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Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt provides update on head coaching search

Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt held a press conference Saturday afternoon hours after the stunning news of Tommy Tuberville leaving for the head job at Cincinnati. 

Needless to say, Hocutt did not see Tuberville's departure coming. Hocutt said he was at his son's soccer game at 9:15 Saturday morning when he received a call from Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock stating his intention to speak with Tuberville. Tuberville called 75 minutes later informing Hocutt of his resignation and plan to take the job at Cincinnati. 

Hocutt said that Tuberville nor his agent ever asked for an extension. Said Hocutt, "I have never talked to Tommy's agent."

"Tommy is a good man," Hocutt added. "I wish him well."

Hocutt met with the team earlier Saturday afternoon, describing them as proud and determined to beat Minnesota in the upcoming Meineke Car Care Bowl. He also met with the remaining Texas Tech coaching staff, minus offensive coordinator Neal Brown, and Hocutt anticipates they will lead the team well in the next three weeks. 

Hocutt knows he has a good job to sell. He referenced the fact that the Red Raiders have played in a bowl game in 11 of the past 12 seasons, that more than $230 million has been poured into facilities upgrades in the last decade, and an expanded Jones AT&T Stadium saw a school record for average home attendance this fall. 

Hocutt did not delve into specifics of finding Texas Tech's next head coach, but he did state on his media conference call earlier in the afternoon that his search will not be limited just to head coaches. "We will move forward as expeditiously as we can, but take as much time as we need," Hocutt added. 

"I want to bring the best leader in the country to Texas Tech, someone who knows the fabric of west Texas," he concluded. "At the end of the day we want the right leader who can bring a winning style of football to Texas Tech."

Behind the scenes video: Butch Jones' first day at UT

Quality video. Enjoy!

Willie Taggart ready to drive the bus at South Florida

Willie Taggart stated throughout his introductory press conference as the head coach at South Florida that he was going to start recruiting as soon as he left the room. That wasn't exactly true. Taggart's infectious personality and palpable enthusiasm started selling USF fans and recruits the moment he opened his mouth on Saturday afternoon.

"If you want to be a part of something special, come to USF," said Taggart. "If you're a football player from the 813, the 941, the 863, call me, e-mail me, tweet me, whatever."

Taggart knows the job that lays ahead of him. He must convince recruits to spurn in-state behemoths Florida, Florida State and Miami to come to USF to play in a Big East Conference that isn't what it used to be.  

Taggart's plan, at least as it unfolded at the press conference, was threefold. His salespitch was three-pronged: himself, his system and USF. 

"I've won all my life," said Taggart. "I won in high school, I won in college, I've won all my life. I'm a winner. Winning comes in doing all the little things right. I do believe winning isn't complicated, people make it complicated."

Coached by Jack Harbaugh and his sons John and Jim, Taggart is a firm disciple of the Harbaugh System. Under his direction, Western Kentucky boasted the Sun Belt's leading rusher in each of his three seasons at the helm, and tight end Jack Doyle was the Hilltoppers' leading receiver this fall.

"It's going to be what you see out of Stanford, out of San Francisco," Taggart said of what to expect of his team. "The exact same thing. We're going to run the football and throw the football. I'm excited to have guys that can stretch the field, and we've got to find the right guy at quarterback. Rarely will he come to the line with only one play, so he's got to be not only a great athlete but a smart kid."

The Big East may be under seemingly constant transition, but Taggart thinks the possibilities are limitless at USF. "I always said I wouldn't leave WKU unless I had a chance to win the national championship and I truly believe we can do that here," he said.

Taggart, a high school legend from Tampa, relishes his opportunity to come home. "I get to see my mom, my dad and my family. I left here in 1994 and I got to see my mom and dad about twcie a year. Now I get to see them whenever I want," said Taggart. 

As reported by Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Taggart's contract runs for five years and will pay him a sum of $5.75 million. His pool for assistants is $1.9 million per year. 

South Florida athletic director Doug Woolard touted a wide pool of candidates inclduing college head coaches and assitant coaches on the NFL and college levels. Woolard enlisted the help of Tony Dungy in choosing the Bulls' next head coach. So what sold them on Taggart?

"Coach Taggart is young, he's dynamic, he's innovative and he's successful," Woolard said. 

We're not going to bow down to anyone," Taggart added. "We're not going to make any excuses. We're going to work."

"Now all we have to do is put everybody on the bus, put them in the right seat and let Coach T drive this bus."  

Stay tuned to The Scoop and we'll keep you posted as Taggart fills out his staff. 

The Scoop on Tommy Tuberville to Cincinnati

We have learned that Tommy Tuberville has resigned from his post at Texas Tech to accept the head coaching job at Cincinnati. 

Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock has been close with Tuberville since Babcock served as an assistant athletic director at Auburn while Tuberville was the Tigers' head coach. Babcock moved decisively and in the best interests of his University and has landed a top-tier coach. 

Tuberville brings a career 130-77 record in 17 years as a head coach at Ole Miss, Auburn and Texas Tech. Sources indicated to us that snagging Tuberville could be a key move in Cincinnati's push to join the ACC. 

Sources have also indicated to us that former Louisville, Atlanta Falcons and Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino could join Tuberville's staff as the offensive coordinator if he does not obtain a head coaching job. 

We will update with more details as they become available. 

The Scoop on Sean Kugler to UTEP

Friday night we learned that Sean Kugler will be the next head coach at UTEP.

Kugler, 46, is a native of Lockport, N.Y., but played at UTEP from 1984-88. An offensive lineman, he played for position coach Andy Reid with the Miners. After one year in professional football, Kugler started his coaching career in the Florida high school ranks in 1990. In 1993, he returned to El Paso as a graduate assistant and moved on to coach tight ends and the offensive line. He jumped to the a tight ends coaching position with the Detroit Lions from 2001-03 and as the offensive line coach from 2004-05.

He then stopped for one year at Boise State, helping the Broncos to an undefeated season and memorable win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in 2006. He moved back into the NFL as the offensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills (2007-09) and then the Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-12). 

Kugler's tutelage has helped Ryan Clady, Jason Peters and Maurkice Pouncey reach the Pro Bowl in three of his stops. His offensive line produced a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his three seasons in Buffalo, and the Pittsburgh offensive line outrushed its counterpart in 17-of-19 games in the Steelers' race to Super Bowl XLV. His offensive line in Buffalo set a franchise record with just 26 sacks allowed in 2007. 

Kugler takes over for Mike Price, who retired as the Miners head coach after nine seasons with a 48-61 record. Under Price, UTEP achieved back-to-back eight-win seasons in 2004-05 but did not enjoy a winning season since that span. The Miners went 3-9 in 2012, with their three wins coming over teams with a combined 3-33 record. They ranked 68th or lower in every major offensive and defensive category tracked by the NCAA. 

Saturday TV - Army vs. Navy is finally here

The official end of the major college football season comes at the conclusion of today's historic Army and Navy game. There's also a handful of FCS games on to enjoy as well.

Eastern time listed.


No games


Georgia Southern at Old Dominion - 12 - ESPN

Arkansas Pine Bluff vs. Jackson State - 1 - ESPNU

Army vs. Navy - 3 - CBS

Wofford at North Dakota State - 3 - ESPN GamePlan

High School:

No games

The Scoop on Willie Taggart to South Florida

Multiple outlets have reported tonight that South Florida has hired Willie Taggart as its head football coach.

Taggart, 35, grew his coaching roots of the Harbaugh coaching family. Recruited by Jim Harbaugh to play for his father, Jack, Taggart was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Hilltoppers from 1995-98. Taggart stayed on after is playing career completed, coaching quarterbacks at WKU from 1999-02 and rose to offensive coordinator from 2002-06. 

Taggart left in 2007 to join Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford as the running backs coach, where he was named the FootballScoop Running Backs Coach of the Year in 2009 after coaching Toby Gerhart to an 1,871-yard season in which he came 29 votes shy of winning the Heisman Trophy. Taggart returned to Western Kentucky in 2010 to lead the Hilltoppers' voyage into FBS, taking the team from a 2-10 debut to consecutive 7-5 seasons in 2011-12. Taggart led Western Kentucky to the first bowl game in program history this fall, as the Hilltoppers will face Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26.

True to his Harbaugh roots, Taggart's WKU teams specialized in physical football with an emphasis on running the ball. WKU running back Bobby Rainey and Antonio Andrews have been the Sun Belt's leading rushers all three years of Taggart's tenure, averaging 134 yards or more in each season.

Taggart takes over a team that won just one Big East game in each of the past two seasons, and finished the 2012 season dropping nine of its last 10 games. In an interesting note from Bowling Green Daily News beat writer Chad Bishop, Taggart's contract with Western Kentucky dictates that South Florida now must schedule a home-and-home series with the Hilltoppers. 

Butch Jones introduced as Tennessee head coach

Butch Jones hit all the tried and true press conference cliches on Friday afternoon in Knoxville, saying that Tennessee is his dream job and the best college football program in America, and that his team will have attack in all three phases. 

But it was when Butch Jones went off the traditional script that his introductory press conference as Tennessee's newest head coach got truly interesting. 

Jones officially accepted the Vols' head coaching job this morning, and informed his outgoing team shortly thereafter. "When I told them I had accepted the position at Tennessee, they all started clapping and applauding," he said. This is a stark contrast to the taste his predecessor, Brian Kelly, reportedly left in the mouths of Bearcats players. 

Jones was hotly pursued by Colorado for its vacancy, going as far to have Denver Broncos head coach John Fox and quarterback Peyton Manning urge Jones to ink with the Buffs. "Four days ago got a text from Peyton Manning on Colorado," Jones said. "He said, 'It's hard to sell a Tennessee guy on the University of Colorado'. I said, 'Come on, I want to go to Tennessee!'"

It was well known that Tennessee offered the job to two other coaches before they offered it to Jones. When asked if that bothered him, Jones retorted, "Absolutely not. I think I was my wife's third choice and it's worked out for 20 years."

Jones and his staff will have to put their hard hats on, as a true reconstruction project awaits them at Tennessee. The Vols are in the midst of a 14-year SEC title drought and haven't posted a winning SEC record since 2007. Jones looks backward when to create a building block of his program. "Letter-winners have an open-door policy at any of our practices," he said. "They are welcome back at any time."

If he can get junior quarterback Tyler Bray and junior pass catchers Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson to return to school, Jones will have playmakers to work with. Even still, Jones urged players and fans alike to trust in a system that has brought him four conference championship and 50 wins in six seasons as a head coach. "The plan is invaluable if the players buy into it," he said. 

On the field, Jones illustrated that he wants his team to play with discipline, to take care of the ball on offense and take it away on defense. Jones' shied away from saying his offense will be a spread, intimating that it implied finesse, but did say his defense will play with a four-man front. Which is much to the delight of junior defensive lineman Maurice Crouch. 

Jones didn't get into specifics about hiring his staff, only stating that it will be the "best staff in America." He was asked about Tee Martin, the quarterback who led the Vols to the 1998 national championship and currently serves as the wide receivers coach at USC, saying "He's an individual that I plan to reach out to, but I plan to reach out to a lot of individuals."

What did Mr. Crouch have to say about Martin, you ask?

 Well, then. 

The press conference ended with Tennessee athletic director taking the mic and jokingly point out to Jones that the Vols' 2013 schedule includes road trips to Oregon, Alabama and Florida. The moment brought laughter to the room, but shed light on what a big excavation effort awaits Jones and his staff in Knoxville.