Pat Narduzzi was on committee to find new Pitt AD Heather Lyke

1 Comment

After losing its athletics director to another school, the University of Pittsburgh has a new athletics director ready to get to work. Heather Lyke , previously of Eastern Michigan, will reportedly take on the job at Pittsburgh according to multiple reports including The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Detroit Free Press and Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com.

Lyke, a Michigan alum and former senior associate athletic director at Ohio State, will replace Scott Barnes, who left to take on the same role at Oregon State. She will be the first woman to be an athletic director in Pitt’s history.

Lyke was a trailblazer during her time at Eastern Michigan. She was the first ever MAC Cartwright Award winner for all-around athletic department excellence in the 2013-2014 academic year. Among the accomplishments at EMU under Lyke’s tenure include the highest overall athletic GPA in school history and the highest graduation rates for athletes in school history. Last season saw the most successful football season in school history in decades leading to the first bowl trip for the program since 1987.

Lyke will leave EMU at a time the school is potentially set to invest in improving athletics facilities in a big way, and her leadership will be a big part of the reason why the university feels it appropriate to even consider spending so much money to improve the athletics programs even if students and faculty on campus have concerns about such budget proposals.

As for the future of the Pitt football program, the hiring of Lyke seems to have no drawbacks. Pat Narduzzi has done well since being hired to be the head coach, so there is little reason for Lyke to be looking to make a change on the sideline to hire her preferred coach. Narduzzi was actually on the selection committee for finding a new AD, so it stands to reason the new AD has the support of the football coach. This is not a situation where the new AD will be asked to make a quick change, so that’s good for Narduzzi and the football program. Whether Lyke has any desire to figure out a long-term stadium solution on Pitt’s campus might be worth watching, although that might be a reach.

Expect one of the football-related questions to Lyke be about the non-conference scheduling plans. Among those first questions will be Lyke’s thoughts about the Penn State series. The two in-state schools (now with two women athletic directors), resumed their previously abandoned series last fall and will meet again for the next three seasons. As is custom, new ADs tend to draw their line in the sand on such in-state rivalry questions.

And if she says the football team is going to bring back the mustard-yellow helmets on a full-time basis, then she may be the best hire Pitt has made in years right out of the gate.

Report: Ex-Clemson QB Kelly Bryant to announce grad transfer destination on Dec. 4

Getty Images
4 Comments

The first time Kelly Bryant was recruited, as a member of the class of 2015, he was a 4-star. A product of Wren High School in Piedmont, S.C., and the younger cousin of former Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant, Bryant chose Clemson over offers from Florida, North Carolina and Ole Miss, according to his Rivals profile.

This time around, Bryant is definitely a 5-star. Bryant led Clemson to an ACC title and a College Football Playoff berth in his lone season as Clemson’s starter, then guided the Tigers to a 4-0 mark before giving way to freshman Trevor Lawrence in September. Along the way, Bryant threw for 3,263 yards, rushed for 795 and accounted for 28 total touchdowns in leading Clemson to a 16-2 record.

Bryant is a proven, effective college player, which wasn’t enough for him to remain ahead of Lawrence on the Clemson depth chart but is plenty good enough to start at a number of other schools — and many of those other schools have courted Bryant.

Just like a high school recruit, Bryant is permitted five official visits, which he’s taken to Arkansas, Missouri and North Carolina, with future visits planned for Mississippi State this weekend and Miami on Nov. 24. He’s also taken an unofficial vis to Auburn.

According to a report from Woody Wommack of Rivals, Bryant has set a date of Dec. 4 to pick his graduate transfer destination. That’s the Tuesday after Selection Sunday.

“I’m still trying to talk to more schools and make sure I get this right,” Bryant told Rivals earlier this month. “I need to make sure I establish the right type of relationship and make the right choice.

Among those six schools, three (Mississippi State, Missouri and Auburn) have senior starting quarterbacks, and three (Arkansas, Miami and UNC) are set to return their starters.

It’s clear that Bryant plans to start at whatever school he chooses. Whether he’ll be gifted the starting spot or have to earn it remains to be seen.

Report: ‘Mutual interest’ between Kansas, Todd Graham

Getty Images
1 Comment

Kansas needs a coach. Todd Graham needs a job.

On that basis, the two sides have talked about the KU opening, according to a report Monday from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.

It is not known how far the discussion(s) went, nor where Graham stands on Jeff Long‘s list. But Graham does have experience building a program as the former head coach at Rice, Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Arizona State.

Coincidentally, Graham was current KU head coach David Beaty‘s boss for one season, as Beaty coached wide receivers on Graham’s Rice staff in 2006.

Graham is a Texas native and a former high school coach in the Dallas area, so he would present an opportunity to mine the Texas recruiting fields if Long opts to go that direction.

Overall, Graham is 95-61 with 10 bowl trips and four division championships in a dozen seasons as a head coach.

Long has also reportedly discussed the Kansas job with fellow out-of-work coaches Les Miles and DJ Durkin.

“KU fans, you don’t know me very well if you believe the latested [sic] speculation, I attempt to run a very confidential search and I am doing so now,” Long tweeted after the Durkin report went public. “The search is ongoing. Rock Chalk!!”

Mike Gundy rants on ‘liberalism’ and ‘the snowflake’ in question about transfers

Getty Images
15 Comments

On Sunday, Oklahoma State safety Thabo Mwaniki announced his intention to transfer. On Monday, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was asked about his decision, and Gundy had plenty of thoughts about it.

While insisting he’s not talking about Mwaniki specifically, Gundy launched into a soliloquy about “liberalism” and “the snowflake.”

“I’m talking about every millennial young person. Generation Z, I think is what they ‘call em,” Gundy said. “It’s the world we live in because if they say, ‘Well, it’s a little bit hard,’ we say, ‘OK, well, let’s go try something else’ vs. ‘Hey, let’s bear down and let’s fight and do this.’

Here’s the full quote, via The Oklahoman‘s Nathan Ruiz:

Mwaniki is the second Cowboy to announce a transfer during this season. Wideout Jalen McCleskey left the team earlier this year.

By the way, Gundy, who is paid $5 million a year, has attempted to use his post to transfer to similar jobs at Arkansas and Tennessee in order to leverage more money out of Oklahoma State.

Alabama has spent as much time as the AP No. 1 since 2009 as the rest of college football combined

Getty Images
3 Comments

Nick Saban‘s Alabama continues to rack up milestone after milestone. The Crimson Tide are already on a record streak of 11 consecutive seasons with at least one AP No. 1 ranking. They hit win No. 900 a week ago. They’re on record streaks as favorites and wins over unranked opponents.

But on Sunday, with yet another unanimous No. 1 ranking, Alabama hit a milestone that seemed unfathomable. According to SEC Network, Alabama has spent 79 weeks as the AP No. 1 since 2009, which is equal to the number by the rest of the sport combined.

Alabama has been the AP’s No. 1 every week during the 2018 season, and collected 13 of a possible 16 No. 1 rankings. They were No. 1 all throughout the 2016 season until finishing at No. 2. In 2015, Alabama was not the AP No. 1 at all during the season — until knocking off Clemson in the title game to ascend to No. 1.

Dating back to the final poll of the 2015 season, Alabama has been the AP No. 1 in 41 of the last 45 polls.

It’s a level of consistency unmatched in college football, and one that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.