With the help of players, coaches, TV analysts, school administrators and NCAA officials, AP College Football Writer Ralph Russo tackles on-and off-field issues affecting the sport throughout the year. The show gives everyone from the casual fan to the obsessed alum, an insider look into the AP Poll and all that is trending on campuses around the country. Be ready for the big game, signing day or spring practice with this weekly chat about college football.
Are great college football players born or made? AP college football writer Ralph Russo and Barton Simmons, recruiting director at 247 Sports, dive into the debate over how much football programs mold their players into NFL-ready stars, and how much talent rises, regardless of coaching.
Florida State coach Willie Taggart sits down for an interview with AP’s Ralph Russo. Taggart talks about rebuilding a broken program at Florida State the way he did at previous stops. And why he believes the Seminoles are on track for a turnaround.
UConn is heading back to the Big East, leaving the American Athletic Conference in a move made to prioritize basketball over football. The Huskies are likely heading for football independence. Neill Ostrout, longtime UConn beat writer from the Journal Inquirer of Manchester, joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss how UConn got to where it is and the ramifications of the move. Huskies football has been run into a ditch, but more damaging to the school is it seems the conference and its failures in football were also hurting a men’s basketball program that has won four national titles. UConn will try to recapture its old hoops glory by aligning itself with some familiar rivals.
Almost every college football conversation eventually devolves into someone exclaiming: “Y’all ain’t played nobody,” or something similar. Steven Godfrey, the national college football writer from SB Nation and host of “Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody” joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss why too much energy is spent on strength of schedule discussions _ and why it’s probably not ever going to change. Plus, what would happen if Alabama and Clemson had played 10 times last year, and why it doesn’t matter. Also, the importance of making college football a national sport. And is Georgia winning a national title inevitable?
The latest College Football Hall of Fame ballot of 76 major-college candidates is out and it’s impossible to whittle down the list for the class of 2020. It includes Heisman Trophy winners Eric Crouch and Carson Palmer, Miami stars Jerome Brown and Ray Lewis and dozens of other former stars who would be hall of fame worthy. AP Top 25 voter Matt Brown of The Athletic joins AP’s Ralph Russo take on the task and putting together next year’s class of hall of famers. They also discuss why Eric Dickerson has yet to be inducted. Plus, a quick look at The Athletic’s 150 years of college football series.
Former Baylor coach Art Briles, fired amid a scandal at the school three years ago, has landed a job at a mid-sized East Texas High School. The news surprised many who assumed the results of an investigation into the improper handling of sexual assault allegations at Baylor would tarnish Briles beyond repair.
Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News joins AP’s Ralph Russo to try to explain why the Mount Vernon Independent School District hired Briles and if leadership there can ride out the criticism.
Plus, Carlton gives an update from the uncharacteristically quiet Big 12 meetings, the latest on the comings and goings of Bru McCoy at Texas and who is No. 3 in the Big 12.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to a Big Ten West championship last season and a bowl victory against Utah. This season he replaces a four-year starting quarterback with a former five-star recruit and Clemson transfer as Northwestern tries to maintain a remarkable level of success and consistency.
Fitzgerald joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk transfer rules, compensating players and how he handles it when NFL teams come calling.
Two things are safe to say about the future of the College Football Playoff: Someday it will expand to include more than four teams. That expansion is unlikely to happen soon.
ESPN playoff reporter Heather Dinich joins AP’s Ralph Russo this week for an all playoff talk edition of the AP Top 25 College Football Podcast. They discuss why we are not on a fast track to expansion and what hurdles need to be cleared to get there. And what would be the best expand playoff formats and what would have to change to improve the way college football crowns a national champion.
There are 27 first-year coaches in FBS this season. Who is most likely to succeed? Who is least likely? AP’s Ralph Russo ranks the new coaches from 1 to 27 based on who is best positioned for long-term success. Recurring guest Paul Myerberg of USA Today joins the show to debate and breakdown Russo’s rankings. Plus, Myerberg has his rankings of the 10 new coaches most likely to have a successful first season. We also spoil Avengers: Endgame in the final minutes. You have been warned.
It's College Football Meeting Time. This week, AP college football writer Ralph Russo sits down with his colleagues Nicole Auerbach and Max Olson of The Athletic while covering the meetings of the top college football conferences. They chew over the stunning selection of Duke's Daniel Jones over Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the NFL draft, and consider the rationale behind and effects of top-dollar contracts for top-level coaches.
New Miami coach Manny Diaz grew up in south Florida when the Hurricanes were king. Now the son of the former mayor is the 'Canes head coach. He hopes his connection to the program and community can help bring Miami championships again. Diaz joins AP's Ralph Russo for an interview that ranges from his Miami roots to working the transfer portal.
Stepping into a new job is always challenging, but what new coaches have the toughest tasks ahead of them in college football? Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports and The Athletic joins the AP's Ralph D. Russo to talk dirty jobs and heavy liftiong. Nobody seems to have his work cut out for him more than Scott Satterfield at Louisville. Mike Locksley at Maryland is also walking into a tricky situation. Bruce and Ralph also discuss which new coaches at Group of Five schools could be the next rising stars and what first-year starting quarterbacks could be ready to break out the way Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa did last year. Plus a little Tiger Woods talk.
With the college football championships out of the way, it's time to turn back to football. Bill Bender of The Sporting News joins the AP's Ralph Russo to talk about the first look at quarterback Justin Fields, playing for Ryan Day's Ohio State program. Plus is this finally Jim Harbaugh's year to beat the Buckeyes? And which of 2018's surprise teams _ Washington State, Syracuse, Missouri _ can build on their successes, and which will regress? Also, Nick Saban's so-called rant about players leaving early.
Oklahoma’s latest transfer quarterback held his first news conference and he sounded a lot like his old coach. Jalen Hurts has a new home in Norman, but George Schroeder of USA Today says the former Alabama quarterback definitely sounds like a product of Nick Saban’s machine. Schroeder joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk Hurts, the growing gap between the American Athletic Conference and the other Group of Five conferences and why the SEC made a concerted effort to get better in basketball. Plus, which SEC coach is a better long-term stock: Chad Morris of Arkansas or Jeremy Pruitt of Tennessee?
Miami got good news last week when it found out transfer quarterback Tate Martell would be eligible to play this season for the Hurricanes. At least it seemed like good news. Paul Myerberg of USA Today joins the AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss what to make of Martell, a former blue-chip recruit who played sparingly at Ohio State. Who knows how good Martell will be, but he has to be an improvement for Miami. Right? Myerberg talks spring storylines from Virginia to Texas to the state of college football in Los Angeles. Plus, Jeff Brohm or P.J. Fleck? Who ya got?
How will Notre Dame follow-up its first College Football Playoff appearance? What are the odds both Alabama and Clemson have unbeaten regular seasons? Sure, the NCAA basketball tournament is about to start, but spring football is in full bloom. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg joins AP’s Ralph Russo to look toward possible overachievers and underachievers for the 2019 season. How will second-year coaches Scott Frost, Willie Taggart and Chip Kelly do after losing debuts? And what quarterback competitions need to be sorted out this spring?
It’s the college basketball edition of the AP Top 25 College Football Podcast. AP national basketball writer Aaron Beard joins Ralph Russo to preview selection Sunday and sort through who the top seeds might be in the NCAA Tournament. What does Duke have to do to gain a No. 1 seed, and where should the committee place the Blue Devils if star Zion Williamson can’t show that he is healthy at the ACC Tournament? Plus, which schools outside the big contenders look capable of making a long run in the NCAA and should the committee put more mid-major teams in over Power conference squads with mediocre records?
The NFL combine is over and the most important thing we found out was Kyler Murray is not that short. Dan Brugler, NFL Draft analyst for The Athletic, joins Ralph Russo to discuss which players helped themselves at the combine and whose stock might have dropped. Plus, how is combine evaluation changing now that intense training and preparation for it is so common? The athletes seem better than ever. Does that mean the scouts need to adjust their expectations? Brugler discuss avoiding group think and some of his favorite under-the-radar prospects.
A decision is expected soon in a court case that could bring dramatic changes to the NCAA. Dennis Dodd of CBS joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss the so-called Alston Case, which challenges the NCAA’s rule against compensating football and basketball players beyond a scholarship. Dodd explains what’s at stake and how schools have been quietly preparing for a decision that goes against the NCAA. If so, rules on player compensation could fall to the conferences. Is it the end of college sports or just a continuation of a trend?
Stanford coach David Shaw is one of the college football’s most insightful coaches, with well-thought out opinions on big-picture topics. He also is about to begin a three-year term as chairman of the NCAA football rules committee. Shaw joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss why he thinks the targeting rule needs to be changed, and how. And tweaking overtime rules to lessen the chances of marathon games. Plus, why he believes the transfer portal could be hurting more athletes than it helps. Shaw also shares some insight on the increasing number of players leaving school early for the NFL and why even great college players might not be ready to compete for a job.
It’s the middle of winter, so what better time to start gazing toward the 2019 college football season? Bill Connelly of SB Nation joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss the first edition of his S&P+ rankings. Connelly’s numbers combine returning production, recent recruiting rankings and recent performance. No surprise, Alabama is No. 1. In fact, the numbers love the SEC. They are not so high in Texas. Here is a huge gap between Clemson and the rest of the ACC and a potentially intriguing Big 10 West race. What are the prospects for a resurgent Pac-12? Plus, where is UCF coming into this season? Connelly and Russo also slide into a discussion about the value of going for it on fourth down and why Jimbo Fisher really needs to get with the program.
The NCAA recently dropped a hammer on two high-profile basketball players and Missouri. What followed was outrage from all parts about the punishment and complaints about how NCAA enforcement goes about its business. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss a wave of NCAA issues and whether there is any way college sports’ governing body can regain the confidence of its members. And why everybody wants to crack down on cheaters, but then complains when they get caught cheating. Also, Forde and Russo discuss Southern Mississippi’s interest in former Baylor coach Art Briles.
The second and final signing period begins Feb. 6, but most of the recruiting for this year has already been done. The early signing period in December has become THE signing period. Alabama has already locked up the number one class and about 80 percent of available scholarships have been handed out. Barton Simmons, scouting director of 247 Sports, joins AP’s Ralph Russo to preview what’s left for teams to do on signing day. Simmons also discusses how the new transfer rules and early signing period are intersecting. Also, he gives a glimpse of the recruiting story lines already developing for 2020.
College Football turns 150 years old in 2019 and ESPN is preparing a yearlong project to commemorate the birthday and tell the story of the sport. Longtime college football writer Ivan Maisel joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk about the project and the challenges of telling such a wide-ranging story. Maisel is overseeing the television content _ and there will be 35 hours of it _ along with writing stories and producing podcasts. For a college football fan, it figures to be must-see TV, and Ivan is always a must-read writer. He is even teaching a class at Stanford this semester on the history of college football.
Kyler Murray has declared for the NFL draft. Whether he will give up baseball for professional football is still to be determined, but ESPN’s Tom Luginbill believes Murray has all the skills necessary to be one of the top quarterback prospects in the upcoming NFL draft. Luginbill joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk about Murray, the aftermath of a championship loss by Alabama, the transfer portal and a little recruiting with signing day a few weeks away.
The 2018 season is a wrap. Clemson is the champion after a unprecedented beat down of Alabama. The final AP Top 25 college football podcast of the season takes a look at what went right for the Tigers; what went wrong for the Tide; and where college football’s superpowers go from here. The USA Today college sports crew of Dan Wolken, Paul Myerberg and George Schroeder join AP’s Ralph Russo for a roundtable that puts a bow on 2018 and looks toward the story lines for 2019.
Cole Cubelic of the SEC Network joins AP’s Ralph Russo to break down the College Football Playoff national championship game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson. Paul Myerberg also joins the show to talk winners and losers from bowl season. It was a good month for the Big 12 and not so great for Jim Harbaugh. Will Urban Meyer coach again? Can Notre Dame do better than Brian Kelly?
No. 1 Alabama plays No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and No. 2 Clemson faces No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Steve Palazzolo from Pro Football Focus joins AP’s Ralph Russo to do a deep dive on the semifinals. Does OU have any chance to stop Alabama’s offense? Why playing like a Big 12 team might be Bama’s best strategy. What’s the best way for the Tide to contain Kyler Murray? Can Notre Dame hold up against Clemson’s talented defensive front? Where are the Tigers susceptible on defense and how can the Irish and Ian Book exploit them? Where does Trevor Lawrence rank among recent freshman quarterbacks? Plus, a little NFL draft talk.
The transfer season is about pick up steam as Georgia’s Justin Fields, a former five-star quarterback recruit, seeks to move on _ and maybe play immediately for a new school. USA Today’s Dan Wolken, who broke the news about Fields, joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss Fields, transfer rules and waivers and why the NCAA seems to be subtly acquiescing on players sitting out after switching schools. Plus, a grab-bag of December topics from playoff expansion to players skipping bowls to the coaching carousel.
The early signing period debuted in college football last year and it quickly became the main signing period. Most prospects signed their national letters of intent and most schools had their classes all but complete in December. With the early signing period beginning on Dec. 19, Mike Farrell, the national recruiting director from Rivals, joins AP’s Ralph Russo to survey the landscape. How have coaches and prospects adjusted to the new date? What teams are set to clean up? What highly touted prospects figure to wrap up their recruitment in December? Which ones will wait until February?
It is bowl season in college football. There will be 39 games played from Dec. 15 to Jan. 1, including the College Football Playoff. AP poll voter Matt Brown from the Athletic join Ralph Russo to preview all the non-playoff games, pick winners and let you know which is the best game on each day of bowl season. From the Boca Raton with Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette to the Sugar Bowl between Texas and Georgia, we hit on them all.
The great debate in college football is Oklahoma or Ohio State? Which school is best positioned to take the fourth College Football Playoff spot heading into championship weekend? Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk Buckeyes, Sooners and playoff scenarios. Also, the coaching carousel is spinning faster and already has a surprise. Mack Brown is back at North Carolina. What should we make of Kansas and North Carolina hiring 60-something coaches?
The College Football Playoff rankings have been stagnant for a couple weeks. Some shakeups are possible on rivalry weekend, but what results will cause the selection committee the biggest headaches and toughest choices? ESPN’s Heather Dinich, who covers the playoff 24/7, thinks Ohio State beating Michigan could muddle things for the committee. She joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk playoff possibilities and what could lead to expansion.
No. 11 UCF is getting the big stage this weekend with ESPN’s “College GameDay” visiting the Orlando, Florida, campus and the Knights' game against No. 19 Cincinnati being broadcast nationally in prime time. Matt Murschel, the national college football writer for the Orlando Sentinel, joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss UCF’s big day, whether fans will be welcoming of ESPN’s “GameDay” crew and how this Knights team stacks up to last year’s undefeated bunch.
Also, a whip around the Sunshine state where Florida State and Miami have tanked, Florida is having a solid start to Dan Mullen’s tenure as coach and the Lane Train has slowed at FAU. Plus, some playoff talk.
A college football Saturday is the ultimate multi-screen experience. Veteran sports writer John Walters writes a weekly column for the Athletic, capturing the best and worst of the small screen. He joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk about ESPN’s “GameDay,” why Twitter goes so well with college football, and who is the voice of the game?
Plus, Notre Dame’s playoff hopes and John’s crazy plan for massive conference realignment and playoff expansion.
College football's first playoff rankings of the season come out, on the eve of a weekend that could turn the whole playoff picture upside down. AP college football writer Ralph Russo talks to Dennis Dodd of CBS about who's in and who's out, and how long the whole playoff edifice lasts in its current form. Then Gary Danielson, also of CBS, does a deep dive into the big game of the weekend: Alabama-LSU.
As the college football season approaches November, it's time to start assessing which teams could be making a coaching change. Conventional wisdom suggests it could be a slow silly season after so much turnover the last two years. Dan Wolken of USA Today joins AP's Ralph Russo to discuss who is on the hot seat. It looks like much of the action could be in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and be determined by who can afford to fire their coach. Plus, what's up with Urban Meyer and Ohio State and where could the College Football Playoff race get weird?
Former Notre Dame offensive lineman Aaron Taylor, now an analyst with CBS Sports, joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk about what teams are getting the best play out of their O-lines this season. What are the attributes of a good offensive line and why are the best ones greater than the sum of their parts? Taylor also talks about Notre Dame and whether the Irish can challenge for a playoff spot, LSU's progress -- and whether anybody is capable of taking down Alabama.
It lasted only a few seasons, but the USFL had a wild ride as a spring pro football alternative to the NFL, before it was torpedoed by a flamboyant owner who went on to bigger things. AP college football writer Ralph Russo spends this week with Jeff Pearlman, whose new book, Football for a Buck, outlines the short but wild life of a maverick pro football league.
For the first time in six years the Red River Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma is more than just a referendum on the Longhorns coach. Both teams are ranked and the winner emerges as the Big 12 favorite. USA Today national college football writer George Schroeder will be in Dallas on Saturday and he join AP’s Ralph Russo to preview that game, Notre Dame at Virginia Tech and LSU-Florida. Plus, is the new redshirt rule a problem that needs fixing? And how LSU and Oregon can make October interesting.
Joel Klatt from Fox Sports is not a fan of the AP college football poll, though he was once a voter. Klatt joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk discuss why he think the poll is bad for college football. Ralph has a retort, of course. The two delve into confirmation bias and the competence of the voters. And they preview the weekend’s huge games between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 9 Penn State and No. 7 Stanford at No. 8 Notre Dame.
The game of the weekend in college football is in the Pac-12, where No. 7 Stanford visits No. 20 Oregon. We’ll preview Cardinal vs. Ducks with Chantel Jennings, national college football writer with The Athletic, and talk about the Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert. The unheralded hometown recruit has a chance to surge into the Heisman Trophy conversation. Plus, what’s wrong at USC and who could emerge as the favorite in a muddled Pac-12 South? And which fans of a team with a new coach should be most disturbed by the poor start. Jennings also wrote about the radio station that played a national title game between Nebraska and Michigan in 1997. Really.
Steve Coughlin, better known as Stanford Steve on ESPN’s SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt, joins AP’s Ralph Russo to preview week three of the college football season. We’ll get his picks on Ohio State-TCU, LUS-Auburn and USC-Texas. Plus, Coughlin talks about his interesting road to ESPN, from star high school football player with NFL dreams to Stanford to wondering what happens after football when he was just a senior in college.
The first big test for Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M comes from a familiar rival: No. 2 Clemson comes to College Station to give the Aggies a sense of how far away they are from being and elite team. Expectations are modest, says Max Olson of The Athletic. Olson join AP’s Ralph Russo to preview A&M-Clemson and the rest of week 2. Plus, where do Texas and Florida State go after opening losses and why Alabama needs Jalen Hurts more than he needs the Tide.
The college football season is here. Paul Myerberg of USA Today join AP’s Ralph Russo to sort through the quarterback competitions that came to a close around the country, including at Clemson and LSU. Then it’s a Week 1 preview with focus on Washington’s tone-setter against Auburn and Michigan at Notre Dame. Which coach needs a victory more: Jim Harbaugh or Brian Kelly?
A two-week investigation into what Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer knew about domestic violence allegations against his former assistant coach resulted in a three-game suspension of Meyer. Was it enough? Nicole Auerbach from The Athletic joins AP College Football Writer Ralph Russo for a special edition of the AP Top 25 College Football Podcast to discuss what went down in Columbus, from the disturbing details in a report on Meyer and assistant coach Zach Smith to why nobody mentioned Courtney Smith during an uncomfortable late-night news conference?
ESPN’s Rece Davis joins the show to discuss how he puts together his preseason Top 25 ballot. Davis tells Ralph Russo of AP he is bullish on Notre Dame and Michigan. Not so much on the Big 12. Did uncertainty at Ohio State impact where he ranked the Buckeyes? And what about that UCF ranking?
The Pac-12 is looking to bounce back from a difficult postseason, and banking on some new coaches to provide a spark. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News joins AP’s Ralph Russo to preview the conference and size up whether it can get back into the College Football Playoff. Washington looks like the favorite. USC might turn to a freshman quarterback. Can Bryce Love break through and win a Heisman?
The Southeastern Conference, coming off a season where it took both spots in the national championship game, is the focus of this week’s preview edition of the AP College Football Podcast. Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports joins AP College Football Writer Ralph Russo to talk about Alabama’s quarterback competition, Jimbo Fisher’s first season at Texas A&M and whether there is any competition for Georgia in the East. Also, where do Ohio State and Urban Meyer go after the coach defended himself last week?
Dave Revsine from the Big Ten Network joins AP’s Ralph Russo to preview the conference with maybe the most interesting and competitive division in all of college football. Sizing up the Big Ten East heavyweights: Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State. Looking for challengers to Wisconsin in the West? What can we expect from Scott Frost in Year 1 at Nebraska? What players will emerge as Heisman hopefuls?