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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Season of indecision

With a little less than a week left until the majority of senior prep football stars make their college choice permanent (or at least more binding than a verbal thumbs-up), the flip-flopping has begun in earnest.

Central Michigan continues to hemorrhage recruits, as players who'd earlier committed to head coach Butch Jones are switching their allegiance to Jones' new employer, Cincinnati. A local product — three-star WR prospect Montrel Robinson of Southfield-Lathrup — followed the Chippewas' top recruit, Montague QB Cody Kater, down I-75 to southern Ohio, switching their commitments to the Bearcats. CMU did add a verbal commit, getting the nod from 6-foot-6, 280-pound sleeper OT Leterrious Walton of Clinton Township Clintondale before he visits campus this weekend.

At Michigan, an apparent lack of communication with coaches led Dallas Skyline speedster Tony Drake to switch his commitment from U-M to Colorado State. A running back in high school, the 5-foot-9, 176-pounder would have likely been a slot receiver with the Wolverines, in the mold of Kelvin Grady — who has, incidentally, returned to the hardwood as practice player for John Beilein's team. Grady left the basketball team after last season, and prepared to transfer, before deciding to switch sports.

Grady isn't the only two-sport star making an appearance in the Big Ten gyms lately. After finishing his freshman season with an appearance in the Alamo Bowl, Michigan State tight end Dion Sims has begun to suit up for Tom Izzo's No. 5-ranked MSU basketball team. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Sims, who finished fourth in the Mr. Basketball voting last winter, has appeared in just one game since the start of the semester, playing one minute in a 10-point home win over Illinois, but hasn't seen the floor in the last three games, all close games to the end.

Not all the stories are so rosy in East Lansing, as the fallout continues from the season-ending brawl that initially led to the suspension of 13 players, the eventual dismissal of two, and the transfer of two more. A pair of players have been added to list of those charged — bringing the total to 15. Defensive tackle Oren Wilson and receiver Myles White both face charges of assault, brought earlier this week. Both players were immediately suspended by the program. Unlike those players charged initially, Wilson played in the Alamo Bowl, but White had already been suspended for the game for a separate incident.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More disappearances into the Bearcat-muda Triangle

There's no mistaking the weird little love-hate triangle between the football programs at Michigan State, Cincinnati and Central Michigan.

It started with Mark Dantonio leaving Cincy to coach at MSU. Spurned by MSU in its coaching search, Brian Kelly went from CMU to replace Dantonio at Cincinnati. When Kelly left Cincy for Notre Dame before the Bearcats' bowl game this year, the Cincinnati hierarchy again robbed CMU, grabbing Butch Jones as Kelly's replacement. CMU, in turn, took Dan Enos — who'd been a Dantonio assistant at Cincy, then MSU — as its new head coach.

And it hasn't stopped with just coaches.

First there was the whole tiff about Trevor Anderson's transfer from Cincy to MSU, to follow Dantonio, when Kelly showed his stubborn side, to get even with MSU.

Now defensive end Jibreel Black, a Cincinnati native, has started the triangle spinning again. He initially committed to his hometown Bearcats, then re-opened his recruitment when Kelly left to coach in South Bend. Black took a recruiting visit to MSU two weekends ago, appeared to recommit to UC, then took a visit to Ann Arbor this past weekend, giving a verbal to the Wolverines after the weekend. Since Black had initially given a verbal to Indiana, then switched to Cincinnati, and now U-M, it's fair to say it's probably not a done deal until he actually inks a National Letter of Intent on Feb. 3.

While the numbers for U-M's class went up with the addition of the three-star recruit, CMU's went down over the weekend, when one of its key commits — Montague QB Cody Kater — decided to renege on his earlier statements that he'd stick with CMU. Instead, he chose to follow Jones to Cincinnati, giving the Bearcats a verbal commitment on Sunday.

He'll hardly be the lone Michigander on the Bearcats' roster next year. After leaving CMU, Kelly kept the pipelines open to Southeast Michigan (much to the chagrin of Cincinnati-area prep coaches), nabbing players like Marine City QB Brendon Kay by continuing to work the contacts he'd made over the years as he built Grand Valley and then Central.

Last year's roster had a dozen players from Michigan on it, including a slew from suburban Detroit. Safety Aaron Webster (Birmingham Groves) was the lone returning starter on defense to start the historic season, while Southfield-Lathrup grad Chris Jurek was the starting center. A year earlier, John Goebel (Milford/Birmingham Brother Rice) led the Bearcats in rushing TDs. It's almost a given that Jones will continue to pillage Michigan to supplement to the fertile recruiting ground he now finds himself in.

Outside the drama, Michigan State also added to its strong recruiting class, nabbing three-star DT Anthony White from Fort Scott, Kan., while Western Michigan continued to add Florida players, with West Palm Beach safety Johnnie Simon.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

White does well in first interview

Blair White may have had his future all mapped out, finishing his undergraduate degree from Michigan State last spring, then gaining acceptance to Wayne State's School of Dentistry, whenever he's ready to go.

But for the former walk-on Spartan wideout, that could be much later, rather than sooner, if he keeps impressing NFL scouts.

Hot on the heels of leading MSU with a Big Ten-leading nine TDs, and in receptions (70), receiving yards (990) this fall, the Saginaw native was the only player with local ties invited to the East-West Shrine all-star game over the weekend.

"The daily schedule has been pretty intense. Many fans have the wrong impression about all-star games. They think that we have a lot of time to chill and relax, and that's simply not the case. It's a job interview. ... My approach has been pretty simple. I've been focused on going my hardest every day in practice while trying to put my best foot forward in everything that I've been asked to do," White told after Thursday's practice session.

"I have no idea how many opportunities I might have to catch the football on Saturday because there are so many different factors that I can't control. What will we see from the West defense? How will the score impact play calling? That's why I have focused on performing well in each and every practice session. I also have to make the most of the opportunities that I do get on game day to make plays."

Turns out the East team had installed the same "Throw It To Blair, Whether He's Open Or Not" play that MSU relied on so heavily this fall. White led all pass-catchers in the game with seven grabs for 93 yards in the East's come-from-behind, 13-10 win.

As far as job interviews go, it seems that White did pretty well. A good showing at the NFL Combine in late February could cement White as a middle-round draft pick, especially if he runs a 40-yard dash in the 4.55- to 4.6-second range, like BYU's Austin Collie did last year. Despite a record-setting career for the Cougars, Collie skipped his senior season, ran a 4.55 in the 40 at the Combine, and was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round. Collie caught seven passes for 123 yards and a TD in the Colts' 30-17 win in the AFC Championship game Sunday.

White has the skill-set to be the same type of player — good route runner, great hands, good strength, adequate quickness and speed to get open.

With junior linebacker Greg Jones choosing to stay at MSU for his senior season, White has the potential to be the first Spartan selected, and could possibly be the second local player drafted in what's shaping up to be one of the worst local draft classes in years. Three other draftable players — U-M's Brandon Graham and Zoltan Mesko, and CMU quarterback Dan LeFevour — will all be at this week's Senior Bowl, where they'll get their own time in front of scouts, but it's hard to project many other players with Michigan ties going in the NFL draft.

Those four players — White, Graham, Mesko and LeFevour — have all been invited to the NFL Combine, along with U-M running back Brandon Minor, MSU kicker Brett Swenson, Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller, and a pair of prospects from Division II schools in Michigan: Hillsdale OT Jared Veldheer and Wayne State RB Joique Bell. Central Michigan WR/KR Antonio Brown, an early entrant into the draft, will also likely be a mid- to late-round selection.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In-state schools rev up recruiting

It's not uncommon for two teams to come out of a single game with a huge win at this point in January.

With big-time football recruits often sitting court-side, key basketball match-ups take on double importance as the Feb. 3 signing day gets closer.

Both U-M and MSU walked off the court with huge weekend hoops wins — MSU won a first-place showdown with Illinois Saturday, while U-M got a non-conference upset by knocking off No. 15 UConn on Sunday — but the two schools' football teams didn't leave the first recruiting weekend of the year empty, either.

• Mark Dantonio and the Spartans hosted a baker's dozen recruits for the weekend, and landed a verbal commitment from three-star linebacker Justin Wilson from Western High School in Davie, Fla.

Six more of the visitors were players who had already committed to MSU, which has the 34th-ranked class so far, according to The Spartans lost out on two more of their weekend visitors — three-star Cinncinnati Wyoming DE Jibreel Black chose to stay in town, committing to the Bearcats, while Warren, Ohio, DB Mike Dorsey gave a verbal to West Virginia — MSU is still in the running for the final three players who came to East Lansing. Still uncommitted are a trio of three-star players: OL Alex Lewis, from Phoenix (offers from Air Force, Colorado, MSU and UNLV), OL Eric Franklin, of Youngstown, Ohio, Cardinal Mooney (Pitt, MSU, Purdue) and Chicago St. Rita DT Bruce Gaston Jr. (Purdue, MSU, Wisconsin).

Three more players are slated to come to East Lansing this weekend, including: Westland John Glenn ATH Jeremy Langford (already a verbal commit to MSU), Buford, Ga., DT Jerome Davis and DE Rashad Frazier of Middletown, Ohio.

• U-M had 10 players in for official visits this past weekend, and came away with a verbal commitment from Davion Rogers, a three-star linebacker from Warren (Ohio) Harding, who changed his choice Sunday from West Virginia to U-M. He joins high school teammate D.J. Williamson in the 2010 class for the Wolverines, which is ranked No. 19 by

A day later, another weekend visitor — three-star linebacker Jake Ryan of Westlake (Ohio) St. Ignatius — gave his verbal to the Wolverines.

Bigger than those two grabs — which gives U-M four incoming linebackers and 13 of 26 commits (not counting those listed as athletes) on defense — was the news that the jewel of Rich Rodriguez's recruiting class, Inkster QB Devin Gardner was set to start classes on Tuesday as an early enrollee. Along with six other early enrollees, Gardner will have a leg up on the rest of the recruiting class, giving the nation's top dual-threat QB recruit a shot to truly compete for playing time, come the fall. While that's key at a position that's been in turmoil since Rodriguez hit Ann Arbor, it's just as important for another reason. It finally puts to rest all the rumors that Gardner, who committed last April, might be wavering on his choice, after another shaky U-M season on the field in the fall.

“I start on Tuesday,” Gardner told's David Birkett after the Michigan-UConn basketball game. “I don’t know what the holdup was, but it finally got done.”

• Western Michigan was the only one of the state's other three Division I schools to land a commitment after the weekend's visits. The Broncos added three-star RB Dareyon Chance of Ft. Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons to their class (No. 95-ranked class by Rivals) of 18. Coming off a disappointing, third-place finish in the Mid-American Conference's West Division, the Broncos have continued to depend on a haul of out-state recruits. Only four of WMU's 18 commits are from Michigan, headlined by Grand Rapids Junior College OT Marcus Cann.

• Eastern Michigan's winless season in its first year under former U-M defensive coordinator Ron English hasn't done anything to help recruiting, as the Eagles only had six known commits entering the weekend, according to Rivals. EMU did get some good news Monday, when Bellwood (Ill.) Proviso West WR Julius Shelby gave the Eagles a seventh commit on Rivals' list. Line coach Kurt Anderson has been the primary recruiter for more than half the Eagles' recruits so far, the former U-M lineman drawing on his ties in Illinois to bring in four players from his home state.

• On the job as CMU's head coach for just a little over a week, Dan Enos likely hasn't had time to do anything other than select his staff and try to hold onto CMU's current class. The most important of those committed players — QB Cody Kater, who led Montague to back-to-back MHSAA Division 6 titles — has initially said he's staying put. If the three-star QB — who will be in the running to replace record-setting Dan LeFevour — does sign with CMU, it'll be a testament to the continuing work of Enos and Max Glowacki, who was retained as the Chippewas' recruiting coordinator.

CMU's most recent additions were a pair of two-star teammates from Miami Southridge, ATH Jermaine Kelson and WR Lavaughn Whigham, giving No. 23-ranked CMU a class of 19, which is ranked No. 90 by Rivals. More important to CMU, however, is the fact that 12 of those players are in-state recruits. Like Butch Jones before him, it was expected that Enos' contract would have an incentive clause that pays a bonus every year that more than 60 percent of the CMU roster is from Michigan.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Former Spartans have day in court — sort of

The nine current and former Michigan State football players charged with assault in the much-publicized November dormitory fight were scheduled to appear in court in East Lansing on Thursday.

Only Ashton Leggett, who has since transferred to Illinois State, got his time before the judge, entering a guilty plea to two charges of assault and battery. Under a plea agreement with the Ingham County prosecutor, Leggett likely won't get jail time (he could have gotten up to 93 days in jail), and will be placed in a sentencing program that would allow him to emerge without a record.

“It was a very stupid act,” The Lansing State Journal reported Leggett having said to 54B District Judge David Jordon, during a pretrial hearing, “and, as a group, we weren’t thinking. We didn’t fully understand and know that we would jeopardize our future like this.”

Read the full LSJ story here.

In Wednesday's news conference — held to announce All-American LB Greg Jones staying in school — MSU head coach Mark Dantonio let slip that the players who remained with the program were no longer barred from team facilities. That group of five players — including starting CB Chris L. Rucker, wideouts Mark Dell, Fred Smith and B.J. Cunning ham and OT J'Michael Deane — were suspended through MSU's Alamo Bowl trip.

Two others, Roderick Jenrette and Glenn Winston, were dismissed from the team, while Leggett and Jamiihr Williams chose to transfer from the program.

As disappointing as the slap on the wrist for Leggett is the fact that Dantonio continued to deal with the incident as much ado about nothing. Several times in his news conference, he chastised reporters for questions, asking them to "Keep it positive. This is supposed to be positive."

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No one's leaving Ann Arbor just yet

While some disgruntled Michigan fans might have hoped that college football coaching carousel might carry off a Wolverine coach or two, or that the recent hiring of a new AD-to-be in David Brandon might signal a housecleaning, no such luck just yet.

After Brandon gave a relatively solid endorsement to the Rich Rodriguez staff on his hiring, both Rodriguez and his longtime right-hand man, offensive coordinator Calvin Magee, have both been linked to job openings.

Magee interviewed (a fact confirmed by the Tampa Tribune) for the vacant position at South Florida, where his one-time boss, Jim Leavitt, was fired. Magee was on the initial staff at USF when it started football in 1997, but the odds-on candidate appears to be East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz, who admitted mutual interest from the school.

After Lane Kiffin's abrupt departure from Tennessee, Rodriguez himself was briefly linked to the opening as a possible target — then again, who HASN'T been? — but his agent, Mike Brown, denied the rumor when contacted by The Detroit News on Wednesday.

Unless something odd happens, it appears the RichRod era at U-M will get its third year.

There are a few arrivals to Ann Arbor, however.

The Wolverines got a head-start on preparations for the 2010 season when six commits enrolled early, and started class at the semester break. Ann Arbor wide receivers Jeremy Jackson (Huron) and Ricardo Miller (Pioneer) were among the players getting a jump-start, joined by Livonia Stevenson RB Austin White, RB Stephen Hopkins of Flower Mound, Texas; OL Christian Pace of Avon Lake, Ohio; and WR Jerald Robinson of Canton, Ohio.

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You lose some, you win some

A day after the Michigan State football coaching staff lost its ace recruiter in running backs coach Dan Enos, the Spartans called a news conference Wednesday to announce that Greg Jones will stay in school for his senior season.

Jones was the Big Ten's only first-team All-American, finishing third in the nation in tackles. The Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year apparently dipped his toe into the NFL Draft discussion, soliciting feedback on his potential draft status, and when he found out he'd likely not be a first-round pick, decided to come back to MSU for one more season.

The announcement was part of head coach Mark Dantonio's postseason wrap-up news conference. For more on the Spartans, check Thursday's edition of The Oakland Press, and check back on here for more updates.

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OLSM's Thomas available again

Committed to UCLA since July, Orchard Lake St. Mary's prospect Earnest Thomas recently withdrew his commitment to the Bruins, re-opening the recruiting process.

A three-star prospect at safety, ranked the No. 13 prospect in Michigan by — and the top-rated prospect still uncommitted — Thomas played running back and linebacker for the Eaglets, who lost to East Grand Rapids in the Division 3 state championship game. Thomas had offers from six Big Ten schools prior to his commitment.

With plenty of coaching changes in the Midwest, Thomas could find himself inundated with calls before signing day in three weeks, as teams with new coaches try to scramble to catch up in the recruiting wars.


Bajakian lands on his feet

Just hours after (officially) losing out to Michigan State running backs coach Dan Enos for the Central Michigan head coaching job, former CMU offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian landed with his former boss, Butch Jones, as the OC for Cincinnati.

Jones had previously pinched Tim Banks (co-defensive coordinator), Steve Stripling (defensive line), Phil Zacharias (tight ends/special teams), Mark Elder (running backs/recruiting coordinator), Dave Lawson (strength and conditioning) and Don Mahoney (offensive line) from his old Central Michigan staff.

UPDATE: The third finalist, Illinois defensive backs coach Curt Mallory, didn't take long to find another job, either. Mallory landed the job as Akron's defensive coordinator later on Tuesday. A former linebacker at Michigan, Mallory had spent the last five seasons as an assistant for the Illini, the last three as co-defensive coordinator with Dan Disch. Illinois hired Vic Koenning to be its new defensive coordinator last month. Mallory was one of six assistants to leave the program after a 3-9 season. Four of those were fired.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Enos is right guy, right time for CMU

It’s certainly an odd twist on the whole “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” theme.

If you take a fan vote on the most embarrassing losses in Michigan State football history, you can bet the three losses to their upstart neighbor to the north, Central Michigan, have a fair chance of finishing atop the leaderboard.

A former quarterback for the Spartans, and the last man to lead MSU to a share of a Big Ten title, Dan Enos was on the sidelines for all three.

As a graduate assistant, just a year removed from playing, Enos watched CMU leave Spartan Stadium with a 20-3 win in the 2001 home opener, then follow it up with a humiliating, 24-20 win the next year.

This year, the Chippewas came to East Lansing, and left with a last-second, 29-27 victory just hours after Enos’ boss, Mark Dantonio, was given a contract extension.


As it probably will be when Enos, the man tabbed Tuesday to take over as the head coach of CMU’s football team, leads the Chippewas against his alma mater in the “Celebrate the State” series of games, including a home-and-home the next two seasons.

“Thanks for reminding me of that day in East Lansing. That was a long day. As my wife told me last night, after we graciously accepted this offer, things happen for a reason. Maybe they needed that win, so Coach (Butch Jones) could get another job, and I could get an opportunity to come here,” Enos joked at his introductory news conference Tuesday. “I know how grouchy I was for the next four, five or six weeks after that, so if it did help, I don’t know.”

It certainly set the two teams on different paths.

While CMU went on to claim its third Mid-American Conference title in four years and its first-ever Top 25 ranking, a thrilling GMAC Bowl win giving the program it’s first-ever 12-win season, MSU limped to a controversy-ridden 6-7 finish.

And you could argue that the Spartans’ losses didn’t end with the Alamo Bowl, especially given the news this week that they’re losing their best recruiter.

Much has been made of MSU’s ability to win the in-state recruiting battles with the University of Michigan of late, and much of that credit goes to Enos. Just a position coach for the Spartans — in charge of running backs for the last three seasons — Enos’ value wasn’t necessarily in how he was coaching, but rather what players he was getting to coach.

Last year, he landed four-star backs Larry Caper and Edwin Baker (Oak Park), and four-star tight end Dion Sims (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) among others. This year, Enos helped land one of the state’s top two quarterbacks, Joe Boisture of Saline.

And THAT, my friends, is why Enos was the hire over current (or, I guess, former) CMU offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, and Illinois DBs coach Curt Mallory.
It won’t be X’s and O’s that keep CMU on top of the MAC and in the discussion as a potential BCS buster, it’ll be Dions and Joes.

Enos has proven he can deliver on February’s signing day, making his contribution every bit as valuable than input he might add to the play-calling in September.

Questions came up at Tuesday’s press conference about Enos’ resume, and why a position coach was qualified to make the jump to head coach (nevermind that Jones was the wide receivers coach at West Virginia when he was tabbed to succeed Brian Kelly at CMU three years ago), and I’m sure those questions will continue.

But it speaks volumes about Enos’ value that Spartans fans today seem more angry to lose him than CMU fans seemed happy to gain him.

He’s not a big name, but he is a salesman.

And that fit is why he fits perfectly into the “right person, right time” philosophy of hiring employed by CMU athletic director Dave Heeke — the man behind who put a stories-high billboard of Joey Harrington in New York City for a Heisman campaign, and CMU quarterback Dan LeFevour on a similarly-gargantuan billboard outside Ford Field in Detroit.

At this point, to complete the transition from Kelly to Jones to Enos, the Chippewas need another salesman, like they two they had before.

When Kelly — the snake-oil salesman — came in to Mount Pleasant in 2004, he sold a dream of what could be, in an effort to change a culture of losing. Jones came in and sold solidity and stability.

Now — if CMU wants to truly be mentioned in the same vein as the Boise States, TCUs and Utahs of the world — Enos has to sell another level of athlete on coming to what — a fact’s a fact — is not exactly the most metropolitan of areas. He’s got to continue to sell the idea to players across Southeast Michigan — as Kelly and Jones both did — that going out of state isn’t necessarily their best option, if they’re not going to end up at MSU or U-M, as well as sell Florida kids that snow isn’t scary.
He also has to sell the fans that the world isn’t going to end without the record-setting LeFevour, who is finally graduating. As Enos himself mentioned, the most successful programs in the MAC have been the ones with the best quarterback — be it Chad Pennington or Byron Leftwich, Ben Roethlisberger or Nate Davis. Problem is, most of those programs haven’t sustained it after the QB left.

Without Davis, Ball State went 2-10 last season — not a real hard thing to figure out why former coach Brady Hoke bailed before the season, making a lateral move to a job at San Diego State.

Lots of wags have insinuated that’s why Jones left CMU now, too — get out while the getting’s good.

It remains to be seen how well they’ll replace LeFevour, but least Enos doesn’t seem like he’s going to scrap what’s worked for CMU.

“We will adapt to the personnel that we’re dealing with, and build offensive and defensive schemes around who we have. We are not going to come in with our egos so big that we’re going to tell someone ‘You don’t fit our system,’ ” said Enos, promising the wide-open, exciting offense Heeke noted has become CMU’s brand. “I’m a quarterback, so I like to throw the ball. When I was at Michigan State, I had to hand it off way too much. I think that demented me for life, so as a coach, I like to throw it.”

That should sell plenty of tickets, too.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Enos it is

After a weekend of interviews, it appears Central Michigan University has settled on a new head coach: Dan Enos.

A source close to the situation told The Morning Sun's Drew Ellis that CMU AD Dave Heeke picked Enos, currently the running backs coach at Michigan State, over Illinois DBs coach Curt Mallory and current CMU offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, and will formally announce the hiring at a news conference today.

Check out Ellis' blog here.

A former Spartan quarterback (1987-90), Enos led the Spartans to back-to-back bowl victories (1989 Aloha, 1990 John Hancock), and a share of the 1990 Big Ten title — Michigan State's last championship. As a coach, the ace recruiter has helped MSU win the in-state recruiting battle with U-M the last few years.

Like the last three U-M coaches — Mike DeBord, Brian Kelly and the recently-departed Butch Jones — Enos' specialty is offense, but he's been more associated with a pro-style offense than the spread that CMU has used to win three of the last four Mid-American Conference titles.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Competition for CMU football job narrows by two

The Central Michigan University football team might end up with a bright, innovative young offensive mind as its new head coach, but apparently that coach won't be current Florida quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler.

According to The Oakland Press' sister paper, the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, sources told CMU beat writer Drew Ellis that Loeffler — who has ties all over the map in Michigan, and was the early front-runner for the job of replacing Butch Jones — won't be returning to the Great Lakes state. Loeffler's play-calling duties have increased at Florida with head coach Urban Meyer taking a hiatus, and the Gators job would likely keep him closer to his goal of returning to the NFL.

The one-time backup to Todd Collins and Scott Driesbach at the University of Michigan, before a shoulder injury cut short his playing career, Loeffler has made a career of tutoring quarterbacks since, including Tom Brady, Brian Griese and Chad Henne in his years as a grad assistant and assistant at U-M.

Loeffler spent two years (2000-01) as the quarterbacks coach for CMU, returned to U-M in the same capacity for six years, then spent the 2008 season as the Detroit Lions' QB coach. Loeffler got out of the remaining year on his contract with the Lions by returning to the college ranks.

Ellis also reported that Wake Forest offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke was no longer a candidate for the job, leaving MSU running backs coach Dan Enos, current CMU offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, Illinois defensive backs coach Curt Mallory and the latecomer, Iowa WR/TE coach Erik Campbell. The link to Ellis' blog is here.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

CMU coaching search heating up

Fresh off its thrilling GMAC Bowl win over Troy, Central Michigan University isn't done making news in the college football world.

The Chippewas, who finished 12-2 and with their first-ever AP Top 25 final ranking (No. 23), will fire up their coaching search this week. Athletic director Dave Heeke, who hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly as one of his first big moves on campus, will get down to the business of replacing Jones, who succeeded Kelly at Cincinnati.

The Oakland Press' sister paper in Mount Pleasant, The Morning Sun, is on top of the story, and we'll bring you their updates — courtesy of beat writer Drew Ellis — as they come along.

Ellis reported Friday that the search is down to five candidates, all but one of them with significant ties to in-state programs. Here is his blog post.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Stewart starts year out right

Northwestern still hasn't won a postseason football game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, despite the Wildcats making a valiant attempt in their seventh try, with a dramatic, come-from-behind effort against Auburn in the first game of 2010.

And it's certainly not because of Sidney Stewart.

The junior wide receiver from Farmington Hills Harrison had 10 catches for 97 yards for Northwestern in Friday's Outback Bowl, including an 18-yard touchdown with 1:15 left that allowed the Wildcats to send the game to overtime, tied at 35-35.

The Wildcats (8-5) lost in overtime, attempting a fake field goal to win the game, after kicker Stefan Demos was injured just plays earlier, roughed as he attempted a potentially game-tying field goal to send it into a second overtime.

Stewart had 17 career catches entering the 2009 season, and added 32 catches for 373 yards and a score in seven regular-season starts as a junior. He made almost as many big plays in Friday's bowl game alone, registering half of his catches on Northwestern's two scoring drives to tie it, including one of three fourth-down conversions on the first drive. Quarterback Mike Kafka threw 78 passes in the game, completing 47 for 533 yards — all school records — but had five interceptions.

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Legion lands at FIU

Alex Legion, the one-time Birmingham Detroit Country Day star, has settled on a college — again.

Legion confirmed to that he planned to transfer to Florida International, and play for Pistons legend Isiah Thomas, completing his exit from the University of Illinois.

"The decision to leave the University of Illinois basketball program was difficult, however, leaving University of Illinois was in the best interest of my basketball development and collegiate career,” Legion said in a statement. “I am very excited, encouraged and humbled to have the opportunity to play for and learn the professional game of basketball from coach Isiah Thomas, an NBA great and legend.”

For those of you familiar with the Legion saga — quit rolling your eyes. For those of you unfamiliar — here's a recap: This is hardly the first time the talented, yet enigmatic swingman has bailed on a program, seeking greener pastures.

The prized recruit left Country Day for Oak Hill (Va.) Academy in his senior year of high school.

He originally committed to Michigan, then rescinded the decision when U-M fired Tommy Amaker.

Illinois wasn't even his second collegiate choice. Legion played one semester at Kentucky before transferring to Illinois.

In 28 career games, the 6-foot-5 Legion has averaged just 4.2 points and 1.5 rebounds, highlighted by a career-high 15-point outburst against Michigan State last year, but saw his playing time decrease last year.

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