With impeccable timing, today, two USC Trojans announced they are leaving college early for the 2011 NFL draft.
A first-team Pac-10 selection at offensive tackle, junior Tyron Smith is considered one of the top NFL prospects at his respective position. A little lean at 6’5”, 285 pounds, Smith is very quick and has great footwork. If he can improve on his strength before the NFL combine, he will certainly improve his stock.
On the other side of the trenches, junior Jurrell Casey from Long Beach, California will forgo his senior season as well. Casey was named a conference first team selection and led the Trojans with 4.5 sacks, and 11 tackles for loss. A tad short for his position, the 6’1”, 305 pound defensive tackle is considered one of the five best nationally at his position.
The departures of Smith and Casey is certainly stinging the Trojan faithful today. The USC defense was less then mediocre in 2010 giving up an average of 26.7 points per game, and already facing issues of depth before the loss of Casey.
Matt Barkley will now look to Matt Kalil to lead an offensive line facing the departures of Smith and senior Kristofer O’Dowd. Barkley was sacked a total of 16 times this season, and the Trojan running game was 27thnationally at 189.3 yards per game.
Fortunately for Lane Kiffin and company, he still has time to pull in a few blue-chip recruits on both sides of the line. Kiffin has already received verbal commitments from junior college stud Sheldon Richardson, and California 4-star prep Antwuan Woods.
It will now be important to see if George Uko, and Kevin Graf can step into contributing roles before the 2011 season.
Today at a media event at Cowboys Stadium, Nike released bowl game uniforms for four high-profile college programs. Always thinking outside the box, the Portland based company issued Pro Combat uniforms to several teams earlier this year.
Commonly known as the fashion trend setters of college football, the Oregon Ducks will showcase these new bowl uniforms in the BCS National Championship game on January 10th.
Ranked second nationally, the Ducks will wear the white away uniforms. The numbers are outlined in a bright yellow, and players will be wearing gloves with an “O” on the palms of their hands. The newly released bowl uniforms are not a far cry from what the Ducks have wore during the regular season. The traditional wings on the shoulder pads remain, and the team will wear the high-tech chrome helmets seen twice already this season.
In recent years the program has often been criticized for their flashy, outrageous colors, and uniforms. It seems their close connection with Nike has certainly paid off. Oregon players have a voice in the creation of their uniforms, and recruits have been known to enjoy the looks.
One of the largest private donors in the country, Nike owner and founder Phil Knight has been instrumental in providing the means for the program to progress over the past fifteen years. The company works with most of the largest universities in the country, but has often used the Ducks as their “guinea pigs” for unique uniform styles.
Quite similar but also different from an opening season contest against Oregon State, TCU will also be wearing the new bowl uniforms. The Horned Frogs will meet Wisconsin at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in early January. The helmets feature a very wide black stripe down the center, and the pants resemble a mix between stone-wash and a light camouflage.
Playing on smaller national stages this post-season, both Boise State and Florida will also promote the new Nike uniforms. Both the Gators and Broncos bowl looks don’t stray far from their normal styles worn this season. Boise State will sport Bronco blue from head to toe, and the Gators will wear all white with the exception of their standard Orange helmets. Boise State landed in the Las Vegas Bowl, and the Gators will send off Urban Meyer with an appearance in the Outback Bowl.
Here is a direct link to NikeBlog.com to view all related pictures and links to the new bowl uniforms released by the company. The athletic apparel giant will look to promote their brand on the biggest stage in college football when the Ducks meet Auburn. The Tigers are reportedly going to be sporting new Under Armour shoes and possible uniforms for the game as well.
While two undefeated teams battle for a national title, two apparel powerhouse companies will be doing the same.
Rumored to be on the trading block last season, the stock value of Minnesota’s Kevin Love has never been higher. At the age of 22, the 6’10” power forward is a pure glass cleaner. He self-admittedly takes a great amount of pride in his ability to rebound and pass the ball.
During this young season, Love has grabbed at least 20 rebounds in a game five times, including an amazing 31 boards against the Knicks in November. Through 24 games, the Portland area native is averaging 20.5 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.
Other then former Timberwolf Kevin Garnett, the Minnesota franchise has never bucked up to sign young talent to big dollar long-term contracts.
With employer loyalty written on the wall, don’t expect Love to stay in Minneapolis past next season when his Minnesota contract expires. If the former UCLA freshman star continues his strong play, Minnesota ownership will be forced to pay big money following next season.
If Blazers general manager Rich Cho and president Larry Miller could find a way to return Love to his hometown, it would quickly revitalize the fanbase. Currently entertained by an average team and reeling from the failure of Greg Oden’s body, the Blazer community needs an injection of excitement.
Love attended nearby Lake Oswego High School as one of the most heralded recruits to ever come from the state of Oregon. His blue-collar mentality on the court would be cherished inside the Rose Garden.
Currently the Blazers are sitting at 12-12 and are 23rd in the league averaging 23.2 rebounds per game. Unfortunately, the team is bogged down after signing LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy to huge contracts this past offseason. The inability of Oden to reach the court has made him into a very ineffective trading chip.
With the quality play of Michael Beasley, and the semi-emergence of Darko Milicic, Minnesota may be willing to part with Love.
A few scenarios between Minnesota and Portland to consider:
Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge to Minnesota for Luke Ridnour and Kevin Love
Aldridge has always been undervalued by Portland fans and has been on the trading block for the past few seasons. Miller has played well in Portland, and his experience would be very valuable for a young Minnesota squad. The salary of Aldridge would be the key point in negotiations between the two teams.
Nicholas Batum and Rudy Fernandez for Kevin Love and Johnny Flynn
Both Batum and Fernandez are very cheap considering their production and potential. This would leave a logjam for the Timberwolves at small forward and shooting guard, hence the addition of Flynn to the deal. The former Syracuse guard has been somewhat of a bust over the past two seasons.
Luke Babbitt, Joel Pryzbilla and Greg Oden for Kevin Love, Martell Webster and Nikola Pekovic
Sending Webster and Pekovic would provide a pleasant release of salary for Minnesota. The team would add a true inside presence (Pryzbilla) underneath the basket. A first round pick in 2010, Babbitt played very well for the Blazers during the summer league. A decision regarding the retention of Oden could be made following this season.
Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez for Kevin Love and Luke Ridnour
Fernandez has long wanted more playing time and Roy, once the pride of the franchise, has been questioned because of the deterioration of his knees.
The pleasantly surprising play of Wesley Matthews makes Roy no longer an untouchable player. Much like Love, Ridnour was born in the Northwest and holds a strong local presence in the area.
While fans may questions the value of Love, adding a homegrown talent at the age of 22 would promise to fill the Rose Garden for years to come. Just a few seasons ago, Blazer supporters awaited a imminent run for an NBA Championship. Those hopes have been dashed, and the team needs to add new pieces to revive the hopes of an NBA title in Rip City.
The history of the Bowl Championship Series is short in length and uncertain in longevity. The BCS took took over college football nation in 1998 and has not let us go since.
Both Oregon and Auburn fly into Glendale this January with explosive offenses and questionable defenses. Many expect the most entertaining BCS Championship game since an epic battle in 2006 between Texas and Southern California.
With Cameron Newton, LaMichael James, Nick Fairley and Cliff Harris, this matchup is certainly not short on storylines and game-breaking potential.
Here is a look at ten BCS Championship game records that could fall when the Tigers and Ducks battle for a national title.
Individual Rushing Touchdowns (3)
Set in the same game, two players share this honor. Vince Young of Texas and LenDale White of Southern California each rushed for three touchdowns in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
Both Cam Newton and LaMichael James have a great chance of meeting or breaking this record. James leads the nation in scoring and Newton has the ability to score anytime the Tigers reach the red zone.
Both players have scored more then three touchdowns in a game several times this year.
Longest Touchdown Run (65)
Never known for his speed, Chris “Beanie” Wells ran for a 65-yard touchdown run against LSU in the 2008 BCS Championship game.
Auburn’s Cam Newton has recorded rushing gains of 71 and 54 yards this season. Tiger running back Onterio McCalebb has contributed with big gains of 70 and 68 yards.
LaMichael James has shown his speed with runs of 76, 72 and 66 for the Ducks. A possible wild card: Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff broke free for an 85-yard touchdown run against Arizona in late November.
Most Points Scored By One Team (55)
The Trojans capped off an unbeaten season with a 55-19 drubbing of Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl. The 55 points scored by USC broke the previous record held by Florida State of 46 in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
Both Auburn and Oregon have a great opportunity to break this record. The Ducks are first in the nation averaging 49.1 points per game and Tigers are sixth nationally at 43.2.
Auburn and Oregon have both surpassed the 55-point mark three times this season.
Total Yards Gained By One Team (574)
In a losing effort, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White helped the Trojans amass 574 total yards in the 2006 Rose Bowl against Texas. In that game, the Trojans gained 209 yards on the ground and 365 through the air.
If a shootout erupts in Glendale, this mark held by the Trojans is likely to fall. The Oregon offense is second nationally averaging 537.2 yards per game. The Ducks average 303.5 on the ground and 238.1 through the air.
The Auburn offense averages 497.7 total yards per game. The Tigers are balanced, averaging 287.2 yards rushing and 221.2 yards passing per game this season.
Longest Punt Return (71)
In one of the few bright spots for Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl, DeJuan Groce returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown against Miami.
Only one player in this game will have a chance to test Groce’s record.
The Auburn punt return game is downright depressing with a team-long of 18 yards this season.
On the other hand, Oregon’s Cliff Harris has returned four punts for touchdowns in 2010. He averages 16.2 yards per return and holds a long of 79 yards on the season.
Individual Receptions (11)
In an epic game, Kellen Winslow Jr. caught eleven passes from Ken Dorsey in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. It wasn’t enough for the Hurricanes as they fell to Ohio State 31-24 in double overtime.
The record of eleven receptions may be the toughest to reach in this year’s game.
Oregon’s Jeff Maehl holds a career high of 11 from a 2009 contest and caught eight passes or more in a game three times this season.
On the other side, Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams will need career nights to even come close to this mark.
Combined Total Team Points (79)
In a back-and-forth battle, Texas and Southern California combined to score a total of 79 points in the 2006 Rose Bowl. The Longhorns came out on top 41-38 over the Trojans.
While Oregon plays respectable defense, the jury is still out on Auburn. If the offensive output of both teams hold true to form, this mark is in desperate jeopardy. Together the Tigers and Ducks combine for 92.3 points per game.
Tempo of play, ball control and motivated defensive play is the only thing that can keep this record from falling.
Individual Rushing Yards (200)
Another record was set in the 2006 Rose Bowl when Texas quarterback Vince Young rushed for 200 yards on 19 attempts. Most importantly, Young rushed for a late fourth-quarter touchdown to give his team the victory.
LaMichael James leads the nation in rushing with 1,682 yards and topped 200 yards in a game three times this season.
Cam Newton rushed for 217 yards against LSU in October and nearly reached the mark three other times in 2010.
Longest Interceptions Return (54)
In the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, Dwayne Goodrich of Tennessee intercepted a Florida State pass for 54 yards and a pivotal Volunteer touchdown. The SEC team would hold off the Seminoles 23-16 to claim the first-ever BCS Championship.
Both teams have plenty of speed in the secondary to challenge this record. Cliff Harris and John Boyett of Oregon each have five picks on the season. Harris has a long of 76 yards and teammate Talmade Jackson returned a pick for 52 yards this year.
The advantage goes to the Ducks, as two Tigers have returned interceptions for only 33 yards. Linebacker Josh Bynes leads his team with three picks on the year.
Individual Sacks (3)
The Florida defense wreaked havoc on Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship game. Derrick Harvey of Florida set a game record by sacking Troy Smith of Ohio State three times.
The most likely player to test this record is Nick Fairley of Auburn. The Tiger defensive star has recorded 10.5 sacks this season.
Keep an eye out for Kenny Rowe, who sacked Terrelle Pryor three times in the 2010 Rose Bowl. Rowe has recorded six sacks this season.
The most polarizing and electrifying athlete in college football is all but assured of taking home the Heisman trophy this Saturday.
There is no doubt, Cameron Newton has taken an average SEC squad, and carried the Tigers to a BCS Championship appearance.
In 2010, the former Gator has impressed with a statistical season that simply can’t be ignored. He passed for 2,589 yards, 28 touchdowns, and leads the nation with a quarterback rating of 188.16. The 6-6′, 250 pound quarterback also ran for 1,409 yards, 20 touchdowns.
After a run of twelve victorious running backs from 1972 until 1983, Newton will be the sixteenth quarterback to win the award over the past twenty six years.
Looking back at these sixteen modern day Heisman signal-callers, one can see why Newton is a perfect fit to join this fraternity of average NFL quarterbacks to win the prestigious trophy.
Nearing pro careers of their own, history also shows that LaMichael James, and Andrew Luck may be fortunate to leave New York City as runner-ups.
A brief look back at the non-impressive professional careers of Heisman winning quarterbacks since 1984.
1984: Doug Flutie, Boston College
At 5-10, 180 pounds, Flutie overcame the underdog role to achieve great success at Boston College. During his senior season he was awarded the 1984 Heisman trophy, and finished his collegiate career with 10,579 yards passing.
A projected late round selection, Flutie opted for the USFL in 1985. Between the USFL, CFL, and NFL he played for nine different teams during his twenty year career. He threw for over 14,000 yards in the NFL, and was voted to the 1998 Pro Bowl with the Buffalo Bills.
1986: Vinny Testaverde, Miami
The former Hurricane, could be considered one of the most successful Heisman winners on the NFL stage. Testaverde won the 1986 Heisman after a mediocre season that included 2,557 passing yards and 26 touchdowns.
He then went on to spend twenty one years in the NFL after being selected with the first selection of the 1987 NFL draft. Testaverde’s career NFL statistics include 46,233 passing yards, and 275 touchdowns passes. Testaverde was selected twice to the NFL Pro Bowl, and finally retired following the 2007 season.
1989: Andre Ware, Houston
A product of the Run and Shoot offense, the junior quarterback set 26 NCAA records in 1989 for the Cougars. During this magical season, he threw for 4,699 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Ware was selected with the seventh pick of the 1990 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. One of the biggest draft busts ever, Ware lasted a total of four seasons in the league. He then spent five seasons in the CFL before retiring from the game of football.
1990: Ty Detmer, Brigham Young
Considered one of the best collegiate quarterbacks ever, Detmer won the Heisman trophy during his junior season. He finished his Cougar career with over 15,000 yards passing.
He was selected in the ninth round of the 1992 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Detmer remained in the NFL until 2005, spending the majority of his time as a career back-up quarterback.
1992: Gino Torretta, Miami
A member of both the 1989 and 1991 Miami championship squads, Torretta won the Heisman Trophy during his senior season. During the 1992 campaign, he threw for 3,060 yards and 19 touchdowns.
He was selected in the seventh round of the 1993 NFL draft by Minnesota and later retired from the league in 1997. Torretta played in only one game during his professional career.
1993: Charlie Ward, Florida State
A legend in Tallahassee, the former Seminoles quarterback led his team to the programs first national title in 1993. He was voted a Heisman winner after throwing for 3,032 yards and 27 touchdowns.
A talented all-around athlete, he vowed to play professional basketball unless drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.
Projected as a middle round prospect, Ward was selected in the first round of the 1994 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. He played twelve seasons in the NBA, never pursuing an NFL career.
1996: Danny Wuerffel, Florida
Under coach Steve Spurrier, the former Gator quaterback led the program to four SEC championships, and a national title in 1996. During his Heisman winning senior season, he passed for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Wuerffel was drafted in the fourth round by New Orleans in the 1997 NFL draft. He spent six seasons in the league, including a stint in NFL Europe with the Rhein Fire.
2000: Chris Weinke, Florida State
The oldest player to ever win the Heisman, Weinke passed for 4,167 yards as a senior in leading the Seminoles to three national championship appearances.
He was selected by Carolina in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL draft. As a rookie he led the Panthers to a 1-15 record as the starter in 2001. He threw for a total of 3,904 passing yards before leaving the league after the 2007 season.
2001: Eric Crouch, Nebraska
A 6-0′, 210 pound running quarterback, Crouch won the 2001 Heisman trophy over Ken Dorsey, and Rex Grossman. He passed for 1,510 yards, rushed for 1,115 yards, and was accountable for 25 touchdowns during his senior campaign.
The former Cornhusker was selected as a wide receiver in the third round of the 2002 NFL draft. He spent four non-existent years in the NFL, before spending the next two seasons in the CFL. Crouch retired from football in 2008.
2002: Carson Palmer, USC
Along with Testaverde, the former Trojan could be considered one of the most successful pro quarterbacks on this list. After three mediocre seasons, Palmer broke out with 3,942 yards passing and 33 touchdowns as a senior.
At 6-5′, 230 pounds, he was considered the prototypical quarterback and selected first overall by Cincinnati in the 2003 NFL draft. Currently in his eighth season, Palmer has been selected to two Pro Bowls (2005, 2006), and has thrown for nearly 22,000 career yards.
Fighting injuries throughout his career, many believe the Bengal quarterbacks performance is beginning to decline.
2003: Jason White, Oklahoma
The former Sooner took home the Heisman after an impressive statistical junior season. In 2003, he threw for 3,846 yards, and forty touchdowns. The following year, he finished third in the Heisman voting behind teammate Adrian Peterson and USC’s Matt Leinart.
White went undrafted in the 2005 NFL draft, only to later sign free agent contracts with Kansas City and Tennessee. He soon retired after spending less then a year in the league.
2004: Matt Leinart, USC
A major component of the Trojan dynasty, Leinart was awarded the Heisman as a junior in 2004. His Trojans finished the season undefeated with a victory over Oklahoma in the BCS Championship game. He finished his collegiate career with 10,693 passing yards, 99 touchdowns, and a 64.8% completion percentage.
Leinart was selected tenth overall by Arizona in the 2006 NFL draft. After spending four seasons with the Cardinals, he was cut by the team. Leinart signed with Houston in 2010 to back-up starting quarterback Matt Schaub.
2006: Troy Smith, Ohio State
Smith landed 86.7% of the Heisman vote during his senior season in Columbus. With a 62.7% completion percentage, 2,542 yards passing and 30 touchdowns, Smith led the Buckeyes to the 2007 BCS Championship game.
The Heisman winner fell to the fifth round of the NFL draft when he was selected by the Baltimore Ravens. Currently with San Francisco, Smith has thrown for 1,387 yards and six touchdowns during his NFL career.
2007: Tim Tebow, Florida
One of the most decorated and popular collegiate players ever, the former Gator is making his way through his rookie season. In Gainesville, Tebow had a hand in two BCS national titles.
During his sophomore season of 2007, he accounted for a record fifty-five Gator touchdowns. He was awarded the 2007 Heisman trophy, placed third in 2008, and wasn’t named a finalist in 2009.
A surprise selection, the Broncos selected Tebow late in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. Stereotyped as a system player, the career path of Tebow is still unknown.
2008: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
In 2008, Bradford became the second straight sophomore quarterback to win the Heisman trophy. During his stellar second year in Norman, he threw for 4,721 yards, 50 touchdowns and held a 67.9% completion percentage.
Due to injuries he played in only two games in 2009. Bradford decided to leave Norman after his junior year and was selected first overall by St. Louis in the 2010 NFL draft.
Bradford has the potential to become a Pro Bowl quarterback, and has been impressive thus far as a rookie. Through eleven game he has throw for 2,466 yards passing with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Of these fifteen recent Heisman winning quarterbacks, only three (Testaverde, Palmer, and Flutie) have reached a Pro Bowl. These three signal-callers have little in common with Newton in terms of style, and NFL potential.
In comparison, Newton holds a very similar physical stature to that of Leinart, Palmer, Tebow, and Testaverde. With better speed, and agility, the Auburn quarterback must prove his natural talent can hold up at the next level.
The NFL is a pro-style league and history shows that collegiate system quarterbacks simply don’t transition into Pro Bowl players. For every Michael Vick, there is a Tommie Frazier, Eric Crouch, and Chris Leak. Even with his accuracy, Newton must prove he can read defenses, stay in the pocket, and devote his time to studying the game.
It would be wise for Newton to stick around for one more season. With only one year under his belt and questions regarding his personality and ethics, he needs to prove the skeptics wrongs.
One thing is for sure, when he holds up the Heisman trophy on Saturday evening, he will be joining a very non-impressive fraternity of quarterbacks.
Sure, we don’t like to get ahead of ourselves. It seems not to long ago that former-Florida coach Urban Meyer was resigning from his head coaching position in Gainesville.
Once again today, the two-time national championship coach stepped down from his heralded position. With a 7-5 record, Meyer will coach the Gators one last time in the Outback bowl on January first.
The Florida position is very enticing for any football coach. The program is prestigious, holds strong alumni and donor support, and has the ability to garner the attention of any talented national recruit.
Here is an early look at possible replacements for Meyer in Florida.
A former offensive coordinator under Meyer in Florida, Mullen left to take the head coaching position at Mississippi State in 2008. In recent days Mullen has been linked to the coaching vacancy at Miami.
A very obvious candidate, his knowledge of the spread option would allow for a very fluent period of transition in Gainesville.
What an intriguing story the return of coach Spurrier to Gainesville would be. The current South Carolina coach is the architect of what the Gator program has become today.
He led them to six SEC conference titles, their first national title in 1996, and won the Heisman Trophy in 1966 as the Florida quarterback. Many fans have not fully gotten over him leaving for the NFL in 2001.
Spurrier knows he has a better opportunity to win a title with the Gators then the Gamecocks.
As much as Oregon fans don’t want to hear this, Kelly, Mullen, and Meyer all coach with a very similar offensive mindset.
Mullen, and Kelly know each other from their days in New Hampshire, and Mullen has a long track record working with Meyer. All three know the spread option inside out.
Recently, Kelly signed a long-term contract loaded with incentive to stay with Oregon. It would be a guarantee that Nike University would stop at nothing to keep him in Eugene.
West Virginia’s number one villain knows he only has one more year to get it done in Ann Arbor.
Rodriguez recorded his best season with the Wolverines in 2010 after finally filling his spread offensive system with the correct personnel.
Surely not high on Florida’s wish list, “Rich Rod” has shown no loyalties in the past, and may feel the need to jump ship before he is given the boot.
Moving to the mediocre Mountain West, and failing to capitalize on the programs best chance to reach a BCS Championship game, Peterson may have learned he has reached the peak of the Boise State mountain.
The Bronco head coach is young, charismatic, and has shown the ability to capitalize on the talent he is given. Imagine Peterson with an abundance of blue-chip recruits, and the opportunity of a lifetime.
If the Gators look to Boise, expect Peterson to immediately search for Gainesville real estate.
Currently finishing his second season out of coaching, the ESPN analyst has been rumored to be on the market once again.
While Bellotti is not a spread option guru, he has always had the ability to fill his coaching staff with experts of their craft. At Oregon he hired Chris Peterson, Jeff Tedford, Chip Kelly, and Gary Crowton.
One would assume he would look to stay on the west coast, but even a coach with his prestige would carefully consider the Gator job.
Known more as a defensive coach, Whittingham worked with Meyer at Utah from 2003 until 2004. When Meyer left for Florida, he accepted the head coaching position at Utah.
The Ute coach has successfully ran with Meyer’s BCS success, and finished the 2008 season undefeated with a victory over Alabama. With a mediocre offensive showing in 2010, the Florida athletic director may be looking for more of an offensive minded coach.
Probably not high on the wish list, the credentials of Whittingham are still very impressive.
Other Potential Candidates
Jon Gruden – While he didn’t show interest in the Miami job, you still never know with Chucky.
Josh McDaniel – A long shot, the former Denver coach would be an intriguing candidate.
Mike Gundy – The Oklahoma State coach has a proven track record of big offense and producing NFL ready prospects.