The people of Birmingham love their college football. They love Alabama and Auburn, to be sure. But what makes Birmingham different is their fervor for the sport when the Tide and Tigers have the night off.
Case in point: Texas’s 50-47 double overtime thriller of a win over No. 10 Notre Dame.
The game earned a 7.0 national rating, matching the largest rating of the 2015 regular season (Ohio State’s 42-13 thumping of Michigan in November.) Alabama’s destruction of USC and Wisconsin’s upset of LSU were ESPN’s highest-rated Saturday game with a 4.9.
(As always, ratings are relative. A 7.0 is “massive” for college football, yet the NFL averaged a 10.9 for its sentient test pattern of a Thursday night schedule last year.)
If the entire nation averaged a 7.0, the ratings inside the state of Texas had to be astronomical, right? Austin scored a 25.4 rating, while San Antonio checked in at 15.1, Dallas-Fort Worth at 13.1 and Houston at 11.5. (Keep in mind, a typical Cowboys game scores in the low 30’s up and down Interstate 35.)
Those are huge numbers.
And they still didn’t top Birmingham. According to Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News, Birmingham checked in with a 17.3 rating. And, confirming that the only emotion strong enough to rival love is hate, Oklahoma City scored a 12.8.
Willie Taggart has found himself someone to (help) guide his first offense at Florida State.
While there’s nothing official yet from the football program, 247Sports.com was among the first to report that Maryland’s Walt Bell is set to be named as FSU’s offensive coordinator. Bell is also expected to serve as FSU’s quarterbacks coach.
ESPN.com subsequently confirmed the initial reports.
The 33-year-old Bell spent the past two seasons as the coordinator at Maryland. Prior to that, he held the same job, along with quarterbacks coach responsibility, at Arkansas State from 2014-15.
While Bell called plays during his stint with the Terrapins, it’s expected Taggart will have play-calling responsibilities with the Seminoles.
Tuesday night, the Pullman Police Department confirmed that 21-year-old Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Very early Wednesday morning, the football program and athletic department released statements addressing the devastating developments.
HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MIKE LEACH
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
INTERIM ATHLETIC DIRECTOR John Johnson
“The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.
“Earlier tonight, the football team was brought together and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor, along with WSU Athletics medical team. The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed.“
There is utterly tragic and horrific news coming out of Pullman Tuesday night.
According to the Pullman Police Department, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead at his apartment late Tuesday afternoon of what was described as an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. “A rifle was discovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found,” the police stated in a release.
Police officers were called to the residence at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:40 p.m. local time) for a wellness check after the redshirt sophomore failed to show up for a team activity earlier in the day.
Hilinski was just 21 years old.
As of this posting, there’s been no official response from the football program regarding the passing of Hilinski. Wednesday, the university had been expected to announce the new athletic director replacing Bill Moos, Florida Atlantic’s Pat Chun; because of the football player’s death, that press conference will be rescheduled for a later date.
In place of Luke Falk, Hilinski started Wazzu’s Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State. With Falk off to the NFL, Hilinski was expected to be the Cougars’ starting quarterback in 2018.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Hilinski’s way-too-early passing.
Dino Babers has added a very experienced trenchman to his Syracuse coaching staff.
The school confirmed Tuesday that Babers has hired Mike Cavanaugh as his next offensive line coach. In a coaching career that spans 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has been a line coach in some form or fashion for 31 of them.
“Mike has an outstanding track record of teaching and developing quality offensive linemen,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s done it successfully at every level in college as well as the pros. This was an opportunity to add someone whose knowledge and experience will greatly enhance our staff and benefit our players.”
The past three seasons, Cavanaugh was the line coach at Nebraska. At the FBS level, he’s also served as a line coach at Oregon State (2005-14) and Hawaii (1999-2004).
From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.
“I’d like to thank Coach Babers for this opportunity and for welcoming me into the Syracuse family,” Cavanaugh said. “He and his staff have coached some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I’m excited to learn from them and to be part of the championship-caliber program they are building at Syracuse.”
The 2018 season will mark the first time since 2004 Cavanaugh is not a part of a Mike Riley-coached staff.