There are a handful of athletic director openings around the country but you can probably cross off Mitch Barnhart from any of their shortlists.
The Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting that the Kentucky has quietly inked Barnhart to a new contract that includes a significant raise to keep him at the school through at least 2023 and a further option to make it a full six-year deal through 2024.
“Now, more than ever, a sense of stability, continuity and absolute trust in leadership is essential in college athletics,” university President Eli Capilouto said in a statement to the paper.
The new deal will go into effect on Sunday at the start of the new fiscal year and will see Barnhart make a new base salary of $925,000. Bonuses should push that over the seven-figure mark and the base will rise to as much as $1.175 million in the final year.
Barnhart has been at the school since 2002 and, while basketball gets an oversized amount of attention with the Wildcats, has certainly pushed to bring along the football program at UK. Since his arrival, he’s notably hired Mark Stoops and helped bring along a a $126 million stadium renovation and a $45 million football facility.
As a result, it’s safe to say that Kentucky leadership is happy with their AD given the buyout terms the Herald-Leader reports:
The amended contract also includes some hefty penalties for UK if the athletics director is terminated without cause, including paying him $950,000 — on top of his base salary for the remainder of the deal — if he’s fired before 2019. After that, he’d get an additional $550,000 plus his base salary if Barnhart were to be fired without cause.
Given those terms, it’s a little more understandable why the school didn’t publicize the extension more even if they’re quite happy at the work Barnhart has done over the years.
Former Oklahoma State offensive tackle Arlington Hambright is ready for his final season of college football. He’ll play it at Colorado, Hambright announced via Twitter.
“I give all glory and praise to God, without him I would be nothing but I will be spending my last year in Boulder, Colorado playing in the Pac-12 under some GREAT coaches and for [an] amazing University,” Hambright announced, via Twitter. “Now let’s get to work!”
Reports of Hambright potentially transferring from Oklahoma State surfaced earlier this month as the player transfer fun has continued to run wild this offseason. While no specific reason for his reason for transferring has been made public, he will certainly be looking to close out his college football career on a high note. An ankle injury brought an early end to Hambright’s 2018 season after starting the first five games of the season. He did return for the Liberty Bowl against Missouri, but Hambright will look to get in a full season as a potential starter in the Pac-12 this fall.
Coming off one of the most successful seasons in recent memory in Lexington, Kentucky now has a hole to plug on the offensive line. Starting offensive tackle E.J. Price has reportedly left the football program. According to a report from Kentucky Sports Radio, Price will pursue other opportunities and a university spokesperson confirmed he is no longer with the program.
Price transferred to Kentucky from USC in 2017, but it was about a year ago Price suggested he was ready to leave Kentucky too. However, Price stuck with the Wildcats in 2018. He started 11 of 13 games for Kentucky as the Wildcats turned in a 10-win season capped with a victory in the Capital One Bowl against Penn State. It was Kentucky’s first 10-win season since 1977 and their first bowl victory since the 2008 season.
What’s next for Price remains to be seen. He will be required to sit out the 2019 season if he transfers to another FBS program unless he applies for a waiver and receives approval to be eligible in the fall.
As for Kentucky, the spring will open with a starting job up for grabs on the offensive line, although the return of Landon Young from a season-ending injury a year ago should help solidify the efforts up front.
Virginia Tech has promoted director of player development Justin Hamilton to safeties coach, the program announced Monday.
“Justin has more than proven his mettle to our staff over the past year and has earned this opportunity to take the next step in his football career,” head Hokie Justin Fuente said in a statement. “We know how invested Justin is in the continued success of our program. He’s a bright and talented coach who has built a solid rapport with our players and football staff. Coach Foster and I are both excited to expand his responsibilities with our team.”
A former Hokie player himself, Hamilton spent the bulk of this decade coaching at smaller programs in the Commonwealth. He was UVA-Wise’s defensive coordinator from 2011-13 and coached linebackers at VMI from 2014-17.
Hamilton fills a void created by the departure of current safeties coach Tyrone Nix. Virginia Tech officially said goodbye to him on Monday by announcing his departure for Ole Miss, though Ole Miss has yet to say anything as of press time.
Derrick Nix is on staff as Ole Miss’ running backs coach.
Southern Miss reportedly has its offensive coordinator, and the hire is more notable for who it’s not than who it is.
After the fiasco that was Art Briles‘ interview and interview postscript, Golden Eagles head coach Jay Hopson has decided to go with the decidedly uncontroversial choice of Arkansas State offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner, according to FootballScoop. (Full disclosure: I also write for FootballScoop.)
Faulkner spent the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas State, and prior to that spent four in a similar role at Middle Tennessee. Faulkner’s first stint as an offensive coordinator came in 2010 at Murray State, where his Racers offense became the first in FCS history to post a 500-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in the same game.
Faulkner takes over for Shannon Dawson, who was let go and subsequently became the tight ends coach at Houston.
Southern Miss finished No. 109 nationally in yards per play and No. 90 in scoring; the Golden Eagles went 6-5 but did not garner a bowl bid last season. Arkansas State, meanwhile, was No. 31 in yards per play and No. 55 in scoring.