After the stunning departure of Bret Bielema for Arkansas, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez quickly inserted himself as the Badgers' figurehead head coach for the Rose Bowl.
"I don't want this to be about me," Alvarez said at the time. "I want this to be about the players. I want to give them as good an opportunity to win the Rose Bowl as we possibly can."
The university announced today that the College Football Hall of Fame coach, three Rose Bowls while patrolling the sidelines for Wisconsin, will be paid $118,500 for his month-long return to coaching. In sum, Alvarez will make $203,500 this month: $195,000 for his coaching duties (90 percent of Bielema's monthly salary) and $8,500 for his athletic director duties. The $203,500 figure represents a $118,500 increase from Alvarez's regular athletic director salary. He can earn an additional $50,000 if the Badgers defeat Stanford on Jan. 1. The money for Alvarez's bump in pay is generated from Bielema's $1 million buyout.
"We weighed the factors involved, including the unique circumstances that developed less than a month before the game, the challenges of the job, the marketplace and his strength as a coach and concluded that this is a reasonable arrangement," said Wisconsin Board President Brent Smith.
In other coaching bonus news, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com reported today that recently departed Northern Illinois coach will miss out on a $100,000 bonus for leading Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl. Don't shed a tear for Doeren, though, as he received a raise from $400,000 to $1.8 million in leaving for N.C. State.
Nick Saban is in line for the biggest bonus of all BCS-bound coaches. The Crimson Tide head coach could make $400,000 with a win over Notre Dame. Louisville's Charlie Strong will receive a total of $291,667 for leading the Cardinals to the Sugar Bowl. Will Muschamp is due a bonus of $100,000, while Chip Kelly will get $50,000, Bill Snyder will receive $40,000 and Jimbo Fisher will earn $20,000. Fisher will root for major rankings chaos to benefit is 12th-ranked Seminoles, as he could earn an extra $100,000 if Florida State finishes in the top 5.
The contracts for Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Stanford's David Shaw are not public.
Chip Kelly was asked at his Tuesday press briefing if he expects Stanford to try to sit on the ball to keep the Ducks' offense off the field.
Kelly cracked a smile, paused about three seconds and responded, half chuckling, "I have no idea."
His tone and reaction indicate that a ball-control offense is a tactic he has seen, and defeated, close to 50 times in his tenure at Oregon.
Kelly then referenced Oregon's game with UCLA in 2010, a game in which the Ducks ran 73 plays to the Bruins' 70, and yet UCLA's offense stayed on the field for 38 and a half minutes, 17 minutes longer than Oregon (the numbers Kelly cited were slightly off). And the Ducks won 60-13.
"We've lost time of possession in maybe every game we've played," Kelly continued. "Time of possession means absolutely nothing to this operation. We were last in the nation last year in time of possession."
Thanks to Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard for the video.
Memorial Stadium has not been a safe place for Oregon to play during Chip Kelly's tenure. California handed the Ducks a rare conference loss in 2008 and nearly did again in 2010 when Oregon escaped with a 15-13 win.
Saturday night appeared headed in the same direction as the Golden Bears moved the ball on a depleted Oregon defense. The Ducks played without a host of starters on its defensive front, at times playing a lineup comprised almost entirely of true freshmen.
California pulled within 24-17 five minutes into the second half, but Oregon's youth carried the day. The defense shutout California for the rest of the night and redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes over a 10 minute span to put the game out of reach. Oregon 59, California 17.
While the final score may have indicated a typical night for Oregon, the route used to get there was very atypical, especially on defense.
"I'd say it was a very gratifying win," said Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. "I don't believe any of our starting defensive linemen except for Taylor Hart played. We played with a lot of young guys and a lot of guys that played on our scout team. There were some tough times there but they pulled it out.
"It's very gratifying because in the grand scheme of things I thought those kids did an outstanding job," Aliotti continued. "They scored 17 points, we got three turnovers and our offense continues to be incredible."
Anyone who has watched Oregon play this season knows there's much more to the Ducks than a flashy offense, and the depth displayed on Saturday further illustrates that point.
"You can't worry about it.," Alotti said when asked what he thought when the injuries began mounting. "There's no waiver wire. The next guy in has to step up and play."
Oregon will put Saturday's lessons to immediate use as the powerful rushing attack of Stanford is next on the schedule.
Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com reported Friday that, according to former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti, it is "inevitable" that Kelly will one day jump from Oregon to a head coaching position in the NFL.
As we know, last year Kelly accepted the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before changing his mind and staying at Oregon.
“It's just inevitable that he will eventually be in the NFL,” Bellotti said. “Chip is one of the ultimate competitors and he sees that. It actually surprised me he changed his mind [with the Bucs] last year."
Dodd also spoke with an anonymous source who stated, "There are nine chances in 10 if he wins out [this season] he's gone."
Kelly took over for Bellotti in 2009 after Bellotti to a dozen bowl games in 14 years as the Ducks head coach. Bellotti hired Kelly away from New Hampshire to serve as the Ducks' offensive coordinator for the final two seasons of Bellotti's tenure before Kelly was promoted to head coach after Bellotti's retirement. In his fourth season at the helm, Kelly is 43-6 at Oregon while closing in on his fourth conference championship with hopes of appearing in his second BCS National Championship.
When asked if Oregon could keep Kelly out of the NFL again, Dodd's source had this to say: "I don't think so. I wish we could. He's a friend. I want him to be happy. I would like to think he's got the best college football job in America. He clearly has all the tools that one could ever need.”
Or, as Bellotti put it, “Once you get to the top of the mountain, there's one other mountain for him to climb."
Every college head coach has their own way of dealing with commitments from recruits. Some coaches allow recruits (who have already committed to them) to still go on their other official visits, while many other programs have a no visit policy in effect after a commitment is made.
Lane Kiffin is one of the coaches who still allow commits to visit other schools.
"I don't discourage it at all. I have a rare stance on it. I just think some of these kids never have an opportunity like that. To fly around the country and visit different places and meet new people whether it's other recruits or other coaches." Kiffin explained.
"I let our kids go visit all over the place, our commits. I know that's rare nowadays. I don't think it's my job, I don't think I'm in a position to be limiting kids' abilities to take free trips around the country and see different parts of the country and meet new people."
Chip Kelly on the other hand, views a commitment in a very different light.
"We talk to our guys about what a commitment is. We're going to make a commitment to you it's the same thing as us not pulling a scholarship when you make a commitment to us" Kelly said. "There's got to be a two-way street. I think our players understand what being committed means here."
Although their views are polar opposites, both coaches and their staffs manage to bring in some of the top talent in the country on a consistent basis. There's no doubt it helps to have a clear and consistent message from top to bottom.
For Rich Rodriguez, recognizing the difference between interest and commitment is something that him and his staff have recently zeroed in on.
"When a guy wants to commit to us we make sure that he understands what that means. If you have a guy who's committed to you but he's making a bunch of visits to other places you wonder if he's truly committed or just interested. That's the key for us."
"If a guy is taking it to have fun and he tells you that up front that's one thing but if they're taking the visit they must have some kind of interest in another school and that puts you in a tough situation because you may have dropped some other guys or moved off some other guys and then all of a sudden you lose this guy in the end."
At Arizona, the staff understands that if a recruit is going to continue to take his visits, don't be surprised if he de-commits. It all goes back to recognizing that difference between interest and commitment.
"If a guy is committed to you and he's visiting other places and all of a sudden he changes his commitment or something like that, I don't know why a coach would be surprised because he's visiting other schools so there aren't as many surprises as you'd think."
We understand that every level of college recruiting is very different. But each of those coaches (Lane Kiffin, Chip Kelly, and Rich Rodriguez) have helped sign a top ten recruiting class at some point in the coaching careers, and have all done it with very different approaches. The lesson is to find something specific to your level of football, and making it something that you all can buy into as a staff. At the end of the day you'll start to see the results of a consistent message.
In leading Kansas State to its third road victory over a ranked team this season, Kansas State cemented itself as a true contender for the school's first national championship after a 55-14 demolition of West Virginia. 'Cats quarterback Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns against just two incompletions, while the Kansas State defense forced WVU quarterback Geno Smith into his first interception in 273 attempts, and then picked him off again six throws later. Snyder's team held West Virginia to season-lows of 243 yards of total offense and 3.9 yards per play. In fact, each team ran 62 plays but Kansas State accounted for nearly twice as many yards and held the ball for almost seven minutes longer than West Virginia.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Louisiana Tech: Plenty of other offenses faced stiffer competition on Saturday, but Louisiana Tech's offense was so productive that we couldn't ignore the Bulldogs in good consience. In garnering 56 points and 582 yards in the first half, Louisiana Tech produced in two quarters what many teams consider a good two weeks. The Bulldogs set a school record with 70 points, a total that Sonny Dykes' team reached with 19 minutes still to play. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's group became the first FBS team to top 400 yards on the ground and through the air this season. In 95 snaps, Louisiana Tech gained 839 yards (a school record and the most by an FBS team this season) while achieving 8.8 yards per play and 39 first downs. Louisiana Tech has topped 40 games in every game this season and been held under 50 just once through seven games. Louisiana Tech sports information director Patrick Walsh summed up the night perfectly in our Tweet of the Day:
Next year's media guide will not have an offensive record book, just the 2012 season stats listed twice.
Defensive Staff of the Week - Oregon: In the Thursday night spotlight at Arizona State, Chip Kelly's team demonstrated to the nation it was much more than a fast offense and flashy uniforms. Nick Aliotti's unit surrendered a Sun Devils touchdown on their first play and did not allow another point until the game was well out of reach. Arizona State's next 12 possessions produced a total of 221 yards with seven punts, two interceptions, a turnover on downs and missed field goal mixed in. The Sun Devils' 14 offensive points were a season low and their 408 yards were their second-fewest to date. In all, Oregon intecepted four passes, collected five sacks and held Arizona State scoreless in three red zone trips. After Thursday's performance, Oregon leads the country in red zone defense with only 15 scores allowed in 29 trips.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - TCU: Despite a disappointing ending for Gary Patterson's team in triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech, special teams coordinator Gary Sharp's unit played winning football on Saturday. Frogs kicker Jaden Oberkrom nailed all six of his field goal tries and converted 5-of-5 extra points. Wide receiver Skye Dawson was a difference maker for TCU in the return game as he brought back five punts for a total of 61 yards, including a 22-yard return to the Texas Tech 31 that ultimately gave TCU a 17-7 lead. Ethan Perry booted three punts for a net average of 45 yards, two of which pinned the Red Raiders inside the 20. Equally important for Sharp's unit, TCU nullified Texas Tech's return game by not allowing a punt return on the day and limiting Texas Tech to a sum of two kickoff returns that totaled just 15 and 11 yards.
Call of the Week - Todd Berry (ULM) and Rocky Long (San Diego State): For any head coaches that may be reading this, a sure-fire way to win our Call of the Week is to successfully go for two and the win in overtime. Todd Berry and Rocky Long share our award this week because both head coaches did just that on Saturday night.
First, Berry's team fought back from a 28-7 deficit to force overtime against Western Kentucky. After WKU scored to open overtime, ULM quarterback Kolton Browning ran in from three yards out to bring the Warhawks within one and then hit Rashon Ceasar in the end zone for the game-winning conversion. It was the second such win this season for Berry's team as ULM famously toppled then-No. 8 Arkansas in similar fashion on Sept. 8.
Rocky Long's team also rode a wave of momentum into overtime after the Aztecs fough back from a 31-21 hole with 10 points in the game's final 3:45 to force an extra frame. San Diego State quarterback Adam Dingwell went a perfect 3-for-3 in overtime as hit a pass for four yards on first down, then a 21-yard touchdown strike that set up his game-winning two-point conversion to Rob Andrews.
Both wins are crucial for each head coach. ULM became the first team not named LSU or Alabama to defeat Western Kentucky in the Hilltoppers' last 15 games, allowing Berry's squad to stand alone in first place in the Sun Belt. Long's team has now won three straight Mountain West games to pull into a four-way tie for second place in the MWC. Both teams need one more victory to achieve bowl eligibility.
It's hard to believe we're sitting at the halfway point of the 2012 college football season. We could have sworn Labor Day was just a week or two ago. Regardless, 50 percent of the season is already in the books. Here's what we found noteworthy from Week 7 of the college football slate.
1. Move over Ohio, is New Hampshire the new Cradle of Coaches? Probably not, but this stat (courtesy of Bruce Feldman) is astounding: Coaches from the state of New Hampshire, Chip Kelly and Dan Mullen, currently sit at 12-0 so far this season. Not bad for a state with zero FBS programs and just one FBS signee in 2012.
2. Speaking of the Buckeye State, Ohio stands as the top state in college football right now. Urban Meyer is 7-0 and ranked No. 7 in the AP poll in his first season at Ohio State. Butch Jones is 5-0 and ranked No. 21 at Cincinnati. Frank Solich has Ohio at 7-0 and No. 25 in the AP. In fact, the MAC East standings read Ohio, Kent State (5-1, 3-0), Bowling Green (4-3, 2-1) and Miami of Ohio (3-4, 2-1) while Toledo also sits atop the MAC West at 6-1 and 4-0 in the league. Ohio's seven FBS teams are a combined 38-14. Oh yeah, and Mount Union is also 5-0 and has allowed only seven points all season.
3. Arkansas seems to have put the wheels back on the wagon. One week after handling Auburn 24-7, the Razorbacks again looked like the top 10 team many expected to see in a 49-7 dismantling of Kentucky. No coach in the country could use a two-game winning streak more than the embattled John L. Smith. Yes, the wins came against teams that are a combined 0-8 in the SEC. But when you are 1-4, a two-game winning streak is a two-game winning streak.
4. Duke missed its first chance at bowl eligibility. David Cutcliffe's team jumped out in front of Virginia Tech 20-0 only to see the Hokies reel off the game's final 41 points. Duke's next three opponents (North Carolina, Clemson and Florida State) are a combined 16-4 until a date with 2-4 Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Nov. 17.
#Duke's David Cutcliffe reiterates Tuesday statement that #Hokies' Frank Beamer is the top coach in the country
5. Congrats to James Franklin and Vanderbilt for finally cracking the code to Florida's fourth quarter defense. After not allowing a point in any fourth quarter this season, Vanderbilt managed to register 10 points in the final frame on Saturday night. It wasn't enough to pull the upset as Will Muschamp's team improved to 6-0 with a 31-17 win. After being outscored 72-22 in fourth quarters last season, the Gators hold a 54-10 fourth quarter edge this season. Florida also claims come-from-behind wins over Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Vanderbilt. Conditioning was clearly an emphasis of Muschamp in the off-season, and strength coach Jeff Dillman has definitely succeeded in transforming his team.
6. We're glad to see that Jerry Kill plans to coach again this Saturday. Kill suffered a seizure in his private locker room less than an hour after Minnesota's 21-13 loss to Northwestern on Saturday. Coach Kill was released from a Minneapolis hospital on Sunday morning.
7. Wisconsin has returned to form after a shaky start to the season. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada and interim offensive line coach Bart Miller have found their footing, and the Badgers' offense is back to its old ways. In a 38-14 win over Purdue, the Wisconsin offense rushed 57 times for 467 yards and four touchdowns. Starting tailback Montee Ball contributed 247 yards and three touchdowns on 29 rushes. After rushing for just 3.3 yards per carry over their first five games, Wisconsin is churning out 7.1 yards per attempt over its last two games. The Badgers are 5-2 and 2-1 in the Big Ten, a full two wins ahead of the pack of bowl-eligible teams in the Leaders Division.
8. Oregon will face an interesting challenge at Arizona State on Thursday night. In his first season in Tempe, Todd Graham has the Sun Devils sitting at 5-1 and ranked No. 24 in the Coaches Poll. Paul Randolph's defense is far and away the best unit in the Pac-12 on paper. Arizona State leads the league in total defense by nearly 60 yards per game over second place USC. The Sun Devils is giving up just 3.92 yards per play, nearly a full yard better than the rest of the conference. Randolph's unit also leads the conference in pass efficiency defense (4.86 yards per attempt), and its 3.23 yards per carry allowed is over a full yard better than Oregon's Pac-12 opposition to date. And then there's this: the last time Oregon traveled to the Grand Canyon State on a Thursday night was in 2007 when the No. 2 ranked Ducks lost to Arizona, 34-24. Chip Kelly and co. will hope history doesn't repeat itself this week. Scott and Zach from our staff will be at this game. More on this to come later in the week.
9. Notre Dame trailed for the first time this season on Saturday. The Fighting Irish actually trailed for a full quarter against Stanford after falling behind 10-3 at halftime; they didn't tie the game until a 24-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. Brian Kelly's team trailed again 13-10 before scoring the game's final 10 points in a 20-13 overtime win. Bob Diaco's defense still has not (officially) surrendered an offensive touchdown in four full games.
10. Midweek action begins this week in college football. Starting with Louisiana - Lafayette at North Texas tomorrow night, we will have Tuesday or Wednesday night football all but one week through Thanksgiving.
Indiana took a top ten Ohio State team down to the wire on Saturday in a 52-49 shootout.
After the game, Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson was asked about their point total being the highest the Hoosiers have ever put up against a top ten opponent. Wilson responded by saying, "It was four points not enough."
"You have to give credit to those guys being good players. The best thing to do is go to a little league game or a junior high or JV game and listen to some parent or coach say 'block somebody'. So you're always thinking 'tackle somebody'. Well it's kind of hard, it's not like you can always make the tackle, those are good players."
"We continue to work on it, but it's a dynamic of college football. Tackling has decreased year after year, that's why there's not as many great defenses as there used to be."
Chip Kelly got on Sirius XM's College Sports Nation today and was asked about the issue of missed tackles in college football.
Numerous defensive coaches around the country have noted missed tackles during their post game press conferences as part of the reason for losses.
Kelly explains that teams that aren't as good defensively can blame it on tackling, but he see's it differently. He sees missed tackles as a personnel issue.
"I don't think there's anybody in the country, no matter where you are, that says 'Ya know, tackling, lets not worry about that today...lets not do it." Kelly said.
"I think that the teams that don't tackle well just don't have as good of players as the teams that tackle well. It still comes down to a personnel game. I don't think there's a college coach, or a high school coach or a pro coach in the country that doesn't work on tackling."
"It's like saying on offense, 'Well they don't block very well so they must not work on blocking'. I think every offensive line coach is doing chutes and boards every day in their individual drills and I think every college coach in their individual drills is doing tackling."
"I think that there are a lot of athleticism on the offensive side of the ball," Kelly explained. "Sometimes, maybe the credit should go to the offensive players who are pretty good at making people miss. I think everybody works on it, it's a fundamental. I think it just comes down to a personnel thing"
Kelly explains that a lot of the issues have to do with the formations being stretched sideline to sideline instead of playing with nine guys in the box where it would be much easier to tackle. He notes that when players are stretched sideline to sideline, many individual match ups get exposed.