BYU v Texas

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 13 Texas

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2011 record: 8-5 overall, 4-5 in Big 12 (6th-tie)

2011 postseason: Holiday Bowl (21-10 win over California)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: unranked/unranked

Head coach: Mack Brown (227-113-1 overall, 141-39 in 14 seasons at Texas)

Offensive coordinator: Major Applewhite (fourth season at Texas, second as co-OC); Bryan Harsin (second season at UT, second as co-OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 21st rushing offense (202.6 ypg); 86th passing offense (189.9 ypg); 54th total offense (392.5 ypg); 55th scoring offense (28.1 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: 10

Defensive coordinator: Manny Diaz (second season at Texas, second as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 6th rushing defense (96.2 ypg); 42nd passing defense (209.8 ypg); 11th total defense (306.8 ypg); 33rd scoring defense (22.2 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: seven

Location: Austin, Texas

Stadium:  Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 2009

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
The Longhorns certainly couldn’t be any worse than they have been the past two seasons, right?  Coming off a stretch in which it won 10-plus games for nine straight seasons, Texas proceeded to win just 13 games total in 2010 and 2011 — the same number they had during their title-winning 2005 season.  With a total of 17 returning starters — tied for 20th in the country according to the esteemed Phil Steele — from a team that “rebounded” with an eight-win season in 2011, it appears the ‘Horns are ready to emerge from its inexplicable two-year sabbatical from meaningful football.

The Bad
A four-game stretch of the schedule beginning in late September that features road games against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, and home contests with West Virginia and Baylor, combined to go with uncertainty (still) at quarterback to go along with a defense that’s ill-equipped to withstand attrition in any form.  In other words, yes, this ranking could very well — hell, may very well — be such a stretch that I’m pulling a muscle/muscles as I type this.

The Unknown
The quarterback position, of course.  After seven straight seasons of Vince Young/Colt McCoy under center, the Longhorns the past two seasons have had, well, the exact opposite at the position.  And, no, it’s no coincidence the worst two-year stretch under Brown coincides with abysmal play at quarterback.  David Ash, who rotated in and out of the starting lineup with Colt McCoy’s brother Case last season, showed flashes that he could be the guy, although not enough for Brown to name him the starter entering camp.  If either Ash or McCoy can emerge as even an average player at the position, the Longhorns are positioned defensively and with the running game to get back to Texas normalcy record-wise.  That’s a huge, huge if, however.

Make-or-break game: vs. Oklahoma at Dallas, Oct. 6
While the preceding two games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia were tempting to slot here, the annual (warning: political incorrectness ahead!!!) Red River Shootout warrants the spot.  With the Sooners once again expected to be at or near the head of the class in the Big 12, the annual rivalry game will serve as a very solid midseason litmus test of where the Longhorns stand in the conference — and how far they may still have to go to get back to where they were just a couple of years ago.

Heisman hopeful: running back Malcolm Brown
If we have to put anyone here for Texas, it has to be the talented sophomore.  As a true freshman last season, Brown led the Longhorns in both rushing yards (742) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.  It’s a stretch to put Brown in the Heisman mix in the first place; add in incoming freshman Jonathan Gray and the return of Joe Bergeron (2nd in rushing with 463 yards) and it morphs into merely a pipe dream as there may simply not be enough carries for Brown, as talented as he is, to shine on a stage as bright as the Heisman.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

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Local Auburn man arrested after setting Toomer’s Corner oak tree on fire

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10: Fans of the Auburn Tigers roll trees at Toomer's Corner after defeating the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves 51-14.(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.

Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.

The Auburn city police department, in a release obtained by USA Today, stated that “witnesses at Toomer’s Corner identified a suspect, who was immediately detained and taken into custody by police on an unrelated charge of public intoxication.” Several reports identified the suspect as Jochen Wiest.

Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.

“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keever said in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”

The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.

Notre Dame officially parts ways with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

FILE - In an Aug. 29, 2014 file photo, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, right, talks with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder during practice during media day for a NCAA football team in South Bend, Ind. It was announced Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder following a 1-3 start. The school tweeted a new release saying VanGorder is being replaced by defensive analyst Greg Hudson.(AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
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Notre Dame has officially parted ways with embattled defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

“This is a difficult decision,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.”

Notre Dame has allowed 134 points through their first four games and are just 1-3 after extremely high preseason expectations. This was VanGorder’s third season in South Bend but the Irish have regressed significantly and ranked 101st in FBS scoring defense after Saturday’s home loss to Duke.

Defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who has served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, was elevated to fill VanGorder’s role.

“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense,” Kelly added. “As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”

The move to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball isn’t exactly surprising to Irish fans who have seen the team play this year but the timing is notable. Kelly remarked that the coaching was not the problem on defense after the loss to the Blue Devils but still opted to make a change on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if a very young defense will respond, and perhaps even rally, now that a big message has been sent.

Notre Dame plays Syracuse on Saturday at noon ET.

Florida International fires head coach Ron Turner after 10-30 run

HADLEY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Ron Turner of the FIU Golden Panthers looks on during the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hadley, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The firing season in college football is getting started earlier and earlier. Just ask Ron Turner.

The Florida International head coach was fired early Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising aside from its timing.

“I want to thank Coach Turner for his contributions to the FIU football program, most importantly his commitment to academics and community service,” athletic director Pete Garcia said in a short statement. “At this time Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper has been named interim head coach.”

Turner went 10-30 over four years at the school but was 0-4 to begin the season after a 53-14 loss to Central Florida last week. While he is far from the first coach fired in 2016, Turner did become the first head coach to be fired after the season got underway.

Cooper had a 45–55 record in nine seasons as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. He was elevated to FIU’s defensive coordinator prior to the season and notably served as LSU’s defensive backs coach when Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu starred in Baton Rouge.

The Panthers are set to play local rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

LSU head coach Les Miles, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron fired

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers looks on during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Mad Hatter is looking for a new gig.

LSU has fired head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the school announced on Sunday. The news was first reported by the Baton Rouge Advocate.

“Decisions like this are never easy ones to make,” athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement. “Coach Miles has done a tremendous job here and he’s been a great ambassador for our University, which makes this even more difficult.

“However, it’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made. Our commitment to excellence and competing at the highest level is unwavering, and our goals for the remainder of this season haven’t changed. We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field each week and we have great confidence that coach Orgeron will do just that.”

The move comes just hours after the Tigers lost to Auburn in the final seconds to drop to 2-2 after beginning the year as a trendy national championship pick and top five team in the polls.

Miles has been in Baton Rouge since 2005 and posted a 114–34 record at the school, including a national title in 2007 and a pair of SEC championships. He was nearly let go after the 2015 season but was retained following a huge wave of public support and potential implications with a large buyout.

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was named the interim head coach for the rest of the season. Former LSU quarterback and current tight ends coach Steve Ensminger is slated to become the new offensive coordinator, according to Fox Sports.