CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 24 Boise State

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2013 record: 8-5 overall, 6-2 in Mountain West (2nd in Mountain division/tied 3rd in conference)
2013 postseason: Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl vs. Oregon State Beavers  (38-23 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: Not ranked
Head coach: Bryan Harsin (7-5 overall; first season at Boise State)
Offensive coordinator: Mike Sanford (first season)
2013 offensive rankings: 33rd rushing offense (198.3 ypg); 27th passing offense (277.7 ypg); 20th total offense (476 ypg); 19th scoring offense (37.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: seven
Defensive coordinator: Marcel Yates (first season)
2013 defensive rankings: 64th rushing defense (164.2 ypg); 88th passing defense (249.2 ypg);  75th total defense (413.4 ypg); 50th scoring defense (24.8 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: eight
Location: Boise, Idaho
Stadium: Albertsons Stadium (36,387; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2012

THE GOOD
The Broncos’ skill positions are talented and athletic. Quarterback Grant Hedrick returns at the team’s starting quarterback. Hedrick played in all 13 games last year and threw 16 touchdowns compared to five interceptions. Hedrick is rejoined in the backfield by running back Jay Ajayi. Ajayi finished second in the Mountain West Conference last year with 1,425 rushing yards. And the team’s top two receivers from last season, Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes, are also back. Miller finished last year strong with 540 receiving yards in the final four games, including a 206-yard effort against the Oregon State Beavers in the Hawai’i Bowl. The Broncos had to reshuffle their offensive line in the off season, but if they can keep Hendrick upright the Broncos will be able to score plenty of points.

THE BAD
During Chris Petersen’s eight-year tenure as head coach, last season’s defense was by far the worst unit statistically. On top of that, the unit lost a dynamic pass rusher in DeMarcus Lawrence to the NFL. And key pieces such as Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe, Kharyee Marshall and Tyler Gray left after exhausting their eligibility. Last year’s group had to grow after returning four starters from the 2012 campaign. The silver lining to last year’s defensive struggles is this year’s unit is far more experienced entering the season. New defensive coordinator Marcel Yates has eight returning starters. Yates returns to Boise State after a two-year stint as Texas A&M’s co-defensive coordinator. The Aggies finished 109th in total defense last season.

THE UNKNOWN
Boise State has a new football coach for the first time since 2006. Now that Petersen finally accepted one of the rumored jobs he was so often linked to — in this case, the Unversity of Washington — the school turned toward one of its prodigal sons, Bryan Harsin. Harsin, a graduate of Boise State, served on the Broncos’ staff from 2001-10 before leaving to become the offensive coordinator at the University Texas. Harsin used Texas as a stepping stone to get his first head coaching gig at Arkansas State. Harsin spent one year leading the Red Wolves, and the team finished 7-5. Harsin is a young coach that hasn’t had much time to establish himself or an identity, and Boise State took a chance in hiring him. If Harsin blossoms like Petersen did when given the opportunity, the Broncos will continue to be successful. Otherwise, a step back will take the program out of the national spotlight.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Ole Miss, Aug. 28
The Broncos built their reputation over the past decade by stepping up big in spotlight games. For most teams, the first game of the season usually isn’t considered a “must win” contest. Most teams aren’t in the Broncos’ situation. For the Broncos to return to national prominence, they’ll need to prove they can beat a talented SEC squad during a national televised game to start the season.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: running back Jay Ajayi
It’s been five years since a running back won the Heisman Trophy, and only two workhorses have been handed the hardware since the turn of the century. In a sport that is consistently more about spreading defenses and throwing the football, elite running backs tend to get overlooked. Ajayi, however, is a dark horse candidate to win the award due to a nose for the end zone and punishing running style. The 216-pound back is the nation’s fifth-leading returning rusher with 1,425 yards in 2013. Ajayi is also tied for first among returning backs with 18 rushing touchdowns. Boise State has multiple games slotted in prime time. If Ajayi shines in the spotlight and the Broncos make another run toward a major bowl appearance, Ajayi could work his way into legitimate Heisman contention.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Report: Nick Saban to stay in-house, promote Dan Enos to OC

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And for his fifth offensive coordinator since the beginning of the 2016 season, it appears Nick Saban will stay in-house.

Exactly one week ago, Maryland announced that Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley had been named as the Terrapins’ next head football coach.  While Locksley will remain with the Crimson Tide through the playoffs, Saban has apparently gone about the business of replacing him as FootballScoop.com is reporting that Dan Enos will be the team’s coordinator moving forward.

Enos spent the 2018 season, his first in Tuscaloosa, as the Tide’s quarterbacks coach.  He also carries the title of associate head coach.

Enos, who was a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles, was the head coach at Central Michigan for five seasons (2010-14).  After posting a 26-36 record with the Chippewas, which included a 7-6 mark in 2015, Enos abruptly left the MAC school to take the offensive coordinator job at Arkansas in January of 2015.  With Bret Bielema fired shortly after the end of the 2017 season, the 50-year-old Enos took a job on Jim Harbaugh‘s coaching staff in early January of this year… only to leave less than three weeks later for Alabama.

The coordinator job at Arkansas was Enos’ first at the FBS level.  And, as previously noted, Enos would be Saban’s fifth coordinator in less than three full seasons.

One week before the national championship game for the 2016 season, and after he was initially expected to remain in his job through the playoffs, it was announced that Lane Kiffin would be leaving Alabama for the head-coaching job at Florida Atlantic, effective immediately.  Kiffin was replaced by Steve Sarkisian, who called plays in the title game but then left a month later for a job in the NFL.  Brian Daboll replaced Sarkisian and lasted one season coordinating the Tide’s offense before he too left for the NFL.  Daboll remained with the Tide through their playoff run last season.

Tim Brown’s 1987 Heisman fetches record price at auction

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Tim Brown has registered another entry on his record-setting résumé, albeit indirectly.

Last month, it was reported that Brown’s 1987 Heisman Trophy, which he sold to a private collector a year ago, would be going up for auction.  After online bidding began on Nov. 19 and closed Dec. 5, Sports Collectors Daily has reported that the stiff-armed trophy won by the former Notre Dame wide receiver sold for $435,763 over the weekend.

It’s believed it’s the highest amount ever paid for a Heisman.

“We believe this is one of the most significant trophies to ever be offered at auction and collectors agreed as the bidding was fierce,” said Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions. “It’s rare when a Heisman becomes available and even more unusual for it to be from an NFL Hall of Famer who played at the most storied college football program.”

Earlier this year, the Heisman Trophy of the late Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam sold for nearly $400,000, a record number for such an award at the time.

The family of Yale running back Clint Frank sold his 1937 trophy in October of this year for $317,000.  O.J. Simpson’s 1968 Trophy sold for $255,000 in 1999, while another former USC running back, Charles White, sold his Heisman for $184,000 in 2000.

Beginning in 1999, winners of the Heisman Trophy have been barred from selling their trophies by the trust that oversees the honor.

Report: Butch Jones leaving Alabama for job at Maryland

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College Park is taking on a decidedly Tuscaloosa feel to it.

Earlier this month, Maryland confirmed that it had hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its next head football coach.  Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, 247Sports.com is now reporting that Butch Jones is leaving Nick Saban‘s program for a spot on Locksley’s Terrapins coaching staff.

Jones, who met with Locksley earlier this month before agreeing to take the job, is expected to serve as the Terps’ tight ends coach.  He’ll also carry the title of associate head coach for the Big Ten program.

In March of this year, Saban added Jones to his Alabama football staff as an offensive analyst.  Jones, of course, was the head coach at rival Tennessee for nearly five seasons before he was summarily dismissed in mid-November of last year.

Jones last served as a tight ends coach in 1998 at Central Michigan; he was last a position coach at West Virginia (2005-06).

Per the terms of his UT contract, Jones will be paid just north of $8 million in the form of a buyout, minus whatever he was to make at future jobs through February of 2021.  He made $35,000 as an analyst at Alabama this year.

Ex-Texas Tech lineman Justin Murphy gets sixth season at UCLA

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After originally ending his collegiate career prematurely, Justin Murphy has now seen it extended.

Murphy took to Twitter on Monday to announce that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. “None of this could’ve been possible if it weren’t for the amazing job done by [UCLA’s compliance department],” the offensive lineman wrote.

In the middle of the 2016 season, Murphy, then at Texas Tech, announced that he was taking a medical retirement because of knee injuries.  In April of 2018, however, Murphy revealed that he would be moving on from Tech to UCLA as a graduate transfer.

Murphy played in the first four games of his first season with the Bruins this year before going down with a knee injury.  That issue kept the lineman sidelined for all but the final two games of the year.