McGuire’s Memorial Day Mailbag

1 Comment

You may not be receiving any mail from the United States Postal Service today, but that does not mean there is not any mail to sort through today. With it being Memorial Day (be sure to read John’s touching post from this morning, it’s an annual tradition here at CFT) and a slow news day on the college football front, I decided to field questions on Twitter and throw them into a mailbag post. We do not typically do these around here at College Football Talk, but like I said, it is a slow day and not much else is going on. So humor me, will you?

Let’s get right to it.

Always an excellent question, and it could go one of a few different ways. Do you pick a power conference team struggling to meet expectations, or go with a non-power program in need of a quick change. Last year’s first coaching change took place at SMU when June Jones stepped aside on September 8. Kansas let go of Charlie Weis later that same month. I am going to stick in the Big Ten and suggest Illinois head coach Tim Beckman has a very small margin for error at this point. Despite managing to get the Illini into a postseason bowl game last fall, the offseason stories regarding his treatment of players is not a good look, and Beckman does not win enough to get away with that kind of attention. If things do not go well, Illinois could be staring at a 1-3 record before Big Ten play, with Nebraska and Iowa on deck before a bye week. That seems like a good time to make a change if needed.

Excellent question, especially since I have been going through with some schedule commentary this weekend. The Michigan State-Oregon game is one of the top draws on the non-conference schedule, and for good reason. It will be given the primetime treatment with two of Lee Corso‘s favorite mascots, Sparty and the Oregon Duck. I guess the biggest question is what exactly should be the expectations for Oregon this year? Do they take a step back in the early going in the post-Marcus Mariota era? Two games in for a new starting quarterback on the road at Michigan State feels like a bad spot, even for an experienced transfer like Vernon Adams.

So where does this one in particular rank among other non-conference clashes? I would say it is a lock for top five, and a very strong candidate for the top three. I would probably give Alabama-Wisconsin but Michigan State-Oregon is right in that conversation. I also throw Louisville-Auburn in the conversation.

Aside from Navy joining the American Athletic Conference and Charlotte officially joining Conference USA in football this summer (July 1 is the official realignment day), we are going through another year with only minor ripples on the realignment Richter scale. This is a good thing, as it seems the monumental changes on the realignment phase seems to have settled in. The only thing left to wonder is when it could potentially happen again. Much to the chagrin of programs like BYU, UCF and Cincinnati, I honestly don’t see anything happening in the near future. The Big 12 appears to be content with 10 members, and the need to expand is non-existent in the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC and ACC at this stage. Perhaps the only thing that could change things is if there ever comes a time when Notre Dame decides to abandon independence, at which point the Big Ten, ACC and maybe even the Big 12 would be making sales pitches. And I don’t think that’s going to happen either. I have said before though I can envision a scenario in which BYU returns to the Mountain West Conference.

It is certainly not going to hurt, although we also should not expect Pitt to turn into a second coming of some of the top Michigan State defenses we have seen in recent seasons under Pat Narduzzi. I like what Narduzzi is doing with the Panthers but there are still some things that will be unknown until we see how he coaches the team as a head coach. Pitt was eighth in the ACC in total defense last season and tied for last in total takeaways. Look for that to be a big focus for Narduzzi. The Spartans led the Big Ten in takeaways last season with 34 and tied for the most takeaways in the conference the previous season too.

That was a good way to kill some time today, so thanks for sending in your questions. Who knows, maybe we’ll even give this another try some day. The fun does not have to stop here though. Keep your questions coming in the comments section or feel free to lob some my way on Twitter.

A&M AD Scott Woodward officially named to same post at LSU

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The beloved Ed Orgeron notwithstanding, you can officially fire up the Jimbo-back-to-the-bayou rumor mill.

Wednesday evening, LSU confirmed that Joe Alleva would be “transitioning” from his role as athletic director to that of special assistant to the president for donor relations.  Almost immediately, speculation centered on Texas A&M’s Scott Woodward as a potential, or even likely, replacement; Thursday morning, the university announced that Woodward would indeed succeed Alleva as athletic director.

“We are happy to welcome a fellow Tiger back home,” said LSU president F. King Alexander in a statement. “Scott brings a strong track record of winning championships, graduating student-athletes and building an infrastructure for future achievement. His leadership will take us into a new era for Tiger Athletics.”

Woodward graduated from LSU and served as director of external affairs at his alma mater from 2000-04, a tenure that in part coincided with Jimbo Fisher‘s seven-year run as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the football Tigers.  In December of 2017, Woodward hired Fisher as the Aggies’ head football coach.

The most interesting aspect fo the Woodward-Fisher dynamic? Fisher’s contract with A&M contains no buyout, which means he could leave College Station for another job and not owe a single copper Lincoln to the university.

Woodward, who spent the past four years at A&M, will be formally introduced at a press conference next Tuesday.

“Returning home to the LSU family to lead the department of athletics is incredibly humbling and exciting,” Woodward said. “The state university has been a part of my life for more than five decades, and I know – and I embrace – the high expectations of Tiger Nation. We will win championships and we will do it the right way, representing LSU with pride and dignity every step of the way. I want to thank President Alexander for the opportunity of a lifetime and I cannot wait to get started. Geaux Tigers!”

 

Texas Tech adds two more grad transfers

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s been a busy last few days, both incoming and outgoing, for Texas Tech and new head football coach Matt Wells on the transfer front.

Tuesday, quarterback McLane Carter announced that he has decided to take his leave of Lubbock and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  The same day, however, Tech confirmed the addition of Penn State graduate transfer defensive back Zech McPhearson.

A day later, the roster Christmas continued for Wells as Tech announced that they have added two more graduate transfers — linebacker Evan Rambo of Cal and running back Armand Shyne of Utah.  As is the case with McPhearson, Rambo and Shyne will be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

McPhearson will have two years of eligibility remaining counting this season, Shyne one.  If Rambo’s appeal to the NCAA for a sixth season is successful — he missed all but four games in 2016 because of a season-ending injury before missing all of 2017 with an injury sustained in the spring — he’ll have two as well.

This past season, Shyne’s 513 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground were both second on the Utes.  Shyne will finish his time in Salt Lake City with 885 yards and nine touchdowns on 198 carries.

Rambo played in 22 games during his stint with the Golden Bears, starting five of those contests.

WR Brandon Benson tweets decision to transfer from SMU

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Back in January, it was reported that Brandon Benson had become one of the myriad players to place their names into the NCAA transfer database this offseason, signaling a potential move on from SMU. A couple of months later, the wide receiver has made the divorce official.

Utilizing his personal Twitter account, Benson announced in a tweet that, “after praying and talking to my family, I have decided to transfer from SMU to continue my football and academic careers.”

A three-star 2016 signee, only two members of the Mustangs’ class that year were rated higher than Benson. Despite that pedigree, Benson played in just 10 games (one start) in his three seasons with the AAC school, catching one pass for 72 yards and a touchdown. That scoring play came as a redshirt freshman in 2017 against FCS Stephen F. Austin.

Syracuse and Pitt add future home-and-home games with Western Michigan

Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Any time a MAC program can land a home-and-home deal with a program from a power conference is considered a nice victory. To be able to land two is even better.

Western Michigan has done just that with the addition of two home-and-home series with ACC members Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The addition of two games with Syracuse is a continuation of a current arrangement between the two schools while the games with Pitt are new to the schedule.

Western Michigan will host Syracuse on September 26, 2020 and the Broncos will pay a visit to the Orange on September 9, 2023. Pittsburgh will host the MAC program on September 18, 2021 and the Panthers will visit Western Michigan on September 17, 2022.

As members of the ACC, both Syracuse and Pittsburgh are required to schedule at least one non-conference game against another power conference opponent. Western Michigan does not satisfy that scheduling requirement but each school has the requirement satisfied in the years with their Western Michigan games. Pitt is scheduled to play at Tennessee in 2021 and will host West Virginia and Tennessee in 2022. Syracuse is set to play at Rutgers in 2020 and will play at Purdue in 2023.

Western Michigan has plenty of power conference opponents on the future schedules in addition to the home-and-home deals with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, but the other games currently scheduled are all road games. Western Michigan will play at Michigan State this year (they also play at Syracuse in their original scheduling agreement). Future road games against power conference opponents include Notre Dame (2020), Michigan (2021), Michigan State (2022, 2025), Iowa (2023), Illinois (2025), and Wisconsin (2026).