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Georgia Southern tops Eastern Michigan in the Camellia Bowl, sets impressive FBS record in the process

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It’s typically rare for Sun Belt or MAC teams to play on Saturdays as fall turns to winter across the country but the Camellia Bowl delivered a nice weekend treat by pitting a pair of Eagles from each conference together in an excellent postseason matchup on Saturday night. To the surprise of nobody, considering the game involved Eastern Michigan, things were close throughout before Georgia Southern emerged victorious 23-21 to cap off the best season in program history since moving up to the FBS level.

Despite rainy conditions in Montgomery, Alabama throughout most of the game, the option offense was on point for the Eagles from Statesboro. Quarterback Shai Werts was stellar as the trigger-man and rushed for 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns while making several excellent decisions to pitch on the option. That paved the way for his backs Wesley Kennedy III (107 yards), Wesley Fields (91 yards) and Garrett Monteo (37 yards).

Perhaps Georgia Southern’s most impressive feat in the game came on their second drive when they zapped nine minutes and a second off the clock while covering 95 yards on 15 plays. That effort alone played a big role in helping win the time of possession battle in the game and was helped by going 2-of-2 in the red zone as well. Even more eye-opening for the Eagles was the fact that they closed out the 2018 season with just five turnovers, all fumbles, for a mark that is now the fewest in FBS history.

They actually fumbled three times in the Camellia Bowl but didn’t lose a single one to best the previous record mark of eight turnovers according to the ESPN broadcast.

The Eagles from Ypsilanti were in familiar territory playing a close game for approximately the 716th time under head coach Chris Creighton. Eastern Michigan took their only lead of the game with just over three minutes remaining after finishing off an impressive 16 play, 75 yard drive but it wasn’t enough to prevent a game-winning 40 yard field goal at the buzzer from Georgia Southern’s Tyler Bass, who nailed a 50-yarder as time expired in the first half too.

The effort spoiled a heck of a game from EMU Mike Glass, who threw for 204 yards and three scores — the last of which came on fourth down to briefly put the team ahead. Third downs were a problem for the Eagles offense all night as they couldn’t make the most of their limited chances.

While it was the same old story for EMU in just their fourth ever bowl game as a program, things were well, also the same for their opponent as those Eagles moved to a perfect 2-0 in the postseason at the FBS level. The victory in Montgomery also capped off one of the biggest turnarounds in the sport this season after the program went 2-10 a season ago and this year’s 10-3 mark is a new record since moving up from the FCS ranks.

Head coach Chad Lunsford’s name didn’t come up all that often when it came to end of the year honors in 2018 but he probably doesn’t mind all that after seeing his team gut out a comeback victory in the final seconds to make some more history in the process.

Joe Moglia steps down as head coach at Coastal Carolina, Jamey Chadwell promoted as replacement

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Just when you thought the coaching carousel closed the books once again for the offseason, it appears there is at least one more change to make note of heading into the 2019 season. Joe Moglia is stepping down as head coach of Coastal Carolina, the school announced on Friday afternoon. Associate head coach and offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell will take over as the new head coach of the program.

Moglia announced he will stay on as Chairman of Athletics for the remainder of his current contract with the university, which runs through June 2021. Moglia will have executive authority over the football program as well.

“On behalf of the Coastal Carolina University family I want to thank Joe Moglia for all he has done not only to transform our football program, but for his support of the University,” Coastal Carolina University President David DeCenzo said in a released statement. “Joe is one of those individuals who bring such great talent and success to everything he’s touched. He’s taken us to a level that years ago was simply a dream. He leaves the coaching ranks with all the well-deserved accolades; and leaves a Coastal football legacy that is poised for even better accomplishments.”

Moglia took one of the most unique paths to becoming the head coach of the Chanticleers. Moglia left a career in the financial industry when he stepped down as CEO of TD Ameritrade in 2008. He joined Bo Pelini in an assistant coaching role at Nebraska, his first time coaching football since being the defensive coordinator at Dartmouth in 1983. After two years with the Huskers, Moglia was named the head coach of the Omaha Nighthawks of the short-lived UFL in 2011, and he became the head coach at Coastal Carolina in 2012.

Under Moglia’s leadership, Coastal Carolina became a rising power at the FCS level with successive playoff appearances from 2012 through 2015 before making the transition to the FCS in 2016. Coastal Carolina went 10-2 in their transition season before jumping into the Sun Belt Conference in 2017. Moglia, however, took the 2017 season off for medical reasons. Chadwell took on the role of interim head coach for the 2017 season and remained on the staff as associate head coach and offensive coordinator in 2018 after Moglia returned to the sidelines for the program.

With Chadwell as the next head coach of the Coastal Carolina program, there should be a smooth transition with some stability on the coaching staff late in the offseason for coaching changes.

Wisconsin renews contract of Paul Chryst into 2024

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In what has seemingly been an annual tradition in Madison, Wisconsin has renewed the contract of head football coach Paul Chryst by tacking on another year. Chryst is now under contract through Jan. 31, 2024 with his latest renewal following approval from the University of Wisconsin Athletic Board.

Wisconsin renewed Chryst’s contract a year ago, extending his contract through the end of Jan. 2023. Wisconsin and Chryst originally agreed on a contract that was set to expire on Jan. 31, 2020 with a written agreement that the contract may be extended with a positive annual review beginning after the 2015 football season.

The Badgers may be coming off a relatively disappointing season with a record of 8-5, but Chryst has gone 42-12 in his first four seasons as head coach of the Badgers and it is expected Wisconsin will remain a consistent contender in the Big Ten West Division with a shot to play for and win the Big Ten championship in the years to come.

According to the USA Today coaching salary database for the 2018 season, Chryst was paid $3.75 million last season. Specific details of how much Chryst will be paid now were not announced by Wisconsin.

Wisconsin also renewed the contracts of volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield, women’s soccer coach Paula Wilkins, and men’s soccer coach John Trask.

Toledo losing RB Nevone McCrimmon to transfer

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One MAC school will head into the spring with a little less depth in its offensive backfield than they had at the end of the 2018 regular season.

On Twitter this week, Nevone McCrimmon announced that he has decided to transfer from Toledo and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere. In his social-media missive, the running back described leaving UT as “being the hardest decision of my life,” albeit one that he “and my family feels like… is the best decision to make.”

After redshirting as a true freshman, McCrimmon carried the ball nine times for 80 yards in 2017. He totaled 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 carries this past season.

Kent State adds a pair of Power Five transfers

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Thursday was potentially a good day on the personnel front for the Kent State football program.

The school confirmed in a release that it has added a pair of Power Five conference transfers — offensive lineman Bill Kuduk and defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight (pictured). Kuduk, a redshirt freshman, began his collegiate playing career at Kansas State, Knight, a redshirt sophomore, at Maryland.

Neither player is expected to be eligible to play in 2019 as they will be forced to sit out a transfer year as mandated by the NCAA.

“We are excited to add an exceptional person in Bill to our FlashFAST Family,” second-year head coach Sean Lewis said in a statement. “He comes from a great high school on the south side of Chicago and knows what it takes to win. His athletic ability and size will be a great addition to our O-line room. …

“Q is another high character individual who is going to be a great member of our family. He brings collegiate game experience with him and will add a lot of position versatility to our back-end.”

Knight played in 10 games as a true freshman in 2016 and a dozen the following season. He saw action in just four games this past season before deciding to transfer in November of last year.

Kuduk didn’t see the field during his brief time with the Wildcats.