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The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

Georgia v Clemson Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

And, yes I’m well aware of the fact that there are still games left to be played. Sorry, fans of Louisville, Florida State, et al…

WINNERS

Tajh throws Braxton a stiff-arm
Braxton Miller may have entered the season as the favorite to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy, but Tajh Boyd showed he will likely be a (big) part of the discussion all the way into December. In Clemson’s impressive 38-35 win over Georgia Saturday night, Boyd accounted for all five of the Tigers’ touchdown — three passing, two rushing. On a team level, it was one of the biggest wins of Dabo Swinney‘s tenure. On a personal level, it was Boyd shining on a national stage against a very, very, very good football team in the Bulldogs and a coming-out party for a player who, at least as far as this corner is concerned, doesn’t get the respect he deserves. After that virtuoso performance, there’s no longer an excuse for any lack of respect.

Moneybadger don’t give a %$#! either
All hail the new troll god!!! Love him or hate him, Johnny Manziel makes college football a better — and immensely more interesting — game when he’s part of it. While he wasn’t a part of it in the first-half thanks to a suspension, he returned in the second half of Texas A&M’s win over Rice, and not once but twice trolled the NCAA overlords over his recent off-field “issues.” In the first instance, Manziel seemed to indicate a Rice defender would not be getting the reigning Heisman winner’s Herbie Hancock anytime soon…

Manziel Signing GIF

 

… then seemed to make a money gesture to the sky following his first touchdown pass of the season…

Manziel Money GIF

 

Manziel, of course, was investigated by the NCAA after it was alleged that he was paid tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for his signature on photos, memorabilia, etc.

Don’t change, JFF. Don’t ever change. Well, mostly don’t change (see a little further below).

No Bret, no problem
There were some people — myself included — who felt that Wisconsin wouldn’t be the old Wisconsin we’ve become accustomed to in the first year of the post-Bret Bielema era in Madison. While that may or may not ultimately be the case, the Badgers put on one helluva ground show in the first game of the Gary Andersen era. UW had a trio of running backs — James White (11-143), Melvin Gordon (13-144), Corey Clement (16-101) — who each rushed for more than 100 yards, just the third time in school history that’s happened. Clement, incidentally, became the first true freshman at UW since P.J. Hill in 2006 to top 100 yards in his first game as a Badger. Yes, the opposition was “just” UMass, but Andersen and his Badgers showed that anyone who sleeps on UW does so at their own peril.

Butch JonesThank you, Lord
How thankful is the Tennessee fan base that Derek Dooley is no longer their head football coach? So thankful that they are offering up hallelujahs to the Big College Football Fan Upstairs for it. Literally. “Pregame prayer in Neyland [Stadium] thanked God for a new coach,” a tweet from govols247.com‘s Wes Rucker read. Butch Jones then proceeded to reward that faith as the Vols pounded overmatched Austin Peay 45-0. Yes, it was just a win over an FCS school, but it was also the Vols’ largest margin of victory since a 50-0 win over Tennessee-Martin in 2010 — the first game under Dooley, so maybe that’s not as good of omen upon further review. Still, it was a much-needed win for the fans on Rocky Top, one they will gladly take after three years of misery.

Right in his Scheelhaase
Normally when Illinois is mentioned in the Fifth Quarter, it’s part of the section right below this one. Not today, though. All Illini starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase did was throw for a career-high 416 yards — 340 in the first half — and two touchdowns in the 42-34 win over Southern Illinois. The win was satisfying for Scheelhaase personally as the quarterback has fought back from an injury-plagued 2012 season. It was also a critical one for the program. Even as the win was over an FCS opponent, it was a critical one as second-year head coach Tim Beckman has come under fire for a two-win 2012 season, with some saying this is a make-or-break season for the coach.

All hail your FCS conquerors

Scheduled as a guaranteed “W” in exchange for high six-figure or even low seven-figure payouts, most FBS teams feast on a steady early-season diet of FCS foes. Not in Week One, not this year. All told, a whopping eight FBS teams went down in flames over the past three days: No. 25 Oregon State (Eastern Washington), Kansas State (North Dakota State), San Diego State (Eastern Illinois; UConn (Towson), USF (McNeese State), Iowa State (Northern Iowa), South Alabama (Southern Utah) and Georgia State (Samford). We’ll let the latter two slide somewhat as they have just climbed from the FCS level to FBS status recently. The others? There’s no excuse for USF to lose by 32 points or San Diego State by 21. There’s no reason a ranked team like Oregon State should lose to a lower-level team, regardless of how good they are at that level. K-State? C’mon, I understand that NDSU is an FBS slayer, but there should still be no excuses in Little Manhattan. That said, and as was shown this weekend, there are some quality programs at that level. Schedule some of the upper-echelon teams at your own peril. And potential embarrassment.

Villanova, the Harlem Globetrotters of the FCS level
Villanova may not have been one of the FCS teams to pull off an upset, but they did have one of the plays of the year thus far. Facing a fourth down in their game against Boston College, ‘Nova lined up in punt formation… and proceeded to perform the ol’ double-snap fake-punt trick to score a touchdown. And, yes, it was as real and as spectacular as it sounds:

Villanova

 

49ers strike winning gold quickly
Since we’re on an FCS roll, let’s turn our attention to the Eastern part of the United States. In 2008, UNC-Charlotte announced that it would, for the first time ever, field a football team. Five years later, the 49ers made their debut… and it was smashing, with the 49ers putting a 52-7 woodshedding on visiting Campbell. The 49ers nearly doubled the opposition’s offensive production — 488 to 287 — and rolled to a 35-7 halftime lead. While an FCS team at the moment, the 49ers will move to the FBS level in 2015 as a member of Conference USA. While there may be many bumps in the road ahead, congratulations to head coach Brad Lambert and his coaching staff on such a scintillating start to the program.

LOSERS

Johnny Screwball?
As much as I really, really enjoy Johnny Manziel, the on-field preening and self-aggrandizing that costs his team needs to stop. And that comes from his head coach as well. In addition to his creative ways of taunting the NCAA noted above, Manziel was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct following his third touchdown pass of the second half, costing the Aggies 15 yards. He was removed from the game and didn’t return. “That was just a foolish penalty at the end. … I hoped that at this point he’d have learned something,” Kevin Sumlin said afterwards. “That wasn’t very smart. That’s why he wasn’t going back in the game, no matter what happened.” A&M declined to make Manziel available to the media following the win, likely a wise decision based on the fact that Manziel appeared to take out a whole offseason of frustration in his limited time on the field Saturday.

An offensive line, literallyAlabama head coach Saban questions a call from the referee in the second half of play against Virginia Tech at the Chick-fil-A  Kick-Off college NCAA football game in Atlanta
Having to replace three talented and veteran starters, it was a given that Alabama’s offensive line might take some time to gel as a unit. The fact that the Tide’s interior struggled as much as it did against a battered and beleaguered Virginia Tech squad, though, was surprising to say the least. In the first half, the Tide carried the ball 17 times — and gained just 30 yards. Toss in a pair of holding penalties and one sack of quarterback AJ McCarron, and it was a far from stellar effort from the line. For the game, the Tide rushed for just 96 yards on 38 carries, a paltry average of 2.5 yards per carry in the 35-10 win; last season, Alabama’s 5.6 ypc was tied for fourth in the country. It’s not a time to panic, but it is a little worrisome for Nick Saban and his offensive coaching staff with a road trip to College Station looming in a couple of weeks.

TC… you blew it
OK, maybe that’s a little strong, but why would Gary Patterson decide to punt the ball back to LSU, down 10, instead of trying to convert a fourth-and-2 with five minutes left? Yes, TCU was at its own 33-yard line, but when you’re down two scores you need to take the chance; miss it, game over. Punt it, game over. Go for it and make it, you still have life and plenty of time to extend the game and find some way to get the requisite two scores to either tie or win the game. As it played out, TCU simply couldn’t stop LSU post-punt as the Tigers put together three first downs in the final five minutes to seal a 37-27 win. A head-scratching end to what was a very good football game and a huge win for the Tigers, who very well could’ve just beaten the best the Big 12 has to offer.

Boy oh Boise
This very easily could’ve gone in the Winners section for Washington… but it won’t. Coming into the game ranked No. 19 in the country, Boise State proceeded to trip, stumble and bumble all over its junk in getting blown out by the Huskies 38-6. It was the Broncos’ largest margin of defeat since the first game of the 2005 season (48-13 to Georgia) and the fewest points scored since being shutout by another Pac-12 school (Washington State) in 1997. It was also just the third time since that Wazzu whitewash that the Broncos failed to reach double digits (2005, Fresno State; 2012, BYU). So, certainly, it was an epic beatdown for The Lil’ Program That Could, even as it came at the hands of a very focused and talented Huskies squad.

FCS foe hard on the Beaver
While we touched on this briefly up above, Oregon State deserves its own special calling out. In the Beavers’ embarrassing 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington, OSU became just the fourth ranked team ever to lose to an FCS team, joining Virginia Tech (James Madison, 2010), Michigan (2007) and Penn State (Cincinnati, 1983). Expected to possess a vastly improved defense, the Beavers surrendered an astounding 625 yards of total offense — 448 passing, 177 rushing. The Beavers can’t even blame turnovers as neither team coughed up the ball via either a fumble or an interception. No, this was simply an FBS team being outplayed at home by a squad from a lower level of football. And, whatever grief comes their way, it will be well-deserved.

Stoops, there it ain’t
Since being hired as Kentucky’s new head coach, Mark Stoops has made several big splashes along the recruiting trail. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, those splashes have yet to make an impact in the here and now. In Stoops’ head-coaching debut, the Wildcats traveled to in-state “rival” Western Kentucky and dropped a 35-26 decision to the Hilltoppers. And, in reality, the game wasn’t even that close as WKU held an 18-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Eventually, the hiring of Stoops will pay big dividends on the field; for now, people around the country will simply lament the same ol’ UK football woes.

Kirk Ferentz, Money Fleecer Extraordinaire
This season, Kirk Ferentz will make nearly $4 million as Iowa’s head coach. He has a contract that runs through the 2020 season and would cost the university tens of millions to buy him out of. The past three seasons, the Hawkeyes win total has gone from eight to seven to four in 2012, the lowest number for a Ferentz-coached team since his second season in 2000 (3-9). So, with the heat rising from the outside, what do the Hawkeyes do? Go out and lose the opener at home to Northern Illinois on a last-second field goal, of course. Don’t fret for Ferentz, however; he possesses the type of job security that 99 percent of coaches can only dream of. Whether he deserves that type of security, though, is another matter entirely.

First-year head coaches
Just barely, new head coaches at their respective schools fall into this category. During the offseason, there were 31 coaching changes; through the first three days, 29 have already made their debuts, with 15 of them coming out sans a “W”: Cal, FIU, Georgia State, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, Purdue, USF, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Temple, Utah State and Western Michigan. Of course, that also means 14 came out with the coveted “W”: Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, Boston College, Cincinnati, Kent State, North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, Oregon, San Jose State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Western Kentucky and Wisconsin. Both Kentucky (WKU) and Louisiana Tech (NCSU) lost to teams in its first season under a new head coach. Colorado and UTEP can add to either side in the coming days, with the former opening the season against hated rival Colorado while the latter must wait until next weekend to open its season.

Oh, Pelini
With FAU trailing Miami 34-6 Friday and with just seconds left in the game, the Owls were facing a fourth-and-four at the Miami 25-yard line. At that point, FAU head coach Carl Pelini did, well, this:

 

[/facepalm]

Yes, Pelini called for his quarterback to spike the ball on fourth down. And, yes, Pelini was mortified upon realizing that he had called for a spike on fourth down. And, no, the gaffe had no impact on the game whatsoever, but it did add some embarrassment to a program that could use less of that, not more.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

— No. 18 Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34: Last year, the Cowboys were ranked 70th in the country in total offense (390.6 yards per game); Saturday, the Cornhuskers allowed the Cowboys to roll up 602 yards. The Huskers led this one by 16 early in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys scored a pair of touchdowns — off NU turnovers — in less than five minutes, the final coming with 1:32 left. A failed onside kick, however, kept Nebraska from suffering its first season-opening loss in 29 years.

— No. 22 Northwestern 44, Cal 30: The Wildcats didn’t grab the lead for good until the middle of the fourth quarter against a surprisingly spry Bears team playing its first game under head coach Sonny Dykes. The closeness of the contest should catch the eye of Ohio State, which travels to Berkeley two weeks from yesterday.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — The two-time defending BCS champions looked positively subpar on offense but, thanks to stellar defense and special teams, easily held off an injury-ravaged Virginia Tech. Especially along the offensive line, The Tide has some issues that need shoring up prior to the Sept. 14 road trip to College Station. (Preseason: No. 1)
Next up: bye weekend

2. Clemson — You beat a Top-Five opponent, you shoot up quite a few spots. Is this the year that Clemson (finally) stops Clemsoning itself? The win over Georgia was a solid sign it may indeed be. Or they stub their toes against The Citadel. One of the two. (Preseason: No. 8)
Next up: vs. South Carolina State

Buffalo v Ohio State3. Ohio State — A rather uninspiring 20-point win over Buffalo and Clemson’s showing drops the Buckeyes down a spot. (Preseason: No. 2)
Next up: vs. San Diego State

4. Stanford — The Cardinal sat out opening weekend and won’t open their 2013 season until next Saturday. (Preseason ranking: No. 3)
Next up: vs. San Jose State

5. Louisville — The Cardinals don’t open their season until later on today against Ohio at home. While Mark Ennis might punch me in the tentacles for doing so, I’m just going to go ahead and chalk this one up as an impressive “W” for Charlie Strong‘s charges. (Preseason: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Eastern Kentucky

HE SAID IT
“I was overcome with emotion. I think my son made me soft. I bawled my eyes out.” — Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, whose infant son was released from the hospital two days before the opener Thursday after spending the first three weeks of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“That’s how he is. He’s a fiery guy and that’s what we love about him. He’s not quiet. He’s not shy. He’s going to be loud and aggressive, and that’s what makes him Johnny Football. We love it.” — A&M offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi, on the ongoing circus that is Johnny Manziel.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I don’t care how quick the offense scores. They could score on one play every time. As long as they’re scoring, I’m all for that.” — Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, on the Buckeyes’ up-tempo offense.

YOU DON’T SAY?
Courtesy of the Ohio State sports information department: With 77 rushing yards, Braxton Miller eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark in his career and now sits at 2,063. He is now 17 yards shy of Cornelius Greene’s Ohio State record of 2,080 yards rushing by a quarterback.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— Clemson became the first non-SEC team ever to beat two Top-10 SEC teams in consecutive games, with the wins coming over No. 5 Georgia Saturday night and No. 8 LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last New Year’s Eve.

— Northwestern linebacker Collin Lewis returned two interceptions for touchdowns (52, 40 yards) in the road win over Cal. Both of the pick-sixes came off deflections.

— Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams accounted for 518 yards of total offense (411 passing, 107 rushing) and six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) in the upset of Oregon State.

— McNeese State’s 53-21 win over USF was the largest margin of victory for an FCS program over an FBS program since Sam Houston State beat Louisiana-Monroe 44-12 back in 2001.

— In a wild 52-51 win over Rutgers Thursday night, Fresno State’s Derek Carr completed 52-of-73 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns. His counterpart in that game, Gary Nova, threw for 348 yards and five touchdowns as well.

Virginia Tech v Alabama– Alabama’s Christion Jones became the first player at the FBS level since North Carolina’s Brandon Tate in 2006 to return both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same game. According to the Alabama record books, which date back to 1944 the school stated, Jones is the first player in program history to accomplish that feat.

— Starting in place of ex-/future Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Tommy Rees passed for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the Irish’s 28-6 win over Temple.

— In Marshall’s 52-14 win over Miami (Ohio), quarterback Rakeem Cato tossed five touchdown passes to four different receivers.

— SID Stat of the Day: Wisconsin has now won 16 consecutive season openers. That is tied with USC for the third-longest active streak in the country behind only Nebraska (28) and Florida (24).

— (First half) Johnny Manziel-less Texas A&M had its streak of scoring first in 17 straight games snapped in the win against Rice.

— In its first game with Bret Bielema on the sidelines, Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers in the same game (Jonathan Williams 151, Alex Collins 131) for the first time since 2007, when Darren McFadden rushed for 321 yards and Felix Jones rushed for 163 vs. South Carolina.

— Baylor outgained Wofford 692-233 in the Bears’ 69-3 win. Running back Lache Seastrunk rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries.

— Maryland had 399 yards of total offense in the first half of their game with FIU. Last season, the Terps accounted for 400 yards or more of total offense in just two of their games.

Duke Johnson rushed for a career-high 189 yards — on just 19 carries — in Miami’s 28-point win over FAU. Miami rushed for 303 yards as a team; the Hurricanes high-water mark last season was 248.

— Speaking of Duke, the Blue Devils posted the football program’s first shutout in 24 years with its 45-0 win over North Carolina Central.

Blake Bortles passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns in UCF’s 38-7 win over Akron Thursday.

— The 73 points Indiana scored in Thursday’s win over Indiana State was the second-most in school history (76). The 45 first-half points were the most ever for the program.

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Gamecocks offer scholarship to Atlanta-area eighth-grader

Chris Hansen

Hey, if it’s good enough for Nick Saban, Les Miles, Jim Mora and, especially, Lane Kiffin, along with a handful of other FBS head coaches, it’s good enough for the Ol’ Ball Coach.

Continuing a trend in college football that was seemingly patented by Kiffin around 2010 — and Bobby Knight in college basketball two decades before — the stepfather of Dominick Blaylock confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his stepson was offered a scholarship by South Carolina after he attended a Junior Day event at the school Saturday. What makes the offer to Blaylock, the son of former NBA All-Star Mookie Blaylock, is that he’s a 14-year-old eighth-grader from the Atlanta area.

Blaylock himself told the Journal-Constitution he was “shocked that when I met the coaches, they went straight to the point with the offer.” And, according to the stepfather, this wasn’t just some whimsical move on the part of the Gamecocks — and that he thinks this is the first offer domino that will tumble in the coming weeks for his 5-11, 165-pound stepson.

“They said this was a firm offer, and they felt like it was important that South Carolina was Dominick’s first offer,” John Woods told the paper.

“I am happy for Dominick. I know there are more eighth-graders getting offered now. It seems like it’s happening with more eighth-graders every year. Dominick got invited to five Junior Days, so I think other offers are coming.”

As creepy as it is FBS programs scoping out kids still in middle school — Blaylock will be a Class of 2019 signee — the Gamecocks, as the stepdad alluded to, certainly aren’t alone in this trend.  And they aren’t alone amongst SEC teams with this specific recruiting interest as the AJC notes that Blaylock has also been invited to visit Florida, Auburn and Alabama this spring.

But this trend goes back much further than just Blaylock.

In February of 2010, Kiffin, then the head coach at USC, offered seventh-grade — seventh!!! — quarterback phenom David Sills a scholarship. Somewhat surprisingly, Sills remained a Trojan commit even through Kiffin’s firing in September of 2013, even attending quarterbacks meetings with coaches at one point, although he ultimately ended up decommitting from USC in June of last year and signing with West Virginia in February of this year.

Kiffin was also involved in a middle-school tug-of-war with cross-town rival UCLA in June of 2013, with both the Trojans and the Bruins offering to California middle schooler and Class of 2017 recruit Nathan Tilford. Both Alabama and LSU, among others, offered 14-year-old 2017 recruit Dylan Moses back in July of 2012 and February of 2013, respectively.

Some of the more recent examples of this (my words) disturbingly upward trend include LSU accepting a commitment from then 14-year-old eighth-grade quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann last year and Florida offering eighth-grader Blake Hinson earlier this month.

And somewhere, even though he’s still alive, Chris Hansen is rolling over in his grave…

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After another arrest, Alabama gives Jonathan Taylor the boot

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

Not so unexpectedly, Alabama’s roster is a little lighter this Sunday afternoon.

In a statement sent out by the school just a short time ago, head coach Nick Saban announced that Jonathan Taylor has been dismissed from his football program.  Taylor was arrested Saturday evening on domestic violence charges.

The defensive lineman was dismissed by Georgia last July after he was arrested on similar charges.

“Jonathan Taylor has been dismissed from the team and is no longer a part of our program,” Saban’s statement began. “This will still need to go through the legal process, but when he was given an opportunity here, it was under strict guidelines and we made it clear there was a zero tolerance policy.”

It was the right move by Saban and, really, the only move he could’ve made.  The fact that he did it so swiftly, though, should not be overlooked — while Saban’s a man all in favor of second chances, don’t screw him over and embarrass him when you’re given what at the time was considered a controversial opportunity.

Taylor did just that, and paid the price for putting his hands on a woman again.  Allegedly.

There’s still no word on the fate of cornerback Geno Smith, who was arrested late Friday night for the second time in less than two years on a drunk-driving charge.

UPDATED 3:03 p.m. ET: Shortly after Taylor’s dismissal was announced, UA athletic director Bill Battle released the following statement:

Representing this University is a privilege that none of us can take for granted. As I noted in my comments when the decision was made to allow Jonathan Taylor to attend the University on a football scholarship, I believe in second chances. I still do. However, being successful in that second chance requires responsibility and accountability. In Jonathan’s situation, the University and the Department of Athletics set forth very clear standards of accountability and expectations of conduct. Jonathan was afforded a chance to successfully overcome the difficulties that resulted in his departure from the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, it appears that he was unable to do so, in spite of extensive efforts to assist him. All of us hope that Jonathan and the young lady involved can deal constructively with the issues that led to this situation, and their aftermath, so that both of them can have productive, healthy futures. Violent conduct by any representative of the University of Alabama athletics department will not be tolerated. More than ever, we take seriously the responsibility that all of us have to represent our University and our state in the best way possible – in competition and in daily life.

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Bama issues statement as details of Jonathan Taylor’s arrest emerge

Gator Bowl Football AP

Based on the details of Jonathan Taylor‘s domestic violence arrest — his second in eight months, no less — there’s seemingly no way he can move forward as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Saturday evening, the alleged victim, a 24-year-old female, told Tuscaloosa police officers responding to a call near the UA campus that she had been assaulted by Taylor, her boyfriend.  The incident report described the woman as having minor injuries around her neck; the officers also observed a bedroom closet door in the alleged victim’s residence with a hole punched through it.

ESPN.com writes that “officers located the suspect at the victim’s residence and spoke to him about the incident” and “found probable cause to arrest the suspect.” The defensive tackle was charged with domestic violence/assault and domestic violence/criminal mischief.

Taylor had been dismissed from Georgia last July following the initial domestic violence incident. In that case, which is still pending, the 6-4, 335-pound Taylor is accused of choking his then-girlfriend — a different female from the most recent incident — and striking her in the face with an open fist. Taylor has now been arrested three times in a little over a year, the other being theft by deception charges last March while he was still at UGA.

The decision by Nick Saban and UA to sign Taylor this past January was controversial; this latest incident has stirred up the local media natives yet again.  From al.com‘s Kevin Scarbinsky:

Saban has been especially passionate on the subject of second chances, and his heart may be in the right place, but too many Alabama football players manage to be good students and good citizens as well as good athletes to have their program’s reputation put at risk.

Taylor looked like a risk from the start. Now he looks like one of Saban’s and Alabama’s biggest mistakes.

In response to the situation, the university released a very brief statement early Sunday morning that’s scant on details as to Taylor’s future with the university in general and the football program specifically: “UA is aware of the incident. The student has been referred to judicial affairs.”

It would be very surprising if another statement wasn’t released at some point in the very near future, perhaps as early as today, in which Second-Chance Saban announces that Taylor is no longer a part of his football program.  At least, based on the current evidence and Taylor’s prior track record, that’s what should happen, and the sooner the better for the sake of a head coach’s and university’s image that has already taken a hit because of the player’s actions — and because of the way his signing was so staunchly defended at the time.

“We recruited this young man out of high school, and we felt that from what we knew about him, what his high school coach said, what the people at the school that he was at said about him, and where he came from in junior college, that he was the kind of guy that deserved a second chance,” Saban said on National Signing Day this past February. “But with that chance, we also have stipulations of things that he needs to do from a personal development standpoint so that he won’t make any kind of mistake like this ever again.

“That’s an ongoing process with him, and that’s something that we continue to monitor, and he has done a very good job with.”

“All of us in the University community have a role in helping student-athletes reach their potential – in competition, in the classroom and in life,” UA athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement at the time of the January signing. “It’s important to note that the young man will become a part of our program after going through an extensive process conducted by the University.

“As one of our state’s most high-profile entities, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to the University, our student-athletes, our community and our state.”

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Suspended Michigan lineman Graham Glasgow back at practice?

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar AP

It appears that Graham Glasgow may be rather expeditiously climbing out of Jim Harbaugh‘s doghouse.

In July of 2014, Glasgow was sentenced in connection to a drunk-driving charge from March.  As part of that sentence, he was placed on 12 months probation, with one of the stipulations being that he couldn’t consume alcohol.  Earlier this month, however, the offensive lineman violated said probation by blowing a .086 on a Breathalyzer test, which triggered a suspension from the football program that was announced March 16.

Less than two weeks later, it looks as if Glasgow is back to practicing with his teammates.  Or, at the very least, dressing for practice.

From the Twitter account of UM director of player development Gwendolyn Bush (aka the mother of Stanford transfer Wayne Lyons):

In the background is a No. 61.  Glasgow wears No. 61, and is the only player with that number listed on the Wolverines’ online roster.  So, unless another player borrowed the jersey, Glasgow is back on the practice field.

What this means is unclear as mlive.com writes that “[a] Michigan official has not responded to a request for comment, and it is not known if Glasgow’s suspension is officially over or not.” In the immediate aftermath of Glasgow’s OVI arrest last March, he was suspended indefinitely by then-head coach Brady Hoke before being allowed to return to practice a week later. He was, though, suspended for the 2014 opener.

According to the Detroit Free Press, and because of his recent probation violation, Glasgow “will have six more months of probation past his original July 2015 end date, will have to take breathalyzer tests twice a day now, once in the morning (6-9 a.m.) and once at night (9 p.m.-12 a.m.) at the Ann Arbor Police Department and will have to serve five days on a Washtenaw County Jail Work Program by April 30.”

Provided he can get past his legal issues and avoid any further hiccups, Glasgow would serve as a talented and experienced piece of UM’s line as he started all 11 games in which he played last year. In 2013, Glasgow started 13 games — nine at center, four at guard.

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‘Bama DT Jonathan Taylor again arrested for domestic violence

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

After an alleged domestic violence incident led to his dismissal at Georgia last July, Jonathan Taylor signed with Alabama in January as one of Nick Saban‘s second-chance signees.  Less than three months later, Taylor is making his new head coach look rather foolish and/or naïve.

Both Aaron Suttles of TideSports.com and Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News are reporting that Taylor is once again facing charges related to a domestic incident earlier today.  According to the Tuscaloosa Police Department’s website, Taylor is facing charges of domestic violence/assault and domestic violence/criminal mischief.

At this moment, details of what led to the defensive tackle’s arrest have not been released.  Taylor remains in jail in lieu of a pair of $500 bonds.

Taylor has been participating with his new Tide teammates in spring practice, even as his initial signing caused enough of a controversy that the school felt the need to address it in a statement.  It would seem unlikely that Saban would allow the lineman to remain on his squad, not with two domestic violence arrests in less than a year littering his record, the first of which is still pending in the state of Georgia.  Additionally, Taylor was one of four UGA players arrested last March on theft by deception charges.

Taylor was a four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 7 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of Georgia.  After taking a redshirt his true freshman season, Taylor played in 10 games in 2013.  He spent the 2014 season at the JUCO level.

Overall, it’s been a rough last 24 hours or so for the Tide off the field.

Late Friday night, defensive back Geno Smith was arrested for driving under the influence.  It was the senior’s second drunk-driving arrest in less than two years, prompting him to issue a public apology on Twitter.

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NCAA to study future handling of grad transfers

Louisville v Wichita State Getty Images

The NCAA has already changed the way it deals with hardship waivers for transfers.  Now, The Association is seemingly set to further stifle the movement of its student-athletes.

The Division I Council Coordination Committee appointed earlier this month the Ad Hoc Transfer Issues Working Group to do what a release describes as “consider where improvements can be made to current [transfer] rules,” with the group focusing “on graduate transfers and permission-to-contact rules.”

Currently, FBS graduate transfers in all sports can transfer to another FBS program without sitting out a season, proved three provisions are met: 1. the student-athlete has graduated from his current institution; 2. the student-athlete enrolls in a graduate program at his new university not offered at his previous one; and 3. the student-athlete’s original university signs off on the transfer.

What the group will look into in the coming months is “whether to update the policy for graduate transfers to more closely mirror a new policy adopted last year for undergraduate transfers.”

Earlier this month, the new policy mentioned above went into effect, effectively eliminating the hardship waiver that provided immediately eligibility for a transfer. Previously, a student-athlete could file an appeal for a hardship waiver on various grounds, the most common one of which was related to illnesses and/or situations in the family that necessitated a move closer to home; now, potential transfers can request a waiver that would extend their eligibility out by another season but cannot gain immediate eligibility.

Normally a graduate transfer would have a single season of eligibility remaining, although there are occasionally exceptions. If the new procedure is adopted — it wouldn’t be in place until the 2016-17 academic year at the earliest — a graduate transfer would be forced to sit out the first season with his/her new program, then have another season of eligibility tacked on the following year if the waiver is granted.

For example, if Cardale Jones, by then a redshirt junior, decides to transfer out of Ohio State to Michigan after graduating next May, Jones would be forced to sit out the 2016 season. He could then apply for a waiver that would give him one more year of eligibility in 2017.

Provided, of course, the same policy in place for undergrad transfers is implemented for grad transfers.

“Student transfers are an important issue in higher education, and it is no different in athletics,” said co-chair Jere Morehead, Georgia president, in a statement. “The group will be mindful of the integration of athletics and academics when creating recommendations for Division I transfer policy or legislation.”

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Tide’s Geno Smith tweets apology following latest arrest

Geno Smith Mugshot

Late last night, Alabama’s Geno Smith was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.  It was the senior cornerback’s second drunk-driving-related arrest in less than two years.

Smith did not participate in practice Saturday, in large part because he was still jailed around the time his teammates began yet another spring session.

Head coach Nick Saban did not address the latest development involving an experienced piece of his secondary, although that’s expected to happen early this coming week.  Ahead of that, a contrite Smith took to Twitter to apologize to the university, the football program and its fans for his latest off-field misstep.

Whether it’s enough to help avoid the full wrath of Saban — and maintain a spot on the roster for his final season — remains to be seen.

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Pair of Seminole LBs to miss rest of spring with shoulder injuries

Bethune-Cookman v Florida State Getty Images

A pair of Florida State linebackers who had their 2014 seasons interrupted by suspensions have not seen their spring interrupted by injuries.

Friday, head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed that both Chris Casher and Matthew Thomas (pictured) will miss the remainder of the spring due to shoulder issues.  The former has already undergone surgery to repair his damage, while “[w]e’re gonna have to end up [surgically] fixing” the latter.”

The issue with Thomas is an ongoing and lingering one. He took a medical redshirt for the 2013 season because of it, while he dealt with the issue throughout the 2014 season as well.

“It popped out. Popped out,” Fisher said of the shoulder according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It popped out a bunch of times last year, one game it popped out four different times. It popped out the other day. It’s too loose.”

After a copious amount of drama and a splash of theatrics, Thomas signed with FSU as a five-star recruit in 2013. As a redshirt freshman last season — he played in four games in 2013 before the initial injury — Thomas was suspended in early September and didn’t return until mid-October. He went on to play in the remaining eight games, making three starts.

Casher, meanwhile, was suspended for the 2014 opener for what was described as an academic-related issue. He ended up starting two of the final 13 games of that season.

Despite some on-field production, Casher is more well-known for off-field headlines, whether it be in connection to the Jameis Winston sexual assault allegations or being sued by his attorney or being stopped by police at gunpoint over a pellet gun.

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WR Isaiah Jones leaving FSU, will likely land at Miss. JUCO

Isaiah Jones AP

In August of last year, Isaiah Jones was declared academically ineligible and didn’t play a down for Florida State in 2014.  As it turns out, that’ll be the case in 2015 — and likely beyond.

Friday, head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed that Jones has decided to transfer out of the FSU football program and continue his playing career elsewhere.  That elsewhere, according to Fisher, is likely East Mississippi State Community College.

The Palm Beach Post noted that Jones had traveled with the team to the Rose Bowl and said at the time that, as a longtime Seminole fan, he had no desire to transfer.  What prompted the change of heart, and whether it was again related to academics, wasn’t addressed.

A four-star member of the Seminoles’ 2013 recruiting class, Jones was rated as the No. 28 receiver in the country and the No. 36 player at any position in the talent-rich state of Florida. As a true freshman in 2013, the 6-4, 194-pound Jones caught two passes for 31 yards.

His production could’ve been higher that season, but a foot injury forced him to miss most of the second half of the season.

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Ole Miss’ leading tackler, second-leading rusher sustain injuries

Mississippi v Texas Getty Images

The bad news for Ole Miss is that key players on each side of the ball have sustained injuries.  The good news?  It’s only the spring, and the start of the new season is still more than five months down the road.

The most significant injury was sustained by defensive back Mike Hilton, who broke his thumb during a practice session earlier this week.  Additionally, running back Jordan Wilkins suffered what’s being described a sprained MCL.

Hilton will miss the remainder of the spring, but is expected to be healthy enough to participate in summer camp at the beginning of August.  Wilkins’ availability for the rest of the spring is to be determined.

In 2014 as a third-year junior, Hilton started 11 of the Rebels’ 13 games.  He led the team in tackles with 71, and was second in interceptions (three) and passes broken up (seven).

Over the past three seasons, Hilton has started 26 of the 36 games in which he’s played.

Wilkins‘ 361 yards rushing as a redshirt freshman last season was second on the Rebels, while his 6.9 yards per carry was tied for tops on the team.

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McElwain talks ‘insufficient’ cupboard left by Muschamp

Hungry Hill Getty Images

Will Muschamp may be gone at Florida, but he’s certainly not been forgotten.

Shortly after his firing last November, Muschamp was very emphatic in stating that the Gators possess “a deep and talented roster, so don’t let that new guy tell you he ain’t got any players.”

The new guy in this case is Jim McElwain, hired away from Colorado State in December and charged with cleaning up the mess in Gainesville. And, apparently, he didn’t get Muschamp’s memo.

From al.com:

“When you look at it, you know, the thing that has been lacking is the numbers and the size of what we’re doing on the other side of the ball,” McElwain told reporters in Gainesville. “It’s probably the reason we’re here. That’s all right, man, I’m excited to be here and we’re going to get it taken care of.”

“They’re trying their tails off,” McElwain said. “For the lack of numbers there, and it’s one of those things you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt and right now, quite honestly, the hand we were dealt is really insufficient at some of the areas. And yet at the same time that’s what you have, so we’re going to make the best of it. Those guys are battling in there. To try to even create kind of two groups is hard, so these guys, we’re giving them spells. Just kind of the way we practice, we had to kind of totally change how we will normally practice here in the future.”

It’s not uncommon for the new cook on campus to lament the lack of ingredients left in the cupboard. One of the things that lamenting does, though, is undercut those who remain on the roster.

Perhaps mindful of that, McElwain also tossed around words like “foundation” and “toughness” and “fight” in an attempt to soften what he sees as a lack of depth at best and, at worst, an overall lack of talent.

“The thing about this group of guys is they care about each other and care about the team,” the first-year coach said. “They fight their way through tough times, and that’s how you build the foundation of a football team. It’s really exciting to watch because at some point in the season, this toughness foundation is going to be what carries us, and we’re learning all about that right now.”

While they’re far from the gospel, recent recruiting rankings would suggest that McElwain at least has some talent with which to work — he and his staff just needs to coach them up better than their predecessors.

Muschamp was hired as UF’s head coach on Dec. 10, 2010. In his four recruiting classes, none finished lower than 12th nationally according to Rivals.com. That was Muschamp’s first class, one that he had roughly three months to put/hold together.

The first full class of the Muschamp era was in 2012, and that class finished No. 3 overall and No. 2 in the SEC. That was followed up by the fourth-ranked class in 2013 that was again second in the conference.

Even when rumors were swirling that he was a dead man coaching, Muschamp was able to pull in the No. 8 class in 2014, although that was only good for sixth in the conference.

Again, recruiting rankings aren’t the be-all, end-all when it comes to wins and losses, but they are a good indicator of potential.  And potentially, McElwain, whose first class ranked 23rd nationally and 10th in the conference — they get a pass on that — has a lot more talent with which to work than he’s allowing.

Tempering expectations of an anxious and dissatisfied fan base?  Perhaps.  Or he’s realized that the most important ingredient in the kitchen, the quarterback, may not necessarily be in his cupboard at the moment.

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Miami’s leading returning rusher suspended for spring game

Joseph Yearby, Jeremy Cash AP

Miami takes the field this afternoon for its annual spring game, and the Hurricanes will do so without a player who’ll be expected to be a key piece of their 2015 offensive puzzle.

Shortly before the game kicked off, Miami announced that Joseph Yearby has been suspended for the spring finale.  According to the team, it was for a violation of unspecified team rules.

According to Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald, the suspension involves allegedly breaking curfew so that the running back could be in attendance at a life-altering event:

I was told by my source, but not by UM, that Yearby was suspended for breaking curfew last night.

I was told he was there for the birth of his baby, but I did not have that confirmed and I don’t know when the baby was born.

It seems incomprehensible that Yearby would be suspended for attending the birth of his child, but we’ll just have to await Al Golden‘s postgame talk with the media and see if he offers any further explanation to the report.

Last season as a true freshman, Yearby was second on the team with 509 yards rushing.  He also added eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield.

With Duke Johnson‘s early departure for the NFL, Yearby will get the opportunity to be the bell cow for the Hurricanes’ ground game.

UPDATED 2:52 p.m. ET: And now a little bit more of the rest of the real story.

Yearby did indeed become a new father recently… over the winter.  Becoming a new parent, however, had nothing to do with the suspension; instead; it was breaking curfew last night that sidelined the back.

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Alabama DB Geno Smith again arrested on DUI charge

Sammie Coates ,Geno Smith Getty Images

I guess now we’re going to find out just how wedded Nick Saban is to his second chance mantra, and if it extends to a third chance.

While the details are scant at the moment, and the school has yet to address the situation, Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Geno Smith was arrested Friday night on a charge of driving under the influence.  According to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department website, Smith was released on a $1,000 bond this afternoon.

From the sheriff’s department’s website:

Geno Smith Mugshot

What makes this a significant issue for Smith is that it’s the player’s second alcohol-related charge in less than two years.

In August of 2013, Smith was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.  A couple of days later, Saban announced that the defensive back would be suspended for the opener against Virginia Tech.

Smith started six of the 14 games in which he played last season as a true junior last season.  All told, he’s played in 39 games in his three seasons with the Tide, including eight starts.

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NCAA says no malice involved in Reggie Bush investigation

Todd McNair AP

Well, that settles it.  Or not.

AS CFT wrote earlier this week, the NCAA Tuesday released 500 pages of documents– including damning internal dialogue – related to the Reggie Bush investigation as part of a defamation lawsuit involving former USC running backs coach Todd McNair. The documents revealed those involved stepping well beyond the bounds of normal investigation protocol – including value judgments on the program’s hiring of Lane Kiffin as head coach — and seemingly showing bias against the USC football program in meting out near-historic sanctions that crippled the Trojans for years.

Suffice to say, USC was not pleased with how the NCAA’s investigation was conducted as portrayed in the document dump, saying in a statement that “[w]e are extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process.” In that same statement, the school intimated that further action could be taken — legal action of its own would be the most likely recourse — depending upon further review of documents, both those that have been released and others that may soon, as the school expects, come to light.

In a statement released Friday, the NCAA, which has been accused by the McNair camp of not releasing all pertinent documents, claimed that its Committee on Infractions “acted appropriately” and “engaged in a comprehensive, deliberative process and did not act with malice” in the Bush investigation.  Furthermore, a governing body that saw one COI member compare the Bush investigation to the Oklahoma City bombing had the audacity to write “[i]t is unfortunate that Mr. McNair’s unfounded claims have resulted in an attack on the character and integrity of dedicated individual committee members and the overall infractions process.”

For the entirety of the NCAA’s statement, grab your hip waders and step in it below:

As a result of the Court of Appeals February 6 decision and in order to have a meaningful appeal opportunity, the NCAA filed a collection of documents with the court which demonstrate that the Division I Committee on Infractions acted appropriately when reaching its conclusions in the USC Infractions Report.

These publicly filed documents illustrate how the Committee on Infractions underwent thorough deliberations consistent with the policies and procedures governing the infractions process. The documents, including committee’s e-mail correspondence after the hearing which has received the most attention, further demonstrate that the Committee on Infractions is not a body of single-minded individuals but rather a group of individuals with different perspectives who worked diligently to reach a consensus based on information presented to the committee.

After careful review of the documents, we are confident the Court of Appeals will conclude that the committee engaged in a comprehensive, deliberative process and did not act with malice.

Our volunteer committee members, comprised of highly reputable individuals from member schools, conferences and the public, work extremely hard to uphold the NCAA’s mission and values. It is unfortunate that Mr. McNair’s unfounded claims have resulted in an attack on the character and integrity of dedicated individual committee members and the overall infractions process.

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Likely starter at QB for Vandy chooses medical school over football

Massachusetts v Vanderbilt Getty Images

Somewhat abruptly and unexpectedly, the dynamic of Vanderbilt’s quarterback competition has has undergone a dramatic shift.

Friday, Vandy issued a press release announcing that Patton Robinette has decided to retire from the game of football.  A history of injuries, including a concussion last September, influenced the quarterback’s decision to some degree.

The school stated that Robinette spoke frequently with his parents, close acquaintances, Vanderbilt physicians and athletic trainers, and Commodore coaches before walking away from the sport in a fashion similar to the recent retirements of Chris Borland and Jack Miller.

“This has been a very difficult decision to make,” Robinette said in a statement sent out by the school. “This team means the world to me and I love playing football more than anything. It’s been tough coming to a decision that is right for my family and I, and protects my health and future.

“I’ve been very deliberate in coming to this decision. It’s difficult but I’m really excited to move forward to the next chapter of my life and really to see what the field of medicine has in store for me.”

Exiting the spring game this past Saturday, Robinette was widely viewed as the favorite to land the starting job. Less than a week ago, Robinette was stating that he was “going to have to go out this offseason and camp and compete to maintain my position at the top,” adding, “I am going to work hard and do [just] that.”

Six days later, Robinette will now be preparing for medical school instead of summer camp.

While concern over his health played a role in his decision, a significant one, so did the opportunity to embark on a medical career sooner rather than later.

“People have made a big deal of the concussion thing,” said Robinette during a press conference. “That’s certainly a factor, but more than that I’m looking at moving forward in my medical career and seeing where that takes me.

“Though football is an amazing game and I’ve loved playing the game at Vanderbilt, for myself and my future family, there are more important things than me trying to have one last stand. It was difficult to come to that decision.”

The past two seasons, Robinette started five of the 16 games in which he played.  The pinnacle of Robinette’s playing career very well could’ve come in 2013, with the school writing “[t]o many Commodore fans, Robinette’s greatest contribution came on Nov. 23, 2013 when his 5-yard rushing touchdown proved the winning margin over Tennessee in Knoxville.”

That was the second-straight win for the Commodores over the in-state rival Vols, but just the third in the last 31 years.

With Robinette out of the picture, redshirt sophomore Johnny McCrary will likely enter camp as a slight favorite to win the starting job. Also in the mix will be sophomore Wade Freebeck and redshirt freshman Shawn Stankavage, with incoming freshman and 2015 four-star signee Kyle Shurmur joining the fray this summer.

McCrary and Freebeck were two of the four quarterbacks who started at least one game last year for the ‘Dores.  The other player to start a game under center last year, Stephen Rivers, was granted a release from his Vandy scholarship this past January with the intention of transferring.

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