Five years ago today, Nebraska kicked off realignmageddon

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It may be hard to believe, but it was five years ago today Nebraska made the decision to leave the comfortable surroundings of the Big 12 for the Big Ten. A lot has happened in the years since.

Looking back on everything that happened during the realignmageddon (I made that word up, and it fits well in this discussion) phase of college football, it is still crazy to think about how much changed. Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten was just one domino in the process that eventually led to expansion in every conference, the destruction of one in football and the near dismantling of another. It was a crazy time we all lived in, yet here we are to tell the stories of how it all went down.

The Big Ten became a conference with 12 14 members while the Big 12 managed to play with 10. Maryland and Rutgers are now Big Ten members alongside Nebraska.

The Pac-10 was on the verge of becoming the Pac-16, depending on how much you trust some of the reports at the time. But just days after Nebraska joined the Big Ten, Colorado was added to the Pac-10 as the 11th member.

The Big East was a temporary home to three members that never played a single game in the conference; Boise State, San Diego State and TCU. Meanwhile, the conference underwent a complete makeover by becoming the American Athletic Conference after the core of its basketball membership left and took the Big East banner with them.

Texas A&M and Missouri were expected to be nothing in the almighty SEC, but A&M benefitted as Johnny Manziel became a household name and the Tigers reached two straight SEC championship games in short time. It’s even more ironic because Missouri once attempted to take the lead in keeping the Big 12 together and rejected multiple SEC rumors before giving in and accepting their fate.

Florida State and Clemson to the Big 12 never panned out, nor West Virginia to the ACC or SEC. But the Mountaineers did claw their way out of the Big East and to the Big 12. UConn meanwhile, well, at least they have their new rivalry with UCF to look forward to.

We were talking about Congress getting involved with saving the Big 12. Some lawmakers did get involved elsewhere.

The WAC, at least in football, was given an obituary courtesy of their regional neighbors from the Mountain West Conference, which managed to add and hold on to two BCS busters (Boise State and Hawaii — you forgot Hawaii played in a Sugar Bowl, didn’t you?) while losing two others (Utah and TCU). BYU also decided to celebrate its independence as a program as well after being left out of the power conference expansion phases in the west and southwest.

Dan Beebe.

It was a crazy time for college football fans. The realignment era shook the traditional conference molds just about everywhere, tossing geographical ties by the wayside with traditional rivalries in pursuit of increasing television revenue. Many of these moves, quite literally, have paid off as new media deals continue to skyrocket and conference revenue shares continue to increase. Oh, and we got a College Football Playoff out of the whole thing too.

From time to time I will be asked when the next shift in realignment will happen. We may see some subtle changes at times, but the power conferences look to be settled and there is no need for any to expand. That includes the Big 12. But expansion should never be out of the question, and if realignment taught us anything it is simply that anything can happen.

There is always a domino to fall waiting to be lined up.

Four-star 2018 signee Kukea Emmsley of Boise State is in transfer portal

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In December of 2017, Kukea Emmsley posted on Twitter that he dreamt of being a Boise State football player.  A little over two years later, the dream is over.  Or, it’s on its way to being over.

According to 247Sports.com, Emmsley has entered himself into the NCAA transfer database.  The move to the portal by the redshirt defensive end would be the first step in leaving the Boise State football team.  Emmsley could, though, pull his name and remain with the Broncos.

Conversely, the Boise State football program could pull his scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

A four-star 2018 signee, Emmsley was rated as the No. 4 player regardless of position in the state of Hawaii.  He was also the No. 25 outside linebacker in that class.  Of the 25 recruits signed by Boise State football that year, only one on the defensive side of the ball, Chris Mitchell, was rated higher than Emmsley.

Despite that pedigree, Emmsley failed to live up to the pre-career billing.

As a true freshman in 2019, Emmsley took a redshirt.  This past season, Emmsley made his Boise State debut in an Oct. 19 loss to BYU.  As it turns out, that was Emmsley’s lone appearance.

Emmsley will likely have to sit out the 2020 season if he follows through on a transfer and moves to another FBS school.  That would leave him with two years of eligibility beginning in 2021.

Virginia OC Robert Anae withdraws name from Hawaii coaching search

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We don’t know yet who will be the head coach of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football team.  We do, though, now who it won’t be.

In days after Nick Rolovich left to replace Mike Leach at Washington State, Robert Anae‘s name has been mentioned prominently as a potential successor.  Tuesday, however, the Virginia offensive coordinator announced in a statement that he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the job as the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors head coach.

“After careful consideration, I am withdrawing my application for the University of Hawaii head football coach position,” the statement began. “I have been overwhelmed with the commitment by Coach [Bronco] Mendenhall and the leadership of [athletic director] Carla Williams. I am excited and energized to close out our recruiting class as we continue our quest for the conference championship.”

The 61-year-old Anae, who played his college football at BYU, was born in Hawaii and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football team.  Anae just completed his fourth season as Virginia’s coordinator.  He also coaches the team’s wide receivers.

With Anae out of the picture, Hawaii could stay in-house for its new head coach. Craig Stutzmann, UH’s quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator and Mark Banker, UH’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach, have been mentioned as possibilities.  The offensive line coach at Syracuse, Mike Cavanaugh, has been floated as a possibility as well.

Penn State DE Daniel Joseph hurtles into the portal

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Count the Penn State football program as the next FBS school facing a potential personnel loss.

First reported by the SEC Network‘s Cole Cubelic, defensive end Daniel Joseph has taken the first step in leaving the Penn State football team by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the initial report.

A four-star 2016 signee, Joseph was rated as the No. 12 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 3 player regardless of position in the state of Illinois.

Joseph took a redshirt as a true freshman.  The next three seasons, Joseph appeared in 33 games.  A dozen of those appearances came during the 2019 campaign.

In those three seasons, the defensive lineman was credited with 29 tackles, 5½ tackles for loss, five sacks, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

On the last depth chart of the 2019 season, Joseph was listed No. 3 behind starter Yetur Gross-Matos and backup Shane Simmons.  Gross-Matos confirmed in early December that he will be leaving the Nittany Lions early for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Joseph is the second Nittany Lion to hit the portal this offseason.  Earlier this month, offensive lineman Hunter Kelly entered his name into the transfer database.  Both Kelly and Joseph will be leaving the Penn State football team as graduate transfers.

Oregon confirms hiring of Joe Moorhead as OC

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The Oregon Ducks football team officially has its new offensive boss.

Last week, it was reported that the Ducks were expected to hire Joe Moorhead as offensive coordinator.  A week later, the Pac-12 school confirmed Moorhead’s addition to Mario Cristobal‘s coaching staff.

Moorhead replaces Marcus Arroyo, who took the head job at UNLV in mid-December.

“The search for our next offensive coordinator was extensive and drew interest from coaches at all levels from around the country,” the Oregon Ducks football head coach said in a statement. “It was a thorough process, because we wanted to not only get the best coach for the University of Oregon, but also the best fit for our student-athletes and coaches. I’m fired up to welcome Joe, his wife Jennifer, daughter Kyra and sons Mason and Donovan, to Eugene and our football family.

“I’ve admired Joe’s offensive philosophy and ability as a play-caller from afar, and after meeting with him I was even more impressed. He is a great teacher and communicator, and instills confidence and belief in his players. His offenses have been explosive, balanced, multiple and creative. More importantly, he’s a great man, father and husband who our players and staff will enjoy working with.”

In two seasons at Mississippi State, Moorhead went 14-12.  Moorhead’s January firing was centered on an ugly fight between teammates in the run-up to the Music City Bowl.

The day after Christmas, it was reported that freshman Garrett Shrader, who was supposed to start the bowl game at quarterback, was injured in a post-practice scuffle with a defensive teammate.  The altercation was preceded by an in-practice altercation during a contact drill.  Shrader suffered some orbital bone damage as a result of the incident.

The MSU job was, at the time, the furthest west Moorhead had worked in a three-decade coaching career.

From 2016-17, Moorhead was the coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Penn State.  In the four years before that, he was the head coach at FCS Fordham.  He’s also been on staffs at UConn (2009-11), Akron (2004-2008) and Georgetown (2003).

Moorhead was the coordinator at all three of those latter stops.