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Todd Graham changing the culture at Pitt

Pitt football will have a different feel in 2011.  Todd Graham replaces Dave Wannstedt as head coach, but the Panthers also lost five key players that were selected in the NFL draft.

Gone are running back Dion Lewis, wide receiver Jon Baldwin, defensive ends Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard, and linebacker Jason Pinkston.

Building a new foundation, installing new schemes, and developing team chemistry will take time.  The 2-back power running game gives way to “High octane, fast temp, explosive, dynamic, powerful, unique, intense, innovate.” (Straight from the Pitt summer camps brochure)

Graham explained to Rivals, "We are not going to go from A to Z, not in one year. When I was at Rice, we went from A to G. When I went back to Tulsa, we went from A to M. We're hoping we can be somewhere in there."

"We will look very different from Year One to Year Four."

The new coaching staff is working to build a family atmosphere within the program.  GoPittFootball.com, an in-house website for the Panthers’ program, has a well-produced video revolving around the theme of “family.”

Graham’s first four games as the head coach at Pitt will come against Buffalo, Maine, at Iowa, and Notre Dame.

This summer, Pitt will host three separate 1-day prospect camps for high school campers, a 3-day individual camp for ages 12-18, a 1-day specialists camps for high school campers only, a 1-day “Big Man Challenge,” and 2-day team passing camp.


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Gil Brandt releases Top 100 draft eligible players, some major surprises

NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt has released his list of the Top 100 draft eligible players for 2012.  Brandt was the VP of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960-1988.  

Looking over the list, there are several interesting storylines.

Alabama leads the list with 7 players.  Surprisingly, only 2 players from Texas are on the list, and only 1 from LSU.

Stanford, UNC, Ohio State each have 4 players in the Top 100.

Teams with 3 players in the Top 100 include South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, FSU, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Oregon, and Georgia.

USC has 2 players on the list, but one is junior quarterback Matt Barkley.  Of course, 100 players are drafted in just over 3 rounds of the NFL draft, but USC had 9 players selected this year.  Five of the nine players went in the sixth or seventh round.  We thought the Trojans may have a few more than two players listed.

Florida and Notre Dame have just two players listed, Tennessee has one (and Malik Jackson is a USC transfer).  Not a single player from Auburn is listed.

Here is the breakdown by schools with at least 3 players listed:

Alabama: Dre Kirkpatrick (DB), Trent Richardson (RB), Courtney Upshaw (LB), Dont’a Hightower (LB), Mark Barron (DB), Robert Lester (DB), Barrett Jones (OL)

Stanford: Andrew Luck (QB), Jonathan Martin (OL), Delano Howell (DB), Chris Owusu (WR)

UNC: Quinton Coples (DL), Zach Brown (LB), Donte Paige-Moss (DL), Tydreke Powell (DL)

Ohio State: Mike Adams (OL), Mike Brewster (OL), Terrell Pryor (QB), Dan Herron (RB)

South Carolina: Alshon Jeffery (WR), Stephon Gilmore (DB), Devin Taylor (DE)

Oklahoma: Landry Jones (QB), Ryan Broyles (WR), Travis Lewis (LB),

Nebraska: Jared Crick (DL), Alfonzo Dennard (DB), David Lavonte (LB)

Boise State: Nate Potter (OL), Billy Winn (DL), Doug Martin (RB)

Oklahoma State: Justin Blackmon (WR),Levi Adcock (OL),  Brandon Weeden (QB),

Texas A&M: Jeff Fuller (WR), Ryan Tannehill (QB), Cyrus Gray (RB)

Oregon: LaMichael James (RB), Cliff Harris (DB), David Paulson (TE)

Georgia: Brandon Boykin (DB), Cordy Glenn (OL), Drew Butler (P)

FSU: Brandon Jenkins (DL), Andrew Datko (OL), Nigel Bradham (LB)

Arkansas: Greg Childs (WR), Knile Davis (RB), Jerry Franklin (LB)

Ever wondered why Fresno State has the Green "V" on their helmets?

Have you ever wondered why a large green colored “V” dons the back of the Fresno State helmets?

During a press conference on Tuesday, head coach Pat Hill explained the meaning of the green “V.”

Hill said, “We have passionate fans in the valley. One of the things that has really helped us over the years was when we installed this 15 years ago, the green “V” on the back of the helmet.”

He added, “Representing the agricultural riches of the San Joaquin Valley, not only does our agricultural community get involved, but the CA Dairy Association and CA milk producers in the San Joaquin Valley are a big part of what we do at Fresno State as an agricultural school right there in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley.  That’s why the “V” is on the helmet.  It’s been with us for 15 years now.

According to Wikipedia, "The San Joaquin Valley began to form about 65 million years ago during the early Paleocene era. Broad fluctuations in the sea level caused various areas of the valley to be flooded with ocean water for the next 60 million years."

"Grapes, raisin, and to a lesser extent wine—are perhaps the valley's highest-profile product, but equally (if not more) important are cotton, nuts (especially almonds and pistachios, citrus and vegetables. Though it has been called "The food basket of the World", the San Joaquin Valley has not been nationally recognized for the diversity of its produce. Oranges, peaches, garlic, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, hay, alfalfa and numerous other crops have been harvested with great success."


Embree: Some recruits are jersey chasers and don't understand...

Jon Embree secured his first big commitment last week from a 4-star quarterback prospect from California named Shane Dillon.

Overall, the Colorado has received three commitments for the 2012 class, one that will be foundation for the future of the Buffaloes under Embree.

For Embree, recruiting appears to be the top priority (good decision).  He told The Daily Camera, "There are about 15 kids who I tell them I`m personally recruiting you. I`m going to be the one.”

“Yeah, you might hear from position coaches, but I want you to understand when this spring evaluation period is over, I want you to sit there and look at if this school really wanted you, how come the head coach didn`t call you?"

Colorado's football program has a good tradition, but the Buffaloes haven’t experienced much success in recent years.  They haven’t played on national TV as much and the Buffs are set to enter the PAC-12, where teams like Oregon and USC are on top of the college football world.

It all goes back to recruiting and Embree believes, "There are some guys (recruits) who are jersey chasers. They just want to go be on the team and then you`ve got guys who want to go make something happen and be a part of something special.”

“They`re waiting to see how many offers they get and then go to the highest ranked school at the end. What they don`t understand is college football is cyclical. Where was Wisconsin three years ago?"

This summer is going to be important for recruiting. Colorado will host two separate 3-day youth camps for grades 1-8, a 1-day OL / DL camp, two separate 1-day high school skill position only camps, and a 1-day kicking camp.  Embree and his staff are hoping to get a number of top prospects on campus.


Click here to see how each PAC-12 program is formatting their summer camps.


Video: Do you trust your coaches? Do you trust your players?

Trust – (noun) reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety of a person or thing; confidence.

Trust – The thing that Jerry Kill wants to build his program upon at the University of Minnesota.

Kill says, “My expectations are to get better every day.  You can control that a little bit.  You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.  All you can do is prepare for it (tomorrow).  Our job is prepare our kids and if they work hard and do the right things, build enough trust in the organization, then good things will happen to you.  I believe that.”

The ninth YouTube webisode of Gophers Football hammers home the theme of trust and how critical is it for players to trust their coaches.

Kill told his team early in spring practice, “I’m going to line up with people that are here EVERY SINGLE DAY, that are going to play hard EVERY SINGLE DAY, that go to class EVERY SINGLE DAY because I can trust them.  I’ve got to trust you and you have got to trust me.  And you build that trust when you work together and you work hard for one common goal.”

How many people in this world do you trust?  Think about it, then take a few minutes to watch the latest webisode from Gopher Athletics featuring the theme of “trust.”

Cutcliffe describes unique quarterback

Coaches enjoy working with players that want to be coached.  And every so often, coaches will have a unique opportunity to tutor a player that is totally immersed in learning the game and getting better.

Based on David Cutcliffe’s comments about his quarterback Sean Renfree, there is no doubt that Cutcliffe believes Duke can become bowl eligible with this quarterback leading the way.

Cutcliffe says, “He has totally thrown himself into being the best he can be. He goes through endless hours of videotapes — NFL game tape, Duke game tape, Tennessee tape — working with receivers on perfecting routes. He is totally immersed in being a quarterback as well as being an outstanding student.”

“Sean has learned that in the world he has chosen, the most important ability he has is time management. When we talked early on about his goals and what he really wanted to accomplish in football, he told me he wanted to be as good as there has ever been here. When you say that, we are going to ask you to back that up.”

As a redshirt sophomore, Renfree finished the 2010 season with 14 TD / 17 INT.

Cutcliffe added, “You have to know who you are throwing to. Know his speed, his ability to catch the ball and where he can catch the ball; know what kind of ball he can catch. You’re not just throwing to a position, you are throwing to a person. In the backyard growing up, you understood who could catch the ball with one hand or catch it over his head at the fence post. The more you learn about how your receivers catch the ball, how they like the ball thrown to them and in what situations you know they will make the catch, the better quarterback you will be. You can’t just play the game blind. You have to know what is happening on the field. You have to have awareness on the field. That’s what makes Sean Renfree a special quarterback.”

The Blue Devils open with Richmond and Stanford.  Both games are at Wallace-Wade Stadium in Raleigh.  The schedule appears to give the Blue Devils a legitimate chance to become bowl eligible.

The schedule includes Richmond, Tulane, and Wake Forest at home.  Road trips include Boston College, FIU, and Virginia. In Cutcliffe’s fourth year, this could also be the year that Duke pulls a serious upset.  

Rising number: College assistants jumping to coach in NFL

In the 2010 off-season, 14 college assitant coaches made the jump to the NFL.

Those coaches were Eric Yarber, Scottie Montgomery, Giff Smith, Bobby Johnson, Tommie Robinson, Jedd Fisch, Richard Hightower, Corwin Brown, Brian Schneider, Jeremy Bates, Ken Norton Jr, Kris Richard, Rocky Seto, and Dave Canales.

Montgomery made it to the Super Bowl with the Steelers.  Fisch is now back in college as the Miami (FL) offensive coordinator after a year as the quarterbacks coach in Seattle under Pete Carroll.  Bates and Brown, to our knowledge, are out of coaching for the moment.  Seto almost landed the UCLA defensive coordinator job, but is still with the Seahawks.

In 2011, that number increased to 17 college assistant coaches that seized the opporutnity to coach in the NFL.

Those coaches were Grady Stretz (Arizona State to Tampa Bay), Warren Belin (Georgia to Carolina), John Settle (Wisconsin to Carolina), Teryl Austin (Florida to Baltimore), Scott Turner (Pitt to Carolina), Vic Fangio (Stanford to San Francisco), Tim Drevno (Stanford to San Francisco), Greg Roman (Stanford to San Francisco), Peter Hansen (Stanford to San Francisco), Mark Whipple (Miami to Cleveland), Chuck Bullough (UCLA to Cleveland), John Morton (USC to San Francisco), David Walker (Pitt to Indianapolis), Reggie Davis (Oregon State to San Francisco), Tyrone Pettaway (USC to Tampa Bay), Shawn Mennega (South Dakota State to Cleveland), and Tracy Rocker (Auburn to Tennessee Titans).

Rocker told The Tennessean, “After coaching 17 years of college ball I have aspirations as a coach, and it’s not just to sit there at my alma mater and just be there. At Auburn, I’d already had success as a player and then to come in and win the SEC and national championship in my second year, and to have Nick Fairley win the Lombardi Award … My wife kind of asked me, ‘What else do you think you need to do at Auburn?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know.’”

“All of a sudden, this thing happens with the Titans, so I guess that was the new calling. For me, it’s definitely a dream come true.”


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Ellis Johnson explains why hurry-up offenses are deteriorating the game

South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson believes that hurry-up offenses are ruining college football.  Johnson made some terrific points during a radio interview with Bo Mattingly.

Johnson said, “One thing that has gotten into it that I’ve been pretty outspoken, that I really think is starting to deteriorate some of college football is the hurry up offenses.  There is nothing wrong a pace and speeding up the play on the operation side. I get that.”

“But what’s happening now with the rules is that you can snap it as soon as you want to or you can sit on it for 40 seconds, and there is no in-between.”

“Canadian ball is very fast-paced, but the offense can’t sit there all day long.  They have a 20 second limit. The NFL cut it out with Buffalo in the 90’s, they kind of put some cold water on it a little bit with the Colts not too many years ago.  What they realized is they’re taking the game of football and turning it into soccer or lacrosse.  There’s nothing wrong with those sports, but that’s not football.”

"What it's about now is who can snap the football before the other team lines up.  You can’t hardly get your players on and off the field.  You can’t get your signals in and out.  It’s become who has the best signal system or verbiage system. “

“Frankly, I don’t know what that proves except someone has a better verbiage package.  It’s not about blocking, tackling, running, route running, throwing, and so forth. It’s something the college football world needs to look at.”

“It sounds like sour grapes right now, but there is not a balanced playing field.  The chalk is always in one person’s hand.  That’s what has made it the most difficult in the last several years in the world of college football coaching.”

The Gamecocks will play Auburn and Clemson this season, two teams that rely heavily on an up-tempo style of offensive football.  East Carolina, Kentucky, and Mississippi State all have the ability as well to speed up the tempo.