The lengths some universities will go not to be left out of the changing college athletics landscape.
The latest round of shifting saw Maryland and Rutgers leave the ACC and Big East, respectively, for the Big Ten, with Big East member Louisville subsequently replacing the Terps as the ACC’s 14th team. But as ESPN.com reported late last month during the game of conference musical chairs, Cincinnati was also doing its darndest to break free from the Big East, which had already gone into acquisition “beast mode” — if you want to call it that — by completing its transformation into Conference USA.
Thanks to a little digging with some help from the Freedom of Information Act, the Cincinnati Enquirer was able to uncover UC’s campaign for ACC membership. That included reaching out to a notable alum and Ohio State coach, Urban Meyer, for assistance in making the pitch:
The email and other documents, obtained by The Enquirer through an Ohio Public Records Act request, also show that UC tried to enlist Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer, whose sister works at UC. Urban used to coach at Notre Dame, which has joined the ACC for sports other than football.
But Meyer eventually backed away from that request.
“While he is comfortable telling folks he cares deeply for UC and that he knows we are a great school, with great people and great leadership, he thinks his calls would feel contrived and that they would not have an impact,” wrote Gigi Escoe, a vice provost at UC and Meyer’s sister, to Babcock Nov. 27.
The connection is certainly there. In addition to being an alum, Meyer was also a former assistant at Notre Dame, now a full member of the ACC for all sports except football and hockey. But UC’s aggressive push, which included phone calls and brochures to every ACC member from UC president Santa Ono, fell short. The Cardinals moved to the ACC on Nov. 28.
Things were a little busy on the personnel front for Florida State Monday.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Derwin James and Nate Andrews were two of the 11 Seminole football players who received redshirts for the 2016 season. The twin safeties received their medical hardship waivers because of injuries, James a meniscus tear suffered in Week 2 that kept him out for the rest of the year and Andrews a torn pectoral that sidelined him for the last half of the season.
While the move would technically give James three more years of eligibility, the talented defensive back is widely expected to make himself available for the 2018 NFL draft. Andrews will be a fifth-year senior in his final year of eligibility.
As a true freshman in 2015, James’ 91 tackles were second only to Reggie Northrup’s 94. He was also second on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (4.5).
For that, he was named a consensus freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC. This offseason, he was named to the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award watch lists.
Andrews has started 22 games during his time with the Seminoles.
At the other end of the personnel spectrum is Ryan Hoefield, with TomahawkNation.com reporting that the offensive lineman has not only decided to leave FSU but leave the sport, period. According to the website, Hoefield will graduate this spring and take a job in the medical field.
Hoefield played in nine games the past three years, only one f which came in 2016 and likely hastened his departure from the Seminoles.
College football free agency continues unabated this morning, with Miami the latest to see its roster a little lighter than it once was.
The Hurricanes announced in a press release that Cedrick Wright is no longer a member of Mark Richt‘s program. No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.
“I talked to Cedrick and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” the head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
The departure marks the end of a brief but eventful career for the defensive back with the ‘Canes.
Wright was a three-star member of The U’s 2016 recruiting class who played in nine games as a true freshman. He was also suspended for the Week 12 game against North Carolina State because of unspecified violations of team rules, and missed the team’s bowl game as well because of academics.
Kevin Lempa‘s new destination hasn’t yet been announced — he interviewed for a Michigan analyst job earlier this month — but Hawaii’s defensive coordinator has already been replace.
Legi Suiaunoa was promoted to defensive coordinator a week and a half ago, and on Monday the Warriors announced Honolulu native Jacob Yoro as safeties coach.
“Jake is a guy that I was interested in even before I got the job here at Hawai’i,” head coach Nick Rolovich (pictured) said in a statement. “I always thought he’d be a good fit with our philosophy. He’s well respected on the West Coast, not only for his knowledge but also for the noise he’s made on the recruiting side of the game. I have great appreciation for grinders like Jake. We hope he adds to the trust of coaches and players in local recruiting. Local or not, though, Jake is a good ball coach.”
Yoro played at powerhouse Saint Louis High School before playing at Montana from 1998-01, then returned to the islands to coach in the Hawaii high school ranks. He left in 2009 to serve as linebackers coach at Montana Western, spent five seasons at Pacific University in Oregon and then coached the past two seasons as defensive backs coach at Cal Poly.
The Hawaii job represents Yoro’s first foray into FBS football.
“I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to join the UH football family. Coach Rolo and the rest of the staff have done a tremendous job of creating a culture that fosters greatness both on and off the field,” Yoro said.
He’ll have his work cut out for him immediately. Hawaii finished Rolovich’s first season ranked 118th nationally in pass efficiency defense, allowing 62.6 percent completions for 8.1 yards per attempt with 29 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 14 games.
The waters in Tuscaloosa are finally calm after Hurricane Lane’s departure.
As reported over the weekend, Alabama has officially named Brian Daboll its offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and announced former director of football operations Joe Pannunzio as its tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
Daboll kickstarted his career as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at Michigan State and arrives after serving the past two seasons as the New England Patriots’ tight ends coach. Pannunzio turned four years as Saban’s DFO into two years as the Philadelphia Eagles’ director of personnel operations.
“I am honored to have the chance to return to the college game and work for Coach Saban at Alabama,” Daboll said. “He basically gave me my start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Michigan State in the late 1990s and has always been a very important influence on my coaching career. It is a tremendous opportunity to work at an institution such as Alabama with its rich tradition and history of sustained success, and I’m very excited to get started.”
“I am excited to have the chance to return to The University of Alabama and once again work for Coach Saban,” Pannunzio said. “I have always loved working with the special teams and tight ends and the chance to do it for the best coach and the best program in college football is a very special opportunity. My family and I love Tuscaloosa, and I can’t wait to get back out on the field coaching.”
Daboll fills the hole left by Steve Sarkisian, who filled the hole left by Lane Kiffin. Pannunzio fills the vacancy created when wide receivers coach Billy Napier left to become the offensive coordinator at Arizona State. Alabama also lost offensive line coach Mario Cristobal to a co-offensive coordinator role at Oregon.
With the dual hirings, co-offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will coach wide receivers, Burton Burns will focus solely on running backs and Brent Key will oversee the entire offensive line.