Dan Roushar

Michigan State loses offensive coordinator to the NFL


It was reported Thursday that Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar was one of a handful of candidates for a job with the New Orleans Saints.

Two days after interviewing with the NFL club, Roushar is now officially the ex-Spartans OC.

In quotes distributed by the team, Roushar confirmed that he is leaving East Lansing for the running backs job with the Saints.  The move ends Roushar’s eight-year run on Mark Dantonio-led coaching staffs spanning two different programs.

Here’s Roushar’s statement, in its entirety:

“The New Orleans Saints and Michigan State are built on similar models, with a focus on character and people. New Orleans has won a Super Bowl, and over the last five years, the Saints have been one of the winningest organizations in the NFL. I’ve had an opportunity to work for Mark Dantonio – in my opinion, the best college football coach in America – for the last eight years, including the last six seasons at Michigan State. Now, I have an opportunity to work for arguably the best coach in the NFL, in Sean Payton. Professionally, this is an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up. Now as a running backs coach, I have the chance to learn the interworking of the NFL.

“Michigan State is poised to have a tremendous year in 2013. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have worked alongside Coach Dantonio, a talented coaching staff and gifted players. The last six years at Michigan State have been quite rewarding: six-straight bowl appearances, back-to-back 11-wins seasons including a Big Ten Championship and a Legends Division title, and four-straight victories over Michigan. It’s difficult to leave because it has been quite a ride, but professional opportunities like this are indeed rare. Coach Dantonio has built something special – it’s a program that pursues excellence in all aspects, not only on the field competing for championships, but also off the field in the classroom and in the community.”

Roushar has been with the Spartans since Dantonio came to East Lansing in 2007.  He was also on Dantonio’s Cincinnati staff the two years prior to that.  After serving as offensive line coach for his first four years at MSU, Roushar was promoted to coordinator when Don Treadwell left for the head coaching job at Miami of Ohio.

In 2012, following the departure of quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Spartans’ offense dropped from 37th in scoring in 2011 (31 points per game) to 108th in 2012 (20 ppg), and from 56th (390.4 yards per game) to 95th (359.3 ypg) in total offense.  That significant dip in performance had left many fans wondering if Dantonio would or should take away Roushar’s keys to the offense.

The decision to leave for the NFL made that a moot argument, although it now leaves Dantonio with an important hole in his staff just a couple of weeks before the start of spring practice.

“Dan Roushar has been a loyal and dedicated assistant for the last eight years, including the past six seasons at Michigan State,” Dantonio said in  statement. “He’s a great teacher and a tireless recruiter. Dan certainly played a critical role in helping build a solid foundation here at Michigan State. We’re grateful for the effort and energy he’s invested in our program.

“He’s excited about being presented with the opportunity to coach the game at its highest level. We’re thrilled for Dan and his family, and we wish him nothing but the best in the NFL.”

Former Kansas State head coach Ron Prince, who has been mentioned as a possibility at Rutgers as offensive coordinator, interviewed for the same job with the Saints as well.

(Photo credit: Michigan State athletics)

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press

Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.