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Maryland hires Alabama OC Mike Locksley as next head coach

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For the third straight year (Brian DabollSteve Sarkisian), and the fourth time overall in that span (Lane Kiffin), Nick Saban will be forced to replace his offensive coordinator in the coming weeks.

Over the weekend, reports emerged that Mike Locksley was one of the front-runners for the open Maryland head-coaching job.  Tuesday night, the university confirmed that the Alabama coordinator has been hired as the Terrapins new head football coach.

Michigan quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator Pep Hamilton and Maryland interim head coach/offensive coordinator Matt Canada were also finalists for the job.

“I am thrilled to be returning home and to have the opportunity to lead the Maryland Football program,” said Locksley in a statement. “This has always been a special place for me and my family, and I am honored to take on this role at the state’s flagship institution. Our goal is to create an atmosphere and environment focused on the total development of our student-athletes. Our focus will always be to help them become more successful in all areas of their life through their association with our program.

“I have been tremendously impressed at how the team came together through a difficult season and honored their fallen teammate, Jordan. We are all in this together, and I look forward to rejoining the Maryland family. Thank you to Damon Evans, President Loh and the entire Terrapin community for this opportunity.

The hiring of Locksley, in his first season as the top-ranked Tide’s coordinator and third year overall with the program, certainly serves as a homecoming.  After a playing career at Towson State, Locksley served two different stints with the Terps — 1997-2002 as running backs coach/running-game coordinator and 2012-15 as coordinator/running backs coach.  He also was named as interim head coach when Randy Edsall was fired in October of 2015.

From 2009 through the first four games of the 2011 season, Locksley was the head coach at New Mexico, although that tenure ended abruptly as a result of the culmination of controversies HEREHERE and HERE as well as a 2-26 record.

Tuesday afternoon, Locksley was named as the 2018 recipient of the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

“As we narrowed the search for the individual best suited to lead our program, Michael not only stood out for his talent as a coach, but most importantly for the role he has played as a mentor to student-athletes throughout his career and his deep commitment to helping them grow into leaders on and off the field,” a statement from athletic director Damon Evans began. “On the field, Michael orchestrated one of the country’s most prolific offenses at the University of Alabama and has long been regarded for his recruiting prowess. Today he was recognized as the nation’s top assistant coach in the country, and I’m excited for him to be leading our program.”

Wager this: Odds for the opening Saturday of the 2018-19 college football bowl season

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Fresno State has been covering as a favorite of late, while bowl opponent Arizona State has troubling trends both against the Mountain West and at this time of the year.

The Fresno State Bulldogs, with Marcus McMaryion behind center and a stout defense, are 4.5-point favorites against the Arizona State Sun Devils with a 53.5-point total on the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl odds on Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Bulldogs go into the game at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas with a record of 4-4 against the spread over their last 18 games, That sample includes an 8-3 against the spread (ATS) record as a favorite this season. The Sun Devils are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games in December and are also 1-6 ATS in their last seven games against the Mountain West.

Fresno State has had the total go under in five consecutive games with an average total of 41.6. Arizona State will not have star wide receiver N'Keal Harry, who is sitting out to avoid injury before the NFL draft, so the Sun Devils might have issues finishing drives against the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense.

Elsewhere on the opening weekend of the college football bowl season:

TULANE (6-6) vs. LOUISIANA (7-6)
The Tulane Green Wave are 3.5-point favorites at sports betting sites against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns with a 59-point total in the AutoNation Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. In a matchup of run-first offenses, it’s notable that the Green Wave allows a full yard less per carry than their Cajun counterparts. Tulane has not covered in its last three games, but is 8-2 ATS after consecutive ATS losses. The total has gone UNDER in five of Tulane’s last six games, with an average combined score of 51.83 points.

UTAH STATE (10-2) vs. NORTH TEXAS (9-3)
The Utah State Aggies are 7.5-point favorites against the North Texas Mean Green with a 68-point total on the New Mexico Bowl odds at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque. Utah State will be operating without coach Matt Wells, who has left for Texas Tech, and could be thrown off. On paper, Aggies quarterback Jordan Love leads a potent offense and Utah State is also 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games as a favorite of 7 to 10 points. North Texas, which can also score in bunches with Mason Fine at quarterback, is 0-5 ATS in its last five games.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN (9-3) vs. EASTERN MICHIGAN (7-5)
The Georgia Southern Eagles are 2.5-point favorites against the Eastern Michigan Eagles with a 47.5-point total in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. Georgia Southern and quarterback Shai Werts use the triple-option, which could negate the influence of Eastern Michigan’s fifth-ranked pass defense and leave it vulnerable in the ground game. The total has gone OVER in five of Georgia Southern’s last six games.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (8-5) vs. APPALACHIAN STATE (10-2)
The Appalachian State Mountaineers are 6.5-point favorites against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders with a 50-point total on the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl odds at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Appalachian State is also under interim leadership, with Mark Ivey filling in, and the Mountaineers’ offense relies heavily on running back Darrynton Evans. Middle Tennessee, thanks to senior quarterback Brent Stockstill, has a decided edge in the passing game and is 6-1 SU and 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven games against Sun Belt teams. The total has gone UNDER in four of Appalachian State’s last five games.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com

Tua Tagovailoa named Polynesian College Football Player of the Year

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Tua Tagovailoa may have lost out on the most famous trophy in college football, but he has claimed one that honors his heritage.

Thursday, the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced that Tagovailoa has been named as that organization’s Polynesian College Football Player of the Year.  The release states that “[t]he Award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity,” and has been handed out annually since 2014.

The Hawaiian-born Alabama quarterback was the runner-up in the 2018 Heisman Trophy voting and earned consensus All-American status earlier this week.  The true sophomore was also named as the Walter Camp Player of the Year as well as the Maxwell Award winner.

“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate Tua on a historic season,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame chairman Jesse Sapolu in a statement. “He is a tremendous role model and a source of great pride for Polynesians everywhere.”

Other finalists for this year’s award were Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa, Notre Dame defensive back Alohi Gilman, Oklahoma offensive lineman Dru Samia and Hawaii wide receiver John Ursua.

Last year’s winner was defensive end Hercules Mata’afa of Washington State.

Mark Richt praises Manny Diaz as Miami DC officially leaves to take over at Temple

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Mark Richt has officially lost control of the defensive coordinator position on his Miami coaching staff, and now has a rather sizable hole to fill as a result.

It emerged earlier this week that, after interviewing for the Temple opening Monday, Manny Diaz had emerged as the front-runner for the Owls job.  Thursday, Temple confirmed that the Miami defensive coordinator has indeed been named as the program’s new head football coach.

Diaz replaces Geoff Collins, who left earlier this month for the same job at Georgia Tech.

Below is Richt’s statement on the departure:

This morning defensive coordinator Manny Diaz informed me that he has accepted the head coach position at Temple University. Throughout the process, Manny had been very transparent about the opportunity with both myself and Blake James.

“In his three years in Coral Gables, Manny proved to be one of the top assistant coaches in the country and did an unbelievable job leading our defense. I have no doubt that he will experience great success as a head coach and we wish him, Steph, Colin, Gavin and Manny all of the best.

“We have launched a national search for a new defensive coordinator and we have already received great interest from around the country. Our football program, our university and our facilities are among the best in the country, and coaches want to be a part of something special. Our coaches are on the road recruiting the next generation of Canes and I am excited about the young men scheduled to sign with us next week. Together, we are building champions!

Diaz spent the past three seasons as the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator.  He also served as The U’s linebackers coach during that stretch.

The 44-year-old Diaz has also spent time as a coordinator at Mississippi State (2015 and 2010), Louisiana Tech (2014), Texas (2011-13) and Middle Tennessee State (2006-09).  This will mark the Florida State graduate’s first job as a head coach at any level.

Les Miles bringing nation’s No. 1 JUCO QB to Kansas

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Unlike the majority of his time at LSU, maybe Les Miles — and his offensive coaching staff — will be able to get something out of this quarterback?

In a missive posted to Twitter earlier this week, Thomas MacVittie announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Miles at Kansas. “Coach Les Miles, [offensive coordinator] Chip Lindsey and the staff at Kansas, I am ready to join the Kansas family and win a Big XII title,” MacVittie wrote in the tweet.

As a transfer from the junior college ranks, MacVittie will be eligible to play immediately for the Jayhawks in 2019.  Counting this coming season, the quarterback has two years of eligibility remaining.

247Sports.com rates MacVittie as the No. 1 JUCO quarterback — pro-style, dual-threat or otherwise — in this year’s class.  On the recruiting website’s composite board, he’s the No. 3 pro-style quarterback at that level of football.

MacVittie was originally a three-star Pitt 2016 signee who was the highest-rated recruit on the offensive side of the ball for the Panthers that year.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in three games in 2017 — on special teams — and didn’t attempt a pass before deciding to transfer from Pitt in December of 2017.

MacVittie’s 2018 season was spent at Mesa Community College in Arizona.