Injury to keep Michigan State starting OL out indefintiely

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Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio will not say much about an injury to offensive lineman Connor Kruse, but we do know it is not of the season-ending variety. That is about as much as you will get out of the Spartans head coach.

“Connor did well, he was injured a little bit,” Dantonio said following Monday’s practice, according to MLive.com‘s Mike Griffith. “We don’t talk about the injuries if they aren’t season ending, and it’s not season ending.”

Kruse is Michigan State’s starting right guard, which has caused Dantonio to move some pieces around the offensive line as the season is getting ready to commence. Per Griffith, Michigan State has moved Donovan Clark from right tackle to right guard, while redshirt sophomore Kodi Kieler will take over at right tackle. The Spartans have also moved defensive tackle Brandon Clemons over to offensive guard for some padded depth.

How long will this offensive line have to work with these adjustments? That remains unknown, but the need to move pieces around may suggest we will be talking about more than one game with the season starting next week.

Utah State re-hires Gary Andersen as head coach

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One of the enduring lessons of the 2018-19 coaching cycle is that you can always go home again. After Mack Brown returned to North CarolinaGary Andersen is going back to Utah State.

The Aggies announced their former head coach as their current head coach on Sunday evening. The coach who proceeded Matt Wells will also be the coach who succeeds Matt Wells.

“Stacey and I are thrilled to be back at Utah State University,” Andersen said in a statement. “This is a special place and we are excited to meet these young men and play a part in seeing them succeed off and on the field academically, socially and athletically. We are grateful to reconnect with many great friends and supporters in Logan and want to thank (AD) John Hartwell and President (Noelle) Cockett for the opportunity. Go Aggies!”

A Salt Lake City native and a Utah graduate, Andersen took over at Utah State in 2009. At the time one of the most moribund programs in college football, Andersen took the Aggies to a 7-6 record and a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl appearance in his third season, then a school-best 11-2 mark with a Mountain West championship, a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win and an AP No. 16 finish in 2012.

That success led him to Wisconsin, where he went 20-7 in two seasons but was not a culture fit, and then to Oregon State, where he left the school with a 7-23 record in two and a half seasons.

He spent 2018 down the road as Kyle Whittingham‘s assistant head coach, and will now make the 80-mile drive north back to Logan.

“We welcome Gary and Stacey and their family back to the Utah State family,” said Hartwell. “His care-factor for his players, coupled with his recruiting philosophy and plan to win, are keys to the continued success of Aggie football. His knowledge of the state of Utah and our program are unparalleled and we feel those attributes will greatly aid in the continued growth and success of Aggie football.”

Andersen takes over a program in much better shape than he first found it. Though Wells has taken the bulk of the staff with him to Texas Tech, he inherits a team coming off a 10-2 season that won a share of the Mountain West’s Mountain Division championship.

Mack Brown hires Army’s Jay Bateman as defensive coordinator

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Mack Brown 2.0 has his defensive coordinator hire, and it’s a good one.

North Carolina on Sunday announced Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman as the Heels’ new defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

“Jay Bateman is an outstanding football coach and I’m thrilled he is joining our staff,” Brown said in a statement. “He is a great teacher of the game, a brilliant defensive play caller, and an excellent recruiter with many ties to North Carolina and this region, including strong relationships with North Carolina high school coaches. Sally and I are excited to welcome Jay, Heather and their two children to the Carolina football family.”

Bateman spent the past five seasons as the Black Knights’ defensive coordinator, helping engineer one of the most impressive turnarounds of the decade. Army has ranked among the top 10 nationally in total defense in two of the past three seasons.

(It should be noted that Bateman’s units benefit heavily from the triple option offense, which Brown is unlikely to duplicate. Army has defended 615 plays this season, 85 fewest than the next-closest team that has played 12 games this year. In fact, Army is 57 plays ahead of Southern Miss, who finished its year playing only 11 games. On a yards per play basis, Bateman’s defense is tied for 69th.)

Bateman spent 2006-10 as the defensive coordinator at Elon and has been such a recruiting mainstay on Tobacco Road that he was considered an early candidate for the Charlotte head coaching job.

With the hire, Tommy Thigpen will now shift from co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach to linebackers coach.

Matt Campbell signs contract extension at Iowa State

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Now that we know Matt Campbell will not succeed Urban Meyer as Ohio State’s next head coach, Iowa State is getting down to business of keeping the 39-year-old in Ames for as long as possible.

Campbell signed a new 6-year, $22.5 million contract after last season’s 8-5 campaign that saw Iowa State register wins over then-No. 3 Oklahoma and then-No. 4 TCU, but the school wasn’t done investing in him.

On Sunday, Iowa State announced Campbell has signed an extension keeping him in Cyclone colors through 2024. While this extension doesn’t include a raise for Campbell — last year’s deal boosted his salary from $2.1 million to $3.5 million immediately — it does carry an additional $1 million for his assistants.

In addition to the $1 million Iowa State also committed last year, the school has now committed an extra $3.4 million annually to keeping Campbell and his assistants over the past 13 months.

“Coach Campbell and I had a great end-of-the-year meeting Friday and during our visit we mutually agreed to extend his contract to 2024 and further demonstrate Coach Campbell and the University’s commitment to one another,” Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for our current players, fans and recruits to receive this great news.”

Iowa State’s assistant pool was $2.982 million in 2018 according to the USA Today salary database, putting the Cyclones 49th in the country. Adding another million would boost the Cyclones to 27th, based on 2018 figures.

Ranked No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff poll, Iowa State concluded the regular season at 8-4 and in third place in the Big 12. The Cyclones’ six conference wins are the most in the program’s 23-year history of Big 12 membership, and this year’s club was the closest Iowa State team to reaching the Big 12 Championship since the 2005 team that came within a game from winning their first (and only) Big 12 North title.

The Cyclones will finish Campbell’s third season against No. 13 Washington State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28.

Alabama flips 5-star safety from Michigan

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Tua Tagovailoa may have come in second in the Heisman race, but Saturday was still a winning night for Alabama.

While he was in New York with his quarterback, Nick Saban‘s recruiting machine was still humming at full capacity as the Crimson Tide managed to flip 5-star safety Dax Hill from Michigan.

A Tulsa native and the younger brother of Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill, Hill is the No. 8 overall player and the top safety in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

“This was a tough decision for me and my family but I have decided to de-commit from the University of Michigan and flip my commitment to the University of Alabama!!” Hill wrote in a Twitter post.

With Hill’s commitment, Alabama’s 24-man class has increased its lead for the No. 1 ranking in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. Alabama has a 25-point lead over Texas A&M for the top spot with a week and a half before the early signing period.

Hill’s loss means Michigan’s 23-man class now ranks 11th nationally and second in the Big Ten.