Dabo Swinney

Clemson, Auburn benefit from Top-Five losses in coaches’ poll

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Baylor and Oregon’s on-field losses turned into Clemson and Auburn’s poll gain.

Clemson and Auburn each moved up two spots and into the Top Five of the USA Today coaches’ poll, the former to No. 4 and the latter to No. 5.  The ACC Tigers are back in the Top Five for the first time since their Week 8 loss to Florida State, while the SEC Tigers are back in that group for the first time since winning the BCS title following the 2010 season.

Those two teams were on a bye (Auburn) and beat an FCS team (Citadel) and moved up a pair of spots apiece.  Oklahoma State beat the No. 3 team in the country by 32 points and moved up the same two spots, from No. 9 to No. 7.  For a reason why such a win didn’t carry more weight than a weekend off and a glorified scrimmage, you’d have to ask the football support staff sports information department coaches.

The slotting of the Cowboys is particularly curious when you consider the team they blew out, Baylor, dropped just five and into the No. 8 spot right behind OSU.  Oregon, though, took a serious hit for the egg they laid against Arizona, exiting Week 13 at No. 12 after entering it No. 5.

The first three teams remain unchanged from a week ago: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Ohio State.  The first-place votes remained the same from last week as well, with the Tide claiming 56 and the Seminoles the other six.  The Buckeyes actually gained ground on the ‘Noles, closing the gap between second and third from 83 points after Week 12 to 60 after Week 13.  Barring an FSU loss, however, it’s inconceivable OSU would leapfrog them into the No. 2 hole prior to the release of the final BCS standings early next month.

The remainder of the Top 10 consists of No. 6 Missouri, No. 9 South Carolina and No. 10 Stanford, all up two positions from their standing a week ago.

Fresno State received a boost to its BCS-busting hopes, climbing deeper into the Top 16 to No. 13 (from No. 16) and on the verge of a Top-12 spot that, if it’s mirrored by the final BCS rankings, would guarantee the Bulldogs a BCS bowl.  Fellow BCS buster hopeful Northern Illinois inched up a spot to No. 20.  Along with the top three teams in the coaches’ poll, those two teams are the only remaining unbeatens at the FBS level.

UCF is No. 19, the lowest-ranked of the projected winners of the six automatic-qualifying conferences.  If UCF remains outside the Top 16, the highest-ranked non-AQ school inside that number would receive a BCS berth without having to worry about a Top-12 placement.

LSU and Arizona State are the biggest upward movers of the week, with each climbing four positions.  The Tigers are now at No. 15 and the Sun Devils at No. 18.

LSU is also the highest-ranked three-loss team, while South Carolina is the highest-ranked two-loss squad.

An SEC team, though, also took the biggest hit of the week.  Texas A&M, No. 10 a week ago, took a precipitous drop to No. 21.  UCLA was another big rankings loser, going from No. 14 to No. 22.

Cincinnati is the only new addition to the coaches’ Top 25, coming in at No. 25.  Minnesota, which debuted last week at No. 23, dropped out.

Coaches' Poll Week 13

Ole Miss QB Ryan Buchanan opts to quit football

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 22:  Ryan Buchanan #9 of the Ole Miss Rebels throws a pass in the fourth quarter of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Rebels 30-0.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Ole Miss had already lost one quarterback to a transfer the past couple of months.  Now, the Rebels are losing another via different means but essentially for the same reason.

In an interview with Scout.com, Ryan Buchanan confirmed that not only is he leaving the Ole Miss football team, but he’s leaving the sport, period.  Buchanan’s decision to step away from the game is actually the culmination of a process that began midway through a 2015 season that would see the Rebels win 10 games and a Sugar Bowl title.

“I came to the conclusion a few months ago that football would not be my future and it was time to start applying myself 100% to my future,” he said. “It’s time for me to find my passion beyond football.”

Buchanan, who said he briefly flirted with transferring to another school, informed head coach Hugh Freeze and his position coach, Dan Werner, of his decision a couple of weeks ago.

If Buchanan had decided to return to Oxford, he would’ve been no better than third on the depth chart. All-SEC quarterback Chad Kelly is firmly entrenched as the starter, while five-star 2015 signee and future at the position Shea Patterson is poised to be Kelly’s backup for a season before taking over the reins in 2017. There’s also no guarantee that the sophomore could beat out redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin for the No. 3 spot.

A four-star member of the Rebels’ 2013 recruiting class, Buchanan was rated as the No. 19 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Mississippi.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Buchanan attempted 22 passes and served as Ole Miss’ holder on kick attempts in 2014.  This past season, he attempted 13 passes, two of which went for touchdowns.

In early December, DeVante Kincade, a three-star recruit in Buchanan’s class, announced his decision to transfer from the Rebels.

Arkansas loses RBs coach to NFL for second straight year

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - SEPTEMBER 5:  Head Coach Bret Bielema of the Arkansas Razorbacks talks with a official during a game against the UTEP Miners at Razorback Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Miners 48-13.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Whatever the reason, the big boy league of football has taken a shining to one particular position on Bret Bielema‘s Arkansas coaching staff.

On Instagram Friday night, Jemal Singleton confirmed that he will be leaving Bielema’s football program.  While he didn’t specify it in his post, the running backs coach will be leaving for the same job with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

The 40-year-old Singleton had spent just one season coaching that same position with the Razorbacks.

A photo posted by coachsings (@coachsings) on Feb 5, 2016 at 5:23pm PST

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This marks the second straight year that Bielema will be forced to replace a running backs coach to the NFL.  Almost a year to the day, Joel Thomas left Fayetteville for the same position with the New Orleans Saints.

Thomas owed the university $50,000 as part of his buyout last year; Singleton will owe $100,000, per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  If Singleton had waited until Feb. 16, that buyout figure would’ve been halved.

Unlike the post right before this one, there were signs of an impending on and around National Signing Day earlier this week.

He was notably absent from a signing day event at Walton Arena on Wednesday, and he did not attend another event to discuss the signing class Thursday in Little Rock, fueling speculation he was being courted by another program.

Singleton’s job with the Colts will be the Air Force graduate’s first at the NFL level.

Nebraska ‘parts ways’ with DL coach Hank Hughes

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 5: Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Mike Riley points out a missed call during their game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Memorial Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Surprisingly, Mike Riley has a self-made hole on his Nebraska coaching staff.

In a move that wasn’t on most if any radars, Hank Hughes will not return in 2016 as NU’s defensive line coach, Riley revealed Friday.  No reason was given for the the departure of the assistant.

“I want to thank Hank for his hard work and contributions to our football program over the past year,” Riley said in a statement. “We continue to build our program with the pursuit of championships always at the forefront of everything we do, and we will look for a great coach, teacher and recruiter to enhance our defense.”

Regardless of the reason or reasons — and the fact that Riley made certain to note that a replacement would be “a great coach, teacher and recruiter” points to at least a couple — it wasn’t an expected development. From the Lincoln Journal Star:

There was no sign of such a move Thursday night, with Hughes present at the Big Red Bash that celebrated the 2016 recruiting class.

Hughes had just completed his first season with the Cornhuskers. Additionally, it was his first season as an assistant on a Riley-led coaching staff.

As the Journal Star notes, Hughes was in the midst of a two-year deal that was to pay him $300,000 annually.

Surgery will KO UGA LB Roquan Smith for spring

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12:  Darrius Sims #6 of the Vanderbilt Commodores is tackled by Johnathan Abram #25, Natrez Patrick #6, and Roquan Smith #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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If Roquan Smith is to win a starting linebacking job as some project, he’ll have to do so coming from behind.

Georgia confirmed in a press release Friday that the linebacker underwent successful surgery last month to repair a damaged wrist.  As a result, Smith (pictured, No. 3) will be sideline for all of the 15 spring practice sessions that will commence next month.

The good news is that, according to UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson, “[a] full recovery is anticipated and he [is] expected to fully participate in summer workouts.” Additionally, there should be no limitations placed on Smith’s participation in summer camp that will kick off the beginning of August.

Smith was a four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 77 recruit overall according to Rivals.com. He was one of the highest-rated players in UGA’s class.

As a true freshman, Smith played in 12 games. He was named as one of the football program’s five Newcomers of the Year following the 2015 season.