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Myriad conference expansion pressers on tap Friday

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While they don’t quite move the needle like expansionpalooza did back in 2010 and 2011, several athletic departments will officially announce Friday that their respective football programs will be embarking on a new conference path in the not-too-distant future.

All told, and as reminded by Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com, seven schools will announce at individual press conferences their new league homes beginning in 2013: FIU and North Texas will confirm they are leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA; Louisiana Tech, from the WAC to Conference USA; UT-San Antonio and Charlotte — newly-minted or soon-to-be newly-minted Div. 1-A (FBS) programs, with the former spending 2012 in the WAC — to Conference USA; and San Jose State and Utah State from the WAC to the Mountain West.

Texas State, which will spend its first year as a Div. 1-A program in the WAC, has previously announced it will join the Sun Belt in 2012.  Georgia State will also join the SBC the same year.

A spokesperson for Old Dominion, which has been rumored as another Conference USA possibility, told McMurphy that the university will continue to “assess the changing landscape of Division I athletics” before making a decision the future of its athletic programs, which currently reside in the Colonial Athletic Association.

So, once all of the dust clears from tomorrow’s press conferences, the Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and WAC will (for now) look as follows beginning in 2013:

MWC
Air Force
Colorado State
Fresno State
Hawaii
Nevada
New Mexico
San Jose State
UNLV
Utah State
Wyoming

(Note: Boise State and San Diego State are leaving for the Big East in 2013, TCU for the Big 12 in 2012)

C-USA
East Carolina
FIU
Louisiana Tech
Marshall
North Texas
Rice
Southern Miss
Tulane
Tulsa
UAB
UTEP
UT-San Antonio

(Notes: Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF are leaving for the Big East in 2013, while Charlotte, which will play as a Div. 1-AA (FCS) independent in 2013 and 2014, will join in football in 2015)

SUN BELT
Arkansas State
FAU
Georgia State
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Middle Tennessee State
South Alabama
Texas State
Troy
Western Kentucky

WAC
Idaho
New Mexico State

(Notes: UTSA, Texas State, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Utah State will compete in the WAC in 2012, while Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii will leave for the Mountain West July 1 of this year)

(Notes, the sequel: it’s highly, highly doubtful the WAC will exist as a conference after the 2012-2013 academic year)

Washington State coach Mike Leach fires a shot at the SEC

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 19: Head coach Mike Leach of the Washington State Cougars looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Washington State coach Mike Leach is known across the country as one of college football’s most interesting characters, rambling on from time-to-time about everything from pirates to the history of Geronimo. The latest subject the quirky head coach has turned his sights on? The big ol’ SEC.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger spoke to Leach recently as part of a profile on new Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo, and let’s just say the Air Raid guru of the Palouse didn’t hold back when discussing the state of offenses in the league widely considered to be the best in the sport.

“I’ve got bad news for all these levels people,” Leach said. “Your level isn’t special, your conference isn’t special. All this different level this, different level that. That’s crazy.

 

“This is a great time to be in the SEC, everybody’s got the same offense: run right, run left, play action. And they tease themselves  and say we threw it four more times a game this year than we did last year.”

Leach, who coached in the league at Kentucky, also added some other, more colorful language to describe his impression of the SEC and the offenses teams run. While he did play at Auburn with the Cougars a few years ago, he clearly hasn’t kept up with the way things are trending down south as even pro-style stalwarts like Alabama and Arkansas are using more and more tempo and spread principles on a weekly basis.

Either way, let’s hope the Washington State athletic director is already making calls to schedule an SEC opponent in the coming years. If nothing else, any future appearance by Leach on the Paul Finebaum Show should be must-see entertainment.

Willie Taggart completes Oregon coaching staff with familiar face from USF

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 26: South Florida Bulls head coach Willie Taggart during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images)
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It probably took a little longer than most to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, but Willie Taggart has completed his coaching staff at Oregon and the latest addition is a familiar face.

The school announced Thursday afternoon that Raymond Woodie would be taking over as the Ducks’ new special teams coordinator, having previously spent the past four seasons at USF with Taggart and three more before that together at Western Kentucky.

Woodie most recently served as the Bulls’ defensive coordinator this past season but has been a linebackers coach dating back to 2012. He is regarded by many to be a quality recruiter with good ties to the state of Florida in particular and has also coached the defensive line. While his title makes him responsible for the third phase of the game for Oregon, he figures to also help out new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt in some fashion as well.

The announcement is a bit of positive news for Taggart and the Ducks this week after a considerable bit of bad press for the program stemming from the revelation that multiple Oregon players wound up in the hospital following offseason workouts. New strength coach Irele Oderinde (who also came over from USF) was eventually suspended for one month without pay by the school as a result..

Despite Auburn interest, Texas A&M OC Noel Mazzone staying put in College Station

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 14:  The Texas A&M Aggies offense huddles against the Missouri Tigers at Kyle Field on October 14, 2006 in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M won 25-19. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Gus Malzahn’s quest to find a new offensive coordinator has zigged and zagged in the past few days since the surprising departure of Rhett Lashlee to UConn. One place it will not be going however, is to a fellow SEC West school.

Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle reports that despite some interest in Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, the Aggies’ coach is staying put in College Station.

Mazzone arrived at A&M prior to this past season from UCLA and found early success with the Aggies and transfer quarterback Trevor Knight before a late slide in 2016. Travis Haney of 247Sports reported earlier Thursday that he could be considered the leader in the search to replace Lashlee, but it appears that will not be the case.

The longtime coaching veteran’s name being linked to Auburn isn’t too surprising considering he was the OC there from 1999-2001 but Mazzone’s hefty salary and likely high buyout figure provided some big obstacles if he wanted to reunite with the school.

Instead, it’s on to the next one for Malzahn and company.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan coaches ride go-karts with five-star recruit in Georgia

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines reacts during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 27-23.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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National Signing Day is just around the corner and that means a flurry of in-home visits by coaches across the country trying to lock up the next class of impact players for their program.

We’ve seen plenty of unique attempts by coaches to impress prospects over the years as a result, from often used cookie cakes to sleepovers and limo rides. When it comes to this subject though, few have been as creative as Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. This week, he certainly cemented that reputation.

According to the Detroit News, Harbaugh and several Wolverines coaches took an in-home visit with five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon out of Leesburg, Georgia and went bowling with the recruit’s family before finally racing go-karts together.

And even better, there’s video via ESPN:

Solomon is also strongly considering Alabama and Georgia in addition to Michigan, but something says neither Nick Saban or Kirby Smart will be heading to the race track with the big defensive tackle on their visit. You have to love recruiting either way.