If it seems like Taysom Hill has been around forever, you would not be mistaken. Saturday night’s Cactus Kickoff Classic was the fifth BYU season opener that the quarterback took a snap in and his fourth straight start in the first game of the year for the Cougars.
By all accounts however, this opener was probably the sweetest of them all for the signal-caller who graduated high school back in 2009. Hill suffered season-ending injuries in 2012, 2014 and last year but triumphantly returned to the field against Arizona to deliver a rousing 18-16 victory in the final two minutes that also doubled as head coach Kalani Sitake’s first win with the Cougars.
Hill finished the evening 21-of-29 for 202 yards and a touchdown through the air, leading his team on the game-winning drive with just 1:38 left on the clock. The quarterback built like a tank also rushed for 37 yards and provided plenty of veteran leadership on the sidelines next to first time college coordinator (and former BYU legend) Ty Detmer.
The Cougars defense also came to play, sacking Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon four times and picking him off twice. They are active in the trenches against a young offensive line and linebacker Butch Pau’u seemed to be all over the field on his way to an eight tackle (2.5 for a loss) and one sack night.
There was a bit of mystery as to whether Solomon would start behind center for Arizona or if head coach Rich Rodriguez would opt to go with redshirt sophomore Brandon Dawkins instead. It was Solomon’s show all game long and he extended a few plays with his legs but was otherwise middle of the road until the final quarter. That’s when the team came roaring back, with the quarterback keying a crazy comeback that gave the Wildcats the lead after a 49 yard run by tailback Nick Wilson.
That late game situation put the pressure on a first year head coach in Sitake, who took over at his alma mater from now Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall. BYU had to sweat things out at the end a bit but thankfully they had Hill behind center to help calmly march the Cougars down the field.
Sitake remarkably tapped freshman Jake Oldroyd — not the team’s other kicker, Rhett Almond — for his first ever college kick to be the eventual 33 yard game-winner.
It was a extraordinary way to win your first game but it was likely just as memorable for the team’s veteran quarterback.
Looks like Cincinnati didn’t need to go far to find their replacement for Tommy Tuberville.
According to Toledo sports reporter Jordan Strack, the Bearcats will make the hire of Ohio State co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell official on Saturday.
A person told USA Today that talks between the two parties were progressing on Friday night but not yet complete.
The move makes plenty of sense for Fickell, a Columbus, Ohio native who has spent nearly his entire career in the state not too far from Cincinnati. He did serve as interim head coach of the Buckeyes back when Jim Tressel was fired and was retained by Urban Meyer and served as one of the mainstays of the defensive staff.
Cincinnati has served as a bit of a stepping-stone job to major openings around the Midwest and has proven to be one of the more desirable jobs in the AAC given the resources at the school and the local talent base. The hiring of somebody like Fickell makes plenty of sense on both ends and it seems like the only unknown at this point is whether he sticks around for Ohio State’s semifinal game against Clemson or heads to Cincinnati right away.
After missing out on becoming head coach at Houston, it appears Lane Kiffin’s pursuit of a new job is moving on.
Moving on down to Boca Raton apparently.
First reported by FootballScoop, two sources confirmed to the Associated Press on Friday evening that Florida Atlantic is pursuing Kiffin to become the Owls’ next football coach.
Kiffin has also reportedly been in the mix at South Florida but it looks as though the Bulls are moving quickly to getting a deal done with Charlie Strong. If the former Texas coach turns USF down, the Alabama offensive coordinator could get back in the running in his old hometown of Tampa.
The Owls would represent an interesting destination if the two parties come together however. Combined with his offensive background and ability to recruit, the area known as a retirement mecca could instead be the perfect place for the young Kiffin to continue to rehabilitate his image. The program is looking to replace Charlie Partridge after three 3-9 seasons but FAU has solid facilities for a CUSA team and is located in a talent-rich area.
It seems like quite the drop from being the offensive coordinator at a program like Alabama but the drive to be a head coach is clearly a strong one for Kiffin.
One of the most interesting hires this offseason has been Baylor bringing in Matt Rhule over from Temple to be the program’s new head coach.
Rhule didn’t have any previous ties to the state of Texas so many folks were wondering what kind of staff would he assemble. On Friday it seems, we’re getting our first look that not a ton is going to change from his days in Philadelphia.
Baylor announced that four staff members — Francis Brown, Evan Cooper, Sean Padden and Mike Siravo — would be following Rhule from the Owls to the Bears. The program also made official the previously reported hire of Texas high school coach Paul Wetzel.
Padden was previously an associate AD at Temple and heads to Waco as Baylor’s new director of football operations. Titles were not given out for the other three members but Brown coached defensive backs for the Owls, Siravo was the team’s linebackers coach and Cooper was the director of player personnel.
Those hires represent plenty of familiar faces and continuity for Rhule as he settles in with Baylor and figure to be the first of many new coaches added to the staff over the coming weeks.
The release did not state whether they would be remaining with Temple through the team’s Military Bowl appearance but it seems pretty clear they will be filling their new roles relatively quick and probably won’t coach in the Owls’ final game this season.
It took a few weeks, but Missouri head coach Barry Odom has a new defensive line coach.
The school announced the hiring of Brick Haley on Friday afternoon, a longtime veteran SEC coach who heads to Columbia after previously serving on Charlie Strong’s staff at Texas.
“I’m very pleased and really excited to be joining Coach Odom’s program,” said Haley in a release. “We haven’t worked together, but I’m very aware of him and the reputation he has in the coaching profession. I look at this as an unbelievable opportunity to work with someone who has such an impressive passion and work ethic. It didn’t take me long in our conversations to know that Coach Odom is the right guy and someone you want to work with. I believe that Mizzou is a place where the sky is the limit, and I’m looking forward to being part of the program.”
Haley has a strong reputation as a recruiter, which is helpful considering that the Tigers are in a bit of a rebuilding job right now. In addition his recent stop at Texas, he also coached at LSU, the Chicago Bears, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and others.
Missouri does have a strong tradition of producing first-round picks along the defensive line and it appears that, after a one year speed bump with Jackie Shipp, the program has found the next coach to help carry on that tradition.