It’s Friday again which means the floor is open to discuss any topic, football or otherwise. Here are just a few opinions/questions to get the party started this morning:
1. Don’t look now, but Will Muschamp could be available for the 2011 season. Muschamp, the former Georgia Bulldog and current defensive coordinator at Texas, has one of the great deals in college football. He is the coach in waiting to Mack Brown and Texas continues to pay Muschamp handsomely to remain in that spot. Tennessee came calling last January when Lane Kiffin bolted for USC and Muschamp told AD Mike Hamilton that he was staying put in Austin.
But the dynamic changed at Texas this week as word came that DeLoss Dodds, one of the best athletics directors in the country, was negotiating an extension to his contract, which previously ran through 2011. There has been talk for several years that when Dodds, 72, retired head football coach Mack Brown would slide into that chair and Muschamp would become the Longhorns’ head coach. But if Dodds remains in place so does Brown, who is only 58 and whose contract runs through 2016 at $5 million per year.
I talked to Will during the NFL draft and suggested to him that, despite his telling Tennessee no earlier this year, others would come calling in December. “I’m very happy at Texas. I think I have the best job in college football,” he said. Stay tuned.
2. Should Derek Dooley allow Bryce Brown to return to the Tennessee football program? It’s probably not fair to the kid but Brown, who some recruiting services said was the No. 1 prospect in the country in 2009, has become the symbol for everything that was wrong with the Lane Kiffin regime at Tennessee. Brown saw limited action behind Montario Hardesty at running back last season because Hardesty was having a great year. When Dooley became head coach in January he brought a more team-centered approach to the job. Brown said he would be leaving Tennessee but he hasn’t left yet. He also did not take part in spring practice. Some Tennessee fans who have welcomed Dooley on the Big Orange Caravan Spring booster tour want to know about Brown’s status. Dooley has made it clear that if Brown wants to return, it will have to be with the understanding that the culture has changed at Tennessee. Dooley doesn’t have to convince Brown to return. Brown has to convince Dooley that he can adapt to a new way of doing things in Knoxville. “I’m not going to make a recruiting pitch to get him,” Dooley told one of the booster clubs. Given the situation at Tennessee right now, Dooley needs all of the good football players he can get. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.
3. Why did Miami wait so long to sign Randy Shannon? In this day and age, when recruiting is like hand-to-hand combat, it is unheard of to send assistant coaches on the road recruiting when the head coach is in the last year of his contract. But that’s what Miami did to Randy Shannon for the first couple of weeks in May. Shannon got a new four-year deal this week, but not before he and other coaches had to answer question after question about his future.
Shannon, the former Miami player and long-time defensive coordinator, has done the job he was asked to do when he became head coach in 2007. He has restocked the talent base with great players who have gotten a little better each season. Shannon won five games in 2007, seven in 2008, and nine last season. This will be his first senior class and there is reason for optimism in 2010.
Shannon has also been a stern disciplinarian, on and off the field. He cracked the whip academically and now the Miami program is consistently among the top 10 percent in APR in all of college football.
“My attorney kept telling me, be patient, not take it personal, it’s business,” Shannon told the Associated Press this week. “It was business. I’m glad it’s done.”
4. Mississippi State made a great hire in Scott Stricklin: You’d have to say that things are pretty stable at Mississippi State with Dan Mullen as head football coach and Rick Stansbury as the men’s basketball coach. So continuity is what Mississippi State needed when athletics director Greg Byrne, an Arizona State grad, announced that he was returning home to be the AD at Arizona. The Bulldogs made a very good move in hiring Scott Stricklin, Byrne’s top assistant. Strickland, 40, will bring the same kind of energy to the job. He’s a Mississippi State grad who will be in that seat for a while. He was instrumental in hiring Mullen, and the excitement surrounding the Mississippi State football program is just huge. He was involved in making sure Stansbury stayed in place when Clemson came courting earlier this year.
Another good candidate at Mississippi State could have been Joe Dean, Jr., who is now the AD at Birmingham Southern. Dean is a Mississippi State grad and one of the bright minds in college athletics. Somebody needs to take a look at that guy.
5. The bowl volunteers in Arizona are going to be busy: Folks, the bowl business isn’t really complicated. If you want to improve your bowl game, then get to work and find some more cash. That is what the Insight Bowl did last week. The Insight has always been pretty far down the pecking order in the bowl business and didn’t create a whole lot of buzz outside the state of Arizona with its match up of lower level Big Ten and Big 12 teams. But last week the bowl announced that it was increasing its payout from $1.35 million to about $3.35 million per team. For that the Insight will get the No. 4 pick in the Big 12 and the No. 4 or No. 5 team from the Big Ten. ESPN has jumped on board and signed the Insight to a four-year deal, saving it from another stint on the NFL Network, where it was a fish out of water.
So if you like college football and nice weather, the Phoenix area may be a good place to go after Christmas. The Insight Bowl will be held on Dec. 28 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Four days later, on Jan. 1, the Fiesta Bowl will be played in nearby Glendale. Then on Jan. 10 Glendale will host the BCS championship game.
So why does a city do this? Simple: The last time the Phoenix area hosted three bowl games (2006-2007), the economic impact was just over $400 million.
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