NCAA Football News

Cardale Jones Has the Skill Set to Succeed Against Alabama

Just two short weeks ago, Cardale Jones was a second-string quarterback who was known more for his social-media blunders than his play on the football field. 

But when J.T. Barrett's season-ending ankle injury thrust him into the spotlight, the backup proved that he had more to offer with an all-time performance in the Big Ten title game.

Jones was brilliant in Ohio State's 59-0 thrashing of Wisconsin last Saturday, completing 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns (with no interceptions). Despite making his first career start, he helped the Buckeyes pile up 558 total yards against the Badgers' second-ranked defense—earning title-game MVP honors along the way.  

He also showcased a skill set that could give Alabama problems when the two teams meet on New Year's Day.

The Tide are strong defensively (they rank 11th in total defense), but they've been mediocre against the pass, allowing opposing teams to throw for an average of 223.7 yards per game. That ranks 58th nationally—behind eight teams Ohio State has already faced this season.

Those are surprising numbers. With Nick Saban at the helm, Alabama's pass defense has been consistently great, but it's cracking this season. The Tide have struggled in their last three SEC matchups, surrendering an average of 339.3 passing yards to Mississippi State, Auburn and Missouri. 

It was Nick Marshall and the Tigers, though, that did the most damage. In the highly anticipated Iron Bowl, Auburn torched Alabama for a school-record 456 passing yards. Receiver Sammie Coates consistently got behind the the Tide secondary, hauling in five catches for an incredible 205 yards and two touchdowns—averaging 41.2 yards per reception.

The Tide went on to win that game 55-44, but Saban credited the poor secondary play to technical issues—vowing to fix it before their matchup against Missouri in the SEC title game, according to Duane Rankin of The Montgomery Advertiser.

Whether it was eye control, not maintaining position on the receiver, not keeping a guy cut off, not playing the right leverage on the guy when you have help. I think these things are technical in nature, and obviously we want to execute a little better than that. That's how we correct things in the film, and that's what we'll do.

But they didn't correct the issue. Alabama routed Missouri 42-13, but Tigers receiver Jimmie Hunt torched the Tide for 169 yards on six receptions. 

The Tide's defensive woes are the result of uneven cornerback play. Rotating in and out all season, Bradley Sylve and Tony Brown have failed to settle in, and the Alabama defense has suffered because of it. 

That's the weakness Jones and the Buckeyes could exploit. 

Against Wisconsin last Saturday, Jones showed the arm strength and the accuracy to burn a defense deep. All three of his touchdown passes went for 39 yards or longer, complementing Ohio State's quick-strike offense perfectly. 

The Buckeyes would be smart to attack Alabama's defense the same way. With a quarterback who can throw the ball 75 yards with a flick of his wrist and a deep-threat receiver like Devin Smith—who has averaged 39.1 yards on his 29 career touchdown receptions—Ohio State is strong where Alabama is weak. 

Jones' mobility will also be a huge benefit. While no one will confuse the 6'5", 250-pound signal-caller for Braxton Miller or even Barrett, Jones has the athleticism to extend a play and either get the ball upfield or roll out to find a receiver. 

Quarterbacks with that skill set, along with teams that run an uptempo offense, have given the Tide fits over the years. Oklahoma and Auburn out-paced the Tide in victories a season ago. Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M did the same in 2012.

Can the Buckeyes repeat that success in their semifinal matchup against Alabama? That possibility certainly exists, especially if Saban and the Tide secondary fail to correct their past mistakes.

 

All stats via NCAA.com and B/R research.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Why Nobody Wants the Michigan Head Coaching Job

One of the most prestigious coaching positions in all of sports remains open, as the Michigan Wolverines have yet to name a new head coach for their football program. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer debate why the vacancy has yet to be filled. 

Who should be the next head coach at Michigan?

Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Notre Dame Will Be a Playoff Contender in 2015

Notre Dame has quite a bit of quality talent coming back next season. The expectations will be high, but that is something that goes along with playing for the Fighting Irish.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss what Notre Dame can accomplish next season. 

How will the Fighting Irish fare next year?

Watch the video, and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Best Bets for 2014-15 College Football Bowl Season

Bowl season is Handicapping Christmas.

According to Mike Pickett of of Odds Shark, it is right up there with the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby in terms of becoming a "must-bet" event each year.

Last year I swung and missed with my 10 Best Bets of bowl season, giving out three winners and seven losers. And I have spent the past 12 months with my tail between my legs. It was ugly. I know.

I'm sorry.

Fortunately, I come into this bowl season on a hot streak, ready to atone for my mistakes. I went 31-13 against the spread in the last three weeks of the season, as documented here, here and here. And that was when I was forced to pick every Top 25 game.

During bowl season, I am allowed to parse the board for value wherever I can find it. Big game, small game—it doesn't matter. And while I can't guarantee the 70-percent clip I have been on the past three weeks, I can call my shot and hope for at least going 6-4.

Anything over 57 percent would be a Handicapping Christmas miracle!

 

All odds courtesy of Odds Shark unless otherwise noted.

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Wisconsin Football: How Badgers Will Replace Melvin Gordon in 2015

After a season that could end up being the most productive in FBS history, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon officially put his name into the 2015 NFL Draft on Tuesday.

This seemed like a foregone conclusion for the 6'1", 213-pound Heisman Trophy finalist. He's rushed for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns in his junior season and (briefly) held the FBS single-game rushing record when he ran for 408 yards against Nebraska on Nov. 15.

He needs 293 yards in Wisconsin's bowl game, which takes place Jan. 1 against Auburn in the Outback Bowl, to surpass Barry Sanders' record of 2,628 yards.

Now that the Badgers know for certain they won't have Gordon in the backfield in 2015, it's time to look at exactly how they'll manage without such a prolific rusher. Look at Wisconsin's overall rushing numbers, though, and it won't be as difficult as you'd think.

Wisconsin ranks fourth in the FBS in rushing offense, with 314 yards per game. Gordon was responsible for 179.7 of those, or 57.2 percent of the overall output, but he was by far the only rushing option.

Sophomore Corey Clement looks to be the main beneficiary of Gordon's departure, and his production over his first two years bodes well for the 5'11", 210-pound running back to be able to step nicely into the featured role.

He ran for 844 yards and nine touchdowns on just 132 carries this season—an average of 6.4 yards per carry.

Gordon commented on Clement back in August, per Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

He can do it all. ... He is really, really, really aggressive. When he hits the hole, he is so low that you can barely tackle him. You really have to get your pads low when you play against him. He is fast, too. He has a burst, quick feet. He definitely brings a different element to the game.

Clement had three 100-yard rushing games this season, despite being the backup. That comes after a freshman campaign in 2013 in which he averaged 8.2 yards per carry and scored seven rushing TDs despite only running it 67 times.

Wisconsin also has a pair of freshman runners, Taiwan Deal and Caleb Kinlaw, who redshirted this season. Both were rated as 3-star prospects in the 2014 recruiting class by 247Sports.

Whoever is carrying the ball will be working behind a revamped offensive line, as Wisconsin is set to graduate three starters with a combined 95 starts.

Junior guard Ray Ball, who has appeared in 30 games over his career, figures to slide into openings in either the left or right spot. The other guard spot and right tackle Rob Havenstein figure to be replaced by young backups Trent Denlinger and Hayden Biegel.

Left tackle Tyler Marz should be back for his senior year, bringing with him 37 starts, along with center Dan Voltz, who has started 24 games over the past two seasons.

The key to replacing Gordon's production, though, lies in the direction Wisconsin goes at quarterback.

Juniors Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy split time at the position this season, with the pro-style Stave missing the first four games with an injury before taking the bulk of the snaps over the final nine games.

He struggled, though, completing only 53.6 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

McEvoy, a run-first quarterback, was third on the team in rushing with 574 yards and six TDs and an 8.8 yards-per-carry average.

Also expected to be in the mix: redshirting freshman D.J. Gillins, a 4-star recruit who was rated as the seventh-best dual-threat passer in the country last year.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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5 Bold Predictions on How College Football Playoff Will Impact Recruiting

The much-anticipated first edition of the College Football Playoff is finally a reality, and its impact is bound to spread to the recruiting trail between now and national signing day.

Alabama and Florida State—two perennial recruiting powers—made the playoff, and the schools occupy the top two spots in 247Sports' team rankings.

Meanwhile, Oregon and Ohio State are hoping to break through and end the streak of the last five national titles coming from either the state of Alabama or Florida.

What are some potential ripple effects of the upcoming College Football Playoff on the recruiting trail?

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Watch Young Baller Escape an Entire Herd of Defenders on Crazy Touchdown

The term "carrying a team on your shoulders" is a cliche often used in sports. Huntington High School player Sam Bergman took that term literally when he carried an entire defense on his shoulders en route to a wild touchdown. 

Was this the best run of the 2014 season? 

Check out the video and let us know!

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Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer: Who's the Better 'Big-Game' Coach?

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are two of the most successful coaches in the last 10 years. The two coaches have five national championships between them, and they'll square off one more time in the Sugar Bowl.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee debate who they would rather have in big games. 

Who would you rather have coaching your team?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Melvin Gordon to Declare for 2015 NFL Draft: Latest Details and Reaction

Melvin Gordon is going to capitalize on his incredible junior season.

The Wisconsin Badgers running back confirmed Wednesday on The Dan Patrick Show he will declare for the 2015 NFL draft following the season.    

The show's producer, Paul Pabst, shared the exchange on Twitter:

Gordon leads the nation this season in both rushing yards (2,336) and rushing touchdowns (26). He broke Larry Johnson's record for fewest carries before hitting 2,000, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Gordon also set the FBS record for rushing yards in a game, going for 408 against Nebraska on Nov. 15 in only three quarters. His mark lasted all of a week, with Oklahoma's Samaje Perine running for 427 yards against Kansas.

The numbers are even more impressive when you consider how ineffective Wisconsin's passing game was all season. Despite teams loading the box to try to stop him, Gordon still managed to be arguably the best running back in college football.

Being the best college ball-carrier isn't necessarily a guarantee of success in the NFL, however. For every Adrian Peterson, Ricky Williams and Mark Ingram, there's a Trent Richardson, Ron Dayne and Darren McFadden.

CBSSports.com and ESPN.com (subscription required) both list Gordon as the top running back in the 2015 draft class. Bleacher Report's NFL draft analyst Matt Miller was a little more hesitant to put Gordon at the top of the draft board.

Miller provided a more detailed analysis of Gordon following the player's historic night against Nebraska. He praised Gordon's vision and ability to break through the first wave of attackers but believes Gordon lacks the acceleration to break away from defenders and could be propped up by a historically strong program when it comes to running the football.

NFL general managers are coming to value running backs less and less when it comes to the draft. LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Andre Ellington and DeMarco Murray all went in the second round or later.

Even if Gordon is viewed as the top running back in 2015, he may not come off the board until at least the second round.

But the Wisconsin star will have plenty of time in the coming months to prove that he's worth a first-round selection. His next stop is the Outback Bowl against Auburn on New Year's Day.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Marian Knights, the College Football Powerhouse You've Never Heard of

The stakes had never been higher for Mike Josifovski in December of 2012. After forcing overtime with a 35-yard field goal, all Josifovski had to do in overtime was kick a 26-yard field goal to give the Marian Knights their first NAIA national championship in just the sixth year of existence for the program.

Josifovski drilled the game-winning field goal, causing an eruption of celebration from the Marian sideline. Now, in 2014, the Knights have a chance to bring glory to Marian once again.

Located just west of Indianapolis, Indiana, Marian University’s football program is currently in only its eighth season, beginning in 2007 with a group of players that had never played together. Since then, the team has continued to grow into one of the NAIA’s most successful programs, winning the 2012 national championship along with multiple MSFA Mideast League titles.

Since winning the national title, more and more local players have begun to flock to Marian, while players who have been with the team since 2012 have consistently been motivated to bring their school a second one.

“It took a lot of hard work and a whole season of preparation [in 2012], but that’s really what brings people to Marian,” said Alex Wetmore, a junior defensive lineman who was on the national championship team as a freshman.

“We like to consider ourselves a small school with big-time football, and it’s really a process-over-product mentality. If we continue to buy into the process, we know we can get there again.”

Ted Karras Jr. initially took over as head coach for the Knights, and it didn’t take long for the program to start making some noise in the NAIA. In six seasons, Karras led the Knights to a 48-23 record along with the 2012 national title and three straight NAIA Football Championship Series appearances before leaving after the 2012 season.

Now head coach Mark Henninger has taken over and preached for his players to buy into the process since joining the team before the 2013-14 season, and it’s finally starting to show. After just a 6-5 season under Henninger last year and a 2-2 start this season, the Knights have hit their stride, putting together nine straight wins to take them to their second NAIA National Championship appearance in just three seasons.

“It was frustrating early on because you could see the talent and drive to be successful, but mentally we weren’t there yet,” Henninger said. “I think we still have a long way to go, but we’ve made strides this season where we’re playing smarter football and letting the talent reach its full potential.”

Defense has been one of the main reasons for Marian’s success this season, leading the nation with just 66.3 rushing yards allowed per game. Led by a stingy front seven, the defense has made scoring on it an almost impossible task every week, ranking No. 6 in the nation with just 17.6 points allowed per game.

Defensive line coach Brock Caraboa has been with the Knights since their first game, registering the first ever tackle in Marian football history. Caraboa is considered one of the best linebackers in school history, earning NAIA All-American honors in 2010, and he’s brought a winning mentality to the defense.

“I don’t want anybody rushing on us, because that’s our team philosophy,” Caraboa said. “I think we’ve been so successful as a defense because everyone is doing their job and playing unselfish. When teams don’t stay in their gaps, that’s when you’ll see teams giving up 100 or 150 yards on the ground.”

Caraboa and the rest of the defensive coaching staff provide an excellent learning environment whenever their players are studying film. Rather than lecture the defensive linemen for an hour, Caraboa encourages players to be involved in the discussion, opening the floor to any questions throughout the session.

But that doesn’t mean that Caraboa is soft on his players. One of his biggest fears is that his players are content with being average, telling them what they aren’t doing well enough and encouraging them to be dominant. Each film session, Caraboa names a “shark” and a “seal,” praising one player for his effort while letting another know that he must do better.

“You never want to be a seal,” Wetmore said. “Players will do whatever it takes to be sharks, because they’ll dominate seals once they smell blood in the water.”

On offense, the Knights are led by senior running back Tevin Lake, the 2014 MSFA Mideast League Player of the Year. Lake has been the team’s workhorse running back since he was a freshman, running for over 5,000 yards and 60 touchdowns over his career, holding school records in both categories.

Lake’s best season came in 2012, running for 1,594 yards and 18 touchdowns on just 307 carries. While players out of the NAIA very rarely get chances to play in the NFL, Lake has started to attract at least some attention from pro scouts.

Still, like every player on the team, Lake isn’t focused on the future.

“I feel there’s a possible chance, but that’s not my priority right now,” Lake said about possibly getting a chance at the NFL. “I’m more focused on getting my degree and leading my team to Daytona and winning the national championship.”

Players at Marian are unlike most you’ll find in Division I football. Individual aspirations are replaced with team goals, while players who aren’t getting playing time are more concerned with their team winning than getting on the field.

The Knights are an example of football in its purest form. Off-field investigations and national spotlights are replaced by young men who want nothing more than to play the game they love and bring their school a second national title.

“This season has definitely been one I’ll never forget,” Lake said. “The chemistry and mentality of this team reminds me so much of 2012 because it feels like a family again, and collectively we are a stronger and more mentally tough team than a year ago.”

At Marian, players aren’t just teammates, they’re family. Players coach each other just as much as the coaches do, understanding that a team is only as strong as its weakest player.

You won’t normally see the Knights on ESPN, although they’ll be playing on ESPNU against Southern Oregon on Friday, December 19 at 3 p.m. ET. But if you’re looking for a college powerhouse that plays football the right way, you’ll have a hard time finding a place better than Marian.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Where OSU, UGA, Virginia Tech and Oregon Turn After Missing on 5-Star Josh Sweat

Judgement day arrived Wednesday for coveted 2015 recruit Josh Sweat. After considering five finalists, the 5-star defensive end decided his ideal destination is defending national champion Florida State:

Sweat, a 6'5", 240-pound senior at Oscar Smith High School in Virginia, rose to the No. 1 overall spot in 247Sports' composite rankings this summer. A season-ending knee injury derailed his senior campaign in September and dropped him to No. 6 overall on that list, though he remains the top-rated prospect at his position.

The Seminoles land a freakish talent who rivals any athlete in this recruiting cycle. Sweat secured 22 sacks in 2013, sprinted the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds in July at The Opening and also served as a dangerous downfield weapon in the Oscar Smith offense.

He chose Florida State over fellow finalists Oregon, Georgia, Ohio State and Virginia Tech.

"As far as all of them go, I love all of the coaching staffs and I feel comfortable with them, some more than others," Sweat told Evan Watkins of 247Sports before his announcement. "The biggest thing for me is being comfortable. I am going to be living there for the next three or four years so that is the biggest factor."

Apparently, Tallahassee offered more comfort than the other potential landing spots.

Now that we know where the dominant defender is headed, let's examine how his decision affects the programs that came up short in the pursuit of Sweat.

 

Georgia

The Bulldogs are in better shape than any other team on this list in terms of incoming talent along the defensive front. Mark Richt has already secured commitments from 4-star defensive ends Chauncey Rivers, Michael Barnett, Natrez Patrick and Jonathan Ledbetter, who flipped from Alabama this summer.

Trent Thompson, the country's top-rated defensive tackle, anchors a Georgia class jockeying for position with Florida State behind Alabama in the national rankings. He understood the kind of difference Sweat could have made.

"If we both become great players in college, teams would always be trying to figure out how to handle us in the trenches," he told Bleacher Report earlier this week. "But when we're lined up together, they can't double-team both of us. They can't block both of us."

However, he also understood the depth already in place in Athens.

"Between the veterans we have returning next year and the young guys like me coming in, we're going to have a lot of great players to work with," Thompson said. "Our defensive line should be special with people filling different roles. We can be an important part of a championship team."

Bulldogs fans can take solace in that sentiment. Plus, 4-star South Carolina defensive lineman Albert Huggins is expected to decide between Clemson and Georgia this Friday.

 

Ohio State

It would have been thrilling to see Sweat pair up with Joey Bosa, the 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, but Urban Meyer isn't exactly lacking talent at defensive end in this class. He landed 4-star Minnesota product Jashon Cornell in July.

Running back appears to be the position of most importance for the Buckeyes at this point, but targets remain on the defensive line.

The team has kept tabs on 5-star Illinois standout Terry Beckner, and versatile Utah phenom Porter Gustin told Bleacher Report earlier this week that he plans to visit Columbus before signing day.

"Ohio State is a place I'd really like to check out," said Gustin, one of six finalists for the U.S. Army All-American Player of the Year Award. "It's a program and school that has a lot to offer."

 

Oregon

"Moral victories" are typically reserved for on-field action in football, but it may be appropriate to apply that term to how things progressed for Oregon in the Sweat sweepstakes.

The Ducks secured a last-second official visit, which put the program in position to deliver an on-campus sales pitch. That opportunity seemed improbable earlier this season, especially after knee surgery limited Sweat's ability to travel comfortably.

Oregon continues to assert itself on the national stage after the successful Chip Kelly era and can further prove its prowess in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

The Ducks showed that their on-field success is seeping into their recruiting efforts by staying in this chase until the end. Oregon already holds a commitment from 4-star Hawaii defensive end Canton Kaumatule, a 6'7", 290-pound stud, and is in the mix for 5-star defensive linemen Terry Beckner and Rasheem Green.

 

Virginia Tech

Sweat's decision to become a Seminole stings in Blacksburg more than anywhere else. The Hokies, just 21-17 since 2012, viewed the Virginia native as a crown jewel for in-state recruiting purposes.

Last February, Virginia Tech failed to sign 5-star in-state defenders Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown, who played alongside Sweat at Oscar Smith. Both players landed at ACC rival Virginia.

Now, the Hokies must face the reality that Sweat's next trip to Lane Stadium will take place on the visitor sidelines. Instead of rejuvenating Virginia Tech, he'll make the team's road back to conference glory more difficult.

The team still hasn't signed a top-10 in-state recruit during this cycle. Virginia Tech can change momentum by signing Ricky DeBerry (linebacker) or Tim Settle (defensive tackle), but the dream of landing Sweat is over.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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5 Florida Players Who Must Impress Jim McElwain This Bowl Season

New Florida head coach Jim McElwain won't coach the bowl game, but he will be watching closely at which players step up against East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.

A new head coach means a clean slate for Gators players who have struggled or been buried on the depth chart this season.

Which Florida players need to make a statement against the Pirates and impress their new head coach?

Our top five are in this slideshow.

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Michigan Football: What Do Wolverines Need in Their Next Head Coach?

In the week since Brady Hoke was fired, both Florida and Nebraska have filled coaching vacancies. Meanwhile, in Ann Arbor the top football job remains vacant as Michigan conducts its third coaching search since the 2007 retirement of Lloyd Carr.

It’s not yet evident that Michigan has learned anything from its previous searches. History seems to be repeating itself.

Once again an athletic director from the commercial sector is conducting a search that’s moving at an orderly, unhurried pace oblivious to damage caused by leaving the position empty.

”The interest has blown me away,” interim athletic director Jim Hackett told Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press on the search's procession.

Fans hope that the search is completed soon and that Hackett finds a coach who doesn't repeat the mistakes of the last two.

Here are factors he can consider when evaluating candidates.

 

Recruiting and Player Development

The lifeblood of any college football program is the ability to bring in new players. College teams fight a constant battle of attrition with graduation and injuries since position depth is a perpetual concern. The best coaches have a talent for identifying players who haven’t yet reached their full potential.

An incoming coach either needs a robust recruiting network and familiarity with high school coaches in talent-rich areas or a big enough reputation to have instant credibility.

Hoke and his staff were fairly skilled at attracting top recruits but failed at developing that talent. The quarterback position is the most obvious example of this failure. Not only did Devin Gardner regress during his career, but backups at the position (Shane Morris and Russell Bellomy) were unprepared to take over when presented with the opportunity.

Contrast this with an Ohio State team that lost quarterback Braxton Miller prior to the season, reloaded with J.T. Barrett and then hardly missed a beat with Cardale Jones against Wisconsin.

 

Coaching Network

The ideal candidate will have a history of hiring and developing assistant coaches. Players spend most of their time working with their position coaches and strength staff. These coaches have a major impact on the success or failure of a coaching regime.

The top college coaches have the ability to identify and hire talented assistants who constantly push the program to improve. These assistants also need to be skilled at developing and motivating players.

Hoke seemed to strike gold at first, luring Greg Mattison from the NFL to be his defensive coordinator, but problems later emerged on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coordinators Al Borges and Doug Nussmeier were unable to establish a consistent identity for the team’s attack.

A potential coach from the NFL ranks will need to evaluate if his assistants can be successful at the college level, where players need more direct development.

 

Game Management

This should be a given, but unfortunately it wasn't under Brady Hoke. Michigan struggled with mismanaged timeouts and questionable play-calling.

The focal point of this criticism was his decision to not wear a headset during games. When Michigan went 11-2 in Hoke’s first season, his stance on headsets was quirky. But as the team began spiraling down, his stubbornness became an issue.

In the 2013 season opener, Michigan came out in its hurry-up or “NASCAR” offense against lowly Central Michigan. Hoke was genuinely surprised by the tactic but wouldn’t have been if he had been on the headset.

Another example was the 2014 concussion injury to quarterback Shane Morris. Morris was obviously staggering after the play. His distress was evident to observers in the press box and to broadcasters. Hoke could have been notified of the problem if he had been wearing a headset.

Michigan’s next head coach needs to be responsible and involved in monitoring every aspect of the team’s play.

 

Public Relations

Michigan is a major football program that garners a huge amount of national attention. Every word the head coach utters is reported and parsed by fans and media alike. Both Hoke and Rich Rodriguez before him failed on this count.

Rodriguez failed to court Michigan fans by acknowledging the program's rich history, while Hoke relied on it too much. Both frustrated fans by not showing enough fire after losses. Rodriguez appeared distraught, while Hoke spoke in a flat monotone, relying on the same cliches as the losses piled up.

The next coach would do well to show some emotion after both wins and losses.

 

Other Considerations

Interested candidates are great, but the longer the search goes on the perception grows that the effort is foundering.

How does Jim Hackett’s interim status impact the search? Any top coaching candidate will want to know who his boss will be. If Hackett wants the job full-time, he could help matters by declaring his interest.

What about being a “Michigan Man”? Any organization would prefer a candidate who is familiar with its own particular culture.

Rodriguez was oblivious to the toes he was stepping on, but his ultimate undoing was not fielding a competent defense. Hoke was steeped in Michigan culture but was undone by a complete systems failure on offense.

In both cases the “Michigan Man” myth was a sideshow to problems on the field.

Any coaching candidate would be wise to tip his hat to Michigan tradition, but previous ties to the program shouldn’t be a determining factor for the next hire.

If the next coach can get the program back on track, he'll make himself part of the tradition. Lose, and quoting Bo Schembechler will not save you.

Brady Hoke is proof of that.



Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations obtained firsthand.

Follow
@PCallihan

All season statistics from mgoblue.com, official University of Michigan athletic department web site

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Gary Patterson Wins 2014 Home Depot Coach of the Year Award

Gary Patterson's TCU Horned Frogs were left out of the College Football Playoff, but the top-notch head coach was honored with a prestigious award Wednesday.

According to Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday, the 54-year-old native of Rozel, Kansas, has been named the Home Depot Coach of the Year:

Patterson led the Horned Frogs to a 11-1 record, which was good enough to make them co-Big 12 champions along with Baylor. TCU's one loss was a 61-58 defeat at the hands of the Bears, though, which was ultimately the reason why it finished the regular season No. 6 in the CFP poll.

While Patterson was obviously disappointed the Frogs were on the outside looking in of the Top Four, he was praised by many, including Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, for the manner in which he handled the situation:

No individual award will take away the sting of missing out on an opportunity to play for the national title, but Patterson is receiving some well-deserved recognition.

Per TCU football's Twitter account, he was also named the Big 12 Coach of the Year:

According to ESPN College Football, ESPN's Brett McMurphy gathered votes from 96 FBS coaches for their coach of the year choices. Patterson received 45 percent of the vote to prove that his peers agreed with the decision:

Patterson has done some great things during his 15 seasons at TCU, but 2014 has been arguably his finest coaching job.

Even though the Horned Frogs didn't quite reach their goal, Patterson has undoubtedly established them has potential championship contenders for many years to come.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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ESPN Gives Group of Young Kids a Chance to Pick College Football Award Winner

Analysts can sometimes overthink the matchup and get wrapped up in player statistics—it's always nice to get a fresh perspective.

Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon III and Mississippi State's Dak Prescott are the finalists for the 2014 Maxwell Award, given to the best college football player in the U.S.

ESPN decided to get an unusual take on who should win the award by asking a group of kids their thoughts on the matter. The children each had their own standards and preferences, and it was very entertaining to see how they broke down each candidate.

It sounded like the kids had reached a consensus at the end, but one of the youngsters was tough to impress. 

[ESPNU, h/tUSA Today's FTW

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Nick O'Leary Wins 2014 Mackey Award: Latest Details, Analysis and Reaction

Florida State senior Nick O'Leary has won the 2014 John Mackey Award as the most outstanding tight end in college football.

The selection committee confirmed the decision:

O'Leary played a key role in the nation's 14th-ranked passing game. He's posted career-high totals in receptions (47) and receiving yards (614). He also has six touchdowns, one of his high mark with potentially two more games to play.

David Hale of ESPN notes his overall touchdown numbers rank quite favorable in ACC history:

The standout senior, who's also improved a blocker during his time with the Seminoles, helped lead the team to an unbeaten 13-0 mark. It was good enough to earn them a spot in the first College Football Playoff.

O'Leary and Florida State will return to the field on New Year's Day to face Oregon in the semifinals. That gives the tight end at least a little time to celebrate his Mackey Award triumph.

 

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Josh Sweat to Florida State: Seminoles Land 5-Star DE Prospect

One of the great prizes in the 2015 recruiting class has made Florida State very happy. Josh Sweat, a 5-star defensive end from Chesapeake, Virginia, officially announced his intentions to join the Seminoles. Oscar Smith High School, which Sweat attends, announced the news:

Ryan Barrow of 247 Sports reported how Sweat announced his decision:  

Despite playing in the heart of ACC country, Smith's recruiting took him to a number of powerhouse schools in the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12. The star defensive end's list included Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon and Texas A&M, among others. 

The wide-spread interest was not at all surprising considering 247Sports' composite rankings list Sweat as the top weak-side defensive end recruit in the country and the No. 2 overall prospect in the nation.

Adding an elite talent like Sweat gives Florida State a huge leg up on the recruiting competition for 2015. He also comes with an added bonus, as other elite recruits could decide to follow suit hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. 

Steven Lorenz of 247Sports (subscription required) said that Sweat was generating the kind of buzz rarely seen for a defensive end in this recruiting cycle. 

Sweat currently has a somewhat wide open recruitment, with programs like Florida State, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Georgia all considered legitimate threats for his services. He is currently ranked 6th overall in the country and is considered one of the top defensive end prospects of the past few recruiting cycles.

Of course, the highest-profile defensive end to come out of high school in the last five years is Jadeveon Clowney. He committed to South Carolina, becoming one of the key players in Steve Spurrier's tenure at the school and opening the Gamecocks up to new venues previously unavailable before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Comparing anyone, even a player as talented as Sweat, to Clowney is going to lead to disappointment. Few defensive linemen have as much natural ability as the former South Carolina standout. 

Sweat is certainly not lacking for ability on the field, though. He's a monster human being at 6'5", 237 pounds, and can get stronger as he adds muscle and fills out his frame. Speed is also a weapon for the young man, as he runs a 4.50 40-yard dash and can close as well as any lineman in this class. 

Having an edge-rusher with Sweat's explosiveness is vital to success in this new era of football. More and more teams are gearing up to stretch the field, so getting to the quarterback is more critical than ever. 

Giving Sweat even more value is the fact he comes off the weak side (left) of the line and can hit most quarterbacks on the blind side, allowing him easier access to force fumbles and attack the running game. 

Sweat is a special, unique talent who can make an immediate impact for his new team, so don't be surprised if he's on the field next season instead of redshirting as a freshman. 

 

All recruiting info courtesy of 247Sports

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

 

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5-Star DE Josh Sweat Commits to FSU, What Impact Will He Have in Tallahassee?

Defensive end Josh Sweat has made his decision on where he will play college football.

The 5-star recruit in the 2015 class, per 247Sports, has committed to Florida State.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder reacts to the decision and discusses Sweat's potential impact for the Seminoles.

What type of effect will the talented defensive player have for Florida State?

Check out the video and let us know!

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J.T. Barrett Involved in Alleged Domestic Dispute: Latest Details and Comments

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was reportedly involved in a domestic disturbance early Tuesday that required a police response. The redshirt freshman and his girlfriend, Alexandria Barrett-Clark, provided officers with different accounts of what occurred in his apartment.

Sean Rowe of WSYX in Columbus reports Barrett told police he asked Barrett-Clark to leave before things briefly became physical:

In the report, Barrett says a woman identified as his girlfriend—Alexandria Barrett-Clark—refused to leave his apartment after he asked her to do so. Barrett says she 'ran at him and pushed him.'

Barrett says Barrett-Clark hit him. In the report, he say he pushed her away in self-defense, which caused her to fall to a bed. Barrett says he again asked her to leave. Again, he says, she refused.

However, Barrett-Clark said she was attacked before escaping to call for help:

She told police that Barrett confronted her in his bedroom and 'choked her on the bed.' She said Barrett used his forearm to apply pressure to her neck before taking her phone away from her.

Barrett-Clark told police she managed to get away from Barrett and call police.

The police report stated neither individual had visible injuries or sought further medical attention. No arrests were made, and no charges were filed as a result. The issue has since been sent to the prosecutor's office.

Barrett was one of college football's breakout stars this season. He racked up 45 total touchdowns to help lead the Buckeyes to a 12-1 record and a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Ohio State is next slated to play on New Year's Day in a semifinal clash against Alabama.

Barrett, the second-string QB who took over after Braxton Miller was lost for the year with an injury in the preseason, was already going to be unavailable for that game due to an ankle injury suffered against Michigan. Third-string QB Cardale Jones will line up under center versus the Crimson Tide.

So far, there's no word on when the prosecutor's office will make a final decision based on the evidence.

 

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Inside the Football Factory That's Saving Kids from the Streets

Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Maryland, was founded three years ago by David Sills IV, a prominent real estate developer in nearby Delaware. While ECA might seem like your typical Christian high school, it is anything but.

Go inside a school of 52 students (all of whom are on the football team) with a completely online curriculum, no textbooks, no teachers and one of the most brutal football schedules in the nation.

Discover how lives are impacted when faith, football and education mix in a unique formula that develops young men on the field and in life. 

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