Rutgers makes B1G gender history with athletic director hire

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Still a little over a year away from officially joining the Big Ten, Rutgers has already plowed some athletic department territory rarely before seen in the history of the conference.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Rutgers announced that it has hired Julie Hermann as the university’s new athletic director, ending a search that had stretched nearly six weeks.  Hermann comes to the Scarlet Knights from Louisville, where she served as the Cardinals’ executive senior associate athletic director.  She had been at the U of L for the past 15 years.

Hermann will become the second-ever female athletic director in the Big Ten (Michigan State’s Merrily Dean Baker) when the Scarlet Knights move their athletic programs from the Big East next July.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Julie Hermann to the Rutgers community,” said president Robert L. Barchi. “She is one of the most respected athletics administrators in the country and she was deeply involved in moving Louisville from Conference USA to the Big East and from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Her 15 years of leadership experience will be an invaluable asset to the university as we prepare to enter the Big Ten.”

The Hermann hiring culminates a tumultuous few months for the university in general and the athletic department specifically.

In April, popular and highly-successful RU athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned his post thanks in large part to the public backlash over his handling of the Mike Rice situation.  Hermann will now be charged with cleaning up the mess left by her predecessor — and enjoy the fruits of his labor as well.

“Rutgers is poised to soar,” said Hermann. “With a world-class faculty and academic reputation, a strategic location and the power and reach of the Big Ten, the university is positioned to create a best-in-class experience for every student who accepts the challenge to learn and compete at Rutgers.”

Not only will Hermann become the second athletic director of the female persuasion in Big Ten history, she also joins a rather exclusive club at the FBS level.  Of the 124 schools that played FBS football in 2012, just five of them had females in charge of their athletic departments; just two of those female athletic directors — Maryland’s Debbie Yow, Cal’s Sandy Barbour — were from so-called automatic qualifying conferences.

It should also be noted that Georgia State will be transitioning to the FBS level, and their athletic department is headed by Cheryl Levick.

All told, there are 26 female athletic directors at the 300-member-plus Div-I level, including 10 at FCS schools.  Below is a brief look at the five female FBS athletic directors (Texas has separate athletic directors for men’s and women’s sports) and whose company Hermann will join:

Sandy Barbour, Cal
Per her bio on the school’s official website, Cal has claimed 17 team national titles and another 81 individual crowns since Barbour assumed control of the athletic department in 2004.  Two major facility upgrades have taken place on Barbour’s watch: the 142,000-square-foot Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance and a massive renovation of Memorial Stadium.  She also performed a massive renovation on the stadium’s tenant by firing longtime head football coach Jeff Tedford following the 2012 season.

Cary Groth, Nevada
One of the first-ever female athletic directors when hired by her alma mater Northern Illinois in 1994, Groth has been with the Wolf Pack since March of 2004.  Groth’s greatest success at Nevada was the move from the WAC to the Mountain West.  She retired in April of this year after more than 30 years working in collegiate athletics.

Debbie Yow, North Carolina State
One of the most respected athletic directors of any gender by those in athletics, Yow has been at NCSU since 2010 after leaving the same job at Maryland after 16 years.  Yow has served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the national Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, and is a member of the National Football Foundation board of directors.  The most significant move of her three-year tenure was the firing of Tom O’Brien as head football coach and hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois.

Lynn Hickey, UT-San Antonio
Hickey has been at UTSA since 2000, adding three sports program to the athletic department roll during that time.  Her most notable achievement, however, was moving the Roadrunners to the WAC in 2012 and then, with that conference folding football-wise, jumping to Conference USA beginning this season.

Kathy Beauregard, Western Michigan
The longest-serving athletic director in the MAC, Beauregard will be entering her 17th year in that post and her 33rd overall at the school.  Facility upgrades have been the hallmark of her long tenure at the university.

No. 1 Alabama matches series record with 11th straight win over Tennessee

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Tennessee wasn’t beaten by a cavalcade of big plays, special teams touchdowns and turnovers. Instead it was just a play-after-play-after-play destruction by the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide, resulting in a 45-7 Alabama win that wasn’t as close as the final score.

The Tide jumped to a 21-0 halftime lead thanks to a pair of 1-yard leaps by Bo Scarborough and an 11-yard dash by Damien Harris, and Jalen Hurts got in on the action with a 14-yard strike to Irv Smith, Jr., swelling the lead to 28-0 to open the second half.

Tennessee got on the board shortly thereafter, when Daniel Bituli stepped in front of a Tua Tagovailoa pass and raced it 97 yards for a touchdown. In typical Tennessee fashion, though, the score was immediately tainted by this:

Tagovailoa atoned for his pick-six with a 23-yard scoring dash at the 12:59 mark of the fourth quarter.

Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) moved in position to record its first offensive touchdown of the game — scratch that, its first offensive touchdown in a month — with a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, but a run to the 1-yard line was negated by a false start penalty and Jarrett Guarantano was intercepted by Mack Wilson, who returned the ball to the Alabama 23-yard line. The interception extended Alabama’s streak of consecutive games with at least one takeaway to 35. Tennessee’s last offensive touchdown came with 25 seconds left in the second quarter of the Vols’ 17-13 defeat of Massachusetts on Sept. 23.

Tagovailoa capitalized on the turnover with a 60-yard snatch-and-dash connection to fellow freshman Henry Ruggs III at the 4:49 mark of the fourth quarter.

In a game that amounted to a televised practice for Alabama, the Tide used two quarterbacks, seven ball-carriers and eight pass-catchers. Hurts was 13-of-21 for 198 yards and a touchdown, and Tagovailoa hit 9-of-12 throws for 134 yards with a score and a pick. Harris led all runners with 13 carries for 72 yards, and Calvin Ridley hauled in eight grabs for a game-high 82 yards. Overall, Alabama ran the ball 53 times for 272 yards and four touchdowns, gained 35 first downs and averaged 7.02 yards on its 86 snaps.

Guarantano’s second start was one to forget. Immediately. He completed 9-of-16 passes for 44 yards with an interception and was credited with minus-12 rushing yards on 11 carries. As a team, Tennessee amassed 108 yards of total offense with seven first downs and converted 1-of-12 third down opportunities. The Vols ran only 46 offensive plays and averaged 2.35 yards on those plays.

The result marked Alabama’s 11th straight win in the series — beginning with Nick Saban‘s first season — and matched the record winning streak in a rivalry that dates back to 1901, matching Alabama’s 11 straight victories from 1971-81. Alabama is 32-14-1 against Tennessee since 1971.

Speaking of streaks, the win pushed Alabama to 8-0 on the year and 5-0 in the SEC, giving the Tide 31 straight regular-season wins and 22 consecutive victories against the SEC.

Scott Frost’s stock continues to rise as unbeaten and 20th-ranked UCF knocks off Navy

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Paying attention to your prodigal son, Nebraska?  Where are your eyes at, Tennessee?

Entering Week 8 unbeaten and ranked 20th in the country, Central Florida was facing arguably its stiffest test of the season in the form of 5-1 Navy. After 60 minutes of play in Annapolis, the Knights are leaving town with a 31-21 win over the Midshipmen.

A pivotal moment came in the middle of the third quarter when, trailing just 21-14 and driving, starting quarterback and leading rusher Zach Abey was knocked out of the game.  The junior, who had 126 yards on the ground prior to leaving did not return to the contest because of what looked to be a head injury.

The service academy was able to close the gap to 24-21 early in the fourth quarter, but a turnover gave the ball back to UCF with just over seven minutes remaining.  Seven plays and 54 yards later, the Knights cashed in on the fumble recovery with a 10-yard Otis Anderson touchdown run that effectively put the game away with 3:30 left.

With the win, UCF is now 6-0 on the season, the first time they’ve won the first six games of a season in the program’s history.

As for the stock of Scott Frost, it does nothing but continue to rise.  Taking over a program that was winless the year before he arrived, the Knights went 6-7 in his first season and are now ranked 20th in the country, behind only 16th-ranked South Florida in the group of Five.

Those two AAC contenders are on a collision course for a potentially epic regular-season finale — one that could determine the G5’s lone New Year’s Six bowl bid.  Before then, however, UCF needs to get past an FCS foe, SMU, UConn and Temple, while USF will have to take care of business against Tulane later on tonight as well as Houston, UConn and Tulsa.

No. 9 Oklahoma struggling on the road with Kansas State at halftime

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It didn’t take long — two plays exactly — for No. 9 Oklahoma to realize that they will have their hands full against Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats struck early and struck often to jump out to a 21-10 lead over their Big 12 rival heading into halftime in yet another head-scratching performance for the Sooners after a big win.

Defensive issues were at the heart of the problem for the ranked side, as KSU quarterback Alex Delton looked borderline unstoppable until a late interception — finishing the half with 60 yards passing and an even more impressive 115 yards and two touchdowns rushing. The speedy dual-threat made his second start in place of Jesse Ertz and may have fully Wally Pipp’d his veteran teammate given what he brought to the offense. Running back Alex Barnes also chipped in with 96 yards, including a 75-yard score on the second snap of the game.

Perhaps the biggest bout of news from the half was surrounding Sooners’ star Baker Mayfield. The signal-caller was 12-of-15 for 148 yards and a touchdown while also leading the team in rushing after two quarters. However he was taken out of the game on the final drive with a potential injury, only to return to the field as a decoy for two wildcat formation plays. It’s still not clear if he’s 100 percent healthy after taking a rather hard hit on a scramble.

Mayfield was also picked off once, thanks to an incredible job by KSU’s Denzel Goolsby to wrestle a ball away from a receiver in the end zone to come up with the ball.

So yes, just another weird day in the Big 12 as not much makes sense and a highly ranked team looks to be in real trouble on the road.

Miami turns Syracuse turnovers into 13-3 halftime lead

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A week after knocking off the ACC favorite and defending national champions, can Syracuse pull off another upset in the ACC? If Syracuse is going to do that against Miami, they have some work to do in the second half. Miami leads Syracuse at halftime, 13-3 while the Orange have had four turnovers.

The momentum of last week’s shocking upset against Clemson did not carry over on the road against Miami for Syracuse. Syracuse’s game-opening drive appeared to end on an interception off a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage, but Miami’s Demetrius Jackson had the ball stripped out of his hands after initially intercepting the ball. In the end, it turned out to be a Syracuse first down and what was effectively a loss of 12 yards on the play.

Turnovers would be the story of the half for Syracuse, however. Miami turned two Eric Dungey interceptions into 10 points in the first half. Malik Rosier completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Herndon IV to put the Hurricanes up 10-0 eight plays after an interception by the defense. Miami added a field goal after Syracuse was intercepted on the third play of the ensuing possession.

The best drive of the half for Syracuse traveled 71 yards over 17 plays but ended with a 22-yard field goal by Cole Murphy to get the Orange on the board.

The Syracuse defense has done their job. Miami has converted just one of six third-down plays for a first down, and the Hurricanes have not been able to do more damage on the scoreboard despite the abundance of Syracuse turnovers.