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Willie Taggart's message to season ticket holders

Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart sent a letter out to season ticket holders recently, with a specific mission enclosed.

The mission had a few well defined objectives. First to re-energize the fan base who didn't think they could succeed in major college football, and secondly, to get more people at the games and out tailgating on Saturdays.

The full letter can be read below.

Season ticket holders:

I know that you all are already "true believers," and you already know that crucial next step that I talked about depends on our fan base, so what I want to do today is DEPUTIZE each one of you, and SEND YOU OUT ON A MISSION. This is Coach Taggart's CALL TO ACTION, and here's what I want to do.

First, we know some of our most enthusiastic fans from the past lost some of that enthusiasm because they honestly doubted we could succeed in major college football. I am asking you to get them back, get them fired up, and get them to buy their season tickets.

Then, there are bunches of new prospective fans out there that may be friends of yours. They may follow us through the  and really wish us well, but they don't attend games. With a little encouragement from you many would become Hilltopper faithful and join the tailgate parties on Saturdays.

Finally, almost all of you are connected in some influential way to our local , restaurants, civic clubs, churches, and the media. With your leadership, and your influence, and with the cooperation of our athletics department, all of those groups can become active participants in the great spectacle of major college football. If you can get them connected, we will find ways to get them involved.

So, in your role as Coach Taggart's special deputy, your specific mission is to get five new fans to buy season tickets. If you can't get five, then get two. If you really try to get two and cannot, then I will be proud of you if you can bring one new Hilltopper fan into the fold. Just think what it will mean to our , in addition to the lift it will give our team on the field:

-Bring national recognition to our university

-Increase revenues and enhance the overall growth of our university

-Stimulate  efforts - for students as well as for student athletes

-Help out our team into conversation for bowl bids and possible conference realignment

-Economic stimulus to the community and the entire area

-Source of pleasure and pride - enriching experiences for all of us

Now, don't see this as a job. There can be great satisfaction in pulling people together in a worthy cause, and great fun in coming together to enjoy the success that follows. Join us as we chase greatness, and then share with us excellence that we intend to catch. Evey time you recruit a new Hilltopper fan, give me a call. If I'm not in the office, give the information to my Administrative Assistant and I'll get back to you. I will report your name and contribution to our football team, and I guarantee you that it will make us play a little bit harder. Honestly, it will make a real difference.

Consider yourself deputized, and consider this Coach Taggart's call to action. Let me thank you all once again for your support of WKU Football.


Willie Taggart Head Coach

We also noticed a video that echoed the same message. The video guys did a great job pairing up some great workout footage with a ton of quality motivational quotes.

The video wraps up with a simple message saying "7-5 wasn't good enough. 15,000 fans a game wasn't good enough. This time we won't leave it up to bowl committees. Blame no one. Make no excuses. Do something!"

Rebel road trip

While the assistants have hit the road recruiting, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and Athletic Director Ross Bjork hit the road to meet with boosters and drum up support at conventions and other events around the state.

The tour, which started yesterday with a trip to The Dock Bar and Grill in Gulfport, include stops in a total of 15 cities across Mississippi.

For two of the newest faces of Ole Miss athletics, it's been a great way to get out and visit with the Rebel faithful. “This is a great way to kick off my tenure, a great way for Coach Freeze to meet people around the state he hasn't met before.” Bjork said. 

Bjork explained his excitement and believes many of the pieces of the puzzle are in place for Ole Miss to succeed. "“The foundation is there. $125 million worth of facilities the last 10 years, the atmosphere at Swayze Field, the atmosphere in ‘The Grove,’ the Manning family, the ‘Blind Side.’ There are so many assets we have to work with.”

After catching a glimpse of their travel accommodations, we can see they are definitely traveling in style. There's no doubt who's coming to town when this bus rolls in.



Fun at Northwestern

If you've ever been up to a spring practice at Northwestern, you know that Pat Fitzgerald likes to work some fun into practice on occasion.

The video below shows the typical spin around with your forehead on a bat race that's been turned into a team building activity.

Ten spins around the bat, then hand it off to a teammate 5 yards away. However, the staff threw in a nice little twist at the end....the last player also has to eat a hot dog.

You can't make this kind of stuff up. 

Freeze's recruiting pitch

It's no secret that Hugh Freeze uses the fact that he was "The Blindside's" Michael Oher's real life coach while he's out on the recruiting trail, but an interesting article with the Atlanta Journal Constitution got some insight into just how it's used.

“It’s going to get discussed.” Freeze told the paper. If the recruit doesn't bring it up, Freeze won't be shy about it. 

"No doubt, it helps. It’s an instant icebreaker for our assistant coaches or me, particularly for kids who have not heard of Hugh Freeze outside of the states of Mississippi, Tennessee or Arkansas, the places I have coached."

“I think everyone has at least knowledge, if not seen the movie ‘The Blindside,’ the story of Michael Oher, which is a great introduction to who we are and how we want to go about treating your young son if he joins us. I definitely think it’s something we should use in recruiting.”

Asked if he carries around copies of the DVD around with him during visits, Freeze responded "I haven’t done that. But Michael Oher did an interview not too long ago, which he gave me an enormous amount of praise about our relationship and how he thinks I will do at Ole Miss. We’re certainly going to have that with us."

Along with locking up the top recruits in the state of Mississippi, Freeze aims to dip into Georgia as well for top talent. He added that him and his staff firmly believe that if your a recruit that can have success at Georgia, then you can have success at Ole Miss as well, and vice versa.

The head coach also explains his belief behind the three things recruits should choose a college based on. First on that list is the chance for academic success, followed by their chances for athletic success. "As far as athletic opportunities, there’s no greater place in the SEC right now to have a better chance to impact than ours right now. But I think the No. 3 thing they should consider that really makes you the best at items 1-2, is choose the right environment for you. The reality is, we’re probably not going to be the right fit for everybody, and they’re probably not going to be the right fit for us. I really believe strongly in getting the right fit for your core values, who you are, and the philosophy to which your program is going to build on

"I think the environment that we are going to create will attract a certain type of kid. That, combined with an athletic opportunity to compete early, be a trendsetter and trailblazer, and help us do something special here...hopefully will attract some of those Georgia kids to come with us.”


9 first round picks in two years?

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have put together an impressive run. They've rolled out two of the last three national titles, are second only to Stanford in BCS graduation rate, and they have also been able to churn out an impressive number of first round draft picks.

With the NFL draft starting on Thursday, Bama has 5 guys projected by many experts to go in the first round (although we all know the draft never works out quite the way it's projected). If they do end up having five guys go in the first round this season, on top of their 4 picks in the first 28 choices last season, it would mark an impressive run of 9 first round picks in a two year span.

Doing some quick research, we noticed that feat would rank right up there just behind Miami, who had 10 first round picks in a two year span back in 2003-2004 (including Kellen Winslow, Vince Wilfork and Andre Johnson) and just ahead of USC who churned out 7 first rounders in two seasons in 2008-2009 (including Mark Sanchez, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews).

At a charity event yesterday in Mobile, Saban addressed that possibility, and noted that it's not necessarily where you get drafted that's important, what is important is the opportunity that they have after the draft and being able to take full advantage.

Video: Sports Science with Oklahoma State

Sports Science released a draft special highlighting Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon yesterday, and to see the type of talent that Mike Gundy, and Todd Monken have to work with in Stillwater is nothing short of impressive.

Brandon Weeden showed off his accuracy by taking out some clay pigeons, and Justin Blackmon showed his impressive range by being able to catch anything within the area comparable to the size of a two car garage. Once he got into his rhythm, Weeden took out 4 out of 5 clay pigeons at one point.

Seeing this display of talent, it's easy to see how the Cowboys finished with the #2 passing offense in the nation (387 ypg), #2 scoring offense (49 ppg), #7 in passing efficiency (160.78) and #3 in total offense (546 ypg). 

John L. Smith to Arkansas

It's official. Arkansas is bringing back former assistant, and current Weber State head coach, John L. Smith to serve as the interim head coach for the season.

"I am extremely pleased to welcome Coach John L. Smith back to the Razorback program as our new head football coach. Coach Smith brings a wealth of football knowledge, BCS conference head coaching experience, passion for the game and a close familiarity with the current team and coaching staff. I firmly believe that his selection is in the best interests of the young men in our program and will also best serve the mission of our football program and university in achieving success on and off the field in the upcoming season and in the long term." Athletic Director Jeff Long said of the hire.

His contract will be for 10 months and be worth $850,000.

Smith has spent a total of 18 seasons as a head coach including stops at Weber State, Michigan State, Louisville, Utah State, and Idaho.

In the short term, this hire makes a ton of sense. First and foremost, the entire program and all the players are familiar with him. Also, bringing John L. back allowed the staff to remain completely intact and does volumes in terms of the continuity allowing first year Razorback coordinators Paul Petrino and Paul Haynes to focus on their offenses and defenses. Overall, the move keeps everyone on the same page.

We also saw a note earlier that Smith has worked with 8 out 9 of Arkansas' current assistants at one point or another in his career. That was surely a huge factor for Long.

Although this makes sense for the season, a number of sources that we talked to assured us that there will be a complete search for a permanent head coach come December.

As the official press release states, "Long announced the University of Arkansas will continue to evaluate the program and the head coaching position in anticipation of naming a head coach following the 2012 season. The current appointment will allow the program to identify a head coach for the future of the program in a timeframe that is more conducive to attracting the potential candidates expected for one of the nation's premier football head coaching positions."

Smith will be officially announced at a press conference tomorrow at 2 p.m CST.

National media seems to be polarized by the hire. As examples, here are CBS Sports' Gregg Doyle's thoughts (very negative) and Yahoo Sports Pat Forde's take (very positive). 

As for Weber State, we'll keep you posted to how things play out. Their AD just took to twitter to voice his thoughts: 



Ole Miss Video: "The Program"

Ole Miss just released a video entitled simply "The Program", highlighting the changes that the new coaching staff has brought on board, as well as the offensive and defensive philosophies. 

Linebacker D.T Shackelford has been impressed with the amount of time that the coaches are putting in with interaction with the players off the field. 

"I may get a text sometimes in the morning, and it has nothing pertaining to football. It's probably something about life, or in the afternoons I may get something saying we got film. It's just constant reminders and you can just tell they care."

Hugh Freeze made one thing very clear during the video. They will understand how to compete for an SEC West title. 

"We're going to put ourselves in position in years to come to be in the mix for that. I understand how tough this conference is, but Ole Miss is going to put ourselves in the talks for the SEC West Championship and not only on the field, but also in recruiting classes. We refuse to think we can't compete with others for those titles."

As the first practice wrapped up, Freeze commended the team on their effort and attitude, and then reminded them to tell three people (trainers, coaches, managers, etc.) thank you on their way off the field.

"If you didn't notice, we try to make our practices as chaotic as possible. That way when you get into a stadium that's chaotic it's just a normal everyday for us" he added.

Very good video.