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Utah State replaces running backs coach lost to Purdue with ex-North Carolina assistant

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Nearly three weeks after losing an assistant to a Big Ten school, Matt Wells has filled that particular hole on his Utah State coaching staff.

USU confirmed in a press release Wednesday that DeAndre Smith has been hired as the Aggies’ running backs coach. Smith replaces Mark Tommerdahl, who left last month to take over as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Purdue.

Last season, Smith was the running backs coach at North Carolina.

“I am extremely honored and fortunate to have this opportunity to work with Coach Wells and the rest of his staff,” a statement from Smith began. “I’m really excited about the opportunity of doing my part to help this program win a Mountain West Championship.”

Prior to his time at UNC, Smith was on the coaching staff at… Purdue, as running backs coach, of course. Smith has also served in that positional coaching role at Syracuse (2013-15), New Mexico (2012, 2008), Illinois (2010-11), UNLV (2009) and Miami of Ohio (2005-07).

One of the assistants on the Lobos’ staff during Smith’s first stint with the program? Smith’s new boss, Matt Wells, who served as wide receivers coach for the Mountain West program.

“DeAndre is an excellent addition to our football staff here at Utah State and fits well in a lot of areas with our staff,” the head coach said in his statement. “He is a tremendous football coach and does a great job coaching running backs. DeAndre is an excellent recruiter and someone that will coach our kids hard with a lot of love. We welcome DeAndre, Lori, Ryan and Donovan to our Aggie football family.”

North Carolina set to hire ex-Tennessee RBs coach Robert Gillespie

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Larry Fedora‘s North Carolina coaching staff is whole again.  Reportedly. first reported that UNC is expected to hire Robert Gillespie, presumably as running backs coach.  Bruce Feldman of subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Gillespie would fill the hole created by the departure of Gunter Brewer, who left as the Tar Heels’ wide receivers coach for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month.  It’s expected that Luke Paschall, currently the running backs coach, would assume Brewer’s role with receivers.

Gillespie, a former Florida running back, spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach at Tennessee.  He was originally retained by new head coach Jeremy Pruitt before parting ways with the football program shortly after National Signing Day.

In addition to UT, Gillespie has spent time on coaching staffs at South Carolina (2006-08), Oklahoma State (2009-10) and West Virginia (2011-12).  He was the running backs coach at each of those stops.

North Carolina reportedly loses WR coach Gunter Brewer to Philadelphia Eagles

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The butterfly effect of Josh McDaniels backing out of the Indianapolis Colts head job to stay with the Patriots has just hit North Carolina.

As we know, the Colts hired Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich after McDaniels left them at the altar. The Eagles then promoted wide receivers coach Mike Groh to offensive coordinator, and on Monday reportedly hired UNC’s Gunter Brewer to fill the role Groh vacated. Inside Carolina first reported the move, which has since been confirmed by a number of Philadelphia outlets.

Brewer has spent more than 30 years in coaching, all of them at the college level (with a 1-season detour as an offensive coordinator in France). His claim to fame at the college level was coaching three Biletnikoff finalists in Marshall’s Randy Moss and Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon. Moss won the honor in 1997, while Blackmon went back-to-back in 2010-11.

Brewer pre-dated the Larry Fedora era in Chapel Hill, serving as wide receivers coach in 2000-04 and then returning in 2012.

North Carolina confirms hiring of Rutgers CBs coach

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North Carolina’s pilfering of a Big Ten coaching staff is officially official.

The football program confirmed Thursday evening that Henry Baker has been added to Larry Fedora‘s UNC coaching staff. While his specific responsibilities weren’t laid out in the release, it’s expected Baker, who played his college football at Maryland, will serve as the Tar Heels’ cornerbacks coach.

“We are excited to bring Henry to Chapel Hill to join our staff,” a statement from Fedora began. “He adds a unique perspective having both coached and played in the ACC, and I know he will bring great energy to our staff as a coach and as a recruiter. We welcome Henry, Theresa and their three children into the Tar Heel family.”

Baker just completed his first season at Rutgers, where he was in charge of the Scarlet Knights’ corners. Prior to that, he held the same job at FCS Delaware for six seasons.

In the early aughts, Baker was a two-year starting defensive back for the Terrapins before embarking on his coaching career at his alma mater as a recruiting intern.

“I’ve played against UNC and I’ve coached against UNC, and the atmosphere here has always been electric,” Baker said. “To now be in Carolina Blue, this is truly an exciting time for me and my family. I can’t wait to get started.”

UNC and UCF tack on two more games to future scheduling agreement

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UNC and UCF scheduled a two-game home-and-home series in 2016 that is scheduled to begin this fall. Before the first of those games can even reach kickoff, the series has been extended with two additional games.

Now a four-year home-and-home series spanning a seven-year span, both schools will get two home games out of the scheduling agreement. The two additional games added to the agreement will be played Sept. 21, 2024 at North Carolina and Sept. 20, 2025 at UCF.

Adding home-and-home deals like this against power conference opponents is a major win for UCF, because there are not many power conference schools willing to schedule road games against non-power conference programs. To get two out of the deal is a nice get for the Knights. UCF will face two ACC opponents this season with a home game against Pitt in addition to the road game at UNC in non-conference play. UCF will also face two power conference opponents in 2019 (Stanford, at Pitt), and 2020 (UNC, at Georgia Tech). UCF is one of the top Group of Five conferences and has taken strides in scheduling by being able to get home games against power conference opponents (just recently hosted Maryland, for example) instead of loading up the non-conference slate with road games against power conference opponents.

North Carolina is required by the ACC to schedule at least one game per year against another power conference opponent. UCF does not satisfy the requirement without an exemption from the ACC, but UNC has the requirement satisfied in 2018 with a road game at California and in 2019 with a unique non-conference tilt against Wake Forest of the ACC (part of a two-year agreement with another game in 2021 at home). As it stands now, UNC still needs one power conference opponent lined up for the 2020 season unless a road game at UCF is given a pass.

North Carolina will host UCF on Sept. 15 of this year, but the Tar Heels will not make the return trip to Orlando until the opening week of the 2020 season (previously announced as Sept. 12, 2020, but UCF currently lists that game as “Week 1,” suggesting the date may be flexible). The two schools have never faced each other on the football field before.