Hitting the Links Is Glad We're Not LSU
Ohio State has been blessed with a long run of tremendously successful ADs. The director before Gene Smith, Andy Geiger, hired Jim Tressel and Thad Matta and was responsible for $194 million in renovations to Ohio Stadium, plus building the current baseball stadiums and track, soccer, and lacrosse field. Gene Smith may be on his way to one-upping him, however.
At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if next off-season, he toured the United Nations and started talking to the Security Council. And then made headway between two countries angry at each other!
It's not exactly Bama-Oregon, but Petrino's Cardinals will be a fun match-up for Nick Saban's defense.
It's worth noting, and not necessarily surprising, that the freshmen did not bring the best plan of attack for winning the quarterback job.
It was frustrating that the Big Ten was consistently the richest conference in the past decade, but often did not invest those returns into good coaches or infrastructure in the same way other programs around the country did. Now that they've cottoned on, the money is still there for the taking - but maybe a little less than Jim Delaney had hoped.
2014 was a great bowl season, maybe one of the more memorable of this decade thanks to last-second finishes against Baylor and Auburn, and a national title. That won't be happening every year, but it doesn't need to. Now the Big Ten has to win more than just the high-profile games, get deeper top to bottom, and find consistency.
People have rarely mentioned Don Pellum, but last year at this time many were predicting Oregon's defense would decline because of the first-year defensive coordinator. And it did, dropping from 36th in Defensive S&P+ to 38th.
There are a lot of potential stars on this defense ... and potential leaders. Bolden is up at the top of the list for both.
Wisconsin and Alabama. Corey Clement is a terrific back, but this game will be a test for him. With Melvin, the speed was there to get chunk yardage even if the hole wasn't there initially. Clement is a scrappy 217-pounder, with great speed but not the kind of burners Melvin had. Can he protect the ball inside against Reggie Ragland? Can he make Cyrus Jones miss in the open field? It will take a gritty effort against the best run defense in the country.
When Rivals' Top100 came out for 2017, Moses was #2 ... and a fair number of fans shook their heads and said that it was only to put an uncommitted player at the top spot. Moses is probably a linebacker at the next level.
For those who don't recognize the name, Darke is the most famous soccer announcer in the world.
Bain was one of the three players (the most famous of whom is Anthony Jennings) who was arrested this off-season for breaking and entering to retrieve items that were supposedly theirs. Charges in that matter have been dropped, but Bain is now leaving the program to attend community college.
I was kicking around an off-season list of the best defensive players in the Big Ten. A surprise top-five selection was Davis, who popped off the film and was marked by MSU's coaches as their most productive defender last year. Dantonio added to that praise this week.
A pretty blunt and staggering theme for SEC teams this year: finding a defensive coach who can fix the league's defensive problems. A&M famously added John Chavis, and Auburn famously added Will Muschamp. But South Carolina brought in a co-coordinator in Jon Hoke (yes, older brother of Brady Hoke) to help fix their problems on defense. Alabama went looking for a new secondary coach to fix what was missing and brought in the Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator from 2013-14, Mel Tucker.
LSU is rolling the dice on Kevin Steele (famous for being on the wrong side of WVU's 70-33 drubbing of Clemson a few years back). Florida is replacing D.J. Durkin with Mississippi State's defensive coordinator from a year ago, Geoff Collins, and a once great DC and head coach at Miami, Randy Shannon. Mississippi State then brought in Manny Diaz, who rose to stardom as a young DC for MSU a few years ago, before flaming out at Texas under Mack Brown. After building a killer Louisiana Tech defense in just one season, Diaz is back to see if he and MSU have more magic together.
Oh, and Derek Mason took over coordinating duties in addition to head coaching. We'll see what all the changes do for the SEC this year.
The offensive line has consistently been a strength. Sumlin himself may be one of the two or three best offensive minds in the game. And John Chavis is pretty close to a guarantee on defense. It will be difficult for A&M not to rebound from last season's 8-5 record.
This is Florida's third straight sensible hire, says Bill Connelly.
The Illini are #1! The Illini are #1!
This is noteworthy for a few reasons. One, you rarely see star announcers calling FCS games. Two, it will be a chance to sit down on Saturday, August 29th, and watch some football, half a week before FBS season kicks up. And three, this should be some good football. NDSU went 15-1 last year, winning the FCS National Championship. Montana went 9-5 and was ranked in the top fifteen. With Musburger and Palmer calling it, it should be a good game to pull up and watch with some food and beer.