Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Coaches’ comings, goings and homecomings

New South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp poses with his family at Williams Brice Stadium.
New South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp poses with his family at Williams Brice Stadium. The Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Tuesday:

For Dan McHale, coaching in Rupp Arena is a homecoming, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “McHale still laughs about the night then-Kentucky assistant Mike Sutton asked him to move from the end of the Cats bench where the managers normally sit to the front end with the coaches. The reason was because McHale was keeping a defensive chart with information Sutton wanted the coaches to have constant access to. Problem was, nobody told Tubby Smith about the move. As soon as the game started, McHale found himself on the receiving end of the Tubby ‘death stare.’”

Tennessee assistant Mark Elder reportedly hired by Eastern Kentucky, reports WTVQ. “Sources confirmed late Monday night that EKU football has tabbed Mark Elder to lead the program moving forward. Elder was most recently at Tennessee under Butch Jones as the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.”

Landon Young moves up in rankings, reports Ben Roberts of Herald-Leader. “Lafayette offensive lineman Landon Young is the No. 54 overall prospect in the class of 2016, according to, which released its postseason top-100 rankings on Monday morning.”

Art Still to be inducted into NFF Hall of Fame on Tuesday, reports Herald-Leader. “Former University of Kentucky star defensive end Art Still will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in New York City. There will be a news conference at 9 a.m., and the awards dinner will be at 8 p.m. Both will be televised online at ESPN3.”

John L. Smith becomes head coach at Kentucky State, reports Mark Story of the H-L. “Inheriting a 1-10 team after Ron Cooper was fired, Smith led the Cardinals to five-straight bowl games and a 41-21 overall record. His best year was 2001, when he coached U of L to an 11-2 season that ended with a 28-10 victory over Brigham Young in the Liberty Bowl.”

Jay Bilas says UK basketball is in for some hiccups, reports the Courier-Journal. Kentucky returns to action on Wednesday night when the now fifth-ranked Cats welcome Eastern Kentucky to Rupp Arena.

AP college basketball poll week-by-week in a spreadsheet

UK drops to No. 8 in Gary Parrish's rankings

Hobbled John Wall leads Wizards past Heat, reports Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. “Already down to 10 players their previous two games, the Wizards didn’t know whether John Wall, who hobbled off the Verizon Center floor with a right knee injury less than 24 hours earlier, was going to be in uniform to guide them Monday night. Wall arrived in South Florida unsure about his status. He underwent treatment around the clock on the bruised knee, waking up early Monday morning to continue the nonstop treatment.”

Muschamp promises South Carolina will be fast and furious, reports Josh Kendall of The State. “The 44-year-old agreed to a five-year contract worth $16 million to become the school’s 34th head coach. He will be paid $3 million in the first year, and that figure will rise by $100,000 every year of the deal. Muschamp also could earn up to $1.075 million in incentives each year if he meets criteria such as winning the SEC or national championship and reaching certain academic standards.”

South Carolina stuck to its plan, reports David Caraviello of the Charleston Post and Courier. “It certainly had its ups and downs. One early target, Houston head coach Tom Herman, signed a new contract to remain at his current school. Another, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, was snapped up by Georgia to replace Mark Richt. USC’s search took place in a hiring market flooded with options, with at least 23 Football Bowl Subdivision programs making changes.”

Kirby Smart patiently waited for his great opportunity, reports Jason Butt of Macon Telegraph. “I waited on a great opportunity, which is here at the University of Georgia right now,” Smart said. “No better place in the country to be, one of the top programs in the country, top storied programs, very fertile recruiting ground, very supportive administration.”

Losing Smart will be felt down the road by Alabama, writes Alex Scarborough of “Maintaining a grip on metro Atlanta and surrounding areas won’t be easy for Alabama, which used Smart to recruit that territory. You look at the Tide’s two-deep depth chart and see plenty of Peach State products, whether it’s Adam Griffith, Kenyan Drake, Dillon Lee or Geno Matias-Smith. The commitment of 2017 prospects Netori Johnson (Ellenwood, Georgia) and Jake Fromm (Warner Robins, Georgia), are worth monitoring.”

The ACC is gaining on the SEC, writes Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun. “People think of me as an SEC snob, but I give credit where it is due. And it feels to me like the ACC just rose up a couple of notches when it comes to head coaches and the SEC dropped down a couple bringing them to pretty much even.”

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