Most coaches would rather get a tooth pulled than do this
Most - and by most I mean closer to 99.9 percent than 51 percent - coaches place quarterback battles in the same category as voluntary root canals. Why submit yourself to something so excruciating if you don't absolutely have to? Competition for a starting job is always a good thing, but when that competition catches the eye of the media? That's where season-sidetracking distractions are born.
That's why I find what Illinois is doing this spring so interesting. In their quest to replace longstanding starter Nathan Scheelhaase, the Fighting Illini are auditioning three hopefuls: senior Riley O'Toole, sophomore Aaron Bailey and sophomore (and Oklahoma State transfer) Wes Lunt.
Again, most coaches would rather wear their underwear outside of their clothes than have the ins-and-outs of something so crucial as a quarterback derby chronicled for public consumption. Not Illini offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. After landing from Western Michigan, Cubit pushed Illinois' offense from 122nd to 46th nationally in total offense, 119th to 45th in yards per play and a two-touchdown-per-game improvement in scoring average. Cubit's expertise was a key factor in Illinois' two-win boost from 2012. He's a confident coach, as evidenced by his quote to the Chicago Sun-Times that the Big Ten's best offense may be wearing orange and blue. "I don't think anybody can stop us," he told the paper. "...I think we've got a chance to be the best offense in the conference."
True or not, Illinois' 2014 offense will begin to take shape in the coming weeks, and that starts with finding a signal caller. This may be some of the most intriguing reality television of the spring. "We're all friends, we have to realize that at the end of the day. And at the end of the day we have to realize we're all teammates and we have to want what's best for the team," Lunt said.
"We want to see the guys that are going to go out there and fight every single day for that position, that don't get down, don't let adversity hit you in the face," Cubit said. "Just keep on going."
'At the end of the day it's either us or it's them. Who wants it more?'
There is something inside the human DNA that saves the highest gear of physical exertion for when we need it the most. Like how you may have sprinted many times in your life, but never fast than the time a beast with fangs and an angry disposition chased after you.
It's that kind of off-season at Appalachian State. After 85 years of football, the Mountaineers are preparing for their first among the highest level of college football. Trading in three national championships and 20 playoff appearances for a Sun Belt schedule - plus a season-opening rematch versus Michigan in the Big House - Appalachian State is training like they're being chased.
Photo: Arena league helmet has flames everywhere
These helmets from the newest Arena League team, the LA Kiss, are so over the top that they make Maryland's Pride uniforms look tame. The team is owned by Kiss members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
They couldn't keep the flames from spreading to the facemask, and even the visor evidently.
I'm all for a touch of craziness in uniforms, but this is a rather, well...interesting, approach. Looks like the crew at Hydrographics have done it again.
Regarding an early signing period, is there a realistic solution?
The more quotes you read from coaches, the more you understand how the NCAA turned into the bureaucratic sludge of molasses it currently is.
In an attempt to take an unnecessary burden off coaches' backs, the NCAA floated the possibility of adopting an early signing period for football. In the days since then, two veteran and well-respected coaches have vehemently opposed that idea, with reasoning that makes a lot of sense.
"What's going to happen is, if a kid wants to change his mind late after the early signing period, he's going to appeal and that appeal is going to go through because the committees that decide those appeals, they always give in towards the student-athlete," Stanford head coach David Shaw told ESPN.com.
"So you have a kid that might be 16 going on 17 that commits and then really has a chance to think about it and changes his mind and we're going to try and hold him to it. "On top of that -- and I'll be honest here, which is rare for a football coach in a setting like this -- but we have a lot of kids that don't know if they're going to get into school until after that early signing day," he continued.
"So we're going to punish the academic schools just because coaches don't want a kid to switch their commitment? "People can make whatever argument they want, it boils down to that. ... Coaches don't want to keep recruiting an entire class all year."
Of course, Shaw approaches the situation from a self-interested perspective. The Cardinal secured three commitments in their recent class in the final days before National Signing Day, and - as one of the few schools that places the proverbial cart behind the horse - many Stanford recruits don't secure admittance to one of the nation's toughest schools until late in the process, so an early signing day would be useless for them.
Would a number of coaches pressure recruits to sign early, before they're truly ready to make a decision? Yes.
By the same token, are there a number of kids whose minds are truly made up before their senior year, but still have to endure recruiting pitches from other schools for months on end? Absolutely.
Are there coaches who would love to fill up their class by August just so they could stop recruiting? Yes.
By the same token, are there coaches who are forced to expend uncounted physical and monetary expense to keep re-recruiting the same kids who would've been happy to sign in August? Absolutely.
Speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I thought Georgia head coach Mark Richt had an equally compelling point: "I always say 'Be careful what we ask for ''because I don't know what that will do to our recruiting calendar ... I'd be afraid to change it. I don't want to turn the regular season into such a recruiting frenzy that you can't even coach your team on a weekly basis. I enjoy coaching football, too.
"I think if you moved the signing date up, I think you push more official visits to the football season. Sooner or later, they'll say 'We don't want all these official visits during the season. Why don't we move them to the summer?' Then we'll have official visits in the summer, and no one will get any time away. Not me, not our assistants coaches, not the kids, not the high school coaches, and not the families. Where does it end?"
If you're the NCAA, how do you not throw your hands up at this point and revert back to the status quo? You'd have an easier time uniting the ancient Greek city states than getting football coaches to agree on a recruiting calendar.
If anyone out there has a solution to the early-signing day issue - let alone the host of more pressing problems facing college football - forget about making a run for president of the NCAA, you might as well make a run for the White House in 2016.
Herb Hand gives the most entertaining interview of the year via Reddit
Penn State offensive line coach Herb Hand is a man of many talents. He's regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country, has arguably the most entertaining Twitter account of any assistant coach in America, and can cook AND dance with the best of them.
Hand has fully embraced social media, and took to Reddit (a popular social media / user driven news site) to answer some questions and connect with fans over the weeknd. What resulted was anything but an interview you're used to seeing, but that's what happens when you open a door like this. Everything from dating advice, to serious offensive line advice, to ridiculous "would you rather" questions were covered.
I went through and picked out some of the more interesting question and answer combos below for your viewing pleasure. The last one is a doozy.
Q: If you had one shot to impress a recruit with a meal, what would you cook?
HH: I've cooked a meal for a recruit before it was - Bacon, Bleu Cheese and Grape flat bread drizzled with honey - Wedge Salad (simple but delicious) - Crab stuffed filet mignon seared in bacon fat - grilled squash medley - sautéed asparagus - parmesan pasta - pecan crusted vanilla ice cream ball over a fudge brownie with salted caramel sauce for desert - CLOSED THE DEAL.
Q: Coach! You often tweet about your smokin' hot wife so I was wondering.. Do you have any tips for younger guys out there trying to find a quality woman like THE Deb Hand? Thanks! We are!
HH: Be a good dude. Don't be a jackass...I have been both and being a good guy works better.
Q: Why do you think there aren't more coaches who have such a great Twitter presence like you do? What advantages do you think it gives you as a coach or recruiter? How do your players feel about your involvement on the site?
HH: I think more guys are embracing social media in general because they recognize the power it has and that if they don't they are putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage...as to your last question, they bust my chops about it a little but I think they enjoy my Twitter OG-ness...especially when I drop a vine of them destroying their opponent.
Q: Would you rather fight 100 duck sized Clowneys or 1 Clowney sized Duck?
HH: I would take the Clowney sized duck and employ the indefensible fight move as demonstrated at the :23 second mark of this video.
Q: Hey Coach, what is one thing that you can offer/pitch a potential recruit about Penn State that no other school can?
HH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT9OBztsVZg (Video below)
Randy Edsall vs. Kate Upton in a 'Dougie dance off'
Earlier this morning we saw a video of Randy Edsall trying to do the "Dougie", and thought to ourselves, "Who does it better? Edsall or Kate Upton?"
If you have to think about it for too long (or at all really), go ahead and hand in your man card.
Hey, it's a slow Monday morning here at The Scoop, and we're all about entertainment.
Video: Georgia explains their 'finish the drill' approach to mat drills
It seems like every off season highlight follows a similar template at this time of year. Take some highlight footage of your guys grinding it out in the weightroom, edit it a bit, and mix some music in.
It's a formula that works quite well, but Georgia decided to throw it aside for a much different approach. Instead, director of strength and conditioning Joe Tereshinski's voice is the backdrop, and as the Bulldogs go through their legendary mat drill work, coach T. provides the reasoning behind why, and how, they go about the mat drills.
This is one of the best videos of the off season, without question.
Video: 'You're making an investment, not a sacrifice, for the program'
USC's wrapped up their spring practices with a spirited competition where one offensive captain was chosen to pick five players on his side of the ball to compete in head to head events, without knowledge of what those events were ahead of time.
The resulting head to head competitions had a lot of Pete Carroll flavor to them, with players genuinely enjoying the atmosphere and competitiveness, complete with an over the top celebration after the win. To wrap the workout up, Steve Sarkisian got in front of the team and said something to his players that really perked up my ears this morning.
"It's been seven weeks with Ivan right? Seven weeks! Remember the investment that you're making to this program. It's not a sacrifice, it's an investment. So when we come back on Tuesday, the journey continues."
It's different for every program, but Sark has a great point. Off season work should be an investment, not a sacrifice.