Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) gestures prior to the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Young favored to claim Alabama’s first Heisman at QB

An Alabama quarterback has never won the coveted Heisman Trophy.

Bryce Young has become very aware of that fact in recent days and the sophomore is the favorite to become the first when the Heisman is handed out on Saturday in New York.

The other finalists are Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Young had a fabulous season and guided Alabama to the No. 1 seed in the upcoming College Football Playoff. The first-year starter has a solid chance at ending the drought when the winner is announced.

“It’s something I don’t take for granted,” Young said earlier this week. “To even get an opportunity to go after an accomplishment like this, I’m truly grateful to be in the position that I am.”

The Crimson Tide have had some recent quarterback close calls with AJ McCarron (2013) and Tua Tagovailoa (2018) finishing second, and Mac Jones (2020) finishing third. Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith won the award last season.

Young has thrown for 4,322 yards and 40 touchdowns against just four interceptions. His last showing certainly resonated with voters as he threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-24 win over then-No. 1 Georgia in the SEC title game.

The candidacy of Hutchinson has flourished late in the season due to three-sack efforts against Penn State and Ohio State and leading the 42-3 steamrolling of Iowa in the Big Ten title game.

Hutchinson fractured an ankle 13 months ago or he otherwise might have been off to the NFL. Instead, he returned and has etched his name into Michigan lore with a school-record 14 sacks and overall tenacious play.

The biggest hurdle for Hutchinson is that only one primarily defensive player has won the award. Of course, Michigan claims that player in 1997 winner Charles Woodson.

The last defensive player to finish in the Top 3 was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o (second in 2012). Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh only finished fourth despite a monster season in 2009. Also of note is that Pitt defensive end Hugh Green finished second in 1980 after terrorizing opponents.

But Michigan’s appearance in the CFP for the first time also might earn Hutchinson more votes.

“There’s no question that we’re not in the position that we’re in today without Aidan Hutchison,” Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Pickett also made a strong late-season push and has surpassed some big records along the way while helping the Panthers win the ACC title.

He set school career marks of 12,303 yards and 81 touchdowns — the latter stood for 39 years after being set by legendary Dan Marino. His 42 passing touchdowns this season broke the ACC mark of 41 set by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016.

Pickett considered leaving for the NFL after last season but wasn’t thrilled with draft projections. Now he is looked at as a high pick in the first round.

Pickett, who passed for 4,319 yards and seven interceptions, also is looking to join running back Tony Dorsett (1976) as the school’s lone Heisman winner.

“It is an incredible honor to be named a Heisman Trophy finalist,” Pickett said. “I’m so proud to represent our university this weekend in New York City. This honor is about our entire program and all of my teammates and coaches. Just like our ACC Championship, we did this together.”

Stroud also is a first-year starter and passed for 3,862 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions for an Ohio State squad that led the nation in scoring (45.5 points per game) and total offense (551.4 yards per game).

He topped 400 passing yards on four occasions and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

“It’s really cool. It’s a blessing,” Stroud told reporters Wednesday of being a finalist. “I never knew it would be this, honestly. I’m just truly blessed and blessed to be around these great people. “I love my teammates to death. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”

Among the players who didn’t receive an invitation were Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral (20 passing touchdowns, 11 rushing), Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III (second nationally with 1,636 rushing yards) and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson (nation-leading 15.5 sacks).

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; The Texas Tech Red Raiders mascot walks the sidelines with the cheerleaders during the first half of the game between the Baylor Bears and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Texas Tech to hire Oregon DC Tim DeRuyter

Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is expected to leave Oregon to take the same position at Texas Tech, multiple outlets reported Wednesday.

DeRuyter, 58, is taking defensive backs coach Marcell Yates with him to Lubbock, Texas, per the reports. They will join the staff of new Red Raiders head coach Joey McGuire, hired last month. It’s not clear if either will coach for Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.

The reported move comes in the aftermath of Mario Cristobal being named the new head coach at Miami earlier this week.

Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead also left Oregon to become the head coach at Akron earlier this week.

DeRuyter was in the first season of a three-year deal worth $825,000 annually, per The Oregonian. He led the Ducks to No. 60 in total defense (371.8 yards per game) this past season. Oregon also ranks 37th in run defense (130.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (25.5 points).

DeRuyter has also been a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Ohio, Navy, Nevada, Air Force and Cal. He was also the head coach at Fresno State from 2012-16, going 31-30.

–Field Level Media

Aug 31, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;  Pittsburgh Panthers offensive coordinator Mark Whipple (left) talks with quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) the Virginia Cavaliers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Virginia won 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska hires former Pitt OC Mark Whipple to lead offense

Nebraska hired Mark Whipple as offensive coordinator on Wednesday, one day after he resigned from the same position with No. 12 Pittsburgh.

Whipple, 64, also will serve as the quarterbacks coach for the Cornhuskers under head coach Scott Frost.

Whipple coached at Pitt for three seasons, helping quarterback Kenny Pickett develop into a Heisman Trophy finalist as the Panthers (11-2) captured the program’s first-ever ACC championship this season. His offense ranked No. 3 in the nation in scoring with 43.0 points per game.

It was previously reported that Whipple interviewed with Frost last weekend in the Phoenix area, where he was on a recruiting trip for Pitt.

Whipple previously coached at UMass (2014-18). He also coached at Brown from 1994-97 and Division II New Haven from 1988-93. He has also coached quarterbacks at the NFL level with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2004-06) and Cleveland Browns (2011-12).

Nebraska also announced the hiring of Chicago Bears assistant offensive line coach Donovan Raiola as the Huskers’ new offensive line coach.

–Field Level Media

Sep 15, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs head coach Jeff Tedford watches his team run pregame drills during warmups before a game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Fresno State rehires Jeff Tedford as head coach

Fresno State hired Jeff Tedford on Wednesday for his second stint as head coach of the Bulldogs.

Tedford, 60, guided his alma mater to a 26-14 record and two bowl appearances from 2017-19 before resigning in December 2019 due to health issues.

“I am incredibly excited to welcome Jeff Tedford back as the head coach of Fresno State Football,” athletic director Terry Tumey said in a news release. “Jeff is a true Bulldog alumnus, an incredible coach and leader, and has continued to be a vital member of our Valley community. The Pride and Tradition of Bulldog Football is alive and well.”

Tedford replaces Kalen DeBoer, who departed last month to become the new head coach at Washington.

Interim coach Lee Marks will lead Fresno State (9-3) against UTEP (7-5) in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 18.

Before his first stint at Fresno State, Tedford compiled an 82-57 record as the head coach at Cal from 2002-12. He was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator in 2014 and the head coach of the CFL’s BC Lions in 2015.

With the Bulldogs, he inherited a 1-11 team and immediately went 10-4 in 2017. The program reached its greatest heights in 2018, finishing 12-2 and winning the Mountain West championship and the Las Vegas Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  LSU Tigers quarterback Max Johnson (14) passes the ball against Louisiana Monroe Warhawks during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

LSU QB Max Johnson to enter transfer portal

In addition to its new coach, LSU apparently will have a new quarterback when next season begins.

Tigers quarterback Max Johnson announced his plans to enter the transfer portal Tuesday. Joining the sophomore signal-caller in moving on from a commitment to LSU will be his younger brother Jake Johnson, the top-ranked tight end in the Class of 2022.

Tuesday’s news is a gut punch for Brian Kelly, who recently agreed to a 10-year, $95 million deal to become the Tigers’ next head coach.

Max Johnson threw for 2,815 yards, 27 touchdowns and six interceptions this season, helping LSU to a 6-6 record and a berth in the Texas Bowl against Kansas State on Jan. 4.

He tweeted Tuesday: “LSU, Thank you for allowing me to pursue my academic and athletic career here. I have made strong relationships that will last a lifetime with coaches, staff and especially my teammates! With careful and prayerful consideration, I am entering the transfer portal.”

Jake Johnson, a four-star recruit, announced Tuesday that he will reopen his recruitment, tweeting: “With much prayer and thoughtful consideration, I am de-committing from LSU. I am opening up my recruitment! I plan on early enrollment”

Max and Jake are the sons of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson, a Super Bowl winner with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2002 season.

Freshman quarterback Garrett Nussmeier likely will start for LSU in the Texas Bowl against Kansas State, though he would have to burn his redshirt season in order to take the field against the Wildcats. Nussmeier has seen action in four games this year, throwing for 329 yards with two TDs and two INTs.

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles watches during football practice at the Sherman Smith Training Center.


Syndication The Oklahoman

Buckeyes hire DC Jim Knowles away from Oklahoma State

After a season of spotty defense and 11 days after giving up 42 points to Michigan, Ohio State coach Ryan Day announced Tuesday that Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has been hired to fill that role for the Buckeyes.

Knowles spent the past four seasons at Oklahoma State, and the Cowboys’ defense in 2021 was a major reason why they finished atop the Big 12.

He will stay with Oklahoma State through a Fiesta Bowl appearance against Notre Dame and join Ohio State after the Buckeyes face Utah in the Rose Bowl, also on New Year’s Day.

“Starting Jan. 2, Knowles will be the Buckeyes’ new defensive coordinator,” Day said. “What is most important at this time is that we put our players in the best position possible to finish this season with a win in the Rose Bowl. To that end, we will continue our planning and preparation for the game with our current staff of 10 assistant coaches.”

Significantly, the 56-year-old Knowles helped turned the Cowboys from an offense-oriented program into one that improved its defensive numbers in each of the past four seasons.

While Ohio State was flailing around trying to slow down Michigan as the Big Ten title slipped away from the Buckeyes, Oklahoma State was finishing the regular season with the third-ranked total defense in the country (278.4 yards per game) and was eighth in scoring defense (16.8 points per game), and second in third-down defense (26.1 percent).

Ohio State was 50th in total defense (365.4 ypg), tied for 25th in scoring defense (20.1 ppg), and – notably — tied for 97th in third-down defense (41.4).

Day relieved defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs of play-calling duties after the Buckeyes lost to Oregon, 35-20, back on Sept. 11. Secondary coach Matt Barnes handled that role through the rest of the season, but with the addition of Knowles after the bowl games, Day did not indicate whether Coombs or Barnes will remain on the Buckeyes staff.

Knowles was previously defensive coordinator at Duke (2010-17), head coach at Cornell (2004-09), and linebackers coach at Ole Miss (2003) after earlier stops at Western Michigan (1997-02) and Cornell (1988-96).

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Panthers offensive coordinator Mark Whipple (left) and quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) talk during a time-out against the Clemson Tigers in the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh OC Mark Whipple resigns

Fresh off helping No. 12 Pittsburgh win the ACC championship and mentoring a Heisman Trophy finalist, Panthers offensive coordinator Mark Whipple resigned Tuesday.

No reason was given by Whipple or the school. Whipple, 64, just completed his third season in the role. He will not coach the Panthers in the Peach Bowl vs. Michigan State.

“During his three seasons at Pitt, Mark Whipple was a great asset for our entire football program. He did a tremendous job transitioning us from a heavy run attack to one of the best passing games in the entire country,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “His great work with quarterbacks was obviously on full display, given the outstanding year Kenny Pickett has enjoyed.”

Pickett was named a finalist to attend Saturday’s Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York.

Whipple coached Pickett to an ACC-record 43 touchdown passes this season. Pickett threw for 4,319 yards as Pitt raced to its first ever ACC title. The Panthers had the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense.

The news comes amid a report that Whipple interviewed with Nebraska head coach Scott Frost on Sunday in the Phoenix area. The Lincoln Journal Star reported Whipple met with Frost in Chandler, Ariz., where Whipple was on a recruiting trip for Pitt.

Whipple’s contract at Pitt was up at the end of the season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal throws a football to his son   s after a game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks won 38-29. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Miami introduces new coach Mario Cristobal

Miami introduced Mario Cristobal on Tuesday, capping a whirlwind and controversial courtship to begin the new head coach’s tenure in Coral Gables, Fla.

“I’m honored and humbled. Words can’t describe,” Cristobal said. “This is strong. This hits as hard as it can hit. What an honor. … My god, what an honor.”

Miami had been courting Cristobal, a former Hurricanes player and assistant coach, all while Cristobal was entertaining an offer to remain at Oregon and erstwhile Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz still held the job. The school fired Diaz on Monday morning before naming Cristobal to the position later in the day.

Adding to the controversy, Miami told the media attending Cristobal’s introductory press conference not to ask him questions about the hiring process, according to an Associated Press reporter.

Regardless, Tuesday marked the beginning of a new era for Hurricanes football.

“When The U is on and The U brings it, there’s nothing like it,” Cristobal said. “We gotta get there. That’s going to take everybody.

“Everything is here,” Cristobal said. “It’s a first-class university, academically, your diploma. You’re in the hotbed of talent in the entire country. Your facilities have taken a tremendous upgrade and are going to continue to grow. You’re going to be surrounded by the best coaches.”

Cristobal, 51, played at Miami from 1989-92, was a graduate assistant from 1998-2000 before returning as an assistant coach from 2004-06.

Cristobal just completed his fourth full season at Oregon. He was 35-13 overall, including 10-3 this year following Friday night’s 38-10 loss to Utah in the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas. Last December, Cristobal signed a new six-year, $27.3 million deal with the Ducks through the 2025 season.

Cristobal previously coached at Florida International, also located in South Florida, from 2007-12, putting together a 27-47 record in six seasons. Overall, Cristobal is 62-60 as a head coach.

Cristobal signed a 10-year deal worth a reported $80 million. Miami was all in to bring Cristobal home.

“All in is all in,” Cristobal said. “I feel more driven, more motivated than ever. I can’t wait to get to work. … Let’s get this thing right. Let’s take this thing to a new level. … I want to be around guys who can’t live without football.”

–Field Level Media

Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis watches warmups before the Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.

Michigan OC Josh Gattis wins Broyles Award as top assistant

Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis was named the winner Tuesday of the 2021 Broyles Award, given each year to the top assistant coach in the nation.

Gattis, who also coaches wide receivers, was hired as Michigan’s offensive coordinator before the 2019 season. He is the first Michigan assistant to win the award since defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann was honored in 1997.

In 2021, Michigan (12-1) ranks No. 10 in rushing offense (223.8 yards per game), No. 13 in scoring offense (37.7 points) and No. 18 in total offense (451.9 total yards).

In the Big 10 championship game on Saturday, the Wolverines offense put up 461 yards — an average of 7.4 yards per play.

Michigan is ranked No. 2 in the nation and will face No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve for a chance to play in the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 10.

Gattis, 37, played safety at Wake Forest and spent parts of three seasons in the NFL before beginning his coaching career. He previously was an assistant coach at Alabama (2018), Penn State (2014-17), Vanderbilt (2012-13) and Western Michigan (2011).

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  McNeese State Cowboys head coach Frank Wilson looks on during the second half against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Report: McNeese coach Frank Wilson resigns

McNeese head coach Frank Wilson has resigned after two seasons, Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday.

Wilson, 48, guided the Cowboys to a 4-7 record this season after going 3-4 in his pandemic-delayed debut season last spring.

Before joining the Football Championship Subdivision program in Lake Charles, La., Wilson compiled a 19-29 record in four seasons (2016-19) as the coach at UTSA.

He was previously an assistant coach at LSU (2010-15), Tennessee (2009), Southern Miss (2008) and Ole Miss (2005-07).

–Field Level Media