After Butch Jones took over for the dismissed Derek Dooley as Tennessee’s head football coach, running backs coach Jay Graham was the lone holdover from Dooley’s staff to be retained by Jones.
Two months later? The number of retained assistants is now down to zero.
First reported by Warchant.com, Florida State has hired Graham away from UT as an offensive assistant. Graham’s specific duties on Jimbo Fisher‘s coaching staff are unclear, with the website writing that Graham’s title “may not be determined until FSU fills its final coaching vacancy.”
Officially, Fisher has two openings on his offensive staff after losing coordinator James Coley and tight ends coach Billy Napier to Miami and Alabama, respectively.
Jones confirmed that Graham would be departing the UT football program for another job, although the destination was not revealed by the coach.
“Jay Graham has informed us of his decision to accept a position at another institution,” Jones said in a statement released through his Twitter feed. “The process of adding a new coach to our staff is underway, and we will hire the best person possible as we continue to build our program.”
Graham, who was a Vols running back in the mid-nineties and still holds a handful of school rushing records, spent just one season at his alma mater. He spent the two seasons prior to that as a running backs/tight ends coach at South Carolina. He’s also served as a running backs coach during stops at UT-Martin, san Diego and UT-Chattanooga.
Last year’s Baylor-TCU game was a wild 61-58 affair won by the Bears. Through two quarters of play in this year’s edition of the rivalry, and thanks in very large part to the weather, it doesn’t appear that a repeat is in order.
In a game delayed nearly 50 minutes because of lightning in the Fort Worth area and that’s currently being played in a steady downpour, the No. 7 Bears and No. 19 Horned Frogs slipped and slogged — and fumbled and intercepted and muffed — their way to a 14-all tie at halftime. BU turned the ball over three times — the trifecta of a fumble, interception and muffed punt — while TCU had one interception and one fumble. In last year’s game, which TCU was winning 31-27 at the half, the Bears had three turnovers while the Horned Frogs turned it over just once.
It actually looked as if a repeat of last year was in order as the Bears scored on their first two possessions and the Horned Frogs their first halfway through the opening quarter. However, as the rain increased, the offensive production predictably decreased as just seven points were scored on the remaining 14 possessions of the half — and those came courtesy of a defensive score.
Even the return of Trevone Boykin couldn’t help the Horned Frogs get past the weather. After missing the Week 12 loss to Oklahoma because of a sprained ankle, Boykin, playing on a heavily-taped joint, was back under center for the Frogs, completing 7-of-15 passes for 97 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Boykin’s counterpart, QB-turned-WR-turned-QB Chris Johnson, was making his first start, and in a driving rainstorm on the road no less. He was responsible for two of the turnovers, an interception and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, and passed for a meager 50 yards as the Bears attempted just 12 passes.
Devin Chafin was the offensive “star” of the game for both sides. While the Bears back had just eight yards rushing, he accounted for both BU touchdowns.
Earlier this month, former Hawaii head coach June Jones would indeed apply for the opening with the Rainbow Warriors. Three weeks later, not surprisingly, Jones is decidedly in the mix.
Citing sources familiar with the process, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is reporting that Jones is one of five coaches who have interviewed for the job. In addition to Jones, the others who were given one-hour interviews were former Army head coach Rich Ellerson, current UH football analyst Rich Miano, Tulsa co-defensive coordinator Brian Norwood and current Nevada offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich. All four of those candidates, as well as Jones, played their college football for the Rainbow Warriors.
The Star-Advertiser writes that “[b]arring a late addition, they would be the only finalists interviewed by athletic director David Matlin and his advisory panel.”
The 62-year-old Jones, of course, was the head coach at Hawaii for nearly a decade and led the Rainbow Warriors to its winningest stretch in the program’s history.
From 1999-2007, UH went 76-41 under Jones. Prior to Jones’ arrival, the Rainbow Warriors won nine or more games four times and 10-plus once the previous 28 years; in Jones’ nine seasons, they won nine-plus six times and 10-plus in three seasons. The pinnacle of his career at the island school was his last season as he led UH to a 12-1 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2007.
He left for SMU in January of the following year and went 36-43 with the Mustangs before abruptly resigning two games into his seventh season at the school in 2014.
Weather could have an impact on one key Big 12 game Saturday. It’s already having an impact on one Saturday.
The game between No. 7 Baylor and No. 19 TCU in Fort Worth had been scheduled to kick off around 7:30 ET this evening. However, lightning in the area has caused the start time to be pushed back.
As of this posting, kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 ET.
While TCU has already been eliminated from the Big 12 chase, Baylor remains very much alive. If BU beats TCU and Oklahoma State defeats Oklahoma in Bedlam tomorrow, the Bears will be the Big 12 champion for College Football Playoff committee accounting purposes.
If the Sooners win this weekend, they would be the conference champs regardless of what the Bears do tonight and next weekend. The Cowboys can make its claim if it wins Bedlam and the Bears lose at least one of its last two games.
“Oh what could’ve been.”
That has to be the mantra — well, that and “that escalated quickly” — of the Oregon football program and its fan base this evening after watching the Ducks jump out to a huge lead and then hang on against in-state rival Oregon State in a wild 52-42 Civil War win Saturday. The Ducks had sprinted to what appeared to be a comfortable 31-7 halftime lead before the Beavers scored 35 of the next 45 points to pull within three points at 45-42 with 7:05 remaining.
A Vernon Adams touchdown pass two and a half minutes later, his third of the game, essentially iced the game for the Ducks.
And, speaking of Adams, that’s where the what-ifs come in.
The FCS All-American transfer from Eastern Washington was viewed as a more-than-capable replacement for Heisman winner Marcus Mariota entering the season. However, he was injured early on as the Ducks stumbled to a 3-3 start that included a three-point loss to Michigan State and seven-point loss to Washington State, both on the road. Adams finally overcame the health issues in mid-October and the Ducks have rolled ever since, ripping off six straight wins to close out the regular season.
During this six-game streak, Adams has thrown 21 touchdown passes; in the first six games of the season, three of which he missed, Adams threw four. Throw in the fact that he’s completed nearly 80 percent of his passes the past three weeks — 77.3 to be precise — Adams is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country entering the final weeks of his one and only season in Eugene.
If Adams had been healthy the first-half of the season, could it have changed the direction of the season? It’s hard to say with any degree of certainty, although the odds seem pretty good that UO wouldn’t be sitting at 9-3 and looking at a middle(ish)-tier bowl bid if he had been his late-season self.