USC, the preseason No. 1 team, falls to 7-6 after Sun Bowl loss

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There are few teams that have fallen farther from grace this season than West Virginia. USC managed to do it, though.

The preseason No. 1 team has been the biggest disappointment in college football this year. The depth issues facing the Trojans were becoming impossible to ignore in the preseason, but it was hard to predict USC losing five out of its final six games, including today’s Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech.

Max Wittek, replacing the injured Matt Barkley, went just 14-of-37 for 107 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions as the Trojans fell to the Yellow Jackets 21-7. Aided by blustery conditions, Wittek overthrew receivers all day and had a hard time connecting with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. But the redshirt freshman also generally had one mode for throwing the ball all afternoon: as hard as he could.

Wittek is young and will learn from the experience, but his performance was an impression of how Lane Kiffin once again was unable to make successful second half adjustments — if there were adjustments at all. For the third time this season, the Trojans failed to score in the second half of a game.

Kiffin calls the offensive plays, yet USC had just 205 total yards and had just seven first downs the whole game without the help of penalties. For perspective, that’s 182 yards less than what Georgia Tech, which fired defensive coordinator Al Groh midseason, allowed on average per game all year, and only 1-AA Presbyterian scored fewer points against the Yellow Jackets in 2012.

And it’s Monte Kiffin, USC’s defensive coordinator, who is retiring.

Of course, you can blame the game conditions or the inexperience of Wittek, but USC showed from the first down of play that it had no interest being in the Sun Bowl. Not that it was some gigantic secret.

So now USC becomes the first preseason No. 1 team since 1950 to lose six games in a season. It’s final loss came against a team that needed a bowl waiver just to get to the postseason.

It was going to be interesting to see how Wittek played since it appears he’s the future for USC at the quarterback spot, but the Sun Bowl turned into a disaster where little, if any, positives could be taken away for the Trojans.

Kiffin’s going to need a banner season in 2013 now more than ever. If he doesn’t, it will likely be his last in Los Angeles.

Spring football games schedule: Complete dates, times, TV options

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College football spring games? Certainly. Ready to watch? Probably (thanks to this spring football games schedule).

With the 2019 season fading into the rearview mirror, our attention has now turned to the 2020 campaign that, for now, seems far out on the horizon.  One of the first big steps in getting to next season, of course, is spring practice.  In most cases, those 15 spring practice sessions will culminate in some semblance of a spring game.

Below is a list of those college football spring games, complete with dates, times (Eastern) and, when appropriate, the television station on which they will be broadcast,

As of the initial posting, not all of the college football spring games and their dates have been released.  Some details, including times, are still to be determined as well.

This post will be updated as necessary throughout the next two months.

(Writer’s note: If any schools or fans of schools notice we’re missing already-available information, please shoot me the particulars at John.Taylor AT nbcuni.com)

March games

MARCH 5

Coastal Carolina, (other details to be determined)

MARCH 19

Arkansas State, 7:00 p.m.

MARCH 21

Charlotte, (other details to be determined)
San Diego State, 2:00 p.m.

MARCH 28

Western Michigan, (other details to be determined)
Tulane, 11:00 a.m.
San Jose State, 5:00 p.m.
Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Arizona)

April games

APRIL 3

Rice, (other details to be determined)
Buffalo, 3:00 p.m.
FIU, 6:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern, 7:30 p.m.
Georgia State, 7:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt, 8:00 p.m.

APRIL 4

Temple, (other details to be determined)
Troy, (other details to be determined)
Minnesota, noon
North Carolina State, 12:30 p.m.
Tulsa, 12:30 p.m.
South Carolina, 1:00 p.m. (SEC Network+)
UAB, 1:00 p.m.
Purdue, 2:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Clemson, 2:30 p.m.
UCF, 2:30 p.m.
Wake Forest, 3:00 p.m.
Louisiana-Monroe, 7:00 p.m.
Arizona, 8:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Arizona)

APRIL 9

Louisiana, (other details to be determined)

APRIL 10

Georgia Tech, (other details to be determined)
Cincinnati, 6:00
Texas Tech, 7:00 p.m.

APRIL 11

Cal, (other details to be determined)
Pitt, (ACC Network) (time to be determined)
Kentucky, noon (SEC Network+)
Ohio State, noon (Big Ten Network)
Mississippi State, 12:30 p.m.
Kent State, 1:00 p.m.
Utah, 1:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Mountain)
Auburn, 2:00 p.m.
Missouri, 2:00 p.m.
Eastern Michigan, 3:00 p.m.
USC, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Los Angeles)
Stanford, 4:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Bay Area)
Boise State, 5:30 p.m.

APRIL 17

Army, (other details to be determined)
Memphis, (other details to be determined)
Indiana, 7:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

APRIL 18

Ball State, (other details to be determined)
Baylor, (other details to be determined)
Florida, (other details to be determined)
Florida Atlantic, (other details to be determined)
Georgia, (other details to be determined)
Kansas, (other details to be determined)
Louisiana Tech, (other details to be determined)
LSU, (other details to be determined)
Oklahoma, (other details to be determined)
Texas A&M, (other details to be determined)
UCLA, (other details to be determined)
USF, (other details to be determined)
UTSA, (other details to be determined)
Akron, noon
Bowling Green, noon
Michigan, noon
SMU, noon
Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
West Virginia, 1:00 p.m.
Miami of Ohio, 1:30 p.m.
Penn State, 1:30 p.m. (FS1)
Alabama, 2:00 p.m.
Middle Tennessee State, 2:00 p.m.
Nebraska, 2:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
North Carolina, 3:00 p.m. (ACC Network)
Old Dominion, 3:00 p.m.
Oregon State, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Oregon)
Western Kentucky, 3:00 pm.
Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m.
Michigan State, 4 p.m.
Tennessee, 4:00 p.m.
Florida State, 5:00 p.m.
Oregon, 5:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Oregon)
Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m.

APRIL 25

Arkansas, (other details to be determined)
Nevada, (other details to be determined)
Texas, (other details to be determined)
UMass, (other details to be determined)
Southern Miss, 1:00 p.m.
Marshall, 2:00 p.m.
Colorado, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Mountain)
Washington State, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Washington)
Rutgers, 4:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Washington, 6:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Washington)

Minnesota hires ex-Michigan State DBs coach Paul Haynes as CBs coach

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In filling a hole on his Minnesota football coaching staff, P.J. Fleck turned to an assistant with recent Big Ten experience.  And head-coaching experience on top of that for good measure.

The Minnesota football program announced Monday the hiring of Paul Haynes.  Specifically, Haynes will serve as the Golden Gophers’ cornerbacks coach.

Haynes will replace Rod Chance, who left the Minnesota football program earlier this month to take the job as cornerbacks coach at Oregon.

The past two seasons, Haynes was the defensive backs coach at Michigan State in his second stint with the B1G school.  For the five years prior to that, the 51-year-old Ohio native was the head coach at Kent State.

In those five seasons, the Golden Flashes compiled a record of 14-45 overall and 9-30 in MAC play.  In November of 2017, Haynes was officially relieved of his duties.

In 2012, Haynes was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Arkansas.  From 2005-11, Haynes was on the staff at Ohio State.  After serving as defensive backs coach his first six seasons, Haynes was the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in 2011.

Haynes’ first stint at MSU came in 2003-04 as defensive backs coach.  The year prior to that, he served in the same job at Louisville.

New Year’s Day, Minnesota football capped off a historic season with an Outback Bowl upset of Auburn.  The 11 wins were the program’s most since they won 13 in 1904.  Minnesota’s only other seasons with 10 or more wins came in 1900, 1903, 1905 and 2003.

The hiring of Haynes completes a reshuffling of Fleck’s coaching staff.

Mel Tucker adds two more assistants to first Michigan State coaching staff

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Less than two weeks after his hiring, Mel Tucker‘s first Michigan State football coaching staff is nearly complete.

Monday, MSU confirmed that Tucker has added Ross Els and William Peaglerc to his Spartans staff.  Els will serve as special teams coordinator, Peagler as running backs coach.

Tucker is very familiar with both of his new hires.

Els was the inside linebackers coach at Colorado for the past three seasons.  During Tucker’s Boulder one-and-done, the 30-year coaching veteran added special teams coordinator to his linebacking duties.

In 2016, the 54-year-old Els was the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Purdue.  He also spent time on FBS staffs at:

  • Nebraska, linebackers coach/special teams coordinator/recruiting coordinator (2012-14)
  • Nebraska, linebackers coach (2011)
  • Ohio, assistant head coach/linebackers coach/special teams coordinator (2010)
  • Ohio, linebackers coach/special teams coordinator (2007-09)
  • Ohio, linebackers coach (2005-06)
  • New Mexico State, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2003-04)
  • New Mexico State, safeties/special teams coach (2001-02)

“Ross has been a Power 5 defensive coordinator and does an excellent job with special teams,” the new Michigan State football head coach said in a statement. “His attention to detail is outstanding and he’s a great teacher. He also develops great relationships with his players, which makes him a great recruiter as well. His experience will definitely help our staff.”

The 34-year-old Peagler, meanwhile, was the director of quality control for the offense last season at Colorado for Tucker last year.  The Clemson graduate has never been an on-field assistant at the collegiate level.

At Power Five programs, Peagler has served as a quality control assistant for offense at Minnesota (2016) and a graduate assistant at Georgia (2017).

“William has an excellent understanding of offensive concepts,” a statement on Peagler from the Michigan State football coach began. “He really gets it. He also has experience working with (offensive coordinator) Jay Johnson, and has been at some high-level programs, including Clemson and Georgia. He’s a multi-talented coach and I think he is a rising star.”

With the hirings of Peagler and Els, Tucker has officially added nine of his 10 on-field assistants.

The weekend before last, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained.  Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.  Last Wednesday, former first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver Courtney Hawkins returned to East Lansing to coach the same position he played for the Spartans.  A day laterJay Johnson was confirmed as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and Harlon Barnett was brought back as defensive backs coach.  A day after that, Tucker pried Ted Gilmore away from Wisconsin to serve as MSU’s tight ends coach.

Nick Saban issues statement as Georgia confirms hiring of Alabama’s strength coach as special teams coordinator

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Kirby Smart‘s poaching of one of Nick Saban‘s longtime Alabama Crimson Tide lieutenants is officially official.

Earlier Monday, reports surfaced that had Scott Cochran leaving as Alabama’s strength & conditioning coach for an on-field job at Georgia.   A short time later, Nick Saban issued a statement confirming that Cochran had left the program after a baker’s dozen seasons.

“We appreciate Scott’s contribution to our organization over the last 13 years,” the Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach stated. “We can’t thank him enough for his service and dedication to our program, and his commitment to our players. He is taking his career in a new direction, and we wish Scott, Cissy and the kids the best. As we do with every position that opens here, we will go out and hire the best person to lead our strength and conditioning program and help our players maximize the resources available in our new sports science facility.”

Shortly thereafter, Georgia also confirmed that Smart has tapped the Alabama Crimson Tide assistant as its special teams coordinator.

As noted in UGA’s release, Cochran was on Saban’s staff for all six of his national titles, as he served as an assistant strength coach at LSU in 2003. Smart and Cochran both began their Alabama Crimson Tide careers in 2007 and spent nine years together before Smart left to take his current position in Athens.

“Ask anyone who’s been around him, Scott’s passion and energy is contagious,” said the coach in a statement. “Special Teams Coordinator is a great fit as he’ll be working with all position groups. His knowledge and experience elevates our entire program, and we’re excited to welcome the Cochran family to Athens.”

This will mark Cochran’s first-ever on-field job at any level of the sport.  Cochran, incidentally, graduated from LSU.