Embattled USC coach Lane Kiffin finally gave up his quest for secrecy surrounding the status of his quarterbacks and named sophomore Cody Kessler the starter heading into this week’s game against Boston College.
Kessler started the first two games of the season, but both times the fact that he was starting was not revealed until game time.
The sophomore had been competing with Max Wittek, another sophomore, all throughout the spring and summer. Neither quarterback could separate from the other coming out of fall camp, although most observers felt Kessler looked the most proficient in practices and scrimmages.
While both have played in the first two games, neither is setting the world on fire.
Kessler has a passer rating of 89.76 and Wittek’s is 75.33. As a team, USC is 114th in passing offense and 118th in efficiency.
The duo combined for just 54 yards passing in an ugly 10-7 loss to Washington State on Saturday. It was the fewest passing yards in a game by the Trojans since 1998.
If there’s one area that appears to be the canary in the coal mine for Kiffin’s coaching future at USC, it’s the performance of his quarterbacks with his offense. Both Wittek and Kessler were highly-recruited players, but they are both struggling to execute Kiffin’s complicated scheme despite being in their third seasons at the school.
For now, Kiffin is putting his future in the hands of Kessler. But without a concurrent change in offensive philosophy to suit Kessler’s skill set, this move may just be the equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
UPDATE: Here’s Kiffin explaining himself and his decision via Youtube:
North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.
Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.
Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.
As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.
Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.
Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.
“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”
Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.
David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.
Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:
Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”
“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”
The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.
Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.
According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.
“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’
“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.
The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.
It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.
If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.