Bielema tabs Vols’ Chaney as Hogs’ OC


One of the more vocal criticisms of Arkansas’ stunning hiring of Bret Bielema as its new head coach was the former Wisconsin’s utter lack of “familiarity” with the SEC.

When it comes to his latest significant hire, Bielema has landed someone with some very recent and potentially valuable experience in the conference.

Arkansas announced late Wednesday night that Bielema has hired Jim Chaney to be the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator.  Chaney has spent the past four years at Tennessee, and was available after UT fired Derek Dooley and hired Butch Jones away from Cincinnati.

In addition to his coordinating duties, Chaney will also serve as quarterbacks coach.  He held that position with the Vols as well, helping to turn Tyler Bray into one of the most productive quarterbacks in the conference.

It was another QB during Chaney’s time in the Big Ten, though, that Bielema chose to single out in his statement on the hiring.

“Jim Chaney’s approach will blend well with my ideas as we work to put together a plan for the team we have and over time develop our specific philosophy,” said Bielema. “While he was at Purdue, several of the best coaches in the nation sought his advice on how to use the spread offense. Jim went on to spend a few years in the NFL and gained a new appreciation for a pro-style offense similar to the balanced attack we will look to incorporate at Arkansas.

“He has spent his career developing numerous players for the NFL including Drew Brees. He knows the SEC, having coached at Tennessee, and is familiar with what it takes to be successful in this conference. He is an upbeat and positive person who has proven at every stop he is an elite coach in our profession.”

Chaney was at Purdue from 1997-2005, serving as the Boilermakers’ offensive coordinator.  During that time… well… we’ll allow the release to spell it out:

While at Purdue, Chaney tutored quarterback Drew Brees, who was drafted in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and was named Super Bowl XLIV MVP and the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009. Brees led the NCAA in total offense in 2000, averaging 349.1 yards per game, and won the Maxwell Award.

In  between his time at Purdue and Tennessee, Chaney served as the offensive line coach (2006-07) and tight ends coach (2008) for the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

Chaney is the second announced hiring Bielema has made since becoming UA’s head coach, joining Chris Ash.  It was announced yesterday that Ash would be the Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator after holding the same position for Bielema at UW.

Brother of five-star recruit walking on at Florida

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Surely this is all a coincidence and not at all a way to gain a recruiting advantage, but junior college linebacker Umstead Sanders will join the Florida Gators as a walk-on player this year. The Gators do have a need to boost the depth at linebacker, so the addition of a junior college player is a quick and easy fix to address that concern, but there is a little more to the story here. Sanders is also the older brother of Trey Sanders, a five-star running back in the Class of 2019 from Bradenton, Florida.

Umstead Sanders announced he will be joining the Florida program with a message on Twitter over the weekend. He will do so as a preferred walk-on, which will likely lead to him landing a scholarship later this year. Sanders is expected to enroll at Florida this summer, so he is not around for spring football practices already underway in Gainesville. While the addition of a 6′-2″ 240-lb linebacker is nice, the whole thing smells like a package deal pitch to lure Sanders’ younger brother into the program down the line.

Package deal commitments and recruiting strategies have long been a part of the game, so this would hardly be anything new if there is a wink and nod to the recruiting efforts going on at Florida. There are no recruiting rules that could prevent Florida from offering a scholarship to a junior college player with the hope of landing his brother in the next recruiting cycle. Other schools have gone so far as to hire the fathers of certain recruits to hopefully gain an advantage, and making sales pitches to high school teammates and family members with scholarships involved has been a trendy technique some schools have put to good use.

Dan Mullen certainly knows what it takes to revamp the Florida program, and taking advantage of all the recruiting angles he can is fair game.

Louisville and UCF line up future home-and-home series

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Former conference foes will be getting together for a reunion of sorts in 2021 and 2022. Louisville and UCF have agreed to a home-and-home series in those years.

Louisville will host UCF on Sept. 18, 2021. The Knights will host the Cardinals in the second game of the home-and-home scheduling agreement the following season on Sept. 17, 2022.

Louisville and UCF have met just once before, and it came as conference foes back in 2013. Blake Bortles and the Knights pulled an upset on the road against Charlie Strong and Teddy Bridgewater, 38-35, which gave the Knights the path to an American Athletic Conference championship in the first season of the conference’s existence. UCF went on to beat Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and Louisville ended the year with a Sugar Bowl smackdown of the Florida Gators. After one year as conference foes, Louisville left the AAC to join the ACC and the two schools have not crossed paths since.

The addition of the UCF series will nearly complete Louisville’s nonconference schedule in both seasons with just one vacancy to fill each of those years. Louisville will open the 2021 season in Atlanta against Ole Miss. The Cardinals also continue their regular season rivalry with Kentucky of the SEC in each season. Louisville will also play South Florida in the 2022 season.

Despite the argument from the AAC that it is a power conference, the scheduling of UCF does not satisfy the ACC’s power conference scheduling requirement for its members unless an exception is made. Of course, Louisville playing Kentucky annually meets that requirement.

The addition of Louisville in 2021 and 2022 will ensure UCF will face at least one power conference opponent on an annual basis through 2025 as the future schedules currently show. UCF will play North Carolina and Pittsburgh this upcoming season, Stanford and Pittsburgh in 2019, North Carolina and Georgia Tech in 2020, Texas in 2023, and North Carolina in 2024 and 2025.

Transferring Michigan WR Maurice Ways lands at Cal

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Nearly four months after leaving Ann Arbor, Maurice Ways is set to settle in on the West Coast for the next step in his collegiate playing career.

On his Instagram account Sunday, Ways announced that he has decided to transfer to Cal.  On November 29 of last year, the wide receiver took to the same social media website to announce his transfer from the Michigan football program.

As a graduate transfer, Ways will be eligible to play for the Bears in 2018.  The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

A three-star member of the Wolverines’ 2014 recruiting class, Ways was rated as the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Michigan.

In 25 career games, the former Detroit Country Day high schooler caught eight passes for 71 yards.  Ways started two of those contests, with both of those starts coming during his redshirt freshman season in 2015.

Central Michigan adds former Oregon State interim coach Cory Hall to staff

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After coaching the second half of the season for Oregon State in 2017, Cory Hall is now making his way to the MAC. Hall has officially been added to the Central Michigan coaching staff, where he will serve as the team’s secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator.

“We brought Cory in, and he made a presentation to the defensive coaching staff,” CMU head coach John Bonamego said in a released statement. “(Defensive coordinator) Greg Colby and the rest of us were impressed with his preparation and what he had to say. “There is no doubt he is a high-energy coach, and he’s a great fit for our program.”

Hall was named the interim head coach at Oregon State midway through the 2017 season following the removal of Gary Andersen. According to The Oregonian, Hall did not interview with new Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith to remain a part of the Beavers coaching staff in 2018.