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.

Arkansas to host Ole Miss in Little Rock in 2018

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Ole Miss will put the finishing touches on its 2017 season with the annual Egg Bowl Thanksgiving night, but there’s a bit of 2018 scheduling news involving the Rebels to touch on first.

Wednesday, Arkansas announced that its 2018 game against Ole Miss will be played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock instead of their on-campus home in Fayetteville. Next season will mark the 70th anniversary of the opening of War Memorial Stadium.

“We look forward to our return to Central Arkansas to take on Ole Miss at War Memorial Stadium in October 2018,” interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples said in a statement. “I know Razorback fans will be excited and ready to cheer on our team in a key Southeastern Conference Western Division matchup.

“Arkansas and Ole Miss first met on the football field more than a century ago and we look forward to the next chapter in this rivalry, in a venue that has hosted so many important games in this series.”

In fact, the game next season will mark the 110th anniversary of the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.

The Razorbacks and Rebels last played in Little Rock in 2012. Their only other matchup at War Memorial Stadium as conference foes came in 1992.

UCLA, UNLV announce future home-and-home

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Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! And, as you get set for your Turkey Day feast, here’s a little future scheduling news on which to nibble.

Just a handful of days after dumping its head coach, UCLA, along with UNLV, announced that the two football programs have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series. The Bruins will play host to the Rebels on Sept. 7, 2024, at the Rose Bowl. The following season, on Sept. 6, 2025, the two teams will meet up once again in Las Vegas.

“This is another series that bolsters our future schedules and is beneficial for both sides geographically,” a statement from Desiree Reed-Francois began. “Our fans enjoy seeing traditional powers come to town, it enhances our football program’s efforts in the recruiting hotbed of Southern California and partnering with prestigious institutions in the Pac-12 only helps our development as a University.”

The schools have met twice previously, in 2015 and 2016, with the Bruins winning both by a combined score of 79-24.

This scheduling news comes three weeks after UNLV announced a future four-game series with Cal. The MWC program also has future games against Pac-12 members USC (2018 season opener) and Arizona State (home-and-home in 2020 and 2021) on the scheduling docket.

Tennessee WR Jauan Jennings dismissed after Instagram tirade against Vols coaching staff

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The 2017 season just can’t end quick enough for Tennessee.

Proving that there have been much better days on Rocky Top, the school has reportedly and unexpectedly dismissed wide receiver Jauan Jennings from the team on Wednesday evening — just hours after the junior went on a tirade against the current coaching staff and posted it to his social media accounts.

Jennings reportedly went off earlier in the day at the staff and called them several choice, NSFW names in videos posted to his private Instagram account.

The receiver was somewhat of a surprise return to practice recently as it was expected he was going to miss the rest of the season after being injured in season opener against Georgia Tech. Jennings enter the year as an All-SEC third team selection in the preseason but was limited to just three catches for 17 yards the first half of the Vols’ first game.

Jennings could transfer to another school as he has a redshirt year available and likely would be able to receive a medical redshirt as well. Declaring for the NFL Draft seems the more likely scenario however but one thing is for certain: a return to Tennessee doesn’t look like it’s in the cards after Wednesday’s actions on both sides.

Arkansas names advisory committee for athletic director search to replace Jeff Long

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Arkansas needs a new athletic director so they’re doing what every enterprise in college athletics does when they need to get something done: form a committee.

The school announced on Wednesday that they had formed a seven person search committee to find the Razorback’s next athletic director after firing Jeff Long last week from the same position. Julie Cromer Peoples will continue to serve as the interim AD while Arkansas chancellor Joseph Steinmetz finds the next permanent name for the position.

The committee is quite a diverse group, headlined by LPGA golfer Stacy Lewis (who golfed for the school). Women’s track coach Lance Harter, Board of Trustees chairman Ben Hyneman, professor Gerald Jordan, architecture school dean Peter MacKeith, Razorback Foundation member Rick Massey, and former quarterback turned booster Bill Montgomery.

“I sought to assemble a committee representative of the university, spanning past and present in our academics and athletics history, with knowledge and perspective about Arkansas, and, notably an appreciation of the source of pride the Razorbacks are for the state of Arkansas,” Steinmetz said in a statement. “I have great faith in the approach that each of these advisors will bring to the process and I’d like to thank these folks for their time in this endeavor.”

It remains unclear what, if any, input the committee will have regarding the future of head coach Bret Bielema. His tenure was widely linked to that of Long’s and rumors have already surfaced that the school will quickly let the coach go and begin a full court press to land Auburn’s Gus Malzahn to replace him.

First up though is the team’s final game, which comes at home against Missouri on Friday. Arkansas, sitting at 4-7 on the season, has already been eliminated from bowl contention so the outing will be the team’s last before the future direction of the program gets decided.