Every once in a long while, a college football game comes along nobody will ever forget. These contests often have a long-lasting impact on the sport itself as well as the players and coaches who were a part of it. The 1969 edition of the legendary Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is one of those unforgettable battles.
Today, this game is known for igniting "The Ten Year War," a nickname for the series between head coaches Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes.
If everything had gone according to plan, Hayes and the top-ranked Buckeyes would have been back-to-back national champions, winners of three straight games over the Wolverines and the top candidate to be named the team of the century.
No team had scored more than 21 points against the Ohio State during the 1969 campaign. Nobody had even put a scare into the Buckeyes, who had won every game by at least 27 points. In fact, Ohio State never trailed for a single second that season. To everyone outside of Ann Arbor, the Scarlet and Grey appeared to be unbeatable.
"This game was against a team that Woody admittedly said was the best team he ever had," Schembechler said in an ESPN Classic documentary about the game. "All of the knowledgeable sportswriters around the country called it the greatest team of all-time. It was generally thought the only team that could compete with them were the powerful Minnesota Vikings."
Michigan did not exactly have the makings of an NFL team. Only two Wolverines on the '69 roster were All-Americans, while the Buckeyes boasted five of their own.
What the Wolverines did have, however, was a coach who knew Hayes inside and out, motivation and unflappable confidence.
Schembechler, then in his first year at the helm of the Michigan football program, played for Hayes at Miami (Ohio) from 1949-50. Two seasons later, Schembechler became an assistant coach on Hayes' staff at Ohio State. The Barberton, Ohio, native went on to take assistant positions at three other programs, before returning to Hayes' side from 1958-62.
The motivational tool Schembechler made use of all week long was the No. 50. The Buckeyes drubbed the Wolverines, 50-14, at Ohio Stadium the year before. Hayes added insult to injury and went for two after scoring a late touchdown, because he "couldn't go for three."
Such had been the reality for the Maize and Blue during this period of the rivalry. Between 1952-68, Ohio State boasted a 12-5 record against Michigan. Some of the Buckeyes, like former All-American safety Ted Provost (1967-69), felt "The Game" had lost some of its luster.
"We beat them bad in 1967 and 1968. It hadn't really been a big game for the few years before that," Provost said during a phone interview. "So the rivalry was not that big to me at the time."
To ensure the players were motivated by their shortcoming in 1968, Schembechler made the entire scout team wear the No. 50 for the entire week leading up to the game. According to former running back and wide receiver Glenn Doughty, the tactic worked to perfection.
"I think everyone from that team just remembers that we had momentum going into that game. Bo was just an awesome leader relative to just getting you fired up," Dougthy said. "Even though they were rated No. 1, we had something for them."
All of the momentum and confidence Doughty spoke of reached an unbelievable high in the locker room just prior to the game.
Chants were yelled, lockers were beaten and there was absolutely zero intimidation displayed by any of the Wolverines. To this day, Doughty has not seen anything like it.
I played professionally for eight years and I never have seen or felt the energy level that was in the locker room just before we went out to play that game. It’s amazing how many of us remember that locker room scene prior to the game…I’ll tell you one thing, there was no intimidation whatsoever relative to Ohio State. None. Not that game. Not even close. They were in trouble.
In front of 103,588 fans, a stadium record at the time, Michigan pulled out a rabbit out of the hat with a 24-12 victory over the heavily favored Buckeyes. It was the first time in 22 games anyone had managed to beat Ohio State.
The win also allowed the Wolverines to clinch their first Big Ten title since 1964, sending them to the Rose Bowl.
Running back Garvie Craw scored two touchdowns, and quarterback Don Moorhead added another rushing score for the Wolverines. Ted Killian added a field goal for good measure. All of the scoring for both teams took place in the first half.
"The first half was Michigan's," Richard Dirlam, a proud alum (1958) and season-ticket holder for 42 years. "Every time you'd stand up and everyone was hollering all the time, because then it started to look like (Michigan) had a chance to win."
The closing 30 minutes of action were dominated by the defenses. Missed field goals and stalled drives plagued Michigan and Ohio State in the second half. The Buckeyes were also hindered by four interceptions, three of which were picked off by Barry Pierson. Overall, Ohio State finished the game with six interceptions and one fumble. A letdown to say the least.
"I think there was a little letdown. We couldn't go to a bowl game (because of the Big Ten's no repeat rule)...I know we weren't at the top of our game," Provost said sadly. "It was pretty much a disappointment. Obviously, we weren't ready to play."
Michigan's stunning win helped change the rivalry entirely. Schembechler turned the Wolverines into a force to be reckoned with once again, which put them on par with Hayes' Buckeyes every year.
For the next 13 seasons, either Michigan, or Ohio State clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title. The Game became more meaningful than ever during this time considering the fact the two programs clinched the title outright nine of those years.
"Those games became dramatic and they started making history for the next several years," Doughty said. "In terms of just the intensity, the expectation at the end of the game was we were either going to the Rose Bowl, or we were going back home. That made it even more significant."
Without the Wolverines' stunning upset 44 years ago, the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry would be nowhere near as intense, or as prominent as it is today.
"The rivalry really took off. It was just a game before that," Dirlam, who watched the win from the 30-yard line of the Big House, said. "After that, it was something special...There had to be one game that was the defining game. That was it."
If there is one thing Wolverine and Buckeye fans can agree on, it is that the 1969 contest changed the outlook everyone had on the rivalry forever.
Follow me on Twitter: @Zach_Dirlam.
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Ohio State Buckeye fans knew that they were getting one of the best recruiters in college football when Urban Meyer jumped on board in November 2011.
Through two recruiting classes, he's done quite a bit to retool a team which went just 6-7 the year before he took over.
That isn't to say that former coach Jim Tressel wasn't a good recruiter, because he did help to bring in plenty of underrated talent, with less-regarded recruits like A.J. Hawk among others coming to mind.
But these two classes just have a different feel.
It feels like the Buckeyes are building an SEC-type of team, designed with a tremendous amount of athleticism in the front seven and playmakers with speed all across the board.
The amount of sheer talent Meyer was able to pull from out of the state of Ohio in the class of 2013, namely players like Vonn Bell, Dontre Wilson and Joey Bosa, combined with talented Ohio kids like Jalin Marshall, Cameron Burrows and Gareon Conley, is nothing short of impressive for anyone to do.
Alabama has had those classes for several years now and in turn has redefined the term "reload."
While we do have to wait to see how these last two recruiting classes actually pan out, it's amazing to see what these classes have done to reshape how we've seen the Buckeyes look in the last two years.
For example, in two years OSU went from a team void of much receiver talent to now having plenty of young guns waiting in the wings for their time. Of course, it does help having veteran players on board like Corey Brown.
Something similar can be said about the talent on the defensive line, a position where the Buckeyes are full of young (though largely unproven) talent.
There appears to be more quality depth at the key positions throughout the team, especially at the skill positions, where depth has been a question mark at times.
This season will be the first chance for that talent to show itself on the field, as Meyer's first class of recruits continues to mature.
We all know that he can recruit, and his track record backs that up.
How well he tries to replicate the SEC style of recruiting when it comes to adding great athletes close to the football is a question that will be answered further in the season.
Follow me on Twitter @bielik_tim for the latest college football news and updates.
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The Illinois Fighting Illini look to put an abysmal 2012 season behind them, seeking to improve from their 2-10 record. Unfortunately for the boys in orange, 2013 looks to be just as challenging.
Offense was a consistent problem for the Illini, who found themselves last in the Big Ten in passing and receiving yards. Luckily, Illinois will have their most important weapons returning for 2013. Here we rank their top five offensive weapons for 2013.
Former Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit will take over for the Illini as offensive coordinator. Cubit, like Illinois head coach Tim Beckman, come from the Mid-American Conference.
Johnny Manziel certainly exploded onto the national scene in 2012.
By the end of Texas A&M's Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma, Manziel had accounted for 47 total touchdowns. He had won the Heisman Trophy, and he had beaten the eventual national champion, Alabama.
Simply put, he had become the phenomenon known as "Johnny Football."
But who is due to breakout in 2013?
Here are 25 candidates who could be set to explode on the score sheet and in terms of national recognition this season.
The Big Ten has had a fair share of the top quarterbacks in college football over the years. Deciding between the likes of dual-threats like Terrelle Pryor, Antwaan Randle El and Troy Smith and pocket-passers like Kerry Collins, Chuck Long and Tom Brady can be a difficult task.
Yet that is the task we are faced with today, following up on the great list from Jake Martin about the top SEC quarterbacks of all time. Similar to Martin, the list of top Big Ten quarterbacks is based on statistics, championships, Hall of Fame inductions, major awards and pure athleticism.
In addition, the most recent players tend to be better overall than those of the pre-1960s era, so the number of players breaking into the Top 10 from a long time ago is minimal. However, this should help you recognize many of the players on the list.
Who will come out on top? Get ready for some history and some legendary names.
Butch Jones has officially held the position of head coach at the University of Tennessee for over six months. In that span, Jones has already made excellent progress towards improving the downtrodden Volunteer football program.
Though it is too soon to put a grade on the hire made by Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart, Jones’ first offseason on Rocky Top has definitely caught the attention of the Vols’ passionate fan base. The first instance of optimism felt by UT fans toward the newly hired coach occurred during his introductory press conference.
Following the firing of former coach Derek Dooley in November, many names were brought up amongst the fan base, with Jones’ rarely mentioned. When news broke of Jones’ hire, fans seemed to want more from their once dominant program.
However, the coach gained an increase in support from a strong press conference in which he professed his love of the Tennessee football program on multiple occasions, calling the Vols’ head coaching position his “dream job”.
Fans, still spurned by the infamous Lane Kiffin resignation could at least rest easier knowing they had a coach who was fully invested in their program, despite Jones’ short tenures at previous schools.
Jones and his new look coaching staff hit the ground running on the recruiting trail in an attempt to salvage the 2013 recruiting class. Tennessee managed to gain commitments from 11 players following his hire, while gaining strong consideration from players that were previously uninterested in the program.
Tennessee has seen even greater success in the 2014 recruiting class. Currently, Tennessee ranks No. 3 nationally, according to Rivals.com. Jones has already received commitments from five prospects with a 4-star rating on Rivals, which already matches the total from the previous class.
As Jones and his staff continued their success on the recruiting trail, the Tennessee fan base saw an even greater increase in optimism for the hire. The final instance of Jones bringing a positive change is best displayed through the impressive attendance during Tennessee’s spring game.
The Vols had a total of 61,706 fans attend their annual Orange & White game last month. Tennessee ranked third in the SEC in highest attendance for a spring game this year, trailing only Auburn and reigning national champion Alabama.
This is expected to bring a vast improvement in attendance during the regular season after the struggling Vols failed to fill up their 102,455-seat stadium in 2012.
Jones has given the Tennessee football program a much-needed face lift since taking over the reigns last December.
Time will truly tell whether the coach will have long-term success in Knoxville. However, his first six months on the job have definitely been impressive, creating a great deal of optimism amongst the Tennessee fan base.
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This list is all about the BCS, as this will be the last season of college football in which we will have to deal with the current championship system.
Here you will find listed the top 50 college football teams heading into 2013, along with their chances of making a BCS game.
It is a simple ranking system, where a high percentage means a better chance of reaching a BCS bowl and a lower percentage means less of a chance. It's not rocket science.
Love or hate the BCS, it's what we have to entertain during college football season for one more year.
Read on for some early analysis of the race for a BCS berth.
After 120 years of existence, Texas Longhorns football has produced some of the best defensive players ever to grace a college field. Trimming them all down to 10 gets messy, but we can all agree on the greatest defender ever to don the burnt orange.
What defines a great defender? With offensive players that rack up the big numbers and get their face on the front page, it is relatively simple.
Defense is another story. Often the best corner on the field is invisible, along with the guy he is erasing from the stat sheet. The same goes for the mudder in the middle that is simply eating space like a black hole.
National awards and records certainly help, but even those are not foolproof. Leading and delivering in big moments is always a plus as well. However, dominance on the scale of that these 10 players displayed is hard to miss and is the determining factor when separating 10 from thousands.
Starting with safety Michael Huff and ending with the no-brainer at the top, here is the list of the 10 greatest defensive players in Texas history. Please feel free to state your case for the snubs, because there is definitely a case to be made for some.
In the spirit of Vinny Testaverde, the Miami Hurricanes' first Heisman Trophy winner, being elected into the College Football Hall of Fame, it is time to take a look at former 'Canes who also deserve a place in the Hall.
Testaverde is the 10th Hurricane to be inducted to the Hall of Fame and the sixth in eight years.
According to the National Football Foundation website, the criteria for eligible Hall of Fame inductees are rather stringent.
-1. FIRST AND FOREMOST, A PLAYER MUST HAVE RECEIVED FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA RECOGNITION BY A SELECTOR RECOGNIZED BY THE NCAA AND UTILIZED TO COMPRISE THEIR CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICA TEAMS.
-2. A player becomes eligible for consideration by the NFF's Honors Court ten years after his last year of intercollegiate football played.
-3. While each nominee's football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.
-4. In accordance to the 50-year rule*, players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years. For example, to be eligible for the 2013 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1961 or thereafter. In addition, current professional players and / or coaches are not eligible until retirement.
Notice that the first rule is in all capital letters. The foundation really means it.
Each of the following players definitely meets the first, second and fourth criteria, and they have passed the eye test of the third rule in my mind.
Here are nine Hurricanes who deserve to be in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Did I miss someone? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Notes: The playing years listed for each player include January bowl games. All collegiate statistics, records and All-American years from UM media guide.
With the SEC and ESPN announcing a 20-year partnership earlier this month sealing the deal on the new SEC Network, it’s time to start thinking about ideas for programming.
While you have to figure the SEC Network will be oozing with live coverage of its 14 major sports, beyond that with 24 hours of air time in a day and seven days in a week the planning department will have to get creative especially during the summertime.
Taking this approach we’ve boldly come up with a list of 16 shows we want to see on the SEC Network when it takes flight in the very near future.
These are the programs that will complement Texas A&M squaring off with Alabama in women’s soccer and will flatter a lineup which will already include the SEC Track and Field Championships.
The Texas A&M Football team enters the 2013 season with one of the deepest backfields in the nation. The Aggie running backs could realistically be expected to rush for over 2,000 yards as a group.
The Texas A&M running game was led by quarterback Johnny Manziel in 2012. With the maturation of running backs on the roster, and the addition of two transfers, the Aggie backfield should be as talented and deep as it has been in recent memory.
In the Southeastern Conference you have to run the ball and stop the run if you want to win football games. The Aggies' depth should allow them to suffer through some injuries without seeing a noticeable drop in production on the field.
This is a look at realistic expectations for the Aggies' running backs in 2013.
No sport is steeped in tradition more so than college football. Every team and its respective fanbase understand the importance of the plays, games and stories, some often embellished, that have helped lay the foundation for some of the sport's most decorated programs.
At Notre Dame, college football's most notable brand name, its lore dates back over a century. Over the past 100 years, those indelible moments have been passed down to young, wide-eyed fans by their fathers or grandfathers.
These legends aren't all specific games, moments or figures, but simply stories that can't be omitted when discussing the history of Notre Dame football.
Urban Meyer and Ohio State could be one of the top BCS championship threats to the SEC in 2013, and if they are it will be largely thanks to the play of quarterback Braxton Miller. Meyer has already stated he believes Miller can be better Tim Tebow, one of his former players and a Heisman Trophy winner, so the comparisons between the two are fair game heading into the 2013 season.
But can we look at Tebow's time at Florida as a predictor for what is to come for Miller as a legitimate Heisman hopeful in 2013?
Before diving too deep into the comparisons, it should be worth noting that Meyer has a different offensive philosophy playing out right now at Ohio State than what he used at Florida.
With the Buckeyes, Meyer is forced to relay a bit more on a power offense, typical of Big Ten programs over the years. The recruiting done at Ohio State prior to his arrival left Meyer with, for him, less than an ideal talent pool to utilize, but he has found ways to adjust while he manages to build a roster conducive to his style.
At Florida Meyer had a wider assortment of dynamic players that forced defenses to defend the entire field. It was Meyer's use of speed players on special teams and offense that baffled Ohio State when the two programs colliding at the BCS Championship Game at the end of the 2006 season, and it is that style that Meyer intends to bring to Columbus and the Big Ten.
To put things in perspective, take a look at the sophomore seasons of Tebow and Miller, with each representing the first season in which the quarterbacks were a full-time starter under Meyer.
Tebow, not especially known for his passing skills, put together his best season throwing the football in 2007 by passing for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns. He completed 66.9 percent of his pass attempts during his Heisman Trophy season and threw just six interceptions. Considering he passed a career high 350 times that season, completing 234 of those attempts, that is impressive.
On top of all of the production Tebow accounted for in the passing game for Florida that 2007 season, he also added 895 rushing yards. In all, Tebow accounted for 70.34 percent of Florida's offense in 2007. As Florida fell out of the BCS title picture that year, the focus shifted in part to Tebow's Heisman campaign, but Meyer cannot be accused too much of padding Tebow's stats to make that Heisman push. Tebow's game-by-game numbers both in passing and rushing remained fairly consistent throughout 2007.
Now take a look at the first season with the Miller and Meyer combo in operation in Columbus, a season that produced a 12-0 Ohio State team ineligible for postseason play.
While Tebow's passing numbers surpassed those of the Ohio State signal-caller, Miller has a debatable edge running the football. Miller rushed for 1,271 yards last season, adding 13 touchdowns on the ground in the process. In all, Miller accounted for 65.09 percent of the Ohio State offense in 2012, which is somewhat comparable to Tebow's percentage of Florida's 2007 offensive production.
Miller completed just 58.3 percent of his pass attempts and piled up 2,039 passing yards and 15 touchdowns for the Buckeyes. Out of 254 pass attempts, nearly 100 fewer than Tebow in 2007, Miller was picked off six times.
Tebow also has the edge in passing yards per attempt, 9.4 to 8.1. Tebow ended up on average throwing six more passes per game than did Miller (27 to 21), and Tebow averaged 83 more passing yards per game.
At this point, it should be stressed that Tebow had one of the top playmakers in recent memory lining up on the field with him, Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin. Harvin averaged 14.5 yards per reception in 2007. Andre Caldwell (13.6), Louis Murphy (14.8) and Cornelius Ingram (14.9) also contributed to the success of the passing game.
Miller played the 2012 season with a couple of deep ball threats, with Devin Smith averaging over 20 yards per reception and Jake Stoneburner averaging 16.8 YPR. But Tebow may have enjoyed greater receiving depth, and having those reliable options made a difference.
So what lies ahead for Miller and Meyer in 2013, and can Meyer's previous work with Tebow be any indication of what will happen in Ohio State's offense? If we can rely on history for some foreshadowing, expect Miller's workload to be lightened with more players getting involved.
Tebow was accountable for 3,419 total yards of offense in 2008, or 54.87 percent of the offense. Meyer and Florida saw more production out of the running game by using Harvin and Chris Rainey more often out of the backfield, although Tebow ended the season leading the team in rushing with 13 more yards than Harvin.
Does Ohio State have the options in the ground game to help protect Miller more this fall? Carlos Hyde has 1,000-yard potential and Jordan Hall could be ready for a more important role this season as well.
One of the biggest differences in how Tebow and Miller have been used under Meyer is in the running game. Miller brings more speed and elusiveness to Ohio State's running attack, while at Florida Tebow's running was emphasized more in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Meyer is not hesitant to use Miller in those situations, but it is much more to his advantage to be able to have Miller moving around in the backfield looking for the right opportunity to break open a big run or find an open receiver. With Tebow, the confidence was there for the rock-solid quarterback to be able to muscle out a yard or two.
The difference is evident in the numbers. Miller carried the football 17 more times for Ohio State than Tebow did during the 2007 season. Miller rushed for nearly 400 more yards and a higher average but it was Tebow who recorded 10 more touchdowns. It all comes down to the situations in which each happened to be running the football.
Tebow offered many great memories for Florida during his 2007 Heisman season, and during the BCS championship run the following season. A big, strong arm was not one of Tebow's most prominent features, though. He could be accurate on short passes and hope for his receivers to use their speed after the catch.
Miller gives Meyer a strong arm to count on. While he works to improve his accuracy, Miller is a threat to launch a deep ball. Just ask Wisconsin, who was beta on a Miller throw as a freshman to decide the outcome of the game.
Make no mistake about it: Although Tebow's overall influence on the offensive numbers may have dipped after his Heisman Trophy season, he was still the key component of the Gators championship success the following year.
The same could happen in Columbus as Miller's passing skills continue to evolve and the supporting cast steps into larger roles as needed to make a championship push.
All stats courtesy College Football Reference.
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Nebraska football fans love their history and are blessed to follow a program with a rich tradition. The offseason is a perfect time to reflect on that history, and as I did I got to thinking about a different way to look at it.
What if we took all the great players in Nebraska history and had a fantasy draft? In other words, take all of the players who have donned the scarlet and cream throughout history and take turns picking from that pool to fill out a fantasy roster of all-time Husker greats.
We will do it in a two-team league (I know, not terribly competitive) to keep the project manageable. Called the Red Team and the White Team (the greatest Spring Game evah!), keeping the league to two teams will ensure that some difficult choices must be made.
Each team will have 24 players. In making the selections, we will always be assuming that we will be getting the player at the prime of his collegiate career. Here’s what the rosters will look like.
The fantasy draft will have 24 rounds and 48 total selections. I’m going to break them up into three-round chunks, so this will be an eight-part series overall. I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions as to who should be picked next, or why a particular pick was good or bad. The commissioner is approaching the podium, and the Red Team is on the clock!
Fans of the Auburn Tigers that were hoping for sweeping changes at the top of Auburn's athletic department did not get the news they were hoping for on Monday. Auburn president Jay Gogue released the findings from the committee he appointed to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Auburn athletic department. Statements from Gogue and committee member Mac Crawford showed support for Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs going forward.
On Tuesday, Jacobs went more in-depth with the committee's findings and his intentions to turn things around. One of the things he focused on in his speech was his commitment to enhance the game-day experience at Auburn and turn it into a weekend experience. Auburn has hired JMI Sports to review the department's processes. He based this off of feedback from alumni in a recent survey (via Brandon Marcello, al.com):
"When you look at the surveys, the things that you can control are the tailgating experience and the parking, and also the food, the quality of the food in the stadium," he said. "And then certainly the things that we've done around the game day have been very positive, but there's ways that we need to improve and we certainly look forward to those."
Excuse me, Mr. Jacobs, but the only game-day experience that Auburn fans are concerned with is winning. That is the common denominator for any Auburn fan's best game-day experience.
Winning cures all.
There are few atmospheres in college football that can match a weekend at Auburn when the Tigers are winning. Auburn fans with their RVs show up in droves from all over the South as early as Thursday, and there is a buzz around the campus that is almost palpable as tailgating tents pop up around campus on Friday morning.
In 2010, CNN ranked Auburn as the No. 2 tailgating spot in America. The Tigers won a few games that year, didn't they?
Improved signage around the stadium, locker room tours and dining on the 50-yard line of Jordan-Hare Stadium on a Friday night before a game were among 30 additions that Auburn added for the 2012 game-day experience.
Sure, that is really cool, but no Auburn fan cared about those things when they were walking out of Jordan-Hare Stadium at halftime of the Texas A&M and Georgia beat downs.
For Auburn fans, nothing can top the excitement of when the tunnel video comes on before the Tigers take the field with a chance to get a big victory. Watching Spirit or Nova fly majestically over Jordan-Hare Stadium is one of the best traditions in all of college football. The experience of walking out of Jordan-Hare Stadium on the way to Toomer's Corner with the rest of the Auburn family after a win over LSU, Georgia, Alabama or any other team never gets old.
It is those types of experiences that make the Auburn atmosphere so great for fans. But without winning, those things either don't happen or aren't nearly as exciting. You will be hard-pressed to find an Auburn fan that has much to complain about the game-day experience during the 2010 season.
The game-day experience will take care of itself when Auburn starts to win again. That isn't happening enough on the Plains right now.
Jacobs' three main programs (football, basketball and baseball) have combined for a 14-27 record in SEC play in the 2012-2013 academic year. He knows that winning is the ultimate measuring stick. "Winning means everything to me. I'm not going to do it at any cost, I'm not going to compromise my integrity, but I've heard it. Sometimes I hear it when I go home" (via Joel Erickson, al.com).
The noise around his job security this year will sound muted if Auburn sports show no improvement in 2013.
With a new lease on his stay as Auburn's athletic director, Jacobs' plan for enhancing the game-day experience at Auburn begins with making sure there is a winning product on the field.
"His (Gogue) expectations are high – and I intend to meet them," Jacobs said. "What comes next sits squarely on my shoulders."
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The wave of attrition is a bit alarming, to an extent, but it shouldn’t be much of a surprise for those who follow Michigan Wolverines football.
During the past couple of months, a handful of players have fled Ann Arbor for greener pastures, leaving some to ask the obvious question of “Why”?
For starters, it’s not because there is “something negative going on” within the program, at least from what we can tell now. No, the reduction of personnel is a direct result of coach Brady Hoke’s recruiting.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
When analyzing who left, the situation becomes clear: They’re players who wouldn’t have much of an impact on the field, and they’re also players who are being replaced by younger, stronger, faster and, simply put, better stock.
Without ever playing a down for Michigan, freshman linebacker Kaleb Ringer departed Hoke’s program for Ferris State. The formerly 3-star-ranked prep was talented, sure. But the Wolverines are bringing in the likes of Michael Ferns, a 4-star linebacker (2014), who will most certainly contribute to giving guys like Ringer time on the bench.
Reserve linebacker Mike Jones, a senior, saw action on special teams during his time with the Wolverines. However, the seasoned collegiate veteran would have a hard time cracking the starting rotation this fall, even with stud Jake Ryan out with an ACL injury.
Youngsters like Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan are making sure that there is a healthy competition for the starting roles—and that’s just what defensive coordinator Greg Mattison wants. There is no room for anything but that now that Michigan is shelving 4- and 5-star recruits at a breakneck pace.
Senior defensive back Marvin Robinson won’t be around for 2013, either. Although he left Lake Region High (Eagle Lake, Fla.) as a 4-star sensation and top-20 player at his position of the 2010 class, he hasn’t impressed Michigan’s coaching staff enough to gain favor over other members of the secondary, like Blake Countess, Courtney Avery, Raymon Taylor, Thomas Gordon and Jarrod Wilson.
Out With the Old, in With the New
The departures directly coincide with incoming talent.
Ben Gedeon, a 4-star prep from Hudson High (Hudson, Ohio) is on his way to Michigan this fall. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Gedeon has the frame of a should-be successful Big Ten linebacker.
Had Jones stayed, he would have struggled to leapfrog Gedeon on the depth chart. As a senior, that’s a difficult pill to swallow. Leaving Michigan was a perfectly understandable decision for Jones to make. The same goes for Ringer.
Competing with Taylor, Avery and Countess and the rest is a difficult task, but throw in Jourdan Lewis, Delano Hill and Ross Douglas—each of whom are 4-star defensive backs—and Robinson was staring at an upward climb.
And don’t forget about Dymonte Thomas, who could end up starting this fall. The 4-star safety out of Marlington High (Alliance, Ohio) was the No. 80-rated player of the 2013 class, according to 247Sports.com’s composite rankings.
How Attrition Impacts Wolverines Moving Forward
Athletes who fail to improve are typically passed by—that’s the nature of the business. With the way Michigan is recruiting, it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect others to jump ship in the future, either.
Michigan’s 2013 class was ranked No. 5 in the nation, according to 247Sports.com—that spree, alone, brought in 27 new faces for coach Hoke to supervise and develop. Competition won’t be light, so the chances of each of those 27 staying all four years are slim.
Look at the 2014 class, already packed with talent at wide receiver with 4-star playmaker Drake Harris joining the fold.
Sophomore Jerald Robinson left Michigan prior to the Wolverines’ Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina. As an upperclassman, Robinson would have been foolish to think that his job was safe—not only due to Harris, but also because of the arrival of 2013 talents JaRon Dukes, Da’Mario Jones and Csont’e York—each 6-foot-plus, 190-something-pounders that better fit offensive coordinator Al Borges’ needs in terms of size at position.
Robinson entered Michigan with similar credentials as the aforementioned; he was a 3-star prospect and had good size at 6’2” and 175 pounds. But programs like Michigan are always on the hunt for the next best thing, so considering Dukes, Jones and York safe and sound, at least at this juncture, wouldn’t be the wisest choice.
They’ll encounter hurdles, too. That’s how the game goes.
No Need to Panic
Racing to a knee-jerk reaction would be a mistake. Just because departures have been common since the conclusion of the 2012 regular season doesn’t mean that Michigan’s coaching staff is doing something wrong—it means it’s doing something right.
And by “doing something right,” that means Hoke’s associates are doing their jobs—and they’re doing them well.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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But why is O’Brien so confident?
The NCAA sanctions placed on Penn State still allow players to transfer to another FBS school without sitting out the year.
This offer was obviously very enticing to some players last year, including Silas Redd and Justin Brown most notably.
So what makes this year different, and more specifically what are the best reasons why players should stay?
Here’s a list that starts with the present then leads to how staying in Happy Valley can affect a player’s future.
Robert Anae has revamped a formerly hindered offense and turned it into a high-tempo unit. The offense should show much improvement, but it is not possible to have a successful team without good players.
BYU boasts some very talented athletes on the offensive side of the ball this year and could turn their talents into something special. They may not be Heisman candidates or potential top-5 picks, but they will have a big impact on the Cougar team, and here are a few of them.
New head coach Gus Malzahn will quickly turn the Auburn Tigers around for the better in 2013.
For starters, it can't get much worse coming off a 3-9 campaign last fall, including zero SEC victories.
After such a frustrating season in 2012, getting a strong recruiting class is quite impressive. Plus, Auburn was the only team ranked inside the top 15 that finished below .500.
Factor in Malzahn leading the Arkansas State Red Wolves to a record of 9-3 and a Sun Belt conference title. His team also went on to take the GoDaddy.com Bowl over Kent State 17-13 after he had joined Auburn.
Retreat further back to February of 2011 and ESPN.com's Chris Low had Malzahn listed as one of the SEC's best recruiters. Unsurprisingly, that trend held true with his current class.
Malzahn also made a great coaching move by reeling in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson shortly after he was hired. Johnson enters with plenty of previous SEC experience and believes Auburn's current defense has great potential.
As written by James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser, Johnson has set expectations:
Johnson was pleased with his squad after the conclusion of spring practice and believes the group he is inheriting is better than those he had in his first years at Mississippi State (2004) and South Carolina (2008).
“We made it clear to them it's going to be a new standard, and I think the reception has been good, the attitude has been good, the work habits have been good. We made a lot of progress,” Johnson said. “The biggest thing, I think, (is) there are more really good, solid SEC players on this defensive unit than were at either one of those two places I was at, especially the first year.
Now Auburn's 2013 schedule is quite brutal.
With the obvious tough matchups against LSU (away), Texas A&M (away), Georgia and Alabama, the Tigers' route to bowl season is in jeopardy. Other sound SEC contests versus Mississippi State and Ole Miss simply enhance the schedule's difficulty.
Fortunately, there is running back Tre Mason to rely on as he collected 1,002 rushing yards last fall and scored eight times. He also averaged 5.9 yards per carry, which maintaining that effectiveness will help set up the play-action pass.
Defensively, Auburn must get more production from Dee Ford up front. He recorded six sacks in 2012 but only 34 total tackles. The better Johnson's front line wins the immediate point of attack, the more Auburn wins on first and second down.
That then increases turnover opportunities for those in coverage regardless of the game situation.
In short, getting off the field on third down and minimizing turnovers offensively will have Auburn competing this fall. Combine that with a solid recruiting class and the Tigers are headed in the correct direction.
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