Posted on: February 7, 2012 9:27 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 9:31 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Just a few days after losing linebackers coach Joe Barry to the NFL, USC is down another staff member after wide receiver Ted Gilmore accepted the same position with the Oakland Raiders, a source told CBSSports.com.
Gilmore, 44, came to USC just a year ago from Nebraska, where he spent six years coaching receivers and four holding the role of recruiting coordinator.
A Wichita, Kansas native, Gilmore played his college ball at Wyoming before starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant there. He also had stops at Kansas, Houston, Purdue and Colorado before his stint at Nebraksa.
Under Gilmore, USC's receiving corps had a breakout year in 2011. Sophomore Robert Woods developed into a Biletnikoff Award finalist and teammate Marqise Lee was named a Freshman All-American. Whoever takes Gilmore's spot will not only have those two to work with but former prep All-American George Farmer and incoming five-star athlete Nelson Agholor.
Head coach Lane Kiffin, in addition to Gilmore and Barry's spots, is also looking for a defensive backs coach. The Trojans' Spring practice starts in just four weeks as the team likely heads into 2012 as a pre-season top two team.
The Raiders are becoming familiar with poaching Pac-12 assistants having hired former Stanford defensive coordinator Jason Tarver on Monday.
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Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:05 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
"I think I am going to go ahead and enter the NFL Draft," he said, "and see what happens after that."
We already have some idea what's going to happen "after that"--Blackmon will be selected among the very top picks in the Draft, sign a contract worth millions, and very likely go on to become an excellent professional receiver. But nothing Blackmon will do "after that" will better the excitement of what he's accomplished before that at Oklahoma State, where heading into Monday's Fiesta Bowl he had already rewritten the school's receiving record book and won a pair of Biletnikoff Awards as the nation's best receiver.
Likewise, we can already write most of the "after that" for Andrew Luck. The two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up is about to go No. 1 overall in the draft and has a chance to follow in the footsteps of Peyton Manning -- maybe even at the same franchise -- as the kind of superstar pocket-passing quarterback NFL dynasties are built around. But before that, there was three seasons of pure All-American brilliance in which his Cardinal set a school record for scoring all three seasons.
For both players, the Fiesta was the final night of "before that," the final game in the collegiate careers of two of college football's most blinding stars. So it was only appropriate that with the rare chance to square off against a star of equal caliber -- in a bowl that employs the sun in its logo, no less -- both Blackmon and Luck went flat-out supernova.
Blackmon's team won, but no one would have blinked if Luck had been named the game's MVP. His numbers were phenomenal, of course: 27-of-31, 347 yards (11.2 an attempt), 2 touchdowns. He went 8-of-8 in the fourth quarter, expertly managing drives both fast (the 63-yard drive over the final 2:35 to set up Jordan Williamson's ill-fated 35-yard attempt) and slow (the 13-play, 69-yard TD march that ate up 7:21 of the final period).
But most impressive was the 10.0 degree-of-difficulty throws Luck uncorked with regularity. Passes like the one delivered to Griff Whalen in the second quarter -- an over-the-shoulder "bucket" throw to a receiver sprinting down the sideline, made with Luck moving to his right -- are referred to as "NFL throws," but we're not sure half the League's starters could make them the way Luck does. You could say Luck showed off "the complete package" against the Cowboys, but that doesn't do justice to how expansive that package is.
And still, Luck might have been the second-best player on the field. Blackmon finished with 8 catches for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns, but again, the stats don't do justice to either his physical dominance -- one-on-one coverage was a lost cause for the Cardinal -- or his knack for making those catches at the best possible time.
With the Cowboys reeling from a lost first quarter and a 14-0 deficit, it was Blackmon who pulled in a pair of lightning bolt scores (one 43 yards, the other 67) to get his team back in the game. Facing a 4th-and-4 at the Stanford 32 and his team down again late in the second quarter, it was Blackmon who caught a short pass and brushed aside two Cardinal tacklers to set up a first-and-goal (and eventual touchdown). Down seven again after a disastrous third quarter, it was Blackmon scoring to tie it (again) to start the fourth. And finally, 4th-and-3 on OSU's own 40 with under 3:30 to play and the Cowboys in "touchdown or bust" desperation mode, it was Blackmon who again abused his defender for 21 yards.
The 2012 Fiesta Bowl would have been remembered for a long, long time even without Luck's and Blackmon's fireworks; 41-38 overtime shootouts between two top-five teams decided by a heartbreaking field goal miss have a way of sticking around the game's collective memory. But what elevated the contest to stone-cold classic status was seeing two players of Luck's and Blackmon's historic talent both grab the same game by the teeth and refuse for 60 minutes -- and beyond -- to let go. It's maybe not fair to the excellent Brandon Weeden or Stepfan Taylor to reduce the game to a mano a mano battle between that quarterback on that side and that receiver on that side, but Luck and Blackmon didn't give us much choice.
And at the end of each of their respective times in college football, that's exactly how it should have been. "After that" will be interesting. But for a night, Luck's and Blackmon's shared "before that" was as good as it's possible to get.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 11:24 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
While the Heisman gets its own show, the rest of the major awards in college football will be given out tonight. And while, by most accounts, the Heisman Trophy's destination is seriously lacking in drama, there could be a few surprises in tonight's ceremony.
Awards like the Davey O'Brien, the Doak Walker, the Bednarik and many more are all going to be given away tonight, and we'll be updating this post all night long as every award is handed out.
DAVEY O'BRIEN AWARD (best quarterback)
WINNER: Robert Griffin, Baylor
This is a pretty good sign for the man considered to be the Heisman front-runner. Griffin emerged victorious in a group consisting of Andrew Luck and Case Keenum, and it's hard to argue with him winning the award. Griffin had a monster season for Baylor throwing for 3,998 yards, 36 touchdowns and set an NCAA record with a QB rating of 192.3.
CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD (best defensive player)
WINNER: Tyrann Mathieu, defensive back, LSU
The Bednarik Award belongs to LSU and the number 7. Last year it was Patrick Petersen claiming the award, and this year the Honey Badger took it. Mathieu has been a force on what could be the best defense in the country all year long. Seemingly every time there was a game-changing play created by the LSU defense, Mathieu was either starting it or finishing it. Often times both.
BILETNIKOFF AWARD (best wide receiver)
WINNER: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Justin Blackmon liked winning the Biletnikoff Award so much in 2010, he decided to do it again in 2011. Blackmon didn't have as amazing a season in 2011 as he did in 2010, but finishing the year with 113 catches for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns is a superhuman way to regress. Blackmon is only the second person to ever win the award in consecutive seasons, with Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree being the first.
RAY GUY AWARD (best punter)
WINNER: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
Ryan Allen is the first player in Louisiana Tech history to win the Ray Guy Award. Allen finished the season averaging 46.3 yards per punt, and downed more punts inside the 20 and 10-yard lines than any other punter in the country.
LOU GROZA AWARD (best kicker)
WINNER: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M
Randy Bullock is the first Texas A&M kicker to win the Lou Groza Award. Bullock made more field goals (25) than any other kicker in college football this season, converting on 86.2 % of them, and hitting 11 of 13 from 40 yards or more.
DOAK WALKER AWARD (best running back)
WINNER: Trent Richardson, Alabama
Alabama may have a Heisman-winning running back in its history, but Trent Richardson is the first running back in school history to win the Doak Walker Award. Richardson edged out Montee Ball and LaMichael James for the award. He finished the 2011 season with 1,910 total yards and 23 total touchdowns.
COACH OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Les Miles, LSU
Hard to argue with this one, isn't it? After all, no matter where you fell on the debate between Alabama and Oklahoma State, there's little question who the best team in the country was this season, and that was LSU. So it only makes sense that the man in charge of all that would win the Coach of the Year.
JIM THORPE AWARD (best defensive back)
WINNER: Morris Claiborne, LSU
LSU once agains wins a second consecutive award that Patrick Peterson won last season, but this time it's Morris Claiborne taking the trophy, not Tyrann Mathieu. Not exactly a shock, as Claiborne intercepted 6 passes this season and nearly 30 yards per interception return.
OUTLAND TROPHY (best interior lineman)
WINNER: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Jones is the third player in Alabama history to win the Outland Trophy. Trent Richardson has gotten a lot of attention and acclaim for his performance this season, but somebody had to open those holes for him. Barrett Jones was the best player on a strong Alabama offensive line this season.
MAXWELL AWARD (best all-around)
WINNER: Andrew Luck, Stanford
Andrew Luck joins Jim Plunkett as the second Stanford quarterback to win the Maxwell Award. Luck also won the Walter Camp Award on Thursday. Luck threw for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns for Stanford in 2011.
Tags: 2011 College Football Awards, Andrew Luck, Barrett Jones, Biletnikoff Award, Case Keenum, Chuck Bednarik Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Doak Walker Award, Jim Thorpe Award, LaMichael James, Les Miles, Lou Groza Award, Maxwell Award, Montee Ball, Morris Claiborne, Outland Trophy, Patrick Peterson, Randy Bullock, Ray Guy Award, Robert Griffin, Ryan Allen, Tom Fornelli, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu
Posted on: November 27, 2011 1:05 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 3:53 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
LOS ANGELES -- Lane Kiffin did what he could to get Matt Barkley to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
USC receivers just kept running routes and, thanks to Barkley, UCLA fell on the wrong end of a rout once again.
It had been 534 days but USC could finally say they were bowl eligible too.
The Trojans have to win at least six games next season to qualify for a bowl of course - a near certainty given the amount of talent returning in 2012 - but on the Coliseum turf Saturday night, they could finally say they had the right to play in one after shutting out their crosstown rival UCLA 50-0.
The only question left in 2011: One more year or thanks for the memories Matt?
"This night is too special to take away from what we've done," Barkley said. "I don't want to worry about my future, I want to spend my time enjoying the night. We've worked hard for this and we deserve to celebrate a little bit."
Barkley's team jumped the gun a little, singing the fight song while he was in the middle of his press conference.
"That gave me chills."
In what could have been the quarterback's final performance under center, he went out close to perfect: 35-for-42, 423 yards and a school record-tying (his own, by the way) six touchdown passes.
The fans want an encore next year and you can understand why.
"When he gets back from New York we will sit down," Kiffin said. "Unless he just wants to do it to be a special Trojan, he is not coming back.
"I probably shouldn't say this but I look up to Matt Barkley. He has been through a lot of adversity. Basically all of his dreams about football were taken away with the sanctions. I don't know any 39-year olds that can handle things the way he did, much less any 19-year olds."
The pitch to stay is easy enough he doesn't have to say much at all.
USC started just only four seniors, two of whom were on offense. Just nine players who saw any significant playing time won't be back next year prior to any NFL defections. Biletnikoff finalist Robert Woods (13 catches for 113 yards, two touchdowns) will return and Marqise Lee (13 catches for 224 yards, two touchdowns) will be just a sophomore. Every starter on the offensive line could return, including potential first round left tackle Matt Kalil, who he said is a "package deal" with Barkley earlier in the week.
Even the defense is loaded, with two freshman tying for the lead in tackles for the first time in school history.
So the question will be, for the next several weeks, will he stay or will he go?
"I've been in his ear trying to get him back," Woods said. "Of course the decision is his but I feel like we could go a long way with him."
"I haven't started yet," Lee said with a grin. "But I'm going to."
Kiffin has been on record saying that sure-fire first round picks should leave but his tune has changed over the past few months. Not much of a joker, he's cracks plenty about his quarterback coming back.
With Barkley the Trojans can emerge from their bowl ban (and start scholarship reductions) as a top five team, primed to compete not only for a Rose Bowl but a national title like the good old days under Pete Carroll. The blond-haired Southern California kid could lead his dream school out of the program's toughest days and back to the promise land.
"We are coming out of the dark," said Kiffin about 2012.
USC has a great film department so they may have already sold the script to Disney.
"It means a lot knowing the Trojan family has my back. It's going to be tough," the signal-caller added. "I'm still enjoying that game and enjoying this night."
The Coliseum crowd started the "One more year" chant early. After watching the Trojans' scoreboard get a workout though, it wasn't clear who they wanted to come back more, Barkley or UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel.
The loss dropped him to 26-32 overall, 17-15 in the conference at his alma mater. Though Neuheisel has yet to beat USC, he talked about the gap between the school 14 miles away being closed earlier in the week - after UCLA backed into the first ever Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon.
"That was a pretty strong statement to make," Kiffin said. "Our players took that very personal. It was talked about a lot and not by me at all. I think they really felt disrespected."
After Saturday, the gap may never have been wider.
"I'm going to evaluate this program at the end of the year like I always have," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. "We've got another game to focus on and it's a big game.
"It's a devastating loss for any Bruin fan or anybody in that locker room or any of the coaches."
UCLA gave up a 98-yard scoring drive and defensive backs had trouble all night preventing receivers from getting behind them for long scores. They allowed the Trojans' smallest offensive player, running back Curtis McNeal, to take a simple off tackle play 73-yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Quarterback Kevin Prince was the lone bright spot but ended up as the team's leading rusher, not exactly the plan.
In many ways it was over before it began.
"The first drive," Neuheisel said of when he knew he had a problem. "We couldn't stop them and we were too inconsistent on offense to be in a scoring fest and it just got out of hand."
The Pac-12 office said USC could only say they finished in first with their 10-2 record and could not call themselves South champions. They gave their blessing for UCLA to do, despite finishing second, however.
Tomato, tohmato. First place vs. South champion, the scoreboard did the talking.
"It shows who really is the Pac-12 champion," Kalil said.
In the locker room after the game, the team found shirts adorned with "Pac-12 South Champions" awaiting them from athletic director Pat Haden.
Across the country there are plenty of fierce rivalries but nothing quite like the crosstown showdown that takes place at the end of the season every year in Los Angeles. Office bragging rights are at stake. Friends won't speak to each other afterward. In plenty of cases it pits brother versus brother - including on the field.
Tim McDonald was a two-time All-American safety for USC. Son T.J. followed in his footsteps and started for the Trojans when he was a freshman at the position. Younger brother Tevin took a different path and signed with the Bruins, ending up as the starter opposite his brother Saturday night.
T.J. will take home bragging rights once again and likely spend Christmas detailing his interception in the red zone that ended one of the few Bruins scoring threats.
"It's a big thing," McDonald said of the pick. "But for us to get that shutout, for this crosstown rivalry, to play this way in the last game of the season, this was our bowl game. We had nothing to leave out on the field and we did that."
Kiffin's squad took the title of city champions for the 12th time in 13 years. Though they had the (NCAA) book thrown at them and doubters aplenty, they lived up to the school's 'Fight On' motto throughout the turmoil that had engulfed the program the past few years and, it seems, is starting to disperse.
"We had a lot to play for this year," Barkley said. "We were playing for this university, the history of this program. You're playing for personal pride, you don't want to just flush the season down the toilet. There were a ton of things that we were playing for and that motivated us."
Woods became the school and conference leader in receptions early in the second half. Barkley broke Matt Leinart's school and conference record with his 39th touchdown pass of the season.
"It's unreal, I never thought this would happen," he said. "I remember watching that year that he had."
The Trojans were not eligible for the Pac-12 championship or a BCS bowl but they stated their case one final time that they could beat anybody in the country in 2011.
"The way we're playing, I think we could," Barkley said.
So what about next year?
Tags: BCS, Biletnikoff Award, Bryan Fischer, Curtis McNeal, Dan Guerrero, Heisman, Heisman Trophy, Kevin Prince, Lane Kiffin, Marqise Lee, Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil, Matt Leinart, NCAA, Oregon, Pac-12, Pac-12 Championship Game, Pat Haden, Pete Carroll, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Woods, Rose Bowl, T.J. McDonald, Tevin McDonald, Tim McDonald, UCLA, USC
Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The good news for Arkansas is that their schedule has handed them the home game against Troy this week and the road trip to Alabama next week. The bad news? A pair of key starters for the Hogs will head into that critical SEC West showdown without getting a tuneup against the Trojans.
Bobby Petrino announced Thursday that both senior defensive end Jake Bequette and senior wideout Jarius Wright will miss his team's matchup against Troy Saturday, Bequette with a tweaked hamstring and Wright with a strained knee. The Razorbacks may also be without star receiver Greg Childs, whose grandmother passed away this week.
None of those absences should matter much against the Trojans. For one thing, the Hogs have capable replacements; Bequette's spot will be filled by sophomore Chris Smith, already tied for the team lead in tackles-for-loss with 2. And as for Wright, this is where the Hogs' national-best depth at receiver comes into play. Even if Childs misses the game as well, Arkansas can still start a pair of Biletnikoff Award Watch List members in Cobi Hamilton and Joe Adams.
For another, after their 43-19 loss to Clemson in Week 1, this may not be a vintage Troy squad. And the Hogs even have some good news to report on the injury front, as explosive running back and kick returner Dennis Johnson is due to return from a hamstring injury of his own.
But the questions surrounding Bequette and Wright's absences aren't about to subside no matter how well the Hogs play against Troy. For Petrino's team to win in Tuscaloosa, they'll need all of their most talented players -- which, without question, includes Bequette and Wright -- playing at something close to their best games. So: will they be healthy enough for that? Will they have any rust after missing the last game and a half and a big chunk of practice time? If they are rusty, will they have any hope of hanging with a team of the caliber of the Crimson Tide, on the road?
Thanks to the schedule-maker, things could be worse for the Hogs. But given the uncertainty that now surrounds the team's best pass-rusher and field-stretching receiver, things could be a lot better, too.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 1:04 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 1:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It sounds like this summer's Juron Criner story is going to have a happy ending.
Reports late last month claimed that Arizona's All-American wide receiver status for the 2011 season was "uncertain" after an "erratic episode" that had resulted in his hospitalization. But Wildcat head coach Mike Stoops told the Arizona Daily Star today that Criner was "here and ready to go" once the team's fall camp opens on Aug. 4.
"We anticipate him being the same player - or a better player - than he was a year ago," Stoops added.
Stoops declined to offer details on Criner's summer absence from a scheduled ESPN publicity event or address the prior reports, saying only that the Biletnikoff Award Watch List member was forced to deal with "family issues" that would remain "personal."
The news could not be any better for Wildcat fans who have already had to deal with four torn ACLs on the Arizona roster this offseason, inclduing starters Jake Fischer and Adam Hall. Criner isn't only the Wildcats' best player at any position by a substantial margin; he accounted for 31 pecent of the 'Cats 2010 receiving yardage singlehandedly. If there was one player Stoops absolutely, positively could not afford to lose this offseason, Criner was him.
Fortunately, it doesn't look like Stoops will lose him after all. Pac-12 secondaries can officially start worrying again.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 12:49 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Time for another preseason award Watch List.* This time it's for the Biletnikoff Award, handed out annually to the nation's best receiver.
Via No 2-Minute Warning, the full 75-player list:
A few knee-jerk reactions:
-- Yeah, it's the SEC, but the emphasis on the nation's strongest conference still seems a bit ... heavy. Duron Carter, who as of today still hasn't even enrolled at Alabama? Four different Arkansas receivers? (It's true, Cobi Hamilton would be the No. 1 guy on most teams ... but still.) Tavarres King, who caught all of 27 passes last season? (Then again, it's hard to say the SEC is really getting that much respect when Rueben Randle's name is so egregiously misspelled.)
-- As for snubs, Big East followers are up in arms over the exclusion of Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, which makes some sense given his overall production as a receiver/rusher/even passer. Notre Dame's Theo Riddick could also wind up having a huge year, especially if Michael Floyd doesn't make it back from suspension. Other than that ... well, as you can see, it's a long list.
-- Louisiana-Lafayette's Ladarius Green was one of the nation's most prolific receivers last year at the Ragin' Cajuns' combo WR/TE spot ... which is how he's turned the rare trick of being nominated for both the Biletnikoff and Mackey Awards. Not bad for a Sun Belt player, huh?
*Hope you're getting used to it, because we've still got a bunch more coming down the pipe this week.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 10:40 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The Pac-10 is officially no more as of today, and after 33 years, the "Conference of Champions" has given us plenty of college football moments from some of the best players to ever play the game.
To commemorate the best that have worn the Pac-10 logo since Arizona and Arizona State were added in 1978, the record books were opened and the highlight tapes were watched in order to discover just who was the creme of the crop on the West Coast.
It's no surprise to see a healthy Southern California presence on the all-time team; after all, the Trojans won more conference titles than anybody else and have churned out elite players even during downturns. The list itself is actually pretty heavy on teams that will soon form the Pac-12 South, but when you consider that 51 percent of the conference's 132 All-Americans came from one of the two Los Angeles schools, you can see why.
As with most lists, there's plenty to debate, so feel free to voice your opinions in the comments.
With out further ado, the CBSSports.com All-time All-Pac-10 teams:
Second teamQB: John Elway, Stanford
RB: Ken Simonton, Oregon State; Toby Gerhart, Stanford
WR: Mike Hass, Oregon State; Keyshawn Johnson, USC
TE: Marcedes Lewis, UCLA
OL: Ryan Kalil, USC; Bruce Matthews, USC; Lincoln Kennedy, Washington; Gary Zimmerman, Oregon; Kris Farris, UCLA
DL: Rien Long, Washington State; Haloti Ngata, Oregon; Sedrick Ellis, USC; Ron Holmes, Washington
LB: Ron Rivera, Cal; Junior Seau, USC; Pat Tillman, Arizona State
DB: Mark Carrier, USC; Antoine Caison, Arizona; Darryl Lewis, Arizona; Troy Polamalu, USC
RET: Sammie Stroughter, Oregon State; Chris Owusu, Stanford
K: Jason Hansen, Washington State
P: Josh Bidwell, Oregon
Tags: Alex Mack, Antoine Caison, Arizona, Arizona State, Biletnikoff Award, Brad Budde, Bruce Matthews, Butkus Award, Cal, Charles White, Chris Claiborne, Chris Owusu, Chuck Cecil, Darryl Lewis, DeSean Jackson, Draddy Trophy, Dwayne Jarrett, Gary Zimmerman, Haloti Ngata, Heisman Trophy, Jason Hansen, John Elway, John Lee, Jonathan Ogden, Josh Bidwell, Junior Seau, Ken Simonton, Kenny Easley, Keyshawn Johnson, Kris Farris, Lincoln Kennedy, Lombardi Award, Marcus Allen, Mark Carrier, Matt Leinart, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mercedes Lewis, Mike Haas, Mike Richardson, Morris Trophy, Nick Harris, Oregon State, Outland Trophy, Pac-10, Pac-12, Patt Tillman, Randal McDaniel, Ricky Hunley, Rien Long, Rob Waldrop, Ron Holmes, Ron Rivera, Ronnie Lott, Ryan Kalil, Sammie Stroughter, Sedrick Ellis, Stanford, Steve Emtman, Ted Hendricks, Tedy Bruschi, Terrell Suggs, Toby Gerhart, Tony Boselli, Tony Gonzales, Troy Polamalu, Troy Walters, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State