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LSU confirms hiring of Matt Canada as Ed Orgeron’s OC

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It’s officially “Eaux Canada” with an exclamation point instead of a question mark.

Following burgeoning speculation over the past few days, LSU confirmed Wednesday morning in a press release that Ed Orgeron has hired Matt Canada as his new offensive coordinator.  The announcement comes after Canada spent most of Tuesday meeting with Orgeron and the rest of his coaching staff.

Reportedly, Canada turned down three other Power Five jobs to accept LSU’s offer.

Canada, who will be officially introduced at a 2:30 p.m. ET press conference this afternoon, was given a three-year contract that will be worth more than $1 million annually.  Last season at Pittsburgh, it’s believed Canada was paid in the neighborhood of $600,000.

“When I first sat down with Joe Alleva and we mapped out a plan for LSU football, we agreed that we were going to demand excellence on both sides of the ball,” said Orgeron in a statement. “We want a defense that’s impenetrable and an offense that’s exciting and unstoppable. Anyone who wants to play football at the highest levels is going to want to play at LSU.”

Given Orgeron’s experience on the other side of the ball, and the presence of one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the game still on his staff in Dave Aranda, the offensive coordinator was thought to be the most important hire of the new head coach’s tenure — especially when the offensive woes of the last few years are factored in.  Based on 2016, the football program should be cautiously optimistic Orgeron nailed the hire.

Canada, an Indiana native, just completed his first regular season as the coordinator at Pitt. In 2016, Canada directed an offense that averaged 14 points per game more than the Panthers did a year ago and has already set a program record for most points scored in a single season with a bowl game still remaining. He was the only offensive coordinator named as a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in the country.

Since his first FBS coordinating job at Northern Illinois in 2003, Canada has been a coordinator at Indiana (2007-10), back at NIU again (2011), Wisconsin (2012) and North Carolina State (2012-15) before landing at Pitt for what turned into a one-and-done.

“We have a real opportunity under Coach Orgeron to propel LSU football to another level,” Canada said. “The chance to put together a high-powered offense with the athletic ability available at LSU and the leadership of Coach ‘O’ is incredibly exciting. I’ve long-respected Coach Orgeron’s ability to recruit, lead and motivate. What he did as head coach at LSU under difficult circumstances was really impressive. I’m thrilled to be a part of the vision for the program.”

Canada is expected to remain with Pitt through the Pinstripe Bowl matchup with Northwestern Dec. 28.

“On behalf of our entire program, I want to thank Matt for his many important contributions, on and off the field, this past year,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “It was important that Matt remain with our team through the bowl game and he had no hesitation about that. He wants to send this team, and especially our seniors, out the right way. Our search for a new offensive coordinator will fully begin after the bowl. Our primary focus is on a successful completion to the 2016 season.

“When you hire great people and have success, your staff will always be in demand. I’m confident we will find another outstanding person and professional to continue our momentum.

Akron earns second-ever spot in MAC championship game

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Akron came into Week 13 needing to either win or rely on someone else to lose.  In the end, the Zips decided to just go ahead and punch their own ticket to the Motor City, thank you very much.

Jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead Tuesday night, that margin proved to be more than enough for Akron as they easily cruised past rival Kent State in a 24-14 win.  Kent actually outgained its hosts 246-191, but a fumble return for a touchdown with less than 20 seconds left in the second quarter essentially sealed the win for Akron.

Both Akron and Ohio entered this week tied atop the MAC East at 5-2.  However, the Zips beat the Bobcats in Week 12, meaning Akron is the first MAC team to claim a spot in the conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field next weekend.

This will mark the Zips’s second-ever title-game appearance, with the first coming in 2005.  That season, Akron beat Northern Illinois 31-30 for its first-ever conference championship.

Akron will play either NIU (6-1) or Toledo (6-1) in this year’s title game, although it’s trending heavily toward the Rockets as they own the head-to-head with the Huskies.  So, the possibilities?

Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.

Report: Florida appears ready to move on from Chip Kelly pursuit if deal isn’t consummated soon

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Florida’s search for a new head coach could very shortly be ready to take another twist.

Despite a certain former Head Ball Coach saying UF’s new head coach would be a current one, speculation on Jim McElwain‘s replacement has seemingly centered on Chip Kelly over the last few days. In fact, a group of UF officials headed by athletic director Scott Stricklin and president Kent Fuchs visited with Kelly in New Hampshire over the weekend to discuss the job.

While it walks, talks and smells like the university has targeted Kelly as its top choice, it appears they want an answer, one way or the other, from the former Oregon head coach sooner rather than later. From Yahoo! SportsPat Forde:

But with other potential candidates becoming available for discussion this weekend, Florida officials appear to be ready to move on shortly after Thanksgiving if a deal has not been struck with Kelly.

Potentially mucking up the works in Gainesville is UCLA, which fired Jim Mora Sunday and is also said to be targeting Kelly as a replacement.  In fact, it’s being reported that the Bruins’ search contingent has already met with Kelly.

UCF’s Scott Frost, who is believed to be Nebraska’s top choice when/when it moves on from Mike Riley, and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen are thought to be likely targets should either Kelly snub the Gators or they move on.

One very likely reason for UF’s reported urgency for a decision from Kelly is the revamped recruiting calendar. This year marks the first time that there’s an early signing period in football, with Class of 2018 recruits given a 72-hour window from Dec. 20-22 to sign their National Letters of Intent.

The sooner UF can wrap up its search, the sooner its new coach and his staff can try to hold together some semblance of a first recruiting class with the program – especially with two SEC programs, Tennessee and Ole Miss, already looking for a head coach while a couple of others (Arkansas, Texas A&M) could be on the hunt as early as this coming weekend as well.

Miami jumps Clemson, Wisconsin remains No. 5 in latest CFP rankings

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The third-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and the only changes in the top 12 came at spot No. 2, where Miami jumped Clemson ahead of the pair’s ACC title clash on Dec. 2.

USC remained the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 11, dimming any hopes the Pac-12 could back-door its way into the top four should chaos reign elsewhere. The Trojans were one spot ahead of TCU and two spots ahead of the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team in Washington State. Central Florida again led all Group of 5 teams at No. 15.

Virginia Tech re-joined the rankings at No. 25, one spot behind the debut rankings for South Carolina.

The top 25:

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Clemson
4. Oklahoma
5. Wisconsin
6. Auburn
7. Georgia
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. USC
12. TCU
13. Washington State
14. Mississippi State
15. Central Florida
16. Michigan State
17. Washington
18. LSU
19. Oklahoma State
20. Memphis
21. Stanford
22. Northwestern
23. Boise State
24. South Carolina
25. Virginia Tech

Report: LSU victory would not save Kevin Sumlin’s job

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Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday afternoon he expects to be Texas A&M’s head coach in 2018. A report Tuesday night says otherwise.

Sumlin will be fired in the day or days following Saturday’s game with No. 20 LSU, win or lose, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. The Aggies are 0-5 against LSU under Sumlin and double-digit underdogs for Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge. The Chronicle‘s report is not the first to proclaim Sumlin’s future firing, but it is the most definitive.

Sumlin is 7-4 (4-3 SEC) this season and 51-25 overall, a mark that ranks in the top-third of the SEC since joining the league in 2012 — but Sumlin is not paid to deliver top-third results. His program failed to live up to the standard set in that debut campaign, with an 11-2 mark, a win in Tuscaloosa, a Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy for Johnny Manziel.

The Chronicle reported that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will be A&M’s top target to replace Sumlin.