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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 – Texas search update

There’s certainly been no shortage of names mentioned as possible replacements for Mack Brown at Texas, and depending on who you ask, everyone seems to have a theory as to which direction the Longhorns will ultimately go.

Is Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher a candidate for the Texas job? (Photo: Steve Cannon, AP)HookEm247 reports that Texas is actively considering four candidates: Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and the 49ers’ Jim Harbaugh.

While it may seem odd to think the Longhorn brass will be willing to wait on two coaches in Fisher and Malzahn who have games on Jan. 7 and Harbaugh, whose team could make a deep run in the NFL playoffs, it’s important to remember that Monday marked the opening of a recruiting dead period that runs until the end of the AFCA Convention on Jan. 15.

Still, it’s difficult to imagine a coach winning the national title and being announced as the head coach of another college team a few days later.

Both Malzahn and LSU’s Les Miles have shot down Texas rumors over the past 24 hours.

“I’m a good fit for the Auburn Tigers, that’s why I signed the contract the day before the SEC championship,” Malzahn told AuburnUndercover. “Like I said before I’m tickled to death to be here.”

The first-year Auburn coach signed a letter of agreement on a six-year contract extension Dec. 6 that will pay him $3.85 million in 2014 with a $250,000 raise each year.

Miles told The Advocate that he doesn’t want to hear his name mentioned with the Texas job.

“Oh please,” he said. “Oh please. Let’s not kick my name around.”

As far Harbaugh, NFL sources seem to think the possibility of him leaving the pros for a college job is a pipe dream. The same goes for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Michael Silver reported Sunday on NFL Network’s “NFL GameDay Morning” that Harbaugh has told his superiors with the San Francisco 49ers that he’s staying with the 49ers.

Another source apparently told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport that Rapoport has a better chance of coaching Texas next year than Harbaough. (As NFL.com points out, Rapoport doesn’t know what a zone defense is.)

A source close to Tomlin, meanwhile, told Rapoport that that Tomlin’s inclusion on the list is “absurd.”

Tomlin’s name occasionally has been rumored for college jobs, but there has been no indication that he wants to move on from his job with Pittsburgh, and he is expected to return as the Steelers coach next season.

Sources continue to to tell us not to completely rule out Nick Saban, even though he seemingly ruled himself out Sunday.

“I knew that if Mack stepped down, there would probably be an opportunity, but it wasn’t something I was interested in doing, not at this stage in my career,” Saban said.

We’d be surprised to see Saban make a jump now – especially after Sunday’s statement. Still, don’t think for a second that Texas has given up, and you can expect them to offer Saban a ton of money – even more than the $7.5 million he’s rumored to have agreed to at Alabama.

We wouldn’t rule it out completely, but we believe it to be highly unlikely he’d leave, at least at this point. But remember, this is the same guy who as the Dolphins coach said, “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.”

Other names floating around include Mike Gundy and Chip Kelly. Both have either looming (Gundy) or past (Kelly) NCAA issues.

Kelly is on the verge of winning the NFC East with the Eagles and shot down reports linking him to the job. “I haven’t to talked to anybody,” he said Monday. “It’s just speculation. I havent spoken to anybody, nor will I speak to anybody.”

All sorts of names like Art Briles and David Shaw are also making the rounds. The bottom line is it’s early. And nobody knows where this search ends up.

If it drags into January, you can probably assume it’s one of the coaches in the BCS National Championship Game or an NFL guy.

The only other reason would be incompetence. And who could possibly think that that anyone at Texas was incompetent after the past several days?

Photo: Steve Cannon, AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Bowl ticket sales

The old saying be careful what you wish for comes to mind for UCF’s BCS bowl aspirations.

The dream of a BCS bowl game bid could turn out to be a financial nightmare for George O'Leary's UCF Golden Knights. (Photo: John Raoux, AP)

The dream of a BCS bowl game bid could turn out to be a financial nightmare for George O’Leary’s UCF Golden Knights. (Photo: John Raoux, AP)

A berth in a BCS game was the ultimate goal for Golden Knights, but UCF’s trip to the Fiesta Bowl is shaping up to be a financial nightmare for the school.

School officials were rooting hard for a Northern Illinois win in the MAC title game. That would’ve sent the Huskies to Glendale, and UCF would be playing much closer to home — either in Miami for the Orange Bowl or New Orleans for the Sugar. Alas, Northern Illinois lost, and UCF got shipped off to the Fiesta.

UCF officials announced Sunday that they have sold just 5,000 of the required 17,500 tickets. That total includes tickets for band members and player and team compensatory tickets, meaning that fewer than 5,000 tickets have actually been purchased.

In contrast, Baylor announced Tuesday it sold 9,000 tickets in its allotment the first day they were made available.

According to an Orlando Sentinel report, the Knights are on the hook for about $5.3 million in expenses, including $3.4 million for its ticket allotment and about $1.9 million in travel and other expenses. The program received $2.4 million from the American Athletic Conference for its Fiesta Bowl appearance.

Officials say the Knights will have to sell 13,000 tickets to break even financially.

UCF is making a hard push to increase ticket sales, including the unusual step of school president John Hitt sending an open letter to fans.

Ticket sales only help the program if they are purchased from UCF directly, and those prices range from $144 to $268 per seat. Meanwhile, the secondary market stocked with cheaper tickets — as of Monday afternoon, there were more than 3,400 tickets available on StubHub starting at $59.99 per ticket.

UCF expects to receive the majority of a $1 million pot set aside by the AAC to offset ticket losses by its bowl-eligible schools, and athletic director Todd Stansbury is confident the school will not take a substantial financial hit from the bowl game.

“The conference and all of my counterparts are committed to making sure … that at the end of the day the bowl experience is financially sensible,” Stansbury said. “A lot of things still have to shake out.

“I’m extremely confident that our conference, like all other major conferences, are going to make this a great experience as well as a situation where we all benefit.”

Here’s a look at tickets to the other bowl games and the cheapest currently tickets available on StubHub as of Monday afternoon.

BCS Bowls

BCS National Championship Game $618. Auburn vs. Florida State. The cheapest tickets were $850 at noon Monday. There are just over 4,000 tickets remaining.

Rose Bowl $375. Michigan State vs. Stanford. Both Stanford and Michigan State say they would’ve taken more tickets if they had been available. Big Ten commish Jim Delaney had to round up additional tickets for big money Spartans boosters. There are just over 1,600 tickets left on StubHub.

Sugar Bowl $173. Alabama vs. Oklahoma. No surprise demand is strong for this one. There are just over 2,400 tickets remaining on StubHub.

Orange Bowl $45. Clemson vs. Ohio State. Orange Bowl officials say that ticket sales have been better than expected and that there are just over 1,000 tickets remaining. But there are nearly 7,500 on StubHub, and they’re not exactly expensive.

Non-BCS Bowls

Miltary: $83. Maryland vs. Marshall. Demand is high because the game is being played in the 34,000-seat Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

Pinstripe: $83. Rutgers vs. Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium. Enough said.

Alamo: $78. Oregon vs. Texas. Mack Brown’s last game as Texas’ head coach and an easy drive for Longhorn fans.

GoDaddy: $75. Arkansas State vs. Ball State. Think anyone is actually going to pay $75 to watch this?

Cotton: $69. Oklahoma State vs. Missouri. Missouri sold its allotment of 13,500 tickets in less than 10 minutes. Oklahoma State is going to sell its allotment, too.

Outback: $65. LSU vs. Iowa. Demand from LSU fans is tepid, and the school has resorted to offering prize giveaways to spur sales. Iowa’s interest is strong, with reported sales of 10,000 of its 11,500 allotment.

Capital One: $51. Wisconsin vs. South Carolina. Both of these fan bases travel well, but is this a letdown for Badgers fans after three-straight Rose Bowls?

Little Caesars Pizza: $50. Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh. $50 for Bowling Green and Pitt. Really?

Beef O’Brady’s: $49. East Carolina vs. Ohio. See above.

Heart of Dallas: $46. North Texas vs. UNLV. North Texas is happy while UNLV officials are already acknowledging a likely $200,000 deficit.

Kraft Fight Hunger: $42. BYU and Washington.

New Orleans: $40. Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Tulane. The in-state battle is great for the bowl. ULL says it could sell 21,000 tickets to the game.

Gator: $39. Nebraska vs, Georgia in a Florida bowl for the second-straight year. Nebraska has only sold 2,759 tickets out of a contracted 12,750. Georgia has sold about 7,000 out of 15,000.

Belk: $38. Cincinnati vs. North Carolina.

New Mexico: $36. Washington State has sold 4,148 tickets, but Colorado State has only peddled 2,100.

Holiday: $32. Texas Tech vs. Arizona State.

Russell Athletic: $29. Miami vs. Louisville. You think the ‘Canes or Cardinals had the the Russell Athletic Bowl in mind a few months ago?

Buffalo Wild Wings: $28. Kansas State vs. Michigan.

BBVA Compass: $26. Vanderbilt vs. Houston. Vanderbilt has sold out its initial allotment of 10,000 tickets.

Poinsettia: $26. Northern Illinois vs. Utah State.

Liberty: $23. Rice vs. Mississippi State.

Armed Forces: $22. Middle Tennessee State vs. Navy.

Sun: $21. UCLA vs. Virginia Tech.

Hawaii: $19. Boise State vs Oregon State.

Music City: $10. Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech. The Rebels sold 12,223 tickets to the Music City Bowl. The school was required to purchase 12,000.

Las Vegas: $9. USC vs. Fresno State. Both USC and Fresno State were allotted 11,000 tickets. Fresno has sold 7,000 while USC has only moved about 5,000.

Chick-Fil-A: $9. Duke vs. Texas A&M. Duke is giving its students free tickets.

AdvoCare V100: $7. Arizona vs. Boston College in Shreveport. Frankly, I’m surprised they’re $7.

Famous Idaho Potato: $6. San Diego State vs. Buffalo. Both schools have allotments of 8,000 tickets. SDSU has stated its meager goal is to sell 2,500. So far, they’re only halfway there.

Texas: $4. Minnesota vs. Syracuse in Houston. Ouch.

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Is Penn State's O'Brien ready for return to NFL?

Last year Penn State coach Bill O’Brien was involved with the openings at Cleveland and Philadelphia before opting to remain in Happy Valley.

Is Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien ready to return to the NFL? (Photo: AP)Could O’Brien now be ready for a return to the NFL? According to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora, he is.

La Confora reports that O’Brien has already been approached by the Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings. He’s also expected to be in play if (when?) the Washington Redskins sack Mike Shanahan.

O’Brien’s contract was amended in late June and he was given a raise of nearly $1 million, but according to La Canfora, the buyout in O’Brien’s contract is made up of only his base salary multiplied by the years left on his contract.

That figure that would total roughly $5 million, a number that wouldn’t scare off NFL clubs. Additionallly, La Canfora says there is some question whether or not “paying the buyout would actually come into play because of NCAA sanctions.”

O’Brien struggled with the decision of whether or not to return to the NFL last year, but he ultimately decided that he owed it to his players to stay at Penn State for a second season.

Still, it’s no secret that relations between him and the school frayed somewhat when Penn State was subjected to more post-Sandusky sanctions than expected, and with the recent resignations of quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden the timing might be right for O’Brien to make a move.

Most expect the Texans to ultimately go in a direction other than O’Brien, and guys like Jack Del Rio will be heavily involved with the Vikings should that job become available.

But with several top college coaches signing extensions and a few other NFL jobs expected to open, a coach with O’Brien’s experience in both college and the pros is certain to be in high demand.

Photo: AP

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Report: Mack Brown to resign, will coach Alamo Bowl

Less than 24 hours after news broke that Mack Brown would remain head coach at Texas, it now appears that he will step down.

According to a Longhorn Network report Brown will resign as coach of Texas on Saturday.

The LHN source said that Brown has informed his team he will resign.

Brown will stay to coach the Longhorns against Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30.

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Nick Saban says he 'never considered' going to Texas

Friday evening Nick Saban agreed to a long-term extension and raise at Alabama.

Nick and Terry Saban (Photo: Vasha Hunt, AL.com)An hour or so after that news was announced, word leaked that Mack Brown would remain head coach at Texas.

The timing of the two events led to speculation that Saban’s decision had something to do with the decision to keep Brown in place, but Saban says that becoming coach of the Longhorns is something he “never considered.”

“The way this sort of got spun, it was a little bit more like, ‘OK, he got a new contract at Alabama, so he’s going to stay at Alabama instead of going to Texas,'” Saban told ESPN.com’s Chris Low on Saturday. “I never considered going to Texas. That wasn’t even a conversation.

“I knew that if Mack stepped down, there would probably be an opportunity, but it wasn’t something I was interested in doing, not at this stage in my career.”

Details of the new deal have not yet been released, but the contract is expected to pay Saban upwards of $7 million per season.

According to Saban, his agent Jimmy Sexton has been working on the extension with Alabama “all the way back into the season,” and the timing of the deal being completed just after the end of the regular season made for a sticky situation.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mack Brown,” he said. “Mack Brown is the coach at Texas. He deserves the right, based on his body of work, to be able to leave the program the way he wants to leave the program. It wasn’t fair to him or to me to be speculating about this job, which I haven’t talked to anybody there about.

“Really, the whole thing from my perspective stunk, but there wasn’t a hell of a lot I could do about it.”

Saban hopes this will be the last time he has to deal with speculation of him considering other jobs.

“Maybe this will be what the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay thing was to the NFL the last couple of years. That kind of ended the pro speculation,” Saban said.

“Maybe this will end the college speculation. This is where I’m going to finish my coaching career.”

Photo: Vasha Hunt, AL.com

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