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 Post subject: Top College Program "elevators"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:49 pm 
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The dominant storyline this offseason has been the Ohio State scandal, which has continued to unfold with new developments throughout the past several months. The latest bombshell came Tuesday when Terrelle Pryor -- the most-hyped recruit of Jim Tressel's career -- announced that he was leaving OSU. Later on Tuesday, Outside the Lines' Tom Farrey and Justine Gubar reported that the Buckeyes QB made thousands of dollars autographing memorabilia in 2009-10.



Tressel did many great things for the Ohio State Buckeyes' program and the community that surrounded it. There's no doubting that during the decade he was in Columbus, Tressel elevated the program to a place it hadn't been in more than a quarter-century. But in the wake of this mess, the depths of which no one knows just yet, you have to wonder how far things might fall back down because of violations that happened on his watch, given that a significant NCAA investigation is still ongoing.



An attempt to size up the impact Tressel had on the Ohio State program inspires this week's Top 10 list: the best elevation jobs done by coaches over the past 25 years.



(One caveat here: I'm focusing on guys who took over programs that had never been to such heights previously, or were dormant for a very long time. This excludes coaches at programs that had won titles or been outstanding in the previous decade, no matter how exceptional their coaching jobs were. In other words, that means no Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Urban Meyer or Kirk Ferentz.)



1. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech Hokies


After winning five games in his first two seasons at Tech in the late 1980s, Beamer has gradually built the Hokies into a national name. Before he took over, VT had only had two seasons in its history in which the Hokies finished ranked in the top 20. Since 1995, they've only been ranked outside the top 20 twice. In the past seven seasons, they've never won fewer than 10 games and have gone to four BCS bowls. They've also finished in the top 20 in 11 of the last 12 seasons and been in the top 10 six times, including a second-place finish in 1999.



Beamer's impact on the brand has been sizable. The community has embraced "BeamerBall," Lane Stadium has expanded by almost 15,000 seats, new hotels have been built and facilities have been overhauled. A regional program has gone national in a very big way.



2. Nick Saban, LSU Tigers


For all of his great work reinvigorating the Alabama Crimson Tide, it's Saban's efforts in Baton Rouge that merit his place on this list. After all, as down as the Tide was before he got there, they still had won a national title in the previous decade. Before Saban came to SEC country, the Tigers had only won three league titles in about a 40-year stretch and they hadn't finished in the top 10 since 1987.



It only took two seasons for Saban to get the Tigers back into the top 10, and in his fourth season he led LSU to a BCS title. The national championship was only the second in school history and the first since 1958. Saban bolted from Baton Rouge a year later for the NFL, but the foundation he built helped spur momentum for his successor, Les Miles, to win another BCS title for LSU, and the program hasn't lost any traction since.



3. Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin Badgers


The former Nebraska linebacker, who had spent years on the Iowa and Notre Dame staffs, inherited a listless Badgers program. They went 1-10 in his debut season in 1990, but he sparked them to a Rose Bowl and a top-five finish in his fourth season. He would take the Badgers to two more Rose Bowls and step down after a 10-win season in 2005. Now, with Alvarez as the AD, his protégé Bret Bielema has gone 49-16 and been in the top 25 in four of his five seasons.

4. Chris Petersen, Boise State Broncos


Broncos football and its famed blue turf had flashed onto the national radar before Coach Pete took over for Dan Hawkins, but they were more of a curiosity then. They'd still only had one top-15 finish before Petersen's first season in 2006. Since then, they've gone a staggering 61-5, been in the top 15 four times and in the top 10 three times.

5. Gary Patterson, TCU Horned Frogs


Dennis Franchione left Fort Worth after three solid seasons, and his defensive coordinator, Patterson, took over. Patterson had two good years and two mediocre ones before getting things really cranked up when the Horned Frogs hit the Mountain West with force. In the six seasons since then, TCU has won at least 11 games five times, and finished in the top seven the past three seasons. Not bad for a program that had been treading water seemingly since the old Southwest Conference disbanded. Before Patterson taking over, the Horned Frogs had had one Top 25 finish (2000) since 1959. TCU is now being counted on to breathe some much-needed energy into the Big East, starting in 2012.

6. Bill Snyder, Kansas State Wildcats


The Wildcats' level of ineptitude pre-Snyder was epic. They'd had just two winning seasons in the previous 34 years. They'd lost 27 games in a row. His first season wasn't much better, going 1-10. But then he went 5-6, before going 7-4. By the final season of the Big Eight Conference, K-State went 10-2 and finished No. 6 in the nation. Snyder, who struck gold on a ridiculously high percentage of his junior college transfers, produced a run of five top-10 seasons in six years. He would be higher on this list if things hadn't tailed off over the last seven seasons, but he did get K-State back to a bowl game in his second season back running the show.



7. Mike Bellotti, Oregon Ducks


Thanks to a lot of creative marketing by the folks in Oregon -- and the work of Bellotti and his staff -- people from all over the country now know about the Ducks. Bellotti elevated the program from being respectable, as it was under Rich Brooks, to being very good, as it often was during Bellotti's 14-year run, which included three top-10 finishes and a lot of bowl trips. Bellotti left to become the Ducks' AD while his old offensive coordinator, Chip Kelly -- whom he hand-picked over several higher-profile candidates -- has kicked things up to an even higher level in Eugene.



[+] EnlargeJason O. Watson/US PRESSWIRE
Jim Harbaugh transformed Stanford's football program.

8. Jim Harbaugh, Stanford Cardinal


Yeah, there was Elway and Plunkett and a bunch of other guys who attained NFL stardom, but this was a program that had only had one 10-win season since 1940, and considering what a mess Cardinal football was when Harbaugh came to town from San Diego, it's remarkable what he did there in such a short period of time. Talk about a guy leaving a place a lot better than what he found it. David Shaw takes over a program with the best player in college football, Andrew Luck, and a cast of other former blue-chippers still in the pipeline. Harbaugh helped make going to a gorgeous campus with one of the nation's most prestigious academic reputations a viable option for top recruits.



9. Gary Barnett, Northwestern Wildcats


The former Missouri Tigers wide receiver's first college head coaching job was taking over a dismal NU program that hadn't been to a bowl game in almost 50 years, and had long been at the bottom of the Big Ten. The Wildcats won eight games in his first three seasons before Barnett produced a shocking 10-2 season (8-0 in Big Ten play), leading the Cats on a storybook ride to Pasadena. Barnett followed that up with a tie for the league title and another top-15 finish.



After two mediocre seasons, Barnett left for Colorado, and since then NU has gone on to have better success than the coach did in Big 12 country. Under Randy Walker, Northwestern won a share of the Big Ten title in 2000, and in recent years, former Wildcats star Pat Fitzgerald has taken his team to bowl games in three straight seasons.



10. Howard Schnellenberger, Louisville Cardinals


The job Schnellenberger did saving a Miami program that was on the brink of being dropped and transforming it into a national champion is a performance for the ages, but since it's out of our time frame here, Schnelly's job at Louisville gets him a spot on this list. The Cards had become perennial losers, and there was talk of the program dropping to Division I-AA. Schnellenberger gradually built the program up and got the Cardinals to the Fiesta Bowl in his sixth season, going 10-1-1 and finishing ranked in the top 15. The work he did at Louisville, literally building the football program, is documented by his name being used on the football facilities that he played a huge part in upgrading.

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 Post subject: Re: Top College Program "elevators"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:46 pm 
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Can't really disagree with this. LSU should be a national power for years to come. It's going to be interesting which direction Tech takes after Beamer eventually hangs it up. Although when that is, who knows. He'll have to probably coach another 20 years before he could crack 400 wins, by then he'd be 84 (the same age as JoePa is now). Don't see him hanging on that long. But he could probably coach for another 8-10 years no prob.

Although by then, the college football landscape could be very different than what it is today.

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 Post subject: Re: Top College Program "elevators"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:33 pm 
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Well Blacksburg's def had more changeover this current offseason than really any other time I can remember under Beamer. Stanford kicked our tails, thoroughly. I think in no small way Beamer (and Foster) figured VT might be approaching a plateau point, and needed to mix things up to adjust.

First, two older (great coaches, LB's and RB) moved on to office roles (one as the recruiting coord) since they were both 60-65+, and it was mentioned that maybe they were having a tough time "getting through" to todays youth. Also that maybe they were having a tough time competing with other team likes UNCheat that will say and do anything to secure commits. Beamer just ain't gonna roll around in the mud with 'em, so he retooled this way.

The first is to bring his son Shane Beamer back (had been in the SEC the last 7 years or so) at Tenn, MissSt and most recently South Carolina. He is an ACE recruiter and figured VT staff has so little turnover this was his big chance to get back. He will coach RB's. He opens up our recruiting footprint into coveted SEC territory and had the Beamer name (yet he has never used it, preferring to build up his own rep before coming back). Certainly never what a Bowden or some other did.

The second guy thats back is former player Cornell Brown, who won a SB in Baltimore. He's from VA, was one of the initial guys to elevate the program, and is a young and fiery. So we went from two social securities to two young energetic guys. Its already paid dividends in recruiting this year, as VT is up to 12 already. One of the two that retired that had ALL the connections, now oversees all like the puppetmaster (and this is what ALL SEC schools have). Big, big deal in recruiting if you want to get kids over a Bama.

Finally he FINALLY removed Bryan Stinespring as OC and replaced him with current QB coach Mike O'Cain. Now Logan Thomas will have the same guy as qb coach and OC. More synergistic and really you can't get much worse than before.

I'd say Beamer did all this to make a serious push the next 3 years with Logan Thomas at QB. Beyond that, who knows, but I'd agree he could do another 8 w/o skipping a beat.

Either way, nobodies doing more to elevate talent that lands in a program, considering the recruiting they do. You mentioned Pitt having 3, 5* studs, hell VT is in the same boat. Our only 5 star recruits the last 10 years are Macho Harris and Tyrod. THAT TWO IN A DECADE. Yet, we have the 2nd most wins the last decade at 120 (OU has 122). So its not hard to see that VT averages a recruiting class in the 20-30 range annually, yet have the second most wins. THATS SICK.

That leads me to the article I'll post below shortly that goes into how to further push off the plateau, besides the other above changes. Basically, if we coach up 3-4* players to that level, what could we do with some 5's??? Win a NC is what I hope, and certainly the final feather eluding Beamer's cap. I honestly think between all the cheating upheaval, and Beamer's retooling, we have as good a shot or better in the next 3 years.

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 Post subject: Re: Top College Program "elevators"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:35 pm 
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May 11, 2011

Today, we'll compare Virginia Tech's wins, overall draft picks and first round draft picks with the rest of the ACC, as well as each school that has won a National Championship since the year 2000. The results show that while Virginia Tech is near the top in total wins, and very respectable in total number of draft picks, the lack of first-round elite talent is a factor that holds the program back from a National Championship.

Wins

Virginia Tech wins football games. They've won 120 games since the 2000 season, an average of exactly 10 per season. Only twice in that span have the Hokies failed to win 10 games, and they've reached the 11-win mark on three occasions.

Wins Since 2000
(ACC programs and all national
champs since 2000)
School Wins Champs?
Oklahoma 122 Yes
Virginia Tech 120 No
Texas 115 Yes
Ohio State 114 Yes
LSU 110 Yes
USC 110 Yes
Florida 108 Yes
Auburn 102 Yes
Miami 99 Yes
Florida State 95 No
Boston College 95 No
Alabama 89 Yes
Georgia Tech 87 No
Clemson 85 No
Maryland 80 No
NC State 74 No
Virginia 69 No
Wake Forest 64 No
UNC 61 No
Duke 22 No

Virginia Tech is the only program on that list with more than 95 wins since 2000 that has failed to win a National Championship. Florida State is just barely off the list, but their last title came in 1999 when they beat the Hokies.


Oklahoma, Ohio State, Texas, USC, LSU and Florida have been regulars in the National Championship Game. Alabama has been dominant since Nick Saban took over, though they struggled a bit before his arrival. Auburn has been a consistent program over the last 12 seasons, and they managed to go undefeated twice (2004 and 2010).

Overall, Virginia Tech has been the model of consistency over the last 12 years. They have had seven consecutive 10-win seasons, which is the longest streak in the nation. They have won four ACC Championships in those seven years, and there may not be a program anywhere that has been as consistently solid as Frank Beamer's.

So why has the National Championship eluded the Hokies? Let's take a closer look at that.

NFL Draft Picks

Virginia Tech on average is well-represented in the NFL Draft each year. They only had one player chosen in 2009, but the 2008 saw eight Hokies drafted, while nine Tech players were taken in 2006.

Frank Beamer has had some very talented football teams since ACC expansion. Here is how Tech's draft picks have stacked up to the other ACC schools, plus those National Championship winners, since the 2005 NFL Draft.

NFL Draft Picks Since 2005
School Draft Picks Champs?
USC 58 Yes
LSU 40 Yes
Oklahoma 40 Yes
Ohio State 39 Yes
Texas 36 Yes
Miami 35 Yes
Florida 33 Yes
Florida State 32 No
Virginia Tech 32 No
Auburn 28 Yes
Clemson 28 No
Alabama 27 Yes
Virginia 23 No
UNC 22 No
Maryland 18 No
NC State 18 No
Georgia Tech 17 No
Wake Forest 13 No
Boston College 12 No
Duke 0 No

Virginia Tech stacks up pretty well on that list. They even have more NFL draftees since 2005 than the last two National Champions, Alabama and Auburn. They are just one pick behind Florida, who won two National Championships under Urban Meyer, and generally stack up well with anyone on that list with the exception of USC.

But again, along with Florida State, they are the highest school on that list with no National Championship since 2000. The Hokies have been able to put players in the NFL as consistently as most teams on that list, and even more consistently than Auburn and Alabama. But they haven't been able to win a National Title, or even play for one in the timeframe we are using for this article.

Why not? Keep reading …

First Round Picks

First round draft picks are the elite of the elite, the dominant players on the college level. They are the type of guys who can take over a game single-handedly, and elevate a program to new heights. Out of all the ACC schools, and all the schools who have won a National Championship since 2000, only Duke has produced fewer first round draft picks than Virginia Tech since the 2005 NFL Draft.

1st Round Picks Since 2005
School 1st Round
Picks Champs?
USC 12 Yes
Ohio State 11 Yes
LSU 9 Yes
Florida State 9 No
Oklahoma 8 Yes
Texas 8 Yes
Florida 8 Yes
Auburn 7 Yes
Alabama 7 Yes
Miami 6 Yes
Virginia 5 No
Boston College 5 No
Clemson 3 No
UNC 3 No
Maryland 3 No
NC State 3 No
Georgia Tech 3 No
Virginia Tech 1 No
Wake Forest 1 No
Duke 0 No

That table is hard to believe. In first round picks, Virginia Tech is on the same level as Wake Forest, and only Duke has produced fewer since 2005.

It is those first round picks that take a college team from being very good to being National Champions. Auburn has had five fewer draft picks than Virginia Tech since 2005, but they have had seven first round picks. It was four first round picks that pushed their 2004 team over the top and led them to an undefeated season (Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Carlos Rogers). This past year, they probably would have been an 8-4 team without Cam Newton and Nick Fairley.

Boston College has only had 12 players drafted since 2005. However, five of those have been first round picks. Matt Ryan and B.J. Raji took the Eagles from being a mid-tier bowl team to the Atlantic Division Champions for two consecutive seasons.

It's those true difference makers that have enabled Auburn, Florida, etc. to win National Championships. Their best players are first round picks. Tech's best players are many times fifth (Macho Harris), sixth (Tyrod Taylor) and seventh (Cody Grimm) round picks, or even undrafted free agents (Vince Hall, Darren Evans). Tech's only first round pick since 2005 was Duane Brown, and he was a reach. The Texans were bound and determined to take a tackle, and Brown was the best one on the board.

Do recruiting rankings have something to do with future first round picks? Yep. The following table shows the average national recruiting rankings of those schools who have won a National Championship since 2000, and I threw in Florida State and Virginia Tech just for the sake of comparison.

Average Recruiting Class Rankings
Since 2005
School Average Champs?
USC 3 Yes
Florida 5.67 Yes
Alabama 7.67 Yes
LSU 8.67 Yes
Florida State 8.67 No
Oklahoma 8.67 Yes
Texas 8.67 Yes
Ohio State 11.83 Yes
Auburn 12.17 Yes
Miami 12.67 Yes
Virginia Tech 23.17 No

All of those schools sign top 10 recruiting classes routinely. Virginia Tech's highest-rated recruiting class in that span was 14th. Those schools that have won National Championships since 2000 sign highly-rated classes every year. It seems that if you sign top recruits every year, you are going to produce more first round picks, which means you are probably going to contend for, and perhaps win, a National Championship at some point.

There are many factors that affect a team's chances to win a national championship, but elite first-round talent is a big factor. If Virginia Tech produces more first round talent, then a shot at a National Championship will follow. But that's not simple to do, when you consider the schools they have to compete with in recruiting for those future first round picks.

We'll dive into that in a future article, and also take a look at offensive and defensive linemen drafted by the NFL, and recruiting violations committed by those schools who have won a National Championship since 2000. We'll also offer up some thoughts on NCAA enforcement.

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 Post subject: Re: Top College Program "elevators"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:14 pm 
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Good points. I think Tech has plateaued. I think we got into a debate before that I didn't consider Tech to be an elite program that can realistically expect to be a legit NC contender year in and year out. They don't have as rich a recruiting base as say a school in Florida, nor do they play in a power conference like the SEC, Big 10, Big 12. The ACC is a good conference, but the ACC doesn't have the national respect level that its' winner is as good a team as any in the country. It's the 5th rung of the ladder behind hte Pac-10 in terms of BCS prestige.

I was looking at Tech's roster on ESPN.com, and I only saw 12 players from SEC states on the roster, mainly from Florida and South Carolina. That has to change if they want to make that next leap upward.

I think tech needs to go down to states like NC, GA, SC and steal those D-line recruits that North Carolina, Georgia, and Clemson tend to get. Those big, strong 300-pound DTs that can give them a dominant presence in the middle of that defense.

I think the obstacle Tech faces is getting those guys from Metro Atlanta or Charlotte or those country boys from Mississippi to come to Blacksburg. Blacksburg holds a lot of cachet with VA recruits, but it's hard to get a top recruit from elsewhere to commit legitly to go to a school over 500 miles away that is in the middle of nowhere.

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 Post subject: Re: Top College Program "elevators"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:30 pm 
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Quote:
I was looking at Tech's roster on ESPN.com, and I only saw 12 players from SEC states on the roster, mainly from Florida and South Carolina. That has to change if they want to make that next leap upward.

I think tech needs to go down to states like NC, GA, SC and steal those D-line recruits that North Carolina, Georgia, and Clemson tend to get. Those big, strong 300-pound DTs that can give them a dominant presence in the middle of that defense.

I think the obstacle Tech faces is getting those guys from Metro Atlanta or Charlotte or those country boys from Mississippi to come to Blacksburg. Blacksburg holds a lot of cachet with VA recruits, but it's hard to get a top recruit from elsewhere to commit legitly to go to a school over 500 miles away that is in the middle of nowhere.


Nice research, thats it in a nutshell. Our skill players are never the problem, I completely agree its the trench hogs that we need more of. At one time John Graves was a top 2 DE in high school in VA, yet he goes undrafted b/c he's undersized on the NFL level. We swap say a Fairly w/ Graves, how much better is VT's D last year? Its not like VT is far away, even grabbing 1-2, 5stars a year could push them over in any given year (considering how many other variables and luck that have to line up).

Well the changes are working thus far, as just the week VT signed 4 star recruit Jarontay Jones from Georgia, with offers from ALL the major SEC's schools that don't run a 34 D. We also have signed a CB our of Miami, FL thats pretty big time too, a coup as well. See below, as this was the whole point of the changes, so at least its working.
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Jun 04, 2011
In an interview with TechSideline.com last month, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, GA) defensive end Jarontay Jones had serious doubts about whether or not he'd be able to make a commitment before the start of next season. This weekend's unofficial visit to Virginia Tech must have been impressive, because the 6'2", 245-pound rising senior has verbally committed to the Hokies.

"Yea :-)," Jones wrote via text message, confirming that he had committed to the Hokies.

Jones established himself as one of the most productive defensive players in the state of Georgia in the 2010 season, when he racked up 90 tackles including 24 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. A Class 5A first-team all-state selection at defensive end, Jones drew offers from some of the nation's top programs, boasting over 30 major FBS scholarship offers in total.

The Peach State standout visited Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt before traveling to Blacksburg this weekend. He had offers from each of those programs.

Virginia Tech now has 12 commitments in its 2012 recruiting class, but Jones is the first defensive line prospect. Six prospects initially project on the defensive side of the ball.

Stay tuned for more on this commitment tomorrow, when we plan to be in touch with the Rivals.com 4-star athlete to discuss this decision and more.

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