Bill O’Brien‘s name came up in the NFL coaching carousel this past offseason. It undoubtedly will again after the job he did in one season at Penn State, but the university is doing its best to keep O’Brien around for as long as possible.
The university released an amended contract for the coach on Thursday, which you can view in its entirety HERE, that takes him through Jan. 6, 2017.
O’Brien is now scheduled to make about $1.93 million in base salary beginning July 1. That’s a nearly $1 million raise from the $950,000 he made this past year. In July of 2014, O’Brien’s base pay will dip to a little over $1.13 million before rising again to $1.65 million in 2015. Beginning in 2016, O’Brien is set to receive annual raises of 5 percent.
O’Brien also gets $1 million a year in additional compensation for radio and TV appearances as well as $350,000 a year for apparel. Adding those incentives in the deal, O’Brien is in line to make around $3.3 million for 2013. There are also performance-based incentives for bowl games and conference championships, and even though those are out of the equation for the next few years thanks to the NCAA, O’Brien can still earn additional compensation upward of $200,000.
Not too shabby, and it makes O’Brien among the highest paid coaches in the Big Ten — just behind Urban Meyer and Kirk Ferentz.
But the amended deal also has a buyout clause should O’Brien depart for the NFL that is made up of only his base salary multiplied by the years left on his contract; if O’Brien were to leave for another job not with the NFL (not likely), the contract tacks on the other incentives as part of the buyout. The amount of O’Brien’s buyout will dip significantly — by about half — once he gets into 2014-15. Whether that makes a difference on the matter of him staying or going remains to be seen.
Two Power Five transfer players are officially Florida Gators.
Monday, the Gators confirmed that offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen and quarterback Malik Zaire have enrolled in classes at the university. Zaire was given his unconditional release from Notre Dame in late November and, after awaiting the SEC’s tweaking of its graduate transfer policy, confirmed his move to UF earlier this month, while Fruhmorgen left Clemson in mid-January before two months later revealing that Gainesville would serve as his next college football home.
As Zaire is coming to the Gators as a grad transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017 and is looked upon as a potential, or even likely starter under center. Fruhmorgen will have to sit out the 2017 season, but will then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.
Zaire started three games during his time with the Fighting Irish — the first in the Music City Bowl win over LSU following the 2014 season then the first two games of the 2015 season before an ankle injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He played in eight games last season as the backup to DeShone Kizer.
Fruhmorgen didn’t play another game last season after suffering a shoulder injury in late October. While the injury kept him out of a couple of games, he missed the latter quarter of the regular season, as well as the postseason, dealing with unspecified personal issues that kept him away from the team.
Prior to all of that, the true sophomore had started the first eight games of the 2016 season at right tackle.
A four-star 2015 signee, Fruhmorgen was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida. As a true freshman, the 6-5, 290-pound lineman played in 11 games, starting one of those contests.
A former Miami Hurricane wasn’t the only Power Five transfer West Virginia landed over the weekend.
On his personal Twitter account Sunday, T.J. Simmons surprised many by announcing that he would be transferring from Alabama. Not only that, but the wide receiver announced his new college football home — West Virginia.
After sitting out the 2017 season, Simmons will have three years of eligibility remaining with the Mountaineers.
A three-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2016 recruiting class, Simmons was rated as the No. 58 receiver in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama. While he played in 12 games as a true freshman, mainly on special teams, he caught six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in this year’s spring game.
In addition to Simmons, former Miami tight end Jovani Haskins announced Saturday he would be transferring to WVU as well. All told, four Power Five players have come to Morgantown this offseason — those two, plus former Syracuse defensive back Corey Winfield (HERE) and ex-Miami quarterback Jack Allison (HERE).
Meanwhile, In Tuscaloosa, Simmons has joined linebacker Shawn Jennings (HERE) and O.J. Smith (HERE) as transfers away from UA in the last month. As 247Sports.com noted, that trio of transfers gets the Tide down to 86 scholarship players, one above the 85-man limit.
The extended Eastern Carolina football family is in mourning following the passing of one of their own.
Over the weekend, Domonique Lennon was shot and killed following an incident outside of a Raleigh, NC restaurant. He was just 24 years old.
Witnesses described hearing upwards of 15 gunshots, with police arriving at 9:45 p.m. Friday night. No suspect or suspects are in custody as police continue to investigate the fatal shooting, which they believe involved more than one shooter.
It’s unknown if Lennon was the target or just caught up in the crossfire.
Lennon played defensive back for the Pirates from 2011-15. He played in 26 games his last two seasons with ECU, starting 14 of those contests in 2014.
“East Carolina University, the athletics department and Pirate football program are saddened by the tragic passing of Domonique Lennon,” a statement from the school began. “He made a positive impact on many people during his time as a student-athlete at ECU and earned the respect of both his teammates and coaches. We extend our condolences to Domonique’s family, friends and all those who knew and loved him.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help start a college fund for Lennon’s young son Landon. You can reach it by clicking HERE.
Derrius Guice may be the most underrated player in college football.
Playing in the shadow of Leonard Fournette, Guice posted an eye-popping 8.55 yards per carry (51 rushes for 436 yards) as a freshman in 2015, then kept his big-play ability as his usage increased while Fournette battled injuries in his final college season. Guice rushed 183 times for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns; his 7.58 yards per carry average was the most among Power 5 rushers with at least 180 carries.
So, yes, Guice is really good. He’s also a physical freak.
LSU captured and tweeted video Friday of Guice squatting 650 pounds, more than three times his listed 212 pounds.
If — and this is a massive, Les Miles-firing if — LSU can consistently throw the ball in 2017, go ahead and make Guice your darkhorse Heisman contender in 2017.
(HT CBS Sports)