Associated Press

Utah State bowls over North Texas in New Mexico

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As if there was ever any doubt, players are more important than coaches in college football. Despite the fact Matt Wells and the majority of his coaching staff bailed early, Utah State rolled over an overmatched and undermanned North Texas team, cruising to a 52-13 win in the New Mexico Bowl presented by Progressive.

The win was a fitting close to one of the best seasons in school history for Utah State. The Aggies (11-2) tied a school record for wins and will likely become the fourth team in school history to finish the season ranked in the AP poll, joining John Ralston‘s 1960-61 teams that went a combined 18-3-1 and former and future head coach Gary Andersen‘s 2012 squad that also went 11-2.

The points started early for the Aggies, finding pay dirt on their third play of the game — a 72-yard strike from Jordan Love to Aaren Vaughns — and ripped off 31 unanswered points over the first and second quarters to break the game open for good.

In addition to the 72-yarder to open the game, Utah State scored touchdowns from 26, 37 and 67 yards in the first half (plus another score on a 10-play, 78-yard drive), as the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense played to its paper throughout the day. Love completed 21-of-43 passes for 361 yards with four touchdowns (plus one rushing) and an interception inside the UNT end zone that robbed him of a sixth score, while Gerold Bright and Darwin Thompson combined to rush 37 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, the Aggies rolled up 556 yards of total offense — 360 of them in the first half.

As the score indicates, the game was a complete nightmare for North Texas. The Mean Green entered the game without leading receiver Rico Bussey (1,017 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns) and played the majority of the day without franchise quarterback Mason Fine. Visibly hobbled by a bum hamstring, Fine threw only 12 passes and left the game in the second quarter when he had to limp his way to recover an errant snap — a theme for UNT during the game — near his own goal line.

Fine was replaced by senior backup Quinn Shanbour, who completed 2-of-8 passes for 24 yards with three interceptions. Shanbour was replaced by freshman Jason Bean, whose only completion in his two passes was to Utah State safety DJ Williams, setting up a field goal on the final play of the half that pushed UNT’s deficit to 38-7.

Fellow freshman Kason Martin played the bulk of the second half, and hit Jalen Guyton for a 75-yard touchdown on his first pass. After that throw, Martin went 6-of-11 for 36 yards.

The loss served as a bitter end to a bittersweet season for North Texas. Though the Mean Green (9-4) increased or matched their win total for the third time in as many seasons under Seth Littrell, North Texas saw three double-digit leads turn into losses and then closed with a second consecutive bowl loss in which the opponent hit half a hundred, following a 50-30 loss to Troy in the 2017 New Orleans Bowl.

WR Donald Stewart makes it a full dozen players from Stanford in the Transfer Portal

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Would the last one left on the Farm, please turn out the lights?

As noted by 247Sports’ Transfer Tracker, Stanford senior receiver Donald Stewart has entered his name into the portal and is exploring a move out of Palo Alto. While that name doesn’t ring a bell for most, it should be ringing alarm bells for David Shaw and his coaching staff given that the wideout is the 12th Cardinal player to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal.

Yup, a full dozen. And this isn’t a school all that well equipped to lose players period given the academic restrictions at play — much less 12 of them.

It’s been a steady parade of names too. Offensive lineman Devery Hamilton was added on Thursday, senior QB Jack Richardson on Wednesday and offensive guard Henry Hattis the day prior. They are far from the only ones but it’s the pace and overall amount that has to be concerning if you’re a fan of the program.

Shaw has been vocal in his criticism of many NCAA rules over the years and saved some of it for the portal earlier this season at Pac-12 Media Day in late July.

“The recruiting machine in college football right now I think is very misleading. That’s the reason why we have so many guys that transfer,” said Shaw. “They don’t know who they are, and they’re picking colleges for the wrong reasons, and they get to the college and they get to their first bump in the road, they’re third string as a freshman and say I shouldn’t be third string, I’m going someplace else, instead of saying, hey, I chose this college. This is where I want to go to school and play football. So if I’m not starting, that’s on me to work my way up on the ladder as I’m going to the school I wanted to go to.”

Shaw’s words now carry quite a bit of extra meaning given how they’re now impacting his roster in a rather unprecedented way this offseason.

Kentucky assistant Dean Hood named head coach at FCS Murray State

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Mark Stoops’ coaching job this season was one of the more impressive you’ll see given the number of key injuries the team suffered throughout 2019 but the Wildcats head coach will have to deal with losing one key assistant who is returning to the FCS ranks.

UK special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach Dean Hood was named on Friday as the next head coach of Murray State football, an FCS program at the other end of the state.

“Dean Hood is a man of character and integrity who possesses a tremendous work ethic and unique ability to advance our football program,” AD Kevin Saal said in a release. “I look forward to partnering with him to accomplish our shared vision for the program…to develop leaders of character, competence and consequence, for football and 40+ years of life beyond football.  Murray State University is honored to welcome Dean, Crystal, Trey, Daven, Jada and Cordia to their new home in Murray; a community that I know welcomes the Hood Family with open arms, supporting hearts and a true passion for the future success of Racer Athletics.”

Hood is no stranger to the Racers on the field as he spent several years at another OVC school in Eastern Kentucky as head coach. He linked up with Stoops in 2017 and has produced plenty of impactful results between the lines, including punter Max Duffey just recently being named the Ray Guy Award winner as the nation’s best at the position.

Steve Clinkscale also handles defensive backs for Kentucky but Hood’s loss in the third phase of the game is pretty notable given how well most of his units have performed in recent years. It will be interesting to see what direction Stoops goes but he can at least be excited at one of his former assistants returning to the FCS level as head coach.

Appalachian State confirms no interim tag for Shawn Clark, ex-Mountaineers OL gets five year deal to be head coach

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Eli Drinkwitz surprise departure from Boone after just one season has led to a rather expected move to fill his shoes with somebody who definitely won’t be bolting the school that soon.

Confirming reports from earlier in the week, Appalachian State has officially removed any sort of interim tag from Shawn Clark and give him the permanent position with a five year deal as head coach.

“It’s a great day to be a Mountaineer,” Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said in a statement. “We are thrilled to announce Shawn Clark as our new head coach. He’s been a great leader for us since the day he returned to his alma mater. He has experience at both Power Five and Group of Five schools and is highly respected among his peers, his players, on campus and in the community. His experience as a leader, play-caller and recruiter will help us to continue to raise our football program to new heights.”

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime to be named the head football coach at my alma mater, the school that I love so much,” Clark added. “I would like to thank Chancellor Everts, the Board of Trustees and Doug Gillin for entrusting me with this great responsibility. I am excited to keep pushing our players to greatness on and off the field and to work with a great coaching staff to win championships. My family and I are grateful to stay in Boone and keep pushing this program to new heights.”

Clark has been the offensive line coach at his alma mater the past four years under both Drinkwitz and Scott Sartterfield before both moved onto Power Five gigs.

The 44-year-old Clark was part of staffs at Louisville, Eastern Kentucky, Purdue and Kent State as well before returning to Boone, where he was an offensive lineman on some of the program’s powerhouse teams back in the mid-1990’s.

Clark’s first game fully in charge will come on Dec. 21 in the New Orleans Bowl against UAB — a spot he’s pretty familiar with having served as the interim offensive coordinator for the team’s game at the Superdome in 2018. That resulted in a blowout win that no doubt played a role in him getting the full time gig just a year later and AppState fans have to hope for similar results as Clark takes the field this time around as head coach.

Reports: Barry Odom isn’t leaving the SEC — nor the Ozarks — for next coaching gig

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Recently fired Missouri head coach Barry Odom was expected to find work quickly after being dumped by his alma mater and thus was rumored to be up for just about every defensive coordinator gig at Power Five schools all over the country.

As it turns out, Odom does not appear to be leaving the SEC — nor even the Ozarks — for his next stop. According to both FootballScoop and The Athletic, Arkansas is zeroing in on hiring him as Sam Pittman’s first defensive coordinator.

Odom was the head coach of the Tigers for four seasons after being elevated from being their DC to take over for longtime stalwart Gary Pinkel in 2016. He spent three seasons as Memphis’ coordinator under Justin Fuente as well and served a number of different off the field roles in Columbia prior to that. The Oklahoma native knows the region quite well and was widely associated with helping turn around Mizzou when he was a linebacker and team captain in the late 1990’s.

He takes over for John Chavis, who was one of Chad Morris’ first big hires when he first took over in Fayetteville. The ‘Chief’ as he is known, was paid a hefty salary after coming over from a stint at Texas A&M but failed to produce the kind of turnaround that could have kept Morris around as head coach, with the Razorbacks ranking No. 124 this past season in scoring defense — statistically the worst Power Five unit in the country.

With Morris now serving as Auburn’s new offensive coordinator, it’s pretty clear that in the SEC, there’s plenty of soft landings available for coaches who get the axe at the end of the year — and we’re not even getting into the buyout life either.