2007 football

Russ Spence

Commercial Pressure Wash Expert and PWI Admin
The 2007 college football season is less than eight months away. Though it will be hard-pressed to equal the '06 campaign for suspense, surprises and zaniness in general, there are already several interesting storylines to watch.

No less than 21 Division I-A programs will have new head coaches, including one that has thrown the already outrageous salary structure completely out of kilter. Finding out which programs made wise investments and which wasted money is always a hot topic.

Upstart programs like Boise State, Hawaii, Kentucky and Rutgers will try to build on last season's surprising success. Powerhouses like Florida State, Nebraska and Miami seek returns to prominence.

Will Arkansas RB Darren McFadden win the Heisman Trophy? If not, will Rutgers RB Ray Rice or West Virginia RB Steve Slaton or Michigan RB Mike Hart or Louisville QB Brian Brohm. That is, if he doesn't opt for the NFL Draft.

Who will play quarterback at Oklahoma? Who will play quarterback at Notre Dame? Can Kentucky, which already knows Andre' Woodson is its quarterback, win bowl games in consecutive years for the first time since the 1950-51 seasons?

Will Southern Cal keep winning despite all its losses?

Those are just a few of the storylines that lie ahead 2007. Here's an alphabetical look at 10 of the most intriguing programs to keep tabs on next season:

Top 10 2007 storylines
1. Alabama: Why is Alabama on this list? Oh, there are only about 32 million reasons. Mike Shula was fired for a 6-6 finish (he didn't coach in the Independence Bowl loss) and another loss to Auburn. Nick Saban then accepted an eight-year, $32 million offer to become the Tide's fifth head coach in eight years. Saban has an impressive collegiate résumé with a 91-42-1 record at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU – including a national championship in 2003. Saban is inheriting 14 returning starters – including quarterback John Parker Wilson – from a team that lost five games by eight or fewer points. The Crimson Tide could be significantly improved in their first season under Saban.
2. Arkansas: Do-it-all running back Darren McFadden will enter the season as the Heisman Trophy favorite, but even his amazing ability might be relegated to sideshow status in the Ozarks. The quarterback competition between junior Casey Dick and sophomore Mitch Mustain, the highly touted recruit from nearby Springdale, could be fascinating. If Mustain doesn't win the job his mother's response may be equally fascinating. Will she ask for another meeting with Athletic Director Frank Broyles?
3. Boise State: So what do you do for an encore? The Broncos finished as the nation's only undefeated team and upset Big 12 champion Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The exciting victory showed that maybe champions from minor conferences deserve a fair shot at the national championship after all. The Broncos lose several seniors, including QB Jared Zabransky, but All-American RB Ian Johnson returns.
4. Hawaii: Unless he changes his mind soon and opts to enter the NFL Draft, QB Colt Brennan - who threw 58 touchdown passes in 2006 - will be back to lead the nation's No. 1 offense. With receivers Davone Bess and Jason Rivers also returning, the Warriors offense figures to be just as exciting in 2007. If Boise State falters, Hawaii could be next season's mid-major that is thrust into the BCS discussion. With defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville around, that could be an interesting conversation.
5. Kentucky: The Wildcats are so hot they're winning after the season. Running back Rafael Little announced he would return for his senior season. That means coach Rich Brooks will have nine starters back on offense, including slick QB Andre' Woodson. The defense will have eight starters back from an 8-5 team that defeated Clemson in the Music City Bowl. Could Brooks go from the hot seat in 2006 to the SEC driver's seat in 2007? Uh, not likely. But there is no reason to believe the Wildcats won't get better.
6. Miami: For years, many in college football questioned why Randy Shannon wasn't a head coach? Well, now he is. The incredibly successful former Hurricanes' defensive coordinator was promoted to head coach to replace the fired Larry Coker. Shannon only has to replace four senior starters, but junior LB Jon Beason and TE Greg Olsen declared for the NFL Draft. Restoring Miami's attitude may prove much more of an issue than replacing starters.
7. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have steadily improved in three seasons under Bill Callahan, and might be the Big 12 favorite in 2007. Transfer Sam Keller, a former starter at Arizona State, will ease the loss of QB Zac Taylor. The Cornhuskers are set at running back, wide receiver and in the offensive line. The entire defensive line must be replaced, but the return of corner Zackary Bowman from injury will be a major upgrade in the secondary.
8. Notre Dame: Charlie Weis has been hailed as a coaching genius for two seasons in South Bend. We'll see how Fighting Irish fans feel after a season without quarterback Brady Quinn, receiver Jeff Samardzija and running back Darius Walker. Freshman tackle Sam Young is the only returning starter on offense, and the defense is almost as depleted. Perhaps the most intriguing question is when five-star QB Jimmy Clausen, ranked the nation's No. 1 overall prospect by Rivals.com, will get into the starting lineup.
9. Rutgers: Coach Greg Schiano turned down a chance to coach at Miami and opted to remain in New Jersey. He must feel like the Knights are capable of building on last season's remarkable 11-2 finish. The offensive line has to be repaired, but bona fide Heisman Trophy contender Ray Rice returns after rushing for 1,687 yards and 19 TDs last season.
10. Southern California: All three of the Trojans' recruiting classes from 2004-2006 were ranked best in the nation by Rivals.com, and this year's class is currently ranked No. 5. USC is the popular pick as the preseason No. 1. QB John David Booty is back for a senior season, and the defense should be loaded. But the Trojans have several standouts to replace. They lose senior receiver Steve Smith and center Ryan Kalil. All-American receiver Dwayne Jarrett has declared for the NFL Draft, and tackle Sam Baker and defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson might follow suit. The Trojans also lost outstanding kicker Mario Danelo, who died last week.

Russ Spence

Commercial Pressure Wash Expert and PWI Admin
Don't just count wins and losses to measure the success of Nick Saban, Alabama's latest would-be football savior and the nation's highest-paid college coach. Instead, add money to the equation -- lots of it.

Experts and school officials say the decision to lure Saban away from the NFL with an eight-year contract worth as much as $32 million fits the business axiom of spending money to make even more.

It's just that the initial investment is huge.

Alabama football brought in more than $44 million last year and paid the way for the rest of the athletic department with $27.7 million in profits. If Saban wins big, the Tide earns a right to share in a bowl payout estimated to grow to $2.2 billion in the next decade.

Besides that, additional exposure from football may help officials meet school president Robert Witt's goal of boosting the university's enrollment to 28,000 students by 2013, a nearly 40 percent boost from a decade earlier.

"The message is getting out that we offer a quality education, and that Monday through Friday our students work hard with a focus on academics," said Mary Spiegel, head of undergraduate admissions.

"But there is also that component of Southeastern Conference athletics on the weekend: Football, basketball, gymnastics, all those things," she said. "Can I say that Saban being here will not help recruitment? I cannot."

A critic of escalating spending in college athletics said the Saban hire was likely more about trying to hire a "messiah coach" to restore the glory days of Alabama football under Paul "Bear" Bryant than about economics.

"Their revenues are probably maxed out at this point," said Murray Sperber, professor emeritus at Indiana and the author of books including "Beer and Circus: How Big-Time College Sports is Crippling Undergraduate Education."

Saban's pay, like all athletic department money, does not come from taxpayer funds, said university spokeswoman Cathy Andreen. The department relies on game-day sales, media royalties, merchandise profits and donations to make its budget.

Despite criticism that Alabama spent too much for Saban and ratcheted up the college pay scale nationally, the hiring -- even at an average $4 million annually -- makes financial sense, said John Vincent, an associate professor of sport management at Alabama.

"If you have a winning season, you generate more interest and can create new revenue streams," said Vincent. "Remember, most people's connection to the University of Alabama is through the Crimson Tide football team."

With its last national championship trophy 14 years old and a program that foundered under Mike Shula, the Tide's fourth coach since 2000, leaders sought a proven winner with hopes for a big return both on the field and in the bank.

Reports filed with the U.S. Department of Education show Alabama football generated $44.2 million during the last academic year, compared to $1.8 million for all sports other than football and basketball. Football's profit was more than double the $12.7 million cost of fielding teams in nine sports other than football and basketball.

With football leading the way, Alabama's athletic revenues nearly doubled from a decade ago, when sports brought in $22.9 million, and they've jumped 25 percent just since 2001, when revenues topped $35 million.

Athletics doesn't regularly send money to academic programs, Andreen said, but it gave $1 million for scholarships last year.

Football accounted for 65 percent of the athletic department's total income last year.

As Shula's team struggled to a 6-7 record this past season after a 10-win season in 2005, fans began grumbling. Boos rained through Bryant-Denny Stadium during the Tide's loss to Mississippi State in November.

He was fired just six months after getting a contract extension and a raise to $1.55 million annually. Shula had a $4 million contract buyout.

Yet Vincent said it was clear Shula's up-and-down years didn't hurt profits.

"It's an inelastic demand. People just can't get enough," he said.

But Sperber said Saban's contract is hard to justify, given the low national rankings of spending for academics at Alabama's universities and public schools.

"Within that context, the idea of paying a football coach more ... than anybody nationally is not a distinction any state should seek," he said.

The university already has gotten some payback from Saban, who helped guarantee a sellout just by appearing at the LSU-Alabama basketball game last week. Also, he donated $100,000 for scholarships.

Just off campus at Alabama Express, Robert Dolbare is also making some money selling crimson-colored T-shirts that say "got nick?"

"We're getting some stickers that say 'S - The Coach' like 'W - The President,"' said Dolbare. "I tell you, if he wins big here he'll be like a god."

crispy crittr

New member
2. Arkansas: Do-it-all running back Darren McFadden will enter the season as the Heisman Trophy favorite, but even his amazing ability might be relegated to sideshow status in the Ozarks. The quarterback competition between junior Casey Dick and sophomore Mitch Mustain, the highly touted recruit from nearby Springdale, could be fascinating. If Mustain doesn't win the job his mother's response may be equally fascinating. Will she ask for another meeting with Athletic Director Frank Broyles?
I take two days off from work and things change big time for the Razorbacks. This storyline has changed. Mustain is gone. As of right now, not sure where he will be. Maybe follow his high school coach (again) from Arkansas to Tulsa.

I need to do some reading and catch up with the mess on the hill in Fayetteville. It does help all the rest of the schools in the SEC with recruiting.

Stay safe & warm,

Russ Spence

Commercial Pressure Wash Expert and PWI Admin
University of Alabama head football Nick Saban announced today that Burton Burns, an assistant coach at Clemson University the past eight seasons, has joined the Crimson Tide football coaching staff. Burns’ specific duties have not been determined at this time.

Burns has been part of six of the top 10 offenses in Clemson history as running backs coach for the Tigers. Burns has tutored star runners such as 2005 ACC Rookie of the Year James Davis, Reggie Merriweather, Travis Zachery and Duane Coleman at Clemson and former New York Jet Jerald Sowell at Tulane. This past season, Davis led the Tigers with 1,187 rushing yards on 203 carries and scored 17 touchdowns, while freshman C.J. Spiller had 938 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. The Tigers averaged 5.7 yards per carry during the regular season.

A native of New Orleans, La., Burns spent the last eight seasons with head coach Tommy Bowden at Clemson after a five-year stint at Tulane that included a 12-0 season in 1998. Over 13 seasons as a college assistant coach, Burns has regularly produced versatile running backs that have been effective in every phase of the game. His players have proven to be equally effective as pass catchers, as well as in the running game.

Burns, 54, spent nine seasons as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Saint Augustine High School in New Orleans, La., before joining Bowden’s staff at Tulane. Burns helped lead Saint Augustine to district titles in 1987, 1992 and 1993, his second stint at the school. Burns’ first experience as a coach also was at Saint Augustine, where he served as an assistant from 1977-79 and helped the school win three more district championships on the way to consecutive state titles in 1978-79. Burns also coached at Shreveport’s Booker T. Washington High School in 1980 before a five-year stint as an assistant coach at Southern University in Baton Rouge from 1981-85.

As a player, Burns played fullback for four seasons at the University of Nebraska under head coach Tom Osborne. A member of three Cornhuskers teams that won at least nine games each season, Burns participated in the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Sugar Bowl as a player. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Nebraska in 1976.