Wes Lunt came to Illinois in hopes of finding some stability in his college career. After transferring from Oklahoma State following his freshman season, Lunt expected to find a footing in 2014 after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, but injuries got in the way in 2014 and a late and sudden coaching change at Illinois just days prior to kicking off the new season led to a weird season with the Illini last fall. Keeping with that trend, Illinois shook things up very late on the offseason calendar with a surprise coaching change to remove Bill Cubit and welcome in Lovie Smith and a new coaching staff. Lunt was as shocked as any with the recent changes, but appears to be ready to roll with Smith and new offensive coordinator Garrick McGee.
“It was just really frustrating because you build relationships, and both the Cubits, Ryan and Bill, have been really good to me,” Lunt said in an interview with Josh Moyer of ESPN.com. “I planned on going out with them, so that’s probably why it was so frustrating because it was change. But Coach Lovie Smith and Josh Whitman had a plan they executed really fast, which definitely eased a lot of that frustration.
“It was an up-and-down roller-coaster ride, but now we’re on an even, flat line and ready to go. It’s been as smooth a transition as it can be in the short amount of time it’s been.”
Lunt passed for 2,761 yards and 14 touchdowns last season for the Illini, with six interceptions along the way. Entering his final season of eligibility, Lunt hopes the new coaching staff will be able to help him achieve his full potential and help the rebuilding process for the program. He has already seemingly developed a solid relationship with McGee, who was quick to call the quarterback once he was hired by Illinois.
“He was very open on just about everything that could be this year,” Lunt said to ESPN.com. “That’s what really put me at ease. That’s what got me excited for spring ball and this season.”
You just have to love the vagaries of the annual coaching rumor mill.
The offensive line coach and running-game coordinator at Minnesota, Ed Warinner has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Paul Haynes as the head coach at Kent State. In fact, just yesterday, the former Ohio State and Notre Dame assistant had been labeled as a “strong candidate” for the opening.
Thursday night, however, FootballScoop.com tweeted that Warinner is no longer a candidate.
Less than 20 minutes after that tweet, Warinner took to his personal Twitter to confirm he is not only not a candidate for the job but claimed that he has “never been contacted by anyone involved with the school.” Left unsaid is whether those representing or associated with him had been in contact with the university.
Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen (HERE) and Syracuse offensive coordinator Sean Lewis (HERE) are the latest names du jour connected to the opening at the MAC school.
Kent State’s one of two jobs at the FBS level that remain open, although the other, Louisiana, could be closed in short order.
So much for that plan.
The odd marriage of Arizona State and long-time but not-in-a-long-time NFL coach Herm Edwards was made even odder by the fact that Edwards was retaining Todd Graham‘s entire offensive coaching staff. Less than two weeks into his tenure, however, there could be a glitch in the plans to help ease Edwards’s return to coaching as 247Sports.com is reporting that Louisiana (the school formerly known as Louisiana-Lafayette) has offered its head-coaching job to Billy Napier.
The 38-year-old Napier had just completed his first season as ASU’s offensive coordinator. He was also given the title of associate head coach upon Edwards’ hiring.
Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry was also one of the potential candidates for the Louisiana job who interviewed for the opening.
Whoever gets the job with the Ragin’ Cajuns will be replacing Mark Hudspeth, fired earlier this month after seven years with the program.
Vernon Hargreaves wasn’t retained by the new coaching staff in Fayetteville, but he’ll end up remaining in the SEC anyway.
Missouri confirmed Thursday that Hargreaves has been hired by Barry Odom and added to the second-year head coach’s staff. The veteran assistant will serve as Odom’s inside linebackers coach.
“I’ve known Vernon for a number of years and have always respected the way his position plays the game,” said Odom in a statement distributed by the school. “He will be a great teacher and mentor for our student-athletes. His experience will be so valuable for our program; I’m excited about Vernon and his family joining our Mizzou family.”
Hargreaves spent the past three seasons as the linebackers coach at Arkansas. Most notably, he served in the same capacity at Miami from 1998-2005.
Hargreaves also spent time on staffs at Houston (2013-14), South Florida (2010-12), East Carolina (2007-09), Florida International (2006) and UConn (1985-97). He was also the special teams coordinator at USF and ECU in addition to being a position coach.
As Willie Taggart constructs his first coaching staff at Florida State, he’s added yet another familiar face.
Taggart, FSU announced earlier Thursday, has hired Telly Lockette as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach. Lockette had spent the past three seasons as the running backs coach at Oregon State.
Prior to that, Lockette was a member of Taggart’s coaching staff at USF as running backs coach for two seasons and maintains deep ties to the fertile recruiting soil of South Florida.
“I’ve known Coach Lockette for a long time and am excited he is joining our staff at Florida State,” Taggart said. “He was an important part of my first staff at South Florida and has gained Power 5 experience with his last three seasons in the Pac-12. Coach Lockette is a tremendous recruiter and coach who does a phenomenal job developing student-athletes on and off the field. While we were at South Florida he was the primary recruiter for the Miami area and helped us sign a number of impact players, including Quinton Flowers, Khalid McGee and Deatrick Nichols. His expertise will benefit our current and future Seminoles.”
The job with Taggart at USF was Lockette’s first at any level of college football. The first 10 years of his coaching career were spent at the high school level, including a five-year stint at Miami Central from 2008-12.