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2015 College Coaching Openings, Candidates, Changes & Rumors
November 2, 2015
12:12 pm
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gametime
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Georgia's Richt looks like a goner.

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November 2, 2015
12:14 pm
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What 2015 college coaching changes will have the largest impact?

http://fansided.com/2015/07/08.....ball-2015/

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November 2, 2015
1:26 pm
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gametime said
What 2015 college coaching changes will have the largest impact?

http://fansided.com/2015/07/08.....ball-2015/

There are now 10 openings as Hawaii's Norm Chow was fired. http://www.cbssports.com/colle.....ng-vacancy

Hawaii fires Norm Chow, becomes 10th FBS head coaching vacancy

By Robby Kalland | Staff Writer
 

November 1, 2015 4:49 pm ET

Hawaii fired coach Norm Chow, effective immediately, a day after the Rainbow Warriors lost 58-7 to Air Force to drop to 2-7 on the season. Chris Naeole will serve as the interim coach for the remainder of the 2015 season.

"I'd like to thank Coach Chow for his dedication to our football program for the past four years," Hawaii athletic director David Matlin said in a release. "Ultimately, we feel this decision is in the best interest of the University and Athletics Department and we need to move in a different direction. Coach Chow should be commended for helping our football program achieve all-time highs in APR scores and graduation rates."

Chow was 10-36 at Hawaii since taking over in 2012.

With Chow being relieved of his duties, there are now 10 FBS head coaching vacancies to be filled this offseason, including: Illinois, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, North Texas, South Carolina, UCF, USC, Virginia Tech and now Hawaii.

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November 2, 2015
1:40 pm
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Dennis Dodd, Biletnikoff Award voter, calls for Georgia to replace Coach Richt:

http://www.cbssports.com/colle.....with-class

"Mark Richt and Georgia can't go through this together anymore.

Call the eventuality what you will -- retirement, resignation, a firing, finding a new job. Big football games at Georgia have produced living, breathing sideshows. There's the game itself and the dread over how its coach is going to lose it.

In whatever form you prefer, this relationship has to end.

That's clear now. It's probably obvious to Richt, the dean of SEC coaches. There's only so many ways journalists can resuscitate the can-he-win-the-big-one angle. There's only so many ways Georgia's coach can keep it alive.

It's time for a mutual separation, hopefully on a tasteful note. Georgia lost again to Florida and the first word that came to mind was “dysfunctional.” Not necessarily the game or the coach or the players -- just the whole atmosphere surrounding Georgia football.

It's toxic, confounding, not good. Richt started his third-string quarterback (who threw four interceptions yet was never replaced) and punted with his second-string quarterback. That was only because his starting quarterback -- a transfer by way of Virginia -- hadn't measured up.

What exactly did anyone expect?

Georgia fans don't want to hear this but Richt was missing one of the nation's best running backs (Nick Chubb). They certainly don't want to hear this: Florida won ... by 24 … with its backup quarterback (Treon Harris).

This latest result has to be rubbing Dawg Nation's nose in the obvious. Georgia was favored to win the SEC East in the preseason. Florida all but clinched the SEC East before November. First-year Gators coach Jim McElwain solidified his credentials for SEC Coach of the Year, at least. That's an honor Richt last won a decade ago. It seems longer.

Richt's tormentors deserve to be called out while we're at it. Georgia fans aren't happy unless they're unhappy. They live to be let down. If column inches were wins, Georgia would have retired the national championship trophy. The program is covered closely because there is so much interest. But on a national level, the angst over the Bulldogs has become tedious.

Perhaps the simple reality is that someone has to finish second. During the last nine years that the SEC has dominated college football, Georgia has been a really talented bit player.

UGA led LSU 10-0 after the first quarter of the 2011 SEC title game; the Tigers scored the next 42 points. Georgia came within five yards of an epic upset of Alabama in the same game in 2012.

That wasn't good enough but maybe that's what the program is at the moment -- floating in a nether world with a successful coach who is regularly beaten in big games by coaches who are a tad more successful.

Such is life at the top of the college football food chain. Former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer used to say no matter where you were, they had no use for you after about 10 years. This is Richt's 15th in Athens. He's beaten the Gators just five times in that span. If you aren't going to win league titles, you at least have to beat your rival.

Let's just hope there is some dignity left when the end does come. Richt deserves a classy exit. He is a decent man whose record with misbehaving players is more admirable than most.

The anxiety over change is obvious: There's no guarantee the new guy wins 74 percent of his games and finishes in the top 10 eight times in a 14-year period.

LSU is undefeated this season. Alabama's better and has been for a while. Auburn has gone from national championship to last place and back to a BCS title game. Missouri crashed the SEC East winning two titles, the last in 2014 when Georgia basically gave it away. Florida suffered through the Will Muschamp era and has now surpassed UGA again.

It hurts right now, Dawgs, I know. It hurts bad. But make no mistake, it's over. Richt and Bulldog football cannot keep going through these self-destructive narratives each time a ranked opponent appears on the radar.

For Richt, perhaps that means retirement, but the man is only 55 and has a lot to give. There are going to be plenty of jobs out there. Richt can save face as well as some floundering program.

Miami seems like a good landing spot. Richt is from South Florida. It's certainly easier to win there. The ACC Coastal is the snotty-nosed younger brother of the SEC East.

Be aware: That's a good thing. To repeat, the idea of this separation is for Richt to walk away with his head held high. A flat-out firing seems too crass for a guy who has delivered two SEC titles, six division titles and three BCS bowls.

Let's see if the next guy can do that, especially with the class and consistency Richt did.

To the coach's critics, though, that's what their program was, not what their program is. At the moment, Mark Richt is an iPhone 4 in a 6S world.

For Georgia fans, they'll soon have to find a new use for those flaming message boards. It starts with the words “coaching” and “search.”'

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November 4, 2015
12:52 pm
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Moving on up: 31 college football assistants in line for head coaching jobs

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November 5, 2015
7:28 pm
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Dysfunctional Georgia could be nearing big football changes

1275 441 2 LINKEDIN 26 COMMENTMORE

With Georgia all but eliminated from the SEC East race and more speculation bubbling about the future of head coach Mark Richt, the program appears to be in deep dysfunction and headed for major changes that may or may not involve Richt.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted a story indicating Richt has been given "a directive to fix" the issues within the program that have led to a disappointing 5-3 start and that dissension among members of the coaching staff has been at the root of many problems.

USA TODAY Sports spoke with multiple people who have insight into the situation at Georgia. They spoke on the condition of anonymity and encompass all levels of the college athletics industry from well-connected supporters of the program to agents to search firms.

Those conversations produced the following conclusions:

► Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity favored a coaching change after last season but was overruled by president Jere Morehead. Richt was then given a contract extension. However, McGarity told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday, "There isn't one ounce of truth to that. That is not right."

► Regardless of the ultimate decision on Richt this time, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt almost certainly will not be back, as his relationship with Richt and Georgia administrators has grown toxic.

► Georgia does not have one or two mega-boosters with the influence to make the call on Richt, but the displeasure of the Bulldogs' high-dollar financial supporters has made its way to Morehead's office.

► If Richt stays, it will be with a coaching staff that looks very different as first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has also been viewed as a problem.

It's an untenable situation for any major program, particularly one like Georgia that should be competing for SEC titles annually but has squandered opportunity in the weakened Eastern division over the last few years.

The personality conflict between Pruitt and Richt stands at the center of Georgia's failed season. Pruitt, who came up from the Nick Saban tree and was Jimbo Fisher's defensive coordinator in 2013 at Florida State, was given wide latitude to improve the program from its recruiting operation to autonomy over several coaching hires.

But as Georgia has continued to lose, the intense and brash Pruitt has butted heads with the laid-back Richt, who has never been a fan of the idea that Alabama influence has become pervasive in his program. A lot of the blame internally has also been directed toward offensive line coach Rob Sale, who was hand-picked by Pruitt but has coached a unit that underperformed despite high expectations.

At midday Thursday, Richt tweeted, "Just so everyone knows, Jeremy Pruitt is our defensive coordinator and is in the office working diligently getting ready for Kentucky!"

Many in the industry question whether Georgia will have the stomach to ultimately force out Richt and that it might be better for all parties involved if he chose to walk away after this season. Further complicating matters is the fact that Richt has never before willingly entertained the idea of walking away and that Georgia could potentially bring in the nation's No. 1-ranked recruiting class next year.

If Georgia were to make a change at the top, it would be a highly-coveted job, perhaps even as attractive as the opening at Southern California.

McGarity, who has been Georgia's athletics director since 2010, has never conducted a coaching search of this magnitude. He previously worked under Jeremy Foley at Florida, and it is expected he would lean heavily on Foley's advice should he find himself in the middle of a coaching search.

Multiple people told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity that McGarity has a very high opinion of Mississippi State's Dan Mullen from their time together at Florida. Though that does not necessarily line up with Foley's opinion of Mullen — he was not considered a candidate for the Florida opening after last season — Georgia is a job that worries Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin, according to one person with knowledge.

 

Georgia's search, of course, could go much wider than the SEC. Names like Jimbo Fisher, Dabo Swinney, Mark Dantonio, David Shaw, Jim Mora, Gary Patterson and James Franklin would all come up initially with other potentially available big names like Bill O'Brien certain to be linked with Georgia. There is no guarantee any of those coaches would be interested, that is the kind of list Georgia could and should pursue, according to multiple people in the industry.

Then again, nothing is guaranteed at Georgia, which operates differently than other SEC programs and does not like to be viewed as a cutthroat operation. There is a good chance Georgia could win its final four games and muddle along at 9-3 with no significant victories while further falling behind SEC East rivals Florida and Tennessee.

The next few weeks, and maybe even days, promise to be intense around Athens and will determine the course of potentially the next decade of Georgia football.

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November 5, 2015
8:36 pm
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Coach Richt is a fine man. Maybe too nice to coach at Georgia?

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November 8, 2015
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Let's rank all 10 open college football head coach jobs. Virginia Tech or South Carolina?

Say you're soon to be looking for a head coaching job in college football. You want an FBS job. You want a job at the best available program, where you'll have the resources to win consistently for a long time. Where would you go?

The answer depends in part on your geography and on your system, of course. Whether you're from the Southeast or California or elsewhere will impact things, as will whether you believe you're a fit for an academic power or an NFL Draft factory.

But, all those things being equal, how do you rank all the currently available jobs? Which would you have your agent call first? Three of us have more or less agreed on consensus rankings of all the spots now open, and we'll update it over time as more become available.

There are only 10 right now, and No. 1 is pretty obvious, so how about the next nine?

1. USC

Former coach: Steve Sarkisian

Potential candidates list

Bud: My No. 1 is USC, and I'm not sure we even need to debate it. Conservatively, USC is a top-five job, and following Lane Kiffin and Sark is relatively easy. Plus, that roster is one or two recruiting classes away from being as good as any in the country.

2. Miami

Former coach: Al Golden

Potential candidates list

Steven: All right Bud, I spent a weekend with Luther Campbell last month, and he made his case for why Miami football can and should rise again. So you tell me why it isn't a good job for a top-flight head coaching candidate like Tom Herman or Justin Fuente.

Bud: If Miami can make the money close to South Carolina, it will be my No. 2. Good luck convincing your spouse that accepting $1.5 million less per year is the right move. That's the most important issue here. There's little evidence the program has money. The school is certainly rich, but the athletic department seems like a different story.

Steven: Someone will take the chance. Miami still has the most upside of any open job east of USC.

-- Excerpted from a longer discussion on Miami's unique challenges

3. Virginia Tech

Outgoing coach: Frank Beamer

Potential candidates list

Steven: Beamer created the very concept of "Virginia Tech, successful football team." So congratulations, next coach, you're the guy who follows the guy, and with 2016 games against Notre Dame and Tennessee, you'll be tried early in the court of public opinion.

The upside is good money, administrative support, a strong fan base and a history recruiting the state. Virginia Tech still means something in the Tidewater and D.C. area. Capitalize on that, create a little offenses and you'll have a perennial power-conference contender.

Bud: Virginia Tech pays about what South Carolina pays, offers the chance to work for a respected AD and doesn't have Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in its division. The caveat still applies, though: if Miami finally decides to spend big, it moves up above both the Hokies and Gamecocks on my list.

4. South Carolina

Former coach: Steve Spurrier

Potential candidates list

Bill: You can make a case for South Carolina at No. 2, even over Miami. Spurrier won just enough at South Carolina, and came just close enough to winning more (while going 33-6 from 2011-13, the Cocks lost three games by a total of seven points) to suggest that there isn't much of a ceiling.

Bud: South Carolina paid Spurrier $1.5 million more per year than Miami paid Al Golden and $1.9 million more than Maryland paid Randy Edsall. While a coach might be able to win bigger at Miami, that gap is simply too much to overcome for me. But if the money is even, I'm switching.

5. Maryland

Former coach: Randy Edsall

Potential candidates list

Bill: The biggest question is the difference between potential and production. We hear a lot about the potential of this job, the Under Armour money, the recruiting base, BTN money, etc.

But while UA and BTN are new developments, the recruiting base isn't. And you're still looking at a program that has had a couple of short bursts (1976-78, 1982-85, 2001-03) and little else. If I'm considering that job, I need pretty good answers regarding why no one since Jim Tatum has succeeded long term and why things are different now.

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6. UCF

Former coach: George O'Leary

Possible candidates list

Steven: For a young coach, Central Florida has a better upside than some power programs (Illinois, for example). You can recruit Florida athletes to a Florida FBS school that has a new-ish stadium, strong financial support and a rapidly expanding university with America's largest undergraduate base.

Consider that O'Leary (paid $1.7 million annually, about the same as Tim Beckman at Illinois) won a Fiesta Bowl at UCF; now apply the new AAC blueprint of young, aggressive hires to talent-rich areas like Houston and Memphis. The Knights could be a perennial mid-major power.

Bud: UCF over Minnesota. The money is similar, and the talent around the program is much better.

Bill: I think I would still vote Minnesota over UCF, but I'm okay being overruled.

7. Minnesota

Former coach: Jerry Kill

Potential candidates list

Bill: We're ranking a lot of these programs based on three things: money, access to recruits, and proven ceiling. Minnesota's got the Big Ten money, but there's no all-around talent pipeline, so the Gophers have to go the Wisconsin route in terms of developing talent. Only, Wisconsin has as many 10-win seasons in the last 10 years (six) as Minnesota has in the last 115, as many top-20 finishes in the last 11 years (seven) as Minnesota has in the last 66.

So that's a harder sell. You can win eight games at Minnesota, and you can do it with likable teams, as Kill did. But if you're aiming higher than that, you're going to have to take a serious, Tim Brewster-esque risk. Those backfire a lot.

8. Illinois

Former coach: Tim Beckman

Potential candidates list

Steven: Illinois is a quintessential Big Ten have-not. That means it's got to solve the impossible riddle of recruiting talent to a cold-weather town without having a national brand or the available resources. But hey, it's still a job close to a major media market with plenty of exposure, and the conference TV coffers are only getting fatter.

Bill: Everything I said about Maryland rings true for Illinois, too. The Fighting Illini have BTN money and are near Chicago and St. Louis. They're a sleeping giant!

A sleeping giant that has finished in the AP top 20 four times in 51 years. That's comatose. A great hire could do great things in Champaign. A good hire will probably go 8-5 a couple of times and eventually get fired.

9. North Texas

Former coach: Dan McCarney

Potential candidates list

Steven: There's no rationale for an FBS program in the DFW Metroplex to be this bad, ever. UNT offers great facilities relative to its Conference USA rivals because it's in Texas, where you're building not just to lure recruits, but to stay a step ahead of the high schools they're coming from. Dan McCarney was the fourth-highest paid HC in the C-USA, so the money's there. You're also sitting an interstate exit away from a pile of talent that's deep even after Power 5 programs get theirs.

UNT needs to shake off the PTSD of the Todd Dodge era and go back to Texas. Don't hire a high school coach outright, but copy the Chad Morris SMU blueprint and get a current college assistant who's well connected with local preps.

10. Hawaii

Former coach: Norm Chow

Potential candidates list

Bud: North Texas is the job I'd take if I was super ambitious, but Hawaii offers a much better living situation.

Steven: A college football job in Honolulu means everywhere else is a worse place to live and a better place to work. Budget deficits had the previous UH A.D. openly admitting that football could be shut down. The Rainbow Warriors have little in the way of competitive facilities, and the handful of FBS level talent goes out of state. The next head coach will have to recruit at level heretofore unseen and build a staff with no financial support.

Outside of Idaho, Hawaii is the most foreboding job in the FBS.

Individual rankings

  Bill Bud Godfrey
1 USC USC USC
2 Miami Virginia Tech Miami
3 South Carolina South Carolina Virginia Tech
4 Virginia Tech Miami South Carolina
5 Maryland Maryland Maryland
6 Minnesota UCF Central Florida
7 UCF Minnesota Minnesota
8 Illinois Illinois Illinois
9 North Texas Hawaii North Texas
10 Hawaii North Texas Hawaii
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November 11, 2015
9:26 am
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mariocristobalImage Enlarger

 

Sources tell FootballScoop that Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal is “at the top of the list” for Miami and that discussions have taken place between representatives on each side.

Our source was unable to say whether Cristobal is alone at the top of the list or not but it is clear there is real interest from The U on this one, and that aligns with what local high school coaches think would be a good hire for Miami. 247 sports asked a number of local high school coaches who they felt Miami should hire and there was strong support for Cristobal.

This time, it sounds like Miami is on the right trail.

Formerly the head coach at FIU, Cristobal would bring local relationships back onto campus and is widely seen as someone who could resurrect that confidence that once shined brightly in south Florida.

As we wrote at the time of Al Golden’s departure:

“Its hard to imagine that Mario Cristobal doesn’t get a great look at it. Miami isn’t a learn as you go type of job. The U needs a leader. We suspect the next head coach will be a current or former head coach with significant ties to the area. The next head coach needs not only to recruit locally; but has to understand the local “politics.” The U doesn’t have unlimited financial resources; but if the next head coach can get things rolling, the kindle is ready to burn. Strike a match and bring the good times back to the U!”

Sources in the profession tell us coaches have been letting Cristobal know that if he gets the job, they want in on his staff.

As always, as more becomes clear, we’ll keep you posted on The Scoop.

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November 26, 2015
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SI's Andy Staples picks the perfect coach for every opening:

http://www.campusrush.com/coll.....20100.html

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November 29, 2015
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BamaBooster said
SI's Andy Staples picks the perfect coach for every opening:

http://www.campusrush.com/coll.....20100.html

Regarding Les Miles---first you gotta remember that the LSU AD is the dumb Joe Alleva--the guy who told Duke lacrosse coach Pressler, when he pointed out that the lax hoax was just that and that the players were totally innocent in 2006, that "It's not about the truth." Duke's gain in losing Alleva was LSU's loss. Alleva is best at letting his drunk kid drive a speedboat and get a DUI ticket. Stupid. Go to Notre Dame, Alleva.

Alleva tells Coach Miles after Texas A&M victory that he is staying at LSU as coach.
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November 29, 2015
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Mark Richt of Georgia fired. A very good man. Best of luck, Coach Richt.

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November 30, 2015
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Wishbone said
Mark Richt of Georgia fired. A very good man. Best of luck, Coach Richt.

UGA moves ‘all about Kirby Smart’

Latest from Chip Towers
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    Hiring Mark RiATHENS — As much as Mark Richt’s dismissal was about what went wrong with him at Georgia, it was also about who might be available to replace him. And by all accounts, the primary target is Kirby Smart.
Word in the coaching ranks is this is the year that Smart, Alabama’s longtime defensive coordinator, is finally ready to leave the shelter and comfort of Nick Saban’s coaching staff for a head coaching job of his own. He had been approached by Virginia Tech about its vacancy — recently filled by Justin Fuente of Memphis — and, in the last couple of weeks, has become a primary target of South Carolina.

In all, there are more than a dozen head coaching vacancies in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks. It was not until late Saturday night that it was determined that Les Miles would be back at LSU. But significant movement is expected in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Smart is a UGA alumnus and football letterman. He played defensive back for the Bulldogs from 1995-98, serving as team captain his senior season. He was running backs coach at Georgia for one season for Richt (2005) but has been at Alabama with Saban since 2007, the last eight seasons as defensive coordinator. The Crimson Tide has won three national championships during that time.

A native of Bainbridge, Smart has long recruited the state of Georgia with great success and is familiar with the SEC. At 39, he is at the optimum age to make the transition to being a head coach. Persons close to the Georgia football program who are acquaintances with Smart said the Bulldogs could not afford to sit by idly as “one of their own” took another head coaching job, possibly with a rival program.

Said one source with knowledge of the situation, “this was all about Kirby.”

Should Smart choose to come, it’s thought he might bring some other UGA lettermen with him. Travis Jones is assistant head coach and defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp reportedly could be approached about returning to Athens.

But there’s no guarantee the Bulldogs would get Smart. Some at Georgia are concerned that he could decide to remain at Alabama with the hopes of succeeding the 64-year old Saban.

If Smart was unavailable, Dan Mullen is considered by several other knowledgeable insiders as a viable option. Mullen and Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity remain close friends after spending a great deal of time together at Florida. McGarity was associate AD for 18 years and was there while Mullen was working as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator.

Unlike Smart, Mullen is proven as a head coach — he’s 54-35 in seven seasons at Mississippi State. He’s considered easy to work with and would bring a spread-option offensive attack to Athens.

Other possible candidates include:

  • Mike Bobo, the Bulldogs’ longtime offensive coordinator, who just completed his first regular season as head coach at Colorado State (7-5);
  • Charlie Strong, the Texas head coach, who has struggled some with the Longhorns but who also has a relationship with McGarity from Florida;
  • Tom Herman, the first-year Houston head coach out of Ohio State.

But all indications are Kirby Smart is who the Bulldogs want and who they will go after first.

Read More:

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November 30, 2015
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Virginia Tech gets Memphis coach Justin Fuente, with Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster remaining:

http://www.cbssports.com/colle.....r-on-staff

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Dr. Saturday

USC strips interim tag, names Clay Helton its new head coach

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Dr. Saturday
 
 
USC has hired interim coach Clay Helton to be the team’s permanent head coach, the school confirmed Monday.

"After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates, and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives, and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us," USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. "Choosing a coach is an inexact science. In Clay's case, there is exactness. We have a man with unquestioned integrity. He is a fantastic person and he is real. Clay is a leader of young men. He is a terrific communicator. He brings high character, stability, continuity, consistency, toughness and resiliency to our program.
 
"We have known Clay well for the past six years. He earned this opportunity. He has been positive and upbeat handling adversity. He was built to be a head coach. Football is his family business. He is a coach on the rise and he will be coaching a team on the rise. As our interim head coach, Clay brought back USC's style of physical football. I have been impressed with how hard and how inspired our team has played for him, as well as the support they have shown for him.
"Clay was not hired because his team defeated UCLA Saturday. He was not hired because many current and former players voiced their support for him. And he was not hired because he is a Trojan. He is our choice because we believe he can win Pac-12 and national championships here. Clay Helton is the right man at the right time for the USC football program."

Helton took over for Steve Sarkisian in October and has gone 5-2 in the seven games since. The Trojans rebounded from 3-2 start to finish the season as the Pac-12 South champion. It will play Stanford in the title game on Saturday.

Players had been championing Helton for the job for weeks and while Pat Haden had been mum on his coaching search — there were rumors he was courting Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles — it was clear the players' calls for Helton did not fall on deaf ears.

"We want Coach Helton, plain and simple, we don't need to meet with Pat Haden, he knows we want Coach Helton, the way he's got this team back together … everybody on this team would give an arm and a leg for Coach Helton," linebacker Su'a Cravens told the L.A. Times. "Now we take it personally, Helton's job being on the line is making us fight even harder." Perhaps Helton’s biggest selling point was last week’s 40-21 win over UCLA, the Trojans’ first win against their rivals in four seasons.

Helton has served two interim head coaching stints with the Trojans and is 6-2 overall. His only two losses are to Notre Dame and an Oregon team that is playing as well as any program in the country.

USC has not yet announced the specifics of Helton deal.

For more USC news, visit TrojanSports.com.

- - - - - - -

Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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December 1, 2015
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Uninspiring Hire of Clay Helton Says Plenty About USC Under Pat Haden

When Pat Haden returned to USC to be its athletic director, it was universally hailed as a stunningly respectable move for an athletic department that had been lax on making good decisions the past few years under former AD Mike Garrett.

The golden prodigy was returning to Troy, a former Trojans quarterback coming home ready to clean up a mess with the NCAA and return the program to the glory years of double-digit wins and Rose Bowl berths on the gridiron. Haden ticked every box when it came to his qualifications, bringing with him an unquestioned resume that would later be deemed so inspiring that he was tapped to be on the first-ever College Football Playoff selection committee.

Five years in, however, one of the most accomplished USC alumni to ever don the cardinal and gold has turned into an unquestioned flop in his role as athletic director. While Haden spent years in and around college athletics, his lack of prior athletic-director experience has shown up time and time again during his tenure in Los Angeles.

That was certainly the case Monday morning, when the school surprisingly announced it was removing the interim tag from Clay Helton's title and giving him the permanent gig as USC head coach.

Haden said in a release:

We have known Clay well for the past six years. He earned this opportunity. He has been positive and upbeat handling adversity. He was built to be a head coach. Football is his family business. He is a coach on the rise and he will be coaching a team on the rise. As our interim head coach, Clay brought back USC's style of physical football. I have been impressed with how hard and how inspired our team has played for him, as well as the support they have shown for him.

Clay was not hired because his team defeated UCLA Saturday. He was not hired because many current and former players voiced their support for him. And he was not hired because he is a Trojan. He is our choice because we believe he can win Pac-12 and national championships here. Clay Helton is the right man at the right time for the USC football program.

Helton is a good man who has stuck with the program through thick and thin ever since arriving six years ago to be Lane Kiffin's quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator (in title only, mind you). He's done well in his two stints as the interim coach and has gotten key support from the current players and administrators as well as a handful of boosters.

 It remains to be seen just how well his tenure at Troy will go, but at the very least, Helton is somebody who certainly gives the program something that has been lacking around the John McKay Center and Heritage Hall: an adult in charge. On the other hand, only Dabo Swinney at Clemson has truly worked out well as a case study in elevating the interim coach.

It could work. It could turn out to be just what USC needs.

But on November 30, at least, the move to tap Helton permanently is uninspiring at best. It all reeks of desperation on Haden's part after conducting a coaching search that was quieter than parents putting Christmas presents under the tree as Santa.

 Haden added in his statement:

After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates, and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives, and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us. Choosing a coach is an inexact science. In Clay's case, there is exactness.

In many ways, all USC did was punt on 4th-and-short.

Helton did beat banged-up rival UCLA (something Ed Orgeron and Steve Sarkisian could not do) and a Utah team that was at the time ranked in the Top Five. But he also failed to beat any other team of note in that time span, and USC got drubbed by Oregon in Eugene and was downed by Notre Dame as well. While he handled the job well enough to likely get hired elsewhere this offseason, going 5-2 with the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 shouldn't put him at the top of the list to take over one of the three best jobs in college football.

For a blueblood program that has as easy a path to the national championship as any, that says plenty about the state of Troy under Haden's leadership as of late.

Many boosters and former players publicly and privately questioned whether Haden was the right man to make the hire this time around, and they will surely have been proved right by this move. Haden is the highest-paid athletic director in the country, and with the marquee football program he's A) hired a former USC assistant without proper vetting (Sarkisian) and B) removed an interim tag.

 Toss in the bizarre display of coming down from the booth and arguing with an official during a game against Stanford, firing Lane Kiffin at the airport and botching moves left and right this season, and you can understand why Haden may not be in his current role for much longer.

Being an athletic director is a tough job, and only a handful of people can push all the right buttons with every move. It didn't help Haden, however, that the difference between being a good AD and a mediocre one was on full display for the country to see in a 24-hour period.

At Virginia Tech, Whit Babcock proved to be decisive in his move to land Justin Fuente to take over for Frank Beamer. With the latter's retirement handled in a very classy manner to close out the season, Babcock identified a top candidate, aggressively pursued him and then locked Fuente down Sunday so no other school could hire him at the last minute.

It was a great example of a home run hire. Heck, even Iowa State's Jamie Pollard, who has had his misses in the job recently, emerged with arguably a better-received head coach in Toledo's Matt Campbell than Haden did.

Instead, Haden followed a tactic to find his next head coach employed not by Texas, Georgia, Florida or others, but by Illinois. That, my friends, says plenty.

USC has all the tools in place to return to the top of the Pac-12 and make waves nationally again. Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuster are two of the most exciting players in the sport. Ronald Jones II looks like the next great tailback to wear the Trojans uniform. The facilities are in place at USC like no other time in the school's history, and the Southern California recruiting ground is as fertile as ever.

Helton may well get the Trojans back to the promised land. He can start this Saturday with a win over Stanford to get to the Rose Bowl.

But make no mistake—the hire of Helton says plenty about what the school wants to be under its current athletic director. USC didn't just fail to land a big name or find the right fit; it decided to underwhelm and conduct business as usual.

Instead of seizing the moment and ushering in a new era with a head coach who has the acumen, record and stature that the top-five job deserves, Pat Haden decided the status quo in Los Angeles was fine by him.

Not quite the return to glory many expected five years ago.

 

Bryan Fischer is a national college football columnist at Bleacher Report. You can follow him at @BryanDFischer.

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December 4, 2015
5:56 pm
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WoodyHayes5
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Biletnikoff Award voter Tom Fornelli: Close call for Miles and Fisher apparently was ready to go to LSU.

http://www.cbssports.com/colle.....as-am-game

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December 5, 2015
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The loudmouth idiot Ruffin McNeill who lost his cool because Justin Hardy was not selected as a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist last year has been fired from ECU. When you get fired from that job, you are a pitiful coach.

East Carolina fires coach Ruffin McNeill

 

In a surprise move, East Carolina announced Friday it has fired football coach Ruffin McNeill.

The well-liked McNeill posted records of 8-5, 10-3 and 8-5 from 2012-14, including three consecutive bowl games, but backslid to 5-7 this year.

In the school's announcement athletics director Jeff Compher noted that ECU is just 8-8 in league play since joining the American Athletic Conference. Compher said in the release “our expectations are to compete for championships.”

McNeill, 57, took over in 2010 after Skip Holtz left for South Florida, and after serving as Texas Tech’s interim coach in the 2009 Alamo Bowl.

His best year was 2014, when the combination of quarterback Shane Carden, receiver Justin Hardy and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley helped the Pirates spend five weeks in the Top 25. Carden set the school’s career passing yardage record and Hardy became the NCAA’s record-holder for receptions.

But when those two players graduated and Riley went to Oklahoma as offensive coordinator, East Carolina took a step back this year.

McNeill's contract ran through June 30, 2018.

 

As a buyout, he is owed his $400,000 annual base salary over the remaining term, subject to his obligation to mitigate the school's obligation by getting another job. The school is to pay him over the remaining term in equal semi-monthly installments, but the income from the new job will offset what ECU owes him.

For now, ECU owes McNeill a little more than $1.03 million.

Contributing: Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY Sports; The Associated Press

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December 5, 2015
11:40 am
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Dr. Saturday

Virginia hires BYU's Bronco Mendenhall as head coach

 
 
BYU is also facing a limited candidate pool for its next head coach based off university policy that dictates a head coach be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Well this one came out of nowhere. Virginia has hired BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall as its next head coach, the school announced Friday.Mendenhall has been the head coach at BYU since 2005 and has amassed a 99-42 overall record, including five straight seasons with at least eight wins. Mendenhall led the Cougars to a bowl game in all 11 seasons with the program.“Bronco Mendenhall’s teams have consistently won at a high level and he’s demonstrated the ability to create a strategic vision to build a program and then implement his plan to be successful,” Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a statement. “His emphasis on the overall development of student athletes and a commitment to academic achievement is in line with our goals of Uncompromised Excellence. We’re excited to begin a new era of Virginia football and support Bronco and his staff.”Virginia announced that it has agreed to a five-year agreement with Mendenhall that includes “an annual compensation starting at $3.25 million.”“I wish to express my appreciation to President Teresa Sullivan, Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage and Executive Associate Athletics Director Jon Oliver for their belief and trust in me to lead and guide the football program at the University of Virginia,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “Professionally and personally I seek to embrace the highest standards in college sports, on and off the field, and I love the high standards both academically and athletically at Virginia. I am excited to not only help provide the continual growth and development of the student athletes academically but also reestablish Virginia as a consistent winner with a fiercely competitive and winning product on the football field. “BYU has played the pivotal role in my professional and personal life and I will be forever indebted to the outstanding young men and exceptional people I have had the opportunity to work with at BYU. My success at BYU was possible because these great people chose the phenomenal, unique and faith-based experience available at BYU.”Before he takes over at Virginia, Mendenhall will stay with BYU to coach the team in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 19. Before he assumed the head coaching duties at BYU in 2005, Mendenhall served as the Cougars’ defensive coordinator for two seasons in 2003 and 2004. Before that, he had stints as a defensive assistant at New Mexico, Louisiana Tech, Oregon State, Northern Arizona, and Snow College.As a player, Mendenhall, a defensive back, began his career at Snow College, a junior college in Utah, before playing his final two seasons at Oregon State.


Mendenhall replaces Mike London, who resigned following the Cavaliers’ season finale. London had a 27-46 record, including 14-34 in ACC play, in his six seasons leading the program.

The Cavaliers went 4-8 this season.

For more Virginia news, visit CavsCorner.com.

For more BYU news, visit CougarNation.com.

- - - - - - -

Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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December 7, 2015
4:39 pm
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South Carolina should do better than hire as head coach Will Muschamp.

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