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2013: A look ahead

Carnac

What’s that you say?  It’s barely stopped raining confetti following Alabama’s BCS title game win over Notre Dame and we’re already talking about a 2013 season that won’t start for another eight months?

You damn right we are.  And you know why?  ’Cause that’s how we roll.  Or something.

Each of the past three years, before the last piece of title-game confetti had fluttered to the ground and while the corpse of the previous season was still somewhat warm, I dusted off the trusty crystal ball and flung a few predictions up against the next season’s wall with the hope that something, anything, would stick.  Hilarity ensued when I picked Alabama as the No. 1 team in 2010 (they finished No. 10); Oklahoma in 2011 (they finished No. 16) and USC in 2012 (they finished No. ROTFLMAO!!!).  There were guffaws as far as the eye could see as I asked questions like “Have the Conference Musical Chairs Stopped?” and “Is This the Year the SEC’s Streak Stops?” — hell no to both — or listed 10 (10!!!) preseason Heisman contenders for the 2012 season and not a single one of ’em was even a finalist.

Yet here I am a year later, ready to once again expose my utter lack of prognosticating abilities for all the world to see.  So, without further ado, here’s what I, CFT’s resident Nostradumbass, think may — or may not — happen leading up to and during the 2013 season.

FIVE COMPELLING STORYLINES

1. DO I HEAR EIGHT IN A ROW?
For the past couple of years in this space, I’ve asked if the SEC can win five BCS titles in a row… six in a row… seven in a row… and each year the answer’s been a resounding “hell yes y’all!”  And why not?  Not only has the preeminent football conference in America won seven consecutive crystal footballs, they’ve won nine of the 15 played in the BCS era.  Unfortunately for the rest of the country, a downward trend doesn’t appear to be in the offing.  Sure, a team or two might take a dip in 2013 — I’m looking at you, LSU — but Alabama will be, well, Alabama, and Texas A&M appears to be on the verge of leaping on to the national stage.  Florida, should they get a handle on the quarterback situation and the embarrassing bowl performance against Louisville notwithstanding, should continue their upward trajectory in Year Three under Will Muschamp.  Georgia, with quarterback Aaron Murray returning for one more season, and South Carolina, despite the early loss of Marcus Lattimore, should be formidable if not on the fringe of the national title discussion.  In other words,  expect one or more SEC teams to be deep in the mix at the end in the final year of the BCS.  Speaking of which…

Death to the BcS2. DING, DONG THE BCS IS DEAD
Well, almost.  2013 will mark the final year of the bastard system utilized to crown a national champion since 1998, set to be replaced after the 2014 season with a slightly less bastardized version in the form of a four-team playoff.  While the new system is far from perfect, and a more equitable eight-team playoff will come sooner rather than later, the four-team parlay is already light years ahead of what the BCS had ever hoped to be and it’s yet to be officially implemented.  Granted, the BCS was a “better” system for crowing a champion than strictly polls, but that’s sort of like saying you own the nicest Yugo — it’s not exactly something you want to say or admit out loud.  Where will the new system take us?  Who cares, as long as it’s far, far away from the mess that is — and soon to be was — the BCS.

3. JANE, STOP THIS CRAZY CONFERENCE THING!
Expansion musical chairs has been an overriding theme in each of the past two look-aheads, and there’s no reason to think the shuffling will stop anytime soon.  At this time last year, who foresaw that Maryland and Rutgers would announce they were leaving the ACC and Big East, respectively, for the Big Ten, or that Louisville would ditch the Big East for the ACC, or that Boise State would turn its back on a 2013 move to the Big East to remain in the Mountain West?  The ACC, Big Ten and SEC all are at 14 current and future members, while the Big 12 is, for the moment, standing pat at 10.  The whispers are already out there that the ACC will race to become the first “real” 16-team superconference… unless the Big Ten beats them to it by, in part, raiding the ACC… unless the SEC beats the Big Ten to the punch by, in part, raiding the ACC.  In other words, we have very likely not seen the last of expansion talk and teams bolting this conference for that one and leagues like the Big East folding up their football shop and the like.  Hooray!?!

4. NO DUCKING THE NCAA
While Oregon is rightly basking in the glow of Chip Kelly‘s return to Eugene, there’s an NCAA elephant squatting smack dab in the middle of the room.  At some point this year, likely in the spring, Oregon officials will appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions to answer allegations of recruiting improprieties related to street agent Willie Lyles.  Essentially, UO has been accused of paying $25,000 for bogus and outdated scouting reports of high school players in exchange for, as Lyles himself stated, steering recruits — including Lache Seastrunk — to the Ducks.  How big of a hammer will the NCAA whip out and will it tear down, at least for the short-term, all or most of what Kelly’s built at the school?  Some are saying that Kelly’s return is a sign that the sanctions may not be as heavy-handed as some expect.  Until a decision is actually handed down, expect pins and needles to rule the day as the university, athletic department and football program braces itself for deeply punitive sanctions.

5. BIELAMA’S UNLIKELY MARRIAGE
Don’t know about you, but I was beyond floored — and I wasn’t the only one — upon hearing that Bret Bielema was leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas.  Sure, he wanted to get out from under Barry Alvarez‘s immense shadow… and, unlike at UW, he and his assistants are getting p-a-i-d paid… and he spent some time in the state as a youth, but he has absolutely no ties to that area of the country or the conference; he played his college ball at Iowa, and his collegiate coaching stops have included his alma mater, Kansas State and UW.  Essentially, he’s a Big Ten guy with a sprinkling of the Big 12.  How will he fare in the rough and tumble SEC on the field and, perhaps more importantly, on the hyper-competitive southern recruiting trail?  I have no clue, but it should be fascinating to sit back and watch unfold.

EARLY-BIRD TOP FIVE

1. Alabama
Back-to-back BCS championships, three crystal footballs in four years.  Will return somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 starters and 37 or so from the two-deep depth chart.  Nick Saban, well on his way to staking his claim to the greatest coach at the FBS level of all-time, will return.  A 2013 recruiting class that’s currently ranked No. 2 in the country — oddly enough, behind the team they eviscerated for their latest title.  I seriously considered putting one of the three teams immediately below ‘Bama at the No. 1 spot; after seeing it laid out so starkly as it is in the previous sentences, there was simply no way I could justify anyone but the Tide in the top spot.

2. Ohio StateUrban Meyer, Braxton Miller
In Urban Meyer‘s first season, with nothing to play for but pride and a “I won the Big Ten Leaders division and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” consolation prize, the Buckeyes went a perfect 12-0.  At the end of the 2012 season, Meyer felt his team could compete with any in the country; thanks to NCAA sanctions and a shortsighted administration, proving it in the postseason wasn’t an option.  That will change this year as the one-year bowl ban is over, and all signs point to Meyer and his Buckeyes bullrushing back to the national stage.  Not only does tOSU return several key components on both sides of the ball (they do lose seven defensive starters, though), the schedule has “run me” written all over — the nonconference slate is more than manageable, with a road trip to Cal and a home date with San Diego State only remotely resembling potential stumbling blocks, while the first seven games of the Big Ten schedule sees Wisconsin and Penn State visiting Ohio Stadium.  The toughest game, at least on paper, doesn’t come until last: a late-November road trip to the Big House for a date with hated rival Michigan.  It’s conceivable, based on how they finished 2012 as well as how 2013 sets up, that the Buckeyes could head into Ann Arbor riding a winning streak approaching two-dozen games.  And my apologies, Buckeye Nation, for totally jinxing that possibility.

3. Texas A&M
By the time the curtain had fallen on the 2012 season, and if there had been a playoff system in place, the Aggies had become the proverbial team that no one wanted to face.  And for good reason.  In its first season in the big, bad SEC, A&M won 11 games and lost just two — by three points to Florida in what turned out to be both the season and conference opener for the Aggies, and by five to LSU.  The smashing debut included signature wins over top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a blowout of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, as well as a healthy dose of optimism for what 2013 will bring.  With the reigning Heisman winner in tow, the Aggies will be expected to match or exceed the breakout year.  Will they be able to handle the pressure of being the hunted instead of the hunter?  With Kevin Sumlin in charge, we’d lean toward the affirmative.

4. Oregon
The 2013 season hasn’t even started and the Ducks have already earned what will prove to be their biggest win of the year.  After yet another round of flirtations with the NFL, Chip Kelly decided that his heart’s in Eugene and returned to UO for at least another season — until the New England Patriots job opens up, of course.  The Ducks would’ve been fine with offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich taking over; they’ll be even better because the man who built the Ducks into a national powerhouse — 46-7 in his four years, four BCS bowl games and three Pac-12 titles — is sticking around to build on his burgeoning legacy.  Oh, and the fact that Marcus Mariota, the triggerman of UO’s offensive juggernaut who deserves more national acclaim than he gets, is returning as well doesn’t exactly hurt, either.

5. Stanford
When Jim Harbaugh bolted for the NFL, many thought the Cardinal would sink back to the depths from which it came; 11 wins in 2011 showed the program is bigger than any one coach. When Andrew Luck bolted for the NFL, many thought, once again, the Cardinal would sink back to the depths from which it came; 12 wins in 2012 showed the program is bigger than any one player. Anyone want to doubt them a third straight year? The Cardinal returns 16 starters from its Pac-12-winning 2012 squad, a total that includes quarterback Kevin Hogan, the redshirt freshman who quietly became one of the most promising players at his position in his first stint as a starter. Head coach David Shaw not only maintained what Harbaugh built down on The Farm but enhanced it, adding to the foundation and ensuring success will continue regardless of personnel losses. Bet against “14 for ’13” at your own peril.

THREE RISERS
Teams outside the final Top 10 that could be in it in 2013

Teddy Bridgewater, Charlie Strong1.Louisville
In my preseason Top 25, I lamented that, at No. 24, I was rating Louisville too low and “will likely regret it at season’s end.”  After 11 wins, a No. 13 ranking and the demolition of then-No. 4 Florida in the Sugar Bowl, I was right.  This year, though, that won’t be the case as the Cardinals, on the strength of the return of the sublime Teddy Bridgewater and the continuing presence of head coach Charlie Strong, are poised to sniff the Top 10 in the preseason rankings.

2. UCLA
With nine wins in 2012 in Jim Mora‘s first season at the school, UCLA posted its best mark since a 10-win season in 2005.  While the season finished with three straight losses — including back-to-back defeats to Stanford — the Bruins did claim quality wins over the likes of Nebraska, Arizona and USC.  With the Trojans plummeting toward mediocrity, the Bruins should be the class of the Pac-12 South yet again and the odds-on favorite for a a third consecutive appearance in the conference championship game — if not more.

3. Clemson
OK, this is cheating a little bit as the Tigers were just barely outside of the Top Ten at No. 11, but I need all the softballs I can take a whack at.  And, thanks to the (likely) return of Tajh Boyd, the Tigers afford me that opportunity.  Clemson’s two losses in 2012 came at the hands of 12-win Florida State and 11-win South Carolina, and they actually led each of those games at halftime before crumbling in the second half.  Call it a hunch, but the Tigers learned enough from those pair of disappointments to flip that script around in 2013 versus high-quality competition.

THREE TUMBLERS
Teams inside the final Top 25 that could struggle

1. Kansas State
While I don’t believe there will be a drastic drop-off for the Wildcats,  there should be at least a dip.  Heisman finalist Collin Klein is gone to expired eligibility, leaving a significant hole in both experience and leadership at the quarterback position.  All told, the Wildcats will lose 12 starters, including nine on the defensive side of the ball.  That formula has rebuilding year written all over it.

2. LSU
Losing nearly two handfuls of talented juniors won’t help LSU’s cause in 2013, even as the Tigers possess a wealth of talented albeit inexperienced replacements.  Nor will a schedule that includes a neutral site nonconference game with what should be a much-improved TCU squad as well as SEC road trips to Alabama and Georgia, although that’s mitigated somewhat by drawing Florida and Texas A&M at home.  LSU could take a half-step back in 2013, which means merely fighting for a top-ten spot instead of hovering around the top five and in the discussion for a BCS berth — championship game or otherwise .

3. Notre Dame
Yes, Notre Dame could very well begin the 2013 season inside the top five of the polls, and the talent they return would warrant such a lofty ranking.  However, the Irish won five of their games in 2012 by seven points or less, including one in overtime and another in triple overtime. Provided the talent level stays roughly the same, can the Domers expect to catch the same breaks and bounces — or officiating calls — in close games this season that they did last?  I say, even with a favorable schedule, not nearly to 2012’s degree, but your mileage may vary

RON ZOOK MEMORIAL COACHING HOT SEAT

Notre Dame v USC1. Lane Kiffin, USC
By any measure imaginable, the 2012 was an unmitigated disaster for USC.  The Trojans began the season ranked No. 1 in the country… and proceeded to become the first team in history with such a lofty ranking in the preseason to finish outside the Top 25 and culminated a six-loss season with an embarrassing performance in their bowl game.  The calls for Kiffin to be ousted grew louder as the season went further in the tank; a repeat performance in 2013 will earn Kiffin a well-deserved trip to the coaching unemployment line.

2. Mack Brown, Texas
Yes, Brown is signed through the 2020 season.  Yes, high-powered UT officials have been steadfast in their public support of their long-time head coach.  No, 15 losses in the past three years — one more than the Longhorns had in the past nine seasons combined — is not acceptable for a program accustomed to the national stage, especially when two of those defeats have come to rival Oklahoma by scores of 63-21 and 55-17 the past two seasons.  While quarterback continues to be an embarrassment for a program in the QB-rich state, the position is positively Vince Young-esque compared to a defense that was statistically the worst in the history of the storied program.  We know, it’s highly doubtful that Brown’s actually on the hot seat.  And that’s part of the problem — he deserves to be.

3. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
In its first season in the SEC, Mizzou failed to meet even modest expectations by winning just five games and finishing with a 2-6 conference record, with the lone wins coming at the expense of conference featherweights Kentucky and Tennessee (sorry Vols). That miserable showing was compounded by fellow Big 12 refugee Texas A&M stunning the college football world by coming out of the gate with an 11-win season — including handing Alabama its lone loss of the regular season — in its first year in the SEC.  While 2012 was Mizzou’s worst under Pinkel since 2004, being a member of the SEC, replete with its additional revenue and exposure, brings with it exponentially more pressure on the head coach to succeed.  Pinkel realized immediate improvement is a must as he “parted ways” with long-time offensive coordinator David Yost.  Another season like this last one, and the Mizzou administration could find themselves “parting ways” with their long-time head coach.

4. Randy Edsall, Maryland
This one comes with a disclaimer as the Terps were wracked by injuries in 2012, including the loss of four starting quarterbacks to season-ending injuries.  With that out of the way, the stark reality is this: the Terps have won a total of six games in Edsall’s two seasons, including just three wins in 16 games in ACC play.  Even the staunchest of supporters are beginning to question whether Edsall is the right man for his “dream job.”  With a move to the Big Ten in the offing after this season, anything short of a significant turnaround would likely signal to the administration that its time for a fresh start on the sidelines to coincide with the Terps’ departure for a new conference.

5. Mike London, Virginia
After getting Virginia to eight wins in his second season with the Hoos, London was one of the hottest names on the coaching carousel, garnering mention as a potential replacement for Joe Paterno at Penn State.  Following a four-win season?  London has gone from the coaching penthouse to the coaching hot seat.  In a signal that London realizes how hot despite being just three years into his tenure, he axed nearly half his coaching staff — four to be exact — shortly after the end of the 2012 season.  London is one of the most outstanding coaches in the game, but this is a bottom-line business, with the bottom line being London needs to turns things around post-haste.

WAY-TOO-EARLY HEISMAN ROLL CALL

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State — The first year in Urban Meyer‘s offense was above-average for Miller.  With a full year plus another offseason in the same system, Miller is poised to improve upon his fifth-place finish in the 2012 Heisman voting and could very well enter the 2013 season as the stiff-armed frontrunner.  The fact that the Buckeyes will likely be highly-ranked and Miller will again be a significant portion of the offense — he accounted for 28 of the 56 offensive touchdowns scored and led the team in rushing — means the Heisman hype will come early and often for the talented junior.

Chick-fil-A Bowl - LSU v Clemson2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson — Boyd will enter the 2013 season — provided he doesn’t jump to the NFL by the Jan. 15 deadline, of course — as one of the most prolific yet underrated players in the country.  With offensive coordinator Chad Morris remaining after some head-coaching flirtations over the last month, Boyd will put up the kind of numbers that’d be hard for Heisman voters to overlook.

3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — The first-year phenom shattered the freshman ceiling by taking home the Heisman in 2012.  Can he shatter the “no one’s won it twice since Archie Griffin” ceiling?  Based on his performance in the Aggies’ bowl romp, that would be a resounding yes.  With a year’s worth of film to view in the offseason, though, defenses could make harder a game that looked video-game easy for Manziel in 2012.

4. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina — Sure, no purely defensive player has ever claimed a Heisman.  However, the past few years, with the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Tyrann Mathieu and Manti Te’o making it to the Big Apple as finalists, it appears the narrow-minded voters could be expanding their horizon when it comes to candidates.  And when it comes to defensive candidates for 2013, it doesn’t get any more explosive or dynamic or borderline homicidal than Clowney.

5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville — Bridgewater would’ve made this list even without the virtuoso performance in the bowl win over Florida.  With it, he moved up several notches in my eyes as he showed he could play at a high level against what was considered a top-notch defense.  In fact, slotting the soon-to-be junior fifth could prove to be low.  Very, very low.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Kansas State6. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — Thanks to the return of Chip Kelly, the Ducks will run the same offense in 2013 as they did in Mariota’s first year as the starter in 2012.  And in that first season, Mariota was spectacular, accounting for 37 touchdowns — 32 passing, five rushing — in leading the Ducks to a 12-win season.  Whether Kelly would’ve been around to oversee the scoring factory or not, Mariota is hurtling toward nothing but improvement in his second season.

7. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona — The nation’s leading rusher returns for another season and deserves a spot on this initial list.  The only problem is, will the Wildcats win enough to get the attention Carey deserves?  While the Wildcats’ won eight games in Rich Rodriguez‘s first season, Carey’s quest for a 2,000-yard season — he finished with 1,929 — flew under the radar until he erupted for 366 yards in mid-November.  By then it was too late to make a difference in the ’12 Heisman race.  It could, though, serve as a reminder to voters entering ’13 that he’s a player worthy of keeping an eye on.

8. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA — Bruins head coach Jim Mora has already proclaimed his starting quarterback a future Heisman contender, so we’ll go ahead and roll with it.  Statistically, Hundley is worthy of his coach’s praise as the sophomore completed nearly 66 percent of his passes for 3,740 yards and 29 touchdowns.  The 11 interceptions are a concern, although that could simply be a combination of Hundley’s youth and inexperience in the first year of a new offensive scheme.  Still, Hundley’s a name to keep track of as the season progresses.

9. Marqise Lee, WR, USC — Thanks to USC breaking in a new starting quarterback, I nearly put Georgia’s Aaron Murray here.  Based on Lee’s stunning athleticism and production, though, I had to put him on the list somewhere.  Lee led the country in receptions and finished second in receiving yards, narrowly missing out on a trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist.

10. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor — Forget the head coach; the running back has already proclaimed himself to be a 2013 Heisman contender.  Over the last quarter of the season, the Oregon transfer showed there’s a reason behind that self-confidence.  After rushing for 465 yards in the first nine games of the season, Seastrunk exploded for 637 over the final four.  If he continues that trend in 2013, he could become a part of the Heisman discussion.

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Florida transfer Gerald Willis seeking ‘run-off’ waiver for immediate eligibility at Miami

South Carolina v Florida Getty Images

Yeah, good luck with that.

A month after it was confirmed he he would be “transferring” from Florida, Miami announced in February that Gerald Willis would be transferring into the Hurricanes football program.  Normally a player in Willis’ situation would be forced to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.

While that will very likely be the case with Willis, he’s giving immediate eligibility, Dorial Green-Beckham-style, the old college try.

In a conversation with CaneSport.com, Willis claims that he was actually dismissed by new UF head coach Jim McElwain.  The defensive lineman also confirmed that he has applied for a so-called “run-off” waiver with the NCAA.

From SBNation.com:

The “run-off” waiver is a little known provision of the NCAA handbook where a player can petition to be ruled immediately eligible if the NCAA finds that the player left their previous institution against their will, i.e. they were “run-off” from the program. Here are the requirements to apply for such a waiver, from athleticscholarships.net

  • Documentation demonstrating that the student-athlete would not have had the opportunity to return to the previous institution’s team for reasons outside the control of the student-athlete.
  • A written statement from the applicant institution that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meets all progress-toward-degree requirements at applicant institution.
  • A written statement from the student-athlete’s previous institution indicating that the previous institution supports the request.

Willis’ self-proclaimed dismissal came after multiple physical run-ins with Gator teammates, so how he could argue that he could not return to the team for reasons outside of his control is head-scratching to say the least.  Additionally, as UF and The U are in-state rivals, it seems highly unlikely that the former would help the latter by writing a letter of support for Willis.

A decision on the waiver is expected at some point next month at the earliest.

Willis was a four-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 strongside defensive end in the country.  He played in five games as a true freshman last season.  Willis’ stay at UF was a brief one as, a couple of months after a verbal disagreement over a pair of cleats escalated into a physical altercation with a teammate, it was announced that Willis was leaving the program.

In addition to Miami, Willis told the Rivals.com website that Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M pursued him after he left UF.

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Hogs suspend Randy Ramsey as LB gets academic house in order

Corey Grant, Randy Ramsey

For the second time in six months, Randy Ramsey has some educational issues to clear up before moving forward.

Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema confirmed Monday that Ramsey has been suspended from the football program.  According to Bielema, the linebacker needs to clean things up academically, and needs to do it post-haste.

He has got to have some urgency in the classroom immediately,” Bielema said according to ESPN.com in explaining the suspension. “No off-the-field [legal issues], just got to get him going in the classroom because we invest a lot in them and we hope to have our biggest returns when they are sophomores, juniors and seniors and getting better.”

Ramsey didn’t travel to last October’s game against Texas A&M because of academic issues.

A three-star member of Bielema’s second Razorbacks recruiting class, Ramsey played in seven games as a true freshman last season. He started one of those contests, the Sept. 20 win over Northern Illinois.

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Jimbo to support Jameis draft night, serve as analyst next two days

Jimbo Fisher, Jameis Winston

Make room, David Shaw.  And, Jameis Winston, make room on your couch as well.

Earlier this month it was reported that Winston, expected to be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first-overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft, would not attend the Chicago festivities in person.  Instead, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner has decided to stay in his home state of Alabama to be close to his ailing grandmother, who is unable to travel due to health concerns.

According to tweet from a writer on Florida State’s official website, head coach Jimbo Fisher will be in Birmingham for the first round of the draft Thursday night, April 30, as well, offering support to a player who played a major role in FSU’s 2013 national championship.  After spending opening night with his former player, Fisher will then spend the next two days, Friday and Saturday, serving as a guest analyst on the NFL Network’s coverage of Rounds 2-7.

Fisher was also a part of the 2014 coverage of the draft, and acquitted himself quite well.

Shaw will serve as a guest analyst on the NFL Network as well.  The Stanford head coach will be the only college coach featured on the opening night of the draft.

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Pierre Ingram, Cal’s top recruiter, arrested for soliciting a hooker

Pierre Ingram

There has to be a recruiting/solicitation parallel in there somewhere, right?

Regardless, the latest individual to land on CFT’s “Days Without An Arrest” ticker is not a player but a coach, with Cal wide receivers coach Pierre Ingram arrested April 16 following a prostitution sting.  Ingram, who also holds the title of recruiting coordinator, was charged with misdemeanor solicitation of a lewd act.

The Contra Costa Times writes that Ingram “was arrested after he allegedly solicited an undercover officer online and then showed up at the Motel 6 on Embarcadero.”

There is no word from the school on what this does or doesn’t do to Ingram’s status with the football program moving forward, although an indefinite suspension will likely be the first order of business.

Ingram spent the past two seasons as the Bears’ running backs coach before moving over to receivers. He’s also widely considered the program’s top recruiter.

(Photo credit: Cal athletics)

UPDATED 5:24 p.m. ET: Cal has confirmed that Ingram has been placed on administrative leave, presumably paid, as they further assess the situation.  Ingram did not take part in Saturday’s spring game because of the incident.

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NIU suspends LB Rasheen Lemon after domestic battery arrest

Boca Raton Bowl AP

A mini-run of players diving headfirst into offseason legal issues continues, with Northern Illinois the latest program to take a hit.

The DeKalb Daily Chronicle is reporting that linebacker Rasheen Lemon has been arrested on a domestic battery charge. The charges stem from an incident that occurred April 12. No details of what led to the arrest have been released.

NIU officials learned of the situation late last week, and indefinitely suspended Lemon from the football program.

If the incident results in any type of game or games suspension, it would be a significant blow to the Huskies’ defense.

After starting two games in 2013, Lemon started every game in 2014 as a redshirt junior. Lemon was second on the team in tackles (90) and quarterback hurries (six), and tied for second in forced fumbles (two). He was also tied for fifth in sacks (2.5).

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Auburn does the expected, names Jeremy Johnson as starting QB

Arkansas v Auburn Getty Images

Earlier this month, Jeremy Johnson had yet to separate himself from the rest of the Auburn quarterback pack, even as he’s long been expected to be the successor to Nick Marshall.  Monday, the expected officially came to fruition.

Head coach Gus Malzahn took to Twitter Monday afternoon to announce, to the surprise of absolutely no one, Johnson has been named as the Tigers’ starting quarterback.  The anointing comes two days after Auburn’s spring game.

“Everyone in our program has 100 percent confidence in him!” Malzahn wrote in his tweet.

Johnson’s main competition had been redshirt freshman Sean White.  Jason Smith and Tyler Queen were also technically in the mix.

Last season as Marshall’s primary backup, Johnson completed 28-of-37 passes for 436 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. More than half of those pass attempts (21) came in the 2014 opener against Arkansas as Johnson started in place of Marshall, who was suspended following an offseason weed incident.

Johnson and Auburn will open the 2015 season Sept. 5 against Louisville in a neutral-site matchup in the Georgia Dome.

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Buckeyes title team feted by POTUS at White House event

Urban Meyer President Obama

As has been the case for at least a decade, winning a national championship has its presidential privileges.

Monday afternoon, Ohio State became the latest college sports team to be feted at the White House, with President Barack Obama hosting the Buckeyes three months after OSU claimed the first-ever College Football Playoff title.  OSU is actually the first college football team since Alabama in 2013 to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as Florida State was unable to manage a trip to D.C. last year to celebrate the Seminoles’ 2013 title.

This visit marked Urban Meyer‘s third, with the first two coming while he was the head coach at Florida.  Meyer was hosted by George W. Bush following the Gators’ first title in 2006, then by Obama following the second one for the 2008 season.

As for this trip, the President hit on several notes surrounding the Buckeyes, mentioning defensive end Joey Bosa‘s now-famous shoulder shrug as well as his newly-shorn locks; thanked running back Ezekiel Elliott for tucking in his shirt, with the preseason Heisman contender asking the POTUS for a little help with the recent rule change on crop-top jerseys; referred to Michigan as “a certain team up North;” and made mention of title-winning quarterback Cardale Jones‘ “12-gauge” nickname.

Wisely, the President didn’t wade into who should start at quarterback for the Buckeyes this upcoming season.  One member of the Buckeyes, though, did have a little fun at the POTUS’ expense.

The President was given a game ball and jersey by the football program.  He was also introduced to a pair of Buckeye legends, Cris Carter and the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin.

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WR LaQuvionte Gonzalez takes to Twitter to announce A&M transfer

LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Ross Cockrell

In Texas A&M’s Class of 2013, seven wide receivers were signed.  With this latest development, as SBNation.com notes, that seven has been whittled down to two.

On his Twitter account Monday afternoon, LaQuvionte Gonzalez announced that he has decided to transfer out of the A&M football program.  No reason was given for Gonzalez’s departure, which comes a week or so following the end of spring practice.

A four-star member of A&M’s 2013 recruiting class, Gonzalez was rated as the No. 30 player at any position in the state of Texas and the No. 234 player overall by Rivals.com.

As a true freshman in 2013, Gonzalez was fifth on the team with 21 receptions and 240 receiving yards.  His production took a precipitous drop in 2014, however, as he finished with just five receptions for 77 yards.

Ricky Seals-Jones and Jeremy Tabuyo are the only 2013 receivers still with the Aggies. That said, A&M is still loaded with talent at the position, mitigating all of those personnel losses.

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Ex-Utah State QB won’t be permitted to transfer to UW Huskies

Utah State v UNLV Getty Images

We don’t know yet to where Darell Garretson will be transferring.  We do, though, know one place where he won’t be.

ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad tweeted that the former Utah State quarterback will be unable to transfer to Washington.  Garretson had apparently expressed a desire in the Huskies, but because UW is a future USU opponent — the two teams will play in 2015 — the quarterback wasn’t given a release to that program.

As to where Garretson might end up, it was reported earlier this month that Oregon State is a very realistic possibility.  Part of the draw for Garretson to the Beavers is that his former Aggies offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Kevin McGivens, is now the quarterbacks coach at OSU.

Schad also noted that the West Coast OSU is a possibility.

After starting seven games as a freshman in 2013, Garretson played in just five games in 2014 before suffering a season-ending wrist injury.  It was announced late last month that he was transferring out of USU.

Garretson will be forced to sit out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program.  Beginning in 2016, he would then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

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Georgia Tech, UCF announce future home-and-home series

Bitcoin St Petersburg Bowl - North Carolina State v Central Florida

George O’Leary‘s former team and his current one have agreed to meet on the gridiron a little further down the road, Georgia Tech and UCF announced Monday afternoon.

The Yellow Jackets will travel to Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 16, 2017, and will then host the Knights on Sept. 19, 2020. The 2017 game will mark Tech’s first regular season non-conference game in the state of Florida since Sept. 19, 1981, a 27-6 loss to Florida in Gainesville.

Tech and UCF have met three times previously, the first coming in 1996 and the last in 2000. All three of those games, played at Bobby Dodd Stadium, were won by the Yellow Jackets.

O’Leary has been the head coach at UCF since 2004. Prior to that, he served as Tech’s head coach from 1994-2001.

With the addition of Tech, UCF continues to bolster its future schedules, with previously announced series including Stanford (2015,2019), Michigan (2016), Maryland (2016, 2017) and Texas (2017). Tech had previously announced a future home-and-home with UCF’s in-state rival USF (2021, 2022), and now has games scheduled every year from 2017-22.

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Judge sides with Notre Dame in ESPN’s open-records lawsuit

Touchdown Jesus AP

In mid-January, ESPN filed a lawsuit against the University of Notre Dame contending that the school was withholding police documents involving alleged campus crimes committed by unnamed student-athletes, which would be a violation of Indiana’s open records laws.  Three months later, a judge has disagreed.

Monday, the South Bend Tribune writes, “[a] St. Joseph County judge ruled… that the University of Notre Dame isn’t required to give ESPN campus police department records because it’s not a public agency under state law.” While the judge sided with the private institution, he did so with some hesitancy and trepidation.

From the Tribune‘s report:

Superior Court Judge Steven Hostetler said he shared the Indiana public access counselor’s “discomfort” with the notion that a private party can exercise police powers without sharing records related to that power with the public, but that’s simply how the state’s Access to Public Records Act is written and has been interpreted.

Furthermore, the judge wrote in his 11-page ruling that “[t]his court will not strain the language of the statute in order to do what the Legislature has not, even though there are indeed persuasive reasons why the statute should be amended to read the way ESPN desires.”

ESPN had filed an open-records request with the university in November. An Indianapolis attorney representing ESPN told the Tribune he’s uncertain if an appeal of the ruling will be filed.

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Hoosier DL Ralph Green III arrested on battery charge

Ralph Green III, Nate Hoff, Jake Rudock AP

Well, so much for all of the feel-good in the post directly below this one.

According to the Bloomington Herald-Times, Indiana defensive lineman Ralph Green III (pictured, No. 93) was arrested very early Sunday morning following an off-campus incident.  Green was charged by Bloomington police officers with a trio of misdemeanors: battery, public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

As for what led to the arrest and charges…

Bloomington Police Department responded to a disturbance at the residence on North Lincoln and found Green struck the victim in the face, causing a complaint of pain, according to a preliminary police report.

IU has yet to comment publicly on the situation.

Green started nine of the 12 games in which he played as a redshirt freshman in 2013.  He played in 11 games (no starts) this past season, and is expected to be a significant part of the Hoosiers’ line rotation in 2015.

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Blind fan who inspired USC could play in a game for Trojans

Pete Carroll Jake Olson

If you can’t hardly stomach all of the off-field issues surrounding the game of college football, this may be the elixir you’ve been looking for.

A few years back, the Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans football team essentially adopted Jake Olson, a teenage fan suffering from cancer of the retina in his right eye (he lost his left eye when he was less than one year old).  It was subsequently determined that Olson would need the right eye removed; on his final day of sight prior to the surgery that would leave him blind for the rest of his life, he chose to attend a Trojans football practice.

Fast-forward roughly five years, and Olson is now an 18-year-old young man who became a long-snapper for his high school football team and is about to embark on his journey as a college student — at USC, of course.

Olson, the Los Angeles Times writes, “is a recipient of a Swim With Mike scholarship, awarded annually from the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship fund.” While he’s not a part of the Trojans’ incoming recruiting class, it appears that he will have part of his favorite team as a walk-on.

From the Times‘ report:

Olson, 18, was introduced as a Swim With Mike scholarship winner in February during an event where video highlights of incoming football players were shown to Trojans fans. He would join the program as a walk-on.

Olson said he was “stoked” to be headed to USC, which also accepted his sister.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said.

For Steve Sarkisian, it’s a matter of when, not if, Olson takes the field in a real football game.

“Someday, he’s going to snap in a game for us,” the head coach said. “When? I don’t know. But it will happen.

“When that day comes, it will be awesome.”

“I can’t even fathom what an extraordinary thing that would be,” Carroll said when asked about Olson playing in a game for his former program, with Olson, when the subject of preferential treatment came up, adding, “[I] just [want] the opportunity to prove myself like anyone else.”

Bravo to Olson, Sarkisian, Carroll and the entire USC program. That is going to be one special day when the young man takes the field for the first time.

(Photo credit: openyoureyes.org)

 

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After position switch, Wyoming QB Austin Fort to transfer

Craig Bohl

In revealing a few days ago that former Indiana quarterback Cameron Coffman was sitting atop his depth chart, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl confirmed that 6-4, 218-pound Austin Fort would be moving from that position to tight end.

Less than a week later, the player is moving on entirely.

This weekend, Bohl confirmed that Fort has decided to transfer out of the Cowboys football program and continue his playing career elsewhere.  According to Bohl, Fort’s decision to transfer was triggered by his desire to play quarterback at the collegiate level.

The coach also confirmed that Fort will likely move on to the JUCO level initially.  If Fort had decided to transfer to another FBS program, he would’ve been ineligible to play immediately in 2015.

Fort was a two-star member of Wyoming’s 2014 recruiting class.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

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Nevada OL coach Ron Hudson out for spring after heart surgery

Ron Hudson

We noted last week that Marshall defensive tackles coach J.C. Price recently underwent corrective heart surgery.  As it turns out, Price isn’t the only FBS assistant dealing with an issue involving the very essential organ.

In a story posted to the Reno Gazette Journal‘s website, writer Chris Murray details how, seven weeks ago, Nevada offensive line coach Ron Hudson underwent open-heart surgery to repair damage that was initially discovered during an emergency room visit last May.

From the report:

But after he started to develop symptoms — light-headedness and fatigue the biggest indicators — he finally went to the ER. After a battery of tests, it was determined he had atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by rapid and irregular beating. It would first be treated with medication. That helped, but it didn’t fix the issue. So, once Nevada’s season ended, he’d get an ablation.

That’s a fairly routine, although invasive, surgery in which abnormal heart tissue is melted away. Hudson went in for that surgery Feb. 25. It would be a 45-minute procedure and he’d be good to go.

“I went into the hospital, they put me to sleep and I woke up and said, ‘How did it go?'” Hudson said. “They said, ‘We didn’t do it.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ The doctor said, ‘We found a blood clot in your heart.'”

Open-heart surgery was performed the very next day, likely saving his life or, at the very least, prevented him from suffering a debilitating stroke.

“We’re incredibly lucky that he’s healthy,” head coach Brian Polian said. “That was an awfully scary deal.”

Per doctor’s orders, Hudson, who is in his third season with the Wolf Pack, is not permitted to coach this spring. He should be back on the sidelines beginning in summer camp this August.

What he’s gone through, however, has given the entire staff a new outlook on their professional and personal lives.

“”It puts things into perspective very quickly,” Polian said. “The fans and everybody, I don’t think they understand the level of commitment the coaches and players give. People tell you it’s not life or death, but we take this very seriously. When you see something like that, you take a step back and remember what’s really important. Obviously, being a husband and father is the most important thing for him.”

(Photo credit: Nevada athletics)

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