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Oregon’s rushing attack returns; Ducks scoot by Oregon State

Oregon v Oregon State Getty Images

Oregon’s hopes for a Pac-12 championship — let alone a BCS championship — partially hinged on a victory over rival Oregon State this afternoon. Following an upset loss to Stanford at home last weekend, the Ducks could not afford to lose another game.

Turns out, that wasn’t an issue. Even with a banged up Kenjon Barner, No. 5 Oregon was able to pull away from No. 16 Oregon State in the second half thanks to a plethora of turnovers and win 48-24. It was Oregon’s fifth straight Civil War victory over its in-state rival.

Barner sustained what appeared to be rib/midsection injury after rushing for 141 yards on 19 carries in the first half. He would return in the second half and ended the game with 28 carries for 198 yards and a pair of touchdowns. De’Anthony Thomas also added three rushing touchdowns. But it was the turnovers, all six of ‘em, that helped Oregon come away with the win.

Now, Oregon waits. The Ducks need UCLA to beat Stanford in Los Angeles later this evening in order to return to the Pac-12 championship game — a rematch from the ’11 game against the Bruins. But even if Oregon doesn’t make it to the Pac-12 championship game, there is a possibility, albeit however slight, that the Ducks can still make it to the BCS championship. That will require Notre Dame and Florida to lose to USC and Florida State, respectively. In fact, the Irish might need to get their clocks cleaned by the Trojans for the Ducks to have a more realistic chance of leapfrogging the Irish.

And that’s not even considering the chance that Stanford, currently No. 8 in the BCS rankings, jumps Oregon over the next couple of weeks. A lot of possibilities left. Few that favor Oregon.

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Former ‘Bama RB Alvin Kamara officially a Vol

Alvin Kamara

In June, Alvin Kamara verbally committed to continue his collegiate career at Tennessee.  Six months later, the running back followed through on that verbal pledge.

Wednesday, UT confirmed that Kamara has signed with the Vols.  Today is the first day junior college players can sign with FBS programs; Kamara spent the 2014 season at the JUCO level.

It was confirmed in January of this year that Kamara would be transferring from Alabama after just one season.  During that one year in Tuscaloosa, Kamara racked up more suspensions (two) than carries (zero).  In February, Kamara was arrested on multiple misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Coming out of Norcross, Ga., as a four-star recruit, Kamara was rated as the No. 2 all-purpose back in the country in the Class of 2013.  He’s rated as a four-star prospect this go-around too.

Prior to settling on Tennessee, Kamara had also shown interest in Clemson and Georgia.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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USC will go bowling without starting DT Antwaun Woods

Colorado v USC Getty Images

An injury will leave USC’s defensive line at less than 100-percent for the postseason.

According to the Orange County Register, Antwaun Woods sustained what was originally described as a strained pec during practice this past Saturday.  However, the injury was more than a simple strain as Woods posted a picture of himself on Instagram laying in a hospital bed.

“Fresh outta surgery, I told Coach I’m ready to play, I got too much heart for this s***! I promise I’ll be back even stronger than before!” Woods wrote on the social media website.

Woods surgery

Despite saying he’s “ready to play,” the redshirt junior nose tackle is expected to miss the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl against Nebraska.

This season, Woods started 10 of the Trojans’ 12 games after starting six in 2013 and four in 2012.  He’s currently third among USC lineman in tackles with 37.

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North Texas hires Chris Cosh as DC

Chris Cosh

Lil’ Ben, this post’s for you.

At the end of the 2014 season, John Skladany retired as North Texas’ defensive coordinator.  A couple of weeks later, Dan McCarney has his replacement as UNT announced that Chris Cosh has been hire to take over the Mean Green defense.

Cosh spent the 2014 season as the University of Buffalo’s defensive line coach.

“Chris has a tremendous blend of experience and success and comes highly recommended by some of the most respected football coaches at both the collegiate and professional levels,” the head coach said in a statement. “He has a proven track record as a coordinator and linebacker coach in the Big Ten Conference, the SEC and the Big 12 and his reputation as a tireless recruiter precedes him. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Chris to the Mean Green family.”

Cosh has served as a coordinator for 16 of his 30 seasons in coaching, including time at Kansas State, Maryland, South Carolina, Michigan State, Illinois and USF.

(Photo credit: Buffalo athletics)

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Travin Dural puts off NFL, will return to LSU

Travin Dural, Brian Poole

More so than any other football program of late, LSU has been hit hard by early departures to the NFL.  At least on one front this year, however, the Tigers were spared such a hit.

In a conversation with Baton Rouge television sports reporter Michael Cauble Tuesday, Travin Dural confirmed that he will forego early entry into the NFL draft and return to LSU for another season.  A redshirt sophomore, Dural would be eligible for early entry into the NFL draft as he’s three years removed from high school.

LSU has lost 16 players to early entry the last two years, but, as noted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the NFL has somewhat tweaked its procedures for this year’s class.

A maximum of five players from each school will receive a draft grade [from the NFL’s advisory panel] and the grades will be of three types: first round, second round or to return to school.

Regardless of the why, Dural’s return is a significant one.

In 2014, Dural was far and away the Tigers’ leader in receptions (37) receiving yards (758) and receiving touchdowns (seven).  The next closest was Trey Quinn‘s 17 catches and Malachi Dupre‘s 318 yards.

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Colorado State to interview UGA OC Mike Bobo for vacancy

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When it comes to Mike Bobo, the Georgia faithful has a love-hate relationship — a sizable chunk of them love to hate him.  Depending on how things go over the next few days, though, they might not have the offensive coordinator to kick around anymore.

Tuesday, speculation began bubbling just below the surface that Bobo was potentially a candidate to fill the head-coaching vacancy at Colorado State.  That speculation surfaced again Wednesday, with UGA athletic director Greg McGarity confirming that Bobo will interview for the CSU job.

Bobo informed head coach Mark Richt of the impending interview Tuesday, with Richt informing McGarity later that day.  Per 247Sports.com, “Bobo’s contract requires him to make higher-ups aware of legitimate interest from other employers.”

For those excited about a potential Bobo departure, you might want to tap the brakes on the excitement.

Bobo, a former Bulldog quarterback, has been a part of Richt’s staff since 2001.  At first solely the quarterbacks coach, Bobo was promoted to coordinator in 2007.

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Oliver Luck stepping down as WVU AD, taking job at NCAA

Colorado Rapids v Houston Dynamo Getty Images

In October of 2013, Oliver Luck was reportedly the top target for Texas in its search for a new athletic director.  While West Virginia held onto its athletic director then, it appears there’s no such luck, so to speak, this time around.

According to Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail, Luck will step down as WVU’s athletic director to take a position with the NCAA.  In confirming Casazza’s report, ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy tweeted that “Luck’s new position at NCAA will be second in command behind NCAA President Mark Emmert.”

An official announcement is expected at some point today.

Luck was hired by WVU in June of 2012, coming back to his alma mater from the private sector.  In the late seventies and on into the early eighties, Luck played quarterback for the Mountaineers.

Andrew Luck, Oliver’s son, is the starting quarterback of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.  As luck would have it, the NCAA’s offices are located in the city of Indianapolis.  Whether that had any impact on the elder Luck’s decision is unknown.

The impact of Luck’s departure won’t be limited solely to WVU. This year, Luck was one of the 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee.  Each of the Power Five conferences have one current athletic director on the committee; because of Luck’s new position, the Big 12 will be forced to find a replacement for 2015.

Look for Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione‘s name to be mentioned heavily in that capacity.

UPDATED 11:01 a.m. ET: The NCAA confirmed in a press release that Oliver Luck has been named as the executive vice president of regulatory affairs. The newly-created position is described as bringing “the national office regulatory functions – academic and membership affairs, the Eligibility Center and enforcement – under one umbrella.” “In particular,” the release stated, Luck “will be charged with developing stronger integration among regulatory staffs, improving efficiency and strengthening relationships with NCAA colleges and universities.”

“I am very pleased to have Oliver joining our team in the national office,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “He brings to us wide ranging, hands-on experience from across athletic, academic, and business worlds. Most important, his commitment to the success and well-being of our student-athletes is unquestionable. He has demonstrated that commitment on the ground and throughout his life. I’m anxious for him to get started with us.”

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San Diego State OC Bob Toledo to retire after bowl game

Bob Toledo stands with his team

A coaching career that began nearly a half a century ago is set to come to an end.

At a press conference Tuesday, San Diego State offensive coordinator Bob Toledo announced that he will be retiring at season’s end. Toledo’s last game will be SDSU’s San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl matchup with Navy Dec. 23.

According to Toledo, he had essentially made the decision to retire prior to the start of the 2014 season, with Aztecs head coach Rocky Long saying that he was made aware of the coordinator’s final decision midseason.

“I miss ‘em, ” Long said of his children and grandchildren, both of whom were a significant impetus for his decision. “I mean, they’re growing up and I just wanna be with ‘em.”

The 68-year-old Toledo — he’ll be 69 in March — came out of an initial retirement, one that lasted all of one season, in 2013 to take over SDSU’s offense. At the FBS level, he’s served as a coordinator at Oregon (1983-88), Texas A&M (19889-93), UCLA (1994-95) and New Mexico (2006).

Toledo’s likely most known for his seven-year stint as UCLA’s head coach (1996-2002). He compiled a 49-32 record and won back-to-back Pac-10 titles (1997-98) as the Bruins’ coach. Four straight losses to cross-town rival USC — as well as a 24-22 record in that span — led to his dismissal.

In addition to UCLA, Toledo was also the head coach at Tulane (2007-11), Pacific (1979-82) and UC-Riverside (1974-75). His overall mark as a college head coach stands at 93-108.

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Shaq Thompson still mulling football future

Shaq Thompson AP

Shaq Thompson is officially the most versatile football player in the country. Whether said versatility will be on display at the collegiate or professional level in 2015 is still undecided.

Following practice Tuesday, the Washington linebacker/running back was asked about his football future, whether he would forego his remaining eligibility and declare early for the NFL draft or return to the Huskies for another season. According to the player, he will utilize the Christmas holidays to talk to his family and coaches and get a handle on the football direction in which he wants to head.

“Just sitting down with my family and Coach [Chris Petersen] and some of the coaches and just think about it,” Thompson said. “We’ll see. I don’t know. I’m just focused on this last game and going to see my family.”

Should Thompson opt to return to the Huskies, or leave early for the draft, he’ll still be one of the most intriguing players at either level.

This season, Thompson scored six touchdowns — four defensively, two on offense. The four defensive touchdowns (three on fumble returns, on an interception return) were the most at the FBS level.  Offensively, he was second on the Huskies in rushing yards with 456.

The Associated Press named him as a first-team All-American Tuesday. Earlier this month, he was named as the 2014 Hornung Award winner.

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Greg Schiano to Pittsburgh isn’t a crazy idea, it’s a solid plan

Louisville Cardinals v Rutgers Scarlet Knights Getty Images

Pittsburgh is expecting to have a coaching vacancy to fill in the next 24 hours, and apparently Pittsburgh Athletics Director Steve Pederson is not wasting time preparing to fill it. With Paul Chryst in Madison ready to accept a formal job offer to become the new head coach at Wisconsin — the Badgers are looking for a replacement for Gary Andersen, who accepted a job offer at Oregon State — Pittsburgh is in need of a coach that can provide some sense of stability with the program.

Among the first candidates known to be contacted by Pitt as a possible candidate for the upcoming vacancy is former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. It’s not a bad way to get started.

By now Schiano’s profile is pretty well known. It has its ups and downs, no question. The positives include going 68-67 in 11 seasons at Rutgers, and yes, that is a huge positive given the state of Rutgers football before Schiano took over. Rutgers won 67 games between 1984 and 2000 (17 years). It took Schiano six fewer seasons to win one more game than that span. Rutgers played in six bowl games under Schiano after playing in just one bowl game in its entire program history before Schiano was hired. Yes, there were more bowl games that needed teams to play, but Schiano still had to make Rutgers a bowl-eligible program (6 wins) just three times dating back to 1980 before he was hired.

From a stability standpoint, Schiano would seem to have plenty to offer. After all, if he stuck around at Rutgers for 11 seasons when potential opportunities elsewhere may have been available, Pitt should probably feel comfortable with the idea Schiano will stick around.

Just keeping a coach for a full length of a contract would be a refreshing change of pace for the Panthers at this point. Schiano would likely do just that. After his brief stint in the NFL became a notable tire fire, the chances he would be leaving for the NFL again are virtually non-existent.

Schiano will know how to recruit in traditional Pittsburgh recruiting battlegrounds. He did so at Rutgers, and he made inroads in the state of New Jersey. He would have the potential to see similar success in a competitive western Pennsylvania (Penn State, Ohio State, West Virginia).

This could also be a case where some time off pays off well for a head coach, who may have needed a break from the game as much as anyone. Schiano last coached in 2013 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a year away from the game, now may be the time to bring Schiano back to the college game. A return to the college game after a rough spell in the NFL has served coaches well before (Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Pete Carroll).

Schiano could be next.

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Miami and Nike could be going separate ways after 26 years

Corn Elder, Tracy Howard

Nike will still own a large share of the college athletics apparel deals among division one football programs, but it could be losing one of its long-standing partners; Miami.

Earlier today Arizona State formally announced a new apparel deal with Adidas, which brought an end to its previous arrangement with Nike. According to Arizona State, the deal with Adidas was valued far more than what Nike paid for the previous contract. It appears money could be the reason Miami and Nike go their separate ways as well.

Palm Beach Post reports Miami has not renewed its contract with Nike. The contract does not expire until the end of August 2015, but apparel companies need time to prepare for the uniforms that will have to be worn once the new contract gets started. That requires time to plan and design the features of each uniform for each athletics program. Because of tat, Miami is in the midst of securing its apparel partnership for beyond August 2015 now.

Two suitors have presented offers to Miami, Adidas and Under Armour. Nike is given an opportunity to match any offer, but the price tag may be too high for Nike. Keep in mind that Nike has  more obligations to other schools than Adidas and Under Armour have combined, so Nike may not want to raise the expense too much on their end (otherwise Nike would risk other schools asking for a higher contribution, and that adds up quickly and likely results in losing partners to competitors).

According to the report from Palm Beach Post, the offers presented by Adidas and Under Armour are expected to be “several million dollars per year richer than Nike’s deal.”

Miami was one fo the first signature programs to sign an exclusive deal with Nike. It was the first of its kind, really, and came at a time when the Hurricanes were in their prime as a national title contender. The U profited from its deal with Nike, and the idea caught on like a wildfire across the college athletics scene.

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Contract for new UNLV coach unanimously approved

UNLV Introduces Tony Sanchez Getty Images

There was a brief conversation about whether or not UNLV’s new head coach was qualified for the position of head coach, but any concern was quickly put to rest by the Board of Regents. The regents voted unanimously in favor of a contract for new head coach Tony Sanchez, thus making his hiring formally official.

Sanchez is making the leap to head coach of the FBS program straight from high school, although a very successful stint as high school coach in the state of Nevada. Sanchez was named the head coach of the Rebels last week, but the board still needed to formally approve his contract.

According to information reported by Las Vegas Sun, Sanchez will be paid $2 million over the course of his four–year contract. His base salary is $500,000.

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Report: Wisconsin to introduce Paul Chryst as new head coach tomorrow

Paul Chryst

The worst-kept secret in the Big Ten, and the ACC, is Paul Chryst was likely to be named the new head coach at Wisconsin as soon as possible. This became much more obvious when Chryst informed his Pittsburgh players following a Tuesday practice he was on his way to Madison to discuss the coaching vacancy at Wisconsin. Reports surfacing Tuesday evening say Wisconsin will introduce Chryst as the new head coach approximately 90 minutes after it will become legal to offer the job to any candidate.

Benjamin Worgull of BadgerNation.com reports a press conference will be held at approximately 6:00 p.m. Central to introduce Chryst to the Wisconsin media.

If he has not already, Pitt Athletics Director Steve Pederson may want to start making some phone calls to potential candidates to be the next head coach in western Pennsylvania. Pederson had appeared somewhat optimistic about his chances of keeping Chryst in charge at Pitt, but perhaps that was a bluff or ignorance.

Chryst will replace Gary Andersen, who left Wisconsin for a head coaching job at Oregon State.

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Jimbo Fisher: Nile Lawrence-Stample has chance to return for Rose Bowl

Brandon Ross, Niles Lawrence-Stample

When Florida State defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample went down in late September with an injury, it was believed his season was done. It turns out his season may not be done just yet.

Following a practice on Tuesday, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher acknowledged the defensive tackle’s return to practice, wearing shoulder pads. Fisher said Lawrence-Stample is doing well and may even have a chance to play for the Seminoles in the Rose Bowl, the semifinal in the College Football Playoff against Oregon.

“Doing really well (in his rehab),” Fisher said, according to a Warchant report. “He’ll have a chance to be in there. There’s a possibility. He should be out here the next couple days in pads.”

Lawrence-Stample tore his pectoral muscle in a September game against Clemson. He finished playing in the Clemson game, an overtime victory to keep the unbeaten streak alive, but was ruled out for the remainder of the 2014 season shortly after.

It is probably unlikely Lawrence-Stample will move right back into a starting position after missing the last 10 games of the year for the Seminoles, but having him available even if just to rotate in and out n the line should help Florida State’s defensive efforts combatting Oregon’s offense.

“It really could [help depth],” Fisher said. “Give you a lot of reps, give you quality, give you size, girth. Nile is a heck of a player, now. He was fixing to have a great year. He has power, speed and all that. He’s in good shape. We just have to get him back to playing football.”

Florida State will face Oregon in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2015.

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MSU QB Connor Cook says he has “unfinished business,” will return in 2015

Connor Cook

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will reportedly return to the Spartans in 2015, instead of taking an early departure to the NFL in the spring.

A junior, Cook is wrapping up his second season as Michigan State’s starting quarterback. Some draft analysts feel Cook would have a chance to be drafted in the first round, but it seems he would have been more likely to go in the second or even the third round.

Cook passed for 2,900 yards and 22 touchdowns this season, with six interceptions. A season after leading Michigan State to a Big Ten championship and victory in the Rose Bowl, Cook now hopes to take the Spartans to the next step after seeing Ohio State bypass his Spartans in the Big Ten in 2014. Michigan State looked to be an early College Football Playoff contender in 2014, but an early loss to Oregon and a later loss to Ohio State took the defending Big Ten champs out of the playoff picture.

It did not, however, take Michigan State out of the College Football Playoff bowl line-up. The Spartans are preparing to take on co-Big 12 champion Baylor in the Cotton Bowl this bowl season. Michigan State has never won major bowl games in back-to-back seasons, but Cook could make some history with a good performance against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.

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Arizona State cashes in by choosing adidas over Nike

ASU-Adidas

It is not often schools voluntarily leave Nike for a rival apparel company to supply athletic gear as a sponsor, but Arizona State did just that on Tuesday. The school announced a new sponsorship deal with Adidas which will bring in nearly twice as much in sponsorship money as Arizona State’s previous deal with Nike.

Arizona State’s new deal is an eight-year agreement that will provide 17 athletics programs with footwear, apparel and more.

“We not only made a decision that was advantageous for Sun Devil Athletics financially, but a partnership decision that will undoubtedly advance our brand based on the innovation of the company and commitments that adidas has outlined,” said Arizona State Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson in a press release.

The big advantage will be the $33.8 million being pumped into the athletics program over the span of the eight-year contract. Reaction from fans has been mixed on various social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, especially after Arizona State worked with Nike to rebrand the athletics program with a new look that was largely received very well. Many football uniforms by adidas in recent years have done more to draw criticisms over compliments, which continues to be one fear for some fans. But money talks, and adidas was prepared to make a solid investment in adding Arizona State to its list of clients.

This is the first new NCAA licensing partnership for adidas since 2009 when the company partnered up with Mississippi State. Other schools partnered with adidas include Michigan, UCLA, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville and North Carolina State.

(Except for Arizona, which beat Arizona State in the final game of the regular season to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Just saying.)

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