One of the best young(er-ish) head coaches in the game of college football is being rewarded after just one season on the job.
Utah State announced Thursday afternoon that it has reached an agreement on a contract extension with Matt Wells that will also include a raise. Wells will now be signed through the 2018 season, while his salary, which was just over $500,000 in 2013, has been increased to over $800,000 annually including incentives.
Wells was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach in December of 2012 after Gary Andersen left the Aggies to take over for Bret Bielema at Wisconsin.
“Matt had a great first year leading our football program. His commitment to our student-athletes has been tremendous and they’ve responded with great results in the classroom and on the field,” said athletic director Scott Barnes in a statement. “Matt has deep roots here as a former Aggie quarterback and he conveys his passion for our great university on a daily basis.”
The 40-year-old Wells, who has been a coach USU since 2011, went 9-5 in his first season as a head coach at any level, leading the Aggies to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game as well as the program’s third-ever bowl win a few weeks later. He played football at USU in the mid-90s.
During Andersen’s final season in 2012, the Aggies went 11-2.
“I’m very appreciative of the support shown by President Stan Albrecht and Scott Barnes in our staff and myself,” said Wells. “We are motivated daily to continue the culture that has been set here at Utah State in the football program and we will continue to strive toward our goals of graduating our student-athletes on time, and competing for and winning Mountain West Championships.”
Things were a little busy on the personnel front for Florida State Monday.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Derwin James and Nate Andrews were two of the 11 Seminole football players who received redshirts for the 2016 season. The twin safeties received their medical hardship waivers because of injuries, James a meniscus tear suffered in Week 2 that kept him out for the rest of the year and Andrews a torn pectoral that sidelined him for the last half of the season.
While the move would technically give James three more years of eligibility, the talented defensive back is widely expected to make himself available for the 2018 NFL draft. Andrews will be a fifth-year senior in his final year of eligibility.
As a true freshman in 2015, James’ 91 tackles were second only to Reggie Northrup’s 94. He was also second on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (4.5).
For that, he was named a consensus freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC. This offseason, he was named to the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award watch lists.
Andrews has started 22 games during his time with the Seminoles.
At the other end of the personnel spectrum is Ryan Hoefield, with TomahawkNation.com reporting that the offensive lineman has not only decided to leave FSU but leave the sport, period. According to the website, Hoefield will graduate this spring and take a job in the medical field.
Hoefield played in nine games the past three years, only one f which came in 2016 and likely hastened his departure from the Seminoles.
College football free agency continues unabated this morning, with Miami the latest to see its roster a little lighter than it once was.
The Hurricanes announced in a press release that Cedrick Wright is no longer a member of Mark Richt‘s program. No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.
“I talked to Cedrick and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” the head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
The departure marks the end of a brief but eventful career for the defensive back with the ‘Canes.
Wright was a three-star member of The U’s 2016 recruiting class who played in nine games as a true freshman. He was also suspended for the Week 12 game against North Carolina State because of unspecified violations of team rules, and missed the team’s bowl game as well because of academics.
Kevin Lempa‘s new destination hasn’t yet been announced — he interviewed for a Michigan analyst job earlier this month — but Hawaii’s defensive coordinator has already been replace.
Legi Suiaunoa was promoted to defensive coordinator a week and a half ago, and on Monday the Warriors announced Honolulu native Jacob Yoro as safeties coach.
“Jake is a guy that I was interested in even before I got the job here at Hawai’i,” head coach Nick Rolovich (pictured) said in a statement. “I always thought he’d be a good fit with our philosophy. He’s well respected on the West Coast, not only for his knowledge but also for the noise he’s made on the recruiting side of the game. I have great appreciation for grinders like Jake. We hope he adds to the trust of coaches and players in local recruiting. Local or not, though, Jake is a good ball coach.”
Yoro played at powerhouse Saint Louis High School before playing at Montana from 1998-01, then returned to the islands to coach in the Hawaii high school ranks. He left in 2009 to serve as linebackers coach at Montana Western, spent five seasons at Pacific University in Oregon and then coached the past two seasons as defensive backs coach at Cal Poly.
The Hawaii job represents Yoro’s first foray into FBS football.
“I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to join the UH football family. Coach Rolo and the rest of the staff have done a tremendous job of creating a culture that fosters greatness both on and off the field,” Yoro said.
He’ll have his work cut out for him immediately. Hawaii finished Rolovich’s first season ranked 118th nationally in pass efficiency defense, allowing 62.6 percent completions for 8.1 yards per attempt with 29 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 14 games.
The waters in Tuscaloosa are finally calm after Hurricane Lane’s departure.
As reported over the weekend, Alabama has officially named Brian Daboll its offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and announced former director of football operations Joe Pannunzio as its tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
Daboll kickstarted his career as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at Michigan State and arrives after serving the past two seasons as the New England Patriots’ tight ends coach. Pannunzio turned four years as Saban’s DFO into two years as the Philadelphia Eagles’ director of personnel operations.
“I am honored to have the chance to return to the college game and work for Coach Saban at Alabama,” Daboll said. “He basically gave me my start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Michigan State in the late 1990s and has always been a very important influence on my coaching career. It is a tremendous opportunity to work at an institution such as Alabama with its rich tradition and history of sustained success, and I’m very excited to get started.”
“I am excited to have the chance to return to The University of Alabama and once again work for Coach Saban,” Pannunzio said. “I have always loved working with the special teams and tight ends and the chance to do it for the best coach and the best program in college football is a very special opportunity. My family and I love Tuscaloosa, and I can’t wait to get back out on the field coaching.”
Daboll fills the hole left by Steve Sarkisian, who filled the hole left by Lane Kiffin. Pannunzio fills the vacancy created when wide receivers coach Billy Napier left to become the offensive coordinator at Arizona State. Alabama also lost offensive line coach Mario Cristobal to a co-offensive coordinator role at Oregon.
With the dual hirings, co-offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will coach wide receivers, Burton Burns will focus solely on running backs and Brent Key will oversee the entire offensive line.