BYU’s been in talks with the Big 12, has ‘no intentions of not being with the big boys’

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Good morning!  It doesn’t get much better than some expansion talk the morning after a full slate of games, does it?

Be that as it may, this latest round of expansion speculation that’s gone on for the past couple of months is not going away.  And one of the schools that’s been near the center of the conversation is finally addressing just where they stand — and may end up standing — on the conference landscape.  OK, they’re somewhat addressing it.

Speaking at an impromptu press conference ahead of BYU’s game with Oregon State Saturday, athletic director Tom Holmoe told members of the media that, the Salt Lake Tribune writes, “has been involved in talks with” the Big 12.  While Holmoe refused to get it into specifics, he was very clear that the football independent’s relationship with the conference is solid.

“I know the Big 12 has been very good to us,” he explained. “I appreciate the way that they’ve handled it. I think they’ve learned some things about us and we’ve learned things about us.”

The school’s decision to finally address all of the speculation swirling around its conference future comes just a couple of days after reports surfaced that concerns raised by the Big 12’s television partners — ESPN and FOX — played a role in TCU receiving an invitation instead of the Cougars.  As to that issue, Holmoe said he didn’t “”know the answer to that question.”

Holmoe also denied reports that BYU had received an invitation from the Big 12 and turned it down.

“Some people have stated out there that we have rejected an offer to the Big 12 Conference,” said Holmoe. “And I think, obviously if you haven’t received an offer to join, you can’t really reject that offer, so I think that that goes without saying.”

With the addition of TCU last week, the Big 12 currently stands at 10 members for the 2012 season.  Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said earlier this month that the Big 12 will be a 10-team conference next year — member schools are still debating whether or not to get back to 12 schools — but such a makeup depends on Missouri.  With an apparent interest in moving to the SEC, Mizzou’s departure could leave the conference with nine members and searching for a 10th for next season and beyond.

Whether or not that would be BYU remains to be seen — Louisville’s rumored to be high on the Big 12’s list should the need arise to get back to 10.  One thing Holmoe’s looking to ensure, however, is that his school is not left without a seat when the latest round of conference musical chairs comes to a halt.

“It is important to know we plan on doing the very best we can for BYU,” he said. “We are very competitive. BYU has played football for a long time and been competitive and done very well. We have no intentions of not being with the big boys. We want to be able to play at the highest level and have done so for a long time. If you know coach (Bronco) Mendenhall and if you know me, you know we are going to put our boys in the best position to be as successful as they can.”

Arkansas assistant Vernon Hargreaves added to Mizzou’s staff

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Vernon Hargreaves wasn’t retained by the new coaching staff in Fayetteville, but he’ll end up remaining in the SEC anyway.

Missouri confirmed Thursday that Hargreaves has been hired by Barry Odom and added to the second-year head coach’s staff.  The veteran assistant will serve as Odom’s inside linebackers coach.

“I’ve known Vernon for a number of years and have always respected the way his position plays the game,” said Odom in a statement distributed by the school. “He will be a great teacher and mentor for our student-athletes. His experience will be so valuable for our program; I’m excited about Vernon and his family joining our Mizzou family.”

Hargreaves spent the past three seasons as the linebackers coach at Arkansas.  Most notably, he served in the same capacity at Miami from 1998-2005.

Hargreaves also spent time on staffs at Houston (2013-14), South Florida (2010-12), East Carolina (2007-09), Florida International (2006) and UConn (1985-97).  He was also the special teams coordinator at USF and ECU in addition to being a position coach.

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.