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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.

Cal fires Sonny Dykes as head coach

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On the eve of the College Football Playoff national championship, we have yet one more coach firing to add to this year’s coaching carousel. Cal has reportedly dismissed head coach Sonny Dykes. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reported the news via Twitter. Cal has since confirmed the change.

Dykes went 19-30 in four seasons at Cal, which was highlighted mostly by an 8-5 season in 2015 that helped make quarterback Jared Goff the number one overall pick of the Los Angeles Rams. Dykes has reportedly interviewed for other potential jobs in the past couple of years, including most recently with Baylor (who ended up hiring Matt Rhule from Temple). Dykes has a career record of 41-45 which includes a three-year stint at Louisiana Tech (22-15) and two appearances in the top 25.

So, where does Cal go from here? The dream scenario would seem to be bringing Chip Kelly back to the Pac-12. Kelly, who previously guided Oregon to a national championship game appearance has been fired from two NFL head coaching jobs in the past 13 months, once with the Philadelphia Eagles and once more just recently with the San Francisco 49ers. If Cal lands Kelly, that would be a perfect combination given the current situation on each side.

UPDATE (3:00 P.M.): Cal has confirmed the coaching change. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has been named the interim head coach.

Cal’s Sonny Dykes: Eight-game schedule is the way to go (like in the SEC)

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At least one college football coach in the Pac-12 is not necessarily a big fan of the way the conference sets up its conference schedule. Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a radio interview the more ideal scheduling strategy to get to the College Football Playoff may be an eight-game conference format.

“I think (playing nine conference games) is good for the fans,” Dykes said to Jordan Canzano of The Oregonian. “I don’t know that it’s good necessarily to get teams in the College Football Playoff. It doesn’t take a lot of math ability to figure out if you play an extra conference game that’s an extra opportunity to lose. Where if you schedule the SEC schedule, you’re setting yourself up for success.”

At first glance, this may appear like a shot at the SEC scheduling suggesting an eight-game schedule is weaker and therefore easier. But that’s not entirely true given the SEC scheduling requirements. In addition to the eight-game SEC schedule, each school in the SEC is required to play one more game in non-conference play against another power conference opponent (or one deemed to be an equivalent, like BYU, Notre Dame or even Army). A number of SEC schools play a rival from the ACC, and others tend to schedule neutral site games that tend to be played against another power conference opponent. For example, Florida plays Florida State every year and Alabama has made a habit of playing marquee games in the opening week in either Atlanta or Arlington.

A nine-game conference schedule guarantees teams will be playing five road game sin the conference every other year, which balances out over time but can still be a hurdle in those years you are on the road a minimum of five times. It is also worth considering not every conference is created equally, and it can be argued eight games in the SEC is more of a challenge than nine games in the Pac-12.

The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 play a nine-game conference schedule. The ACC and SEC play eight, plus one additional game against another power conference opponent. The Big Ten also has that stipulation on top of the nine-game schedule.

“If the end game is getting teams in the College Football Playoff and giving them a chance to win a national championship then an eight-game schedule is the way to go.”

You can listen to the full audio of the interview, which includes commentary on Cal’s next game against Oregon, HERE.

Cal loses wide receiver, still a favorite vs. Texas

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California is the last remaining unbeaten team in the Pac-12 North after the developments of this past weekend. Sonny Dykes and his Bears are 2-0 following a nice win at home against San Diego State, in which the defense made some plays and took control of the game while Jared Goff put together one of many 300-yard performances to come this season. This week though Cal loses one wide receiver off the depth chart, as Erik Brown has reportedly decided to leave the program for personal reasons.

A redshirt freshman, Brown did not appear in either of Cal’s first two games. Though he has left the team, Brown will remain on scholarship and attend classes at Cal, according to a report from The San Francisco Gate. Brown was a four-star recruit in Cal’s Class of 2014 according to Rivals. There is no mention of a possibility of Brown returning to the Bears in the future, nor has there been a mention of a potential transfer. If Brown does choose to pursue a transfer at any point, he will be forced to sit out the 2016 season if he lands at another FBS program (he would be eligible right away at a lower division program).

This week Cal heads to Austin, Texas to take on the rebuilding Texas Longhorns. According to the folks at OddsShark, the Bears opened as a 1.5-point favorite and now are a 2.5-point favorite but one other outlet, 5Dimes, lists Cal as a touchdown favorite against the Longhorns. Think about that for a minute. Cal is a seven-point road favorite at Texas. Did you ever think you would see that kind of line in your life? Not even when Cal had players like Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson was that kind of line fathomable. But such is life for the Longhorns it seems.

Kansas nabs Cal o-line coach Zach Yenser

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Slowly, Kansas is building a staff that understands how the air-raid offense works. Time will tell if the pieces being put together now will be able to turn things around at Kansas any time soon.

New head coach David Beaty set out to put together a staff ready to make things happen, and so far it seems he has been able to do just that. Cal passing game coordinator Rob Likens was named the new offensive coordinator at Kansas on Monday, and on Tuesday multiple reports say Kansas will add another coach off the Cal sideline. As reported by Jayhawk Slant, Cal offensive line coach Zach Yenser will assume an identical role on the Kansas staff and will be the run game coordinator.

For Kansas, the staff seems to be in place to start building an offensive identity that takes a page from successful air-raid styles of Texas Tech and Cal. Having two coaches who worked under Sonny Dykes is a bad way to go after the improved play of Cal’s offense this past season. It should take some time for Kansas to see those kinds of results, but the mentality and coaching is there.

“Rob has been a major player in some of the best offenses in the history of college football,” Beaty said of his new offensive coordinator in a statement Monday. “I have always been a fan of Rob’s ability to develop players who produce at a high level. Rob has learned from some of the best in the country and is as fine of an offensive mind as I have been around.”

There is plenty of work to do at Kansas. The Jayhawks ranked 118th in total offense and 86th in passing offense in 2014.