College football reacts to the passing of Joe Paterno

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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.”

Camrin Knight transferring from Florida to Georgia State

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For the second time this week, one Sun Belt Conference program has apparently landed a Power Five transfer.

Per a report from 247Sports.com, Camrin Knight has decided to transfer out of the Florida football program. The Gainesville Sun subsequently confirmed the initial report.

The recruiting website also reported that Knight will be transferring to Georgia State. Earlier this week, it was also reported that South Carolina’s Pete Leota would be transferring to GSU as well.

Barring something unexpected, Knight will be forced to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws.

A three-star 2015 recruit, Knight played in eight games as a true freshman tight end. His playing time was cut exactly in half last season, and he moved to linebacker this past spring.

Nebraska linebacker Greg Simmons leaves the Huskers

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It has been a busy day for Nebraska football news here at College Football Talk, but here’s one more story to fill your plate. Redshirt freshman linebacker Greg Simmons is no longer with the Nebraska program, according to reports.

Sean Callahan of Huskers Online reported Simmons has left the football team, as confirmed by a Nebraska spokesperson. No reason for his departure was given.

Simmons did not play for Nebraska in 2016, in part due to a neck injury suffered in fall camp. After the spring practice season, Simmons was buried on the depth chart. Simmons was a three-star member of Nebraska’s Class of 2016 and chose the Huskers over offers from schools like Louisville, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, among others.

As of now, there is no indication where the Florida native will head next. Should he transfer to another FBS program, he will be required to sit out the 2017 season even though he did not play a down for the Huskers in 2016. However, if he transfers to a lower division program beneath the FBS ranks, he will be eligible to play right away in the fall. Simmons has three years of eligibility remaining after burning a redshirt season in 2016.

Clemson’s championship team leads to multiple ESPY nominations

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The ESPYS are coming. ESPN’s annual summer tradition of showering star athletes with Hollywood praise is coming in July, and fans now have a chance to vote for their picks in multiple categories. As is typically the case, the reigning national champions tend to be well-represented.

The Clemson Tigers appear multiple times among the finalists for various ESPY awards. Former quarterback Deshaun Watson, now with the NFL’s Houston Texans, is one of four finalists for the Best Championship Performance award. Despite passing for 420 yards and three touchdowns without an interception and running for 43 yards and a score against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last January, Watson is up against some stiff competition in the category. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, and Los Angeles Sparks player Candace Parker are the other finalists. Topping Brady or Durant may prove difficult for Watson considering the pedigree each of those two have. A player competing in the NBA Finals has won the award each of the past four seasons (three of them won by LeBron James). The only college football player to win the award was former Texas quarterback Vince Young in 2006 following his performance in the Rose Bowl against USC. Watson’s performance against Alabama was about as close to Young’s Rose Bowl as you can get, so maybe there is a chance.

Watson may stand a better chance of being named the Best Male College Athlete. He is the only college football player in the running and may have the most well-known name recognition across the nation compared to the others in contention, although Kansas basketball player Frank Mason could stand a chance.

Clemson’s victory over Alabama is also one of three finalists for Best Upset. The only other finalists for the award are the Mississippi State women’s basketball team upsetting the UConn women in the women’s Final Four and Denis Istomin toppling Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open. Clemson has a chance here, although the UConn women losing was a stunner. No college football game is up for Best Game despite a thrilling national championship game and a Rose Bowl for the ages. But then again, it’s hard to argue against Game 7 of the World Series and the Super Bowl, with a Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal Australian Open Final coming out as the three finalists.

Clemson is also up for Best Team, but against the Chicago Cubs, Warriors, Pittsburgh Penguins, Patriots, South Carolina women’s basketball and the United States women’s gymnastics team. It’s a loaded field.

Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is in the hunt for an ESPY though. His hurdle of a defender is in a tournament-style bracket of 16 plays for the Best Play ESPY. Given the No. 14 seed, Jackson is up against a pass by Aaron Rogers to Jared Cook that led to a playoff victory against the Dallas Cowboys, so once again it looks like a tough draw. Here’s the Jackson hurdle against Syracuse…

The ESPYS will air on Wednesday, July 12.

Vince Dooley says he would not have fired Mark Richt at Georgia

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There was a bit of a shock when Georgia decided to move on from former head football coach Mark Richt last year. Richt had been a model of consistency in a profession that sees that becoming more and more a rarity and he did so in a conference bubbling with as much pressure as any conference has from top to bottom. Regardless, it was time to try something new if the goal was to get Georgia over the hump of being a perennial SEC East Division contender and more of an annual SEC championship and College Football Playoff contender.

If the decision were up to him, former Georgia head coach Vince Dooley says he would not have fired Richt. This is something you might expect to hear from the man who brought Richt to Georgia in the first place.

“He had to make to real tough decision in changing coaches,” Dooley said to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, referring to Georgia Athletics Director Greg McGarity and the decision to fire Richt. “Mark Richt, I hired him and, well, you have this loyalty when you hire someone that you’re going to go the extra mile. If I’d have been the athletic director, I probably would have sat down with Mark and said ‘next year is very important,’ and I probably would’ve gone another year with him.”

That’s fair, of course. But it is also worth noting Richt had plenty of time to win more at Georgia and was never able to prove he could for one reason or another. At least, not to the extent others in the SEC have raised the bar during Richt’s tenure. Keep in mind how many SEC programs won SEC titles and national titles during Richt’s tenure at Georgia (Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Nick Saban among them). With all of the resources and the talent pool to recruit from available, it is easy to argue Richt should have accomplished more on the field than he ultimately did. That is not to suggest Richt was a failure at Georgia overall, because that simply would not be true at all. But when you have to compare rings, Georgia was lacking in one critical department.

And don’t think that Dooley is against current Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. On the contrary, Dooley is very optimistic and positive about Smart as the head coach of the Bulldogs.

“He’s got a great background,” Dooley said. “He knows what it takes in this league. He’s a Georgia man. He played here but then he had his training under a guy who is a proven success in Nick Saban. He’s got a good staff and the recruiting has been great. So I really think that the future is really bright.

Richt didn’t take long to land on his feet once being released by Georgia. Richt was named the head coach at Miami and is already building the Hurricanes up the way he did with Georgia. Entering the 2017 season, Miami appears to be trending upward, and we’ll see if they can keep that theme going for an entire season. In the meantime, we’ll keep dreaming about the possible collision course Richt thinks Miami and Georgia are on.