American Athletic Conference

GREENVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 05:  Devon Moore #20 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers is tackled by teammates Chris Mattocks #19 and Derek Blacknall #26 of the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Greenville, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Appalachian State, East Carolina announce 4-game series

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North Carolina’s eastern and western Group of 5 programs are going to rekindle their rivalry.

Appalachian State and East Carolina — or is that East Carolina and Appalachian State? — announced Tuesday plans to play a 4-game series in 2021 and then 2024-26.

The teams will meet on opening weekend (Sept. 4) of the 2021 season at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, then go home-and-home for the final three games of the series. East Carolina will host on Sept. 14, 2024, App State will take a turn on Sept. 6, 2025, and East Carolina will close the series on Sept. 5, 2026.

“On behalf of Appalachian State University, I would like to thank Will Webb, the Charlotte Sports Foundation, Jeff Compher and East Carolina University, the Carolina Panthers, and Bank of America Stadium for the opportunity to host a home game in downtown Charlotte,” App State AD Doug Gillin said in a statement Tuesday. “The chance for App State to host a home game in an NFL Stadium, in Charlotte where our largest alumni base is and against a program like East Carolina is a great opportunity for our students-athletes, alumni, and fans.”

“Both football programs have a rich history of success and outstanding fan support,” East Carolina AD Jeff Compher added. “I am especially excited for our future football student-athletes who will have an opportunity to play in such an exceptional NFL venue as Bank of America Stadium. We are grateful to Doug [Gillin] and our colleagues at Appalachian for working together in creating this four-game series.” 

The two teams have met 31 times previously, but only twice since 1979. East Carolina has won each of the recent meetings — 29-24 to open the 2009 season and 35-13 to open ’12, both in Greenville — and holds a 19-12 all-time advantage with wins in the last six and nine of the last 11 matches.

Memphis promotes Darrell Dickey to offensive coordinator

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 01: Riley Ferguson #4 of the Memphis Tigers throws the ball during the first half of a game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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Chip Long is off to call plays at Notre Dame, and now Tigers head coach Mike Norvell has moved his remaining staff up a line.

The Tigers announced Sunday associate head coach/running backs coach Darrell Dickey has been bumped to offensive coordinator, Kenny Dillingham, who spent last season as a graduate assistant working with the quarterbacks, is now the full-time quarterbacks coach, and offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield has added a run game coordinator title.

“The interest generated by our opening was remarkable,” Norvell saida. “But after the process of visiting with a number of coaches and coordinators from a variety of schools and just about every conference across college football, I feel the best option to continue our high standard of offensive success is to promote from within our staff. Our players have done a great job in adjusting to the offensive system we brought here this past season, and I believe next season, we have a chance to build off what we did as a unit.  With these changes, as well as Coach (wide receivers coach David) Johnson and myself, I feel like we will continue to have one of the top offensive staffs in the country.”

Dickey has spent the last five seasons on staff at Memphis, serving as offensive coordinator and running backs coach for Justin Fuente before he left for Virginia Tech. Dickey is best known for his run of four consecutive Sun Belt championships from 2001-04 as the head coach at North Texas.

“Coach Dickey brings a wealth of experience coordinating explosive offensive units and I believe that with the offensive staff we have in place, the brightest days ahead for this Memphis Tigers’ offense. Darrell does a tremendous job of leading men and developing relationships not only with players, but also with everyone associated with our program. He has done an outstanding job over the last five years here in Memphis developing a running backs group that I believe is one of the most dynamic in the country.”

Memphis finished the 2016 season ranked 33rd nationally in yards per play and tied for 15th in scoring despite losing first-round pick Paxton Lynch at quarterback.

Luke Fickell’s focus on Cincinnati recruiting will be welcome change for high school coaches

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Luke Fickell of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on from the sideline while playing the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 40-34. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Ohio State will always figure to dominate the in-state recruiting efforts within the state of Ohio, but former Buckeye assistant and new head coach of Cincinnati Luke Fickell will do all he can to recruit as well as possible from within the city of Cincinnati.

“We gotta do our best job there,” Fickell has said, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Fickell has called the city “The state of Cincinnati,” which is more of a way for a coach to build up its recruiting foundation more than anything else, but it is one key recruiting region that has remarkably seemingly been ignored by Fickell’s predecessor, Tommy Tuberville.

Tommy Tuberville never came to campus,’’ Elder High School coach Doug Ramsey said for a story by The Cincinnati Enquirer. “Twenty years I’ve been the head coach at Elder. In that time, 15 Elder guys either walked on or were on scholarship at UC. Butch Jones has been here, Brian Kelly has been here, Mark Dantonio has been here.'” Jones (Tennessee), Kelly (Notre Dame) and Dantonio (Michigan State) all thrived on that recruiting base and landed themselves more lucrative head coaching jobs as a result of their success at Cincinnati.

Tuberville instead used his experience and connections outside the state of Ohio to try and build his roster in as many ways as possible. Cincinnati’s Class of 2016 included just three players from the state of Ohio but pulled recruits from Michigan, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Alabama, California, Indiana, Pennsylvania and even Canada. Just six players in the Class of 2015 hailed from Ohio, and seven Ohio recruits were a part of Cincinnati’s Class of 2014. Tuberville’s mission was to expand Cincinnati’s recruiting base, which in theory is not a bad concept if it means building a stronger team. It does, however, leave many local high school coaches a bit frustrated knowing some talented players right under the nose of Cincinnati may have been overlooked to some degree.

Fickell is a stark contrast from the southern-based Tuberville. Fickell is an Ohio native who played for Ohio State and has coached with the Buckeyes for the bulk of his coaching career with two years at Akron. If any coach understands the recruiting landscape in Ohio, it will be Fickell.

Connecticut names Villanova’s Billy Crocker defensive coordinator

EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 21: Players and fans of the Connecticut Huskies celebrate their 20-17 win over the 13th ranked Houston Cougars at Rentschler Field on November 21, 2015 in East Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
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New UConn head coach Randy Edsall has named Billy Crocker his defensive coordinator, the program announced Saturday.

Crocker arrives from Villanova, where he helped the Wildcats build one of the most successful defenses in FCS. Villanova led the subdivision in total defense (259.9 yards per game allowed) and scoring defense (15 points per game allowed) this season. ‘Nova’s scoring defense average was cut in half (30.6 points per game) from the number Crocker inherited before taking over in 2012.

At Connecticut, he’ll be responsible for a defense that placed 65th nationally in both yards per play and points per game allowed.

“I am very excited to have Billy join our staff as the defensive coordinator,” Edsall said in a statement. “When you research the work that he has done the past several years with the Villanova defense, the productivity and improvement is unprecedented. I am thrilled to bring the Connecticut native back to work with us here at UConn.”

Crocker spent a total of 12 seasons at Connecticut; prior to that, he served as running backs coach at Albany. Though this will be his first job in the state, Crocker is a Connecticut native, hailing from Waterford, Conn.

Crocker will earn $300,000 per year over the course of his 3-year contract.

Nebraska reportedly hiring ex-UConn coach Bob Diaco as next defensive coordinator

PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 2: Head coach Bob Diaco of the Connecticut Huskies watches his team practice before they play the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium on October 2, 2015 in Provo Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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Nebraska head coach Mike Riley surprised many when he let longtime defensive coordinator Mark Banker go this week but didn’t leave Cornhuskers fans wondering what direction he was going to go on that side of the ball for long.

The Lincoln Journal Star reported on Friday evening that former UConn head coach Bob Diaco was taking over as Big Red’s new defensive coordinator.

The youthful coach went 11-26 over three seasons in Storrs, pulling a few upsets along the ways but struggled to get things going on the offensive end that eventually led to his replacement by former head man Randy Edsall.

Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the Blackshirts will be undergoing a transformation on the defensive side of the ball with the hire of Diaco, as he is highly regarded for his 3-4 defenses. The team mostly ran the 4-3 under Banker.

Diaco won the Broyles Award as the nation’s best assistant coach back in 2012 when he coordinated Notre Dame’s defense when they completed an undefeated season and made it to the BCS national title game. He reportedly was also in the running to take the same position at Arkansas among others.