'Canes-'Noles duel for league supremacy headlines ACC slate

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This weekend’s slate of ACC games should be great. Though the conference lacks ranked teams,and will be overshadowed by the Big Ten and SEC once again, there is no shortage of nicematchups.

Clemson heads up to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels, Boston College and North CarolinaState will battle for their respective identities, and Navy takes on Wake Forest for the one-thousandth time in just the past few years.

All those games lead up to what should be a dandy. No. 23 Florida State is heading to Miami totake on the No. 13 Hurricanes in what will likely decide ACC supremacy. I feel like I have saidthat before…

If you have not already, you can check out the Big East preview HERE.

Clemson at North Carolina (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: North Carolina -2.5

THE PLOT: Two teams that were thought to be conference-title contenders are nowsitting in the middle of the pack. There’s only one way either of the two will break out, and itstarts with a win today.

This matchup pits two of the league’s best quarterbacks together, Clemson’s Kyle Parker and the Tar Heels’ T.J. Yates. It would not be out of the question to see the betterperformer of the two come out the victor.

THE PICK: Despite the success of each team’s offensive stars, the two schools mayvery well be known for their defenses. The Tar Heels have been hit hard with injuries, yet havestill played solid football.

The Tigers secondary may be one of the best in the conference, maybe the nation, and is led bysafety DeAndre McDaniel.

In the end though, I have to give the edge to the Tigers. North Carolina has not yet fullyovercome the penalty it was faced with the ineligibility of half its starters.

THE SCORE: Clemson 20, North Carolina 17

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Navy at Wake Forest (6:30 ET)

THE LINE: Navy -5.5

THE PLOT: Neither team has a great offense. The Midshipmen have a stellar rungame, but will face troubles if pressured late in the game. The Demon Deacons have showedglimpses of success in the passing game, but that was before it faced quarterback issues.

Navy has played tough football, and nearly beat an Atlantic Coast Conference team in Marylandto start the season.

Wake Forest has seen success, but was also undressed earlier in the year by Stanford.

THE PICK: While the two teams have a nice little history as of late, I think this gamesets the tone for future bouts. I think the Midshipmen will stymie the Demon Deacons and kill allmomentum. Navy is better coached and can play better on the road than most teams can at home.

Be prepared to see some sort of rushing record broke tomorrow night.

THE SCORE: Navy 31, Wake Forest 20

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No. 23 Florida State at No. 13 Miami (FL) (8:00 ET)

THE LINE: Miami (FL) -6.5

THE PLOT: This game will arguably be one of today’s top five games. It is not oftenthat the ACC boasts two ranked teams in a conference game–well, not lately.

The Seminoles’ only mistake was a bruising handed out by the Sooners. Miami similarly onlymade a single gaff this year, a big loss against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

If either teams wants to break away from the ACC-mold of embarrassment, they will need aconvincing win tonight during primetime.

THE PICK: Both teams sport impressive quarterbacks. The lone difference is thatChristian Ponder of Florida State has looked more consistent than Jacory Harrisof the ‘Canes.

If Ponder can get back to the Heisman-type ways he possessed late last season and early thisyear, FSU will have no problem shaking Miami’s speed.

THE SCORE: Florida State 27, Miami 26

LAST WEEKStraight up: 3-1Vs. spread: 1-3

OVERALLStraight up: 14-2Vs. spread: 6-10

(I failed to predict scores before Week One, but if you would like to count my predictions onWeek One from an outside source, you can add the following: Straight up 2-1, Vs. spread 0-3.)

(Odds courtesy of SportsBook.com by way of our friends at NBCSports.com.)

Jim Harbaugh becomes first coach to pay three assistants $1 million

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 21:  Jim Harbaugh head coach of the Michigan Wolverines run onto the field prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium on November 21, 2015 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)
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According to the USA Today coaching salary database, a dozen assistant coaches took home at least $1 million in 2016.

That number will rise to at least 15 in 2017, and three of the coaches will wear maize and blue.

Michigan released contract information Tuesday that shows offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, defensive coordinator Don Brown and quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton will each take home $1 million in 2017. This comes on the heels of Jim Harbaugh taking home an industry-leading $9 million himself in 2016.

In another move that will not go unnoticed within the industry, Harbaugh has also handed lengthy contracts to each assistant. Drevno and Brown each inked 5-year deals, and Hamilton a 4-year one.

Brown’s deal stays at a flat $1 million through the first four years before jumping to $1.4 million in Year 5, with $1.4 million in retention bonuses built in. Hamilton will make $1.25 million in the final year of his contract, with $700,000 waiting after the second and third seasons. Drevno will make $1 million with no retention bonuses, but he has netted a $150,000 signing bonus.

Contract details oncoming:

The Wolverines are 20-6 in the first two seasons of the Harbaugh era.

Texas Tech adds former Red Raider center as O-line coach

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 14: The Texas Tech Red Raiders take the field before the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on November 14, 2015 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech won the game 59-44. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
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Brandon Jones‘ coaching career began in Lubbock after his playing days at Texas Tech came to an end, and now that career will continue on at his alma mater.

Jones, Tech announce via a press release, has been hired as the Red Raiders new offensive line coach.  The hiring of Jones comes a couple of days after Tech announced that Lee Hays would not be returning to Kliff Kingsbury‘s coaching staff in 2017.

“We’re excited to welcome Coach Jones to our staff,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in the country, and our program will benefit from his leadership. We’re looking forward to our offensive line continuing to develop under him.”

The past two seasons, Jones served as the line coach and running-game coordinator at Cal.

Prior to that, he was the line coach at East Carolina from 2010-14. Jones started 22 games along the line for the Red Raiders before becoming a grad assistant with the football program in 2007.

ACC unveils 2017 football schedule

SYRACUSE, NY - NOVEMBER 12:  Detail view of ACC logo on Syracuse Orange uniforms before the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on November 12, 2016 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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The ACC ended this past football season as the home of the 2016 national champion as well as the best bowl record of any FBS conference as well.  Tuesday, the league turned its attention to next season as the conference released its schedule for 2017.

Wake Forest will kick off the ACC’s 2017 season with a home date against FCS Presbyterian on Thursday, Aug. 31.  The first game against an FBS program comes one day later as Boston College travels to Northern Illinois.  The first conference games will be played in Week 2, and includes Boston College-Wake Forest and North Carolina-Louisville.  Both of those games will be played Sept. 9.

ACC teams will play five neutral site games on the opening weekend of the season: Florida State-Alabama (Sept. 2) and Georgia Tech-Tennessee (Sept. 4) at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as part of the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games; Virginia Tech-West Virginia at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland; Louisville-Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; and North Carolina State-South Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in the Belk College Kickoff Game.

As has been the case the past couple of seasons, there will be five games against Notre Dame: Boston College (Sept. 16), North Carolina (Oct. 7) and Miami (Nov. 11) all will play host to the football independent. NC State (Oct. 28) and Wake Forest (Nov. 4) will both travel to South Bend.

College Football Playoff champions Clemson will open defense of its title with a home date against Kent State.

“Our ACC football programs are coming off a record-setting season that was capped off with nine postseason wins, including Clemson’s National Championship and Florida State’s Orange Bowl Title,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Our football success over the last few years has helped put the ACC in one of the strongest positions we have ever enjoyed as a league. As we look ahead to 2017, conference games will continue to be extremely competitive and our schools are once again playing what is arguably the top non-conference schedule in the country. This is a great tribute to our schools and programs, and it will be exciting on a weekly basis for our fans.”

For a complete look at the ACC’s 2017 football schedule, click HERE or HERE or HERE.

Luke Fickell adds two coaches to Cincinnati staff

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 22: Players for the Cincinnati Bearcats run on to the field prior to the start of the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Nippert Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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Six weeks after landing the head-coaching job at Cincinnati, Luke Fickell continues to make headway in completing his initial Bearcats coaching staff.

In a press release Tuesday, UC confirmed that Fickell has added Ron Crook and Al Washington as line coaches.  Crook will coach the offensive line, Washington the defensive line.

“I’m glad to wrap up a pair of key hires with great coaches like Al and Ron,” the head coach said in a statement. “You win and lose football games in the trenches and both bring an intense and physical mindset to their jobs. Looking at our staff top to bottom with a few hires still to come, we have attracted high-quality coaches who can teach the game and lead our student-athletes to success.”

Crook, who began his collegiate coaching career at UC as a grad assistant in 1993, returns after spending the past four seasons at West Virginia. He’s also spent time on staffs at Illinois and Stanford among others.

Washington, meanwhile, spent the past five seasons at his alma mater Boston College. He was the line coach as well as special teams coordinator last season after coaching running backs the three previous years.  His only other FBS job came at North Carolina State.

With the twin hires, Fickell now has seven of his nine on-field staff in place: Cook, Washington, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Denbrock (HERE), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Marcus Freeman, special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Doug Phillips, wide receivers coach Joker Phillips (HERE) and safeties coach Jon Tenuta.