Neal Brown

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UCF, Lane Kiffin, Neal Brown among college football underdogs celebrating NCAA Tournament madness

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The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been a joy to watch over the course of the first few days. Highlighted by some significant upsets and some thrilling finishes, this year’s tournament has everybody talking, including college football coaches. This is especially true for college football’s non-power conference programs, who seem to be celebrating the upsets performed early on by schools like Marshall, Loyola-Chicago and, of course, UMBC.

UCF took to Twitter to extend congratulations to the University of Maryland Baltimore County after the 16-seed Retrievers became the first team in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s history to upset a No. 1 seed, in which UMBC throttled No. 1 Virginia by 20 after an unbelievable second-half performance that left Virginia clueless how to respond.

UMBC has been the story of the first round for the historic upset of the Cavaliers, but FAU head coach Lane Kiffin claims he picked UMBC to win the game. In fact, Kiffin showed off a bracket in which he picked UMBC to win it all. Of course, such a bracket cannot be taken too seriously, especially after closer inspection reveals Kiffin went heavy with the underdog mentality throughout his bracket. Perhaps such a bracket strategy plays into the kind of mentality Kiffin is attempting to build at FAU.

Troy coach Neal Brown also used the UMBC upset to make a case for the Group of Five representation in college football to get more of a fair shake in the sport of college football.

Brown is not the only person to have this thought, although the idea has just as many on the other side of the fence as well. The College Football Playoff is a much smaller system to determine a college football champion and expansion is a hot-button topic of conversation for a variety of reasons. The current format allows for one guaranteed spot in a major bowl game for the highest-ranked conference champion from the non-power conferences, but undefeated UCF was still left out of the College Football Playoff last season and it may be a long time before a non-power conference champion gets a shot at the playoff.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach has proposed a 64-team college football playoff, but the most likely step for expansion of the playoff system will double the field to eight teams. That would still likely leave out some top non-power conference options, but it would leave the door open just a little wider for a team like UCF last year.

Chad Morris, Derek Dooley among betting favorites to be next Ole Miss head coach

AP Photo/Wade Payne, File

It did not take long for people to start talking about who the next head coach at Ole Miss will be following the Thursday night resignation of Hugh Freeze. And somehow, one of the betting favorites has quickly become former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.

As noted by Rocky Top Talk, the Tennessee blog on SB Nation, the former Vols coach and current assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is listed as the second most-favored coach to take over at Ole Miss, listed at +500 according to BetOnline. SMU head coach Chad Morris is the current betting favorite on the betting website, with Morris listed at +300 to be the next coach of the Rebels.

Other names on the board include former LSU head coach Les Miles (+800), and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (+1400). FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has been having fun trolling about the Ole Miss fallout on Twitter, yet he is also on the board at +1600.

For what it is worth, interim head coach Matt Luke has also been given odds to keep the job, and he is listed at +1200.

Here are the latest odds as listed by BetOnline;

  • Chad Morris +300
  • Derek Dooley +500
  • Blake Anderson +700
  • Les Miles +800
  • Mike Norvell +1000
  • Brent Venables +1200
  • Scott Frost +1400
  • Chip Kelly +1400
  • Neal Brown +1600
  • Lane Kiffin +1600
  • Mike MacIntyre +1600
  • Charlie Strong +1600
  • Willie Fritz +2000
  • Bryan Harsin +2000
  • Bobby Petrino +2500

So place your bets wisely. But if you choose to place your money on Dooley, you might as well just send me your money instead.

Saban, Harbaugh, Meyer among Maxwell Football Club coach of the year semifinalists


Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer are among 16 remaining candidates for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award presented by the Maxwell Football Club.

Saban is the only coach from the SEC listed as a semifinalist, and he has never won the award that was first presented in 1989 to Michigan’s Bo Schembechler. Gene Stallings is the only Alabama coach to win the award, doing so in 1992. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was the first SEC coach since 1998 (Tennessee’s Philip Fulmer) to win the award, in 2014.

Meyer and Mike Leach are the only semifinalists to previously win the award. Meyer won the award in 2004 at Utah and Leach took the award in 2008 with Texas Tech. Penn State’s James Franklin could become the third Penn State coach to win the award, joining Joe Paterno (1990, 2005) and Bill O’Brien (2012).

The remaining semifinalists for the award are Mike MacIntyre (Colorado), Bobby Petrino (Louisville), Neal Brown (Troy), Ken Niumatalolo (Navy), Scott Frost (UCF), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech), Chris Petersen (Washington), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin).

Finalists for the award will be announced on December 12 and a winner will be named on December 29. The winner will be presented with the award on March 10, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Banquet.

Troy offensive lineman Corey McCullers killed in car accident


Some sad news to share on this Father’s Day out of Alabama. Troy redshirt freshman offensive lineman Corey McCullers was killed in a car accident Saturday afternoon, the university confirmed.

“This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts hurt for the McCullers family,” Troy Athletic Director John Hartwell said in a released statement. “We are reminded every day how precious life is, and the thoughts and prayers of the Troy University Family are with his family, friends and teammates as they mourn the beautiful life that Corey lived.”

“The Troy Football Family is heartbroken today over the sudden loss of Corey McCullers,” Troy football head coach Neal Brown said. “There is no greater tragedy than losing a young man with a bright future far too soon. Corey was a true Trojan who loved Troy University and his teammates. Our staff and players will always remember Corey’s work ethic and his positive attitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

McCullers previously walked on to the Troy football program and participated on the scout team while sitting out his redshirt freshman season in 2014. McCullers earned high academic marks and earned  a spot on Troy’s 3.0 Club as a result while majoring in broadcast journalism.

According to The Montgomery Advertiser, McCullers was involved in a multi-vehicle accident Saturday afternoon that is currently still under investigation by Alabama State Troopers just a few miles from Troy. His car reportedly hit another vehicle before colliding with a parked travel trailer on the side of the road with a flat tire. Police ruled him dead upon arriving on the scene. Three others in the other vehicle were being treated for injuries at a nearby hospital.

We join the Troy and McCullers family in mourning the loss of Corey.

Photo credit: Troy Athletics

FBS head coaching carousel comes to a full and complete stop

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It all got started before mid-September and lasted until the beginning of February. This past season’s edition of the coaching carousel went on a tad longer than perhaps anyone could have imagined, but with Central Michigan officially introducing John Bonamego as its new head coach today, we now have closed the book on head coaching changes among major college football programs.

Hopefully, at least.

In all we saw 15 head coaching changes at the FBS level, including seven from power conferences. Three of those power conference coaching changes came in the Big Ten, with Michigan and Nebraska each turning a page with their respective programs and Wisconsin having to react to losing a coach to the Pac-12.

Ready for a quick trip down memory lane? Here is a walk-through of the timeline of events regarding this now completed coaching carousel.

Coaching Carousel Timeline

  • September 8, 2014 – SMU head coach June Jones announces his resignation from the head coaching position. SMU names defensive coordinator Tom Mason interim head coach for the remainder of 2014 season.
  • September 28, 2014 – Kansas head coach Charlie Weis relieved of his duties. Kansas names defensive coordinator Clint Bowen interim head coach.
  • October 5, 2014 – Troy head coach Larry Blakeney announces he will resign at end of 2014 season.
  • October 13, 2014 – Buffalo relieves Jeff Quinn of his duties. Buffalo names Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Alex Wood interim head coach.
  • November 16, 2014 – Florida announces Will Muschamp will be dismissed at the end of the regular season.
  • November 28, 2014 – UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck resigns from position.
  • November 30, 2014 – Nebraska fires Bo Pelini, effective immediately. Running game coordinator Barney Cotton named interim coach for bowl game.
  • November 30, 2014 – Troy announces Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown will be new head coach.
  • November 30, 2014 – SMU announces it will hire Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris to be new head coach.
  • November 30, 2014 – Buffalo hires Wisconsin-Whitewater head coach Lance Leipold to be new head coach.
  • December 1, 2014 – Tulsa fires head coach Bill Blankenship.
  • December 2, 2014 – Michigan fires head coach Brady Hoke.
  • December 4, 2014 – Florida hires Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain to be new head coach.
  • December 4, 2014 – Nebraska hires Oregon State head coach Mike Riley to be new head coach.
  • December 5, 2014 – Kansas hires Texas A&M wide receivers coach David Beaty to be new head coach.
  • December 8, 2014 – Houston relieves head coach Tony Levine of duties.
  • December 8, 2014 – UNLV reportedly set to hire Bishop Gorman High School (NV) head coach Tony Sanchez as new head coach.
  • December 10, 2014 – Oregon State hires Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen to be new head coach.
  • December 11, 2014 – Tulsa hires Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery to be new head coach.
  • December 12, 2014 – Wisconsin hires Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst to be new head coach.
  • December 15, 2014 – Houston hires Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Tom Herman to be new head coach.
  • December 22, 2014 – Colorado State hires Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to be new head coach.
  • December 26, 2014 – Pittsburgh hires Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to be new head coach.
  • December 29, 2014 – Michigan hires former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to be new head coach.
  • January 22, 2015 – Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos leaves job to accept position as Arkansas offensive coordinator.
  • February 8, 2015 – Central Michigan hires Detroit Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego as new head coach.