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12/18 News: WMU makes Fleck youngest coach
The latest stories and information from around the college football world.
Western Michigan makes Fleck youngest head coach
Western Michigan has hired 32-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant P.J. Fleck, making him the youngest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The school confirmed the hire Monday and said it was would introduce Fleck at a news conference Tuesday in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Fleck has worked for Bucs coach Greg Schiano the past three years. Fleck was the receivers coach at Rutgers before following Schiano to Tampa Bay this season to do the same job.
Fleck played receiver for Northern Illinois from 1999-2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers before starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State under Jim Tressel in 2006. He spent three seasons as wide receivers coach at NIU before being hired by Schiano in 2010.
He surpasses Matt Campbell of Toledo as the youngest head coach in the FBS. Campbell turned 33 in November. Newly hired Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury also turned 33 this year. Fleck turned 32 in November.
WMU fired Bill Cubit with a year left on his contract the day after the Broncos lost their season finale to Eastern Michigan on Nov. 17. Western Michigan finished 4-8 and 2-6 in the Mid-American Conference, struggling to recover when senior quarterback Alex Carder injured his middle finger on his right hand during a win over Connecticut in September and missed six conference games.
Cubit was 51-47 overall and 36-27 in the MAC over eight seasons. He led the program to three bowl games.
Michigan to be without three players for Outback
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Michigan coach Brady Hoke has suspended cornerback J.T. Floyd, punter Will Hagerup and linebacker Brandin Hawthorne for a violation of team rules.
Hoke says in an announcement Sunday that the three players will not travel with the 19th-ranked Wolverines for the Outback Bowl against No. 11 South Carolina because each of them used poor judgment. He didn't specify which team rules were broken.
Floyd is a starting cornerback and Hagerup is the team's top punter. Hawthorne is a backup linebacker.
Hoke says it's an honor to play football for the University of Michigan and there are high standards and expectations for everyone that represents the program.
Rhule appears set to take Temple head coaching job
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Matt Rhule appears ready to become the next football coach at Temple.
The Owls made an offer to Rhule to become the Owls' head coach Friday, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
Rhule, New York's assistant offensive line coach, was set to coach the Giants on Sunday at Atlanta.
Rhule formerly spent six seasons as an Owls assistant and was considered the frontrunner from the start to take over for Steve Addazio, who left for Boston College last week. The school had no immediate comment. However, players took to Twitter late Saturday night to spread the word Rhule had accepted the offer.
``Matt Rhule the new head coach!!'' wrote Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich.
``Welcome back to Temple, HEAD Coach Rhule!!!'' tweeted kicker Tyler Mayes.
Temple went 4-7 this season after having three straight winning seasons and playing in two bowl games under Addazio and Al Golden.
Rhule has strong ties to Temple, a factor high on the university's wish list after Addazio bolted after only two seasons. Rhule spent six seasons on the Owls' coaching staff before joining Tom Coughlin's staff as the Giants' assistant offensive line coach. Rhule, who played four seasons at Penn State, was the assistant offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, as well as the recruiting coordinator, when he left for the Giants.
Under Rhule's lead, Temple's recruiting class ranked No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference from 2006-2008.
Once one of the worst programs in the nation, the Owls found their footing in the MAC, but struggled in a return to the Big East this season.
Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said this week about 75 people had expressed interest in the program's vacant football job. Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, a former Owl, confirmed he interviewed for the job.
Bradshaw said it was important to hire someone who ``embraces everything Temple.''
He found his man.
Stanford QB Nottingham to transfer
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Stanford football coach David Shaw has announced that junior quarterback Brett Nottingham plans to transfer.
Shaw said during practice Saturday that Nottingham would be leaving the eighth-ranked Cardinal (11-2), who won the Pac-12 title and will play Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Nottingham was a highly touted recruit who was the primary backup last season to Andrew Luck, this year's No. 1 pick in the NFL draft who is now playing for the Indianapolis Colts. Nottingham was beaten out for the starting job during preseason practice by Josh Nunes.
In two games this season, he completed 5 of 8 passes for 22 yards. He played in six games during 2011 and completed 5 of 8 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. He was among the top quarterback prospects in the nation out of Monte Vista High School in nearby Danville.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst downplays Wisconsin buzz
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh football coach Paul Chryst understands why his name popped up as a candidate for the open job at Wisconsin.
He's also through discussing the prospects of him returning to his hometown and alma mater to replace Bret Bielema, who bolted suddenly last week for Arkansas.
``I'm not going to talk too much about stuff that really,'' Chryst said Friday as the Panthers began preparations for next month's BBVA Compass Bowl against Ole Miss.
Chryst is from Madison, Wis., and both played and coached for the Badgers before taking over at Pitt last December. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who put in a few calls to help Chryst land his first head coaching job, said it wouldn't be right for Chryst to leave after just one year.
That's just fine with Chryst, who endured an up-and-down season this fall as Pitt went 6-6 and earned its third straight trip to Birmingham, Ala., for the Compass Bowl. Chryst called the job speculation ``a natural part of the profession'' but downplayed the notion there was ever any real chance he would force the Panthers to search for their fifth head coach in two years.
``I think there's a lot more buzz surrounding (the Wisconsin job) than there was (with) myself and with the guys that we know,'' he said.
Still, Alvarez appears to be in no rush to make a hire. He's already announced he'll coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl, buying him time to find the right candidate. On paper, Chryst would appear to be a natural fit.
Then again, so was Bielema, who was Alvarez's hand-picked successor. While the move to leave a program he led to three straight Rose Bowls stunned many - particularly Wisconsin alums - it didn't shock Chryst.
``I think that Bret's a smart guy and made an informed decision and I don't think stunned would be the right word,'' Chryst said. ``I think it's good for him. He's probably very happy and that's good. There are opportunities. There's a new challenge.''
And Chryst is content about the challenge that lies ahead at Pitt, which will move to the Atlantic Coast Conference next fall. The Panthers were an enigma this fall, beating Virginia Tech and Rutgers while nearly upsetting undefeated and top-ranked Notre Dame. Yet they also lost to Youngstown State and Connecticut and failed to build any real sense of momentum.
Still, the fact he is apparently out of the mix at Wisconsin drew a sigh of relief from a fan base and a roster that's going through a bit of coaching fatigue. Chryst received a standing ovation from the student section at a Pitt men's basketball game last week. He appreciated the gesture. He was just a little stunned by it.
``That was a little cheesy,'' Chryst said with a laugh before adding, ``I haven't earned it.''
Chryst isn't one to get comfortable in the spotlight anyway. He'd prefer to let that shine on his players, who remain the main reason he's sticking around.
``I feel fortunate to be here and I like what we're doing and I love doing it with the guys that we're doing it with,'' Chryst said. ``That's a pretty good feeling.''
That sense of loyalty is one of the reasons he's become so popular with his players. It's also why redshirt sophomore defensive end T.J. Clemmings - who is experimenting at offensive tackle heading into the bowl game - felt a little bit of angst when Wisconsin suddenly opened up.
``I was a little bit worried,'' Clemmings said. ``This is my third year. I can't do the whole coaching thing again. I think Coach Chryst will hang around.''
Clemmings just isn't certain. When asked if he's convinced Chryst will be on campus when spring drills begin, Clemmings just smiled.
``I hope so,'' Clemmings said. ``I don't know what the man is going to do. I can't say, but I hope he's around.''
Chryst would rather stop talking about a job he doesn't have and start talking about the one he does. Though this will be Pitt's third year spending New Year's Day in Alabama, he doesn't expect there to be a motivation issue considering the Panthers are playing a quickly improving team in Ole Miss (6-6).
Besides, if the Panthers are frustrated, they have no one to blame but themselves. A few more wins and their postseason prospects would have offered a different destination.
``This is where you should be,'' Chryst said. ``This is what we earned. I think we've earned the right to go to a bowl. This is where it's slotted and we've got a chance to play a really good opponent I believe.''