NCF Nation: Randy Shannon

Kicking it with Bret Bielema, Part I

March, 20, 2013
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First-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has seen his team in pads for all of one practice, last Thursday.

So he’s still trying to get a feel for what he has and what he doesn’t have at this point. The Hogs are off for spring break this week and will return to practice next Tuesday.

We caught up with Bielema recently to get his thoughts on the start of practice, his vision for the Arkansas program and some of the challenges he faces after making the move from the Big Ten to the SEC.

Here’s Part I of our Q&A:

How much Arkansas tape did you guys look at from last season?

Bret Bielema: Offensively and defensively, we had to look at some, just from a standpoint of personnel. There’s going to be some very dramatic differences in scheme and technique. There wasn’t a big emphasis on that. It was more just getting to know the personnel and where they’re at. As a head coach, I personally watched very little because I didn’t want to form any expectations or draw any conclusions before I saw what was in front of me as reality. I think that’s the only way to do it.

[+] EnlargeBret Bielema
AP Photo/April L. BrownBret Bielema hasn't been shy in his first few months on the job at Arkansas.
Where do you think most of your work will be cut out with this team?

BB: It’s up front, offensively and defensively, and that’s where it all starts, in the line play. I really believe in that. It’s the foundation of what we do. To me, that can’t waver if you want to have success in any conference, in any capacity, when you have to build from the ground up. That’s important for us. It doesn’t matter what the scheme is.

It appears that one of your strengths in 2013 will be your defensive line with several players returning who were productive for you last season. Isn’t that a good place to start?

BB: I’m not going to put my head in the sand. Up front defensively, I think we have some players that return who are exceptional. I think one of the strongest coaches on our staff is our defensive line coach (Charlie Partridge). One of the different things we did was combine the defensive ends and defensive tackles into one room and with one coach. I just think those four have to learn to play together with their eyes closed. They have to know where each other are on any given play, and they’ve got to be able to play off one another very, very well. The ability to combine that room is only going to make us stronger.

What has been the attitude of the team entering spring, especially given how disappointing last season was coming off a pair of highly successful seasons in 2010 and 2011?

BB: I’ll read you three things from my notes the first day of practice. No. 1, the kids are listening, so be careful what you say and make it be exactly what you want. No. 2, the kids are hungry. Cultivate the improvement on day-to-day progress. Don’t let a day go by. No. 3, the kids are talented. Clean up the details on how the kids can play. Don’t make them over-think. Don’t make them overreact. Just let them play instinctively and become a team that can play very, very fast and very physical. I’ve been overwhelmed at the way our kids have transitioned, not just the kids, but the coaches as well. That’s been a pretty neat feeling.

Speaking of your coaches, how important was it to get the right mix on your staff?

BB: It was important to nail my coordinators. That’s why Jim Chaney and Chris Ash were my first two hires. I just couldn’t do it until after the Rose Bowl, but Jim confirmed to me that he was coming. I didn’t want to bring with me my whole staff from Wisconsin. Obviously, we had done some good things and won a championship there. But it’s not going to be a cookie cutter of Wisconsin. It’s going to be a program that’s built here to win at Arkansas and built to win in the SEC and sustain success over a period of time. That’s why I blended in a little bit of what I had, a little bit of what I wanted and a little bit of the unknown. All the coaches have strong ties to either myself or coaches on the staff.

Moving Day: Pittsburgh

February, 13, 2013
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Syracuse has officially made the move into the ACC football blog. Now it's Pitt's turn. The Panthers will become full members of the ACC on July 1, joining the Coastal Division with former Big East partners Miami and Virginia Tech. As far as we're concerned, here in the blogosphere, the move has been made.

Andrea Adelson and Heather Dinich are here to welcome Pittsburgh into the ACC blog. C'mon in, there's plenty of room.

Heather Dinich: Andrea, one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season was Pitt's 35-17 win against Virginia Tech on Sept. 15. It wasn't just that Virginia Tech lost, it was how Pitt won -- convincingly, by manhandling the Hokies up front on both sides of the ball. Few, if any, saw that coming, as Virginia Tech was outworked and outmuscled by a team that had lost its first two games of the season, including to Youngstown State. How concerned should the rest of the Coastal Division be about the 2013 Panthers?

[+] EnlargePitt's Paul Chryst
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicPittsburgh needs head coach Paul Chryst to stabilize a staff that has endured turnover in recent seasons.
Andrea Adelson: Heather, that was a great shock to us all, because up to that point, Pitt had not proven to be very good up front. In fact, the Panthers struggled for much of the season to gain consistency on their offensive and defensive lines. That win was one of their most complete of the season, topped only by their 27-6 win against No. 18 Rutgers later in the year. I am on the record as saying I believe Pitt will have an opportunity to contend for the Coastal Division. First, quarterback play should be improved dramatically, with either former Freshman All-American Tom Savage or four-star recruit Chad Voytik at the helm. Second, the Panthers have a solid running back in Rushel Shell and an unheralded receiver in Devin Street. And third, the Panthers return nine starters on defense, including All-Big East tackle Aaron Donald. I also think this team will be better in Year 2 under Paul Chryst. It's actually the first time since 2009 and '10 that the Panthers have had the same head coach in back-to-back seasons.

Having said that, there are a few concerns. First and foremost is playing consistently week in and week out. Those who follow me on the Big East blog know I referred to this team as "Good Pitt/Bad Pitt" all season because of the Jekyll and Hyde performances. Pitt followed a lose two, win two pattern all season. Chryst needs to find a way to get his team to play at the same level every single week. Second, the offensive line has to be better, because it has been pretty bad the past several years. Pitt won't be able to play the way Chryst wants to play on offense if the line doesn't improve. And third, Pitt is searching for yet another defensive coordinator since Dave Huxtable has gone to NC State. So that's my take. What will Pitt find in the Coastal this year?

HD: A much-improved Virginia Tech team. A Miami team ready to play for the league title (if it's eligible, of course). An eligible North Carolina team ready to contend for the Coastal Division title in the second season under Larry Fedora. A Georgia Tech team that returns the bulk of its playmakers and should get upgrades at quarterback (Vad Lee) and defensive coordinator (Ted Roof). Duke will have something to prove, as it has had some significant staff changes, including the departure of senior quarterback Sean Renfree and record-setting senior receiver Conner Vernon. Virginia had a staff overhaul, but coach Mike London should be feeling some heat to get back to a bowl.

SportsNation

How do you think Pitt will fare in its first season in the Coastal Division?

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    32%
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    54%
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    14%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,360)

Overall, the Coastal Division should be much, much better than it was last year. Heck, it can't get much worse, as the Hokies had their worst season in 20 years, two teams were ineligible, and Georgia Tech needed a waiver just to play in a bowl game. The Coastal Division is more balanced than the Atlantic Division, and Pitt will fit right in, adding to that parity. I'm looking forward to seeing Pitt-Miami and Pitt-Virginia Tech on a more regular basis. Miami has yet to play for the ACC title since joining the league, while Virginia Tech has owned it. Make no mistake -- last season was an anomaly in Blacksburg. What will it take for Pitt to follow the Hokies' path in the ACC?

AA: Great question, Heather. No. 1 on the list has to be coaching stability. The Pitt program has been set back because of the missteps over the past three years with head coaches. Most everybody believes Chryst is a solid football coach, but he is going to need time to get this program where he wants it. And he has exceptional resources to get the job done, with state-of-the-art facilities and extremely fertile recruiting ground in the Pennsylvania area. Pitt does not have to go far to find some of the most talented players in the nation. They finished just outside the top 40 on signing day last week. They can sell their ties to the Steelers, playing in an NFL stadium, and their incredible history, filled with national championships and Hall of Famers. Now, you could come back and say, "Well, Miami has all that, and more, and the Canes have failed to dominate the ACC as predicted." Very true. But you also make my point for me. Miami's weakness has been at the head-coaching position, as well, with Larry Coker and Randy Shannon unable to continue the success Miami had in the Big East. Al Golden now has the Canes in position to be the favorites in the Coastal.

Virginia Tech? Well, Virginia Tech has had Frank Beamer, the picture of coaching stability. After Wisconsin lost coach Bret Bielema, many wondered whether athletic director Barry Alvarez would approach Chryst, a long-time Wisconsin assistant and Wisconsin graduate. But Chryst let it be known he did not have any intention of leaving Pitt after a year on the job. He is committed to the Panthers. Now the administration has to show its commitment by giving him time to build. If he's as good as many think he can be, Pitt will be fine.

Want a head coach? Look to Miami

January, 14, 2013
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The Miami football teams of the early 2000s churned out NFL prospects left and right, producing 20 first-round picks between 2001-04.

Do you know what else Miami produced in the early part of that decade? Head coaches. The Miami coaching staffs of 2000 and 2001 -- staffs that had a huge role in the recruitment and development of those pro prospects -- have produced both NFL and college head coaches.

Not just one or two, either.

With the Cleveland Browns' recent hire of Rob Chudzinski, the 1999-2000 staff under Butch Davis produced six head coaches -- three of them now in the NFL.
  • Rob Chudzinski, tight ends coach. Interestingly enough, his former boss (Davis) left Miami after the 2000 season to coach Cleveland.
  • Greg Schiano, defensive coordinator. Left for Rutgers after 2000 season and now Tampa Bay Bucs head coach.
  • Larry Coker, offensive coordinator. Succeeded Davis after the 2000 season, now head coach at UT-San Antonio.
  • Chuck Pagano, defensive backs. Now coaching Indianapolis Colts, and became an inspiration for his battle with leukemia.
  • Curtis Johnson, receivers coach. Entering his second year as Tulane head coach.
  • Mario Cristobal, graduate assistant. Spent six years as FIU head coach before rejoining Miami staff last week.

As for the 2001 staff, which helped Miami win the national championship and produced arguably the greatest team in college football history:
  • Mark Stoops, defensive backs. Replaced Pagano and is now head coach at Kentucky.
  • Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator. Succeeded Coker and served as Miami coach from 2007-10.
  • Chudzinski and Johnson. Both remained on staff.

Lots of folks mention the Nick Saban coaching tree, but when you look at the staff Davis assembled, the group he had around him in the late 1990s and 2000 is pretty impressive.

We can sit here and debate Davis and his abilities as a head coach, and go back and forth on his role in what went down at North Carolina. But it's hard to ignore the fact he has a pretty good eye for talent -- both among players and coaches.
Ricardo AllenRandy Litzinger/Icon SMIPurdue cornerback Ricardo Allen enjoys the challenge of going one-on-one with bigger receivers.
CHICAGO -- At 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds, Purdue junior cornerback Ricardo Allen is a small man in a big-man's game.

The key to his success: not playing like a small man.

Allen, who has started all 25 games of his Boilers career, describes his playing style with one word -- aggressive -- and backs it up on the field. He typically lines up just inches from opposing receivers, even if those men stand more than a few inches taller than him, as they usually do. Whether a receiver is 5-10 or 6-6, Allen's goal is to challenge them from the moment the ball is snapped.

"I used to play down to my size and think because I was small, I'd have to be an off corner," Allen said. "But most big receivers aren't really good on the line. So I have changed."

Allen enters his junior season among the Big Ten's most accomplished cornerbacks. He has led the Boilers in interceptions with three in each of the past two seasons. He has returned three picks for six points, which ties Rod Woodson and Mike Rose for the all-time team record.

Like all cornerbacks, Allen gets burned on occasion. But his production is undeniable: 164 total tackles (118 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions and 14 passes defended.

Not bad for a guy some considered too small to play in a major conference.

"Miami originally offered me, but Mr. [Randy] Shannon didn't like me for my height," said Allen, referring to the former Hurricanes coach. "I had a lot of people who offered me but didn't like my height. South Carolina pushed away from me because of my height. I was recruited by a lot of schools, but when the time came down to it, everybody kind of shied away from me."

The Daytona Beach, Fla., native eventually landed at Purdue, part of a 2010 recruiting class heavy on players from the Sunshine State. Allen rose atop the depth chart immediately and sparkled as a freshman, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors (media) and leading the team in interception return yards (129).

The 2010 season convinced Allen that he could play at a high level.

"It gave me confidence that my size doesn't really matter anymore," he said. "I play with the biggest and I play with the best receivers around."

(Read full post)

TCU officially hired Randy Shannon Thursday as the team's linebackers coach.

It's good to see Shannon land on his feet in a spot he's familiar with. I got to know him a bit when he was at Miami, and he had good intentions and truly cared about his players. As Al Golden has quickly found out, it's not easy to coach at Miami. Shannon is a defensive guy and should do well at TCU.

Randy Shannon sues Miami

May, 2, 2012
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MIAMI -- Former Miami coach Randy Shannon is suing his alma mater, saying the university decided to not pay him all that he was guaranteed in his final contract.

Shannon was fired in November 2010 after going 28-22 in four seasons. On Feb. 1, 2010, two deals -- an employment agreement and a guarantee agreement -- both went into effect. The lawsuit states that because those were less than a year old when Shannon was fired, the university decided to prorate the amount of what he was owed in the event of a firing by about one-sixth.

Exact amounts of what Shannon was owed were not detailed in the lawsuit, because terms of the employment agreement requires him to keep the amounts confidential. The lawsuit said Miami has been making monthly payments to Shannon, but at a rate lower than what was stipulated in the coach's contract.

To read the rest of the story, click here.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- There were police on guard Wednesday morning to help control the flow of media access to Miami’s football practice. Players, assistant coaches and university officials have declined to comment or have been instructed not to. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst declined an interview request from ESPN.com. So did university president Donna Shalala. Even one member of Miami’s marching band and a member of the cheer squad both declined to talk about the NCAA investigation hanging over Miami’s football program right now.

While silence is prevalent here on campus Wednesday, former booster Nevin Shapiro can’t seem to say enough about the U. His allegations, some of which have been supported by the research and investigation of Yahoo! Sports, could be devastating to the future of Miami football.

And yet the only person answering questions right now is first-year coach Al Golden.

While his candor is refreshing, he’s not the one who needs to answer for this mess.

Former athletic director Paul Dee, who once sat as chairman on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and lambasted USC for its violations, has some explaining to do. Former athletic director Kirby Hocutt, who abruptly resigned to become athletic director at Texas Tech after he hired Golden, has some questions to answer. (Hocutt did not immediately return a call to his office.) Shalala, who can be seen in a Yahoo! Sports photo accepting a donation that was allegedly comprised of illegal money, needs to address the issue beyond the statement released earlier today. And former coaches Randy Shannon and Larry Coker, under whose watch these alleged violations took place, also need to state their cases. (Shannon did not return a text message to his cellphone.)

Funny how the majority of Miami officials who are accountable for this mess are gone.

And Golden is left to clean it up -- not that you could tell from his demeanor or practice this morning.

The only difference on the practice field was a little bit of extra intensity.

“The coaches are more fired up today,” said Rob Dunning, Miami’s assistant communications director, who routinely watches the Canes practice.

Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin was not pleased with his group’s pressure on quarterback Jacory Harris.

“Keep the quarterback in the pocket!” he barked. “DON’T. BREAK. CONTAIN! Pass-rush lanes!”

The staff is doing its best to maintain a sense of normalcy, but there is nothing normal about the allegations that have been levied against the program.

How much of it is true? Who knew about any of it? How didn’t they know?

All questions that need to be answered -- and not by Golden.

Possible candidates for UNC

July, 28, 2011
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We'll know more about which direction North Carolina is headed following today's 11 a.m. press conference, but it's hard not to assume they're going the interim direction. Colleague Bruce Feldman listed some potential candidates for the long-term, and one name appears on both of our lists: Bud Foster. The Hokies' defensive guru has made no secret about the fact he wants to be a head coach, and his name has been tied to several openings in the past. It seems completely unreasonable to think an entirely new staff could come in just two weeks before the start of fall camp, but there will be plenty of speculation as to who will lead the Tar Heels on a permanent basis. I haven't heard anything confirming any names, so consider this a list of possibilities for North Carolina's next coach:

INTERIM

Everett Withers, defensive coordinator: He has 24 seasons of coaching experience at both the collegiate and NFL levels. North Carolina's defense has been in the spotlight under Withers, and what he cobbled together in spite of the NCAA investigations was impressive.

John Shoop, offensive coordinator:He has two decades of coaching experience in both the NCAA and NFL, and has been a coordinator for both. Carolina's offense improved under Shoop, but he's a quirky character who has been given his fair share of heat at times from UNC fans.

Sam Pittman, offensive line coach:The title of associate head coach was added earlier this month, but Pittman has spent the past four seasons coaching the Tar Heels' offensive line. School spokesman Kevin Best said there's not necessarily a correlation between Pittman's recent promotion and the timing of the coaching change.

NEW HIRE

Bud Foster, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator:Give the man a chance, willya?

Randy Shannon, former Miami coach:He knows the ACC, he's a good recruiter, and the timing would work well if an interim were hired this year because Shannon isn't coaching this season. Shannon was reportedly interested in the Maryland job and wants to return to coaching.

Name your Bowden: Terry or Tommy, both have plenty of coaching experience to offer.

UCLA finds a defensive coordinator

February, 15, 2011
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A lot of names have been attached to the UCLA vacancy at defensive coordinator, but the guy Rick Neuheisel tapped on Tuesday was not one of those names.

Joe Tresey, 52, a former defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and South Florida, has been named UCLA's defensive coordinator, ending a lengthy and winding search since Chuck Bullough was fired on Dec. 18.

“He has an aggressive style that forces turnovers and negative-yardage plays and I feel our players, especially our youngsters, will benefit greatly from his style of play," Neuheisel said in a statement. "He is a fine teacher and I can’t wait for him to get started.”

Tresey coached at South Florida in 2009 and Cincinnati -- under current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly -- from 2007-08. Last year, he was the defensive backs coach for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. (Recall that Bulls coach Jim Leavitt was fired in January 2010 after a school investigation concluded he grabbed one of his players by the throat, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.)

In 2009, South Florida ranked 24th nationally in total defense (321.8 yards) and 19th in scoring defense (19.8 points) while compiling an 8-5 record. The Bulls forced 23 turnovers that season. In 2008, Cincinnati ranked 31st nationally in total defense (321.9 yards), 19th in rushing defense (115.0) and 25th in scoring defense (20.1 points).

Tresey is a secondary specialist "with a reputation for forcing turnovers and piling up sacks."

But also consider this paragraph from a Tampa Tribune story on Tresey's hire at South Florida: "Tresey was fired last month by Bearcats coach Brian Kelly, who said he had philosophical differences and was shifting to a 3-4 defense, but the move could have also been prompted by Tresey's talks with Miami."

Recall that one of the reasons Neuheisel dispatched Bullough was a desire to switch to a 3-4 scheme. Tresey is a 4-3 guy.

Here's a Q&A with Tresey, also from the Tampa Tribune.

A 1982 graduate of Ohio State, he also has coached at Central Michigan (2006), Georgia Southern (2004-05), Akron (2002-03) and VMI (1999-2001).

Before Neuheisel tapped Tresey, a multitude of coaches were touted as potential candidates, including Vic Fangio, Randy Shannon, Rocky Long, Chuck Heater, Teryl Austin, Rocky Seto, Jeff FitzGerald and Steve Brown.
Al Golden and Randy EdsallGetty ImagesAl Golden and Randy Edsall are the latest head coaches to take over ACC programs.
First-year Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch introduced himself to the players the best way he knew how -- he recruited them. He brought them into his office one by one and asked them about their families, their hometowns, and their high school situations.

“I never got to recruit any of these players,” he said in an interview on signing day. “It will be different in the future. I’ll know the players. I’ll know their families and their situations. Here, I really don’t know anything. So I asked our players to really introduce themselves to me, more than me introducing myself to them. It’s been really nice to talk to these guys, find out about their backgrounds, what made them choose the U. I didn’t know any of those answers.”

Nor did he know the personnel.

It wasn’t until after signing day that Miami’s staff finally had a chance to look at 15-20 clips of each player on the roster and evaluate them. The Hurricanes aren’t the only program in transition this spring, as five teams will have either a new head coach, new coordinator, or both. Al Golden replaced Randy Shannon at Miami, Maryland hired Randy Edsall, Clemson and Boston College both hired new offensive coordinators, and Duke will have its third defensive coordinator in as many years. Two hires -- Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown, who was retained by Edsall, and North Carolina defensive line coach Brian Baker -- didn’t even last a month before they left for other jobs.

The biggest changes, though, will be at Maryland and Miami. With the hires of Golden and Edsall, the ACC has now had head-coaching changes at 10 of the 12 schools in the past five years. Wake Forest and Virginia Tech are the exceptions, as Jim Grobe and Frank Beamer, who are entering their 11th and 24th seasons, respectively, are easily the most tenured in the league. Four coaches will either be in their first or second seasons this year.

“You look at Butch Davis and Tom O’Brien, and their tenure is beginning to look long in our league,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford. “There’s a lot of freshness, a lot of new coaches who are still early in their tenures. Hopefully with longevity and stability, those programs will grow and develop.”

The instability in the coaching ranks hasn’t helped the ACC gain any solid footing in the national college football landscape. Just when it seemed as if former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen had the Terps heading in the right direction -- a nine-win season led by the league’s coach of the year and rookie of the year -- the change was made.

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said the expectations for Friedgen’s successor would be consistent appearances in the Top 25 -- exactly where the Terps left off in the final Associated Press poll of 2010.

“I’ll put more pressure on myself than what anybody can put on me,” Edsall said. “I know Ralph, I’ve worked with Ralph. Those things are unfortunate, but I’m here to do a job and get Maryland to the highest level we can. My whole goal and approach is to win the ACC championship. That’s what I want to do, and that’s what we’ve been striving to do since I got here.”

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
AP Photo/Patrick CollardClemson will likely have growing pains next season with a new offensive coordinator and a first-year QB in Tajh Boyd.
With rapidly-improving Florida State in the same division, it won’t be easy. Clemson will have some catching up to do, too. First-year Clemson coordinator Chad Morris is not only tasked with installing a new offense and terminology, he’s also got to do it with a first-year starting quarterback in Tajh Boyd.

“It’s based on a very fast paced style of play,” Morris said. “It’s based basically on being a run, play-action oriented offense.”

Miami will have a pro-style offense, but the staff has yet to determine whether Jacory Harris or Stephen Morris will execute it. That decision could be made as early as the end of spring practices.

“We’re going to be multiple,” Fisch said. “We’re going to use a lot of personnel groupings and formations to our advantage. We’re going to be balanced in ways of trying to get the ball into all of our playmakers' hands. I’m not worried as much about run-pass ratio as I’m worried about are all of our players getting enough touches. Am I making sure I’m getting the ball in the hands of our guys who are dynamic? Our balance will come from the distribution of the football rather than the play call itself.”

Miami fans are less concerned with how the Canes win as they are how fast they can win. It takes time, though, to get acclimated to new philosophies, personalities and terminology. Both Edsall and Golden are also in new recruiting territories, and had to scramble to put their 2011 classes together. Golden came in at somewhat of an “awkward” time, as the program was still preparing for its bowl game under an interim head coach.

“It’s not like taking over something that was a smooth transition,” Golden said. “It was difficult.”

Apparently, staying in the ACC can be as difficult as joining.

UCLA staff not Seto

February, 7, 2011
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UCLA still doesn't have a defensive coordinator after coach Rick Neuheisel's flirtation with former USC linebacker and Trojans assistant Rocky Seto abruptly ended.

It appeared last week that Neuheisel was on the cusp of announcing Seto's hiring, but apparently things turned sour in the eleventh hour, perhaps in part because many Bruins fans didn't want a former Trojan running their defense, particularly one without a proven track record. Seto is presently on Pete Carroll's staff with the Seattle Seahawks helping with the secondary.

Further, Nevada running backs coach Jim Mastro is still deliberating whether he will accept a position as the Bruins' running game coordinator. The Orange County Register reported that Mastro would coach tight ends and F-backs while Bruins running backs coach Wayne Moses would stay in his current position, if Mastro opts for Westwood.

Other than Seto, the L.A. Times reported that Neuheisel talked to former Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, now with the San Francisco 49ers, former Miami head coach Randy Shannon and former Florida defensive co-coordinators Teryl Austin and Chuck Heater. Heater was a Washington assistant when Neuheisel was the Huskies' coach from 1999-2002, but Heater was hired to coordinate Temple's defense.

So what now?

Well, maybe Neuheisel just moves down to the next name on his list. Or maybe he regroups and casts out a new net. It would be a bit of a surprise at this point if he pulls a rabbit out of his hat and lands an experienced, "name" defensive coordinator. And, by the way, that might not be a bad thing.

Neuheisel's stated preference for a 3-4 scheme -- or at least a hybrid of it -- suggests his best candidates are NFL assistants who are itching to call their own plays. But how committed is Neuheisel to a 3-4 if he was serious about Seto, whose mentor -- Carroll -- is a 4-3 guy?

While some might think a jump to UCLA under Neuheisel might be risky -- Neuheisel is under a lot of pressure to win in 2011 -- there's solid, young talent on the Bruins' defense. Even a single impressive season in Westwood could provide a career boost. It would certainly be a way to get on a Pac-12 coach's radar.

As it stands now, Neuheisel isn't inspiring much confidence with his constituency. A second 4-8 finish in three seasons, combined with coaching staff turmoil,and a disappointing recruiting class isn't sending the Bruins into the offseason on an uptick.

Of course, all the hullabaloo between now and September could be easily forgotten if Neuheisel simply does one thing this fall: Win.
1. Miami wide receiver Leonard Hankerson concluded his All-ACC season with the most outstanding offensive player award in the Senior Bowl on Saturday. Not that Hankerson’s five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown were out of character; he caught 72 passes for 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. But it underscores the mystery that was the Hurricanes under Randy Shannon. The talent didn’t produce the wins anyone thought it would.

2. Overworked players aren’t exactly unprecedented in the history of college football. Bear Bryant’s Junction Boys immediately come to mind. So what triggered the syndrome that sent 13 Iowa players to the hospital last week? Did they really work out that much harder than they ever have? Than anyone ever has? Could it have been something in their diet? A supplement? The university may hide behind privacy concerns. But providing answers would be a public service.

3. Greetings from the Short Attention Span Club. Remember how much grief the ACC took for going 1-9 against the other AQ conferences in the first three weeks of the season? The league went 8-5 the rest of the way by sprinting to the finish line. From Thanksgiving weekend through the bowls, the league went 4-2 against the big, bad SEC. That almost makes up for the combined 0-6 against the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10.
This morning we looked at the main recruiting needs for the Atlantic Division. Here are the priorities for each team in the Coastal Division:

DUKE

Offensive line: The Blue Devils will have to replace one starter in center Bryan Morgan, and it’s still a relatively young group, but with several redshirt sophomores on the roster, the staff wants to load up two grades behind them to fully stock the position for the future.

Defensive line: This has always been Duke’s deficiency, which means it will always be a priority to catch up and build depth. The Blue Devils will have to replace two starters in Wesley Oglesby and Patrick Egboh. Noseguard Charlie Hatcher will be a redshirt senior.

Cornerback: Duke only loses one starter, cornerback Chris Rwabukamba, but it’s another position that has been weak and needs better athletes.

GEORGIA TECH

Offensive line: The early departure of Nick Claytor to the NFL didn’t help the depth, but there were still several young players who gained valuable experience and others who redshirted to help the depth. While no true freshman is likely to make an immediate impact, the staff is still looking to build the numbers up front.

Linebacker/defensive line: The Jackets need to find more athletes who are suited for Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme. Fast athletes who are versatile enough to play a hybrid role, with the ability to move in space, will be a priority in this class.

MIAMI

Quarterback: With Jacory Harris being a senior, A.J. Highsmith moving to defense, and Spencer Whipple struggling in what little time he has played, the position needs a boost. It didn’t help that Teddy Bridgewater reneged on his commitment.

Linebacker: This is a position former coach Randy Shannon had put an emphasis on building, and there are young players and depth, but it was also a veteran group in the 2010 two-deep, with mainly juniors and seniors.

Wide receiver: The upperclassmen did all of the work in 2010, with Leonard Hankerson leading the way. Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson and Laron Byrd will all be seniors. An influx of young talent is needed.

Defensive end: The staff is looking to improve the depth here, get stronger up front, and build upon the success from 2010. Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, and Micanor Regis will all be seniors.

NORTH CAROLINA

Tailback: Injuries depleted this group in 2010, and Anthony Elzy, Johnny White and Shaun Draughn were both seniors. Ryan Houston was able to redshirt and will return as a fifth-year senior, but the Tar Heels need more dependable runners and a foundation for the future.

Defensive line: The Tar Heels have to prepare for some departures, especially on the interior, where all four players on the two-deep roster in 2010 were juniors.

Secondary: UNC will have to replace three starters in the secondary this spring, and three backups this year were juniors. Because of the NCAA investigation, this is a group in which backups had to develop quickly, so there are some experienced younger players, but the group still needs to reload.

Tight end: The loss of Zach Pianalto and his backup, Ed Barham, leaves the position thin.

VIRGINIA

Offensive line: With starting right guard B.J. Cabbell gone, starting center Anthony Mihota a senior, and starting left guard Austin Pasztor a senior, the staff has to prepare for some departures. Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi are talented young players, but the rotation needs more of them.

Defensive line: End Zane Parr’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft hurt the position’s depth, and the Cavs will also have to replace John-Kevin Dolce at tackle. Three other players in the two-deep will be rising seniors, and with Virginia switching back to a 4-3 defense under Mike London, the Cavs have to rebuild up front.

Secondary: Cornerback is of particular concern, as Chase Minnifield will be a senior, and starter Mike Parker will graduate.

VIRGINIA TECH

Running back: The early departures of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to the NFL left David Wilson as the only tailback with any significant experience. Overall, the Hokies have four tailbacks on their current roster.

Defensive line: The Hokies will have to replace redshirt senior starters Steven Friday and John Graves, and starting left end Chris Drager will be a redshirt senior this year.

Wide receiver/tight end: Starters Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale will be seniors, and tight end Andre Smith will graduate.

Secondary: Half the players on the two-deep roster against Stanford were either juniors or seniors, and the Hokies will have to replace rover Davon Morgan and cornerback Rashad Carmichael.

UCLA QB struggles? Now it's on Neuheisel

January, 23, 2011
1/23/11
12:03
PM ET
And so the uncomfortable Norm Chow-UCLA-Rick Neuheisel tango ends. Chow is off to Utah after reaching a "mutual agreement on the terms of their separation with the school," and the Bruins' offense moves on with Mike Johnson as offensive coordinator in what appears to be a make-or-break season for Neuheisel.

Neuheisel's staff vacancies aren't all filled, however, which is why he and former Miami coach Randy Shannon are going to chat about a vacancy at defensive coordinator.

Chow and his new team will visit their new Pac-12 South rivals on Nov. 12 in a game primed for media folk -- who me? -- who like to stir things up.

Everyone put a good face on this weekend. Neuheisel and Chow expressed their admiration for each other as well as disappointment that their pairing failed to create even mediocre offenses.

"We're disappointed it didn't turn out the way we hoped it would, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort or a lack of teamwork," Chow told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles. "Rick and I are friends. I feel like we worked very, very well together and it's just unfortunate that the results didn't show that.

"I told Rick, when all this settles down, the four of us [Chow and his wife, Diane, and Neuheisel and his wife, Susan] should all go out to dinner. "

For Utah, it looks like a big win. It gets an offensive coaching legend who knows the Pac-12 and really knows the Bruins' personnel, which will help in the head-to-head meeting.

But Utes fans shouldn't do a celebratory back flip just yet. You may want to wait for results. Start with this from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Terms of [Chow's] contract and salary with the Utes are unknown, as is the fate of current Utah co-coordinators Dave Schramm and Aaron Roderick.

Chow will be the fourth coach to serve as Utah’s offensive coordinator under [head coach Kyle] Whittingham, who just completed his sixth year as the Utes’ head coach.

Two Utes assistants will either get dumped, demoted or leave on their own (both are highly thought of). Or, if Schramm and Roderick stay, how will the offensive staff mesh? The lack of offensive continuity also is notable.

Further, Chow, 64, has now completed his third uncomfortable exit, starting with USC in 2005 and the Tennessee Titans before he arrived at UCLA. His three years at UCLA were not successful. He is one of the all-time greats, without question, but he hasn't been his all-time great self for a while.

As for UCLA, this probably feels like old news because it was reported here weeks ago. Still, there is a notable takeaway. While the headlines were about Chow leaving and the "chemistry issues" that caused it, the more important change going forward is Neuheisel taking over as his own quarterbacks coach.

Think about that for a moment. The best way to illustrate Neuheisel's frustration with the offense (Chow) the past two seasons is by playing highlights of him constantly berating his quarterbacks after they trudged off the field. Neuheisel has said this offseason that he recognizes he needs to change that -- yelling at struggling QBs typically is a recipe for disaster -- but now he'll have to hold up a mirror when he wants to hand out blame.

Chow and Neuheisel clearly had different ideas about the position. Now there's one less person at whom to point the finger.

The chief reason UCLA is 15-22 in three seasons under Neuheisel is poor QB play (poor offensive line play is a close second, which is a horrible combination to have). Neuheisel will be coaching two guys -- Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut -- with starting experience (Prince might not be 100 percent this spring after knee surgery). A third option is true freshman Brett Hundley, an elite recruit who is already enrolled and who is the future of the program.

That means Neuheisel, as head coach and QBs coach, faces a huge question this spring and preseason that might ultimately decide his fate: Who's his QB? Does he go with experience, which should be more reliable if less talented, or does he go with youthful upside that might be infuriatingly inconsistent when his job status is almost entirely about the present?

Neuheisel likely needs seven or eight wins to coach into his fifth season. The single-biggest factor in whether the Bruins get there is likely QB play.

And that will be on Neuheisel.
Here’s a quick preview of Miami’s game against Notre Dame in the Hyundai Sun Bowl:

WHO TO WATCH: Miami quarterback Jacory Harris. While he hasn’t been ruled out, it’s hard to believe quarterback Stephen Morris, who was on crutches this week after injuring his left ankle in practice, will see any significant playing time. Harris has had a roller coaster of a season, but he’ll need to be at his best against a Notre Dame defense that is allowing just 20.5 points per game. Harris has thrown 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this year, and also missed time with a concussion.

WHAT TO WATCH: Miami’s defensive line against Notre Dame’s offensive line. The Canes will be looking to pressure true freshman quarterback Tommy Rees into some mistakes, and Miami’s front four has done a good job this year of getting to quarterbacks. Rees will have to get rid of the ball quickly, as Miami’s defensive ends bring speed off the edge.

WHY TO WATCH: Regardless of the current state of both programs, the history between them is enough alone to make this game interesting. There are plenty of interesting subplots, though, as Miami is under the direction of interim head coach Jeff Stoutland, who took over when Randy Shannon was fired, and coach Al Golden, who was recently hired, will be watching. It will be interesting to see how focused Miami is considering the coaching transition it has gone through.

PREDICTION: Miami 31, Notre Dame 28. The biggest question for Miami is not talent in this game, it’s focus. The Canes have the speed and athleticism to win the game, but will they have the emotion they've lacked so many other times this season?

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