Florida pushed around by Louisville in Sugar Bowl

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With a 14.5 point spread, the Sugar Bowl between Florida and Louisville wasn’t projected to be all that competitive. That turned out to pretty much be the case, but it was the Cardinals, not the Gators, dominating in shocking fashion.

From the first play from scrimmage — literally, a pick-six by Louisvlle’s Terell Floyd — the Cardinals had Florida out of its comfort zone and trying to play catch-up. That’s not exactly what the Gators are designed to do and No. 22 Louisville handed a 33-23 loss to No. 4 Florida for the biggest win in program history and one of the biggest upsets in a BCS game.

The loss drops the SEC to 3-3 this bowl season with Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi still left to play. None of the three should be considered massive favorites to win their bowls, either.

The Gators have been known for its top-10 defense all season. It’s what’s saved them a time or four in close games. But Florida was mostly unable to stop Teddy Bridgewater, who threw for 266 yards and a pair of scores. That’s the most yardage a Florida defense has given up since Nov. 5 of last year.

Leading up to the Sugar Bowl, Florida safety Matt Elam (pictured) said Bridgewater was the best quarterback his team would face this season. Better than Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Better than Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M.  That’s high praise, but Bridgewater didn’t do anything to suggest Elam wasn’t right.

It helps that he usually had all day to throw. Louisville’s offensive line didn’t always run block well — the Cardinals continued to struggle in the run game with just 70 yards — but did they ever pass protect, and in crucial spots too. Louisville was 9-of-14 on third down conversions against the mighty Gator defense and punted just once all night. When Louisville didn’t score, it was because the Cardinals stopped themselves with a missed field goal or interception.

While Louisville and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson deserve all the credit for a solid offensive showing, Florida’s defense deserves at least a little of the blame for being off. Florida was college football’s only defense from a BCS conference that hadn’t allowed a touchdown pass of 15 yards or longer all season, yet Bridgewater’s scores were from 15 and 19 yards.

But Will Muschamp failed to put the defense in better situations. The offense, which has been a liability all year, had three turnovers and couldn’t do much outside of picking apart a prevent defense. A failed onside kick with two personal foul penalties tacked on gave Louisville the ball at the Gators 19-yard line to start the second half. Bridgewater tossed a touchdown pass to Damian Copeland on the next play.

Speaking of penalties, Florida had a lot of ’em — nine for 98 yards to be exact. It was an all around bad night for a team that had the most impressive body of work this season. To end it a sour note against a team that will be getting a lot of preseason hype in 2013 will have Muschamp looking for answers this spring, especially on offense.

Miami CB Malek Young to undergo career-ending neck surgery

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Miami cornerback Malek Young left in the second quarter of the Hurricanes’ Orange Bowl loss to Wisconsin and never returned. That fateful play that knocked him out, we now know, has ended Young’s promising career.

Young suffered a neck injury against the Badgers, and the surgery to fix it will force the end of the rising junior’s career.

“After discussions with my family and the UM medical staff we have determined that my football career should come to an end,” Young said in a statement. “I look forward to getting healthy, working towards my degree and continuing to support my teammates, as I know they will continue to support me.”

These unfortunate situations are always double-edged swords. First, you’re disappointed that a career ends before it has to end. But at the same time you’re thankful that the player gets out of the game before a catastrophic injury can occur, leaving him healthy to live the rest of his non-football life.

“While we’re disappointed that Malek’s football career is over, his health is our top priority,” head coach Mark Richt said. “Malek is a terrific young man, one who I’m confident will go on to accomplish great things. He will remain on full scholarship and we will support him every step of the way.”

Young appeared in all 13 games this season, collecting 43 tackles, three tackles for loss, two picks — the Miami Herald noted Young was the first player to receive Miami’s noted Turnover Chain — and a team-high eight pass breakups.

Mark Dantonio gives cautious statement of support to MSU president Lou Anna Simon amid Larry Nassar scandal

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The Larry Nassar case has quickly become college sports’s biggest, ugliest scandal since the Jerry Sandusky fiasco at the early part of this decade. The longtime professor at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and sports physician for the Spartans (he also held the same job for USA Gymnastics) has been accused of a long, systematic career of sexually assaulting young women while on the job for Michigan State — and not only that, but that Michigan State higher-ups were aware of Nassar’s behavior and did nothing.

Nassar’s trial — he pleaded guilty to more than 100 counts of sexual abuse of girls and young women — is in the sentencing phase now, where victim after victim has come forward to recount their abuse at his hands. You’ve probably seen Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman‘s testimony by now.

Michigan State’s Board of Trustees announced Friday that Lou Anna Simon would remain on as school president despite the school’s reported knowledge of Nassar’s crimes and the school being named alongside Nassar in a civil lawsuit. The Nassar scandal has cost Michigan State $10 million and counting thus far.

“As part of the Board’s oversight authority, we will retain independent external assistance to support our responsibilities to the university community and the public at large,” the board said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support.”

Though one Trustee has since called for president Lou Anna Simon‘s immediate resignation, she remains in place today. Which means Mark Dantonio has to talk about her.

As one of the two highest-profile employees — sitting alongside men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo — on the Michigan State payroll, Dantonio’s support or lack thereof of the school president matters.

And as of now, Dantonio supports Simon.

Speaking at the Michigan high school coach’s clinic in Lansing last week, Dantonio gave this cautious, begrudging statement. Via the Detroit Free Press:

“Well, obviously our hearts go out to the victims in this case. It’s a very, very difficult situation for them. It’s awful. I guess with that said, in 11 years of dealing with President Simon on so many different occasions and in so many different areas, I’ve always found her to be very reflective, very calm in the storm, very on-point. And I’ve always appreciated that about her. She’s much like a head coach. In my little world that I’m in – and I can’t control things at times – I would say she is in a very difficult and delicate situation. I really don’t think that I’m even qualified to talk on it, but I can only speak to my involvement with her and how she’s handled very difficult situations. I think she’s led from that perspective with Mark Dantonio and our football team.”

Though calling for your boss’s firing when the school’s board of trustees would be beyond the norms of the industry, one can imagine how much a call for Simon’s firing by the head coach of the football team would sway public opinion.

Late Colorado RB Rashaan Salaam’s Heisman sold for a record $400K

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A new record has been set, although it’s not one anyone is celebrating.

The Heisman Trophy of the late Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam has been sold at an auction for a record price of $399,608. That number beats out the previous record held by Bruce Smith, a 1941 winner out of Minnesota, whose stiffarm trophy sold for $395,240 in 2005. The winner of Saturday’s auction is not immediately known.

Salaam passed away in 2016 in a death that was ruled as a suicide. He was 42. His Heisman was put up for auction last month, with a target price of $300,000. CTE is believed to be a motivator in his suicide, and the record funds will be used to contribute to CTE research.

How Salaam’s trophy went up for auction in the first place is a point of considerable controversy. The official story is that Salaam sold his trophy in 2014 to a memorabilia collector — winners are officially prohibited from selling their trophies, though who’s going to stop them? — who sold it to Denver real estate investor Tyler Tysdal, who put it up for Saturday’s auction and says he has a signed letter of authenticity from the winner himself and an invoice. However, Salaam’s mother believes it was stolen.

“When we went to Boulder to bury Rashaan … I didn’t see it in his apartment,” Khalada said. “I thought it was in a restaurant or something. I thought it would pop up,” Khalada Salaam told CBS Sports. “It didn’t pop up.”

Salaam won the 1994 Heisman as a junior running back for Colorado. He rushed for 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns while helping the Buffaloes finish 10-1 with a No. 4 final ranking. He beat out Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter, Alcorn State quarterback Steve McNair and Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins for the honor.

Salaam entered the NFL draft in 1995, where he was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears.

Report: Ryan Day considering leaving Ohio State to join former Buckeye’s NFL staff

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Former Ohio State linebacker Mike Vrabel is now the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, and one of his first moves as head coach will be to weaken his alma mater.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Vrabel wants to hire Ohio State quarterbacks coach Ryan Day as his offensive coordinator.

Day spent just a year at Ohio State and has never worked with Vrabel, but it’s his connection to another pair of major college football figures that has pointed the new Titans head coach in Day’s direction. Day spent his formative college years playing and working for Chip Kelly at New Hampshire, then re-joined him in the NFL as the quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Titans, of course, are quarterbacked by former Kelly protege and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Mariota’s lack of progress is the reason Mike Mularkey was not retained in the first place, so Vrabel’s choice here is a significant one.

In his first season on staff, Day helped J.T. Barrett show significant improvement from his junior to senior seasons. After ranking 55th nationally in passing efficiency in 2016, Barrett leaped up to eighth this fall, connecting on 64.7 percent of his passes for 3,053 yards (8.2 per attempt) with 35 touchdowns against nine interceptions en route to winning the Big Ten and the Cotton Bowl.

Ohio State will have to replace Barrett heading into 2018, and now it seems like Urban Meyer may have to replace his quarterbacks coach on top of his quarterback.