No. 15 Miami pulls away in 2nd half, tops Southern Miss 30-7

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Some in-game adversity hit Miami for the first time this season. The Hurricanes responded.

A pair of third-quarter touchdowns – barely 2 minutes apart – changed the game, Henry Parrish rushed for 102 yards and a score, and No. 15 Miami pulled away in the second half to beat Southern Miss 30-7 on Saturday.

The Hurricanes (2-0) trailed for most of the second quarter, then shook off the slow start by scoring the game’s final 27 points.

“I think it’s a good thing, actually,” said Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who completed 19 of 29 passes for 230 yards, a touchdown and an interception. “Obviously, we want to move the ball with ease … but I think adversity, we needed that for the rest of the season, just to experience that a little.”

Thaddius Franklin Jr. rushed in from 7 yards out for a 17-7 third-quarter lead, Van Dyke connected with Key’Shawn Smith for a 35-yard flea-flicker touchdown on Miami’s next offensive snap, and the outcome wasn’t in doubt again.

“Certainly, when you’re 1-0 for the week, that’s your goal,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said. “But certainly, we want to play more polished, more precise, football. So, we’ve got to practice better, we’ve got to keep coaching better and we’ve got to keep working it better. We’ve got to go get better.”

Parrish had a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first half for the Hurricanes, who have started with two wins for only the seventh time in the past 18 seasons.

Jason Brownlee caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilcke for Southern Miss (0-2). That capped a six-play, 75-yard drive for the Golden Eagles — but they managed only 122 yards on their next seven drives, five of which ended in punts, one with an interception in the end zone and the other with a fumble.

“We came out here to win the game,” Southern Miss coach Will Hall said. “Credit to Mario and his guys. Man, I’ve got great respect for him and a lot of the guys on their staff for making the adjustments to win the game. I thought they wore on us as the game went on.”

Frank Gore Jr., the son of Miami Hall of Famer Frank Gore, was held largely in check by the Hurricanes’ defense in his return to his hometown. Gore Jr. had seven carries for 10 yards, and two catches for 18 more yards. That’s after he rushed for 178 yards last week in Southern Miss’ opening-game loss to Liberty.

Wilcke completed 16 of 27 passes for 207 yards for the Golden Eagles. Brownlee had five of those catches for 102 yards.

Andy Borregales kicked three field goals for Miami.

THE TAKEAWAY

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles were 20 seconds away from doing something that the program hasn’t done in nearly 12 years. The last time Southern Miss led an AP-ranked team on the road at halftime was Nov. 13, 2010 in what became a win over then-No. 25 UCF. That week marked UCF’s first-ever appearance in the AP poll; Miami was ranked this week for the 511th time.

Miami: There will be much on the film, especially the first-half film, for the Hurricanes to correct before going to Texas A&M next week. The offensive line will be a key point of emphasis, after it let Southern Miss sack Van Dyke four times and get in his face on several other occasions.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Hurricanes will remain ranked, probably right around the No. 15 spot they held this week and set up a ranked-vs.-ranked game in College Station next week. The last three of those games – when both teams enter ranked – haven’t exactly gone great for the Hurricanes; they’re 0-3, having gotten outscored 148-56.

INJURIES

Miami DE Akeem Mesidor, who had four tackles, a sack and a pass breakup in last week’s win over Bethune-Cookman, was held out with a lower body injury.

UP NEXT

Southern Miss: Host Northwestern State on Sept. 17.

Miami: Visits No. 6 Texas A&M on Sept. 17.

Art Briles out at Grambling less than 1 week after being hired

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Art Briles‘ tenure as offensive coordinator at Grambling State is over less than a week after it started.

The former disgraced Baylor coach said he didn’t want to be a “distraction” at the prominent HBCU with a storied football program in northern Louisiana, leaving the program just five days after he was surprisingly hired by coach Hue Jackson.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of your coaching staff at Grambling State University,” Briles said in a statement. “Unfortunately, I feel that my continued presence will be a distraction to you and your team, which is the last thing that I want. I have the utmost respect (for) the university, and your players.”

Briles has been a pariah in college football since 2016, when he was fired by Baylor after an investigation concluded he and his staff took no action against players named in sexual assault allegations.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Grambling asked Briles to resign or the coach did so on his own.

The baggage surrounding Briles was well-known, but that didn’t stop Jackson from making the hire last week. The 66-year-old Briles coached briefly in Italy and then at a Texas high school after he was dismissed from Baylor.

Grambling’s decision received renewed attention Monday when a three-day old social media statement from the Hue Jackson Foundation gained traction. It was the latest in an avalanche of criticism for the university.

The foundation’s statement said that Briles’ hiring “will be instrumental in teaching others teaching others the importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures, provide adequate resources to individuals who have been victimized and develop strong law enforcement partnerships within the community.”

Former Grambling quarterback Doug Williams – the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl with Washington in 1988 – was one of many who voiced his displeasure with the school’s decision to hire Briles in the first place. The NFL executive with the Washington Commanders said the foundation’s statement didn’t sway his opinion.

“I don’t know what you get from that statement,” Williams told the AP. “I don’t think anything needs to be added. Everybody knows what I think about it. I’m not going to change.”

In the Baylor case, the NCAA infractions panel stated that Briles “failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case. Furthermore, as a campus leader, the head coach is held to an even higher standard. He completely failed to meet this standard.”

Baylor paid Briles more than $15 million after firing him. He later acknowledged making mistakes and apologized for “some bad things” that happened under his watch.

This isn’t the first time a coach has attempted to hire Briles since 2016. Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson attempted to hire Briles as the program’s offensive coordinator in 2019, though university administration eventually vetoed it.

Briles was considered one of the top offensive coaches in the country when he led Baylor from 2008-15, leading the program to a 65-37 record. His spread offense kept the Bears regularly ranked in the AP Top 25 and the program had four 10-win seasons in a five-year span from 2011-15.

Jackson is the former head coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns.

Reports: Southern Miss accepts invite to join Sun Belt

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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Southern Mississippi accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference on Friday, dealing another blow to Conference USA, which already had six members announce their departures this week.

Two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that Southern Miss had agreed to leave a conference it helped found in 1995 and join the Sun Belt at a date to be determined.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the Sun Belt was not yet prepared to make an announcement and was still working on more expansion moves that it did not want to address publicly.

Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill did not immediately return a message left by The AP.

Yahoo! Sports first reported Southern Miss had agreed to join the Sun Belt.

The Southern Miss news comes a day after the American Athletic Conference announced the additions of six C-USA schools – UAB, Charlotte, Rice, Florida Atlantic, North Texas and UTSA – also at a date to be determined.

Conference USA is down to seven schools committed to the league long-term – Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, Florida International, Marshall, Louisiana Tech and UTEP – and that could be dwindling as the Sun Belt continues to grow.

Various media outlets have reported the Sun Belt has interest in adding Marshall and Old Dominion, and has also discussed inviting FCS powerhouse James Madison.

The chairman of Marshall’s board of governors said in a tweet the university’s decision on conference affiliation will come after a new school president is in place next week.

“The Marshall Board of Governors will name a new president at next Thursday’s board meeting,” Patrick Farrell posted on Twitter. “We’re going to wait until the new president has a chance to provide input before making a decision about our athletics conference affiliation. We’re confident we are in a great position.”

C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod released a statement Friday that did not mention Southern Miss’ departure, but said the conference had a “strong core to build around.”

“There are several institutions interested in joining Conference USA, both across FBS and FCS, some of whom we’ve already met with in person,” MacLeod said. “Every step we take will be deliberate, strategically sound, and intentional. We will take the necessary time to add future members that will be the best fit from an athletic and academic standpoint and allow prospective institutions time to complete their process. We continue to believe in the regional concept and will look to incorporate that into our structure and scheduling. There are certainly many questions out there, but a great deal is happening behind the scenes. When appropriate, we will release more information, though out of respect for those involved, we will continue to operate outside of the public space.”

Earlier this month, MacLeod sent a letter to AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco proposing a merger of sorts between the two far-flung conferences. The AAC had no interest and instead poached nearly half of C-USA.

Southern Miss, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, fits perfectly in the Sun Belt’s smaller footprint, between Alabama-based schools Troy and South Alabama to the east and Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette to the west.

USM’s football has a history of success that dates back decades, including Brett Favre leading the Golden Eagles to upsets of Florida State, Alabama and Auburn during his career from 1987-90. Southern Miss won four C-USA titles early in the conference’s existence.

As the composition of C-USA changed, Southern Miss lost many of its longtime rivals such as Louisville, Memphis, Houston and Tulane, and the program has slipped in relevance.

The Sun Belt offers a chance for Southern Miss to decrease travel costs and build new regional rivalries.