USC has reportedly interviewed Lovie Smith for coaching vacancy

11 Comments

Back in mid-October, speculation surfaced that Lovie Smith had interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at USC.

While Smith’s agent, who also happens to be his son, denied it at the time, the speculation has resurfaced.

Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com is reporting that Smith has already interviewed with the Trojans about becoming the permanent replacement for Lane Kiffin, who was fired in late September after three-plus seasons at the school.  La Canfora did not specify when the interview took place.

While Smith is mainly known for his time in the NFL, he does have extensive collegiate experience, albeit none this millenium.  Smith’s last post at the collegiate level came in 1995 as defensive backs coach at Ohio State.  He also has stops at Tennessee (1993-94), Kentucky (1992), Arizona State (1988-91), Wisconsin (1987) and Tulsa (1983-86) on his coaching résumé.

Smith was fired by the Chicago Bears as its head coach in December of last year and has spent the 2013 season on the coaching sidelines.  It’s highly unlikely that will be the case in 2014 as Smith is expected to be in high demand, especially by NFL teams that will be in search of a new head coach in the next month or two.

Steve Sarkisian, a former Trojan assistant under Pete Carroll, has also been mentioned as a viable (betting) possibility for the USC opening.  On that front, La Canfora writes “[s]ources said that… Sarkisian was well positioned to land that position, though a recent three-game losing streak may have cooled his star some.”  It’s highly doubtful, however, that, if Sarkisian is one of Pat Haden‘s target, the athletic director would allow a three-game losing streak to change an opinion that’s likely been formed on the totality of the Washington head coach’s work and what he could bring to the football program.

Not so unexpectedly, Sarkisian, at least publicly, denied any interest in the job when it first surfaced.

Of course, any report on a coaching search, whether it be at the collegiate or professional, would be incomplete without the requisite mention of Jon Gruden.  According to La Canfora, USC “would ideally love to land” Gruden, but the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders head coach is expected to either stay in the broadcast booth or return to coaching at the NFL level.

UPDATED 10:46 a.m. ET: Matt Smith, Lovie Smith’s agent and son, tweeted the following shortly after La Canfora’s report surfaced.

“I guess unnamed sources have a better grasp of things than I do!!”

Take all of this for what it’s worth.

UPDATED 1:01 p.m. ET: The denials continue to flow like its Egypt, with Jay Glazer writing via Twitter a short time ago that he “[j]ust heard from Lovie Smith who was taken aback by report he interviewed for USC. Says absolutely did not and has zero interest.”

Ohio State led nation for total fan attendance in 2017, Michigan tops in average attendance at home

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In some not exactly breaking news, there are a lot of Ohio State fans out there. Not to be left out, their rivals to the North have quite a few people following the team in maize and blue too.

The National Football Foundation released an interesting set of facts and figures last week that was designed to call attention to just how popular the sport of college football is across the country. The whole list is worth a look if you’re interested in all the little details about the 2017 season but a few of the big highlights are:

  • Ohio State led the nation for total fan attendance, attracting 1,254,160 spectators to all of their games in 2017, including home, away, neutral and postseason tilts. Eleven other teams eclipsed the million mark in 2017: Georgia (1,246,201), Alabama (1,228,376), Auburn, Penn State, Michigan, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson and Texas.
  • Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 111,589 fans per home game in 2017. Three other schools also averaged more than 100,000 fans per game: Ohio State (107,495), Penn State (106,707) and Alabama (101,722). The Wolverines have led the nation in home attendance for 41 of the past 43 seasons.
  • The SEC led all FBS conferences in attendance for the 20th straight year, averaging 75,074 fans per game or a total of 7,357,228 in 2017, followed by the Big Ten (66,227), Big 12 (56,852), Pac-12 (49,601) and the ACC (48,442).
  • The overall attendance for NCAA football games across all divisions (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III) drew 47,622,196 fans at home games, neutral-site games and postseason games in 2017. The number represents a 3.3 percent drop from the 2016 season.

There’s a bunch more in there from the NFF on everything from TV ratings to fan interest and a bunch of other nuggets. Needless to say, college football is pretty popular around the country and we at CFTalk certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

LB Andrew Ward becomes latest Nebraska player to announce plans to transfer out

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everybody figured that Scott Frost’s arrival with a new way of doing things in Lincoln would prompt a few transfers out of the program but the latest name to leave Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball as linebacker Andrew Ward became the latest name to announce a transfer after just a year with the Cornhuskers.

As Ward mentions in his post, he was originally recruited to the school by the prior coaching staff under Mike Riley. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017 and seemed to fall down the pecking order at his position during spring practice. Originally from Michigan, the linebacker was rated as a three-star coming out of high school according to 247Sports and held offers from Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.

Ward adds to the growing list of roster turnover this offseason for the Cornhuskers. Also on Saturday it was confirmed that center Michael Decker was retiring from football, while wideout Kenyan Williams, fullback Ben Miles, quarterback Patrick O’Brien, and receiver Zack Darlington all announced intentions to leave the program.

Former Alabama OL Dallas Warmack confirms graduate transfer to Oregon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Reunited and it feels so good.

At least, that’s what Mario Cristobal must be feeling after hearing the good news on Saturday that former Alabama offensive lineman Dallas Warmack had committed to Oregon and would be rejoining his old offensive line coach in Eugene.

Warmack appeared in 16 games during his career with the Crimson Tide but couldn’t crack the rotation in 2017. A former top recruit and U.S. Army All-American as a prep, he will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Ducks and figures to solidify an offensive line that could be among the best in the conference with four players returning with starting experience.

If that last name and Alabama connection sounds familiar, you’d be correct in thinking that Warmack is the younger brother of Chance Warmack — a former top 10 pick who recently won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles this past season. Cristobal, who is now Oregon’s head coach, was on the staff in Tuscaloosa when the younger Warmack was originally recruited to the school.

1959 Heisman Trophy winner, LSU legend Billy Cannon passes away at 80

Getty Images
1 Comment

One of the best players to ever put on an LSU football uniform has passed away as the school confirmed that legendary Tigers star and the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon died on Sunday morning at the age of 80.

Cannon was well known for his versatility on the gridiron, playing halfback, fullback, tight end, defensive back and as a return man over the years. His electrifying 89–yard punt return for a touchdown in the final minutes win over No. 3 Ole Miss on Halloween is widely regarded as one of the biggest plays in LSU history and played a key role in him winning the 1959 Heisman Trophy.  He had powered the Tigers to the national title the year prior as part of a storied undefeated run that was capped off by a win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl where Cannon scored the game’s only points.

After his college career, Cannon was selected as the first overall pick in both the 1960 NFL and AFL Drafts and played professionally for the Houston Oilers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. He was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975 and the the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

A mainstay at games and practices in Baton Rouge over the years, Cannon later became a dentist in the area and eventually had his No. 20 retired by LSU.