A conference traditionally known more for offense than defense, along with a league well-versed in the opposite, are very well represented for an honor that rewards performance on the latter side of the ball.
The Lott IMPACT Trophy revealed nine semifinalists Wednesday, with two-thirds of them coming from the Big Ten and Pac-12. The Big semifinalists were a trio of linebackers — Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, Iowa’s James Morris, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier — while the Pac-12 representatives ranged from the defensive line (USC’s Devon Kennard) to linebacker (UCLA’s Anthony Barr) to the secondary (Stanford’s Ed Reynolds).
There was one player each from the ACC (Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald), the SEC (Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley) and an Independent (BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy).
Position-wise, six of the nine semifinalists are linebackers, two are defensive linemen and one a defensive back.
Last year’s winner of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which gives out $25,000 to the winning school’s general scholarship fund as well as $5,000 each to the runnerups, was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
Departures had left Matt Wells with myriad openings on his Utah State coaching staff. Earlier this week, Wells filled one hole on the offensive side of the ball; a day later, he turned to the defensive side.
The university confirmed Wednesday that Julius Brown has been added by Wells as cornerbacks coach. Brown had spent the past two seasons as the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at Mountain West rival Boise State.
Brown, who played his college football with the Broncos, and his alma mater reportedly parted ways earlier this year. The Idaho Statesman reported at the time that “[i]t was unclear if Brown’s departure would be termed a resignation or a firing.”
Prior to his first tenure at BSU, Brown was a secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas State (2013) and cornerbacks coach at Troy (2012).
“We are excited to add Julius to the Aggie football family,” said Wells. “He brings a lot of experience to our staff and team as both a secondary coach and former defensive back, and also has a reputation as an outstanding recruiter. He possesses key knowledge of the Mountain West that will aid us moving forward in our quest to win a conference championship.”
With the hiring of Brown, Wells still has a need for running backs and tight ends coaches as well as special teams coordinator.
Following up on reports that surfaced earlier today, Texas head coach Charlie Strong has confirmed in a statement that Chris Vaughn is no longer a member of his Longhorns coaching staff.
“Chris did a tremendous job for us,” the statement from Strong began. “He’s a terrific football coach and a great person. However, circumstances have put us in a position that we are going to part ways.”
While those circumstances weren’t specified, it’s believed they’re tied to the NCAA’s investigation into the Ole Miss football program.
From 2008-11, Vaughn was an assistant under Houston Nutt with the Rebels. One report in connection to Vaughn’s ouster at UT stated that “the facts against Vaughn [in the Ole Miss case] ‘were damning,'” while another said the “NCAA has a ‘thick file’ on Vaughn.”
Vaughn had spent the past two seasons as Strong’s defensive backs coach. While his two-year contract had expired late last month, he had an option for a third year that, prior to the Ole Miss developments, was expected to be picked up by the football program.
For the third time this offseason, Dan Mullen has added a new face to his Mississippi State defensive staff.
The latest addition is Maurice Linguist, who the school confirmed Thursday has been hired as to coach the safeties for the Bulldogs. Linguist had spent the past two seasons as Iowa State’s defensive passing game coordinator.
“Maurice is a very sharp person with a bright future in the coaching profession,” a statement from Mullen read. “His knowledge of the game is exceptional, while his teaching and communication skills will resonate well with our players. We are happy to have him in Starkville and look forward to the impact he will make on our team.”
“I am excited to be a part of the tradition that Coach Mullen has established in his tenure here at Mississippi State,” Linguist said. “It’s a privilege to be a Bulldog, to coach in the Southeastern Conference and to mentor the dynamic safeties we have on this team.”
Linguist’s first on-field job at the FBS level came at Buffalo in 2012-13, holding the same job title he had at ISU. After finishing up his playing career at Baylor — as a safety he was team MVP and honorable mention All-Big 12 selection — he began his coaching career at his alma mater as a grad assistant in 2007.
The 31-year-old assistant has also spent time on staffs at Valdosta State (2008, defensive backs/special teams) and James Madison (2009-11, safeties).
Linguist joins Peter Sirmon (defensive coordinator) and Terrell Buckley (secondary) as coaches Mullen has hired over the past three weeks.
It appears the tentacles of an NCAA investigation centered in Oxford could ultimately have an impact on Austin as well.
247Sports.com was the first to report that Texas and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn are expected to part ways. The recruiting website writes that “[i]t is unclear whether Vaughn will resign or be fired.”
Subsequent to that initial report, multiple media outlets have reported the same.
It surfaced late last month that the Ole Miss football program, the subject of an NCAA investigation, had received a Notice of Allegations from The Association regarding alleged violations in three sports, including football. There were 28 total violations spread out amongst the sports, 13 of which reportedly involved football — with nine of those occurring since Hugh Freeze took over for Houston Nutt in December of 2011.
Vaughn was a member of Nutt’s Rebels coaching staff from 2008-11 when four of the alleged NCAA violations occurred, and from which his current employment issue currently stems:
Vaughn, who was an assistant at Ole Miss six years ago, may have been implicated in part of the NCAA allegations recently levied against Ole Miss.
Vaughn coached for the Rebels from 2008 to 2011 and served as the team’s defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Sources tell Horns247 the facts against Vaughn “were damning.”
And then there’s this ominous-sounding Twitter update from Brian Davis of the Austin-American Statesman:
Vaughn has spent the past two seasons with Charlie Strong and the Longhorns, and has been a key recruiting component for the program. In between his stints at Ole Miss and Texas, Vaughn was the cornerbacks coach at Memphis from 2012-13.