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

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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.

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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.

Wazzu statement: ‘The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinksi is devastating to all’

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Tuesday night, the Pullman Police Department confirmed that 21-year-old Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  Very early Wednesday morning, the football program and athletic department released statements addressing the devastating developments.

HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MIKE LEACH
We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

INTERIM ATHLETIC DIRECTOR John Johnson
The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

Earlier tonight, the football team was brought together and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor, along with WSU Athletics medical team. The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed.

Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski found dead in apparent suicide

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There is utterly tragic and horrific news coming out of Pullman Tuesday night.

According to the Pullman Police Department, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead at his apartment late Tuesday afternoon of what was described as an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. “A rifle was discovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found,” the police stated in a release.

Police officers were called to the residence at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:40 p.m. local time) for a wellness check after the redshirt sophomore failed to show up for a team activity earlier in the day.

Hilinski was just 21 years old.

As of this posting, there’s been no official response from the football program regarding the passing of Hilinski.  Wednesday, the university had been expected to announce the new athletic director replacing Bill Moos, Florida Atlantic’s Pat Chun; because of the football player’s death, that press conference will be rescheduled for a later date.

In place of Luke Falk, Hilinski started Wazzu’s Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State.  With Falk off to the NFL, Hilinski was expected to be the Cougars’ starting quarterback in 2018.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Hilinski’s way-too-early passing.

Former Nebraska OL coach Mike Cavanaugh hired by Syracuse

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Dino Babers has added a very experienced trenchman to his Syracuse coaching staff.

The school confirmed Tuesday that Babers has hired Mike Cavanaugh as his next offensive line coach. In a coaching career that spans 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has been a line coach in some form or fashion for 31 of them.

“Mike has an outstanding track record of teaching and developing quality offensive linemen,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s done it successfully at every level in college as well as the pros. This was an opportunity to add someone whose knowledge and experience will greatly enhance our staff and benefit our players.”

The past three seasons, Cavanaugh was the line coach at Nebraska. At the FBS level, he’s also served as a line coach at Oregon State (2005-14) and Hawaii (1999-2004).

From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

“I’d like to thank Coach Babers for this opportunity and for welcoming me into the Syracuse family,” Cavanaugh said. “He and his staff have coached some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I’m excited to learn from them and to be part of the championship-caliber program they are building at Syracuse.”

The 2018 season will mark the first time since 2004 Cavanaugh is not a part of a Mike Riley-coached staff.

Kevin Stepherson one of four dismissed by Notre Dame

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At least in South Bend, Kevin Stepherson‘s freefall is complete.

According to 247Sports.com, Stepherson, along with three other Notre Dame football players — sophomore running backs CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh as well as junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum — have been dismissed from the Fighting Irish program.  No specific reason or reasons for the dismissals were given.

Stepherson was one of four Irish players who were suspended for the team’s Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU, with the wide receiver’s suspension stemming from a handful of off-field issues.

Dec. 15, Stepherson was arrested for shoplifting.  The day before that arrest, Stepherson was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with marijuana possession, driving without a valid license and speeding (he was clocked doing 80 in a 60 mph zone). To make matters worse, at the time of his twin arrests the receiver was already on probation for a marijuana-related arrest in August of 2016.

Adding to the off-field issues, Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for reasons unrelated to the arrest in August of 2016.

At the time of the second suspension, Stepherson led the Fighting Irish in receiving touchdowns with five and yards per catch at 18.9 despite missing one-third of the regular season because of the first suspension.  His 19 receptions and 359 receiving yards were both good for third on the team.

Another of the players who were dismissed, Holmes, was arrested along with Stepherson in the shoplifting incident.  Holmes ran for 32 yards on eight carries this season.

McIntosh was the fourth of the four players suspended for the bowl game.  At the time of his suspension, McIntosh was third on the team in rushing with 368 yards and five touchdowns.

Tiassum played very sparsely this past season, and wasn’t looking at much more playing time in 2018.