Two seasons have been put in the books since Texas A&M made the decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC. The move was ridiculed by many and few suspected the Aggies would thrive on the field to the level Texas A&M has since making the move. I’ll throw myself under the bus. I was one of the doubters. Off the field was always a different story. The move to the SEC had many benefits that were easy to see, and with the Aggies more than holding their own on the field, the move seems to be scored as a success in the early years.
Texas A&M is the top college football program in the state of Texas right now. So what does the pecking order after that look like? Not quite as orange as you might suspect.
Longhorn Digest asked four anonymous high school football caches recently to get their take on how the college football powers stack up right now, in addition to some more specific questions regarding Texas and new head coach Charlie Strong. Texas A&M was the unanimous number one choice of the four coaches. Defending Big 12 champion Baylor was a consensus number two. Just behind the Bears came the Texas Longhorns. Yes, Texas has slipped to number three not just in the eyes of the college football world, but also the high school coaches in a state that is incredibly rich with respect for the high school game.
“Because they are Texas it is an easy gap to close if there is any,” said one of the high school coaches polled. “I think there is a bigger gap between Texas and Texas A&M. But that can close in a number of ways.”
“A&M has the momentum right now,” said another coach. “As you know, one winning season at Texas will change everything.”
“They could come back right now and take over A&M if they want to,” another coach said. “That’s how powerful they are. They can do anything they want. They are the Texas freaking Longhorns.”
So, how bad to the Texas freaking Longhorns want to be back on top?
Brady Hoke had a miserable one-and-done at Oregon, and this piling on just adds to it.
Brought in to turnaround the Ducks’ defense, Hoke instead was in charge of one of the worst units in the country. Their play, in very large part, helped bring an abrupt end to Mark Helfrich‘s three-year tenure in Eugene.
Helfrich was officially replaced by USF’s Willie Taggart earlier this week. The boss of Taggart’s boss, UO president Michael Schill, had one piece of advice and one piece of advice alone for his new head football coach.
Can we take that as confirmation that Hoke won’t be retained by the new regime? At least statistically, though, the president has a point, no matter how clumsily or ill-advised it may have been.
Out of the 128 teams listed on the NCAA’s official stats website, the Ducks were 126th in scoring and yards allowed; 121st in third-down percentage and rushing yards allowed; 117th in turnovers forced; and 114th in passing yards. Last season, the Ducks were 114th in scoring and 116th in yards.
And Taggart’s defense this season? The Bulls were 86th in scoring defense and 120th in yards allowed. So, there’s that.
A week after his departure from Notre Dame was revealed Malik Zaire has gotten down to saying goodbye.
In a letter to The Observer, the university’s student newspaper, Zaire thanked “the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be.” The notes comes a week after the quarterback was given an unconditional release from his Irish scholarship.
Dear Notre Dame students and staff,
My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:
“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”
I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!
Zaire expects to graduate in December, meaning he’d be eligible immediately at whatever FBS program he ultimately lands. The senior has already or will visit North Carolina and Wisconsin. Pittsburgh is also believed to be in play as well.
For the second time today, a non-offensive or defensive coordinator has filled an FBS head-coaching vacancy.
According to 247Sports.com, South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott will be the next head coach at Georgia State. An official announcement from the football program is expected to come by Friday at the latest.
Elliott would replace Trent Miles, who was fired by the Sun Belt Conference school in mid-November.
This would be Elliot’s first head-coaching job, although he did serve as the Gamecocks’ interim coach when Steve Spurrier abruptly retired midway through the 2015 season.
Elliott has spent the past seven seasons at USC, having been retained by new head coach Will Muschamp. Prior to that, he had spent his entire coaching career at his alma mater Appalachian State, a career that began in 1996.
Hugh Freeze‘s 2017 coaching staff at Ole Miss will have a decidedly different look than his 2016 version.
In late November, the football program announced that defensive coordinator Dave Wommack has decided to retire from coaching at the end of year after nearly four decades in the profession. Nearly two weeks later, the rebels announced that co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner will not return as well.
Werner also served as quarterbacks coach.
“I am grateful to Dan for his contributions to our program,” Freeze said in a statement. “His leadership and experience were invaluable in the development of our quarterbacks. These are always very difficult decisions, but at this time, I believe it is best for our program to have a fresh approach. We wish Dan and his family the very best.”
In 2016, the Rebels were 13th nationally in passing offense and tied for 45th in scoring. They were in the Top 10 in 2015 in both of those categories.
Matt Luke remains on staff as the other co-offensive coordinator while also holding the title of assistant head coach. He’s also the Rebels’ line coach.
Werner has been in Oxford for all five year’s of Freeze’s tenure. He was also the Rebels’ coordinator in 2006 and 2007 under Ed Orgeron, who is now the head coach at LSU.
In addition to the move on Werner, it was also announced that Barney Farrar, the assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations, would not have his contract renewed. Farrar had been on administrative leave prior to his dismissal.
Farrar was connected to the draft-day imbroglio involving former Ole Miss All-American offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. It was reported in October that an NCAA investigation into the football program is ongoing.