John Hicks

‘Tunnel of pride’ to greet Buckeyes at opener

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For the better part of seven months, there has been almost nothing but negative headlines when it comes to the Ohio State football program.

Some former Buckeye football players, however, are looking to make a very public display to the current ones that they still have their backs.

Speaking to the Columbus Dispatch and regarding a tradition normally reserved for the game against Michigan, former OSU All-American John Hicks (pictured) said that the negativity swirling around the program has prompted him and others to organize a “tunnel of pride” before the season opener against Akron.  Hicks said it’s expected they’re “going to have 1,500 to 2,000 out there” as a show of support to the current players and coaches.

While acknowledging that “embarrassment is the right term” for what’s transpired over the past several months, former OSU running back Jeff Logan hammered home the show-of-support angle to the gesture.

“Former players feel we still have a tremendous amount of pride and tradition that makes us still feel good about the program,” Logan said. “And we want not so much the stadium or the nation to know, but for the players and coaches who are standing on that sideline getting ready to start another season to understand that regardless of what has happened in the last 12 months or so, that we support them wholeheartedly.

“I mean, this program is much bigger than what has happened in the last 12 months.”

One of the things that’s happened was Jim Tressel being forced to step down/retire earlier this year.  That fact doesn’t sit well with some of the former Buckeyes, but, again, that won’t stop them from supporting the current members of the program.

“I feel very badly that we treated Tressel in the manner that we’ve treated him,”  said Pandel Savic, quarterback of the 1949 Rose Bowl-winning team who added that Tressel called him on his 86th birthday earlier this year. “There’s no doubt the program has suffered indirectly, though I hope not too much with our recruiting. But everybody who has played there is always 100 percent behind the program, and that’s what we’re going to show. …

“[W]e all love (former coach Jim) Tressel, and as far as I’m concerned, he got shafted because of the actions of (former quarterback Terrelle) Pryor, for one, and a few others.  I just don’t like the idea of him being let go. I think the world of the man, and he did a hell of a job for us.

“As far as the group, though, we’re definitely going to back (new coach) Luke Fickell and the current coaching staff 100 percent. I think they’re qualified.”

While we respectfully disagree with Savic on one of his points — Tressel was the one that shafted Tressel — there’s little doubt that the octogenarian is one of a majority of former players who will continue to stand behind their former school, regardless of what happens off the field.

LOOK: Virginia unveils new uniforms

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - NOVEMBER 26:  A general view of the game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
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For those who pay attention to the uniform game within the game of college football — which seems like just about everyone these days — a distinct pattern has emerged of late: new coach, new uniforms. This offseason alone we’ve seen it at Rutgers (new coach Chris Ash), Central Florida (new coach Scott Frost), Virginia Tech (new coach Justin Fuente) and, now, Virginia. Nothing gives the fan base something new to rally around quite like giving them something new to look at, particularly when a new staff takes over for an underperforming one. When the product on the field still appears like the old one, you might as well make it look different, at least.

The Cavaliers broke out new uniforms on Saturday that blend the program’s past with its present.

Here, head coach Bronco Mendenhall explains the thesis behind the change. I’ll let you decide whether this is the typical Nike brand-speak coming out a new mouth or convicting symbolism that will yield a tangible difference on the field.

Next, some new looks at the new look, courtesy of Virginia athletics:

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Virginia’s new staff and new uniforms will see the field for the first time Saturday against Richmond.

Miss. State DL Nick James arrested for fourth time as a Bulldog

COLUMBIA , MO - NOVEMBER 5:  Quarterback Drew Lock #3 of the Missouri Tigers rolls out as he looks to pass as he is pursued by Nick James #88 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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A familiar headline splashed across SEC-land on Sunday: Mississippi State defensive tackle Nick James was arrested early Sunday morning.

It’s his fourth arrest in the past three years.

James was arrested previously for driving without insurance in 2013, disorderly conduct and driving with a suspended license in 2014, and public intoxication in February of last year.

The latest arrest came at 1:36 Sunday morning for public intoxication, according to the Starkville Daily News.

The Bulldogs released a statement saying Dan Mullen “is aware of an incident involving Nick James that occurred last night, and he is currently getting more information on it.”

A senior, James saw action in all 13 games last season with 10 starts. He has posted 43 tackles, three TFLs and one forced fumble in 34 career appearances. James was penciled in to start along the Bulldogs’ defensive front this season.

Mississippi State will already be without five-star signee Jeffery Simmons for punching a woman in a parking lot fight before his arrival on campus.

Western Michigan dismisses pair accused of alleged stick-up

KALAMAZOO, MI - SEPTEMBER 4: Western Michigan Broncos fans get fired up before the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Waldo Stadium on September 4, 2015 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Western Michigan has dismissed a pair of players accused of sticking up a female WMU student after committing an on-campus robbery, the program announced Sunday. The players, linebacker Ron George and wide receiver Bryson White, were both freshmen.

The pair are accused of holding the student up with a semi-automatic firearm and a knife. It is not clear which player is accused of holding which weapon. “He had the gun to the back of my head and he slammed the back of my head with the gun,” the woman said.

The woman says the players stole “hundreds of dollars, along with a stereo speaker.”

“I’m so scared. I couldn’t sleep last night,” the woman told WWMT-TV. “I haven’t ate anything since. I’m so scared. I don’t want to live here anymore.”

“This has been a difficult time for our University, community and football family,” head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “With this action we are moving forward and we are focusing our attention on Northwestern.”

George was a three-star signee out of Pittsburgh. White was a walk-on from Ohio.

Western Michigan visits Northwestern Saturday (noon ET, ESPNU).

Texas Tech boss Kirby Hocutt becomes latest million-dollar AD

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 16: Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt answers questions from the media after being named the chairman of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee on January 16, 2016 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
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It’s been a good year for Kirby Hocutt. His basketball team returned to the NCAA Tournament, then made a nice rebound hire in Chris Beard when Tubby Smith bolted for Memphis. His baseball team won its first-ever game at the College World Series, then held onto head coach Tim Tadlock when Texas came calling. His football program is positioned for a solid year, with rare stability at the defensive coordinator position and perhaps the most talented quarterback in school history in Patrick Mahomes. He reached a new level of professional currency when he was named chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

That last bit has led to a handsome new contract that pushes his salary to north of $1 million a year.

As detailed by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Hocutt has inked a seven-year contract that pays him a sum of $7.525 million. He’ll earn $1 million in the first year and net raises of $25,000 each year, plus bonuses that could reach as much as $225,000 each year. All told, theoretically, Hocutt could earn $1.4 million by the final year of his contract.

“I couldn’t feel more fortunate to have the support that I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy at Texas Tech University,” Hocutt told the paper. “The leadership continues to be tremendous. I couldn’t be more excited about President Schovanec. The support he provides, that Chancellor (Robert) Duncan provides, I couldn’t be more fortunate as an athletics director.”

Salaries for athletics directors aren’t as easy to track as coaches but, according to the most recent data on file, Hocutt appears to be one of just eight active ADs to earn seven figures — and more than the ADs at both Texas and Texas A&M.

In addition to Tech’s success in the big three sports — the Red Raiders were the only Big 12 program to reach the postseason in football and men’s basketball while also reaching the College World Series — 11 of the school’s 14 other programs also reached the postseason, including Big 12 titles in soccer, men’s tennis and baseball.