With Florida officially on the market for a new head coach of the football program, it has not taken too long for the rumor mill to get moving. The Florida gig figures to see a number of familiar names attached to it during the rumor season, some more realistic options than others. This is also a time to never take anything for granted but also a time not to place too much faith in every little thing you read. With that in mind, Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin took to Twitter to confront one rumor head on.
Houston radio personality Marc Ryan shared an update on his Twitter feed claiming Florida has reached out to representatives for former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, former Oregon, and NFL head coach Chip Kelly and current USF head coach Charlie Strong to speak about the open posiiton in Gainesville. According to Ryan, he says these are the top three options on the wish list for Florida.
On the surface, it would make sense for a school like Florida to contact these coaches. One is a former coach with a national championship to his name. The other was one of the top coaches in the Pac-12 before taking a stab at the NFL (and failing miserably, but so did former Florida coach Steve Spurrier). And the last one is a former Florida assistant who has redeemed his coaching pedigree a bit this season at USF, one of the top Group of Five contenders right in the state of Florida.
But just as this is the time of the year to spread coaching rumors on the internet, it is also denial season from ADs and other school officials. And Stricklin certainly had quite the denial ready to go once he saw this one making the rounds.
The quote by Edgar Allen Poe comes from a short story, “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether,” that originally was published in a November 1845 issue of Graham’s Magazine. Even if the original report from Twitter has any validity, this is exactly what you would expect an AD to say regarding his coaching search. But at least he had some fun with it by pulling a classic quote from a literary master.
As we continue our annual plunge into the offseason, the East Carolina football program is the latest FBS school that has an off-field issue with which to deal.
According to multiple media outlets in the area, ECU offensive lineman Cortez Herrin was arrested late Saturday night on a pair of charges. Herrin is facing one felony count of possession with the intent to sell or distribute. He’s also facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
The details of what led up to the arrest haven’t yet been divulged.
What is known is that the East Carolina football program has suspended the starting lineman as the situation begins to make its way through the legal system.
“We are aware of the matter concerning Cortez Herrin,” East Carolina football head coach Mike Houston said in a statement. “He has been suspended indefinitely from all football activities as we continue to gather information.”
When healthy, Herrin has been a part-time or full-time starter at left guard for ECU the past three seasons.
In 2018, Houston started all 12 games for the Pirates. He made five starts in 2017 as well. A knee injury in 2019 helped limit him to five starts.
The news of Herrin’s arrest comes amidst an upheaval in Houston’s coaching staff.
Once again, the Indiana Hoosiers football coaching staff is whole.
Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers announced the additions of two assistant coaches for Tom Allen. Jason Jones will serve as safeties coach, while Kevin Wright will coach tight ends.
Allen and Jones have a prior working relationship, having served on the same coaching staff at Ole Miss.
“I have so much respect for Jason,” the Indiana Hoosiers football head coach said in a statement. “I was fortunate to work with him for two seasons at Ole Miss. He has worked in the SEC and the Big 12, and he was a part of one of the top defenses in the country last year. Jason’s a great football coach and is the kind of husband, father and man I want in this program.”
Last year, Jones was the cornerbacks coach at Florida Atlantic.
“I am so thankful to Coach Allen for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great staff,” Jones said. “IU impressed me so much last season, and I can’t wait to contribute to even more success. I am excited and ready to get to work.”
Wright is a 20-year coaching veteran, with 13 of those years in the state of Indiana and the last five at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“I’ve known Kevin for many, many years” Allen said. “He’s been one of the most successful high school coaches in the country and has done a tremendous job working with some of the top talent in the country at IMG. Kevin allows us to expand our recruiting base and continue our success in the state of Florida. He’s a great fit for our program in so many ways, and we are excited to welcome Kevin and his family to IU.”
These hirings came a month after a new seven-year deal for Allen was announced.
The North Carolina football program is the latest to dip into the FCS ranks for some talent. Placekicker talent, but still.
Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina football program announced that Grayson Atkins is transferring to the Tar Heels. Atkins spent the past three seasons at Furman.
According to UNC, Atkins will graduate from the FCS school in the spring. He’ll then join the North Carolina football program in the summer.
As a graduate transfer, Atkins will have one season of eligibility remaining.
Below are Atkins’ particulars, as relayed by UNC’s release:
An Inman, S.C. native, Atkins converted on 33-of-41 field goal attempts and 132-of-138 PAT attempts during his three seasons at Furman. He earned first-team All-America honors as a junior and second-team honors as a sophomore. Atkins was also named All-Southern Conference twice. His 231 career points rank 10th on Furman’s career scoring list and fifth on the kick scoring list. Combining the end of his junior season and the beginning of his senior season, Atkins made 18 consecutive field goals, which is a Furman and Southern Conference record.
As a junior in 2019, Atkins earned first-team AFCA FCS Coaches’ All-America honors to go along with All-America honors form the Associated Press and STATS FCS. He converted on 13-of-15 field goal attempts and 48-of-50 PATs. Atkins made all six field-goal attempts under 40 yards and went 7-of-9 on attempts from 40 or more yards including a 55-yarder. In addition to his first-team All-SoCon honors as a placekicker, Atkins earned second-team accolades as a punter after averaging 43.5 yards per punt.
This past season, sophomore Noah Ruggles made all 45 of his extra-point attempts for the Tar Heels. He also hit on just 19 of his 27 field-goal attempts.
This development involving a now-former Florida Gators football player flew under our radar last week, so we’ll rectify that with an early-morning post to start this work week.
Chris Bleich started eight of the first nine games at right guard for Florida this past season, with the lone start he missed being due to blisters on his foot. However, the redshirt freshman had begun to lose playing time due to performance even as he maintained the starting job in name.
With his grip on the position loosening, though, Bleich decided to take his leave of the Gators in early November. Florida Gators football head coach Dan Mullen subsequently confirmed the departure. Mullen also confirmed that unspecified family issues at home triggered the decision.
In the latest Bleich development, Syracuse announced late this past week that the lineman has been added to the Orange’s roster. In its release, the football program stated that “Bleich must sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer regulations unless granted immediate eligibility.”
It’s expected that Bleich will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this coming season.
Bleich was a three-star member of Florida’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania. The 6-6, 330-pound lineman played in just four games as a true freshman, and was able to preserve a year of eligibility by taking a redshirt that season.
If Bleich is granted a waiver, he’ll have three seasons to play three years. If not, he’ll sit out 2020 and then have two years of eligibility starting in 2021.