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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?

Clemson DT Xavier Kelly announces entry to transfer portal

Clemson redshirt junior Xavier Kelly will leave Clemson as a graduate transfer.
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Defensive tackle Xavier Kelly will no longer be a part of the Clemson football program. The redshirt junior announced he has entered the NCAA transfer portal and will look for another school to wrap up his collegiate career.

“I have never shied away from hard work or a challenge. My time at Clemson was a challenge that I happily accepted, [and I] worked hard to be the best defensive lineman, teammate and student I could be,” Kelly said in a statement shared on his Twitter account on Saturday afternoon.

“With this being said, I have decided to enter the transfer portal and continue my football career elsewhere. It is an honor to be able to say that I graduated from Clemson. Clemson will always have a special place in my heart.”

Kelly was listed third on the Clemson depth chart for one of the team’s two defensive tackle positions. Kelly appeared as a backup option behind freshman Tyler Davis and redshirt sophomore Jordan Williams. Kelly appeared in 10 games in the 2019 season and recorded a total of six tackles with credit for half of a sack. Kelly did not play in either of Clemson’s game sin the College Football Playoff.

In 2016, Kelly was involved in a moped accident that resulted in stitches. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said at the time Kelly was not wearing a helmet when somebody crashed into his moped.

By entering the transfer portal, Kelly is free to have contact with any other college football program interested in recruiting him. As a graduate transfer, Kelly will be able to use his final year of eligibility in 2020 and will not have to sit out the 2019 season.

Bob Shoop and Brian Jean-Mary join Michigan coaching staff, Jay Harbaugh promoted to special teams coordinator

Brian Jean-Mary and Bob Shoop are the newest members of Michigan's coaching staff.
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Michigan has officially introduced two new defensive assistants to the staff. Brian Jean-Mary and Bob Shoop were added to the defensive side of the coaching staff on Saturday as Michigan continues to retool its coaching staff this offseason.

According to the release from Michigan on Saturday, Shoop will take on the role of safeties coach for the Wolverines. Jean-Mary will serve as linebackers coach. In addition, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh promoted his son, Jay Harbaugh, to special teams coordinator. Harbaugh will continue to coach the running backs as well.

“I am excited about the addition of Brian and Bob to our defensive coaching staff,” said Harbaugh. “Brian and Bob are well-respected, experienced coaches who represent great fits for the University of Michigan. Both coaches have experience coordinating some of the best defenses in the country, and their development of all-conference and future NFL players throughout their careers will benefit our program and student-athletes. Michigan Football looks forward to having Brian, Bob and their families join the University family.”

Jean-Mary joins the Michigan program after three seasons with former USF head coach Charlie Strong at USF. Jean-Mary has been a longtime assistant under Strong, coaching with Strong at Louisville and Texas prior to USF.

Shoop previously was the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. This will mark a return to the Big Ten for Shoop. Shoop previously coached at Penn State under James Franklin. Shoop went to Penn State with Franklin after three seasons at Vanderbilt. Shoop left Penn State for Tennessee after the 2015 season and coached the Vols defense for two seasons for former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones. Shoop and Penn State also carried on a bit of a legal squabble over Shoop’s contract and his exit from the Nittany Lions. Shoop took a job at Mississippi State when Joe Moorhead was hired (in the same coaching carousel that saw a coaching change at Tennessee and the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt, a former defensive coordinator himself).

Joe Burrow reportedly passing on Senior Bowl

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will not attend the 2020 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, according to a report.
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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will reportedly be passing on the opportunity to play in next week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Ben Baby, who covers the Cincinnati Bengals for ESPN, reported the Burrow Senior Bowl news, via Twitter, Saturday morning.

The Senior Bowl is the highest-regarded college football all-star game and is the last major offseason event on the NFL Draft schedule before the annual scouting combine. Many of the nation’s top seniors will arrive in Mobile, Alabama next week to begin a week of workouts instructed by coaches from the NFL. This year’s Senior Bowl teams will be coached by the staffs from the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.

The Bengals own the top draft pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and they just so happen to be a team many believe might draft Burrow to inject some life into the Bengals offense. The Lions own the No. 3 overall pick. The Senior Bowl is attended by scouts and coaches from around the NFL, and with the top tier of seniors typically at the Senior Bowl, the whole week is a terrific opportunity for seniors to impress their future employers.

Of course, Burrow not playing in the Senior Bowl will be made out by some to be a negative on his draft profile, but that should not be the case. Burrow admitted to playing the national championship game against Clemson with a rib injury. Coming off a historic season that saw Burrow break the NCAA record for most passing touchdowns in a single season (and doing so in the SEC), missing out on the Senior Bowl shouldn’t be a concern. The Heisman Trophy winner has done more than enough to raise his draft stock for 2020 off the wild successes of the 2019 season. Burrow will still get a chance to focus on the scouting combine and decide what’s best for him in Indianapolis.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.