On the same day that Clemson lost the verbal commitment of the No. 1 recruit in the nation for the class of 2013, it also lost a little more hope in getting back to the ACC championship game. The Tigers, at 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the ACC, are on the wrong end of a head-to-head tie with Florida State atop the conference’s Atlantic division and would need some help to leapfrog the Seminoles.
A Virginia Tech upset of No. 8 FSU on Thursday night would’ve done the trick. Unfortunately for the Tigers, a 39-yard touchdown pass from E.J. Manuel to Rashad Greene with 40 seconds remaining in the game to give the ‘Noles an eventual 28-22 win not only sucked the life out of Lane Stadium, it may have sucked the life out of Clemson’s hopes for a second consecutive ACC championship showing.
Florida State, at 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the ACC, now has only a road game at Maryland standing in its way for its first ACC championship game appearance since 2010. Incidentally enough, the Terps can play also spoiler this weekend against Clemson.
The Hokies nearly played spoiler against the ‘Noles Thursday. A bizarre illegal forward pass penalty in the end zone on FSU running back Devonta Freeman gave Virginia Tech a safety and the ball with seven minutes remaining. That led to a Cody Journell 21-yard field goal to give VT a 22-20 lead with 2:19 remaining. All the Hokies had to do was make one more stop, which they had been able to do most of the night. Florida State finished the game with -15 yards rushing, but seven of those came on a crucial James Wilder Jr. run on fourth down near midfield to move the chains on FSU’s final drive.
Barring an upset next week, the ACC Atlantic belongs to FSU. The Seminoles will likely meet either Miami or Duke (yes, we know) in the conference championship game. The Blue Devils and Hurricanes meet on the last regular season game of the season later this month.
Virginia Tech (4-6 overall, 2-4 ACC), meanwhile, will need to beat Boston College and Virginia just to get bowl eligible.
In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona. Nearly five months later?
Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season. No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.
The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.
Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.
A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.
For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly. Somewhat.
In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”
“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”
“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.
The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service. While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.
After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.
Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.
It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.
Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently. SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.
The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.
The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.
A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.
The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.
Thanks to how they finished the 2016 season, USC is getting substantial preseason love heading into the 2017 season. Not surprisingly, that affection continued Wednesday.
At the Pac-12 Media Days Wednesday, 28 of the 52 media members covering the conference picked USC to win the league’s title this season. Another 22 picked reigning champion Washington to defend its title, while there was one vote each for Oregon and Utah.
Both USC and UW received 49 first-place votes when it comes to winning the South and North divisions, respectively. Oregon, Stanford and Washington State received one first-place vote each to win the North Division, while Colorado, UCLA and Utah received the same for the South crown.
Also of note from the opening of media days:
- The Pac-12 Championship Game will remain at Levi’s Stadium through the 2019 season, with an option for 2020 as well. The home of the San Francisco 49ers has been the venue for the conference’s last two title games. New NFL stadiums in Inglewood and Las Vegas will be options beyond that.
- Halftime of games broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks will be reduced from 20 minutes to 15. In an attempt to further shorten the length of games, commercial breaks during those games will be reduced as well. “We are trying to be progressive and experiment with ways to manage the game presentation through a reduction of TV timeouts and some of the 30-second commercial spots,” commissioner Larry Scott said as the league targets three hours as the ideal game time.
- The conference has centralized its replay reviews for all 12 teams this season after experimenting with centralization for two teams in 2016.