Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston had three touchdowns to Kelvin Benjamin as No. 2 Florida State (12-0, 8-0 ACC) blew out Florida (4-8, 3-5 SEC) in Gainesville, 37-7. Florida State now heads to the ACC Championship Game, where a win will more than likely clinch a spot in the BCS Championship Game.
In his final regular season game of the year, Winston completed 19 of 31 pass attempts for 327 yards and three touchdowns, and he was intercepted once in the first half. It was a slow start for Winston and the Florida State offense, but they found their rhythm in plenty of time to take firm control of the game against a weakened Florida team. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher did not let Winston lose his composure either in the second half, grabbing Winston by the face mask to get in his ear when tensions seemed to be rising on the field. The objective is clear for Florida State is clear right now. Take care of what you can on the field and win one more game. There is no need to get caught up in nonsense at this point of the game and season, and keeping a young player like Winston focused on that ultimate goal is good coaching, especially considering all fo the off-field drama floating above Winston.
As far as on-field performance is concerned, Winston did nothing to suggest he should not be the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Another fine performance next week to lead Florida State to an ACC title could be the clincher.
Florida State’s opponent in next week’s ACC Championship Game will be Duke, who hung on for a road win at North Carolina while Florida State’s game was being played. Duke intercepted a late fourth quarter pass to seal a victory in Chapel Hill to clinch the ACC Coastal Division. This will be Florida State’s second straight ACC Championship Game appearance after defeating Georgia Tech last year.
Florida’s season is now complete, and perhaps that is a good thing. The Gators won just four games this season and ended the year with a woeful seven-game losing streak marred by losses to Georgia, Georgia Southern, Vanderbilt and Florida State. The talk about Will Muschamp being on a hot seat may be legitimate, but there has been no indication he could be looking for a job to this point. Florida AD Jeremy Foley has backed Muschamp and Florida did win 11 games last season. There is work to be done, and it appears Muschamp will be there to do it.
Nebraska and Arkansas have met just once on the field, in the 1965 Cotton Bowl. But the Huskers and Hogs have now met twice in the only college athletics competition more cutthroat than the actual games — hiring coaches.
Arkansas famously held off Nebraska for Houston Nutt‘s services in 2004 (before you scoff, Nutt led the Hogs to the 2006 SEC West title, and Nebraska wound up hiring Bill Callahan) and now the Cornhuskers have returned the favor.
Nebraska hired Bob Diaco as its defensive coordinator this week, nabbing the former Connecticut head coach and Notre Dame defensive coordinator after he’d finished an interview with Arkansas. Sean Callahan of Husker Online explains from here:
Head coach Mike Riley said they stopped Diaco’s plane in the air on his way back from Arkansas and got him to fly to Lincoln last Thursday from Chicago. Riley said from there, they weren’t letting Diaco leave Lincoln until he accepted the job.
The money didn’t hurt. Nebraska handed Diaco a 2-year contract worth $1.7 million in total, making him the highest-paid assistant in program history.
Auburn does not have an offensive coordinator yet, which is odd. The Tigers have an explosive offense with a lot of returning parts. They have Jarrett Stidham coming in to play quarterback. They have a boatload of money. And they have a boatload of money.
According to a report from James Crepea of AL.com, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and “people with influence over the program” can’t agree on who should replace Rhett Lashlee.
Malzahn is said to prefer Florida Atlantic offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and NC State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz. Lindsey and Drinkwitz worked for Malzahn previously, and Malzahn has built a working relationship with the Briles family — Stidham and running back Kam Martin transferred from Waco to Auburn, and Art Briles visited a Tigers practice this season.
But Auburn donors, Crepea writes, have nixed those choices, saying Briles is too inexperienced and Lindsey and Drinkwitz are too close to Malzahn.
Instead, donors preferred Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone (who has already been crossed off the list) or Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich (ditto). Mark Helfrich does not seem like a viable option at this time.
With less than two weeks until National Signing Day, the urgency to bring someone to the South Plains only grows stronger.
Undeterred by recent NCAA legislation, Jim Harbaugh is reportedly going international.
As noted by the Detroit Free Press, a post on Rivals affiliate TheWolverine.com reports that Michigan is planning to spend the final week of football spring practice in Rome, Italy. The team would not only practice several times on Italian soil, but would allow the team to visit the sights in the area and even leave players in Europe to study abroad for a semester.
The move would no doubt ruffle even more feathers in the football and NCAA communities after Harbaugh famously took the Wolverines to the IMG Academy down in Florida for spring practice last March. That prompted recent legislation that was passed at the NCAA convention in Nashville this week — a Harbaugh Rule if you will — that prohibited off-campus practice during a vacation period outside of a playing season.
While it would seem that would rule out trips away from Ann Arbor for spring football practices, it appears the Michigan athletic department is going to push forward by exploiting a slight loophole in the language of the rule. While vacation periods may be off limits like spring break, it appears the Wolverines would be looking to leave town at the end of April, which would be after the semester ends and does not fall into any scheduled vacation time.
We’ll see if anything becomes of this report and if Michigan indeed announces such an unprecedented trip. While foreign tours are common in sports like basketball at the NCAA levels, it really hasn’t happened in football aside from occasional games overseas so it will be interesting to see if this becomes a trend, or is just another case of Harbaugh being Harbaugh.
Winning a New Year’s Six bowl and outperforming nearly every preseason expectation typically results in a nice boost to a head coach’s bank account and that is the case at Wisconsin this year.
The Badgers announced on Friday that the school’s athletic board had extended head football coach Paul Chryst another year, running through January 31, 2022. Additional contract terms such as a potential raise or incentives were not announced, meaning this was likely just tacking another year onto the former Wisconsin quarterback’s original deal in Madison.
The move isn’t new for the program, which pulled the same extension almost to the day a year ago after Chryst led the Badgers to a 10-3 year in 2015 that was capped off with a Holiday Bowl victory over USC. The coach one-upped that performance in 2016, winning the Big Ten West title and getting selected for the Cotton Bowl, which the team won over previously undefeated Western Michigan.
Chryst’s original contract he signed two years ago was for a term of five seasons through 2020. He originally made around $2.3 million a year but should be hitting the $2.5 million mark heading into 2017 with various increases incorporated.