Update: Jim Tressel named Akron’s ‘VP of Strategic Engagement’

18 Comments

UPDATED 11:21 a.m. ET: Following up on the news that broke late Wednesday night, Akron announced the hiring of Jim Tressel as its “Vice President for Strategic Engagement”.  The release issued by the school stated that it’s a newly-created position that will be utilized in support of programs that promote student success.

“I have great memories of my time at UA and, more importantly, I feel a real sense of family when I’m on this campus,” Tressel, a UA graduate, said in a statement. “I am inspired by the vision of President Proenza.  I admire what he, the leadership team and the faculty have accomplished over the last decade to build the reputation of the University and lay a strong foundation for student success.  I’m looking forward to being part of the spirit of innovation that drives the University of Akron.”

UPDATED 8:34 a.m. ET: Akron has confirmed in a press release that it will hold a 10 a.m. ET press conference featuring school president Luis Proenza and former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.  The release did not state specifically what the presser was regarding, although it’s expected it will be announced that Tressel has been hired for a non-athletic administrative position.

A television station in the Cleveland area is reporting that Tressel will be hired as some type of vice president and his contract will be in the neighborhood of $200,000 per year.

______________________________

Over the weekend, a Twitter “report” surfaced that former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is interested in going back to the collegiate level — at Ohio St. or somewhere else — in an administrative capacity.

Based on another report, that could very well come to fruition sooner rather than later.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tressel has been in discussions with the University of Akron regarding an administrative position with the school.  The Plain Dealer states that an announcement of Tressel’s hiring by the NE Ohio school could take place as early as Thursday.

In a statement, the university did nothing to shoot down the speculation.  In fact, they added more fuel to the speculative fire.

“When Jim Tressel and other alumni assisted us in our search for a football coach last December, we began to engage in dynamic conversations about Jim’s professional goals outside of athletics,” the unattributed statement read. “We share a common interest in innovative programs for student success. Our discussions continue.”

There was no detail provided as to whether the administrative position would be inside or outside of the Zips athletic department.  Tom Wistrcill was hired as Akron’s athletic director in August of 2009, and has been considered to be by and large a success during his brief tenure.

Since retiring/resigning/being fired as Ohio State’s head coach last memorial Day weekend, Tressel served as a game-day instant replay advisor for the Indianapolis Colts.  He was interviewed — twice — for the NFL club’s head coaching vacancy earlier this year, but lost out on the job to Chuck Pagano.

He had also been rumored as a potential head coaching candidate for the Zips before the school hired Terry Bowden.

The paper also reported that Tressel was being considered for administrative leadership posts at Baldwin Wallace College and Wittenberg University. BW was where his father Lee Tressel became an Ohio small college coaching legend.

Division II, Division III and NAIA title games set while FCS heads into semifinals

Getty Images
1 Comment

Outside of a thrilling Army-Navy game and the Heisman ceremony, it was an empty Saturday at the highest level of college football.

But no so at the lower levels.

The divisional playoffs are cranked into high gear. Let’s take a brief look at where everything stands in each division.

FCS

Top-seeded and defending champion James Madison needed a last-second field goal to survive visiting Weber State, 31-28, on Friday night, while No. 5 seed South Dakota State routed New Hampshire, 55-14.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed and winner of five of the last six national titles North Dakota State walloped Wofford, 42-10 in Fargo. No. 6 seed Sam Houston State outlasted upstart Kennesaw State, 34-27, to send the Bearkats into their fifth semifinal game in the last seven years.

Semifinals: No. 5 South Dakota State at No. 1 James Madison — 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPNU; No. 6 Sam Houston State at No. 2 North Dakota State — 8 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN2.

Division II

No. 4 seed West Florida traveled north and upset top-seeded Indiana (Pa.), 27-17 on Saturday, to send the Argonauts into their first championship game. No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Commerce fended off the option attack of No. 3 Harding (Ark.), 31-17, putting the Lions in their first title game as well.

National championship: No. 2 Texas A&M-Commerce vs. No. 4 West Florida — 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Division III

In a similar dynamic to FCS, the defending champion is on a collision course with the traditional champion. In the first semifinal, defending champion Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) blanked Brockport (N.Y.), 24-0. The Crusaders will make their third trip to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, looking to win their second title.

In the other semifinal, Mount Union (Ohio) overcame a 21-10 deficit to beat Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 43-40. The Purple Raiders will play in their 20th Stagg Bowl — all of them coming since 1993, and 19 of them since ’96 — with a shot at their 13th national championship. However, Mount Union has won just — “just” — two national championships since 2009.

National championship: Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) vs. Mount Union (Ohio) — 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN at Salem Stadium in Salem Va.

NAIA

The NAIA was off this weekend, taking a break in between last week’s semifinals and Saturday’s national championship. Defending champion Saint Francis (Ind.) out-gunned previously-undefeated Morningside (Iowa) 43-36 in the first semifinal, while Reinhardt (Ga.) held off undefeated Southern Oregon, 37-34 in double overtime.

National championship: Saint Francis (Ind.) vs. Reinhardt (Ga.) — 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN3 at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Minnesota lands commitment from 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle

Getty Images
1 Comment

P.J. Fleck is going to need a bigger boat.

Minnesota has landed a commitment from the largest recruit on record, as 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle Daniel Faalele has committed to the Gophers. Faalele made the announcement on his Twitter page on Saturday night.

A 3-star recruit, Faalele is rated as the No. 29 offensive tackle in the country, according to 247Sports. He listed 20 offers, including from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and LSU.

As the story goes, Faalele did not find football; football found him. He was discovered by a recruiter from Hawaii working out at a gym in his native Melbourne, Australia. He attended a Michigan satellite camp in Australia and played this season — his first season in pads — at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

In making the trip from the Land Down Under to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Faalele will be joined by a pair of IMG Academy teammates in offensive lineman Curtis Dunlap, Jr., and quarterback Zack Annexstad, who also committed to Minnesota on Saturday.

Those pledges now give Minnesota the 26th best recruiting class in the country and the sixth best in the Big Ten — but the No. 1 class in the Big Ten West — in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Minnesota’s class may not be the best in the country, but it’s among the biggest — both in size (the Gophers have 25 pledges thus far) and stature.

Texas A&M suspends DT Zaycoven Henderson amid felony gun charges

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Texas A&M defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson was suspended amid multiple felony charges on Saturday.

As detailed by Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News, witnesses say Henderson pointed a rifle at one person outside College Station’s Campus Village Apartments and threatened to kill two others and allegedly threw the gun out of a fleeing car as police arrived on the scene. The car was later tracked down by College Station officers, who discovered marijuana in the car.

He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and marijuana possession. The first charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in a prison. The second is a third-degree felony and the third is a misdemeanor.

He was booked into the Brazos County (Texas) jail at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Texas A&M has suspended Henderson indefinitely, which really only lasts one game as the senior from Longview, Texas, was set to close his Aggies career in the Belk Bowl against Wake Forest on Dec. 29 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Henderson made 35 tackles with five TFLs and 2.5 sacks in 12 starts this season. He was honored as a member of Texas A&M’s senior class at the annual team banquet earlier this weekend.

UCLA reportedly hires Paul Rhoads as defensive backs coach

Getty Images
1 Comment

Chip Kelly has reportedly hired one of the most respected men in the business to his staff. According to a report from Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman, Paul Rhoads is on his way to Westwood to coach UCLA’s defensive backs.

Rhoads spent the past two seasons at Arkansas, the first as defensive backs coach and the second as defensive coordinator in addition to his duties with the secondary. He’s best known, of course, for his 7-year run as the head coach at Iowa State, where he took the Cyclones to three bowl games and created this viral moment before any of us knew what “going viral” went.

In addition to Arkansas, Rhoads also owns defensive experience at Auburn, Pittsburgh, Iowa State, Pacific, Ohio State and Utah State.

UCLA finished last season ranked 74th in pass efficiency defense, yielding a 57.1 percent completion rate for 7.3 yards per attempt with seven interceptions against 18 touchdowns.