Pac-12 suspends 10 involved in Thursday night brawl

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Well, that certainly didn’t take long.

Roughly 24 hours after a bench-clearing brouhaha ruined a perfectly good faux referee striptease, the Pac-12 has brought the hammer to a handful players from both UCLA and Arizona.

In a release, the conference announced Friday night that a total of 10 players have been suspended for periods ranging from a half game to two full contests.  A total of six Bruins have been suspended by the league, while four Wildcats will sit for varying periods of time.

The harshest suspension went to UCLA defensive tackle Cassius Marsh, who will be sidelined for the next two games.  UCLA senior wide receiver Taylor Embree (no relation) and Arizona sophomore cornerback Shaquille Richardson were each ejected following the brawl that erupted with four seconds left in the first half and missed the final two quarters.  Additionally, each player has been suspended for another game.

Here are the remainder of the sanctions levied by the conference:

UCLA
Sophomore guard Alberto Cid – Half-game suspension
Sophomore wide receiver Randall Carroll – One-game suspension
Sophomore wide receiver Shaq Evans – One-game suspension
Sophomore wide receiver Ricky Marvray – One-game suspension

Arizona
Senior cornerback Lyle Brown – Half-game suspension
Junior strong safety Mark Watley – Half-game suspension
Freshman nickelback Jourdon Grandon – One-game suspension

Each player will be suspended for their respective team’s next game.  The Bruins face Cal next weekend, while the Wildcats travel to Washington.

“The Conference is extremely disappointed in the actions of the student-athletes involved in this incident,” commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “It is unacceptable behavior and violated Conference rules, as well as NCAA fighting rules. I have taken these actions today because it is imperative that we hold our student-athletes and coaches to the highest standards of sportsmanship.”

Marsh and Evans were listed as starters on UCLA’s latest depth chart, while Richardson is the only starter Arizona will lose.

“I’m disappointed for Arizona and UCLA,” interim Arizona head coach Tim Kish said in a statement. “The altercation was a black mark on what was a good game for us. We know that players get excited and driven during games, but composure has to be maintained throughout. We’ll learn from this and grow.”

As of this posting, UCLA has yet to issue a statement on the suspensions.  Although, in fairness to the Bruins, they could be too busy lining up their next head coach to deal with such matters.

UPDATED 11:56 p.m. ET: UCLA has released a statement from head coach (for now) Rick Neuheisel addressing the suspension.

“On behalf of the entire UCLA football program, I respect the Pac-12’s decision to suspend six of our players after the unfortunate incident in the second quarter of yesterday’s Arizona game,” said Neuheisel. “As a program, we certainly do not condone the actions of our student-athletes involved, no matter what circumstances they found themselves in at the time. As the head coach, I am very disappointed with their actions. I told each and every one of our players as much in the locker room, both at halftime, and at the conclusion of the game. Everyone here understands the expectations and responsibilities we share, and that representing UCLA on the field of play is a privilege.”

SEC leads NFL Draft for 11th straight year as Alabama and Michigan set school records

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The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and once again it is the SEC claiming another NFL Draft national championship. A grand total of 53 players from the SEC were drafted by NFL teams. It is the 11th straight year the SEC has had the most players drafted by NFL teams.

The ACC ended the draft with 42 players drafted, followed by the Pac-12 (36) and Big Ten (35). The Big 12 ended the draft with just 14 players drafted.

Helping to contribute to the SEC’s NFL Draft total was Alabama setting a school record with 10 players drafted.

Alabama’s nine players drafted in the first 80 picks was also a new Alabama record.

Michigan ended up having more players drafted than any other Big Ten team, slipping past Ohio State by the time the draft closed up shop this year. For the Wolverines, 11 players ended up being drafted. The previous school record for draft picks was 10, set in 1972 and tied in 1974. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will get plenty of the praise for developing that many players getting a chance to be drafted, but Brady Hoke should be recognized for recruiting those players as well (and blamed for not developing the talent he brought in).

 

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
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One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Rawleigh Williams carted off at Arkansas scrimmage

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Any time a player that has previously undergone neck surgery goes down on the field and needs to be carted off is quite the scary moment. On Saturday, the Arkansas football program had that exact scare when Rawleigh Williams went down on the field in pain and ended up having to be carted off the practice field during the Arkansas scrimmage.

Williams was placed on a stretcher and taken out of the facility on a cart to receive medical attention. His legs and arms were moving on the ground, a slight sigh of relief given the hit and his injury history. In 2015, Williams was carted off and had to undergo surgery on his neck. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said the injury concern on Saturday was apparently not related to the previous neck injury, which was expected to have a full recovery.

It is an unfortunate ending to the spring for Williams, because all indications seemed to be he was certainly improving running the football. Bielema said earlier in the week Williams was running with more patience, which is always a key for a running back.

Arkansas moved its final scrimmage of the spring indoors due to bad weather rolling through the area.

Justin Herbert shines in first Oregon spring game under Willie Taggart

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A glimpse of a brand new era of Oregon football took center stage in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday as the spring football season drew to a close. Willie Taggart showed fans a little bit of what to expect from Oregon in the fall as the program looks to bounce back from a down season under the coach who has shown a knack for improving programs. As is usually the case in a spring game, Oregon’s quarterback situation was under a microscope, and sophomore Justin Herbert took advantage of the opportunity.

Herbert completed 16 of 26 passes for 327 yards and established a connection with wide receiver Darren Carrington. The two connected for three touchdowns in the game. Sophomore Travis Jonson and early enrollee Braxton Burmeister also saw playing time in the game, but Carrington was confident in saying this is Herbert’s job to lose.

”Our chemistry has definitely improved this spring, and it’ll improve more by the time fall comes, but Herbert, I mean, that’s the guy right now to beat,” Carrington said after the spring game.

As for the team as a whole, Taggert knows there is much still to address as a new system and style are implemented and the roster adjusts physically to the demands of the new coach.

‘We’re still building. We’re nowhere where we need to be as a football team yet. We have some good players. We don’t have a lot of depth that we need to have, that’s going to be a work in progress,” Taggart said. ”The thing for us as coaches is just to make our guys better than they were before. If I guy wasn’t good enough we want to make him look better than he was before. If I guy was good we want to make him great.”

Og course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon spring game without having that typical Oregon uniform flair. Even with a new head coach and with the talk suggesting the Ducks will go for a more traditional approach to uniforms in the fall, the spring game was used for some sizzle on the unis.

Oregon’s spring game crowd of 36,821 assured the Ducks of having the highest spring game attendance among Pac-12 school for a third consecutive year.