Army filled its coaching vacancy by heeding a core West Point value: History matters.
Rich Ellerson grew up around Black Knights football and is leaving his coaching job at Cal Poly to come to a place he knows well. His father and two brothers graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, where brother John led the 1962 team to a 6-4 record. And he has worked before with former Army coaches known for running successful schemes on both sides of the ball.
Ellerson replaces Stan Brock, who was fired Dec. 12 after a pair of 3-9 seasons. This season ended with a 34-0 loss to Navy. Brock, a former New Orleans Saints offensive lineman, was Army's offensive line coach for three years before replacing former Maryland coach Bobby Ross in early 2007.
Academy officials who announced the selection yesterday said Ellerson expressed interest in the position when it was open in the past. They were impressed by his familiarity with a program in need of a quick turnaround.
"I will never receive, nor have I ever received, a finer compliment professionally or personally than to be entrusted with the Army football program at this point in its history," said Ellerson, who turns 55 on Thursday.
Before his eight years as Cal Poly's coach, Ellerson worked with former Army coach Jim Young at Arizona, where Ellerson was an assistant. Young, who ran a successful option attack at Army, had retired from the Black Knights after the 1990 season and assumed a volunteer role on Arizona's coaching staff.
Ellerson also assisted Army coach Bob Sutton when he installed his "Desert Swarm" defense at West Point, which helped carry the Black Knights to a 10-2 record and an Independence Bowl berth in 1996.
Cal Poly made it to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs twice under Ellerson and was ranked as high as No. 3 this season. He was 56-34 in his eight years at Cal Poly.
Athletic director Kevin Anderson said he has admired Ellerson's work with the triple option.
Florida Atlantic began playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2001 and has won both its postseason games.
Howard Schnellenberger, 74, who was head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1973 and 1974, is the Owls' head coach.
The teams were tied at 10 midway through the third quarter when Smith hit Chris Bonner with a 52-yard touchdown pass. Smith found Cortez Gent for an 18-yard score early in the fourth to give the Owls a bit of a cushion.
Michigan State: : Coach Mark Dantonio got a new contract, a deal that will pay him a $2 million bonus if he remains with the program into 2016.
The revised contract was announced in Florida, where the No. 19 Spartans (9-3) are preparing to play No. 16 Georgia (9-3) on New Year's Day in the Capital One Bowl.
Dantonio's contract remains a five-year rollover deal with a base salary of $618,000. His overall compensation will rise to $1.8 million per year, up from $1.13 million, with increased supplemental income.
Dantonio is 16-9 in two seasons with the Spartans.
Auburn: : Coach Gene Chizik began assembling his coaching staff, retaining linebackers coach James Willis, who has been at his alma mater as linebackers coach since 2006.
Chizik was hired Dec. 13 after coaching Iowa State for two seasons.