Penn State free agency free-for-all update

16 Comments

As Ben noted Tuesday evening, the NCAA “clarified” its policies pertaining to the transfer of current Penn State football players out of that program to another, and it is still  essentially what it was the day the sanctions were announced: a roster shopping spree for all 123 other FBS football programs.

USC can still have the Nittany Lions’ star running back, despite the “limitations” thanks to its own sanctions.  Derek Dooley and his Tennessee  coaching staff will still be free to have communication with current Nittany Lions.

And, obviously, those two programs are far from the only ones viewing PSU’s roster as a blue-light special in college football’s version of Christmas in summer camp.

Here’s a very cursory look at what programs have publicly stated as far as their interest in current Nittany Lions players, while being fully armed with the realization that the interest in the Penn State roster goes much deeper than is being acknowledged…

— “If somebody was interested in coming to the University of Alabama, we would certainly entertain it.”

That’s Tide head coach Nick Saban, speaking on whether he would be open to overtures from current Penn State players.

The recruiting machine that is Saban, though, had some sage advice for the teenagers/young adults who may be looking to make a life-altering decision.

“The first thing I would say to a player is, this is not just about football. You’re there to get an education. I think you should think about your future in terms of your ability to be successful personally, academically and athletically.”

Of course, Saban and/or his staff has already been in contact with at least three PSU players, so the mileage on that quote may very when it comes to a roster’s need.

— “Auburn coaches spent part of the day Monday looking at film of current Penn State players and commitments and will probably continue that Tuesday.”

That quote comes from a national recruiting analyst by way of al.com.

The good news for Penn State as it relates to AU’s interest in its players?

“While no final decisions have been reached, I’m not expecting Auburn to actively pursue any current Penn State players or commits at the moment. They may continue to evaluate this fall and look at any potential January transfers.”

Art Briles and his Baylor coaching staff are “heavily connected to Penn State.”  After taking on three FBS transfers in less than a year, Briles is not shy in acknowledging he’s ready to add a fourth or a fifth or whatever number it takes.

“If people reach out to us, that says they’re willing to move on. If they do that, then we’re willing to talk,” said Briles. “If a guy can play, we’re going to look at him without question.”

Briles confirmed that one unnamed Penn State player has already approached the program regarding a transfer.

— “When the dust settles, I think there will be several players that entertain the thought of going somewhere else. So I think that any program that didn’t do homework prior to this decision coming out … was behind on that one.”

That’s Kansas head coach Charlie Weis, who’s shown in his first year with the Jayhawks that he’s far from averse to looking to transfers for immediate help.

— From ESPNLosAngeles.com:

UCLA coach Jim Mora said Tuesday that he “has his eye on a few” Penn State players and that a few have reached out to the Bruins to inquire about a possible transfer.

The first-year Bruins coach added that “I’ve talked to all the coaches about guys they might be familiar with and there are some positions we might look at a little more closely than others.”

— First-year Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed that his coaching staff has talked to “a couple guys, because we know ’em.”

He also stated that any movement, one way or the other, will be swift.

“I don’t know if any of them will come, or if it’ll work out with them. The turnaround’s going to be pretty quick. The timing’s not good for any of them.”

Walter Camp releases 2017 Player of the Year Watch List

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Another day, another watch list for a major college football world.

The Walter Camp Foundation released their preseason watch list for the annual Player of the Year award and not surprisingly it has all of the usual stars from around the sport, including last year’s winner Lamar Jackson and the favorite for just about every award in 2017, USC’s Sam Darnold.

The foundation didn’t just stick with quarterbacks and pass rushers however, they also did the noble thing and included one kicker and one punter on their watch list. Kudos for recognizing that special teams players are watch list candidates too. The full list is below.

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming, Jr.

Jake Browning, QB, Washington, Jr.

JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State, Sr.

Sam Darnold, QB, USC, Soph.

Luke Falk, QB, Washington State, Sr.

Quinton Flowers, QB, USF, Sr.

Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State, Soph.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama, Soph.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville, Jr.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma, Sr.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State, Sr.

Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State, Jr.

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA, Jr.

Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State, Jr.

Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky, Sr.

Running Backs 

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State, Jr.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia, Sr.

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama, Jr.

Jarvion Franklin, RB, Western Michigan, Sr.

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon, Sr.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU, Jr.

Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern, Sr.

Jalin Moore, RB, Appalachian State, Jr.

Rashaad Penny, RB/KR, San Diego State, Sr.

Mark Walton, RB, Miami (Fla.), Jr.

Wide Receivers/Special Teams/Lineman 

Daniel Carlson, PK, Auburn, Sr.

Quadree Henderson, WR/KR, Pittsburgh, Jr.

Billy Price, OL, Ohio State, Sr.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama, Jr.

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State, Sr.

Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah, Jr.

Defense

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama, Jr.

Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan, Soph.

Derwin James, DB, Florida State

Arden Key, LB, LSU, Sr.

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College, Sr.

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson, Soph.

Tyquan Lewis, DL, Ohio State, Sr.

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston, Soph.

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson, Jr.

Lane Kiffin trolls Ole Miss with latest Twitter follows

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lane Kiffin is back in the news for doing Lane Kiffin things.

Just hours after Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze resigned after discovery of phone calls to escort service, the Florida Atlantic coach decided to pop up into everybody’s timeline and subtly troll the Rebels with some recent Twitter followers. Some will interpret following the Ole Miss accounts as being a subtle way to send interest in moving to Oxford after the season but in reality this is more of Lane being Lane, especially considering his brother is wrapped up in the school’s NCAA infractions case.

We’re sure the rest of the SEC (outside of those in Oxford) will enjoy a little chuckle over the move but something says at least a few Ole Miss fans will now be intrigued about the prospect of Kiffin taking over the program.

Ole Mis AD: Hugh Freeze would’ve been fired for cause if he hadn’t resigned

Getty Images
14 Comments

In the end, regardless of how he chose to play it out, Hugh Freeze‘s time in Oxford would’ve come to an end.

Thursday night brought the stunning news that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  Freeze, to Yahoo! Sports, blamed the call on a misdial; Freeze’s now-former boss, athletic director Ross Bjork, led the same website to write that “further vetting of Freeze’s phone records disclosed a ‘pattern of conduct’ that led the school administration to confront Freeze this week.”

After meeting with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, the die had been cast for the coach.

Bjork said that if Freeze had not offered his resignation he would have been fired for cause, citing the “moral turpitude” clause in Freeze’s contract. Bjork said there was no buyout of the contract and no settlement.

“He admitted that conduct to us,” Bjork said. “None of us are perfect. Nobody in this room is perfect. I think we need to respect how he resigned and respect his privacy.

The infamous call in question — it lasted one minute, which gives at least some credence to Freeze’s claim that this one was a misdial — came to light as a result of Houston Nutt’s recently-filed lawsuit against Freeze, the university and other high-ranking school officials.  No other calls to that specific phone number were found in a review of an estimated 39,000 calls made from Freeze’s school-issued phone; “[h]owever, the school kept digging through the records and must have found additional troubling information,” the website wrote

Freeze’s admission to “that conduct” according to Bjork says as much.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze resigns after discovery of phone calls to escort service

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
13 Comments

Forget about Hugh Freeze being on the hot seat in Oxford. He won’t even be coaching a single game for the Rebels this fall.

Hugh Freeze resigned from his position as head coach at Ole Miss suddenly on Thursday evening, just a week after SEC Media Days. The resignation is effective immediately, and the school has announced co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Luke will take over the head coaching responsibilities for the upcoming season as the interim head coach. It should be expected Ole Miss will conduct a search for a new full-time head coach as soon as possible, but an official hire being made before the start of the season remains in question.

The resignation comes after the school discovered a phone call to an escort service coming from his school-issued cell phone. And it apparently was not an accidental wrong number either.

According to a report from Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com, Ole Miss reviewed phone records tied to Freeze as far back as 2012. Earlier in the day, USA Today reporter Dan Wolken reported Freeze had made a phone call to the number associated with a female escort service. The phone call in the report occurred in January of 2016. How many phone calls were discovered by Ole Miss is at this time unknown. Once confronted with the phone numbers by Bjork, Freeze is said to have offered his resignation. Whether he voluntarily offered to resign or if he was pushed to resign by the school may never be known for sure, but given the heat on Freeze already following recent headlines it may be pretty easy to see how this all played out behind closed doors.

It has been a troublesome summer for Freeze. Just last week, he was targetted in a lawsuit filed by former Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt, and Freeze has had to deny any members of his staff knowingly violated any NCAA rules following an investigation into the program. Freeze was previously targeted in a lawsuit filed by the stepdad of former Ole Miss player Laremy Tunsil just months after the NCAA discovered 13 violations against the Ole Miss program under the leadership of Freeze last year.

In five seasons at Ole Miss, Freeze was 39-25 and coached Ole Miss to a 2-1 record in postseason bowl games. Along the way, he recruited some of the best classes in school history, although how he and his staff managed to do so has been the subject of plenty of scrutinies and the findings continue to come together to suggest foul play was used. Calls to escort services will not help that look at all. Before being hired at Ole Miss, Freeze coached Arkansas State to a 19-3 record in 2011.

Luke, an Ole Miss alum from the Class of 2000, joined the Ole Miss coaching staff in 2012 with Freeze.