Lots of great news about Florida State athletics, FSU's rivals, and the general happening in CFB.
6. JIMBO FISHER, head coach, Florida State. First Will Muschamp burned Texas to accept the job at Florida, then the recent Dana Holgorsen/Bill Stewart feud exploded at West Virginia. It seems like one of the only "coach-in-waiting" situations that has worked out recently was Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. After contractually getting the title in 2007, Fisher waited behind the legendary Bobby Bowden to take control of the powerhouse in Tallahassee. But in those last few years under Bowden, the Seminoles had slipped from being perennial national title contenders to perennially playing December bowl games. But that all seemed to change when Fisher took the reigns and delivered the Seminoles' first 10-win season since 2003.
Now Florida State returns 17 starters from that squad, and last year's backup quarterback E.J. Manuel steps in after leading the Seminoles to victory over South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl. Fisher's promotion also paid immediate dividends on the recruiting trail, with blue-chippers like defensive back Karlos Williams and running back James Wilder Jr. giving the 'Noles their strongest haul in years. (The 2012 class, incidentally, is already shaping up to draw consideration as the nation's best.) The pundits now have Fisher's team tagged as ACC favorites, and there is once again a major buzz around Tallahassee regarding Seminoles football. Fisher has demanded that his players understand what expectations mean. "Just because you're picked to win, they don't give you a trophy when the season starts," he explained recently.
The fast-talking Fisher will fill your ear with areas where his team needs to improve. He never gets complacent, and constantly asks more from his players. It was complacency that arguably played a major role in Florida State's fall from grace after the turn of the century, and now Fisher has a great chance to restore that dominance in 2011, in just his second year as head coach. College football's next true powerhouse could get its start here. -- CP
In april I predicted who would be the breakout players in the ACC, and for those players I limited my selections to guys who had played less than half their teams minutes and were not yet household names. For this feature I’m not interested in just breaking out, but rather in identifying which players are going to be the next stars. That means they can’t have made any of the 1st – 3rd All-ACC teams, or the list of honorable mentions, for 2010-11. Just like last time I will pick one player from each team, and am presenting them in order of likelihood for making 1st Team All-ACC, beginning with the longest shot. Of the 20 players who made an All-ACC team last year, 14 graduated or committed early to the NBA. The ineligible returees are Malcolm Grant and Reggie Johnson from Miami, and the Tar Heel core of John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall. Also ineligible for this feature are incoming freshmen or transfers. This is a list of guys we’ve seen play against ACC competition, and these are the guys to watch.
In a nutshell The offense is there. The defense is not. It’s that simple for Duke, and I could stop there when describing this season in a nutshell. Looking a little closer, however, you see a young team that is still progressing on each side of the ball – yes, even the defense. Begin on offense, where it’s clear to me that the Blue Devils have rebuilt an offensive line that was nearly in shambles when Cutcliffe and his crew arrived roughly four years ago. Now, we see a group with a nice blend of returning talent, especially at center and both tackles, and young, rising talent. It all starts up front in any offense, and Duke is headed in the right direction. Renfree is an all-A.C.C. level quarterback; there are two strong receivers; and the backfield returns roughly intact. The play-calling needs some tweaking, especially when it comes to perhaps refining the running game, but the offense is there, as noted. But the defense is not up to par, and that’s why Duke is at best a borderline bowl team in 2011. The defensive line is particularly poor, though the pass rush might improve if these young ends are ready – but I don’t think they are. The front seven as a whole is a tremendous question mark, even though the secondary has potential. Take that and add a tough schedule and you have the makings of a five-win team at best, in my mind. I know I thought Duke was ready last fall, but I was clearly off. Now I think we’re a year away.
More on Duke? More on Duke. I've found this to be an interesting team and didn't follow them much recently as FSU hasn't played the Blue Devils since 2007.
I don’t mean to rag on the Blue Devils — I’m a big fan of Cutcliffe and the job he’s done — but you begin to see why it’s so difficult for the B.C.S. conference also-rans to reach bowl eligibility, let alone put together a borderline bowl team on a yearly basis.
He said UM tests randomly for drugs once a week — "I might have gotten tested once every three weeks" — and the NCAA tests once a year. Newsflash: many of your favorite players play great and smoke weed. Testing once a week is insane. Miami can't be serious about football and do this, right?
Barnes casts a very positive light on what might be ahead saying that not only could UNC avoid the "lack of institutional control" charge, its slightly less severe cousin "failure to monitor" could be off the table as well. The FTM charge could most certainly be applied to the actions of former assistant coach John Blake and also the rogue tutor Jennifer Wiley. However, Barnes says if UNC had policies in place and individuals acted on their own in contravention to those policies, the NCAA might clear UNC/Butch Davis. In other words, the "I didn’t know" defense would have worked to a certain extent. I have trouble being that optimistic about that so I am going to assume the worse until someone from the NCAA or UNC tells me otherwise. Barnes did say the Quinton Coples party fiasco(not serious enough to call it a "-gate") is going to be much ado about nothing which gels with what I am hearing.
UNC staying a good team? Keeps Miami down and helps the ACC.
Rhoads doesn’t like the new nine-game Big 12 schedule, and I don’t blame him: Iowa State is going to find six or seven wins hard to come by without a fourth non-conference game. Still, that’s life, for better or worse, and his Cyclones need to embrace the challenge, not think of what could have been. I have no doubt they will. This is a resilient bunch, one still composed of plenty of the previous regime’s recruits, and they’ve bounced back wonderfully over the last two seasons. If Iowa State does disappoint in 2011 — and disappoint is a relative term — it will not be because of a lack of fortitude; it will be because, simply put, the Cyclones don’t have the horses. The quarterback situation is muddled, and I fear that a two-man split would not be a wise move. The offensive line is weak along the interior and thin at tackle. The receiver corps is spotty and the backfield unproven. The question marks on defense revolve wholly around the line, both in stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. The latter would aid the secondary immensely, but I don’t see potential game-changers at end or inside. You don’t want to make the schedule an excuse, as this is life in the new-look Big 12. But the Cyclones do jump into 2011 with force, facing seven consecutive bowl teams after Northern Iowa and closing with three more. It doesn’t add up to a successful season. Take solace in the fact that the Cyclones will play hard every Saturday, and will probably beat one team they shouldn’t.
Colorado can sit back and take a deep breath, free from the confines of Dan Hawkins and his misguided blueprint for the program. But don’t relax for too long: come September, one of the nation’s most intimidating schedules awaits. It’s positively ghastly, providing few chances for clear wins, and it’s one reason why I’d be surprised to see Colorado make an improvement in the win column. There are other reasons for concern. One is a rookie coach in Embree, who will experience quite a learning curve in his first season. I do like his staff in spots, and having a star lieutenant in Bieniemy at his side and experienced hands like Brookhart, Brown and Scherer for support will aid him immensely. A second worry is the dearth of big-play guys on offense. Perhaps this is a slighter concern now than it was in 2010, thanks to someone like Richardson, but I’m not sure if this offense is going to strike fear into the hearts of the Pac-12. At its most basic level, is the offense potent enough to hang with a conference loaded with firepower? No group on the defense seems secure, though the defensive line looks like the strongest of the bunch. There are question marks at linebacker and particularly in the secondary. Look at some of the quarterbacks on the schedule: Foles, Barkley, Thomas, Luck, Tuel and Moniz. Think those guys aren’t salivating? Lost in the positive vibes following the coaching and conference moves is the fact that Colorado is four years removed from its last bowl trip and six years removed from its last winning season. The light is not just going to turn on, especially with a rookie coach and these issues.
Early this morning on 93.7 The Fan, former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Colin Dunlap accused Bill Stewart of calling and asking him to "dig up this dirt" on Dana Holgorsen. This conversation included Stewart asking Dunlap to investigate into any DUIs or skeletons in Holgorsen's closet. According to Dunlap, this exchange occured on December 18, just four days after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported that Holgorsen would become the coach-in-waiting for the 2011 season. The most damning quote from Dunlap: "Can you get the word ’scumbag’ tattooed on the front of the sports page?" If that's your head coach talking about your future head coach just four days into a full year's working relationship, then things are obviously not going to plan. These revelations go a long way toward illustrating just how dysfunctional the relationships inside the Puskar Center.
Have you been following this? Bill Stewart could very well lose his job. When will teams learn that using a coach in waiting system to usher out a washed-up coach isn't going to work. If a coach doesn't realize he is washed up, he won't leave! Stewart is one of the worst HCs in college football and WVU brought this upon itself by not having the guts to fire him.