Baylor made the decision Thursday to indefinitely suspend head coach Art Briles with the intent to terminate his contract. In simpler terms, he’s fired but likely has a few legal hurdles for Baylor to clear before that is legally finalized. With the coaching decision coming in late May, it looks very likely Baylor is about to embark on a path previously traveled by Ohio State. That ended up working out pretty well for the Buckeyes, so perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for the Bears in the long run as the program looks to crawl out from underneath the dark cloud that floats above it today.
The severity of the consequences facing Ohio State in late May 2011 and the Baylor program today has no comparison, there should be some similarities to what happens next for Baylor. Jim Tressel “resigned” from his post as head coach of the Buckeyes on May 30, 2011. At the time, Tressel was facing a two-game suspension for lying during an investigation regarding Ohio State players and impermissible benefits. As a result, Ohio State was faced with a late search for a new head coach with little time to spare for the 2011 college football season. Rather than get involved in an awkwardly timed coaching search, Ohio State named Luke Fickell the interim head coach for the 2011 season, while the national search could continue to lure in the biggest fish possible. That would end up being Urban Meyer, and things have worked out well in the years to follow.
A similar situation also played out at Arkansas when Bobby Petrino, although on another set of circumstances not comparable to the Baylor scandal. Petrino was fired by Arkansas earlier in the spring as well, with his removal as head coach coming on April 10, 2012 after lying about the details of his motorcycle accident and relationship with an Arkansas staff member. Arkansas managed to hire a new head coach for the 2012 season, naming John L. Smith the full-time head coach. However, Smith was let go after a 4-8 season that fall and ultimately replaced by Brett Bielema.
Given the timing of the coaching change in Waco, it would be expected the Bears will name a current member of the coaching staff their interim coach for the 2016 season, even though the findings of an external review of the university and athletics department made some strong accusations of various members of the coaching staff. But Baylor has little choice for what already is taking on the look of a potentially lost season for the Bears. Regardless, football will be played and somebody has to lead the team on the sidelines. Who that interim coach will be remains unknown, but given the information in the report it is also expected Baylor will wipe the slate clean with its next permanent head coach.
Odds are there will be no coach of the caliber of Meyer to come swoop in and restore pride in the program in short time. Baylor has a number of issues to address as a university, athletics department and a football program. The Baylor job may still be seen by coaching candidates as a better job as it once traditionally was, but any coach coming in for the Baylor job will be entering a pretty dark period of time, and that does not even account for any response the NCAA may eventually have on the situation.
For its newest assistant, Texas A&M football turned to an ACC school. And, a familiar face for that matter.
Thursday, A&M announced that Tyler Santucci has been hired by Fisher as linebackers coach. Santucci will replace Bradley Dale Peveto, who was still under contract but won’t return for the 2020 season.
Santucci’s hiring marks a homecoming of sorts as the assistant spent the 2018 season as a defensive analyst for the Texas A&M football program.
Last season, Santucci was the linebackers coach at Wake Forest. That was his first on-field job at the Power Five level. His first on-field job at the FBS level came as linebackers coach at Texas State in 2016.
In 2017, Santucci was a defensive analyst at Notre Dame. During that brief stint in South bend, Mike Elko was the Fighting Irish’s defensive coordinator, the same position he’s held with the Aggies since he was hired in January of 2018.
The first coaching job for Santucci, who played his college football at Stony Brook, was at his alma mater as safeties coach.
In Jimbo Fisher‘s second season in College Station, the Aggies posted an 8-5 record. A&M has won both bowl games since Fisher took over the program. After finishing tied for second in the SEC West his Fisher’s inaugural season, the Aggies dipped to fourth in 2019.
After one semester at Michigan, freshman running back Jordan Castleberry has transferred to Maryland. Castleberry announced his transfer decision on his Twitter account on Thursday.
Castleberry originally committed to West Virginia during his recruiting process out of high school. Shortly after his commitment to West Virginia, Michigan became a more likely recruiting victor. Castleberry enrolled at Michigan in July 2019.
Castleberry did not play for Michigan in 2019, so he can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year to preserve a year of eligibility. However, NCAA transfer rules will force Castleberry to sit out the 2020 season. This will not make Castleberry eligible for Maryland until the 2021 season, at which point he will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Family will always be more important than football, which is why Ruffin McNeill will be putting football on hold for an undetermined amount of time. Oklahoma announced on Thursday that assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach McNeill will leave football to help take care of his father.
“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make,” McNeill said in a statement released by Oklahoma. “But in the end, being near my dad was a necessary choice. Right now I need to be a son again and I need to help my brother and other family members take care of my dad, who is battling significant health issues. This is not retirement for me. I still want to coach in some form or fashion. But right now that can’t be the case. My focus needs to be on my dad back in North Carolina.”
“Ruffin means so much to me and to my family, and his family means so much to him,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said in a statement. “I know his decision to leave OU was a very difficult one, but was one he felt he had to make.”
Although McNeill said this is not a retirement decision and expressed a desire to continue coaching when the time is right, Riley confirmed the Sooners will be looking for a replacement on the staff.
“I still want to coach in some form or fashion,” McNeill said. “But right now that can’t be the case.”
McNeill joined the Oklahoma coaching staff under Riley in 2017.
As we are quickly learning with the new day and age of college football, the minute a new quarterback arrives on the scene by way of a transfer, another may soon be on the move. Case in point, the current situation at Miami. Quarterback Jarren Williams will be entering the transfer portal, according to a report from Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter).
This news is hardly shocking given the attention given to the arrival by D’Eriq King from Houston earlier this week. King, a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility for this fall, is widely expected to step in and be Miami’s starting quarterback in 2020. Naturally, that would reduce the playing time Williams or any other Miami quarterback would be likely to see in the fall.
As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Williams was Miami’s leading passer with 2,187 yards and 19 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Williams is the only Miami quarterback who played in as many as 12 games last fall. If not for the addition of King, Williams may have been Miami’s most likely starter this season.
If Williams, a former four-star recruit in the Class of 2018, does indeed enter the transfer portal and ultimately decides to leave the Hurricanes for a new school, he will have to sit out the 2020 season. He would then have two years of eligibility left to use beginning in 2021.