Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Lane Kiffin leaves FAU in style: Owls win Conference USA title in rout of UAB

Leave a comment

A matchup of the two most recent Conference USA champions could have been like a title bout between two prized fighters, but instead, FAU (10-3, 7-1 Conference USA) knocked UAB (9-4, 6-2 Conference USA) out early en route to a 49-6 victory. If the Owls were distracted by coaching rumors surrounding Lane Kiffin, it certainly did not show.

Chris Robison passed for 299 yards and four touchdowns, BJ Emmons rushed for two scores and the defense controlled UAB from the start in a game that was never remotely close. FAU had over 500 yards of offense while UAB was limited to just 223 yards. UAB had two turnovers with just 13 first downs to show for their effort. FAU had an even offensive output with over 286 rushing yards as a team, and 299 passing yards. Emmons There was no aspect of the game that favored UAB, the defending Conference USA champions from 2018. This was a flat-out stomping by the Owls.

Things definitely got chippy as the game continued, leaving UAB head coach Bill Clark searching for answers after a rather undisciplined season from the Blazers. UAB averaged just over 69 penalty yards per game this season and was flagged 11 times for 83 yards in this one. This was certainly a frustrating way to see this season end for Clark and the Blazers, although they will still be heading to a bowl game for a chance to end the season on a winning note. The fact UAB has a shot at a 10-win season is still a remarkable show of just how great a job Clark continues to be doing with his program.

The future of Kiffin will now be a significant story. With the Conference USA championship behind him, reports that Kiffin could be close to finalizing a deal to become the next head coach at Ole Miss could move across the finish line. Kiffin has a record of 26-13 at FAU with two Conference USA championships in his three seasons with the program. Success at FAU was always likely to lead to Kiffin receiving offers from some power conference programs, so it was only a matter of time before this inevitably unfolded. For Kiffin, a chance to return to the SEC, where he was briefly the head coach of Tennessee and worked under Nick Saban as an offensive coordinator prior to his arrival at FAU, will certainly be among the biggest coaching headlines of the offseason.

Whether Kiffin sticks around to coach FAU in the bowl game remains to be seen.

UPDATE (5:44 p.m. ET): Kiffin has officially been announced as the next head coach at Ole Miss.

Virginia Tech joins Ball State in losing WR Damon Hazelton to transfer

Virginia Tech football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

When it comes to Damon Hazelton, the Virginia Tech football team has some transfer company.

Back in May of 2017, the Virginia Tech football team announced that Ball State transfer wide receiver Damon Hazelton had been officially added to the roster. Three years and two on-field seasons later, however, Hazelton took to Twitter to announce that he will be transferring from the Hokies as well.

“Want to say thank you to Virginia Tech, coaches and community for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this University athletically and earn my degree,” the receiver wrote. “It has been an unbelievable time here. To all my brothers and teammates, I love each and every one of you and know this year will be nothing short of amazing.”

As he indicated in his post, Hazelton will be leaving as a graduate transfer.

After sitting out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Hazelton led the Hokies in catches (51), yards (802) and touchdowns (eight) in 2018. This past season, he again led the Hokies in receiving touchdowns (eight), while he was second in yards (527) and tied for second in receptions (31).

Including his time at Ball State, Hazelton has totaled 1,834 yards and 20 touchdowns on 133 catches. The 2020 season will be his final year of eligibility.

After Tulane flirtation, Texas Tech QB Jett Duffey moving on to Central Michigan

Jett Duffey
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For Jett Duffey, the past few weeks have been interesting. To say the least.

In mid-December, the Texas Tech quarterback entered the NCAA transfer database. Nearly four weeks later, Duffey announced on a Twitter account that has since been deleted that he would continue his collegiate playing career at Tulane.

Three days later, however, Jett Duffey announced on that same since-deleted account that he was withdrawing his commitment to the Green Wave and reopening his recruitment. In a text message to ESPN.com‘s Adam Rittenberg, though, the graduate transfer revealed that he will now transfer to Central Michigan.

From ESPN’s report:

According to a report from Nola.com, Duffey was originally planning to transfer to Tulane but was denied academic admission. A source told ESPN that Duffey would meet the requirements for admission at Central Michigan.

At this point, Jim McElwain‘s CMU football program hasn’t confirmed the transfer’s addition to the roster.

Jett Duffey, a three-star 2016 signee, started 11 games during his time with the Red Raiders. Eight of those starts came over the last eight games of the 2019 regular season.

In 10 games total this past season, Duffey passed for 2,840 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions in completing just over 65 percent of his 367 pass attempts. He threw for 300-plus yards in five straight games and seven times overall in 2019, including a season-high 424 in the early October win over Oklahoma State; his career-high is 444 against Texas in November of 2018.

In 2018, Duffey became the first Red Raider quarterback to lead the team in rushing (339 yards) since Joe Barnes in 1973. This past season, he ran for 212 yards.

Washington State raids Wyoming coaching staff for defensive assistants

Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

New Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich is putting together his new coaching staff in Pullman, and he is picking from an old Mountain West Conference foe to fill some spots. Jake Dickert, who had been Wyoming’s defensive coordinator for the past season, will join Rolovich and the Cougars to fill the same role. And that’s not all. Dickert will reportedly be bringing two more Wyoming defensive coaches with him; defensive ends coach AJ Cooper and cornerbacks coach John Richardson.

While that is a bit of a shakeup for Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl to deal with at Wyoming, it will help Rolovich put together his first coaching staff at a power conference program. Bringing in some coaches he has a familiarity with makes sense, especially considering how Wyoming has typically played on a defensive level in the last few seasons. If Washington State is going to contend for a Pac-12 title under Rolovich, improving the defensive side of the football will be essential in a division that also features defending Pac-12 champion Oregon and Washington.

Dickert also coached linebackers at Wyoming in addition to serving as defensive coordinator.

Record 111 college football underclassmen have declared early for NFL draft

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
2 Comments

The deadline for college football underclassmen to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft has expired, and it looks as though a record number of underclassmen will be hoping to turn pro. Although the NFL will confirm an official number in the coming days, the unofficial count currently sits at 111 underclassmen making themselves eligible for this year’s NFL draft. The 111 underclassmen is a new record for the NFL draft.

According to The Sporting News, there are 111 confirmed underclassmen who have made the decision to forgo their senior seasons for a shot at being drafted in the NFL. One of the last players to make his plan clear was Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, who publicly declared for the draft on Saturday. National champion LSU alone has nine players who have declared early for the NFL draft to go along with its graduating seniors.

With 111 confirmed players declaring early, the NFL draft will have at least 100 underclassmen on the board for the third consecutive season. Last year, the NFL reported a total of 103 underclassmen for the 2019 NFL draft. The previous season saw 106 players make themselves eligible for the draft. The 106 players in 2018 was a record number of underclassmen for the NFL draft. A total of 95 underclassmen were reported by the NFL in 2017.

The obvious concern with such a large number of underclassmen declaring for the draft is the growing number of underclassmen who may not be drafted. Last year, 49 players who declared early went undrafted. With only so many draft picks to go around, the more underclassmen that declare makes it more difficult for some players to get drafted. That doesn’t necessarily mean the player made a mistake turning pro, as undrafted players will still find a number of landing spots in undrafted free agency. And for some players, that may end up being the better path than being drafted in the sixth or seventh round because they would then get to choose from potential landing spots.

This year’s total could have been higher, but decisions by players like running backs Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State (HERE), Travis Etienne of Clemson (HERE),  and Najee Harris of Alabama held the record number down, relatively speaking.

If you are looking for something to entertain you while checking in on some spring college football games, the 2020 NFL Draft will take place from April 23-25 in Las Vegas.