For LSU, Lee stands for ‘Leedership’

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Jordan Jefferson had his chances.

Locked in a two-quarterback system for the past year with Jarrett Lee, the senior finally solidified himself as the guy for LSU this past spring. It was exactly for what anyone bleeding gold and purple — or anyone frustrated by perennial underachievement — could have hoped.

All news was good news for Jefferson. It was like he was in a dark room searching for the light switch, and suddenly, he found it. And what Jefferson saw in that room were opportunities: an opportunity to lead the Tigers to another SEC, and potentially, BCS championship; an opportunity to be the hero, the big man on a SEC campus.

Practically the only thing missing were the cheerleaders swooning over Jefferson underneath one of the campus’ historic live oak trees.

“I think he wants to lead this team,” Les Miles said following the Tigers’ spring game. “He wants to take the team at a time when he can provide leadership and make them better. He’s more knowledgeable, certainly more capable.

“I think winning is the key piece and I think that’s what Jordan Jefferson is — a winner.”

And then Jefferson screwed up.

It doesn’t matter in what capacity he was involved in a bar brawl late last week. It doesn’t matter who threw the first punch. Unless it’s proven Jefferson was trying to break up the fight, what matters is that he failed to conduct himself in the way a senior leader should.

Now, Jefferson has been suspended indefinitely, and the leadership role must fall on Lee, a fellow senior.

His stats don’t induce excitement, but what Miles and the Tigers need right now a week before opening up their season against a top-five opponent in Oregon is a level head, not a high quarterback rating. LSU has endured too much too close to the beginning of this season not to have someone who knows a thing or two about difficult situations.

No matter what anybody says, off-the-field distractions can and do affect a team. The opportunity to provide leadership to a group that clearly so desperately needs it is there for Lee. He just has to seize it.

That’s why quarterbacks become quarterbacks, right?

LSU’s predicament brings to mind their season-opening opponent a year ago, North Carolina. The Tar Heels were entering 2010 on a wave of controversy over NCAA investigations of impermissible benefits received and academic misconduct that sidelined over a dozen players.

Leading that team was senior quarterback T.J. Yates, a man who faced plenty of hardships in his own time at Chapel HIll. But, even in a loss, Yates showed guts and determination, nearly executing a last-minute, game-winning drive.

LSU needs that kind of leadership from Lee. They don’t need him to win the game — there’s plenty of talent around him to do that — they just need consistency.

That hasn’t been Lee’s strength in the past, but he’s getting another opportunity in his final season. In fact, the Tigers might actually be better off with someone under center who wants to make the most of it.

After all, the guy before him certainly didn’t.

Kent State makes firing of Paul Haynes official

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It’s official: there are currently eight openings (for now) at head coach in the FBS.

The latest to officially face the coaching guillotine is Paul Haynes, who Kent State announced Wednesday afternoon would not have his contract renewed, confirming reports that had surfaced earlier in the day.  Haynes wrapped up his fifth, and what turned out to be final season with the Golden Flashes with a 24-14 loss to rival and MAC East champion Akron Tuesday night.

“Making a coaching change is never easy,” athletic director Joel Nielsen said in a statement. “As an alum, Paul gave his all for this university and to Golden Flashes football, and moved the program forward in many ways. We thank Paul and his family for their service and commitment to Kent State student-athletes.”

In 2012, the year prior to Haynes’ arrival, Kent went 11-3.  In the five years under Haynes, they were 14-45 overall.  The Golden Flashes won either two or three games each of the past four seasons, including a 2-10 mark in 2017.

That stretch of 10 wins is the worst four-year run for the program since they won six from 1997-2000.  That was part of a lost decade-plus that saw the Golden Flashes win a combined 16 games in 12 seasons (1989-2000).

Chip Kelly reportedly turned down Tennessee offer, turned away Nebraska interest

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It really is looking like a two-school race for Chip Kelly‘s services.

On the heels of a weekend meeting with Florida officials in New Hampshire, Kelly also reportedly sat down with a contingent from UCLA this week regarding their head coach opening.  It’s been widely thought that, in the coming days — especially if the Gators have anything to say about it — Kelly would decide between UF and UO and likely not entertain interest from other programs.

In that vein, and citing a person with knowledge of the situation, George Schroeder of USA Today is reporting that Kelly recently turned down an offer from one SEC school and rebuffed the advances from a Big Ten program.

Kelly turned down a recent offer from Tennessee, the person said. He is also believed to have turned away interest from Nebraska.

While two schools are seemingly in the mix at the moment, Schroeder is also reporting that Arizona State, should it come open, would also be of interest to the former Oregon head coach.  Th earliest ASU would shed themselves of Todd Graham would be Saturday night as they square off with rival Arizona that afternoon.

Regardless of where Kelly lands, the current ESPN analyst is set to get paid as it’s believed that the offers he has received are in the neighborhood of $6 million annually.  As Schroeder and other media outlets have pointed out, though, there could be a sticking point with one of the two schools that have Kelly as its top target as UCLA’s apparel provider is Under Armour.  Kelly still maintains a close relationship with Phil Knight, the founder of Nike and whose company is Under Armour’s biggest rival.

While that dynamic is thought of as a sticking point, it’s not believed to be a deal breaker.

Reports: Paul Haynes out as head coach at Kent State

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And another one bites the dust.  Reportedly.

FootballScoop.com was the first to report Wednesday morning that Paul Haynes has been let go as the head football coach at Kent State.  The Associated Press subsequently confirmed the initial report, noting that the Golden Flash players were informed of the move earlier today.

The not-yet-official move to part ways with Haynes is far from surprising as the former Ohio State and Arkansas assistant is just 14-45 during his five seasons at the school.  For perspective, the Golden Flashes won 11 games in 2011, the year before Haynes’ arrival.

With Haynes’ ouster, there are now eight FBS head coach openings, with KSU joining Florida, Georgia Southern, Ole Miss, Oregon State, South Alabama, Tennessee, UCLA and UTEP.

Minnesota, P.J. Fleck reach agreement on contract extension

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Not even through his first full season as head coach, and P.J. Fleck has already been rewarded for his work.

Minnesota announced Wednesday morning that it has reached an agreement on a contract extension with Fleck into 2023.  The 36-year-old head coach originally signed a five-year contract with the school, making this a two-year extension.

A December meeting of the school’s Board of Regents will rubber stamp the extension and make it official.

“It’s an honor to coach at the University of Minnesota and in the Big Ten,” said Fleck in a statement. “[athletic director] Mark Coyle and I share the same goal of building a championship culture and team at Minnesota. It’s a goal that we are working on daily together and one that we will achieve. I am proud of how hard our young men have worked to improve this season on living a holistic life. They have taken great strides in bettering themselves athletically, academically, socially and spiritually. I look forward to leading them and watching them grow on and off the field as we continue to move this program forward.”

In his first season at Minnesota after coming to the Big Ten program from Western Michigan, Fleck has the Gophers at 5-6.  Fleck took over a team that won nine games in 2016, and, if they fail to beat fifth-ranked Wisconsin Saturday, would have their fewest wins in a season since going 3-9 in Jerry Kill‘s first year in 2011.

On the flip side, his five wins are the first for a first-year Gophers coach since Murray Warmath won seven games in 1954.  Additionally, he became the first coach to win his Gophers debut since John Gutekunst did the same back in 1986.

“When we hired Coach Fleck, I talked about his authentic energy and passion, and his dedication to building a unique team culture. This year, I have seen our students connect with his energy and embrace that culture,” Coyle said in his statement. “From the commitment and hard work of our current students, to building a nationally-ranked recruiting class that will be among the best in program history, I have seen the foundation of what Coach Fleck is building, and I’m looking forward to supporting him for years to come.”