Friday, August 28, 2009

Miami Dolphins rookie Brian Hartline impresses in start

The competition just got more interesting as rookie receiver Brian Hartline led Miami with three catches in Thursday night's game.


August 28, 2009

TAMPA -- Brian Hartline has been nothing if not persistent.


And it appears that personality trait might pay off -- big time -- for the Dolphins.

Case in point was Thursday night's preseason game in Tampa.

Hartline, a fourth-round pick out of Ohio State, got his first start in a Miami uniform and ended up making the most of it: For the game, mostly against the Buccaneers' starting group, Hartline led Miami with three catches for 79 yards.

The most telling catch, perhaps, was a 54-yarder early in the third quarter to Tampa's 6-yard line, which set up a 2-yard touchdown toss to tight end Anthony Fasano.

No doubt this is exactly the type of thing coach Tony Sparano was looking for: Another solid receiver to compliment quarterback Chad Pennington's penchant for hitting multiple targets.

If Hartline pans out, Pennington's numbers could shoot into the stratosphere.

Consider that last season Pennington completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 3,653 yards and did it by hitting 14 different receivers. Six of those guys had more than 30 catches and three -- Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess -- had more than 50.

When it was announced this week that Hartline was getting the start Thursday, Sparano was questioned as to what this meant in regards to who would start opposite Ginn.

Sparano played it rather close to the vest.

``It's still uncertain to me, we looked at [Hartline] out there in the first group last week, it's still uncertain to me right now,'' Sparano said. ``It's starting to clear up a little bit more for me, but it will take a little bit more time. . . .

``[Hartline] had a good week of practice, and, I think, I mentioned this [type of consideration] all along. I think, from my end, getting a chance to see some of these players against higher-level competition sometimes [offers better perspective]. . . . Just giving him an opportunity to go out there and see him against better people kind of evens the reps out a little bit.''

And, in the case of Thursday night, probably intensified the competition at receiver.

Behind Hartline, in those more pertinent first three quarters, no other receiver had more than one catch. And then there was this: Hartline was thrown at five times, or two more than the next receiver.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Camarillo made a significant play of his own, a 52-yard catch and run deep in Tampa territory. But Miami failed to convert the play into a score. Chad Henne was picked off a few plays later.

Miami Dolphins: Rookie receiver Brian Hartline making a splash

By Mike Berardino

August 27, 2009

Who has been the biggest rookie surprise so far from this Miami Dolphins draft? My vote is for receiver Brian Hartline, who got the start last Saturday against Carolina and could start again Thursday night at Tampa Bay.

I tweeted it at the time ( but probably not enough was made of a tremendous heads-up play by Hartline on that 23-yard TD pass from Chad Pennington to Ronnie Brown on the Dolphins' first drive against the Panthers.

Ronnie ran a circle route and Hartline, lining up in the slot, was able to pick off the linebacker (fourth year man James Anderson) covering Ronnie, which left him WIDE open on the right sideline.

"It was a man coverage, so I knew someone was up on Ronnie," Hartline told me after the game. "My idea was I really wasn’t worried about my guy (fellow Ohio State product Chris Gamble). I knew my man, wherever I went he would come with me. But I was trying to chip Ronnie's guy and free him up. It worked out. I saw [the linebacker] line up on the line of scrimmage and was able to get a pick. "

And did Brown at least say thanks?

"I told him, 'Hey, I got you a good pick,' " Hartline said. "He just laughed."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dolphins' Hartline is "a brilliant kid"

By Barry Jackson

August 26, 2009


Coach Tony Sparano said Tuesday he is uncertain who will start at receiver opposite Ted Ginn Jr. this season. Brian Hartline, Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess are the strongest candidates. The Dolphins love the rookie Hartline, who continues to work with the first team offense. ``He is a brilliant kid,'' Sparano said.

Carolina's Jeff Davidson the best up-and-coming offensive coordinator

From Football Relativity's "The best coordinators in the NFL"

August 26, 2009

Who are the best coordinators in the NFL?

Over on, we spent plenty of time and bandwidth trying to figure out which NFL team has the best combination of offensive and defensive coordinators. You can check that post out over there, but we wanted to take some of what we learned in the research for that post to create a list of some of the best and most important coordinators in the NFL in 2009.

Best up-and-coming offensive coordinator - Jeff Davidson, Carolina - Davidson isn't the kind of coordinator who gets a lot of attention for designing a multifaceted passing game that lights up the scoreboard and makes fans ooh and aah. (Think of new head coaches like Josh McDaniels or Todd Haley.) But Davidson is brutally effective in designing a running game that can work. First in Cleveland and for the last two years in Carolina, he's had teams that can run the ball effectively. His scheme fits the Panthers' personnel perfectly, and if he continues to have the kind of success calling running plays that he has had, he'll become a hot name in head-coaching hunts in a few years.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Believing in O'Brien

Tom O'Brien has more losses than wins as the head coach of NC State, yet he's managed to inspire confidence throughout the fanbase in his two years at the helm of the program.

By Austin Johnson

August 19, 2009

Tom O'Brien is 11-14 at NC State in two years and is almost universally beloved by the fan base.

In the modern landscape of college football, that's an odd combination, even for a coach that's still establishing a program. Especially at a place like NC State, which has poured so much money into facility upgrades over the last decade in order to compete at the highest level. It's hard to explain the enthusiasm for this team if you don't follow the program closely.

But it doesn't take long to see where all the optimism about O'Brien's program originates. It starts with his track record, which was nothing short of outstanding at Boston College. The 60-year-old coach took a small private school and made it a contender in the Big East and later the ACC. He won 75 games at the school before leaving, more than any other coach in the history of the program, and never won less than seven games in his last eight seasons. To top it off, he put together a string of six straight bowl wins – seven if you give him some credit for the team's bowl victory in 2006 just weeks after he left for NC State.

Of course winning in Boston doesn't do you much good if you aren't winning in Raleigh. And while O'Brien's record isn't as good as some might have hoped after two seasons, he's won the right games.

Specifically he's 2-0 against the Pack's biggest rival North Carolina. It started with a 31-27 nail-biter where the Pack jumped out to a huge lead only to fall behind late but win the game on a late touchdown run by Jamelle Eugene. But that performance was not nearly as memorable as the 2008 game to Pack fans, when O'Brien's squad walked into Chapel Hill and spanked the Heels 41-10.

“Winning all those games in state helps,” center Ted Larsen said. “As long as he keeps winning those games he's gonna be popular.”

Not only has he beaten Carolina, he's beaten up on the entire state. O'Brien is 6-1 against in-state FCS opponents, including unbeaten records versus East Carolina, UNC and Duke. His only blemish is a loss to Wake Forest in 2007. He racked up a 4-0 record against the state last year, prompting him to claim state superiority.

“We’re the best football program in the state, without question,” O'Brien said following the win over Carolina. “We are the state university and we expect to be here.”

That quote was exactly what NC State fans had been wanting to hear from a coach. It was one of the few times that O'Brien has put into words the confidence that he's demonstrated from the day he arrived. While some opponents might have seen it as boastful, it wasn't. It was a statement of fact with a record to back it up.

It's also the closest you'll probably ever see him come to bragging. O'Brien, with his military background, never seems to lose his composure or control of a situation. Cool and confident to be sure, but not cocky.

His style has earned him the respect of his players as well, even though many of them weren't recruited by O'Brien.

“I've been playing football for eight years and I've done a lot of stuff that in your mind doesn't make any sense,” Larsen said. “But everything we do with coach O'Brien, with everyone on the staff because it trickles down, everything we do is for a reason.”

O'Brien's team have improved as the season progressed, even as the injuries seemed to take some of his most talented players off the field. In his first year the team started 1-5, but finished 4-2. Last year they started 2-6 but finished 4-1. O'Brien believes this year's team should be even better and if history is any indication, a good start would mean a breakout year for the Wolfpack.

“They understand the language, they understand where they are supposed to be, and now they can go much faster,” O'Brien said at the ACC Kickoff in July. “And that's the key to winning football games, and we are getting more to that point.”

Ultimately, that's the key. O'Brien still has to win games. But its hard to look at what he's done so far and find a reason that suggests he won't turn NC State into a winner.

'Canes rallied around walk-on Chris Hayes when father died

Chris Hayes (49) is carried off the field after the Hurricanes defeated Wake Forest Oct. 25, 2008 in Coral Gables, Fla. (JC Ridley, University of Miami / October 25, 2008)

By Dave Hyde

August 16, 2009

No agents. No TV cameras. No marketing teams. Just a kid no one knew, getting in a play no one noticed, screaming atop teammates' shoulders in a moment no one else cherished, "I'm so happy!"

Every so often in an athletic world bulging with egos and millionaires you find a story that still cuts to the essence of sport.

You've never heard of Chris Hayes. There's no reason you would. In a sports world of big names and oversized headlines, he's 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds of agate type.

Four years ago, he came out of a Sarasota high school that didn't have a football program with this wild notion of walking on as a University of Miami receiver. Friends thought he was nuts. His mom said, "Don't get killed." His dad, though, beamed that his son had such big, brass ambition.

When Hayes not only survived the tryout but was one of four walk-ons to make the team, his father let loose with a celebratory string of curses over the phone — "Something he never does," Hayes said.

It didn't matter if Hayes was raw meat on the practice field the next few seasons. Didn't matter if teammates jokingly nicknamed him "Make-A-Wish" to explain his presence. Didn't matter that he never dressed in uniform for a game or made the traveling squad.

Hayes took his role seriously. He did whatever was asked. He retrieved footballs. He did computer work for coaches. Once, when the Hurricanes played a night game in Gainesville, he drove up with friends since he wasn't on the travel squad, watched the game and drove back all night to make the next morning's practice.

"The coaches don't want any excuses about missing practice," he said.

Then, one day last October, Hayes got the kind of phone call all of us fear. His father was dead. He had killed himself.

The details aren't important to this story, other than to say the son was stunned, and broken, and lost as to what to do or how to react. His father was always so full of life. Now this?

"I was a wreck," he said.

And here's the point: What happens to a player on a team's fringe when he needs help? Is the team there for him? Is anyone? Does he just drift away?

Well, Hayes got the news about his father on a Monday, the funeral was that Friday and almost every hour in between he got a call or text message from someone: a teammate. A school official. Special teams coach Joe Pannunzio. Someone.

When Pannunzio updated Randy Shannon and suggested maybe Hayes could stand on the sideline for that Saturday's game, Shannon said nothing doing.

"He's going to dress out," Shannon said.

Teammates high-fived him in the locker room when he arrived an hour before the game. Coaches patted his back. Then they went out and played Wake Forest in a game that looked like a typical college Saturday until the final play.

That's when Shannon told Pannunzio to get Hayes in the game. So while the rest of the stadium was counting down the seconds, Hayes was running into the huddle to replace the tight end — a position he'd never played — and saying a prayer to his father. His one goal: Don't screw up.

Aaron Curry, the Wake Forest linebacker who became the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft, lined up opposite him. Hayes was so numb he doesn't remember the play, only the aftermath, when someone said, "Pick him up!"

Suddenly, he was going up on teammates' shoulders. Suddenly, he was being paraded across the field. Suddenly, tears began falling, tears he'd been holding all week, surprising tears of joy for a moment his dad would appreciate above everyone else.

"I'm so happy!" Hayes began yelling up there. "I'm so happy!"

It was a Rudy moment, only better. When Hayes was set down, he sprinted to the stands where his mom stood, crying. They hugged and cried some more. And Hayes kept crying when Shannon handed over the game ball in the locker room.

See, sports isn't just about a guy who toe-taps both feet in the Super Bowl end zone or the one who swishes two free throws on national television. It's also about the Chris Hayeses out there. It took a while for him to talk about the day no one's forgotten.

"Probably the neatest thing I've been involved in in 20 years of coaching," Pannunzio said.

"I get emotional thinking of it now," Shannon said.

"I always kind of questioned, 'Why did I get put on this team?'" Hayes said. "Why did this happen? I was never going to be a player who did anything on the football field that was so great. I think that day when they were there for me, that showed me why."

As a senior this year, Make-a-Wish remains a long shot to play a down or even make the travel team. That's OK. He'll be at every practice. He'll do whatever is asked.

"There's a lot of ways you can help on a team," he said.

His one play is proof of that.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Whitner a "mentor, big brother" to teammates

Secondary Education

Chris Brown, Lead Journalist

August 21, 2009

From the time Reggie Corner first set foot in the defensive backs meeting room, he’s sat in the front row. He never wanted to miss a word from position coach George Catavolos or defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.

He also wanted to make sure he sat next to one of the more astute teammates in class. One who knows secondary play and would be willing to share tips about how to line up and play against certain opponents. Donte Whitner was that choice.

During his rookie season Corner would pepper Whitner with questions and the safety would willingly provide answers.

“You don’t really want to force things on guys if they don’t want it,” said Whitner. “Reggie from day one has asked me questions and he always sits next to me in the meeting rooms.

“He asks me questions about certain techniques and certain coverages. How he should play it. If he doesn’t see something or understand something he’ll ask me. He’s really been there the entire time.”

When Whitner would invite his teammates over to his home on Thursdays during the season last year to study film, again Corner sat in front. Both being Ohio natives, Corner and Whitner already had a common bond. Growing up an hour away from one another the two defensive backs had a lot of similar football experiences.

By season’s end last year Corner had shown solid improvement with his four pass break up day in a win over the Broncos the highlight performance of his season. It also relieved Whitner from having to play multiple roles on defense at the nickel corner and safety.

As Corner entered his first NFL offseason he asked Whitner if they could meet up and get some training in together when they were both back home in Ohio. Whitner obliged.

“This whole offseason me and Donte had an opportunity to work together,” said Corner. “I’m from Canton and he’s from Cleveland so we got a chance to link up and work together a bit. I get the best of both worlds as far as working with Donte.”

“He always made it a priority to come up to Cleveland and get with me for workouts and ask me questions about eating habits,” Whitner said. “So that’s a guy that really wants to learn and wants to be a good player in the National Football League. He’s taking steps toward doing that.”

Whitner works with well-known Ohio trainer Tim Roberts, who also trains former Bills London Fletcher and Nate Clements as well as Giants receiver Mario Manningham.

“Not only were we lifting weights, but I was telling him why we’re doing the certain things that we’re doing,” said Whitner. “And we were also talking football at the same time. Last year he was getting a little worn down at the end of the season. To sustain what you have throughout a 17 week grind you have to take days off to yourself. It’s a balance of a lot of different things.”

“We worked on footwork, explosion work,” said Corner. “We also did a lot of mental study. We’d have some talks about concepts and we’d watch a lot of film too. We did everything. You get everything when you work with him. He’s like a big brother, definitely a mentor.”

And Whitner quickly recognized the improvement in Corner’s play this past spring and now in training camp.

“He’s really picked up his game,” said Whitner. “He’s playing a lot faster and that’s why he’s able to make the plays he makes.”

Corner’s 26-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Hall of Fame game being his biggest play in the preseason so far.

“I feel the knowledge of the game came a lot quicker to me this offseason,” said Corner. “In the film room now coach is coaching me and I sit right by (Whitner) and he’s also coaching me. So I definitely feel an improvement with him working with me.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ted Ginn Jr. shines in Miami Dolphins' exhibition win over Jacksonville Jaguars


August 17, 2009

MIAMI GARDENS — The speculation during the early weeks of Dolphins training camp that Ted Ginn Jr. may be ready for a breakout year should only intensify after Monday night's exhibition opener at Land Shark Stadium.

Ginn caught two Chad Pennington passes for 26 yards, ran a reverse for another 14 and drew a 34-yard pass interference penalty in one quarter of work as the Dolphins pulled out a 12-9 decision over Jacksonville.

Ginn also had a 15-yard completion wiped out by a holding penalty, meaning the Dolphins looked to him five times in the first quarter. He combined for only 61 touches last season, less than four per game.

"He did some nice things, made a couple of nice plays," coach Tony Sparano said. "That's a good sign for me. I talk all the time about seeing guys do it in practice and being able to bring it to the game, and Teddy was able to do that today."

"I'm learning the game more and more," said Ginn, who caught 34 passes as a rookie and 56 last season. "They took some chances and threw some balls at me, and I tried to come down with every ball they threw my way."

Ginn's performance was one of the few bright spots for the Dolphins' first-team offense, which mostly struggled, totaling 65 yards on its 16 plays in its one quarter of work and mustering only a 48-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Miami Dolphins rookie Brian Hartline confident despite logjam at WR


August 13, 2009

Talk about taking the fast track to adulthood.

Dolphins rookie wide receiver Brian Hartline has crammed enough life events into four months to make the heads of most 20-something bachelors spin with a combination of fear and envy.

He decided to forgo his final year of athletic eligibility at Ohio State. He wrapped up his degree in communications. He got married. And he moved his new wife to South Florida shortly after being drafted by the Dolphins. Impressive, right?

Hartline still has plans for something more.

``I'm not a guy who puts ceiling on things,'' the fourth-round draft pick said. ``I don't want to put a limit on what could happen.''

By the time his crazy year is over, Hartline is shooting to be one of the team's starting wide receivers. More than a week into camp, he has at least shown flashes that suggest he could be in the mix.

The rookie stood out during the team's first scrimmage at the end of last week, and he has also made several nice plays during the team's regular practices.

``Obviously, the first goal coming in was to make the 53-man roster, learn from these vets and then you never know what could happen,'' Hartline said. ``But just being the competitor I am, after a couple of weeks of thinking that's the goal, I'm jumping the goal up to, `hey man, why not? I want to start. I want to be a top-three guy. Why not?' ''

For him to fulfill that goal, it's going to be a serious challenge -- something the rookie certainly realizes.

He is stuck at one of the deepest positions on Miami's roster, and it would be reasonably easy to justify any of eight receivers making a roster that can't afford to keep more than six (and possibly as few as five) pass catchers.


Although his current level of play -- and his rookie status -- almost guarantees he will stick, the concept of starting would require him to beat out, at the very least, Greg Camarillo, Ted Ginn Jr. or Davone Bess. That doesn't even include Patrick Turner.

Still, his teammates have been impressed to this point.

``He's a good dude, and he's got the right attitude,'' Camarillo said.

When Camarillo saw that Miami took two wide receivers during the NFL Draft -- adding to the six already on the roster -- he knew Hartline must have been talented. He also knew exactly what his team was trying to do.

``We knew we didn't have that much depth at that position last year, and they wanted to increase the level of competition in the receivers' work room,'' Camarillo said. ``We knew what they were doing. They were increasing the competition, and it's working.''

Despite a solid impression during the first week of practice, Hartline still has some strides to make before completely selling coach Tony Sparano on his potential as an immediate impact player.

During Wednesday's practice, for instance, Hartline had a ball stripped by a defender, which might not have been a major deal had it not been a fumble drill when the mistake occurred.

``Again, it's a part of being consistent, and it really is part of being mature,'' Sparano said. ``It's coming out here when it's hot, and, you know, maybe when you don't feel great all the time, and to be able to do it over and over again, so I was on him about that.''

But Sparano also realizes that Hartline is a mature person -- and a smart one. Those are two of the qualities that impressed the coach when he was scouted at Ohio State. But being NFL mature is different than being college mature.


Hartline knows that. He also realizes his rise to becoming a solid receiver won't be easy -- and becoming a starter for the Dolphins will be an even bigger task.

``I want to keep making strides,'' he said. ``I don't want to stop."

``You're going to hit some down points, but I'm just trying to maintain a steady pace, keeping my goals high and never really putting a ceiling on anything I do.''

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Seahawks look to Cole to bolster run defense


RENTON, Wash. -- Few positions in football get less recognition than nose tackle.

Players weighing in at well over 300 pounds take a beating and rarely show up on the stat sheets.

Still, if a nose tackle is doing his job correctly, he makes everyone around him on the defense perform better.

This offseason the Seattle Seahawks brought in 6-foot-1, 330-pound Colin Cole, who spent the last five seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

Defensive tackle Craig Terrill says it's great "to have a big guy in the middle" - a player who can "easily take on two blockers and free up linebackers and defensive ends to go make plays."

During the Seahawks' Super Bowl run in the 2005 season, they depended heavily on Marcus Tubbs to command doubleteams and free up the linebackers to flow to the football and the defensive ends to get up field and put pressure on the quarterback. Tubbs played in a career-high 13 games for Seattle and anchored a run defense that finished fifth in the NFL with only 94.4 yards per game allowed.

In 2006, Tubbs suffered an ACL tear that sidelined him most of the season, and the Seahawks' run defense faltered.

Last season, he tried to come back from micro-fracture knee surgery only to be waived during training camp for failing to pass a physical.

Without Tubbs, Seattle struggled to stop the run. The team was forced to play with an extra defender near the line of scrimmage more often and teams took advantage of the Seahawks and managed to put up 378 yards per game against the Seattle defense. The team finished 30th in the league in total yards allowed.

Terrill sees a lot of similarities between Tubbs and his new teammate Cole.

"Those big guys that can still move so fast, they're kind of a wonder," Terrill said. "To be that big, that strong and still be that agile, they're very similar. Both hard players and tough guys too."

Cole will be the anchor of a defensive line looking to return to its 2005 form.

"If you can't stop the run, you're dead in the water," Cole said. "Stopping the run is key."

The Seahawks are hoping Cole can be the player who can fill Tubbs' role.

"I think when you bring in a guy who has the size and the power that Cole does inside, it's helping in the run game," defensive line coach Dan Quinn said.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Browns have rocket-footed punter

August 10, 2009

Ten Things I Think I Think

I think these are my quick training-camp thoughts of the week:

Cleveland's Dave Zastudil punted like his foot had a rocket in it Sunday.

An Open Secret?

August 10, 2009

By Pete Thamel

Remember the so-called “secret agreement” that was the basis of Kansas State suing the former coach Ron Prince to get out of $3.2 million it owed him?

Well, it doesn’t appear like it was that big of a secret to Kansas State.

In a statement released Monday by Prince’s agent, Neil Cornrich, in response to the suit, he says that Kansas State had intimate knowledge of what it called a “secret.” Cornrich claims that agreement was actually “conceived, suggested, and drafted” by Kansas State’s attorneys and its athletic department.

An athletic department audit into Kansas State’s financial activities released a few months ago seems to back this up, as Prince was one of five athletic department employees who had an arrangement where their payment came from outside the athletic department.

Cornrich said in the statement that in the case of Prince, “KSU insisted that the additional guarantee be contained in a separate, confidential memorandum.”

That means that the agreement, which was made under the umbrella of Kansas State’s “Intercollegiate Athletic Council,” wasn’t part of the public record. So it’s embarrassing when the university suddenly has to cough up $3.2 million. Especially when it is not exactly an economic boom time in this country, never mind in rural Manhattan where Kansas State is located.

Agreements like this are not uncommon across college football. Rutgers got in hot water last year when The Star-Ledger found out that Greg Schiano was getting an extra quarter of a million dollars. Let’s not forget the money and years of work Penn State has put in to not reveal the details of Joe Paterno’s contract.

In both cases, the university ends up with some egg on its face. But it leaves the question of why universities would try to hide compensation. Will the practice only increase in this economy, as football coaches salaries escalate and members of the English department get laid off? Or will schools learn their lesson and be up front about how much money they’re paying their coaches, no matter how exorbitant the salaries and buyouts are.

K-State caught with their contractual pants down?

By John Taylor

August 10, 2009

This past May, Kansas State filed a lawsuit against Ron Prince in which it was claimed by the school that the former head coach entered into a secret agreement with the former athletic director, an agreement that entitled Prince to $3.2 million in deferred compensation.

Subsequently, an independent audit revealed that there were additional deals between four other persons connected with the university, including current head coach Bill Snyder, that were similar to the one signed by Prince.

With that in mind, CFT has obtained a copy of a release entitled "Coach Ron Prince Files "Answer and Counterclaims" to Kansas State University's "Amended Complaint." The release was written by the agency that represents Prince, NC Sports, LLC.

It appears below, in its entirety.

And, if you are a fan of the Wildcats or a current member of the administration, we strongly urge you to look away. It's does not paint a pretty or flattering picture of the institution:

The contract between Coach Ron Prince and the Intercollegiate Athletic Council of Kansas State University, Inc. ("IAC," now known as K-State Athletics) was negotiated in good faith, mutually agreed upon, and understood as legally binding when it was signed by all parties. Kansas State University ("KSU") has brought an unfair action against Coach Prince, reneging on this contract between him and IAC, even though the contract was conceived, suggested, and drafted by KSU and the IAC.

The contract between Coach Prince and KSU was drafted by the University's attorney, Jacqueline R. Butler. It guaranteed a portion of Coach Prince's contract. In determining fair compensation should the University elect to terminate Coach Prince without cause, both parties agreed that the remainder of the contract should also be guaranteed. However, KSU insisted that the additional guarantee be contained in a separate, confidential memorandum. As a result, Ms. Butler was asked to remove language from the "public" contract which had stated that it was "the entire agreement between the parties" since that was no longer going to be true. Ms. Butler removed that language from the "public" contract specifically to allow for the type of legally binding contract that was signed between IAC and Coach Prince. Coach Prince did not request such confidentiality, nor did he care whether the agreement was public, but accommodated the University's request. The signatures of Coach Prince on both documents were requested at the same time in a singular fax document and were returned at the same time; the parties both agreed to the terms, signed, and understood it was legally binding.

The use of such arrangements is not uncommon. In fact, an independent audit conducted by KSU itself has revealed arrangements for at least four other KSU individuals which appear similar to the contract signed between Coach Prince and IAC, including: Tim Weiser (former Athletic Director); Bob Cavello (former Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration and Finance); Bob Krause (former Athletic Director and Vice President for Institutional Advancement); and Bill Snyder (former and now current Head Football Coach).

In light of these compelling facts, the contract between Coach Prince and IAC is legally binding, and the legal position taken by KSU and IAC in this matter is without merit.

And boom goes the dynamite.

It was one thing for Kansas State to fire a coach who not only beat Texas two out of three years, but took over a K-State team devoid of talent due to their now-current coach leaving the Manhattan cupboard bare upon retirement.

It's another thing to attempt to withhold payment of money that Prince is legally entitled to receive, and publicly drag the three-year coach's name through the mud.

One of these days, though, maybe Kansas State will learn that you don't mess with Mother Nature... or cheat the clients of Neil Cornrich.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Miami Dolphins' rookie receiver Brian Hartline making an instant impact at camp


August 6, 2009

DAVIE — Many wondered what wide receiver Brian Hartline was thinking when he decided to leave Ohio State University a year early.

At times, Hartline was among them, although his concerns had nothing to do with his playing ability. He agonized over leaving what he called a "magical" place.

"Columbus, the nightlife, everything - it's a great place to be," he said. "It was tough to leave."

The Dolphins eased his doubts and dismissed those of the so-called experts by drafting Hartline in the fourth round in April. That was a couple of rounds higher than projected after he had only 21 catches as a junior. He has rewarded the Dolphins with an impressive first week of camp.

"He keeps amazing me every day," wide receiver Brandon London said.

Hartline entered camp hoping to have a big play each day. Tuesday, he had a leaping sideline grab over 6-foot-3 rookie cornerback Sean Smith. A day later, Hartline made a diving catch in the end zone on a Chad Henne bomb.

"That's part of camp; (coaches) say, "Make us watch you. Catch our eye,' " Hartline said. "That's the thing I'm trying to keep in mind each and every day and every play I get to the line of scrimmage - it could be that play."

His instant impact hasn't surprised coach Tony Sparano. Before the draft, he hit the road to visit campuses with General Manager Jeff Ireland and wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell.

At Ohio State, the Dolphins spent a lot of time with Hartline, who had only 90 catches in three seasons and was considered a far lesser talent than Brian Robiskie, who went to Cleveland in the second round.

Sparano and Co. watched a lot of film of Hartline's sophomore year, when he had 52 catches, 694 yards and six TDs.

His hands, quickness, versatility and football IQ sold Sparano.

"I thought he had some savviness to him," Sparano said. "We talked a lot of football with him, and it didn't take long to figure out he's a pretty smart guy."

Smart enough to know college football had run its course for him.

Ohio State, which reached the national championship game after the 2006 and '07 seasons, took a step back in 2008.

A quarterback switch from fifth-year senior Todd Boeckman to freshman Terrelle Pryor divided the locker room and changed the offense from a pro-style scheme to a spread, meaning less passing and less opportunity for Hartline.

He said he wasn't bitter, but despite the allure of campus life, he decided it was time for a change. Football aside, he had been in college for four years, had earned a degree in communications and also had a new bride.

"It wasn't like, 'I need to get out of here,' " he said. "I was ready to on with my life, keep learning, keep moving. That's all it was."

Now he is fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, competing with the likes of London, 2008 practice squad member Anthony Armstrong and fellow rookie Patrick Turner.

Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess - Miami's top receivers last year - are locks for three of the five or six spots.

"I'm thinking back to Ohio State when we're carrying 110 (players)," Hartline said. "I'm like, 'Wow.' "

But he seems to have the right mentality to stick. In college, Hartline (6-foot-2, 186 pounds) was a demon on special teams. He twice won the Jack Tatum hit-of-the-week award at Ohio State.

"He covered kicks like a madman," Buckeyes receivers coach Darrell Hazel said Thursday. "He was a fearless guy."

Hartline said he hopes to show that in Dolphins camp.

"If you're on this team, you're going to be making some plays somewhere," he said. "And I intend on doing it. That's the mind-set I have."

Friday, August 07, 2009

More With Less: Why Kirk Ferentz is the Best Coach in College Football

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 22: Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes gets ready to lead his team onto the field before the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium September 22, 2007 in Madison, Wisconsin.

by Kevin Trahan

August 7, 2009

The ESPN 150 recruiting rankings, which rank the top 150 recruits in the country, came out last week. To nobody's surprise, Iowa had no recruits on the list.

Now, that may frustrate many fans to see that their team has "underproduced" in recruiting, but it doesn't bother Iowa fans one bit. We're happy with our country strong recruits out of Small Town, Iowa and don't need a star quarterback out of Los Angeles to be happy.

I never place too much weight on recruiting rankings. All of those stats bother me because we don't really know how the recruits will actually fair in college and because talent can only take one so far. I know I need not be worried when a 60th ranking in recruiting translates to a 20th ranking in the polls that matter.

Iowa rarely has any recruits above three stars. Most of their recruits aren't even ranked. Most are kids from Iowa that nobody else wanted.

But the reason Kirk Ferentz is able to win with these players is his ability to look beyond the star rating. He has formed close relationships with many high school coaches around the state and takes their input on who they think deserves to play at the next level.

As stated so well by Rudy Ruettiger, "I wasn't always the biggest...or the quickest, but I led the team in tackles." That is exactly what Kirk Ferentz is looking for when he travels from home to home searching for recruits. He doesn't care about size, stars, or what ESPN says, he cares about work ethic, motivation, and a drive to improve.

Take Mitch King for example. At 6'3", the defensive tackle out of Burlington, Iowa was too small for other schools, but Ferentz saw his work ethic and turned him into a unanimous All-Big Ten selection.

Bob Sanders is another example. Most schools saw him as too small to play safety at the next level, but Ferentz recognized his toughness, speed, and huge hits. Sanders later went on to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and is arguably the best safety in the NFL right now.

There are many other players who weren't highly recruited, but went on to be big stars in college; Pat Angerer, Mike Humpal, Mike Kilnkenborg, Drew Tate, and Shonn Greene, just to name a few.

What is Ferentz's secret? There are two things.

First, he is an excellent motivator. He does a brilliant job getting his underrecruited players to hit the wieght room and become the best football players they can be.

Second, he finds the talent of individual players and instead of forcing the player to adapt to his scheme, he changes his scheme to showcase their strengths. This is the combination that churns out wins for Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes every year.

To explain more, Ferentz finds the strengths of his players and would rather use those strengths, than force his players to change.

Such is the case with Mitch King. Ferentz didn't worry about the lack of size, but instead, designed plays using his speed and toughness to wreak havoc in offensive backfields. He used play action with Ricky Stanzi, because it gave him more time in the pocket and helped improve his composure and maturity as the season went on.

Ferentz explained his formula perfectly in an interview with ESPN, "So you don't plug holes—you assess what it is you are, what your strengths are, and you shift towards those strengths. We could go the opposite route of what we were in some ways."

This formula is what makes Ferentz the best in the business. One could argue for Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, or even Jim Tressel to be the best coach in the country, but those coaches pay too much attention to stars.

They go for the top recruits in the country and would reject a player, such as Mitch King, in a heartbeat because they don't fit the "standard" for college football. Instead of recognizing Mitch King's speed, they would simply bench him and find someone else who fits more into their system.

These other coaches won't ever change their system, and I don't blame them. They have all the talent in the world and don't see the need to. But you never know what you're missing, if you don't try to bring out someone's strenghts. We can only wonder what Kirk Ferentz could do at Southern Cal, combining his formula with their talent.

But Ferentz is at home in Iowa, as he has told many major publications asking about a possible future in the NFL. He is satisfied turning his little known recruits into big-time college stars.

So I won't be too worried when Iowa is ranked in the 60s in recruiting in this upcoming fall. Ferentz will find a way to turn a small town Iowa farmer who nobody else wanted into a star, not because he changed the player, but because the player shaped his team.

Donte Whitner Reaches Out to Community

Daggs knows Donte

By Andy Major, Executive Director of Marketing

August 4, 2009

Michael Daggs, Rochester, NY, is the winner of the Verizon Wireless 'So You Think You Know Donte' online game that ran through the month of June and half of July.

As part of the grand prize Daggs, along with his five-year old son, met Donte Whitner and spent some time with him after practice at training camp at St. John Fisher College. Daggs also received Marshawn Lynch's autograph and watched practice as a true VIP.

The favorite part of the day for Daggs was seeing his son meet Donte. “It was completely unreal. Plus it was one of the nicest days of summer, and I couldn't ask for anything more,” said Daggs. “My son talked about it all the way home.”

Donte, who has a three-year old son, and Michael swapped stories about their sons and shared some experiences with raising a young boy.

Daggs had fun playing the online game and even more fun being the grand prize winner. “It was a great day!” exclaimed Daggs.

“This season’s 'So You Think You Know Donte' game received a lot of positive feedback from fans,” said Marquett Smith, the president of Verizon Wireless's Upstate New York region. “Verizon Wireless wants Bills fans to have fun, test their knowledge about the Bills and win a host of cool Bills prizes. We appreciate the support of the Bills in helping give Verizon Wireless customers and Bills fans the opportunity to have some fun at the team's site several times a year.”

The Verizon Wireless online contest was a series of fun and interactive questions that fans answered about Bills safety Donte Whitner. The fans that got the majority of the questions right were entered into a random drawing. Daggs was selected among thousands of entries that participated.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kampman gearing up to join linebacker crew

July 26, 2009

By Pete Dougherty

Aaron Kampman used hard work and underappreciated talent to become one of the most complete defensive ends in the NFL.

Now at age 29 he’s making a notable position change from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker, and in the next few months he and the Green Bay Packers will find out whether he’ll be the same ultra-productive player in his new role, or whether they’re trying fit the proverbial square peg into a round hole.

The Packers have done and said everything they can to convince Kampman the change will be good for him, and he’s attacked the job with his usual professionalism. But Kampman, while never publicly expressing any concerns, nevertheless showed great reluctance to talk about the move this offseason, which gave off a strong vibe that he was less than thrilled moving out of a role where he’d become one of the better players in the league.

“I read this, but I don’t sense that from Aaron,” said Dom Capers, the new defensive coordinator who will orchestrate the change to the 3-4. “I haven’t sensed (discomfort with the move) at all since I’ve been here. I spoke with him probably three or four days after I was here. He was wanting to know what all he had to do and what weight (he should be), just like you’d anticipate out of Aaron. I said, ‘You don’t have to lose a pound, you just get yourself in good shape where you can move around.”

Considering Kampman has been to two Pro Bowls and has 37 sacks over the past three years, it’s hard to blame him for any trepidation. He’s one of the Packers’ most important players and, like receiver Donald Driver, is worth more to them than what he does on the field because of the professional example he sets daily for young teammates. But Kampman is in the last year of his contract, and if he’s not the same player in 2009, he’ll have major incentive next year to go to a defense that plays the 4-3.

In informal conversations this offseason, a handful of NFL scouts were split on how Kampman will play in the new scheme, where he’ll have more responsibility in pass coverage after previously dropping only on the rare zone blitz. The Packers point to defensive ends such as Greg Ellis in Dallas and Mike Vrabel with New England as 4-3 defensive ends who didn’t look like good fits in the 3-4 but successfully made the transition.

This offseason, the Packers listed the 6-foot-4 Kampman at 260 pounds, which is about five pounds lighter than his playing weight last year. Besides conditioning and agility workouts, he also worked full time in the offseason training program with new outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene.

In offseason practices open to the media, Kampman not surprisingly looked a little on the stiff side when he dropped into coverage, but as the offseason went on, he occasionally showed some of the same instincts he displayed as a defensive end. On one noteworthy play at the Packers’ final minicamp in late June, he dropped into a middle zone, leaped and tipped a pass by quarterback Aaron Rodgers intended for Driver.

“He spent hour after hour with Kevin individually,” Capers said. “He’s done all those things that you’d ask any player to do. You can see why he’s been a good player, because he takes his profession very seriously.

“Like anybody, we’ve been conditioned to do a certain thing and all of a sudden you change that, there’s a certain amount of uncertainty. As we go along, he’ll become much more certain in those areas, (but) he might be reluctant to talk about it until he feels comfortable that he’s gotten some things down that he can talk about. I can’t speak for Aaron, but from my perspective, he’s been exactly what you want.”

Capers has emphasized all offseason that he can adjust the scheme and his calls to his personnel, and that he will mix in the 4-3 if needed in this season of defensive transition. McCarthy fired most of his previous defensive staff and switched to the 3-4 mainly to improve a weak pass rush that last season finished No. 25 in the NFL in sacks percentage. But while Capers might be able to coax more pressure on the quarterback with his varied blitz packages, he’ll also need to get the most out of Kampman, who was the team’s only pass-rush threat last season.

In making the transition, the Packers consider Kampman a better athlete than Ellis and Vrabel. Ellis, who was listed at 262 pounds when he made the change in 2003, averaged 8.2 sacks in his five seasons as an outside linebacker with the Cowboys, including getting a career-high 12½ sacks and a Pro Bowl appearance in 2007. Vrabel, who played defensive end in college at Ohio State but at 271 pounds moved to outside linebacker as a rookie with Pittsburgh, became a starter with New England in 2001 and had a career-high 12½ sacks in ’07.

Capers succeeded in similar first-year transitions with two other defensive ends, Tony Brackens in Jacksonville and Jason Taylor in Miami, though they are different-type players than Kampman. In 1999, Brackens, who was 6-4 and 267, had 12 sacks, which topped his previous high of seven; in 2006, Taylor, who was an elite defensive end but also had a prototype 3-4 build at 6-6 and 255, had 13 ½ sacks and was named NFL defensive player of the year at age 32.

“(Kampman) seems comfortable out there in space in the things we are asking him to do,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think he is a much better athlete than people give him credit, making the change as you can say from defensive end to outside linebacker. I expect Aaron to be very, very productive in this defense.”

For another former defensive end, the change to 3-4 outside linebacker already appears to have been a boon. Jeremy Thompson (6-4, 260), a fourth-round draft pick from 2008, goes into training camp with an edge over first-round draft pick Clay Matthews for the starting job at right outside linebacker. Thompson (6-4, 260) opened the offseason at that position and played well enough to stay ahead of Matthews through the final minicamp.

Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk will be the starting inside linebackers in a scheme that’s designed to free them to make most of the tackles in the inside run game.

When camp opens Saturday, Barnett will be eight months removed from reconstruction surgery on his right knee but has been optimistic about his rehabilitation all offseason.

Hawk is entering something of a make-or-break fourth season in the NFL. He’s not been close to the impact player the Packers projected for the No. 5 pick overall in the 2006 draft and regressed last season while playing through chest and groin injuries. McCarthy has said the injuries were more of a hindrance than Hawk let on last season, and the Packers are looking for him to be a more dynamic and physical player in the new scheme than he was his first three years. If Hawk isn’t much improved, backup Brandon Chillar is coming off a solid offseason and could overtake him.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Donte Whitner thinking pink this season

Bills safety Donte Whitner will be using a pink mouthpiece all season.
James P. McCoy / Buffalo News

Reported by: Chuck Wade

July 29, 2009

If you take a close look at Donte Whitner on the practice fields at St. John Fisher, you may notice something that seems a little out of place. Don't worry, everything is fine.

That pink mouthpiece that you see Whitner wearing symbolizes something quite special to the Bills safety. "It's pink. My grandmother died from cancer in March. I wear that to signify my love for her, my support to everybody that's dealing with, or has a loved one that's died from cancer, so I'll continue to wear throughout the football season."

It's also Whitner's way of saying thank you to one of the people who helped guide his path all the way to the Buffalo Bills . "She was a second mom to me. I didn't have a dad growing up, it was my mom and grandmother growing up, and I continue to wear that mouthpiece."

Monday, August 03, 2009

Katzenmoyer camp big on teaching, fundamentals


July 27, 2009

Offset against a dark, rainy sky, Andy Katzenmoyer still cuts an imposing figure.

But it's not Missouri quarterback Corby Jones the big linebacker is stalking while heading toward the sideline on this day, but a group of campers to instruct at his first annual Youth Football Camp at Westerville South High School Wednesday, July 22.

The hit against Jones, which can still be viewed on YouTube, isn't something any of the campers age 7-14 saw or remember seeing live, but that didn't dampen the message the Big Kat was delivering, nor the kids' eagerness to soak it in.

"It's very exciting," Katzenmoyer said of the camp. "We've had a really good turnout for the first year, around 75 kids. Really good coaches have come in, and so far, it's gone really well. The kids have learned a lot and they're having fun."

Former Ohio State University players James Cotton, Fred Pagac and Derek Ross were on hand to help coach the defense, while Greg Frey and Dee Miller helped with the offense.

"We really wanted to come in and give them, first of all, the expertise in coaching that these guys have gotten at the college level and professional level," Katzenmoyer said. "(We wanted) to teach fundamentals. Because the age range is 7-14, some of the kids have no experience, and some of the kids have a lot of experience.

"You always need fundamentals, whether you're a 7-year-old or a 27-year-old playing in the pros. We really harped on the fundamentals of the game -- footwork, technique, hand placement, where you drop step as a quarterback -- every little thing that will make them better."

Hugo Quint, the DeSales strength and conditioning coach, and Katzenmoyer's father-in-law, spoke to the campers, as did South football coach Rocky Pentello.

Katzenmoyer has been involved with the South program by lending a hand to Pentello over the years as a coach, something he's done well with. But how can a player who seemed so instinctual on the field impart wisdom to young players?

"I've always been a student of the game," he explained. "Granted, instincts play a factor in some players' abilities, but when it comes down to it, you have to know situations, down and distance, formations and the defense you're in.

"(You have to) compute that all in your head before the play actually happens. Then you eliminate 80 percent of plays just by those things.

"I just try to make it fun and easy for the kids. You don't have to make it rocket science, but I try to convey an idea and a thought that, no matter what, they can take with them."

Cotton, who laid a similar de-cleating hit on Jones the season after Katzenmoyer's, has been involved with raising cancer awareness through OSU since leaving professional football a few years ago.

"It's been really exciting catching up with Andy," Cotton said. "I hadn't talked to him probably since we played and I'd only seen him in passing. To see him put this camp together and get some kids out there (was good), and we had some guys come out to speak to the kids about some life skills, and I talked to them about the effect of tobacco.

"It's been really great for the kids to be here and get that tutelage from Andy and some of the other people who came out."

Katzenmoyer, who currently co-owns LIFT Personal Training and is launching Katzenmoyer Consulting, which will help "high school and college-level football programs realize their full potential," reflected on his playing days at Ohio State after spending time with some of this former teammates during the camp.

"It makes me go back and it's not a life I live anymore," he said. "We can reflect and look back and see what we're doing now, and the irony is, the guys who were successful in that point in time are successful now, whether it be in football or out of football, whatever it is in life.

"It's fun to catch up, reminisce and talk about the good old days."

"I've always been a student of the game. Granted, instincts play a factor in some players' abilities, but when it comes down to it, you have to know situations, down and distance, formations and the defense you're in."

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