Who can pull a college football-basketball conference title double dip?

1 Comment

This is a pretty important week for college basketball. The big conferences are wrapping up the regular seasons and getting set for their various conference championship tournaments. Some conferences have already crowned their conference champions for the year so the countdown to Selection Sunday is already one.

It is not all that often we see schools win their conference championship in football and men’s basketball, but it does happen from time to time. Will any of the conference champions from last fall have a shot at winning their men’s basketball championship by Selection Sunday? Here is a run down the various FBS conferences and quick look at whether it is possible or likely.

ACC

Football champion: Florida State

It certainly would not be impossible for Florida State to run a hot streak in the ACC tournament this week, but the Seminoles have quite the uphill battle in front of them if they are to pull off the conference championship double-dip. Florida State was 0-5 against the top four teams in the ACC this basketball season. We will call this one possible but unlikely.

American

Football champion: UCF

The UCF Knights finished the regular season with a losing record at 12-17. Let’s just go ahead and say this is not going to happen. Not with the defending national champions at Louisville in the conference and a strong Cincinnati team to get through, not to mention the competition from UConn, Memphis and SMU.

Big 12

Football champion: Baylor

Can Baylor come out on top in the Big 12? It probably would not be a complete shock, although the BEars were 9-9 in conference play this season. But the Bears are a 20-win program and that did not happen by accident. The basketball Bears average 75 points per game, which is just a few more points than the football team could score. Possible but probably not likely.

Big Ten

Football champion: Michigan State

This could be the best bet around the country for an FBS school to pull the double-dip. The Spartans upset Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game last December, and the Spartans are a known basketball power. Michigan State will enter the Big Ten tournament with a high seed and are always going to be a tough out. Michigan and Wisconsin have good opportunities as well in one of the most competitive conferences in the country. Michigan State has limped to the finish line, but you can never count out the Spartans when it is tournament time.

Based on history, we will call this one a realistic possibility. If the Spartans were at full strength, it might be considered likely.

Conference USA

Football champion: Rice

Not happening. Moving on.

MAC

Football champion: Bowling Green

This is another one that will not be happening. Bowling Green finished the regular season in last place in their division.

Mountain West Conference

Football champion: Fresno State

This one would be considered a pretty big shock. It is not because Fresno State is a .500 team, but because San Diego State and New Mexico are far and away the top two programs in the conference. UNLV is not all bad either. Do not count on Fresno State getting this done.

Pac 12

Football champion: Stanford

Stanford will enter the Pac 12 tournament somewhere in the middle of the Pac 12, so they would have their work cut out for them in the conference tournament. Sometimes this tournament can be unpredictable though. Colorado came out of nowhere to win it two seasons ago, so who is to say Stanford won’t get it done this year? Me, that’s who. Certainly far from impossible, but not at all to be expected.

SEC

Football champion: Auburn

There is a reason Alabama is obsessed with football. Neither Alabama or Auburn will make a run for the SEC title this season, and that means Auburn will not pull off the double-dip. Instead, it could be two SEC East schools that failed to play in a bowl game last season that play for the championship (Florida and Kentucky).

Sun Belt

Football champion: Louisiana-Lafayette

If there is a conference that appears to be the second best bet after the Big Ten to have the same school claim the football and men’s basketball title, it may be the Sun Belt. Louisiana-Lafayette won the football title by way of a tiebreaker, and considering how even the top of the conference may be this basketball season, this could very well be possible. Georgia State is the team to beat, but the Ragin’ Cajuns could make a run. Georgia State won both match-ups this season, but both were within seven points. Let’s throw this under the Likely category for now, but note that Georgia State is standing in the way.

What about the FCS schools?

If you dig deeper then you will find some other schools who have claimed their own double dips. Ivy League champion Harvard did just that with a football and men’s basketball championship this season. Coastal Carolina also managed to win both Big South championships this season.

For more college basketball coverage, be sure to check out College Basketball Talk.

Arkansas kicker Cole Hedlund reportedly transfers to North Texas

Getty Images
Leave a comment

And you can pardon the whole of the state of Arkansas if they let out a collective “thank goodness.”

Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle is reporting that Cole Hedlund is transferring to North Texas.  After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014 at Arkansas, Hedlund spent the next three seasons as a placekicker for the Razorbacks.

The Argyle, Tex., native opted to transfer from UA for his final season of eligibility.  He’s the youngest son of UNT women’s soccer coach John Hedlund.

For his career with the Razorbacks, Hedlund hit on 14 of his 24 field goal attempts.  He also connected on all 91 extra point attempts.  His best season came in 2015 when he led the team in scoring with 85 points.

The past season, however, was a rough one.  After missing both field goal attempts in a Sept. 9 loss to TCU — the misses came from 20 and 23 yards out — Hedlund never attempted another kick for the Razorbacks the rest of the season.

“It was basically a PAT, and it was a perfect protection and a perfect snap. It’s inexcusable,” then-head coach Bret Bielema said at the time.

Longtime BYU defensive assistant Steve Kaufusi steps down

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A constant on BYU’s defensive staff for nearly two decades has taken himself out of the football program’s equation.

The Cougars announced Friday that Steve Kaufusi has stepped down from his post as linebackers coach.  Per the school, Kaufusi’s departure was triggered by his desire to pursue other unspecified interests.

Kaufusi, whose wife Michelle is the mayor of Provo and has two sons who will play for the Cougars this season, had spent the past 16 seasons with BYU.  From 2002-16, he coached the defensive line; he took over linebackers in 2017 and spent one season overseeing that position.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to coach at BYU for the past 16 seasons,” Kaufusi said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to represent the University and everything it stands for. I will always be a Cougar and look forward to watching my sons play at BYU.”

“Anyone who knows Steve knows he is an exceptional coach and mentor to young men, which you can see in the players he has coached over the years and also in his own family,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I wish Steve nothing but the best for his future.”

In tandem with the Kaufusi announcement, the program also confirmed that Preston Hadley has been hired.  Hadley, who played defensive back for the Cougars and coached at Weber State the past two seasons, will coach safeties in his return.

Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers.  All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.

Michigan State promotes Mike Tressel to DC, adds ex-Kent State HC as DBs coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mark Dantonio looked inside and out of his football program to fill some holes in his Michigan State staff.

Nearly two weeks ago, Harlon Barnett left as MSU’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach to take a job at Florida State.  That left Dantonio with two openings, one of which the head coach closed Friday by promoting Mike Tressel to defensive coordinator.

Tressel and Barnett had served as co-coordinators the past three seasons; the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will now serve as the Spartans’ solo coordinator moving forward.

“Mike has done a tremendous job working with the defense,” said Dantonio in a statement. “He’s been deeply involved with everything with the defense since we first arrived here, and has helped coach some championship defenses that have been ranked consistently among the best in the nation, year in and year out. He did a great job as co-coordinator the past three years. He’s certainly earned this opportunity and I think he’ll do an outstanding job.”

To replace Barnett as defensive backs coach, Dantonio turned to Paul Haynes.  The past five years, Haynes was the head coach at Kent State before being dismissed at the end of the 2017 regular season.

This serves as a homecoming of sorts for Haynes as well.  From 2003-04, he was the defensive backs coach for the Spartans under John Smith.

The 48-year-old Haynes has also been a secondary coach at Arkansas (2012), Ohio State (2005-10), Louisville (2002) and Kent State (1999).

“We’re very, very excited about Paul,” said Dantonio. “He’s coached here before so he’s got a Spartan background. He was secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, so he’s coached on the highest level with the secondary. He was a defensive coordinator at Arkansas as well. He’s been a head coach at Kent State, so I think that gives him a big picture feel. I think he’s an excellent recruiter. He’s a dynamic person as well, so we’re excited to have him on campus.”

Willie Taggart finalizes first Florida State coaching staff

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Exactly 45 days after being announced as Florida State’s new head coach, Willie Taggart has put the finishing touches on his first Seminoles staff.

Friday night, FSU confirmed that Taggart has completed his 10-man staff with the additions of five new assistants.  It was reported this week that Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell would be taking the same job at FSU; the school confirmed as much today, with Bell also taking over as quarterbacks coach.

The other four hires consisted of Greg Frey (offensive line/running-game coordinator), David Kelly (wide receivers/recruiting coordinator), Mark Snyder (defensive ends) and Alonzo Hampton (special teams coordinator).

That fivesome joins the other five assistants previously announced:

  • Harlon Barnett, defensive coordinator and defensive back
  • Odell Haggins, associate head coach and defensive tackles
  • Raymond Woodie, linebackers
  • Telly Lockette, tight ends
  • Donte’ Pimpleton, running backs

Haggins is the lone holdover from Jimbo Fisher‘s last staff.

“From the beginning of this process, my goal was to bring in the best coaches for our program and I believe we have done that,” Taggart said. “This group will do a great job of recruiting, developing, coaching and mentoring our student-athletes to reach their highest potential. I’m excited for the next few weeks as we are finalizing our 2018 signing class and then working with our team as we prepare for spring practice.”