Charlie Strong is Bovada’s betting favorite for Texas job


Personally, I don’t in any way, shape of form see it happening.  However, 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 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

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

North Carolina formally announces hiring of ex-Tennessee RBs coach Robert Gillespie

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The latest addition to Larry Fedora‘s North Carolina coaching staff has been confirmed.

Following up on reports that surfaced earlier this month. UNC announced Wednesday that Fedora has hired Robert Gillespie. While not confirmed by the football program in the release, it’s expected Gillespie will serve as the Tar Heels running backs coach, a position he’s held for most of his coaching career.

“We are excited to welcome Robert and his family to Chapel Hill,” Fedora said in a statement. “He has a well-earned reputation as a great offensive coach and recruiter, and he has a wealth of experience working with running backs at a very high level. We are happy to have him join our staff as we get into the bulk of spring practice.”

Gillespie fills the hole created by the departure of Gunter Brewer, who left as the Tar Heels’ wide receivers coach for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month. It’s expected that Luke Paschall, currently the running backs coach, will assume Brewer’s role with receivers.

Gillespie, a former Florida running back, spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach at Tennessee. He was originally retained by new UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt before parting ways with the football program shortly after National Signing Day.

In addition to UT, Gillespie has spent time on coaching staffs at South Carolina (2006-08), Oklahoma State (2009-10) and West Virginia (2011-12). He was the running backs coach at each of those stops.

Report: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa’s thumb injury ‘just a sprain’

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It appears Alabama can breathe a sigh of relief on the injury front.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his LEFT (throwing) hand.  It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

While there’s been nothing official yet from the football program or head coach,, citing unnamed sources, writes that the injury “is believed to just be a sprain and he should be able to return to practice in at least a limited capacity at some point soon.”

Until then, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are engaged in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp.  That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.

John Calipari takes page out of Nick Saban’s playbook by warning of (rat) poison

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One’s a dot, two’s a line and three’s a trend as the old adage go and it appears rat poison for college players is now a burgeoning trend.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday ahead of Kentucky’s NCAA tournament game against Kansas State, Wildcats coach John Calipari took a page straight out of Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin’s playbook by warning his team of drinking the media “poison” the past few days.

“My challenge is making sure these kids don’t drink that poison. That poison being we have an easy road. There are no easy roads in this tournament,” said Calipari. “If they drink that poison, we’ll be done Thursday. If they don’t drink the poison, it’ll be a dog fight Thursday — let’s see what happens. Sometimes you wonder why they’re (the media) trying to paint that picture with my team — probably because they’re young and they know they don’t know better.”

Ok then.

At least the term Calipari is using isn’t out of thin air given that Saban infamously ranted on his team buying into the media’s discussion of being a good team as “rat poison” last season. For the record though, the rant by the basketball coach was prompted by a question that didn’t at all involve Kentucky having an easy path to the Final Four but was rather about team and individual goals.

It’s not often you think of Saban as a trendsetter but it seems he was certainly ahead of the curve when it came to labeling media talk as poison.

Harbaugh hits primetime again as Michigan announces spring game under the lights

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Jim Harbaugh is already getting a series on Amazon Prime but now the Michigan head coach is also getting the primetime treatment.

The Wolverines announced on Tuesday that the annual spring game would take place under the lights at Michigan Stadium this year and would be televised live in primetime on the Big Ten Network.

Gates will open to the game two hours prior to kickoff and the maize and blue faithful may try to do their best to get to Ann Arbor early because the school is going to screen an episode of the Amazon series  “All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines” prior to the game. This will be the second time in three years that the school will go under the lights to play their spring game at night but obviously the first time there’s a documentary series that will be screened prior to the Wolverines taking the field.

The game may be worth tuning in for to see Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson in action with his new team after arriving in the offseason. The NCAA still has not ruled on whether he will be immediately eligible in 2018 but he is expected to go through spring drills with the team either way, starting this week when practices begin on Friday.