Kentucky v Florida

Kentucky in the ACC? It could have happened


The idea of any school leaving the SEC for another conference is pretty laughable today, but it was a bit more realistic of a possibility sometime in the 1990s, perhaps when the ACC was in the process of expanding before jumping to raiding the Big East for football reasons with the additions of Miami and Virginia Tech, followed by Boston College (and of course much later down the line Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame*). Louisville will be joining the ACC this year, but years ago it could have been Kentucky who joined the ACC, according to former Kentucky athletics director C.M. Newton.

In a report by Lexington Herald-Leader, Newton shared some background on Kentucky exploring the possibility of leaving the SEC for the ACC, suggesting the discussions took place sometime in the 1990s. The exact time of those discussions is not defined, but the ACC added Florida State in 1991. It could be reasonable to suspect Kentucky was an option around that time, and Newton’s arrival at Kentucky as AD just two years prior (along with the naming of Charles Wethington as president of the university at the same time) seems to fall in line with that thought.

“We talked to them very seriously, but very quietly,” Newton said last week to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Dr. Wethington had me go over and talk to them for a short period one evening.”

The idea was very real, and Newton gave it some serious thought, and if Kentucky made the push it might have been possible Kentucky took Florida State’s spot in the ACC instead, which would have changed the history of both conferences pretty drastically.

“They wanted us to come on and join their league,” Newton recalled. “I thought, with the way (UK) football was (struggling in the SEC), that might have been the best path for us. I always felt like (Florida State) was an SEC school in the ACC and Kentucky an ACC school in the SEC.”

At the time the ACC added Florida State, the conference was still mostly regarded as a basketball conference. Some would suggest that is still the case today despite recent national success on the football field. Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina in the same basketball conference? That would have been fun, but the ACC would have been lacking much power in football for years to come. Florida State joined the ACC and immediately dominated and represented on the national level. Where would the ACC be today with Florida State? That is difficult to say, at least as far as football is concerned. Would the Seminoles have wiggled into the SEC? Would the ACC still have been able to attract Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College years later?

Where would Louisville be today if Kentucky had joined the ACC? Would the Cardinals be joining the ACC this fall, or would they be playing in the Big East, which may even still exist. It is funny to think how the ripple effect could have been altered if Kentucky made the move.

* Remember that Notre Dame is not a football member of the ACC, but a scheduling partner to compliment the partial membership for the Irish.

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Dabo Swinney wins ACC Coach of the Year award

Dabo Swinney
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When you go undefeated, people tend to give you awards.

In the wake of Clemson’s first perfect regular season, its first since 1981, head coach and pizza party patron Dabo Swinney was named the ACC’s top coach on Tuesday.

Swinney received 27 of the 50 available votes, edging North Carolina’s Larry Fedora (21). Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi each gobbled up one of the two remaining votes.

Aaron Brenner of the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier notes Swinney is due a $25,000 bonus for winning the award.

Win or lose, Dabo Swinney throwing pizza party for Clemson on Sunday

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Clemson’s 12-0 regular season will be celebrated Sunday, whether or not the Tigers win Saturday night’s ACC Championship.

“We’re gonna have a pizza party on Sunday. That’s gonna happen,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney pledged Tuesday to the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, following through on an off-hand comment made a few weeks back. “It’s kind of hard to plan for a pizza party when you don’t know the outcome. We’re not going to know that until midnight — that’s a lot of dough.”

It’s unclear if Swinney’s last statement was meant literally or figuratively or both.

Either way, Clemson said it will provide at least 2,500 Papa John’s pizzas, which will be distributed for free upon admittance to Memorial Stadium. Assuming a Tigers win over North Carolina, gates will open at 11 a.m. in advance of the noon ET College Football Playoff selection show.

But the party will go on regardless of Saturday night’s result.

“Regardless of whether we win or lose the game Saturday night, this team deserves to be celebrated.”

Report: Temple’s Matt Rhule stops talking to Missouri

Matt Rhule

The search for a new coach at Missouri continues, and apparently one candidate has backed away from the pursuit. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple head coach Matt Rhule has turned taken himself out of the mix for the job at Missouri, which likely means Rhule will stay put in South Philly during this coaching carousel cycle.

According to the report, Temple is also in the process of negotiating a new contract for Rhule. Rhule has already signed a contract extension with Temple that runs through 2021. Rhule’s Owls are also preparing to take on Houston in this week’s American Athletic Conference championship game. Rhule does not believe this will serve as a distraction to his team as they prepare for the Cougars.

“I think our team is way too strong to be distracted about anything with me,” Rhule said. “I am honest with our players and tell them everything.”

Ironically, Houston also received some encouraging news this week when head coach Tom Herman said he has an agreement in principle to stay at Houston. Not only is that good news for Houston and Temple, but that is outstanding news for the conference as a whole, although Memphis did lose Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech.

For Temple, this should be encouraging news as a program. The two coaches before Rhule took the job each left to take on power conference opportunities once they came along. Al Golden took an offer to coach Miami (that, uh, didn’t exactly pan out nicely) and Steve Addazio bolted for Boston College. Who knows if Rhule will stick around for the long haul, but it would seem just being able to get him to return in 2016 would be a major step in the right direction for Temple.

Texas Tech fires three defensive assistants

Kliff Kingsbury

Texas Tech may be getting ready for a bowl game, but they will do so without three defensive assistant coaches. Co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Mike Smith, cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis and outside linebackers coach Trey Haverty have been cut from the coaching staff, head coach Kliff Kingsbury announced today.

“We appreciate all that Mike, Kevin and Trey have done at Texas Tech over the last three seasons,” Kingsbury said in a released statement. “All three are great Red Raiders and we wish them the very best.”

Texas Tech had the Big 12’s ninth-ranked total defense after allowing 540.2 yards per game. That was nearly 100 yards more per game than Iowa State’s eighth-ranked defense. Only Kansas had a worst defense, allowing 560.8 yards per game. Texas Tech’s defense ranked 126th in the nation out of 128 schools. The Red Raiders were torched through the air, allowing 268.3 yards per game through the air, which was ranked 113th in the nation.

Offense appears to be the key to success in the Big 12 and defense has tended to be a hurdle for the Red Raider program. This much appears to be clear though. Kingsbury is making moves with his roster to find a way to improve defensively and become a more well-rounded threat in the Big 12.