Charlie Strong is Bovada’s betting favorite for Texas job

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Personally, I don’t in any way, shape of form see it happening.  However, Bovada.lv has a very intriguing name atop its list of potential replacements for Mack Brown at Texas.

According to the gambling website, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong is a prohibitive 2/1 favorite to move on to Austin and take on the task of leading the Longhorns.  Strong is finishing up his fourth season with the Cardinals, and has seen his name connected to various high-profile openings during that time.

The Longhorns, however, are a different animal entirely.  At UT, the head football coach is tasked with dealing with an intense media spotlight, which pales in comparison to the politics involved in the job.  Strong hasn’t shown a penchant for suffering either tasks — and could be biding his time for the Florida job to come open — so his inclusion on any list let alone as the favorite is certainly head-scratching.  Could Vegas know something most everyone else doesn’t?  That’s entirely possible, but still seems highly unlikely.

At least in his talks with the media, Strong insists he’s not thinking about the UT speculation.

I don’t even think about it,” Strong according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I don’t even worry about it. I have a good job here. I have a really good job here. There’s a lot of work to be done here. The only thing I can control is what’s happening right here.”

While that may appear to be a hedge of some sorts, Strong, the former Florida defensive coordinator, flat-out denied any interest to a member of the media in that part of the country.

Three names that would be considered more likely on most levels immediately follow Strong: Baylor’s Art Briles (9/2), Vanderbilt’s James Franklin (5/1) and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (7/1).  Of that trio, Briles and Gundy are the most intriguing, given their ties to the talent-rich recruiting fields of Texas.  Not only would each be considered a home-run hire based on coaching ability alone, but would also serve to weaken a conference rival.

Two NFL coaches with recent success in the Pac-12 are also mentioned, with Chip Kelly and his show-cause at 10/1 and Jim Harbaugh at 20/1.  The latter has already reportedly denied interest in the opening, while Kelly’s departure from Oregon and the NCAA cloud that would greet him upon his return to the collegiate level would seemingly make him a non-starter in UT’s search.

Asked directly about the Texas rumors, Kelly stated Monday that “I havent spoken to anybody, nor will I speak to anybody.”

Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, at 20/1, is the only other NFL head coach mentioned.

While Florida State fans won’t want to hear it, there are growing rumblings that Jimbo Fisher could be in play as well.  The coach who replaced the legendary Bobby Bowden at FSU is listed with 15/1 odds by Bovada, with the media continuing to push him as a realistic replacement for Brown at UT.

The respected Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com is one of those who thinks more people should be paying attention to the burnt-orange smoke swirling around Fisher.

I’m surprised these odds aren’t stronger in Fisher’s favor. FSU dropped the ball not raising Fisher’s pay after last season. Will he remember that when UT calls? FSU has tried to ease concerns with a recent extension to $4.25 million per year, and my guess is the Seminoles will fight to keep their guy. Win or lose in Pasadena, Fisher’s roster for 2014 will be loaded and will be hard to leave.

Below is the complete list of odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

Charlie Strong 2/1
Art Briles 9/2
James Franklin 5/1
Mike Gundy 7/1
Bill O’Brien 15/2
Chip Kelly 10/1
David Shaw 10/1
Jim Mora 10/1
Jimbo Fisher 15/1
Jim Harbaugh 20/1
Mike Tomlin 20/1

Virginia Tech defends decision to put Michael Vick in Hokies Hall of Fame

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Athletically, there is no question Michael Vick belongs in Virginia Tech’s athletics hall of fame. Heck, the Hokies might as well name the thing after him.

In his two seasons on campus, Vick (pictured, left) threw for 3,299 yards and 21 touchdowns — averaging 9.6 yards per attempt on 56 percent completions, in an era where anything over 50 was considered above-average — while adding an electrifying 1,299 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Vick led the Hokies to a 22-2 record, a Big East championship and appearance in the BCS national title game as a redshirt freshman in 1999, a campaign that saw him finish third in Heisman Trophy voting.

He was essentially a combination of Vince YoungJohnny Manziel and Allen Iverson, in a time when the I-formation and pocket passers still ruled college football.

But there is, of course, the non-football side of Vick’s life.

In the prime of his career — he came 26 passing yards short of a 2,500/1,000 season in 2007 — Vick’s NFL career essentially ended when he was convicted of running a dogfighting ring and served 21 months in federal prison. And all throughout that time, Virginia Tech was tangentially related to the biggest villain in sports.

Still, Virginia Tech announced earlier this month that Vick was a member of its 5-person 2017 Sports Hall of Fame class, to be inducted on Friday, Sept. 22. Vick’s inclusion generation a petition that has drawn more than 2,500 signatures protesting the decision.

“You know one of my friends volunteered to go down to his residence where all of this took place at the aftermath to help with the cleanup, if you want to put it that way,” Virginia Tech graduate and petition creator Jennifer Breeden told Collegiate Times. “It’s just kind of an embarrassment that (Virginia Tech) would want to honor someone like that.”

Arguing that Vick has paid his debt to society and shown remorse for his actions, Virginia Tech on Friday released the following statement saying that Vick will remain in the 2017 class.

Mr. Vick’s induction into the university’s sports hall of fame acknowledges his tremendous achievements as a student athlete—who some will say was the greatest in the history of the university.

We understand that there are those who do not and will never agree with this decision.

In considering Mr. Vick’s nomination to our sports hall of fame, the criminal activities in which he engaged, his subsequent conviction, and time he served for his crime were also considered.

And it was informed by the remorse he has shown since that conviction, the work he is currently engaged in to advance animal welfare issues, as well as his efforts to help our current student athletes, based on lessons he’s learned in his own life, make positive choices as they begin their adult lives.

This in no way condones the actions for which he was convicted.

The university remains dedicated to the protection of animal health and welfare and embodies great care and compassion for all living animals.

It’ll be interesting to see the reaction Vick gets at the Hokies’ Sept. 23 home game against Old Dominion.

Michigan pulls recruiting director away from former Michigan coach’s staff

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Michigan is set to add Arizona recruiting czar Matt Dudek as its new director of recruiting, according to a report from FootballScoop on Saturday.

CBS Sports’s Dennis Dodd confirmed the report, adding that Michigan is expected to formally announce the move at Big Ten media days on Monday.

The irony, of course, is that Dudek will leave the staff of former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.

Dudek had been with Rodriguez shortly after his late 2011 hiring, first as on-campus recruiting coordinator and player personnel director before being named college football’s first general manager after the 2015 season. He helped the Wildcats win the 2014 Pac-12 South championship and was named a finalist for FootballScoop‘s Player Personnel Director of the Year award multiple times. (Disclaimer: I also write for FootballScoop.)

Prior to Arizona, Dudek worked as director of football branding and events at Rutgers and as assistant director of football operations and recruiting coordinator at Pittsburgh.

At Michigan, Dudek will join a staff that already recruits quite capably under head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines have finished eighth and fifth nationally in 247Sports‘s composite team rankings in Harbaugh’s two full cycles as Michigan’s head coach.

Dudek’s departure will be viewed by some as an anti-show of faith in Rodriguez’s tenure at Arizona. Since that 10-4, top-20 season in 2014, the Wildcats have slipped to 7-6 in 2015 and 3-9 last fall.

WATCH: Mark Richt takes annual backflip off the high dive

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It’s been quite the summer for Mark Richt. His 2018 recruiting class is one of the best in the nation, he taught the nation the most efficient way to eat a sandwich, and on Friday he executed his annual high-dive backflip at a Hurricanes pool party.

(In case you haven’t seen the sandwich bit, watch it below. It’ll change your life.)

As SB Nation catalogues, Richt has made these backflips an annual thing since he was at Georgia in 2015. It was a skill he learned, he says, to impress the ladies after watching Greg Louganis (yes, that Greg Louganis) do it while they were students at Miami.

Richt and Louganis both enrolled at the University of Miami in 1978, and the future Hurricanes’ coach and his teammates would hang out at the university’s pool, where Louganis and the diving team would practice.

“We would watch him,” Richt said. “You’d go to the pool, because that’s where the girls were, right? So we’d watch the divers work out and say, that guy’s pretty good. Turns out he was the best in the world, like, ever. I had a lot of respect for him.”

Here’s this year’s effort.

Not bad for a guy pushing 60.

Nick Saban thinks skipping bowl games could lead to recruits doing same thing in high school

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Grand Poobah of college football and Alabama head coach Nick Saban has had some interesting ideas about the sport over the years that conflict with the general consensus of his peers. The latest subject to fit that mold? How players like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey skipping their bowl games could filter down to the high school level with recruits.

“Same thing will happen in high school if they make the signing day before the season,” Saban told CBS Sports. “It will take a few years, then some kid will say, ‘Hey, I’m going to Notre Dame. I’m not playing my senior year.'”

The Crimson Tide coach is referencing not only the two tailbacks skipping bowl games but also the possibility that upcoming December signing date could be moved up on the calendar. Big 12 commissioner (and chairman of the Football Oversight Committee) Bob Bowlsby said at his conference media days that the date for signing could be changed or even extended to a longer signing period as part of ongoing discussions about the recruiting process.

Talk of players signing with a college prior to their senior season in high school has not been broadly talked about by coaches or administrators but it does seem like everything is on the table when it comes to NCAA reforms in this area. It remains to be seen if any recruit will actually go as far as sitting out a full year in order to protect himself from injury in order to play in college… just as it remains questionable as to whether Fournette and McCaffrey’s decisions will develop into a broader trend at the college level.

Coaches are no fans of dramatically altering the status quo and it seems Saban is among the group who want to stem the postseason defection of players before things turn into a regular occurrence at any level of football.