Tavon Austin brings home Paul Hornung Award

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West Virginia’s collapse in the second half of the 2012 season saw the Mountaineers lose six of their final eight games, including a blowout at the hands of Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, after beginning the year 5-0. While that losing streak became the major storyline for WVU, the team could still lay claim to one of the most exciting players in college football: wide receiver Tavon Austin.

On Thursday, Austin was awarded the Paul Hornung Award for the most versatile player in college football. The previous two winners of the award were Stanford’s Owen Marecic and Georgia’s Brandon Boykin.

Below are statements from Austin, Hornung and WVU coach Dana Holgorsen:

Tavon Austin:
“I am honored and humbled to be selected as the winner of the prestigious Paul Hornung Award. Whether I am on the field as a receiver, in the backfield or as a returner, I have high expectations for myself, and I have always tried to use my versatility to help my team be successful. I want to thank my coaches and teammates for helping me achieve this honor.”

Paul Hornung:
“I like the way Tavon Austin plays the game. He is tough, he generates yardage almost every way possible and has a nose for the end zone. Tavon Austin is a deserving winner of the Paul Hornung Award. We look forward to having him with us at our banquet in Louisville in February.”

Dana Holgorsen
“Tavon’s play on the field defines versatility, and as I said during the season, he was the most dangerous player in the nation with the ball in his hands. He is deserving of such a prestigious honor, and the program, the University and the state are very proud of him and his accomplishment.”

Austin, a senior, finished the year with 2,910 all-purpose yards, an average of 223.8 yards per game. That average was far and away the best in the Big 12 and second in the nation. He was WVU’s second-leading receiver 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns and the team’s second-leading rusher with 643 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

Austin’s best performance in a WVU uniform came this year when he tallied 572 all-purpose yards in a 50-49 loss to Oklahoma.

Yeah, he’ll be missed by the WVU faithful.

Cornhuskers legend Dave Rimington tapped as interim Nebraska AD

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There were many who thought Nebraska’s now-former athletic director was disconnected from the university’s deep football history.  With today’s move, the athletic department has made a 180-degree turn.

NU announced Tuesday afternoon that Dave Rimington has been named as the interim athletic director.  Rimington replaces Shawn Eichorst, who was dismissed late last week after nearly five years on the job.

Rimington was one of the greatest college football centers in history, and, in 1981 and 1982 for the Cornhuskers, became the only player to win back-to-back Outland Trophy Awards.  In 2000, the Rimington Trophy was established to honor the most outstanding center in college football.

In 1997, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame.

“I’m so pleased that we could count on Dave Rimington, who is a Husker through and through, to answer our call to lend his administrative expertise and unwavering support for Nebraska Athletics during this key time of transition,” chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “I am confident that Dave will provide exceptional leadership as we move forward in our search for a new, permanent director of athletics.”

“I am humbled and grateful to accept this responsibility,” Rimington, one of 17 former ‘Huskers with their jerseys retired, said. “I look forward to working with the coaches, staff and student-athletes at Nebraska, which is a truly special place that has had a profound impact on my life and the lives of countless others.”

Rimington is currently the president of the New York-based Boomer Esiason Foundation, but will be taking a sabbatical from those duties.

Mike Leach: ‘I’m proud of this country and would stand for the anthem and respect the flag’

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Never one to back down from any issue in the past, at all, Mike Leach has publicly tackled the most polarizing issue facing the country in the here and now.

At a campaign rally in Alabama earlier this past week, the President Donald Trump let loose on those NFL players who have decided to use the National Anthem as a vehicle for protesting social injustice.  In essence, Trump called for those who participate in the demonstrations to be summarily dismissed.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump was quoted as saying. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’”

The NFL responded en masse over the weekend, with dozens upon dozens of players — and owners and coaches — taking part in protests further fueled by the POTUS’ fiery rhetoric.  In that aftermath, college football coaches, who don’t have to deal with the issue as most teams are in the locker room when the anthem is played, were asked about the situation.  Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh labeled Trump’s comments ‘ridiculous’ while advising him to “check the Constitution,” while Alabama’s Nick Saban described it as “a little painful” to see what “were unifying events (the pregame anthem)” when he grew up not being so much right now. “But I also respect everyone’s rights not to be censored in terms of the way they express their beliefs,” Saban added.

And then there’s Leach.

The Washington State head coach, who was a supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign, was asked if he had addressed the NFL protests with his team.  Showing once again he has no interest in biting his tongue, Leach stated that he’s not entirely clear what’s being protested, intimating that the protests during the anthem are the wrong place and wrong time for the point the players are attempting to make.  Even as Leach doesn’t know or understand what that point is.

“First of all, we’re in the locker room during the anthem, we’re together as a team,” Leach said according to the Seattle Times. “To me it’s not real clear what’s being protested – I haven’t heard a clear articulation of what’s protested or objected to. Me personally I’m proud of this country and would stand for the anthem and respect the flag. But with that said, I don’t know exactly what they’re objecting to.”

“But with that said, I don’t know exactly what they’re objecting to.”

Purdue responds to Jim Harbaugh’s ‘after-the-fact’ facility complaints

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In what could only be considered a stunning development, Jim Harbaugh is making headlines.  Again.

Following Michigan’s 28-10 win over Purdue Saturday, Harbaugh took issues with the facilities at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.  From no air conditioning in the visiting locker room — there is in the home team’s locker room — to just two urinals, total, for the entire team and staff to use to lack of on-site medical facilities, Harbaugh was highly critical of the situation, calling on the Big Ten to address the situation league-wide.

The situation was so bad from their perspective that Harbaugh afforded his starters the opportunity to take pregame respite on the team bus from unseasonable heat that was close to 100 degrees on the field

From mlive.com:

There’s no air conditioning,” Harbaugh said. “It was so cramped, so hot. It was like a hot box. Really the only way to get relief was to open the doors, and you have people watching you dress. It’s not good.

“The number of urinals for players and staff, I think there was two. There’s not even a private door. …

“There has to be a minimum standard of care for the players,” Harbaugh said. “We put a lot of emphasis into the health and safety of the players, but it doesn’t even seem sanitary.

“I wish I had taken a picture of the actual table that is given to the visitors to put players on that are injured. It looked like it was from the 20s.

Not surprisingly, Harbaugh’s criticisms didn’t sit well with Purdue.  In fact, the football program felt compelled to issue a lengthy statement addressing the issues raised by the opposing coach — flatly stating that there were options UM could’ve taken advantage of but didn’t.

Below is that statement, in its entirety:

Purdue regards the welfare of all student-athletes as its No. 1 priority. We would fully support a conversation regarding a conference-wide set of guidelines for visiting football team accommodations because we have experienced less-than-ideal conditions on the road. There is no place for gamesmanship when it comes to player care and safety.

The after-the-fact concerns expressed by Michigan are somewhat surprising because a member of its football staff conducted a walk-thru of our facilities with our athletics department staff at Ross-Ade Stadium on July 18.

Furthermore, to help teams prepare in advance, our visiting team manual highlights in bold type “there is no air conditioning in the (visiting) locker room,” with accompanying Purdue Athletics staff contact information about how to request preferred temporary accommodations. We did not receive any such request.

Basic x-ray is available within our athletic footprint and more-sophisticated capabilities are located two blocks away, similar to the arrangements at many other schools. Our sports medicine staff members, in fact, have received numerous compliments from their Michigan counterparts regarding the care they received at Purdue.

Mark Richt’s ‘guess is’ Ahmmon Richards ‘will be ready to go’ for Miami vs. Duke

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It appears No. 14 Miami’s passing attack will be bolstered for its ACC opener this coming Saturday.  Maybe.

On his radio show Monday, Mark Richt seemed cautiously optimistic that Ahmmon Richards will be available to play in the Week 5 game against Duke this Saturday.  Richards hasn’t played at all yet this season as he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury that surfaced in the middle of summer camp.

The wide receiver did, though, practice Sunday, leading to Richt’s hope that the sophomore will see the field for the Hurricane against the Blue Devils.

“We didn’t do a lot on a Sunday, but he seems to be doing fine,” the head coach said by way of the Sun-Sentinel. “My guess is he’ll be ready to go.”

Last season, Richards’ 934 receiving yards and 19.1 yards per catch were tops on the Hurricanes.  His 49 receptions were second on the team.  Following that breakout season, he was named a consensus Freshman All-American.

With Richards sidelined, Braxton Barrios leads the ‘Canes in receiving yards (140) and yards per reception (17.5), while Christopher Herndon‘s nine catches through two games lead the way as well.