It was reported earlier this month that UMass, which will be leaving the MAC following the 2015 season, had been in discussions with the Sun Belt about moving its football program to the conference.
A week later, it appears that option is, at least for the foreseeable future, off the table.
Following his league’s spring meetings that ended Wednesday, commissioner Karl Benson released a statement explaining that membership had tabled the idea of expanding “at this time.” In that statement, Benson also used wording that doesn’t sound good for the Minutemen’s future in the conference.
“While we may explore adding a 12th all-sports member [to] the Sun Belt Conference, at this time we are moving the conference forward with our membership as is,” the statement began. “Come July 1 the membership will be stable for the first time in over two years with no incoming or departing members,” he said. “The makeup of that 11 all-sports conference will give us more than just stability – it will give us strength and opportunity.”
The phrase “adding a 12th all-sports member” doesn’t bode well for UMass as the athletic department is looking for a league home for its football program, not every other sport as well. Whether the university’s stance would change come 2015 is unclear.
In addition to UMass, it’s believed the SBC had considered current FCS members Liberty and James Madison. Liberty has been making noise for a couple of years about leaping to the FBS level, while James Madison announced last month that its football program wouldn’t be making the move after discussions with the SBC had taken place.
According to the USA Today coaching salary database, a dozen assistant coaches took home at least $1 million in 2016.
That number will rise to at least 15 in 2017, and three of the coaches will wear maize and blue.
Michigan released contract information Tuesday that shows offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, defensive coordinator Don Brown and quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton will each take home $1 million in 2017. This comes on the heels of Jim Harbaugh taking home an industry-leading $9 million himself in 2016.
In another move that will not go unnoticed within the industry, Harbaugh has also handed lengthy contracts to each assistant. Drevno and Brown each inked 5-year deals, and Hamilton a 4-year one.
Brown’s deal stays at a flat $1 million through the first four years before jumping to $1.4 million in Year 5, with $1.4 million in retention bonuses built in. Hamilton will make $1.25 million in the final year of his contract, with $700,000 waiting after the second and third seasons. Drevno will make $1 million with no retention bonuses, but he has netted a $150,000 signing bonus.
Contract details oncoming:
The Wolverines are 20-6 in the first two seasons of the Harbaugh era.
Brandon Jones‘ coaching career began in Lubbock after his playing days at Texas Tech came to an end, and now that career will continue on at his alma mater.
Jones, Tech announce via a press release, has been hired as the Red Raiders new offensive line coach. The hiring of Jones comes a couple of days after Tech announced that Lee Hays would not be returning to Kliff Kingsbury‘s coaching staff in 2017.
“We’re excited to welcome Coach Jones to our staff,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in the country, and our program will benefit from his leadership. We’re looking forward to our offensive line continuing to develop under him.”
The past two seasons, Jones served as the line coach and running-game coordinator at Cal.
Prior to that, he was the line coach at East Carolina from 2010-14. Jones started 22 games along the line for the Red Raiders before becoming a grad assistant with the football program in 2007.
The ACC ended this past football season as the home of the 2016 national champion as well as the best bowl record of any FBS conference as well. Tuesday, the league turned its attention to next season as the conference released its schedule for 2017.
Wake Forest will kick off the ACC’s 2017 season with a home date against FCS Presbyterian on Thursday, Aug. 31. The first game against an FBS program comes one day later as Boston College travels to Northern Illinois. The first conference games will be played in Week 2, and includes Boston College-Wake Forest and North Carolina-Louisville. Both of those games will be played Sept. 9.
ACC teams will play five neutral site games on the opening weekend of the season: Florida State-Alabama (Sept. 2) and Georgia Tech-Tennessee (Sept. 4) at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as part of the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games; Virginia Tech-West Virginia at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland; Louisville-Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; and North Carolina State-South Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in the Belk College Kickoff Game.
As has been the case the past couple of seasons, there will be five games against Notre Dame: Boston College (Sept. 16), North Carolina (Oct. 7) and Miami (Nov. 11) all will play host to the football independent. NC State (Oct. 28) and Wake Forest (Nov. 4) will both travel to South Bend.
College Football Playoff champions Clemson will open defense of its title with a home date against Kent State.
“Our ACC football programs are coming off a record-setting season that was capped off with nine postseason wins, including Clemson’s National Championship and Florida State’s Orange Bowl Title,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Our football success over the last few years has helped put the ACC in one of the strongest positions we have ever enjoyed as a league. As we look ahead to 2017, conference games will continue to be extremely competitive and our schools are once again playing what is arguably the top non-conference schedule in the country. This is a great tribute to our schools and programs, and it will be exciting on a weekly basis for our fans.”
For a complete look at the ACC’s 2017 football schedule, click HERE or HERE or HERE.
Six weeks after landing the head-coaching job at Cincinnati, Luke Fickell continues to make headway in completing his initial Bearcats coaching staff.
In a press release Tuesday, UC confirmed that Fickell has added Ron Crook and Al Washington as line coaches. Crook will coach the offensive line, Washington the defensive line.
“I’m glad to wrap up a pair of key hires with great coaches like Al and Ron,” the head coach said in a statement. “You win and lose football games in the trenches and both bring an intense and physical mindset to their jobs. Looking at our staff top to bottom with a few hires still to come, we have attracted high-quality coaches who can teach the game and lead our student-athletes to success.”
Crook, who began his collegiate coaching career at UC as a grad assistant in 1993, returns after spending the past four seasons at West Virginia. He’s also spent time on staffs at Illinois and Stanford among others.
Washington, meanwhile, spent the past five seasons at his alma mater Boston College. He was the line coach as well as special teams coordinator last season after coaching running backs the three previous years. His only other FBS job came at North Carolina State.
With the twin hires, Fickell now has seven of his nine on-field staff in place: Cook, Washington, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Denbrock (HERE), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Marcus Freeman, special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Doug Phillips, wide receivers coach Joker Phillips (HERE) and safeties coach Jon Tenuta.