Thursday, December 31, 2009
See? Tennessee does have one redeeming virtue.
I look forward to a spirited game tonight that should go back and forth. I of course picked the fighting creamsicles (UT) in my preview, but there's no question where my allegiances lie.
I'm still a little concerned about the game, but Frank Beamer > Lane Kiffin any day of the week, and I like Lane for some reason (could it be his gorgeous wife Layla?)
Anyway, Go Hokies and to even out all these Vol photos, here are some lovely Tech ladies.
Now former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach is one of my favorite characters in the colorful world of college football.
Leach is as well known for his quirky personality as he is for his wide-open, pass-happy offense that has thrilled the folks of west Texas for the last 10 seasons.
Personally, I root for a guy who professes a love of Pirates, American Indians and pretty much any other subject you can think of.
I won't rehash the details of the story that led up to Leach's firing as you can find them everywhere, but I would encourage everyone to read this list of emails sent in support of Leach from former players and coaches.
This whole thing is going to get really messy before it's all over. Did I mention Leach got his Juris Doctor from Pepperdine School of Law?
Something tells me the pirate lawyer has a few motions he's yet to file.
And my personal favorite, Mike Leach's dating advice. Funny and actually not bad advice.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The 2009 Virginia Tech Hokies will finish their season where it began, playing an SEC team in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Since they last met in the 1994 Gator Bowl when a young quarterback named Peyton Manning led Tennessee to a decisive victory, fans of the Hokies and Volunteers have been clamoring for a rematch.
The two fan bases have been intermingling for years and Hokies everywhere would love nothing more than regional bragging rights heading into the new year.
On paper, this may or may not appear to be an exciting match up. That all depends on your preferred brand of football.
This game matches two of the best defensive minds in football in Monte Kiffin and Bud Foster.
Despite Kiffin’s NFL background, the two coaches employ very similar defensive styles.
Both have aggressive, attacking defenses designed to hit the ball-carrier with multiple defenders with the goal of creating a turnover. They both use a myriad of coverage looks that have confused more than a few opposing quarterbacks.
Obviously the big name of Tennessee’s unit is All-everything safety Eric Berry.
The 2009 Thorpe award winner is the nation’s top defensive back, but he doesn’t really play like one.
Berry will drop back in coverage, but he also will play up near the line like an extra linebacker and if Tyrod Taylor has any success running the football, don’t be surprised to see Berry spy him.
Berry isn’t the only one Tech has to look out for on defense.
Senior Dan Williams is a 6’3”, 327-pound handful at tackle. He’s by far the largest defender on an undersized defensive line. What the Vols lack in size, they make up for in speed.
Chris Walker is a playmaker at defensive end, leading the team with 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Despite those players, the Volunteer defense isn’t without weakness.
Tennessee is on their third middle linebacker of the season, losing the first two to injury.
Redshirt freshman Herman Lathers has been filling the middle down the stretch. In his four games as a starter the Vols have allowed just over 213 rushing yards per game.
That likely has the Hokie offensive lineman and tailback Ryan Williams licking their collective chops.
The Hokies should be able to run the football with Williams and Taylor, and there will be opportunities in the passing game.
The Volunteer schemes lend themselves to allowing short passes, something the Hokies have been improving as the season has progressed. A few well-timed screen passes would serve Tech well.
The Hokies will also look to challenge Tennessee down the field when Berry is playing close to the line. If Tech can hit a couple of big-gainers, they stand a terrific shot at winning the game.
The Volunteer offense has its share of weapons as well.
Senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton struggled at the start of the year, but recovered to have a very strong season. Crompton threw for over 2,500 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Crompton’s favorite target is who has 41 catches for 610 yards on the season, but the Vols have eight players with at least 10 catches on the year. Crompton clearly likes to spread the ball around.
Montario Hardesty is a strong runner who exhibits both power and speed. On the year, Hardesty rushed for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns.
If there’s anyone happy about the bowl game break, it’s Hardesty. In Tennessee’s final two games of the regular season, he carried the ball 71 times.
The Hokie run defense improved dramatically as the year progressed. Pass defense has been a bit more inconsistent and won’t be helped by the absence of starting corner Stephan Virgil who was declared academically ineligible for the game.
Either Cris Hill or freshman punt returner Jayron Hosely will fill in for Virgil. It’s also possible both will play as Hill struggled in the game he started earlier this season against Marshall.
Look for Crompton to test the Hokie pass defense early and often. The weak spot is right down the middle as Alabama can tell you. The Crimson Tide attacked free safety Kam Chancellor time after time and exploited the weakness quite effectively.
Under Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech is a miserable 2-11 playing in domes. Tech is 0-2 in Atlanta this season and has never won back-to-back bowl games during the Beamer era. Of course, Lane Kiffin hasn’t won any bowl games and it’s difficult not to weigh his lack of experience in bowl preparations when picking a winner here.
The Hokies have laid a few eggs in their last couple games against an SEC opponent, and even though the Hokies are a better team on paper, Tennessee is a much better club than their 7-5 record would indicate.
My heart, my college degree and the majority of my wardrobe tell me the I love Virginia Tech and the Hokies can pull this one out. My brain on the other hand tells me that until they prove they can beat an SEC team on a big stage, it’s a risky pick.
Virginia Tech 21
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
If for some inexplicable reason you took the predictions made by the Stars and Slights team to assist your bowl game selections you're probably kicking yourself right now.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I decided to post a video on a whim and noticed that we've made 299 posts.
This isn't a particularly exciting milestone, it's merely a round number.
I consider it somewhat impressive, but I'll wax poetic when we reach higher figures. None the less, thanks to everyone who reads or has read our random musings anyway.
I'm posting this video because it shows what was, in my opinion, the most dominant run by Virginia Tech tailback Ryan Williams all season.
I can only hope that "Lil' Sweetness" has a few moves like this in store for Tennessee.
Consider this the kickoff for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl coverage bonanza.
On a side note, I apologize for the average to mediocre bowl banner on the right. I'm learning GIMP, a freely distributed photo editing program. If you learned such skills on Photoshop, GIMP is a bit...I think dumb is the word, but it's free and I'll figure it out in time.
Onward to the video. Again this is Ryan Williams providing some public transportation.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
December 10, 2009
Brian Kelly Named 29th Head Football Coach at Notre Dame
Brian Kelly, a veteran of 19 seasons as a collegiate head coach -- and most recently the architect of two consecutive Bowl Championship Series appearances at the University of Cincinnati, including a perfect 12-0 regular season in 2009 that earned him national-coach-of-the-year honors – tonight has been named the 29th head football coach at the University of Notre Dame.
Currently the ninth-winningest active coach in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in terms of victories, Kelly has signed a five-year contract to coach the Irish. He will be introduced at a 1:30 p.m. EST Friday press conference at the Guglielmino Athletics Center. Kelly officially takes over at Notre Dame on Monday; he will not coach the Bearcats in their Sugar Bowl date against Florida.
Kelly’s head coaching resume includes:
- Three seasons at Cincinnati from 2007-09, including a 34-6 record (.850) and two straight outright BIG EAST Conference title teams that earned BCS appearances in 2008 (Orange Bowl) and ’09 (Sugar Bowl).
- Three seasons at Central Michigan University from 2004-06, including a 19-16 overall record (.542) that featured a 9-4 mark and Mid-American Conference title in 2006.
- Thirteen seasons at Grand Valley State University from 1991-2003, including a 118-35-2 record (.767) that was highlighted by NCAA Division II national championships in 2002 (14-0) and 2003 (14-1).
- An overall record of 171-57-2 (.747) in those 19 seasons as a head coach.
“I am very pleased that a thorough and extensive search has led us to a new head coach in Brian Kelly, who I am confident will help us accomplish our goal of competing for national championships,” said Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick.
“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Brian and his family to the Notre Dame family,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “He brings to us a long and successful career as a head coach, and I am confident that he will have even greater success here. I’m also very pleased that he has put considerable emphasis on excellence in the classroom and that his student-athletes graduate at a rate well above the norm.”
Kelly earned the Home Depot National Coach of the Year Award in 2009, was the BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2009 (the first time a BIG EAST football coach has won the award three straight years) -- and was the American Football Coaches Association Division II Coach of the Year in both 2002 and 2003. Kelly currently ranks ninth among active FBS head coaches in victories with 171. He is the winningest active BIG EAST football coach and the only league coach with more than 150 wins.
He boasted a 2-1 record at Cincinnati in postseason bowl games – including a 27-24 win over Western Michigan in the International Bowl after the 2006 season (he coached in that game immediately after taking the job at Cincinnati), a 31-21 win over Southern Mississippi in the Papajohns.com Bowl after the ’07 season and a 20-7 loss to Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl after the ’08 campaign. Kelly’s ’06 Central Michigan team finished 9-4 and qualified for the Motor City Bowl (Central Michigan defeated Middle Tennessee 31-14, though he did not coach after accepting the head coaching position at Cincinnati) – and his 12-0 team in ’09 earned a Sugar Bowl assignment against Florida.
In six NCAA Division II playoff appearances at Grand Valley State, Kelly’s teams combined for an 11-4 (.733) postseason record – including four straight victories in winning both the ’02 and ’03 NCAA titles. His ’01 Grand Valley State team fell 17-14 to North Dakota in the Division II national title game.
Kelly’s ’09 team at Cincinnati finished third in the final BCS standings and fourth in both the final regular-season Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls. His ’08 team ended up 11-3 and 17th in both polls – and his ‘07 Bearcat squad finished 10-3 and 17th (AP) and 20th (USA Today/ESPN) in the final polls.
His 2009 Cincinnati team won all 12 of its regular-season games, led the nation in passing efficiency (166.19), ranked second in kickoff returns (29.2 each) and sixth in total offense (464.25 yards per game), passing yardage (320.33) and scoring (39.83 points). Meanwhile, Kelly’s Bearcat defense rated third nationally in tackles for losses (8.42 per game) and eighth in sacks (2.92). Among the standouts he coached on the ’09 Bearcat roster are first-team All-America receiver Mardy Gilyard (he ranks second nationally in all-purpose yards at 203.5 per game) and quarterback Tony Pike (ninth in passing efficiency at 155.36). Eleven Cincinnati players merited all-BIG EAST honors for ’09 (five first-team selections), including Gilyard, the league’s Special Teams Player of the Year for the second straight season.
In three years at the helm of the program, Kelly put together a 34-6 record and led the Bearcats to their first two BIG EAST Conference championships in 2008 and ‘09. Cincinnati achieved a then-school-record 11 victories in 2008, followed that up with a dozen wins in ’09, and had back-to-back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history. Kelly’s Bearcats in ’08 won the school's first outright conference championship since 1964, and earned the school's first berth in a BCS game, playing against Virginia Tech in the 75th FedEx Orange Bowl. In ’08 Cincinnati achieved its then-highest ranking to close the regular season – 12th in the AP and USA Today/ESPN polls and the BCS standings entering the Orange Bowl. The Bearcats held down a postseason ranking of 17th in both polls, tying the top postseason ranking in school history and marking the first time Cincinnati was ranked in the end-of-season polls in school history.
Following the close of the ’08 regular season, Kelly was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the second straight season. He also was named the American Football Monthly Schutt Sports FBS Coach of the Year, earned AFCA Region 1 Coach of the Year honors and was named BIG EAST Coach of the Year by Sporting News.
Cincinnati placed 10 players on the 2008 all-BIG EAST teams (including first-team selection Connor Barwin) – with kick returner Gilyard named the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year and punter Kevin Huber earning the first AFCA All-America nod in program history. Huber became the first two-time AP first-team All-America selection in Bearcat football history.
The Bearcats' 27-24 bowl victory over Western Michigan in 2006 came just 34 days after his hiring. Then, in his first full season at the helm in ‘07, Kelly put the Bearcats on the national radar by jumping out to a 6-0 start and earning the Bearcats their first appearance in the polls in more than 30 years. By winning 10 games for the first time since 1951, the Bearcats earned their 10th bowl appearance in program history and sixth bowl appearance in eight years. Cincinnati finished 17th in the AP poll, earning its first appearance in a final poll.
Along the way to the 2007 Papajohns.com Bowl victory, the Bearcats’ third straight bowl win, Kelly earned BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors. Cincinnati listed seven individuals on the all-BIG EAST teams, including BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year and consensus All-America punter Huber. The national leader in punting, Huber was one of three Bearcats to be named to an All-America team. Cincinnati ranked second in the BIG EAST and 24th nationally in passing offense (254.1), and was also second in the league and 27th nationally in passing efficiency (139.4). At the same time, the Bearcat defense led the BIG EAST in sacks (2.9) and tackles for a loss (6.5). Kelly’s Bearcats led the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in net punting with an average of 41.5 yards per punt. Cincinnati also led the BIG EAST in kickoff returns (24.2).
During his three years at Central Michigan, he transformed a Chippewa program that had won more than three games only once in the past four seasons into a conference champion. Central Michigan posted a 9-4 record in 2006 en route to winning the MAC title and qualifying for its first bowl game in 12 years. Kelly inherited a program that had produced a mere 12 wins over its previous four seasons when he took the helm at Central Michigan in 2004. He guided the Chippewas to a 4-7 record in 2004 and a 6-5 slate -- the school's first winning season in seven years -- in 2005.
The Chippewas in 2005 defeated both defending MAC divisional champions, Miami and Toledo, and also knocked off eventual ‘05 league champ Akron. Central Michigan was ranked 35th nationally in total offense and 26th in passing offense while the team's rushing defense was ranked 20th (while leading the MAC at 113.7 yards per game, compared to 245.8 in ’03 -- the year before Kelly arrived). Kelly's 2006 Chippewas lost non-conference contests to bowl-bound Boston College and Kentucky by a combined 16 points. Central Michigan rolled up a 7-1 record in conference play to win the MAC West, then dominated Ohio 31-10 in the league championship game. Central Michigan boasted the 19th-most prolific passing attack in the nation, averaging 252.4 yards per game, and was ranked 31st in total offense (380.2 yards per game) and 24th in scoring offense (29.6 points). Quarterback Dan LeFevour, a freshman who passed for 2,869 yards and 25 touchdowns, was ranked 20th in passing efficiency and 14th in total offense. Kelly had 12 of his players achieve first-team all-conference honors over his three years at Central Michigan (including ’05 MAC Defensive Player of the Year Daniel Bazuin) -- and three advanced to the NFL (including 2005 draftees Eric Ghiacuic and Adam Kieft and free agent Tory Humphrey).
Kelly arrived at Central Michigan after winning the back-to-back NCAA Division II national titles at Grand Valley State. The Lakers were 41-2 in Kelly's final three seasons, at one point winning 32 consecutive games. Grand Valley State went 14-0 in 2002 en route to its first national title and was 14-1 in 2003 when it claimed its second crown. Kelly was named the AFCA Division II Coach of the Year after both seasons. Kelly led the Lakers to five conference titles and six Division II playoff appearances in his 13 seasons at Grand Valley. The Lakers never finished lower than third in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference.
Kelly mentored a pair of finalists for the Harlon Hill Award, presented annually to the top player in Division II. Curt Anes won the award in 2002 after finishing as runner-up in 2001, while Jeff Fox was third in the balloting in 1998. Both players were quarterbacks in Kelly's system. Kelly's Grand Valley State players earned 77 All-America awards (11 in 2002 alone). Four players moved on to the NFL and another three to the Canadian Football League.
His 2001 national runner-up squad set 77 NCAA, GLIAC and school records, including the all-time Division II scoring record by averaging 58.4 points per game. The 2001 team also became the first Division II unit in 53 years to average more than 600 yards per game in total offense (600.8). Grand Valley State followed up its record-shattering 2001 season by averaging 497.5 yards and 47.0 points during its undefeated 2002 national championship run (that ended with a 31-24 championship game win over Valdosta State) The 2003 team, meanwhile, was more noted for its defense. The Lakers defeated North Dakota 10-3 in the 2003 national title game. In 10 of his 13 seasons at Grand Valley State, Kelly’s teams won eight or more games – and he finished with a 103-22-2 mark in GLIAC contests.
Born Oct. 25, 1961, in Everett, Mass., and raised in Chelsea, Mass., Kelly attended St. John's Prep School in Danvers, Mass. He was a four-year letter-winner at Assumption College (Worchester, Mass.) as a linebacker, captaining the squad in both ’81 and ’82 under coach Paul Cantiani on teams that finished 8-3 and 7-1-1. After graduating from Assumption in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in political science, he served as linebacker coach, defensive coordinator and softball coach from 1983-86 at Assumption under head football coach Bernie Gaughan.
Kelly joined the Grand Valley State staff in 1987 as a graduate assistant and defensive backs coach. He became the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 1989 and took over as head coach in 1991 (replacing Tom Beck, who left to become running backs coach at Notre Dame under Lou Holtz). His very first team Laker team finished 9-3 and qualified for the NCAA playoffs. In 2009 Kelly was inducted into the Grand Valley State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Kelly has served on the AFCA Ethics Committee – and he’s currently one of 59 FBS head coaches who vote in the USA Today poll.
Kelly and his wife Paqui are parents of three children – Patrick, Grace and Kenzel.
It's official: Golden Tate was the best collegiate receiver in the 2009 football season. He took home the distinguished honor earlier tonight by winning The Biltnekoff award at the annual college football awards in Disney World.
As Justin announced less than an hour ago Brian Kelly will leave the University of Cincinnati for greener, colder pastures in South Bend, IN as the new head coach of the Fighting Irish.
The University of Cincinnati has yet to officially confirm that their head football coach Brian Kelly has accepted the head coaching position at Notre Dame, but that's clearly the case and all signs point to an official announcement tomorrow.
After winning the coach of the year award on ESPN's awards show Thursday night, Chris Fowler tried and tried to get any sort of answer from Kelly on the matter, but to no avail.
The Cincinnati players have done what Fowler couldn't however which is get an answer as Kelly told the team in a closed door meeting following their team banquet that he had indeed accepted the job at Notre Dame.
Senior standout receiver Mardy Gilyard walked out of the meeting after just 1 minute and was clearly upset.
"I heard everything I needed to know: 'I accepted the Notre Dame job,'" Gilyard said. "He went for the money. I'm fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long."
"I feel there was a little lying in the thing," Gilyard added. "I feel like he'd known this the whole time. Everybody knows Notre Dame's got the money. I kind of had a gut feeling he was going to stay just because he told me he was going to be here."
Gilyard wasn't the only Bearcat feeling the sting of Kelly's departure.
Star quarterback Tony Pike explained that Kelly told players last week that he was happy at Cincinnati.
"The Tuesday when we were practicing for Pittsburgh, he said he loves it here and he loves this team and loves coaching here and his family loves it here," Pike said.
I'm already decidedly on the record as not being a fan of Kelly, and I won't rehash that here.
However, while I understand the need and desire to keep the process quiet, misleading your own players is pretty low.
Sure, word would have leaked out had they known, but tomorrow at his Irish press conference, it will ring a bit hollow when they speak of Kelly's honesty and integrity.
Maybe I'm wrong and Kelly actually is a really nice guy. But his public perception is curious at best. There seem to be more than a few negatives out there, but he will be given a chance to change that at Notre Dame.
Kelly will almost certainly not coach his undefeated team in the Sugar Bowl, and they will get trounced because they just aren't that good.
The book is still out on Kelly.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
So, I haven't posted anything recently. I've been in a motivational rut and while I still haven't gotten out of it, I felt compelled to post something.
I have been wanting to give some props to Michael Vick who played his most significant game since his return to the NFL last Sunday.
Vick returned to Atlanta, a city he once owned where he was loved by all and exulted as the greatest athlete and biggest celebrity in a city filled with both.
He was greeted with a fairly even mix of boos and cheers. I expected it, but still found people booing the only man that ever really made the Falcons matter pretty comical.
I understand the feelings of betrayal and the broken trust. It's just heartwarming to see how quickly people turn on one another when someone screws up. Just ask Tiger Woods.
Anyway, Vick played great, completing two of two passes for 48 yards and a touchdown and rushing four times for 17 yards and a touchdown.
It was the 11th time in his NFL career that Vick scored at least one rushing and passing touchdown in the same game.
It was a lot of fun to watch, and it was nice to see the Eagles actually use Vick in a smart way for once.
Vick had been made pretty much just a wildcat runner, which essentially set him up for failure. The defense stopped respecting his passing ability completely because he never did it.
Maybe now defenders will have a reason to think twice.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Another year brings us yet another song of the day feature from the brilliant and humble men of Dillon Hall on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.
beer drinking and visionary electrical engineering. A shout out to longtime faithful Stars and Slights reader Nicky Dubs for the tip on the videos.
Friday, December 4, 2009
I took an extra day of procrastination and missed picking one of the best games of the weekend in Oregon-Oregon State Thursday night.
The Ducks flew together in that one and set the stage for a big weekend.
There are some even match ups this weekend. There should be plenty of exciting football tomorrow.
I look forward to the looming BCS disaster with all the potentially undefeated teams.
No. 21 Houston defeats East Carolina
No. 18 USC defeats Arizona
No. 19 California defeats Washington
No. 10 Georgia Tech defeats Clemson
No. 3 Texas defeats No. 22 Nebraska
And the big one...
No. 2 Alabama defeats No. 1 Florida
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Well, I won't go into the specific criteria. We have developed a list of criteria to help us shape the search. But I think I will say that it is important to us to look first and foremost at people who have demonstrated an ability to build and sustain a Division I college football program.
Sore Losers or Sorely Missed?
Many people scream sour grapes whenever Notre Dame fans talk about the storied Irish past. They claim that domers cry wolf when defending the current state of the program by referencing the storied past.
Run through any rational person's list of top collegiate football programs over the years and Notre Dame without question makes every list (along with the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Southern Cal, Florida, Alabama, and Ohio State).
Well, I think Notre Dame remains a critical piece of the college football landscape. There is no denying our recent struggles, but that doesn't change the equity of the brand or the importance of Notre Dame being able to succeed.We need to prove, as I was quoted as saying recently, that universities who are committed to integrating the student athlete, first and foremost, into the university of students, can also have them achieve optimal football success as athletes. It's important for the entire industry that we be able to do that. We have the background and I believe the equity to do it, and we now have the foundation laid and the improvements made in the program in recent years to put us in a position to do that.