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      01-02-2011, 04:09 AM   #2
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Lots of questions about rule changes in today's mailbag, but first a note a question on the future of Urban Meyer.

From @CoryMcKnight: Where will Urban Meyer's next coaching job be?

My hunch is he might be the guy whenever Jim Tressel decides to step down at Ohio State, given that he is an Ohio guy and it is a very big job. To me, OSU seems a little more viable than some other potential openings. I couldn't see him coming back in a year or two to take over at Georgia, even though the Bulldogs new AD came from UF. I wouldn't think taking a job at one of UF's archrivals would feel right to him.

I doubt Notre Dame would be an option, either, but part of my thought process on that is because I suspect Brian Kelly will be entrenched there for quite a while.

Would Meyer potentially trade off with Mack Brown after a year or two in the broadcast booth? I think it'd be tempting, given all that UT has to offer. But that job, as much as any, with the possible exception of Notre Dame, requires you to do more external work than probably any other. Given Meyer's final two seasons at UF, I'd doubt he'd want to undertake that.

From @philtheduck: Can the excessive celebration penalty rule be repealed before it ruins CF next year?

I hope so, but I seriously doubt it. Unfortunately, the people most outraged by this stuff are the fans -- and the media.

I couldn't believe the K-State receiver was flagged for doing that. Every time I saw the replay of it, I shook my head. As I wrote a while back, I think the problem with this stuff comes in the distinction between taunting and celebrating (or drawing attention to yourself.) Do we want robots playing these games? Is that reasonable? It is an emotional game.

William Perlman/The Star-Ledger/US Presswire
Adrian Hilburn's salute shows how officiating is getting a little crazy.
Looking at the big-picture part of this: We spend weeks building up to these bowl games; TV and other media market the matchups and (directly or even indirectly) these players. Meanwhile, the schools make big money selling the jerseys of some of these players, as if that's not drawing attention to those players, but then the rules folks put added pressure on the referees to make these calls in the heat of the moment and expect them to operate in a vacuum.

From @caguirre91: Is Andrew Luck insane if he stays? What do you know about the starter next year if he leaves? Is he a top recruit?

It's hard to call a college guy out too much if he wants to stay in college another year, but you'd think it's going to be too tempting for Luck not to jump to the NFL after this season. His stock is soaring. Just read some of the thoughts of ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, a guy who knows about as much about quarterbacking in the NFL as anyone else on TV does:

"I've seen some of his games on TV and was very impressed, and I've looked at the (game tape) and been very impressed," said Jaworski. "But seeing him live, I'm blown away.

"He looks, acts and carries himself like an NFL quarterback. He exudes leadership. He's NFL-ready, as sound a quarterback as anyone I've seen. He throws a tight spiral, has flawless mechanics and an array of throws. I have no doubt he'll be a successful pro."

The other big factor that has to weigh into Luck's decision is that his coach Jim Harbaugh is leaving Stanford, according to Cardinal insiders. On top of that, three of his starting five O-linemen are seniors.

Determining the next man behind center for the Cardinal should be an interesting battle among sophomores Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo and freshmen Darren Daniel and Brett Nottingham, who was last season's No. 12 QB recruit in the country. And there is also the possibility that Alex Loukas, a really athletic senior who has played safety, will petition for an extra year of eligibility. One Stanford source thinks it'll be Nottingham. Another is picking Daniel. We shall see.

From @Nashville_MMA: Do you think the NCAA will add a 10 second run off rule because of last night?

I'd be surprised if the rules committee didn't look at the NFL's answer to that scenario. Honestly, I'm not sure why they didn't adopt the rule already, given that college football tends to have more disarray than the NFL. The spirit of the 10-second run-off rule seems like a good solution to a loophole of sorts.

The new ESPN The Magazine iPad app includes daily updated content and an iPad-optimized version of each issue of ESPN The Magazine.

I'm sure Derek Dooley and anyone else who watched the Music City Game would vote for it.

From @Dooleydisciple: Dooley hire one year in; does Tennessee have a guy that can return them to a top 15 program?

I'm still not sure that he is the right guy and, after his run at Louisiana Tech, it's not as if he has a proven track record of running a strong program. He didn't win there, and it's not as if that place was ripe the year after he left. That said, getting UT to a bowl game this season was a bit of a feat in itself. Most people expected 5-7 or 6-6, and the Vols finished 6-7. The down side is they had zero wins over anyone with a winning record. But Tennessee is extremely young -- and talented -- at key places. That's reason for optimism, at least. They need to do a good job of evaluating players moving forward to add to some of that talent that has come to Knoxville in the past two seasons. The talent level hasn't been where you'd think it would be at UT. That has to change.

Another key for UT is trying to maintain as much staff continuity as possible, given the mind-numbing amount of turnover there has been for those players to deal with. It's not just the three head coaches but also four strength coaches, and many of those holdover players have had to adjust to three different position coaches, as well.

From @ESPN1040JoshD: Is Coach Holtz at #USF the leader that the team has needed?

Yes, he is. Skip Holtz did an outstanding job at USF, and everyone I've talked to at USF, both coaches and administrators, raves about the guy. His staff just needs to continue to grind away and bring in more players. The Bulls will be near the top of the Big East and around the Top 25 for a long time if he stays at USF.

The NCAA needs to stop bending the rules before the system breaks, Sally Jenkins writes:

"All the NCAA is good for lately is rationalizing. It's certainly not good for promoting rules, or common sense. Prominent football players at large schools are being let off the hook, and not because they're innocent. So why? Perhaps the truth behind the NCAA's lack of enforcement is that the people who govern the sport feel guilty themselves about a system that has become so cash driven and hypocritical."

As "embarrassed" as he was by Nebraska's bowl effort against hefty underdog Washington, Bo Pelini said he expects everybody back, including embattled O-coordinator Shawn Watson, Brian Christopherson reports.

"I'm embarrassed," Huskers coach Bo Pelini said. "I obviously didn't get them ready to play. I thought we were ready to play. I liked our plan. We didn't execute very well. We obviously didn't play our best football."

Bo's general takeaway on the season? "We won 10. I wish we would have won 14. We didn't reach our goal."

What a stunning 180 this is from where people felt Pelini's Nebraska program was at this time last year after the Huskers thumped Arizona, 33-0 in the Holiday Bowl. Now, there are huge concerns about the offense moving forward and maybe some big-picture concerns, as well. The Huskers did beat No. 16 Oklahoma State and No. 6 Mizzou, but stumbled against a mediocre Texas team at home in a game in which NU was its own worst enemy. The Huskers also managed only six points in a loss at Texas A&M and lost the Big 12 title game to OU. Scoring just seven points against a Washington team that surrendered at least 40 four times this season has to have NU fans cringing.

After another dismal bowl performance, Mike Stoops promises major changes at Arizona, Ryan Finley reports.

The UA's 36-10 loss to Oklahoma State was enough to make Stoops question everything. The Cowboys exposed the Wildcats' weaknesses, bullied them with vicious hits and -- when things couldn't get any worse -- taunted them with celebrations. After the game, Stoops promised wholesale changes to a program that has stagnated over the last two years. His offseason checklist looks like this:

Complete a staff: Stoops' offseason priority is hiring a secondary coach, a position that opened when Greg Brown accepted the defensive coordinator's job at Colorado earlier this month. Stoops will be lucky if he has to replace only one coach. Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen will start as West Virginia's head coach-in-waiting this week and figures to replace most of the Mountaineers' offensive staff. Mike Leach, the favorite to replace Ralph Friedgen at Maryland, could also plunder Arizona's staff. Co-offensive coordinators Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell, and outside receivers coach David Nichol all coached under Leach -- and with Holgorsen -- at Texas Tech.

Find an offensive identity: Stoops touted the Wildcats' offensive variety all season, but the numbers didn't back it up. Arizona finished its regular season ranked 85th nationally with 135.17 rushing yards per game. With Keola Antolin knocked out of the game with a concussion, the Wildcats rushed for just 90 yards against Oklahoma State. "Obviously, our inability to run the football or identify with the run game is something that, offensively, we need to do a better job of doing more consistently," Stoops said. "If we're going to have 'big' sets, then our big players need to play big."

The Wildcats now face a dilemma: Do they continue to pay lip service to the run, even though it's not working, or do they play to their strengths -- midrange passing and an up-tempo pace? If Littrell and Bedenbaugh return next fall, will they be trusted to call the plays?

Nobody knows the Michigan State players better than Spartans strength coach Ken Mannie, John Niyo writes.

In a week where everybody is trying to connect the past to the present at the Capital One Bowl, from Nick Saban to Mark Dantonio and all the assistant coaches in between, the straightest line just might point to the guy making the impassioned speech in the middle of the Spartans' huddle before practice earlier this week. It wasn't Dantonio, the head coach. It was Mannie, the Spartans' longtime strength and conditioning coach, the guy who Saban brought to Michigan State back in 1994 and never managed to pry away after he left.

Dantonio calls Mannie "one of the masters" of his profession, and the players, though they might curse his name in the heat of August two-a-days, swear by him. "He's the epitome of a strength coach," senior tight end Charlie Gantt said. "But he also teaches you about values and discipline and about life. He's just a good man."

Urban Meyer is taking the same approach with QB John Brantley as he would with a player considering leaving early for the NFL, Jason Lieser writes.

Meyer said [Friday that] they haven't discussed it, but even if it comes up, he would not tell Brantley what to do. "First of all, he's not asked my opinion," Meyer said at an Outback Bowl press conference at the Wyndham Westshore hotel. "I'm one of those guys that opinions are not given unless asked. At the appropriate time, we probably will sit down. I'm not sure. It's like a guy asking, 'Should I stay for the NFL Draft?' You never tell a kid what to do. You have to go educate it and find out what's -- I keep hearing about the system or whatever. All that, if that's important to him, you better find out the system, whatever it is."

Brantley said Monday he remained undecided about his future. As a red-shirt junior, he can transfer to Division II or III and play immediately with no restrictions. If he wants to go to another FBS school, he needs to graduate, enroll as a grad student at a university that offers a program Florida doesn't have, get a written release from Florida and obtain a waiver from the NCAA. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli executed a similar move going from Oregon to Ole Miss this year.

NCAA rules prohibit a player transferring from the FBS to FCS unless he has multiple years of eligibility remaining.

Alabama, Auburn and USC are all battling for ESPN 150 RB Javorius Allen, Corey Long reports.

Allen plans to visit all three schools in January and make a decision right around signing day, Long writes. "I'm not sure what dates I'm going to take the visits because I might have to switch things around," Allen said. "But I'm going to check out all three and probably Florida, too."

Western Kentucky snagged a Class of 2011 commitment from 6-foot-7, 215-pound QB James Mauro of Hurst, Texas. He is ranked as the No. 67 quarterback prospect in the country.