UCLA staff: Nobody's in a rush to go home
The seven new members of the UCLA staff have an impressive 90 years of combined experience either playing or coaching at the NFL level, and Jim Mora explains that they are meshing very well so far.
“I love them, but I’ve felt like that since the day I hired them. I hired them knowing their personalities already, knowing what their strengths were as football coaches, knowing how they dealt with players. I really never had a doubt that they would gel quickly. I’m extremely satisfied with them. I love every single bit of what they’re doing out here.” Mora explained.
New offensive line coach Adrian Klemm says that one of the biggest reasons the staff is clicking so well is the new environment that has been created in the offices.
“There’s a lot of energy. It’s fun being here. Nobody’s in a rush to go home. It’s easy to work in an environment when it doesn’t feel like work.”
Playing at the highest level is one thing, but having substance to go along with it and earning players respect is another. Linebackers coach / special teams coordinator Jeff Ulbrich explains that the new staff has a good mix of experience and substance.
“It helps when you open the door and you start your meeting. It helps with credibility, but if there’s no substance then that gets forgotten really quickly. I think coach Mora has done a great job assembling a group of guys that not only have NFL pedigrees but have substance to them.”
Mora and the staff will wrap up spring practices with their spring game on Saturday.
Video added - Hitting the course with coaches
The Chick-Fil-A Bowl Challenge, a golf event featuring college head coaches and celebrities from around sports and entertainment, wrapped up earlier today with some familiar faces coming out on top. In total, Chick-Fil-A is donating over $750,000 to the institutions represented at this event. If you don't already love Chick-Fil-A (and who doesn't), you now have reason to.
Last year's champion, Paul Johnson and Jon Barry of team Georgia Tech, once again took the crown coming in -10. Georgia Tech won $125,000 in scholarship money for their University.
In the all important long drive competition, Al Golden packed it 303 to win. Staring down a 94 yard par 3, Urban threw a dart to within two feet to win the closest to the pin.
Notable results from the event...
Al Golden 303
Hugh Freeze 276
Dabo Swinney 260
Randy Edsall 255
Derek Dooley 250
Paul Johnson 235
Steve Spurrier 233
Dan Mullen 227
No reported "whiffs" this year.
As for the real game, Johnson and Barry won at -10.
Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Terrell Buckley and Maryland's Randy Edsall and Stan Gelbaugh finished just behind the defending champs at -9.
Dan Mullen and Fred McCrary came in at -8, as did Frank Beamer and Dell Curry.
Urban and Jeff Logan came in at -7, as did Saban and Johnny Musso.
Spurrier & Sterling Sharpe, Derek Dooley and Stanley Morgan, Hugh Freeze & Sean Tuohy, Larry Fedora & Roy Williams and Al Golden & Gino Toretta all came in at -6.
Jim Grobe and Riley Skinner finished at -5.
Dabo Swinney & Steve Fuller along with Tom O'Brien & Tom Gugliotta finished up at -1.
O'Brien: The difference between college and the NFL
There were many changes when Bill O'Brien stepped on the field for the first time in Happy Valley, none more evident to him than the difference between NFL and college players.
"When you coach pro players, they've played football for so long, and they have very good instincts. In New England, a lot of those guys have been there for a long time, so you were more into X's and O's than you were into teaching them how to throw the ball, and what foot to step with on this block, or how to control this gap."
His first time on the field with the Nittany Lions made him take a step back and reflect. "You've been around the best of the best for five years and so you have to train your eyes that these are college kids. And a lot of it was, early on, that they were thinking instead of playing because everything was new for them."
After about a week of spring ball, O'Brien's eyes started to adjust to the college game. "You could see where, oh, this guy can run really well, or, this guy does catch the ball really well or, this guy is more explosive than I thought he was. That was more my eyes being trained on the college athlete as opposed to the pro athlete. That was an adjustment I had to make the first week or so."
Another one of the big changes was recruiting, which O'Brien hadn't done since his time as the offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach at Duke back in 2006. He was admittedly "out of shape".
"Recruiting is out of shape. It's like riding a bike, but I hadn't done it in a while. It's changed a lot, with all the different, the internet sites, Facebook and Twitter. There's so much information out there. The one thing I've found about recruiting is that if you are yourself and you're honest with the prospect, then you have a great shot with that prospect."
Inside Scoop: While the head coach is away...
Great, quick interview this afternoon with Pete Golding, defensive coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana.
Head coach is away, what's the staff up to..."how to gain 20 pounds in three months"...thoughts on opening up with Missouri...and Golding's thoughts on an up and coming coach who's going to be doing this for a long, long time.
Vandy at work
James Franklin and the staff at Vanderbilt have done an outstanding job chronicling their growth as a program since he was hired in December of 2010.
The video below follows the journey of the commodores this past off-season, complete with spring game highlights and a reminder of their season opener against South Carolina and the Ol' Ball Coach.
Inside Scoop: Neil Weiner - Hudl & Spring Ball
Neil Weiner, head coach at Zachary HS (LA - 5A), visited with us this morning. Topics include last night's Hudl Tour stop which Weiner hosted as well as a look ahead at how his staff is preparing for Spring Football which begins next week in Louisiana.
Of note, Weiner mentions that LHSAA officials recently stopped allowing Louisiana high schools from scrimmaging against other teams in the Spring...Weiner, and most coaches we know, sure would enjoy having that option again.
Quick recap from the Hudl event last night...overall this was a well attended event (my estimation was about 100 coaches, probably 80 of them high school and the other 20 from local colleges). Some of the coaches drove in from as far as four hours away. Seemed like overwhelmingly positive response from the coaches in attendance whose knowledge of Hudl seemed to range from Expert down to "I've never used it...but hear I need to learn."
Hudl staff spent an hour or maybe 90 minutes going over frequently asked questions, optimization techniques, new features, etc...and then everyone broke out into four groups to dig deeper into specific questions. After that, everyone came back together to hear about things from "Hudl Labs" i.e. things still in development that hopefully will come to fruition but for which Hudl hasn't yet released a timeline for.
In short, I came away very impressed by how enamored the coaches in attendance were with Hudl. A couple of quotes we tweeted last night included:
A high school coach saying, "College coach calls me and asks for video of a kid, now with Hudl he's watching the video before we hand up."
A college coach said, "I've worked with five different editing systems over the years. Hudl is far and away the best I've ever used."
A high school coach said, "Our players picked this system up in minutes and now show us how to run reports. Our kids love Hudl."
If you have the opportunity to join one of the remaining Tour stops, it's a good investment of your time. Hudl isn't going to stop growing anytime soon. If you aren't already using them, you likely will be soon enough.
Pic below is from last night's event at Zachary HS.
Video: Academic center at Ole Miss
The FedEx academic center at Ole Miss is impressive.
As the most recent episode of "Rebel Life" shows us, tutors are available all morning and evening, and there's no shortage of computers and other resources at the players disposal.
In the clip below, Hugh Freeze explains the advantages of having a degree from Ole Miss and the plans that him and his staff have in place for their student athletes. A minute or so in you get a good inside look at the academic center.
Tressel begins new gig
Although he's already been on the job for a few weeks, today marked the official start of Jim Tressel's new job as the Vice President for Strategic Engagement at Akron.
“My days of sitting in front of a football video machine and watching film, they disappeared a long time ago” Tressel told Fox 8 of Cleveland.
Tressel has long maintained that he wouldn't coach forever, and the change to an office with a window view hasn't been as crazy as he had originally thought.
“People used to always ask me when Joe Pa was going whether I was going to coach as long as Joe Pa? And my answer was always emphatically 'No'. And so yes it was a change. But I don’t think it was as dramatic as what I thought I was going to be.”
More from Tressel below.