  In addition to Texas Tech, the Bobcats will also be taking on top 25 program Houston and a tough slate of WAC teams.  Here is a full look at their schedule for this coming season:

9/1 Texas State University @ University of Houston

9/8 Texas State University vs. Texas Tech University

9/22 Texas State University vs. Stephen F. Austin State University

9/20 Texas State University vs. University of Nevada

10/6 Texas State University @ University of New Mexico

10/13 Texas State University vs. Idaho

10/27 Texas State University @ San Jose State San Jose, Calif. (WAC)

11/3 Texas State University @ Utah State

11/10 Texas Tech University vs. Louisiana Tech

11/17 Texas State University @ Navy

11/24 Texas State University @ University of Texas - San Antonio

12/1 Texas Tech University vs. New Mexico State

Only time will tell how successful the move to the FBS will be for Texas State and its cohorts (South Alabama, University of Texas – San Antonio, and UMass), but you can be sure that there are many other successful teams from the FCS and Division II levels that will be watching their transition very carefully to see if they too are ready to for the challenges and possibilities of FBS football.

For more information on the plans for this season and a look at the new Texas State Stadium, check out the video below.

Making football more important at Arizona

Making football more important has been Rich Rod's goal since he was hired at Arizona.

"It's a cultural change. It's not like you haven't had good football here in the past, but you haven't gone to the Rose Bowl. What needs to change? It's not just the guy sitting in the head coach's office. It's a whole mindset. It's making football more important."

In an article from Dennis Dodd of CBSSports, Rodriguez compares Arizona with West Virginia. "It's going to be painful at times and costly. I've told people this: It was like (when I started at) West Virginia 12 years ago except better weather. The mindset at West Virginia is, (football's) a bigger deal."

Rodriguez admits that, selfishly, he wants his players thinking about football all the time.

"It's OK for football to be really, really important. If you want to know why the SEC is so good, it's because football is really, really important to them. You don't have to sacrifice academics. You can still have a so-called social life, but gosh darn, football has to be important. Selfishly, I want them to think about football all the time. When they're not in class, when they're not in church, I want them thinking about football."

Arkansas' plans

Late last night we communicated with two representatives of Arkansas and this morning we have spoken with coaches involved in this process. Based on those interactions we feel highly confident in the following.

Discussions with Garrick McGee have ended. Representatives told us that Jeff Long has made the decision that having a full process after the season was better for all parties involved....adding that asking any current head coach to take this position at this time wasn't the right thing to do. 

Arkansas will stay in house, appointing one of their current assistants as interim head coach for this season. 

Arkansas has their Spring game on Saturday and then their assistants are on the road on Monday. Based on what we were told last night and the timing mentioned here, we're speculating that the announcement of the interim will occur at or after the Spring game (possibly as late as Monday; but we don't think they'll wait that long). 

Sources we have spoken with tell us that contrary to what others might be saying, the players and coaches have been quite focused this week and the staff feels that they have had an excellent past week of practice. The staff is very supportive of the decision to remain with an interim coach for the season and, as we told you days ago, is already considering possible candidates to fill the open assistant spot. 

Yard work for the Buckeyes

Ohio State has already pre-sold over 47,000 tickets to their spring game on Saturday, and Urban Meyer is more than ready to finally hit the field.

"I’ve been fortunate enough to coach in some of these big spring game atmospheres, and there’s nothing like it. It’s priceless. You can’t simulate this atmosphere in any indoor venue or out on the practice field." he told the media yesterday after practice.

Meyer anticipates a lot of passing during the spring game, although he's still not sure who will be on the receiving end of those balls. “The ball will be thrown a lot. I just don’t know if it will be caught.”

Offensive coordinator Tom Herman will serve as the head coach for the Scarlet team and defensive coordinator Luke Fickell will handle the coaching duties for the Gray team.

Keeping with the competitive mindset in everything they've done since Urban arrived in Columbus, the losing team will be putting in some extra work next Friday on a community service project. That project might just be doing three hours worth of landscaping at Buckeye Grove, just south of the stadium. 

Changes in philosophy and technique at Wisconsin

The Wisconsin coaching staff is full of new faces, and with new faces come new experiences and techniques for the players.

UWBadgers.com caught up with a few key returning players and the new coaches to talk about the changes in technique and philosophy so far.

"We try to keep it simple," new linebackers coach Andy Buh said. "You've got to be able to move your left foot left, and your right foot right, put your right hand up and your left hand up. It's real simple. Play fast, make full speed decisions and if it moves hit it, and if it's in your way knock it down."

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