Thursday, December 31, 2015

Coaches on the Hot Seat: 2016 Edition

As we get ready to close out the 2015 season, and the Coaching Carousel mostly closes with it, it's time to look forward to 2016 a little bit and take a closer look at those coaches that we see as being in trouble if they don't move the needle in the right direction next fall. Here's our list of coaches entering next season with warm, or blazing white hot seats...

Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Never what we could call a great coach, Tuberville bailed on a power 5 job to land at UC, and his tenure has been basically about as vanilla as he is. The Bearcats were a dominant favorite to win the AAC this season, but finished just 4-4 in league play, and 7-6 overall, as the season ended with a drubbing by San Diego State. This is not what the faithful wanted to see. All in all, Cincinnati had a pretty terrible 2015 season, and Tuberville needs to turn a corner.

Bobby Petrino, Louisville
Petrino's second run at Louisville has been nowhere near his first run, and in an unlikely turn of events, he cannot seem to find a QB that has been stable. Petrino is starting to see his team sink to the middle of the ACC, and that's a bad place to be in a weak conference.

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Clawson is another coach who we have never been overly fond of, and he has not turned a corner at Wake Forest at this point. The administration could be heard grumbling this season, and expectations will be higher in 2016 after a 3-9 season. I am not sure Clawson is up to the challenge.

Steve Addazio, Boston College
This season was nothing short of a dumpster fire at the Heights, and something has got to give. The offense was so slow it moved backwards most of the time. The defensive unit was incredible most days, but defense is only one part of the game. BC is largely a mess, and needs a complete overhaul on offense.

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
I am not quite certain why Johnson and his outdated triple option scheme are even still in Atlanta, but that's an issue with those people who call the shots there. Tech has been an unstable, up and down mess during Johnson's tenure, and it has never seen anything resembling stability from one season to another. This team was a top 15 club in August, and finished 3-9. There are no excuses.

Kevin Wilson, Indiana
The Hoosiers made the Pinstripe Bowl, and lost to Duke. Big whoop. Indiana still finished 6-7, and Wilson still doesn't have a winning season in 5 years in Bloomington. Any kind of fall off, and he is likely done.

Mike Riley, Nebraska
It's not like Riley was the first choice of Husker Nation. The close freakish losses are all noted in 2015, but the Huskers don't normally lose that kind of game. Riley was on his way out at Oregon State when he was scooped up here, so the leash is short, as it should be.

Bill Cubit, Illinois
Notice the exceptionally short contract they signed him to after naming him the full time head coach? That's because the Illini didn't have the infrastructure in place to make a change now. They will next season, and Cubit is on another short leash.

Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Hazell would have been gone this season if the competition to find a coach wasn't so thick, and his buyout wasn't a little large. I don't see any way that Purdue wins enough for him to keep his job without a massive talent infusion.

Dana Holgorson, West Virginia
He was almost fired a couple of weeks ago, but the administration felt it was prudent to give him one more year. I don't see that it matters as at best, the Mountaineers are the 6th best team in the Big 12.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
The season started off strong, again, and finished with a dull thud, again. This program is definitely not better than it was before he got there, and is nowhere near the quality of when Mike Leach was fired.

Charlie Strong, Texas
I applaud Texas for giving him more time. The program was a mess when he took over, but he needs to start seeing results. This is Texas, and patience can only afford to last so long.

Ron Turner, FIU
Turner made some strides this fall, but the Panthers are still not where they need to be. I would expect Turner to need to get to a bowl (there's 40 of them for the love of God) to keep his job beyond 2016.

Charlie Partridge, FAU
Partridge has largely failed to generate any energy behind the FAU program. That's hardly surprising. He is in the red zone now as far as where you would expect to see progress, and it's not where it needs to be.

David Bailiff, Rice
The Owls fell short this fall, so maybe they will get to a bowl next season. The inconsistency under Bailiff in a highly winnable league is something that cannot be overlooked.

Larry Coker, UTSA
The unreasonable grumbling of the fan base was loud and clear weeks ago. OC Kevin Brown became the fall guy. Coker now needs to prove to the same fans that this program can work. This is the CUSA West, not the SEC West.

Jeff Monken, Army
Monken has not pushed the needle any further than any of his predecessors had, and that puts him in a bad spot in 2016. Expectations will be for Army to push towards .500. If he fails once again, it could be time for another change.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
It's a long way to fall. DeRuyter was the big dog of the Group of 5 two years ago, and now he can't get the Bulldogs out of their own way. He gets one more season to fix it, or he could be heading out.

Paul Haynes, Kent State
How is he still there? The Not So Golden Flashes were just 3-9 this fall, and somehow he retained his job. That won't happen again.

Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
I never liked this hire for EMU, and so there's that. The Eagles went 1-11 once again, and so nothing is changing. This is quite possibly THE worst job in the nation.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky
The Stoops family tree has not exactly set the world on fire outside of Bob. Stoops has admitted himself that anything short of a bowl in 2016 will likely be a bad thing for him, so at least he knows what could be coming.

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
I am a little surprised that he made it out of 2015. He needs to find an offense, a QB that can run that offense, and an offense that can actually score points. If those things happen, he can survive. If not, well...

Gus Malzahn, Auburn
7-6 is not going to cut it. Despite the bowl win over Memphis, this season was a disaster for the Tigers. They were picked to win the SC West, and possibly compete for a final four spot. Jeremy Johnson was a Heisman favorite. Johnson was benched early, and the Tigers finished 2-6 in SEC play. You do the math.

Todd Graham, Arizona State
Every year, the Sun Devils have lofty expectations. Most of those years, they fall flat like they did this season. It's a thing at ASU. Graham has just extended the sick cycle.

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Rich Rod is up to his old Rich Rod things. He held UA hostage for a contract extension as he flirted with South Carolins, and quite frankly, after the mess that was 2015, he didn't deserve the extension or the South Carolina love. This was supposed to be one of the best Arizona teams ever on paper. That ended up being paper thin.

Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
The administration gave him one more season of life to get the program moving. There were flashes of what could be throughout the year, so that's not unreasonable. Anything short of a bowl in 2016, and he's all done.





Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 All-Bilo FBS Punter of the Year Quarter Finalists

Here is our annual list of quarter finalists for the 2015 All-Bilo FBS Punter of the Year:

Dalton Schomp, FAU
Drew Kaser, Texas A&M
Tom Hackett, Utah
Michael Carrizosa, San Jose State
Hayden Hunt, Colorado State
Austin Rehkow, Idaho
Nick O'Toole, West Virginia
Joseph Davidson, Bowling Green
Trevor Daniel, Tennessee
Drew Riggleman, Arizona
Rigoberto Sanchez, Hawaii

Semifinalists will be named on 1/4/16!

2015 All-Bilo FBS Placekicker of the Year Quarter Finalists

We now move on to the candidates for Special Teams in 2015, starting with our quarter finalists for FBS Placekicker of the Year...

Aidan Schnieder, Oregon
Griffin Oakes, Indiana
Greg Huegel, Clemson
Ka'imi Fairbairn, UCLA
Garrett Schwettman, Western Kentucky
Conrad Ukropina, Stanford
Justin Yoon, Notre Dame
Bobby Puyol, U Conn
Nick Weiller, North Carolina
Austin Rehkow, Idaho
Ross Martin, Duke
Andy Phillips, Utah

Semifinalists will be announced on 1/4/16!

2015 All-Bilo FBS Defensive Back of the Year Quarter Finalists

And we wrap up the nomination on defense with the quarter finalists for All-Bilo FBS Defensive Back of the Year for 2015. It is an impressive field to pick through...

Fish Smithson, Kansas
Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
Michael Mudoh, Tulsa
Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois
Desmond King, Iowa
Jamar Summers, U Conn
Latrell Gibbs, Appalachian State
Damontae Kazee, San Diego State
Dameon Baber, Nevada
Zach Sanchez, Oklahoma
Demetrius Monday, Kent State
Tanner McEvoy, Wisconsin
Antonio Glover, Georgia Southern
Artie Burns, Miami
DeAndre Scott, Akron
Daryl Worley, West Virginia
Kai Nacua, BYU
Alfonso Mack, Bowling Green
Rocky Hayes, Arkansas State
William Jackson III, Houston
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
Rashard Fint, Indiana
Darius Phillips, Western Michigan
Bosie Ross, Buffalo
MJ Stewart, North Carolina
Kalan Reed, Southern Miss
Matthew Harris, Northwestern
Trey Dudley-Giles, U Mass
Jalen Tabor, Florida
Brad Watson, Wake Forest
Clayton Fejedelem, Illinois
Nate Holley, Kent State

Semifinalists will be named on 1/3/16!

2015 All-Bilo FBS Linebacker of the Year Quarter Finalists

If you thought there were a ton of candidates at DL, wait until you see the next two lists. We have a record of nominated candidates in all aspects of defense this season. Here are the quarter finalists for All-Bilo FBS Linebacker of the Year for 2015:

Devonte Fields, Louisville
Antonio Longino, Arizona State
Anthony Walker, Northwestern
Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
Salamo Fiso, Arizona State
Jatavis Brown, Akron
Matt Milano, Boston College
Elandon Roberts, Houston
Ejiro Ederaine, Fresno State
Andrew King, Army
Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Steven Taylor, Houston
Steven Daniels, Boston College
Eric Striker, Oklahoma
Matt Linscott, Tulsa
Travis Feeney, Washington
Dawuane Smoot, Illinois
Tyler Matekavich, Temple
Kentrell Brothers, Missouri
Nick Vigil, Utah State
Hunter Kissinger, UL-Monroe
Austin Valdez, Bowling Green
Blake Martinez, Stanford
Great Ibe, Eastern Michigan
Jovan Santos-Knox, U Mass
Christian Tago, San Jose State
TJ Ricks, Old Dominion
Josey Jewell, Iowa
Steve Longa, Rutgers

Semifinalists will be announced on 1/3/16!

2015 All-Bilo FBS Defensive Lineman of the Year Quarter Finalists

Here are our All-Bilo FBS quarter finalists for Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2015. As you can see by the list and the number of candidates, we will have one of our most competitive years ever in this field...

Carl Nassib, Penn State
Trey Hendrickson, FAU
Yannick Ngakoue, Maryland
Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
Ejuan Price, Pittsburgh
Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
Shaq Lawson, Clemson
Bronson Kaufusi, BYU
Ronald Blair, Appalachian State
Charles Harris, Missouri
Kennedy Tulimasealii, Hawaii
Jonathon Bullard, Florida
Tyler Roberts, Troy
DeForest Buckner, Oregon
Joey Bosa, Ohio State
Ian Seau, Nevada
DeMarcus Walker, Florida State
Alex Hanson, Air Force
Quinton Bradley, Idaho
Mike Rose, NC State
Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
Kevin Dodd, Clemson
Mehdi Abdesmad, Boston College
Michael Wakefield, FIU
Tanzel Smart, Tulane

Semifinalists will be named on 1/3/16!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Top Ten 2015 Bowl Games

We complete our annual rankings of all the bowl games in Part Four of the series, the top ten. Here is our best of the best list for the 2015 bowl season...

#10 Citrus Bowl (1/1)
There are probably not many more great stories like the 2015 season at both Michigan and Florida. Both storied programs have been on downward spirals for years, and both programs made solid hires last off season to try to fix that problem. Michigan brings in the fiery, bombastic Jim Harbaugh, and the Wolverines had their best season in years, and the best is yet to come, assuming that Harbaugh resists the pull back to the NFL. Florida hired a coach with a storied SEC history when they nabbed Jim McElwain away from Colorado State, and McElwain made history immediately by taking Florida to an SEC East title, and did it all the while with an offense that usually could not get out of its own way. It won't really matter who wins here, because both programs are on their way back.

#9 Holiday Bowl (12/30)
The Holiday Bowl has always been one of my favorites, and who doesn't want to hit up San Diego in December, or anytime for that matter? There is an interesting clash of styles heading into the 2015 game, as USC gets Wisconsin. The Trojans are fresh off of breaking a three game losing streak to UCLA, while Wisconsin took a step back in Big 10 play this season, as was expected in season one under Paul Chryst. Look for USC to run their conventional pro offense a shade better than Wisconsin's three yards and a cloud of dust approach, but either way, you will be entertained.

#8 Russell Athletic Bowl (12/29)
This game was set up as a fireworks display of a game between high powered foes in Baylor and North Carolina. This should be a top five match, but Baylor limped into the bowl after blowing through and losing three QBs due to injury. It was so bad that against Texas, the Bears were using WRs and RBs at QB in a loss to the Longhorns. That really dampens this date somewhat. North Carolina, on the other hand, got hammered by Clemson in the ACC title game, but can still light it up. If Baylor can find a QB here, this could be a great game.

#7 Sugar Bowl (1/1)
This game is an unconventional match between Oklahoma State and Ole Miss, and somehow because of this, it doesn't have the shine that most Sugar Bowls seem to have to most folks. I find this match to be thoroughly full of hope for one hell of a football game between two programs who failed to make elite level this season, but are still very good football programs right now. We could see the over in this one.

#6 Peach Bowl (12/31)
If you are looking for a big bowl upset potential, look no further as Houston takes on Florida State here. The Cougars are coming off a massively pleasing season, and then managed to keep first year coach Tom Herman from bailing to another school (namely Missouri) with a $3 million per season contract. Not bad. Florida State took the expected step back this fall, but they still have some elements that remind us all of how good this program can be. They may, however, underestimate the Cougars, and as Emperor Palpatine learned in Return of the Jedi, underestimation can end badly.

#5 Alamo Bowl (1/2)
TCU was on a crash course towards competing for a national title, and then injuries kicked in. Oregon suffered injuries as well, but then got those players back for the stretch run and finished red hot once their QB got healthy. In both cases, these teams can light it up, and so this could be a classic shootout in the old WAC style (google it young people).

#4 Fiesta Bowl (1/1)
Ohio State is coming into this game on a real letdown, as they lost the Big Ten title for the first time when eligible under Urban Meyer. Ohio State narrowly missed a playoff bid, but still has plenty to play for, and if they decide to pout and not show (it is possible), NOtre Dame would love to show them how dumb a mistake that would be.

#3 Rose Bowl (1/1)
It doesn't get any more pleasingly old school than this. PAC-12 vs. Big 10. Stanford against Iowa in a game that should take offense back to the 80s when teams still liked to play grind it out football. This should be one of the best games of the bowl season, just because it is one of the few games that will have an old world traditional feel to it.

#2 Semifinal Arlington, Texas (12/31)
This will be the ugly match between the two national semifinals, as Alabama and Michigan State will square off in Arlington for a spot in the national title game. I am not thrilled with the New Year's Eve slot, as this game should be played on 1/1, but that's not a major issue, it just feels kind of wrong. This will likely be a game where defense reigns supreme, and that's not a bad thing at all. If you like offense, however, look for Alabama to grind it out with Heisman winner Derrick Henry. Can he carry the ball 50 times? Maybe.
Michigan State will have a more diverse look on offense, but can they blow through that Alabama defense? That's the serious question here.

#1 Semifinal Miami, Florida (12/31)
This game ought to be quite a show when Oklahoma and Clemson meet up. Clemson had a huge season with Hesiman finalist Deshaun Watson at QB, and they found the right window to win the overall vanilla ACC this season. Oklahoma was not expected to be playing for a Big 12 title by many, and even I felt that they wouldn't even do very well under those expectations this season. I was proven wrong, as were many others, and OU won the Big 12 during a grueling three week process in November. Does OU still have enough in the tank to get to the final? Does Clemson have enough firepower to take out OU? This will be the best game of the bowl season, as it should be a highly unpredictable environment on that field in Miami.



2015 All-Bilo FBS Tight End of the Year Quarter Finalists

We conclude our nominations on offense with our FBS TE of the Year quarter finalists...

Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky
Jerome Lane, Akron
Gerald Everett, South Alabama
Ryan Yurachek, Marshall
Barrett Burns, Appalachian State
Deon Watson, Idaho
Jaylen Samuels, NC State
Jordan Legett, Clemson
Keith Rucker, Georgia State
Billy Freeman, San Jose State

Semifinalists to be named on 1/2/16!

2015 All-Bilo FBS Wide Receiver of the Year Quarter Finalists

We continue the awards nominations on the offensive side of the football with our 2015 All-Bilo WR of the Year quarter finalists...

Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa
Juju Smith-Schuster, USC
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
Josh Docston, TCU
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Sterling Shepherd, Oklahoma
Mike Thomas, Southern Miss
Will Fuller, Notre Dame
Gabe Marks, Washington State
Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois

Semifinalists to be named on 1/2/16!

2015 All-Bilo FBS Running Back of the Year Quarterfinalists

As part of awards season at the Bilo College Football Report continues, we now present our quarter finalists for the 2015 FBS Running Back of the Year...

Leonard Fournette, LSU
Derrick Henry, Alabama
Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Royce Freeman, Oregon
Christian McCaffery, Stanford
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
Larry Rose III, New Mexico State
Tyler Ervin, San Jose State
Donnel Pumphery, San Diego State
Matt Breida, Georgia Southern
DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech

Semifinalists will be announced on 1/2/16!

2015 All-Bilo FBS QB of the Year Quarterfinalists

Here is our official quarter finalist list for our 2015 All-Bilo FBS QB of the Year award:

Luke Falk, Washington State
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Jared Goff, California
Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Nick Mullins, Southern Miss
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Taylor Lamb, Appalachian State
Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech

Semifinalists will be announced on 1/2/16...


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2015 Bowl Preview: #11-20

Here is our continuing coverage of the 2015 bowl season, for better or for worse. We now get to the third chapter of our preview series, and now the games get a little more interesting for more positive reasons. Here are bowls #11-20...

#20 Birmingham Bowl (12/30)
This game is not great, but it does give us some interesting by lines. Memphis comes in at 9-3, and should be an intimidating favorite over a 6-6 Auburn team that may not be too happy to even be playing in Birmingham this season after they were largely thought to be a championship contender when the season began. Here's why this is interesting...Memphis doesn't have Justin Fuente, and is coming off a long courtship with Barry Odom, who spurned his former employer for a chance to take over at Missouri. How will Memphis react to playing here without the man that was the architect of anything good in Memphis football no longer running the show? How will Auburn react to the terrible season they just had? Will the defense actually improve after Will Muschamp fraudulently was hired as head coach by South Carolina? We shall see.
Verdict: Don't cancel plans for this game, but a DVR play back may not be a terrible thing.

#19 Camellia Bowl (12/19)
This game actually boasts a nice draw, but really only if you are a die hard football nut that will consider watching anything football. Ohio (8-4) had a weird up and down season, but finished strong for Frank Solich to grab this bid. The Bobcats are not the most impressive team, but they are one of the better units from the MAC. They get Appalachian State, a 10-2 football team that is really starting to find their way in FBS football rather quickly. The Mountaineers lost out to Arkansas State in the Sun Belt title chase, but they still may be the better football team.
Verdict: If you have nothing going on this Saturday afternoon, give it a look.

#18 Poinsettia Bowl (12/23)
This is another interesting draw, but only for the die hard fan. Boise State (8-4) had an off year, and failed to win the Mountain Division in the Mountain West. That's a rarity for the Broncos, but they should be happy to get a draw with Northern Illinois (8-5). Neither team played as well as they could have this season, but both got stronger late in the year. NIU is having some major QB injury issues, so that could be a key to the game.
Verdict: Not a must watch, but it's still solid football with two very good programs.

#17 Sun Bowl (12/26)
Tradition matters not I suppose. This used to be a staple game on New Year's Eve, but it has been kicked to the early bowl season curb. Miami (8-4) is coming off of one of their strangest seasons ever, one that saw Al Golden get canned during the season. Miami is glowing after the hire of Mark Richt, but that hire fell into their lap after a series of missteps during the hiring process. Washington State (8-4) completely broke all expectations for 2015, and Mike Leach has his best football team in Pullman to date. With Miami in such disarray heading into this game, this should be the Cougars' game to lose.
Verdict: If you love offense, this is the game for you. Luke Falk (if healthy) vs. Brad Kaaya is a QB battle worth taking in.

#16 Military Bowl (12/28)
This could be the best draw in the history of this bowl, as Pitt (8-4) takes on Navy (10-2) and Keenan Reynolds. The Panthers lost their mojo when they lost James Connor at RB, but still found a way to tough it through the season and compete. Navy has the all-time TD leader in Keenan Reynolds, and he will give the Panther defense fits.
Verdict: If you are home from work, this will be a terrific football game at 2:30 EST. Contrasting styles will be fun to watch.

#15 New Orleans Bowl (12/19)
This is your Saturday night cap this week, as Louisiana Tech (8-4) takes on Sun Belt Champion Arkansas State (9-3). The Bulldogs competed for the Conference USA West title up until the last weekend of the regular season, and they bring gun slinging Jeff Driskell into the fold. Arkansas State held off Appalachian State for the SBC title, and have the ever intriguing Freddi Knighton at QB. This should be a fun game to watch, especially for die hard football fans.
Verdict: This is one of the gems of the early season.

#14 GoDaddy.com Bowl (12/23)
We once again get completely contrasting styles of offense when Georgia Southern makes their first FBS bowl game at 8-4, and will take on Bowling Green (10-3). The major story here is, of course how both teams move the football with the best of them, but do it in completely different ways. The other story is that neither team will have their head coach, as Dino Babers of Bowling Green has bolted for Syracuse, and Willie Fritz of Georgia Southern left for Tulane.
Verdict: Despite the coaching situations, this still has the makings of a very strong draw, and is the best draw in the history of this bowl.

#13 Miami Beach Bowl (12/21)
This is an early season bowl gem pitting the high powered Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (11-2) against the resurgent USF Bulls (8-4). Call this the Willie Taggert bowl, as Taggert had coached WKU before bolting for USF. The Toppers are one of the best offensive teams in the nation, but USF can, on occasion, play some serious defense, so it will be interesting to see if All-Bilo QB of the Year candidate Brandon Doughty can let loose for WKU.
Verdict: Second straight great draw for this bowl after the BYU-Memphis showdown last season.

#12 Capital One Bowl (1/1)
Nobody saw Northwestern coming this season, and they finished 10-2 with an ugly offense. Tennessee (8-4) was a little bit of a letdown, but still rallied late to make things interesting. This is the best team that Butch Jones has had at UT, but it could still be better. Not one of my absolute favorites, but for style points, it could be a good show.
Verdict: I would say use the DVR and sleep off the hangover, but the highlights should be worth checking out.

#11 Las Vegas Bowl (12/19)
It is a crime that this bowl does not get a better date than the first weekend of the bowl season. It always has an entertaining matchup, and it always sells out. This may be the best of the bunch, as the Holy War comes to Vegas, with BYU (9-3) catches up with old enemy Utah (9-3). They don't want to play in the regular season anymore? Fine...we will get you in a bowl. Story line here is the departure of Bronco Mendenhall and a majority of his staff after the bowl to start anew at Virginia in one of the most stealth courtships in history of coaching searches. Utah Kyle Whittingham is someone BYU reached out to.
Verdict: When is a BYU-Utah game not any fun?

Coming Next...Bowls #1-10

Friday, December 11, 2015

2015 Bowl Preview Part 2: #21-30

Here is part 2 of my 2015 bowl preview, looking at bowls that I have ranked #21 through #30. Last week I trashed the bottom ten. These bowls aren't perfect, but are running on average above being horrible. Here is the next group...

#30 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (12/29)
This is a decently entertaining mash up of two very different offensive philosophies. California (7-5) will get Air Force (8-5) in the matchup in Fort Worth. Air Force played for a Mountain West title, and Cal was 5-0 at one point before doing what Cal does, which is start fast and then crash hard. It's been that way as long as I can remember expect in seasons where the Bears have just been awful.

#29 Hawaii Bowl (12/24)
Nobody ever really attends this game in any number, and I am guessing that the same will happen once again. The only thing keeping this game out of the bottom ten is the matchup of Mountain West Champ San Diego State (10-3), and Cincinnati (7-5). San Diego State ended up here as the Las Vegas Bowl selected BYU instead of the MWC champ, so it is a benefit for the bowl to get the 10 win Aztecs. Cincinnati was the AAC favorite when the season started, but largely underperformed. They need this win to give a boost to their hopes in 2016.

#28 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (12/26)
Honestly, if there was more room in the bottom ten bowls, this would have been there. Washington (6-6) barely scrapes into this bowl, plays Southern Miss, who likely deserved a better matchup than the Huskies after what was a huge comeback season that will likely nab Todd Monken a CUSA coach of the Year title. It's Southern Miss' inclusion that elevates this bowl out of the bottom ten in 2015.

#27 Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (1/2)
This bowl also belonged in the bottom ten, but there is only so much room. The match is that of decent overall programs, but these are also programs that failed to live up to any level of good this season in Arizona State (6-6) and West Virginia (7-5). West Virginia had meetings this week to even decide whether or not Dana Holgorsen was even coming back in 2016 as head coach. ASU started the season ranked #15 in the AP poll. They didn't stay there long. I'm even surprised that I didn't rank this bowl lower, except for the fact that there will be video game styled offense.

#26 AutoZone Liberty Bowl (1/2)
I usually like this game. It has a fairly rich history and has played out some of my favorite bowl memories over the last 35 years. This season, the matchup fails this great game. Kansas State comes skidding in at 6-6, and only secured that record in the final week. They get Arkansas (7-5), a team that has been wildly all over the place in 2015, and largely did not live up to preseason billing. Arkansas should still be favored in this game, but never underestimate Bill Snyder. Still, this game deserved better. I would have rather seen Southern Miss getting Arkansas here.

#25 Taxslayer Bowl (1/2)
On the surface, it would seem that this should be an amazing draw, as Georgia (9-3) is taking on Penn State (7-5). That being said, it's just a fa├žade of what is really going on here. Neither team plays any offense, so take the under. You may be tempted to take a nap during this one, and you would be right to.

#24 Music City Bowl (12/30)
Louisville (7-5) will be taking on Texas A&M (8-4). Neither team lived up to what they should have been this season, and after two seasons, Louisville still doesn't really have a QB. Texas A&M was all over the place in 2015, and somehow Kevin Sumlin still gets elite coach billing, I don't buy into the hype, and they have a QB issue going on as well. Somehow, I am just not that excited to see two teams with identity issues trying to figure it out.

#23 Citrus Bowl (1/1)
Again, on paper, this game looks great. Michigan (9-3) takes on Florida (10-3) in what should be an epic battle. The problem is that Florida is probably the worst 10 win team in history. Offense is still a problem for the Gators, but Jim McElwain has done an amazing job getting this team to 10 wins, but this may not be as entertaining as it is billed up to be. Michigan should be favored, and may have an easy time of it, if they can overcome the Florida defense.

#22 Belk Bowl (12/30)
This has historically been a bowl that nobody cares about, no matter who plays in the game. NC State (7-5) gets Mississippi State (8-4) this season, and even with the Wolfpack playing here, it's still not likely to sell out. Neither team brings anything all that exciting to the table here, but it is going to be Dak Prescott's final game, so that's something.

#21 Texas Bowl (12/29)
Texas Tech (7-5) is always all over the place, and even though they started out hot this season, they ended up being fairly average, if that. They get LSU (8-3), a team that largely deserved a better fate than this. The Les Miles drama likely dropped the LSU bowl stock, but in that light, the bowl is lucky to get the Tigers here.

Coming next...Bowl Preview Part 3: #11-20

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/11/15

We have more news as we get closer to filling all of the openings across FBS and FCS football...

Tulane
Tulane is expected to have an official announcement shortly on the hiring of Georgia Southern coach Willie Fritz. Fritz has been successful at every stop, having won at Georgia Southern and Sam Houston State prior. As far as the hire is concerned, Tulane really hit a home run with this one.

East Carolina
Former Michigan, San Diego State, and Ball State head coach Brady Hoke has emerged as the leader in the East Carolina search. Gene Chizik is likely the fall back option, as Shane Beamer is now no longer in the running. Hoke was also in the running at Tulane before Willie Fritz was hired.

Texas
After a huge push by the Texas administration, Tulsa OC Sterlin Gilbert has finally agreed to become the new OC at Texas. Sonnie Cumbie of TCU declined the job because nobody at Texas would guarantee him that Charlie Strong would be there past 2016. That's a huge indictment on how much pressure that Charlie Strong is under next fall.

Ohio State
The Buckeyes have made a strong hire to replace Chris Ash at DC, as they have hired former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano to run the defense in 2016. Schiano was up for several other jobs, but ended with none of them.

Southern Miss
WR/ST coach John Wozniak has been promoted to replace Chip Lindsey at Southern Miss. He will be the coordinator in the bowl game.

Florida Atlantic
FAU has named former Samford OC Travis Trickett as their new OC replacing Brian Wright.

Arizona State
Todd Graham wasted little time in replacing Mike Norvell at OC. Southern Miss OC Chip Lindsey has turned down a head coaching job at Eastern Kentucky in order to take this job instead. He should be a short timer at ASU, as it is only a matter of time before he has his own program.

Alabama
With Kirby Smart gone, Nick Saban moved quickly to replace him with former Georgia DC Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt was also up for the Michigan DC job, amongst others.

BYU
Navy coach Ken Niamatololo will be in Provo this Monday, where he is expected to be named the new head football coach at BYU, replacing Bronco Mendenhall, who left for Virginia. Coach Ken will be working this weekend as Army plays Navy in Philadelphia.

UL-Monroe
ULM is expected to name Matt Viator of McNeese State as their new head coach sometime this weekend. Viator, if you will remember, was the coach that we picked weeks ago as the top candidate for this job. McNeese State's administrators were meeting today to come up with a contingency plan should Viator leave.

Jackson State
We finally have some candidates being named at Jackson State. According to coachingsearch.com, Citadel OC Maurice Drayton and Mississippi State Safeties coach Tony Hughes have emerged.

More news over the weekend...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/10/15


As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/10/15

Following is the most up to date list of all the new coaches in FBS and FCS Football as of today:

Memphis: Mike Norvell (Former OC, Arizona State)
Bowling Green: Mike Jinks (Former Texas Tech RB Coach)
UCF: Scott Frost (Former OC, Oregon)
Syracuse: Dino Babers (Former Head Coach, Bowling Green)
Miami: Mark Richt (Former Head Coach, Georgia)
Virginia Tech: Justin Fuente (Former Head Coach, Memphis)
Virginia: Bronco Mendenhall (Former Head Coach, BYU)
Iowa State: Matt Campbell (Former Head Coach, Toledo)
Maryland: DJ Durkin (Former DC, Michigan)
Rutgers: Chris Ash (Former Co-DC, Ohio State)
Illinois: Bill Cubit (Interim Coach, named full time HC)
North Texas (Seth Litrell, Former OC, North Carolina)
Toledo: Jason Candle (Promoted, Former Toledo OC)
Hawaii: Nick Rolovich (Former OC, Nevada)
Georgia: Kirby Smart (Former DC, Alabama)
Missouri: Barry Odom (Promoted, Former DC)
USC: Clay Helton( Promoted, Former OC and Interim HC)
South Carolina: Will Muschamp (Former DC, Auburn)

Texas Southern: Mike Haywood (Former HC, Pittsburgh)
Montana State: Jeff Choate (Former ST coach, Washington)
Jacksonville: Ian Shields (Former Head Coach, Lenoir-Rhyne)
South Dakota: Bob Nielson (Former Head Coach, Western Illinois)
Eastern Kentucky: Mark Elder (Former TE/ST Coach, Tennessee)

Jobs Still Available

East Carolina
ECU is getting ever closer to making a hire, and hope to have someone to replace Ruffin McNeil, who was fired last week. Virginia Tech RB Coach Shane Beamer and James Madison Head Coach Everett Withers appear to be finalists as of this moment. Withers is available after JMU lost in the FCS playoffs last weekend.

BYU
Robert Anae appears to be out of the running, as it appears that he is following Bronco Mendenhall to Virginia as of today’s news. Darrell Bevell also appears out after Pete Carroll stated that the timing was all wrong for the Seahawks OC. It appears that the primary target here is Navy coach Ken Niamatololo. That move could be made this weekend, as Navy completes their regular season against Army.

Tulane
According to NOLA.com, Georgia Southern Coach Willie Fritz is the latest coach to interview at Tulane. The new AD, Troy Dennon, is moving quickly to get something done here. TCU Co-OC, despite earlier reports, is not a candidate at Tulane. Houston Nutt and Terry Bowden both have interest here, but don’t seem likely to land the gig.

UL-Monroe
It’s looking more and more that my prediction from weeks ago about McNeese State’s Matt Viator being the right guy for this job is coming closer to fruition. Viator was named as a finalist along with Arkansas State OC Walt Bell, and now Bell has pulled his name from consideration. Five other candidates have interviewed, but I look for this to be locked up within the next 24 to 48 hours from this posting, with Viator being my pick.

Jackson State
A new AD could be named in the coming few days, which will then turn the focus to hiring a new football coach at Jackson State. As of now, there is virtually zero buzz about this job anywhere.

Maine
As of today (12/10), the candidate list has been narrowed to four, and all of them have either played or coached at Maine before. Names are not available at this time.

Southern Illinois
This is another job search that seems to be completely off the grid. SIU is looking for someone who has familiarity with the Missouri Valley Conference and the region, but other than that, there has been zero buzz. We are still monitoring the situation.

Tennessee Tech
A message on an NCAA job board has stated that Tennessee Tech will not begin screening current applicants until next Monday, so there is currently no worthy information floating about in relationship to this job. Once the screenings begin on Monday, we should have some new news.

Austin Peay
As of today, APSU has just begun to call potential candidates to set up interviews. Once that process begins, they are looking to move fairly quickly to make a hire. Reggie Barlow, the former Alabama State coach, has been known to be connected to this job. He would be a very nice hire, but we will monitor this situation as it progresses. They are starting with phone interviews, and will then move onto on campus interviews next week, according to an email sent to the Leaf-Chronicle. They are looking to move to 4-6 candidates for on campus interviews, while phone interviews will be conducted with up to 12 candidates.

More as we here it later this weekend…

 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bowl Game Previews: The Ten Worst, #40-31


Bowl Preview Part One: The Bottom Ten
It’s that time again. Our regular season has basically come to an end (come on, do you really give a flying crap about Army/Navy?) and it’s on to this absolute circus (and I mean that in the worst possible way) of the dumpster fire that has become bowl season.
Most of these bowls are meaningless TV timeslot fillers for ESPN and their corporate advertising partners to rack up ad dollars whether or not the game makes any revenue, or whether or not schools actually lose money attending most of them.
Want to attend a meaningless, sparsely attended football game in the Bahamas? It’s yours for the taking. How about Christmas eve in rundown Pearl City, Hawaii and a three quarters empty Aloha Stadium for your viewing pleasure? Sure…why not.
Hey kids, winter vacation in Detroit for Central Michigan and who the hell cares? Hell yeah!
A Heart of Dallas road trip to see a resurgent Southern Miss and a barely scraping by Washington? Outdoors? In the old Cotton Bowl? No, they haven’t torn it down yet. Sure they moved its namesake bowl to the obscenity that is the Jerry Dome. Sure! Let’s go sit out in that Dallas winter cold!
Hell, I live in Vegas and won’t attend any more Vegas bowls played after 5PM. It either rains, or we get massive windstorms right around that time of year. Remember that year when Oregon State played BYU, and the Beavers punted and the ball got caught in a 75 MPH cross wind and landed 10 feet behind the punter after it was kicked? I do. I was there, it was the second quarter, and it was enough to make my Wife and I head right for the car to drive home and watch the rest on TV.

Bowls are simply not what they once were. They are a meaningless corporate shill played out for you to have to bear all while thinking that you cannot miss a game during bowl season, because ESPN told you that you can’t. Well, I am here to tell you differently.

This is part one of my annual bowl preview, and since there are now a whopping 40 of these fallacies, I will post this in four parts, starting with the worst to the best, 10 at a time.

#40 Arizona Bowl, 12/29
First of all, you cannot fit the State of Arizona in a bowl. Come up with a name that makes sense. Remember, the original bowls were actually named after items that could be placed in a bowl. Roses, Oranges, etc. I digress.
One of the gifts that keep on giving this bowl season is that we get to see two teams from the same conference play each other in a bowl. That’s right, Colorado State and Nevada will square off forcing some two share split of whatever crappy check comes out of this mess.
Neither team was relatively worthy of this honor, but Colorado State did finish with a relatively slightly average Quality Win/Loss Index number of 29, good for 52nd nationally. Nevada, which finished with a miserable -55 against their 2015 schedule, should never have been considered in a sane environment.
Final Verdict: Do something worthy of your time, like flushing your radiator, or taking a polar bear plunge instead of wasting your time here.

#39 Quicklane Bowl, 12/28
Nothing says holiday and successful season reward for a fan base like a trip to cheery ole Detroit. Come on kids, lets go to the most broken city in America for a fun filled trip to empty factory land, where we can go on such luminary attractions such as "It’s a Burned Out Abandoned Crack House After All", and the "Car Jacking Avoidance Whirligig". Seriously NCAA? When will you get back to regulating these bowls again?
In this viewing gem, we get Central Michigan, who I am sure would have done anything to get the hell out of the great frozen north in the winter, only to get told that they can stay home, against a 5-7 Minnesota team that while sucking for a good most of the season, and far underperforming to my pre-season expectations, got to a bowl because their football players, in a novel concept of sorts, actually went to class and got passing grades. Sounds great to me!
Final Verdict: No…just no.

#38 AutoNation Cure Bowl, 12/19
Just what is AutoNation trying to cure here? Our love for the game? Georgia State, who struggles to even get homeless people trying to get in out of the elements to accept a free ticket to the Georgia Dome to watch them play, will take on a 5-7 San Jose State, who’s kids also apparently attend class (kudos, by the way).
Now I will give some credit to Trent Miles and his Georgia State Panthers. This team won four straight to get into this bowl, but since when is finishing 6-6 in the nation’s worst conference worthy of playing in a bowl? Well, welcome to the modern bowl era, where average is awesome!
Want to plan a family trip to Orlando? How about on 12/19? Nobody will be there. I promise.
Final Verdict: If you screw over your Christmas shopping for this game, then you’re just an asshole.

#37 Camping World Independence Bowl, 12/26
So the Independence Bowl has been around for a very long time. I’ve grown up with it being a bowl fixture. You can’t put Independence in a bowl either, but I give up. Seriously, as long as the Independence Bowl has been around, the best sponsor you could get was Camping World? Really? What, the Duck Dynasty buffoons weren’t available anymore?
In this shitfest, we are saddled with a 6-6 Tulsa team playing Virginia Tech, also 6-6. At least Bobby Bowden got to check out with a New Year’s Day bowl, and he was no better in that final season than Beamer was this season. Where’s the love? I am guessing that Beamer would rather quit now than take a trip to averageville and coast out on this wing dinger.
Final Verdict: Even Tech fans should skip it and wait until the Justin Fuente era begins in 2016.

#36 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, 12/22
First of all…you can put a potato in a bowl!!! Finally, someone actually gets it! But really, a 7-5 Akron against a 6-6 and skidding in Utah State is kind of like watching paint dry. Speaking of watching paint dry, going to Boise in December is some kind of reward? Even Boise State got leave and head to San Diego for their bowl. That’s something worth doing.
Do you at least get to chop a commemorative log for going there this time of year? No? Then oh hell no.
Final Verdict: Forget about this game. This spud is a dud.

#35 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, 12/19
If I were a coach or an AD, I would just decline this trip, and I’d do it every single year I was offered. Did you not watch Breaking Bad? They even showed you some of the nice parts of Albuquerque, and it looked beat to hell. And to go there this time of year, where the high temp isn’t a low for most warmer locales? That’s not a reward, that’s a stern kick in the teeth.
Arizona, at 6-6, is taking on New Mexico, at 7-5. At least UNM is playing a home game, but leaving Tucson for this locale in December is just punishment.
Final Verdict: I don’t know what Gildan is, and I don’t care. I’d rather jump in a Walmart mosh pit for that last Vizio flat screen at midnight on Black Friday than waste my time with this bore fest.

#34 St. Petersburg Bowl, 12/26
I don’t get it. Is the city of St. Petersburg sponsoring their own bowl, or did the greediest of hack corporations not feel the need to get in on this fantastic gem? Someone tweet me the answer to this quandary.
Speaking earlier of watching paint dry, U Conn is playing in this game, and that makes it worth eating a whole fruitcake and puking it up afterwards a better option than tuning in. If you are loathe to teams moving the football, than U Conn is your club! They take on Marshall, who really is a better football team at 9-3 than a team that deserves the fate of playing in a game that’s not even sponsored in today’s sponsorship happy world. Or, wait, is it sponsored by the city? Yes? No? God, I am confused.
Final Verdict: Drown yourself in left over eggnog rather than subjecting yourself to what a 6-6 U Conn team calls offense. By the way, U Conn scored a horrid -69 on our Quality Win/Loss Index. So, there’s that.

#33 Foster Farms Bowl, 12/26
Hey kids, Nebraska is 5-7! Let’s give them a bowl game. How I truly detest ESPN and their machinations. Go broke you demon bastards! Go broke!
So UCLA gets the reward (punishment) of playing a game on what is particularly known as the stadium with the worst field conditions in the nation in Santa Clara (unless you count the field at the University of Rhode Island, because that shit is an ankle injury a minute God awful mess) against a team that played a losing season out but got to come to a bowl because their kids went to class and ESPN just loves rewarding mediocrity! That’s what you get for losing to Arizona State and a below average USC team last week! By the way, I am begging Santa Guerrero to find a way to fire Noel Mazzone, UCLA’s OC, one of the most overrated assistants in the nation. That would be swell. Thanks. I am sure UCLA will be so uninspired, that they may actually find a way to lose to Nebraska in this snore fest. I’m sure the fans will turn out up there as well, right?
Final Verdict: The Chicken Bowl? How about the Chicken Shit Bowl? That’s more like it.

#32 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, 12/26
Remember when Duke was unbeaten, in the top 25, and then got royally screwed by the ever worsening officiating that this country has been subjected to in a ridiculous loss to Miami that should have been overturned time and again? And then remember when they went on that self pity skid that forced them to play in New York in December? Duke has stumbled into Yankee Stadium ( a bowl game in a baseball stadium…oh, how I love that) to take on an Indiana team that only took the last 5 years to finally get into a bowl at 6-6. The collective record of these two teams is 13-12. Didn’t Ruffin McNeil just get fired at East Carolina for collecting that very same record over the last two seasons? Oh, the hypocrisy of it all.
Final Verdict: College football in New York is what apple pie covered in fish sauce is like. The two just do not mix.

#31 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, 12/24
I gave this bowl a chance last season, just out of curiosity of what I may see. What I saw was an empty stadium, with some spectators that really looked like they had no idea in hell as to what they were watching, in a stadium that looked like something out of what a dilapidated facility in Cuba must look like. It was just bizarre.
So you want to take the wife and kids to the Bahamas for Christmas Eve? Well, I think that’s just ridiculous, but whatever. What’s worse is that you will make them watch Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee, both 7-5 football teams that have a collective Quality Win/Loss Index number of -16. Thrilling, right? Seriously...this game needs to be discontinued, and the sooner the better.
Final Verdict: It’s Christmas Eve for the love of God. Do something Christmas-like that doesn’t include football in backwater locales, like playing with your kids or something. Bahamas for Christmas? Bah humbug.

Coming up next…Bowl Games #30-#21

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: Weekend Edition


As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/4/15

It’s another day on the Carousel, as more moves are happening throughout the day, including some surprises. Here’s the latest:

Firings

East Carolina
In the shocker of the day, East Carolina dismissed Ruffin McNeil after what was termed a “deliberate” process of evaluation. I am guessing it had to be as many moves were made a week ago or more, and 12 schools have already hired coaches.
McNeil was largely popular amongst the fan bases at both Texas Tech and at East Carolina, but ECU is making a push for bigger and better these days. ECU went 13-12 the last two season overall, and had finished 8-8 in two seasons of AAC play. That was not good enough for the administration, who placed the names of all the schools in the AAC that had better records during that period of time in their release, which is something not previously seen.
If that is truly the case, I find their early candidate list a bit baffling. The first candidate mentioned is Rick Stockstill at Middle Tennessee, a coach who has lived in the middle his entire career. Stockstill’s stock has been slipping at MTSU, but he did manage to get the Blue Raiders back to a bowl this season. Still, his career record at MTSU is right at .500, which is something that I would not see as being advantageous to where ECU is trying to go.
Another name is NC State OC Matt Canada. This name seems to fit more into the mold of what could make ECU better than they are currently. Canada has built a solid offense at NC State, and even found a way to make Jacoby Brissett into a decent QB, something nobody thought possible at one point.
The 3rd candidate is Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey. I am a huge Carey fan, but not for ECU. For one thing, I view moving from NIU to ECU is nothing more than a lateral move. Both programs are G5 schools, and NIU has a better overall track record in recent years. I see Carey moving up, not laterally.

Jacksonville
This was more a mutual parting of ways than an outright firing, but I am certain that Kerwin Bell would rather have stayed on at JU rather than leave at this point without having lined up another job first. The first thing to be clear about is that Bell is an outstanding coach. Any other program should be lucky to have him running their program, and he should latch on somewhere fairly quickly. Very few coaches have been able to win regularly with so little in the way of overall resources. JU is a very small school, but Bell was starting to feel the restraints of coaching and winning in a non-scholarship environment. JU was on probation this season within only the Pioneer League for having given scholarship type benefits to athletes in the football program. This was not an NCAA violation, but was a PFL policy violation, and so the Dolphins were ineligible for the league title or the auto-bid for the tournament.
The event that led to his departure seems to have come in the midst of differing philosophy between Bell and the administration over continuing as a non-scholarship program, with Bell feeling strongly that the program was stable and strong enough to start offering scholarship benefits. Of course that move would also entail JU moving conferences, but Bell felt that was an acceptable thing at this point in time. The school felt strongly in the other direction, and so Bell felt that he had done all he could to make it work.
There has only been one candidate mentioned for this job, and that is Ian Shields, who resigned at Lenoir-Rhyne after finishing 17-6 over the last two seasons. I would expect this to get done fairly quickly. Shields was mentioned by the website coachingsearch.com as the only candidate at this time.
Update (12/6)...Ian Shields indeed is the new head coach at JU as of today. This deal had been set up for days. It's a solid hire of a coach that can win right away.
 
Hiring

Virginia
The shocker of the season thus far has been Virginia’s sudden and out of nowhere hiring of BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall today to a contract that will pay him $3.25 million in his first season. There is not a ton of news on this hire or where it came from as of yet. Mendenhall will coach BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Missouri
The Tigers made official what I had been pushing for during their search, and they hired DC Barry Odom as their next football search, replacing the retiring Gary Pinkel. Odom’s hiring came as a moment of jubilation amongst the players currently on the football team, and that kind of reaction was exactly why I had pushed so hard for his hiring in the first place.
Odom is an immensely talented DC, and while the offense collapsed in 2015, the Tiger defense was still as fearsome as always. Odom is apparently considering bringing in Josh Heupel, currently of Utah State and formerly of Oklahoma, to run the offense, and that deal could get done over the weekend or early next week. That would bring an increased tempo in offensive pace, which would benefit the Tigers in improving over their bottomed out 2015 season.
In short, this was a solid hire for Missouri.

Memphis
Memphis, I feel, jumped the gun a little bit in hiring Mike Norvell, the current OC at Arizona State, to run their program. Memphis had been in extended negotiations with Barry Odom, but I had felt all along that Odom’s heart was really in waiting out the Missouri situation, and Memphis finally had to move along.
Norvell is a good OC, but Arizona State and Pitt hardly got over the hump during his days working under Todd Graham. The Sun Devils did have a decent offense this season, but for me, it is about the body of work, so I cannot really get behind Norvell just yet.
Memphis had also had preliminary discussions with UAB coach Bill Clark, as he tries to rebuild the program for a 2017 re-launch, but Clark decided to stay put and see the project through.

Rutgers (12/6)
Ohio State co-DC Chris Ash has been offered the head coaching job at Rutgers despite having earlier pulled himself out from consideration. Ah is likely to accept the job.

Montana State
The Bobcats went the unknown path in hiring Washington assistant Jeff Choate as their next head football coach. Choate replaces Rob Ashe.

Searching

South Carolina
Will Muschamp is still keeping up his myopic approach to the South Carolina job, and is rallying up a staff should he get the call to become the next head coach of the Gamecocks. He has apparently offered Marcus Lattimore a spot on his staff, and has reached out to several other candidates as well for various staff positions.
Muschamp is acting prematurely, as South Carolina is still seeking other candidates, including Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, who interviews today according to multiple sources. Rodriguez seems ready and willing to leave the desert for a return down south, and so has had his name attached at both Virginia and South Carolina now. It seems a matter of time until he moves on somewhere, whether or not that’s South Carolina, however, remains to be seen.
Update: Greg Schiano is now a candidate for the job and is expected to interview fairly shortly along with Rodriguez. Larry Fedora is coming up connected to this search as well, but UNC is trying to lock down a nice extension for him. One more candidate that is definitely in the mix is South Florida coach Willie Taggert, who is in the middle of another successful rebuilding project with the Bulls.
Update 2 (12/6): In a shocking twist of absolute stupidity, South Carolina hired Muschamp after Rich Rodriguez spurned their offer and returned to Arizona. It looks like Rodriguez was playing UA for an extension all along, and used SC to get it done.
The hire itself is a disaster for the Gamecocks. It just stinks of desperation after they were getting shot down time and again. Muschamp was a wreck at Florida, burned all his bridges with the administration and the fan base, and couldn't win at one of the most winnable locales in the nation. Get ready for the days of old, Gamecock fans, where you just felt fortunate to win 6 or 7 games. Remember the Sparky Woods days? You'll be praying for those to come back.
 
Syracuse
When asked about his name being attached to Syracuse, Dino Babers was very vague and stated that he was only concerned with Bowling Green winning the MAC title tonight. I would expect Babers to make a decision as early as Saturday. Right now, he is the odds on favorite for this job.
Update (12/5): Babers was made head coach of the Orange after winning the MAC title, and was officially announced on Saturday.
 
Houston
Tom Herman has signed his contract extension at Houston. He will be payed $2.8 million per season, the highest salary in the G5 coaching ranks. His buyout through 2017 will be $2.5 million. That’s not a bad rate if another school wants him bad enough and can lure him away (potentially UCLA if Mora leaves for the NFL…Bruins could dangle the chance for an offensive mind such as Herman to work with Josh Rosen).

UL-Monroe
A search firm has been contracted to help ULM in their search to replace Todd Berry. Interviews are set to begin next week.

BYU
Add to this list now as Bronco Mendenhall pulled a shocker and accepted the Virginia job this afternoon. This move was purely under the radar mastery on part of Virginia, and so we do not have a candidate list as of yet. I would have to assume that Matt Wells of Utah State will get a call, as should Troy Calhoun of Air Force, however there could be an on staff option at this time.
My assumption right now would be that BYU will want to make as much as a splash as possible for a potential bid to join a conference such as the Big 12 in the near future. This will be a very important hire here.
Update (12/6): Early candidates are Kilane Sitaki of Oregon State, current OC Robert Anae, Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell, and Navy coach Ken Niamataolo. All belong to LDS, which is a requirement for BYU's head coaching job.

North Texas
UNT has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow to discuss their coaching situation. It is largely believed that Seth Litrell is the guy, as I have been saying all week. This should be finalized tomorrow.
Update (12/6): After UNC lost to Clemson in the ACC title game, Litrell was officially announced as the new coach at UNT.

Tulane
New candidates for the job are Baylor OC Kendal Briles (already turned down the North Texas job), LSU assistant Frank Wilson, and Oklahoma State OC Mike Yurcich, according to NOLA.com. Wilson would appear to be the early favorite.

Eastern Kentucky
Southern Miss OC Chip Lindsey was offered the job, but has declined. EKU is now back in the hunt once again.

Austin Peay
APSU has a brand new candidates list per coachingsearch.com. including Eastern Kentucky assistant Walt Wells (likely not to be retained at EKU), Delta State coach Todd Cooley, Georgia Tech LB coach Andy McCollum, and Chattanooga WR coach Will Healy. According to the post, they want this done by Christmas.

More news as it becomes available…

Thursday, December 3, 2015

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/4/15 Edition


As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/4/15

Here’s the latest from the carousel this week…

Newly Hired

UCF
UCF made a surprising move after their deal with Dino Babers fell apart when the administration made an announcement prior to the MAC title game, which was against Babers’ wishes. UCF then turned to Oregon OC Scott Frost, who also had a deal on the table from Syracuse. Frost turned down the Orangemen to take a gig in a better climate, and overall, UCF is a much more stable situation long term. Frost should bring an entirely different energy to Orlando than the program had under George O’Leary, and the recruiting intensity ought to increase immediately.
 
Miami
With Mark Richt having been let go at Georgia, the door immediately opened for his return to his Alma Mater in Miami. Richt flirted with the opening at Virginia, South Carolina, and Maryland this week before settling in on a deal that will pay him $4 million per season with a salary pool of $2.5 million for assistants. Miami has always had a reputation of not wanting to pay, and it has cost them in the past, so this time they made sure to open the wallets and pay up, and it turned out wonderfully for them. Richt will likely win right away at Miami, and will likely be under less pressure while ridding himself of the meat grinder of the SEC. The ACC is much more winnable, and Richt ought to be able to run the program his way without the kind of overbearing pressure felt at Georgia.

Virginia Tech
As stated earlier in the week, Virginia tech moved quickly and hired Justin Fuente from Memphis. This was a great hire that moves the Hokie program into the future, and Fuente got to keep Bud Foster at DC in the process.

Iowa State
Iowa State hired Matt Campbell from Toledo this week in a major coup event. Campbell’s name had been surfacing with what I consider to be better jobs at Missouri, Virginia, and South Carolina, but he jumped early to head to Ames.

Toledo
Campbell has already lost his OC at Iowa State, however, as Jason Candle went back to Toledo after following Campbell to Ames, and Candle is now the new head football coach with the Rockets. I stated earlier in the week that I felt that it was likely that Toledo would try to retain someone from the former staff to take over, and that is exactly what they did. This was a solid move for continuity.

Maryland
Maryland made a big move by hiring DJ Durkin away from Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan. While a solid hire, Durkin is not exactly the high powered offense guy that the Terps were longing over when the process began to find a new coach. Durkin, a defensive specialist, is sort of on the other end of the spectrum, but he still has not identified a new OC as of yet, so we shall see what they can get.

Illinois
Illinois decided to stay out of the job search for the time being by retaining interim coach Bill Cubit, even after the Illini closed out at 5-7. Cubit, the former OC and Head Coach at Western Michigan, got a 2 year deal to stick around, but I am guessing that once the job search scene has a chance to cool down somewhat next year, they could be in the market once again if Cubit collapses.

Hawaii
Hawaii made a smart, move forward kind of hire when they gave their job to Nevada OC and former Rainbow QB Nick Rolovich. There was a strong push to bring back June Jones, who did apply, however this move signals a move towards the future, which is exactly where Hawaii needs to focus.

Georgia
Georgia moved quickly in replacing Mark Richt when they unofficially announced the hiring of Kirby Smart from Alabama. Smart, a Georgia guy who played for the Bulldogs, should be an interesting hire, but the offense needs to be fixed immediately, and Smart is a defensive guy. We shall see how this plays out as UGA is expected to make an official announcement next week.

Texas Southern
Texas Southern is the first of now 10 schools that were looking for coaches on the FCS level, as they announced the hiring of former Pittsburgh head coach Mike Haywood today. Haywood, who had off field issues that kept him from ever coaching a game for the Panthers, has gotten himself together and is looking to work his way back up the ladder once again. This is a strong hire for TSU, which had underperformed in 2015, leading to the firing of Darrell Asberry.

Still Looking

Tulane
With no coach hired, at least we will now know who that coach will be working for. Northern Iowa AD Troy Dannen will be the new Athletic Director at Tulane. Now that this issue has been handled, he can get to work to find a new coach. The only candidates mentioned were in my post earlier this week, Terry Bowden of Akron, and Houston Nutt. Apparently, Tulane is not overly excited about either option, so expect a fresh batch of candidates in the coming days.

Syracuse
The odds on favorite for this job is Bowling Green coach Dino Babers, who already turned down UCF. Babers will coach Bowling Green in the MAC title game Friday night,  but could take the job as early as Saturday or Sunday. Chris Ash of Ohio State has already walked away from this job, and was considered as the other favorite. Other names associated that could come into play if Babers falls through are Ed Orgeron, Ed Warriner, Al Golden, and Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia.

Virginia
UVA has to be let down to see Mark Richt get away to Miami, as they had focused in on him after an interview in the last 48 hours. It would seem that Richt was never as interested in this job as they were in him. Now Virginia turns to Sonny Dykes of Cal, Al Golden, Western Kentucky’s Jeff Brohm, and Greg Schiano. Brohm could be a dark horse who is moving up the list rapidly, and may fall in right behind Dykes as a favorite.

Michigan Defensive Coordinator
With DJ Durkin having moved on to Maryland (he will not coach in Michigan’s bowl appearance), Jim Harbaugh is concentrating on a replacement. Early names are Stanford DC Lance Anderson, current assistant and former DC Greg Mattison, and current DB coach Greg Jackson.

Rutgers
With Kyle Flood finally gone, Rutgers can move forward from the mess that was the Kyle Flood era. Al Golden, Ohio State assistant Chris Ash, and another Ohio State assistant in Ed Warriner are all hot candidates as of now. Former head coach Greg Schiano is highly unlikely, as he seems loathe to return to Rutgers at this point.

UTSA Offensive Coordinator
It would seem that many fans got their wish this week when it was announced that Kevin Brown would not be returning as OC in 2016. No word yet on potential candidates, however I will report any names that I can find in the coming days.

North Texas
This search is a bit of a mess, as Dusty Meacham was expected to be named head coach only to pull out of consideration leaving North Carolina OC Seth Litrell as the lone remaining mentioned candidate. That being the case, no official announcement has been made, as UNC is playing Clemson in the ACC title game this weekend. Here’s hoping that this gets settled either on Sunday or Monday.

Missouri
There has been a ton of action on the Missouri front, with as many as five candidates having been interviewed in the last few days. Current DC Barry Odom is still in the mix, and apparently is no longer a candidate at Memphis, but more on that later. Sonny Dykes of Cal has interviewed, and Troy Calhoun of Air Force, Mike Bobo of Colorado State, and Matt Wells of Utah State have all interviewed in the Denver area this week. There is no telling as of now who the favorite is, but Barry Odom feels that he has a strong chance. In my opinion, he is the right hire for this job.
Update: (10:09 PM PST) Barry Odom is now the official head coach at Missouri and has agreed to a five year deal.

South Carolina
There is a lot of smoke and buzz around this job. Will Muschamp is so confident that he is reaching out to potential assistants should he get the job, but South Carolina is still adding to the candidate list, so Muschamp may be a bit myopic here. Sonny Dykes of Cal has had contact with officials regarding this job, and the latest interview that will be granted is Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, who will interview Friday. Shawn Elliott, the current interim head coach,  has interviewed as well.

UL-Monroe
There are a ton of initial candidates on this list, but there is no telling if the administration and the search committee have narrowed much, if anything, down to a manageable level. SE Louisiana coach Ron Roberts is still the favorite, but add former Tulane coach Chris Scelfo, LSU assistant Frank Wilson, Kentucky OC Shannon Dawson, Mississippi State assistant John Hevesy, Southern miss OC Chip Lindsey, TCU RB coach Curtis Luper, UL-Lafayette assistant Reed Stringer, former ULM coach Mike Collins, and current interim coach John Mumford to the list of coaches that have been attached to the search.

Memphis
Memphis has apparently moved on from Barry Odom, as both sides agreed to move in different directions this week. Odom is pursuing the Missouri job, where he is currently DC, so Memphis got tired of waiting. Look for more names to spring up in the next day or two, and I will post them here.
Update: (10:12 PM PST) Memphis has named Arizona State OC Mike Norvell head coach tonight. More as it becomes available.

Auburn DC
Will Muschamp is unlikely to return to Auburn according to AL.com. Muschamp is interviewing for South Carolina’s HC job, but is unlikely to be a main target. According to the piece, he could end up as an assistant at Georgia or Alabama. Stay tuned.

Fluid Situations

North Carolina
The administration is currently trying to work out a contract extension for Larry Fedora, and hopes to have that accomplished within the next week. Fedora’s name has been associated with the search at South Carolina briefly, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Houston
Tom Herman apparently has signed his new offer paying him $3 million per season, the highest contract for any G5 coach in the nation. He may still be in play, however, as other situations could develop that could eclipse that number elsewhere.

California
The Golden Bears have a contract extension worked out for Sonny Dykes, but he has not signed it yet, and continues to interview for jobs at Missouri, Virginia, and South Carolina. He seems unwilling to stick around much longer, and I am guessing he could be gone by next week.

UCLA
Jim Mora is now one of three early candidates for the Miami Dolphins soon to be open job. He could also be once again considered by the Chargers if they indeed decide to move on from Mike McCoy after the Chargers have started 3-8 this season with a possibly impending move to the Los Angles market on the horizon. Expect the Bruins to draw from a pool of Mike Leach, Tom Herman, and Matt Ruhle of Temple if Mora decides the time is right to move on.

FCS Openings

With Texas Southern having hired Mike Haywood, there are now 9 openings in FCS football.

Maine
There have been between 25 to 30 applicants for the job since Jack Cosgrove retired, and the administration is looking to narrow that list to 4 to 6 by the weekend or early next week. Current interim coach Joe Harasymiak is a strong candidate at this point and will likely be a finalist.

Montana State
There has been little movement this week, but OC Tim Cramsey has interviewed and has a strong shot at the job. Former Montana and UNLV coach Bobby Hauck and Dan Hawkins are still on the list as well.
Update: (10:09 PM PST) Bozeman sources are now reporting that Missouri QB coach Andy Hill is the front runner. More as news becomes available.
Update: (10:13PM PST) Others that officially interviewed were FAU OC Brian Wright, Arizona State Co-DC Chris Ball, Jeff Choate of Wazzu, and Hill. Cramsey interviewed as well.

South Dakota
The administration is not naming names, but they have a search firm hired to move forward. Joe Glenn, who retired, is lobbying hard for current OC Wesley Beschorner to get the job.

Austin Peay
Two new names have surfaced in the last 48 hours. Former Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow has become the main target, and would be an excellent choice. Former Tarleton State coach Cary Fowler has also been attached to this job.

Jacksonville
Kerwin Bell has shockingly parted company with JU today after having a falling out with the future direction of the program as a non-scholarship program with the administration. More news as I get it, but this one is a surprise.

No New News
There is no new news on the Eastern Kentucky, Jackson State, Southern Illinois, or Tennessee Tech jobs today. I will continue hunting for info and ill update when it is available.