Getty Images

Miami captures first bowl win in a decade thanks to victory over West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl

10 Comments

Mark Richt returned to his alma mater this year to win national championships but his first task in the postseason was to end Miami’s decade-long drought of frustration when it came to bowl games.

After Wednesday’s 31-14 Russell Athletic Bowl triumph over West Virginia, you can cross that one off the list for the head coach in his first season in Coral Gables.

Quarterback Brad Kaaya bounced back from a slow start to light the Mountaineers vaunted secondary on fire (282 yards, four touchdowns) and the Hurricanes used a nice second quarter surge to leave any doubt about the final outcome in this one for their first win in the postseason since 2006.

Keying that run was terrific young wideout Ahmmon Richards, who turned a short pass into a 51 yard catch-and-run for the team’s first touchdown. That would be the first of five straight scoring drives for Miami that included big plays from David Njoku and Braxton Berrios to find the end zone among others. The rushing attack wasn’t much to write about for the team (82 total yards) but with so much success through the air it’s no surprise to see them trend away from it until needing to kill the clock late in the fourth quarter.

Things didn’t start out all that bad for West Virginia, which had a swarming defense early in the game that didn’t allow a first down in the entire first quarter. Things quickly went down hill after allowing the first score however and the team never could get on track offensively as quarterback Skyler Howard proved ineffective. Even the normally productive running game for the Mountaineers failed to get much going on the night as their signal-caller led them in most statistical categories on the ground.

As a result, Miami was able to move on and capture their ninth win to close out a very good debut year with the school for Richt and his new coaching staff. While the Hurricanes will suffer some key losses to graduation and the NFL Draft, the team likely returns their quarterback and a host of playmakers on both sides of the ball and should enter the top 20 of next year’s preseason polls with plenty of momentum.

WVU does pick up their third loss of the season in the process for what was otherwise a very impressive bounce-back campaign for the team — the bowl performance notwithstanding after getting beat up down in Orlando.

Kentucky assistant Dean Hood named head coach at FCS Murray State

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mark Stoops’ coaching job this season was one of the more impressive you’ll see given the number of key injuries the team suffered throughout 2019 but the Wildcats head coach will have to deal with losing one key assistant who is returning to the FCS ranks.

UK special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach Dean Hood was named on Friday as the next head coach of Murray State football, an FCS program at the other end of the state.

“Dean Hood is a man of character and integrity who possesses a tremendous work ethic and unique ability to advance our football program,” AD Kevin Saal said in a release. “I look forward to partnering with him to accomplish our shared vision for the program…to develop leaders of character, competence and consequence, for football and 40+ years of life beyond football.  Murray State University is honored to welcome Dean, Crystal, Trey, Daven, Jada and Cordia to their new home in Murray; a community that I know welcomes the Hood Family with open arms, supporting hearts and a true passion for the future success of Racer Athletics.”

Hood is no stranger to the Racers on the field as he spent several years at another OVC school in Eastern Kentucky as head coach. He linked up with Stoops in 2017 and has produced plenty of impactful results between the lines, including punter Max Duffey just recently being named the Ray Guy Award winner as the nation’s best at the position.

Steve Clinkscale also handles defensive backs for Kentucky but Hood’s loss in the third phase of the game is pretty notable given how well most of his units have performed in recent years. It will be interesting to see what direction Stoops goes but he can at least be excited at one of his former assistants returning to the FCS level as head coach.

Appalachian State confirms no interim tag for Shawn Clark, ex-Mountaineers OL gets five year deal to be head coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Eli Drinkwitz surprise departure from Boone after just one season has led to a rather expected move to fill his shoes with somebody who definitely won’t be bolting the school that soon.

Confirming reports from earlier in the week, Appalachian State has officially removed any sort of interim tag from Shawn Clark and give him the permanent position with a five year deal as head coach.

“It’s a great day to be a Mountaineer,” Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said in a statement. “We are thrilled to announce Shawn Clark as our new head coach. He’s been a great leader for us since the day he returned to his alma mater. He has experience at both Power Five and Group of Five schools and is highly respected among his peers, his players, on campus and in the community. His experience as a leader, play-caller and recruiter will help us to continue to raise our football program to new heights.”

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime to be named the head football coach at my alma mater, the school that I love so much,” Clark added. “I would like to thank Chancellor Everts, the Board of Trustees and Doug Gillin for entrusting me with this great responsibility. I am excited to keep pushing our players to greatness on and off the field and to work with a great coaching staff to win championships. My family and I are grateful to stay in Boone and keep pushing this program to new heights.”

Clark has been the offensive line coach at his alma mater the past four years under both Drinkwitz and Scott Sartterfield before both moved onto Power Five gigs.

The 44-year-old Clark was part of staffs at Louisville, Eastern Kentucky, Purdue and Kent State as well before returning to Boone, where he was an offensive lineman on some of the program’s powerhouse teams back in the mid-1990’s.

Clark’s first game fully in charge will come on Dec. 21 in the New Orleans Bowl against UAB — a spot he’s pretty familiar with having served as the interim offensive coordinator for the team’s game at the Superdome in 2018. That resulted in a blowout win that no doubt played a role in him getting the full time gig just a year later and AppState fans have to hope for similar results as Clark takes the field this time around as head coach.

Reports: Barry Odom isn’t leaving the SEC — nor the Ozarks — for next coaching gig

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Recently fired Missouri head coach Barry Odom was expected to find work quickly after being dumped by his alma mater and thus was rumored to be up for just about every defensive coordinator gig at Power Five schools all over the country.

As it turns out, Odom does not appear to be leaving the SEC — nor even the Ozarks — for his next stop. According to both FootballScoop and The Athletic, Arkansas is zeroing in on hiring him as Sam Pittman’s first defensive coordinator.

Odom was the head coach of the Tigers for four seasons after being elevated from being their DC to take over for longtime stalwart Gary Pinkel in 2016. He spent three seasons as Memphis’ coordinator under Justin Fuente as well and served a number of different off the field roles in Columbia prior to that. The Oklahoma native knows the region quite well and was widely associated with helping turn around Mizzou when he was a linebacker and team captain in the late 1990’s.

He takes over for John Chavis, who was one of Chad Morris’ first big hires when he first took over in Fayetteville. The ‘Chief’ as he is known, was paid a hefty salary after coming over from a stint at Texas A&M but failed to produce the kind of turnaround that could have kept Morris around as head coach, with the Razorbacks ranking No. 124 this past season in scoring defense — statistically the worst Power Five unit in the country.

With Morris now serving as Auburn’s new offensive coordinator, it’s pretty clear that in the SEC, there’s plenty of soft landings available for coaches who get the axe at the end of the year — and we’re not even getting into the buyout life either.

San Jose State, Brent Brennan set to formally announce new contract

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brent Brennan has yet to reach the .500 mark at San Jose State, but his bosses have seen enough to reward the 47-year-old head coach.

A press conference has been called for Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET that will feature Brennan and a pair of SJSU leaders, athletic director Marie Tuite and president Mary A. Papazian.  According to the school, the presser has been called to announce a contract extension for Brennan.

Brennan’s current deal is scheduled to run through the 2021 season; details pertaining to the extension are not yet available.

During his first two seasons with the Spartans, Brennan went 3-22.  This past season, SJSU improved to 5-7, the football program’s most wins since the six they put up in its last bowl appearance in 2015.  Those five wins in 2019 included SJSU’s first victory over rival Fresno State since 2016.

According to the USA Today coaches salary database, Brennan was paid $599,000 in guaranteed compensation in 2019.  That number was 10th among the 11 Mountain West Conferences coaches listed in the database.