Oklahoma's horrific defensive performance in the Orange Bowl against USC didn't dissuade new LSU head coach Les Miles from tapping Sooners co-defensive coordinator Bo Pelini to take over the Tigers' D next season.
Pelini, who shared authority with Brent Venables in Norman, has big shoes to fill as he takes sole control of the defense at LSU. Under former head coach Nick Saban and coordinator Will Muschamp, who followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins, LSU has finished in the top three nationally in total defense each of the past two seasons. Pelini has worked his magic before, though, improving Nebraska's defense from 55th to 11th in '03, his one season there before going to Oklahoma.
Before beginning his recent tour of college football powerhouses, Pelini spent nine years as an assistant with the Green Bay Packers, and it's believed to be only a matter of time before he becomes a college head coach. He was a finalist for the Pittsburgh job that went to Dave Wannstedt and was also linked to the opening at Syracuse.
Miles, meanwhile, now enters his first season in Baton Rouge with two experienced coordinators, having previously retained Saban's offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher.
Last spring, Tennessee's quarterback prospects couldn't have looked more bleak. Its only scholarship returnees were lost-cause C.J. Leak and the lightly regarded Rick Clausen, neither of whom distinguished themselves over the course of spring practices.
A year later, the Vols have the exact opposite problem: Too many good QBs. Both Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer shined as true freshmen before suffering late-season injuries. When they did, Clausen stepped in, and -- after four up-and-down performances -- shredded Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. And if that's not enough, U.S. Army All-American Jonathan Crompton, the nation's third-highest quarterback prospect according to Scout.com, will join the mix this fall.
Something's got to give.
The rumor since early last season, when it became apparent that Ainge had solidified himself as the starter, has been that Schaeffer will eventually be the odd man out. A gifted athlete whose penchant for improvisation doesn't necessarily fit with Tennessee's largely conservative offense, the Daytona Beach, Fla., native is too talented to remain part of a two-QB system for three years. According to The Tennesseean, Schaeffer told a Florida recruiting analyst last month he would wait until after spring practices before deciding whether to transfer.
In an apparent effort to shake up his team's stagnant offense (No. 93 nationally last season), Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez has hired away Oregon State offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, a UW alum and former tight ends coach in Madison, to become the Badgers' co-offensive coordinator. Brian White has held the position since '99, but according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Chryst will have final say on play-calling. ... For the second straight year, Auburn's schedule strength will take a hit because one of its scheduled opponents opted out of a contract. This season it's I-AA Western Kentucky taking the place of Southern Miss. ... Iowa State WR Todd Blythe, a breakout star for the Cyclones last year as a freshman, tore his ACL during individual workouts last week and will miss spring practice. He could be recovered by the start of the season.