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Houston fires Major Applewhite after two seasons

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Say this about Houston: they mean what they say.

A school whose president bragged about firing Tony Levine for the sin of going 8-4 was upfront from the start they wouldn’t tolerate similar results from Major Applewhite, and now they’re backing it up. The school fired Applewhite on Sunday.

“We’d like to thank Coach Applewhite and his family for their commitment to the success of the Houston Football program over the last four seasons including the last two as our head coach,” said AD Chris Pezman. “After a thorough evaluation of our Football program, it is my assessment our future opportunities for success are better addressed by making this very difficult decision now.

“While the immediate future may be challenging, our future at UH is very bright. We’ve made many sizable improvements over the past five years, and I look forward to enhancing our future success through the hiring of our next head coach.  At this time we have already begun the search process for our next head coach and will not comment further until the search is concluded.”

In taking over for Tom Herman, Applewhite went 7-5 with a Hawaii Bowl loss in his 2017 debut. That led him to hire Kendal Briles as his offensive coordinator, and the move worked — Houston began the year 7-1 and scored at least 41 points in all eight games. The Coogs dropped their next two games but still entered their regular season finale at Memphis with the AAC West Division on the line. With quarterback D’Eriq King injured, Houston lost that game, 52-31, then was demolished 70-14 by Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.

At that point, Applewhite was 15-10 in his two seasons as head coach, below the program’s stated bar.

Furthermore, Briles, who had agreed to the biggest contract for a Group of 5 coordinator in history after Texas State pursued him for its vacant head coaching position, has since left to become the offensive coordinator at Florida State. Rather than rebuild under Applewhite, Houston has opted to hit the reset button.

Reports indicate Dana Holgorsen will be the top candidate to replace Applewhite. You don’t fire an Applewhite to hire, say, Neal Brown.

And if nothing else, Applewhite’s replacement will know what the bar is. Houston will have the corpses of Levine and Applewhite’s tenures as proof what they won’t tolerate.

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.

Nick Saban poaches Florida, NFL to fill holes on Alabama staff

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After spending the last month as the poachee, Nick Saban has turned into the poacher as he looks to retool an Alabama coaching staff ravaged by attrition.

While it’s not yet been confirmed by the football program, multiple media outlets, including al.com, are reporting that Saban will hire Kyle Flood and Sal Sunseri as Crimson Tide assistants.  Flood would take over as offensive line coach for Brent Key, who left for the same job at Georgia Tech, while Sunseri will be taking an unspecified position on the defensive side of the ball.

Flood, the former head coach at Rutgers whose show-cause from the NCAA expired last September, would come to Tuscaloosa from the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, where he spent the past two seasons.  The offensive coordinator of the Falcons during that time, Steve Sarkisian, is expected to return in the same role with the Tide.

Speaking of returns, Sunseri spent the 2009-11 seasons as Saban’s linebacker’s coach and assistant head coach before leaving to take over as the defensive coordinator at Tennessee.  Sunseri just completed his first season as the defensive line coach at Florida.