Video: Step inside one of the premier programs in FCS
The folks in Huntsville, Texas, are wearing orange and blue smiles around town these days. For the fourth time in school history, Sam Houston State claimed the Southland Conference's Commissioner's Cup as the league's top program for the 2012-13 athletic year.
“This is a huge accomplishment for our department,” Williams said. “The goal every season is to be the top program in the Southland. Across the board, every team had great performances on the field and this truly is a department award.”
The Bearkats won a total of four conference titles and placed among the Southland's top three in 11 different sports. While all sports are succeeding at Sam Houston State, the football team has clearly been the flagship of the Bearkats' armada.
Willie Fritz's squad has compiled a 25-5 record over the past two seasons, claiming back-to-back Southland titles and appearing in the school's first FCS National Championship games. In fact, over the past two campaigns, Sam Houston State has lost to only one FCS opponent not named North Dakota State, with 11 of their 25 victories coming by 30 points or more.
As Sam Houston State rings in its terrific year, the folks at Blackwater Media talked to some of the principles of the Bearkats' program to find the keys to their success.
San Jose State is aiming for a $38 million stadium renovation
Later today the California State University board of trustees is expected to voted on a proposed $38 million renovation of Spartan Stadium to help bring facilities up to par with the Mountain West.
The price tag, which is actually listed at about $38,577,000, is expected to paid mostly through private donations and half of the funds have already been raised, according to the Mercury News.
The project, which will be named the Vermeil-Walsh Athletic Complex, includes a new 61,000-square foot building in the north end zone that will house new locker rooms, coaching offices, meeting rooms, and a hall of fame. The facility will also house athletic training space and an auditorium.
If approved, the plan calls for 1,700 seats would be removed from the north end zone and 1,350 premium seats would be added in their place along with a new entry plaza and ticket windows on the west side of the stadium.
As with any program, the long term success depends on attracting the right coaches and recruits, and if this renovation plans passes $38 million will go a long way to put San Jose State on the right track to prolonged success. New head coach Ron Carragher and his staff have to be excited about their future in the new look Mountain West Conference.
Update: The plan was approved on Tuesday afternoon. Thanks to the San Jose Mercury-News, some (admittedly small) renderings can be seen below.
Brian Kelly: 'I'm always about the player over the play'
As Notre Dame closed spring ball last month, Fighting Irish head coach held a town hall meeting, which just so happened to be broadcast nationally on Sirius/XM radio. Such is life as the Notre Dame head coach. But beyond that, Fighting Irish fans got a chance to pick the brain of their favorite head coach, and one fan asked Kelly how he balances coaching to his roster versus coaching from his playbook.
"I'm always about the player over the play," Kelly said. "I've never been hung up on, 'Well I've got to run this play because I've always run this play.' If I've got Tim Brown, he's not going to go block the safety every down. I'm going to get him the ball."
Evidence of that can be seen in the way the Notre Dame offense changed with the insertion of sophomore quarterback Everett Golson into the starting lineup. Golson threw for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns and added 298 rushing yards and six scores, one of four rushers near or above the 300 yard mark, helping the Fighting Irish boost their rushing totals by more than 30 yards per game over last season.
"To answer your question, I've got enough of a library and enough experience that we're always going to set the offense to those playmakers. I think that's important in college football. These guys graduate and they leave, you've got new guys and we're not going to do what we did with Tyler Eifert. We're going to do some different things that are going to feature some other players. You've got a sense of what you want to do offensively and it always starts with the quarterback, and then the featuring of particular players is more important to me than any one particular play."
As tight end Eifert and running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood prepare for life after South Bend, expect the 2013 incarnation of the Fighting Irish offense to look as different from last season as the 2012 group did from 2011. As Kelly noted, adjusting your play calls to your playmakers certainly becomes a bit easier when you've got nearly a quarter century of head coaching experience.
Classy move by Central Michigan's Dan Enos and his staff
Every once in a while something happens in the realm of college football that makes us all realize that football is just a game in the big picture of life.
One of those moments came recently when Carrollton HS (MI) running back, and Central Michigan commit, Derrick Nash went to the doctor thinking he had the flu, or worst case scenario maybe a bout of mono.
Turns out the fatigue and nausea were effects from something far worse. Nash was ultimately diagnosed with leukemia. The diagnosis means that he won't be able to attend his senior prom, or walk across the stage for graduation, but one thing that will still be there for him is his scholarship offer to play for Dan Enos and his staff at Central Michigan.
"Sometimes when you think you have everything planned, God throws in a detour," Enos told MLive.com. “He’s going to come out of this stronger. He’s going to come out of this tougher.”
“One of the first things we told him was that he was going to play football again and that he was going to play for CMU. Keeping him on scholarship was a no-brainer. It’s the right thing to do. That’s the philosophy from the president through the athletic director to the coaches. You do the right thing.”
Chemotherapy treatments will keep Nash out of football for this season, but he expects to receive a medical redshirt and prepare working for the 2014 season as soon as he's able.
"There is a reason you go through tough things," Enos added. “I can’t wait until he can run onto our field before a game wearing a CMU uniform. That’ll be a great moment for a lot of people.”
Props to coach Enos and the Central Michigan staff for doing the right thing and keeping the player's best interest in mind.
Wisconsin offensive line coach TJ Woods mic'd up
When you think of Wisconsin football, one of the first things that likely comes to mind is the towering, massive offensive lineman that pave the way for the dominant running game.
TJ Woods is the new man in charge of those guys up in Madison, and last year his offensive line at Utah State helped pave the way for new school records for total offense (6,108 yards), and total points (454), easily eclipsing the mark that they had set in 2011. Also, two of his offensive lineman were named first team all conference, something that hadn't happened since 1996. Behind that unit, the Aggies were one of the most balanced teams in the country, and were one of only 19 teams in the country to average 200 yards rushing and passing last season.
It's clear to see why Gary Andersen wanted Woods to join him at Wisconsin. Woods approaches practice with a passion and is extremely knowledgeable, and those traits demand the attention and respect of his players.
Mark Dantonio has four goals in mind for each Michigan State player
Mike Griffith of MLive.com provided a great look Monday on how Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio builds his program through recruiting as the latest in a four-part series taking stock of the Spartans' program.
To say Dantonio takes a business-like approach to recruiting wouldn't be an analogy. It's literally how he does it; Dantonio looks at each Spartan as an investment.
"I talk to our players every day, whether a recruit or already in the program, inevitably, I'll say `you are an investment, and we're going to help our investment grow,''' Dantonio said.
Dantonio asks each recruit to give him a personal mission statement, and if his goals match that of his program's (shown below), then that player becomes a serious candidate to play for Michigan State.
I Lifelong relationship with players, coaches staff and team
II Graduate all players with a meaningful degree from MSU and launch their career, become self sufficient men
III Win…success! Bowl games/Big Ten championship, BCS game, Rose Bowl, or national championships
IV Positive impact on our university, alumni, community, state, NCAA football world, the entire world and prepare to be self-sufficient men and responsible citizens
Read the full article here.
Video: 'Everything we do today has got to be fast'
You'll have to excuse Mike Bellamy if he's a little dizzy. You would be too if you'd partaken in Bellamy's rapid ride up the career ladder.
After a playing career that took him through the NFL and NFL Europe ended in 1996, Bellamy left the game of football to, as his Illinois bio puts it, help his wife, Tanya, build a successful beauty-industry business in Atlanta. He jumped back into coaching at Sprayberry High School in the Atlanta area, where he coached wide receivers and specialists while serving as the passing game coordinator from 2008-10. A year later, he was the wide receivers and specialists coach at Clark - Atlanta University. A year after that, Tim Beckman called Bellamy back to his alma mater to serve as the Fighting Illini's assistant director of player personnel and relations.
When Billy Gonzales left Champaign for Mississippi State, Beckman tabbed Bellamy, a former All-Big Ten wideout and All-American returner at Illinois, to lead the current flock of Fighting Illini wide receivers.
Illinois' cameras tracked Bellamy during his first spring on an FBS campus with whistle in hand.
Ferentz: 'Coaching is like golf...'
Iowa's Kirk Ferentz recently opened up to the Des Moines Register's Bryce Miller in a very well done interview covering much more than football. Interestingly enough, Feretnz was asked if there was ever a moment where he had things figured out in the coaching profession.
Keep in mind, this is a coach that has had the opportunity to learn under legends like Hayden Fry and Bill Belichick, and is also the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten by a long shot. Ferentz made his point by saying that the coaching profession is a lot like golf.
"It's like golf. You learn that you never have it figured out. It just doesn't allow you to ever feel content, or feel like, 'Boy, we've got this thing wired.' Because you never do."
That is an excellent analogy.
Take a look at the full interview here, including the one moment where Ferentz doubted that they'd ever get things turned around, as well as how he celebrates after a win (spoiler alert: Ben and Jerry's ice cream plays a major role) and the state of the coaching profession in today's world of college football.