SMU’s plan to find a new head coach

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June Jones stepped down as SMU’s head football coach on Sept. 8. A month later, Rick Hart detailed the university’s plan to replace Jones.

Hart wrote a letter to the Mustangs’ fan base, which was published Wednesday on the school’s official website.

Here are the pertinent excerpts to the school’s four-point plan to find a new head coach:

First, we have engaged Todd Turner, President and Founder of Collegiate Sports Associates and former AD at UConn, NC State, Vanderbilt and Washington, to assist us with certain aspects of the search process. … He will make initial contact with targeted coaches, assessing potential interest and fit for the position, as well as helping with background checks and other processes.

Second, the Board of Trustees Athletics Committee will serve a valuable role as the primary advisory group as we prepare to identify and recruit the next head football coach at SMU. The Athletics Committee met on Monday to refine and confirm certain elements of the process, such as our case statement, position description and head coach profile. They also provided feedback regarding our expectations in key areas, such as academics, civility, competitiveness, and recruiting.

Third, we are seeking input from constituents beyond members of the Athletics Committee, such as the Athletics Council, Circle of Champions, Mustang Club Board, Lettermen’s Association (and former football players), Deans, the Texas High School Coaches’ Association, Ticket Holders and Student-Athletes. We want to make sure we are informed as we prepare to identify specific candidates.

Finally, a small search committee has been formed consisting of representatives from the Board of Trustees, Athletics Committee, Athletics Council, Faculty and Athletics Department leadership. This group will work with me to evaluate candidates and determine our top targets in alignment with our agreed-upon profile and standards shaped by our interactions with the various stakeholders and access to data as outlined herein.

Hart also designated this month as the prime opportunity to identify potential candidates and reach out to them if an opportunity presents itself. The athletic director didn’t provide a timetable for when a hire could actually occur.

There shouldn’t be a shortage of candidates, though.

The program reportedly called former Texas head coach Mack Brown, while Brown considers whether or not he wants to return to coaching. Former Ole Miss (and Arkansas and Boise State) head coach Houston Nutt is also interested. Former Texas offensive coordinator and quarterback Major Applewhite already applied for the position. And a new name has been linked to the program:

Morris is a legend in the state of Texas after coaching at the high school level for 16 years with a 169-38 record and back-to-back undefeated state championships.

Morris is now one of college football’s highest paid coordinators, and one of the top assistants primed for a head coaching job. Clemson’s offensive coordinator refrained from taking any other positions in recent years, but a return to his home state could be exactly the type of situation Morris is searching for.

SMU could also be used as a stepping stone for a coach like Morris, who doesn’t have head coaching experience at the major college level but still has goals of leading a top program.

It won’t hurt Hart to call and gauge Morris’ interest. The worst that can happen is the talented offensive coordinator decides he’s not interested.

Mike Gundy says AD ‘was very apologetic’ after recruiting criticisms

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I guess you can chalk this up to much ado about (mostly) nothing.

In a mid-June interview, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder seemed to take a shot at his head football coach’s recruiting prowess, saying he “wants to finish higher in those… rankings than we consistently do.” After not saying much publicly since, Mike Gundy seemed to stoke that fire a little further during the Big 12 Media Days Tuesday by tersely declining to answer a question posed to him about that situation.

Not long after he was away from the podium, however, Gundy completely diffused any type of lingering issues over the comments.

“I knew what he was trying to say,” Gundy said by way of ESPN.com. “He just didn’t do a good job of getting the information out there. That’s the same thing I told him. He was very apologetic. I said, ‘Coach, I know exactly what you were trying to accomplish. You don’t have to worry about me.’

“It’s difficult to say the right thing all the time.”

Gundy added that Holder “just doesn’t have a way of saying things that fit in the society today where people understand. He’s just very, for a lack of a better term, old-school in his approach.”

The 69-year-old Holder — he’ll turn 70 in mid-August — has been the AD at OSU since 2005.  That was the same year Gundy took over as the head football coach at his alma mater.  In those 13 seasons, Gundy has led the Cowboys to a 114-53 record overall and a 69-42 mark in Big 12 play.

On June 13, it was announced that Gundy had reached an agreement on a new contract that would keep him in Stillwater through the 2023 season.  Nine days later, it was announced that Holder was on the receiving end of a contract extension through the 2021 season.

WR Brandon Martin no longer listed on Arkansas’ roster

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There’s been yet another personnel change at a Power Five school a couple of weeks before summer camp kicks off.

In an update released earlier this week, Brandon Martin is no longer listed on Arkansas’ roster. Citing sources close to the program, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes that the wide receiver “has run into an academic issue and is trying to regain his eligibility.”

Per a school spokesperson, however, the door has been left open for Martin, who would be a redshirt junior this season, to eventually return to the Razorbacks football team. Martin’s head coach, though, doesn’t seem as optimistic.

Don’t know if he will become part of our roster again,” Chad Morris said at the SEC Media Days Tuesday. “I don’t know at this point. ..

“I do not see that happening right now,” the head coach added when asked if he could see the receiver rejoining the team this year.

Martin came to Arkansas from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, rated as the No. 1 junior college receiver in the Class of 2017 and the No. 7 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings.

In his first year in Fayetteville, Martin caught nine passes for 119 yards. Both of those totals were eighth on the Razorbacks, while his 13.2 yards per reception was sixth on the team.

CFB Hall of Fame Texas Tech defensive tackle Gabe Rivera, dubbed Señor Sack, passes away

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Former Texas Tech defensive tackle Gabe Rivera passed away on Tuesday. He suffered a perforated bowel while attending a social services function on Friday night and his family was preparing to move him to hospice care when he passed on Tuesday morning. “Gabriel went home to the Lord at 9:25,” Rivera’s wife, Nancy, told KENS-TV in San Antonio.

A San Antonio native, Rivera played defensive tackle at Texas Tech from 1979-82, where he earned All-American status after recording 62 tackles and five sacks as a senior. “He was one of the most dominating defensive lineman to ever play the game and a loyal Red Raider throughout his life,” Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement.

Selected 21st overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1983, Rivera, dubbed “Señor Sack,” recorded two sacks in his first six games, but was left paraplegic after getting in an automobile crash in October.

“From the accident in ‘83, it took maybe five, six, eight years to get control,” Rivera said in 2012. “At one time, I just changed my life and started going forward. I was mad at the world, mad at God and stuff.”

He moved home to San Antonio after the injury, where he remained and raised a family until his death. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and Texas Tech’s Ring of Honor and had his No. 69 jersey retired in 2014.

Rivera was 57 years old.

Northern Illinois, Miami (Ohio) to play for Mallory Cup

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The Mid-American Conference has a proud history of fostering future College Football Hall of Fame coaches. From legends such as Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler to modern day titans such as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, the MAC has served as the launching pad of coaching greatness for generations. But despite all that talent, only one coach won the MAC at two different schools: Bill Mallory.

Mallory went 39-12 as Miami (Ohio)’s head coach from 1969-73 — he took over for Schembechler, who left for the Michigan job — and led the RedHawks to a perfect 11-0 season, a No. 15 final AP ranking and a win over Florida in the Tangerine Bowl in ’73. That success led him to Colorado, but he was let go after the 1978 season. After sitting out the ’79 campaign, Mallory got back in at Northern Illinois, guiding the Huskies to a 25-19 mark from 1980-83. His 1983 team went 10-2, beat Cal State Fullerton in the California Bowl and won the Huskies’ first of four MAC titles.

Mallory parlayed that 1983 season into the Indiana job, where he remained until his 1996 retirement. In 27 years as a head coach, Mallory went 168-129-4, including a 64-31 record in nine combined seasons in the MAC.

To honor his May 25 passing, Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) announced Monday they will play for the Mallory Cup moving forward. The first such game will take place on Nov. 14 in DeKalb, Ill.

“Bill Mallory was a special coach and a great man who left a lasting legacy in the Mid-American Conference and certainly at NIU and Miami,” NIU AD Sean Frazier said.  “The Mallory Cup honors a man whose impact on both programs should and will be remembered each time our teams meet on the football field.  We’re happy to work with our colleagues at Miami on this initiative and invite all fans to be here at Huskie Stadium on November 14 for the first Mallory Cup game.”

“Miami is proud to partner with Northern Illinois University in the creation of the Mallory Cup,” added Miami AD David Sayler. “It is a fitting tribute to a wonderful man and coach that has meant so much too so many. Although Miami and NIU will not play every year in football, it is good to know that when we do, Bill Mallory will be honored and remembered for the tremendous legacy he has left here in Oxford and in DeKalb.”

The Huskies and RedHawks have played 17 times in a series that dates back to 1970. NIU holds a 9-8 advantage; Miami won seven of the first nine meetings, but Northern Illinois has taken seven of the last eight, including the most recent match-up by way of a 45-12 decision on Oct. 17, 2015.