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College football title odds have Clemson as way-too-early 2020 favorite


You say the corpse of the 2019 college football season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already looking ahead to 2020 when it comes to title odds?  We say of course we are.  Because that’s how we roll.  Or something.

Monday night, in New Orleans appropriately enough, LSU landed its magic carpet ride of a 2019 season in seemingly the only way possible, overwhelming Clemson with waves of offensive talent to claim the College Football Playoff championship.  The video game that was Joe Burrow, wobbly early on, righted itself in the romp, with the Heisman Trophy winner setting the single-season record for touchdown passes en route to the ever-elusive ring.

The reality that will set in a day or two from now?  Burrow has played his last down in a Tigers uniform, with the senior expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.  Burrow’s counterpart on the night, Trevor Lawrence, will return to Clemson for one more season before he’s expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As such, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has installed Clemson as a way-too-early 9/4 favorite to win the 2020 national championship.  LSU, meanwhile, sits at 8/1.

A year ago at this time?  Clemson, the reigning national champions, was at 7/2, behind Alabama at 3/2.  And LSU?  They were at 50/1 on Jan. 8, 2019.

This year, between Clemson and LSU, Ohio State comes in at an initial 3/1 and Alabama, which will be replacing Tua Tagovailoa, at 6/1.  Georgia’s odds are at 8/1 as well.

Of those five teams, just two — Clemson (Lawrence) and Ohio State (Justin Fields) — will return their starting quarterback.

At 14/1, Florida is the only other team in that neighborhood.  Six others start off at 30/1 — Auburn, Oklahoma, Oregon, Notre Dame, Penn State and Texas A&M.

And as for the Group of Five? At 1,000/1, Houston has the highest odds.

West Virginia hires Penn State assistant Gerad Parker to be new offensive cooridnator

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West Virginia may have his new offensive coordinator lined up, and it could come from an old regional rival. Penn State wide receivers coach Gerad Parker will reportedly be heading to Morgantown to be named the offensive coordinator of the Mountaineers. and Bruce Feldman of The Athletic were among the first to report the news on Friday.

West Virginia has not announced any coaching staff changes regarding Parker at this time (UPDATE: Now they have). Parker currently remains listed on Penn State’s football website.

Naming Parker the offensive coordinator would also suggest some internal coaching staff shuffling for Neal Brown, as two current assistants shared the duties in 2019. Matt Moore and Chad Scott shared co-offensive coordinator titles in addition to coaching the offensive line (Moore) and running backs (Scott). Both assistants remain on the coaching staff at West Virginia and could likely focus all of their energy on those respective position units in 2020. PArker could be sued to call the offense and coach the receivers for West Virginia, but that will have to be confirmed by West Virginia once any deal to add Parker to the staff is finalized.

West Virginia had a spot on the coaching staff open up with the departure of receivers coach Xavier Dye, who left the program to take on a roll at the newly assembled coaching staff at South Florida under new head coach Jeff Scott.

Parker has made previous assistant coaching stops with Kentucky, Tennessee-Martin, Marshall, Purdue, Cincinnati, and Duke prior to his joining the Penn State program in 2019. Parker has never been an offensive coordinator before but he has been a passing game coordinator at Tennessee-Martin and an interim head coach for Purdue for half a season in 2016.

UPDATE (7:01 p.m. ET) – West Virginia has officially announced the addition of Parker as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.

“I’m excited to add Gerad to the coaching staff at West Virginia,” West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said in a released statemtn. “I have known him for many years, and we have similar roots in the state of Kentucky. He brings years of successful experience, not only on the field but also as a recruiter who has covered a lot of territory. He will make an immediate impact on our staff. I look forward to him and his wife, Kandi, and their family becoming a part of Mountaineer football.”

Washington hands keys to offense over to John Donovan

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Officially, there will be no Kellen Moore directing the Washington Huskies football offense.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the former Boise State quarterback was deciding between the job at UW and remaining with the Dallas Cowboys.  Amidst reports that Moore had decided to stay in the NFL, the Huskies announced Friday morning that Jimmy Lake has named John Donovan as his offensive coordinator.  Donovan will also coach the Huskies’ quarterbacks.

Donovan comes to Seattle from the NFL, having spent the past four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Coach Donovan has a great deal of experience at both the college and NFL levels, learning from a lot of great offensive minds about coaching the kind of aggressive, pro-style offense we want to play here at Washington,” the new Washington Huskies football head coach said in a statement. “From my own experience, I know how much a coach can learn and grow by spending significant time in the NFL. I’m excited for him to get to Seattle and get started.”

During his time with the Jaguars, Donovan worked with running backs (2019), quarterbacks (2017-18) and wide receivers (2016).

Donovan’s collegiate stops include Penn State (2014-15), Vanderbilt (2011-13) and Maryland (2001-10).

“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of such a great university, with unbelievable football tradition, like the University of Washington,” Donovan said. “Thanks to Coach Lake and everyone involved for this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting started. Go Dawgs!”

This past season, the Huskies were fifth in the Pac-12 and 41st nationally in scoring offense at 32 points per game.  Their 391.2 yards of total offense per game was seventh in the conference and 79th in the country.

The day after Christmas, starting quarterback Jacob Eason announced he would be leaving UW early for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Penn State hires Boston College’s Phil Trautwein as new OL coach

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Penn State football didn’t wait long, turning to Phil Trautwein to fill a hole on James Franklin‘s coaching staff.

New Year’s Eve, Penn State announced that Matt Limegrover had been let go after four seasons with the program. Friday, the program announced that Trautwein will replace Limegrover.

Like his predecessor, Trautwein will coach the Nittany Lions’ offensive line. Trautwein spent the past two seasons in the same position at Boston College.

“We are thrilled to welcome Phil and his family to Penn State,” Franklin said in a statement. “Phil has had success at the highest level as a player, winning two National Championships at Florida and spending four seasons in the NFL. He is a rising star in our profession and has had success in developing tremendous offensive linemen during his time at Boston College with nine players earning All-ACC honors in two seasons. We are excited to bring his knowledge and experiences to Happy Valley.”

Prior to Boston College, Trautwein was the tight ends coach at FCS Davidson College for two seasons (2016-17). He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at BC (2013-15). In that first BC stint, he helped with the offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks.

As Franklin noted, Trautwein played his college football at the University of Florida. He was first-team All-SEC as a left tackle in 2008, and earned second-team honors in 2006.

Both those seasons, the Gators won the national championship.

“Growing up in New Jersey, I was always a fan of Penn State. It was the best academic and athletic university in the country then, and it remains so today,” Trautwein said. “My family and I are grateful Coach Franklin has given us the opportunity to join the outstanding staff he’s assembled. I could not be more excited to continue building the best offensive line in the country, and to help bring championships to Happy Valley.”

This season, Penn State was fourth in the Big Ten and 36th nationally in rushing offense (190.6 yards per game). The 2.46 sacks per game allowed were tied for 97th in the country.

Minnesota hires Mike Sanford Jr. to fill OC opening

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Thanks to intraconference poaching, Minnesota has turned the keys to its offense over to Mike Sanford Jr.

Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that P.J. Fleck has hired Mike Sanford Jr. as his next offensive coordinator.  Sanford replaces Kirk Ciarrocca, who was hired for the same job at Penn State late last month.

“I am thrilled to welcome Mike, his wife Anne-Marie and kids Peyton, Gunnar and Griffin to Minnesota,” said Fleck in a statement. “I have known Mike for many years, and he will be an elite addition to our staff. Mike is one of the brightest young minds in the game and brings a wealth of experience to our offensive staff room and our offensive system.”

Sanford was the head coach at Western Kentucky from 2017-18.  He was fired after going 9-16 in those two seasons.

This past season, Sanford coordinated Utah State’s offense.  The 37-year-old son of former UNLV head coach Mike Sanford comes to Minnesota having also served as the coordinator at Notre Dame (2015-16) and Boise State (2014).

From 2011-13, Sanford was an assistant at Stanford.  He was the running backs coach the first two seasons on The Farm, wide receivers coach the last one.  The last two seasons, he also held the title of run-game coordinator.

In addition to Sanford’s hiring, the football program also announced that Matt Simon has been promoted to co-offensive coordinator. Simon will continue to coach wide receivers as well.

Despite Simon’s promotion, Sanford will serve as the Golden Gophers’ primary in-game playcaller.

New Year’s Day, Minnesota capped off a historic season with an Outback Bowl upset of Auburn.  The 11 wins were the program’s most since they won 13 in 1904.  Minnesota’s only other seasons with 10 or more wins came in 1900, 1903, 1905 and 2003.