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LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13:  UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero speaks at a press conference introducing Jim Mora as head UCLA football coach at the J.D. Morgan Center at UCLA on December 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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UCLA AD Dan Guerrero explains why he voted for satellite camp ban

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Who ordered the code red? UCLA AD Dan Guerrero ordered the code red. But why did he order the code red? That’s another question entirely.

In the wake of a 10-5 vote to ban all off-campus camps earlier this month, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told reporters Wednesday the Bruins’ AD “did not vote the way he was supposed to.” In an email obtained by Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Staples, Guerrero explained to his colleagues why.

In short, Guerrero’s vote came at the end of the line, when it appeared Proposal 2015-59, authored by the ACC, to ban coaches from working camps off their own campuses, was going to pass no matter how he voted. In his mind, voting for that ban made more sense for the Pac-12 than allowing Proposal 2015-60, a rule forwarded by the SEC that would ban coaches from working more than 50 miles off their own campuses because the Pac-12 already had a similar rule on its books. If Proposal 2015-60 passed, Guerrero reasoned, Pac-12 schools would be at a disadvantage relative to other conferences, whereas 2015-59 put everyone on the same (albeit non-sensical) playing field.

Why Guerrero couldn’t have voted for Proposal 2015-60 and then urged the Pac-12 to change its rule is another question altogether.

Dear Pac-12 colleagues,

Recognizing the inquiries made to the Pac-12 Conference office about the decision rendered at NCAA Division 1 Council meeting this past week to pass Proposal 2015–59, ending  “satellite camps”, I thought it best convey my rationale for voting to support this piece of legislation. Prior to these meetings, I had extensive conversations with Pac-12 representatives in regard to the Conference’s position on a number of legislative proposals—the “satellite camp” proposals included. With an 0–11–1 vote cast by the Pac-12 Council, a vote to oppose proposals 2015–59 (sponsored by the ACC) and 2015–60, (sponsored by the SEC) was the charge with the ultimate goal to refer the legislation to the Football Oversight Committee (FOC). 

Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to “satellite camps” unchanged. In fact this was the preferred outcome by our Conference as indicated in the preparatory materials I received prior to the meeting. 

When this did not happen, it was conveyed on the Council floor that the FOC was supportive of 2015–59 and/or 2015–60. Based on the subsequent discussion it appeared as though passage was imminent. Therefore, I made the call to support 2015–59, which was the preference of the two options.

Proposal 2015–59 was clearly preferable from a Pac-12 perspective because it is aligned with current Pac-12 legislation SPR 6–6(a) that limits institutional camps to the campus.  If 2015–60 had passed, other conferences would have had a more lenient camp rule than the Pac-12 . As such, avoiding that outcome became my top priority.

When my read of the situation was that 2015–59 was going to pass, regardless of a Pac-12 vote against, I voted in favor of this proposition as it was the more consistent of the two with current Pac-12 legislation.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the process.

Thanks,

Dan Guerrero
Director of Athletics, UCLA

Guerrero wasn’t alone in voting against his league’s wishes. Texas State AD Larry Teis voted for the ban, though a majority of Sun Belt schools wanted to keep satellite camps intact.

Had those two voted in their conference’s best interests, a 10-5 vote for the ban would have swung to a 9-6 vote against (as a Power 5 school, the Pac-12’s vote counted double).

As fate would have it, UCLA chancellor Gene Block sits on the Division I Board of Directors, which will meet next week and is widely expected to revisit the D1 Council’s vote, if not walk it back altogether. It’s a safe assumption Block will walk into that meeting with a mind to take an extinguisher to the tire fire his athletics director started.

Willie Fritz completes first Tulane coaching staff

during the first half against the Georgia Southern Eagles at Sanford Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Athens, Georgia.
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With Willie Fritz set to embark on his first spring practice at Tulane, the first-year head coach has officially put the finishing touches on his first FBS coaching staff.

Sunday, Tulane announced in a press release that four on-field coaches have been hired by Fritz — Slade Nagle, Jamaal Fobbs, Jeff Conway and Chris Hampton. Nagle will coach tight ends, Fobbs will be the running backs coach, Conway will oversee the wide receivers and Hampton will coach defensive backs.

Three of the four assistants come to the Green Wave from the FCS level. The fourth, Conway, was the co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach/tight ends coach at Texas State for the last four years. Fritz and Conway also have a rather extensive connection that stretches back over three decades.

From the school’s release:

Fritz and Conway have a storied history together that dates back to 1984 when both were in their first stints at Sam Houston State. Since then, the two have worked together at Blinn Junior College, Central Missouri, a second time at Sam Houston State and will reunite at Tulane for the fifth time over the last 31 years.

Fritz was the head coach at Georgia Southern the last two seasons, guiding the Eagles to a 17-7 mark in 2014-15. Those were that program’s first two seasons at the FBS level.

Idaho, NMSU out as Sun Belt members after 2017

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Apparently, Idaho’s sales pitch wasn’t as compelling as they’d like.

Two weeks ago, Idaho unveiled a 19-slide presentation aimed at continuing their football membership in the Sun Belt Conference, membership that was initially granted to both themselves and New Mexico State on four-year terms that are set to expire following the 2017 season.  Looking for an extension, both football programs will instead be looking for new homes in a couple of seasons.

What does the denial of extension do to the two football programs impacted by the decision? For the Vandals, it likely means dropping down to the FCS level and joining the Big Sky conference, where there other varsity sports are currently housed. For the Aggies, whose other sports play in the WAC, which doesn’t offer football, another go as an FBS independent will likely be in the offing.

With the impending departures of Idaho and New Mexico State after the 2017 season and the addition of Coastal Carolina for that season, the SBC will settle in with 10 members two years from now.  That 10-member lineup would feature teams from Texas (Texas State), Arkansas (Arkansas State), Louisiana (Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe), Alabama (South Alabama, Troy), Georgia (Georgia Southern, Georgia State), North Carolina (Appalachian State) and South Carolina (Coastal Carolina).

With the recent decision by the NCAA to deregulate conference championship games, the SBC will still be able to conduct such games with just 10 members instead of the previously-mandated 12.

UPDATED 2:51 p.m. ET: Idaho confirmed in a press release that the Sun Belt Conference has opted to go with a 10-team league following the 2017 season, putting them and New Mexico State on the outside of the conference looking in two seasons from now.  The release also stated that the university will now decide whether to accept an invitation to join the Big Sky of the FCS or compete as an independent at the FBS level.

Smart, Richt currently pace all new head coaches in recruit rankings

CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 04:  New University of Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt makes the 'U' sign after he was introduced at a press conference at the school on December 4, 2015 in Coral Gables, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
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In somewhat of an ironic twist, the head coach who was forced to leave Georgia and the coach who replaced him are doing quite well on the recruiting trail at their new programs.  In fact, they’re doing better than any other who found a landing spot in the 2015-16 spinning of the coaching carousel.

As it stands now, Miami’s Mark Richt has the 19th-ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.com, the second-best of any of the  27 head coaches hired in the past three months.  The best?  Georgia, which has the No. 15 class thanks in part to Kirby Smart, Richt’s successor in Athens.

UGA right now, though, and fully understanding that there are nearly two weeks left until National Signing Day, is nine spots behind the No. 6 class Richt signed in 2015.  The U, meanwhile, was ranked 26th for Al Golden‘s last class, a full seven spots behind were Richt stands now.

Not surprisingly, a significant number of programs have seen their recruiting rankings dip from a year ago.  One of the most glaring is that of USC.  Despite offensive coordinator Clay Helton taking over as interim head coach in mid-October and then taking over permanently in late November, USC has just the 23rd-ranked class; last year at this time, the Trojans were well on their way to having Rivals’ No. 1 class under Steve Sarkisian.

Of the 27 head coaches new to their teams, 17 have classes that are ranked lower than their predecessors from a year ago.  The biggest drop belongs to Seth Littrell‘s North Texas (127th currently, 90th in 2015), while that ignominious honor for Power Five programs goes to Dave Odom and Missouri (59th, 27th).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Matt Campbell has taken his new team on one of the biggest rises, lifting Iowa State from No. 69 under the departed Paul Rhoads to No. 52.  Interestingly, Campbell’s successor at Toledo, UT offensive coordinator Jason Candle, has the Rockets at 73rd, 17 spots higher than his predecessor’s 90th-ranked class of a year ago.

Below are the 27 newest head coaches, with where their teams rank now in the recruiting rankings compared to a year ago:

2016 New HC Recruit Rankings

Spinning of 2015-16 coaching carousel comes to a halt (probably)

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Los Angeles Coliseum on November 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The 2015-16 head-coaching carousel began spinning August 28 of last year with Illinois’ firing of Tim Beckman. Exactly 141 days later, the hiring of Frank Wilson by UT-San Antonio has brought it to a halt. Probably.

Barring an unexpected firing by an FBS program or an NFL team swooping in to steal a coach, it’s come time, I think, to sit back and take a look at how this year’s version of the carousel has shaken out.

All told, 26 FBS teams will head into the 2016 with head coaches who did not begin the 2015 season in that capacity — Bill Cubit, the Illini’s interim coach after Beckman’s firing, was ultimately named as the permanent head coach and would be considered a 27th. That’s a significant jump from the recent past, with 2013 yielding 19 changes and “just” 15 in 2014. Of this cycle’s changes, 13 came at Power Five programs — nine as the result of dismissals, four because of retirements.

That, of course, means 14 openings came from the Group of Five schools; not surprisingly, the Power Five movement had an impact on that group as four G5 head coaches left for the same job with P5 teams, while another, Ball State’s Pete Lembo, left to become an assistant at a P5 program. Six of the remaining holes were created by firings, while two more jobs in that group came open because of retirements. The lone remaining? Willie Fritz left Georgia Southern to take over at Tulane.

Of the openings, eight were filled by coaches who were defensive coordinators in 2015, and another eight by offensive coordinators.  That is quite the turnaround from a year ago, when just one DC, Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi to Pittsburgh, became a head coach, while five of their offensive brethren landed head-coaching jobs.

The next group could be called the Noah’s Ark of the carousel, coming from their 2015 jobs in twos: interim head coaches (Cubit, USC’s Clay Helton), FCS head coaches (Louisiana-Monroe’s Matt Viator, Texas State’s Everett Withers) and running backs coach (Bowling Green’s Mike Jinks, Wilson).

Finally, one NFL assistant made the move back to the collegiate ranks: Mike Neu, who left the New Orleans Saints to take over for Lembo at Ball State.

And with that, I (probably) wash my hands of the ’15-’16 carousel, knowing full well that it’ll all begin again another 10 months or so — or seven months, if another program decides to pull a preseason Illini.