Last Updated: 2017-12-20
It has been a couple of weeks since we have done a college football news and notes update. A lot of things have been going on, but not a whole lot of them have affected the bowl games. We’ve already posted about interim head coaches and some of the coaching changes that have taken place. We’ll talk more about the new coaches when we flip the calendar over to 2018 and see which programs could be on the rise and which ones will take some time to gel with a new boss.
With a bunch of bowl games coming up this weekend and a good amount of news built up, it is a good time to take another look at the college football news and notes.
Pitt doesn’t have a bowl game to prepare for, but Pitt has a lot going on. The Panthers will lose quarterback Ben DiNucci, who transferred from the program. Based on his Twitter account, it appears that DiNucci has landed at James Madison University. Ricky Town, a former USC QB, will transfer in. Hopefully that goes better than the Max Browne experiment.
Big news for Virginia Tech. They may need to keep pace with Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl, but they’ll have to do it without top wide receiver Cam Phillips. Phillips had sports hernia surgery and his season is over. He ends the year with 71 catches for 964 yards.
Not surprisingly, Wake Forest will be without Greg Dortch in the Belk Bowl against Texas A&M. Dortch suffered what was believed to be a season-ending injury in his breakout performance against Louisville. He missed the last five games of the regular season and will also miss this one.
It will be a while before we can use Illinois and “bowl game” in the same sentence, but the Illini are in the news during the bowl season. Nine scholarship players have left Illinois since the final game of the season. It seems Lovie Smith isn’t really getting the job done in Champaign.
Maybe Michigan finally has a quarterback. Shea Patterson, the former Ole Miss QB who is rehabbing a torn ACL, has transferred from Oxford to Ann Arbor. There are questions as to whether or not Patterson will have to sit out the 2018 season or if Michigan can use a loophole that allowed other Ole Miss players to transfer because of the sanctions levied before the season.
Not a real big surprise here, as his NFL prospects aren’t really in question, but Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson will be back in school next year. He’ll also be behind center for the Music City Bowl against Kentucky.
Rutgers offensive coordinator Jerry Kill has retired due to medical reasons. Kill, who has had seizures for several years now, has had stops at Northern Illinois and Minnesota as a head coach and just returned to work at Rutgers for this season. Best wishes to him with his ongoing health concerns.
Baylor quarterback Zach Smith will transfer. Baylor is down to one scholarship QB in Charlie Brewer, who was starting by season’s end. Matt Rhule’s first year in Waco was certainly an interesting one.
Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson will not face charges for an alleged rape. Anderson was under investigation, but there wasn’t enough to charge the star freshman, so he will be on the field for Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl against Georgia as part of the College Football Playoff.
As Texas prepares to face Missouri in the Texas Bowl, Shane Buechele is practicing with the #1s. The Longhorns have gone back and forth with Buechele and Sam Ehlinger this season, though Ehlinger’s absence has had more to do with injuries. Ehlinger seems to be a better fit for Tom Herman’s team and the preferred option, but if he can’t go, Buechele will take aim at a mediocre Missouri defense. On the other side of the ball, Malik Jefferson is mulling his bowl game decision over with his family and coaches. He is also hurt, so that plays a factor, as he looks ahead to the NFL.
West Virginia is already without quarterback Will Grier and now top running back Justin Crawford will not be playing the bowl game. Crawford rushed for over 1,000 yards this season. Grier did announce that he will come back for his senior season, so at least there’s that. Wide receiver David Sills V is also returning.
Arizona State’s odd hire of Herm Edwards isn’t working out real well thus far. Offensive coordinator Billy Napier took the Louisiana head coaching job and Phil Bennett left the staff citing the desire to spend more time with his family. This is not a good situation in Tempe.
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley is all systems go for the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. Huntley missed four games this season, including the regular season finale against Colorado. With West Virginia missing quarterback Will Grier, Utah has a big edge at QB. Utah also expects wide receiver Darren Carrington to be good to go.
Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis, who suffered an ankle injury against Washington State, is back to practice. It looks like Jake Browning, who has lost targets left and right this season, will have Pettis back for the matchup against Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Washington State head coach Mike Leach got a very lucrative contract extension. But, the news is not all good for the Cougars. Tavares Martin Jr. was released from the team for violating team rules and he will not be out there for the Holiday Bowl against Michigan State. It’s a system offense, so anybody can put up production, but Martin had 831 yards and nine touchdowns in the Air Raid.
Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses has been lost for the season with a foot injury. As if Alabama hasn’t had enough problems at LB, now they’ll have another one as they prepare for Clemson in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The true freshman started two games. At least Alabama has time to find answers.
Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway will not play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, but Kerryon Johnson will. Auburn will get a stiff test from a UCF team looking to finish off a perfect season. Pettway has been hurt most of the season, so his absence isn’t a big surprise. Johnson’s presence is the best story for Auburn after racking up 1,320 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground this year.
Georgia linebacker Natrez Patrick got arrested for drug possession in October and then failed a drug test stemming from a separate arrest in early December. He has a court hearing after the Rose Bowl, but it will be up to head coach Kirby Smart to decide whether he will play the bowl game or not.
LSU running back Derrius Guice did not practice earlier this week. Guice, whose status is seriously in question for the bowl game with an NFL future to consider, may opt to sit out the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame. The expectation is that Guice wants to play and will play, but we’ll see. Arden Key, who has spent most of the year injured and is a likely first-round pick, also did not practice. He’s less likely to play the bowl game.
Missouri running back Damarea Crockett is expected to play in the Texas Bowl. Crockett had 202 yards and two touchdowns in the opener and averaged six yards per carry across 80 carries before getting hurt halfway through the season. He was a 1,000-yard rusher last year, so he would be a nice addition for the Texas Bowl.
South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst is heading to the NFL. He does plan to play in the Outback Bowl against Michigan before he leaves. Hurst is a pretty interesting tight end prospect and his measurables will have scouts excited at the combine. He only has four touchdowns in his college career, but terrible offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is gone, so maybe he’ll see more work on January 1 before leaving.
Bowling Green hired Carl Pelini to run its defense. Pelini was dismissed from FAU for “inappropriate workplace conduct” and has not found an FBS job since that point. He has been working as the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for his brother, Bo, at Youngstown State.
An enormous loss that nobody really seems to be talking about is that Thomas Owens will not play for Florida International in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. Owens, who rated extremely well per the Pro Football Focus metrics for college football, is out with a knee injury. He looks to be making the jump to the NFL.
The last FBS head coaching job has been filled. Kent State has hired Syracuse offensive coordinator Sean Lewis. Lewis is one of the youngest coaches in college football. He was a grad assistant at Akron in 2011 and has risen quite quickly under the watchful eyes of Dino Babers. This is a huge departure from what Kent State has been doing on offense, so look for a big transition phase here.
Louisiana, who surprisingly fired Mark Hudspeth at season’s end, hired Arizona State offensive coordinator Billy Napier. The Sun Devils have now lost both coordinators, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have their new head coach in Lafayette.
Navy running back Chris High, who has dealt with a few injuries this season, may not play in the Military Bowl against Virginia. He’s been losing work to Malcolm Perry and other backs anyway, but it would be a notable loss for the Middies’ depth going into that matchup.
Northern Illinois just can’t avoid the injury bugs. They need to add citronella to the trainer’s room or something. Running back Jordan Huff had ankle surgery and is done for the season. He had previously been ruled out of the Quick Lane Bowl against Duke, but here’s an update.
Ohio running back AJ Ouellette is questionable for the Bahamas Bowl against UAB. Ouellette, who missed most of last season with injuries, is only 20 yards away from a 1,000-yard season and has been a good complement to dual-threat quarterback Nathan Rourke in the explosive Bobcats offense.
Rice hired Stanford OC Mike Bloomgren as its next head coach and Bloomgren grabbed Michigan assistant Brian Smith to be his defensive coordinator. Rice wants to play power football in Conference USA, so we’ll see how that goes.
SMU is using Sonny Dykes as the head coach in Wednesday night’s DXL Frisco Bowl, but what is most interesting is that graduate assistant GJ Kinne is calling the plays. You may remember Kinne as Tulsa’s starting quarterback not that long ago. This is a weird situation all around, but we’ll see if it works out for the Mustangs.
UCF will be missing starting left tackle Aaron Evans for the Peach Bowl against Auburn. Evans has started 36 of the last 37 games for the Knights.
We’ve seen a notable line move in the game between Central Michigan and Wyoming and the catalyst seems to be the status of Josh Allen. The NFL prospect is expected to suit up for the Cowboys for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise. Allen’s presence certainly helps, as the Cowboys have gone from a pick ‘em to a 3.5-point favorite.
-END OF DECEMBER 20 UPDATE-
Conference championship week is here and we are following all the news and notes that you need to know about. We’ll also be taking a look at some of the coaching hirings and firings more in-depth as we draw closer to the offseason, but we’ll hit on them briefly here, including those interim head coach situations for the upcoming bowl games.
With Week 14 starting up on Friday, we gave it an extra day to compile some of the latest breaking news, especially with this coaching carousel that can change with the drop of a hat.
Here’s one interesting note before we move forward. This is the first time since 2014 that we won’t have a five-win team in a bowl game.
Here are your Week 14 college football news blurbs and notes:
Miami’s upset hopes suffered a blow on Wednesday. Wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was carted off with what has now been determined a meniscus injury. Starting tight end Chris Herndon is already out and now the third-leading receiver is down. Losing skill players isn’t great with a matchup against Clemson on the horizon and a possible berth in the College Football Playoff, but Miami has played without Richards for a good chunk of the year. Running back Mark Walton, who is done for the year, says that he is going to the NFL.
Not only is it hot stove coaching season, but we’re starting to hear about transfers as well. Illinois linebacker Tre Watson will move on as a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility. He had 65 tackles in just nine games.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is a graduate transfer out on the market going into next season. His lost 2017 season will go down as one of the strangest in recent memory. He was hurt against Purdue with a serious back injury and never recovered enough to play, but it sparked a big investigation into the facilities and the handling of his injury.
Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft is also transferring. Croft missed some time this season tending to personal matters and a suspension, so it isn’t a big surprise that he’s leaving the Twin Cities. He seemed to have some differences of opinion with PJ Fleck. Croft will have to sit out a year. He’s from Illinois originally, so he’ll probably look to stay in the Midwest.
Nebraska seemingly made a mistake firing Bo Pelini. Mike Riley is now out and Trent Bray has taken over on an interim basis. The writing was on the wall in brightly-colored spray paint when the AD was canned.
Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett has been practicing, but Dwayne Haskins has been getting more reps in advance of the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. Barrett suffered a meniscus injury that took him out of the win over Michigan.
Iowa State locked up head coach Matt Campbell with an extension, but that doesn’t seem to mean a ton anymore. Coaches are getting out of deals with regularity nowadays. But, Campbell is building something special in Ames and is one of few college coaches that may have a future at the NFL level, depending on who you talk to. He was already making a good chunk of money and now he’ll make a lot more.
TCU will start Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game without star safety Nick Orr, who will miss the first half because of the fight between the Horned Frogs and the Baylor Bears. The Big 12 Conference handed down the Orr suspension, as well as a couple of suspensions to Baylor players for next year’s conference opener against Kansas.
Texas running back Chris Warren will be on the move. The junior will likely have to sit out a year, but he didn’t seem to be a fit in Tom Herman’s system, so hopefully he catches on somewhere and gets some more playing time. Texas left tackle Connor Williams announced that he is going to the NFL and he will not play the bowl game. This relatively new trend will gain a lot of traction this season methinks.
In somewhat of a surprising move, Arizona State fired head coach Todd Graham after he won the Territorial Cup over Arizona. Herm Edwards is rumored to be the choice for the job, which is, well, odd. He hasn’t coached in college since 1989 and that was as a defensive backs coach. He hasn’t coached since 2008. *shrug*
Oregon State has picked its next coach. A long list of interesting candidates, including interim head coach Cory Hall, yielded the name Jonathan Smith. The Beavers were looking at Washington offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, but wound up with Smith, who is labeled as the co-OC and the quarterbacks coach. The 38-year-old also played his college ball in Corvallis and programs seem to romanticize that background. We’ll see how it plays out.
Alabama has to wait and watch to see if the College Football Playoff committee will take them. In the meantime, they’ll have to figure some more things out on defense because starting safety Hootie Jones tore his MCL in the Iron Bowl. He’ll have a month of recovery time on what is a partial tear, but his status is certainly in question.
Arkansas fired Bret Bielema. No surprise here. We haven’t heard much about interest in that job yet, but it should perk up soon.
Florida made a safe, but smart, hire to get Dan Mullen from Mississippi State. Mullen has plenty of familiarity with the SEC and with recruiting in the southeast. Mullen’s wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales and his co-offensive coordinator John Hevesy also went with him.
Mississippi State has been lead by extremely solid defensive mind Dan Mullen for a while. They’ll completely shift gears with Mullen off to Florida and roll with Joe Moorhead, who did a phenomenal job at Penn State with the offense. This isn’t his first head coaching gig, as James Franklin plucked him from Fordham in the FCS ranks, but this is a big job and a big spotlight for Moorhead.
Ole Miss officially hired interim head coach Matt Luke. This is an interesting one because it may be an indication that more sanctions are coming for the Rebels. If the program was on good standing, this would be a really attractive job for many of the names rumored to be going to other schools. By playing it safer (and cheaper) with Luke, the Rebels can let the storm pass and gear up for a coaching decision in 2019. Or maybe they really like him and I’m reading too much into it.
Tennessee went from laughing stock to “holy sh*t, what a hire” with the pickup of Jeff Brohm from Purdue back to laughing stock. This has been a debacle from start to whenever the finish actually happens.
Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin and is reportedly ready to back up 16 Brinks trucks to the doorstep of Jimbo Fisher. Sumlin shouldn’t have a problem latching on somewhere else, but it’s safe to say that expectations are extremely high for the only SEC school in Texas.
As expected, BYU has fired offensive coordinator Ty Detmer. The Cougars had a ton of injuries to deal with at the quarterback position, but this didn’t seem to be a great fit. This was a little bit of a legacy hire and those don’t seem to work out all that well. He may be re-assigned within the program, but won’t be the OC.
Georgia Southern will stick with interim head coach Chad Lunsford. Good for him. Lunsford has a lot of familiarity with the program and will likely keep things status quo with the option offense. It would take a long time for a team to recruit in a way that fits a dramatic scheme change.
Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan probably won’t be available against Georgia State, but he definitely will not get the start. That will go to true freshman Colton Richardson. Linehan is on the cusp of breaking a lot of records, but the senior has a hand injury and it seems that he’ll be looking to secure a backup or practice squad job in the NFL. Considering his father is Dallas Cowboys OC Scott Linehan, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see him taken late in the draft by his dad’s team.
New Mexico State should have Tyler Rogers back this week as the Aggies look to get to a bowl game for the first time since 1960. Rogers did not play last week against Idaho. He only has a 24/15 TD/INT ratio this season, but has thrown for nearly 3,400 yards.
North Texas running back Jeffery Wilson is not playing this week and it appears that his college career is over. Wilson suffered a foot injury in the game against Army and it seems like he won’t be healed in time for the bowl game. He’ll get a look at the next level.
Rice head coach David Bailiff was relieved of his duties. The Owls have it really tough in Conference USA with the rise of in-state schools like North Texas, SMU, UTSA, and then the obvious top teams in the Lone Star State. That will be an interesting job for a hot shot OC because the Owls need to inject some life into that offense.
We have a bowl matchup! UAB will play Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl. UAB is the best story in college football this season and it is awesome that those kids get to go to a nice destination for a bowl game. Kudos to Bill Clark, the kids that stuck it out with that program, and all the donors and boosters that brought UAB football back to life.
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