I’m telling ya, this guy Jon Gruden might be in Buffs coaching mix

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Yes, we understand that this is likely a Minnesota-esque pipe dream, but I’m telling ya we’ve been waiting for this guy to come on somebody’s radar for a job at the collegiate level so we could use that headline.

And trust me, this guy is on somebody’s radar.  Well, at least for a minute he is.

It’s been just eight hours or so since Dan Hawkins was officially relieved of his duties as Colorado’s head coach, and already lists of potential replacements have begun cropping up.  According to Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily CameraTroy Calhoun, Brent Venables, Mike Bellotti, Les Miles, Bill McCartney and, yes, that guy Jon Gruden are a few of the names known to be on Colorado’s radar.

Of course, it’s one thing to have a wish list of potential head-coaching replacements.  It’s another matter entirely to have a realistic list of candidates to work from.  And, based the words of the athletic department’s boss at the press conference announcing Hawkins’ firing, you can already cross a couple of names off the Daily Camera‘s initial offering based on financial considerations alone.

According to athletic director Mike Bohn, Colorado is “not a $4 million institution… I would be surprised [if] we are in a $2 million-plus marketplace” as a salary for the next head coach.  With that as a baseline, the Buffs can all but forget about Miles, Bellotti and, yes, Gruden.

Air Force’s Troy Calhoun and Oklahoma defensive coordinator/associate head coach Brent Venables, on the other hand, would seem to fall in CU’s price range, although it’s always possible a well-heeled supporter or supporters of the football program could step up and toss their checkbooks into the financial mix for a school whose athletic department has seen its fair share of monetary struggles the past couple of years.

And then there’s Bill McCartney.  The 70-year-old former CU head coach is the school’s all-time leader in wins, but has not been involved in the game at any significant level since 1994.  He’s been rumored the past couple of months to be a potential option — at least for the short-term — for the school, and Bohn confirmed Tuesday that McCartney “is a viable candidate for us to consider.”

McCartney himself said shortly after Hawkins’ firing became official that he has an interest in the job.

“If Colorado was interested in me, I would definitely be interested in returning,” the former coach told the Denver Post.

For what it’s worth, we’ve been told that Houston’s Kevin Sumlin is the favorite amongst several people associated with the athletic department, although whether those individuals have enough pull with the higher-ups who will actually pull the trigger on a hiring remains to be seen.

Another name to remember is Mark Mangino.  The former Kansas coach has been connected to the Gophers opening — we’ve been told he’s already spoken to the search firm conducting Minnesota’s search — and will no doubt get at least a look from Colorado’s search committee.

UNC and Minnesota line up future home-and-home deal

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While one football series between an ACC and Big Ten team may be hard to come by, North Carolina and Minnesota have put together a future home-and-home scheduling agreement to look forward to. The Tar Heels and Gophers will meet for the first time on the football field in 2023 and follow up with a second game in 2024, the schools announced on Wednesday.

North Carolina will host Minnesota on Sept. 16, 2023. The two schools will then open the 2024 season at Minnesota, either on August 31, 2024 or for a Thursday opener on August 29, 2024.

The ACC and Big Ten each require their members to play one game against another power conference opponent each season. North Carolina already satisfied that requirement in 2024 with a season-opener against South Carolina scheduled to be played in Charlotte, NC, but the 2024 game fulfills the power conference scheduling requirement for the Tar Heels. The home-and-home series will also satisfy Minnesota’s obligation to the Big Ten scheduling policy for both seasons (Minnesota is getting an exemption for 2018 and 2019 due to previous scheduling arrangements being in place prior to the Big Ten’s stance on strength of schedule in non-conference play.

Pitt leaves renewal of football series in Penn State’s hands

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Ever since the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt came to a temporary end in 2001, it has been a struggle to get the two schools back on the field for any stretch of time. With the third in a four-game series upcoming this fall, Pitt is hoping to find a way to continue playing the Nittany Lions on future schedules, but the offer is now apparently in Penn State’s hands awaiting a response.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke told reporters Wednesday she has proposed a four-year series beginning in 2026 to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, but Penn State has not responded to the offer.

“We’re going to wait a tad more patiently, but not much,” Lyke said, according to Trib Live. “We can’t. We have people who want to play us and good opportunities to play what would be a very attractive game.”

The four-game series currently ongoing between the Panthers and Nittany Lions comes to a close after their meeting in the 2019 season in Happy Valley. According to FBSchedules.com, Penn State will not have another opening for a non-conference game until 2021. That is also the first season Pitt will have scheduling availability for non-conference matchups. Both schools already have power conference opponents lined up through 2025 as well, perhaps eliminating the desire to add another power conference opponent to the schedule.

Both Penn State and Pitt have scheduling requirements for non-conference play from the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, to include at least one game against another power conference opponent. It seems like a natural solution for Penn State and Pitt to agree to a long-term scheduling commitment to satisfy their respective conferences’ scheduling requirements, but the old issue has always come down to the financial incentive of a game. With Penn State playing in a larger stadium, it would be losing out on potential revenue that could be gained by an extra home game when possible. And playing road games at Pittsburgh only helps another program in the state by filling the seats more than any other home game on Pitt’s schedules in just about any season (Notre Dame and West Virginia would be other candidates to help Pitt fill Heinz Field).

It took so long just to get the two schools together for a two-year series, which was later expanded to a four-year arrangement. Don’t count on this in-state rivalry being renewed for quite some time after the 2019 season.

QB Blake Barnett reportedly transferring from Arizona State

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Quarterback Blake Barnett is now on the graduate transfer market. According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Barnett will find a new program to wrap up his college football career as a graduate transfer. South Florida is reportedly set to get an official visit from the former Sun Devils and Alabama quarterback.

Barnett started his football career at Alabama, where he sat out the 2015 season as a freshman. During his redshirt freshman in 2016, Barnett appeared in just three games as Jalen Hurts rose to become Alabama’s starting quarterback that would lead the Tide for the next two seasons (until halftime of last season’s national championship game). Barnett transferred to Arizona State, leaving behind a seemingly tumultuous relationship with Nick Saban, and played in just two games for the Sun Devils last fall, while Manny Wilkins established himself as the quarterback for former head coach Todd Graham.

A former four-star recruit out of high school, Barnett has played in just five games and completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Barnett’s latest transfer news comes a day after former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen took a swipe at Barnett, who was ranked ahead of Rosen in various recruiting rankings out of high school.

“Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP,” Rosen said, per SEC Country. “He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much.”

As a graduate transfer, Barnett will be eligible to play immediately this fall.

Transferring BYU QB Kody Wilstead finds new home at Kansas JUCO

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With eight quarterbacks on the roster, Kody Wilstead opted to leave the Cougars in mid-March.  A little over a month later, Wilstead has found a new home, albeit a little further down on the college football ladder.

According to the Deseret News, Wilstead has signed to play at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.  As Coffeyville is a junior college, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

It’s expected that Wilstead will spend at least one season at the JUCO level before looking at making a move back up to the FBS.

Wilstead, a three-star 2015 signee, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after serving an LDS mission the previous two years.

After Wilstead’s departure, the seven remaining Cougar signal-callers are, in alphabetical order, Stacy ConnerJoe CritchlowHayden GriffittsBeau HogeTanner MangumBaylor Romney and Zach Wilson. Mangum, last year’s starter, is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in November of last year but remains on track to return for the start of summer camp in August.