jack pardee

Former ‘Junction Boy’, Houston coach Jack Pardee dies at 76

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Sadly, there’s more unfortunate news to pass along just days after the death of former Alabama athletic director Mal Moore.

A University of Houston spokesperson announced Monday evening that former Cougars coach Jack Pardee passed away at the age of 76. Pardee’s family announced in November that he had gall bladder cancer, and that it had spread to other parts of his body. He was given less than one year to live.

Pardee coached at UH from 1987-89, during which time the Cougars became known for having one of the most potent offenses in college football. Under Pardee’s guidance, Andre Ware became the first African-American quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy.

”When you talk about the great offenses in the history of college football, coach Pardee’s Run-and-Shoot teams from the late 1980s must be considered near the top of that list,” Houston coach Tony Levine told the Associated Press.

But Pardee is also remembered for being one of the 35 “Junction Boys” to survive the grueling preseason camp of then Texas A&M coach Bear Bryant in 1954.

Pardee played three seasons at A&M before being drafted 14th overall by the Los Angeles Rams. He finished his pro career with the Redskins in 1973 and went on to coach in the pros, including a stop with the Chicago Bears.

Pardee was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

As always, our condolences to Pardee’s family, as well as all those affected by his loss.

Loss to The Citadel reportedly cost South Carolina shot at hiring Tom Herman

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16:  Houston Cougars head coach Tom Herman looks on as his team took on the Tulane Green Wave at Yulman Stadium on October 16, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Will Muschamp is South Carolina’s head coach. The how’s and why’s of the previous sentence are no longer relevant, all that matters is what is.

But, in the event Muschamp’s second head coaching job goes the way of his first, many in the garnet and black will look back on the events that led Muschamp to Columbia. Then they’ll remember the Gamecocks’ loss to The Citadel on Nov. 21, 2015, and then they’ll find themselves with a violent and urgent need to stick their heads in the nearest trash can.

In his look at the Muschamp era at South Carolina, USA Today‘s Dan Wolken detailed how it nearly didn’t happen:

South Carolina, in fact, first targeted Houston’s Tom Herman and was so far down the road toward an agreement, according to two people familiar with the process, that the school’s administration had essentially shut its search process down.

Those same people, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity, said Herman’s mind changed after South Carolina lost to The Citadel on Nov. 21 and it became clear the next coach would have a massive rebuilding job on his hands. Herman decided to stay at Houston for a deal worth nearly $3 million per year and, presumably, wait for a more high-profile situation.

South Carolina, meanwhile, turned next to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who instead went to Georgia, and talked extensively with Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, who turned down an offer he did not view as legitimate, according to people familiar with the process.

Of course, it’s hardly as if that 23-22 setback to The Citadel reveled a truth that wasn’t already self-evident. The Gamecocks had already completed a 1-7 campaign within the SEC, and the Citadel loss dropped South Carolina to 3-8 on the year. A 37-32 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Clemson a year later closed South Carolina’s season at 3-9.

And now, for the reasons Wolken outlined above, Muschamp is the Gamecocks’ head coach. For better or worse, Muschamp’s self-diagnosis of what he needs to fix from his Florida tenure can be summed up simply. “What did I learn? You need to score more points. It’s real simple,” Muschamp said. “We’re not splitting the atom.”

Auburn assistant Dameyune Craig changes his stripes to join LSU staff

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06:  Assistant coach Dameyune Craig of the Auburn Tigers on the field before the Tigers take on the Florida State Seminoles in the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Auburn stole from LSU this winter when it plucked defensive coordinator Kevin Steele away from Baton Rouge to serve as Will Muschamp‘s replacement. Now LSU has struck back.

LSU announced Sunday it had hired Auburn co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig as its new wide receivers coach.

“Dameyune is a quarterback by nature so he’s going to be a tremendous asset to us in all phases of the passing game,” LSU head coach Les Miles said in a statement. “He coached a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida State and developed some outstanding receivers at Auburn.

“He comes to us with great coaching credentials as well as being a proven recruiter. We look forward to the contributions that he’s going to bring to our football program.”

Craig, a Mobile, Ala., native and former Auburn quarterback, is not long on experience as a major-college assistant, only joining a Power 5 school in 2010 at Florida State, but has garnered a reputation as a strong recruiter. He was named the ACC’s Recruiter of the Year in 2012.

Recruiting laymen may recall Craig’s name from the 2014 BCS National Championship, when Florida State receivers accused him of stealing the Seminoles’ signals. Craig was Florida State’s quarterbacks coach from 2010-12.

“They had a couple of our signals a couple times and were getting to them. That happens, people do it, and that’s our fault,” Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said following FSU’s title-game win. “You’ve got to change them, constantly rotate them, being able to get them in different ways. That’s part of the game. I don’t have a problem with that.”

“I want to thank the Auburn family for all of their love and support over the years,” Craig said. “My decision to make this career move is in no way a reflection of Auburn or the Auburn family. It is strictly a professional decision. It’s about growing as a coach and, hopefully, one day becoming a head coach.

Craig spent the 2004 season at LSU as a graduate assistant, then followed Nick Saban and his staff to the Miami Dolphins in 2005. From there he spent two seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Tuskegee and another two years coaching wide receivers at South Alabama before joining Fisher’s staff in Tallahassee.

For Auburn, the loss of Craig continues an offseason in which the Tigers have been victims of the SEC’s insular nature. Muschamp left for the head coaching job at South Carolina and took defensive assistants Travaris Robinson and Lance Thompson with him. Craig is the eighth Auburn assistant to leave the program (by his choice or the program’s) since the end of the 2014 season, including five voluntarily after the ’15 campaign.

Many believe Auburn will likely hire former Auburn wideout and current Arizona State running backs coach Kodi Burns back to the Plains to replace him.

“I want to thank Dameyune for his contributions during the last three years and wish him and his family nothing but the best,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement of his own. “We will work quickly to search for his replacement.”

USC AD Pat Haden released from hospital following undisclosed procedure

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: 
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden speaks at a press conference introducing Steve Sarkisian as the new USC  head football coach at the John McKay Center at the University of Southern California on December 3, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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USC athletics director Pat Haden was released from a Los Angeles hospital Saturday following an undisclosed procedure.

Haden shared the news on his Twitter account.

Haden was hospitalized Wednesday after falling while walking back to Heritage Hall after an on-campus meeting. He was taken away from the first hospital to a second on Wednesday evening, where he underwent an undisclosed procedure according to the Los Angeles Times.

Haden took over as USC’s athletics director in 2010 and has remained in the news for the wrong reasons since, from the airport firing of Lane Kiffin to the Steve Sarkisian saga, including confronting an official during a game against Stanford in 2014, for which he was fined by the Pac-12. He had another episode requiring medical attention on the sideline at Notre Dame this October, and resigned from the College Football Playoff selection committee two weeks later.

The former Trojan quarterback announced last week he will step down as USC’s athletics director this summer.

Emails detail Cincinnati’s effort to join Big 12

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:  A cheerleader of the Cincinnati Bearcats waves a flag during the game against the Toledo Rockets at Paul Brown Stadium on September 12, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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It’s no secret that if there was an obvious choice for expansion, the Big 12 would have expanded by now. But, in spite of that, Cincinnati is working to convince the 10 member schools — or, perhaps, the remaining five or six it needs to win over — that it is the obvious candidate.

The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday published emails detailing Cincinnati’s ground-roots, back-room campaign to join the Big 12, far led  by UC president Santa Ono with some strategic help along the way. The emails show Ono and UC have an ally in Oklahoma president David Boren, who wrote after meeting Ono at a Washington, D.C., function nearly a year ago today, “You are truly an outstanding leader and knowing that you are at the helm in Cincinnati makes me even more inclined to support your cause.” Boren is joined by West Virginia president Gordon Gee, a known hawk on expansion, and Baylor president Ken Starr on the Big 12’s expansion committee.

Ono also met privately with former Kansas State president Jon Wefald, who provided the UC president with bad information. “The only way I see to get Cincinnati into the Big 12 is this: that UC and the 2nd school would have to volunteer to take the financial haircut yourselves. Why? Because the three major networks will never add enough monies to allow the next two schools to have the same revenues as the 10 to (sic) now,” he wrote. “The emphasis of UC right now should be this: Get into the Big 12 and worry about equal revenues later. So get in now and tell the other 10 universities that you and the second school will take the haircut.”

This is incorrect, which turns out to be a bullet point in Cincinnati’s favor.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed last summer the league’s contracts with ESPN and FOX would expand with the conference’s membership.

Jason Kirk of SB Nation did a back-of-the-envelope estimation that concluded adding two schools would cost the remaining 10 schools between $1.5 and $2 million annually in College Football Playoff, NCAA and bowl payouts, but that’s before adding in the likelihoods of additional bowl and NCAA payouts that come with an expanded roster, plus the fact that the Big 12 would now have a conference championship game to sell to TV networks. In short, Cincinnati and another school likely wouldn’t cost the Big 12 much of a “haircut” at all.

In addition to his trip to Manhattan, Ono also visited with then-Texas president Bill Powers in Austin on company dime, but minutes from a UC Foundation board meeting indicate Ono “personally visited every Big 12 president regarding the merits of the University of Cincinnati and its academic and athletic programs,” indicating Bearcats boosters may have funded much of Ono’s campaign.

Cincinnati also enlisted help of executives with UC ties from Cincinnati-based Kroger and Macy’s while also soliciting Pacey Economics to compare the Bearcats with current Big 12 schools:

In a splashy brochure dated November 2014, UC shows how it compares to the Big 12 schools in 10 categories – including annual giving, National Merit Scholars, total research expenditures, enrollment and endowment assets. Cincinnati would rank in the conference’s top 5 in each category listed, except the U.S. News & World Report rankings, which would put UC seventh.

Pacey’s research, completed in late 2014, looked at athletic budgets, football and basketball success, academics and TV market size. UC’s annual athletics budget ($27.7 million in 2015) would be the lowest in the Big 12, but Pacey pointed out that would be expected to increase in a conference where the athletic department could make more money.

The Big 12 won’t meet to discuss expansion again until May, but Ono told the Enquirer he believes his jet-setting and hand-shaking will pay off. “I am indeed optimistic that through these efforts the University of Cincinnati is positioned exceptionally well to continue to compete at the highest level,” Ono told the paper in a statement.

In January, the Big 12 won the right through an NCAA vote to hold a title game without expanding, but expansion remains a target for some in the league because it would help the conference’s cause to launch a coveted TV network. Big 12 presidents and athletics directors met at league offices in Las Colinas, Texas, in February to discuss the matters without voting on issues at hand, though Bowlsby indicated afterward the schools continue to inch ever-closer to a resolution, calling the talks “high-level discussions.”