Western Kentucky getting after it
After losing their first four games last fall, Willie Taggart led Western Kentucky to wins in seven of their last eight games to finish an impressive 7-5. Their only loss during that span was a 42-7 loss to LSU.
After finishing with a bowl eligible record, and not being invited to a bowl game, Taggart and the crew have the guys putting in some serious work to make sure they don't leave anything to chance in 2012.
The video below is just a brief peek into the work that they've been putting in the past several months.
Video tour: Farmers Field in Los Angeles
Proponents of Farmers Field released a video this morning of a fly-through of the proposed stadium in order to generate some added excitement. The complex will not only house a state of the art stadium, but will also be home to an impressive convention center in Los Angeles.
The stadium plans have room for a family friendly tailgate area that will have room for 15,000, a fresh produce farmers market, and a 47,000 square foot ballroom with plenty of extra exhibition space.
As long as everything goes according to plan, they hope to finish the stadium by 2016 and attract at least one NFL back to LA.
A conference spanning 5 time zones?
Conference USA announced five new members last week with the additions of Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, and Texas-San Antonio, and according to Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick, they've got much bigger plans in store.
One thing that Marshall head coach Doc Holliday likes about the new conference alignment is the new talent pool that it brings to the conference.
"The one thing that you have to take a look at, when you look at every one of those schools, their recruiting base is huge. I mean you look at Texas, there's a lot of players in Texas. Those Texas schools are going to be talented. There's as many players in south Florida as there is anywhere in America. FIU, as you saw in the bowl game, is going to have excellent players. Charlotte's a beautiful campus with a bunch of students. They're going to have a great facility. There's a lot of players around there."
Last Friday, C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said that they are focused on growing the league even further, which is the same message that Hamrick shares.
"What we're going to do in Conference USA is going to get stable and the Mountain West is going to get stable, and then we're going to continue on discussions of how these two conferences can get together to form a national conference."
"When I say national, I'm talking about five time zones. From East Carolina on the east coast to Hawaii."
Richt: Drills are great but...
After a season filled with disappointing punt and kick return coverage, Mark Richt promises more live kick scenarios in practice this fall after they spent much of the off season taking an in depth look at their coverage schemes.
"My guess is we'll have more live kicking reps in the fall than we've had in a while. Some of that is because we're going to be breaking in a new punter and a new kicker. They need to be under pressure as much as possible and it's hard to create that pressure unless you're doing some live situations."
Richt explains that he likes all the drill work they've been accustomed to in the past, but there's no replicating a full speed drill against the best available players.
"We also just need to see for our own eyes can a guy make a tackle out in the open. Drills are great, but when it gets down to it, you have to have that sensation of being able to corral a guy out there when you're covering a punt or covering a kick. You need to have your punts rushed full speed to make sure there's no problems."
"We're going to do a lot more good-on-good because you need to find out if you've got an issue in camp rather than the first or second game of the year. So we'll do a lot more live kicking situations than we have, maybe since I've been here."
JUCO Video: Live Forever
East Mississippi Community College wrapped up an impressive 12-0 season in 2011, finishing the season as National Champs.
Once they escaped with wins in their first three games (they won those first three by a combined 10 points), they put up at least 41 points in each of their remaining 9 games. The defense was also able to hold half of their opponents to under 17 points throughout the course of the year.
The video below highlights the excitement of the journey of head coach Buddy Stephens and the team on the way to the schools first ever National Title.
Very well done video here.
Mic'd up at Illinois
Billy Gonzales joined the Fighting Illini in January, bringing with him some great experience from LSU, Florida, and Utah.
In the clip below from their spring practices, Gonzales runs his receivers through individual drills, gets them focused up during stretches, and also serves as a defender during a screen drill. Good stuff.
Leach weighs in on the worst part of coaching
The Omaha World Herald ran an interesting interview with Mike Leach over the weekend where the Coug's head coach opened up about the possibility of a college football playoff, his respect for Tom Osborne and his least favorite part of coaching.
Leach says the worst thing about coaching is the distractions that come up throughout the year. "The worst thing is dealing with distractions. You've got a plan to do something, then all of a sudden there's a distraction."
According to Leach, one of the the biggest challenges of being a head coach is finding balance managing everything surrounding your program, something he felt Tom Osborne excelled at.
"Tom Osborne never had highs and lows. He withstood the test of time. One of the biggest challenges of being a head coach is to be a good balancer, having the ability to balance all the things inside and outside the program. To me, it seems that Tom Osborne is one of the best balancers that's ever been involved in the game."
Leach also weighed in on the recent talk of a college football playoff.
"I think they need to have at least an eight-team playoff for it to do any good. Eight, I think, is the minimum you can get by with. Sixteen would be better. But I'd rather see 64. You'd cut the regular season down to 10 games, then make sure everybody plays 12 games if they don't get in the playoff. The teams that make the championship game would play 16, just like they do in Division I-AA."
20 teams make the playoffs in FCS, 24 in D-II and D-III...
Inside look at a successful California JUCO
As far as JUCO programs go, Cerritos College has a long and rich tradition of success on the field and preparing players to transfer to four year schools. The past two seasons have produced back to back conference championships and bowl wins, and head coach Frank Mazzotta has served as head coach for over 34 years.
Mazzotta and the staff visited the staff at Michigan State last week to swap some ideas, and to check up on a former player of theirs that is now the starting offensive tackle for the Spartans. Dantonio and the staff in East Lansing complimented the Cerritos staff on how prepared the young man was from the moment he arrived on campus.
The clip below gives a great inside look at the program at Cerritos where you hear from players on exactly how the staff prepares them for life after they walk away from campus in Norwalk, California.