College football notebook: UC pries Tuberville from Texas Tech
Tommy Tuberville wasn’t expecting a call from an old acquaintance. A few hours later, he was headed north for a new job.
Tuberville left Texas Tech to become Cincinnati’s football coach yesterday, moving away from a Big 12 school to one that has an uncertain future with conference realignment. He left the Red Raiders after three years to coach at a school where his recent predecessors have lasted no longer.
“There’s always a next step,” Tuberville said. “I’m going to get the question: ‘Why did you come to Cincinnati?’ That’s exactly it.”
His quick hiring ended a whirlwind week in Cincinnati, which had won a share of its fourth Big East title in the past five years a week earlier. Coach Butch Jones interviewed at Purdue and Colorado before accepting the job at Tennessee on Friday morning.
Athletic director Whit Babcock had Tuberville — whom he worked with for three years at Auburn — at the top of his list of candidates. Working on two hours of sleep, Babcock called Tuberville on Saturday morning to see if he was interested.
“I was perfectly satisfied,” Tuberville said. “I had a great home in Lubbock, Texas. The people of west Texas are great people; they love football. Our football team played hard. … But there was something when Whit called that I thought, ‘You know? Let me think about this.’ ”
Both teams are headed to bowl games with their coaching staffs in flux.
The Bearcats (9-3) held their first practice yesterday for the Belk Bowl against Duke on Dec. 27. Tuberville won’t coach the Bearcats in their bowl.
Tuberville went 20-17 in three seasons at Texas Tech, after coaching at Mississippi and Auburn. The Red Raiders (7-5) will play Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 28. Tuberville likes a wide-open offense. The Red Raiders ranked second nationally with 361.9 passing yards a game this season.
Mount Union in Division III final for 8th straight year
Jake Simon scored on a 12-yard run with five seconds left as host Mount Union (14-0) rallied to defeat Mary Hardin-Baylor 48-35 to earn an eighth consecutive trip to the Division III championship game.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-1) tried to tie the score on the final play, but fumbled while trying numerous laterals. Mount Union’s Matt Fechko recovered a fumble and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to provide the final margin.
The Purple Raiders, who overcame five turnovers, will play St. Thomas (Minn.), which defeated Wisconsin-Oshkosh 28-14, on Friday in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va. Mount Union is seeking an 11th national title and first since 2008. Mount Union lost to Wisconsin-Whitewater in each of the last three years.
Taggart replaces Holtz at South Florida
Willie Taggart is taking over as South Florida’s coach after establishing himself as one of the nation’s top young prospects by turning around a losing program at Western Kentucky.
Taggart grew up in the Tampa Bay area before heading off to play and coach at Western Kentucky. He replaces Skip Holtz, who was fired after the worst season in USF’s 16-year history.
Taggart led Western Kentucky to a 7-5 record this season.
The Hilltoppers, who named defensive coordinator Lance Guidry interim coach yesterday, will make their first postseason appearance since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision when they face Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Bowl on Dec. 26.
A former assistant at Stanford to Jim Harbaugh, Taggart takes over a program that went 16-21 under Holtz. Western Kentucky had lost 20 consecutive games before Taggart returned to his alma mater three seasons ago.