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Pac-12 coaches on hot seat: USC’s Clay Helton feeling the heat more than anybody

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CFTalk has been taking a detailed look at hot seats across college football this offseason and one early theme in examining the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten coaches so far is there are, well, not a ton of hot seats out there.

A lot of this has to do with schools already making moves and replacing coaches in the past two seasons and others playing their way out of trouble with some big wins. When one heads out West to the Pac-12 however, well, the league might just be home to perhaps the hottest seat in the nation.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the various stages of heat for Pac-12 coaches near and far:

White hot heat

Clay Helton (USC)

To put Helton’s hot seat in perspective, some of the school’s big name alumni are already talking about his replacement being Urban Meyer in 2020. It was surprising that he was brought back in the first place after failing to make a bowl game in 2018 but a reportedly hefty buyout appeared to be a contributing factor in his return. Helton did lead the Trojans to a Rose Bowl win and another New Year’s Six bowl game during his tenure but  faces a ton of pressure to return the program to prominence immediately in 2019. This is a demanding job to be sure but Helton hasn’t met expectations recently and knows what is on the line this season as a result.

The new guy

Mel Tucker (Colorado)

Lukewarm 

Kevin Sumlin (Arizona)

Sumlin’s debut with the Wildcats couldn’t have gone much worse, with expectations of contending in the Pac-12 South and Khalil Tate making a run for the Heisman all but over by the end of September. The school won’t hit eject on his tenure this early but 2019 could be narrative-defining for Sumlin in Tucson.

Herm Edwards (Arizona State)

Edwards was a bizarre hire at the time and remains so today even if he’s made the Sun Devils fascinating to follow with a fun quote seemingly every day. He was brought in to improve on what Todd Graham accomplished though and 7-6 (5-4) isn’t exactly doing that in a weak division. It’s shaping up to be a big Year 2 in Tempe that could shape the direction of the rest of Edwards’ tenure.

Solid ground

Jonathan Smith (Oregon State)

Smith is a beloved alum and the OSU brass/fan base know how difficult a rebuilding job this is. Still, the early returns weren’t the greatest with a truly awful defense making blowouts all too common. Progress will need to be made going forward or the pressure will be ratcheted up quickly in Corvallis.

Safe and secure

Mike Leach (Washington State)

The pirate has won at least eight games at his Pullman outpost four straight years, highlighted by last season’s terrific 11-2 campaign. He’s given the Cougars everything they can ask for even if he’s come up a bit short against the in-state rivals. Either way, Wazzu right now is more likely to lose Leach to another program than it is to fire him for something that happens on the field.

Justin Wilcox (Cal)

While his hire was questioned at first, Wilcox quickly won over Bears fans with his transformation of the once-woeful defense into one of the best units in the conference. That culminated in a  postseason berth last year, a good sign of progress in Berkeley despite a hefty bunch of interceptions in the Cheez-It Bowl.

Mario Cristobal (Oregon)

Which coach might have the happiest fan base after this offseason? It might be Cristobal after winning a bowl game for his ninth win in 2018 and following that up with an elite recruiting class. Expectations are the Ducks will be in thick of the Pac-12 race as a result and has some feeling a return to normalcy in Eugene after a few tumultuous years in the dark.

Chip Kelly (UCLA)

While some predicted Kelly would have the Bruins contending right away, nothing could have been further from the truth in Westwood during Year 1. While the losses did pile up, the team showed progress as the season went on and there’s still plenty of hope from the powder blues that their big name head coach is the one to finally get the program back on a championship track.

Frozen solid 

Kyle Whittingham (Utah)

Whittingham finally broke through with a division title in 2018 and is remarkably the third-longest tenured active coach in college football right now. Consistency is his calling card and it would be surprising when the time comes for Whittingham to not be on the sidelines for the Utes.

Chris Petersen (Washington)

Petersen has been as advertised since arriving from Boise State, taking a few early lumps before winning two Pac-12 titles and 32 total games the past three years. The Huskies will be favored to be back in Santa Clara once again in early December and it speaks to the program Petersen has built in Seattle that they’ll be Playoff contenders too despite losing a lot of production this offseason.

David Shaw (Stanford)

While NFL teams have inquired and he’s a name that comes up from time-to-time in the coaching carousel, it very much appears that nobody is going to pry Shaw from his alma mater. He’s continued to elevate the program to the point where the nine wins he’s posted in back-to-back years are considered disappointing on The Farm. That speaks to the job he’s done and his status on campus.

Former FIU DB Emmanuel Lubin dies in car accident, program confirms

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FIU announced on Sunday that former Panthers defensive back Emmanuel Lubin died in a car accident on Saturday night.

Lubinn (jumping, left) played in 45 games over four seasons for FIU, the most recent coming in 2018. He started all 13 games last season, collecting 31 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, one sack and four pass breakups. For his career, Lubin compiled 86 tackles, 11 pass breakups and one interception.

“Tragically, we lost a great young man in Emmanuel Lubin last night,” FIU head coach Butch Davis said. “He was a hard worker, great teammate and was respected and loved by his teammates, coaches and staff at FIU. His character, work ethic and leadership were instrumental in leading our program to success these past two seasons. Our football program is mourning his loss and we will honor Emmanuel every day moving forward. Our hearts and prayers go out to his friends and family.”

Added former teammate Tyree Johnson: “Anybody who knows you would never say anything bad on your name because you literally lit up any room you were in…I never told you this because I assumed you knew, but you made me the man I am today. If it wasn’t for you, I’ll still be the same Teejayy from four yeas (sic) ago.”

The North Miami Beach native was 22 years old.

Ex-Clemson DB Kyler McMichael headed to North Carolina

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The Portal is as mysterious as it is powerful. Some souls enter never to be heard of again, others are out as quickly as they entered. The Portal blesses whom it decides to bless, and it’s not for us humans to understand. All we know is The Portal must be questioned.

For instance, there’s the case of Kyler McMichael.

On Friday, the former 4-star recruit was a Clemson Tiger. By Saturday, he was a North Carolina Tar Heel.

Roughly 24 hours after announcing his intent to transfer, McMichael had announced his new destination. “Beyond blessed and grateful to be apart (sic) of such an amazing team last year at Clemson, however today I begin my next Chapter in life as I redirect my journey and travel to Chapel Hill, to the University of North Carolina and become a Tar Heel.”

McMichael didn’t make a major impact on Clemson’s national championship team, but that’s largely because he was a true freshman playing for the eventual national champions.

The Atlanta native played in 101 snaps according to his Clemson bio, which was still live as of this writing, spread across 12 games, where he made two tackles.

Barring a waiver, McMichael will sit out the 2019 season and compete for the Tar Heels as a redshirt sophomore in 2020.

Colorado lands Nebraska transfer LB Guy Thomas

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There’s a new Guy on the team at Colorado.

On Saturday, former Nebraska linebacker Guy Thomas announced his commitment to Colorado. “I give thanks to everybody that has been influential, and supportive in my life,” Nyon said in a graphic posted to his Twitter account. “I am taking this time to announce that I will be committing to the University of Colorado.”

Thomas first announced his transfer back in November; he appeared in just four games over two years on the club. He posted four tackles in as many games as a redshirt freshman in 2018, with three coming against FCS Bethune-Cookman.

“It’s not working out,” Thomas told the Omaha World-Herald upon his transfer.

Barring a waiver, Thomas will have to sit out the 2019 season and compete as a redshirt junior in 2020. He figures to contribute as a pass-rushing outside linebacker whenever he is cleared to play.

As of now, Jim Harbaugh plans to play Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game

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Michigan does not open training camp until Aug. 2 and does not play its first game until Aug. 31, so any “as of right now” statements are devoid of 20-odd practices worth of context.

Still, as of Big Ten media days, Jim Harbaugh plans to play both Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game.

“Yeah, I do (see games where they’ll both play). Where it stands right now, and that could change later or not, is I see them both playing,” Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press. “Where it stands right now, I see it as maybe redefining what a starter is…. I’m really not talking about playing them both at the same time (on a play), when I say both in games it’d be they’re both playing quarterback during the same game. And in the way it stands now, in every game.”

Harbaugh has been a one-quarterback man for the entirety of his career, but Patterson’s inconsistency and McCaffrey’s talent may demand a change. Michigan did juggle quarterbacks in 2017 — John O’KornBrandon Peters and Wilton Speight each threw at least 81 passes — but that was due to necessity, not strategy.

Patterson completed 64.6 percent of his passes last season for 2,600 yards (on 8.0 per attempt) with 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions while rushing 76 times for 273 yards and two touchdowns. In his second year in the program, McCaffrey completed 8-of-15 passes for 126 yards with two touchdowns whilst rushing 10 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The son of Ed McCaffrey and brother of Christian McCaffrey is certainly the heir apparent in Ann Arbor, and it appears Harbaugh isn’t willing to wait for the future to arrive in order to unleash arguably his most talented quarterback recruit since Andrew Luck.