Arkansas St Malzahn Football

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.

Checking in on the nation’s longest winning & losing streaks

Alabama's head coach Saban instructs his players as they take on the LSU Tigers during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge
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Unbelievably, at the end of today, we’ll be more than one-third of the way through the 2016 regular season as the calendar flips from September to October. And, not surprisingly, some teams are faring better than others — and some, suffice to say, are not.

In “water’s wet, sky’s blue” news, defending national champions and undefeated top-ranked Alabama holds the nation’s longest winning streak at 16 in a row. ‘Bama’s last loss came Sept. 19 a year ago against Ole Miss. In fact, the Tide hasn’t really come close to seeing that streak end since as just two of their last 16 games have been decided by 10-plus points, with the lone exceptions being a 19-14 win over Tennessee in October of last year and 43-37 over Ole Miss just two weeks ago.

What might surprise you, though, is the second-longest streak behind ‘Bama. The holder of that honor? San Diego State, which has peeled off 13 wins in a row entering Week 5. Tennessee is the only other team in double digits, with 10 wins in a row dating back to last season.  The Vols’ last loss?  To the Tide, of course, a defeat that UT will get to avenge two weeks from today in the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium.

A total of nine teams will also take the field Saturday with a winning streak of at least five in a row:

7 — Houston, Washington
6 — Louisville, Utah, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
5 — Boise State, Navy, Ohio State

Clemson could join some combination of the above at that five-game winning-streak plateau Saturday, but to get there they’ll have to beat… Louisville.

On the other side of the won-loss ledger, the “proud” owner of the nation’s longest losing streak entering the 2016 season was Kansas* at 15 straight, followed by UCF (13), Charlotte (10), Eastern Michigan (10), Oregon State (nine) and Boston College (eight).

All six of those teams have seen those losing streaks come to a merciful end, with EMU actually off to a 3-1 start to the year. The team that was just behind BC, Wake Forest, carried a six-game losing streak into 2016 before surprisingly (stunningly?) winning their first four games of the season.

So, with all of that winning from last year’s biggest losers, who’s the current “top” loser? That title now belongs to the Northern Illinois Huskies, the winners of the last six MAC West championships — and three of the last six conference titles — who have started this season with four straight losses to stretch their ignominious streak to a nation’s best/worst seven in a row. Just three other teams have a streak that began during the 2015 season: Florida International, which has lost six in a row and already fired their head coach; Arkansas State, which lost its first four of this season to push its streak to five in a row; and Georgia State, 0-3 on the season to add to a loss in the 2015 Cure Bowl for a four-game losing streak.

Two additional teams are winless on the season after winning their last game of 2015: Miami of Ohio and Rice, which are each 0-4 in 2016.

(*While Kansas’ overall losing streak came to an end, they’ve still lost 17 in a row against FBS opponents, with the last one of those coming in early November of 2015 against Iowa State.)

Miami to wear helmet stickers honoring late Marlins P Jose Fernandez

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Scenes from the funeral for Jose Fernandez at St. Brendanâs Catholic Church on September 29, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy-Pool/Getty Images)
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The tragic death of Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez has touched those in and around the South Beach community, including the flagship college football program in the area.

Fernandez, along with two friends, was killed in a boating accident off of South Beach last Sunday.  For Saturday’s ACC opener against Georgia Tech, The U will wear helmet stickers with Fernandez’s No. 16 on the back to honor the late All-Star pitcher.

The football program unveiled the sticker as displayed on the helmet of starting quarterback Brad Kaaya.

LOOK: TCU to wear debut new chrome helmets for game vs. Oklahoma

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As someone loathe to post on the myriad uniform combinations that college football teams toss out there on an almost weekly basis, I have to admit that these are… not bad. At all.

Quite fresh looking, actually.

Ahead of their black-out game against Oklahoma Saturday, TCU unveiled a new chrome helmet that the Horned Frogs will wear against the Sooners.  The helmets feature purple facemasks and a rather large purple horned frog on each side of it.

While all of that stuff, the helmets and uniforms and cleats and gloves and the like, are mainly for the benefit of recruits and current players, I and my particular demographic would have to give it a hearty thumbs up.  Which I’m certain means the world to the football program.

Longtime starting WKU safety likely out for remainder of 2016

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Calvin Ridley #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes away from Marcus Ward #8 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Like they have the last couple of weeks, Western Kentucky will have to get used to Marcus Ward not patrolling its defensive secondary on game days.

Ward (pictured, left) injured his knee in Week 2 and has not returned to the playing field.  Unfortunately for the player and the football program, that absence will continue as the safety underwent surgery on the knee, which is expected to sideline him for the remainder of the 2016 season.

This may not be the last of the fourth-year senior in a Hilltopper uniform, though, as Ward has yet to use his redshirt season and would have a medical waiver at his disposal even if he had.  It’s unclear, however, if Ward will return for another season or rather make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.

Ward has started a total of 31 games since his true freshman season in 2013, including 26 the previous two seasons.  He was named preseason second-team All-Conference USA prior to the start of the 2016 season.

Perhaps more importantly, he was named a semifinalist earlier this month as a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, also known as the Academic Heisman.