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Lane Kiffin set to hire Southern Miss DC for same job at FAU

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In replacing his brother, Lane Kiffin has apparently turned to a fellow Conference USA school.

While there’s been no official announcement from Florida Atlantic, FootballScoop.com first reported that FAU is set to hire Southern Miss defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro for the same job with the Owls.  The Sun-Sentinel subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Pecoraro would take over for Chris Kiffin, who left FAU for a job with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers last month.

Pecoraro has been with the Golden Eagles the past two seasons.  In his first season, they were 18th nationally in yards per game allowed (331) and 79th in scoring defense (30.3 points per game). In 2017, they were 17th (322 ypg) in the former category while they improved to tied for 39th (23) in the latter.

This past season, FAU gave up 408 yards per game (77th) and allowed 24.2 points per game (44th).

Report: Les Koenning one of two coaches expected to be hired by Southern Miss

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Les Koenning wasn’t out of a job for very long.

In early January, it was reported that Koenning would not be returning to his post as the offensive coordinator at UAB. Two months later, the Hattiesburg American is reporting that Koenning is expected to be added to Jay Hopson‘s Southern Miss coaching staff.

In what capacity Koenning would serve is unclear.

Koenning had spent the past two seasons as the coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Blazers. In addition to his time in Birmingham, he’s also served as a coordinator at Alabama (2001-02), Texas A&M (2003-07) and Mississippi State (2009-13).

In addition to Koenning’s impending hiring, the American also reports that Hopson is expected to add Brock Hays to his 10-man on-field staff. Hays spent the past two seasons as running backs coach at FCS Nicholls State.

As is the case with Koenning, Hay’s responsibilities are unknown.

Conference USA releases 2018 schedule

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Conference USA released its 2018 schedule on Tuesday, confirming that once again the league will play football this fall.

The league slate kicks off Sept. 8 with FIU’s visit to Old Dominion, while the first game involving a C-USA team is set for Aug. 25, when Rice hosts Prairie View A&M. Conference games are scattered throughout the month of September, with the first full Saturday slate coming on Oct. 6 with Old Dominion at Florida Atlantic, UAB at Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee at Marshall, North Texas at UTEP and UTSA at Rice.

While the MAC has opted for a full embrace of midweek football, Conference USA has gone in the exact opposite direction. Not one C-USA game is scheduled as of today for a weeknight — Thursday or Friday included — and only one game will be played on a day other than Saturday, a Friday, Aug. 31 visit to Wisconsin by Western Kentucky.

The most-anticipated non-conference games involving C-USA teams are Florida Atlantic’s opener at Oklahoma and on Sept. 1 and the Owls’ Sept. 22 visit to reigning American and Peach Bowl champion UCF. North Texas also has two shots to win nationwide respect for the league in its opener against SMU on Sept. 1 in Denton and a Sept. 15 visit to retooling Arkansas.

The highlight of the league schedule comes on Nov. 17 with a rematch of the 2017 title game when Florida Atlantic visits North Texas. The Owls won both meetings last season by a combined score of 110-48.

The 14th C-USA Championship will be held on Dec. 1 at the home of the division winner with the best conference record. FAU will look to become the second straight back-to-back C-USA champion, joining Western Kentucky in 2015-16.

College Football Playoff reveals new chairperson, six new selection committee members

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As expected, the group that will determine the four playoff semifinalists next season will have a new leader — with the group consisting of new members as well.

The College Football Playoff announced Wednesday that Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens has been named as the selection committee’s new chairperson.  Mullens replaces Kirby Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director whose two-year term is expiring Feb. 1.

Former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long was the first CFP chair (2014-15).

“We are delighted that Rob will be stepping into this role,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “He is an experienced committee member, extremely passionate about college football, detail-oriented and brings a high level of energy that is perfectly suited to chairing the committee.”

As chairman, the press release stated, “Mullens will set the selection committee’s agenda, run its meetings and serve as the spokesman for the committee along with Hancock.”

“College football plays a vital role in intercollegiate athletics, and it is an honor to continue to serve on the CFP Selection Committee,” said Mullens. “I look forward to partnering with the other committee members and the staff to build on the strong foundation which has been created in the first four years of the CFP.”

Additionally, the CFP announced six new committee members:

  • Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, as previously reported
  • Former journalist/current journalism professor Paola Boivin
  • Former Rice/Clemson/Arkansas/Air Force head coach Ken Hatfield
  • College and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott
  • Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury
  • Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin

There were five members whose terms are set to expire at the beginning of next month: Clemson AD Dan Radakovich, Arkansas AD Jeff Long, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford/Notre Dame/Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham, former Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson and former journalist Steve Wieberg.

The six additions bring the committee back to a dozen voters, including Robert Morris president Christopher B. Howard (term expires in Feb. of 2020), former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer (2020), Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith (2020), former Southern Miss head coach Jeff Bower (2019), former Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi (2019) and Mullen (2019).

Florida State avoids worst season since 1976 with Independence Bowl rout of Southern Miss

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Florida State can officially breathe a historical sigh of relief.

Southern Miss scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the 2017 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, taking an early 6-0 lead on FSU following a missed point after attempt.  That would be as good as it got for the Conference USA school as their ACC foes scored the next 33 points en route to 42-13 win.

The Seminoles came into the game 6-6 and needed a win to avoid finishing a season with a sub-.500 record for the first time since 1976.  That year’s ‘Noles team finished 5-6 in Bobby Bowden‘s first season in Tallahassee.  This does, though, mark the fourth time in the last dozen years that FSU has finished a season 7-6.

Freshman James Blackman played a significant role in this win, their fourth in a row, throwing a career-high four touchdown passes.  That number also set the single-game Independence Bowl record.

Three of those touchdown passes went to Auden Tate, tying a single-game record for the bowl game.

There was one other personal accomplishment as Cam Akers, on a third-quarter carry, broke Dalvin Cook‘s single-season freshman rushing record of 1,007 yards.  Akers now has 1,024 yards on the season after rushing for 94 in the win.

Longtime FSU defensive line coach Odell Haggins secured his second-ever career win as he served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach.  It was confirmed Tuesday that Haggins will be retained by new FSU head coach Willie Taggart.

In a losing effort, Golden Eagles quarterback Kwadra Griggs accounted for a pair of touchdowns, one passing and one rushing.  Ito Smith, who came into the game third in Conference USA in rushing with 1,321 yards, finished the day with 92 yards on 16 carries.

The Golden Eagles finished the year 8-5.