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College football program pecking order 3.0: Dividing all 66 BCS teams into four-tier hierarchy

 

 

 

I’ve written hundreds of Mailbag columns over the years. For the most part, readers consume them, (hopefully) enjoy them, and then forget about them as soon as the next one arrives.

But one particular question I answered in August 2007 took on a life of its own. A reader asked me to rank the nation’s power-conference schools by “prestige and place in the national scene.†For reasons I can’t recall, I opted to invoke a Medieval feudal system in dividing the 66 BCS programs at the time into Kings, Knights, Barons and Peasants.

Thus, my Program Pecking Order was born.

 

People took the thing pretty seriously. One Georgia blog actually enlisted a Dawgs fan to go around to sports bars in Montana testing my premise that the “G†helmet is not universally recognizable enough to merit a spot in the top group. (An “A†for effort, though it turned out I was right.)

101215-CFB-Georgia-Bulldogs-helmets--SS-PI

And of course, people began asking me to do another one as soon as the very next year. But to do so would have run counter to my thesis, which is that most programs’ prestige levels are too deeply entrenched to change much based on a couple of good or bad years.

If Ohio State inexplicably goes 0-12 this season, it will still be one of the sport’s Kings. If Kansas inexplicably goes 10-2, sorry Jayhawks fans, but Kansas would still be a Peasant.

So my answer at the time was, let’s wait five years. In 2012, I did revisit the list and make a few changes. Even then, five years wasn’t enough time for most to upend perceptions built over decades and decades.

But now, incredibly, it’s been a decade since the original list. And a lot has changed in that time.

In 2007, Clemson had not been nationally relevant for nearly a quarter-century; now it’s the reigning national champ. In 2007, Baylor had been the Big 12’s worst team for a decade; it more recently dominated that conference prior to its devastating sexual assault scandal.

But perhaps most significantly, the sport’s entire power conference structure changed due both to realignment and the advent of the playoff. Those shifts alone account for many of the changes in this, my 2017 Program Pecking Order.

Before I begin, I can’t emphasize enough that this concept is far from scientific. As laid out in that original column, a “national power†is defined by “something more than wins and losses. It’s a certain cachet or aura. It’s the way a program is perceived by the public.â€

urban-meyer-ncaa-football-ohio-state-rutgers1

That perception is derived in large part both by a program’s historical achievements and its more recent accomplishments, but it also encompasses everything from TV contracts to iconic uniforms to famed mascots to … yes, helmets. Prestige arguably shows itself most directly in the annual recruiting rankings, where we usually see the same group of programs finish in the roughly the same range year-in, year-out, regardless of annual ebbs and flows in their win-loss columns.

So here we go.

The 2017 list comprises 66 schools — the Power 5 conference members and independents Notre Dame and BYU. It’s a harsh reality, but in the playoff era, every Group of 5 school — even standouts like Boise State and Houston — is seen as a peasant (or worse), so there’s no point listing them.

Thanks to my friends at SI.com for re-formatting the old columns to fit their current design. For this version, teams in bold moved up in status from the 2012 edition. Strikethrough teams fell down.

Kings

Alabama
Clemson
Florida
Florida State
LSU
Miami
Michigan
Nebraska

Notre Dame
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Penn State
Texas
USC

I’m 41 years old. In my teens, 20s and early-to-mid 30s, you could never have convinced me Nebraska would one day be viewed as anything less than college football royalty. But today’s recruits were not even born the last time the Huskers won even a conference championship, in 1999, much less Tom Osborne’s three national titles in four years from 1994-97.

And while the school’s move to the Big Ten unquestionably benefits the program financially, few would contend Nebraska is viewed in the same grouping as league powers Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Its perception at this point more closely resembles those of Wisconsin and Michigan State.

dabo-swinney-clemson-tigers-spring-2017-football-preview

I suppose one could make much the same argument against five-time national champ Miami remaining among the kings. The ‘Canes have not won more than nine games in a season since 2003. But I’d argue the “U†still carries a ton of cachet given its alums’ heavy presence in the NFL — and recruits agree.

As for Clemson, it’s pretty simple. Dabo Swinney and Deshaun Watson elevated the program’s profile immeasurably, and winning a national championship legitimized it in a way that, say, Oregon, never quite pulled off.

Barons

Auburn
Georgia
Michigan State
Nebraska
Oregon
Stanford
Tennessee
Texas A&M
UCLA
Virginia Tech
West Virginia
Wisconsin

Stanford and Michigan State (prior to last season) have been two of the most successful programs in the country since the start of this decade — three Rose Bowls and six double-digit win seasons for the Cardinal, five 11-win seasons and a 2015 playoff berth for the Spartans. Stanford in particular has completely reinvented its brand as the sport’s smash-mouth smart school.

Like Nebraska, West Virginia has suffered in part by a necessary change of conference, going from a regular Big East/BCS contender to mostly middle-of-the-pack (last year excluded) finisher and geographic misfit in the Big 12. Its prestige level has slipped accordingly.

Knights

Arizona State
Arkansas
Baylor
Boise State
Boston College
BYU
Cal
Colorado
Georgia Tech
Illinois
Iowa
Kansas State
Louisville
Maryland
Missouri
North Carolina
NC State
Northwestern
Oklahoma State
Ole Miss
Oregon State
Pittsburgh
Purdue
Syracuse
South Carolina
TCU
Texas Tech
Utah
West Virginia
Virginia
Washington

Baylor’s brand may be toxic now, but there’s no doubt the school raised its profile considerably — for good and bad — under offensive genius-turned-pariah Art Briles. Louisville has enjoyed the fruits of both moving up to the ACC and turning out stars Teddy Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson.

Northwestern has now permanently shed its half-century reputation as a lovable loser by becoming a near-annual bowl team with a widely respected coach, Pat Fitzgerald. And frankly, I can’t recall why I had North Carolina down among the peasants to begin with.

pat-fitzgerald-extension-top

On the flip side, while Boston College and Purdue have both enjoyed high points over their respective histories, their extended stints of mediocrity now come to mind first. Oregon State, after a brief renaissance under Mike Riley, has returned to its cellar-dweller ways. Boise State, as I wrote before, is simply disqualified, though the Broncos to their credit remain the most widely respected Group of 5 program.

Peasants

Arizona
Boston College
Duke
Minnesota
Indiana
Iowa State
Kansas
Kentucky
Mississippi State
Oregon State
Purdue
Rutgers
Wake Forest
Washington State
Vanderbilt

My lowest tier pared down from 20 to a more exclusive 15 not so much because of promotions but because four former Big East schools (Cincinnati, USF, Connecticut and Temple) fell off this list entirely.

My guess is fans with the biggest beef will be those of Mississippi State, given it’s just three years removed from debuting at No. 1 in the first-ever selection committee rankings. No question, Dak Prescott led the Bulldogs on a glorious two-season run … but it was just that, two seasons.

In conclusion, if we go back and compare this list to the original we get a sense just how much — or how little — college football’s perceived hierarchy changes in the span of a decade. Here’s how it breaks down.

Eleven of the 13 Kings remained the same, with LSU and Clemson supplanting Tennessee and Nebraska.
There was more movement in and out of the Barons, with just six originals among the current 11. Oregon, Michigan State and Stanford all ascended from Knights.
It’s really hard to escape the realm of peasantry. Baylor, Northwestern and North Carolina were the only ones to do it.
All told, 16 of the 66 BCS-conference schools circa 2007 — just less than a quarter — changed tiers over the span of 10 years.
Worth noting: Louisville was the most ascendant program of all, going from unranked (apparently out of indecision) in 2007 to Peasants in 2012 to Knights in 2017.

Finally, if by chance I’m still writing these columns in another five years, I’d say the safest prediction is that Washington under Chris Petersen will have bumped itself up a tier (with last year’s playoff berth the beginning of the breakthrough). Conversely, Illinois is on shakiest ground for potential demotion.

Thanks for following along for another five years. On the off, off chance you disagree with where I have one more teams placed, be sure to let me know at stewart.mandel@fox.com.

 

http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/college-football-program-pecking-order-3-0-dividing-all-66-bcs-teams-into-four-tier-hierarchy-052517

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CFB'S RISING STAR COACHING CANDIDATES

 

 

So many college football head coaching jobs have switched hands in the past few years that the supply of rising potential head coaches is getting scarce. There are plenty of potential candidates, but nearly all of the rising stars expected to be hired the past few years have gotten the call, from Tom Herman to Justin Fuente to Matt Rhule to P.J. Fleck, leaving fewer certainties and more projections.

 

The American Athletic Conference has particularly been hit hard as it becomes a breeding ground for Power Five head coaches. Nearly every coach in the league is still a relatively new one, so there's more doubt about who could be called up to bigger jobs this year than the past couple seasons.

Last week, we covered the returning head coaches who are under the most pressure to win. There will inevitably be a bunch of changes come November and December, so it's time to start gauging which coaches could be in line to move up. Not all will jump at the first chance -- several of the top Power Five coordinators can literally afford to be patient and may be comfortable where they are -- but if the names on our list have impressive 2017 seasons, they'll be talked about for FBS head coaching jobs that come open at the end of the year.

Here's how the hiring broke down last cycle:

Eight Power Five jobs switched hands. Teams hired three AAC head coaches, one Conference USA head coach, one MAC head coach, one Big Ten defensive coordinator and two assistants promoted from within.

Thirteen Group of Five jobs changed. These teams hired four former Power Five head coaches, three Power Five coordinators, four Power Five assistants and one promoted coordinator, plus one current Power Five coordinator who used to be a head coach (Lane Kiffin).
We'll split our 2017 list into two categories: current head coaches at Group of Five schools and current Power Five coordinators who, in keeping in line with our "rising" theme, have never been FBS head coaches and could be in line for that first opportunity. Keep in mind that ex-head coaches like Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano (Rutgers), TCU offensive analyst Sonny Dykes (Cal) and Oregon co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal (FIU) are among those who may also be in those conversations for another head coaching chance.

Current Group of Five Head Coaches

1. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State. Satterfield came so close to getting an attention-grabbing win opening weekend against Tennessee last year, but the Mountaineers came up just short in overtime. Then they got blown out at home vs. Miami a couple weeks later. He's nevertheless done a phenomenal job shepherding Appalachian State from FCS to FBS, as the transition period essentially lasted for the first half of the first season. In three years in the Sun Belt, Satterfield is 28-10 overall and 18-4 in the conference. He's 27-5 in his past 32 games. The Mountaineers won the league title last season, ranking first in the Sun Belt in yards per play on offense and second on defense. It's been a fantastic FBS transition for the 44-year-old head coach and his program, and an experienced roster puts the Mountaineers in position to be the Sun Belt frontrunner again. Appalachian State just gave him a contract extension, but he makes significantly less money than many of the Power Five coordinators listed below.

2. Bryan Harsin, Boise State. Harsin's biggest problem is his predecessor. Chris Petersen set a ridiculous standard for success at Boise State that may be impossible to duplicate, going 92-12 in eight seasons. Harsin, a Boise State alum and former Petersen offensive coordinator, has lost nine games in three seasons, going 12-2, 9-4 and 10-3 with only one Mountain West title -- 2014, when the Broncos won another Fiesta Bowl. Being the coach who follows Petersen is a tough task, even if a foundation was in place to continue to succeed, and the Broncos have had a few frustrating hiccups. Nevertheless, Harsin has a star junior QB in Brett Rypien, and this is capable of being a top-25 Boise State team that competes for a major bowl spot if it can navigate tricky road trips to Washington State, BYU, San Diego State and Colorado State.

3. Jason Candle, Toledo. It's still early for Candle, who was promoted from offensive coordinator last year to replace Matt Campbell. But he has built an excellent offense led by quarterback Logan Woodside and receiver Cody Thompson, and with P.J. Fleck gone from Western Michigan, the Rockets will enter the season as the favorite to win their long-awaited first MAC championship since 2004. If Candle can do that and take aim at double-digit wins, he can quickly become the biggest rising star coach in the MAC, which puts him on the Power Five radar.

4. Neal Brown, Troy. A Sun Belt power last decade, Troy had five straight seasons without a winning record before Brown's turnaround in his second season. The Trojans went 10-3 last year and even briefly appeared in the AP top 25 after an 8-1 start in which they beat Appalachian State and took Clemson down to the wire. They blew their chance at the Sun Belt title late in the season, but it was a highly successful season in which they played terrific defense. Brown is an offensive coach, the 37-year-old former offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Kentucky. With a veteran offense, Troy could duplicate lat year's success and will be in the mix with Appalachian State at the top of the Sun Belt.

5. Craig Bohl, Wyoming. The 58-year-old Bohl is older than the other coaches on this list, having gone from Nebraska's staff as linebackers coach under Tom Osborne and defensive coordinator under Frank Solich to head coach at North Dakota State, where he guided the Bison from Division II to FCS and built the Bison up to the point where they won three straight national titles before he took the Wyoming job. (They won two more after he left.) After a rough first two years of rebuilding the Cowboys in which he went 6-18, Bohl took Wyoming to the Mountain West title game last year, ultimately finishing with an 8-6 record. Now, hopes are high because of the presence of touted junior quarterback Josh Allen, who is being hyped as a possible No. 1 draft pick. Bohl created an FCS dynasty in Fargo, and he's putting Laramie back on the college football map.

6. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy. One of the toughest names on this list to gauge. There is no question that Niumatalolo is a great head coach who's worthy of a lot of opportunities. The 52-year-old is a remarkable 77-42 at Navy, including two double-digit-win seasons and a top-20 finish in 2015. He's done a phenomenal job attaining a consistently high level of success at a military academy. However, he's also had that success with an option offense, and it's tough to tell which Power Five schools might be interested. Georgia Tech did hire Paul Johnson, Niumatalolo's predecessor, and it's reasonable to believe that Niumatalolo could adapt to a somewhat different offense while operating in a CEO role. But he turned down BYU last year, and he could prove to be a Navy lifer, because right now, even after the loss to Army, his job is as steady and safe as anybody in the country.

7. Scott Frost, UCF. How quickly can Frost rise? The AAC has already experienced massive turnover over the past few years, and Frost could be among the next to get an opportunity, even after only one 6-7 season. Hired as a receivers coach at Oregon by Chip Kelly, the ex-Nebraska quarterback was the offensive coordinator for Marcus Mariota's Heisman season in 2014. In his first year at UCF, he inherited a broken squad that had gone winless, so he engineered substantial improvement to get to a bowl game. There's no doubt that his star is on the rise, but it may take a couple more years of growth to make the next leap. And as long as he's a successful head coach, his name will always be mentioned for Nebraska's future, something that would not happen this season.

8. Chad Morris, SMU. Morris is a hard name to place right now. His work as offensive coordinator at Clemson was fantastic, and he's long been speculated as a potential Power Five head coach -- particularly in the state of Texas, where he was a longtime high school coach. At SMU, Morris has made clear progress, even if tangible success hasn't been instant. He inherited a mess, in a competitive division, and he has a 7-17 record in two seasons. The offense has climbed from 127th to 82nd in yards per play since he arrived, and last year's team managed to win five games -- including against Houston -- despite losing QB Matt Davis to a torn ACL at the beginning of the season. QB Ben Hicks has a year of experience under his belt now, whether he wins the job or it's one of two transfers, they'll have one of the nation's best wideouts in Courtland Sutton. Another step forward to bowl eligibility is possible. SMU knows that bigger schools could come after him and just signed him to an extension through 2023.

9. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane couldn't quite pull of an upset of Houston … but they actually finished second in the AAC West at 6-2, a game ahead of the Cougars. Montgomery, the former offensive coordinator at Baylor, is 16-10 in two seasons, including last year's 10-win campaign in which the team scored 42.5 points per game. It's been a swift turnaround after the Golden Hurricane won five games total in 2013-14. Tulsa could take a step back this year and the defense is an ongoing problem, but what perhaps most stands in the way for Montgomery is if Power Five programs are reluctant to hire Art Briles' assistants. Purely for football reasons, it's hard to imagine Montgomery wouldn't be on the Power Five radar soon, but the Baylor scandal complicates matters.

10. Mike Norvell, Memphis. A lot of pieces are in place for another strong year for Memphis. Justin Fuente built up the Tigers and landed the Virginia Tech job, and Norvell was the Arizona State offensive coordinator before replacing him. Last year, with Paxton Lynch and other key players gone, Norvell went a solid 8-5 with wins over Houston and Temple. Much of his offense is back, including senior QB Riley Ferguson, who threw for 3,698 yards and 32 TDs. Memphis is an AAC contender, and a big season will push the 35-year-old Norvell further into the spotlight, even after only two seasons.

Current Power Five Assistant Coaches

1. Joe Moorhead, Penn State. No current assistant has seen his stock rise more in the past year. Moorhead was the architect of prolific FCS offenses as head coach at Fordham, and James Franklin hired him to fix Penn State's offense after two rough seasons. He did just that, and he did it quickly. Moorhead transformed the Nittany Lions into an entertaining big-play machine, as they improved from 100th to 21st in scoring, won the Big Ten championship and developed a knack for comebacks. With post-sanctions depth restored and nearly the entire offense back, including Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley, expectations are soaring for Penn State, further thrusting Moorhead into the spotlight as an in-demand name.

2. Brent Venables, Clemson. There has been no need for Venables to be anything but patient. He's been a Power Five defensive co-coordinator or coordinator since 1999, but he's still only 46. Entering his sixth season at Clemson, Venables now makes $1.7 million per year with a contract running through 2020. He has stability, having turned Clemson's defense into a consistent juggernaut, and he makes more money than almost every Group of Five head coach. If Bill Snyder does retire at Kansas State, speculation will undoubtedly place Venables, the former Wildcats linebacker and assistant, in the mix there, but there's no guarantee that Venables will go anywhere soon. There's no reason to, unless he finds the perfect fit like Kirby Smart did with Georgia.

3. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma. The 33-year-old Riley just received a contract extension through 2020 that pays him $1.3 million per year. He's young, and as the offensive coordinator at what's been the most successful program in the Big 12, there's no rush for him to jump elsewhere and take over a lesser program too early. Riley coached prolific offenses at East Carolina, and at Oklahoma he has helped guide Baker Mayfield to back-to-back top-four finishes in the Heisman Trophy race. Oklahoma will do everything it can to keep him.

4. Dave Aranda, LSU. Aranda worked wonders with the Wisconsin defense, and he did an excellent job in his first year at LSU. Remember, despite the Tigers' disappointing season, they finished 10th in yards per play allowed, didn't allow more than 18 points in any of their four losses and gave up 10 points to Alabama and nine points to Louisville. The 40-year-old Aranda signed an enormous contract after last season, putting him in the category of coordinators who don't need to rush into a head coaching job, but he's undoubtedly a rising star and should have another big year with all the talent he has at his disposal. Also keep an eye on new LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada, if he can transform the Tigers offense.

5. Pep Hamilton, Michigan. Jim Harbaugh assistants are in demand. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was hired by Maryland after the 2015 season, and now co-offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is the new coordinator at UCLA. Among Michigan assistants, the most heralded is Durkin's replacement, Don Brown. But Brown is 61 years old. Hamilton, who coached under Harbaugh at Stanford and was the Indianapolis Colts' offensive coordinator from 2013-15, is the 42-year-old replacement for Fisch. Line coach Tim Drevno is the offensive coordinator, but Hamilton is the quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach who is in charge of the passing game. With significant experience in both college and pro football and lots of work with Harbaugh, this job will likely be the launching point to a head coaching job.

6. Pete Kwiatkowski, Washington. Here is where Kwiatkowski's defenses have ranked nationally in yards per play allowed since becoming Boise State's coordinator in 2010 and Washington's in 2014: first, 40th, 10th, 35th, 51st, 23rd and fourth. The worst season came in a transition year for Washington, but he has built the Huskies defense into the Pac-12's best the past couple seasons, with a disruptive front and a lockdown secondary. The loss of stars Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Kevin King from the defensive backfield will provide a major challenge as the Huskies try to defend their title, but increased attention for Kwiatkowski and other Petersen assistants is inevitable if Washington continues to succeed.

7. Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama. Pruitt, 42, has been the defensive coordinator at Florida State, Georgia and Alabama, and in his first season back with the Crimson Tide -- he was DBs coach from 2010-12 -- they led the nation in points allowed and yards per play allowed. Pruitt stepped into the best situation imaginable, with a ridiculous amount of talent coming back from a national championship team. Still, Nick Saban hired him for a reason, and as long as there is no significant drop-off on the Alabama defense, Pruitt will follow Kirby Smart, Jim McElwain and Lane Kiffin on the Alabama-coordinator-to-head-coach trajectory.

8. Tee Martin, USC. Elevated to offensive coordinator when Clay Helton got the head coaching job, Martin has mostly coached receivers, in addition to being a national championship winning quarterback at Tennessee in 1998. He was named 247Sports' recruiter of the year in 2016, and now he's part of the development of Sam Darnold into a superstar quarterback.

9. Todd Orlando, Texas. Houston chose to promote offensive coordinator Major Applewhite instead of Orlando, and Orlando thus followed Tom Herman to Texas to run the Longhorns' defense. Orlando coached excellent defenses at Utah State and Houston, and his next task is turning around a Texas defense that has struggled to live up to its potential. There is plenty of talent available, though, and a quick turnaround could lead to increased head coaching interest, at least among Group of Five teams. Remember, it was his unit that overwhelmed Lamar Jackson and Louisville last November.

10. Tony Gibson, West Virginia. Elevated from safeties coach to defensive coordinator in 2014, Gibson has done a fine job retooling the Mountaineers defense and helping open the door for last year's 10-win season. Gibson has shown a knack for slowing down some of the Big 12's wide-open offenses, and he did it last year with a new-look unit that returned only four starters. There's a lot of turnover again, making this season challenging, but he's done impressive work under Dana Holgorsen.

 

http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/232201304/college-football-rising-star-coach-candidates

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 Hope for Texas to land grad transfer QB likely rests with Malik Zaire

 

A week ago, Malik Zaire participated in graduation ceremonies at Notre Dame. An estimated 100 of the 3,171 graduates made the decision to walk out in protest of the commencement speaker, Vice President Mike Pence.

Zaire was not one of the protesters, but he has a decision to make that — for at least two college football programs — will be considered far more important and impactful.

As a graduate transfer, he has the opportunity to be a “plug-and-play†quarterback at his next destination. The latest word from Zaire was that he wanted to relax and enjoy the graduation festivities before making his decision. As the new week begins, the two schools on his list are forced to await his choice.

Texas is one of those schools, while the other is a mystery. Zaire, who is interested in enhancing his NFL Draft stock, seeks a program which needs a starter. Florida is thin at QB and would appear to be a good landing spot, but a Southeastern Conference rule restricts the Gators from taking a grad transfer because previous grad transfers haven’t completed academic work.

That rule could be changed or adjusted at the SEC spring meetings this week. While Zaire’s “mystery school†apparently isn’t Florida, if the rule changes it’s conceivable that Zaire will head to Gainesville.

Texas, on the other hand, would not appear to be a good fit. While new coach Tom Herman made it clear that the Longhorns’ starting job is an open competition, it appears that sophomore Shane Buechele – who started every game last season as a freshman – will be this season’s QB.

The problem for Herman is that there is only one other scholarship quarterback on the roster. Freshman Sam Ehlinger, an early enrollee who participated in spring practice, is Buechele’s only competition for the job. While Buechele and Ehlinger will try to assert themselves as leaders over the next two months of player-organized workouts, there’s no depth at UT.

“We need more than two scholarship quarterbacks, that’s for sure, and we’re going to try to do that,†Herman said after spring practice. “You can’t wave a magic wand and one shows up. The circumstances have to line up.

“We keep checking the waiver wire. If not, that’s OK, we’ll go in with two and figure it out.â€

Three graduate transfers – Thomas Sirk of Duke, Kyle Bolin of Louisville, and Brandon Harris of LSU – were on Herman’s radar. However, they opted for other schools (Bolin chose Rutgers, Harris went to North Carolina, and Sirk chose East Carolina).

Sophomore Matthew Merrick announced before spring practice that he was leaving the Texas program. He would have been slotted as the third-string QB. That spot – if a graduate transfer doesn’t appear – will now likely go to redshirt sophomore walk-on Josh Covey.

Last season, Buechele suffered a rib injury in the third game of the season at California and played most of the second half of the season with a thumb injury on his throwing hand. He threw for 2,958 yards and 21 TDs along with 11 interceptions. Buechele has improved his overall strength, particularly his throwing velocity, but staying healthy will be crucial if he becomes the starter.

The Texas offense won’t be a carbon copy of what Herman ran in his two seasons at Houston. While Cougar quarterback Greg Ward thrived under Herman’s tutelage, he also played through a number of minor injuries and missed one start as a junior. Ward totaled nearly 200 rushing attempts each of the last two seasons, and it’s unlikely that the Longhorns’ quarterback in 2017 will have that many carries.

As Texas fans await the season opener against Maryland on Sept. 2 and the promise of a new beginning under Herman, they’ve been buoyed by recruiting efforts that have included verbal commitments from two four-star quarterbacks in the 2018 class. If both sign with the Longhorns, Herman will have four scholarship QBs for his second season.

For now, though, unless Malik Zaire makes the surprising decision to spend his last season in Austin — making a long-shot bid to earn the starting job — Texas will go into the season hoping for good health for its QBs.

 

https://www.fanragsports.com/cfb/hope-texas-land-grad-transfer-qb-likely-rests-malik-zaire/

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Only fourth?

 

Which new FBS head coaches are most likely to succeed?

 

 

Grading the hires of new college football coaches is an offseason tradition and an exercise in educated guess work.

Still, college football writers do it every year, ticking off fans of teams that receive poor marks and opening themselves up for criticism years later when that C turns out to be an A. Or vice versa.

So let's not do that. Instead, let's rank the members of the 2016-17 class of newly hired coaches by which are most likely to succeed in their jobs.

Success is relative, of course. At Texas, triumph is a steady diet of conference titles and national championship contention. At Purdue, regularly going to bowl games is enough. At LSU, it's beating Alabama.

With that, here we go:

1. Jeff Brohm, Purdue

Brohm is most likely to thrive because of the combination of his track record (30-10 in three seasons at Western Kentucky) and the low bar to clear at Purdue, where the past nine seasons have produced two bowl appearances and one winning final record. The Boilermakers shouldn't be this bad and the school is in the process of pumping millions of dollars into facilities. Brohm is a creative offensive mind who could easily be Purdue's next Joe Tiller.

2. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota

Playing in the Big Ten West doesn't put the Gophers at a severe competition disadvantage the way that, say, Maryland is by being in the Big Ten East. At Western Michigan, Fleck had recruiting classes that were comparable to some low-rated Big Ten groups, which is remarkable for a MAC school. If the Gophers can consistently threaten Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa under Fleck, that's a step forward, and it doesn't seem like a stretch for him to pull that off a few times over the next five years.

3. Charlie Strong, USF

Strong did an excellent job at Louisville in the Big East, when he was able to load up on players from Florida. Now he's back in his comfort zone. In the short term, Strong inherits a team favored to win the American Athletic Conference.

4. Tom Herman, Texas

It is easy to buy into the Herman hype-machine. He very well could be the next great college football coach, and Texas offers him the chance to compete at the highest level. He has also been a head coach for all of two seasons at a Houston program that went 75-43 in the nine years before he got there. Meeting through-the-roof expectations at Texas means Herman's success is no guarantee.

5. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati

The Ohio native and former Buckeye seems a perfect fit at a program that helped launch Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly and Butch Jones to Power Five jobs.

6. Mike Sanford, Western Kentucky

All first-time head coaches come with uncertainty, even one like Sanford who seems to have all the makings of a rising star. This looks like an ideal match of ascending coach and program, but beware: Anything less than yearly Conference USA championship contention will be seen as a step back for WKU.

7. Ed Orgeron, LSU

Successful stints as interim head coach at Southern California and LSU have helped Orgeron put a 10-25, three-year run at Ole Miss behind him. He seems better prepared to lead a major program, but he is also replacing the winningest coach in LSU history. Good luck satisfying Tigers fans while Nick Saban is still coaching in Tuscaloosa.

8. Willie Taggart, Oregon

Can Oregon replicate the peak it reached under Chip Kelly? How close does Taggart - who needed 2 1/2 seasons to turnaround USF - have to come to Kelly to be considered successful?

9. Matt Rhule, Baylor

Rhule has hit all the right notes responding to Baylor's off-field issues. Winning in Waco, Texas, will be more challenging. Especially if fans expect him to match Art Briles' record.

10. Lane Kiffin, FAU

For all Kiffin's issues at Tennessee and USC, his teams went 35-21. The former Alabama offensive coordinator might not be around Boca Raton for long, but there's a good chance he'll leave them with a few bowl appearances.

11. Major Applewhite, Houston

Following Herman is not an enviable task, especially for a first-time head coach.

12. Geoff Collins, Temple

The last three Temple coaches - Al Golden, Steve Adazzio and Rhule - left for better jobs. So, yes, you can win at Temple. But it isn't easy and the AAC East competition is improving.

13. Randy Edsall, UConn

UConn needed a coach who can consistently get the Huskies to bowl games, and Edsall has done it before.

14. Tom Allen, Indiana

If Allen produces just slightly better results than Kevin Wilson without alienating the administration, he will be a success. Problem is getting better results while facing Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State every year.

15. Butch Davis, FIU

The 65-year-old Davis brings credibility to a program with just two winning seasons in 12 years.

16. Tim Lester, Western Michigan

Lester is a former star quarterback at WMU, which will buy him good will. He doesn't have to match Fleck, just keep the Broncos relevant in the MAC.

17. Justin Wilcox, California

Cal might be the toughest job in the Pac-12 right now and Wilcox has never been a head coach.

18. Shawn Elliott, Georgia State

Elliott is stepping into the job at the right time, with the Panthers set to move into a new stadium.

19. Brent Brennan, San Jose State

The Spartans have had three winning seasons since 1993. Brennan, 44, is a first-time head coach. Maybe it works out, but the odds are against him.

20. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State

Fresno State is a shadow of the program that once routinely knocked off power teams. And Tedford hasn't been a head coach since he was fired by Cal in 2012.

21. Jay Norvell, Nevada

The Colin Kaepernick years created a false sense of what reasonable expectations should be at a program that ranks near the bottom of the Mountain West in athletic revenue. Norvell is a career assistant getting his first shot as a head coach at age 55

 

http://www.nbc12.com/story/35552261/which-new-fbs-head-coaches-are-most-likely-to-succeed

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  • 2021 Texas Football Schedule

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    Louisiana
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    Kansas State

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