Blake Anderson

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Sunday, Dec. 29

There’s certainly plenty of smoke that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is primed for a return to the NFL.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien will be named head coach of the Houston Texans. (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)It’s been making the news rounds the past couple of weeks, and now ESPN reports that O’Brien has emerged as the overwhelming favorite to become the next coach of the Houston Texans, and the two sides are working to get a deal in place within the next week.

Lions247 reports Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln five-star defensive tackle and Nittany Lions commit Thomas Holley spoke with O’Brien Saturday night regarding the ESPN report that O’Brien was in the process of working on a deal to become the Houston Texans next head coach.

“I just off the phone with him,” Holley told 247Sports Luke Stampini. “He said he isn’t going. It’s not true.”

The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reports that Texans owner Bob McNair said the search for the team’s next head coach “isn’t over.”

“The process continues,” he said. “We have other interviews scheduled next week. It isn’t over.”

CBSSports reports Chargers offensive coordinator and former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt will be given strong consideration for the Texans job.

Reports surfaced Friday that Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was expected to accept the same position on Steve Sarkisian’s USC staff.

Now, DuckTerritory is reporting that Oregon has targeted Wilcox to replace the longtime outgoing DC Nick Aliotti. If the Ducks miss on Wilcox, they more than likely promote John Neal to the position.

There are all sorts of rumors flying around linking Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly to the Detroit Lions job. However, it looks as if Kelly is likely to stay put.

Jets linebackers coach Brian VanGorder will become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator. VanGorder was defensive coordinator at Auburn, Georgia and the Atlanta Falcons.

Multiple sources tell us North Carolina assistant Walt Bell will be the new offensive coordinator at Arkansas State. He had been considered a leading candidate to take over for the departed Blake Anderson, but it looks like Bell will instead join Anderson instead.

InsideCarolina reports that Bell is receiving a two-year contract at $225,000 per year in his new position at Arkansas State, which is less than what UNC offered.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora could look to his former offensive coordinator and current Texas co-OC Darrell Wyatt as his next play caller.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Toledo Blade there are no plans to renegotiate with head coach Urban Meyer before next season, but he knows Ohio State “will have to face that music down the road.”

At Texas, there’s a lot of smoke around Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. If the Texas search drags until the BCSNCG, the speculation surrounding Fisher could reach a fever pitch.

Fisher hasn’t even issued a non-denial denial, saying only, “I’m going to talk about our team. That’s all I’m talking about. I ain’t getting into all the rumors.”

At some point, those rumors are likely to become a distraction for the Seminoles, who will play for the National Championship on January 6th.

The Dallas News reports Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson has begun to focus on at least a handful of candidates including Fisher, Baylor’s Art Briles. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Louisville’s Charlie Strong are also considered to be in the mix.

The News also reports that Alabama’s Nick Saban is a possibility, although that may be a long shot. Other candidates could also emerge.

Horns247 reports that Fisher’s counterpart in the National Championship Game, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, is not a candidate at Texas.

Mack Brown is contractually obligated to receive at least $500,000 annually through 2020, but Texas’ soon-to-be former head football coach is pushing for a lot more.

Don Evans, a former UT regent and one-time U.S. Secretary of Commerce, is involved with Brown’s buyout negotiations with school officials, said Joe Jamail, Brown’s attorney and Texas benefactor.

UCF head coach George O’Leary confirmed on Saturday that he has hired Paul Ferraro as the Knights new defensive coordinator.

Ferraro coached under O’Leary as a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 1983 and also coached defensive backs on O’Leary’s staff at Georgia Tech in 1999-2000.

The Gainesville Sun’s Robbie Andreu reports new Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will make $600,000 a year. The length of the contract is unknown.

Sources tell us that West Virginia offensive line coach Ron Crook could be the leading candidate to take over the same job at Wake Forest.

Crook is a West Virginia native who arrived in Morgantown via Stanford prior to the 2013 season.

Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP

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Blake Anderson to be named Arkansas State head coach

North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson will be named head coach at Arkansas State, according to sources.

North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson will be named head coach at Arkansas State. (Photo: GoHeels.com)There were conflicting reports Wednesday evening whether Anderson or Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris would become the Red Wolves coach, but an official announcement is expected Thursday.

Anderson replaces Bryan Harsin who was named head coach at Boise State earlier this month.

Anderson has spent the past five seasons working under Larry Fedora, three of those at Southern Miss and the past two at UNC. He helped the Golden Eagles set a school record by averaging 461.4 yards per game in 2011, his first Tar Heel unit set 35 offensive school records, including scoring and total offense.

In addition to his stints at North Carolina and Southern Miss, Anderson has Sun Belt Conference experience with time at both UL-Lafayatte and Middle Tennessee State.

Photo: GoHeels.com

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Wednesday, Dec. 18

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.

Could Jon Gruden have an interest in the Texas job? (Photo: Brian Blanco, AP)

Could Jon Gruden have an interest in the Texas job? (Photo: Brian Blanco, AP)

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.

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Tuesday, Dec. 17

Vanderbilt’s James Franklin was asked about Texas head coaching job on Monday. Naturally, Franklin didn’t exactly deny interest.

Could Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin become a candidate for the Texas job? (Photo: Mark Humphrey, AP)“Really excited about the program-development period that we’re in right now and working with these young guys,” Franklin told the Tennessean. “Really excited about playing Houston. We’ve watched them on film. I think they’re really talented. I think it’s going to be a challenge for us. That’s what our focus is.

“Any of those other things, you know, we don’t talk about that are outside of our area of control or focus or concern. We’re focused on getting better as an organization and then getting ready for Houston.”

In other words, he’d love to have the job, but realizes he’s not in the top tier, but hopes to get a shot to convince the Longhorns he should be.

Brian Davis reports Arizona State coach Todd Graham is not a candidate at Texas.

Arizona State confirmed a written agreement between ASU president Michael Crow and former Sun Devils and current Texas AD Steve Patterson that he can’t hire any ASU coach.

The Detroit Free Press calls Michigan State coach and Lone Star State native Mark Dantonio a “dark horse” candidate for the Texas job.

USA Today reports that the six-year, $30 million contract Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin signed last week contains buyout provisions that would result in Sumlin being paid all of the money remaining on his contract if he is fired without cause at any point during the deal.

However, it requires him to pay only a $5 million buyout if he terminates the deal without cause before the Aggies’ last game of the 2016 season, including any bowl game.

Stanford coach David Shaw says that he’s not interested in leaving for the NFL.

Speaking of Stanford, sources tell us that Cardinal assistant Mike Sanford could be in line for the offensive coordinator job at Boise State.

Sources indicate that North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson’s interview for the Arkansas State head job went very well.

Anderson fits the profile the Red Wolves are looking for: young, energetic and an offensive mind.

We are also told Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper could become a serious candidate for the ASU job.

Other names linked to the job: Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, former USC assistant Ed Orgeron, Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.

Should Anderson land the Arkansas State job, expect ULL offensive coordinator Jay Johnson and Texas co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt to get serious consideration at UNC.

Sources indicate that Nebraska’s Tim Beck is still likely in the running to become Florida’s new offensive coordinator, as is UNC’s Anderson. There’s no guarantee Anderson would accept the job – even if he doesn’t land Arkansas State.

We’re now told UCLA’s Noel Mazzone and Arizona State’s Norvell are unlikely to make a move to Gainesville. Both are quite stable at their current positions.

Jason LaConfora reports that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien was close to taking the Eagles job a year ago and is now ready to return to the NFL.

ESPN reports that former USC coach Lane Kiffin is visiting Alabama this week to evaluate the Tide’s offense and “to share ideas and exchange ideas and [for] professional development.”

In other words, Saban feels sorry for him.

We’re told that Sam Houston State coach Wille Fritz is a serious candidate for the Bowling Green job and is scheduled to interview.

We are also told LSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa is a in the mix. Studrawa is a graduate of Bowling Green and spent six seasons there as an assistant.

We continue to hear that Bo Pelini’s status remains quite shaky at Nebraska, and a recent report seems to support that notion.

Kirk Bohls reports that Mack Brown’s attorney, Joe Jamail, got a call from someone saying that he represented Nebraska and was seeking Mack’s interest.

“He’s not going to Nebraska,” Jamail said.

Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst sent a one-word text message response to the Omaha World-Herald about the matter:

“Deny!”

Bohls also reports that Brown has TV offers on the table and “one of biggest California talent agencies” wanted to set up Mack meeting soon.

There are more changes for the TCU offensive staff.

Last week, Gary Patterson added Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham to his staff. This week it’s Texas Tech co-offensive coordinator and outside receivers coach Sonny Cumbie coming aboard.

Cumbie will share the co-offenisve coordinator title with Meacham. The former Texas Tech signal caller will also coach quarterbacks.

Many Red Raiders fans are scratching their heads at what appears to be a lateral move away from his alma mater, but Cumbie will no doubt get a much bigger hand in TCU’s offense than he did at Tech, where Kliff Kingsbury is the chief offensive architect.

FCS powerhouse North Dakota State wasted no time in replacing head coach Craig Bohl, who last week became head coach at Wyoming.

The Bison elevated defensive coordinator Chris Klieman to their head coaching position on Sunday. The 47-year-old Klieman, who turned down a chance to join Bohl at Wyoming, has spent three seasons at NDSU, the last two as defensive coordinator.

His units have been at the top of the FCS statistically and are allowing just 11 points per game this season.

Photo: Mark Humphrey, AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Wednesday, Dec. 11

With Bryan Harsin named head coach at his alma mater Boise State, Arkansas State defensive coordinator John Thompson has been named the Red Wolves’ interim head coach.

Ed OrgeronThompson, who was head coach at East Carolina in 2003-04, will lead ASU in the GoDaddy Bowl vs. Ball State.

ASU’s last three head coaches — Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Auburn’s Gus Malzhan to Auburn, and Harsin — each stayed with the school just one season before moving on to bigger and better things, which should help the school attract some interesting candidates this time around.

A couple of interesting names to keep an eye on include Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, an Arkansas native who was with Malzahn with the Red Wolves, former USC assistant Ed Orgeron and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.

Ravens assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington has been offered the USC o-line job by new Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian.

As first reported by CBS’ Bruce Feldman, Hawaii has fired defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer and linebackers coach Tony Tuioti.

Maryland defensive line coach Greg Gattuso has hired as head coach at Albany, according to multiple media reports.

Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News reports that Texas A&M’s Board of Regents will hold a special conference call at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The school’s president is seeking permission to execute a new contract with the head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Sumlin and athletic director Eric Hyman have an agreement in place for $5 million annually, up from $3.1 million per season.

Details of the contract should become available by open record request soon after details are finalized.

Iowa State offensive line coach Chris Klenakis will interview for the vacant offensive coordinator position.

Ole Miss has announced a one-year extension for Hugh Freeze. His base salary to will increase to $3 million per year. The salary pool for Freeze’s assistants will also increase by $400,000.

The offensive coordinator job at Florida remains in flux. We’re told the leading three candidates are UNC’s Blake Anderson, Arizona State’s Mike Norvell and Nebraska’s Tim Beck.

Sources indicate UCLA’s Noel Mazzone had an early interest, but decided to stay in Westwood.

Ball State offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky will be named head coach at FCS Elon.

Skrosky was an assistant at Elon from 2006-10 under former head coach Pete Lembo.

Photo: Don Ryan, AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Tuesday, Dec. 3

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck issued a statement reaffirming his support of head coach Dana Holgorsen.

West Virginia AD Oliver Luck (AP Photo)

West Virginia A,D. Oliver Luck says he believes in Dana Holgorsen. (Photo: AP)

In the statement, Luck said, “I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing. In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.”

In reality, there are 11.3 million reasons that Holgorsen’s job is safe — as in the amount it would cost the school to buy out his contract. Holgorsen should get his agent a nice Christmas present this year.

Miami (Ohio) has hired Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin as head coach.

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has fired longtime linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and second-year quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher, multiple sources confirmed to Lions247.

GatorBait.net reports that while former USC coach Lane Kiffin had a strong interest in the Florida offensive coordinator job at, but says that the Gators are unlikely to hire him. Mike Mularkey, Clay Helton and Blake Anderson are among the names we continue to hear. Arizona State’s Mike Norvell and UCLA’s Noel Mazzone are other names being mentioned.

According to AP writer Mark Long, Muschamp plans to scrap the pro-style system and switch to up-tempo an offense in 2014.

Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe has resigned.

Sources tell us Ball State’s Pete Lembo, Rice’s David Bailiff, Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason and Tulane’s Curtis Johnson could be candidates for the job.

Multiple sources feel it’s likely June Jones will either leave SMU on his own accord or be fired. The national media is starting to report some chatter as well.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris and Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz are expected to be among the candidates to fill the job should it open.

Sources tell us that Hawaii head coach Norm Chow is weary of the job already and that the school might be happy for him to move along. There are strong rumors June Jones could return.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson “has worked with the Tulane Board to reconfigure football coach Curtis Johnson’s contract, as well as those of his assistants.”

Auburn’s Jay Jacobs plans a raise for Gus Malzahn.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon says that Brady Hoke will lead the program “well into the future.” We assume that means he’s in no danger of losing his job (not that we ever thought he was).

Hoke says he has no plans to make any staff changes, even though many think he should.

According to the Tampa Tribune’s Joey Johnston, “USF coach Willie Taggart says he doesn’t anticipate any changes to his coaching staff.”

RealDawg reports that Washington athletic director Scott Woodward was “blindsided” by Steve Sarkisian’s move to USC and that defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, once thought to be next in line, is now unlikely to land the job.

Jim Mora would have been a candidate if he had wanted to be, but he reports indicate that he has agreed to a six year extension to stay at UCLA. Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel and Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier are also rumored to be strong candidates, along with Boise State’s Chris Petersen and Vandy’s James Franklin.

The Seattle Times reports that Sarkisian’s buyout of $1.5 million is due within 30 days. the Times also reports that Wilcox would owe “$1 million, according to his contract. That penalty is triggered only if Wilcox leaves early ‘to take a position at another Pac 12 school, with the exception of Head Coach.’”

Huskies defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi would owe $410,000 if he were to leave.

Sports Radio KJR reports that Wilcox is headed to USC with Sarkisian.

Sources tell us that a loss to South Florida this weekend could mean the end of Kyle Flood’s tenure at Rutgers.

Western Kentucky’s Bobby Petrino says he won’t “deal with speculation” when asked if he was a candidate for other jobs.

Air Force’s Troy Calhoun is keeping quiet on possible staff changes.

We continue to hear that Florida International’s Ron Turner could go back to the NFL.

UNLV has given Bobby Hauck an extension.

At USC, Ed Orgeron has resigned and offensive coordinator Clay Helton will coach the Trojans bowl game.

Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage has again voiced his support for his embattled head football coach.

“I firmly believe that Mike London is going to be successful here at the University of Virginia,” Littlepage said.

In other words, London and his big buyout are safe for another year.

Sources tell us that Nebraska’s Bo Pelini still might not be 100% safe.

An ugly bowl performance could make things dicey. In other words, nothing is certain. He probably makes it, but this is still one to watch.

ESPN reports that Pelini will have to pay for his latest rant:

“The Big Ten Conference on Monday issued a public reprimand of the Cornhuskers’ head coach and fined the university $10,000 for Pelini’s comments about the officiating in a loss to Iowa last week. University spokeswoman Chris Anderson said the money will come out of Pelini’s compensation.”

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