If your favorite college football program is in the market for a new head coach, you may want to pay close attention to the Broyles Award. The award honors the top assistant coach in the nation, and its list of finalists for the 2015 season’s award was announced on Monday. It includes some names that will likely be a head coach in due time, some as early as this season.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley are the five finalists for the award. A few have been connected to various coaching carousel headlines and rumors already. Smart is pegged as a possible candidate for either the Georgia or South Carolina vacancy. Venables has been connected to some rumors as well and Chizik, of course, has previous head coaching success worth noting as well.
Last year’s winner, Tom Herman, won the award as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and now he is the rising head coach at Houston. Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi won the award the previous season as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator. The year before that saw Notre Dame assistant Bob Diaco win the award. He is now the head coach at UConn. Other past winners of the award that have gone on to become a head coach include Gus Malzahn, Kevin Wilson, Norm Chow, Randy Shannon, Mark Mangino, Ralph Friedgen and David Cutcliffe. You can also add Chizik’s name to that list. The 2004 Broyles Award winner later went on to be the head coach at Iowa State before returning to Auburn as head coach. He and Smart are looking to be the first two-time winner of the award.
The Broyles Award winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 8.
North Carolina has had one red zone opportunity end with an interception, another with a sack leading to a longer field goal. Regardless of a couple of missed opportunities inside the South Carolina 20-yard line, the Tar Heels find themselves leading 13-10 after the second first half of FBS college football this season (UCF and FIU beat the Belk Kickoff to the punch; UCF leading FIU 14-3).
It looked as though North Carolina was going to have a big night if the first two offensive possessions of the ballgame were any indication. The Tar Heel defense, with Gene Chizik at the helm as defensive coordinator, forced a three-and-out on the Gamecocks’ opening possession and then the offense went to work by driving right inside the red zone. Looking for six, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams threw a poor pass over the middle that was picked off by Skai Moore in the end zone.
How did Williams respond? By completing his next pass attempt for a 40-yard gain following a South Carolina punt. The long pass to Bug Howard set the pace for an up-tempo drive, which continued with a 23-yard strike to Quinshad Davis and concluded with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Howard, who broke away from a defender to make his way to the end zone. Howard’s touchdown was the first touchdown of the FBS season.
South Carolina had an answer though, driving 75 yards on seven plays to even the score at 7-7. Connor Mitch completed three of his four pass attempts and finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Pharaoh Cooper. Cooper would later walk off the field to receive medical treatment for minor cramping. Mitch would also leave the game late in the first half for cramping issues. Perry Orth took over and moved the Gamecocks into range for a long field goal try at the end of the half, but the 50+ try fell shy of the bar.
North Carolina has hired away Nebraska defensive backs coach Charlton Warren to the same job in Chapel Hill. UNC announced the staff hiring Monday.
Warren was Nebraska’s defensive backs coach in 2014, but he had served on the coaching staff at Air Force prior to that. Warren is an Air Force graduate. Warren has a connection to Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora. Fedora was an assistant with Air Force when Warren was playing for Air Force in 1997 and 1998.
Warren’s departure from Nebraska is not exactly to be unexpected given coaching turnover in Lincoln, although Warren was the only coach retained from the Bo Pelini regime by new Nebraska head coach Mike Riley.
North Carolina is in need of improving its defense, and the additions to the coaching staff this offseason appear to be addressing that need. The Tar Heels hired former Auburn national championship head coach Gene Chizik to be the team’s new defensive coordinator in one of the more notable assistant coaching hires of the year.
North Carolina finished last in the 14-team ACC in passing defense in 2014, allowing 257.4 yards per game and 31 passing touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 150.35, which is 10 points higher than the next worst opponent passer rating allowed in the ACC (Syracuse, 140.08).
Stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.
Gene Chizik is a coach with a BCS national championship ring that is still so new it has not begun to lose its shine, yet he is in position now to revive his coaching career. Chizik has been named the new defensive coordinator at North Carolina, a program that could benefit from Chizik’s return to the sideline as well as any other coaching move in the country could yield.
Chizik was first tied to the defensive coordinator job at UNC earlier this month, but the school finally made the coaching hire official today. He takes over a defense that is in major need of catching up on defense. North Carolina ranked 120th in the nation in total defense, allowing 497.8 yards per game in 2014. The Tar Heels were 119th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents to average 39.0 points per game last fall.
Chizik coached Auburn to a BCS national championship in 2011, his third season on the job. The honeymoon following the national championship ended very early though as the Tigers struggled through the 2012 season. A rough season at Auburn led to the school removing Chizik as head coach, sending Chizik to the broadcast booth and leading to the hiring of a former Chizik assistant, Gus Malzahn. Now, after staying away from coaching for two seasons, the time has come for Chizik to get back to doing what he does best; coach defense.
Chizik was the brains behind Auburn’s defense from 2002 through 2004 before being named the head coach at Iowa State. Like many coaches before him, a chance to step away from the high pressure demand that comes with being a head coach and taking on a slightly less demanding position as coordinator should serve Chizik well, especially at a program that has nowhere to go defensively than up.
As for UNC head coach Larry Fedora, his job may depend on Chizik being a successful hire as well. If things do not turn around at UNC soon, the calls for a possible change at head coach could start to escalate at Chapel Hill. And now there is a BCS championship head coach on the staff that could get a promotion out of any possible change.
Auburn wanted to buyout the contract of former head coach Gene Chizik so badly the school was willing to carve out $8.78 million just to move on. According to a report from Al.com, Auburn set aside nearly that much to buyout the contracts of Chizik and the assistant coaching staff before bringing Gus Malzahn back to Auburn.
As reported, Auburn was originally prepared to spend $11.09 million to buyout the various contracts but the total was reduced as coaches found jobs elsewhere. Chizik, who led Auburn to a national championship just four seasons ago, received a buyout of $7.5 million to account for the remainder of his money owed on his contract. Auburn will pay Chizik a little more than $200,000 per month through the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The remainder of the $8.78 million in buyout money was reserved for former assistant coaches Scot Loeffler, Brian VanGorder and Trooper Taylor. All three coaches have received their final buyout payments.
Auburn worked in the red last year, but with the buyout costs starting to trim down and with a nice boost from revenue sharing through the addition of the SEC Network, Auburn should be in decent shape a year from now.