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Some of the biggest programs in college football have seen changes right at the top this year. The odds to win the 2011 BCS Championship have altered as well, as there have been hirings, firings, and replacements, along with some surprise changes that could shake the entire core of the NCAA football betting world. A number of schools have made changes at the top in what has been a very, very interesting offseason. Here is the list of the schools that are heading in new directions with their football programs and their 2011 BCS Championship odds.
Akron Zips (+700000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Akron has been a train wreck in the MAC for a number of years, and last season was no exception. The Zips went just 3-9 and just 2-6 in conference, and a 4-8 ATS record didn’t make many college football betting friends either. Now, there is a huge quarterback battle going on in Akron, as QBs Patrick Nicely and Matt Rodgers are both candidates for the job. Rodgers’ injury last year might’ve been the final straw to getting JD Brookhart fired. Rob Ianello, the new man in charge, has a long way to go to get this program back to the form that it was in back in 2005 when it won the MAC Championship.
Buffalo Bulls (+500000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Without a doubt, Turner Gill was the most beloved coach in the history of Buffalo Bulls football. He really helped put the program on the map, especially two seasons ago when the Bulls upset the previously unbeaten Ball State Falcons to win the MAC Championship Game when no one gave them even the remotest of chances. If the name Jeff Quinn sounds familiar to you, think back to both Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Both of those teams lost Brian Kelly right before their bowl games. Quinn was the man in charge of both a bowl win for the Chippewas over Middle Tennessee in 2005 and last season’s Bearcats loss to the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. Getting back to a bowl game would be a triumph for Buffalo, which fell a game short of eligibility last year.
Central Michigan Chippewas (+120000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): The Chippewas had a chance to really make some noise last year, the final season with QB Dan LeFevour. However, just as has been the case in quite a few instances when a legendary coach leaves a program, Butch Jones decided that LeFevour’s departure was the best time for him to try to move on to a big time coaching gig. Now, the Chippies are left with Dan Enos, the former running backs coach for the Michigan State Spartans. Enos has never been a head football coach at any level, clearly showing that CMU didn’t have a heck of a lot of options. No one wanted to be the man that followed Jones in Mount Pleasant, especially without LeFevour there to quell the pain of transition.
Cincinnati Bearcats (+15000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Shame on Brian Kelly for leaving the Bearcats right before their bowl game after a perfect regular season and a Big East championship! The team made the right call by going after Kelly’s successor at Central Michigan, Butch Jones as a replacement. We already know that Jones knows Kelly’s system after taking over for him without missing a beat at Central Michigan, and several teams were eager to grab his services. Jones made a good call as well, as he knows that QB Zach Collaros might actually be better than the departed Tony Pike. Collaros can win this team the Big East title this year, which might immediately put Jones in line for an even better position.
East Carolina Pirates (+160000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): ECU was on the verge of something special with Skip Holtz in charge, but when South Florida came calling for the second generation coach, he had to move on to the bigger named school. Ruffin McNeill has been an assistant at Texas Tech for a number of years. Many thought that he would be a logical successor to Mike Leach, especially after guiding the Red Raiders to a 41-31 Alamo Bowl win over Michigan State last year. Will the spread offense work at East Carolina, though? It is certainly a huge shift from the traditional, “take care of the football and play good defense” mentality that Holtz had. There could be a bit of a transition period for the Pirates, but ultimately, McNeill should make a good director of the ship there.
Florida State Seminoles (+7000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): For the past three seasons, Jimbo Fisher has just been waiting patiently for Bobby Bowden to retire so he could take over command at Florida State. Truth be told, the Noles have been under Fisher’s watchful eye ever since he stepped foot in Tallahassee, so this might not be a huge transition for the garnet and gold. Fisher has transformed this offense into a train wreck from the Drew Weatherford/Xavier Lee days into one that is genuinely feared with QB Christian Ponder at the helm. It’s going to be fun watching this team grow once again, especially with the QB of the future, EJ Manuel already waiting in the wings. A defense still needs to be picked back up to get Florida State back on the map. Fisher has huge shoes to fill from the second winningest coach in NCAA FBS history.
Kansas Jayhawks (+35000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Kansas had to think that last season was the year that it could really contend for a National Championship. However, Mark Mangino, who helped resurrect the program and turn it into a national contender in the first place, failed miserably, as he wasted the talents of seniors like Dezmon Briscoe, Kerry Meier, Todd Reesing, and Jake Sharp. Turner Gill was the hottest young coaching commodity on the planet, and KU was sure to snatch him up. He is already looked at as a hero in Lawrence, as very few of the players and even fewer of the alumni had any care for the way that Mangino treated his team at all.
Kentucky Wildcats (+50000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Rich Brooks deserves a lot of credit for keeping Kentucky football relevant for a number of years. Still, it was time for him to go, as it seemed as though the program hit a peak under his direction. Head coach in waiting Joker Phillips is set to unleash his offensive talents on the rest of the SEC in a move that is probably going to take a few years to get perfected. The Cats are always going to be a second rate team in the SEC, particularly in the East, where programs like Florida and Tennessee will always be the hottest recruiting beds. Phillips has his work cut out for him to make the Wildcats more than Music City Bowl honorary members on an annual basis.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (+150000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Here’s a team that wasn’t so certain that it was really changing coaches. La Tech was shocked when Derek Dooley left for Tennessee, and they had to scramble to try to replace him at the last second with most of the best coaching options already off the board. Little known Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes is the man that was suddenly put in charge on January 20th. He is bringing in a spread offense which will bring La Tech essentially into the 21st century of WAC football. This program has bigger problems, though… trying to figure out what conference it is going to be playing in once the WAC finishes falling apart.
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (+750000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Mired in the middle of a bad conference for a number of years, the Warhawks are just trying to figure out how to get to a bowl game and to challenge the top teams in the Sun Belt. Signing Todd Berry made a lot of sense though, as he is very familiar with the system at Louisiana-Monroe having served under previous head coach Charlie Weatherbie as an assistant for two years. He has bounced around as assistants in other locations since 2005, but he’ll return to the Bayou and try to get the Warhawks on the map for the first time in the history of the school.
Louisville Cardinals (+50000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Simply put, the firing of Steve Kragthorpe was an absolute must in Louisville. Kragthorpe single handedly destroyed the program that Bobby Petrino turned into a Top 10 program year in and year out in the Big East. Kragthorpe couldn’t find a way to win in the senior year of QB Brian Brohm, one of the most decorated players in the history of the school’s football team, and since then it has been all downhill. Charlie Strong comes in from Florida, where he will bring a spread offense that should at least spark a bit of promise for a program that has been dropped into the doldrums of the Big East for the past few years.
Marshall Thundering Herd (+140000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Mark Snyder was one of the many coaches that were essentially forced out of their positions. Snyder wasn’t even allowed to hang around for the team’s bowl game, a 21-17 win in the Little Caesar’s Bowl over Ohio. John “Doc” Holliday has been the associate head coach at West Virginia for a number of years, and many are surprised that it took this long for him to land a head coaching job. The cupboard certainly isn’t bare at Marshall, and many think that Holliday can be the man that can bring this program back to prominence in its new conference, C-USA.
Memphis Tigers (+350000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Simply put, Memphis is in terrible shape right now. The Tigers might not be favored in any game which they play this season, and if that’s the case, the prospects of a one or two win campaign is a real possibility. Former coach Tommy West blasted the program on the way out the door, which might cause us to never hear his name again. Larry Porter is going to be taking over, but even he knows that this is probably nothing more than a temporary stop before he gets fired as well. The Tigers are going nowhere fast, and unless the school pumps some more money into the facilities there, this program is closer to being gone than being relevant.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+11500 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Notre Dame football has been on a steep decline ever since Lou Holtz retired. Coaches like Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie helped wreck what was once one of the most proud programs in the history of college football. Charlie Weis didn’t help matters any either, though he at least took the team to a BCS game in his reign. Former Cincinnati HC Brian Kelly accepted the Irish position just days before his Bearcats tried to complete an undefeated season with a Sugar Bowl victory over the Florida Gators. Cincinnati’s players elected to play without their skipper, and the end result was a huge loss to mar an otherwise fantastic campaign. Kelly probably has three years to turn the Irish into winners.
San Jose State Spartans (+800000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): There aren’t many programs that have been as inept as San Jose State in recent years. The Spartans really were never in a position to let Tomey, a legendary coach in West Coast college football go. However, he announced his retirement, which is leading way to Mike MacIntyre to come across the country from Duke, where he was the team’s defensive coordinator. Working on the defense would be a good start for the Spartans, as they were one of the worst ‘D’s in the land last year… Of course, they had one of the worst offenses as well. A couple home wins would be a huge triumph this season.
South Florida Bulls (+50000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Jim Leavitt was the only head coach that the Bulls ever knew, even when they were just a tiny I-AA school just trying to make ends meet. However, amidst some off the field issues, the university decided to get rid of their head coach and sign Skip Holtz to replace him. The move made a lot of sense, as Holtz has been leading East Carolina up the ranks of Conference USA, the same conference that South Florida came out of from back in the day. With QB BJ Daniels and a host of returning starters, the Bulls might be the most BCS ready hire of the bunch, especially with a proven coach like Holtz on the sidelines.
Tennessee Volunteers (+50000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): The poor Volunteers finally looked to be heading in the right direction, as the family of Kiffins, Lane and Monte were finally starting to round this program into shape after several lousy years with Phil Fulmer in charge. Kiffin decided to bolt to USC when the opportunity arose this year in spite of the fact that the program could be in shambles. That left the men on Rocky Top scrambling. Though it wasn’t a sexy hire, Derek Dooley was about the only name that the Vols could come up with. No one is expecting this hire to work, and if someone better becomes available next year than a coach that was mediocre with a WAC school, expect Tennessee to jump on it.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (+17500 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): In one of the more bizarre stories in a very awkward offseason, Texas Tech fired Mike Leach following allegations surrounding one of his players. Leach is still sitting out this season to sure up some legal matters against the university, but hiring Tommy Tuberville was a huge coup for the program. The biggest question that is yet to be answered is whether Tuberville will let the Air Raid continue, or whether he will instead install a more run first offense which is similar to the ones used in the SEC where he came from at Auburn two years ago. Texas Tech was on the verge of being a real national power under Leach. Tuberville is expected to, at minimum, keep that up.
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (+300000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): One of the two FCS coaches that took the jump into the FBS this year was Montana’s Bobby Hauck. Hauck takes over for Mike Sanford, who went just 16-43 overall in five years with the Runnin’ Rebs. Not only did Hauck have a lot of success at the FCS level, but he also coached under one of the great FBS coaches of our time as well in Rick Neuheisel both at Washington and Colorado. The Rebels might have themselves a real winner coaching them up, but reaching a bowl game would be a huge accomplishment for a program that has been a wreck since turning over its coaching staff the last time.
USC Trojans (No Line to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Pete Carroll saw this one coming. He knew that USC was about to get hammered by the NCAA for recruiting violations which saw RB Reggie Bush lose his Heisman Trophy. Before the dust settled though, the university successfully conned Lane Kiffin into coming back to Southern Cal, the place which he became a highly coveted assistant coach just a few years ago. Kiffin is upset about the punishments, which make the Trojans ineligible for the National Championship or a bowl game for the next two years and costs the program a number of scholarships. Still, this is clearly a very, very talented team that could run the table… if it wanted to. It’s Kiffin’s job to make sure that his team is ready to play and isn’t worried about the fact that it won’t be in a bowl game this year.
Vanderbilt Commodores (+60000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Bobby Johnson actually had the Commodores ranked for the first time in their history just two years ago, but since that point, they have fallen upon relatively hard times. He elected to resign just a few months ago, which was a shocking move to the program which he helped assemble. Assistant head coach Robbie Caldwell was immediately named the interim coach of the team, and just a few weeks ago, he had that tag removed. Still, Vandy isn’t going to be competing in the SEC East any time soon, and six wins would be a massive, massive triumph any year.
Virginia Cavaliers (+60000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): Be careful what you wish for, Cavaliers fans. UVA at least had a lot of great recruits coming to Charlottesville under former head coach Al Groh, and for quite awhile, it was a relevant team in the ACC. However, the Cavvies got tired of Groh and got rid of him this year, bringing in Mike London, a former assistant and the previous head coach of the Richmond Spiders, making London the other FCS coach to leap up to an FBS program as a head coach. However, the cupboard is entirely dry for Virginia. This could be the worst BCS conference school in the land this year.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (+900000 to win 2011 BCS Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook): With the transition to the Sun Belt now fully complete, the Hilltoppers decided to go in another direction this season, firing David Elson after an 0-12 season in which the team really wasn’t competitive at all. Taggart is a WKU alumnus and has since been the running backs coach at Stanford. His key project? Toby Gerhart, who became one of the top running backs in the nation last year. The Hilltoppers hope that Taggart can bring just a shadow of respectability to this program over the next few seasons as they try to establish themselves as a legitimate member of the FBS.