Champs Get Good News

By Adam Caparell - February 12, 2008

Don't overlook the NCAA's ruling that LSU DE Kirston Pittman can return for a sixth year of eligibility. For all the publicity and double teams that Glenn Dorsey received last season - which he rightfully deserved - because he was able to stay healthy Pittman created the most havoc for opposing offensive lines over the course of the Tigers 14 games last year and now he will anchor the LSU defense next season.

Losing him - along with Dorsey, Craig Steltz, Ali Highsmith, Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon to name a few - would have been a tough blow for LSU coach Les Miles and his Tigers.

"The NCAA did the right thing for Kirston," Miles said in a statement released by the school. "This rule is good for college football."

But it's really good for Miles. He gets back one of his biggest cogs from last year's defense that, while not as dominating as was expected, was clearly one of the nation's best. And he's clearly the Tigers most disruptive force heading into 2008. If you go purely by stats, you could say Pittman was the Tigers best defensive player in '07, leading the team in sacks (8.0) and tackles for loss (13.5).

Now he'll be back as one of five returning starters on defense and the guy on the defensive line coming from the edge. He could have been a fourth or fifth round draft pick in April's NFL Draft, but he wanted to return to school all along, even after earning his degree. The NCAA granted Pittman one final year was because he missed all of the 2005 and 2006 seasons with foot and ankle injuries.

"Kirston is very deserving of this ruling after what he's been through as far as injuries are concerned during his LSU career," Miles said.

Coaching News & Notes: Don't overlook the move of Dan McCarney from USF to Florida where he'll be an assistant coach for Urban Meyer. A highly respected man who got a raw deal with Iowa State, losing McCarney is going to be a blow to the Bulls. He's spent over half his coaching career (30 years) as a defensive line coach and that's the role he's going to serve with the Gators. Considering the kind of job he did with USF's George Selvie this past season (14.5 sacks, 2nd in the nation), it could get ugly for some of Florida's opponents over the coming years.

Charlie Weis' decision to allow offensive coordinator Mike Haywood to call Notre Dame's plays is no big deal. Play calling wasn't the problem for the Irish last season - execution and a talent deficiency were - and now Weis feels he can better concentrate on the numerous duties that a head coach must contend with - before, during and after games. But you know that if Weis doesn't like what he sees he's going to at some point step in. He's just trying to be a good leader and the best one's always delegate.

And don't forget about Jon Tenuta's hiring at Notre Dame, either. Widely considered to be one of the best defensive minds in college football, the Irish need all the help they can get defensively. Question is whether Tenuta will be able to peacefully coexist with defensive coordinator Corwin Brown. But do expect a few more blitzes from the Irish next year.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 01:59 PM on February 12, 2008

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