West Virginia vs. Syracuse
Sat., Dec. 29 – 3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Bronx, N.Y. – Yankee Stadium
With all the wacky conference realignment continuing to go on across the country, maybe this third-year baby bowl is on to something. Perhaps reuniting rivals that don’t have time for each other anymore will be the wave of the future, replacing the rigid, yet random business of having lame conference tie ins.
This will be the 60th time that the Mountaineers and Orange collide, but this time its for the Steinbrenner Trophy instead of the Schwartzwalder Trophy. And who knows when it will happen again.
West Virginia (7-5) shouldn’t have any trouble getting up for this game. Most of the Mounties were around last year to experience the embarrassing 49-23 loss to the Orange, and all of them are looking to further distance themselves from the five-game losing streak that short-circuited this campaign.
Syracuse (7-5), which played in the first football game ever played at the original Yankee Stadium in 1923, will be trying to keep a lid on West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who returned to his early-season form in the 59-10 victory over Kansas, completing 23-of-24 for 407 yards and three touchdowns.
The Big East co-champion Orange have a dangerous quarterback of their own in senior Ryan Nassib, who has thrown for 3,619 yards and 24 scores this season.
This will be high-flying shootout and everyone knows you can’t trust the Mountaineer defense in one of those.
Opening point spread: West Virginia by 3 1/2
The pick: Syracuse 42-38
Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.
Staff changes are nearly complete around college football but it appears there is still one hire left to make for Oklahoma State.
According to a report from the Tulsa World, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy is expected to bring on former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder as the team’s new defensive analyst.
VanGorder was fired by the Irish last season after a 1-3 start that saw numerous issues on the defensive side of the ball. He later took a defensive analyst spot at Georgia toward the end of the 2016 campaign but apparently was looking for something else this year and ended up in Stillwater.
The move to bring on the coaching veteran gives Gundy and Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer a wealth of knowledge on staff for that side of the ball as former OSU defensive coordinator Bill Clay is also a defensive analyst on the staff.
Prior to going to South Bend, VanGorder was a DC at Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina. He also served as head coach of Georgia Southern for one season and made several NFL coaching stops along the way as well but this will be his first gig with a Big 12 program.
Those stories about former head coach Tommy Tuberville making a run at becoming governor of the great state of Alabama appear to have some legs.
The ex-Auburn head man and longtime college football head coach talked to WNSP 105.5 FM (in Mobile, Ala.) about potentially mounting a political campaign on Friday and he didn’t exactly shy away from the fact that he was considering entering the fray.
“I’ve been there done that for many many years in college football,” Tuberville told the hosts when asked if he’d rather be governor or a head coach again. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. Talking about this governor thing, I’m kind of testing the wind. But probably be governor, in this time of life. I want to do a little something different and I think I can make a difference if I do decide to run.”
Tuberville added that he is doing some polling on the matter prior to formally beginning any sort of campaign process in order to see how he could potentially do in the race for governor.
The 62-year-old didn’t rule out a return to coaching, joining a TV network or even becoming an athletic director either but it sounds like he has a few political aspirations in mind. Tuberville certainly knows the state well having been at Auburn from 1999-2008 as head coach and leading the team to an undefeated season in 2004. While the fact that he wore plenty of orange back in the day and won six straight Iron Bowls might dissuade certain Alabama fans from voting for him, it appears that the old coach is already laying the ground work for recruiting a few Crimson Tide to his side down the road.
“If you end up running, trying to be the governor, it’s about one big team: The whole state of Alabama,” he said. “When I was at Auburn, I faced quite a few Alabama coaches. You do something on the scale of governorship, you have to have all your friends. I know as many Alabama folks as I do Auburn folks.”
It seems Tuberville is already getting a little political when it comes to appeasing both sides of the aisle in the state of Alabama — and we’re not referring to Republicans and Democrats either.
There is always a certain rhythm to college football and as sure as the sun rises in the East, the offseason after a good year will result in a handful of raises for various coaches.
Such is apparently the case at Wisconsin this week, as documents provided by the school to the Wisconsin State Journal show head coach Paul Chyrst has received a hefty half million bump in salary this year.
Chryst is coming off a terrific year with the Badgers after guiding them to a surprise Big Ten West title and victory in the Cotton Bowl over previously undefeated Western Michigan. He is now set to earn roughly $3.2 million in 2017 and then see annual raises of $100,000 each year until the end of his contract. The head coach and former Wisconsin player was recently extended by the school through 2022.
That’s not the only raise handed out either, as offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph also received a bump of $80,000 this year to bring his salary to $650,000 in 2017 and 2018.
Despite the pay increases, the two Badgers coaches are still well behind most of their peers at the Power Five level and in the Big Ten especially. At Michigan alone, for comparison’s sake, head coach Jim Harbaugh makes around $9 million a season and pays three different assistants seven figures as well.
Two football staffers at Georgia received a nice raise this offseason, according to documents obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to the AJC’s Seth Emerson, Bulldogs running backs coach Dell McGee took home a pay bum of $75,000 recently to put his total compensation at $350,000 per year. 2017 will be his second season with the team under head coach Kirby Smart and is probably worth it alone given the role McGee no doubt had in convincing star tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sonny Michel to return to school this season.
That’s not the only staff member to get a nice raise however as the program’s strength and conditioning coordinator, Scott Sinclair, received an even larger raise of $80,000, according to the same report. He now makes a whopping $300,000 a year.
While you might think the six-figure raises for two staff members is a tad excessive, even for an SEC program, Georgia is saving $125,000 on the base salary of new defensive line coach Tray Scott compared to his predecessor. Given how important McGee and Sinclair will be for one of the SEC East favorites this year, it is probably money well spent for Smart and the administration.