Coming off a four-win season, one wouldn’t expect a head coach to be on the receiving end of some additional job security. Considering the state of the football program Justin Fuente inherited, however, it makes sense on multiple levels.
Memphis announced in a press release Wednesday that Fuente has received a one-year extension to his original contract. The first-year coach is now signed through the 2017 season.
Per the release, the other terms of his contract remain the same, which means essentially that Fuente did not receive a bump in pay to go along with the extension.
“Justin Fuente has met or exceeded every expectation we had for him during his first ten months as the head coach for the Tiger football program,” athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement. “His program made impressive strides throughout the 2012 season and continues to be headed in the right direction. Now we, as a department, need to create a structure of support to work in unison with Coach Fuente and his program.”
While the Tigers finished the 2012 season at just 4-8, the win total was just one less than the football program had in the past three seasons combined. All four of the Tigers’ wins last year came in Conference USA play; the team won just two conference games from 2009-11.
Memphis, which will officially move from Conference USA to the Big East July 1 of this year, will carry a three-game winning streak into the 2013 season, matching the longest winning streak for the program since the Tigers won five games in a row way back in 2003.
“I am appreciative of Dr. Shirley Raines and Tom Bowen’s commitment to help build this football program,” Fuente said. “As evidenced by the final month of the season, we have laid a solid foundation for the future. I have been told our student-athletes are working hard during our off-season conditioning program, and the coaching staff is looking forward to preparing our players this spring for what is ahead for Tiger Football.”
Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.
Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.
The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.
“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …
“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.
The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.
The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.
“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”
LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.
“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).
Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.
In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.
A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.
Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.
Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.
Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.
“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”
It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.
Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.