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LSU confirms hiring of Matt Canada as Ed Orgeron’s OC

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It’s officially “Eaux Canada” with an exclamation point instead of a question mark.

Following burgeoning speculation over the past few days, LSU confirmed Wednesday morning in a press release that Ed Orgeron has hired Matt Canada as his new offensive coordinator.  The announcement comes after Canada spent most of Tuesday meeting with Orgeron and the rest of his coaching staff.

Reportedly, Canada turned down three other Power Five jobs to accept LSU’s offer.

Canada, who will be officially introduced at a 2:30 p.m. ET press conference this afternoon, was given a three-year contract that will be worth more than $1 million annually.  Last season at Pittsburgh, it’s believed Canada was paid in the neighborhood of $600,000.

“When I first sat down with Joe Alleva and we mapped out a plan for LSU football, we agreed that we were going to demand excellence on both sides of the ball,” said Orgeron in a statement. “We want a defense that’s impenetrable and an offense that’s exciting and unstoppable. Anyone who wants to play football at the highest levels is going to want to play at LSU.”

Given Orgeron’s experience on the other side of the ball, and the presence of one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the game still on his staff in Dave Aranda, the offensive coordinator was thought to be the most important hire of the new head coach’s tenure — especially when the offensive woes of the last few years are factored in.  Based on 2016, the football program should be cautiously optimistic Orgeron nailed the hire.

Canada, an Indiana native, just completed his first regular season as the coordinator at Pitt. In 2016, Canada directed an offense that averaged 14 points per game more than the Panthers did a year ago and has already set a program record for most points scored in a single season with a bowl game still remaining. He was the only offensive coordinator named as a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in the country.

Since his first FBS coordinating job at Northern Illinois in 2003, Canada has been a coordinator at Indiana (2007-10), back at NIU again (2011), Wisconsin (2012) and North Carolina State (2012-15) before landing at Pitt for what turned into a one-and-done.

“We have a real opportunity under Coach Orgeron to propel LSU football to another level,” Canada said. “The chance to put together a high-powered offense with the athletic ability available at LSU and the leadership of Coach ‘O’ is incredibly exciting. I’ve long-respected Coach Orgeron’s ability to recruit, lead and motivate. What he did as head coach at LSU under difficult circumstances was really impressive. I’m thrilled to be a part of the vision for the program.”

Canada is expected to remain with Pitt through the Pinstripe Bowl matchup with Northwestern Dec. 28.

“On behalf of our entire program, I want to thank Matt for his many important contributions, on and off the field, this past year,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “It was important that Matt remain with our team through the bowl game and he had no hesitation about that. He wants to send this team, and especially our seniors, out the right way. Our search for a new offensive coordinator will fully begin after the bowl. Our primary focus is on a successful completion to the 2016 season.

“When you hire great people and have success, your staff will always be in demand. I’m confident we will find another outstanding person and professional to continue our momentum.

LSU confirms promotion of Tiger great Kevin Faulk as RBs coach

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An LSU football legend officially has an on-field role at his alma mater.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Kevin Faulk would be promoted from his current position as LSU football director of player development.  Thursday, the Tigers confirmed that Faulk has been promoted by Ed Orgeron to running backs coach.

Faulk replaces Tommie Robinson, who left to take the same job at SEC West rival Texas A&M.

“We would like to thank Tommie (Robinson) for being a part of our national championship program and wish him the best in his future,” the LSU football head coach said in a statement. “Kevin is a great teacher and mentor and someone that has earned the respect and love of our players. We are honored to have one of the greatest players in LSU history as part of our coaching staff. This is a home run hire.”

Faulk played collegiately for LSU football from 1995-98.  He is still the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,557) and rushing TDs (46).

Faulk was then a second-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1999.  He spent 13 years in the NFL, joining his high school alma mater’s football coaching staff upon his retirement following the 2011 season.

In 2018, Faulk rejoined the LSU football program in an off-field role.  This will be his field on-field role at any level of college football.

“The day I graduated high school I knew I wanted to be a coach,” the 43-year-old Faulk said. “The coaches I had growing up meant so much to me and the community, and I knew I wanted to be that guy. To coach at my alma mater is the best thing I could ever hope for. I wear the purple and gold with pride every day, and I am ready to get going to help win another national championship.”

Ford Field to host even more MACtion in 2020

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The MAC title game isn’t the only bit of #MACtion that Ford Field will see in 2020.

The conference recently released their annual football schedule on Wednesday and among the notable league games is the rivalry contest between Central Michigan and Western Michigan. While this one figures to have division implications on Oct. 17, things are going to be slightly different this year.

Namely that it won’t be on either campus and will instead be played at Ford Field.

“Ford Field has been the location of many great experiences for CMU Football, and this is an opportunity to create another iconic experience for our program and our university,” athletic director Michael Alford said in a release. “CMU’s continued success means out-of-the-box thinking. Bringing this game — and the events surrounding it — to Detroit allows our athletics program to help engage thousands of people who are passionate about CMU.”

It’s an interesting move that will push CMU to over a decade without a win over their directional rivals in Mt. Pleasant. Still, the larger venue and the opportunity to make things an even bigger event in the state’s largest city seem to have won out.

The Detroit News reported on Tuesday that the Chips wanted to do a multi-year deal at the home of the NFL’s Lions but that WMU said no thanks.

The Broncos have won seven of the last nine meetings, including last year’s 31-15 win in Kalamazoo. Despite that head-to-head victory though, Jim McElwain’s squad got the last laugh by winning the MAC West in one of the biggest turnaround stories of the 2019 season.

They wound up playing at Ford Field in the conference title game where they eventually lost to Miami (OH) 26-21. The venue has been the home of the MAC championship since 2004 and will have the next edition played on either Friday, Dec. 4 or Saturday Dec. 5.

Georgia Tech adds 2023 game against Bowling Green, makes slight change to 2021 schedule

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Georgia Tech is loving itself some #MACtion.

The school announced a pair of future schedule moves against teams from the eponymous league on Wednesday. Among the most immediate actions for the Yellow Jackets is that their 2021 contest against Northern Illinois will be shifted to become the season-opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 4.

GT will then play FCS Kennesaw State at home and conclude the early non-conference slate with a trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 20, 2021. Their annual rivalry contest against Georgia will conclude the regular season the final weekend of November as usual.

Tech also added Bowling Green to their upcoming docket. The Falcons will head to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 30, 2023. A trip to Ole Miss and the in-state rival Bulldogs coming to Atlanta will round out the Jackets’ non-conference schedule with one more opening still to be signed (likely against an FCS opponent).

Head coach Geoff Collins’ 2020 squad will have their attention on a conference opponent to open the upcoming season as they take on ACC opponent Clemson at home on Thursday, Sept. 3. The two programs will also meet again in city for the 2022 season opener at nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium as well.

While those big name opponents will get more attention from fans in the region, don’t discount a bit of that #MACtion heading South either.

Waiting to cancel game with FCS opponent cost USC an extra $500,000

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Keeping Clay Helton around wasn’t the only decision last year that upset USC fans. Now the school backtracking on a choice it just made has cost the program a pretty penny.

For those not in the know, cardinal and gold supporters up in arms last year when it was announced the program had agreed to a non-conference game with UC Davis for the 2021 season. Such a contest typically doesn’t draw much attention but it did in Los Angeles as it was the first FCS opponent the Trojans were to play in their illustrious history.

That would have left rivals UCLA and Notre Dame as the only two FBS programs not to play an FCS team.

Then things changed. The athletic director responsible for the deal, Lynn Swann, was shown the door. His replacement Mike Bohn has gone about trying to make amends and recently announced that USC had eventually backed out of the game against the Aggies.

In their place on the docket at the Coliseum that season is another Bay Area team, San Jose State. We already recounted how the Spartans made out quite nicely on the balance sheet as a result of this (and subsequent buyout from Georgia) swap. As it turns out though, they weren’t the only Northern California team to do so.

According to the Davis Enterprise, the buyout UCD was owed was only supposed to be $225,000. However terms called for that to jump to $725,000 after the start of the new year. Because the Trojans waited around they then had to pony up that extra half million for doing something they had been considering since the new administration came in.

“It’s pretty funny. We had every intention of playing that game,” Aggies senior associate athletics director Josh Flushman told the paper. “We just wanted to make sure (if there were) buyouts we were going to get the money.

“In December, (AD Kevin Blue) and I joking said, ‘Don’t take any phone calls from L.A. numbers until after the first.’”

The call didn’t come until February and the school is that much richer for it. On top of that they added a $400,000 guarantee game from Tulsa to replace Southern Cal on the schedule to boot.

Waiting may be the hardest part for some but it resulted in a nice seven-figure gain at UC Davis.