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Ex-Houston RB Charles Sims says he will play for WVU

Charles Sims AP

Thanks largely to some severe recruiting restrictions, former Houston running back Charles Sims was reportedly looking to transfer to either Cal or West Virginia to finish out his college career. And it looks as though the Mountaineers have won the Sims Sweepstakes.

Sims told Mark Berman of Fox 26 Sports that he will transfer to WVU as a grad student and has been in Morgantown since Thursday on an official visit. He will be eligible to play immediately.

“I’m familiar with the offense and I just felt comfortable at West Virginia,” Sims said. “It feels real good to make this decision. It’s the next step in my life.”

Officially, WVU has yet to comment on the addition.

Sims announced in May that he planned on transferring from the Cougars — that coming just months after saying he would return to UH for his senior season. No reason was given for the change of heart, but UH did impose a series of restrictions on Sims that would prevent him from being released to programs in the American Athletic Conference and the state of Texas, as well as any team on Houston’s 2013 schedule. The supplemental draft was also reportedly an option for Sims.

The Mountaineers would be getting a productive back in Sims, who rushed for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns last season in nine games. Sims is also a highly regarded receiver, finishing fifth on the team in receiving with 37 catches for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

WVU struggled running the ball consistently last year, as evident by the fact that receiver Tavon Austin started getting significant carries in November against Oklahoma and finished the year second on the team in rushing yards; injuries to Shawne Alston and Dustin Garrisonwho was still coming back from an ACL tear in early 2012, played a role as well. In any case, Sims is an instant upgrade to that unit.

With Sims reportedly on board, the Mountaineers suddenly have good running back and quarterback options coming from recent transfers, as former Florida State QB Clint Trickett joined WVU in early May. The concern for the Mountaineers in 2013 has been primarily focused on the offense and replacing Austin, Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey

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Florida CB, WVU WR grazed by bullets in shooting

J.C. Jackson

Players from two different Power Five football programs were involved in the same incident earlier this weekend that could’ve resulted in tragedy but ultimately ended with what one would hope would be a significant wakeup call, WINK-TV is reporting.

According to the Fort Meyers, Fla., television station, Florida cornerback J.C. Jackson (pictured) and West Virginia wide receiver Jacky Marcellus were both grazed by bullets in a shooting that happened outside of an Immokalee, Fla., apartment building. A third individual, the brother of Marcellus, was shot in the face and is currently listed in serious condition at a local hospital.

From the TV station’s report:

Deputies say there were at least three people sitting inside a car outside of the Crestview Apartments when bullets broke through the windows.

Collier authorities say one or two men walked up to the car and fired.

After the shots were fired, the car rolled into a fire hydrant.

Both football players were able to walk away from the shooting with what were described as minor injuries.

A week ago, Florida starting quarterback Treon Harris was charged with operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license.  During the traffic stop that led to that charge, two small bags of marijuana were found in the vehicle.  Because neither Harris nor any of the passengers were the owners of the vehicle, no one was charged with possession.

One of the passengers in that incident, for what it’s worth, was Jackson. According to OnlyGators.com, “Jackson has not played for the Gators since the second week of the [2014] season as he re-aggravated a shoulder injury and had labrum surgery, sidelining him for the remainder of the campaign. He is expected to receive a medical redshirt.”

Marcellus is a redshirt freshman who has not caught a pass in 2014.  He’s still listed on WVU’s online roster.

Jackson is listed on UF’s online roster as well.

(Photo credit: Florida athletics)

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Happy Holidays, Hogs: Jonathan Williams returns for another season

Arkansas v Missouri Getty Images

In 2014, Arkansas was a two-headed monster in the running game. Looking ahead to 2015, and barring injury, it’ll be lather, rinse, repeat on the ground for the Hogs.

In what essentially amounts to a Christmas gift for the football program, UA has announced that Jonathan Williams will return to the Razorbacks for his senior season. According to the school, the running back applied for an evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board prior to making his decision.

What specific information was contained in that evaluation was not divulged.

“I am very excited to return to Arkansas for my senior season and help bring the Razorback football program back to where it belongs,” Williams said in a statement. “Coach (Bret) Bielema and Coach (Joel) Thomas have been very supportive of me and my family throughout this process.”

“My faith, family and education are very important to me and all three played a major role in my decision. I have many goals that I want to pursue, on and off the field. Graduating from the University of Arkansas is very important to me, and I look forward to running through the ‘A’ again in 2015.”

Williams ran for a team-high 1,085 yards in the 2014 regular season, while his 11 rushing touchdowns were second on the team. As teammate Alex Collins ran for 1,024 yards this season, it marked the first time in Razorback history that two players had cracked 1,000 yards in the same season.

With a pair of receiving scores, Williams’ 13 total touchdowns are tops on the team.

Entering the Dec. 29 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl matchup against Texas with 2,216 career rushing yards, Williams is currently 11th in school history. His 5.79 yards per carry is sixth all-time.

“I’m always excited for players to chase NFL dreams,” Bielema said. “For Jonathan, that meant another year of growth on and off the field and a degree to carry him through life. I’m excited to have him here for another year that will help take him to new heights.”

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TE coach to call plays for Georgia’s bowl game

John Lilly

With Georgia’s offensive coordinator taking over at Colorado State, and taking UGA’s running game-game coordinator with him as the offense’s coordinator, it was thought that head coach Mark Richt might get back into the play-calling business for the postseason.

That, as it turns out, was an incorrect thought.

According to Richt, tight ends coach John Lilly will assume Bobo’s responsibilities for the Dec. 30 Belk Bowl matchup with Louisville, including play-calling duties. This will be the first time Lilly, who has been on Richt’s UGA staff since January of 2008, will call plays in a game at any level.

It’s unclear whether Lilly will be considered as a permanent replacement for Bobo. At least for now, though, Richt isn’t focused on a coordinator search, but rather the bowl task at hand.

“When you are at Georgia there will be interest from a lot of tremendous coaches,” Richt said. “That has been the case the 14 years I’ve been at Georgia and the hundred years before I got here.”

(Photo credit: John Lilly’s Twitter account)

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Old Friend added to Mike Bobo’s Colorado State staff

Will Friend AP

As Mike Bobo embarks on his first head-coaching job, he’ll find a familiar face in place for future staff meetings.

In a press release, and confirming a couple of days worth of speculation, Colorado State announced that Bobo has hired Will Friend as his offensive coordinator. Friend, who serves as Georgia’s offensive line coach and running game coordinator, will remain at UGA through the Dec. 30 Belk Bowl against Louisville.

It had previously been confirmed that Bobo, who left his job as UGA’s offensive coordinator to take over at CSU, would not remain with the Bulldogs for their postseason game.

Friend, finishing up his fourth season in Athens, has never been a coordinator at the FBS level, and it’s unclear whether it’ll be Friend or Bobo who’ll handle the play-calling responsibilities in Fort Collins.

“We are so excited to have Will Friend and his family join our CSU family,” Bob said in a statement. “Coach Friend is an excellent teacher, motivator and recruiter who possesses all the values and principles that we are looking for at Colorado State.”

In addition to the Friend hire, Bobo announced that Marty English has been retained from the previous regime. English spent the past three seasons as the Rams’ co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

The school stated in the release that Friend’s new position has not yet been specified, although he will, obviously, work on the defensive side of the ball.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Marty English will be staying with the CSU family,” Bobo said. “He has more than 25 years of experience in the state of Colorado. Marty is very well-respected in the coaching community as an outstanding coach, recruiter and mentor to student-athletes.”

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John Harbaugh: Family not pushing brother Jim to Michigan

Jim John Harbaugh AP

As the Jim Harbaugh-to-Michigan speculation begins to pick up some modicum of steam, a high-profile relative of the current San Francisco 49ers head coach has tapped the brakes a bit on the rumor mill.

Late last week, a report surfaced that Harbaugh’s family and friends have been encouraging him to take the Michigan job.  That report came two days after a report surfaced that Michigan was prepared to offer Harbaugh a contract in the neighborhood of $8 million annually over six years. Harbaugh subsequently declined to answer when asked directly if his alma mater had offered him a contract, as did his current boss.

Wednesday, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, the UM target’s brother, attempted to pour some cold water on the smoldering flames.

“I don’t know where that came from, but it didn’t come from the Harbaughs,” he said of the report. “My dad and I both said [to Jim], don’t tell us. If something gets out, we don’t want the finger pointed at us. Leave us out of it and don’t tell us what you’re going to do.

“I think he’s just trying to figure out what the next thing is for him. And I think more than anything he’s just trying to have a great game on Sunday.”

Of course, John Harbaugh and his father, Jack, aren’t the only family members who could be doing some pushing.  It had previously been thought that Jim Harbaugh’s wife didn’t want to leave California and return to the state of Michigan; in the family & friends report, however, it was stated that “Harbaugh’s wife also is said to be open and on board to him going back to Ann Arbor if that’s what he wants.”

Harbaugh still has one year remaining on his 49ers contract, although the two sides are expected to “part ways,” either through a firing or trade to another NFL team, very shortly after the season ends this Sunday.

At some point early next week, perhaps by Tuesday, there should be some clarity in the UM coaching search.  It’s believed the university’s stiffest competition will come from the Oakland Raiders.

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Merry Christmas, one and y’all!!!

Denver Broncos v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

(As the founders of this website are West Virginia natives — and I’m still a resident of God’s Country — we are contractually obligated to include at least one “y’all” followed by a minimum of one exclamation point in any holiday greeting. We apologize for any confusion and/or angst this may have caused.)

Before diving headfirst into today’s festivities, I just wanted to copy & paste last year’s post drop in and wish a sincere and heartfelt “Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Exhilarating Kwanzaa!” from all of us here at CFT to all of you who happen to stop by on this most special of days.

Needless to say, I’ll be in and out and in and out throughout the day, hopping onto the laptops and/or desktops and/or tablets and/or smartphones when events warrant. And my wife allows it.  And if my kids don’t disown me for working instead of playing with them and/or cobbling together their presents.

So, with that out of the way, it’s now off to a day filled with family, giving & receiving, a few (too many) holiday ales and dealing with those damned twist-tie thingies that are surgically wrapped around almost every crucial square inch of every toy produced these days, and whose inventor(s) should be kicked square in his jingle bells without discretion for what he’s wrought on parents the world over.

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In bowl loss to Rice, Fresno State pulls a postseason UCLA

Heading into the 2014 Hawaii Bowl, Fresno State was looking and/or hoping to avoid the ignominy of an eighth loss in a season in which they were bowl-eligible. Unfortunately, they collided head-first into said ignominy.

On the strength of a surprisingly effective passing attack, Rice jumped out to a 16-6 halftime lead on Fresno en route to a 30-6 win in the 13th annual Hawaii Bowl. The victory marked the Owls’ second in the last three postseasons.

Entering the game on the islands, Rice was 71st in the country in passing yards per game at 223.6; Driphus Jackson passed for 318 yards in the win, a total he surpassed just once this season (337 in the regular-season finale against Louisiana Tech). Jackson also tossed three touchdown passes, the third time this season the junior passed for three or more scores in a single game.

For his efforts, Jackson was named the Player of the Game.

Not to be outshone by Jackson’s prolific passing, though, the Owls’ defense played a significant role in the win as well.

Fresno State came into the postseason averaging 412 yards of total offense per game; against Rice, FSU was only able to muster 256. Included in that total was just 93 yards passing.

With the loss, Fresno State becomes the only team other than the 2011 UCLA Bruins to finish an FBS season with a 6-8 record. The only other teams to enter a bowl game with a losing record were North Texas at 5-6 in 2001 and Georgia Tech at 6-7 in 2012.  The latter won its game to get to .500, while UNT lost the first of four straight New Orleans Bowl appearances to finish at 5-7.

To add insult to won-loss injury, the Bulldogs have also lost six straight bowl games, with the football program’s last postseason win coming in the 2007 Humanitarian Bowl.

One final note of interest: Fresno State had one penalty for 15 yards, while Rice was flagged 12 times for 100 yards. Do with that nugget as you will.

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If Buckeyes win national title, furniture stores will pay for purchases

Urban Meyer

If the Ohio State Buckeyes win the first College Football Playoff national championship, some lucky furniture shopper sin Ohio are going to get some free furniture. But there’s a catch. Ohio State needs to win the national championship game by seven points or more.

Participating Morris Home Furniture Store and Ashley’s Furniture Home Store locations in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton will refund all the money paid by consumers on purchases of $1,999 or more on furniture, mattresses or accessories, according to The Dayton Daily News. That would require Ohio State to first beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, one of the two national semifinals in the College Football Playoff. Then, Ohio State would have to beat either Oregon or Florida State in the national championship game by seven points or more. Those hoping to cash in on the sweet deal on new furniture have to make their purchases by December 30 at 7 p.m.

Oregon and Florida State play in the other national semifinal in the Rose Bowl. The winners of the semifinal match-ups square off in Arlington for the national championship game.

We have seen these kinds of deals before, so this is hardly anything new. But it is a great incentive to do some post-holiday furniture shopping for hardcore Buckeyes fans.

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Santa gives Western Michigan player a scholarship (video)

This is a couple of days old, but once again this stuff never gets old.

During a recent team meeting at Western Michigan, head coach P.J. Fleck was interrupted by Santa Claus, who handed a present over to the head coach of the Broncos before leaving the room. Fleck handed the present to walk-on linebacker Grant DePalma, who opened it up for one of the best presents a walk-on football player can receive this time of year; a scholarship.

If you cannot get enough of this sort of thing, check out a similar video showing Alex Ellis of Tennessee getting a similar surprise.

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Ohio State TE compares Michigan State to Christmas Eve grocery shopping

Jeff Heuerman

You might think that Christmas is a time when battle lines and rivalries can be put aside, but if George Washington felt it was a good enough time as any to sneak up on the British troops, then nobody should fault Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman for taking a jab at Michigan State. Right?

Apparently, Heuerman made the mistake of going out to the grocery store on Christmas Eve. That can be quite the hassle for those without patience. But Heuerman is tough, and he can handle it. He also felt like it was a good time to make a comparison to Big Ten East Division rival Michigan State that could have easily been misinterpreted, which it was.

There is nothing wrong with a little trash talk, but Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook did not take too kindly to the comparison. Thinking it was a slight on Michigan State, Cook responded with a tweet that was later deleted after Heuerman clarified he was actually praising the physicality of the Spartans.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good Twitter fight!

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ACC reportedly to send Boston College and Georgia Tech to 2016 Croke Park Classic

Tyler Murphy

ACC commissioner John Swofford once flirted with the idea of taking ACC football across the Atlantic Ocean, and it appears it will become a reality. Boston College and Georgia Tech will reportedly participate in the 2016 Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland.

Eurosport.com reports the two ACC schools have a deal in place to participate in the 2016 edition of the Croke Park Classic, although when that game is played has yet to be finalized. According to the report, the game may move later in the season rather than to serve as a season opener. If the game remains a part of the ACC football schedule in 2016, then an October trans-Atlantic conference game could be in play.

Penn State and UCF played in the 2014 season-opening Croke Park Classic. The game drew a crowd of 53,304, a record for most fans in an American football game in Ireland. Boston College previously played in Ireland in 1988, defeating Army 38-24 in the Emerald Isle Classic.

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CMU’s furious rally falls short as WKU claims first bowl win

UAB v Western Kentucky Getty Images

Entering the fourth quarter with a seemingly comfortable 49-14 lead, Western Kentucky appeared to be on the verge of winning the football program’s first-ever bowl game.  15 minutes of game time later?  Wow.  Just, wow.

Central Michigan scored a whopping five touchdowns in the final frame, including a multiple-lateral one with no time remaining on the clock, to pull to within one point.  An extra point would’ve improbably sent the game into overtime; much to head coach Dan Enos‘ credit, he got his full Tom Osborne on and eschewed the PAT in favor of a two-point conversion.

The Cooper Rush pass into the end zone was knocked away, however, giving the Hilltoppers a thrilling 49-48 win in the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.  But that touchdown leading up to the to the failed two-point try, the Hail Mary Hook-And-Lateralis one for the postseason history books.

 

While that was the play of the young bowl season thus far, and while Rush set an all-time bowl record with seven touchdown passes, breaking the mark of six previously held by Washington State’s Connor Halliday (2013 New Mexico Bowl), West Virginia’s Geno Smith (2012 Orange Bowl) and Iowa’s Chuck Long (1984 Freedom Bowl), it was Brandon Doughty who was named the Player of the Game.

The nation’s leading passer entering the game, Doughty passed for 486 yards and five touchdowns.  350 of those yards and all five scoring tosses came in the first half as the high-powered WKU offense hit the snooze button in the second half.

This game marks the fourth times this season Doughty has passed for 400-plus yards.  The fifth-year senior passed for 300 or more yards in 10 of WKU’s 13 games this season, and will finish 2014 with 4,830 passing yards.  Over the past three games, Doughty has thrown 18 touchdown passes, including eight in the regular-season finale against eventual Conference USA champion Marshall.

In that frenetic fourth quarter, though, Doughty and the Hilltopper offense went stagnant as they punted three times and fumbled once.  At the same time, CMU scored touchdowns on all five of its fourth-quarter possessions.

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FSU RB Dalvin Cook ‘listed as an associate’ in assault case

Dalvin Cook AP

After being on the receiving end of a copious amount of good news the past couple of days, Florida State, a week ahead of its College Football Playoff semifinal matchup with Oregon, has seen some not-so-good news.

According to a statement released by the Tallahassee Police Department Wednesday afternoon, a reporter from ESPN filed an open records request in September seeking any police records for 360 FSU student-athletes, including football players. A total of 300 police reports were returned to the reporter, with “[t]he records [including] reports in which the names of athletes were listed as either a witness, victim, suspect or reporting party,” the statement read.

There was only one Seminole football player mentioned by name: running back Dalvin Cook. Here’s the relevant Cook passage from the TPD release:

While several of the reports requested involve open and active cases, one of note, involves an aggravated assault by two men who are alleged to have brandished a firearm at a neighbor on July 17th, 2014. Dalvin Cook, a current FSU football player is listed as an associate in the case. The case is under investigation and once complete, it will be provided as an update to this release.

There was also the following, as noted by the Tallahassee Democrat.

One sexual assault case involving an FSU football player had a piece of evidence that was not immediately processed. The piece of evidence ultimately had no impact on the case, Northway said. The case was subsequently reclosed. No charges were filed after TPD consulted with the State Attorney’s Office.

FSU has not commented on the TPD release, and it’s unknown what if any impact this revelation may have on Cook’s availability for the upcoming playoffs, although the correct answer is likely “none.”  Cook, a true freshman, currently leads the Seminoles with 905 yards rushing.

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Pat Narduzzi to be introduced as Pitt’s new head coach Friday

Pat Narduzzi AP

Exactly one week after officially losing its head coach to Wisconsin, Pittsburgh is set to officially introduce his replacement.

While the school has not yet confirmed it, ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad reported earlier Wednesday that Pitt and Pat Narduzzi have finalized a deal that would make the Michigan State defensive coordinator the Panthers’ new head coach.  The school did announce a short time ago that it will conduct a 3:30 p.m. ET press conference Friday to “address its head football coaching vacancy.”

It was reported Tuesday that Narduzzi had emerged as Pitt’s top target to replace Paul Chryst.

Narduzzi has spent the past 11 seasons on Mark Dantonio-led coaching staffs, three coming at Cincinnati (2004-06) and eight at Michigan State (2007-present).  This will be Narduzzi’s first head-coaching job at the FBS level.

Additionally, Narduzzi would become the first current defensive coordinator to land a head-coaching job during the current spinning of the coaching carousel.

Of the 12 coaching hires made at the FBS level in 2014, five have been current FBS coordinators while a wide receivers coach (David Beaty, Kansas) landed a sixth.  Four others were current FBS head coaches, and the other two were head coaches at Div. III (Lance Leipold, Buffalo) and high school programs (Tony Sanchez, UNLV).

Once Pittsburgh makes Narduzzi’s hiring official, Michigan will be the lone remaining FBS program without a head coach.

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Gators officially hire Doug Nussmeier as OC

Indiana v Michigan

Less than 24 hours after it was reported as a very likely possibility, a key hiring for Jim McElwain‘s first Florida coaching staff has officially come to fruition.

In a press release Wednesday, UF announced that McElwain has hired Doug Nussmeier as his offensive coordinator.  Nussmeier, who will also serve as quarterbacks coach, spent the 2014 season as the coordinator at Michigan.

McElwain and Nussmeier are very familiar with one another, having worked together on the same coaching staff at Michigan State from 2003-05.  Twice, Nussmeier has replaced McElwain as offensive coordinator, first when McElwain left Fresno State to become the coordinator at Alabama in 2008 and then again when McElwain left Alabama for the head coaching job at Colorado State in December of 2011.

Nussmeier was the coordinator at Alabama in 2012 and 2013 before leaving for the same job at Michigan in January of this season.

“Doug and I have worked together on the same staff and I’ve known him for years,” McElwain said in a statement. “We are like thinkers in that he will adapt to the players we have in the program and develop them as we continue to evolve.”

During his lone season in Ann Arbor, Nussmeier’s offense struggled due to a combination of poor quarterback play and a shaky offensive line.

In 2014, the Wolverines finished 114th in yards per game (333) and 111th in points per game (20.9).  During his two seasons at Alabama, though, the Tide finished 18th (38.2 ppg, 2013) and 12th (38.7 ppg) in scoring offense.

“I’m excited to reunite with Coach Mac — we obviously have a long history and share similar philosophies,” Nussmeier said. “I’m honored to join The Gator Nation and work for one of the most storied programs in all of college football.”

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