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Louisville makes hiring of Brian VanGorder official

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Louisville has officially announced the addition of Brian VanGorder to be the new defensive coordinator for the Cardinals. The news of the pending staff addition came over the weekend, but Louisville formally announced the hiring of the former Notre Dame and Auburn defensive coordinator to fill the vacancy at the defensive coordinator position.

“I’ve known Brian for a long time and have an extremely high level of respect for everything he’s accomplished throughout his coaching career,” Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said in a released statement. “With over 30 years of coaching experience, Brian has coordinated defenses in the National Football League, and at the highest level in college football. He’s an outstanding teacher, a great communicator, and has displayed the ability to develop players at every level.

VanGorder spent the 2017 season as a defensive analyst for Oklahoma State, and it was suspected VanGorder would be promoted by Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy to a full-time position on the coaching staff. Prior to being an analyst for Oklahoma State last season, VanGorder spent the 2016 season in a similar position for Kirby Smart at Georgia after spending the two previous seasons as the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.

With VanGorder as the defensive coordinator, Notre Dame ranked 45th and 42nd in the nation in total defense in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The Irish ranked 61st int he nation in scoring defense in 2016 after allowing 27.8 points per game.

VanGorder is a seasoned coach who has made many stops in college and the NFL over the years. In addition to his stops at Notre Dame, Georgia, and Oklahoma State, VanGorder has also made stops at UCF, Central Michigan, Western Illinois, and Auburn in college. In the NFL, VanGorder held assistant roles with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, but it is his time with the Atlanta Falcons that is of note here. VanGorder was Patrino’s linebacker coach during the head coach’s abbreviated stop in the NFL between jobs at Louisville and Arkansas. VanGorder remained in Atlanta for four more seasons as a defensive coordinator and will now be reunited with Petrino.

VanGorder replaces Peter Sirmon, who stepped down as defensive coordinator earlier this month.

Louisville issues blackout advisory for Clemson game

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Louisville’s home game this weekend against Clemson has been moved into a primetime slot, and the Cardinals are asking all of their fans to come dressed in black for the national spotlight game. The team will follow suit by breaking out the all-black alternate uniforms once again.

Bobby Petrino loves the blackout gimmick at Louisville. During his two separate stints at Louisville, the blackout has been a signature of the Petrino era since 2006. Louisville broke out the all-black alternate uniform for a 2006 game against No. 3 West Virgina and celebrated a 44-34 victory in front of a national TV audience. That was back in the old Big East, but the tradition continues under Petrino now in the ACC after former head coach Charlie Strong moved away from the alternate uniform shenanigans.

Louisville broke out the all-black uniforms for their last home game against Clemson to, in 2015.

Chad Morris, Derek Dooley among betting favorites to be next Ole Miss head coach

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It did not take long for people to start talking about who the next head coach at Ole Miss will be following the Thursday night resignation of Hugh Freeze. And somehow, one of the betting favorites has quickly become former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.

As noted by Rocky Top Talk, the Tennessee blog on SB Nation, the former Vols coach and current assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is listed as the second most-favored coach to take over at Ole Miss, listed at +500 according to BetOnline. SMU head coach Chad Morris is the current betting favorite on the betting website, with Morris listed at +300 to be the next coach of the Rebels.

Other names on the board include former LSU head coach Les Miles (+800), and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (+1400). FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has been having fun trolling about the Ole Miss fallout on Twitter, yet he is also on the board at +1600.

For what it is worth, interim head coach Matt Luke has also been given odds to keep the job, and he is listed at +1200.

Here are the latest odds as listed by BetOnline;

  • Chad Morris +300
  • Derek Dooley +500
  • Blake Anderson +700
  • Les Miles +800
  • Mike Norvell +1000
  • Brent Venables +1200
  • Scott Frost +1400
  • Chip Kelly +1400
  • Neal Brown +1600
  • Lane Kiffin +1600
  • Mike MacIntyre +1600
  • Charlie Strong +1600
  • Willie Fritz +2000
  • Bryan Harsin +2000
  • Bobby Petrino +2500

So place your bets wisely. But if you choose to place your money on Dooley, you might as well just send me your money instead.

Louisville WR Jaylen Smith out for spring, and what Petrino wants Lamar Jackson to improve

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One of Louisville’s top returning wide receivers will be out for the spring. Jaylen Smith was one of two wide receivers ruled out for the spring by head coach Bobby Petrino on Monday.

Smith underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his foot. The timetable for his return to the team is unknown at this time, but it does not appear to be something Petrino is concerned about at this time with so much time before the start of the new season. It is not as though Smith had much to prove this spring anyway.

Smith caught 27 passes last season for 599 yards and six touchdowns. With seniors James Quick and Jamari Staples moving on, it is expected Smith will see a more significant role in the offense in 2017. The absence of Smith for the spring will leave room for other receivers to have some more passes thrown their way this spring, which is always a benefit to having a key player injured.

As for the man throwing those footballs to receivers, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is not without some things to work on this spring either according to Petrino. One area Petrino wants Jackson to focus on is taking negative yardage. Jackson did run for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, so it is not as though things will not balance out in Louisville’s favor in 2017, but Jackson was limited to 33 rushing yards in two of his final three games against Houston and LSU. Houston sacked Jackson 11 times and LSU brought him down eight times in the Citrus Bowl.

Just think how dangerous Jackson will be if he does improve on what he did last season.

Saban, Harbaugh, Meyer among Maxwell Football Club coach of the year semifinalists

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer are among 16 remaining candidates for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award presented by the Maxwell Football Club.

Saban is the only coach from the SEC listed as a semifinalist, and he has never won the award that was first presented in 1989 to Michigan’s Bo Schembechler. Gene Stallings is the only Alabama coach to win the award, doing so in 1992. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was the first SEC coach since 1998 (Tennessee’s Philip Fulmer) to win the award, in 2014.

Meyer and Mike Leach are the only semifinalists to previously win the award. Meyer won the award in 2004 at Utah and Leach took the award in 2008 with Texas Tech. Penn State’s James Franklin could become the third Penn State coach to win the award, joining Joe Paterno (1990, 2005) and Bill O’Brien (2012).

The remaining semifinalists for the award are Mike MacIntyre (Colorado), Bobby Petrino (Louisville), Neal Brown (Troy), Ken Niumatalolo (Navy), Scott Frost (UCF), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech), Chris Petersen (Washington), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin).

Finalists for the award will be announced on December 12 and a winner will be named on December 29. The winner will be presented with the award on March 10, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Banquet.