Articles By Steven Lassan

All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miami-provides-depth-look-recruiting-war-room-video
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Recruiting is the backbone of any college football program. Every coaching staff spends hours evaluating tape and discussing programs, but recruiting is still an inexact science.

 

And thanks to Miami, we have a pretty good look at what goes on inside the war room at programs while discussing the top prospects.

 

In this video released by the school, the coaching staff is discussing whether or not to offer a prospect that plays safety.

 

There’s some interesting discussion about what it takes to play the position, whether or not elite speed is needed and some of the ins and outs about what Miami looks for in terms of talent.

 

Check out this awesome video going inside the Canes recruiting war room:

Teaser:
Miami Provides In-Depth Look at Recruiting War Room (Video)
Post date: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 12:23
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-offensive-triplets-2015
Body:

The Big Ten is known for possessing some of the nation’s top defenses, but this conference isn’t short on offensive talent for 2015. The Big Ten has three potential first-round picks at quarterback in next year’s draft. Cardale Jones is expected to start over Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett at Ohio State, while Michigan State’s Connor Cook is back for his third year under center, and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg should improve under second-year coach James Franklin. Additionally, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is a Heisman frontrunner, and Corey Clement should be a capable replacement for Melvin Gordon at running back.

 

To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 14 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 14 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.


Ranking the Big Ten’s Offensive Triplets for 2015

 

1. Ohio State

Total Points: 40

QB: Cardale Jones (1)

RB: Ezekiel Elliott (1)

WR: Michael Thomas (3)
 

Regardless of who starts under center for coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes have one of the nation’s best trios. Jones is penciled in as the starter at quarterback after guiding Ohio State to a 3-0 record and a national championship in his short tenure under center. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 696 yards over the final three games of last year, and Thomas led all Ohio State receivers with 54 catches in 2014.

Related: Urban Meyer Ranks No. 1 Among Big Ten Coaches for 2015

 

2. Penn State

Total Points: 35

QB: Christian Hackenberg (3)

RB: Akeel Lynch (5)

WR: DaeSean Hamilton (2)
 

Ranking Penn State at No. 2 in Big Ten triplets largely depends on how far the offensive line develops during the offseason. The Nittany Lions struggled up front in 2014 and prevented the offense from taking off in coach James Franklin’s first year. Improvement is expected up front, which should allow quarterback Christian Hackenberg to rebound after an up and down 2014 campaign. Akeel Lynch rushed for at least 75 yards in three out of his last four outings, while Hamilton – only a sophomore – is among the Big Ten’s top receivers.

Related: QB Christian Hackenberg Ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten QB Ranks for 2015

 

3. Nebraska

Total Points: 29

QB: Tommy Armstrong (5)

RB: Terrell Newby (7)

WR: De’Mornay Pierson-El (4)
 

Adapting to new coach Mike Riley’s pro-style offense will be the biggest challenge for the Cornhuskers in 2015. However, the pieces are in place for Nebraska to rank among the Big Ten’s best offenses. Armstrong threw for 2,695 yards and 22 scores last season and has one of the top receiving corps in the Big Ten with Jordan Westerkamp and all-around threat De’Mornay Pierson-El. Terrell Newby and Imani Cross will replace Ameer Abdullah’s production at running back.

Related: Where Does Mike Riley Rank Among Big Ten Coaches?

 

4. Wisconsin

Total Points: 29

QB: Joel Stave (9)

RB: Corey Clement (2)

WR: Alex Erickson (5)
 

Don’t expect much in the way of change for Wisconsin’s offense under new coach Paul Chryst. The former offensive coordinator for the Badgers is back in Madison after a three-year stint as Pittsburgh’s coach. Corey Clement should be a capable replacement for running back Melvin Gordon. However, question marks remain about quarterback Joel Stave and the options at receiver beyond Alex Erickson.

Related: Wisconsin's Corey Clement Ranks as the No. 2 Big Ten RB for 2015

 

5. Illinois

Total Points: 28

QB: Wes Lunt (4)

RB: Josh Ferguson (6)

WR: Geronimo Allison (7)
 

The Fighting Illini have plenty of offensive firepower in place, and this trio could rank higher if receiver Mike Dudek wasn’t lost for an indefinite period of time with a torn ACL. Lunt was off to a good start last season before a leg injury limited him to just eight games. Ferguson has rushed for 700 yards in back-to-back years and has 100 receptions in that span.

 

6. Michigan State

Total Points: 23

QB: Connor Cook (2)

RB: Madre London (12)

WR: Aaron Burbridge (8)
 

If the Spartans had proven No. 1 starters at running back and receiver, they would rank much higher on this list. Madre London is listed at running back here, but Delton Williams, LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes will be in the mix for carries. Connor Cook is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, and the senior needs Aaron Burbridge and DeAnthony Arnett to step up in 2015.

 

7. Indiana

Total Points: 22

QB: Nate Sudfeld (6)

RB: Jordan Howard (4)

WR: J-Shun Harris (13)
 

Kevin Wilson’s specialty is offense, and the Hoosiers should take a step forward on the stat sheet after quarterback Nate Sudfeld missed a chunk of 2014 due to a shoulder injury. Sudfeld was ready to join the ranks of the Big Ten’s best at quarterback in 2013, throwing for 2,523 yards and 21 scores. Howard rushed for 1,587 yards at UAB last year and is expected to be the top replacement for Tevin Coleman. Harris is the team’s top returning receiver from 2014 – 18 catches for 168 yards.

 

8. Rutgers

Total Points: 22

QB: Chris Laviano (13)

RB: Paul James (9)

WR: Leonte Carroo (1)
 

The Scarlet Knights have some intriguing offensive weapons in place for the 2015 season. But can new coordinator Ben McDaniels settle on a quarterback? Chris Laviano exited spring with a slight edge on Hayden Rettig for the No. 1 spot. James gets the nod at running back, but sophomores Josh Martin and Robert Hicks are two names to remember. Carroo averaged 19.2 yards per catch in Big Ten games last year.

 

9. Michigan

Total Points: 21

QB: Jake Rudock (7)

RB: Ty Isaac (8)

WR: Amara Darboh (9)
 

There’s little doubt Jim Harbaugh will generate some improvement out of Michigan’s offense in 2015. And if the pieces fall into place, the Wolverines should climb this list during the year. Jake Rudock is eligible immediately after transferring from Iowa and is expected to start over Shane Morris. Ty Isaac and Derrick Green are expected to share carries in the backfield. Amara Darboh will replace Devin Funchess as the No. 1 target in the passing attack.

Related: Jim Harbaugh is the No. 1 Coaching Hire for 2015

 

10. Iowa

Total Points: 19

QB: C.J. Beathard (10)

RB: Jordan Canzeri (10)

WR: Tevaun Smith (6)
 

C.J. Beathard has replaced Jake Rudock as Iowa’s starting quarterback, and the Hawkeyes hope the Tennessee native helps the offense stretch the field more in 2015. Jordan Canzeri headlines a solid stable of running backs, while Tevaun Smith averaged a healthy 13.9 yards per reception in 2014.

 

11. Northwestern

Total Points: 19

QB: Matt Alviti (12)

RB: Justin Jackson (3)

WR: Christian Jones (11)
 

Justin Jackson had a breakout year for the Wildcats in 2014, leading the team with 1,187 yards and 10 rushing scores. Jackson remains the top back for Northwestern and will be among the Big Ten’s best in 2015. The Wildcats will spend fall practice sorting out their quarterback situation, as three candidates – Clayton Thorson, Matt Alviti and Zack Oliver – are vying for the No. 1 spot. Christian Jones is coming off a torn ACL and missed all of 2014.

 

12. Minnesota

Total Points: 12

QB: Mitch Leidner (8)

RB: Rodrick Williams (11)

WR: K.J. Maye (14)
 

Minnesota’s formula for success won’t change with a power rushing attack on offense. David Cobb will be missed, but Rodrick Williams and Rodney Smith should provide plenty of production. The bigger question mark on the Golden Gopher offense is a passing attack that managed only 147.3 yards in Big Ten games last year.

Related: Minnesota's Jerry Kill Ranks No. 5 Among Big Ten Coaches for 2015

 

13. Maryland

Total Points: 9

QB: Caleb Rowe (11)

RB: Brandon Ross (13)

WR: Juwann Winfree (12)
 

There’s a lot of uncertainty for Maryland on both sides of the ball in 2015. A new defensive scheme is the team’s biggest concern, but the Terrapins have to replace quarterback C.J. Brown and dynamic receiver Stefon Diggs. Rowe is recovering from a torn ACL and is expected to return at full strength by this fall. More production is needed from the running backs, while Winfree headlines a receiving corps that lost four out of its top five targets from 2014.

 

14. Purdue

Total Points: 7

QB: Austin Appleby (14)

RB: Keyante Green (14)

WR: Danny Anthrop (10)
 

Finding the right quarterback in coach Darrell Hazell’s biggest priority this offseason. Is Appleby the starter? Or should redshirt freshman David Blough or Danny Etling take the first snap? The concerns on offense extend to the running back spot, but there’s promise with Green and Markell Jones in 2015. Anthrop averaged 16.2 yards per catch last season and could be among the Big Ten’s top receivers. However, he’s also recovering from a torn ACL.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big Ten's Offensive Triplets for 2015
Post date: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-spring-national-championship-odds-2015
Body:

Spring practice is over for all 128 college football teams, which means it’s a long wait until the teams officially hit the field once again in the fall.

 

But there’s no shortage of college football news, as oddsmaker Bovada has released its updated national championship odds for 2015.

 

And it should be no surprise the Buckeyes open as the favorite at 7/2 odds.

 

A look through the odds shows some intriguing numbers, as Auburn – potentially a co-favorite in the SEC West with Alabama – is 12/1, while the Crimson Tide is a 7/1 favorite.

 

Other teams with favorable odds? How about Baylor at 20/1 or Georgia at 25/1?

 

College Football's Post-Spring National Title Odds
TeamNational Title Odds
Ohio State7/2
Alabama7/1
TCU10/1
Auburn12/1
Florida State12/1
USC18/1
Baylor20/1
Notre Dame20/1
Clemson22/1
Oregon22/1
Georgia25/1
Michigan State25/1
Oklahoma25/1
LSU28/1
UCLA28/1
Stanford33/1
Arkansas40/1
Michigan40/1
Ole Miss40/1
Texas A&M40/1
Tennessee50/1
Arizona State66/1
Florida66/1
Mississippi State66/1
Nebraska66/1
Texas66/1
Miami75/1
Wisconsin75/1
Arizona100/1
Georgia Tech100/1
Louisville100/1
Penn State100/1
South Carolina100/1
Utah100/1
Virginia Tech100/1
Washington100/1
Missouri150/1
Boise State200/1
BYU200/1
Kansas State200/1
Texas Tech200/1
West Virginia250/1
North Carolina300/1
Boston College500/1
California500/1
Cincinnati500/1
Duke500/1
Iowa500/1
Marshall500/1
Maryland500/1
Minnesota500/1
Northwestern500/1
Oregon State500/1
Pittsburgh500/1
Rutgers500/1
USF500/1
UCF500/1
  

 

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Spring National Title Odds for 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 14:29
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-offensive-triplets-2015
Body:

The Big 12 is known for its offensive firepower, and the league isn’t short on talent at quarterback, running back or receiver for 2015. Baylor and TCU are the favorites to win the league title this year, and both teams appear at the top of the offensive triplet power rankings. The Bears need to find a new quarterback, but there’s a strong track record of finding the next standout passer under Art Briles. The Horned Frogs return one of the nation’s top quarterbacks (Trevone Boykin) and a solid group of running backs and receivers.

 

To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 10 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 10 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.

 

Ranking the Big 12’s Offensive Triplets for 2015

 

1. Baylor

Total Points: 27

QB: Seth Russell (3)

RB: Shock Linwood (2)

WR: Corey Coleman (1)
 

Baylor has averaged over 40 points a game in four consecutive seasons. Good luck stopping the Bears in 2015. Even with quarterback Bryce Petty expiring his eligibility, Baylor is loaded with offensive talent. Russell has played well in limited action, and coach Art Briles has a strong track record of developing quarterbacks. Shock Linwood rushed for 1,252 yards and 16 scores last season, while the receiving corps is the nation’s best, headlined by Corey Coleman and KD Cannon.

Related: Baylor's Art Briles is the No. 1 Coach in the Big 12

 

2. TCU

Total Points: 25

QB: Trevone Boykin (1)

RB: Aaron Green (4)

WR: Josh Doctson (3)
 

TCU’s offense showed major improvement under co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie in 2014. After averaging only 25.1 points per game in 2013, the Horned Frogs increased that total to 46.5 last season. Boykin also emerged as one of the nation’s most improved quarterbacks and opens 2015 as one of the favorites to win the Heisman. TCU has a solid crop of playmakers in place, including Aaron Green (7.2 ypc in 2014) and Doctson (11 TD catches).

Related: TCU's Trevone Boykin is the No. 1 QB in the Big 12

 

3. Oklahoma

Total Points: 25

QB: Baker Mayfield (5)

RB: Samaje Perine (1)

WR: Sterling Shepard (2)
 

Yes, the Sooners have a new scheme and coordinator (Lincoln Riley), but the offense is still going to rely heavily on one of the nation’s top backfields. Samaje Perine rushed for 1,713 yards and 21 scores as a true freshman in 2014, and he will have plenty of help from Joe Mixon and Alex Ross. Having a healthy Sterling Shepard at receiver should make a difference for new quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Related: Oklahoma Ranks No. 17 in Athlon's 2015 CFB Top 25

 

4. Texas Tech

Total Points: 22

QB: Patrick Mahomes (4)

RB: DeAndre Washington (3)

WR: Jakeem Grant (4)
 

Offense is always a strength for Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders are loaded with talent for 2015. Patrick Mahomes is likely to start over Davis Webb, and the sophomore should improve off a solid stat line as a freshman (1,547 yards, 16 TDs, 4 INTs). DeAndre Washington was the first 1,000-yard rusher in Lubbock since 1998. Jakeem Grant led the team in receptions and receiving yards last year.

Related: TTU's De'Andre Washington Ranks No. 3 in Big 12 RB Rankings for 2015

 

5. Oklahoma State

Total Points: 18

QB: Mason Rudolph (2)

RB: Rennie Childs (8)

WR: Brandon Sheperd (5)
 

Oklahoma State’s 27.6 scoring average in 2014 was its first year under 30 points since 2009. The Cowboys should get their offense back on track in 2015, as quarterback Mason Rudolph is one of the rising stars in the Big 12, and there’s no shortage of weapons at receiver. Rennie Childs has the inside track on the starting running back spot. However, junior college recruit Chris Carson is a name to watch.

 

6. West Virginia

Total Points: 14

QB: Skyler Howard (6)

RB: Rushel Shell (6)

WR: Jordan Thompson (7)
 

It’s a safe bet to assume Dana Holgorsen will find the right answers for West Virginia’s offense in 2015. Skyler Howard started the final two games of 2014 and threw for six touchdowns and 631 yards in that span. Although Howard showed promise, he also has to raise his completion percentage after recording a 50.9 mark in 2014. Kevin White will be tough to replace at receiver, and Daikiel Shorts, Thompson and Shelton Gibson are the frontrunners to lead the team in receiving. The running back position is a strength after Rushel Shell rushed for 788 yards in 12 games last year.

 

7. Texas

Total Points: 13

QB: Tyrone Swoopes (7)

RB: Johnathan Gray (5)

WR: Marcus Johnson (8)
 

Don’t expect Texas to rank near the bottom of Big 12 in offense for long. The Longhorns will have more growing pains in 2015, but coach Charlie Strong and coordinator Shawn Watson have this group trending in the right direction. Swoopes and Jerrod Heard are locked into a tight battle for the quarterback job, and regardless of who starts under center, Texas needs to develop a few options at receiver. Johnathan Gray rushed for 636 yards last season and should be better a full year removed from a torn Achilles.

Related: Austin is the No. 1 college town in the Big 12

 

8. Iowa State

Total Points: 9

QB: Sam Richardson (8)

RB: Tyler Brown (10)

WR: Allen Lazard (6)
 

The Cyclones have potential to climb this list by the end of 2015. Sam Richardson was steady in his first year under coordinator Mark Mangino (2,669 yards, 18 TDs), while Allen Lazard or Quenton Bundrage (back from a torn ACL) provide big-play ability at receiver. Running back is the biggest uncertainty, but there’s potential with Tyler Brown or Mike Warren.

 

9. Kansas State

Total Points: 6

QB: Joe Hubener (9)

RB: Charles Jones (9)

WR: Kody Cook (9)
 

It’s tough to count out coach Bill Snyder’s team in the Big 12 title picture, but the Wildcats lost two key offensive standouts in quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett. Hubener did not start a game at quarterback in high school and will be pushed by true freshman Alex Delton and Jesse Ertz for snaps in 2015.

 

10. Kansas

Total Points: 6

QB: Michael Cummings (10)

RB: Corey Avery (7)

WR: Rodriguez Coleman (10)
 

It’s going to be a long year for new coach David Beaty. Out of the three names mentioned above, it’s uncertain if any will actually play for the Jayhawks in 2015. Cummings suffered a knee injury in the spring game, and Avery and Coleman were both suspended indefinitely. 

Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's Offensive Triplets for 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-spring-heisman-2015-odds
Body:

The 2015 college football season doesn’t begin until September, but there’s no shortage of news to keep the conversation moving until kickoff.

 

With Everett Golson transferring to Florida State, oddsmakers have shifted the outlook for the Heisman race.

 

Bovada updated its Heisman odds on Wednesday morning to reflect Golson’s transfer, and the former Notre Dame passer is listed at 14/1.

 

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott tops the list at 6/1, while LSU’s Leonard Fournette checks in at 15/2.

 

Below are the complete list of odds by Bovada (updated after Golson’s transfer), and three names we like that are good buy-low options:

 

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Talented sophomore takes control of Clemson’s high-powered offense.

 

Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn

Auburn is a dark-horse national title contender in 2015.

 

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Should be an All-American in 2015 after an impressive freshman campaign last year.

 

Post-Spring Heisman Odds from Bovada (updated May 20)
Player/Position/TeamOdds
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State6/1
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU15/2
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State8/1
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia8/1
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU8/1
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State12/1
Cody Kessler, QB, USC12/1
Everett Golson, QB, Florida State14/1
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama16/1
Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA18/1
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State20/1
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson20/1
Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn20/1
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma20/1
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State25/1
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State28/1
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin33/1
Justin Thomas, QB, Georgia Tech33/1
Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon33/1
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor33/1
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami40/1
D.J. Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State40/1
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State40/1
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh40/1
Malik Zaire, QB, Notre Dame40/1
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State40/1
Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona40/1
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU40/1
Jared Goff, QB, California50/1
Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State66/1
Jalen Hurd, RB, Tennessee66/1
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss66/1
Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina66/1
Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona66/1

 

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Spring Heisman 2015 Odds
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 13:04
Path: /college-football/nebraska-or-michigan-which-team-has-better-chance-finish-top-25-2015
Body:

Nebraska and Michigan are two of the Big Ten’s most intriguing teams to watch in 2015. Both programs have new coaches guiding the program, as former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh has returned to Ann Arbor, while Mike Riley was hired to replace Bo Pelini in Lincoln.

 

With the coaching changes at both programs, combined with an intriguing core of talent, the Cornhuskers and Wolverines have potential to finish among the nation’s top 25 teams this season.

 

But which program is more likely to do so? Athlon Sports continues its look at some of the top preseason storylines with a look at Nebraska or Michigan and which is more likely to finish in the top 25. 

 

Nebraska or Michigan: Which Team has a Better Chance to Finish in the Top 25 in 2015?

 

Brent Yarina, (@BTNBrentYarina), BTN.com Senior Editor

Nebraska is my pick. Actually, I’m not sure either will find itself in the top 25 by season’s end, but, if forced to pick one, the Cornhuskers are the safer pick. Being ranked at the bottom of the poll is all about getting to the eight-, nine-win mark, and Nebraska has the talent and schedule to get there. Personnel-wise, I trust Tommy Armstrong, De’Mornay Pierson-El (breakout player alert!), Jordan Westerkamp and the running back committee far more than what Michigan is rolling out there. Also, its Big Ten road games (Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue & Rutgers) are beyond manageable. The home games (Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State & Iowa) are far more challenging, but Nebraska is 12-4 in Big Ten home games since joining the conference.

 

Joshua Henschke, (@JoshuaHenschke), MaizenBrew.com

I think it all depends on who can get the quarterbacks performing up to snuff the fastest. Both have new offensive schemes with new head coaches. Michigan needs to find an answer at quarterback, wide receiver and running back while Nebraska has Tommy Armstrong but needs a replacement for Ameer Abdullah's absence.

 

I think schedule alone gives the nod to Nebraska, it appears, on paper at least, to be easier. Michigan will need to finish with a strong finish to the season in order to achieve any type of Top 25 standing. Is it possible? Sure, but Michigan has a long way to go. I will have to give the nod to Nebraska right now, Michigan has too many questions that need immediate answers.

 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

This is a tough one, as I think both teams have a good shot to finish in the top 25. But if I have to pick one, I would take Nebraska over Michigan. The Wolverines have a tougher path in the East Division with two top-10 teams in Ohio State and Michigan State, along with an improving Penn State squad. Jim Harbaugh is the nation’s top coaching hire for 2015, and Jake Rudock should provide stability at quarterback. But Nebraska’s path to a spot in the final top 25 poll is much easier. The Cornhuskers catch the Spartans in crossover play, but the other game (at Rutgers) in play against the East Division is very manageable. And Nebraska hosts Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa this year – three potential swing games in the West. Sure, there will be a transition period for Nebraska in coach Mike Riley’s first year. However, there’s also a lot to like about this team. If quarterback Tommy Armstrong settles into the new offensive attack, and the defense fills a few voids in the front seven, challenging for the West Division title isn’t out of reach. There’s no doubt Harbaugh is going to have Michigan playing better in 2015. But I like Nebraska to edge the Wolverines in the final rankings and push for a top-25 finish.

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Coaches for 2015

 

Sammy Jacobs, (@Hoosier_Huddle), HoosierHuddle.com

The Michigan Wolverines and the Nebraska Cornhuskers are two big-time names in the Big Ten who are facing similar circumstances. Both teams will have new head coaches (Jim Harbaugh and Mike Riley) and will have to replace big-time pieces on their offense, for Michigan it is Devin Gardner and Devin Funchess, while Nebraska has to fill the shoes of Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell. So who has the better chance at finishing the 2015 season in the Top 25? Well, that would have to be the Cornhuskers. Let me tell you why. I figure it would take either team at least nine wins to crack the Top-25 based on the records of the teams in last year’s final poll. First, let’s look at the schedules. Michigan plays a much tougher non-conference schedule and is in the much harder Big Ten East and plays Ohio State and Michigan State, while Nebraska gets to play both Purdue and Illinois. Michigan will be hard pressed to break the seven win mark as they try and break in a new quarterback Jake Ruddock - assuming he is the starter - and will have to replace a ton of talent on an already struggling offense. It could be difficult for the Huskers to sneak into the top-25 as well, but they do have the better opportunity for that to happen.

 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

Can I say both? I'd definitely lean Nebraska over Michigan if I had to pick one, but I think both are really good picks to overachieve their preseason rankings. Both rosters have talent, in particular, on defense. The two biggest differences on the field are the edge Nebraska gets in the scheduling department and in the offensive backfield. Mike Riley should be excellent on the ground with a two-headed rushing attack while Michigan may have not find its rushing identity right away. The Huskers play a significantly easier schedule within the Big Ten. Both play a tough road non-conference game and BYU at home outside of the Big Ten, but the Wolverines league slate is significantly more difficult. That alone gives Nebraska a really good shot at landing in the Big Ten title game while even a great year for Jim Harbaugh likely leads to a second- or third-place finish in the Big Ten East.

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.comNo 2-Minute Warning 

Michigan fans have every right to be excited about the future of the program with Jim Harbaugh taking control of the Wolverines, but expectations should be slightly scaled back in 2015. A schedule that opens on the road against Utah and includes BYU in non-conference play and later sees a late-season road game at Penn State followed by big, bad Ohio State the following week is not easy, and I did not even mention Michigan State visiting Ann Arbor. The Spartans have owned Michigan in the in-state rivalry lately, and they still seem to have the more well-rounded team heading into the new season.

 

Nebraska must play the Spartans as well, but Nebraska skips Ohio State this year. New head coach Mike Riley also has challenging non-conference match-ups against BYU and at Miami to deal with, but the schedule seems to be more favorable to the Huskers. Nebraska also has a solidified quarterback situation and a returning cast of receivers to keep the offense going while the defense brings back eight starters. Nebraska can afford a slow start more than Harbaugh and the Wolverines can this year.

 

J.P. Scott (@TheJPScott), Athlon Sports Contributor Network

There isn’t much on Michigan's roster that would keep me up at night as an opposing coordinator. They simply don't have the horses to hang with Michigan State or Ohio State and will open as underdogs at Utah.

 

Iowa transfer Jake Rudock provides senior leadership at quarterback, but it’ll be a rebuilding effort for Jim Harbaugh during his first season.

 

On the other hand, Mike Riley inherits the core of a Nebraska team that was two plays from winning 11 games last year. His staff is talented enough to mold the Huskers into his vision quickly. Having arguably the best group of receivers in the Big Ten won’t hurt.

 

The Huskers are good enough to beat every team on their schedule and they’ll likely reach double-digit wins.

 

I’ll take Nebraska.

 

Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)

Jim Harbaugh was a home-run hire for Michigan, make no mistake about it, but I actually think first-year Nebraska coach Mike Riley is positioned for more success in Year 1 at his new school. Riley inherits a team that won nine games last season and returns its starting quarterback, along with several other key pieces on both side of the ball. Harbaugh, on the other hand, is in many ways starting over, not only instilling his philosophies and his way of doing things into the program, but also in terms of personnel, especially on offense.

 

Both fanbases should be pretty happy with the new direction their respective programs are heading, but in my opinion the Cornhuskers have the look of a potential top-25 team, while the Wolverines still seem a year away. Don’t forget that defending national champion Ohio State and an extremely talented and well-coached Michigan State team also reside in Michigan’s division, making Harbaugh’s job this season that much tougher.

Teaser:
Nebraska or Michigan: Which Team has a Better Chance to Finish in the Top 25 in 2015?
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-offensive-triplets-2015
Body:

The ACC is losing some offensive star power with the departure of Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Miami’s Duke Johnson to the NFL. But there’s a talented group of young players ready to step up this season, starting with Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. The sophomore takes control of the Tigers’ high-powered attack and should keep coach Dabo Swinney’s team in the mix to win the ACC. Pittsburgh running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd are two of the best in the nation and will continue to carry the Panthers’ offense in 2015.

 

To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 14 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 14 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.

 

Ranking the ACC’s Offensive Triplets for 2015

 

1. Clemson

Total Points: 36

QB: Deshaun Watson (1)

RB: Wayne Gallman (6)

WR: Artavis Scott (2)
 

Chad Morris will be missed as Clemson’s play-caller, but the Tigers should still have one of the ACC’s top offenses. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the nation’s rising stars and will be at full strength from a torn ACL by this fall. Scott and Gallman showed promise as freshmen last season and depth is plentiful at running back and receiver.

Related: No. 14 Clemson Tigers 2015 Preview and Prediction
 

2. Pittsburgh

Total Points: 36

QB: Chad Voytik (7)

RB: James Conner (1)

WR: Tyler Boyd (1)
 

Pat Narduzzi is known for his defensive acumen, but the first-year coach inherits some of the ACC’s top offensive talent. James Conner (RB) and Tyler Boyd (WR) are two of the nation’s top playmakers at their respective positions. Quarterback Chad Voytik played better in the second half of 2014 by tossing only one interception in his final six games.

Related: Pittsburgh's James Conner Ranks as the ACC's No. 1 RB

 

3. Florida State

Total Points: 34

QB: Everett Golson (6)

RB: Dalvin Cook (2)

WR: Travis Rudolph (3)
 

Jameis Winston leaves big shoes to fill, but coach Jimbo Fisher is one of the nation’s best quarterback coaches. Sean Maguire started one game last season (Clemson) and finished 2014 with 339 passing yards on 25 completions. However, Everett Golson is transferring to Florida State and is considered by many to be the favorite to take the first snap of 2015. Cook averaged 141.3 rushing yards over the final three games of 2014, while Rudolph caught 38 passes as a true freshman.

Related: Florida State's Jimbo Fisher Ranks as the ACC's No. 1 Coach

 

4. Miami

Total Points: 30

QB: Brad Kaaya (2)

RB: Joseph Yearby (4)

WR: Stacy Coley (9)
 

After an impressive freshman season, Kaaya returns as one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in 2015. Kaaya led the ACC with a 145.9 quarterback rating last year and tossed 26 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. With Duke Johnson off to the NFL, the Hurricanes need a few skill players to emerge to help Kaaya. Joseph Yearby will share time with Gus Edwards at running back, but Yearby is likely to be the starter after averaging 5.9 yards per carry last year. Miami needs Stacy Coley to regain his freshman form after averaging only eight yards per catch in 2014.

Related: Miami Hurricanes 2015 Schedule and Analysis

 

5. North Carolina

Total Points: 27

QB: Marquise Williams (4)

RB: T.J. Logan (10)

WR: Ryan Switzer (4)
 

Under Larry Fedora’s watch, scoring points hasn’t been a problem for North Carolina. The Tar Heels have averaged at least 30 points per game in three consecutive seasons and should easily hit that mark in 2015. Marquise Williams ranked second in the ACC last year by averaging 296.6 total yards per game. Logan averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2014, while Switzer led the team with 61 receptions.

Related: Can Gene Chizik Save the North Carolina Defense?

 

6. NC State

Total Points: 23

QB: Jacoby Brissett (5)

RB: Shadrach Thornton (5)

WR: Bra’Lon Cherry (12)
 

Jacoby Brissett shined in his first season at NC State, throwing for 2,606 yards and 23 scores. The senior should be better in his second year and will push for All-ACC honors. The Wolfpack has to develop a few targets at receiver after Bo Hines decided to transfer after the 2014 season. Shadrach Thornton headlines one of the ACC’s deepest backfields.

 

7. Louisville

Total Points: 23

QB: Reggie Bonnafon (8)

RB: Brandon Radcliff (8)

WR: James Quick (6)
 

If Bonnafon settles into the starting job, Louisville’s offense could improve off last year’s scoring average (31.2). Bonnafon finished spring ahead of Kyle Bolin, Will Gardner and Tyler Ferguson, and the sophomore’s mobility is a huge asset with uncertainty on the offensive line. Radcliff will share carries with Jeremy Smith and L.J. Scott, and Quick is slated to move into the No. 1 receiver role after the departure of DeVante Parker.

 

8. Virginia Tech

Total Points: 22

QB: Michael Brewer (9)

RB: J.C. Coleman (9)

WR: Isaiah Ford (5)
 

It’s no secret the strength of Virginia Tech is its defense. But the Hokies should show some improvement on this side of the ball after averaging only 19.4 points per game in ACC contests in 2014. Michael Brewer tossed 15 interceptions last season and cutting that number in half would help the offense take a step forward. Isaiah Ford is primed for a breakout season after catching 56 passes in 2014, while J.C. Coleman headlines the ground attack after recording at least 95 yards in each of his final four games.

 

9. Boston College

Total Points: 20

QB: Darius Wade (14)

RB: Jon Hilliman (3)

WR: Sherman Alston (8)
 

The Eagles could climb this list by a few spots if Darius Wade quickly settles in at quarterback. Wade completed 3 of 8 passes for 23 yards and rushed for 12 yards as a freshman last year. The receiving corps doesn’t have a plethora of proven options, but Alston is an all-purpose threat. Hilliman rushed for 860 yards as a true freshman last season.

 

10. Virginia

Total Points: 19

QB: Matt Johns (12)

RB: Taquan Mizzell (7)

WR: Caanan Severin (7)
 

With Greyson Lambert transferring out of Charlottesville, Johns has a firm grip on the starting quarterback job. Getting more production out of the quarterback spot is a priority for coach Mike London this season, and Johns won’t have to look over his shoulder with Lambert out of the mix. Mizzell is a breakout candidate, and Severin returns after leading the team with 42 catches in 2014.

 

11. Georgia Tech

Total Points: 16

QB: Justin Thomas (3)

RB: Broderick Snoddy (12)

WR: Ricky Jeune (14)
 

Uncertainty remains for the Yellow Jackets’ offense at running back and receiver. Quarterback Justin Thomas should be among the ACC’s top playmakers this season, but the junior needs help from the supporting cast. Snoddy averaged 10.1 yards per carry in 2014 and is expected to be at full strength after missing the final four games of last year with a leg injury. Jeune is a promising 6-foot-3 target looking for his first career catch in 2015.

Related: No. 18 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2015 Preview and Prediction

 

12. Duke

Total Points: 14

QB: Thomas Sirk (10)

RB: Shaquille Powell (11)

WR: Max McCaffrey (10)
 

Knowing coach David Cutcliffe’s track record at Duke, ranking the Blue Devils at No. 12 here is probably too low. Thomas Sirk showed promise in limited action last season, rushing for 238 yards and eight scores and completing 10 of 14 passes for 67 yards. Powell is expected to lead the team in rushing yardage, but he will have help from Shaun Wilson and Jela Duncan. McCaffrey should see more catches with the departure of Jamison Crowder to the NFL.

Related: Duke's David Cutcliffe Ranks No. 3 Among ACC Coaches for 2015

 

13. Syracuse

Total Points: 10

QB: Terrel Hunt (11)

RB: Devante McFarlane (13)

WR: Steve Ishmael (11)
 

Having a healthy (and full) year from Terrel Hunt should help Syracuse’s offense find a spark after scoring only 17.1 points per game in 2014. McFarlane slides into the No. 1 role in the backfield after averaging six yards per carry on 28 attempts last season. Ishmael is a promising receiver for coordinator Tim Lester after he grabbed 27 receptions for 415 yards and three touchdowns in 2014.

 

14. Wake Forest

Total Points: 5

QB: John Wolford (13)

RB: Dezmond Wortham (14)

WR: Jared Crump (13)
 

The biggest question mark on Wake Forest’s roster isn’t any of the three positions listed above. Rather, it’s an offensive line that allowed 48 sacks in 2014 and enters 2015 with plenty of question marks. If that group improves, so should the production from Wolford, Wortham and Crump. Wolford completed 214 of 367 passes for 2,037 yards and 12 scores as a true freshman last year.

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC's Offensive Triplets for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/what-everett-golsons-transfer-means-florida-state-and-college-football
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The battle to replace Jameis Winston at Florida State has extra competition. Former Notre Dame starter Everett Golson announced his intention to transfer to Tallahassee on Tuesday, and the senior will be eligible immediately as a graduate student. Sean Maguire finished spring as the Seminoles' No. 1 quarterback, but Golson will provide depth at the position and push for the starting job in the fall.

 

Golson completed 443 of 745 passes during his two years at Notre Dame and threw for 5,850 yards and 41 scores. Golson also tossed 20 interceptions in two seasons as the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish.

 

What Everett Golson’s Transfer Means for Florida State

 

1. Taking Everett Golson is the Right Move for Florida State

 

Winston’s production, leadership and on-field performance simply won’t be replaced by Florida State in 2015. And regardless of whether it’s Sean Maguire or Golson taking the first snap, the Seminoles were in a transition season. But taking Golson is really a low-risk, high-reward move for Florida State. After Maguire, the Seminoles have talented freshmen in J.J. Cosentino, De’Andre Johnson and Deondre Francois and sophomore John Franklin III competing for snaps. That’s a lot of youth. Even if Golson doesn’t win the starting job, he’s a proven backup and a good insurance plan.

 

Considering Maguire’s small sample size of snaps, it’s hard to compare the two quarterbacks before fall practice. However, Golson is talented and has experience at a major college program. That’s an upgrade over Maguire’s resume so far in his Florida State career.

 

2. Golson is Not Guaranteed the Starting Job

 

Coach Jimbo Fisher has already made this clear. Maguire finished spring as the top quarterback in Tallahassee, and the junior has one career start (Clemson, 2014) under his belt. Maguire was a three-star prospect in the 2012 signing class and the No. 564 prospect by 247Sports. The New Jersey native clearly lacks the experience that Golson has from two years at Notre Dame. However, Maguire has a clear edge in learning the playbook – but Golson isn’t transferring to sit on the bench.

 

3. How Quickly Can Golson Learn Florida State’s Offense?

 

That’s the big question. Not every graduate transfer at quarterback has succeeded at his new destination. For every Russell Wilson (Wisconsin), there’s a handful of quarterbacks that couldn’t pick up the offense in time or acclimate to their new surroundings. Florida State’s offense is not easy to learn in a short amount of time. Fisher is one of the best in the nation at tutoring quarterbacks and developing offenses, and it’s not easy for a player with a couple of months to pick up the offense. If – and it’s a big if – Golson masters the offense by the end of August, he could start the full season at Florida State.

 

4. Golson’s Mobility Could be an Asset

 

In two years of snaps at Notre Dame, Golson rushed for 581 yards and 14 scores. Here’s why that could be important in 2015: Florida State’s offensive line returns only one starter. If the line struggles early, having a quarterback that can create plays outside of the pocket would be an asset for Fisher.

 

5. Does this Change Florida State’s Outlook in the ACC?

 

Not much. Florida State or Clemson was the favorite in the ACC this season, and Golson’s decision to transfer might tip the scales slightly in favor of the Seminoles just a bit more. As we mentioned above, Florida State is in transition this year. The Seminoles return only 10 starters and have holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Golson probably won't have a season-defining impact but he is likely worth at least one win for Florida State.

 

6. Does this Push Florida State into National Title Contention?

 

As a team, Florida State is better with Golson in the mix. But Golson’s decision to play for the Seminoles doesn’t move this team into Playoff contention. Florida State has enough talent and a favorable schedule to win 10 or 11 games this year. However, becoming a Playoff team will depend heavily on how much the offensive line develops and if the defense improves after ranking ninth or worse in the ACC in the four major categories. Golson certainly helps, but there are bigger question marks for Fisher than the quarterback.

 

7. Who Takes the First Snap for Florida State in 2015?

 

This battle will be close. Maguire started his only game against the nation’s top defense (Clemson) last year and had an up-and-down spring game (which doesn’t mean a whole lot). After spending three years in Fisher’s system, Maguire has a clear edge when it comes to knowledge of the playbook. But the guess here is Golson outperforms Maguire and takes the first snap for Florida State versus Texas State on Sept. 5.

Teaser:
What Everett Golson's Transfer Means to Florida State and College Football
Post date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 14:03
Path: /college-football/cal-footballs-new-rumored-white-helmets-are-awesome
Body:

Cal’s blue and gold traditional uniforms could have some extra company in 2015. Pictures of a new white helmet have started to circulate recently, which features the school’s new logo instead of the “Cal” script.

 

Even if California unveils these for just a game or two, it’s an awesome new look for coach Sonny Dykes’ team.

 

Needless to say, these helmets have our stamp of approval:

 

Teaser:
Cal Football's New (Rumored) White Helmets Are Awesome
Post date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 12:25
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-offensive-triplets-2015
Body:

The Pac-12 is one of college football’s top conferences for offense, and the league is loaded with talent headed into 2015. Even with Marcus Mariota leaving Oregon, there’s no shortage of proven options at quarterback, and the skill talent is deep at running back and receiver.

 

To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 12 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 12 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.

 

Ranking the Pac-12’s Offensive Triplets for 2015

 

1. Arizona

Total Points: 29
QB: Anu Solomon (3)
RB: Nick Wilson (4)
WR: Cayleb Jones (3)
 

Arizona averaged 33.4 points per game in Pac-12 contests last season, and coach Rich Rodriguez’s offense could be even better in 2015. Quarterback Anu Solomon is returning to full strength after suffering from an ankle injury late in 2014. Wilson and Jones are among the Pac-12’s top playmakers.

 

2. Oregon

Total Points: 27
QB: Vernon Adams (4)
RB: Royce Freeman (3)
WR: Byron Marshall (5)
 

Marcus Mariota will be missed, but the Ducks offense should still remain among the Pac-12’s best. Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams replaces Mariota at quarterback, and Oregon’s running back and wide receiving corps are among the best in college football.

Related: Oregon Football Turns the Page from "Emotional" Ending

 

3. USC

Total Points: 27
QB: Cody Kessler (1)
RB: Justin Davis (10)
WR: JuJu Smith (1)
 

The only thing holding USC back from ranking No. 1 on this list is the committee approach at running back. Will someone step up as the go-to back in 2015? Cody Kessler ranks as the Pac-12’s best quarterback, and JuJu Smith should have a huge year as the Trojans’ top receiver.

Related: USC's Cody Kessler is the Pac-12's No. 1 QB for 2015

 

4. California

Total Points: 26
QB: Jared Goff (2)
RB: Daniel Lasco (5)
WR: Kenny Lawler (6)
 

The Golden Bears ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 (conference-only games) by averaging 37.6 points per contest last year. Don’t be surprised if that number climbs even higher in 2015, as coach Sonny Dykes has a loaded receiver corps, one of the nation’s rising stars at quarterback in Jared Goff, along with an underrated running back in Daniel Lasco.

 

5. UCLA

Total Points: 24
QB: Josh Rosen (9)
RB: Paul Perkins (2)
WR: Jordan Payton (4)
 

Uncertainty remains at quarterback with the departure of Brett Hundley, but true freshman Josh Rosen is one of the top recruits in the 2015 signing class. Running back Paul Perkins led the Pac-12 with 1,575 rushing yards last season, and receiver Jordan Payton averaged 14.3 yards per reception in conference games.

 

6. Arizona State

Total Points: 21
QB: Mike Bercovici (5)
RB: Demario Richard (6)
WR: D.J. Foster (7)
 

The Sun Devils have a balanced trio and could easily climb this list by the end of 2015. Bercovici has played well in limited action, and Richard is set to have a breakout year as Arizona State’s No. 1 running back. D.J. Foster will slide from running back to receiver to replace the production lost by Jaelen Strong.

Related: Arizona State's Todd Graham Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 1 Coach for 2015

 

7. Colorado

Total Points: 19
QB: Sefo Liufau (7)
RB: Christian Powell (11)
WR: Nelson Spruce (2)
 

Expect to see plenty of Liufau to Spruce connections in Boulder this spring, as the Buffaloes ranked third in the Pac-12 with 545 pass attempts in 2014. Liufau is one of the conference’s rising stars, while Spruce tied for the Pac-12 lead with 12 touchdown catches last year. Christian Powell leads the way in the backfield after leading the team in rushing in each of the last three seasons.

 

8. Utah

Total Points: 18
QB: Travis Wilson (8)
RB: Devontae Booker (1)
WR: Kenneth Scott (12)
 

If the passing game takes a step forward, there’s potential for the Utes to rank higher on the list by the end of 2015. Devontae Booker is coming off a standout 2014 campaign and ranks as Athlon’s top running back in the Pac-12. Wilson cut his interceptions from 16 in 2013 to just five in 313 attempts last year.

Related: Utah's Devontae Booker Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 1 RB for 2015

 

9. Stanford

Total Points: 17
QB: Kevin Hogan (6)
RB: Christian McCaffrey (8)
WR: Devon Cajuste (8)
 

The Pac-12’s overall offensive depth pushes Stanford down this list a bit, but the Cardinal has a balanced and effective trio. Quarterback Kevin Hogan finished the year on a high note, and the offense should benefit from a full year of Christian McCaffrey as the go-to running back. Devon Cajuste averaged 16.4 yards per catch in 2014.

 

10. Oregon State

Total Points: 10
QB: Seth Collins (12)
RB: Storm Woods (7)
WR: Victor Bolden (10)
 

Solving the quarterback position is new coach Gary Andersen’s biggest task this offseason. Collins enrolled in time to compete this spring and has an edge to start over redshirt freshman Nick Mitchell. Storm Woods should reach 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career, while Bolden is back after leading the team with 72 receptions in 2014.

Related: Oregon State Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake is a Coach on the Rise

 

11. Washington State

Total Points: 8
QB: Luke Falk (10)
RB: Jamal Morrow (12)
WR: River Cracraft (9)
 

This is another team poised to climb the rankings if the pieces fall into place. Luke Falk and Peyton Bender are locked into a tight battle for the starting quarterback spot, and the receiving corps is loaded with playmakers. Washington State won’t run the ball a ton, but Morrow caught 61 passes last year.

 

12. Washington

Total Points: 8
QB: K.J. Carta-Samuels (11)
RB: Dwayne Washington (9)
WR: Jaydon Mickens (11)
 

Second-year coach Chris Petersen has a busy offseason ahead. Washington returns only nine starters, has uncertainty at quarterback and must replace three standout defensive players from 2014. K.J. Carta-Samuels gets a slight edge at quarterback, but Jeff Lindquist and Jake Browning aren’t far behind. Washington rushed for at least 100 yards in three out of his last four games and should see an increased workload in 2015.

Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12's Offensive Triplets for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-offensive-triplets-2015
Body:

Proven offensive talent is plentiful in the SEC this year. Quarterback Dak Prescott should be among the frontrunners to earn first-team All-America honors, while running back Nick Chubb is one of the leading candidates to win the Heisman. Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell should be back at 100 percent after a leg injury ended his 2014 season.

 

Ranking the best quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers by conference is a key part of any offseason preview. But what happens when you combine those three positions to form a trio? Of course, this is a fictional argument since there’s no game that compares the trios of any team. But it’s an interesting offseason question to debate.

 

To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 14 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 14 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position. 

 

Ranking the SEC’s Offensive Triplets for 2015

 

1. Auburn

Total Points: 31

QB: Jeremy Johnson (2)

RB: Jovon Robinson (9)

WR: Duke Williams (3)

 

Gus Malzahn’s offense has averaged over 30 points per game in back-to-back seasons in SEC contests. The 2015 version of Auburn’s offense will be just as explosive, as quarterback Jeremy Johnson is a rising star, and there’s no shortage of skill talent, including All-America candidate at receiver Duke Williams.

 

Related: Auburn's Gus Malzahn Ranks as the SEC's No. 2 Coach in 2015

 

2. Tennessee

Total Points: 29

QB: Joshua Dobbs (3)

RB: Jalen Hurd (6)

WR: Marquez North (7)

 

Tennessee is on its way back into SEC East title contention under third-year coach Butch Jones. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs shined in the second half of 2014, and the junior will be surrounded by a young and talented group of skill players. Hurd leads the way in the Volunteers’ backfield, but junior college recruit (and former Alabama running back) Alvin Kamara is a player to watch in 2015. Receiver Marquez North was limited by injuries last season.

 

Related: Tennessee Ranks No. 22 in the 2015 College Football Top 25

 

3. Mississippi State

Total Points: 27

QB: Dak Prescott (1)

RB: Ashton Shumpert (13)

WR: De’Runnya Wilson (4)

 

Mississippi State and Arkansas tied for the third spot on this list, but let’s give the edge to the Bulldogs with the SEC’s No. 1 quarterback in senior Dak Prescott. While running back Josh Robinson will be missed, there’s talent in place with Ashton Shumpert and Aeris Williams battling for carries. Wilson averaged 15.3 yards per catch in SEC games last year.

 

Related: Mississippi State Ranks No. 21 in the 2015 College Football Top 25

 

4. Arkansas

Total Points: 27

QB: Brandon Allen (6)

RB: Alex Collins/Jonathan Williams (4)

WR: Keon Hatcher (8)

 

The Razorbacks improved their scoring average by 11.2 points per game from 2013 to 2014. Expect this unit to take another step forward under new coordinator Dan Enos, as Arkansas returns an experienced quarterback in Brandon Allen and the nation’s top running back duo in Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams.

 

Related: Arkansas Ranks No. 16 in the 2015 College Football Top 25

 

5. Georgia

Total Points: 25

QB: Brice Ramsey (9)

RB: Nick Chubb (1)

WR: Malcolm Mitchell (10)

 

New coordinator Brian Schottenheimer doesn’t plan to alter the strength of Georgia’s offense, but the passing attack needs some work with a new quarterback and uncertainty at receiver. Running back Nick Chubb is one of the nation’s best, while the Bulldogs need a healthy year from receiver Malcolm Mitchell.

 

Related: Georgia's Nick Chubb is the SEC's No. 1 RB for 2015

 

6. Texas A&M

Total Points: 24

QB: Kyle Allen (4)

RB: Tra Carson (11)

WR: Josh Reynolds (6)

 

The Aggies will have an explosive offense once again. Coach Kevin Sumlin’s team is loaded with talent at running back and receiver, while quarterback Kyle Allen should thrive in his first full season as the starter.

 

Related: Texas A&M Ranks No. 20 in the 2015 College Football Top 25

 

7. Alabama

Total Points: 23

QB: Jacob Coker (8)

RB: Derrick Henry (3)

WR: Robert Foster (11)

 

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Alabama finishes higher on this list in 2015. But ranking higher than No. 7 in the postseason largely depends on how far the Crimson Tide’s passing attack develops. Jacob Coker is the projected starter here, but David Cornwell is still in the mix. There’s talent at receiver. But who steps up to replace Amari Cooper?

 

Related: Alabama's Nick Saban is the SEC's No. 1 Coach

 

8. LSU

Total Points: 22

QB: Brandon Harris (12)

RB: Leonard Fournette (2)

WR: Travin Dural (6)

 

Quarterback remains a question mark for coach Les Miles, but LSU has one of the nation’s top running backs in sophomore Leonard Fournette, along with a cast of talented receivers. Travin Dural ranked third among SEC receivers with eight catches for 30 yards or more in 2015.

 

9. Missouri

Total Points: 22

QB: Maty Mauk (5)

RB: Russell Hansbrough (5)

WR: Nate Brown (13)

 

Ranking Missouri ninth in the SEC in offensive triplets seems low considering the success this team has had in finding new receivers under coach Gary Pinkel. Nate Brown appears to be the next standout receiver for the Tigers, but the offense also needs better play from quarterback Maty Mauk in SEC games (48.9 percent in league games last year). Russell Hansbrough might be the league’s most underrated running back.

 

10. Ole Miss

Total Points: 20

QB: Chad Kelly (10)

RB: Jaylen Walton (14)

WR: Laquon Treadwell (1)

 

The Rebels have the SEC’s No. 1 receiver in Laquon Treadwell, but question marks remain at quarterback and at running back. Junior college (and former Clemson) quarterback Chad Kelly is the frontrunner to replace Bo Wallace, while Jaylen Walton, Akeem Judd and Eugene Brazley all could share carries at running back.

 

11. Kentucky

Total Points: 19

QB: Patrick Towles (7)

RB: Boom Williams (7)

WR: Ryan Timmons (12)

 

Kentucky has work to do on defense, but the offense returns nearly intact after averaging 29.2 points per game in 2014. Quarterback Patrick Towles ranked fifth in the SEC with 226.5 passing yards per contest, and receiver Ryan Timmons led the team with 45 catches last year. Boom Williams is one of the SEC’s top breakout candidates in 2015.

 

12. Florida

Total Points: 19

QB: Will Grier (11)

RB: Kelvin Taylor (10)

WR: Demarcus Robinson (5)

 

The pieces are in place for Florida’s offense to improve under first-year coach Jim McElwain. Will Grier edged Treon Harris for the starting quarterback job in the spring, and Kelvin Taylor and Demarcus Robinson should push for All-SEC honors. Offensive line isn’t a factor here, but the Gators have major concerns about their starting five.

 

13. South Carolina

Total Points: 18

QB: Connor Mitch (13)

RB: David Williams (12)

WR: Pharoh Cooper (2)

 

Pharoh Cooper was all-purpose threat for the Gamecocks last year, and the North Carolina native is also one of the SEC’s top receivers. David Williams and Brandon Wilds are expected to share carries in replacing Mike Davis. Both players averaged over five yards per carry in limited action last year. Connor Mitch is the frontrunner to replace Dylan Thompson and has only six career pass attempts.

 

Related: South Carolina's Steve Spurrier Ranks as the SEC's No. 3 Coach

 

14. Vanderbilt

Total Points: 9

QB: Johnny McCrary (14)

RB: Ralph Webb (8)

WR: C.J. Duncan (14)

 

New play-caller Andy Ludwig has a lot of work to do this offseason. The Commodores averaged only 12.8 points per game in SEC contests last season. Quarterback play remains a concern, but Ludwig has a promising running back to build around in sophomore Ralph Webb.

Teaser:
Ranking the SEC's Offensive Triplets for 2015
Post date: Monday, May 18, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/penn-state-dt-anthony-zettel-tackles-tree
Body:

Penn State’s Anthony Zettel is one of the top defensive tackles in the nation. The Michigan native recorded 17 tackles for a loss and eight sacks in 13 games last season.

 

Despite his huge 2014 campaign, Zettel isn’t sitting idle this offseason. Instead, Zettel is keeping in shape by tackling a tree.

 

Showing proper tackling form, here’s a short video from Zettel just destroying a tree:
 

Teaser:
Penn State DT Anthony Zettel Tackles a Tree
Post date: Monday, May 18, 2015 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-running-backs-2015
Body:

The Big 12 had just three players rush for 1,000 yards in 2014, which was the fewest amount by a Power 5 conference. However, all three players – Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, Baylor’s Shock Linwood and Texas Tech’s DeAndre Washington – are back in 2015.

 

Perine is one of the nation’s top running backs after recording 1,713 yards and 21 scores in his freshman campaign in 2014. Baylor’s Shock Linwood ranked second on the conference in yards with 1,252, while Texas Tech’s DeAndre Washington was third with 1,103 yards. There’s some emerging names to watch in this conference, including West Virginia’s Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood, along with Texas senior Johnathan Gray.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of running backs only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the running backs in the Big 12 for 2015.

 

Order the 2015 Athlon Sports Big 12 Preview, featuring previews, predictions and rankings, as well as everything you need to prepare for the upcoming season.

 

Ranking the Big 12’s Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Samaje Perine, Oklahoma

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Even though the Sooners have a new offensive scheme and coordinator, Perine is still a major part of the gameplan. He led all Oklahoma rushers with 1,713 yards and 21 scores last season and recorded five 100-yard efforts over his last six games. Perine also set the FBS single-game rushing record with 427 yards in a 44-7 rout over Kansas. Joe Mixon and Alex Ross will be involved, but Perine should push for All-America honors in 2015.

 

2. Shock Linwood, Baylor

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Baylor’s explosive passing offense gets all of the attention in Waco, but Linwood has quietly emerged as one of the Big 12’s top running backs over the last two seasons. Linwood rushed for 881 yards and eight scores as a freshman in 2013 and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark with 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. He also recorded four 100-yard efforts in Big 12 games in 2014.

 

Related: Baylor's Art Briles Ranks as the Big 12's No. 1 Coach

 

3. DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Washington ranked as the Big 12’s third-leading rusher last season, recording 1,103 yards and two scores on 188 attempts. The Texas native had just one game of more than 25 carries, but he made the most of his opportunities by averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Washington was also a key target in the passing game and showcased his versatility by catching 30 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns.

Related: Texas Tech Needs David Gibbs to Reverse Defensive Woes

 

4. Aaron Green, TCU

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Green quickly emerged as TCU’s go-to back after B.J. Catalon missed the final five games of 2014 due to injury. The Texas native recorded 922 rushing yards and nine scores on just 129 attempts. He was also a weapon for quarterback Trevone Boykin out of the backfield, catching 19 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Of running backs with at least 100 carries in the Big 12 last season, Green recorded the highest yards per carry average (7.2).

 

Related: TCU's Trevone Boykin Ranks as the Big 12's No. 1 Quarterback for 2015

 

5. Johnathan Gray, Texas

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

It’s a close call between Gray and West Virginia’s Rushel Shell for the No. 5 spot on this list. Gray suffered a torn Achilles in 2013 and missed the final four games of the season. However, he showed little rust in his return, rushing for 636 yards and seven scores in a backup role to starter Malcolm Brown. Gray recorded one 100-yard effort (West Virginia) and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. With Gray a full year removed from Achilles surgery, he should push for his best career season at Texas.

 

Related: Texas Ranks as the Big 12's No. 1 Coaching Job

 

6. Rushel Shell, West Virginia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Shell made an immediate impact in his first season as West Virginia’s go-to back. In 12 games, the Pittsburgh transfer recorded 788 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Shell posted three 100-yard efforts, including 146 in the regular season finale against Iowa State. Expect the Mountaineers to use Shell as the No. 1 back once again, but Wendell Smallwood and Donte Thomas-Williams will see their share of opportunities.

 

7. Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Smallwood might be one of the Big 12’s most underrated players. In 13 games last season, the Delaware native ranked second on the team with 722 rushing yards and caught 31 passes for 326 yards. Smallwood should see a similar role in West Virginia’s offense this season and is one of the top all-purpose threats in the Big 12.

 

8. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma

2015 Year of Eligibility: Redshirt Freshman

 

Mixon was suspended for all of 2014 due to an off-field incident, but he’s primed for a breakout year for the Sooners. The California native was a five-star recruit in the 2014 signing class and ranked as the No. 21 overall prospect.

 

9. Alex Ross, Oklahoma

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Oklahoma’s backfield is overflowing with talent, as Samaje Perine is already one of the best in the nation, and Joe Mixon is ready for a breakout year in his redshirt freshman campaign. But Ross shouldn’t be overlooked, as the Oklahoma native rushed for 614 yards and four scores in his first two seasons in Norman. Ross averages 6.7 yards per carry and was one of the nation’s top kickoff returners last year.

 

10. Corey Avery, Kansas

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Avery is one of the few proven playmakers for new coach David Beaty. However, Avery’s status for 2015 is uncertain after he was suspended indefinitely at the end of spring. As a freshman last season, Avery rushed for 631 yards and five touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 189 yards and two scores.

 

Other Big 12 Running Backs to Watch in 2015

 

Tyler Brown/Mike Warren, Iowa State

Iowa State’s backfield is filled with uncertainty, but the coaching staff has promising options in Brown and Warren. Brown recorded 109 yards in limited action last season, while Warren spent 2014 as a redshirt.

 

Duke Catalon/D’Onta Foreman, Texas

Foreman rushed for 74 yards as a freshman last year, while Catalon spent 2014 as a redshirt. Both players will battle for carries and spell starter Johnathan Gray.

 

Rennie Childs/Chris Carson, Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State must replace its top two leading rushers from last season, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about this backfield going into fall practice. Childs rushed for 294 yards and three scores in a reserve role in 2014, while Carson was a key pickup on the recruiting trail from Butler Community College.

 

Johnny Jefferson/Devin Chafin, Baylor

Jefferson and Chafin combined for 907 yards and 14 rushing scores last season. Both players will work as backups to Shock Linwood in 2015.

 

Charles Jones/Dalvin Warmack/Alex Barnes, Kansas State

Jones rushed for 13 touchdowns last year, but Kansas State needs more from its rushing attack after averaging only 3.7 yards per carry in 2014. Warmack (redshirt) and Barnes are two potential breakout candidates - if they get enough opportunities in 2015.

 

De’Andre Mann, Kansas

If Corey Avery does not return to the team, Mann and junior college transfer Ke’aun Kinner will headline the Kansas rushing attack.

 

Shaun Nixon/Trevorris Johnson/Kyle Hicks, TCU

Aaron Green will handle the bulk of the carries for TCU. However, there’s a talented trio of backs capable of spelling Green when he needs a rest. Johnson averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 53 attempts last year.

 

Justin Stockton, Texas Tech

Stockton is one of the Big 12’s fastest players and averaged 8.3 yards per rush in 2014. Expect the sophomore to be one of the conference’s top big-play threats in 2015.

 

Donte Thomas-Williams, West Virginia

Four-star recruit in the 2014 signing class is ready to contribute after a redshirt year.

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The Big Ten boasted the nation’s only two running backs that eclipsed 2,000 yards last season, and both players – Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman – have moved onto the NFL. But the running back position isn’t devoid of talent in the conference in 2015, as Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott is one of the nation’s best and is back to help the Buckeyes’ make another run at the national title.

 

Elliott is the clear No. 1 back in the Big Ten, but Wisconsin’s Corey Clement should be a capable replacement for Gordon, and Northwestern’s Justin Jackson is a rising star entering his sophomore year.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of running backs only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the running backs in the Big Ten for 2015.

 

Ranking the Big Ten’s Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Elliott is in the mix to be the nation’s top running back after a strong finish to the 2014 season. The Missouri native rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the final five games, including 220 or more in each of the last three. Elliott gashed Oregon for 246 yards and four scores in Ohio State’s national championship win.

 

Related: Ohio State's Urban Meyer is the Big Ten's No. 1 Coach for 2015

 

2. Corey Clement, Wisconsin

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Melvin Gordon leaves big shoes to fill in Madison, but the Badgers are in great shape at running back. Clement is slated to move into the No. 1 role after working as Gordon’s top backup in 2014. In 14 games last season, Clement rushed for 949 yards and nine scores and averaged 6.5 yards per carry on 147 attempts.

 

3. Justin Jackson, Northwestern

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Venric Mark’s August departure created a void in Northwestern’s rushing attack, but Jackson quickly emerged as the go-to option for coach Pat Fitzgerald. In 12 games, Jackson recorded 1,187 yards and 10 scores and caught 22 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown. The Illinois native rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his last three games, including a 149-yard effort against Notre Dame.

 

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Football Coaching Jobs for 2015

 

4. Jordan Howard, Indiana

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Make no mistake: Tevin Coleman will be missed this year. However, Indiana found an excellent replacement in Howard, who was eligible to play immediately after transferring in from UAB. In 12 games with the Blazers last season, Howard recorded 1,587 yards and 13 scores. Howard posted solid outings against SEC competition (89 yards against Mississippi State and 90 yards against Arkansas) and gashed Southern Mississippi in the 2014 season finale for 262 yards.

 

5. Akeel Lynch, Penn State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Largely due to a struggling offensive line, Penn State’s rushing attack managed only 74.8 yards per game last season. The outlook on the Nittany Lions’ line is better in 2015, and the rushing game should show improvement on the stat sheet. Lynch led the team with 678 yards and also scored four of the team’s 13 rushing touchdowns. The second half of the year is where Lynch asserted himself as the team’s top back, rushing for 130 yards against Temple and 137 against Illinois. Lynch is a name that could climb this list by a couple of spots if Penn State’s offensive line takes a major step forward.

 

Related: Penn State's Christian Hackenberg Ranks as the Big Ten's No. 3 QB for 2015

 

6. Josh Ferguson, Illinois

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

With standout receiver Mike Dudek out indefinitely with a torn ACL, the Fighting Illini need quarterback Wes Lunt and running back Josh Ferguson to take on an even bigger role in the offense this year. Ferguson has led the team in rushing yardage in back-to-back seasons and has 131 receptions in four years of playing time. Ferguson’s workload will likely increase this season after never surpassing 15 carries in any game in 2014.

 

7. Terrell Newby, Nebraska

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Replacing Ameer Abdullah isn’t going to be easy for new coach Mike Riley. The Cornhuskers have three potential replacements for Abdullah, with Newby exiting spring as the favorite. The California native has played in a reserve role over the last two seasons and posted nearly identical statistical outputs. Newby rushed for 297 yards on 67 attempts in 2014 and 298 yards on 54 carries in 2013. Imani Cross and Adam Taylor will also see time in the backfield this year.

 

8. Ty Isaac, Michigan

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

This spot could go to Derrick Green, but let’s project Isaac to have an impact in his first year in Ann Arbor. Isaac was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and managed 236 yards on 40 carries as a freshman at USC in 2013. After sitting out last season due to transfer rules, Isaac was limited in the spring with an ankle injury. However, at 240 pounds, he’s a power runner and a good fit for coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense.

 

Related: Where is Jim Harbaugh in the Big Ten Coach Rankings for 2015?

 

9. Paul James, Rutgers

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

A running back from Rutgers should be on this list. But which one? Paul James led the Scarlet Knights with 881 yards and nine scores in 2013 and rushed for 363 yards through the first four games of 2014. However, James has battled injuries throughout his career, and sophomores Josh Hicks and Robert Martin emerged as breakout players at the end of last year. Will James return at full strength from a torn ACL? Or will Martin or Hicks claim the top spots in the Rutgers’ backfield?

 

10. Jordan Canzeri, Iowa

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Mark Weisman has expired his eligibility, leaving Iowa with Canzeri, LeShun Daniels, Jonathan Parker and Akrum Wadley battling for carries this offseason. Canzeri is the leading candidate to replace Weisman after finishing second on the team with 494 yards last year. However, a committee approach is likely for coach Kirk Ferentz in 2015.

 

Other Big Ten Running Backs to Watch in 2015

 

Imani Cross, Nebraska

Cross has rushed for 1,184 yards and 22 rushing scores over the last three years in Lincoln. Terrell Newby is expected to start, but Cross will remain involved in Nebraska’s new offense.

 

Derrick Green, Michigan

Green was off to a promising start last year, rushing for 471 yards and three scores on 82 attempts before a season-ending clavicle injury. He will compete with Ty Isaac and De’Veon Smith for the No. 1 spot in Michigan’s backfield.

 

Keyante Green/Markell Jones, Purdue

The Boilermakers must replace their top two running backs from last season, with Green and Jones slated to battle for the top spot in the fall. Green rushed for 199 yards on 27 attempts in a reserve role in 2014, while Markell Jones is expected to push for time after winning Indiana’s Mr. Football award as a high school senior.

 

Josh Hicks/Robert Martin, Rutgers

Promising sophomore duo will push Paul James for snaps this season.

 

Madre London/Gerald Holmes/LJ Scott/Delton Williams, Michigan State

All signs point to Michigan State using a committee approach as it looks to replace Jeremy Langford. London, Holmes, Scott and Williams are talented, but will one runner clearly emerge as the No. 1 option?

 

Brandon Ross, Maryland

Quarterback C.J. Brown led the team with 539 rushing yards last season, while Ross finished second with 419 yards. The senior is slated to take the top spot in the backfield, but the Terrapins will utilize Wes Brown plenty in 2015.

 

Curtis Samuel, Ohio State

Samuel should have a bigger role in Ohio State’s offense after averaging 6.6 yards per carry on 58 attempts in 2014.

 

Rodrick Williams, Minnesota

If Williams is going to get the full workload in Minnesota’s offense, then the senior should be among the top 10 names on this list. However, redshirt freshman Rodney Smith is in the mix for carries, as well as talented redshirt freshman Jeff Jones (if he doesn’t stay at receiver). 

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Ranking the Big Ten's Running Backs for 2015
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The Pac-12 is a loaded league for running back talent in 2015. Utah’s Devontae Booker is coming off a huge season in his first year with the Utes and ranks as the conference’s top back. But UCLA’s Paul Perkins is a close second, and the junior will take on an even bigger role in the offense with quarterback Brett Hundley’s departure.

 

The depth of the league’s running backs extends to Oregon’s Royce Freeman. The sophomore might be the league’s most talented running back, but Thomas Tyner is expected to see plenty of carries in 2015. Arizona’s Nick Wilson and California’s Daniel Lasco round out the top five backs in the Pac-12 this year.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of running backs only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the running backs in the Pac-12 for 2015.

 

Ranking the Pac-12’s Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Devontae Booker, Utah

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

In Booker’s first season in Salt Lake City, the California native emerged as the Pac-12’s top running back. In 13 games, Booker rushed for 1,512 yards and 10 scores and caught 43 passes for 306 yards. Booker led the Pac-12 by averaging 22.5 rushing attempts per game and recorded seven 100-yard efforts. His best performance came in a 29-23 overtime win over Oregon State with 229 yards on 32 carries. Defenses often stacked the box against Booker with an inconsistent passing game, yet the junior college product managed to average 116.3 rushing yards per game in 2014.

 

2. Paul Perkins, UCLA

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

It’s a close call between Booker and Perkins for the top spot in this article. A slight edge goes to Booker, but Perkins led the Pac-12 by averaging 121.2 rushing yards per game in 2014. He also recorded nine scores on the ground and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Perkins posted six 100-yard efforts and had three games where he averaged at least nine yards per rush. With Brett Hundley off to the NFL, Perkins will be the focal point of UCLA’s offense in 2015. 

 

3. Royce Freeman, Oregon

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Just based on overall talent, a strong case could be made Freeman is the No. 1 back in the Pac-12. As a true freshman in 2014, Freeman recorded 1,365 yards and 18 scores and caught 16 passes for 158 yards. The California native also posted six 100-yard efforts, including a 114-yard game against Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship. With Thomas Tyner back at full strength, Freeman’s totals may not climb much in 2015.

Related: Oregon Turns the Page from "Emotional" Ending

 

4. Nick Wilson, Arizona

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Rich Rodriguez handed the Arizona backfield to a pair of freshmen last year, and Anu Solomon (QB) and Wilson (RB) delivered in a big way. Solomon passed for 3,793 yards, while Wilson led the team with 1,375 yards and 16 scores. Wilson missed the game against USC due to an ankle injury but still tied for the Pac-12 lead in runs of 30 yards or more (seven). And here’s the scary thought for the rest of the Pac-12: Wilson is only going to get better in 2015.

Related: Arizona's Rich Rodriguez is the Pac-12's No. 2 Coach for 2015

 

5. Daniel Lasco, California

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Lasco might be the Pac-12’s most underrated player. While California’s passing attack and quarterback Jared Goff grabs most of the headlines, Lasco quietly rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 scores last season. The Texas native also grabbed 33 receptions in 12 games and ended the year with three 100-yard efforts over his final four contests. At 210 pounds, Lasco is versatile, has the size to attack defenses between the tackles but also possesses the necessary quickness to hit the outside.

Related: California's Jared Goff Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 2 QB for 2015

 

6. Demario Richard, Arizona State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Richard is the first of two breakout candidates to rank inside of the top 10 for 2015. Just how confident is Arizona State’s coaching staff in Richard’s ability to carry the rushing attack this year? D.J. Foster was moved from running back to receiver after rushing for 1,081 yards in 2014. Richard recorded 478 yards and four scores on 84 attempts and also caught 13 passes for 156 yards and four touchdowns last year. Expect big things from Richard over the next few seasons in Tempe.

Related: Arizona State's Todd Graham Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 1 Coach

 

7. Thomas Tyner, Oregon

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Tyner made a splash as a freshman in 2013 serving as a backup to Byron Marshall, rushing for 711 yards and nine scores on 115 carries. Most expected Tyner to move into the top spot in the Oregon backfield, but Royce Freeman stole the spotlight as a true freshman and finished with the team lead in rushing yardage. Tyner finished 2014 with 573 yards and five scores but also missed four games due to injury. The junior could rank higher on this list based on talent. However, how will the carry situation play out in Eugene this year?

 

8. Storm Woods, Oregon State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

New coach Gary Andersen plans on altering Oregon State’s offensive approach, and Woods should see more opportunities in 2015. The Texas native has led the Beavers in rushing yardage in two out of the last three years and nearly reached the 1,000-yard mark in 2012. Woods averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 2014 and is poised for his best season in an Oregon State uniform.

Related: Oregon State's Kalani Sitake is a Defensive Coach on the Rise

 

9. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

McCaffrey is poised for a breakout year in his sophomore campaign. The Colorado native rushed for only 300 yards as a freshman in 2014. However, 217 of those yards came in the final four games of the year, including a 77-yard effort on eight carries against Utah. McCaffrey also showed why he’s an all-purpose threat for coach David Shaw, catching 17 passes for 251 yards and averaging 17.1 yards on nine punt returns.

 

10. Dwayne Washington, Washington

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Washington was a bright spot on a Washington offense that ranked ninth in the Pac-12 in scoring last season. The California native was voted as the team’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player after rushing for 697 yards and nine scores in 2014. Washington battled injuries last season but closed out 2014 by rushing for at least 100 yards in three out of his last four games, including a 135-yard effort against Washington State.

 

Other Pac-12 Running Backs to Watch in 2015

 

Kalen Ballage, Arizona State

Demario Richard is Arizona State’s big-play back, while Ballage is 6-foot-3 power rusher from Colorado. Ballage recorded 126 yards on 42 attempts last season and is due for an uptick in carries with D.J. Foster moving to receiver. And how’s this for versatility: Ballage may play a few snaps on defense this year.

 

Justin Davis/Tre Madden/Ronald Jones, USC

Will the Trojans find a No. 1 back or use a committee approach? Coach Steve Sarkisian has some talented options to choose from, including Davis who rushed for 595 yards last year. Madden recorded 703 yards in 2013, while Jones was a four-star recruit in the 2015 signing class.

 

Christian Powell, Colorado

Colorado’s backfield depth is improving under coach Mike MacIntyre, and the Buffaloes are expected to use a committee approach once again in 2015. Powell has led the team for rushing in three consecutive seasons but has never recorded higher than 700 yards in a season.

 

Remound Wright, Stanford

Wright led Stanford with 601 yards and 11 rushing scores last season. The senior is expected to retain a major role in the Cardinal backfield for 2015, but Christian McCaffrey is expected to slide into the No. 1 job.

 

Gerard Wicks/Jamal Morrow, Washington State

It’s no secret the Cougars are a pass-first offense, and coach Mike Leach’s team had the fewest rushing attempts of any FBS program last year. Wicks and Morrow combined for just 585 yards and four scores in 2014 and return as the top options in 2015. Morrow also grabbed 61 receptions last season.

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Ranking the Pac-12's Running Backs for 2015
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The SEC could be the nation’s best conference for running backs in 2015. Georgia’s Nick Chubb should be a first-team All-American, while LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Alabama’s Derrick Henry should be in the mix for second or third-team honors.

 

And the depth in the conference extends past the top three names with the nation’s top running back duo in Arkansas’ Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, while Missouri’s Russell Hansbrough is an underrated player after topping 1,000 yards in 2014.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of running backs only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the running backs in the SEC for 2015.

 

Ranking the SEC’s Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Nick Chubb, Georgia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Georgia’s rushing attack never missed a beat despite losing Todd Gurley to a suspension and torn ACL in 2014. Chubb emerged as one of the nation’s top running backs over the second half of last season, finishing the 2014 campaign with 1,547 yards and 14 scores. The five-star recruit in the 2014 signing class averaged 165.4 rushing yards over the final eight games.

 

Related: Ranking the SEC's College Towns for 2015

 

2. Leonard Fournette, LSU

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Fournette ranked as the No. 1 player in the 2014 247Sports Composite and showcased his talent by finishing the year with 1,034 yards and 10 scores. Both of those totals led all LSU rushers, while his 5.5 yards per carry average ranked fifth among SEC backs with at least 180 carries. Fournette recorded only 187 carries last year, so there’s an opportunity to increase his workload by at least 50 attempts in 2015.

 

3. Derrick Henry, Alabama

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

With T.J. Yeldon off to the NFL, Henry is ready for his chance to be the No. 1 back in Tuscaloosa. The Florida native led Alabama with 990 rushing yards on 172 attempts last season and tied with Yeldon with 11 rushing scores. Expect Henry to eclipse 200 carries and reach 1,000 yards in his junior campaign. At 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds, Henry is one of the most physically gifted runners in the nation.

 

Related: Alabama's Nick Saban is the SEC's No. 1 Coach for 2015

 

4. Jonathan Williams, Arkansas

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Williams and teammate Alex Collins are essentially 4a and 4b here. Williams led the Razorbacks with 1,190 yards last season and edged Collins in yards per carry (5.6 to 5.4). The senior also rushed for more yards in SEC games than Collins (575 to 520) and finished the 2014 season by recording 105 yards on 23 attempts against Texas in the Texas Bowl.

Related: Arkansas Razorbacks 2015 Schedule Analysis

 

5. Alex Collins, Arkansas

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

As we mentioned above, it’s essentially a coin flip between Williams and Collins for the No. 4 spot. Collins led Arkansas with 1,026 yards in 2013 but finished 90 yards behind Williams (1,190 to 1,100) in 2014. The Florida native recorded only one 100-yard effort in SEC games last season and scored in eight out of Arkansas’ 13 contests in 2014.

 

6. Russell Hansbrough, Missouri

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Hansbrough was one of only seven running backs in the SEC to reach 1,000 yards last year and might be the conference’s most underrated rusher. In 14 games, Hansbrough rushed for 1,084 yards and 10 scores last season and recorded four 100-yard efforts. He also finished the year on a high note, rushing for 114 yards on 15 attempts against Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl.

 

7. Jalen Hurd, Tennessee

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Hurd ranked as the No. 40 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite and led the Tennessee rushing attack with 899 yards in his true freshman season. The Tennessee native was also a valuable pass catcher out of the backfield by grabbing 35 receptions for 221 yards and two scores. Hurd is expected to remain the No. 1 back for the Volunteers, but after the offense generated only 11 rushing plays of 20 yards or more last season, expect to see junior college recruit (and former Alabama running back) Alvin Kamara heavily involved in 2015.

 

8. Boom Williams, Kentucky

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Looking for the SEC’s next breakout star at running back? Take a look at Kentucky’s Boom Williams. The Georgia native is due for a bigger role in the backfield after leading the Wildcats with 486 rushing yards and five scores on just 74 carries in 2014. Williams had only two games of more than 10 carries, including the season finale against Louisville (18 carries for 126 yards). He also averaged 10.5 yards per play last year and emerged as an all-purpose threat with game-changing ability on kickoffs and as a receiver.

 

9. Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Vanderbilt’s offense struggled mightily last season, averaging only 12.8 points per game in SEC contests. But Webb was a bright spot for coach Derek Mason, leading the Commodores with 907 rushing yards. Webb also led the team with four rushing scores and added 10 receptions. Vanderbilt’s offense still has a lot of question marks entering 2015, but Mason and new coordinator Andy Ludwig can rely on Webb for a 1,000-yard season.

 

10. Jovon Robinson, Auburn

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Robinson isn’t guaranteed to be the starter with Peyton Barber and Roc Thomas also pushing for snaps, but the junior college transfer was a huge pickup for coach Gus Malzahn on the recruiting trail. Robinson ranked as the No. 1 junior college product by 247Sports and was the 2013 NJCAA national player in the year after rushing for 2,387 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was also a four-star recruit coming out of high school, so talent certainly isn’t an issue for Robinson. And with a standout offensive line in place, Robinson could have a huge season – if he’s able to approach 200 carries.

 

Related: Auburn's Jeremy Johnson Ranks as the SEC's No. 2 QB for 2015

 

Other SEC Running Backs to Watch in 2015

 

Peyton Barber/Roc Thomas, Auburn

Jovon Robinson is expected to start, but Barber and Thomas will see their share of opportunities.

 

Tra Carson, Texas A&M

The Aggies ranked 13th in the SEC in rushing attempts last season, so opportunities are limited for the backs. Carson led the team with 581 rushing yards in 2014, and the 235-pound senior will headline the Texas A&M rushing attack once again.

 

Kenyan Drake, Alabama

Drake was off to a fast start in 2014 (271 total yards in five games) but suffered a season-ending leg injury against Florida. If he’s at full strength in 2015, Drake could be a top 10 running back in the SEC this year.

 

Alvin Kamara, Tennessee

Former Alabama running back is back in the SEC after a stint at Hutchinson Community College. Jalen Hurd is still Tennessee’s starter, but Kamara is going to see plenty of opportunities.

 

Keith Marshall/Sony Michel, Georgia

Injuries have limited Marshall to just eight games over the last two seasons. But if he’s healthy, he should team with Sony Michel to provide depth to spell starter Nick Chubb.

 

Ashton Shumpert/Aeris Williams, Mississippi State

Josh Robinson departs after rushing for 1,203 yards in 2014, but Mississippi State is still in good shape at running back. Shumpert rushed for 232 yards over the final five games last season, while Williams ranked as the No. 254 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite.

 

Kelvin Taylor, Florida

With Matt Jones leaving for the NFL, Taylor is set to assume the top spot in Florida’s backfield. As a sophomore in 2014, Taylor rushed for 565 yards and six scores. How high Taylor climbs on this list will largely depend on an offensive line that is a major question mark in 2015.

 

Jaylen Walton, Ole Miss

The Rebels need more production from their rushing attack after averaging only 143.4 rushing yards in SEC contests last year. Walton led the team with 586 yards in 2014 but will be pushed for snaps by Akeem Judd.

 

David Williams, South Carolina

Brandon Wilds is expected to begin the starter, but Williams is a name to remember after averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 45 attempts last year.

Teaser:
Ranking the SEC's Running Backs for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-running-backs-2015
Body:

Five players in the ACC topped the 1,000-yard mark in 2014, with three of those players slated to return in 2015. Pittsburgh’s James Conner and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook are the top options returning at running back, and both players should be Heisman contenders this year. Quarterback Justin Thomas is the other ACC player that eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards last season. Will another name join Conner and Cook in the 1,000-yard department? Keep an eye on Boston College’s Jon Hilliman and Miami’s Joseph Yearby.  

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of running backs only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the running backs in the ACC for 2015.

 

Ranking the ACC's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. James Conner, Pittsburgh

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Conner is the reigning ACC Player of the Year and ranked third nationally in 2014 with 26 rushing scores. In two seasons with the Panthers, Conner has rushed for 2,564 yards and 34 scores. He will remain the focal point of Pittsburgh’s offense in 2015 and should push for All-America honors once again.

 

2. Dalvin Cook, Florida State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Cook ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the 2014 247Sports Composite and emerged as Florida State’s go-to back in the second half of 2014. Cook rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his final three games, including a 177-yard effort against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship. With Jameis Winston off to the NFL, Cook will be the Seminoles’ best offensive weapon in 2015.

 

Related: Florida State's Jimbo Fisher is the ACC's No. 1 Coach for 2015

 

3. Jon Hilliman, Boston College

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

As a true freshman last season, Hilliman ranked second on Boston College’s offense with 860 rushing yards and led the team with 13 rushing scores. The New Jersey native recorded three 100-yard efforts, including 148 yards against Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl. Hilliman should be an even bigger part of the Eagles offense in 2015.

 

4. Joseph Yearby, Miami

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Yearby’s spot on this list is a projection, and the sophomore could be one of the ACC’s top breakout stars for 2015. Duke Johnson won’t be easy to replace, but Yearby flashed potential in a limited role last year by rushing for 509 yards and one score on 86 attempts. The Miami native ranked as the No. 44 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite and is expected to start, but junior Gus Edwards will also see plenty of opportunities.

 

Related: Miami Hurricanes 2015 Schedule Analysis

 

5. Shadrach Thornton, NC State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Thornton leads an underrated backfield for third-year coach Dave Doeren. In 13 games last season, Thornton rushed for 907 yards and nine scores and recorded his best rushing performances in the final three games. Just based on proven stats and talent, Thornton could be higher on this list. However, with Matt Dayes and freshmen Johnny Frasier, Reggie Gallaspy and Nyheim Hines returning, Thornton may not see much of an uptick in carries this year.

 

6. Wayne Gallman, Clemson

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Gallman provided a spark for Clemson’s offense in the second half of 2014, and the sophomore heads into 2015 at the top of a talented backfield. In 13 games, Gallman rushed for 769 yards and four scores and caught 24 passes for 108 yards. He rushed for 191 yards in the 35-17 win over rival South Carolina and added two other 100-yard efforts in 2014. Clemson has depth at running back, but Gallman could push for 1,000 yards.

 

Related: Clemson's Deshaun Watson Ranks as the ACC's No. 1 QB for 2015

 

7. Taquan Mizzell, Virginia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Mizzell could easily finish much higher on this list in 2015. The Virginia native was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and has worked in a reserve role in his first two years with the Cavaliers. During his Virginia career, Mizzell has rushed for 464 yards and three scores and caught 68 passes for 435 yards. There’s no denying Mizzell is one of the ACC’s most talented running backs. Is he ready to take the next step and become Virginia’s go-to back in 2015?

 

8. Brandon Radcliff, Louisville

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Radcliff didn’t see much playing time in 2013, but the Miami native emerged as Louisville’s top running back in 2014. He led the team with 737 rushing yards and recorded 12 scores on the ground. Radcliff posted at least 17 carries in each of his last three games and posted a season high of 136 yards against Notre Dame. Louisville’s offensive line is a concern, and there’s good depth in the backfield, but Radcliff could approach 1,000 yards this season.

 

9. J.C. Coleman, Virginia Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

With Marshawn Williams (injury) and Shai McKenzie (off-field incident) uncertain for 2015, Coleman is slated to be the top running back for Frank Beamer. Despite recording only 65 rushing yards through the first nine games, Coleman led the Hokies with 533 yards last season and recorded three rushing scores. The Virginia native came on strong at the end of 2014 and finished the year with at least 95 yards in each of the final four games. Coleman’s best effort came against Cincinnati in the Military Bowl by recording 157 yards on 25 attempts.

 

10. T.J. Logan, North Carolina

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Logan emerged from a crowded backfield to lead North Carolina running backs with 119 carries last season. The North Carolina native ranked second on the team with 582 yards but finished the year with two 100-yard efforts over the final three games. Logan will likely share carries with Elijah Hood in 2015.

 

Related: Can Gene Chizik Save North Carolina's Defense?

 

Other Running Backs to Watch

 

Dennis Andrews, Georgia Tech

Andrews showed some promise late in 2014 by recording 81 yards on nine attempts over the final four games of 2014.

 

Matt Dayes, NC State

Dayes recorded 573 yards and eight scores on 104 attempts last year. Five of his eight rushing touchdowns came over the final four games. He also caught 32 passes for 321 yards. A solid No. 2 to Shadrach Thornton.

 

Gus Edwards, Miami

Edwards will push Joseph Yearby for the No. 1 job. As a sophomore last year, Edwards rushed for 349 yards and six scores.

 

Elijah Hood, North Carolina

Touted recruit in the 2014 signing class should improve after only rushing for 259 yards last season.

 

Devante McFarlane, Syracuse

McFarlane has showed potential in limited action, averaging 6.1 yards per carry over the last two years. He’s slated to take on a bigger role in the backfield in 2015.

 

Mario Pender, Florida State

Pender flashed his talent and potential in a limited role last season, rushing for 206 yards and four scores on 41 attempts.

 

Shaquille Powell, Duke

Powell led all Duke players with 618 rushing yards last season. He’s slated to start in 2015, but the Blue Devils have options here, including Jela Duncan (back from academic suspension) and Shaun Wilson (7.7 ypc in 2014).

 

L.J. Scott/Jeremy Smith, Louisville

Scott and Smith should see plenty of opportunities in coach Bobby Petrino’s offense as backups to Brandon Radcliff.

 

Broderick Snoddy, Georgia Tech

Snoddy averaged a robust 10.1 yards per carry on 28 rushing attempts last year. If he’s healthy from a season-ending leg injury, Snoddy will be one of Georgia Tech’s top options at running back.

 

Dezmond Wortham, Wake Forest

Wake Forest’s offense is searching for some punch in the rushing attack after averaging only 1.3 yards per carry in 2014. The offensive line must improve to help the running backs, but the Demon Deacons need Wortham or Isaiah Robinson to provide more big plays in 2015.

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC's Running Backs for 2015
Post date: Monday, May 11, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/former-illinois-football-player-simon-cvijanovic-blasts-coach-tim-beckman-twitter
Body:

It’s no secret Illinois’ coach Tim Beckman is on the hot seat entering 2015. Beckman’s win total has improved by two games in back-to-back years after winning only two games in his debut. However, after a 6-7 record in 2014, it’s critical for Beckman to post a winning mark in 2015.

 

And Beckman is only going to be under more scrutiny in 2015 after a series of tweets from former player Simon Cvijanovic (@IlliniSi on Twitter).

 

The tweets from Cvijanovic are only one side of the story, and there are others who came to the Beckman’s defense on Sunday night. 

 

Which side is more believable? We've collected some of Cvijanovic's tweets, as well as some from other players (current and former) and other sources. 

 

 

Teaser:
Former Illinois Football Player Simon Cvijanovic Blasts Coach Tim Beckman on Twitter
Post date: Monday, May 11, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-college-football-coaches-2015
Body:

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

 

This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It's always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

 

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

 

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking.

 

Ranking the Big 12’s Football Coaches for 2015

 

1. Art Briles, Baylor

Record at Baylor: 55-34 (7 years)

Career Record: 89-62 (12 years)

 

Briles has completely changed the perception of Baylor football over the last seven years. Prior to Briles’ tenure, the Bears did not play in a bowl or post a winning record from 1995-2007. Baylor went 8-16 in Briles’ first two years, but has played in five consecutive bowl games and tied or won the conference championship in back-to-back years. The Bears are 22-4 over the last two seasons and have three double-digit victory totals in three out of the last four years. Prior to taking over at Baylor, Briles went 34-28 at Houston. Briles is a Texas coaching lifer and has changed this program from one of the bottom teams in the Big 12 into a conference championship contender. The talent level on this team has improved with four consecutive top-40 signing classes, and the program just opened brand-new McLane Stadium in 2014. Momentum at Baylor is at an all-time high with Briles at the controls – and it doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon.

 

2. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

Record at Kansas State: 187-94-1 (23 years)

Career Record: 187-94-1 (23 years)

 

There’s not a coach in the nation doing more with less every year. Kansas State is not an easy job, yet Snyder continues to keep the Wildcats in contention for the Big 12 title on a yearly basis. Kansas State won only three games in the four previous years prior to his hire in November 1988, and after a 1-10 record in his first season, Snyder’s teams have won fewer than six games only four times and claimed double-digit victories in seven years. Don't forget that following his retirement after the 2005 season, Kansas State went just 17-20 in three years under Ron Prince before Snyder returned in November 2008. Regardless of how much talent or key personnel Kansas State loses, the Wildcats are always a threat to win the conference championship and finish among the top 25 teams in the nation. Developing and finding talent in the junior college ranks is one of Snyder’s biggest strengths. Kansas State doesn’t recruit at a high level, so it’s important to develop talent and find ways to win games with less. That’s exactly what Snyder has accomplished, as from 2011-14, the Wildcats have the best record in Big 12 games (27-9).

 

3. Gary Patterson, TCU

Record at TCU: 132-45 (14 years)

Career Record: 132-45 (14 years)

 

Coming off a 12-1 season and a No. 3 ranking in the final Associated Press poll, TCU is among the favorites to contend for the 2015 national championship. The Horned Frogs have come a long way in a short amount of time since joining the Big 12. TCU finished 7-6 in its Big 12 debut in 2012 but followed that up with a 4-8 mark in 2013, thanks in large part to a struggling offense. The The 8-1 mark in conference play last season is easily the best of TCU’s three-year stint in the Big 12. In Patterson’s 14 years, the Horned Frogs have won 132 games and claimed 10 or more victories in nine of those seasons. Winning at a high level is nothing new for Patterson in Fort Worth. In 2010, TCU finished No. 2 nationally with a 13-0 mark, No. 7 in 2008 and No. 6 in 2009. With Patterson at the helm, TCU will be a consistent threat to win the Big 12 title.

 

Related: TCU's Trevone Boykin Ranks as the Big 12's No. 1 QB for 2015 

 

4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Record at Oklahoma: 168-44 (16 years)

Career Record: 168-44 (16 years)

 

With 16 seasons at Oklahoma, Stoops is the second-longest tenured coach in college football. The Sooners have consistently ranked among the Big 12’s best under Stoops, winning at least 10 games in 12 of his years in Norman. Additionally, Stoops has guided Oklahoma to eight Big 12 titles and one national championship (2000). Winning at a high level and competing for a spot in one of college football’s top bowl games has become the norm for the Sooners under Stoops. However, Oklahoma finished 8-5 in 2014, which was the worst mark under Stoops since 2009 (8-5). Maintaining success at one job for a long period of time is no easy task for any college football coach. Stoops will try to get the program back on track with a few staff changes, including new offensive play-caller Lincoln Riley. There’s no question Stoops is among the best in the nation, and it will be interesting to see if 2014 was just a small blip on the radar or if it’s the beginning of a down period for the program. 

 

5. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

Record at Oklahoma State: 84-44 (10 years)

Career Record: 84-44 (10 years)

 

Oklahoma State took a step back in the win column in 2014, needing a late punt return for a touchdown to beat Oklahoma and secure bowl eligibility for the ninth consecutive season. The win over Washington in the Cactus Bowl gave Oklahoma State its ninth winning season in Gundy’s 10 years. The Cowboys have won at least 10 games in three out of the last five seasons and finished No. 3 nationally in 2011. Gundy consistently has Oklahoma State finishing in the top half of the Big 12, and the Cowboys are poised to return to the top 25 after last year’s 7-6 mark. Gundy’s name popped up in the rumor mill for other jobs over the last three offseasons, but the former Oklahoma State quarterback seems to be reenergized headed into 2015. 

 

Related: Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph is a Player on the Rise for 2015

 

6. Charlie Strong, Texas

Record at Texas: 6-7 (1 year)

Career Record: 43-23 (5+ years)

 

As expected, Strong had to reset the foundation at Texas. The Longhorns finished 6-7 last year and won five games in Big 12 action. However, Texas beat only two teams with a winning record and was thoroughly dominated by TCU and Arkansas in the final two games of 2014. The Longhorns only went 16-11 in Big 12 games over Mack Brown’s final three years and recorded just one finish in the final Associated Press poll in that span. The program clearly slipped in Brown’s final four years, and Strong needs a little time to rebuild the talent and get Texas back into contention for Big 12 championships. It’s only a matter of time before that happens, as Strong went 37-15 in four years at Louisville, including a 23-3 record from 2012-13. 

 

Related: Texas Ranks as the No. 1 Coaching Job in the Big 12

 

7. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

Record at West Virginia: 28-23 (4 years)

Career Record: 28-23 (4 years)

 

Under Holgorsen’s direction over the last four years, West Virginia has made the successful transition from the Big East to the Big 12. The Mountaineers won the Big East title in Holgorsen’s first season and finished 7-6 in their Big 12 debut in 2012. After stumbling to a 4-8 record in 2013, West Virginia rebounded with a 7-6 record in 2014 and claimed its first winning mark in conference play since joining the Big 12. And with 15 starters back for 2015, West Virginia should have a good chance to improve on last year’s record. Holgorsen is a highly regarded offensive mind and is settling into his role as the head coach. With Holgorsen stabilizing the program and competing in the Big 12, the future looks bright in Morgantown. 

 

8. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech

Record at Texas Tech: 12-13 (2 years)

Career Record: 12-13 (2 years)

 

Kingsbury was one of the nation’s top assistants when he was tapped to replace Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech in 2013. And the Red Raiders started Kingsbury’s tenure on a high note, winning their first seven games and jumping as high as No. 16 in the Associated Press poll. But Texas Tech lost its last five regular season games and used a bowl victory over Arizona State to finish 8-5. 2014 was a step back for Kingsbury, as the Red Raiders slipped to 4-8 and recorded three wins by seven points or less against Central Arkansas, UTEP and Iowa State. There’s no doubt Kingsbury is one of the Big 12’s top offensive minds and will have his unit performing at a high level. However, fixing the defense has to be a priority after allowing 42.8 points in Big 12 games in 2014. Hiring David Gibbs should pay dividends for the defense, which should allow Texas Tech to return to the postseason in 2015.

 

Related: Texas Tech Needs David Gibbs to Reverse Defensive Woes

 

9. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

Record at Iowa State: 29-46 (6 years)

Career Record: 29-46 (6 years)

 

Iowa State is one of the nation’s toughest Power 5 jobs. The in-state recruiting base is small, the Big 12 slate isn’t easy and you have to be good at developing talent or mining the junior college ranks for quick fixes. As an Iowa native, Rhoads knows all about the challenges of coaching in Ames. He also served as an assistant with the Cyclones in 1995-99. In six years as the program’s head coach, Rhoads is 29-46 overall with three bowl appearances. Iowa State has slipped after earning back-to-back bowl bids in 2011-12 with a 5-19 mark over the last two years. Rhoads is a good coach that can squeeze the most out of his roster. However, after a winless record in Big 12 play, Rhoads needs to get the program back to qualifying for a bowl game.

 

10. David Beaty, Kansas

Record at Kansas: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

Beaty is a former Kansas assistant and comes to Lawrence after a three-year stint at Texas A&M. He has never been a head coach, but the Jayhawks hope his recruiting ties to Texas and previous experience at Kansas help to turn around a program that has not won more than three games in each of the last five years. Beaty retained last year’s interim coach Clint Bowen but isn’t inheriting much to work with going into 2015 and just getting to three or four wins would be a good year for the Jayhawks. With a lack of head coaching experience and only two years as a coordinator on the collegiate level, Beaty is still largely an unknown.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's College Football Coaches for 2015
Post date: Friday, May 8, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/15-teams-land-notre-dame-transfer-qb-everett-golson
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Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has decided to transfer with one season of eligibility remaining. The senior is eligible immediately as a graduate transfer, so there will be plenty of suitors for his services.

 

Golson threw for 5,850 yards and 41 scores during his two years at Notre Dame. Additionally, he tossed 20 interceptions on 745 attempts. While Golson had his share of ups and downs during his career in South Bend, he guided the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the national championship game in 2012.

 

Where will Golson land? Here are 15 teams to watch:

 

15 Teams That Could Land Everett Golson for 2015

 

Alabama

Alabama has options to replace Blake Sims, including Florida State transfer Jacob Coker and talented freshmen Blake Barnett and David Cornwell. Coker was expected to push for the starting job last year, but Sims started all 14 games for the Crimson Tide. Although Coker finished spring at the top of the depth chart, did he play with enough consistency to ease the concerns of the coaching staff with a new quarterback taking over?

 

Florida

First-year coach Jim McElwain’s biggest concern on offense isn’t at quarterback, as the offensive line is a major question mark for 2015. However, the Gators have plenty of uncertainty here, as redshirt freshman Will Grier edged Treon Harris for the top spot in the spring. Harris threw for 1,019 yards and nine scores last year, but Grier is a better fit for this offense. McElwain’s offense at Colorado State averaged 321.6 passing yards per game in 2014.

 

Florida State

It’s probably a longshot for Golson to end up in Tallahassee, as Sean Maguire finished spring with a clear hold on the No. 1 job. However, replacing Jameis Winston is no easy task, and Maguire has only one previous start. Coach Jimbo Fisher is one of the best quarterback and offensive minds in the nation, which has to be appealing to Golson with one year of eligibility and an opportunity to impress NFL scouts in 2015.

 

LSU

The Tigers struggled mightily on offense last season and averaged only 162.9 passing yards per game. Uncertainty remained for LSU in the spring, as neither Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris staked a clear claim for the No. 1 spot. Jennings led the team with 11 passing scores last year, but there’s more upside with Harris. The Tigers aren’t lacking for talent at receiver but quarterback play remains a big concern for coach Les Miles. LSU has to be one of the early favorites for Golson’s services.

 

Louisville

Just like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Louisville’s Bobby Petrino has no problem adding numbers to the quarterback position. The Cardinals aren’t in bad shape at quarterback for 2015, as sophomore Reggie Bonnafon is promising, and Tyler Ferguson is eligible after transferring from Penn State.

 

Michigan

Jim Harbaugh is a quarterback guru, but the Wolverines already added Iowa transfer Jake Rudock to the team this spring. Michigan also has freshmen Zach Gentry and Alex Malzone competing with Rudock and Shane Morris for time in the fall. There’s more competition in Ann Arbor than some of the other teams on this list.

 

Ole Miss

The Rebels have three candidates vying for the starting job, including junior college recruit (and former Clemson quarterback) Chad Kelly. DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan are also in the mix this fall, but Kelly is believed to have an edge over both for the starting job. Golson would be an upgrade over the three options on the roster. However, how quick can he pickup the offense and get acclimated to the supporting cast?

 

Miami, Ohio

Golson will probably end up at a Power 5 team, but Miami, Ohio is a wildcard program to watch. Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin finished his first year as the program’s head coach, with the RedHawks finishing 2-10 last season. With Andrew Hendrix expiring his eligibility, Martin is expected to hand the offensive controls over to redshirt freshman Gus Ragland. Golson would be a key pickup if Martin can recruit him to Oxford.

 

South Carolina

Golson is a native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and the Gamecocks have an opening at quarterback after Dylan Thompson expired his eligibility this offseason. Connor Mitch finished spring at the top of the depth chart, but he has attempted only six passes in his career at South Carolina. Would coach Steve Spurrier be willing to take a chance on Golson for one year? It certainly makes sense.

 

South Florida

Third-year coach Willie Taggart is squarely on the hot seat entering 2015, and the Bulls are switching to an up-tempo attack that would seem to fit Golson’s strengths. Mike White transferred in the spring, leaving Quinton Flowers (8 of 20 in 2014) as the favorite to win the job.

 

Texas

If LSU is the early favorite to land Golson, Texas might be No. 2. The Longhorns had only two scholarship quarterbacks in the spring, with true freshman Kai Locksley arriving this summer to compete with Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes for snaps. Heard closed the gap on Swoopes this spring, setting up an intriguing battling for the No. 1 spot in the fall. If Golson transfers here, his first game of 2015 would be against…Notre Dame.

 

Washington

Cyler Miles is not expected to return to the team in 2015, leaving coach Chris Petersen with three inexperienced candidates competing for the No. 1 spot. Jeff Lindquist is the team’s most experienced option, completing 10 of 30 passes for 162 yards and one score last year. However, the Huskies got a good look at freshmen K.J. Carta-Samuels and Jake Browning this spring, and both players are squarely in the mix to start. 

 

UConn

Former Notre Dame assistant Bob Diaco is entering his second year as UConn’s head coach. The Huskies ranked No. 10 in the American Athletic Conference in passing offense last year, with NC State transfer Bryant Shirreffs finishing spring at the top of the depth chart. Golson would be an immediate upgrade and starter if he transfers to UConn.

 

Virginia

Quarterback play is arguably the biggest concern for coach Mike London’s team this season. Matt Johns edged Greyson Lambert for the No. 1 spot in the spring, but this job is still up for grabs. Johns and Lambert combined for 18 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions last year. And just an interesting side note: Virginia’s second game of 2015 is against Notre Dame.

 

Wisconsin

New coach Paul Chryst inherits an offense that averaged only 148.7 passing yards per game last season. The Badgers have a strong rushing attack and defense to lean on but improving in the win column and pushing Ohio State or Michigan State for the No. 1 spot in the Big Ten depends on improved quarterback play. Joel Stave is back as the starter, but he only threw nine touchdown passes to 10 interceptions last year.

Teaser:
15 Teams That Could Land Notre Dame Transfer Everett Golson
Post date: Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 14:41
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-college-football-coaches-2015
Body:

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

 

This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It's always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

 

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

 

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking.

 

Ranking the Pac-12's Football Coaches for 2015

 

1. Todd Graham, Arizona State

Record at Arizona State: 28-12 (3 years)

Career Record: 77-41 (9 years)

 

It’s a close call between Graham and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez for the No. 1 spot among current Pac-12 coaches. The Sun Devils enter 2015 as one of the favorites for the conference title, and Graham has guided the program to 28 wins over the last three seasons. The Sun Devils won the South Division in 2013 and tied for second in '12 and '14. Under Graham’s watch, Arizona State has clearly removed the label of a program that struggles to reach expectations. And the Sun Devils are in the midst of a stadium renovation that will only help Graham and this staff sell a program that has inked back-to-back top-25 signing classes. Graham’s success isn’t just limited to Arizona State, as he helped Rice make a six-game improvement in the win column in 2006, won 36 games in four years at Tulsa and went 6-6 in his only season at Pittsburgh.

 

Related: Arizona State is a Team on the Rise in 2015

 

2. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

Record at Arizona: 26-14 (3 years)
Career Record: 146-98-2 (21 years)

 

Rodriguez is in the process of elevating Arizona into a yearly contender for the Pac-12 title. The Wildcats claimed the South Division championship last season with a 7-2 conference record and won double-digit games (10) for the first time since 1998. Additionally, the 10 wins last year was only the third time in program history that Arizona has won more than nine in a season. Rodriguez only went 15-22 in three years at Michigan, but he won 60 games in seven seasons at West Virginia and guided the program to three finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2005-07. The bad news for the rest of the Pac-12: Rodriguez is really just getting started and this program is only going to get better in the coming years.

 

3. David Shaw, Stanford

Record at Stanford: 42-12 (4 years)

Career Record: 42-12 (4 years)

 

For the first time in Shaw’s tenure at Stanford, the Cardinal are coming off a season with fewer than 11 wins. After winning 34 games through Shaw’s first three years, Stanford regressed to 8-5 but still finished second in the North with a 5-4 conference record. Under Shaw’s direction, the Cardinal has finished inside of the top 11 of the final Associated Press poll three times and played for the conference title in back-to-back years (2012-13). Additionally, Shaw and his staff continue to do an excellent job on the recruiting trail, signing top-25 classes in four out of the last five years. The biggest challenge for Shaw in 2015 will be improving an offense that averaged only 23.8 points per game in conference play last year (11th in the Pac-12). Even with significant departures on defense, Stanford can push Oregon in the North if Shaw is able to find the right answers on offense. 

 

4. Chris Petersen, Washington

Record at Washington: 8-6 (1 year)

Career Record: 100-18 (9 years)

 

After one of the most successful stints by a coach during the BCS era, Petersen decided to make the jump to a Power 5 job and replaced Steve Sarkisian at Washington. Petersen went 92-12 at Boise State and led the Broncos to double-digit win seasons in seven out of his eight years. But Petersen didn’t quite find the same success in his first year with the Huskies. Washington’s defense had three first-team All-Pac-12 selections on defense, but a struggling secondary and offense dropped Petersen’s first team to just 8-6 overall and 4-5 in Pac-12 play. Petersen and his staff will be tested even more in 2015, as Washington returns only nine starters, loses standout defenders Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha, and could have a true freshman start at quarterback. 

 

Related: Washington safety Budda Baker is a Player on the Rise for 2015

 

5. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Record at Utah: 85-43 (10 years)

Career Record: 85-43 (10 years)

 

Whittingham has successfully transitioned Utah from a Mountain West team to a solid Pac-12 program in just four years. The Utes don’t have the resources or recruiting base of a UCLA or USC, but Whittingham’s team knocked off both programs last year as well as Stanford and Michigan en route to a 9-4 record. Utah also finished No. 21 in the final Associated Press poll – it’s first top-25 finish since 2009 – and claimed its first winning mark in Pac-12 play (5-4). In his 10-year tenure in Salt Lake City, Whittingham is 85-43 overall and has led his team to eight bowl games. 

 

6. Gary Andersen, Oregon State

Record at Oregon State: First Year

Career Record: 49-38 (7 years)

 

Andersen’s move from Wisconsin to Oregon State came as a surprise, but the Utah native is a great hire for this program. In two seasons at Wisconsin, Andersen went 19-7 and guided the Badgers to a Big Ten West Division title in 2014. Prior to Wisconsin, Andersen guided Utah State to a 26-24 record in four years. To show how big of an impact Andersen had on the Aggies – in the four years prior to his arrival in Logan, Utah State won only nine games. Utah State won 26 during Andersen’s four years, including 18 over the last two. Andersen is a proven winner at two different jobs and was a successful assistant at Utah prior to becoming a head coach. Oregon State is rebuilding in 2015, but Andersen’s hire will pay big dividends for the Beavers.

 

Related: Gary Andersen is one of the top coaching hires for 2015

 

7. Mark Helfrich, Oregon

Record at Oregon: 24-4 (2 years)

Career Record: 24-4 (2 years)

 

Helfrich is the only current Pac-12 coach to play for the national championship and has picked up where Chip Kelly left off by guiding Oregon to a 24-4 record over the last two years. The Ducks finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll after a loss to Ohio State in college football’s national championship in January. Helfrich and his staff navigated several injuries and overcame an early loss against Arizona to win the Pac-12 title and finish 13-2 overall. Prior to his promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach with the Ducks, Helfrich was an assistant at Arizona State, Colorado and Boise State. Helfrich won’t have Marcus Mariota in 2015, but the third-year coach has this program in great shape and poised to continue finishing near the top of the Pac-12. 

 

Related: Oregon is the No. 2 Coaching Job in the Pac-12

 

8. Jim Mora, UCLA

Record at UCLA: 29-11 (3 years)

Career Record: 29-11 (3 years)

 

A case could be made Mora should be higher among his conference peers. In three seasons at UCLA, the Bruins are 29-11 under his watch and have won six Pac-12 games each year. Mora guided UCLA to the Pac-12 South title in 2012 and finished (or tied) for second in the other two seasons. High expectations surrounded this program last year, but the Bruins were easily handled by Oregon in mid-October and on Nov. 28 lost to Stanford 31-10 with a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game up for grabs. Mora has recruited four consecutive top-20 classes, so talent isn’t an issue for this program. Contending for the South Division in 2015 should be a reasonable expectation, but the Bruins have to replace quarterback Brett Hundley.

 

9. Steve Sarkisian, USC

Record at USC: 9-4 (1 year)

Career Record: 43-33 (6 years)

 

By this time next year, Sarkisian could rank higher on this list – if USC ends up winning the Pac-12 as the early odds for 2015 suggest. Sarkisian’s first year with the Trojans had its share of ups and downs. USC beat Stanford 13-10 in Week 2 but lost 37-31 at Boston College the following Saturday. The Trojans lost on the last play of the game to Arizona State and in the final seconds to Utah. With better depth due to the end of NCAA scholarship sanctions, USC should have the manpower needed to close the door in tight games. Prior to taking over at USC, Sarkisian went 35-29 at Washington and guided the Huskies to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-13. The challenge for Sarkisian is simple: Get USC back among the nation’s elite and contend for national championships. Is he the right coach to do so?

 

Related: USC's Cody Kessler Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 1 QB for 2015

 

10. Mike Leach, Washington State

Record at Washington State: 12-25 (3 years)

Career Record: 96-68 (13 years)

 

Entering his fourth year in Pullman, Leach is still looking to elevate Washington State into a consistent winner and a bowl team every season. At Texas Tech, Leach guided the Red Raiders to an 84-43 record in 10 years and never finished a season with fewer than seven victories. But winning at a high level has been much tougher at Washington State. The Cougars are 12-25 over the last three years, and a 6-7 team from 2013 is bookended by 3-9 records in '12 and '14. Offense is Leach’s specialty, and Washington State has ranked in the top 10 nationally of passing offense from 2012-14. But fixing the defense has to be a priority after allowing at least 36 points in Pac-12 games in each of the last three years.

 

11. Sonny Dykes, California

Record at California: 6-18 (2 years)

Career Record: 28-33 (5 years)

 

The depth of the Pac-12’s coaching prowess is on full display when Sonny Dykes ranks as the No. 11 coach on this list. After a successful 22-15 stint at Louisiana Tech from 2010-12, Dykes is 6-18 in two seasons at California. The Golden Bears went 1-11 in 2013, but showed marked improvement last fall. California finished 5-7 overall and lost four games by eight points or less. Dykes has this program trending in the right direction, and the offense should be among the nation’s best in 2015. If Dykes can solve the defensive woes, California will make a bowl game this year.

 

Related: California's Jared Goff Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 2 QB for 2015

 

12. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado

Record at Colorado: 6-18 (2 years)

Career Record: 22-39 (5 years)

 

MacIntyre didn’t inherit much to work with when he replaced Jon Embree after the 2012 season. The Buffaloes are 6-18 over the last two years and have won only one contest in conference play. While the overall record isn’t pretty, MacIntyre has this program on the right track. Colorado lost four Pac-12 games by five points or less last season, and with an experienced roster returning in 2015, the Buffaloes should show progress in the win column. Prior to Colorado, MacIntyre went 16-21 at San Jose State, including a 15-9 mark over the final two years. MacIntyre should move up this list in the coming seasons. 

Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12's College Football Coaches for 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-college-football-coaches-2015
Body:

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention.

 

With that in mind, Athlon continues its countdown to the season by ranking the college football coaches by conference. Needless to say, ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

 

What was the criteria used to rank coaches? This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

 

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

 

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far, how well they recruit, gameday tactician and how they develop talent? And what about their career potential? Is there upside or is the coach trending down?

 

Related: SEC Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Big Ten’s Football Coaches for 2015

 

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State:
38-3 (3 years)

Career Record: 142-26 (13 years)

 

There was never really any doubt about his place among the nation’s best coaches, but if there was, Meyer clearly solidified his top billing with Ohio State’s 2014 season. The Buckeyes lost their No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks, yet won 14 games and claimed the national championship over Oregon. In three seasons at Ohio State, Meyer is 38-3 and has not lost a regular season game in Big Ten play. The 2014 national title was Meyer’s third as a head coach, as he claimed two during his tenure at Florida (2006, 2008). In addition to his national championships in Gainesville, Meyer went 65-15 with the Gators, 22-2 in two years at Utah and 17-6 in two seasons with Bowling Green.

 

Related: Ohio State Ranks as the No. 1 Coaching Job in the Big Ten

 

2. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Record at Michigan: First Year

Career Record: 58-27 (7 years)

 

Harbaugh is the right coach to return Michigan back among the nation’s elite. At three different coaching jobs, Harbaugh has delivered a quick turnaround and won at a high level. At San Diego from 2004-06, Harbaugh went 29-6 and lost only two games over the final two years. Harbaugh moved to the FBS level in 2007 at Stanford and won 29 games in four seasons. The Cardinal missed a bowl appearance in the first two years, but managed 20 wins over Harbaugh’s last two seasons, including a 12-1 finish in 2010. Harbaugh left Stanford for the NFL and won 44 games with the 49ers from 2011-14. San Francisco lost in the NFC Championship Game twice under Harbaugh’s watch and lost to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. As a former Michigan quarterback and player under Bo Schembechler, Harbaugh knows what it takes to win in Ann Arbor. Expect to see the Wolverines back among the top 10-15 teams in the nation in the next few years.

 

Related: Jim Harbaugh is the No. 1 College Football Coach Hire for 2015

 

3. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

Record at Michigan State: 75-31 (8 years)

Career Record: 93-48 (11 years)

 

Dantonio has transformed Michigan State from an underachieving program to one of the best in the Big Ten. The Spartans have won at least 11 games in four out of the last five years and finished No. 3 nationally after winning the Big Ten Championship Game and Rose Bowl in 2013. Under Dantonio’s watch, Michigan State also has claimed four consecutive bowl victories and went 15-1 in conference play from 2013-14. And if you needed any more information on why Dantonio is among the nation’s best: The Spartans have six seasons of 10 or more wins in program history. Four of those have come with Dantonio at the helm. 

 

Related: Michigan State's Connor Cook Ranks as the Big Ten's No. 2 QB in 2015

 

4. James Franklin, Penn State

Record at Penn State: 7-6 (1 year)

Career Record: 31-21 (4 years)

 

Franklin will return Penn State back to contention for the Big Ten title and as a consistent top-25 team – it just may take a little longer than we anticipated. High expectations surrounded the Nittany Lions last year, but Franklin’s team finished 7-6 and won only two games in Big Ten play. Fixing the offensive line is Franklin’s top priority in 2015, and there’s hope for improvement with one of the nation’s top assistants (Herb Hand) leading this group. Franklin went 24-15 in three years with Vanderbilt and recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons in 2012-13. Considering what Franklin managed to accomplish at Vanderbilt – the SEC’s toughest job – combined with the success on the recruiting trail, it’s only a matter of time before Penn State wins again at a high level.

 

Related: Penn State 2015 Schedule Analysis

 

5. Jerry Kill, Minnesota

Record at Minnesota: 25-26 (4 years)

Career Record: 152-99 (21 years)

 

As we mentioned above, college football coaches can’t be judged strictly on wins and losses. Kill is a perfect example of why record isn’t the best indicator of coaching ability, as he’s only 25-26 in four years with Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have made significant improvement under his watch, going from 3-9 in his first year to three consecutive bowl games. And Minnesota is coming off back-to-back eight-win seasons and finished 5-3 in Big Ten play last year – the first winning mark in conference play since 2003. Kill is a proven winner at four other coaching stops in his career, including a 23-16 record at Northern Illinois and a 55-32 mark at Southern Illinois.

 

6. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Record at Northwestern: 60-53 (9 years)

Career Record: 60-53 (9 years)

 

Northwestern is coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time under Fitzgerald and is 4-12 in Big Ten play over the last two years. While it’s easy to only judge coaches by recent history, this is not an easy job and Fitzgerald has won 60 games since 2006. Additionally, the Wildcats went to five consecutive bowl games from 2008-12, including a 10-win campaign in '12, concluding with just the program’s second postseason victory. Considering what Fitzgerald has accomplished at one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, what could he do at a program with more resources?

 

7. Mike Riley, Nebraska

Record at Nebraska: First Year

Career Record: 93-80 (14 years)

 

Nebraska’s hire of Riley came as a surprise, but the Idaho native seems to be the right coach at the right time. The Cornhuskers won at least nine games in each of Bo Pelini’s seven seasons, yet never finished higher than 14th in the Associated Press poll or claimed a conference title. That’s the challenge for Riley in 2015 and beyond. Can he elevate Nebraska back into contention for a national title or compete with Ohio State and Michigan for Big Ten championships? Oregon State is a challenging job, yet Riley won 93 games in 14 seasons and guided the Beavers to a winning conference record in six of those years. Another mark in favor of Riley’s hire is his experience in recruiting and finding talent in Texas and California. Also, Riley and his staff did a good job of developing talent while in Corvallis. If Nebraska can’t beat Ohio State or Michigan for five-star recruits, it needs to develop three-star talent into five-star players. 

 

8. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Record at Iowa: 115-85 (16 years)

Career Record: 127-106 (19 years)

 

Ferentz enters 2015 as the nation’s third-longest tenured coach. Over the last 16 seasons, Ferentz’s tenure with the Hawkeyes has experienced its share of ups and downs. And entering 2015, it’s fair to wonder where this program is headed after a 9-7 mark in Big Ten play over the last two years. Iowa has won 10 games at least four times under Ferentz but has not finished better than 8-5 since 2010. Maintaining success at a program for a long period isn’t easy, and as the nation’s ninth highest-paid coach in 2014, Ferentz is drawing plenty of criticism from the Iowa fanbase. In Athlon’s recent expert poll, Iowa tied with Maryland as the No. 7 coaching job in the Big Ten. This program has its share of challenges (in-state talent in recruiting), but there's really no reason why the Hawkeyes can't contend for the Big Ten West Division title each year.

 

9. Randy Edsall, Maryland

Record at Maryland: 20-30 (4 years)

Career Record: 94-100 (16 years)

 

Edsall’s tenure at Maryland got off to a rocky start with a 2-10 record in 2011. But since that two-win campaign, the Terrapins are 18-20 over the last three seasons and finished their first year in the Big Ten with a 7-6 record and a 4-4 mark in conference play. Prior to Maryland, Edsall went 74-70 at UConn, guiding the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl and a share of the Big East title in 2010. After earning back-to-back bowl appearances, Edsall’s next challenge is to elevate Maryland into the Big Ten East Division’s top tier, which includes Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State. That’s not an easy task, but with the talent available in the Maryland/Washington, D.C. area, Edsall should be able to keep some of those players at home. This fall looks like a rebuilding season for Maryland, but Edsall should have this team in contention for a bowl. 

 

10. Kevin Wilson, Indiana

Record at Indiana: 14-34 (4 years)

Career Record: 14-34 (4 years)

 

Indiana is one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, but Wilson has this program moving in the right direction. The Hoosiers won only one game in Wilson’s first year (2011), improved to 4-8 in 2012 and just missed on a bowl game in '13 by finishing 5-7. Bad luck hit Indiana last season, as this program was poised to hit six wins but starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost midway through the year with a shoulder injury. Sudfeld is back in 2015, giving the Hoosiers an opportunity to push for six wins once again. Considering Wilson’s background on offense, along with Indiana’s production on that side of the ball over the last four years, scoring points won’t be a problem. However, the defense has allowed six yards per play in Big Ten games in five consecutive seasons. That must be addressed for this program to move forward.

 

11. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

Record at Wisconsin: First Year

Career Record: 19-19 (3 years)

 

Gary Andersen surprisingly departed Wisconsin for Oregon State this offseason, but the Badgers were able to turn to a familiar name in Chryst. After three years as Pittsburgh’s head coach, Chryst is coming back to Madison to guide a program that has won at least 10 games in four out of the last six seasons. In addition to being a Madison native, Chryst played quarterback for the Badgers and served as an assistant with the program in 2002 and again from 2005-11. There’s no denying that Chryst is an excellent fit at Wisconsin. However, he was only 19-19 in three seasons with the Panthers.  

 

Related: Wisconsin RB Corey Clement is a Player on the Rise for 2015

 

12. Tim Beckman, Illinois

Record at Illinois: 12-25 (3 years)

Career Record: 33-41 (6 years
 

Beckman enters 2015 facing a make-or-break year at Illinois. The Fighting Illini have showed some improvement in Beckman’s tenure by increasing their win total by two games in each year after a 2-10 mark in 2012. Illinois finished 4-8 in 2013 and improved to 6-7 with a 3-5 mark in Big Ten play in 2014. While improvement has been noticeable in the overall win column, this program is just 4-20 in Big Ten games over the last three years and has not finished higher than fifth in its division. Beckman’s tenure got off to a rough start, but things have stabilized over the last two years. A few more wins this fall would help Beckman ensure a fifth season.

 

13. Kyle Flood, Rutgers

Record at Rutgers: 23-16 (3 years)

Career Record: 23-16 (3 years)

 

Rutgers was one of the Big Ten’s biggest surprises last year. In the Scarlet Knights’ debut in their new conference, Flood guided the program to an 8-5 record and a 3-5 mark in Big Ten play. Rutgers improved late in the season and finished with wins in three out of their last four games, including a 40-21 victory over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl. The 8-5 record in 2014 was the second winning mark during Flood’s tenure, as he finished 9-4 in his debut (2012) and finished 2013 with a 6-7 mark. Keeping Rutgers in bowl contention in the Big Ten East will be a challenge in 2015. And Flood’s task was made even more difficult when Ralph Friedgen decided not to return to his staff in 2015. Flood was on the hot seat entering 2014, but a solid 8-5 record in the first season of Big Ten play has reduced some of the pressure on him. 

 

14. Darrell Hazell, Purdue

Record at Purdue: 4-20 (2 years)

Career Record: 20-30 (4 years)

 

After guiding Kent State to a 16-10 record in two years, including an impressive 11-3 mark in 2012, Hazell appeared to be the right coach for Purdue. After two years with the Boilermakers, however, it's apparent that there’s still a lot of work ahead for Hazell. Purdue is only 4-20 over the last two seasons and has won only one game in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers had two losses in conference play by seven points or less, but lost three out of their last four games by 15 points or more. Hazell has made small gains through his first two years. However, plenty of work remains going into 2015, and Hazell needs to show progress in year three.   

Teaser:
Ranking the Big Ten's College Football Coaches for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-gets-it-right-no-conference-championship-game-needed
Body:

Whether it was the amount of teams in the league, getting left out of the playoff, a championship game, the nine-game schedule or expansion, the Big 12’s future has been an ongoing debate since the last round of conference realignment.

 

But on Tuesday, the league took a step in the right direction by deciding not to add a conference championship game.

 

At last week’s playoff committee meeting, executive director Bill Hancock mentioned the 13th game and how it helped Ohio State reach the four-team playoff in 2014. And following last week’s meetings, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby certainly sounded like someone who was ready to implement a 13th game to help his league match the other Power 5 conferences.

 

But let’s take a step back and revisit the final week of the season. How often will a team with a No. 3 quarterback destroy a Power 5 team in the conference championship game by 59 points? It’s pretty rare. Florida State won by only two points in the ACC Championship over Georgia Tech. If the Seminoles lost to the Yellow Jackets, Baylor would have been the No. 4 team in the playoff.

 

The Big 12 was just a couple of points or breaks away from getting one team in the playoff last year. So what’s the rush to change? There should be zero.

 

While the Big 12 is the only Power 5 league without a conference title game, adding one doesn’t necessarily help this league in the playoff mix. In fact, a 13th game on an annual basis could hurt the Big 12 champion more than it helps.

 

Right now, the Big 12 has a good setup. The round-robin schedule allows every team to play one another and an additional conference championship game would only add the potential for a loss for the league’s No. 1 team.

 

One look through the history of the Big 12 Championship should give the athletic directors enough of a reason to not add a conference championship game. In 1996, No. 3 Nebraska lost to an unranked Texas team. No. 3 Kansas State was upset by Texas A&M in 1998, No. 3 Texas lost to No. 9 Colorado in 2001, and the most memorable result was No. 1 Oklahoma losing to No. 15 Kansas State 35-7 in 2003.

 

College football is a cyclical sport. Conferences are up in some years, down in others. One season of data on the college football playoff isn’t enough to make enough long-term decisions about a league. If the Big 12 gets left out of the playoff in seven out of the next eight years because it doesn’t have a conference championship game – then it’s time to revisit the issue.

 

The Big 12 could help itself a little by implementing a non-conference rule forcing every team to play a Power 5 opponent outside of league games. That’s an easy way to bolster the strength of schedule metric. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt the overall conference strength if Oklahoma and Texas were back among the nation’s elite once again.

 

Could a Big 12 Championship matchup help the conference? Sure. But it’s a 50-50 shot. The champion isn’t guaranteed to win the game, and there’s as much potential for this game to hurt the No. 1 team.

 

Until there’s clear proof that the Big 12’s playoff hopes are hindered on a yearly basis by not having a conference title game, not adding a 13th contest or expanding is the way go.

 

This doesn’t happened too often, but in this case, the Big 12 got it right by just staying the course.

Teaser:
The Big 12 Gets it Right: No Conference Championship Game is Needed
Post date: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/wake-forest-unveils-new-football-uniforms-and-helmets-2015
Body:

Wake Forest’s black and gold uniforms and helmets are getting a new look for the 2015 season. The Demon Deacons unveiled the new look on Tuesday, which features three different jerseys, including the usual black and white designs. And there’s a new black jersey, featuring gold on the sleeves.

 

There’s also some tweaks to the helmet, including a shiny gold design, as well as two different black variations. Here's the full gallery from the official Wake Forest site.

 

 

The school also released a video to debut the uniforms:

 

Teaser:
Wake Forest Unveils New Football Uniforms and Helmets for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 13:33
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-college-football-coaches-2015
Body:

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

 

This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It's always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

 

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

 

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking.

 

Ranking the SEC’s Football Coaches for 2015

 

1. Nick Saban, Alabama

Record at Alabama: 91-17 (8 years)

Career Record: 182-59-1 (19 years)

 

Maintaining a place among college football’s elite every year is no easy task. However, as long as Alabama has Saban, the Crimson Tide will factor into the Playoff mix and remain among the nation’s top threats to win the national championship every season. In Saban’s eight years in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has won 10 games at least seven times and has not lost more than one game in SEC play in four years. And of course, we can’t forget about the three national championships during the BCS era. Additionally, the Crimson Tide has seven consecutive finishes inside of the top 10 in the final Associated Press poll. Recruiting and developing talent is another strength of the program under Saban, as Alabama has reeled in the No. 1 recruiting class over the last five seasons and 48 players have been drafted since 2009. 

 

Related: Alabama Ranks as the SEC's No. 1 Coaching Job

 

2. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn:
20-7 (2 years)
Career Record: 29-10 (3 years)

 

In just three seasons as a head coach, Malzahn has already entrenched his name among the best in the nation. After a 9-3 record at Arkansas State in 2012 (his first as a head coach on the FBS level), Malzahn has guided Auburn to a 20-7 mark over the last two years. The Tigers played for the 2013 national championship and finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll after the loss to Florida State. Auburn slipped to 8-5 last year, but Malzahn should have this team back in contention for the SEC title in 2015. Prior to being a head coach on the FBS level, Malzahn was one of the nation’s top offensive coordinators at Auburn and Tulsa, with a one-year stop at Arkansas in 2006. He’s also known for his stint as a high school coach at Springdale High School in Arkansas from 2001-05. Malzahn is one of the game’s top X’s and O’s tacticians on offense and upgraded his defense with the addition of Will Muschamp as his new coordinator.

 

3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

Record at South Carolina: 84-45 (10 years)

Career Record: 226-85-2 (25 years)

 

Spurrier enters 2015 ranked No. 2 among active FBS coaches with 226 career wins. South Carolina slipped in 2014 after three consecutive 11-win seasons, but Spurrier has elevated a program that had only one 10-win campaign prior to his arrival in 2005. Additionally, out of the six times the Gamecocks have won at least nine games, four of those have taken place under Spurrier’s watch. And Spurrier’s track record is no secret, as he went 122-27-1 at Florida from 1990-2001 and 20-13-1 at Duke from 1987-89. It’s not easy for coaches to maintain success over a 20-year span. Spurrier has had to tweak a few things along the way, but as evidenced by his recent success at South Carolina, he’s still one of the game’s top coaches.

 

4. Mark Richt, Georgia

Record at Georgia: 136-48 (14 years)

Career Record: 136-48 (14 years)

 

Georgia hasn’t won a SEC title since 2005, but the Bulldogs usually rank near the top of the conference. Richt has guided Georgia to three double-digit win seasons over the last four years, and the Bulldogs finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll in 2007. The talent level certainly isn’t an issue for Georgia, as the program owns the No. 3 roster in the SEC over the last five seasons. And with a 7.6 national average, the talent level is in place for the Bulldogs to contend for a national title. Under Richt’s direction, Georgia has never finished lower than third in the East and has lost more than two games in SEC play only five times over the last 14 years.

 

5. Gary Pinkel, Missouri

Record at Missouri: 113-66 (14 years)

Career Record: 186-104-3 (24 years)

 

Pinkel has been a consistent winner throughout his tenure at Missouri. The Tigers average 8.1 wins a season under Pinkel and have claimed back-to-back East Division titles after a 5-7 record in their SEC debut. Prior to joining the SEC, Missouri posted seven consecutive winning campaigns from 2005-11, including a 12-2 mark and a No. 4 finish in the final Associated Press poll in 2007. Pinkel’s success isn’t limited to just Missouri, as he went 73-37-3 in 10 years at Toledo. Despite a national recruiting rank of 39th nationally over the last five years, the Tigers won the SEC East in back-to-back years and will begin 2015 as one of the favorites in the division once again. That’s a huge credit to Pinkel and his staff’s ability to find and develop talent every year. 

 

6. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Record at Mississippi State: 46-31 (6 years)

Career Record: 46-31 (6 years)

 

Mullen is the perfect example of why job hierarchy within a conference matters when ranking coaches. Mississippi State is the toughest job in the SEC West, and this program’s 27.4 finish nationally over the last five years in recruiting ranks No. 7 within its own division. However, the Bulldogs are 46-31 under Mullen and are coming off just the third double-digit win season in program history. Last season, Mississippi State climbed as high as No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time and finished No. 11 in the final ranking – the second-highest mark in school history. Since a 5-7 mark in Mullen’s debut, Mississippi State has recorded a winning record in five consecutive years and is 22-26 in the SEC. Even though the Bulldogs suffered some heavy personnel losses this offseason, Mullen has elevated this program and the talent level has improved to ensure a quick rebuild.

 

Related: Mississippi State's Dak Prescott ranks as the SEC's No. 1 QB for 2015

 

7. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

Record at Ole Miss: 24-15 (3 years)

Career Record: 54-22 (6 years)

 

Ole Miss has made steady improvement under Freeze, including a nine-win campaign in 2014. The Rebels have made a bowl game in all three of Freeze’s seasons in Oxford and went as high as No. 3 in the Associated Press poll in 2014. And if injuries didn’t take a toll on the 2014 team, Ole Miss easily could have won 10 games for the first time since '03. While Freeze doesn’t have the track record of some of the coaches in this league, he’s already a proven winner at three different jobs. In addition to the 24 wins at Ole Miss, he went 20-5 at Lambuth from 2008-09 and 10-2 at Arkansas State in '11. As we mentioned in the introduction, it’s not a list of career accomplishments. Based upon what Freeze inherited and has done in three years at Ole Miss, his career trajectory is higher than several names on this list.

 

8. Les Miles, LSU

Record at LSU: 103-29 (10 years)

Career Record: 131-50 (14 years)

 

2015 is shaping up to be one of the most interesting years of Miles’ tenure at LSU. The Tigers have slipped in the SEC pecking order over the last three seasons and last year finished outside of the Associated Press top 25 poll for the first time since 2008. LSU’s 4-4 mark in SEC play in 2014 was the first non-winning record in conference games in six seasons. Additionally, Miles lost top assistant and defensive coordinator John Chavis to rival Texas A&M, and the offense ranked 13th in the SEC in scoring last year. Plenty of question marks surround LSU for 2015, but Miles has showed before he’s capable of getting the program back among the best in the SEC. The Tigers went 17-9 from 2008-09, yet rebounded with four consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2010-13. LSU has averaged a 6.8 finish nationally in recruiting rankings over the last five years. With that type of talent in place, the Tigers have the necessary pieces in place to get back to the top of the SEC.

 

9. Butch Jones, Tennessee

Record at Tennessee: 12-13 (2 years)

Career Record: 62-40 (8 years)

 

The arrow on Tennessee’s program under Jones' leadership is clearly pointing up entering 2015. The Volunteers went 5-7 in Jones’ first season but improved to 7-6 and returned to a bowl for the first time since 2010. Upgrading the talent on Tennessee’s roster has been a priority for Jones, and the coaching staff has inked back-to-back top-10 signing classes. With the talent on the rise, a solid core of personnel in place, and a team that won four out of its final five games, Tennessee is poised to take another step forward in 2015. Prior to Tennessee, Jones guided Central Michigan to a 27-13 record in three years (2007-09) and led Cincinnati to a 23-14 mark from 2010-12.

 

Related: Tennessee is a Team on the Rise for 2015

 

10. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Record at Texas A&M: 28-11 (3 years)

Career Record: 63-28 (7 years)

 

Texas A&M has made a successful transition to the SEC under Sumlin’s watch. In addition to fielding an explosive offense, the Aggies are 28-11 over the last three years and have a 13-11 record in SEC play in that span. With the program entrenched in the nation’s toughest conference, along with facility upgrades to compete with the SEC’s elite, Sumlin will be looking to push Texas A&M even higher in the conference standings. The Aggies’ win total in SEC games has declined from six (2012) to four (2013) to three (2014). While the offense has been among the league’s best since 2012, the defense has struggled mightily. But Sumlin took a big step in fixing that side of the ball by hiring John Chavis away from LSU. Prior to the last three seasons at Texas A&M, Sumlin guided Houston to a 35-17 record in four years from 2008-11. 

 

11. Bret Bielema, Arkansas

Record at Arkansas: 10-15 (2 years)

Career Record: 78-39 (9 years)

 

The overall coaching depth in the SEC is on display when Bielema ranks as the No. 11 coach on this list. Arkansas has showed marked improvement under Bielema in the last two years, and the Razorbacks are poised to take another step forward in 2015. After a 3-9 mark and a winless record in SEC play in 2013, Arkansas finished 7-6 and lost four games by a touchdown or less last fall. The Razorbacks closed 2014 by winning four out of their final six games, including a 31-7 destruction of Texas in the Texas Bowl. Prior to Arkansas, Bielema went 68-24 at Wisconsin and led the Badgers to four seasons of double-digit wins. The Razorbacks are clearly headed in the right direction, and Bielema’s physical style of play fits right at home in the SEC.

 

Related: Arkansas Razorbacks 2015 Schedule and Analysis

 

12. Jim McElwain, Florida

Record at Florida: First Year

Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)

 

After three seasons at Colorado State, McElwain was tapped as the replacement for Will Muschamp at Florida. Although Muschamp guided the Gators to an 11-2 mark in 2012, this program underachieved over the last four years with a 29-21 record. McElwain seems like the right coach to get the program back on track after a 22-16 record with the Rams, as well as a previous stint as an offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2008-11. Colorado State improved its win total in each of McElwain’s three years, including a 10-win mark in 2014. Prior to calling the plays at Alabama, McElwain made stops as an assistant at Fresno State, Michigan State, Louisville and in the NFL with the Raiders. His offensive background will pay dividends for a program that has struggled mightily on that side of the ball in recent years.

 

13. Mark Stoops, Kentucky

Record at Kentucky: 7-17 (2 years)

Career Record: 7-17 (2 years)

 

Kentucky is making progress under Stoops, making the jump from two wins in 2013 to five in '14. The Wildcats also went 2-6 in SEC play last year, equaling the amount of conference victories recorded from 2012-13. Kentucky was close to bowl eligibility in 2014, losing to Florida by six in three overtimes and by four to Louisville in the regular-season finale. The overall talent level and direction of this program have each improved since Stoops took over after the 2012 season. The next challenge is getting Kentucky to the postseason. With 12 starters back, that could happen this fall.

 

14. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Record at Vanderbilt:
3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 3-9 (1 year)

 

James Franklin left big shoes to fill in Nashville after leading the Commodores to three consecutive bowl appearances. While repeating that success in the first year was going to be tough for Mason, Vanderbilt slipped to 3-9 and went winless in SEC play for the first time since 2009. The Commodores also lost four conference games by 20 or more points, and two of their three wins came by less than three points. Mason plans on taking over the defensive play-calling duties in 2015 and a staff overhaul should help the offense improve after averaging only 12.8 points per game in SEC contests. Mason had plenty of success as a coordinator at Stanford. Will the Commodores show big improvement in year two?

Teaser:
Ranking the SEC's College Football Coaches for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 11:00

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