Outback Bowl

Vincent Smith downplays Clowney hit


Despite the fact that the Michigan-South Carolina Outback Bowl was a highly entertaining, back-and-forth postseason game that featured a game-winning touchdown pass with just 11 seconds remaining — with some hack even listing it as the top bowl game of the 2012-13 season — just about the only thing that anyone wanted to talk about in the aftermath of the Gamecocks’ win was Jadeveon Clowney.

Specifically, the talk of the water cooler was Clowney’s hit on Vincent Smith that sent the Wolverine running back’s helmet on a deep post pattern in the opposite direction of the line of scrimmage.

For those who may have forgotten about it or, for some reason, never actually witnessed it, here’s the video of The Hit:


Now, while mere mortals such as you and I who would likely have ceased to exist after such a hit, Smith was just fine, other than having to hail a cab to retrieve his headgear.  He was fine physically at the time and, two weeks later, he’s fine mentally despite the replay being seemingly shown on a loop and becoming the subject of ridicule for getting blown up by the likely overall No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Smith, though, even disputes the notion of getting blown up, answering “oh yeah, it did” when asked by Michael Rothstein of WolverineNation.com if the hit looked worse than what it actually was. “I saw it coming and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Smith added.

As is ofttimes the case with such a situation, however, there were myriad factors other than “dude, Clowney’s a freak!” involved in the hit, a confluence of events that Rothstein does an excellent job in summing up:

The simple explanation of what happened is Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan called a change in the blocking scheme, and unfortunately for Smith it gave Clowney an open path to him. The Gamecocks called a blitz before the play — something Smith recognized in pre-play reads — and his fullback chose to block the cornerback coming from the left side, where the run was supposed to go, instead of trying to take Clowney up the middle.

Before the play, Smith figured he was going to be hit in the backfield and would have to break a tackle, either from the corner or someone up the middle. He didn’t anticipate everything falling apart as it did just as quarterback Devin Gardner tried to give him the ball.

In the end, everybody’s likely correct.  Yes, it was a helluva play and hit by Clowney as has been universally proclaimed, and yes it likely looked worse than what it actually was as Smith claims.

For his part, Smith said after viewing it on replays afterward, “I forgot about it” and moved on.  Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, though, it’s not an exploding gif that will be going away at any point in the near future.

(Photo credit: South Carolina athletics)

Oklahoma jumps from fifth to third in latest AP poll

Sterling Shepard

A 35-point win on the road in a de facto conference championship game was enough to push Oklahoma past Iowa for the third spot in the latest Associated Press top 25.

Clemson and Alabama retained the top two spots, while a trio of Big Ten teams in Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State occupied numbers four, five and six. Stanford moved to No. 7 after its last second win over Notre Dame, who tumbled from fourth to ninth. Ohio State jumped from No. 8 to No. 6, while Michigan tumbled to No. 19 after a 42-13 Buckeyes win in Ann Arbor.

Florida State moved into the top 10 after a 27-2 blowout of Florida (who fell from 10th to 18th), while TCU past Baylor after its double overtime slop-fest win on Friday night.

Utah, USC, LSU and Wisconsin moved into the poll, while Washington State, Mississippi State, Toledo and UCLA fell out.

The full rankings:

1. Clemson – 1,511 total points (53 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,469 (8)
3. Oklahoma – 1,367
4. Iowa – 1,345
5. Michigan State – 1,318
6. Ohio State – 1,197
7. Stanford – 1,137
8. North Carolina – 1,085
9. Notre Dame – 1,022
10. Florida State – 951
11. TCU – 927
12. Baylor – 842
13. Northwestern – 711
14. Oklahoma State – 699
15. Oregon – 616
16. Ole Miss – 584
17. Houston – 571
18. Florida – 566
19. Michigan – 518
20. Temple – 269
21. Utah – 244
22. Navy – 206
23. LSU – 199
24. USC – 189
25. Wisconsin – 124

Clemson, ‘Bama, Iowa remain top three in latest Coaches’ Poll

Dabo Swinney

Hey, how about some actual on the field football news?

The latest Amway USA Today Coaches’ Poll was released Sunday afternoon, with the top three remaining entirely unchanged. Oklahoma moved up from fifth to fourth, while Ohio State is now just one spot behind Michigan State at sixth.

Michigan was this week’s biggest loser, falling from 12th to 19th, while USC leapt from 32nd to 24th thanks to a big win over UCLA.

The full poll:

1. Clemson – 1,558 points (52 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,508 (8)
3. Iowa – 1,412 (1)
4. Oklahoma – 1,408
5. Michigan State – 1,350
6. Ohio State – 1,252
7. Stanford – 1,155
8. North Carolina – 1,107
9. Florida State – 1,054
10. Notre Dame – 994
11. TCU – 931
12. Baylor – 836
13. Northwestern – 768
14. Oklahoma State – 688
15. Florida – 655
16. Oregon – 634
17. Ole Miss – 595
18. Houston – 526
19. Michigan – 515
20. Utah – 287
21. Temple – 276
22. Navy – 223
23. LSU – 207
24. USC – 164
25. Wisconsin – 148

Rutgers reportedly ousts AD Julie Hermann, head coach Kyle Flood

Kyle Flood

Rutgers is reportedly heading into a Black Sunday fire sale, ousting AD Julie Hermann and head coach Kyle Flood on the same day.

The Ausbury Park Press reported early Sunday afternoon Hermann was fired at RU president Robert Barchi‘s house in a meeting that lasted all of 11 minutes. The first female athletics director in Big Ten history, controversy followed Hermann from her first day on campus, whether it was questions of possible mistreatment during her stint at Tennessee’s volleyball coach, to saying “it would be great” if Rutgers’ local paper went under, to making inappropriate statements about Jerry Sandusky to angering former Scarlet Knights player Eric LeGrand.

Shortly after the Hermann news broke, reports emerged stating Flood will follow Hermann out the door.

Flood began his tenure as Rutgers’ coach with a 9-1 start in 2012, but won just 18 of 41 games after that, including four of 16 games since joining the Big Ten.

In addition to stumbling on the field, Flood was suspended three games this season for academic violations and had multiple players suspended for crimes ranging from home invasion to assault.

Mike London resigns as Virginia head coach

Mike London
Associated Press
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Six unsuccessful seasons came for Mike London at Virginia came to an end Sunday, as the program announced its head coach had resigned.

From the school’s press release:

(AD Craig) Littlepage met with London this morning to discuss the future of the Virginia football program. At that time, Littlepage and London decided a change in leadership was in the best interests of the program. Littlepage has not specified a time frame for concluding the search, citing the fact that many of the possible candidates will be involved in postseason play. Littlepage will not make further comments until the search has concluded.

Hired away from Richmond after taking the Spiders to the 2008 FCS national championship, London went just 27-46 in his six years in Charlottesville. He appeared in only one bowl game — the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 43-24 loss to Auburn — and won four of fewer games in four of his six campaigns.

Virginia considered ousting London after the 2014 season, but the Hoos thought a 5-7 campaign showed enough progress to retain him for 2015. That faith went unrewarded as Virginia went just 4-8 this fall, concluding with a 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech.

“I appreciate the opportunity to have been the head football coach at the University of Virginia and for the relationships that have been formed during my time in Charlottesville that will last for years to come,” London said in a statement. “I took this job to make a profound difference in the lives of young men and to re-establish Virginia football as one of the best programs in the ACC. While we were successful in the development of our players in many areas, I would have liked to have won more games for the student-athletes, coaches, fans and everyone that’s a part of the University of Virginia.”