The college football coaching carousel is coming off its center. And believe it or not, many of the golfers in this week's Franklin Templeton Shootout are more than taking notice.
College football is big out on tour.
Jason Dufner (Auburn), Rickie Fowler (Oklahoma State), and Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker (Wisconsin) all have had their respective head football coaches in the news or making moves this week.
Auburn fired Gene Chizik two years after winning the national title, and replaced him with former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Good move, said Dufner.
"I'm a good friend with Gus," he said. "I played some golf with him when he was offensive coordinator there. Sorry to see the other guys go, but excited that we could make a hire like Gus, and hopefully he'll have a chance to prove himself in the SEC, and prove himself to be one of those top-tier coaches."
Kelly and Stricker lost their coach — Bret Bielema left Wisconsin for Arkansas, shocking many, including Stricker. After losing several assistant coaches, two to head coaching jobs, in the previous two years, Stricker thought the team was turning the corner. Especially after the Badgers absolutely pounded Nebraska, 70-31, in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday.
"Didn't see that coming at all," Stricker said. " ... It seemed like the team was getting better as the year went on. They were finding their way after losing all of those (assistants). That big win over Nebraska, I'm thinking well, they're starting to get things going, then all of a sudden he takes off. Yeah, a real shocker."
But Kelly could see that maybe Bielema didn't have the best job security.
"I was surprised that he beat them to the punch," Kelly said. "I think some of the writing's on the wall a little bit. When you have seven assistants leave with other coaches, I think they realized where the loyalties lie a little bit.
" ... I think he's a good recruiter. Recruiting for the Big Ten down south is a little bit different than recruiting for Arkansas down south. We'll see how he does. I don't blame him for chasing it because I don't know how safe he was."
Meanwhile, Fowler was happy that Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy turned down Tennessee, and has said he's staying in Stillwater.
"There was some stuff floating around," Fowler said. "Obviously we're happy to keep him. He's done a great job there. This was a tough year, playing a few of the quarterbacks. I thought it was a great coaching year."
Of course, Bud Cauley, who went to Alabama, doesn't have to worry about his head coach going anywhere soon. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will go for back-to-back BCS National Championships when they face Notre Dame in Miami on Jan. 7.
"The last month's been very kind to Alabama football," Cauley said. "After losing to (Texas) A&M, it didn't look like we were going to have a chance, and then the stars aligned a little bit, and we were able to win the SEC Championship Game."
Cauley won't be able to go to the game in Miami on that Tuesday, but he's making sure he will arrive in Hawaii for the Sony Open in time to watch it on television.
Reunited: Rickie Fowler, 23, and Bud Cauley, 22, are easily the youngest players in the field. But they do have some experience playing together.
Besides traveling the same junior circuits and playing against each other in college, the two were on the 2009 Walker Cup team, and were paired together in alternate shot and best ball, going 2-0.
"He's a good buddy of mine, and obviously a great player, and looking forward to teaming up again this week," Fowler said.
"Hopefully we can keep it going," Cauley said.
This also is a reunion of sorts for Cauley, who won the Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples National Golf Club in 2008, beating out Cory Whitsett and David Tobon.
"Lots of good memories of Naples from the Terra Cotta at Naples National," Cauley said.
Free family clinic Friday: The Family Golf Clinic will be hosted by Greg Norman at 4 p.m. at the practice facility. At 2 p.m., admission to the tournament will be free to allow families the opportunity to attend. Norman and select players will conduct the clinic, and long-drive champion Mike Zeigler also will perform. Zeigler has a competitive long drive of 504 yards.
Pro-am results: Mark Calcavecchia and Jason Dufner teamed up with amateurs Nick Blackman, Boland Jones, Lothar Estein and Dick Luebke to win the two-day pro-am with a 108 total. The amateurs played a shamble format with Calcavecchia on Wednesday, and a best ball with Dufner on Thursday.
Carl Pettersson and amateurs Paul Cifellli, Jason DeBuhr, Dean DeBuhr and Joel Kelly won a score card playoff for second at 109. The amateurs played with Rickie Fowler on Wednesday.
Fowler played with Steve Gilmore, Andrew McCormack, Robert Louie and Norm Porter on Thursday, and they were third, losing the score card playoff. The amateurs played with Mike Weir on Wednesday.
Golf Channel/NBC: Golf Channel will show Friday's first round live from 1 to 4 p.m., and replay it from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. NBC takes over from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday (both tape-delayed).
Rich Lerner will do play-by-play Friday with Frank Nobilo, and NBC's Dan Hicks and Roger Maltbie will handle Saturday and Sunday. Gary Koch will be in the tower, with Dottie Pepper and Mark Rolfing on the course, and Steve Sands on the course and doing interviews.
Military Appreciation: Complimentary admission will be given each day of the tournament to all active, reserve and retired military personnel and their dependents. Proper identification is required at the tournament's main entrance.