Jimmy Haslam

New Browns owner: ‘I’d love Ohio State to play’ in Cleveland

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Five times in the storied history of Ohio State football, the Buckeyes have played a game in the city of Cleveland — four times at old Municipal Stadium (1942-44, 1991) and once at the “new” Cleveland Browns Stadium, that coming in 2009 against Toledo.

With “neutral-site” games at NFL stadiums all the rage in the game of college football, and with a new owner set to officially step in next month, could the Buckeyes be headed back to Northeast Ohio in the not-too-distant future?

If that new owner has anything to say about it, absolutely.

In the course of an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tennessee businessman and new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was asked about getting more use out of his stadium generally and getting the Buckeyes to return for a game specifically.  Suffice to say, Haslam would jump at the opportunity.

“I’ll go on record as saying I’d love Ohio State to play here. I mean love to,” Haslam, whose father was a member of the Tennessee Volunteers’ 1951 national championship team, stated.

A game in Cleveland would make sense on at least a couple of levels.  The city and surrounding areas that stretch several counties wide have been a hotbed for both a highly-supportive fan base as well a recruiting pipeline for the football program.  Plus, it would give the opportunity to people in the area to come into the stadium and see a winning football team and I’m a lifelong Browns fan so by law I’m permitted to crack wise.

When asked about the possibility of returning to the Northeast Ohio city, OSU left the door slightly — very slightly — ajar.

“Our experience in Cleveland has always been enjoyable,” athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement sent to CFT in response to Haslam’s comments. “As  we look at our future schedules, I do not see an opportunity in the near future but will always keep that prospect in mind.”

As for the possibilities of an opponent if — still a big if, obviously — such an agreement would be struck between the Buckeyes and Browns, future non-conference games against in-state schools would seemingly make tremendous regional sense — Cincinnati and Kent State in 2014, Bowling Green in 2016 and Cincinnati again in 2018.

Ironically, the 2018 game “replaced” a game scheduled for this season that would’ve been played at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Playing a future Big Ten game in Cleveland shouldn’t be totally discounted, either; a conference matchup between Illinois and Northwestern was played in 2010 at storied Wrigley Field, home of MLB’s Chicago Cubs.

The latter scenario, though, likely wouldn’t sit well with Columbus-area fans and alumni, losing a home conference game to That City Up North.

All Oregon football players released from hospital after offseason workouts

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 29: defensive back Tyree Robinson #2 of the Oregon Ducks dives into the crowd before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devilsat Autzen Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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All three Oregon football players hospitalized this week as the result of grueling offseason workouts have been released.

The news, first reported by The Oregonian,  concludes a dramatic week for the program and their new coaching staff after revelations surfaced on Monday that the three were sent to a nearby Springfield, Oregon hospital with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis. The condition primarily affects soft tissue and is triggered by overwork and can eventually lead to damage of the kidneys.

Senior offensive linemen Doug Brenner was actually released on Tuesday per the report, but it took until Friday morning for redshirt freshmen tight end Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi to be sent home from the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center.

As a result of the workouts, Oregon suspended new strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month without pay and changed the structure on the staff so that Oderinde, who came over from South Florida with Willie Taggart, no longer reports to the Ducks’ coach but the school’s director of performance and sport science.

While you never want to hear about football players going to the hospital, it’s great to hear that the three players who were injured as a result of the workouts have been cleared and sent home.

Former Syracuse coach Scott Shafer hired as Middle Tennessee’s defensive coordinator

Scott Shafer
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Middle Tennessee is giving former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer a chance to get back in the game. Shafer has been hired to be the new defensive coordinator for the Blue Raiders, the school announced Friday.

“We are all very excited about Scott and his wife Missy joining the Blue Raider family,” said MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill in a released statement. “Scott brings a wealth of experience as a defensive coordinator and we can’t wait until he gets started and puts his plan in place. He will have a positive impact on the program and university as our defensive coordinator.”

Shafer was out of coaching during the 2016 season after being fired by Syracuse after the the previous season. Shafer coached Syracuse to a record of 14-23 in his three years on the job. Now, he returns to a familiar role as defensive coordinator. Shafer has held the title of defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Stanford (under Jim Harbaugh), Michigan (under Rich Rodriguez) and Syracuse (under Doug Marrone; Shafer replaced Marrone once the coach was hired by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills).

Middle Tennessee ranked 96th in the nation in total defense in 2016, allowing 449.5 yards per game. The Blue Raiders also allowed an average of 35.8 points per game (which ranked 109th in the nation).

San Diego State will play at Qualcomm Stadium through 2020

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01: A general view of the San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs en route to Chiefs 37-27 win over the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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The Chargers have left San Diego for Los Angeles and San Diego State is working on figuring out the best possible plan for a long-term football home. For the time being, the Aztecs will continue to call Qualcomm Stadium home. The current lease with the football stadium in San Diego was to expire after the 2018 season, but the university has agreed to tack on two additional years to the lease.

Qualcomm Stadium still continues to be a short-term solution for the Aztecs. The university is hoping to find a suitable plan that will see a brand new football stadium constructed that is more suitable for the program’s fans and perhaps more accommodating. San Diego state is also reportedly open to the idea of sharing a new stadium with a potential Major League Soccer franchise, which typically plays in smaller venues than NFL stadiums.

“There’s a lot of really good football fans in this town that maybe don’t want to drive four or five hours to see a football game when they can see a pretty good product right here at home, and maybe they’ll become fans of our team,” San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said during a news conference on Thursday to announce a new contract extension. “I think that college football has a lot of things to offer that pro football does not.”

Long’s recently extended contract with San Diego state runs through the 2021 season. The hope is Long will be able to coach the Aztecs into a new home stadium in the final year currently under contract.

Alabama RB Derrick Gore transfers to ULM

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Derrick Gore #27 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown against the Florida Gators during the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on December 3, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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It seems to happen every now and then, but Alabama is losing a running back to a transfer this spring. Derrick Gore, a redshirt junior, is transferring to Louisiana-Monroe to continue his college football career, as reported by The News-Star.

Gore will be given a better chance to compete for a significant role in ULM’s offense as he gets out from the deep running back stable at Alabama that makes it difficult to get everyone involved. Gore had played a reserve role on offense behind the likes of Derrick Henry, Bo Scarbrough and Kenyan Drake at a position that is generally stacked for the Crimson Tide. Gore did find a role for himself on special teams. Gore blocked a punt against Florida in the SEC Championship Game last December and returned it for a touchdown. He was a walk-on at Alabama.

Gore will be eligible immediately to play for ULM starting this fall and will have two years of eligibility to use with the Warhawks.