Matt Hinton

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Matt Hinton has written and edited Yahoo! Sports' college football blog, Dr. Saturday, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BCS, since 2008. He does not love the BCS.

  • Follow the day's most anticipated signings with Rivals' announcement watch, updated throughout the day.

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    Most accounts of Stanford's ascension over the last three years begin and end — justifiably so — with Andrew Luck's ascension to the top of draft boards as one of the most coveted pro prospects in a generation. But it certainly didn't hurt that Luck spent his entire college career behind a pair of All-American classmates, left tackle Jonathan Martin and guard David DeCastro, who arrived with luck as part of the unheralded recruiting class of 2008, started every game of the best two-year run in school history and are expected to join luck in the first round of the NFL Draft in April.

    If you're making the case this offseason that Stanford's moment in the sun has passed, the argument doesn't stop at Luck: It's also a matter of losing the nimble giants up front who made his job about as easy as it could be. On the other hand, if you're making the case that the Cardinal are going to hold their ground among the Pac-12 elite, you can start with the new, banner crop of linemen who put their names on letters of intent this afternoon.

    In the span of a few hours, Stanford picked up commitments and subsequent signatures from not one but two offensive tackles — Tempe, Ariz., behemoth Andrus Peat (below) and Kyle Murphy (top) of San Clemente, Calif. — who boast five-star ratings from Rivals, along with a borderline five-star, Puyallup, Wash., guard Joshua Garnett, giving the Cardinal three of the top seven offensive linemen in the entire 2012 recruiting class. Altogether — with Murphy, Peat, Garnett, Brandon Fanaika, Graham Shuler and Nick Davidson — there are six incoming O-linemen in the new class rated as four-star prospects or better.

    Read More »from Jackpot offensive line haul suggests Stanford has a little staying power
  • Follow the day's most anticipated signings with Rivals' announcement watch, updated throughout the day.

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    Swag of the Day. Oxford, Ala., linebacker Kwon Alexander only has four stars from Rivals, but I'm going to go ahead and give him five in honor of the LSU-themed suspenders and bow tie ensemble he wore this morning to commit to the Tigers on national television. If football doesn't work out, I recommend Kwon look into a future in blipster fashion.

    In fact, those suspenders were about as good as it got for Les Miles: With Shreveport linebacker Torshiro Davis' overnight defection to Texas and Geismar safety Landon Collins' loyalty to Alabama, LSU incredibly failed to sign any of the top four prospects in the state of Louisiana.

    buffett.jpg Stunner! Record-breaking Fresno, Calif., wide receiver Deontay Greenberry pulled the rug out from underneath everyone this morning by signing with Houston over Notre Dame, an out-of-nowhere switch after eight solid months committed to the Fighting Irish. It's an ironic one, too, considering it was Greenberry who swore fidelity to ND in December when his cousin, Tee Shepard, appeared to be flirting with USC.

    Instead, it was Shepard who wound up enrolling in South Bend last month, and Brian Kelly who's left to wonder how he let one of his biggest fish get away to Conference USA. (Cue Irish fans alleging unreported academic issues in three... two... one...)

    Fourth time's the charm. For most of his high school career, Westlake Village, Calif., wide receiver Jordan Payton was verbally committed to USC. Then, last month, he used the Army All-America Game in San Antonio as a platform to pledge his loyalty to Cal. Tuesday night — less than 24 hours before he planned to put his name on a letter of intent — he shunned the Bears in favor of Washington. And when the moment of truth finally arrived this morning, he woke up and faxed his signature to… UCLA, of course. Payton looks like a catch — he's a top-100 prospect with solid size and speed — but does Jim Mora know why the rest of the Pac-12 locker room is sniggering behind his back?

    Read More »from Signing Day Roundup: Deontay Greenberry leaves Irish at the altar for…Houston?
  • Follow the day's most anticipated signings with Rivals' announcement watch, updated throughout the day.

    It's official: Dorial Green-Beckham is a Missouri Tiger. And …well, that just about sums it up. Mizzou beat out Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas for a 6-foot-6 freak of nature they hope will live up to the hype. Have a nice day.

    For recruitniks who have obsessed over DGB's final destination for the last two years, of course, it's a slightly bigger deal than that. But by any prevailing standard, the courtship of the most sought-after player in the 2012 recruiting class was refreshingly anticlimactic. Unlike Jimmy Clausen, Green-Beckham didn't use his announcement as an excuse to stage a nauseatingly suggestive takeover of a shrine to other people's greatness. He held it at his high school. He didn't show up in a limo. Unlike the last four players in Green-Beckhma's position — Terrelle Pryor, Bryce Brown, Seantrel Henderson and Jadeveon Clowney — he didn't leave schools twisting for weeks beyond signing day to escalate the drama. Unlike Henderson and Clowney, there are no lingering questions about his grades. He didn't have some hanger-on operating as a "family spokesman." He didn't do some stupid fake-out with a baseball cap.

    buffett.jpgIn general, Green-Beckham went about the process the way you're pretty certain you would have gone about it, if you were an oversized 18-year-old who had been relentlessly schmoozed by the media and a parade of millionaire head coaches since shortly after you hit puberty instead of, you know, you. There was no sense that he felt entitled to the spotlight thrust upon him, or even that he enjoyed it; for the most part, he seemed to tolerate it, at best. Maybe that has something to do with his hard-luck background and subsequent adoption by his high school coach, one more reason to root for his success rather than a heavy dose of hubris.

    None of which guarantees him anything from this point forward, although top-ranked prospects have a pretty good track record over the last decade: Since Rivals started keeping track in 2002, seven of the ten players who began their careers as the No. 1 overall recruit in their respective classes were drafted, four of them in the first round, and six of them (all but Derrick Williams, No. 1 overall in 2005) are currently on NFL rosters. The two most recent members of the club, defensive ends Ronald Powell and Jadeveon Clowney, are both well on their way after promising starts at Florida and South Carolina. Unqualified bust Bryce Brown is the glaring exception, albeit one an awful lot of people now claim they saw coming after his turbulent path to Tennessee in 2009. Green-Beckham gives off none of those warning signs.

    Still, there's no accounting for the future. At Missouri, DGB will almost instantly become the face of the program during its transition to the SEC, the hometown hero who spurned the usual heavy hitters to take the Tigers to the next level. He's the most touted player in school history. No one on the current depth chart is going to keep him waiting for his opportunity. Now, it's just a matter of seizing it.

    - - -
    Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

    Read More »from Dorial Green-Beckham ducks the drama, but not the expectations waiting at Mizzou
  • Headlinin’: Rutgers salvages a blue-chip finish

    buffett.jpgMaking the morning rounds.

    It's signing day. The single nerdiest day on the college football calendar, yes, but an essential one. (And still not quite as lame as, say, fantasy football, unless you're one of those sad souls who actually tweets at recruits to influence and/or berate their decision. In which case, stop it.) Here is your command center to keep tabs on the top uncommitted prospects. [Rivals]

    Jersey score. The fax machines are already humming this morning with letters of intent from recruits, but Rutgers got the news it wanted Tuesday night with a verbal commitment from the most coveted prospect in New Jersey, five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton. Even by blue-chip standards, Hamilton is about as blue as they come: His father is former New York Giant defensive end Keith Hamilton, and at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Darius already looks like he belongs in an NFL locker room. His high school team, Don Bosco Prep (mascot: Ironmen), finished undefeated for the third year in a row and was arguably the best high school defense in the country.

    His signature today will be a big win for the Scarlet Knights on the heels of coach Greg Schiano's abrupt departure for the NFL, especially after watching three other Jersey targets — Devin Fuller (UCLA), Yuri Wright (Colorado) and Elijah Shumate (Notre Dame) — make pledges to out-of-state schools over the last three weeks. "It was always I was going to Rutgers but I was sidetracked by this college or sidetracked by this college," Hamilton said. "This week I actually sat down and I thought about what I want. I think that's when it all came into perspective for me." [Newark Star-Ledger]

    Comings and goings, part one. Former Iowa running back Marcus Coker is transferring to Stony Brook University in New York to continue his career following a sexual assault investigation that led to his exit from Iowa City. Coker played the last five games of the 2011 regular season after Iowa had been informed of an ongoing investigation into the alleged assault, finishing second in the Big Ten with 1,384 yards rushing prior to being suspended for the Hawkeyes' trip to the Insight Bowl. The investigation was ultimately closed in late November because the alleged victim declined to press charges, and Iowa is now citing student privacy laws to avoid releasing documents that show how administrators responded to the allegation.

    Read More »from Headlinin’: Rutgers salvages a blue-chip finish
  • buffett.jpgHow much difference can one assistant coach make? Maybe we should ask California's rapidly unraveling recruiting class.

    On Jan. 7, just a little over three weeks before they could make it official, three teenagers in San Antonio, Texas — five-star safety Shaq Thompson, five-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy and four-star wide receiver Jordan Payton — put on Cal hats at the Army All-America Game, ostensibly securing the Golden Bears' most touted recruiting class in ages. On the stage, McCarthy talked about taking Cal to the Rose Bowl. Thompson talked about following his cousin, Denver Broncos safety Syd'Quan Thompson, a Cal alum. Payton said Cal was "like a family" and touted the academic reputation in Berkeley as his top priority: "It's just the right school. … It's perfect."

    This afternoon, Payton put on a Washington hat, bringing the Bears' final score to 0-and-3: Barely three weeks later, all three of Cal's commitment coups in San Antonio will wake up Wednesday morning and fax their letters of intent to conference rivals. McCarthy, Rivals' No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 21 player overall, is bound for UCLA; while Payton's defection comes hot on the heels of Thompson's announcement for Washington on Monday night. By Rivals' count, the most impressive class in the Pac-12 a week ago now ranks sixth, and may take another hit or two before the dust clears.

    Read More »from Jordan Payton completes the All-American exodus from Cal’s recruiting class
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    Most college coaches will spend tonight pacing in their bedrooms, race to the office at 5 a.m. and spend most of the day Wednesday hunched obsessively over a fax machine, watching as the fruits and disappointments of years of hard work roll in. At Penn State, the new head coach will get to the recruiting stuff when he gets to it. Then again, none of Bill O'Brien's peers is calling plays in the Super Bowl in a few days:

    New Penn State coach and current Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said he won't pay much attention to National Signing Day on Wednesday.

    "I'll get a fax of our signees. I already have a pretty good idea of who they are going to be," he said. "It's really about the Patriots and making sure we're ready for today's practice, tomorrow's meeting and Sunday's game."

    OK then. Under the circumstances, I suppose picking up a Super Bowl ring to flash at recruits is worth the sacrifice of a class that had little chance of escaping the vortex of the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal regardless of O'Brien's interest or anyone else's. (That is what motivated his decision to stay on through the Super Bowl, right? For a minuscule recruiting edge? I just assume that's what motivates every coach's decision to do anything.) Even while working two jobs, O'Brien was probably at least as involved in Penn State recruiting as his predecessor was over the last five years.

    Read More »from Somehow, Bill O’Brien is more interested in the Super Bowl than Penn State recruiting
  • Making the morning rounds.

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    Earning every penny. Two weeks ago, Washington doubled Tosh Lupoi's salary to lure the Pac-12's best recruiter from Cal. Monday night, it began paying off with the verbal commitment of coveted Sacramento, Calif., safety Shaq Thompson, who backed out of his pledge to Cal when Lupoi left and broke the news of his own defection on his Twitter feed a little before midnight Pacific time. Coach Steve Sarkisian's reaction, and I quote: "WOOOOOOOFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    Those exclamation points are justified: Rivals rates Thompson as the No. 1 player in California and No. 4 player nationally in the 2012 class, comparing him to former USC All-American and all-purpose freak of nature Taylor Mays. And that is why you pony up for recruiting coordinators whether they can coach football or not. [Seattle Times, @ItsShaqThompson, @CoachSark, Sacramento Bee]

    buffett.jpg A giant in his field. In other five-star news: Thompson's pledge to U-Dub came just a few hours after 6-foot-9, 310-pound Lakewood, Wash., offensive lineman Zach Banner — the No. 1 prospect in Washington and No. 16 nationally, per Rivals — spurned the Huskies in favor of USC, giving the Trojans their first five-star commitment of the 2012 class. Don't expect it to be the last: SC is still hot in pursuit of two other five-star offensive tackles, Kyle Murphy of San Clemente, Calif., and Tempe, Ariz., behemoth Andrus Peat. [Orange County Register, Northwest Preps Report]

    Is there a weight limit on this #troll? As awkward commitment ceremonies go, no one will ever unseat Landon Collins' mother. But a tip of the cap nevertheless today to three-star quarterback Jeremy Liggins of Oxford, Miss., who mustered the chutzpah Monday night to gather a standing-room-only audience in the Square, bordering Ole Miss' campus, for the purpose of picking up an LSU helmet and telling the hometown crowd "Go Tigers baby." (For the record, LSU is getting a 6-foot-3, 270-pound quarterback who somehow qualifies as a "dual threat," a combination which can only be described as "Lorenzenesque.")

    Read More »from Headlinin’: Washington gets a five-star return on its new investment in recruiting
  • Take two: Rutgers backtracks to keep Flood in the family

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    Well, Rutgers fans, there's good news and there's bad news. First, the bad: The ubiquitous stories this morning anointing Mario Cristobal as your new head coach? Yeah, sorry about that, but… on second thought, he's going to go ahead and pass on that offer to stay at Florida International. Cristobal was a natural fit to replace Schiano, and by all accounts was in the fold. So, bummer.

    Anyway, the good news: At least you still have the second-closest you could get to a Greg Schiano clone tonight in longtime offensive line coach Kyle Flood, the interim head coach in the wake of Schiano's exit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, who accepted the full-time job after talks with Cristobal broke down this afternoon. Flood, 41, originally joined Schiano's staff as Cristobal's successor as o-line coach in 2003, and has spent the last four years — four of the best in the history of the program, all things considered — as assistant head coach.

    buffett.jpgWell, it's relatively good news, depending on your perspective. In terms of resumé, Flood has never been a head coach or even a coordinator, and has never coached at another big-time FBS program. (Before arriving at Rutgers, he was the offensive line coach at Delaware, Hofstra and Long Island University-C.W. Post.) In terms of timing, athletic director Tim Pernetti and the Rutgers administration were under pressure to name a coach by Wednesday, Feb. 1, the day recruits will begin faxing in their letters of intent. They were also under some pressure from the academic side to hold off on hiring a full-time coach until a new university president is named later this summer, which raises the question of just how permanent Flood's promotion is beyond salvaging the recruiting class and holding down the fort for the 2012 season.

    But those are fairly distant questions.

    Read More »from Take two: Rutgers backtracks to keep Flood in the family
  • With signing day looming, it's time for the Doc's annual, week-long examination of the recruiting-industrial complex. Part One: The basics: Correlating recruiting rankings and success.

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    The holy hour of the vast, seedy recruiting underworld, national signing day, is a little over a week away, which is also the signal for legions of recruiting skeptics to sound their annual, anecdotal chants of "Ryan Perrilloux!" and "Notre Dame!" and snake oil!" A lot of coaches who live and die on the recruiting trail will tell you the recruiting rankings are a lot of bunk. Occasionally, they make a persuasive case.

    Which is why, once a year, I make it a point to get back to the basic premise: Beyond the vagaries, the hype and the busts, the recruiting rankings still represent the most reliable system at our disposal for making initial assumptions about teams and players alike. The most important assumption being, as always, that recruiting is still the No. 1 predictor of success.

    buffett.jpgIndividual rankings. On All-Americans, for example: If you were to go back and review the projections for the 47 players named to one of the five All-America teams officially recognized by the NCAA — American Football Coaches' Association, the Associated Press, the Football Writers of America, the Sporting News and the Walter Camp Foundation — in 2011, only seven came into college as can't-miss, five-star blue chips, the cream of the crop.

    By contrast, more than twice as many of those All-Americans — 18, to be exact, more than a third of the total —were rated three stars or lower by the recruiting services. According to the gurus, the top three or four recruiting powers in the country should field more talented rosters than that by themselves, right?

    Right, if your standard involves zero margin for error, in which case you may as well stop reading.

    Read More »from Star Power: Be they ever so humble, recruiting rankings still do the job
  • buffett.jpgThe "last-second surprise" referenced in the first graf below? Turns out it was prescient: Please see the update at the bottom of the post.

    It didn't take long, but then again, there was never much doubt how Rutgers' coaching search was going to end: Barring a last-second surprise, multiple outlets in New Jersey and South Florida confirm that the Scarlet Knights are replacing NFL-bound Greg Schiano with the closest they could get to a Schiano clone, Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal. The official announcement could come as soon as today, pending an agreement over the final details of Cristobal's contract and approval of Rutgers' Board of Governors.

    Scarlet Knight fans may not know much about Florida International, but the fact that it still exists as a Division I program is a feather in Cristobal's cap. When he took over at FIU in 2007, the Golden Panthers were coming off an 0-12 season and facing heavy-handed scholarship penalties for falling short of academic benchmarks and fielding ineligible players. At that point, the most notable moment in program history, by far, was a bench-clearing, helmet-swinging brawl against Miami in 2006 that resulted in a tidal wave of suspensions. (Not to mention a timeless Internet meme devoted to the immortal heroism of running back A'mond Ned.)

    By the end of Cristobal's first season, FIU was in the throes of a 23-game losing streak, and not long after that was forced to (temporarily) suspend its cheerleading squad and marching band for lack of funds. In other words, after six years of existence, the program Cristobal inherited barely qualified as a "program" at all.

    Read More »from Rutgers makes the easy choice: Mario Cristobal, second coming of Schiano (Updated)

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