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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.

Toledo announces future three-game series with Kentucky

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How about a little Power Five-Group of Five scheduling news to start off your Wednesday morning?

This week, Toledo announced that it has reached an agreement on a future three-game series with Kentucky, which is essentially a home-and-home plus a one-off.  The two schools will play in Lexington during the 2025 and 2028 seasons, with the Wildcats traveling to the Glass Bowl in 2027.

Specific dates for those matchups, which will be the first-ever between the school, weren’t divulged.

“We are very pleased to enter in this three-game series with the University of Kentucky,” said UT athletic director Mike O’Brien in a statement. “Bringing an SEC opponent into the Glass Bowl is huge for our football program and for our fans. We look forward to an exciting series with the Wildcats, beginning with the game in Lexington this fall.”

That 2027 game will mark just the second time an SEC school has ever traveled to Toledo for a football game, with the first being Missouri in 2014.  All told, the Rockets have played four games against members of that conference and have gone 1-3 in those contests, with the lone win coming against Arkansas in 2015.

Love lost as Memphis LB enters transfer portal

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For the third time this offseason, Memphis has seen a member of its football program sucked into the infamous portal.

Citing a source familiar with the decision, the Memphis Commercial Appeal is reporting that Nyle Love has entered his name into the transfer database.  No specific reason was given for the departure, although positioning on the depth chart would be a likely place to start.

Other FBS schools will be able to contact Love without receiving U-M’s permission, with the linebacker also retaining the ability to return to the Tigers if he so desires.  As we have noted multiple times in the past, the school now also has the option to strip Love of his scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

If Love moves on to another FBS school, it’s very likely he’ll have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Love didn’t play a down for Tigers after coming to the AAC school as a three-star 2018 signee.

USC confirms JT Daniels is still Trojans’ starting QB

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The drama in the Land of Troy, such as it was, is officially over.

For most, there was a three-man battle for USC’s starting quarterback job throughout this offseason — incumbent JT Daniels, Matt Fink and Jack Sears.  Tuesday, the Trojans ended the competition charade by confirming that Daniels will indeed be the team’s starter when they open the 2019 season later this month.

Most intriguing, though, is the fact that true freshman Kedon Slovis, who has been mostly an afterthought in the competition, has been chosen as the true sophomore Daniels’ backup over Fink, a redshirt junior, and Sears, a redshirt sophomore.

Daniels started 11 games as a true freshman for the Trojans this past season, with Sears starting the other.  Fink seriously contemplated a transfer this offseason before opting to remain at USC.  Slovis, meanwhile, was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 26 pro-style quarterback in the country.

In his first season as a starter, Daniels completed almost 60 percent of his 363 passes for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Michigan transfer Brandon Peters wins starting QB job at Illinois

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Michigan transfer Brandon Peters has won the quarterback derby at Illinois, Lovie Smith announced Tuesday.

“We loved Brandon when we got a chance to know him during the recruiting process,” Smith said. “Now that we’ve seen him on the field, he has been everything we though he would be. He has really thrown the ball well and is a better runner than he’s given credit for. Most importantly, he has moved into a leadership role for us. We’re pumped up about Brandon leading us heading into the season.”

A former 4-star recruit, the Avon, Ind., native is a graduate transfer who still has two years of eligibility remaining.

At Michigan he appeared in 10 games with four starts, completing 53 percent of his 110 throws for 680 yards and four touchdowns.

Illinois opens its season Aug. 31 at home versus Akron.