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Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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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

Peyton Manning, Steve Spurrier (again) among 13 elected to College Football Hall of Fame

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If you’re looking for a class with star power, this one has it.  In spades.

Monday morning, the National Football Foundation announced the 2017 class that will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this year.  The group includes 19 players and three coaches.

Players:

  • BOB CRABLE – LB, Notre Dame (1978-81)
  • MARSHALL FAULK – RB, San Diego State (1991-93)
  • KIRK GIBSON – WR, Michigan State (1975-78)
  • MATT LEINART – QB, Southern California (2003-05)
  • PEYTON MANNING – QB, Tennessee (1994-97)
  • BOB McKAY – OT, Texas (1968-69)
  • DAT NGUYEN – LB, Texas A&M (1995-98)
  • ADRIAN PETERSON – RB, Georgia Southern (1998-2001)
  • MIKE RUTH – NG, Boston College (1982-85)
  • BRIAN URLACHER – DB, New Mexico (1996-99)

Coaches:

  • DANNY FORD – 122-59-5 (66.9%); Clemson (1978-89), Arkansas (1993-97)
  • LARRY KEHRES – 332-24-3 (92.9%); Mount Union (Ohio) (1986-2012)
  • STEVE SPURRIER – 228-89-2 (71.8%); Duke (1987-89), Florida (1990-2001), South Carolina (2005-15)

Spurrier is already in the Hall of Fame as a player.  He will become just the fourth individual to be inducted as both a player and a coach, joining Bobby Dodd, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Bowden Wyatt.

In 2011, Faulk was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Gibson is likely known to most as the former Los Angles Dodgers baseball player, whose home run trot in the 1988 World Series remains one of the most iconic moments in the sport’s history.

Kehres is the only head coach at any level of college football to finish with a winning percentage above .900 — his Purple Raiders won a staggering 332 of 359 games (with three ties) for a .929 win percentage during the incredible run that lasted nearly three decades.

Urlacher is the first player from the University of New Mexico to be elected, while the “other” Adrian Peterson is just the second from Georgia Southern (Tracy Ham, 2007).

South Carolina’s Shawn Elliott lands Georgia State job

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For the second time today, a non-offensive or defensive coordinator has filled an FBS head-coaching vacancy.

According to 247Sports.com, South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott will be the next head coach at Georgia State.  An official announcement from the football program is expected to come by Friday at the latest.

Elliott would replace Trent Miles, who was fired by the Sun Belt Conference school in mid-November.

This would be Elliot’s first head-coaching job, although he did serve as the Gamecocks’ interim coach when Steve Spurrier abruptly retired midway through the 2015 season.

Elliott has spent the past seven seasons at USC, having been retained by new head coach Will Muschamp.  Prior to that, he had spent his entire coaching career at his alma mater Appalachian State, a career that began in 1996.

UPDATED 5:29 p.m. ET: The Elliott hiring is now official.

Tyson Summers fires both co-OCs after first season at Georgia Southern

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It was not a good first season for Georgia Southern head coach Tyson Summers. Hired away from the Colorado State defensive coordinator job, Summers moved into his first head coaching job at a successful program with a very specific expectation for how offensive football should work.

After enjoying a 17-7 mark in two seasons under Willie Fritz — including a 14-2 mark in Sun Belt pay — Georgia Southern slipped to 5-7 in Summers’s first season. Beyond that, though, the Eagles couldn’t move the football.

Georgia Southern dropped from 24th to 79th in scoring offense, 24th to 104th in yards per play and from first to 29th in rushing, as their 363 yards per game average wilted to 224. It got so bad that Georgia Southern AD Tom Kleinlein felt the need to issue a release Saturday stating Summers would indeed return for a second season in 2017, but his offensive coordinators were not so fortunate. Georgia Southern announced Sunday that co-offensive coordinators David Dean and Rance Gillespie will not return.

“Decisions like these are never easy,” Summers said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for both David and Rance as people and football coaches, but we did not have the production nor the scoring numbers we had hoped for.

“We need to get back to our roots of having one of the most explosive rushing attacks in the country. That begins with me and the hiring of a coordinator who will fit that culture.”

Gillespie coached quarterbacks and initially called plays before having that duty revoked and handed to Dean midway through the season. Dean also coached wide receivers.

2016 College Football Bowl Projections after Week 13

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As we exit a wild Thanksgiving week filled with rivalry game upsets and head toward the final week of the regular season, it’s crazy to think that college football is over for a lot of teams. At the same time, there are dozens of others wondering what’s next on the docket with the postseason picture still slowly coming into focus. Most teams are left wondering just how the bowl picture will shake out and it could come right down to the end for several teams looking to find a spot from the College Football Playoff on down.

With all that in mind, CFTalk decided to peer into our crystal ball and see how every game the rest of the year plays out and which teams wind up in certain bowl games. Running through all the scenarios, here’s how the bowl picture could play out from the final four to the very first one on December 17:

College Football Playoff

Bowl Teams
Peach Bowl No. 1 Alabama No. 4 Washington
Fiesta Bowl No. 2 Clemson No. 3 Ohio State

New Year’s Six

Bowl Teams
Rose Bowl Wisconsin USC
Sugar Bowl Oklahoma Florida
Orange Bowl Florida State Michigan
Cotton Bowl Penn State Western Michigan

2016 FBS Bowl Games

Bowl Teams
New Mexico Bowl UTSA New Mexico
Las Vegas Bowl North Texas+ San Diego State
Cure Bowl UL-Lafayette UCF
Camellia Bowl Arkansas State Central Michigan
New Orleans Bowl Southern Miss Appalachian State
Miami Beach Bowl Tulsa Toledo
Boca Raton Bowl Western Kentucky Houston
Poinsettia Bowl BYU* Wyoming
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Colorado State Miami (OH)
Bahamas Bowl Old Dominion* Eastern Michigan*
Armed Forces Bowl Navy* Mississippi State+
Dollar General Bowl Troy Ohio
Hawaii Bowl Middle Tenn. State Hawaii
St. Petersburg Bowl South Florida Army
Quick Lane Bowl Maryland Boston College
Independence Bowl South Carolina N.C. State
Heart of Dallas Bowl Louisiana Tech South Alabama
Military Bowl Wake Forest Temple
Holiday Bowl Iowa Stanford
Cactus Bowl Baylor Air Force
Pinstripe Bowl Northwestern Pitt
Russell Athletic Bowl Virginia Tech West Virginia
Foster Farms Bowl Indiana Washington State
Texas Bowl Texas A&M Kansas State
Birmingham Bowl Vanderbilt Memphis
Belk Bowl Georgia Tech Kentucky
Alamo Bowl Oklahoma State Colorado
Liberty Bowl Tennessee TCU
Sun Bowl North Carolina Utah
Music City Bowl Minnesota Georgia
TaxSlayer Bowl Miami (FL) Arkansas
Outback Bowl Nebraska LSU
Citrus Bowl Louisville Auburn
Arizona Bowl Idaho Boise State

*Accepted bowl invite
+ 5-7 team selected based on APR