Washington State coach Mike Leach is known across the country as one of college football’s most interesting characters, rambling on from time-to-time about everything from pirates to the history of Geronimo. The latest subject the quirky head coach has turned his sights on? The big ol’ SEC.
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger spoke to Leach recently as part of a profile on new Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo, and let’s just say the Air Raid guru of the Palouse didn’t hold back when discussing the state of offenses in the league widely considered to be the best in the sport.
“I’ve got bad news for all these levels people,” Leach said. “Your level isn’t special, your conference isn’t special. All this different level this, different level that. That’s crazy.
“This is a great time to be in the SEC, everybody’s got the same offense: run right, run left, play action. And they tease themselves and say we threw it four more times a game this year than we did last year.”
Leach, who coached in the league at Kentucky, also added some other, more colorful language to describe his impression of the SEC and the offenses teams run. While he did play at Auburn with the Cougars a few years ago, he clearly hasn’t kept up with the way things are trending down south as even pro-style stalwarts like Alabama and Arkansas are using more and more tempo and spread principles on a weekly basis.
Either way, let’s hope the Washington State athletic director is already making calls to schedule an SEC opponent in the coming years. If nothing else, any future appearance by Leach on the Paul Finebaum Show should be must-see entertainment.
LSU has dismissed nose guard Travonte Valentine. The dismissal for a violation of team rules was announced Thursday night with an emailed release with head coach Ed Orgeron sharing a brief statement.
“At this point in time, Travonte is no longer part of our football program,” Orgeron said. “We wish him the best.”
Valentine played in five games for LSU last season as a sophomore, but he did not play in the final seven games of the season. Valentine faced some academic troubles at LSU last year that put his eligibility in question over the summer, but he worked to meet the academic requirements to play for LSU prior to the start of the 2016 season. Valentine also had to work through NCAA issues regarding academic concerns that prevented him from playing his freshman season.
LSU did not announce or confirm the reason for Valentine’s dismissal from the program other than to say it was for a violation of team rules.
LSU has certainly invested in its coaching staff, now under the leadership of Ed Orgeron. New details about the contract for new offensive coordinator Matt Canada reveal LSU’s newest coordinator will be paid $1.5 million per year over the course of his three-year deal, according to The Advocate.
Canada came to LSU after serving as offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh under Pat Narduzzi. Canada’s contract details at Pitt have not been revealed or recorded in USA Today’s annual database of coaching salaries, but it is very likely he was not getting close to this kind of money at Pitt. Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis was the nation’s highest-paid assistant coach in college football last season, according to the USA Today salary database. No other coach hit the $1.5 million mark, although Clemson’s Brent Venables was close ($1.43 million), as was supposed LSU target Lane Kiffin at Alabama ($1.4 million). Canada was a Broyles Award finalist this past season, so he has earned a chance to be among the highest-paid coaches in the game given his recent success.
LSU is also paying top dollar to its defensive coordinator, Dave Aranda. Aranda was the nation’s fourth highest-paid assistant coach last season with a contract paying $1.315 million in 2016. Aranda has since been given a raise from LSU and is earning a reported $1.8 million per year under his new three-year deal. LSU was paying Cam Cameron $1.211 million last season as well. Cameron was fired during the 2016 season along with former head coach Les Miles.
Having the best assistant coaches money can buy is always a nice perk, and LSU will hope paying their coordinators better than any other assistant coach will help Orgeron take the Tigers back to the top of the SEC. Paying top dollar brings pressure to win though, and if LSU struggles to take those next steps then we could be right back to square one in a matter of time.
Expect top assistants to continue to be paid handsomely moving forward though. Media rights deals and revenue shares from such deals pays well, and is a big reason why LSU has been able to afford such high assistant contracts. Canada’s base pay from LSU is set at $500,000 but the additional $1 million comes in part from media rights compensation. This is why schools in the SEC and Big Ten will likely be able to stay ahead of the pack in the coaching game more often than not, and why some assistant coaches may find it more lucrative to remain a coordinator at a program rather than take on a head coaching gig at some other spots.
Add another talented junior to the list of underclassmen who are skipping their senior season for the 2017 NFL Draft.
LSU receiver Malachi Dupre announced on Twitter that he would be moving on from Baton Rouge and be heading to the NFL.
Dupre joined the Tigers as one of the highest rated recruits in the nation but never quite lived up to that potential during his time at the school in terms of numbers. Despite that, he ended his time in college on a high note with a career-high 139 receiving yards in LSU’s win over Louisville in the Citrus Bowl.
Dupree also wound up leading the team in yards, catches and touchdown receptions in 2016.
Well, at least theoretically it was fun while it lasted.
In a television interview Wednesday, former LSU head coach Les Miles intimated that he would be open to the Western Michigan job if it was offered. Based on one report, there will be no decision for the Mad Hatter to weigh.
How serious a candidate, if at all, Miles was remains to be seen — FootballScoop.com noted they had heard the two sides spoke earlier in the week — although it always just seemed like he would end up in broadcasting for a year before getting back into the coaching game on the next spinning of the coaching carousel.
As for the WMU opening moving forward, it appears the search could be wrapped up as early as this weekend.
Tim Lester, a former Broncos quarterback who’s in the school’s Hall of Fame, and Northwestern assistant Matt MacPherson have interviewed for the job, as has Michigan running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley. It appears though that, like Miles’, Wheatley’s candidacy has come to an end.
Finally, FootballScoop is also reporting that WMU is planning to meet with current Alabama offensive line coach and former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal at some point Friday. Speculation is that Cristobal and Lester are the front-runners and that a decision — and even an announcement — could come as early as Saturday.