Philip Montgomery

Quick offseason schedule thoughts: American’s West can help shape conference image too

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The task of changing the way the American Athletic Conference is perceived does not fall just on the shoulders of the American’s East Division. The West has some chances to help give the conference a boost as well. And with Navy joining the division, the door to some more opportunities has been opened moving forward.

The schedules among the AAC’s West teams is littered with big road tests against power conference foes and even some home games. All provide a chance for the West to rise and defend the conference’s image. Last season saw Boise State of the Mountain West Conference come away with the guaranteed New Years Six bowl spot, thanks in large part to the perception of the Boise State program and relative strength of schedule of the Mountain West Conference as a whole. The American has an opportunity to climb to the top, but it will have to work to get there. With some bright new head coaches in place at Houston (Tom Herman), SMU (Chad Morris) and Tulsa (Philip Montgomery), the bar is being raised in the West.

After already going through some of the key games in the American Athletic Conference’s East Division, here is a look at some of the more notable opportunities to come for the schools in the West this season.

Tulane vs. Duke (September 5); Tulane at Georgia Tech (September 12): Tulane may be coming off a miserable debut season in the American Athletic Conference, but it can more than make up for it by getting the conference off to a great start against the past two ACC Coastal Division champions. It may be a tall order for Tulane at this point in time, but it has a better chance of resulting in some wins than SMU’s early-season match-ups with Baylor and TCU.

Houston at Louisville (September 12): Louisville looks to be an interesting team out of the ACC Atlantic Division this season. Could a home game against Houston sandwiched between Auburn and Clemson be a trap game? Oh yes, it certainly could.

Memphis at Kansas (September 12); Memphis at Bowling Green (September 19): Pairing these two games together for one reason. First, Memphis winning at Kansas may not score major points for the conference given the perception of the Jayhawks, but it would still go down as a road win against a Big 12 opponent. But Memphis then needs to avoid a loss to MAC threat Bowling Green. Remember, we are not only looking for victories against power conference opponents, but also against the best threats from other Group of Five conferences. Knocking off Kansas and Bowling Green, the defending MAC champions, would end up giving Memphis and the AAC a nice little boost in September.

Navy vs. Air Force (October 3); Navy at Notre Dame (October 10): Following similar logic as just above with Memphis, Navy has an excellent opportunity to score some big wins in back-to-back weeks. First Navy hosts Air Force, coming off a successful season and representing the Mountain West Conference. Again, victories against other Group of Five opponents can be huge in the end. And beating Notre Dame obviously carries some weight.

Memphis vs. Ole Miss (October 17): Oh, you thought we were done with Memphis? Think again. The Tigers host the SEC’s Ole Miss in mid-October. If Memphis can defend its home turf against a power conference opponent from the hyped SEC West, their work will largely be done representing the conference in 2015.

Like the East Division, if the West can somehow come away with a .500 mark out of this slate of games, that would be a tremendous victory for the conference and would bode well for the conference’s champion. Keep in mind the AAC will hold a conference championship game this season as well, giving it one more game to showcase the best it has to offer.

One thing that should also be noted is Navy will actually play one more game after the College Football Playoff selection committee is set to make its big bowl pairings. The Army-Navy Game is scheduled for the Saturday after the release of the CFB Playoff and New Years Six bowl pairings. The expectation is this can be worked around to avoid any controversial hassles, but after seeing Baylor and/or TCU get shortchanged in part because of playing one fewer game than everyone else, it is worth keeping in mind.

Tulsa adds Baylor DT Suleiman Masumbuko

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Baylor’s loss will be Tulsa’s gain. The Golden Hurricane will be welcoming defensive tackle Suleiman Masumbuko, who reportedly will transfer from the Big 12 champions. He will be eligible immediately this fall as a graduated senior from Baylor.

Had Masumbuko stayed at Baylor he likely would have battled for playing time. At Tulsa he could quickly move to the top of the depth chart and have a better chance of playing a key role on Tulsa’s defensive line. Tulsa was 10th in total defense in the American Athletic Conference in 2014 (10th in rushing defense and 11th out of 11 teams in passing defense). Cleary there is room for improvement across the line in Tulsa.

At Tulsa, Masumbuko will be reunited with Philip Montgomery, who previously was Baylor’s offensive coordinator. Montgomery was hired by Tulsa last December in the latest edition of the coaching carousel. Tulsa later added former Baylor safeties coach Brian Norwood to be the new defensive coordinator.

FBS head coaching carousel comes to a full and complete stop

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It all got started before mid-September and lasted until the beginning of February. This past season’s edition of the coaching carousel went on a tad longer than perhaps anyone could have imagined, but with Central Michigan officially introducing John Bonamego as its new head coach today, we now have closed the book on head coaching changes among major college football programs.

Hopefully, at least.

In all we saw 15 head coaching changes at the FBS level, including seven from power conferences. Three of those power conference coaching changes came in the Big Ten, with Michigan and Nebraska each turning a page with their respective programs and Wisconsin having to react to losing a coach to the Pac-12.

Ready for a quick trip down memory lane? Here is a walk-through of the timeline of events regarding this now completed coaching carousel.

Coaching Carousel Timeline

  • September 8, 2014 – SMU head coach June Jones announces his resignation from the head coaching position. SMU names defensive coordinator Tom Mason interim head coach for the remainder of 2014 season.
  • September 28, 2014 – Kansas head coach Charlie Weis relieved of his duties. Kansas names defensive coordinator Clint Bowen interim head coach.
  • October 5, 2014 – Troy head coach Larry Blakeney announces he will resign at end of 2014 season.
  • October 13, 2014 – Buffalo relieves Jeff Quinn of his duties. Buffalo names Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Alex Wood interim head coach.
  • November 16, 2014 – Florida announces Will Muschamp will be dismissed at the end of the regular season.
  • November 28, 2014 – UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck resigns from position.
  • November 30, 2014 – Nebraska fires Bo Pelini, effective immediately. Running game coordinator Barney Cotton named interim coach for bowl game.
  • November 30, 2014 – Troy announces Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown will be new head coach.
  • November 30, 2014 – SMU announces it will hire Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris to be new head coach.
  • November 30, 2014 – Buffalo hires Wisconsin-Whitewater head coach Lance Leipold to be new head coach.
  • December 1, 2014 – Tulsa fires head coach Bill Blankenship.
  • December 2, 2014 – Michigan fires head coach Brady Hoke.
  • December 4, 2014 – Florida hires Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain to be new head coach.
  • December 4, 2014 – Nebraska hires Oregon State head coach Mike Riley to be new head coach.
  • December 5, 2014 – Kansas hires Texas A&M wide receivers coach David Beaty to be new head coach.
  • December 8, 2014 – Houston relieves head coach Tony Levine of duties.
  • December 8, 2014 – UNLV reportedly set to hire Bishop Gorman High School (NV) head coach Tony Sanchez as new head coach.
  • December 10, 2014 – Oregon State hires Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen to be new head coach.
  • December 11, 2014 – Tulsa hires Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery to be new head coach.
  • December 12, 2014 – Wisconsin hires Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst to be new head coach.
  • December 15, 2014 – Houston hires Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Tom Herman to be new head coach.
  • December 22, 2014 – Colorado State hires Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to be new head coach.
  • December 26, 2014 – Pittsburgh hires Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to be new head coach.
  • December 29, 2014 – Michigan hires former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to be new head coach.
  • January 22, 2015 – Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos leaves job to accept position as Arkansas offensive coordinator.
  • February 8, 2015 – Central Michigan hires Detroit Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego as new head coach.

Tulsa names Baylor OC Philip Montgomery its new head coach

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Over the past 11 years, multiple coaches for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane have been known as offensive innovators.

Steve Kragthorpe, Todd Graham, Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris all served head coaches or offensive coordinators within that time frame. Those names are among the most brilliant offensive minds in college football.

Tulsa is prepared to add another one as its next head coach.

The university announced Thursday that Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery will replace Bill Blankenship, who was fired on Dec. 1, and take over the Golden Hurricane program.

“We are extremely pleased to have Philip Montgomery as our head football coach,” Tulsa athletic director Derrick Gragg said in statement. “Coach Montgomery has outstanding background as a collegiate coach and recruiter. He is one of the bright offensive minds in college football and has coordinated explosive offenses at both Houston and Baylor.”

Montgomery spent the last seven seasons in Waco, Texas, as Baylor’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach calling plays for the nation’s most explosive offense. The Bears led college football in total offense each of the last two seasons. In 2013, Montgomery was named a finalist for the Broyles Awards as the nation’s top assistant coach.

Montgomery’s relationship with Baylor head coach Art Briles extended to Stephenville High School (Texas) where they combined to win two state championships. Montgomery spent 16 seasons as an assistant to Briles.

“I am truly honored to be the next head coach at the University of Tulsa,” Montgomery said. “I want to thank President Upham, Derrick Gragg and the Board of Trustees for this special opportunity. I was fortunate to be in a great position working with Coach Briles and the wonderful people at Baylor. I’ve always wanted to be a head coach, but my family and I knew that it would take the right opportunity to get me to leave Waco. Tulsa is that special opportunity. There is a lot of work to get done and trust me, I’m already on it. Get ready for some fun, fast and physical football.”

(Picture courtesy of Baylor’s athletic department)