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Saquon Barkley fuels fast start for Penn State, but Indiana hanging around

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Penn State may have had to sneak out of Iowa City with a win last week, but the Nittany Lions started fast in their return home to Beaver Stadium this week. Saquon Barkley added to his Heisman candidacy highlight reel by returning the game’s opening kick 98 yards for a touchdown and later added a nifty one-handed catch before taking off for a big gain as Penn State jumped out to a 28-0 lead on Indiana, but the Hoosiers have clawed back a little and only trail 28-14 at halftime.

Penn State scored 28 points in the first quarter, including a second score just a few minutes after Barkley’s kickoff touchdown. The Nittany Lions have scored 14 points off Indiana turnovers, including a short return on special teams by Nick Scott. Scott picked up a loose football after Irvin Charles knocked the ball out of the hands of Indiana’s J-Shun Harris II on a punt return. Scott needed just 13 yards on the return for a score.

Harris was slow to get up off the field on the play and has not returned to the game. Indiana also saw running back Morgan Ellison get helped off the field in the first half.

Indiana cut the lead in half late in the second quarter eight plays after a turnover by Penn State. After picking off a pass, Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs Jr. picked up an 18-yard touchdown reception from Peyton Ramsey to continue the chipping away at Penn State’s lead.

Despite getting off on the right foot in the first quarter, Penn State’s offense went into a shell in the second quarter as Indiana found ways to bring pressure on Trace McSorley. Toward the end of the first half, Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki took a shot to the ribs that required some medical assistance off the field. Penn State failed to score in the second quarter, while Indiana did all it could to chip away. The question in the second half is how long Indiana can keep Penn State from doing much damage, and if they can find enough offense to give Penn State a run.

College Football Playoff reveals new chairperson, six new selection committee members

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As expected, the group that will determine the four playoff semifinalists next season will have a new leader — with the group consisting of new members as well.

The College Football Playoff announced Wednesday that Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens has been named as the selection committee’s new chairperson.  Mullens replaces Kirby Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director whose two-year term is expiring Feb. 1.

Former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long was the first CFP chair (2014-15).

“We are delighted that Rob will be stepping into this role,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “He is an experienced committee member, extremely passionate about college football, detail-oriented and brings a high level of energy that is perfectly suited to chairing the committee.”

As chairman, the press release stated, “Mullens will set the selection committee’s agenda, run its meetings and serve as the spokesman for the committee along with Hancock.”

“College football plays a vital role in intercollegiate athletics, and it is an honor to continue to serve on the CFP Selection Committee,” said Mullens. “I look forward to partnering with the other committee members and the staff to build on the strong foundation which has been created in the first four years of the CFP.”

Additionally, the CFP announced six new committee members:

  • Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, as previously reported
  • Former journalist/current journalism professor Paola Boivin
  • Former Rice/Clemson/Arkansas/Air Force head coach Ken Hatfield
  • College and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott
  • Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury
  • Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin

There were five members whose terms are set to expire at the beginning of next month: Clemson AD Dan Radakovich, Arkansas AD Jeff Long, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford/Notre Dame/Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham, former Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson and former journalist Steve Wieberg.

The six additions bring the committee back to a dozen voters, including Robert Morris president Christopher B. Howard (term expires in Feb. of 2020), former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer (2020), Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith (2020), former Southern Miss head coach Jeff Bower (2019), former Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi (2019) and Mullen (2019).

You can wager on who will be first coach to leave their team, Nick Saban or Bill Belichick

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If you’re into this sort of thing, Bovada.lv has offered up a very interesting and intriguing wager.

There’s been some chatter of late that the 65-year-old Bill Belichick could be nearing the end of his wildly successful run with the New England Patriots, although the future Hall of Fame head coach has been dismissive of such talk. And then there’s 66-year-old Nick Saban, Belichick’s former defensive coordinator and rumor mill veteran who is regularly linked to the NFL or even other college jobs despite the future Hall of Famer’s wildly successful run with the Alabama Crimson Tide that shows no sign of abating.

That gets us back to Bovada, which asked a very simple question in their latest prop bet: Who will be the first coach to part ways with their current team? According to them, Belichick is a slight favorite to leave Foxboro before Saban takes his leave of Tuscaloosa.

Bill Belichick -150 (2/3)
Nick Saban +110 (11/10)

If I were a gambling man — and I’ll bet you I’m not — I’d put my money on the younger Belichick to not only leave his team first but to be the first to retire from coaching, period, in large part because of quotes like these from his former lieutenant.

“I’ve been a part of a team since I was nine,” Saban said in June of last year, shortly after Bob Stoops announced his retirement from Oklahoma. “The thought of not being [part of a team] scares me.”

Herb Hand announced as Texas’ offensive line coach

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On the same day Auburn officially hired his replacement, Herb Hand‘s new employer has officially confirmed his move from The Plains.

Tuesday, reports surfaced that Hand was leaving AU to take over as the offensive line coach at Texas.  One day later, Tom Herman confirmed Hand’s addition to his Longhorns coaching staff.

In addition to line duties, Hand will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator.

“Though we haven’t worked together or personally met before discussing our position, Herb is someone I’ve admired since our teams played each other at Rice and Tulsa,” Herman said in a statement. “I was extremely impressed then and have continued to be in the years since. As an aspiring young coach, I spent a great deal of time studying the best offenses around the country, and his group was continually one of them. They were as well coached up front as I’ve seen, so when I was looking to fill our 10th coach position and he was interested, we had a great visit, and we’re thrilled we were able to get him.”

Hand spent the past two seasons as the line coach at Auburn.  Prior to that, he spent two years with Penn State (2014-15) and four at Vanderbilt (2010-13).

“We are extremely excited and honored to be joining the Longhorn family,” Hand said. “We had a great situation at Auburn and were very happy there, but the opportunity to come to Austin, to work with Coach Herman and the Texas staff, to be a part of the history and tradition at The University of Texas, it was one we could not pass up.”

24-year-old Charlie Weis Jr. hired as Lane Kiffin’s OC

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For those hoping for a Weis to get back into the coordinating game, today’s your lucky day.

Both fauowlaccess.com and the Sun-Sentinel are reporting that Lane Kiffin is hiring Charlie Weis Jr. as FAU’s new offensive coordinator.  The 24-year-old Weis, the son of former Notre Dame and Kansas head coach Charlie Weis, would become the youngest coordinator at the FBS level when the move comes to fruition.

Weis would replace Kendal Briles, who left to take the coordinator job at Houston earlier this month.

This would actually serve as Weis’ second “stint” with Kiffin at FAU.  Nearly two months after being hired by Kiffin to coach tight ends, Weis left to take a job as an offensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons in February of last year.

Kiffin and Weis also both worked on Nick Saban‘s coaching staff at Alabama