Tag:Big East
Posted on: January 4, 2011 10:50 am
 

Hank Hughes named interim coach at UConn

Posted by Tom Fornelli

UConn finds itself in unfamiliar territory at the moment, because for the first time in the school's FBS history, it has a coaching search to conduct.  The problem is, with signing day not even a month away, somebody needs to take the program over now to keep things running as smoothly as possible while the school begins its search.

And that person is going to be assistant head coach Hank Hughes.

"Hank Hughes is the perfect choice to fill the role as interim head coach for our football program," said UConn AD Jeffrey Hathaway in a statement. "He has been a long-time member of our coaching staff and is extremely loyal to our university and our Division of Athletics. Hank will provide outstanding leadership to our football student-athletes and support staff during this time of transition."

Hughes will also be a candidate to take over the job full time, but he won't be alone in that department.  While the school hasn't made any official announcement about who they'll be looking at, names that keep coming up as possibilities are Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, former Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, and Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe.

Ironically, another name being mentioned is the man who was supposed to be getting the Maryland job Randy Edsall left for, Mike Leach.  In a way, Mike Leach has become the new Randy Edsall since his name comes up for every coaching job, but he never gets the job.  Another possibility would be Rich Rodriguez should he be relieved of his duties at Michigan.
Posted on: January 3, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Wannstedt won't coach bowl game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's how messed up the coaching situation has been at Pitt over the last few weeks.  After basically forcing Dave Wannstedt to resign following the season, the school then hired Mike Haywood to take over the program.  Haywood had the job for an entire fourteen days before getting arrested for domestic assault and consequently being dismissed from the job, setting the coaching search wheels in motion once more.

Well, did you know that Pitt still has a bowl game to play?  Yeah, its the BBVA Compass Bowl and it's only a few days away.  Did you also know that up until this morning, Pitt had no idea who would actually be coaching the team in that bowl game?

Dave Wannstedt informed his staff this morning that he won't be coaching the team against Kentucky, which means that defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will handle the head coaching duties in the game.

Seriously, the Panthers are giving UConn a run for the money in the "Worst 2011 Ever" contest.  Making matters worse for the Panthers is that they also found out on Monday that senior defensive tackle Jabaal Sheard just had surgery and won't be available to play against Kentucky.

The worst news it that the game is still five days away.  Who knows what else can happen before then?




Posted on: January 3, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: January 3, 2011 12:09 pm
 

UConn players upset with Randy Edsall

Posted by Tom Fornelli

One of the things you can never be sure about when you commit to a school for four years is whether or not the coach that spent all those hours in your living room recruiting you will be there the entire time you attend the school.  The way that college football coaching works in this day and age, it's just a risk you have to take, and you have to remember you're committing to a school, not a coach.

Still, when that coach leaves, it could sting a bit.  Especially if that coach handles it the way that Randy Edsall apparently did when he told his UConn team he had taken the job at Maryland. One anonymous player told the Hartford Courant how the team found out, and he doesn't sound very happy about it .

"We were on hold for a half-hour, with the operations manager telling us Edsall would be coming on in a few minutes. When Edsall came on he was like, 'I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry I can't do this in person, but due to circumstances ... I just want to let you know that it's not because of you guys. But it's an opportunity for my family. ... I can move on feeling like I've accomplished things here and I'm leaving the program in a good way.'

"A couple of coaches said that was BS. ... They didn't know about it. He hadn't told any of us.

 "It really pisses me off because he made Jordan (Todman) address the team (Sunday) night to say he was leaving. And he isn't man enough to do it face to face to us?

 "A lot of people were just really upset by the call. He made Todman get up and tell the whole team: 'Jordan, I think you have something to say to these guys.' He made him do it face-to-face. But he didn't do it face-to-face.

"I'm going to look [at other schools], not Big East or anything. ... When you bring in a new coach, the first three or four years [it's all developing the program)]. But these are Edsall's players, not the new guy's. ... Well, I'm going to get the (naughty word) out of here. But what happens with the incoming recruiting class? Are those guys still coming?

"The thing I'm concerned with is, am I going to get my release."

I understand that with all of the football players on break, it's hard to get the entire team together, and that Edsall is somewhat busy at the moment, but to do to it over the phone, after you made Jordan Todman do it in person seems pretty weak.  According to the player, Edsall told the team that he just found about about the Maryland job and it was something that just suddenly happened.

According to reports, Edsall had been in negotiations with Maryland last week.

So if you're going to make Todman man up and tell the team he was leaving, why couldn't he have done so himself either before or after the Fiesta Bowl?
Posted on: January 2, 2011 4:22 pm
 

It's been a bad 24 hours for UConn

Posted by Tom Fornelli

You have to wonder if UConn may be regretting the fact that it was chosen to play in the Fiesta Bowl a bit right now.  Forget about the fact that Oklahoma did what everybody expected Oklahoma to do to the Huskies on Saturday night, it's what's happened in the hours since then that have damaged UConn the most.

Now, even with the loss, getting the kind of exposure for the football program that being in the Fiesta Bowl brings is a good thing.  Of course, national exposure for a program is a two-way street.  Yes, people know who you are now, even if all they know about you is that you aren't as good as Oklahoma.  The problem is that exposure not only works for the program, but the people in it.

Jordan Todman has been one of the best running backs in college football all season, but because of where he rushed for all those yards and touchdowns, not everybody knew about it.  Now Todman had a chance to perform in the national spotlight, with the eyes of NFL scouts upon him.  He didn't have the greatest game, but it's no coincidence that he's now going to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

He knew that the spotlight on him probably won't get any brighter in 2011.

Then there's Randy Edsall.  The job Edsall has done at UConn can't be over looked.  He took a program from the FCS and helped make it a contender in a BCS conference, and only needed seven years to win the Big East and get to a BCS bowl.  It's because of this that Edsall's name has seemed to pop up in every coaching vacancy around the country the last few years, but it seems that one school finally couldn't resist passing up the opportunity to actually hire him.  

Sunday brought the news that Edsall was going to be named the new head coach at Maryland.  Now, less than 24 hours after the culmination of all the work Edsall put in at UConn, after the team finally reached a BCS bowl game, it's right back to where it started seven years ago.

Happy new year, UConn.
Posted on: January 2, 2011 4:03 pm
 

Marvin Lewis on Pitt's list

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Maybe Pitt can just consider the Mike Haywood hire a practice run.  A day after the Mike Haywood Era -- and what a memorable era it was -- came to an end following Haywood's arrest, names are starting to pop up as possible replacements.  One of whom is currently patrolling an NFL sideline this weekend.

Marvin Lewis's contract with the Cincinnati Bengals expires after the NFL season, and all indications out of Cincinnati is that he won't be back with the team next season. Of course, that doesn't mean he won't have a shot to be an assistant coach in the NFL next year, but it's possible he could land a head coaching gig at Pitt according to a report on Pro Football Talk.

According to the report, Lewis is on a short-list of candidates the school has in mind to replace Haywood, and Lewis does have a history with the school. He spent three seasons as an assistant at Pitt, along with guys like Jon Gruden and Mike McCarthy.  Now, just because Pitt has interest in Lewis, that doesn't mean he'll be interested in Pitt.

It's unknown who else is on this short list of Pitt's, but Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has an idea who's name should be on it.  His long time defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.  Paterno told The Morning Call that Bradley would be a very good candidate for the job, as he's an excellent coach and has strong recruiting ties in Pittsburgh and throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

Over the years many people have seen Bradley as the likely successor to Paterno at Penn State, but given the fact that he recently went after the Temple job that Steve Addazio landed, he may no longer feel as if he has a future at Penn State without Paterno.
Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Maryland's next coach is Randy Edsall

Posted by Adam Jacobi

[UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: Maryland has officially announced the hiring of Randy Edsall tonight.]

After the unceremonious dismissal of Ralph Friedgen from the head coaching spot at Maryland , most people expected Mike Leach to be named the new head coach shortly thereafter. Leach was the only person named by Maryland AD Kevin Anderson at the press conference announcing Friedgen's departure, and he was the first person formally interviewed by Maryland earlier this week.

So, naturally, just hours after Connecticut 's 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, Huskies head coach Randy Edsall was reportedly tabbed to run the Terrapins.

Wait, what?

The Washington Post reported today that according to several sources, Edsall was at Maryland interviewing for the head coaching spot with the search committee. CSN's Chick Hernandez confirmed the report and said that "barring major setback," Edsall would be hired. Minutes later, Joe Schad reported on Twitter that Maryland had in fact tabbed Edsall, and here we are. The hire has not been confirmed by Maryland, and according to the Baltimore Sun, one source at the school insists Leach is still a candidate, but an announcement is expected within 24 hours.

If Terps fans are disappointed by the prospect of Edsall coming aboard, it'd be hard to blame them; bringing Leach and the Air Raid offense to Maryland would have been a breath of fresh air for the program after it took the hit of losing coach-in-waiting James Franklin in December. But a breath of fresh air isn't the same thing as a quality, long-term hire, and that's apparently the direction Maryland wants to go with this hire. Edsall built Connecticut from a I-AA power to a FBS BCS competitor (albeit arguably the worst ever) in just a few years, and Maryland could use that type of institutional quantum leap forward -- or, as Anderson put it, "from 'good' to 'great'." Whether Edsall can deliver on that scale, of course, is something that necessarily remains to be seen.

And if Edsall is indeed confirmed as Maryland's next top man, we can't help but wonder... Mike Leach to UConn?



Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:38 am
 

Bowl Grades: Fiesta Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Oklahoma outpaced Connecticut en route to a 48-20 Fiesta Bowl victory.

Oklahoma

Offense: Landry Jones set an Oklahoma bowl passing record with 433 yards through the air, and he was able to find wideouts Ryan Broyles and Cameron Kenney (both of whom had over 150 receiving yards) without much trouble. Broyles' touchdown catch was the type of play that exemplified his All-American season: an absolutely brilliant display of athleticism. DeMarco Murray wasn't a gamebreaker, but his 25 carries for 93 yards kept the chains moving -- he accounted for eight of Oklahoma's 27 first downs. Jones did throw a pick-six and Broyles coughed up a fumble at the end of an otherwise brilliant punt return, but those were relatively minor concerns. Grade: B+

Defense: Giving up 20 points is sort of a bummer, right? Thing of it is, though, UConn scored one touchdown on the aforementioned pick-six, and the other came on a kickoff return. Also, Jamell Fleming and Tony Jefferson each took an interception to the house in the second half, pushing the game out of reach for UConn. So essentially, the Oklahoma defense outscored the Huskies' offense 14-6. That's a win. Grade: A

Coaching: Well, Bob Stoops finally got that BCS bowl losing streak off his back. Shame that it had to come against such a comically overmatched opponent, but that's probably of limited concern to Stoops and the Sooners. It's hard to fault Stoops for any play calls or in-game decisions, except for that fake field goal early in the fourth quarter. Everyone in the world knows Stoops doesn't have a great deal of confidence in kicker Jimmy Stevens, who doesn't have a field goal of longer than 41 yards this year, so when OU lined up for a field goal on 4th and 7 at the UConn 30, nobody really expected a kick to go up. Further, Jones passed for 8.8 yards per attempt on the day; let the kid make another play!  Grade: B-

Connecticut

Offense: It's painfully obvious that UConn quarterback Zach Frazer doesn't have much in the way of help at receiver. The senior QB had rather pedestrian numbers again tonight (19-39, 223 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs), but several of Frazer's throws were dropped, tipped, or aimed somewhere other than where the receivers ended up going. Even on Frazer's two pick-sixes, both passes hit his receivers in the hands before being deflected up and into a Sooner's hands. It was sort of painful to watch. Jordan Todman did rush for 121 yards after a slow start, however, and Anthony Sherman and Ryan Griffin were decent targets between the 20s. Grade: D+

Defense: The Huskies' main highlight on defense was the "look what I found" interception score by Dwayne Gratz in the second quarter that first got UConn on the board, but that was pretty much it. Landry Jones found open receivers nearly every time he dropped back to pass, and Oklahoma was only forced into four punts in 14 possessions on the day. Grade: D

Coaching: Randy Edsall 's first foray into the BCS bowl world didn't go well, but that was pretty much a given considering the matchup. Connecticut's execution was sufficiently bad that it's hard to pin much on Edsall's playcalling, and the Huskies at least made Oklahoma work for its victory; this was still a 14-point game with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. It's hard to say whether Edsall will ever make it back to a BCS game -- his odds are probably better at a stronger school than UConn -- but he didn't look bad today. Grade: B

Final Grade

Look, nobody outside of Storrs, CT and whatever lair BCS president Bill Hancock resides in wanted this game to happen. The final score was pretty predictable, even though UConn stuck around for a little longer than most people would have expected. It would have been great to see this high-powered Oklahoma offense face a real defense, like that of Stanford or TCU or Boise State . But the rules are what they are, and this is what we get because of them: an afterthought of a Fiesta Bowl. Connecticut didn't belong in a BCS game, everybody knew it, and they proved why today. Can we really not get an "automatic unless you're a four-loss team" clause in the BCS language? Really? This game's very existence was unacceptable. Grade: F

Posted on: January 1, 2011 5:58 pm
 

Pitt fires new coach Mike Haywood after arrest

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Less than 24 hours after news of the Mike Haywood arrest on domestic violence charges came out, Pittsburgh has responded in really the only sensible way possible by firing Haywood. Here's the full statement released by Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg today:

“After careful consideration of recent events, the University of Pittsburgh has dismissed Michael Haywood as its head football coach, effective immediately. He was advised of that action this afternoon.

“To be clear, the University’s decision is not tied to any expectation with respect to the terms on which the legal proceeding now pending in Indiana might ultimately be concluded. Instead, it reflects a strong belief that moving forward with Mr. Haywood as our head coach is not possible under the existing circumstances.

This is a matter of real regret for the many people at Pitt who had looked forward to working with him. However, head coaches are among the University’s most visible representatives and are expected to maintain high standards of personal conduct and to avoid situations that might reflect negatively on the University.

“We will immediately re-open our search for a head football coach, expanding the process to include a larger pool of candidates. Our goal is to move swiftly, but prudently, to find the right person to successfully lead the Pitt football program for what we hope will be an extended period of time.”

 
 
 
 
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