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  • 2014 Defensive Coordinator of the Year – Finalists


    The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards, presented by ProGrass, are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. Finalists were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors and other athletic department personnel. The winner will be chosen by the previous winners of this award and will be announced on Monday December 8th.

    The 2014 FootballScoop Coaches of the Year will be recognized and will receive their awards at an event held in their honor at the American Football Coaches Association’s annual convention in January in Louisville, KY.

    Previous winners of the Defensive Coordinator of the Year award are Nick Holt (USC, 2008), Kirby Smart (Alabama, 2009), Vic Fangio (Stanford, 2010), John Chavis (LSU, 2011), Bob Diaco (Notre Dame, 2012) and Pat Narduzzi (Michigan State, 2013).

    Dave Aranda, Wisconsin

    Dave Aranda has fielded great defenses before, but none that dominate in every phase of the game quite like this one. The 9-2 Badgers are a devastating defense against the run, ranking fifth nationally in rush defense and yards per carry and third in rushes of 10-plus yards allowed. But they’re also just as lethal against the pass, placing third in passing defense, second in opponent completion percentage and 15th in pass efficiency defense. Add it all up and you get a defense that places second nationally in total defense, seventh in yards per play, third in scoring defense, tied for first in plays of 10-plus yards, first in opponent first downs and third on third downs.



    Key Stats

    • 1st in opponent first downs (13.5 per game)
    • 3rd in scoring defense (16.1 points per game)
    • 2nd in total defense (259.3 yards per game)
    • 5th in rushing defense (97.1 yards per game)
    • t-1st in plays of 10-plus yards allowed (94)

    Kirby Smart, Alabama

    Another year, and another season where a top-ranked Alabama squad fields arguably the best defense in college football. The 10-1 Crimson Tide once again rank second in scoring defense. In fact, Alabama hasn’t allowed an opponent to top 20 points since Oct. 4. Smart’s bunch is stifling against the run – second nationally in yards per game and carry allowed, first in runs of 10-plus yards allowed – while also ranking seventh in yards per attempt allowed. Smart also authored perhaps the best single-game effort of the season, intercepting Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott three times and holding then-No. 1 Mississippi State and its prolific offense without a touchdown through three quarters in a 25-20 win.


    Key Stats

    • 2nd in scoring defense (14.5 points per game)
    • 5th in total defense (283.5 yards per game)
    • 2nd in rushing defense (85.3 yards per game)
    • 2nd in yards per carry allowed (2.7)

    Brent Venables, Clemson

    There was a lot of excitement around Clemson’s defense heading into the 2014 season, but Brent Venables’ group has exceeded those hefty expectations. The 9-2 Tigers lead the nation in both total defense and yards per play, the only team holding its opponent under four yards per snap, while also leading the country in tackles for loss – nearly a full 1.5 TFL per game ahead of second-place Virginia Tech – and opponent third down conversions. Clemson also ranks in the top five in passing defense, yards per carry allowed and yards per attempt allowed.




    Key Stats

    • 1st in total defense (252.4 yards per game)
    • 1st in yards per play allowed (3.97)
    • 1st in tackles for loss (9.91 per game)
    • 1st in opponent third down conversions (27.06 percent)
    • 3rd in yards per carry allowed (2.85)
    • 3rd in yards per attempt allowed (5.4)

    Dave Wommack, Ole Miss

    Through the first seven games of this season, opposing passers had hoisted 250 passes. Fifteen of those passes were intercepted, and six went for touchdowns – three by the opponent, and three by Ole Miss. The Land Shark defense lived up to its billing in 2014, as no unit was as predatory as these Rebels. As it stands today, the 8-3 Rebels rank seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense, with 19 interceptions and seven touchdowns allowed (plus those three of their own), 14th in yards per attempt and 13th in passing defense. Ole Miss also ranks 19th in yards per carry allowed, and leads the nation in scoring defense by a full point per game. The Rebels have held three opponents to three points or less, and eight to 15 points or less.



    Key Stats

    • 1st in scoring defense (13.5 points per game)
    • t-3rd in interceptions (19)
    • 12th in tackles for loss (7.36 per game)
    • 9th in yards per play allowed (4.53)
    • 7th in pass efficiency defense (104.11)

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  • “I Don’t Know”: Rick Neuheisel now has a song about the selection committee

    Hopping on the Dan Patrick Show with a new song to debut has become pretty common for Rick Neuheisel since he has left the UCLA sideline and landed a job with the Pac-12 Network.

    He’s touched on topics like Johnny Football, the national title, and “The Stairway to the Playoffs,” and his latest song is dedicated to the first ever college football playoff selection committee.

    Just give the man a pen, some paper, a microphone, a guitar and an audience and let him do work.

    It’s quite entertaining.

    Can someone get this man a record deal already?

  • Dear UAB – It’s time to do the right thing


    The situation at UAB is just bizarre at this point.

    Bill Clark and his staff have completely re-energized a program that many had left for dead, and somehow there is still no shortage of talk circulating that the university plans to cut the football program.

    When called out on the carpet by former UAB players, instead of answering the concerns, president Dr. Ray Watts danced around the issues and concerns instead of addressing them.

    Just to give you an idea of how impressive Clark and his staff have been at UAB, back on September 4th, after their first game against Troy (a 48-10 win) we were ready to appoint Clark as the best under-the-radar coaching hire of 2014.

    In the weeks that followed UAB has dropped a 13 point decision to Mississippi State and went on to beat Alabama A&M, a tough Western Kentucky team, North Texas, and Florida Atlantic. It should go without saying that we proudly stand by that statement from back in Week 2 on coach Clark.

    The poisonous cloud of speculation and uncertainty continues to circle UAB football, and the decision makers have yet to come out and definitively stand up for the program. This situation has become the poster child on “how not to treat a coaching staff,” and yet Clark and his staff still manage to get their guys to go out and play quality football every week.

    This past weekend, on their biggest stage yet against an undefeated Marshall team, UAB went out and fought their tails off but fell just short, 23-18 in a game that was every bit as close as it looks. We hear that they had nearly 30,000 people at that game at Legion Field, which is far more than any other Sun Belt, MAC, or Conference USA game that took place that day.

    Did we mention that kickoff was at 11am? All things considered, that’s really impressive.

    Against all odds, the UAB program is on the rise.

    Today the executive director of the new UAB Football Foundation pledged to raise $4-5 million in the next year to support the program, and even more in the next 10 years. All UAB needs to do is meet three conditions, according to

    “1. Extending coach Bill Clark’s contract. Clark, nearing the end of his first season at UAB, agreed to a three-year deal originally.
    2. Scheduling non-conference opponents beyond the 2016 season. At the moment, UAB has no non-conference games scheduled for 2017 and beyond.
    3. UAB’s administration committing to support the program “at levels that provide UAB football an opportunity to compete for C-USA championships.”

    Now there is simply no excuse. There is support, there is money, and you have coaches, players, and people that care.

    UAB needs to step up and do the right thing here…it’s past time. They’ve got a quality staff in place that cares about the kids, the community, and the university (even if that’s a clear one-way street).

    Do the right thing UAB.


  • Every team in the Eagles’ division tried to hire Nick Aliotti


    When Chip Kelly was hired away from Oregon by the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2013, every team in the NFC East reached out to the one man who saw his schemes on a daily basis from the other side of the ball; Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.

    Aliotti, who is now enjoying retirement after coaching the 2013 season under Mark Helfrich in Eugene, told the Oregonian that he was the coaching equivalent of a blue-chip recruit when Kelly took the Eagles job.

    “I have been asked by everybody in the NFC East…” he explained to the Oregonian.

    “The Giants asked me to come back when Chip got the first job. I didn’t feel right doing that. Some teams have called when they’re getting ready to play the Eagles and they call and have certain questions on the thing.”

    Even after fielding interest from a number of teams, Aliotti explains that his loyalty, and insight into Kelly’s approach and offensive philosophy was never really up for grabs for just anyone.

    “Unless I know the guy and he’s a good friend, I don’t get involved with that.”

    Aliotti could have easily parlayed his knowledge into an NFL coaching or consulting gig, but that’s just not the type of person he is. But if you’re an NFL team in that situation, you’ve got to at least ask I suppose.

    Read the full piece from the Oregonian here.


  • Coaches: What books would you recommend for other coaches this offseason?


    With the regular season done for nearly everyone (except the FBS), college coaches are hitting the road to recruit, while high school coaches are enjoying a brief breather before getting back in the weight room.

    While it’s far from an offseason of any kind, this time of year does leave coaches with some “down time” on their hands, even if that includes sleeping in hotels far away from family, or long nights on the open road.

    That may help to explain why, over the last few days, we’ve fielded a number of emails, calls, and texts from coaches looking for some recommended reading material before next season creeps up. Plus, clinic season, when coaches are at their thirstiest for knowledge, is approaching quick.

    Instead of responding to every coach personally with my own personal take on great reads, I thought I would instead provide my personal top three, and then open things up by taking recommendations from the coaching community to further help our colleagues in this great profession.

    Leave your top 3-5 picks in the comments below, or shoot it to me @CoachSamz on Twitter, or at, and I will update the article throughout the day. All genres are wide open, if you think it can somehow help a coach out there, send it over.

    My list is as follows:


    The Winners Manual - Jim Tressel

    When it comes to creating a culture of winning and a championship mindset, coach Tres did it better than anyone in my opinion, and he lays it all out in The Winners Manual, especially the intangibles of a great program. In my first year of coaching I heard the quote “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” from coach Tressel, and I knew I had to read the book


    Wins, Losses, and Lessons – Lou Holtz

    Holtz shares his wealth of experience in this one, as well another book of his Winning Everyday. and has a ton of great advice. Reading either one of them means you won’t ever have to pay to hear him speak, because he covers everything in this book.


    Win Forever – Pete Carroll

    To be honest, I bought this book about a year ago, and had been chipping away at it up until recently taking a renewed interest in it. My advice for this one is to pick out a coach (who has a book out) who your coaching style most resembles and you’re bound to pick up a few good things from it. Pete Carroll is that guy for me.

    Now time for your recommendations.



    1: Earn the right to win – Tom Coughlin: Much like Coach Carrol’s book, he talks about building a program, the stress it takes on a family, and the mistakes he made.
    2. The Education of a Coach by Book by David Halberstam is a great read and very well written.  Coach Belichick’s meticulous attention to detail is impressive.
    – via email from Hans Straub

    1. The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn
    2. Good to Great by Jim Collins
    3. Built to Last by Jim Collins
    – via email from Jason Aubry