Marshall v Houston

Update: A&M confirms Sumlin hiring

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UPDATED 6:01 p.m. ET: In a press release, Texas A&M has confirmed the hiring of Kevin Sumlin as its next head coach.

“It is with great pride that we announce Kevin Sumlin has accepted an offer to become the next head football coach at Texas A&M University,” A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said in a statement. “We began this search process a little over a week ago and spoke to many worthy and qualified candidates, but my decision, which was made in consultation with (Texas A&M) President (R. Bowen) Loftin, kept leading me to Kevin. We met this morning to finalize the offer. I believe he is the right person to lead our football program into the Southeastern Conference. First of all, Kevin is a terrific person. He is also one heck of a recruiter and he will put together a great staff.”

In his statement, Sumlin thanked the Aggies for the opportunity while also expressing how difficult it was to leave a university that gave him his first opportunity as a head coach.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at Texas A&M University,” Sumlin said. “Having coached there before, I understand the culture and embrace the commitment by the 12th Man regarding Aggie football. Aggieland is a special place and I look forward to working with the young men in the football program and recruiting the type of players we need to be successful in the SEC.”

“With that being said. I can’t thank the University of Houston enough for giving me a chance to become a head football coach. It is tough to leave a group of players who have worked so hard and have done things the right way in taking Cougar football to greater heights.”

A press conference will be held Monday at noon ET to officially introduce Sumlin.

In this latest spinning of the coaching carousel, Sumlin becomes the fourth head coach to leave a school that’s in a non-automatic qualifying conference in the BcS for a job as the head coach at an AQ school.

UPDATED 5:08 p.m. ET: At a press conference addressing the coaching situation for his football program Saturday evening, Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades confirmed that Kevin Sumlin has accepted the head-coaching position at Texas A&M. He also introduced Tony Levine as the Cougars’ interim head coach.

Rhoades stated that he spoke to A&M athletic director Bill Byrne shortly before the start of the press conference, and that an announcement from the Aggies on Sumlin’s hiring is imminent.

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Considered the front-runner even before Mike Sherman was officially fired earlier this month, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin is apparently set to be named the new head coach at Texas A&M according to reports streaming in from College Station and surrounding areas.

AggieSports.com reports that the school has made a decision on its new head football coach, with the most likely candidate being Sumlin, although A&M is not ready to announce the hiring.  The San Antonio Express-News takes it a step further, writing that “Sumlin is the Aggies’ choice for the gig” and “a press conference announcing Sumlin’s hire could be as early as today.”

The latter paper goes on to note that “A&M made a late run at Georgia coach Mark Richt, who mulled the offer Friday and turned it down Friday night.”  UGA athletic director Greg McGarity had subsequently declared there “was no truth whatsoever” to reports linking Richt to the A&M job.

On Friday, Sumlin refused to directly address the speculation connecting him to the Aggies’ opening.

Be that as it may, A&M appears to have finally pulled the trigger on the man who has been at or near the top of its coaching to-do list since Sherman’s Dec. 1 firing.  Sumlin has spent the past four years as the Cougars head coach, but will be charged with leading the Aggies as the school makes its way from the Big 12 into the SEC next year.

Sumlin, who had also reportedly drawn interest from Arizona State, Illinois and UCLA, has compiled a 35-17 mark with the Cougars, including a pair of 10-win seasons and three bowl berths.  UH got off to a 12-0 start this year, but a loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game cost the Cougars a shot at not only a perfect season but a BcS bowl berth as well.

In addition to Sumlin, it’s believed A&M interviewed Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, Southern Mississippi’s Larry Fedora — who subsequently took the job at North Carolina — and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart earlier this week in New York City.

UPDATED 12:21 p.m. ET: Richt released a statement late Saturday morning denying any contact any other school.

“I’ve said many times Georgia is the place I want to be as long as Georgia will have me. That has never changed. And it’s gratifying to know Georgia wants me. I have not talked to any other school about a job nor do I have any interest in doing so. My interest is having a great recruiting year and start building toward next season.”

UPDATED 3:26 p.m. ET: Sumlin has reportedly informed his UH players that he’s leaving for another job.  A&M has no plans to make an announcement on a hiring Saturday; however, a press conference could take place as soon as Monday.

Arizona freshman RB JJ Taylor breaks left ankle

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24:  Running back J.J. Taylor #23 of the Arizona Wildcats rushes the football against the Washington Huskies during the first quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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One of the bright spots for Arizona in the first month of the season had been freshman running back JJ Taylor. Unfortunately for he and Arizona, he will be missing some serious playing time after suffering a broken ankle Saturday night against Washington.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez announced after an overtime loss against Washington that Taylor broke his left ankle. Before having to leave the game with an injury, Taylor had rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against Washington. It is expected Taylor could miss the next six to eight weeks of action, which could effectively end his season.

Ironically, Taylor was showing off his ability to break ankles earlier in the game…

Arsonist sets fire to Toomer’s Corner oak after Auburn win

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Auburn fans celebrated a wild victory against SEC West rival LSU last night the way they always do, by rolling the oaks at Toomer’s Corner with toilet paper. It is a tradition that goes back decades, which makes the oaks a target for some. On Saturday night, one of the trees at Toomer’s Corner went up in flames after somebody lit the dangling toilet paper on fire.

It would appear there is some video footage that captures the arsonist in action, although it is difficult to tell exactly who is the one doing the crime.

Fortunately, it seems the one responsible for lighting the tree on fire may have been apprehended and spent the night in jail.

Second-half dominance powers No. 10 A&M past No. 17 Arkansas, 45-24

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Trevor Knight #8 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs for a touchdown against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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No. 10 Texas A&M grabbed a late touchdown run from quarterback Trevor Knight in the first half and shut down No. 17 Arkansas in the second half of a 45-24 victory in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Aggies shut down the Razorbacks in the second half and scored 28 points on offense to improve to 4-0 and head into October thinking about making a run at the SEC West title (and potentially for real this time).

With the game tied at 17-17, Arkansas put together a draining 89-yard drive on 19 plays, but it was the Texas A&M defense that held strong down by the goal line. Just as they had done twice in the first half, Texas A&M prevented Arkansas from punching the football across the goal line, this time with a fourth-down stand. Two plays later, Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight unloaded a deep ball to Josh Reynolds racing down the right sideline. The ball was placed perfectly for Reynolds and he let his speed take care of the rest on a 92-yard touchdown drive. It was quite the momentum swing and the Aggies did not look back.

Texas A&M scored a touchdown after forcing Arkansas to punt on the ensuing possession and took advantage of a short field from the 15-yard line after an Arkansas fumble. Trayveon Williams did the honors on the first touchdown with a 33-yard scamper and Christian Kirk got his hands on a pass from Knight after the Razorbacks’ fumble.

Four games into the season and there appears to be enough evidence to suggest this Texas A&M defense has improved, and that helps make Texas A&M a formidable player in the SEC West moving forward. Is it ready to take down Alabama? Probably not, but the Aggies have the look of the second-best team in the SEC behind the defending national champions. Arkansas still has the potential to play spoiler with anyone on their schedule though, including Alabama.

Knight was a machine for the Aggies, ending his night with 225 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, a game-high 157 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Arkansas quarterback passed for 371 yards and two scores, but took a beating all night.

Texas A&M is 4-0 for the third straight season under Kevin Sumlin. The last time Texas A&M went 4-0 in three straight seasons was 1939-1941. It is also the third straight undefeated September for Texas A&M, which was last achieved from 1997 through 1999. The hot seat talk has been nowhere to be heard in College Station this season.

Arkansas gets a likely breather next week when they return home to host Alcorn State. A home game against Alabama looms after that. Texas A&M will stay in SEC play next week when they head to South Carolina. The Gamecocks are coming off a 17-10 loss at Kentucky.

Seth Russell’s 4 TD night vs. Oklahoma State helps No. 16 Baylor remain undefeated

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Seth Russell #17 of the Baylor Bears looks for an open receiver against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first quarter at McLane Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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In a game that was delayed over an hour by weather, featured a bizarre coaching decision and over 1,000 yards of combined offense, No. 16 Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) managed to pull away and remain one of two remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12 with a 35-24 victory at home over Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12). West Virgina is also undefeated after beating BYU earlier in the day.

Baylor quarterback Seth Russell passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns in the win, and he also led the ground attack with 65 rushing yards on 10 carries. Ishmael Zamora, in his first game back from a three-game suspension for beating his dog, caught eight of the passes from Russell for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Platt also hauled in a 100-yard day with a pair of touchdowns.

While the winning formula for Baylor typically revolves around the offense, Oklahoma State coughed the ball up four times, although they did pick up 30 first downs and run 100 plays of offense as well. It was far from pretty for Baylor, with seven penalties and giving up 28 first downs, but the Bears will take it and enjoy the undefeated start to the season regardless.

Baylor head coach Jim Grobe did make one puzzling coaching decision late in the third quarter when he kept the offense on the field to try to pick up a first down on fourth and one from Baylor’s 24-yard line. You read that correctly. They went for it from the Baylor 24-yard line, with a lead mind you, in the third quarter. Oklahoma State stuffed the play for no gain and the offense was unable to capitalize. That may have cost Oklahoma State, and it bailed Grobe out for an absolute bonehead coaching decision.

But the defensive stop was just the start. Oklahoma State’s defense could not hold Baylor down and the Bears put together a 99-yard touchdown drive, with Seth Russell finding Chris Platt from 15 yards out on third and goal. It served as the knockout blow from the Bears offense, who had four touchdown drives of at least 73 yards on the night.

Baylor will be on the road next week for more Big 12 competition. The Bears hit the road to take on Iowa State for an early kickoff next Saturday. Oklahoma State will be home next week for a meeting with the Texas Longhorns. Texas will be coming off a bye week after losing on the road at Cal last weekend.