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#pounditSunday, November 28, 2021

College Football

New favorite reportedly emerges for USC head coach job

Matt Campbell

The USC Trojans have had months to come up with a list of candidates for their vacant head coaching position. It appears that they may be ready to land on a favorite.

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell should be considered the current favorite for the USC job, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. Trojans athletic director Mike Bohm is known to covet Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, but getting Fickell to leave the Midwest with the Bearcats in the College Football Playoff race may prove impossible.

Campbell appears to be a leading option, particularly with no clear West Coast candidate available. Campbell has been credited for his work with the Cyclones, and has even drawn NFL interest. USC badly needs stability, a culture reset, and recruiting wins. Campbell looks capable of providing all three.

That said, it certainly sounds like Fickell would have been the No. 1 choice. Unfortunately for the Trojans, he’s been pretty steadfast in his lack of interest.

Bryan Harsin made 1 big mistake against Alabama

Bryan Harsin with a headset on

The Auburn Tigers gave Alabama all they could handle in the Iron Bowl on Saturday, and actually blew a game they had in hand. Bryan Harsin sure didn’t help himself with a big decision in overtime.

Auburn led 10-0 in the fourth quarter. They allowed a field goal following a TJ Finley interception to make it 10-3. Then they allowed Alabama to score a touchdown to tie the game in the final half-minute of regulation.

It felt like Alabama had the momentum entering overtime. Sure enough, the Crimson Tide scored a touchdown to take a 17-10 lead in the first OT. But Auburn wasn’t done and scored a TD to make it 17-16. Harsin then had a decision: kick the extra point to keep the game going, or go for the win with a 2-point conversion. He chose the safe route and not the risky one. Auburn made the extra point to tie the game.

They eventually lost 24-22 in four overtimes.

There were numerous reasons why Harsin should have gone for two at that point. Alabama is the better team. The longer a game goes on, the more likely it is the better team prevails. Harsin could have reduced the game to one play at a time when Auburn had some momentum and fan support. Additionally, Finley was hurt and hobbling around. The longer the game went on, the worse off his health would have been.

All reasons pointed to them going for two, but Harsin didn’t do it. Nobody should be surprised that Alabama prevailed in the end. Apparently Harsin did not learn anything from Lance Leipold.

The conservative move, plus the team’s fourth quarter meltdown, cost them the victory.

Photo: Oct 16, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Bryan Harsin during the fourth quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Auburn won 38-23. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Washington focusing on 1 ‘strong candidate’ for head coach job

Kalen DeBoer coaching

The Washington Huskies appear to have identified a leading candidate for their vacant head coach position.

Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer has emerged as a “strong candidate” for the Washington job, according to John Brice of Football Scoop. Nothing is official, but with the Huskies not involved in the Pac-12 Championship, it appears the school could move quickly to try to hire DeBoer away from the Bulldogs.

DeBoer is in his second season as Fresno State’s coach, and has overseen a quick turnaround. The 47-year-old has the Bulldogs at 9-3 on the season, a big turnaround after two consecutive middling campaigns. Prior to his current job, he spent one season as offensive coordinator at Indiana in 2019.

The Huskies are looking for stability after firing Jimmy Lake, whose tenure turned particularly tumultuous in 2021. DeBoer ticks a lot of boxes, both in terms of turning around a program and his experience working and recruiting on the west coast.

Photo: Oct 30, 2021; Carson, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs head coach Kalen DeBoer reacts in the second half against the San Diego State Aztecs at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Cameron Brown rips Roman Wilson’s helmet off

cameron brown helmet

Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan game was one of the most heated the rivalry has seen in years, and things boiled over a bit in the third quarter.

Things really got started with about six minutes left in the third quarter after the Wolverines ran a first and goal play. Ohio State cornerback Cameron Brown and Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson got into a bit of a scuffle away from the play. Brown totally lost his cool and ripped Wilson’s helmet off, sparking a near-fight on the field between the two teams.

Brown was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his actions. Michigan had already had the ball at the Ohio State two-yard line, so the actual penalty didn’t matter all that much, and the Wolverines scored a touchdown on the ensuing play.

Brown has to keep his composure here. The Buckeyes were already down 21-13 at the time and were struggling on defense, which undoubtedly fueled the frustration. It didn’t help that tensions were already high based on what happened in the tunnel at halftime.

The Buckeyes are not used to being pushed around. Michigan was doing that on Saturday with the stakes higher than ever, and Ohio State simply was not handling it well.

Mel Tucker signs massive contract days after ugly Ohio State loss

Mel Tucker before a game

Saturday’s ugly loss to Ohio State didn’t stop Michigan State from locking up Mel Tucker long term.

On Wednesday, Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million contract extension to remain as Michigan State’s head coach.

The 49-year-old issued a statement after signing the deal.

The contract is hefty and presents a huge raise for the Spartans coach, who was making $5.5 million per season.

Tucker went 5-7 in one season at Colorado. He was 2-5 last year in his first season at Michigan State. But he got off to a great start this season, going 9-1 and beating Michigan and Miami before being drilled 56-7 by Ohio State. Thanks to his hot start, he became a hot name as programs looked to hire new coaches. The Spartans came through with the big offer to convince Tucker to remain with them rather than take another job.

Michigan State’s contract offer to Tucker still stood despite the bad loss to Ohio State. Tucker would have had to have been a fool not to sign it as soon as possible. The man is making Nick Saban money despite being 16-14 overall as a head coach. For context showing how wild this deal is, Tucker has won one more Big Ten game (8) than Saban has won national championships (7).

Signing this deal was a no-brainer for Tucker.

Photo: Sep 3, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker walks on the field during warmups before the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Nick Saban was atypically giddy in interview after Iron Bowl win

Nick Saban smiling

Nick Saban usually remains pretty even-keeled as a coach, but he’s starting to appreciate and celebrate wins more now than he used to. Saturday marked one of those instances.

Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide came back from down 10-0 in the fourth quarter against rival Auburn. They tied the game with a touchdown in the final 30 seconds of regulation and then won 24-22 in the fourth overtime.

Saban must have resigned himself to thinking the team might lose and have a shot at the playoffs spoiled. That probably explains why he was beyond elated for his team to pull off the victory.

Look at how happy he was in his postgame interview with CBS’ Jamie Erdahl.

“I can’t put it into words,” Saban said after the game. “I’m so proud of the way the players competed in the game … it was unbelievable.”

The win improved Alabama’s record to 11-1 and keeps them alive for the CFP. They need to beat Georgia to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff. If they lose, they’ll be a 2-loss team and almost certainly eliminated from the playoff.

At this point, Saban is probably just happy to have escaped with a win.

TCU to hire Sonny Dykes; SMU to hire Rhett Lashlee

Sonny Dykes during pregame

TCU is stealing away SMU’s head coach, and the Mustangs have a replacement.

TCU is set to hire Sonny Dykes as their next head coach. Dykes is in his fourth season as SMU’s head coach and has the Mustangs 8-3 this season.

Since they are losing Dykes, SMU is set to hire Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee as their new head coach. Lashlee was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at SMU in 2018 and 2019 under Dykes.

TCU’s interest in Dykes seemed evident from the moment they fired Gary Patterson. TCU parted ways with their longtime successful head coach because they believed Texas Tech wanted to hire Dykes. TCU also wanted Dykes, so they got rid of Patterson in order to compete with the Red Raiders for the coach’s services. We suspected that TCU had won the Dykes sweepstakes when Texas Tech hired somebody else.

Dykes picked a good time to leave as his stock was high following a 7-0 start. His Mustangs have lost 3 of 4 since then. They face Tulsa next.

This will be Dykes’ fourth head coaching stint. He began at Louisiana Tech, then coached Cal unsuccessfully, and he rebuilt his stock with a successful run at SMU. Now he’s off to TCU and the Big 12.

Photo: Dec 20, 2017; Frisco, TX, United States; Southern Methodist Mustangs head coach Sonny Dykes on the field before the game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the 2017 Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Juwan Howard congratulates Jim Harbaugh on field

Juwan Howard congratulates Jim harbaugh

The Michigan Wolverines finally did it and beat their rival Ohio State Buckeyes 42-27 on Saturday to win the Big Ten East and clinch their first appearance in the conference’s championship game.

It was a mad party in Ann Arbor after the win, with fans rushing the field and players celebrating in the middle of Michigan Stadium. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh enjoyed himself after the win and even was met by Wolverines basketball coach Juwan Howard, who congratulated him on the field.

Here is video of the meeting:

That’s very cool and shows just how tight the members of the school’s athletic department are.

The win was absolutely enormous for Michigan. Both teams were 10-1 entering the game. A spot in the conference title game and a shot at making the College Football Playoff was on the line. Michigan was 0-5 against Ohio State under Harbaugh. And they prevailed. Howard knows just how much the win means to the school.

Nick Saban goes viral for all-time rant about ungrateful fans

Nick Saban looking angry

Nick Saban went viral on Wednesday night for his all-time rant about ungrateful fans.

Saban was hosting his weekly call-in radio show “Hey Coach & The Nick Saban Show presented by Alfa Insurance.” One caller asked Saban how he handled the “rat poison” from the media. The caller mentioned how everyone went to the game last weekend knowing Alabama would beat Arkansas, but there was disappointment that the margin of victory was not greater (Bama won 42-35).

Saban began his answer by talking about his advice for players on how to handle the hype from the media. But then things got really good when Saban started to talk about the fan expectations. The Bama coach was incredulous that fans would come to games expecting a win and only wondering about the margin of victory.

“When I came here, everyone was happy to win a game,” Saban said. “Now we’re not happy to win a game. We’re not happy to win at all. We think we should win games by whatever … and I don’t think that’s fair for the players. … to get criticized for what they work hard for to do so that you can be entertained … and they’re not perfect. They’re just college students!

“Give me a break! This is not professional football! These guys aren’t getting paid to play here! They’re representing you all! You should be proud and happy to support them and appreciate what they do and have some gratitude!” Saban continued.

The Alabama coach wasn’t done.

“And you know what else? Nobody wants to win worse than they do! Not me, not you, I don’t care what kind of fan you are. Nobody wants to win more than the players that play. Nobody!

“So for all you self-absorbed folks out there that can’t look past your own self to appreciate what other people are doing.”

That was amazing.

Saban has been Alabama’s coach since 2007. He went 7-6 in his first season and 12-2 in his second season. Then they went 14-0 and won the national title in 2009, his third season. Since 2008, Bama has won at least 10 games in every season, been ranked No. 1 at one point during the season, and they have won six national championships. It’s hard to get much better than that, and some fans have obviously become too ungrateful.

Mario Cristobal heading to Miami but not for reason you think

Mario Cristobal in an Oregon shirt

Mario Cristobal and his Oregon Ducks pulled off a big win in the Civil War rivalry game against Oregon State on Saturday, and Cristobal delivered some somber news afterwards.

The Miami native said he would be flying from Oregon to Florida after the game to visit his mother, who he said was ill.

Cristobal is in his fourth season as Oregon’s head coach and has the Ducks 10-2 after a 38-29 win over the Beavers. The 51-year-old was an all-conference player at Miami from 1989-1992. He was a graduate assistant there from 1998-2000 and an offensive position coach from 2004-2006. He coached FIU in Miami from 2007-2012. All in all, Cristobal has strong Miami ties.

Some will question the timing of Cristobal’s trip, especially considering recent reports. Oregon fans though will take him at his word and offer prayers for his family.

Oregon is set to face Utah next week in the Pac-12 Championship Game. They will be seeking revenge following their bad loss to the Utes last week.

Photo: Nov 23, 2019; Tempe, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports