Nice move by USF to hire Skip Holtz to replace Jim Leavitt. To compete for attention and dollars in a pro market like Tampa, they need someone who can win while also being media friendly. Holtz can do both. I have never encountered a less helpful sports information department than USF's was when I attempted to cover events there or arrange interviews. I don't know how much of that tone was set by Leavitt himself and how much was just their general mindset. If USF doesn't make every effort to put Holtz out there for the next year to heal any hurt feelings from the Leavitt dismissal, they're making a very poor decision. I'll be curious to see what Holtz does for a staff, but this should at minimum maintain current performance levels while keeping open the possibility of improvement.
Local television outlets in North Carlina report Tennessee has hired Duke's David Cutcliffe as its new coach! No wait, they haven't - at least not yet. Let me give you a little advice, which applies to this search as well as all other situations like this. Keep in mind that my wife works as a TV sportscaster as do a number of my friends. I'm not hating on the profession, but they're awful at this kind of story. News directors want to "break this", which far too often leads to reports based on dubious sources or no sources at all, just semi-informed guesses. After dealing with one bogus local TV coaching "scoop", I was able to find out the source of the information. It was a guy from the news director's husband's gym who said he had a friend on the Board of Trustees at the school who told him the supposed coaching move was going to happen. Unless you know from experience that the reporter whose name is on the story is trustworthy (like my wife), do not believe anything you hear on a coaching search from local TV. If it's a non sports reporter doing the story, you should actually assume the complete opposite of whatever they're saying is true.
Whether Cutcliffe takes the job or someone else does, National Signing Day is 19 days from now. None of the remaining candidates appear to have been recruiting the kind of players Tennessee needs to sign to be competitive in the SEC, meaning this will likely be a lost recruiting class. Couple that with the suspect class landed by Kiffin during the transition (some of whom are already gone) and you can see why the Wall Street Journal says "Kiffin's Abrupt Exit Signals Doom on Rocky Top" The numbers on the aftershocks from one and done coaches are pretty damning. If Cutcliffe really will only take the job if he can bring his full Duke staff, I suspect he'll still be in Durham this year. There are some good coaches on UT's list, but I don't know if they can get them to come at this time in the process.
We all know how highly Notre Dame thinks of itself. It just got rid of Charlie Weis as coach because Fighting Irish football is supposed to achieve at elite levels, not go to the Hawaii Bowl. That's why I was surprised to learn that according to their AD Jack Swarbrick, they're actually not that kind of program at all. He was asked about potentially scheduling an SEC team in this South Bend Tribune Q and A. Swarbrick wasn't a big fan of that idea...
“I'd like to do more with Duke and Wake and some of those schools. It's really more institutionally focused - what's a good fit for Notre Dame? What sort of looks and feels like us?”
Duke feels like Notre Dame in football? Look, I get that ND is a private university and has a smaller student body than state schools. They don't have the special BCS spot, TV deal or the shoe and apparel contract they do because they compare themselves to Wake Forest. You can't proclaim your greatness and insist you're a national program while also ducking the competition being on that level brings.
I'm looking forward to watching the NFL this weekend. I'm rooting for Saints and Cowboys in the NFC title game - hopefully Favre throws five picks against Dallas. The Colts and Chargers should advance as well. Have a good weekend, don't get arrested for tampering with grocery items as part of a deep "artistic" prank, and I'll see you back here Monday.