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Tuesday Morning Brews: Happy Holidays

Downing Street!
Downing Street!
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Hitting the Links Says Thank You

How Boston College Built A Top-Five Defense

As much as I understand having assistants who are looking for promotions, it's nice to have a few coaches who are comfortable with being settled at one job. Brown could be here for a while, and that's great.

A 'Better Coach' Than D.J. Durkin

This was a shot across the bow. For all the attention given to the East's top three coaches, Harbaugh-Durkin will be an intriguing coaching battle to watch each year as well.

Mario Ojemudia's Career Is Officially Over

This is kind of a formality, but the appeals process that Jim Harbaugh was looking into did not bear fruit. Thanks to Mario for a great four years.

Maryland's New OC: Walt BellEast Offenses Undergoing Major Facelift

Michigan fans will be asking Don Brown ad nauseum about stopping spread attacks. But it's not just Ohio State anymore - the Big Ten is opening up its playbook a little bit. Maryland fans can't wait.

Illinois Adds Jeff Hecklinski, A.J. Ricker | Tim Banks No Longer DC

A couple of weird things here. The news that A.J. Ricker has left Missouri to return to Illinois - a place he worked at in 2013 - also caused an O-lineman who flipped from Illinois to Missouri last week to about-face as well and re-pledge to Champaign. Oh, and Jeff Hecklinski is back in the Big Ten. Yay.

Pat Elflein Will Return For Senior Season

Elflein is fun to watch, and he'll be a pain to play against. If Ohio State goes ahead with the same offensive staff as this past year - retaining Tim Beck - they'll need to figure out a way to let Ed Warinner focus on the linemen while feeling satisfied that he's a part of the game-planning.

Film Study: Notre Dame's Defense

Everybody loves the one-on-one matchup between two superstars. LeBron guarding Kobe, Chris Borland stopping Carlos Hyde, Charles Woodson intercepting Peyton Manning. Jaylon Smith against Ezekiel Elliott will be fun to watch.

How Northwestern's 2013 Class Has Changed The Team's Dynamic

Fitz is an interesting guy. I remember complaining about him a few times - his teams tend to get weighed down by injuries far too regularly, including in the second half of this season, he can be stubborn, and his recruitment techniques could be described as "gruff" for a little while there.

But, he's not going anywhere. This 2015 season was Fitz's tenth in Evanston, and the 10-2 campaign lifted his coaching record to a sturdy 70-55 (36-44). 1903, 1995, 2012 and 2015 are the only years Northwestern has had a 10-win team, and Fitzgerald has had a hand in three of them - two as a coach, and one as a player. Is it worth re-emphasizing that the only other time was in 1903?

The 2015 season helped stabilize a lot of concerns and will help recruiting, as well. The state of Illinois is a pretty underrated hotbed of talent, one that other regional powers plunder regularly. If Fitz hangs on long enough to get his hands on some of the best in-state players, and fans start attending more and get comfortable with having a competitive team, Fitz might be able to post some big-win seasons with more regularity. And, just maybe, something strange could happen. Fitz is already the only Northwestern representative in the College Football Hall of Fame, and he just might get in as both a player and a coach if he manages to turn this program into a regular contender in the West.

There Will Be Blood

SB Nation's Ian Boyd takes a look under the hood at Michigan State's plans to stop Derrick Henry and what Alabama might do to counter them. This was another good article, this time by ESPN, about MSU locking its focus onto the Heisman winner. Meanwhile, the team will have a veteran leader back healthy in R.J. Williamson.

And, this may be too many MSU links, but I also liked this piece by MLive on Joel Heath, who is balancing injuries and bruises, being a newlywed, and leading his teammates in the playoff. Say what you will about their coach, but Mike has built a determined group of teammates in that locker room.

A Pair of Decommitments For Maryland

Maryland has a bit of a numbers crunch - 17 commits for a minimum of 13 open scholarships for 2016, and Durkin clearly wants to make his own mark on this recruiting cycle. Still, letting go of both of these guys is an interesting move considering both look like pretty solid players. You could maybe make a case that both Hill and Motley fit the mold of the prototypical player that Maryland needs to diversify from - faster than strong, a little scrawny, maybe not physical enough for a Big Ten season. But both are actually cornerbacks, a position where those skills translate well, and both are at least 6'0". This makes me wonder what D.J. Durkin has planned, and exactly how many commits he expects to pull in over the next month and a half. Is he expecting some blue-chip commits?

A Single Decommitment For Indiana

Three-star Georgia defensive end Allen Cater has gotten a lot of interest from Arkansas this past week, and that was enough for him to pull his pledge from Indiana.

For Vonn Bell, A Decision Looms

If Bell does leave, this will be an interesting secondary in 2016. Depth at cornerback is very strong (Gareon Conley, unfortunately, has turned out to be as excellent as Greg Mattison thought he would be), but safety depth was a weak spot this year even before injuries to Cam Burrows and Erick Smith took their toll. Without Bell, Ohio State would probably turn to a combo of Tyvis Powell and near-five-star Erick Smith, although Smith is still recovering from an ACL tear suffered in October.

An Update on Peter Mortell

The game's best holder is at it again, raising $25,000 for charity during the holidays. Rock solid, Peter.

An Update on Jalen Watts-Jackson

Obviously The Play hurt a lot, but I'd like to hate it in peace while Jalen makes a full recovery. Luckily, he's doing well, which is great.

Details On Greg Schiano's New Role

In a year or two, Schiano will almost certainly find his way on some short lists for off-season coaching vacancies. He'll be able to work around some other great coaches at OSU and broaden his circle of friends and contacts (which always comes in handy when it comes time to fill out a staff of his own).

George Hill, who many thought was a lock for MSU, will actually not be in the Big Ten at all. Narduzzi scores a big win against his former team.

B.A.D. Podcast: Ohio State's Quarterback Situation

I'm not a podcast guy, but their self-deprecating intro was funny and the subject is a good one.

Duke-Indiana Bowl Preview

A very nice touch by AD Fred Glass - IU reduced student ticket prices from $55 to $10 to encourage students to attend the game. This comes at the end of a season where Indiana saw some very big gains in attendance. If attendance stays strong for the bowl, IU will have another tiny victory in becoming more of a two-sport school.

Jake Ryan Tip, Mario Ojemudia Interception

Terrific play by two guys who might both be playing in the NFL pretty soon. Also, here's a nice gif of Mario blitzing from the linebacker position (#53).