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#pounditTuesday, November 30, 2021

College Football

Lincoln Riley explains decision to leave Oklahoma for USC

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

Lincoln Riley stunned the college football world this week when he left Oklahoma for USC, and the coach insists the opportunity came together as quickly as it appears.

Riley shed some light on his decision to take the USC job during a Tuesday appearance on “The Herd w/ Colin Cowherd.” He said the move is something that was “very sudden” and that he was genuinely committed to Oklahoma before the Trojans approached him.

“It was very sudden. I was totally committed to our team as we made a championship and playoff run,” Riley said. “I made that very clear to anybody that was interested.

“We got to Norman late Saturday night/early Sunday morning and had a conversation that USC had some serious interest. I slept for a couple of hours and woke up and had a conversation with the USC people, and you could feel their energy. You could feel that the leadership from the very top is willing to do the things that maybe haven’t been done here as of recent to get USC to where it needs to be.”

A lot of people will find Riley’s timeline hard to believe. The USC job has been vacant since Clay Helton was fired in September. It is highly unlikely that the discussions between Riley and USC only began on Saturday night. Even Oklahoma’s president seemed frustrated with Riley over the way he handled his exit.

Of course, that is how things work in college football. Coaches are sometimes in positions where they can’t risk having information leak. That said, Riley may have also misled people by emphatically shooting down another rumor less than 24 hours before his Oklahoma departure.

There are always going to be hard feelings when a coach leaves one top program for another. Riley probably could have done some things differently, but avoiding that altogether is impossible.

Photo: Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stoops has very friendly clause in new Kentucky contract

Mark Stoops patrols the sideline

Mark Stoops signed a contract extension with Kentucky this week, and it is one that should basically allow the head coach to remain with the program for as long as he would like.

Kentucky announced on Tuesday that Stoops will sign a new deal that ties him to the school through at least the 2027 season. The contract also includes a guaranteed one-year extension for every season the Wildcats win at least seven games and two-year extension for every season they win at least 10.

Stoops, 54, has been the head coach at Kentucky since 2013. The Wildcats are 9-3 this year and have won at least seven games in all but one season since 2016. If that trend continues, Stoops essentially has himself a lifetime deal.

The financial terms of the new deal will be released after it is finalized. It’s safe to assume Stoops will get a raise from the $5.25 million he is making this season, which places him among the top 20-highest paid coaches in the country.

Stoops was at one point believed to be the top target of another SEC school, but he is not going anywhere.

Photo: Sep 11, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops looks on during the second quarter against the Missouri Tigers at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Betting odds indicate where Spencer Rattler is likely to transfer

Spencer Rattler holds a ball

Spencer Rattler announced on Monday that he is leaving Oklahoma, and oddsmakers seem to think they know where the quarterback will end up.

Rattler is sure to draw plenty of interest after entering the transfer portal, but he may already have a school in mind. The redshirt sophomore is from Arizona and played high school ball there. That is the main reason Bovada currently lists Arizona State as an overwhelming -215 favorite to land Rattler.

UCLA has the second-best odds, but the Bruins are listed at +700. That means those particular oddsmakers would be shocked if Rattler transfers anywhere but Arizona State.

Rattler, a former five-star recruit, was likely going to enter the transfer portal even if Lincoln Riley didn’t leave for USC. Things did not go as planned for him at Oklahoma. Many expected him to follow in the footsteps of the other great quarterbacks that played under Riley, but Rattler took a big step back this season. He lost his starting job earlier in the year.

Oklahoma is likely going to lose several players and recruits in the wake of Riley’s departure. We know at least one other key player who hinted that he might leave the Sooners.

Arizona State is 8-4 this year in their fourth season under Herm Edwards. There was recent speculation that Edwards might be fired, but he will return in 2022.

Photo: Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler (7) warms up before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021

Report sheds light on Urban Meyer’s future with Jaguars

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer has once again found himself at the center of the college coaching rumor mill, but apparently the Jacksonville Jaguars do not need to be concerned.

Meyer has no interest in taking another college coaching job, ESPN’s Michael DiRocco reports. The 57-year-old remains committed to the Jaguars and trying to build them into a contender.

Meyer is linked to most major college coaching jobs no matter what his situation is at the time they become vacant. That happened once again this week when Brian Kelly left Notre Dame for LSU, and you can understand why.

There is plenty of reason to believe Meyer would have interest in coaching the Fighting Irish. He described Notre Dame as his “dream job” over a decade ago. As recently as 2017, Meyer’s wife Shelly said coaching at Notre Dame would be one of her husband’s dream jobs.

Taking the Notre Dame job would be the perfect way for Meyer to leave the NFL, as he could point to the fact that he has openly admitted he would love to coach there. However, the stench from Meyer’s unflattering scandal in Jacksonville has already worn off. He may genuinely want to see things through, even if his “dream” college job is now available.

Jim Harbaugh has awesome gesture with his Michigan bonuses

Jim Harbaugh in sunglasses

Jim Harbaugh’s approval rating at Michigan is through the roof coming off the team’s huge win over Ohio State, and fans will likely appreciate the coach even more when they hear about the classy decision he has made with his contract.

Harbaugh signed a four-year contract extension with Michigan back in January that includes far less guaranteed money than the top coaches in college football. His guaranteed money for 2021 is $4 million, but he has the ability to earn roughly $4 million more in incentives. Even if he earns all of that money, however, Harbaugh is not planning to keep it.

Harbaugh announced this week that he will give any bonus money he earns back to Michigan’s athletic department. He wants to help alleviate some of the hardships that were caused last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

You could argue that $4 million is more than enough money, but Harbaugh is under no obligation to give anything back. He’s making less than half of what the highest-paid coaches in the country are earning this year despite Michigan being one of the best teams in the country and on the verge of a College Football Playoff berth.

Harbaugh went 11-8 from 2019-2020, which is one of the reasons he took a pay cut. He has proven this season that he probably deserves to be paid more, but he’s giving money back. Between that gesture and the awesome quote he delivered after beating Ohio State, Harbaugh has never been more popular among Wolverines fans.

Photo: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

LSU shares details of Brian Kelly’s contract

Brian Kelly in a suit

LSU officially announced on Tuesday morning that Brian Kelly has been named the head coach of the Tigers. The school also confirmed that Kelly will have the opportunity to become the highest-paid coach in college football.

Kelly has signed a 10-year, $95 million deal with LSU. The school’s announcement said the contract also includes incentives.

Nick Saban’s salary for 2021 is around $9.7 million, which means Kelly will come in right below the Alabama coach. He could surpass Saban if he hits the incentives, whatever they may be.

Many people wondered why Kelly would leave a Notre Dame program that has won double-digit games in five consecutive seasons and could be headed for a third College Football Playoff appearance. Money is likely the reason, and Kelly alluded to that with a recent quote that went viral.

Photo: Sep 28, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly waves to fans as he enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly changes Twitter bio before LSU announcement

Brian Kelly in Notre Dame gear

LSU has yet to announce that Brian Kelly will be the school’s next head football coach, but Kelly went ahead and made the move Twitter official.

Kelly (or whoever runs the coach’s social media pages) has already made major changes to his Twitter bio. The profile features several references to LSU and photoshopped images of Kelly in Tigers gear.

LSU is expected to introduce Kelly as head coach on Tuesday, so he probably figured there was no reason to wait.

Kelly has faced some criticism for the way he handled leaving Notre Dame. The news leaked through the media before he had a chance to inform his players. Kelly then sent out a text message to players apologizing for the way things went down.

There were also questions about whether Kelly took the appropriate steps with his staff.

Hard feelings are expected when a coach leaves one top program for another. It seems like there will be plenty of them with Kelly.

Brian Kelly’s final text message to his Notre Dame players leaked

Brian Kelly in a suit

Brian Kelly’s final text message to his Notre Dame football players leaked on Monday night.

Pete Sampson, who covers the Fighting Irish for The Athletic, shared a screenshot of the message, which Kelly apparently sent to his players through the Teamworks app.

In the message, Kelly apologized to his players that they learned about his impending move to LSU via the media. He said he would be sharing more information with them during a 7:00 a.m. meeting on Tuesday.

“Men…Let me first apologize for the late night text and, more importantly, for not being able to share the news with you in person that I will be leaving Notre Dame,” Kelly wrote. “I am flying back to South Bend tonight to be able to meet with you in the morning but the news broke late today and I am sorry you found out through social media or news reporters. I will have more to share when we meet tomorrow at 7 a.m. but for now, just know my love for you is limitless and I am so proud of all that you have accomplished.

“Our program is elite because of your hard work and commitment and I know that will continue. I will share more in the morning when we meet. Again, my sincere apologies for not being able to be the one to share the news directly with you. Coach Kelly.”

Kelly is taking the LSU job and reportedly set to make over $100 million on a 10-year deal.

The 60-year-old has coached at Notre Dame the last 12 seasons, winning double-digit games for five years in a row. His Irish are 11-1 this season and in contention to make the College Football Playoff.

Hopefully Kelly also had a message for his coaching staff, which apparently felt left in the dark.

Photo: Sep 28, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly waves to fans as he enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly reportedly has ghosted Notre Dame

Brian Kelly in a suit

Reports about Brian Kelly’s impending Notre Dame exit appear to have caught even the coach’s inner circle off-guard.

News abruptly broke Monday night about Kelly’s decision to leave Notre Dame for LSU. While there had been a few stories about LSU’s interest in Kelly, they generally were not taken seriously, especially in light of what Kelly said last week.

Kelly’s exit was so sudden that many at Notre Dame didn’t know about it. Not only that, but it does not appear they heard about it from Kelly himself. Despite the news spreading widely, multiple Notre Dame staffers told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that they have yet to hear from Kelly at all.

One Notre Dame assistant was actually out recruiting when the Kelly news broke.

High-level coaching departures tend to be messy. We heard similar stories coming out of Oklahoma just a day earlier. In that case, however, Lincoln Riley did meet with players and staff to inform them of his decision, even with how abrupt it was. It doesn’t appear Kelly did anything of the sort, and that’s going to leave a very sour taste in some people’s mouths.

Photo: Sep 28, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly waves to fans as he enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan OC Josh Gattis commits all-time dumb move

Josh Gattis claps

Michigan got its first football win over rival Ohio State in 10 years, and they’re acting like they want to go another 10 years before they get another win in the series.

First you had Jim Harbaugh taking a dig at Ryan Day after Michigan overpowered Ohio State 42-27 in the Big House on Saturday. Two days later, it was Josh Gattis talking trash.

Gattis, 37, is in his third season as Michigan’s offensive coordinator. He talked Monday on the “Inside Michigan Football” radio show and shared some insight regarding the team’s strategy against the Buckeyes.

Gattis said Michigan viewed Ohio State as a “finesse team” and “not a tough team.”

“They’re a good team. They’re a finesse team, they’re not a tough team,” Gattis said, via the Detroit News’ Angelique S. Chengelis. “And we knew that going into the game that we can out-physical them, we can out-tough and that was going to be the key to the game, and that’s what we prepared for all year long.”

Gattis went even further, saying that Michigan saw Oregon overpower Ohio State and committed to the same gameplan.

“You saw earlier this year in the game they lost to Oregon, Oregon was the most physical team on the field,” Gattis said. “That’s the way they lost, and we committed to that recipe, and it paid off.”

Look, nothing Gattis said is incorrect. Anyone watching the game could see that Michigan just bullied Ohio State and pushed them around. We wrote about it. We gave credit to Gattis for his gameplan. He, Harbaugh, and Michigan’s players and coaches deserve all the credit for the win.

But you have to wonder what in the heck Gattis was thinking by saying that out loud? That’s the type of thing you keep to yourself and leave unsaid.

It was already widely recognized and known that Michigan pushed around the less physical Buckeyes. Did Gattis feel so strongly that he had to make sure people recognized his genius by saying it publicly?

Gattis essentially called Michigan’s biggest rival “soft.” That’s the kind of quote that stings, that sticks in your head, and that motivates you.

Between what Harbaugh did, and what Gattis has said, Ohio State has all the bulletin-board material they need for next year. They are going to be motivated to hang 100 points on Michigan next season, and the Wolverines can thank Harbaugh — and especially Gattis — for that.

H/T Eleven Warriors

Photo: Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis watches warmups before a game against Northern Illinois at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.