Pac-12: Corey Edmond
This one's easy. Stanford is the most academically prestigious institution in FBS.
Athletic director: Bob Bowlsby, Stanford
He hired Jim Harbaugh. Things are working out there. And the Cardinal still dominates the Director's Cup standings.
This is a tough one because the Pac-10 is a conference of great destinations. Seattle nips San Francisco because neither California nor Stanford are actually located in San Francisco.
Coach: Chip Kelly
In his first year, he led Oregon to the Pac-10 championship. In his second, the Ducks are national title contenders. Not bad. And his offense is innovative and entertaining.
Oregon's facilities are as good as any program in the nation.
The Huskies averaged 63,640 fans during an 0-12 season under a coach, Tyrone Willingham, who had no support. Huskies fans bleed purple.
Game day atmosphere: Oregon
Autzen Stadium is loud as any stadium in the country. At night, it's a complete frenzy. And, by the way, it's also an immaculate, well-designed venue.
USC's white horse with its Trojan warrior rider is one of college football's most identifiable symbols.
Stadium: Rose Bowl
UCLA's home stadium is a college football church. Best sunset in all of sports.
Strength program: Arizona
Mike Stoops brought Corey Edmond along with him when Stoops was hired away from Oklahoma. It was a smart move.
Arizona: Corey Edmond
Edmond, whose title is "director of performance enhancement," joined the Arizona staff in 2004, following coach Mike Stoops over from Oklahoma, where he had been an assistant strength and conditioning coach since 1999. Before his term at Oklahoma, he was the head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga from 1995-99 and an assistant there from 1993-95. A North Carolina State graduate, Edmond played three years for the Wolfpack from 1987-90, then signed a 1991 free-agent contract with the then Houston Oilers, where he played for two years.
Arizona State: Ben Hilgart
Hilgart was named the Sun Devils Head Sports Performance Coach in January of 2008 after three seasons as an assistant with the program. Before coming to ASU in June of 2005, he spent the previous three seasons at Ohio State as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. He spent two years at UTEP as the graduate assistant strength coach after coaching the defensive line as well as serving as the head strength coach at Western Illinois University, his alma mater. He was a two-year letterman at Western Illinois, earning his bachelor's degree in physical education in 2000. He earned is master's in kinesiology from UTEP in 2003.
California: John Krasinski
Krasinski has been at California since Jeff Tedford's arrival in 2002. The two first crossed paths at Oregon, where Tedford was the Ducks offensive coordinator. Krasinski was named a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches association (CSCCa) in May of 2007, the highest honor given in the strength and conditioning coaching profession. He's heavily involved in the design and development of the new Student-Athlete High Performance Center.
Oregon: Jim Radcliffe
Radcliffe, after 25 years at Oregon, is the Pac-10's longest tenured strength and conditioning coach. He was a high school teacher before he started at Oregon in 1985. A graduate of Pacific in Forest Grove, Ore., he played four seasons at defensive back and was captain of the special teams. He earned his master’s in biomechanics from Oregon in 1992. He is certified by the United States Weightlifting Federation. He also has written books, been published in numerous professional journals and produced videos on plyometrics.
Oregon State: Bryan Miller
Miller was promoted to head of the Sports Performance Center staff in July of 2008 and oversees all the operations of the 20,000 square foot Sports Performance Center. He arrived at Oregon State in the spring of 2006 after serving as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Wisconsin. He also spent four years in the same capacity at Northern Illinois University. He played football at North Park University in Chicago, where he was a two-year letterwinner and team captain. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Specialist in Sports Conditioning and a Level I Club Coach (U.S. Weightlifting).
Stanford: Kevin Tolbert
Tolbert was promoted to the position of Head Strength and Conditioning Coach this spring after being the assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2009. Tolbert came to Stanford after one year with the Detroit Lions strength and conditioning staff, which was preceded by an eight-year stint at Michigan from 2001-07. He also coached at Miami. A native of Hempstead, NY, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1981 with a B.S. degree in physical science. He also was a three-year football letterman, helping the Midshipman to a pair of bowl appearances. [Edit note: A Stanford spokesperson wrote that Shannon Turley holds an equal position with Tolbert. You can read his bio here].
UCLA: Mike Linn
Linn, a former Bruins offensive lineman, is in the fourth year of his second tenure as UCLA’s head athletic performance coach. He's served at UCLA from 1999-2002 and from 2007 to the present. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength Coaches Association, as well as a Level One weightlifting coach. Linn also is active in community service as the organizing force behind Prime Time Games, which brings together economically disadvantaged students and children with developmental disabilities in an after-school program.
USC : Aaron Ausmus
Ausmus has been a head strength and conditioning coach at Idaho, Mississippi, North Texas and Tennessee. He was hired by new Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin in February, but the two are familiar with each other's work. Ausmus worked with Kiffin from 2001-03 when both were USC assistants, and Kiffin hired Ausmus to run the strength program at Tennessee in 2009. Kiffin is the second former USC assistant to hire Ausmus. When Idaho hired away then-Trojans assistant Nick Holt to be its head football coach, Holt brought Ausmus along. Ausmus was a two-time All-American track star -- shot put -- at Tennessee.
Washington: Ivan Lewis
Lewis followed second-year Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian from USC, and he brought along the Trojans philosophy of agility over bulk, see an offensive line that slimmed down by 20 or 30 pounds per man in many cases. During his three years at USC as a strength and conditioning assistant, Lewis worked directly with the QBs, the position then coached by Sarkisian. Lewis played football at Idaho before knee injuries ended his career.
Washington State: Darin Lovat
Lovat joined the Cougars staff before Paul Wulff's first season in 2008. Previously, he was an assistant strength coach at Boston College (2007-2008), but he worked with Wulff at Eastern Washington from 2002-2007. He also served as an assistant strength coach at UCLA from 1999-2002. The former UNLV offensive lineman has good bloodlines. His uncle, Tom Lovat, is a long-time NFL assistant coach, while his cousin, Mark Lovat, is an assistant strength coach with the Green Bay Packers.
Read Part I here.
We know the established guys: Give me some names of youngsters or former reserves who impressed you.
Seth Littrell: A guy who not a lot people have heard about who had a pretty solid spring was two guys at receiver. Gino Crump, who transferred here last year from West Virginia, has really done some good things and is developing his skills. His deal when he got here was he was inconsistent catching the football, but he did a better job hanging onto the football this spring. He didn't drop as many balls. Also a guy in the same category is Travis Cobb, who is always impressive because he's extremely fast. He can really stretch the field. The biggest thing with him was getting comfortable in the offense. He did a lot better this spring than he did last fall when I don't know how comfortable he was. He was pretty impressive in practices just going to get the football. Nick would drop back and throw a fade route and it would look like it was going to be overthrown by 10 yards and Cobb just runs and gets it. Pure speed, he's probably the fastest guy on our team. Then there's Taimi Tutogi. He played a few games last year and didn't redshirt and played as Chris Gronkowski's backup. But this spring he's really come along. We've done a lot of things with him, from the fullback position to putting him on the line as a tight end, or lining him up at tailback, which we've done in a few practices. He's a guy who, if he develops and gets that confidence as a running back, or fullback, H-back, the more we can expand his role even to tailback also. There's a lot of guys who stepped up and had good springs. Some young O-linemen. It's hard to say one guy. There's a lot of young guys who did some good things this spring.
What will be different about the offense next fall compared to what we saw in 2009?
SL: Hopefully, we'll be better. Without giving away too much, we're going to do some different things, things we were even talking about before Coach Dykes got the head job at Louisiana Tech. We're always looking to expand and looking to get better. I feel like this spring we've done some evaluations of what we feel like we need to do to be a top offense in the country. Even with Coach Scelfo coming in, bringing a new set of eyes and being able to evaluate some of the things we were doing. Sometimes it's good to have something from the outside looking in to give you a different perspective. We've been looking at some of the stuff he did at La-Tech. They were very successful there.
Tell me about how Coach Stoops decided that you would call plays?
SL: The biggest thing with this offense is we are all part of this offense. Obviously, one guy has to be designated to call the plays. In the course of the game, we're all having input. Even though I may be calling the offense, we've called it all week, we have a script, we pretty much know what we're going to do situationally throughout a game. When you're calling it, obviously you've got to get some type of game-time rhythm, know the situations and how to set stuff up. But also at the same time, Frank is going to be in the box with me. Coach Bedenbaugh will be on the field with [receivers coaches Garret Chachere and Dave Nichol]. Really, honestly, it's a matter that coach Bedenbaugh has to be on the field with the O-linemen. That's a huge role for him, being around the linemen the whole game, making adjustments. It would be pretty difficult for him to call plays from down there. Not to say he couldn't because he could but it's really just a matter of me being in the box.
Football coaches, by nature, are fiery guys, as you know from working with the Stoops brothers. Sometimes the collaborative process can get pretty animated: Think everybody will be able to get along?
SL: I don't think there's any doubt. We're all pretty passionate. I've been around coach Stoops for a long time. I played offense [at Oklahoma], but I played under Bob Stoops at OU and Mike Stoops was the D-coordinator. And I've been under [Mark] Mangino and Mike Leach and a lot of different guys. Everybody has their own fire and passion. Obviously, I've only coached with them [at Arizona] for one season but we've been around each other. One thing about Mike is he's passionate about the game but nothing is ever personal. It's about business and winning football games. He knows I'm the same way. We've always gotten along and always had a great relationship. It's going to be no different.
In 2004, he was a graduate assistant at Kansas.
In 2010, he became the Arizona Wildcats' co-offensive coordinator. And, at 31, will be the youngest play-caller in the Pac-10 and one of the youngest in the nation.
It's been a quick climb through the coaching ranks for Littrell. And there's pressure, sure. Wildcats coach Mike Stoops tapped him to fill the job capably manned last fall by Sonny Dykes, who's now Louisiana Tech's head coach, over two more veteran assistants, line coach and co-coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh and quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo.
While Littrell goes to great lengths to play down the distinction of calling plays, it's clear that Stoops believes he's got a talented young coach who's up to the job.
The good news is Littrell has a lot to work with. Seven starters return from an offense that averaged nearly 32 points per game in Pac-10 play, including quarterback Nick Foles.
With the Wildcats concluding spring practices last weekend, it seemed like a good time to check in with Littrell.
So give me the rundown of the offense this spring: What are you happy with? What didn't go as well as you wanted it to?
Seth Littrell: Overall, we were pleased. The biggest thing was the effort. We did some different things offensively that we haven't done in the past, trying some new things out to maybe fit us a little bit better personnel-wise with some guys. I think our players really enjoyed it. So overall they were pretty focused and intense. There was good competition. We had a lot of guys with a lot of returning experience so the hardest thing with that a lot of times is they get bored. We tried to find different ways to keep it exciting and keep it enthusiastic. They were willing to come out and work to become the No. 1 offense in the Pac-10, which is always what our goal is. Probably the most disappointing thing was we came out flat in the spring game. I thought we had good work for the most part leading up to that. We were pretty basic and vanilla in the game, but I was a little disappointed in how flat we were. We didn't make plays we'd made all spring. We dropped too many balls, which hadn't been a problem. Way too many turnovers. Things we didn't have issues with during the spring just kind of popped up in a game-type atmosphere. But that's really the only disappointment I had.
Nick Foles, I wouldn't say faded a bit late in the season, but he didn't have a good Holiday Bowl: Where did he get better this spring?
SL: Overall grasp of the offense. In Nick's defense, he played pretty well early in the season but each and every game we put more on him. I don't know if he faded out but looking back on it maybe we had a little too much offense. Maybe he wasn't ready for all that. That's not an excuse for him. He'd only played a few games -- he redshirted and played a few games at Michigan State [from where he transferred] -- so he's still pretty young. We probably could have kept it a little safer for him, not put so much on him. I think the thing he's really improved in is understanding the offense. Understanding that not every play has to be a touchdown. It's about moving the chains and being productive and getting the ball into other guys' hands. He doesn't have to be the superstar. There's 11 guys on the field and everybody has a role to play. He's just one part of that 11.
Where does backup quarterback Matt Scott stand?
SL: I thought Matt Scott had an unbelievable spring. He's probably been one of the guys I've been most impressed with -- he's probably had the biggest jump of anybody. Coach Scelfo does an unbelievable job with those quarterbacks. [No. 3 QB] Bryson Beirne even had a good spring. Things [Scott] needed to work on, he worked on them and bought into it and worked each and every day. He's way more accurate than he was because of the things he's worked on with Coach Scelfo. Another thing is he really took it upon himself to study the offense. He wants to get involved and learn and it showed on the field.
You oversee the running backs: Are there concerns that Nic Grigsby might not be able to stay healthy?
SL: It may appear that way, huh? It wasn't only him, though. I was down to my fifth running back last year. We played five different guys. We had to get [fullback Taimi Tutogi] ready to take some snaps at tailback. It's always a concern for running backs. I've been around offenses that have been two or three years without one injury and they've been some of the smallest guys on the field. It's always a concern, as a running backs coach, keeping your guys healthy. But as long as we're doing what we need to do in the offseason with [strength and conditioning coach Corey Edmond] and the weight room. As long as we are taking care of our bodies, I don't think that should be too big of an issue. I don't know how well we did that last year. Hopefully we learned a big lesson and are trying to protect ourselves better by taking care of our bodies and doing what is necessary in the offseason to prevent some of that.
Seems like you guys are fairly strong on the offensive line: How did they do this spring?
SL: They are a very solid group. Coach Bedenbaugh does an unbelievable job with O-linemen. Just how physical and tough those guys are. They are obviously the leaders on our offense. Everybody kind of looks to those guys and they set the tone. One thing we still have to develop is depth across the board. But when you talk about our first five -- and really up to seven or eight, we've got pretty solid guys -- we're pretty comfortable. As always, and it's the same across the country, everybody is looking for depth across the offensive line.
In Part II on Thursday, Littrell talks about youngsters who stood out this spring, changes in the offensive scheme and why he was tapped the play-caller.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Brooks Reed arrived at Arizona as a nice, clean-cut young man -- a Tucson local made good -- but in the process of becoming a workout warrior, he became Thor, the god of thunder.
|Kevin Terrell/Getty Images|
|Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed's flowing blond locks are positively Thor-like.|
Brooks' "flowing" -- his term -- blond locks and chiseled physique certainly suggest a comic book characters.
And Reed is a good example of how a young man can transform himself with hard work from an under-the-radar recruit into a potential All-Conference player.
The junior arrived at Arizona in 2006 weighing 215 pounds. He wasn't very fast, either. He enjoyed working out, but there wasn't much science to it.
He now weighs 255 pounds. And, despite the additional 40 pounds, his 40 time has dropped from the 4.8s to the 4.6s.
As a freshman, he bench pressed 315 pounds. Now he does 425. His freshman power clean was 315. Now it's 405 (a couple of times). His frosh squat was 405. Now it's 550.
He's been bothered by back issues this off-season, but he expects to peak in the late summer and tip the scales at around 260 pounds.
What he's learned training for football is simple: It isn't all about numbers and stacks of 45-pound plates.