T25 FOOTBALL-TEXAS-HERMAN FIRED
Texas fires football coach Tom Herman after 4 seasons
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas has fired football coach Tom Herman after four seasons of failing to win a Big 12 championship and only one league title game appearance.
Herman still had three seasons left on a guaranteed contract that was due to pay him more than $6 million per year, and the move means Texas will soon be on its fourth head coach since its last Big 12 title in 2009 under Mack Brown.
Herman was supposed to end that drought. He was college football’s hottest young coach when Texas brought him from Houston to replace Charlie Strong in 2016. But Herman’s results never matched his swagger: He never had a losing season and won four bowl games at Texas, including last week’s Alamo Bowl. But he couldn’t return the Longhorns to consistent league or national title contenders. He was just 1-4 against the archrival Oklahoma.
In a statement Saturday, the school said while the program has made “measured progress,” it is time to change. The decision came just a few weeks after athletic director Chris Del Conte said Herman would be the coach moving forward.
Herman’s best season was 2018, the only time the Longhorns made the Big 12 title game while he was there. They finished that season with a dominating win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl that prompted quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s now-infamous “We’re ba-aack!” statement to a national television audience.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-BOWL SCHEDULE
Four more bowl games on tap
UNDATED (AP) — There are four bowl games on the Saturday college football schedule.
Kentucky is going for its third consecutive bowl victory in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl against No. 24 North Carolina State. The Wildcats beat Penn State in the Citrus Bowl two years ago and topped Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl last year. North Carolina State, meanwhile, is trying to close the season with five consecutive victories for the first time since 1965. The Wolfpack are 2 1/2-point underdogs, a number that got the attention of players and coaches this week. They plan to use it as motivation.
Seventh-ranked Indiana’s stingy defense faces a stiff challenge when the Hoosiers take on Mississippi’s high-powered offense in the Outback Bowl. Indiana has allowed an average of just more than 19 points a game. The Rebels are led by quarterback Matt Corral and average nearly 41 points a game. Mississippi will likely need a big day offensively because its porous defense is giving up nearly 536 yards a game, the worst in the nation.
Iowa State is playing in its first New Year’s Six bowl after setting a school record with eight conference wins. The Cyclones are making their fourth straight bowl appearance under coach Matt Campbell. Oregon is no stranger to playing January bowl games, making its seventh appearance the past 12 years. The Ducks won their second straight Pac-12 championship to earn a trip to the desert.
The chess match between coaches — North Carolina’s Mack Brown and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher — will be one to watch when their teams meet Saturday night in the Orange Bowl. They’re two of the six active coaches with national championships and the only ones to go head-to-head so far in bowl season.
When this matchup was put together, it looked like the quintessential collision of strength vs. strength: North Carolina, featuring two of the top running backs in the country, against a Texas A&M rush defense that is among the nation’s best. But neither of those running backs — Michael Carter and Javonte Williams — will be playing in the Orange Bowl. They opted out, as did wide receiver Dyami Brown and linebacker Chazz Surratt.
A second Browns coach tests positive
UNDATED (AP) — The Cleveland Browns have had a second coach test positive for COVID-19 ahead of their big game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland has again closed its headquarters to conduct contact tracing, which has been the norm all week. The team has now had seven players and two coaches test positive in the past week.
Wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea previously tested positive and will be replaced by team chief of staff Callie Brownson. The team hasn’t identified the second coach, who will miss Sunday’s game. Top cornerback Denzel Ward, linebackers B.J. Goodson and Malcolm Smith, safety Andrew Sendejo and tight end Harrison Bryant will also miss the game after testing positive.
Coach Kevin Stefanski had planned a walk-through Saturday, but that has been delayed.
The Browns can clinch their first playoff berth since 2002 with a win over the Steelers.
In other NFL news:
— The New Orleans Saints have placed running back Alvin Kamara on their COVID-19 reserve list. The move means the Saints’ leader this season in yards rushing and receiving is unavailable for Sunday’s regular-season finale at Carolina. He also could miss the Saints’ first playoff game if New Orleans is unable to capture the NFC’s top seed. Kamara has 932 yards and 16 TDs rushing to go with 756 yards and five TDs receiving this season. His touchdowns rushing and 21 total touchdowns from scrimmage are Saints single-season records. He tied an NFL record with six TDs last weekend.
— The Los Angeles Chargers will be without six starters, including both of their Pro Bowl selections for Sunday’s season finale at Kansas City. Wide receiver Keenan Allen has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Defensive end Joey Bosa is out for the second straight week due to a concussion and shin injury. Tight end Hunter Henry will miss his second straight game as he remains on the COVID-19 list. Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. and safety Rayshawn Jenkins have also been ruled out along with reserve linebacker Malik Jefferson.
— Green Bay Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari will miss the rest of the season after the three-time Pro Bowl selection injured his knee in practice Thursday. Packers coach Matt LaFleur confirmed the severity of the injury Friday. The injury comes six weeks after the standout left tackle agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth up to $105.5 million with a $30 million signing bonus.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE BASKETBALL
More postponements due to COVID-19
UNDATED (AP) — Hours after No. 20 Duke said basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (shuh-SHEF’-skee) would sit out Saturday against No. 18 Florida State after coming into close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, the game was postponed because of coronavirus issues at Florida State.
Krzyzewski did not travel with the team to Tallahassee. Duke said the COVID-19-positive person who came into contact with Coach K was not in the Blue Devils’ travel party.
The Atlantic Coast Conference said the postponement followed a positive test, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Florida State program.
In other virus-related developments:
— Saturday’s scheduled men’s basketball game between No. 23 Virginia and No. 24 Virginia Tech has been postponed because a Virginia staffer has tested positive for COVID-19. The Atlantic Coast Conference said the positive test led to quarantining and contact tracing within the Virginia program. This is the second time COVID-19 has led to a disruption in Virginia’s schedule. The most recent national champions halted activities for 10 days last month, leading to three games being postponed and one being canceled.
— Virginia Commonwealth postponed its men’s basketball game Saturday against Davidson because of COVID-19 protocols. The school said it is pausing all team activities, which will resume once all personnel clear coronavirus protocols. No decisions have been made on further Rams games. The school says it is following guidelines from the Atlantic 10 Conference, the university and Virginia Department of Health to protect the safety of players, coaches, staff and the VCU community.