“I love my alma mater, but I have no interest in being the head coach at Penn State. I never want to leave Tennessee.”
Those were the very black-and-white words of Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak, uttered in the middle of this past week and in the midst of swirling speculation that he would become the next head coach at his alma mater.
While his public words came off as a very vehement, no-gray-area denial, that’s apparently not the case behind the scenes. Reportedly.
According to ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, and citing a source close to the NFL coach, Munchak is struggling with the decision to either stay with the Titans — an organization he’s been a part of for the past three decades as a player and coach — or returning to Happy Valley to help repair a football program whose image has taken a beating the past two months or so thanks to the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal. That apparent indecision has left the Nittany Lions with the feeling they can still reel in an individual who’s the perceived front-runner to replace Joe Paterno.
“He loves his school and his heart is torn,” the source told Schad. “He really fits what they want and need to a tee.”
So, is it possible Munchak is still a candidate? Based on his very strong denial, no. Based on the fact that some/most coaches say one thing when in fact they’re contemplating the exact opposite, it’s absolutely possible. It wouldn’t be the first time an NFL head coach said one thing and did another, right Miami Dolphins fans?
The source went on to tell Schad that the situation should be resolved within the next week or so, one way or the other. The Titans play their regular-season finale Sunday and, barring an updated version of the Music City Miracle, will miss out on a playoff berth.
If Munchak did indeed mean what he said in his public denial and is not a candidate, Schad writes that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano could be viable replacements for Paterno. Schiano has already publicly denied any interest in the job, for what it’s worth.
Tough news out of Western New York and it has nothing to do with basketball.
Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper posted on Instagram Friday that cancer has spread to his abdomen following surgery but it is treatable and he is expected to return to the field after undergoing chemotherapy.
Culpepper did see action last season and completed 45 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore is once again expected to back up Eric Dungey once he returns to the team.
It goes without saying that the entire college football community is wishing the Orange signal-caller the best of luck and look forward to seeing him back out at the Carrier Dome next season.
Two of the most successful programs in all of college football may be set to renew their rivalry on the gridiron.
In a tidbit that can make every fan of the sport giddy with excitement, the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Alabama is negotiating with Notre Dame about a potential home-and-home series in football. Nick Saban‘s program is also apparently pursuing a home-and-home with another big name as well in a somewhat stark scheduling philosophy change from the school after years of big neutral site games at places like AT&T Stadium in Texas and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” Crimson Tide athletic director Greg Byrne told the paper.
That’s not exactly denying the story…
Of course the Tide and Irish have a lengthy history in the sport, famously playing back in the 1970’s during several key bowl games and most recently contesting the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against each other (which both sides probably can’t forget about in two very different ways). Amazingly, Alabama has only played two home-and-home series since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa and let’s just say that a trip to Duke isn’t exactly the same as going to South Bend.
As for the Irish, they’ve shown an increased appetite toward playing SEC teams in recent years. Notre Dame hosted Georgia last season and has also recently added Arkansas and Texas A&M to the docket in future years. Given how schedules are locked in so far in advance it seems doubtful we’ll be able to stage a rematch between Saban and Brian Kelly but, either way, these two programs getting together is a welcome bit of offseason news.
A quiet offseason is a good offseason for college head coaches but that does not appear to be the case at Georgia for Kirby Smart.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s DawgNation site, the school has fired associate equipment manager Kevin Purvis after he was arrested and charged on Friday night for four felonies (three of which were for “illegal eavesdropping or surveillance”) and a misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
“As soon as it learned of the incident, the Athletic Association notified the University of Georgia Police Department, who began their investigation,” a statement from the program to the AJC said. “The University took immediate action, and the employee was terminated early in the investigation. Based on the findings of the police investigation, no student-athletes were victims in this incident.”
Purvis had worked for the program since 2006. The paper later said that he was “accused of using a hidden camera to capture images of at least one individual showering in the Bulldogs locker room” and was being held on a $8,500 bond. The incident that led to an investigation apparently happened in late February, with the arrest being executed by police on Friday night.
Needless to say, this is not the kind of headline that the Bulldogs would like to see just as spring practice gets going.
One thing’s for certain: Brandon Dawkins won’t be lacking suitors, including Power Five ones, in his quest to find a new college football home.
According to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com, Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Nebraska and UCLA have all expressed interest in the quarterback. Rittenberg adds that Dawkins has plans to visit the campuses of FAU and IU in the coming weeks.
On Twitter late last month, Dawkins announced that he would be transferring from Arizona.
Dawkins is set to graduate from UA this coming May, which will make him eligible to play immediately in 2018 at wherever he lands. The upcoming season will serve as Dawkins’ final year of eligibility at the collegiate level.
Dawkins started nine games in 2016 and the first four games this past season before the force of nature known as Khalil Tate took over. All told, he played in 23 games during his four seasons in the desert. The 13 starts previously mentioned were the only ones of his UA career.
For the Wildcats portion of his playing career, Dawkins completed just over 56 percent of his 334 passes for 2,418 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He ran for another 1,582 yards and 20 more touchdowns.