Graham has two words on the mind of every ASU player
Arizona State claims one Rose Bowl victory in its history. The school has never won a national championship. As the Sun Devils opened spring practice on Tuesday, second-year head coach Todd Graham spoke of making history.
"I talked to these guys and told them it's the 100th anniversary of the Rose Bowl. That's where the national championship game is at, and I told them I grew up watching the Rose Bowl on a 13-inch black and white TV in Dallas, Texas listening to Keith Jackson. I said every day that's how we've got to work. Did we work harder than the other 11 teams in the league?"
"The biggest thing for us is to look forward. We did not have a great season (in 2012), we had a little above average season. We've got to be hungry. We've got to win six more ball games to win 14 games. We've got to win five more games to win the conference championship. We've got to win one more game past that to win the Rose Bowl. That's what I want our standard to be and our expectation to be."
According to sophomore defensive tackle Jaxon Hood, Graham's message has sunk in inside the locker room. And in the meeting rooms, training room, weight room and classroom.
“We’ve been talking about the Rose Bowl for so long, I don’t remember when it was first brought up," Hood told the Arizona Republic. “I hear ‘Rose Bowl’ in my sleep. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t hear about Rose Bowls.
“Since I stepped foot on this campus, I haven’t heard ‘Fear the Fork,’ I haven’t heard ‘Sparky.’ I’ve heard Rose Bowl more than any other word on this campus. And that’s the truth. … That’s all we talk about, and that’s what we’re about to go get.”
With their goals clearly understood, Graham now begins the work of teaching his team how to reach them.
"Every single rep you've got to be inspired. There's only one group of people that can keep us from accomplishing our goals and that's you."
Video: Neal Brown mic'd up at Kentucky
When Neal Brown decided to leave Texas Tech for SEC and Kentucky, fans were excited to see his high flying, up tempo approach come to Lexington.
Here's a look at Brown coaching the Wildcats up during their second spring practice. Notice how during scrimmage situations, Brown is on the sideline coaching up everything from proper alignment to where players who aren't even participating are standing on the sideline.
Turning things around is a process, and it starts with attention to detail.
Dykes: 'I'd be very concerned if things didn't get chippy'
As we've highlighted before, Sonny Dykes likes a bit of "chippiness" during spring practices, even going as far as saying that practice scuffles can be productive.
After practice yesterday Dykes reaffirmed that belief, noting that it brings out the competitiveness in his players.
"It's always going to get a little chippy in the spring. I would be very concerned if it didn't. If the guys were out here not competing against each other and didn't care, I would have some major, major concerns." he explained.
"Anytime that guys are fighting hard and competing against each other there are going to be some guys that get their feelings hurt, or whatever. But like I said, I don't mind seeing that."
Four proposals headed to NCAA Board for further review
Twenty-six rule proposals were introduced by the NCAA in January. Though a hailstorm of controversy accompanied a handful of those proposals, 21 new rules were officially passed by the NCAA's governing body this week.
One rule has already been tabled - proposal 13-2 - which would move the start date of the recruiting process to July 1 of a prospect's sophomore year.
Four more rules are being sent to the override process, which means they will be put to review before the NCAA Board of Directors. Rules typically need 75 override requests to meet the threshold, but the first two we'll discuss were sent to the Board without meeting the requirement.
- Proposal 11-2: This would allow any staff member - coach, player personnel director, SID, janitor - to perform recruiting tasks such as calling recruits.
- Proposal 13-5-A: Known primarily as the "Fathead rule", this would have allowed schools to send almost any form of printed material to recruits.
- Proposal 11-3-B: This would have prohibited coaches from scouting future opponents in person. Coaches are presently allowed to scout opponents if they are participating in the same tournament or doubleheader, which isn't particularly applicable to football.
- Proposal 13-3: By far the most divisive of the 26 proposals, this would have allowed unlimited communication between coaches and high school seniors. It received 83 override requests and, as John Infante tweeted today, four of those requests came from schools who have run into trouble for impermissible phone calls in the past.
“During the football season, coaches want to concentrate on coaching and interacting with current student-athletes. The proposal will force them to significantly increase the amount of time they spend calling and texting recruits during the season,” one school wrote. “This rule will create additional distractions for high school student-athletes. Their phones will be inundated with calls and texts at all hours of the day from college coaches and staff.”
The deadline for override requests closed today, which means the other 21 rules have now been rubber stamped into the rule book. The NCAA Board of Directors will meet May 2 in Indianapolis to discuss the four suspended rules. Until then, they will remain locked in legislative purgatory.
Big Ten divisions likely coming together
Now that we've lived with them for two years, it's easy to forget just how silly the Big Ten's divisions are. Legends and Leaders. Michigan and Ohio State in different divisions. Legends and Leaders. Wisconsin in a different division than Iowa and Minnesota. Legends and Leaders.
Now Rutgers and Maryland are here to save the day. The Big Ten's East Coast expansion has sent the league's entire divisional structure back to the drawing board. On Tuesday, ESPN.com, citing league sources, broke what the league's new structure will likely appear by the time football gets underway in late August.
Indiana or Purdue
Indiana or Purdue
No announcement is imminent (any announcement before the Final Four wraps up seems highly improbable) and the division names appear in quotes because no name has been chosen. "East" and "West" seem like logical choices to us, but who's asking?
Though, again, nothing is official yet, there's a quite a bit of reaction around Big Ten country to news that hasn't been made official yet:
- Our more astute readers will notice that Indiana and Purdue are stuck in no man's land. The league will be cleanly split along time zones, the East Division in the Eastern time zone and the West Division in the Central time zone, with the exception of the Hoosier state. Somebody has to go West (we agree with ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg that Purdue makes the most sense) but this much is certain: the Indiana-Purdue rivalry isn't going away. In fact, the Old Oaken Bucket series will probably be the only protected cross-division rivalry moving forward.
- Those in Wisconsin will cherish being pitted with Minnesota and Iowa again and battling Nebraska for division supremacy.
- Conversely, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis will enjoy the East Division's audience with the East Coast and the chance to share a division with Michigan.
In all, going to a straight geographic alignment would add a sense of regionalism, not to mention logic, that will serve the Big Ten well in the future. Iowa should play Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota every year, and Michigan State should play Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State on an annual basis. It turns out the most sensible solution may have been right in front of the Big Ten's face, they just had to go to the East Coast to see it.
Willie Taggart was so excited for spring ball he slept in his gear
We saw a tweet this morning that had us chuckling.
#USF coach Willie Taggart says he slept in his practice gear last night. Woke up, put on shoes, ready to go for spring ball.— Joey Johnston (@JJohnstonTBO) March 20, 2013
Turns out, that was no exaggeration.
After being cooped up all winter, spring ball does things like that to the best of coaches.
Niumatalolo compares strength coaches to college professors
Navy opened official preparations for the 2013 season on Tuesday with head coach Ken Niumatalolo looking to the past. The Midshipmen had managed to win, with four winning seasons in his five years as head coach, despite an undersized strength department.
"In the past we've had one full-time coach for the biggest team on the yard," he said. "We've had Coach Brass for 170, 150 guys."
Navy strength coach Mike Brass received help from Kirk Woolfolk and Clifford Dooman but it was only that, help. Each coach was responsible for two teams of his own, which meant football had to go to the back-burner. Enter Bryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Schuler, each a dedicated full-time assistant strength coach for football.
Niumatalolo went academic to describe how the additional staff has helped his players.
"You can go in a lecture hall of 300 with one professor, or you can be in a class of 25 where one person is able to talk," said Niumatalolo. "It's a more conducive way of learning. You can pay more attention to a guy as opposed to trying to watch what everybody does."
Now that the Midshipmen are back on the field, Niumatalolo has already seen how that individual instruction has benefited the program.
"It's allowed us to spread people out," he said. "We've been able to do some speed work, things we haven't been able to do in the past. I just think it's been a tremendous addition...I think we're in the best shape we've been in since I've been here."
'The day I can't coach players is the day I can't be a head coach'
As a first year head coach hitting the field for spring ball, Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken immediately felt a difference from his years as a coordinator and position coach.
"It was weird." Monken told reporters.
"I messed up a lot of stuff. It's amazing the types of things that you look past. Managers are in different spots and wondering where they're supposed to be. Everywhere else I've been it's just kind of worked out, now all of a sudden people are looking at me like 'What do we do?'"
Then Monken, who's also in charge of the quarterbacks, added something that really stuck out to us.
"The most fun that I have is coaching the players. That's the most fun that I have. If I ever have to get rid of that, than I can't be a head coach anymore because I love coaching the players."
That one on one interaction with his players, and being able to witness their progress is what really motivates Monken. The "head coach" title has nothing to do with it.
Plenty more quality material from Monken below, including more than a few one liners worth writing down. Don't worry, we've included a few of them below.
- "You've got to do it better than they defend it."
- "They (players) don't have a choice, if they walk around they get kicked off the field."
- "You can always slow down, but if you don't train to go fast, you can't ever go fast."