If you’re a Georgia fan, and as expected, you’ll have to wait a bit longer before knowing whether one of the top quarterbacks in the country returns to Athens for another season.
As he redshirted his true freshman season in 2009, Aaron Murray was actually eligible for the NFL draft this past April. Obviously, Murray stayed for his redshirt junior season and it has paid off for both the player and the team, with Murray leading the nation in passing efficiency and the Bulldogs two wins away from a likely spot in the BcS championship game.
With so much on the line over the next two-plus weeks, Murray’s not much inclined to think about his plans beyond 2012 much less address the situation publicly.
“I’ve had friends and everyone ask that,” Murray said Tuesday by way of Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ I’m not worried about that until after the season and then I’ll sit down with my family and make the best decision for myself and my future. I’m having too much fun right now.
“This season has been awesome. We still have so much ahead of us and so much excitement that I really don’t even have time to think about anything else. I’m just living in the moment.”
If Murray were indeed to come out, he’d likely be considered a top-five player at his position and a borderline lock as first-round pick prior to the pre-draft workouts. He also might benefit and learn from Matt Barkley‘s experience in a somewhat similar position.
Last year, Barkley was widely viewed as a top-five overall selection — if not the overall No. 1 pick — if he had decided to leave USC with eligibility still remaining. He returned to the Trojans for a final season that ended prematurely due to a shoulder injury and likely, at least in the short-term, hurt his draft stock with an up-and-down final season performance-wise.
Whether or not situations such as Barkley’s will or even should play a role at any level in Murray’s decision is open for debate. What’s not? Murray’s football future won’t be decided until the quarterback first takes care of some on-field business.
On Monday morning Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he was absolutely going to continue coaching even though his days at Georgia are coming to an end. If that is the case, Maryland would like to make that a reality for Richt.
According to a report from Inside MD Sports, Maryland has made first contact with Richt and a meeting could come as soon as tomorrow. Maryland is looking to fill a head coaching vacancy after firing Randy Edsall during the season. Richt will not be the only potential candidate to interview for the Maryland job. The Washington Post reported Monday interim head coach Mike Locksley was also given a chance to interview for the job on a permanent basis. That interview was reportedly set to happen Monday.
It would make sense for Maryland to make a call to Richt. With Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank looking to help build the Maryland program, there are sufficient funds to make a splashy hire for the program, which is showing signs of a well-structured future with plans to improve the football program. The Maryland job has some good potential in the long-term and competes in the same division as some tough opponents. That would include at least two coaches Richt is very familiar with; Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Penn State’s James Franklin. Richt faced Meyer when the Buckeyes head coach was at Florida, and Franklin of course coached at Vanderbilt. All three were in the same SEC East Division down south. Could they be reunited in the Big Ten East in 2016?
Whatever the case may be, if Maryland can land Richt as its next head coach, it would be a tremendous hire for the Terrapins. Heck, he already has the attire for it.
Nebraska will be first in line to accept a bowl invitation when it arrives in the mail, despite going 5-7 this season. The Huskers, who are first in line among 5-7 candidates based on APR scores, will reportedly accept a bowl invitation to fill the first vacancy left to fill once all bowl-eligible teams are slotted into the postseason mix.
Missouri released a statement earlier today saying it will not accept a bowl invitation following a 5-7 season. The Tigers would have been the second team among 5-7 teams to receive a bowl invitation based on APR scores. According to a report by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, Kansas State would be next in line, followed by Minnesota, San Jose State, Illinois and Rice.
Missouri and Nebraska would appear to have different agendas of course. Nebraska is coming off the first season under new head coach Mike Riley, while Missouri is in the midst of a full coaching search. The decision not to go to a bowl game allows Missouri’s coaching staff in place under the now retired Gary Pinkel to pursue new opportunities without having bowl preparations get in the way.
Maryland will have a new head coach in 2016. Whoever that head coach ends up being will have to find a way to replace one of Maryland’s best players. Defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue says he will skip his final year of eligibility with the Terrapins and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Ngakoue was the second in the Big Ten with 13.0 sacks this season, trailing only Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib. Ngakoue’s sack total is a Maryland school record and was one of the few reasons for optimism for Maryland’s dreadful football season, which ended with just three wins.
A 5-7 team is going to go bowling this season, but Missouri will not be one of them. Missouri athletics director Mack Rhoades released a statement Monday evening confirming the Tigers will not accept any bowl invitation.
“Following this weekend’s football games, there have been significant discussions nationally concerning 5-7 teams participating in bowl games,” the statement read. “After careful consideration, we have decided it is not in the best interest of our football program to seek permission from the NCAA to participate in a bowl game. Our focus remains on identifying the right leader for our program and moving forward with the transition process.”
Missouri would have been among the first of the 5-7 schools to receive an invitation to whatever bowl is left needing to fill a bowl spot this season after it became mathematically impossible to fill all available bowl spots with bowl-eligible teams. Based on APR scores, Missouri was expected to be one of the first 5-7 schools to fill an empty spot. Nebraska would be the first school in line base don APR scores, followed by the Tigers. Not anymore.
The decision also means Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel has coached his final game for the Tigers. After announcing his retirement earlier in the month, effective at the end of the season, Pinkel was prepared to coach until the end of the season even if that mean going to a bowl game. As noted in the statement, Missouri is focused on hiring a successor to Pinkel, and that search continues to develop.
Now, what other schools are going to forfeit a bowl trip?