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Mike Leach ‘isn’t welcome’ at Texas high school after pulling offer

Mike Leach AP

It’s been a rocky last few months — hell, last few years — for Mike Leach.

Fired by Texas Tech in 2009 after allegations that he had “abused” a player of a previously prominent college football “analyst” surfaced, Leach spent two years away from coaching as he sued his former employer for wrongful termination.  Hired by Washington State in late November of 2011, and in the midst of what would become a three-win season, Leach was again accused of the “physical, emotional and verbal abuse” of a player, allegations which were knocked down — for now — by a two-pronged investigation on the part of both Wazzu and the Pac-12.

Now, Leach has apparently stepped into it at the high school level as well.

DeSoto (Tex.) High School defensive back Myron Turner has been a verbal commitment to the Cougars since October and, according to his coach, has steadfastly turned down scholarship overtures from other schools in keeping that non-binding commitment to Wazzu.  Just last weekend, all seemed well as Turner made an official visit to Pullman.

Monday, however, Claude Mathis, the DeSoto coach, received a call from Leach informing him that the football program was going in another (bigger) direction at Turner’s safety position and pulled the scholarship offer.  Suffice to say, with National Signing Day looming on the horizon, neither the coach nor the player was pleased with the abrupt and out-of-the-blue development.

“You just don’t do a kid like that,” Mathis said. “Washington State isn’t welcome at DeSoto any longer.”

“He’s really hurt right now,” added Mathis of his player.

We’ve always been big fans and supporters of Leach, but, if this is how the situation played out — we’ve only heard one side of the story but, knowing Leach, we’ll hear his soon enough — that’s a low-class, reprehensible move on the part of the coach.  Two weeks before signing day, and you pull a scholarship from a kid who has remain committed even as allegations of player abuse were swirling?

Bad look, coach.  Bad look.

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Alabama starting center set to return this week

Florida v Alabama

Alabama certainly came back with a strong showing against Texas A&M after critics nitpicked a 14-13 victory over Arkansas enough to set head coach Nick Saban off. Now, as the Crimson Tide get set to travel to Tennessee, the offensive line should get a little stronger. Center Ryan Kelly will return to the starting line-up in the middle of the offensive line this week, according to Saban.

Kelly missed the last two games for Alabama with a minor knee sprain. While out of action, Alabama used redshirt freshman Bradley Bozeman in the middle of the line. As reported by Al.com, Kelly was dressed for Alabama’s game against Texas A&M but was not used. Also, starting right tackle Austin Shepherd injured his ankle or knee during the win over the Aggies that took him out of the game. He is expected to skip practice on Monday but should return after Monday.

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Clemson loses leading rusher to torn ACL

Clemson v Boston College

Clemson managed to avoid an upset at the hand of Boston College, but came at a cost. Freshman running back Adam Choice has been lost for the season after tearing his ACL on Saturday.

The injury occurred early in the game, on Clemson’s second offensive possession of the game. Choice will now rehab and work to return to the field in 2015. It should be expected Clemson will go light on him in the spring as a precaution, but if all goes well Choice will be back in the mix in 2015 for the Tigers. Choice ends his freshman season with 218 rushing yards and one touchdown.

With Choice now done for the season, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will be quick to try and get Tyshon Dye plugged in on offense. Dye tore his Achilles back in February. Dye has been practicing with the team recently and he made the trip up to Boston last weekend. Swinney says Dye is in good shape and said Sunday Clemson is close to getting Dye back on the field. Without Choice, Dye’s return may be accelerated if it does not pose a threat to his health.

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Texas Tech’s leading receiver treated for laceration from off-campus melee

Jakeem Grant, Lloyd Carrington

Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant was injured in an off-campus alumni gathering gone bad with a shooting and melee incident early Sunday morning. He was treated for a laceration and released at a nearby hospital, but his status with Texas Tech’s football program is unknown or unconfirmed at this time.

According to the information in a report by The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, more than 20 rounds were fired from multiple weapons early Sunday morning, but the details of the incident appear to be hazy right now due to the number of people potentially involved. An officer providing details for the report suggested there is no way to tell right now what may have caused the laceration Grant was treated for. As of now, no arrests have been made for the incident that is currently being reviewed by authorities.

Through seven games, Grant is the leading receiver for Texas Tech with 629 receiving yards and five touchdowns. His 50 receptions this season lead the team.

UPDATE (11:55 a.m. ET): Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury said on the weekly Big 12 conference call he is hopeful Grant will be able to play this weekend. Texas Tech will visit TCU this weekend.

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No update on QB Trevor Knight form Bob Stoops

Trevor Knight

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight was forced to be taken out of Saturday’s game against Kansas State, but he did return. On Monday, during the weekly Big 12 coaches conference call, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops had no updates to share on Knight’s status moving forward.

Knight returned to Saturday’s game with a brace on his left arm. He was seen testing the flexibility in his elbow before heading to the locker room after being knocked out by Kansas State’s defense. Knight had taken off to run with the football when he stretched for some extra yards with a head-first dive. He landed on his left arm and required some medical attention that forced him to sit out the remainder of the offensive possession, but he returned the game after a brief absence. He was intercepted deep in his own side of the field, which Kansas State returned for a short touchdown, but he answered back on the next possession with a quick two-play, 69-yard touchdown drive.

Oklahoma is off this week. The Sooners return to Big 12 play next week with a road game at Iowa State.

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Heisman trust ‘erroneously’ removed integrity from Mission Statement after website redesign

Heisman Trophy

There was a bit of a kerfuffle earlier this month when Sports Illustrated noticed the word “integrity” was no longer part of the Heisman Trust’s Mission Statement. Now we know why: A mix-up in a redesign of the Heisman’s website.

“During the website creation process ‘integrity’ was erroneously omitted from the Trust mission statement by staff without Trust authorization,” Heisman Trust president William J. Dockery told Sports Illustrated.

Seems to me like that’s a pretty significant omission, especially at a time in which Jameis Winston’s integrity is being questioned and the Heisman front-runner was suspended for signing autographs for money.

But breathe easy, folks. The word integrity is back in the first line of the mission statement, which is now updated to read:

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country. Our goal through these charitable endeavors is for the Heisman Trophy to symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted. All assets of the Trust beyond the expense of maintaining the annual presentation of the Heisman Memorial Trophy are reserved for such charitable causes. The Trustees, who all serve pro bono, are guided by a devotion to college football and are committed to community service and the valued tradition which the Trophy represents.

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The Will Muschamp era at Florida summed up in one stat

Will Muschamp AP

Florida held Missouri to 119 yards of offense on Saturday. Maty Mauk completed six of 18 passes for 20 yards while Mizzou combined to rush 31 times for 99 yards, barely a three-yards-per-carry average.

The final score: 42-13 Mizzou.

Three years ago, Florida State gained 95 yards on the Gators in the Swamp. E.J. Manuel completed six of 13 passes for 65 yards while the Seminoles rushed 46 times for 30 yards.

The final score: 21-7 Florida State.

Now take a look at this:

No doubt Will Muschamp will make an excellent defensive coordinator for someone when his time at Florida is up. And that time, one would think, will be up soon.

Hat-tip to Dan Wolken’s misery index for pointing out the stat.

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Archie Manning takes leave of absence from College Football Playoff selection committee

Logo No. 2 of four AP

Archie Manning will take a leave of absence from the College Football Playoff selection committee following complications stemming from a knee replacement surgery and will not participate in picking the four teams for the inaugural tournament this year.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen was the first to report Manning’s decision to step down.

“It is an honor to serve on this committee, and I enjoy the group and was looking forward to the opportunity ahead,” Manning said in a statement. “My health had to be my primary concern and I intend to be up and about as soon as possible.”

Manning, the former Ole Miss quarterback and 1969 SEC Player of the Year, was one of 13 members of the selection committee, which will release its first top 25 rankings Oct. 28.

“We will miss Archie,” executive director of the College Football Playoff Bill Hancock said. “He has such a great knowledge of college football and history with the game, but we all understand his reason for taking a leave. I wish him all the best and look forward to his return in 2015.”

The College Football Playoff selection committee will not add a new member and will move forward with 12 members this year. The other members: Jeff Long (chair), Barry Alvarez, Mike Gould, Pat Haden, Tom Jernstedt, Oliver Luck, Tom Osborne, Dan Radakovich, Condoleezza Rice, Mike Tranghese, Steve Wieberg and Tyrone Willingham.

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Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks ties Bear Bryant for sixth all-time with 323 wins

Ken Sparks

The football programs at Carson-Newman University and the University of Alabama have next to nothing in common beyond playing the same sport.

Until now.

Carson-Newman, a Division II school in Johnson City, Tenn., stormed back from a 35-27 halftime deficit to defeat Tusculum College 55-35 on Saturday, giving head coach Ken Sparks his 323rd all-time win. The victory moves Sparks – now 323-87-2 at Carson-Newman, a job he’s held continuously since 1980 – into a tie for sixth-place on the all-time victories chart with legendary Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who went 323-85-17 from 1945 to 1982.

“I told (my players) if anybody wanted to talk about the number of victories that I had, you tell them that I didn’t play a play,” Sparks told the Associated Press.

Sparks, 70, is now within striking distance of the top five, trailing legendary Mount Union coach Larry Kehres by just 10 victories. Saint John’s head coach John Gagliardi holds the all-time wins record at 489, followed by Grambling’s Eddie Robinson (408), Howard, West Virginia and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden (377), pre-modern era titan Glenn “Pop” Warner (336) and Kehres (332).

Sparks was diagnosed with prostate cancer over the summer of 2012, and earned his 300th career victory in his first game after the diagnosis.

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Upon further review, ACC defends offensive pass interference penalty against Notre Dame

Notre Dame at Florida State

Just as surgeons are highly unlikely to announce they botched it, officials are very reluctant to announce one of their one got it wrong. Especially in a high-profile case like the decisive call that took Notre Dame’s would-be game-winning touchdown off the board Saturday night at Florida State.

NDFSU

In the wake of the call, the ACC trotted coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads out to explain the ruling.

“Offensive players on passing plays are restricted from going downfield and blocking anytime from the snap,” he said. “If the ball is first touched behind the line of scrimmage then that would be legal and it’s okay, but if it’s touched beyond the line then it’s offensive pass interference.”

Instead of kicking an extra point to take a 34-31 lead over second-ranked and defending national champion Florida State, Notre Dame faced a fourth-and-goal from the 18-yard line. Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson was pressured by Seminoles defensive back Jalen Ramsey, and his hurried pass sailed through the back of the end zone untouched. Final score: Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27.

Rhoads’ explanation isn’t going to make the loss any easier to swallow for Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. In fact, Kelly said he had less clarity about the penalty a day later than he did when the flag first hit the Doak Campbell Stadium grass.

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Criticism of USC DC Justin Wilcox reportedly at core of spat between LenDale White and Pat Haden

LenDale White carries the ball Getty Images

“You can win championships for this program,” former USC running back LenDale White told the Los Angeles Times Saturday, “but you can’t voice your opinion.”

That opinion White is talking about is the opinion the former Trojan holds of USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. White tweeted the following during last Saturday’s game with Arizona, which USC eventually won on a last-second missed field goal.

Fast forward to Saturday. According to InsideSoCal.com, athletics director Pat Haden – no stranger to sideline drama - confronted White about his tweets, and the two began arguing. Following USC’s 56-28 defeat of Colorado, White tweeted the following:

The USC athletics department denies Haden kicked White out of L.A. Coliseum. Reached on the field following the game, White told the L.A. Times, “I’ve never met some of these coaches. I’ve never been a part of them. I am a Trojan 20,000%. I back them 120%. I just get emotional during football games. I’m sorry.”

Minutes later, White had changed his mind. “I feel that exact same way as I did last week,” White said, before the paper quoted him shouting, “Fire Sark tonight.” Again, this was minutes after USC won a conference game by 28 points. It’s also worth noting Sarkisian was USC’s quarterbacks coach during White’s freshman and junior seasons.

“I think LenDale is a passionate guy,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said of his former running back. “He loves USC. We all want to win. We are all passionate about what we do. It is what it is.”

Indeed, Mr. White. Indeed.

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South Carolina may face No. 5 Auburn without two defensive players

South Carolina has a chance to pull off a major U-turn on what has been a disappointing 2014 season with a win over No. 5 Auburn Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it appears the Gamecocks must do so without two defensive contributors.

Senior defensive tackle J.T. Surratt suffered a pulled hamstring during yesterday’s 41-1o over Furman and will likely miss his chance to defend Nick Marshall and company.

“He’s probably doubtful to get back this week,”  Steve Spurrier told AL.com in a Sunday evening teleconference. “J.T., one of our senior captains, we’ll miss him in there. Hopefully some of the other guys can fill in admirably.”

Additionally, back-up weak-side linebacker Jonathan Walton suffered a mild concussion Saturday and is doubtful this week.

Surratt has 14 tackles and a sack this season, while Walton has collected 21 tackles and a fumble recovery.

South Carolina has the SEC’s 12th-ranked total defense, ranks 13th in scoring defense and is dead last in yards per play allowed (6.21), while Auburn ranks third in the conference in scoring and fourth in both total offense and yards per play.

Tight end Rory Anderson is also questionable after injuring his triceps on Saturday, but Spurrier hopes to get him back on the practice field this week. Anderson has 18 grabs for 204 yards and a touchdown on the year.

Auburn and South Carolina will meet at 7:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network.

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West Virginia President Gordon Gee calls post-Baylor win riots “criminal”

Gordon Gee

West Virginia toppled No. 4 Baylor 41-27 on Saturday afternoon in the biggest win since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012. The good news, of course, was that the home team won. The bad news? A noon kickoff meant the game ended around 4 p.m. local time, leaving plenty of time for the blue and gold faithful to, uh, celebrate the win.

Enthusiasm – if you want to call it that – built throughout the evening, eventually metastasizing into overturned vehicles and neighborhood street fires.

“We had fires in residential neighborhoods. We had where they tried to flip vehicles over in other places,” Morgantown police chief Ed Preston told WVMetroNews.com.

Like a true cancer, when one area would come under control of the police, the riots would spread to another area of town.

“As they were broken up or dispersed, other gatherings would occur in other parts of the city. Sometimes two, three, four gatherings were occurring at a time at various locations throughout the city,” Preston said.

And now what should have been a priceless day full of free publicity turned into an another ugly episode for a school that has become known for them.

Watch West Virginia president Gordon Gee’s mood transition from exuberance to disappointment to anger over the course of the day through his Twitter timeline.

“This is not acceptable Mountaineer behavior,” Gee told the paper. “It is not ‘partying’ to set fires, tear down fences or throw bottles at police. It is criminal and will be dealt with as such. I have zero tolerance for students who wish to act in such a way that it demeans the achievements of our institution and its faculty, staff, students, alumni and our Morgantown community.”

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USC QB Cody Kessler, WVU DL Shaq Riddick earn Walter Camp Player of the Week honors

Cody Kessler

USC quarterback Cody Kessler and West Virginia defensive lineman Shaq Riddick have earned Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors following outstanding efforts on Saturday.

Kessler set a USC single-game record for passing touchdowns – consider what that statement means for a moment – with seven scoring strikes in a 56-28 blowout over Colorado. His seven touchdown passes came on 19-of-26 passing for 319 yards, a passer rating of 264.98. Even better, Kessler was a scorching hot 11-of-16 for 159 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter alone as the Trojans sprinted to a 28-0 lead.

Kessler’s seven touchdowns tied a single-game record for the Pac-12 Conference, and his five first-half touchdowns tied a school record for touchdown passes in one half. It was also the fourth time Kessler has thrown for 300 yards or more in his career.

Riddick wreaked all sorts of havoc on Baylor’s undefeated record by collecting five tackles (four solo), three sacks and four tackles for loss in a 41-27 upset of the then fourth-ranked Bears. Riddick’s effort helped limit Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty to 16 completions in 36 attempts, and a season-low 95 rushing yards, nearly half their previous low of 189 yards in a 63-21 win at Buffalo.

The win pushed West Virginia back into the AP and Coaches’ poll for the first time in nearly two full years, the Mountaineers’ first appearance since Oct. 28, 2012.

 

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Who is the best team in the Big Ten?

Big 10 Championship Game - Ohio State v Michigan State Getty Images

With the drive to the College Football Playoff now about to hit fifth gear, the Big Ten is creeping up in the rear-view mirrors of the Pac-12 and Big 12. As those conferences begin to pick themselves apart and SEC West cannibalism about to get really interesting, the Big Ten could once again be fielding two teams worth considering in the playoff hunt; Michigan State and Ohio State. So, which team has the best case to represent the Big Ten in the College Football Playoff?

Both Michigan State and Ohio State lost their premier non-conference match-ups this season. The Spartans let one get away on the road against Oregon. Ohio State lost at home to Virginia Tech. Since then though, both teams have hit a stride and continue to string together strong performances. The Spartans dodged a bullet last week on the road at Purdue and followed that up by managing to pull away from Indiana on the road once again this week. Ohio State has been more convincing in recent weeks with blowouts of Big Ten newcomers Maryland and Rutgers. The two programs appear to be heading toward the Big Ten’s game of the year in East Lansing trending in slightly different directions, but the rematch of last season’s Big Ten championship game should bring out the best in both teams.

Neither team should be looking ahead, but Michigan State and Ohio State should be considered solid favorites in Big Ten play this week. Michigan State hosts Michigan. Ohio State plays on the road at Penn State. Both the Wolverines and Nittany Lions had bye weeks to prepare for these tests, but considering the state of each program, Michigan State and Ohio State should still have a decided advantage once the teams take the field. Assuming both get by without being upset this week, the stage will begin to be set for the colossal meeting on November 8. Michigan State has a bye week after playing Michigan and Ohio State has a home game against Illinois.

With the discussion about best one-loss teams starting to pick up steam, it will be important to know just how the College Football Playoff selection committee would view each potentially one-loss team with a Big Ten championship. The Spartans, in theory, could go 12-1 with a Big Ten championship game victory over a potentially ranked Nebraska or perhaps Wisconsin (or Minnesota?). A victory over a ranked Ohio State team would be nice as well, but up agianst a one-loss Pac-12 champion in Oregon would likely give the Ducks an edge if it came down to one spot remaining.

How would a one-loss Ohio State be viewed though? The Buckeyes have certainly played better on a weekly basis and quarterback J.T. Barrett has come a long way since his week two defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech. Would Ohio State be rewarded for improving along the way? If injuries are to be taken into consideration, would the committee not recognize Ohio State was playing with an inexperienced quarterback against Virginia Tech after losing Braxton Miller for the year, and would the committee not consider how the team has played as the season played out?

This is all hypothetical conversation, of course. One of these teams will lose at least one more game, but the Big Ten’s two best teams are beginning to warrant the same kind of consideration a number of other one-loss teams might be getting.

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A quick briefing on the Big 12 tiebreakers, just in case

Kansas State v Oklahoma Getty Images

After winning on the road at Oklahoma and Baylor stumbled on the road at West Virginia on Saturday, Kansas State currently sits on top of the Big 12 standings. The Wildcats are 3-0 in conference play, but the three teams right behind Bill Snyder’s team share an identical 3-1 conference mark. West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma State are all 3-1, and TCU is 2-1. There is still a good chance this conference sorts itself out without much controversy, but as we sit here in mid-October it might be worth taking a quick look at the Big 12 tiebreaker, just in case we need them later on.

The most simple tiebreaker is the two-team tiebreaker. In the event two teams tie for first place in the Big 12 at the end of the season, the winner of the regular season’s head-to-head match-up will be rewarded with the Big 12’s spot in the Sugar Bowl or alternate bowl spot. The Big 12 has a deal with the Sugar Bowl, but if the Big 12 champion is not chosen to play in the College Football Playoff, the Big 12 champion will be placed in another bowl game, perhaps the Fiesta or Orange. So, if West Virginia and Baylor end the season tied for the Big 12’s best record, the Mountaineers would get the bowl spot.

It gets more complicated once more than two teams are involved. The following four steps will be used until a winner is chosen. The steps will be used to eliminate one team from any tie-breaking scenarios until there is just one remaining. Per the Big 12’s official website, the tiebreaker procedures for more than two teams are;

  1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other
  2. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed team(s) in the conference (4, 5 and 6….).
  3. The highest ranked team in the first College Football Playoff poll following the completion of Big 12 regular season conference play shall be the representative unless the two highest ranked tied teams are ranked within one spot of the other in the College Football Playoff poll. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the College Football Playoff.
  4. The representative will be chosen by draw.

Ah yes, the Big 12 could come down to a good old-fashioned draw. How appropriate. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that point. Kansas State can do everyone a favor and run the table to avoid any potential headaches.

The Big 12 tweaked these procedures as a formality before the start of the season. The third tiebreaker used to go off BCS rankings, but because there are no more BCS rankings the conference had to adjust.

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