Making the morning rounds.
• Strike three. David Cutcliffe, longtime Tennessee assistant and last, best hope of the Volunteers’ hastily assembled coaching search, said in a statement this morning that he will remain as the head coach at Duke, thereby hurling the UT search into the pits of despair: In the course of less than 72 hours, one of the proudest, richest programs in the nation has been ditched by last year’s hire, rejected by a coordinator at Texas and told “thanks but no thanks” by the head coaches at Air Force and now flippin’ Duke.
The new wish list includes Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, Louisiana Tech’s Derrick Dooley and the Chicago Bears‘ Lovie Smith, an ex-Tennessee assistant who many in Knoxville seems to believe is itching to leave the pros despite no substantial reports to that effect. Interim coach Kippy Brown, quietly brought on board a few weeks ago to coach the wide receivers, is becoming more and more of a possibility if the deal is going to get done before the recruiting “dead period” ends on Sunday. [GoDuke.com]
• Georgia on their minds. At least somebody in the South is getting their man: Georgia Tech is prepared to bring on ex-Virginia coach Al Groh as its defensive coordinator, which could portend a shift to the 3-4 in Atlanta; and Georgia, after striking out on bigger names Bud Foster and Kirby Smart, has reportedly landed Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham as its new defensive coordinator — an expensive one, at that — replacing the much-maligned Willie Martinez. [ESPN, Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
• Honestly, I never really cared for his “consistent success over several decades.” Veteran offensive coordinator Norm Chow is not leaving UCLA for his old stomping grounds across town, and despite the breathless initial reports that USC either a) Had reached a deal to bring Chow back into the fold under Lane Kiffin’s new staff, or b) Was close to reaching a deal with Chow, the L.A. Daily News’ Scott Wolf writes that there was barely an effort to lure Chow after Kiffin’s arrival: The two didn’t even speak to one another outside of a token voicemail Kiffin left Chow at his new boss’ behest. One reason: Kiffin plans to call the plays himself. Another: The former colleagues just don’t like each other very much. [L.A. Daily News, Orange County Register]
Speaking of former colleagues disliking Kiffin, Tennessee assistant Lance Thompson — who defected from Alabama to join Kiffin’s UT staff amid a surprising amount of trash talk last year — has a few choice words for his now-former boss. [Birmingham News]
• Wait, how many people voted for me in Idaho, again? Following the popular suggestion of Yahoo! colleague Dan Wetzel, Utah senator and outspoken BCS hater Orrin Hatch officially asked President Obama to invite Boise State to the White House to honor the Broncos’ undefeated season alongside the president’s traditional nod to “the national champion,” Alabama. Obama, a noted playoff supporter himself, is likely to be receptive, especially since he can fall back on precedent: President Bush invited both LSU and USC to the capital when the Tigers and Trojans split the title in 2003. [Sen. Orrin Hatch]
Quickly … Alabama inside linebacker coach James Willis is off to join Tommy Tuberville’s staff as the new defensive coordinator at Texas Tech. … New coach Skip Holtz already has his horns up at South Florida, thanks to a nice, fat contract. (Oh, and Jim Leavitt? He’s still fired.) … And the Wall Street Journal breaks down what you’re actually seeing in the average three-hour NFL broadcast. Spoiler: Not a whole lot of actual football.