Acting AD will head Penn State coaching search

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A day after being named as Penn State’s acting athletic director, David Joyner addressed the media for the first time Friday.

As expected, questions related directly to the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal that’s rocked the university and cost several people their jobs already were a major focus.  Additionally, Joyner touched, albeit briefly, on several topics related to the controversy, including who will become the Nittany Lions’ first permanent head coach not named Joe Paterno since 1965.

Joyner, who is replacing Tim Curley as the on-leave AD fights charges of perjury and failure to report in connection to the Sandusky molestation case, said that he will direct the search for a successor to Paterno, although no timeline was given for tapping a replacement or even a hint as to who the candidates might be.

“We’re very aware the process must go on to keep the business of athletics moving forward, football included. But we have a couple of regular season games left, and with any luck maybe one or two more, and we to need to pay attention [to that]— and for those players and coaches to pay attention to do their job right now.”

“Well, I’m the acting athletic director, and I’ll be here as long as it takes, whatever time frame that takes. The acting athletic director will be here for selecting a coach and perhaps quite a while after that. I’ll help pick the coach.”

The name most connected to the opening is former Florida head coach Urban Meyer, although he could be off the market sooner rather than later; rumors are flying around Columbus and various points across the Internet that the current ESPN college football analyst is all but the next head coach of the Buckeyes.  We’ve been assured that’s not the case, although the caveats of “yet/not yet” have been added in each instance an assurance was issued.

Virginia’s Mike London and Rutgers’ Greg Schiano have both been mentioned as possibilities as well, although they have each publicly denied interest in the job.

Tom Bradley, the Nittany Lions’ interim coach, would be a candidate along with any other individual who applied for the position, Joyner said.  Given his three decades-plus of service on Paterno’s staff, however, the likelihood of Bradley having the interim tag stripped from his current title is practically nil.

That was something Joyner seemed to hint at when he talked about the athletic department as a whole and what the future holds.

“I’m sure there will be change,” Joyner said. “There’s always change when you come in and have a new process. …

“I’m just here to tell you that whatever has or has not gone in the past, we’re going to go forward in the athletic department with my view … that this is an academic unit. Now if we’ve lost some of that luster because of things that have happened, I can tell you that I’ve never lost that core value, and this athletic department will reflect that core value.”

Until Joyner temporarily stepped down to become the acting AD, he was a member of the Board of Trustees that decided to fire Paterno last week a few hours after he announced a retirement that would’ve taken place at season’s end.  The fact the board fired the legendary coach over the phone brought a heavy dose of criticism — and one flipped television news van — from Penn State alumni and some in the media who felt JoePa deserved better.

Joyner… indicated that it was due to circumstances. With the media camped out at Paterno’s house, and all over State College, it would have been difficult to get word to the coach without the press getting wind of the decision first.

One final note, for now, from Joyner’s first press conference: the acting AD said that, contrary to rumors, there has been no discussion regarding the removal of the statue honoring Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium.

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.