Auburn student assistant had lifelong heart issues

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In his very first comments to the media following a tough two-point loss to LSU Saturday, head coach Gene Chizik announced that it was “a very heart” with which the Tigers played as student assistant coach Joe Bagwell died of unspecified causes shortly before kickoff.

Many of you, either via email or in the comments of that posting, have asked if there were any details as to the young man’s passing.

According to the Huntsville Times, Bagwell was born with literally half of a heart, living with just a right ventricle that forced him to undergo three heart operations before he had reached the age of three.  Those health issues ultimately led to his death at the way-too-young age of 23.

His medical condition never allowed him to play football, but the then-teenager was a part of the sport in high school by serving as his team’s student manager.  After graduating high school, he was determined to become a part of the Auburn football program he loved dearly, as evidenced by this anecdote relayed by his father to the paper.

His dad said his son was always persistent, even asking former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville how to get involved with the team — and for his cell phone number — after a church service in Auburn. To no one’s surprise, Joseph found a spot on the team, eventually helping Chizik and the coaches with special teams and the offensive line and earning himself a national championship ring in 2010.

“That championship) was the highlight of his career,” his father said. “That and watching Cam (Newton) play. His plan was to graduate from Auburn, stay and work on his Masters and work for the team.”

Bagwell was on schedule to graduate with a degree in Health Promotion next August.

When it comes to Bagwell’s life, the enduring thread woven in and out of his all-too-brief time on this earth is Auburn University.

“It was Jesus first, Auburn second and studying third,” Joe D. Bagwell, his father, told t. “He wanted to make an impact at Auburn, whether as a water boy or assistant coach.”

Bagwell will be laid to rest Wednesday.  The Times writes that, in lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts in memory of Joseph be made to the “Clicking for a Cause” fund at Huntsville Hospital Foundation, 101 Sivley Road, Huntsville, AL 35801.

(Photo credit: WAFF-48)

Florida’s statement on Jim McElwain’s death-threat claim is interesting, to say the least

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Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s something.  Regardless, it’s something that bears watching.

Losers of two in a row and off to a 3-3 start to the season,  Florida has underperformed and underwhelmed to say the least.  So much so, in fact, that head coach Jim McElwain indicated Monday that he, his family, his coaching staff and players have been subjected to death threats by unknown individuals.

The head coach went into no detail publicly regarding the nature of the threats.  Apparently, it was the same privately when discussing the situation with his employer.

OK then.

Again, it could be in the same neighborhood as naked shark humping — nothing. Bears watching, though, as one very outspoken member of the Florida media is very much already doing publicly about a situation that was apparently reported to the media before it was reported to the police or even the university.

LOOK: Arizona State to wear Pat Tillman-themed uniforms

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Pat Tillman is essentially the Knute Rockne of Arizona State football, the central figure that will be as important to the program 100 years from now as he is today. And while Notre Dame will wear Rockne-themed uniforms later this season, so, too, will Arizona State.

The program revealed Tillman-centric uniforms on Monday for their Nov. 4 game with Colorado, based on the uniform Tillman wore as a member of the U.S. Army while fighting in Afghanistan.

Tillman played linebacker at Arizona State from 1994-97 (he was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior) and then spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before the events of 9/11 inspired him to join the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Army Rangers before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, at age 27.

Arizona State unveiled a Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium at its season-opening win over New Mexico State.

“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said at the unveiling. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”

Jim McElwain says family, players have received death threats over 3-3 start

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Florida has lost two in a row and is off to a 3-3 start, and that streak will probably reach three on Saturday after the Gators meet No. 3 Georgia. While everyone knows SEC fans are passionate about their football, some have taken Florida’s struggles too far.

How far? By threatening to kill the players and coaches.

“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are,” head coach Jim McElwain said, via Only Gators. “There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there. And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”

In my experience, it seems people lodging death threats are far more serious about the threat part than the, uh, other. But that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never received one.

Report: Sam Darnold expected to return to USC in 2018

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Sam Darnold was appointed the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the second day of 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold torched Penn State to the tune of 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in a 52-49 Rose Bowl win.

One problem, though. Darnold hasn’t played like a No. 1 pick this season.

While he hasn’t been the most disappointing player on what’s turning out to be a disappointing USC team, Darnold has posted pedestrian numbers (for him): hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for an even eight yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ranks 38th nationally in passing efficiency. This puts him, coincidentally, one spot ahead of former USC quarterback Max Browne.

On Monday, NFL Draft analyst Benjamin Allbright shared a report that Darnold is expected to return to USC next season.

Considering Ronald Jones could return next season and that Stephen Carr is just a freshman, the prospect of Darnold returning in 2018 has to take the sting out of a lost 2017 for Trojans fans.