NCSU-Dykes marriage rumors heating up

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Thanks to a stellar, relatively speaking, three years at Louisiana Tech, Sonny Dykes has become one of the hottest commodities on the collegiate coaching market.  From Arkansas to Kentucky to several points in between, there’s a very good chance that, if there’s an opening, the son of Spike is being mentioned.

For all the talk, though, there’s been precious little meat attached when it comes to Dykes and a move to a “bigger” job.  Until now.

As first reported by the Monroe News-Star, Dykes will interview for the North Carolina State vacancy Wednesday morning.  Sunday, the Wolfpack announced that it had dismissed Tom O'Brien after six years at the school and following a 7-5 season that included a win over Florida State.

Tech officials have been silent on the News-Star’s report, with athletic director Bruce Van De Velde telling the paper prior to the NCSU interview development that “as far we know, no decision has been made yet.”

Whether that means no decision has been made on an actual move or merely an interview is unclear.

In his three seasons at LaTech, Dykes has compiled a 22-15 record.  Through five games in 2012, the then-unbeaten Bulldogs rose to No. 24 in the rankings before their loss to Texas A&M.  Tech rebounded from that loss to move back to No. 19 before a pair of losses in the last two games — in overtime to 10-win Utah State and by nine to 10-win San Jose State on the road — knocked the Bulldogs out of the rankings entirely.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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Matt Krohn/USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.