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  • Urban details the when, how and why of how he’ll choose a starting quarterback

    Ohio State QBs

    Ohio State kicks off its national title defense at Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. on Labor Day evening. Depending on whether or not the Buckeyes receive the opening kickoff, Urban Meyer will reveal his choice of starting quarterback to the world somewhere between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m.

    “The first guy that jogs out at Blacksburg,” Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days Thursday in Chicago, “will be the starting quarterback.”

    In the most talked-about (non-Harbaugh division) storyline of the off-season – and, heck, Chris Fowler brought it up during Ohio State’s national title win over Oregon in January – the how and why are just as important as the who. “You’re talking about two to three very invested people and incredible families,” Meyer admitted. And as such, he and his staff owe those involved and their scarlet-clad teammates a detailed and well-reasoned explanation as to who sits and who plays opening night in Blacksburg.

    “So, basically, we’re keeping score of everything. And everything, obviously, multiplied when you start adding 7-on-7 mini field, third-down periods, and all that,” Meyer said, admitting Braxton Miller made things easier on himself, offensive coordinator Ed Warinner and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck by taking himself out of the running.

    While charting will provide the science to the decision, Meyer admitted there’s also some art to it. In the spring the three-time national champion alluded to using only statistics to make a decision, but he backed off that statement Thursday, saying intangibles will also play into it. And how could they not?

    “It’s got to be both,” Meyer told Fox Sports. “I was on the sideline with those kids. It’s how they performed last year, how they performed in the summer, and then we’re going to chart everything throughout training camp. It’s going to be an accumulation of all that information and then we’ll make a decision.”

    “I’ve see Cardale Jones on fourth-and-1 against Oregon launch himself as he’s looking at the first down marker. That’s buried in my brain. I’ve also seen J.T. Barrett with a second-degree MCL sprain at Penn State, look at me and say, ‘I’m not coming out of the game.'”

    “They’re all embedded, and I just have to make the decision.”

    He’s got 39 days to do it – and counting.


  • Video: Art Briles is obsessed with Dan Le Batard’s father Papi

    Dan Le Batard is the most tolerable of the overpaid cable sports gas bag, simply because he’s seemingly the only one who knows he’s an overpaid gas bag and acts accordingly. Case in point, Le Batard’s father, with no real show business background, is a major player in his son’s television show, because why wouldn’t he be?

    Well, here’s one legitimate reason. Art Briles is fascinated by the man.

    In an appearance on Wednesday’s show, Briles fielded generic Art Briles football questions around his obsession with Papi Le Batard. It’s pretty entertaining television.

  • The Tennessee – Vanderbilt rivalry is looking for a name, and wants your suggestions


    In-state rivals Tennessee and Vanderbilt have been facing off for well over 100 years now. Their first game took place back in 1892, and yet for 110 meetings it has lacked the catchy rivalry game.

    Alabama and Auburn have the Iron Bowl, Texas and Oklahoma have the Red River Shootout, Boston College and Notre Dame have the Holy War, Oregon State and Oregon have the Civil War, and Ole Miss and Mississippi State have the Egg Bowl. You get the point. In my mind, it’s not a proper rivalry without a catchy name.

    Even though the Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt rivalry is a bit lopsided by rivalry standards (Tennessee leads the series 74-30-5) it is still one of the oldest match ups in college football, and for that reason The Tennessean feels that it deserves a proper name, and they’re even willing to step up to the plate to provide the trophy that goes up for grabs each season.

    Which way to go with the name of the rivalry game is a point of contention and when The Tennessean put out word that they were looking for some suggestions, they got a little bit of everything.

    Some fans would like to see the game’s name pay homage to former coaches (Dudley/Neyland Legacy Trophy). Others would like to see it named for the stretch of road that separates Knoxville from Nashville (The I-40 Cup, The Battle for I-40, etc.) and some fans would like to see the cultures or heritages of each city represented (The Smoky Mountain Music Cup, Smoky Mountain Music Game, Sounds of the South). Of course, whiskey related names were popular suggestions as well (Whiskey Barrell Bowl, Whiskey War, Whiskey Bowl).

    All in all, the Tennessean has compiled a pretty solid list of suggestions (see them all here) and now it’s just a matter of thinning them out sending them to each respective athletic department, and coming to a consensus.

    If you have a name for the game that would fit, shoot it to me on Twitter to @CoachSamz and I’ll share the best ones below and make sure the Tennessean gets the suggestions as well.

  • Todd Graham says recruits don’t ask him if he’s going to stick around at Arizona State anymore

    Todd Graham

    Admit it, on Dec. 14, 2011, the day Todd Graham was announced as Arizona State’s head coach, you didn’t think he’d still be Arizona State’s head coach on July 30, 2015. After spending one year as Rice’s head coach before leaving for Tulsa and, after four years at Tulsa, ducking out in the worst possible way after one year at Pittsburgh, who could have blamed you?

    But, three seasons later and on the eve of a fourth, Graham says his actions have outspoken his, uh, earlier actions. And now recruits have stopped asking if he’ll still be there by the time their senior year rolls around.

    “No, I really don’t,” Graham said Thursday at Pac-12 Media Days in Hollywood. “I’ve been pretty straightforward with recruits about where we’re at. I’ve paid my house off and I’ve donated half a million dollars. I don’t know what else I can do. Obviously, too, here’s the other thing I tell recruits. We’re building a $300 million new stadium and football complex, not a lot of people around the country are putting that kind of commitment into the program. You look at the commitment our university has made to our coaching staff, assembling one of the best and using the resources to do that speaks volumes about the commitment. I don’t get that question much anymore.”

    Another, unspoken reason Graham doesn’t get that question anymore? The program he’s building in Tempe. The Sun Devils have improved in every one of his three seasons, from an 8-5 debut, to a Pac-12 South title in 2013, to a second straight 10-win season and a No. 12 final AP ranking in 2014. With a No. 16 preseason ranking by the coaches, Arizona State has a chance to make a run in 2015. The Sun Devils open with Texas A&M in Houston and get division favorites USC and Oregon as well as downstate rival Arizona in Tempe this fall.

  • Ohio State tops USA Today preseason Coaches Poll

    Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer leads the team in pre-game warmup drills prior to the NCAA football game against Penn State at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Oct. 26, 2013. (Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch)

    Credit: The Columbus Dispatch

    As expected, defending national champion Ohio State opened the USA Today preseason Coaches Poll at No. 1 on Thursday. The only question is how much of the available No. 1 votes the Buckeyes would grab, and the defending champs gobbled up 62 of 64 available first-place votes (TCU and Alabama garnered one apiece). The two voters that did not rank Ohio State No. 1 had the Buckeyes at No. 2. So, officially now, the Buckeyes are the heavy favorites heading into 2015.

    And that is – historically, at least – very unfortunate for them.

    Ohio State is the second straight defending national champion to retain its No. 1 ranking on the first week of the following season and the fifth in the last dozen years. Of the previous four, only one (2003-04 USC) went on to claim back-to-back national titles. That 2004 team, though later vacated, is also the only Coaches preseason No. 1 in the last dozen years to win a national title. So while it provides a nice pep in the step for the Buckeyes and their fans today, a preseason No. 1 ranking usually does not lead to greater things in January.

    Here’s the full poll:

    1. Ohio State
    2. TCU
    3. Alabama
    4. Baylor
    5. Oregon
    6. Michigan State
    7. Auburn
    8. Florida State
    9. Georgia
    10. USC
    11. Notre Dame
    12. Clemson
    13. LSU
    14. UCLA
    15. Ole Miss
    16. Arizona State
    17. Georgia Tech
    18. Wisconsin
    19. Oklahoma
    20. Arkansas
    21. Stanford
    22. Arizona
    23. Missouri
    24. Boise State
    25. Tennessee

    A few notes:

    – Breaking it down by conference: SEC (8), Pac-12 (6) Big 12 (3), Big Ten (3), ACC (3), Independents (1), Mountain West (1). By percentage: SEC (57%), Pac-12 (50%), Big 12 (30%), ACC and Big Ten (21%).

    – The Group of Five gets its one customary late 20’s spot, and, of course, it goes to Boise State.

    – Steve Spurrier will surely be pleased that 7-6 Arkansas and 7-6 Tennessee jump into the poll and 7-6 South Carolina does not.

    – This is the first time since 1998, Mack Brown’s first year, that Texas enters the year unranked in the Coaches’ Poll. The silver lining? The Horns went 9-3 and ended the year ranked 16th by the coaches.

    – Just for laughs, here’s last year’s Coaches preseason Top 10 laid against the postseason Top 10.

    1.Florida StateOhio State
    5.AuburnMichigan State
    6.Ohio StateFlorida State
    7.UCLAGeorgia Tech
    8.Michigan StateBaylor
    9.South CarolinaGeorgia