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LSU’s Joe Brady, Ohio State’s Jeff Hafley among nominees for Boyles Award as CFB’s top assistant coach

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The college football awards process is a pretty simple four phase process as you go from watch list season to the actual season to the semifinalist lists to the actual awards being announced in early December. As we approach Week 12 of the 2019 campaign, we’re firmly into the third phase of announcing a narrowing of the field and limiting who can actually take some hardware home after the regular season is finished.

To that end, The Frank & Barbara Broyles Foundation announced on Wednesday the 41-person strong list of nominees for the Broyles Award, which goes to college football’s top assistant coach. As you would expect, there are quite a few big names under consideration as the assistants in question have either helped lead remarkable turnarounds with their specific side of the ball or have helped elevate their team into conference and/or the national title conversation.

Here’s the full list of 41 names and their titles:

ALABAMA – Steve Sarkisian, Offensive Coordinator/QB

APPALACHIAN STATE – Ted Roof, Defensive Coordinator

ARKANSAS STATE – Keith Heckendorf, Offensive coordinator/QB

AUBURN – Kevin Steele, Defensive Coordinator

BALL STATE – Joey Lynch, Offensive Coordinator/QB

BAYLOR – Phil Snow, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

BYU – Aaron Roderick, Passing Game Coordinator/QB

CALIFORNIA – Tim DeRuyter, Defensive Coordinator

CENTRAL MICHIGAN – Charlie Frye, Offensive Coordinator/QB

CINCINNATI – Marcus Freeman, Defensive Coordinator

CLEMSON – Jeff Scott, Co-Offensive Coordinator/WR

FLORIDA – Billy Gonzalez, Wide Receivers

GEORGIA – Dan Lanning, Defensive Coordinator/Outside LBs

GEORGIA STATE – Brad Glenn, Offensive Coordinator

INDIANA – Kalen DeBoer, Offensive Coordinator/QB

IOWA – Phil Parker, Defensive Coordinator/DB

IOWA STATE – Tom Manning, Offensive Coordinator/Run Game Coordinator

LOUISVILLE – Dwayne Ledfors, Offensive Line

LOUISIANA – Ron Roberts, Defensive Coordinator

LSU – Joe Brady, Passing Game Coordinator/WR

MEMPHIS – Pete Lembo, Special Teams Coordinator

MICHIGAN – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator

MINNESOTA – Kirk Ciarrocca, Offensive Coordinator/QB

MISSOURI – Ryan Walters, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

NAVY – Brian Newberry, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

OHIO STATE – Jeff Hafley, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary

OKLAHOMA – Alex Grinch, Defensive Coordinator/ Safeties

OLE MISS – Mike MacIntyre, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

OREGON – Andy Avalos, Defensive Coordinator

OREGON STATE – Brian Lindgren, Offensive Coordinator/QB

PENN STATE – Brent Pry, Defensive Coordinator/LB

PITTSBURGH – Randy Bates, Defensive Coordinator

SAN JOSÉ STATE – Ryan Gunderson, Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator

SMU – Rhett Lashlee, Offensive Coordinator/QB

TROY – Ryan Pugh, Offensive Coordinator/OL

TULANE – Will Hall, Offensive Coordinator/

UAB – David Reeves, Defensive Coordinator

UCF – Randy Shannon, Defensive Coordinator

UTAH – Morgan Scalley, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

WESTERN KENTUCKY – Clayton White, Defensive Coordinator/CB

WISCONSIN – Jim Leonhard, Defensive Coordinator

Obviously there’s a ton of well deserving candidates but it might be hard to top LSU’s Brady for the award given how big of a jump the Tigers’ offense has made with his arrival in Baton Rouge. Ohio State’s Hafley and Oklahoma’s Grinch also have made huge strides with their respective teams but even at the Group of Five level there’s a ton of guys who have been terrific this season.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 10th and the award is usually a good sign for whoever takes home the trophy becoming a head coach in the near future. Former Alabama OC Mike Locksley won the Broyles Award last year while past winners have included Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and current Texas coach Tom Herman when he was at Ohio State.

With Tulsa’s upset, UCF has now lost three of seven since 27-game regular-season winning streak snapped

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Entering the 2019 season, being on the wrong side of the won-loss ledger wasn’t something the UCF program was used to the last couple of years.  Unfortunately for that AAC school, it’s become an all-too-familiar feeling of late.

In 2017 and 2018, the Knights won all 24 of its regular-season games.  Add in the first three games of the 2019 campaign, and they were riding a 27-game in-season winning streak in addition to winning 29 of 30 overall.  Week 4, however, saw that streak abruptly snapped as Pitt upended UCF on a trick play in the final minute of a one-point Knights loss.

Another loss to Cincinnati two weeks later followed, although UCF righted the ship to win three in a row heading into its Week 11 matchup with Tulsa on the road Friday night.  Exiting it, however, the Knights head back to the Sunshine State with its third loss in seven games as the Golden Hurricane, who entered the game as 17-point underdogs, came away with a 34-31 upset win.

UCF held a 28-17 lead at halftime and took a 31-24 advantage into the fourth quarter.  A 17-yard touchdown catch by the Golden Hurricane’s Sam Crawford Jr. from Seth Boomer, who replaced the injured starter Zach Smith, with 9:01 left knotted the score at 31-all; a 23-yard field goal by Jacob Rainey, who has missed eight on the season, four minutes later proved to be the game-winner.

The loss not only drops UCF to 7-3 overall but to 4-2 in conference play, two games in the loss column behind a Cincinnati squad that has already knocked off the Knights.  UCF will need to win its last two games (at Tulane, USF) and hope Cincinnati loses three of its last four (UConn, at USF, Temple, at No. 21 Memphis) in order to have a shot at claiming the AAC East.

With the win, Tulsa improves to 3-7 on the season.

AAC latest league to allow walk-ons to transfer without losing a year

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The so-called ‘Baker Mayfield Rule’ continues to spread throughout the country as players’ freedom of movement becomes a hot button issue in the world of the NCAA.

Per a release from the league office, the American Athletic Conference has formally approved a rule change that will allow walk-ons (or, more formally, student-athletes not on scholarship) to transfer to another school in the conference without having to sit a year. 

The move came as part of a broader set of issues that were discussed by AAC presidents and athletic directors during their annual fall meetings this week.

“We had another extremely productive meeting with our presidents and athletic directors this week in Philadelphia,” Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “There was a great deal of discussion about the future of our league and the momentum that we have created as we prepare for our new television/media agreement with ESPN beginning next year. There is enormous enthusiasm in the wake of the Conference’s increasing football, basketball and Olympic sport success and we will continue to energize and refresh our successful P6 campaign.  We discussed the NCAA Board of Governors’ recent statement on name, image and likeness and we will be forming a conference working group to examine further that issue. We are all in agreement that this is a very complicated matter, and that preserving the amateur experience in a way that is fair to all student-athletes is of the utmost importance.”

The Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma first called attention to the issue after he was a walk-on at Texas Tech before eventually transferring to the Sooners and being placed on scholarship. Big 12 rules at the time stated Mayfield had to lose a season of eligibility as a result of the move but that was later amended to allow for such a scenario to happen without a player dropping a season. The Pac-12 and others have followed suit in recent years, with the AAC the latest at the Group of Five level to join the growing chorus.

In January, the NCAA also approved rules changes allowing walk-ons to transfer without penalty but many individual conferences had rules against doing so within their own league. That’s no longer the case in the AAC and others now as walk-ons finally get a measure of freedom that they didn’t have before.

Kentucky’s Mark Stoops headlines list of potential candidates to replace Willie Taggart at FSU

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Willie Taggart is out at Florida State and it seems unlikely that the school will take long to begin their coaching search for a new leader of the Seminoles.

Who could the program turn to over the coming weeks as they search for a replacement? A few familiar names in FSU circles likely headline their shortlist of candidates but a few others who have made big strides in recent years at other programs will likely make their way to the top of every search firm’s roster of names as well.

Here are a few names to keep an eye on:

Mark Stoops, Kentucky

The first name many will bring up with the opening is the former FSU defensive coordinator. He obviously has head coaching experience in the South and his connections in the Sunshine State and other fertile recruiting areas are a nice feather in his cap too. He has done a great job in Lexington between the lines too, leading the Wildcats to their third-ever 10-win season last year and generally raising the floor of the program from the dregs of the SEC. One question is whether FSU can pony up for him after dropping $20+ million moving on from Taggart as Stoops’ salary escalates up to $6 million eventually and he has a buyout of just under $2 million if he wants to leave. Brother Bob, the former Oklahoma and current XFL Dallas head coach, is also likely to get traction and used to coach up the road in Gainesville as well.

Mike Norvell, Memphis

After his Tigers beat SMU to take the inside track at the Group of Five bid, Norvell’s stock has never been higher. He’s turned down SEC programs in the past but a gig like FSU could be something that garners his interest. He doesn’t have any deep state of Florida ties but that might be a good thing. His offenses have been among the most explosive in the country and he knows as well as anybody how to find under the radar talent and develop it.

P.J. Fleck, Minnesota

Can the boat be rowed to Tally? Fleck spent time in nearby Tampa as an assistant for the Buccaneers and has specialized in turning around programs at Western Michigan and now with the Gophers. He’s 8-0 this year and in the top 15 in the Twin Cities and has a ton of energy that could help with the transition. He’s recruited well in past stops and that would come in handy given the battles Florida’s big three have over players.

Brent Venables, Clemson defensive coordinator

The Kansas native has been extremely picky about taking his first head coaching gig but FSU is on the level of programs he would likely be intrigued by. He’s helped Dabo Swinney turn Clemson into a juggernaut and been a big part in some lopsided wins over the Seminoles. The familiarity with the ACC and the recruiting areas the school frequents is huge but there would be some questions as to what direction he would take with his staff and on offense.

Tony Elliott, Clemson co-offensive coordinator

All three of the Tigers coordinators (including fellow co-coordinator Jeff Scott) likely will garner interest on the coaching carousel but Elliott seems like a great fit. He won the Broyles Award in 2017 as the nation’s top assistant and his demeanor and workman-like approach could fit in well in Tallahassee.

Lane Kiffin, FAU

I mean, why not? He knows the state well from his time in Boca and has the kind of attitude that most ‘Noles fans would love to embrace in the gig. Highly regarded as a recruiter and play-caller, his ability to bring Nick Saban’s “Process” back to the program would also be viewed as a plus. A long shot sure, but you could also see it working out better than some others.

Willie Fritz, Tulane

Fans may wince at hiring another coach without a winning record (he’s 22-24 with the Green Wave) but Fritz has won at nearly every level of football and done a masterful job rebuilding in New Orleans and beyond. He’ll turn 60 next year which works against him but could well prove a stabilizing force as Florida State likely finds a new president and AD in the coming years.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

Gus has been on a revolving hot seat during his time on the Plains and even with eight or nine wins this year might be given a golden parachute by the Tigers to finally end the rocky relationship. FSU fans know Malzahn can lead his team to the final game of the year after all and he can bring pedigree and coaching experience other candidates lack. It’s a bit outside the box but ticks a lot of boxes when you think about it.

A few that could get in the mix as well: Matt Campbell (Iowa State), Tom Allen (Indiana), Dave Clawson (Wake Forest), Luke Fickell (Cincinnati), Josh Heupel (UCF). One not to consider? Urban Meyer.

UCF clobbers Temple to remain on Group of 5 NY6 radar

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A close game at the half turned into an old-fashioned whooping at the expense of Temple (5-3, 2-2 AAC). UCF (6-2, 3-1 AAC) used big plays to score five touchdowns outside the red zone in a 63-21 victory Saturday night in Philadelphia. The win helps UCF remain within one game of Cincinnati in the AAC East Division standings and keeps the Knights on the radar for a spot in the New Years Six.

After having their first-half lead cut to 28-21 just before halftime, UCF scored four touchdowns in the third quarter before the Owls could manage to get a first down strung together. Dillon Gabriel tossed a touchdown pass of 73 yards to Marlon Williams, Bentavious Thompson rushed for two touchdowns and Otis Anderson (who rushed for 205 yards) scored a touchdown in on the ground in the big third quarter. As a team, UCF racked up 593 yards of offense against a Temple team that had been playing some decent defense before running ton some tough offenses (Temple lost to SMU last week). And once UCF got rolling, it was impossible for the Owls to keep up the pace; they were shutout in the second half as the game raced away from them.

UCF still needs help to get back to a New Years Six bowl game. Only conference champions form the Group of Five are eligible for the reserved spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up, so UCF must first get back to the conference championship game. Having already lost a head-to-head matchup with Cincinnati, the Knights need some help. Not only must UCF continue to take care of their own schedule, but the Knights will need to see Cincinnati lose twice in the regular season for a chance to move ahead of the Bearcats in the division. Cincinnati owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with the two-time defending conference champions.

UCF did clinch bow eligibility by picking up their sixth win of the season, and the Knights will look to pick up a road win next week against Houston. Temple will be back in action after a bye week when they travel down to Tampa to face USF on Nov. 7.