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Neuheisel: What matters is that we play well next year

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, back from a brief vacation to Cabo to celebrate his 50th birthday, must feel like the weight of the world is on his shoulders.

The Los Angeles and national media have been hard on Neuheisel for his strange handling of coaching staff decisions this off-season.

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Johnson was hired with Norm Chow still on the staff.  Boy, I bet that wasn’t awkward for Chow, who has since moved into a hotel in Utah.

The negotiations to land Nevada running backs coach Jim Mastro seemed to last for over a month.

Most heavily scrutinized is that Neuheisel has yet to name a defensive coordinator to replace Chuck Bullough, who was dismissed on December 18th.  Randy Shannon, Rocky Seto, Steve Brown, and other candidates have interviewed.  Neuheisel says the defensive coordinator hire will come this weekend.  At one point, Seto accepted the job, but the offer was later rescinded.

"I understand the scrutiny," Neuheisel said. "I understand the perception and all that kind of stuff but at the end of the day, none of that matters. What matters is that we play well next year."

"I understand the scrutiny. I understand the perception and all that kind of stuff but at the end of the day, none of that matters. What matters is that we play well next year."

Neuheisel also has the defensive line job open.  Yesterday, Todd Howard accepted the defensive line job at Washington State.  It was reported that Howard was dismissed early in the day.  By night, Washington State announced him as their new defensive line coach.  Who knows what happened there?

The Bruins’ non-conference schedule in 2011 includes at Houston, San Jose State, and Texas.

As a first-year head coach, how do you prepare for this?

There’s no way Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson could have prepared for this.  Four of Wilson’s initial hires have already bolted for other jobs.

To be honest, it’s hard to blame coaches that leave for Boise State, Nebraska, Michigan, and Oklahoma State.

It all started with Brent Pease.  Wilson hired Pease, who served as the wide receivers coach at Boise State, as his offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach.  Pease was recognized as the FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year.  But when Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin left for Texas, Pease opted to return to Boise State as the offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach.

Next up … Jerry Montgomery.  The former Wyoming defensive line coach lasted less than two weeks in Bloomington.  He jumped ship when Brady Hoke offered him the defensive line job at Michigan.

Next up … Cory Raymond.  After leaving Utah State, Raymond joined the Indiana staff, but moments later shot deuces and said, “Holla, I’m heading to Nebraska.”  Something like that.  

And today… it was Jemal Singleton’s turn.  Singleton was recently hired to coach the Indiana running backs.  Today, he’s on a plane for Stillwater, where he’ll be joining Mike Gundy’s staff at Oklahoma State.

So who is on the Indiana staff? Rod Smith (Co-offensive coordinator / quarterbacks), Kevin Johns (Co-offensive coordinator / wide receivers), Greg Frey (Offensive line), Mike Ekeler (Co-defensive coordinator / linebackers), Doug Mallory (Co-defensive coordinator / safeties / assistant head coach), Brett Diersen (Defensive ends), Brandon Shelby (Corners), and Mark Hagen (Special teams coordinator / defensive tackles).

We’ve heard that Wilson will be bringing in an new group of grad assistants and quality control assistants.  Our sources tell us the only one of that group that will be retained is David Elson, the former head coach at Western Kentucky.

It should be noted that 12 coaches accepted two jobs during last off-season.  That number is down this year.  We're pretty sure that number is six.  Des Kitchings went to Furman, but is now at Air Force.  Also, Justin Frye went from North Texas to Temple.

Here’s the complete list of coaches that accepted two jobs in 2010:

Kippy Brown (University of Tennessee to Seattle Seahawks)

Pep Hamiton (New Mexico to Stanford)

Hugh Freeze (San Jose State to Arkansas State)

Clay Helton (Arkansas State to Southern Cal)

Willie Martinez (Stanford to Oklahoma)

George Edwards (Florida to Buffalo Bills)

Brian Mitchell (Memphis to East Carolina)

Steve Ensminger (Texas Tech to LSU)

Clancy Pendergast (Oakland Raiders to Cal)

Greg Peterson (North Texas to Northern Colorado)

Ron Turner (Stanford to Indianapolis Colts)

Glen Elarbee (Toledo to West Georgia)

All-Access inside the war room on National Signing Day

Auburn significantly generated more enthusiasm from their fan base and kept recruits entertained throughout the year with their constant ALL-ACCESS youtubes.

It now appears Vanderbilt will follow a similar strategy by bringing fans and recruits closer to the program.

Vandy just released a well done ALL-ACCESS production that takes you inside the “War Room” on national signing day with James Franklin and his coaching staff.

Offensive quality control Charles Huff took the role of Roger Goodell by announcing each signature in the style of, “With the 8th pick, Vanderbilt University selects {signee}.”

After 4-star quarterback Lafonte Thourogood faxed it his National Letter of Intent, Vandy head coach James Franklin announced, “You don’t go into Virginia Beach and take a kid committed to Virginia Tech.  He benches 410 pounds!  Have you seen his arms?”

At one point, Franklin says on a phone call, “We got Baron Dixon decommited from Mississippi and committed to us.  We got tight end Vanderwall decommitted from Arizona State and committed to us.  We’ve been on fire lately.”

Regarding another recruit, quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne said, “He put on a South Florida hat, took it off and put on a Vandy hat.  There are picture of it.  Yes, he did.”

You have to make your fans into believers.  This is a good start by James Franklin and Vandy athletics.

Here’s the video:

Robert Gillespie offers proof that things are going fine at West Virginia

West Virginia running backs coach Robert Gillespie, who followed Dana Holgorsen from Oklahoma State, is describing the transition as “smooth and great.”  Those words are nice, but Gillespie offered more proof by turning down an opportunity to join Will Muschamp's staff at Florida.

Maybe things are OK in Morgantown, at least for those that are comfortable with Holgorsen.  After all, it’s not like Gillespie is going to say the transition has been really tough and the program is in for a long year of turmoil.

Gillespie told the West Virginia student newspaper, "It's been a smooth transition. This month has been good to meet these guys and get to know them. Everyone has a lot of good ideas. That's the reason I wanted to come here.”

"I know Coach Holgorsen understood what he was coming into, so if he was comfortable with it, I was comfortable with it. (WVU head coach Bill Stewart) has been great. I look forward to working with him and getting to know him. He's been welcoming to us, and it's been a great transition."

"The people inside of these walls, we know what's going on. So far, it's been great."

Certainly, the most convincing part is that Gillespie did indeed turn down an opportunity to return to his alma mater, Florida.

After being contacted by Will Muschamp, Gillespie released a statement last week that said, “I was flattered to have the opportunity to go to the University of Florida where I played my collegiate football. However, I am also very excited about West Virginia University and the football program. I believe the system is in place here and we are headed in the right direction. I made the decision for my coaching career, and my family, to stay at West Virginia University. I am excited about being here and being a Mountaineer. I am looking forward to my wife and family joining me here in Morgantown."

Folks, if you are turning down a chance to coach at your alma mater, you either know you will fight Charlie Weis in a matter of weeks OR your current situation is indeed pretty darn good.  

Quick Hits: Muschamp, Vaas, Callaway, Cignetti

Will Muschamp says coaches were calling about special teams coordinator / linebackers coach DJ Durkin: "I have two guys that I really respect in this profession that both called me and said, if you don't retain him, I'm going to hire him. That was a good motivating factor too, competition."


South Florida quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas is awaiting a call from Frank Spaziani: "I'm excited about the days ahead. It's just a question of am I putting on snow skiis or water skiis."


UAB head coach Neil Callaway compliments Will Friend, who is leaving the UAB to join Mark Richt’s staff as offensive line coach: “I know the people that you’re talking about and they’re all good coaches, but I’d put Will Friend up against any offensive line coach in the country. I think he’s that good.”


IUP head coach Curt Cignetti says he was surprised to get a standing ovation at the end of his first team meeting as IUP head coach: “This is a team like Alabama on a relative scale. I'd heard they'd gotten a little soft. So I went into the first team meeting and talked kind of tough. Nick (Saban) had the tremendous influence on my beliefs. I got that blueprint in my head, in terms of establishing core values. I went in and talked to them about discipline, commitment, paying the price, sacrificing, toughness. After about 20 minutes I walked out and they gave me a standing ovation. I couldn't believe it. I was touched.”

At least 37 programs will have a new quarterbacks coach in 2011

According to our reseach, at least 37 college programs will have a different coach tutoring the quarterbacks in 2011.  That’s over 30% of Division-I programs.

Several schools have yet to announce their new quarterbacks coach.  Boston College, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Rice, Temple, and Wyoming have yet to decide on who will tutor the quarterbacks heading into spring practice.

1. Arkansas State (Grant Heard), 2. Ball State (Rich Skrosky) 3. Boston College (TBA) 4. Boise State (Brent Pease) 5. Buffalo (Don Patterson) 6. Cal (Marcus Arroyo) 7. Central Michigan (Morris Watts) 8. Clemson (Chad Morris) 9. Colorado (Rip Scherer) 10. Florida (Charlie Weis)

11. Indiana (Rod Smith) 12. Kent State (Brian Rock) 13. ULL (Jay Johnson) 14. Louisville (TBA) 15. LSU (Steve Kragthorpe) 16. Maryland (Gary Crowton) 17. Miami (FL) (Jedd Fisch) 18. Miami (OH) (Charlie Fisher) 19. Michigan (Al Borges)  20. MTSU (Buster Faulkner)

21. Minnesota (Jim Zebrowski) 22. Ole Miss (David Lee) 23. Northern Illinois (Matt Cananda) 24. Oklahoma State (TBA) 25. Pitt (Todd Dodge) 26. Rice (TBA) 27. Rutgers (Frank Cignetti) 28. Stanford (Pep Hamilton) 29. Temple (TBA) 30. Texas (Bryan Harsin)

31. Troy (Kenny Edenfield) 32. Tulsa (James Kilian) 33. UCLA (Mike Johnson) 34. Utah State (Matt Wells) 35. Vanderbilt (Ricky Rahne) 36. West Virginia (Dana Holgorsen) 37. Wyoming (TBA)

Be sure to follow the FootballScoop Staff on twitter @footballscoop

Al Golden winning over Miami (FL) fan base

Al Golden is really starting to win over the Miami (FL) fan base.  Since accepting the head coaching job, Golden has done very well with the media.

No group seems too small for Golden to spread his message.  In fact, this week he met with the university student media.

Golden explained, “I have my alarm clock set at 4:45 am.  I’m usually in between 5:15 and 5:30.  That’s usually my quiet time to get some things done.  I usually write a lot of alumni and sign some autographs and that type of stuff...and plan for the day.  When 7 o’clock hits, the whole staff is in.  It will then be staff meetings.  We’ll finish with 2 and half hours of recruiting to cap the night off.”

“At the end of the day, I want a team that is known as a tough team.  I think toughness is a skill.  I think you can develop toughness, a mental toughness that we need to improve upon.”

“The second biggest think that I think the players are seeing a different level of player-coach relationship, the fact that our guys are involved in their lives outside of football, which is equally important.”

“If we don’t become a smarter and more disciplined football team, we don’t have a chance.”

“We have a Las Vegas rule.  What happens in the facility stays in the facility.  There’s definitely going to be more discipline, but I don’t want to specifically go into the rules of the program.”

“Certainly when you take over a place like Miami the brand is so much stronger.  There (Temple), we were trying to short the brand and sell the people.  Here (at Miami) we had the brand, we just wanted to get our people in front of the prospects and their families.”


Jimbo: Make people catch you, don't let them catch up. Don't even look back

Jimbo Fisher believes right now if the most important time in the history of Florida State football.

The Seminoles are coming off a 10-4 season and finished with the #1 ranked recruiting class in the country according to Scout.  The signing class includes five 5-star prospects, the most signed by any program in the country.

Interestingly, the ‘Noles went to New Jersey and North Dakota to sign two offensive linemen.  In fact, 7 of 28 recruits that signed were from outside the state of Florida.

Fisher says, "Florida State can get players and line up and do anything with anybody if we recruit right and do right."

"Keep building this thing and stretch it and get our facilities out there, build the indoor, build the dorm, right now is the time to make that stretch. It's never better than right now."

For Jimbo, it’s about being the leader.  He wants to get ahead.

“Make people catch you, don't let them catch up to you. Don't even look back. Don't worry about what they do."

The 2011 non-conference schedule includes Charleston-Southern, Oklahoma, ULM, and at Florida.