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Report: Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer brings in three SEC coordinators for second round of interviews

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The search for the next Tennessee head coach has been long, meandering and ridiculed but it appears it finally has a clear direction.

A report from ESPN posted on Wednesday afternoon says that new Vols athletic director Phillip Fulmer is bringing in three SEC defensive coordinators as part of a second round of interviews for the job, a sign a hire could be coming somewhat soon. The report lists Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele (a Tennessee alum), Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as the three candidates brought back for another interview with Fulmer and the school’s chancellor in New York.

USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin also spoke with his former head coach in an extensive phone interview, the report added.

It remains to be seen if any of the three SEC coordinators will actually be the hire at the end of the day — especially with all of them involved in playoff or New Year’s Six games — but at least you can read into what Fulmer is looking for a little with three defensive-minded candidates being brought back for a second go-around. Many of the Vols brass is in the Big Apple this week as part of the annual National Football Foundation festivities and the induction of Peyton Manning into the College Football Hall of Fame.

We’re almost at the one month mark since the school fired Butch Jones in mid-November. Since then, Tennessee has replaced John Currie with Fulmer as athletic director and then reportedly been turned down by Mike LeachDave Doeren, Kevin Sumlin, Jeff Brohm, Mike Gundy, David Cutcliffeand, of course, Greg Schiano.

Either way, another day nets the Vols another spin of the coaching carousel wheel in Rocky Top.

USC player who decked field-rushing Wazzu fan won’t face charges

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Liam Jimmons can officially breathe a huge sigh of relief.

In the immediate aftermath of Washington State’s upset of USC in Pullman in late September, Wazzu fans in attendance stormed the Martin Stadium field in a celebratory frenzy. Video subsequently surfaced of one Trojans football player, later identified as Jimmons, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman, decking one of the Cougars fans who had stormed the field.

In early November, after it had been confirmed that university police were investigating the incident, the same department recommended to prosecutors that felony charges be pursued against Jimmons. However, Jimmons’ attorney confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that she received a letter Tuesday from the Whitman County (Wash.) prosecutor’s office that stated they were declining to pursue charges in the case.

“I have carefully reviewed all the information available,” the prosecutor, Denise Tracy, wrote in the letter, “and met with [the victim] to review the case with him. I have decided not to file any criminal charges in this matter.” It was reported that the victim was forced to go to the hospital twice after the run-in due to a concussion he claimed he had suffered as a result of the run-in with Jimmons.

From KXLY-TV:

Jimmons says he made a split second decision to push the victim to the side to protect himself from getting hurt by a more direct collision.

Tracy found that it cannot be proven that Jimmons knew he would likely cause a severe concussion with the shove. Tracy also believes that it is unlikely to be proven that Jimmons was criminally negligent, disproving his claim of trying to protect himself. Tracy also points out that Jimmons was supposed to be on the field while the victim was trespassing on the field when he was hit.

The football program has not publicly commented on this latest development. In October, head coach Clay Helton would only state that Jimmons had been disciplined internally.

Jimmons played in nine games for the Trojans this season. He was credited with five total tackles on the season.

Report: Phillip Fulmer, Tee Martin hold ‘positive conversation’ in discussing Tennessee job

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Could another favorite son be coming home on this latest spinning of the coaching carousel?

It’s long been thought that Tee Martin would be in play for the opening at Tennessee, especially when Phillip Fulmer, his former coach, (reportedly) pulled a Shakespearean power play to grab the athletic director job at UT.  However, there’s been very little in the way of speculation connecting the USC offensive coordinator to the opening.

Until now.

Martin was a two-time SEC champion who, as the quarterback, helped lead the Volunteers to the 1998 national championship.  After beginning his coaching career in the high school ranks for three years, he parlayed jobs at New Mexico (quarterbacks, 2009) and Kentucky (wide receivers, 2010-11) into a job at USC in 2012 as receivers coach.  He was then promoted to passing-game coordinator in 2014 and offensive coordinator in 2016.

Others connected to the Vols job include Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker — he’s reportedly interviewed twice, the second coming today — and, per FootballScoop.com, Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and SMU head coach Chad Morris.

Your 2017-2018 college football bowl schedule

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The matchups have been set. The dates have been reserved. Here is your full bowl schedule and pairings for this bowl season, starting with the College Football Playoff. All times are Eastern.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF

Rose Bowl Game: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia
January 1, 2018, 5:00 p.m., ESPN

Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama
January 1, 2018, 8:45 p.m., ESPN

CFB National Championship Game: TBD vs. TBD
January 8, 2018, 8:00 p.m., ESPN

NEW YEARS SIX

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 8 USC
December 29, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington
December 30, 4:00 p.m., ESPN

Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami
December 30, 8:00 p.m., ESPN

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF
January 1, 2018, 12:30 p.m., ESPN

THE REST

DECEMBER 16, 2017

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. North Texas
1:00 p.m., ESPN

AutoNation Cure Bowl: Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky
2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Las Vegas Bowl: No. 25 Boise State vs. Oregon
3:30 p.m., ABC

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Marshall
4:30 p.m., ESPN

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Middle Tennessee
8:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 19, 2017

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: FAU vs. Akron
7:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 20, 2017

Frisco Bowl: SMU vs. Louisiana Tech
8:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 21, 2017

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: Temple vs. FIU
8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

DECEMBER 22, 2017

Bahamas Bowl: Ohio vs. UAB
12:30 p.m., ESPN

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming vs. Central Michigan
4:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 23, 2017

Birmingham Bowl: USF vs. Texas Tech
12:00 p.m., ESPN

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs. San Diego State
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo
7:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 24, 2017

Hawai’i Bowl: Houston vs. Fresno State
8:30 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 26, 2017

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs. West Virginia
1:30 p.m., ESPN

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois
5:15 p.m., ESPN

Cactus Bowl: UCLA vs. Kansas State
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 27, 2017

Walk On’s Independence Bowl: Florida State vs. Southern Mississippi
1:30 p.m., ESPN

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs. Boston College
5:15 p.m., ESPN

Foster Farms Bowl: Purdue vs. Arizona
8:30 p.m., FOX

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: Missouri vs. Texas
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 28, 2017

Military Bowl: Navy vs. Virginia
1:30 p.m., ESPN

Camping World Bowl: No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech
5:15 p.m., ESPN

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: No. 16 Michigan State vs. No. 18 Washington State
9:00 p.m., FS1

Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 13 TCU vs. No. 15 Stanford
9:00 p.m., ESPN

DECEMBER 29, 2017

Belk Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest
1:00 p.m., ESPN

Hyundai Sun Bowl: No. 24 NC State vs. Arizona State
3:00 p.m., CBS

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: No. 21 Northwestern vs. Kentucky
4:30 p.m., ESPN

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Utah State vs. New Mexico State
5:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

DECEMBER 30, 2017

TaxSlayer Bowl: No. 23 Mississippi State vs. Louisville
12:00 p.m., ESPN

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Memphis vs. Iowa State
12:30 p.m., ABC

JANUARY 1, 2018

Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina
12:00 p.m., ESPN2

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU
1:00 p.m., ABC

New Years Six lineup: Ohio State vs. USC, Penn State vs. Washington, Miami vs. Wisconsin, UCF vs. Auburn

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Now that the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl matchups are set in stone for this season’s College Football Playoff, let’s take a look at the other games in the New Years Six lineup. This year’s field includes the champions from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and the American Athletic Conference. It also includes two additional teams from the Big Ten spread out among the bowl lineup after the conference was left out of the playoff for the first time.

COTTON BOWL: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 8 USC (December 29, 8:30 p.m. ET)

With the Rose Bowl serving as a host site for a College Football Playoff semifinal (Clemson vs. Alabama), the Cotton Bowl will serve as a Texas Rose Bowl this year with a matchup between the Pac-12 champions (USC) and Big Ten champions (Ohio State). From a historical perspective, this is a fantastic matchup, and one worthy of a prime bowl matchup. This game likely would have been played in the Fiesta Bowl but it would have been a third straight trip to the game for Ohio State, which reportedly led to the Fiesta Bowl in need of some fresh faces. Speaking of which…

FIESTA BOWL: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington (December 30, 4 p.m. ET)

The Nittany Lions are heading back to the Fiesta Bowl for a game against Washington. Washington’s defense against Penn State’s offense should be a great matchup, even with Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead moving to Mississippi State to be the head coach. This should also help settle some scores from last year’s playoff debate. Washington was selected with the No. 4 seed in last year’s College Football Playoff, sending No. 5 Penn State to the Rose Bowl.

ORANGE BOWL: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami (December 30, 8 p.m. ET)

The Orange Bowl was one of the easiest matchups in the New Years Six to figure out. The game is contracted to have one team from the ACC and the highest-ranked team available from the pool of Big Ten and SEC teams without a conference championship. With Clemson in the playoff, the Orange Bowl was locked into getting the conference runner-up, Miami. And because the Orange Bowl could not get Ohio State, the Big Ten champion, for a rematch of a past BCS national championship game, that left the Orange Bowl with Wisconsin as the No. 6 team in the ranking.

PEACH BOWL: No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF (January 1, 12:30 p.m. ET)

As the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion, UCF was guaranteed a spot in the New Years Six. They will face Auburn, who will return to Atlanta for a second-straight game after losing the SEC Championship Game. Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has said he will coach UCF in the bowl game, which could add some good recruiting sales pitches to his arsenal if he can advertise beating an SEC team as he moves to the Big Ten.