Acting AD will head Penn State coaching search

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A day after being named as Penn State’s acting athletic director, David Joyner addressed the media for the first time Friday.

As expected, questions related directly to the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal that’s rocked the university and cost several people their jobs already were a major focus.  Additionally, Joyner touched, albeit briefly, on several topics related to the controversy, including who will become the Nittany Lions’ first permanent head coach not named Joe Paterno since 1965.

Joyner, who is replacing Tim Curley as the on-leave AD fights charges of perjury and failure to report in connection to the Sandusky molestation case, said that he will direct the search for a successor to Paterno, although no timeline was given for tapping a replacement or even a hint as to who the candidates might be.

“We’re very aware the process must go on to keep the business of athletics moving forward, football included. But we have a couple of regular season games left, and with any luck maybe one or two more, and we to need to pay attention [to that]— and for those players and coaches to pay attention to do their job right now.”

“Well, I’m the acting athletic director, and I’ll be here as long as it takes, whatever time frame that takes. The acting athletic director will be here for selecting a coach and perhaps quite a while after that. I’ll help pick the coach.”

The name most connected to the opening is former Florida head coach Urban Meyer, although he could be off the market sooner rather than later; rumors are flying around Columbus and various points across the Internet that the current ESPN college football analyst is all but the next head coach of the Buckeyes.  We’ve been assured that’s not the case, although the caveats of “yet/not yet” have been added in each instance an assurance was issued.

Virginia’s Mike London and Rutgers’ Greg Schiano have both been mentioned as possibilities as well, although they have each publicly denied interest in the job.

Tom Bradley, the Nittany Lions’ interim coach, would be a candidate along with any other individual who applied for the position, Joyner said.  Given his three decades-plus of service on Paterno’s staff, however, the likelihood of Bradley having the interim tag stripped from his current title is practically nil.

That was something Joyner seemed to hint at when he talked about the athletic department as a whole and what the future holds.

“I’m sure there will be change,” Joyner said. “There’s always change when you come in and have a new process. …

“I’m just here to tell you that whatever has or has not gone in the past, we’re going to go forward in the athletic department with my view … that this is an academic unit. Now if we’ve lost some of that luster because of things that have happened, I can tell you that I’ve never lost that core value, and this athletic department will reflect that core value.”

Until Joyner temporarily stepped down to become the acting AD, he was a member of the Board of Trustees that decided to fire Paterno last week a few hours after he announced a retirement that would’ve taken place at season’s end.  The fact the board fired the legendary coach over the phone brought a heavy dose of criticism — and one flipped television news van — from Penn State alumni and some in the media who felt JoePa deserved better.

Joyner… indicated that it was due to circumstances. With the media camped out at Paterno’s house, and all over State College, it would have been difficult to get word to the coach without the press getting wind of the decision first.

One final note, for now, from Joyner’s first press conference: the acting AD said that, contrary to rumors, there has been no discussion regarding the removal of the statue honoring Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium.

Starting USC DT Josh Fatu in concussion protocol after car wreck

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This is one you don’t see very often.

USC’s Josh Fatu was involved in a multi-car accident and is currently in concussion protocol because of a head injury he received in the incident, head coach Clay Helton confirmed Tuesday.  The coach added that the accident in which Fatu sustained the injury was not the defensive tackle’s fault.

Fatu has not been ruled out for Saturday’s game against USC, and is officially listed as day-to-day for the annual rivalry clash.

Heading into Week 8, Fatu had started every game along the defensive line this season for the Trojans.  His seven tackles for loss are currently second on the Trojans behind Christian Rector‘s eight, while his five sacks are behind just Rector’s 6.5.

If Fatu is unable to go against the Irish, Brandon Pili will likely take over as the starter.

Given Scott-Frost-Nebraska chatter, UCF announces funding initiative

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If a Power Five program truly wants a Group of Five head coach, there’s little the latter can do.  That, though, isn’t stopping UCF from at least trying to stave off the inevitable.

Mike Riley could very well be on the hot seat at Nebraska, leading to speculation, especially with a new athletic director, that he could be three-and-done in Lincoln.  While some chatter on any potential replacement has involved a pirate, a favorite son has significant support amongst the fan base if a change is made.

Not only is Scott Frost a former Nebraska quarterback, but, as the head coach at UCF, he has the Knights ranked 20th nationally with a 5-0 start.  And that’s coming off a six-win first season for Frost with a program that was winless the year before he arrived.

The pedigree as both a player and young head coach would make him a natural fit at a place like Nebraska, which explains why Frost’s current employer announced Tuesday an initiative to “secure commitments of over $1.5 million annually for the next five years” for the football program.  Specifically, any money raised would largely be used to enhance coaching salaries, both for the head coach and his assistants.

Called the UCF Football Excellence Fund, the program is “pursuing gift commitments ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 annually to further enhance the program’s operating resources.”  Frost himself has already committed his own money to the fund.

“I’m very excited about the success we’ve had in our time here and I’m committed to helping this program continue growing,” Frost said. “I’m happy to be part of the UCF Football Excellence Fund. We need more resources to keep taking this program where we want it to go. I’m hopeful my support will be a catalyst for others to jump on board and take part.”

According to the USA Today‘s salary database, Frost’s $1.7 million salary in 2016 was sixth among AAC head coaches, although the top two, Houston’s Tom Herman and Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville, are no longer with those programs.  With built-in raises, Frost will likely make in the neighborhood of $2 million for this season.

That said, we go back to what was written as the opening sentence: If a Power Five program truly wants a Group of Five head coach, there’s little the latter can do — even if it’s not the 42-year-old Frost’s alma mater that comes calling.

Three-star 2015 BYU signee added to Utah roster, immediately eligible

Utah athletics
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Mika Tafua will begin his collegiate playing career in the state of Utah, but not at his original school.

In February of 2015, Tafua signed his Letter of Intent with BYU on National Signing Day.  The linebacker then left on a two-year LDS mission in Tacoma, Washington, with the plan initially being to head to Provo when that church work was completed.

With the church mission completed, Tafua has decided, instead of BYU, he’ll start his career with Holy War rival Utah.  The football program announced the development Tuesday.

Tafua will also be eligible to play immediately for the Utes, who have six games remaining in the 2017 season. And, apparently, the true freshman could see action sooner rather than later.

“He’s already in the mix,” defensive line coach Lewis Powell said according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “He’s lifting and running around with the fellas. We’re excited about him.”

A three-star 2015 recruit, Tafua was rated as the No. 17 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of Hawaii on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.

Western Michigan’s three-pronged rushing attack down one for foreseeable future

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The top-ranked rushing attack in the MAC will have one less weapon in its running-game arsenal for the foreseeable future.

LeVante Bellamy sustained an injury to his right leg in the Week 7 game against Akron that required an air cast prior to being carted off the field.  While there’s no official word on the extent of the injury, it doesn’t appear that the running back will be on the field anytime soon.

“He’s booted up right now,” head coach Tim Lester said by way of mlive.com. “He’s not going to put weight on his leg for at least a week, and we’re going to revisit it. I don’t know if it’s a season-ending injury yet, but he’s not putting weight on it right now.”

Bellamy, who played in three games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury, has 394 yards rushing this season, third on the team behind Jarvion Franklin (538) and Jamauri Bogan (462).  His eight yards per carry leads the Broncos, while he’s second with three rushing touchdowns.

Through seven games, WMU is 20th nationally and first in the MAC averaging 237.9 yards per game on the ground.