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Marqise Lee ruled out, won’t play vs. Utah

Marqise Lee, Gerald Bowman AP

The door has officially been slammed shut on a possible return for Marqise Lee.

Heading into the end of the week as questionable, the All-American wide receiver has been ruled out of USC’s game against Utah Saturday.  Lee aggravated a knee injury in the second half of the Trojans’ loss to Notre Dame and did not play in the second half.

Lee originally suffered the injury in a late-September loss to Arizona State returning a punt.  It kept him from playing in the Oct. 10 win against Arizona.

Nelson Agholor, who leads the Trojans in receiving yards and is second to Lee in receptions, is still listed as questionable with injured ribs.  ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad writes that “[t]he Trojans are preparing to play walk-on wide receivers Christian ToberCody SkeneGeorge Katrib and Robby Kolanz.”

With all three of its top tight ends out for the Utes game due to injury, the Trojans will likely work a pair of walk-ons at the position into the game plan as well.

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Report: Jimbo Fisher set to be among five highest-paid head coaches

ACC Championship - Florida State v Georgia Tech

The most successful head football coach over the past three seasons isn’t even one of the 10 highest-paid at the FBS level.  That, though, could be about to change.

According to a report from Warchant.com, “Florida State officials and head coach Jimbo Fisher are expected to announce a new long-term agreement, which will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, before the Seminoles take on Oregon in the Rose Bowl.” Fisher earned just under $3.6 million in 2014, which placed him 14th in the USA Today coaches salary database.

Per the report, “[t]he new deal, which is still being finalized, likely will place him in the top five.” If that’s the case, Fisher’s new deal would average in excess of $5 million annually as Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops ($5.058 millin), Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin ($5.006 million) and Texas’ Charlie Strong ($5 million) sit at Nos. 3-5, respectively.

The new deal is also expected to be for eight years in length.

Since 2012, Fisher’s Seminoles have gone 39-2 and won three straight ACC titles. Riding a school-record 29-game winning streak, FSU will look to win back-to-back national championships, having claimed the final BCS title following the 2013 season.

The Seminoles and Ducks will square off in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl, with the winner facing the winner of the Alabama-Ohio State Sugar Bowl the same day in the first-ever College Football Playoff championship game.

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Starting QB, 2nd-leading rusher continue UAB exodus to S. Alabama

While one football program in the state of Alabama shuffled off this mortal coil, another has greatly benefited, personnel-wise, from its demise.

Wednesday, Cody Clements confirmed to al.com that he has decided to transfer to South Alabama for his final season of football.  The starting quarterback became the fourth former UAB football player to transfer to the the Sun Belt team since that university’s administration decided to kill off the Blazers football program.  A day later, running back D.J. Vinson, also entering his final season of eligibility, became the fifth.

All five of the UAB-to-USA transfers come from the offensive side of the ball.  The fact that offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent made the same move played a significant role in the mass migration to the Jaguars.

“Definitely I would say first of all, coach Vincent,” Clements said. “That was my main goal coming out of all this mess at UAB was to follow him if I could. He’s a great coach and I love playing for him.

“Then I got up there this past weekend and saw the facilities and housing and was able to hang out with the guys. I knew that was a good spot for me to go and to finish out my career.”

Clements started all 12 games for the Blazers in 2014, completing more than 65 percent of his passes for 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’ll get the opportunity to start at his new school as the Jaguars’ starter last season, Brandon Bridge, is out of eligibility.

While Vinson finished second on the team in rushing with 670 yards, he told al.com in confirming his move to USA that he will play wide receiver. He had 15 receptions coming out of the backfield in 2014.

All five of the USA transfers, and every other former UAB football player for that matter, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 thanks to a waiver from the NCAA.

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Justin Fuente, Memphis reach agreement on new deal

Temple v Memphis

One of the benefits usually associated with having your name mentioned as part of the annual spinning of the coaching carousel?  Ofttimes, a shiny new deal.

The latest to reap a reward from the spinning carousel is Justin Fuente, who has reached an agreement with Memphis on a contract extension, the school announced Thursday.  The financial particulars weren’t released, although the new deal very likely includes a raise.

In 2014, Fuente earned just over $1 million in total pay, eighth-highest among the head coaches in the AAC.

“Our football program has enjoyed unprecedented success under Coach Fuente’s leadership and we are excited to finalize this process and move forward,” said athletic director Tom Bowen in a statement. “The future of Tiger football is very bright and we look forward to the opportunity to build upon our success in the days and years ahead.”

Even it weren’t for outside interest, the fact that Memphis would reward Fuente is far from surprising.

In the three seasons immediately preceding Fuente’s arrival in 2012, the Tigers went 5-31. After winning seven games his first two seasons, Memphis went 9-3 in the regular season in claiming its first conference championship since the early seventies.

If Memphis wins its Miami Bowl matchup with BYU Dec. 22, it would mark the first time since the football program moved to the FBS/Div. 1-A level in 1960 that it finished a season with double-digit wins.

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Average cost of a national title game ticket? Nearly $1,700

American Money

We still don’t know yet who will square off in the College Football Playoff championship game.  What we do know is, if you want a ticket, it’ll cost you.  Plenty.

According to a report from The Oregonian, and based on prices available at Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket marketplace, the average price of a ticket for the Jan. 12 title game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas is $1,681. For the penny-pinchers in the crowd, the cheapest ticket to that game is $540 at the moment.

For comparison’s sake, the average price of a ticket for the final BCS title game, pitting Florida State against Auburn, was $1,907 based on a report from Forbes.com via Vivid Seats last Dec. 17. The cheapest ticket for that game at that time could hardly be labeled as cheap, with an end zone seat in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena setting you back $1,245.

Three weeks later, there, there were reports that the average ticket price for the BCS finale had dropped to $374 on the secondary ticket market, although that data was through TiqIQ.

As for the two CFP semifinal games that will be played New Year’s Day, the average price for a ticket to the Sugar Bowl (Alabama vs. Ohio State) comes in at $501, while the average for a ducat to the Rose Bowl (Oregon vs. Florida State) is $376.

TiqIQ reports that Sugar Bowl prices are 55.3% higher than for the 2014 game (Oklahoma vs. Alabama), while the Rose Bowl is down 33.3% compared to last season’s game (Michigan State vs, Stanford).

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BYU DB Dallin Leavitt transfers to Utah State

Houston v BYU Getty Images

Dallin Leavitt has decided to leave BYU but, as it turns out, he won’t have to leave the state.

Earlier this month it was reported that Leavitt would be transferring out of the BYU football program to an undetermined new location. Wednesday that new location was officially determined as both the player and his new head coach revealed via Twitter that he will continue his collegiate playing career at rival Utah State.

According to the Deseret News, Leavitt visited Logan last weekend before pulling the trigger on a transfer to USU.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Leavitt will be forced to sit out the 2015 season. Beginning in 2016, Leavitt will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Leavitt contributed immediately as a true freshman in 2013, playing in all 13 games with one start. In 2014, he played in 11 of 12 regular season games, and is currently fifth in tackles with 43. His 3.5 tackles for loss this season are second among defensive backs.

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Gary Patterson lays claim to Walter Camp Coach of the Year award

Gary Patterson AP

Since missing out on a spot in the College Football Playoff, it’s been a pretty good last couple of weeks or so for Gary Patterson.  In that span, Patterson was named the Associated Press, Big 12 and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year and, a day after the latter award, it was reported that he had reached an agreement with TCU on a new contract.

Two days after that, Patterson is being lauded for his Horned Frogs’ 2014 turnaround yet again.

Late Thursday morning, the Walter Camp Foundation announced that Patterson has been named as its 2014 Coach of the Year.  It’s the second time (2009) Patterson has claimed the Camp coaching honor, joining Penn State’s Joe Paterno (1972, 1994 and 2005) and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (2000 and 2003) as the only multiple winners in the 48-year history of the award.

Last season, TCU went 4-8. This season, the Horned Frogs went 11-1 in claiming a Big 12 title and a berth in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Ole Miss.

Duke’s David Cutcliffe was the 2013 winner of the Camp Coach of the Year award.

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Report: Gator LT D.J. Humphries leaving early for NFL

Florida v LSU

Since the 2014 season ended, Florida learned that it will be losing defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and running back Matt Jones to the NFL. Based on one report, new head coach Jim McElwain has lost another.

Citing a source familiar with the situation, the Gainesville Sun is reporting that D.J. Humphries will forego his remaining eligibility and make himself available for the 2015 NFL draft. The offensive lineman had previously confirmed that he would be seeking feedback from the NFL’s draft advisory board.

While Humphries, either through the media or social media, has not publicly declared his intentions for the 2015 season, one of his teammates took to Twitter to offer congratulations on the move.

Humphries was the highest-rated member of UF’s 2012 recruiting class, a five-star player rated as the No. 2 player at any position in the country.  Injuries, however, curtailed his impact on the Gators.

After earning SEC All-Freshman honors in 2012, Humphries played in just 17 of 24 games the past two seasons.  The lineman did, though, start 15 of those contests at left tackle.

UPDATED 10:40 a.m. ET: For what it’s worth, Humphries took to Twitter to deny that a decision has been made yet.

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Booted by UNC, Vic Koenning lands as DC at Troy

North Carolina v Virginia Tech

Monday, North Carolina officially announced that Vic Koenning won’t return in 2015, news that was reported nearly a week ago.  Two days later, the assistant coach officially landed a new job.

In a press release, Troy announced that Koenning has been hired as first-year head coach Neal Brown‘s defensive coordinator. The hiring represents a return home of sorts for Koenning, who spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons in the same role with the Trojans.

“I am excited about bringing Vic back home to Troy,” Brown said in a statement. “He built one of the best defenses in Troy history in 2004 and still has a lot of connections in this area. Vic has been a great recruiter in south Georgia for many years, and his numbers on the defensive side of the ball speak for themselves.

“Vic brings with him a great deal of experience as he has served not only as a defensive coordinator but also as a head coach. He had unprecedented success at Clemson and turned around the defenses at Kansas State and Illinois in a short period of time.”

Koenning had spent the past three seasons at UNC as associate head coach for defense. Prior to that, he had worked as either a coordinator or co-coordinator at Illinois (2010-11), Kansas State (2009), Clemson (2005-08) and Wyoming (2000-02) in addition to his first stint at Troy.

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Former Sooner WR Dannon Cavil finds new home at UTSA

Dannon Cavil

Dannon Cavil never realized his potential during a brief, unremarkable stay at Oklahoma. Now, the wide receiver will attempt to jumpstart his playing career in the state to the south.

Wednesday, UT-San Antonio announced that Cavil is one of four players — the other three being JUCO signees — who have been added to the football roster. Cavil will enroll at UTSA for the spring semester and will participate in spring practice.

Joining Cavil on the Roadrunners’ roster are linebacker La’Kel Bass, defensive tackle Jonathan Tuiolosega and running back Corbin White.

“We are excited to add these four players to our program and are looking forward to having them on campus next spring,” head coach Larry Coker said in a statement. “This group fills several needs for us and we expect them to compete for playing time immediately.”

Cavil was a three-star member of OU’s 2013 recruiting class coming out of high school in San Antonio, but never played a down for the Sooners. He announced in October that he would be transferring.

The receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2015, and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

(Photo credit: Oklahoma athletics)

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USF officially adds Ole Miss assistant as new DC

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A couple of days after it was reported that USF would look to an SEC football program to fill its vacancy at defensive coordinator, that move has come to fruition.

In a press release, USF announced that Tom Allen has been hired as the Bulls’ coordinator on the defensive side of the ball. Allen, who previously coached high school ball in the Tampa Bay area, comes to USF after a three-year stint as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Ole Miss.

Allen will begin his USF duties immediately, and will not be a part of Ole Miss’ prep work for the Peach Bowl matchup with TCU.

“I’m very excited to bring Tom Allen back to the Bay Area,” head coach Willie Taggart said in a statement. “Tom has been a part of a lot of winning during his coaching career, has helped guide some very aggressive and successful defenses, and has tremendous relationships in the Bay Area. We welcome Tom and his family to the Bulls’ family.”

Allen will replace Chuck Bresnahan, who, along with offensive coordinator Paul Wulff, was fired earlier this month.

(Photo credit: Ole Miss athletics)

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Nebraska uses Pelini’s heated comments to support decision to move on

Bo Pelini may be the head coach at Youngstown State now, but his final interaction with his previous players at Nebraska has certainly raised more than a few eyebrows. Pelini, rarely one to hold back his feelings, ripped into Nebraska Athletics Director Shawn Eichorst in a meeting with players held after he was relieved of his duties in Lincoln. He let loose, as the audio recording acquired by The Omaha World-Herald makes perfectly clear.

“A guy like (Eichorst) who has no integrity, he doesn’t even understand what a core value is,” Pelini told players, according to The Omaha World-Herald. “And he hasn’t understood it from the day he got here. I saw it when I first met with the guy.”

Pelini was just getting started.

“To have core values means you have to be about something, you have to represent something, you have to have something that is important to you,” Pelini added. “He is a f—— lawyer who makes policies. That’s all he’s done since he’s been here is hire people and make policies to cover his own ass.”

Pelini’s comments went on to become more vulgar and inappropriate for a family audience. Coaches are going to use some language you may not choose to use in front of children or your mother (you can listen to it here), but according to a follow-up statement from Nebraska this all put on display reasons why the university’s leadership felt it was time to move in a new direction.

Nebraska has not been able to officially confirm the recording is authentic or not, but a statement released following the original report expressed disappointment in Pelini’s choice of words and feelings and committed to the decision to remove him as head coach.

“If these comments were, indeed, spoken by Mr. Pelini, we are extremely disappointed, but it only reaffirms the decision that he should no longer be a leader of young men at Nebraska,” a statement from Nebraska reads.”His behavior is consistent with a pattern of unprofessional, disrespectful behavior directed by Mr. Pelini toward the passionate fans of Nebraska, employees of the university and, most concerning, our student-athletes. This behavior is not tolerated at the University of Nebraska and, among many other concerns, played a role in his dismissal.

Pelini’s tenure at Nebraska may be best known for the ability to win games but hitting a plateau without a conference championship. It will also be infamous for secret audio recordings that paint a negative picture getting out to the public.

But you can say this about Pelini. He’s an honest man and spits fire from his belly without hesitation. There is a certain level of respect that this trait may command.

Pelini now continues his head coaching career under a much dimmer spotlight at Youngstown State. Will comments like these prevent Pelini from returning to coach a program in the FBS again in the future? It is possible no AD will want to get mixed up with a hot head like Pelini, but he is a good coach and sometimes that is worth the risk. Just don’t upset him.

UPDATE (11:23 p.m.) - The Omaha World-Herald has released the full audio of Pelini’s meeting with Nebraska players. The audio does not come across nearly as hot-tempered as iniailyy suggested, but Pelini does not hold back in the state of Nebraska.

Listen to the audio here.

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Reports: WVU OC Shannon Dawson takes same job at Kentucky

Photo credit: West Virginia Athletics

West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is taking his coaching game to Kentucky. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Mountaineers will take on the role of offensive coordinator at Kentucky on the staff led by head coach Mark Stoops.

Football Scoop was among the first to report the coaching transition via Twitter. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports followed up with a similar report shortly after via Twitter.

Dawson will have a chance to take on an increased role on the coaching staff at Kentucky. Instead of taking the lead of head coach Dana Holgorsen, Dawson will look to take charge with the offensive playcalling for the more defensive-minded Stoops in Lexington.

Dawson will have quarterback Patrick Towles to work with, and that should be a promising combination for the Wildcats. West Virginia was one of the top offensive teams in the Big 12 in the few years Dawson was the offensive coordinator. This season West Virginia averaged just over 500 yards per game and 33.2 points per game.

Kentucky’s offense showed some improvement this season, but the Wildcats need to improve on a SEC-worst red zone touchdown percentage and a poor third-down conversion success rate.

Dawson will reportedly continue in his role as offensive coordinator for West Virginia’s bowl game before moving to Lexington for his new job.

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Michigan raises stakes and goes all in on Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes

At this point in the coaching carousel one thing seems to be pretty clear. Michigan is waiting for a certain someone to become available, and they are willing to wait for the moment to be just right.There may be no other way to explain how Michigan would part ways with Brady Hoke a few days after the end of the regular season (a delay that seemed to confuse more fans than it calmed), when it was widely suspected another down season would spell the end of Hoke’s time in Ann arbor as early as last season, if not September or October.

So here we are, more than two weeks after Hoke was relieved of his duties, and the one top target on the dream list of many Michigan fans is now, reportedly, has received an offer from the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, now has an offer valued at $8 million per year for six years according to Pro Football Talk. That is a lot of money. That is Nick Saban money, and then some.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network was one of the first to report news of the contract offer from Michigan to Harbaugh, via Twitter.

If these reports are accurate, Michigan is all in on the Harbaugh sweepstakes. At least Michigan is starting to show some signs of progress on the coaching search.

As Mike Florio writes on Pro Football Talk, if Michigan is willing to shell out that kind of money, the university is challenging other potential NFL opportunities to pony up to woo Harbaugh. Michigan certainly has the money, there is no doubt about that, although that seems like an awfully high amount of money to throw around. It suggests Michigan is both serious about luring Harbaugh back to school, and they are perhaps a little desperate to get this taken care of.

If Michigan does et Harbaugh at the price that is being reported, the Wolverines better hope it works out. And do not forget about the money being paid to a search firm for helping out with this process.

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Wisconsin makes hiring of Pitt’s Chryst officially official

Paul Chryst

The worst kept secret in this year’s coaching carousel is now out of the bag. Wisconsin has hired Paul Chryst, who had been the head coach at Pittsburgh. Wisconsin was expected to name Chryst the new head coach as soon as the vacancy opened up, but state law in Wisconsin prevented the school from extending any formal offers until Wednesday.

Chryst replaces Gary Andersen, who left Wisconsin for a lateral move to Oregon State after two years in Madison and one trip to the Big Ten championship game. Chryst may not have the accolades of a great coaching hire, he was .500 in his time at Pittsburgh, but there is much more to like about this coaching move at Wisconsin than the numbers would suggest.

Chryst is a Madison native, he played at Wisconsin for athletics director Barry Alvarez and he left Pittsburgh after a well-respected run as offensive coordinator under Bret Bielema. Now that he has a few years of head coaching experience under his belt, he arrives in Madison a more experienced option than he would have been immediately after Bielema left to coach Arkansas. His Wisconsin roots should play well with the fans and the Wisconsin program as well.

As for Pittsburgh, the search is now officially ongoing for its next head coach. Pittsburgh previously was reported to have reached out to former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. Whether Pittsburgh has any options out there that could come home in similar fashion as Chryst to Wisconsin remains to be seen, although it certainly would be nice to see Pittsburgh find its own stability at the position one of these years.

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Five-year old boy sent UAB his $1 allowance to try and help save UAB football

UAB FOOTBALL PROGRAM SHUT DOWN 12-2-14

When I was young I saved my allowance to buy baseball cards and Nintendo games. One five-year old in Ohio decided to spend his hard-earned allowance to try to save UAB football.

Bennett Williams, from Dublin, Ohio, is an Ohio State fan but adopted UAB as his second favorite team after thinking the logo for the Blazers was pretty cool. When word of UAB shutting down its football program made its way to the young boy, a will to do all he can to save the program led him to write a letter to the school, accompanied by his allowance money (one dollar). Every little bit helps, right?

The letter, as transcribed by Al.com, reads as follows;

“DEAR UAB. I LOVE OHIO STATE, BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE FOOTBALL, TOO. HERE IS ONE DOLLAR TO HELP! – BENNETT”

The letter did not go unread. UAB athletics department, Reid Adair, replied with thanks to Bennett for his letter and followed up by sending a nice little care package of UAB merchandise.

Bennett’s allowance may not have been enough to save the UAB football program, but it should do plenty to restore your faith in humanity.

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