Source: A.D. 'undercutting' Mangino

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On a day when everyone seems to be piling on Mark Mangino, we’ve come across some information that paints a slightly different picture of the Kansas head coach and the situation in which he currently finds himself.

As you no doubt have heard by now, Mangino is the subject of an internal investigation for allegedly poking a player — linebacker Arist Wright — in the chest during the week leading up to the Oct. 17 game against Colorado.  At the time of the alleged practice incident, Kansas was 5-0; since then, the Jayhawks have lost five straight and have some convinced that the losing has played a major role in this incident coming to light.

“Do you think this would be happening if they’d won five games in a row instead of lost [five in a row]”, a school source with knowledge of the situation told CFT.  “They were unbeaten when this happened.  Why is it not coming out until now?”

As a result of the “poking” incident, the players met with athletic director Lew Perkins this past Monday and were given a no-holds-barred forum in which they could discuss any issues or concerns they have or had regarding Mangino.  The head coach was not present, and was unaware of the meeting until afterwards according to the source.

In getting the players together, the source said, Perkins or one of his underlings “went on blast” to alert the players to the particulars of the meeting.  According to the source, Mangino “blasts” his players via text messages in order to get information out to them, alert them to certain things, etc.  Some players were under the impression that Mangino had called for the meeting, and attended under that assumption.

The source said using this “blast system” was one of many indications that Perkins is attempting to undermine the coach, undercutting him in regards to how he deals with his players.

Another indication?  It’s believed by many involved with the university that Perkins or someone associated with Perkins’ office is responsible for the leak revealing a parking ticket incident two years ago that paints Mangino in a not-so-flattering light — an incident that was taken care of by both the payment of all outstanding tickets and a personal apology from Mangino for his actions in a verbal altercation with a student attendant.

Again, that was an incident which occurred two years ago and is just now coming to light.  That fact, along with an internal probe being made public, gives the perception that there is some kind of convoluted vendetta going on by those in positions of power within the athletic administration.

“He’s the most successful football coach Kansas has had [in the modern era], and they are doing this to him?  Why would that be, especially now with the successes, the bowl successes, the program’s had as recently as the last couple of years?” the source asked, referring largely to the back-to-back bowl wins and a 12-1 season. 

“Just consider who might be the source of these leaks,” the source said, insinuating that Perkins is behind this becoming a media imbroglio.  “Perkins [left] Maryland [after an NCAA investigation], and they held a celebratory party at UConn when he left.

“Perkins is the reason why Nike will no longer do business with Kansas.”

While some are under the impression that this incident could be the beginning of the end for Mangino’s run in Lawrence, there are those — including the unnamed university source cited in this story — who feel that the axe could fall on Perkins before it’s all said and done.

However this whole situation ends up being resolved — and regardless of who may or may not lose their jobs — all sides will be sporting unnecessary black eyes that seem to be the byproduct of unprofessional leaks from the AD’s office.

San Jose State QB Malik Watson latest to take grad transfer route

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  The San Jose State Spartans marching band plays their fight song against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the second quarter on November 29, 2013 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California.  The Spartans won 62-52.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a college football player has decided to ply his final season of college football wares elsewhere.

The latest to take that tack is Malik Watson, who announced via Twitter that he has “decided that I will not be returning to San Jose State for my senior and will be seeking elsewhere to pursue my dream.”  As Watson will graduate from SJSU this May, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2016 if he lands at another FBS school and enrolls in a grad program not offered at his former school.

Watson added that, as he awaits a new destination, he “will continue to train with my private QB coach in this meantime.”

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A California high school product who was born in Hawaii, Watson transferred from the junior college ranks to SJSU in 2014. After redshirting that first year, the 6-3, 208-pound Watson played in two games as the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart.

In that time, Watson completed 9-of-15 passes for 59 yards and an interception. Of the 15 attempts, 14 came in the Week 3 loss to Oregon State.

Illini grad transfer T.J. Neal to visit WVU, Auburn

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMPER 27: Linebacker T.J. Neal #52 of the Illinois Fighting Illini arches of running back Ameer Abdullah #8 of the Nebraska Cornhuskersduring their game at Memorial Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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T.J. Neal does not yet know where he will continue his collegiate career, but it appears the linebacker has significantly narrowed the field.

A little less than two weeks ago, Neal, after being told by the coaching staff that they were planning to move him from middle to strongside linebacker, decided to transfer out of the Illinois football program.  As he will be a graduate transfer upon earning his degree in May, Neal will be eligible to play at another FBS program in 2016.

Enter West Virginia and Auburn, two teams which have been in contact with Neal and vice versa.  According to al.com, Neal will visit Morgantown this coming Monday, then head to The Plains a week later.

Upon the announcement of an impending departure, Illini head coach Bill Cubit said the Pennsylvania native “was talking about playing closer to home.”  Even as a move to Auburn would be the exact opposite of that, Neal seems genuinely excited over the prospects.

“Being able to play down there in Alabama, it’s like a dream come true,” Neal told Brandon Marcello of al.com. “From my high school, I never thought I’d play at a big-time school like Auburn. To have a chance now, it’s exciting to play against some of the top players in the country.”

According to blueandgoldsports.com, Penn State and Pittsburgh are/were also in play. It’s unclear if he’s visited or plans to visit those schools in his home state, although it was originally thought that the Nittany Lions could be high on Neal’s to-do list.

Not only is Neal a native of McKeesport, Pa., but Tim Banks, the Illini’s co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach the past four seasons, left in December to become the Nittany Lions’ coordinator.  PSU has also seen a pair of linebackers, Troy Reeder and Gary Wooten Jr., transfer out this month, meaning the opportunity for a starting job would certainly be on the table.

Regardless, Neal expects to make a decision shortly after the Feb. 15 visit to Auburn. He would then enroll in his new school of choice shortly after his graduation from Illinois.

Neal was a two-year starter for the Illini who finished second on the team in tackles (109) this past season.  He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten for his play in 2015.

Hip issue forces Mizzou RB Morgan Steward to retire

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Thomas Tyner isn’t the only Power Five running back forced to step away from the sport because of injury.

Back in November of 2014, Morgan Steward sustained a hip injury during the early portion of Missouri’s summer camp.  Specifically, the running back said at the time, “[m]y hip joint popped out of place, tore things around, pulled off some of the bone.”

Surgery that November sidelined him until camp the following year, but Steward managed to play the first three games of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, the back was shut down in late September for the remainder of the year; five months later, he’s being shut down permanently as Mizzou officials have confirmed that Steward will be forced to retire from the sport and end the playing portion of his football career.

A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2012 recruiting class, Steward ran for 84 yards and a touchdown as a redshirt freshman. Prior to the hip injury the following year, Steward was viewed as a back who could potentially shoulder a significant portion of the running-game load, rushing for 117 yards and three touchdowns in a scrimmage during spring practice in 2014. Post-injury, he ran for 18 yards in the three 2015 games.

The good news for Steward is that he has his degree from Mizzou in business communications.

Ole Miss QB Ryan Buchanan opts to quit football

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 22:  Ryan Buchanan #9 of the Ole Miss Rebels throws a pass in the fourth quarter of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Rebels 30-0.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Ole Miss had already lost one quarterback to a transfer the past couple of months.  Now, the Rebels are losing another via different means but essentially for the same reason.

In an interview with Scout.com, Ryan Buchanan confirmed that not only is he leaving the Ole Miss football team, but he’s leaving the sport, period.  Buchanan’s decision to step away from the game is actually the culmination of a process that began midway through a 2015 season that would see the Rebels win 10 games and a Sugar Bowl title.

“I came to the conclusion a few months ago that football would not be my future and it was time to start applying myself 100% to my future,” he said. “It’s time for me to find my passion beyond football.”

Buchanan, who said he briefly flirted with transferring to another school, informed head coach Hugh Freeze and his position coach, Dan Werner, of his decision a couple of weeks ago.

If Buchanan had decided to return to Oxford, he would’ve been no better than third on the depth chart. All-SEC quarterback Chad Kelly is firmly entrenched as the starter, while five-star 2015 signee and future at the position Shea Patterson is poised to be Kelly’s backup for a season before taking over the reins in 2017. There’s also no guarantee that the sophomore could beat out redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin for the No. 3 spot.

A four-star member of the Rebels’ 2013 recruiting class, Buchanan was rated as the No. 19 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Mississippi.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Buchanan attempted 22 passes and served as Ole Miss’ holder on kick attempts in 2014.  This past season, he attempted 13 passes, two of which went for touchdowns.

In early December, DeVante Kincade, a three-star recruit in Buchanan’s class, announced his decision to transfer from the Rebels.