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NFL coaching carousel begins, so get ready for the rumor mill to spill over to college football

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Today is Bloody Monday around the NFL as the regular season has come to a close. Head coaching vacancies have been made with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and more. And with the NFL coaching carousel now in full swing, do not be surprised to hear some conversation pick up about potential candidates coming from the world of college football.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has been one of the trendy names to follow in the NFL rumor mill, although the head coach of the Wolverines appears to be keeping his distance whenever asked about the possibility of pursuing a job in the NFL. Harbaugh has stated he does not really have representatives, and the Jets have turned aside the rumors suggesting the franchise was looking to make a push for Harbaugh.

For years, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has been seen as a likely candidate to make the jump to the NFL at some point in time. Coming off an undefeated regular season only to be shown the exit from the College Football Playoff in dominant fashion against Clemson will certainly have some suggesting Kelly may have tapped out at Notre Dame and could be willing to look for a new challenge. Confirming his allegiance to Notre Dame is nothing new for Kelly, as he’s been doing it multiple times during his time in South Bend. We’ll see if anyone kicks up some dust on his name for a potential job opening.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has had his name thrown around by some NFL folks, and with the success of Baker Mayield in his rookie year with the Cleveland Browns, it’s not difficult to understand why. Former Texas Tech head coach and current USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury has also had his name tossed around at times, more likely as a coordinator however. There are also reports that Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald could get a look from the Green Bay Packers. Former Washington and USC head coach and Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian could be out of a job as Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, so it would not be out of the question Sarkisian makes his way back to college football in some capacity either. This thing works both ways, right?

Then there are the college coaches who have some previous NFL head coaching experience. Good luck prying Nick Saban back to the NFL when he is the God of Alabama football at the height of his career, but might an NFL franchise be willing to give a guy like Herm Edwards another shot after proving some doubters wrong in his first season at Arizona State? Given how coaching hires are made, recycling a veteran coach like Edwards would hardly be a surprising move by some NFL franchise.

This time of the year, nothing should be considered completely off the table, so brace yourselves, college football fans. This coaching carousel isn’t quite done just yet (and it was already potentially in motion with some recent vacancies already opened up at Houston and Temple).

Kyler Murray is Oklahoma’s fourth-straight Big 12 offensive player of the year

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An Oklahoma player winning the Big 12 offensive player of the year award is beginning to be routine in Norman. Quarterback Kyler Murray continued a streak for the Sooners by being named the Big 12’s offensive player of the year on Wednesday, marking the fourth consecutive season an Oklahoma player has been recognized as the conference’s top offensive player.

Murray wins the award one year after former Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield won the award. Mayfield won the award in 2015 as well, with former Sooners wide receiver Dede Westbrook taking the award in 2016. This was Oklahoma’s eighth player in program history to win the Big 12 offensive player of the year award, joining Sam Bradford, Jason White and Josh Heupel on the list.

West Virginia linebacker David Long was recognized as the conference’s defensive player of the year. He is the first Mountaineer to win the award. Baylor wide receiver Jalen Hurd was named the Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year, and Iowa State defensive back Greg Eisworth took the defensive newcomer of the year award.

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. also was recognized by the Big 12 as the offensive freshman of the year. Texas defensive back Caden Sterns was named defensive freshman of the year.

The Big 12 handed out two awards for coach of the year this season, with the honor being shared by Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

The full list of Big 12 awards is listed below.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, QB, Jr., Allen, Texas

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
David Long Jr., West Virginia, LB, Jr., Cincinnati, Ohio

OFFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Jalen Hurd, Baylor, WR, Sr., Hendersonville, Tenn.

DEFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Greg Eisworth, Iowa State, DB, So., Grand Prairie, Texas

OFFENSIVE FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Pooka Williams Jr., Kansas, RB, New Orleans, La.

DEFENSIVE FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Caden Sterns, Texas, DB, Cibolo, Texas

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Austin Seibert, Oklahoma, K/P, Sr., Belleville, Ill.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN OF THE YEAR
Dalton Risner, K-State, Sr., Wiggins, Colo.
Dru Samia, Oklahoma, Sr., Sacramento, Calif.
Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia, Sr., Miami, Fla.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR
Charles Omenihu, Texas, Sr., Rowlett, Texas

CHUCK NEINAS COACHES OF THE YEAR
Matt Campbell, Iowa State (3rd Season)
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma (2nd Season)

Murray was one of seven Oklahoma players named to the Big 12’s first-team all-conference offense. The Sooners quarterback beat out West Virginia’s Will Grier for the First Team spot, with the Mountaineers passer headling the All-Big 12 Second Team All-Conference roster.

You can view the entire All-Big 12 teams HERE.

Oklahoma officially confirms dismissal of Mike Stoops, names Ruffin McNeill defensive coordinator

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Monday morning started off with Oklahoma officially announcing the dismissal of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, news that started to break Sunday evening. Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley has promoted assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach Ruffin McNeill to the role of defensive coordinator for the remainder of the 2018 season. Defensive specialist Bob Diaco will take on the role of outside linebackers coach.

“I have great respect for Mike,” Riley said in a released statement. “He’s a quality football coach, great man and a close friend. It became time for a change in our program and that happens sometimes in football, but we cannot lose sight of the accomplishments Mike had at Oklahoma. He was responsible for a lot of success and deserves the gratitude of everyone associated with Sooner football, not only for his role in the winning, but for coaching with integrity.”

McNeill has previous defensive coordinator experience with UNLV, Fresno State, Texas Tech. Diaco is also a former defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and Notre Dame under Brian Kelly as well as Nebraska.

“Ruffin has an impressive r√©sum√©,” Riley said. “That’s why I wanted him on our staff in the first place. I have confidence in his knowledge and leadership. Bob has a lot of experience in very good programs and also has a list of accomplishments that will help him step in and make an immediate impact. We are fortunate to have these men in our program. They’ll be ready to get to work in new roles right away.”

Stoops was fired after this weekend’s loss to Texas, a 48-45 setback in the Red River Rivalry that saw Oklahoma’s defense once again continue to struggle to get a hold of the game. Although Oklahoma has an offense that is more than capable of leading the Sooners to a Big 12 championship and a possible spot in the College Football Playoff, Oklahoma’s biggest shortcomings in recent years seem to come back to defensive issues, including last season’s regular-season loss to Iowa State and the Rose Bowl playoff loss to Georgia.

Stoops, of course, was one of many assistant coaches who remained in the Oklahoma coaching staff during a head coaching transition last year when Mike’s brother Bob Stoops suddenly retired and handed the program over to Riley. Once Bob Stoops retired, it was fair to wonder just how long Riley would stand by the defensive coordinator that has commonly been a target for criticism when things go wrong for the Sooners.

Update: Kyler Murray will not start for Oklahoma vs. Baylor; Austin Kendall gets first start

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UPDATE: Austin Kendall will get the start for Oklahoma today. Kendall’s mother, via Twitter, spilled the beans with a message on what has turned to a private account saying “Austin’s first collegiate start is today against Baylor!

You have to love the college football rumor mill. It may be something, or it could lead to absolutely nothing. Either way, when a rumor surrounding the playing status of a potential Heisman Trophy candidate playing for a power conference favorite and playoff contender surfaces hours before kickoff, it is difficult to avoid entirely.

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is the subject of some recent rumors popping up over the last 24 hours, with speculation he may not start for the Sooners today in a Big 12 home game against Baylor. The reason for any potential suspension appears to be something as minor as showing up late for practice. Dean Blevins of OKC-KWTV in Oklahoma noted the recent rumors about the starting quarterback and Heisman hopeful on Twitter late last night.

If that is indeed the offense and Murray is stripped of the chance to start, do not expect Lincoln Riley to keep Murray out of action for very long. Not starting is not the same punishment as not playing, as Murray could come on the field as early as the second snap from scrimmage or the second series of the game.

Unless there is more to the story, Murray should be available fairly early at the very worst for Oklahoma. The Sooners host Baylor at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

UPDATE: Austin Kendall will get the start for Oklahoma today. Kendall’s mother, via Twitter, spilled the beans with a message on what has turned to a private account saying “Austin’s first collegiate start is today against Baylor!

What do Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher have that Nick Saban doesn’t? A No. 1 overall NFL draft pick

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The NFL draft is coming up later this week, and a handful of college football coaches could potentially have their first player chosen first overall. Among those looking to join a short list of active head coaches with a top overall draft pick on their watch includes Penn State’s James Franklin, USC’s Clay Helton and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl.

There are just six active head coaches in FBS that have sent a player to the top of the NFL draft order, and only one of those coaches are currently at the same school they had a player go No. 1 overall. Stanford’s David Shaw was the head coach of the Cardinal when Andrew Luck went with the first¬†overall pick of the 2012¬†NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts. The other five coaches on the current list have since moved on to another job since they had a player go with the first pick in the draft. Three of those active coaches will have new jobs starting this fall.

Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M was the head coach of Florida State when quarterback Jameis Winston went first overall in 2015. More recently, Sonny Dykes was the head coach at Cal when Jared Goff went to the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. Dykes is now the head coach at SMU. And just last year, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin saw defensive end Myles¬†Garrett go to the Cleveland Browns from Texas A&M with the first pick.

The two other coaches on the list of active coaches with a¬†top draft pick are¬†Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Mark Richt of Miami. Meyer was getting settled in at Florida after leaving Utah, but he was watching admirably as Utah quarterback Alex Smith went to the San Francisco¬†49ers with the first¬†pick in 2005. Richt’s top draft pick from his time at Georgia was quarterback¬†Matthew Stafford, who was taken first overall by the Detroit Lions in 2009.

You may have noticed (as if the headline didn’t give it away) there are some notable head coaches in college football without a top overall draft pick. Despite all the success of Nick Saban at Alabama, including a factory of NFL talent sent through the draft in recent years, a top overall pick continues to elude Saban. Not that he is worried about such a thing of course. Alabama’s NFL draft output is far more impressive when you realize quantity and quality are not short on supply¬†in Tuscaloosa. During Saban’s time at Alabama, the highest draft pick from the school has been running back Trent Richardson¬†with the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft (Cleveland Browns). Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus also went third overall to the Buffalo Bills in 2011.

But again, Alabama may not have a first overall pick, but the Crimson Tide lead the pack when it comes to first-round draft picks.

Here is a list of all the active head coaches with one No. 1 overall NFL draft pick:

  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona: Myles Garrett, DE (2017)
  • Sonny Dykes, SMU: Jared Goff, QB (2016)
  • Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: Jameis Winston, QB (2015)
  • David Shaw, Stanford: Andrew Luck, QB (2012)
  • Mark Richt, Miami: Matthew Stafford, QB (2009)
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Alex Smith, QB (2005)

Wyoming’s¬†Josh Allen is considered one of the favorites to be chosen with the first pick Thursday night in the NFL draft, which would add Craig Bohl to the list (and he gets some of the credit for No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz, too). Penn State running back Saquon Barkley would add James Franklin to the list. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is another trendy pick for the top pick, but his head coach, Jim Mora, is no longer an active coach at this time. Sam Darnold of USC would add Clay Helton to the list, and Lincoln Riley would make the jump into the conversation if Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield happens to go first overall.

We’ll find out Thursday night if a new coach joins the list or not.