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Saturday TV - Army vs. Navy is finally here

The official end of the major college football season comes at the conclusion of today's historic Army and Navy game. There's also a handful of FCS games on to enjoy as well.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

No games

College: 

Georgia Southern at Old Dominion - 12 - ESPN

Arkansas Pine Bluff vs. Jackson State - 1 - ESPNU

Army vs. Navy - 3 - CBS

Wofford at North Dakota State - 3 - ESPN GamePlan

High School:

No games




The Scoop on Willie Taggart to South Florida

Multiple outlets have reported tonight that South Florida has hired Willie Taggart as its head football coach.

Taggart, 35, grew his coaching roots of the Harbaugh coaching family. Recruited by Jim Harbaugh to play for his father, Jack, Taggart was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Hilltoppers from 1995-98. Taggart stayed on after is playing career completed, coaching quarterbacks at WKU from 1999-02 and rose to offensive coordinator from 2002-06. 

Taggart left in 2007 to join Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford as the running backs coach, where he was named the FootballScoop Running Backs Coach of the Year in 2009 after coaching Toby Gerhart to an 1,871-yard season in which he came 29 votes shy of winning the Heisman Trophy. Taggart returned to Western Kentucky in 2010 to lead the Hilltoppers' voyage into FBS, taking the team from a 2-10 debut to consecutive 7-5 seasons in 2011-12. Taggart led Western Kentucky to the first bowl game in program history this fall, as the Hilltoppers will face Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26.

True to his Harbaugh roots, Taggart's WKU teams specialized in physical football with an emphasis on running the ball. WKU running back Bobby Rainey and Antonio Andrews have been the Sun Belt's leading rushers all three years of Taggart's tenure, averaging 134 yards or more in each season.

Taggart takes over a team that won just one Big East game in each of the past two seasons, and finished the 2012 season dropping nine of its last 10 games. In an interesting note from Bowling Green Daily News beat writer Chad Bishop, Taggart's contract with Western Kentucky dictates that South Florida now must schedule a home-and-home series with the Hilltoppers. 




Butch Jones introduced as Tennessee head coach

Butch Jones hit all the tried and true press conference cliches on Friday afternoon in Knoxville, saying that Tennessee is his dream job and the best college football program in America, and that his team will have attack in all three phases. 

But it was when Butch Jones went off the traditional script that his introductory press conference as Tennessee's newest head coach got truly interesting. 

Jones officially accepted the Vols' head coaching job this morning, and informed his outgoing team shortly thereafter. "When I told them I had accepted the position at Tennessee, they all started clapping and applauding," he said. This is a stark contrast to the taste his predecessor, Brian Kelly, reportedly left in the mouths of Bearcats players. 

Jones was hotly pursued by Colorado for its vacancy, going as far to have Denver Broncos head coach John Fox and quarterback Peyton Manning urge Jones to ink with the Buffs. "Four days ago got a text from Peyton Manning on Colorado," Jones said. "He said, 'It's hard to sell a Tennessee guy on the University of Colorado'. I said, 'Come on, I want to go to Tennessee!'"

It was well known that Tennessee offered the job to two other coaches before they offered it to Jones. When asked if that bothered him, Jones retorted, "Absolutely not. I think I was my wife's third choice and it's worked out for 20 years."

Jones and his staff will have to put their hard hats on, as a true reconstruction project awaits them at Tennessee. The Vols are in the midst of a 14-year SEC title drought and haven't posted a winning SEC record since 2007. Jones looks backward when to create a building block of his program. "Letter-winners have an open-door policy at any of our practices," he said. "They are welcome back at any time."

If he can get junior quarterback Tyler Bray and junior pass catchers Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson to return to school, Jones will have playmakers to work with. Even still, Jones urged players and fans alike to trust in a system that has brought him four conference championship and 50 wins in six seasons as a head coach. "The plan is invaluable if the players buy into it," he said. 

On the field, Jones illustrated that he wants his team to play with discipline, to take care of the ball on offense and take it away on defense. Jones' shied away from saying his offense will be a spread, intimating that it implied finesse, but did say his defense will play with a four-man front. Which is much to the delight of junior defensive lineman Maurice Crouch. 

Jones didn't get into specifics about hiring his staff, only stating that it will be the "best staff in America." He was asked about Tee Martin, the quarterback who led the Vols to the 1998 national championship and currently serves as the wide receivers coach at USC, saying "He's an individual that I plan to reach out to, but I plan to reach out to a lot of individuals."

What did Mr. Crouch have to say about Martin, you ask?

 Well, then. 

The press conference ended with Tennessee athletic director taking the mic and jokingly point out to Jones that the Vols' 2013 schedule includes road trips to Oregon, Alabama and Florida. The moment brought laughter to the room, but shed light on what a big excavation effort awaits Jones and his staff in Knoxville. 

 




Tubs explains recruiting advantage bowl location provides

Every coach would agree that earning your way to a bowl game and getting the extra practice time for your guys, especially your young players, is one of the biggest perks of playing in the post season. One of the other big advantages is in regards to recruiting.

If you're traveling to a specific part of the country it gives you an opportunity to be seen by a new demographic, and gives a chance for many fans and recruits to watch you play who might not have seen you play all season. In short, it's a chance to show a recruiting base what your football program is all about.

When it comes recruiting, Tommy Tuberville is one of the best and he explains that playing in a bowl goes a long way.

“Going to a bowl is priceless. You can’t put a price tag on it for recruiting.” Tubs explained in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

For Minnesota, Texas Tech's Meineke Car Care Bowl opponent, it's an opportunity for Jerry Kill and his coaching staff to showcase their program in front of one of the most talented recruiting bases in the country down in Houston.

"I remember last year in the state of Texas, there were 450 Division I recruits in football," Tuberville pointed out in the Houston Chronicle. "A normal state's got 15 or 20. The more you can get out and be accessible to the players and coaches and have a chance to put your name out there, it's about sales."

450 Division I recruits out of one state (even one as big and talented as Texas) is mind boggling. That stat alone makes it clearly seem like the big winners of bowl season are the teams that have been picked to play in bowls in Texas. Right now twelve teams have the distinct advantage of playing in a bowl game within the state of Texas. 

Oklahoma and Texas A&M (Cotton Bowl), Texas Tech and Minnesota, Rice and Air Force (Armed Forces Bowl), Oregon State and Texas (Alamo Bowl), Georgia Tech and USC (Sun Bowl), and Oklahoma State and Purdue (Heart of Dallas Bowl) all play in Texas based bowl games and thus will have a chance to influence a very large recruiting base. 

Tuberville noted that they're looking to increase their visibility and presence in the Houston area as well.

"When I took the job at Texas Tech, we only had one or two players from the city of Houston on our team. We need to have 15 to 20, maybe 25."

 

 




What We're Watching: NCAA playoff preview

With the exception of the annual Army - Navy game, FBS takes this Saturday off and we turn our attention to the playoff action at the lower levels. Here's what jumps out to us in the FCS Quarterfinals and the Division II and Division III Semifinals. 

FCS Quarterfinals

Sam Houston State at Montana State (8 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN2): This a rematch of last season's FCS quarterfinals, a 49-13 Sam Houston State win in Huntsville. The action moves to Bozeman this year where the Bobcats' seventh-ranked rush defense will hope to wrap its arms around a Sam Houston State running game that also ranks seventh nationally, and raced to 428 yards on the ground in last season's blowout. 

Georgia Southern at Old Dominion (12 p.m. ET, ESPN): No game this weekend will feature a clashing of styles quite like Eagles and Monarchs. Georgia Southern boasts FCS's most fearsome rushing attack, averaging 393.2 yards per game and 6.52 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Old Dominion leads FCS with 391.6 passing yards per game and 8.67 yards per attempt. The Monarchs have thrown for 41 touchdowns, seven more than anyone else in FCS, while Georgia Southern has rushed for 46 scores, the second-most in FCS. 

Wofford at North Dakota State (3 p.m. ET, ESPN3): The Terriers sit one spot below Georgia Southern on the FCS rushing chart with 357 yards per game and 5.99 yards per carry. Unfortunately for Wofford, a trip to the Fargo Dome to meet defending national champion North Dakota State awaits them. The Bison lead FCS in four defensive categories, including a rush defense that surrenders just 63.3 yards per game, 2.3 yards per carry only three rushing touchdowns on the entire season. 

Illinois State at Eastern Washington (6 p.m. ET, ESPN3): Illinois State's reward for surviving a 38-37 overtime shootout over Appalachian State is a trip to Cheney to meet No. 2 seed Eastern Washington on the infamous red turf. The Eagles are 6-0 at home this season, winning games by an average score of 35-19. The Redbirds, for their part, are 6-0 away from home this season. Neither team excels defensively, ranking 42nd and 49th, respectively, in scoring defense, so expect another shootout.

Division II Semifinals

Valdosta State (Ga.) at Minnesota State - Mankato (3 p.m. ET, ESPN3): Valdosta State, riding an eight-game winning streak behind one of the most balanced offenses in Division II. The Blazers throw for 260 yards per game and rush for 220 yards per game while placing sixth nationally with 42.7 points per game. The Mavericks come into Saturday unbeaten and riding a 14-game overall winning streak, relying on a defense that ranks among the top 15 nationally in four defensive categories and a No. 2 spot in turnover margin. 

West Texas A&M at Winston-Salem (N.C.) (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3): West Texas A&M attacks its opponent on both sides of the ball. The Buffs rank seventh nationally with 343.6 passing yards per game and 487.3 total yards per game while also leading the nation in sacks (4.14 per game) and placing sixth in tackles for loss with 9.14 per game. West Texas A&M enters the game at 12-2, with two losses coming in shootouts: 44-34 in the season-opener at Colorado State - Pueblo and 52-48 against Midwestern State (Texas) on Nov. 3. The Rams are equipped to win both a shootout and a slug fest with a fifth-ranked scoring offense (41.6 ppg) and third-ranked scoring defense (15.6 ppg). Holding a 13-0 record, Winston-Salem looks to avenge a loss in last year's Division II seminfinals when the 13-0 Rams fell to Wayne State (Mich.), 21-14.

Division III Semifinals

Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) at Mount Union (Ohio) (2 p.m. ET, ESPN3): At 13-0 on the year, Mary Hardin-Baylor's rushing offense has yet to be stopped in 2012. The Crusaders rush for 306.5 yards per game and score 50 points per game, the second-most in Division III. Unfortunately for UMHB, the Crusaders will travel to face the only team to outscore them thus far and boast the best pound-for-pound defense in college football. Mount Union leads Division III in three defensive categories and ranks second in another. Opposing offenses have rushed 376 times for 483 yards (1.28 ypc) and two touchdowns on the year. The Mount Union defense hasn't been more forgiving through the air, allowing opposing passers to complete 44.9 percent of their passes for 4.26 yards per attempt with 10 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

Wisconsin - Oshkosh at St. Thomas (Minn.) (3 p.m. ET, ESPN3): The back end of the Division III Semifinals features another meeting of 13-0 squads. Wisconsin - Oshkosh, the team that dethroned Wisconsin - Whitewater as the kings of Division III football in Wisconsin, ranks 16th nationally in both scoring offense (39.3 ppg) and scoring defense (14.9 ppg). The Tommies are equally balanced, scoring 37 points per game and ranking with the top 20 of Division III in each of the four major defensive categories. 

 




VIDEO: A tour of the athletic building at Central Michigan

The folks from Advent are at it again with another masterpiece. This time they're showing off the work they did to the athletic offices at Central Michigan.

The task that Central Michigan gave Advent was to update the wall space in the hallways and weight room in the athletic department's main building while also telling the story of Chippewas athletics. This is a program with a proud history of 15 conference championships and six bowl appearances since 2006. 

Brad Wachler, CMU's associate AD for business affairs, said, "Without a doubt I think it's become a huge recruiting showcase for us and that's what our goal was. This is where our football recruits walk through, but beyond that, now I see a lot of other coaches from other teams bringing their recruits through here now. 

"From a football perspective, when you see that NFL wall, when you see our championships, those are our showcase elements. When (recruits) see those successes, they're going to want to come to CMU."




The Scoop on Butch Jones to Tennessee

The speculation at Tennessee is finally over, Butch Jones is officially heading to Knoxville to take over the head coaching position. A press conference has been scheduled for 2:30pm ET.

Jones' coaching career started as a grad assistant at Rutgers back in 1990, before he moved on to the offensive coordinator at Wilkes College (D-III - PA). From there he moved back to his native Michigan (he was born in Saugatuck), where he took over as the offensive coordinator at his alma mater Ferris State (D-II - MI), and eventually moved on to Central Michigan where he served in numerous capacities (coaching the tight ends and then running backs) before being named offensive coordinator.

Jones then spent a brief one year stint at West Virginia coaching the receivers before coming back to Central Michigan as the head coach in 2007, and then moving on to Cincinnati in 2010, following in Brian Kelly's footsteps at each stop. 

Overall as a head coach, Jones has compiled an impressive record of 50-27, including a 32-12 in conference play (combined in both the MAC and Big East). 

Under Jones' leadership, Cincinnati has always been one of the most exciting offensive and defensive units to watch. On offense, they've been known to spread you out and be incredibly balanced, and on defense they're going to be fundamentally sound and pin their ears back and flat out get after the quarterback.

At Tennessee, Jones will take over a program rich in history that has taken a step back in recent years. 2010 and 2011 marked the first time in school history that the program had finished under .500 in back to back years. Their losing season this year solidifies the first time that the Vols have had three consecutive losing seasons in the University's history. While the Vols rank in the top 25 in passing, total offense, sacks allowed, and scoring offense, they really struggled on the defensive side of the ball this season. They ranked 86th in both rushing defense and pass efficiency defense, and 104th or lower in total defense and scoring defense. Turning around a program that plays in the toughest conference in the country is going to prove to be quite the challenge for Jones and his staff.

Taking a look at their schedule for next season, they'll play at Oregon and at Florida in back to back weeks (weeks three and four of the season), and will also have to travel to Alabama later in the year. Home games include contests against Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn and Vanderbilt. Not exactly the type of schedule that most coaches would like to see coming into a new job, but such is life in the SEC.

Tennessee could end up being a very good fit for Jones. It's an area that's not far removed from where he has established his Midwest recruiting ties, and is at a University with a proven track record and is able to give a new head coach all the resources that he will need in order to be successful. He'll have access to top shelf facilities and the financial backing to assemble the best staff that he can find. The schedule will be tough, and it will likely be an uphill battle, but no team in the SEC has an easy road.

 

 




VIDEO: Sonny Dykes' first day on campus

Before taking the podium at yesterday's presser, where he was officially announced as Cal's new football coach, Sonny Dykes arrived on campus and took the obligitory tour and introduced himself to the team.

Here's a quick look at what his first day on campus looked like. You can read more on his introductory press conference here, where he addressed more than just football at Berkeley.