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Clemson: "We're the total package"
Photos: Washington's new unis
D-II version of "Evolution of Dance"

Houston Nutt creates player-partner program to stress accountability

To stress accountability during the off-season, Houston Nutt implemented a player-partner program.

A large “circle of champions” sign hands in the Ole Miss indoor practice facility.

From the inside moving out, the targets illustrates “Everyone Starts Here” (bullseye), Circle of Untrustables, and the “Circle of the Uncommitted.”

Nutt explained to The Clarion Ledger, “So when we got back we said that everybody’s going to pick a partner. And if your partner doesn’t go to class, you both run. One of you oversleeps? Both of you overslept. And both of you have got to pay a penalty. And so you get so many penalties and you start, you get outside — you don’t want to be outside the blue. What I’m excited about, with 121 right now, I think we’ve got four names up there.”

“It’s real simple. You do what’s right. You don’t? There’s a penalty, and it’s costly. Every morning at 5:30, and you’re welcome to come, at 5:30 every Friday, all penalties will be — you have to pay your penalty.”  See a photo of the sign, right here.

Ole Miss finished their second day of practice on Tuesday.  It was the second practice with new assistant coaches David Lee (offensive coordinator / quarterbacks) Keith Burns (corners), Gunter Brewer (wide receivers / passing game coordinator / associate head coach).

George O'Leary explains denial of scholarship release

If you hadn’t heard, 4-star quarterback DaMarcus Smith has asked UCF head coach George O’Leary for his scholarship release before ever arriving on campus.

Smith, who attended Seneca HS in Louisville, seems to think he made the wrong choice by not signing with the hometown Louisville Cardinals.

Today, George O’Leary denied Smith’s request.

O’Leary said, “To me, you spend a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of hours recruiting a kid. I think the big thing is you sign a legal document and that’s what it is – a legal document."

"I’ve never in all my coaching given a release to an NLI and I’m not about to start. And he knew that. I told him that. Again, that’s why they have such a stiff penalty for people that don’t fulfill the NLI.”


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Niumatalolo drops 10 coaching cliches in 26 seconds

Navy began Spring practice yesterday in chilly temperatures in Annapolis.

Courtesy of the behind-the-scenes video, we heard Ken Niumatalolo tell the them, “As I think about our team for Spring, this a great opportunity for some of you to either change your stock or perception that a coach has for you.  You have 15 days.  This is where we set the tone for our 2011 season.”

In his 26-second post-practice comments, Niumatalolo was able to drop 10 coaching clichés.

He said, “We just completed day 1 of our spring ball.  We are trying to establish the culture of Navy football and the way we play. (1)  I thought it was a start…a good start (2). It’s only one step (3), we have a long ways to go. (4) I am excited about our young men. (5)  Coach Bras did a great job with our strength staff in getting our guys ready for Spring ball (6).  There was great energy (7) and great enthusiasm out here (8).  I liked we saw on day 1 (9), but we have 14 more to go (10).”

Translation...Navy is already working on Lincoln Riley's offensive scheme.

Yesterday marked the first day of practice for new wide receivers coach Mick Yokitis, who previously served as the head coach of the Naval Academy Prep School.  Danny O’Rourke moved from wide receivers to slot backs.  He replaced Joe DuPaix, who accepted the running backs / recruiting coordinator job at BYU.

Navy opens against Delaware before traveling to Western Kentucky and South Carolina.

Video: Al Golden and staff planting a virus on Canes

It’s hard not to get on board with Al Golden, in part to the excellent marketing that CanesAllAccess is providing.  If you didn’t know much about Golden before coming to Miami (FL), now you can see why the Hurricanes hired the former Temple head coach.

Golden is focusing on changing the culture.  In his words, “We’re trying to plant a virus on this team.”

In the latest behind-the-scenes, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch says, “When we step on the football field, we step on the field looking to dominate.  It starts with the running backs.”

The coaching staff is making sure the players buy in to Golden’s ball security philosophy.

Running backs coach Terry Richardson says, “Just because a guy is talented, there is still a lot of fundamental work and technique that need to go on.  Those are the things that can take a talented kid to a whole different level.”

Golden says, “Talent is not going to be enough.   I think the kids have put their egos aside and have opened their hearts and minds and are listening now to what we are telling that.  You cannot win a championship when you are 119 in the country in turnovers.  It just does not happen.  It’s too much to overcome.  So we are focusing on the ball.  We are focusing on ball security.  As you saw yesterday, if a kid fumbles the ball or creates a penalty, he’s going on the other field for a little venture.”

“It’s like a virus.  In fact, if you read Malcolm Gladwell’s work, The Tipping Point, it all starts with a virus.  All you need is a couple of guys to start to do it and you can get a virus.  We’re trying to plant a virus on this team, change the culture.”

Due yourself a favor, watch the latest behind-the-scenes.


Holgorsen to chill out in Morgantown on Thursday nights

Dana Holgorsen lived in a hotel his entire time in Stillwater and still lives in a hotel in Morgantown.

Holgorsen told the Charleston Daily Mail, "It's just easy. Convenience is a part of what I do. It makes sense. A lot of stuff that doesn't make sense is inconvenient. I try to live like that. That makes sense to me."

He then compared it to coaching offense.

"That's my approach offensively as far as just making sense of things," Holgorsen explained. "Life's hard. If you make it harder, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Last season, word circulated that Holgorsen would leave Stillwater on most Thursday nights and chill out in Tulsa, a bigger city.

Holgorsen explained, "Thursday, when practice is over, that's when you have to shut it down a little bit. There isn't a whole lot you can do after that. Thursday night is the night coaches go home and get away from things for a little while.”

“That's why I would go to Tulsa every Thursday night when I lived in Stillwater. When I lived in Houston, there was all kinds of stuff you could do to disappear and get your mind away from football."

Holgorsen admits he’ll be sticking around Morgantown this year on Thursday nights.

"There's enough to do here," he said. "You're going to have plenty of coaches around. We may go to someone's house to watch football and be a fan and have a cookout. It's just about getting away from the office and getting your mind off of it because there's just not a lot you can do at that point."

There's much more from Mike Casazza's article about Holgorsen's simple way of life.  It's a good read.

West Virginia starts Spring practice this week.  The Moutaineers open against Marshall, Norfolk State, and at Maryland.

Warning defensive staff: Paul Johnson talks about the bottom line

Paul Johnson began his third Spring practice on Monday at Georgia Tech.  After winning the ACC title in his first season, the Yellow Jackets fell to 6-7 in 2010.

So Coach Johnson, do you have set goals for spring practice, maybe things you’ve written down that you want to get down?

Johnson said prior to yesterday’s practice, “I’m not a big guy to write things down.  I know what I want to get done.  I don’t keep a list in my desk drawer or anything.”

“You want to get better every day you go out there.  Like I said, we have things we’ve got to cleaned up.  Ball security on offense is one, return game in special teams is one, we gotta tackle better and play better on defense.  It’s not that complicated.  And I’ve said since we’ve been here we need to throw the ball more efficiently.”

The good thing about yesterday is that Johnson didn’t put any pressure on defensive coordinator Al Groh.  (please sense our sarcasm)

"I would hope that we would be more efficient and play better (on defense). If you look at the stats from two years ago to last year, there really wasn't a lot of difference. We probably had a few less turnovers last year and gave up a few less big plays. But the total yardage, points per game, all that was pretty much right in line with where we had been. You hope that in the second year (of the 3-4) there is a little more familiarity. The bottom line is winning and losing the game is determined on how many points you give up. That is the bottom line."

Georgia Tech opens with three non-conference games against Western Carolina, at MTSU, and Kansas.

The Yellow Jackets get North Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech all at home in Bobby Dodd Stadium.  All three teams will have a new quarterback under center this Fall.

Quick Hits: Bronco, Dave Brandon, Cut, Willie-T, Dan Disch

Bronco Mendenhall is looking forward to coordinating the BYU defense again: "I am (excited), just because it allows me to work more intimately with at least a portion of our players. I get to see a lot of players on a daily basis, usually handling things that they're struggling with or providing counseling or support.”

“What I really enjoyed last year was having the chance to actually be able to instruct and teach again. I love to teach, and one of the things that directed me toward being a coach is that I love the teaching. Coaching is nothing but teaching and teaching is service-oriented. That's based on love and caring for whomever you're teaching and have stewardship over."


Wyoming offensive coordinator Dave Brandon talks about meshing with Dave Christiansen’s offensive philosophy: "Now, basically, the offense we ran at Bowling Green, Dave's running here. It'll be fun to get that cranking again."

"We're not far off.  We're going to need a quarterback, but there are some very skilled players. We've got more speed, the offensive line is getting bigger and stronger. The kids understand the system, the coaches have been in it ... so I think that's all positive."


David Cutcliffe says Duke will be “younger” : "I don't know how we found a way to do it, but we're younger than we were last year."


Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart talks about offensive coordinator / wide receiver coach Zach Azzanni’s role: "(Azzanni) knew coming in that we were going to run our offense, but we wanted to enhance it. I'm all for new suggestions and doing things new ways, but one thing I didn't want is for our guys to have a lot of new learning. I wanted them to continue getting better. He's bought into it."


Southern Miss defensive coordinator Dan Disch says his defense has been average at picking up the new system: "It's a matter of keeping focused and trying to improve. I think they've done a pretty good job of picking it up. We've thrown a lot at them. I think they're enjoying trying to do a lot of different things. I'd give them a C+ or a B- on picking it up. We've only had five or six practices and we've still got seven or eight to go. If they can improve from this point forward, it'll be a successful spring."

Shocker: Jeff Tedford once again calling plays at Cal

Coming off a disappointing 5-7 season, Cal head coach Jeff Tedford has made the decision to take over the offense and play-calling once again.

In 2010, the Cal offense finished 90th in total offense and 73rd in scoring offense.  Tedford, who had led Cal to seven consecutive bowl appearances before the 2010 season, decided to make a couple of staff changes during this off-season.  

The offensive staff now features three new coaches.  Former Oakland Raiders offensive line coach Jim Michalczik will serve as the offensive coordinator / offensive line coach.  Former Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau will serve as the wide receivers coach / passing game coordinator and former Wyoming offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo will coach the quarterbacks.

Spring practice starts today for the Bears.

Tedford told the San Francisco Chronicle, "We're going to take a different approach this spring. Our philosophy has always been to put in everything (offensively) in spring. To evaluate the quarterbacks properly, to see if physically they can play, we need to keep it fairly basic and let them play, so they're not locked up by the paralysis of overanalyzing everything."

As for the play-calling, Tedford said, "I did it the first three or four years here, then went back and forth. You've got to be all in or out, one of the two. There's got to be a role you play. You get to set things up, have a good feel for things."

Cal will open the season with Fresno State.  The Bears then travel to Colorado before hosting Presbyterian College.

With the renovation to Memorial Stadium, Cal will play 5 home games at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.