UCLA seniors decide to ‘go over the wall’, ditch practice

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I’m all for traditions. They’re why I love college athletics far more than professional sports.

But what UCLA seniors voted on Tuesday is downright wrong and unacceptable.

The “tradition” — it’s been an off and on affair for the better part of 30 years, so it’s acceptable to question using the term at all — is known as going “over the wall.” Or, skipping practice after warm-ups.

It doesn’t sound like a tradition, just laziness disguised. Like using Axe Body Spray in lieu of showering. Even Allen Iverson had to think it was messed up.

It was the seniors’ decision,” said junior running back Johnathan Franklin. “We’re going to get together for a team activity.”

Make no mistake, Franklin was against the idea. Quarterback Kevin Prince called the move “disappointing.”

“Hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite us,” Prince said.

They weren’t the only ones. Defensive coordinator Joe Tresey was irate. Safety Dalton Hilliard walked off the practice field in disgust.

New coach Jim Mora? Yeah, he wasn’t pleased either.

“It’s completely unacceptable and it will not be part of the program going forward,” Mora said in a statement. “It’s a privilege not a right to play football for the UCLA Bruins. With the commitment you make when you sign on to play here, comes a commit to do whats asked of you buy your coaches on a daily basis. I can just tell you, in no uncertain terms, that that tradition will no longer be a part of tradition going forward. Dan Guerrero and I have spoken about it, and we both agree that the culture of UCLA football needs to change as part of the interview process. We’re going to do all we can to make sure we change it.”

Remember, this is a program that applied for a bowl waiver from the NCAA because their 6-7 record would normally make them ineligible for the postseason… and they got it.

So, to the Bruins who endorsed going “over the wall”: maybe you didn’t earn your expense checks after all.

Think Willie Taggart and Western Kentucky, or Pete Lembo and Ball State, would allow their kids to miss a practice so they could see a movie? I know “Mission: Impossible 3” looks awesome and all, but it can wait. Where’s the senior pride? If you’re going to lose money playing in a lower-tier bowl (the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) against another team (Illinois) that probably shouldn’t be bowling either, the least you can do is act like it means something to you.

Those who approved going over the wall haven’t earned the luxury of employing this so-called tradition. Not with their record. Not when they lost their last two games by a combined 68 points. Not when they already quit against Arizona. Not when there are two other teams who want to be in UCLA’s shoes.

It shouldn’t be a tradition at all. All it does is promote another tradition the Bruins have practiced for the better part of 30 years.

Underachieving.

After leaving Miami, Darrion Owens lands at Houston

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Nearly three weeks after leaving Miami, Darrion Owens has found himself a new college football home.

Friday, Houston confirmed that it was officially added Owens to second-year head coach Major Applewhite‘s roster.  As the linebacker joins the Cougars as a graduate transfer from The U, he can immediately bolster UH’s defense in 2018.

This coming season marks the Florida native’s final season of eligibility.

Owens joined the Hurricanes as a three-star 2014 recruit.  247Sports.com had him rated as the No. 30 outside linebacker in the country.

After playing in 12 games as a true freshman, Owens opened 2015 as a starter but suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 2.  The past two seasons, Owens played in 25 games. In 13 games in 2017, he was credited with 35 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.

In announcing Owens’ transfer from The U, head coach Mark Richt stated that, after the two had talked, “he informed me that he feels his best opportunity to get the most playing time would be at another school.”

RB Tre Watson leaving Cal as grad transfer

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Cal lost one of their top running backs to a season-ending injury last year.  Now, they’ve lost him for good.

Tre Watson took to Twitter late Friday night to announce that, “after many months of discussion with my family and lots of prayers,” he has decided to transfer from the Bears.  He will be pursuing a master’s degree elsewhere, meaning he can play for another FBS school in 2018.

The upcoming season will be Watson’s final year of collegiate eligibility.

In a Week 2 win over Weber State this past season, Watson sustained a serious knee injury and didn’t play the rest of the year.  Prior to the injury, Watson’s 83 yards in less than five quarters worth of work this season were leading the team.

In 2016, Watson was second on the Bears in rushing yards with 709 and led the team with four rushing touchdowns.  he finishes the Cal portion of his playing career with 1,390 yards and eight touchdowns on 274 carries.

Frisman Jackson hired as Baylor’s WRs coach

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Matt Rhule has officially been reunited with one of his former assistant coaches.

Baylor Friday confirmed that Rhule has hired Frisman Jackson to be his next wide receivers coach.  In 2015 and 2016, Jackson served as Rhule’s receivers coach and passing-game coordinator at Temple.

This past season, Jackson was the receivers coach for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

“We are blessed to get Fris fresh off a successful playoff run at Tennessee,” Rhule said in a statement. “After having worked with him before, I know there is no one better suited to take our receivers group to the next level. His experience as both a college and pro player and coach gives him a unique perspective on developing our young men as elite football players, great students and quality men. His ability to teach and develop receivers is second to none. We are excited to welcome Fris, Lindsey, Anya and Forrest to the Baylor family.”

Jackson, who spent six seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver, has previously spent time on FBS coaching staffs at North Carolina State (2013-14), Northern Illinois (2012) and Akron (2010-11).  At each of those stops, Jackson was a receivers coach.

“I’m very excited to be back with Coach Rhule,” Jackson said. “I had a great time working with him at Temple. He’s a smart coach, he’s a fair coach and he’s a true family guy. I know he is going to do things the right way.

“Getting back with coaches I have worked with before makes the transition easy and smooth. Those two years at Temple were some of my best years as a coach. We had a great run and I’m looking forward to doing the same things at Baylor.”

Illinois DT Tito Odenigbo reportedly transferring to Miami

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Miami lost a pair of underclassmen starting defensive tackles to the NFL draft, putting a serious dent in the interior of its line.  A couple of weeks later, however, it appears The U has somewhat softened that early-entry blow.

247Sports.com reported Friday that Tito Odenigbo has decided to transfer from Illinois to Miami.  As Odenigbo would be coming to the Hurricanes as a graduate transfer, he would be able to play immediately for the ACC team in 2018.

The upcoming season would be the defensive tackle’s final year of eligibility.

This past season, Odenigbo started four of the 10 games he played for the Illini, and his 4½ tackles for loss were tied for second on the team in 2017.  All told, Odenigbo played in 21 games at Illinois, starting five of those contests.

Prior to the NFL’s deadline, tackles RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton confirmed that they would be leaving Miami early for the NFL draft.