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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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LSU defensive tackle says he’s doing well after horrific injury

LSU Logo

LSU freshman defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao “cut his arm to the bone” when he punched a glass window outside the team’s weight room on Monday, but thankfully won’t require amputation.

On Tuesday morning. Lealaimatafao sent out a tweet with some more good news:

According to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the 17-year-old Lealaimatafao punched the window after becoming upset with his girlfriend.

The 6-foot, 300-pound native of San Antonio was rated by Rivals as a three-star member of LSU’s 2014 recruiting class, the 26th-best defensive tackle and 43rd-best player in Texas.

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Steve Spurrier: ‘Dabo still thinks there are nine planets out there’

AP Photo/Richard Shiro AP

At ACC Media Days, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said his relationship with Steve Spurrier was like they were from different planets — Pluto and Mars.

Pluto, of course, hasn’t been a planet since 2006. But leave it to Spurrier to remind Swinney of that:

Spurrier used his time going through ESPN’s “Car Wash” to take another jab at Clemson, too.

Clemson hasn’t beat South Carolina since 2008…when Pluto was only two years removed from having its planetary status stripped.

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Georgia defensive lineman arrested for aggravated assault

Georgia Bulldogs logo

Georgia reserve defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor was arrested for the second time this offseason early Tuesday morning.

Taylor was arrested in Athens and charged with aggravated assault, a felony, and was booked into the Clarke County Jail at 6:08 a.m. this morning. The Athens Banner-Herald’s Marc Weiszer has more details:

There was evidence that the female victim had been “possibly strangled by the offender,” in the incident in Taylor’s dorm room, Williamson said. There was evidence that the victim and another individual had been involved in an argument in McWhorter Hall, police said. Officers determined an established relationship and “co-habitation” with the individuals.

The victim is a UGA student not enrolled in summer school.

Taylor was one of four players arrested in March on theft by deception charges but avoided suspension from the football team after entering a pre-trial intervention program. According to Weiszer, any arrest or citation constitutes a violation of that program.

The 6-foot-5, 340-pound Taylor came to Georgia in 2012 rated as a four-star recruit and was ranked by Rivals as the 72nd-best player in that year’s recruiting class. He notched nine tackles and one sack for Georgia in 2013.

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LSU kicker transfers to Rice

UAB v LSU

Hey, it’s just a kicker, but still.

In a press release Monday, Rice announced that James Hairston has transferred into the Owls football program.  Hairston had spent the past three seasons at LSU as the Tigers’ kickoff specialist.

A desire to kick field goals and extra points led Hairston to Rice, where his grandfather (1953-55) and an uncle (1993-95) were three-year letter winners on the football team.

Because Hairston received a degree from LSU this past May, he will be eligible to play for Rice immediately in 2014.  Barring a serious injury that leads to a medical waiver, this upcoming season will serve as Hairston’s last year of collegiate eligibility.

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OU’s leading tackler, Frank Shannon, still a Sooner

.J. Yeldon, Frank Shannon AP

When last we dipped our toes into the Frank Shannon “situation,” the linebacker’s future at Oklahoma was “in limbo” after he was accused of sexual assault.  The Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney’s Office, however, declined to pursue charges following a weeks-long investigation.

There was still a chance that Shannon could’ve been booted from the team based on the results of a federally-mandated Title IX investigation into the alleged assault.  It appears, though, those fears were unwarranted.

According to the Oklahoman, the Sooners released their 2014 media guide Tuesday and Shannon’s profile was included in the reference book.  Still, the paper wrote, “OU refused to release any information regarding the outcome of that investigation last week, saying no final disciplinary action had been determined yet.”

In other words, there is still a chance Shannon could be suspended for a game or two. He didn’t play in the spring game earlier this offseason, nor did he participate in a handful of practices leading up to it due to the police probe.

Even if Shannon is slapped with some type of suspension, having him for the majority of the season would be a boon to OU’s defense. As a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Shannon started all 13 games and led the Sooners in tackles with 92.

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With NCAA waiver approved, former Tide recruit can go on scholarship

Elisha Shaw

Tired of all of the arrests and court cases and the like in college football?  Here’s a pretty cool story to lift you spirits.

Elisha Shaw was a three-star defensive tackle in the Class of 2014 who held a scholarship offer from, among others, Alabama and had planned on signing with the Tide this past February.  Unfortunately, a serious neck injury forced him to quit football and give up his dream of playing for Nick Saban.

In a classy gesture, UA decided to honor its scholarship commitment to Shaw.  However, if they did that, NCAA rules stipulate that Shaw would count against the football program’s 85-man scholarship limit even if he didn’t play a single down.

Fortunately for all involved, common sense prevailed as the NCAA recently approved the Tide’s request for a waiver.  In essence, Shaw will be on a non-football scholarship that will not count against the Tide’s 85-man limit.

Shaw addressed the development on his Twitter account Monday:

Bravo to the NCAA for proving his has some (miniscule) semblance of a heart and/or brain.  And kudos to Saban and the Tide for doing the classy thing in the first place by honoring the young man’s scholarship offer.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Football recruit suspected in theft at UGA dorm

iPhone theft

Back in early April of 2011, three football recruits were accused of stealing several items, including iPhones and iPods, from the lockers of several Georgia football players during what was described as an open-house event on the campus.

Unbelievably, three years later, a similar incident has occurred… at the same school no less.

According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, an unnamed football recruit is the prime suspect in the burglary of an UGA dorm. The recruit was on the campus attending an UGA football camp and staying with two current Bulldog football players..

Because the player is a juvenile and lives out of state, he likely won’t face extradition or arrest.

From the Banner-Herald:

Two female Georgia athletes — one a gymnast and the other a soccer player — reported to a residence assistant that an unknown black male entered their Busbee Hall suite at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday and took an iPhone5 and a wallet with two credit cards in it, according to a police incident report. Police were dispatched soon after that morning to meet with the R.A. The victims stated the main entry door to the suite and their respective bedroom doors were unlocked.

UGA police chief Jimmy Williamson told the paper he “feel[s] very confident saying [the football recruit is] our responsible party.”  The sad part is, it doesn’t appear the unnamed recruit will be held responsible for his alleged actions.

Weird, weird story.

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Consensus of Salem, Ore., Dairy Queens? Never heard of Bryce Petty

International Dairy Queen Inc.'s 6000th Store Opening

Still miffed over what he perceived as a Heisman invitation snub for Bryce Petty, Baylor head coach Art Briles challenged those in attendance at the BIG 12 Media Days Monday to “[g]o to a Dairy Queen in Salem, Oregon, and ask if they’ve heard of” the Bears’ starting quarterback.

Radio personality and Oregonian writer John Canzano — or, more specifically, one of his assistants — took up that challenge. The results? Let’s just say you’ll have to go outside that area to find a charter member of the “Bryce Petty Fan Club.”

As Canzano explained, his production assistant called the six official Dairy Queen franchises in Salem and asked employees if they’ve ever heard of Petty. Suffice to say, hilarity — and a little bit of an egg-flavored Blizzard on Briles’ face — ensued.

“I’ve never heard of him,” said one male (West Salem) Dairy Queen employee, who was asked if he knew Petty or Briles. “You know you called a fast food restaurant, right? Are those like owners of Dairy Queens or employees?”

Another male Dairy Queen employee at the Mission Street location said, “I’m not familiar with it at all, I can ask my manager.”

The manager said, “I have no idea. I don’t know.”

The best employee reaction when asked if anyone knew Bryce Petty.

“Like a dog?”

So, there you have it, in scientific black and white — Dairy Queen employees in the great city of Salem, Or., have no earthly clue who the hell Bryce Petty is.

Now, the obvious question becomes: has anyone in a (name a city in), Tex., Hardee’s ever heard of Marcus Mariota?  Hey, this could be kind of a fun game.

By the way, kudos to Baylor and Petty for having a little fun with this situation, which you can view on Instagram HERE.

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UPDATE: Injured LSU frosh DT not facing amputation

LSU Trey

I’ve dealt with quite a few sad stories over the past five-plus years I’ve been with CFT and NBC, but this one ranks right up there amongst the ones that didn’t involve a death.

While the details are extremely scant at the moment, Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, citing multiple sources, is reporting that LSU true freshman Trey Lealaimatafao is facing the amputation of an arm following an incident in the Tigers’ weight room earlier today. The only information relating to the incident at this time is that Lealaimatafao reportedly punched a glass window in the team’s weight room.

Not that it really matters at the moment, but what led to the punch, whether it was directed at a teammate or out of frustration/anger, is unknown.

LSU’s officials have declined to comment on the player’s status, although a statement addressing the issue could be released as early as tonight.

Lealaimatafao was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 26 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 43 player in the state of Texas at any position.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lealaimatafao during this most difficult time.

UPDATED 8:22 p.m. ET: Fortunately, there’s some good news on this front.

Updating his story from just a short time ago, Kleinpeter is reporting that, per an LSU athletic department official, Lealaimatafao is not in danger of losing his arm to amputation.  Kleinpeter also provided a couple of additional details that led to an injury that, while not nearly serious as previously reported, will likely keep the defensive lineman out for the 2014 season:

Sources who were present said Lealaimatafao, a four-star recruit from San Antonio, Texas, was upset about a disagreement with his girlfriend, and punched the window between the weight room and indoor practice facility. The sources said the glass “tore through” Lealaimatafao’s bicep and they could see the bone underneath.

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‘In short period of time,’ Malzahn will have Marshall’s punishment ‘figured out’

Nick Marshall AP

During his appearance at the SEC Media Days exactly a week ago, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn stated Nick Marshall would “have to deal with the consequences” of the starting quarterback’s marijuana citation earlier this month.  That said, Malzahn wasn’t prepared to say what if any punishment the player may be facing.

Monday it was lather, rinse repeat on the latter front, although it appears the coach is getting closer — perhaps real close — to making a decision.

“He’ll have some things he’ll have to pay for,” Malzahn said during an ESPN interview Monday. “I have not decided that for sure right now, but it will be in a short period of time I’ll have that figured out.”

There has been speculation that Malzahn, even as the school’s drug policy may not require it, could sit Marshall for the season opener against Arkansas. If that were to be the case, the Tigers would be forced to turn to Jeremy Johnson.

At least outwardly, Malzahn didn’t seem the least bit concerned about that prospect.

“(Johnson is) another outstanding quarterback I think will play at the next level,” he said. “He played two games last year and was the SEC Offensive Freshman of the Week. We’re in good shape there.”

Marshall, who was described as “teary-eyed” and “very regretful” during his encounter with the police, did not attend the SEC Media Days as scheduled as punishment for the citation.

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Facing five felonies, Okla. St.’s Devon Thomas ‘not a part of our team’

Devon Thomas

At least for now, the status of an Oklahoma State player facing much bigger issues than football has been cleared up.

At the Big 12 Media Days Tuesday, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy was asked about Devon Thomas, the true freshman who earlier this offseason was charged with a grand total of five felonies.  While not mentioning the defensive back by name, Gundy stated that if a player isn’t on the latest roster distributed to the media, he’s not on the team.

“The roster that we handed out today are the players that will report next week,” the coach said. “And if there’s a player that’s not on that roster, then he’s not a part of our team.”

In late May, Thomas was initially arrested on a pair of felony complaints — armed robbery and shooting with intent to kill — following what appears to be a drug deal gone horribly awry. It was subsequently reported that three additional felony complaints were filed against Thomas: kidnapping, first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Four other males — two 18 years of age, two 17 – were arrested on similar complaints.

It was subsequently revealed that Thomas had been charged with distribution of child pornography in the months leading up to his junior year in high school.  Additionally, court documents showed, Thomas “had been referred to juvenile court… once before [the child porn charge], on July 6, 2011, on an allegation of an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors ultimately declined to file a charge on that allegation.”

Thomas, an early enrollee, was a three-star member of the Cowboys’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 30 running back in the country by Rivals.com. He participated in spring practice and was expected to make an immediate contribution to the Cowboys’ defensive secondary.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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One arrested A&M player leaves Aggies, another suspended

Mississippi State v Texas A&M Getty Images

A pair of off-field incident have cost Texas A&M one defensive player permanently and another temporarily.

A&M announced Monday that defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury has decided to leave the Aggies football program.  Back in mid-April, Stansbury was one of three Aggies arrested on outstanding warrants following a traffic stop.

Stansbury is facing a misdemeanor charge for assault after being accused of pouring a can of beer on a person and then striking that person with his fist during a party at Rice University.

Playing in 10 games last season, Stansbury finished seventh on the team with 47 tackles and tied for the team lead with three sacks.  He had 42 of those tackles in the last seven games of the season, and seemed poised for a bigger role in A&M’s line rotation in 2014.

To where Stansbury, a three-star member of the Aggies’ 2010 recruiting class coming out of high school in Louisiana, will transfer is unknown.  Stansbury is the fourth defensive player who could’ve made a significant contribution in 2014 to leave this offseason; the first three — linebacker Darian Claiborne, defensive lineman Isaiah Golden and safety Kameron Miles — didn’t leave voluntarily, though, as they were dismissed by head coach Kevin Sumlin.

In addition to Stansbury, A&M also announced that defensive back Victor Davis has been indefinitely suspended. Yesterday it was reported that Davis was arrested at some point in the past two weeks for shoplifting at a Kohl’s department store.

Since December of last year, seven A&M players have been arrested on various charges, including one three times (Claiborne) and another twice (Golden).

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Bowling Green RB arrested for attempted rape

MAC Championship - Bowling Green v Northern Illinois Getty Images

Even as it garners exponentially more attention, it’s not just players from Power-Five conferences who find themselves facing very serious and significant off-field legal issues.

Case in point?  Bowling Green’s William Houston, who the Toledo Blade reports was charged with attempted rape following an incident over the weekend.  Houston was arrested at his on-campus residence later in the day after the alleged victim called police.

From the Blade:

Bowling Green police Lt. Brad Biller said officers were called to a home in the 200 block of Manville Drive at 5:03 a.m. Sunday. The victim told police she had been at the Manville address for a party and fell asleep. She awoke when a man “tried to force himself on her,” according to a police report. The victim told police she did not know the man, and she fled after she woke up.

The victim returned to the Manville address where she met and talked to police. People at the home identified the suspect as Mr. Houston, a sophomore running back on the football team.

As for Houston’s status with the team, a school spokesperson would only state that “[w]e are waiting for more details. We’re anticipating more details to come out of it in the next few days. It’s pretty early in the process.”

Despite carrying the ball just 49 times as a true freshman last season, Houston, who played in all 14 games, tied for the team lead with 11 rushing touchdowns.  In his first-ever college game, Houston scored three touchdowns against Tulsa.

He was expected to be a bigger piece of the Falcons’ offensive puzzle in 2014.

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Art Briles challenges you to go to a Dairy Queen in Salem, Ore. and ask about Bryce Petty

Bryce Petty, Kelvin Palmer AP

You won’t find a bigger supporter of Bryce Petty than Baylor coach Art Briles, who on Monday bristled at Petty’s perceived snub from the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York last year.

Petty finished seventh in Heisman voting, falling one spot short of an invite to watch Jameis Winston accept the honor. Briles is doing some early politicking for his quarterback, though, touting him as a Heisman candidate at Big 12 Media Day on Monday.

What could help Petty’s case is that he’s a household name among college football fans. But how much of a household name?

There are eight Dairy Queen locations in the Salem metropolitan area, for the record. Anyone want to try this?

Briles’ point, minus the hyperbole, is a good one, though. Petty’s breakout 2013 season — 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns, three interceptions — placed him on the national radar for the Heisman Trophy this year. The latest Bovada odds have Petty at 12/1 to win the Heisman, put him behind only Winston (4/1), Marcus Mariota (11/2), Braxton Miller (7/1) and Nick Marshall (10/1).

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Texas QB David Ash cleared to participate in preseason practice

Kansas State v Texas Getty Images

After missing most of the 2013 season with a concussion and part of spring practice with a fractured foot, Texas quarterback David Ash was medically cleared on Monday to take part in preseason practice.

Ash, a redshirt junior, appears to be the favorite to win Texas’ starting gig this fall. He’s started 21 games over the last three years and looked promising as a sophomore in 2012, completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,699 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

But a concussion suffered in Week 2 limited Ash to just three games in 2013, muting any chance he had of building off his solid sophomore season. He’ll have to fend off sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and incoming freshman Jerrod Heard, but given his experience and previous success looks like a good bet to do so.

 

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