Chip Kelly is our 'Coach of the Year'

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If Chip Kelly isn’t the “Coach of the Year,” they should just stop giving out the award.

We realize that there’s a long list of worthy candidates out there, but none of them can compare to what Kelly has accomplished with Rose Bowl-bound Oregon this season.

Thirteen Thursday nights ago, the Ducks were dead. They were golden brown and orange, hanging by their necks in that Chinese restaurant on the corner.

In his first game as Oregon’s head coach, Kelly was entrusted with the No. 16 team in the country. His Ducks were ranked behind two other Pac-10 teams (meaning they were projected to be Sun Bowl-bound), but there were still high hopes in Eugene.

Then, after the first 60 minutes of football and a few seconds afterward, the “Chip Kelly Era” was dead on arrival.

Oregon fell flat on its face in a 19-8 loss at Boise State in the prime-time spotlight of the national lid-lifter, unable to gain a measly first down until midway through the third quarter.

Then came the capper, star running back LeGarrette Blount landed a sucker punch to the jaw of a Bronco player after the final gun that resulted some severely ugly television and a season-long suspension (which really wasn’t).  Blount became a YouTube sensation and the Oregon football program was nothing but a big black eye.

Remember … all of this occurred during Kelly’s maiden voyage into the world of collegiate head coaching. He responded with an empty deer-in-the-headlights gaze.

There was seemingly no road back. And even if there was, it was clear that the rookie coach wasn’t the guy to get them there. He was apparently a big part of the problem.

As hard as it must have been to get his players to believe that there was still some promise in the season, it must have even been harder for Kelly to get himself to believe what he was saying.

But against all odds and within an extremely competitive conference, Kelly brought the Ducks back. All the way back. All the way to Pasadena, after registering a thrilling 37-33 decision over arch-rival Oregon State in the “Civil War/Pac-10 Championship Game.”

And thank goodness.

For the first time in the last four years, a Pac-10 team is happy about going to the Rose Bowl.

How refreshing is that?

Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil to return for Texas A&M on Oct. 24

Associated Press
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As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.

From the university:

The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits.  During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.  In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles.  He later corrected his account and since apologized. 

As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.

Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”

The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.

Hope he’s been practicing.

Report: Steve Spurrier set to retire

Steve Spurrier

Say it ain’t so, Steve.

According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.

Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.

He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.

But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.

Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:

Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.