Kliff Kingsbury seems to have it all…except one hot Arkansas football fan.
Orangebloods.com reports that former Super Bowl champion head coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden is open to hearing from the Texas athletic department about its football head coaching vacancy.
Our sources confirm that report is true. Texas’ interest in Gruden is unknown.
The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley reports that Charlie Strong would not be interested in the Texas job, but our sources indicate that’s not necessarily so.
On the record, Strong gave the typical “coach speak” response.
“I don’t even think about it,” he told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I don’t even worry about it. I have a good job here. … The only thing I can control is what’s happening right here.”
There are lots of rumors that Arizona State head coach Todd Graham could be a backup candidate at Texas — despite a legal agreement AD Steve Patterson signed when he left Arizona State for Texas that he wouldn’t hire any ASU coaches.
The guess is the two sides could come up with some sort of compensation for Graham should the ‘Horns get that far. We doubt they do.
Ex-Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe told CBS Charlotte that he’d be interested in Army job.
“Absolutely, mainly because I love the academies,” Grobe said. “I spent eleven years at the Air Force Academy with Fisher DeBerry and those kids are in my heart. I have not talked to them, so whether that’s something they would want, it’s certainly something I’m interested in.”
Sources indicate former USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton has emerged as a very strong candidate to replace the fired Brent Pease at Florida. We’re told head coach Will Muschamp is getting a lot of “not interested” as he calls around.
The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Rutgers coach Kyle Flood filled one of the three vacancies on his staff today, naming 34-year coaching veteran Mitch Browning as the team’s new offensive line coach.
Arizona State announced Wednesday morning it has promoted offensive coordinator Mike Norvell to role of Deputy Head Coach.
Sources indicate Norvell had been a top target to be the new offensive coordinator at Florida.
Arkansas State is interviewing a whole slew of candidates, so nobody seems to know where the search will end. Sources indicate they feel really good about Arizona State’s Norvell and UNC’s Blake Anderson.
CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman reports that Red Wolves officials spoke to Butch Davis but that he was not interested.
New UConn head coach Bob Diaco confirmed to the Hartford Courant that only offensive line coach Mike Foley had been retained.
Mike Szvetitz of the Opelika-Auburn News reports that other than the initial terms of Auburn coach Gus Malzhan’s new contract extension, no other details have been finalized – including the buyout.
Arkansas coach Brett Bielema isn’t in any hurry to hire a defensive line coach to replace Charlie Partridge, who left to be the head coach at FAU.
“I have half a dozen names that have come across my desk in the last 48 hours that are very intriguing that I’m definitely researching,” he told ArkansasNews.com. “I probably won’t bring anybody in until after the first of the year.
“I might talk to about half a dozen guys by phone, kind of off the record, and see where it’s at.”
Former Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brian Knorr joined the Air Force coaching staff on a retreat Tuesday and the is in talks to join the Falcons as a defensive assistant.
New Miami (Ohio) coach Chuck Martin has announced three additions to his coaching staff: Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach George Barnett, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Eric Koehler and tight ends coach Pat Welsh.
Barnett and Koehler were at Illinois State last season while Welsh was a GA at Notre Dame.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman announced that offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has agreed to a one-year contract extension that includes an increase in annual salary to $500,000 per year and keeps him on the Fighting Illini sideline through the 2015 season.
GigEm247 reports that Texas A&M co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Marcel Yates will be defensive coordinator on Bryan Harsin’s Boise State staff.
Yates has been part of Kevin Sumlin’s staff for two seasons. He played his college ball at Boise and was defensive backs at his alma mater for nine seasons from 2003-11.
New Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson announced on Monday that Kevin Higgins, the head coach at The Citadel, will be joining the Demon Deacon coaching staff.
Higgins will serve as the assistant head coach and will coach a yet to be determined position on offense.
“I am extremely excited that Kevin Higgins has accepted our offer to join our football staff at Wake Forest,” said Clawson. “Kevin has wealth of football knowledge gained as a head coach and also through his experience in the NFL as a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach. He will be a great addition to our staff.”
Higgins was a 99-83-1 record in 16 years as a head coach. He was the head coach for seven seasons at Lehigh from 1994-2000, leading the Mountain Hawks to 56-25-1 record and three appearances in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Florida Atlantic is expected to name Arkansas associate head coach and defensive line coach Charlie Partridge to fill its vacant head coaching position.
Partridge interviewed for the FAU position Friday and has been offered the job. A source told the Sun-Sentinel that Partridge will be announced as FAU’s hire early next week.
He beat out Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton for the job.
A Plantation, Fla. native, Partridge has developed a reputation as one of the best recruiters in south Florida.
Partridge followed Bret Bielema to Arkansas last year. He served as one of Arkansas’ lead recruiters for running back Alex Collins, the SEC Freshman of the Year, and offensive lineman Denver Kirkland, a freshman all-SEC selection.
Prior to Arkansas, Partridge spent five years as an assistant at Wisconsin.
Photo: M.P. King, Wisconsin State Journal
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema says that Auburn isn’t playing fair when it comes to game tape.
“There are just some clips that haven’t — shall we say, the TV copy doesn’t match the film copy,” Bielema told reporters Monday. “And it’s something we have kind of been aware of now for the last week and half in getting our preparation.
“So we can use other film and stuff like that to make sure we are getting the full picture.”
The missing clips Bielema is referring to involve Auburn’s “swinging gate” formation used on extra points. The Tigers used the formation on extra points to convert two-point conversions early in the season.
Bielema said the Arkansas staff was not aware of the formation until it compared TV and game footage.
“So, if I hadn’t watched the TV copy, or if our guys hadn’t had a the time to go back and review, we would have never known that to happen,” Bielema said. “I’m sure it’s a glitch. I know Gus stands for everything that’s right and (has) great faith in doing things right. So I’m sure it’s just a glitch that they’ll get to the bottom of.”
Bielema brought up the matter unprompted by reporters, and, as an al.com report pointed out, he appears to have violated an SEC rule by doing so.
“If teams believe violations of the video exchange policies have occurred, it should be reported immediately to the SEC supervisor of officials and not be discussed in the media,” according to the rule in the SEC’s bylaws.
This isn’t Bielema’s first issue involving game film. Last season at Wisconsin, he refused to share film with Oregon State because the Beavers’ film of their season opener was lost due to a hurricane.
For its part, the SEC office considers any discussions concerning film discrepancies confidential and will not comment publicly, but a league source told al.com that it did not have a major issue with the film discrepancy.
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen Alabama’s offensive line job came earlier this month, one of Nick Saban’s first calls was to Arkansas assistant Sam Pittman.
Pittman, who had joined Bret Bielema’s staff just two months before, stayed loyal to his new boss and the move paid off with a contract extension and hefty raise.
According to Robbie Nieswanger of the Northwest Arkansas Times, Pittman will now be paid $500,000 (up from $275,000) and received a two-year contract extension through June 30, 2016.
Bielema was excited to hang onto his new line coach, especially when Saban was the one calling.
“It’s been good to keep some guys, especially when you get in some in-conference battles,” Bielema said. “I know this: my coaches think we have a great situation here. I think they like being here. I think they’re very intrigued and excited about the environment, the culture.”
Pittman is now the third-highest paid member of the Razorback staff. Coordinators Jim Chaney and Chris Ash earn $550,000 per year.
Pittman spent the 2012 season on Derek Dooley’s staff at Tennessee. Before that, he had a five-year stint at North Carolina (2007-11).
A 19-year coaching veteran, Pittman’s career also includes stops at Northern Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Western Michigan, Oklahoma and Cincinnati.
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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n case case anyone is wondering, Bobby Petrino is still a hot button issue with Arkansas fans.
The new Western Kentucky coach went in studio for an interview with Nashville’s WGFX 104.5 The Zone’s 3HL show on Tuesday, and managed to set off a firestorm among Razorback fans.
In the interview, Petrino accepted responsibility for the 4-8 season that came in the wake of his firing last April, but managed to peeve Arkansas fans with his comments that Western’s facilities were “way better” than Arkansas’ when Petrino first arrived in Fayetteville.
Like him or not, Petrino knows the game and has never been afraid to speak his mind. Lost in the uproar was a candid and interesting interview in which he shared his thoughts on the pistol formation and the evolution of offenses in college and the NFL, what he looks for in a quarterback, his plan for WKU, his “FTS” philosophy, some of his past coaching experiences and a lot more.
Below are some of the highlights.
On how much he is looking forward to getting back on the field this fall:
“It’ll be fun. You put a smile on my face just talking about it. You really miss it when you’re not out there, so to be able to get back on the field and work with young men and try to help them excel is something I’m really looking forward to.”
On how tough it was to spend a year out of coaching:
“It was very, very difficult. It’s always been a way of life for me, not necessarily a job. I grew up the son of a coach and it was just something you did every year, every fall. It was difficult, and then to watch them struggle and not play the way they played before, I felt a lot of responsibility for that.”
On what he did to keep up with the game during his season off:
“I was able to acquire video. From the previous year, I studied the NFL teams that were really good on offense — the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New York Giants. Then I was able to get each week, acquire some video from the SEC teams. I tried to stay involved as much as possible with what was new, what was Johnny Football doing to get Texas A&M in the end zone so often? It was really just trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything.”
On whether or not he believes the trend of running quarterbacks is here to stay:
“I think that’s just what you do is you incorporate your offense around your talent. What his skills are and his speed and his ability to run the football, it’s kind of like what the San Francisco 49ers did this year with (Colin) Kaepernick, you mold the offense around what your play caller can do. I think there’s some run parts of it that everyone will try to utilize, and if nothing else, they do it in practice so they learn how to stop it, but he is a special talent. I hired the offensive coordinator from Nevada thinking that we were going to have a running quarterback and we were going to go in that direction, but he is a talent. His speed, and his ability to be from right behind the center and then get out on the edge – I don’t think there’s a lot of quarterbacks that can do what he can do.”
On what he looks for when recruiting a quarterback:
“The first thing that you look for is a young man that is intelligent, and can learn – and is a willing learner. A guy that wants to get in and really understand defenses and have an understanding of exactly what you’re trying to do. They have to be able to spin the ball – throw the football – and I always try to make sure that I can see them in person because you really can’t tell off video. You have to be able to see their arm strength and that they at least have the ability to make all the different throws. And then, I like to recruit guys that have a proven track record of winning. The young man we got this year, one of the reasons we decided to go on him over some of the other guys we were looking at, is he was a three-year starter that has won every year in high school, and this year took his team to a very high level. That is something that really interests me.”
On whether or not the college game is leading the NFL in terms of offensive development:
“I think it comes back to the ability to run the football in a different manner. Now that you’re seeing the quarterback runs and the option runs out of the shotgun and pistol … You always have to be able to run the ball to win games, at some point – whether its the first quarter or the fourth quarter – it is going to be about who runs the ball better and who can stop the run. Obviously, the thing that was really impressive to me this year was how well those young quarterbacks played in the NFL. You used to never hear that, and I didn’t know if it had ever really happened because it’s such a different game, it’s so fast and windows are so small. It’s very impressive that those guys came in and excelled like they did this year.”
On the reception he’s received from Western Kentucky’s fans:
“It’s been great. I’m really excited to be there, and the support that we have. We had a signing party the other night and had 400 boosters come for it.”
On comparing Arkansas’ facilities when he first arrived in Fayetteville to WKU’s:
“I tell you what, it’s unbelievable the facilities we have at WKU. The weight room, training room and locker room are way off the charts, way better than what we had at Arkansas. They did a great job of designing the new facility, because our offices and meeting rooms are in great shape. My brother told me because he interviewed for the job four years ago told me how nice it was, but I really couldn’t understand it until I got there and saw it for myself.”
On how fast he thinks Western Kentucky can transition to his system:
“We’re going to have to do it fast. We went out and really worked hard on recruiting. The good thing is there’s three starters coming back on the offensive front, two really good tight ends back and a great running back. It’s going to be developing the passing game, and really working hard on the timing and the precision of it, getting the quarterback and the receivers and the offensive line in sync. It’ll be fun, but I think we can get it done in a short period of time.”
On what he expects from his quarterbacks this year:
“We’re going to have three guys that really compete for it this spring. It’ll be fun. It’s good competition. It’s wide open. They get to go in and determine who’s going to come out of spring ball as the starter. It doesn’t mean they will be the starter in the fall, but we will have somebody come out as a No. 1 in spring ball. What they need to do first of all is really learn and execute, and do what the coaches want them to do which is understand the offense, and understand defenses. I think that’s the thing that is so important at the quarterback position is to know what defenses are trying to do and the philosophy behind who you’re going against. One of our philosophies has always been FTS, which is ‘feed the studs.’ They need to learn how to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers and let them make the plays. That makes you a lot better coach – when you have a lot of guys that can make plays and a quarterback that can understand how to get the ball to them.”
On how much money he made in is first college coaching job:
“I went to Weber State as a gradate assistant, and I got a stipend check of $245 a month. We ate a lot of Top Ramen. Four of us lived together, one guy slept on the couch … but it was fun. We enjoyed it. When I was at the University of Idaho after my first year, I was elevated to the offensive coordinator and I went from making $29,000 a year to $36,000 a year and I thought that was pretty awesome. And then when we left Utah State where I was making $50,000 a year as the offensive coordinator and we came to the University of Louisville, it was the first time we hit six figures.”
On how he got the Jacksonville Jaguars’ job:
“I was sitting in the meeting room with my brother, Paul, and we were watching video from the year before, right around this time. … The secretary came in and said, ‘There’s a guy by the name of Tom Coughlin on the phone,’ and we both kind of laughed and joked, yeah right. … I went and got on the phone and Coach Coughlin told me his offensive coordinator just left and took the head job with the Cleveland Browns and he wanted to hire a young quarterback coach and grow him in to be the coordinator. … I flew down there, went through the interview. … I really didn’t want to take the job. I was real hesitant about taking it, but I didn’t want to look back 10 years from now and say, ‘What if I would’ve done it?’ … Went and did it and had a great experience.”
On, coming from the Jacksonville Jaguars, what he asked for from Tommy Tuberville for as a condition of accepting the job at Auburn:
“When I grew up, I was a coach’s kid. I got to go to practice everyday, I was the end in the triple option read – had to take quarterback, take the pitch or go to feather, play it soft – I was in the locker room all the time, on the sideline during games. In the NFL, my kids weren’t able to do that. They weren’t able to be on the sideline or be in the locker room. So, the only thing that I said to Tommy is, I’d love to take the job, but I want my two boys to be able to be on the sideline. He said, ‘Done, we’ve got a deal.’ “
You can listen to the full interview here.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his time next week, former Arkansas assistants Paul Petrino and Paul Haynes will have just put the finishing touches on their first-ever recruiting classes as head coaches.
But Petrino, now at Idaho, and Haynes, at his alma mater Kent State, told Sporting News writer Steve Greenberg that they might still be in Fayetteville if not for some serious missteps by the Razorback administration in the wake of Bobby Petrino’s abrupt firing last April.
The biggest of those mistakes was signing John L. Smith to a short-term deal.
“I don’t think an A.D. should ever hire somebody for 10 months,” Paul Petrino said. “Players know what that means; they understand that. It hurts the power of the head coach and the assistants.
“They should’ve hired (Smith) for two years or hired someone else for two years, or just (expletive)-canned all of us.”
Haynes went through a similar situation at Ohio State after Jim Tressel was fired and believes Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long could’ve learned from the Buckeyes.
“Even if they had a plan to get rid of us no matter what, which I think they did, you say two years and I think the kids dig in,” Haynes said. “When you give 10 months, everyone is on egg shells.”
Petrino said that Smith, now head coach at D-II Fort Lewis College and who was also interviewed in the article, was in a no-win situation and may not have gotten a best effort from anyone – coaches or players.
“It was also hard for John L. with assistants,” he said, “maybe even with me. And I love John; outside of my brother and my dad, that’s the person in football I love the most. … I don’t necessarily know if he was ever able to be himself all the way.”
Quarterback Tyler Wilson made headlines when he said that some of his teammates “gave up” in a 52-0 loss to Alabama in week three. Petrino said that by November, it was clear some players were putting their own interests over doing what they could to help the team win.
“There were some seniors who kind of hung it up, to be honest with you,” Petrino said. “They were going to worry about their futures more than that team. A couple seniors said they were hurt and I don’t know if they really were.”
Haynes agreed that some Razorback veterans mailed it in, but he doesn’t blame them. Instead, he blames the administration’s poor decision-making that Haynes feels set the team up for failure.
“Again, it goes back to, ‘Who am I playing for?’,” he said. “Once they can’t say, ‘We’re trying to save the coaches’ jobs’—if they’re just playing for the university, sometimes kids feel the university let them down.”
You can read Greenberg’s full article here.