NCAA Football News

Players Who Helped or Hurt 2014 NFL Draft Stock in BCS National Championship

The Florida State Seminoles emerged victorious over the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship, but several players on both sides boosted their NFL draft stock in the process.

As Tigers running back Tre Mason had a massive game, he and his top offensive lineman will see their stock soar. FSU's elite wide receiving corps saw two players secure big performances as well.

The two biggest boosts might have come along the teams' defensive fronts, as both Dee Ford and Timmy Jernigan turned in exemplary efforts.

Click on for a breakdown of how the NFL draft stock changed hands at the Rose Bowl.

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Florida State's BCS National Championship Shirts Had Auburn Winning

Hopefully, Florida State fans that rushed to buy a BCS National Championship T-shirt on Monday night double-checked the score on the shirt before purchasing one.

The shirt that was being sold at Florida State’s Seminole Shop had Auburn winning 34-31 instead of the other way around. 

Don't fret, FSU fans—the shirt's design has since been fixed.

Thanks to Lost Lettermen for the photo. 

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Tim Tebow Proves He Has Potential as ESPN College Football Analyst

Tim Tebow made his official debut as a college football analyst for ESPN as part of its coverage of the BCS National Championship on Monday afternoon.

And as with everything else that he has ever done since his freshman year at Florida, Tebow was both heavily scrutinized and praised by different media outlets.

Was he perfect? No. Was he nervous? Clearly. But what his analysis on point? Yes, it most certainly was.

All in all, Tebow proved, if nothing else, that he knows how to break down the game of college football—was that ever in doubt?—and that he looks especially dapper in a grey suit and purple tie. Here's a quick clip via ESPN:

Dropping the word "homeostasis" obviously earns Tebow a few brownie points, but the stammering afterward shows that even he was surprised he got the word out correctly. Other than the fact that it's really not necessary—camaraderie would have worked just fine—it can throw off the audience as well.

But let's be honest, it was certainly much better than his first appearance as a member of the New York Jets:

Putting aside both the pauses to search for words and attempts to overachieve, Tebow's overall analysis was spot on. While he spent much of his first appearance talking about his time as a college football player, that won't last long.

One of the best pieces of analysis that Tebow gave before the BCS National Championship kicked off was when he said the Auburn running game would stay simple and have success. Thanks to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com, here is the quote from Tebow himself:

They only run a few plays, but they run them from a lot of different formations, and they disguise them very well. They run counter, they run power, they run jet sweep and they run inside zone. They've done those plays thousands and thousands of times. So when you're coming into a game with a lot of pressure, a lot of hype, a lot of nerves, it's easy to do something you've done (a lot), rather than going into a game with a lot of adjustments and a lot of new plays. That's why I think they'll come out playing fast.

Literally the first play of the game was Auburn running back Tre Mason rushing for 11 yards on a simple formation. The final touchdown of the game for the Tigers came on a bruising rush by Mason to put them back on top.

Though the Tigers weren't able to pull out the game, Mason finished with 195 rushing yards and two total touchdowns thanks, in large part, to several rushes out of the power formation and multiple sweep plays. Needless to say, Tebow was right on point that Gus Malzahn would simply play his game.

Then there was Tebow's prediction of the final score of the game, also provided by Goodbread:

Auburn might be a team of destiny, but tonight, Florida State is deeper from top to bottom. When Jameis Winston and Telvin Smith's leadership in the fourth quarter, I think they win 35-31.

OK, wait a minute. The actual final score was Florida State coming out on top 34-31. In a game where nearly every analyst predicted for both teams to surpass 40 points—myself included, predicting a final of Florida State 56, Auburn 45—Tebow missed in his prediction by one point.

Apart from just his evaluation of the outcome or how he believed the Tigers would attack Florida State in the biggest game of their season, Tebow showed that he is comfortable with the microphone and should make for a great analyst on the SEC Network when it officially kicks off on Aug. 28.

No analyst is perfect and certainly not on their first day. But with time and coaching, the former Heisman winner and NFL journeyman certainly has a shot at making a career out of being an analyst. It should be exciting to watch.

 

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Cold Hard Fact for Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fact: Florida State set a new single-season FBS scoring record with 723 points. The previous high was 716 points by Oklahoma in 2008. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: Natalie Pierre

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Michigan Football: Wolverines Can't Afford to Sleep on Dennis Norfleet in 2014

At 5’8” and 175 pounds, Dennis Norfleet doesn’t embody a typical college running back.

In fact, the Michigan Wolverines junior-to-be doesn’t resemble a Big Ten runner, let alone one who his program is known for—a 200-pound bruiser with adequate speed and downhill tendencies.

Norfleet is completely the opposite, actually.

Shifty, elusive and incredibly difficult to tackle, he’s nearly impossible to spot on the field during live action. What he lacks in size is more than made up for with his 4.39-second 40-yard dash speed.

Whether through punt returns or screen passes, Norfleet’s well-rounded skill will benefit Team 135 next fall.

But he can do more than that, and offensive coordinator Al Borges would do himself a favor by further incorporating the former 247Sports 4-star prep into the game plan.

 

Top Gear Norfleet

If Norfleet was a video game character, he’d be Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega’s famous 16-bit blue blur. Instead of tearing up landscapes looking for gold coins, Norfleet flies down sidelines looking for touchdowns.

So far, he’s yet to return a punt for six points. But it’s going to happen. Just wait.

Prior to Michigan’s 31-14 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl loss to K-State, Borges praised Norfleet’s abilities and work ethic, telling reporters (via MLive.com’s Nick Baumgardner) that the former Detroit Martin Luther King star would quickly adapt to the role of pass-catcher instead of ball-runner:

He's a ball of energy. He's getting better all the time, he's quick as a cat. Always a full-speed effort, he blocks hard.

With Dennis, once he really gets acclimated to the position, he's going to be a really good slot (receiver).

Using Norfleet everywhere is the best course of action. Full of potential, he’s too athletic to peg into one hole. He’s a running back by trade, but he’s more than suited for the position vacated by senior Jeremy Gallon, who had a record-setting 2013.

Versatility is a plus.

Borges’ scheme would flourish with Norfleet manning two spots during any given drive. Should Borges dial up a pass on first down, Norfleet would be a phenomenal option out of the backfield; he doesn’t necessarily have to take the line of scrimmage in order to be an effective receiver.

That being said, he’d be just as effective in the slot position—that’s where his lack of size would quickly become an advantage. Crossing routes would likely be his best friend. He’s too short to be a legitimate deep threat.

However, he perfectly fits into plans as a combo-back/receiver. Call him Michigan's Swiss Army Knife of the gridiron. 

 

By the Numbers

Note: The above video shows Norfleet during his junior year at MLK. Despite being a few years old, the video serves as a reference to Norfleet's overall skill set. 

According to ESPN, Norfleet averaged 23.5 yards per kick return (long of 44), putting him within the top 50—barely, he was No. 49—in that category.

On the surface, Norfleet’s punt-return average was horrible—a mere 0.3 yards per touch. However, he only fielded three punts. A threat to take it to the house at nearly every turn, given more opportunities, Norfleet could rake in about 20 yards per attempt.

In 2013, North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer led the FBS with an average of 20.1 yards per return (25 attempts).

Further demonstrating his athleticism and ability to change games, Norfleet, when gauging total offense, was good for 13.25 yards per play, according to CFBStats.com.

Perhaps a more accurate gauge of his threatening tendencies, Norfleet’s all-purpose running average of 19.5 yards per play commands immediate attention.

Norfleet wasn't a major component of Team 134's overall scheme. But that should change in 2014. Replacing Gallon at the slot will be a task, but fueling a backfield that's saying goodbye to Fitz Toussaint will also be a goal for Norfleet, one of the most underutilized players in college football. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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USC Football Recruiting: 8 Current Commits Who Will Contribute as Freshmen

Earlier this week, I published a slideshow which outlined five of the biggest offseason concerns for new Trojans head coach, Steve Sarkisian.

One of those concerns listed was the need for Sarkisian to identify true freshmen who could contribute immediately for USC in 2014.

The reason for Sark to find those youngsters who can see the field early is obvious to any fan of the program, and it has everything to do with the sanctions that have been imposed by that—ahem—August college governing body, the NCAA.

Operating with a reduced roster, USC will need to get healthy bodies on the field of play this season, and that includes as many true freshmen as possible.

This slideshow will look at some of these recruits who have given USC their verbal commitment and the likelihood of their playing in 2014.

Can the Trojans count on these young players in a year when they might be needed badly?

Time will tell, but here are some likely candidates to help out the men of Troy.

 

Note:

Profiles are provided by Scout.com, and this list does not include Austin Maloata, Malik Dorton and Uchenna Nwosu, all of whom are listed as "soft verbals."

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Tim Tebow Nearly Predicts Final BCS Championship Score; Freak out Accordingly

Like giddy kids on Christmas morning, ESPN couldn't wait to bust out its new toy and play with it. Apparently, this version of Tim Tebow might be able to foretell the future. 

Deadspin's Timothy Burke did what he does best and caught a small but extremely interesting slice of the big game Monday night. That video was picked up off YouTube by Complex Sports, so we tip our hat once to both. 

As for details, it's really quite simple. Tebow, with his ability to see through time like many of you peek out the window, nearly hit the bull's-eye when it came to the final score of the BCS National Championship Game, which ultimately saw Florida State beat Auburn, 34-31. 

As you will see and hear in the video above, Tebow offers his assessment prior to kickoff: "With Jameis Winston and Telvin Smith's leadership in the fourth quarter, I think they win 35-31."

That's scarier than the first time I realized I paid money to watch Paranormal Activity—spooky, even. 

If Tebow were allowed to continue, he might have regaled the audience with what they were going to have for dinner that night, or perhaps given us the results of the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. 

Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch reported on Dec. 30 that ESPN had hired the former NFL quarterback to join its SEC Network. 

ESPN wasted no time in getting its favorite athlete onto the air, featuring him in an odd Trent Dilfer vignette that insinuated Tebow had finally turned a corner and was closer than ever to being the NFL quarterback that general managers would want on their rosters. 

And then ESPN had Tebow offer his opinions ahead of the BCS championship game. For lack of a better word, Tebow was, well, swell

He was informative, concise, charming and assertive—if not just a touch nervous. When you consider one of his first assignments was to analyze the biggest college football game of the year, he did a darn good job. In fact, we are confident this Tebow guy will excel in his new gig. 

If you weren't already sold, NFL.com's Chase Goodbread went through some of Tebow's pregame assertions and matched them with the end result. The verdict? Tebow no longer has any accuracy issues.

There is no need to play another season. We now have the Tebow machine to spit out the results well ahead of time. 

 

Hit me up on Twitter

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FSU vs. Auburn: How Game Compares to Other BCS Championships

It wasn't the best BCS Championship game. It wasn't the most bizarre. And it certainly wasn't the most hyped or compelling matchup coming in.

Heck, for large portions of the game, it wasn't even that captivating. But oh, that finish. Florida State's 34-31 victory over Auburn was highlighted by the team's 21 fourth-quarter points (and 10 from Auburn), leading to one of the finest quarters in the history of the BCS national championship.

It had a little of everything. Jameis Winston added to his legend, leading Florida State to a comeback win and capping his Heisman season. There were memorable plays—Kermit Whitfield's kick return, Tre Mason's tackle-breaking touchdown run just minutes later—memorable players and, finally, the end of the SEC's domination atop the college football world.

And, if nothing else, we'll always remember this game as the swan song of the BCS, as college football finally reverts to a playoff system starting next season.

So how do we judge it amongst the other BCS title games?

Sure, this game can't compare to the 2005 championship between Texas and USC, arguably the greatest game in college football history. In that back-and-forth contest, Vince Young led the Longhorns past Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and the insanely talented Trojans, 41-38.

Keep in mind that USC went into the season as the No. 1 team and Texas was No. 2, and it stayed that way the entire season. Or that USC had two Heisman winners (Leinart and Bush). Young won it on a touchdown scamper with seconds remaining, capping off a night when he accumulated an amazing 467 yards from scrimmage, including 200 rushing yards and three rushing scores.

In every sense of the word, it was epic. And it is unquestionably the finest BCS Championship game ever.

This game didn't have the incredible ending of the 2002 iteration between Ohio State and Miami, either. That game went into overtime, was affected by a terrible pass interference call in the end zone and had a pretty shocking result. Miami was chock-full of future NFL players and had won the title the year before.

On most lists of BCS title games, this one would justifiably earn the No. 2 ranking.

As bizarre games go, the 2010 BCS Championship between Cam Newton's Auburn and Chip Kelly's Oregon takes the cake. While the game itself wasn't terribly memorable, the key play on the final drive was Michael Dyer's long run after the entire stadium thought he had been tackled. 

Play to the whistle, kids.

There were more hyped matchups: Obviously, USC versus Texas. Wire-to-wire No. 1 Florida State in the 1999 championship game against Michael Vick's Virginia Tech. Alabama and LSU playing in a rematch two seasons ago, even if that matchup earned the nation's ire.

But let's be honest, those were clearly the two best teams in the country.

While Winston seems destined to be a star, we've seen bigger ones on this stage (at least at that time in college football). Newton. Vick. Tim Tebow. Leinart, Bush and Young.

But when you add everything together, this was a top-three BCS championship. Texas and USC can't be touched, while the finish and upset of Ohio State defeating Miami will always be iconic. But after that, the fourth quarter of this year's BCS Championship vaults it to the No. 3 spot.

A last-second, game-winning touchdown. A fourth quarter that saw three lead changes. A kick return for a touchdown. The Heisman winner leading his team to three touchdowns down the stretch. 

It was one of the finest quarters you'll see, and despite being a less-than-thrilling matchup in the pantheon of great college football games, it turned out to be an excellent contest. Remember this game fondly, folks—in a see of underwhelming BCS Championships, this game was pretty special.

 

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Cold Hard Fact for Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fact: Florida State became the first team to ever win a BCS National Championship while trailing at halftime. They were down 21-10 and went on to win 34-31. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: BCSFootball.org

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Where Does Jimbo Fisher Rank Among Head Coaches with a BCS Title Win?

The BCS exited stage left from the college football theater Monday night in glorious fashion. Florida State, in a thrilling come-from-behind effort, edged Auburn 34-31 in the final seconds of the game. 

The win gives Jimbo Fisher his first BCS title as a head coach and Florida State's first since the 2000 Sugar Bowl when it beat Virginia Tech 46-29. 

The Seminoles' victory over the Tigers was one for the ages, up there with the 2006 Rose Bowl (Texas vs. USC) and 2003 Fiesta Bowl (Miami vs. Ohio State) as one of the great BCS title games. So where does the game leave Fisher among head coaches with a BCS National Championship win?

There have been 17 different coaches who have participated in a BCS title and 12 different winners, so the pool is large. Most coaches, including Phillip Fulmer (formerly of Tennessee) Mack Brown (formerly of Texas) and Jim Tressel (formerly of Ohio State), have one ring. Even former 'Noles coach Bobby Bowden was only able to win one BCS title during his time in Tallahassee.  

Only two coaches, Urban Meyer and Nick Saban, have won multiple BCS titles. Meyer won two with Florida in 2007 and '09; Saban won three with Alabama ('10, '12 and '13) and one with LSU ('04.) 

It goes to show just how hard it is to win a single national championship, let alone lead a dynasty. Therefore, Saban and Meyer have to be considered the best coaches of the BCS era. 

Of course, coaches like Bowden transcend a single postseason era; it would be wrong to measure Bowden's impact on football solely on his single BCS title. His 377 Division I wins are most all-time due to Joe Paterno's vacated wins and he led Florida State to another national title in 1993. Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, who lost to Bowden in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, leads all active coaches with 266 victories. 

Fisher's victory puts him in an elite fraternity, but he's far from the best coach to ever win a BCS title. When you start listing off the names of BCS title winners—Bowden, Fulmer, Pete Carroll (formerly of USC), Meyer, Saban and so on—there's a long way to go before Fisher surpasses them. 

That doesn't mean he can't in time. Fisher just completed his fourth season as the Seminoles' head coach.

As the College Football Playoff ushers in a new postseason format, Fisher will have the opportunity to become one of the great college football coaches of his time. It doesn't mean he'll have to win a handful of playoff championships, either. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops only has one BCS title, for example, but he has four total appearances. Tressel and Bowden are each 1-2 in BCS title games. 

The important thing for Fisher will be getting to the four-team playoff often. With the recruiting success he's been having—Florida State has the fourth-best incoming class, according to 247Sports—there's no reason to think the machine Fisher is building in Tallahassee won't be around for a long time. 

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Cold Hard Fact for Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fact: Florida State's Jameis Winston is the third quarterback since 1950 to go undefeated with a national title and Heisman Trophy all in same season. Cam Newton (2010) and Matt Leinart (2004) are the only other two. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: ESPN Stats and Info

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NCAA Football Rankings: Hits and Misses from Final AP Top 25 Poll

The final Associated Press Poll of the season was released on Tuesday morning, mere hours after Florida State beat Auburn 34-31 in one of the greatest college football games ever played.

The Seminoles were the only undefeated team in the country, and they predictably checked in as the unanimous No. 1 team. Behind them, Auburn, Michigan State, South Carolina and Missouri filled out the rest of the final top five.

Click through for some winners and losers from the poll, and check out the complete final rankings below:

  1. Florida State (60)
  2. Auburn
  3. Michigan State
  4. South Carolina
  5. Missouri
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Alabama
  8. Clemson
  9. Oregon
  10. Central Florida
  11. Stanford
  12. Ohio State
  13. Baylor
  14. LSU
  15. Louisville
  16. UCLA
  17. Oklahoma State
  18. Texas A&M
  19. USC
  20. Notre Dame
  21. Arizona State
  22. Wisconsin
  23. Duke
  24. Vanderbilt
  25. Washington

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Denny's Twitter Encourages Sad Auburn Fans to Stop in on Their Way Home

No. 1 Florida State defeated No. 2 Auburn 34-31 Monday night in the BCS National Championship Game after a wild, back-and-forth game. Many Auburn fans left Pasadena with a heavy heart when their national championship dreams were crushed in the final minute. 

Denny's Twitter account had a great consolation prize for all of the Tigers fans, encouraging them to take out their sorrows at any one of its 47 restaurants on the road back to Alabama. 

Anyone up for a grand slam? 

Thanks to Dan Lyons of College Spun for the find. 

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Auburn vs. FSU: Prospects Who Bolstered 2014 NFL Draft Stock in BCS Title Game

The Florida State Seminoles capped off an undefeated 2013 campaign on Monday night with a 34-31 BCS Championship victory over the Auburn Tigers.

Now that the game is in the rear view, it is time to focus on how some of the performances by stars in that contest will impact their stock ahead of the upcoming 2014 NFL draft.

Let’s take a look at two prospects who improved their standing in the eyes of scouts and general managers with a standout title game showing.

 

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Benjamin had a decent national title game, but he will be best remembered for his spectacular, go-ahead touchdown grab with 13 seconds left in regulation to seal a victory for the Seminoles.

That catch alone showcased his immense skill set, which includes the ability to use his 6’5”, 234-pound frame to shield the ball from opponents, an incredible vertical leap that allows him to go up and grab the rock at its highest point and a knack for scoring in the red zone.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller noted that the sky is the limit in regard to this redshirt sophomore standout:

Benjamin finished the 2013 campaign with 54 receptions for 1,011 yards and a ridiculous 15 touchdowns. His score on Monday gave him six consecutive games with at least one touchdown and ensured that he found paydirt in 10 of 14 contests.

Prior to the BCS Championship, he had back-to-back games that put him squarely on the radar of draft scouts everywhere.

His ACC title game showing against Duke was phenomenal, as the Belle Glade, Florida native rose to the occasion and hauled in five passes for 119 yards and two scores. However, his outing in the regular-season finale against Florida was even better.

The 22-year-old obliterated the Gators secondary for 212 yards and three touchdowns on just nine receptions. It was by far the best performance of an outstanding season and one that GMs will likely find themselves viewing over and over again when discussing the merits of drafting this potential star.

 

Tre Mason, RB, Auburn

Mason was arguably the best player on the field—for either team—during the national championship tilt. The bruising running back put the Tigers on his shoulders and nearly carried them to an improbable title.

The star junior racked up 195 yards rushing, snapping Bo Jackson’s longstanding single-season rushing record in the process, per Scott Rabalais of The Advocate:

This is no small feat, especially considering Jackson won the 1985 Heisman Award and is still considered one of the best collegiate players ever. He finished that season with 1,786 yards on the ground, while Mason ended his 2013 campaign with 1,816 yards.

Mason took a page from Bo’s book, using elite footwork, shiftiness and power to rip off a 37-yard scamper that put Auburn ahead with 1:19 left in the game.

It looked as if it might be the deciding score, but Jameis Winston orchestrated an 80-yard drive that culminated in the winning touchdown about a minute later.

Mason was apologetic after the game for failing to deliver a championship, per Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports: “We wanted to have the biggest turnaround in college football. I want to apologize for not fulfilling that. I tried to do everything to give us the best chance to win the national championship and I failed.”

Regardless of the final score, scouts had one last chance to see Mason shine on the brightest stage and nearly will his team to victory. Miller called the young man a “starter” in the NFL if he elects to declare:

Michael Felder, Bleacher Report’s National College Football Lead Writer, believes the Tigers star will be a second-round pick in May, if he makes the leap to the pros.

After such a magical season, it’s hard to picture Mason depriving the NFL of his talents. He’s too good and has too much to accomplish at the next level. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest running backs in Tigers history, and he seems to have a solid pro career ahead of him.

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Penn State Football: Why Mike Munchak Is Not the Right Answer in Happy Valley

Penn State's search for its next head coach is dragging on a little longer than most fans expected. It wasn't that expectations were unreasonable. According to Dustin Hockensmith of PennLive.com, athletic director Dave Joyner said in a press conference that he anticipated that the search would take "a matter of days, not weeks."

That was five days ago, so technically he is still right, but "days" is quickly approaching that "week" mark.

For those of you who remember the last search, you know that Joyner is capable of stretching "week" into "weeks." The search for Joe Paterno's replacement in 2011 and 2012 lasted nearly two months.

Despite that, and the lingering effect that not having a coach may have on recruiting, it's important that Joyner and his search committee take their time and make the right hire.

The right hire is not Mike Munchak.

Over the last few days, Penn State has interviewed the members on its short list of candidates. According to David Jones of PennLive.com, the recently fired coach of the Tennessee Titans got his shot on Sunday and impressed the committee.

Fortunately, the search committee wasn't blown away enough to make a snap judgement and offer him the job. Yet.

While Munchak's track record is respectable enough and he is a Penn State alum, he is not the right guy to be handed the keys to Penn State's football program.

The Scranton, PA, native has been in coaching since he retired in 1993. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, he first served as an offensive assistant in Houston, then took over the offensive line coaching for 14 years (1997-2010) before becoming the head coach for the same organization in 2011.

As the head coach of the Titans, Munchak compiled a record of 22-26 while playing in what can be considered a poor division. The other three teams in the AFC South were a combined 59-85 in that span. The Titans' average rank in scoring offense was 24th during that time.

Aside from his struggles as a head coach, Munchak has never been a coordinator or coached a single season—not even as a graduate assistant—at the college level.

While football is football, recruiting is an art form learned only from years of experience. Munchak has none.

There is something to be said about the impact an NFL Hall of Famer could have at the head coaching position, but let's be honest, not all Hall of Famers are seen in the same light. There's a difference between Steve Young, Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Mike Munchak.

If I have trouble sleeping tonight, I'll just imagine Mike Munchak as Penn State's coach. Zzzzzzz...

— JoePa's Doghouse (@RowlffDogg) January 6, 2014

Munchak played offensive guard. He retired 20 years ago. Outside of Penn State fans and diehard NFL fans, how many people recognize the name and associate it with the Hall of Fame?

Billy Shaw, John Hannah and Joe Delamielleure are a few of the other offensive guards recently inducted into the Hall of Fame

With all due respect to Munchak and his accomplishments, if his name was Tom Jones and he went to Wake Forest, he wouldn't be a candidate for this job.

Why should his Penn State ties make such a difference?

Penn State fans, recently scolded by the perceived betrayal of Bill O'Brien, are afraid of becoming a "stepping stone job" that has to replace a head coach every few years. The idea of bringing in a "Penn State guy" would theoretically prevent that from happening.

There's no reason to think Munchak would move on for another job, that's for sure. Unless he was fired.

If Munchak wasn't a Penn State legend, would he be a top candidate given his 22-26 NFL record and no college coaching/recruiting experience?

— Phil Gianficaro (@philgianficaro) January 7, 2014

There's an argument to be made, though, that a coach moving on to take a better job is a positive in some ways. 

Whether it be O'Brien going to Houston, Charlie Strong going to Texas from Louisville or Steve Sarkisian leaving Washington for USC, one factor remains consistent: success.

When coaches move on to a better job, it's a direct product of success. O'Brien undeniably left Penn State in better shape than it was in when he arrived. The same can be said for Strong and Sarkisian at their former jobs.

As a fan, isn't that all you can ask for? A head coach who comes in and improves the program?

Dave Joyner and his process were successful the last time a coaching hire was made. O'Brien was not a household name, but was without a doubt the right man for the job.

If the next coach that comes in has similar success and then leaves for the NFL, you could make a case that Joyner actually knows what he's doing. 

That should give fans enough confidence to not worry about tenure. Coaching changes happen. The days of Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno are gone. Coaching changes are a part of the game.

Fear of a different coach leaving after a couple of years is not a good reason to hire Munchak. Neither is his resume.

 

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Nebraska Football Recruiting: Bo Pelini Needs to Find Next Terry Joseph Fast

It's official. Nebraska will now be seeking its fourth defensive backs coach in just five years.

The Lincoln Journal Star has confirmed that Huskers defensive backs coach Terry Joseph will accept the offer to be Texas A&M's secondary coach.

Current Nebraska players expressed their disappointment in Joseph leaving through Twitter.

However, head coach Bo Pelini now has to think beyond just the current players on his roster. In fact, he needs to move quickly to replace Joseph for the sake of recruiting, as current Nebraska commits have started to react.

With roots in the South, Joseph was a big key in Nebraska's recruiting plan. He joined the Huskers in 2012 after two seasons with Tennessee, where he was the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

Joseph also coached under Derek Dooley at Louisiana Tech.

A native of Louisiana, Joseph has strong ties to the state football programs in the South. He's known as a strong recruiter, something Nebraska definitely benefited from.

He was also the factor in five of Nebraska's 19 commitments.

Due to this, Pelini will likely want to wait to fill the vacant position. In fact, the head coach has had time to start putting some thought into possible outcomes.

Prior to interviewing, Joseph did tell Pelini he would talk with him before accepting any position. That means Pelini has had some idea of what could possibly come.

So what will Pelini do?

There is a lot of message board fodder discussing the potential of Pelini taking over the defensive backs. This would then free up a spot to hire former Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz as an assistant.

While many fans would like to see Ganz stick around, he unfortunately does not offer Nebraska what it needs after losing Joseph.

Plus, many fans worry about Pelini spreading himself too thin by taking on the responsibilities of overseeing the defensive backs. While the head coach has been actively involved in this area, many feel his role shouldn't require him doing too much himself.

Pelini would also still be missing the help that's needed for recruiting in the South.

That means he will likely look to hire someone to replace Joseph. The question then becomes who that will be.

Pelini probably has a long list to consider. However, there are three names that are likely on his shortlist. Those names are former Nebraska defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders, UNI defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks and Ole Miss defensive line coach/defense recruiting coordinator Chris Kiffin.

Each of those three names offers something unique to Nebraska.

For Sanders, it's the familiarity with the program. He was the defensive backs coach in 2003 and from 2008-2011. He then followed Carl Pelini to FAU to be the defensive coordinator. After two months on the job, he left to be the defensive backs coach at USC.

However, Sanders was later relieved of his duties by the Trojans once Clancy Pendergast was hired as defensive coordinator. After a turbulent couple of years, Sanders settled in as the head coach at Loyola High School in Los Angeles, Calif. on February 25, 2013.

If Sanders were to be hired back by Nebraska, he would bring his ties from his time in North Carolina with him. He was also a successful coach for the Huskers, and fans seem to be open to his return.

Another candidate familiar with the program is Bullocks. In his second season with NIU, Bullocks is a Nebraska alum. He played safety for the Huskers and was a co-captain his senior year.

Bullocks went on to play for the Detroit Lions for five years.

While young, Bullocks does provide a lot of potential for Nebraska. A native of Chattanooga, Tenn., Bullocks possesses the ability to connect with young recruits in the South. With his experience on and off the field, he would be able to bring a lot to the table.

As for Kiffin, he has the least amount of exposure to Nebraska, but he is still very familiar with the program. He spent two years in charge of offensive quality control from Feb. 2008 to Feb. 2010. This means he has also worked directly with Pelini.

Kiffin has since spent time as Arkansas State's defensive line coach. There is no denying Kiffin's ties in the South. Those could prove to be very beneficial in replacing Joseph.

Additionally, Kiffin is good at what he coaches. In his first year in Oxford, he helped Old Miss rank first in the SEC and fourth nationally in tackles for loss (7.9 per game), per OleMissSports.com.

The list likely doesn't end there for Pelini, but Sanders, Bullocks and Kiffin are likely near the top.

Replacing Joseph won't be easy. However, the Huskers have had to make replacements at the defensive backs coaching position before.

Building stability will be key, so Pelini will want to seek a candidate that will wish to stick around a while. That will be crucial for both recruiting and developing players once at Nebraska.

Junior Corey Cooper valued the two years with Joseph.

"It meant a lot to me," Cooper told the Lincoln Journal Star. "I finally had the same DB coach for two years straight for the first time, so that helped me a lot with improvement in my game."

Younger players will be hoping for a more permanent coach. While good assistants have a tendency to get snatched away, Pelini needs to focus on someone who will want to stay at Nebraska for a decent amount of time.

Whether it's one of the three candidates listed above or someone else entirely, Pelini needs to move quick.

Recruiting and the 2014 season will rely on it.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jameis Winston Has Nothing Left to Prove in College but He's Stuck There in 2014

Jameis Winston had a household nickname before he ever took a snap in college.

As the 2013 college football season rolled along and Florida State was outscoring every team it faced by an average of nearly 40 points, the legend of "Famous Jameis" grew and grew, nearly as big as Johnny Football; bigger, still, than RGIII.

The difference between Winston and the two most recent Heisman Trophy winners before him, however, is that Famous Jameis won a much more important trophy to end his season, both for his own legacy and his school.

"Jameis grew up unbelievably tonight," an emotional Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher told ESPN's Heather Cox after Florida State came from behind to beat Auburn, 34-31, in the BCS National Championship on Monday. "Tonight's probably the best football game he's ever played, because he struggled early and that's what big-time players do. When the money is on the line, they can suck it up in the fourth quarter and do what they have to do."

When what is on the line? The money? There was money on the line?

THERE WAS MONEY ON THE LINE?!?!

No, there was not money on the line. At least not for Winston. At least not yet.

The common idiom Fisher used in his post-game interview was nothing more than sportswriter fodder, an aptly-put yet perhaps ill-timed reminder that Winston not only didn't get paid for his involvement in one of the great comebacks in college football history, NCAA rules preclude him from making any money off the moment as long as he remains a student-athlete at Florida State. For Winston, that could be quite a while.

Woe is the redshirt freshman.

On Monday, however, there was no woe. Not for Seminole fans. Not for Winston.

When asked by ESPN's Tom Rinaldi after the game how big the moment was, Winston calmly stated, "It's the biggest. Happy Birthday…We're doing it big all over the country. All over the world. And I'm proud."

He should be proud. He did something no player has ever done before.

Winston is just the third freshman quarterback to start a BCS National Championship Game, and the only one to win it. Of the eight who have had the opportunity to try, Winston is just the third Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback to hoist the BCS crystal in the same year.

He is the only freshman, ever, to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same year.

So what next? What is there left to do in college football? Win another national title? Win another Heisman Trophy and another Walter Camp Award and another Davey O'Brien Award?

That's nice. That would all be…nice.

Johnny Manziel probably thought a lot of that might happen to him too after winning the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman last season. Manziel was a finalist for the award this year, but his season was mired more in scandal and unfulfilled expectations than hardware and college football glory.

Johnny Football will certainly be in the NFL next year, waiting the customary three years (or two with a redshirt season) before declaring for the professional ranks. Famous Jameis has to wait another year.

Winston will have to spend at least one more season in college before he can cash in on being the best quarterback on the planet who can't legally buy a drink. Heck, even if he was old enough to get into a Tallahassee bar—Winston turned 20 on Monday—he can't even accept a drink if someone offers to buy one for him, not without violating a number of school and NCAA rules (and a state ordinance or two).

Winston, by the way, isn't complaining about this one bit. At least not yet, anyway. Winston had a chance to play professional baseball while still playing football at Florida State and opted to remain part of the Seminoles baseball team instead. By all accounts, the kid is having as much fun as a second-year college athlete could possibly have, scandal notwithstanding.

"We are champions together," Winston told Rinaldi before being ushered to the dais to collect his MVP award and kiss the BCS trophy. "And through everything that we went through—through all the haters, through every single thing—we came out victorious."

They haters aren't going away. Just ask Manziel what that's like, and he didn't even win a national title on top of his Heisman award. If Florida State is going to come out victorious next year, there will be a lot—a lot—more haters now.

Florida State should be favored to win the reshuffled ACC next season, even with the addition of Notre Dame and Louisville to the schedule. Two of the Seminoles' ranked opponents—Clemson and Louisville—are losing their first-round caliber quarterbacks to the NFL, and while other ACC teams could provide a tough out next year—FSU plays Miami, N.C. State, Louisville and Syracuse on the road—the neutral-site game against Oklahoma State to open the season may be what ultimately decides whether Winston and the Seminoles are back in the title hunt again next year.

So that's what Famous Jameis has to look forward to in 2014. To be honest, after accomplishing all he did this year, Oklahoma State is probably not the Cowboys team he wishes he were facing next season.

Look, I'm really not trying to make this a pound the desk, clench the fist "hot sports take" about the perils of being a college athlete. Winning the national championship and the Heisman Trophy in the same year is an incredible college accomplishment, and it really shouldn't have anything to do with the NFL, or a player's potential earnings therein.

Having said that—here comes the fist clenching and light desk pounding—college athletes, at least the ones as good as Winston who bring in billions of dollars for the NCAA member institutions and the rights holders that broadcast games, should get a cut of the prize. Give the kids something and put the money in escrow until each player graduates college. Do something. You can't honestly look at the spectacle of this year's BCS title game and think the players don't deserve more than they're getting.

ESPN showed the game on FOUR different networks Monday night! ESPN had the main telecast, ESPNews had a football nerdgasm looking at the All-22 and other coaching angles, ESPN2 had some sort of cocktail party where we could watch an array of ESPN talent mingle with celebrities while watching the game together, and ESPN Classic, which I didn't even know still existed, had the game without any sound from ESPN talking heads at all.

In addition, the Worldwide Leader added multiple streams on its WatchESPN app, including both teams' radio broadcast synced to the video and a camera that just panned the crowd all game.

Was ESPN just there for the journalism of it all? The payout for televising events like the BCS—and next year's playoff structure—is huge for ESPN.

Now think about this: Every single person on every single one of those telecasts made more money to be at that game Monday night than Winston will make this year and next, combined.

If players aren't going to get paid for playing in the regular season, let the bowl coalitions throw in some extra scratch as a bonus for making the game. Forget about iPads and luggage for a bowl gift, give each kid a few grand in cash for making a bowl game, and increase that payout based on the prestige of the bowl.

On top of that, include some sort of monetary bonus for winning a national award as well. Should the Heisman come with a $1 million prize? Of course it should.

Again, all of this money could be held in escrow—with the schools collecting the interest—until the player graduates from that school or, in the event of a transfer, any four-year institution. Failure to graduate, even after leaving early to go to the NFL, and the player forfeits the money to be either donated to charity on his behalf or given to the school's athletics fund.

Either that, or if paying the players is totally out of the question, allow them to declare for the NFL draft sooner.

The logic of waiting three years used to make sense when the NFL players were so much bigger and stronger than those in college. Is there any NFL quarterback bigger and stronger than Winston? Maybe two or three, tops, but the idea that he isn't physically ready for the NFL at 20 years old is preposterous.

Johnny Manziel may not have been physically ready for the rigors of the NFL after one season in college, but a second season hasn't really changed his physique at all. Hell, RGIII won the Heisman in his fourth year in college before being drafted second overall, and his body still isn't ready for those professional rigors.

The rules for draft eligibility protect the schools from losing kids like in college basketball and protect the NFL from being inundated with talented "projects" who are worth drafting but not ready to help a team right away like the NBA.

The only thing the rule doesn't protect is the talent. Winston will have to spend another year in college, hoping to repeat what he did in 2013 while navigating the landmines of injury that come with every snap of the football. Ask Jadeveon Clowney what he thinks of the draft eligibility process after the year he had in college.

For now, until the draft rules change or the demand to pay players reaches a more definitive resolution, the system will remain what it is. Winston gets to be big man on campus for another year. The fans are happy to have the best player in the sport come back for a second season. The schools and media partners line their pockets off his presence in the game, and the NFL has another great star draped in hardware one year down the pipeline.

With a star like Winston, everybody wins. Especially when the money is on the line.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top Plays from 2014 BCS National Championship Game

The 2014 BCS National Championship Game delivered on Monday night.

In a back-and-forth contest, the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles put away the No. 2 Auburn Tigers, 34-31, in one of the most exciting BCS national title games in recent memory. Some even called it the best ever.

Like any other great game, Monday’s contest was filled with amazing plays from both sides of the ball. Most of which occurred within the final five minutes of play.

Needless to say, this will be one of those games that will have sports fans talking for quite some time.

Luckily, B/R put together a list of the top 10 plays from the 16th and final BCS National Championship Game so you can relive the moments whenever you’d like.

 

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Winners and Losers of College Football Bowl Season

On Monday evening, Florida State and Auburn put a tidy bow on the season and the BCS era, playing what should become an iconic game in college football history. The Seminoles scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left to come back and beat the Tigers, 34-31.

With the completion of that game, the 2013 season is officially part of the past. We can now look forward to a new chapter of college football history, starting with the four-team College Football Playoff in 2014.

Before we do, however, let's take a moment to pause and reflect on the last non-playoff bowl season. Right from the opening game between Washington State and Colorado State, it was clear that this could be a special slate of games—and it didn't disappoint.

Here are some winners and losers from the past month.

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AJ McCarron's Mom Wasn't a Big Fan of Jameis Winston's Postgame Speech

In the emotion and excitement of winning the final BCS National Championship Game, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston made one grievous error: He forgot his cue cards for the postgame speech.

Fresh off a dramatic, 34-31 victory Monday night over the Auburn Tigers, the Heisman Trophy winner joined ESPN's Tom Rinaldi for a quick interview.

Winston’s answers to Rinaldi’s questions bubbled over into an overwhelmed monologue—as postgame interviews tend to do in such emotionally charged moments. 

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The speech (video via SportsCenterZone on YouTube) wasn’t exactly a sterling example of proper grammar, and the people of the Internet began to pick the oration to pieces.

Notable among the detractors of Winston’s speech appeared to be Dee Dee Bonner, mother of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. Bonner tweeted out a message ostensibly aimed at the FSU quarterback and his grammar in the postgame interview.

Bonner quickly deleted the tweet, but not before Twitter user @PichieRalmer could screenshot the message. 

This tweet got deleted fast by Aj McCarron's mommy. pic.twitter.com/GjygWLs3ue

— Richie (@PichieRalmer) January 7, 2014

Other Twitter users chimed in on Winston’s speech, lobbing criticism at the freshman quarterback. 

This sums up Jameis Winston's post game speech in a nutshell pic.twitter.com/1vildlslYJ

— Dustin Poynter (@dustinpoynter) January 7, 2014

Tebow never would have gotten away w/the speech Jameis Winston made. But it's easy 2 demonize White Christians. #BCSNationalChampionship

— Andrew Parra (@AParra210) January 7, 2014

According to Tyler Moorehead of CollegeSpun.com, Katherine Webb—McCarron’s girlfriend—also enjoyed the criticism of Winston’s speech.

Stop doing this, people associated with AJ McCarron pic.twitter.com/0OwnxiaORW

— Tony Manfred (@tonymanfred) January 7, 2014

Call it sour grapes. Call it a lament for the modern education system. Paint the reaction to Winston’s speech however you like, but answer this question: What do we expect of our leading athletes?

Perhaps we’ve grown accustomed to quarterbacks aspiring to prove their chops as future ESPN analysts. Maybe we need the flash on the field and the polish in the aftermath. Maybe we're spoiled.

Bonner has since apologized for her tweet, saying she never meant to offend anyone with her words.

Any1 that knows our family knows we r far from racist. My tweet was not in anyway meant that way. I sincerely apologize if it offended any1

— Dee Dee McCarron (@DeeDeeBonner) January 7, 2014

Regardless of his speech or the criticism thereof, the victory and the hardware were Winston’s Monday night. Perhaps sometime in the future he’ll be speaking the King’s and gobbling pulled pork sliders in the booth as another young star carves out his name on the field.

Until then, he’ll be dining on crystal.

 

Winston: Strong by any pronunciation.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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