Joe Stoner,  Mike Edwards

Hawaii continues to set eyes on Pac 12


There area few programs that could throw another round of conference realignment in motion. It appears Hawaii hopes to be that program. Yes, Hawaii.

Hawaii Athletic Director Ben Jay along with other members of the University of Hawaii addressed a number of stakeholders and financial supporters to lay out what is referred to by the Honolulu Star Advertiser as a game plan to improve Hawaii athletics in hopes of attracting a potentially wandering eye from the Pac 12. You know, just in case the Pac 12 is interested in another round of expansion at some point.

Hawaii has long been interested in exploring a potential move to the Pac 12, and it makes sense from Hawaii’s point of view. Currently a member of the Mountain West Conference, the only realistic possibility for Hawaii to move up in competition (and compensation) would be the Pac 12. The Big 12 would never give Hawaii a call and the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and American (and others) would be beyond the point of ridiculousness when it comes to realignment. The Pac 12 may still be a dream scenario for Hawaii but the school may be a last option for the Pac 12.

If there is one thing we know about realignment it is that if the money doesn’t make sense to make a move, no move is better than making a move for the benefit of expansion. In this case, it is all about television markets and potential TV viewers. Honolulu is ranked 72nd among the top 100 TV markets, which is not exactly the most attractive to a conference like the Pac 12.

Hawaii may have some benefits to Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott‘s grand vision for the growth of the conference though. The Pac 12 is working on plans to expand the conference’s brand in to Asia. Adding Hawaii could help further that promotional cause but how much more would the mission expand by adding Hawaii compared to what it would have without the university in the islands?

This could all be an effort by Hawaii to have the university ready with a back-up plan in the event the Mountain West Conference loses any more members. Having already raided the WAC, the Mountain West managed to keep Boise State and San Diego State in the conference despite the two already committing to join the Big East. The decision to leave the Mountain West showed those schools are ready to weigh their options if they are available, so it is wise for other MWC schools to be prepared for any such realignment changes.

Hawaii may never receive an invitation to the Pac 12. Keep in mind if the Pac 12 did choose to expand, it would be likely they would prefer to do so in even numbers, which means another program would have to be worth adding as well. BYU? That ship seems to have sailed, although the Cougars remain an independent and the Pac 12 already has Utah.  Although the goal may be unreachable for Hawaii, far be it form anyone to hold them back in doing what they can to put forth their best effort. Even if Pac 12 membership never comes through, any efforts made to improve the athletics department in trying to get there can go a long way in all sports, not just football.

Go for it Hawaii. If you do not try and ask, the answer will always be no.

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.