The 2014 college football season is going to be one with many questions that may not be able to be answered until the season is in the books, or perhaps two seasons are in the books. The College Football Playoff starts this season with a four-team playoff field and new bowl arrangements that will guarantee one spot for the top-ranked team from the so-called Group of Five — the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt. This is a reservation that figures to be within reach for the Mountain West champion more often than not, but nobody will know for sure just how everything will play out until games are played. There are plenty of off-field questions as well as the NCAA is likely to move on to a new era of autonomy for the power conferences, which has conferences like the Mountain West Conference bracing for everything it possibly can.
“There are more questions than answers, ” Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson said Tuesday at the conference’s media day event, according to the Las Vegas Sun. Fortunately, the conference has been using whatever time is left to prepare for all options. Thompson addressed these concerns with the media on Tuesday, confirming all members of the conference should be prepared to provide full cost of attendance scholarships, but the battle between the haves and the have-nots in college football could continue with the ability to provide unlimited snacks. This is one cost that is more concerning for MWC schools right now.
“It’s not a tipping point, but it is a precarious position because of the unknown,” Thompson said, as reported by Las Vegas Sun. The NCAA has made a change to the rules regarding snacks and supplements for athletes, lifting any restrictions for student-athletes. Some of the larger programs are hopping right on board with this new ability to provide more nutrition to student-athletes. USC was one of the first schools to make the change official, but Mountain West schools are still with each other to determine how to provide for the added expenses for unlimited snacks.
Attrition is hitting Tennessee’s depth on the defensive side of the ball this early on in the spring.
Tuesday, reports surfaced that safety Stephen Griffin had decided to transfer out of Butch Jones’ Volunteers football program. Two days later, it appears one of Griffin’s former teammates, linebacker Gavin Bryant, is headed toward a similar departure.
The football program has not addressed Bryant’s with the Vols moving forward.
A four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Bryant (pictured, taking a knee to the helmet) was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama. After redshirting as a true freshman, Bryant played in 21 games the past two seasons as a reserve linebacker.
Griffin, meanwhile, was a three-star 2015 prospect who played in 10 games last season. He started one of those contests.
It appears Dino Babers is on the verge of, once again, completing his Syracuse coaching staff.
FootballScoop.com is reporting that reporting that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) is leaving his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as running backs coach at Syracuse. Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.
This will mark Lustig’s first job at a Power Five program.
Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana. Tom Kaufman, who oversaw Syracuse’s special teams as well as coached linebackers, took the defensive coordinator job at an FCS program two weeks ago.
Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later. For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.
Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15. He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.
The cloud habitually hovering over the Baylor football program continues to get darker. And more ominous.
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[f]ormer Baylor football player Tre'Von Armstead was arrested Wednesday… on three second-degree felony sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged 2013 sexual assault while he was a member of the Baylor football team.” While the alleged rape occurred in mid-April of 2013, the case was suspended by the Waco Police Department, ESPN.com writes, “after the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Armstead and former Bears running back Myke Chatman, who she accused of sexually assaulting her at her apartment.”
The victim in that alleged assault, a former “Baylor Bruin” recruiting hostess for the football program, filed a lawsuit in late January of this year in which it’s alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape over a four-year period starting in 2011. It was further alleged in the lawsuit that BU assistant football coaches, including current Florida Atlantic assistant Kendal Briles, contributed to what was described as a “culture of sexual violence” around the football program.
“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles, the son of disgraced former BU head coach Art Briles, told one recruit according to that lawsuit, one of many the university is currently facing as a result of the sexual-assault scandal.
Despite the 2013 allegations of Armstead being involved in a sexual assault, he remained with the football program until his dismissal in September of 2015. A little over a week ago, Armstead was arrested on multiple charges in Las Vegas after he allegedly physically assaulted a woman.
The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.
Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball. Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.
As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.
New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.
Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game). They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).