There may be two head coach openings in the AAC eventually this offseason but for now, there’s just one at USF.
That’s the result of Tulsa confirming to the Tulsa World that head coach Philip Montgomery would return to the Golden Hurricane in 2020 despite going 4-8 this past season.
“This football program has enjoyed a lot of success over the last 15 years in particular — 10 bowl games in the last 15 years — but we haven’t been bowl-eligible the past three consecutive years,” AD Derrick Gragg said Thursday. “Everyone involved finds that unacceptable.
“Going forward, we do feel confident that Philip Montgomery is the coach who can get us back to championship-level football. He’s had the program at that level and competed for a division championship (in 2016). But we expect to be bowl-eligible at the base of it as far as a goal program-wise.”
While you famously are what your record says, there’s little doubt that Tulsa was way more competitive than their four wins showed. They were a few missed field goals away from knocking off both Memphis and SMU, each of which won 10 teams this year. They also upset UCF at home and thumped East Carolina to close out 2019 on a high note.
Montgomery has two seasons left on his contract and buying him out of those would have proven to be expensive for a school that generally doesn’t have a ton of money to spend. The stronger showing this season combined with the buyout figure likely made it a pretty easy decision to keep the coaching staff in place going forward.
As Gragg noted though, the bar has already been set for 2020 at a bowl game or bust going forward.
Most of the political world may be focused on the upcoming Democratic debates this month but for a slice of the college football world, no debate looms larger than the one concerning who gets the automatic Group of Five bid to the New Year’s Six.
AAC commissioner Mike Aresco has been on a media blitz recently to sump for his league the past two weeks, appearing on a variety of outlets as diverse as Bloomberg to the regular national radio and talk shows that dot the landscape. His message is a pretty simple one that he backs up with plenty of strength of schedule arguments but is essentially: the winner of Saturday’s Memphis-Cincinnati game should get the invite regardless what happens elsewhere.
The Tigers have been the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s top-ranked Group of Five team recently and likely sit with a win-and-in scenario. The question is though, what happens if the two-loss Bearcats emerge victorious?
That’s what fans of Boise State and Appalachian State are hoping for as both, if they win their respective conference title games, will be positioned to grab the bit in a close race with the AAC winner.
Now it appears that both the MWC and Sun Belt commissioners are joining Aresco in getting their talking points out in hopes that they somehow make their way to the committee’s ears.
“I am disappointed that Appalachian State is not ranked higher,” Sun Belt commish Keith Gill told The Athletic this week. “They are 11-1, 6-0 on the road, the only Group of 5 team to beat two Autonomy 5 teams on the road, and I believe that their body of work deserves more respect.”
“We just let the results kind of speak for themselves,” MWC counterpart Craig Thompson added. “I think we’ve done enough. When it really gets down to it, it’s the people in the room at the Gaylord in Texas (the CFP committee) that’ll make the determination. So as long as we’re stating our case, everything else is kind of superfluous. It really doesn’t matter what others think. It’s those people that are raising their hand”
While neither are quite beating the drum like their AAC counterpart, it’s clear there’s going to be plenty of campaigning for the elusive spot — and the hefty revenue bump that comes with it — from now until Sunday.
At least based on the sportsbooks, you shouldn’t expect much drama on championship weekend — which means we should all brace for absolute and utter hell breaking loose, of course.
Friday night and on into Saturday, the 10 FBS conferences will hold their respective league championship games, the results of which will not only shape the College Football Playoff but the New Year’s Six Bowls and all the way down to the lower-tier bowls. As of this posting, and by way of the BetMGM Sportsbook, nearly half of those 10 title games feature double-digit odds:
A fifth, the Big 12 championship game, is nearly double-digits as No. 6 Oklahoma is a 9½-point favorite over No. 7 Baylor.
Editor’s note: Need tickets to this weekend’s games? Click here
The other five matchups have hovered around seven points or so, including the SEC title game featuring 6½-point favorite and second-ranked LSU clashing with No. 4 Georgia, since the matchups were decided last weekend:
I would never, ever be confused with a uniform fashionista, but these are too bad-ass to not note.
As has become customary, Navy and its apparel partner, Under Armour, on Thursday unveiled special uniforms for its annual rivalry game with rival Army the Saturday after next. “Inspired by Navy Football’s uniforms of the 1960s,” a release from the service academy began, “this throwback uniform pays tribute to those who have paved the road to greatness in Navy Football history.”
Also from the release:
With 139 years of college football history, there are few programs in the country who boast richer traditions than Navy, yet the 1960s era of Navy football in particular sticks out. From 1960-63, Navy posted a 30-12 record, went 4-0 against Army, was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country and played in both the Orange and Sugar Bowls. Navy produced two Heisman Trophy winners during that time with Joe Bellino winning the award in 1960 and Roger Staubach in 1963.
The uniform numbers of the two Heisman winners will be recognized on the front of the helmets, which will pay tribute to the ones worn during the sixties.
(For more photos, click HERE.)
First contested in 1890, this year’s meeting will be the 120th playing of the Army-Navy game. Navy leads the series 60-52-7, although Army has won the last three after snapping a 14-game losing streak in 2016.
Ahead of the American Athletic Conference’s championship game this weekend, one of its participants is, not surprisingly, well-represented in the latest league to release its postseason award winners.
Very late Wednesday afternoon, the AAC announced the winners of its five major awards based on regular-season play. Memphis, which will square off with Cincinnati in the league’s title game Saturday, claimed two of those honors, as did Navy.
Below are those recipients:
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Malcolm Perry, QB, Navy
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Quincy Roche, DE, Temple
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CO-SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Dane Roy, P, Houston
Antonio Gibson, WR/KR, Memphis
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR
Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
The All-AAC teams were also unveiled, with just two players being unanimous selections — Memphis redshirt freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell, SMU senior wide receiver James Proche. For the complete list of first- and second-teams as well as honorable mentions, click HERE.