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)
All three Oregon football players hospitalized this week as the result of grueling offseason workouts have been released.
The news, first reported by The Oregonian, concludes a dramatic week for the program and their new coaching staff after revelations surfaced on Monday that the three were sent to a nearby Springfield, Oregon hospital with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis. The condition primarily affects soft tissue and is triggered by overwork and can eventually lead to damage of the kidneys.
Senior offensive linemen Doug Brenner was actually released on Tuesday per the report, but it took until Friday morning for redshirt freshmen tight end Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi to be sent home from the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center.
As a result of the workouts, Oregon suspended new strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month without pay and changed the structure on the staff so that Oderinde, who came over from South Florida with Willie Taggart, no longer reports to the Ducks’ coach but the school’s director of performance and sport science.
While you never want to hear about football players going to the hospital, it’s great to hear that the three players who were injured as a result of the workouts have been cleared and sent home.
Middle Tennessee is giving former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer a chance to get back in the game. Shafer has been hired to be the new defensive coordinator for the Blue Raiders, the school announced Friday.
“We are all very excited about Scott and his wife Missy joining the Blue Raider family,” said MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill in a released statement. “Scott brings a wealth of experience as a defensive coordinator and we can’t wait until he gets started and puts his plan in place. He will have a positive impact on the program and university as our defensive coordinator.”
Shafer was out of coaching during the 2016 season after being fired by Syracuse after the the previous season. Shafer coached Syracuse to a record of 14-23 in his three years on the job. Now, he returns to a familiar role as defensive coordinator. Shafer has held the title of defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Stanford (under Jim Harbaugh), Michigan (under Rich Rodriguez) and Syracuse (under Doug Marrone; Shafer replaced Marrone once the coach was hired by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills).
Middle Tennessee ranked 96th in the nation in total defense in 2016, allowing 449.5 yards per game. The Blue Raiders also allowed an average of 35.8 points per game (which ranked 109th in the nation).
The Chargers have left San Diego for Los Angeles and San Diego State is working on figuring out the best possible plan for a long-term football home. For the time being, the Aztecs will continue to call Qualcomm Stadium home. The current lease with the football stadium in San Diego was to expire after the 2018 season, but the university has agreed to tack on two additional years to the lease.
Qualcomm Stadium still continues to be a short-term solution for the Aztecs. The university is hoping to find a suitable plan that will see a brand new football stadium constructed that is more suitable for the program’s fans and perhaps more accommodating. San Diego state is also reportedly open to the idea of sharing a new stadium with a potential Major League Soccer franchise, which typically plays in smaller venues than NFL stadiums.
“There’s a lot of really good football fans in this town that maybe don’t want to drive four or five hours to see a football game when they can see a pretty good product right here at home, and maybe they’ll become fans of our team,” San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said during a news conference on Thursday to announce a new contract extension. “I think that college football has a lot of things to offer that pro football does not.”
Long’s recently extended contract with San Diego state runs through the 2021 season. The hope is Long will be able to coach the Aztecs into a new home stadium in the final year currently under contract.
It seems to happen every now and then, but Alabama is losing a running back to a transfer this spring. Derrick Gore, a redshirt junior, is transferring to Louisiana-Monroe to continue his college football career, as reported by The News-Star.
Gore will be given a better chance to compete for a significant role in ULM’s offense as he gets out from the deep running back stable at Alabama that makes it difficult to get everyone involved. Gore had played a reserve role on offense behind the likes of Derrick Henry, Bo Scarbrough and Kenyan Drake at a position that is generally stacked for the Crimson Tide. Gore did find a role for himself on special teams. Gore blocked a punt against Florida in the SEC Championship Game last December and returned it for a touchdown. He was a walk-on at Alabama.
Gore will be eligible immediately to play for ULM starting this fall and will have two years of eligibility to use with the Warhawks.