NCF Nation: Cincinnati Bearcats

The Belk Bowl unfolded quickly as North Carolina jumped out to an early lead over Cincinnati and never looked back Saturday, running away with a 39-17 win. Here's how it all happened:

It was over when: Can a game be over almost as soon as it begins? North Carolina started off as strong as conceivably possible, scoring the game's first touchdown on a 2-yard run from Romar Morris with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter. Just three minutes later, the Tar Heels delivered what proved to be a debilitating series of jabs as Kareem Martin got the sack-safety and T.J. Logan followed that up by taking the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a score, resulting in a 9-point swing. Cincinnati showed some life in the second half, but the 16-point deficit was ultimately too much to overcome.

Game ball goes to: Even without Blake Anderson calling plays, North Carolina didn't miss a beat. Marquise Williams executed the offense in perfect tandem with head coach Larry Fedora, who subbed in while his former offensive coordinator was off starting his own head-coaching career at Arkansas State. Williams, a talented sophomore, spread the ball around in the air, completing passes to seven different receivers while rushing for 46 yards. He finished the game with 171 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions on 19-of-33 passing.

Unsung hero: Make no mistake, North Carolina won the Belk Bowl in the trenches. A tip of the cap should go to both the offensive and defensive lines. The Tar Heels wouldn't have jumped out to such a big lead without the defense providing four sacks and three three-and-outs in the first half. Cincinnati's line entered the game having allowed 12 sacks all season, but UNC wound up with five on the day. UNC's offensive line, meanwhile, allowed for a balanced offensive attack, with 171 yards through the air and 174 yards on the ground.

Stat of the game: North Carolina got the monkey off its back by finally not rejecting some good old-fashioned home cooking. The Tar Heels won a bowl game in their home state for the first time after losing the three previous bowl games they played in Charlotte. Ryan Switzer, meanwhile, managed to tie an NCAA record by returning his fifth punt for a touchdown this season. Where many would have called for a fair catch in the third quarter against the Bearcats, Switzer hung in, caught the ball with a number of defenders in the vicinity and weaved upfield 85 yards for the score.

What North Carolina learned: Fedora taught his Tar Heels that it's not how you start but how you finish. Ending the season with six wins in seven games was impressive. Getting above .500 after starting off the year 1-5 was incredible. The hope for North Carolina is that the momentum coming out of the Belk Bowl will carry over into next season and such a furious surge won't be necessary to reach the postseason again. With Williams, freshman tailback Logan, freshman receiver Switzer and sophomore receivers T.J. Thorpe and Quinshad Davis all returning to Chapel Hill, the future is bright.

What Cincinnati learned: The Bearcats, on the other hand, end the season on a sour note. The momentum of winning six straight games late in the year was almost entirely wiped out after losing in overtime against Louisville on Dec. 5 and then getting blown out by North Carolina on Saturday. Next season will be tough for head coach Tommy Tuberville, as he will be without senior quarterback Brendon Kay and the quarterback of the defense in senior linebacker Greg Blair. But with the much-traveled redshirt freshman transfer quarterback Gunner Kiel entering the fold, there's reason for optimism. The former No. 3-ranked quarterback in the 2012 class has all the tools to do well in the Bearcats' spread offense.

To watch the trophy presentation of the Belk Bowl, click here.

Cincinnati Bearcats season preview

August, 23, 2013
Cincinnati Bearcats

Coach: Tommy Tuberville (130-77 overall, first season at Cincinnati)

2012 record: 10-3

Key losses: RB George Winn, TE Travis Kelce

Key returnees: LB Greg Blair, QB Brendon Kay, OT Eric Lefeld

Newcomer to watch: K Tony Milano

Biggest games in 2013: at Rutgers (Nov. 16), vs. Louisville (Dec. 5)

[+] EnlargeTommy Tuberville
AP Photo/Al BehrmanOne of Tommy Tuberville's challenges will be deciding how to use senior quarterbacks Brendon Kay and Munchie Legaux.
Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The Bearcats have the luxury of two successful senior quarterbacks, but figuring out how to use them could be tricky for Tuberville in his first season at Cincinnati. Tuberville said Kay is the starter after he went 4-1 in the last five games and led Cincy to a win over Duke in the Belk Bowl. But Kay and Munchie Legaux will split time, at least initially. Is Tuberville embracing South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s signature two-quarterback system, or will he stick with the quarterback who separates himself early in the season?

Forecast: Cincinnati has won four conference championships in the last five years, and the inaugural American Athletic season will be a two-horse race between the Bearcats and Louisville. The Cardinals are the AAC favorites, but Cincinnati stole two first-place votes from them and were picked to finish second. The two likely will play for the conference championship on Dec. 5, the last game of the regular season for both teams. Last year’s Keg of Nails went to overtime when Cincinnati rallied with a minute left in regulation, but the Cardinals escaped with the win. To be in contention at the end of the season, the Bearcats will need to take care of a critical conference matchup at Rutgers on Nov. 16.

Cincinnati will miss Kelce, a third-round NFL draft pick this past April, on offense, but Kay and Legaux are experienced passers with an offensive line that boasts two All-Big East first-team selections in Lefeld and Austen Bujnoch. Ralph David Abernathy got 366 rushing yards on 69 carries behind Winn last season, but he shined on kickoff returns. He’ll be the No. 1 option at running back this season.

Blair will be an All-America contender this season, leading the team in tackles last season. The Bearcats will miss Dan Giordano as a pass-rusher, but defensive tackle Mitch Meador and nose tackle Jordan Stepp return to the interior defensive line.

Having coached in the SEC and Big-12, Tuberville is used to high expectations placed on his team, and with veteran players at key positions, Cincinnati looks poised to deliver on those.

“Cincinnati has been one of the bright spots in college football for the past six or seven years, four times winning 10 games,” Tuberville said. “That doesn't happen very often. … And so being at Cincinnati for me, I'm excited to try to keep it going and improve it.”
1. The American Athletic Conference has taken a lot of heat since its inception. The league is losing its automatic-qualifier status after this season. But the one thing the American has is good, veteran coaches. Four of the league's coaches -- June Jones of SMU, George O’Leary of UCF, Paul Pasqualoni of Connecticut and Tommy Tuberville of Cincinnati – have won at least 100 games. Only the SEC has more with five, and that’s actually a lower percentage (5-of-14, 35.7 percent) than the American (4-of-10, 40 percent).

2. The rise of freshman walk-on quarterback Baker Mayfield at Texas Tech brings to mind two points. One, Mayfield played high school football at Austin's Lake Travis High, as sophisticated a prep program as there is anywhere. That explains his maturity. Two, when a new coach comes in with new systems, the depth chart becomes wide open. Mayfield has gotten a closer look because sophomore Michael Brewer is day-to-day with a back injury.

3. At first glance, the announcements in the last few days that bowl games are starting next season in the Bahamas, Boca Raton, Fla., and Montgomery, Ala., make no sense. There are 35 bowls this season, and 6-6 teams are needed to fill them. However, in the next couple of years, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, and Charlotte are moving up to FBS, increasing the membership to 129. More teams? More bowls.
1. Bowl games don’t always present the crispest form of football, not after teams have sat for a month. But since both teams are dealing with rust, sometimes we are lucky enough to watch what we saw in the Belk Bowl on Thursday night. Duke and Cincinnati each blew double-digit leads before the Bearcats scored two touchdowns in the final 80 seconds to win 48-34. Sometimes, crisp isn’t necessary.

2. Move over, Mike Riley. The Oregon State head coach is renowned for the improvement that his teams show from the beginning of the season to the end. Look at what Art Briles is doing at Baylor. After the Bears defeated No. 17 UCLA, 49-26, in the Holiday Bowl on Thursday night, Baylor finished by winning five of its final six games, three against ranked opponents. Throw in 2011, and Baylor is 5-1 against ranked teams in November and December.

3. Stanford offensive line coach Mike Bloomgren has worked in Division II and worked in the NFL. He calls the No. 6 Cardinal’s run to the Pac-12 Conference championship in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year “probably the most gratifying season I’ve ever had in coaching.” Bloomgren expected a good season, but not this. With an inexperienced quarterback and little in the way of veteran depth, “I was hoping we’d win our share,” he said.

Jones says 'No' to Colorado

December, 6, 2012
The Colorado coaching search continues as Cincinnati's Butch Jones has declined an offer to replace Jon Embree in Boulder.

It has been reported that Jones was offered a five-year, $13.5 million deal this week.

So what's Plan B? From the Boulder Daily Camera:
Colorado officials are likely to contact San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre or Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter, though DeRuyter has been a head coach for only one year and might not have the experience CU desires in its next head coach.

Athletic director Mike Bohn and his bosses have a list of targets that also could include former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, but its unclear if Tedford would have interest in the job. Earlier in Colorado's search process, a source who had spoken to Tedford said the coach viewed Colorado as a difficult place to win. Tedford was fired at Cal three weeks ago after the Bears finished the season 3-9.

It's never good to get publicly turned down by your first choice. And based on a false report from one newspaper that Jones had accepted the offer, this was a very public rejection.

But Buffs fans shouldn't get too worked up. Arizona State and UCLA both had bumbling coaching searches last year and things appear -- at least based on Year 1 -- to have turned out OK.

MacIntyre and DeRuyter are probably better fits anyway than Jones, who has no West Coast experience.

Belk Bowl

December, 2, 2012
Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3) vs. Duke Blue Devils (6-6)

Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m. ET, Charlotte, N.C. (ESPN)

Cincinnati take by Big East blogger Andrea Adelson: Per the usual rite of the preseason, Cincinnati was not picked to win the Big East.

Per the usual rite of the season, Cincinnati won a share of the Big East.

The Bearcats, it seems, exceed expectations every season. But this one may have been Butch Jones’ best coaching job at Cincinnati when you consider just how much talent he lost off a 10-win team that finished 2011 in the Top 25. Jones had to replace his starting quarterback, running back, half his starting offensive line, his starting defensive tackles and his starting middle linebacker. Just to name a few.

Without them, he was left 65 first- and second-year players to try and carry on the tradition that has been established. They were able to do that, despite losing their team leader in defensive end Walter Stewart (back) and switching quarterbacks for the final month of the season.

Brendon Kay delivered wins in three of the final four games of the season after replacing Munchie Legaux, but the true story centered around the running game. George Winn emerged as one of the biggest surprises in the Big East, rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He averaged more yards per game (100.3) than Big East Offensive Player of the Year Isaiah Pead did a year ago, and was a big reason why the Bearcats ran for nearly 200 yards per game. Travis Kelce was a huge surprise at tight end, too, leading the team in receiving yards (599) and touchdown receptions (7).

Defensively, Cincinnati played extremely well despite losing JK Schaeffer, Derek Wolfe, John Hughes and Stewart. Greg Blair was a huge presence in the middle, and finished second in the Big East in tackles (123). All of these standout performances added up to yet another Big East title, and a shot at a 10-win season for the fifth time in six years.

Duke take from ACC blogger Heather Dinich: The Blue Devils finally got over the hump in the fifth season under coach David Cutcliffe, who was named the ACC’s Coach of the Year after leading the program to its first bowl game since 1994.

For the first time in decades, Duke football was relevant in November, as the program had a legitimate chance to win the Coastal Division. Despite the achievement of reaching the six-win mark, most within the program would concede they let an even bigger opportunity slip away.

With a 33-30 win over rival North Carolina on Oct. 20, Duke became the first team in the Coastal Division to become bowl eligible this year. Problem was, the Blue Devils didn’t do a thing in the win column in the following weeks. After beating UNC, Duke ended the season with four straight losses, dropping out of the ACC race for good with a 42-24 loss at Georgia Tech on Nov. 17. Duke had the misfortune of an unforgiving cross-over schedule that included back-to-back games against Atlantic Division leaders No. 12 Florida State and No. 13 Clemson. The Blue Devils were humbled in those games and outscored 104-27. They still had a chance to win the division, but the defense had no answer for Georgia Tech’s spread option offense.

Still, it was a milestone season for Duke that included receiver Conner Vernon asserting himself as the ACC’s all-time leader in career receiving yards. The Blue Devils are ecstatic to be playing in any bowl, but to have the opportunity to stay in-state and continue practicing will be the biggest rewards. Duke is making its ninth bowl trip and has a 3-5 record in postseason games. The Blue Devils’ last bowl trip was a 34-20 loss to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl Game in Tampa, Fla. The game marks the first appearance by the Blue Devils in a bowl game in North Carolina.

Video: ACC brass set to vote on expansion

November, 28, 2012

Andy Katz discusses a report that ACC officials will vote Wednesday on expansion candidates.

Q&A with Rutgers LB Khaseem Greene

November, 16, 2012
Khaseem Greene won the Big East's defensive player of the year award last season. The Rutgers linebacker broke his ankle in the Pinstripe Bowl, prompting offseason surgery and rehab. Then coach Greg Schiano left for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with assistant Kyle Flood taking his place.

Greene has responded with an All-America-type season, notching 96 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, six quarterback hurries, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

He is coming off a 22-tackle performance in a victory over Army, the fifth-highest tackle performance in Big East history. Rutgers is 9-1 and controls its conference-title destiny. And his brother, Pitt running back Ray Graham, has been not too shabby since recovering an ACL tear a year ago, rushing for 835 yards and eight touchdowns this season. caught up with Greene this week to talk about all that and more as the Scarlet Knights head into Cincinnati for a Saturday showdown.

Still feeling the effects from 22 tackles Saturday?

Khaseem Greene: Yeah, I was trying to be everywhere. (laughs)

I'd imagine it's a slightly better feeling giving the pounding instead of taking it.

KG: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Most definitely.

Every senior ever says the light clicks on for them going into their final year, wanting to make the most of it. You already had a pretty decorated resume coming into this season. What did you do to ensure that this season would be a memorable one?

KG: I just worked my tail off to just get back to 100 percent coming off the injury. I knew coming into this season that we were going to have a special team and if I could just be the player I was last year, and a little bit better, contribute a little bit more, it would definitely be special. Just from my rehab and everything like that, I was dedicated to coming back and being the best teammate and best player I could be for my team and for my coaches.

Can you take me through that rehab process a little bit?

KG: It was a long process. It was just very hard because I had never been injured where I had to miss time before. I never had a surgery or anything like that. Those things were new to me and just not being able to do things that I do so easily was kind of frustrating. But just the training staff we have here and the coaches I have in my corner just talking to me every day, working me out, not letting me get down on myself and not letting me doubt myself and things like that. And a big credit to my family, who stayed behind me 100 percent and made sure I was doing the right things, whether it was getting up early in the morning to go to treatment and a workout, or my brothers staying on top of me saying I had to be back to the player I was last year, just to be the greatest player I could be for the Rutgers family because I owed it to them. All those things came into play and they all helped me become the person I am now.

[+] EnlargeKhaseem Greene
Will Schneekloth/Icon SMILinebacker Khaseem Greene said he and his Rutgers teammates have been behind new coach Kyle Flood from Day 1: "We never doubted him."
It seems like you're added to a new watch list every week. Do you pay attention to that stuff?

KG: I really just take those accolades and let my family run with them and credit my teammates, because a lot of those individual recognition and award things have to do with people behind the scenes: my defense, my guys up front, the secondary and the mike and the sam (linebackers) that I play alongside with. Not only those guys, but the offense that I play with, the coaches that coach me. I'm happy when I'm honored but I really don't like the fact that it's an individual award because so much goes into it besides just me doing things. But at the same time I just take it and just credit it to my teammates because those guys deserve the credit and my coaches deserve the credit and my family deserves the credit. Everybody who's helped me get to this point or helped me do what I do deserves credit, but it's also an amazing feeling to know that people recognize you for the things that you do.

Your coach actually said this week, yeah, you had a great game, but you were also the beneficiary of a defense that was in the right place at the right time a lot, against Army. That's not a conventional offense to prepare for. What did you see from them? How did the defense perform the way it did this past Saturday?

KG: The one thing that's unique about playing the academy schools is that no matter how good the scout team looks during the week, you'll never simulate the exact speed that those guys play at, and that was the one thing that happened for us after the first series. And for the rest of the game, it just started to slow down. Those guys came out very strong, very fast and that's what we expect for them to be doing, is coming out fast. We got a great look this week but it was nothing compared to the speed at which those guys go because they train for it all year as opposed to us, for one week. The game just slowed down for us after the first series and we got a great feel of it and we started to relax and trust our keys, and that's when we started playing Rutgers defense the way it's supposed to be played. We were able to get some key turnovers and stops and get the ball back to our offense so that they could put points on the board and things like that.

What has Kyle Flood done to ease the transition? It wasn't an ideal situation in the offseason. How have you guys come together under him?

KG: The one thing he's done a great job of is getting 100-plus men to trust him, trust in his vision and his goal, his plan for this program. He's done a great job of that. There's never been a moment or a time where me or any of my teammates felt like this guy's a first-year guy and we don't think this is the right thing he's doing. We never doubted him. From Day 1 he came in with a goal and a vision and he told us what it's going to be. And till this day he's been sticking to his word and everything's been going as planned minus the one loss. We have really taken his word and just ran with it. He's a great leader. Everything this program stands for he exemplifies in his everyday characteristics and just to see a guy come in as a first-year head coach and see what he's done with this team, with this program is amazing. It's special. It's unique. We all really appreciate it here at Rutgers, but it's just being his first year and making a program that's known, that has become a winner, and now trying to take it to the next level, having that challenge in itself, and just not even taking it as a challenge, taking it as a another day at the job, it's been real special.

Cincinnati has a great running back in George Winn. What has made him so successful?

KG: He's a great running back. He's big, he's strong, he's fast. He catches the ball. He does a lot of things very well. Credit to that program over there. They do a lot of things really well in their scheme and just the coaching staff. That's a great program over there. They have my respect, but the game has to be played on Saturdays. That's pretty much what it comes down to. He's a great running back, he does some great things and they have a great program over there, but at end of the day, we just go to practice, worry about the things that we do, go out on Saturday and do those things that we do well, and hopefully that gets us the win.

Switching gears a bit, how much do you talk to Ray during the season? What do you think of his performance so far?

KG: I talk to my brother every week. We talk multiple times during the week. I just encourage him outside of football. I just encourage him as a big brother to continue to stay humble, pray, communicate and rehab -- everything that he has to do to make himself successful outside of football. And on the field I always tell him to just play hard, do what he's been doing all his life to get him to this point and that's what he does really well. That's just play football, but outside of football, just being the person that he is and tell him to try to stay out of trouble. Stay away from the things that are not going to benefit you as a person, and that's pretty much it.

You both went through rehab. You both went through coaching changes this offseason. How much did it help to go through that together?

KG: That helps us a lot. Just us both rehabbing and being able to communicate with each other or send each other pictures or videos, push each other, motivate each other to get back from our injuries was big. For me, I had the same coach for all my four years of being here until this year. For Ray, he had a number of coaching changes, so he helped me from that standpoint, just to know that things are going to change, but if you get a coach that understands and things like that, it'll all be the same. What he told me is starting to stick and I'm starting to see that. From that standpoint he helped me when it comes to coaching changes. But other than that we really help each other, we motivate each other and we compete with one another when it comes to rehab and things like that.

3-point stance: The downside of up-tempo

November, 14, 2012
1. When an offense goes up-tempo, the defense pays the price. Not just the opposing defense, either. The defenses at Arizona and No. 2 Oregon are playing 82 and 76 plays, respectively, per game. The wear-and-tear is exacting a toll in mid-November. The Ducks are playing freshmen on their defensive line, and Arizona is playing four walk-ons and two true freshmen on its defense. They are playing because that’s who’s healthy.

2. The Big East put a good face on its new reality this week. The league no longer will have an automatic bid for its champion in the postseason format that replaces the BCS in 2014. The highest-rated team among five conferences will get that bid. The Big East may have the inside track on that bid, given that Boise State, which has earned two BCS bids, is moving into the Big East, and current powers Rutgers, Cincinnati and Louisville are (so far) remaining in the league.

3. Bobby Petrino may be a hot commodity in the hiring season to come. But if Auburn does decide to force out Gene Chizik, whose Tigers have lost nine consecutive SEC games by an average margin of 23 points, I continue to hear that the school won’t try to hire Petrino. Between the scandal that brought about his departure from Arkansas, and his role in the abortive attempt to overthrow Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville in 2003, Petrino would be a difficult figure for Auburn fans to unite behind.
Fortunately -- for me, anyway -- the Notre Dame blog wasn't around yet to do these the week before last season. Therefore, I am not one of the thousands of embarrassed prognosticators who felt last year's Notre Dame team would roll through USF behind Dayne Crist en route to a BCS-bowl season. Nope, I thought 10 turnovers amid an 0-2 start, three quarterbacks and, yes, four different helmets were in the cards all along.

This time, there will be proof for touting my genius. Away we go …

1. Notre Dame will finish the regular season 8-4 and play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Losses at East Lansing, Norman and Los Angeles seem unavoidable, though I do think this is the year the Irish finally take down Michigan. Surely, though, another roadblock sits among this year's gantlet of opponents. Keep an eye on that Oct. 20 tilt with BYU, which has won 10 games five of the last six years and has an experienced QB in Riley Nelson. As for the bowl? The Irish take the Yankee Stadium field as the Big 12's No. 7, which will open this year because the conference will get two teams in BCS bowls. (Here comes the bold part … ) To make matters more fun, the Pinstripe Bowl, not wanting another Pitt/Notre Dame matchup in 2012, picks fifth-place Cincinnati to square off against the Irish. I wonder if there will be any storylines in the lead-up to that one.

2. Cierre Wood will have a hard time winning back his starting job. Theo Riddick has impressed everyone this offseason, and he seems to be most comfortable in the backfield. Of course, the uniqueness of the offense will have him catching passes at certain points and allow for both Riddick and Wood to be on the field together. But don't expect a production drop-off from the backfield in Weeks 1 and 2.

3. Gunner Kiel will redshirt. Everett Golson, today at least, looks like the quarterback of the future. Andrew Hendrix will probably get some time at some point, and Tommy Rees is the perfect emergency signal-caller, given his experience and knowledge. Everyone wants to see what Kiel can do, but it would probably be short-sighted to burn a year of eligibility if it's really unnecessary.

4. Miami -- yes, the big, bad Hurricanes -- will be Notre Dame's easiest opponent. The Hurricanes' thin offensive line will have trouble against Notre Dame's defensive front. They are also coming off back-to-back games against Georgia Tech and NC State, while whatever fatigue issues the Irish had from their Dublin trip should be gone with the Sept. 29 bye. Chicago will be jacked for the Irish's Oct. 6 appearance.

5. Stephon Tuitt will make a lot of people forget about Aaron Lynch. He is more versatile, and he is more reliable. He is much bigger, too. Let's not forget that he missed three games last year because of a missed class and mono, so his numbers didn't leap off the page the way Lynch's did in Year 1. Tuitt is primed for a breakout sophomore season that will put him on the national radar, along with the radar of many pro scouts entering 2013.

PSU's Brown still considering transfer

August, 1, 2012
Senior wide receiver Justin Brown said he was still mulling a transfer Wednesday night and wasn't sure whether he would remain at Penn State.

"I haven't made a decision yet," he said in a brief telephone interview. "I just don't know."

Brown said he doesn't have a timetable for his decision, although preseason practice starts Monday. His high school coach, George Kosanovich of Concord (Del.), said Brown fielded calls from about three or four schools, including Cincinnati, Illinois and Oklahoma.

As the Nittany Lions' top returning wideout, Brown's decision could prove critical to Penn State's offensive success -- especially without starting tailback Silas Redd, who announced his transfer to USC on Tuesday.

If Brown leaves, unproven receivers Shawney Kersey, a redshirt junior, and sophomore Allen Robinson -- who combined for just eight catches last season -- would battle for the top spot.

Brown finished last season with 35 receptions, 517 yards and two touchdowns.

Five Penn State players have already announced their intent to transfer since the sanctions: Redd, linebacker Khairi Fortt, safety Tim Buckley, defensive lineman Jamil Pollard and tight end Kevin Haplea. Quaterback Rob Bolden was released from his scholarship prior to the sanctions, according to a source.
Former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis has received close to $8.7 million to not coach his alma mater, and the number will only grow.

Weis was paid $2,054,744 of buyout money from Notre Dame from July 2010 to June 2011, according to the Chicago Tribune, which obtained the figures from Notre Dame's Form 990 it must submit to the IRS.

Fired after the 2009 season, Weis received an initial buyout payment of $6,638,403, bringing the total to $8,693,147. He is slated to receive additional payments through December 2015.
The original $6.6 million payout was to be followed by "much smaller payments," according to previous documents. Weis also received $469,727 from Play by Play sports — now known as Notre Dame Sports Properties — and an additional $1,095 of unspecified "other reportable compensation."

The first glimpse at what current head coach Brian Kelly makes shows that Kelly took in $2,424,301, though $1,762,334 of "other reportable compensation" indicates all or part of that payment is a "one-time payment to Coach Kelly," the Tribune reported. As reporter Brian Hamilton notes, that money might have helped with any buyout Kelly owed Cincinnati after leaving the Bearcats in December 2009.

Kelly's base compensation is $617,846. The form did not include payments from "external sources."

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick made $1,026,942.

Who's next for Rutgers?

January, 27, 2012
Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti says he already has a short list of candidates to become the next head coach of the Scarlet Knights.

So what exactly is he looking for?

“I think there are a lot of criteria," he said Thursday. "No. 1, we want the right kind of person. Understanding and being able to have your arms around the culture of the tri-state area I think is critical to being successful at Rutgers. So much of it has been built around being able to recruit on a somewhat regional level, that I think not only having a great understanding, but having really deep and strong relationships in the tri-state area. I think those are two very critical factors in this whole thing.”

Who fits the description? Here are a few possibilities:

Temple coach Steve Addazio. In his first season as the head coach at Temple, Addazio went 9-4 and brought the Owls back to a bowl game. He has ties to the tri-state area, having grown up and coached in Connecticut. He also served as an assistant at Syracuse in the 1990s and he clearly has established ties in the past year in the Pennsylvania area. That state has been a huge recruiting area for Rutgers, particularly given what has happened to Penn State.

Florida International coach Mario Cristobal. One of the brightest up-and-coming coaches in the country, Cristobal has done for FIU what Schiano did for Rutgers. He completely resurrected a program mired in misery, taking it to its first-ever conference title and back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time, too. FIU is obviously a much younger program, but Cristobal has got the coaching and recruiting chops. Plus, he worked under Schiano at Rutgers from 2001-03, so he has a familiar with the recruiting area. Cristobal was also a candidate for the Pitt job before ultimately deciding he wanted to stay in the South Florida area. What could Rutgers say to change his mind?

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. A defensive mastermind like Schiano (who also served as defensive coordinator this past season), Diaco is from Cedar Grove, N.J., and has some coaching experience in the Big East. He was an assistant at Cincinnati under then-coach Brian Kelly before leaving to join Kelly with the Irish.
1. It’s impossible to know whether Gunner Kiel will turn into the Next Great Notre Dame Quarterback or just another guy. But the last-minute decision by Kiel, from Columbus, Ind., to spurn LSU and drive to the South Bend campus only three hours from home is a warming balm for Irish fans frustrated with the pace of head coach Brian Kelly’s progress. A pair of 8-5s is noticeably lacking in face cards. Notre Dame endorsed Kelly a few days ago by adding two years to his contract. Kiel endorsed him by showing up.

2. USF announced the other day that it has scheduled a home-and-home with Nevada, beginning with a trip to Reno on Sept. 8. The Wolf Pack will play in Tampa in 2015. That’s a nice get by the Bulls, but they buried the lead. More important is that in 2012, as it did three years ago, USF will play Florida State and Miami. They also played Florida and Miami in 2010. As the Big East and ACC struggle to create schedules in the wake of their realignment, here’s hoping USF continues to play the state’s bigger names.

3. Speaking of which: here are the five most interesting intersectional games for next season, excluding the traditional non-conference rivalries: Boise State at Michigan State on Fri., Aug. 31; Alabama vs. Michigan in Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 1; West Virginia at Florida State on Sept. 8; Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati at FedEx Field on Sept. 29; Notre Dame at Oklahoma on Oct. 27.

McShay: Bowl comes down to quarterbacks

December, 20, 2011
Be sure to check out today's ESPNU College Football Podcast with Ivan Maisel and Todd McShay, who break down many of the remaining December bowl games, including Dec. 29's Champs Sports Bowl between Notre Dame and Florida State.

McShay thinks this one will come down to the quarterback position for Notre Dame:
"It just comes down to, can they get Tommy Rees where they want to get him at the quarterback position? He's gonna start again, which surprised me after Andrew Hendrix came in for him. Hendrix's just a sophomore and he looked OK. But he didn't do anything to blow you away. He was 11-of-24 with a touchdown and an interception in that game at Stanford when he came in to relieve Tommy Rees. So ultimately what's been so interesting and so frustrating for coach Brian Kelly is the fact that he came in as the quarterback guru. You think about some of the guys he had success with at Cincinnati: Tony Pike, OK. Zach Collaros, OK. But it seemed like he could just work anyone into his system and it has not been the case at Notre Dame, so that's the big challenge moving forward."

The Champs Sports Bowl conversation begins shortly after the 30-minute mark. The two also touch on Florida State's special teams edge and the fallout from each team failing to meet lofty preseason expectations.