NCF Nation: Chuck Long


MADISON, Wis. -- The game ended one debate and added intrigue to another.

Wisconsin's 45-7 dissection of Penn State left no doubt as to which is the best team in the Leaders division. After falling behind early, the Badgers outclassed the Nittany Lions, as they're prone to do in a building where they've now won 16 consecutive games. They earned the right to face Michigan State next week in the inaugural Big Ten championship game.

But the decisive victory only brought more uncertainty to a question Badgers players and coaches love to get asked even though few have an answer.

Who is the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year: quarterback Russell Wilson or running back Montee Ball?

[+] EnlargeRussell Wilson and Montee Ball
AP Photo/Morry GashWill Russell Wilson and Montee Ball end up sharing the Big Ten's top offensive player of the year honors?
"I'd split it," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "I don't know if there's ever been co-offensive MVPs off the same team. I don't know if that's ever been done, but I don't know how you can give it to one without the other."

It has happened once: Big Ten coaches voted Iowa quarterback Matt Rodgers and running back Nick Bell as co-Offensive Players of the Year in 1990. Will it happen again next week?

Wisconsin wouldn't be where it is without the contributions of Wilson and Ball, who are putting together the best combined quarterback-running back performance in a season in Big Ten history (more on that later). The senior quarterback and junior running back both sparkled again Saturday, having a hand in all six Wisconsin touchdowns against the nation's No. 8 defense. Wilson finished the game 19-of-29 passing for 186 yards and two touchdowns, while Ball recorded 156 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.

It's rare when one NCAA record is set in a game, much less two. How about two records by two players in the same half? Wilson and Ball delivered Saturday.

Ball's second rushing score late in the second quarter gave him 12 consecutive games with multiple touchdowns, breaking Barry Sanders' NCAA record of 11 straight games. Wilson's 21-yard touchdown strike to Jared Abbrederis in the first quarter gave him 36 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass, tying the NCAA record held by former Texas Tech star Graham Harrell.

Wilson's team single-season touchdown passes record stands at 28. Ball, meanwhile, has his sights set on a loftier mark, one thought to be unreachable. His four touchdowns Saturday give him 34 for the season, the second-most in NCAA history behind only Sanders' 39 scores in 1988.

"It's extremely rare," Wilson said of his and Ball's performances this season. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime type thing. You don't see it very often, but I think with Montee's ability to do a lot of different things, and then with my ability to throw the ball extremely well and to improvise when I have to, it's pretty dangerous."

You think?

Big Ten awards voting wraps up Sunday, and all-conference teams will be announced Monday night. The league's Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards are announced Wednesday afternoon, so the debate about Wilson vs. Ball will continue until then.

Don't expect much help from the Badgers.

"I'm very happy I don't have to make that decision," offensive lineman Travis Fredrick said.

"I couldn't say," added fellow offensive lineman Ryan Groy. "I'd be split between both of them."

Ball appeared to provide a definitive answer the first time I asked him.

"I'd pick myself," he said. "Of course, I'd pick myself."

But when asked during a video interview, Ball flip-flopped, saying he'd vote for "the pretty boy, Russell. Because what he brought to this team was a lot." When called out, Ball tried to backtrack, the first time all afternoon he had to.

Wilson was a bit more decisive.

"I'd definitely vote for Montee," he said.

While the debate carries on about which individual performance is superior, the combined effort from Ball and Wilson is more notable.

There's never been anything quite like it in Big Ten history. Wilson's passer rating of 192.9 this season keeps him on pace to break Colt Brennan's single-season NCAA record of 186. He should have no trouble breaking the Big Ten season record of 175.3 set by Michigan's Bob Chappuis in 1947.

Ball already has shattered the Big Ten season touchdowns mark of 26 and should finish among the league's top 10 in single-season rushing (he currently has 1,622).

While the Big Ten has witnessed better individual rushing and passing performances, the combined effort from Ball and Wilson stands alone in league annals. It's the best since Penn State's Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter 1994: Collins passed for 2,679 yards and had a quarterback rating of 172.8, which ranks second in Big Ten history; Carter rushed for 1,539 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Former Wisconsin coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez brought up Iowa's Chuck Long and Ronnie Harmon in 1985. They had impressive numbers -- Long racked up 3,297 pass yards, 27 touchdowns and a rating of 153.1; Harmon had 1,166 rush yards and nine touchdowns -- but not as impressive as the Wilson-Ball tandem.

"They're both really special," Alvarez told ESPN.com. "You only have one ball, so it's hard to have two guys with numbers like that."

It wasn't hard for Ball and Wilson to mesh. They play different positions and have different responsibilities, but they're driven in the same way.

"It goes back to how hard I worked in the offseason and how hard he worked when he got here," Ball said.

When Wilson arrived July 1, he told Ball he would compete to become one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

"He gravitated to that," Wilson said. "Every day in practice, we work together and communicate extremely well. Our desire to be great and to never be afraid to excel is something we definitely have in common."

For those arguing that Wisconsin and its stars feast on inferior competition, consider this: Ball racked up 495 rush yards and seven touchdowns and added two receiving scores against three top-10 defenses (Michigan State, Penn State and Illinois). While Wilson wasn't at his best in the Michigan State game, he still rallied his team brilliantly in the fourth quarter and stepped up against an excellent Penn State defense on Saturday, completing 15 of 21 passes for 149 yards in the first half.

"Two of the most complete players at their respective positions that I've ever seen play the game," Bielema said.

Wilson and Ball could share Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. One or both could earn an invitation to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation.

But the two are more focused on sharing a podium in two other places -- Indianapolis and Pasadena.
Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry famously dubbed quarterback Chuck Long "destined for greatness" after spring practice in 1982, before Long had started a game for the Hawkeyes.

Fry turned out to be right, but it was a statement from one of Long's other coaches that foreshadowed his long-term future in the sport.

Long was midway through his record-setting career at Iowa when he returned to his high school, Wheaton North in suburban Chicago, to assist with the school's summer football camp. Jim Rexilius, Wheaton North's Hall of Fame coach, noted the way Long taught and interacted with the players.

"After one camp, [Rexilius] said, 'You know, you oughta think about getting into coaching when you're done playing,'" Long recalled. "He knew I still had some years of playing, but he must have seen something in me.

"That’s when the first bug was put in my ear."

[+] EnlargeIowa's Chuck Long
Malcolm Emmons/US PRESSWIREChuck Long still holds Iowa records for passing, completions, touchdown passes and total offense for a game, a season and a career.
Nearly three decades later, Long is well into his coaching career. He's entering his second season as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Kansas. Long has made previous coaching stops at Iowa and Oklahoma, and served as San Diego State's head coach from 2006-08.

Rexilius might have planted the coaching seed in Long, but the quarterback didn't give it much thought as he proceeded to set Iowa, Big Ten and NCAA records during a spectacular career in Iowa City. It was only toward the end of an unremarkable NFL career that Long considered a future in coaching.

"The decision was which level to stay at, and I always enjoyed the collegiate level," Long said. "I wanted that. You make more of an impression at the collegiate level than you do at the professional level."

Long made a lasting impression at Iowa.

He still holds team records for passing, completions, touchdown passes and total offense for a game, a season and a career. His Big Ten records for both passing yards (10,461) and total offense (10,254) lasted 15 years, and he recorded 27 games of 200 passing yards or more. Long won the Maxwell Award (player of the year) in 1985 and finished second and seventh in Heisman Trophy voting in his final two seasons as a Hawkeye.

The former Iowa star is part of ESPN.com's Simply Saturday series, a weeklong look at 50 players who achieved record heights in college but didn't necessarily flourish at the NFL level.

Long recently took some time to discuss his playing and coaching career.

How much did college coaching have to do with your time as a player at Iowa?

Chuck Long: It definitely did. We had a great staff, and it was one of the best times in my life, being a collegiate football player and a student. The times we had at Iowa, the way we turned it around and were part of the building blocks at that school, the coaches made such an impression on me during that time, and I wanted to turn around and give that back. And I've enjoyed it ever since.

Were you putting feelers out there at the end of your NFL career about getting into coaching?

CL: Not really. I was ready to go through the entire year without being in football at all. This was springtime of 1995. I was prepared to go all the way through until January, until the [AFCA] convention. I started to research a little bit and ask people I knew all about coaching, but not real heavily at that point. I always had in the back of my mind that I was going to get picked up again in the NFL [laughs], but what happened was Hayden Fry had an opening in the middle of the summer, which is rare.

We had a mutual interest. I wanted to get into coaching and he wanted to get me into coaching at some point. And in the middle of the summer, it was hard for him to hire somebody else off another staff. So he broke me in. He hired me as the secondary coach. I coached the defensive backs for my first three years. I really admired him for doing that. He took a chance on me, hired me in the middle of the summer, and we had some good teams, good success.

What was it like coaching defensive backs after playing quarterback your whole career?

CL: If there's a defensive position that's more natural to me, it's that one. I learned a lot being on that side of the football. I just wanted to get in. Some of the advice I'd received was, 'Hey, don't worry about what you coach, just get in.' So I had that in the back of my head. That was an avenue to get in.

[+] EnlargeChuck Long
Stan Liu/Icon SMIChuck Long was the head coach at San Diego State for three seasons.
What has it been like going from assistant coach to head coach and now back to coordinator?

CL: It's been great for me. I've really welcomed being a position coach again after being a head coach. There's so much on that head coach's plate that doesn't deal with X's and O's, probably 80 percent of it. That part, I don't miss. I'm glad to be back to play calling, to game planning, to coaching quarterbacks full time in terms of the football aspect. So I welcomed it again. I do aspire to be a head coach again at some point in time, but I'm not in a hurry.

When you're a head coach, you just don't get around those players as much, like you want to. There's times where you feel alone out there. I like being the mentor again. That's my strength and I'm glad I'm playing to it right now.

Are there lessons you can take from that first head-coaching stint?

CL: Having gone through it, I would ask some different questions initially before I take a job. That's going to be really important to me. There's some things I know what to look for in taking the next job. You learn from any situation, whether it's negative or positive. I certainly learned from that, but again, I'm excited to be back as an assistant. I'm in no hurry. The right job has to come along; I'm not going to just take any job.

How often do people come up to you and ask you about your playing career at Iowa?

CL: Ever since I've been at Kansas, I've been asked about it a lot more; I'm getting a lot more letters about it. I think because there's a lot more Iowa fans in the Kansas City area, being a little bit closer to Iowa. And I'm able to go back there because I'm not very far away, and that's been good. And as you know, the stories grow [laughs]. It goes from four touchdowns to five touchdowns. I think I'm up to six or seven touchdowns in one game.

You're not correcting them, right?

CL: Yeah, I don't stop them. I just let it grow.

What stands out most about your time in Iowa City?

CL: The first thing was just being part of the building blocks of that program, turning something around that had been dormant for 20 years prior. That was a special time. Going to all the bowl games, beating Texas in the first Freedom Bowl in 1984. It stands out basically because of Hayden Fry. Hayden's from Texas, and that was one of his great victories. We felt it when we won, and we did it for him.

And my senior year, we won a Big Ten championship and we went to the Rose Bowl. That was always a dream of ours when we were freshmen together. And then we beat Michigan, we were No. 1, they were No. 2, on a last-second field goal in Kinnick Stadium. That was really for the fans, as loud as they were the whole game. What it was like afterward, I'll never forget. And then going to the Rose Bowl that year. Those were the big moments.

When you talk to your players now, do you talk more about your time at Iowa or your time in the NFL?

CL: I mix it up and tell them certain stories, certain examples I had in those times. Experience is a great teacher, and so I use those experiences to tell them, "Hey, even though things have changed over time, some things remain the same." You've still got to be disciplined in the things you do. It all gets back to fundamentals. We all hear that word and teach that word, but it always gets back to that.

Was it really different for you coming to Iowa as a lightly recruited player versus the NFL, when you were a No. 1 pick?

CL: Oh, sure. I've always lived for the moment. I set goals, but I just try to take each day and make the best of it. Coming out of high school, I was not highly recruited, and I worked hard at it. I worked hard at teaching myself the game of football when I went to Iowa, and I tried to do it with humility. And when you do it with humility, you work harder. As soon as you get cocky and think you know it all, then so-and-so creeps up on you and beats you out. So I always went with that approach.
Spring football is in full swing. Three teams from the Big 12 (Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas) are already done, and the last team in the Big 12 to start (Kansas State) kicked off on Wednesday.

That leaves seven teams in the Big 12 on the field, but who's coaching them? We've had plenty of teams shift coordinators this season, so here's a quick refresher if you've been busy following basketball since the season ended and the coaching carousel began spinning.

BAYLOR

Defensive coordinator: Phil Bennett. He replaces Brian Norwood, who moved to associate head coach and secondary coach. Bennett was previously the defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh, where he coordinated the nation's No. 8 defense.

KANSAS

Offensive coordinator: David Beaty. He spent a year at Rice, but returned to Kansas to coach receivers and serve as co-offensive coordinator alongside Chuck Long. He replaces Darrell Wyatt, who left to coach receivers at Texas. Long retained play-calling duties.

OKLAHOMA

Offensive coordinator: Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell. They'll share offensive coordinator duties, with Heupel calling the plays. He did so during the Sooners' 48-20 win over Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl. They'll replace Kevin Wilson, who left to become the head coach at Indiana. Heupel will continue to coach quarterbacks as he has since 2006. Norvell will continue to coach receivers as he has since 2008.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Offensive coordinator: Todd Monken. He'll replace Dana Holgorsen, who took over as offensive coordinator at West Virginia and is scheduled to replace Bill Stewart as the head coach in 2012. Monken previously coached receivers for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

TEXAS

Offensive coordinator: Bryan Harsin. He spent a decade at Boise State and five years as offensive coordinator, and will replace Greg Davis, the longtime coordinator under Mack Brown who resigned after the 2010 season.

Defensive coordinator: Manny Diaz. Another young coach, Diaz was at Middle Tennessee State in 2009 and coordinated the defense at Mississippi State under Dan Mullen last season. He replaces Will Muschamp, who left to become head coach at Florida.

TEXAS TECH

Defensive coordinator: Chad Glasgow. Previously the secondary coach at TCU, Glasgow helped the Horned Frogs win the Rose Bowl last year and parlayed his recent excellence into a coordinator gig in Lubbock, where he'll replace James Willis, who left the program in December, before the Red Raiders beat Northwestern in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl.
The house of pain is in effect y'all
I say the house of pain is in effect
You know the house of pain is in effect y'all
And anyone that steps up is gettin' wrecked


And, with those poetic lines from Everlast, we enter the Big Ten's House of Pain. All week at ESPN.com, we're exploring the most-painful losses in a team's history. What constitutes pain? First, the game has to be significant. A rough loss in a going-nowhere year doesn't sting as much as one that prevented a team from reaching its ultimate goals.

Painful losses often happen against rivals. Painful losses often have especially painful endings. Painful losses often take place at the worst possible times. Although blowout defeats certainly can qualify as painful, losses that culminate with crunch-time turnovers, field goal makes or misses or generally bizarre plays usually stick out more.

The most important criteria: painful losses linger for you, the fans.

Trust me, this wasn't easy, and I know many of you will disagree with the choices. But I only got to pick one game for each Big Ten team. A special thanks to the Big Ten sports information staffs for helping me with the project.

Here goes ...

ILLINOIS
Date:
Nov. 3, 1990
Opponent: Iowa
Site: Memorial Stadium (Champaign, Ill.)
Final score: Iowa 54, Illinois 28

After winning a Citrus Bowl championship the previous January, Illinois entered the 1990 season with raised expectations. The Illini lost the opener but won their next six, rising to No. 5 in the national rankings. They had big dreams, but rival Iowa changed everything by crushing them in front of their own fans at Memorial Stadium. John Mackovic's team had no answer for Iowa's Nick Bell, who rushed for 168 yards. After allowing one touchdown in its opponents' previous 49 possessions, Illinois watched Iowa reach the end zone on its first five drives. Illinois' 2000 loss to Michigan deserves honorable mention.

INDIANA
Date:
Nov. 7, 1988
Opponent: Illinois
Site: Memorial Stadium (Champaign, Ill.)
Final score: Illinois 21, Indiana 20

Indiana went to Champaign ranked No. 20 nationally and boasting a 4-1 mark in Big Ten play after a win against Iowa. The Hoosiers seemingly had the game in hand, up 20-9 with less than four minutes remaining. But Illinois quarterback Jeff George, an Indianapolis native who attended Indiana's archrival Purdue before transferring, led the comeback and fired a touchdown pass with 21 seconds left. Illinois' drive came after Indiana quarterback Dave Schnell fumbled on a bootleg. The loss took Indiana out of the race for the Big Ten championship. Indiana's most painful moment came against Anthony Carter and Michigan in 1979.

IOWA
Date:
Jan. 1, 1986
Opponent: UCLA
Site: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Final Score: UCLA 45, Iowa 28

Iowa felt the pain both for what happened during the game and what happened soon afterward. Maxwell Award winner Chuck Long led the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes into Pasadena, but he was sacked four times by the Bruins. Tailback Ronnie Harmon had a miserable day, fumbling four times after doing so just once all season and dropping a wide-open touchdown pass. Some believed Harmon threw the game. An Iowa win could have led to a national championship after No. 1 Penn State and No. 2 Miami both lost in their bowl games.

MICHIGAN
Date:
Nov. 24, 1973
Opponent: Ohio State
Site: Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Final score: Ohio State 10, Michigan 10

Michigan has had its share of painful losses -- Appalachian State, Ohio State in 2006, Colorado in 1994 -- but this tie with the hated Buckeyes really stung the Maize and Blue. The game featured its share of pain, as Michigan rallied from a 10-0 deficit to tie things up, but missed two field goals in the closing moments. The controversy really started afterward, as Big Ten athletic directors voted that Ohio State should play in the Rose Bowl ahead of Michigan. The Big Ten's no-repeat rule had been scrapped just two years earlier. Michigan coach Bo Schembechler called the decision "an embarrassment to the Big Ten Conference" and stewed about it until his death in 2006.

MICHIGAN STATE
Date:
Jan. 1, 1966
Opponent: UCLA
Site: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Final score: UCLA 14, Michigan State 12

The Spartans came to Pasadena undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. UCLA jumped ahead as the Spartans coughed up the ball four times in the first half. Still, Michigan State had a chance and outgained UCLA 314-212 in the game. The Spartans rallied and scored with less than a minute left, setting up a potential tying two-point conversion attempt. But fullback Bob Apisa was stopped short of the goal line by UCLA's Bob Stiles, who knocked himself out making the tackle. Alabama was awarded the AP national title. Michigan State's 2006 loss to Notre Dame and 1966 tie against the Irish deserve honorable mention.

MINNESOTA
Date:
Oct. 10, 2003
Opponent: Michigan
Site: Metrodome (Minneapolis)
Final score: Michigan 38, Minnesota 35

Minnesota was 6-0 and entered the Little Brown Jug rivalry ranked No. 17 nationally. Led by tailbacks Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney, Minnesota led 28-7 after three quarters and 35-21 with 11:11 left. But Michigan couldn't be stopped in the fourth quarter and scored 31 points in the final 15 minutes, capped by Garrett Rivas' field goal with 47 seconds left. Minnesota rushed for 424 yards but still felt short. The Gophers arguably have never been the same. No Big Ten team has more painful losses than Minny.

NORTHWESTERN
Date:
Nov. 11, 2000
Opponent: Iowa
Site: Kinnick Stadium
Final score: Iowa 27, Northwestern 17

Northwestern has seen huge leads evaporate (Michigan State in 2006), suffered shocking early losses (Miami University in 1995) and come very close to ending its bowl drought the past two seasons. But Rose Bowl opportunities don't come around too often for the Wildcats, and they squandered one by falling to Iowa. A week after an unforgettable win against Michigan and ranked No. 12 nationally, Northwestern was totally outplayed by a Hawkeyes team that went 3-9. On a day when Purdue opened a path to Pasadena with a loss to Michigan State, the Wildcats stumbled on the doorstep.

OHIO STATE
Date:
Nov. 22, 1969
Opponent: Michigan
Site: Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Final score: Michigan 24, Ohio State 12

The Buckeyes brought one of their greatest teams ever to "that state up North" to face a Michigan team regaining respectability under first-year coach Bo Schembechler. Although Michigan played at home and carried a four-game win streak into The Game, Ohio State was a 17-point favorite. The Buckeyes scored a quick touchdown but never really recovered, as a Michigan team inspired by Schembechler and a 50-14 loss the year before shut down Rex Kern and Co. Ohio State committed seven turnovers and suffered one of the biggest upsets in college football history. It also spawned the Ten-Year War between Schembechler and Woody Hayes. Ohio State's 1998 loss to Michigan State merits honorable mention.

PENN STATE
Date:
Nov. 6, 1999
Opponent: Minnesota
Site: Beaver Stadium (State College, Pa.)
Final score: Minnesota 24, Penn State 23

Undefeated Penn State looked every bit like a national championship team, rising to No. 2 in the polls behind freakish defenders like LaVar Arrington and Courtney Brown. The Nittany Lions held a two-point advantage when Joe Paterno decided to punt rather than attempt a long field goal try in the closing minutes, trusting his dominant defense. Minnesota began the game's decisive drive with a Hail Mary pass from Billy Cockerham to Ron Johnson. Moments later, the Gophers converted a fourth-and-16 to set up the game-winning field goal by freshman kicker Dan Nystrom. Penn State lost its final two regular-season games. The Lions' 1979 Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama and their 2005 loss to Michigan gain honorable mention.

PURDUE
Date:
Oct. 16, 2004
Opponent: Wisconsin
Site: Ross-Ade Stadium (West Lafayette, Ind.)
Final score: Wisconsin 20, Purdue 17

Purdue's program hasn't been the same since The Fumble. The Boilers came in 5-0 and ranked fifth nationally, while quarterback Kyle Orton had established himself as the Heisman Trophy front-runner. Purdue led 17-7 with eight minutes left and had a three-point advantage and the ball with 2:49 remaining. On third-and-3, Orton scrambled and made a lunge for the first down, only to have the ball knocked loose. Wisconsin's Scott Starks scooped it up and raced 40 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 2:36 left. Purdue lost its next three games and backslid to the Sun Bowl, where it fell to Arizona State.

WISCONSIN
Date:
Oct. 23, 1993
Opponent: Minnesota
Site: Metrodome (Minneapolis)
Final score: Minnesota 28, Wisconsin 21

Wisconsin might have celebrated a national championship had it found a way to beat the rival Golden Gophers. The Badgers were 6-0 heading to the Metrodome but fell behind 21-0 to a Minnesota team that went 4-7 that fall. Wisconsin closed to within 21-14 and reached the Minnesota 8-yard line before Brent Moss was stuffed on fourth-and-1. The Badgers went on to share a Big Ten championship and reach the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1963, but they were so close to winning it all. Honorable mentions include 1999 against Cincinnati, 1998 against Michigan and 2005 against Iowa in Barry Alvarez's final game.

Five to watch in Big 12 spring practices

February, 8, 2010
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Spring is a pivotal time for all players across the Big 12.

But several have the opportunity to really make a push for playing time in the fall during spring practices.

Here's a look at five players who could be ready to challenge for playing time this spring.

Kansas quarterback Quinn Mecham: New Kansas offensive coordinator Chuck Long personally recruited him to the Kansas program, meaning he'll get a legitimate shot to win the starting job this spring in a battle with Kale Pick. Mecham threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season at Snow College. He had the kind of moxie that Long thinks will make him a productive player and an immediate contributor for the Jayhawks.

Oklahoma linebacker Tom Wort: A fast early start had him in contention for a starting job with the Sooners before he sustained a season-ending knee injury last August. His recovery has been complete and he should be in the mix for the vacant starting job at middle linebacker this spring for the Sooners.

Kansas State quarterback/running back Chris Harper: The Oregon transfer and Wichita native moved to be closer to home and for a shot at quarterback. The field is crowded with the Wildcats, but Harper's athleticism might give him the opportunity to play particularly with Bill Snyder's interest in Wildcat formations.

Nebraska offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick: The 6-foot-7, 315-pound former LSU commitment and transfer from Fort Scott Community College could contend for immediate playing time with a strong spring effort. Nebraska coaches love his size and his tenacity as he already shown well in early conditioning drills.

Baylor offensive lineman Robert Griffin: All eyes will be on the recovery of quarterback Robert Griffin, as he recovers from knee surgery. But Baylor coaches are also eager to have "Big" Robert Griffin playing for them as well. His experience at Navarro Junior College and his size (6-foot-6, 345-pounds) should enable him to immediately contend for the starting job at right tackle.
Less than a month after former San Diego State coach Chuck Long settled his contract with his former school, he’s been invited take another job.

Long will join new head coach Turner Gill as the offensive coordinator at Kansas.

Long, who didn’t coach this past year after being fired by San Diego State, was not the best head coach. He went 9-27 in his three seasons with the Aztecs. But he was a great offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. Long was the Sooners quarterbacks coach (2000-05) and offensive coordinator (2002-05) under coach Bob Stoops and helped Jason White to a Heisman Trophy. He helped three Oklahoma players to the top three in Heisman voting. While Long was at Oklahoma, the Sooners were 67-11, won a national title, three Big 12 championships and four Big 12 South Division title and OU went to six consecutive bowl games.

While Long will be introduced as Kansas’ offensive coordinator today, his association with San Diego State does not officially end until Dec. 31, 2009. However, SDSU will continue to pay Long through 2010. In a settlement finalized in November, San Diego State agreed to pay Long $715,000 through Dec. 31, 2010, minus any salary, compensation or income from any other employment or contracted services.

It is unclear how much Long will be making at Kansas, but former Kansas offensive coordinator Ed Warriner was the highest paid assistant at $306,100 per year.

SDSU settles with Chuck Long

November, 20, 2009
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San Diego State and Chuck Long have reached a settlement, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Long was fired in November 2008, but the school still had him on the payroll. Now, the association with the school will end Dec. 31, 2009. According to the story, Long will be paid $715,000, minus any salary, compensation or income from any other employment or contracted services during 2010.

The settlement is almost the same as Long’s current contract, which was to pay him $715,000 through Dec. 31, 2010. The only difference is that compensation from other employment would be deducted from his SDSU salary.
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday that former San Diego State offensive lineman Lance Louis is facing a possible felony battery charge for allegedly beating current starting safety Nick Sandford in a team meeting room Nov. 5.

Sandford suffered a concussion, a broken eardrum and a fractured cheekbone.

According to the Union-Tribune, Sandford's father, Paul, said former coach Chuck Long refused to discipline Louis, stating that Long was concerned about what would happen to SDSU's quarterback if he lost one of his key blockers. Paul Sanford also said Long told him that he didn't want to ruin Louis' chances in the NFL.

Louis went on to start the final three games of the season. The Chicago Bears drafted him in the seventh round. Nick Sandford's injuries caused him to miss the final three games.

The incident wasn't reported to police until Nov. 20, two days before Long was fired.

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Stories that don't have anything to do with the BCS.

• Several past and present athletic directors from the nonautomatic qualifying schools have been tossed around as potential candidates for the Marshall AD opening.

• There's concern that the NCAA's new rules for eligibility might bring about cheating.

• I know I said no BCS stories, but this also tackles the fairness of the NCAA in general.

• Wyoming is getting a makeover with new brown and white jerseys from Nike instead of New Balance.

• BYU is working toward its third Mountain West title in the past four seasons.

• Jacob Messer of the Charleston Daily Mail writes that if former Marshall recruit A.J. Graham is innocent, he deserves his scholarship back.

• Former San Diego State coach Chuck Long continues to earn $715,900 per year through Dec. 31, 2010 and SDSU has hired a consultant to work a settlement.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Try reading these links wearing a tuxedo. It will almost make you feel like you're present at the inaugural ball tonight.

  • Sam Bradford's dad, Kent, tells the Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff that his son was never close to leaving college football for the NFL.
  • Incoming freshmen wide receiver recruits Erick McGriff and Chris Omigie provide much-needed size to Kansas' wide receiving corps, the Daily Kansan's Stephen Montemayor writes.
  • The Lincoln Journal-Star's Steve Sipple caught up with former Nebraska I-back Marlon Lucky to talk about his big performance in Saturday's East-West Shrine game.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that Miami defensive coordinator Bill Young could double his salary if he accepts the reported $700,000 per year deal that Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is offering him to join the Cowboys as defensive coordinator. And the Daily Oklahoman's Scott Wright reports that Young "is torn" by the Oklahoma State offer, considering his wife is from Oklahoma and he is a graduate of the school.
  • Dave Krieger of the Rocky Mountain News imagines what could have been if Texas and USC had met in a championship game to cap a meaningful college football playoff system.
  • Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com lists former Kansas State head coach Ron Prince and former San Diego State coach and one-time Oklahoma offensive coordinator Chuck Long in the mix for Miami's vacant offensive coordinator position. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

I'm back in Chicago, so these links are served cold. 

"'It's not good enough,' he said. 'We needed to win that game. We did hang with them, and we should have had them.'

In no uncertain terms, Pryor is setting the tone for next season, which will be his first full year as the starter."

"It has been slow to accept the fact it is down, down, down. That's fitting because Big Ten teams have been slow to react to the changes in college football, especially the trend toward fast-paced, speed-based offenses."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Not too many 34-year-old's can call themselves Hall of Famers, so Pat Fitzgerald is already unique in that way.

But the Northwestern head coach joined extremely select company Tuesday when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

 
 Albert Dickson/TSN/Icon SMI
 Pat Fitzgerald was National Defensive Player of the Year in 1995 and 1996.

Fitzgerald and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier are the only two active FBS coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Both obviously entered the Hall as players, Spurrier having won the Heisman Trophy at Florida in 1966 and Fitzgerald earning back-to-back National Defensive Player of the Year awards as a linebacker at Northwestern in 1995 and 1996.

Fitzgerald's new title should come in handy on the recruiting trail. 

Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long, a 1999 Hall of Fame inductee, held the same distinction as Fitzgerald and Spurrier before being fired as San Diego State's head coach on Nov. 22

Only three people have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as both players and coaches. 

  • Bobby Dodd, who went in as a Tennessee quarterback in 1959 and as Georgia Tech head coach in 1993.
  • Bowden Wyatt, who went in as a Tennessee end in 1972 and as coach at Wyoming, Arkansas and Tennessee in 1997.
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg, who went in as a Yale end and as coach at Springfield, University of Chicago and Pacific in 1951.

There are two current NFL head coaches -- the 49ers' Mike Singletary and the Rams' Jim Haslett -- who were inducted into the College Hall of Fame as players.

SDSU's Long to be fired Sunday

November, 23, 2008
11/23/08
3:12
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
Long

San Diego State coach Chuck Long appears to be the next non-BCS coach to be shown the door this season.

According to ESPN.com's Joe Schad, Long's firing will be announced at a news conference at 4 p.m. ET. I'll post quotes from the news conference as soon as I get them.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The worst scheduling week in Big 12 history might be approaching.

Four Big 12 teams will be playing opponents from the Football Championship Subdivision in contests that have euphemistically been termed by many coaches as "body-bag games."

Coaches of those FCS schools know what they have to do in these games. Mainly, collect a big check and hope they emerge out of the game relatively unscathed for the rest of the season.

A 12-game season makes these games more necessary for the big boys from the Football Bowl Series, even if they aren't necessarily appealing, according to Texas coach Mack Brown.

"It's probably better if we didn't," Brown said, "but I don't know if it's possible right now."

Brown knows about these games after once coaching at Division I-AA Appalachian State, which then played two games against Division I-A teams as financial salvation for the rest of the school's athletic department.

"As tough as it is with the score and kids being mismatched sometimes," Brown said, "it is a positive for the university from the standpoint of exposure.

"And a lot of the kids I've talked to like the experience of going into big stadiums, even though they lose."

But try telling that to fans who pay full price, with increasing full costs, to travel to stadiums in order to watch these glorified exhibitions.

The difference is more than just the 22 extra scholarships that the FBS teams have -- 85 scholarship athletes on a roster compared to 63 for FCS teams.

During the first week of the season, FBS teams went 31-1 against their siblings from the FCS. The lone FCS victory was Cal-Poly's 29-27 triumph over San Diego State, coached by former Oklahoma assistant Chuck Long.

Baylor, Colorado, Kansas State and Missouri can only hope not to join the Aztecs on that dubious list this week.

Until then, here are a few morning links that are always competitive.

  • Colorado can't afford a reprise of the last visit by a Football Championship Series when Eastern Washington visits on Saturday. The Buffaloes lost 19-10 to Montana State in their 2006 opener. "It's almost surreal when you look back and you think about it," DT George Hypolite told the Boulder Camera.
  • Texas A&M may consider a change in kickers after Richie Bean shanked two short attempts in the Aggies' loss to Arkansas State last week.
  • Natalie England of the San Antonio Express-News writes about Texas QB Colt McCoy's emergence as a running threat.
  • We now know who wears the pants in Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's family. If you don't believe it, check the 7:43 mark of this Oklahoman video to find out.
  • Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star writes about the development of Nebraska LB Cody Glenn and QB Joe Ganz, two seniors who have hardly played most of their college careers.
  • Oklahoma WR Manny Johnson is filling the void after Malcolm Kelly's departure to the NFL.
  • The Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter writes about improvement necessary for Missouri's leaky secondary, which allowed Juice Williams to squeeze them for 451 passing yards.
  • Missouri beat writer Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star writes and has video on the development of Missouri TB Derrick Washington.
  • Baylor CB Dwain Crawford, a converted safety, tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dwain Price about his enjoyment of his new position's challenges.
  • Des Moines Register beat writer Andrew Logue chats about Iowa State's extra rest from playing on Thursday, the Cyclones' memories of Kent State from last season and the Cyclones' looming rivalry game against Iowa next week.
  • Iowa State RB J.J. Bass will suit up for his first game this season after being suspended for the opener.
  • Kansas coach Mark Mangino isn't expecting Louisiana Tech to be a cupcake.
  • Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant's athleticism makes him effective in jump-ball situations.
  • Texas Tech inside receivers coach Lincoln Riley is responsible for providing Mike Leach reports from the press box. It's not a surprising evolution, considering Riley has been Leach's right-hand man since he was 19 and helping coach quarterbacks as a student assistant.
  • Kansas State's passing game was effective -- as QB Josh Freeman predicted before the start of the season -- even without graduated WR Jordy Nelson.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Here's a look at 10 players who earned the title of "Captain Clutch" during their Big Ten careers:

Anthony Carter, WR, Michigan [1979-82] -- Carter was only a freshman when he played a part in one of the greatest plays in Michigan history, hauling in a 45-yard touchdown pass as time expired to beat Indiana in 1979. The wideout/return man had 37 touchdown receptions in three seasons.

Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State [1991-94] -- Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, and Collins made his mark the next year. He led the Nittany Lions to a 12-0 record, which included three road victories (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois) by seven points or fewer. 

Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin [1996-99] -- The NCAA's all-time rushing leader made his mark in big games, winning back-to-back Rose Bowl MVP awards after rushing for 246 yards and 200 yards in Badger victories. Dayne also had a 246-yard effort in his first bowl appearance, a Cotton Bowl win against Utah. 

Bob Griese, QB, Purdue [1964-66] -- Griese's near-flawless performance in Purdue's upset of No. 1 Notre Dame in 1965 stands as one of the greatest in team history. The next year he led the Boilermakers to their first Rose Bowl appearance and a 14-13 win against USC.

Brian Griese, QB, Michigan [1994-97] -- After coming off the bench to rally the Wolverines past Ohio State in 1996, Griese cemented himself as a clutch quarterback the next season. He led Michigan to a 12-0 record and a national championship, winning five games by 10 points or fewer, including a 21-16 triumph over Washington State in the Rose Bowl.

Jim Harbaugh, QB, Michigan [1983-86] -- Considered by many to be the best quarterback in school history, Harbaugh led Michigan to a 27-23 win against Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. He won four games by three points or fewer as a senior.

Nile Kinnick, RB, Iowa [1937-39] -- The stadium is named after him for a reason. Kinnick did it all for Iowa, including a 63-yard punt that pinned No. 1 Notre Dame at the 6-yard line in a 7-6 Hawkeyes win in 1939.

Craig Krenzel, QB, Ohio State [2000-03] -- He took heat for his arm strength, but no one could question his late-game toughness. The two-time Fiesta Bowl MVP led Ohio State to a national title in 2002 with his arm and his legs. 

Chuck Long, QB, Iowa [1981-85] -- A dramatic fourth-down touchdown run against Michigan State kicked off a memorable 1985 season for the Hawkeyes and Long, who many believe should have won the Heisman Trophy. Two weeks later, Long rallied Iowa past Michigan.

Mike Nugent, PK, Ohio State [2001-04] -- Record-setting kicker was nearly unshakable under pressure. He kicked game-tying and game-winning field goals to beat Purdue in overtime in 2003, and his game-winning 55-yard kick against Marshall stands out in an otherwise forgettable 2004 season.

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