Gus Malzahn

Sportswriters name Auburn’s Gus Malzahn coach of the year


After guiding Auburn from a three-win season to the SEC championship and shot at a BCS championship, Gus Malzahn was named this year’s recipient of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award by the Football Writers Association of America.

“Certainly, the job Coach Malzahn has done this year warrants this award,” said FWAA President Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times. “It is one of the best turnarounds in college football history and to do it in the first year at a school even adds to the accomplishment.”

Malzahn was helped along the way by a couple of miraculous plays, against Georgia and Alabama, but the Tigers developed a powerful running game that few teams stand a chance of slowing down. Auburn got better as the season unfolded, and they hit their stride at the right time to leap past Alabama in the SEC West and pull away from Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. With a little luck on their side in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, Auburn slid right in to the BCS Championship Game against all odds at the start of the season.

“This is a huge honor, and I’m very humbled to be named the recipient of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award,” Malzahn said upon hearing the news. “I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Robinson and looked up to him as a coach and as an individual. I accept this award on behalf of our entire coaching staff and players, which have done an outstanding job this year getting our program turned around.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the FWAA but apparently missed the deadline to cast my vote. If I had gotten my vote in, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe would have been at the top of my ballot, but Malzahn has as strong a case as nay of the finalists for the award. Turning around Auburn was bound to happen for Malzahn, but few could have guessed his first year on the job would have gone quite this well. Cutcliffe did win the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award.

Malzahn is the third coach to win the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award in his first season on the job at a  school, joining former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen in 2001 and Tom Cahill at Army in 1966. He is also the second coach from Auburn to win the award, joining Tommy Tuberville, now at Cincinnati.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly won the award in 2012. Alabama’s Nick Saban was the last SEC coach to win the award, doing so in 2008.

Gamecocks WR Pharoh Cooper turning pro, says father

Pharoh Cooper
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South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper will play his final collegiate game this Saturday against Clemson. The junior wide receiver will not return for his senior season in Columbia and will instead enter the 2016 NFL Draft, according to his father.

“He definitely appreciates the opportunity to play for South Carolina, and we as parents appreciate the opportunity they gave him,” Cooper’s father, Glen Cooper, said in a story for The Slate. “He wants to ride the wave at its high point.”

According to The Slate report, Cooper’s decision to turn pro was more about what kind of potential he is believed to have entering the NFL next season and not the coaching change underway with the Gamecocks. Steve Spurrier resigned as head coach during the season and South Carolina will have a new coach in 2016, which is still to be determined. And he does have the pro potential. Josh Norris of RotoWorld ranks Cooper as the eighth-best wide receiver in the NFL Draft Class of 2016. Cooper also wanted to avoid risking an injury in 2016 before taking the next step toward the NFL, which can tend to be a wise choice for so many players given the uncertainty revolving around the sport.

Cooper leads South Carolina with 887 yards and seven touchdowns this season. With South Carolina out of postseason contention, Cooper will likely fall shy of his 2014 total of 1,136 yards (if he matches that, good night to Clemson’s title hopes), but he could have a chance to tie his team-leading nine touchdown mark from a season ago.

Gary Patterson wants a six or eight-team playoff

Gary Patterson

Last year TCU’s Gary Patterson took the high road when his 11-1 Horned Frogs, declared co-champions of the Big 12 with Baylor, were passed over by Ohio State for the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoff. While he may not have been happy about the end result of the first playoff selection process, TCU took care of sending a message by hammering Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. Fast forward to today. Patterson and TCU are nowhere close to being in the playoff discussion now with two losses, but the head coach in Fort Worth knows his conference is at risk of being left out of the playoff fun for a second straight season, and he is backing a call for expansion of the playoff field.

“I’m not going to be a person who’s going to be an advocate of the four after this season,” Patterson said (you can see video of Patterson’s full comments via The Star-Telegram). “I think you need to take the winner of all five [power conferences] and then you have an at-large or three more and have either a six or an eight [team playoff]. I think we need to take people’s opinions out of it and what you do during a season is what gives you the opportunity to play into it. Then I think it’s a lot easier. ThenI think a lot of people would be a lot happier.”

The playoff rankings will be updated later tonight, and one spot will open up after Ohio State was knocked down by Michigan State this past weekend. That spot may not go to the Big 12 as the season draws to a close however, as Iowa is undefeated and Michigan State has a pretty strong one-loss argument to make as well, leaving Oklahoma and Baylor wondering where exactly each will fall in the updated rankings (Oklahoma has a shot of sneaking into the top four, it should be recognized). We already knew one power conference was going to be left out with five power conferences and just four spots to fill. Notre Dame remaining in the playoff picture makes things a bit more nervous for conferences on the fringe like the Big 12 (and the Big Ten), and could also spark expansion of the playoff field sooner than the College Football Playoff would have you believe.

The bottom line is this. There is no perfect way of crowning a college football champion, and there likely never will be. However, if the Big 12 is left out once again while another one or two one-loss teams get a spot, then the Big 12 should start gathering support and finding allies to fight for playoff expansion as soon as possible.

Big 12 releases 2016 schedule; no byes for Texas, Texas Tech or Kansas

James Washington, Ryan Reid

After seeing its conference co-champs left out of the College Football Playoff last season, the Big 12 arranged the schedule to showcase what were to be its biggest contests of the 2015 season toward the back of the schedule this fall. That may end up paying off for Oklahoma, Baylor or Oklahoma State. Next year will be a bit of a different story though, as the Big 12’s 2016 schedule (released today) will spread out some of the expected marquee games. That will include having Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all in action on what will be championship Saturday in the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.

The Big 12 conference schedule will open on September 17 with TCU hosting Iowa State and continue the following week with a nice little matchup between Baylor and Oklahoma State in Waco. The Big 12 schedule starts to pick up the pace on October 1 with a full slate of conference games, including Oklahoma visiting TCU and Oklahoma State hosting Texas. The traditional Red River Shootout Rivalry in Dallas between Oklahoma and Texas is scheduled for October 8.

All Big 12 action will conclude on December 3 with three games, including the annual Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. This year that game will determine the Big 12 champion. Baylor and TCU will meet on November 5, and Baylor will visit Oklahoma the following week.

The Texas Longhorns will once again play on Thanksgiving when they host TCU for what should end up being a Thursday night game in Austin. Baylor and Texas Tech will face off in Arlington the following day, a day after the Dallas Cowboys host their traditional Thanksgiving football feast. Kansas State hosts Kansas and Iowa State will host West Virginia for the only two Big 12 games that Saturday.

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury may not be too happy with the schedule. Just like this season, the Red Raiders will not be given a bye week during Big 12 play. From October 1 against Kansas through November 26 against Baylor, Texas Tech gets no time off to prepare for a conference opponent. Neither does Kansas or Texas.

The Big 12 uses a nine-game conference schedule, which allows for every school to play every other team in the conference. Of course, there is no Big 12 championship game. You can see the full Big 12 conference schedule here.

One more year for Bill Snyder at Kansas State?

Bill Snyder
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It might be hard to imagine a college football world without Bill Snyder on the sidelines at Kansas State. In fact, Snyder made his return to the Wildcats in some of the earliest days of College Football Talk (we’ve grown up so much over that time). With the coaching carousel in full operation, including a retirement of Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, UCF’s George O’Leary and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, it does not appear Kansas State’s head coach will join the list of retired coaches just yet.

According to a report from Football Scoop on Tuesday afternoon, Snyder intends on returning to coach in 2016. The 76-year old head coach is not naive to not know his time in charge of the program will come to an end soon, but you have to admire his devotion to the program even in his older years. And you know what, he still can get the job done as a head coach even though Kansas State is not exactly a national championship contender or even a Big 12 contender this season.

Or is this a part of plan to keep the Snyder family in charge of the Wildcats football program? Dan Wolken of USA Today shared a thought about this news which noted one of the rumors regarding the future of the program that has been discussed before.

So we shall see what unfolds at Kansas State. The Wildcats have struggled a bit this season, and there may be a benefit to finding a successor to Snyder now if you are Kansas State. But every time Kansas State has been knocked down, Snyder seems to find a way to bounce back.