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Posts Tagged ‘Memphis’

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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    Conference USA Nosedives to Rock Bottom

    Rewind eight months. Houston capped one of the finest seasons in program history by decimating Penn State, 30-14, during bowl play. Southern Mississippi won its program-record 12th game against Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl – and in their last time out, the Golden Eagles had harassed Case Keenum and the Cougars out of the B.C.S. conversation. Tulsa, S.M.U. and Marshall acquitted themselves well in the postseason, with the Mustangs beating Pittsburgh, Marshall beating Florida International and the Golden Hurricane leading B.Y.U. for 59 minutes before a late collapse. Was last season the finest in the history of Conference USA? It’s not hard to make that case.

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      Five New N.C.A.A. Rules Are Felt Early

      Each of the five new rules instituted over the summer by the N.C.A.A. were visible over the season’s opening weekend, though no one change more so than the alterations to the existing kickoff rule – kickoffs now take place from the 35-yard line, and instead of being spotted at the 20, touchbacks are now moved up to the 25. When it was first announced, the rule suggested one of two alternatives: teams could either kick it deep, going for the touchback, or kick it high and short, hoping that their coverage squads could get downfield in time to prevent a return from reaching the 25-yard line. So what route did most teams take through the first week of games?

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        Overall, Not a Banner Weekend for F.B.S.

        Over the course of last year’s opening weekend, F.B.S. teams went a combined 36-2 against F.C.S. opponents. The two losses: Oregon State to Sacramento State (29-28) and Duke to Richmond (23-21). There were other close calls, including Washington’s flirtation with disaster against Eastern Washington, Iowa State’s near-loss experience to Northern Iowa and UTEP’s overtime victory against Stony Brook.

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          Fuente Takes a Page From Edsall’s Book

          While an announcement has yet to be made, it’s been a foregone conclusion since midway through spring ball that Memphis was going to hand its starting quarterback job over to former Texas Tech transfer Jacob Karam.

          The Tigers returned an incumbent starter in sophomore Taylor Reed, who stood as one shining light of positivity during an otherwise dismal conclusion to Larry Porter’s disastrous two-year turn as Memphis’ head coach, but Porter’s replacement, former T.C.U. co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente, clearly brought in Karam — who was immediately eligible to suit up for the Tigers — to not merely compete for the starting job but to take it away from Reed outright.

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            Tigers Go as Far as Fuente Takes Them

            Memphis isn’t the only team looking to reverse a recent slide heading into 2012, and the Tigers certainly aren’t the only team that has attempted to do so over the last five years. Last fall, 13 teams lost 10 or more games; of the 13, seven made a coaching change either during last season or shortly thereafter. At least 10 teams have suffered double-digit losses in each of the last five years, including six – Memphis, U.N.L.V., New Mexico, North Texas, Washington State and Idaho – who have done so at least three times. So Justin Fuente and Memphis aren’t alone.

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              No. 119: Memphis

              Here’s an interesting scenario: If Tom Bowen had been named R.C. Johnson’s successor in December, when Memphis was conducting a national coaching search, would he have hired former T.C.U. co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente? Bowen, formerly of San Jose State, was named Memphis’ athletic director on Monday; while the task of finding Larry Porter’s successor has been taken out of his hands, Bowen will continue to closely monitor the football program as it looks to rebuild in advance of next year’s move to the Big East. Bowen has been here before, back in 2005 while at San Jose State. The Spartans, rolling along at a level two steps below mediocrity, needed to find a solution for its football woes. Bowen’s solution? Dick Tomey — the anti-Justin Fuente, the anti-Larry Porter. History says that Bowen, if given the chance, would have hired a veteran, experienced and accomplished college head coach. Not a Fuente. What’s done is done: moving on.

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                Mega Millions-Level National Title Odds

                As you may have heard, the odds of pulling the winning ticket in a Mega Millions jackpot is 175,000,000 to 1. You are far, far more likely to win a gold medal at this summer’s Olympics than you were of picking six correct numbers last Friday. Not that the odds stopped me from buying a $5 ticket at my local convenience store, or prevented another risk-taker – as I witnessed while waiting in line – from stepping up to the teller and plopping down five crisp $100 bills. Do you have any idea how long it takes to print out 500 lottery tickets? To put the Mega Million odds in football perspectives, let’s consider one scenario: What odds would you give Hawaii to win every game for the next decade?

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                  The Countdown

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