Everett Withers

Update: Buckeyes confirm Withers hiring; Vrabel to remain on staff


A couple of weeks worth of speculation and hinting around the hiring has come to fruition, with Urban Meyer filling another hole in his first-ever Ohio State coaching staff.

North Carolina interim head coach Everett Withers confirmed to reporters Wednesday afternoon that he will be leaving the Tar Heels to assume a position with the Buckeyes.  It’s believed Withers will become Meyer’s co-defensive coordinator, sharing that role with OSU interim head coach Luke Fickell — provided he doesn’t land the Pittsburgh head-coaching job, of course.

Ohio State is expected to make an announcement at some point in the near future, perhaps as early as today.

Withers was the coordinator at Minnesota in 2007 before moving on to serve in the same position with Butch Davis from 2008-10.  He took over the head-coaching duties when Davis was fired a month before the start of the 2011 season.

Before heading to Columbus, Withers, who had also been mentioned in connection to the coordinator vacancy at Auburn, will coach the Tar Heels in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl against Missouri next Monday night.

UPDATED 3:36 p.m. ET: In a press release, Ohio State officially announced the hiring of Everett Withers as Urban Meyer‘s co-defensive coordinator/assistant head coach.

“Everett is extremely well respected across the country,” Meyer said in a statement. “I’ve known about him for a number of years and followed his progress as a college and NFL assistant coach. He will be a great fit for this staff and I think he and Luke [Fickell] are going to work well together as the co-coordinators of our defense.”

“I am excited, and I couldn’t be more excited to be on coach Urban Meyer’s staff at The Ohio State University,” Withers said. “Ohio State is obviously one of the storied programs in college athletics. Having an opportunity to work at that university, and as part of Coach Meyer’s staff, is something that you just can’t pass up.”

In addition to Withers’ hiring, OSU also announced that Mike Vrabel has been retained as a defensive assistant.  Vrabel served as linebackers coach in 2011.

“I had heard such great things about Mike Vrabel as a player, but the key thing for me was I wanted to talk football with him,” Meyer said. “I wanted to see him recruit, and I wanted to meet his family. I have since spent a lot of time with him, and he has a wonderful family.

“I also spoke to a number of people I know well, who also know Mike very well, including Bill Belichick. Coach Belichick and I had a really good discussion about Mike. While Mike is young, we both agreed that the unique experiences he has had as a player, coupled with the things he has already accomplished as a coach and recruiter for Ohio State, has prepared Mike for this opportunity. I am very pleased he will be on the staff.”

Dabo Swinney wins ACC Coach of the Year award

Dabo Swinney
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When you go undefeated, people tend to give you awards.

In the wake of Clemson’s first perfect regular season, its first since 1981, head coach and pizza party patron Dabo Swinney was named the ACC’s top coach on Tuesday.

Swinney received 27 of the 50 available votes, edging North Carolina’s Larry Fedora (21). Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi each gobbled up one of the two remaining votes.

Aaron Brenner of the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier notes Swinney is due a $25,000 bonus for winning the award.

Win or lose, Dabo Swinney throwing pizza party for Clemson on Sunday

Dabo Swinney, Jim Brown
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Clemson’s 12-0 regular season will be celebrated Sunday, whether or not the Tigers win Saturday night’s ACC Championship.

“We’re gonna have a pizza party on Sunday. That’s gonna happen,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney pledged Tuesday to the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, following through on an off-hand comment made a few weeks back. “It’s kind of hard to plan for a pizza party when you don’t know the outcome. We’re not going to know that until midnight — that’s a lot of dough.”

It’s unclear if Swinney’s last statement was meant literally or figuratively or both.

Either way, Clemson said it will provide at least 2,500 Papa John’s pizzas, which will be distributed for free upon admittance to Memorial Stadium. Assuming a Tigers win over North Carolina, gates will open at 11 a.m. in advance of the noon ET College Football Playoff selection show.

But the party will go on regardless of Saturday night’s result.

“Regardless of whether we win or lose the game Saturday night, this team deserves to be celebrated.”

Report: Temple’s Matt Rhule stops talking to Missouri

Matt Rhule

The search for a new coach at Missouri continues, and apparently one candidate has backed away from the pursuit. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple head coach Matt Rhule has turned taken himself out of the mix for the job at Missouri, which likely means Rhule will stay put in South Philly during this coaching carousel cycle.

According to the report, Temple is also in the process of negotiating a new contract for Rhule. Rhule has already signed a contract extension with Temple that runs through 2021. Rhule’s Owls are also preparing to take on Houston in this week’s American Athletic Conference championship game. Rhule does not believe this will serve as a distraction to his team as they prepare for the Cougars.

“I think our team is way too strong to be distracted about anything with me,” Rhule said. “I am honest with our players and tell them everything.”

Ironically, Houston also received some encouraging news this week when head coach Tom Herman said he has an agreement in principle to stay at Houston. Not only is that good news for Houston and Temple, but that is outstanding news for the conference as a whole, although Memphis did lose Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech.

For Temple, this should be encouraging news as a program. The two coaches before Rhule took the job each left to take on power conference opportunities once they came along. Al Golden took an offer to coach Miami (that, uh, didn’t exactly pan out nicely) and Steve Addazio bolted for Boston College. Who knows if Rhule will stick around for the long haul, but it would seem just being able to get him to return in 2016 would be a major step in the right direction for Temple.

Texas Tech fires three defensive assistants

Kliff Kingsbury

Texas Tech may be getting ready for a bowl game, but they will do so without three defensive assistant coaches. Co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Mike Smith, cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis and outside linebackers coach Trey Haverty have been cut from the coaching staff, head coach Kliff Kingsbury announced today.

“We appreciate all that Mike, Kevin and Trey have done at Texas Tech over the last three seasons,” Kingsbury said in a released statement. “All three are great Red Raiders and we wish them the very best.”

Texas Tech had the Big 12’s ninth-ranked total defense after allowing 540.2 yards per game. That was nearly 100 yards more per game than Iowa State’s eighth-ranked defense. Only Kansas had a worst defense, allowing 560.8 yards per game. Texas Tech’s defense ranked 126th in the nation out of 128 schools. The Red Raiders were torched through the air, allowing 268.3 yards per game through the air, which was ranked 113th in the nation.

Offense appears to be the key to success in the Big 12 and defense has tended to be a hurdle for the Red Raider program. This much appears to be clear though. Kingsbury is making moves with his roster to find a way to improve defensively and become a more well-rounded threat in the Big 12.