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College football reacts to the passing of Joe Paterno

Outback Bowl - Florida v Penn State Getty Images

As expected, the reaction to the passing of Joe Paterno has been swift, expansive and, in some cases, very emotional and heartfelt.

From all across the vast expanses of the college football world, tributes from Paterno’s contemporaries to those who grew up idolizing the coach have poured in, with some of the heaviest hitters in the game offering ofttimes poignant remembrances of the man who was considered a living legend in the game.

Here are but a few of the numerous statements — pay particular attention to the one released by the Ol’ Ball Coach; it’s pretty damn cool — that have been released since Paterno’s death Sunday morning.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Joe Paterno. His passing marks a tremendous loss for Penn State, college football and for countless fans, coaches and student-athletes.  Our condolences go out to the Paterno family and to the entire Penn State community.”

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, from an appearance on ESPN
“It’s just too bad for everyone that someone who had done so much for college football, his legacy would really end. Maybe the message that everyone out there could learn from this is that assistant coaches, players, everybody involved in programs have a responsibility and obligation to do the right things for the institutions, because people remember Joe Paterno as part of this more than they do anyone else.

“That may be the shame of it all. Maybe he made a mistake in how he managed it, but really wasn’t the guy who did the wrongdoing. But all of us need to understand that whatever profession we’re in, sometimes the people in charge can really suffer just as much as the people who made the wrong choices and decisions.”

Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne
“I am saddened to hear the news of Joe Paterno’s passing. Joe was a genuinely good person. Whenever you recruited or played against Joe you knew how he operated and that he always stood for the right things. Of course, his longevity over time and his impact on college football is remarkable. Anybody who knew Joe feels badly about the circumstances. I suspect the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks might have played into it. We offer our condolences to his family and wish them the very best.”

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer
“I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Coach Joe Paterno. He was a man who I have deep respect for as a human being, as a husband and father, as a leader and as a football coach. I was very fortunate to have been able to develop a personal relationship with him, especially over the course of the last several years, and it is something that I will always cherish.

“My prayers and thoughts go out to his wife, Sue, and to their family, and also to the family he had at Penn State University. We have lost a remarkable person and someone who affected the lives of so many people in so many positive ways. His presence will be dearly missed. His legacy as a coach, as a winner and as a champion will carry on forever.”

Texas head coach Mack Brown
“I’ve known Coach Paterno since I started coaching. Sally and I built a great relationship with him and Sue over the last 10 to 15 years, and we shared many great times. I know our lives are better because we had the opportunity to spend time with them. He was a gift to us, and when we heard the sad news today, we both openly wept, not only because college football lost a great man, but we lost a great friend.

“I appreciate all of the advice, the attention and the time he’s given us over the years. We will miss him dearly and will always cherish the wonderful memories. College football will be left with a major void because he has done so much for our game and for Penn State. It’s a very sad day, and with his passing, we have lost one of the greatest coaches our game, and all sports, will ever have. He leaves us with great stories, memories and records that may never be broken. There will never be another Joe Paterno. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue and the family.”

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald
“The legacy of Joe Paterno will be long lasting — not only as a football coach and mentor, but as a family man. For 62 years, Coach Paterno poured his heart and soul into a football program and university, helping countless young men reach their dreams and goals on the football field before moving on to successful careers and lives as adults. It’s hard to fathom the impact that Coach Paterno has had on college football and at Penn State. His insight and wisdom will be missed. We at Northwestern send our condolences to Sue and the Paterno family.”

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
“I have the utmost respect and admiration for Joe Paterno. I’ve coached around 300 college games and only once when I’ve met the other coach at midfield prior to the game have I asked a photographer to take a picture of me with the other coach. That happened in the Citrus Bowl after the ’97 season when we were playing Penn State. I had one of our university photographers take the picture with me and Coach Paterno, and I still have that photo in the den at my house. That’s the admiration I have for Joe Paterno. It was sad how it ended, but he was a great person and coach.”

Former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden
“You can’t ignore the great years he had at Penn State and the great things he did for Penn State. That university is known for Joe Paterno and Sue. It’s just a great tragedy.”

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer
“We have lost someone with great and special talents. He had great and special talent as far as being a leader, which is very obvious by his winning record. And, he had a great and special talent in how he treated people. In my experience with him, he was always charming, gracious and thoughtful. I think he was a great fighter, and I know he fought this illness to the very end. College football will miss Joe Paterno.”

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke
“I am certainly saddened by the news today of Coach Paterno’s passing. College football has lost one of its greatest, a coaching icon. Even though I was just an assistant when our teams faced one another, I feel honored to have shared the field with Joe. His players’ love for him, it shows how he touched their lives and it tells who he was as a man. He will be missed. His mark on Penn State and college football will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joe’s family and friends and the entire Penn State community.”

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez
“Today is a sad day. Joe made a difference. He impacted a lot of people. He made a difference in a community, in a college and in college football. He was truly special and an icon. For someone to continue to do what he did through different generations and for such a long period of time and be effective was amazing. I’ve considered Joe a friend and a mentor. This is sad day for college football and the Penn State community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and the Paterno family.”

Wisconsin head Bret Bielema
“Coach Paterno obviously did so many wonderful things for a number of years, not only with the success of his teams on the field but the number of lives he shaped. I hope people remember his lifetime achievements. From day one, when I joined the head coaching ranks and was fortunate enough to cross paths with him at coaches meetings and various functions, he was always very engaging and complimentary of the way we did things at Wisconsin and how we played. I enjoyed competing with him at every level. Our Badger football family sends our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Penn State community and the Paterno family.”

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio
“On behalf of my immediate family and the Michigan State football family, we express our deepest sympathy to Joe Paterno’s wife Sue, his five children and 17 grandchildren, as well as his extended family, the Penn State football family and the entire State College community.

“Joe dedicated his life to Penn State and college football. He had unparalleled success during his 46 seasons as the head coach at Penn State. Joe was a major player who helped revolutionize the game of college football. In his six-plus decades at Penn State, he influenced and impacted countless numbers of players and people at a championship level.

“Over the past five years, my wife and I have had the privilege of spending time with both Joe and his wife Sue. We appreciated and enjoyed the time spent at our various functions together and will forever remember him as a steward of our profession.”

Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville

“When you think of college football and its tradition, you can’t help but picture those dark glasses, black shoes and plain uniforms that were his style and mark on Penn State University.

“I have had the great fortune to coach against Coach Paterno four times during my career and each time I came away from those contests with a greater understanding of the game of football.  A true highlight of my career, has been a 30-year relationship with Coach and his wife Sue.

“Like many coaches, I grew up watching and learning from one of the greatest tutors and mentors of the game.  I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing and wish to extend my condolences to Sue and the rest of the Paterno family.”

Former West Virginia head coach Don Nehlen
“First of all, my condolences go out to his wife, Sue, and his entire family. Joe Paterno was an icon above icons in the football coaching profession. What he accomplished as a football coach will never ever, ever, be threatened. When you think of a word to describe Joe Paterno and what he did at Penn State, the word unimaginable comes to mind. That a man could give that much of himself to coach football and shape young men’s lives at one school for that many years speaks volumes for what that man is about. He will be very sadly missed as a person, a friend and in the football coaching profession.”

Cal head coach Jeff Tedford
“With the passing of Joe Paterno today, we have not only lost a legendary football coach but a great person who had a tremendous effect on the lives of many people over a long period of time. I’ve always looked up to him and have a great deal of respect for what he accomplished. He also made me feel comfortable coming up through the ranks as a young coach, and I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with him throughout the years. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sue, and the rest of his family. Today, the football community has a heavy heart, and his legacy will be in our minds forever.”

Temple head coach Steve Addazio
“I am very sad to hear the news of Joe Paterno’s passing. He was someone that I had a great deal of respect for, both growing up as a young man and as a football coach. He did so much for college football, athletics as a whole, and education.  The positive influence he had over so many people and what he’s done for collegiate football and athletics will never be duplicated. He will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathies go out to the entire Paterno family and the Penn State community.”

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini
“My condolences go out to Coach Paterno’s family and the Penn State community. I have so much respect for what Coach Paterno accomplished at Penn State both on and off the field. He wasn’t just a legendary coach, but a class individual and his record speaks for itself. I had the honor of getting a few chances to spend time with him since we joined the Big Ten, and those were special opportunities for me as a relatively young head coach in this profession.”

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano
“Joe Paterno embodied the way college football was supposed to be. He educated young men by using the game of football, along with all of its challenges, in preparation for the real world. He was a great thinker, who was never afraid to say and act on what he believed. He leaves a tremendous legacy with the thousands of players and coaches he worked with. I will miss him deeply. My prayers are with Sue and the entire Paterno family.”

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UCLA announces signing of top-ranked QB Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen

With Brett HundleyMyles Jack and company on the field, the present state of UCLA football looks pretty good. And with today’s news, the future looks pretty dang sunny as well.

The Bruins formally announced the signing of quarterback recruit Josh Rosen on Monday afternoon. A five-star recruit if there ever was one, Rosen is the No. 2 ranked player among the Class of 2015 according to Rivals.com, and the nation’s highest rated quarterback. Hailing from St. John Bosco High School and Bellflower, Calif., Rosen has 5,287 career passing yards and 61 touchdowns to his credit. As a junior, the 6-foot-4, pro style signal caller completed nearly 70 percent of his throws for 3,200 yards with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

Rosen guided St. John Bosco to a 16-0 record and a CIF State Open Division Bowl title a year ago, and has his club ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today. But other than that, the kid has nothing going for him.

Rosen is set to join the Bruins at the beginning of the winter quarter, which starts Jan. 2.

With redshirt junior quarterback Brett Hundley figured to accept the riches some NFL team will bestow upon him this spring, Rosen will compete with the blonde locks and late-game heroics of Jerry NeuheiselAsiantii WoulardMike Fafaul and a host of others for the staring role in 2015.

The Bruins also added four-star junior college outside linebacker Takk McKinley on Monday.

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Georgia RB Nick Chubb undergoes thumb surgery

Clemson v Georgia Getty Images

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will have even fewer excuses for not getting the ball to Todd Gurley for the next week or so. Freshman running back Nick Chubb underwent thumb surgery on Monday after suffering an injury during practice last week.

Playing with his left thumb under extra glove and protective wrapping, Chubb toted the rock four times for 34 yards in the 13th-ranked Bulldogs’ 38-35 loss to No. 14 South Carolina.

Chubb’s availability for Saturday’s date with Troy figures to be in doubt, but nothing has been finalized.

“They said they would see how he’s doing (Tuesday) before they make that decision,” his mother, Lavelle Chub, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Possibly this week but they’re not really sure (how long he’ll be out).”

The freshman has splashed on the scene in a loaded backfield through two games, rushing eight times for 104 yards and a touchdown. His 13 yards per carry average places him second nationally.

Georgia hosts Troy on Saturday, and then re-opens SEC play with consecutive home dates against Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

 

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Iowa State OL Jacob Gannon rejoins team after battling anxiety

Jacob Gannon, Christian Dudzik

One of the strangest stories of this young 2014 season has come full-circle in a positive way.

After abruptly leaving the team under uncertain circumstances 11 days ago, Iowa State offensive tackle Jacob Gannon rejoined the team on Monday.

The reason for Gannon’s departure was anxiety, and thankfully his condition is well enough under control that he can return to the club immediately.“I have been recently diagnosed with anxiety,” Gannon said in a statement. “I am receiving treatment for my condition and I am looking forward to being a part of the football team. I want to thank Coach Rhoads and my teammates for their support.”

“We are glad Jacob is back with the Cyclone football family,” added head coach Paul Rhoads. “We are behind Jacob 100 percent and will continue to support him throughout the process.”

Kudos to Gannon for realizing he had an issue, and credit to Iowa State for creating an environment where he can get treatment for an unseen ailment. That’s not always the case in the rah-rah, macho football culture.

Gannon started 13 of his 36 career appearances before leaving the club in the aftermath of the Cyclones’ 34-14 season-opening loss to North Dakota State. He was replaced at right tackle by redshirt freshman Jake Campos.

A three-year letterwinner, Gannon is also a two-time Academic All-Big 12 performer and was honored with a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete award.

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AD Joe Castiglione doubts OU would have taken DGB if available after Ray Rice video release

Oklahoma v Alabama

The release of the Ray Rice video has changed the reality a lot of people live in – including those inside college athletics. If the spotlight was not bright enough on domestic assault – or any other sort of violence – it is now. And that puts Norman, Okla., at the epicenter of the domestic violence issue inside college athletics.

In April, sexual assault allegations against linebacker Frank Shannon came to light. Shannon has since been suspended for the season, a decision which he appealed. In mid-August, freshman running back Joe Mixon was suspended for the season for striking a female and breaking four bones in her face over the summer.

And then there is the case of former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Kicked off the team breaking into a female’s apartment and subsequently pushing her down the stairs, Green-Beckham joined the Sooners in July and is sitting out the 2014 season after his immediate transfer waiver was denied by the NCAA.

Of the three, Green-Beckham’s case has cast the highest scrutiny upon Oklahoma, partly because DGB is the most high-profile player among the group, and partly because Oklahoma accepted him as a transfer and then petitioned for him to play immediately on nebulous grounds. Reached by Sports Illustrated recently, Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione said Green-Beckham more than likely would not be a Sooner if available today – not because of any newfound moral clarity, but simply because Castiglione thinks the case would simply be too hot for Oklahoma to handle.

“If someone presented a case like that now, I think you would be fair to say that he probably wouldn’t be at Oklahoma,” Castiglione said. “Just because of the attention and the cases now in the public consciousness, the university would have been unlikely to take on a situation like that.”

This is an issue that isn’t going away soon for Oklahoma. Shannon maintains his innocence. The media has seen the Mixon incident on video, but the public has not. Recall again how quickly the Rice fiasco engulfed the news cycle once that video went public.

To be fair, Oklahoma is not the only school in college football, not even the only school in its conference, dealing with this issue. And this is college football, after all. There is no doubt to Green-Beckham’s ability to play the game at the highest of levels.

If Oklahoma didn’t take him, someone else would have.

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SMU hires ex-Gator assistant Tim Davis to help coach Mustangs OL

Tim Davis

In a season full of tumult and turmoil, SMU is looking to the outside for help in fixing something on the inside of the football program.

Earlier Monday, SMU interim head coach Tom Mason announced that he has added Tim Davis to his Mustangs coaching staff.  Davis will aid current offensive line coach Wes Saun with that positional group.

Davis brings extensive experience to the squad, especially at the collegiate level.  In a 31-year coaching career, Davis has spent time on coaching staffs at, among other places, Wisconsin, Utah, USC, Alabama and Minnesota.

Davis served as the line coach at Florida for two seasons before being fired shortly after the end of the 2013 regular season.

“I felt like we needed some help there and he can give us some help,” Mason, who took over the program after June Jones abruptly resigned a week ago today, said as his team was coming off a bye this weekend. “He’s an expert at that and he’ll bring a little energy.”

If Davis is going to help SMU’s beleaguered line, he has a tough row to hoe ahead of him.

This season, the Mustangs are 102nd in passing yards per game and dead last in rushing yards with minus-16 — yes, they’ve run for negative yardage this season.  Of SMU’s 39 carries, 24 of them either lost yards (21) or went for no gain (3).  Mustang quarterbacks have been sacked 11 times in just two games.

So, yes, Davis — and the new coaching staff next year — has his work cut out for him.

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Baylor expected to get three WRs back for ISU game

Antwan Goodley Getty Images

Not that it actually needed them, but Baylor was down all four of its leading returning wide receivers from 2013 for last Friday’s 63-12 romp over Buffalo.

For the Bears’ next game, they should be back to near full-strength in the receiving corps.

On his teleconference Monday, head coach Art Briles confirmed that Antwan Goodley (pictured), Corey Coleman and Clay Fuller will play in BU’s next game against Iowa State.  Neither Goodly (quad) nor Coleman (hamstring) nor Fuller (clavicle) have caught a pass this season after combining for 138 receptions last season.  Goodly alone accounted for 71 of those.

There’s no word on when Levi Norwood (47-733-4 in 2013) will return. Two weeks ago, Norwood underwent wrist surgery and was originally scheduled to be out for at least three weeks. That would’ve put him back on the field for the Cyclones game, although that doesn’t appear to be the case as of today.

With all of that experience sidelined, youth has been served for Baylor in the passing game.  True freshman KD Cannon has proven to be one of the early breakout stars in the whole of college football, catching 14 passes for 471 yards and five touchdowns.  The receiving yards lead the FBS, while his receiving scores are tied for second nationally.

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Tide may get starting WR, CB back for Gator game

West Virginia v Alabama Getty Images

The key word in that headline, though, is “may,” especially as it pertains to the latter.

With their SEC opener against looming five days down the road, Nick Saban used part of his allotted time during the SEC coaches teleconference to address the status of a pair of injured starters, wide receiver DeAndrew White and cornerback Jarrick Williams.  Of the two, it appears White is the one closer to a return.

In Alabama’s season-opening win over West Virginia, White suffered what Saban described as a “little separated shoulder.”  The receiver has missed the past two games, but Saban sounded more optimistic than pessimistic that he’ll be available for the Florida game Saturday.

“We’ll see how it goes with him and make a decision later in the week and see if we think he’s able to play,” the coach said.

While Williams will return to practice this week, al.com wrote that Saban “called him a long shot to play against Florida.” Williams played on a broken foot in the opener and, like White, has missed the past two games.

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Rutgers apologizes to Penn State for ‘inappropriate, offensive’ fans

Penn State v Rutgers Getty Images

It appears some of the Rutgers denizens in Piscataway took the “rivalry” aspect of the game against Penn State a little bit too far for the administration’s liking.

In a statement credited to Julie Hermann and sent out Monday morning, the RU athletic director apologized for what she described as the “inappropriate and offensive” signs made and t-shirts worn by Scarlet Knight fans before and during the primetime affair Saturday night. That game marked RU’s first-ever game a against a Big Ten team as a member of that conference, and a record crowd of 53,774 were on hand to witness it. And the debauchery.

Suffice to say, most of what Hermann deemed “inappropriate and offensive” alluded to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal of nearly three years ago.

One of the more salacious photos — we’ll link to it HERE but won’t post it on CFT — shows a certain sex act between what appears to be a stick figure-type young boy and an adult on a Penn State banner. As you would expect, there were the obligatory “Ped State” t-shirts as well. One of those types of t-shirts made a brief appearance on RU’s official Facebook page:

Below is Hermann’s complete statement.

On behalf of Rutgers University and the Athletic Department, we would like to apologize for the regrettable actions of a handful of Rutgers fans on Saturday that do not convey the message of good, competitive spirit that we look forward to having with our new Big Ten rival Penn State University.

Some of the signage and t-shirts that we have been made aware of were both inappropriate and offensive.

I have spoken with and apologized to the Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour and I would like to apologize equally to the Penn State University fans, as well as Rutgers fans that were subjected to this classless display that does not represent the ethos of our university, athletic department or fan base.

The two inappropriate pictures that appeared briefly on our Facebook page as part of a 200-picture montage were immediately removed when we were alerted to their content.

It is unfortunate that the actions of a few spoiled an otherwise historic and recording-setting night that Rutgers fans provided for our first Big Ten football game.

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Foot injury knocks OU RB Keith Ford out 2-3 weeks

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Just as Oklahoma is set to commence Big 12 play in earnest, the unbeaten Sooners have been hit with their first significant obstacle of the 2014 season.

During a Monday teleconference, head coach Bob Stoops revealed that running back Keith Ford is dealing with a foot injury.  Specifically, Ford has a slight fracture in the foot.

As a result, Stoops said, Ford will be sidelined for the next 2-3 weeks.

Such a timeline means Ford will definitely miss this weekend’s road trip to improved West Virginia.  The silver lining for OU is that it has a bye the weekend of Sept. 27 before the Oct. 4 game against TCU, meaning Ford would miss just two games if the pessimistic end of the prognosis comes to fruition.

It should also mean that Ford will definitely be on the field for Oklahoma’s annual rivalry game against Texas Oct. 11.

Ford currently leads the Sooners with 197 yards and five rushing touchdowns.  He’s also the third-leading receiver with 100 yards on six catches, adding in another touchdown through the air for good measure.

The OU ground game will be in good hands in Ford’s absence, with Samaje Perine (177 yards) and Alex Ross (132) more than capable of handling the load.

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Thomas Rawls, CMU’s leading rusher, facing three felony charges

Rawls

Arrest Day at CFT continues unabated, with Central Michigan latest finding itself dealing with a player with an off-field issue.

According to the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, Thomas Rawls was arrested Sunday on three felony warrants: one count of larceny, two counts of stealing credit cards.  The charges stem from an April incident at the Soaring Eagle Casino.

Warrants for Rawls’ arrest were issued in mid-May.

From the Morning Sun’s account of what led to Rawls’ arrest yesterday afternoon:

Video surveillance from the casino shows Rawls entering a casino eatery with two other men, observing an abandoned purse in a chair, and sitting on it, according to an affidavit requesting arrest warrants filed by a Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Police officer.

After sitting on the purse, Rawls hands it to one of his companions, who places it in a bag before the pair leave the casino, the officer said.

The officer said Rawls used a stolen credit card from the purse to buy sub sandwiches at a casino sub shop and the group later bought $33.77 worth of gas with a debit card from the stolen purse.

Despite being caught on tape, Rawls denies the allegations.

Prior to CMU’s game this past Saturday, the football program announced that Rawls would not play against Syracuse. “CMU continues to review an issue that came to our attention Friday,” a release stated in part.

Despite missing one full game, Rawls is far and away the Chips’ leading rusher with 276 yards; Saylor Lavallii is next up with 41 yards. In fact, the rest of Chips combined have rushed for just 67 yards, so Rawls missing any amount of playing time would be a significant development for 2-1 CMU.

At the moment, Rawls is indefinitely suspended from the football team.

In January of this year, Michigan announced that Rawls was one of three Wolverine players released from their scholarships. In early July, Rawls, a graduate transfer, announced that he would be transferring to CMU.

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Miami’s Kevin Olsen charged with DUI

Kevin Olsen

Very early last month it was reported that Kevin Olsen would be suspended for at least one game to start the 2014 season after failing a drug test.

A month and a half later, Olsen finds himself with an even bigger issue, one that puts his future with Miami very much up in the air.

According to multiple media outlets, Olsen was arrested very early Monday morning and charged with driving under the influence.  Olsen was also charged with possession of a stolen or fictitious driver’s license.

There were no details as to what led to the charges.  The school has yet to comment on what if any punishment Olsen may be facing.

Olsen had been involved in the Hurricanes’ quarterback competition throughout the offseason, which was eventually whittled down to Kansas transfer Jake Heaps and true freshman Brad Kaaya.  The latter ultimately won the job.

A four-star member of Miami’s 2013 recruiting class, Olsen was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country.  He’s the younger brother of former Hurricanes standout Greg Olsen.

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UMass likely loses leading rusher for rest of year

Jamal Wilson AP

UMass’ tough loss to Vanderbilt Saturday is looking even tougher in the rear-view mirror.

In the first quarter of what would turn into a 34-31 loss, running back went Jamal Wilson down with what appeared to be an ankle injury.  Wilson was taken off the field on a cart for X-rays, and didn’t return.

According to head coach Mark Whipple, “I think he’s done for the year.”

Whipple didn’t specify the specific nature of the injury, but it’s believed Wilson broke his ankle.

Through a little over two games, Wilson leads the Minutemen with 88 yards rushing. With Wilson out and true freshman J.T. Blyden not healthy enough to return to the playing field, UMass will likely turn to Lorenzo Woodley as the bell cow in the running game.

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Taylor Kelly reportedly expected to miss Pac-12 showdown vs. UCLA

Ken Crawley, Tedric Thompson, Taylor Kelly

We’re still more than 10 days shy of the Pac-12 South Division showdown featuring No. 12 UCLA and No. 15 Arizona State, but the outlook already looks dismal for Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly.

Kelly left Arizona State’s 38-24 win over Colorado on Saturday during during the third quarter after injuring his right foot while moving outside the pocket. He returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter using crutches and in the company of Anikar Chhabra, the team’s orthopedic surgeon, according to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.

Head coach Todd Graham has stated he will not discuss the health of Kelly or linebacker Viliami “Laiu” Moeakiola, who left the game with right arm injury, just that the pair “will be absolutely fine.”

That may be true, eventually, but initial word does not look good regarding Kelly’s availability for the UCLA game. According to Joe Schad of ESPN.com, Arizona State will be without its quarterback of 30 starts and 63 touchdown passes. Kelly had thrown for 195 yards and three touchdowns while adding 70 rushing yards and an additional touchdown before exiting the game.

Schad went on to say that “best case” involves Kelly returning for No. 17 USC on Oct. 4.

Arizona State is entering an absolutely crucial stretch where it faces UCLA, USC and No. 16 Stanford in consecutive games. For better or for worse, the Sun Devils’ season will be set on course following this stretch of upcoming games. The good news? Arizona State (somehow) only plays three games between now and Oct. 18, with two byes in the next four weeks.

There’s no denying, though, that the Sun Devils are a different bunch with Kelly on the sideline. Junior backup Mike Bercovici completed 2-of-4 passes for eight yards in limited action on Saturday night in relief of Kelly. A native of Calabasas, Calif., Bercovici has thrown 24 career passes, completing 14 for 112 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He has a career high of 65 passing yards.

No offense to Bercovici, but Arizona State needs Kelly in the lineup if it wants to defend its Pac-12 South championship.

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Auburn “very optimistic” Sammie Coates will be ready for Thursday at K-State

Sammie Coates

Thursday night offers a delicious appetizer to college football’s weekend menu: No. 5 Auburn at No. 20 Kansas State. It’s a game that provides an interesting and unique challenge for the defending SEC champions, and an opportunity for Kansas State to leap from the fringes to the thick of the College Football Playoff race.

There’s a chance Auburn will be without one of the parts that makes its engine run: big-play wideout Sammie Coates. Coates missed the Tigers’ 59-13 win over San Jose State on Sept. 6.

“Sammie is progressing very well,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee told the Montgomery Advertiser. “We’re still very optimistic he’ll be ready to roll.”

Head coach Gus Malzahn said last week they expect Coates to be ready to play on Thursday.

Coates has one reception for 13 yards in one game this season, but ranked third nationally in yards per reception a year ago after hauling in 42 grabs for 902 yards (21.5 yards per reception) and seven touchdown in Auburn’s run to the BCS title game. He came up big in the Tigers’ biggest games last season, catching four balls for 139 yards against LSU, nabbing five receptions for 104 yards and a score in an important win over Texas A&M, hauling in the game-tying 39-yard touchdown reception against Alabama (better known as the score that set up the score), and caught six passes for 94 yards and a score in the SEC championship defeat of Missouri.

Auburn and Kansas State will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN.

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SEC releases statement, finds nothing wrong with UF-UK overtime non-call

Kentucky v Florida Getty Images

Undoubtedly the most controversial call – or, more accurately, non-call – of Saturday’s action was the fourth-and-seven play in the first overtime of Florida’s defeat of the Kentucky, where the officials allowed the play clock to hit zero without flagging the Gators for a delay of game penalty.

Rather than facing a fourth-and-12 with the game on the line, Florida ran the play, and Jeff Driskel hit Demarcus Robinson for a game-extending touchdown. The Gators would go on to win the contest 36-30 in triple overtime.

See for yourself below:

The SEC reviewed the play and, in a statement released on Sunday, found nothing wrong with back judge Scott Vaughan’s decision making:

“At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving, there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called,” the league said.

When reading an explanation like that, the protocol makes sense. Football is not basketball, where buzzers and red lights can notify officials and everyone inside an arena when the clock has expired. Without the ability to watch the play clock and the ball simultaneously, giving the center those fractions of a second it takes the back judge to alter his gaze from the play clock to the ball to snap the ball makes sense.

If I’m Mark Stoops today, my real frustration is the policy that a potential play clock violation is somehow not reviewable. If millions of dopes on Twitter can see a play did not get off in time, a replay official can as well.

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