Q: Is it true Michigan State is interested in bringing Spartan grad Steve Mariucci back to East Lansing? Would he be a good fit with John L. Smith on his way out?
— Pete Brooks from Toledo, Ohio
A: Those are the rumblings you hear, Pete. Steve Mariucci definitely seems like a good fit at Michigan State. As everyone knows, Mariucci’s best buddy — Tom Izzo — is Michigan State’s basketball coach. Mariucci, a native of Iron Mountain, Mich., was a three-time All-American quarterback at Northern Michigan. The state roots couldn’t be deeper.
It’s uncertain how Mariucci views his future. He’s still getting paid by the NFL’s Detroit Lions after getting dumped there (following his previous firing by the San Francisco 49ers). Mariucci mostly cut his teeth in the NFL, although he was California’s head coach for one season before jumping to the 49ers.
Mariucci also has been mentioned as a candidate at North Carolina, which already fired John Bunting, giving Tar Heel brass a few months to line up its new man. The dominoes might fall quickly after the season, with many prime jobs expected to be open.
As for Smith, he was finally fired on Wednesday, but will coach the team's remaining games this season? Just when he seemed to buy himself some goodwill with a 41-38 win against Northwestern — rallying from 35 points down in the NCAA’s greatest comeback ever – there was Saturday’s 46-21 loss to Indiana, putting the schizophrenic Spartans at 4-5.
Q: How long before Frank Solich is back coaching at a big-name program? He’s already made Ohio a solid program in the MAC.
— Michael from Austin, Texas
A: It could be as soon as this offseason, Michael. Solich has the Bobcats humming along at 6-3, with good wins against Northern Illinois, Illinois and Western Michigan.
Solich might not have the charisma of Steve Mariucci and Butch Davis, two out-of-work coaches who are constantly mentioned for potential openings at BCS schools, but Solich is a winner. His 58-19 record at Nebraska is proof of that. The Cornhuskers haven’t been quite the same since Solich’s firing.
Q: What did Dick Tomey do to turn San Jose State around so fast?
— Jeff from San Diego
A: He adjusted, and that’s a testament to his experience, Jeff. Dick Tomey is in his 26th season as a major college head coach (Hawaii and Arizona were previous stops). After adding some elements of a spread offense, quarterback Adam Tafralis has morphed from one of America’s lowest-rated signal callers to one of its most efficient leaders.
The Spartans (5-2) are converting more than twice as many third downs. Turnovers are down. Tafralis, who lost 20 pounds in the offseason, keeps the chains moving with quick-rhythm, high-percentage passes. Success breeds success, and Tafralis has never been so confident.
San Jose State’s defense has chipped in with opportunistic play. Cornerback Dwight Lowery has seven interceptions.
There’s still a major roadblock. The Spartans have dropped 16 straight road games, including the 23-7 loss at Nevada on Oct. 21, and they’re looking to end that ignominious streak on Saturday at New Mexico State.
For national impact, though, nothing could be better for Tomey’s Spartans than an upset victory against Boise State on Nov. 11. That would get the WAC — and fans outside the WAC — really buzzing about this turnaround program.
CFT: The Detroit Lions are expected to own and operate their own bowl game at Ford Field, starting play in 2014, according to a report by ESPN.
CFT: The University of Miami has come under scrutiny for alleged NCAA infractions, but one unnamed Hurricanes assistant coach says the SEC gets away with far more unreported violations.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Saban hurt by colleagues' comments?
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick what he think of these comments.
BCS title game
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