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WATCH: After throwing seven TDs, Mason Fine conducts postgame presser in inflatable T-Rex costume

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This might be my most favorite press conference of the 2019 college football season thus far.  Check that; this is my most favorite press conference of the 2019 college football season thus far.

In North Texas’ 52-26 romp over UTEP, quarterback Mason Fine threw for 332 yards and seven touchdowns in pushing the Mean Green to 4-5 and within further earshot of bowl eligibility.  The touchdowns passes were easily a career-high for the senior, surpassing the four he had put up four times previously.

Where Fine really set himself apart, though, was in the postgame press conference where, in homage to Halloween, the quarterback showed up in an inflatable T-Rex costume.

Granted, I’m easily amused.  But that made me laugh.  A lot.  Probably a lot more than someone my age should.

That said, what’s better: Fine in the costume or Fine’s teammates acting like this is standard operating procedure for their quarterback?

Regardless of the actual answer, everybody wins.

Updated coaches salaries database released, with Dabo Swinney leading the way

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You might want to sit down for this: college football head coaches continue to make a spitload of money.

As it does around this time every year, USA Today Tuesday released an updated version of its FBS coaches salaries database.  The highest-paid?  Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and his $9.32 million in total pay, overtaking Alabama’s Nick Saban, who was tops at $8.3 million in 2018 and now sits at No. 2 at $8.86 million.

At the opposite end of the financial spectrum is Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, whose $360,000 in total compensation is the lowest salary of those obtained by USA Today.  Compensation for coaches at eight universities — Air Force, Army, BYU, Liberty, Miami, Rice, SMU, Temple — wasn’t available.

Arguably the most improbable name in the Top 10 in compensation?  Jeff Brohm at $6.6 million, ahead of the likes of Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma ($6.4 million), James Franklin of Penn State ($5.6 million) and David Shaw of Stanford ($4.6 million).  Brohm, whose wooing by Louisville led to a hefty new contract, is 2-5 this season after going 13-13 his first two seasons with the Boilermakers.

Below are the highest-paid Power Five coaches, per conference:

  • ACC — Swinney, $9.32 million
  • Big 12 — Texas’ Tom Herman, $6.75 million
  • Big Ten — Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, $7.5 million
  • Pac-12 — Washington’s Chris Petersen, $4.63 million
  • SEC — Saban, $8.86 million

Conversely, these are the lowest-paid Power Five coaches for each league:

  • ACC — Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson, $2.19 million
  • Big 12 — Kansas State’s Chris Klieman, $2.3 million
  • Big Ten — Indiana’s Tom Allen, $1.8 million
  • Pac-12 — Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin, $2 million
  • SEC — Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead, $3 million

At $5 million, USF’s Charlie Strong‘s total compensation is far and away the highest for a Group of Five coaches, with Houston’s Dana Holgorsen‘s $3.7 million the next closest.

Of the other four G5 leagues, North Texas’ Seth Littrell of Conference USA ($1.9 million), Toledo’s Jason Candle of the MAC ($1.2 million), Wyoming’s Craig Bohl of the Mountain West ($2.1 million) and Louisiana’s Billy Napier of the Sun Belt ($875,000) are the highest-paid for their respective conferences.

One final tidbit: The combined salaries of the coaches in the Sun Belt Conference ($6.5 million) is less than the compensation of eight individual head coaches — Swinney, Saban, Harbaugh, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher ($7.5 million), Georgia’s Kirby Smart ($6.9 million), Auburn’s Gus Malzahn ($6.8 million), Herman and Brohm.  Swinney and Saban also make more individually than the MAC does combined ($7.8 million).

Ryan named title sponsor of Conference USA title game

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The Conference USA football championship game now has a title sponsor and it is…. Ryan. No, not Ryan of the Gosling variety, or Nolan, or your friend from college. It’s Ryan, a “leading global tax services and software provider,” a Dallas-based LLC that offers corporate tax services firm.

The Ryan refers to the firm’s founder, G. Brint Ryan, a North Texas graduate and the namesake of UNT’s business school.

The firm will sponsor the game through 2021.

“It is an honor to welcome Ryan as the title sponsor for our premiere football game for the next three years,” commissioner Judy MacLeod said. “With Ryan, we have an outstanding local partner that will be involved not only in our sports, but also in our community efforts on campus in conjunction with the C-USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. We are excited to move forward and want to thank Chairman and CEO G. Brint Ryan for his team’s efforts in making this partnership a reality.”

Ryan is the third title sponsor of the C-USA Championship, now in its 15th year. Dynacraft BSC sponsored it in 2016-17, and Globe Life did the same in 2018.

All ten FBS conferences now stage their own title games thanks to the Sun Belt’s addition in 2018, and eight have title sponsors:

  • Dr. Pepper — Big 12, SEC, ACC
  • Discover — Big Ten
  • 76 — Pac-12
  • Hampton by Hilton — Mountain West
  • Marathon Petroleum — MAC

The 15th Conference USA Championship, and the inaugural Ryan Conference USA Championship, will take place at the home of the winningest division champion on Dec. 7 (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network).

North Texas’ leading receiver in 2018 suffers torn ACL

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The end of the season has come to an end prematurely for one of the top weapons in North Texas’ passing attack.

UNT officials, per Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle, confirmed over the weekend that Rico Bussey Jr. has been diagnosed with a torn ACL.  Suffice to say, the wide receiver will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Bussey suffered the injury in the Week 3 loss at Cal.

Last season, Bussey led the Mean Green in receptions (68), receiving yards (1,017) and receiving touchdowns (12).  Prior to the knee injury, Bussey had 150 yards and a touchdown on five catches this year.

As he’s a fourth-year senior and has played in four or fewer games, the Oklahoma native can take a redshirt for this season and return to Denton in 2020.  He could also make himself available for next year’s NFL draft.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list includes 2018 finalist Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert

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And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).

Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).

2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith

  • Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
  • Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
  • Woody Barrett, Kent State
  • Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
  • Anthony Brown, Boston College
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
  • Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
  • K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
  • Jacob Eason, Washington University
  • Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Mason Fine, North Texas
  • Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
  • Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
  • Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
  • Quentin Harris, Duke University
  • Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
  • Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
  • Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
  • Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
  • D’Eriq King, Houston
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
  • Jordan Love, Utah State University
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State University
  • Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane
  • Steven Montez, University of Colorado
  • James Morgan, FIU
  • Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
  • Kato Nelson, Akron
  • Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
  • Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
  • Malcolm Perry, Navy
  • Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
  • Armani Rogers, UNLV
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio
  • Anthony Russo, Temple University
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
  • Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
  • Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
  • Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
  • Brady White, University of Memphis
  • Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
  • Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida