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  • In praise of Todd Grantham, the game’s overlooked coordinator

    Todd Grantham

    Six coordinators in college football earn $900,000 or more a year. Five are universally regarded as among the best in their profession. And then there’s Todd Grantham.

    Grantham surprised a lot of people in the college football world by leaving Georgia for Bobby Petrino’s new staff at Louisville, and earning a raise from $850,000 to $975,000 annually in the process. When Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt away from Florida State, it was widely considered that the Bulldogs turned a coaching defection into an improvement.

    The universal thought is Georgia won the coaching carousel, because the Bulldogs virtually stole Pruitt – a major upgrade over his predecessor – away from FSU. - Jan. 16

    Then there was the story in August that Petrino was thinking of firing Grantham, and would have if not for his contract. (Grantham spoke with FootballScoop to refute this report.)

    It wasn’t a good offseason for Grantham Inc.’s public relations department.

    And then the season started, and not only has Louisville absorbed the loss of two first-round picks and adjusted to a new scheme, the Cardinals have maintained or improved their considerable numbers from last season’s 12-1 season.

    Scoring Defense12.2 (2nd)14.6 (4th)
    Total Defense251.5 (1st)245.8 (1st)
    Yards Per Play4.2 (3rd)3.91 (2nd)
    Rushing Defense80.69 (1st)68.75 (1st)
    Yards Per Carry2.58 (1st)2.31 (1st)
    Pass Efficiency D99.17 (4th)96.24 (2nd)
    Yards Per Attempt6.0 (t-11th)5.3 (t-3rd)
    First Downs/Game14.1 (1st)13 (1st)
    Sacks/Game3.31 (1st)3.5 (7th)
    3rd Down Defense26.74% (1st)23.97% (2nd)
    Plays of 10+ Yards9.92/game9.75/game
    Red Zone Defense68.42% (5th)70% (9th)

    Good as those numbers look, we can’t praise Grantham without also mentioning the roster Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford left behind. Those two left the cupboard stocked with groceries.

    But heading into a huge Thursday night game with No. 2 Florida State, it’s Grantham’s defense and not Petrino’s offense that has given Louisville its status as this week’s trendy upset pick.

                The Top Ten Thursday Night Games in College Football History

    I’m not saying Louisville’s impressive numbers are going to remain that way throughout the season, I’m not saying Louisville is going to win tonight, and I’m not trying to argue Pruitt wasn’t an upgrade over Grantham in Athens.

    But after an offseason where he had his proverbial bags packed for him out of Athens and was supposedly nearly sent packing out of Louisville, Grantham’s defense has proven Louisville’s best attribute, and Grantham has proven worthy of his highly-paid colleagues.

  • Week 10 Upset Picks – The FootballScoop staff weighs in

    Hard to believe we are are in Week 10 already.

    Scott: western-kentucky.120 over louisiana-tech.120

    Western Kentucky has scored 59, 34, 47, 36, 39, 38 and 66 this season. LA Tech, has won three straight and is at home; but has struggled a bit in their last two (wins over UTSA and Southern Miss). This one feels like a shootout to me and I like WKU’s offense in that type of game.

    Zach: arizona.120 (1) over ucla.120

    UCLA’s wins this season? Virginia by eight, Memphis by seven, Texas by three, Arizona State by 35 in one of the most inexplicable results of the year, Cal by two and Colorado by three in overtime. I don’t know how UCLA is a 6.5-point favorite, but I’ll take it.

    Doug: west-virginia.120 over tcu.120

    So far this year, West Virginia’s defense is much improved from the 2013 version under new defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, and they’ve already got experience against one of the top scoring defenses in the country with their defeat of Baylor. TCU is coming off a comfortable 82-27 win over Texas Tech, and things might be getting a little too comfortable in DFW. TCU is favored by 5.5 points, but I’m betting on West Virginia here.


    This season: Scott (4-5), Doug (4-5), Zach (3-6)

  • Is it time to worry about Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State?


    There are two kinds of attrition in football: the inevitable graduation of players into the next plane of life, and the graduation of assistant coaches into bigger and better jobs. Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State have suffered immensely from both of late.

    And it’s showing.

    The Cowboys are 5-3 this season and 3-2 in the Big 12 following consecutive losses to TCU and West Virginia in which Oklahoma State scored 19 points combined.

    Brandon Chatmon addressed the situation for, and he listed out the number of offensive assistants that Gundy has lost over the last half-decade. It’s not a small number.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 1.43.47 PM

    You simply can’t expect to have that sort of brain drain and not expect to suffer the consequences at some point.

    “It’s a huge process,” Gundy said of losing a lot of assistants at once. “That’s the one area people don’t understand. It’s like, ‘you lost a coach, just go find a better one.’ Well, you have to find one that understands, teaches and believes like I do, my philosophy and development of kids. The second thing that caught me off guard was the effect it can have on your recruiting and evaluation.”

    Chatmon deftly points out that mass departures following the 2010 season, headlined by Dana Holgorsen taking the head-coach-in-waiting job at West Virginia, had a negative consequence on what turned out to be a disappointing 2011 recruiting class, with Oklahoma State taking chances on guys they maybe otherwise wouldn’t have signed. Many of those chances didn’t work out and – voila – the 2014 Oklahoma State team is one without much experienced depth.

    The Cowboys lost eight offensive starters from a team that came within a few plays of winning the 2013 Big 12 championship, and then lost starting quarterback J.W. Walsh in September after he helped Oklahoma State play within one point of Florida State in the opener.

    Gundy famously struck well off the beaten path to hire Mike Yurcich as offensive coordinator from Shippensburg in 2013 and, predictably, started the season at a walk before hitting a full sprint midway through the season, as the Cowboys averaged 42.2 points a game during a mid-season seven-game winning streak. This season, scoring is down nine points a game, total offense is down 46 yards a game and half a yard per play.

    Find me a team that loses the majority of its starting offense to graduation and/or the NFL draft, then loses its starting quarterback and loses an elite offensive line coach in Joe Wickline and doesn’t see a dip in production.

    Gundy is on a string of nine, nine, 11, 12, eight and 10 wins at Oklahoma State. So, yes – to answer my own question – Gundy absolutely deserves patience and the benefit of the doubt during the Cowboys’ trying times.

  • FootballScoop radio: 104.5 ESPN interview

    This morning, I spent some time on air with Jordy Culotta & Derek Ponamsky (affectionately known as “the Prince”) at 104.5 ESPN.

    We spent a few minutes discussing the origins of FootballScoop and our core audience; but then the guys wanted to talk about some openings and some potential openings that could change the coaching landscape considerably.

    We spend the first 3 minutes talking about FootballScoop and how the business operates and where we get our information.

    At the 7 minute mark we talk about Ed Orgeron and his future which evolves into a conversation about the Troy job.

    Just before the 10 minute mark, the guys bring up the discussion about Mack Brown and SMU.

    Just before the 11 minute mark, the guys bring up the possibility of Florida and Michigan opening and I share my thoughts and what I’ve been hearing in the coaching community on both.

  • Video: See the creative process behind Texas A&M’s unique 1939 throwback helmets


    Texas A&M’s 1939 throwback helmets and uniforms that they unveiled yesterday have already been dubbed by many college football fanatics as the greatest throwbacks ever based on first impressions alone.

    Whether you actually agree with that assessment or not is unimportant, what we can all agree on is that these are some of the most unique helmets that college football has ever seen.

    Today, Texas A&M released a behind the scenes look at the creative process that went into creating these one of a kind helmets. The beginning of the process actually started about 10-11 months ago, according to equipment manager Matt Watson.

    There was no mass producing these on an assembly line. A lot of sweat, precision, and painstaking details went into each helmet

    “This really isn’t something that happens overnight. It really plays out of the course of about a year.” Watson explained.

    “We really saw an opportunity to do something special, in my mind, and that’s where we challenged everyone involved with the project to really try and make this the most authentic, and really the best throwback that has ever been done.”