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Ohio State’s national title hopes took a slight hit on Monday, as running back Carlos Hyde was indefinitely suspended. The Columbus Dispatch reported Hyde was dismissed on Monday morning, which came after reports the running back had been involved in an incident at a bar. However, the school announced Hyde had been suspended later in the day.
Hyde’s suspension isn’t a huge blow to Ohio State, but it does take away one of the Big Ten’s top running backs. The senior ranked second on the team in rushing yards last season, recording 970 yards and 16 touchdowns on 185 attempts. Hyde will likely return at some point in 2013, but the suspension length could vary depending on the outcome of the investigation.
With Hyde out of the picture for now, the Buckeyes will lean on junior Rod Smith, sophomore Bri’onte Dunn and redshirt freshman Warren Ball. Incoming freshman Ezekiel Elliott is also expected to factor into the mix, while hybrid receiver/running back Jordan Hall will factor prominently into the offense.
There’s no question that Hyde will be missed, but if there was one position where Ohio State has depth, it’s at running back. And with quarterback Braxton Miller returning, the Buckeyes should remain one of the Big Ten’s top rushing attacks in 2013.
Losing Hyde for a short period of time isn’t going to derail Ohio State’s national title hopes, but this certainly isn’t something that coach Urban Meyer wanted to be dealing with just a month before the season starts.
Ohio State's Leading Returning Rushers for 2013 (outside of Carlos Hyde)
Maybe it’s because Tennessee fans sing it so many times during the course of one game, but it’s easy to forget Rocky Top wasn’t first played at Neyland Stadium until 1972.
Now, just imagine how many times the coach Gen. Robert Neyland would have inspired the band to kick into Rocky Top during his time as the Volunteers’ coach.
His tenure included Tennessee’s rise to prominence, a national championship season, an entire regular season full of shutouts. Certainly, Neyland’s eras were among the best in Tennessee history. Like many teams of their era, they were powered by grinding running backs and linemen who played on both sides of the ball.
Tennessee had pockets of success after Neyland, but reclaimed national power status under Philip Fulmer. By then, Tennessee had one of the greatest passing quarterbacks in the history of the game in Peyton Manning. A decade after the national championship, though, Tennessee would reach new lows.
BEST TIMES TO BE A TENNESSEE FAN
National championships: 1
Coach: Philip Fulmer
Notable players: Peyton Manning, Tee Martin, Travis Henry, Peerless Price, Shaun Ellis, Al Wilson, Jamal Lewis, Deon Grant
Alum Philp Fulmer returned Tennessee to the national spotlight with a little help from Peyton Manning. Manning started all four seasons, passing for 11,201 career yards, but the Volunteers also churned out NFL running backs in Travis Henry and Jamal Lewis, plus receiver Peerless Price. The Vols could have made a case to be the SEC’s team of the ‘90s if not for their Achilles’ heel Florida, who defeated Manning in all four meetings. Tennessee got over that hump in 1998, defeating the Gators 20-17 and then got a fortunate fumble from Arkansas’ Clint Stoerner to win the SEC. The Vols then defeated Florida State 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl for the first BCS championship and the first title in school history since 1951.
National championships: 0
Coach: Gen. Robert Neyland
Notable players: Bowden Wyatt, Eddie Molinski, George Cafego, Bob Suffridge
Sure, teams scored at a lower rate in this era, but Tennessee managed to shut out 15 consecutive opponents from Nov. 5, 1938 until a 14-0 loss to USC in the 1941 Rose Bowl. Linemen Bob Suffridge and Eddie Molinski earned All-America honors five times between them, with Molinski anchoring the 1939 defense and Suffridge becoming one of the best pulling single-wing guards. This era included Tennessee’s first three bowl game with the Orange, Rose and Sugar.
National championships: 0
Coach: Gen. Robert Neyland (right)
Notable players: Gene McEver, Beattie Feathers, Bobby Dodd, Herman Hickman
The Volunteers put their program on the map with an upset of Alabama in 1928 in which Tide coach Wallace Wade was so confident he told UT he’d end the game early if it got out of hand. Tennessee became a national power in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s with a pair of halfbacks (McEver and Feathers), a quarterback (Dodd, who became a College Football Hall of Fame coach) and a guard (Hickman). This, of course, began the reign of Tennessee’s top coach in school history in Gen. Robert Neyland, hired in 1926. Tennessee had five undefeated seasons in a seven-season span.
National championships: 1
Coach: Gen. Robert Neyland
Notable players: Hank Lauricella, John Michels, Doug Atkins
Neyland’s return from World War II didn’t get off to a great start (25-13-3), but he proved he still had it at the start of the 50s. Though Tennessee only won a share of the SEC title once during this era, it coincided with the Volunteers’ first national championship in 1951, which would stand as their only title until 1998.
WORST TIMES TO BE A TENNESSEE FAN
Coaches: Philip Fulmer, Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley
The dysfunction in Knoxville goes beyond losses on the football field, though there was plenty of that. Fulmer was unceremoniously forced out of his job after 15 years, replaced by the young and brash Lane Kiffin. Tennessee fans loved his bravado at first, believing Fulmer had made the program stale in the increasingly competitive SEC. Kiffin bolted after one season, and his one standout recruiting class crumbled with player transfers, academic casualties and legal issues. Dooley’s watch included a 4-19 SEC record and the end of UT’s 26-game win streak over Kentucky. The basketball program also saw one of its most successful coaches, Bruce Pearl, fired amid NCAA violations. As if the bumblings in football and men’s basketball weren’t enough, Tennessee’s beacon of stability, women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, retired after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.
Coaches: Bowden Wyatt, Jim McDonald, Doug Dickey
Tennessee slipped into a period of mediocrity, going seven seasons without a bowl game. These lean years still produced middle guard Steve DeLong, who won the Outland Trophy in 1964.
For the first time in a couple of years, Big 12 Media Days didn’t have to deal much with realignment questions. With the immediate future secure, the conference is working on its branding, which includes a new logo.
This logo was released by the conference today and is expected to take over as the official mark of the Big 12 by next July.
NFL training camps have begun, which means the battle for roster spots has started anew. Players aren’t the only ones who need to worry about job security, however, as there’s generally no hotter seat in the league than the one belonging to the head coach.
Over the last two seasons, 13 teams have changed coaches, including one team (Jacksonville) twice. Given that sample size, it’s reasonable to assume that one or more current head coaches will join the unemployment line at some point this season. Here is our list of the coaches who really need to win this fall if they want to keep their job.
1. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Unless you’re winning Super Bowls, and even then there are few guarantees, “job security” are two words that don’t really seem to be a part of Jerry Jones’ vocabulary. The outspoken owner/general manager of “America’s Team” makes it clear that a successful season comes down to one thing – him holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end.
It has been 17 years since the Cowboys’ last Super Bowl title back in 1995, and what’s worse is that the Cowboys haven’t even been in the playoffs the past three seasons. Garrett, who took over halfway through the 2010 season, is 21-19 as he enters his third full one as the head coach. He has led his team to a 16-16 mark over the past two seasons and Jones has made it clear that won’t cut it this year.
Jones signed quarterback Tony Romo, who is just 1-3 in his career in the playoffs, to a six-year contract extension in March, so he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was replaced by 73-year-old Monte Kiffin, who is switching the Cowboys’ from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme. The past several Cowboys’ drafts have produced very few starters on the current roster.
While all of the aforementioned moves and decisions were made primarily by Jones, he’s not the one who will be held accountable if the Cowboys don’t fare better than 8-8 this season. The buck may stop with Jones, but it’s Garrett whose job is on the line this fall.
2. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
There have been no recent Super Bowl guarantees from the normally boisterous Ryan, but that’s what happens when your team goes 14-18 over the past two seasons. Since leading the Jets to back-to-back AFC title games in his first two seasons, Ryan’s team has gone the opposite direction and become primarily a punching bag for both the local and national media.
That’s the price you pay for coaching the least successful of the two teams based in the biggest media capital of the world, and especially when you provide them with fodder such as last season’s Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow quarterback drama.
Tebow is no longer on the Jets’ roster, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any sort of quarterback controversy. For the second straight training camp, Sanchez and Ryan and the rest of the team will have to endure the barrage of questions about the battle between the incumbent starter and his latest competition, second-round pick Geno Smith.
The bottom line for Ryan is he needs training camp to figure out who his quarterback is going to be, especially with a new offensive coordinator (Marty Mornhinweg) calling the plays. Forget about any Super Bowl or any other sort of guarantees coming from Ryan’s mouth this season. He just needs to focus on getting his team ready to compete and win more than six games in 2013, or he can pretty much guarantee he will be out of a job.
3. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
In 2011, Schwartz led the Lions to a 10-6 mark and their first playoff berth since 1999. Outside of that season, however, he’s 12-36, including a discouraging 4-12 record in 2012. Injuries played a large role in last season’s collapse, but so did turnovers (-16 differential, 30th in NFL), the lack of a running game and a defense that gave up more than 27 points per contest.
The Lions made significant changes during the offseason, both in regards to player personnel and on the coaching staff. Defense was the focus of the draft while running back Reggie Bush was the big free-agent addition.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford also recently signed a contract extension, meaning both he and record-setting wide receiver Calvin Johnson are locked up for years to come. Now it’s up to Schwartz to show that 2011 was no fluke if he wants to be a part of the Lions’ future too.
4. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Rivera is just 13-19 in his first two seasons with the Panthers, but they did finish 2012 strong by winning their final four games. Quarterback Cam Newton is entering his third season and the Panthers don’t lack for options at running back. The defense showed significant signs of improvement last season, finishing 10th overall in yards allowed, and added to its defensive line depth through the draft.
Put it all together and it appears this team is on the upswing. Being in the same division with expected Super Bowl contender Atlanta and a New Orleans team that gets head coach Sean Payton back makes the playoffs seem perhaps too optimistic for the Panthers this season. However, any significant steps backwards from their 7-9 showing a year ago may result in new general manager Dave Gettleman looking for a new head coach after the season.
5. Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders went from 8-8 in 2011 to just 4-12 last season, Allen’s first as a head coach on any level. The roster went through significant changes during the offseason, and there’s no disputing that this team is a long ways from playoff contention.
With as many holes as this team appears to have, starting first and foremost with quarterback, one would think the Raiders would give Allen time to mold the roster to his liking and then see what he can do with it. That said, the words coaching and continuity haven’t been used together often when it comes to the Raiders. Since 1995 the only head coach that lasted more than two full seasons in Oakland was Jon Gruden (1998-2001). And everyone remembers what happened after Gruden left the Raiders, right?
It’s only fitting that Gruden won his only Super Bowl title the very season after he left Oakland. Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season, then promptly led the Buccaneers to victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. Given the current state of the Raiders,
6. Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans
After leading the Titans to a 9-7 record and just missing the playoffs in 2011, Munchak’s team slipped to 6-10 last season. The Titans were active in free agency and also used the draft to shore up the offensive line and add depth to its defense. The team’s success in 2013, however, will likely come down to the quality of quarterback play they get from 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker. Locker is entering his second full season as the Titans’ starter and he needs to show them he can get the job done on a consistent basis.
Munchak is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who has been with the Oilers/Titans franchise since he was the eighth overall pick of the 1982 NFL Draft. Owner Bud Adams has seen Munchak grow from a first-round pick into an NFL coach and clearly thinks highly of Munchak since he was the one he hand-picked to replace Jeff Fisher, the franchise’s all-time winningest head coach.
Adams also is 90 years old and hasn’t seen his team make the playoffs since the 2008 season. This man wants to win a Super Bowl and knows he doesn’t have many years left to fulfill that goal. This sense of urgency and borderline desperation may be just enough to trump loyalty and sentimentality, especially if Munchak’s team doesn’t win more than six games this fall.
7. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Frazier’s team rebounded from a disheartening 3-13 campaign in 2011 to a 10-6 season and playoff berth in ’12. Running back Adrian Peterson’s historic 2,000-yard campaign had a lot to do with the team’s success, but several other young players emerged and provided contributions last season too.
Following the season, the Vikings exercised the fourth-year option on Frazier’s contract, which means he his now signed through the 2014 season. The team made some moves during free agency and added more young talent, especially on defense, through the draft, but it also lost some key members of last season’s roster. Expectations have changed now in Minnesota, so Frazier cannot afford to just sit back and rest on last season’s success, especially given his contract situation.
8. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are coming off of back-to-back Wild Card appearances, marking the first time the team has played in consecutive postseasons since 1981-82. So why is Lewis, who is entering his 11th season as the head coach, on the hot seat?
Considering Lewis’ recent success (winning nine or more games in three of the last four seasons) and the fact he is signed for two more seasons, he may have noting to worry about. On the other hand, the Bengals weren’t able to win either of their Wild Card matchups these past two seasons.
With a solid quarterback in Andy Dalton, an All-Pro weapon in A.J. Green and a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL in 2012 all in place, Lewis knows that the expectation level for his team has been raised. Simply making the playoffs, which was a pipe dream during “The Bungles” years, is no longer the goal for this breed of Bengals.
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The owner isn’t happy.
The coach is on the hot seat.
The quarterback needs to produce.
So what else is new in Dallas?
It was a long, long time ago. The Cowboys’ last Super Bowl-winning season was so long ago that Bill Clinton was president, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder and the World Wide Web still was in its infancy. It was so long ago that Cowboys third-year left tackle Tyron Smith was five years old.
Yes, indeed, those were the good ol’ days in Dallas, when Lombardi Trophies seemed to grow on trees.
The Cowboys are now in the midst of their longest championship drought in team history. It’s been 17 years, and counting, since their last title.
The Cowboys’ Lombardi Trophies are dusty, their rings tarnished. They are 140–141, including a 2–7 postseason record, since their last championship season of 1995. They are what they are — a mediocre franchise. They have not been to the playoffs since 2009, going 22–26 the past three seasons combined. The Cowboys lost win-or-go-home games in Week 17 each of the past two seasons.
“We are in a rut that is akin to lying dead in a coffin,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says.
Yet, that hasn’t stopped Jones from hoping to party like it’s 1995. Jones believes. He believes in Tony Romo. He believes in Jason Garrett. He believes in Monte Kiffin. He believes another championship is awaiting the Cowboys this season.
Then again, Jones, an eternal optimist, also believed in Quincy Carter and Dave Campo and Brian Stewart and every other quarterback, head coach and defensive coordinator to call Valley Ranch home for even a season. Every year begins with Super Bowl expectations for the Cowboys, and lately, every season has ended in the blame game. They are a broken record.
The Cowboys have had 16 starting quarterbacks — including Garrett and current quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson — as well as six head coaches, eight offensive coordinators and seven defensive coordinators in the past 17 years, but only one general manager. That’s why Jones, as owner/general manager, has received much of the criticism for the team’s failures.
The Cowboys’ drafts from 2006-11 have produced only eight current or projected starters. Not one pick remains from the 2009 draft, and nickel back Orlando Scandrick is the sole representative from the Class of 2008.
Despite his failures as general manager, Jones isn’t going anywhere.
“I pretty much go with what I did the night I bought the team,” Jones says. “I said I was going to be the GM. … It would be a facade if someone else was sitting in my shoes and someone thought they were spending the money. It would be deception. I would grant you the decisions that have been made over the years have not produced a Super Bowl, two Super Bowls or three Super Bowls that I would like to have been a part of. The only thing I am going to do is keep trying, and then make sure I get the credit when we do get that one. Y’all are going to give it to me, aren’t you?”
Jones had promised to make this an uncomfortable offseason at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters. But it was something of an offseason of discontent for Cowboys fans as Jones retained Garrett, who became head coach when Wade Phillips was fired midway through the 2010 season.
The Cowboys gave Tony Romo a six-year, $108 million extension, making him the sixth-highest-paid player in the NFL despite his 1–6 record in win-or-go-home games. They franchised Anthony Spencer, who will make the move from outside linebacker to defensive end. They made no big moves in free agency.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was the scapegoat, fired by the Cowboys after they decided on a shift to the 4-3 scheme. Kiffin, 73, is one of the fathers of the Tampa-2 defense, along with Tony Dungy. Five other new assistants have joined him on the Garrett’s staff.
But Kiffin was not greeted by Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch as he was when he arrived in Tampa Bay as defensive coordinator in 1996. DeMarcus Ware, Spencer, Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are building blocks, good enough that Kiffin believes the Cowboys can make a quick, successful transition from the 3-4.
“We are not the 1996 Buccaneers by any sense,” Kiffin says. “…We have a good nucleus here for a 4-3 defense, but we still need to get better, no doubt about it.”
Since the Cowboys aren’t the second coming of Doomsday, having allowed the most yards in team history last season, Kiffin might be given the benefit of the doubt. But the honeymoon is over for Garrett and Romo.
Romo, 33, ranks first in team history in completion percentage (64.7) and touchdown passes (177). He is second in career attempts (3,240) and completions (2,097). He is 55–38 as a starter since taking over for Drew Bledsoe in the middle of the 2006 season.
But Romo compares more to Danny White with a 1–3 playoff record than he does to Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman. He could not even get the Cowboys to the playoffs the past three seasons, going 17–21 as the starter. Still, the Cowboys compensated Romo like the franchise quarterback they believe he is, giving him the second-most guaranteed money in NFL history at $55 million.
“We have great belief of Tony Romo as our quarterback,” Garrett says. “Tony has won a lot of big games for us to get us to the point where we can play for the division in Week 17 in consecutive years. We all know that we want to take the next step, and Tony is going to be a big part of that going forward. I think you have to understand the whole body of work. I think you have to understand that winning is where we get evaluated. He’s done a lot of great things for this franchise. We’re excited about him being our quarterback.”
Garrett has spent the offseason considering relinquishing the play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator, Bill Callahan. Garrett has been the play-caller for Romo since 2007, when he was hired as offensive coordinator, and there is speculation that Jones is forcing the move. But Garrett and Jones repeatedly have insisted that it is Garrett’s decision.
Garrett, 21–19 as a head coach, might be down to his last chance in Dallas.
“This thing has been a big disappointment the last couple of years,” Jones says. “I’m not satisfied. We’ve got to start knocking on the door. So there’s a lot of resolve and not a lot of patience. That’s where we are, and Jason knows that.
“…I don’t want to go 8–8 (in 2013).”
Written by Charean Williams for Athlon Sports. Visit our online store to order your 2013 Pro Football preview magazine to get in-depth team previews and more analysis on the 2013 NFL season.
The Egg Bowl matchup between Ole Miss and Mississippi State should have plenty of added interest around the nation this year, as the heated rivalry has moved to Thanksgiving night.
After winning three straight games in this series, Mississippi State fell 41-24 to the Rebels in Oxford last year.
The scene shifts back to Starkville this year, and there’s some rumblings Mississippi State might wear a gold helmet for the Thanksgiving night affair.
As this photo by @BonnieBlue_Bell shows, the Bulldogs could be sporting some rather shiny and gold helmets for the Egg Bowl.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 22.
• It's late July, meaning that football season is a little over a month away. Here's a cheerleader gallery to while away the dog days.
• The most athletic couples in sports. Undoubtedly, agents are already lining up to sign their spawn.
• Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested for barking at a police dog. Will he now find himself in Will Muschamp's doghouse? (rimshot)
• Deadspin brings the goods today. First, there's George Brett eating baby food in slow motion. Then you have jiggling breasts at a Brewers game — just not the kind you want to see. Finally, there's no brawl quite like a badminton brawl. See for yourself.
• MMQB, Peter King's vanity project, has launched. Gotta admit, I'll be a frequent visitor.
• The SEC Media Days offered the usual coach-speak and pablum. But we had a translator on hand who tells us what they really meant.
• A sneaky Red Sox fan conned a Yankees coach out of a foul ball. Well played, son.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons this offseason.
First, there was an arrest on June 16 for punching a bouncer. Then on Sunday morning, Morrison was arrested for harassing a police animal. Yes, you read that correctly.
As a result of Morrison’s arrest, he has received the Taiwanese animation treatment. And there are appearances by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Florida coach Will Muschamp. Needless to say, this is worth just over a minute of your time.
The Mark Stoops era at Kentucky is already off to a fast start, as the Wildcats have one of the nation’s top recruiting classes. And as Stoops looks to build an identity and breathe some life into the program, Kentucky could be looking at updating its helmets and jerseys for 2013.
This photo tweeted by recruit Matt Elam showcases Kentucky’s matte black helmet and gray jersey.
Is it just something for show? Or will we see it in a game this year?
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze created plenty of buzz on the recruiting trail with a top-10 recruiting class. But are the Rebels going to make some more noise in the helmet department?
This photo showcases a chrome Ole Miss helmet (which is a pretty sharp look). However, it’s uncertain if this look will be worn in a game this year, or if this is just a concept look created for recruiting purposes.
Either way, it’s a shiny (and potentially awesome) look for Ole Miss.
Now this is a baseball fan. During a recent Cincinnati Reds game at the Great American Ball Park, this die-hard fan was spotted sporting a color-coordinated mohawk while taking in the action. No word on why he didn't dye his arm and back hair red.
Determining the worst coaching tenures for any period is no easy task. Each program has its own set of hurdles to overcome, and all coaches aren’t on equal footing when they take over a job.
In forming Athlon’s list of the top 25 worst coaching tenures of the BCS era, we placed an emphasis on what shape the program is before the coach arrived, how it fared during his tenure, and the short-term effect after his departure. Programs like Eastern Michigan or New Mexico State have traditionally been a difficult place to establish a winning tradition, so it’s hard to punish coaches from both schools (or similar circumstances), even if their record is uninspiring. On the other side, programs like Southern Miss or East Carolina have a track record of success recently. Which makes the 0-12 by Ellis Johnson and 3-20 by John Thompson among the worst tenures of the BCS era (since 1998).
Also of note, only tenures that have been completed factored into this ranking. So any active tenures going into the 2013 season were not considered for this article.
College Football’s Worst 25 Tenures of the BCS Era
1. Mike Locksley, New Mexico
Record: 2-26 (2009-11)
Locksley was regarded as one of the nation’s top assistant coaches and recruiters when he left Illinois to join New Mexico in 2009. The Washington, D.C. native was able to attract some talent to Albuquerque, but it didn’t translate into results on the field. Locksley’s tenure at New Mexico lasted only three years, with his final season ending after the fourth game. Locksley won just two Mountain West games during his tenure and was suspended for one game due to an altercation with an assistant coach.
2. Larry Porter, Memphis
Record: 3-21 (2010-11)
Porter’s tenure is another example of why programs should be reluctant to hire ace recruiters with no head coaching experience. The former Memphis running back was hired as the Tigers’ head coach in 2010 and lasted only two years. Porter didn’t inherit a disaster at Memphis, as Tommy West went 15-23 over his final three years and played in a bowl game in 2008. Porter’s teams were largely uncompetitive, and his three wins came against MTSU (6-7 in 2010), Austin Peay (a FCS opponent) and Tulane (2-11 in 2011). After Porter’s unsuccessful tenure, Memphis got it right by hiring Justin Fuente, who went 4-8 in his first season with the Tigers.
3. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Record: 0-12 (2012)
There aren’t many one-year stints as a college football head coach. But it was clear to Southern Miss after just one season that Johnson wasn’t the right fit for the program. The Golden Eagles turned in arguably their worst season in school history, finishing with an 0-12 mark, with the offense ranking 110th nationally in scoring and the defense finishing 113th in points allowed. Southern Miss was replacing a handful of key contributors from its 2011 squad, but the Golden Eagles still had enough talent in the program to compete for a bowl bid. Johnson is an excellent defensive coordinator, but Southern Miss clearly made the right call to pull the plug after one season.
4. John Thompson, East Carolina
Record: 3-20 (2003-04)
After Steve Logan was fired in 2002, the Pirates made a big mistake by hiring Thompson. In the two years prior to Thompson’s arrival, East Carolina went 10-14. And in two seasons under Thompson, the Pirates slumped to 3-20. However, the program rebounded under Skip Holtz in 2005, winning five games and then seven in ‘06. Thompson is another case of a good coordinator that was not ready to be a head coach. And his record looks even worse when you consider two of his victories came against Army with the other one being Tulane.
5. Rob Ianello, Akron
Record: 2-22 (2010-11)
Prior to taking over at Akron, Ianello had no coordinator experience and was coming off a four-year stint on Charlie Weis’ staff at Notre Dame. The results were disastrous for the Zips. Ianello won just one game in each of his two years in Akron and went winless in MAC play in 2011. The Zips beat Buffalo in 2010 – a Bulls team that went 2-10 – and VMI in ‘11 under Ianello’s watch. Although Ianello’s tenure was a failure, the school deserves poor marks for firing him on the way to his mother’s funeral.
6. Greg Robinson, Syracuse
Record: 10-37 (2005-08)
Although Paul Pasqualoni has struggled at Connecticut, he went 26-23 over his last four seasons at Syracuse from 2001-04. While Robinson wasn’t inheriting a roster full of talent, he wasn’t getting a bare cupboard either. The Orange went from being a consistent bowl team to one that struggled just to get a couple of wins a year under Robinson’s watch. The Orange never won more than one Big East game in a single year under Robinson, and he recorded the program’s only double-digit losing seasons.
7. Todd Dodge, North Texas
Record: 6-37 (2007-10)
You have to credit North Texas for at least thinking outside of the box with Dodge’s hire. After being a successful high school coach in Texas, Dodge was supposed to turn North Texas back into a Sun Belt power. Instead, the Mean Green nosedived into being one of the worst teams in the nation. North Texas went 6-37 under Dodge’s watch and never won more than one conference game from 2007-10. Considering where North Texas is on college football’s food chain, a hire like Dodge is worth the risk. However, the Mean Green are still trying to dig out from his tenure, as Dan McCarney is just 9-15 over the last two years.
8. Turner Gill, Kansas
Record: 5-19 (2010-11)
Surprising. That’s the one word that comes to mind when mentioning Gill’s tenure at Kansas. Although his record at Buffalo – not an easy place to win – wasn’t overly impressive (20-30), he did lead the Bulls to a bowl game and a MAC Championship in 2008. Gill inherited a Kansas team that went 5-7 in Mark Mangino’s last season (2009), but the Jayhawks regressed in 2010-11. Kansas won just one Big 12 game under Gill’s watch – a 52-45 victory over Colorado – and finished 2011 on a 10-game losing streak. Considering the high expectations surrounding his arrival, Gill might be one of the most disappointing hires of the BCS era.
9. Carl Franks, Duke
Record: 7-45 (1999-2003)
It’s not easy to maintain success at Duke. But it’s also hard to ignore a 7-45 record over five years. Franks came to Durham from Florida, as he served as an assistant with Steve Spurrier from 1990-98 in Gainesville. Franks also had experience at Duke, as he played for the Blue Devils and later coached there from 1987-89. The high point of Franks’ tenure was a 3-8 mark in 1999, but that record was followed up by back-to-back 0-11 seasons. The Blue Devils never won an ACC game in Franks’ final full three years at Duke.
10. Ted Roof, Duke
Record: 6-45 (2003-07)
As mentioned with Carl Franks, winning at Duke is no easy task. However, the Blue Devils can be much more competitive than they were under Franks and Roof. After taking over for Franks in 2003, Roof guided Duke to a 2-3 finish, including a 30-22 win over rival North Carolina. However, the momentum was short-lived, as the Blue Devils won only four games over the next four years. Duke also went winless in ACC play from 2005-07 under Roof’s guidance.
11. Jon Embree, Colorado
Record: 4-21 (2011-12)
Even though Embree was a Colorado alum, he was a questionable hire from the start. The former Buffaloes’ tight end had no coordinator or head coach experience and was serving as a tight ends’ coach for the Redskins prior to his arrival in Boulder in 2011. Embree didn’t inherit the best situation following Dan Hawkins, but Colorado showed little improvement under his watch. The Buffaloes went 3-11 in Embree’s first year and managed to win two out of their final three games. However, Colorado was arguably one of the worst teams of the BCS era in 2012, losing to Colorado State and Sacramento State to start the year and was demolished by Fresno State 69-14 in Week 3. Embree played a lot of young players and dealt with some injuries to key personnel, but the Buffaloes struggled mightily and his 1-11 season is the worst in Colorado history.
12. Kevin Steele, Baylor
Record: 9-36 (1999-2002)
Steele is a highly regarded defensive assistant but had a dismal stint as a head coach at Baylor. The South Carolina native was hired at Baylor in 1999, after spending four years as an assistant with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Prior to his arrival in Waco, Steele had no head coaching experience – and it clearly showed. The Bears had three consecutive losing seasons before Steele’s debut, but Baylor backtracked under his watch. The Bears went 1-10 in 1999 and then 8-26 in the next three years. Steele’s biggest blunder came against UNLV in 1999, as he chose to run a play instead of kneeling down with 12 seconds left. Baylor fumbled on that play, and the turnover was returned by UNLV for a touchdown, giving the Rebels a 27-24 victory.
13. Bobby Wallace, Temple
Record: 19-71 (1998-2004)
After leading North Alabama to three Division II championships from 1993-95, Wallace appeared to be the right coach to make Temple competitive in the Big East. He managed to make some progress, as the Owls won four games for three consecutive years. Although four victories may not seem like much, Temple had not won more than three games in a season since 1990. However, Wallace didn’t make enough progress under his watch, and the Owls were dismissed from the Big East after the 2004 season. Temple was forced to play 2005 as an Independent and posted a dreadful 0-11 record. The highlight of Wallace’s tenure? A 28-24 win over then-Big East memberVirginia Tech in Blacksburg in 1998.
14. Vic Koenning, Wyoming
Record: 5-29 (2000-02)
When Koenning was promoted to replace Dana Dimel, Wyoming had put together seven consecutive years of six or more wins, including a 10-2 mark in 1996. However, Koenning was unable to continue that momentum, and the Cowboys fell into the bottom of the Mountain West. Under Koenning’s watch, Wyoming went 5-29, which included only one win in conference play and two others against FCS opponents. Koenning is a solid defensive coordinator but was overmatched as a head coach.
15. Terry Shea, Rutgers
Record: 11-44 (1996-2000)
Shea’s tenure started just outside of the BCS era, but his three years in the required timeframe were a struggle. Rutgers went 2-20 in his first two seasons and recorded a 9-24 mark over the final three years. Shea did manage to go 5-6 in 1998 but was blown out by Temple in 1999 and 2000 and went a combined 4-18 from 1999-2000. The cupboard wasn’t full for Shea when he arrived at Rutgers, as Doug Graber didn’t fare better than .500 in his final three seasons. However, Shea did little to build on the mild success Graber had in 1991 (6-5) and ‘92 (7-4).
16. Stan Parrish, Ball State
Record: 6-19 (2008-10)
If this was a list of all-time worst coaching tenures, Parrish’s 2-30-1 record at Kansas State from 1986-88 would rank near the top. While Parrish’s tenure at Ball State was bad, it wasn’t quite as bad as his previous stop at Kansas State. The Cardinals went 6-19 under his watch, which was a clear backtrack from the progress made under Brady Hoke (19-7 in 2007-08). The Cardinals also lost two games to FCS opponents under Parrish.
17. Todd Berry, Army
Record: 5-35 (2000-03)
Considering how difficult it has been to win at Army, it’s unfair to punish Berry too much in these rankings. However, his tenure in West Point was largely uncompetitive. Berry was hired to resurrect a program that had five losing seasons over the last six years, but he struggled mightily in his tenure, winning just one game in his debut season and posting a 1-11 mark in 2002. Berry was dismissed after an 0-6 start in 2003. Army is not an easy place to maintain success, but Berry’s decision to run a pro-style offense proved to be too difficult of a transition for a program that was acclimated to option attacks.
18. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Record: 15-21 (2010-12)
Tennessee was caught in a bad spot when the Seahawks hired Pete Carroll away from USC, which prompted Lane Kiffin to bolt Knoxville for Los Angeles. Kiffin’s mid-January move didn’t leave the Volunteers much time to find a new coach before Signing Day. Dooley came to Tennessee from Louisiana Tech after a 17-20 record in three years with the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech did make small gains under Dooley, which included a bowl game in 2008. However, he failed to bring much improvement to Knoxville, as the Volunteers went 15-21 under his watch and went 4-19 in SEC play. Considering the coaching turnover in Knoxville from Phil Fulmer to Kiffin to Dooley in just three years, Tennessee had to go through a lot of transition in a short time. However, Dooley winning just one SEC game in two years is simply unacceptable at a program that has all of the resources and tradition necessary to compete for SEC East titles.
19. Paul Wulff, Washington State
Record: 9-40 (2008-11)
At the time of his hire, Wulff seemed to be a good fit at Washington State. He was a former player with the Cougars and spent eight years at Eastern Washington, accumulating a 53-40 record. Wulff also took EWU to three playoff appearances. After a successful run under Mike Price, Washington State declined under Bill Doba, posting three losing seasons in five years. Wulff wasn’t inheriting a full cupboard, but the program wasn’t in terrible shape either. The Cougars were dreadful in Wulff’s first year, beating only Portland State and an 0-12 Washington team. Things didn’t get much better in year two, as Washington State went 1-11 and failed to win a Pac-12 game. The Cougars were more competitive in Wulff’s third season and won four games in 2011. However, that wasn’t enough for Wulff to return for 2012. Wulff’s tenure at Washington State ended with a dismal 4-32 record in Pac-12 play.
20. John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record: 4-8 (2012)
It’s unfair to pin all of Arkansas’ struggles in 2012 on Smith. The Razorbacks were left in a bad spot after Bobby Petrino was fired in April, and it’s no easy task finding a head coach in May for the upcoming season. No matter what coach was on the sidelines in Fayetteville last year, the transition from Petrino was going to cost Arkansas a couple of games. But after winning 21 games from 2010-11, the Razorbacks were one of college football’s biggest disappointments in 2012, and Smith has to shoulder a chunk of the blame. Arkansas’ 2012 season began to unravel in Week 2 after an overtime loss to ULM, and the Razorbacks were pummeled by Alabama 52-0 the following Saturday. Arkansas won three out of four games in the middle of the season, but it wasn’t enough. Considering the talent on last year’s team, Arkansas’ 2012 campaign will be one of the most disappointing in school history.
21. Jim Hofner, Buffalo
Record: 8-49 (2001-05)
Hofner came to Buffalo in 2001, which was shortly after the Bulls moved from the FCS to the FBS ranks. While the transition to the FBS wasn’t expected to be easy, Buffalo was largely uncompetitive under Hofner’s watch. The Bulls went 8-49 in his tenure and never won more than three games in a season. Buffalo had back-to-back 1-11 seasons from 2002-03, and Hofner finished his tenure with a dismal 1-10 mark. One of the few highlights of the Hofner era was a 36-6 win over Central Michigan in Brian Kelly’s first season.
22. Chuck Long, San Diego State
Record: 9-27 (2006-08)
Despite having a location in a fertile recruiting area, San Diego State has struggled to maintain success. After the failed Tom “Air” Craft era, the Aztecs made a splash by hiring Long from Oklahoma. Although Long was regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, San Diego State didn’t show much progress under his watch. The Aztecs went 3-9 in 2006, 4-8 in ‘07 and slipped to 2-10 in ‘08. The program also lost twice to FCS opponent Cal Poly under Long’s direction.
23. Tom Holmoe, California
Record: 9-31 (1998-2001)
Holmoe inherited a California team that was coming off a 6-6 mark in Steve Mariucci’s one and only season in Berkeley. The Golden Bears went 8-14 in Holmoe’s first two years but faded over the final three seasons. California went 4-7 in 1999 and then recorded a 4-18 mark over the final two years of Holmoe’s tenure. The Golden Bears failed to win a Pac-10 game in 2001 and their 1-10 overall mark is the worst in school history. California also ran into NCAA trouble after Holmoe’s tenure, as the program was forced to forfeit four wins from 1999 and was banned from postseason play in 2002 due to the use of ineligible players. Holmoe failed to beat Stanford once during his tenure, and the program quickly rebounded once Jeff Tedford was hired, winning seven games in 2002.
24. Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss
Record: 10-25 (2005-07)
Orgeron did a good job of assembling talent in Oxford, as his recruiting class in 2006 was ranked No. 15 nationally by Athlon Sports. But a good portion of the highlights from Orgeron’s tenure were on the recruiting trail. Ole Miss won only three SEC games from 2005-08 and never made a bowl appearance under Orgeron. Three of Orgeron’s wins came against Memphis and three more came against FCS opponents. In 2008, one year after Orgeron was fired, Houston Nutt went 9-4 and led the Rebels to a win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Orgeron was hired due to his recruiting ties, but he had no head coaching experience prior to his arrival in Oxford.
25. Walt Harris, Stanford
Record: 6-17 (2005-06)
After a respectable 52-44 mark in eight years with Pittsburgh from 1997-2004, Harris decided to leave the Steel City for the Farm. The veteran coach had a tough assignment taking over the program after Buddy Teevens went 10-23 in three years, but Stanford went 5-6 in Harris’ first year. However, things fell apart for Harris in his second season, as the Cardinal went 1-11 in 2006. Stanford’s offense struggled after quarterback Trent Edwards was lost for the year, but the Cardinal was largely uncompetitive all season. Harris caught a bad break with Edwards’ injury, but the program was headed in the wrong direction, and dismissing him after two years proved to be the right move.
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It all seems so obvious now, as if everyone could see the hand of destiny at work. But the truth is, when Christian Hackenberg showed up as a sophomore at Fork Union Military Academy, a private boarding school in Fork Union, Va., no one really knew what he could do, and no one expected him to claim the starting quarterback position in his first season.
Fork Union didn’t exactly need a savior. It already had a fine quarterback in Richard Quittenton, who had lifted the Blue Devils into the state playoffs the year before. All the coaching staff asked of Hackenberg was that he learn the offense while Quittenton — a Canadian native who is now at the University of Toronto — ran the show. They taught him to operate the hurry-up offense in the hope that he might be able to earn some playing time by focusing on a specific niche.
“It was a sped-up spread,” Fork Union coach Micky Sullivan says. “You just throw it — boom, boom, boom.”
As the season went on, those booms got bigger and more frequent. “Christian took that as his piece of the offense and got really good at it,” Sullivan says. “We realized as we progressed that maybe he gives us a better chance to win. And he grew as a leader going into the huddle as a sophomore. He accepted that mantle and grew with it.”
Fork Union went on to win the Virginia Independent Schools Division I title that year, and Hackenberg ended up growing into one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country. After throwing for 5,509 yards and 56 touchdowns, he became a consensus 5-star prospect and was ESPN.com’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2013.
When he signed with Penn State this past February after a whirlwind recruitment — the school hadn’t started seriously pursuing him until after Bill O’Brien and his staff took over in January 2012 — it was seen as a huge coup for the Nittany Lions. This is a program, after all, that is looking to remain competitive in the face of severe NCAA sanctions. Hackenberg’s signing sent a signal to other elite recruits that under O’Brien’s leadership, Penn State remains an attractive place to play football.
“I liked a lot of other schools,” Hackenberg says, “but I loved Penn State. It’s where I felt most comfortable and where I felt I could maximize my potential athletically and academically.”
But Hackenberg’s signing was more than just a symbolic victory for the Lions. With Matt McGloin gone after leading the Big Ten in passing yardage last season, Penn State needs one of its quarterback prospects to step forward in practice. Steven Bench, the only quarterback on the roster who had taken a snap, left the program after spring practice. Junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson, who enrolled last January, doesn’t have much experience running what O’Brien has described as “not the simplest system in the world.” So with no established favorite to overcome and O’Brien harboring few if any preconceptions about what he can or can’t do, Hackenberg will have an opportunity to compete for the starting spot in preseason camp.
“Certainly he’ll be in the mix,” O’Brien says. “At every single position, we are going to play the best players. … Christian will come in and we’ll teach him the offense and give him some reps and see how he does.”
After watching him seize the starting position at Fork Union, Sullivan expects Hackenberg to do just fine. “Knowing Christian,” he says, “I can’t imagine that he’s thinking in his head, ‘I’m gonna go to Penn State and redshirt.’ He’s thinking in his head, ‘What do I have to do? How quick can I get in there to learn as much as I can learn so that I can be ready to compete for the starting job?’”
Hackenberg, who is originally from Tamaqua, Pa., and whose father played quarterback at Division III Susquehanna about 60 miles east of University Park, committed to Penn State five months before the NCAA took action last July. He stayed committed even though the sanctions ensure that he will play in, at most, two bowl games during his career. And he continued to sit tight in January when O’Brien’s name came up in connection with NFL coaching vacancies in Cleveland and Philadelphia.
The drama surrounding Penn State made for an interesting recruitment, as Alabama, Miami and Florida, among others, were interested in seeing just how firm his verbal commitment really was. “It was a chore,” recruiting coordinator Charles London concedes. “There were some other schools coming after him. (His decision) is a testament to the relationship he built with our staff here.”
It’s also a testament to how quickly perceptions change. Under Joe Paterno, Penn State wasn’t known for developing quarterbacks. The only Nittany Lion quarterback to succeed in the NFL in the past decade has been Michael Robinson, and that’s been because Robinson was capable of playing running back when he entered the league in 2006. In seven pro seasons, he’s attempted only two passes.
The last Penn State quarterback to make it big in the NFL as a passer was Kerry Collins, who led the Lions to an undefeated season in 1994 and parlayed his success into a 17-year pro career. But after he left, the offense slipped, yielding a series of quarterbacks who never made any impact at the pro level.
Hurt by its inability to develop pro prospects at the position, Penn State struck out with coveted in-state quarterbacks like Chad Henne and Terrelle Pryor. And when it did land a blue-chipper — Anthony Morelli, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones all had either four or five stars from the recruiting services — things never seemed to work out.
Enter O’Brien. The Lions’ new coach came in with a résumé full of NFL experience and a relationship with Tom Brady that gave him instant credibility with recruits.
Once the new staff was in place, the pursuit of Hackenberg began. And now that it’s over, the Lions believe they may have found their quarterback of the future.
Is he the quarterback of the immediate future? O’Brien is leaving his options open. “When you play quarterback at Penn State, you have to really learn how to balance the classroom with being the best-prepared quarterback you can be, working in the weight room, studying the playbook, studying the game plan, your opponent, then obviously going to class, which is No. 1 and will always be No. 1 at Penn State,” he says.
“We think Christian is a guy who is going to come in here and do all those things.”
Written by Matt Herb for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Big Ten Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 Big Ten season.
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Georgia has won the SEC East in back-to-back seasons but is searching for its first conference title since 2005.
The Bulldogs return eight starters on offense, including one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Aaron Murray, along with running back Todd Gurley, receiver Malcolm Mitchell and tight end Arthur Lynch.
However, the defense is a work in progress with eight new starters stepping into the lineup. Georgia has plenty of young players to build around, including sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins and true freshman safety Tray Matthews. But this defense will be under the spotlight right away in 2013, as the Bulldogs play Clemson, South Carolina and LSU before their first game in October.
What will Georgia's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
Georgia's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
|8/31 at Clemson|
|9/7 South Carolina|
|9/21 North Texas|
|10/5 at Tennessee|
|10/19 at Vanderbilt|
|11/2 Florida (Jacksonville)|
|11/9 Appalachian State|
|11/16 at Auburn|
|11/30 at Georgia Tech|
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
My original picks had Georgia losing its first two games against Clemson and South Carolina. I reversed field on South Carolina even though the Gamecocks have taken the last three meetings. Marcus Lattimore saved some of his best games for the Bulldogs, and now he’s gone. That said, Georgia’s offense was largely ineffective against South Carolina a year ago. The Bulldogs need to figure out what went wrong. The opening game against Clemson is going to be an up-and-down the field game, but I can’t go against the Tigers in Death Valley here. After that brutal one-two punch to start the season, Georgia has a chance to pick up some wins before the Florida game. Honestly, I’d be more worried about the Vanderbilt game than LSU. LSU’s young defense will be great one day, but maybe not in September against the best offense in the SEC. The last time Georgia went to Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs won a close, heated game. And the Florida game, well, that game’s always wild, and Georgia has won two in a row. That’s tempting fate.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The development of Georgia’s defense will hold all of the cards for coach Mark Richt’s team in 2013. The Bulldogs have one of the nation’s top offenses, but the defense will have eight new starters. However, the Bulldogs ranked sixth in the SEC in points and yards allowed last year, so there’s plenty of room on defense to improve. The talent level is solid on defense, but it will take some time for all of the new faces to mesh. The suspension of safety/linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons is a big loss, especially against Clemson’s spread attack. With a rebuilding defense taking on the Tigers in Week 1 – not to mention a huge SEC East showdown against South Carolina in Week 2 – I think the Bulldogs open the year at 0-1. However, Georgia will win the showdown against the Gamecocks the following Saturday and will stumble only once (Florida) in SEC play. But if Georgia’s defense emerges as a strength, and the offensive line develops as expected, the Bulldogs will have an excellent chance at running the table and finishing 8-0 in conference games.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Georgia's offense is going to be electric. There are no weaknesses on that side of the ball. The same cannot be said for the defense. There is plenty of talent with names like Jordan Jenkins, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews stepping into starting roles. Yet, there is loads of inexperience on a unit that was 12th in the SEC in rushing defense a year ago and there is no time to ease these young Bulldog pups into the season. Clemson and South Carolina will put UGA in an 0-2 hole to start, but this team will get much better as the year goes along. Mark Richt has fought his way out of an 0-2 hole before and could have to do it again. Key swing games with LSU, Florida, Georgia Tech and at Vanderbilt give Georgia a much tougher schedule than South Carolina.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
The opener against Clemson has the potential to be a classic shootout. Clemson gets the edge thanks to early-season jitters with Georgia’s defense, which opens without suspended safety Josh Harvey-Clemons. The Bulldogs will need to bounce back against South Carolina. It helps that game will be played in Athens. Florida, which played Georgia close last year, will be a tough opponent in Jacksonville. Georgia should be in good shape in the Eastern Division as long as it can at least split with Florida and South Carolina. Georgia is my pick to win the East.
SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
We are going to learn everything we need to know about Georgia after week 2. Opening the season at Clemson, then South Carolina coming to town is a tall task. The Bulldogs lost a ton on defense to the NFL, so they will lean heavy on their offense. Georgia might have the best offense in the SEC (Outside of Johnny Football) with names like Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell and Arthur Lynch. Returning Murray is huge; he was the 2nd highest rated QB in the nation last year, only behind McCarron. The loss to Alabama in the SEC title game still hurts (SPIKE THE BALL) but they need to turn it into motivation for 2013. Seeing them back in the title game wouldn't be surprising, seeing them do worse than 10-2 would.
Do I really think Georgia will go undefeated? No, but that doesn't mean I don't like this team's chances. For starters, with Aaron Murray at quarterback and the two-headed monster of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall powering the running game, these Bulldogs are going to be tough for anyone, including the vaunted defenses of the SEC, to slow down. Then there's the schedule. Outside of the season opener in the ACC's version of Death Valley, Georgia's toughest true road game is either Vanderbilt or Georgia Tech, depending on your preference. South Carolina and LSU both come to Athens and there's the annual cocktail party in Jacksonville, Fla., with the Gators. After that it's mostly teams who are breaking in new head coaches. And the best part of the Bulldogs' schedule is which teams are NOT on it, i.e., Alabama and Texas A&M. This means Mark Richt and company won't have to even worry about facing Johnny Manziel or the Crimson Tide until the SEC championship game, which makes Clemson the only team on this schedule that is even on the same page with the Bulldogs when it comes to offensive firepower. It certainly won't be easy for any SEC team, including two-time defending national champion Alabama, to run the table, but this just may be the year everything falls into place for Georgia to do just that, at least in the regular season.
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South Carolina is coming off back-to-back double-digit winning seasons for the first time in school history. And the Gamecocks have their sights set even higher in 2013, as coach Steve Spurrier’s team is a national title contender and boasts a Heisman Trophy candidate in junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
A difficult crossover schedule with the West Division has played a part in South Carolina missing out on the SEC Championship over the last two years. However, the tables have turned in the East, as Georgia faces a tough crossover schedule, while the Gamecocks take on Arkansas and Mississippi State.
South Carolina’s SEC East title hopes could be decided fairly early in the season, as a huge contest at Georgia waits on Sept. 7.
What will South Carolina's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
South Carolina's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
|8/29 North Carolina|
|9/7 at Georgia|
|9/28 at UCF|
|10/12 at Arkansas|
|10/19 at Tennessee|
|10/26 at Missouri|
|11/2 Mississippi State|
|11/23 Coastal Carolina|
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
If South Carolina beats Georgia on Sept. 7, there’s a good chance this team finishes 2013 with an unbeaten record. The Gamecocks have the favorable crossover schedule this year, and the quarterback combination of Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson will be a handful for opposing defenses. And despite the loss of its linebacking corps and a couple of players on the line, South Carolina should remain one of the best defenses in the nation. Considering how favorable the schedule is, it’s tough to predict two losses. I think Georgia will be much more prepared to stop defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and the Bulldogs have an edge with this game in Athens. I’m predicting South Carolina to lose to Arkansas (Razorbacks have won three straight over the Gamecocks in Fayetteville), but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the second loss come at Missouri (a third consecutive road trip). Again, with such a favorable schedule, it’s hard to pick the Gamecocks at 10-2. It's somewhat of a hunch, but South Carolina has the feel of a 10-2 team, and I’m guessing the Gamecocks stumble once unexpectedly along the way.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
South Carolina enters the year having won 31 games in the last three seasons. The Gamecocks are serious contenders to win the SEC Eastern Division this year. I have South Carolina losing to Georgia. Both teams will begin the season facing tough opponents (Georgia opens at Clemson), but the Bulldogs will have the fortune of playing South Carolina at home in week two. The Tennessee and Missouri games in November will be worth watching. I picked South Carolina to lose at Missouri, which will be the third straight road game for South Carolina. The Gamecocks should bounce back after their bye week, although Florida will be a tough opponent in Columbia. A third straight double-digit win season is very possible for South Carolina.
SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
Let me make my case for an undefeated regular season.
2. They do not play any of the SEC West big 3 (Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M)
3. They own Clemson
4. Connor Shaw + Dylan Thompson
5. They get Florida at home
And no, I did not forget about the most important game of the season, it’s week 2 at Georgia. The season rides on the 4:30 kick between the hedges.
Name to remember: Bruce Ellington, WR
Although I expect South Carolina to beat UNC in its opener, I think Georgia will come out victorious the following week because the game is in Athens and the Bulldogs appear to be a little more fearsome on offense. After the first two weeks, it should be clear sailing until November when the Gamecocks get to finish with four games at home. I like them to take care of business in the first three, but I'll take Clemson in a minor upset to finish out the regular season. Since I have Georgia winning the SEC East, I'm picking Clemson to win the battle of the Palmetto State because I think the Tigers will have more to play for by that point and Dabo Swinney really wants this one.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The entire SEC East season may come down to the Week 2 showdown Between the Hedges with Georgia — a team the Gamecocks destroyed last year and have beaten three straight seasons. But even with a loss to the Dawgs, South Carolina could easily win the East. South Carolina has the better head coach, the much easier schedule and the better defense than both Georgia and Florida. Is it possible that the Cocks lose a game it shouldn't like it has most every other year? Sure. But who is that team in 2013: at Tennessee? at Missouri? at Arkansas? Vanderbilt at home? No, Carolina has a two-game schedule this fall and wins over Florida and Georgia would send Steve Spurrier's squad back to Atlanta for just the second time in school history.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
South Carolina finally got a good draw with the schedule compared to Georgia. No LSU. No Alabama. No Petrino-led Arkansas. Three consecutive road games in the SEC is going to be tough, but won’t be many three-game road trips more manageable than Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. Only the Volunteers gave Carolina a game last season. The swing games, as always, are Georgia and Florida. I’ve picked South Carolina to split those games. Marcus Lattimore had his way with Georgia the last few seasons. Combine that with the game in Athens early in the year, and I’ll go with the Bulldogs. That Florida game, though, is a pick ‘em. Carolina lost 44-11 last season, but that game was something of a fluke. South Carolina isn’t going to turn the ball over four times again. People may forget Jadeveon Clowney had one of the best games of his career against the Gators a year ago.
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Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college football is big business.
Signature uniforms like Michigan’s winged helmet, picturesque monuments like The Horseshow in Columbus or historic personalities like Barry Alvarez help separate one team from the next in the Big Ten with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.
However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple.
Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.
And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here is what Athlon Sports Art Director Matt Taliaferro has to say about the Big Ten's football logos:
"When it comes to clean, classy and delivering a no-frills branding blow, the Big Ten leaves all other conferences in a Woody Hayes-style cloud of dust. You won’t find any cartoonish gunslingers (looking at you, New Mexico State) or streamlined, over-Illustrator’d beavers (guilty as charged, Oregon State) — and that’s the way it should be for a conference whose institutions are embedded in the Heartland.
"The mark of a great logo is that it stands the test of time; and let’s be honest, you won’t catch Michigan re-tooling the block ‘M’ any time soon because its appearance is timeless. Such is the case with the majority of the Big Ten schools’ logos, where simple yet effective typography reigns and even those who veer into the graphics realm have effectively cut away the fat (although you’re treading on thin ice, Northwestern). Even Purdue’s contemporary “slanted P” fits dexterously with the more traditional “straight block” M’s, N’s, I‘s and U’s.
"The SEC may rule the gridiron and the ACC can hoop, but when it comes to traditional school logos, the Big Ten is the gold standard."
Big Ten Official Football Logo Rankings
|1.||Michigan State||It's clean, classic, gets the point across and is recognizable. It has some fierce edginess to it, the color scheme is perfect and there is no doubt it represents a Spartan.|
|2.||Penn State||Historically speaking, few logos are as traditional as the Nittany Lions oval. The smooth looking Lions head has great lines and appears to be hunting... Wolverines or Buckeyes? Few logos combine classy and aggresive like PSU.|
|3.||Nebraska||Again, simple and straight forward gets the point across. The colors and subtle trim are great and it appears that the Huskers have a monopoly on this letter. There is no doubting what this logo refers to.|
|4.||Michigan||It doesn't get any more simple that the block "M" of Michigan. The font is excellent but it could use some blue trim or accents.|
|5.||Iowa||It also comes in yellow but the black is more stylish. While maintaining a simple and historic look, the Hawkeye emblen also brings some creativity. In fact, I've no idea what an actual Hawkeye looks like.|
|6.||Ohio State||Normally, a name in a logo doesn't work, but the "S" is perfectly designed into the "O" and it works. It makes it busier than the cleaner, more classic logos above. The colors and trim are second to none.|
|7.||Minnesota||There is much more style to this "M" as compared to Michigan's but it's also busier. The seraphs are cool and the trim is solid. An underrated logo.|
|8.||Indiana||The historic brand of Hoosiers athletics is well known. The intersecting, symmetrical "IU" is simple and clean with the added touch of block seraphs.|
|9.||Purdue||The black and gold logo is the only one in the league that appears to be italicized. The overall wide shape of the letter gives it some style as well.|
|10.||Wisconsin||Let's face it, the floating "W" isn't the best Wisconsin logo but it is synonymous with the only successful era of Badgers football. The drop shadow is cool but only adds to the cartoonish feel.|
|11.||Illinois||The "I" by itself is nice and the "Illinois" can stand alone — and both look good that way. Together, it seems forced and MAC-ish.|
|12.||Northwestern||The purple "N" has plenty of things going on around it. Not only is the font bizarre but the Nickelodeon wildcat characture isn't intimidating anyone.|
Related College Football Content
2013 Big Ten Predictions
2013 Big Ten All-Conference Team
Big Ten's Top 2013 Heisman Contenders
College Football's Top 50 Defensive Linemen of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
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2013 All-America Team
It's been a busy week in the college football world.
In addition to the latest news, Friday's links will try to highlight some of the best posts of week - just in case you didn't catch our posts from earlier in the week.
Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)
College Football's Must-Read Stories From the Week of July 15-19
Six current players have been added to Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA.
Wisconsin and LSU are getting closer to announcing a two-game series. The best aspect? The two teams will likely meet in Lambeau Field at some point.
Cincinnati and Nebraska have agreed to a future two-game series.
Tony Gerdeman of theOzone.net thinks the Big Ten needs another Bret Bielema.
Adam Jude of The Seattle Times takes a look at the decision facing Washington coach Steve Sarkisian on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. In case you missed it yesterday, Seferian-Jenkins pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge.
Why did Athlon Sports pick Syracuse to finish 4-8? What about the future of Scott Shafer and transfer quarterback Drew Allen? I discussed all of these topics and more with NunesMagician.com this week.
How will College Football’s playoff selection committee look? The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes has a good breakdown of what’s to come.
Want to be a NCAA official? Check out this test from the Big Ten Network.
Receiver (and Miami, Ohio transfer) Nick Harwell is still trying to get eligible to play at Kansas in 2013.
Colorado has found a new athletic director.
Michigan's Jake Ryan is out indefinitely with a torn ACL, but the defense could get a boost from sophomore James Ross.
It's official: Penn State and UCF will play in Ireland in 2014.
What did South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney run in the 40-yard dash? Here's a scoop: It's ridiculous.
The SEC hopes to have 10 or 11 bowls when the new playoff format starts in 2014.
Beginning in 2014, the Big Ten will play in a new bowl game in Detroit. The ACC is expected to be the Big Ten’s opponent.
Yesterday's announcement by the NCAA to back away from video games was a little troublesome for gamers. But don’t worry, EA Sports still plans on making a college football video game next year. It just won’t have the NCAA logo.
Saturday Down South has a good take on Johnny Manziel and his appearance at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema doesn’t consider no-huddle offenses a joking matter.
Texas has hired Greg Robinson (yes, that Greg Robinson) to serve in the player personnel department.
Two Pittsburgh players won't return to the team for 2013.
Kentucky running back Josh Clemons was injured in a workout late last week. He is expected to miss all of the 2013 season.
The Big Ten is taking a tough stance on hits above the shoulders in 2013.
Can Penn State reduce its recent NCAA sanctions?
Could Michael Dyer end up at South Florida?
Former Notre Dame receiver Justin Ferguson has transferred to Western Michigan.
By this time next week, training camps for all 32 NFL teams will have begun. Here are some things worth keeping an eye on with the start to the 2013 regular season less than two months away.
Tim Tebow may no longer be with the Jets, but that doesn’t mean the quarterback controversy left town with him. For the second straight season Mark Sanchez enters training camp as the starter, but with very little job security. This time around, second-round pick Geno Smith is Sanchez’ primary competition. At least he will be as soon as he signs his rookie contract.
Even though Smith is not the media magnet that Tebow is, the former West Virginia star doesn’t figure to just quietly concede the starting job to Sanchez either, not after what transpired during the draft.
Sanchez isn’t the only quarterback who needs to get off to a good start in camp. Veterans Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb will face pressure from younger teammates in Eagles’ and Bills’ camp respectively, while Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden and Jake Locker also find themselves squarely on the quarterback hot seat.
Eight teams, which equates to a quarter of the NFL, will be under the direction of new coaches this season. Of these eight, all but one are rookie head coaches in the NFL. The only recycled coach, if you will, is Andy Reid, who takes over the Chiefs after 14 seasons in Philadelphia.
Speaking of Philadelphia, no rookie head coach will be under more scrutiny this season than Chip Kelly, who is the latest college superstar coach to make the jump to the pros. Kelly’s offenses at Oregon put up ridiculous numbers. Can his system do the same in the NFL?
Kelly is not the only college coach who has graduated to the pro ranks. Former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone is the next up to try and end Buffalo’s 13-year playoff drought. Chicago’s Marc Trestman also will be adjusting to a new league, as the CFL coach get his first shot in the NFL with the Bears. Trestman led the Montreal Alouettes to two Grey Cup titles in five seasons, can he find similar success in Chicago? He does have nearly 20 years worth of coaching experience in the NFL, but his last stint came in 2004.
The rest of the rookie class of head coaches consists of Arizona’s Bruce Arians, Cleveland’s Rob Chudzinski, Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley and San Diego’s Mike McCoy. Arians got some head coaching experience last season when he served as the Colts’ interim head coach during Chuck Pagano’s absence while he was battling cancer. Arians, Chudzinski and McCoy also all served as offensive coordinators for their respective teams last season while Bradley is the only new head coach of the entire bunch who comes from a defensive background. Bradley served as Seattle’s defensive coordinator the past four seasons.
And then there’s New Orleans’ Sean Payton, who’s not “new” by any stretch, but is returning after serving his one-year suspension for his part in the Saints’ BountyGate scandal. After winning 11 or more games in each of the previous three seasons, including a Super Bowl title in 2009, the Saints slipped to 7-9 in 2012.
While the offense was its usual explosive self, the defense allowed an NFL-record 7,042 yards. Payton may have made his reputation as an offensive mastermind, but there’s no arguing that the entire Saints franchise missed him being at the team facility, on the practice field, in the locker room and especially on the sideline last season.
There are several superstar players who are returning from offseason surgery and/or serious injury, including Rob Gronkowski, Ben Roethlisberger, Darrelle Revis and Brian Cushing, just to name a few. However, no body part will draw more attention during training camp than the right knee that belongs to Robert Griffin III.
Griffin tore the ACL and LCL in his right knee in the fourth quarter of the Redskins’ NFC Wild Card loss to the Seahawks in January. It was the second such significant injury to that knee for Griffin, who first tore his ACL early in his sophomore year at Baylor. Of course, everyone knows that Griffin was able to come back from that injury, as he won the Heisman in 2011 prior to being the second overall pick of the ‘12 draft.
While no one is doubting Griffin’s toughness and resolve, there are plenty of questions surrounding his eventual return. Will he be ready to go in Week 1 or will Kirk Cousins be under center for the Monday night season opener at home against Philadelphia?
Reports are Griffin is progressing nicely in his rehabilitation, but the team can’t afford to risk bringing him back too soon. He is the face and future of the franchise, so there’s no reason to rush him and clear him for practice, let alone games, until there is no doubt he is 100 percent healthy.
The End of New England’s Reign?
No team has had a worse offseason than Bill Belichick’s Patriots, and a strong case for this could be made without including Aaron Hernandez’ current legal issues. It started during free agency, which saw Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Patrick Chung sign with other teams. The Patriots did some work of their own in free agency, including adding wide receiver Danny Amendola, but the rest of the acquisitions didn’t help the roster get any younger.
Then in April, the Patriots’ draft featured some curious choices, including trading their first-round pick, as an emphasis was placed on the defensive side of the ball. It remains to be seen how many of these picks, if any, will have an impact in 2013, but the early reviews after the draft were not overly optimistic in that regard.
The next blow came in June when All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent back surgery. This marked the fifth medical procedure for Gronkowski in a span of six months, as he had already gone through four different surgeries related to the broken forearm he sustained in Week 11 last season and then subsequently reinjured in the playoffs.
Gronkowski is making progress in his recovery, but it’s entirely too soon to consider him a lock to be on the field by Week 1. Hernandez’ recent arrest after being charged with murder and other crimes gave the Patriots no other choice but to release the troubled tight end, putting even more importance on Gronkowski’s return.
Besides losing Welker and Woodhead in free agency, the Patriots also released wide receiver Brandon Lloyd in March. With Hernandez no longer on the roster and Gronkowski’s status up in the air, Tom Brady enters training camp with a host of unknown, and for the most part, unproven pass-catchers.
On the other side of the ball, New England finished last in the AFC in pass defense in 2012 and were just 13th in the conference in total yards allowed. Personnel changes on this unit were made, but they consist of “unknown” draft picks and the signing of a pair of 10-year veterans in defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and safety Adrian Wilson.
In short, the Patriots lost a lot of production and continuity on offense and it’s entirely up for debate how much better on defense they will be this season. Brady turns 36 in a couple of weeks and while he should be able to lead this team to a fifth straight AFC East title, it’s looking more and more that the Patriots’ championship window may be closing.
Baltimore’s Post-Super Bowl Makeover
The Ravens and their fans have understandably spent the offseason basking in the glow of their unexpected, emotional Super Bowl run. And for good reason, since not only is it hard enough to win one Lombardi Trophy, let alone two in a row; but for the fact that this year’s team will have a lot of new faces on it.
How many you ask? How about six on defense and three on offense from the starting lineup that beat San Francisco in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in February?
Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Fame linebacker who was the heart and soul of this team his entire career, is retired as is center Matt Birk, while linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and defensive backs Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed and Cary Williams all left via free agency. Veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers and fullback Vonta Leach and defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu are currently free agents.
The Ravens used free agency and the draft to fill most of these holes, bringing in the likes of linebacker Elvis Dumervil and Arthur Brown and safeties Michael Huff and Matt Elam, among others. However, there is nothing the team can do to replace the expeience and continuity that is now gone from their roster.
Quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco is signed long-term and several other key parts of last season’s roster remain, but it will be interesting to see how quickly the old will gel with the new as the Ravens prepare for life on the field as defending champions.
2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:
Not only will Memphis play in a new conference this year, but the Tigers will be getting a uniform makeover.
In its first season of play in the American Athletic Conference, Memphis will be sporting a shiny gray and blue helmet, along with an updated look to the jerseys. One of the best parts of the new uniform is the “M” in the gray helmet features Tiger stripes.
With Bobby Petrino taking over at Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers are guaranteed to be one of college football’s most interesting teams in 2013.
In addition to the change in head coaches, Western Kentucky will also have a new appearance in the uniform department.
The Hilltoppers unveiled their new jerseys for 2013 on Thursday night, which includes a white, red and black editions. Perhaps one of the best parts of the jersey is the university’s seal inside the numbers.
Check out Western Kentucky’s new uniforms for 2013: (photos from (@CoachPetrinoWKU)
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 19.
• Sofia Vergara was nominated for an Emmy, which seems like a good excuse to link to this amazing assortment of pics and GIFs of the Modern Family starlet.
• Looking to endanger your life to relieve summer boredom? Check out these insane summer stunts.
• Brian Urlacher doesn't want the Bears to win a Super Bowl without him. Smokin' Jay understands.
• Awww. Here's a gallery of athletes celebrating with their kids. Some of them seem to be saying, get away from me, you large sweaty man.
• Interesting column: AJ McCarron has self-branded as the anti-Manziel.
• This just in: J.J. Watt is an insane athlete. Basically, he could hurdle Danny DeVito from a standing start.
• Charl Schwartzel destroyed a 5-iron in anger at the British Open. He thereby joins Athlon's video countdown of golfers behaving badly.
• Remember that kid who ran onto the field at the All-Star Game because Twitter told him to? He might spend a year in prison. Apparently it's illegal to make the All-Star Game remotely interesting.
• Jonesing for a little hoops action? Here's a tasty dunk from NBA Summer League play.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
From the Fun ‘n’ Gun to the Beef ‘n Cheddar, it seems.
Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina contingent stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way back from SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Thanks to Jadeveon Clowney, we know it happened.
Thanks to Arby’s Twitter account, we know it was an Arby’s.
The Big 12 is one of the toughest conferences to predict this preseason. No Big 12 team managed to crack Athlon's projected final top 15 for 2013, as Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU and Oklahoma all ranked between 16-20.
It’s not the biggest indicator when predicting success, but returning starters are an interesting trend to look at before the season starts.
With 17 returning starters, Texas has the most in the Big 12 for 2013. Will that be enough for the Longhorns to get back to a BCS bowl? It's now or never for Mack Brown, especially with the rest of the conference in transition.