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Saban loses assistant to NFL, poaches FSU for replacement

Billy Napier

Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland left Alabama for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles, replaced just yesterday by former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal.

A day later, Nick Saban‘s lost another assistant to the pro ranks, although this time around it appears a replacement is already in place.

First reported by BamaOnline.com, Mike Groh has left his post as the Tide’s wide receivers coach for a position with the Chicago Bears.  Groh had reportedly interviewed for the job with the NFL club earlier in the week.

The website went on to report that Billy Napier is leaving Florida State to replace Groh.  Napier was just hired by FSU last month as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.  Prior to spending last season at Colorado State, where he served as the Rams’ assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach, he was Clemson’s offensive coordinator in 2009-10.

Suffice to say, Alabama has yet to confirm the latest tweaking of Saban’s coaching staff.

(Photo credit: Clemson athletics)

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Coaches at Penn State and Pitt trying to reignite the rivalry

James Franklin

Penn State and Pittsburgh used to play every season, but once the two programs went their separate ways by joining the Big East (Pitt) and Big Ten (Penn State), it has been a struggle to get the two programs to see eye-to-eye when it came to scheduling any future games. Much of the tension stemmed from the days of Joe Paterno leading the Penn State program and demanding an extra home game in any scheduling arrangement with Pittsburgh, but that is best left for historians to dig deeper into today. Penn State and Pittsburgh have a four-game series lined up for 2016 through 2019. If it was up to the head coaches of both programs today, the series would continue on an annual basis.

The topic of power conference opponents scheduling other power conference opponents has become an increasingly relevant topic with the emphasis shifting on strength of schedule in the College Football Playoff era. With Pitt also needing to fulfill a non-conference scheduling requirement to schedule an opponent from another power conference opponent each season under the ACC’s new guidelines, it would seem only natural for the Panthers to explore the revival of past annual rivalries against either West Virginia or Penn State.

Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst was asked about historic and regional rivals Penn State and West Virginia this week while moving through the ESPN car wash. In what may come as a bit of a surprise, Chryst told Brett McMurphy of ESPN he would prefer to see an annual match-up with Penn State instead of West Virginia if he had to choose between the two. Penn State head coach James Franklin appears to be on the same page, telling McMurphy today on his run through the ESPN media gauntlet he would support seeing an annual series with the Panthers.

What needs to happen before this can actually become an annual tradition in the Keystone State? There may not be a whole lot that needs to fall into place, although Penn State playign a nine-game schedule in the Big Ten moving forward while the ACC sticks to an eight-game schedule will present many of the same problems faced with reviving the Backyard Brawl between Pittsburgh and West Virginia. In the end, Penn State’s desire to assure an extra home game on the schedule could resurface in a different capacity by ensuring Penn State has seven home games at a minimum for years to come.

With new leadership in place at both schools compared to the late 1980s and early 1990s, perhaps getting these two in-state rivals back together for the long term could be a more realistic possibility.

Penn State and Pittsburgh last played in 2000. The two schools agreed to a two-game series in 2016 and 2017 and later agreed to extend the series by two more games through 2019. Penn State leads the all-time series, 44-41-4.

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Pac-12 QBs set pace for Unitas Award watch list

Marcus Mariota

For those who thought — or were hoping — they’d seen the last of these types of posts this year, you are sadly mistaken.

The latest to release its preseason watch list is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually to the nation’s top senior (eligibility-wise or academically) quarterback.  In other words, don’t freak out because Florida State’s Jameis Winston or the like aren’t included.

Among those who are included are three semifinalists for last year’s award, with all three hailing from the Pac-12: Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly (no relation), Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Speaking of the Pac-12, they paced all conferences with seven quarterbacks on the watch list.  The Big Ten was next with six, followed by the SEC (five), Big 12 (three), Mountain West (two) and one each from the AAC, ACC and Conference USA.  Prairie View A&M’s Jerry Lovelocke was the only non-FBS player to make the initial cut.

AJ McCarron of Alabama was the 2013 recipient of the award.

Below is the complete list of 27 players:

2014 Unitas Award Preseason Watch List

 

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Reports: Josh Turner has dismissal reversed, still with ‘Horns

Mississippi v Texas

Hold the phone on at least one of the players reportedly booted past the Austin city limits.

Both Rivals.com and 24/7Sports.com are reporting that Josh Turner is once again a member of the Texas football team.  Per the latter recruiting website, Turner was set to transfer when, “just prior to Turner finalizing his plans, head coach Charlie Strong allowed Turner to appeal to the decision of his dismissal.”

A meeting with head coach Charlie Strong was held Tuesday night that went well enough that Turner was placed back on the team, albeit with what 247Sports termed as “severe restrictions.” What those restrictions entail wasn’t divulged.

Turner has started five games in the secondary during his 37-game UT career.  He will be a senior in 2014.

Running back Joe Bergeron and Jalen Overstreet along with defensive end Chevoski Collins remain on the outside of the program looking in and are not expected to see their dismissals reversed. Bergeron is seeking to be released from his scholarship so he can transfer to a Div. II school in the state.

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Stanford’s Ty Montgomery ‘ahead of schedule’ in shoulder rehab

Ty Montgomery, Kameron Jackson

Maybe the situation’s not as dire as it appeared at first blush.

Ty Montgomery is in the midst of recovering from shoulder surgery, with Stanford’s David Shaw acknowledging this weekend that the star wide receiver might not miss just the opener against UC-Davis but the following Saturday’s conference opener against USC as well.  While there’s certainly the possibility that Montgomery could be held out of the opener — see: competition, level of — there appears to be more optimism regarding the game against the Trojans.

“Ty’s ahead of schedule. He’s ahead of schedule. He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Shaw said Wednesday.

As for holding out Montgomery for the opener even if he’s healthy enough? At least in the here and now, the Cardinal head coach doesn’t want to hear that kind of talk.

“f he’s ready to go Game 1 and the doctors say, `You know what, he’s at limited risk for re-injury, let’s let him go play,’ I’m all for it,” Shaw said. “There’s no babying football players. If Ty’s ready to go, he’s returning kickoffs, he’s playing the game. If he’s not, we’ll hold him off. I don’t have an issue with that.”

For his part, Montgomery said today that “[w]henever they can tell me I can play, I’m ready to play.”

Montgomery was easily the Cardinal’s top pass-catcher in 2013, leading the team with 61 catches for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns.  The next closest was Devon Cajuste‘s 28-642-5.

For good measure, Montgomery was third in the nation in kick return average (30.3) and was one of just seven players to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown (New Mexico’s Carlos Wiggins returned three for scores).

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Report: Chris Gallon, one of BGSU’s top WRs, could miss season

Kent State v Bowling Green Getty Images

If it weren’t for bad injury luck, Chris Gallon wouldn’t have any luck at all.

Speculation has surfaced recently that the Bowling Green wide receiver either suffered a significant new injury or had reinjured his knee.  While the school has yet to address what if any injury issue the wide receiver may be facing, the whispers are growing louder.  And sounding season-ending-ish before the season even gets started.

From the Twitter account of WTOL-TV’s Jordan Strack:

The loss of Gallon certainly wouldn’t be optimal for BGSU’s offense.

In 2012, Gallon led all Falcon receivers in catches (54), yards (720) and receiving touchdowns (six).  He was second in all three categories last year (24-232-2) when he went down with what turned out to be a season-ending injury.

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After putting arm through window, LSU’s Lealaimatafao likely lost for year

LSU Trey

In a move not even remotely unexpected, it appears LSU won’t have one member of its 2014 recruiting class at its disposal.

In a tweet, Ross Dellenger of the Baton Rouge Advocate confirmed that, according to head coach Les Miles, “Trey Lealaimatafao will ‘probably not‘ play this season after arm injury.”

Last week, Lealaimatafao suffered what was initially feared to be an amputation-level injury to his arm after punching through a weight-room window. Fortunately for Lealaimatafao, the physical damage wasn’t as severe as initially reported and the defensive tackle was released from the hospital two days later.

One day after his release, was Lealaimatafao was arrested for allegedly stealing a bicycle from an on-campus library.

Lealaimatafao was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 26 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 43 player in the state of Texas at any position.

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After transferring from Tide, Josh Magee now leaving S. Alabama

Josh Magee

Josh Magee has already left one FBS football program, and is set on doing the same a second time.

South Alabama head coach Joey Jones confirmed to al.com that Magee has decided to leave the Jaguars due to family reasons.  The website wrote that “Magee will look to play elsewhere, probably closer to his home in Hoover (Ala.).”

The move came as a surprise as Magee had a solid spring practice, with Jones saying that “obviously, we had high expectations for Josh.”

Magee was a member of the Tide’s 2012 recruiting class, but took a redshirt his true freshman season. After one season in Tuscaloosa, he decided to transfer to USA, sitting out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws.

He exited spring this year as one of the Jaguars’ No. 2 wide receivers.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Starting Lobo lineman arrested on pair of charges

Jamal Price

Yes, yes, another post, another arrest.

The latest college football player to run afoul of the law is New Mexico’s Jamal Price, who the Albuquerque Journal is reporting was arrested following a domestic incidence Monday.  Specifically, the offensive lineman was charged with breaking & entering and conspiracy to commit a fourth-degree felony.

The paper wrote that “[a] criminal complaint says he pushed his girlfriend and Lobo basketball player Khadijah Shumpert at her apartment on Monday night in a dispute over an ‘Apple’ television.”

Because of the arrest and subsequent charges, Price has been indefinitely suspended from the team.

“I do think there is a level of frustration that’s shared by the coaches and the players,” Lobos head coach Bob Davie said. “In fact, I know that. I know guys want to make the right decision. They understand what it takes to make the right decision and they are hurt by this. I know our football team is hurt by this.”

Price started 10 games for the Lobos in 2013.  He was listed as the starting right guard on UNM’s depth chart heading into summer camp.

(Tip O the Cap: ArrestNation.com)

(Photo credit: New Mexico athletics)

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Family issues cost Fresno St. likely DB contributor

Randon Knotts

Unfortunately, a situation off the field will cost Fresno State a potential defensive contributor on it.

Bulldogs head coach Tim DeRuyter confirmed to the Fresno Bee that Randon Knotts has decided to leave his football program. While no specifics were given, the coach pointed to the general “family issues” as the impetus for the departure.

“We like the progress he was making. He’s a really outstanding young man, but he has some family issues back home that he needs to go home and take care of,” DeRuyter told the Bee.

There was no indication that Knotts would be returning at any point in the near future, if at all.

Knotts was a two-star member of Fresno’s 2013 recruiting class and took a redshirt as a true freshman. The paper wrote that “Knotts in the spring got reps at safety as well as the nickel position.”

(Photo credit: Fresno State athletics)

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Baseball player rejoins LaTech football team

Taylor Burch QB (16)©Louisiana Tech Universityphoto by Donny Crowe

An LSU stick-and-baller did it earlier this month. Now, another FBS football program in that state will be the beneficiary of a similar move.

Earlier this week, Louisiana Tech announced that Taylor Burch (no relation) has joined the football program. And, actually, it’s rejoined; in 2010 and 2011, Burch was on the football Bulldogs roster.

Burch left the football team following the 2011 season and concentrated on baseball full-time the past two seasons after splitting his time between the sports. His baseball eligibility is expired, and he will be entering his final season of football eligibility.

While Burch served as the holder on field goal and extra point attempts, he will enter summer camp listed as a quarterback. During the last season of his first go-around with the football Bulldogs, the school noted Burch completed a 12-yard pass to on a fourth-and-four fake field goal against Houston.

(Photo credit: Louisiana Tech athletics)

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Police probe involving OU’s Mixon to extend into next week

Joe Mixon

For Oklahoma fans anxiously looking for the Joe Mixon situation to take its next step, you’re going to have to wait.

According to Tulsa World, a police investigation into the incident involving the highly-touted 2014 signee is expected to continue into next week, with an intimation that perhaps it could extend even further.  Once the investigation is wrapped up, the results will be sent to the district attorney, who will make a determination on whether charges will be filed.

We are not closer to making an arrest,” Norman Police Department captain Todd Gibson told the World. “and would anticipate having documentation to the Cleveland County District Attorney sometime late next week.”

Late last week it was reported that Mixon was involved in an altercation at a cafe just outside of campus. It was alleged that Mixon punched a 20-year-old woman in the face, breaking four bones.

In a statement released by his attorney a couple of days later. it was claimed that Mixon was merely acting in self-defense.

“This past Friday morning Joe Mixon found himself in a situation where he was subjected to both verbal and physical attacks from a very intoxicated and troubled young woman. As a result of these physical attacks, Joe instinctually defended himself against further harm.”

The release ended by stating “[a]s we have always maintained, Joe has done nothing wrong.”

Mixon was a five-star member of the Sooners’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 1 running back in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the country.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Report: Jameis Winston stopped by police at gunpoint, handcuffed during 2012 incident

Jameis Winston

After a couple of months of relative quiet, Jameis Winston is back in the headlines for an off-the-field incident — from a couple of years ago.

According to a report from Rachel Axon of USA Today, the Florida State quarterback, along with teammate Chris Casher, was stopped by university police at gunpoint during an incident in November of 2012.  Winston was observed brandishing what one witness described as a long-barreled handgun on a hiking trail; it turned out to be a pellet gun.

Winston and Casher claimed that they were shooting squirrels with the pellet gun and informed people along the trail of the type of weapon they were carrying.

After the police officer “drew my firearm from its holster and pointed it at the suspects with my finger outside the trigger guard,” the two players were handcuffed and briefly detained. They weren’t arrested, charged or issued citations — FSU’s Code of Conduct prohibits possession of weapons, including pellet guns, on campus — and were released shortly after the incident began.

The pistol and pellets, however, were confiscated.

Oddly enough, that incident occurred a few hours before the continuation of an ongoing BB gun “battle” involving Winston and other Seminole football players that ended up causing more than $4,000 worth of damage.  The players made restitution and no charges were ever filed.

Those are two of what have been a handful of legal run-ins for Winston during his brief time in Tallahassee.

In July of 2012, Winston was accused of stealing soda from a Burger King, although no charges were filed  Late last year, he was investigated for the alleged rape of an FSU student in December of 2012; it was determined there wasn’t enough evidence in that case to pursue an indictment.

Then, in April of this year, Winston was cited for shoplifting seafood from a local grocery store.

Earlier this month, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner addressed his much-discussed incidents and acknowledged that he needs to be more accountable for his off-field actions.

“I’ve got to hold myself to a certain standard that the media may view me in, that the regular people may view me in, but I know I can do that because I’ve learned the true definition of being a leader and being a leader on and off the field,” the redshirt sophomore said during the ACC Media Days. “As a leader for the Florida State Seminoles, I not only have to respect the name on the back of my jersey, but I have a great university that is looking for me to be a great student athlete, and more importantly I have teammates that are counting on me.

“Accountability is something that’s very important to me, and so, yes, I have learned, and I’ve learned that leadership is more important playing the quarterback position than anything else.”

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BYU, NIU reach agreement on future series

BYU v Wisconsin Getty Images

It’s no Auburn-Clemson, but still.

Northern Illinois confirmed via a press release Wednesday that it has reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with BYU. Per the release, the series will begin on Oct. 27, 2018 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, while the Cougars and Huskies will play at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb on Oct. 24, 2020.

The 2018 game will mark the first-ever between the two football programs.

“BYU is an opponent that will bring a national name and a long tradition of success to our schedule,” NIU athletic Sean Frazier said in a statement. “I think this is a series that will make Huskie fans take notice and realize that we are serious about bringing top-quality opponents to Huskie Stadium and that now is the time to get involved with NIU Football.”

NIU had previously reached an agreement on a two-game series with Iowa those same two years. Both of those games, however, will be played at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium.

As a football independent, BYU already has 2018 games scheduled against, among others, Arizona, Utah, Utah State and Wisconsin, and 2020 games against Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and Virginia.

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Sun Devils add ex-Boilermaker LB

Steve Hull, Ruben Ibarra AP

Earlier this month it was reported that erstwhile Purdue linebacker Ruben Ibarra was visiting Arizona State.

A handful of days later, it appears the move out west has all but come to fruition.

While neither school has confirmed a departure/addition, the Arizona Republic has reported that Ibarra has informed the pertinent ASU officials that he has decided to transfer into the Sun Devils football program.

As Ibarra will be a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Sun Devils immediately in 2014. He will have one season of eligibility remaining.

Ibarra was a three-star member of the Boilermakers’ 2012 recruiting class coming out of the JUCO ranks. Ibarra played in one game his first season, then started two of the seven games in which he played last season.

At ASU, Ibarra will enter summer camp as one of a few players who could win a starting job at linebacker.

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Auburn, Clemson schedule 2016-17 home-and-home

Auburn Clemson AP

In the immortal recruiting words of Kevin Sumlin, yes sir!!!

In a release Wednesday, Auburn announced that it has scheduled a future home-and-home series with Clemson. The ACC Tigers will visit Auburn on Sept. 3, 2016 while the SEC Tigers will return the favor Sept. 9, 2017.

The football programs have met 49 times previously, with the last coming in the 2012 season opener. AU holds a decided 34-13-2 advantage in the series.

With the agreement and in those two seasons, Auburn will meet the SEC’s mandate of playing at least one Power Five conference opponent every year. AU had previously announced a 2016 game with Arkansas State.

For Clemson, it means the Tigers will face two SEC schools in both 2016 and 2017, the second being its annual in-state grudge match with South Carolina.

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