On the coaching Richter scale, Bret Bielema‘s departure for Arkansas registered somewhere between an 11.8 and “Holy Crap!” Especially, ya know, given Bielema’s disdain for the ways of the SEC.
While most of the college football world was stunned over the completely under-the-radar development, there may have been none more so than Bielema’s boss.
Around the same time Arkansas issued a press release confirming the hiring of Bielema, Wisconsin issued a statement from athletic director Barry Alvarez addressing the development that will lead to an unexpected and unanticipated coaching search.
“I was very surprised when Bret told me he was taking the offer from Arkansas,” Alvarez’s statement began. “He did a great job for us during his seven years as head coach, both on the field and off. I want to thank him for his work and wish him the best at Arkansas.”
Bielema’s departure for Fayetteville comes three days after the Badgers won their second consecutive Big Ten title, sending UW to its third trip to the Rose Bowl in as many years.
While Bielema reportedly wants to coach the Badgers in that game (awkward), speculation is that Alvarez, who became the winningest head coach in UW history before stepping into his current AD role, would essentially take on the roll of coach emeritus for the game. Alvarez was the head coach for three UW Rose Bowl appearances, winning all three; Bielema was the head coach for UW’s last two Rose Bowl losses.
In his statement, Alvarez talked around what tack the athletic department will take when it comes to this year’s Grandaddy of Them All.
“Along with finding a new coach, my other main objective is to make sure that our student-athletes, specifically our seniors playing in their final game as Badgers, have a tremendous experience in the Rose Bowl. We will do everything within our power to make that happen.”
North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.
Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.
Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.
As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.
Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.
Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.
“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”
Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.
David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.
Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:
Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”
“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”
The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.
Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.
According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.
“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’
“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.
The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.
It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.
If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.