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.

Despite commitment to Tennessee, Shaq Wiggins visits Mississippi State

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Hit the pause button on Shaq Wiggins and his intent to transfer to Tennessee. There appears to be a new contender in the running. The Clarion-Ledger reports Wiggins is visiting Mississippi State even after previously committing to the Vols last month as he pursues a graduate transfer destination from Louisville.

Wiggins arrived at Mississippi State on Sunday and the visit will reportedly go through at least Monday night, according to The Clarion-Ledger‘s report. Wiggins is a graduate transfer so he will be eligible to play immediately for any other FBS program this fall.

Wiggins announced his intent to transfer out of Louisville in March. His previous connections to former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was a key reason why he ended up transferring to Louisville from Georgia. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Grantham is now at Mississippi State. However, Mississippi State was initially reported to be on a short list of schools Louisville was blocking Wiggins from considering, likely because of the Grantham connection after Grantham left the Louisville staff. Other schools reported to be blocked included Kentucky, Notre Dame, Purdue and Western Kentucky (a mix of future opponents and regional rivals). Fortunately for Wiggins, an appeal to be able to consider Mississippi State was approved.

Wiggins previously announced his commitment to Tennessee in late April. Now that remains in question as Mississippi State was initially going to be high on Wiggins’ personal list when he decided to transfer. With the Bulldogs once again a potential option, they could swipe Wiggins from the Vols at the 11th hour.

San Jose State safety Chad Miller recovering from stabbing in brawl

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San Jose State safety Chad Miller is recovering in a hospital after being stabbed in a fight in San Jose this weekend. Early reports suggest Miller is expected to recover from the injury.

“He is hospitalized and is expected to recover,” a statement from San Jose State said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Chad and his family for his prompt recovery.”

According to a report from NBC Bay Area, Miller was stabbed in a brawl that involved at least 12 people. The incident occurred off campus from San Jose State, according to The Mercury News. At this time, San Jose police have not commented on the situation and are thought to be investigating the manner. No charges have been filed at this time.

Miller played in all 12 games, starting in three, for the Spartans last season. He recorded 25 tackles and forced a fumble.

Auburn’s John Franklin III may not be completely done playing QB after all

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Auburn quarterback-turned-wideout John Franklin III may not be completely done taking snaps behind center after all.

The Tigers’ new offensive coordinator tipped that the speedy receiver likely would be the best option to fill the team’s emergency quarterback spot in 2017 while speaking to AL.com during a meeting with a booster club over the weekend.

“I think he definitely could be (the emergency option), for sure,” Chip Lindsey told the site. “He’s done it his whole life, so I think he could definitely do that if we needed him to, for sure.”

Auburn suffered a host of injuries at the position last season, which prompted some extended playing time for Franklin as he appeared in all 13 games of the 2016 campaign and threw for 204 yards and a touchdown. He was moved to wide receiver during spring practice following the arrival of highly touted Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham and seems likely he’ll see the bulk of the action catching passes during the year instead of throwing them.

However, transfers out of the Plains have changed the equation a little bit at quarterback for Auburn. On top of former starter Sean White still recovering from a broken arm, redshirt freshman Woody Barrett decided to move to a JUCO and fellow backup Tyler Queen dropped all the way down to a Division II school this offseason. That leaves just Stidham and White with any experience at the position this year and true freshman Malik Willis behind them on the depth chart.

You can bet that Lindsey and head coach Gus Malzahn want to preserve Willis’ redshirt in 2017 so it certainly makes sense to have Franklin slot in behind the team’s unquestioned top two quarterbacks if either were to go down with an injury. Even if everybody stays healthy, it seems likely we’ll even get to see Franklin in a few Wildcat packages for the Tigers given his skillset so his days behind center don’t appear to be fully over just yet.

Ex-UCF lineman sues athletic department over use of his name and likeness

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Central Florida is involved in yet another lawsuit with a former player only this time it’s over the use of a former lineman’s likeness.

Jah Reid, who played at UCF from 2006-10, has sued the school’s non-profit athletics association as well as a separate corporation led by football coach Scott Frost for “improper use of his likeness,” the Orlando Sentinel  reports. He is apparently seeking some $200,000 in royalties and a whopping $600,000 in damages over the case.

At the heart of the matter is apparently how Frost’s summer camps advertised using Reid’s likeness to promote it to future recruits. The former offensive lineman’s picture was reportedly used and the lawsuit brings up the fact that a brochure used the line: “come to camp and have a chance to earn an offer like Jah Reid.”

Reid did not play for Frost during his time on the team and instead was recruited and coached by former Knights coach George O’Leary. Reid was later drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and is currently a member of the Kansas City Chiefs organization heading into the 2017 season.

The use of an athlete’s name and likeness have been litigated quite in recent years, notably in the O’Bannon vs. NCAA case that continues to make its way through the court system. It will be interesting to see if the Reid lawsuit against UCF even makes it to trial in light of that or if the parties eventually settle out of court before it gets to that point.

Either way, probably not the offseason news that Frost and the UCF athletics brass wanted to see this summer.