“‘Twas the day before Christmas with new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema manning his post.
“‘A running backs coach,’ Bielema wished aloud. ‘That’s what I want the most.’
“And, so, Bielema picked up the phone and gave it a dial. Joel Thomas answered in Seattle, joking to Bielema that it had been a while. Bielema offered Thomas a job, to which the coach accepted. Thomas packed his bags for Fayetteville, and that’s how he left it.”
Anyway, here’s what Bielema said less-poetically and festively in a release on Monday announcing Thomas as the Hogs’ new running backs coach.
“Joel Thomas has a proven record of developing running backs. He excelled at the position as a player and has demonstrated a remarkable ability to connect with his student-athletes and pass his knowledge on to them. He also brings a strong background of recruiting in Texas and Dallas specifically, which is a valuable area for us to have a presence. I am extremely confident in Joel’s ability based on his time spent working under Jim Chaney, and I believe Joel’s knowledge and familiarity with Coach Chaney will be a benefit to our offense.”
Thomas has coached four 1,000-yard running backs in as many years with the Huskies. In his final game with you-dub, Thomas coached Bishop Sankey, who rushed for 205 yards and was named MVP of the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
And Cory Butler-Byrd‘s trek out of Kyle Whittingham‘s doghouse has officially commenced in earnest.
Monday, the Utah wide receiver pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal in connection to an incident last month in which he allegedly damaged police property. The criminal mischief charge will be dismissed if he, among other stipulations, stays clean for the next year.
Butler-Byrd had been indefinitely suspended from the program since the initial incident. Tuesday, the football program announced in a press release that “Whittingham has reinstated Cory Butler-Byrd to the team for practice and other team activities, effective immediately.” However, he remains indefinitely suspended from participating in games.
“There is no timetable for his potential return to competition and he will not be available to the media for comment this season,” the release added.
After transferring to the Utes from the junior college ranks, Butler-Byrd began his FBS career as a cornerback. He began the transition to receiver during the 2015 season, then exited spring practice this year as the starter as a slot receiver for the Utes.
Butler-Byrd started five games last season as a corner/receiver (three at CB, two at WR), intercepting three passes and catching one pass for a 54-yard touchdown. He also returned eight kicks for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Raymon Minor reverses transfer course, returns to Virginia Tech
In mid-August, Virginia Tech announced that Raymon Minor had decided to leave first-year head coach Justin Fuente‘s Hokies football program and transfer elsewhere. Exactly 11 days later?
Tuesday, Fuente confirmed that Minor has returned to the team and will play for the Hokies in 2016. The linebacker won’t be returning on scholarship; rather, he’ll continue his career in Blacksburg as a walk-on.
It’s not clear what the impetus was for Minor’s change of heart.
247Sports.com had Minor rated as a four-star prospect in the Class of 2014, with the recruiting website putting him as the No. 19 athlete in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Virginia. The only recruits rated higher than Minor in the Hokies’ class that year were safety Holland Fisher and running back Shai McKenzie.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Minor played in eight games last season.
PHOTOS: Nebraska unveils new chrome alternative uniforms
Personally, I think Nebraska’s plain, simple, traditional uniforms were among the best in all of sports but alas, I’m not the target audience. Nor have I been for 20-plus years.
Regardless, NU’s target audience is likely pleased this afternoon as the Cornhuskers, along with apparel supplier adidas, unveiled Tuesday what is being called Husker Chrome alternate uniforms. The release states that the new uniforms are “inspired by the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, also know as the “Star City,” and “blend crisp, modernized design with a tribute to Nebraska’s clean, classic signature look.”
Translation: “we’re hoping these appeal to recruits and current players as well as our extremely loyal and rabid fan base.”
The helmets, for what it’s worth, aren’t really that bad. At all. From the release:
As a tribute to the traditional aesthetic of the Cornhuskers football program, the helmet features a metallic red “N” logo on the sides and is accented with player numbers featured in metallic red and metallic chrome outlining on the back of the helmet, showcasing the Star City’s ability to shine.
The new uniforms, which you can see below, will make their debut for the Sept. 24 game against Northwestern in Lincoln.
Michigan K Andrew David apparently transferring to TCU
Based on a couple of social media developments, it appears that TCU is gaining a placekicker/punter while Michigan is losing one.
On his protected private Twitter account, erstwhile UM kicker Andrew David changed his profile description to read, in part, “Texas Christian University Football.” Additionally, someone who’s now apparently a former teammate of David’s took to Instagram to wish him well in his new home.
A photo posted by Jon Runyan Jr. (@jon_run1) on Aug 22, 2016 at 12:33pm PDT
Neither football program have confirmed David’s departure/addition.
David took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after being expected to be a significant contributor on special teams immediately. Kenny Allen returns as the Wolverines’ primary placekicker after connecting on 18-22 field goal attempts and all 46 PATs last season, while UM also signed Quinn “Sleepover” Nordin this recruiting cycle. Nordin was the No. 1 kicker in the Class of 2016, and also averaged over 40 yards a punt in high school.