Well, that certainly didn’t take long.Less than three days after Jon Gruden was unexpectedly fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New York Daily News over the weekend raised the same trial balloon we floated in the immediate aftermath of the Chucky firing.According to the Daily News, and based on talks with a Tampa “peep”, rumor has it Notre Dame would buy out head coach Charlie Weis‘ contract as soon as the next recruiting class becomes official. The school would then hire Gruden, who has been linked to the job several times over the last seven years.Additionally, the paper reports, there’s a “weird vibe” going on around the Irish football program according to someone close to the team.While it seems farfetched that the Fighting Irish would make a change this long after the season had ended, the same could’ve been said for Gruden even being an available option at this point in time.
Not only is one-half of Conference USA’s championship game set, but so is the location.
East division members Western Kentucky and Marshall came into their game Friday afternoon at 7-0 and 6-1 in conference play, respectively, with the contest essentially serving as a play-in game to the league’s title game. On the strength of Brandon Doughty‘s 370 yards passing and five touchdowns, the Hilltoppers played their way in and staked a claim to the division title with a dominating 49-28 win over the Herd.
The Hilltoppers became the first C-USA team to finish undefeated in league play since Houston in 2011. WKU is the seventh team to go unbeaten in league play in C-USA’s 20 football seasons.
WKU is in just its second season in Conference USA, and will be playing for its first conference title in Bowling Green as the win wrapped up home-field advantage for the Hilltoppers.
The opponent will be determined Saturday afternoon. West leaders Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, both 6-1, will square off Saturday in Ruston, with the winner moving on to face WKU next Saturday. Tech lost to Marshall in its first-ever title game appearance last season, while USM is looking to get back to the game for the first time since 2011 and the third time overall.
With No. 4 Iowa’s unbeaten regular season and, potentially, a playoff berth on the line, Nebraska is doing its damnedest to ruin their rival’s postseason plans.
Thanks in very large part to a second-quarter defensive play, the favored Hawkeyes have taken a 14-10 lead on the Cornhuskers into halftime on a windswept day in Lincoln. An interception from Tommy Armstrong Jr., his second of the contest, was returned four yards by Parker Hesse for a touchdown with 6:38 left in the second quarter and is the difference in the game.
A Drew Burns 39-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half sliced the Cornhuskers’ deficit to its current four points.
The Hawkeyes’ defense, stout all season long, was what’s everyone has come to expect, limiting the Cornhuskers to just 109 first-half yards before NU’s last drive netted 59 and led to the three-pointer. NU’s defense was very much the equal to its counterpart’s stoutness, holding the Hawkeyes to 112 yards. In fact, the two offenses combined to average just 5.4 yards per play, a number aided greatly by that last ‘Husker drive.
Armstrong now has 14 interceptions on the season; only three FBS quarterbacks have thrown more — Virginia’s Matt Johns, Maryland’s Caleb Rowe and Hawaii’s Max Wittek, all of whom have tossed 15 with one game each left to play. Eight of Armstrong’s interceptions have come in the last three-and-a-half games.
Nebraska won the pregame coin toss and will get the ball on offense to open the second half.
It appears that, after a couple of weeks worth of speculation, the Les Miles era in Baton Rouge is indeed coming to an end.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that, at a booster club meeting, Miles informed those in attendance that Saturday’s game against Texas A&M will be his last as LSU’s head coach. One person in attendance said that while Miles didn’t come right out and say the A&M game would be his last, he heavily intimated that very thing.
“He didn’t use those words but he made it clear that Saturday is his last game,” an unnamed Gridiron Club member told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
“He said , ‘We’re a second family to him and he’s going to miss us, he appreciates his real friends, and then he told us goodbye. It was very emotional but in control.”
Miles also reportedly stated that he would not coach the Tigers in a bowl game. Whether the parting of ways will be termed a dismissal or a mutual agreement remains to be seen, although it’s quite obvious the former is in play.
However, there is a different interpretation of both the scene at the booster meeting earlier today and the Miles’ current status:
If this is the end of Miles’ time with the Tigers — we’ll know for certain at some point after Saturday’s game despite today’s confusion — he’ll end his 11-year tenure as one of the winningest in the program’s history. Miles has won 110 of the 142 games he’s coached at LSU, a winning percentage of .775, the best ever at the school.
He won two SEC West titles, but none since 2011. His Tigers won the national championship in 2007, and lost in the ’11 title game to nemesis Alabama. Since going undefeated in conference play in that latter season, the Tigers have lost two, three and four games the next three seasons; they are 4-3 in conference play ahead of the A&M game.
If the 62-year-old Miles wants to continue coaching — and all the indications are that he does — there will not be a shortage of suitors as there are currently a dozen openings, including nine at Power Five schools. One intriguing possibility is Miles taking over for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, speculation that’s gained momentum over the past few days as the rumors of Miles’ imminent demise have grown in recent days.
As for LSU? Be careful what you wish for. That grass that looks greener on a replacement’s lawn may turn out to be nearly a decade’s worth of fool’s gold — just ask Tennessee.
One of the biggest winners in college football this Black Friday didn’t even have to step foot on the field to become one.
At a cold and rainy Glass Bowl Friday afternoon, Western Michigan took the lead in the middle of the second quarter and never trailed again, dropping host Toledo by the score of 35-30. The loss drops the 24th-ranked Rockets to 9-2 overall and 6-2 in Mid-American Conference play.
With the loss, UT and Northern Illinois, which lost to Ohio Tuesday night, are now tied atop the MAC West. However, because of the Rockets’ 34-27 home loss to the Huskies Nov. 3, it’ll be NIU facing Bowling Green in the conference championship game next weekend.
This is the seventh consecutive season NIU has either won outright or shared the West division title. This will also be NIU’s sixth straight appearance in the league title game, with the Huskies winning in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Even more to the point, it will be an NIU-BGSU MAC championship game each of the past three seasons.
One final note: not that there was much doubt before, but the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid will almost certainly go to the AAC. The winner of that conference will be determined next week in Houston, with UH hosting either Temple (if it beats UConn) or USF (if Temple loses).