The teams of the Big East have spent much of the past three years proving that the conference still deserves an automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series.And they might have pissed away all of their efforts in three days.On Saturday, Pitt lost at home to Bowling Green. On Sunday, Louisville lost at home to Kentucky. And on Monday, Rutgers lost at home to Fresno State.In all, the Big East teams went 4-4 over the weekend, with the wins coming against the likes of Hofstra, Villanova, Eastern Kentucky, and Tennessee-Martin — all from the division formerly known as I-AA.The only team from the conference that should have lost was Syracuse, which traveled to Northwestern.Hey, it’s always better to lose games early in the year than late, but if this weekend’s performance is an indication of how Pitt, Rutgers, and Louisville will fare this season, it’s gonna be a long, long year for the Big East.
It was reported over the weekend that Oregon could have its opening at head coach filling by Tuesday. A day later than that timeline, it appears the Ducks are on the verge of doing just that.
According to a tweet from ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy, Willie Taggart of USF will be named as the next head football coach at Oregon. No timeframe for an announcement was given. FootballScoop.com subsequently confirmed the initial report.
The latter site added that Taggart was informed the job was his last night and that the coach wanted to let his Bulls players know today, presumably prior to an announcement being made.
USF’s Willie Taggart will be named Oregon’s coach, a source told @ESPN
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 7, 2016
We can add, Taggart was told last night that he was getting the job, wanted to let his players know today https://t.co/gnmOH78nk3
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) December 7, 2016
Taggart was interviewed by UO athletic director Rob Mullens in Dallas last Thursday. Tony Dungy, whose son played his football for both the Ducks and Taggart at USF, has publicly stumped for the coach to be hired by the Pac-12 program.
In his fourth season with the Bulls, Taggart has seen his win total increase every year, going from two in his first season in 2013 to four to eight to a 10-win season this year that has another game to go. It’s unlikely Taggart sees this season through, however.
Taggart has also been the head coach at Western Kentucky. After a 2-10 start, he guided the Hilltoppers to a pair of seven-win seasons before leaving for the Bulls.
In addition to Taggart, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin also reportedly interviewed for the Ducks job. The program reportedly offered the position to Matt Rhule, who left Temple after he was named the head coach at Baylor Tuesday.
With Oregon apparently closed, there are no current Power Five jobs open, which seemingly means that P.J. Fleck will be staying at Western Michigan for at least another season. Counting USF, there are currently eight Group of Six jobs that will need to be filled — Cincinnati, FAU, Georgia State, Houston, Nevada, San Jose State, Temple
After nearly a month on the job, Jeff Tedford has made his first official hires at Fresno State.
Tuesday, Fresno announced that Tedford has added four assistant coaches to his first Bulldogs staff — Jamie Christian (running backs/special teams coordinator), Kirby Moore (wide receivers), Scott Thompson (tight ends) and J.D. Williams (defensive backs). Those four represent nearly one-half of what will be a nine-man coaching staff.
Just two of the four have been position coaches at the FBS level before — Christian and Williams.
The former spent the 2016 season as the running backs coach at UNLV, his second season with the Rebels. Christian has also spent time at FBS programs like Houston (2012-14, special teams coordinator/tight ends/inside receivers), Arizona State (2007-11, special teams coordinator/inside receivers) and Idaho (2006, special teams coordinator/running backs).
The latter was also an assistant at UNLV the past two seasons, serving as the corners coach as well. That was his second stint at UNLV, the first coming 2010-13. He’s also been a defensive backs coach at Utah (2009), Washington (2006-08) and Cal (2002-05).
Moore was an offensive grad assistant at Washington last year, his second year in the profession. Thomas was an offensive assistant at USC in 2016. Prior to that, he held football staff positions at USC (2010-15) and Tennessee (2009).
Christian, Thompson and Williams are all former Bulldogs football players. Williams also served as an assistant at his alma mater (2000-01).
He probably won’t win the sport’s most important individual award, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson took home a nice consolation prize on Tuesday.
Watson was announced as the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the top senior or fourth-year junior quarterback in college football. A three-year starter for the Tigers, Watson has completed 775-of-1,115 career passes for 9,489 yards with 86 touchdowns against 30 interceptions while also adding 1,829 yards and 23 scores on the ground.
Most importantly, he’s led Clemson to back-to-back ACC championships and consecutive trips to the College Football Playoff. His 2nd-ranked Tigers will face No. 3 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31.
Watson was named a Heisman Trophy finalist on Monday for a season in which he’s thrown for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Recent winners of the Unitas award are Colt McCoy, Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota and, in 2015, Connor Cook. Watson will accept the honor at a ceremony in Baltimore on Friday night before jetting up for the Heisman ceremony on Saturday.
On Monday, Army displayed the World War II-themed uniforms the Black Knights will wear against Navy on Saturday.
On Tuesday, it was Navy’s turn.
With President-elect Donald Trump in attendance, the Midshipmen will put their 14-game winning streak on the line by channeling one of the best Navy teams of all-time — the 1963 bunch.
— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) December 6, 2016
— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) December 6, 2016
That 1963 team was led by Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach and finished the season ranked No. 2 in both polls, falling to No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
The ’63 game remains one of the most memorable in the 116-year history of the game, played on the insistence of Jacqueline Kennedy amid talk of canceling the contest following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
And, oh by the way, Navy won that fabled game, 21-15.