As has been the case more often this year than in pretty much any other in recent memory, an athletic director is standing behind an embattled head coach.
The most recent example is West Virginia’s Oliver Luck, who released a statement Tuesday confirming that Dana Holgorsen will return as the Mountaineers’ head coach in 2014. The decision came after the athletic director and coach “met at length and reviewed this past season.”
“In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect,” Luck’s statement read, in part.
Left unmentioned by Luck was Holgorsen’s hefty buyout.
Reportedly, it would cost the university in excess of $11 million for Holgersen alone if he were fired without cause — and that doesn’t include buyouts for current assistants along with hiring an entire new staff. While the move from the Big East to the Big 12 was made in large part for the additional conference revenue, the financial hit the athletic department would take for cleaning house is much too prohibitive — especially for an athletic department that’s still not receiving a full share of league revenue.
After going 10-3 his first season in 2011, Holgorsen has gone 7-6 and 4-8 in the Mountaineers’ first two seasons in the Big 12.
Below is the full text of Luck’s statement:
First, I want to thank all Mountaineer fans who supported our football team through a difficult and trying season. Though there were some high points this year, including our upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State and the inspired play from many first year student-athletes, there were far too many disappointments.
We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field. Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season. We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program. We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.
I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing. In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.
We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.
Coach Holgorsen and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, securing the future for a successful Mountaineer football program. We need to do our part as well by continuing to move forward with the facility improvements needed to compete at the highest level in our conference.
We have high expectations for the 2014 football team, and I have shared those with Coach Holgorsen. He and his staff are eager to get started to prepare for our opening game against Alabama. We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do.
We have tremendous student-athletes in our program and a very accomplished core of coaches who want to bring championships back to West Virginia University. We will do all we can to help them in that endeavor, and I ask for your continued support as we move forward to a brighter future.
In September it was reported that a 2016 Cal-Hawaii game in Australia was a “strong likelihood.” Two months later, that strong likelihood has come to fruition.
Earlier Saturday, both Cal and Hawaii sent out releases confirming that the two football programs will square off in 2016 in Sydney. The game, which will be called the Sydney College Football Cup, will be played at the 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium in New South Wales that was built for the 2000 Summer Olympics.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience for our student-athletes and an excellent opportunity to see and learn about another culture,” Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “We are proud to represent the University of California at this historic event. A great deal of hard work by many people has gone into making this a reality, and everyone associated with Cal Athletics is excited to take part in it.
“It is a great day for college football and all the fans of our sport. It shows the popularity college football is gaining, and we’re ready to help further introduce the sport to many more fans.”
This contest will be the first college football game to ever be played in Sydney and the first in Australia since games in Melbourne — Wyoming-UTEP in 1985 and BYU-Colorado State in 1987.
Cal has previously played outside of the United States just once, in Japan in 1987 against Washington State. This will mark UH’s first-ever game outside the country.
“The University of Hawai‘i is thrilled for this wonderful opportunity to open the 2016 college football season in Sydney against the University of California, Berkeley,” UH athletic director David Matlin said in his statement. “Our football program has tremendous pride in not only representing the state of Hawai‘i, but all of the Pacific region. From a cultural perspective, this game will afford our student-athletes an experience they will always remember and give most of them the chance to travel outside the United States for the first time in their lives. Traditionally, the University of Hawai‘i has been fortunate to welcome many student-athletes from Australia and we hope this game opens doors for many more.”
Those within the college football industry said Whit Babcock and Virginia Tech would be the first major program with a head coaching vacancy to make a hire. It appears they were correct.
As his team beats SMU down something fierce, reports indicate Memphis head coach Justin Funete is on his way out the door for Blacksburg.
Fuente, 39, arrived from TCU following the 2011 season and brought Memphis out of the college football abyss and into the national consciousness. The Tigers went 7-17 in Fuente’s first two seasons, then skyrocketed to 10-3 with a share of the American Athletic Conference championship in 2014 and a (soon to be) 9-3 mark in 2015.
Memphis opened this season 8-0 — running its overall win streak to 15 games — with a win over Ole Miss, rising as high as No. 13 in the College Football Playoff poll.
In Virginia Tech, Fuente inherits a program many described as the best current opening outside of USC, as the Hokies battle for Virginia for a berth in their 23rd straight bowl game.
And keeping around one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the business? That’s a heck of a start to get the Hokies back on top again.
Tonight’s game against Texas A&M will reportedly be Les Miles‘ last at LSU. Unless it’s not, depending on who or which reports you want to believe.
Regardless, speculation has been rampant that, if/when LSU pulls the trigger and dismisses Miles, their No. 1 target by far is Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. The former LSU offensive coordinator has publicly brushed aside the speculation of late, but now is reportedly telling those in positions of power at his current university that he has no intentions of leaving.
From a report by the Palm Beach Post‘s Tom D’Angelo:
Jimbo Fisher met with Florida State president John Thrasher this week and told Thrasher he does not have to worry about losing his head coach.
Sources have told the Post that Fisher, whose name has been connected to the expected opening at LSU, has made it clear he is happy with the administration, the support he receives and the direction of the program, and has no intentions of leaving Florida State for another coaching job at this time.
It seems likely that Miles’ time in Baton Rouge is quickly coming to an end, even as an ESPN report intimates that he could save his job with a win today, as does FootballScoop.com. It doesn’t appear, though, that Fisher will be riding in on his white horse to “save” the Tigers football program if Miles is jettisoned.
Then again, Nick Saban was not going to be the head coach at Alabama before he was, sooo…
No. 8 Ohio State leads No. 10 Michigan 14-10 at the break in Ann Arbor.
Ohio State struck first with a seven-play, 94-yard march late in the first quarter, aided by a highly questionable flag. The Wolverines had forced a Buckeyes punt from their own 9, but a roughing the kicker call, on a play where Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston didn’t appear to make contact with a Wolverine, kept the drive alive. Ezekiel Elliott broke free for a 66-yard run to plays after the flag, and J.T. Barrett scored from seven yards out two plays later.
After mounting drives of 43 and 28 yards on its first two possessions, Michigan answered Ohio State’s score with a short field goal. The Wolverines moved to the Buckeyes’ 6 until two straight incomplete passes forced a 25-yard Kenny Allen field goal at the 9:25 mark of the second quarter.
Ohio State immediately answered, moving 75 yards in nine snaps — all but the first carries by Barrett or Elliott — to push the lead to 14-3 with 5:01 remaining before the half. Michigan, though, answered that answer with a five-yard Jake Rudock touchdown pass to Jehu Chesson on 3rd-and-2 with one minute remaining.
Rudock threw 24 times in the half, completing 14 for 178 yards and a touchdown. Jabrill Peppers led the Wolverines with five rushes for 21 yards and two grabs for 25 yards. Chesson caught four passes for 53 yards and a score, and Jake Butt nabbed three grabs for 43 yards.
Elliott charged Ohio State with 10 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown, while Barrett rushed eight times for 64 yards and a touchdown while completing 3-of-6 throws for 18 yards.
Ohio State will receive to open the second half.