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ACC coaches on hot seat: Not much heat as turmoil gives way to stability

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The calendar turning over to June means we’re not only approaching the midpoint of the year but also a point in time where we can see the dark days of the college football offseason coming to a close. July brings conference media days and talkin’ season as Steve Spurrier famously noted. August is time for training camps across the country and, oh yes, actual games as the 2019 season kicks off in earnest.

Before all that however, we still have some time to look ahead at what is to come later on this fall. To that end, we at CFTalk have put our heads together to examine a variety of subjects around the sport each week. One such topic this week? The ever popular hot seats for head coaches.

We start in the ACC, where several years of turmoil has given way to remarkable stability. Four new head coaches were added to the league after the 2018 campaign and, aside from a shock departure to a bigger gig or to retirement, it would be not at all surprising to see the entire crop back for the ACC Kickoff in 2020.

Without further ado, a look at the various stages of hot seats in the conference with the defending national champions:

Feeling some heat

Willie Taggart (Florida State)

Seminoles fans were thinking one-and-done for Taggart after the team slumped to a losing record, breaking the prideful streak of 36 consecutive seasons with a bowl game. While he is undoubtedly feeling the pressure from the fan base, the Florida native isn’t about to give up on his dream job so quickly and has specialized in rebuilding programs at past stops Oregon, USF and Western Kentucky. He needs to show progress on the field at FSU in 2019 with a new-look offense but he’ll still have some runway to get the program back to where it should be.

Steve Addazio (Boston College)

It says plenty about the situation Addazio is in that the school didn’t fire him after 2018… but also didn’t give him a lengthy contract extension, instead opting to tack on just two additional years. While he’s gotten the program to solid ground,  he’s just 38-38 overall and has never won more than seven games or finished with a winning record in league play. BC isn’t an easy job but there’s still plenty of talk that this could be a huge 2019 for Addazio’s future in terms of breaking through.

The new guys

Mack Brown (North Carolina)

Geoff Collins (Georgia Tech)

Scott Satterfield (Louisville)

Manny Diaz (Miami)

Solid ground

Pat Narduzzi (Pitt)

The Panthers head coach won the Coastal Division last season but is still just 28-24 overall and hasn’t won a bowl game yet at the school. There’s high expectations in the region for the program and the up-and-down nature of the team’s play has contributed to some heat from a fan base that believes they can do better. Narduzzi has a lengthy contract through 2024 so he is unlikely to go anywhere soon however, especially not with the staunch backing of his AD.

Safe and secure 

Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech)

Last year’s 6-7 campaign was a tough one for Fuente and company to stomach but he’s still put together two top 25 rankings and nine-plus wins the two seasons prior with the Hokies. The administration is fully behind him and it would take a big backslide for his seat to truly warm up after being the handpicked guy to succeed a legend like Frank Beamer.

Dave Doeren (N.C. State)

The Wolfpack head coach has flirted with other jobs the past couple of years but has remained at NCSU to help develop a really solid all-around program. Doeren has produced draft picks better than anybody but Clemson has in the ACC recently and his 11-5 mark while generally playing the Tigers close also helps his stock. He faces a bit of a rebuilding campaign in 2019 and now has a new AD but everybody is pretty happy down in the triangle with the job Doeren has done.

Dave Clawson (Wake Forest)

Clawson has never won more than eight games with the Demon Deacons but that’s monumental success considering the program is one of the most challenging jobs in the Power Five. He’s guided Wake to three straight bowl wins for the first time ever and recently signed an extension that keeps him in town through 2026.

Bronco Mendenhall (Virginia)

After being one of the most surprising hires around back when he was plucked away from BYU, Mendenhall has underscored why he’s such a good coach by turning around the Cavaliers and making them much more competitive in the ACC. Though he’s only 16-22 overall at the school, everybody is happy with the work he’s done on the gridiron and is hopeful a real run at the division title is not far behind.

David Cutcliffe (Duke)

It’s hard to believe that this will be Cutcliffe’s 12th season in Durham but the noted quarterback whisperer continues to keep the Blue Devils competitive despite the deck stacked against them in football. He’s fresh off producing a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft and still looks energized to keep going for many more seasons despite turning 65 in 2019.

Dino Babers (Syracuse)

Though he’s still below .500 overall with the Orange, it says plenty that there was interest in hiring Babers away from upstate New York this past offseason after capping off a remarkable turnaround campaign in 2018. That included 10 wins, a bowl victory and a top 15 ranking that many had not seen in those parts for decades. Babers recently signed a long-term extension to keep him at Syracuse for many years to come but continued interest from bigger names is bound to keep coming up as the wins keep rolling in.

Frozen solid

Dabo Swinney (Clemson)

The man has won two of the last three national titles — beating Nick Saban each time to boot — and just signed a 10 year, $93 million contract that is the richest in the game. The question isn’t whether Dabo’s seat is liquid nitrogen cold but rather when will Clemson get around to building his statue on campus?

Middle Tennessee State brings back ex-Blue Raiders RB Shane Tucker as grad assistant

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There will be a very familiar face in the Middle Tennessee State football building when the Conference USA school reconvenes.

Memorial Day, Middle Tennessee State announced that Shane Tucker has been added to the extended football staff.  Specifically, Tucker will serve as a graduate assistant for Rick Stockstill.  Tucker will work on the offensive side of the ball for the Blue Raiders.

From 2013-2017, Tucker was a running back at MTSU.  And a wide receiver as well.

In 39 appearances, Tucker started 17 of those games.  He started contests in 2013 (three), 2014 (two), 2015 (four) and 2017 (eight).  The Memphis native’s 2016 season ended before it started because of an offseason injury.

During his time in Murfreesboro, Tucker ran for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns on 271 carries.  He also caught 67 passed for 869 yards and another seven touchdowns.

In 2014, Tucker earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.  As a fifth-year senior in 2017, he was named a permanent captain.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.

One of the players Tucker Will Likely work with?  Martell Pettaway.  The West Virginia running back transferred to the Conference USA school in January.

Ex-Georgia State RB Gerald Howse, 28, found dead in his home

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Georgia State is mourning the loss of a member of its football family.

Sunday, Georgia State announced the passing of former Panther football player Gerald Howse.  Howse was just 28.

According to one report, Howse was found dead at his home in Cookeville, Tenn.  A cause of death has not yet been released.

From GSU’s release:

Howse, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Siegel High School, lettered at running back for the Panthers in 2013-14 after transferring from NE Oklahoma A&M.

After graduating with his degree in sociology, he entered the coaching profession, beginning with stints at Oklahoma Baptist (2015) and NE Oklahoma A&M (2016-19). He was honored as the NJCAA Top Assistant Coach in 2017.

In January of 2020, Howse was named as the running backs coach at Tennessee Tech of the FCS.  The football program’s head coach, Dewayne Alexander, released a statement addressing his assistant’s passing as well.

Gerald was a first-class young man. He was highly thought of by so many people. His coaches at Siegel High School – Greg Wyatt and David Watson – always brought him up whenever we had positions come open. He displayed a very positive attitude. He was a man of character who lived out faith, family and football. He was so close to his family – his mom, dad and sister – that it was one of the biggest reasons he came here to Tennessee Tech: coach in the area, be back in Middle Tennessee and be close to his family. He was an outstanding coach and a man every coach would want on his staff. Gerald made a huge impact on our players in the short time he was here. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, as well as the Tennessee Tech football family. Anytime you lose a staff member, it affects a lot of people.

Pac-12 targets June 15 for return of players for voluntary in-person workouts

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The Pac-12 is the latest to contribute to the measured return of college football.

Last week, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1. Friday, the SEC announced that it will allow players to return starting June 8.  That same day, the Big 12 announced its target date is June 15.

Monday, the Pac-12 followed the Big 12’s lead, with that Power Five confirming a return date of June 15 for voluntary in-person athletic workouts. The league came to its decision to allow student-athletes to return to campus following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group earlier in the day.

The conference also made sure to note in its release that the universities will “determine whether and how to open its sporting facilities in accordance with relevant county and state guidelines.”

“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano in a statement. “As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials.”

“The Pac-12 is committed to the well-being of our student-athletes, and the decision to allow for voluntary workouts, subject to a determination by each school, is guided by the advice of our medical experts and will be supported by the detailed protocols established by our medical advisory committee in concert with our campus’ own safety guidelines,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support.”

The ACC and Big Ten are the only Power Fives to not announce a uniform plan for a return.  Both Ohio State and Illinois, though, will allow players to return June 8, for example.  Ditto for Clemson and Louisville as well.

Arizona’s leader in receiving yards underwent surgery on a fractured foot earlier this month

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A key piece of the passing game for Arizona football is recovering from a health issue.  Fortunately, it doesn’t appear it will impact his availability for the upcoming season.

Prior to Arizona shuttering spring football practice because of the coronavirus pandemic, Jamarye Joiner suffered a fractured left foot.  It was reported at the time that the wide receiver was “believed to have suffered a Jones fracture, which is a break between the base of the foot and the fifth metatarsal.”

According to The Athletic, Joiner underwent surgery to repair the damage May 12.  The procedure was delayed as elective surgeries were scuttled because of the pandemic.

The same website reported that the receiver will be sidelined for a period of 6-12 weeks.  Such a timeline would extend, at the long end, to early August.  Arizona is scheduled to open the 2020 football season Aug. 29 against Hawaii.

Joiner was a three-star member of the Arizona football Class of 2018.  The Tucson native was rated as the No. 6 prospect regardless of position in the state of Arizona.

Originally signing as a quarterback, Joiner completed three of his four pass attempts for 17 yards in two games a true freshman.  Playing in less than four games allowed Joiner to preserve a year of eligibility.

Prior to the start of summer camp, Joiner made the move from quarterback to wide receiver.  In his first season at the position, the redshirt freshman led the Wildcats in receiving yards with 552 and receiving touchdowns with five.  His 34 receptions were third on the team, while his 16.2 yards per catch was second among the nine players with at least 10 receptions.

Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin this month became one of a handful of coaches to take a pay cut.