Brian Billick: Coaching changes are inevitable
While inevitable, Billick says, "You would like to think that class and dignity would be the order of the day [when it happens], but history tells us differently."
"There is no easy way to do this. I have yet to hear the coach that says, 'They fired me, but they did it very well.' The mantra that this is an 'unfortunate side of the business' (right up there with 'going in another direction') dehumanizes what is a gut-wrenching, emotional experience for all the coaches, assistants, and their families."
Billick's article, on NFL.com, is a good read.
Pitt took advantage of their bye week
A bye week was just what Todd Graham and the Pittsburgh offense needed as quarterback Tino Sunseri went 29 of 42 for 419 yards last night against Connecticut.
Pitt had managed only 120 total yards of offense (50 rushing and 70 passing) in their most recent game against Utah.
Last night, after losing the nation's second leading rusher four minutes into the game, Pitt had some impressive success on early downs. The Pitt offense rattled off gains of 22, 19, 17 and 21 yards on first down, and 15, 40, 28, 14 and 13 yards on second down during the first half.
If your keeping track, the Pitt offense had more yards on first and second down of the first half last night (189 total yards), than they managed in their entire game against Utah (120 yards). Pitt had that success while starting their fourth different offensive line combination in six games.
Given their offensive line struggles (ranked last of all FBS teams allowing almost 5 sacks per game), and the loss of running back Ray Graham, Coach Todd Graham and the offensive staff did an impressive job making adjustments last night.
Pitt is now 4-4 in Todd Graham's first season. They've still got games vs. Cincinnati, at Louisville, at West Virginia and vs. Syracuse.
Brian Kelly wants Notre Dame to create a great atmosphere
Some might argue that the atmosphere at Notre Dame is great, revered actually; but Brian Kelly thinks the stadium needs some updating.
Kelly told reporters yesterday that he would like to add a JumboTron to help build on the great atmosphere. The 81 year old stadium has maintained it's historic setting, resisting to add permanent lights until just before the 1997 season.
This past weekend against USC, Notre Dame piped in music during moments like 3rd down, and the stadium was filled with thousands of twirling towels. Kelly has also made his interest known in adding field turf. At yesterday's press conference, Kelly continued to talk about making changes to the atmosphere.
“I hope that we continue to move forward creating an incredible atmosphere in there. It won’t be my decision to make. I don’t think it’s a mystery that we would like that. But it’s not going to be my call. They know how I feel".
Ultimately, Kelly understands the decision is in the hands of the Notre Dame administration. The atmosphere made some good strides last weekend that Kelly has been focused on building on as the Irish move forward.
This weekend Notre Dame welcomes Navy to South Bend for a 3:30 kickoff on NBC.
All times are eastern
Virginia at Miami (FL) - 8 - ESPN
Rice at Houston - 8 - FSN
Augustana (DII - SD) at Minnesota State Mankato (DII) - 8 - CBSSN
Aledo (TX) at Birdville (TX) - 8 - ESPNU
Madison Central (MS) at Northwest Rankin (MS) - 7 - Fox Sports
We like how Tubs thinks
With the recent conference realignments, Tommy Tuberville was asked his thoughts on adding a few teams to the Big 12.
Tubs led off by saying that he would favor adding Louisville over West Virginia based on travel. Louisville would also add a bigger TV market than Morgantown does as well.
"A lot of people would think I’m crazy, but I would go after San Diego State and I’d go after Tulane. They both have great stadiums. Both would grow immensely if they went to a conference like this. I know right now, one, San Diego State is doing pretty good. Tulane is not, but they’ve got the Superdome, they’ve got New Orleans for people to go in and out. I think you look at things like that and TV markets".
In a study of the 210 media markets, New Orleans ranked #52 in the "number of TV households", and San Diego ranked 28th. Louisville is ranked 50th, and after a thorough search, we couldn't find Morgantown anywhere on the list (which means it ranks below both Juneau, and Fairbanks, Alaska).
At the end of the day coaches aren't driving the decisions, but it's always fun to hear Tubs take on pretty much anything. San Diego and New Orleans sure do sound like more fun that some of the other alternatives.
FIU is putting together a nice season
Mario Cristobal and FIU started the season with 3 straight wins, but had lost 3 of their last four games before last night's win over Troy. FIU had the lead going into the 4th quarter in two of those losses, and was only down 5 with 14:06 left against Louisiana-Lafayette .
Last night defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and the defensive staff did an impressive job against Troy holding them to 3-14 on 3rd down conversions and putting the defense in great position to get off the field. Leading up to last night's game, Troy was running an average of 92 plays per game. FIU held the Trojans to a third of that, only allowing them to run 59 plays.
Cristobal has made some impressive progress at FIU since being hired in 2006, and has a great opportunity to build on this season with his final 4 games coming against teams with losing records. If Cristobal is able to win 3 of those next 4 it would get FIU to 8 wins and would mark the best season since joining the FBS, topping last seasons 7-6 record.
Value of the special teams coordinator
Paul Johnson's Georgia Tech team is 6-2. He doesn't have a coach on staff whose primary role is special teams coordinator, in fact he never has.
Unfortunately, this season, Tech's special teams haven't been all that special (currently ranked in the bottom half of all FBS teams in net punting (93rd), punt returns (68th) and kickoff returns (102nd) and have only blocked one kick through 8 games).
Johnson was recently grilled on special teams decisions and schemes after the Miami loss, and the question of having a designated special teams coordinator was asked.
"The whole thing is ridiculous. Guys calling for special teams coordinators don’t have any idea. You know how many teams in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten have special teams coordinators that don’t coach another position? Six. You know who it is in our league? Boston College – which is helping them a lot – and N.C. State. And the Big Ten, it’s Purdue. In the Big 12, it’s Kansas State. I think it’s Coach (Bill) Snyder’s son. Most staffs are set up the same as ours.
Johnson noted that his staff went this past off-season and spent two days with the Atlanta Falcons staff. "We're doing the same stuff they're doing. It's the same schemes, it's the same stuff."
In his 32 years coaching, Johnson said that every staff he's every been on has always split the special teams duties up amongst the whole staff. As Johnson put it "Sometimes you're better than others."
Well, we know where Johnson stands on this issue; and we certainly know other coaches who feel the exact opposite way about this.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.
The most improved defense in the country
Earlier today we saw a good article by Bruce Feldman that pointed out that Michigan's defense has moved up 100 spots in scoring defenses going from 108th in 2010 to 8th this season. Any time you improve 100 spots, that's newsworthy.
Greg Mattison's main focus this season has been on limiting missed tackles. The goal for the defense is to finish the game with less than eight missed tackles per game, and right now the defense is averaging about six. In their lone loss to Michigan State, the Wolverines had 18 missed tackles.
Mattison and the defensive staff have also clearly put an emphasis on turnovers this season as well. The Wolverines are tied at the top of the country in fumble recoveries, recovering 14 fumbles out of 16 loose balls. Michigan had 7 recoveries out of 12 loose ball opportunities all of last year.
Michigan's five remaining games are all against teams with winning records, starting on Saturday as they take on Purdue (4-3) in Ann Arbor.