▪ Rob Mullens is on the spot at Oregon. The former associate AD at Kentucky under Mitch Barnhart, now AD in Eugene, just fired Mark Helfrich, the first time the Ducks have pink-slipped their head football coach since 1976.
Mullens has to find a worthy successor to Helfrich, who won 33 games his first three seasons and had the Ducks in the national title game in 2014, yet bottomed out to 4-8 this season. Helfrich was the last of a line of in-house successors that went from Rich Brooks to Mike Bellotti to Chip Kelly.
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Candidates? Former Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost, now head coach at Central Florida, has been mentioned. So has Florida Coach Jim McElwain, North Carolina Coach Larry Fedora, Boise State Coach Bryan Harsin and Western Michigan Coach P.J. Fleck. And there’s Kelly, though most think the current San Francisco 49ers coach is not looking to return to college football.
▪ Yes, a Duke student was reportedly ejected from Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday night when he brought a sign that read “The water tastes better in North Carolina” to the game with Michigan State.
▪ No wonder Bobby Petrino stormed out of his press conference after Louisville lost to Kentucky last Saturday. Maybe Petrino didn’t want to explain why the Cards collapsed over the last half of the season.
It wasn’t just the 41-38 loss to Kentucky, a 27-point underdog. Louisville needed a last-minute touchdown to beat lowly Virginia. It struggled for three quarters before blowing out Wake Forest. It was a complete no-show in a 36-10 loss at Houston. Then came the blown 24-14 lead against its archrival.
▪ Louisville beat one team with a winning record — Florida State.
▪ Kentucky also beat one team with a winning record — Louisville.
▪ John Calipari has been talking up Valparaiso’s Alec Peters, and with good reason. Peters, a 6-foot-9 senior, is averaging 25.4 points and 9.1 rebounds for the 7-1 Crusaders, who upset No. 21 Rhode Island on Tuesday night. Valpo visits Rupp Arena next Wednesday.
▪ FYI: Southern Miss, which overcame a 25-point deficit to win at Kentucky in the football season opener, finished 6-6. Under new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, UK’s old offensive coordinator, the Golden Eagles were 26th nationally in total offense.
▪ The NFL denies it, but there is talk the league could kill Thursday Night Football. It could not happen soon enough for me.
▪ Nothing will illuminate the absurdity of conference expansions more than if Penn State beats Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game and gets left out of the College Football Playoff. The Nittany Lions won their division and beat Ohio State. Yes, they lost September games at Pittsburgh and at Michigan, but they have won eight games since.
A system that allows a team to play for the College Football Playoff title without winning its own conference is a flawed system.
▪ One coach who has done a terrific job this year that you don’t hear much about is South Florida’s Willie Taggart. The Bulls’ only losses were to Florida State and at Temple. USF has gone from 2-10 to 4-8 to 8-5 to 10-2 this season. That was after Taggart built Western Kentucky, going 7-5 each of his last two seasons at his alma mater.
▪ Pipe down, SEC basketball bashers. South Carolina (No. 20) and Florida (No. 24) are in the current AP Top 25.