Which is hard to do if you’re Karl Benson, the former WAC commissioner who saw the Mountain West pick apart his conference over the course of the past couple of years of realignment. With the news yesterday that FAU and Middle Tennessee would be leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA — that was made official today in a release — well, it’s been tough sledding for Benson as of late.
Yet Benson claims to be ‘very optimistic’ about the future of the Sun Belt in a statement released Thursday regarding the departures of FAU and MTSU:
“While I am disappointed that Middle Tennessee State University and Florida Atlantic University have elected to depart the Sun Belt Conference, the SBC is still very well positioned for the future and I remain very optimistic that the momentum that has been created in the past six months will continue to grow. The continuing 10 members of the SBC are committed to excellence and I am confident that the SBC will take advantage of these latest changes in the landscape. As I have stated many times in the past six months, the SBC will be a major player in the future, especially within its geographic footprint.
As for future members, there are several outstanding universities that have indicated interest in joining the SBC. While we have conducted research on these universities in the past six months, we will now focus on identifying the ones that will be the best “fit” for the conference and the ones that will contribute immediately in achieving our goal of being the best of the FBS conferences that currently do not receive automatic qualification into the BCS.
The future is still very BRIGHT for the SBC and I look forward to working with the leadership of the SBC in the coming days, weeks and months to continue the growth and development of this outstanding athletic conference.”
FAU and MTSU are the third and fourth departures from the Sun Belt to C-USA, joining North Texas and FIU. Those teams will be replaced by the trio of Georgia State, Texas State and UT-Arlington next season. Idaho and New Mexico State, formerly of the WAC, and Georgia Southern are also possible additions to the Sun Belt.
All four-star 2018 recruits are officially accounted for.
After the first-ever Early Signing Period in December and the annual National Signing Day earlier this month, just one of 347 four-star recruits remained unsigned by FBS programs. That one, Tyrone Sampson Jr. of Detroit, had reportedly zeroed in on Arizona State, Mississippi State and Nebraska as likely destinations but, instead of signing on the first Wednesday of February, opted instead to continue studying his options as schools such as Illinois, Missouri and West Virginia had entered the picture.
In the end, however, it appears that the one-time Syracuse commit will at least begin his collegiate playing career not at a Power Five program but rather at a Mountain West Conference school according to the offensive lineman as well as his new football coach.
That commitment came shortly after Sampson visited the Bulldogs’ campus.
Sampson was rated as the No. 7 center in the country and the No. 346 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He had been committed to Syracuse for more than eight months before decommitting in December.
Easily the highest-rated member of Jeff Tedford‘s second recruiting class, Sampson is the first four-star recruit signed by the football program since 2015 (wide receiver L.J. Reed) and just the fourth such prospect in the school’s history, joining quarterback Derek Carr (2009) and offensive tackle James Paulk (2005).
Earlier this month, Randy Edsall lost one of his assistant coaches to the NFL. This week, he’s turned to one from the FCS ranks as a replacement.
UConn announced Monday the hiring of Eddie Allen as the Huskies’ new special teams coordinator. Allen comes to Storrs after spending the past three seasons in the same role at Delaware.
The hire fills a hole a created by the departure of Chris White, who has been named as the tight ends coach for the Detroit Lions.
“Eddie’s aggressive approach to special teams was exactly what I was looking for in our special teams coordinator,” a statement from the head coach began. “His teams have shown the ability to block kicks and be very fundamentally sound in the core four units involving special teams. He has delivered very good results as a special teams coordinator in all the places he has worked.”
Prior to Delaware, Allen spent six seasons as the special teams coordinator at Rhode Island. He was a football staffer for Greg Schiano at Rutgers (2005-07) before that.
This will mark Allen’s first on-field job at the FBS level.
“I am extremely excited to join Coach Edsall’s staff,” the New Jersey native said in his statement. “Being from the Northeast, I have followed the program closely through the years and I am looking forward to getting around our players and doing my part in the future of success of the program.”
And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.
Just a short time ago, Miami announced that defensive line Craig Kuligowski was leaving the football program after two years to pursue unspecified opportunities elsewhere. Subsequent to that announcement, Bruce Feldman of SI.com tweeted that Nick Saban and Tuscaloosa could be the assistant’s ultimate destination.
Kuligowski and Saban have a previous connection as the former played defensive line under the latter at Toledo in 1990. Saban is searching for a replacement to Karl Dunbar, the Crimson Tide’s defensive line coach who left for a job with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this month.
Other names floated as possibilities have included former FAU head coach Charlie Partridge and former UA assistant and current South Carolina line coach Lance Thompson.
At one point it appeared that Mark Richt had dodged a coaching-departure bullet. In the end, however, his Miami staff has been hit.
Reports surfaced earlier in the day Monday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had interviewed UM defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski for the same job. Not long after the initial speculation first appeared, the NFL club confirmed that it had hired someone other than Kuligowski for the position.
Tonight, however, the Hurricanes announced in a press release that Kuligowski “is leaving the program to pursue other opportunities.” What and where specifically that opportunity is wasn’t divulged by the football program.
Kuligowski had spent the past two seasons with the Hurricanes and is widely considered one of the top line coaches in the country.