When Will Muschamp was hired, "There was no Plan B"
According to Yahoo!Sports, after Urban Meyer announced his retirement as the Gators head coach, athletic director Jeremy Foley made just one phone call. He had a short list in mind, but that list included just one man, and that man was Will Muschamp, Texas' head coach in waiting.
Since arriving, Muschamp has worked with strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman to make many changes that have contributed to their turnaround and mental makeup as a team, bit none are as interesting as the rule they have during their conditioning tests.
This past season players had to complete a conditioning test consisting of 16 straight 110-meter dashes. Skill players had to finish each one in 15 seconds, while running backs and linebackers were given 16, and lineman had to cross the line in 18 seconds. Those who don't finish in the allotted time line up to do it all over again. That's pretty standard at a lot of programs.
What makes Florida's unique is the way that they keep their guys mentally tough during the rest periods. Hands on the hips and bending over are not allowed. That would show weakness, which is unacceptable. Instead, when players get tired they have to wiggle their fingers and smile. For some reason when we picture this actually happening, we picture "spirit fingers" and a cheesy smile that would make a cheerleader jealous.
Another way that they trained for a mental edge was running nearly double the amount of 110's that they were scheduled to run during the conditioning test. Instead of running 16, they'd practice by running 30. After that, 16 should seem easy.
Another method that has attributed to their turnaround is their recruiting philosophy that focuses on "good guys" not just the five star prospects. After all, Muschamp is also the recruiting coordinator, so he makes the rules on just about every front.
"I'll turn my back on a five-star guy if he isn't a good guy. I have zero reservations about that. ZERO reservations."
"I'm the recruiting coordinator here," he added. "You're not a good guy, you go somewhere else. We'll play you. We'll beat you."
The mindset for the Gators has definitely undergone a change under Muschamp, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Muschamp firmly believes that he has helped develop one of the top teams in the country, and he's done it by doing things his way.
Leach: We played six offensive lineman every snap this year, that's a first for me
Asked about the biggest challenge that he faced this season at Washington State, Mike Leach noted a first for his coaching career.
"One of the most 'marathon' things that I've ever seen...I've never even heard of this really. But we had six offensive lineman take every snap that we did this year. Every one."
"Usually you do it with eight, which means that everybody's effort is cut by about a third. And then if you get the thing in hand, which we didn't get any in hand, then you play the seconds, and thirds." Leach explained.
"We had six guys play vitually every snap. So that was fairly challenging."
Newest Heisman promotion for Manti Te'o
Vegas may have Johnny Manziel as the odds on favorite to win the Heisman, but the guy that has captured the hearts and minds of the American public this season remains to be Manti Te'o.
I can't remember the last time a player has overcome the types of obstacles that Te'o has this season (including the death of his girlfriend and grandmother in a 24 hour period), while still having a level of production and consistency that rivals some of elite defensive players of recent college football memory.
Off the field, Manti epitimizes everything that the Heisman stands for. Voters won't have an easy decision.
Take a look at Notre Dame's newest Heisman promotion for Te'o. Take notice of the clever hashtag.
Wheaton makes a strong case for "small quarterback U"
Coming into this season, the Wheaton College (D-III - IL) offensive staff had a unique challenge in front of them. They had to tmake a decision between two two highly successful, and game tested quarterbacks.
Jordan Roberts won the job over Garrett Meador back in 2010 when they were both sophomores, and led the Thunder to a playoff berth and 10-2 record, while also setting a new school record for completion percentage (66.4%)
Had Roberts stayed healthy, it would have been very difficult to beat out. But during a preseason scrimmage, he suffered a season ending injury and Meador stepped in and ran with the opportunity. In his first season as a starter, Meador led Wheaton to an 8-2 record and was named the conference and North Region player of the year, and also finished just behind Roberts' completion percentage record.
So when both of their senior years rolled around this season, head coach Mike Swider and offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Joe Davis had quite the decision on their hands. They found themselves having to chose between two proven signal callers, which is ironically a situation that many FBS coordinators and head coaches wish that they had to make heading into their season opener (minus the obnoxious media questions everyday of course).
Both of those guys had opportunities to play in bigger environments coming out of high school (Roberts was a two time All-State QB, and Meador was a national player of the year and All-American), but the unique faith based environment that Wheaton offers often appeals to big time players with strong religious convictions.
Because of their on the field success combined with that unique religious environment, the staff at Wheaton is able to be very selective when recruiting. In many cases, they're going to get the cream of the crop and their far-reaching footprint has allowed them to be able to recruit at a national level for the past several years. Once players get on campus, the staff does a great job of developing them physically, mentally and spiritually, and that combination usually leads to having deep junior and senior classes which always pays off on Saturdays.
As the graphic below illustrates, Wheaton has had a rich history of D-III quarterbacks, and it's hard to think of another small college program that has seen this kind of sustained success. Mount Union has recently become known for having their receivers make a splash in the NFL, so maybe Wheaton is starting to head down that same road for their quarterbacks.
Only time will tell, but they seem to have a lot of the pieces in place. An appealing college environment, a coaching staff hungry for success for their players both on and off the field (coach Swider has been there 17 years as the head coach and has spent 28 years on staff). To top it all of, not only do they have a room full of players that many higher level schools were fighting over, but the players are committed to being there for the long haul and are men of character.
Regardless of where you're coaching, that's a very good formula for success.
Take a look at the graphic below and come to your own conclusion.
Thursday TV - Football is back on tonight
Finally, after a few nights without football, we'll have Louisville at Rutgers and New Orleans and Atlanta tonight followed by some conference title games tomorrow.
Eastern time listed.
New Orleans at Atlanta - 8:20 - NFL Network
Louisville at Rutgers - 7:30 - ESPN
Les Miles to remain on the bayou
Les Miles got a contract extension and raise from LSU on Wednesday. In the wake of an SEC championship in 2011 and a 10-2 regular-season in 2012, that LSU decided to reward Miles for a job well done is no surprise. But one can not ignore the timing, just one day after reports surfaced that Arkansas was prepared to offer Miles a five-year, $27 million contract to move one state to the north. It just wouldn't be Les Miles if there wasn't an oddball factor complicanting things.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva stated that the Arkansas report had nothing to do with Miles' extension although, to his credit, he also said that he knows the media won't believe him.
"It has been my plan all along to give (Miles) a raise, and that's what we're doing," Alleva said.
LSU won't win the SEC this season, but Alleva is most pleased with Miles' ability to keep the Tigers in contention year after year.
"It's not always about winning championships," he said. "It's about being in the hunt to win championships."
Miles, whose 85-20 record makes him the fifth-winningest coach in SEC history, said that he has spoken with Araknsas AD Jeff Long, but not to the extent that was reported. According to Miles, there conversations were preliminary and "fell short of major interests." Miles denied he was offered the five-year, $27 million deal. Miles said he talked with Long to recommend other candidates for the Razorbacks' vacant head coaching position. The two worked together at Michigan where Miles was an assistant coach and Long was an assistant athletics director.
Speaking of recommending other candidates, Miles was asked about LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis' candidacy for the Tennessee head coaching job.
"John Chavis is a tremendous coach who has a good overview of what a successful program looks like," said Miles. "If Tennessee was looking for a quality candidate, John Chavis should be one."
Miles' extension, which will last seven years, has not disclosed financial terms as, per the press release, they are still being negotiated. The USA Today coaching salary database lists Miles' salary at over $3.85 million.
Miles said that he gets embarrassed discussing money but offered, "I'm fortunate to have an occupation that pays a tremendous market value."
More than anything, he's glad that his family will be in Baton Rouge for the long haul, saying, "I think home is what we call this place."
Inside the Illini's new equipment truck
On occasion, we like to show some love to the equipment guys out there that make our jobs as coaches much easier. This video from Illinois highlighting their new equipment truck (loaded with all the right features) was definitely worthy of some attention.
The clip has some good footage inside of the design of the new trailer (which took 8-10 months to design), as well as a tour of the cab which includes bunk beds for the long trips and some insight into how they set up their schedule for road trips.
Gary Patterson has considered switching sidelines during home games
Considering what he has looked at changing to add to their "win" column, some coaches would call Gary Patterson superstitious. But for Patterson, it's all about finding creative ways to get players in a winning mindset.
After starting a new tradition of walking off the bus and through tailgaters on their way to the stadium, dubbed the "Frog Walk", TCU got off to a slow 0-3 start in home conference games. Three of their four losses have come at home, including the 56-53 triple overtime loss to Texas Tech.
"We may cut that out. I'm going to do whatever I've got to do to get ourselves back." Patterson said of the walk.
The Star-Telegram states that Patterson has also considered moving TCU to the other sideline, in front of their student section, and even wearing the road white uniforms at home."
"You've got to find a way to win at home. I told them if I have to I'll move over to the student side. If I could have changed uniforms so I could have fooled my group [into thinking it was a road game] I would have worn white at home. We seem to play a lot better in white."
Injuries to key positions, especially the quarterback spot, have definitely contributed to the Horned Frogs (7-4 )struggles. Overcoming that, and winning at home are a few marks of a championship level program, and Patterson and his staff have recognized that.
"We've got to get back to where [we were] because if we don't control home, if we don't protect the Carter, then we'll never win a championship. Getting beat, period, bothers me."
While we don't see them switching sidelines (which, let's be honest, would make for a really interesting storyline), it sounds like Patterson is more than willing to get creative to make sure that they finish strong at home against Oklahoma before heading to a bowl game.