NCAA Football

Kevin Steele Named DC of LSU: Latest Contract Details and Reaction

After John Chavis left the school to take on the same role with Texas A&M, LSU has found a replacement at defensive coordinator, announcing it has hired former Alabama linebackers coach Kevin Steele.     

LSU Football on Twitter made it official:

Steele was the defensive coordinator when Nick Saban joined the program in 2007, though he left to become Clemson's defensive coordinator in 2009. He lasted three seasons with those Tigers before being fired in 2012. He returned to Alabama in 2013 and became the linebackers coach last season. 

He was also the head coach at Baylor from 1999 to 2002.

The reaction to Steele's hiring among some LSU fans hasn't been positive, however, as Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated noted:

Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report tried to put a bit more of a positive spin on things:

Steele will be joining an LSU program that has established itself as an excellent defensive team in recent years, though the offense has often lagged behind. That will put even more pressure on Steele to perform, as though replacing Chavis wasn't already a pretty tall task.

One thing is for certain—if his tenure with these Tigers resembles his tenure with the Clemson Tigers, an LSU faithful that has become accustomed to elite defensive teams will lose their patience with him rather quickly.

 

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5 Takeaways from the Inaugural CFP National Championship

The first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship is complete, and it confirmed what we all suspected: College football is better off without the BCS.

After Ohio State's 42-20 win over Oregon to cap a Cinderella season at AT&T Stadium Monday, that fact—to borrow from the Buckeyes' title hats—should be undisputed.

It was only fitting that the Buckeye heroes were Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott, a third-string quarterback and an under-the-radar running back, respectively, who were catapulted onto the world stage by the new playoff system.

Ohio State may not embody your prototypical underdog, but by overcoming injuries and winning it all as the No. 4 seed, the Buckeyes certainly helped justify the merits of the CFP.  

That's the conclusion, at least, that CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock drew.

Bill Hancock on No 4 Ohio State winning: "it validates what we've known for the last month. That the committee got it right."

— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 13, 2015

Going forward, what are the implications of the inaugural CFP for the major parties involved—Ohio State, Oregon, the conferences, the NCAA and the players themselves? Here are five big takeaways.

 

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Notre Dame Football: Ronnie Stanley's Return Key to 2015 Playoff Run

While Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff will spend the next three weeks on the recruiting trail, they'll sign no bigger prospect than Ronnie Stanley, who they secured on Tuesday. The left tackle announced that he'll return to South Bend for his senior season, putting the NFL on hold to return for the 2015 season. 

Stanley explained his decision in a statement via UND.com:

This was a difficult decision. My dream isn't just to play in the National Football League. I want to win a national championship. I've waited to this point so I could watch the actual game and see if I felt any emotion, and I felt a great deal. I am a competitor. I want to play on the top stage so I've decided that I'm returning to Notre Dame for my senior year.

We've got a chance to have a special season next year. Many of my teammates are returning and I've made strong bonds with lots of them. If all of them weren't coming back this year it would've made it an easier decision to leave. All this, the opportunity to graduate, and much more, led to my decision to stay.

Stanley had been rocketing up draft boards everywhere, looking like a potential first-round pick after an impressive season at left tackle. Now he'll be the key cog to an Irish offensive line that will return the starting five that put together a dominating performance against LSU in the Music City Bowl. 

After being hurt by the NFL draft last season—losing Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and Troy Niklas with a season of eligibility remaining—the chips seem to be falling in Notre Dame's favor this time around. Captain Sheldon Day announced he would return earlier this week, and Stanley's return is even better news. 

With Stanley at left tackle, the offense is nearly fully formed—if Kelly can decide on what to do at the quarterback position. But whoever is playing behind Harry Hiestand's offensive line should have the benefit of a strong running game and excellent pass protection. 

We saw Mike McGlinchey thrive in his first start at right tackle. The trio of Nick Martin, Matt Hegarty and Steve Elmer all return on the inside, with the center position potentially up for grabs. With Stanley as the prototypical blind-side protector, he'll have a chance to anchor one of the strongest offensive lines since the Holtz era. 

Kelly discussed Stanley in the official release:

Ronnie has developed into a premier offensive lineman. With another year at the position, and gaining more knowledge under the outstanding coaching of Harry Hiestand, Ronnie could be the best tackle in all of college football.

I know this decision wasn't an easy one for him, but, as his coach, I'm proud of the manner in which he handled it. He's matured so much since he first arrived on campus, and this is just another example. Ronnie now has a chance to leave Notre Dame as both a graduate and first-round NFL pick.

There's been a strong track record of returning players at Notre Dame to improve their draft stock. Zack Martin parlayed a fifth year into a first-round pick and was the only rookie to make the NFL's All-Pro team. Michael Floyd and Tyler Eifert returned for their senior seasons and became first-rounders as well. 

In addition to Stanley and Day, Notre Dame expects KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams back, two more returning starters on a team that will only lose tight end Ben Koyack, right tackle Christian Lombard and cornerback Cody Riggs. 

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Recruits React to Ohio State Winning National Championship Game

Urban Meyer has long had a reputation of being an elite recruiter, but his job on that front got a little easier after his Buckeyes trounced Oregon on Monday night to win their first national title since 2002.

If Monday is any indicator of the momentum that Ohio State is building on the recruiting trail, Meyer is poised to restock his roster with elite recruits in the next few classes. 

The Buckeyes received a trio of commitments from top underclassmen in the 2016 (5-star running back Kareem Walker) and 2017 classes (4-star athlete Bruce Judson and 4-star corner Shaun Wade) before, during and after Monday's game.

In addition to their classes swelling in the aftermath of capturing a title, current Buckeyes commitments have responded with their thoughts on the win and the state of the program moving forward. 

For a player such as 2015 4-star athlete and Ohio native Jerome Baker, seeing his future school capture the biggest prize in the sport gave him an immediate feeling of pride, as he told Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts.

"This is the expectation when you go to Ohio State," Baker told Kurelic. "We are expected to win national championships. Proud of them guys. I can't wait to get down there so we can win many more."

The Buckeyes dominated the Ducks in the trenches, as star sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a career-high 236 yards and four scores.

That level of physical domination resonated with players such as 2015 3-star offensive line pledge Branden Bowen.

"I'm excited to say the least," Bowen told Kurelic. "Ohio State came in and, aside from the turnovers, dominated the game."

While the Buckeyes commitments rejoiced, targets in future classes were also playing close attention to the improvement the Buckeyes showed over the course of the season.

2016 4-star defensive end Kyree Campbell is one of the top early targets for Meyer and his staff in next year's cycle.

The 6'5", 280-pounder—who mentioned Alabama, Florida, Michigan and North Carolina in addition to the Buckeyes as schools that stick out to him in the early stages of his recruitment—said he was rooting for the Buckeyes heading into the game.

"Oregon was hitting them with that fast pace, so I got scared for a minute," Campbell told Bleacher Report. "They did what had to be done, which was slowing [quarterback Marcus] Mariota down. It was a job well done. Coach [Larry] Johnson, being the defensive line coach, he did a great job."

The Virginia native came away impressed at how the Buckeyes defensive line flustered the Heisman Trophy-winning Ducks quarterback.

"Most of the game, I was watching the defensive line," Campbell said. "I didn't really care for the offense. I was watching the defense and watching the schemes and seeing what they like to run and how they execute. Those guys did an excellent job on the defensive line. I like to analyze things like that."

2018 running back Ricky Slade is a prep teammate of current Ohio State commit and 4-star offensive lineman Matthew Burrell. Although Slade just completed his freshman year of high school, he's already secured an offer from the Buckeyes. 

"I kind of felt like Ohio State was going to beat Oregon," Slade said. "They had a lot of momentum from the last two games, and it carried over to the championship game."

Slade—who mentioned plans to visit Ohio State in the spring— admits that the offense has gotten his attention over the last few games.

"Their offense started clicking after the first drive," Slade said. "They maintained the ball for a long time and kept Oregon's offense off the field. They've been clicking for a minute. That game made me feel some type of way about Ohio State."

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Miami Football: Early Look at Favorites to Replace Departing Hurricanes

The 2015 edition of the Miami Hurricanes football team must replace 12 starters from the recent year, equally split with six on both offense and defense.

Most candidates spent the 2014 season as second-stringers, though, a handful missed time due to various reasons or stepped in for unavailable players.

Starters are classified as someone who opened the most games at a respective possession, even if that number is less than seven—under 50 percent of Miami's 13 contests. Ties lean in favor of Hurricanes who would have finished the year had injury not limited them.

Additionally, only one member of the 2015 recruiting class is mentioned because he has officially signed. Any prospect not enrolled at Miami is not included at this time.

 

Offense

Returning Starters: Brad Kaaya, QB; Malcolm Lewis, WR; Stacy Coley, WR; Danny Isidora, RG; Taylor Gadbois, RT

Vacated Positions: Duke Johnson, RB; Phillip Dorsett, WR; Clive Walford, TE; Ereck Flowers, LT; Shane McDermott, C; Jon Feliciano, LG

The Hurricanes are losing a variety of offensive starters, but the most significant is Duke Johnson. His production was unmatched on the team, yet the show must go on without the record-setting back.

Joseph Yearby easily has the highest potential of any returning runner, and a 500-yard freshman campaign confirmed his highly touted abilities. Gus Edwards will certainly be a factor throughout the 2015 season, but Yearby's acceleration and one-cut talents make him the clear No. 1 choice.

"Starting wide receiver" is a fickle term at Miami considering it's largely dependent on the formation of the first play, which offensive coordinator James Coley consistently varies. Nevertheless, Phillip Dorsett is headed to the NFL, and someone needs to take the speedster's position.

Rashawn Scott was unavailable because of an "exotic injury," per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald, while Braxton Berrios and Herb Waters started five and three games, respectively.

After tallying 512 yards as a sophomore in 2012, Scott has only appeared in four games. However, the senior is Miami's best possession target on the outside, something Brad Kaaya didn't truly have last year. If Scott can stay healthy, he's a favorite to start alongside Malcolm Lewis and Stacy Coley.

Granted, it wouldn't be a surprise for Scott, Coley and Berrios to be the top three receivers, with the latter overtaking a seven-game starter in Lewis. After all, Berrios had a clear connection with Kaaya, perhaps the best on the team.

While Standish Dobard is practically a shoo-in at tight end for Clive Walford, the Hurricanes need the 6'4", 255-pound Dobard to improve his routes out of a three-point stance. He snared seven passes for 147 yards last season.

The offensive line isn't in dire straits, but losing nearly 100 combined starts is not insignificant. Taylor Gadbois and Trevor Darling both opened five games at right tackle, and Danny Isidora was stationed at right guard for all 13.

On the left, however, it gets interesting. Kc McDermott missed the final eight games after sustaining a knee injury. A 4-star recruit in 2014, McDermott was pegged with taking over for Flowers, though, that's happening one year sooner than hoped.

While both Alex Gall and Nick Linder are leading candidates to step in for Shane McDermott and Jon Feliciano, the position is in question. Gall was actually recruited as a guard and Linder as a center, but it appears those roles will be switched.

 

Defense

Returning Starters: Calvin Heurtelou, DT; Tyriq McCord, DE; Raphael Kirby, OLB; Artie Burns, CB; Deon Bush, S

Vacated Positions: Anthony Chickillo, DE; Olsen Pierre, DT; Thurston Armbrister, OLB; Denzel Perryman, MLB; Ladarius Gunter, CB; Nantambu-Akil Fentress, S

Chad Thomas and Al-Quadin Muhammad will battle for Chickillo's position, but AQM is the better fit, so Thomas can stick to rushing off the edge and share time with McCord. Granted, Muhammad was not with the team in 2014, so Thomas certainly could take that spot.

At defensive tackle, Ufomba Kamalu is the player to watch, especially since he was statistically better than Pierre anyway. Courtel Jenkins drifted into the background after a solid opening to his freshman campaign, and Michael Wyche was mostly ineffective in limited action.

Linebacker might be a problem. Denzel Perryman's production cannot be replaced with the snap of a finger, but Raphael Kirby will tackle that challenge. Despite starting at outside 'backer in 2014, Kirby should shift back inside since that's where he'd played before dismissals forced Al Golden's hand.

Consequently, both outside linebacker positions are open. Jermaine Grace is a surefire candidate to take one; in fact, he can safely be considered a lock. Complementing Grace will likely be Darrion Owens, who received a majority of any remaining snaps in a remarkably thin corps last year.

Tracy Howard will return for his senior campaign, but the former 5-star must hold off Corn Elder. Keep an eye on Jaquan Johnson, a Class of 2015 early enrollee who may begin his Miami career at cornerback due to a solid safety corps.

Speaking of the safeties, Rayshawn Jenkins is primed to regain his starting position after sitting out 2014 due to a back injury. Lining up next to Deon Bush once again, Jenkins will give the Hurricanes a stout final line of defense.

 

Stats courtesy of CFBstats.com. Recruiting information via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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J.T. Barrett Didn't Look Too Happy After OSU's CFP National Championship Win

Weird happenings were afoot after Ohio State’s victory over Oregon in the College Football Playoff National Championship. 

The subject of ink arose, a third-string quarterback talked pro ball and one of the most instrumental individuals in the Buckeyes’ return to national dominance sat alone on a bench, arms crossed. 

Only J.T. Barrett knows how he felt in the moments after Monday night’s game, but it’s clear he was digesting the win in a different way than his teammates.

CBSSports.com's Jon Solomon tweeted a picture of the injured quarterback taken immediately after the Buckeyes' victory. Confetti is falling, his team is celebrating on the field and Barrett is sitting alone on the bench, looking somewhere between meditative and glum.

For what it's worth, Barrett says he isn’t conflicted over the team’s win. After the game, Barrett told NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread he was not bothered watching the Buckeyes succeed without him.

“No bitterness,” Barrett said. “I’m not bitter at all. I feel great. I’m really happy. I didn’t win a state championship in high school. I won a national championship here at Ohio State. That’s why I came here…no mixed feelings at all. None.”

Of course, any melancholy Barrett could have felt in his heart of hearts Monday night would have been entirely understandable.

Since fracturing his ankle during the Michigan game in November, Barrett has sat by and watched third-string wunderkind Cardale Jones finish the final leg of his race in spectacular fashion. This was his team—his season—and Monday night he was faced with celebrating a win that does serious damage to the prospects of him starting for Ohio State in 2015—something he plans to do.

Barrett is adamant about staying put and fighting for the starting job in Columbus next season. He told Sports Illustrated’sPete Thamel that he plans to return to Ohio State for his redshirt sophomore year.

“I’m not leaving,” Barrett told Thamel. “I don’t think Braxton is leaving. I don’t think Cardale is leaving. That’s being honest. With that, I mean, it’s just competition. It’s part of football. It’s what we’re about to do.”

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture filigree.

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Ronnie Stanley Will Return to Notre Dame: Latest Details and Reaction

Notre Dame offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley has officially announced he will return to South Bend for his senior season.

Stanley tweeted his intentions on Tuesday:

Stanley has played an integral role for the Irish throughout his career, but he saw his stock skyrocket during the 2014 season. While protecting Everett Golson and Malik Zaire's blindside this season, scouts slowly began noticing his overpowering play.

Luke Easterling of The Draft Report noted just how bright Stanley's future is:

Rob Rang of CBS Sports also offered his take on the talented lineman:

Besides size, athleticism and toughness, Stanley showed other traits that will earn him kudos with scouts, including good awareness and competitiveness. Stanley keeps his head on a swivel and looks for peel back blocks on defenders in pursuit. On multiple occasions Stanley blocked one defender before switching off to hit another.

Despite a lot of buzz surrounding his breakout season, Stanley has remained mum about his intentions. Mike Monaco of The Observer Sports provides a quote from Stanley about previously sending in his NFL draft evaluation:

Getting Stanley back for the 2015 season gives the Irish a leader on the offense. Regardless of who gets the starting position under center, they will have an NFL-caliber lineman protecting them.

Another year in college also gives Stanley time to secure his place in the first round of the draft. Having Stanley in the fold might also mean big things for Notre Dame in terms of looking to make the playoff next season.

 


Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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College Football Playoff Works to Perfection

The man who once fought against a college football postseason with every bone in his body stood on the sport’s brightest stage imaginable, smile engaged, celebrating his masterpiece.

Bill Hancock, former architect of the BCS and current executive director of the College Football Playoff, looked like a man comfortable in his new life. The beaming expression on his face was genuine; his presence, although bizarre given his evolving agendas, was strangely comforting. Even with his history taken into consideration, it felt like he belonged.

As confetti deluged Ohio State following its 42-20 win over Oregon Monday, Hancock handed over the awkwardly shaped ice cream cone to Urban Meyer. Or perhaps the new trophy is more torch-like in shape, the kind of object that fits well in one’s hand and can be easily hoisted.

Given what this moment represented, a golden torch is probably a more appropriate symbol. The way the Buckeyes passed it freely around the stage marked a significant moment in college football history; this was more than just a celebration of one particular program.

Under Jerry Jones’ spaceship scoreboard at AT&T Stadium, in front of a Columbus-heavy crowd soaking in every word and the largest viewing audience in ESPN’s record books, Hancock enjoyed a much-deserved victory lap.

“It validates what we’ve known for the last month,” Hancock said to the crowd, preparing for his full flex-down. “That the [selection] committee got it right.”

Sure it does. But this moment was far more significant than the inner satisfaction of members of the group that served up our first playoff teams. While the College Football Playoff selection committee saw its tireless work validated when the No. 4 seed stood alone atop CFB’s mountain, this was a culmination of something more.

You can start with the numbers, the most tangible way to quantify the first-ever College Football Playoff as a success or failure. Coming off two semifinal matchups that saw viewership comparable to most national championship turnouts—games that competed with and even surpassed mighty NFL viewership—Ohio State and Oregon posted the largest overnight rating in ESPN’s history.

Monday night’s inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T (8:30 p.m. – midnight ET) — Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – generated a 18.5 overnight rating, the highest metered market ever for ESPN according to Nielsen. Last night’s National Championship game was a 21% increase over the 2014 BCS National Championship on ESPN (Florida State vs. Auburn, 15.3). Also, the final game of the new College Football Playoff format surpassed the 16.1 overnight rating for the 2011 BCS National Championship (Auburn vs. Oregon) which held the previous best in cable history.

None of this should be at all surprising. While the numbers will undoubtedly generate a few straggler Bristol fist pumps—the next in the line of many—these gaudy, eyeball-popping figures were almost guaranteed heading into Monday evening.

With so much momentum leading to New Year’s Day and even more emerging out of it, you knew this would be one of the most watched sporting events of the year. This was a national championship decided between two ravenous, anxious fanbases. And as for the rest of us, we were happy to tag along for the ride.

A national championship was decided, certainly. But a new era of the sport unfolded before our eyes right as the torch was passed to a dedicated man so willing to embrace it. All we could do was sit in awe and marvel at the power of an unprecedented national championship run made possible by an actual college football postseason.

Without it, none of this ever happens.

Cardale Jones never enjoys the breakthrough of all breakthroughs at quarterback, shedding a “third-string” label that is now hovering somewhere in space. Ezekiel Elliott never becomes a star, a Heisman favorite and a legend in the state of Ohio; his final three games will now be celebrated around Columbus fireplaces for decades to come.

Meyer’s legend as all-time great doesn’t take a dramatic leap forward. More significantly, Ohio State doesn’t win a national championship because it never would have had the opportunity. It never makes football history, becoming the first team to exhaust all quarterbacks en route to becoming a national champion.

The fourth seed in the BCS era got you nothing more than some bowl swag and an exhibition game. Now, if you can be just good enough, you have a chance at football immortality.

That, in its purest form, is why the College Football Playoff was necessary. A results-oriented sport got the results-oriented system it deserves. It took years to implement, a few more to plan and one more to complete the first-ever season with a bracket attached. Goodness, it was worth the wait, even if we had to wait longer than expected.

The talk now, of course, will turn to the obvious: How can we fix something that isn’t broken?

It’s a question the sport has seemingly mastered, oftentimes seeking out the appropriate next steps rather than celebrating the moment itself. There are tweaks to be made within the new system, small changes that selection committee chairman Jeff Long confirmed to Bleacher Report and that will be discussed in the coming months.

These adjustments have nothing to do with doubling the playoff field, so don’t get your hopes up (or down). These will involve the finer—but still critically important—matters that we'll surely dissect at length with nothing but time on our hands.

With perspective gained, however, our approach to the new, improved system will drastically change. Like Hancock, the former College Football Playoff brick wall, all we can do now is smile.

It doesn't matter that the moment has passed and we'll soon fall into the dark offseason abyss; the foundation for the future has never looked so bright. As a result, you should let this one linger for a while longer.

Now, if only we had a golden ice cream cone. Or, better yet, a torch.

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Ohio State's Joey Bosa Trolls Marcus Mariota, Oregon After Championship Win

Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa is a national champion, and he's not afraid to show it. 

Following his team's dominant 42-20 win in the College Football Playoff National Championship against the Oregon Ducks, the promising sophomore took to Instagram to have a little fun.

Bosa posted a photo of Marcus Mariota lying on the ground with the words "O, No," likely referring to the "O" in Oregon. This is also the same play where Bosa leveled Mariota in a controversial late hit.

Nevertheless, this is some champion-level trolling. 

It seems that Joey Bosa has been reading fans comments about the late-hit, so he decided to share his own thoughts about foul play.


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Ohio State's Joey Bosa Trolls Marcus Mariota, Oregon After Championship Win

Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa is a national champion, and he's not afraid to show it. Following his team's dominant 42-20 win in the College Football Playoff National ...

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