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ESPN sets killer Thursday night schedule, but here comes the NFL

If you are reading this site, chances are that Thursday nights in the fall mean one thing to you…the start of the college football weekend.  In fact, as of today, only sixty-three days remain until the first Thursday night primetime game of 2011 on ESPN, UNLV at Wisconsin.

Let’s be honest, ESPN could broadcast Bowling Green at Idaho.  You would still watch it.

For years, college football has stolen the spotlight of sports entertainment on Thursday nights in the fall.  However, here comes the NFL, which is proposing a new eight-game early season Thursday night schedule.

According to the LA Times, “The new eight-game package would be for the first half of the season. The NFL's own cable channel, the NFL Network, already has an eight-game schedule for the second half. Besides the NFL Network, other potential bidders include Comcast Corp., which owns the sports channel Versus; Turner Broadcasting, which owns TNT and other channels that could carry games; and News Corp., parent of Fox and the cable channel FX.”

Early season NFL Thursday night games could start as early as the 2012 season.

In the meantime, let’s look forward to the 2011 college Thursday night primetime schedule.  It's a great schedule. 

  September 1- UNLV at Wisconsin 
  September 8- Arizona at Oklahoma State 
  September 15- LSU at Mississippi State 
  September 22- North Carolina State at Cincinnati 
  September 29- South Florida at Pittsburgh 
  October 6- California at Oregon 
  October 13- USC at California 
  October 20- UCLA at Arizona 
  October 27- Virginia at Miami (FL) 
  November 3- Florida State at Boston College 
  November 10- Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech 
  November 17- North Carolina at Virginia Tech 
  November 24- Texas at Texas A&M 7PM (Thanksgiving)
  December 1- West Virginia at South Florida 

 




As only Jon Gruden can...

Seriously, is there anyone out there with the ability to focus on the positives (when there are few, if any to talk about) as Jon Gruden can?

Gruden shared his thoughts about Terrell Pryor on the Scott Van Pelt Show this afternoon on ESPN Radio.

Here are Gruden’s comments:

“You can’t deny the fact that this guy has very rare physical size and strength to play football, whether it be quarterback, receiver, or some creative role at the next level.”

“There is something for Terrell Pryor to do, that’s all I’m saying.”

“He is a premier game day competitor.  I do know this…I’d find something for Terrell Pryor to do.  I don’t know about being a return guy.  I do think if you watch the Fiesta Bowl his freshman year, you see him stand out there at wide receivers against Texas, Beckman throws a fade streak in the end zone, and he jumps up and takes it away like he’s stealing from a child.”

“I’ve seen him stiff are defensive ends.”

Gruden did bring up the fact that NY Jets head coach Rex Ryan effectively utilizes Brad Scott, a former college quarteback at Missouri.

“He could be an outstanding receiver with the size and strength advantage much like Calvin Johnson in Detroit.  There are not many athletes like this that I’ve worked out.  Go on YouTube and watch him on the high school basketball court.  When I stood on the sidelines at the Rose Bowl, I thought he was Julius Peppers.”

“I do think somebody is going to pull the trigger and acquire the rights to someone they can use.”

“I see a big guy that has won a lot of games.  If you ask me, someone is going to find something for Terrell Pryor to do.”

Translation…Gruden wouldn’t touch Pryor as a quarterback.

 




Jon Embree says Colorado players have changed habits

It’s only sixty-six days until Jon Embree will lead the Colorado Buffaloes against Hawaii in his first game as a head coach.

Embree has already declared the opener at Hawaii as a “brick game,” a tradition started by former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney, but discontinued by Dan Hawkins.

A win…and the Buffs will have a new gold brick outside the locker room signifying one of the bigger wins in program history.

Embree said yesterday at the Colorado Football Kickoff Luncheon, “We've accomplished some great things here. We've won a national championship, we've played in some of the biggest games in college football history. They (our players) need to know that, they need to understand what they're a part of."

Despite losing a number of players from the roster in the off-season, Embree is optimistic about 2011 and beyond.

He explained, "Because I know me. I know my coaching staff. I believe in those players . . . that they've made unbelievable changes in their habits off the field, the fact that every guy is there this summer working out. I don't think that guarantees anything, but it gives you a chance."

According to Embree, twenty-four players were under a 2.0 GPA when he inherited the program.  After starting a 6:45 am study table, only two players on the team finished the spring semester below a "C" average.  

That's a start, but the progress the Buffalo supporters want to see is on the field.

Embree and his new coaching staff open at Hawaii, but return to Boulder in week #2 to host Cal.  




Iowa State getting a "big boy" video board

Before the start of the 2011 season, Iowa State will have a brand new, massive video board and speaker system in the North end zone.

The construction is well underway and evident by the video below, this is a “big boy” display that will certainly enhance the fan’s experience at Jack Trice Stadium.

In fact, the entire display weighs 67,050 pounds.  The high-definition screen measures 36 feet high and 79.5 feet wide.  Iowa State contracted with Daktronics for the project.

Iowa State opens the season by hosting Northern Iowa.  A week later, the Cyclones will host in-state rival Iowa.  Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, and Oklahoma State will all make trips to Ames this season, as well.

Jack Trice Stadium holds a capacity of 55,000.

videoboard

 




4th down: Which coaches are 'going for it'

One of the great early season games in 2011 will be the matchup between LSU and Oregon at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.  ESPN’s College Gameday will be on hand.  Amazingly, LSU sold out their allotment of 37,000 tickets.  Oregon sold 15,000 tickets, as well.

The game will feature Les Miles, who led the nation is fourth down conversion percentage a year ago.  Meanwhile, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly attempted the second most fourth down attempts a year ago.  The Ducks “went for it” a total of 34 times during their run to the national championship game.

July 4th is right around the corner, so let’s take a look at some fourth down statistics.

In 2010, seven head coaches “went for it” on fourth down more than thirty times.

  1. Paul Johnson - Georgia Tech (40)
  2. Chip Kelly - Oregon (34)
  3. Todd Berry - ULM (33)
  4. Urban Meyer - Florida (33)
  5. Lane Kiffin - USC (32)
  6. Bill Cubit - Western Michigan (30)
  7. Troy Calhoun - Air Force (30)

Six coaches “went for it” on fourth down less than ten times.

  1. Steve Spurrier – South Carolina (6)
  2. Frank Spaziani – Boston College (6)
  3. Larry Porter – Memphis (7)
  4. Skip Holtz – USF (8)
  5. Gene Chizik – Auburn (9)
  6. Al Golden – Temple (9)

Seven head coaches watched their teams convert more than 75% of fourth down attempts.

  1. Les (91%)
  2. The Zooker (81%)
  3. The Vest (80%)
  4. Bielema (80%)
  5. Dan Mullen (78%)
  6. Ruffin McNeill (75%)
  7. Chris Ault (75%)




SEC proposes 7 recruiting rule changes

The SEC is proposing at least seven recruiting rule changes that would certainly alleviate some of the stress that coaches endure.  CBS obtained a copy of the letter that outlines the potential rule changes that may or may not be adopted by the NCAA.

The SEC is trying to be proactive, hoping many of the rules will become part of NCAA bylaws that govern all of college football.

It is obvious by reading the amendments listed, coaches are fed up with the ability of the media to portray any particular assistant or head coach in negative fashion for an accidental mistake.  Sadly, newspaper or internet headlines can shine negatively on a coach who returns a text message from an unknown number with a simple, “Thanks.  We played well.  I appreciate the text.”

Here are the rules that the SEC is proposing:

1. Coaches would like to text message recruits instead of being limited to only email and Facebook messaging.

2. Coaches would like an earlier date for the first off-campus contact with recruits.

3. Coaches would like to the ability to accept Twitter follower and Facebook friend requests without the knowledge of compliance.

4. Coaches would like to any staff member to be allowed to answer any phone call from a recruit, recruit’s parent, or recruit’s coach.

5. Coaches would like for the elimination of the “bump rule.”  Essentially, coaches would like to be able to talk with recruits off-campus during spring recruiting.

6. Coaches are interested in a summer official visit date.

7. The SEC will propose a NCAA mandated banning of 7-on-7 competitions on any college campus.




Big Ten coaches octagon cage match: Who ya got?

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell appeared on the Dan Patrick Show this morning.  As usual on the Dan Patrick Show, the interview involved some humorous questions and responses.

First of all, serious props to Fickell for checking in to the show via typical and appropriate procedure.

Fickell greeted, “Hi, Dan.  How are you?  Oh, by the way, 6’4 242 this morning.”

The best part came later on when Patrick asked, “If I put all the Big Ten coaches in an octagon, who is coming out?”

Fickell responded, “Me.”

He added, “I know my ability.  I’ve got confidence in what I do.  18 years of wrestling probably does help a little bit in my book.”

In a Big Ten head coaches cage match, who would your money be on?  Let us know on twitter @footballscoop

  Luke “Bust Yo Eye” Fickell.
  Pat “51 fists” Fitzgerald.
  Ron “The People’s Champ” Zook.
  Brady “Hail” Hoke.
  Bo “Husker” Pelini.
  Bret “Tequilla” Bielema.
  Kirk “The Hawkeye” Ferentz.
  Mark “You Don’t Know” Dantonio.
  Kevin “Hoosier Daddy” Wilson.
  Danny “The Boiler” Hope.
  Jerry “I Will” Kill.
  Joe “The Eldest Lion” Paterno.
cage



Louisville DFO: I'm sure some are thinking 'What is that moron doing?'

Last week, Kentucky director of football operations Clifford Snow accepted the same position under Charlie Strong at Louisville.

On the outside, it may appear to be a strange move.  Not many people choose to leave an SEC program for one in the Big East.

Snow, however, had worked with Charlie Strong for four seasons at South Carolina.

Snow told Kentucky Sports TV, “I’m sure there are fans who are thinking, ‘What is that moron doing? How could you leave Kentucky for Louisville and go from the SEC to the Big East.' But the reality of the business is you’ve got to look at the big picture. Two good programs, two good coaches; two coaches you know and are familiar with.”

“There’s only one director of football operations at each school, so opportunities to move are limited. You don’t really get to dictate when you can do that. When the Louisville job arose, it something I had to take a look at and I ultimately decided it was better to make a change at this point.”

“It was something my wife and I felt was in the best interest for me career-wise. I felt really bad because Joker gave me a chance, and it was a great one-and-a-half years. It was just something I believed I needed to do.”

Before joining Joker’s staff in February of 2010, Snow served as the DFO under Skip Holtz at East Carolina for six seasons.

Kentucky hosts Louisville in week #3.