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Pac-12 Notes

January 19th

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Composite (eight sites) Preseason Top 25 rankings includes four CU 2020 opponents

From the Sporting News … Way-too-early top 25 lists are the only way to start the upcoming college football season.

Sporting News has already released its top 25 for 2020, but we weren’t the only one. AthlonBleacher ReportCBS SportsESPNSports IllustratedStadium and USA Today have submitted way-too-early entries as well.

Those lists revealed that the only team everyone could agree on for 2020 is Clemson, a unanimous No. 1 selection across all eight sets of rankings. The Tigers return junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence and should be in the mix for another Playoff berth next season. Ohio State, which lost to the Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal, is the consensus No. 2, garnering six second-place votes.

The rest of the rankings reflect a few surprises. So SN wanted to determine a consensus top 25, using all eight publications’ rankings in that endeavor. We used an inverse scoring method (awarding 25 points to a No. 1 selection, 24 for a No. 2 selection, all the way down to one point for a No. 25 selection) to determine the highest possible score for each school. Clemson garnered the maximum 200 points.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the composite way-too-early top 25 for 2020:

Composite top 25 preseason college football rankings

RankTeamTotalHighLow
1Clemson20011
2Ohio State19023
3Alabama18324
4LSU171310
5Oklahoma15958
6Florida148610
7Oregon148511
8Georgia145213
9Penn State142512
10Notre Dame130815
11Auburn107516
12Wisconsin1011018
13Texas A&M906N/R
14Michigan881220
15Minnesota7511N/R
16Texas691324
17Cincinnati5612N/R
18Oklahoma State5013N/R
19Boise State4217N/R
20USC4114N/R
21Iowa State3410N/R
22Memphis3415N/R
23North Carolina3019N/R
24Iowa2910N/R
25Arizona State2118N/R

Others receiving votes: Baylor 19; Louisville 17; UCF 16; Utah 14.5; Virginia Tech 10.5; TCU 9; Washington 8; Virginia 3; Florida State 3; Cal 3; Purdue 2; Tennessee 1; Ole Miss 1

USA Today mock draft: Laviska Shenault one of three Pac-12 players on the list

From the USA Today … College football’s bowl season ended with quite the crescendo — particularly for fans of talent-starved NFL teams.

LSU’s win over Clemson for the national championship marked the end of illustrious collegiate careers for several players, but the game also reinforced that many of the participants will play prominent roles in the upcoming draft process. And while several of the stars (including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, wide receiver Justyn Ross and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.) aren’t yet eligible to make the jump, many are poised to create a significant buzz in the coming months as they prepare for their pro careers.

Here’s USA TODAY Sports’ latest first-round mock draft after the title game:

6. Chargers — Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: As arguably the top prospect at the Senior Bowl this week, Herbert could amplify the buzz surrounding him by showing off his considerable physical tools. The Chargers have to be thinking about their future at quarterback — be it in the near or long term — as they move into their new digs, and the 6-6, 237-pound signal-caller has the downfield throwing aptitude to take advantage of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

22. Bills — Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado: If Josh Allen’s devil-may-care approach is to be harnessed into a more tenable style of play, the quarterback needs a well-built receiver on the outside. Enter Shenault, a dynamic threat who’s tough to bring down in the open field and would be an intriguing piece for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

25. Vikings — Austin Jackson, OT, USC: Minnesota’s meltdown against the 49ers reinforced that the offensive line has to be addressed in some form. The biggest shortcomings are on the interior, but drafting Jackson could still allow for a reshuffling, particularly if Riley Reiff moves to guard.

Read full story here

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January 17th

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USC may lose OC Graham Harrell to the NFL

From USCTrojans.com … USC head coach Clay Helton might have another coordinator hire on his plate.

USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is reportedly interviewing with the Philadelphia Eagles about their vacant offensive coordinator position. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer was the first to report the interview.

The former Texas Tech QB was a hot comidty for other teams back in December, linked to the open OC position at the University of Texas and the head coaching jobs at UNLV and UTSA. But USC managed to sign Harrell to a three-year contract extension back on Dec. 16, which bumped his salary to $1.2 million per season.

“Excited to be apart of this great university, apart of the Trojan Family. It’s a really special place. We’ve built something special here,” said Harrell in a video released by USC at the time. “Excited to compete one more time with the team that we have coming back at the Holiday Bowl, hope to see you there. And moving forward we’ve laid the foundation to compete for championships, not only at the Pac-12 level but at the national level….can’t wait to continue what we’ve started. Fight On!”

Helton is still in the midst of trying to fill the defensive coordinator position after letting go Clancy Pendergast following the team’s 49-24 loss in the Holiday Bowl. Helton lost his last offensive coordinator, Kliff Kingsbury, to the NFL head coaching ranks just weeks after he signed with the Trojans. Kingsbury led the Arizona Cardinals to an 5-10-1 in Year 1 with his Air Raid concepts.

Continue reading story here

Pac-12 2020 scheduling – Pac-12 press release 

From the Pac-12 … The Pac-12 Conference announced today its 2020 football schedule that pairs a competitive nine-game Conference schedule with a non-conference slate that includes eight contests against five different FBS teams that won 10 or more games during the 2019 season, plus FCS champion North Dakota State and its perfect 16-0 record.

In addition, the 2020 schedule includes 15 games against teams who won eight or more games last season, with five games against teams that finished the 2019 season ranked among the Top 20 – CFP semifinalist No. 3 Ohio State, No. 8 Alabama, No. 12 Notre Dame (twice) and No. 18 Michigan.

A total of 17 games will be against teams who participated in the 2019 bowl season, while the 2020 docket features four games against the Big 12, two more against the Big Ten, Notre Dame and BYU, and one against the SEC.

The 2020 football season is set to open on Saturday, August 29, as ARIZONA hosts Hawai’i, UCLA entertains New Mexico State and CALIFORNIA travels to UNLV for the first college game to be played in Las Vegas’ new Allegiant Stadium, site of the 2020 Pac-12 Football Championship Game.

Week one will feature seven Power 5 opponents who combined to go 61-43 (.586) last season (BYU at UTAH, OREGON STATE at Oklahoma State, USC vs. Alabama, Michigan at WASHINGTON, UCLA at Hawai’i, COLORADO at Colorado State, TCU at CALIFORNIA, WASHINGTON STATE at Utah State), plus FCS Champion North Dakota State at OREGON.

Pac-12 play gets started in week two as STANFORD visits ARIZONA, while defending Pac-12 Champion OREGON hosts defending Big Ten Champion Ohio State in what could be a matchup between a pair of Top 10 ranked teams.

In keeping with tradition, Conference rivalry games will be played over the last two weeks of the season, followed by the Pac-12 Football Championship Game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., on Friday, December 4.

The schedule includes seven Friday Conference games and one Thursday Conference game. The road team for the Friday game is assured of a home game the preceding Saturday, while both teams playing on Thursday will have a bye the preceding Saturday. All 12 Conference teams will make an appearance on either Thursday or Friday during the 2020 Conference season.

A combination of the ESPN channels, ABC, FOX and FOX Sports 1 will broadcast 45 games nationally, including the Pac-12 Championship Game, and Pac-12 Networks will offer 35 games to a national audience. Exact broadcast schedules will be determined at a later date.

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January 16th

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Quirks and qualms concerning the Pac-12 conference scheduling

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12 waited until the 16th day of 2020 to release the football schedule for 2020.

The extra time gave the conference a chance to inject as much competitive balance as possible into the master grid.

Scheduling is like officiating: No crew gets every call right, and no schedule will meet the same degree of difficulty for every team.

The key in both endeavors is avoiding egregious mistakes.

Pac-12 officials did that in the national championship, and the conference did it again with the 2020 master schedule.

Several teams face more challenging stretches than others, but it’s all within a reasonable range.

*** Early obstacles: Stanford (of course)

The conference opener is Sept. 12. For a change, it’s not Stanford-USC. Instead, the Cardinal visits Tucson.

It returns home the following week to host USC — meaning Stanford will have played two conference games before most teams will have played any.

*** Road B2Bs: Eight teams

Stanford, Washington, Arizona and USC avoid playing conference road games on consecutive weeks.

Everyone else faces the challenge once.

*** Dastardly double: Arizona State

There is only once instance of a team playing back-to-back conference road games, with second against a home team that will have had two weeks to prepare.

Arizona State visits Boulder on Oct. 24, then heads to Pullman for a date on Halloween. The Cougars will have been off for two weeks.

Utah faces a similar predicament, except the first of the back-to-back road games is at Wyoming. The following week, the Utes play in Berkeley.

*** Toughest September: USC

The Trojans open against Alabama in Arlington, host New Mexico, then head to Stanford and close the month against Arizona State — three high-level games.

Stanford plays three conference games in September, which is a challenge — but nothing like facing Alabama.

Continue reading story here

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January 15th

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Jon Wilner’s “Way-Too-Early” Top 25 includes four CU 2020 opponents

From the San Jose Mercury NewsNote: Teams slotted for the top third are expected to finish with zero, one or two losses; teams in the middle third are likely to lose two or three games; teams in the bottom third are headed for three or four (perhaps even five) losses. Because that’s generally how the math works, every year.

9. Oregon: The Ducks will be loaded on defense with nine returnees and several elite freshmen. But there are questions across the offense, which loses four starters on the line, must replace quarterback Justin Herbert and again looks wobbly at receiver. And the a schedule, with Ohio State visiting in Week Two, doesn’t lend itself to 11 or 12 wins.

14. Texas A&M: With three Jimbo Fisher recruiting classes fortifying the roster and quarterback Kellen Bond back for another season, the Aggies are set up for success. Their chief obstacle is the division in which they play.

18. USC: The attrition (i.e., transfers) could be significant. But for now, the Trojans have the best roster in the Pac-12 South with 18 returning starters and the returnees from the days Clay Helton could recruit effectively. The defensive coordinator hire is key — in the right hands, the unit could be top-notch.

21. Cal: The defense should be stout despite the departure of Evan Weaver, and the offense should be productive enough under new coordinator Bill Musgrave — so long as oft-injured quarterback Chase Garbers is not oft-injured. (Note … CU doesn’t play Cal next fall).

24. Arizona State: The team we saw in the Sun Bowl must find playmakers to replace Eno Benjamin and Brandon Aiyuk, but the combination of a veteran defense and quarterback Jayden Daniels should enable ASU to contend in the wide open Pac-12 South.

Read full list here

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January 14th

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Mike Bohn cleaning house: USC fires senior associates

From reignoftroy.com … It has been months since new USC athletic director Mike Bohn was brought in, and almost a year since the Varsity Blues scandal rocked the Trojans. Now things are starting to really move.

USC has fired COO/CFO Steve Lopes, Trojan Athletic Fund senior associate athletic director Ron Orr and associate athletic director Scott Jacobson, according to a report from the LA Times’ Ryan Kartje.

“The [LA Times] has learned their firings involve concerns over past scandals, including the Varsity Blues admissions scandal,” Kartje revealed in an additional tweet.

This news is a long time coming. Athletic director Lynn Swann stepped down from his post this past fall, but the arrival of a new AD came along with the underlying expectation of massive staff changes in the athletic department.

Cleaning house has certainly been needed. The Varsity Blues scandal was more or less the final straw. A USC athletics department official was accused of falsifying athletics profiles to get the children of wealthy parents admitted into the university through back channels, a scam involving numerous other coaches and officials.

Even if the firings were linked solely to the Varsity Blues scandal, it makes sense for Bohn and company to start fresh without the old guard who had been so tainted by perceived incompetence.

New WSU Coach Nick Rolovich: Meetings with Leach and Dan Hawkins helped to pave his road to Pullman

From CougFan.com … Nick Rolovich, the new head coach of Washington State’s pass-happy Cougars, once ran a balanced, 50/50 offense at Hawaii but after a disappointing 2017 season in which his Hawaii Rainbow Warriors went 3-9, he decided it was time for a change. “We just weren’t excited. It wasn’t exciting to play in, it wasn’t exciting to watch,” he told Chantel Jennings of The Athletic in a fabulous December 2018 story you can read here ($).

So Rolovich, who once quarterbacked the Warriors when June Jones was the air-it-out run-and-shoot-coach, decided it was time to go aerial early and often.

The results have been impressive over the last two seasons, but from a WSU perspective, the story takes on greater intrigue. Wrote Jennings:

To gain insight into the offensive mindset, Rolovich decided he would meet with Washington State coach Mike Leach, lover of the Air Raid and someone who easily dismisses any critics or noise around his play calling or offensive decisions. And for the culture shift — on the referral of his former QB coach, Dan Morrison — Rolovich decided he would sit down with UC Davis head coach Dan Hawkins, who was at Boise State in its early days as an FBS program, helping build the foundation for what the Broncos’ program has become.

Today, he credits the turnaround of this program — sitting on an 8-5 record, its best since 2010 — with the changes that came as a result of those two very different meetings.

Continue reading story here

CBS “Way-Too-Early” Top 25 includes three CU 2020 opponents

From CBS Sports … Win or lose Monday, Clemson was going to win as the Tigers have enough returning talent from a 14-1 runner-up national title team to start 2020 where they started 2019: No. 1. Don’t act like you’re surprised. Clemson is still a budding dynasty with 29 wins in the last seasons and 69 and in the last five.

Welcome to the Way-Too-Early Power Rankings for the 151st season of college football.

We choose to remember that, prior to Monday, Clemson had outscored its opponents by more points (473) than 109 teams had scored, period. The NFL mandates quarterback Trevor Lawrence has another year of eligibility remaining, which automatically means the Tigers will be a factor.

There have been six College Football Playoffs. Clemson has been a part of five of them. Get ready for another orange, paw-printed playoff run.

As far as how the rest will fall in line, let’s take a look at the early preseason top 25.

CU 2020 opponents … 

No. 7 – Oregon … The Ducks are back where they were under Chip Kelly after a Rose Bowl win. That’s right — at the top of the Pac-12 and competing for a national championship or, in this case, a College Football Playoff spot. Mario Cristobal has to find a replacement for Justin Herbert, but the philosophy is clear: beat up the opposition. These Ducks could compete favorably in the SEC. Cristobal has landed another top-10 recruiting class.

No. 13 – Texas A&M … At some point, Aggies everywhere will demand a return on their $75 million investment. That’s how much Jimbo Fisher is earning in his guaranteed 10-year contract. Two years into it, Fisher is 17-9. Texas A&M dropped from a second-place tie in the SEC West to fourth place in 2019. After a brutal schedule, the Aggies have loads of veteran talent returning and Kellen Mond has improved as a passer.

No. 24 – Arizona State … The Sun Devils should be a challenger for the Pac-12 South. Herm Edwards has done what Todd Graham could not: recruit California. Fourteen starters return, including budding quarterback Jaylen Daniels. Edwards must find a new defensive coordinator for the departed Danny Gonzales. Not to gush, but Edwards’ emphasis on physicality reminds me of the early USC days of Pete Carroll.

Read full list here

Report: Washington State to hire Hawai’i coach Nick Rolovich 

From ESPN … Washington State is set to name Hawai’i’s Nick Rolovich as its next coach, a source told ESPN.

He is expected to sign a five-year deal worth approximately $3 million annually, a source told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.

Rolovich guided the Rainbow Warriors to a 10-win season in 2019 and compiled a 28-27 record during his four-year stint as the program’s coach. Hawai’i lost to Boise State in the Mountain West title game this season and beat BYU in the Sofi Hawai’i Bowl.

The deal, which was first reported by The Athletic, was not finalized as of Monday night.

Rolovich, 40, will replace Mike Leach, who was named coach at Mississippi State on Thursday. Leach went 55-47 in his eight seasons in Pullman and took the Cougars to a school-record five consecutive bowl games over the past five seasons. After a school-record 11-win season and a No. 10 national ranking in 2018, the Cougars went 6-7 in 2019, capped by a 31-21 loss to Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl.

Prior to taking over at Hawai’i, Rolovich spent four seasons as offensive coordinator at Nevada, and operates an offense that has a lot of similarities to the Air Raid scheme Leach is famous for. The Rainbow Warriors averaged 471 yards of offense per game in 2019, and had the country’s No. 5-ranked passing attack (337.1). Over the past two seasons, Washington State was the only team in the country that attempted more passes than Hawai’i.

Rolovich grew up in Northern California and played quarterback at City College of San Francisco before finishing his collegiate career at Hawai’i.

Continue reading story here

Final AP poll – Only two Pac-12 teams make the list

… Only two Pac-12 teams in final poll, but four others in the “others receiving votes” category … 

From ESPN …  LSU finished No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the third time in school history, with Clemson No. 2 and Ohio State No. 3.

The Tigers (15-0) beat Clemson 42-25 in the national championship game Monday night and then received all 62 first-place votes from the media panel in the season’s final Top 25 presented by Regions Bank.

LSU was No. 1 for the final eight weeks of the season and set a record by beating seven teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game. Miami in 1987 and Alabama in 2015 each beat five teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of their games.

Georgia, LSU’s Southeastern Conference rival, was fourth and Pac-12 champion Oregon was fifth. Florida was sixth and Oklahoma, which made the playoff, was seventh.

Alabama finished eighth, its lowest final ranking since 2010, giving the SEC four of the top 10. It’s the fifth time one conference has had four teams in the final top 10, and fourth for the SEC.

No. 9 Penn State and No. 10 Minnesota gave the Big Ten three teams in the top 10.

Navy finished No. 20 and Air Force was ranked No. 22, marking the first time two service academies were in the final AP poll of the season since 1958.

1. LSU (62) 15-0
2. Clemson 14-1

3. Ohio State 13-1
4. Georgia 12-2
5. Oregon 12-2
6. Florida 11-2
7. Oklahoma 12-2
8. Alabama 11-2
9. Penn State 11-2
10. Minnesota 11-2
11. Wisconsin 10-4
12. Notre Dame 11-2
13. Baylor 11-3
14. Auburn 9-4
15. Iowa 10-3
16. Utah 11-3
17. Memphis 12-2
18. Michigan 9-4
19. Appalachian State 13-1
20. Navy 11-2
21. Cincinnati 11-3
22. Air Force 11-2
23. Boise State 12-2
24. UCF 10-3
25. Texas 8-5

Others receiving votes: Texas A&M 54 (2020 CU opponent), Florida Atlantic 46, Washington 39, Virginia 28, USC 16, San Diego State 13, Arizona State 12, SMU 10, Tennessee 8, California 6, Kentucky 2, Louisiana 2, Kansas State 2, Louisiana Tech 2, North Dakota State 2

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January 13th

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USC mega-booster on state of Trojan program: “Dogsh*t”

From USC Football.com … On Monday night former USC assistant and interim head coach Ed Orgeron will be playing for the college football national championship. Orgeron’s LSU Tigers will be taking on the Clemson Tigers in New Orleans with a chance to bring the first football title to Baton Rouge since 2007.

Saturday night in New Orleans Ed Orgeron was accepting the 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America. During his acceptance speech Orgeron thanked his assistant coaches and his Heisman winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Orgeron also thanked his family before turning his attention to USC mega-booster Brian Kennedy.

Kennedy is the CEO of Regency Outdoor Advertising and his name is on one of the USC football practice fields (Howard Jones Field/Brian Kennedy Field).

… Kennedy was one of the USC supporters that wanted to see Orgeron promoted from interim head coach to permanent head coach back in 2013.

“It was heartbreaking, especially for the players,” Kennedy recalled. “I don’t know if you know this or not, but the players went out there before the UCLA game because they knew he wouldn’t get a job and they went out there and formed a great big ‘O’ in the middle of the field.

“The kids did not want to play. I heard from the locker room that they threatened the revoke of scholarships if they didn’t go out on the field. They loved him that much. That tells you something about him.”

When Kennedy was asked about the state of the USC program right now, he did not mince words.

“Dogshit,” he said. “That’s the best way I can say it. Listen, they had the best guy in the world for it.”

Continue reading story here

 

247 Sports “Way-Too-Early” Top 25 includes three Pac-12 South teams

From 247 Sports … Don’t tell Clemson coach Dabo Swinney rankings don’t matter.

He vouched for respect all season for his defending national champion football team, except in the preseason.

“Unless they bring us a trophy and tear the concrete out over there and put the preseason champs up there, I don’t think we’re going to do that,” Swinney said last August when Clemson was the preseason No. 1 for the first time in program history. “So it just doesn’t matter. That’s probably the only con is it just creates conversation that’s unnecessary because it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

“All you’ve gotta do is take the last 10 years the preseason polls and a lot of those teams in the top five don’t even finish ranked.”

With the 2019 college football season set to finish up Monday night in New Orleans, it’s never too early too look ahead to which teams will be the nation’s best next fall, a somewhat predictable glance at contenders followed by a handful of programs with a shot if all falls into place.

From the Pac-12 … 

No. 5 – Oregon … Oregon is hoping to use its banner 2019 season as a jetpack to even more next season during Mario Cristobal’s third campaign. A fast-rising coach, Cristobal put together the best recruiting haul in program history last cycle and is welcoming a Top 15 class in 2020 per the 247Sports Composite. That means the Ducks are reloading, not rebuilding, as defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champions. Five-star insider linebackers Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell are instant impact players on a defensive unit that looks to be one of the nation’s best. How much will Justin Herbert’s departure affect the Ducks on offense?

No. 16 Utah … Will Utah build on 2019’s success? The Utes must replace their offensive battery in the backfield, but their defense should be elite.

No. 18 USC

No. 21 Arizona State … Herm Edwards and Arizona State is a confident bunch and expect big things from Jayden Daniels as a sophomore.

Read full story here

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January 11th 

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ESPN: Pac-12 has three hot seat coaches for 2020 (all in the South division)

From ESPN … The 2019 coaching cycle went pretty much as expected: quiet overall with a few surprises, but no major domino effect in the Power 5.

The highest-profile coach on the hottest seat before the season, USC’s Clay Helton, surprisingly kept his job. Only nine Power 5 schools made changes (seven firings and Washington’s Chris Petersen chose to step down, while Baylor’s Matt Rhule left for the Carolina Panthers job), and no coaches have made moves from one power conference to another. The market trend right now is internal promotions — all four College Football Playoff coaches this year were promoted to their jobs. Washington’s Jimmy Lake, Memphis’ Ryan Silverfield and Appalachian State’s Shawn Clark all moved up.

There should be substantially more action this coming year. Helton once again occupies the nation’s hottest seat, but he’s not alone, as other coaches from the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 also enter win-or-else seasons.

The Pac-12 … 

Hot seat: Clay Helton, USC; Kevin Sumlin, Arizona

Keep an eye on: Chip Kelly, UCLA

Helton’s job status will be the dominant storyline around USC football until either he gets fired or wins the Pac-12 and gets the Trojans to the CFP for the first time. It’s that cut and dried after new athletic director Mike Bohn chose to retain Helton, who had a massive guarantee on his contract, and provide long-overdue infrastructure upgrades to the program. Sumlin is just 9-15 at Arizona and reshaped his defensive coaching staff after the season. Things seem very unsettled around the UA program, and Sumlin likely must deliver a bowl appearance in Year 3 to stick around.

UCLA’s Kelly denied rumors that he might step away after struggling mightily in his return to the Pac-12. His $9 million buyout through 2021 works very much in his favor to stick around in Westwood — he also would owe the school $9 million if he leaves — but UCLA could get antsy if the results from its historic investment in football don’t arrive in Year 3. Kelly is 7-17 at UCLA, which soon will be hiring a new athletic director.

Read full story here

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January 10th

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14th Stanford player enters Transfer Portal

From thespun.com … The Stanford football team is undergoing major roster changes. A staggering 14th player has entered his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal since the end of the season. This specific transfer is a huge loss for David Shaw’s program.

The former Stanford running back was expected to be a big time contributor this upcoming 2020-21 season. Speights ran for just 363 yards and one touchdown over the past two years. But the senior back was expected to receive more touches this year.

Speights is the 14th Stanford player that intends to transfer this off-season. Early speculation indicated Shaw was bound to leave for an NFL coaching vacancy. But with the vacant NFL positions now filled, it’s unclear as to why there have been so many departures from Stanford.

Athlon’s “Way-Too-Early” Top 25 includes only one Pac-12 team; Two CU opponents

From Athlon Sports … It’s never too early to think about next season, so with college football’s 2019 season down to its final game between LSU and Clemson in the national championship, Athlon Sports is here with its way-too-early top 25 preseason rankings for 2020. Clemson takes the top spot in the very early top 25, followed by Ohio State at No. 2. Alabama checks in at No. 3 as a slight favorite over LSU (No. 4) in the early SEC projections. Oklahoma, Penn State, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame and Wisconsin round out the top 10 for college football preseason rankings.

No. 11 – Oregon ... The race to win the 2020 Pac-12 title appears to be wide open, and the Ducks bring stability to the table for coach Mario Cristobal coming off a 12-win season and a victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Replacing offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo and quarterback Justin Herbert are the top offseason storylines for the Ducks. If Cristobal doesn’t pursue a transfer at quarterback, Tyler Shough (12 of 15 for 144 yards in 2019) would be the early front-runner, with freshmen Cale Millen and Jay Butterfield also in the mix. A backfield that features CJ Verdell, Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio is the strength of the offense in 2020, and this trio will be running behind the best offensive lineman in college football in left tackle Penei Sewell. However, Cristobal will have to find four new starters to join Sewell up front. Oregon’s defense ranked among the best in the Pac-12 last season and will have to carry this team early on with the offense in transition. End Kayvon Thibodeaux is primed for a monster 2020 after flashing potential in the final stretch of the season. Cornerback Thomas Graham and safeties Jevon Holland and Brady Breeze return to anchor the secondary, while the arrival of five-star freshmen Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell will alleviate the question marks at linebacker following the departure of Troy Dye. Oregon will be tested right away in 2020, as Ohio State visits Autzen Stadium on Sept. 12. In Pac-12 play, the Ducks get Arizona State, USC and Washington in Eugene.

No. 15 – Texas A&M … Texas A&M had high expectations for 2019, but a brutal schedule was tough to overcome. While the Aggies finished 8-5, this program ranked No. 21 in ESPN’s SP+ rankings prior to bowl season and No. 24 by Football Outsiders’ F+ ratings. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s squad faces a schedule that’s more favorable in 2020, as LSU visits College Station and the non-conference slate features Colorado instead of Clemson. Fisher has to get better play out of quarterback Kellen Mond for the Aggies to become serious SEC West title contenders. Redshirt freshman Zach Calzada could push Mond for the starting job with a big offseason. The offensive line returns nearly intact, running back Isaiah Spiller just missed 1,000 yards in 2019, and the receiving corps brings back No. 1 target Jhamon Ausbon and tight end Jalen Wydermyer. Baylor Cupp was expected to play a huge role in the passing game until a leg injury in the fall, and his return should give the Aggies one of the better tight end duos in college football. Despite returning only four starters, Texas A&M’s defense cut its yards per play allowed to 5.3 from 5.8. Justin Madubuike’s early departure to the NFL is a big loss up front, but the rest of the group returns largely intact. Safety Demani Richardson is a rising star on the back end, Tyree Johnson, Jayden Peevy, Bobby Brown and DeMarvin Leal anchor the trenches, and linebacker Buddy Johnson is back after leading the team with 77 stops in 2019. Punter Braden Mann (47.1 avg.) will be missed on special teams.

The Next Tier … Teams that just missed the Cut … 

Washington … It’s a new era for Washington football, as Jimmy Lake replaces Chris Petersen as the program’s head coach in 2020. Lake is a rising star in the coaching ranks and has developed some of the Pac-12’s top defenses during his tenure in Seattle. The first-year coach has to answer a couple of big-time questions on offense to contend for the Pac-12 title. Lake has to hire a new play-caller after Bush Hamdan was let go, and the Huskies have to break in a starter at quarterback due to Jacob Eason leaving for the NFL. Dylan Morris, Ethan Garbers and Jacob Sirmon are slated to battle to replace Eason and all three rated as four-star prospects out of high school. Running back Salvon Ahmed also left for the NFL, but the backfield has options with Richard Newton, Sean McGrew, and Cameron Davis. Receiver Terrell Bynum and tight end Cade Otton should become the focal points in the passing game with receiver Aaron Fuller (59 catches) out of eligibility and tight end Hunter Bryant departing early for the NFL. Washington’s line also must be retooled with tackles Trey Adams and Jared Hilbers and center Nick Harris departing Seattle. While the question marks on offense are obvious, Washington’s defense in a wide-open Pac-12 could carry this team into contention for the North Division title. The Huskies lose Myles Bryant in the secondary and have a little retooling to do in the front. However, this group is loaded with potential, starting with cornerback Elijah Molden and Kyler Gordon in the secondary, linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio, as well as Levi Onwuzurike and Joe Tryon up front. The opener against Michigan will be a huge measuring stick contest for both teams. Lake also didn’t get any favors in conference scheduling, as Washington gets Washington State, Utah, USC, Oregon and California on the road in 2020.

USC … In the very early rankings, it’s a close call between USC, Utah and Arizona State in the Pac-12 South. The development of quarterback Kedon Slovis and a deep receiving corps of playmakers is enough to push coach Clay Helton’s team into the discussion for the top 25. The defensive coordinator hire is crucial, as there is more talent than last year’s stat sheet on this side of the ball would suggest. The non-conference schedule features Alabama and Notre Dame, while the Pac-12 slate is highlighted by road trips to Utah and Oregon.

Read full story here

Pluses and minuses of Washington State head coaching position

From The Athletic … Mike Leach brought success to Pullman not seen in a decade. He won at least eight games every year from 2015-18, including 11 wins in 2018. This year’s team dipped to 6-7, but it was a fifth consecutive bowl appearance for a program that went 9-40 in the four years before Leach arrived.

What’s next? Washington State and athletic director Pat Chun will try to move quickly. Players are coming back to school and the recruiting dead period ends soon.

So how good is the Washington State job? What names could get in the mix? Here are some factors to keep in mind.

The timing is tough

What I wrote for Baylor earlier this week applies here, too. Because of the early signing period, the coaching carousel initially wrapped up by mid-December, taking some potential candidates off the board. Coaching staffs are getting back into the office this week, recruits have signed and early enrollees are on campus across the country. Some coaches just won’t want to leave at this point.

But Mississippi State showed a program can still land a big fish.

It’s a remote job with limited recruiting

Washington State is a job that has seen some highs, but also a lot of lows. Getting to Pullman is difficult. It’s not a surprise the Cougars were typically near the bottom of the Pac-12 in recruiting rankings. Washington State’s roster has the third-lowest “talent” rating in the Power 5, based on 247Sports’ player ratings coming out of high school, ahead of only the two Kansas schools.

The current roster has nearly 40 players from California. There are players from more than 15 states, Australia, American Samoa and Canada. Leach was able to make the most out of what he had, and he pulled from everywhere. The next coach will have to, as well.

How much is Washington State willing to pay?

Leach’s $3.75 million salary in 2019 was fourth in the Pac-12, according to USA Today’s coaching salary database. That was set to raise to $4 million as part of a rollover contract. That’s the kind of money that could get the attention of some coaches out west, if the school is wiling to give that to a new coach. To make up for the geographic disadvantage, Washington State opened a $61 million football operations building in 2016.

But the athletics budget is the lowest in the Pac-12. There isn’t an indoor practice facility, though money is being raised for it. To keep the momentum going, Washington State will need to keep winning.

Does Washington State want to stick with the same style?

Will Chun want to ease the transition with a coach who also slings the ball around? The roster is built for it, but the next coach will break in a new starting quarterback anyway with record-breaking Anthony Gordon using up his eligibility. Is this the time for a change? Or will they stick with what’s been working?

Read full story here (subscription required) …

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January 9th

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Ten Candidates to replace Mike Leach at Washington State

From Athlon Sports … Washington State is the latest Power 5 job to open in the 2019-20 college football coaching carousel, as Mike Leach left Pullman to take over at Mississippi State. Leach went 55-47 with the Cougars and guided the program to six bowl trips over the last seven years. Washington State is one of the Pac-12’s toughest jobs, but Leach and Mike Price proved coaches can win consistently in Pullman.

  • Andy Avalos, Defensive Coordinator, Oregon
  • Craig Bohl, Head Coach, Wyoming
  • Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, Air Force
  • Alex Grinch, Defensive Coordinator, Oklahoma
  • Graham Harrell, Offensive Coordinator, USC
  • Jay Hill, Head Coach, Weber State
  • Seth Littrell, Head Coach, North Texas
  • Joe Moorhead, Former Mississippi State Head Coach
  • Jay Norvell, Head Coach, Nevada
  • Nick Rolovich, Head Coach, Hawaii

Read full story and bios here

Mike Leach leaves Washington State for Mississippi State

From ESPN … Washington State coach Mike Leach is the new head coach at Mississippi State, Bulldogs athletic director John Cohen said Thursday.

“Mike Leach is a proven winner who has established a culture of excellence for nearly two decades as a head coach,” Cohen said in a statement. “An offensive genius and two-time national coach of the year, he has a track record of building programs to national prominence with accountability and a blue-collar approach. We are thrilled to welcome him and his family to the Mississippi State family and look forward to watching our football program grow under his leadership.”

Washington State coaches were informed about Leach’s move on Thursday morning, a source told ESPN.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be the head football coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs,” Leach said in a statement. “I loved Washington State, but I am excited for the next chapter in the SEC. It’s a privilege to be a part of the MSU family, and we look forward to getting down to Starkville shortly.”

Leach had agreed in principle to a one-year contract extension through the 2024 season on Dec. 5, prior to the Cougars’ appearance in the Cheez-It Bowl.

Before accepting the job at Mississippi State, Leach talked to Arkansas about its opening, sources told ESPN’s Chris Low, and was close to landing the Tennessee job two years ago before John Currie was fired as the Volunteers’ athletic director.

… Leach went 55-47 in his eight seasons in Pullman and took the Cougars to a school-record five consecutive bowl games over the past five seasons. After a school-record 11-win season and a No. 10 national ranking in 2018, the Cougars went 6-7 in 2019, capped by a 31-21 loss to Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl.

Prior to Leach’s arrival, Wazzu did not appear in a bowl game for eight straight seasons and had won just nine games in four years under previous coach Paul Wulff.

Leach’s 43 wins since 2015 marks the most for a Washington State coach during a five-year span. The Cougars have led the FBS in passing offense four times in the past seven seasons. In 10 seasons as the head coach at Texas Tech (2000-09), Leach guided the Red Raiders to a 84-43 record.

Continue reading story here

Mike MacIntyre hired as DC at Memphis: “He is a leader of men on and off the field”

From NBC Sports … As Ryan Silverfield assembles his first Memphis Tigers football staff, he’s turned to a former head coach to assume an important role.

Early Thursday afternoon, Memphis confirms that Silverfield has named Mike MacIntyre as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.  The school noted that the addition is pending completion of State of Tennessee hiring protocols.

MacIntrye has been an FBS head coach twice, at Colorado (2013-18) and San Jose State (2010-12).

“Mike was the perfect fit to lead our defense,” said the Memphis Tigers football head coach in a statement. “Just three years ago, he was the National Coach of the Year. He is a Bill Parcells disciple with five years coaching in the NFL. He graduated from high school in Nashville and has deep roots in this state.

“He is a leader of men on and off the field. Coach Mac has nine years of head coaching experience and will be a tremendous asset to our program. He and his wife, Trisha, can’t wait to get to Memphis!”

Continue reading story here

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January 8th

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Report: WSU’s Mike Leach interviewed for Mississippi State job

From thespun.com … Following the close of the 2019 college football regular season, the Washington State Cougars inked head coach Mike Leach to a contract extension. The move came after Leach’s name popped up at several SEC openings, including the Arkansas Razorbacks.

After inking Leach to an extension, it looked like the Cougars locked up their head coach.

However, a new report suggests Leach is still interested in moving on from Pullman. According to a report from ESPN radio host Bo Bounds, Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen traveled to Key West this week to meet with Mike Leach.

Paul Finebaum revealed the news.

On December 5, the Washington State football program Leach’s contract extension through 2024.

From 2015-18, Leach led the Cougars to a 37-15 record. In 2018, the Cougars went 11-2, winning the Alamo Bowl to finish with the most single season wins in school history.

Washington State suffered a down season in 2019, finishing with a 6-7 record. After failing to find success in 2019, Leach could be looking to move on from the Cougars.

The state of Mississippi might not be able to handle Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach together.

Pac-12 2020 football schedule: “Several models are under review”

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … It’s the question the Hotline is asked more often than any other these days:

When will the Pac-12 Networks be on DirecTV?

Nope, not that one (although it still comes up).

When will Larry Scott get fired?

Another constant, but not No. 1 at the moment.

When will the schedule be released?

Ding-ding-ding.

It’s 2020, and the 2020 Pac-12 football schedule remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in administrative processes.

We’re here to help lend clarity (as best we can) to a source of growing frustration for Pac-12 fans.

Because the conference is a tad late.

It typically announces the schedule in November or December of the previous year, and the 2020 schedules for other Power Five conferences have been set for months, if not years (in the Big Ten’s case).

Let’s start with the bottom line:

There isn’t a scheduled date for the schedule release, according to the conference.

The process is, well, fluid.

“Several models have been developed and are under review, to be voted on by the athletic directors,’’ said Dave Hirsch, vice president for communications.

Our expectation — that is, the Hotline’s expectation — is that the schedule will be finalized and made public within two weeks.

That’s an educated guess based on our understanding of the process, which generally follows these steps:

1. The non-conference dates are, of course, set years ahead.

2. The special-date games (i.e., the Thursday and Friday matchups) are selected by ESPN and Fox approximately one year in advance.

3. Sometime in the late summer or fall, the Pac-12 sends what amounts to a giant grid, with the non-conference and special-date games already filled in, to a Denver-based scheduling company.

4. Eventually, the company spits out several models for the athletic directors and coaches to review.

5. After each model is reviewed, the ADs vote: Any schedule that receives a majority (seven) is adopted.

6. If none of the models receives a majority, the conference takes the top two and resends them to the ADs for a second round of voting.

My understanding is that the voting process is underway now.

If it’s clean, we could see the schedule in the next week.

If a re-vote is required, it might be several more weeks.

We noted above that the schedule release is late this year, but not unprecedentedly so:

The 2017 edition wasn’t unveiled until Jan. 18 of that year — just seven-and-a-half months before the season.

If we learn more about the current situation, we’ll pass it along.

And as always, fans should expect the kickoff times for games in the first three weeks to be announced in the spring.

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January 7th

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Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith’s 5-7 season nets new six-year contract – “Simply put, he’s our guy”

From The Oregonian … Oregon State has extended Jonathan Smith’s contract by three years, taking the Beavers football coach’s deal through the 2025 season.

Smith signed a five-year contract when he was hired in December 2017. Smith had three years left on his original deal before it was extended this week.

Terms of the contract were not immediately disclosed, though a source said there was an overall increase in compensation.

Smith’s original contract calls for $1.9 million per season through the 2022 season, plus bonuses. Smith’s current buyout is $2 million if he leaves following the 2020 season, and $1 million after the 2021 season.

Smith’s new contract is expected to include bonus increases and an enhanced salary pool for assistant coaches. The current assistant coaches salary pool is $3.3 million. OSU athletic director Scott Barnes said in December that he planned a “substantial” increase to the assistant’s salary pool.

“Coach Smith has been groomed to lead the Beaver football program,” Barnes said in a statement Tuesday. “His impact has been significant and there is no one better suited to continue to build the foundation to a level of sustained success. … Simply put, he’s our guy.”

Continue reading story here

2019 Conference Rankings – Pac-12 actually comes in at No. 3

From 247 Sports … Few arguments in college football are more passionate than conference superiority. The SEC plays cupcakes, so what argument does it have? The ACC has Clemson, so the Tigers must counterbalance the league’s struggles. The Big 12 had an awful bowl season, so that league must be overrated. You get the picture.

Bowl season is a popular time to revisit this conference argument because bowl results provide a tidy sample size to measure results. Yet bowl standings are often misleading. Motivations vary, coaches change teams, players skip to prepare for the NFL and travel/location can give some teams a major advantage.

Thus, bowl season should only be considered a part of the argument for best conference. To apply something slightly more scientific to this annual debate, 247Sports looked at a variety of factors to determine the best league. These include: 1. Overall non-conference win percentage. 2. Non-conference win percentage against FBS opponents, Power Five opponents (including BYU, Notre Dame) and ranked opponents. 3. Bowl season record. 4. The league’s average S&P+ team ranking.

3. Pac-12 

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January 6th

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Copy Cat! “Good Riddance to UCLA’s Worst Sports Decade Ever”

… For the record, my “Random Thoughts – Vol. IV – Good Riddance to the 2010’s” was posted December 29th … 

From BruinReport.com … At the end of a bad period in your life it can be cathartic to recognize how bad it was and then put it behind you.

So think of this article as therapy, specifically for those suffering from that affliction known as BBS (Battered Bruin Syndrome).

This will be a cathartic experience for UCLA fans, a release of all the bad energy of the last 10 years so we can all move on to bigger and better things in the 2020s.

Just look at that picture up top — it tells the story in a more succinct way than any statistics (which we’ll get to). UCLA hired the alumnus (to replace a former alumnus) — it didn’t work. UCLA hired a famous college basketball star — it didn’t work. UCLA hired a bonafide college coaching genius who went 46-7 at his last college coaching job — and it hasn’t worked, to an almost spectacular degree (at least in the 2010s).

The obvious highlight is perhaps the most damning in context — the clear best coach, football or basketball, in the period (Jim Mora) had just three genuinely good seasons and never won the conference or coached a major bowl game.

To put it simply: the Decade of 2010s was the worst decade in UCLA football and basketball history.  It’s not simply a matter of opinion either, but all the numbers and stats support it.

We’re counting the ten academic seasons from 2010-2011 to 2019-2020.

In those years, UCLA’s football team went 63-54 for a winning percentage of 53.8%.  In basketball it had a record of 208-114, for a winning percentage of 64.6%.

You have to go all the way back to the 1940s, before Red Sanders and John Wooden were a twinkle in UCLA’s eye, to find a worst combined decade for winning percentage.  And you can’t even really count the 1940s in terms of comparison because it was nowhere close to the modern era of college football or basketball.

Continue reading story here

Washington’s three top offensive players all going to the NFL

From the Seattle Times … It certainly sounded like Salvon Ahmed was coming back.

Immediately following Washington’s 38-7 victory over Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21, the Huskies’ junior running back recorded a video message that was later posted to social media.

“Hey Husky Nation, we just got the big W!” Ahmed said, arm-in-arm with UW junior cornerback Keith Taylor. “We did that for y’all. Go Dawgs. We’ll see you guys next year for a bigger season. Let’s go!”

Ahmed’s going, all right. The 5-foot-11, 196-pound running back announced Friday that — like redshirt junior quarterback Jacob Eason and junior tight end Hunter Bryant — he has decided to enter the 2020 NFL draft. Washington will open its season against Michigan on Sept. 5 with a new head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, starting quarterback, starting running back and starting tight end.

“I want to thank Salvon for all of the hard work he has put in, both on and off the field,” UW coach Jimmy Lake said in a statement. “He was a great example of what Husky Football is all about, and I’m sure that he’ll have plenty of success in the future.”

In the 2019 season, his first as UW’s starter, Ahmed led the Huskies with 1,020 rushing yards at 5.4 yards a carry and 11 touchdowns. After replacing departed UW standout Myles Gaskin, the former Juanita High School standout was named an All-Pac-12 honorable mention for the second time in his career.

Continue reading story here

Pac-12 has 55 NFL players alive in the playoffs (CU has four)

From the San Jose Mercury News … The postseason is over for the Pac-12, but not for dozens of former Pac-12 players.

The conference has 55 alumni on the active rosters of the eight NFL teams left standing for the divisional playoff round.

The Hotline was curious about the representation and canvassed the active rosters Sunday night. The breakdown by school and by team is generally what you would expect, but fans might find some of the names surprising.

Stanford and UCLA lead the way with eight players each, followed by USC (seven), then Cal (six) and Oregon (six).

Note: Only players listed on active rosters were included:

ARIZONA (three)
49ers: DL Earl Mitchell
Titans: DB Dane Cruikshank and LB Reggie Gilbert

ARIZONA STATE (two)
Chiefs: DE Terrell Suggs
Titans: G Jamil Douglas

CAL (six)
Chiefs: OT Mitchell Schwartz
Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers
Ravens: OL Patrick Mekari
Seahawks: LB Mychal Kendricks and RB Marshawn Lynch
Texans: P Bryan Anger

COLORADO (four)
49ers: CB Ahkello Witherspoon
Packers: OT David Bakhtiari and K Mason Crosby
Ravens: CB Jimmy Smith

OREGON (six)
49ers: DLs Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner
Ravens: C Hroniss Grasu and WR De’Anthony Thomas
Seahawks: S Ugo Amadi
Titans: QB Marcus Mariota

OREGON STATE (two)
Chiefs: QB Matt Moore
Vikings: QB Sean Mannion

STANFORD (eight)
49ers: CB Richard Sherman, DL Solomon Thomas and TE Levine Toilolo
Packers: LB Blake Martinez
Ravens: DB Jordan Richards
Texans: LB Brennan Scarlett, LB Peter Kalambayi and S Justin Reid

UCLA (eight)
Packers: DL Kenny Clark and TE Marcedes Lewis
Texans: NT Eddie Vanderdoes and K Ka’imi Fairbairn
Titans: LB Jayon Brown and DE Matt Dickerson
Vikings: LBs Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks

USC (seven)
Ravens: CB Iman Marshall
Seahawks: DE Rasheem Green
Texans: WR Steven Mitchell
Titans: DT Jurrell Casey and CB Adoree Jackson
Vikings: DE Everson Griffen and LB Cameron Smith

UTAH (four)
49ers: P Mitch Wishnowsky
Chiefs: OT Jackson Barton
Seahawks: LB Cody Barton and S Marquise Blair

WASHINGTON (four)
49ers: WR Dante Pettis
Packers: CB Kevin King
Ravens: CB Marcus Peters
Seahawks: LB Ben Burr-Kirven

WASHINGTON STATE (one)
Vikings: DT Hercules Mata’afa

Loss of legacy Jason Harris to CU seen as symptomatic of Arizona recruiting woes

From Tucson.com … Arizona lost four-star defensive line legacy prospect Jason Harris to Colorado on Thursday, capping a head-shaking series of decisions that began after Rich Rodriguez hired touted defensive coordinator Marcel Yates away from Boise State in 2016.

All of which have been symptomatic of Arizona’s collapse in Pac-12 football.

… When Kevin Sumlin was hired, defensive coordinator Marcel Yates recommended Arizona hire UTEP defensive coach Andrew Browning, who had grown up in the Boise State system and impressed Yates.

Sumlin declined to hire Browning, who was soon hired by Cal coach Justin Wilcox and is now the D-line coach for the resurgent Golden Bears program. Sumlin chose to hire a junior college D-line coach, Iona Uiagalelei, who had never coached a Division I football game. He was fired in November.

All this time, Harris and his mother and father, former Arizona letter-winners Sean and Cha-Ron Harris, were paying close attention to the situation at their alma mater. Their son, sophomore defensive lineman Jalen Harris, was playing for Uiagalelei, who struggled to coach at the Pac-12 level. Things got so bad that at mid-season, Yates began splitting his time three ways: as defensive coordinator, safeties coach and, ultimately, spending part of each day in the D-line room, helping Uiagalelei.

In the meantime, Colorado head coach Mel Tucker continued to aggressively recruit Jason Harris, a prospect who plays the most difficult position at which to acquire quality players in college football. Tucker’s defensive line coach is Jimmy Brumbaugh, who had been the co-defensive coordinator at Maryland, and had coached the D-line for Mark Stoops at Kentucky and Les Miles at LSU. Brumbaugh, a former starting defensive lineman at Auburn, has coached 112 college football games.

Meanwhile, six weeks after Arizona fired its defensive line coach, Sumlin still hasn’t announced a replacement. Hello? Anybody home? Arizona is going to have to live with the recruiting and staffing mistakes for years.

In all sports, not just football, the Pac-12 will eat you alive if you’re not on top of your recruiting game every day. As of Saturday, Rivals.com ranked Arizona No. 64 nationally — one spot behind Tulane and one spot ahead of Bowling Green.

Continue reading story here

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January 5th

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Mike Leach connected to vacant Mississippi State coaching position

Related … “5 Potential Head Coaching Candidates for Mississippi State” … from thegamehaus.com

... Related … “Mike Leach mentioned as possible candidate at Mississippi State” … from CougCenter.com

From MajorWager.com … Mississippi State fired Joe Moorhead as its head football coach January 3rd.

… One name jumped out at me to lead Mississippi State football into the future. It was and still is Mike Leach, who has proven for two decades that he can produce a perennial Top-20 program at Power Five outposts (like Starkville) in Lubbock and Pullman.

Leach just signed an extension at Washington State, one that pays him $4 million per year through 2023. If Leach wants an SEC job — at the age of 58, it’s time to make that move now — I’m sure a buyout could be negotiated.

Maybe Leach is cool with his situation? Hell, it’s certainly a lot easier to win in the Pac-12 than it is to win SEC games from Starkville.

… Ole Miss just made a splash hire by bringing Lane Kiffin back to the SEC, instantly putting pressure on Mississippi State to elevate its game. This morning’s move was the Bulldogs’ first step in doing so, but now comes the hard part.

Only time will tell if Cohen gets this one right, but it says here that his best chance is with a proven winner like Leach.

Read full story here

Fresno State (2019 CU opponent) hires former CU assistant as defensive coordinator

From Football Scoop … Sources tell FootballScoop Kalen DeBoer plans to make William Inge his new defensive coordinator at Fresno State.

Inge, currently special teams coordinator at Indiana, has experience coaching linebackers (or defensive line) for 5+ seasons at Indiana, at the University of Buffalo, with the Buffalo Bills, at Cincinnati, San Diego State and at Colorado (defensive line coach, 2005) as well.

Along the way, Inge has coached some special players including Khalil Mack, Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Chris Covington, Tegray Scales, Marcus Oliver and more.

Inge played collegiately at Iowa where he served as co-captain his senior year.

In addition to Inge, sources tell FootballScoop Montana Tech head coach Chuck Morrell has stepped down from his post and will also be part of the staff at Fresno State. Morrell previously served as defensive coordinator at both University of South Dakota and at Sioux Falls.

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January 4th

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CSU hires its coordinators, with former CU assistant Chuck Heater as defensive coordinator

From Football Scoop.com … Steve Addazio is hiring Joey Lynch as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Colorado State, sources told FootballScoop on Friday.

Lynch is currently the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ball State, a job he has held for the past six seasons. Lynch’s Cardinals led the MAC in scoring (34.8 points per game) and total yardage (463 per game) in 2019.

An Indiana native and a former Ball State quarterback, Lynch had been at his alma mater since 2009.

After concluding his playing career in 2006, Lynch graduated to an offensive coordinator position at St. Joseph’s College, a Division II school in Rensselear, Ind. After a year there, Lynch spent the 2008 campaign as the offensive coordinator at Ashland University in Ohio before returning to Ball State the following year.

… Sources tell FootballScoop that Chuck Heater has agreed to join Steve Addazio’s Colorado State staff as defensive coordinator.

Heater is currently serving in an off the field capacity on Dan Mullen’s staff at Florida.

Has extensive ties with Addazio at Temple and Florida including serving as assistant defensive coordinator and co-defensive coordinator with the Gators previously before leaving to be the defensive coordinator at Temple (2011-12) and Marshall from (2013-17). He briefly coached the safeties at Maryland after his time at Marshall before heading back to Gainesville.

Heater does have coaching experience in the Pacific Northwest, coaching at Colorado State, Colorado, Washington and Utah from 1991-2004.

We also understand that running backs coach Brian White is expected to follow Addazio from Boston College to Fort Collins.

… More on Chuck HeaterIn 1993, Heater was hired as the recruiting coordinator for the Colorado. CU head coach Bill McCartney had been an assistant coach at Michigan during Heater’s senior year. In February 1994, after the NCAA eliminated the position of recruiting coordinator, McCartney hired Heater as his defensive secondary coach. In March 1995, Colorado’s new head coach Rick Neuheisel moved Heater to a new position as the team’s tight ends coach. He remained the tight ends coach at Colorado for four years from 1995 to 1998 and also resumed his duties as recruiting coordinator in 1998. 

Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks looking at Washington State?

From the Spokane Spokesman-Review … Mike Leach’s ability to groom quarterbacks, coupled with Gardner Minshew’s historic season two years ago, has made Washington State a desirable destination for transfers looking to put up gaudy numbers and improve their NFL stock in the Air Raid offense.

Leach hasn’t ruled out the possibility of taking on a third consecutive transfer quarterback and one of the most popular names in the NCAA transfer portal apparently has WSU on his radar.

According to a Spokesman-Review source, Florida coach Dan Mullen recommended that former Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks take a serious look at the Cougars and consider spending his final college season in Pullman in order to “get developed by Leach.”

It’s unclear if Franks actually is pondering a transfer to WSU, however, and the source said the former Florida starter wasn’t familiar with Pullman or the Palouse. The Cougars seem to be aware of him, though, and Franks is followed on Twitter by WSU outside receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr., who spent time in Gainesville as a graduate assistant during his father’s Hall of Fame tenure at Florida.

Franks, who appeared in only three games for Florida this season because of a dislocated ankle, announced on Instagram on Dec. 1, “I plan on exploring my options of entering the NFL Draft of playing my final year elsewhere.”

The quarterbacks name hit the transfer portal the same day and Franks later took a visit to Kansas, where some expect him to land next season, largely because of his relationship with coach Les Miles, who nearly signed the former high school All-American at Louisiana State.

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January 3rd

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Longtime NFL Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave hired as Cal’s OC

From Sports Illustrated … Cal head coach Justin Wilcox officially announced Friday that Bill Musgrave has agreed to become the Golden Bears’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

The hiring of Musgrave had been widely reported on Thursday.

Musgrave has more than two decades of coaching experience in the NFL and collegiate ranks, including 13 seasons as an offensive coordinator.

… Musgrave takes over a Cal offense that finished last in the Pac-12 in both total offense and scoring offense in each of the past two seasons under previous offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who left Cal to become the head coach at Cal Poly. However, the Bears will have a lot of returning offensive players next season.

Musgrave has served as offensive coordinator during 11 of his 20 NFL seasons, including his entire stints at Jacksonville, Minnesota and in his second stop at Oakland. He was promoted to offensive coordinator during his first tenure with Philadelphia (1998), as well as at Carolina (2000) and Denver (2017). He also spent two campaigns as a collegiate offensive coordinator at Virginia (2001-02).

Read full story here

Nebraska finally gets around to dismissing RB Maurice Washington

From ESPN … Nebraska on Friday dismissed Maurice Washington and said the running back likely will enter the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Washington had been away from the team since October for an unspecified team rules violation. Nebraska coach Scott Frost had said Washington’s removal was not related to his ongoing criminal case in California. Washington faces two charges, including a felony, of allegedly sending a video of his ex-girlfriend, who was then 15, participating in what she described in a report by NBC Bay Area as non-consensual sexual acts.

Washington played in Nebraska’s first seven games and had 298 rushing yards on 50 carries, although he twice was suspended for the first half of games. He stopped practicing with the team after its Oct. 12 game against Minnesota.

Frost said last month that he hoped to reach a resolution with Washington on the sophomore’s future at Nebraska. Washington’s preliminary hearing in California, scheduled for Dec. 12, has been delayed until Jan. 10.

—–

January 2nd

… Foe Pause … 

Pac-12 finishes 4-3 in bowls this year; Pac-12 runner’s up now 0-9 in bowl games

From the San Jose Mercury NewsThe best of the Pac-12’s bowl season, and the best of the worst of the Pac-12’s bowl season …

Overall grade: B

The Pac-12 went 4-3 for its first winning postseason since 2015. The mark compares favorably to peer conferences in the current cycle:

ACC: 4-5 (one remaining)
Big 12: 1-5
Big Ten: 4-4
SEC: 6-2 (one remaining)

Include the ACC’s awful regular season and the Big 12’s terrible postseason in a final Power Five judgment, and a reasonable case could be made that the Pac-12 was the third-best conference in 2019, behind the SEC and Big Ten.

While Oregon’s narrow victory in the Rose Bowl was deeply impactful, let’s not forget that Wisconsin was either the second- or third-best team in the Big Ten — and by a considerable margin.

No case can be made that the best team in the Pac-12 was as good as the best in the country (Ohio State, LSU and Clemson).

That needs to change.

We considered a higher grade for the Pac-12’s overall postseason effort but opted against because of the blowout losses in the No. 2 and 3 games (Alamo and Holiday).

Best no-show: Utah

The Utes were overpowered by five-loss Texas in the Alamo in much the same fashion that they laid wasted to their competition in the South: a bludgeoning at the line of scrimmage. (The Longhorns averaged 6.2 yards per rush.)

What for so long appeared to be a breakthrough season for Utah ended with blowout losses in the only games most fans will remember.

Best bad trend: Pac-12 runners-up

Utah extended an ignominious streak: The loser of the Pac-12 championship game is now 0-9 in bowl games.

Most of the losses have been lopsided (including CU’s loss to Oklahoma State in the 2016 Alamo Bowl).

Read full story here

—–

63 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. Pity the poor pundits pushing to rationalize their paycheck with these pefunctory prognostications in this dead period of college football. You would think Wilner would have his hands full simply with the drama at USC.
    I went to SI and of course Pat Forde has his own rank rankings. Pat says: “But we as human beings cannot resist the lure of foolhardy predictions based on incomplete information, so here we go.”
    Wasn’t that sweet for him to include the rest of us?
    btw
    Wilner has Georgia at 10 and Forde has em at 2. ….hmmmm….ok.
    Anyone out there willing to pay me for my list?

  2. Darn it Stuart
    I tried to read the rest of the Kennedy article but I wont put any money into USC’s pocket, or just like you, none into the DP either as long as they are paying Pizzla.
    Not real excited about the WSU hire either. I have watched a couple of Hawaii games and their air raid looks better than Leach’s….albeit against slightly lesser competition. Rolovich has to have the QB to plug in, of course, but he has several to choose from.

    1. That’s going to be interesting to watch. Would have been regardless of who they got, but the Run n Shoot is a close cousin to the Air Raid. So in that regard, it makes sense. They have the personnel that theoretically fits the system. I think it relies on a lot more QB runs though. I did see that their QB recruit/incoming freshman from HI is stoked on the hire. We’ll see how it all shakes down.

      But, in my eyes, that’s the type of guy they would be able to get. Grinch wasn’t going there. They’d get either someone stepping up, or like Mike was, someone looking to rebuild their standing in the coaching world. I wonder if Leavitt had any interest, or they in him. Doubt it. But, he’s another interesting case study in the coaching carousel.

      Go Buffs

  3. Curious as to how much money it took to pull Leach out of Pullman. Looking back Leach has traveled from Lubbock to Pullman and now to Starkville. I would have to think hard about how much money it would take for me to live that long in those places. Probably not enough. I went to school in Boulder and love where I live in the San Juan Mountains. Call me spoiled rotten.
    And then there is Mickey who “cant wait to get to Memphis” Mickey is now like that boll weevil looking for a home. As long as it is below the Mason Dixon line….right Mickey? I wan to go to Memphis one of these days to eat at the Rendezvous and cruise Beale Street. That will take a few days and then be enough of that.

    1. I think in addition to a raise and being closer to his grandkids, the challenge intrigued mike.

      The San Juan mountains are certainly one of the prime places on the planet. Good for you for finding your niche there.

      As to Pullman? It is an interesting place. A lot of people hate it. But, it is sort of idyllic to raise kids there. You can let them roam and be kids. And not really worry. But you still have some exposure to the broader world.

      The Palouse, although i never appreciated it while I was there, is beautiful. And if you like being outdoors, there’s tons to do right there.

      It’s funny because it’s only an hour to Spokane. You might see six cars on the drive. I live an hour from Sacramento. I might see six thousand on that drive.

      But, compared to other pac 12 schools, or most d1 spots, it is considered a backwater, so a tough draw.

      It’ll be really interesting to see who they can get in there next.

      Whoever it is, Buffs better beat them.

      Go Buffs

  4. Ok, so Leach to the SEC. That’ll be a fun challenge for him. Who’s up next in Pullman? I can’t imagine they’ll find a better fit, honestly, than Leach (at least fit on the field). We’ll see.

    Go Buffs

  5. Dennis Dodd reporting that the Pirate has sailed from Pullman into the SEC: Mike Leach has taken job at Mississippi State.

  6. Had Seattle’s Tedric Thompson not torn his labrum resulting in surgery and being placed on IR, it would have been 56 Pac players and 5 Buffs participating this weekend.

  7. Thanks for the Tuscon link re. Harris…that’s the type of story/opinion that unfortunately is getting harder, harder to find.

  8. I have to disagree with the “wide margin” between Wisconsin and Ohio State, that did not play out in the Big 10 championship game. Not like the LSU and Oklahoma game where one team was significantly better then the other.

    1. “By the light of the moon” baby.

      Badgers lost 4 games. Bucks lost 1 game.
      Bucky was pretty good all year
      Buckeye was damn good all year.
      As I love the Badgers like my very own, they are a perfect fit with the Mighty Buffs..

      “Just don’t often get ‘Nice things’

      “Go Buffs” Badgers too

      Note: I just wish that ol…………………Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn…………… did not apply continually to the Mighty Buffs and Real Big Red…………………And it ain’t the portapotty corncobs..

      1. The problem is the cobs ruined red for everyone. You remember the ole…….”seeing red”….saying? Even different shades of red (crimson, maroon etc.) initiate some form of sub conscious annoyance.
        Besides I can’t go with the badgers because they are hockey rivals of Colorado College.

  9. WSU and the Zooms was the most intriguing matchup of the bowl season IMO. 2 programs, both one dimensional, with totally opposite offensive schemes. I am always curious how each D would prepare for the other without any one on the roster who could imitate the opposition on the scout team. The over rated Borghi was the only rushing option WSU has . In the end it was the time of possession by AF that didnt give Gordon enough time to even warm up. 350 yards passing is nice but it was a bad day for him. He was off target many times too.
    Will Leach finally get a dual QB and adjust his O? and make a frantic attempt to convince some real RBs of that? Naaah. His ego wont allow it.
    Speaking of off target the AF QB was 4 for 12 but it didnt matter last night. Somehow the football gods made him deadly against the Buffs,

    On to USC. My my….I was thinking USC would show better than that. It was almost as if MM was coaching them. No tears for them except I feel a little pity for Helton….notice the key word “little.”
    No tears for Bohn either, who has accepted a job with extreme pressure unless Helton’s firing was preplanned from the beginning and they thought they had a better chance of winning the bowl with Helton than anyone else they could plug in a the last moment.
    So tune in next week for the latest episode of “As the USC Stomach (and the rest of the PAC’s) Turns.” Will Meyer come in and will Helton receive A 20 MILLION BUYOUT? or will the USC pres stand by his proclamation Meyer wont be coming?
    If Meyer does get the gig it will be that much more satisfying when the Buffs finally take em down next year

    1. Actually ep I just voted in Stuart’s latest poll as “Depends” when rooting for the PAC 12 as I have to truthfully say I was rooting for Iowa last night. Heck when CU was in the Big 8 & 12 I never rooted for OU or NU in their bowl games to hell with those rival teams. Besides USC I’m still in the process of what PAC 12 teams I will root against in future bowl games, but I guarantee there will be more on my list. I guess I’m just a hater when it comes to the Buffs opponents.

  10. Clearly:

    AF is a good team and and the Buffs shoulda beat em.
    WSU is a bad team and how did the Buffs lose 41-10?
    Washington whips boise and the Buffs Whipped Washington
    SC killed by Iowa. Buffs shoulda whipped USC. Really.
    Pac 12 is weak 1 and 2 in bowls
    Can they even win one more game? Sheesh
    Buffs coulda shoulda been 8 and 4 There I said it.

    Buffs.

    Note: And a freshman shall lead them.

    1. Hard to argue with your comments VK. I hope that as these young players and new coaches become even more comfortable and used to each other those kind of games you just mentioned become very rare and we see the Buffs as one of the contending PAC 12 teams in the conference and nationally.

  11. Funny how that ‘Furd article conveniently ignored the HUUUGE change in their S&C program! Their former FB S&C guy was renowned for his innovative and creative ways of developing good athletes into great specimens; he had a long string of OL and TE All-Americans, as well as Christian McCaffery and Andrew Luck under his belt!.

    A year ago, he was made head of the entire Ath. Dept. S&C program, then got cross-wise with someone (#METoo-ed?) He was definitely a recruiting draw for both interior lines and TE types.
    Funny how ‘Furd never had this grad school blockage before…….

  12. “The money has never been better. The security? Well, that’s another thing.”
    (this from the CBS article on coaching hires)
    What a ridiculous statement
    The fact that the article was on Addazio who was just fired and hired at CSU proves that wrong. Speaking of CSU didnt Bobo get hired 5 minutes later after he was fired as an overpaid coordinator somewhere? Same with our ol buddy Mickey….his buddy Lindgren and on and on and on and on
    and the money is always good. Getting a 9 million payout for falling on your butt cheeks isnt security?

  13. ep, any truth to the rumor that you are going to attend and eulogize the late Jon Wilner at his memorial regarding the USC recruiting debacle and what a shame he had to leave us so suddenly on the just past LOI day?

    1. I thought you were “funnin” me but I googled Wilner anyway to make sure. Dang maybe if I dont say something nice to him before he does pass away I might feel guilty from that point on.
      (rapidly changing the subject)
      You must have some Stanford connections. See if you can get a line into Costello.

      1. I did have a Stanford connection, back in the day but he was a WW II vet so I guess you can guess that my connection is no longer with us. I can’t imagine that Costello would transfer to a PAC 12 school would he?

        1. I think I read where a dozen players were leaving the school. Be interesting to see how many stay in the PAC 12. Be more interesting to get the inside story over that mass defection.

          1. Yes I have been made aware of the many players leaving. I thought that David Shaw is supposed to be the perfect coach for Stanford, I also will be interested in what the heck is going on out there. I’m sure it will eventually come out.

          2. Jon Wilner posted an article that only four of the 12 were starters. Plus, Stanford just signed the No. 24 Recruiting Class.
            If CU lost a dozen players to the Transfer Portal, the Buff Nation would be in a panic. We’ll see if Shaw heads off to the NFL (if he was, why sign such a highly rated Class just to leave them). Otherwise, it will be hard to predict great things in 2020 for Stanford … though they will still be ranked above CU …

  14. Re: USC’s ranking, yes they are low, but with only 11 signing so far that will change; Leinart and other “spoiled children” are making a lot of noise about Helton and this class. They will still get good players from Cal that want to stay home and play in front of their family… AND get a free degree from a very expensive private school with a history of sending players to the NFL.

    With Graham Harrell getting a 3 year extension, maybe USC is going the same route as UW did, having Graham in waiting in case Helton doesn’t preform.

    The comment of Oregon becoming the west coast’s USC in recruiting is only because of Knight and his money, go back before that and they have no history; he’ll probably will leave them a very large endowment when he’s gone. But schools like USC will always have the money too, hell their alumni was willing to come up with 20 mill to get rid of Helton, maybe MB did us a favor by not being willing to write that check yet, if he fails this year they can just buy a new coach.

    Just think if CU had that kind of cash, some are already wondering if Tucker has big success if CU could afford to keep him, big difference from alumni willing to cough up 20 mill to get rid of a coach that won big games with a 3rd string freshman QB and other injuries.

    P.S. If CU had won that game I’m betting Helton would have been fired for losing their first game to the Buffs and falling lower in wins & losses.

  15. As to an eight team playoff, I have always thought that made the most sense. Not sure who or what drove the bus on just four.

    You have conference champs, best record from group of five and two at large. It could be done while honoring the old school marquee bowl games too.

    The other options to level that field are the pac 12 going to 8 conference and four non con, or the sec stepping up to nine.

    “Being better” isn’t necessarily going to help the pac 12 from canniabilizing itself every year.

    Hopefully the Buffs will be better though.

    Go Buffs

    1. Agree and an 8 team series would add another round of really interesting matchups. As it stands now, outside of the playoff games most of the bowl matchups are boring (see Utes, Univ of Utah).

  16. Addazio seems like a pretty bad hire. Everyone seems to hate him. Including every former player and coach, apparently? Or so the silly posters on Allbuffs say. Hell if I know. None of my coworkers that went to CSU seem happy. Poor little brother rammies =(

    Wilner says CU was much better than expected! So I’m sure that in the next article when grading coaches he’ll give Tucker a C-. Though, honestly, with the losses to Arizona and (especially) USC feeling like coaching mistakes I’m not sure myself what grade I would give Tucker for the year.

  17. Wow Butch Jones perhaps getting the CSU gig. I’ll never forget his antics in late 2012 when he interviewed here for the CU job, only to slink out the backdoor like a thief in the night for the job in Knoxville.

  18. Sheesh. Based on these comments it’s gonna be a long off season. Now I know why the DC dropped comments. GoBuffs beat the Jaysuckers!

  19. Time to put on the armchair coaching selector hat. Did Dr. Seuss have something like this in mind when he wrote “The Cat in the Hat?”
    I’m talking about to the CSU situation speculation of course. The only outside info on candidates I have is what was given above.
    The AD says he wants someone who has had successful experience at a high level. “Has” is the key word there which means this will be someone in the carousel club that has ridden it so long they have callouses on their butt. …and that sounds like it might not include Alford.
    The lambs would probably make Sarkisian fall of the wagon again.
    Don’t know all that much about Mora but every time I heard him speak he sounded like a downer.
    Tedford may really have some health problems that stress wouldnt help.
    Don’t know Graham’s situation at all.
    Jim Leavitt maybe the one. Indications are he still really really wants an HC job. Even after Taggart was fired he was promoted to DC at Florida State albeit probably on an interim and he resigned anyway and is applying for HC jobs in other places in Florida. I cant remember if he was ever considered as garden hat’s replacement. If he was turned down would a revenge tour motivate him?
    Last but certainly not least Urban is still out there. As you know, Fort Fun has been designated by someone as one of the top 5 cities to live in. OK…that was meant as sarcasm/satire but stranger things have happened. Kareem Abdul Jabbar was an ASSISTANT basket ball coach on one of the Indian reservations in my neighborhood for a while. (apples and oranges?)

  20. Ok so gotta love the Pac12 right? CU beats ASU. OU beats CU. ASU beats OU. UU beats CU. OU beats UU. You never now what’s going to happen week to week. Even though Pac12 doesn’t get into the CFP it’s a fun conference to watch.

    I have to admit I enjoyed watching the Ducks pound on the Utes. I thought CU had their way physically vs. the Utes in the first half last week. Mostly shut down Moss. Huntley is just OK. If it wasn’t for a kick return and two runs by a TE, then a blowout turns into a game? And when the Utes TE Kuithe scored his second TD and did the little yawn gesture, that is when I decided the Utes were a little too cocky and needed to a beat down this week. Boom.

    What will the Pac12 look like next year? I think Utah has peaked. Oregon loses all their seniors. It’s going to be interesting for sure.

  21. The Thelma and Louise shot on the Helton twitter replies was priceless. Thanks Stu for letting me start the day with a guffaw.
    It also got me to thinking it might provide earache with a little perspective. If all those POed USC fans were Buff fans it might trigger him into a going on a serial killing spree.
    It also provided me with a little perspective. Maybe Corn fans aren’t the worst ones in the world.
    Frost has 2 losing seasons and losses to the Buffs in a row. Helton got the condoms playing pretty dang well by the end of the season. I havent checked yet but I believe they are ranked.

  22. VK, I agree quite often with much of what you say. But you lose credibility when you make comments like “FHCMM was a total failure at CU.” Really? I am totally in agreement with the decision to let him go and hire a new head coach. He was not taking the program where it needed to go. But a total failure? I don’t think so. He did win the Pac12 South one year. And he was named national head coach of the year. Hard for me to understand how that was a “total failure.”

    1. Okay yur opinion. Maybe “total” was a bit strong. He did make a lot of money for basically no results over 6 years and while making all that money got his son’s education paid for………….not by him. And then to prove the point snuck out of town without even saying goodbye or thanks for the cash or nothing. Sorry, he has not credibility……………..

      .”He did win the Pac12 South one year. And he was named national head coach of the year.”..
      ..Best joke I have heard all year.

      Go Buffs
      Credibility is important eh?

  23. Here’s another funny thought. I’m full of ’em today… Maybe our pal Jim will look to get the CSU gig? Not too bad a commute from his place in Boulder, right?

    I’m sure he’s lobbying for one of the FL open spots. Or would think he is, if he really wants to be the head guy again.

    Anyway, landing him at CSU would really put the coaching vs. talent debate to the test, yeah? I think it’d be hilarious.

    Go Buffs

  24. As to USC keeping Helton? Only USC would consider firing a guy who’s won a conference championship, won their division a couple times, and went 8-4 with a new OC and their 2nd and 3rd string QBs.

    Now, as always, it’s a new year next year. And, Wilner’s right. Hell, he’s probably late. Helton Watch has already started.

    Yeah, who wants to be a D1 head football coach? Nutty.

    Go Buffs.

  25. Interesting how some would give the gardner 7 years and yet only give HCMT 2 years.

    Interesting how some would expect at a minimum 5 and 7 from a team that averaged 5 wins a year over the last 6 years of the gardner

    Interesting how some would expect more than the 3 wins in conference from a team that averaged a little of 2 for the last 6 years.

    The depth of the team is as it was the last 6 years. Not much.

    Next year will be the next step in the growth year of the Mighty Buffs under HCMT.
    If it’s another 5 and 7 year? He gets a couple of more years for sure.
    The previous coach who got 6 years went 6 and 18 in his first 2 and won 1 conference game in that time frame.

    I expect a much better overall performance next year from the HCMT coaching staff and the players. The talent that is leaving (Except Viska ….thanks Chev) is mediocre to midland. No offense to the players. Just how it is. No real development from the previous staff.

    So next big thing is the signing day in December
    Then the signing day in Feb. (The 4 star rb is not going to sign to February… I don’t like that.

    Then off we go to the next season and the spring camp and the summer camp and the fall camp.
    The days and weeks will drag by but the months will fly by and then here we go again.

    Can’t wait.

    Buffs.

    1. Good morning. You’re being passive aggressive again.

      I just have one question this morning. For ten years you said the talent was there to win. For ten years you said it was a matter of coaching. Now, suddenly, despite the best roster CU has had since rick to Gary, you lament about a bare cupboard. How is that?

      Go Buffs

      1. How is it that you would still have gardner coaching but already putting the pressure on HCMT…ie next year.

        It is not the best roster since rick to Gary…..You need to prove that…………….Fake news.

        For ten years it has been a matter of coaching. And it was. The proof is the DC in 2016. Other than that there was nothing.

        Anyway

        Buffs

        1. Now that’s funny. I’m putting pressure on Mel? Nobody here puts pressure on anyone in that building. But, I do apply a little to you, particularly when your logic flips b/c you like a guy or you don’t.

          Now, I know you know these facts, you just choose to ignore them b/c they don’t serve your latest narrative, but since you want me to show you, here you go (hopefully Stu doesn’t blow me out for too long a post).

          Rick to Gary, 8-4 in 1998 to 7-5 in 1999. 1999 roster included Mike Moschetti, and Bobby Pesavento, two decent CU QBs.

          O Line: Brad Bedell and Andre Gurode, those two guys did ok, yeah? Gurode played what, a decade in the NFL? Bedell made it too, right?

          TE: Daniel Graham. Dude did ok, yeah?

          WR: Marcus Stiggers, Javon Green

          RBs were OK, but not stellar – at least I don’t remember them beyond maybe Cortlen Johnson.

          But still that’s a decent offense, yeah? I mean you got a few NFL linemen, TE and serviceable D1 QBs there.

          On D they had guys like DBs: Michael Lewis, he only played what, a decade in the NFL? Rashidi Barnes was ok; Medford Moorer, Ben Kelley, Damen Wheeler, etc.

          Linebackers: Jashon Sykes, Ty Gregorak, Drew Wahlroos, pretty stout group there.

          D line, they only had guys like Justin Bannan.

          That 1999 team put four guys into the NFL in the 2000 draft, up from three in the 1999 draft.

          Now, from Gary to Dan, 2005 to 2006, we went from 7-6 (which I would argue was a bit of a farce, thanks to a weak Big 12 north, and as exhibit #1, 70-3) to 2-10 in 2006. Ugh. The horror. Nevertheless, the roster had:

          QB: Bernard Jackson, James Cox and Cody Hawkins. Super stellar lineup there. For sure.

          O line: Tyler Polumbus was a stud of sorts, but took a while to get there. Other “big names” included Daniel Sanders, Brian Daniels, and some others. Not quite Andre Gurode caliber, right?

          WR: Patrick Williams was the marquee guy, if I recall; Dusty Sprague did ok (for a smaller guy). But, seems like Gary inherited a better bunch, yeah? Weren’t most of the rest of the WRs in 2006 walk ons?

          RB: Hugh was a stud. Not an NFL stud, but certainly a solid D1 guy.

          TE: Riar Greer. Solid, but…

          On D you had guys like George Hypolite on the DL. He was a stud. I am not sure Justin Bannan stud, but maybe close?

          LBs: Thaddeus Washington and Jordan Dizon were the guys there, I think. Still I don’t think they were the caliber of Wahlroos, Sykes and Gregorak, do you?

          DB’s: Terrence Wheatley and Ryan Walters were the guys. Solid. Not sure they were Michael Lewis or Rashidi Barnes solid though.

          On to 2010 to 2011 from Dan to Jon, 5-7 to 3-10. Jon’s roster wasn’t great, and he certainly wasn’t loaded w/ guys to fit the style they wanted to implement on offense, nor probably defense.

          Jon had as QB – Tyler Hansen. Stevie Joe Dorman. Brent Burnette. Connor Wood (I believe you anointed him the savior when he transferred?) Impressive. With no slight to Tyler. He was actually an OK D1 QB. Not Moschetti or Pesavento OK, but… OK. Kinda Hawkins OK.

          O line: Daniel Munyer and Bahktiari were probably the guys there.

          WR: Paul Richardson. Tony Clemons. Spruuuuuuuce (as a freshman). Not bad.

          TE: nobody terrific

          RB: Speedy! Stud. D1 stud. Not NFL stud.

          On D? Had some decent DB’s; Jared Bell, Ray Polk, Anthony Perkins, etc. Solid, but not great.

          LB’s, Doug Rippy and Derek Webb were probably the guys, right? Meh.

          DLine: Will Pericek, Nate Bonsu, Chidera, they were the guys?

          Wow, this is long! Good thing I have a fair amount of free time (and answer my phone, email, and get a little work in between).

          2012 to 2013, Jon to Mike. From 1-11 to 4-8. Hey, there was hope. Mike inherited:

          QB – your boy Connor Wood, that highly touted guy from TX you probably thought would be a hero, who just never quite got there. Sefo Liufau as a freshman. With Jordan Gerhke and Jordan Webb. That’s a solid QB room right there.

          WR: DD, Paul, and some up and coming freshman (Ross, Bobo) and a developing Spruce. Not bad, considering.

          RB: Christian Powell and Tony Jones and Michael Adkins were the guys, I think. Phil was there, but didn’t he redshirt to rehab his knee still?

          OL: Weren’t Jeremy Irwin, Jack Harris and Stephone Nembot the guys? Serviceable.

          So there’s nobody at QB, an OK Oline, maybe (freshmen that year ended up being better though). Stud at WR, but? That’s that.

          And lastly, friggin whew, from Mike to Mel, 2018 to 2019, 5-7 to 5-7. Mel inherited:

          QB: 3rd yr starter and “possible” NFL draft pick QB, backed up by 4-star, 3yr guy, and 3-star guy whose dad was a stud college and serviceable NFL QB. I call that an improvement for every transition since Rick to Gary.

          RB: Fontenot and Mangham. I think we’re seeing Fontenot can be the guy. He has NFL potential, if he can realize it. Mangham? Certainly has the physical tools. Does he get the mental side of it?

          Oline: Purcell, likely an NFL guy. Lynott, may get a shot at the league. He brought in Hambright, good get; maybe underperformed a bit. Sherman, likely an NFL guy. Plus some serviceable guards, and rotational guys. I’d call that an upgrade, but it is admittedly hard to tell b/c projecting some of the youth. He’s certainly got some good dudes that he’s recruiting, but most of those guys were here.

          WR: Um, do I need to list these guys relative to other transitions? I will if you aren’t familiar. Let me know.

          TE: Brady likely gets a shot at the league. He works too damn hard, and is too damn smart. The rest of the guys? We’ll see. Very glad he’ll be back next year.

          Defense, on the Line: Mustafa – will be in the league. Terrence Lang? Could get a shot at the NFL. Too bad they couldn’t keep Izzy, b/c he may be an NFL guy. Again, Mel did a nice job bolstering that group, no doubt. Here’s to hoping they will develop as expected.

          LBs: Landman – could be. They may not like his speed, but maybe he’ll get a shot as special teams guy, or situational lb? Akil Jones is coming on. By his own admission, injuries and focus hindered him previously. Change of voice in his head may have helped, but… it’s really still Els, who is a solid coach.

          DBs, we know the story there. Definitely a weak area that Mel has built up nicely, it seems. But, he did lose 4 experienced guys from that group who “might” have made a difference. None were NFL guys though.

          So yeah, all in all, I say Mel inherited a whole lot more talent and depth, across the board, than any other coaching transition since Rick to Gary.

          Were there outliers in each position group over the last 20yrs? Sure. But, overall, the talent and depth is way better from Mike to Mel than any other transition.

          Just the facts, bub. And, the fact is, the cupboard was not bare. Does it need better stocking? Absolutely. It has for 20yrs. That is my point. Here’s to hoping Mel continues the improvement.

          I’m sure you’ll either go crickets, or quibble with some minor oversights or discrepancies in this review, but… the point is the same. Mel inherited a better roster than any other coach since Rick to Gary.

          And, as to my thoughts on Mel? Basically the same as with every other first year coach. Guardedly optimistic. A bit disappointed in the record, given the talent on offense he inherited. But? I chalk that up to a learning curve all around for first year staff, players, etc. And, as I’ve said, this 5-7 season definitely “felt” better than last year’s 5-7 season.

          They’re still in the win close/lose close phase though. Mel has to break through that.

          I really hope we’re not having this same conversation again in three or five more years.

          Go Buffs.

          1. Eric, Congrats! You now have the current record for longest post in CUATTHE GAME history. I think Stuart’s server just crashed.

          2. Totally, 96. I almost patted myself on the back for that. However, I cringed as I wrote it, and posted it, but I knew since LaVar would never, ever go into detailed roster comparisons, and would continue harping on my doing so to prove my point? Well, there we go.

            Another arrow in that argument’s quiver that I opted to gloss over – if anyone wants to take it on – is looking at the NFL draft guys (and un-drafted free agents) in year 1 of every new coach. Presumably that would indicate they inherited some talent.

            My guess is Mel’s 2020 draft class will have more guys than any since, well? Gary’s 2000 class (following his first year in 1999). Now, LaVar will credit Mel for developing them in that one-year’s span, but then… what about the backup QB’s he says didn’t develop at all? Other positions? Man, his pretzel logic is Hi Larious.

            I’m out. At least for long posts.

            Go Buffs.

          3. Now that was an earache.
            So what’s yur point Your praise of the team that HCMT inherited from FHCMM and there future is total speculation and hope. Similar to your hope for FHCMM to retire here even though after 3 years the truth was evident. HIs coaching staff was abysmally down level. 2016 was an anomaly and without the DC it would have been like all the other years under FHCMM. I mean look who he replaced him with for the bowl game. And then hired. Chev could coach WR and as recruiter help turn the Mighty Buffs around. But he wasn’t an OC…………at least not yet. FHCMM was a total failure at CU.

            He couldn’t recruit a lick.

            I was hoping woods would be the guy. So where you. I was hoping Montez would be the guy. So were you. He wasn’t. NFL?? Free agent contract?
            And did the qb before him make it? Asking for a friend. Drafted? All talk no personal improvement………….Same bad habits……….But I wish him well. Don’t forget the 2nd stringer qb was so good he was moved to DB

            TE. Weak and you know it. Nice little attitude. But nfl ST. Bisharat was a tight end. There is some heavy depth. Another one went on the transfer portal. I had high hopes for him too.

            RB? Ya okay but only one. No Depth. So you think the new RB is dumb and can’t handle it mentally? Nice. Running game was so much better this year. Coaching? Nah.

            Receivers? You can thank Chev. FHCMM was useless in recruiting. He was good at accepting awards though.

            The Oline. Hmmmmm The Oline was much better this year than the last two years. Same personnel from a depth standpoint but the coaching was so much better than what FHCMM provided from an assistant coaching standpoint. Much better and the rise here is showing eh? But even with that the QB just couldn’t make it happen. Old habits for such a young guy too. But maybe the football future is bright for him
            The offense under FHCMM has been middling or worse since he showed up. HCMT got a weak offensive present from FHCMM

            The defense was ok then bad then pretty damn good.
            DLine…………..Some nfl players there? Maybe Sami one year….Some good freshman too………oh wait they don’t count in what FHCMM passed on to HCMT.

            Now landman and that crew was a nice small gift to HCMT. Actually a very nice gift with Wells etc.

            DB’s…………….a joke ……………half left when they realized this was now bigboy football……………FHCMM did go after any of em…………Decommit DB’s too. No FHMM chasing any of them. How funny.

            Receivers turned to DB’s. No depth….No experience. Anyone to the nfl in this group? What was your favorite word above? Serviceable?

            Fact is HCMT inherited a bare cupboard. Some talent with no depth. Now that talent except for Viska was as you say………………all serviceable.

            Serviceable equals mediocrity. No depth equals a losing record. Hence FHCMM legacy……………………..

            You can ache your ear all you want about how this is the best transfer blah blah blahblah………….. since…………..blah blah blah…………………..It may be……………don’t care………….cause it is not relevant……………….what is relevant is that it was a midland team with no depth………………….. that was handed to HCMT.

            And you are disappointed cause they didn’t make a bowl.

            Every game every year for the last seven you stated. I know the coaches will get it figure out. They are professionals. They will do it. Just so close now. Blah blah blah………………..You could’t see the gardner for the weeds.

            Anyway yur a good speculator but your picture is broken.

            Go Buffs.

            And a freshman shall lead them…………………….be here in the spring.

          4. Oh LaVar, good effort. The future is always speculation and hope. Always.

            My point? Mel inherited the best roster compared to any other coaching transition since Rick to Gary. That’s quite clear.

            2016 team produced four draft picks from the defense, and four others who got UDFA deals. None were brought in by your pal Jim. Yeah. His year with them was yuge, and created their success. Oh. Ok.

            Receivers? I definitely give Chev credit for bringing them in. I still wonder why they don’t seem to perform to their expectations though. Had to have been the last HC, right?

            O Line. There you go. Dudes who coached them for a year made them better, but they cannot coach the QBs and make them better? Other position groups? What? Try again?

            Freshmen Mel brought in? I give him full credit for that. No qualms there. Doesn’t take away from the existing guys he inherited though.

            You still say Mel inherited a bare cupboard. That’s just false. It fits your new narrative though, that fits the guy you like.

            Mel got a better cupboard than any other coaching transition since Rick to Gary. Fully stocked? Nope. That’s the problem. If it were fully stocked, we’d be winning.

            Hopefully Mel will get us there.

            And yes, I’m disappointed every year they don’t make a bowl. That’s a lot of disappointment over the last 20yrs, my man. I believe that’s one thing we agree upon.

            And, I’m always guardedly optimistic, and filled with hope for the future instead of sour grapes about the past.

            Good luck twisting your logic this off season.

            I’ll keep it real.

            Go Buffs.

        2. Ear of the Ache,

          Yur point is what? He got a better transfer of a team than the 3 previous coaches? So what? They were all incompetent anyway.

          That transfer team to HCMT was less than mediocre That senior class was 24 and 26 and if not for the DC it would have been much worse.

          So Go look at 2018 and 2019 roster and the depth chart.

          You might learn something.

          Buffs.

          Fact: FHCMM took the money and ran. Didn’t even say good bye.

          The cupboard was bare………………and you can change the discussion to who got the best transfer class………………makes no difference…………..

          Anyway done……………

  26. Yo az,

    Ep liked him a lot. But mostly cause he hated HWSRN so much and wants us all to know that it was Peterson not the flimflam man #1

    The Buff cupboard is going from bare to kinda full. Even with the “loss” of those 17 seniors.

    Go Buffs.

    Note: Did you here that garden hats (Alias flimflam man #2) boss was fired today?

    1. This year may have been Peterson’s worst W/L record ever. If not its close. He probably shamed himself with that letdown.
      Yup…heard Mickey was fired as well being collateral damage to the peeing dog posture…among other things I’m sure. Do Ole (Not Ol) Miss assistants get a buyout? Even if they dont Mickey has enough money to retire nicely….and being a stand up Christian guy, materialism shouldnt matter that much. He should follow Jimmy Carter into his form of retirement doing good deeds for the less fortunate instead of making football players less fortunate.

  27. AZ, head football coaches get zero time off. Zero.

    Heck, I always say to my wife – to her chagrin – I never get a day off, but I have a lot of free time. And, I am not a football coach. Talk about a friggin’ 24/7 grind. And, really, only about 20% -30% of their “job” is football related. They’ve got 105 kids, countless staff, etc. donors, speaking engagements, and all the things that go into that, battering them about. Daily. Not to mention the pressure to win, etc. It’s never ending. Petey also has a special needs kid. It’s one reason he went to Boise and stayed there so long. Their support system was solid there. Seattle and UW were also well set up to help on that front.

    Do head coaches make a crap-ton? Yeah. But, in most cases, move their families every 3-5 years. More frequently as they work to get to that point. Would I want that gig? No. Would you? Would any of us?

    You have to be a little bit masochistic to choose that as your profession. There really are many easier ways to make a lot of money. And, you have to really love the “developing kids into adults” aka teaching piece too. Crazy. I think we fans forget that.

    Ultimately, they’re just dudes doing what they do, giving it all they got. Even when some of us think they may not be (and yes, just like anything, there are dirtbags in that profession too, just like any/every walk of life, but… that’s a whole other story, and like in life the % of dirtbags is relatively low). But I digress.

    It’ll be really interesting to see how Lake does up there. He was my preferred choice to come to CU after Mac got canned. Rumor has it, he was offered the job and declined it. Maybe now we know why.

    So far, Mel’s doing OK. I’m a bit disappointed in the W/Ls of the year, but like most of us, 5-7 “feels” better this year than the last two. Hopefully that’s not just another illusion. I think that’s the best first year record of any new CU coach since Rick to Gary (and the roster was also the best since that transition) so maybe that should have been the lowest expectation, but? There were some marquee events/wins, that somehow make it feel better than just another 5-7 bowl-less season just like every other year of the last 15 (2016 excepted).

    2020 is when the rubber meets the road. We need a friggin’ QB, that’s for sure. Not much margin for error there. Hopefully someone can step up whether the dudes that are there now, the freshman or a grad transfer. Without a QB, it could get really ugly before it gets better.

    Go Buffs.

  28. ep’s favorite coach suffers burnout. I assume he will maybe surface again as Urban Meyer did but who knows. With the new early signing date I understand that college football coaches get very little time off and once the fall practice begins in Aug. it is a 16/hrs/day for those that are consumed by the job.

    Hope this doesn’t happen to HCMT before he gets this CU thing turned around. Of course Peterson has been at it once he took over for that Coach of all Coaches, the “Great Hawk.”

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