Every coach will tell his players the same cliché. It’s the name on the front of the jersey that counts, not the back.
But not every coach has to deal with what Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is facing: a postseason ban and massive scholarship loss, among other athletic sanctions, courtesy of NCAA president Mark Emmert’s reaction to the Freeh report. The scholarship loss was coupled with essentially non-existent transfer rules allowing players to bail when and where they please.
Some will leave, but others will stay. Around 30 have admitted as much. And those who decide to remain at Penn State deserve a ton of credit. O’Brien wants to make sure they get that recognition on a weekly basis.
Per the Reading Eagle, O’Brien is considering some changes to Penn State’s classic blue and white uniforms, including putting names on the back of the uniforms:
O’Brien also told the parents that he has talked to Nike about changing Penn State’s plain blue and white uniforms, a staple of the program for decades under former coach Joe Paterno. He also said he’s looking to put names on the back of the jerseys.
“It might be easier said than done (for this season),” he said. “I’m not sure we can get it done this year.”
Uniforms are almost always the first things to be altered when a program undergoes major transformation, although I’m sure any changes made would be minor in nature — if changes are made at all.
If I were O’Brien, I’d make the names on the backs of the jerseys a temporary alteration until the NCAA sanctions are lifted as a sign of recognition for those who toughed it out through hard times.
Sunday, it was confirmed that Bill Moos was leaving his job as athletic director at Washington State to take the same position at Nebraska. It didn’t take long after the official announcement of the move for the speculation to commence.
A home loss to Northern Illinois was the football program’s first-ever to a MAC school and its first home loss to a Group of Five team since 2004, sparking talk as to how much longer Mike Riley could last as the Cornhuskers’ head coach. Losses by a combined 63 points the last two weeks to Wisconsin and Ohio State did nothing to alleviate those concerns.
Enter Moos, whose last football hire at Wazzu has turned into a very significant upgrade for that program. Taking over a team that won a combined nine games the four years before he was hired by Moos, Mike Leach guided the Cougars to 12 wins his first three years after being hired in 2012. The past two seasons have turned into breakout ones of sort for the Cougars as they won nine games in 2015 (most since 2003) and eight in 2016. They were off to a 6-0 start this season before Cal stunned them in Week 7.
Add Riley’s struggles to Leach’s successes and mix in Moos’ departure Pullman for Lincoln, and the recipe was there for Leach-to-‘Huskers talk. Monday, the coach downplayed such a possibility.
“I don’t have any plans to do that and then they already have a head coach there and he’s a pretty good one, Mike Riley,” Leach said according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “Wish Bill the best and we just move forward.”
Leach did, though, have high praise for his now-former boss. Extremely high praise.
“He’s the best AD that I’ve ever met,” Leach said. “Everything from active to retired to dead. Bill’s the best AD I’ve ever even met. …
“Bill’s a very honest, straightforward guy and he was a guy you could count on, who you knew had your best interest.”
Five-touchdown, not five-point. The Butch Jones Era, ladies and gentlemen.
In the wake of yet another crippling, emasculating loss for the Tennessee football program, Butch Jones again pulled fired up his verbal backhoe and further buried his coaching tenure on Rocky Top. There’s little doubt Jones’ time as the Volunteers will expire at some point between now and shortly after the end of UT’s season; there’s exactly zero doubt that, outside of Knoxville — and probably inside, to be blunt — the perception of the program under Jones is at its lowest in decades.
The latest case in the latter point? Wagering establishments.
Sunday afternoon, UT will enter the not-so-friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa for the 100th edition of its annual rivalry game against top-ranked Alabama. Over the weekend, the Vols opened as anywhere from a 33- to 34.5-point undergo. As we head toward midweek, it’s crept a bit upward according to Bovada.lv.
Bovada tells CFT that, over the last 31 years, the Vols have never been as large of an underdog as they are right now. Prior to a 23-13 loss, they were 30- point underdogs to Florida in 2009. In 2011 and 2013, they were 29- and 28-point underdogs, respectively, to Alabama. They ended up losing both contests, 37-6 in the former and 45-10 in the latter.
In the previous 99 meetings between the rival programs, the Vols have lost by 35 or more points exactly four times. The first came in 1906 (51-0), the second in 1963 (35-0). The last two times? The 2013 game mentioned above and 2016 (49-10).
Ahead of last year’s game in Knoxville, the Crimson Tide was in the neighborhood of a seven-point favorite.
Cal’s stunning upset in Week 7 came with a very steep price tag on the defensive side of the ball.
In the second half of Cal’s upending of then-No. 8 Washington State Friday night, Devante Downs went down with an unspecified injury. Three days later, the football program confirmed that the inside linebacker would miss the remainder of the 2017 season because of it.
Other than lower body, the specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed.
Regardless of what exactly is sidelining Downs, it’s a very significant blow to a Golden Bears defense that’s currently tied for 67th in scoring after finishing the past four seasons 125th, 123rd, 108th and 125th in the same category.
Through seven games, Downs is far and away Cal’s leading tackler with 65. Next closest? Ra Davison‘s 43. He also leads the team in sacks (three), quarterback hits (four) and forced fumbles (two), while he’s tied for the lead in interceptions (two) and fumble recoveries (two). The 5.5 tackles for loss for which he’s been credited are tied for second.
The wife of one of the top head coaches in college football dipped her toes into an ongoing national controversy — and not long after attempted to un-dip them.
In reaction to news that Colin Kaepernick, who kick-started the anthem kneeling controversy last season, had filed a grievance claiming that NFL owners colluded to keep him out of the league, Shelley Meyer tweeted “What-ever, he made his choices.” The tweet from the personal Twitter account of the wife of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was quickly deleted.
She also tweeted, in response to one of her followers stating that “I would take Tim Tebow over him any day,” “A million times. No comparison.”
The original tweet gained enough traction pre-deletion, however, that Kaepernick’s mother used the same social media website to chide Mrs. Meyer.
Less than 24 hours after the mini social media maelstrom erupted, Mrs. Meyer offered up somewhat of an apology/further explanation for her original tweet.