Who’s your GoDaddy? Toledo beats Arkansas State in a shootout


Whether you love or hate the bowl season, the GoDaddy Bowl is everything you need to justify your position. As Sunday night bled into Monday morning, an 8-4 MAC team from northeast Ohio played a 7-5 Sun Belt team from Arkansas before a crowd of hundreds in Mobile, Ala., in a game that exists for no other reason than to fill ESPN air time and sell domain names.

The more off-brand the bowl game, the more the football gods tend to look the other way, and Sunday night’s barnburner had plenty of that in a 63-44 Toledo win.

First, Toledo opened up a 35-17 halftime lead thanks to two defensive touchdowns – both fumbles by Arkansas State quarterback Fredi Knighten that happened to be returned for touchdowns. The first came on the very first snap from scrimmage, as a three-yard run turned into a fumble and an all-out scramble with Rocket defender Trent Voss eventually falling on the ball in the end zone (and, remember, the play started at the 25).

Then, with Arkansas State hoping to pull within 28-24 before the break, this happened.

Allen Covington‘s 67-yard snag-and-score gave Toledo a 35-17 halftime lead, and the Red Wolves never climbed within single digits after that. Kareem Hunt‘s fourth touchdown with 8:15 to go in the third quarter put Toledo up 42-17, but Arkansas State clawed back to 42-31 after Knighten fired a 55-yard touchdown pass to Booker Mays (after throwing scoring strikes of 66 and 44 yards in the first half), and Money Hunter‘s 94-yard interception return with 2:06 remaining in the frame.

The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with Toledo’s Damion Jones-Moore adding the capper on a 29-yard run with 1:02 to go.

Every bonkers bowl game has to include an outstanding individual performance, and Toledo running back Hunt’s night checked that box. He set GoDaddy Bowl records with 32 carries for 271 yards and five touchdowns, including scoring dashes of 44 and 29 yards. Hunt would’ve had another if not for cramps allowing backup Jones-Moore vulture a 10-yard touchdown, which pushed the lead to 56-38 with 6:33 to play.

Outside of his two catastrophic fumbles, Knighten was pretty darn good for the Red Wolves. He completed 23-of-31 passes for 403 yards with five touchdowns (only one shorter than 27 yards) and no interceptions, good for a quarterback rating of 236.6.

There was also the requisite element of knucklehead-edness. 

And, of course, an empty stadium pic.

In the end, the final non-championship bowl game of the 2014-15 season was a fitting tribute to the 37 that came before it.

Toledo finished the year at 9-4, tying the high-water mark under fourth-year head coach Matt Campbell, while Arkansas State dropped to 7-6 in head coach Blake Anderson‘s debut campaign. The best news for Arkansas State, however, is that for the first time since 2010, the Red Wolves will have a head coach return for a second season after Steve Roberts‘ firing to conclude the ’10 season, and then one-year stays by Hugh Freeze (2011), Gus Malzahn (2012) and Bryan Harsin (2013).

Wisconsin fires Paul Chryst; names DC Leonhard interim coach

wisconsin football
John Fisher/Getty Images

Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chryst on Sunday after a 2-3 start to his eighth season leading the school where he played, in the city where he grew up.

The surprising move comes a day after Wisconsin lost at home 34-10 to Illinois and former Badgers coach Bret Bielema.

Chryst is 67-26 since taking over as coach of the Badgers in 2015 after being hired away from Pittsburgh.

But the program has been backsliding. Chryst had double-digit win seasons in four of his first five years at Wisconsin and had gone 15-10 since.

Chryst, the 56-year-old Madison native, has four years left on his contract. He was set to make $5.25 million this season.

Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, another former Badgers player, was named interim coach. The 39-year-old former NFL defensive back has been part of Chryst’s staff for seven seasons and is considered one of the top assistant coaches in the country.

The in-season coaching move was the fifth already this season, and second of the day. Earlier Sunday, Colorado dismissed Karl Dorrell.

But none of the changes have been as unexpected as Wisconsin’s.

The program has been built on stability for more than three decades since Barry Alvarez turned it around in the 1990s.

Chryst, who played quarterback for the Badgers in the late 1980s, was an assistant and offensive coordinator under Alvarez and Bielema.

The Badgers’ offense, built on a powerful running game and efficient passing, has often looked stale over the last three years and struggled against better competition. Wisconsin managed only 2 yards rushing against Illinois, the program’s lowest total since 2015.

After losing to Illinois at Camp Randall Stadium for the first time in 20 years, Chryst said he was undeterred and looked forward to getting a chance to fix the problems.

“Do you want to be better? Absolutely. And you just want to focus on the things that you can do to help move the needle, help our players and assistant coaches,” he said. “So I didn’t think it’s going to be easy, and yet I believe in this group and I like this group. I appreciate where they’re coming from and how they go about it. I look forward to each day I get to be with them.

“We get to be together again, and we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and continue to go to work.”

Dorrell out as coach at Colorado after 0-5 start to season

TCU v Colorado
Getty Images

BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado fired football coach Karl Dorrell after an 0-5 start in which the Buffaloes have been blown out by more than 20 points in each game.

The school announced the decision Sunday, a day after a 43-20 loss at Arizona. It’s only the fourth 0-5 start in the history of Colorado (1980, 1984 and 2006).

Dorrell, 58, was brought in as a replacement when Mel Tucker bolted for Michigan State out of the blue in February 2020.

The hiring of Dorrell was met with surprise because he had been out of college coaching for a while. He was an assistant with the Miami Dolphins at the time, but had been UCLA’s head coach from 2003-07.

Dorrell, who had built a house in the Boulder area, agreed to a five-year, $18 million contract that ran through 2024. The buyout is approximately $8.7 million, but could be reduced pending his next job. His termination was first reported by ESPN.

Colorado waited to announce the news until after Dorrell had a chance to inform his staff and players in a meeting. Defensive coordinator Chris Wilson was also let go.

Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford will serve as interim coach. Defensive line coach Gerald Chatman will serve as the team’s defensive coordinator, while passing game coordinator/tight ends coach Clay Patterson takes over as offensive coordinator.

The Buffaloes are idle this week before hosting California.

Dorrell didn’t have much of an offseason program due to coronavirus restrictions his inaugural season, but led the Buffaloes to a 4-2 mark – they started 4-0 – and an appearance in the Alamo Bowl. Dorrell was named Pac-12 coach of the year.

It was downhill from there. Colorado went 4-8 last season and saw several key starters leave through the transfer portal. This season, Colorado has rotated through three quarterbacks in trying to ignite an offense that ranks near the bottom of the FBS ranks. The Buffaloes and rival Colorado State, who have a new coach in Jay Norvell, are the only two teams left in the FBS without a win.

“The results on the field just did not measure up to our expectations and standards, which made it necessary for us to make this change at this time,” Colorado director of athletics Rick George said in a statement. “It was an extremely difficult decision and I wish Karl all of the best in his future endeavors.”

This is what it’s come to in Boulder: George issued a statement last month to pacify fans after a 49-7 loss at Minnesota. He said he recognized and understood the disappointment as the team has not “come close to meeting our expectations.” He urged the fans to stick with the program and support the team.

The loss to Arizona became the final blow for Dorrell, whose team has been outscored by a 216-67 margin. The Wildcats were a team predicted to finish 11th in the Pac-12 preseason media poll, with Colorado last. The Buffaloes’ defense surrendered 673 total yards Saturday – the most since allowing 616 to Arizona in 2015.

Dorrell weathered some rocky moments over his time in Boulder. A year ago, he apologized after losing his cool and pushing a photojournalist’s camera on his way off the field following a 37-14 loss to Southern California.

He also came under fire last season for skipping his customary postgame radio show after a 30-0 loss to the Gophers. In addition, Dorrell drew scrutiny when players weren’t made available after a 55-23 loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Buffaloes have turned to coaches such as Jon Embree, Mike MacIntyre, Tucker and Dorrell to try to turn the Buffaloes around. MacIntyre led the Buffaloes to the conference championship game in 2016, but it was his only winning season out of six.

Tucker seemed to have the Buffaloes on the right path, bringing in several top prospects, before leaving for Michigan State after on season. That opened the door for Dorrell, who served as a receivers coach and later as offensive coordinator for Colorado in the 1990s.

A national search for a coach is expected to start soon.

“I fully support Rick in making this difficult decision to dismiss Coach Dorrell,” Chancellor Philip DiStefano said. “The football team is an important part of the university and I know our students, alumni, and fans have high expectations for a winning product on the field.”