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.
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.