The good news for Illinois coach Ron Zook is that he won’t have to answer any more questions about his job; the bad news is that it’s because he’s been fired.
The Champaign News-Gazette reports that Zook was fired this morning following the Illini’s 27-7 loss to Minnesota yesterday. The school later confirmed the report.
Yesterday’s loss marked the end of a stunning collapse for Illinois, who started the season 6-0 but lost their final six games to end the season at 6-6. Although bowl eligible, the Big Ten’s bowl selection process doesn’t guarantee the Illini will make a bowl. If nothing else, no Big Ten team has degenerated so quickly over the second half of the season as Illinois, which can be used against them when bowls make their selection.
The school has released the following statement from AD Mike Thomas:
“I assessed the entire program and felt that it was time for a change in leadership. It is imperative that our program shows some consistency and competes for championships, and I think a change in coaches can help us get there sooner.”
Thomas added that Zook will receive $1.3 million for the next two years as part of his buyout. Vic Koenning will fill in as interim head coach. Zook is 34-50 overall in seven seasons at Illinois.
Raided by the ACC, UNLV has officially turned its eyes to the Ivy League for its coaching replacement.
Travis Burkett, the football program has announced, has been hired the Rebels’ running backs coach. Burkett will replace DeAndre Smith, who left last week for a job at North Carolina.
Smith had been with Tony Sanchez‘s program for just three months or so, coming to Las Vegas by way of Purdue.
The past 10 seasons, Burkett served as an assistant at Cornell. Prior to that, he was a graduate assistant at Bucknell.
This will be Burkett’s first job at any capacity at the FBS level. His new employer added the following in announcing his addition:
At UNLV, Burkett inherits a rushing attack that stood 15th in the nation last fall with 241.5 yards per game, which ranked fourth in program history and was the most since 1979. All three of the team’s top rushers return in 2017.
With an assistant fighting a significant health issue, Derek Mason has turned to someone very familiar with the Vanderbilt football program to fill the coaching void.
Vandy confirmed Monday that Warren Belin has been hired as the Commodores’ outside linebackers coach. Belin will, at least temporarily, replace Osia Lewis, who stepped down from his job as he battles liver cancer. Lewis will transition into an of-field role within the program as he fights the disease.
The announcement came on the same day Vandy kicked off spring practice.
From 2002 through 2009, Belin was Vandy’s linebacker’s coach under Bobby Johnson. He was at Wake Forest in the same role from 2013-15.
Last season, he was with the Demon Deacons in an off-field role as director of high school relations.
In opting to leave Miami in late January, Gus Edwards was restricted by the university from transferring to two of his top choices in Pittsburgh and Syracuse as they were on this coming season’s schedule. A little over a month later, the Staten Island native, who wanted to transfer and move closer to home as he was a new father, has found his new college football home in the same area of the country.
On its official Twitter account earlier Monday, Rutgers announced that Edwards has transferred into the Scarlet Knights football program. As Edwards will be coming in as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017.
The upcoming season will be the running back’s final year of eligibility.
Edwards was third on the team this past season in rushing with 290 yards. For his Hurricanes career, the 6-1, 230-pound back ran for 977 yards and 12 touchdowns on 186 carries.
A foot injury suffered in summer camp cost Edwards the entire 2015 season. He received a medical redshirt for that season.
With its Egg Bowl rivals knee/neck-deep in controversy — and with said rival reportedly trying to bring it down as well at one point — Mississippi State has taken the time to put a positive face on the current state of its football program.
The Bulldogs announced Monday night that they have reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension with head football coach Dan Mullen. The new deal means Mullen is signed through February of 2021.
According to the school, Mullen’s financial package will be $4.5 million for 2017. Mullen was paid $4.2 million in 2016, a figure that was seventh in the SEC according to USA Today‘s salary database.
“I am very thankful to the University and athletic administration for their belief in me,” Mullen, the subject of myriad coaching carousel rumors the last handful of years, said in a statement. “We have built a special program over the last eight years, creating a culture where winning is expected while achieving that in the toughest division in college football. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I am truly excited about the direction we are heading as a program. This extension allows my family a long-term future here in Starkville, a place we are proud to call home.”
Since taking over as MSU’s coach in 2009, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a 61-42 record overall and 29-35 in conference play. In those eight seasons, the best divisional finish was second in 2014. In the other seven seasons, they were either fifth (five times) or fourth (twice) in the SEC West.
The Bulldogs have gone to a bowl game each of the past seven seasons, the longest such streak in school history. They’re also 5-3 against Ole Miss under Mullen.
“Dan has brought unprecedented success to Bulldog football and is one of the elite coaches in the country,” athletic director John Cohen said. “From a school-record seven straight bowl games to our performance in the classroom, he continues to raise the standard of excellence.”