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Arkansas State follows through, sues Miami over canceled game

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It’s officially on, legally, between Arkansas State and Miami.

Earlier this week it was reported that Arkansas State was threatening to sue Miami over the latter failing to play a scheduled game last year in Jonesboro amidst Hurricane Irma.  With a Thursday deadline coming and going without UM paying ASU damages being sought, the Sun Belt school followed through on the threat, with the Associated Press confirming that ASU has filed a lawsuit against UM in Craighead County (Ark.) District Court late Friday afternoon.

Prior to filing the suit, ASU athletic director Terry Mohajir had reached out to his counterpart at UM, Blake James, about rescheduling the game for either the 2020 or 2021 seasons, years in which the Hurricanes have available dates.  James responded, per the suit, that they could only reschedule the Jonesboro game during the 2024-28 seasons.

According to FBSchedules.com, The U has just two non-conference games scheduled for the 2020 season.  Miami’s argument against rescheduling the game for that season is that the dates they fill need to be played at home.  The lawsuit claims that Miami has “refused to timely and reasonably reschedule the game in years in which it has openings.”

Arkansas State is seeking $650,000 in damages as a result of a breach of contract. “This action also seeks compensatory damages, liquidated damages for UM’s breach of contract, and attorney’s fees and costs,” the suit states, adding, “The contract provides that ‘failure of a party to participate in the Game will constitute a material breach of the Agreement that will cause the other party significant disruption and damages.'”

The lawsuit also delves into the other FBS teams, primarily from the state of Florida, whose games were impacted by the hurricane that same weekend.

47. Three teams in the Florida and Georgia area still played their football games scheduled for the weekend of Hurricane Irma. Florida International University played its scheduled home game against Alcorn State in Birmingham, Alabama. Georgia Southern University also played its scheduled home game against the University of New Hampshire in Birmingham, Alabama. Florida Atlantic University played its away game against the University of Wisconsin with a delayed return back to Florida.

48. Three additional teams canceled their scheduled games, but rescheduled for the same season. Florida State played its rescheduled game against the University of Louisiana Monroe on December 2, 2017. The University of South Florida played a rescheduled game against the University of Connecticut on November 4, 2017. And the University of Central Florida played its rescheduled game against the University of Memphis on September 30, 2017.

49. The seventh team, the University of Florida, canceled its game against the University of Northern Colorado, and because the game could not be rescheduled due to conflicting schedules, Northern Colorado received a buyout for the game.

50. Upon belief, UM is the only FBS school to fail to play its scheduled game in accordance with its contract, timely reschedule its canceled game, or pay the buyout or liquidated damages under the contract.

51. Additionally, UM and Florida State immediately rescheduled their September 16, 2017 football game for October 7, 2017.

Report: Despite USC hiring, Kliff Kingsbury could be an NFL head coaching target

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One of the more surprising moves of the 2018-19 coaching market, at least to me, was Kliff Kingsbury agreeing to become USC’s offensive coordinator.

The former Texas Tech head coach agreed to the job a week and a half after his firing, knowing Clay Helton could be out of a job after 2019 and before the chance NFL teams could truly inquire about his interest. He’s now officially a USC employee, but that hasn’t stopped NFL teams from sniffing, according to FOX’s Jay Glazer.

In a Sunday morning report, Glazer said NFL teams, in their never-ending hunt to copy whoever won the previous Sunday, are looking for the next next Sean McVay now that the first next McVay, John DeFlilippo, has lost his lost his job as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator — and that choice could indeed be Kingsbury.

“Teams were actually looking at his USC contract to see if maybe (they) could lure him before he really starts,” Glazer said.

Kingsbury himself said he drew interest from McVay himself, telling Dan Patrick he was “close” to joining the Rams.

It would be wild for a coach fired for going 35-40 in six seasons at his alma mater to immediately ascend to an NFL head coaching post, but even more wild for a USC offensive coordinator job to be in between those two stops.

Still, it seems incredibly unlikely for that to happen — for obvious reasons.

And if Kingsbury’s USC buyout (which is unknown, due to USC’s status as a private school) keeps him from a possible NFL head coaching job, well, there are worse consolations than living in Los Angeles as Kliff Kingsbury.

NC State hires former Duke, Florida OC as QBs coach

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NC State has hired Kurt Roper as its quarterbacks coach, the program announced Monday. He will replace Eli Drinkwitz, who left to become the head coach at Appalachian State.

The program announced Friday that running backs coach Des Kitchings and wide receivers coach George McDonald will replace Drinkwitz as co-offensive coordinators.

“I’m excited that Des and George will have the opportunity to oversee and develop our offense,” NC State head coach Dave Doeren said Friday. “They have a great working relationship and respect for each other and their familiarity with our offense will provide us with great continuity for our players and recruits.”

Roper arrives in Raleigh after spending the 2018 season as the quarterbacks coach at Colorado, where he was not retained after Mike MacIntyre‘s firing.

David Cutcliffe disciple, this will mark Roper’s fifth job after leaving Cutcliffe’s Duke staff after the 2013 season — where he had held the same job as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the previous six seasons. Roper left Durham to become Florida’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2014, where Will Muschamp was ultimately fired that fall. He found refuge as an offensive analyst for the Cleveland Browns in 2015, then re-united with Muschamp as South Carolina’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2016. That lasted only two years, when Roper was told to leave and found employment at Colorado, where he again got in for the final year of an outgoing coaching staff.

“My family and I are thrilled about coming to NC State as a part of Coach Doeren’s staff,” said Roper. “Working for a great coach at a great university with an unbelievable fan base is a great opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”

Here’s hoping Roper’s arrival does not portend a similar fate for Doeren and company.

Brian Kelly named AP Coach of the Year

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Two years after going 4-8, Brian Kelly is the best coach in college football.

The Notre Dame head coach was named the AP Coach of the Year on Monday, the second time he has won such an award. Kelly was named the AP Coach of the Year in 2012 after leading the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 regular season and an appearance in the BCS National Championship, and now has won the honor again after posting another undefeated regular season, putting the Irish into the College Football Playoff against Clemson in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.

In between those undefeated regular seasons, Kelly went 9-4 in 2013, 8-5 in ’14, 10-3 in ’15, 4-8 in ’16 and 10-3 last season. Now in his ninth season at Notre Dame, Kelly has collected an 81-34 record with four AP top-25 finishes and a fifth on the way.

“I think I’m a better leader of our program,” Kelly told AP of his growth since the 2016 season. “The organization has gotten so much bigger. The ability to create the right energy and day-to-day culture is difficult. I think I’ve gotten a lot better a leading that large group on a day-to-day basis.”

The award is Kelly’s 10th different national coach of the year honor. He was named the Division II Coach of the Year in 2002 and ’03 at Grand Valley State, won the Home Depot Coach of the Year award at Cincinnati in 2009 and has now collected seven different national honors in his nine seasons in South Bend.

Like with the Heisman Trophy, AP Coach of the Year voters select three choices, ranked in descending order. Twelve different coaches garnered at least one first-place vote and 19 different coaches earned at least one total vote. Kelly received 81 total points and 16 first-place votes, tied with Alabama’s Nick Saban, who came in second with 66 total points. UCF’s Josh Heupel placed third with 33 total points and five first-place votes.

Emails show Florida AD Scott Stricklin, UCF AD Danny White hashing out a possible football series

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At some point in the Great UCF Debate of 2017-18, the burden switched from the exclusioners to the excluded. Actually, saying “at some point” doesn’t accurately tell the story, because we all know what the point was that made the worm turn.

When UCF (smartly) declared itself the 2017 national champion, feathers were ruffled across the country, but mostly in the SEC — home of the actual 2017 national champions. Most seemed to recognize it as something of a publicity stunt, but those in the South reacted to the move somewhere on the scale from annoyed to offended.

(There’s a sociology study to be had here about how fans across every sport root for Cinderella except college football fans, who seem to resent their sport’s underdogs, but that’s a blog post for another day.)

Florida head coach Dan Mullen told reporters earlier this month that Florida would be open to a 2-for-1 with UCF, prompting UCF AD Andy Seeley to tweet that no concrete offer was ever made.

However, on Monday the Orlando Sentinel published emails between UCF AD Danny White and Florida AD Scott Stricklin, where the two hash out the prospect of future games between the Knights and Gators.

In the emails, White requests a home-and-home or a neutral site game with Florida, but Stricklin says any games would have to be a 2-for-1 series.

“UF isn’t in the market for home-and-home or a neutral site games against non-Autonomy 5 opponents,” Stricklin wrote. “However, we would be open to a series similar to what we’ve agreed to with USF … two games in Gainesville and one in Orlando. We are in need of a home opener for the 2022 season, so the 9/3/2022 date you mention would be a perfect date to begin the series, and we can fill in the remaining games from there.”

White, who seemed to be writing for an audience other than Stricklin, replied in part:

… Requiring non-autonomy 5 schools to have to settle for inequitable scheduling seems like an unfair business practice and something we should all address at a high level,” White wrote. “If this type of scheduling is what is required for teams like UCF to make the final 4 of the CFP (College Football Playoff), we must consider expansion of the playoff to include non-autonomy 5 schools so we avoid the system operating like a monopoly. I am open to playing anyone in the country, but shouldn’t have to put my team at a severe disadvantage by being forced to play two for ones or guarantee games.

“The system should be such that we can schedule home and homes. As someone who sits on the CFP Committee, I am asking for your help in fixing a broken model by expanding the playoff and putting an end to unfair scheduling practices.”

Much like Batman, White has instituted a blanket “No 2-for-1s” policy in the face of common sense. Perhaps it wouldn’t make sense for UCF to play a 2-for-1 with, say, Iowa, but a 2-for-1 with their state’s flagship school would be beneficial for the Knights. Their fans would see their team play in an SEC stadium twice and then drive home afterward, while also getting Florida in Orlando.

It may not be strictly fair, but as a wise man once said: “It’s called, ‘The way it is.'”

UCF has played Florida twice all-time, not since 2006 and never in Orlando.

If the ultimate goal is to make the Playoff, getting Florida on their schedule three times would unquestionably help toward that end.

And yeah, it’s not a written offer and it’s not a level playing field, but it’s still a good offer for UCF. White and company should hop on it or hear any future complaints fall on deaf ears.