Mike Tressel, Luke Fickell betting favorites to be next Michigan State head coach

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A little later than expected, there are finally some odds out on who will be the next Michigan State football head coach.

Tuesday afternoon, Mark Dantonio set the college football world ablaze by announcing that he is stepping down after 13 seasons as the Michigan State football head coach.  Iowa State’s Matt Campbell reportedly turned down overturesSo did Pitt’s Pat NarduzziEmphatically and awesomely.

After Dantonio’s announcement earlier this week, Michigan State football named Mike Tressel as its interim head coach.  Tressel, the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, has spent the past 13 seasons with the Spartans.  In 2018-19, Tressel was Dantonio’s defensive coordinator.

There have been rumors of late that Dantonio has wanted Tressel to be his replacement.  And timed his retirement with that in mind.  In that vein, one offshore sportsbook has installed Tressel as an 11/10 favorite to take over for his former boss.

At 2/1, Luke Fickell is right behind Tressel.  The Cincinnati head coach stated Wednesday that he has not spoken to anyone connected to the Michigan State football program.  It seems highly unlikely, given how late in the offseason process it is, that Fickell would leave the AAC school for a return to the Big Ten.

The only odds close to Fickell’s and Tressell’s are those given to Blake Anderson and Dave Clawson.  The head coaches from Arkansas State and Wake Forest, respectively, are both getting 10/1 odds.  As is Narduzzi.  Still.

Boise State’s Brian Harsin, Wyoming’s Craig Bohl and Buffalo’s Lance Leipold are among a group at 20/1.  So is Indiana’s Tom Allen.  As is Campbell.  Still.

I’m not a gambling man — and I’ll bet you that I’m not.  If I were, though, I’d put my money on Tressel being named as Dantonio’s replacement.  For the time being.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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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

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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.