Chris Del Conte

TCU AD: ‘schools like FSU, Clemson, Miami trying to get in’ Big 12


Ever since the chairman of Florida State’s Board of Trustees very loudly and openly acknowledged an interest in listening to overtures from the Big 12, officials from that conference, from new commissioner Bob Bowlsby to de facto commissioner DeLoss Dodds, have attempted to, at least publicly, shove the expansion toothpaste back into the tube.

Leave it to the new kid on the conference block to make all of that public posturing moot.

By way of the esteemed Chris Level of 104.3 FM in Lubbock, and appearing at breakfast in that city Wednesday morning, TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte, whose school will not become an official member of the Big 12 until July 1, confirmed that the Big 12 had received interest from several schools.  Specifically, Del Conte mentioned current ACC members Florida State, Clemson and Miami as schools “trying to get in” the Big 12.

Del Conte subsequently attempted to clarify his remarks, claiming in a comment to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he “was referring to [the] rumor mill, not confirming schools’ interest in [the] Big 12.”

Regardless of what the AD “meant”, this is not exactly new news as all three of those schools have been speculated on as possibilities if/when the Big 12 expands over the past month.  Conte, though, is the first official from a current/future Big 12 member we’re aware of to publicly and specifically confirm it, regardless of how the words are finessed after the fact.

Conte’s inclusion of FSU in even exploratory talks with the Big 12 directly contradicts what the Tallahassee school’s president, Texas’ athletic director and the Big 12’s commissioner have stated in the past couple of weeks, that there have been no talks between conference officials and that school “that they’re aware of” winkwink nudgenudge.

While Conte was the initial spiller of the beans, so to speak, he’s not exactly in favor of expansion taking place — right now.

“From my standpoint of right now, I want to say ‘let’s take [a] breath‘,” Del Conte, by way of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, said during a radio interview earlier today. “We are in a position of strength. Let’s not rush into anything. We know expansion has to happen. It may not be for a while. We are in the catbird seat right now. We don’t need to rush it. You are excited all of these teams want into the Big 12 and two years ago it was going to disintegrate.”

The fact that there have been discussions with other schools regarding potential membership is far from an earth-shattering development.  The fact that an official connected to the conference, though, is comfortable enough to broach the subject in public — and after denials of discussions have come from other, more senior league officials — could very well mean this expansion “thing” has more, stronger legs than some would’ve ever believed.

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.