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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Hudspeth’

Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 3 (Sept. 15)

Do you remember the last time Notre Dame took a trip to East Lansing? You might not remember the game’s first 60 minutes and change, but that’s fine: things didn’t get wild until overtime, when Michigan State answered a Notre Dame field goal with the most audacious coaching decision of the 2010 season. Now you remember, right? Dan Conroy is lined up for the potentially game-tying 46-yard field goal; Aaron Bates, the punter and team captain, was the holder; tight end Charlie Gantt was lined up one spot inside from the edge to Conroy’s right. The call: “Little Giants.” The snap went to Bates, as expected – and then came the unexpected. You’ll see the rest of the play later tonight, when the Irish and Spartans meet in one of the day’s marquee games. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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    Starting With McGee, Branching Out

    If Jeff Long was serious about starting Arkansas’ coaching search immediately after last night’s press conference, it stands to reason that the Razorbacks are in the market for a new head coach in time for this coming season. It’s not too late in the game for this to be a possibility, even if a new arrival wouldn’t step on campus until the summer, well after the team has concluded spring drills. On one side, such a rapid learning curve — for coach and team alike — might lead candidates who would otherwise be interested in the opportunity to think twice. However, it’s only so often that a head coach can inherit a team quite as talented as these Razorbacks.

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      F.A.U. Eyes the Wright Stuff on Offense

      Brian Wright is familiar to fans in the hinterlands of college football, those in the Montana-Idaho-Dakotas region, but his name has never crossed the lips of football fans in the Sunshine State. Or hadn’t, before Carl Pelini named Wright, the former offensive coordinator at Montana State, to the same position at Florida Atlantic, where Pelini is preparing for his first season as Howard Schnellenberger’s successor. Now Wright has become a name to watch, perhaps the most important member of the new F.A.U. staff outside of Pelini himself, thanks to the Owls’ inability to achieve the most basic of offensive achievements in 2011 — you know, like first downs, field goals, touchdowns and the like.

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        The Year in Review: U.L.L. (9-4, 6-2)

        Louisiana-Lafayette is one of those programs: clinging to relevance by the thinnest of fingernails, the Ragin’ Cajuns hope to catch lightning in a bottle with each new coaching hire. Rickey Bustle wasn’t lightning in the bottle, more like a flimsy nightlight, but Mark Hudspeth — now this, perhaps more than any hire in recent F.B.S. memory, had an immediate, lightning-quick strike on the program’s fortunes. Among Hudspeth’s first-year feats? Nine wins, U.L.L.’s most on the F.B.S. level and tied for the most in program history.

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          First-Year Coaches on Display in N.O.

          Leaving New Mexico wasn’t the best choice of Rocky Long’s career, though his tenure with the Lobos only looks stronger and stronger with hindsight: U.N.M. has gone 3-33 since his departure following the 2008 season. But the best move of Long’s career came in his post-Albuquerque transition, when from among several intriguing opportunities Long chose the defensive coordinator position under Brady Hoke at San Diego State.

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            Ten Themes for Saturday: Week 11

            Ten teams, themes, games and players to watch for Saturday. Pretty straightforward. Here we go:

            Let everyone go How many Big East teams could become bowl eligible in 2011? The conference has eight teams, and yes, all eight could get to six wins. Three are already there: Cincinnati is 7-1 and Rutgers and West Virginia are both 6-3. Louisville, 5-4, needs to beat one of Pittsburgh — a noon start this afternoon — Connecticut and South Florida, though the latter pair come on the road. Syracuse, 5-5 after last night’s loss to the Bulls, needs to beat either Cincinnati on the road or Pittsburgh at home. U.S.F., 5-4 after beating the Orange, gets Miami, Louisville and West Virginia. The Panthers and Connecticut have some work to do: both are 4-5, meaning there’s little room for error. And what would happen if all eight Big East teams were bowl eligible?

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              Three Years, Three More Games for Nutt

              It never got any higher than Nov. 28, 2008, when Ole Miss ripped through the rival Bulldogs, 45-0, to win the 103rd Egg Bowl. There was a win the week before over then-No. 18 L.S.U., a win a month later in the Cotton Bowl — not to mention another Cotton Bowl win a year later — but that Egg Bowl was it: this was the program’s high-water mark under Houston Nutt’s direction. On the back of that win, along with four others to end 2008, Ole Miss entered 2009 as a bona fide national title contender but disappointed, losing to South Carolina in September, Alabama and Auburn in October and, most notably, Mississippi State in November to finish 9-4, albeit as Cotton Bowl champs for the second straight year.

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                Midseason Grades for the New Guys

                There are 24 first-year head coaches doing work on the F.B.S. level, not counting the three interim coaches keeping seats warm at Arizona, New Mexico and North Carolina. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where that trio — Tim Kish, George Barlow and Everett Withers — become full-time replacements in 2012, though the way Withers has kept U.N.C. afloat through the first half of the regular season certainly bodes well for his future coaching opportunities, whether with the Tar Heels or otherwise. So how are the new faces doing at their new stops? Let’s hand out some midseason grades for the new hires, and include the grade each coach received over the winter’s hiring recap.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.