Chris Ault steps down as Nevada’s head coach

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After nearly three decades at Nevada, the brains behind the innovative and widely-copied Pistol offense is set to holster his coaching career.

Chris Ault, one day after confirming a press conference for today that would be held to address the “future and direction of the Wolf Pack football program,” announced he is stepping down as the Wolf Pack’s head coach, effective immediately.  The decision ends a 28-year head coaching career at Nevada that spanned 37 years.

“Wolf Pack football has firmly established a blueprint for success that can be sustained,” Ault said in a statement announcing his retirement.

“Chris Ault truly has been Nevada Football for more than 40 years,” athletic director Cary Groth said. “He has left an indelible footprint on not only the football program, but the University as well.  His legacy is one of success, honor and tradition. There is a reason that he is in the Hall of Fame and was one of the youngest coaches ever inducted.  I know I speak for the entire community in congratulating – and sincerely thanking – Coach for his honorable service to college football and our University.”

The release stated that the school and athletic department “will act quickly to identify Nevada’s next head coach through a national search.”

Ault spent three separate stints as Nevada’s coach — 1976-92, 1994-95 and 2004-present.  He was also a Wolf Pack quarterback in the mid-sixties and the school’s athletic director from 1986-2004, guiding the Nevada football program from the Div. II level to Div. I-AA to the FBS level (then-Div. I-A) in 1992.

All told, Ault spent 41 of the past 48 years at his alma mater as a player, coach and/or administrator.

The 66-year-old Ault finishes his coaching career with a 233-109-1 record; won five FBS conference championships and 10 total;  and led the Wolf Pack to 10 bowl berths, including one in each of the past eight seasons.  In 2002, Ault was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.  Oddly enough, the Pistol offense, which has been utilized by numerous college football programs and has even found its way into the NFL, wasn’t even a part of Ault’s résumé when he was elected to the Hall.

“Chris Ault truly has been Nevada Football for more than 40 years,” Groth said. “He has left an indelible footprint on not only the football program, but the University as well.  His legacy is one of success, honor and tradition. There is a reason that he is in the Hall of Fame and was one of the youngest coaches ever inducted.  I know I speak for the entire community in congratulating – and sincerely thanking – Coach for his honorable service to college football and our University.”

Indiana adds Utah transfer QB Jack Tuttle

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Though he sounds like a William Faulkner character, Jack Tuttle is a former Utah Ute and now the newest Indiana Hoosier. Indiana head coach Tom Allen announced the transfer quarterback addition on Monday.

A San Marcos, Calif., native, Tuttle signed with Utah out of Mission Hills High School in 2018 but did not see action for the Utes this fall. The former 4-star recruit opted to transfer, and will sit out the 2019 season and compete for the IU quarterback job in 2020 as a redshirt sophomore.

“Jack Tuttle is a tremendous addition to our program and we are happy to welcome him to IU,” Allen said. “He is extremely talented and brings a huge skillset to our quarterback room. We look forward to his arrival on campus next semester and his development as a Hoosier.”

The Hoosiers were quarterbacked this fall by sophomore Peyton Ramsey. Assuming Ramsey remains healthy and a Hoosier, he would hold the job until his graduation after the 2020 season, meaning it could be 2021 before Tuttle sees the field in a major way for Indiana.

Report: Despite USC hiring, Kliff Kingsbury could be an NFL head coaching target

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One of the more surprising moves of the 2018-19 coaching market, at least to me, was Kliff Kingsbury agreeing to become USC’s offensive coordinator.

The former Texas Tech head coach agreed to the job a week and a half after his firing, knowing Clay Helton could be out of a job after 2019 and before the chance NFL teams could truly inquire about his interest. He’s now officially a USC employee, but that hasn’t stopped NFL teams from sniffing, according to FOX’s Jay Glazer.

In a Sunday morning report, Glazer said NFL teams, in their never-ending hunt to copy whoever won the previous Sunday, are looking for the next next Sean McVay now that the first next McVay, John DeFlilippo, has lost his lost his job as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator — and that choice could indeed be Kingsbury.

“Teams were actually looking at his USC contract to see if maybe (they) could lure him before he really starts,” Glazer said.

Kingsbury himself said he drew interest from McVay himself, telling Dan Patrick he was “close” to joining the Rams.

It would be wild for a coach fired for going 35-40 in six seasons at his alma mater to immediately ascend to an NFL head coaching post, but even more wild for a USC offensive coordinator job to be in between those two stops.

Still, it seems incredibly unlikely for that to happen — for obvious reasons.

And if Kingsbury’s USC buyout (which is unknown, due to USC’s status as a private school) keeps him from a possible NFL head coaching job, well, there are worse consolations than living in Los Angeles as Kliff Kingsbury.

NC State hires former Duke, Florida OC as QBs coach

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NC State has hired Kurt Roper as its quarterbacks coach, the program announced Monday. He will replace Eli Drinkwitz, who left to become the head coach at Appalachian State.

The program announced Friday that running backs coach Des Kitchings and wide receivers coach George McDonald will replace Drinkwitz as co-offensive coordinators.

“I’m excited that Des and George will have the opportunity to oversee and develop our offense,” NC State head coach Dave Doeren said Friday. “They have a great working relationship and respect for each other and their familiarity with our offense will provide us with great continuity for our players and recruits.”

Roper arrives in Raleigh after spending the 2018 season as the quarterbacks coach at Colorado, where he was not retained after Mike MacIntyre‘s firing.

David Cutcliffe disciple, this will mark Roper’s fifth job after leaving Cutcliffe’s Duke staff after the 2013 season — where he had held the same job as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the previous six seasons. Roper left Durham to become Florida’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2014, where Will Muschamp was ultimately fired that fall. He found refuge as an offensive analyst for the Cleveland Browns in 2015, then re-united with Muschamp as South Carolina’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2016. That lasted only two years, when Roper was told to leave and found employment at Colorado, where he again got in for the final year of an outgoing coaching staff.

“My family and I are thrilled about coming to NC State as a part of Coach Doeren’s staff,” said Roper. “Working for a great coach at a great university with an unbelievable fan base is a great opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”

Here’s hoping Roper’s arrival does not portend a similar fate for Doeren and company.

Brian Kelly named AP Coach of the Year

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Two years after going 4-8, Brian Kelly is the best coach in college football.

The Notre Dame head coach was named the AP Coach of the Year on Monday, the second time he has won such an award. Kelly was named the AP Coach of the Year in 2012 after leading the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 regular season and an appearance in the BCS National Championship, and now has won the honor again after posting another undefeated regular season, putting the Irish into the College Football Playoff against Clemson in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.

In between those undefeated regular seasons, Kelly went 9-4 in 2013, 8-5 in ’14, 10-3 in ’15, 4-8 in ’16 and 10-3 last season. Now in his ninth season at Notre Dame, Kelly has collected an 81-34 record with four AP top-25 finishes and a fifth on the way.

“I think I’m a better leader of our program,” Kelly told AP of his growth since the 2016 season. “The organization has gotten so much bigger. The ability to create the right energy and day-to-day culture is difficult. I think I’ve gotten a lot better a leading that large group on a day-to-day basis.”

The award is Kelly’s 10th different national coach of the year honor. He was named the Division II Coach of the Year in 2002 and ’03 at Grand Valley State, won the Home Depot Coach of the Year award at Cincinnati in 2009 and has now collected seven different national honors in his nine seasons in South Bend.

Like with the Heisman Trophy, AP Coach of the Year voters select three choices, ranked in descending order. Twelve different coaches garnered at least one first-place vote and 19 different coaches earned at least one total vote. Kelly received 81 total points and 16 first-place votes, tied with Alabama’s Nick Saban, who came in second with 66 total points. UCF’s Josh Heupel placed third with 33 total points and five first-place votes.