Former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was hardly missed as Georgia temporarily elevated tight ends coach John Lilly for the Belk Bowl last week. But if Lilly's performance in a one-game tryout and his familiarity with the culture in Athens is not enough to secure him the job, Brian Schottenheimer is the perfect candidate to fill the void.
Currently the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator, Schottenheimer boasts an impressive football pedigree and a coaching resume that could be a real asset in The Classic City. And according to Dean Legge of Scout.com's Dawg Post, he's on the short list of replacements for Bobo.
The son of longtime NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer and the nephew of weathered NFL assistant Kurt Schottenheimer, Brian Schottenheimer graduated from the University of Florida, where he played under Steve Spurrier and backed up star quarterback Danny Wuerffel for three years. After a winding—but successful—early career, a move back to the Southeastern Conference could be next for Schottenheimer, who turned 41 in October.
For Georgia, the allure of an NFL name is strong. While coaching at the collegiate level presents its unique challenges, the recruiting advantage of having a tenured NFL offensive coordinator running a pro-style offense could be decisive. Schottenheimer has the chops to back up such hypothesizing.
He developed NFL quarterbacks from 2001-2005 with the Washington Redskins and the San Diego Chargers. Since that time, he's served as an offensive coordinator with the New York Jets (from 2006-2011) and the Rams (since 2012). Though his performance at football's highest level is debatable, the fact that he's earned a paycheck as offensive coordinator in the NFL for each of the last nine seasons cannot be ignored.
Very few assistant coaches know the game of football as well as Schottenheimer, and very few assistants could appeal to dream-chasing recruits with more experience.
Last winter, Tracy Rocker was a terrific addition to Georgia's coaching staff because of his experience coaching defensive line units at the NFL level. The same would be true to an even greater extent of Schottenheimer.
When Bobo's departure for a head coaching job was announced, many fans immediately feared the potential loss of a commitment from Jacob Eason, the top pro-style quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class, according to 247Sports. Hiring Schottenheimer would only strengthen Eason's commitment and the interest of stars seeking NFL-like offenses.
And according to his current boss, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, Schottenheimer appears to have the skills one would hope for in a collegiate offensive coordinator. According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fisher praised Schottenheimer last week, saying, "I think Brian is an outstanding play-caller. Outstanding play-caller. He's very organized. He's an excellent teacher."
Talk may be cheap, but those words of endorsement seem to rebuff concerns that may have stemmed from Georgia's last hire of an NFL coordinator, Todd Grantham.
Grantham's knowledge of defensive schemes was vast. But his most recurring shortcoming was an inability to teach young players and develop personnel. Fisher's complimentary assessment of Schottenheimer's ability to educate is encouraging.
Further, Schottenheimer stands out because he's hard to eliminate for obvious reasons. According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Georgia is also looking at the likes of Mike Bloomgren (Stanford), Kurt Roper (last with Florida, but not retained by new head coach Jim McElwain) and Tyson Helton (Western Kentucky).
Bloomgren is a compelling candidate given the recent success of Stanford football, but he's only been the team's offensive coordinator for two seasons, and over that period the Cardinal have combined to average fewer than 30 points per game. In five losses this season, Stanford averaged just 13.4 points per contest—and that included 10 points in overtime periods during a 20-17 loss to Utah. Also of note: Bloomgren worked under Schottenheimer for five seasons with the Jets.
Roper was a trendy name this time last year after helping revitalize Duke football, but is he worthy of such praise after a dismal performance at Florida in 2014? For the most part, Florida's offense struggled in his lone season at the offensive helm. Against FBS opposition, Roper's unit averaged just 24.6 points per game, and the lone highlight of the year was a 38-point performance against (ironically) Georgia.
As for Helton, the concern is experience. Though he's been around the block as a coach, with stops at Hawaii, UAB and Memphis before arriving at Western Kentucky, he's never coached at a Power Five conference program, and he's only been an offensive coordinator for one season.
Schottenheimer brings a lot of everything to the table. He's a big name that should offer a viable advantage in recruiting. He's a capable teacher and knowledgeable play-caller, which should make practices productive and game plans effective. And he's experienced enough to take the role in stride.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.
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After a pair of College Football Playoff semifinals that both unfolded unpredictably in their own unique ways, Oregon and Ohio State are gearing up for a battle to decide the national champion.
The Ducks left no doubt about their place as the most dominant force in college football this season, slaying the giant that was Florida State. But instead of a back-and-forth, hard-fought win, Oregon throttled the Seminoles 59-20 in a one-sided Rose Bowl.
The favorites weren't so fortunate in the New Year's Day night cap, as the Buckeyes gave the Alabama Crimson Tide their best shot and wouldn't be denied in a 42-35 win.
Each team comes in with only one loss, and neither squad has seen a defeat since the opening few days of October. With destiny creeping in for two national powerhouses, legacies will be on the line come January 12.
Here's a look at everything you need to know for the national championship.
When: Monday, January 12, 2015
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Start Time (ET): 8:30 p.m.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Spread (via Odds Shark): Oregon -6.5
National Championship Preview
It may not be the matchup we all expected, but there's little to complain about when Oregon and Ohio State are meeting for the national title.
On one side of the matchup, getting here seemed like a mere formality. Ever since a shocking home loss to Arizona, the Ducks have been on fire, earning nine straight wins by double digits (many of which were much more lopsided).
Marcus Mariota's continued dominance is the main ingredient. Despite throwing an uncharacteristic interception in the Rose Bowl, the Heisman Trophy winner dazzled with 338 passing yards and three total touchdowns.
As ESPN Stats & Info noted, all he has to do is score as many touchdowns as turnovers in the championship and he'll make history:
Keeping up his offensive dominance against an Ohio State defense that conceded 407 total yards to Alabama shouldn't be difficult, but outscoring a Buckeyes offense that hasn't skipped a beat with its third-string quarterback is another story.
Quarterback Cardale Jones proved his game against Wisconsin was no fluke, helping gash the Alabama defense. Ohio State put up 537 total yards in the game, 281 of which came on the ground against a group that had been the nation's top-ranked run defense.
Ohio State couldn't get off to the start it wanted against Alabama, but it didn't much matter when things got clicking. The Buckeyes won't want to do the same against an Oregon team that is used to putting opponents away by the middle of the third quarter.
The Buckeyes' comeback likely would not have been possible without holding Alabama to just one score in each of the final three quarters, which will be easier said than done against Oregon's offense. Then again, the Ducks shouldn't be able to make the Buckeyes one-dimensional like they did the Seminoles.
After Ohio State rolled with some early punches and executed its plan to perfection against the top-ranked Crimson Tide, the Buckeyes won't be short on confidence as they try to do the same against Oregon. With that said, it's going to be a completely different type of challenge.
Ohio State's offense is for real, and there's no one who should doubt that after what unfolded in the Sugar Bowl. But a great offense can only be topped by an unstoppable offense, which will be the case in this one.
The Buckeyes were on their P's and Q's defensively against Alabama but still conceded 35 points. Mariota and the Oregon offense are simply firing on all cylinders right now, taking advantage of every turnover and moving the ball down the field with ease.
Jones has too much around him on offense to fall apart like Jameis Winston and FSU did against these Ducks. Unlike most of the times Oregon has stepped onto the field this season, it won't come easy—but it will undoubtedly come, and Oregon will hoist its first-ever national title.
Oregon 41, Ohio State 34
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Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel's legacy wasn't what he expected, but he did go out with a bang.
Playing in place of injured starting quarterback Treon Harris, Driskel entered the Birmingham Bowl and polished off a 28-20 win with an 11-yard run on 3rd-and-4 with 1:11 to play.
It was the final meaningful play of Driskel's career.
New head coach Jim McElwain announced before the game that he has been granted a release to transfer if he wants to.
"We all have choices, and I'm not going to hold him hostage," McElwain told ESPN.com's Greg Ostendorf prior to the Birmingham Bowl.
According to ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy and Joe Schad, Driskel—who as a graduate is eligible immediately—will head to Louisiana Tech.
It's the right move for Driskel and for Florida.
For Driskel, it's a chance for a fresh start. The former top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country in the class of 2011 never lived up to the hype, as he threw 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions over the last two seasons and became the poster child of offensive ineptitude in Gainesville.
Could Driskel have stuck around, played his last year for McElwain and possibly earned his starting job back? He could have tried, but that wasn't going to happen. He also could have joined MLB's Boston Red Sox, who drafted him in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB draft, according to ESPN.com. He hasn't played baseball since high school, and if he's good enough to get drafted, that is a fallback regardless of when his football career ends.
He absolutely should give it another shot, just not at Florida.
Driskel had become branded as one of the major problems in Gainesville, and there's no reason for him to stick around for one more year to try to change his legacy. It's already etched in stone, and the 11-yard scramble to seal the Birmingham Bowl is a nice way to close it out.
Plus, Louisiana Tech is a fantastic place for Driskel to revitalize his career.
Head coach Skip Holtz and offensive coordinator Tony Petersen produced a potent passing offense in 2014 that finished the season averaging 252.2 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Cody Sokol threw for 3,436 yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 picks for the Bulldogs and helped Holtz's crew to a 35-18 win over Illinois in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl.
A move to Ruston will give Driskel a fresh start in a potent offense against lesser competition. Is that going to set him up for football at the next level? It's safe to say he's not an NFL draft prospect, but at least he can finish off his career on a high note for a program that is hoping to take the next step.
For Florida, it's the right move as well.
McElwain has already proven that he's looking for a fresh start in many aspects of the program, as former defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was replaced by Geoff Collins, and defensive backs coach and star recruiter Travaris Robinson moved on to join Will Muschamp's defensive staff at Auburn.
If McElwain had given Driskel one more chance and the Oviedo, Florida native took advantage, it'd be a sign that the McElwain regime is more of the same. Harris had already taken over the job during the season and will have a full offseason to progress after hitting the ground running during his true freshman season.
Will Grier, a 4-star quarterback in last season's recruiting class who redshirted this season, will also get a look from McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Grier threw for 14,565 yards, 195 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in three years as a starter at Davidson Day (N.C.) High School, according to MaxPreps.com.
The two quarterbacks have different styles, but youth is the common factor. McElwain is wise to build with youth rather than delaying the development of his younger quarterbacks by giving Driskel another chance.
Florida doesn't have a quarterback committed in the class of 2015 but could hit the free-agent transfer market if options become available. Whether it's a newcomer, Grier or Harris, there's reason for hope in Gainesville due to change.
That's a step in the right direction.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.
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Bleacher Report's CFB 250 is an annual ranking of the best players in college football, regardless of NFL potential. Brian Leigh and Kynon Codrington have studied, ranked and graded the top athletes in the country, narrowed that list to 250 and sorted by position. Today, we present the Top 25 Defensive Ends.
Other CFB 250 Positions
- Top 22 Pro-Style Quarterbacks
- Top 13 Interior Linemen
- Top 20 Dual-Threat Quarterbacks
- Top 21 Cornerbacks
- Top 12 Offensive Tackles
- Top 20 Safeties
- Top 25 Running Backs
- Top 17 Outside Linebackers
- Top 12 Defensive Tackles
Defensive end was the deepest, most talented position in college football during 2014.
Declarative statements such as that are often hyperbolic, but this one is not. It is simply the truth. As many as 14 players could have made a convincing argument to land in the top five. And a healthy chunk of that top 14 has already announced it will return next season.
Part of this depth has to do with the way we defined "defensive end." Certain players who are technically listed as linebackers were included if they played the majority of snaps with their hand down. Even though they are capable of standing up and playing linebacker, it feels more honest to call them 9-technique ends.
Before we start, please note that these players were graded as college linemen, not on how they project as NFL linemen.
Targeted skills such as run defense are important at both levels, but there is a difference between college run defense and professional run defense. If a lineman is strong enough to set the edge in the SEC or the Big 12, it doesn't matter that he can't set the edge against the NFC North. At least not here, it doesn't.
This is all about his college performance.
Note: If two players finished with the same grade, a subjective call was made based on whom we would rather have on our team right now.