The Mountaineers pulled off what looks like a significant coup in replacing Dana Holgorsen. Lincoln Riley, too.
Upon the final whistle of Conference Championship week, the college football calendar moves into a quasi-offseason. With schools making coaching changes, players determining their professional statuses, and deciding on sitting out or playing in bowl games, news comes and goes rather quickly in the weeks leading up to and after bowl season.
As we’ve done all year, Burnt Orange Nation aims to Keep Up with the Conference throughout the off-season. Check in here for the latest updates on the coaching carousel, and any player updates that impact the Big 12 and the Texas Longhorns.
Oklahoma hires Alex Grinch away from Ohio State as new DC. Grinch’s stay in Columbus will end after roughly a year, as Lincoln Riley has reportedly tapped Grinch to become the next Sooners defensive coordinator, according to Bruce Feldman. A Broyles Award finalist in 2017 at Washington State, Grinch has experience as an Air Raid defensive coordinator.
West Virginia hires Neal Brown away from Troy. In four years with the Trojans, Brown produced three 10-win seasons after producing a quick turnaround, including remarkable upsets over LSU and Nebraska. SB Nation is calling it a slam-dunk hire and wondering why it’s taken so long for Brown to land a Power 5 job.
Dana Holgorsen leaves West Virginia after eight seasons. Houston mega booster Tilman Fertita had a plan all along — days after firing Major Applewhite following two seasons in charge, Fertitta was able to lure Dana Holgorsen away from West Virginia. The decision marks a major coup for the Cougars, as Holgorsen is one of the top offensive minds in college football.
IN — Chris Klieman (North Dakota State)
OUT — Bill Snyder (retired)
The hire of Klieman wasn’t received with a lot of positivity from Kansas State fans, but his success is undeniable — a 67-6 record in five seasons with the Bison, three FCS national championships, and a semifinal appearance in 2018.
IN — Matt Wells (Utah State)
OUT — Kliff Kingsbury (fired, now at USC as Offensive Coordinator)
Wells has basically brought his entire coaching staff from Utah State with him, raising questions about how well that group can recruit the state of Texas. However, Wells managed to land two commitments on Monday — three-star Houston Lamar cornerback Alex Hogan (who had de-committed from Tech just eight days earlier after originally committing to the Red Raiders in July) and three-star Odessa Permian offensive tackle and former Baylor commit Landon Peterson.
IN — Les Miles (LSU)
OUT — David Beaty (fired)
On Tuesday, Kansas hired former Texas Tech outside wide receivers coach Emmett Jones as the wide receivers coach in Lawrence. A former South Oak Cliff head coach, Jones has tremendous recruiting ties to the Metroplex and did a phenomenal job developing Antoine Wesley and TJ Vasher this season.
Players going pro
Junior RB Alex Barnes (12/14) — On Friday, the Big 12’s leader in rushing attempt and rushing yards announced his declaration for the 2019 NFL Draft:
At worst, Barnes was Kansas State’s third-best player behind senior offensive tackle Dalton Risner and senior cornerback Duke Shelley, so this is a significant loss for the Wildcats following a disappointing 5-7 season. The only two other running backs with carries this season were also seniors.
The Wildcats didn’t take a true running back in the 2018 class, but do currently hold commitments from a three-star South Carolina running back and electric in-state athlete Keenan Garber. With reported 4.44 speed, Garber has the look of an instant-impact player — and may have to be in running back room set to have limited depth.
Junior QB Kyler Murray (likely) — Superstar sports agent Scott Boras says that Murray’s contract with the Oakland Athletics includes a provision that allowed him to play college football this season before locking him into joining the organization after his junior season with the Sooners ends. However, Murray left open the possibility that he could play football at the next level before he won the Heisman last Saturday. Whatever he ends up deciding, it does appear that his college football career has two games remaining at most.
Junior WR Marquise Brown — Following a monster junior season that saw Brown produce more than 1,300 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, the big-play threat for the Sooners is off to the NFL. Lincoln Riley has some depth and incoming talent at that position, but probably won’t be able to replace Brown’s electricity next season.
Junior RB Rodney Anderson — The oft-injured running back suffered his third season-ending injury back in early September. And despite the significance of losing him, Oklahoma didn’t really miss a beat with Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks.
Junior RB Justice Hill — The Pokes will have to replace one of the conference’s top running backs. With the emergence of Canadian freshman Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State should be in good hands at the position moving forward.
Junior DE Jordan Brailford — After finishing second in the Big 12 Conference in sack with nine this season, Brailford opted to forego his final season eligibility, so Oklahoma State will lose one of the best edge rushers in the conference next season.
Junior WR Antoine Wesley — The Big 12 leader in total receptions and receiving yards is headed to the next level after a breakout junior season.
Players skipping their bowl game
Junior RB Rodney Anderson
Junior RB Justice Hill
Senior QB Will Grier — Grier won’t play in the Camping World Bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft, so head coach Dana Holgorsen will have a chance to get an extended look at redshirt sophomore Jack Allison, a former top-10 pro-style quarterback in the country.
Senior OT Yodney Cajuste — The Mountaineers will have to replace one of the Big 12’s best offensive linemen next season.
Junior QB Alex Delton — With the retirement of Bill Snyder, Delton’s staunch defender, the running quarterback is moving on, leaving Skyler Thompson as the prospective starter as Klieman takes over.
Sophomore QB Shawn Robinson — The former elite prospect is leaving the program after suffering a season-ending injury. Penn transfer Michael Collins will have two more years of eligibility while he competes with star 2018 signee Justin Rogers and 2019 commit Max Duggan.
Freshman RB Pooka Williams Jr. — In early December, the breakout freshman running back was arrested for suspicion of domestic battery, a charge that resulted in his indefinite suspension and could ultimately result in his dismissal.
Source: Burnt Orange Nation