Todd Graham was labeled as disingenuous and a job hopper when he took off after one year with Pittsburgh for Arizona State.
Much of the criticism Graham received was merited. It’s not that Graham left the Panthers so soon — people change jobs all the time — but how he left. Graham didn’t tell his players in person he was leaving after asking them time and time again to commit to the program (and to him), and continued to bash Pitt after he left.
For that, you can understand why there was scoffing among media members every time Graham preached commitment at ASU.
But, in fairness to Graham, you have to report the good with the bad. Check out this letter sent to the Arizona Republic below about some lives Graham affected in a positive way:
I wanted to inform both The Republic and everyone in Arizona about a recent interaction I was fortunate enough to have with Arizona State University football coach Todd Graham.
A very good friend of mine, Garrett Gorzalski, was in Hospice of Arizona with a terminal illness. We contacted the ASU Athletic Department to see if there was something we could do as a tribute to him to lift his spirits in the final days.
Much to our surprise, we were immediately contacted by Coach Graham, who asked if he could come out and see Garrett personally. Despite being in LA for Pac-12 media day, he promised to come and see him as soon as he got back.
Not only did Coach come to visit, he actually led us all in a prayer for my friend as well and promised to send the game ball to us should they beat Missouri. Most people would have just responded via email.
This was a very special moment as it turned out to be one of the last we spent with Garrett. Coach Graham’s only response when questioned as to why he would show was, “That’s what we do.” He did when most don’t. Thank you.
— Patrick Lewis, Tempe
Have to applaud Graham for following through. It was a kind gesture, and one Lewis and the Gorzalski family won’t soon forget.
(Hat tip: ESPN’s Pac-12 blog)
Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr., the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff George, has announced he will look for an opportunity to play football elsewhere in 2018. In a statement shared on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, George said he will leave Illinois with a degree in hand, allowing him to pursue a transfer possibility as a graduate transfer.
Thank you to Coach [Lovie Smith] and the entire staff for helping me develop over the past couple years,” George said in his statement on Twitter. “With that being said, after discussions with Coach Smith as well as my family, it would be in my best interest to pursue my athletic career with 2 years of eligibility left at a school that will best utilize the abilities I have to offer.”
George played in seven games for the Illini in 2017 with 1,273 passing yards and seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The only other quarterbacks on the roster to attempt a pass last season were junior Chayce Crouch (who played quarterback in seven games and had 443 passing yards with one touchdown and four interceptions Cam Thomas, a redshirt freshman in 2017. Illinois also has two other freshmen on the roster — Charlie Reinkemeyer and Connor Kelly – that should make for an interesting quarterback situation this spring.
As a graduate transfer, George will be eligible to play in the fall at any FBS program that welcomes him to their program.
Normally what Nick Saban wants Nick Saban gets. In this case, the head coach may have his work cut out for him.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that disgraced former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was a visitor to Alabama’s football building. With the Crimson Tide searching for another offensive coordinator, speculation focused on Freeze as a potential candidate for the opening; others thought an in-house promotion was more likely and that Freeze could assume another role with the program.
According to the latest from the Tuscaloosa News‘ Aaron Suttles, “Saban is really pushing for Freeze to be an on-the-field coach,” whether it be as coordinator or, perhaps, working with quarterbacks or another positional group. One problem, per the News, is that some within the program are pushing against such an addition, although, again, if Saban really wants Freeze as an on-field addition he’d get it regardless of who was pushing back. Another issue, though, could be his conference.
From Suttles’ report:
Another aspect to this is that should Alabama decided to hire Freeze as an on-the-field coach, it would likely need the blessing of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. Sankey isn’t keen on that happening, The Tuscaloosa News has learned.
The league office’s pause in one of its members giving Freeze his first post-scandal second chance is certainly understandable.
Freeze “resigned” from Ole Miss after it was discovered he was using a school-issued cell phone to hook up with escort services on multiple occasions. Additionally, there were the Rebels’ NCAA issues while Freeze was in charge that left the coach with a two-game suspension to serve; that suspension would not have to be served if Freeze is a coordinator or position coach. The one-year show-cause Freeze was slapped with, which would impact him on the recruiting trail as a head coach, would not be in effect if he served in a non-head coach capacity.
If the SEC would indeed have an issue with the Freeze hire — and if they actually have a say in the matter — it remains to be seen how far down the Freeze road Saban is willing to travel.
Dylan Collie is again on the move, presumably for the final time.
The wide receiver took to Twitter Tuesday night to announce that he has decided it’s in his best interests to transfer from Hawaii. Collie will be leaving the program as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility if he opts for another FBS program for his final season of eligibility.
Collie signed with BYU in 2012 but, after completing an LDS Church mission, opted to transfer to Hawaii.
This past season, Collie led the Rainbow Warriors in receptions with 56, and was second in receiving yards (636) and receiving touchdowns (four). In three years at the Mountain West school, Collie totaled 118 catches for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns.
Two of Dylan Collie’s brothers, Austin and Zac, played receiver at BYU. Their father, Scott Collie, also played his college football for the Cougars.
The 2017 season was put to bed a little over a week ago, so the focus of the college football world has shifted to 2018.
In that vein, the ACC Wednesday released its football schedule for the upcoming season. The first game featuring a team from the conference will have Wake Forest traveling to Tulane on Thursday, Aug. 30. The first league game sees Virginia Tech traveling to Tallahassee on Labor Day to face Florida State in a primetime matchup.
Opening weekend will also see the ACC involved in a pair of neutral-site nonconference matchups: Louisville against defending national champion Alabama in Orlando Saturday, Sept. 1, and Miami facing LSU the next day in Arlington.
There are also five previously-announced games against scheduling partner Notre Dame, including road trips to South Bend for FSU (Nov. 10) and Pitt (Oct. 13). Wake (Sept. 22) and Virginia Tech (Oct. 6) will play host to the Irish, while Syracuse and Notre Dame will square off at Yankee Stadium Nov. 17.
The release announcing the schedule notes that ACC teams will play more games (19) against Power 5 competition than any other P5, and their members will also play 27 games against non-conference opponents that participated in bowl games last season, the highest total among Power 5 conferences.
“The 2018 ACC Football schedule provides our schools and programs the opportunity to build upon the numerous football successes that have been achieved in recent years,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Once again, our teams will be facing both a daunting conference schedule and what is collectively the most challenging non-conference schedule in the country. There will be no shortage of excitement for fans on a weekly basis.”
You can click HERE for the composite schedule, HERE for the team-by-team schedule and HERE for the ever-popular logo schedule.