Colorado starting QB Sam Noyer enters transfer portal

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

Colorado starting quarterback Sam Noyer has entered the transfer portal for a second time to close a career in Boulder that included three head coaches and a brief switch to safety.

Noyer led the Buffaloes to a 4-2 record last season under first-year Buffaloes coach Karl Dorrell and a berth in the Alamo Bowl.

Originally part of the 2016 recruiting class under then-coach Mike MacIntyre, Noyer redshirted and then was a backup quarterback for two seasons before switching to the defensive side in 2019 under coach Mel Tucker, who is now at Michigan State. All set to transfer after the ’19 season, Noyer was convinced to come back after Dorrell was brought on board. Noyer won the starting job out of camp and helped the Buffaloes to a 4-0 start, along with a spot in the polls. The Buffaloes lost to Utah in the regular-season finale and then Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

“Sam came back when he didn’t have to after graduating over a year ago and helped the program greatly get back on the right track,” Dorrell said. “As a veteran, he offered us some stability and depth at the position. We all wish him well and while we’re sad to see him leave, the parting is certainly amicable.”

Noyer finished the 2020 season with 1,101 yards passing, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 208 yards and five scores. Noyer underwent shoulder surgery after the bowl game.

“The season was everything I thought it would be and more,” said Noyer, who earned second-team All-Pac-12 Conference honors. “So now I’m looking forward to a new opportunity and a fresh start, a place where they need a veteran quarterback who has the added experience of playing on both sides of the ball.

“It’s not that I felt that I wasn’t needed at CU, I just want a new opportunity, hopefully in Division I and even in the Pac-12 if possible, knowing that I can compete at a high level in a Power Five conference,” he added. “But I am willing to go wherever I can play that will help make me better and give me an opportunity to fulfill my dream to play in the NFL.”

His departure leaves the Buffaloes with five quarterbacks on the roster, including three on scholarship. Brendon Lewis saw action in the bowl game, throwing for 95 yards. He also rushed for 73 yards and a score. There’s also J.T. Shrout, a transfer from Tennessee, and Drew Carter. Grant Ciccarone and Jordan Woolverton are walk-ons.

Lane Kiffin staying at Ole Miss with ‘a lot of work left to do’

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin says he has informed school officials he will be staying at Ole Miss, putting an end to speculation that he was the leading candidate to fill the head coaching vacancy at Auburn.

“Same as I said last week: I’m staying here and we have a lot of work left to do,” Kiffin told The Associated Press in a voice message.

Kiffin added he has not signed a contract extension with the school.

The 47-year-old Kiffin is 23-12 in three seasons as Rebels coach. No. 20 Mississippi finished its regular season 8-4, losing four of its last five, including a 24-22 loss to Mississippi State.

Auburn was playing at No. 8 Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and its coaching search figured to heat up soon after its season concluded.

Auburn fired coach Bryan Harsin earlier this month and has gone 2-1 since under interim coach Carnell Williams, the former star running back for the Tigers.

With Kiffin off the market, Auburn is eyeing a former Mississippi coach to be its next coach.

A person familiar with the search told the AP that Auburn is interested in Liberty coach Hugh Freeze. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Auburn was not making details of its search public.

Freeze coached at Ole Miss for five seasons before leaving in disgrace in 2017 after the school discovered he used a university cellphone to call an escort service.

He landed at Liberty and has gone 34-14 in four seasons with the Flames.

Nebraska signs Matt Rhule to 8-year deal

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

After six straight losing seasons and more than 20 years removed from its 1990s heyday, Nebraska is turning to Matt Rhule to rebuild its program and make it competitive in the Big Ten Conference.

Rhule signed an eight-year contract to be the Cornhuskers’ next coach and will be introduced at a news conference, the school announced.

The 47-year-old Rhule quickly turned around downtrodden programs at Temple and Baylor before leaving for the NFL to coach the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired him in October after he started his third season with four losses in five games.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Nebraska football program,” Rhule said in a statement. “When you think of great, tradition-rich programs in college football, Nebraska is right at the top of the list. The fan base is second to none, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to coach in Memorial Stadium on Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to become a part of the Husker Family, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Rhule was 11-27 with Carolina and left with about $40 million remaining on the seven-year, guaranteed $62 million contract he signed in 2020. The contract made Rhule the sixth-highest paid coach in the NFL when he signed in 2020, according to Forbes.

Nebraska said it would release details of Rhule’s contract.

“It is a privilege to welcome Coach Matt Rhule, his wife, Julie, and their family to Nebraska,” athletic director Trev Alberts said. “Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career, and he will provide great leadership for the young men in our football program.

“Matt is detail-oriented, his teams are disciplined and play a physical brand of football. Matt also has the personality and relationship-building skills to build a great staff and excel in recruiting.”

About an hour after Rhule’s hiring was announced, wide receiver Trey Palmer announced on Instagram that he would declare for the NFL draft. Palmer, who transferred from LSU after last season, had three 150-yard games this year and set the Huskers’ single-season record with 1,043 yards.

The Huskers are among eight Football Bowl Subdivision programs with at least 900 wins, and they have won or shared five national championships. The last one came in 1997 under Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne.

Five coaches have come and gone since then, most recently the quarterback of that ’97 team, Scott Frost.

Alberts fired Frost on Sept. 11 after the Huskers opened 1-2, with losses to Northwestern in Ireland and to Georgia Southern at home. They were 3-6 under interim coach Mickey Joseph and finished the season 4-8 following a 24-17 win at Iowa.

Nebraska was 16-31 in four-plus seasons under Frost, never finishing higher than fifth in the Big Ten West or going to a bowl.

In four seasons at Temple, Rhule coached the Owls to 28 wins. That included 26 from 2014-16. Temple was 10-4 in 2015 and reached the American Athletic Conference’s inaugural championship game. In 2016, Rhule led the Owls to a 10-3 record and an AAC championship. The conference title was the first in 49 seasons for the Temple program, and the Owls reached bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

Rhule was named Baylor’s coach in December 2016 in the wake of an investigation that found the private Baptist university had not responded adequately to allegations of sexual assault by players, resulting in the firing of Art Briles.

Rhule’s trajectory was similar at Baylor, where he went from 1-11 in 2017 to 7-6 with a bowl game the next season. In his third and final season, Baylor was ranked in the top 10, played in the Big 12 championship game and finished 11-3 after a Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia.

Rhule’s collegiate success provided him the opportunity to take over as the Carolina Panthers’ head coach in 2020. He guided the Panthers to five wins in each of his first two seasons before this year’s 1-4 start got him fired.

Rhule has ties to the Big Ten. He moved from New York City to State College, Pennsylvania, as a teenager. He played linebacker at Penn State from 1994-97 and began his coaching there as a volunteer assistant.