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Auburn hires Jack Bicknell Jr. as OL coach

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A week after a hole opened up on his Auburn Tigers football coaching staff, Gus Malzahn has filled it.

Jan. 7, AU confirmed that J.B. Grimes was stepping down as offensive line coach to “pursue other opportunities.” During the national championship game Monday night, the Auburn Tigers football program announced that Jack Bicknell Jr. has been hired to replace Grimes.

AU made the announcement via its Twitter account.

Bicknell spent the past three seasons as the line coach at Ole Miss. Prior to that, he spent nine seasons in the same position in the NFL. The 56-year-old assistant served stints with the Miami Dolphins (2014-15), Pittsburgh Steelers (2013), Kansas City Chiefs (2012) and New York Giants (2009-11).

From 2009-11, Bicknell was the line coach at Boston College. His father, Jack Bicknell Sr., was the head coach at BC from 1981-90.

This past season, the Tigers were third in the SEC and 33rd nationally in averaging 199.1 yards per game.  Their 1.38 sacks per game allowed were fourth in the conference and tied for the 18th-fewest in the country.

Mike Leach is the new head coach at Mississippi State

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Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin in the SEC? In the same division?  It’s happening…

Since Joe Moorhead was ousted at Mississippi State, Mike Leach has been on the periphery of discussions as to potential replacements.  Overnight, however, it was reported that the current Washington State head coach had interviewed for the MSU job this past weekend.

Thursday, it was being reported that Leach will become the next head coach at Mississippi State.  A short time later, MSU’s athletic director provided video confirmation of the hiring.

Leach just completed his eighth season at Washington State.  He’s 55-47 with the Cougars, including an 11-win season in 2018.  Wazzu went 6-7 in 2019, the fourth time the school has finished below .500 under Leach.

Including his 10 years at Texas Tech, Leach is 139-90 as a head coach.

The hiring of Leach helps assuage the anguish the university has felt the past week or so.

Since firing Moorhead, Louisiana’s Billy Napier has turned down overtures from the university. Former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik interviewed for the job, but pulled his name from consideration the next day.  Former MSU football player Joe Judge was considered a (the?) leading candidate to return home. Instead, the New England Patriots special teams coordinator was named as the New York Giants head coach.

It had gotten to the point where Louisiana Tech’s Skip Holtz is tossing his name into the mix.

Now, Leach will again cross swords with Kiffin.  Hired by Ole Miss last month, Kiffin was at USC as head coach from 2010 until late September of 2013.  One of Kiffin’s last losses at the school?  To Leach and Wazzu.

It’s safe to say that, at this point, the 2020 Egg Bowl will be one of the most anticipated games of the entire season.  And it’s only January.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t thank Mr. Dog Pisser for helping to trigger the series of events that led us to Leach-Kiffin, the Sequel.

UPDATED 3:56 P.M. ET: MSU has revealed that Mike Leach will officially be introduced as head coach at one p.m. ET Friday.

Below are statements released by the university after officially announcing the hiring.

HEAD COACH MIKE LEACH
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be the head football coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. I loved Washington State, but I am excited for the next chapter in the SEC. It’s a privilege to be a part of the MSU family, and we look forward to getting down to Starkville shortly.”

ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JOHN COHEN
“Mike Leach is a proven winner who has established a culture of excellence for nearly two decades as a head coach. An offensive genius and two-time national coach of the year, he has a track record of building programs to national prominence with accountability and a blue-collar approach. We are thrilled to welcome him and his family to the Mississippi State family and look forward to watching our football program grow under his leadership.”

MSU PRESIDENT MARK KEENUM
“I want to commend Athletics Director John Cohen and his staff for conducting a very thorough and true national search. In Coach Mike Leach, that search produced a charismatic leader who has proven he can both win football games at a high level and motivate teams to play up to their potential. I’m excited about the future of our football program.”

Mike MacIntyre one of two coaches added to Memphis staff

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As Ryan Silverfield assembles his first Memphis Tigers football staff, he’s turned to a former head coach to assume an important role.

Early Thursday afternoon, Memphis confirms that Silverfield has named Mike MacIntyre as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.  The school noted that the addition is pending completion of State of Tennessee hiring protocols.

MacIntrye has been an FBS head coach twice, at Colorado (2013-18) and San Jose State (2010-12).

“Mike was the perfect fit to lead our defense,” said the Memphis Tigers football head coach in a statement. “Just three years ago, he was the National Coach of the Year. He is a Bill Parcells disciple with five years coaching in the NFL. He graduated from high school in Nashville and has deep roots in this state.

“He is a leader of men on and off the field. Coach Mac has nine years of head coaching experience and will be a tremendous asset to our program. He and his wife, Trisha, can’t wait to get to Memphis!”

Last season, MacIntyre was the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss.  He’s also been a coordinator at Duke (2008-09) and Temple (1997-98).

In addition to MacIntyre, the Memphis Tigers football program also confirmed the hiring of Charles Clark as defensive backs coach.  Like MacIntyre, Clark spent the 2019 season at Ole Miss.

For two seasons (2017-18), Clark was the cornerbacks coach at Oregon. He was also a part of MacIntyre’s Colorado staff, as safeties coach in 2013 and 2014 and cornerbacks coach in 2015 and 2016.

“Charles is a home run hire,” Silverfield said. “He is a very well-respected man and defensive backs coach. He has great ties to this region and has been very successful at every stop. Not only does Charles do a tremendous job on the field, but he mentors his players and develops great relationships off the field. It is always good to have another coach from the 904 here in the 901! We are so excited to have Charles, his wife, Kristie, and their family move up the road to join us here in Memphis.”

College Football All-Decade Team — CFT’s selections

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Hey, look, it’s a College Football All-Decade Football Team, so let the whining commence in earnest as there’s little doubt that we hate (insert name of your favorite player from your favorite team here).

While it might be hard for some to believe, we have come to the end of yet another decade. As such, we — Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, Kevin McGuire and myself — decided to cobble together a list of players who have been the best of the best in college football over the past 10 years. And, yes, we’ve done so fully aware of the verbal slings and written arrows that are sure to follow.

(Writer’s note: Speaking of the esteemed panel and verbal slings/written arrows, their personal Twitter accounts can be found HERE, HERE and HERE. Fire away at will.)

This was truly an impossible task — with a small handful of exceptions. Justin Blackmon as one of the wide receivers? Zero doubt. Luke Kuechly manning one of the linebacker spots? No-brainer. Aaron Donald in the middle of the defensive line? Obviously.

Outside of those three, plus a couple of more? Good luck.

Let’s also be clear: This team is based on what the players did at the collegiate level.  What they did or didn’t do in the NFL has no — zero, none, zip, zilch, nada — bearing whatsoever in this endeavor.

One final note before we get on to the festivities: Players needed to have spent more than half of their collegiate careers in this decade to be included. Thus, players such as Alabama’s Mark Barron, Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles, Alabama’s Julio Jones, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh and Texas’ Early Thomas were ineligible.

With that all out of the way, let’s get it on.  Or something.

OFFENSE

QB: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
A three-time Heisman finalist, the former two-time walk-on finally claimed the trophy in 2017.  Twice Mayfield helped lead the Sooners into the College Football Playoffs as well as breaking the FBS pass-efficiency rating each of his last two seasons in Norman.  This was arguably the hardest selection as I wouldn’t argue one bit if someone were to put the special mention in this spot.
(Special Mention: Deshaun Watson, Clemson)
(Honorable mention: Lamar Jackson, Louisville; Robert Griffin III, Baylor)

RB: Derrick Henry, Alabama; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin 
The only reason this position was “easier” to select than quarterback is the fact that there are two players instead of one.  Taylor is a two-time Doak Walker Award winner who this season, in breaking Herschel Walker‘s record, became the only player in FBS history with more than 6,000 yards rushing his first three seasons.  As part of the Crimson Tide’s 2015 title team, Henry won the Heisman Trophy after rushing for more than 2,200 yards and 28 touchdowns.  He was the only running back to win the Heisman this decade.
(Special mention: Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State; Christian McCaffrey, Stanford)
(Honorable mention: Any other Wisconsin running back; Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona)

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State*; Amari Cooper, Alabama*
As noted earlier, Blackmon was one of the no-brainers.  In 2010 and 2011, Blackmon caught 233 passes for 3,304 yards and 38 touchdowns.  He’s one of just two receivers to win back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards, the other being Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree. Cooper put up two 1,000-yard seasons during his three years in Tuscaloosa, winning the Biletnikoff following the 2014 season.  He was a unanimous All-American that year as well.
(Special mention: Corey Davis, Western Michigan)
(Honorable mention: Justin Hardy, East Carolina; Marquie Lee, USC; James Washington, Oklahoma State)

TE: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Andrews totaled 22 touchdowns during his three seasons with the Sooners, coinciding with Baker Mayfield‘s time in Norman.  He was named the winner of the Mackey Award after catching 62 passes for 958 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017.
(Honorable mention: Jake Butts, Michigan; Evan Ingram, Ole Miss; Nick O’Leary, Florida State)

OT: Barrett Jones, Alabama*; Brandon Scherff, Iowa*
Jones was a four-year starter at Alabama.  He was a Freshman All-American at guard, won the 2011 Outland Trophy at tackle and claimed the 2012 Rimington Trophy at center.  Those last two seasons, he was a consensus All-American.  Scherff started at both guard and tackle at Iowa, and was a consensus All-American and Outland Trophy winner for the 2014 season.
(Special mention: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M; Cam Robinson, Alabama)
(Honorable mention: Spencer Drango, Baylor; Jake Matthews, Texas A&M; David Yankey, Stanford)

G: Quinton Nelson, Notre Dame*; David DeCastro, Stanford
Nelson was a three-year starter for the Fighting Irish.  He earned unanimous All-American honors in 2017.  A two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection, DeCastro was a unanimous All-American in 2011.
(Honorable mention: Chance Warmack, Alabama)

C: Pat Elflein, Ohio State
Elflein began his career as a guard, where he was twice named All-Big Ten.  After moving to center, he was named as the 2016 winner of the Rimington Trophy.
(Special mention: Ryan Kelly, Alabama; Billy Price, Ohio State)

DEFENSE

DE: Joey Bosa, Ohio State*; Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
On the defensive side of the ball, this might’ve been the toughest group to select.  His last two seasons in Columbus, Bosa was a unanimous All-American one year and a consensus All-American the other.  In three seasons, he totaled 51 tackles for loss and 26 sacks. Garrett was a two-time All-American who had 31 sacks his last two seasons with the Aggies.
(Special mention: Derek Barnett, Tennessee; Chase Young, Ohio State)
(Honorable mention: Vic Beasley, Clemson, Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina; Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois)

DT: Ed Oliver, Houston; Aaron Donald, Pitt*
I think people tend to forget just how dominating Donald was at the collegiate level.  His last three seasons, Donald was credited with 63 tackles for loss (63!!!).  A two-time unanimous All-American, Donald won Outland, Lombardi, Bednarik and Nagurski Awards in the same season.  In just 32 career games, Oliver accumulated 53 tackles for loss.  In 2017, he became the first sophomore to win the Outland Trophy.
(Special mention: Christian Wilkins, Clemson)

LB: Luke Kuechly, Boston College*; Jarvis Jones, Georgia; C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Kuechly, who finished his three seasons at BC with more than 530 tackles, was a two-time consensus All-American and the winner of the 2011 Butkus, Lombardi, Lott IMPACT and Nagurski Awards.  Like Kuechly, Mosley was a two-time consensus All-American and a Butkus Award winner.  Jones, who began his collegiate career at USC, was a two-time consensus All-American as well.
(Special mention: Khalil Mack, Buffalo)
(Honorable mention: Dont’a Hightower, Alabama; Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; Roquan Smith, Georgia; Manti Te’o, Notre Dame)

CB: Morris Claiborne, LSU; Desmond King, Iowa*; Jalen Ramsey, Florida State*
Ramsey played multiple positions in the secondary during his time with the Seminoles, earning All-American accolades his last two seasons.  King was a two-time All-American as well who started all four seasons for the Hawkeyes.  His junior season, he was named winner of the Jim Thorpe Award.  Claiborne won the Thorpe Award in 2011.
(Special mention: Vernon Hargreaves, Florida)
(Honorable mention: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; Adoree’ Jackson, USC)

S: Tyrann Mathieu, LSU*; Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama*
One of the most exciting players in the sport this past decade, Mathieu was a finalist for the 2011 Heisman after a season in which, among other things, he returned two fumbles and two punts for touchdowns.  The Honey Badger won the Bednarik Award that season as well.  A two-time consensus All-American and winner of both the Bednarik and Thorpe Awards in 2017, Fitzpatrick was the greatest defensive back produced by a Tide program known for cranking out quality secondary personnel.
(Honorable mention: Landon Collins, Alabama; Grant Delpit, LSU)

SPECIALISTS

K: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State*
Twice a first-team All-American, Aguayo is the third-most accurate kicker in college football history on field goals and never missed an extra point.  Following the 2013 regular season,  he was named as the winner of the Lou Groza Award.
(Honorable mention: Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State)

P: Tom Hackett, Utah
Hackett was the second punter to win back-to-back Ray Guy Awards.  As a senior, he averages exactly 48 yards per punt. For his career, he placed nearly 44 percent of his 242 punts inside the 20-yard line.
(Special mention: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech; Michael Dickson, Texas)

RS: Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Penny finished his collegiate career tied for the most career kick return-touchdowns (7) and combined kick-/punt-return touchdowns (8) in FBS history.  Four of those seven kick returns went for 100 yards, one shy of the FBS record.
(Special mention: Adoree’ Jackson, USC)

AP: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford*
In 2015, McCaffrey shattered Barry Sanderssingle-season all-purpose yardage record, finishing that season with 3,864 yards (Sanders’ old record was 3,250).  McCaffrey finished his time with the Cardinal with (take a deep breath) 3,922 yards rushing and 21 rushing touchdowns; 1,206 yards and 10 touchdowns on 99 receptions; a 26.4-yard average and one touchdown on 56 kick returns; an 11.2-yard average and a touchdown on 34 punt returns; two passing touchdowns; and seven tackles.
(Special mention: Saquon Barkley, Penn State; Jabrill Peppers, Michigan)

(*Denotes unanimous selection)

New TV deal that replaces CBS with ESPN could mean $23 million-plus annually for each SEC school

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There may be a million problems in college football — like joining the 21st century when it comes to the NIL issue — but, for the SEC, money in a new TV deal won’t one of them.

First reported by the Sports Business Daily, CBS has pulled out of negotiations with the SEC on a new television deal.  According to the SBD, CBS, whose current contract with the conference runs through the 2023 season, had bid in the neighborhood of $300 million annually for the package. While nothing is finalized, it appears ESPN/Disney and its $330 million bid has won out.

According to al.com, “it could actually easily end up being $400 million or more when all is said and done.” That same website wrote that “FOX had also expressed serious interest in the rights if the SEC wanted a different two company arrangement.” The SBD reported that execs from FOX are expected to make an official bid presentation to the conference next month.

If the figure reported by the SBD is accurate, it would mean each member school in the SEC would receive in excess of $23 million annually.  From this package alone. The number from al.com would be $28.5 million a year.  Again, from this package alone.

For the fiscal year 2018, the average per-school payout for the SEC was $43.1 million.  Just $4 million of that figure came from the current CBS deal.

CBS has broadcast SEC football since 1996.  The network currently pays the conference $55 million annually, a pittance compared to the future numbers being tossed around.

“We made a strong and responsible bid,” CBS Sports said in a statement. “While we’ve had success with the SEC on CBS, we are instead choosing to aggressively focus on other important strategic priorities moving forward.”

The move away from CBS comes on new commissioner Greg Sankey‘s watch, a stark contrast to the strategy of his predecessor.

Letting CBS walk away from negotiations marks a significant departure in strategy from the SEC. The league willingly accepted less than it could have gotten the last time these rights were up in order to stay with CBS because then-commissioner Mike Slive liked the national platform the network gave the SEC. The $55 million per year was a steal for CBS but the partnership was certainly mutually beneficial as it helped the league build its brand and led to massive television ratings.