In fine fashion, it was announced that Alabama and USC (yes, THAT USC, not the bogus USC in the SEC) would be kicking off the 2016 season in Dallas at the Jerry-Dome. Alabama has sort of made a habit of these types of games under Saban.
As we mentioned first on Tuesday, Alabama’s Nick Saban had a backup plan when Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier bolted for Michigan, and now he’s made it official.
Saban has hired former USC head coach Lane Kiffin to replace Nussmeier, according to an ESPN report.
Last month, Saban made headlines when he brought Kiffin in to share ideas with the Tide offensive staff.
“Lane is a really good offensive coach, and I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Saban said at the time. “Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit to get some professional ideas with our guys is a really positive thing.”
ESPN reports that Kiffin agreed to a 3-year deal, and the contract is being completed.
Kiffin, who was fired as coach at USC in September after a 62-41 loss at Arizona State, was 28-15 record in three-plus seasons with the Trojans. He went 7-6 in his only season at Tennessee and 5-15 in two seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
Prior to becoming the Raiders’ coach, Kifffin spent six seasons as an assistant at USC, the last two as the Trojans’ offensive coordinator.
Photo: Danny Moloshok, AP
Vanderbilt’s James Franklin was asked about Texas head coaching job on Monday. Naturally, Franklin didn’t exactly deny interest.
“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:
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
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck issued a statement reaffirming his support of head coach Dana Holgorsen.
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.”
Boise State coach Chris Petersen was in play at USC, but has reportedly withdrawn his name from the search.
ESPN’s Joe Schad reports that Petersen withdrew his name “after mutual interest.”
FightOn247 reported on Sunday that Ed Orgeron or Vanderbilt’s James Franklin would likely next in line should Petersen decline, while ESPN reported that the Trojans were down to Petersen and Franklin.
According to ESPN L.A.’s Arash Markazi, Franklin and Petersen have been on Pat Haden’s short list for awhile with Franklin in the lead. Markazi also reports that USC is prepared to make Orgeron the highest paid assistant and an associate head coach.
ESPN L.A. also reported that Washington coach Steve Sarkisian interviewed with Haden over the weekend, but Sarkisian says that no interview took place.
Oakland Raiders assistant and Wyoming alum Ted Gilmore is also rumored to be a candidate.
Should Fritz head to Wyoming, look for Texas co-OC Darrell Wyatt to get serious consideration to replace Fritz.
Texas A&M and head coach Kevin Sumlin have agreed to a six year deal worth $5 million per year. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Sumlin has agreed to not pursue any NFL jobs as part of his new contract.
We continue to hear Kyle Flood is in serious jeopardy at Rutgers. Flood says he’s not at all concerned with his future.
If Flood is fired between now and Feb. 1, he is owed an $850,000 buyout.
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads announced that offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Courtney Messingham and running backs coach Kenith Pope have been let go.
We continue to hear that the situation at Texas remains very fluid. A win at Baylor and the Longhorns gain at least a share of the Big 12.
Would Texas force Mack Brown out after a 9-3 campaign and a Big 12 Championship? Most of our sources don’t think so. However, a bad loss to Baylor and it could be time to turn the page.
At TCU, multiple sources tell us to expect major changes on the offensive side of the ball.
Florida Head coach Will Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis.
We’ve heard all sorts of names over the past few days. Possibilities at offensive coordinator include Mike Mularkey, Lane Kiffin, Clay Helton and James Coley, among others.
Offensive line candidates are rumored to range from Neil Callaway to Stacy Searles to Joe Wickline.
New Mexico State fired defensive coordinator David Elson.
Another Ohio State assistant is rumored to be a candidate for the FAU job.
It was reported a couple of weeks ago that Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell had interviewed for the job. At the time, Urban Meyer said he didn’t, but Fickell’s name has been hot ever since.
Now, sources indicate Buckeyes assistant head coach and running backs coach Stan Drayton could be a candidate.
FAU athletic director Pat Chun has told associates he wants to hire someone who can recruit Florida (a smart move), and Drayton has had recruiting success wherever he’s been.
Chun spent almost his entire career at Ohio State and apparently that’s all he knows. He has even enlisted Meyer and A.D. Gene Smith to assist in his search.
So, Drayton fills two requirements: He works at Ohio State and he was a Florida with Meyer. Two boxes checked. Could he be the guy?
Luke Stampini of 247Sports reported Monday morning that Western Kentucky offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm could interview for the the FAU position.
Georgia’s Mark Richt has confirmed that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be back next season.
Charlie Weis‘ job at Kansas is safe. Athletic director Sheahon Zenger is confident that Weis has the program moving in the right direction.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas tells WCIA Channel 3 TV that Tim Beckman will return next season.
UCLA has fired running backs coach Steve Broussard. Sources indicate that USC running backs coach Tommie Robinson could be on UCLA’s radar.
Photo: Otto Kitsinger, AP
Florida has fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis.
Pease became the primary scapegoat for the Gators’ offensive woes, and he moves were expected. The firings were announced one day after the Gators (4-8) finished the program’s first losing season since 1979.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Pease and Coach Davis,” coach Will Muschamp said in a statement. “They are both good football coaches and even better people.
“There have been a lot of unfortunate circumstances this year, but that is part of the game sometimes. I want to thank each of them for their contributions to the program both on and off the field.”
A Florida offense ravaged by injuries finished the season ranked 112th in total offense. The Gators managed just 279 yards in a 26-20 loss to lower-division Georgia Southern on Nov. 23 followed by 193 in the season-ending 37-7 loss to Florida State.
Both Pease, who replaced Charlie Weis prior to the 2012 season, and Davis received raises in May. Peasereceived an additional $100,000 per year while Davis was given an $25,000 a year raise.
Florida owes Pease about $1.2 million for the remaining two years on his contract.
Former USC coach Lane Kiffin is rumored to be a candidate to replace Pease.
Former Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell, now head coach at Jacksonville University, is another name that has been mentioned. Fellow ex-Gator player Mike Mularkey is also rumored to be interested in the job.
Veteran assistant Neil Callaway, now at Western Kentucky, is considered a popular pick to replace Davis as offensive line coach.
Photo: UF Sports Information
USC’s turnaround under interim coach Ed Orgeron has been remarkable, and the former Ole Miss head coach has made no secret that he wants the job full time.
Hours after Orgeron led the Trojans to an upset win over Stanford on Saturday night, word leaked that SC athletic director Pat Haden had interviewed Denver Broncos defensive coordinator and interim head coach Jack Del Rio during the team’s bye week.
Orgeron learned about Del Rio’s interview through the media, but he told reporters that it doesn’t bother him in the least.
“That’s the first that I’ve heard about that, and I really don’t care,” Orgeron told the media on Sunday. “I know (Haden) has a job to do, and I know he’s going to go out there and interview the best guys available for USC.”
The excitement Orgeron is building has certainly caught Haden’s attention.
“What Ed has done has been absolutely remarkable,” Haden said Tuesday night during a radio interview with KFWB-AM. “He is clearly in our eyesight. We understand. It’s not just the fans.
“We’re sophisticated enough and know enough about this to understand the attributes that he has, and he’s a known quantity.”
For whatever it’s worth, Orgeron has the support of his former boss.
According to the LA Daily News’ Scott Wolf, Lane Kiffin was asked by AM 710 radio who the Trojans should hire and gave Orgeron an emphatic endorsement.
“That’s easy. That’s already done. It should be Ed Orgeron.”
But what if Haden goes in a different direction? Kiffin doesn’t think Orgeron would hang around as an assistant.
“It wouldn’t work,” he said.
Kiffin also predicted that the Trojans would win their final three games.
Photo: Don Ryan, AP