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Photos: Illinois' new unis
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Luther staff issues a challenge
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Nebraska's top recruiting tool?


Barry Alvarez wants to see a "super league"

If it were up to Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, college football teams from the major conferences would be part of one big "super league" that would make all the decisions in the world of college football. 

I’d like to see a super league. I’d like to see a league — Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 — and have your own rules. Have rules that you know what the hell they are and that you could actually follow them, and let them have it." Alvarez, who was a proponent of a four team playoff earlier this year, told the Mobile Press Register. Notice that he did not mention the ACC and Big East.

"We’ve got a lot of rules. There’re a lot of haves and have-nots, and you’re making rules to make the have-nots happy."

“Let the guys who can afford it go do — the guys that are filling those big stadiums, the leagues that have the big TV contracts — let them go. That’s nothing against those other guys. But you can’t let that group hold the entire group back.’’

Although he noted that he doubts it would ever happen, Alvarez has made it clear that he wants to see the big football conferences running things and making decisions based on what is best for schools that are making the most money. Preferably without having to solicit input from the non BCS conferences and their members.




Western Kentucky has gone three and out just three times in 61 drives

When you think of the most efficient offenses in the country, points and yardage are usually some of the first stats to come to mind. 

Tonight when Western Kentucky takes on Troy, Willie Taggart and his staff bring an interesting offensive efficiency stat into the game.

In 61 drives this season, the Hilltoppers have gone three and out just three times. Back in week two against Alabama, Western Kentucky snapped a streak of 77 consecutive games in which the Crimson Tide had forced at least one three and out by not going three and out a single time during the game.

The Hilltoppers feature a balanced attack, ranking in the top 25 nationally in rushing offense (#25 - 213 ypg) and passing efficiency (#18 - 156.75), and have earned 53 first downs on the ground and 48 through the air.

Their opponent tonight, Troy, is impressive when putting up points under head coach Larry Blakeney. Under Blakeney the Trojans are an impressive 67-4 when scoring at least 35 points. The Trojans are coming off a strong defensive performance in their last game, where they allowed just 59 passing yards to South Alabama.

One area where both teams are strong is their pass defense. Troy has allowed just 207 yards passing per game (36th nationally) while Western Kentucky is allowing just 175 yards per game through the air (14th nationally)

The two teams will face off on ESPNU at 7:30pm ET.




Early season FBS staff changes

Houston head coach Tony Levine dismissed offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt after their week loss to Texas State. Bret Bielema let Mike Markuson go after Wisconsin's week 2 loss to Oregon State. Al Groh was released this week by Paul Johnson. Awfully early in the year to be making these kinds of changes some would say.

Dan Wolken of USA Today took a look at this issue. Wolken spoke with New Mexico head coach Bob Davie and Oregon State head coach Mike Riley to get their thoughts on what he perceives as a troubling trend. 

"To get into the season and pull the plug, I don't agree with that," New Mexico's Bob Davie told USA Today. "I think it sends out a bad signal to everybody, and what's your reason? Is it to motivate your team? I don't think that's a good way to motivate. Or have you just hit rock bottom? It would surprise me one thing or two things could happen in a couple games that could make you say, 'I've got the wrong guy here.' Why was the wrong guy there (in the first place)?"

"I think it probably paints that picture of the pressure people are under to succeed and trying to find the answer or change the course of what's going on," Oregon State coach Mike Riley told Wolken. "That's a real dramatic move, and it's probably a result of the pressure to do well."

Obviously no head coach breaks fall camp hoping to fire one of his assistants, especially early in the season. But as the economics involved continue to rise in college football, pressure and expectations follow suit. A head coach may view making an early change at an underperforming unit as a better option than running the risk of having a more drastic change occur (that might not be within their control) after the season.  

And unfortunately for those who are against the early season trap door treatment, the changes at Houston and Wisconsin, at least early on, seem to have worked. The Houston offense has shown marked improvement since the Texas State opener. The Cougars have averaged more than 41 points per game in their four outings since while never scoring less than 35 points. The Wisconsin offense has also seen an uptick in production since the Oregon State game. Over their first two games the Badgers averaged just 2.9 yards per carry and rushed for one touchdown in 70 attempts. Since then Wisconsin’s yards per carry has jumped to nearly 3.8 while scoring touchdowns once out of every 16 rushes. After scoring just 36 points in its first two games, Wisconsin is averaging nearly 28 points per game since. 

Wolken also spoke with AFCA Executive Director Grant Teaff about this trend. Under Teaff’s direction the AFCA has lobbied for assistants to receive guaranteed contracts like the head coaches they work for. 

"One of the reasons we've pushed so hard for that is the incidents we're now seeing take place," Teaff told USA Today. "It was pretty well perceived those would start taking place because of the pressure to win, the pressure to recruit. We are pleased that by and large, when those types of situations take place, they do take care of the coaches and their families."

With TV money continuing to pour into college football, the stakes are only going to get higher and it's hard for anyone to feel "safe" these days. Every coach should attempt to have a good portion of, and hopefully their entire, annual salary guaranteed in their contract; and with every raise should try to store some more of that away for a rainy day and invest for your future. 




Thursday TV - Handful of college games and a NFL game

A total of five college games on tonight (three FBS and two D-II games), plus some regular Thursday night NFL action.

Eastern time listed.

NFL: 

Pittsburgh at Tennessee - 8:20 - NFL Network

College:

Western Kentucky at Troy - 7:30 - ESPNU

Stillman at Tuskegee - 7:30 - CSS

UTEP at Tulsa - 8 - FCSC

Wayne State (MI) at Saginaw Valley - 8 - CBSSN

Arizona State at Colorado - 9 - ESPN

High Schoool:

No games




Sumlin will no longer allow cameras in the locker room

Following Texas A&M's win Saturday at Ole Miss, 12ManTV cameras followed coach Sumlin into the locker room. Sumlin's team had just overcome a 10 point Ole Miss fourth quarter lead to get the Aggies first road SEC win. Both the team and Sumlin were jubilant in the locker room; and the cameras captured the moment. The video is quite good and clean (and in our opinion very positive...just the type of thing a recruit might want to see).  

We saw a note earlier today that from this point forward, Sumlin has decided to not allow cameras in the locker room. Exactly why that policy has been put in place is unclear at this point. We reached out to his staff and they confirmed that he has made this decision. 

We have no idea why he made this decision; but the decision is his to make. We didn't see anything in the video that might have been or caused any problems for A&M; but maybe we just didn't catch it. Take a look at the video below and judge for yourself.

A lot of programs have made very effective use of locker room / behind the scenes style video recently and we believe that most fanbases and recruits enjoy seeing this perspective. We completely understand that some things need to stay within the walls & within the team; but if it's the team's video staff and the team controls the footage and the distribution, we're not sure what the downside is. 




Really good D-III intro video

Linfield College (OR) is the last D-III school not named Mount Union or Wisconsin-Whitewater to capture a D-III National Championship.

Since taking over the head coaching job in 2006, after serving as a longtime assistant, Joseph Smith has done an outstanding job with a program rich in history. Smith is 40-7 over the past five seasons, including a 4-0 mark and #3 national ranking so far this season. To say the Linfield program is strong would be a huge understatement.

The Wildcats have accumulated 4 national championships, 35 conference titles, 23 national playoff appearances and an impressive 56 straight winning seasons. The video illustrates each of those accomplishments as well as the four pillars of the Linfield program that play a large part in their success.

This is likely one of the best intro videos in all of Division III.




Fitzgerald: "We're smarter than we look"

After rattling off five straight wins to open the season (including a road win at Syracuse followed by home wins against Boston College, South Dakota and Indiana) Northwestern came up just short (39-28) during their game last Saturday against Penn State.

The Northwestern staff was one of only 16 teams in the country to keep their entire coaching staff intact. Minnesota (this weekends opponent) was also one of those schools. Defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz and offensive coordinator Mick McCall are both in their fifth year with the Wildcats.

During his press conference earlier this week, Coach Fitz was asked about a banner that McCall and the offensive staff used to conceal their signal callers that were relaying the plays to the field. It's not something particularly out of the ordinary for staffs to do, but Fitz noted the start of Big Ten play as one of the main reasons for the banner.

"We’re smarter than we look," Fitz explained. "We know what’s going on. We’re getting into Big Ten play now. We know that they know that we know. You’ve got to have answers. We have answers."

‘‘When you’re playing in the nonconference, it’s not as big of a concern. But when you’re playing in league play, like I said, we know that they know that we know."

Prior to their loss Saturday, the Wildcat offense had ranked 42nd nationally in scoring offense, putting up nearly 33 points per game on average and had eclipsed the 37 point mark in three of their first five games (all wins). The Wildcats managed to put up 28 points on a Penn State defense that had not allowed a 20 point game since their week 1 loss to Ohio.

Heading into this weeks game with 4-1 Minnesota, Northwestern ranks 14th nationally in rushing offense (234 ypg) and 15th nationally in defending the run (103 ypg). The Wildcats have also been getting it done on special teams, an area that Coach Fitzgerald oversees and every coach has a part in, ranking 3rd nationally in punt returns with over 27 yards per touch.




In the locker room for James Franklin's first SEC road win

The cameras were in the locker room before and after Vanderbilt's game on the road against Missouri last weekend and captured defensive line coach Sean Spencer, and head coach James Franklin addressing the team. The two coaches touched on the opportunity that they had and what it was going to take to leave Columbia with a win.

"You've got an unbelievable opportunity right now. Because your going to live a little bit, and the your going to die a little bit...and we're going to do a lot more living than we do dieing." 

"Today, the SEC and the nation are going to find out what the real Vanderbilt football is all about." Coach Spencer told the team.

Franklin then got up and told the players that he wanted to see passion, anger and frustration on the field.

When it was all said and done, the Commodores ended up getting their first SEC road win (19-15) under Coach Franklin and improved to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play. This weekend they take on Florida (5-0, 4-0) at home, followed by two more home games against Auburn and UMass.