Update: Arkansas State confirms Malzahn hiring

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UPDATED 12/14/2011 @ 8:11 a.m. ET: In a press release, Arkansas State confirmed that Gus Malzahn has been hired as its new head coach.  A 4:30 p.m. ET press conference will be held Wednesday to officially introduce the Auburn offensive coordinator.

There’s no official word as of yet whether Malzahn will coordinate the Tigers’ offense in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Virginia.

UPDATED 12/14/2011 @ 10:51 a.m. ET: Head coach Gene Chizik confirmed in a statement that Malzahn will stay with the Tigers through AU’s bowl game.

“I’m very happy for Gus and the opportunity that awaits him at Arkansas State. Gus has always had the strong desire to become a head coach and the chance for him to return to his home state that he is so familiar with, will be very beneficial. He’s meant a tremendous amount to our program the past three years, helping our offense and our program achieve unprecedented heights, winning a BCS National Championship and setting countless offensive records. Gus has experienced success in each stop of his coaching career and I have no doubt that he will have similar results at Arkansas State. We look forward to having Gus stay with us through the bowl game and hope to send him out with a victory.”

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Exactly one year ago today, it was reported that Gus Malzahn had turned down an offer in the neighborhood of $3 million to become the head coach at Vanderbilt.

Fast-forward 365 days, and the Auburn offensive coordinator is reportedly set to become a head coach at a non-automatic qualifying conference school.  For about a fifth of what he turned down from Vandy.  And for around 50-percent less than what he’s making now as a coordinator.

Yet that’s where things apparently stand at the moment, with ArkansasSports360.com reporting that Arkansas State has extended an offer to Malzahn to become its next head football coach.  Another website takes it a step further, with NationalFootballAuthority.com reporting that the Arkansas native “will be the next head coach of the Arkansas State Red Wolves”.

That website reports that Malzahn will make $750,000 annually; in a previous story no longer accessible on the site, NFA reported that Malzahn would receive $600,000 a year.

Earlier this morning, citing people familiar with the search, the Birmingham News reported that Malzahn is on ASU’s short list to replace Hugh Freeze, who left the Red Wolves last week for the Ole Miss job.  Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com was told in the same timeframe that Malzahn had received an offer from ASU.

Messages left by CFT for Malzahn’s representation, AU and ASU seeking comment have yet to be returned.

This is not exactly the first speculative rodeo for Malzahn, though.  In addition to Vandy job last year, the coordinator also interviewed for the Maryland vacancy in 2010 and was reported to be the front-runner for the North Carolina job as well as a candidate for the Kansas opening this year.

If Malzahn does leave for ASU, it would mean head coach Gene Chizik would be forced to replace both of his coordinators before next season as, earlier this month, Ted Roof left for the same position at another school.  That departure was the first Tigers coaching head-scratcher as Roof left AU for UCF.

Regardless, there’s something extremely, well, odd going on down on The Plains when it comes to the top lieutenants on Chizik’s coaching staff.  It’s puzzling to think that a head coach could lose both of his coordinators to “lesser” jobs in the span of a week, even if one is a head-coaching opportunity, if everything was coming up puppy dogs and rainbows within the program.

UPDATED 10:09 p.m. ET: The Birmingham News is reporting that Malzahn will become the next head coach at Arkansas State, with a press conference expected to take place Wednesday.  Per the News, Malzahn’s contract with the Red Wolves is expected to average $850,000 annually.

Billion dollar club: Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma named most valuable CFB programs

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Alabama is No. 1 in just about every college football poll… except one.

That would be the Wall Street Journal’s annual ranking of college football programs. While you might think that the paper gives Clemson the edge instead, you have to know that they are not examining teams’ performance on the field in 2017, but rather their overall evaluation. Much like Forbes does in ranking NFL franchise values, WSJ attempted to find out how much college football programs were worth and came to the conclusion that Ohio State reigns supreme in the sport with a nearly $1.5 billion sticker price.

The Buckeyes’ value shot up nearly 60% in just a year so you can thank a College Football Playoff appearance and that huge new Big Ten television package for boosting their bottom line. The WSJ came to the conclusion by citing a study performed by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.

Not far behind Ohio State and still in the billion dollar club were Big 12 rivals Texas and Oklahoma. The Longhorns were an annual mainstay atop estimates like this for years but the team’s recent malaise on the field seems to have held them back lately. While the SEC did not have a team crack the 10 figure mark (shockingly), the league did make up half of the top 10. All said, the most valuable conference in college football averaged nearly $523 million per team overall.

Here’s the overall top 10 teams and how much they’re worth per the report:

  1. Ohio State – $1,510,482,000
  2. Texas – $1,243,124,000
  3. Oklahoma – $1,001,967,00
  4. Alabama $930,001,000
  5. Louisiana State – $910,927,000
  6. Michigan – $892,951,000
  7. Notre Dame – $856,938,000
  8. Georgia – $822,310,000
  9. Tennessee – $745,640,00
  10. Auburn – $724,191,000

Boise State QB Brett Rypien cleared to play vs. Virginia, unclear if he’ll start

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Boise State got their starting quarterback back.  Whether he’ll be back to starting remains to be seen.

Bryan Harsin confirmed Wednesday that Brett Rypien has been cleared to play in Friday’s game against Virginia.  Rypien sustained a head injury in the first quarter of the Washington State loss in Week 2 and didn’t return, then was sidelined for the Week 3 win over New Mexico as well.

While there has been no confirmation from the school, it has been reported that Rypien sustained a concussion.

“Brett has been practicing, he’s been cleared,” the Broncos head coach said according to the Idaho Press Tribune. “He’s good. He’s been back in the mix and there’s no issue there.”

Left unsaid is whether he or Kansas transfer Montell Cozart will get the start against the Cavaliers.  In his first start for the Broncos, Cozart directed an offense that finished with its lowest yardage output (264) in five years.  Individually, Cozart produced solid stats in the win as he completed 15 of his 19 passes for 137 yards while adding 71 on the ground.  He also accounted for three touchdowns — two passing, one rushing.

Regardless of who starts, Harsin acknowledged that both Cozart and Rypien will play in the non-conference game.

Shawn Eichorst’s firing at Nebraska increases heat on Mike Riley

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If Mike Riley wasn’t feeling the pressure to win before, he certainly is now.

Thursday afternoon, Nebraska announced that Shawn Eichorst, the man responsible for firing Bo Pelini as head football coach and hiring Riley as his replacement, has been ousted from his position as athletic director at the university.  The move is effective immediately.

Eichorst was hired by NU in October of 2012, and still has $1.7 million remaining on a contract that runs through June of 2019.  The university will be responsible for paying Eichorst that entire amount.

“Shawn has led Nebraska Athletics in many positive ways, but those efforts have not translated into on-field performance,” chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “Our fans and our student-athletes deserve leadership that drives the highest levels of competitiveness, as well as excellence across all facets of Husker Athletics.”

The fact that the chancellor mentioned lack of on-field performance should be especially worrisome for Riley.

The Cornhuskers won at least nine games in each of the seven seasons under Pelini.  His last two seasons, they finished a combined 18-7.  In Riley’s two-plus seasons, they’ve gone 16-13, including a 1-2 stumble out of the gate this year.

The move to fire Eichorst comes less than a week after Nebraska lost 21-17 to Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium.

That loss marked NU’s first defeat at home to a Group of Five team since falling to Southern Miss in 2004.  That was the first year of the Bill Callahan reign in Lincoln, a season that would finish with a 5-6 record; that was the program’s worst since going 3-6-1 in 1961.

The NIU loss was also the first time, ever, that the Cornhuskers have lost to a team from the MAC, either at home, on the road or on a neutral field.

USC optimistic Uchenna Nwosu will play against Cal

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Already battered by injuries on defense, USC may have avoided what would’ve potentially been a significant loss on that side of the ball.

Uchenna Nwosu suffered a sprained MCL in his knee during USC’s double-overtime win over Texas in Week 3.  After being held out in the early part of the week, the linebacker, armed — or kneed as the case may be — with a brace, returned to practice Wednesday.

Afterward, head coach Clay Helton seemed optimistic about Nwosu’s availability for the Week 4 game against Cal, their first road trip of the season.

Nwosu is currently second on the team in tackles with 20, while his seven pass breakups rank second nationally.  He’s started the first three games of the season for the Trojans after starting every game in 2016.

That brings us to the end of the positive injury news portion of the program as fellow linebacker Porter Gustin is very unlikely to play against the Golden Bears.  Gustin, who leads the Trojans in sacks with three, has been dealing with a surgically-repaired big toe.  While it didn’t keep him out of the Texas game as expected, he was sidelined again at practice Wednesday.

Additionally, defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) and slot cornerback Ajene Harris (knee) are questionable for the road trip to Berkeley after sitting out practice yet again.