National Signing Day is here

If the recruits see their shadow, do they hold off on signing their letters for another six weeks? Today is both Groundhog Day and National Signing Day, both equally overhyped a bit but seen as traditions in their own right. College football fans will be glued to their computers all day as the letters from high school players are sent in to college football offices all around the country.

Grab your coffee or other caffeinated beverage of choice because we are going to have a long day ahead of us. As always you can follow me on Twitter as I will be talking about the day and re-tweeting a number of other college football outlets who are paying slightly more attention to al of this than I can. If you are up on your Twitter be sure to follow the #NSD11 hash tag as well.

Over on the mother ship I’ll be contributing comments and posts all day. You can view the National Signing Day home page on Examiner.com right here.

I’m not sure how the day will unfold from my point of view but I’ll be ready for anything. Let’s do this!

Who does football food better? College or NFL?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kenmore Live Studio. All opinions are 100% mine.

This Sunday is the biggest football game of the year, and even the most hardcore college football fans will concede that argument to NFL fans. The Steelers and Packers will make for an interesting game but I would like to know is which football crowd does tailgating better?

Personally I think there is no question that tailgating is best done at the college level. It is more a part of the atmosphere for college football than it is for the pros. Just take a look at Penn State for example. Campers roll in to town 24-48 hours before the scheduled kick-off and some go as far as creating their own themes for each home game on the schedule. And the Penn State tailgating is not limited to Happy Valley. A couple years ago when Penn State played Temple in Philadelphia the blue and white faithful took over the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Financial Field and tailgated their way and with disregard for the “tailgating rules” in the parking lots in the Philadelphia sports complex. Of course, the Philadelphia Eagles fans also are tailgating there and there is no way with those rules that an Eagles tailgate scene would ever compare to one found in State College.

But that does not mean inspiration for college tailgates can not be found from the many Super Bowl Recipes floating around this week. Here are a couple I was particularly fond of and would like to try as soon as football season returns.

That looks like a good combination for when Penn State takes on Wisconsin this season. Here is another…

So let me ask you. Is tailgating better at the college or NFL level?

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Poll: How much National Signing Day coverage will you watch?

On Wednesday high school football’s top players will begin signing their letters of intent to the schools of their choice. While most players will hold small press conferences in front of their high school friends and family, some will be fortunate to be given a chance to declare their intentions in front of a national audience through various television outlets.

ESPNU and CBS College Sports, in addition to radio shows and more regional networks will ask these kids which school they will attend and the question may be which player will put on the best show in making their announcement. It was hard to top the way South Carolina Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore made his announcement with the pomp and circumstance surrounding his decision, but surely there will be some kid who makes the most of the spotlight on Wednesday.

What I would like to know this week is how much live coverage you plan on watching on Wednesday, or if you are taking this poll after Wednesday how much did you watch?

In the comments section please leave a comment with what coverage you were watching and any opinions you have on the media attention given to National Signing Day. It is a topic that has come under fire in the media before and will surely do again this week but if people were not tuning in to watch then these networks would not be providing coverage. Some food for thought.

Vote now! Poll closes on Friday.

And just a reminder that Examiner will be providing continuing coverage of National Signing Day as well.

CFB Examiner Poll shows fans have some faith in Jake Locker than scouts

Half of those polled say Locker will go in the first round

Jake Locker, shown here running in the Senior Bowl, may still be a relatively high draft pick despite a poor Senior Bowl week. AP photo/Dave Martin

A recent poll conducted by College Football Examiner shows that football fans still believe that Washington quarterback Jake Locker is worth a first round draft selection. Or at least, half of them do.

Locker had what many have called a disappointing 2010 season after deciding to return for another year of college football rather than enter the NFL Draft early and likely be selected first overall by the Detroit Lions. Last week’s Senior Bowl was seen as a big test for Locker and it was a question if he would be able to shake some of the negative scouting reports on him with a good week of practice and a solid performance in the game. By all accounts, completing six of ten passes for nearly 100 yards in the Senior Bowl does not look bad on paper, but Locker fumbled the ball twice and was bailed out by members of his offensive line on recovering the would-be-turnovers. The word from practices seemed to unanimously agree that Locker’s performance in practices was far from impressive as well.

It did not help Locker that Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder put together a good week of practice and took MVP honors in a two-touchdown outing to lead the South to a 24-10 win over Locker’s North. It is unfair to pin a loss in this type of game on any one player as playing time is split at each position but ultimately the fact that Locker gave up the ball under pressure and did not throw a touchdown will be the final impression left by the quarterback at the college level.

Half of those polled still believe that Locker is worth a first round draft pick though. In last week’s poll, which was extended through Monday morning, 34.88% responded by suggesting that Locker will be drafted within the first 15 picks of the NFL Draft in April. A total of 16.28% said that Locker will go later in the first round and 13.95% said he would be drafted in the second round. The same number of voters said Locker will be drafted in the third round.

Locker is also considered a talented baseball player but he will not be taking the same path of Villanova‘s Matt Szczur. Szczur is pursuing a career in Major League Baseball in the Chicago Cubs organization rather than become the next great slot receiver in the NFL. Of those polled, 20.93% said that Locker’s future would be brightest if he went in to baseball instead of football.

About poll

Conducted between January 24, 2011 and January 31, 2011 on CFBExaminer.com using Poll Daddy. Voters were allowed to vote once per IP address. A total of 43 votes were cast in the voting period.

Senior Bowl time lapse

The Press-Register in Alabama put together a pretty neat time lapse of the 2011 Senior Bowl, which was played on Saturday in Mobile, Alabama. The South scored the 24-10 victory with Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder earning MVP honors throwing for two touchdown passes and over 130 yards. I embedded the time lapse sequence below for you. Here is the description posted on the Press Register website at AL.com;

This time-lapse video captures the entire Jan. 29, 2011, Under Armour Senior Bowl in three minutes. From the rooftop of the Ladd-Peebles Stadium pressbox, the Press-Register’s Mike Brantley shot more than 4,000 images with his cameras and recorded snippets of game audio to create this fast-paced montage.

The time lapse is below, but for a collection of photos from the game be sure to check out my photo gallery posted on Examiner.com that is attached to the game story.

Big week this week for college football fans. The Texas Vs. The Nation game is on Saturday so we have one more all-star game to look forward to. I am looking to bring someone on to the podcast this week to discuss it in a little more detail so stay tuned. Of course, Wednesday is National Signing Day so be sure to look for continuing coverage from Examiner. It should be a fun week!

History of college football and Jerry World

TCU, BYU in discussions about 2011 game in Cowboys Stadium

Cowboys Stadium is a grand football stadium. Getty Images.

As reported this morning on Examiner, sourcing The Dallas Morning News and The Salt Lake Tribune stories from the past 24 hours, the TCU Horned Frogs and BYU Cougars are reported to be working on plans to play a football game in the 2011 season, with a possible venue of Cowboys Stadium serving as a neutral site for the now former Mountain West Conference rivals. As I say in my story, this would be a great move for both schools as Cowboys Stadium has become a place where a game becomes an event. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Cowboys Stadium proves it. Not only is the stadium huge but whatever happens to be taking place there instantly becomes bigger than usual.

The sight of this season’s Super Bowl has already hosted concerts, NCAA basketball games and an NBA All-Star Game. Of course, college football has also taken to the Cowboys Stadium stage in the first two years of the stadium’s existence. Here is a quick recap of the games that have taken place there at the FBS level. We’ll start with the most recent game and work our way back in time all the way to the year 2009.

LSU won the most recent college football game played in Cowboys Stadium. Getty Images.

January 7, 2011: LSU vs. Texas A&M
Cotton Bowl Classic

LSU scored another bowl victory for the SEC with a 41-24 victory over Texas A&M. The Aggies led after one quarter (opened up a 10-0 lead before LSU got on the board) but the Tigers dropped 21 second quarter points on the board to take a 28-17 lead in to the half and they outscored the Aggies in the second half to secure the victory. It was the 50th all-time meeting between the two programs who once met every year between 1986 and 1995. LSU, fueled by the combo of Stevan Ridley and Spencer Ware each running for over 100 yards, racked up 288 rushing yards in the game.

Was it the final Big 12 Championship Game? For the time being, yes. Getty Images.

December 4, 2010: Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
Big 12 Championship

Nebraska returned to Cowboys Stadium for the second straight Big 12 championship game. This time, as they prepared to leave the conference for the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers were hoping to make amends for the season before when they lost to Texas. Nebraska played long-time rival Oklahoma in what is, as of now, the final Big 12 Championship game, and after taking a 20-17 lead in to the half the end-result was the same for Nebraska. Oklahoma outscored Big Red in the second half 6-0 with a pair of field goals. Nebraska once led 17-0 before Oklahoma started to get in a rhythm.

October 9, 2010: Arkansas vs. Texas A&M

The second year of the renewed rivalry series between Arkansas and Texas A&M was closer than the 2009 game, which officially renewed the old Southwest Conference rivalry in Cowboys Stadium’s first year of operation, but Arkansas recorded their secnod straight win in the series, 24-17.

September 4, 2010: TCU vs. Oregon State
Cowboys Classic

In the second edition of the season opening Cowboys Classic the in-state TCU Horned Frogs, with their number four ranking to open the year, began their season against what was thought to be a dangerous Oregon State Beavers team. TCU faced a stiff test from the Pac-10 runners up form the season before and held on to a 28-21 lead heading in to the fourth quarter. A safety gave the Horned Frogs a little more cushion (30-21) and the defense put on a show of what would be one of the underrated assets of the Horned Frogs during a 13-0 campaign.

January 2, 2010: Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State
Cotton Bowl Classic

After the Cotton Bowl failed to bring the Dallas Cowboys back to their place, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the city of Arlington started the process of building Cowboys Stadium. In 2007 the Cotton Bowl announced that they would move their game, which was played in the Cotton Bowl since 1937, to Cowboys Stadium. The move was also to help campaign for one of the classic bowl games to be considered as a BCS game, a move which ultimately failed. Despite being left out of the BCS party, the Cotton Bowl is run like a BCS game and playing in Cowboys Stadium is why.

In the first Cotton Bowl Classic to be played outside of the Cotton Bowl, Ole Miss shut down the Oklahoma State Cowboys 21-7. The 77,928 in attendance was the second-largest in Cotton Bowl history at the time. The 2011 game is now the second highest attended Cotton Bowl (2009 game between Texas Tech and Ole Miss holds the record with 88,175).

Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh was dominant but could not get Nebraska over the hump against Texas in the 2009 Big 12 championship game. Getty Images.

December 5, 2009: Nebraska vs. Texas
Big 12 Championship

Texas was one win away from playing for the BCS championship against Alabama. They were also mere seconds away from losing but officials ruled that a late Colt McCoy incomplete pass had been ruled dead before the clock expired. A video replay blamed an errant clock issue as the reason for the clock running out of time early, which did not sit well with Nebraska. Thinking they had upset the Longhorns and won their first Big 12 championship since 1999, Nebraska was stunned when Texas received one last chance to win. A field goal by Hunter Lawrence as time expired gave Texas a 13-12 win and sent the Longhorns to Pasadena.

November 28, 2009: Texas Tech vs. Baylor
Texas Farm Bureau Big 12 Shootout

Texas Tech and Baylor agreed to move their 2009 and 2010 games to more attractive stadiums in North Texas. The first game, hosted by Baylor, was moved to Cowboys Stadium (Texas Tech hosted the 2010 game in the Cotton Bowl). Baylor lost their first game in Cowboys Stadium 20-13. Baylor quarterback Blake Szymanski took the Bears down to the five-yard line but the Red Raider defense held the Bears and forced a turnover on downs.

October 3, 2009: Arkansas vs. Texas A&M

One of Jerry Jones’ personal goals when organizing college football in his new stadium was to bring his alma mater, Arkansas, to the stadium whenever possible. The first time that happened was on October 3, 2009 when Arkansas renewed a rivalry with the Big 12′s Texas A&M during the regular season. The two old rivals had not played since 1991. Arkansas recorded a 47-19 victory in the highest scoring game in the series history. Ticket sales for the series were split 50/50 between the two schools.

AP photo (2009).

September 5, 2009: BYU vs. Oklahoma
Cowboys Classic

In the first college football game in Cowboys Stadium the third-ranked Sooners, led by Sam Bradford, were roughed up and upset by 20th ranked BYU, who was hoping to set the tone for a possible BCS busting season, by a score of 14-13. Freshman Landry Jones stepped in for the Sooners after Bradford was knocked out of the game early on and the entire Oklahoma season was put on thin ice for the remainder of the season. BYU quarterback Max Hall became a household name but a blowout loss to Florida State derailed BYU’s BCS dreams just a couple weeks later.

Future Games in Cowboys Stadium

The Big 12 Championship Game will no longer be held as the conference drops to ten teams (two below NCAA minimum to be eligible for a conference championship game) so Cowboys Stadium will be likely to find some other college football games to round out the schedule. In addition to the Cotton Bowl though Cowboys Stadium will continue to host the Cowboys Classic. Two games are currently scheduled for the next two years with some big names planning to make the trip.

The 2011 season will open up with LSU returning to the location their 2010-11 season ended when they meet BCS runner-up Oregon. Can the Ducks rebound from a BCS championship loss to Auburn to pick up a win against the SEC? The following season, on September 1, 2012, the Michigan Wolverines and Alabama Crimson Tide will play in the season opener.

Episode 040 – Scouting the Senior Bowl and more

Scouting NFL hopefuls with Matthew Elder

Nevada's Colin Kaepernick got off to a good start during Senior Bowl week. Getty Images.

You know, I didn’t realize just how much time the podcast has been on break until I started putting this show together. Since the last time we spoke with Brett McMurphy of Fanhouse we have learned that Fanhouse may in fact be no more soon, Auburn knocked off Oregon to become BCS champions, the Mountain West decided not to expand further (for now) and Cam Newton decided to declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft.

That Newton decided the time was right to go to the NFL came as no surprise. The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner won a BCS title and there is nothing more for him in the college game, especially with so many players from the Tigers also preparing themselves for the NFL as we speak. As I geeked myself out with coverage of last week’s Shrine Game and make it a point to watch the live practice coverage of the Senior Bowl this week (yes, practice!) I got to thinking that it is a shame we don’t get a chance to see a guy like Newton one more time. All of the all-star games in college football are for seniors only so a junior heading to the NFL early are locked out of these postseason games.

If Newton was in an all-star game, you would watch, wouldn't you? Getty Images.

Not that I’m expecting the Senior Bowl to change any time soon, but it is my opinion that a game like the Shrine Game or the brand new Eastham Energy College Football All-Star game could benefit greatly by adjusting their rules to accommodate some of the top junior players in the game. A record number of juniors will be eligible for the NFL Draft in April and don’t you think some of hem would have made some of the lesser all-star games have a little more buzz about it? With no offense to the fine people in charge of either game but the Shrine Game has taken a step back to the Senior Bowl and until reading this the odds are pretty good you didn’t even know the Eastham Energy College Football All-Star Game existed. Admit it (it’s OK, it was played at the same time as the AFC Championship game on Sunday anyway).

So, is there room for juniors in these postseason all-star games. Of course there is, but should they be allowed to play in them after giving up on their education with dreams of making mega bucks in the pros? That is a question I pose to find of the podcast Matthew Elder, making his third appearance on the podcast. Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section below. I’ll be sure to have more on this topic in the near future as well and would like to incorporate your thoughts and feedback.

For those who get crazy about scouting college players heading to the NFL, this podcast is for you. We spend a solid 45 minutes doing nothing but that, with the exception of our junior conversation referenced above and giving a quick shout out to the PSAC. Sit back and listen to Elder discuss some of the players he has moved up and down his personal draft rankings. Spoiler alert: Elder is not high on Jake Locker either. Nor was he too enthused with the performance of Pat Devlin out of Delaware.

Elder also drops a couple names to keep an eye on during next week’s NFLPA Game, the Texas vs. The Nation game, so be sure to stick with it. Like I said, this episode is for you junkies who can’t get enough scouting coverage.

Final Conference Bowl Standings

SEC reigns supreme

As if a fifth straight BCS championship was not enough to convince you, the SEC once again took top honors in the bowl season in terms of total wins. The conference got off to a bad start with South Carolina suffering through a hangover in the Chick-fil-A Bowl following a loss in the SEC Championship game and Arkansas and Kentucky took some late bowl-season losses but the SEC saw Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State, LSU and BCS Champ Auburn record more victories than any other conference.

The Mountain West finished a very respectable 4-1 in the conference bowl standings too but it will be interesting to see how they do moving forward with the departure of Utah (who was the conference’s only loss), BYU and TCU (in 2012). The Horned Frogs scored the biggest win for the conference with a Rose Bowl victory over co-Big Ten champion Wisconsin.

Speaking of the Big Ten, they finished with a lowly 3-5 with an awful outing on New Years Day. At least the Buckeyes snapped their SEC losing streak. The PAC-10 was the only BCS conference with fewer wins than the Big Ten. The Pac 10, now the Pac 12, was 2-2 and failed to fill all of their bowl slots. Was less actually more for the conference?

Here are the final conference standings in the 2010-11 bowl season. This page will be archived for posterity.

Standing Conference W Winners L Losers
1 SEC 5 Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State, Auburn, LSU 5 Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky
2 Mountain West 4 BYU, San Diego State, Air Force, TCU 1 Utah
3 Big East 4 Louisville, Syracuse, South Florida, Pittsburgh 2 West Virginia, Connecticut
4 ACC 4 N.C. State, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida State 5 Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College
5 Big 12 3 Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma 5 Missouri, Baylor, Kansas State, Nebraska, Texas A&M
Big Ten 3 Iowa, Illinois, Ohio State 5 Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Northwestern, Wisconsin
6
Sun Belt 2 Troy, Florida Int. 1 Middle Tennessee
Independents 2 Army, Notre Dame 1 Navy
7 Pac 10 2 Washington, Stanford 2 Arizona, Oregon
MAC 2 Northern Illinois, Miami (Oh) 2 Ohio, Toledo
WAC 2 Boise State, Nevada 2 Fresno State, Hawaii
8 Conference USA 2 Tulsa, Central Florida 4 Southern Miss., UTEP, East Carolina, SMU

Coaching Carousel: Final Copy

The coaching carousel has been in the books for a little bit now so I figured it was time to post a final copy of all of the changes in college football. Below is a chart of all of the coaching changes listed by school. In the far left column you will see the school, followed by which heda coach was heading out, and on the right you will see who the new man in charge is.

Following the chart is a time line of each head coaching change as it unfolded over the course of time. We’ll save this post with a link on the left for posterity’s sake and will revisit it as we prepare for the start of the 2011 season over the summer.

TEAM OUT IN
Arkansas State Steve Roberts Hugh Freeze
Ball State Stan Parrish Pete Lembo
Colorado Dan Hawkins Jon Embree
Connecticut Randy Edsall Paul Pasqualoni
Florida Urban Meyer Will Muschamp
Indiana Bill Lynch Kevin Wilson
Kent State Doug Martin Darrel Hazell
Louisiana Lafayette Rickey Bustle Mark Hudspeth
Maryland Ralph Friedgen Randy Edsall
Miami Randy Shannon Al Golden
Miami (Ohio) Mike Haywood Don Treadwell
Michigan Rich Rodriguez Brady Hoke
Minnesota Tim Brewster Jerry Kill
North Texas Todd Dodge Dan McCarney
Northern Illinois Jerry Kill Dave Doeren
Pittsburgh Dave Wannstedt Mike Haywood
Pittsburgh Mike Haywood Todd Graham
San Diego State Brady Hoke Rocky Long
Stanford Jim Harbaugh David Shaw
Temple Al Golden Steve Addazio
Tulsa Todd Graham Bill Bankenship
Vanderbilt Robbie Caldwell James Franklin

Time Line

Senior Bowl: The Jake Locker Phenomenon

Is Jake Locker worth the hype?

Jake Locker has hype, but can he deliver? Getty Images.

A year ago Washington’s Jake Locker was considered a sure thing and was expected to go early in the 2010 NFL Draft. Faced with the dilema of possibly being drafted by the St. Louis Rams, an honor Locker kindly left uncontested for Sam Bradford from Oklahoma, Locker decided to return for his final season at Washington.

A return for his senior season was received with great praise by the Husky faithful in the Seattle area and the school saw it as an opportunity to use Locker to get their own name out in the media. Locker was heralded as a Heisman contender and given top billing on a tour to the east coast to visit with the New York media and make a round through ESPN’s “car wash”, in which a college player goes from show to show on ESPN including SportsCenter, First Take, multiple radio shows and even Ivan Maisel’s podcast. Locker was everywhere and you could not avoid it.

But the question remains; Why?

In his junior season Locker completed 58.2% of his passes for 2,800 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Locker added 388 rushing yards and seven more touchdowns on the ground. Though his numbers look to be pretty average scouts always thought that the fact that he was playing for a team that went 5-7 was a reason Locker was being held back in terms of overall production. His skills, scouts say, are made for the pro game and even if his college stats look average at best, the potential factor would make Locker worthy of a high draft pick.

That’s what they were saying after last season and that is what they are saying this year even though Locker’s stats went down in every major category (passing yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, passer rating). Locker did miss one game due to injury (Oregon) but he played in the same number of games this past season as he did the year before because of a bowl appearance in 2010.

“The bottom line is, you need one of these guys,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock says. “The hard thing is figuring out the intangibles: What kind of kid is he? What kind of worker is he? And how good is his football IQ?”

Jake Locker may be this year's Mr. Potential in the NFL Draft. Getty Images.

That is what will be scrutinized from every possible angle this week. Locker will be one of the top players to watch this week during Senior Bowl week. The Husky quarterback is the quarterback with the most to prove given his high expectations heading in. The rest of the QBs in Mobile, Alabama this week are good college quarterbacks but other than TCU’s Andy Dalton and Florida State’s Christian Ponder there are few who figure to have a great chance to make any impact in the NFL.

Although, if Caleb Hanie can find himself in a position to make a run at a Cinderella type story in the NFC Championship game, who knows what the future has in store for Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi, and Alabama’s Greg McElroy?

Noted NFL Draft analysts for ESPN Mel Kiper no longer has Locker as a first round draft pick. According to Kiper’s latest mock-draft he has the Seattle Seahawks passing on Locker with the 25th pick and drafting Ryan Mallet from Arkansas. I do not tend to take too much stock in mock drafts but I find this to be an interesting opinion. If the Seahawks, a franchise playing in the same area as the Huskies, passes on Locker after being able to watch him for years, just where would he land? For Kiper this is a big change in thinking as he declared before and after the 2010 NFL Draft that Locker would be taken first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Clearly, in terms of money, Locker should have declared for the NFL last year. After watching what I did of Locker in 2010 I fail to see what all of the hype is about. I am not alone either. Patrick Johnson from In the Bleachers agrees and says that Locker should realize he is best suited for baseball. “Sooner he accepts it, the better,” Johnson tweeted at me over the weekend. Locker was named Baseball America’s top prospect in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League in 2008 while playing outfield for the Bellingham Bells.

I close with this week’s featured poll question. Do you think Locker is worth a first round draft pick? Should the Seahawks follow Kiper’s thinking and take Mallet if given the option? Should Locker focus on baseball instead? This poll will close on Thursday evening and I will review the answers on Friday. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section as well. Some comments may be featured. Or you can e-mail your thoughts as well.

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