Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday that five of the team's juniors are sending paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board to receive an evaluation.

Who are the five?

Tressel ain't telling.

Asked if quarterback Terrelle Pryor is among those seeking an NFL evaluation, Tressel said, "I can't answer that."

Pressed on why not, The Vest replied, "I just don't feel like it. I don't know. I can't bring myself to, how's that?"

Alrighty then.

It's a pretty good bet Pryor is one of the five.

A source close to Buckeyes running back Dan "Boom" Herron tells me Herron is seriously considering a jump to the NFL. You have to believe he's one of the five seeking feedback.

Who else? Center Mike Brewster is a likely candidate. Wide receiver DeVier Posey is another. Perhaps another junior offensive lineman like tackle Mike Adams. What about defensive end Nathan Williams?

While I'd be surprised to see Pryor enter the draft a year early, I would expect at least one Buckeyes junior to make the jump.

Any guesses on Ohio State's forecasting five?

3-point stance: Rematch at the Rose Bowl

December, 15, 2010
1. This nugget from BCS boss Bill Hancock: of the five BCS bowl matchups, four of them feature opponents playing each other for the first time. The lone exception? The Rose Bowl. TCU and Wisconsin played to a 14-14 tie in Madison early in the 1970 season. The Badgers didn’t return the game, perhaps because in 1970, the NCAA allowed teams to expand schedules from 10 games to 11, and matchups got put together in a hurry.

2. My colleague Andrea Adelson blogged Tuesday that Florida quarterback John Brantley reiterated that he would discuss his future with his family and that he is noncommittal about his return to Gainesville. Maybe I’m old school, but if I had the year Brantley had (nine touchdown passes, nine picks in 12 games), and I had a new coach, I would be busting my hump to impress him. Noncommittal? Will Muschamp is the one who will be noncommittal about Brantley and every other Gator. They just went 7-5.

3. A day later, I’m still not sure what I find more amazing, that Vanderbilt is willing to pay $3 million a year to a football coach or that Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn turned it down. If Vandy commits that kind of money to football, there are no guarantees that the Commodores will win. But the chances of winning will grow. Northwestern is winning in the Big Ten. No. 4 Stanford is winning everywhere. These days, you can have high academic standards and win. I can’t wait to see Vandy ramp it up.

Muschamp brings high energy to Gators

December, 14, 2010
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Will Muschamp cracked wise. He told stories. He talked about doing things the “Florida Way.” He fired off a warning shot to any player even thinking about acting up.

He spent a dizzying 45 minutes talking during his introductory news conference as the new Florida Gators coach Tuesday night, barely pausing for breath. He spoke so fast and so energetically that he had the Gators players, supporters and boosters at the back of the room just staring at him, listening to every word.

[+] EnlargeWill Muschamp
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesWill Muschamp tried to ease fears about his inexperience during his first news conference as the new Florida Gators coach.
That is exactly what he needed to do Tuesday. Muschamp got the attention of the base and made people believe, something he desperately needed to do because of concerns about his inexperience.

Already his detractors worried he could be the next Ron Zook, who also came to Florida with no head-coaching experience. Zook failed to win any loyalty from day one. His failure to win championships seemed to be an inevitability.

Muschamp is no Zook. He is no Urban Meyer, either, and that should be something to go on for those fans who clamored for change after a 7-5 season.

Meyer and Muschamp certainly share the same type of intensity, but they have two different approaches. Meyer never seemed comfortable in front of cameras, and never spent 45 minutes answering questions.

Muschamp, on the other hand, relished his opportunity. His opening remarks lasted 20 minutes. He addressed his plan, those critical of his inexperience, being the right fit at Florida, his offensive and defensive philosophies, his desire to help players with leadership and character, recruiting, his days as a child in Gainesville and his desire to have Meyer involved with the program.

Players described him afterward as “high energy.” Not exactly the first words that come to mind when describing Meyer, who appeared aloof at times during his six years at the Gators' helm.

Of course, high energy is not going to translate into wins. Neither is his star-studded background -- he learned from Mack Brown and Nick Saban. Muschamp is aware of all of this. And though he felt it was the right time to become a head coach, he acknowledged that Brown and Meyer told him that even they were not ready to tackle the mammoth jobs at Texas and Florida.

Muschamp is going to have to learn on the job, but he will not be allowed to make many mistakes. A fan base and athletic department used to championships will be applying constant pressure for him to win.

“I know the Gator Nation is going to have high expectations and I am too,” he said. “We’re not on a five-year plan here.”

[+] EnlargeWill Muschamp
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireWill Muschamp's enthusiasm on the sideline earned him the nickname "Coach Boom."
He has no plans to change his demeanor on the sideline, which has affectionately earned him the nickname “Coach Boom.” He has some plans to change the offense, describing his philosophy as having more pro-style elements.

Even that might not be enough to keep quarterback John Brantley, who reiterated he would discuss his future with his family after the Outback Bowl and was noncommittal about his return to Gainesville.

Muschamp has definite plans to change the perception of the program, one that has taken a hit with 30 player arrests under Meyer. He listed plans to help players with leadership and character development, along with mental conditioning. Players who want to graduate are a must.

As for his plans on a coaching staff, Muschamp emphatically said he had not offered a job to anybody, and would wait until after the bowl game to make any decisions about his future assistants.

Football talk aside, perhaps what may have endeared people to him most of all was his candor about who he is. Meyer rarely gave a glimpse into his past. He restricted interviews of his father and sisters, and rarely talked about growing up as a child.

But sitting right in the front row Tuesday night were Muschamp’s parents, Larry and Sally. It was Larry who had season tickets to Gators games in the north end zone in the 1980s when the family lived here. Muschamp adored Wilber Marshall. Sally always wanted a picture taken with Cris Collinsworth.

Even after his family moved back to Georgia, he had Florida on his mind. He came on an unofficial visit to Gainesville but never got a chance to meet the ol’ ball coach. Steve Spurrier was on a golf course somewhere. “He was 2 under at the turn, I guess we didn’t get a chance to see him,” he said.

Muschamp ended up going to Georgia, and spent part of his career coaching in the SEC at Auburn and LSU. When he attended Gators games as a child, he never envisioned he would be standing on the sideline as the leader of this team.

Perhaps nobody did, considering he had been tabbed to succeed Brown. Muschamp was surprised when Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley called him up, but he was not surprised he wanted the job after he heard the pitch.

This is where he wants to be. He is different from Meyer. But now the waiting game begins to see if he is the same in the only area that counts: winning championships.


Video: Brantley on Muschamp hiring

December, 14, 2010

Florida quarterback John Brantley discusses the hiring of Will Muschamp as the Gators' new head coach.

Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin is expected to be named head coach at Vanderbilt, ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting.

“I’m anticipating that,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I talked to him this morning, but it hadn’t been finalized. Life goes on. I wish him the best of luck. I think he did a great job for us. I congratulated him. I’ve got to see what the fallout is and go from there.”

Friedgen was on a home visit when I called him this evening, so I didn't get to talk to him more than a minute. He didn't say if Franklin would coach the Terps against East Carolina in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman. It's important to remember that both Vanderbilt and Maryland have said that this hasn't been finalized yet. I'll have more on this if and when it becomes official.
There still is no official confirmation on the Dana Holgorsen to West Virginia news, but unless multiple media outlets are wrong -- or is some unforeseen snag occurs -- this looks like a done deal.

That will mean that two Big East coaches who shared a piece of the three-way tie for the league title will either be shown the door now (Pitt's Dave Wannstedt) or given a pink-slip ticket that comes due at the end of next year (Bill Stewart). And while both Wannstedt and Stewart have had plenty of detractors during their tenures at their respective programs, let's take a moment to reflect on their records the past three years.

Wannstedt is 26-12 the past three seasons, and if Pitt wins the BBVA Compass Bowl with him at the helm (as of Tuesday afternoon, he was still undecided whether he will coach in that game), that will give him an average of nine wins over the past three years. Wannstedt put together easily the best three-year stretch by the school in almost 30 years.

Stewart is 27-11 the past three seasons, and if West Virginia wins the Champs Sports Bowl, that will give the Mountaineers a 10-win season. How many coaches have been told to hit the bricks after winning 10 games, without major scandals involved? I've heard comparisons to Ohio State's John Cooper, but Cooper won 25 games his last three seasons, including an 8-4 campaign his last year in Columbus. He also had a poor record against his chief rival, Michigan; Stewart is 2-1 against the Mountaineers' main rival, Pittsburgh. Stewart's record after 38 games is second best in West Virginia history, ahead of Don Nehlen, Bobby Bowden and Rich Rodriguez.

Though Stewart was named in the NCAA accusations against West Virginia in regards to practice-policy violations, most believe that the outcome to that case will be a minor slap on the wrist comparable to what Michigan received. Pitt and West Virginia had some players arrested in the past few years, but so did many programs in America. There was no whiff of impropriety by Stewart or Wannstedt in their personal behavior or how they treated players, and in fact you'd be hard pressed to come up with better ambassadors for either place. Their players graduated and achieved solid success in the classroom.

In the end, those accomplishments weren't enough for either school. They were hurt by some notable failures in big-time games, and for their inability to win the Big East outright title in what was a down year, and perhaps down period, for the league. Empty seats at both their home stadiums late in the year made an unfavorable impression, too.

It's important to remember that the men making the decisions on both coaches weren't the men who hired them; both athletic directors (Pitt's Steve Pederson and West Virginia's Oliver Luck) seem eager to make their mark with their own hire.

Just let the next coach know that the standards and expectations have been raised at both West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Averaging nine wins a year, taking a share of the conference title and gunning for a 10th victory apparently aren't enough anymore.

Video: uDrove Humanitarian Bowl preview

December, 14, 2010

Andrea Adelson previews the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl.


Newton leads AP All-America team

December, 14, 2010
Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Auburn teammate Nick Fairley headline the AP All-America team, announced Tuesday. Auburn is one of five players on the first team. Here is the complete list of first-teamers:

QB -- Cam Newton, Auburn
RB -- LaMichael James, Oregon
RB -- Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
WR -- Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
WR -- Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
OL -- Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
OL -- John Moffit, Wisconsin
OL -- Rodney Hudson, Florida State
OL -- Nate Solder, Colorado
OL -- Chase Beeler, Stanford
TE -- Michael Egnew, Missouri

DL -- Nick Fairley, Auburn
DL -- Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
DL -- Stephen Paea, Oregon State
DL -- Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
LB -- Greg Jones, Michigan State
LB -- Luke Kuechley, Boston College
LB -- Von Miller, Texas A&M
DB -- Patrick Peterson, LSU
DB -- Tejay Johnson, TCU
DB -- Quinton Carter, Oklahoma
DB -- Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

Special teams
P -- Chas Henry, Florida
PK -- Alex Henery, Nebraska
AP -- Randall Cobb, Kentucky

Video: Rose Bowl preview

December, 14, 2010

Pat Forde and Ivan Maisel preview the Rose Bowl.

2 injured UNC starters to miss bowl

December, 14, 2010
UNC senior linebacker Bruce Carter and senior guard Alan Pelc both had surgery and will not play in the Tar Heels' bowl game against Tennessee on Dec. 30, the school announced on Tuesday.

Carter had ACL reconstruction surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning and is expected to return to full participation in the fall of 2011. Carter originally injured his knee against NC State on Nov. 20, 2010.

Pelc had surgery Monday afternoon (Dec. 13) to repair his left shoulder. He will begin rehabilitation immediately.

“Bruce and Alan have meant so much to this program,” coach Butch Davis said in a prepared statement. “They have been great kids, great leaders and, most importantly, they will graduate Sunday with a degree from the University of North Carolina. Obviously, we are disappointed for them that they will not be able to play in the bowl game. However, our main concern is their health and preparing for the future.”

Carter started 43 games, including 10 this season. He was a 2010 finalist for the Butkus Award, which is presented to the nation’s top linebacker. Carter blocked seven kicks in his career and scored twice on interception returns.

Pelc started 34 games in his career, including 11 this season. He graded out over 75 percent in 2010 while playing guard and center.

Herman Davidson is Carter's backup on the depth chart for the bowl game, and Travis Bond is listed at right guard.
I guess this is what they mean by getting out in front of the story.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta held a news conference Tuesday morning where they revealed very little actual news. Despite rampant rumors about a wave of drug-related suspensions, Iowa announced no additional personnel updates other than what was released Monday night.

To recap: Top running back Adam Robinson has been suspended until January at the earliest for unspecified reasons, while running backs Jewel Hampton and Brandon Wegher are transferring. Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos won't play for Iowa again after his arrest last week on several drug charges.

That's it.

"We don't anticipate any more announcements on our roster," Ferentz said.

You can breathe a little easier now, Iowa fans. The roster won't be depleted for the Insight Bowl matchup against Missouri on Dec. 28.

The only real news from Iowa City today is that the school reviewed its drug-testing program following the DJK mess last week and found "some flaws and inconsistencies," Barta said. The school didn't find any specific acts of cheating or any cover-up attempts by those performing the tests, but Barta has "strong evidence" to believe that student-athletes likely have found ways to get around the testing program.

He didn't go into specifics.

"We have not caught anybody getting around the system,” Barta said. “Unfortunately, there’s enough evidence in our protocol to say we have to tighten up. It’s pretty likely that someone -- I don’t know if it’s 1 or 21 -- someone has gotten around this process.

"And if it’s only one, it makes you doubt all testing.”

All Iowa student-athletes are randomly tested at least once a year by the school, including all 92 football players this year, coach Kirk Ferentz said. The Big Ten and the NCAA also conduct separate drug testing. An Iowa student-athlete automatically misses athletic competition with a first positive drug test. Those who refuse testing count as having tested positive.

A few nuggets:
  • Robinson remains eligible and Ferentz hinted that his suspension is for academic reasons, stretching back to Robinson sitting out the start of the Ohio State game on Nov. 20. "It's my anticipation that he'll be back in January," Ferentz said. Hampton's decision to transfer was mutual, Ferentz said.
  • The coach didn't want Robinson and Hampton to be grouped in with Johnson-Koulianos, the only Iowa player facing legal action at this time. Unfortunately, holding a news conference like this allows folks to draw those conclusions.
  • Asked if other players knew about DJK's problems, Ferentz said: "My guess is some did, and if that’s the case, it’s unfortunate that nobody came forward."
  • Iowa City police gave Ferentz a head's up about the DJK situation last Tuesday while the arrest was taking place.
  • Ferentz on player conduct: "My guess is the behaviors of this year's team off the field aren't much different [from last season]. We had a lot of the same parties on the team last year. When you win 11 games, everything's fine, and when you win seven, it's a little different."
  • Ferentz on DJK: "Shock's a strong word. I think I got over that about 20 years ago. Disappointment is obviously a big part of the equation."
  • Drug testing for Iowa student-athletes continued last week, although it wasn't out of the ordinary, Barta said.
  • Barta on the state of the program: "The state of the program is in great hands. We're dealing with some important and challenging issues, but I have great confidence in Kirk's handling of them."

Anyway, an odd day in Iowa City, but not a catastrophic one for the program as it prepares for the Insight Bowl.

Houston asks for sixth year for Keenum

December, 14, 2010
Houston has formally appealed to the NCAA for a sixth year for quarterback Case Keenum, who tore his ACL in the third game of the season and missed the rest of the year.

Generally, the NCAA only grants an extra year of eligibility if a player has lost two seasons because of injury or circumstances under his control. Keenum did redshirt his freshman year, and Houston is going to have to try to prove he did so because he had an injury. As I wrote when Keenum first got hurt against UCLA in September, the NCAA does consider each appeal on a case-by-case basis. This is a quick list of players I came up with who had their appeals approved and denied.

When Keenum last spoke to reporters in October, he did not give a timetable for when he would be recovered. If his appeal is denied, he would be eligible for the NFL draft, but it is unclear whether he would be able to work out for scouts or at the NFL combine. Keenum had been regarded as a mid-to-late NFL draft pick before the injury. If he goes into the draft, then his injury could have a big impact on his status.

Backup Cotton Turner, who also sustained a season-ending injury against UCLA, would return and be in the fold to start for Houston.

Though Keenum has been regarded as a system quarterback, he is smart, accurate and poised. If he returns to school, then he would have another year to hone his skills and try to shed the system label that has dogged him the past two seasons. Plus, he would resume his quest to become the NCAA career passing leader.

Lunchtime Links

December, 14, 2010
Here are some links to get you through lunch.

Utah QB Jordan Wynn had successful shoulder surgery on Monday.

Southern Miss' seniors keep their postseason tradition alive.

Nevada returned to practice after a week off, but still has a long wait until playing Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Jan. 9.

Former Fresno State players recall a 73-18 loss to Northern Illinois in 1990 as the two teams prepare to meet in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl.

San Diego State coach Brady Hoke denied having contact with Pittsburgh.

Credit Northern Illinois AD Jeff Compher for the way he handled the hiring of Dave Doeren.

New Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth has to hit the ground running.

Terrance Owens will start at quarterback for Toledo against FIU in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, but injured starter Austin Dantin (shoulder/collarbone) could play.

Alabama receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Curt Cignetti has emerged as a leading candidate to be named head coach at Kent State, TideSports.com reports.

California recruit Will Gregory hopes to fill the shoes of Alex Green at Hawaii next season.

UTEP is healthier going into the New Mexico Bowl against BYU everywhere except QB, where Trevor Vittatoe is still hampered by an ankle injury.Vittatoe will get "an extensive operation" on Monday, coach Mike Price said.

Gus Malzahn a modern-day success story

December, 14, 2010
Six years ago, Gus Malzahn was still coaching high school football in Arkansas.

He was a very successful high school coach and had some powerhouse teams at Springdale High. It's one of the main reasons he was hired by Houston Nutt at Arkansas to be offensive coordinator. Malzahn had some marquee talent on that team, including quarterback Mitch Mustain, that the Hogs wanted.

[+] EnlargeGus Malzahn
John Reed/US PresswireAuburn made Gus Malzahn the highest-paid assistant in the conference.
It wasn't the first time a high school coach was hired as part of a package deal to get his players, and it won't be the last.

The bottom line for Malzahn was that he got his foot in the college coaching door. And once in, he's been a huge hit.

Granted, it didn't work out at Arkansas the way anyone would have envisioned during that 2006 season, but Malzahn moved on that next year to Tulsa, where his offenses put up staggering numbers the next two seasons. They were first nationally in total offense in both 2007 and 2008.

One of the best decisions Gene Chizik made upon getting the Auburn head job was hiring Malzahn. The only real connection was that Chizik knew Malzahn's offenses were a load and had the guts to hire him when you heard others mumbling that Malzahn's spread attack wouldn't work in the SEC. We all heard the rap ... too gimmicky, too high risk, not physical enough.

Never mind that a downhill running game is and has been the cornerstone of what Malzahn wants to do on offense.

Either way, Malzahn immediately turned around Auburn's offense, and the Tigers set several school records his first season, including points in a season, total yards in a season and passing touchdowns in a season. Most of those records were shattered this season.

For his efforts, Malzahn was presented with the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country.

He's come a long way in a short period of time, but he's done it the right way. Malzahn is the antithesis of a self-promoter. He's quiet, keeps to himself and does his best to avoid the cameras.

He's more comfortable watching film, coaching his players and drawing up that next play that's going to catch the defense flat-footed.

Malzahn personifies that guy who keeps his head down, does his job well and gets what's coming to him because of substance and not so much style.

That said, maybe his style of offense isn't so gimmicky after all.

And maybe Malzahn isn't driven solely by the almighty dollar. If he were, he would have taken the Vanderbilt head job and the $3 million-per-year salary. In the end, Malzahn simply didn't feel like the timing was right or that this particular head job was right for him.

Rest assured there will be other opportunities.

Besides, he's not going to be starving at Auburn thanks to a new deal on the Plains that will pay him $1.3 million per year, making him the highest paid assistant coach in the SEC.

Something says that's a little bit more than he made at Springdale High School.
Michigan State might not win the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day, but the Spartans won't fall victim to a mental letdown after being left out of the BCS bowls.

After talking with several Spartans players last week, I'm impressed with the approach they're taking toward the upcoming Capital One Bowl matchup against Alabama. As expected, Michigan State got snubbed in the BCS selections despite sharing the Big Ten title with Wisconsin and Ohio State and handing the Rose Bowl-bound Badgers their only loss. But the Spartans don't feel like the Capital One Bowl is a step down.

[+] EnlargeKirk Cousins
Hunter Martin/Getty ImagesKirk Cousins said the Capital One Bowl matchup with Alabama was a great way to see if the Spartans "really belong in the top 10."
Just the opposite.

"I feel like this is a BCS bowl game," Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "We're playing Alabama, and you could easily put the tag 'Orange Bowl' or 'Sugar Bowl' on it, and people wouldn't think any different. It's two very good teams here. This is our chance. This is our opportunity to prove to everybody that we should have been in a BCS bowl game.

"We started the season ranked pretty low and didn't get the respect from the beginning. We felt like we needed to go out and prove it on the field throughout the season, and I think we did that. One more time, we need to prove that we belong."

Of the 10 teams playing in BCS bowls next month, Michigan State was the only squad not to receive a single vote in the preseason AP poll (both Stanford and Connecticut were unranked but received votes). The preseason polls largely shape a team's national perception, and while the Spartans rose all the way to No. 5 in the polls by the end of October, they paid a heavy price for losing so badly to Iowa on Oct. 30.

For Michigan State, an upshot of winning the Capital One Bowl is most likely a high ranking entering the 2011 season.

"It's going to help a lot," safety Trenton Robinson said. "We have to win this game. This is our biggest game, obviously, and it's going to put us up there with the elite teams in college football, where we should be. We just want to be an elite team, and to be an elite team, you have to beat an elite team. And Alabama's a pretty elite team.

"It's going to do a lot for us."

Michigan State knows what's at stake in Orlando, but how will Alabama view the game? By most accounts, the season has been a disappointment for Nick Saban's crew. The defending national champs and consensus preseason No. 1 team eyed a return to the title stage or, at the very least, a trip to another BCS bowl.

Although Alabama is favored and loaded with talent, and Saban does a superb job of keeping his team focused, the Tide didn't have the right mindset for the 2009 Sugar Bowl against Utah and stumbled.

Cousins admitted to some initial disappointment at being left out of the BCS. But the feeling didn't last long.

"You want to play in the biggest game possible," he said. "The dream is to play in the Rose Bowl, and if not, to play in a BCS bowl game. I thought we put together a season that warranted going to a BCS bowl game. Obviously, that didn't happen. So that's all right. We'll move forward.

"This is a great way to see if we measure up and to see if we really belong in the top 10."