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Pac-12 coaches give thumbs up to 9 a.m. PT kickoff idea


LOS ANGELES — Breakfast and Pac-12 football might go together better than fans in the Pacific Time Zone might like at first blush. At least that’s the feeling when talking to the league’s coaches at the conference’s media day.

Earlier on Wednesday, commissioner Larry Scott noted that the Pac-12 has engaged in discussions with Fox about possibly kicking off a limited number of games at noon ET/9 a.m. PT as soon as this season. That would be in the network’s new marquee TV window they are trying to build and would also bring the conference additional exposure on the East Coast.

While many fans have recoiled at the thought of waking up before dawn to make it to the stadium for a game, the coaches in the Pac-12 appear relatively enthusiastic about trading a late kickoff for a very early one.

“I know that’s part of the plan. We’re talking about that,” Colorado’s Mel Tucker said. “But for me as a coach, I just want to play ball. Put the ball down and let’s go play. So whatever the schedule is, the timing, the kickoff time, the opponent, it’s really not an issue for me. I just need to know when we’re going to kick off, and then I’ve got to get my guys ready to go.”

“As great as our atmosphere is at Rice-Eccles in a night game, as electric as it is, it’s tough to sit around all day,” said Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, noting he’s 100% behind the idea. “I’m not saying play one every week but we wouldn’t mind playing at 10 a.m. once or twice a season.”

Things would be much easier to accommodate in those two Mountain Time Zone-based schools and is not too far off from the 11 a.m. MT TV window on Pac-12 Networks that has been used on occasion. They’re not the only ones behind it though, as UCLA and Chip Kelly have broached the topic as well with the conference according to a source.

“When you wake up — if you’re a college football player or coach, you want to wake up and you want to play football. The hardest thing with Saturdays is when you wake up and then you’ve got to wait until 7:00 at night,” said Kelly. “If they want us to play at 9:00, we’ll play at 9:00; if they want us to play at 7:00 at night, we’ll play at 7:00 at night. Want us to play at 6:00 in the morning, we’ll play at 6:00 in the morning. That part, that’s — we always talk about control the controllables, and we don’t have the control over kickoffs. So they tell us when to play, we’ll play.

“But we practice in the morning, so we’re morning people. We’d love to do things in the morning. I don’t know if our fans would, but again, I don’t have a vote, so I don’t care. Just tell us when we’re kicking.”

The way things are trending, it may not be long before Kelly gets that notice of an early kick as the Pac-12 experiments with something completely out of the box.

Jerry Kill joins Virginia Tech support staff

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Jerry Kill stepped down as Minnesota’s head coach in the middle of the 2015 season, but he’s remained active as ever in “retirement.”

He spent 2016 as an assistant AD at Kansas State, returned to coaching as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers in 2017, but, after the same epileptic seizures that chased him out of coaching followed him to Piscataway, Kill stepped down after just one season. He was quickly scooped up as the athletics director at Southern Illinois, but now Kill is returning again to coaching — sort of.

Virginia Tech on Monday announced Kill as the new assistant to the head coach for Justin Fuente. In this newly-created role, Kill will use his experience to assist Fuente with “a myriad of duties.”

“Jerry Kill will serve as a tremendous resource for our football program,” Fuente said. “Coach Kill possesses over three decades of expertise and will be great addition to our staff. In addition to over 20 years of experience as collegiate and high school head coach, he’s served as a coordinator on both sides of the ball. He can dissect the game from virtually every angle and will be able to provide his unique perspective on everything from recruiting, to personnel and facilities. ”

“While it was a difficult decision to leave so many wonderful friends and colleagues at Southern Illinois, I am thrilled for the opportunity to join Coach Fuente and his staff at Virginia Tech,” Kill said. “I’ve long appreciated and admired Justin as a coach and teacher of the game. I respect his penchant for identifying talent and helping young men reach their potential. He has assembled a fabulous coaching staff and roster of talented players at Virginia Tech. I can’t wait to help the Hokies in any way I can.”

Kill will join the Virginia Tech staff effective immediately. He went 152-99 as a head coach at five different schools from 1994-2015.


Pac-12 admits refs botched Arizona State-Michigan State ending

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No. 24 Arizona State beat Michigan State 10-7 on Saturday, a win that was preserved by a 12-men-on-the-field penalty that wiped away a game-tying field goal for the Spartans. Matt Coghlin‘s second attempt, this one from 47 yards, sailed wide right, allowing the Sun Devils to hold on for the win.

But it turns out there should have been a second penalty called.

The Pac-12 has announced its officials missed a penalty on Arizona State on Coghlin’s second, missed attempt.

“An Arizona State defensive player took a running start and leapt over the kicking team’s line in an attempt to block the kick. In the process, he leapt into the frame of the body of an opponent. The penalty would have been 15 yards from the previous spot and an automatic first down.

In this case, it would have been administered as half the distance to the goal and Michigan State would have been provided one untimed down.”

That penalty would have moved the Spartans up to the Arizona State 14-yard line, giving Coghlin a third attempt from just 31 yards out.

The Pac-12 provided no word on what, if any, internal accountability the officiating crew that missed such a crucial penalty will face.


Chip Kelly won’t make QB change despite UCLA offensive woes

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Chip Kelly revolutionized college football back when he was at Oregon, becoming so successful that not one but three NFL teams tried or succeeded in hiring him.

Kelly’s return to the sidelines in the college game however… could be going better. UCLA was blown out of the water on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl by No. 5 Oklahoma and the Bruins offense is actually among the worst in all of FBS.

They’re dead last in yards per play, second to last in total offense and No. 127 in scoring offense. Oh and sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is No. 99 nationally in passer rating.

Despite those numbers, it appears Kelly isn’t contemplating a new face behind center as the team moves into Pac-12 play.

“We didn’t,” Kelly said when asked by the LA Times whether he thought of making a change at quarterback on Saturday. “…we felt confident in Dorian.”

To be fair, Thompson-Robinson did seem a little improved against the Sooners than he did in his first two starts of 2019 against Cincinnati and San Diego State. But those numbers speak for themselves with road trips to Washington State and Arizona coming up for the 0-3 side from Westwood.

Pony Up! SMU off to best start since 1984 at 3-0

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TCU may have moved into the top 25 of the AP Poll this week after dispatching Purdue on Saturday but upcoming opponent SMU is off to an equally hot start coming into Week 4 after topping Texas State.

In fact, it’s a historic one down in Dallas.

As the school noted recently, the 3-0 start to the 2019 campaign is the Mustangs’ best since… 1984. That’s just after the Pony Express days on the Hilltop and right before the program got hammered by the NCAA for major violations.

Sonny Dykes’ tenure got off to a rough start after going 5-7 last season but the team looks much improved thanks in part to the play of Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele.

We’ll see if the two can keep things rolling against the rival Horned Frogs but the AAC might just have another intriguing team in the mix after such a hot start by SMU.