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Utah State boosters may get their way with Gary Andersen as head coach

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Utah State’s search for a replacement for Matt Wells could be crossing the finish line soon with a familiar face. Gary Andersen, the former Utah State coach, is reportedly the favorite to land the job of some boosters with significant influence on the program. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic suggested donors could have their way via Twitter on Friday night, and a report published by Steven Godfrey of SB Nation Saturday morning shares a similar tone.

Andersen, who was previously mentioned as a strong possibility to return to Utah State following the departure of Wells to Texas Tech is currently an assistant head coach and defensive assistant at Utah, a job he took this year. After coaching at Utah State from 2009 through 2012 as the head coach, following four seasons as defensive coordinator prior to that, Andersen accepted a head coaching offer at Wisconsin and coached the Badgers for two seasons. His final game with the Badgers was the 2014 Big Ten championship game, when Wisconsin was squashed by College Football Playoff-bound and eventual national champion Ohio State. Andersen left the Badgers to coach Oregon State, where a three-year run was cut short in early October 2017 as Andersen agreed to leave the remaining $12 million owed to him on his contract on the table. That was later explained by texts in which Andersen threw some assistants under the bus.

Given his previous experience at Utah State, it stands to reason the Aggies and Andersen could potentially benefit from having a comfort level with each other. Anderson won just four games in each of his first two seasons as the head coach at Utah State in 2009 and 2010 but the Aggies grew to win seven games in 2011 and completed an impressive 11-2 season in 2012 that culminated with a victory in the Potato Bowl. It was the first bowl victory for the program since winning the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl as a member of the Big West and just the second bowl victory in program history.

But considering the suggestions Utah State had a good list of potential candidates for the job still to work through, reportedly including Rich Rodriguez, Matt Canada and Mark Helfrich according to SB Nation, it is interesting to see the boosters essentially convince the university to bring the search to a close with Andersen as the front man. Perhaps Andersen would have been seen as the top candidate at the end of the search anyway, but to not even go through with interviews for some notable names is a surprising development.

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

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A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.