Big 12: Tennessee Volunteers
Earlier this month, Arthur Brown, the No. 6 recruit in the 2008 ESPNU 150 and the top linebacker, transferred from Miami to Kansas State.
Now his brother, Bryce Brown, could follow. Bryce Brown, the No. 9 recruit in the 2009 ESPNU 150 and the No. 2 running back, spent last season at Tennessee. But coach Derek Dooley said Brown was, at least for the moment, "not a part of the team," as the Vols began spring practice.
A source at Tennessee told ESPN's Bruce Feldman that didn't mean he was gone for good yet.
But a return closer to home to play with his brother would seem a likely destination. The Brown brothers played together at Wichita East, about 130 miles south of Manhattan, Kan.
Bryce Brown was the center of a lengthy recruiting battle last season, not signing with the Vols until March 16 after reneging on a previous commitment to follow his brother to Miami. As a freshman, Brown rushed for 460 yards on 101 carries, scoring three touchdowns for the Vols. He also caught 10 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Arthur Brown will sit out the 2010 season before becoming eligible in 2011. Bryce Brown would do the same, unless he elects to transfer to an FCS school, where he would be immediately eligible.
The thought occurred to me to check it out, so I drove by the nearest location after I delivered my boy to school earlier today.
The lines outside the restaurant convinced me that a wiser choice was to return back home to my blogging duties.
Here are some stories from across the Big 12 this afternoon that should prove a little more substantial than the blueberry Pop Tart I had instead.
- The Lincoln Journal Star’s Steve Sipple relates that new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley contacted Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini about joining his staff in a similar position before settling on Justin Wilcox.
- The San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle’s Brent Zwerneman senses a growing sense of accountability in terms of wins and losses among Mike Sherman’s staff at Texas A&M.
- The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes mentions in his mailbag that Kansas’ hiring of Turner Gill stood apart from other coaching hires.
- The Austin American-Statesman’s Richard Tijerina’s must-read “Breakfast with Bevo” reports that the Texas football team was honored during halftime at the Longhorns’ “Big Monday” game against Kansas last night. It was probably the bright spot for most of the fans who attended the game.
- The Lawrence Journal-World’s Lindsey Slater reports that Kansas is expanding an area of discounted seats at Memorial Stadium and dropping some prices of season tickets to as low as $199 for the upcoming season.
- The Omaha World-Herald’s Tom Shatel writes that Nebraska’s offense should be based on dominating linemen rather than speedy receivers -- so he’s not necessarily worried about the Cornhuskers’ most recent recruiting class.
- Former Baylor wide receiver Lawrence Elkins was among 10 former athletic figures inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Monday night, the Waco Tribune-Herald’s John Werner reports.
- Mediation talks between Mike Leach’s attorneys and those representing Texas Tech have failed to reach an out-of-court settlement, although the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Matthew McGowan reports that talks have not broken down.
- Heralded recruit Gilbert Moye, who played tailback for Missouri, has left the Tigers’ program, the Columbia Tribune’s Dave Matter reports. Moye plans to transfer to a Southwestern Athletic Conference or Southland Conference program with hopes to play quarterback at his new school.
- Missouri ranks third among possible Big Ten expansion candidates in a online readers’ poll commissioned by USA Today. The Tigers rank behind leader Notre Dame and No. 2 Pittsburgh.
- Derek Summers of the Oklahoma State Daily O’Collegian reports that Mike Gundy is looking for immediate contributions from some members of the Cowboys’ 2010 recruiting class.
- Former Baylor assistant coach and current North Carolina State linebackers coach Andy McCollum is close to being hired on Paul Johnson’s staff at Georgia Tech, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson reports.
But as good of a game as the New Orleans-Indianapolis matchup was, I'll take a college football game over a pro one any day of the week.
The passion you saw last night at Sun Life Stadium is a regular occurrence every Saturday during the fall.
Here are some Big 12 lunch links to help provide some information to get us ready for the upcoming spring practices across the conference.
- The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Adam Zuvanich wonders if anybody else is having college football withdrawal?
- The Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls reports in his timely nine things and one crazy prediction that Mack Brown has told all of his incoming freshmen to be ready to challenge for immediate playing time.
- The Omaha World-Herald’s Mitch Sherman reports that Nebraska will be getting a scrappy player in incoming quarterback Brion Carnes.
- Rumors about Bob Stoops leaving Oklahoma apparently had no effect on the Sooners' recruiting efforts, according to College Football News.
- The Oklahoman’s Brandon Chatmon catches up with the 2009 Oklahoma State recruiting class and his colleague Jake Trotter does the same with the 2009 Oklahoma recruiting class.
- The Miami Herald’s Edwin Pope opines about Roger Craig being skipped over, along with other deserving players when the NFL Hall of Fame's new class was announced.
- New Oklahoma secondary coach Willie Martinez tells the Tulsa World’s Dave Sittler about his association with Howard Schnellenberger and his role in the celebrated “fumblerooski” play in Miami's 1983 national championship victory.
- Bohls introduces us to Gale Gilbert, the father of Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert and a player Bohls refers to as “the Forrest Gump” of football.
- Kansas recruit Brandon Bourbon’s decision to shun Stanford and Harvard for a chance to play football for the Jayhawks is examined by the Topeka Capital-Journal's Tully Corcoran.
- Time.com ranks Barry Sanders as one of the 10 greatest Heisman Trophy winners in history.
- The Bryan Eagle’s Robert Cessna measures up Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter with new Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
- The Dallas Morning News' Kevin Sherrington catches up with former Baylor standout receiver Lawrence Elkins, a former college All-American who has had an interesting career since leaving football.
ESPNU’s Lowell Galindo and Scouts Inc.’s Tom Luginbill and Craig Haubert give us what to look for in Big 12 recruiting.
Unlike recent seasons, Texas is still in the hunt for a couple of major commitments in Plano, Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and outside linebacker Jordan Hicks of West Chester, Ohio. The Longhorns are currently ranked No. 2 and both say they could zoom in the recruiting rankings if they get either key remaining recruit.
I've got to agree. If the Longhorns are able to finish with a flourish, they have a great opportunity to nose into the top position nationally. Oklahoma can similarly make a jump up if they can beat out the Longhorns for Jeffcoat in the last head-to-head recruiting battle of the season between the two South Division powers.
Luginbill also notes DeMarco Cobbs, a late defection from Tennessee, as a possible contender for playing time at running back. The position has been the Longhorns’ greatest weakness in recent seasons.
Oklahoma follows at No. 6 and Texas A&M is at 14th among Scouts Inc’s most recent rankings.
Haubert and Luginnbill also play a quick game of “Take Your Pick,” as they analyze where Jackson and Hicks will end up on another video. Check it out to determine where these key recruits and other top undecided players will be headed.
And keep checking back until Signing Day at ESPN.com to catch the latest recruiting information.
My doctor tells me that consuming these links every day will help prevent colds.
Call it my version of chicken soup for the Big 12 fan's soul.
- Donald Trump hasn’t forgotten about his old friend Mike Leach, KCBD-TV in Lubbock reports.
- Not a good day for Kansas players working out at the East-West Shrine practices. Todd Reesing was measured at only 5-foot-10 and Kerry Meier lacked burst coming out of his cuts, Russ Lande of The Sporting News reports.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star’s Steve Sipple and Brian Christopherson provide a video update on Nebraska’s late recruiting prospects.
- Former Baylor coach and current Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has decided to stay at his job rather than accept the job as the new defensive coordinator on Derek Dooley’s staff at Tennessee, Ed McGranahan of the Greenville News reports.
- Denton Ryan (Texas) quarterback Scotty Young tells the Denton Record-Chronicle’s Adam Boedeker that he’s solid with his commitment to Texas Tech, even after the coaching change to Tommy Tuberville.
- The Daily Kansan’s Nicolas Roesler writes about where Mark Mangino’s staff has landed after it was let go by Turner Gill in the Jayhawks’ coaching change.
- Among the coaches still in the mix for East Carolina’s vacant head coaching job include Leach, former Texas Tech defensive coordinator and ECU alum Ruffin McNeill and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, Nathan Summers of the Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector.
- Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is in line to be hired as Texas A&M’s new defensive coordinator later this week, Jake Schaller of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.
- Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young and new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen both will be paid $360,000 next season, Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World reports.
- The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel opines that Mike Gundy showed some maturity when he ended his work as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator and hired Dana Holgorsen to replace him.
- Paul Rhoads was listed No. 4 and Bill Snyder was ninth in Richard Cirminiello of College Football News’ ranking of 2009’s first-year head coaches.
Tom Luginbill of Scouts Inc. reports that Waco Midway High School safety Ahmad Dixon has again confirmed he will be coming to Baylor after considering Tennessee before the Lane Kiffin coaching change.
Dixon was originally a Texas recruit before opting for the Bears. He's a four-star prospect who is ranked 15th among ESPNU's top 150 players and is the nation's third-highest rated safety. It's not a stretch to say he's the most highly decorated prospect to come to Baylor during Briles' coaching tenure.
His recommitment came even after Dixon's recent recruiting trip to Alabama.
Dixon also seriously considered recruiting offers from LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida and TCU, among others.
The Bears also are celebrating the commitment of linebacker Bryce Hager of Austin Westlake High School. His father Britt, was an All-American linebacker for Texas in the 1980s.
Bryce Hager opted for the Bears' offer of a full scholarship after he was given the chance to join Texas as a preferred walk-on, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.
“Baylor is an up and coming program, and I really enjoyed meeting the players and coaching staff over the weekend,” Bryce Hager told the Tribune-Herald. “Texas wanted me to come as a preferred walk-on, but that’s not what I wanted to do. I think things are going to work out the way they need to be.”
Even his father, who played nine seasons in the NFL, was excited about his scholarship offer with the Bears.
"I can’t wait to get me some Baylor stuff,” Britt Hager told the newspaper. "Bryce wants to play in the Big 12 and stay in Texas, and I believe Baylor is going to have some great football teams in the next few years.”
That realization led Gundy to hire Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen as his new offensive coordinator, the school announced Friday night.
"We're elated that Dana is joining our staff," Gundy said. "He has a great pedigree, and a history of success. We're excited about what he brings to the OSU football program."
Only a day after Gundy vowed to retain control of his offense in a Tulsa World story, the new hiring brings one of the nation's hottest coordinators to Oklahoma State.
Holgorsen, a protege of Mike Leach's coaching tree, helped the Cougars lead the nation in scoring (42.2 points per game), passing yards (433 per game) and total offense (563 yards per game). Obviously, he was helped by having quarterback Case Keenum at his disposal. But there's still something to be said for that kind of production.
There apparently are no immediate changes in Gundy's staff, making current offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer's status iffy. It's undetermined if Brewer would take another role on Gundy's staff with Holgorsen's arrival, although the Oklahoman reports that specific duties have not been determined.
Brewer is close with new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley. A persistent rumor has that Brewer, the son of former Mississippi coach Billy Brewer, might return to the Southeastern Conference to join Dooley's new staff with the Volunteers.
It will be interesting to see what Holgorsen's arrival will mean for Gundy, who has dabbled with his team's offense ever since taking over as the team's head coach in 2005.
I can't see Gundy giving that tinkering up. But I also can't believe that Holgorsen would take the OSU job unless he was given autonomy to run the Cowboys' offense.
It's funny, but the stream of e-mails hasn't abated with the end of the season. If anything, more people are interested in what is going on with their favorite teams and players.
Here's a representative sample of some of the better missives I've received over the last couple of days.
Jason from Fort Worth, Texas, writes: First of all, I enjoy reading your blog everyday. Hopefully next season I will see more posts about Baylor winning games. I'm curious if it has been officially determined that Robert Griffin will get a medical redshirt? And if so, do you see him staying at Baylor all four years?
Tim Griffin: Baylor submitted the paperwork for an injury redshirt for Griffin soon after he got hurt. Heath Nielsen, the intrepid associate athletic director for media affairs at Baylor, tells me the Big 12 approved it in November.
It means Griffin will be classified as a sophomore during the 2010 season. I expect him to rejuvenate the Bears’ offense the minute he steps on the field.
And if he played like he did as a freshman and last season, he’ll immediately inject the Bears with the opportunity to challenge for a bowl trip. But I don’t necessarily know if he’ll stay four years. He might develop into a pro football prospect before his eligibility is over. A more likely possibility might be that he elects to compete for the U.S. Olympic team in track and field in 2012.
Johnathan Morrow of Knoxville, Tenn., writes: I agree that the Texas job is more appealing right now and that Will Muschamp probably made the right decision to stay in Texas. But the assumption that the Texas job is better than the Tennessee job could ever possibly be is just that, an assumption, completely void factual information and riddled with bias and speculation.
I firmly believe in the right to express an educated opinion but making predictions from now to the end of time is nothing more than a shot in the dark. Give us some responsible reporting instead of playing this guessing game.
Tim Griffin: Johnathan, thanks for writing and expressing your opinion. But let’s look at the facts in one particular way. I think Tennessee scrambling for its fifth or sixth choice on the coaching job is a pretty good indication of where it ranks among the relative jobs that are out there. By last count -- and this could change after I make this post -- the Volunteers have been turned down by head coaches from Air Force, Utah and Duke (with a Tennessee connection, to boot) along with Muschamp. I can’t see that happening for a top 10 job, and particularly, I could never see it happening for a school like Texas or Florida.
Maybe back in the day when General Bob Neyland was prowling the sidelines, Tennessee was a great job. But in today’s football culture, as we can see by the string of rejections piling up on Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton’s desk, it’s certainly no longer the case
W. Jones of Dallas writes: OK, Tim. We get it. You hate Tech. First, saying you "can't understand why" Tommy Tuberville took the Tech job, and now saying Tech is not a top 30 job but OSU is. Careful, your bias is showing.
Tim Griffin: Sorry, W., but I have no axe to grind with Texas Tech. They handled the coaching switch a little haphazardly, but I’ve got a lot of good friends up on the High Plains. It’s definitely one of my favorite stops along the Big 12 and I’ve enjoyed going up there for more than 20 years.
But the reason I placed Oklahoma State over Texas Tech was simple. Oklahoma State now has better facilities than Texas Tech. It’s obvious when you visit Stillwater. And with a deep-pocketed money guy like T. Boone Pickens, the Cowboys have the Red Raiders beat in that category. Take those two items away and Tech would be even with the Cowboys. Tech barely misses the top 30, but is still a step behind Oklahoma State.
Hondo from Houston writes: Tim is it fair to say that Texas will have the best secondary in the country next season? Led by Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown, the Longhorns will have two shutdown corners.
Tim Griffin: Hondo, I might have agreed with you before last week, but the loss of Earl Thomas strips the Longhorns of their best returning defensive player. I do like Williams, who I think could emerge to become a potential Thorpe Award contender by the time he leaves school. Brown is a solid player, too. Nolan Brewster and Blake Gideon will have to emerge at safety without Thomas. They also need Christian Scott to emerge as a potential big hitter. But there’s still a little bit of a question mark at safety before I give the Longhorns the No. 1 position nationally among secondaries, although I expect Muschamp and Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina to have their group productive during 2010.
David Harris from Joplin, Mo., writes: Hey Tim, is Mike Leach a candidate for the Tennesse position? It seems like he would be a good fit for their program and his scheme would definitely be new to the SEC. What would you think of his chances?
Tim Griffin: I think if Leach was coming off his success from last season, he probably would have had the opportunity to interview with Tennessee by now. But the baggage Leach is carrying after his ouster at Texas Tech will give most athletic directors a lot of pause before hiring him. I think he’s going to have to take a job as an NFL assistant or as a college coach at a smaller-scale program to rebuild his luster as a BCS-level coach.
Leach's offense technically isn’t new in the SEC. He worked as an offensive coordinator under Hal Mumme when Kentucky used the “Air Raid” attack in the late 1990s with Tim Couch at quarterback. That association helped make Couch a Heisman finalist in 1998. Leach then started his Big 12 career the following season as he joined Bob Stoops’ first coaching staff in 1999.
Steve Summers from Arvada, Colo., writes: Tim, what is up with Darrell Scott. Do you expect him to play at Colorado again?
Tim Griffin: Steve, I would be very surprised. I can't see Dan Hawkins allowing him back in the program, although the depth at the position is lagging after Demetrius Sumler announced he was leaving the program earlier this week.
I think Scott could be productive in the right situation. I was surprised that UCLA had little interest in him when news surfaced about his transfer from the Colorado program.
Remember, this was still one of the nation's top running back prospects in the nation in the 2008 recruiting class. If he is in the right situation, I still think he can flourish.
The question for Scott is, where exactly is that place where he can blossom?
Thanks again for all of the great questions. Enjoy the weekend and check back again early next week for another mailbag.
Fans and pundits have castigated Kiffin about his move to a job that has to rank among the top 10 in college football -- even after some of the Trojans’ pending dealings with the NCAA.
Soon thereafter, Texas assistant coach Will Muschamp was thrown into the conversation as a potential replacement for Kiffin at Tennessee. Muschamp, who is the coach-in-waiting at Texas, apparently had the chance to make an unprecedented salary for a first-time college football coach if had decided to lead the Volunteers.
Muschamp opted to stay in Texas, which I believe was a wise choice. The promise of the Longhorns’ top job, even if he has to wait on Mack Brown’s retirement for several seasons, is still is better than the Tennessee job will ever be.
And who can blame Kiffin for trading the life at Tennessee for the glitz and glitter of living in southern California? It seems like an easy choice, particularly because the USC program is a better job.
While I was talking with Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini last night, we started ticking off an informal list of the best jobs in college football. Here’s my list of the 10 most attractive head coaching positions in college football. Three of them are in the Big 12.
1. Texas: It’s got it all -- facilities, support, tradition and located within a rich recruiting base. Mack Brown has made this the nation’s best job. Muschamp would be crazy to skedaddle to Rocky Top and leave this behind.
2. Florida: Recruiting might be better than Texas and the location provides a beach lifestyle. The only trouble with this job, compared to Texas, is that Florida’s place in the SEC is a little more tenuous than Texas’ place in the Big 12.
3. Ohio State: Tradition, facilities and an unmatched place in the pecking order of the Big Ten. Some coaches would love the weather in Columbus, while snowbirds might see it lacking compared to places like those at the top..
4. USC: “Tailback U” has returned to the top thanks to Pete Carroll’s transformation. This is the football team for a southern California without an NFL franchise.
5. Alabama: Still wondering why Dennis Franchione left Alabama for Texas A&M. Another stadium expansion after this season’s national championship has made this a job that Nick Saban would willingly leave one of the NFL’s flagship franchises to return to. Considering his college allegiance, he’s a smart man.
6. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops might have the best setup in coaching considering he’s working for Joe Castiglione and David Boren. Recruiting will always be a matter of plucking Texas players and Stoops has done a marvelous job at that over the years.
7. Penn State: It will be interesting to see who follows Joe Paterno when he finally decides to hang up his whistle. This is one of the Big Ten’s best jobs with facilities and history to match. It might be daunting to follow Paterno, however.
8. Notre Dame: Still has the attention of NBC and the tradition of college football’s most storied program. Can they find the right coach to return Notre Dame to its place of dominance?
9. LSU: There’s a reason why Les Miles decided to stay here rather than pursue the Michigan job. Rabid talent base and SEC television money make this one special. And you can eat good crawfish any time you want.
10. Nebraska: The only drawback for this job is its lack of a fertile home recruiting area. But other than that, this job has got it all including one of the nation’s most knowledgeable fan bases. It’s the biggest unifier for the entire state as college football is clearly king here.
I would have a few other jobs like Georgia, Tennessee, Oregon, UCLA and Florida State ranked just below these top jobs. Texas A&M would be in my top 20. Oklahoma State -- as long as Boone Pickens is financially priming the pump -- would be in my top 30.
I’m curious what the readers might think in terms of a top 10 of destination coaching jobs? Please feel free to provide your rationale to back up your assertions.
Grab them while they are hot -- just like Will Muschamp's persona among those fans who sing "Rocky Top" Saturday afternoons during the fall.
- The Austin American-Statesman’s Suzanne Halliburton reports that Muschamp plans on being with the Texas program “a long time.” But despite those denials, the CollegeFootballNews.com’s Pete Fiutak still ranks Muschamp as the favorite for the vacant Tennessee job.
- Smith College economics professor Andrew Zimbalist tells the Columbus Dispatch’s Jill Riepenhoff that major-college football could save millions by slashing coaches’ salaries, cutting football scholarships and ending the Bowl Championship Series.
- The Bryan Eagle’s Robert Cessna analyzes how the return of Von Miller will help Texas A&M’s defense.
- Rock Chalk Talk provides an introduction to new Kansas defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt.
- Mark Lazerus of the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana references Mike Leach and Mark Mangino as he writes about the fine line between discipline and abuse for coaches.
- As Ndamukong Suh receives the Outland Trophy Thursday night in Omaha, the Lincoln Journal Star’s Steve Sipple explains how the awards presentation ended up in Nebraska.
- The Oklahoman’s Ryan Aber writes about how Midwest City, Okla., running back Tre Porter has re-opened his recruiting after Mike Leach’s firing at Texas Tech.
- Bo Pelini’s 2010 Nebraska team has already caught the attention of national pundits, Mitch Sherman of the Omaha World-Herald reports.
- Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads reflects on his team’s surprising 7-6 season and Insight Bowl triumph with Jake Lovett of the Iowa State Daily.
- The hiring of Lane Kiffin by USC has resulted in several recruits who were considering Oklahoma to switch their allegiances to the Trojans, John Hoover of the Tulsa World reports.
But there are still some stories across the conference that are percolating.
- Alabama associate coach James Willis is expected to accept the vacant defensive coordinator position at Texas Tech, according to Chase Goodbread and Tommy Deas of the Tuscaloosa News.
- The San Antonio Express-News’ Brent Zwerneman reports that Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox met with Mike Sherman about a similar position at Texas A&M and that A&M All-American Von Miller still is mulling whether to declare for the NFL draft.
- My ESPN.com colleague Chris Low reports that Will Muschamp and Mike Gundy are among those in play for the vacant Tennessee head coaching job. And the Birmingham News’ Kevin Scarbinsky wonders if Tennessee officials are willing to make Muschamp an offer he can’t refuse.
- The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel writes about other one-and-done college coaches, including Howard Schnellenberger at Oklahoma and David McWilliams at Texas Tech.
- Doug Lederman of Inside High Education writes about how the incidents involving the ouster of Mike Leach and Mark Mangino signal a change where coaches are confusing discipline and abuse.
- Kicker Justin Castor of Arvada, Colo., has backed out of his commitment to Kansas, the Lawrence Journal-World reports. Castor is still considering Colorado and Arizona State.
- East Carolina’s Skip Holtz appears to be the top name for the vacant South Florida job, although former Iowa State coach and current Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney also is being mentioned, according to the St. Petersburg Times’ Greg Auman.
- New Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville tells USA Today’s Thomas O’Toole that he hopes his players will be “resilient” in the culture change with him taking over the program.
- The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Matthew McGowan and Adam Zuvanich report about the latest legal briefs filed by Mike Leach’s attorneys that claim his firing was based on factors beyond his coaching and alleged mistreatment of an injured player.
- Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram provides an early look at next season’s Big 12 race.
- The pundits at CollegeFootballNews.com weigh in on the hiring of Tommy Tuberville by Texas Tech.
Texas head coach designate Will Muschamp has emerged as the leading candidate for the vacancy at Tennessee, according to various sources across the South.
It might appear far-fetched that Muschamp would leave the Forty Acres for a shot at the Tennessee job, but there are other forces in play that make it seem like it could happen.
For all of the promise of replacing Mack Brown someday in the future, the shot at the Tennessee job might appeal to Muschamp.
First, by any measure, the Tennessee job is a good one. I would include it among the top 12 to 15 jobs in college football when fan support, facilities, conference affiliation and tradition are factored into the equation.
I'd say Texas is among the top three by that measurement. But Muschamp might have to wait several years until Brown retires for that job. The Tennessee job is available now.
Also, Muschamp knows the lay of the land in the Southeastern Conference after playing at Georgia and serving as an assistant at LSU and Auburn. He knows that Urban Meyer's uncertain status at Florida and Georgia's recent downturn make the SEC East winnable on a consistent basis for the Volunteers with the right coach.
Whether he leaves Austin will be determined in the next several days. I would be shocked if Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton doesn't try to talk to Muschamp about the job.
Hamilton needs to hit a home run in filling Kiffin's vacancy.
And Muschamp would provide the big splash the Volunteers so desperately need.
If there’s such a thing as “The Natural” among defensive backs, it's Thomas. He isn’t overly big or physical (5-foot-10, 197 pounds) but he has the uncanny instincts to stick with any receiver. His skills definitely will translate well to the next level.
Thomas isn't as physically gifted as either Eric Berry of Tennessee or USC’s Taylor Mays. Both figure to be picked ahead of Thomas unless he has an off-the-charts workout for NFL scouts later this spring.
Thomas was a finalist for the Thorpe Award in 2009 and would have been the favorite for the award if he had remained for his junior season in 2010.
If he had stayed for another season and had another productive year, it’s not out of the question that Thomas could have developed into the greatest defensive back in Texas football history.
As it is, he’ll be in the conversation with players like Tarell Brown, Cedric and Michael Griffin, Michael Huff, Quentin Jammer, Aaron Ross and Nathan Vasher. All left Texas for a career as a starting defensive back in the NFL. Huff and Ross left with Thorpe awards in back-to-back seasons in 2005 and 2006.
With Thomas leaving, sophomore Nolan Brewster could move into the starting job when spring practice begins for the Longhorns late next month.
A more likely scenario might be to move Blake Gideon to the tight safety position to make room for game-breaking defensive back Christian Scott at Gideon’s current position at free safety.
Scott was giving Gideon a serious challenge in fall camp this year before he was academically suspended. His ferocious hits would provide an intimidating presence to the secondary that was missing this year.
But whoever takes over Thomas' spot will be attempting to fill a sizable void that makes Texas’ rebuilding job a little more daunting.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Before coaching his first game at Iowa State, Paul Rhoads will have to overcome an early high ranking.
My ESPN.com colleague David Duffey has tabbed the Cyclones No. 8 on his initial "Bottom 10" list of the season.
Considering the Cyclones' nation-worst 17-game road losing streak, they are lucky they weren't ranked higher in Duffey's first poll. Iowa State is the second team from a BCS-affiliated conference to be ranked in the poll, trailing only Tennessee.
The Cyclones have a shot at turning around the naysayers when they meet North Dakota State in the Big 12's opening game on Sept. 3.
But if they lose that one, it could really get ugly for Rhoads this season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I've seen colleges emblazon their names on windbreakers and Snuggies, toilet seats and ice cream.
Heck, once at a party I was stunned when I wandered into an empty room and saw a friend had a lifelike 6-foot cutout figure of former Iowa coach Hayden Fry. He looked like he was about ready to roar at an official.
But unquestionably the weirdest sponsorship deal I've ever seen has been the introduction of Masik Fragrances for school-specific perfume products for Penn State, North Carolina and LSU.
The company also plans to introduce products for Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Auburn later this year. A percentage of each bottle sold will go to the university's scholarship and athletic fund.
The development of a school-specific scent is a lot more complicated than I would have thought.
After campus visits, discussion with students and alumni and additional research, a school perfume is developed, the company reports. Among the characteristics considered include school colors, mascot spirit, traditions and history, landmarks and architectural style, campus trees and flowers, mission statements, college town character and themes in the school's alma mater and fight songs.
The Big 12 is missing out with this as each school and stadium has a specific scent that I could pick out if I closed my eyes and tried to imagine them.
Nothing, of course, matches the distinctive odor of a Texas-Oklahoma football game at the Cotton Bowl. The mixture of spilled beer, farm animals from the nearby State Fair of Texas and grease from the corny dog fryers waft to me as soon as I leave my car. It's hard to categorize, but something I instantly recognize each year.
Which Big 12 school will be the first to have its own fragrance?
I can't wait to see which one joins up first. I'd love to take a blind "smell test" to describe what the scent reminds me of.