Coach Speak: Rumors & News

Coach Speak: Rumors & News

Fresno State legend Jim Sweeney passes away

Jim Sweeney is 19th on college football's all-time wins list. (Photo: Mary A. Lommori/Fresno Bee)

Jim Sweeney is college football’s 19th winningest coach. (Photo: Mary A. Lommori/Fresno Bee)

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]egendary Fresno State head coach Jim Sweeney passed away Friday at the age of 83.

Sweeney led the Bulldogs for 19 seasons, and is Fresno State’s all-time winningest coach with 144 victories. His Bulldog teams won eight conference championships and five bowl games.

“Jim Sweeney is a Bulldog legend who will be deeply missed in our community,” Fresno State’s University President John D. Welty said. “Not only was he one of Fresno State’s most successful football coaches, but he was also a man who loved his student-athletes, first as individuals, and second as athletes, making their well-being a priority.

“Jim was devoted to Fresno and to our university – he embodied the true Bulldog spirit.”

Sweeney retired following the 1996 season, and the field at Bulldog Stadium was renamed Jim Sweeney Field.

“Our football team and staff are deeply saddened by the news of Coach Jim Sweeney’s death,” Bulldogs head coach Tim Deruyter said in a statement. “Coach Sweeney is an icon in college football who put Fresno State football on the national map. His larger than life personality and tenacity in which he coached the game are legendary.

“He will be sorely missed not only in Fresno and the Valley, but by the coaching community as a whole. We pray that Coach Sweeney’s family will be comforted by the knowledge that Coach’s impact was profound and his legacy will live in the hearts of the Red Wave for a long, long time.”

Born in Butte, Mont., Sweeney began his head coaching career at Montana State in 1963. After Montana State, Sweeney was head coach at Washington State from 1968-75, before being hired at Fresno State in 1976.

In 32 years as a head coach, Sweeney won 200 games which ranks 19th all-time.

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OC Kennedy Polamalu out at USC; Tedford a possibility?

Kennedy Polamalu is the fourth USC coach gone since the Trojans' Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech. (Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Kennedy Polamalu is the fourth USC coach gone since the Trojans’ Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech. (Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he fallout from USC’s disappointing 7-6 season continues.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Trojan offensive coordinator and running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu will not return next season.

Polamalu, who played fullback and linebacker at USC from 1982-85, is the the fourth Trojan coach to depart since the embarrassing Dec. 31 Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech.

Monte Kiffin, former assistant head coach for defense, resigned and is now the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. Linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton is defensive coordinator at Nevada and secondary coach Marvin Sanders was fired.

Polamalu, who was in his second stint as a USC assistant, joined Lane Kiffin’s staff in 2010. At that time, Polamalu was set to coach his first season with the Tennessee Titans when Kiffin hired him, a move that angered then-Titans coach and USC alum Jeff Fisher and prompted a lawsuit from the Titans. From 2000-2003, Polamalu coached running backs and special teams under Paul Hackett and Pete Carroll. reported that one source said Polamalu’s departure had been in the works for the past month. He did not attend USC’s Signing Day dinner Wednesday evening.

According to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, Polamalu said just days before the Sun Bowl that he had no intentions to leave.

“Until someone says, ‘Hey, I don’t want you here, you know, then I’ll maybe go and work on the academic side of the building,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot because this is where I want to be.”

Though Polamalu carried the offensive coordinator title, Kiffin maintained play calling duties. Kiffin gave Polamalu and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton added responsibility during Sun Bowl preparations, but Kiffin still called the plays.

Polamalu noted that while he would love to call the plays, he wasn’t optimistic that it would ever happen.

“I have a little personality flaw,” Polamalu said of his offensive philosophy. “I want to be real physical.”

The report states that Helton may be given the offensive coordinator title. However, one source told CoachScoop that frustrated administrators are pressuring Kiffin to look outside the program for help on offense, perhaps to former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford.

Trojan players past, present and future took to Twitter to express frustration and disappointment with the decision.

Former USC running back reactions:



Current USC player reactions:





USC running back signee reactions:



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Cam Cameron will be LSU offensive coordinator

Cam Cameron will be the new OC at LSU. (Photo: Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Cam Cameron will be the new OC at LSU. (Photo: Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ormer Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will become offensive coordinator at LSU, according to multiple reports.

Final details of deal are being ironed out and an official announcement is expected next week.

Cameron will replace Greg Studrawa, who would apparently remain with LSU as offensive line coach. Studrawa took over as play caller for the Tigers after Steve Kragthorpe stepped down as coordinator before the 2011 season due to a battle with Parkinson’s disease. Kragthorpe will stay on at LSU in an athletic department administrative position, a source said.

A longtime friend of Les Miles, Cameron worked with Miles at Michigan where they coached under the late Bo Schembechler.

Cameron was fired by Ravens coach John Harbaugh after a Week 14 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Harbaugh and Cameron have apparently remained on good terms, sending each other text messages throughout the Ravens’ playoff run, and Harbaugh said that Cameron will still receive a Super Bowl ring.

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Gregg Brandon bolts amid Wyoming staff shuffle

Gregg Brandon bolts from Wyoming to New Mexico State. (Photo: Alyssa Schukar/Toledo Blade)

Gregg Brandon has left Wyoming for New Mexico State. (Photo: Alyssa Schukar/Toledo Blade)

[dropcap]G[/dropcap]regg Brandon is leaving Wyoming to become the offensive coordinator at New Mexico State.

The move comes two days after Cowboys head coach Dave Christensen brought in ex-Idaho coach Jason Gesser to coach Wyoming’s quarterbacks – a position Brandon held along with the offensive coordinator title.

Asked about Gesser’s hiring, Brandon told the Laramie Star-Tribue, “Coach Christensen made that decision. That’s a good question for him.”

Regardless of the answer, Brandon is gone and new Aggie head coach Doug Martin is excited.

“This is one of the top recruits we got this year,” Martin said in a release. “Gregg (Brandon) brings a wealth of experience that is hard to find at this level, while being one of only two people I trust to hand over the play calling for this offense.”

Brandon spent the past two seasons as Wyoming’s offensive coordinator.

Brandon was Bowling Green’s head coach from 2003-08, taking over when Urban Meyer left for Utah. He was fired following a disappointing 6-6 in 2008 that saw the Falcons only win one home game.

Brandon served as Al Groh’s offensive coordinator at Virginia in 2009-10.

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Dantonio hires Ron Burton as defensive line coach

Ron Burton is Michigan State's new defensive line coach. (Photo: Air Force Athletics)

Ron Burton is Michigan State’s new defensive line coach. (Photo: Air Force Athletics)

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ichigan State has hired Ron Burton from Air Force as defensive line coach.

A 21-year coaching vet, Burton joins the Spartans’ staff after spending the past 10 seasons at with the Falcons.

“He was simply dynamic during the entire interview process,” Mark Dantonio said. “We had an opportunity to share some ideas last year in a professional development setting, and we believe Ron is a natural fit in terms of defensive terminology and concepts. He also brings great energy and management skills to the coaching staff. We look forward to seeing Ron interact with our players and watching our defensive linemen thrive under his teaching.”

Burton believes the marriage is a good fit all the way around.

“We sat and talked football, and I was simply amazed at how the staff handled things,” he said. “I also had heard so many positives about Coach Dantonio from my peers – they all talked about his leadership and how he promoted a family atmosphere. Well, I got a first-hand glimpse of how the defensive staff did interact like a family.”

Burton has experience coaching in the state of Michigan and in the Big Ten. He coached the defensive lines at both Grand Valley State and Eastern Michigan, and was part of a D-II national championship at GVSU in 2002. Prior to Grand Valley, Burton was the linebackers coach at Indiana for five seasons (1997-01).

Burton was a standout player at North Carolina and spent four seasons in the NFL.

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Arizona opens the pocket book for Rodriguez

After an 8-5 season, Rich Rodriguez is getting paid. (Photo: AP)

After an 8-5 season, Rich Rodriguez is getting paid. (Photo: AP)

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]nce one of the sexiest names in college football, Rich Rodriguez wasn’t exactly a hot commodity when he was hired by Arizona.

Fired at Michigan in 2010, Rodriguez spent 2011 out of football. Once seen as a sure thing hire, three tumultuous seasons in Ann Arbor and a year away from the game made him a risk, and risky assets come cheap.

Arizona hired Rodriguez in November 2011 for $1.5 million. (He makes another $300k from Nike and the Wildcats’ broadcast partner, IMG.) That made him the 10th highest-paid coach in the Pac-12, only ahead of Oregon State’s Mike Riley and Colorado’s now-fired Jon Embree.

In his first season, Rodriguez led Arizona to an 8-5 record and New Mexico Bowl victory, exceeding expectations. Now, it’s time to pay up.

Thursday, Arizona’s Board of Regents approved a raise for Rodriguez of $225,000 per year with an increase of $100,000 in base salary every Dec. 1, and a one-year contract extension through 2017. The new five-year deal will pay Rodriguez an average of $2.25 million per season, not including bonuses.

In the rarified air of college head coach salaries, Rodriquez is still underpaid. Last year, the average salary for a head coach at a BCS conference school was $2,370,959. He made $2.525 million at Michigan in 2010.

With an .610 winning percentage as the head coach of three BCS schools, Rodriguez could easily command a salary of $3 million or more – and he probably will if the Wildcats exceed expectations again next year.

You can read the details of Rodriguez’ extension below:

Rich Rodriguez extension - Page 1

Rich Rodriguez extension - Page 2

Rich Rodriguez extension - Page 3

Rich Rodriguez extension - Page 4Rich Rodriguez extension - Page 5

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Report: Scottie Montgomery to join Duke staff

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that former Duke player and coach Scottie Montgomery will return. (Photo: Duke Athletics)

Scottie Montgomery (Photo: Duke Athletics)

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Steelers wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery will become the offensive coordinator at Duke.

Montgomery played wide receiver at Duke from 1996–99 and later in the NFL for the Panthers, Broncos and Raiders.

Following his playing career, Montgomery returned to Duke to coach the Blue Devils’ wide receivers coach for four seasons (2006–2009). He was hired by the Steelers in 2010.

David Cutcliffe lost two staff members in recent weeks, passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick, who joined Mark Helfrich’s staff at Oregon, and tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Ron Middleton, who left for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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