Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

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Mike Sanford assumes Western Kentucky play-calling duties

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Mike Sanford is getting back to the roots that helped him land his first head-coaching job in the first place.

Last season, Junior Adams served as the offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky in addition to his duties as wide receivers coach.  While he will maintain those continue carrying those titles in 2018, the Bowling Green Daily News reports, Sanford will take over as the game-day play-caller.  Prior to coming to WKU, Sanford was the coordinator at both Notre Dame (2015-16) and Boise State (2-14).

Last season, the Hilltoppers were 89th nationally and 10th in Conference USA in scoring at 25.5 points per game.

In addition to Sanford taking over as the primary play-caller, the school also noted on its official website that “Sanford intends to take a more hands-on approach to the quarterbacks this season and will be aided with the addition of Matthew Mitchell as quarterbacks coach.”  Last season, Mitchell was an offensive graduate assistant for the Hilltoppers.

The need for a new quarterbacks coach arose after Steve Spurrier Jr. left in February for a job at Washington State.

Arkansas completes 2019 non-conference schedule with game vs. Western Kentucky

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The 2018 season is still six (long) months away, but Arkansas has done some finishing work on a future slate.

Arkansas announced Tuesday that it has reached a scheduling agreement for a one-off football game against Western Kentucky in 2019.  The game is scheduled to be played in Fayetteville on Nov. 9 of that year, and completes the Razorbacks’ schedule for that season.

The announcement also included a future home-and-home men’s basketball series between the universities.

“We are always looking for compelling matchups in our football and men’s basketball schedules, and adding the Arkansas Razorbacks is a very exciting addition for both programs,” WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said in a statement. “The proximity of Arkansas to Bowling Green will also enable our fans to travel to Fayetteville and experience unique men’s basketball and football environments.”

The 2019 game will mark the first-ever between the two football program.

In addition to Western Kentucky, Arkansas’ 2019 non-conference schedule will consist of home games against FCS Portland State (Sept. 1), Colorado State (Sept. 14) and San Jose State (Sept. 21).

Report: Steve Spurrier Jr. leaving WKU for job at Wazzu

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With coaching holes throughout his Washington State staff to fill thanks to significant offseason poaching, Mike Leach has added a very famous college football surname.  Reportedly.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Steve Spurrier Jr. is leaving Western Kentucky to take a job under Leach at Wazzu.  The son of College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier just completed his first season as the Hilltoppers’ quarterbacks coach.  He also held the title of assistant head coach under Mike Sanford.

It’s unclear what specific title Spurrier Jr. will hold at Wazzu.

Prior to his one season at WKU, and one season as an off-field staffer at Oklahoma, Spurrier Jr. had been an assistant on his father’s South Carolina staff for 11 seasons.  During his time with the Gamecocks, he served at various points as wide receivers coach (2005-15), passing-game coordinator (2009-11) and co-offensive coordinator (2012-15).

Spurrier Jr., who played wide receiver at Duke, has also spent time during his coaching career as receivers coach at Oklahoma (1999-2001) and with the Washington Redskins (2002-03).

Coach battling brain tumors staying on WKU staff, but OL role being taken over by former Wisconsin, Oregon State assistant

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As one member of the Western Kentucky staff continues to recover from a serious health matter, job security, not surprisingly, will be way, way, way down on his list of worries.

In late October, Western Kentucky head coach Mike Sanford confirmed that offensive line coach Geoff Dartt had undergone surgery to remove a pair of brain tumors. Friday, WKU announced that it has hired TJ Woods as its new offensive line coach.

In the same release, the Hilltoppers confirmed that Dartt will remain on the staff as Sanford’s 10th assistant in an unspecified new role.

Woods spent the past three seasons as the line coach at Oregon State. Prior to that, he served in the same capacity for two seasons at Wisconsin.  In fact, this will mark the first time Woods starts a season without Gary Andersen as his head coach since 2008 as he was also at Utah State from 2009-12.

“The addition of TJ Woods to our program is a game-changer for our offensive line unit,” Sanford said. “He has overseen dominant rushing attacks at the highest level of college football. I look forward to working directly with TJ to produce a balanced and explosive offense on The Hill in 2018 and beyond.”

“My wife, Kelly, and I are excited to be a part of the Hilltopper family,” Woods said. “To be able to work for Coach Sanford and represent Western Kentucky University is a tremendous opportunity, and I look forward to building on the great tradition of tough, tenacious offensive line play here at WKU. My family and I are eager to join the Bowling Green community and get to work.”

Conference USA releases 2018 schedule

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Conference USA released its 2018 schedule on Tuesday, confirming that once again the league will play football this fall.

The league slate kicks off Sept. 8 with FIU’s visit to Old Dominion, while the first game involving a C-USA team is set for Aug. 25, when Rice hosts Prairie View A&M. Conference games are scattered throughout the month of September, with the first full Saturday slate coming on Oct. 6 with Old Dominion at Florida Atlantic, UAB at Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee at Marshall, North Texas at UTEP and UTSA at Rice.

While the MAC has opted for a full embrace of midweek football, Conference USA has gone in the exact opposite direction. Not one C-USA game is scheduled as of today for a weeknight — Thursday or Friday included — and only one game will be played on a day other than Saturday, a Friday, Aug. 31 visit to Wisconsin by Western Kentucky.

The most-anticipated non-conference games involving C-USA teams are Florida Atlantic’s opener at Oklahoma and on Sept. 1 and the Owls’ Sept. 22 visit to reigning American and Peach Bowl champion UCF. North Texas also has two shots to win nationwide respect for the league in its opener against SMU on Sept. 1 in Denton and a Sept. 15 visit to retooling Arkansas.

The highlight of the league schedule comes on Nov. 17 with a rematch of the 2017 title game when Florida Atlantic visits North Texas. The Owls won both meetings last season by a combined score of 110-48.

The 14th C-USA Championship will be held on Dec. 1 at the home of the division winner with the best conference record. FAU will look to become the second straight back-to-back C-USA champion, joining Western Kentucky in 2015-16.