Nevada Wolf Pack

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 17-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC


Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

Mountain West commissioner says Chargers’ move to LA played role in Poinsettia Bowl folding

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 21:  President of the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Ted Tollner congratulates Harvey Langi #16 of the Brigham Young Cougars  for winning the Defensive Player of the game after defeating the Wyoming Cowboys 24-21 in a game on December 21, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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One of the bigger surprises this offseason has been the announcement that the Poinsettia Bowl was closing its doors and folding for good this year after a strong dozen year run.

The move has left several in college athletics scrambling as a result of the shakeup to the postseason picture and the league most directly affected is the Mountain West. Perhaps not surprisingly, commissioner Craig Thompson isn’t too thrilled with the big hole in the bowl lineup now and went on 93.1FM/1350AM The Ticket up in Boise, Idaho to discuss the move and some of the reasoning behind it.

What’s most interesting there is the fact that Thompson thinks the Chargers move from San Diego to Los Angeles played a role in the decision to cancel the game. The Holiday Bowl, run by the same organization, has denied that is behind folding the game but has already begun to explore moving from Qualcomm Stadium to the San Diego Padres’ home of Petco Park in case the city decides to close the football stadium after next year.

“This is purely a decision made for our organization,” Mark Neville, executive director of the bowl game association, told the Associated Press last week.”It’s a completely different environment. Doing two games in San Diego, in the span of a week, is becoming more and more challenging in relation to ticket sales and sponsorships.”

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as it has no doubt become much tougher to operate two bowl games in one city and the fact that the local pro football team is heading up the 405 certainly doesn’t help matters. In addition to the Mountain West needing to find a new spot for bowl eligible teams in 2017, BYU — which beat Wyoming in the final Poinsettia Bowl last December — is also looking for a new bowl game to go to next season.

Ex-Alabama QB David Cornwell announces transfer to Nevada

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 18:  David Cornwell #12 of the Crimson team drops back to pass against the White team during the University of Alabama A Day spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 18, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Few programs deal with a January full of roster turnover quite like Alabama and that was certainly the case with a few expected decision coming from players looking to continue their careers outside of Tuscaloosa.

In addition to a trio of juniors announcing they would be leaving for the NFL Draft, backup quarterback David Cornwell followed up on his decision to transfer from the program by tweeting that he would be continuing his career at Nevada.

Cornwell was a four-star prospect coming out of high school and a former Elite 11 signal-caller prior to enrolling early at Alabama. He redshirted his first season and then was somewhat buried on the depth chart in subsequent seasons, appearing only twice in game action during the 2016 campaign.

With rising sophomore Jalen Hurts firmly entrenched as the starter for the Crimson Tide, the quarterback meeting room was naturally going to thin out and Cornwell is the third QB to leave the program in the past few months as a result. He is set to join the Wolfpack’s new head coach Jay Norvell out in Reno, where he’ll have two seasons left of eligibility as a graduate transfer starting this year.

Report: Hal Mumme’s son hired as Nevada offensive coordinator

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 29:  Quarterback Tyler Stewart #15 of the Nevada Wolf Pack throws a pass during the second quarter of the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl against the Colorado State Rams at Arizona Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Hal Mumme is already the father of the modern offense in college football. Now he’s about to be the literal father of one literal college football offense.

According to a report from FootballScoop on Sunday, Nevada will tap Matt Mumme to serve as the offensive coordinator under new head coach Jay Norvell. (Disclaimer: I also write for FootballScoop.)

Mumme will arrive in Reno from LaGrange College, a Division III school in LaGrange, Ga., where he was the head coach for the past three seasons. A 3-7 campaign this fall dropped Mumme’s record to 12-20, thus providing motive for Mumme’s need to fall upward.

The younger Mumme jumped into college football as a quarterback under his father at Kentucky, where he provided depth behind future No. 1 pick Tim Couch. Mumme began coaching for Southeastern Louisiana and since moved on to New Mexico State and Division III McMurry University in Abilene, Texas.

Mumme’s reported appointment is an intriguing one schematically, where a coach literally born into the Air Raid offense arrives at the epicenter of the Pistol offense. Imagine Texas Tech installing the triple option, and that’s analogous to what Mumme’s hiring represents. Brian Polian wavered back and forth with the Pistol, and was fired after compiling a 23-27 mark in four seasons. So it’ll be interesting to see if Mumme commits to the full Air Raid and, assuming so, if Nevada adopts it well or rejects it like a bad kidney exchange.

As it stands, Mumme will inherit an offense that finished the 2016 season ranked 92nd in scoring, 79th in yards per play, 68th in rushing and 70th in pass efficiency.

Report: Former Nevada head coach Brian Polian headed back to Notre Dame

PASADENA, CA - AUGUST 31:  Head coach Brian Polian of the Nevada Wolf Pack watches practice before the game against the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl on August 31, 2013 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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A familiar face is headed back to South Bend.

A source told Fox Sports and Football Scoop that former Nevada head coach Brian Polian is expected to return to Notre Dame as the Irish’s special teams coordinator. That role is the exact one that the veteran coach occupied from 2005-2009 under Charlie Weis.

Polian, the son of longtime NFL executive Bill Polian, went 23-27 over four seasons with the Wolf Pack but agreed to part ways with the school after going 5-7 in 2016.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly let Scott Booker go earlier in the week as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach after both areas were noticeably problematic for the Irish during the year. Polian is highly regarded for his coaching ability in the crucial third phase of the game as well as his reputation as a top notch recruiter.