By Ed Greif
The coaching carousel continues, as it is back to square one at Tennessee. Both Charles Strong (Louisville) and Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) declined Athletic Director Dave Hart's offer to be the next Vols head coach. Tennessee will be the last SEC school to hire a new head coach. I guess North Carolina coach Larry Fedora is still in the picture.
Will former UT coach Phillip Fulmer be convinced to return or will Athletic Director Dave Hart go in another direction? Could interim head coach Jim Chaney be named permanent coach? These questions and others will be answered soon.
In other coaching moves, Idaho hired Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, brother of fired Razorback coach Bobby Petrino, as its new head coach. Former Kentucky coach Joker Phillips was hired as receivers coach/recruiting coordinator at Florida.
Auburn has named Arkansas State's Gus Malzahn as its new head coach. He was Cam Newton's offensive coordinator the year the Tigers won the national title. Purdue hired Darrell Hazell of Kent State as the Boilermakers' new coach. Oddly enough, Arkansas State is playing Kent State in the GoDaddy.com bowl Jan. 6.
California has named Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes as head coach, replacing fired coach Jeff Tedford. Dykes replaced Derek Dooley, when Dooley was named head coach at Tennessee. Will Dooley return to Louisiana Tech to replace Dykes? Tedford could wind up on someone's short list as a head coaching candidate.
You will need a scorecard in 2013 to know who's on the sidelines.
Conference realignment keeps popping up, with the announcement MTSU is jumping from the SunBelt Conference to Conference USA in 2014.
When that happens, Conference USA will have 14 teams in 10 states, including Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, North Texas, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, Rice, Tulsa, UAB, Texas-El Paso and Texas-San Antonio.
MTSU will be most likely in the eastern division with Charlotte, FAU, FIU, Marshall, Old Dominion and UAB, with the other seven teams in the west. Tulane and East Carolina are leaving Conference USA for the Big East, while Maryland and Rutgers are moving into the Big 10. Louisville is leaving for the ACC.
Where is it going to end? When it does end, there will be a number of super conferences, with a rippling effect into basketball in a few years. Those super conferences will be dominating the 68-team NCAA hoop tournament.
Speaking of MTSU, they are challenging a $1 million buyout payment due to the Sunbelt Conference. Rutgers is also suing the Big East over that league's buyout.
Also, Chicago State will be joining the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in all sports, beginning with the 2013-'14 season.
Another ripple-down effect will be these super conferences not scheduling FCS teams for football, leaving those schools without a way of gaining revenue for the teams. When a team like Chattanooga, Tennessee Tech, etc., play teams like Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, etc., they receive money to travel to their cities for games. When the BCS goes to a playoff format in 2014, I foresee many of the BCS schools shoring up their schedules because of potential changes in the BCS format.
Thirty-five college bowls begin Dec. 15 and end with the BCS chamionship game Jan. 7. That's right, 35. This means there were 70 teams bowl eligible this season. Two more teams — MTSU (8-4) and Louisiana Tech (9-3) were snubbed. An MTSU-Louisiana Tech contest would have been better than some of the pairings announced Sunday.
MTSU, which announced it was moving to Conference USA, was beaten by Arkansas State in their season finale. Arkansas State is playing Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl Jan. 6.
One of the surprises of the bowl season was 12-1 Northern Illinois facing Florida State in the Orange Bowl, after finishing 15th in the final BCS poll Sunday night. The MAC champions finished ahead of some heavyweights, i.e., Nebraska, Clemson, UCLA and Michigan among others. FSU won the ACC title over Georgia Tech.
The SEC put eight other teams in the bowls. Vanderbilt makes its second trip to the Music City Bowl Dec. 31 against North Carolina State. LP Field will be sea of Black and Gold as the 'Dore fans will celebrate New Year's Eve early. In fact, Vandy has already sold its allotted tickets for the game and is asking for more.
LSU plays Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, while Mississippi State will battle Northwestern Jan. 1 in the Gator Bowl.
The Capital One Bowl in Orlando will feature the SEC runner-up Georgia vs. Nebraska, while Florida heads to the Sugar Bowl to face Louisville. Texas A&M faces former Big 12 foe Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, while Ole Miss battles Pittsburgh in the Compass Bowl in Birmingham. South Carolina faces Michigan in the Outback Bowl in Tampa.
The Fiesta Bowl has Kansas State against Oregon. This could have been for the national title, if both had not lost a couple of weeks ago. K'State's loss to Baylor and Oregon's loss to Stanford put Alabama back in the national title hunt. The Tide defeated Georgia in the SEC title game for a spot in the BCS title game Jan. 7.
Georgia Tech is the only team with a sub-.500 record (6-7) and faces USC in the Sun Bowl. There are several 7-5 and 6-6 teams in the bowls.
Does anyone have a picture of former Jet Paul Mills? According to Jet coach Will Foster, a photo is needed for the lobby of the gymnasium, so his picture can join all of the Jets and Lady Jets who scored 1,000 or more points in their careers. If you have one, leave it at the front desk of the school.
(Ed Greif is the Chronicle sports editor and his column appears periodically. He may reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)