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SEC tops in Pro Bowl players, too

Pro Bowl AP

Surprise, right?

After claiming the past six BCS championships — with a shot at a seventh straight in the offing — and annually sending the most players, first round or otherwise, into the NFL via the April draft, it wouldn’t exactly qualify as a stunning revelation that the SEC sent the most players to the NFL’s annual farce of an exhibition game in Hawaii.  That said, we’ll go ahead with the reveal anyway.

In a press release sent out by the ACC, the SEC topped all conferences with 20 players selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl.  A total of 84 players, 42 each from the AFC and NFC, were selected to play in the late-January “contest.”

The ACC was a distant second to the SEC with 12 players selected, followed by the Big 12 (11), the Pac-12 (10), the Big Ten (8) and Conference USA (4).  And, before you ask, those were the only conferences mentioned in the release.

As far as individual schools go, both Miami and Tennessee had six players apiece selected.  Five of the six Vols were voted in as starters.

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Wisconsin makes hiring of Pitt’s Chryst officially official

Paul Chryst

The worst kept secret in this year’s coaching carousel is now out of the bag. Wisconsin has hired Paul Chryst, who had been the head coach at Pittsburgh. Wisconsin was expected to name Chryst the new head coach as soon as the vacancy opened up, but state law in Wisconsin prevented the school from extending any formal offers until Wednesday.

Chryst replaces Gary Andersen, who left Wisconsin for a lateral move to Oregon State after two years in Madison and one trip to the Big Ten championship game. Chryst may not have the accolades of a great coaching hire, he was .500 in his time at Pittsburgh, but there is much more to like about this coaching move at Wisconsin than the numbers would suggest.

Chryst is a Madison native, he played at Wisconsin for athletics director Barry Alvarez and he left Pittsburgh after a well-respected run as offensive coordinator under Bret Bielema. Now that he has a few years of head coaching experience under his belt, he arrives in Madison a more experienced option than he would have been immediately after Bielema left to coach Arkansas. His Wisconsin roots should play well with the fans and the Wisconsin program as well.

As for Pittsburgh, the search is now officially ongoing for its next head coach. Pittsburgh previously was reported to have reached out to former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. Whether Pittsburgh has any options out there that could come home in similar fashion as Chryst to Wisconsin remains to be seen, although it certainly would be nice to see Pittsburgh find its own stability at the position one of these years.

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Five-year old boy sent UAB his $1 allowance to try and help save UAB football

UAB FOOTBALL PROGRAM SHUT DOWN 12-2-14

When I was young I saved my allowance to buy baseball cards and Nintendo games. One five-year old in Ohio decided to spend his hard-earned allowance to try to save UAB football.

Bennett Williams, from Dublin, Ohio, is an Ohio State fan but adopted UAB as his second favorite team after thinking the logo for the Blazers was pretty cool. When word of UAB shutting down its football program made its way to the young boy, a will to do all he can to save the program led him to write a letter to the school, accompanied by his allowance money (one dollar). Every little bit helps, right?

The letter, as transcribed by Al.com, reads as follows;

“DEAR UAB. I LOVE OHIO STATE, BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE FOOTBALL, TOO. HERE IS ONE DOLLAR TO HELP! – BENNETT”

The letter did not go unread. UAB athletics department, Reid Adair, replied with thanks to Bennett for his letter and followed up by sending a nice little care package of UAB merchandise.

Bennett’s allowance may not have been enough to save the UAB football program, but it should do plenty to restore your faith in humanity.

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Neck condition ends career for Ohio State offensive tackle

Sometimes you just have to step away from football in order to ensure your own health and safety. Sometimes that decision is made for you by doctors. That is the case for Ohio Sate offensive tackle Kyle Dodson, who has been ruled medically ineligible to play for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State has announced that Dodson has a neck condition that will medically disqualify him from continuing to play football. Dodson was hoping to make a crack at the starting offensive line this season, but injury concerns took priority this season.

Dodson appeared in one game this season after backing up Jack Mewhort for the past two seasons. Dodson’s injury history started in high school with a back injury and shoulder surgery before arriving at Ohio State. The shoulder surgery held him back as a freshman once he arrived in Columbus. Unfortunately, that may have been a sign of things to come.

There is no word on whether or not Dodson will stick around with the team in some capacity, although in times and situations like these it is common to see players find some way to remain involved in some capacity. Here’s to hoping Dodson can remain a part of the Buckeyes program in some capacity, if he so desires.

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Key offensive Sooners should be ready for Russell Athletic Bowl

Samaje Perine

With the bowl season about the get started, Oklahoma is optimistic about the status of three key players on offense. Quarterback Trevor Knight, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard are all expected to be available to play for the Sooners when they face Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Head coach Bob Stoops provided the optimistic update of his three main offensive ingredients on Wednesday. Knight was cleared to play in the bowl game last week. That has been the plan for a while, since Knight was knocked out of a game against Baylor in early November. Knight has missed playing time due to a neck injury, but a return for the bowl game was always the goal. Nothing appears to have changed on that front, and that is good news for Oklahoma.

Perine has been working through a sprained ankle that was suffered in Oklahoma’s regular season finale loss to Oklahoma State. The star freshman running back led the Sooners with 1,579 rushing ards and 21 touchdowns this season.

Shepard is one of Oklahoma’s top wide receivers. He has been out of action since suffering a groin injury on November 1. Shepard leads Oklahoma with 957 receiving yards and five touchdowns despite the injury slowing him down at times.

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Former winners Swinney, Patterson two of 12 finalists for Dodd Trophy

David Cutcliffe, Bill Curry

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and TCU’s Gary Patterson claimed the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Trophy in 2011 and 2009, respectively.  In 2014, both coaches are up for the same honor yet again.

Tuesday evening, the Dodd Trophy released its list of 12 finalists for this season’s version of the trophy.  Five of the dozen finalists coach in the SEC, with the ACC and the Big 12, with two apiece, the only other conferences with more than one finalist.

Three of the four coaches whose teams earned a spot in the College Football Playoff made the cut: Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban.  The only playoff coach left out”  Oregon’s Mark Helfrich.

Of the 12 finalists, 11 hail from Power Five conferences.  The lone exception was Boise State’s Bryan Harsin.

Last year’s winner was Duke’s David Cutcliffe.  The winner of the 2014 Dodd Trophy will be announced in Atlanta during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl week.

2014 Dodd Trophy Finalists

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Report: Oregon fears Ifo Ekpre-Olomu sustained serious knee injury

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

When it comes to the first-ever College Football Playoff, this could turn into a significant development.

According to Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu sustained what’s believed to be a serious knee injury during practice Tuesday. Getlin writes that the “[c]oncern [is] it’s a torn ACL.”  Aaron Fentress of CSNNW.com subsequently confirmed the original report, adding that the player is “done for the playoffs.”

UO officials have yet to address Ekpre-Olomu’s status moving forward. The fear is, though, is that the senior will miss the CFP semifinal matchup in the Rose Bowl with Florida State.

If that were to happen, it’d serve as a significant blow to the Ducks.

Ekpre-Olomu was recently named first-team All-Pac-12, the third consecutive year its been accorded that honor, as well as a first-team Associated Press All-American. He’s started 40 straight games for the Ducks, and is viewed as a likely first- or second-round selection in next year’s NFL draft.

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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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