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WSU’s Leach Points Out The Major Flaw In New Penalty For Targeting

gfx - they said itA week ago today, I wrote that the new ejection portion of the college football’s targeting rule “will be the most controversial rule change in ages.”  This came on the heels of the ACC’s head of officials stating that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney would have likely been tossed from the Outback Bowl if the current rule had been in play when he made his highlight reel tackle.  You know the play.  The one we’ve all seen 1,000,000 times.

Now, in a must-read piece from USA Today, Washington State head coach Mike Leach provides a very quick, simple explanation of exactly what’s wrong with the current rule:


“Rules, in order to be effective, have to be enforceable and you’ve got to be able to see (the infraction).  If I get these guys across the room and I have them run full-speed at each other, and I ask you in a split-second to tell me which one lowered their head first, I’ll be you can’t do it.  So I think that is a huge problem.”


Yes.  Yes it is.

The Clowney hit — oh, alright, let’s go ahead and show it again — has been viewed and reviewed by officials from darn near every major conference and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus yet on whether such a tackle will be viewed as legal or illegal moving forward.


Jadeveon Clowney's Top Play: Hit vs. Michigan


For those who hope the replay booth will help to prevent controversial targeting calls and ejections during games, keep in mind that ACC top cop Doug Rhoads and SEC director of officials Steve Shaw were both looking at replays of the same tackle above, yet those two experienced officials came to completely different conclusions regarding its legality.

By the end of the upcoming season, the new targeting rule — due to the ejection penalty — will be the most talked about football rule change in a generation or more.  So be prepared to hear talkshow caller after talkshow caller complain that their guy was booted from a game while umpteen similar hits — which will be listed — delivered by an opponent went uncalled.

And judging by the cloudy nature of the rule, it’s entirely possible that those talkshow callers will be right, too.

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New Texas Tech Coach Kingsbury “Was Never An Aggie”

gfx - they said itWhen Tommy Tuberville surprised everyone by jumping the first train from Lubbock to Cincinnati last December, Texas Tech officials turned to one of their own when searching for a new head coach.  Kliff Kingsbury played at Tech under Mike Leach.  He still ranks near the top of all the Red Raider passing categories — yards, touchdowns, completions.  And now he’s being hailed as the savior of Texas Tech football.

Kingsbury had spent the previous five seasons working under Kevin Sumlin, first at Houston and then, last season, at Texas A&M.  In College Station he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, tutoring some fella named Johnny Manziel.

But Kingsbury’s new boss — Tech AD Kirby Hocutt — wants everyone to know where his new coach’s heart has always remained, telling


“Kliff was never an Aggie.  Ask him.”


Sounds like a little playful gig, but you can be sure some out there have taken offense.

Hocutt went on to say that Tech would “love to play A&M in every sport (but) nothing is in conversation right now.”  Asked why the schools aren’t talking, he added: “You’re not going to bait me there.  Hopefully someday those conversations can begin.”

One suspects Kingsbury would have no problem facing Texas A&M.  After all, he was never an Aggie.  Just ask him.

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AU’s Malzahn: “We’re Moving Forward”

gfx - they said itAfter a shockingly disappointing 3-9 season in 2012, Auburn canned BCS title-winning coach Gene Chizik and brought back his old offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, to run the show.  Malzahn’s message to his players is clear — forget about last season:


“All I can tell you is we’re moving forward… I told the players: ‘I don’t care what you’ve done in the past.  I don’t care what happened last year.  We’re starting over.’ 

I promise you this: We’re going to get back to playing good, hard-nosed Auburn football… Our guys are excited.  They’re looking forward to spring practice, they’re looking forward to next year, and that really makes me feel good.”


If the Tigers show any improvement at all they should have four built-in non-conference wins.  AU will play Arkansas State (Malzahn’s last school), Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic, and they open the season at home against Washington State.  Expect the showdown between Malzahn’s offense and Mike Leach’s offense to get plenty of August pub.

Inside the league, AU will face the rough-and-tumble West Division schedule with permanent cross-over rival Georgia and rotating East Division team Tennessee.  With that slate, Malzahn will likely turn the Tigers in the right direction and get them back into a bowl game.  But unless he’s got another Cam Newton tucked away on the Tigers’ roster, his team probably won’t be getting all the way back in first year.

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Ex-Mizzou O-Coordinator Yost: “It Got To A Point Where I Didn’t Love My Job”

david-yostAfter the 2012 season ended with a disappointing 5-7 record, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel announced there would be no changes on his staff.  Just days later, offensive coordinator David Yost resigned… after 12 years at Missouri and 17 years with Pinkel.

Yost told that he intended to sit out this season and re-charge his batteries, so to speak, but instead he’ll be coaching receivers — and only receivers — at Washington State under second-year coach Mike Leach.  So what happened at Mizzou:


“I’d just gotten tired.  I didn’t want to do it anymore…

I always loved my job, looked forward to it.  It got to a point where I didn’t love my job…

When I was single, I coached.  I was an office rat.  I was good.  It was great.  Over time you get married.  You have your first, your second, your third child.  When I moved to coordinator I didn’t do a good enough job delegating off things….

I’m working right now to make sure I don’t get in a heavy workload.  When my family gets here I want to make sure I have time for them, it gives me a chance to kind of reinvent myself.”


The NCAA’s recent decision to remove contact limitations and dead periods from its recruiting rules might impact Yost’s plan for a less busy lifestyle.

Pinkel replaced Yost by promoting co-offensive line coach Josh Henson to offensive coordinator in December.  Receivers coach Andy Hill was moved over to quarterbacks to fill Yost’s other duties.

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SEC Headlines 1/13/2013

headlines-sunCoaching News

1. Virginia Tech had interest in Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, expect him to get a nice raise.

2. New Kentucky coach Mark Stoops on recruiting:  “I think it’s very important for us to get into Ohio...There’s tremendous football being played in Ohio. We want to treat that as home base.”

3. With the hiring of cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley and receivers coach Tommy Mainord, Stoops has filled out his coaching staff at Kentucky.

4. New SEC coaches are battling an accelerated recruiting process.  ”There are less official visits in January than there were a decade ago, because the process has accelerated so much.”

5. Former Missouri offensive coordinator David Yost is joining Mike Leach’s staff at Washington State as wide receivers coach.

6. Brian Kelly will stay at Notre Dame and not leave for the NFL – working on extension and raise.

SEC Football

7. Tennessee runing back Quenshaun Watson has left the team to deal with family and personal issues.  Return in doubt.

8. John Adams on the success at Vanderbilt: ”They’re suddenly a top-25 program trying to recruit another top-25 class. And, strange as it seems, Tennessee is the program trying to catch up.”

9. From LSU’s class of 2010, there are only five four-year seniors expected to start or be a regular contributor next season – just about everyone else is headed to the NFL.

10. Potential candidates to replace the three Alabama players leaving school early for the NFL.

11. Oregon running back Kenjon Barner speculates about a matchup with Alabama: “I think we would have been just fine against them as long as we stayed within ourselves and played Oregon football.”

SEC Basketball

12. Texas A&M’s victory at Rupp Arena was the first conference loss for UK under John Calipari. A&M coach Billy Kennedy. ”The message is Kentucky is really young,” Kennedy said. “That’s the big message.”

13. Ole Miss in line for a national ranking on Monday?

14. The league’s unbalanced schedule, those Thursday-Saturday turnarounds and calls for a “true” SEC champion.

15. A nearly two-year old NCAA investigation into the University of Miami may be nearing an end. University of Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith was the Hurricanes coach from 2004 to 2011.


16. Tim Tebow’s brother takes some enjoyment out of the Denver Broncos playoff loss Saturday.

17. College athletes and Twitter: “People spew some pretty vitriolic things to these players.”

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SEC Headlines – 11/12/12

Apologies for a quickie headline post today.  Too much going on with coaching searches and phone calls to check on coaching searches.


1.  Gene Chizik believes he can turn things around at Auburn.

2.  Is Alabama becoming too pass happy?

3.  Here are this week’s SEC football Players of the Week.

4.  Bowl projections for everyone.

5.  The SEC’s BCS title streak is in jeopardy now.

6.  Is Texas A&M proving that big, bad SEC defenses can be taken down by “an offense imported from Conference USA.”

7.  Pushing hard to land an SEC job, could Tommy Tuberville’s slap of a grad assistant hurt his chances?

8.  Meet the SEC’s hoops Players of the Week.

9.  TCU’s Gary Patterson sorta/kinda denies the Arkansas rumors.

10.  Mike Leach says he won’t be leaving Washington State this offseason.

11.  Ex-Ohio State coach Jim Tressel says there’s “no substance” to rumors that he might land at Kentucky.

12.  Mississippi State fans can tell you that it’s never good to be described as “reeling.”

13.  Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is doubtful for Saturday’s game with Jacksonville State due to a sprained ankle.

14. From bad to worse: Tennessee loses linebacker Curt Maggitt to an ACL tear.

15.  Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said “that wound has healed” when asked about Derek Dooley’s postgame celebration after UT beat Vandy last year.

16.  Texas A&M was simply the better team in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

17.  South Carolina opened the Frank Martin era with a win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

18.  Ready for another Kentucky-Duke hoops clash tomorrow?

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Ticket Sales Are Down At Ole Miss (As Should Have Been Expected)

What do you get when you add together a 6-18 record over two seasons, a 1-15 SEC record over that span, a third coaching change since 2004, three straight losses to your biggest rival, a new coach with a very limited track record, a fundraising campaign that requires a donation on top of the cost of tickets, the continued growth of HD television and the number of games broadcast each week, and a poor global economy?

A drop in season ticket sales at Ole Miss, that’s what.  According to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, UM ticket sales are down about 3,000 from this point last year.  Of its 45,000 season tickets, the school has sold only about 32,000 so far (not counting student tix).

New AD Ross Bjork acknowledges the problem:


“We got some work to do.  There’s not doubt about that.  We just have to keep talking, keep pushing, keep selling…

Get people to believe we can get this thing turned around and invest now because of the vision for the program.  That’s been our message.  ‘Hey, we know we’ve had some bumps along the road the last couple of years, but get in now because we’re building this program the right way.’”


This is one of the ironies of college football.  Fans vote with their wallets and in Ole Miss’ case last year, the fans voted to oust Houston Nutt.  But rarely do season ticket sales jump after a coaching change is made — unless a school brings in a major name (more on that in a second).  Most fans take a wait-and-see approach with the new guy’s regime before spending cash to return to the stadium.  So schools often nuke a coach because of attendance issues, yet those attendance issues aren’t often fixed simply by nuking said coach.

As for a “major name,” one wonders if season ticket sales in Oxford would be going a bit better today had the Rebels tabbed Mike Leach as their new coach instead of Hugh Freeze.  Leach is a wild card and there’s a reason he’s coached in Lubbock, Texas and Pullman, Washington… two towns about as far off the beaten path as a man can get.  But Leach was available.  And he had an immediate impact at the ticket window at Washington State.  From a wins and losses standpoint and from a ticket sales standpoint, Freeze and the Rebels will forever be compared to Leach and the Cougars.  Fair or not.

It’ll be fun to see who turns things around first.  (And, yes, Rebel fans, the Pac-12 is an easier league than the SEC, but that won’t stop the comparisons that you know are coming.)

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Leach To Washington State, Off The Market

Anyone dreaming of Mike Leach landing in the SEC this year (Ole Miss fans) or perhaps next (Kentucky, Tennessee fans) can stop dreaming.  The pirate has landed about as far from his South Florida home as imaginable.

Leach has been hired by Washington State, which might just be the best place for him.  If there’s a school as isolated and off-the-beaten path as Texas Tech, it’s Wazzu.  In addition, the Cougars have a long history of producing star college quarterbacks… from Jack Thompson to Drew Bledsoe to Ryan Leaf.  (We said star college quarterbacks.)

In the wide open Pac-12, Leach could prosper as he did in Lubbock.  And if he does — and does so more than Ole Miss — it’s likely the folks in Oxford won’t let their administration forget that they could have had him. 

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Hudspeth Pulls Name From UM Search; Manning Wants Process Done Soon

You can scratch Mark Hudspeth’s name from the list of potential Ole Miss candidates.  Louisiana-Lafayette’s coach — who reportedly interviewed with the Rebels’ search committee on Sunday — has pulled his name from consideration, according to David Johnson of 

Hudspeth — a former assistant under Dan Mullen before moving to UL — “alluded to Johnson” that the committee led him to believe “that Hudspeth’s ties to Mississippi State were an issue.”

If that’s true, then Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz might come off the list, too, due to the year he served in Starkville.

Archie Manning has told The Memphis Commercial Appeal that he “very much wants to” have a candidate to take to UM chancellor Dan Jones within two-and-a-half weeks.

“We’re moving fast as we can,” Manning said.  “We’ve conducted some interviews on the phone and in person, and we’ll conduct some more this week.  There are some coaches still playing some games this upcoming weekend that we want to interview.  There are some coaches we’re interested in that didn’t coach this year.”

The coaches still coaching this weekend are likely Larry Fedora of Southern Miss and Hugh Freeze of Arkansas State.

As far as men who weren’t coaching this year, Mike Leach does not appear to be a candidate and Rich Rodriguez has already landed the job at Arizona.

So here’s one for the messageboarders to have some fun with — Who did Archie’s boy, Peyton, play for at Tennessee?  A currently out-of-coaching Phillip Fulmer.

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AU’s Malzahn Doesn’t Have Much To Say About UM Job

The good news regarding Ole Miss’ decision to announce Houston Nutt’s dismissal in early November: The Rebels have plenty of time to find a quality replacement.

The bad news: A lot of candidates will now have to spend the next month ducking questions about the Ole Miss job.

Start with Gus Malzahn.  The Auburn offensive coordinator was asked about the Ole Miss gig this week.  His response:

“I’ve got my hands full trying to score points against Georgia.  That’s my only focus.”

Short and sweet.  With the exception of guys like Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez who are out of work, Rebel fans should expect to hear a lot of guys make comments just like Malzahn’s in the weeks ahead.

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