Updated: WAC now reportedly on MEGA life support (again)


UPDATED 4/30 @ 7:20 p.m. ET: You never want to say for sure a conference is dead until it is — right, Big 12? — but the WAC seems to be fading from existence on a day-to-day basis.

Not one day after reports surfaced linking two current WAC members — Utah State and San Jose State — to the Mountain West, another future WAC member, Texas State, is also being connected to what is amounting to a mass exodus from the conference.

BobcatReport, a Rivals.com affiliate for TSU, is reporting that the Bobcats, entering the 1-A world this year, will instead make the Sun Belt their permanent home beginning in 2013. The move is said to be a replacement for North Texas, which could make a move to Conference USA.

Hopefully, y’all should know how the realignment news works by now: a lot of “sources”; a lot of “reports.” That’s not to say we have any reason to doubt the fellas at BobcatReport, but when things begin picking up like this, a disclaimer is often needed.

If the report holds true, however, the WAC as we know it is rapidly dissolving and the future of two members — Idaho and New Mexico State — remain very much undetermined.

UPDATED 4/29 @ 9:50 p.m. ET: Highlight. Copy. Paste. The WAC is reportedly on life support once again.

Just days after CBSSports reported (see below) that Conference USA was close to adding UT-San Antonio, a former 1-AA program that is supposed to be headed for the WAC, more reports are surfacing that the Mountain West is also on the verge of plucking more teams from its beleaguered western athletic counterpart.

The San Jose Mercury News and the Salt Lake Tribune report that San Jose State and Utah State are indeed close to joining the Mountain West, with the former article indicating an invite could come for the Spartans this week for the 2013-14 season.

If/when this becomes official, it would be a huge blow to a conference standing on shaky ground. The WAC is already losing Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada to the MWC and could lose four more members if reports about UTSA, SJSU, USU and Louisiana Tech (to C-USA) come to fruition.

In other words, the WAC could eventually be down to Idaho, New Mexico State and Texas State in the not-too-distant future.

WACBelt, anyone?


With Conference USA and the Mountain West apparently staying as two separate leagues for the immediate future, the two conferences now must plug the holes left by respective members leaving for the Big East.

C-USA looks like they’re getting the ball rolling in that department.

Brett McMurphy of CBSSports confirmed that UT-San Antonio will join C-USA in 2013, pending approval from the University of Texas System Board of Regents on Wednesday. RowdyReport.com first reported that accepting an invitation to C-USA was on the UT Board of Regents’ agenda.

Conversations between the two sides reportedly began in March.

The Roadrunners, along with fellow former 1-AA member Texas State, were originally planning to join the WAC, which means the beleaguered non- AQ league could now be down yet another member. Additionally, current WAC schools Utah State and San Jose State remain strong candidates to join the Mountain West, with Louisiana Tech as another option for C-USA.

If UTSA does join C-USA instead of the WAC, it would be a situation similar to TCU standing up the Big East for the Big 12. UTSA would not have to pay any exit fee for such a move, only a $2 million entry fee to C-USA (note that TCU did pay an exit fee to the Big East, but did not wait the required 27 months to leave the conference according to the league bylaws).

North Texas and FIU also remain on C-USA’s radar. Earlier this week, UNT gave president Lane Rawlins the authority to look at other conferences and make a move should the opportunity present itself, an important move along the chain of events for a school to join another conference.

There’s no exit fee should one or both of those teams leave the Sun Belt, but each could forfeit approximately $500,000 in revenue sharing.

Given the timetable for entry (2013), I would expect something official regarding all this potential moving and shaking over the next couple months.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.