Each week during the off-season we will be doing this feature that is simply called “This Week In College Football”. We will cover the biggest news and stories of the past week and give some opinions and analysis. In addition to covering the weekly happenings we also have started our Pre-Season Previews and we currently have 55 FBS previews up on the site. This week we previewed Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Western Michigan. Next week we will have Indiana, Iowa, Ole Miss, Rutgers, and Washington among the teams that we will preview. Let’s talk some college football:
DECISION 2011: RUSSELL WILSON
Last week we led off this column with Russell Wilson. I told you guys (and gals) that I thought Wilson would go to Auburn. I thought the pull of the SEC and more specifically Gus Malzahn and how he helped Cam Newton become a superstar would be the reasoning. I’m here to tell you that I was wrong. Wilson instead decided to go up north and will enroll at Wisconsin. I already had Wisconsin winning the Big Ten this year based on Ohio State’s issues, Nebraska’s lack of QB depth (and frailty of QB crop) and Wisconsin’s two fantastic RBs. This puts Wisconsin in the drivers seat in my opinion. You might say that Wilson will not be able to grasp the offense and the verbiage quick enough. You might say Wilson is not a good fit for the system. But I agree with our FOB (Friend of the Blog), Michael Felder, who asked a question on his podcast this week. He simply asked what does Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin’s QB from last year) do better than Russell Wilson? It’s not a knock on Tolzien, as much as it saying that at minimum Wilson will be able to do everything Tolzien did last year and most things better. The one advantage Tolzien had was his experience in the system. Despite the lack of experience in the system, look for Wilson to have an impact at Wisconsin. Don’t forget he has four non-conference games before Wisconsin plays their first Big Ten game against Nebraska. Now that’s going to be a slobber knocker!
CHIP KELLY AND THE OREGON DUCKS IN TROUBLE?
This week Yahoo Sports broke a story with a lot more info about the relationship between Will Lyles and Oregon. If want some background on this subject we touched on it way back in March. In the story from Yahoo, Lyles says Oregon did not make a direct payment for him to steer recruits to them, but then he says that he was used for his access and influence on recruits. That to me sounds like the same thing. In fact, it’s a big violation of NCAA policy if Lyles is in the recruits home (and/or communicating with them) during recruiting black-out periods in which coaches from other schools cannot contact prospective recruits. The main recruit this story centers around is Lache Seastrunk but Lyles also aided in the recruitment of Heisman candidate LaMichael James. This could be a whole lot of trouble for Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks. I think the most damning thing are the letters written by the staff of Oregon to Lyles to thank him for his recruiting efforts and Lyles saying that Kelly asked Lyles to submit “retroactive player profiles to justify the $25,000 payment to his company.” Will this cost Chip Kelly his job? I don’t think it will yet, but let’s see what else comes out about this story and how Oregon responds to the allegations.
UCF FOUND GUILTY IN DEATH OF ERECK PLANCHER
This week an Orlando jury found UCF negligent in the death of former player Ereck Plancher and awarded $10 million in damages. UCF claims that because there were no punitive damages that they feel they will win an appeal. To me, it’s a douche bag move on the part of UCF to appeal this verdict. A player died as a direct result of what some have called a “punishment” workout for players. UCF should just cut their losses, pay their fine and let this go away. As it stands right now, the longer this stays in the public eye the worse it gets for UCF and George O’Leary. If I’m a parent (which I am) with a kid who is looking to play college football (which I’m not) then there is no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that I’m letting him play for a coach and an athletic institution that subscribes to the method of winning at all costs with no remorse or ability to do the right thing and that’s how I feel about the UCF Athletic Association and Football Coaches right now. You lost your court battle, you probably should have lost your jobs. Pay the money to the family and feel lucky you are still employed.
ARIZONA STAR WR JURON CRINER MIGHT NOT PLAY IN 2011
The leading receiver in the Pac-10 last year might not play football this year. That’s big news for fans of college football. Our friends over at the Arizona Desert Swarm site had an update on this during the week so make sure you head over there and take a look. All we know is that an “undisclosed medical issue” might cause him to miss his senior season. This guy is a stud and would be a huge loss to the Arizona Wildcats, but more importantly we hope everything works out all right and that we see him back on the football field at some point.
- FSU WR Taiwan Easterling has signed with the Chicago Cubs (insert Cubs joke here) and has left the school to pursue his baseball career. Easterling was second on the team last year with 43 receptions and also 2nd on the team with 5 TD receptions. FSU has a pretty good receiving unit but anytime you lose someone with those numbers it will hurt.
- Former Pittsburgh coach Mike Haywood, hey wait a minute if you never actually coached a game for a team are you still considered a “former” coach for that team, has requested that state and federal agencies investigate his firing. Really? He was dismissed after he was arrested during a domestic disturbance at his house in January. Let me save the state some time. YOU WERE FIRED BECAUSE YOU GOT ARRESTED. NEXT TIME DON’T GET ARRESTED AND YOU WON’T BE FIRED.
- Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson hasn’t had quite the impact in his current job as he has had in the past. At Miami he was 63-9, at Oregon State he was 31-17, at Arizona State he is only 25-24 and has only one winning season in four attempts. Former player Kerry Taylor, who led the team in receiving last year with 54 receptions, has let it be known that if the Sun Devils want to win the Pac-12 they need a new head coach. Strong words from a former standout player.
- UNC Defensive Star Quinton Coples has been cleared by the NCAA after being investigated for attending a draft part for former teammate Marvin Austin. This is great news for Butch Davis and the Tar Heels coming on the heels (no pun intended) of their NoA from the NCAA. Put on your chin-straps ACC offensive linemen, this guy is coming for your QB.
- The Florida Gators have lost yet another player to transfer since the arrival of Will Muschamp. Seems like every week the Gators make this column, just last week we were talking about Chris Martin transferring. This week it’s TE Michael McFarland who becomes the sixth player to transfer since the arrival of Will Muschamp. TE is a pretty thin position right now at Florida and they are starting to look thin at a few positions. What happens when a couple of guys go down with injury (which will happen). Depth is a huge factor when you play in the SEC. Depth becomes an issue on game day and in practice. Florida has the talent to compete for the SEC East Championship but will they have the depth?