Fitzgerald: "We're smarter than we look"
After rattling off five straight wins to open the season (including a road win at Syracuse followed by home wins against Boston College, South Dakota and Indiana) Northwestern came up just short (39-28) during their game last Saturday against Penn State.
The Northwestern staff was one of only 16 teams in the country to keep their entire coaching staff intact. Minnesota (this weekends opponent) was also one of those schools. Defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz and offensive coordinator Mick McCall are both in their fifth year with the Wildcats.
During his press conference earlier this week, Coach Fitz was asked about a banner that McCall and the offensive staff used to conceal their signal callers that were relaying the plays to the field. It's not something particularly out of the ordinary for staffs to do, but Fitz noted the start of Big Ten play as one of the main reasons for the banner.
"We’re smarter than we look," Fitz explained. "We know what’s going on. We’re getting into Big Ten play now. We know that they know that we know. You’ve got to have answers. We have answers."
‘‘When you’re playing in the nonconference, it’s not as big of a concern. But when you’re playing in league play, like I said, we know that they know that we know."
Prior to their loss Saturday, the Wildcat offense had ranked 42nd nationally in scoring offense, putting up nearly 33 points per game on average and had eclipsed the 37 point mark in three of their first five games (all wins). The Wildcats managed to put up 28 points on a Penn State defense that had not allowed a 20 point game since their week 1 loss to Ohio.
Heading into this weeks game with 4-1 Minnesota, Northwestern ranks 14th nationally in rushing offense (234 ypg) and 15th nationally in defending the run (103 ypg). The Wildcats have also been getting it done on special teams, an area that Coach Fitzgerald oversees and every coach has a part in, ranking 3rd nationally in punt returns with over 27 yards per touch.
In the locker room for James Franklin's first SEC road win
The cameras were in the locker room before and after Vanderbilt's game on the road against Missouri last weekend and captured defensive line coach Sean Spencer, and head coach James Franklin addressing the team. The two coaches touched on the opportunity that they had and what it was going to take to leave Columbia with a win.
"You've got an unbelievable opportunity right now. Because your going to live a little bit, and the your going to die a little bit...and we're going to do a lot more living than we do dieing."
"Today, the SEC and the nation are going to find out what the real Vanderbilt football is all about." Coach Spencer told the team.
Franklin then got up and told the players that he wanted to see passion, anger and frustration on the field.
When it was all said and done, the Commodores ended up getting their first SEC road win (19-15) under Coach Franklin and improved to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play. This weekend they take on Florida (5-0, 4-0) at home, followed by two more home games against Auburn and UMass.
Oregon receives $250,000 donation...for the running backs room
A few months ago we visited Oregon during our Pac-12 tour and were very impressed by their existing facilities...and we noticed that they had broken ground on an entirely new football facility. Trust us on this one, this new facility will be top 3 in the country (and maybe the best).
This morning we saw a note that former Oregon running back, and Carolina Panther, Jonathan Stewart has donated $250,000 to go towards the facility.
The interesting part about Stewart's donation is that it is directed specifically to the running backs meeting room.
Anyone else have a $250,000 meeting room? #DuckSwag
Doeren: Our fourth quarter success is due to confidence
In three of their six games this season, Northern Illinois (5-1, 2-0) has had to come from behind and put together a strong fourth quarter to come out with a win.
Three of their last four games have come down to a strong performance in the final quarter. Against Army it was an 8 yard touchdown pass to win the game. At home against Kansas it took 17 fourth quarter points win 30-23, and this past weekend the Huskies scored within the last five minutes to cap off a 14 point fourth quarter for the 35-23 win over Ball State.
Following their one point loss to Iowa in week one, Northern Illinois has put together five straight wins. That game against the Hawkeyes was the only game this season that the Huskies scored no points in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Dave Doeren credits much of their success to the confidence that his players and coaching staff have when the game is on the line.
“I just think we have a lot of confidence as coaches and as players. Our resolve, the fact that we don’t quit, we don’t flinch, we don’t panic, and I think the belief and I think our guys are mentally tough." Doeren explained.
All of those are needed to for a team to rally for a win late in games, perhaps none more important than confidence from both the coaches and players. This weekend they'll take on Buffalo at home. Their remaining MAC schedule features only one team with a winning record (Toledo at 5-1).
In his first season, Doeren led the team to an 11-3 record, including a 38-20 win over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com bowl. With the 5-1 record this season, Doeren has improved to 16-4 in his second season as a head coach. Good things are happening in DeKalb.
LSU is 8-0 under John Chavis when scoring a defensive touchdown
If history is any indicator, as long as LSU scores a defensive touchdown on Saturday against South Carolina they'll end the game as winners. We know...easier said than done.
Last week we noted that 100 yards rushing was the magic number under Les Miles, where the Tigers are 47-0 when rushing for over 100 yards and holding opponents to under 100 yards on the ground. In their loss to Florida last weekend, they ran for just 42 yards, and allowed 176 yards rushing. So while that streak may still be alive, it's not exactly the way that they'd want to keep it intact.
This morning we noticed that LSU is 8-0 under defensive coordinator John Chavis when scoring a defensive touchdown. The Tigers are 12-1 under Les Miles in that same category dating back to 2005. Add to that the fact that LSU has won 23 straight games when winning the turnover battle (a streak that dates back to 2008) and you've got to feel pretty confident when the Tigers score or win the turnover battle.
So far this season, South Carolina has lost 8 fumbles and thrown 2 interceptions.
In the overall series, LSU holds an impressive 16-2-1 edge over South Carolina (with the Gamecocks last win back in 1994, an 18-17 win) , but Steve Spurrier is 11-3 (and 5-2 in Baton Rouge) all time against the Tigers. His offenses have averaged 32 points per contest, while his defenses have given up just over 14 points per game against the Tigers.
The Gamecocks are riding a 10 game winning streak coming into Saturday's game, dating back to last season. That streak is the longest in the nation, with Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia just behind them with 9 consectutive wins.
With kickoff scheduled for 8pm ET, the Gamecocks win streak is on line. Les Miles is 57-5 in night games, including an impressive 35-2 mark in Tiger Stadium.
Wednesday TV - No games tonight but three FBS games tomorrow
No games on tonight, but we will get three FBS games tomorrow night including Arizona State at Colorado and Western Kentucky at Troy.
All times eastern.
Dooley has hip surgery - a legend in the making?
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley had hip surgery today and plans to coach Saturday upstairs in the box at Mississippi State.
According to reports, Dooley began to notice the injury several weeks ago but believed it was muscular. Friday he went in for an MRI and received the results (fracture in his hip) yesterday. Surgeons inserted a pin into his left hip. There is word that his only other option was a full hip replacement.
We're pretty sure typical "doctor's orders" don't include flying three days after hip surgery or subjecting yourself to the stress of coaching four days after this surgery. Strong move by Dooley. Now, if they are down ten heading into the 4th quarter and Dooley limps onto the field Willis Reed style and the Vols pull one out...
Knight Commission report has interesting data on job security
A study published by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in September ascertains that the turnover rate among FBS head coaches has increased from 16 percent to 19 percent since 2006 (concurrent with the advent of the BCS). At the same time, the turnover rate for FBS athletics directors has dropped from 15 percent to 12 percent.
There are many reasons for this, but the clearest is this: money. While always controversial, the BCS created a rising tide of cash flow across the entire FBS and especially within BCS automatic qualifying conferences. For coaches, more money means more expectations. The higher the expectations placed on a coach, the shorter the leash when the results fall short of what is expected. Our expectation is that this trend will continue when the new playoff system is implemented in 2014.
Money is also the reason FBS athletic directors find themselves enjoying increased job security. Increased bowl payouts and larger television contracts make an athletic directors’ primary job, balancing the budget, easier.
-In real numbers, there were 19 new hires across FBS in 1992. This number grew to 21 in 1999 and then dropped to 17 four years later, only to climb to 23 hires in 2007 and 25 in both 2010 and 2011.
-Meanwhile, the number of FBS ADs changing jobs peaked at 21 in 1995 and steadily declined since. In 2011, only five FBS schools hired new athletic directors. In fact, in 2011 there were nine more changes in head coaching positions (25) than ADs (five) and university presidents (11) combined.
-The study also details that head football coaches experience a lower term expectancy than their bosses on campus. In 2007, an FBS head coach could expect to stay on the job for an average of 6.59 years, close to a year less than the athletic director (7.98) and president (7.49).
-Interestingly enough, head coaches and athletic directors enjoyed more job expectancy at the AQ level than non-AQ. In 2011 an AQ athletic director had been on the job an average of 9.46 years, compared to 6.13 at non-AQ schools. Similarly, AQ head coaches averaged 7.09 years on the job versus a 6.11 average at non-AQ programs.
The Knight Commission study also chronicled the rise in “off-the-field personnel.” The amount of titled football operations directors and video coordinators has exploded over the last 20 years, rising sharply with the advent of the BCS.
-In 1991 there were zero video coordinators in major college football and only two football operations directors. Four years later tha number of video coordinators exploded to 59, while football operations directors remained rare (15). Fast forward to 2007 each position had become an essential member of staffs across the country, as schools employed 124 football operations directors and 117 video coordinators.
-As DFOs have become more commonplace across college football their standing within the athletic department has slowly risen. For instance of the 91 football operations directors in college football in 2003, 76 held director of operations titles while a mere 15 carried titles including associate/assistant athletic director. That number has nearly doubled in the near decade since, growing to 29 in 2011, but still stood at less than a quarter of all DFO personnel in FBS.
The entire study can be viewed seen here. Every "ops guy" should download a copy and take a look. Plenty of good information in here.