Arizona Wildcats

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 01: The mascot for the Nebraska Cornhuskers waits for the team before the contest against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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Nebraska officially plucks assistant from Arizona

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After a handful of days of reports and speculation, Mike Riley has officially made an addition to his Nebraska coaching staff at the expense of Arizona.

In a release, NU confirmed that Donté Williams has been hired to fill the opening on his staff. Williams will fill the void created by the departure of Bruce Read, who was fired as special teams coordinator shortly after the Cornhuskers’ regular-season finale.

“We are confident that Donté Williams will bring great energy and expertise to our defensive coaching staff,” Riley said in a statement. “He has the personality and demeanor that allows him to connect and relate to his players. He will also be a dynamic addition to our staff in terms of recruiting prospective student-athletes to the University of Nebraska.”

Williams’ addition will lead to shifts on the defensive side of Riley’s staff.

It’s expected that Williams will take over as NU’s cornerbacks coach. Corners coach Brian Stewart will shift his focus to safeties, while last year’s safeties coach, defensive coordinator Mark Banker, will focus solely on a defense that was 31st in scoring defense and 21st in total defense in the country this past season.

Adding Williams, though, centers largely on the 34-year-old’s recruiting prowess. In fact, he’s widely considered in the industry to be one of the top five recruiters on the West Coast.

“I am truly blessed that Coach Riley thought highly enough of me to join his staff here at the University of Nebraska,” Williams said. “Everything I have seen in Lincoln has completely raised my expectations of what I know we can accomplish here! I look forward to continuing the success of the Blackshirt defense under Coach Riley and the whole Big Red Family!”

Williams spent the 2016 season as the cornerbacks coach at Arizona. Prior to that, he was a secondary coach at San Jose State from 2013-15, the latter two years spent with the additional title of recruiting coordinator.

His first Power Five job came as a grad assistant at Washington in 2011-12.

Arizona QB Anu Solomon listed as questionable for Territorial Cup

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 29:  Quarterback Anu Solomon #12 of the Arizona Wildcats looks to pass during the third quarter of the college football game against the Stanford Cardinal at Arizona Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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As Arizona and Arizona State’s annual rivalry this year will intersect at the end of disappointing regular seasons on both sides, the former once again has a question mark at the quarterback position.

Ahead of the Territorial Cup matchup with the 5-6 Sun Devils Friday, the Wildcats have listed Anu Solomon as questionable.  The junior suffered a foot injury in the second quarter of the Week 12 loss to Oregon State that dropped UA to 2-9 overall and 0-8 in Pac-12 play on the season.

Last Saturday was Solomon’s first start since sustaining a knee injury during practice leading up to the Week 2 game against Grambling State.  He missed six consecutive games before returning as the backup to Brandon Dawkins for the next three.

Entering 2016, Solomon had started 25 of the previous 27 games.  In 2015, he was 33rd in the country in passing efficiency.

With Solomon out, Dawkins leads the Wildcats with 761 yards rushing and eight rushing touchdowns.  His 122.3 pass efficiency rating, however, is currently 80th nationally.

Todd Graham to return to Arizona State in 2017

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 12:  Head coach Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils walks onto the field before the college football game against the Cal Poly Mustangs at Sun Devil Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Todd Graham and his pop star headset will return for a sixth season on Arizona State’s sidelines in 2017, Sun Devils AD Ray Anderson announced Tuesday.

“There should be no question in anyone’s mind as far as I’m concerned,” Anderson said, via ArizonaSports.com. “He’s brought stability here and discipline and accountability. He’s brought an academic upgrade to this football program that no one can deny, and everyone should appreciate tremendously where we’ve come from in that regard. I have great appreciation for that, as does Dr. Crow, as does our Board of Regents. You put his cumulative body of work together and it certainly translates for me that he will continue to be our coach.”

Graham started this season at 5-1, but the combination of injuries and youth have seen Arizona State stumble into four straight losses. Considering the Sun Devils visit No. 7 Washington on Saturday, it’s likely they’ll need to beat Arizona in Tucson on Black Friday to extend their 5-year bowl streak and 6-year streak of winning at least six games.

“The football side we will all admit is not up to our standards,” Anderson said. “Injuries and youth are part of what every coach at some point has to navigate, and you have to do it. One of my favorite sayings is from Tony Dungy when he coached the Indianapolis Colts. It was up in his locker room: ‘No excuses, no explanation.’ You’ve just got to get it done. That’s’ the leader’s chore at the end of the day and I have great faith that Todd will get it done and turn it around.”

The parallels between Graham’s tenure at Arizona State and Rich Rodriguez‘s run at Arizona are interesting. Each arrived to the desert at the same time, and each infused a ton of energy into their respective programs — Arizona State won the Pac-12 South in 2013, and Arizona followed a year later. But each program has fallen off that success in recent years. With USC seemingly getting its act together, it wouldn’t be shocking to see either or both of Graham or Rodriguez hop a lifeboat elsewhere if one presents itself.

Washington State crushes Arizona to remain in first place in the Pac-12 North

PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 05:  Gabe Marks #9 of the Washington State Cougars catches the ball in the end zone over defender Dane Cruikshank #9 of the Arizona Wildcats scoring a touchdown in the first half at Martin Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Pullman, Washington.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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It’s pretty rare to say a Power Five team had no shot of beating a fellow team in their conference but based on the way things went during Arizona’s trip to Pullman on Saturday, it’s safe to say that the Wildcats stood no shot of beating a red-hot Washington State team.

That was evident if you looked at the final score, in which the Cougars won by a very nice number of 69-7 but a margin that somehow doesn’t even convey the level of beatdown that took place on the Palouse.

Consider that budding Heisman Trophy candidate Luke Falk threw for 311 yards and four scores against just three incompletions. His backup was just as effective, with Tyler Hilinski having two incompletions to match his two touchdown throws. Maybe just as surprising was the fact that a Mike Leach-coached team scored three times running the ball.

Washington State also forced three turnovers and out-gained Arizona by 328 yards.

The Wildcats probably want to avoid looking at the box score on their flight back to Tucson, as three quarterbacks went a combined 11-of-23 for 128 yards, one score and a pair of interceptions. Samajie Grant had a decent outing at least, rushing for 77 yards, but there wasn’t much to be happy about as the team remained winless in conference and have a fan base ready to run out head coach Rich Rodriguez.

The seventh win of the season for Washington State was probably their most impressive from a game-control standpoint and should help boost their ranking when the College Football Playoff Selection Committee releases their set on Tuesday. With two of their final three at home, a conference crown and Rose Bowl trip remains in the cards for the Cougars and might even be likely if they continue to play like they did on Saturday.

PJ Fleck tells Cubs to Row the Boat, and a brief look at longest conference title droughts in college football

EVANSTON, IL- SEPTEMBER 03: P.J. Fleck head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos reacts after his teams win against the Northwestern Wildcats on September 3, 2016 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. the Western Michigan Broncos won 22-21. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The World Series gets underway tonight in Cleveland. The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs are each looking to bring an end to a championship drought that dates back over 70 years. The Cubs are playing in their first World Series since 1945. The Indians have been back to the Fall Classic a small handful of times since last winning a World Series in 1948. There are three college football programs from the Power Five that have similar droughts they continue to look to end, as far as a conference championship is concerned.

No team has waited as long to win a conference title than Iowa State, who last saw a conference championship in 1912. That came in the old Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. That conference would pave the path to the old Big Eight Conference, which of course later merged with departing members from the Southwest Conference. As the conference has evolved, Iowa State has struggled to compete for a conference crown.

The only two conference championship droughts comparable to the current droughts of the Cubs and Indians reside in the SEC. Mississippi State has not won a conference championship since 1941 (SEC), and Vanderbilt has to go all the way back to 1923 for its last conference title (Southern Conference). Playing in the same conference as college football powers like Alabama, LSU, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia over the years has not allowed for much opportunity for either SEC program, and that likely will remain the case for many years to come.

While not quite as long of a wait, Western Michigan looks to be on track to snapping their conference championship drought that goes back to 1988. The Broncos are undefeated and have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, aside from a regular season finale against Toledo. Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck gave the Cubs a pep talk during a stop on SportsCenter this morning.

Row the boat, Cubs (or Indians, depending on your rooting interests)!

Longest Conference Title Droughts By Conference

ACC: North Carolina State (1979)

Big 12: Iowa State (1912)

Big Ten: Minnesota (1967)

Pac-12: Arizona (1993)

SEC: Vanderbilt (1923)

American: Temple (1967)

Conference USA: Rice (1994)

MAC: Ohio (1968)

Mountain West Conference: New Mexico (1964)

Sun Belt Conference: New Mexico State (1978)