O'Brien Edsall

Update: Terps remove Vandy restriction from O’Brien transfer


UPDATED 9:54 a.m. ET: Maryland confirmed via a press release that offensive lineman Max Garcia, quarterback Danny O’Brien and linebacker Mario Rowson have all been granted a full release from the football program with no transfer restrictions.

“While at first I thought it was important to limit the institutions to which they could transfer, I have since reconsidered my decision” head coach Randy Edsall said in a statement. “At the end of the day, I want what’s best for these guys and I wish them well in their futures.

“As a program we are looking forward to putting this distraction behind us and to moving forward. Spring practice opens on March 10 and we can’t wait to get back out on the field.”


Apparently, the backlash was extremely effective.  Or the football program stepped into a puddle of class and caught a swift case of common decency, one of the two.

Heavily criticized for limiting the transfer options of quarterback Danny O’Brien and two other players, Maryland is backing off that stance, with the Baltimore Sun reporting that all three players will now be permitted to transfer to Vanderbilt if they so desire.  The Sun wrote that “Terps coach Randy Edsall is meeting with the players this morning and informing them of the decision.”

O’Brien, along with offensive lineman Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson, were granted releases from their scholarships earlier this month, although the releases came with stipulations: no transfers to ACC schools; any upcoming non-conference opponents, including West Virginia and Temple; and Vandy, coached by former Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin.  The first two stipulations are standard, while the third was viewed, and rightly so, as vindictive, petty and classless.

Part of the pettiness on the Terps’ part was the school reportedly believed Vandy had “tampered” with the players, particularly O’Brien.  Franklin has denied the accusations and insinuations.  That said, the Sun reports that the school will continue to pursue the tampering issue through the ACC and SEC.

According to the Washington Post, a formal complaint has already been filed with the ACC, which in turn forwarded the matter to the SEC for further investigation.

Despite the Terps’ sudden benevolence, there’s no guarantee O’Brien will end up with the Commodores, however.  In addition to Vandy, schools such as Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, USF, Stanford,  Ole Miss, East Carolina and Arizona have been mentioned as potential destinations.

Garcia has been offered scholarships from Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Ole Miss since his release, while both Alabama and South Carolina are reportedly considering doing the same.

Maryland’s decision to rescind the Vandy stipulation, though, could change the direction of both situations.

Chip Kelly says he never met to discuss USC vacancy

Chip Kelly

Whether you chose to believe him or not, at least Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is officially on the record. During his regularly scheduled Monday press conference in Philadelphia, Kelly said he never met with anybody to discuss the previously vacant head coaching position at USC.

Alright then. So at least that’s that. (But what about his agent?)

USC filled the head coaching position this morning by officially announcing Clay Helton will remain the head coach after serving as the interim head coach following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian earlier this season. Kelly, the former head coach at Oregon, has had his name attached to multiple coaching rumors at the college level since he left for the NFL, including Texas and Florida before this position at USC opened. Kelly has stood firm on his public statements about not having any interest in a college job, but that never seems to silence the fun hypothetical discussions about his probable eventual return to college football.

Houston and Tom Herman have agreement in principle on new contract

UH Coach Tom Herman
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As the coaching carousel continues to spin, it seems Tom Herman will rest comfortably in Houston for at least one more season. Herman reportedly has an agreement in principle on a new contract to remain the head coach of the Houston Cougars.

We’ve agreed in principle is the best way to put it,” Herman said Monday during a press conference. “We’re working out the details.”

It was previously reported Houston had approved a significant pay raise for the first-year head coach, going up to $3 million with the reworked contract and making it a financial incentive to stay put as job offers flowed in. The push to make Herman the highest-paid coach in the Group of Five, passing Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville ($2.2 million). With a solid foundation for future success, at least in the American Athletic Conference and Group of Five picture, Houston’s financial commitment to Herman is a sign the program is ready and able to work as close to a power conference program as possible.

Herman’s name will continue to be one to watch in future coaching rumors, and in this world we should never say never to the possibility of Herman still being in play for a job elsewhere in this cycle of coaching changes. If Herman and Houston continue to win games, there is no question his stock will remain a valued commodity for power conference programs in the years to come.

Herman and Houston will host Temple this Saturday afternoon in the first American Athletic Conference championship game. The winner will be a lock for receiving the New Years Six bowl spot reserved for the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion. Houston vs. Ohio State (Herman vs. Urban Meyer) is a real possibility in one of the New Years Six bowl games.

Not everybody seems happy about USC’s hiring of Clay Helton

Clay Helton

If there is one thing that can be said about USC hiring Clay Helton as head coach on a permanent basis, it is that it provides stability for the program moving forward. Current players have responded well to Helton. Future Trojans players are responding well to Helton on the recruiting trail. Former USC players? Well, that’s a different situation.

We saw some of this at Miami in recent years with former Hurricanes ripping now former head coach Al Golden. That was a bit of a different situation with Golden being a coach that went against the grain of all that was perceived to be representative of The U. Helton is different because he has been loyal to the program as an assistant coach during a turbulent time. He at least deserves respect of those following and those who have played for USC for that alone. The problem is Helton lacks the kind of appeal most wearing USC lenses expect from their coaching hire and it seems more likely to believe athletics director Pat Haden settled for Helton instead of being able to expand the coaching search and bring in a high-quality coach for the job.

There is one way to swing the emotions the other way for those unhappy with the decision. If USC beats Stanford to win the Pac-12 championship this week, that would be one step in the right direction for the Helton haters and the Haden skeptics (myself included). The pressure will be on more next season regardless of what happens this week in the Pac-12 championship game and whatever bowl game USC ends up playing. USC will be loaded with talent and will be a trendy pick to make a run in the Pac-12 and, perhaps, even the College Football Playoff.

USC names Clay Helton permanent head coach

Clay Helton

The top coaching vacancy in college football has been filled. USC has announced it will remove the interim tag from Clay Helton and make him the permanent head coach moving forward.

Helton has gone 5-2 since taking over the program following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian as head coach. The most recent win this weekend against UCLA both snapped a three-game losing streak to the crosstown rival Bruins and clinched USC’s first trip to the Pac-12 championship game as Pac-12 South Division champions. Helton has been with the USC program since 2010 under various assistant roles. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013 and named interim head coach that season following the firing of Lane Kiffin. He stayed on the staff following the hiring of Sarkisian from Washington.

Helton had become a clear player favorite in the program, as Helton calmed a troublesome environment of uncertainty in the middle fo the season and delivered a division championship. The only losses under Helton came on the road against Notre Dame in Helton’s first game as interim head coach and more recently at Oregon, a program that revived itself as well. If nothing else, Helton’s being named the head coach provides for some stability for the program, although there should be some questions moving forward whether it will be the right move or not in the long term. The USC job was thought to be the top job on the market and worthy of some high-caliber candidates. There had been rumblings USC reached out to Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, a former Oregon coach of course, but the odds Kelly was going to leave the Eagles on his own a year after getting general manager power were always low.

USC will continue to bring plenty of pressure to win, and win big. Helton will continue to guide a roster packed with talent and getting back to full strength after a stretch of sanctioned seasons. If Helton does not win, he will quickly enter the hot seat conversation.

USC plays Stanford for the Pac-12 championship this week.