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Auburn swipes long-time UGA assistant

Rodney Garner Getty Images

For 14 years and 11 months, Rodney Garner had been a member of the Georgia coaching staff.  Somewhat stunningly, that run has ended less than a month shy of its 15th anniversary — and ended by a school in UGA’s conference, no less.

With a “Welcome Home, Coach Rodney Garner” tweet late Thursday night, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs confirmed that the longtime Bulldogs assistant has been hired as the latest addition to Gus Malzahn‘s first coaching staff.  The school subsequently sent out a release making Garner’s hiring as assistant head coach/defensive line coach officially official.

“We are excited to announce Rodney Garner as our assistant head coach and defensive line coach,” Malzahn said in a statement. “Rodney is one of the top defensive line coaches in college football who has had great success in the Southeastern Conference. It is great to welcome an Auburn man back home.”

Garner was a football player at Auburn from 1984-1988 and served as an assistant at his alma mater from 1993-95.  He was hired by then-UGA head coach in January of 1998 as DL coach and recruiting coordinator.  “Assistant head coach” was added to Garner’s title in 2005.

“Auburn has always been a very special place for me and my wife, Kimberly, who is also an Auburn graduate,” Garner said. “I owe a lot to Auburn and the men who helped mold me to who I am today both professionally and personally. I’m very appreciative to Coach Malzahn for this opportunity and I feel very strongly that I can be an asset to the program. I have a lot of love for Auburn and I felt this was a great chance to help give back to a place that has given me so much. I look forward to helping get Auburn back to where it belongs.”

As noted by Gentry Estes of 247Sports.com, this is the first assistant coaching vacancy for Mark Richt since February of 2011.

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Average cost of a national title game ticket? Nearly $1,700

American Money

We still don’t know yet who will square off in the College Football Playoff championship game.  What we do know is, if you want a ticket, it’ll cost you.  Plenty.

According to a report from The Oregonian, and based on prices available at Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket marketplace, the average price of a ticket for the Jan. 12 title game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas is $1,681. For the penny-pinchers in the crowd, the cheapest ticket to that game is $540 at the moment.

For comparison’s sake, the average price of a ticket for the final BCS title game, pitting Florida State against Auburn, was $1,907 based on a report from Forbes.com via Vivid Seats last Dec. 17. The cheapest ticket for that game at that time could hardly be labeled as cheap, with an end zone seat in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena setting you back $1,245.

Three weeks later, there, there were reports that the average ticket price for the BCS finale had dropped to $374 on the secondary ticket market, although that data was through TiqIQ.

As for the two CFP semifinal games that will be played New Year’s Day, the average price for a ticket to the Sugar Bowl (Alabama vs. Ohio State) comes in at $501, while the average for a ducat to the Rose Bowl (Oregon vs. Florida State) is $376.

TiqIQ reports that Sugar Bowl prices are 55.3% higher than for the 2014 game (Oklahoma vs. Alabama), while the Rose Bowl is down 33.3% compared to last season’s game (Michigan State vs, Stanford).

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BYU DB Dallin Leavitt transfers to Utah State

Houston v BYU Getty Images

Dallin Leavitt has decided to leave BYU but, as it turns out, he won’t have to leave the state.

Earlier this month it was reported that Leavitt would be transferring out of the BYU football program to an undetermined new location. Wednesday that new location was officially determined as both the player and his new head coach revealed via Twitter that he will continue his collegiate playing career at rival Utah State.

According to the Deseret News, Leavitt visited Logan last weekend before pulling the trigger on a transfer to USU.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Leavitt will be forced to sit out the 2015 season. Beginning in 2016, Leavitt will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Leavitt contributed immediately as a true freshman in 2013, playing in all 13 games with one start. In 2014, he played in 11 of 12 regular season games, and is currently fifth in tackles with 43. His 3.5 tackles for loss this season are second among defensive backs.

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Gary Patterson lays claim to Walter Camp Coach of the Year award

Gary Patterson AP

Since missing out on a spot in the College Football Playoff, it’s been a pretty good last couple of weeks or so for Gary Patterson.  In that span, Patterson was named the Associated Press, Big 12 and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year and, a day after the latter award, it was reported that he had reached an agreement with TCU on a new contract.

Two days after that, Patterson is being lauded for his Horned Frogs’ 2014 turnaround yet again.

Late Thursday morning, the Walter Camp Foundation announced that Patterson has been named as its 2014 Coach of the Year.  It’s the second time (2009) Patterson has claimed the Camp coaching honor, joining Penn State’s Joe Paterno (1972, 1994 and 2005) and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (2000 and 2003) as the only multiple winners in the 48-year history of the award.

Last season, TCU went 4-8. This season, the Horned Frogs went 11-1 in claiming a Big 12 title and a berth in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Ole Miss.

Duke’s David Cutcliffe was the 2013 winner of the Camp Coach of the Year award.

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Report: Gator LT D.J. Humphries leaving early for NFL

Florida v LSU

Since the 2014 season ended, Florida learned that it will be losing defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and running back Matt Jones to the NFL. Based on one report, new head coach Jim McElwain has lost another.

Citing a source familiar with the situation, the Gainesville Sun is reporting that D.J. Humphries will forego his remaining eligibility and make himself available for the 2015 NFL draft. The offensive lineman had previously confirmed that he would be seeking feedback from the NFL’s draft advisory board.

While Humphries, either through the media or social media, has not publicly declared his intentions for the 2015 season, one of his teammates took to Twitter to offer congratulations on the move.

Humphries was the highest-rated member of UF’s 2012 recruiting class, a five-star player rated as the No. 2 player at any position in the country.  Injuries, however, curtailed his impact on the Gators.

After earning SEC All-Freshman honors in 2012, Humphries played in just 17 of 24 games the past two seasons.  The lineman did, though, start 15 of those contests at left tackle.

UPDATED 10:40 a.m. ET: For what it’s worth, Humphries took to Twitter to deny that a decision has been made yet.

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Booted by UNC, Vic Koenning lands as DC at Troy

North Carolina v Virginia Tech

Monday, North Carolina officially announced that Vic Koenning won’t return in 2015, news that was reported nearly a week ago.  Two days later, the assistant coach officially landed a new job.

In a press release, Troy announced that Koenning has been hired as first-year head coach Neal Brown‘s defensive coordinator. The hiring represents a return home of sorts for Koenning, who spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons in the same role with the Trojans.

“I am excited about bringing Vic back home to Troy,” Brown said in a statement. “He built one of the best defenses in Troy history in 2004 and still has a lot of connections in this area. Vic has been a great recruiter in south Georgia for many years, and his numbers on the defensive side of the ball speak for themselves.

“Vic brings with him a great deal of experience as he has served not only as a defensive coordinator but also as a head coach. He had unprecedented success at Clemson and turned around the defenses at Kansas State and Illinois in a short period of time.”

Koenning had spent the past three seasons at UNC as associate head coach for defense. Prior to that, he had worked as either a coordinator or co-coordinator at Illinois (2010-11), Kansas State (2009), Clemson (2005-08) and Wyoming (2000-02) in addition to his first stint at Troy.

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Former Sooner WR Dannon Cavil finds new home at UTSA

Dannon Cavil

Dannon Cavil never realized his potential during a brief, unremarkable stay at Oklahoma. Now, the wide receiver will attempt to jumpstart his playing career in the state to the south.

Wednesday, UT-San Antonio announced that Cavil is one of four players — the other three being JUCO signees — who have been added to the football roster. Cavil will enroll at UTSA for the spring semester and will participate in spring practice.

Joining Cavil on the Roadrunners’ roster are linebacker La’Kel Bass, defensive tackle Jonathan Tuiolosega and running back Corbin White.

“We are excited to add these four players to our program and are looking forward to having them on campus next spring,” head coach Larry Coker said in a statement. “This group fills several needs for us and we expect them to compete for playing time immediately.”

Cavil was a three-star member of OU’s 2013 recruiting class coming out of high school in San Antonio, but never played a down for the Sooners. He announced in October that he would be transferring.

The receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2015, and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

(Photo credit: Oklahoma athletics)

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USF officially adds Ole Miss assistant as new DC

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A couple of days after it was reported that USF would look to an SEC football program to fill its vacancy at defensive coordinator, that move has come to fruition.

In a press release, USF announced that Tom Allen has been hired as the Bulls’ coordinator on the defensive side of the ball. Allen, who previously coached high school ball in the Tampa Bay area, comes to USF after a three-year stint as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Ole Miss.

Allen will begin his USF duties immediately, and will not be a part of Ole Miss’ prep work for the Peach Bowl matchup with TCU.

“I’m very excited to bring Tom Allen back to the Bay Area,” head coach Willie Taggart said in a statement. “Tom has been a part of a lot of winning during his coaching career, has helped guide some very aggressive and successful defenses, and has tremendous relationships in the Bay Area. We welcome Tom and his family to the Bulls’ family.”

Allen will replace Chuck Bresnahan, who, along with offensive coordinator Paul Wulff, was fired earlier this month.

(Photo credit: Ole Miss athletics)

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Nebraska uses Pelini’s heated comments to support decision to move on

Bo Pelini may be the head coach at Youngstown State now, but his final interaction with his previous players at Nebraska has certainly raised more than a few eyebrows. Pelini, rarely one to hold back his feelings, ripped into Nebraska Athletics Director Shawn Eichorst in a meeting with players held after he was relieved of his duties in Lincoln. He let loose, as the audio recording acquired by The Omaha World-Herald makes perfectly clear.

“A guy like (Eichorst) who has no integrity, he doesn’t even understand what a core value is,” Pelini told players, according to The Omaha World-Herald. “And he hasn’t understood it from the day he got here. I saw it when I first met with the guy.”

Pelini was just getting started.

“To have core values means you have to be about something, you have to represent something, you have to have something that is important to you,” Pelini added. “He is a f—— lawyer who makes policies. That’s all he’s done since he’s been here is hire people and make policies to cover his own ass.”

Pelini’s comments went on to become more vulgar and inappropriate for a family audience. Coaches are going to use some language you may not choose to use in front of children or your mother (you can listen to it here), but according to a follow-up statement from Nebraska this all put on display reasons why the university’s leadership felt it was time to move in a new direction.

Nebraska has not been able to officially confirm the recording is authentic or not, but a statement released following the original report expressed disappointment in Pelini’s choice of words and feelings and committed to the decision to remove him as head coach.

“If these comments were, indeed, spoken by Mr. Pelini, we are extremely disappointed, but it only reaffirms the decision that he should no longer be a leader of young men at Nebraska,” a statement from Nebraska reads.”His behavior is consistent with a pattern of unprofessional, disrespectful behavior directed by Mr. Pelini toward the passionate fans of Nebraska, employees of the university and, most concerning, our student-athletes. This behavior is not tolerated at the University of Nebraska and, among many other concerns, played a role in his dismissal.

Pelini’s tenure at Nebraska may be best known for the ability to win games but hitting a plateau without a conference championship. It will also be infamous for secret audio recordings that paint a negative picture getting out to the public.

But you can say this about Pelini. He’s an honest man and spits fire from his belly without hesitation. There is a certain level of respect that this trait may command.

Pelini now continues his head coaching career under a much dimmer spotlight at Youngstown State. Will comments like these prevent Pelini from returning to coach a program in the FBS again in the future? It is possible no AD will want to get mixed up with a hot head like Pelini, but he is a good coach and sometimes that is worth the risk. Just don’t upset him.

UPDATE (11:23 p.m.) - The Omaha World-Herald has released the full audio of Pelini’s meeting with Nebraska players. The audio does not come across nearly as hot-tempered as iniailyy suggested, but Pelini does not hold back in the state of Nebraska.

Listen to the audio here.

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Reports: WVU OC Shannon Dawson takes same job at Kentucky

Photo credit: West Virginia Athletics

West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is taking his coaching game to Kentucky. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Mountaineers will take on the role of offensive coordinator at Kentucky on the staff led by head coach Mark Stoops.

Football Scoop was among the first to report the coaching transition via Twitter. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports followed up with a similar report shortly after via Twitter.

Dawson will have a chance to take on an increased role on the coaching staff at Kentucky. Instead of taking the lead of head coach Dana Holgorsen, Dawson will look to take charge with the offensive playcalling for the more defensive-minded Stoops in Lexington.

Dawson will have quarterback Patrick Towles to work with, and that should be a promising combination for the Wildcats. West Virginia was one of the top offensive teams in the Big 12 in the few years Dawson was the offensive coordinator. This season West Virginia averaged just over 500 yards per game and 33.2 points per game.

Kentucky’s offense showed some improvement this season, but the Wildcats need to improve on a SEC-worst red zone touchdown percentage and a poor third-down conversion success rate.

Dawson will reportedly continue in his role as offensive coordinator for West Virginia’s bowl game before moving to Lexington for his new job.

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Michigan raises stakes and goes all in on Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes

At this point in the coaching carousel one thing seems to be pretty clear. Michigan is waiting for a certain someone to become available, and they are willing to wait for the moment to be just right.There may be no other way to explain how Michigan would part ways with Brady Hoke a few days after the end of the regular season (a delay that seemed to confuse more fans than it calmed), when it was widely suspected another down season would spell the end of Hoke’s time in Ann arbor as early as last season, if not September or October.

So here we are, more than two weeks after Hoke was relieved of his duties, and the one top target on the dream list of many Michigan fans is now, reportedly, has received an offer from the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, now has an offer valued at $8 million per year for six years according to Pro Football Talk. That is a lot of money. That is Nick Saban money, and then some.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network was one of the first to report news of the contract offer from Michigan to Harbaugh, via Twitter.

If these reports are accurate, Michigan is all in on the Harbaugh sweepstakes. At least Michigan is starting to show some signs of progress on the coaching search.

As Mike Florio writes on Pro Football Talk, if Michigan is willing to shell out that kind of money, the university is challenging other potential NFL opportunities to pony up to woo Harbaugh. Michigan certainly has the money, there is no doubt about that, although that seems like an awfully high amount of money to throw around. It suggests Michigan is both serious about luring Harbaugh back to school, and they are perhaps a little desperate to get this taken care of.

If Michigan does et Harbaugh at the price that is being reported, the Wolverines better hope it works out. And do not forget about the money being paid to a search firm for helping out with this process.

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Wisconsin makes hiring of Pitt’s Chryst officially official

Paul Chryst

The worst kept secret in this year’s coaching carousel is now out of the bag. Wisconsin has hired Paul Chryst, who had been the head coach at Pittsburgh. Wisconsin was expected to name Chryst the new head coach as soon as the vacancy opened up, but state law in Wisconsin prevented the school from extending any formal offers until Wednesday.

Chryst replaces Gary Andersen, who left Wisconsin for a lateral move to Oregon State after two years in Madison and one trip to the Big Ten championship game. Chryst may not have the accolades of a great coaching hire, he was .500 in his time at Pittsburgh, but there is much more to like about this coaching move at Wisconsin than the numbers would suggest.

Chryst is a Madison native, he played at Wisconsin for athletics director Barry Alvarez and he left Pittsburgh after a well-respected run as offensive coordinator under Bret Bielema. Now that he has a few years of head coaching experience under his belt, he arrives in Madison a more experienced option than he would have been immediately after Bielema left to coach Arkansas. His Wisconsin roots should play well with the fans and the Wisconsin program as well.

As for Pittsburgh, the search is now officially ongoing for its next head coach. Pittsburgh previously was reported to have reached out to former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. Whether Pittsburgh has any options out there that could come home in similar fashion as Chryst to Wisconsin remains to be seen, although it certainly would be nice to see Pittsburgh find its own stability at the position one of these years.

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Five-year old boy sent UAB his $1 allowance to try and help save UAB football

UAB FOOTBALL PROGRAM SHUT DOWN 12-2-14

When I was young I saved my allowance to buy baseball cards and Nintendo games. One five-year old in Ohio decided to spend his hard-earned allowance to try to save UAB football.

Bennett Williams, from Dublin, Ohio, is an Ohio State fan but adopted UAB as his second favorite team after thinking the logo for the Blazers was pretty cool. When word of UAB shutting down its football program made its way to the young boy, a will to do all he can to save the program led him to write a letter to the school, accompanied by his allowance money (one dollar). Every little bit helps, right?

The letter, as transcribed by Al.com, reads as follows;

“DEAR UAB. I LOVE OHIO STATE, BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE FOOTBALL, TOO. HERE IS ONE DOLLAR TO HELP! – BENNETT”

The letter did not go unread. UAB athletics department, Reid Adair, replied with thanks to Bennett for his letter and followed up by sending a nice little care package of UAB merchandise.

Bennett’s allowance may not have been enough to save the UAB football program, but it should do plenty to restore your faith in humanity.

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Neck condition ends career for Ohio State offensive tackle

Sometimes you just have to step away from football in order to ensure your own health and safety. Sometimes that decision is made for you by doctors. That is the case for Ohio Sate offensive tackle Kyle Dodson, who has been ruled medically ineligible to play for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State has announced that Dodson has a neck condition that will medically disqualify him from continuing to play football. Dodson was hoping to make a crack at the starting offensive line this season, but injury concerns took priority this season.

Dodson appeared in one game this season after backing up Jack Mewhort for the past two seasons. Dodson’s injury history started in high school with a back injury and shoulder surgery before arriving at Ohio State. The shoulder surgery held him back as a freshman once he arrived in Columbus. Unfortunately, that may have been a sign of things to come.

There is no word on whether or not Dodson will stick around with the team in some capacity, although in times and situations like these it is common to see players find some way to remain involved in some capacity. Here’s to hoping Dodson can remain a part of the Buckeyes program in some capacity, if he so desires.

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Key offensive Sooners should be ready for Russell Athletic Bowl

Samaje Perine

With the bowl season about the get started, Oklahoma is optimistic about the status of three key players on offense. Quarterback Trevor Knight, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard are all expected to be available to play for the Sooners when they face Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Head coach Bob Stoops provided the optimistic update of his three main offensive ingredients on Wednesday. Knight was cleared to play in the bowl game last week. That has been the plan for a while, since Knight was knocked out of a game against Baylor in early November. Knight has missed playing time due to a neck injury, but a return for the bowl game was always the goal. Nothing appears to have changed on that front, and that is good news for Oklahoma.

Perine has been working through a sprained ankle that was suffered in Oklahoma’s regular season finale loss to Oklahoma State. The star freshman running back led the Sooners with 1,579 rushing ards and 21 touchdowns this season.

Shepard is one of Oklahoma’s top wide receivers. He has been out of action since suffering a groin injury on November 1. Shepard leads Oklahoma with 957 receiving yards and five touchdowns despite the injury slowing him down at times.

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Former winners Swinney, Patterson two of 12 finalists for Dodd Trophy

David Cutcliffe, Bill Curry

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and TCU’s Gary Patterson claimed the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Trophy in 2011 and 2009, respectively.  In 2014, both coaches are up for the same honor yet again.

Tuesday evening, the Dodd Trophy released its list of 12 finalists for this season’s version of the trophy.  Five of the dozen finalists coach in the SEC, with the ACC and the Big 12, with two apiece, the only other conferences with more than one finalist.

Three of the four coaches whose teams earned a spot in the College Football Playoff made the cut: Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban.  The only playoff coach left out”  Oregon’s Mark Helfrich.

Of the 12 finalists, 11 hail from Power Five conferences.  The lone exception was Boise State’s Bryan Harsin.

Last year’s winner was Duke’s David Cutcliffe.  The winner of the 2014 Dodd Trophy will be announced in Atlanta during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl week.

2014 Dodd Trophy Finalists

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