In the hours after news broke that Texas Tech had suspended Mike Leach, it was assumed and seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would be fired as the Red Raiders’ head coach at some point in time.
Now that the school has released the rope on the guillotine, where does athletic director Gerald Myers turn to replace arguably the most popular and winningest coach in Tech’s history?
At least two names come to mind right off the bat: Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes and Baylor head coach Art Briles. Dykes is the son of Spike Dykes, the former Tech head coach who led the Red Raiders from 1987 through 1999.
Spike Dykes was replaced as Tech’s by, oddly enough, Mike Leach in 2000.
Briles was on Leach’s staff at Tech earlier this decade.
Another name to keep an eye on? Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin. The outstanding young coach’s prolific spread offense, which he inherited from Briles when he left for Baylor, would help make the transition to a new coach relatively seamless, at least on that side of the ball.
It’s been previously reported that Sumlin and the Cougars were closing in on a contract extension, but it’s been all quiet on the extension front the last week or two. Look for those talks to heat up as Sumlin’s name becomes attached to this new vacancy.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah