3 Star = Pro Bowl

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.22.2016

The 2017 Pro Bowl roster was announced this week and while the game is becoming increasingly meaningless, a few outlets point out how there are more former 3-Star college recruits and lower than anyone else on the roster. Proving again that the recruiting star system is also increasingly irrelevant.

Recruiting stars are no guarantee of NFL success or collegiate success for that matter. There are many more three, two, one and no star recruits than there ever are five and four star recruits but most people presume that five or four star players are significantly better than three and below.

While the star rankings do not give the best indicator to future success, it does show that three and lower are just as good if not better than the four and five players if put in the right situation and coached up.

If you look at the no star recruits coming out of high school and now in the 2017 Pro Bowl, two of those players, Antonio Brown and Tom Brady, are arguably the best at their position. Brady is a lock for the Hall of Fame and Brown is probably the most feared receiver in the NFL over the last two seasons. Brown was a sixth round pick out of Central Michigan. He didn’t ‘fit’ the ‘typical’ NFL wide receiver. All he does now is make plays and score touchdowns and has become an indispensable part of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense.

As college football teams go into the final recruiting push early next year, it’s important for those three star and lower kids to recognize that the coaches and so-called ‘experts’ may not know talent when they see it. Proving them wrong is better than any star from.

 

 

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The Battle Ground State

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.14.2016

Charlie Strong, Lane Kiffin and Butch Davis. These are a few of the folks who will be new head coaches in college football next season in the state of Florida. Add in the three big schools in the state, Florida, Florida State and Miami, and you have a fierce recruiting battle in the Sunshine State.

Florida is a little different than most places when it comes to recruiting. According to a CBSSports.com article, one in 99 players in Florida sign to an FBS scholarship out of high school. That’s an extraordinarily high rate and one that shows that there is enough talent to go around between all of these FBS schools and then some. Year after year the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Nebraska and just about everyone else comes down south and snatches up players.

Lane Kiffin FAUNow the head coaches in state may, how are already great recruiters, just need to convince a 17 year old to stay closer to home. Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, Mark Richt at Miami and Jim McElwain at Florida are all top notch recruiters and coaches. Their skills will be put to the test as Strong, Kiffin and Davis recruit from the same talent pool.

These new guys have NFL experience, run Power 5 programs, developed players for the next level and have the rings to show for it. The question now becomes, who can recruit a one or two star player and coach him up. Gut feeling on that is Charlie Strong now at South Florida.

Charlie StrongWhile Kiffin, Davis, Fisher, Richt and McElwain all have selling points about their programs, Strong is the only African American FBS head coach in this state. Along with his strong moral character and strong ties to the state (he coached at Florida on three different occasions), I see him winning out in the long haul. It may take him a year or two but he’s the only one of the three new coaches who has some talent leftover from the previous regime to work with.

Every college football season is a good college football season but this stretch run recruiting season maybe the start of something crazy. Something so crazy that it will probably end up as series on Netflix. Fisher, McElwain, Richt, Kiffin, Davis and Strong competing for the state’s best talent, let the games begin!

Out Of Control

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


National Signing Day is officially out of hand. It was bad enough when ESPN and CBS Sports began doing live shots of high school football players announcing where they are going to play their college football (at least to start with before they transfer due to lack of playing time) but a live show complete with celebrities? Skydiving? Really?

Ric FlairIn case you missed it, Jim Harbaugh and Michigan put on an event complete with former Michigan players like Tom Brady and Desmond Howard along with host Randy Sklar, Harbaugh’s brother John, Ric Flair, Lou Holtz, Mike Shanahan, Todd McShay and oh yeah, ‘The Captain’ Derek Jeter whose site, The Players’ Tribune, live streamed the event.

Tennessee streamed their day live online too which was some six plus hours. While it didn’t have Brady, Jeter or Ric Flair it was still six plus hours of a live event for players turning in a piece of paper.

While over the top it was still nothing compared to Ole Miss signee Deontay Anderson. He went skydiving to make his announcement.

Really?

These are high schoolers who have never played a down of collegiate football. Heck, most haven’t even graduated high school yet. There is no guarantee that any of them will turn out to be a quality player or even be playing football within a year. Isn’t this a little much?

A few years ago I had a couple of posts pointing out that a top class doesn’t always equal success on the field. According to Rivals.com two schools with the top 10 recruiting classes in 2015 fired their head coaches this past year (USC and Georgia) and another school tried to fire their’s (LSU).

Yes a higher ranked recruiting class gives you a better chance to be successful than a lower ranked recruiting class. However at what point do people stop and say ‘hold on a minute, these are just kids we are putting up on a pedestal. Maybe they should earn it first before we shower them with praise’?

No? Well maybe that won’t happen but even the craziest of people has to admit that this is getting a little out of control.

Harbaugh: Doing It His Way

Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Jim Harbaugh has been anything but boring since returning to the collegiate ranks. He brought Michigan back to the double-digit win mark in his first season and is now making headlines with his antics on the recruiting trail. Some are not happy about Harbaugh’s recruiting methods but there is precedent for what he is doing.

During this last recruiting push before national signing day (February 3rd) Harbaugh has done just about everything one could imagine.

He’s tried to climb a tree

Had a ‘Netflix & Chill’ night

and even sleepovers.

While the jury is still out on if these tactics worked (getting a recruit to commit doesn’t mean he’ll be a contributing player) it has ruffled some feathers especially to those recruits who’s scholarship commitments he pulled.

 of the Detroit Free Press wrote a great piece about how recruits, opposing coaches and even writers are upset about Harbaugh pulling scholarship offers from long standing commitments.

While it appears harsh it is not without precedent. Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville literally walked out of dinner with recruits while at Texas Tech to take the job at Cincinnati. Later, he and his staff pulled scholarship offers once they arrived.

And this is at a non-Power five school!

While some recruits should be angry about the how they were treated by Harbaugh, Tuberville and others, this is a cutthroat business after all. Coaches get paid millions to win NOW. While we’d like to think that coaches are there to educate and develop young men, bottom line is they have to win to keep their jobs and sometimes even that isn’t enough.

Is a coach going to pull offer from kid A and give it to kid B if he feels kid B gives him a better chance of winning? Damn right he is. There are only so many scholarships to go around after all. Let’s also not forget, these scholarships are for a year and can be revoked. It’s cold blooded but it’s the system that has been allowed to grow due to the money that is involved with college football.

The good side, it’s life lesson kids are learning early. Just because you are qualified doesn’t mean you get the job. Just because everyone likes doesn’t mean you won’t be let go in a round of layoffs. Just because you have an offer doesn’t mean that the you are set for the next four years.

Harbaugh has a track record of winning in college and in the NFL. He clearly knows what he’s doing and the type of player he believes will help him win at Michigan. Like it, don’t like it but you see how the San Francisco 49ers did after he left. At the very least he’s entertaining and giving us something to write about besides “what school will this “5 star” kid select?” when we all know that this kid may never make any kind of impact for the school he signed with.

 

Why Chip Kelly Isn’t Right For The NFL

By Dave Trausneck @trausneck

A few days after Christmas, my father and I were riding around in his car straddling the state line between North and South Carolina when he asked me if Chip Kelly was leaving Oregon.

About three heartbeats later I said, “no.”

When asked why, I told my father that I had a pretty good hunch that Kelly would stay in Eugene, because we went down a similar road last year, and I don’t think his offense would parlay into success in the National Football League.

Chip Kelly-Oregon

Much has been said over the past few days about Kelly’s “blur” offense at Oregon, and how versions of it is currently being used by the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins… and Kelly “wins” no matter where he goes.  Could Chip Kelly win in the NFL?  Yes.  Enough to mirror his success at Oregon?  No.Here’s a list of reasons why Kelly can’t win at Cleveland, Buffalo or Philadelphia like he can in Eugene.  I’ll go into more details below.

  1. Recruiting vs. the Draft
  2. Speed in college vs. speed in the NFL
  3. Coaching teenagers vs. coaching 5-8 year NFL veterans
  4. He can’t be his obscure, quirky self with members of the media in the NFL or with any of those fan bases.

The University of Oregon football program has several exclusive perks.  Most notable, it’s the school Phil Knight launched into the stratosphere.  When 16 and 17-year-old boys watch the Ducks on television, they see hundreds of jersey combinations and Nike EVERYWHERE.  It’s flash, it’s 80’s-era Showtime at the Forum, and Chip is like Magic running the break dishing to Worthy or Kareem.

Like Tampa Bay last year, I believe Kelly realized the infrastructure in Buffalo, Cleveland and Philadelphia could not sustain his type of offense… and he would be out in three years at either location.  Brandon Weeden, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Nick Foles cannot run Kelly’s offense as well as Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas or Marcus Mariota.  The three former quarterbacks are better for the NFL than for college… the three latter quarterbacks are better for Chip than the NFL.

Kelly’s offense relies on speed more than anything else.  In his UPS commercials, he notes the offense includes many simple patterns, but he emphasizes speed.  The “blur” offense can work in college where talent is somewhat diluted, but not in the NFL.  Right now, the spread offense is a gimmick that keeps defenses on their toes between multiple spread formations and 50-pass attempt per game quarterbacks.

Oregon’s Win The Day motto resonates in young men better than 28-year-olds who have three homes and three cars.  His message serves as a viable life lesson for an 18-year-old who just became eligible to vote, and who will soon play on national television for the first time.  The message gets drowned out in a room of men who have had 3 coaches in their career.  Motivating young men is much simpler than changing a grown man.

If you’ve ever listened to Coach Kelly talk to a reporter, you know he’s an odd fella.  He speaks differently, acts differently… and can be best described as “obscure.”  It fits perfect in Eugene.  It’s an obscure part of America… and he gets to fly under the radar of bigger national media on the East Coast.  It’s tougher to stay up and watch the end of an Oregon game at 2am than it is to finish watching the SEC game of the week that ends at 7pm.

Each city that showed interest in Kelly has a rabid fan base that does not tolerate failure.  While success in Buffalo, Cleveland and Philadelphia has been tough to find the past few years, you need a coach who understands that and can speak to the blue-collar nature of their core fan base.  Kelly has a frosty relationship at best with boosters in Eugene.  It’s a relationship that could also put a strain on the fan base.

Chip Kelly will probably make the jump from Oregon to the NFL one day.  But the time isn’t right, and it may never be right.

As one woman in Portland put it, “If he (Kelly) wants to do the game a service, keep teaching.”