Jameis Winston had the Heisman wrapped up in 2013. He has a chance to repeat as the nation’s best player but odds are against it.
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.”
Bo Pelini went on the defensive following Nebraska’s 38-17 loss to Iowa on Friday.
“If they want to fire me, go ahead,” Pelini told reporters following the game. “I believe in what I’ve done. I don’t apologize to you. I don’t apologize to anybody, myself or this staff.
“My record, our record since I’ve been here, speaks for itself. And this program is heading in a good direction.”
The numbers don’t exactly back him up.
With the loss, Pelini’s team finished the regular season 8-4 and 5-3 in the Big Ten. It was the Huskers’ fewest regular-season wins since 2008, his first year. Nebraska lost three home games for the first time since 2007 under Bill Callahan.
Despite a 57-24 in six seasons at Nebraska, Pelini has come under heavy fire in the wake of ugly losses to UCLA and Minnesota. An audio recording of a profanity-laden tirade against Cornhuskers fans that went public in September isn’t helping matters.
Pelini’s temper was on full display Friday, and he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after he protested a third-quarter pass-interference call. He didn’t mince words when asked about the call in the postgame press conference.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Pelini said. “I’ve done a lot worse than that, and I saw (Iowa coach) Kirk Ferentz over on the other side acting a lot worse than I act. I didn’t see a flag come out on him.
“The bottom line is they knew they blew the call. They blew it. They blew that call over there on that third down. And everybody in the stadium knew it. They didn’t man up enough to pick that flag up.”
The question now becomes whether first-year athletic director Shawn Eichorst will decide to go in another direction. Pelini, who makes nearly $3 million a year, is under contract through 2017.
The general feeling has been that things were 50-50 with a 9-3 regular season. At 8-4, the odds probably aren’t nearly that good.
Still, the fact remains that six offensive linemen missed time with injuries, and fourth-year starting quarterback Taylor Martinez was limited to four games with a mysterious foot injury. Backup Tommy Armstrong Jr. missed the Iowa game with an ankle injury, forcing third-stringer Ron Kellogg III into action.
Pelini wouldn’t respond to questions about whether or not he had done enough to save his job.
“You know what? People are gonna say what they want to say,” he said. “I really don’t care. If they want someone — if somebody wants someone else — so be it. I’ll move on.
“I know what I know, and I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in how we’re doing it. We do it the right way here. That’s about it. That’s all you can do.”
Photo: Doug McSchooler, AP
Ball State’s Pete Lembo is a hot name. His Cardinals are 9-2 and won nine games last year.
We’re told Lembo could be a serious candidate at both UConn and Wake Forest.
Sources indicate that Virginia coach Mike London is likely to return in 2014.
His saving grace? An $8.06 million buyout.
It would also cost the Cavs an additional $3.12 million to dump his staff. That’d over $11 million paid to coaches not to coach. That’s unlikely to happen at a place like Virginia.
There’s a ton of chatter about Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe. Multiple sources tell us that Grobe could retire or be pushed out. The Deacons are currently 4-7.
Michigan native Jerry Glanville says he’s the man for the Eastern Michigan job. Glanville lives in Atlanta, but he’d love the opportunity to return his home state and believes the Eagles can win.
According to the Detroit Free Press, other candidates for the EMU job include former Eagles quarterback Ron Adams, ex-Michigan running back Tyrone Wheatley, now an assistant with the Buffalo Bills, former Miami (Ohio) coach Mike Haywood, and Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, previously with Grand Valley State.
At Georgia, there are lots of rumors flying around Athens that the Bulldogs could make some defensive staff changes.
We continue to hear that Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin is going to get looks from the NFL. It’s expected to be a big year for coaching changes in the Not-For-Long league, and the timing might be right for Sumlin to exit College Station.
We’ve been told privately some sources have told us there could be a few staff changes at Northwestern. The Chicago Sun-Times makes that sound very possible.
Akron has extended Terry Bowden’s contract. The Zips are 4-7, but that’s still the school’s most wins in five seasons.
We’re hearing varying opinions on how much trouble Nebraska’s Bo Pelini is in. After sampling several coaches this week, the consensus seems tobe that Pelini keeps his job at 9-3. If the Huskers have a meltdown against Iowa then things get a little more dicey, but for his part, Pelini says he’s not coaching for his job.
At Indiana, we continue to hear that Kevin Wilson is likely to return, but to expect major staff changes on defense. Wilson says his program is making progress.
We’re hearing that Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads will return, but again, expect a major staff shakeup. Rhoads said this week he feels his job “absolutely not” in danger.
Following Saturday’s 23-20 loss to Georgia, Florida is now 4-4 on the year and this week’s Vanderbilt game looms large.
If Muschamp returns (and we expect him to), expect major staff changes on the offensive side of the ball.
Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia got a much needed win over TCU on Saturday, but his status is still shaky. Most insiders believe he is in serious danger.
With his team at 4-4, the heat on Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is rising. The Bulldogs could easily lose three of their remaining four games – and even the Arkansas game could be considered a toss-up.
Mullen is in danger of losing his job, but some believe he might be working on an exit strategy…
His name has surfaced as a potential candidate to replace the fred Paul Pasqualoni at UConn.
Former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is also interested in the job.
At Florida Atlantic, the names we hear most are former FIU head coach and current Alabama assistant Mario Cristobal, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and Miami offensive coordinator James Coley.
Other names that have surfaced for the job include Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and ex-Florida head coach Ron Zook.
CBSSports’ Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that former Bears coach Lovie Smith interviewed for the USC job. Smith denies he interviewed and says he has zero interest in the job.
Sources tell FRM that A.D. Pat Haden reached out to Jon Gruden, but that the reception was lukewarm. We’re told Gruden could end up back in Oakland where it all began.
Back to USC… The Trojans are doing exactly what we expected — looking at coaches with NFL backgrounds. We’re also told not to rule out interim coach Ed Orgeron as a serious candidate. A lot depends on oh the Trojans finish.
Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin could be a serious candidate at Miami (Ohio). We’re told the RedHawks plan to stick to the their usual MO and hire an up and comer.
The heat is rising on Jim Grobe at Wake Forest. The Deacons are 4-5 and could easily finish 4-8.
Does Nebraska coach Bo Pelini have nine lives? There was some speculation that if the Huskers lost to Northwestern on Saturday that Pelini wouldn’t have a job today.
Thanks to a Ron Kellogg III-to-Jordan Westerkamp miracle Hail Mary as time expired, Pelini is safe… at least for now.
Photo: Steve Mitchell, USA Today Sports
Pressure has eased on Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen after the Kentucky win, but there is still tons of chatter. As we’ve mentioned previously, if they make a move, expect ULL’s Mark Hudspeth to get first call.
It’s no secret that their top target is Nick Saban. Other early names to watch include Art Briles, Jimbo Fisher, Charlie Strong and Jon Gruden.
Speaking of Gruden… This year could finally be the year he returns to coaching. However, the most likely landing spot may be his old stomping ground. There’s lots of chatter Gruden could return to the Raiders with full control over the front office.
Early names at Florida Atlantic include two first-year offensive coordinators with strong south Florida ties — Miami’s James Coley and Cincinnati’s Eddie Gran. Gran was a serious candidate when Carl Pelini was hired.
Expect staff changes at Appalachian State.
If a move is made to get rid if Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, don’t be surprised if Rich Rod is a candidate to return home. It would definitely be interesting to watch the fan base’s reaction if that took place.
The Florida International job could open after just one year under Ron Turner.
There is major pressure building to oust Bo Pelini at Nebraska. He needs to win, badly. If he goes, former Husker quarterback and current Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost could be a candidate, although most think he needs a little more experience.
At USC, Jack Del Rio is still very much in the mix. Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter is also getting some attention as a fall back option.
Most believe Pat Haden’s early targets will be bigger names and will likely have NFL experience.
At Toledo, second-year coach Matt Campbell has signed extension through the 2017 season.
Campbell was promoted from offensive coordinator when Tim Beckman took the job at Illinois. The Rockets are 14-7 under his watch, including a 5-3 record and 3-1 in the MAC this year.
There are lots of rumors that Boise State’s Chris Petersen may finally be ready to finally make a move.
Photo credit: Kerry Smith, AP