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  • Doc Holliday walks the walk

    Steward Butler

    Earlier today we ran an article quoting Marshall head coach Doc Holliday talking about how the NFL’s wishy-washy personal conduct stance makes college football coaches’ jobs much harder.

    “The NFL talks out of both sides of their mouth,” he said. “They talk about wanting to draft character guys, and how important character is and all that, but then they turn around and the first player taken in the draft has all these issues. It just sends the wrong message to the type of kids that I’ve had to deal with and it send the wrong message to high school players.”

    He continued: “You know, every time that I talk to our football team, the last thing that I tell them every time before they walk off the field is that every decision you make has consequences. Well I’m anxious to see, in this draft, some of the decisions that some of these top 10 players have made, does it have a consequence?”

    As fate would have it, just a few hours later Holliday was put in a situation where he needed to back up his words with action.

    Reports surfaced Wednesday morning that Thundering Herd running back Seward Butler was arrested for allegedly beating a pair of same-sex men after Butler saw the pair kissing.

    Just a few hours after the charges emerged, Butler was dismissed from the team.

    With 798 rushing yards and seven touchdowns last season, Butler entered 2015 as Marshall’s second-leading returning rusher. On a team that loses All-Conference USA passer Rakeem Cato, Holliday surely could have made use of Butler this fall.

    Instead, he – and his athletics director – made swift and decisive action as to what type of behavior would tolerate on his football team, regardless of how it affects the team on the field.

    Holliday would like for the next level to adopt the same level of leadership, but he knows better by now.

  • One True Champion at last, Big 12 sorts out tiebreaker rules

    Big 12 co champs


    Barring some extremely rare circumstances, never again will the Big 12 have to crown two champions while touting itself as the league of One True Champion.

    The conference approved new tiebreaker procedures to determine its champion at its spring meetings in Phoenix Wednesday, seen below via ESPN’s Max Olson:

    Big 12 tiebreaker

    First, a simple tie between two teams will now be broken via head-to-head. The simplest tiebreaker on the books. The Big 12 had this in place to determine its College Football Playoff Access (Sugar, except that was a semifinal game so the champion had to play in the Cotton Bowl…actually, that’s another discussion for another day) Bowl representative a year ago, but not its designated champion. So here we are.

    As Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News points out, the conference actually mixed up its own wording on point No. 1. In real-world terms, let’s assume TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma each finish the 2015 regular atop the standings with identical records. The ties would be broken as such:

    1. If, for the sake of the hypothetical, the trio goes 7-2, with Oklahoma losing to both TCU and Baylor while the Bears and Frogs’ second losses come outside the trifecta, the Sooners would be eliminated and the Baylor-TCU winner would claim the crown. Or, in simpler terms, if Baylor again goes 8-1 while beating the tops of the league while losing only to a middle-of-the-pack team, the Bears will win the conference no matter how anyone else finishes.

    2. If that does not work, the league will then examine each club’s record against the fourth, fifth, sixth, etc., best teams. Once one team is eliminated, head-to-head among the two remaining teams will determine the champion. In this scenario, you’re better off losing to, say, Kansas or Iowa State than Oklahoma State or Kansas State.

    3. If three teams tie for fourth place, the league will examine the TCU-Baylor-Oklahoma troika’s respective records against the three teams tied for fourth.

    4. If none of those tiebreaker procedures work, or if the top three teams lose only to each other – a 2008 redux – the conference would then compare the clubs’ comparative scores.

    5. A draw in the conference office. How is this draw conducted? Are we drawing straws? And who is drawing those straws?

    Once again, the Big 12 leaves us with more questions than answers.

  • The #DailyDose: Who was the most underrated coordinator hire off the off season?


    Today’s #DailyDose: Who was the most underrated coordinator hire off the off season?

    Scott’s choice (@FootballScoop): Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf


    When Danny Langsdorf was at Oregon State with Mike Riley the two combined to create offensive game plans that few seemed to be able to defend. With a team of often unheralded stars, in a conference like the Pac-12 where they were often outmatched – at least on paper – Langsdorf and Riley scored points on top of points. Langsdorf went to the league to tutor Eli Manning for a year and Riley’s offense didn’t have the same success. As soon as Riley was hired, I thought to myself, if he can bring Danny back, Nebraska’s offense will be just fine.

    Doug’s choice (@CoachSamz): Michigan State co-defensive coordinators Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel


    When Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi left for the head coaching job at Pitt, there was little doubt that he wanted to bring Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel along with him to the Steel City, but Mark Dantonio had other plans. Dantonio may have lost the key architect behind the Spartans’ dominating defense, but by giving Tressel and Barnett a much deserved promotion (they’ve both spent all eight years in East Lansing with Dantonio) the Spartans are in great position to continue their defensive success.

    Barnett is well known for the “No Fly Zone” moniker of his secondary, which has produced two corners picked in the top 24 spots in the last two NFL Drafts, and Tressel is well known for his attention to detail and knack for churning out All-Big Ten linebackers. Now the two will work together to pick up where Narduzzi left off, and continue to build.

    It’s easy for a lot of people to overlook promotions like these because they aren’t necessarily “splashes,” but I believe it was among the best moves of the off season around college football.

    I also considered Oklahoma’s hire of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley from East Carolina.

    Zach’s choice (@Zach_Barnett): Missouri defensive coordinator Barry Odom


    This answer is so easy it actually feels like cheating because everything Gary Pinkel does somehow gets overlooked. One of Pinkel’s greatest strengths as a head coach is the continuity he’s fostered among his staff, which that was threatened – slightly – after longtime lieutenant Dave Steckel took the head job at Missouri State. No matter, Pinkel just grabbed Barry Odom away from Memphis.

    In his first coordinator stint, all Odom did was transform a unit that ranked 105th nationally in scoring defense a year prior to his arrival into a group that placed 11th in the country and helped the Tigers post a 10-win season while claiming a share of the American Athletic Conference championship. As for continuity? Odom spent nine seasons on Pinkel’s staff before taking the Memphis job and prior to that spent two years as a Missouri high school football coach.

    It was a perfect hire, and we should expect nothing less from Pinkel.

  • The NFL has released the DeflateGate findings

    NFL Football

    Four and a half months after the game was played, the NFL has released attorney Ted Wells’ investigation into the so-called DeflateGate scandal stemming from the New England Patriots’ AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

    The report – all 243 pages of it – can be found here.

    In short, the investigation points the finger at locker room attendant Jim McNally, equipment assistant John Jastremski and says quarterback Tom Brady “was at least generally aware” of McNally and Jastremski’s actions. However, the league did not find an organization-wide conspiracy involving owner Robert Kraft or head coach Bill Belichick.

    Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.31.26 PM

    The most revealing detail of the investigation may be the text messages between McNally and Jastremski and their general disdain for Brady. There’s a lot of stuff in here — Patrick Claybon (@PatrickClaybon) May 6, 2015

    As was previously reported, the Colts first grew suspicious during the clubs’ regular-season meeting.

    As he has throughout the four-month ordeal, Kraft came out strongly against the investigation.

    Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.36.33 PM

    See the full response here.

    In the end, the Patriots will not receive an apology from the league and the league will not reclaim the Lombardi Trophy New England won in February, and we can all move on from one of the most mind-numbing scandals in recent memory.

  • Video: We should all be like Ernie Johnson when we grow up

    This has nothing to do with football, but everything to do with life.

    Ernie Johnson won the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Studio Host/Personality last night, beating out giants in the industry such as Bob Costas, Keith Olbermann, Rich Eisen… and Stuart Scott. Scott, of course, passed away in January after a long bout with cancer. His death rocked the entire sports media industry.

    Johnson overcame his own bout with cancer and, as you’ll see below, encouraged Scott in his struggle with the disease. Instead of accepting the award and taking it back to Atlanta with him, Johnson gave his award to Scott’s daughters, Taelor and Sydni.

    Here’s a trailer for the E:60 piece Johnson references in his speech:

    We should all be like Ernie Johnson when we grow up.