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  • Navy would rather miss the College Football Playoff than move the Army-Navy game

    Army Navy2

    Navy joins the American Athletic Conference – oddly enough, as a member of the conference’s West Division – this fall, which creates a ripple effect that touches nearly half of the FBS.

    Since Navy is now a member of the AAC, it is eligible to compete in the AAC championship game, which will be held Dec. 5. Since it is eligible to win the AAC title, it is considered part of the pool to earn the Group of Five berth to a New Year’s Six bowl. (For the uninitiated, the Group of Five are the five mid-major leagues – AAC, Mountain West, MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt – that share one New Year’s Six bowl berth.)

    And because Navy is eligible for the New Year’s Six, the six New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day bowl games aligned with the College Football Playoff, it creates an interesting conundrum for the Playoff’s selection committee. You see, Navy doesn’t fit neatly into the box that comfortably houses the rest of FBS. Navy and Army conclude their regular season the Saturday after Selection Sunday, which means the Playoff’s leadership – the 10 conference commissioners – will have to figure out how to handle the Midshipmen should they play themselves into the discussion.

    One thing is clear, though: the service academies aren’t interested in moving their game for the sake of the Playoff.

    “If it means that we’ve got to sacrifice the opportunity to participate in the playoff system, then that’s something we’ll have to deal with,” Navy AD Gladchuk told USA Today. “We’ll have to work on that.”

    Imagine, for example, an 11-1 Navy team with an AAC title in hand with one game remaining against a 6-5 Army team. Does the selection committee hold a Peach Bowl spot open until the conclusion of that game, thereby creating a series of logistical hoops to jump through? Do they go ahead and award the spot to an 11-2 Boise State team, perhaps prematurely excluding a more-deserving Navy team? Or do they give the spot to Navy, thereby running the risk of the Midshipmen losing to Army and watching their resume tumble? (Army is also eligible for a Playoff berth, but as an independent it is not eligible for a Group of Five spot and would have to play its way into one of the two semifinals.)

    The Playoff isn’t quite sure what to do. CFP executive director said the board of directors had some “robust” talks on the issue at its meetings last month and left it at that.

    “(Moving the Army game) would show that we’ve realigned our priorities in a way that doesn’t complement our mission. We can’t do it. It’s something that’s that special.”

    Standing on principle in the face of watching a lucrative option fall by the wayside is an admirable display of integrity. Know who should admire that stance? The College Football Playoff itself. Just one year in, the Playoff has faced pressure from the NFL and ESPN to move its championship game from Monday night to Tuesday, a request to acquiesce to The Shield and The Worldwide Leader’s quest to expand Wild Card weekend from two nights to three in a blatant cash grab.

    But the CFP isn’t budging. “We’ve started a new tradition and we don’t want to back away from it now,” Hancock said.

    In a sport that sells tradition like Marlboro pushes nicotine, none stands above the Army-Navy game. The academies shouldn’t have to move their game just to make things easier on the selection committee.

    The feeling here is that the Playoff will effectively end Army and Navy’s regular seasons after the first weekend in December like everyone else and deem the Army-Navy game an exhibition for its purposes. A loss can’t hurt either team, but a win can’t help them, either. At least, that’s what they should do.

  • With 99 days until kickoff, here are 99 questions for the 2015 season

    National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State

    Ninety-nine days from today, the 2015 college football season begins in Missoula, Mont., as four-time defending national champion North Dakota State begins march for number five at Montana. To mark the occasion, here are 99 questions for the 2015 season. Let’s begin with a different set of defending national champions:

    1. How do Urban Meyer, Tim Beck and Ed Warinner handle the three-headed monster currently sitting in their quarterback room?

    2. The last time Urban tried to defend a national championship it ended in a blowout loss in what was essentially a national semifinal – and with him in the hospital. How does the wiser, looser version of himself handle another repeat shot with a preseason No. 1 team?

    3. Is In Season Jim Harbaugh as much fun as Offseason Jim Harbaugh? Let’s hope this one is a yes.

    4. Can Penn State keep Christian Hackenberg upright enough this fall to allow him to break the Big Ten’s two-decade streak without a quarterback drafted in the first round?

    5. Does Michigan State’s defense miss a beat with Pat Narduzzi gone and the rest of the gang still in East Lansing?

    6. Is this the year Kevin Wilson takes Indiana to its first bowl game?

    7. Who wins the Big Ten West, and does that team come within 59 points of the East winner in Indianapolis?

    8. How do Nebraska fans react if Mike Riley’s first Husker team loses four games or more for what would be the 12th straight season?

    9. Can Jerry Kill keep his upward trajectory going at Minnesota without stud running back David Cobb?

    10. Who misses their previous coach more – Pittsburgh or Wisconsin?

    11. With a full year under his belt, can Shawn Watson get something – anything – out of his Texas quarterbacks?

    12. Can Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford find a way improve a defense that lost four draft picks?

    13. The marriage between Kevin Sumlin’s offense and John Chavis’s defense looks great on paper. How does it work when live bullets start flying?

    14. Which coach comes closest to winning his first national championship – Brian Kelly, Art Briles, Gary Patterson, Mark Richt or Mark Helfrich? Or someone else?

    15. Since 2000 only one non-quarterback (Alabama’s Mark Ingram in 2009) has won the Heisman. With no obvious front-runner heading into the fall, is this the year a running back, wide receiver or, heavens forbid, a defensive player wins it?

    16. How does College GameDay navigate its first season without Chris Fowler?

    17. Better yet, how does ESPN’s studio show navigate its first season without Rece Davis?

    18. Following last year’s “game control” fiasco, what new controversy does the College Football Playoff invent this year?

    19. How do casual fans react when they learn in early December that this year’s semifinals are on New Year’s Eve and not New Year’s Day?

    20. How do wives and girlfriends around the country react when the ball drops in Times Square and their husbands are in the other room watching football?

    21. Can Tim Beckman put the current storms swirling around his program behind him – and show a necessary amount of progress on the field?

    22. After two seasons out of coaching and seven seasons removed from calling plays, can Mike DeBord push Tennessee’s talented offense over the hump from “next year’s contenders” to “this year’s champions?”

    23. Is this the year Mark Stoops takes Kentucky to his first bowl game?

    24. At age 70 and coming off his worst season since 2009, does Steve Spurrier have enough mojo left to rejuvenate South Carolina yet again?

    25. How long does it take Georgia fans to stop yelling “Run the ball Bobo?”

    26. Better yet, how long does it take Colorado State fans to start?

    27. Was the ACC’s 5-3 mark against the SEC, including a four-game sweep on rivalry weekend and Georgia Tech’s thumping of Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl, a sign of the ACC closing the gap between the two leagues or simply a product of circumstances?

    28. How does the Clemson offense evolve without Chad Morris but with a (hopefully healthy) Deshaun Watson back in the lineup full-time?

    29. Who wins more games, North Carolina or N.C. State?

    30. And do either of them win enough to catch Duke as North Carolina’s top team?

    31. Virginia brought Mike London back for a sixth season despite a disappointing 5-7 mark in 2014, largely because six of the Cavaliers’ losses came in one-score games. Does he reward that faith with a bowl trip for the first time in four years?

    32. After dominating the ACC through most of the last decade, Virginia Tech has fallen back to the pack over the past three years. With nearly its entire starting lineup back, is this the year Frank Beamer rejoins Florida State and Clemson at the top of the ACC mountain?

    33. How does Jimbo Fisher handle his two very different quarterbacks, Sean Magurie and Everett Golson?

    34. Is this the year we all remember Maryland isn’t in the ACC anymore?

    35. Can Tom Herman make his recruiting momentum carry over to the field?

    36. Chad Morris and Philip Montgomery have each brought a tremendous amount of momentum to their respective programs. But will they have anything to show for it by the end of November?

    37. Who’s still coaching in 2016 – Bill Snyder, Frank Solich, George O’Leary or Frank Beamer? None of them? All of them?

    38. Bob Stoops never went more than a year without winning a Big 12 championship – until these past two seasons. Is his most recent staff shakeup enough to surpass Baylor and TCU and hold off Oklahoma State?

    39. Can TCU avoid behind this year’s Oklahoma, a preseason top five team that ends the year unranked?

    40. While we’re at it, who is this year’s TCU?

    41. He’s still looking for his signature win outside the conference, but Art Briles has mastered the Big 12, winning 11 straight conference home games and 19 of his last 21 Big 12 games overall. Can record just the second three-peat in Big 12 history?

    42. Is this the first year a team goes through the Big 12’s round-robin gauntlet unblemished? And will that be enough to get the league in the playoff for the first time?

    43. More entertaining division race – SEC West or Pac-12 South?

    44. Who wins more games – Arizona or Arizona State?

    45. Scott Frost has the coaching opportunity of a lifetime ahead of him: the task of replacing Marcus Mariota. What does he do with it?

    46. Who wins more games in year two – Charlie Strong or Chris Petersen?

    47. In three seasons in Pullman, Mike Leach has produce thousands and thousands of passing yards – and 12 victories. Can he build a team good enough to match his passing game?

    48. More awkward opening weekend reunion: Vernon Adams vs. Eastern Washington or Bobby Petrino vs. Auburn?

    49. Can anyone stand up to Boise State in the Mountain West?

    50. Does North Dakota State complete its One-For-The-Thumb march in the FCS?

    51. Does anyone steal the Division III title away from Wisconsin-Whitewater with Lance Leipold gone?

    52. How does Leipold adjust to his first FBS head coaching gig?

    53. The story out of Alabama’s Sugar Bowl loss was that Lane Kiffin underused gargantuan running back Derrick Henry. Does that continue this season?

    54. Last year, Auburn saw a 33-21 lead over Alabama evaporate after a 34-3 run that saw the Tide score touchdowns on five straight drives. Is the addition of Will Muschamp enough to hold off Alabama and the rest of the SEC?

    55. More likely to be in his current post a year from now – Kiffin or Muschamp? Both? Neither?

    56. Can Arkansas start 2015 like it finished 2014?

    57. And what does the rest of the SEC do if that answer is yes?

    58. Can the super team of Kevin Steele plus Ed Orgeron duplicate John Chavis’s success at LSU?

    59. More wins in year one – Mike Riley or Bo Pelini?

    60. Can Malik Zaire play well enough to allow Brian Kelly avoid eating his “I like my quarterbacks more than Ohio State’s” words?

    61. Mississippi State closes with Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss. Can Dan Mullen avoid repeating last seasons’ 1-3 finish?

    62. Ole Miss is the only (original) SEC West program never to reach the SEC championship. Is this the year Hugh Freeze – with the headliners of his blockbuster 2013 recruiting class likely in their final year – breaks through?

    63. Louisiana-Lafayette has finished the last four seasons at 9-4 with a win in the New Orleans Bowl. How long can we keep this streak going?

    64. How many years in a row does Gary Pinkel have to win the SEC East before earning the notoriety he deserves?

    65. What can Jim McElwain make of the roster he inherited at Florida?

    66. Can Jeff Driskel find the success that constantly eluded him at Florida in his new home at Louisiana Tech?

    67. Does Steve Sarkisian’s USC team prove worthy of the preseason hype it’s receiving?

    68. Can Al Golden keep the wolves at bay in Miami?

    69. Does Al Golden’s former employer continue playing fantastic defense and take the American by storm?

    70.  Western Michigan leaped from one win to eight last year. Do the Broncos overtake Northern Illinois in the MAC West this year?

    71. Does the Bowling Green offense take a step back with Sterlin Gilbert out and Karl Dorrell in?

    72. Which coach unaccustomed to losing more than once per season finds more success in his second-year at a more challenging level – Chris Petersen or Craig Bohl?

    73. Which offense misses its reliable playmaker more – Alabama or Wisconsin?

    74. After making five straight bowl games, Northwestern has missed the postseason in its last two seasons. How do Pat Fitzgerald and company rebound?

    75. After beating Oregon State to move to 5-4, California dropped its final three games and ended 2014 season one win short of reaching a bowl game in Sonny Dykes’s second year. Is the third time a charm?

    76. With Ohio State’s preseason favorite status clearly understood (and deserved), who is most likely to return to the Playoff – Alabama, Oregon or Florida State?

    77. In this era of points on points on points and with the extra game the Playoff provides, does anyone top 2013 Florida State’s record of 723 points scored? How about 2011 Houston’s 8,387 yards of total offense?

    78. Can anyone in the Sun Belt hold off Georgia Southern?

    79. Did Stanford, which closed the year on a three-game winning streak while averaging 38 points a game, find enough offense late in the year to challenge Oregon in the Pac-12 North?

    80. Does Jake Coker – the most ballyhooed quarterback with less than 700 passing yards in college football history – win the starting job at Alabama?

    81. More wins in year one – Jim Harbaugh or Jim Tomsula?

    82. After two disappointing debut seasons, does Willie Taggart turn it around in year three at South Florida?

    83. What coordinators not named Muschamp and Kiffin are this year’s hot commodities on the coaching market?

    84. Where does the never-ending Big 12 title game debate stand after Playoff Selection Sunday?

    85. How does Bobby Petrino progress at Louisville with nine more of Charlie Strong’s recruits off to the NFL?

    86. Where does Massachusetts go after getting the boot from the MAC following the end of this season?

    87. More wins in year one – Neal Brown or Tony Sanchez?

    88. Does Georgia Tech’s end-of-2014 momentum – wins in six of their final seven, including defeats of Georgia and Mississippi State, with a two-point loss to Florida State – carry into 2015?

    89. Which of the American’s tri-champions is most likely to repeat – Memphis, Cincinnati or Central Florida?

    90. If the early signing period passes, how does that play into the end of the regular season and beginning of the bowl season?

    91. In a year after zero NFL franchises hired from the college ranks, how many college coaches make the jump this winter?

    92. How does Kliff Kingsbury respond to his first losing season as a head coach?

    93. After years of zigging when the nation expected him to zag, last year’s disappointment means Iowa is a lock for nine or 10 wins a January bowl game, right?

    94. Kansas State gets TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma in Manhattan. Can Bill Snyder perform yet another masterful coaching job and win his third Big 12 title?

    95. After yet another close call in December, can Jeff Monken’s charges snap Army’s 13-game losing streak to Navy?

    96. Jim Mora is 3-0 against USC, posted back-t0-back 10-win seasons and back-to-back top-20 rankings. With no obvious favorite entering the season, can his Bruins rise up and grab a wide open Pac-12 title?

    97. More conference wins in 2015 – Iowa State, Vanderbilt or Colorado?

    98. What story, scandal or star will come out of nowhere and knock us all on our seats?

    99. Can someone please remind me not to do this gimmick again next year?

  • If playing for Pete Carroll is “like playing for Willy Wonka” here are other NFL head coaches fictional counterparts


    Before joining the Seahawks organization, defensive end Michael Bennett played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Greg Schaino. It’s no secret that Schiano’s coaching approach and Pete Carroll’s are polar opposites, but Bennett explained just how different their approaches are during a recent radio interview on 750 The Game in Portland.

    When asked what it’s like playing for Carroll, Bennett responded, “It’s like playing for Willy Wonka. He’s crazy. He wants to be young.”

    “He just is one of those guys who’s always up beat, wants to have a good time, and let’s you be yourself,” Bennett added.

    Everyone remembers the days of Carroll at USC, when he was having the time of his life pranking players, competing for national titles, and churning out Heisman Trophy winners and finalists. He likes to have fun and has a unique way of connecting with his players, all while getting them to compete at a very high level.

    Back to that Willy Wonka reference for a second though. Is there a better whimsical, fictional character than Willy Wonka to compare a fun-loving, energetic coach to? If there is, I certainly can’t picture it.

    Just for fun, I decided to pair up a few NFL coaches with their fictional counterparts. Here’s what I came up with. You feel like you’ve got one that I’m missing? Let me know your suggestions at or via Twitter @CoachSamz.

    Chip Kelly – Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory


    What better pairing for the most innovative offensive mind in the NFL than a kid who spends his time doing innovative experiments in his lab? Both have been referred to, on more than one occasion, as “Mad Scientists”.

    Bill Belichick – The Brain from Pinky and the Brain AND Yoda from Star Wars


    Belichick is regarded by (nearly) everyone as one of the top minds at any level football, and Yoda is probably the wisest fictional character is existence. That also matches up with The Brain’s obsession with taking over the world and Belichick’s hunger for more and more Super Bowl rings. (To be honest, this was probably the easiest one to come up with)

    Andy Reid – Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec


    I’m not even going to try to justify this one – for me this came down to their mustache game being the best in the business. It was that simple.

    Sean Payton – TJ Detweiler from Disney’s Recess


    Both Payton and Detweiler have that “cool customer” persona and everyone want to be friends with both of them.

    Bruce Arians – Cal Naughton Jr. from Talladega Nights


    Before getting the shot to run his own show in Arizona, Arians was a longtime – and very successful – assistant coach. Much like Cal Naughton Jr., Arians had to wait in the wings before getting his shot in the spotlight, and is now taking full advantage of it. (H/T Zach Barnett)

  • Video: Go inside a recruiting meeting at Miami

    Miami v Georgia Tech

    The off season is always filled with hype video, and season ticket promotions, but up until this point, nobody has provided access behind closed doors quite like Miami does in this video.

    Here, Miami takes you inside one of their recruiting meeting where the staff is evaluating a safety prospect. Each coach goes down the line and critiques the kid while also talking about what they like about his skill set while offering their opinion on whether they’re someone the Hurricanes should offer or not. The assistant touch on everything from technique, to football IQ, to how well the kid is coached by his high school staff.

    Things get a little heated towards the end, but no one is sold on the kid more than defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio who knows first hand how hard instinctual safeties are to come by.

    “I’ve been doing this for too long. Everyone wants to make safety a dumping ground. ‘I’m not sure he can play wide out, but he can play safety, or I’m not sure he can play corner, but he can play safety.'”

    “Everyone wants to make it a dumping ground, but if you’ve never seen the kid play safety, safety is a different deal. Watch this kid play safety. The best safeties I’ve ever had played safety in high school and their tape is good in high school and their tape is good in college.”

    A lot of programs advertise “All-Access,” but this is the real deal.

  • Video of the Day – LA Tech 2015 season ticket commercial

    Video of the Day

    Friday May 22, 2015

    LA Tech 2015 season ticket commercial