Jay Beck

Jay Beck

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There was horrible news out of Ames on Wednesday morning with the announcement that ISU defensive line coach Curtis Bray passed away while working out at the Bergstrom Football Complex.

Bray had been an assistant on Paul Rhoads' staff during his entire tenure in Ames going back to 2009.

Bray's loss will be felt far and wide and it was obvious in the social media world the he had a huge impact on those who either played for or had the chance to cross paths with him.

 

 

 

 

 

“Curtis Bray was a dear friend to me and to all he ever came in contact with,” head coach Paul Rhoads said. “He was a trusted and loyal assistant coach who always put the kids and the team in front of his work. He was as genuine in his approach to relationships, coaching and life as anyone I have ever been associated with. We will miss him dearly.”

Bray is survived by his wife, Heather, and two young children.  Prayers go out to his family and the Cyclone Nation.

Monday, 13 January 2014 17:34

Iowa State getting a bargain with Mangino

As far as assistant coaching salaries go, it's safe to say Iowa State is getting a steal with the hiring of Mark Mangino as their offensive coordinator.

Paul Rhoads announced Mangino's hiring last week and on Thursday, the Ames Tribune was reporting Mangino will be paid $350,000 for the 2014 season and $375,000 in 2015.

Mark Mangino ISUKeep in mind, this is a guy that has national championship under his belt while the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, not to mention, he turned Kansas into a respectable Big 12 team while winning a BCS bowl game with the Jayhawks to go with it.

As far as Big 12 coordinators go, Mangino's salary will be about as cheap as they come. Shannon Dawson is making $300,000 at West Virginia although we know who's calling the shots for the Mountaineers.

Clint Bowen at Kansas made $275,000 in 2013 although he didn't add the official title of defensive coordinator until after the season which I'm guessing might involve a pay increase for 2014.

Even Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator, Mike Yurcich, who hadn't coached above the Division II level prior to going to Stillwater is pulling in $400,000.

This isn't meant in any way as a slight against the Cyclones for not paying what appears to be market value for good coordinators. It's simply meant to point out Iowa State is getting themselves a top-shelf play caller at pennies on the dollar.

According to USA Today's coaching salary database, there were three coordinators pulling in over a million dollars per season in 2013 and a whopping 59 assistant coaches making $500,000 or more.

As is the case with all coordinators, Mangino will be judged by his success on the field - not his paycheck - but credit has to be given to Paul Rhoads for going out and getting a guy that knows his way around an offense without having to break in bringing him to Ames.

West Virginia redshirt freshman quarterback, Ford Childress, is no longer part of the Mountaineer football program according to the Charleston Daily Mail. Childress had been suspended by head coach Dana Holgorsen for the upcoming semester before he informed the coaching staff he wouldn't be returning to school.

The quarterback position was going to be a big question mark heading into the 2014 season and will be even more so now that Childress is out of the equation.

Of the three quarterbacks that started games this past season, Childress appeared to have the most upside although a torn pectoral muscle limited him to just two starts after taking over for senior-to-be Paul Millard in West Virginia's third game of the season. He did not play the rest of the season due to the injury.

Florida State transfer Clint Trickett started seven of the final eight games with mixed results. It was revealed following the season that he had been playing with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury he will have surgically repaired this week. His status for spring football remains in question.

That could leave Millard as the only quarterback with playing experience available for spring practice. He'll be joined by junior college transfer Skyler Howard who enrolled in school last week after playing one season at Riverside City College in California.

With Childress gone and Trickett possibly out until fall camp opens, Howard should get plenty of opportunity to show what he can do. If all goes well, he could very well compete with Trickett for the starting quarterback job this fall.

Whatever the case, shaky quarterback play plagued the Mountaineers during their 4-8 season and will be a be huge point of emphasis as WVU prepares for their third season in the Big 12. West Virginia had been to a bowl game every year for the past 11 seasons before falling back to just four wins in 2013.

There's still plenty of time before WVU opens with Alabama on August 30th, but considering the issues the Mountaineers had at quarterback 2013, the early news coming out of Morgantown certainly doesn't instill confidence things are going to improve anytime soon.

A healthy Trickett should help but with the reliance Holgorsen puts on his quarterbacks, there's still far more questions than WVU has answers heading into winter conditioning.

Thursday, 09 January 2014 15:52

Handing out the Big 12's bowl grades

Another bowl season has come to an end and for the Big 12, there was plenty to be excited about mixed in with a couple disappointing performances to go along with it.

In total, the Big 12 finished with a 3-3 record. Not great, but not bad either considering they faced a brutal slate of games.

There were three great wins coupled with two bad unexpected losses. Using a 4.0 scale, the Big 12 checks in on this year's report card with a 2.78 GPA for the bowl season. Not the GPA of a rocket scientist, but hey, who wants to be a rocket scientist anyway.

On with the grades...

Honor Students

Oklahoma: grade A+

Beat Alabama, 45-31, in the Sugar Bowl

The Big 12 has lost of bit of respect of late versus the SEC but they got a big chunk of it back in New Orleans thanks in large part to the Sooners victory over Alabama. Short of a national title, it's hard to imagine how Oklahoma's season could have finished any better coupled with the Bedlam victory over Oklahoma State to end the season.

Nobody gave Bob Stoops and the Sooners much of a chance against the defending back-to-back national champions, but Oklahoma took it to the Crimson Tide thanks in part to Trevor Knight's coming out party.

The redshirt freshman was brilliant throwing for 348 yards on four touchdowns against Nick Saban's defense.

If you said prior to the season Oklahoma would beat Alabama in a bowl game, you would have figured the Sooners would have been national champions. That wasn't the case, but it's still a huge win for the Oklahoma program.

Texas Tech: Grade A

Beat Arizona State, 37-23, in the Holiday Bowl

Heading into the bowl season, not many gave Texas Tech a chance against the Sun Devils who had put together a 10 win season in a tough Pac-12. Texas Tech, meanwhile, was nursing a five game losing streak after starting the season 7-0.

None of that mattered in San Diego as the Red Raiders jumped to an early lead and never looked back. Davis Webb was on fire throwing for 403 yards and four touchdowns while the defense held ASU to 23 points, 18 points under their season average.

It's always a good thing when the opposing coach says after the game, "I am very embarrassed for our program," as Todd Graham did following the game. Here's a double gun salute to Texas Tech who will have plenty to smile about heading into winter conditioning.

Kansas State: Grade A

Beat Michigan, 31-14, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

The Wildcats were the first Big 12 team on the docket and got the league off to an impressive start by beating Michigan like a drum in Tempe.

Michigan was without their starting quarterback, Devin Gardner, but it might not have mattered because the Wildcats dominated the Wolverines in the trenches on both sides the entire night.

Michigan finished with just 65 yards rushing (40 coming on a run in garbage time) giving no support to quarterback Shane Morris who was making his first career start.

Meanwhile, Jake Waters probably played his best game of the season completing 21-27 passes and three touchdowns all of which went to Tyler Lockett.

The Wildcats had a miserable beginning to the year, but the way they finished the season combined with their impressive bowl performance leaves many reasons for optimism heading into 2014.

Making the Grade

Oklahoma State: Grade B

Lost to Mizzou, 41-31, in the Cotton Bowl

The Cowboys got together with their former Big 12 mate, Missouri, in the AT&T Cotton Bowl and although they suffered their third loss of the season, there wasn't much to hang their head about.

The Cowboys held the ball at the Missouri 23 yard line with just over a minute to play before Clint Chelf was sacked and fumbled the ball which was returned 73 yards for the final 10 point difference.

The Pokes outgained Mizzou 548 to 462 yards and allowed James Franklin to complete just 15 of his 40 pass attempts but it still wasn't enough.

All told however, it was still a solid performance against a Mizzou squad that caused plenty of headaches for teams in the SEC this season.

USATSI 7646919 117736234 lowresImprovement needed

Baylor: Grade D

Lost to Central Florida, 52-42, in the Fiesta Bowl

Given the Big 12's bowl schedule this year, about the only win you could chalk up a sure thing was Baylor beating UCF, champions of the American Athletic Conference. As it turns out, however, it wasn't nearly the sure thing as most of us thought.

The Bears came in as 17 point favorites but did not hold the lead the entire night. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles used both his arm and legs tearing through a Baylor defense that morphed in the Baylor defense we saw the past few seasons, not the one that helped Baylor to this year's Big 12 title.

In total, UCF racked up 556 and won the game despite losing the turnover battle, three to one.

As good as the wins by Oklahoma and Texas Tech were for the Big 12, Baylor's loss stung the most of any team in the Big 12.

It was still a fine season for Baylor - one of the best in the school's history - but it's still a loss that will likely stick in Baylor's craw throughout the offseason.

Texas: Grade D-

Lost to Oregon, 30-7, in the Alamo Bowl

Mack Brown's final performance as the Texas head coach went just as most expected. The Texas offense was terrible inconsistent while Oregon faced little resistance from the Longhorn defense as Marcus Mariota tallied 386 yards of total offense.

The Ducks scored on the third play of the game after Case McCoy's pass was intercepted and returned 37 yards for the touchdown. A field goal on the ensuing possession would be all the scoring Oregon would need.

As has been the case for most of the past four season, Texas was again plagued by shaky quarterback play. McCoy could get nothing going in the passing game finishing with just 48 yards while the Texas offense as a whole mustered a meager 236 yards for the game.

The run through the middle part of the season was impressive but In the end, UT finished just the way it began when they were drubbed by BYU and Ole Miss back in September.  Oregon is much better than either of those two, but here's guessing most Longhorns fans can't wait to get the Charlie Strong era started.

Texas booster Red McCombs wasn't happy with the way the hiring process went down in Austin and he wasn't afraid to let his feelings be known this week.

What did Charlie Strong think of McCombs' airing his displeasure? Dan Patrick asked Strong about the comments during his radio show on Wednesday.

"There are going to be statements made. You can't worry about that. You just move on. You have a job to do. You can't worry about what people say or think. I'm going to get judges by my work here," Strong said. Once you win some football games, you're going to change a lot of people's attitudes."

There's nothing to see here, really. Strong made the smart move and took the high road.

When it comes down to it, McCombs statement was largely irrelevant in the big picture. Strong knows that so why ruffle any more feathers? If he wins, people will love him. If he doesn't, he'll be looking for a new job in three of four years. It's as simple as that.

The expectations are high at Texas whether or not he as McCombs support. "They're high everywhere (expectations). You have to win," Strong said. "Everybody wants to win. I look at it like this, at the University of Louisville we were 7-6, 7-6, we go 11-2 and then 12-1 and sometimes people think you should have went undefeated."

Nobody is probably expecting Texas to go undefeated next season, although you can bet 10 or 11 wins remains the expectation. And wouldn't it be cool to ask McCombs how the crow tastes? McCombs himself might not even mind that.

You can listen to Patrick's entire interview with Strong below.

Welcome to Austin, Charlie Strong.

It seems there's always politics at play when it comes to hiring head coaches at big time football programs and when it comes to Texas, there's probably more than most.

As the Longhorns were set to hire Louisville coach Charlie Strong, many wondered how he would handle everything that comes with the job that isn't related to football.

His media responsibilities will increase tenfold and there's plenty of handshaking to be done when it comes to keeping the powers at be feeling like part of the program.

It looks as if Strong may have some extra work to do when it comes to UT booster Red McCombs who had been a big supporter of Mack Brown.

Red McCombs3McCombs took to the radio on Monday and didn't sound too thrilled he wasn't involved in the search process.

"I think it's a kick in the face," McCombs said. Beyond the fact of what actually happened. We have boosters that have a lot of knowledge about the game. When we decided to go get Mack, from the time we decided to go get Mack to about 30 hours later to have a press conference here and it was done. We had a lot of input before we went after him."

He also said the whole thing was a bit "sideways" and that Strong would make a great position coach and maybe even a coordinator.

So that's just a little interesting. Way to throw your support behind the new guy who's hadn't been on the job more than a few hours before lobbing grenades in his direction.

Strong, no doubt, already knew Texas wasn't Louisville although I'm guessing he thought it would take a little longer before he found out for sure.

Did McCombs miss the part on Strong's resume regarding his time as Florida's defensive coordinator where he more than proved his worth? Or maybe he overlooked his four years as Louisville's head man where he turned around a downtrodden program and led them to a BCS bowl victory?

McCombs did soften his stance in an interview with the Dallas Morning News although it was still evident he was disappointed he wasn't consulted as he lobbied for John Gruden to land the job. He had spoken to Gruden and believed he was very interested although he had his concerns.

"I was disappointed on a relative basis," McCombs said. "I thought we had a chance to have the absolute beauty of the ball and instead we got a princess of the ball. We'll do well with Charlie. I don't have any doubt. I have no issue with Charlie. I just happened to think I had a champion of the world that could've done it. And Charlie may be another one. We'll just have to see."

Is Charlie Strong going to be successful at Texas? Probably, but it's impossible to know for sure. Would Gruden have been successful? Maybe, but there's no way to know. On some level Gruden may have been a bigger gamble considering he's been so far removed from the college game.

What seems obvious is that McCombs isn't helping the situation by taking his hurt feelings to the media. Of course, when guys that are used to getting their ways suddenly don't, helping apparently takes a backseat to a little kicking and screaming.

It's no surprise McCombs is taking a few shots from the national media this afternoon.  

 

 

Mark Mangino has been hired as Iowa State's offensive coordinator which should be music to the ears of Cyclone fans.

I love the hire. Love it.

This is the same guy that was part of national title team as Oklahoma's offensive coordinator in 2000 and led Kansas to a 12-1 season including a BCS bowl game victory. That's the same Kansas that has compiled a 9-40 record with two different coaches since he left Lawrence.

mangino-markYes, he departed Lawrence amid some controversy stemming from his mistreatment of players, but I'm guessing that's not going to be a problem going forward.

One, because Paul Rhoads simply isn't going to allow it to happen. And two, this is a guy that was out of coaching for three seasons before Youngstown State gave him a shot as an assistant. He needed a second chance and Paul Rhoads has finally given him one, and a big one at that. And if he reverts back to his (alleged) old ways, well, see reason number one again.

The simple fact is this guy can coach offensive football and if you've seen Iowa State's offense the past few seasons, you know it's a group that could use a little imagination. They'll get and then some with Mangino pulling the strings in Ames.

It doesn't change the fact that Iowa State's talent on offense is still in need of an upgrade, but Mangino will immediately help shore of some of those deficiencies. And with a guy like Allen Lazard set to step on campus, the future looks brighter than it did yesterday for the Cyclones with Mangino in the fold.

“I am beyond thrilled to welcome Coach Mangino to the Cyclone football family,” Rhoads said. “He has an imaginative offensive mind, an ability to play to his players’ strengths, a track record of winning and a tremendous familiarity with the Big 12 Conference. In terms of calling plays and executing a game plan, he is top shelf. He has learned from a ‘Who’s Who’ of college coaches, effectively led his own championship program and is respected throughout the coaching ranks.”

Kudos to Paul Rhoads on the hire.

Monday, 06 January 2014 16:59

Lache Seastrunk heading to the NFL

Baylor lost a key piece of its offense with Monday's announcement that running back Lache Seastrunk has decided to enter this May's 2014 NFL draft.

It's hard to blame the guy, however, as he put together an solid junior season rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging an impressive 7.4 yards per carry. All that while missing two games with a groin injury.

Seastrunk finished what turned out to be his final game as a Bear with 117 yard performance in Baylor's loss to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.

"Playing in the NFL has been a lifelong dream of mine, and I'm fully prepared to take the next step toward realizing that goal," Seastrunk said in a prepared statement. "I'm excited for the opportunity to compete in the NFL draft process. I look forward to giving teams every ounce of energy I've got and proving to them that I'm a good person, a relentless competitor, and a great player, too."

Seatrunk's loss means Baylor will be losing their top two running backs this season as Glasco Martin has already played out his eligibility.

Even so, it's not like the Bears' cupboard will be bare entering next season. Both of the Bears' redshirt freshmen backs, Devin Chafin and Shock Linwood, have already proven their more than capable of picking up the slack.

Linwood put together four 100 yard games this season, two coming against Oklahoma and Texas Tech when Seastrunk went to the sideline. Chefin didn't get as many opportunities, but he also rushed for 100 yards against the Red Raiders.

The duo will be joined by redshirt freshman Johnny Jefferson and incoming freshman Terence Williams giving Baylor no shortage of options to fill Seastrunk's shoes.

As for Seastrunk, he's projected to go in somewhere in the first three rounds of the draft, but it's hard to imagine him falling far. There simply aren't many backs available that possess the same kind of explosiveness and big play ability that he's bring to the table.

Sunday, 05 January 2014 00:44

Charlie Strong is the man for Texas

It appears as if the Texas Longhorns search for a head coach has come to an end.

After a 24 hours that saw reports of Louisville head coach Charlie Strong accepting the job only to find out it wasn't a done deal just yet, Texas is expected to finally announce Strong as their replacement for Mack Brown on Sunday.

 

That ends weeks of speculation about who was or wasn't going to be packing their bags for Austin following Brown's announcement that he was stepping down after 16 seasons at the helm.

There will be plenty more to come on Strong's hiring over the next couple days, but it appears Texas has made themselves a solid hire.  Strong was 37-15 in four seasons at Louisville taking the Cardinals to bowl games every year including a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida last season.

Bob Stoops has taken plenty of flack over the course of the season for his preseason comments regarding the SEC and fans being fed propaganda.

There are plenty of people today claiming Stoops backed up those comments in the Sugar Bowl and on some level, I guess they're correct. Coming at it from a different angle, however, I'm not sure exactly what Stoops and his Sooner squad backed up.

Oklahoma beat Alabama who has obviously dominated college football winning three of the last four national titles. Unless I missed something, Oklahoma didn't beat the entire SEC or some kind of SEC All-Star team. Of course, I think that was Stoops point the entire time.

Friday morning, Stoops went on the Colin Cowherd show and tried to put the matter to rest.

“When I made the comment, the bottom half of the SEC was like zero-and-36 against the top half of the SEC. You realize that? A year ago…nobody talks about that. My point was, don’t say SEC like they’re all doing that (beating everyone). One or two or three top teams…sure, you give them the credit. Alabama…I’ve got the utmost respect for them. Are you kidding me? How could you not? But in the end, don’t talk about the entire conference that way. It’s just not true.

“Hey, I’ve got total respect for Alabama, but you can’t deny what we did last night. Obviously, we can play with anybody, whether it’s the SEC or anyone else. And to say we can’t…well, Alabama’s been rolling the SEC for the last three years and we didn’t seem to be overwhelmed last night. I’m done with that talk.”

All Oklahoma did in New Orleans was beat the team who had been the best in the SEC over the past several seasons. What does that say about the rest of the SEC? I'm not sure other than to say Oklahoma could probably beat every other team in the league, as well, on a given night. Seems logical enough, no?

Does that mean the SEC still isn't the most dominant conference? No, of course not. The fact is a team from the SEC has still won the last seven national titles with an eighth in a row possibly coming on Monday night.

What's a much better gauge of conference superiority comes his comments that followed. What better way to compare two leagues than to take a couple teams from one and throw them into another and see how they fare?

“What about Texas A&M and Missouri?” Stoops said. “They’ve been in the Big 12 for 100 years…they don’t seem to be overwhelmed in that league. And they haven't been ruling the Big 12 the entire that they were here, right?”

Exactly. Texas A&M won one Big 12 title in 1998. Missouri never won the league although they played for the title twice in 2007 and 2008 each time getting waxed by Oklahoma.

So is the SEC still the most dominant conference? Sure, probably. But whatever side you're on, the debate will continue on with no firm answer in site. Let's just quit asking Stoops about it for a while. He proved Thursday night Oklahoma is every bit as good as Alabama and when it comes down to it, what else really matters?

The SEC is still a great conference. So is the Big 12. And nobody was laughing at the PAC-12 this year, either. The B1G might have two of the top three ranked teams in the final poll when it's all said and done. And the ACC might just have this year's national champion.

You can carve the argument any way you like, but this year more than most, coming to any type of conclusive answer is, well, nothing more than a bunch of propaganda (see what I did there) coming from whichever team in whatever conference is trying to make the point.

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