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Former Tennessee ADs Dave Hart and John Currie both have new (temporary) jobs

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Former Tennessee athletic directors are apparently staying quite busy since leaving Rocky Top.

East Carolina announced on Thursday that former Vols AD Dave Hart was hired by the school as a special advisor to the chancellor for athletics. His primary focus will be on leading the search for the Pirates new men’s basketball coach but the veteran administrator-turned-consultant is also being tasked with “providing operational and strategic guidance to the chancellor relating to athletic affairs.”

Hart, who served as ECU’s athletic director for nearly a decade, will in part take over for the school’s current AD Jeff Compher — whose controversial tenure will come to an end on May 1 after getting his contract bought out. Hart does not appear to be up for a full-time return in Greenville after retiring last summer from his position in Knoxville but does seem to be helping his old program out with a six month contract with his consulting firm.

He’s not the only one ticketed for a new position though as Hart’s successor, John Currie, was announced as an executive-in-residence for a week at Robert Morris University on Monday. Currie lasted only eight months with the Vols before being replaced by current AD Phillip Fulmer but continues to get paid by Tennessee a whopping $75,000 a week as part of his suspension that dates back to last December.

While getting let go by a school never seems like a great thing for one’s career, a small exception might be made for former UT athletic directors in recent years judging by how quickly they find something new.

Former UCLA DE named special teams coordinator at Hawaii

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The lone opening on Nick Rolovich‘s Hawaii coaching staff has been filled.

The Mountain West Conference football program announced Thursday that Michael Ghobrial has been hired by Rolovich.  Specifically, Ghobrial will serve as the Rainbow Warrior’s special teams coordinator.

Ghobrial will replace Mayur Chaudhari, who left last month for a job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

“Coach Ghobrial was incredibly impressive during the interview process and showed a real grinder element to his coaching style which I appreciate,” Rolovich said in a statement. “All his references describe him as a tireless worker who searches out information constantly. The amount of contacts he’s developed in a short time is impressive; I received calls from NFL coaches including (former UH linebacker) Jeff Ulbrich, now with the Atlanta Falcons to high-level college coordinators.

“We’re excited with his familiarity with recruiting the state of Texas. His special teams schematics is top-notch and he also works with the specialists themselves which is important in the process of coaching that unit.”

The past two seasons, Ghobrial, who played defensive end at UCLA from 2006-07, served as the special teams coordinator at FCS Tarleton State.  This will mark Ghobrial’s first on-field job at an FBS program.

South Carolina adds more future games against Sun Belt schools

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Not surprisingly, South Carolina’s future slates will have even more of a Sun Belt Conference flavor to it.

As we noted Thursday, USC and Appalachian State had reached an agreement on a three-game series that will begin in 2019 and will culminate with an open-ended third game sandwiched between a 2027 game.  In addition to that, USC also confirmed future games against SBC programs Georgia State and Troy.

The Gamecocks will play host to the Trojans on September 25, 2021, while they’ll do the same for the Panthers Sept. 3, 2022.

South Carolina owns a 3-0 record against Troy, with wins in 2004, 2005 and 2010. USC and Georgia State have never met in football.

Lance Leipold announces tweaks to Buffalo coaching staff

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In the midst of spring practices, FBS teams continue to tweak and massage their coaching staffs as they continue prepping for the upcoming season.

The latest to do as much is Buffalo, with the MAC school announcing Thursday that Lance Leipold has shuffled some assignments on his Bulls staff. Per the team’s release, Jim Zebrowski will join Andy Kotelnicki as co-offensive coordinator. Zebrowski will continue in his role as quarterbacks coach.

According to the Bulls, Kotelnicki, who also coaches running backs, and Zebrowski, who just completed his first season with the program, will share play-calling duties.

Additionally, Roc Bellantoni has been named special teams coordinator and Taiwo Onatolu will join him as co-special teams coordinator. Onatolu will continue coaching cornerbacks while Bellatoni, promoted as Leipold’s 10th assistant earlier this year, will handle defensive ends.

In three seasons at Buffalo, Leipold has led the Bulls to a 13-23 record. This past season, the Bulls’ six wins were the most for the program since going 8-5 in 2013. The 6-6 record was just the third time since the Bulls returned in 1999 that they’ve finished with a record at or above .500.

Man sentenced to 30 years in killing of former USC RB Joe McKnight

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The man found guilty in the shooting death of former USC running back Joe McKnight has been sentenced, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

According to the Times, 56-year-old Ronald Gasser was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison. He had been convicted of manslaughter after originally being indicted on one count of second-degree murder.

Gasser’s attorneys had argued that their client acted in self-defense in what was described as a road-rage incident in New Orleans in December of 2016.

From the Times‘ report:

… McKnight walked up to his car following a 5-mile confrontation that began on a bridge spanning the Mississippi River in New Orleans and ended with gunfire in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Witnesses at the trial said McKnight had been weaving in and out of traffic at high speed before the shooting. Prosecutors acknowledged to the jury that he was, in the words of Assistant Dist. Atty. Seth Shute, “driving like a jerk.” But they argued that Gasser escalated the conflict, following McKnight down an exit that he would not ordinarily have taken moments before the shooting.

Shute acknowledged that McKnight had a hand on the open, passenger side window of Gasser’s car before he was shot. But he said physical evidence proved Gasser lied during extensive police questioning when he claimed McKnight lunged at him.

McKnight, who was 28 when he was killed, was a highly-touted five-star recruit who signed with USC in 2007. He finished his injury-plagued collegiate career with 2,213 yards and 13 touchdowns prior to leaving the Trojans early for the NFL following the 2009 season.