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  • Tom Herman promises “the hardest training camp in the history of college football.”

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    Tom Herman was hired away from Ohio State to replace Tony Levine, who was fired after posting a 21-17 overall record and a 15-10 mark in 2013 and 2014. That isn’t normal for the coaching business.

    But as the largest university in the largest city of America’s largest talent-producing and football-mad state, Houston brought in Herman to take the next step as a football program, and to use the football program to take the next step as a university. There’s a new stadium that must be filled. There’s a new conference that must be won, a valuable bowl entry that must be claimed. Beyond the horizon, there’s another shifting of the landscape that many believe is coming, and Houston wants to position itself as the primary choice to leap into a new stratosphere.

    There’s a lot to be won and with, again, a roster that won 16 games over the past two years, the winning must start now. With that in mind, Herman promised Cougar fans at a Touchdown Club of Houston meeting in nearby Pearland on Wednesday something that will surpass what happened 61 years prior and 300 miles to the west in Junction, Texas.

    That’s not to say Herman is all bluster and gusto. Working with its fifth offensive line coach in as many seasons, Herman admitted something most of his peers would not at this time of year.

    The honesty of the second statement should make Cougars players brace for the reality of the first.

  • Video: Take a drone-led tour of the (almost) finished Kyle Field

    When Scott, Mike from Overtime Software and I visited Texas A&M’s football facilities in March, I can report firsthand I came away anywhere from thoroughly impressed and blown away. Nowhere that I’ve seen (and I understand Oregon, Alabama and a handful of others have something to say about this) can match Texas A&M’s grandeur of an old, expansive college football program with the nicest creature comforts money can buy.

    We weren’t allowed inside Kyle Field, though, for obvious reasons.

    With the season nigh upon us, A&M’s near half-billion dollar investment in Kyle Field is nearly finished. Thanks to Auburn fan Kerry Thach, we have a bird’s eye view at what the SEC’s largest venue will look like upon completion.

    With Kyle Field’s renovation complete and John Chavis snatched away from LSU, the only thing left for Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies to do now is just win an SEC and national championship. The pieces are certainly in place.

    (HT SDS)

  • One special D-III game day experience will include kid activities, foam party for students, and a beer garden

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    Last year, Millsaps College (D-III – MS) came up with the brilliant idea to put a homemade Slip-and-Slide in for the student section to enjoy. For those of you that know how hot in can be in Jackson, Mississippi you can appreciate how nice that must have been.

    Well this year, Millsaps athletic director Josh Brooks and the university are building off from that with a few more amenity additions for the 2015 season that are sure to be a hit with fans.

    For kids, the game day atmosphere will include face painting, a craft station, balloon swords, and the local Jackson Zoo will be bringing a mobile exhibit to the game for the young ones to enjoy. Also, the first 100 kids through the gate on September 3rd will receive a free ticket to the Jackson Zoo.

    Adults looking to attend will be happy to hear that concessions have been upgraded from the typical stadium experience to their favorite local restaurants who will be bringing their own flavors into the game. Game day fare will include locally sourced sausage dogs, hot dogs, wings, and a beer garden from Jackson’s own Lucky Town Brewing, who feature 7 year-round beer options including everything from Pub Ales, to Pale Ales, Saisons, and even a sour / salty wheat beer called a Gose (pronounced G0-Sah).

    It’s really refreshing to see a Division III program take this type of approach to the fan experience on game day. Props to Millsaps and athletic director Josh Brooks for blazing a new trail for small college football with some of these ideas.

    Here’s to hoping it catches on and spreads like wildfire.

  • Rocky Long on playing Power Five opponents: “The only way to prove you belong is to play them.”

    Dec 20, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego State Aztecs head coach Rocky Long reacts during the first quarter of the Poinsettia Bowl against the Brigham Young Cougars at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    The two men are each in search of the same goal, but they’re taking the diametrically opposed routes to get there.

    Speaking at last week’s Sun Belt media days, league commissioner Karl Benson advocated his opinion that his member schools avoid playing Power Five opponents as much as possible, saying the new system meant a coveted New Year’s Six bowl appearance was worth more than a guaranteed paycheck. “As nice as it is and as great as it is to win a game against one of the ‘Big Five’ — I don’t want to minimize that — but right now, in the system that we have, competition with our peer conferences is so important,” Benson said last week. “Those are the games that we really need to focus on.”

    Now enter San Diego State head coach Rocky Long. Speaking to reporters as Tuesday’s Mountain West media day, he challenged his conference bunk mates to play more than one token game against Power Five foes. “Alabama wants to play one tough team and three easy teams,” Long said. “I don’t blame them. I wish I could do that. We’re not in that league. … That’s our lot in life. We want to prove we belong, so the only way you can prove you belong is to play them.”

    Long’s Aztecs played two Power Five foes in 2014, a 31-27 loss to North Carolina in Chapel Hill and a 28-7 setback at Oregon State, en route to a 7-6 season, and two the year before, a 42-7 loss to Ohio State in Columbus and a 34-30 defeat to Oregon State in San Diego. Overall, San Diego State is 1-6 against the Power Five since Long’s arrival in 2011, toppling Washington State 42-24 in his third game as head coach and losing their next six. Long is 31-14 at San Diego State against non-Power Five opponents.

    San Diego State will play two Power Five opponents again this year, a visit to California on Sept. 12 and a trip to Penn State on Sept. 26.

    So, which man is right, Benson or Long? Neither of them. Not yet at least. We only have one year of precedent on the table, and last year’s Group of Five spot went to Boise State of the Mountain West, who lost their only game against a Power Five foe – a 35-13 defeat to Ole Miss in Atlanta – before upsetting Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl.

  • Saban shares a key to his success: “Don’t think much about the past and don’t worry about the future”

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    Years down the road, when Nick Saban decides to hang up his whistle, he will be forever remembered as one of the best coaches that college football has ever seen. Without a doubt, future coaching generations will study Saban’s approach, and try to duplicate it, just as current coaches already do.

    One of the things that sticks out about Saban’s approach to coaching is his focus on the present. He doesn’t get hung up on his 177-59 overall record as a head coach (86-17 at Alabama), or his four national titles, or the desired outcome of this coming season. Instead he’s continually focused on what’s next, as it’s all part of his famed “process”.

    “Well, I don’t really think much about the past, and I don’t really worry a whole lot about the future, so I can’t say how gratifying it is because I’m worried about what’s next. I think that’s one of the keys to being successful, to keep thinking about what I can do right now, because what comes next is most important.

    “So the challenge that we have in front of us, with the players that we have now, the team that we have now. That’s the fun of it. That’s what I enjoy the most.” Saban told CBS Sports.