4 new FBS programs
The opening of the 2012 season will mark the start of a two year journey for four teams hoping to achieve full FBS membership. Each of these teams has seized the opportunities presented by the conference alignment shake-ups to give their program more exposure and the potential of much bigger pay days. While the allure of the FBS money and fame is appealing, it isn’t for everyone. Teams that apply to join the FBS are required to undergo a two year probationary period where they must prove that they can sustain an average attendance of over 15,000 per game.
Texas State University, led by Dennis Franchione, is one of the schools making the jump this year, but like its fellow FBS provisional schools, it is not taking on this challenge blindly. Texas State has set out plans to not only meet, but exceed the requirements of FBS membership. In the two years leading up to the switch from FCS play, Texas State averaged 13,000 and 15,000 people per game respectively putting them at the threshold of meeting the requirements before the trial even begins.
Early returns are telling the folks at Texas State that their calculated gamble is already paying off. According to their director of ticket sales, Joe Verschueren, they have already surpassed their previous record for season ticket sales. He expects that they could triple their average ticket sales by the time the Bobcats take the field this September.
One of the reasons for the increase in sales is the added exposure that comes from being able to host teams like Texas Tech this coming year. This season's opener will be the first game in their newly refurbished field that has been doubled in size to prepare for the FBS move. In addition to Texas Tech, the Bobcats will also be taking on top 25 program Houston and a tough slate of WAC teams. Here is a full look at their schedule for this coming season:
9/1 Texas State University @ University of Houston
9/8 Texas State University vs. Texas Tech University
9/22 Texas State University vs. Stephen F. Austin State University
9/20 Texas State University vs. University of Nevada
10/6 Texas State University @ University of New Mexico
10/13 Texas State University vs. Idaho
10/27 Texas State University @ San Jose State San Jose, Calif. (WAC)
11/3 Texas State University @ Utah State
11/10 Texas Tech University vs. Louisiana Tech
11/17 Texas State University @ Navy
11/24 Texas State University @ University of Texas - San Antonio
12/1 Texas Tech University vs. New Mexico State
Only time will tell how successful the move to the FBS will be for Texas State and its cohorts (South Alabama, University of Texas – San Antonio, and UMass), but you can be sure that there are many other successful teams from the FCS and Division II levels that will be watching their transition very carefully to see if they too are ready to for the challenges and possibilities of FBS football.
For more information on the plans for this season and a look at the new Texas State Stadium, check out the video below.
Making football more important at Arizona
Making football more important has been Rich Rod's goal since he was hired at Arizona.
"It's a cultural change. It's not like you haven't had good football here in the past, but you haven't gone to the Rose Bowl. What needs to change? It's not just the guy sitting in the head coach's office. It's a whole mindset. It's making football more important."
In an article from Dennis Dodd of CBSSports, Rodriguez compares Arizona with West Virginia. "It's going to be painful at times and costly. I've told people this: It was like (when I started at) West Virginia 12 years ago except better weather. The mindset at West Virginia is, (football's) a bigger deal."
Rodriguez admits that, selfishly, he wants his players thinking about football all the time.
"It's OK for football to be really, really important. If you want to know why the SEC is so good, it's because football is really, really important to them. You don't have to sacrifice academics. You can still have a so-called social life, but gosh darn, football has to be important. Selfishly, I want them to think about football all the time. When they're not in class, when they're not in church, I want them thinking about football."
Late last night we communicated with two representatives of Arkansas and this morning we have spoken with coaches involved in this process. Based on those interactions we feel highly confident in the following.
Discussions with Garrick McGee have ended. Representatives told us that Jeff Long has made the decision that having a full process after the season was better for all parties involved....adding that asking any current head coach to take this position at this time wasn't the right thing to do.
Arkansas will stay in house, appointing one of their current assistants as interim head coach for this season.
Arkansas has their Spring game on Saturday and then their assistants are on the road on Monday. Based on what we were told last night and the timing mentioned here, we're speculating that the announcement of the interim will occur at or after the Spring game (possibly as late as Monday; but we don't think they'll wait that long).
Sources we have spoken with tell us that contrary to what others might be saying, the players and coaches have been quite focused this week and the staff feels that they have had an excellent past week of practice. The staff is very supportive of the decision to remain with an interim coach for the season and, as we told you days ago, is already considering possible candidates to fill the open assistant spot.
Yard work for the Buckeyes
Ohio State has already pre-sold over 47,000 tickets to their spring game on Saturday, and Urban Meyer is more than ready to finally hit the field.
"I’ve been fortunate enough to coach in some of these big spring game atmospheres, and there’s nothing like it. It’s priceless. You can’t simulate this atmosphere in any indoor venue or out on the practice field." he told the media yesterday after practice.
Meyer anticipates a lot of passing during the spring game, although he's still not sure who will be on the receiving end of those balls. “The ball will be thrown a lot. I just don’t know if it will be caught.”
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman will serve as the head coach for the Scarlet team and defensive coordinator Luke Fickell will handle the coaching duties for the Gray team.
Keeping with the competitive mindset in everything they've done since Urban arrived in Columbus, the losing team will be putting in some extra work next Friday on a community service project. That project might just be doing three hours worth of landscaping at Buckeye Grove, just south of the stadium.
Changes in philosophy and technique at Wisconsin
The Wisconsin coaching staff is full of new faces, and with new faces come new experiences and techniques for the players.
UWBadgers.com caught up with a few key returning players and the new coaches to talk about the changes in technique and philosophy so far.
"We try to keep it simple," new linebackers coach Andy Buh said. "You've got to be able to move your left foot left, and your right foot right, put your right hand up and your left hand up. It's real simple. Play fast, make full speed decisions and if it moves hit it, and if it's in your way knock it down."
Some advice for high school coaches
The Toledo Blade wrote an interesting article on how the rise through the coaching profession has changed, citing new Ohio State corners coach Kerry Coombs as the perfect example.
Historically in Ohio, many great coaches have rose from the high school level to become college coaches (Woody Hayes, Earl Bruce...etc). At one time, high school used to be the pipeline for college coaches and administrators looking to fill their vacancies.
Ohio State has carried on that tradition, in a sense, with two assistants that were once former Ohio high school head coaches. Coombs is one of them, and tight ends coach Tim Hinton is the other.
Coombs modestly admits that Ohio is full of high school coaches that could handle coaching at the major college level. "I bang that drum all the time, I tell people all the time there's a lot of people coaching at this high school or that high school that can do this job. I'm not a better coach than a lot of guys I coached against. Some of them are probably better coaches than I am."
While he was happy at the high school level, Coombs definitely appreciates the opportunity he has now. "I was going to be a high school football coach until the day I die, now I'm going to coach on a national championship football team someday, can you imagine that? In my state?"
He said he almost quit after the first day because of the image of the approach that he had for college coaches. "I tried to be a college football coach, what I thought a college football coach should be and be cerebral and have my arms folded. I was absolutely miserable and almost quit after the first day. I decided I needed to coach the way I was comfortable, and that's the way I coach. I don't know any other way."
He shares a little bit of advice for high school coaches hoping to make the jump to the big time someday.
"Pray, you like to think that you found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." he said while laughing. "I would tell every high school coach to do the best you can at the job you have, don't worry about what's coming. I didn't look for any of these jobs. Something is just out there for you. If you're good at what you do and you try hard and you try to be a good person, something good is coming your way. It has for me."
Sunseri's unlikely film partner
During his playing days, Sal Sunseri would come home from practice and watch film a few rolls of film on the weeks opponent...with his wife.
"At that time she was a gymnast, and she understood that if she was going to spend time with me, it was going to be watching tape." Sunseri added that she came to genuinely enjoy it, and when the Olympics come on "she's a wacko".
"The bottom line is she'd sit there and she'd watch tape with me, and I would tell her what was going on. So she, right now, knows more football than a lot of other people out there." Sunersi explains that he believes his kids success in football (Tino plays at Pittsburgh and Vinnie plays at Alabama) is due in large part because of the lessons that she eventually handed down to them from the film sessions with him.
Sunseri said that Vinnie got a list of things that he did wrong at Alabama's spring game from his mother, and Sal said he was right on the money with her assessment.
As for the Vols, Sunseri has been impressed with the initiative that the Tennessee players have shown getting in the film room to learn the new defensive system and believes that they're right on track with where they need to be.
Pushing to the limit at Clemson
Clemson just came out with a solid weight room highlight.
Joey Batson and the strength and conditioning staff have put together an impressive program utilizing everything from chains to high intensity cleans to some killer core workouts.