Wanna bet? Malzahn the favorite to replace Petrino

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As the shock slowly begins to wane from Bobby Petrino‘s firing as Arkansas’ head coach earlier this week, more and more attention turns to which man will replace the disgraced coach for either the short- or the long-term.

And, if you place any faith in the individuals responsible for setting the betting lines, the football program may not even have to go out of the state to find a permanent successor.

According to Bovada.com (formerly Bodog.com), Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn is the favorite to replace Petrino, coming in at 5/2.  The former Auburn offensive coordinator was one of the first names mentioned in the wake of Petrino’s firing, although he’s publicly stated that he’s “committed to being here” at ASU.

Malzahn’s far from a heavy favorite, however, as former Razorbacks OC and current UAB head coach Garrick McGee — the favorite of quite a few current and former UA players — is at 3/1 while USF head coach Skip Holtz, whose dad Lou was the Razorbacks’ head coach over three decades ago, is in the mix as far as the bettors are concerned at 7/2.  Like Malzahn, Holtz has (kinda) (sorta) denied interest in the job.

FIU head coach Mario Cristobal comes in at 5/1, while Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who will be a head coach at this level sooner rather than later, is viewed as a 6/1 shot to replace Petrino.

Next in line is the most successful and established name that’s been attached to the opening — TCU’s Gary Patterson.  While the odds are at 10/1, it’s head-scratching that they’re even that high, if for nothing more than the timing of the opening as well as the fact that Patterson does not “seem” like a coach who would leave a program he’s been at for 11 full seasons and turned into a powerhouse less than five months before the start of a new season.  Perhaps Patterson would listen after this season if UA goes the interim route — and even then it’s anyone’s guess if he’d entertain UA’s interest — but the timing and the circumstances make him a highly unlikely option for the short-term.

Louisville’s Charlie Strong, perhaps given his extensive SEC ties, has been mentioned as a possibility as well and is a 15/1 shot according to Bovada, the same as former North Carolina and Miami (Fla.) head coach Butch Davis.

Finally, and just for spits and giggles apparently, a member of the Razorbacks’ 1964 national championship team was also listed — two-time Super Bowl and one-time NCAA champion Jimmy Johnson at 20/1.

Despite all of the names circulating around the opening, and if I were a betting man — I’ll bet you $20 I’m not — I’m laying heavy odds on athletic director Jeff Long naming a “permanent” interim head coach at some point in the next couple of weeks, following that decision up with a methodical, all-inclusive national search that will ultimately result in a permanent replacement being named at some point after the 2012 regular season.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.