Update: Buckeyes confirm Withers hiring; Vrabel to remain on staff

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A couple of weeks worth of speculation and hinting around the hiring has come to fruition, with Urban Meyer filling another hole in his first-ever Ohio State coaching staff.

North Carolina interim head coach Everett Withers confirmed to reporters Wednesday afternoon that he will be leaving the Tar Heels to assume a position with the Buckeyes.  It’s believed Withers will become Meyer’s co-defensive coordinator, sharing that role with OSU interim head coach Luke Fickell — provided he doesn’t land the Pittsburgh head-coaching job, of course.

Ohio State is expected to make an announcement at some point in the near future, perhaps as early as today.

Withers was the coordinator at Minnesota in 2007 before moving on to serve in the same position with Butch Davis from 2008-10.  He took over the head-coaching duties when Davis was fired a month before the start of the 2011 season.

Before heading to Columbus, Withers, who had also been mentioned in connection to the coordinator vacancy at Auburn, will coach the Tar Heels in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl against Missouri next Monday night.

UPDATED 3:36 p.m. ET: In a press release, Ohio State officially announced the hiring of Everett Withers as Urban Meyer‘s co-defensive coordinator/assistant head coach.

“Everett is extremely well respected across the country,” Meyer said in a statement. “I’ve known about him for a number of years and followed his progress as a college and NFL assistant coach. He will be a great fit for this staff and I think he and Luke [Fickell] are going to work well together as the co-coordinators of our defense.”

“I am excited, and I couldn’t be more excited to be on coach Urban Meyer’s staff at The Ohio State University,” Withers said. “Ohio State is obviously one of the storied programs in college athletics. Having an opportunity to work at that university, and as part of Coach Meyer’s staff, is something that you just can’t pass up.”

In addition to Withers’ hiring, OSU also announced that Mike Vrabel has been retained as a defensive assistant.  Vrabel served as linebackers coach in 2011.

“I had heard such great things about Mike Vrabel as a player, but the key thing for me was I wanted to talk football with him,” Meyer said. “I wanted to see him recruit, and I wanted to meet his family. I have since spent a lot of time with him, and he has a wonderful family.

“I also spoke to a number of people I know well, who also know Mike very well, including Bill Belichick. Coach Belichick and I had a really good discussion about Mike. While Mike is young, we both agreed that the unique experiences he has had as a player, coupled with the things he has already accomplished as a coach and recruiter for Ohio State, has prepared Mike for this opportunity. I am very pleased he will be on the staff.”

Kerry Coombs adds assistant DC to Ohio State coaching responsibilities

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Heading into the 2017 season, Kerry Coombs will have an additional title on his coaching résumé.

Ohio State announced Thursday that Coombs has been promoted to assistant coordinator, defense, by Urban Meyer.  Coombs will retain his titles of special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach as well.

Greg Schiano will remain in his role as defensive coordinator.

“Kerry Coombs is absolutely deserving of this promotion to assistant coordinator, defense,” the head coach said in a statement. “He is an outstanding coach, instructor and mentor to the young men in this program. He is one of the best recruiters in the nation. He is incredibly loyal, and we at Ohio State are very fortunate that he loves this school and loves being a Buckeye.”

Coombs will be entering his sixth season with the Buckeyes, one of two assistants, the other being wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who have been with Meyer all five of his seasons in Columbus.

The past two years, three of Coombs’ corners — Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley in 2017, Eli Apple in 2016 — have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Another, Bradley Roby, was taken in the first round of the 2014 draft.

Frank Kush, winningest coach in Arizona State history, dies at age 88

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The most famous head coach in the history of Arizona State athletics has passed.

The university confirmed Thursday that the legendary Frank Kush died earlier in the day of unknown causes.  He was 88 years old.

After finishing his collegiate playing career at Michigan State and a stint in the Army, Kush’s first job in coaching was as the line coach for the Sun Devils in 1955.  When Dan Devine left to become the head coach at Missouri in December of 1957, Kush was promoted to head coach.

Kush spent the next 21½ years as the head coach at ASU, leading the Sun Devils to a 176-54-1 mark that included seven Western Athletic Conference championships.  The wins are the most in the football program’s history; in fact, he’s the only coach in the school’s history who has accumulated more than 60 wins during his time in Tempe.

From 1969-73, Kush’s ASU squads won five straight WAC titles.  They lost just six games total in that span against 51 wins.  In 1975, they went a 12-0, capping off the second perfect season under Kush with a win over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

In part because of Kush’s on-field success with the Sun Devils, ASU began play in the then-Pac-12 conference in 1978.

Kush’s tenure at the school ended in controversy, however, as he was fired in the middle of the 1979 season after a player accused the coach of mental and physical abuse in a September lawsuit.  The coach was ultimately fired because the university accused him of hindering the investigation into the allegations.

Suspended Oklahoma DB Will Sunderland now facing felony burglary charge

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Will Sunderland‘s legal issues just got a whole lot more serious.

Earlier this month, an arrest warrant was issued for Sunderland after he allegedly sold stolen property to an Oklahoma City business in mid-March.  At the time, it was believed that the Oklahoma defensive back did not steal the items in question, which included a Playstation 4, controllers and games.

Wednesday, however, Sunderland was charged with felony burglary.  According to both the Norman Transcript and  The Oklahoman, this most recent charge is likely related to Sunderland allegedly stealing electronics from the dorm room of a pair of OU baseball players — that he then sold, leading to the original misdemeanor charge.

The latter newspaper went on to report that there may be video evidence of the incident.

According to the affidavit submitted by OUPD, Sunderland was seen on recorded video using a OneCard Swipe to enter Headington Hall, and his identity was later confirmed by the OneCard Swipe log. Video then shows Sunderland entering the third floor and walking down the hall that also leads to his room. Then, according to the affidavit, Sunderland appears to be walking toward the elevator lobby but is not seen again on the security footage until eight minutes later when he returns to view with a large unidentified object.

Cameras show Sunderland repeating similar actions for about 36 minutes before he is seen carrying a large red bag into an elevator alone. Once outside, cameras show Sunderland placing the red bag in the trunk of a vehicle parked outside Headington Hall. He then returned to Headington Hall with an unidentified male, and 31 minutes later, they exited carrying two white trash bags.

While Sunderland has turned himself in on the misdemeanor charge, he hasn’t as of yet on the felony.

After the misdemeanor charge, Sunderland was indefinitely suspended. What the felony charge does to his status with the football program moving forward remains to be seen.

Last season as a sophomore, Sunderland played in eight games.  This season, Sunderland was expected to stake his claim to one of the starting safety jobs.

‘As of now,’ Alabama transfer Shawn Jennings commits to South Alabama

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It appears that a former Alabama football player will remain in the Yellowhammer State to continue his collegiate playing career.  Probably.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Shawn Jennings had decided to transfer from Alabama.  On his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Jennings revealed that he has committed to playing football for the Sun Belt Conference’s South Alabama.

The linebacker also added a curious “[a]s of now” qualifier, indicating that, at the very least, the commitment could be described as soft at best.

If Jennings ends up on Joey Jones‘ USA team, or any other FBS program for that matter, he’d have to sit out the 2017 season.

A three-star member of the Tide’s 2016 recruiting class, Jennings was rated as the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Alabama.  As a true freshman, he took a redshirt.

Jennings’ older brother, redshirt sophomore Anfernee Jennings, is in line to start at outside linebacker for ‘Bama this season.