Entering the 2019 season, being on the wrong side of the won-loss ledger wasn’t something the UCF program was used to the last couple of years. Unfortunately for that AAC school, it’s become an all-too-familiar feeling of late.
In 2017 and 2018, the Knights won all 24 of its regular-season games. Add in the first three games of the 2019 campaign, and they were riding a 27-game in-season winning streak in addition to winning 29 of 30 overall. Week 4, however, saw that streak abruptly snapped as Pitt upended UCF on a trick play in the final minute of a one-point Knights loss.
Another loss to Cincinnati two weeks later followed, although UCF righted the ship to win three in a row heading into its Week 11 matchup with Tulsa on the road Friday night. Exiting it, however, the Knights head back to the Sunshine State with its third loss in seven games as the Golden Hurricane, who entered the game as 17-point underdogs, came away with a 34-31 upset win.
UCF held a 28-17 lead at halftime and took a 31-24 advantage into the fourth quarter. A 17-yard touchdown catch by the Golden Hurricane’s Sam Crawford Jr. from Seth Boomer, who replaced the injured starter Zach Smith, with 9:01 left knotted the score at 31-all; a 23-yard field goal by Jacob Rainey, who has missed eight on the season, four minutes later proved to be the game-winner.
The loss not only drops UCF to 7-3 overall but to 4-2 in conference play, two games in the loss column behind a Cincinnati squad that has already knocked off the Knights. UCF will need to win its last two games (at Tulane, USF) and hope Cincinnati loses three of its last four (UConn, at USF, Temple, at No. 21 Memphis) in order to have a shot at claiming the AAC East.
With the win, Tulsa improves to 3-7 on the season.
Fans of the USC football program, one source of pride has officially returned.
In July of last year, USC football angered a sizable portion of its fan base as well as former players by announcing that it had scheduled a 2021 game against UC-Davis. The Trojans had been one of three FBS programs that had never scheduled a game against an FCS team.
Wednesday, however, new athletic director Mike Bohn confirmed that USC is on the verge of canceling that football game and replacing it with another. Bohn revealed the development during a podcast appearance, as transcribed by 247Sports.com:
Well, I’m happy to tell you that we have informed UC Davis that we intended to cancel that game. We are in the final stages of formalizing an agreement with another FBS opponent to replace UC Davis, and I have to give our donors and fans a lot of the credit. When I arrived, I committed to listening and learning; and the feedback from our fans was clear. Preserving our history is critically important to us and to our fans, so we worked to make that happen.
Our fans didn’t like it and our fans recognize that we’re one of only three institutions to have never played a team at that level, and I think that says a lot about ‘SC and our commitment to wanting to make sure that our fans see viable games and ensure that they have a great experience watching those games. So, they were really clear about it and, to be honest with you, I think there were a lot of people on campus that encouraged us to ensure that we could fix that as well.
Unofficially, USC football rejoins Notre Dame and UCLA as the only FBS schools that have never played a game against an FCS team.
USC will reportedly be forced to pay UC-Davis for canceling the game.
Very late in the churning of the 2019-20 coaching carousel, Nick Saban could find himself with a significant opening on his Alabama Crimson Tide football coaching staff. Maybe.
When Mel Tucker left for the Michigan State head job earlier this month, it triggered an unexpected coaching search at Colorado. Current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy was immediately considered the front-runner, although it’s now expected that he’ll stay in the NFL. Air Force’s Troy Calhoun has now taken that front-runner mantle in some corners — he interviewed for the CU job this week — while former Arkansas and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is in the mix as well.
Steve Sarkisian‘s name has been connected to the Colorado opening as well. It was reported by CBS Sports that the Alabama Crimson Tide football assistant interviewed for the job Wednesday, with ESPN.com confirming that development Thursday morning.
Sarkisian, of course, has experience as a head coach in the Pac-12. His unceremonious exit from his last job in the conference, though, could make him a hard sell to the Buff faithful.
In mid-October of 2015, USC announced that Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues. It was alleged that USC had instituted a zero-tolerance policy when it came to Sarkisian and alcohol use. Leading up to his dismissal, Sarkisian allegedly showed up to meetings intoxicated.
From 2009-15, Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 — at Washington (2009-13) and USC (2014-15). He went 46-35 during his time in that league. He also spent two separate stints totaling seven seasons (2001-03, 2005-08) as an assistant at USC.
Following his ugly exit from USC, Sarkisian joined the Alabama Crimson Tide football program as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season. When Lane Kiffin took the head job at FAU prior to the national championship game that year, Sarkisian served as the play-caller in the loss to Clemson.
Expected to take over as the Crimson Tide’s coordinator, and after reports that his relationship with Saban had deteriorated surfaced, Sarkisian instead left a month after the title game for a job in the NFL as the coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian lasted two years in that job before he was fired in December of 2018.
A month later, he rejoined the Tide as offensive coordinator.
Florida State football has seen its roster pared as we dive deeper into the offseason.
Wednesday, 247Sports.com reported that A.J. Lytton is no longer consider a member of the Seminoles program. A Florida State football official confirmed that the defensive back “has been removed from the team.”
No specific reason, including whether it was voluntary or involuntary, was given for Lytton’s removal.
A four-star 2018 signee, Lytton was rated as the No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Maryland. He was also the No. 7 cornerback in the country. Only one signee in FSU’s class that year, fellow defensive back Jaiden Woodbey, was rated higher than Lytton.
Over two seasons, Lytton played in a total of 22 games. A dozen of those appearances came during the 2019 campaign. He started one of those appearances, with that lone start coming this past season.
With two-year starter Stanford Samuels III leaving the Seminoles early for the NFL, Lytton had been expected to compete for a starting corner job.
Lytton’s departure continues the expected Florida State football roster churn since Willie Taggart‘s firing and Mike Norvell‘s hiring. Norvell will be taking over a program that has gone 11-14 the past two seasons. That two-year stretch is the worst for the school since they went 8-14 in 1975-76.
As Michigan State football continues to brace itself for potential NCAA sanctions, its new head coach continues to build his first coaching staff.
Wednesday, Mel Tucker announced that Courtney Hawkins has been hired as his wide receivers coach. The move to add Hawkins will certainly be a popular one for the fan base as the newest assistant played his college football at MSU.
From 1988-91, Hawkins was a wide receiver for the Spartans. Twice, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors during his time in East Lansing.
“Courtney Hawkins was a phenomenal player here at Michigan State who went on to have a very successful career in the NFL,” the new Michigan State football head coach said in a statement. “He’s shown tremendous leadership serving as both the athletic director and head football coach at Flint Beecher High School. I’m really excited to get him here on campus.”
Since 2006, Hawkins served as the head football coach and athletic director at his alma mater, Beecher High School, in Flint, Michigan. That tenure followed a nine-year career as a wide receiver in the NFL.
This will, incidentally, serve as Hawkins’ first job of any kind at the collegiate level.
The hiring of Hawkins is the fourth officially announced by the Michigan State football program.
This past weekend, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained. Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.
Kapilovic will serve as offensive line coach and running-game coordinator for Tucker. Burton is expected to continue on as defensive line coach. Tressel has spent the past 13 seasons with Michigan State football as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.