Texas Tech president: Pac-12 invite likely not coming

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It feels bizarre to think that somehow Texas A&M could be a catalyst for a shift in the college football landscape, but here we are, anxiously awaiting word from College Station about their affiliation intentions — one way or the other.

If the Aggies left for the SEC, one of the fallout questions would be the future of the Big 12. Would it disband? Or, would it expand? The official word from Big 12 officials from over the weekend was that the nine other members valued A&M’s presence, but would stick together if the Aggies departed.

Replacing A&M in such a situation would be difficult, but commissioner Dan Beebe has already outlined preliminary discussions if a need for a replacement came to fruition.

Shedding some light on the situation was Texas Tech president Guy Bailey, who appeared on KJTV 950 AM in Lubbock.

“If A&M leaves, we’re going to use this opportunity to build one of the strongest conferences in the United States,” Bailey said. “What we’ll do, we’re going to be very aggressive in recruiting schools and I don’t know how many we’re eventually going to recruit, we’ll need to work with FOX and our other media partners in doing this.

“In the past we’ve sort of been reactive, I think the nine remaining members of the Big 12 have decided that the reactive behavior – it’s time to get rid of that. It’s time to be proactive and I think you’ll see a very proactive approach… I think you ought to think of conference realignment with the Big 12 being one of the cornerstones.”

As far as finding a replacement for the Aggies — and Bailey really makes it sound like he expects A&M to leave — Houston, BYU, Air Force and Louisville have all been mentioned as potential candidates, with BYU gaining the most momentum as of late.

Notre Dame has also been thrown around the rumor mill. For what it’s worth, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick and Texas AD DeLoss Dodds are very close.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has stated previously that a 10-member Big 12 is the ideal situation moving forward, but the terms “aggressive” and “proactive” would certainly indicate that more options are possibly on the table. At this point, though — and we’ve stated it before — there just aren’t a lot of great candidates from which to choose.

Apparently, the same could be said for Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.

Bailey insists that another invite from Scott doesn’t appear on the horizon, largely due to a package deal that would feature Texas, and the Longhorn Network, as cornerstones. Scott already denied Texas a chance at their own network once, and most other Big 12 members are attached to the Longhorns by the hip.

Or, since it’s Texas, big ol’ belt buckle.

“Here’s the deal, what the Pac-12 offered last year, and I think they would be open to this year, is a package deal,” Bailey said. “You’d have to have four schools and Texas is the cornerstone to that. Remember, the issue last year came down to the Longhorn Network. The University of Texas wanted its own network for tertiary rights and the Pac-12 doesn’t allow that. We can cut that out right there. I don’t foresee that happening.”

(Big thanks to the Dallas Morning News for the quotes)

Telly Lockette takes job at Florida State as TEs coach

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As Willie Taggart constructs his first coaching staff at Florida State, he’s added yet another familiar face.

Taggart, FSU announced earlier Thursday, has hired Telly Lockette as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach.  Lockette had spent the past three seasons as the running backs coach at Oregon State.

Prior to that, Lockette was a member of Taggart’s coaching staff at USF as running backs coach for two seasons and maintains deep ties to the fertile recruiting soil of South Florida.

“I’ve known Coach Lockette for a long time and am excited he is joining our staff at Florida State,” Taggart said. “He was an important part of my first staff at South Florida and has gained Power 5 experience with his last three seasons in the Pac-12. Coach Lockette is a tremendous recruiter and coach who does a phenomenal job developing student-athletes on and off the field. While we were at South Florida he was the primary recruiter for the Miami area and helped us sign a number of impact players, including Quinton Flowers, Khalid McGee and Deatrick Nichols. His expertise will benefit our current and future Seminoles.”

The job with Taggart at USF was Lockette’s first at any level of college football.  The first 10 years of his coaching career were spent at the high school level, including a five-year stint at Miami Central from 2008-12.

Amidst Arizona State chatter, Texas Tech DC David Gibbs signs contract extension

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Almost without fail, it pays to have your name circulating through the annual churning of the coaching rumor mill.

The latest example is David Gibbs, with the Texas Tech defensive coordinator being rumored as a target for the same job with Herm Edwards at Arizona State over the past few days.  Fast-forward to Thursday night, and Tech announced that it has finalized a new two-year contract extension with Gibbs.  The coordinator is now signed through the 2019 season.

According to the school, Gibbs’ pay will be bumped from $550,000 per year to $650,000.  That number puts Gibbs right in the middle of Big 12 DC pay.

“We are fortunate to have one of the top defensive coordinators in the country in Coach Gibbs,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said in a release. “Since the conclusion of the regular season, finalizing this new contract to keep Coach Gibbs at Texas Tech has been a priority for myself and [athletic director] Kirby [Hocutt]. We look forward to continuing to build one of the nation’s top defenses in the years to come under Coach Gibbs.”

Long a punchline, the Red Raiders’ defense has steadily improved in the three years under Gibbs.  This season, their 27 takeaways led the Big 12 and are the most in a season for the football program since 2008.  They’re also currently seventh in the country with four defensive touchdowns.

With Gibbs back, he’ll have 10 returning starters with which to work next season.

“There isn’t a better person to work for than Kliff Kingsbury, and I’m looking forward to continue building this program with him,” Gibbs said. “There is still plenty of work that needs to be done, but I’m excited about the future of our team.”

RB Justin Crawford to skip West Virginia’s bowl game, begin preparing for NFL draft

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Sometimes the personnel gods giveth, and sometimes the personnel gods taketh away.

Thursday evening, West Virginia announced that quarterback Will Grier will return to Morgantown for the 2018 season.  Not long after, the same football program confirmed that Justin Crawford has decided to eschew playing in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Instead of preparing for Utah in the postseason, the senior running back will instead begin preparations for the 2018 NFL draft.

“Justin has logged a lot of miles and been a key contributor for us the past two seasons,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He made a decision to not play in the bowl game based on what is best for him and his family. He came to West Virginia to further his education and be a featured back in the Big 12 and he accomplished his goals. As he starts his preparation for the NFL Draft, we wish him nothing but the best.”

Crawford has led the Mountaineers in rushing each of the past two seasons.  He’s the first WVU player to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Noel Devine in 2008-09.

After finishing third in the Big 12 this season with 1,061 yards on the ground, he was named second-team all-conference for the second straight season.  Following the 2016 season, he earned the league’s Newcomer of the Year honor.

SMU graduate assistant GJ Kinne to call plays in Frisco Bowl

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New SMU head coach Sonny Dykes has been busy assembling his staff as he prepares to jump right in the saddle to coach the Mustangs in the Frisco Bowl next week, but he will have one holdover from the previous staff to help call the shots on offense. Graduate assistant GJ Kinne will call the offensive plays for the bowl game, according to Adam Grosbard of The Dallas Morning News.

This would seem to be the most logical choice for Dykes to make in this scenario. Kinne has been working in the SMU system all season long under former head coach Chad Morris, who has moved to Arkansas with a handful of assistants. Having the most experience with the current roster and a better comfort level makes sense to have Kinne take on this responsibility so close to the bowl game. This will be a major promotion for Kinne, the former Tulsa quarterback, even if just for one game.

I certainly trust G.J. It’s going to be fun to give him an opportunity to be highly involved and it’ll be one of those things he remembers for the rest of his life,” Dykes said of the decision to have Kinne calling the offense from above. “When you’re a GA and you get to call a bowl game, it’s a pretty awesome opportunity.”

Just how smoothly this all goes is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, if things go awry, Kinne and Dykes can always just resort to going back to a chuck-it-deep mentality and see what happens.

SMU faces Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20.