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Marquez North Commits To Tennessee

Tennessee received a commitment Wednesday night from wide receiver Marquez North from Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, N.C.

“I was just comfortable with everything at Tennessee,” North told Volquest.com. “I was really comfortable with the new staff. It’s just big-time football and it’s not that far away from home.

“I just felt like it was the best fit for me. I’m coming in with the new staff and it’s like starting from scratch and I feel like I can make a name for myself through hard work.”

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley was fired in November and replaced by head coach Butch Jones. But the assistant coach recruiting North, running backs coach Jay Graham, was retained. That made a difference in North’s recruitment.

“Jay graham has really taken me under his wing,” North said.

He committed to Tennessee over North Carolina. Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora was scheduled to visit North in his home this week, but North canceled that visit.

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UNC A.D. Puts Out Presser Regarding Fedora Speculation

Larry Fedora was believed to be on Tennessee’s list of potential head coaches.  Last Friday, an industry source told us his name was rising up the chart in Knoxville pretty quickly.  Fedora was even scheduled to meet with UT AD Dave Hart in New York yesterday, but there’s been very little talk about his candidacy today.

We reported earlier today that we had been told he did not want to anger his current boss at North Carolina just to be the #3 man in a three man race (behind Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Louisville’s Charlie Strong).  If he met with Hart, it’s believed, that he made it clear he wouldn’t/couldn’t discuss the job unless he was a strong — no pun intended — candidate.

Well, now Fedora’s boss — UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham — has responded to the rumors swirling around his football coach with a press release:

 

“This time each year there are a number of coaching vacancies in college football and yesterday several rumors included speculation about our own football coach Larry Fedora. Neither Coach Fedora nor I are going to address rumors about individual jobs that are bound to happen each year.

It’s been my policy since I have been a director of athletics not to comment or engage in discussions regarding a coach’s job until such time that there is a change in a coach’s employment status. Speculation about the future employment status of a head coach can be detrimental to an athletic program.

I frequently communicate with our head coaches about what they need to be successful at North Carolina. Whether a coach is highly successful or under inordinate pressure it has been my policy to keep those conversations confidential and I will continue my policy to not engage in any public discussion or speculation regarding employment. We work together to provide the best opportunities for our coaches and student-athletes.”

 

So what does that mean?  Like everything else, it’s open for interpretation.  Perhaps Fedora and UNC are okey-dokey.  Perhaps Fedora is talking to Tennessee, Wisconsin or some other non-SEC school.

But by saying something — anything — Cunningham has now turned Fedora’s status back into a hot topic.  Whether he meant to or not.

UPDATE: North Carolina recruit on conversation with Fedora: “He was just saying I don’t have anything to worry about, because he’s staying at UNC.”

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‘Stability’ Helps Tennessee Land Meredith

Justin Meredith wasn’t comfortable with the future of North Carolina’s program.

That’s one reason the tight end from T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, S.C., switched his commitment to Tennessee during the weekend.

Meredith’s father, Chuck Meredith, confirmed to govols247.com that his son committed to UT’s staff on Friday night.

“It really came down to liking two schools probably about the same, but yet Tennessee offers a lot more stability than what North Carolina offers right now,” Chuck Meredith told the website.

North Carolina hired Larry Fedora as its new head coach last week. Meredith, who originally committed to North Carolina in June, had been waiting to see the result of North Carolina’s coaching search before he made his final decision.

Meredith will graduate high school early and enroll at UT next month.

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Monday SEC Coaching Rumors

Just a quick catch-up on some of the coaching rumors making the rounds today…


* New Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is expected to bring multiple assistants with him from Arkansas State.  Two names to keep an eye on are Chris Kiffin (defensive line coach) and Grant Heard (receivers coach).

It has also been reported by FootballScoop.com that Freeze has offered the offensive coordinator position in Oxford to…


* Current LSU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson.  Wilson had been mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Bob Toledo at Tulane, but that job is expected to go to New Orleans Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson.


* Carl Pelini has been named the head coach at Florida Atlantic.  Former Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee was a strong candidate for that job before officially accepting the job as UAB’s head coach yesterday.

John L. Smith — the special teams coach in Fayetteville — is rumored to be a top candidate at his alma mater, Weber State.  The school has scheduled a press conference to announce its coach tomorrow.


* Auburn’s Gus Malzahn appears to be totally out of the mix at North Carolina at this point.  Troy Calhoun of Air Force and Larry Fedora of Southern Miss appear to be the top candidates for that job.


* Fedora is also in the mix at Kansas and at Texas A&M.  Fedora is a native of College Station, was an Aggie fan growing up, and his brother coaches a nearby high school team.  His name began to shoot up the ranks after his Southern Miss team — 11-2 and C-USA champions — pounded previously unbeaten Houston on Saturday.  On the other end of that beating was Kevin Sumlin who is also a candidate for the A&M job. 

Currently, it sounds like Fedora and Louisville’s Charlie Strong are the leaders for the A&M gig.  Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has also been discussed as a possible candidate.

We still wonder if A&M might not have been wiser keeping Mike Sherman as head coach — to allow for a smoother transition into the SEC — while adding a top-flight defensive coordinator.  Supposedly, if A&M goes with the offensive-minded Sumlin he will have to bring in a “name” D-coordinator.  Sherman’s offense was proven.  Seems like the safer and less expensive move would have been to simply add someone like Mike Stoops to Sherman’s staff… rather than start all over again from the top down.


*  We mentioned Smart above, but fellow Alabama assistant Jim McElwain — the Tide’s offensive coordinator — has been mentioned in connection with the open head coaching position at Fresno State.


* It’s been reported that Georgia AD Greg McGarity will begin working with Mark Richt on a contract extension in the next couple of weeks.


* FootballScoop.com is reporting that Kentucky receivers coach Tee Martin will not be heading to Tennessee.  Reports from the Volunteer State say Martin was never officially offered a job with his alma mater.

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Hudspeth Pulls Name From UM Search; Manning Wants Process Done Soon

You can scratch Mark Hudspeth’s name from the list of potential Ole Miss candidates.  Louisiana-Lafayette’s coach — who reportedly interviewed with the Rebels’ search committee on Sunday — has pulled his name from consideration, according to David Johnson of RebSportsRadio.com. 

Hudspeth — a former assistant under Dan Mullen before moving to UL — “alluded to Johnson” that the committee led him to believe “that Hudspeth’s ties to Mississippi State were an issue.”

If that’s true, then Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz might come off the list, too, due to the year he served in Starkville.

Archie Manning has told The Memphis Commercial Appeal that he “very much wants to” have a candidate to take to UM chancellor Dan Jones within two-and-a-half weeks.

“We’re moving fast as we can,” Manning said.  “We’ve conducted some interviews on the phone and in person, and we’ll conduct some more this week.  There are some coaches still playing some games this upcoming weekend that we want to interview.  There are some coaches we’re interested in that didn’t coach this year.”

The coaches still coaching this weekend are likely Larry Fedora of Southern Miss and Hugh Freeze of Arkansas State.

As far as men who weren’t coaching this year, Mike Leach does not appear to be a candidate and Rich Rodriguez has already landed the job at Arizona.

So here’s one for the messageboarders to have some fun with — Who did Archie’s boy, Peyton, play for at Tennessee?  A currently out-of-coaching Phillip Fulmer.

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Egg Bowl Preview? Mullen, Fedora Trade Barbs

As noted earlier today, Larry Fedora is figuring prominently in Ole Miss’ search for a new head coach.  He’ll likely win a few Rebel fans to his corner with a barb he tossed toward Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen… a coach who has tossed his own barbs at UM for three years.

After Saturday’s Egg Bowl win, Mullen said:


“Hopefully the kids in the state of Mississippi understand this is the place to come to win championships.”


Said the man who’d just finished up a 6-6 regular season.  While Mullen dart was clearly aimed at Ole Miss, Fedora — who is at Southern Miss — took notice.  And it just so happens his team is 10-2 on the season and is heading into a C-USA title game with Houston this weekend.  His reply to Mullen’s boast:


“We’re proud of the fact that all the great players from the state of Mississippi on this team have an opportunity to actually play for a championship.”


Zing. 

If you thought Mullen would allow Fedora to have the final word, however, you don’t know Mullen.  Told of USM’s coach’s comments, MSU’s coach said:


“It’s neat for them that they get to play in that championship game, obviously it’s not the Southeastern Conference.”


There’s a slim chance that Mullen and Fedora could meet up in the Liberty Bowl this season if the Music City Bowl passes on State, if USM loses to Houston, and if the two in-state schools agree to meet in Memphis.

Perhaps our best hope of seeing this two go head-to-head is for Mullen to stay put in Starkville and for Fedora to land the job in Oxford.  First man to an actual SEC championship wins.

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