North Carolina Tar Heels

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 7:  A Tennessee Volunteer holds up his helmet in the team huddle before the NCAA football game against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at Neyland Stadium on September 7, 2002 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 26-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Vols add UNC DB coach Charlton Warren to coaching staff

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Following a somewhat disappointing season in Knoxville, changes are in the air for the Tennessee Vols coaching staff. Among the first changes of the offseason comes at the defensive back coaching position.

Tennessee has announced the addition of Charlton Warren as the new defensive backs coach for the Vols. It is the same role he previously filled at North Carolina for the past two seasons. Warren will replace Willie Martinez, who will not be returning to the Tennessee staff in 2017, according to a released statement from the university’s athletics department.

“Coach Warren is a passionate, knowledgeable and driven football coach that has an outstanding history of developing defensive backs on the collegiate level,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said in a released statement. “He also has a great reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country with strong ties to our recruiting areas. We feel extremely fortunate to add someone of his caliber to our coaching staff and our defensive meeting room.”

Tennessee finished ranked 10th in the SEC in passing defense, allowing an average of 230.7 yards per game through the air to opposing quarterbacks. The Vols allowed the fifth-lowest opponent passer rating and picked off 11 passes while allowing 18 touchdown passes, which actually fared well among SEC peers even if just around the middle of the pack or just toward the bottom half of the conference in each category. For a school that prides itself on its defensive backs, a change was necessary.

North Carolina owned the ACC’s top pass defense in 2016, allowing just 180.8 yards per game and 11 touchdown passes. The one downside was having just one interception recorded in 13 games. Every other FBS program had at least three interceptions last season. How UNC only picked off one pass all season long is quite a remarkable feat considering how respectable the pass defense was last season.

Alabama opens as Bovada’s early 2017 title favorite

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Alabama may have seen their dynasty temporarily derailed Monday night in Florida, but at least one wagering establishment expects Nick Saban to get it back on track post-haste.

Bovada.lv released its opening set of 2017 national championship odds very early Tuesday afternoon, with the bookmaker installing Bama as a 4/1 favorite coming off the loss to Clemson.  Last year at this time, coming off their fourth title in seven years, the same book had the Crimson Tide as a 7/1 favorite.

The team ‘Bama beat, Clemson, is at 16/1, tied with ACC Atlantic rival Louisville and behind six other teams besides the one they beat on the field last night — Florida State (7/1), Ohio State (15/2), Michigan (9/1), Oklahoma (9/1), USC (9/1) and LSU (12/1).  The other 2016 playoff team, Washington, is at 40/1, the same as 4-8 Notre Dame and behind the likes of Texas (28/1) and Miami (33/1).

Boise State, at 75/1, was the highest favorite amongst Group of Five programs.

Below are the complete list of 2018 title odds for the championship following the 2017 season, again courtesy on Bovada.lv:

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QB Mitch Trubisky making early leap from Tar Heels to NFL draft

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 15:  Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels passes during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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After speculation that he was heavily leaning in this direction, Mitch Trubisky is officially headed that way.

The way to which we’re referring is the NFL, with the North Carolina quarterback confirming Monday morning that he has decided to forego his remaining eligibility and make himself available for the April draft.  The junior labeled it “the most difficult decision of my life,” one that he came to after much “research, reflection and prayer.”

“After much research, reflection and prayer, I have officially decided to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft,” Trubisky said in a statement. “This has been the most difficult decision of my life because of the unbelievable people and experiences I’ve had at the University of North Carolina. It’s hard to leave a special place like UNC, which has had such a huge impact on my life and helped make me into the man I am today.

“I’m so thankful for my family, my teammates, coaches, trainers, strength staff, academic staff and all the fans of Tar Heel nation. You guys have helped me in so many ways and have shared experiences with me that I will cherish and be thankful for the rest of my life. I love UNC and it’s a privilege to call myself a Tar Heel.”

Trubisky just completed his first season as the Tar Heels’ starter, helping to lead UNC to an 8-5 record.  In the process, he set school single-season records for touchdown passes (30), completions (304), attempts (447), passing yards (3,748) and total offense (4,056 yards).

He’s expected to be one of the top, if not the top, quarterbacks selected in the upcoming draft.

“Mitch is a great representative of the University of North Carolina. He’s everything you would want in a student-athlete,” said head coach Larry Fedora. “My role throughout this process was to provide him with as much information as we could obtain so he could make the best decision for him and his family. He patiently waited for his opportunity to play at UNC and when that chance came this year, he had one of best seasons in school history. We support his decision and look forward to watching him play at the next level.”

Longtime Iowa, Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis retires after 43 year career

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 2:  Running back Akrum Wadley #25 of the Iowa Hawkeyes slips a tackle by defensive back Marcell Harris #26 of the Florida Gators during a carry in the third quarter of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game on January 2, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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In a semi-surprising move made on Friday afternoon, Iowa announced that longtime offensive coordinator Greg Davis would be retiring to wrap up a 43-year career in college football.

“I have had a wonderful five years with the Hawkeye football program. I would like to thank coach Ferentz, the entire staff, our players, and Iowa fans everywhere,” said Davis in a statement. “This is my decision, but not a decision that was reached lightly. I remain passionate about the game of football, and enjoyed teaching football to our players every day. Patsy has been a trooper through all these years; we have learned and enjoyed every step along the way. It’s time for me to get closer to our family.”

In addition to spending the past five seasons with the Hawkeyes, Davis is most closely associated with his 13 year tenure at Texas as Mack Brown’s offensive coordinator. He was the Frank Broyles Award winner as the nation’s best assistant coach back in 2005 when the Longhorns won the national title and made coaching stops at North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas A&M.

Davis also served as head coach at Tulane from 1988 to 1991.

The news of Davis’ departure will likely be received well by Iowa fans as the team has struggled to score points during his tenure, a fact highlighted by the team’s disastrous loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl.

It will be interesting to see where Kirk Ferentz goes with his next staff hire, which will likely be made in the coming weeks.

Elijah Hood cuts back, will leave Tar Heels for NFL

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 05:  Elijah Hood #34 of the North Carolina Tar Heels scores a touchdown against the Clemson Tigers in the 4th quarter during the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Well this is at last mildly surprising, given what happened last month.

In announcing in late December that Elijah Hood would be skipping the Sun Bowl for medical reasons, North Carolina intimated that the junior running back would be returning for his senior season.  Just a little over two weeks later, the Tar Heels announced that Hood would indeed be leaving Chapel Hill for the April NFL draft.

Hood said in a statement that he came to the decision after gathering more information the last couple of weeks.

“This was a difficult decision, but after gathering more information and talking with my family, I believe it is in my best interest to declare for the NFL Draft and pursue my dream of being a professional football player,” said Hood. “While I’ll miss playing with my teammates in Chapel Hill, I’m excited about my future opportunity. I would like to thank Coach Fedora, the coaching staff and all Carolina fans for understanding how difficult it was to come to this decision. This program is on the rise because of the great people at UNC. I’m going to continue to pursue my degree from UNC and I’m proud to say I will always be a Tar Heel.”

Hood rushed for 2,580 yards in his UNC career, which ranks ninth on the school’s all-time list.  His best season came in  2015, when he rushed for 1,463 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to first-team All-Acc honors.

He was named third-team all-conference this season, one littered with lingering issues, after rushing for a team-high 858 yards and eight touchdowns.

“Elijah is a special individual who meant so much to this program during his time in Chapel Hill,” said head coach Larry Fedora. “He is an excellent student, a standout football player and a first-class person who made the most of his opportunity at Carolina. We support his decision to further his career at the next level and wish him the best as he pursues his dream to play in the NFL. He helped change the culture in our football program and it was an honor to coach him for three seasons.”

Hood might not be the only backfield loss for Fedora as starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky is strongly leaning toward leaving for the NFL.  Trubisky, and other draft-eligible players, have until Jan. 16 to declare their intentions.