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January 23, 2008

Big 12 raids SEC coaching staffs

How does a football program get moving in the right direction?

Well, for Big 12 teams the answer is apparently by heading Southeast.

Trying to upgrade their programs, four Big 12 teams raided Southeastern Conference schools to make significant coaching hires.

Nebraska hired LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini as its coach. Texas lured defensive coordinator Will Muschamp away from Auburn and hired Alabama offensive coordinator Major Applewhite as its running backs coach and assistant head coach. Texas A&M hired Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring for the same position, and Tennessee receivers coach Trooper Taylor became co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.

The addition of the defensive coaches is especially important because Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M ranked lower than 50th nationally in total defense this past season.

In fact, 10 of the Big 12 teams ranked 45th or lower in total defense, giving the conference the look of the WAC East. In contrast, LSU's defense ranked third, Auburn's ranked sixth and Arkansas' ranked 46th.

Putting the "BS" in BCS

Here's one more reason for the folks down in Auburn to have a chip on their shoulders and demand a playoff system.

During the past five years, three Southeastern Conference teams have won the national championship. LSU in 2003 and Florida in 2006 won despite a loss. This past season, LSU won despite two losses. Auburn, which went undefeated in 2004, didn't even get a chance to play for the national championship.

Leave it us to open old wounds.

Beware the Bulls and Bulldogs

Look for USF or Georgia to emerge victorious in the 2008 national championship game, and not just because both teams are coming off successful seasons and returning the majority of their starters.

What really matters is the "Matt Factor."

Recent trends or perhaps it's karma indicate that USF quarterback Matt Grothe and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford will be the difference in winning a national title. Since 20003, three teams have won national championships with quarterbacks named Matt: LSU with Matt Mauck in 2003, USC with Matt Leinart in 2004 and LSU with Matt Flynn in 2007.

Speaking of karma

Desperately hoping for a return to glory, Nebraska fans have pointed out that Bo Pelini's first name includes the initials of the Huskers' greatest coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne.

That's "B" as in Bob and "O" as in Osborne.

OK, it's a reach. But after this past season's 5-7 debacle, Huskers fans are looking everywhere for signs that the famine is coming to an end.

They should be reminded that it took Devaney nine seasons to bring a national championship to Lincoln. Osborne needed 22. Of course, neither coach endured a losing season, either.

Rich gets richer

Michigan has announced that new coach Rich Rodriguez received a six-year contract worth $2.5 million annually, which is substantially more than the $1.7 million he reportedly earned at West Virginia.

Rodriguez reportedly receives a base salary of $300,000, with the rest coming as part of radio and TV deals and an apparel contract.

Lloyd Carr, Rodriguez's predecessor, reportedly made $1.6 million this past season.

Trivia question

Name the two BCS national champions that didn't have a player taken in the first round of the following NFL draft.

Quick hitters

  • Wake Forest defensive coordinator Dean Hood reportedly is leaving to become head coach at Division I-AA Eastern Kentucky. EKU is looking for a coach after Danny Hope resigned to become the coach-in-waiting at Purdue.

  • Safeties coach Clint Bowen is expected to be promoted to defensive coordinator at Kansas to replace Bill Young, who left last week to become defensive coordinator at Miami.

  • Wisconsin promoted two assistants last week. Dave Doeren, who served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, was named the replacement for defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, who moved to Northwestern. Also, tight ends coach Bob Bostad was named offensive line coach. He replaces Bob Palcic, who was hired as line coach at UCLA.

  • Former UCLA assistant coach Dino Babers has been named receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Baylor. Babers once was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M under former coach R.C. Slocum.

  • Darrell Wyatt has been named offensive coordinator at Southern Miss; he had been the receivers coach at Arizona. In addition, Art Kaufman will be the Golden Eagles' defensive line coach and special teams coordinator; he had been linebacker coach at Middle Tennessee State.

  • Kansas State secondary coach Greg Burns left after one season to become cornerbacks coach at Arizona State. Burns is a former USC assistant who was secondary coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006.

  • Washington State safety Xavier Hicks has been indefinitely suspended after allegedly soaking a teammates' contact lenses in rubbing alcohol. Fortunately, the teammate did not wear the contact lenses.

  • Arizona backup offensive lineman Daniel Borg has quit football to concentrate on earning his degree in computer science. Borg has a 3.75 GPA.

    Trivia answer

    Oklahoma, the 2000 national champion, did not have a first round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft, and 2002 champion Ohio State didn't have a first round selection in the 2003 draft.

    Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

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