JJ Stankevitz

Comcast SportsNet Notre Dame Insider; NBC Sports College Football Talk contributor
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Pair of Oklahoma students arrested for breaking into LSU’s Tiger Stadium

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In your “yeah, what?” news of the day, two Oklahoma students were arrested over the weekend after breaking into LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

According to WBRZ, LSU police responded to a call of two men trespassing inside Tiger Stadium. When police approached them, they both attempted to run away, resulting in their arrests. They were charged with unauthorized entry of a place of business and resisting an officer by flight.

WBRZ reported that the two students didn’t cause any property damage or steal anything, so this wasn’t like some rivalry-fueled defacing spree. In all honestly, I thought most of these big stadiums were open to the public when not in use, given they’re on campus grounds and all.

And since we’re here, Oklahoma and LSU have only played twice in their illustrious football histories, with the Sooners winning the 1950 Sugar Bowl and the Tigers winning the 2004 Sugar Bowl.

 

The three biggest overperformering and underperformering teams of 2016

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It’s been two weeks since Clemson dramatically was crowned champions of the College Football Playoff over Alabama, putting a close on the 2016 season. The dust is settled and recruiting pushes are the focus across the country, but how about one final look back at what happened last season?

I’m a devoted follower of S&P+, which measures a team’s efficiency, explosiveness, field position, drive finishing and turnovers (it’s pretty intuitive; for a brief primer click here, for a full glossary, click here). I generally use S&P+ rankings as a way to see which teams did the things necessary to be successful, though they don’t tell the whole story — a few bad fourth quarters, strange coaching decisions and/or special teams gaffes can skew a team’s record down, for example (see: Notre Dame).

So let’s take a quick look at which teams over-performed their S&P+ ranking:

West Virginia (S&P+: 29, final record: 10-3)

The Mountaineers were the lowest-ranked 10-win Power 5 team by S&P+, and their No. 29 ranking put them behind two sub-.500 teams that we’ll get to later.

Georgia (S&P+: 68, final record: 8-5)

Georgia finished one spot ahead of fellow SEC East side Mizzou, which went 4-8. The Bulldogs won two games they were expected to lose by S&P+ (over Mizzou and Auburn).

Boston College (S&P+: 86, final record: 7-6)

Steve Addazio’s dudes were the lowest-ranked Power 5 team to finish with a record over .500 and finished only two spots ahead of 2-10 Virginia.

And now, the underperformers:

LSU (S&P+: 4, final record: 8-4)

By S&P+, LSU did the things necessary to get them into the College Football Playoff, though they didn’t show up in three of their five games against top-15 opponents (even if those games resulted in close losses). For a team that changed coaches mid-season, though, eight wins sounds about right.

Notre Dame (S&P+: 26, final record: 4-8)

Seven of Notre Dame’s eight losses came by eight points or fewer, and the toxic combination of awful early-season defense (in losses to Texas, Michigan State and Duke), brutal special teams mistakes (in losses to Michigan State, Duke and N.C. State), head-scratching coaching decisions (in losses to N.C. State, Stanford and Navy) and second-half nosedives (in losses to Stanford and Virginia Tech) were the perfect recipe for a team that did enough things right to at least make a bowl game finishing with an embarrassing 4-8 record.

Ole Miss (S&P+: 27, final record: 5-7)

Ole Miss had a greater than 50 percent win expectancy against Alabama (63 percent) and Arkansas (70 percent) and lost both games. But the Rebels’ final three games were horrid, with win expectancies of 18 percent, zero percent and zero percent against Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.

10 days after being hired at Ole Miss, Matt Lubick leaving to become Baylor’s OC

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Matt Lubick is expected to be hired as Baylor’s offensive coordinator, according to Football Scoop and multiple reports, only 10 days after accepting a job a Ole Miss’ wide receivers coach.

Hugh Freeze confirmed Lubick’s departure Monday morning.

The 44-year-old Lubick spent 2016 as Oregon’s offensive coordinator, but after Mark Helfrich was fired he opted to accept Freeze’s offer to join the Rebels’ coaching staff Dec. 23 (Lubick’s future at Oregon under Willie Taggart was to be determined when he left). Lubick previously coached Oregon’s wide receivers from 2013-2015 before being promoted to offensive coordinator.

Lubick had coached at Ole Miss before, too, spending the 2005 and 2006 seasons in Oxford as the program’s wide receivers coach.

Lane Kiffin out as Alabama’s OC a week before College Football Playoff title game

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Lane Kiffin has taken his final you-know-what-chewing on the sideline from Nick Saban.

In an unprecedented stunner, Alabama announced Monday — a week before it defends its College Football Playoff title against Clemson — that Kiffin will leave the program to focus on his new head coaching duties at Florida Atlantic. Steve Sarkisian, the former Washington and USC coach who was set to replace Kiffin as offensive coordinator next season, will take over those duties for the championship game.

“We appreciate all that Lane has done for our football program over the last three years,” Saban said. “We sat down following the Washington game and talked about the time demands of managing both jobs, and we recognized that it is best for our players, and for Lane, that we allow him to turn his full attention to his new head coaching role at FAU.

“This wasn’t an easy decision and we appreciate the way Lane handled this in terms of doing what is best for our team. At the end of the day, both of us wanted to put our players in the best position to be successful. Obviously, we are in a unique situation here where we have our next offensive coordinator already on staff. We have full confidence that Sark will step in right away and make this a smooth transition.”

Alabama’s offense struggled at times in its 24-7 win over Washington in Saturday’s Peach Bowl semifinal, and freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts completed just seven of 14 passes for 57 yards. Bo Scarbrough‘s 68-yard touchdown run and a suffocating defense bailed out Kiffin’s offense in Atlanta.

But changing offensive coordinators a week before a title game? That seems downright crazy if it were a decision made by any other coach than Saban. This may be a shocking part of the “process,” but who are we to not trust Saban?

“After going through these last couple of weeks, trying to serve the best interests of two universities as an offensive coordinator and a head coach, it became apparent that both programs would be better served by me giving all my time and efforts to being the head coach at FAU,” Kiffin said. “After meeting with coach Saban during preparations last night and this morning, we mutually decided that it was in everyone’s best interests for the players and the program for coach Sarkisian to take over all responsibilities as offensive coordinator for the championship game.

“This was a very difficult decision, but it’s a decision made in the best interests of the program. I look forward to helping Alabama win another championship, and would like to thank coach Saban, the staff, and all the players and fans for the past three years at UA for an unforgettable time and championship run. Roll Tide!”

Utah hires Eastern Washington QB guru Troy Taylor as next offensive coordinator

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Utah’s offense could be getting a major overhaul with the hiring of Troy Taylor, who co-coordinated Eastern Washington’s explosive offense at the FCS level this year.

Taylor will be Utah’s next offensive coordinator in a move announced by the Utes Monday. Coach Kyle Whittingham also announced that offensive line coach Jim Harding, who spent the last two seasons as the program’s co-offensive coordinator, was named Utah’s assistant head coach.

Taylor’s most notable coaching accomplishment, though, may not have come at Eastern Washington in 2016 despite the Eagles averaging 529.6 yards per game and 42.4 points per game en route to a 12-2 record and FCS semifinal loss to Bo Pelini and Youngstown State.

That’s because Taylor worked with Jake Browning from the time the Washington quarterback was in fifth grade through the end of his record-setting prep career at Folsom High School in California. So perhaps we’ll see an innovated, quarterback-driven offense installed in Salt Lake City stating this coming fall.

“I have watched Troy Taylor closely over the years when he was coaching innovative high school offenses in California and was eager to see how that translated to college coaching. He achieved the same results at Eastern Washington and we are fortunate that Troy was interested in bringing that style of offense here to Utah,” Whittingham said. “Troy has trained a prolific number of record-setting quarterbacks in high school, at his academy and now in college.”

Here’s how Taylor described his offense:

“We will have an attacking style of offense that stretches the field and the defense in every way,” Taylor said. “Creating success for the quarterback will be our utmost priority. If your QB plays well, you have a great chance of winning. Therefore, the development of his fundamentals and skill set are vital. However, it is just as imperative to have an offensive system that is both dynamic and user friendly. That has been the driving force in my offensive philosophy and I am excited to bring this to the University of Utah.”