Miami Ohio, Cradle of Coaches, gives Chuck Martin five-year contract

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Miami of Ohio has a storied history when it comes to college football coaches. The school that helped introduce names like Ara Parseghian, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Sean Payton and Jim Tressel just to name a few, is now hoping Chuck Martin will be the next legendary coach to help turn the program around. According to the Associated Press, Martin has been signed to a five-year contract.

“It’s great when a plan comes together,” Miami of Ohio director of athletics David Sayler said Wednesday, when the school formally introduced Martin as head coach. “As hard as it was to make a change in the middle of the year, it was done to get a head start and close this thing up as quickly as possible after the season was done.”

Miami fired head coach Don Treadwell after dismal 0-5 start to the season. Assistant coach Mike Bath took over for the remainder of the season but the RedHawks failed to win a single game the entire season. Miami has won just eight games since a 10-win season in 2010. Sayler is optimistic Martin, who has been developing as a coach while serving as offensive coordinator at Notre Dame since 2010 after a stint as head coach of Division 2 football powerhouse Grand Valley State, where he won back-to-back national championships.

“Someone that’s been a sitting head coach and someone that has experience at the Division I level were the two key factors in the process,” Sayler said Wednesday. “We found someone who checked those boxes and then some. From the belief in the academic mission and the things they believe in personally, it was perfect when I first met Chuck.”

The question is whether five years will be enough to turn around a Miami program coming off a year without a win. The answer is likely yes in the MAC, where teams always seem to have some quick turnarounds. Miami’s location also seems to be a strength according to Martin when it comes to recruiting.

“We want to get a lot of really good players,” Martin said confidently with a smile Wednesday. “We’re in the top state in the Midwest as far as football talent and passion for the game goes. I want players that love to play the game. Is he a person that wants to play in a championship and be in that moment, that’s the type of student-athletes we want in the program.”

It was an up and down year for new coaches in the MAC in 2012. Kent State’s Paul Haynes went 4-8 in his first season on the job following the departure of Darrell Hazell (Purdue). Western Michigan slugged through a 1-11 season in P.J. Fleck‘s first year on the job, dropping three more games than they did in 2012. Northern Illinois lost Dave Doeren to North Carolina State, but is on track for a return trip to the BCS if they can complete a 13-0 season with a MAC Championship Game victory against Bowling green this week in Rod Carey‘s first season as head coach.

“Sometimes it takes a day to build a mountain, sometimes it takes longer,” Martin said. “If we stick to the process and get the right people involved in our program, we’ll get to where we want to be.”

Photo courtesy: Miami Ohio Athletics

Miami defense shutting down Pitt; Hurricanes lead 23-3 at half

Brad Kaaya

It may be hard to believe, but Miami is in position to end the season with nine wins. That assumes, of course, the Hurricanes avoid a second half meltdown against Pittsburgh and close out the year with a bowl win. For now, Miami should be feeling pretty good as the Hurricanes have stomped Pitt in the first half of an early kickoff in western Pennsylvania. Miami took a 23-3 lead into the half.

Miami has more than doubled the total offensive production of the Panthers, outgaining Pitt at halftime 248 yards to 102. The Panthers have just 36 passing yards and 66 rushing yards in the half. Pitt also had a turnover with Nathan Peterman having a pass picked off by Artie Burns.

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 166 yards, with Rashawn Scott on the receiving end of the touchdown play and leading the team with 50 receiving yards. Miami’s Joseph Yardley leads all players with 64 rushing yards. Pitt’s star receiver, Tyler Boyd, has just one catch for eight yards.

Houston takes halftime lead on Navy in AAC West winner-takes-all contest

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If Houston is going to slow down Navy’s offense, keeping it off the field is a good way to go about it. In a battle for the American Athletic Conference West Division title, and home field advantage in the AAC Championship Game, Houston has used methodic ball control to its advantage and leads the Midshipmen 24-14 at halftime. Greg Ward Jr.‘s five-yard touchdown run gave the home team the lead just minutes after Houston successfully converted a fourth down and short after a timeout.

Houston took the game’s opening possession 82 yards for a touchdown after 13 plays for an early lead. Greg Ward Jr. completed a short pass to Steven Dunbar from five yards out for the score, but Navy answered with a touchdown drive on their opening possession. Keenan Reynolds ripped off a 52-yard run and later capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.

Houston again put together a lengthy and time-consuming touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. The Cougars took 13 plays to move 76 yards for a score, this time seeing Brandon Wilson complete the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead. The two teams exchanged punts before Navy once again tied the game with Reynolds completing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jamir Tillman.

Report: Washington State QB Luke Falk won’t play in Apple Cup

Luke Falk
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Earlier this week it was looking as though Washington State quarterback Luke Falk might be available to play Washington in this year’s edition of the Apple Cup. Now the outlook is not so good.

According to a report from Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times, Washington State will start Peyton Bender at quarterback against the Huskies. Falk, who is recovering form a concussion last week, is not expected to dress for the game. It will be the first start of the redshirt freshman’s career. Bender has appeared in four games this season serving as Falk’s backup. In his limited playing time, Bender has completed 17 of 33 pass attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He has been picked off twice.

The loss of Falk is certainly a blow to Washington State’s offense, although we will see if Mike Leach has a system in place where he can plug in a quarterback and still get the production through the air as has been the case during his career. There is no word on whether or not Falk will be available for the bowl season, although that would seem to look possible given more time to recover from a concussion.

NCAA denies sixth-year for Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt

Terrel Hunt

Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt will not get a sixth year of eligibility. The NCAA has denied a request to extend Hunt’s eligibility by one more year, Syracuse announced today.

Hunt had his 2014 and 2015 seasons cut short due to injuries. A broken leg in 2014 forced Hunt to miss the final seven games of the season. An Achilles tendon injury against Rhode Island in the 2015 season opener has sidelined Hunt for the entire 2015 season, effectively.

“Obviously, it’s very disappointing but I want to thank my teammates, coaches and all the Syracuse fans who have supported me through this process and during my time here,” Hunt said in a statement shared by Syracuse athletics. “Even though my career didn’t turn how I thought it would, I still have a lot of great memories that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

“Right now I’m focused on my rehab and on finishing graduate school. I’m getting better every day and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to continue my career at the professional level.”

Hunt’s Syracuse career will end with 2,621 passing yards and 24 touchdowns (11 passing, 13 rushing).