Who’s the Coach of the Year?

31 Comments

There’s been a lot of great coaching jobs in 2013. Here’s a look at the top five contenders for national Coach of the Year honors:

1. Gus Malzahn, Auburn — At 9-1, the Tigers have already won as many games this season as they lost last season, when they finished 3-9. Malzahn has turned Auburn around in his first year on the Plains despite starting a junior college transfer at quarterback and a bevy of freshmen on defense. Few thought it was possible, but when the Tigers take on Alabama, it will likely be for the SEC West title.

2. David Cutcliffe, Duke — The Blue Devils will be going to a bowl game for their second-consecutive season, the first time that’s happened in school history. And, at 7-2, Duke has a chance to win nine games for the first time since 1941. It’s a remarkable job by Cutcliffe, who has won more games in his six seasons at Duke than the previous coaches before him won in 13.

3. Art Briles, Baylor — Before the season, there were some who thought Baylor was a dark horse contender for the Big 12 title. Hardly anyone thought the Bears would be ranked fourth in the nation heading into the second week of November. That’s the highest ranking for Baylor since 1953. The offense is one of the most prolific in the history of college football and Briles is its mastermind. If he gets through the season unscathed, he might be at the top of this list.

4. Gary Pinkel, Missouri — Missouri was picked by the media to finish next to last in the SEC East, but the Tigers are the favorite in that division heading into the home stretch of the season. The Tigers have done much of this despite playing a backup redshirt freshman quarterback. Less than two seasons after switching over from the Big 12, Pinkel has made sure that Mizzou is no afterthought in the SEC.

5. Urban Meyer, Ohio State — Winning 21 games in a row has to count for something. Ohio State came into the season with inexperience in its front seven on defense and then faced adversity when quarterback Braxton Miller went down for three games with an injury. But Meyer overcame those challenges and has his team playing at a very high level. There’s a good chance the Buckeyes end the season on a 25-game win streak.

Honorable mention: Curtis Johnson, Tulane; Nick Saban, Alabama; Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State; George O’Leary, UCF; Rod Carey, Northern Illinois

Starting Nevada safety transfers to BYU

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nevada’s secondary loss will turn into BYU’s gain.

In early December, it was reported that Nephi Sewell will be transferring from Nevada.  Less than two weeks later, Sewell took to Twitter over the weekend to announce that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at BYU.

The move serves as a homecoming for Sewell as the defensive back played his high school football in the state of Utah.

As a sophomore this season, Sewell started all 10 games in which he played after starting eight games in 2017. His 53 tackles in 2018 were good for sixth on the team.

Sewell’s older brother, Gabe Sewell, is a junior linebacker for Nevada and currently leads the Wolf Pack in tackles with 85.  His younger brother, Penei Sewell, is a freshman offensive lineman at Oregon.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen adds fourth national trophy honor

Getty Images
Leave a comment

When it’s all said and done, Josh Allen is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet — or at least significantly expand his current one.

Monday, it was announced that the Kentucky senior was named as the 2018 recipient of the Jack Lambert Award. That trophy is handed out annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (OH) and given to the national linebacker of the year.

Previously this awards season, Allen had been named as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award (HERE) and Chuck Bednarik Award (HERE) as well as the recipient of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (HERE). He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors.

Allen’s 14 sacks this season set the football program’s single-season record, while his 28.5 career sacks are the most ever for a member of the Wildcats.

Utah State OC Troy Taylor named head coach at FCS Sacramento State

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the second time since the 2018 regular season came to an end, Kyle Whittingham has seen one of his assistant coaches leave for a head-coaching job.

Exactly a week ago, Utah State announced that Utah associate head coach Gary Andersen was returning to again lead the Aggies.  Monday, Sacramento State announced that Troy Taylor has been hired as the FCS program’s next head football coach.

Taylor, who spent two seasons as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator, was the starting quarterback at Cal in the late eighties after playing his high school football in the state of California.  He also began his coaching career at the high school level near Sacramento.

“I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State,” Taylor said in a statement. “My family and I are excited to move back home and take on the challenge of building the Hornet Football program into something the city can be very proud. I want to thank President Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity.”

With bowl season left, Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and 67th nationally in scoring 28.7 points per game.  In Taylor’s first season in charge of the offense, they averaged 29.5 ppg.

Whittingham has already replaced Andersen with former Ute football player Sione Po’uha.

Nick Saban says Tua Tagovailoa ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in recovery from ankle surgery

Getty Images
2 Comments

One of the biggest storylines leading into the 2018 College Football Playoff is the health of this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up.  With Alabama’s date with Oklahoma less than two weeks away, the signs are pointing in a positive direction for Tua Tagovailoa.

The sophomore quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Georgia two weeks ago and underwent surgery shortly thereafter to help aid the healing process.  Monday, Nick Saban sounded decidedly optimistic in giving an update on the status of his starter, who has participated at least partly in all four of the Crimson Tide’s practice session since the title game.

“He’s doing well,” the head coach said by way of ESPN.com. “I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run. …

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

Tagovailoa had been bothered by knee issues for a sizable chunk of the regular season before hurting his left ankle earlier this month.

Top-ranked Alabama will face Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, which this season is serving as one of the two playoff semifinals.  The winner of that game will face the Notre Dame-Clemson in the national championship game next month.