Archive for May, 2008

2008 Offseason Part 3: The Draft Myth

May 27, 2008

Myth #2: The use of the team’s top three draft picks on pass-catchers was based entirely on a “best available” draft board philosophy. 

Yes, there was a lot of value at the WR position in round two as other teams passed on pass-catching prospects throughout the first round.  Receiver was a legitimate need for this club (as mentioned in Myth #1), and the attempts to trade for Chad Johnson & Anquan Boldin should have been seen as indications that it was target area #1 for the Redskins brass.  Selecting Devin Thomas at #34 overall appeared to make a lot of sense, but selecting another receiver as well as a TE when the roster already includes Pro Bowler Chris Cooley clearly showed that the top goal of the weekend was to improve the passing game and give the still-maturing QB and new offensive-minded HC some more weapons to use in the West Coast Offense.

Cerrato was quick to point to his best-player-available (BPA) strategy and infamous ‘draft board’:

“We didn’t sit in that room all those hours to make a board to come to the [draft] day and go all over the place and ignore it.  We’ve always followed the board. In the past, when we’ve made mistakes, it’s because [we] didn’t go by ‘take the best players, not fill a need.’ Take the best guy on the board.”

While that may be true, he was also eager to talk about the need each selection filled and how each would fit into Zorn’s system.  Specifically, he said of TE Fred Davis: “there are a lot of formations with two tight ends in Jim Zorn’s Three Wise Men?offense that he’ll be utilized in.”  Cerrato sounded defensive when letting on that DC Greg Blache was in the room and concurred with the BPA theme.  For his part, Zorn told the media pre-draft that he would not lobby to draft offensive players as he had done as QB coach in Seattle, and had “become far more neutral.”  However, after the draft he admitted to being “very excited” and that he “couldn’t have predicted that scenario” which included three pass-catchers coming onboard in a matter of hours.  He beamed that the added personnel “gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility, and that “flexibility of personnel groups in the West Coast offense is critical.” 

Cerrato sounded even more like a hypocrite when talking about his strategy going into the draft’s second day.  He began with the mantra “take the best guy on the board,” only to qualify it with “but, I don’t think it will be a receiver.”  So much for the board and the BPA strategy.

Assuming for a moment that the BPA strategy was employed with each and every pick, questions remain about the board itself.  Both receivers had “first-round grades” on the Redskins’ boards, but apparently not on many other teams’.  Cerrato called getting Thomas at #34 “an outstanding deal for us” and stated that many prospects “on our board as our choices at 21 were [almost all] still there at 34.”  To borrow the words of Thomas Boswell, “could they really be correct while everybody else in the NFL was wrong to leave such great talents untouched?”  Taking Kelly was an “easy [decision],” but what of the slow 40 time and character issues that seemingly scared off other teams? 

Note To Self.. Dan Likes Light StarchFinally, is the BPA strategy really the best to utilize?  Would it be wise to devote a pick to a punter if there was a signed Pro Bowler on the roster?  Should a team with a franchise QB select Matt Ryan if he slipped to them late in the first round when he was graded as a top-5 pick on their board?  Would they then draft a second QB in the next round if he was atop their board?  Of course not.  To continue to utter the tired BPA sound bites when clearly factoring in need with each pick further exemplifies the amount of spin involved in all official Redskins team communications.  Why not just be a bit more honest with your fans, who continue to set multiple NFL attendance records.   As Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian told Sally Jenkins, “It’s an art.”  He talked about factoring in both need and talent, and “when the need line crosses the talent line, go ahead.”  The Colts, for what it’s worth, selected a center pretty high based on their need for depth at that position.

Why can’t Cerrato & Snyder just be forthright after the fact and state that they were desperate for help at receiver and were willing to go the extra yard for it?  As the Redskins Insider blog has revealed several times, the two were talking about the possibility of trading for Johnson with every candidate during the coaching search.  When the Bengals decided not to part with Johnson for multiple picks, the Redskins simply used the same relative resource (multiple picks) on the position through the draft.  Check out this Insider entry from Jason LaConfora:

The Redskins made it obvious that, as it became clear they would not get Johnson or Anquan Boldin, wide receiver was a focal point. Snyder watched the private workouts of players at the top of the board. Even as the rest of the league was talking about all receivers sliding out of the first round, and this draft lacking a legit stud candidate at WR, the Redskins were devoting more and more attention to receivers.

Inside the building, coaches were fretting that upper management was pushing grades higher on players like Malcolm Kelly, inflating their worth as the draft approaches, while Kelly was dropping down other boards. Teams I spoke to before the draft had him rated in the lower half of the second round, and no one seems shocked he was still on the board at 51. The Redskins kept coming up with high grades on this slumping receiver class, thus ensuring a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you simply follow the board, and the draft plays out as expected, and you sit there with a bunch of second round picks, of course you’re going to have wide receivers “sticking out like a sore thumb.”

If the deck is stacked towards receivers, and that’s what the owner is most enamored with – those are the players he keeps swinging and missing on in the trade front – well, how do you think the draft going to unfold? And, if you feel like you have to take multiple receivers in the draft, you could get a player they had rated highly, like Arman Shields out of Richmond, at the end of the 4th round (he went one pick after Washington’s 4th round selection, at 125 overall).

Just look at the recent history at this position – the blockbuster trade of WR Moss for WR Coles, then making David Patten a key free agent in 2005, then giving $10-million guaranteed to Randle El and Lloyd in 2006, then watching the owner covet receivers like Edwards and Calvin Johnson and Ted Ginn in the draft, then watching him chasing Johnson and Boldin in 2008 ….

That’s an amazing amount of time and resources sunk into one position group. Again, all play dependent positions – if the line and the QB and the running game aren’t right, your stable of receivers ain’t going to be doing much, no matter how good they are. Cerrato spoke as if defensive coordinator Greg Blache was doing cartwheels over the selection of three pass catchers on Saturday, and maybe he was. But I can assure you that some other coaches were scratching their heads.

No team can go four wide receivers and two tight ends all the time. Just can’t be done. Unless they plan on running a whole lot of empty backfield, it’s going to be tricky utilizing all of these guys and the existing one. Yes, they certainly have great depth at pass catcher now, but at the expense of how much else?

2008 Offseason Part 2: The Talent Myth

May 22, 2008

One man’s attempt to dispel some of the myths being thrown around Ashburn…

 

Myth #1: The talent is there for another playoff run, perhaps even deeper than the first 1-2 weekends.

 

This team did make the playoffs and probably should have won on the road in the first round.  They showed remarkable resiliency late in the season and – as Cerrato likes to point out – return all 22 starters & both specialists from the playoff loss.  The reality though, is this is a 9-7 team that barely squeaked into the playoffs in a dismal conference.  They finished 3rd place in a four-team division that includes the defending champ, a Super Bowl favorite, and perhaps the best 4th place team in the NFL.  On paper, the other three teams all appear to have improved more than Washington, and certainly have more established, proven coaching staffs.  All three have quarterbacks with dozens more wins under their belt than Jason Campbell, and all three have more youth at just about every other key position (other than QB).  While most of the Redskins roster does return, big holes still remain in the secondary and amongst the depth on both lines.  Young players like Carlos Rogers & Rocky McIntosh appear to have caught the perpetual injury bug that veterans like Sean Springs, John Jansen, Randy Thomas, and even Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El & Portis often fall ill with.

 

Campbell, who has yet to really prove himself to be the long-term answer at QB, is also coming back from a significant injury and has been slowed somewhat this spring by unrelated minor injuries.  Running back appears set, but the line is in more trouble thanSure Could Go For An SJ9 Right About Now one might think by glancing at the roster.  All five starters are over the age of 30.  Tackles Jansen & Samuels have made Pro Bowls in years based largely on reputation, but have been solid tackles when healthy even late in their careers.  Both have played through nagging injuries, and Jansen missed all of the 2004 and 2007 seasons and fought other nagging injuries in seasons he participated in.  The odds that both start all 16 games in their 9th NFL seasons is highly unlikely, and depth is very thin across the OL.  10th-year guard Thomas missed most of last year and has only started all 16 games once in his Redskins career.

 

Reputation would also indicate that WR is a position of strength, at least in terms of the two starters, Moss and Randle El.  Consider that over the past two years the average combined output of the two was 1,339 yards and 6.5 TDs.  In 2005, Moss alone had 1,483 yards and 9 TDs.  The draft clearly showed that this is a position of need (more on that later), with Campbell telling the Washington Times  after the draft that the two new receivers make it “a deep position, which means a lot because last year, we had a lot of groin and hamstring injuries. Now, we can throw guys in there and still continue to be successful.” 

 

On defense, all 11 starters who took the field in Seattle in January do return.  However, missing among those 11 were three young, highly-drafted, starters from earlier in the season – the team’s best player (Sean Taylor – RIP), its second-leading tackler (McIntosh), and a DB who started every game when healthy in 2006 and 2007 (Rogers).  While there is optimism that McIntosh will be back from his Week 15 ACL/MCL tear by training camp, the Post reported he “also has a potential degenerative condition in both knees.”  Meanwhile, Rogers may miss as much as half the season recovering from his Week 7 ACL/MCL tear.  On the line, the odds of Phillip Daniels & Andre Carter remaining healthy for another whole season seem as long as those for Jansen & Samuels, but at least there is some proven young depth there.

 

With a schedule that includes 10 games against teams ranked ahead of the Redskins in espn.com’s latest NFL Power Rankings (Cowboys-2, Giants-2, Steelers, Seahawks, Browns, Saints, Eagles-2) and talent that is at best is on par with (and a year older than) what entered the season last year, it’s hard to imagine this team winning more than nine games.

2008 Offseason Part 1: The Spin

May 22, 2008

At the press conference in Ashburn, Virginia back in January announcing Joe Gibbs’ second retirement from the Redskins, a positive tone was to be expected from those standing at the podium.  The men spoke into a solitary microphone with a Redskins logo, as if to hammer home the fact that there would only be one version of the truth at this practice facility.  Just in front of the podium, two well-behaved 20-something’s sat silent next to a nearly identical 16-year old.  Joe Gibbs’ grandbabies?  Not hardly.  The three Lombardi trophies from Gibbs 1.0 served as a reminder of what once was.

Yes, there was a lot to be proud of during the adversity-filled 2007 season, particularly the way the team played at the end of the year.  Gibbs’ second tenure included two playoff runs and the team was often more competitive than teams fielded by some of his recent predecessors.  But the way he and owner Daniel Snyder talked on that winter day, one might have thought the Redskins were a bounce or two away from a dynastic run at three more trophies.  As the offseason wore on, the spin got out of control, and much of the truth was swept under the rug or outright hidden, at least publicly.

At the retirement presser, the HOF coach stated that the team had “a lot of pieces in place.”  He talked about future championships as if they were right around the corner and let on that “I personally want to be a part of that. I want to see it finished. … Our fans deserve championships. I want to be a part of seeing that come to fruition.”  The man who brought Gibbs out of retirement with $28.5 million in compensation for five years as head coach & team president thanked Coach Joe for “putting us in great position for the future” and doing a “great job of stabilizing a situation that became unstable before, quite frankly.”

Just two weeks later, Snyder promoted his right-hand man and racquetball partner Vinny Cerrato to the role of Executive VP of Football Operations, explaining in a press release that the appointment formalized “the structure the team has operated under in recent years, and is recognition of the valuable role Vinny has played this season.”  In the same Wake me up when we pick... unless Dan wants to take this onerelease, Gibbs said “today’s Washington Redskins roster is a testament to Vinny and the personnel department being an integral part of our team structure in identifying players, whether acquired in free agency, the draft or on sometimes very short notice as we made our way through the season.”  Snyder continued the lovefest, insisting “the team’s executive ranks are solid with Vinny at the head of the football operation.”

Next came the debacle of a coaching search, in which the dynamic duo first overspent on the OC position to lure away a position coach who initially turned them down while trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a guaranteed promotion through the Holmgren-to-Mora transition in Seattle.  Jim Zorn was of course later promoted to HC, after what Snyder called “a full search” that yielded “the right guy.”  That search also included favoring re-tread & former divisional rival Jim Fassel – only to go in a different direction after negative fan reaction – and again overspending at the DC spot to bring Greg Blache out of what looked to be sure retirement.  For more insight into the details, check out a great blog entry by the Post’s Jason LaConfora from back in February.

While many were questioning the hire, others around the team were talking about the shift in philosophy that was supposedly taking place at Redskin Park.  Had Snyder harkened back to the Cooke/Bethard hire of Gibbs 1.0 in 1981 in his gamble on the unproven Zorn?  Had he learned from the big names that failed and/or were run out of town between Gibbs 1.0 and 2.0?  Espn.com columnist Pat Yasinskas suggested “maybe it’s best to have an unknown coach who gets along with the owner and the guy who runs the front office than a big-name coach who doesn’t” and “for the first time in Snyder’s tenure, it seems like the Redskins have a brain trust that’s firmly on the same page.”  Maybe, just maybe, “Snyder has learned from his past mistakes.”  Then again, this columnist also went on to call the defense “already good” and tout “lots of talent” that resides on the offensive side of the ball.  Maybe that last name (Yasinskas) is a clever rearranging of “SAY A SKINS” and really a pseudonym for The Danny?

As the draft approached, the team’s nine picks and relative inactivity in free agency over the past two offseasons were making national headlines.  Clearly the braintrust had given up on the rotisserie/Yankees approach and were taking a page from Scott Peoli’s book, right?  In March, Cerrato insisted that entering this offseason the Redskins “weren’t in a position where we were in dire need, like we have been in the past, when we needed a starter.”  AP beat man Joe White wrote in late April that “after four Joe Gibbs years in which the draft was a mere postscript to an aggressive period of free agency, the Redskins will have a flock of Saturday and Sunday selections for the first time since 2002. The team that couldn’t wait to empty its pockets and traded draft picks like cards is conducting this offseason the old-fashioned way, emphasizing the talent in the college pool instead of high-risk acquisitions.”  Just two days after the draft, well-respected football insider and on-again, off-again male model John Clayton wrote in his blog that “after years of trying to build their team through free agency and trade, the Redskins seem to have switched their philosophy.”

Consider the two quotes below…  If the names are removed, they might seem appropriate coming from the front office in Foxboro, Indianapolis, or perhaps even Dallas, San Diego, or East Rutherford.  Instead, they were attributed to a third-place 9-7 squad, by the men in charge of running it.Ice him more!  Another timeout!

  • Vinny, mid-April: “We like our team…  We have good players, and they’re good people, so we feel like we’re in good shape.”
  • Danny, in the pre-draft presser: “We didn’t have a big free agent list to go after this year. We felt that when you grade [free agents] you also grade against your own players. We felt that as a club we were stronger than many of them.”

After the draft, a casual observer seeing & hearing the Ashburn spin machine might have thought the Redskins “won” the two-day affair by outperforming the other 31 teams thanks to a genius strategy.  Cerrato explained that the drafting of pass-catchers with the three top picks was a result of his ‘best player available’ modus operandi.  Some might have found the three selections in sum surprising, given the money invested and purported talent already in place at WR and TE, but according to Cerrato that is really irrelevant.  “We’ve always said we’re always going to take the best player when that pick comes around.   Everybody says that. We mean it when we say it. We’re going to take the best player on the board.”  The analysis on the team site sounded as if Cerrato was being nominated for enshrinement into Canton based on the two-day haul.  “Reporter” Gary Fitzgerald was already projecting big impacts next year.  The two new receivers “solidifies the Redskins’ wide receiver corps in the short and long term” and the new tight end “adds another blocker for Clinton Portis and the Redskins’ ground game” while also helping to “spread out defenses, opening up routes for wide receivers downfield.”  Even Charlie Casserly – the team’s former GM and one of Snyder’s first oustings upon purchasing the team – had a positive spin, saying “they did a nice job of trading back. They stuck with the board. Congratulations to the Redskins.”

To be continued…

Early Enrollees

May 20, 2008

As I read through the ACC Area Sports Journal’s annual spring football issue this week, I was struck by the number of early enrollees already making headlines around the league…

Miami: In Coral Gables, early enrollees are standing out in terms of both quantity (eight) and potential impact at key positions.  An si.com article earlier this month profiled DT Marcus Forston, who should get significant playing time.  PK Jake Wieclaw may start in the opener against always-powerful Charleston Southern, and others who may move to the top of the depth chart by late August include QB Jacory Harris, LB Arthur Brown, LB Sean Spence, and WR Aldarius Johnson.  Note that four of the eight played together last year for Northwestern High in Miami, which beat then #1 Southlake (TX) Carroll in front of 30,000+ last September to break Carroll’s 49-game winning streak.  Head coach Randy Shannon may have taken the in-season maturity cliché a bit too far when he said “those guys will be able to contribute right away.  They’re not true freshmen anymore. They’re more like redshirt freshmen.”

Clemson: Tommy Bowden did his best SEC impression by getting six football players enrolled in January, including one holdover signee from 2007’s class.  DE Da’Quan Bowers stole the show in the spring game by dominating when in, recording four TFL (including two sacks).  Bowers was the top-rated end by most recruiting services last year, and the #1 overall recruit in at least one publication.  Will he be next in line on the 1st-round train, following in the footsteps of pass rushers Gaines Adams & Phillip Merling?  Bowden played the rookie game by keeping him on the second team through the spring, but admitted after the spring game that “he’s shown that he’s going to be able to help us next year.”  You can bet Alabama QB John Parker Wilson will have his jersey number in mind in the season opener in Atlanta.

Florida State: An unheard-of 10 freshmen were redshirted last season, and only a handful of starters do not return in Tallahassee.  Yet because of injuries, attrition, and impending suspensions, three recruits (all slated to play defense) to participated in spring drills for FSU.  LB Nigel Bradham is battling for a starting role, and may have little competition according to the Tallahassee Democrat, at least for the opener against Western Carolina.  DB Terrance Parks may contribute right away in a reserve role and on passing downs.

Boston College:  Among the three early enrollees in Chestnut Hill, the big name is RB Josh Haden.  Josh is the brother of 2007 Florida early enrollee Joe Haden, who started 12 games last year for the Gators in the secondary.  The Boston Globe reported that by the end of spring the younger Haden had moved into the “primary running back slot.”  At 5-8, he may not carry a full load in the opener at Kent State, but as head coach Jeff Jagodzinski bragged, “he brings some explosion to our backfield.”

NC State: The incoming freshman generating the most buzz in Raleigh is still in high school in Chantilly, VA.  Head coach Tom O’Brien went as far as to say last month that “we certainly have a highly regarded freshman coming in the fall in Mike Glennon.  We want to give a look at him when we get to August so it will probably be a situation that won’t be solved until we go into the first game.”  Mike is of course the younger brother of rising VPI senior Sean Glennon, who is in a battle for the starting QB job himself in Blacksburg.  One early enrollee making noise in the spring was Dwayne Maddox, who the Charlotte News & Observer observantly observed “has the potential to be a four-year starter,” perhaps beginning with the 2008 opener at South Carolina.

Georgia Tech: The lone early enrollee to participate in new head coach Paul Johnson’s initial spring foray in Atlanta was Tyler Melton, a holdover from the Yellow Jacket’s 2007 class, who reportedly “took community college classes and cleaned golf carts at a course in Houston last fall” while rehabbing a knee injury.  Johnson raved about how much of an advantage the extra spring will provide, and Melton appears locked into at least a second-string WR spot heading into his team’s opener at home vs. Jacksonville State.  The turnout for GT’s spring game (8,500, the largest since 1987) hinted at the optimism surrounding the program and the new man in charge.  The usual questions about the feasibility of Johnson’s triple-option offense (spring game was roughly 75% run, 25% pass) in the ACC remain, but consider what he said upon taking the job: “During the past six years at Navy, we played 29 BCS teams, in the large part from the ACC. We averaged almost 30 points against them.”  Interesting logic and perhaps yet applicable to his current offensive personnel, most of which was recruited by his predecessor Chan Gailey.

Maryland: Ralph Friedgen’s February haul included four players who completed their high school curriculums early and planned to enroll in January.  The four were joined this spring by two grayshirts from the prior year’s recruiting class.  Two of the three receivers signed in February were already enrolled, as were both tight end prospects, indicating new OC James Franklin’s may be looking to inject some new blood into the Terps’ offense in time for the opener versus the Blue Hens of Delaware.

Wake Forest: Jim Grobe departed from his convention of years past and got three February signees enrolled in time for spring practice.  The Fayetteville Observer reported that two – OL Joe Looney and TE Joe Dixon – will see playing time in 2008 while the third (OT Garrick Williams) will likely be redshirted, more the norm for Grobe’s freshmen.  Looney was listed on the post-spring two-deep at guard, and Grobe even went as far as to suggest that the 3-3, 315-pound Floridian “has done some really good stuff.  I really like that kid right now, and I think with this summer to be here, and then with an August under his belt, that’s a guy that has a chance to help us as a freshman.”  Sprits are high in Winston-Salem heading into the opener at Baylor, with Grobe praising a growing fan he once had to look for “with a search warrant” and commenting that “there’s nothing there’s nothing more glaring” than the lack of a proven starter at long-snapper.  Certainly could be worse.

Duke: Stud DT recruit Vince Oghobaase created waves nationally when he committed to Duke back in 2005 over Miami, Oklahoma, and several other national powers.  Oghobaase created waves in Durham when he enrolled early in order to participate in spring football practice.  Three years later, Duke has another early enrollee – defensive back Randez James.  The USA Today noted James “progressed to the point he should see considerable playing time in the fall.”  New head man David Cutcliffe clearly has a positive opinion of early enrollment, likely molded by springs spent in Oxford & Knoxville.  He had this to say regarding James: “In his particular case, he needed the reps.  Had Randez missed spring practice, he’d have had a hard time helping us. Because he’s been here this spring, Randez will be able to help us in the fall.”  James Madison comes to town on August 30th, but don’t look for ESPN Gameday to be there.

Virginia (none)

Virginia Tech (none)  

North Carolina (none)

VPI recruit Peter Rose (not that Peter Rose) arrested in undercover sting

May 17, 2008

Multiple news outlets are reporting today that Virginia Tech recruit Peter Rose has been arrested for marijuana distribution charges as he approaches the conclusion of his high school career.  The arresting sheriff’s deputy was posing undercover as a high school student during a 10-month investigation.  It’s hard to believe the charges are anything less than legit given this (and the sure-to-be presented video/audio evidence), but one has to wonder if Rose was targeted based on his high profile?  He was, after all prom king, Mr. Amherst County, D-1 recruit, leader of back-to-back AA state championship teams, and AA state player of the year.  I also wonder if the timing has anything to do with when he or the other 18-year-old arrestee reached adult age (four juveniles were also arrested).

 

My first reaction was to think back to a similar situation involving then-UNC basketball commitment JamesOn Curry.  Curry was arrested in February of his senior year (one day scoring 47 points) as part of much larger sting at his North Carolina high school that nabbed nearly 50 students.  He was North Carolina’s all-time leading scorer and was charged with selling marijuana to an undercover officer posing as a high school student.

 

The similarities are eerie – parent complaints leading to the law enforcement taking the undercover office step a la “21 Jump Street”, very high-profile seemingly clean-cut athletes in relative small-town, rural atmosphere brining national attention to the busts, etc.  Rose’s side of the story has yet to come out, but Curry for his part felt he was targeted.  The NC string had a profound impact on him as well as his small NC community, as detailed in a Washington Post piece from back in 2004.  Based on the classes the undercover officer was enrolled in and the effort he put into developing a relationship to Curry, there was no shortage of conspicuous evidence behind the targeting claims.

 

Curry got three years probation and community service, graduated from an alternative high school, and ended up at Oklahoma State where he thrived to some degree.  He declared early for the NBA draft, ended up with the Chicago Bulls’ NBDL Iowa Energy squad, where he was averaging 20+ points when he was arrested earlier this year for urinating in public in Idaho, largely because he ran from inquiring officers.

They’re Gonna Say ‘No’

May 7, 2008

In honor of Mac McDonald’s departure, the title refers to his most famous radio call ever.  Below is the mural at Scott Stadium depicting the play that generated the call:

 

Here is the video with the ESPN call:

Ranking the Coaches

May 1, 2008

Tom Dienhart released his annual ranking of BCS college coaches this month in Sporting News.  Jim Grobe was #5 overall, trailing only Pete Carroll, Jim Tressel, Rich Rodriguez, and Bob Stoops.  Below is the full list for the ACC, which occupies the bottom slot (66) and 5 of the bottom 18 (49-66):

5. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

8. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

28. Bobby Bowden, Florida State

31. Tom O’Brien, N.C. State

33. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

37. Al Groh, Virginia

41. Tommy Bowden, Clemson

49. Butch Davis, North Carolina

51. David Cutcliffe, Duke

53. Ralph Friedgen, Maryland

54. Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College

66. Randy Shannon, Miami

The ACC has two coaches in the top 10 (Grobe & Beamer), as does the Big Ten (Tressel & Rodriguez) and Pac Ten (Carroll, Dennis Erickson).  The Big 12 has three (Bob Stoops, Mac Brown, and Mark Mangino).  Only Georgia’s Mark Richt makes the top 10 from the SEC, with all five coaches with national titles on their resumes looking up.  The coaches of the last two national champions are both ranked below Randy Edsall at UConn… go figure.

6. Mark Richt, Georgia

12. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

14. Urban Meyer, Florida

17. Nick Saban, Alabama

20. Les Miles, LSU

22. Tommy Tuberville, Auburn

25. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee

30. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss

32. Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt

34. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

36. Rich Brooks, Kentucky

45. Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State

Draft Recap

May 1, 2008

1. Chris Long – 1st round (2) – St. Louis Rams

Really a no brainer here… tons of media hype around the son of a HOF’er.  ESPN reported the decision had been made nearly 24 hours before the draft began.  In hindsight, all should have known when Scott Linehan was the only head coach to attend Virginia’s Pro Day back in March.  Some interesting info did come out after the fact, as the NY Daily News reported on Monday that the Jets tried to trade up for Long before selecting Ohio State’s Vernon Gholston at #6.

Groh offered some comments on being invited to attend the draft for the second time: “In these two years that I have been flattered to be here, there have been 12 players here and yet only the players from Virginia have had their high school and college coaches there. It’s reaffirming with how we talk about this being a football family situation at Virginia. What happens good for one of us is good for all of us.”

2. Branden Albert – 1st round (15) – Kansas City Chiefs

Many had pegged this selection at #5, but Albert ended up in Kansas City anyway after they traded up.  One thing I found noteworthy was the fact that a lot in the media are attributing KC’s quick trade up to the ESPN’s report (via Sal Paolantonio) that the Eagles were interested in BA at #19.  The Roanoke Times offered the following:

Before interviewing Albert, an ESPN News panel said that Albert might have suffered because of comparisons to D’Brickashaw Ferguson, a former UVa offensive tackle who was the fourth player chosen in the 2006 draft. 

“I think Branden Albert gets a bad label because D’Brickashaw Ferguson has come into the league and been a little bit soft, if you will,” analyst Todd McShay said. “At the end of the day, if you watch Albert on film, he likes to finish blocks. He’s a physical football player.”

Beyond Groh, Albert also credited Ron Prince with a lot of his development.  He told the Topeka Capital-Journal that Prince “helped mold me into the player I am today” and “helped put that mentality of being a killer in me when I had to pull and crush people.”  The CJ also relayed this:

Prince also played a role in convincing the Chiefs that Albert was a player they needed to patch one of the three gaping holes they have along their offensive line. Kansas City couldn’t go wrong with a guard who now is projected to be an NFL tackle, a position he played in only two games for the Cavs.

“Ron felt the guy could play tackle in this league,” said Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, who once hired Prince on a minority fellowship with the Jets. “Along with coach (Al) Groh and what we watched on tape, nothing says he can’t.  He’s a multi-task guy. He was a team captain, everything you want in a football player. He’s athletic, tough, and he’s always available.”

3. Tom Santi – 6th round (196) – Indianapolis Colts

The Colts also selected a TE in the 4th round, but lost Ben Utecht to free agency.  Per the Daily Progress, team president Bill Polian said on the NFL Network he felt Santi “can fill the role that Utecht played for us.”

4. Chris Gould – undrafted, singed with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5. Nate Lyles – undrafted, signed with New York Jets

Lyles told the Daily Progress that Groh’s NYJ connection was a big help and that he “was trying to find the situation that matched me and best fit me more than anything.”

6. Ian Yates-Cunningham – undrafted, signed with Kansas City Chiefs

7. Jermaine Dias – undrafted, singed with Cleveland Browns

8. Jonathan Stupar – undrafted, signed with New England Patriots

9. Allan Billyk – undrafted

10. Ryan Weigand – undrafted

JUCO in ACC (ie Terps)

May 1, 2008

The Washington Times had an interesting blog entry on JUCO’s in the ACC this month, in light of Maryland’s signing of Tyree Evans.  Some highlights:

junior college transfers coming into the ACC since the 2001-02 season:

Florida State: 6

Maryland: 5 (well, now 6 with Evans)

Everybody else: 6

If you include the waning Big East years for Miami and Virginia Tech, those schools move up to five and four JUCO transfers, respectively.

 

Osby was the first one-time junior college transfer to average double figures in the league since Devin Smith did so for Virginia in 2004-05. Other successful JUCOs this decade: Florida State’s Tim Pickett and Maryland’s Ryan Randle and Jamar Smith.

it certainly makes you wonder why a program like Maryland — which did, as coach Gary Williams will point out, win a national championship this decade — needs to go this route and find quick fixes rather than reel in an extra guy each year from high school.

Five ACC schools (Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest) have not added a JUCO since 2001-02, so far as I can tell.

Neither Virginia’s Dave Leitao or N.C. State’s Sidney Lowe has used the JUCO route. The only junior college transfer to come to Virginia Tech under Seth Greenberg is Marcus Travis, and Travis was both a walk-on and a Blacksburg native. Clemson’s lone JUCO under Oliver Purnell was a one-year stint by Lamar Rice, and Miami’s Frank Haith has added a junior college player in back-to-back years.

It seems odd the Terps would be occupying the same spot in a basketball matter as Florida State, no disrespect to Dave Cowens, Charlie Ward or the 1972 Seminoles intended. Yet that’s how it is, reinforced by the reality Evans and his checkered history are en route to College Park.

The scoreboard listed above is most telling. A recent national champion probably shouldn’t be on there.

Then again, it probably shouldn’t have three NIT appearances in four years, either.