FootballScoop's Ultimate 2014 College Football Road Trip
On the first Saturday of the 2014 college football season, Arkansas will open their season against the defending SEC champions in Jordan-Hare Stadium. That's just a wonderful game to open with. First of all, every opener is great in its own right. Then you add in Auburn chomping at the bit to defend its SEC title, to get that fantastic running game revving again after nine months of fine tuning.
Then there's the opponent. Arkansas, under Bret Bielema, also beginning year two, very much needs its 2014 season to be better than 2013. And they open with the team that was half a minute away from winning the 2013 national title. That's just a delicious game before you add in pace versus politicking, the fact that one coach accused the other of doctoring game film and any other assorted storylines.
Needless to say, we'd all like to be there.
It also got us wondering what was the best possible game to attend each week. So I decided to map it out. The goal was to see as many programs as possible, and the only rule was that you couldn't visit the same stadium twice.
Here's what I came up with. Feel free to disagree.
August 30: Arkansas at Auburn.
September 6: Michigan at Notre Dame. The last chance to see these on-again, off-again rivals for a while.
September 13: Clemson at Florida State. The best rivalry the ACC has going.
September 20: Miami at Nebraska. They've split their 10 previous meetings, but haven't met in the regular season since 1976.
September 27: Stanford at Washington. Coach Pete's first game against a Pac-12 heavy, and one of college football's most unique venues.
October 4: Alabama at Ole Miss. No ultimate road trip is complete without a visit to The Grove.
October 11: Texas vs. Oklahoma. Forget college football, the Red River Shootout, err, Showdown is one of the most unique events in sports.
October 18: Texas A&M at Alabama. The last two Tide-Aggies games turned out okay.
October 25: Ohio State at Penn State. The biggest home game to date in the James Franklin era, Happy Valley should be rocking for the Buckeyes.
November 1: Stanford at Oregon. With the winner bringing home the last five Pac-12 championships, this series is the hottest thing going in college football west of Tuscaloosa.
November 8: Alabama at LSU. It's our third Alabama game in the last five weeks, but our first trip to the Death Valley.
November 15: Auburn at Georgia. If this game reaches 60 percent of the drama of the 2013 affair, we're in for a treat.
November 22: USC at UCLA. We've been for this game to mean something - on both sides of the rivalry - for years. Could this be the year?
November 29: Michigan at Ohio State. This one feels self-explanatory.
December 6: SEC Championship (Atlanta). I felt a tinge of regret skipping Bedlam, but the South's Super Bowl delivers nearly every year.
December 13: Army vs. Navy (Baltimore). The perfect cap to the perfect season.
Video: Inside Nike's rebranding of Illinois football
When Nike takes on a rebranding effort they don't take things lightly.
To players the word "rebranding" likely means getting some new uniforms and helmets, but to Nike, there's a science behind it. An enormous amount of research and time goes into these efforts. Recently, Nike took on the rebranding of the Fighting Illini and the university took an outstanding look at the thought process that went into the new look in this video.
"The first thing that I think this rebranding does is that it gives us an opportunity to establish the history of this university and this athletic program that we have, and the future. A lot of times this rebranding means that you're getting a new look and those types of things, but what else is does for me is it enables the future Illini to know a bit about our past and the great history that we have in athletics." Tim Beckman explained.
There's also a ton of great insight from Josh Iverson, the senior graphic designer for Nike NCAA football, on the Nike train of thought behind their rebranding.
In the film room with Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst
Paul Chryst knows a thing or two about quarterbacks. If you don't want to give him credit for Russell Wilson's outstanding season at Wisconsin, in which he completed 72.8 percent of his passes for 3,175 yards with 33 touchdowns against only four interceptions to set an FBS record with a 191.78 passer rating, you must give him credit for Scott Tolzien.
At Wisconsin, Chryst turned the lightly-regarded Tolzien into the nation's sixth-most efficient passer in 2010, as he connected on 72.9 percent of his throws for 2,450 yards, 16 touchdowns, six interceptions and an ongoing NFL career with the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.
It's that quarterback acumen that in part got him hired as Pittsburgh's head coach in December 2011, and we can see it on display here. Chryst corrects, demonstrates and explains in a calming, relatable manner. That's probably why Panthers quarterbacks have seen their collective passer rating leap from 93rd nationally in the year prior to his hiring to 40th last fall.
'When we first started guys were trying to save themselves. Now we've gotten faster'
Earlier this week Bowling Green released a video featuring new head coach Dino Babers sitting in a cop car, explaining just how fast "Falcon fast" is going to be.
Now they've released one of the best mic'd up sessions of the year featuring the first year BGSU head coach.
From this video alone, it's easy to see why Babers had so much success at Eastern Illinois and why the fan base and administration at Bowling Green is so excited to have him leading the program. He coaches with a ton of energy, he emphasizes tempo in everything that they do, no detail is too small, and he's very hands on and active during practice.
While coaching up his quarterbacks, he uses a great analogy.
"You've got to be more of a pitcher than a thrower," he explains. Pitch, pitch, pitch, and then there is a time for you to throw your fastball. Besides that, you're just placing it around the player."
There's plenty more in the clip.
If you enjoy Game of Thrones, you'll love this idea from USC
With the hit series Game of Thrones starting back up on Sunday, the "House of (fill in name here)" talk has reached a fever pitch among the series' avid followers (such as myself).
USC decided to capitalize on that hype by releasing this "House of Sarkisian" themed image with the coaching staff as part of Sark's "family tree".
Clever move USC.
If you're hosting a camp this year, you should be doing this
If you're hosting (or taking part in) one of the hundreds of football camps across the country this year, there's no logical reason that you shouldn't be filming it.
Here's a good example from the Tony Johnson OL5 camp for offensive lineman in Texas. They had over 100 big fellas show up, and 14 of them are guys with early offers that are just looking to get better. This video showcases what they were able to accomplish, and it will serve as a great tool for players in the future who consider attending.
Whether you run a youth camp, or a camp aimed at top tier prospects, getting some footage of the camp structure, and players enjoying themselves is the best (and most cost effective) method of advertising that you can do as you look to grow from year to year.
Dog House Party
Here are three generally true statements: Brand new coaches like to do outreach with their brand new student bodies. Programs that went 3-9 the season before like to give their students a reason to come out and see their football team play. Students love free pizza.
Add those three generally true statements together and you get Connecticut's first ever Dog House Party on Wednesday night. The Huskies hosted more than 600 students and media members, and provided free pizza on the field afterward.
"Coaches at the university understand, whether it be coach Geno, Ollie, Calhoun, Stevens or Reid, that great school spirit typically equals success on the athletic field" said Diaco. "We don't want to box out that incredible battery. Let's put the battery in the back of the machine. The battery is school spirit. That's a big part of it. We want to do more things to engage that and make it stronger."
Nothing about Paul Pasqualoni or the way his teams played screamed excitement, which no doubt pushed students away from the program. In their search for his replacement, the Huskies sought high energy coaches like Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and, obviously, Diaco. In addition to winning games, Diaco has to be a salesman and court people back to Huskies games. Hence, the first Dog House Party.
This is a great way for Diaco's new program to build a bridge to the student body and intertwine the football program with their peers.
South Carolina is doing something that every program in America should borrow
It was Pro Day at South Carolina on Wednesday. That means Jadeveon Clowney, ESPN, NFL Network and hundreds of NFL personnel descended upon Columbia and Williams-Brice Stadium. For the Gamecocks, it was a big day, the type of day that won't happen again soon.
Naturally, the South Carolina athletics department wanted to document the events of the day. How they did it is an idea every program in America should copy.
The Gamecocks utilized the services of Exposure.so to create GamecocksOnline.Exposure.so. It's a beautiful page but, best of all, it's a beautiful page that wasn't very hard to create. Big headlines, a few lines of text, and gorgeous photos like this.
The best part, though, is the price. This page cost South Carolina a subscription of just $99 a year or $9 a month. If you've got a coach, staff member or parent with a decent camera and workable knowledge of the Internet within your program - believe me, you all do - you can create something just like this in less than an hour. The applications are endless. Document a spring game or a game weekend and use it for recruiting, for fundraising, for goodwill with parents. Every program in America - FBS to pee wee - can borrow this idea.
I've embedded their tutorial below.
Trust us, this isn't an advertisement. Far from it. They've never given us a dime and, in fact, we'd never even heard of Exposure.so until today. We just want to get the word out about good ideas, and if anyone has a similar service they'd like to share, please let us know and we'll get the word out.