Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury receives contract extension

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An 8-5 record for a first-time coach was impressive enough for Texas Tech’s brass to pony up more cash. On the eve of the college football season, Texas Tech announced a three-year contract extenstion with head coach Kliff Kingsbury. 

“The new deal, which will run through the 2020 season, has a guaranteed total base of $24.2 million. Including this season Tech will pay Kingsbury an average of $3.5 million per year,” sources told FOX Sports‘ Bruce Feldman.

Kingsbury’s original contract was slated to end in 2017.

According to Feldman, Kingsbury signed the deal Friday, and it makes him the fourth highest-paid head coach in the Big 12 Conference behind Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Baylor’s Art Briles and Texas’ Charlie Strong.

“The deal also affords the charismatic 35-year-old to earn as much as an extra $1.5 million in bonuses each year,” Feldman reported. “Kingsbury can max $34.7 million over the length of the contract.”

Bottom line:  This is a preventative measure by Texas Tech.

The school is investing heavily in Kingsbury to keep him in Lubbock long term. Kingsbury is one of the youngest and most exciting coaches in college football. Despite graduating from Texas Tech, there was continued whispers Kingsbury would eventually leave the program for a higher profile program or the NFL. But Kingsbury put those rumors to rest.

“This is where I want to be and I couldn’t be happier,” Kingsbury said in the statement.  “I can’t wait to take this thing to the next level.”

A potential departure will be difficult anyhow.

Texas Tech isn’t simply investing to keep a popular young coach in town. The university is setting up the athletic department for success in the future.

Earlier Friday, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt updated numbers to promote the school’s “Campaign for Fearless Champions.” The school has already raised $75 million, but the number is far short of its goal of $185 million.

The school also unveiled plans Friday to continue to fund improvements in 17 sports.

“We want to move as quickly as we can, but we are dependent upon having the funding streams and revenue in place,” Hocutt told the Lubbock Avalanche’s Don Williams. “We will continue to visit with folks about investing into these facilities, and as the opportunity presents itself — from a funding mechanism, from fundraising success — we will move forward.”

As part of the campaign, Texas Tech plans to build onto Jones AT&T Stadium by adding a “three-level south end zone building that can house 30 suites — 15 each on levels two and three — and a Hall of Fame, stadium club and athlete dining hall on the lower level.”

In order to make money, a program has to spend money.

An investment in a talented young coach like Kingsbury is a legitimate step in the school realizing its vision. Kingsbury, meanwhile, must continue to prepare his team for Saturday’s opponent, Central Arkansas. Kingsbury’s extension is certainly a good start to the Reds Raiders’ season.

“There has never been a more exciting time within our football program than now,” Hocutt said. “I am very proud of the program Coach Kingsbury is building and I know our fans are as well. We can’t wait to kick off the season tomorrow night at Jones AT&T Stadium and are looking forward to a bright future.”

Conference USA releases 2018 schedule

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Conference USA released its 2018 schedule on Tuesday, confirming that once again the league will play football this fall.

The league slate kicks off Sept. 8 with FIU’s visit to Old Dominion, while the first game involving a C-USA team is set for Aug. 25, when Rice hosts Prairie View A&M. Conference games are scattered throughout the month of September, with the first full Saturday slate coming on Oct. 6 with Old Dominion at Florida Atlantic, UAB at Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee at Marshall, North Texas at UTEP and UTSA at Rice.

While the MAC has opted for a full embrace of midweek football, Conference USA has gone in the exact opposite direction. Not one C-USA game is scheduled as of today for a weeknight — Thursday or Friday included — and only one game will be played on a day other than Saturday, a Friday, Aug. 31 visit to Wisconsin by Western Kentucky.

The most-anticipated non-conference games involving C-USA teams are Florida Atlantic’s opener at Oklahoma and on Sept. 1 and the Owls’ Sept. 22 visit to reigning American and Peach Bowl champion UCF. North Texas also has two shots to win nationwide respect for the league in its opener against SMU on Sept. 1 in Denton and a Sept. 15 visit to retooling Arkansas.

The highlight of the league schedule comes on Nov. 17 with a rematch of the 2017 title game when Florida Atlantic visits North Texas. The Owls won both meetings last season by a combined score of 110-48.

The 14th C-USA Championship will be held on Dec. 1 at the home of the division winner with the best conference record. FAU will look to become the second straight back-to-back C-USA champion, joining Western Kentucky in 2015-16.

Former LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada reportedly lands at Maryland

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It’s good to be Matt Canada.

He parachuted into Baton Rouge for a year, got paid a bunch of money, then got paid even more money to leave. And now he’s set to get paid from another school.

According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Canada is set to join the Maryland staff as offensive coordinator. Rittenberg notes that Canada signed a multi-year agreement with the Terps, though salary terms were not revealed. Walt Bell, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Florida State, made $500,000 in 2017, according to USA Today.

Maryland will be Canada’s seventh school to call plays for in this decade alone. He spent 2010 (and three years before that) at Indiana, then moved to Northern Illinois in 2011. He parlayed that into one season at Wisconsin, three at NC State, and then one season stints at Pittsburgh, LSU and now Maryland.

Report: Oklahoma State signs 27-year-old Australian punter

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Australian punters are the hot new commodity in college football, and word has made it back to the Land Down Under: punt the ball far and high enough and you, too, can receive a full scholarship to an American university.

According to the Latrobe Valley Express — which you now is legit, because its header as of press time already reads Wednesday, January 24 — 27-year-old Australian punter Tom Hutton has signed with Oklahoma State. Hutton hails from Newborough, Australia, about a two hour ride from Melbourne, and in December attended a training session at Prokick Australia.

“I was told about [American football] a few years ago so I thought ‘I’ll probably be too old for it now’, thinking that it was like Aussie Rules and that if you were over 21 then you had no chance,” Hutton told the paper. “But then I saw a few older blokes getting scholarships so I thought I may as well give it a go.”

Prokick Australia claims the last five Ray Guy Award winners as alums, including 2017 victor Michael Dickson of Texas. Oklahoma State saw his ability up close, as Dickson punted 11 times for a 50.9-yard average in October, nearly booting his way to victory in a 13-10 Cowboys overtime victory. “Their punter is — did he win the Ray Guy Award last year?” Mike Gundy said after that game. “He should have won it. He changed the field on us. I don’t know what the yardage is, I just know that every time we go a little bit of field position, he changed the field … he was fantastic for them.”

The story of how Hutton was approved for an Oklahoma State offer doesn’t go into details, but Hutton’s recollection of how Hutton, who works overnights at a paper mill in addition to playing Aussie rules football in the Mid Gippsland Football League, received the offer is perfect.

“I woke up after night shift on two hours sleep and this person said ‘we know where you’re going, you’re going to Oklahoma State and we’ve got the coach on the phone,'” he said. “I thought ‘Jesus Christ, can you give me half an hour? I need to have a shower and actually wake up and make sure this is not a dream.'”

According to the Oklahoma State blog Pistols Firing, Hutton will arrive in Stillwater in July and have four years of eligibility.

Arkansas adds TCU signee who signed with New York Yankees

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Austin Aune‘s circuitous sports journey, one which Chris Weinke and Brandon Weeden would approve, has taken its next stop in Fayetteville.

According to 247Sports.com, Aune has joined the Arkansas football program and is enrolled in classes at the university.  At least initially, the quarterback will be a part of the Razorbacks as a walk-on; it’s expected he’ll take the field with the rest of his new teammates when spring practice kicks off month after next.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Aune had also considered TCU and North Texas before the SEC’s mystique proved to be too much.

“The allure of the SEC and the SEC West and Chad [Morris] and Coach [Joe] Craddock, and everybody being on the same page up there as far as the opportunity goes,” the player’s father, Greg Aune, told the Democrat-Gazette. “He likes their system. It’s a fast-paced system, wide-open system. That’s what he played in high school. It’s a pass-oriented offense. He’s a read-run oriented guy, so that’s a lot of what those guys do.”

The fact that Aune considered TCU as a potential landing spot before settling on Morris and UA shouldn’t come as a surprise as he actually signed with the Horned Frogs back in 2012.  However, he was drafted by the New York Yankees that same year and, after signing a contract that included a $1 million signing bonus, embarked on what turned out to be a six-year career in the minor leagues.  Despite that financial commitment, Aune never made it past Single-A ball.