Rick Neuheisel

Neuheisel’s job security could be down to days

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Whatever it was that Rick Neuheisel‘s UCLA team showed in a 48-12 thumping by Arizona, it wasn’t a competitive football team.

The Wildcats, who had just one win this season (against 1-AA opponent Northern Arizona) and fired their coach Mike Stoops not two weeks ago, absolutely torched UCLA in every imaginable way tonight. Perhaps it was a much needed change of pace with Stoops gone, but Arizona came out and played a complete football game. Granted, UCLA is not very good and Arizona is not really that bad, but the Wildcats played with an inspired edge.

UCLA was flat from the get-go. They have been for the whole first half of the season. Amazingly, though, the Bruins were 2-1 in Pac-12 play heading into tonight and still controlled their South division destiny. Really, despite the hot seat rumors for Neuheisel, UCLA had a lot to play for.

They could play for a winning record; a bowl game; a Pac-12 South title; a Pac-12 championship even.

Or, hey, how about playing for their coach’s job?

But, they didn’t. About the only inspired football UCLA showed all night was in the last seven minutes of the game. And you know what? You can’t blame ’em. UCLA’s own athletic director, Dan Guerrero, didn’t even express confidence in Neuheisel in his most recent blog. How could he expect confidence from Neuheisel’s players?

“Returning to a bowl is just one of several steps we need to take to get this program to the level we all desire,” Guerrero wrote. “In order to compete on the national stage, we first must achieve success in the Pac-12 Conference.”

It’s not that Guerrero isn’t spittin’ truth — he is, and there’s no reason why UCLA can’t be better than they are — but there are short-term collateral damages that resulted from it. Among the numerous penalties, dropped passes, turnovers, terrible assignment defense and first-half brawl, one thing was clear: UCLA gave up tonight. Arizona got out ahead early and kept their foot down on UCLA’s throat, and the Bruins didn’t do a thing about it.

When Neuheisel opted to kick the field goal instead of going for the touchdown on fourth and goal with under five minutes left to play, he showed his players he had given up too.

Perhaps Neuheisel will be fired sooner rather than later. It might happen this week. Barring a miraculous turnaround, it’s hard to think of many ways the former quarterback can keep his job. A sub-.500 record, no Pac-12 titles and one bowl appearance won’t cut it in Westwood — not with the available local talent and the NCAA-wrapped gift handed to the Bruins in the form of sanctions to cross-town rival USC.

Neuheisel knows that, and as he stood at the center of Arizona Stadium waiting to shake the hand of Wildcats interim coach Tim Kish, the the body language said it all. He looked hurt, defeated. How his team responds next week against Cal will give us a more definitive indication if this team has really lost all hope.

If Neuheisel makes it that long. Judging by the look on his face tonight, a swift end might actually be a welcome relief.

Social media post indicates ex-Miami FB Walter Tucker’s headed to FIU

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 01:  Walter Tucker #44 of the Miami Hurricanes takes the field during a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels  at Sun Life Stadium on November 1, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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While Walter Tucker has left Miami, it doesn’t appear he’l be leaving the state of Florida.

On social media over the weekend, Walter Tucker, by way of Matt Porter of Palm Beach Post, has indicated that he will continue his collegiate playing career at FIU. That football program has not announced one way or the other the fullback’s connection to the football program.

In his Instagram post, Tucker, in addition to revealing his father has cancer, posted a photo of himself superimposed over FIU’s football stadium as well as the hashtags “#FIUNATION,” “#PANTHERNATION.” and “#PANTHERPRIDE.”

 

It’s unclear if Tucker would be eligible to play immediately in 2016 with the Panthers.

Tucker played in 32 games the past three seasons, mainly on special teams. He carried the ball three times for eight yards in 2015, and caught one pass for eight yards the year before.

In February, new Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt announced that Tucker had decided to transfer from The U.

Utah DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu transferring, reportedly visiting Nebraska over the weekend

Stevie Tu'ikolovatu
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A couple of months before the start of summer camp, Nebraska is in the market for some interior line help.

According to a report from HuskerOnline.com, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu visited Lincoln over the weekend as he continues his search for a new football home. Tu’ikolovatu had decided very recently to transfer out of the Utah football program.

Tu’ikolovatu would provide immediate help to the ‘Huskers as he would be coming in as a graduate transfer.

Last season with the Utes, Tu’ikolovatu played in all 13 games, starting two of those contests. His four fumble recoveries were tied for the lead in the Pac-12 and second nationally.

Pitt RB James Conner tweets his ‘body is clean of cancer’

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 20: Tailback James Conner #24 of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers runs with the ball against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes during a college football game at Heinz Field on September 20, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Hawkeyes defeated the Pitt Panthers 24-20. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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How about some excellent news for a change?

Late Monday afternoon, Pittsburgh running back James Conner tweeted out the words he’s been waiting months to say: “Just got the call that my body is clean of cancer!!!”  The news comes five months after Conner revealed that he had been diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his neck and chest.

It also comes less than two weeks after the back completed his chemotherapy treatments.

The treatment hadn’t kept Conner completely away from the Panthers, however, as the running back was seen on video working out with teammates last month while he has been doing some individuals drills since the start of spring practice this month.  He’s also gotten the “celebrity treatment” during his battle as the back threw out the first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game and made an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said earlier this offseason that he expects Conner to play in 2016.

As a sophomore, Conner was named the ACC’s Player of the Year in 2014.  He was fully expected to leave for the NFL following the 2015 season before the combination of a season-ending knee injury suffered in September and the cancer diagnosis prompted a return to Pitt.

UPDATED 7:47 p.m. ET:  Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi released a statement addressing Conner’s positive medical update.

Over the past six months, James Conner fought cancer the same way he plays football: relentlessly and without surrender. He has inspired and touched so many people in how he has handled this challenge. James is an incredibly special person, and I’m not even thinking about his football ability when I say that. Everyone at Pitt feels blessed to know him and we are tremendously thankful for the wonderful news he received today.

BC QB-turned-WR Troy Flutie charged with drunk driving

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Troy Flutie #16 of the Boston College Eagles makes a pass during the first quarter against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Alumni Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Thanks in very large part to his famous surname, this story will likely generate more headlines and attention than it would if it had involved a “normal” football player.

Be that as it may, Boston College’s Troy Flutie has found himself on the wrong side of the law, with the Metrowest Daily News reporting that the quarterback/wide receiver was arrested on multiple charges following a minor weekend car crash. Specifically, Flutie, the son of former BC wide receiver Darren Flutie and nephew of 1984 Heisman winner Doug Flutie, was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of liquor, possession of an open container of liquor while driving and being a person younger than 21 in possession of liquor. He was also issued a citation for a marked lanes violation.

The Daily News writes that, “[a]ccording to police, Flutie hit a curb, which led to his arrest.” No other details have been made available.

Flutie began his BC career as a quarterback and, after redshirting as a true freshman, played in eight games in 2015. He completed 24-of-49 passes for three touchdowns and an interception during his limited action.  Because of injuries at the position, Flutie was one of four Eagles quarterbacks to attempt at least 42 passes last season.

This spring, Flutie was moved to wide receiver.