Does Wisconsin have a coaching problem?

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For the second time in three years, Wisconsin is looking for a new head coach after losing its head coach to another power conference program stuck in the bottom half of its division. Three years ago Bret Bielema left Wisconsin following three straight Big Ten championships to take over Arkansas, a program in the dumps following the bizarre ending to the Bobby Petrino era. Now, the Badgers look for a replacement to take over the program after Gary Andersen surprisingly packed his bags and left to accept a job offer from Oregon State, a program typically happy just to finish above .500 while playing in the multi-uniformed shadows of Oregon.

Wisconsin has been a solid program in the Big Ten over the course of the last five or six years. Perhaps to a certain extent Wisconsin has taken advantage of some down years by Michigan and a temporary setback for Ohio State, but credit the Badgers for seizing the opportunity to claim a spot among the top teams in the Big Ten. Now, in the expanded 14-team conference, Wisconsin is in a favorable spot in the West Division. A good coach can win in this division more often than not for years to come, keeping Wisconsin among the top teams in the Big Ten. So why is Wisconsin all of a sudden a program not capable of keeping quality coaches in Madison?

This is the question former Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez, now the school’s athletics director and a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee is left pondering. During a press conference Wednesday evening Alvarez was asked why Wisconsin was no longer a destination school. He was left without an explanation. Maybe the question is if Wisconsin was ever a true destination school in the first place. It was for Alvarez, who took the job in 1990 after serving as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, and perhaps it was for a few of his predecessors, but then we start diving into a different age of football.

For a moment, let’s toss aside the idea that recruiting is becoming harder and harder for Big Ten programs, with recruiting trends moving away from the Big Ten’s region. If that is the case, then every school is having that problem without the issue of losing coaches to other programs. That would not make this a Wisconsin problem, but a collective Big Ten problem.

Is it the leadership at Wisconsin that is an issue? The idea Wisconsin has been unable to afford to provide comparable salaries for a coaching staff is a fair point. The Badgers ranked 40th in the nation in coaching staff salary with a total staff salary of $2,368,600 according to a coaching salary database compiled by USA Today. If Andersen left for a program with a higher financial commitment to its coaching staff, he may be going to the wrong place. Oregon State ranked 41st in coaching staff salary ($2,347,200). Of course, maybe Oregon State will change that with Andersen coming to the program. The lack of ability to provide a secure financial commitment to a coaching staff was believed to be a factor in Bielema leaving for the SEC, where coaching salaries tend to be higher. For a point of reference, Wisconsin’s coaching staff salary was ranked eighth in the Big Ten and it is possible it might even be lower. Salary information for Penn State and Northwestern is not on record.

But every school has to spend money the best way they see fit. Sometimes the payroll for the football staff has to take a backseat in order to cover other expenses in an athletics department, or the university as a whole. There is no question Wisconsin receives a healthy amount of money from the Big Ten through revenue shares in the conference, but that does not always mean the money will be spent on the staff.

Or maybe sometimes a coach just needs a new challenge (Bielema) or wants to go back closer to home (Andersen). And maybe there’s nothing wrong with Wisconsin at all. The Badgers have proven to be capable of competing for the Big Ten title (I say this fully acknowledging that 59-0 against Ohio State does not support this statement). As with any coaching search, if Wisconsin hires the right man for the job, the Badgers should be fine.

Oklahoma State losing QB Brendan Costello to the transfer portal

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Another quarterback with the Costello surname has hit the portal, although this one is from Oklahoma State football.

According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports, Brendan Costello has taken the first step in leaving the Cowboys by entering the NCAA transfer database.  Thus far, the Oklahoma State football program has not commented on the development.  Nor has the player on his personal Twitter account for that matter.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Barring the unexpected, Costello will have to sit out the 2020 season.  That would then leave him with three years of eligibility to use starting in 2021.

Costello was a three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2019.  The California product was rated as the No. 17 dual-threat quarterback in the country according to the 247Sports.com composite.

The 5-11, 194-pound quarterback didn’t see the field as a true freshman.  Obviously, Costello took a redshirt for the 2019 campaign.

Spencer Sanders is the incumbent under center for OSU.  As a redshirt freshman a year ago, Sanders threw for 2,065 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He also ran for another 628 and a pair of scores.  The Big 12 coaches named him as the conference’s Offensive Freshman of the Year.

This past cycle, Oklahoma State also added Shane Illingworth to its 2020 football recruiting class.  The four-star signee was rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Navy’s Tony Brown enters the transfer portal

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The on-again, off-again relationship Navy has had with the transfer portal is back on again.  Unfortunately for the service academy.

In late March, it was reported that Chelen Garnes had decided to enter the transfer portal. However, the defensive back subsequently pulled his name out of the database in a sign that he would be sticking with the Navy football team.  Earlier this month, though, Garnes opted to reenter the portal, the Capital Gazette reported.  Starting cornerback Michael McMorris, meanwhile, entered the database back in January.  Four months later, the Baltimore Sun reported last week that the defensive back has done a 180 and opted to remain with the Navy football team.

This week, however, 247Sports.com is reporting that Tony Brown has opted to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database.  As a junior, Brown would likely not be leaving the academy as a graduate.  That would mean the striker would have to sit out the 2020 season.  Barring a waiver from the NCAA of course.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Brown was a two-star member of the Navy football Class of 2018.  The Sicklerville, New Jersey, product was the No. 55 player regardless of position in his home state. Brown attended the Naval Academy Prep School during the 2017-18 academic year.

As a true freshman in 2018, Brown appeared in two games.  He started three of the 13 games in which he played in 2019.  The 6-3, 201-pound hybrid linebacker/defensive back returned a fumble eight yards for a score in one of those appearances.

Ex-Georgia WR Josh Moran transfers to New Mexico State

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One former Georgia Bulldog has found himself a new college football home.  Unofficially, of course.

Earlier this offseason, Josh Moran opted to enter the NCAA transfer database.  Tuesday, the wide receiver announced that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at New Mexico State.  Moran divulged the news on his personal Twitter account.

“Thank you Jesus for these past four years at Georgia which have been nothing short of amazing,” Moran wrote. “Yes, the SEC Championship, Rose Bowl win, and National Championship runs were unbelievable, but looking back nothing compares to the lifelong brothers I now have leaving this place.  To my coaches, trainers, and teammates I love you guys and y’all will forever hold a special spot in my heart.

“I want to thank Coach [Doug] Martin and the entire coaching staff at NMSU for believing in me and making the recruiting process as easy as possible during this pandemic. I can’t wait to get to Las Cruces and compete with the guys! God bless and Go Aggies!”

As a graduate transfer, Moran will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.  This will be his final season of eligibility.

Moran was a three-star member of the Georgia football Class of 2016.  The Alpharetta, Ge., native held offers from, among others, Air Force, Army, Cal, Louisville, Navy and West Virginia.  Instead of accepting a scholarship, however, Moran opted to become a walk-on at Georgia.

During his time with the Bulldogs, though, Moran didn’t see any game action.  He spent his entire four years in Athens as a scout team player for the Bulldogs.

NMSU is coming off a 2-10 2019 campaign in its second season as a football independent.  The Aggies had previously been members of the Sun Belt Conference.  That relationship ended following the 2017 season.

South Alabama announces home-and-home with Ole Miss

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Thanks to Ole Miss, we have some football scheduling news you don’t normally see.  An SEC school agreeing to a straight home-and-home with a Group of Five program.

South Alabama Monday confirmed that it has reached an agreement on a home-and-home series with Ole Miss in football.  The Jaguars will travel to Oxford Sept. 2, 2028.  The Rebels will make the five-hour trek to Mobile Sept. 1 of the following season.

The 2029 game will mark the first time an SEC school travels to the Sun Belt Conference program since Mississippi State in 2014.  That was actually the first and only time since USA became an FBS member.

South Alabama and Ole Miss have met once in football. That came back in 2017, with the Rebels claiming a 47-27 win in Oxford.

“We are very excited to sign this home-and-home contract with Ole Miss,” USA head coach Steve Campbell said in a statement. “They have a proud program and tradition, it will be great to have them play in Hancock Whitney Stadium; hopefully they will be the first of many Power Five schools to make that trip to play here in Mobile. Mississippi has been very good for us as far as recruiting, we have brought in a lot of talented student-athletes from the state, I know it will be exciting for those future recruits to play Ole Miss.”

USA’s new stadium, incidentally, is set to open this coming season.  That site will also serve as the new home of the Senior Bowl.

In its history, USA has played six games against SEC schools.  They are 1-5 in those games.  The lone win?  Against Mississippi State in 2016.

Outside of Ole Miss, USA has five future games against members of the SEC.  Those are:

  • Florida (2020)
  • Tennessee (2021)
  • LSU (2024)
  • Auburn (2025)
  • Kentucky (2026).