Friday, November 30, 2007

Wake not a lock, yet, for Charlotte

Some ACC observations from Jacksonville, Fla., where Boston College will meet Virginia Tech on Saturday in the ACC championship game:

  • While Wake Forest seems an almost certain choice for the ACC’s spot in Charlotte’s Meineke Car Care Bowl, bowl officials say there is a scenario that could send the Deacons elsewhere. If Washington defeats Hawaii and Boston College defeats Virginia Tech this weekend, there is a chance two ACC teams (BC and Virginia Tech) will play in BCS bowls. Under that scenario, there’s a good chance the Meineke and Music City bowls would both be considering Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, and it’s not clear where those schools would end up.
  • Expect a strong commitment from Clemson to coach Tommy Bowden when his contract extension is announced. The Tigers are 9-3 and almost certainly would be here at the ACC title game if a Cullen Harper’s pass hadn’t slipped through Aaron Kelly’s hands at the goal line against Boston College. Clemson officials believe the Tigers are on the verge of at least three or four years where they will remain in the hunt for an ACC title. Bowden’s recruiting has been solid, Harper gives the team an excellent returning starter at quarterback for next season, and the staff believes redshirting freshman Willy Korn is a special quarterback who will keep the team near the top of the ACC after Harper is gone.
  • Speaking of Clemson, Jacksonville would be in much better shape in its bid to play host to future ACC title games if the Tigers were here to play Virginia Tech. Word is that Boston College isn’t bringing a lot of fans, and one bowl executive speculated that the ACC title game will be like a Virginia Tech home game.Officials are expecting a crowd in the neighborhood of 50,000. Jacksonville Municipal Stadium seats 76,000, and if it’s one-third empty on Saturday, the bids of Charlotte and Tampa for 2008-10 will be more enticing to the ACC.
  • N.C. State football coach Tom O’Brien is talking to baseball coach Elliott Avent to find a way for Russell Wilson to participate on the baseball team. That won’t included missing spring practice. O’Brien said Wilson, a freshman who redshirted last season, can’t miss spring practice if he hopes to make progress as a quarterback. Wilson is on scholarship for football, and O’Brien has been impressed with his leadership ability and academics. “It looks like he has the temperament and ability to be a good quarterback,” O’Brien said.
- Ken Tysiac

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's crazy around Ann Arbor today

Les Miles, who will interview for the head coaching position at Michigan soon, certainly knows about pressure-cooker jobs. After all, he's the coach at Louisiana State now and it doesn't get much more intense than Baton Rouge.

But here's what Miles would face should he end up at Michigan, where he played and was once an assistant to Bo Schembechler.

On a sports talk radio show out of Ann Arbor on Wednesday morning, one fan complained that when Miles coached at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys actually lost to Ohio State in a bowl.
"That sticks in my craw," the fan said.

Another caller wondered who the Wolverines would turn to if Miles -- should he be Michigan's next coach -- "didn't work out." Who would be the Wolverines' next coach?


- David Scott

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How strong is commitment to Bowden?

Some thoughts on college football with the conference championship games approaching:

- Though Clemson has decided to extend Tommy Bowden’s contract for the second time in four years, the new buyout provision will demonstrate the extent of the administration’s support for the coach. Under the existing contract, Bowden’s buyout was $2.5 million if he were fired after this season but drops to $500,000 after next season. Unless the new terms increase the dollar amount of that buyout, Clemson won’t be committing much to a coach who’s been bowl eligible in each of his nine seasons but never has won a championship.

- A few years ago, Connecticut vs. Wake Forest would have seemed a disastrous matchup for any bowl. Now it’s a more pleasing scenario for Charlotte’s Meineke Car Care Bowl, which chose Connecticut from the Big East on Tuesday. According to a New York Times report, Connecticut brought about 7,500 fans to the cold-weather site of Detroit for its first bowl game, the Music City Bowl, in 2004. If Wake Forest can be locked up for the Dec. 29 game in Charlotte, an energized in-state fan base could combine with a strong Connecticut following for a solid crowd.

- It’s been suggested that some well-to-do Duke alumni want to lure South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier back to Durham. Though Spurrier loves a challenge, that’s not likely to happen. Spurrier is a competitive guy who wouldn’t be able to stomach leaving the Gamecocks after losing his last five games with them.

- Virginia Tech would seem to be the favorite heading into the ACC championship game Saturday. The Hokies have the ACC’s best defense and special teams, and their offense has improved with the emergence of a two-quarterback system alternating dropback passer Sean Glennon and fleet-footed freshman Tyrod Taylor. But if the game is close at the end Hokie fans will be uncomfortable seeing the ball in the hands of Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan.

– Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gailey a good fit for Duke?

If you’re Duke athletics director Joe Alleva, the one good thing about the rash of recent firings in college football is that there are a lot of good coaches without jobs.

Alleva is looking for a coach with Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) experience. One such coach with extensive ACC experience became available at the same time as Alleva was holding his news conference Monday to announce Duke had fired Ted Roof.

Georgia Tech’s Chan Gailey won at least seven games in each of his six seasons at a school that also has to be academically selective in recruiting its players. Gailey held weekly, hourlong leadership discussions with his freshmen, letting the players decide which leaders they admired and wanted to study. Gailey’s only failure was an 0-6 record against rival Georgia.

Gailey is a high-character, winning coach who could upgrade Duke’s program, but hiring a coach who was just cast off by another ACC school might be an unpopular move for Alleva. But Alleva’s problem is that today’s Knute Rocknes and Bear Bryants aren’t going to be banging down his door to interview.

It’s a challenge to recruit talented football players who meet Duke’s academic criteria when you bring them to campus and show them the sad condition of Wallace Wade Stadium.

And if you’re Alleva, the bad thing about the rash of recent firings is that there are plenty of jobs better than Duke’s open for successful coaches looking to move up.

– Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Roof almost coached at Notre Dame

The last time Ted Roof visited Notre Dame he came back with a contract in his hand. It was 2001, and Notre Dame had just hired George O’Leary from Georgia Tech to replace Bob Davie.

Roof, who had been O’Leary’s defensive coordinator with Georgia Tech, decided to join him. Notre Dame sent a plane to pick up O’Leary assistants Roof, Bill O’Brien and David Kelly. They spent a day there meeting school officials, touring campus and looking at homes, then flew back.

Roof brought back his contract because he wanted to have an adviser look it over before he signed. In the middle of the night, O’Brien called him to say there was a problem.

“And then the next morning that was not a deal anymore,” Roof said.

O’Leary resigned after Notre Dame found inaccuracies on his resume. When Georgia Tech didn’t take O’Leary back, Roof came to Duke as defensive coordinator and later was elevated to head coach.

“It was a nice place,” Roof said of Notre Dame. “That day I was there, it looked nice.”

On Saturday, Roof will return as Duke (1-9) visits Notre Dame (1-9).

O’Leary is in his fourth year as head coach at Central Florida. His biography on the school’s official web site makes no mention of Notre Dame.

“He’s an awfully good football coach and a good person,” Roof said. “It was just an unfortunate situation. He’s been successful everywhere he’s been.” -- Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wolfpack's O'Brien knows rivalry

Don’t talk to N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien about rivalries.

O’Brien, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and coached seven years there, knows about rivalry. From the time he enrolled on June 28, 1967, the Army-Navy rivalry was constantly in his thoughts.

“The first three words I learned were, ‘Beat Army, sir,’ ” O’Brien said.

N.C. State’s rivalry with North Carolina is big. On what O’Brien calls the “rubber chicken circuit” during the spring, N.C. State fans constantly asked him about defeating the two teams with “Carolina” in their name – North Carolina and East Carolina.

UNC-N.C. State is certainly bigger than anything O’Brien experienced in 10 years at Boston College, which he said didn’t have a rival.

“We tried to make Notre Dame the rival, but they didn’t want us to be, especially after we started beating them,” O’Brien said.

But Army-Navy was a constant theme for O’Brien for 11 years. As a plebe, the first thing he was required to recite at meal call each day was the date of the Army-Navy game.

“There’s nothing like it,” he said.

– Ken Tysiac