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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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One Buckeye not impressed with Wolverines’ move to Nike

Michigan v Ohio State

Whether it be late in the fall or early summer, the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is always simmering, although some times are hotter than others.  The latest to crank the knob to boil?  Ohio State’s Darron Lee.

Monday afternoon, UM announced that it was leaving adidas and moving on to Nike as its official uniform supplier for all of its men’s and women’s sports.  That move will come in 2016.

A few hours later, Lee took to Twitter to opine on the rival’s move and dissect just what it may mean for the football program’s fortunes.

Not suprisingly, the linebacker received some “feedback” on his twin tweets.

In last year’s win, the then-true freshman recorded a career-high nine tackles and returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown in the Buckeyes’ 42-28 win over the Wolverines.  This year’s UM-OU tilt, the first of the Jim Harbaugh era in Ann Arbor, will take place exactly 144 days from today in the Big House.

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Lawyer: woman hurled racial slurs prior to ex-FSU QB’s punch

Casey Anthony Released From Jail Getty Images

Not surprisingly, there’s yet another twist in the De’Andre Johnson saga.

Charged with a misdemeanor for an incident at a Tallahassee night club late last month, the quarterback was suspended and ultimately dismissed by Florida State after video of him punching a woman in the face went public, with FSU’s president issuing a statement of support for head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s decision.  According to Johnson’s lawyer, however, there are mitigating factors behind the punch.

From our pals at NBC News:

The woman raised her fist and shouted “racial epithets” at Johnson when the player accidentally made contact when he was walking up to the bar, lawyer Jose Baez told NBC News.

Johnson “tried to deescalate the situation” but the woman “kneed him in the groin area” and “took another swing before he retaliated,” the attorney added.

The lawyer stated that he has witnesses who heard the racial slurs, although Johnson “makes no excuses for what happened.”

Baez, mostly known as the defense attorney in the infamous Casey Anthony case, added that while his client wasn’t the initial aggressor, he’s “owning this” situation and trying to learn from it.

“All he wants to do is learn from this experience and move on and get an education,” Baez said. “We certainly don’t want him to pay for the rest of his life for an incident that occurred in a bar.”

According to Baez, Johnson is currently volunteering at a battered woman’s shelter.

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Duke’s Kelby Brown suffers fourth ACL tear, this one career-ending

Jameis Winston, Kelby Brown

There’s heartbreaking and unkind, and then there’s what God has wrought on Kelby Brown‘s knees.

In late November of 2010, the Duke linebacker tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee. He tore the ACL in the same knee in February of 2012 and missed that entire season.  Unbelievably, in August of last year, he tore the ACL in his left knee and missed all of the entire 2014 season.

Incredibly, Brown sustained a fourth ACL tear last Tuesday, the second to his left knee.  In a press release, the school confirmed that this latest injury will end Brown’s collegiate career.

“It’s difficult to put into words the feeling of heartbreak I have for Kelby and his family,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement. “While we will certainly miss his athletic abilities and leadership as one of the best linebackers to play at Duke, what is most important above all else is Kelby’s health. He is a truly special young man who is destined to accomplish great things in his life. Kelby’s strengths lie in his core values, and I know that despite this setback, he will continue to play an integral part of our program’s success both on and off the field.”

According to the school, Brown will serve the program as a student assistant for the 2015 season.

A first-team All-ACC selection in 2013, Brown ranked second in the conference with 8.8 tackles per game. He was a preseason All-ACC selection in 2014 as well.

All told, Brown started 29 games as a Blue Devil when healthy — 12 in 2013, 10 in 2011 and seven in 2010.  He played in 32 total games.

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Reports: Jimbo, FSU didn’t see punch video until Monday night

Florida State v Miami Getty Images

Very late Monday night, Florida State announced that quarterback De’Andre Johnson had been dismissed from the football program.  The announcement came several hours after video surfaced of Johnson punching a woman in the face following a bar confrontation, leading to a misdemeanor battery charge being filed against the 2015 four-star signee.

Some had questioned whether FSU had seen the video of the incident prior to it being released and was simply reacting to the public outcry with the dismissal, or if yesterday was the first time they had viewed the damning piece of evidence.

According to a pair of reports, it’s most certainly the latter.

Additionally, a school spokesperson stated that “[n]one of us saw it” when asked by the Tallahassee Democrat about the timing of the university’s first viewing of the video.

In a statement released late Tuesday morning, FSU president John Thrasher released a rather lengthy statement in support of Jimbo Fisher‘s decision to dismiss Johnson from the team.

“I fully support Coach (Jimbo) Fisher’s decisions to immediately suspend and subsequently dismiss De’Andre Johnson from the football team. While it is always important to adhere to due process, having now seen the physical altercation captured on video, there is no question in my mind that Coach Fisher made the correct decisions.

“I expect all students at Florida State University, including student-athletes, to adhere to the highest level of conduct. I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior exhibited in this case.

“Florida State University was forged from an outstanding college for women and has a long tradition of being a caring community that demands students be treated with dignity and respect. All students must know their university will do everything it can to ensure a safe, healthy and positive environment in which they can learn and enjoy their college experience. As president, I am committed to maintaining such an environment at FSU.”

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All three Buckeye QBs make Maxwell Award preseason watch list

J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller AP

One of the most prestigious awards in college football became the latest to toss its hat into the preseason watch list ring, and this particular honor carries a decidedly Ohio State tinge to it.

The Maxwell Award, given annually to the nation’s Player of the Year, released a preseason watch list Tuesday that included a total of 80 FBS players.  Among those 80 players are four Ohio State Buckeyes, including all three quarterbacks (in alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone): J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller.

The fourth Buckeye on the initial Maxwell watch list is Ezekiel Elliott.  The preseason Heisman favorite according to one wagering outfit, Elliott will enter the 2015 season coming off a postseason that saw him run for 696 yards and eight touchdowns in postseason wins over Wisconsin (220 yards, Big Ten championship game), Alabama (230, College Football Playoff semifinal) and Oregon (246, CFP championship game).

TCU was next among individual schools with three players, while Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Tennessee had two each.

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is the only 2014 finalist to make the preseason cut this year.  There are also four 2014 semifinalists on the initial list: Florida State quarterback Everett Golson, who made it last year while at Notre Dame, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, Pittsburgh running back James Conner and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.

The SEC led all conferences with 17 players listed — Vanderbilt was the only one of the 14 schools without a representative — followed by the Big Ten (12) and ACC and Pac-12 (11 each). The Big 12, with nine, had the fewest amongst Power Five leagues, while the AAC’s five were the most of the Group of Five conferences.

Last year’s winner was Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

2015 Maxwell Award Watch List

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Michael Irvin’s son commits to ‘Canes

Miami Hurricanes v Florida State Seminoles Getty Images

For those who thought they’d seen the last Michael Irvin taking snaps at wherever the Miami Hurricanes will continue playing football, you’d be wrong. Probably.

In a non-binding verbal commitment, Michael Irvin II announced Monday that he will begin his collegiate football career at The U. Irvin II’s dad is, of course, the former Hurricane receiving great who’s an NFL Hall of Famer — and who told the football program’s fans earlier this year to “calm their asses down” when it comes to the current head coach.

And, as a lot of football recruits are doing these days, Irvin made his initial announcement via social media — in head-scratching, make-the-NCAA-take-notice fashion — before expounding on the decision with other media entities.

The younger Irvin, a tight end to his famous pop’s wide receiver, had Syracuse as his No. 2 option. Georgia and Michigan were under serious consideration by the 2016 prospect as well.

It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” Irvin told 247Sports.com about his commitment to his dad’s alma mater. “I like the coaches. They told me I would play all over for them. In the backfield, at tight end and at receiver.”

Suffice to say, Irvin’s dad is pleased with his son’s decision.

“We had been talking about where and what I was going to do for a very long time. He knew what was coming,” Irvin said according to the Orlando Sentinel. “We always stay in touch even though he’s still in Texas and I’m here playing at St. Thomas [in Florida]. We talk every day about everything and he was very excited, extremely excited. But I think he knew what I wanted to do. … I was a ‘Cane from the start. I grew up a fan and wanted to be a ‘Cane.”

Listed at 6-2, 200 pounds by Rivals.com, Irvin has been given a three-star rating according to that recruiting website. He’s also listed as the No. 81 receiver in the country and the No. 70 player at any position in the state of Florida.

Shortly after Irvin’s verbal became public knowledge, head coach Al Golden — the one who has the approval of the father of his latest commit — posted the following to his Twitter account:

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FSU dismisses QB shown punching woman in disturbing video

De'Andre Johnson

Not surprisingly, the “career” of De’Andre Johnson at Florida State was a short one.

Shortly after security footage of a disturbing incident surfaced, FSU announced that Johnson has been dismissed from the football program. Earlier this month, Johnson was charged with misdemeanor battery after video from a Tallahassee drinking establishment showed him punching a female during the course of a verbal/physical incident that turned extremely physical.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel‘s account of what led to Johnson’s charges and, ultimately, his dismissal:

According to the [Tallahassee Police Department] report, Johnson allegedly pushed a woman from behind “aggressively” when she approached the bar. The woman turned around to address Johnson and “raised her right arm to defend herself” when Johnson allegedly “grabbed her arm that was raised and began pushing her.”

The woman raised her knee to Johnson’s midsection to push him away and attempted to punch Johnson. One witness heard the woman yell “no” twice before Johnson allegedly punched her in the face, causing bruising under her left eye, swelling to her left cheek and upper lip, and a small cut on her nose.

The woman’s account is consistent with video obtained from security cameras, according to the police department.

For what it’s worth, Johnson’s attorney, Jose Baez, released a self-serving statement on his client’s behalf.

“While it is clear from the video that De’Andre Johnson was not the initial aggressor, his family wants to take the lead in helping him learn and grow from this experience. He is currently participating in community service, and faith-based programs focused on battered women, substance abuse, and the empowerment of children. De’Andre is extremely embarrassed by this situation and would like to express his heartfelt apologies to everyone, including those who were directly affected, Coach Fisher and his team mates, the entire Florida State University community, as well as his family and friends.”

For those who haven’t seen the video of the incident, it appears below. You decide how much longer it’s going to be OK for a man to punch a woman… I’m sorry, decide whether this woman deserved to be punched by a “man.”

 

Johnson was a four-star member of FSU’s 2015 recruiting class who will likely get a shot somewhere else at some level of college football because of his physical talent.

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South Alabama begins exploring possible on-campus stadium options

Georgia Southern South Alabama

South Alabama began playing college football just seven years ago in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, and now the Jaguars are looking for a place to more appropriately call home. The university announced Monday work has begun on a preliminary study to explore the feasibility of constructing an on-campus stadium for South Alabama football, which is a long way from saying a stadium is going up. But it is a possibility down the line.

“Construction of a football stadium is an extremely complex undertaking that requires significant due diligence on the part of the University leadership, and we are at the very beginning of a process that will examine all the issues we must consider before a decision can be made,” said USA President Tony Waldrop in a released statement.

Trustees, administrators and select staff members will join forces to put together the feasibility study. The results of the report will be shared to the leadership of the university at a later point in time. There is no deadline for this process, and that is a wise decision. Given the experience and wisdom gained from watching the mishandling of the UAB football program, South Alabama officials should take all the time in the world needed to determine what is best for the university and football program, whether that means building a football stadium or not.

Ladd-Peebles Stadium is an aging facility, constructed in 1948. The stadium is currently home to South Alabama football in addition to the GoDaddy.com Bowl and Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl has been played in the stadium every year since 1951, making it the go-to destination for college football’s top NFL prospects, not to mention NFL scouts and coaches every week in the offseason. History is nice, but if South Alabama can make it worth the effort and money to build an on-campus stadium, then it will help the Jaguars continue to build its own identity in the college football world.

Building a stadium is not the best solution for every program. Time will tell if it is the best option for South Alabama.

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Ohio State OL signee: I will be enrolling at Georgia

Mark Richt

Oh to be a fly on the wall of Mark Richt‘s office right now. Georgia will end up being the football home to offensive lineman Mirko Jurkovic, who had previously signed with Ohio State, coached by Richt’s former SEC East rival Urban Meyer. Jurkovic’s status at Georgia is still pending acceptance by the admissions department.

I will be enrolling at the University of Georgia,” Jurkovic announced on his Twitter account Monday. “I will be reporting for training camp on August 2md. I would like to thank Ohio State and all the other schools that gave me the opportunity to come play for them throughout this crazy process. Excited to start this journey to the next chapter of my life.”

Jurkovic took a round-about route to Athens. After signing with Ohio State in February, Jurkovic never showed up to Columbus to join the rest of the incoming class for summer classes. The holdup for the enrollment was deemed to be due to an academic issue, although the specifics of that situation were never really clarified. The three-star recruit will end up being a nice last-minute addition to the Georgia recruiting class, which will now include four offensive linemen. Georgia lost an offensive lineman in the Class of 2016 when DeVondre Seymour walked away from football, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I don’t know what all went on there behind the scenes there,” Jurkovic explained to the AJC. “It just kind of was what it was. I don’t know. I wasn’t admitted to Ohio State. That’s all I know.

“And there are no hard feelings against Ohio State. It’s a business. It didn’t mess me up too much. I ended up at Georgia, so I’m not too mad or disappointed about that. Ohio State is just a thing in the past now.”

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QB Vernon Adams eligible at Oregon, nearly ready to take aim at replacing Mariota

Eastern Washington v Washington Getty Images

In a transfer that has long been all but official, Vernon Adams has officially been approved for graduate classes at Oregon. This brings him one giant step closer to making his case to be the next starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks in 2015.

The next step for Adams will be enrollment. Per The Oregonian, Adams has been admitted and is eligible to enroll, but has not done the later just yet. Enrolling at this stage may now just be a matter of procedure, because Oregon ruling Adams eligible to enroll is still a positive sign Adams will indeed be joining the Ducks for the fall.

Adams is transferring from FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington and is a likely contender to win the vacant starting quarterback job at Oregon, left vacant by Marcus Mariota. Mariota won last season’s Heisman Trophy, but Adams is a two-time Walter Payton Award runner-up at the FCS level. The Walter Payton Award is presented annually to the top player in the FCS, so this makes Adams the FCS equivalent of Andrew Luck, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting during his time at Stanford.

Adams has one final year of eligibility remaining, and he hopes to make the most of it with the Ducks. It is far froma  given he ends up being Oregon’s new starting quaretrback, but he could be a quick fix to the Oregon offense in the post-Mariota era. He has the ability to throw and run, making him a versatile player for the Ducks, even if he is measuring in at just 5′-11″.

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Michigan ditches Adidas for Nike (in 2016)

Michigan Football Spring Game

A week after Tennessee unveiled their brand new uniforms from Nike after moving on from a partnership with Adidas, the University of Michigan has rejoined The Swoosh. In an announcement made Monday afternoon, Michigan announced a new apparel partnership with Nike. The new contract will officially begin in 2016, which means one more football season for Michigan in uniforms designed by Adidas.

A return to Nike may not yield quite the same lucrative contract Michigan had with Adidas, but the image that comes with wearing Nike is quite a selling point as well. The Portland Business Journal previously valued Michigan’s contract as the most valuable apparel contract in college sports, with $4.4 million in equipment and $3.8 million in cash from Adidas. Under the terms of the agreement, Michigan was required to be the highest-paid partner with Adidas among college clients. A move to Nike likely will mean some sort of reduction in pay, as Nike has many partners to satisfy, including Michigan’s division rivals at Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State.

For the sake of comparison, Georgia’s new deal with Nike will result in a payment of $2.88 million annually in equipment and $1 million in cash.

A move away from Adidas has been speculated for a while, with new leadership in place at Michigan and the Adidas alternate uniforms being largely connected to the efforts of former Athletics Director Dave Brandon‘s branding initiative. And those alternate uniforms were just plain awful. Now we have to wonder if Adidas will serve up one final atrocity before Michigan leaves them this fall.

Adidas is losing some of its big contracts. In addition to Michigan, Notre Dame also left Adidas (for Under Armour). And, of course, Tennessee has abandoned ship.

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Ole Miss acknowledges NCAA investigation regarding Laremy Tunsil

Laremy Tunsil

When the stepfather of Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil dropped an allegation the Rebel was associating with sports agents, Ole Miss responded swiftly. So did the NCAA. Now both are conducting investigations to determine if Tunsil acted in violation of NCAA rules regarding agents. Ole Miss issued a statement Monday afternoon to say it is a manner the program takes seriously.

“The University of Mississippi Department of Athletics is aware of the allegations made by Laremy Tunsil’s stepfather regarding potential NCAA violations involving Laremy,” the statement opened. “As we do with any allegation, we initiated an internal investigation last week and have offered the NCAA our full cooperation. We take the obligations to the NCAA and SEC very seriously, and we will continue to educate, monitor and enforce all applicable rules. Any other reports are speculation until the process is complete.”

Tunsil was arrested and charged for domestic violence after punching his stepfather, Lindsey Miller. Tunsil reportedly was acting in defense of his mother at the time. Tunsil and his mother pressed charges against Miller, at which time Miller let it be known his stepson had been riding around with agents. It was this that he claims started the discussion that turned violent. Once that became public, the NCAA got involved to see what they can find.

While most will praise Tunsil for defending his mother in a tense moment, his eligibility will eventually have to be analyzed. If he is found guilty by the NCAA and Ole Miss of associated with and accepting any kinds of benefits from agents then his eligibility will be put at risk, even if just for part of a game. So for now, let’s let the legal process play out on one end, and the NCAA and Ole Miss investigations play out on the other.

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Disturbing security video of FSU QB De’Andre Johnson (allegedly) punching woman surfaces

Florida State Spring Game

Any time a player is accused of punching someone in the face, it’s not a good look. It is particularly bad when that accusation has a female on the other end of it. And it only gets worse if video is available of said punch of woman. Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson is now captured on security video punching a female right in the face at a bar.

Johnson was suspended indefinitely after being charged with misdemeanor battery. Today The Tallahassee Democrat shared security camera footage of the incident that led to the charge, in which Johnson appears to have a verbal exchange with a woman at the bottom of the video feed before exchanging blows with her. Johnson’s punch, captured below, was the one that landed Johnson in jail and could potentially ruin a college football career before it ever truly gets started.

For now, the legal process is still playing out. Johnson turned himself into authorities and state attorney Willie Meggs stepped in to prosecute the case. Given the graphic detail of the video, it would be hard to imagine Johnson would have a great chance of playing football this fall, but that should be the least important part of this story for now.

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Utah suspends alleged knife-wielding Dominique Hatfield

Dominique Hatfield

Well, you probably saw this one coming. Utah has suspended defensive back Dominique Hatfield for an indefinite amount of time. Hatfield was arrested last week for alleged aggravated robbery, in which the Ute is accused of brandishing a knife and demanding money after luring the alleged victim to a location through an online sales pitch.

Because the incident in question happened just before the July 4th weekend, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utah staff have been unable to issue any comments or statements regarding the incident until today. Whittingham, in a released statement, stressed the violent nature of the accusations being the reason to issue the indefinite suspension for the potential starter.

Hatfield started 10 games at cornerback for Utah last season after making the transition to the defensive side of the football from wide receiver. Now it will be largely up to the legal process to determine his fate with the Utah program in 2015.

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Florida State taking 2016 spring game to Citrus Bowl in Orlando

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

In 2016, Florida State is taking its show on the road to Orlando. Twice. The Seminoles, already scheduled to open the 2016 season in Orlando against SEC foe Ole Miss, will get an early taste of the Citrus Bowl by taking the annual spring game on the road to Orlando. Florida State announced the spring game news Monday afternoon.

Florida State’s spring game in the Citrus Bowl will be played on April 9 at 5:00 p.m. The big reason for the relocation of the spring game is due to the renovation schedule on Doak Campbell Stadium.

“The short term construction challenges of building the Champions Club in Doak Campbell stadium have provided a unique opportunity for our 2016 spring football game,” said FSU Director of Athletics Stan Wilcox.  “We are pleased to offer our fans greater access to Florida State football at an exciting and refurbished venue in one of the best destinations cities in the world.  Moving the game to Orlando and partnering with Steve Hogan and his staff at Florida Citrus Sports will allow us to platform the game and Florida State athletics in exciting and unique new ways.”

Oh, it is also a nice little money-maker as well. Tickets will be sold for general admission seating at $5.00 per ticket. For the sake of comparison, admission to Florida State’s spring game was free this past spring. Florida State attracted a crowd of 17,250 to this year’s spring game. Weather kept many fans away, after drawing over 36,000 fans the previous spring.

Florida State last played in the Citrus Bowl Stadium in the 2011 Russell Athletic Bowl, defeating Notre Dame 18-14.

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