Moving Day

It’s officially conference moving day for myriad FBS programs


Around this time last year… and the year before that… and the year before that… we were in the midst of yet another round of conference musical chairs, with multiple schools announcing future moves to new league homes.

Thankfully expansion and contraction is on hold this year, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some official movement on that front.

As its July 1, myriad programs have officially left one conference for (presumably) greener pastures in a new league.  Below is a look at all of the moves that became official today and, yes, those moves will be reflected in the menus on this site in short order:


Both Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced in September of 2011 that they would be leaving their longtime homes in the American Athletic Conference.  The former will play in the Coastal Division (Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech) while the latter will compete as a member of the Atlantic Division (Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest).  In 2014, Maryland will leave the ACC for the Big Ten, replaced by Louisville after the Cardinals skip town on the AAC.


The conference formerly known as the Big East has seen the most upheaval of any of the “major” FBS leagues, and 2013 is no different.  In are former Conference USA members Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF, while as previously mentioned Pitt and Syracuse are out.  This is far from the last movement, however, as East Carolina Tulane and Tulsa will join in 2014, followed by Navy in 2015.  Next year, the AAC will lose Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) to hopefully end the membership attrition on their end.


This league scoffs in the general direction of the AAC’s losses and additions.  Conference USA has added a whopping six new members to its roll: FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and UT-San Antonio, with those schools replacing, as noted above, Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF.  The conference will lose three current members (East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa) to the AAC next year, replacing them with Old Dominion and Western Kentucky in 2014 and UNC-Charlotte in 2015.


On the verge of losing Boise State and San Diego State to the AAC, the MWC not only retained those two members but also added San Jose State and Utah State for the 2013 season.  The Aggies will be a part of the Mountain Division (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico and Wyoming), with the Spartans joining the West Division (Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State and UNLV). At least for now, no future additions are planned for the MWC.


This conference is the only current league to lose more members than it will have gained in 2013. Bolting the SBC are FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas, all headed to Conference USA. Coming into the SBC fold this year are Georgia State and Texas State. Appalachian State (FCS), Georgia Southern (FCS), Idaho (Independent via the WAC) and New Mexico State (Independent via the WAC) will join in 2014, with Western Kentucky leaving for Conference USA.


For the first time since 1961, a college football season will be played without the WAC as one of its conferences. Thanks to the myriad rounds of expansion, the WAC ceased to exist as a football conference after the 2012 season. The lone remaining members will be off to new conference homes either this year or next. Louisiana Tech and UT-San Antonio will play in Conference USA; San Jose State and Utah State in the Mountain West; and Texas State to the Sun Belt. After spending the 2013 season as Independents, Idaho and New Mexico State will join the Sun Belt in 2014.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.