North Carolina Tar Heels

CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 19: General view of the game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Illinois Fighting Illini at Kenan Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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North Carolina, Appalachian State announce 3-game series

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Appalachian State hosted Miami last year and recently announced a 4-game series with East Carolina, but Monday’s announcement tops both of them combined…. probably.

The Mountaineers announced Monday a 3-game series with North Carolina, which calls for the Tar Heels’ first-ever visit to Boone among the set.

North Carolina will host Appalachian State on Sept. 21, 2019 and Sept. 9, 2023, with the Heels heading to the mountains for the sandwich game on Sept. 3, 2022. The 2022 visit marks the third ACC team to visit Appalachian State in a 7-year span, and just the second of the Big Four in-state schools to visit Boone; the Mountaineers host Wake Forest on Sept. 23 of this coming season to mark the first of such games.

“This series is the next addition in bringing Power 5 programs to Kidd Brewer Stadium,” App State AD Doug Gillin said in a statement. “With a record crowd for Miami last year, Wake Forest this season, and North Carolina in 2022 we are continuously looking for opportunities to bring great opponents to The Rock.  Our goal is to continue to bring Power 5 opponents, when available, and quality Group of 5 opponents to Boone, which benefits our students, student-athletes, university and community.  I truly enjoyed working with the UNC administration in constructing a series that is a win-win. Playing regional and in-state opponents makes a lot of sense for us.  We will see an increase in tickets sales both home and away, reduced travel costs and less missed class time for our students. Over the next eight seasons we will be playing the series with UNC, in addition to a four-game series with ECU, and home-and-home series with Wake Forest, Charlotte, and Marshall.”

Appalachian State has played the Big Four 29 times previously, all in their respective homes: 22 trips to Winston-Salem, six to Raleigh and one to Chapel Hill, a 56-6 Heels win in 1940.

Nearly three dozen teams show interest in Clemson grad transfer

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 01: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals looks to pass under pressure from Scott Pagano #56 of the Clemson Tigers during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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It was expected there would be a significant market for a Clemson defensive lineman leaving the Tigers as a graduate transfer. Suffice to say, that is indeed the case.

This past week, Dabo Swinney‘s football program confirmed that Scott Pagano would be leaving the team and transferring elsewhere. The head coach also revealed that the tackle would “probably” end up at a West Coast school to finish out his career.

Teams in that part of the country are indeed interested in the one-year rental, as are myriad others as 247Sports.com is reporting that 32 made contact with the lineman in the hours after his impending pending departure was announced. Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, USC, Washington and Hawaii are among the teams out west who have expressed interest.

A handful of Power Five programs further east have expressed interest as well, including Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Texas and Texas A&M. Group Five teams that have shown interest include Charlotte, East Carolina, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, SMU, Temple and Utah State.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. Pagano started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

‘Two final possibilities’ for ex-LSU QB Brandon Harris’ next home

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 14:  Brandon Harris #6 of the LSU Tigers looks to pass during the fourth quarter of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tiger Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Just which two schools those are remains to be seen.

Following up on months of speculation, Brandon Harris confirmed via Twitter over the weekend that he would be transferring from LSU. It was patently obvious that he had been considering such a decision for a substantial period of time as, in the hours after he announced his departure, the quarterback told Scout.com that he already has “two final possibilities” for where he will transfer.

He didn’t, though, identify the two schools under consideration, although he did indicate one in particular is his leader.

“Right now, I kind of know where I want to be at,” Harris told the recruiting website. “I have two final possibilities, but one really sticks out above the other.”

Harris acknowledged that North Carolina is one of the dozen or so schools that have contacted him since his decision went public, although it’s unknown if the Tar Heels are one of Harris’ “two final possibilities.” As a graduate transfer, Harris will be eligible to play in 2017, his final season of eligibility, at whichever FBS program he ultimately lands.

After starting all 12 games in 2015, Harris started the first two games of this past season. He lost his job to Danny Etling prior to Week 3 and never regained it.

Larry Porter joining Gus Malzahn at Auburn

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The well-traveled Larry Porter is apparently set to add yet another sticker to his coaching luggage.

First reported by Rivals.com, multiple media outlets (including HERE and HERE), are reporting that Porter will join Gus Malzahn‘s coaching staff at Auburn.  At this point, it’s unclear for what position Porter will be hired.

247Sports.com writes that “[i]t’s still being determined if Porter will coach the running backs [or] the tight ends or both.” Tim Horton has coached the Tigers’ backs since 2013.

Scott Fountain had been AU’s tight ends and special teams coach up until this past week when it was reported that he’d no longer have an on-field role with the football program.  That created the spot that Porter is expected t fill, although, again, in what capacity is uncertain.

Porter, a running back in college, has spent all 19 seasons of his coaching career overseeing that positional group with the exception of two — he was the head coach at Memphis from 2010-11.  The past three seasons, Porter was on the staff at North Carolina.  His other FBS stops have included Texas (2013), Arizona State (2012), LSU (2005-09), Oklahoma State (2002-04) and Arkansas State (1999-2001).

UPDATED 1:04 p.m. ET: And now it’s official.

Gene Chizik steps down as Tar Heel’s DC to spend more time with family

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North Carolina athletics
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The rumors have officially come to fruition.

With speculation swirling, North Carolina confirmed Thursday evening in a press release that Gene Chizik has decided to step down as the Tar Heels’ defensive coordinator.  Chizik stated he decided to “step away from coaching to be with my family.”

John Papuchis, UNC’s linebackers coach and former DC at Nebraska (2012-14), will take over for Chizik as coordinator.

“After a lot of prayer and discussions with my wife and children, I have made the difficult decision to step away from coaching to be with my family,” said Chizik in a statement. “The past two years at the University of North Carolina and the opportunity to work with Coach Fedora have been a blessing, and I’m extremely proud of the success we enjoyed. I have always told my players family should come before football, and it’s time for me to follow my own advice. I look forward to watching my own son play the game I’ve dedicated my life and career to for the next two years, and I look forward to the simple joys of being a father and husband I’ve missed out on.”

“These last two years with Gene have been exactly what I hoped they would be,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “The defensive improvement speaks for itself, but I’m equally as proud of the growth and development of our student-athletes on the defensive side of the ball. I hate to lose Gene but certainly understand the reasoning behind his decision, I know it’s been hard on him and his family. We wish the Chizik family all the best and appreciate their dedication to Tar Heel football.”

Chizik was in charge of a significant and impressive — and immediate — turnaround of UNC’s defense.

In 2014, the year prior to Chizik’s arrival, UNC finished 119th in scoring defense (38.9 points per game) and 118th in total defense (263.5 yards per game); in 2015, they were 35th (22.6 ppg) and 26th (194.5 ypg), respectively.  This past season, they were 14th in yards per game (183.8) but dipped to 46th in points per game (24.9).