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Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:15 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 4:22 pm
 

Terry Joseph is seventh assistant to leave Vols

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's March 2, and even after February had an extra day in it this year, Tennessee is somehow still hemorrhaging assistant coaches.

According to a report from Tennessee Rivals affiliate Volquest.com and confirmed by CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, Vol defensive backs coach (and recruiting coordinator) Terry Joseph has resigned to accept the same position at Nebraska. The Huskers' secondary coaching position came open when LSU hired Bayou Bengal alum Corey Raymond away from Nebraska Feb. 27. Joseph served as a graduate assistant under Huskers head coach Bo Pelini during Pelini's tenure as defensive coordinator at (you guessed it) LSU.

Joseph becomes the seventh Volunteer assistant to depart Derek Dooley's struggling program this offseason, with his decision ensuring that Dooley will enter the 2012 season with an entirely new defensive staff. The only holdovers from the Vols' 2011 staff will be offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and current wide receivers coach Darin Hinshaw. With Hinshaw having moved to the receivers' role after coaching quarterbacks last season, not one position on the Vol depth chart will be coached by the same position coach as in 2011.

On the one hand, Joseph's individual departure isn't that big a deal; it comes too late to make any impact on the 2012 recruiting class, but early enough that Dooley should be able to repair the damage both in terms of the 2013 class and in finding someone worthwhile to coach DB's before the 2012 season.

On the other, every shred of stability Dooley could hang onto in a program that's been reeling ever since its season-ending defeat at Kentucky is a huge help, and losing seven assistants in a matter of months -- many of them in moves there's no way other to describe other than "lateral" -- not only erodes that stability, it creates the image of a program that's unstable enough to have its head coach dismissed if things don't turn around.

That image, in turn, does make the program more unstable. Dooley still has plenty going for him, but the lack of confidence shown in him and his program by his now-former assistants has made what already shaped up as a make-or-break season that much more difficult. If there's a coach in the SEC in more dire need of a positive spring camp, we haven't seen him.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:59 pm
 

Mountain West releases 2012 schedule

Posted by Tom Fornelli

For the last time in its history the Mountain West released a college football schedule on Thursday. Next year the Mountain West and Conference USA will merge to form a new conference. So if you are a Mountain West geek (A Mountie? Westy? An MWCrazy?) cherish this one, because it's never going to happen again.

TCU has already left for the Big 12 and teams like Boise State and San Diego State will be leaving for the Big East in 2013.

Making matters worse for the conference this year, without TCU around, it seems that Boise State is the clear-cut favorite to win the conference without much standing in its way.

Though stranger things have happened, and you'll definitely want to see Boise's games against San Diego State in Boise on November 3, and when Boise travels to Nevada to play on November 24.

The Broncos will be looking to avenge 2010 and Kyle Brotzman's nightmare that night.

You can check out the entire Mountain West schedule here.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:08 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Oklahoma



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Oklahoma.

Spring Practice Starts: Monday, March 5

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Eight offense, seven defense, both specialists

Three Things To Watch For:

1. Utilizing the Belldozer. One of the best things Oklahoma fans heard over the winter was that Landry Jones would be returning for another season. Still, we know what Oklahoma is going to get from Jones in 2012. What we can't be sure of is the role Blake Bell is going to play. In Oklahoma's final 6 games Bell rushed for 13 touchdowns and was seemingly unstoppable in short-yardage situations. You have to think that the Sooners are going to create more packages for Bell to utilize his abilities. Much like Florida did with Tim Tebow when Chris Leak was still around in 2006 and that worked out well for the Gators.

2. A shift in the defense. Mike Stoops is in as defensive coordinator and Brent Venables has left for Clemson. Here's what I feel confident in saying about the Oklahoma defense this season: with Stoops around, a talented secondary that was already one of the best in the Big 12 is going to get even better. The question is how Venables' absence will affect the linebackers and defensive line, with linebackers in particular being a Venables specialty. Spring practices will give us all our first clue as to how things will shake out.

3. Can a running back emerge? Dominique Whaley was a pleasant surprise for the Sooners in 2011, leading the team in rushing with 627 yards even though his year ended early thanks to a broken ankle. Because of that ankle, Whaley won't be participating in spring practice. Which means there are plenty of reps to go around for guys like Roy Finch, Brennan Clay, and incoming freshman Alex Ross. It would be a bonus for the Sooners if one of these backs steps up and shows they're capable of taking on a big role in the offense should Whaley have trouble coming back from injury.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:58 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Nebraska



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Nebraska.

Spring Practice Starts: Sunday, March 4

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Seven on offense, seven on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Watch For:

1. Finding replacements on defense. The Cornhuskers may have seven starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, but there are also four pretty big departures that need to be replaced. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Jared Crick are all gone. That's one key player on each level of the defense and none will be easy to replace. Though having Cameron Meredith on the defensive line will make the loss of Crick easier to absorb. That being said, Dennard and David were two of the best defenders in the Big Ten last season. It's not easy to just plug in new playmakers of that caliber, and as if the job wasn't hard enough, Nebraska will also be breaking in a new defensive coordinator this season. John Papuchis was promoted to defensive coordinator after Carl Pelini left to take the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic.

2. Rediscovering the T-Magic. Taylor Martinez's first two seasons as Nebraska's quarterback have been a bit of a roller coaster. He was able to stay healthy last year, but he also completed only 56% of his passes, which was actually lower than the 59% he completed as a freshman. Martinez's yards per attempt went down over a full yard as well. Some of this was likely due to it being Martinez's first year in Tim Beck's system, and Nebraska is hoping Martinez will improve in his second season under Beck. In fact, if Nebraska wants to make a serious run at a Big Ten championship in 2011, they'll need him to. So it's important for Martinez to have a strong spring and make sure that the Cornhuskers head into the summer with a clear cut leader at the quarterback position.

3. Giving Burkhead a breather. Rex Burkhead had a great season for Nebraska in 2011, rushing for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to making the All-Conference team. While there's no reason to believe Burkhead won't have another solid season in 2012, Nebraska would be better served to find a bit more depth at running back to keep Burkhead fresh. In Nebraska's first 8 games, Burkhead averaged 110.25 yards per game, but that number dropped to 95 yards per game over Nebraska's final five contests. The Huskers went 2-3 in those games. So if backs like Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green can show that they're capable of taking some carries this spring, it could go a long way in the fall.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:58 pm
 

VIDEO: The ears of Texas are bleeding

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Bad news, everybody, Jay-Z and Kanye West stopped watching the throne long enough to let a couple guys from Austin parody a song that has a title I can't type here. But don't take my word for it, witness the terrible crime against humanity for yourself.



I haven't seen a disaster like that take place in Austin since Garrett Gilbert was still wearing a Texas uniform.

Now, while that was truly terrible and one of the worst experiences of your life, it should be noted that it was meant to be terrible. The video's description on YouTube can tell you as much. So, really, while this is just another in a long line of terrible college-themed rap videos, the rappers themselves are wonderful.

Because they were trying to be awful. And they were. So good for them, I guess.

Hat tip: Kegs 'N Eggs

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:52 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:59 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Cincinnati



Posted by Chip Patterson


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Cincinnati.

Spring Practice Started: Thursday, March 1

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Three Things To Look For:

1. Munchie Legaux's encore. Junior quarterback Munchie Legaux had a chance to get comfortable under center in 2011, appearing in seven games and starting in the final three. When Zach Collaros went down with an ankle injury that kept him out for the remainder of the regular season, Legaux stepped in to help the Bearcats claim a share of the Big East title. At times, Legaux was brilliant on the field. He used his athleticism and creativity to keep plays alive, throwing for 749 yards and adding 185 on the ground. But there were also four interceptions in the last four games, and a 47.4 completion percentage on the season. Spring practice will be Legaux's first chance since then to prove he is ready for permanent starting job. Head coach Butch Jones has named Legaux the first-stringer to start workouts, but has described the competition as "wide open."

2. Looking for defensive playmakers. Even after Zach Collaros' ankle injury, the Bearcats' defense helped keep them in games by holding the opposition from reaching the end zone. Cincinnati ranked third in the Big East and No. 20 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 20.3 points per game. A big part in their defensive success came from fantastic individual playmaking from All-Big East talent like linebacker JK Schaffer and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe. The Bearcats actually allowed an average of 356.4 yards per game, but thanks to playmaking and a Top 10 turnover margin (0.92/game) they were able to step up when it counts. Schaffer and Wolfe are gone now, and the unit will need more playmakers in 2012 to avoid paying the penalty for 300+ yards allowed per game.

3. Butch Jones back under the microscope. Jones' first two seasons as the Bearcats' head coach encompassed the entire spectrum of success. His arrival was accompanied with a drop from back-to-back conference titles to 4-8. The Big East free-fall had Cincinnati fans panicking until Jones delivered a 10-win season and share of the 2011 Big East title. The need for reloading talent is strong now as it has been since Brian Kelly's tenure, and the onus begins to fall on Jones now that "his guys" are starting to hit the field.

Catch up on all the latest Spring Practice Primers and Spring Game dates at our Spring Practice Home

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 7:51 pm
 

LSU AD says Tigers, Gators may end series

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SEC athletic directors met this week to try and squeeze the league's expansion toothpaste back into the tube of a scheduling rotation that all 14 schools could live with ... and unsurprisingly, they didn't make much headway. But the athletic director at LSU says he and his counterpart at Florida are willing to remove at least one minor hurdle from the deadlock.

Speaking to the Baton Rouge Advocate Thursday, LSU A.D. Joe Alleva said that both his program and Jeremy Foley's in Gainesville are "interested in ending" (to use the Advocate's paraphrase) the Tigers' and Gators' annual cross-division rivalry game. LSU and Florida have met each year since 1971 and were designated as permanent cross-divisional rivals in the SEC's 1992 expansion.

Sources told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy Thursday, however, that Florida is not currently interested in canceling the series. 

The league is considering doing away with permanent cross-divisional rivalries in an effort to ease scheduling concerns, even though that decision would imperil two of the conference's most storied rivalries in Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee. Alleva, however, said that despite his school's willingness to abandon its annual cross-division game, there was "momentum" among the A.D.'s to preserve those two particular series.

“The only way around that is to try to maintain the old rivalries and come up with a solution for those who don’t have them,” Alleva said. “There’s a fine line to doing that.”

Both Ole Miss's Pete Boone and Vanderbilt's David Williams told the Birmingham News this week that they oppose maintaining permanent cross-divisional games, with Williams labeling as unfair a potential compromise that would see only some teams (namely, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee) keep such games.

The leeway of a nine-game league schedule would ease many of those concerns dramatically (while raising others), but Alleva echoed the current prevailing sentiment of SEC A.D.'s and officials in saying he and his fellow A.D.'s prefer sticking with an eight-game schedule--even at the apparent cost of a LSU-Florida series highly valued by many fans on both sides.

Which is why the further A.D. meetings alluded to by SEC spokesman Charles Bloom at the conclusion of this set will no doubt be entirely necessary to iron out the league's scheduling dilemma. The conference continues to face a fundamental scheduling paradox: it wants a six-game divisional round-robin, a permanent cross-division game, and two rotated cross-divisional games (to avoid going a full decade without seeing some opposite-division opponents) ... and still stay at eight games.

Somewhere, push is going to have to come to shove, and it's not a shock a group of 14 men with as many differing agendas as the SEC's A.D.'s would seem to have haven't found where that shove is going to come just yet.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:29 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:30 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Indiana



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Indiana.

Spring Practice Starts: Saturday, March 3

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Eight on offense, nine on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1. Growing pains. Indiana has more starters returning than any other school in the Big Ten this season. Now, considering the Hoosiers went 1-11 last season, there are two different ways you can look at that information. I'm inclined to believe that Kevin Wilson is hoping this is a good thing for his second year in Bloomington, and is hoping that the experience gained last season will lead to better performances this season. Of course, it's important to realize that this is still an extremely young team. Even with so many returning starters, there are still only three seniors projected to start in 2012. So the growing pains are still going to be there.

2. The development of Tre Roberson. Roberson was an intriguing player last season. He received a lot more time at quarterback over the final half of the year as Wilson looked to get his quarterback of the future some experience, and he was just as inconsistent as you'd expect. What will truly be interesting this spring, though, is to see what kind of improvements Roberson can make under new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell. Littrell comes to Indiana from Arizona, where he was in charge of one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country last season.

3. A deeper defense. While Indiana has nine returning starters on defense, that doesn't mean all of them will be starting in 2012. It will be interesting to see the battles that take place this spring as the Hoosiers welcome five new players from the juco ranks on the defensive side of the ball. While we can't be sure which players will lay claim to the starting positions, at the very least it gives Indiana some depth on the defensive side of the ball. Something a unit that gave up 37.3 points a game last year desperately needs.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com