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The Fifth Quarter: Week 4 Rewind

Kansas State v Texas 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.

WINNERS

Mack’s back?
At least for the time being, the Longhorn Nation mob can put away its pitchforks and torches.  After a week that saw even more speculation about his job and the confirmation of rumors that Texas was indeed very interested in Nick Saban, Mack Brown was staring square in the face of Texas’ first 1-3 start since 1954.  Instead, the Longhorn players stepped above the ineptness of the past couple of weeks and moved to 2-2 with a 31-21 win over Kansas State.  Whether it was the increased heat on their coach or just the fact that the Wildcats aren’t that good, the players seemed to play with a spark, an enthusiasm, a sense of urgency that hasn’t been seen at all in 2013  Certainly one win doesn’t change all that’s gone wrong over the past three-plus years, and K-State 2013 is not the K-State of recent years, but it’s definitely a baby step in the right direction.

Hilluva football player
Forget about whether or not Jeremy Hill should even be on a football field; that’s another argument for another day.  When he is on the playing surface, the LSU running back is one helluva football player.  Hill rushed for a career-high 151 yards… and then headed back onto the field for the start of the third quarter.  Hill finished with 183 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 35-21 win over previously unbeaten Auburn.  The Bayou Bengals certainly have a stable full of high-quality runners, but Hill is clearly the class of the backfield and will continue to serve as an important piece of the offensive puzzle as LSU continues its run toward what should be another epic showdown with Alabama.

Johnny be good at football
If someone other than Johnny Manziel is going to win the 2013 Heisman, they’re going to have to rip it from his cold, dead hands.  Or something.  In less than three-and-a-half quarters of playing time against SMU, Manziel passed for 244 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another 102 and two more scores.  Through four games this season, Manziel has accounted for 1,483 yards of total offense (1,228 passing, 255 rushing) and 15 touchdowns; in the first four games of the 2012 season, the numbers were 1,460 (1,094 passing, 466 rushing) and 16 touchdowns.  Whether or not voters, given the Texas A&M’s rocky offseason, give him serious consideration again this December remains to be seen.  Based on his play on the field this year, though, he damn well should be given just that.

Arizona State v StanfordCardinal rules
Stanford got off to a rather ho-hum start to the 2013 season, beating San Jose State by 21 in the opener and then getting by Army by 14 in Week 2.  In its first true test of the year, however, Stanford got back to real Cardinal football in building up a 29-0 halftime lead before pushing it to 39-7 and ultimately cruising, relatively speaking, to a 42-28 win over No. 23 Arizona State.  As is ofttimes the case, the Cardinal did most of their damage on the ground in rushing for a season-high 238 yards, with three of their touchdowns on the day coming on the ground.  Stanford is nothing if not consistent as they’ve rushed for 197, 205 and now 238 yards in their first three games.  We’re still six weeks away from their colossal showdown with Oregon down on The Farm, and yes Stanford allowed ASU to make it closer than what it could’ve/should’ve been, but it appears the trajectory of both the Cardinal and the Ducks is pointing straight toward an instant classic.

Plow on, Badgers
If anyone thought Wisconsin would turn its back on its running ways under Gary Andersen, you couldn’t have been more wrong.  In the Badgers’ 41-10 win over Purdue in their Big Ten opener, UW ran for 388 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry.  UW came into the game fifth in the country averaging 337 yards per game, rushing for 393 and 387 yards in the first two games under Andersen; their low-water mark for the season has been 210 in the controversial loss to Arizona State last weekend.  The Badgers are now averaging eight yards per carry, a figure that’s third in the country behind a pair of teams that are in an offensive league of their own: Oregon (9.3) and Baylor (9.2).

Non-offensive fireworks
Iowa put up a season-high 59 points on the board in a romp over Western Michigan, and the offense was responsible for just 31 of them.  B.J. Lowery returned two interceptions for a touchdown, becoming the first player in Hawkeye history to perform that feat.  Not to be outdone, Kevonte Martin-Manley became the first Iowa player ever to return two punts for a touchdown in a single game.  Martin-Manley is just the third player in the long history of the Big Ten to do that.  Iowa is now 3-1 on the year, the fifth time in the last six seasons it has started a season at 3-1 or better.

Spunky punter
We here at CFT don’t normally refer to punters as “real” football players.  San Jose State’s Harrison Waid, though, might consider such a label fightin’ words… literally.  Waid took exception to being blocked by a Minnesota player following one of his punts and, in very non-punter-like fashion, went after the Gopher that laid him out.  While the SJSU coaching staff likely appreciated the fire shown by Waid, they probably didn’t like the fact that he was ejected from the game as a result of what was closer to a cat fight than actual fisticuffs.

BCS buster still alive
Thanks to losses through the first three weeks of the 2013 season by, among others, Boise State and Utah State, Fresno State was looking like the lone non-AQ school left that could crash the BCS’ postseason party.  The hopes of BCS busters across the country were looking even more dire Friday night as the Bulldogs sat at their own 13-yard line with just over seven minutes left and trailing the Broncos by six.  Five minutes and 87 yards later, Fresno State put a game-winning touchdown on the board that kept their perfect record — and BCS hopes — intact.  While there are still potential stumbling blocks along the way, such as back-to-back games against San Diego State and Nevada in a month as well as a possible conference championship game appearance — rematch with Boise? — Fresno State is looking like as good a bet as any of the non-AQ schools to finish the season unbeaten and put themselves in a position for a BCS bowl bid.

LOSERS

The Devin’s in the detailsMichigan v Connecticut
Devin Gardner has been in a very giving mood of late for Michigan.  Off the field, that’s a positive; on it, it’s a decidedly negative trait.  Through four games this season, the Wolverines’ starting quarterback has thrown eight interceptions in 92 attempts, including two more against UConn.  Last season, in his first year as a starter, Gardner tossed five picks in 126 attempts.  Gardner also coughed up a fumble early in the third quarter, one that was returned for a touchdown in the too-close-for-comfort win over the winless Huskies.  A bye week could be coming at the perfect time for UM in general and Gardner specifically.  As a team, the Wolverines must clean-up whatever has gone wrong in two very unimpressive and uninspiring wins the past two weeks.  As a player, Gardner needs to some how, some way extract his cranium from his rectum and start playing smart football, especially with the start of Big Ten play on the horizon.

This could leave a mark
Miami had little problem in dispatching heavy underdog Savannah State, but the cupcake win could have come at a steep cost.  In the middle of the first quarter, starting quarterback Stephen Morris suffered what was initially described as a lower-leg injury.  Morris did not return to the game, and it was later revealed that the initial diagnosis is a sprained ankle.  It’ unclear if that would be the dreaded high-ankle type of sprain, although head coach Al Golden sounded decidedly optimistic in his postgame talk.  What’s also unclear is whether Morris will be available for the USF game next week or, more importantly, the ACC opener against Georgia Tech the week after.  The only good news for the ‘Canes if Morris were to miss any playing time is that they have an experienced backup in Ryan Williams.

DOH!gorsen
What in the name of Red Bull shooters is going on in Morgantown?  While the Mountaineers started 2013 2-1, their two wins came against FCS programs, while they scored just seven points in a loss to Oklahoma.  That downward offensive trend spiraled further out of control after WVU was shutout in an embarrassing 37-point road loss to Maryland.  It was the first time a Mountaineers team had been shutout since 2001, Rich Rodriguez‘s first season at WVU.  The Mountaineers recorded the same number of turnovers (six) as first downs, and they completed a grand total of one pass to a wide receiver.  Yes, replacing a quarterback like Geno Smith and a playmaker like Tavon Austin is a tall task, but there’s no excuse for a Dana Holgorsen-coached team to get shut out.  It may not be on the national radar quite yet, but the howls from the locals around me here in the middle of WV calling for Holgorsen’s head are growing in frequency and intensity.  Holgorsen’s built his reputation on offense; his players had better start playing up to that résumé.

Marshall, Marshall, Marshall
Staying in God’s Country, what could have been for Doc Holliday‘s football program.  A pass that could’ve went the other way for a pick-six instead slipped through the hands of a Marshall defender and into the arms of a Virginia Tech receiver, tying the game at 21-all with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter.  After Tech missed a pair of field goal attempts in the first two overtimes — and after the Herd had one of its FGs blocked in the second overtime — the Herd was in position to tie the game in the third overtime — the Hokies had scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion on their third possession of extra time — only to watch a blatant pass interference in the end zone go uncalled.  Add it all up and it was a heartbreaking 29-21, triple-overtime loss for the 2-2 Herd… and a huge escape for a very average Hokies football team.

Florida International v LouisvilleFIUBAR
In December of this year, FIU stunned most college football observers by firing head coach Mario Cristobal.  At the time, athletic director Pete Garcia defended the indefensible by claiming the program had “gone backwards over the last year and a half.”  So, how have the Panthers fared in their first season under new head coach Ron Turner?  FIU has lost their first four games by a combined score of 187-23, including the 72-0 whipping Saturday at the hands of Louisville.  Even more embarrassing for the Panthers is the fact that the officiating crew ordered a running clock in the second half in an effort to speed up the embarrassment.  Excellent work, Mr. Garcia.  You’ve turned around this FBS football program in much the same way you and Butch Davis turned around my Cleveland Browns early last decade.  You should be proud.

$avannah $tate
Over the past two seasons, Savannah State has been 60-point-plus underdogs to three FBS teams: Miami (Sept. 21, 2013), Oklahoma State (Sept. 1, 2012) and Florida State (Sept. 8, 2012).  The FCS program lost those three games by a combined score of 216-7… and that was with the FSU game featuring a running clock in the second half and weather ending the game in the third quarter as well as the Miami game Saturday having the fourth quarter shortened to 12 minutes.  For that trio of eviscerations, Savannah State added $1.235 million to its athletic department’s coffers; in 2010-11, the department’s total athletic budget across all sports was $5.1 million.  Sometimes when you lose, get a beatdown even, you win and win big.

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

– No. 3 Clemson 26, North Carolina State: Thanks to some very questionable officiating, the Tigers were able to get out of Raleigh with its fourth consecutive win to start the 2013 season.

– No. 9 Georgia 45, North Texas 21: The Bulldogs may have won going away thanks to ripping off 24 unanswered points, but they were actually tied with the Conference USA program at 21-all midway through the third quarter.

– No. 15 Michigan 24, UConn 21 — For the second straight week, the Wolverines not only allowed an inferior opponent hang with them, they were actually outplay for the better part of 60 minutes.  UM may be unbeaten at 4-0, but it’s as wobbly a 4-0 that you’ll ever see.

– No. 19 Northwestern 35, Maine 21: You beat an FCS team, even a previously unbeaten one like the Black Bears, by a mere two touchdowns when you’re ranked inside the Top 25, you deserve a mention for escaping.

– No. 22 Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 13: Were it not for an inexplicable trick play late in the third quarter by the Spartans, the Irish could’ve very easily been on the receiving end of its second loss of the season.

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.Colorado State v Alabama

1. Alabama — Call it a letdown coming off a huge win last week or having some pity on a former coordinator, but the Tide looked rather meh-ish in the 25-point win over Colorado State in their home opener.  Expect a much different Tide team as it faces a ranked SEC foe. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. No. 21 Ole Miss

2. Oregon — Despite a bye week, I believe the Ducks still somehow managed to put up 56 points with just 15 minutes of time of possession. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up:  vs. Cal

3. Clemson — You could feel and almost see the Clemsoning hanging in the Raleigh air Thursday night, but it never transpired.  Is this year different for the Tigers?  It’s certainly looking that way and holy hell I just jinxed it. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. Wake Forest

4. Ohio State — After four wins over creampuffs by an average score of 52-15, the Buckeyes have seen the preseason officially come to an end and will face its first real test of the regular season by opening up Big Ten play at home next Saturday. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. No. 24 Wisconsin

5. Stanford — I was very tempted to put LSU here following their win over previously-unbeaten Auburn, but the Cardinal’s win over an unbeaten and ranked Arizona State was enough to trump that in my mind. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at Washington State

(Dropped out: No. 5 Louisville)

HE SAID IT
“I can talk about our crowd today for probably an hour in terms of the energy that they brought to the game, getting in there at an earlier time I think than we usually do; staying even when the game seemed very hard at times, and as disruptive a crowd as we’ve had here probably since the 2006 Louisville game. It was deafening loud.” — Kyle Flood, following Rutgers’ come-from-behind win over Arkansas.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Obviously, I appreciate our fans. I’ve said it and I’ll say it again. We have great fans. I think everybody involved knows that what came out is not indicative of how I felt or how I feel about them. I think our fans understand that. They’re great fans. They’ve been around me for five years. I think they know who I am as a person.” — Bo Pelini, following a rather rough week for him and his Nebraska football program.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“That was a bizarre game.” — David Cutcliffe, after watching his Duke team lose a 58-55 first-round ACC hoops tourney game to Pittsburgh.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“We exposed them at times.” — Earnest Wilson III, after watching his Savannah State team get shellacked 77-7 by Miami.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
“If not, a stiff dew was out there.” — The LSU head coach’s response to someone who asked him if it rained in Tiger Stadium.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK
As a loyal follower of everything and anything Duck Dynasty, I’m fascinated by how far the reach of that family-centric show has grown over the past year.  The latest example?  In the run-up to their game against Louisiana-Monroe — Duck Dynasty‘s Robertson clan hails from West Monroe La., with the elder statesman Phil a former starting quarterback at Louisiana Tech — Baylor posted the following photo on their Twitter account earlier this week:

Baylor Duck Dynasty

RGIII and Art Briles — looking eerily and creepily similar to Uncle Si sans eyeglasses, incidentally — sporting a flowing and glorious redneck face mullet?  Outstanding work, Baylor.  Outstanding.

SAY WHAT?
College football teams one-upping each other when it comes to helmet designs has officially jumped the shark.  Here’s a photo (via the Roanoke TimesAndy Bitter) of a future Virginia Tech helmet that’s currently in the design stage:

Virginia Tech Helmet Design

There’s no word yet on if the Flintstones and/or the Rubbles will serve as the honorary captains when/if those things debut.

TRUE STORY
Ohio State’s 76 points in the Week 4 scrimmage against FAMU were the most for the Buckeyes since an 83-21 win over Iowa in 1950.  The 76-point margin of victory was the largest for an OSU since downing Drake, 85-7, in 1935.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– Through four weeks, there are 29 teams at the FBS level with perfect records, with six of them coming from the Pac-12 and four each from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC.  Missouri, incidentally, is the lone SEC East team with no losses.  On the opposite end, 14 teams have yet to win a game.  Three of those hail from the American Athletic Conference: Temple, UConn and USF.  Iowa State is the only team from the so-called Big Five conferences that’s yet to win a game.

Pittsburgh v DukeTom Savage‘s six touchdown passes in Pittsburgh’s wild 58-55 win over Duke was the most for a Panthers’ quarterback since Tyler Palko tossed five way back in 2004 and tied an ACC record.  It was also the most since Pete Gonzalez set a school record with seven in 1997.  The 113 points scored by both teams was the highest total ever in a game involving Pitt.

– The 98-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Reggie Davis in the win over North Texas was not only the 100th of Murray’s career, but it was also the longest pass play in Georgia history.  It’s also tied for the third-longest passing touchdown in SEC history.  Murray’s 445 yards of offense — 408 passing, 37 rushing — moved the senior to No. 3 on the all-time SEC list for total offense with 11,352 yards.

Kenny Guiton set a single-game Ohio State record with six touchdown passes, and the senior did that in just the first two quarters.  It was the first time an OSU quarterback had thrown at least five scoring passes in a single game since Bobby Hoying in 1995.  Guiton has now tossed 10 touchdown passes the past two weeks; he had five career touchdown passes prior to his first career start against Cal last Saturday.

Derek Carr‘s 460 yards passing in Fresno State’s 41-40 win over Boise State Friday night was the fifth 400-yard-plus performance of his career, setting both the school and Mountain West records in the process.

– Nebraska’s Stanley-Jean Baptiste has intercepted a pass in four straight games, becoming the first Cornhusker player since Josh Bullocks in 2003 to accomplish that feat.  Baptiste’s 140 return yards on his picks are 47 shy of NU’s single-season record.

– In a losing effort to Minnesota, San Jose State’s David Fales threw for 439 yards and three TDs.  He had 296 in the first half alone.

–BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is completing just 35.1 percent (40-114) of his passes this season.   An 18-of-48 performance in the loss to Utah actually upped his completion percentage by nearly two percent.

– This is just weird: Alabama did not convert its first third-down try until there were three minutes left in the fourth quarter of their 31-6 win over Colorado State.  Up to that point, the Tide had been 0-8 on third down.

– Baylor is the first FBS team since Ohio State in 1996 to score 70-plus points in back-to-back games.  Baylor has scored 209 points through three games, the most to start a season at this level in the past 10 years.  They are also the first FBS/Div. 1-A team to score at least 60 points the first three games of the season since LSU in 1930.

– Unbelievably, Texas’ win over Kansas State was its first over the Wildcats since Oct. 3 of 2003.De'Onte Arnett

– Maryland has started a season 4-0 for the first time since 2001.  The Terps had won a total of six games in Randy Edsall‘s first two seasons at the school.

– Including the 17-14 loss to USC Saturday, Utah State’s last five losses have been by a combined total of 13 points.

– UCLA’s 692 yards of total offense in the 59-13 win over New Mexico State was a new school record.

– Kansas’ 13-10 home win over Louisiana Tech on a field goal as time expired was the Jayhawks’ first over an FBS team since Sept. 10, 2011, a streak of 21 straight games.  KU has not beaten a member of an AQ conference since dropping Colorado in November of 2010.  That was also the Jayhawks’ last Big 12 win; they haven’t beaten a current member of the Big 12, however, since defeating Iowa State in October of 2009.

– In its 35-point win over Tulane, Syracuse’s special teams blocked three kicks — two punts and a field goal attempt — and recovered a fumbled punt.

– In the first half of their pasting of Florida A&M, Ohio State ran 47 plays and scored 55 points; FAMU had fewer yards of total offense (54) than the Buckeyes had points, and was able to manage just a single first down in the first two quarters.  OSU was leading the FCS Rattlers 48-0 before FAMU was able to muster its initial first down.

– Minnesota totaled 14 rushing touchdowns in 12 games last season; after six in the 43-17 win over San Jose State, the Gophers have 16 rushing touchdowns in four games this season.

– Prior to their loss to Clemson Thursday night, North Carolina State had beaten the last three teams ranked inside the Top 20 that had ventured into Carter-Finley Stadium: No. 3 Florida State (17-16 on Oct. 6, 2012), No. 7 Clemson (37-13 on Nov. 19, 2011) and No. 16 FSU (28-24 on Oct. 28, 2010).

– The game against Rutgers in Piscataway Saturday was Arkansas’ first in the Northeast since 1940, a 27-7 loss to Fordham.

– Cincinnati and Miami (OH) were scoreless through more than 55 minutes of clock time before the Bearcats scored two touchdowns in the last 4:55 to claim the non-conference win.

Lee Corso BisonIN CLOSING…
Yes, it spoke volumes about the level of games across the country, but kudos to not only ESPN for taking their College GameDay show on the road to Fargo, but to the thousands of Fargoites in attendance who created such a tremendous atmosphere for a national television audience.  It was a great scene and great exposure for an FCS program like North Dakota State, which remains unbeaten and is coming off back-to-back national championships.  Well done by everyone involved.  Hopefully it won’t take another five years to get back to a lower-level campus.

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Another TCU receiver arrested on marijuana charge

Brandon Carter

TCU wide receiver Brandon Carter was arrested Tuesday night and charged for possession of marijuana. He was released from jail Wednesday morning according to The Star-Telegram.

Carter was pulled over while driving a Lexus belonging to Alexis Harris. Harris was also charged for possession of marijuana and is the owner of the vehicle, which alerted police of a warrant hit during a routine patrol. Because of the warrant hit on the Lexus, police pulled over the car and discovered the marijuana allegedly in possession of Carter and Harris. Harris had other outstanding warrants, according to the Star-Telegram report.

This is another blow for Carter at TCU. Heading into the fall Carter was expected to be one of the top offensive players after taking some time off last season at the end of the season to deal with some personal issues. He has been absent from spring drills to focus on academics over football. The 2013 season started with Carter battling a hand injury as well.

Time will tell how TCU responds to this arrest of Carter. The Horned Frogs have already dismissed one receiver this spring. LaDarius Brown was removed from the roster in February following a marijuana possession arrest. If Carter is removed from the roster as well, the depth at receiver would take a serious hit, putting much pressure on Josh Doctson (sophomore) and Ty Slanina (freshman).

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Al Golden leaving door open for QB transfer options

Florida v Miami

Miami head coach Al Golden says the Hurricanes are more than willing to evaluate various quarterback options by way of transfers, but if the season started this week he feels he has a starter in Kevin Olsen.

“This time of year we always have our eyes open,” Golden said during an ACC coaches conference call Wednesday when asked about the possibility of adding a transfer quarterback to the roster before the fall. Golden said he could not comment on specific names he and his staff may be interested in, due to NCAA rules of course, but Golden’s reluctance to say the quarterback situation is solved was pretty much telling the story.

Ryan Williams suffered an ACL injury during the spring practice schedule that required surgery to repair. Williams was thought to be the likely started heading into the fall, but now he will focus on rehab instead. During the conference call Wednesday, Golden stated Olsen would likely be the starting quarterback to lead the Hurricanes on offense if the decision had to be made right now.

Olsen was given a redshirt season as a freshman in 2013, so he has not seen any playing time since committing to Miami. He brings plenty of potential to the field though a sa highly-rated recruit out of high school. Considered one of the top pro-style quarterbacks from the Class of 2012, Olsen could jump into the starting role this season and help build the foundation for the offense for years to come if all goes well.

Golden said what any coach would probably say in suggesting the staff and team will be comfortable with whoever ends up lining up under center in the fall. Miami opens the 2014 season on the road at Louisville, the first ACC game for the Cardinals.

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UCLA’s new football building plans coming along nicely

UCLA-Releases-Preliminary-Renderings (1)

UCLA is still raising money to go toward the development of a brand new, state-of-the-art football facility to serve as the new home for the Bruins football program. Since announcing plans to construct a new facility last September, UCLA claims to have received $40 million through donations and fundraisers.

“The tremendous commitment to our football program, be it from Coach [Jim] Mora, Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley or AD Dan Guerrero, has been well documented,” said Josh Rebholz, Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations at UCLA. “And I’m proud to report that our Bruin family is stepping up and committing as well. To raise $40 million in little more than six months for this facility is truly remarkable, but now more than ever, we need everyone who loves UCLA to keep pushing forward and not rest until we get this project completely funded.”

On Wednesday UCLA released some of the artist renderings for the new football facility, offering a chance to see jst what the school will be building with all of this money. These images are courtesy of UCLA Athletics.

UCLA-Releases-Preliminary-Renderings (1) UCLA-Releases-Preliminary-Renderings-3 UCLA-Releases-Preliminary-Renderings-4

UCLA’s football facility is being designed by ZGF Architects LLP. If that name sounds familiar, that is because they also were responsible for the designs of three separate facilities at Oregon, including the athletic medical center and academic center for student athletes in Eugene.

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Clemson’s Swinney responds to religious criticism

Dabo Swinney

Clemson’s football program has come under scrutiny by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, but head coach Dabo Swinney says players of all faiths are welcome in the program.

“Over the past week or two, there has been a lot of discussion of my faith,” Swinney wrote in the statement, as shared by The Post and Courier. “We have three rules in our program that everybody must follow: (1) players must go to class, (2) they must give a good effort and (3) they must be good citizens. It is as simple as that.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint with Clemson and suggested Swinney was guilty of not fostering a culture with a separation of church and state. The public university already responded to the complaint publicly, stating the operation and management of the football program by Swinney adheres to the Constitution when it comes to separation of church and state. Still, Swinney wanted to have his say and he states a player’s faith or lack of faith is never an issue when it comes to putting together his football program.

“I have recruited and coached players of many different faiths,” Swinney said. “Players of any faith or no faith at all are welcome in our program. All we require in the recruitment of any player is that he must be a great player at his position, meet the academic requirements, and have good character.”

There likely will not be much that comes out of this story as far as Clemson and Swinney are concerned, especially since it appears no players have voiced any discomfort with the way the program is run as far as faith and religion is concerned.

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Tennessee loses running back to transfer

Alden Hill

Redshirt sophomore running back Alden Hill has left the Tennessee football program and will seek a transfer to another suitable football program. Hill announced his decision on his Instagram account and Butch Jones confirmed the roster change.

The three-star running back product out of Ohio rushed for 58 yards and a touchdown on 10 rushing attempts in 2013. He appeared in just the first three games of the season for Tennessee and was one of six running backs returning to the Vols this season. Hill saw limited production in the spring game to end spring practices and with the depth at the position may have seen now as a good time to find a better footing in a backfield somewhere else. Hill was buried on the depth chart at Tennessee and with the amount of talent the Vols have been bringing in, there are some crowded positions on the roster.

Per NCAA transfer rules, Hill will have to sit out the fall if he transfers to another FBS program. He would be eligible to play immediately if he transfers to an FCS or lower division school.

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Report: New Joe Paterno statue coming to State College

Penn State University To Decide On Fate Of Football Program And Joe Paterno Statue Getty Images

In the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, the university decided to remove the statue of Joe Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium and lock it up in storage for an undetermined amount of time. While there has been no word on when that statue may see the light of day again, a bronze likeness of the former Penn State head coach is planned to be unveiled in November 2015.

According to a report by Onward State, the statue will depict Paterno sitting on a bench outside of the Tavern Restaurant in State College and will be designed by sculptor Zenos Frudakis. Donations for the project will be raised through a Kickstarter campaign later this summer with a total cost of $300,000 needed to pay for the statue. The project has already been approved by the State College Borough, but the statue must be installed on private property.

The motivation to install a new Paterno statue is a direct response to the school’s decision to remove the original statue from outside the football stadium once the NCAA sanctions were released against the university and football program.

“There’s been some level of frustration among Penn Staters with what happened with the statue at the stadium,” Ted Sebastianelli said to Onward State. Sebastianelli is a candidate for the Penn State Board of Trustees and a former president of the Penn State Football Lettermen’s Club. “We wanted to come up with a way to honor Joe for all that he did for the State College community. It wasn’t just the university he impacted — it was the whole town.”

The Paterno family is not involved with the organization of this statue. Penn State has said in the past the university will find a way to honor Paterno, although there has been no public movement on that front by the school since the original statue was torn down.

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‘Personal reasons’ cost Wyoming another player

Nico Brown

With spring practices across the country ending, so too are the careers of some players at those particular schools as transfer season is once again in full swing.

One of the latest to suffer a bit of a personnel hit is Wyoming, which announced Tuesday that Nico Brown – not to be confused with New Jack City‘s Nino Brown — has decided to leave the Cowboys football program.  The ubiquitous “personal reasons” was given for the departure.

The 6-3, 212-pound Brown was listed No. 3 on a mid-April depth chart released by new head coach Craig Bohl, which could be a significant part of the “personal reasons” given by the school.

After redshirting as a two-star true freshman in 2012, Brown played in eight games in 2013.  He did not catch any passes last season, although he appeared in line for additional playing time in 2014 before his abrupt decision to leave.

Brown becomes the fourth Cowboy to leave the program the past month, joining a pair of offensive tackles — senior Walker Madden and redshirt freshman Connor Riese — and junior linebacker Devin McKenna. The departures of Madden and McKenna were announced earlier this month.

(Photo credit: Wyoming athletics)

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Wake losing likely D-line starter to transfer

Jacob Coker, James Looney AP

Yep, another transfer.

While this one’s not yet officially official, West Virginia radio personality Dave Weekley tweeted Tuesday afternoon that defensive lineman James Looney has decided to leave Wake Forest.  ACCSports.com is reporting the same, although it’s behind the dreaded paywall HERE.

Even as Wake has yet to publicly address Looney’s status, his name is no longer listed on the team’s official online roster.

Last season as a true freshman, Looney, the younger brother of former Wake and current San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Joe Looney, played in seven games.  Because of the departures of three starters, Looney was viewed as a likely starter along the Demon Deacons’ defensive line.

However, SBNation.com wrote that Looney “had not been at practices or scrimmages as of late.”

Coming out of high school in Lake Worth, Fla., Looney was a three-star member of Wake’s 2013 recruiting class.  According to Weekley, Looney had offers from, among others, Marshall, Minnesota, USF and West Virginia before signing with the Demon Deacons.

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LaTech QB Scotty Young puts an end to playing career

Louisiana Tech v North Carolina State

On Louisiana Tech’s post-spring depth chart, Scotty Young was listed as the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Ryan Higgins.  Less than two weeks later, the Bulldogs will officially have a new backup quarterback when summer camp commences in August.

In a surprising press release sent out Tuesday evening, Young announced in a statement that he has decided to bring his playing career to an end.  Young, who would’ve been a redshirt senior in 2014 will graduate in the coming months and has decided it’s time to begin the next phase his life.

In mid-March, quarterback Cody Sokol transferred from Iowa to Tech and has immediate eligibility; it’s unclear if Sokol’s addition to the roster hastened Young’s life decision.

“I am graduating this summer and am ready to move on to the next chapter of my life,” Young said of his decision. “Football has been a really good journey but sometimes you have to know when to end it. I have loved the experience and will cherish these memories forever. I want to thank the old staff for allowing me the opportunity to come to Louisiana Tech and I want to thank Coach Holtz and his staff for giving me the opportunity to stay here and earn my degree. It has been a great experience for me, one in which I have enjoyed every moment of.”

Last season, Young started six games for the Bulldogs. He completed 87-of-165 passes for 733 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Young transferred to Tech in June of 2012 after spending the previous two seasons at Texas Tech but not playing. He was forced to sit out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

A four-star member of the Red Raiders’ 2010 recruiting class, Young was the No. 10 pro-style QB coming out of high school in Denton, Tex.

“I want to thank Scotty for his time here,” Bulldogs head coach Skip Holtz said in a statement. “He was a selfless player during his tenure and I am happy he will be able to obtain his degree from Louisiana Tech in only four years in college. He was a model student-athlete and representative of our program and I wish him the best of luck. Scotty will be another one of our great alumni, adding to the thousands of great alumni this University has produced.”

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Louisville to pay Todd Grantham nearly $1 million in 2014

Todd Grantham

Prying a defensive coordinator away from an SEC football program didn’t come cheap for Louisville.

By way of a public records request, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Monday that new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will earn $975,000 in 2014.  As Georgia’s coordinator in 2013, Grantham pulled in$850,000.

In mid-January, it was officially announced that Grantham would be a part of Bobby Petrino’s second first staff with the Cardinals.

Last season, Grantham was fifth among all FBS assistant coaches in total pay; his UofL salary would’ve put him fourth.  This year, however, he will be the sixth-highest paid, at best.  After earning $600,000 in 2013, LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron‘s pay jumps to $1.3 million in 2014 and then $1.5 million in 2015.  Additionally, new Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is expected to exceed $1 million in annual pay when the details of his three-year contract are released later this offseason.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, for those interested, was the highest-paid assistant last season at $1.3 million.  Alabama’s Kirby Smart at just a shade over $1.15 million was the highest-paid defensive coordinator.

One final note from the Courier-Journal: Petrino’s two coordinators — Grantham and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee  – will make $1.625 million; Charlie Strong‘s coordinators made just over $1 million in his last season with the Cardinals before leaving for the Texas job.

(Tip O the Cap: the Athens Banner-Herald’s Marc Weiszer)

(Photo credit: Louisville athletics)

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2014 Tulane early enrollee Teddy Veal charged with rape

Niguel Veal

For the second time today, a player at an FBS program has been charged with sexually assaulting a female.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Tulane wide receiver Teddy Veal was arrested early this morning and charged with one count of simple rape.  The 17-year-old Veal — he will be 18 next month — is being held in the Orleans Parish Prison in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

The alleged sexual assault occurred April 14, with the police account below of what led to the arrest and charge:

According to New Orleans police, the alleged victim was introduced by a female she knew to Veal and another man. The alleged victim began drinking and then went back to the men’s dorm room in the 6800 block of St. Charles Avenue to watch a movie.

The victim told police that while at the dorm, she had consensual sex with one of the men and then went to sleep. When she woke up she was sexually assaulted by Veal, police said.

Veal was a member of Tulane’s most recent signing class and was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.  Not so unexpectedly, the school announced this evening that Neal has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“Federal law prohibits the university from disclosing any disciplinary action taken against a student regarding his or her enrollment in the university,” a portion of a statement from the school read.

Veal was the highest-rated player in the Green Wave’s 2014 recruiting class, and was expected to see significant playing time immediately. He is the younger brother of Alabama wide receiver Raheem Falkins, and his Tulane bio lists his legal guardian as “former LSU football standout Shrone Carey.”

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Greg McElroy taps Auburn as SEC favorite

Greg McElroy Nick Saban AP

When it was announced that Greg McElroy would be taking on the role of analyst on the fledgling SEC Network, there were some — including Auburn fans — wondering how unbiased (or biased) the former Alabama quarterback could and would be.

At first blush, it doesn’t appear bias will be an issue for McElroy.

During a radio interview Tuesday, McElroy was asked about the SEC West race in 2014.  Not so surprisingly, McElroy went with one of the teams that played for the final BCS title — and is the most bitter of his alma mater’s rivals — as his favorite to come out of the West.

“Once quarterback situations are established at LSU, at Alabama — and Ole Miss is also kind of a scary team out in the West as well,” McElroy said. “Bo Wallace comes back and some of the things they were able to do. The West is wide open and it’s difficult, but I definitely think the Auburn Tigers are the favorite.”

McElroy makes solid points when it comes to the quarterback situations at the two schools that should serve as the Tigers’ chief competition in 2014 and, yes, I’m dismissing Ole Miss. Both Alabama and LSU are replacing veteran starters, three-year starter AJ McCarron for the former and two-year starter Zach Mettenberger for the latter. On the flip side, Auburn returns its starter, Nick Marshall — the first time, incidentally, Gus Malzahn has returned the same starter from the season before during his nine years as a coordinator or head coach at the FBS level.

In fact, Malzahn being on The Plains factors significantly in McElroy’s pick for SEC West frontrunner.

“I think he’s the most innovative play-caller in college football,” McElroy said of Malzahn. “I think he’s a tremendous football coach and he’s had a lot of success over the course of his career and what they did last year was really special, so I think they are the frontrunners without question at this point.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)

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Report: ex-Tide lineman expected to join Buckeyes

Alabama v Auburn Getty Images

It appears that, the way it have on the field the past decade, Ohio State is going to get over on bitter rival Michigan on the transfer front as well.

Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com tweeted Tuesday afternoon that offensive lineman Chad Lindsay has decided to transfer to Ohio State and continue his playing career with the Buckeyes.  OSU, obviously, has yet to officially confirm Lindsay’s addition to the roster, although that could happen by week’s end.

In mid-March, it was announced that Lindsay would be leaving the Tide and playing his final season of college ball elsewhere.  As Lindsay will be a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2014.

Michigan was reportedly the favorite to land Lindsay from the get-go — UA’s offensive coordinator a year ago, Doug Nussmeier, left for the same job with the Wolverines — although both Louisville and Oklahoma were a part of the transfer discussion as well.

Lindsay’s addition would give the Buckeyes an experienced option in the middle of a revamped offensive line that will see four new starters in 2014. In place of injured starter Ryan Kelly, Lindsay started four games at center in 2013 for Nick Saban‘s Tide. A three-star member of the Tide’s 2010 recruiting class coming out of high school in The Woodlands, Tex., Lindsay was rated as the No. 30 guard in the country that year.

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Charlie Strong: Texas ‘will not be in the national championship game’ this season

Charlie Strong AP

Memo to Longhorn Nation: do not book flights to Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex or reserve hotel rooms in that area for the time around Jan. 12, 2015; you’re head coach says your team won’t be there.

While not exactly a statement that goes against conventional wisdom when it comes to the 2014 college football season, Charlie Strong surprised some observers Monday when he talked about expectations for his first season at Texas.  Or, more to the point, he significantly lowered the first-year expectations of the media and fans alike.

We have everything available, and I don’t know why we can’t be successful,” Strong said while speaking to fans on his tour of Fort Worth. “There’s no reason for us not to be. Now, I can’t tell you how soon it’s going to be. Don’t hold me to that. Don’t say, ‘Ooh, coach said next year we’ll be in the national…’ We will not be in the national championship game.”

While some will criticize Strong for a defeatist attitude, others — myself included — will applaud the first-year UT coach for injecting some reality into a fan base that ofttimes suffers delusions of grandeur.

The Longhorns haven’t been a factor nationally since the 2009 season.  The past four years, they’ve sported a 30-21 record and earned three postseason berths — two to the Alamo Bowl, one to the Holiday Bowl.  While they played for a Big 12 title the final day of the regular season, that had more to do with other conference teams stumbling.

In other words, UT has a tough row to hoe to get back to where they belong nationally — especially with an unsettled quarterback position heading into his inaugural season in Austin.  Good on Strong — not an overwhelmingly popular hire to begin with — for shooting straight with his new fan base and not blowing the kind of rectal sunshine for which most coaches are infamous.

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Lobo RB Crusoe Gongbay facing rape, kidnapping charges

Crusoe Gongbay AP

As you can tell from the headline, a prominent member of the New mexico football program is facing some very serious charges, the Albuquerque Journal is reporting.

According to the paper, running back Crusoe Gongbay and another 21-year-old suspect — a non-UNM student —  have been charged with two counts each of second-degree criminal sexual penetration and one count each of kidnapping.  The 20-year-old Gongbay turned himself in to campus police on the charges.

A third suspect is being sought in connection to the incident.  Gongbay is currently jailed in lieu a $50, 000, while the second suspect is being held on a $100,000 bond.

The incident that led to the charges allegedly occurred the weekend before last.  From KOB-TV:

According to investigators, during the early hours of Sunday April 13, a female student reported to a Community Assistant at her dorm that she was the victim of a criminal sexual penetration. UNM Police transported the student to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Unit, where evidence was collected.

Because of the serious nature of the charges Gongbay is facing, the junior has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“We are aware of the allegations involving Crusoe Gongbay” head coach Bob Davie said in a statement released by the school. “Once this process is complete and all the details have emerged, we will handle the outcome appropriately. As this is an ongoing situation, we will not be able to comment any further at this time.”

Last season, Gongbay was third on the team in rushing yards (592) and rushing touchdowns (six).  Gongbay is — or at least was — expected to be the Lobos’ starting running back.

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