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Sonny Dykes starts his Cal tenure by focusing on more than just football

Sonny Dykes is in for a world of difference in moving from Ruston, La., to Berkeley. While working as the offensive coordinator at Arizona from 2007-09, Dykes starting setting his eyes on moving to Berkeley one day. When that one day arrived, Dykes said it kept him up at nights. 

Dykes continually referenced two themes throughout his introductory press conference: finding players and coaches that will fit the culture at Cal, and creating a healthy marriage of academics and athletics. 

"I believe there's a direct correlation between having academic success and athletic success," said Dykes. "We will have the highest expectations on the field and in the classroom. This is what Cal demands from its student-athletes."

Dykes circled back to the word fit multiple times, hoping to find players and coaches that will mesh with a culture unique to many places across college football.

"I'm a big believe in fit," he said. "Certain people fit certain places, and our duty is to find student-athletes that fit the culture at Cal."

Dykes detailed his vision for what Cal's offense will look like, saying his ideal quarterback will be a mobile guy that can run the ball 8-to-10 times a game. 

"Our brand of football is fun. We're going to move the ball and score points," Dykes said. He also noted that, unlike Texas Tech, his offense focuses just as much on moving the ball on the ground as it does through the air. His 2012 Bulldogs team famously threw for more than 350 yards a game, but also an average of 43 times for 227 yards a game.

Hoping to have his staff finalized within the next 10-to-14 days, Dykes stated that his most important task will be finding a defensive coordinator. 

"I have four or five names in mind that I want to interview," Dykes explained. "One week you may play Stanford, one week you may play Oregon. We have to be prepared to play both styles."

Among the first questions Dykes fielded from the assembled press was about the defense he left behind at Louisiana Tech, which finished the 2012 season ranked last in the country in total defense. 

"Obviously I know it's something that needs to be addressed," Dykes said, citing that his 2011 team led the WAC in scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. 

Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour declined to elaborate when asked about Dykes' contract or on a potential salary pool for assistant coaches, only saying that, "Sonny and I are working together to provide the resources to bring the best college football staff to Berkeley."

If the rest of his tenure as the Bears head coach mirrors his press conference, Dykes' time as Cal's head coach will focus on much more than just football. 

"There's a dedication to excellence in everything that Cal touches," Dykes said. "This is a very special institution and I'm blessed to be a part of it."


Report: NFL considering radical rule change for kickoffs

For its upcoming issue featuring NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the cover, Time Magazine has reported that Goodell has spoken with Rich McKay, who heads the league's competition committee, about a radical change to the way the NFL approaches kickoffs.

Former Rutgers head coach and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano has long championed a re-imagining of the way the NFL approaches kickoffs, but accounts from the interview brought his idea further into the national focus.

According to the report, a kickoff would become a 4th-and-15 situation from the offense's 30-yard line. The team possessing the ball would have the choice of punting or running an offensive play with one attempt at achieving a first down, essentially trading one high-risk, high-reward play, the onside kick, for similarly low-probability, but safer, option.

"It's different and makes you think differently. It did me," Goodell said.

Should the rule be adopted by the NCAA in its current form, and thus far there has been no indication it will be, it would represent a radical change to the game. In FBS, the 62nd-best net punting unit (representing the exact middle of FBS membership), averages 36.7 yards per punt. That number translates to an average starting field position of the 33-yard line.

The NCAA tweaked its kickoff rule before the 2012 season, bringing touchbacks out five yards further to the 25-yard line. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the rule had prompted an increase in touchbacks from 16.5 to 38 percent but, through five weeks of the season, the average starting field position had moved only from the 28-yard line to the 27. 

ESPN reports that fired coaches are due to collect $31 million

ESPN came out with an interesting piece today highlighting the cost of firing a coach before his contract runs its course.

Not surprisingly, Gene Chizik had the biggest buyout at $7.5 million when he was let go at Auburn. Cal's Jeff Tedford's $6.9 million payday wasn't a "buyout", but Cal will have to pay him the remainder of what he was due in his contract.

According to the ESPN article, Ellis Johnson's $2.1 million buyout adds up to 11% of what Southern Miss' entire athletic department generated all of last year.

Newly hired Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has a hefty buyout of $12.8 million if he's fired within his first three seasons. If he chooses to leave on his own, he'll owe $3 million in the first year, and that number will reduce by a half a million dollars each year.

Of course, some of the buyouts are contingent on upon whether the coach gets another coaching job (or in some cases broadcasting), and can be offset, or in some cases terminated, based on the coaches next gig. For example, Gene Chizik's buyout will be offset based on any future coaching or broadcasting jobs, while Robb Akey's will be terminated upon his hiring by another university.

This goes to show that once the decision has been made to head in a new direction, as long as the right boosters come forward to financially back the decision, or the program has the proper resources, there is almost no "buyout" that is too big. For coaches that have invested so much time, love, and energy into a program, that's never good news.

Here's a full look at what athletic departments have commited to their former head coaches.

Gene Chizik (Auburn)- $7.5 million

Frank Spaziani (Boston College) - Unknown

Jeff Tedford (Cal) - $6.9 million

Jon Embree (Colorado) - $1.6 million

Mario Cristobal (FIU) - $900,000

Robb Akey (Idaho) - $330,000

Joker Phillips (Kentucky) - $2.55 million

Tom O'Brien (NC State) - $1.2 million

Danny Hope (Purdue) - $600,000

Skip Holtz (South Florida) - $2.5 million

Ellis Johnson (Southern Miss - $2.1 Million

Derek Dooley (Tennessee) - $5 million

Bill Cubit (Western Michigan) - $145,000


A personal note about Bruce Feldman's article

Yesterday Bruce Feldman put out an article about the "feud" between my younger brother and me. The article received widespread media distribution. Unfortunately, many seemed to characterize the "feud" as funny. The truth is that it actually is very sad for our family and is something that my family and I hope comes to an end soon. 

Pete is the godfather to one of my children, stood in my wedding and has always been one of my best friends. For each of the last ten years Pete would come stay at our house frequently and my wife, kids and I would visit him in Oxford. My children make him Christmas cards and miss him terribly. 

My family and I have offered unending moral and financial support to Pete. We want nothing more than for him to be successful in life. 

The ongoing attempts that he makes to smear FootballScoop and me personally aren't coming from the person that we knew for the last 30 years. We hope to have him back in our lives one day soon. 

I am extremely proud of FootballScoop and all that we do to help coaches. Our viewership has grown nearly 50% this year alone and every month this year we have easily set a record for viewership. This isn't about me. We do this to help coaches and their appreciation is what we value most. 

We thank everyone for their continued viewership of FootballScoop. 

Wide receiver blocking done right: Texas A&M

The Texas A&M coaching staff is proud of how their wide receivers preformed this season. Very proud, in fact. So proud they created an 11 minute highlight video featuring their receivers...blocking! 

Led by position coach David Beaty, a finalist for the FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year award, the Texas A&M receivers did have an outstanding season. In Mike Evans and Ryan Swope, the Aggies were the only team to produce two of the SEC's top six pass catchers. Every receiver in Texas A&M's six-player rotation produced at least 250 receiving yards and one touchdown grab.

But what Beaty, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and head coach Kevin Sumlin are most proud of is how physical the Aggies' receivers played. In fact, the first half of the video is nothing but blocks. The Texas A&M coaching staff credited its receiving corps with 92 knockdowns, 90 score blocks and 861 body blows this season. Johnny Manziel's rushing totals are the best evidence of the effort Texas A&M's receivers put into blocking. A quarterback can't run for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns without help from his receivers.

Jimbo Fisher offers Rod Carey some humorous Orange Bowl advice

At the conclusion of the Orange Bowl press conference, Jimbo Fisher (who has obviously brought his team to Miami before) offered some advice to Northern Illinois' Rod Carey, who is coaching in his first bowl game as a head coach.

Keeping a bunch of college kids focused while in Miami is a handful by itself, so on the topic of curfews, Jimbo's advice to Carey was "Just know where they're at."

Carey laughed and thanked him for the advice before Fisher added, "Hey, I'm going to have the same problem. My problem is they know where to go."


The rising tide of dollar figures in college athletics

The phrase "a rising tide lifts all boats" has never had a more practical application than in today's college sports landscape. What began with the Big Ten Network's launch in 2007 and has continued with the Pac-12 Networks, the Longhorn Network and the upcoming college football playoff and SEC network, the sport's leaders collectively realized that college football was an undervalued television property. Fans tuned-in in droves to see their favorite teams play, and in turn, revenue has jumped for almost all schools that comprise BCS conferences. 

As reported by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education, Texas led all schools with total athletic revenue of $163.3 million in the 2011-12 academic year. Ohio State ($142 million), Michigan ($128.8 million), Alabama ($124.1 million) and LSU ($114 million) rounded out the top five. 

In all, 11 schools (five SEC, four Big Ten and two Big 12) raked in more than $100 million. Three additional schools, Arkansas, Iowa and Notre Dame, came within $3 million of reaching the $100 million plateau. As recently as five years ago, only Texas, Florida and Ohio State topped $100 million. 

In 2007-08, 15 schools reported income in excess of $80 million. Last year, that number jumped to 27 schools. Five years ago, Arizona checked in as the 50th-richest program with a revenue of just under $47 million. In 2011-12, Maryland placed at No. 50 with $62.6 million in revenue. So the numbers are increasing across the BCS landscape.

But as Jon Solomon of AL.com reports, schools at the top end of the respective conferences are seeing revenue grow faster than their lower-end peers.

"In 2007-08, Texas made $81.7 million more than Iowa State, the poorest Big 12 school. The Longhorns' margin over Iowa State was $108.1 million last year," Solomon writes. "The gap between the wealthiest SEC school and the poorest SEC school increased on average by $1.1 million per year between 2007-08 and 2011-12. In the Big Ten, the gap between first and last increased by $920,000 a year."

The revenue explosion is only going to continue with the forthcoming college football playoff (which ESPN will pay close to half a billion dollars annually to televise) new deals for the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl (worth a total of $80 million a year) and Orange Bowl ($55 million a year). 

As has been discussed many times in this space and elsewhere, rising revenues are a double-edged sword for college football programs. Colleges will continue to pour more money into facilities, salaries and recruiting budgets. But with more money brings more expectations and shorter leashes on struggling programs. 


Barry Switzer rationalizes Bielema's hiring

So, Barry Switzer has weighed in on Bret Bielema's hiring at Arkansas. It's a great quote.

Here's what Switzer had to say;

"The first thing I heard today was that he grew up on a pig farm. That's quite a start in my book. And my last memory was watching him hang 70 on Nebraska. Just those two facts are enough. Then, I hear that he's out of the Hayden Fry-Bill Snyder-Barry Alvarez coaching tree. Oh, that's enough for me to like a lot. Then, I hear he's got a 27-year-old wife. Okay, we can stop. I like him."

Instant classic.