- Jerry Sandusky passed on the Temple coaching job? The Owls dodged one there.
- The halo over Joe Paterno‘s head on a mural has been removed. Here’s a picture.
- Obviously, the Freeh report has dominated Penn State headlines, but the annual Lift For Life did raise over $100,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association.
- Spencer Hall and SB Nation take on the Big 12. If you need to laugh — and judging by many of the comments over the past 48 hours, I would say that’s an affirmative — I would recommend clicking the link.
- Frank Beamer lost 32 pounds? Good for him.
Saturday offseason one-liners
This past December, J.C. Jackson was the alleged victim of a crime. Four months later, he’s one of the perpetrators of a crime — allegedly.
WJXT-TV in Jacksonville is reporting Sunday morning that Jackson was arrested Saturday in connection to an armed home invasion robbery. According to the television station, Jackson turned himself in to face the charge, the specific nature of which was not specified in the report.
The incident that led to the cornerback’s arrest occurred shortly after 4 p.m. ET yesterday. Essentially, Jackson (allegedly) setup an acquaintance and his home to be robbed by two armed individuals, and then very quickly exited stage left.
The other two suspects are still at large. UF officials have yet to comment on what impact the arrest will have on Jackson’s status with the football program moving forward.
In the December incident, Jackson and West Virginia wide receiver Jacky Marcellus were both grazed by bullets in a shooting that happened outside of an Immokalee, Fla., apartment building. A third individual, the brother of Marcellus, was shot in the face but survived.
A four-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, Jackson was rated as the No. 21 corner in the country; the No. 37 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 243 recruit overall by Rivals.com. He played in the 2014 opener, but missed the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Exiting the spring, Jackson was expected to take a starting job into summer camp.
(Photo credit: Vic Micolucci‘s Twitter account)
UPDATED 11:42 a.m. ET: According to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Edgar Thompson, Jackson was charged with suspicion of armed robbery and is being held in Alachua County Jail on a $150,000 bond.
UPDATED 12:07 p.m. ET: First-year head coach Jim McElwain released the following statement regarding Jackson’s latest issue.
“We are aware of the news involving JC Jackson and he is currently dealing with a serious issue. We don’t condone any of his actions and it is not something that reflects on the expectations we have in the program. It is being handled accordingly due to the severity of his actions.”
Travonte Valentine didn’t suit up for LSU last season because of academic issues. Depending on how the current situation plays out, he may never play a down for the Tigers because of similar issues.
Saturday, head coach Les Miles confirmed that the defensive tackle has been suspended from the football program because of academics. Valentine has not participated at all during spring practice this year, so the suspension was an open secret that was finally acknowledged by the coach.
As for a return? That’s up to Valentine and his work in the classroom.
“We’ve instructed him to go to this school, go to class, take care your business, Miles said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If he does that and handles behavior then there will be a future for him here. Otherwise, we’re not certain.”
Last year, Valentine dealt with NCAA Clearinghouse issues — the player said another SEC program was the root cause — that forced him to miss the start of summer camp his true freshman season. While he was ultimately cleared to practice, he was not permitted to play in any games because of the lingering academic issues.
A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, Valentine was rated as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Florida. He had been expected to be an immediate contributor to LSU’s line rotation.
If he can get his academic house in order, he could make an impact as a redshirt freshman in 2015.
(Photo credit: LSU athletics)
Coming off a successful postseason, the Big Ten now has something else to be proud of. When the spring football attendance numbers are finalized in the coming weeks, the odds are pretty good the top three spring attendance crowds will all come from the Big Ten.
Ohio State set the bar as high as possible by setting a spring game record with 99,391 Buckeye fans packing Ohio Stadium for the annual spring game on Saturday. That is not just an Ohio State record either. That is the national spring game record. That number surpassed the previous high this spring by Nebraska (76,881 fans). Before the day was done Penn State reported an estimated crowd of 68,000 in Beaver Stadium for the Blue White Game. Those numbers are good for the three highest spring crowds this year, and it might be enough to hold up for one more week..
The biggest threat to cracking the top three before the month is over might be Tennessee. The Vols had 68,500 fans at the spring game in 2014, which would be good enough to pass Penn State for third overall this year. Given the excitement surrounding the upward trend in Knoxville, there might be enough orange in Neyland Stadium to do just that.
Other schools still to play spring games from power conferences include Arkansas, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa, UCLA, Utah Washington and Washington State, but the odds are none of those programs will manage to pull a crowd quite large enough. Wisconsin is also still on the schedule for next week, but the Badgers had just over 8,000 fans come to the final spring practice last spring.
Alabama (65,175) and Auburn (62,143) each had huge crowds but threats of inclement weather may have kept a few fans away from each respective spring game. Either way, the two Iron Bowl rivals round out the current top five in spring attendance. Michigan (60,000) follows for another Big Ten attendance mark.
No other school has reported a crowd over 49,000 this spring.
Here is the current numbers…
Ask anyone who watched Auburn the biggest need of improvement from 214, and the answer might be the defense. Auburn’s defense is on the right track in a hurry with Will Muschamp taking over as defensive coordinator. The spring game was the latest example of that defense turning a corner.
Since Gus Malzahn has been named head coach at Auburn a couple of years ago, this was the lowest scoring spring game for the Tigers. Credit that to Muschamp getting to work early with the Tigers defense and making some changes. He also brings some energy to the defense, something he has been noted for throughout his coaching career.
“They’re flying around,” Malzahn said. “They’re playing hard.”
“Everybody loves Coach Muschamp,” defensive tackle Montravius Adams said after the game, per Al.com. “He’s bringing that energy and changing the question to the whole defense, so we’re going to be a top contender.”
It was just a spring game, but Auburn is feeling more comfortable on defense. They have a defensive coordinator who can cook up some good schemes and have his players buy in. It’s working, and that could be huge if Auburn is going to make some things happen in 2015.
The other side of the Auburn conversation is who replaces Nick Marshall at quarterback? After the spring game it looks as though the answer is more and more likely to be Jeremy Johnson. In fact, let’s put him atop the depth chart for the summer now. Johnson completed 14-of-22 passes for 252 yards with a pair of long touchdowns to Duke Williams and Myron Burton.
“I thought Jeremy did some good things,” Malzahn said. “He has really good command of our offense. He probably held the ball a little too long a couple of throws, but, overall, I thought he did a good job.”
Auburn opens the 2015 season in Atlanta against Louisville in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on September 5.
This spring Alabama’s offense, more specifically the quarterbacks, have been focusing on avoiding turnovers. If the spring game is to serve as a litmus test for the progress being made, Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin have some work to do if the Crimson Tide are going to be SEC and College Football Playoff contenders in 2015.
Alabama’s offense had six turnovers in the spring game Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Jake Coker, who some pumped up as Alabama’s likely starter a season ago, went just 14 for 28 with one touchdown (a long pass to ArDarius Stewart) and an interception. Redshirt freshman David Cornwell was not all tat much better, going 12 for 24 with 110 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. So it looks as though Alabama is heading into the summer with a quarterback situation to sort through. This is not totally unexpected, although it would have been nice if either Coker or Cornwell could have elevated themselves and created some separation in the spring game.
It was not all bad of course. Receivers Stewart (6 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD) and Robert Foster (8 receptions, 118 yards, 2 TDs) had solid outings even if the quarterbacks were not particularly sharp. Alabama’s defense seemed to be in good form, and more than capable of taking advantage of an unsteady quarterback situation on the other side of the ball. Reuben Foster was playing nickel, which Saban has said he’s been doing all spring. Foster also played with some more maturity, according to Saban. Five different players in Alabama’s secondary recorded an interception.
Fortunately, the season does not start tomorrow, or next week. Saban referred to the spring game as a mid-term exam, which leaves plenty of time for the Alabama offense to bring its grade up before opening the new season of what will surely be high with expectations after a second straight season ending in a postseason loss.
Alabama saw a crowd of 65,175 fans come to Bryant-Denny Stadium. Weather may have kept some away from the game. Regardless, the Crimson Tide will likely lock in with the fourth-highest spring attendance this year. Ohio State smashed the competition with a new spring game record, Nebraska is holding firm with the second highest crowd and Penn State edged Alabama’s crowd on Saturday.
Alabama opens the 2015 season against Wisconsin in the Cowboy Classic in Arlington, Texas on September 5.
If there is one thing Texas head coach Charlie Strong needs at Texas, it is probably Teddy Bridgewater. Unfortunately for Strong, that is not an option. Strong is looking to find the next best thing at Texas. Whether or not that turns out to be Tyrone Swoopes remains to be seen, but he is currently the number one quarterback for Strong heading out of the spring.
“Ty is still the No. 1 guy at this moment,” Strong said after the Texas spring game Saturday afternoon in Austin. Swoopes is in a quarterback competition with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. If Strong’s comments carry weight, the thought of opening the season on the road at Notre Dame for a primetime game with Heard is not something that will allow him to feel comfortable.
“I hope I don’t have to go into that game starting a redshirt freshman,” Strong said. So there you have it. This is where the Texas quarterback situation stands as spring comes to a close.
Swoopes was the top passer for Texas last season, but the consistency was always a bit of a concern. While passing for 2,409 yards and 13 touchdowns, Swoopes did so while completing just 58.3 percent of his passes and being picked off 11 times. Heard could eventually take over the offense if things start slowly for Swoopes and Texas in the fall, but it sure seems as though Strong is not ready to hand the offense over to him at this point in time.
At one point during the spring game Saturday afternoon Swoopes got a little too much air under a pass that went out of play. The football hit a kid, which led Strong to send Swoopes over to apologize. It should also be noted that Strong does feel Heard has started to give Swoopes a run for the job.
“It’s going to be fun going into the summer with those two guys battling it out.”
You could not have asked for much more from Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott in the spring game in Starkville Saturday afternoon. The potential Heisman Trophy contender capped the spring with 231 passing yards, three touchdowns while completing 20 of 29 pass attempts before being given a break by head coach Dan Mullen.
A handful of schools going through spring games on Saturday have quarterback competitions and debates brewing, but that is far from the case at Mississippi State. There it is clearly Prescott’s job and nobody is aiming to take it away. Prescott emerged as a top player in the SEC while leading Mississippi State to a number one ranking at one point en route to an appearance in the Orange Bowl. The season may not have ended the way Prescott and Mississippi State would have liked, but he brings plenty of promise for the Bulldogs in the fall, and his spring performance should boost the confidence just a bit more.
As good as Prescott was Saturday afternoon for the Maroon team, it was not enough to lead the squad to victory over the White team. With Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback, the White scored the only touchdown of the second half to take a 28-24 victory. Fitzgerald will be Prescott’s backup in the fall, and his performance was not too bad. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air and he rushed for 31 yards and another score, but he was picked off twice. The highlight of the afternoon from Fitzgerald came in the second quarter with a 59-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Dixon. Dontavian Lee led all players with 53 rushing yards and a touchdown for the White team.
Mississippi State opens the 2015 season on the road on September 5 against Southern Mississippi.
Close it down now. Nobody will have a higher spring game attendance than Ohio State this year. The Buckeyes, fresh off a national championship in January, welcomed 99,391 fans to Ohio Stadium to watch the annual spring game in Columbus.
That easily puts Ohio State on top of the spring game attendance numbers this year, and nobody will have a chance to catch them.
Ohio State’s announced 99,391 attendance – a nat’l spring game record – looks spot-on. The Shoe (104,944) fits. pic.twitter.com/SfpeQrvwJy
— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) April 18, 2015
Nebraska entered the weekend as the leader in spring game attendance with 76,881 fans attending last weekend’s spring game in Lincoln. Until the numbers from some other games come in today, the Big Ten is currently holding the top three spots in the spring game attendance numbers. Michigan’s 60,000 was second most in the nation coming into the weekend.
The Big Ten could have another top five spring game attendance figure coming in later today with Penn State’s spring game getting started later this afternoon.
Spring has come and gone, and Brian Kelly still has a quarterback decision to make before the start of the fall. Notre Dame’s spring game was not likely to solve the equation under center on Saturday, and it certainly left the variable in play. Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will continue to battle for the starting job heading into the summer and leading up to the start of the new season in the fall.
Playing on a practice field while Notre Dame Stadium undergoes renovation, both Golson and Zaire showed some improvement and confidence for much of the afternoon. Golson seemed to have an edge with execution at times, but Zaire also had some respectable moments as well.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) April 18, 2015
Zaire may have had the highlight of the day as well. His 68-yard pass to Will Fuller for a touchdown was one of the top plays on the afternoon in South Bend, showing off Zaire’s arm strength.
The other came on a pass from Golson to end the first half, although for a different reason. Golson’s final pass of the first half was a 12-yard pass to offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley, who had been begging for a pass all spring. He made it count and lowered a shoulder into Cole Luke at the end of the play.
From here, the quarterback competition is pretty even. There was no runaway winner in the race on Saturday, and one likely was not expected. Now we will just have to wait and see what happens in the summer. Kelly has confidence in his options, and there is no timetable for when a final decision might be announced.
Notre Dame opens the 2015 season at home on September 5 against Texas. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. eastern. Notre Dame also announced a home game against USC on October 17 will also kick off at 7:30 p.m. Both games will air on NBC.
The drama between Russell Wilson and former NC State head coach Tom O’Brien is pretty much ancient history at this point, but that did not prevent Wilson from dropping the suggestion he was forced out at NC State.
“You know, he was my head coach, you know, NC State,” Wilson said when asked about his time at NC State for an upcoming episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. “Kinda kicked me out of NC State a little bit.”
Wilson has typically taken the high road any time this topic of conversation has come up over the years, which is why it is a bit surprising to hear him explain the situation with these words.
We pretty much know the story at this point with the parting between O’Brien and Wilson. Wilson wanted to continue being able to play minor league baseball in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system, but O’Brien wanted the quarterback to stay committed to football. As we know by now, Wilson moved on to Wisconsin, led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and later went on to lead the Seattle Seahawks to one Super Bowl victory and return trip coming up just short of a second. Football has worked out well for Wilson, but the desire to continue playing baseball has not evaporated.
The significance of this quote and its relevance can be better explained now by our pals over at Pro Football Talk, as Wilson is reaching a point where he is ready to get a new contract in Seattle. The last thing Seattle probably wants to do is pull the same power play O’Brien did with Wilson in college.
Wilson will be featured in an interview with next week’s airing of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be featured as well.
No school has quite the intriguing quarterback situation this spring and heading into the fall as Ohio State. Take your pick of Ohio State quarterbacks — Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones — and odds are your offense will be in good hands. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said earlier this week he would take his quarterbacks any day over Ohio State’s, which did not fall on idle ears in Columbus.
Leading up to Ohio State’s spring game, ESPN ran an interview with Barrett and Jones conducted by Tom Rinaldi that did not require anyone to shed a tear. It actually yielded a laugh. With the quarterback question in mind, Rinaldi referenced the old cliche about having two quarterbacks meaning you don’t have one. The response from Jones?
“I feel sorry for Notre Dame,” Jones replied before quickly laughing it off and saying he was joking.
Going back to Kelly’s comments, what else is he supposed to say? He is a coach pumping up his own players, as any coach would do. His comments may have raised some eyebrows and been shrugged aside as a ridiculous comment — how many coaches this spring would commit NCAA violations for the quarterback situation Urban Meyer has on his hands this year — but he was just a coach saying things a coach would say and nothing more.
Notre Dame’s spring game opened up with Everett Golson leading the offense down the field for a touchdown, with the veteran quarterback running in for a short touchdown run after a decent opening drive. Malik Zaire is also being given a chance to win the starting job in South Bend after showing some promise at the end of last season.
But was Jones really just joking? Probably not too much.
The reviews are coming in from Louisville’s Friday night spring scrimmage, and it seems to paint a familiar picture. The offense has players to make some good things happen. The defense should be pretty solid. The offensive line seems to be a bit of a question mark Bobby Petrino will have to either hope comes together or sees some development in the summer before the season kicks off.
Quarterback Reggie Bonnafon completed 15 of 19 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown and rushed 10 times for 37 yards and another touchdown while playing the entire first half. While reading too much into spring games can be unwise, this seemed to be a strong suggestion which direction the quarterback position is heading at Louisville. It will be Bonnafon’s job to lose according to the experts following the Cardinals.
The running game should be in for a good season as well, and Brandon Radcliff will once again be leading the charge on the ground. On Friday night the leading Louisville rusher carried the football seven times for 57 yards and three TDs. No worries in the Louisville backfield. It is the offensive line that seems to be the most questionable spot for the Cardinals.
Quarterbacks were sacked nine times in the spring scrimmage, with 23,187 fans in attendance. It should be noted only nine offensive linemen dressed for the spring scrimmage, but reinforcements are on the way through Louisville’s Class of 2015 and some junior college transfers. There will be more bodies to plug in, but how quickly Louisville finds some cohesiveness up front will ultimately determine what kind of season the Cardinals could have in the fall.
There are far fewer reasons for concern on the defensive side of the football. Louisville played very well on defense last season, and it looks as though it should be a strength of the team once again in Petrino’s second season back with the program.
“I really think we’ll have a dominant defense,” Petrino said. “That defensive front and linebacking corps is very physical and very strong. They made it real hard on our second offense.”
Louisville’s season will kick off on September 5 against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta.
Nobody got hurt. Well, nobody got hurt Friday night. That is exactly what Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson wanted from the spring game in Atlanta Friday night. Rain held the attendance to just about 4,000 fans (most of them looking for cover from the elements), but Johnson will take it with no additional players having injury concerns as spring draws to a close.
“You know, it was a typical spring game — at least we got it in and the weather cooperated,” Johnson said. “Nobody got hurt that I know of — or at least seriously — which is what you hope for.”
Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets took some hits leading up to the game. C.J. Leggett, believed to be a potential starter for Georgia Tech’s B-back position, may lose the entire 2015 season due to a torn knee ligament revealed by an MRI this week.
”He’d been working hard,” Johnson said. ”I feel bad for him, but you’ve got to go with the next-man-up mentality.”
Leggett’s injury comes after another possible B-back option, Quaide Weimerskirch, has undergone foot surgery. The good news is Georgia Tech saw Marcus Allen have a good outing, running 14 times for 77 yards.
“I was proud of Marcus Allen,” Johnson said after the game. “I thought he played hard, did some good things, and made some plays. So (it was a) good (night) for Marcus.”
Justin Thomas will be Georgia Tech’s quarterback in the fall, so Johnson took drastic measures to ensure he left the spring scrimmage in one piece. He played in just three series Friday night, and he attempted and completed one pass for 21 yards. He was also off limits from contact, just as he has been all spring.
Georgia Tech, the defending ACC Coastal Division champions, opens the 2015 season at home in Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, September 3 against Alcorn State.
Clemson and Duke football teams have wrapped up their respective spring practice schedules already, but on Friday the school’s baseball teams served up some spring football action of their own.
With a rain delay forcing the baseball field at Clemson to be covered by a tarp for an extended period of time, players from Clemson’s and Duke’s baseball teams decided to kill the idle time by playing some football. After all, rain does not stop football from being played.
There were even a couple of nice plays to witness too!
Clemson and Duke do not meet on the football field this fall, unless the two match-up against each other in the ACC Football Championship Game.
Get ready for a jam-packed day of spring football from coast to coast. If you have nothing better to do than sit inside and get a college football fix — and who would blame you — then you have plenty of options working for you on Saturday.
Defending national champion Ohio State will be among many big names in action on Saturday. Others include Alabama, Notre Dame (on NBC Sports Network), Auburn, LSU Penn State, Texas, Missouri and Mississippi State. And that’s just a fraction of the total teams wrapping up spring practices on Saturday.
Those with the services available will be able to watch college football, in a somewhat scaled down fashion, from noon through the whole afternoon and into the night with the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 having network coverage. Same goes for Texas and Notre Dame. Some of you might even get to see North Texas, if you are really hardcore about your spring football fix.
If you are looking to see how to plan your day, here are the TV listings for spring games on April 18, as well as a list of schools playing spring football games without listed TV coverage.
Games carried by SEC Network will be carried on alternate channels where available. Games appearing on Big Ten Network will also be available on the mobile network, BTN2Go. Pac-12 Network coverage will also be available through Pac-12.com.
Mississippi Sate, 12 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)
Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Ohio State, 1:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Auburn, 2 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)
California, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network
LSU 2 p.m., SEC Network+
Texas, 2 p.m., Longhorn Network
Alabama, 3 p.m. SEC Network (Alternate)
North Texas, 3 p.m., CS Live
Oregon State, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Penn State, 4 p.m., Big Ten Network
Missouri, 5 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)
Illinois, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network
YOU HAVE TO BE THERE TO SEE IT
Southern Miss, 2 p.m.
Tulane, 10:00 a.m.
Army, 11 a.m.
Akron, 1 p.m.
Colorado State, 1 p.m.
Georgia Southern, 1 p.m.
Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Purdue, 1 p.m.
Western Michigan, 1 p.m.
Buffalo, 2 p.m.
Indiana, 2 p.m.
Louisiana Tech, 2 p.m.
Middle Tennessee, 2 p.m.
Oklahoma State, 2 p.m.
SMU, 2 p.m.
Tulsa, 2 p.m.
UCF, 2 p.m.
UTSA, 2 p.m.
Western Kentucky, 2 p.m.
Ball State, 3 p.m.
Houston, 3 p.m.
East Carolina, 2:30 p.m.
UNLV, 3 p.m.
Virginia, 6 p.m.
On a related note, keep in mind Nebraska and Michigan are leading the way in spring game attendance so far. The top 10 should change given some of the powerhouse names in action this weekend.