FIU Panthers

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Assistant Head Coach/Tackles and Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator Mario Cristobal of the Alabama Crimson Tide cheers in the first half while taking on 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 Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Oregon hires Mario Cristobal away from Alabama


Oregon has hired Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal to serve as the Ducks’ co-offensive coordinator and run game coordinator, the Ducks announced Tuesday.

Though it was just announced today, this is a move that has been in the works for a while.

Cristobal enjoyed considerable success at Alabama, helping the Tide win the 2015 national title and finish as a runner-up in 2016. The Tide’s offensive line won the inaugural Joe Moore Award — given to the best offensive line unit — in 2015, and left tackle Cam Robinson took home the Outland Trophy this fall.

Cristobal is also known for his 6-year run as head coach at Florida International and is regarded as one of the best recruiters in college football.

The question, beyond if he can quote-unqoute fix a running game that ranked 27th this season after recording top-10 finishes seven of the past eight seasons, is if Cristobal can help Willie Taggart and a staff with a long track record of successfully recruiting Florida and either:

A) translate that success to the West Coast, where Oregon traditionally recruits, or

B) pull Sunshine State kids all the way across the country to Eugene.

Cristobal is listed as a co-offensive coordinator, which assumes Oregon will hire another co-offensive coordinator (and quarterbacks coach) to join Taggart’s staff.

Tuesday’s announcement did not indicate that Cristobal will call plays for the Ducks.

Western Kentucky to host Louisiana Tech in C-USA title game

BOWLING GREEN, KY - DECEMBER 5:  Brandon Doughty #12 and Nacarius Fant #1 of the WKU Hilltoppers celebrates with the Championship Trophy after a game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagle at Houchens-Smith Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers defeated the Golden Eagles 45-28.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Not surprisingly, Western Kentucky will get the opportunity to add to its conference hardware collection.

As we entered Week 13, all Western Kentucky needed to do was take care of business against 3-8 Marshall to get back to the Conference USA championship.  Saturday evening in Huntington, the Hilltoppers did just that, outscoring the Herd 28-0 in the first quarter on their way to a 60-6 woodshedding.

Old Dominion would have represented the East with a win over FIU Saturday, which they checked off their to-do list, and a WKU loss.

This will mark WKU’s second consecutive East division title, and its second straight appearance in the league title game. WKU beat Southern Miss in last year’s championship game, so the Hilltoppers have the opportunity to join East Carolina, now in the AAC, as the only Conference USA teams to repeat as champions since the conference went to the title game format in 2005.

WKU will face West champ Louisiana Tech, which will be making its second title game appearance the last three years and will be looking for its first win in the game.

Thanks to Tech’s loss to Southern Miss earlier Saturday, this year’s game will, again, be played at WKU’s home stadium in Bowling Green.  The game is scheduled to kick off next Saturday at noon ET.

FIU reportedly close to naming Butch Davis as head coach

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 24: Alex McGough #12 hands the ball off to Anthony Jones #2 of the Florida International Golden Panthers during fourth quarter action against the Central Florida Knights on September 24, 2016 at FIU Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Florida International is close to naming Butch Davis as the program’s new head coach, ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Monday.

Jones and the school have agreed to a 5-year deal, according to McMurphy.

This move has been in the works for a while. USA Today‘s Dan Wolken has reported for weeks that the job was Davis’s as long as he wanted it. And it appears he does.

Davis, of course, made his name in the college ranks building the Miami dynasty of the early 2000’s before parlaying that success into the Cleveland Browns’ head job. But that was close to 20 years ago: before the players he’ll be recruiting for FIU were born, and when Davis was in his mid-to-late 40’s. (Davis turns 65 on Friday.)

Davis was also the head coach at North Carolina, where he was successful in acquiring talent but unsuccessful in keeping the NCAA’s investigative arm out of Chapel Hill. He spent the 2012-13 seasons as an adviser to the Tampa Bay Bucs and currently works as an analyst for ESPN.

FIU is in the midst of closing out a 3-7 season after firing Ron Turner back on Sept. 25. The Panthers close their season with Marshall on Saturday and at Old Dominion on Nov. 26.

Jonnu Smith’s pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on him, ending FIU TE’s season

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 29: Jonnu Smith #87 of the Florida International Golden Panthers runs for a touchdown past the attempted tackle by Darryl Randolph #29 of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on October 29, 2016 at FIU Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Jonnu Smith won’t take the field again for Florida International, and the reason why is quite disturbing.

According to the Miami Herald, Smith sustained severe burns to his head, neck, back, shoulder and arm after his pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on the tight end on Halloween.  The woman, who is five months pregnant, has been charged with aggravated battery.

An affidavit stated that the girlfriend, Mary Gaspar, was upset over how much attention was being paid to her by Smith.  From the Herald:

The two argued through the day over the attention Smith was paying her and their relationship. While in Smith’s dorm room and “feeling extremely emotional and stressed,” she told police, she boiled a pot of water. Then, she walked over to Smith and poured it on him.

When Smith didn’t react strongly enough for her, she started hitting him with her open hands, she told police.

Smith did not play in the Nov. 5 loss to Western Kentucky, and has since been ruled out for the remainder of the season because of the burns.  He has yet to use his redshirt so he could return next season as a fifth-year senior, although it’s expected he’ll still be a part of the 2017 NFL draft.

Smith is currently second on the team in receptions (39), receiving yards (441) and receiving touchdowns (three).  He will finish his FIU career third all-time in receiving touchdowns (17), and fifth in both catches (175) and yards (1,936).

Report: Ex-Miami, UNC coach Butch Davis frontrunner for FIU job

2 Sep 1995: Butch Davis of the Miami Hurricanes gives instructions from the sidelines during a game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California . The Bruins defeated the Hurricanes 31-8. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
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Back in December of 2012, speculation surfaced that Butch Davis was close to landing the head-coaching job at Florida International, although that ultimately didn’t come to fruition.  Nearly four years later, the speculation has circled back to the same school and same coach.

Citing two unnamed sources, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News is reporting “that Davis is the frontrunner to become Florida International University’s next head coach.” Davis would replace Ron Turner, who was fired by the football program in late September after a 10-30 run.

The 62-year-old Davis has been out of coaching since he was fired by North Carolina a month before the start of the 2011 season in the midst of an impermissible benefits/academic scandal.  While he wasn’t implicated in any wrongdoing in the NCAA’s report, it’s believed the shadow cast by the situation has pushed suitors away from the long-time coach over the past five coaching carousels.

Davis went 28-23 in four seasons (2007-10) at UNC.  As the head coach at Miami from 1995-2000, Davis went 51-20, which included an 11-1 final season that resulted in his leaving for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

After bailing on the Browns in the middle of the 2004 season, Davis was on the coaching sidelines for the next two seasons before taking the UNC job.