Joker Phillips: pure class in statement addressing firing

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Even as the vultures circled over the dead man coaching tenure of Joker Phillips, there was one constant in the discussion of the coach’s future at Kentucky: he is one of the finest men at any level of coaching anyone’s ever been associated with.

Those vultures finally and officially came home to roost Sunday, with the Wildcats announcing that Phillips will not return as head coach in 2013.  A search for a replacement will commence immediately, and Phillips is expected to finish out the final two games of the 2012 season.

In the aftermath of his dismissal, Phillips issued a statement through the school addressing the termination.  And, for lack of a better way to put it, you’d be hard-pressed to find a classier exit from a man who played and coached at UK school for a total of more than two decades.

Here’s Phillips’ statement, in its entirety, and I defy you to not feel a twinge or two or eight of sadness as you read his words:

We, as coaches, are measured on results.  We didn’t get the results we had worked and hoped for, therefore change is needed.  In my current 10-year stay at Kentucky, we’ve had some memorable moments as an assistant, coordinator and head coach.  We’ve had the opportunity to coach some fine young men and I am grateful to have had the privilege of watching them grow as players, as students and as people.

I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here.  Mitch is the best athletic director I’ve ever been associated with.  He’s fair and honest and he’s “all in” in terms of student-athletes’ well-being.  Rich is the best mentor a young coach could ever have.  I learned a lot from him in terms of plowing ahead.  They are dear friends.   Dr. Lee Todd and Dr. Eli Capilouto have both been very supportive.  I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward.

I love our players and am proud to be associated with them.  I expect them to continue the behavior we have asked of them academically, socially and with football.  I’m thankful for the staff’s hard work, dedication, and what they have done in coaching and mentoring the players.  I’d like to thank my wife and family for all their support and for being behind me 100 percent.

Arkansas adds TCU signee who signed with New York Yankees

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Austin Aune‘s circuitous sports journey, one which Chris Weinke and Brandon Weeden would approve, has taken its next stop in Fayetteville.

According to 247Sports.com, Aune has joined the Arkansas football program and is enrolled in classes at the university.  At least initially, the quarterback will be a part of the Razorbacks as a walk-on; it’s expected he’ll take the field with the rest of his new teammates when spring practice kicks off month after next.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Aune had also considered TCU and North Texas before the SEC’s mystique proved to be too much.

“The allure of the SEC and the SEC West and Chad [Morris] and Coach [Joe] Craddock, and everybody being on the same page up there as far as the opportunity goes,” the player’s father, Greg Aune, told the Democrat-Gazette. “He likes their system. It’s a fast-paced system, wide-open system. That’s what he played in high school. It’s a pass-oriented offense. He’s a read-run oriented guy, so that’s a lot of what those guys do.”

The fact that Aune considered TCU as a potential landing spot before settling on Morris and UA shouldn’t come as a surprise as he actually signed with the Horned Frogs back in 2012.  However, he was drafted by the New York Yankees that same year and, after signing a contract that included a $1 million signing bonus, embarked on what turned out to be a six-year career in the minor leagues.  Despite that financial commitment, Aune never made it past Single-A ball.

Chip Kelly completes first UCLA coaching staff

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Nearly two months to the day he was hired, Chip Kelly has put the finishing touches on his first college coaching staff in six years.

Tuesday afternoon, the Bruins confirmed the hiring of three new assistant coaches: Dana Bible (quarterbacks coach), Roy Manning (outside linebackers, special teams coordinator) and Vince Oghobaase (defensive line).

Bible’s last job in the coaching profession came as an offensive assistant for Kelly with the San Francisco 49ers; he last spent time at the collegiate level as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina State from 2007-12.  The first four years with the Wolfpack, he was also quarterbacks and wide receivers coach, while he dropped the receivers coach role his last season with the ACC program.

Manning spent the past three seasons at Washington State, with Oghobaase working the last two seasons with the 49ers.  One of those years, obviously, was spent with Kelly.

Kelly retained four of Jim Mora’s former assistants: wide receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty, running backs coach DeShaun Foster, offensive line coach Hank Fraley and Angus McClure, who returns to coaching the tight end position.  The program had previously announced the hirings of Jerry Azzinaro as the defensive coordinator, Don Pellum as inside linebackers coach and Paul Rhoads as defensive backs coach.

With Tua Tagovailoa lurking, Bryce Love is Bovada’s way-too-early 2018 Heisman favorite

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The 2018 season doesn’t kick off for another seven-plus months, but it’s never too early for a little wagering action.

Two weeks after the 2017 regular season ended, Bovada.lv released its first set of odds as to who will win the 2018 Heisman Trophy.  Not surprisingly, running back Bryce Love, who stunned most observers by returning to Stanford for another season, has been listed by the sportsbook as a slight 7/1 favorite.  Love is the only returning finalist for the 2017 award, and he finished a distant second to winner Baker Mayfield.

Two other players who finished in the Top 10 in the 2017 Heisman voting, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (6th) and UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton (8th), are listed in Bovada‘s initial set of odds — Taylor right behind Love at 8/1 and Milton at 18/1.

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, who could greatly benefit from the hiring of Kevin Sumlin as head coach, is at 9/1.  National championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa, who has never started a game at the collegiate level, is at 10/1, with the Alabama quarterback ahead of the likes of Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins (12/1), Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (12/1), Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (15/1) and Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley (18/1).

West Virginia’s David Sills (45/1) is the only wide receiver listed.  There are also two defensive linemen on the board — Houston’s Ed Oliver (55/1) and Ohio State’s Nick Bosa (75/1).

And, for those who are curious, here are the top four in the odds Bovada released for the 2017 Heisman exactly one year ago today: Mayfield (11/2), Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett (6/1), Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (7/1) and USC quarterback Sam Darnold (9/1).  The Oklahoma quarterback won the award, of course, while Jackson, the 2016 Heisman winner, was one of three finalists.  The other two didn’t crack the Top 10 in votes.

Below are the complete set of odds for the 2018 Heisman Trophy, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

Bryce Love (RB Stanford) 7/1
Johnathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin) 8/1
Khalil Tate (QB Arizona) 9/1
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) 10/1
J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State) 12/1
Jake Fromm (QB Georgia) 12/1
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn) 12/1
Will Grier (QB West Virginia) 12/1
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon) 15/1
Kelly Bryant (QB Clemson) 15/1
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF) 18/1
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State) 18/1
Cam Akers (RB Florida State) 22/1
Jake Browning (QB Washington) 22/1
Rodney Anderson (RB Oklahoma) 25/1
Ryan Finley (QB NC State) 25/1
Brandon Winbush (QB Notre Dame) 35/1
D'Andre Swift (RB Georgia) 35/1
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State) 35/1
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson) 35/1
David Sills (WR West Virginia) 45/1
Ed Oliver (DL Houston) 55/1
Nick Bosa (DL Ohio State) 75/1

Michigan QB Alex Malzone moves on to the MAC Miami

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Nearly two months after leaving Michigan, Alex Malzone has found himself a new college football home.

Taking to his social media accounts Monday evening, Malzone announced that he will be enrolling at Miami (Ohio) and will continue his playing career with the RedHawks. “Beyond pumped to join Coach [Chuck] Martin and this team,” the quarterback wrote.

Because he’s leaving U-M as a graduate transfer, he can play immediately this season for the MAC school.  Even better for Martin, 2018 will be the first of two seasons of eligibility Malzone has remaining.

A four-star member of the Wolverines’ 2015 recruiting class, Malzone was rated as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Michigan.  While he played in three games — one in each of the past three seasons — during his brief time in Ann Arbor, the 6-2, 224-pound signal-caller didn’t attempt a pass.