NCF Nation: Bob Toledo

Jim Mora, UCLA get rolling

April, 4, 2012
Not unlike his pop -- "Playoffs? Playoffs?!" -- Jim Mora can be kind of a grump. Not in a "I hate the world" sort of way. More in a football coach-y way.

Which is why I got a kick out of Jon Gold's description of Mora from spring practice No. 1 for UCLA -- Mora's first practice since his ugly departure from the Seattle Seahawks.
The huge smile on Jim Mora's face after the first practice of UCLA's spring football campaign really told the whole story. Perhaps no one was more excited to be back out on the field than he was.

It's been more than two years since he's been on the practice field -- two years, three months, as Mora pointed out, and yes, it appears he's been counting -- and he took out all his frustration on his throat. He was more hoarse than an auctioneer by the time he addressed the media, after spending 2+ hours sprinting everywhere on the field.
[+] EnlargeJim Mora
AP Photo/Kevin ReeceOne of Jim Mora's first challenges will be sorting out the Bruins' situation at quarterback.
Every coach is motivated to win. For one, it's the only way to avoid getting fired. But the very circumstances surrounding Mora's hiring -- his being a lifelong NFL coach who's been out of the game for an extended period of time -- could actually become a positive here. For one, he's hungry to re-enter a competitive environment. Instead of feeling entitled, he's grateful for an opportunity. He's eager to teach, which is more a part of the college game than in the NFL. And, though he likely would never use the term, he also wants to take control of his coaching legacy. Yes, Mora is well aware that some doubt him.

Of course, we typed just about the exact same thing when Rick Neuheisel returned to his alma mater to redeem himself in 2008. At the time, I must confess I -- wrongly -- felt a high degree of certainty he would succeed. (Though, as I've told Neuheisel, I was skeptical about the initial mix of coaching personalities around him, notably the so-called dream team of offensive coordinator Norm Chow and defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker.)

It seems like we've been talking about a "culture change" with UCLA football since the declining years of the Bob Toledo administration, which ended nearly a decade ago. But that's Mora's chief task. It's the Point A even before Mora and the Bruins can turn their attention to that school across town, whose (again) rising fortunes don't make anything easier in Westwood.

Gold provides a nice preview of specific -- and less philosophical -- issues the Bruins face this spring. More than a few fans would say the chief task is developing competency at quarterback, which is the primary challenge for new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. Mazzone is best known for transforming Arizona State's Brock Osweiler from a basketball player who dabbled at quarterback into a potential first-day NFL draft pick this spring.

Gold's take on the quarterback competition is interesting. While many Bruins fans -- and not a few reporters -- are eager for the newness of touted redshirt freshman Brett Hundley to overtake the more experienced but inconsistent Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, Gold sees Prince and Brehaut as the front-runners.
Brett Hundley and T.J. Millweard will vie for the position in spring ball as well, but it will likely come down to the two seniors, Prince and Brehaut. Prince gets the first snaps, but Brehaut should follow close behind. If one of them shows tremendous consistency with the short pass and develops a good rhythm early, it will go a long way in the coaches' eyes. They're certainly going to be looking out for it.

A single practice, particularly one not in full pads, doesn't reveal much. But here are three positives culled from reports from those on hand: 1. A demanding practice tempo -- a recurring theme among just about every observer -- should make it hard for the malaise of past years to endure; 2. Left offensive tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, fresh off an LDS mission, looked fit and motivated. That could be transformative for the O-line; 3. Mazzone wants to spread the field. He needs guys to catch the ball. Devin Lucien, Shaq Evans and tight end Joseph Fauria are fully capable of helping him do that. Now he only needs four more guys.

3-point stance: Toledo out at Tulane

October, 19, 2011
1. The French Quarter is thriving and Tulane University has recovered from Hurricane Katrina. But the Green Wave football team hasn’t. A respectable 18-18 in the three years before the 2005 disaster, Tulane is 21-57 over the past seven seasons, 15-40 under coach Bob Toledo, who resigned Tuesday. Toledo, one of the good guys in the sport, is no match for Category Five problems (small fan base, apathetic student body, no on-campus stadium). Tulane is raising money for an on-campus stadium. That’s a good place to start.

2. SMU, Tulane’s fellow Conference USA member, has climbed from depths deeper than Tulane ever has seen. The Mustangs are 5-1, and it’s easy to imagine their Nov. 19 game at No. 19 Houston (6-0) being big enough to attract national attention. What isn’t easy to imagine is how the Mustangs are 5-1 while minus-9 in turnover margin. Blame the Mustang defense, which has generated only five turnovers.

3. Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson asked for his Yellow Jackets to get a break -- literally. They have played seven straight weeks and go to Miami on Saturday. “This is probably about the longest that I’ve ever played without a break,” Johnson said. “... I think our guys want to win and want to play, I don’t doubt that. They just need a little more in that tank.” If a head coach in his 15th season says he has never played eight straight weeks, he’s either lucky, a scheduling genius, or has a short memory.

Bob Toledo out at Tulane

October, 18, 2011
Tulane coach Bob Toledo has resigned, a source told Joe Schad on Tuesday.

Toledo could never turn around the Green Wave program, which has been stuck at the bottom of Conference USA. Currently in his fifth season, Toledo has gone 15-40, including a 2-5 start to this season. In three of the losses this season, his team has failed to hit double digits in scoring.

The best record Toledo ever had at Tulane was 4-8, which he accomplished in 2007 and 2010. The Green Wave never had a winning conference record under his watch.
1. Now that toxicology reports have established that Aaron Douglas of Alabama and Austin Box of Oklahoma died of accidental overdose of painkillers, let us hope that their deaths are not in vain. Here’s hoping that every team doctor at every level of college football uses Douglas and Box to remind student-athletes that painkillers must be taken carefully. Here’s hoping that doctors plead with players in any form of chronic pain to ask for help, regardless of a culture where asking for help is a weakness.

2. This is a compliment, if you think about it. The active coach who has the most wins despite a losing record is Bob Toledo (76-97 in 15 seasons at Pacific, UCLA and, now, Tulane). Not far behind is first-year San Diego State coach Rocky Long (65-69 in 11 seasons at New Mexico). Greg Schiano of Rutgers qualified for this list when the Scarlet Knights went 4-8 last season. That made Schiano 59-63 in 10 seasons. There is a would-be runaway winner: lurking near qualification is Mike Price at UTEP (169-167).

3. BYU quarterback Jake Heaps, my guest on the ESPNU College Football Podcast this week, is uncommonly mature for a sophomore who just turned 20. He’s already married. He’s already established himself as a starter. He’s already started four losses, two more than he lost on a three-time state champion at Skyline High near Seattle. The most mature thing about Heaps is that he leads an offense with guys in their mid-20s who left BYU for two years on an LDS mission, and they follow him. That’s maturity.
Every year, there are coaches that land on the hot seat. So who are the non-AQ coaches who have to win in 2011? I have compiled a brief list. The no-brainer choice at the top of the list is New Mexico coach Mike Locksley, who goes into his third season having won two games and lost 22 with the Lobos.

Many thought he was on the hot seat last season, too. But the problem is he has a large buyout that New Mexico cannot afford to pay. According to local reports, it would have cost the program $1.4 million to fire him after last season. It would cost $1 million to fire him in 2011. So he may actually be safe if he has another bad season, unless New Mexico can find some serious cash.

I would put UAB coach Neil Callaway and Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild at the top of this list. Callaway goes into his fifth season at the school and has now been given plenty of time to get his players in to try and get into a bowl for just the second time in school history. He is 15-33 in four seasons and the Blazers went 4-8 last season. With 16 returning starters, including quarterback Bryan Ellis and running back Pat Shed, this could be bowl game or bust season for Callaway.

As for Fairchild, he took his team to a bowl game in his first season in 2008, but his teams have now posted back-to-back 3-9 seasons. The Rams also return 15 starters, including quarterback Pete Thomas. The Rams should be favored in four of their five nonconference games (Utah State, San Jose State, Northern Colorado, UTEP) so expectations will be high to return to a bowl.

Ron English also has gone 2-22 in his first two seasons. His team showed vast improvement last season over 2009. If that continues in 2011, he should be safe even with a losing record. But there are going to have to be more Ws in the win column. Bob Toledo is 12-37 in four seasons at Tulane

Lunchtime Links

January, 28, 2011
T.G.I.F. y'all. Now on to some links.

Boise State hopes to open its new football complex before the 2013 season.

Southern Miss is still looking for a receiver on the recruiting trail.

The Star-Telegram reports that if TCU and BYU do play, it won't be on Thanksgiving weekend.

ULM coach Todd Berry is building a recruiting pipeline into Oklahoma.

Dave Doeren has completed his coaching staff at Northern Illinois.

New Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth is picking up some key recruits.

Tulane coach Bob Toledo is looking for a special-teams guru to help improve his subpar unit.

The Mountain West made the right call when it held off on expansion.
Tulane has given coach Bob Toledo a one-year contract extension with a one-year option, meaning he will return to the Green Wave for his fifth season.

The team showed improvement this year, going 4-8 with an upset win over Rutgers. He also has 17 starters returning for 2011, including breakout freshman Orleans Darkwa. The running back set school freshman records for rushing yards (925), touchdowns (11) and consecutive 100-yard rushing games (five).

Toledo is 13-35 in four seasons.

“Four years ago, Bob came into a very difficult situation and was asked to establish a strong foundation for the Tulane football program and he and his staff have worked tirelessly to achieve many of the goals we put in front of him,” athletic director Rick Dickson said in a statement.

“At the end of four seasons, we are now in a position to achieve our original goals of contending in our division and attaining bowl berths, while continuing to excel in the classroom and in community service, and I expect these to occur next year.”

Lunchtime Links

October, 25, 2010
Hard to believe we are already headed into Week 9.

Byron Hout has made the move to middle linebacker worth it for Boise State.

Navy outplayed, outfought, outcoached and outworked Notre Dame.

TCU coach Gary Patterson had his relentless work ethic instilled in him at a young age.

Utah might be playing its best football of the season, just in time for the tough stretch of its schedule.

BYU is going to use its bye week to try to improve its offense.

San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman has a hip pointer, but coach Brady Hoke doesn't expect that to keep him out of action.

Tulane answered the challenge coach Bob Toledo gave them with a win over UTEP.

Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes on his team snapping a 26-game losing streak, "I feel like a million bucks."

The secret to Northern Illinois' success? Depth.
It’s amazing, but we’re just a couple of months from the start of fall camps. And that means were just a couple months away from lighting some fires under various coaches' seats to get them to win now or else.

But why wait?

I thought I‘d assess the temperature of the various coaches in my leagues to see where they stand heading into 2010 and what they need to do to ensure their employment in 2011.

Needs to win right away

Mike Price, UTEP: Price has become a bit of a fixture in this particular position on the hot seat list. He was given a vote of confidence at the end of last year, but that was because he still has players such as quarterback Trevor Vittatoe and running back Donald Buckram on his roster. But they’re gone after this season, so Price needs to make something out of this year or else.

Neil Callaway, UAB: Callaway is 11-25 in his three seasons as UAB’s head coach and the Blazers have not won more than five games in any of his seasons. In all fairness, Callaway did have to deal with scholarship losses thanks to NCAA APR sanctions that came down prior to his arrival. But with Joe Webb gone and the team looking for an offensive spark this year, the administration and fans could get antsy.

Seat could get toasty midseason

David Bailiff, Rice: I honestly think Bailiff has nothing to fear, but last season’s 2-10 campaign was pretty brutal, especially after the 10-3 season in 2008. But Bailiff has some key transfers this season, including running back Sam McGuffie, who could end up being the best player in the conference. Another 10-win season might be a stretch, but the Owls should get into bowl contention.

Bob Toledo, Tulane: Toledo took a tough job four years ago as Tulane was still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina and was displaced because of other hurricanes. He also has to deal with a tough academic standard, which often hampers recruiting. Still, Tulane has some fertile recruiting ground with Louisiana and Texas and should be better than its 3-9 record a year ago.

Chillin’ in a lounge chair

Kevin Sumlin, Houston: Sumlin’s Cougars provided some thrills last year with wins over Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State en route to a 10-win season, but they struggled at the end of the season and failed to win the conference title or the bowl game. Still, Sumlin’s coaching job in just two years has made him one of the hottest up-and-comers, and Houston will want to hold onto him as long as it can.

June Jones, SMU: Jones has started SMU on the road back to prominence, which has its administration and fan base in a frenzy. The school bumped up his salary last year and the expectations for a nine or 10-win season, a division title and possible league title are high. Jones won’t be chastised if they don’t achieve all of those goals, but he has to continue to show improvement.

George O’Leary, UCF: Remember when folks were calling for O’Leary’s job? Yeah, those days are gone and now many think the Knights could be the team to beat in the East Division and perhaps the conference. The defense has been stout, but the Knights need to show some progress on offense to live up to the expectations.

Todd Graham, Tulsa: I think it’s fair to call last year’s 5-7 finish a fluke. Graham acknowledged that he underestimated the loss of some of his seniors after the 2008 season and the lack of depth on the offensive line. However, Tulsa doesn’t lose much offense from a year ago, and if the O-line and quarterback G.J. Kinne can progress, the Golden Hurricane could be right back in the conference title hunt.

Larry Fedora, Southern Miss: Fedora missed an East Division title by five points last season and those five points were the theme that drove the Golden Eagles this spring. Southern Miss will once again be at the top of the East Division and will probably battle UCF for the division title. Fedora has kept the bowl streak alive, but now it’s time to push his squad forward.

New coach, jury is still out

Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina: McNeill took over a team that lost 28 seniors from last year and he’s installing a new offense and defense. Now, it’s tough to rule out the back-to-back conference champions, but it’s hard to see this as anything but a rebuilding year.

Larry Porter, Memphis: Porter is another coach who lost several key contributors. He’s breaking in a new quarterback and a new running back in a new system. He has a little more pressure on him to build quickly with possible expansion looming, but it will take some time to get this team back in contention.

Tulane suspends lineman Aluko

April, 13, 2010
Tulane head coach Bob Toledo announced today that junior offensive guard Emmanuel Aluko has been indefinitely suspended for a violation of team policy. Aluko's suspension begins immediately and he will not participate in the remainder of the spring practices, including the spring game on April 24.

Aluko played in 10 games last season (two starts) at defensive tackle, but was moved to tight end. He was then moved to offensive line for spring drills.

Toledo would not elaborate on the actions that led Aluko’s suspension, but Aluko could be back with the team in the fall if he meets team requirements.

Toledo also announced that redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Rich Bell left the team for personal reasons.

Tulane hires new secondary coach

March, 26, 2010
Tulane has hired Tom Hayes as the Green Wave’s secondary coach.

Hayes replaces Greg Jackson, who resigned his coaching position earlier this month to accept a similar role at Wisconsin.

“I’ve known and been friends with Tom for about 30 years and we’ve coached against each other at times and we served on the same staff at Texas A&M,” Tulane coach Bob Toledo said. “He brings experience and knowledge to our staff. I think he’ll do a great job of helping us to get better. “

Hayes bring 28 years of NFL and collegiate experience to the Green Wave and most recently he served as the defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

Hayes also coached at UCLA, Texas A&M and Oklahoma and helped those teams to a combined 13 bowl appearances. Hayes also had stints at Stanford and Kansas.

Tulane loses defensive assistant

March, 9, 2010
Tulane defensive assistant Greg Jackson has left the Green Wave to become an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin.

Jackson, who had been with the Green Wave since 2007, coached linebackers, safeties and the kickoff game during his time at Tulane.
“Greg is a very talented and energetic coach who worked very hard for our programs during his three seasons at Tulane,” head coach Bob Toledo said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him the best of luck at Wisconsin.”

The pass defense was one of the lone bright spots for the Green Wave last season, ranking 57th in the country with 218 yards allowed per game. The group also had 14 interceptions last season.

Posted by's Ivan Maisel

1. This from Brad Edwards and the ESPN research fiends: Florida has lost at least one game to an SEC West team in each of the past 10 years. Under coach Urban Meyer, the Gators are 6-6 against the West in the regular season, 2-0 in the league championship game. You could blame it on the familiarity that conference teams have with one another, but Meyer is 20-2 against the SEC East. Go figure.

2. Oregon began the season with three seniors in the secondary. T.J. Ward sprained his ankle at Boise State, and now both Walter Thurmond and Willie Glasper have suffered season-ending knee injuries. Ward came back to practice this week, which is good news. But which UCLA quarterback will the Ducks see? Kevin Prince, out four weeks with a broken jaw, is practicing. Omen alert: the Ducks’ last 3-0 start in the Pac-10, 2001, had a BCS finish (Fiesta).

3. There is no better tradition in college football than the Army-Navy postgame, when both teams stand in front of the respective student bodies and sing each alma mater. Maybe it will spread. Tulane coach Bob Toledo had his team stand with the Black Knights and sing after the Green Wave won, 17-16, at West Point last week. “I was doing it out of respect for them,” Toledo said. “I have great appreciation for those guys and what they stand for.” Very cool.

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Tulsa coach Todd Graham is being coy about naming a starting quarterback, not because he and his staff haven’t made a decision, but because the Golden Hurricane don’t want Tulane to know before kickoff.

“Every single person in that locker room knows who it is and so do we,” Graham said Monday during his weekly news conference. “There’s no reason for us to let anyone know that.”

G.J. Kinne, Jacob Bower and Shavodrick Beaver have been competing to replace senior David Johnson since the spring. Graham has given no hints about who the starting quarterback would be, though the Tulsa World did report that Kinne took the most reps last week.

Keeping the identity of the starting quarterback a secret makes the job of Tulane’s new defensive coordinator Steve Stanard that much more difficult. Although Tulsa has not changed its offense, all three of its quarterbacks bring different offensive looks to the field.

But unlike last season, Tulane said it’s not changing its defense to suit a certain team. It will be a 4-3 base and play to the strengths of its players rather than trying to adjust to the strengths of its competitors.

The Green Wave have gone away from man coverage and will play zone defense with some zone blitz to keep pressure on the quarterback. So far this preseason, the Green Wave have gotten more takeaways and are executing the basics better than they did last year.

“We tried to defend plays last year,” Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. “We were so confused. ... Every week we’d change and we never knew what we were doing. ... Now they’re lining up and playing because a thinking player doesn’t react.”

The Tulane defense will have a lot to react to when it finally figures out who it’s defending. All three quarterbacks have great arms and Beaver adds a rushing element that Tulsa hasn’t had in past seasons under Graham.

Bower completed 11 of 15 passes last season for 138 yards and a touchdown. Kinne, a transfer from Texas, ended his high school career with 11,695 passing yards and 130 touchdowns. Beaver, a true freshman, totaled 9,050 career passing yards and 125 touchdowns while rushing for 2,450 yards and 22 touchdowns in high school.

“There are a lot of unknowns going into this first game,” Graham said. “They know what we’re going to do. We’re going to do what we’ve done in the past in all three phases. They have to prepare for more than one [quarterback] because our guys are so different, the three guys that we’re looking at. There’s no reason to give them any advantage.”

Posted by's Ted Miller

A friendly warning: You know that stack of money you could be saving on your car insurance? You know: The one with big eyeballs. It bites.