December 08, 2011
Making the morning rounds.
• They've only fired eight consecutive head coaches here. What could go wrong? After hot pursuit of Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, Memphis took an abrupt left turn Wednesday night by offering its head coaching job to TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente, who's expected to be announced as the Tigers' new boss today. Fuente began his college career at Oklahoma, went on to set multiple school passing records at Murray State and now, at 35 years old, is less than one month from taking the title of "Youngest Division I Head Coach" from Western Kentucky's Willie Taggart. (Fuente was born on July 30, 1976; Taggart was born a few weeks later, on Aug. 27.)
In three years under Fuente, TCU's offense set school records for yards and points in 2009, surpassed both marks en route to a 13-0 finish in 2010 and is on pace to break the scoring record again in 2011 — and that's despite breaking in a new quarterback this year, sophomore Casey Pachall, for NFL-bound Andy Dalton. Meanwhile, the rock-bottom outfit Fuente inherits at Memphis finished dead last in Conference USA in total and scoring offense for the second year in a row. [Memphis Commercial Appeal]
• The Urban Effect, stage one. Hyped Hueytown, Ala., quarterback Jameis Winston, a five-star Florida State pledge rated by Rivals (and everyone else) as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class, confirmed Wednesday that he plans to make his first official visit sometime this winter — to Ohio State. "I talked to [Buckeyes coach Urban] Meyer the first day he had got hired," said Winston, who still contends he's "solid" on his verbal commitment to the Seminoles. "Basically, he was telling me about Tim Tebow and Alex Smith, and developing them. And, you know, he had Cam Newton for a little while."
• Mtn Sweet Mtn. As expected, Air Force officially rejected overtures from the Big East Wednesday, committing to remain in the Mountain West despite the exit of the conference's entire upper class — BYU, Utah, TCU and Boise State, along with San Diego State — over the last two years. Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada will arrive next year from the WAC to shore up the ranks, but the biggest step to remaining a viable conference: Finding a way to rework the MWC's terrible television deal without crawling back to ESPN.
In the meantime, long-suffering WAC commissioner Karl Benson basked in the return of Boise State to the fold — minus the Broncos' Big East-bound football team, of course — and wondered if maybe Fresno, Hawaii and Nevada wouldn't like to join them? [Colorado Springs Gazette, Reno Gazette-Journal]
• Sorry about that. In his weekly "insider" letter to supporters, Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said he regretted firing coach Mike Sherman over the phone last week, but had no choice because the news was spreading so quickly online. "What we believed to be a confidential decision was becoming public quickly. The last thing I wanted was to inform Mike Sherman of the decision via telephone, but with the news breaking and Mike on the road recruiting, I had no other choice. … Mike deserved to hear from me before he heard the news from anyone else. Needless to say, calling Mike on the phone was one of the hardest things I've had to do. That's not how I like to conduct business."
• Everybody do the coordinator shuffle. Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof has defected for the same job at Central Florida, conveniently saving Auburn the trouble of firing him after finishing next-to-last in the SEC in total and scoring defense. The Tigers yielded at least 34 points in seven different games this year, including all five losses, which… yep, sounds just about right for an outfit that returned two starters after finishing ninth in the SEC in total defense in 2010. [Orlando Sentinel]
Quickly… Joe Paterno is undergoing treatment for lung cancer. … The L.A. Times attempts to penetrate the inbred athletic culture at UCLA. … ESPN says "Tebow" 88 times in a single hour on Wednesday's TebowCenter. … An elusive Dallas man keeps trying to pass himself off as a student to play football at local high schools. … And three guesses which brand of detergent they use in the Alabama locker room?