January 06, 2011
Making the morning rounds.
• All's fair in recruiting. Alabama running back Mark Ingram, one year removed from winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore, will forgo his senior year for the draft, according to famous son and top 2012 running back prospect Barry Sanders Jr., who said after a recruiting trip to Tuscaloosa last weekend that Nick Saban – like the rest of the world – expects Ingram to announce his exit by the end of the week. "[Saban] just said 'We need running backs,'" Sanders told an Oklahoma sports site this week. "He told me Ingram's leaving, he's making it public probably Friday, and you know, it would be good to have me." Well, if he said it to a recruit, then it must be true. [The Oklahoman, OKBlitz.com]
• I'm still here. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, a looming transfer risk after injuries, diminishing returns, and a very visible run-in with coach Bo Pelini sent his star power plummeting over the second half of the season, said in a statement Wednesday that he's committed to Nebraska and plans to return for the 'Huskers' move to the Big Ten in the fall. "I am anxious to get back to Nebraska Sunday evening and look forward to getting healthy and getting my strength and speed back," Martinez said in a statement. "I feel that with the players that we have coming back, along with the new talent that is coming into the Husker program, that we will have great success for many years under coach Pelini." After ripping through the first half of the schedule as a redshirt freshman, Martinez didn't run for a touchdown in any of his last seven start and lost his last three. [Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal-Star]
• Welcome back, Rodgers. Also returning next season: Hyper-productive Oregon State receiver/return man James Rodgers, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing the Beavers' last seven games of 2010 with an ACL injury. He'll rejoin his younger brother, Jacquizz, who'll also be a senior. (Boy, time flies.) [The Oregonian]
• Not so fast, my friend. Longtime Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley – who played for Joe Paterno in the seventies, has spent his entire 30-year career on Paterno's staff and is generally considered the de facto overseer of the day-to-day operation in State College – appears to be on the verge of being hired as the head coach at Pittsburgh, if he hasn't been already: A local television station reported Tuesday that Bradley his the man, and several Penn State players took to Twitter on Wednesday to congratulate their coach on his new gig. Pitt, however, denied that it has hired anyone, and Alabama assistant Sal Sunseri (a Pitt alum, and father of current Panther quarterback Tino Sunseri) and Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst may also be in the mix. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
• Manny is money. In more solid coaching news, Texas' new defensive coordinator is Manny Diaz, who's risen from Sun Belt obscurity at Middle Tennessee to one of the most coveted assistant coaching jobs in the country in less than two years. In his only season at Mississippi State, Diaz improved the Bulldogs' scoring defense by a full touchdown per game, held Auburn to its lowest point total of the season and shut out the Big Ten's No. 1 offense for the last three quarters of the Gator Bowl to cap MSU's best season in a decade. [Austin American-Statesman]
• Recommended reading. Check out Austin Murphy's Rose Bowl recap for the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, in which TCU Gary Patterson describes the undersized Horned Frogs' strategy for slowing down Wisconsin's steamrolling ground game: Patterson had come to this realization: "We couldn't just play our base defense," he admitted in the locker room 45 minutes after the game. 'We had to get another guy to the party.' Translation: Patterson had to dial up more blitzes—on '60 or 70 percent' of TCU's defensive plays, according to linebacker Tank Carder, the game's defensive MVP. That hadn't been the Frogs' personality this season, but Patterson had no choice. 'That's the only way you can be 50 pounds per man lighter and still slow those guys down,' he said. The slanting and movement and blitzes would wrong-foot the Badgers, Patterson hoped, "because no one in the Big Ten really blitzes or moves or slants" with anywhere near the frequency or effectiveness of the Frogs." [Sports Illustrated]
Note, however, despite his team's second consecutive undefeated regular season with no opportunity at a nominal national championship, that Patterson still favors the BCS as TCU's most direct route to the top. [Dallas Morning News]
• I Remember Ducks. NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" – yes, it is still on the air – got into the BCS spirit Wednesday night with lovable hair rock icon Sebastian Bach, who introduced the world's first school power ballad on behalf of Oregon (some NSFW language is bleeped):
It's no "I Love My Ducks," but then, what is?
Not to be outdone, outgoing White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, an Auburn fan, promised to return next Tuesday to roll the presidential lawn if the Tigers pull off the victory. [NBC.com, USA Today]
Quickly… The Associated Press reminds readers that the NCAA investigation into Cam Newton's recruitment is ongoing, even if Cecil Newton will be in attendance at the title game. … No one saw Auburn's 1957 championship coming, either. … All-Big 12 linebacker Travis Lewis is returning to Oklahoma for his senior season. … Running back Chris Polk is returning to Washington, where Nick "Yes That Montana" Montana could take over as the starting quarterback. … Bo Pelini could use a little help on his sense of humor. … Oregon players are setting their own curfew in Arizona. … Florida commit Jeff Driskel dominated the Under Armour All-State Game. … Their fans, however, are going hard all week long. … Mark May gets booed by Ohio State fans. … Nebraska running back Dontrayveous Robinson is transferring to Montana State. … And hyped defensive end recruit Xzavier Dickson picks Alabama over Georgia, but alas, not by flipping a coin.
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.