Florida State’s hiring of Mike Norvell looks like it could lead to some major changes at Auburn.
First, multiple outlets reported Monday morning that Kenny Dillingham is leaving Auburn to reunite with Norvell in Tallahassee; Norvell “discovered” the 29-year-old Dillingham while at Arizona State and brought him along to Memphis, so the move is anything but a surprise.
Furthermore, though, Dillingham’s departure could lead to Chad Morris‘s hiring on the Plains. According to Auburn Undercover, the former Arkansas head coach is the leading candidate, and a deal could be done this week.
Morris and head Tiger Gus Malzahn go back years, to when Morris, then a high school head coach struggling to fill Art Briles‘s shoes at Stephenville High School, trekked to Arkansas to sit at the feet of Malzahn, then building his reputation as a guru in Northwest Arkansas. The two have maintained a relationship ever since, and now that relationship could turn professional.
If and when Morris is hired, it will come with two interesting dynamics.
The first is recruiting, where Chad’s son Chandler Morris is a 4-star quarterback in the class of 2020. Auburn recruited Morris before he committed to Arkansas, then continued recruiting him when Chandler re-opened his recruitment following Dad’s firing. Chad accompanied Chandler during his first recruiting trip to Auburn, including a sit-down with the head coach — just like any dad would on a recruiting trip, only this dad was the head coach of one of Auburn’s direct competitor.
“You go in and you sit down and you get straight to the chase,” Chad Morris told ESPN over the summer. “A lot of it is roster talk more than anything. You talk about injuries and how they handle kids that get hurt, and how does that work. You deal with their trainers. It’s more, from my standpoint, how they go about the strength and conditioning, how they specialize in their quarterbacks and looking at the overall development of the coach. Is he an offensive-minded coach? Is he a defensive-minded coach? You talk strategy, you talk scheme, you talk offense with him. I don’t do a whole lot of talking. I do a lot of listening and let Chandler do a lot of the talking.”
Chandler visited Auburn during the Iron Bowl, and Auburn Undercover reported Chad accompanied him on that visit.
The second prong here is play-calling. The push-pull of the play sheet has been a constant source of palace intrigue during Malzahn’s seven seasons at Auburn, as it seems he’s always relinquishing or reclaiming play-calling duties depending on the results of the last drive.
Malzahn called plays during Dillingham’s one season on staff, which made sense because Dillingham is still in his 20s and had never coached in the SEC before, while Gus Malzahn is Gus Malzahn. But Chad Morris is not Kenny Dillingham. Remember, it was the hiring of Morris (and Brent Venables) that served as the turning point in Clemson’s rise from pretty good program to the nationally elite.
Would Gus keep play calling with Morris on staff or would he hand it over? It could be months before we know that answer, but we could know the answer of if Morris will join the Auburn staff within days.
The legend of Joe Burrow is well-told by now. A guy who barely got a scholarship at Ohio State, waited his turn, realized his turn wasn’t coming, re-invented himself at LSU, and is now bound for a Heisman Trophy. The adopted son of Louisiana has put together one of the best passing seasons in college football history — 77.9 percent completion (on pace to shatter Colt McCoy‘s single-season FBS record), 10.7 yards per attempt, 48 touchdowns against just six interceptions with a 201.47 efficiency rating (on pace to break Tua Tagovailoa‘s record) — while guiding the Bayou Bengals to the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff.
It’s a season they’ll remember forever in Louisiana, and one they’d like to forget in Nebraska.
During an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi in Saturday’s edition of College GameDay, Burrow shared that he really wanted to be a Cornhusker all along.
“I had one offer after my junior year of high school, and it was my dad’s team. I wanted to go to Nebraska,” he said, via 247Sports. “They told me I wasn’t good enough.”
Burrow played high school football in Athens, Ohio, but he spent much of his youth in Lincoln, where his father, Joey Burrow, was an assistant coach. Joey played at Nebraska, and he coached Joe’s older brothers, Jamie and Dan Burrow, who were also Cornhuskers. Joey Burrow was on staff at Ohio U. during Joe’s high school years, and for a time his only FBS offer was from the hometown Bobcats, which he dubbed a “pity offer.”
He wanted more. He wanted Nebraska.
The good news for those in Huskerland is that Burrow was recruited during the Mike Riley era. This is all Riley’s fault, right? There’s no egg on Scott Frost‘s face, is there?
UConn is 6-30 in the 2.0 tenure of Randy Edsall, having gone 3-9 in 2017, 1-11 last year and 2-10 this. The program reportedly also has more than a dozen players in the transfer portal.
Needless to say, it’s not a good time in the annals of Husky football, but it’s also not a good time to make a coaching change. The program is short on cash and in the midst of transitioning from the American to life as an FBS independent, and AD David Benedict has no plans to add another major change on top of that. As he told the AP on Sunday:
“I’m not saying that everyone has to share the same opinion or have the same level of confidence in Coach Edsall that I do, but he has to be given the time to build the program and you can’t do it in three years,” he said. “Ultimately over the next three years, we’ll hopefully see our program become more and more competitive.”
As far as votes of confidence go, this is about the least confident you’ll ever see an AD be when he backs his coach.
But at the same time, it’s also one of the most concrete. Whereas most ADs will commit to backing their coach through the end of that season and the one following at the absolute most, Benedict seems to indicate Edsall will not only be back in 2020, but 2021 and ’22 as well.
While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.
Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released. LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl. No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.
According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship. Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1. Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.
Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners. Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.
The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.
LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004. Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.