B1G releases 2014 football schedule
For any Maryland or Rutgers fans eager to get to their new home, or people planning a wedding well in advance, the Big Ten made your life much easier Thursday by releasing its 2014 football schedule.
The league has already announced plans to switch to an East/West divisional alignment in preparation for its pair of newcomers. Rutgers, Maryland, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana will occupy the East Division, while Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska will make up the West Division.
Considering we're still more than three months away from the 2013 season, it's far too early to make any solid judgments about any team's perceived schedule strength or lack thereof. But, with that said, goodness gracious Rutgers is going to have to hit the ground running in its new home. The Scarlet Knights kick off the 2014 Big Ten season by hosting Penn State on Sept. 13, then follow with Michigan, road trips to Ohio State and Nebraska and then a home date with Wisconsin. Kyle Flood's agent may be wise to begin working up the language on a contract extension now.
Speaking of Wisconsin, we can go ahead and name the Badgers the far-too-early West Division favorites with a schedule that somehow avoids Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State. Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Little Brown Jug rivals Minnesota manages to get both Michigan and Ohio State as its inter-division draw.
The other Big Ten new arrival, Maryland, will play its first Big Ten game at Indiana on Sept. 27. The Terps' first conference home game comes against Ohio State the following week. Maryland and Rutgers will close the season against each other on Nov. 29 in Piscataway, N.J.
To read the full release (or perhaps bookmark it to read when the 2013 season ends), please click here.
Brian Kelly: 'My pregame routine is to call recruits'
Some of the more superstitious coaches have to have a certain meal, others just down a Red Bull as part of their pregame ritual.
Brian Kelly doesn't do either. He told people at Notre Dame's recent "Town Hall Meeting" that he spends his time leading up to kickoff on the phone with recruits .
"My pregame is to get in and really get working on a lot of things before the game starts. The week is all focused on the game, and trying to win that game and then when that's all done, I'll use Saturday before the game to really do a lot of recruiting."
Can you imagine being a 16 or 17 year old recruit and getting a call from the head coach of one of the top teams in the country hours before they kick off in a huge game against Stanford, Oklahoma or USC?
That phone call carries significantly more weight than the normal call on any other weeknight. Coaches at all levels would definitely benefit from picking up their phones and chatting with a few recruits in the hours leading up to kickoff.
The nation's best offense was led by college football's youngest coordinator
In 2011, Sul Ross State sported a spectacularly mediocre offense. The 2-8 Lobos threw for 207.5 yards per game and rushed for 137 yards per game, good for 132nd place in Division III. A year later, Sul Ross gained more yards per game than any offense in the entire NCAA. So, what changed? For one, their quarterback graduated. Then he became their offensive coordinator.
We haven't polled every football-playing college and university in the NCAA and NAIA, so we can't prove Scotty Walden was the youngest offensive coordinator in college football last season. But at 22 years old, he couldn't have been far off.
Hailing from Cleburne, Texas, Walden earned a scholarship to NAIA Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, out of high school. A bout of home-sickness brought him to Hardin-Simmons in nearby Abilene, Texas, but Walden's place on the depth chart forced him to consider other options following his junior season in 2010. Facing his final shot in college football, Walden landed at Sul Ross, nestled away in the Big Bend town of Alpine, Texas (population: 5,095), with an eye on the future. He agreed to enroll at Sul Ross with the hopes that he'd be considered for a graduate assistant spot should one become available following the season.
Walden started at quarterback that fall, throwing for 1,977 yards, rushing for 169 more and adding 16 total touchdowns. After the season ended, head coach Wayne Schroeder provided a student assistant coaching position overseeing the team's offseason program. When spring ball started, Walden helped offensive coordinator John Tyree with the quarterbacks. By the end of spring he was Sul Ross State's unofficial passing game coordinator, writing practice scripts and calling plays for the spring game. When graduation came, Walden was mulling whether to stay in Alpine as a graduate assistant or to work under his high school coach, Phil Young.
"I tried to really convince him, 'Hey man, you need to stick this college thing out,' because he was just looking at graduating and going on and coaching high school ball or middle school ball," said then-Lobos defensive line coach Robert Churchman.
Then, in June 2012, he got a text.
"About the first of June, Coach Schroeder texted me randomly and said, 'I want this offense to be yours. I want you to run the offense.' We sat down and had a meeting about it and he basically turned the offensive coordinator position over to me," Walden said. "This was an opportunity I could not turn down at my age. I was labeled as a graduate assistant and getting paid like a GA, but I was the OC still."
Five months shy of his 23rd birthday, Walden was an NCAA offensive coordinator. He didn't immediately walk from the graduation podium to the coaches' offices, though it may have felt that way. No, he had to wait a month before receiving control of his own offense.
His new-found role of authority figure to his former peers and peer to his former authority figures never created tension in the locker room or the staff room. In fact, Walden's fellow coaches were the ones that nominated him for the job.
"We talked with coach, 'We need to keep this kid, you don't have an offensive coordinator on the staff.' The head coach wasn't the kind of guy that was going to go out and find somebody, he was always waiting for somebody to knock on the door," Churchman said. "So it just sort of worked out that Scotty was there. We just sort of knew that Scotty was made for the job, he was born for it."
Walden spent the summer in a self-taught crash course of Offensive Coordinator 101. He drew from what he learned at Cleburne and from his travels as a journeyman college quarterback. He spent his days working out his system on the whiteboard and scouring the Internet for ideas. Walden solicited advice from all of the biggest names of the spread offense, netting him a trip to Texas State to learn offensive line concepts under Dennis Darnell and an email response from Kliff Kingsbury that's still saved in his inbox.
By the time fall camp arrived, Walden was ready to settle into his new role once he first laid down the law with his former teammates. "I said, 'Guys, I'm the guy that played with you last year. Let's all be real here. I'm just as old as you guys, but if this is going to work, you're going to have to realize that I'm not your friend. I'm your coach. Off the field we're cool, but we've got to draw a line in the sand and know I'm going to push you,'" Walden said.
As a first-generation disciple of the great spread offense prophets of Leach, Briles, Holgorsen and Kingsbury, Walden's brainchild was a composite of the Big 12's best offenses.
"Being from Cleburne, Texas, and at his age, he was always a (Texas) Tech fan because of the offense. They kind of ran that same thing when he was a quarterback in high school. But I really think he really likes the way things Art Briles runs things offensively. He really, really likes what Dana (Holgorsen) does at West Virginia," Churchman said.
Walden was confident and prepared yet understandably nervous. "Not only had I never coached in a football game as just a coach, I'd never called plays," he remembered. "There were times before that first game against Western New Mexico last year where I was like, 'Man, is this stuff going to work?' I prayed about it a lot before that first game." The Lobos' new offense was a hit from day one, notching 473 yards and 44 points in the season-opener, a solid debut in what proved to be a smash hit of a season.
In 10 games under Walden, Sul Ross ran 795 plays for 5,819 yards (7.32 yards per play), creating an average of 581.9 yards per game - the best in the entire NCAA. The Lobos scored 68 touchdowns, ran for 248.9 yards per game and threw for 333 yards per game. Running back Dominique Carson led Division III in scoring and ranked seventh in rushing while quarterback A.J. Springer placed second nationally in total offense and sixth in passing efficiency. Five players caught at least 30 passes, helping the Lobos rank second in first downs and fourth in red zone offense.
The 5-5 Lobos never scored fewer than 24 points in a game, and topped the 40-point barrier seven times and scored 70 or more points twice. Sul Ross registered 640 yards or more in half of their outings, besting 700 yards three times. All this at a school located 65 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart.
Walden saved magnum opus for his former school Hardin-Simmons, when the Lobos totaled 800 yards of offense (455 passing, 345 rushing) on 112 plays.
"No matter what kind of look you got from the defense, he had multiple formations and the same plays out of those multiple formation that gave them such a different look. You really couldn't prepare for it," Churchman added. "His play-calling was just superb. As many snaps as we got in the game, he's two or three plays ahead before we were running the play that's on the field."
Despite the success, the Sul Ross administration shook up the football program following the 2012 season, leaving Walden in search of a new home. Word of his success traveled, and Walden landed on Joshua Eargle's staff at East Texas Baptist, located in 650 miles across the state in the deep East Texas town of Marshal. "Coach Eargle called me out of the blue. I'd never met him in my life but he said he'd seen my stats and see what I do," Walden said. "We talked a little bit and he said, 'There's no doubt in my mind that you're the one I want.'"
"When we had conversations about the game of football and our own personal philosophies, we realized how similar we were to one another in how we approach the game," Eargle said. "He has a knowledge of the system he runs that is extensive and proven to be successful in our conference."
"He's been given free reign with the offense. Coach Eargle handed it off and said, 'Do what you do,'" said Churchman, who will join Walden on the Tigers' staff next month.
With the 2012 season now fading in the rear-view mirror, Walden is like a hot new band hoping for a successful follow-up to his chart-topping debut. "This business is all about, what have you done for me lately? I could have the No. 1 offense in the nation last year, but that was last year," said Walden. "It's all about this year now. I'm fully focused on making the East Texas Baptist Tiger offense the best offense it can be."
Mic'd up at Wisconsin with RB coach Thomas Hammock
When it comes to developing and churning out some top quality running backs, Wisconsin's Thomas Hammock is about as good as it gets.
During the 2012 season Wisconsin had three backs go over 550 yards (one of only three schools to do so). Two of those backs (Montee Ball and James White) combined for nearly 2,800 yards rushing, while the third (Melvin Gordon) led the country in yards per carry (10 ypc).
Take a look here at how coach Hammock approaches practice and goes about his business with his guys. Combined with his ability on the recruiting trail, it's pretty easy to see why Gary Andersen wanted to keep him in Madison when he took the job.
'We'll use this picture for years to come when recruiting'
The excitement at Mark Stoops introductory press conference was quite a big deal, but Kentucky having more people in attendance at their spring game than Texas did was even bigger.
In 2012, Kentucky recorded just 4,500 fans in attendance. Just a few months ago the excitement that Stoops and his staff brought to Lexington helped them register nearly 51,000 fans, easily ranking in the top 10 for spring game attendance.
The image above, along with countless others that the staff and University took during the spring game that set their attendance record, will be used for years to come with recruits, and have a monumental impact when recruiting, offensive coordinator Neal Brown explained.
"Kids want to come play in front of passionate fan bases and a lot of people," Brown told Central Kentucky News. "For those recruits that were at that game, or the other recruits that we've sent pictures to, or other information about that game, it has a huge, huge, huge lasting effect."
We're excited to see how coach Stoops and coach Brown channel that excitement into their on the field product this fall, and for years to come.
Video: This is how Coach Andersen celebrated Mother's Day
Coach Andersen spent his Mother's Day having a BBQ for a handful of guys (about 70 in all) who couldn't make it home to spend Sunday with their family.
Classy move by Coach A and his family opening their doors for these guys...and the players were still able to show some love to their Mother's, with a little help from modern technology.
You also get a sneak peek on Coach Andersen's skills on the hardwood as he puts out one of his players in a classic game of "lightning".
Is Nick Saban the most underpaid coach in college football?
At a salary of $5.3 million, Alabama head coach Nick Saban is currently the highest-paid head coach in college football. He might also be the most underpaid.
Last week we highlighted a study done by a Harvard marketing professor showing the benefits a strong football season brings to its university as a whole. If one season can bring nealry an 18 percent jump in new student applications, what have three national championships in four seasons done for Alabama?
Forbes has quantified the Saban Effect in their recent piece "The Magic of Nick Saban: Everyone Wants to Go to Alabama." Growing the Crimson Tide athletic department profits by more than 250 percent from 2007 to 2012 won't shock anybody, but the growth Saban has wrought for the entire university will be an inconvenient truth for the anti-athletics crowd.
Take a look at some of Forbes' figures:
- Undergraduate enrollment has grown by 33 percent since 2007.
- Alabama's faculty has grown by 400 since 2007.
- Out-of-state freshman enrollment has jumped from under 33 percent to more than 50 percent.
- Over that same period, out-of-state tuition has grown by more than 125 percent.
- The flood of applications has allowed Alabama to lower its acceptance rate from 64 percent to 53 percent.
- Revenue generated by the 2012 freshman class is more than 225 percent greater than that of the 2007 freshman class.
- Donations to university scholarships and facilities topped $600 million for the first time in school history.
We'd have to enlist an Alabama economics professor to truly understand the value Saban has brought to Tuscaloosa since 2007, but I do know this: it's a heck of a lot higher than $5.3 million a year.
This program knows how to churn out quality videos
It's official. The guys at Linfield College (D-III - OR) have mastered the art of creating hype videos.
This clip, which opens up with a great motivational talk and then transitions to highlights from spring ball, is no exception.
This program knows what they're doing.