Boise State survives ugly game over BYU

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Following last season’s Las Vegas Bowl, I opined that what former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore brought to the game of football — his intelligence, mostly — was going to be far more appreciated once he had moved on.

There was perhaps no better example of that loss in this young 2012 season than what happened Thursday night when No. 24 Boise State survived an ugly 7-6 win over BYU. It was bittersweet in a way. On one hand, it was the second time the Broncos have been held without an offensive touchdown this season (the other time being a 17-13 season-opening loss to No. 13 Michigan State). On the other, BSU defensive tackle Michael Atkinson intercepted a Riley Nelson pass and ran it 36 yards for a FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN!!! 

But Boise State’s offense, like BYU’s, was stagnant the entire evening. While each defense deserves credit there, it also goes to show just how much the Broncos lost on offense outside of Moore. Boise won the turnover battle 5-0 and could only convert one into points. There were mistakes all evening. Both teams had eight penalties for nearly identical yardage and neither had much success converting third downs. Boise’s kicking game is still lacking too. Broncos place kicker Michael Frisina missed a 33-yard field goal in the first quarter and never got another chance; Chris Petersen opted for five fourth-down attempts the rest of the game (of which he converted zero).

Incidentally, Boise won tonight’s game because BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall opted for the two-point conversion (which failed) after backup quarterback Taysom Hill ran in from the 4-yard line for a touchdown with under four minutes to play.

It was an overall defensive struggle, but the miscues were glaring. While trying to run down the clock, Broncos quarterback Joe Southwick snapped the ball on a second-and-10 with seven seconds still left on the play clock and completed a pass to Holden Huff, who went out-of-bounds. Boise got the first down on the play, and that about finished the game, but Petersen looked like he was going to lose his mind. Two plays later, Southwick called a timeout.

When the clock hit all zeroes, Petersen unhooked his headset and said one word that was recognizable by lip reading:

“Unbelievable.”

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.