NCAA Football

Kliff Kingsbury Reads His Admirers' Flattering Tweets on 'SportsNation'

Kliff Kingsbury is a handsome man. This much we know.

The Texas Tech coach is among the less paunchy and better-dressed figures in college sports, and what more awkward way to drive that point home than to have the man read detailed tweets about his own good looks?

Thus we have this segment from ESPN's SportsNation, which asked Kingsbury to quote gushy messages about himself written by random Twitter users.

Well, that was fun. And uncomfortable.

I credit Kingsbury for going through with the segment. Getting a college football coach to say something nice about himself is like milking a horse—you can do it, but it's going to get weird.

While we're here, let’s get meta and read some random tweets of people fawning over Kingsbury while he reads fawning tweets.

Also, here's a screenshot of what comes up when you type "Kliff Kingsbury" into Twitter.

One of these things does not belong. Kingsbury is to Charlie Weis as tuna tartare is to KFC Double Down.

The weird explanation for this is that the Big 12 just began airing a commercial where the head coach of each program says his piece and morphs into another coach.

You know what makes for an aggressive shape-shift? Kingsbury to Weis.

With that, we can conclude our semiannual "Kingsbury is an attractive man" report. I hope you consider yourself up to date and informed on all Kingsbury news.

Just remember: We are all lesser mortals than the Red Raider Gosling.

 

Follow me on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from Pac-12 Media Days

The annual zoo known as Pac-12 media days began on July 23, when a variety of conference coaches took their place in front of a hungry band of reporters determined to pick their minds in preparation for the 2014 college football season.

Among those program leaders was Trojan head coach Steve Sarkisian, and he offered some illumination on what he sees lying ahead for the men of Troy this year.

Remarkably candid, coach "Sark" offered up some interesting tidbits as USC prepares to embark on the final practice sessions in the fall as the August start of the football season looms directly ahead.

This slideshow will look at some of those pearls of Sarkisian wisdom and attempt to decipher what they mean for USC in 2014.

Did the USC head man tip his hand during media days?

Read on to find out.

 

Note: All quotes obtained from transcripts provided by ASAP Sports Transcripts.

 

Begin Slideshow

USC Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from Pac-12 Media Days

The annual zoo known as Pac -12 media days began on July 23, when a variety of conference coaches took their place in front of a hungry band of reporters determined to pick their minds in preparation for the 2014 college football season...

Begin Slideshow

Preseason College Football Rankings 2014: Predicting Amway Coaches Top 25 Poll

New era, new sponsorship. As we transition into the first season of the College Football Playoff, we must also transition into the first season of the Amway Coaches Poll.

But don't expect a radical difference. Amway has partnered with the Coaches Poll's traditional producers, USA Today and the American Football Coaches Association, and the voting process will remain essentially unchanged. The only difference is that now, unlike during the BCS era, the poll will not play a role in deciding who gets to play for a national title (or in this case, in a national semifinal).

Although the rankings no longer have a stake in the season, they are still important for entertainment (and arguing) purposes. And the preseason edition is especially important, as it signals the impending return of real, live, actual college football to our lives.

So with the first rankings set to be released on July 31, let's take a stab at predicting which teams show up and where.

For those of you prudent enough to read the intro slide, keep in mind that these are not how I would rank the teams myself. It's a projection of how the coaches will rank them based largely, but not entirely, on the apparent general consensus.

Chime in below and let me know where you think the poll will differ.

Begin Slideshow

Why JUCO Recruiting Will Be Crucial to Bo Pelini, Nebraska's 2015 Class

Junior college players have always been a part of Bo Pelini's recruiting plan. For 2015, it needs to become a crucial part.

Less than a month after arriving in Nebraska, defensive end DeAndre Wills left the program. The Omaha World-Herald reported the decision was primarily determined by two family illnesses. Now that he's gone, the Huskers face an interesting predicament.

The depth at defensive end is now concerning. Randy Gregory and Greg McMullen are the only two players with experience at the position on the roster. But that doesn't mean it's time to panic.

Instead, it's time for Pelini to focus on recruiting JUCO players.

Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald recently took a look at the benefits of doing so. He was clear that Pelini needs to build JUCO players into his bigger plan.

"Nebraska’s done so well scouting that level of football it doesn’t need to be a court of last resort," McKewon said. "It needs to be built into the plan."

McKewon even explained why JUCO players fit so well at Nebraska:

Why do junior college guys fit so snugly into NU’s system? Probably because they’re hungry, and thus self-starters. Examining Pelini’s program over seven years, this much is clear: He and his staff tend to reject coddling. He’s not a micromanager, outside of being a stickler for academics. So junior college players — who have already learned to fend for themselves in the cattle-call system of juco ball, where facilities can be sketchy and the meal plan can be fast food — come in ready to lift, ready to learn the playbook, ready to adjust to college life, arriving with a little extra maturity and humility. Those components matter to NU coaches.

The players that Pelini has recruited out of the JUCO ranks in the past fit that description exceptionally well, too. For instance, DeJon Gomes came to Nebraska from the City College of San Francisco. His two seasons with the Huskers were nothing short of impressive.

Another example of success is Lavonte David. Coming from Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, David made a quick impact for the Huskers in just one season.

What David and Gomes show is that Pelini knows how to recruit great players from junior colleges. That skill is going to have to be put to use for the 2015 class.

In addition to defensive end, the wide receiver position looks to be a concern after 2014. In the last few months, the Huskers lost Monte Harrison (recruited in the 2014 class) to Major League Baseball, as well as Damore'ea Stringfellow and Spencer Tears.

When current seniors Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner graduate, the experience level is going to be a concern at wide receiver. That's what makes junior college players necessary.

Even JC Shurburtt, 247Sports' national recruiting director, believes the Huskers will find the needed players in junior college.

"There's always good JUCO wide receivers all over the place," Shurburtt said. "That's a position that's plentiful and I certainly think the Huskers will find their share and replenish their numbers."

Pelini could replenish numbers from high school recruits, but the needs are much more immediate now. With the defensive end and wide receiver positions filled with mostly inexperienced players, junior college recruits could make an impact immediately.

With how Pelini works with junior college players, it only makes sense to put some time and energy there for the 2015 class. It may not be how Pelini envisioned things going at first, but the success of this class now relies on it.

The Huskers are now halfway through the recruiting cycle, which is another reason junior college players will be important. The 2014 season will bring out the best in those players, allowing Pelini to find just what he needs to make up some ground.

Junior college athletes are no longer nice-to-have pieces for Nebraska in 2015. At this point, they're a need-to-have. That's what makes it so crucial for Pelini and the Huskers.

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

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Spelling Mistake in Texas Media Guide Allows Oklahoma Fans to Troll Longhorns

A simple spelling mistake is usually just embarrassing and nothing more. However, a spelling mistake in Texas' 2014 media guide has given Oklahoma fans the opportunity to troll their rival.

Check out what is on the bottom of each page in the Longhorns' media guide:

Writing "TexsaSports" turned out to be a big mistake.

What happens when you go to TexsaSports.com?

Well played, Sooners fans.

[h/t Reddit and College Spun]

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Ty Montgomery Injury: Updates on Stanford Star's Arm and Return

Just over a month before the start of the college football regular season, Stanford has announced senior receiver Ty Montgomery has suffered an arm injury.    

Coach David Shaw said Thursday he is currently listed as questionable for the opener against UC Davis and noted he could miss the Week 2 showdown against USC, per Jon Wilner or the San Jose Mercury News.

"Hopefully, by the end of training camp, he'll be able to do more contact stuff," Shaw said. "He might not play the first game, and it will be close for USC."

Montgomery is coming off a breakout junior season in which he led the Cardinal in receptions (61), receiving yards (958) and receiving touchdowns (10). The 6'2", 215-pound receiver also added 1,091 yards and two additional scores in the return game last year.

Wilner notes that Montgomery "missed spring practice after surgeries on his knee and arm, is ahead of schedule and able to run full speed. But he is not ready for contact drills and will be limited for at least the first portion of training camp."

Montgomery also enters the season with plenty of hype for the 2015 NFL draft. NFL Draft Scout currently has him listed as the No. 1 senior receiver in the class, but injury concerns might impact his stock.

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN ranks him as one of the top senior receivers, per College GameDay:

Behind him in each of the above statistical categories was senior Devon Cajuste. The experienced receiver will have to step up to give quarterback Kevin Hogan a reliable target if Montgomery is forced to miss time.

While the loss of Montgomery likely won't hurt the team against UC Davis, having him out against Pac-12 opponent USC could be devastating. The Trojans are entering a new era with Steve Sarkisian and looking to make noise in the conference.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Who Does ASU QB Commit Brady White Want to "Put a Whoopin' On" Pac-12?

Brady White is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2015 class. The California native has decided to stay out west and play for Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Who Does ASU QB Commit Brady White Want to "Put a Whoopin' On" Pac-12?

Brady White is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2015 class. The California native has decided to stay out west and play for Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils.

White took some time to talk with Bleacher Report about his recruiting and what he is excited about regarding the future. How well do you think he will do at the collegiate level?

Watch the video and check out this future Sun Devil. 

 

Rankings from 247Sports composite

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why SEC Bluebloods Should Be Wary of College Football Playoff

After years of complaints, anger and frustration, college football fans finally got their way. 

The 2014 season will be the first that concludes with an FBS playoff when the 13 esteemed members of the College Football Playoff selection committee choose the four best teams in the country.

Don't expect there to be two or more SEC teams because that's not happening.

The reason is simple—the goals for the College Football Playoff contradict themselves.

Executive director Bill Hancock explained the main objective for the committee when they sit down to pick the four participants.

"The committee will select the best four teams, period, no strings attached," he said at SEC media days earlier this month.

There's one problem though: There are strings attached. One big one, in fact.

The selection procedure specifically states that one point of emphasis should be conference championships, which presents a bit of a problem based on how college football has worked itself out in the past. Two teams from the same conference have finished in the top four of the final BCS standings in each of the last four seasons, the last three of which have been from the SEC.

One coach who recently mentioned the possibility of two teams from the same conference getting in was Auburn's Gus Malzahn, whose Tigers won the SEC title last year and are in the preseason discussion to make the four-team playoff in 2014.

"I think it's safe to say the SEC champion will be in the final four," he said at media days. "If you look at the last few years, numerous times there would be two teams from the SEC in the final four."

We're playing by an entirely different set of rules now, and one of those rules urges committee members to vote based on arbitrary conference championships, not overall merit.

Would Alabama have gotten a bid last year? Maybe.

Michigan State had a conference championship and finished fourth in the BCS, and Big 12 champ Baylor and possibly even Pac-12 champ Stanford would have had an argument. Stanford and Kansas State each would have been knocking on Florida's door in the previous season, especially since the Gators lost to Georgia in the regular season and the Bulldogs suffered their second loss in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama.

On top of the stated contradiction of rewarding conference champs, there's an implied goal of making this a national event on top of determining the best team. The national title game is designed to mirror the biggest spectacle in sports based on how the location is determined.

"It will be much like the Super Bowl," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in 2012, according to The New York Times. "You'll be dealing with civic communities, and I think it'll be a national process and people have to be very energetic about it. I think it's going to be great for the sport."

Overall, ESPN paid a cool $7 billion for the television rights to the playoff games, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Terms like "national process" and "like the Super Bowl" are code for "spectacle," which, on top of the hefty media deal, is exactly what the College Football Playoff is designed to be. That's great for the sport because more eyeballs means more exposure, and more exposure means more money. But it's terrifying if you're weary of politics and the lure of the almighty dollar.

If you're expecting multiple teams from the same conference to make the inaugural playoff—or any playoff—you're going to be disappointed. It's more likely to be the exception, not the rule.

There's no way to know exactly how the committee will operate until it actually gets down to business, but with a stated goal like rewarding conference championships and the clear intent to make this a spectacle, why would the committee regionalize the playoff by taking two teams from the same conference unless there's really no other option?

The SEC has built itself quite a reputation as the nation's top college football conference based on the seven-year streak of BCS National Championships. But the way this process is set up, it's unlikely that reputation will benefit the conference when it comes to getting a second team into the mix.

Two teams from the same conference in the College Football Playoff?

That's unlikely, especially in its first year of existence. Just be happy with one.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

 

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Watch Snoop Dogg's Son Quiz 5-Star Teammates on Their Bromance

Torrance Gibson and Tarvarus McFadden are two of the highest-rated recruits in the 2015 class. These two studs just happen to be longtime friends who attend the same high school as well.

We had Snoop Dogg's son Cordell Broadus—a top recruit himself—host these two for a trivia game to see how well they really know each other.

Will Gibson and McFadden end up at the same school?

Watch the video to check out how close these two 5-star athletes really are.

Rankings from 247Sports Composite.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M Football: 5 Aspects of the Defense That Must Improve in 2014

The Texas A&M football team must have an improved performance from their defense in 2014 if they want to compete for a conference or national title. There are a few fundamental aspects of their defense that have to improve so the defense can get better as a whole. 

There are certain players who need to step up and play to their potential, and certain positions that simply need to be solidified. The Aggies should have a very good offense in 2014, but they will not be able to beat any of the elite SEC teams without improved defensive play. 

The 2014 defense allowed 475.8 yards and 32.2 points per game in 2013. That will not get the job done in 2014. 

This is a look at the parts of the defense that must improve if the Aggies are going to be an elite team in 2014. 

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Football Recruiting: The Significance of Friday Night Lights Camp


When Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State in November 2011, he brought along several traditions developed during his time at Bowling Green, Utah and, most notably, Florida. And while quick cals and circle drills have already found their respective places in Buckeye lore, perhaps none has excited fans as much as the annual Friday Night Lights camp.

Traditionally held on the final Friday before the start of fall camp, Friday Night Lights provides Meyer and his staff with one last weekend to fully focus on recruiting. Top prospects from all across the nation come to Columbus to work out at the camp under the bright lights of Ohio Stadium in an event that was originally developed during Meyer's time with the Gators.

"Just to do something different and give campers a game-like atmosphere in the stadium," Meyer explained of the camp. "Since we're getting close to the season, it's never very long. It's only a couple hours. But we're going to put them through a weight workout and then just try to get them a little feel for what college football's all about."

Open to the public—but not advertised, per NCAA rules—fans get in on the action, catching an early glimpse of the college football stars of tomorrow while inadvertently aiding Ohio State in its recruiting efforts. A packed house on a July Friday night can go a long way in the mind of a recruit, and the rabid, recruiting-obsessed Buckeyes fanbase has proven capable of providing just that.

In recent years, Friday Night Lights has helped pave the way for Ohio State to land the likes of Tyquan Lewis, Donovan Munger and Chris Worley in 2013 and Raekwon McMillan, Jamarco Jones, Marshon Lattimore, Curtis Samuel and Erick Smith in 2014.

Shortly after last year's event, the Buckeyes received their first verbal commitment for the 2015 class in 247Sports 4-star athlete Eric Glover-Williams and later added pledges from fellow attendees in 2015 cornerback Jamel Dean and 2017 quarterback Danny Clark.

Meyer is hopeful that this year's Friday Night Lights will be as successful as his first two installments of the camp in Columbus. If it is, that would bode well for the Buckeyes, as once again there will be no shortage of stars participating under the lights of The Horseshoe this Friday.

 

Who's Who

Headlining this year's FNL is a player who won't even be taking part in workouts but will surely still find a way to capture the attention of fans in Torrance Gibson. The 5-star quarterback currently sits atop the Buckeyes' recruiting wish list, and this Friday will mark the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native's first trip to Columbus for an unofficial visit.

While he won't be working out at the camp, this weekend is more about Ohio State impressing Gibson than it is vice versa. And with the Buckeyes coaching staff and a number of 2015 commits in attendance and ready to help recruit, this weekend could go a long way toward accomplishing just that.

Although a commitment from Gibson isn't expected until national signing day, just getting the highly touted signal-caller on campus is big for the Buckeyes. B/R national recruiting writer Tyler Donohue anticipates this weekend being a milestone in Gibson's recruitment, as Ohio State looks to solidify itself as one of the favorites in the race for his services.

Gibson won't be the only big-name recruit in attendance in The Shoe on Friday, as the Buckeyes will also aim to impress 4-star offensive tackle Drew Richmond. The 6'5", 320-pounder from Memphis, Tennessee, is one of Ohio State's top remaining targets, and the interest between the two is apparently mutual.

This Friday will mark Richmond's third unofficial trip to Columbus in the past 13 months, and his college decision seems to be between the Buckeyes and Tennessee. Like Gibson, this weekend could go a long way toward the Buckeyes locking down the big-bodied lineman, who would be considered a cornerstone in Ohio State's 2015 class.

Another 2015 offensive target who will be camping for the Buckeyes on Friday is University of Miami commit and 4-star running back Jordan Cronkrite. The Miami Westminster Christian School product has been committed to the Hurricanes since April, but it's no secret that Ohio State is looking to add two running backs to its 2015 class, and his decision to visit Columbus could only be viewed as a positive sign for OSU.

On the defensive side of the ball in the 2015 class, the Buckeyes' expected visitors are headlined by Monaca (Pennsylvania) Central Valley 4-star cornerback Jordan Whitehead, Detroit Cass Tech 3-star defensive end Joshua Alabi and Macedonia (Ohio) Nordonia 3-star defensive end and Michigan State commit Justice Alexander.

Of those players, Whitehead appears to the be priority for the OSU staff, as the Buckeyes look to pry the Keystone State native away from the grasp of the Nittany Lions.

As far as committed targets, most of Ohio State's 2015 class is expected to attend this year's Friday Night Lights, including Glover-Williams, Dean, quarterback Joe Burrow, offensive lineman Kevin Feder, defensive linemen Jashon Cornell and Dre'Mont Jones, linebackers Nick Conner and Justin Hilliard, defensive backs Tyler Green and Denzel Ward and long-snapper Liam McCullough. Expect for these players to be on recruiting duty for the OSU staff as they look to bolster what currently stands as the nation's 15th-ranked class.

 

Looking To The Future

While most of the big names in attendance come from the 2015 class, the Buckeyes will also attempt to make early impressions on a number of underclassmen at Friday's camp.

In addition to two 2016 commits in running back George Hill and offensive lineman Tyler Gerald, Ohio State will be aiming to impress, Atlanta Woodward running back Elijah Holyfield, Fort Wayne (Indiana) Bishop Luers wide receiver Austin Mack, Cincinnati Moeller tight end Jake Hausmann, Perry (Ohio) tight end Luke Farrell, Saint Clairsville (Ohio) linebacker Brendan Ferns and Miami Gulliver Prep defensive back Cedrick Wright.

Each of those players currently holds an Ohio State offer, and if history is any indication, one or more could be making a commitment by the end of the weekend.

As for juniors looking to earn Buckeye offers at this weekend's camp, Ohio State will be keeping an eye on Dublin (Ohio) Coffman quarterback Gunnar Hoak, Cleveland Benedictine wide receiver Justin Layne, Farmington (Michigan) wide receiver Desmond Fitzpatrick, Versailles (Kentucky) Woodford County center Drake Jackson, Gahanna (Ohio) Lincoln defensive end Jonathon Cooper, Detroit Cass Tech defensive back Lavert Hill and Columbus DeSales defensive back Austin Andrews, among others.

As the past two years have shown, Friday Night Lights is the perfect opportunity for a player to prove that he's deserving of an invitation to play for Ohio State, and this year shouldn't be any different.

Aside from Clark, who will be in attendance serving as one of the Buckeyes' chief recruiters, big names from the 2017 class expected to participate in Friday's camp include Fort Lauderdale (Florida) St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Trevon Grimes, Cass Tech wide receiver Donovan People-Jones, Miamisburg (Ohio) offensive lineman Josh Myers and Westerville (Ohio) South defensive back Marcus Williamson.

While Myers already holds an Ohio State offer, the other high school sophomores in attendance will aim to prove they're worthy of one while still in the early stages of their recruiting process.

 

What It All Means

Friday Night Lights serves a two-way street of sorts, as the Buckeyes attempt to impress the big-name prospects in attendance while players without offers look to impress the Ohio State staff. It all culminates in a rare competition-filled July night inside Ohio Stadium, offering fans an inside look at both the nation's top prospects and the recruiting process that helps lure them.

Evidenced by the number of big-name targets that FNL has helped the Buckeyes land, the track record of the camp's success speaks for itself. With Gibson, Richmond and a slew of other top targets in attendance on Friday, Ohio State is hopeful that tradition will continue, as it's proved to help lead to another all-important tradition in Columbus that Meyer is plenty familiar with.

Winning.

 

All quotes, unless indicated otherwise, obtained firsthand. Visitor list provided by 247Sports.

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Is Charlie Strong on a Different Page Than the Texas Upperclassman?

First-year Texas head coach Charlie Strong doesn't care about your expectations.

It's an interesting stance considering his predecessor, Mack Brown, "resigned" last December for not meeting them. But Strong, who has been a coach for 32 years and had a successful 37-15 stint at Louisville, is less concerned about wins and losses at the moment. 

Texas needs to toughen up, according to Strong. That much was evident last season when the Longhorns, whose roster had plenty of 4- and 5-star talent, lost five games by an average of 22 points. 

"It's all about putting a 'T' back into Texas," Strong said during Big 12 media days (via George Schroeder of USA Today). "You talk about toughness, you talk about trust, you talk about togetherness and you talk about just becoming a team."

Strong sidestepped questions about expectations this season, noting he couldn't "say just how far off we are."

"We will not know that until we go out and go compete this fall," he continued. "We still have work to do. We’re not as bad as we used to be but I’ll tell you this right now, we still have a lot of work to do.”

Strong is in the middle of a five-phase process at Texas. In April, when Strong controversially said the Horns wouldn't "be in the national championship game," his team was in the middle of "Phase Two." 

That's not the definitive answer fans or media want, but Strong doesn't owe either party anything. As B/R's Adam Kramer and ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit note, 2014 is more than what shows up in the win-loss column. 

Can Texas develop quarterback David Ash, who was officially named the starter this week? Can the defense, loaded with talent, finally stop dual-threat quarterbacks? Can the offensive line come together quickly? These are all important questions that mostly had negative answers under Brown. 

Improvement on any of those fronts would be a welcome sight that go beyond wins. 

Listening to Texas' veteran players, though, there's an urgency beyond simply improving. 

"I only have five months left [in my collegiate career]," said Horns center Dominic Espinosa. "I have to buy in."

Strong took it a step further.

"You can break those down by weeks," he said. "You tell your seniors that they have 12 opportunities left." 

Defensive end Cedric Reed echoed that sentiment, saying, "We all know we have a limited time."

So, too, did cornerback Quandre Diggs, who didn't mince words to ESPN's Max Olson

I told Coach Strong that I just feel like we had guys on the team that just didn't love football the way they should. That's something that I've always sensed since I've been here: We had guys that just didn't love football. If you don't love football, you don't need to be a part of this university or a part of this team. That's just something I feel greatly and strong about.

Heck, if it was up to me and Coach Strong asked me, I'd help him weed guys out.

Strong's decision to bring Diggs, Espinosa, Reed and running back Malcolm Brown to media days wasn't a coincidence. This is it for a group that hasn't won so much as a Big 12 title. Their tone was more blunt, angrier. It's only seven months in, and already it's clear this is no longer a Mack Brown team.  

"We're mad," Espinosa said. 

The players want to atone for what has been an underachieving past four years. Strong sees things from a bigger picture. Brown was the head coach at Texas for 16 years. While Strong insists Brown is still welcome around the program, putting his own stamp on things could take time. 

With the 15th-toughest schedule in the country, according to Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, that may mean another year without a Big 12 title. 

But if this group of seniors can lay the foundation—the "product," as Strong calls it—for the new Texas, titles could start coming sooner rather than later. 

Strong and his players are on the same page there. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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Alabama Football: Realistic Expectations for Derrick Henry in 2014

Have you heard the one about Derrick Henry?

Superman wears Derrick Henry pajamas to bed. The Boogeyman checks under his bed for Derrick Henry before he goes to sleep at night.

In many Alabama circles, the rising sophomore running back from Yulee, Florida, has already risen to legend status after his Sugar Bowl performance that included this now-famous stat line: eight carries, 100 yards, one touchdown, one catch, 63 yards, one touchdown.

The 6’3”, 248-pound Henry came in with deserved hype, using his linebacker frame and wide receiver speed to break the all-time high school career rushing record. And he made the most of his first significant playing time against Oklahoma to put on a show, although it turned out to be too little too late in a 45-31 loss to end the season.

Alabama coach Nick Saban didn’t hold back in praise of Henry, either, this offseason, using words like “fabulous” and “outstanding” to describe his performance. You can even bet on Henry to win the Heisman, with Henry favored over names like South Carolina running back Mike Davis and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.

It’s easy to see why fans and pundits alike have high hopes for Henry in 2014. Still, he’s not even the No. 1 running back on the team (that would be T.J. Yeldon, a 1,000-yard rusher in his first two seasons who’s on track to break Alabama’s career rushing record), and it remains to be seen if he can handle a heavy load week in and week out in the SEC.

So where can we realistically project Henry for the 2014 season?

A good place to start is to look at Alabama’s running back history under Saban. He’s typically relied on a two-running back system, and that doesn’t figure to change with Yeldon as the starter and Henry the presumed No. 2.

Let’s look at the last five years, starting with 2009, Alabama’s first championship year under Saban.

A quick glance at the numbers tells you that Alabama’s No. 2 running back has averaged 785 yards per year over the last five seasons and around eight touchdowns. Not all running back situations, though, are created equal, so we have to take some other factors into account when trying to come up with a 2014 projection.

Alabama will be breaking in a new quarterback, so it stands to reason that its rushing totals will be a little higher than normal, like they were in 2009 and 2011. New offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin praised Henry in a rare speaking engagement, according to al.com’s Mike Herndon.

“Finishing his true freshman year at 245 pounds, running 4.4," Kiffin said. "That was really easy to come in and see that it'd be good to give him the ball."

It’s unclear how evenly or unevenly the load will be split between Yeldon and Henry. Yeldon could see a slightly decreased workload, having already gotten nearly 400 carries in his college career and the NFL likely in front of him following the season. He could, though, be leaned on as the veteran option in an offense with a new signal-caller.

Saban and players have talked up a “three-headed monster” running back system, with Yeldon, Henry and junior Kenyan Drake bringing different skill sets to the table.

Kiffin said as much, per Herndon: "As you guys know extremely well, I think the offense is led by the tailbacks. ... There probably aren't three more talented tailbacks in the NFL on a roster than we're fortunate to be able to work with at Alabama."

But Drake, who was the No. 2 last year, saw off-field troubles and Henry’s bowl practice and subsequent performance push him back down the depth chart. He was No. 3 through the spring but is now suspended following his arrest. Henry, meanwhile, has by all accounts continued to do the right things and stay in Saban’s good graces.

So while Henry should have a solid season, he’ll likely have a hard time living up to the enormous expectations placed on him by those who expect him to put up the kind of numbers he did against Oklahoma on a regular basis.

He could approach the 1,000-yard mark, though that’s happened just once for a No. 2 running back at Alabama under Saban. But he should land around the 700-900 range with a productive season.

A breakout year, though, and the sky's the limit for someone with Henry’s ability. He could just make his legend status a reality.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Texas' Kendall Sanders, Montrel Meander Reportedly Charged with Sexual Assault

Texas wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander are facing second-degree felony charges for sexual assault after an incident reported to police the morning of June 21.    

Brian Davis and Tony Plohetski of the American-Statesman report bail has been set at $75,000 for both players with Sanders also facing an additional charge of improper photography for allegedly attempting to record the encounter, which carries additional bail of $20,000.

The report included further details from sources close to the situation:

Two sources have told the American-Statesman that the players met the alleged victim, a woman, on Sixth Street the night of June 20 and that the incident occurred in  Meander’s room inside the San Jacinto dorm on the UT campus.

KVUE News confirmed the charges:

Sanders' agent, Brian Roark, provided a statement, via Davis and Plohetski:

"It’s a shame that a mere allegation can [a]ffect [sic] a young man’s life to the extent this will,” said Roark. “He is innocent though and eventually, that will be proven."

Meanders' attorney has not been reached at this time.   

Police records show an assault was then reported shortly before 4 a.m., which led to an investigation and the charges. UT Police released the following statement: "All three individuals involved knew each other, and the two suspects have been cooperating with the investigation."

Administrators within the Texas athletic department are aware of the incident but have not made any comments on the matter. Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong said any players charged would be suspended, according to the American-Statesman.    

Sanders ranked third on the team in catches and receiving yards last season, hauling in 37 balls for 361 yards and one touchdown. He was expected to move into a larger role this season with Mike Davis having moved on to the NFL.

Meander, who was a 3-star recruit in the class of 2013 per 247Sports' composite rankings, was a redshirt freshman last season.

More information about the incident and the players' status with the Longhorns will be provided as it's made available.

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Why Bob Stoops-Nick Saban Rivalry Is What the College Football Playoff Needs

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops is angry, and he's not going to take it anymore.

On the heels of the 14 SEC head coaches going through ESPN's "Car Wash" at its corporate headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, Stoops and the rest of the Big 12's head coaches made the rounds at the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

In the process, Stoops took several shots at Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

When asked what he thought of Saban calling the 2014 Sugar Bowl between the Sooners and Tide as a "consolation game," Stoops fired back.

"They didn't look like it was a consolation game on that first drive when they scored a touchdown and everyone thought they were going to rout us," Stoops told ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy. "I've been in plenty of those [non-national title games]. We've played in a bunch of national championship games, right? ... That's a good one.

"So that means I've got a built-in excuse the next time we don't play for a national championship?"

Good for Stoops for calling Saban out on his excuse, because that's exactly what it is.

What did you expect Stoops to do? Sit around and let one of his peers diminish the accomplishment of his team? Of course not. He fought back after one took shots at the Sooners.

Make no mistake, that's exactly what they were—shots.

By calling it a consolation game and talking about complacency—which is a narrative Saban has been selling all offseason, according to Mike Herndon of AL.com—Saban is essentially saying that Oklahoma didn't beat Alabama. Alabama beat Alabama.

That's simply wrong. Oklahoma whipped Alabama, thoroughly and decisively.

Stoops mentioned that he didn't detect any drop-off in effort from Alabama during the first drive of the game—a four-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run.

That was the case for the entire game, even early. After quarterback AJ McCarron threw a pick on the second drive, the Tide marched 65 yards for a field goal and then 80 for a touchdown to close out the first quarter. They racked up a whopping 516 total yards and averaged 7.94 yards per play.

Complacency didn't seem to be an issue for the offense, did it?

The Tide's defense was out-schemed by the Sooners, as quarterback Trevor Knight broke out and led his team to 31 first-half points. He's a young player who got better during bowl practice, which has nothing to do with Alabama's complacency or the Crimson Tide at all.

Alabama fought, and lost. That happens, even to talented teams like Alabama.

Now the stage is set for what could become a budding rivalry in the age of the College Football Playoff. 

Alabama is going to be a popular pick to make the inaugural four-team postseason, and Bleacher Report colleague Michael Felder and I both picked Oklahoma to make the field in our midsummer playoff video:

Stoops never has an issue stating his mind.

He notoriously called out the SEC last offseason, and then backed it up when he got the chance in New Orleans. In a day and age of increased coachspeak and a dwindling number of characters like LSU's Les Miles and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, we need to embrace the ones who are willing to step forward.

Stoops didn't back down at ESPN. In fact, he seemed eager to speak his mind.

A nice way to break in the new postseason format would be to welcome this rivalry and its war of words between coaches.

Can you imagine the tension leading up to an Alabama vs. Oklahoma national semifinal in, just for tradition's sake, the Sugar Bowl? That'd be tremendous for the event and the sport.

The age of big money and conference realignment has erased some of the traditions and rivalries that made college football great. While Texas vs. Texas A&M and other big-time rivalry games remain off the schedule, for now, let's embrace the potential for new rivalries when they present themselves.

Saban and Stoops just put the Alabama vs. Oklahoma rivalry on a tee for the college football world, and if it materializes in the inaugural College Football Playoff, it'd be a home run for the sport.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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Georgia Football: Previewing 3 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

There are certainly questions surrounding the 2014 Georgia Bulldogs, but very few have to do with the depth chart. 

On the offensive side of the ball, coordinator Mike Bobo will rely on a fifth-year quarterback (Hutson Mason) and a host of returning talent in the backfield and lined up as receivers.  Defensively, the Dawgs front seven acquitted itself fairly well in 2013, and most of the key components from that unit (and its backups) will be back under new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

There are still, however, a few unsettled rotations.  Here's a closer look at the Dawgs' three biggest position battles heading into fall camp.

 

Cornerback

There's a few things Georgia fans already know about Jeremy Pruitt.  He's been a part of each of the last three national championship teams.  He wants to simplify the defense and educate players fundamentally, according to Jon Cooper of Saturday Down South.  And he wants competition. 

In his opening press conference, Pruitt had the following to say, per GeorgiaDogs.com:

There's one thing about football coaches. Everybody may not agree with who we always play and all of that, but I think we always try to play the best players. We'll do that, and we'll give everybody an opportunity. I think competition is great. I think it's great, so we'll try to figure that out. The thing about it is that the guys who are the best in the spring aren't always the best in the fall, so it's who can do it over time. We've never arrived.

With that in mind, it's no surprise that the cornerback positions are very much open—especially given recent personnel departures. 

Shaq Wiggins, who started several games last season as a true freshman, has transferred to Louisville.  Brenden Langley, who was also a true freshman in 2013 and started the team's first four games, has moved to receiver.

Senior Damian Swann, a starter of 27 consecutive games, is back and is likely to hold down one starting position, but that leaves room for someone else to step up. 

Sheldon Dawson and Devin Bowman (both juniors) are the most experienced returning cornerbacks with 47 combined game appearances, but both were beat out by true freshmen last season.  Aaron Davis started the spring game as a walk-on redshirt freshman in April, and former running back J.J. Green is also in the mix.

Ultimately, Green seems like the most likely candidate to lock down the other full-time spot, given his truly elite athleticism.  If that comes to fruition, then look for Dawson, Bowman, Davis and JUCO transfer Shattle Fenteng to compete for the nickel spot on passing downs.  Obviously, the hope is that all of these players develop into capable assets in the secondary.

 

Safety

The safety position is equally convoluted.  Corey Moore, a senior who's the most experienced returning player in the position group, seems to have the inside track to a starting spot now that Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews have both been dismissed.  But that's far from a guarantee.

Also in the mix is Quincy Mauger (a starter of seven games a freshman in 2013) and two defensive backs coming off of injury-induced redshirt seasons, Reggie Wilkerson and Tramel Terry. 

Incoming freshman Dominick Sanders is also in position to compete for meaningful playing time, according to several Georgia veterans.  Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald reported last week that both Todd Gurley and Ramik Wilson mentioned Sanders as a top newcomer.

"He covers ground quick," Wilson told Weiszer.  "He goes up and makes turnovers and that's what we need.  He's going to push for somebody's spot."

To further confound things, J.J. Green (a projected starter at the nickel cornerback position) was listed as the starter at strong safety on Georgia's depth chart in the 2014 media guide, according to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This is Corey Moore's year, and he'll likely get the lion's share of reps at one of the safety positions thanks to his experience.  That being said, look for all of his younger counterparts to also contribute this season.  This unit is actually much more talented than it gets credit for.

 

Offensive Line

There aren't a lot of question marks on Mike Bobo's depth chart, but the offensive line unit may still be under construction.

John Theus, a junior, will occupy the left tackle position, where he's been an off-and-on starter since his freshman campaign.  David Andrews will hold down the center position, where he's started every game over the past two seasons.  Kolton Houston, who made his debut last season after a long battle with the NCAA over a banned substance, will be back at right tackle.

The guard positions, however, remain up for grabs.  Coming out of spring practice, Greg Pyke and Brandon Kublanow had the inside track for the starting spots, but with so much surrounding depth and experience, that could change. 

Watts Dantzler, a senior, has appeared in 22 games and could challenge for either guard spot or back up either tackle position.  Look for him to make a push in his final collegiate season.  Mark Beard, who started two games back in 2012, could also compete for significant playing time.

Ultimately, the primary starting unit will likely feature Pyke and Kublanow, but if for some reason the starting five has an issue developing cohesion and chemistry, don't be surprised to see Beard or Dantzler sneak in.

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Best and Worst Case 2014 Scenarios for Every ACC Football Team

Everyone is undefeated in July.  Then again, everyone is winless as well.  

Every team in the ACC has the potential to go 14-0 or 0-12 this year, so before the Florida State Seminoles can object, here's a look at the realistic best and worst-case scenarios for each squad.

The conference should deeper than it has been in years, especially with the addition of Louisville.  That means every win will have to be earned if the likes of Wake Forest or Virginia hope to sneak into bowl games or Florida State or Clemson wish to contend for a national title. 

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Pac-12 Media Days 2014: Day 2 Schedule, Live Stream, TV Info and Participants

After an eventful opening round of Pac-12 media days, the action will continue on Day 2 in Los Angeles.

Wednesday's interviews included commissioner Larry Scott as well as coaches and players from Arizona, California, USC, Oregon, Washington State and Utah. Scott started the day off by explaining why everyone should be excited for the upcoming year of football:

The rest of the head coaches each made their case for being title contenders, although there is a long time before that is decided.

Meanwhile, the other half of the conference will get its chance in the spotlight on Thursday as Colorado, Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington and Stanford take part in the media sessions.

Here is a breakdown of the schedule with what fans should be most looking forward to on Day 2.

 

When: Thursday, July 24

Where: Paramount Studios, Los Angeles, California

TV: Pac-12 Network

Live Stream:Pac-12 Networks Live

Mobile:Pac-12 Now

 

Top Participants to Watch

Chris Petersen, Head Coach, Washington

Over the last few years, it seemed like Chris Petersen could have taken any major job in the country. However, he remained loyal to Boise State after building the program into a national power.

This is why it was so interesting that the coach decided to leave this offseason to go to Washington. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports explained part of the reason he chose the Huskies compared to some bigger schools:

While the Washington job might not come with the pressure of Texas or Alabama, he will certainly receive more attention in the Pac-12 than he did at Boise State. This will begin at the media day, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the spotlight.

The good news is that few are questioning his ability to coach. Bryan Fischer of NFL.com lists him as the second best in the nation behind only Nick Saban. Even former coach Steve Sarkisian thought this was a great hire for the school:

Petersen might need a few years to truly get the most out of his team, but he appears to be the right man for the job.

 

Kevin Hogan, Quarterback, Stanford

Although Kevin Hogan's name does not always come up when thinking about the best quarterbacks in the country, he has been one of the most successful.

ESPN Stats and Info breaks down how he has been able to beat good teams throughout his career:

He has shown his ability to be a leader, even when he is not asked to produce on the field. In the upset win over Oregon last season, he only threw 13 passes but still came through when needed.

Things will not be as easy this time around. With Tyler Gaffney gone, Stanford will be forced to throw the ball more, and that means Hogan will have to be more productive through the air.

The good news is ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. considers the quarterback to be one of the most talented in the country at the position:

If Hogan can use his natural dual-threat ability, he can become a true star for the Cardinal.

 

Brett Hundley, Quarterback, UCLA

As one of the most talented quarterbacks in the nation, Brett Hundley is on many lists as a potential Heisman favorite, as pointed out by Max Meyer of USA Today:

The UCLA passer had fewer yards and touchdowns in 2013 than the year before, but he greatly improved his efficiency. Hundley doubled his rushing yards on the same number of attempts and ranked fourth in the nation in adjusted QBR.

He had a chance to go to the NFL after last year but decided to wait on the draft and return to school. This was apparently the right decision for Hundley, as he explained to ESPN's Ivan Maisel:

I'm so happy I made the decision to come back. I really am. Just to get another year to grow with this team, and to grow as a quarterback, it's a special thing. And college is a special thing. It's not something you should rush past.

However, he now has to make sure he takes the necessary steps to improve. His squad is already expected to win the Pac-12 South, according to the recent media poll. Hundley can help the team get to this level if he avoids mistakes and continues to play at his ability.

Of course, he can also take a step toward Heisman contention by promoting himself at media day.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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