Holtz out as USF’s coach

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As expected, the number of coaches hitting the unemployment line has grown by one Sunday.

The latest to add “ex” to his title is Skip Holtz, with South Florida announcing this afternoon that the son of Lou has been dismissed.  Speculation had been growing in recent weeks that Holtz’s future with the Bulls was tenuous at best, with the din reaching a crescendo after USF had put the finishing touches on the worst year in the program’s history Saturday.

Athletic director Doug Woolard labeled the decision “very difficult” is a statement released by the school.

“During his three seasons as our head coach, Skip has served the university and the football program admirably,” Woolard said. “Our team has excelled in the classroom, setting a new USF standard for team GPA.  Our APR scores are up as well.  Skip’s hard work in stressing the academic side of student life has been critical in that progress.  He has worked tirelessly, helping to mold our football players into outstanding young men.  His community work, his representation of USF, and his work ethic have all been exemplary.  It is not easy to part ways with such a good man. I am thankful for his friendship, and for what he has done for USF Athletics.”

Holtz parlayed 18 wins in his last two seasons at East Carolina into the job at South Florida.  Unfortunately for the coach, his best year was his first, winning eight games in 2010.  It was all downhill from there for the Bulls, with, after five wins last season, Holtz’s tenure bottomed out in a three win season this year.

The Bulls have won just two Big East games total the past two seasons, and just three of their past 19 games against FBS-level teams.

“I want to thank my assistant coaches, staff, the players and their families for their dedication and loyalty,” Holtz said in his statement. “I’m extremely proud of how they fought through adversity during this time. Throughout my time here, the young men on this team never gave up, and that reflects on their character as individuals and as a team. I believe we made some positive strides, most notably in our academics, that were helping to build a foundation for this program and I would have liked the opportunity to see it through.

“But, I understand the administration’s decision and wish them nothing but success in the future. I’m grateful to the University of South Florida, President Genshaft and Doug Woolard for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this fine institution.”

In a fit of irony, Holtz left ECU for USF in part to climb to a school that was a member of a BCS conference.  Less than a week ago, ECU announced it was leaving Conference USA for… the Big East, the Bulls’ current conference home.

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.