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Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley agree to contract extension

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It appears you can put the NFL rumors to rest when it comes to Lincoln Riley — for now.

Three days after Oklahoma was knocked out of the College Football Playoff by defending champion Alabama, OU announced that the university and Riley have reached an agreement in principle on a contract extension.  The reworked deal will come with an unspecified salary increase.

The press release states that “[t]he contract terms are being finalized and will be subject to approval by the OU Board of Regents, which will meet later this month.”

Riley’s 2018 salary of $4.8 million was 16th nationally and fourth among Big 12 coaches, behind Texas’ Tom Herman ($5.5 million), Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy ($5 million) and TCU’s Gary Patterson ($4.84 million).  It’s believed Riley’s new deal will be worth well north of $6 million annually.

The move comes amidst speculation regarding several openings in the NFL, particularly the Cleveland Browns.  Riley has steadfastly maintained that he doesn’t see himself leaving the Sooners for the NFL, although he’s never completely shut the door.

The 35-year-old Riley just completed his second season at OU.  In those two seasons, the Sooners have gone 24-4 and won a pair of Big 12 championships.  The Sooners have also appeared in the playoffs both of those seasons and OU quarterbacks have claimed back-to-back Heisman Trophy wins — Kyler Murray this season (HERE), Baker Mayfield last (HERE).

Below are the quotes attributed to the pertinent parties distributed by the school:

HEAD COACH LINCOLN RILEY
“My family and I are very appreciative of the support the University of Oklahoma has shown. We’re thankful for the relationships we have with President Gallogly, Joe Castiglione, the OU Board of Regents and the entire Norman community. This has been a great home for us. We’ve had a great start and we’re excited for many more great years in the future.”

ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JOE CASTIGLIONE
“We’re obviously appreciative of what’s already been accomplished in such a short time, but strengthening our relationship with Lincoln is also important as we collectively focus on the larger goals of our program. He has proven to be one of the most innovative minds in the game today as well as a very successful leader for his student-athletes. His remarkable ascent as one of the most outstanding football coaches in America is grounded in creating the right environment for developing the best growth opportunities for all of his players. The incredible level of achievement and energy around our program all point to a very bright future under his leadership.

“Moreover, Lincoln and Caitlin are tremendous assets to our campus and state. Their representation of OU and contributions to several causes reflect a personal quality that all of us appreciate.”

PRESIDENT JAMES GALLOGLY
“We felt it important to extend and amend Lincoln’s contract at this time as we want him at the University of Oklahoma for a long time.  He is a great coach and role model for our student-athletes. His record of success speaks for itself.

“Lincoln is also the right representative for our university in such a high-profile position. I am proud to work with him and anxious to support him as he takes our program into the future.”

Florida State apologizes for MLK Day tweet

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As the old adage goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men’s Twitter accounts often go awry.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, Florida State’s official recruiting account on Twitter posted an inspirational quote from the slain Civil Rights leader. It would’ve been fine for all involved if the account would’ve stopped there; unfortunately for all involved, they didn’t stop there.

Instead, a photoshopped image of Dr. King wearing a football glove and apparently performing the Tomahawk Chop was included as part of the tweet.

Not surprisingly, the Twitter account caught significant heat and flack for the image on social media. Just as unsurprisingly, the tweet was deleted less than an hour after it was posted and an apology subsequently issued.

Rutgers hires Andy Buh to coordinate defense

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Rutgers has hired Andy Buh as its defensive coordinator, the program has announced.

“We are excited to add Andy to the Rutgers football family,” head coach Chris Ash said in a statement. “He is an outstanding linebackers coach and has extensive experience in the Big Ten. Andy and I share a defensive philosophy and he is very familiar with the scheme we run, which will benefit the continued development of our defense.”

Ash and Buh worked together previously at Wisconsin, where Ash was the defensive coordinator and Buh the linebackers coach. He spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Maryland and has previous coordinator experience at Stanford, Nevada and Cal.

Buh replaces Jay Niemann, who served as the Scarlet Knights’ defensive coordinator for the first three seasons of the Ash era. Rutgers was 69th in total and yards per play defense and 89th in scoring in 2018, surrendering 31.4 points per game. Buh’s Maryland defense placed 78th, allowing 28.7 points per outing.

Rutgers is 7-29 under Ash and 3-24 in Big Ten play.

North Texas inks home and homes with Baylor, Tulane

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North Texas celebrated MLK Day by announcing a slew of future football opponents.

The Mean Green announced Monday it will play home-and-homes with Baylor and Tulane in the 2028 and ’29 campaigns. North Texas will visit the Bears and Green Wave in 2028, then host both in 2029. UNT will visit Baylor on Sept. 2 and Tulane on Sept. 23 in 2028, while the Mean Green will host Baylor and Tulane in back-to-back weeks to open 2029, with the Bears coming on Sept. 1 and the Green Wave on Sept. 8.

A previously scheduled home game with Army was bumped from 2027 to 2028 in conjunction with Monday’s announcements. North Texas also announced a home game with Texas Southern for Sept. 24, 2022.

Baylor will be the fourth Power 5 program and the second Big 12 opponent to visit Apogee Stadium, which opened in 2011. Indiana visited in Apogee’s opening season, Cal will make a visit in 2022 and Texas Tech will come to Denton in 2027.

“I am thrilled to announce two quality home-and-home series have been added to our schedules,” Mean Green AD Wren Baker said in a statement. “Baylor joins Cal and Texas Tech as Power 5 conference teams coming to Denton over the next few years. Tulane is a quality American Athletic Conference team that will be a fun trip for our fans when we return to New Orleans. I appreciate (COO) Jared Mosley‘s diligent efforts to find compelling games for our fans.”

North Texas and Baylor have met 13 times previously. The Bears have won 12 of those meetings but North Texas took the most recent meeting in Denton, a 52-14 thumping in 2003. That remains UNT’s most recent win over a Big 12 opponent.

The Mean Green and Green Wave have played just once previously, a 21-14 Tulane victory in New Orleans in 2013.

Baylor has a previously scheduled trip to Oregon slated for 2028, a return trip for the Ducks’ flight to Waco in 2027. Tulane also has a home-and-home with Iowa State in 2028-29, with the home dates flipped from the UNT series.

Boise State to replace iconic blue turf (with more, newer blue turf)

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Boise State became a household name through playing on its trendsetting blue turf (and winning a lot), such that the school now owns a trademark for any non-green collegiate field.

The current blue playing surface is set to go away this spring, only to be replaced by a newer, bigger, bluer (probably) version.

“It’s needed,” Boise State AD Curt Apsey told the Idaho Statesman. “We’re not just doing it to do it. It’s near the end of the usual lifespan.”

The current playing surface was installed ahead of the 2010 season; FieldTurf surfaces usually have a lifespan of eight to 10 years.

“The field is shredding,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin told the paper last summer. “It’s just old. It needs to be replaced. It’s just time.”

Boise State has played on a blue surface since 1986, when then-AD Gene Blaymaier put in blue AstroTurf at a cost of $750,000. The school did not even join FBS until a decade later.

The new surface will extend beyond the playing field to cover the area that previously held the Broncos’ track. It is expected to cost between $600,000 and $1 million, but the school is approved to spend $600,000 as of now.