Just a couple of days after UCLA announced Jim Mora as the replacement for Rick Neuheisel, the man who will bridge the head-coaching gap between the old and the new is drawing interest for his own gig as well.
According to ESPNLosAngeles.com, interim Bruins coach Mike Johnson has been contacted by Akron regarding its coaching vacancy. The Zips fired Rob Ianello Nov. 27 after just two seasons at the MAC school.
Connecting Johnson to the Zips opening makes sense as he played quarterback for the football program back in the late 80s. Johnson, though, refused to address the speculation, saying his focus is on getting the Bruins prepared to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Illinois, which will also be led by an interim coach.
“We’re going to go through the 31st and finish this thing off the right way,” Johnson said. “We’re going to come out and be pros as coaches and we’re going to be student athletes for UCLA as players. And we’re going to do that until the last second of that game on the 31st. Whatever happens and wherever guys decide to go, I’m sure it’ll happen. It’s part of the business.”
Johnson was hired by Neuheisel this past January as the eventual replacement for offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
As far as the Akron job is concerned, the only other names we’ve heard attached to the opening are Florida State defensive coordinator and Ohio native Mark Stoops — also of interest to Auburn, reportedly — and Wayne State’s Paul Winters.
(Photo courtesy of UCLA athletics)
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury