Art Briles

Baylor makes big gain on Buckeyes in coaches’ poll

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The good news for Ohio State is that the Buckeyes moved up one spot in the latest USA Today coaches’ poll and now sit just one spot outside the Top Two.

The bad news?  The object in OSU’s rear-view mirror is much closer than they would like it to appear.

Baylor jumped to No. 4 in the coaches’ poll following Missouri’s Week 8 loss, 83 points behind Ohio State.  After Week 9, the gap had shrunk a bit to 70 points.  Following the Bears’ impressive win over Oklahoma and the Buckeyes’ bye, the margin from No. 3 to No. 4 is all the way down to 25 points.

As Baylor has games left against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State (No. 10 in this week’s poll) and Texas (reentering at No. 24) to go along with TCU, and Ohio State would play no one of consequence until the Big Ten championship game — apologies, Michigan; not so much Illinois, Indiana — the Buckeyes are in serious jeopardy of being leapfrogged in the coaches’ poll and, in all likelihood, the BCS standings as the computer numbers that currently favor the Buckeyes will skew more toward the Bears.  The importance, of course, is that the team sitting at No. 3 would be primed to, provided they continue winning, slide into a BCS title game spot should either Alabama or Florida State falter.

Speaking of which, the Tide, as they have been since the preseason poll was released,  is again No. 1 this week.  Thanks to Oregon’s loss to Stanford, the Seminoles are now at No. 2.  Alabama received 58 first-place votes, up from 54 a week ago, while FSU added one and now claims the other four.

The Ducks, which held five first-place votes after Week 10, slid down five spots to No. 7.  The Cardinal and Clemson each moved up one spot to Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.

The most precipitous tumblers of the week were Oklahoma and Miami.  Each came in nine spots lower than the week before, the former down to No. 17 thanks to its 29-point loss to Baylor and the latter to No. 23 courtesy of an 18-point loss to unranked Virginia Tech.  LSU, coming off its loss to Alabama, exited Week 11 at No. 18 after entering No. 12.

The only other teams to move up or down more than two spots were South Carolina, Louisville, Fresno State, UCLA and Michigan State, which are all up three positions to Nos. 12-16, respectively.

It should also be noted that, yet again, the coaches have one-loss Louisville, which lost to one-loss UCF, ahead of the Knights.  Excellent work football support staff sports information directors coaches.

Texas Tech (No. 23) and Notre Dame (No. 25) each dropped out, replaced by Texas and Minnesota (No. 25).

Coaches' Poll Week 11

Report: Cincinnati will name Ohio State’s Luke Fickell as new head coach on Saturday

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Luke Fickell of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on from the sideline while playing the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 40-34. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Looks like Cincinnati didn’t need to go far to find their replacement for Tommy Tuberville.

According to Toledo sports reporter Jordan Strack, the Bearcats will make the hire of Ohio State co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell official on Saturday.

A person told USA Today that talks between the two parties were progressing on Friday night but not yet complete.

The move makes plenty of sense for Fickell, a Columbus, Ohio native who has spent nearly his entire career in the state not too far from Cincinnati. He did serve as interim head coach of the Buckeyes back when Jim Tressel was fired and was retained by Urban Meyer and served as one of the mainstays of the defensive staff.

Cincinnati has served as a bit of a stepping-stone job to major openings around the Midwest and has proven to be one of the more desirable jobs in the AAC given the resources at the school and the local talent base. The hiring of somebody like Fickell makes plenty of sense on both ends and it seems like the only unknown at this point is whether he sticks around for Ohio State’s semifinal game against Clemson or heads to Cincinnati right away.

Reports: FAU pursuing Alabama OC Lane Kiffin as next head coach

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22:  Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks off the field after their 33-14 win over the Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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After missing out on becoming head coach at Houston, it appears Lane Kiffin’s pursuit of a new job is moving on.

Moving on down to Boca Raton apparently.

First reported by FootballScoop, two sources confirmed to the Associated Press on Friday evening that Florida Atlantic is pursuing Kiffin to become the Owls’ next football coach.

Kiffin has also reportedly been in the mix at South Florida but it looks as though the Bulls are moving quickly to getting a deal done with Charlie Strong. If the former Texas coach turns USF down, the Alabama offensive coordinator could get back in the running in his old hometown of Tampa.

The Owls would represent an interesting destination if the two parties come together however. Combined with his offensive background and ability to recruit, the area known as a retirement mecca could instead be the perfect place for the young Kiffin to continue to rehabilitate his image. The program is looking to replace Charlie Partridge after three 3-9 seasons but FAU has solid facilities for a CUSA team and is located in a talent-rich area.

It seems like quite the drop from being the offensive coordinator at a program like Alabama but the drive to be a head coach is clearly a strong one for Kiffin.

Baylor’s Matt Rhule hires four staffers from Temple, including two defensive coaches

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 14: Matt Rhule, head coach of the Temple Owls stands on the sidelines in the second half against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. South Florida beat the Temple Owls 44-23. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images)
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One of the most interesting hires this offseason has been Baylor bringing in Matt Rhule over from Temple to be the program’s new head coach.

Rhule didn’t have any previous ties to the state of Texas so many folks were wondering what kind of staff would he assemble. On Friday it seems, we’re getting our first look that not a ton is going to change from his days in Philadelphia.

Baylor announced that four staff members — Francis Brown, Evan Cooper, Sean Padden and Mike Siravo — would be following Rhule from the Owls to the Bears. The program also made official the previously reported hire of Texas high school coach Paul Wetzel.

Padden was previously an associate AD at Temple and heads to Waco as Baylor’s new director of football operations. Titles were not given out for the other three members but Brown coached defensive backs for the Owls, Siravo was the team’s linebackers coach and Cooper was the director of player personnel.

Those hires represent plenty of familiar faces and continuity for Rhule as he settles in with Baylor and figure to be the first of many new coaches added to the staff over the coming weeks.

The release did not state whether they would be remaining with Temple through the team’s Military Bowl appearance but it seems pretty clear they will be filling their new roles relatively quick and probably won’t coach in the Owls’ final game this season.

Missouri hires former Texas coach Brick Haley as new defensive line coach

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 24:  Defensive end Charles Harris #91 and defensive lineman Jordan Harold #55 of the Missouri Tigers celebrate after sacking quarterback Daniel Epperson #11 of the Delaware State Hornets during the game at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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It took a few weeks, but Missouri head coach Barry Odom has a new defensive line coach.

The school announced the hiring of Brick Haley on Friday afternoon, a longtime veteran SEC coach who heads to Columbia after previously serving on Charlie Strong’s staff at Texas.

“I’m very pleased and really excited to be joining Coach Odom’s program,” said Haley in a release.  “We haven’t worked together, but I’m very aware of him and the reputation he has in the coaching profession.  I look at this as an unbelievable opportunity to work with someone who has such an impressive passion and work ethic.  It didn’t take me long in our conversations to know that Coach Odom is the right guy and someone you want to work with.  I believe that Mizzou is a place where the sky is the limit, and I’m looking forward to being part of the program.”

Haley has a strong reputation as a recruiter, which is helpful considering that the Tigers are in a bit of a rebuilding job right now. In addition his recent stop at Texas, he also coached at LSU, the Chicago Bears, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and others.

Missouri does have a strong tradition of producing first-round picks along the defensive line and it appears that, after a one year speed bump with Jackie Shipp, the program has found the next coach to help carry on that tradition.