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  • Video: Western Kentucky’s “The Playoffs”

    USA Today

    USA Today

    It was hard to see Western Kentucky’s 2014 season ending the way it eventually did back on Nov. 1. The Hilltoppers were 3-5 and fresh off a 59-10 drubbing at Louisiana Tech.

    That’s when head coach Jeff Brohm essentially wiped the slate clean and stressed the idea that Western Kentucky had entered its own version of the playoffs. To extend its season, the Hilltoppers had to win. And that they did.

    WKU beat UTEP 35-7, then blew out Army and UTSA by a combined 97-31. At 6-5, Western Kentucky closed the season in more exciting fashion than any team outside of Columbus, stunning then-undefeated Marshall 67-66 in overtime and then holding off a furious rally to beat Central Michigan 49-48 in the inaugural Bahamas Bowl. When’s the last time a team ended back-to-back games with a successful two-point conversion and then a thwarted two-point try?

    Riding a five-game winning streak (fifth best in college football) and returning 16 starters, Western Kentucky like where it stands heading into 2015. This video makes it easy to see why.

  • Pat Narduzzi explains the most vital position group to an elite defense

    Pat Narduzzi knows a thing or two about elite defenses. Dating back to 2011, Narduzzi’s Spartan Dawg defense in East Lansing ranked in the top 10 in total defense every season, and it was those on-the-field results that led to him to the head coaching position at Pitt.

    Yesterday, after his sixth spring practice at leading the Panthers, Narduzzi was asked which position group is most important to having an elite defense.

    “I think a strong defensive line is,” Narduzzi explained. “It starts up front. If you can’t win up front with those guys, you’ve got a problem.”

    “You could have a great secondary, and more, but if you don’t have a defensive line that can put some pressure on the quarterback, you’re going to have issues. So it starts up front, both offensively and defensively.”

  • Bobby Johnson to replace Archie Manning on CFB Playoff selection committee

    ESPN

    ESPN

    One year in, the College Football Playoff is already making its second change to the 13-member selection committee. After seeing Oliver Luck vacate his position after taking a position within the NCAA and replacing him with Texas Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt, the Playoff announced Friday it had replaced Archie Manning with former Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson.

    Manning never actually served on the committee, stepping away last fall due health concerns. He has now decided to step down permanently due to time concerns.

    “I was honored when I was chosen to be on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee,” Manning said. “It’s a great group of people and they did a wonderful job last year.  But as I look ahead to the various commitments I have – to my family, numerous time obligations around the country and to other conflicting demands – I have concluded that I won’t be able to return to the committee.  I particularly want to watch Peyton and Eli play, in person when I can, and it’s hard to do that when weekends are devoted to watching college games.  This is not an easy choice, but it’s the right choice for Olivia and me.”

    The Playoff asks a lot of time of its committee members – two days a week from late October through Selection Sunday – and one has to wonder if that hollows its potential talent pool. With Manning’s resignation it appears the first casualty is one of its own original members.

    Johnson served as head coach at Furman from 1994-01 and then at Vanderbilt from 2002-10, earning an AFCA National Coach of the Year honor in 2001 and an SEC Coach of the Year award in 2008 after guiding the Commodores to their first bowl game in 53 years.

    “I have tremendous respect for the selection committee and I am honored to join the group,” said Johnson. “As a former player and coach, I’m particularly happy about the opportunity to continue to serve the game.”

    Johnson will be the fourth former coach on the 13-member panel, joining Barry Alvarez, Tom Osborne and Tyrone Willingham.

  • How much money are MAC football programs making?

    NIU Today

    NIU Today

    Mid-American Conference schools don’t make a lot of money. Thanks to an extensive study by Jon Styf of ChicagoFootball.com, we now know exactly how much they make (or, perhaps more accurately, don’t make).

    While revenue for all 12 MAC schools (football-only UMass not included) sat between $22 million and $32 million, profit – err, budget surplus – varied wildly.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 11.31.23 AM

    The conference collectively lost nearly $3.8 million in 2013-14, but take Toledo’s share out and the league essentially broke even.

    What if we singled out just the football programs?

    Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 11.37.01 AM

    The specter hanging over all this is that costs are only going up. Cost-of-attendance scholarships are coming, and MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher committed last fall to paying the new cost of business. That money, the league plans, will be offset thanks to new contracts with ESPN (#MACtion!) and the league’s kickback from the massive College Football Playoff contract.

    We’ll spare you the minutiae of NCAA distributions and student fees and institutional sport and skip right to what I found most interesting from the study: recruiting budgets.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 11.45.30 AM

    Again, these numbers are from 2013-14, which means Dave Clawson found a way to win the MAC while spending less than $85,000 in recruiting. Some SEC schools spend that on breakfast.

    If you’re interested enough in MAC finances to reach the end of this article, I strongly encourage you to check out the full report.

  • Photos: Ohio State has received their National Championship rings

    UrbanTitleBanner

    Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith tweeted out a picture of the Ohio State National Title rings a few moments ago, and they’re impressive.

    Coach Smith said it best with his tweet.

    OhioStateRing

    I know the style is to go big with the bling normally, but these are pretty tasteful considering they’re the first winners of the College Football Playoff and could have justified something rather outrageous.

    OSUring33OSUring2OhioStateringside