South Carolina wins a tale of two halves vs UCF

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Central Florida made a statement in the first half, but South Carolina made the adjustments and got the last laugh. The Gamecocks focused more on the run game and it paid off as the Gamecocks stormed back for a 28-25 victory on the road Saturday afternoon. They had to hang on for it too.

South Carolina running back Mike Davis rushed for 169 yards and three touchdowns to fuel the second half charge. Dylan Thompson stepped in for an injured Connor Shaw and passed for 261 yards as South Carolina scored 28 straight points to take what seemed to be a commanding 28-10 lead in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks were just a couple yards away from making it a 35-18 game in the fourth quarter but a fumble b Davis gave Central Florida a late chance for a rally, and they nearly managed to pull it off. Blake Bortles led a long scoring drive against the Gamecocks to make it a one-possession game, with a huge completion to Rannell Hall picking up 79 yards in a hurry. It took three plays to score the touchdown, allowing UCF to go for an onside kick for one last attempt with no timeouts remaining.

South Carolina recovered the kick and took a knee to wind down the clock and pick up what turned out to be a hard-fought victory.

Where South Carolina goes from here remains to be seen. The loss of Shaw under center could put the Gamecocks in an uphill battle in the SEC, already with a loss to Georgia in the standings as well. The defense was shredded at times by Bortles, who passed for 358 yards and two touchdowns, but when South Carolina was at their best they managed to limit the impact of Bortles. South Carolina is not going anywhere in the SEC East, but they may have been fortunate to escape with a victory on this one. Before that last touchdown by Central Florida, the Knights had come up with zero points off three turnovers by the Gamecocks.

What may have become evident, if not already, is that Central Florida is going to be a tough out in The American this season, and that includes Louisville. Central Florida travels to Louisville on October 18. That game could turn out to be the conference’s game of the year.

Kent State makes firing of Paul Haynes official

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It’s official: there are currently eight openings (for now) at head coach in the FBS.

The latest to officially face the coaching guillotine is Paul Haynes, who Kent State announced Wednesday afternoon would not have his contract renewed, confirming reports that had surfaced earlier in the day.  Haynes wrapped up his fifth, and what turned out to be final season with the Golden Flashes with a 24-14 loss to rival and MAC East champion Akron Tuesday night.

“Making a coaching change is never easy,” athletic director Joel Nielsen said in a statement. “As an alum, Paul gave his all for this university and to Golden Flashes football, and moved the program forward in many ways. We thank Paul and his family for their service and commitment to Kent State student-athletes.”

In 2012, the year prior to Haynes’ arrival, Kent went 11-3.  In the five years under Haynes, they were 14-45 overall.  The Golden Flashes won either two or three games each of the past four seasons, including a 2-10 mark in 2017.

That stretch of 10 wins is the worst four-year run for the program since they won six from 1997-2000.  That was part of a lost decade-plus that saw the Golden Flashes win a combined 16 games in 12 seasons (1989-2000).

Chip Kelly reportedly turned down Tennessee offer, turned away Nebraska interest

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It really is looking like a two-school race for Chip Kelly‘s services.

On the heels of a weekend meeting with Florida officials in New Hampshire, Kelly also reportedly sat down with a contingent from UCLA this week regarding their head coach opening.  It’s been widely thought that, in the coming days — especially if the Gators have anything to say about it — Kelly would decide between UF and UO and likely not entertain interest from other programs.

In that vein, and citing a person with knowledge of the situation, George Schroeder of USA Today is reporting that Kelly recently turned down an offer from one SEC school and rebuffed the advances from a Big Ten program.

Kelly turned down a recent offer from Tennessee, the person said. He is also believed to have turned away interest from Nebraska.

While two schools are seemingly in the mix at the moment, Schroeder is also reporting that Arizona State, should it come open, would also be of interest to the former Oregon head coach.  Th earliest ASU would shed themselves of Todd Graham would be Saturday night as they square off with rival Arizona that afternoon.

Regardless of where Kelly lands, the current ESPN analyst is set to get paid as it’s believed that the offers he has received are in the neighborhood of $6 million annually.  As Schroeder and other media outlets have pointed out, though, there could be a sticking point with one of the two schools that have Kelly as its top target as UCLA’s apparel provider is Under Armour.  Kelly still maintains a close relationship with Phil Knight, the founder of Nike and whose company is Under Armour’s biggest rival.

While that dynamic is thought of as a sticking point, it’s not believed to be a deal breaker.

Reports: Paul Haynes out as head coach at Kent State

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And another one bites the dust.  Reportedly.

FootballScoop.com was the first to report Wednesday morning that Paul Haynes has been let go as the head football coach at Kent State.  The Associated Press subsequently confirmed the initial report, noting that the Golden Flash players were informed of the move earlier today.

The not-yet-official move to part ways with Haynes is far from surprising as the former Ohio State and Arkansas assistant is just 14-45 during his five seasons at the school.  For perspective, the Golden Flashes won 11 games in 2011, the year before Haynes’ arrival.

With Haynes’ ouster, there are now eight FBS head coach openings, with KSU joining Florida, Georgia Southern, Ole Miss, Oregon State, South Alabama, Tennessee, UCLA and UTEP.

Minnesota, P.J. Fleck reach agreement on contract extension

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Not even through his first full season as head coach, and P.J. Fleck has already been rewarded for his work.

Minnesota announced Wednesday morning that it has reached an agreement on a contract extension with Fleck into 2023.  The 36-year-old head coach originally signed a five-year contract with the school, making this a two-year extension.

A December meeting of the school’s Board of Regents will rubber stamp the extension and make it official.

“It’s an honor to coach at the University of Minnesota and in the Big Ten,” said Fleck in a statement. “[athletic director] Mark Coyle and I share the same goal of building a championship culture and team at Minnesota. It’s a goal that we are working on daily together and one that we will achieve. I am proud of how hard our young men have worked to improve this season on living a holistic life. They have taken great strides in bettering themselves athletically, academically, socially and spiritually. I look forward to leading them and watching them grow on and off the field as we continue to move this program forward.”

In his first season at Minnesota after coming to the Big Ten program from Western Michigan, Fleck has the Gophers at 5-6.  Fleck took over a team that won nine games in 2016, and, if they fail to beat fifth-ranked Wisconsin Saturday, would have their fewest wins in a season since going 3-9 in Jerry Kill‘s first year in 2011.

On the flip side, his five wins are the first for a first-year Gophers coach since Murray Warmath won seven games in 1954.  Additionally, he became the first coach to win his Gophers debut since John Gutekunst did the same back in 1986.

“When we hired Coach Fleck, I talked about his authentic energy and passion, and his dedication to building a unique team culture. This year, I have seen our students connect with his energy and embrace that culture,” Coyle said in his statement. “From the commitment and hard work of our current students, to building a nationally-ranked recruiting class that will be among the best in program history, I have seen the foundation of what Coach Fleck is building, and I’m looking forward to supporting him for years to come.”