USC Introduces New Basketball Coach Andy Enfield

Pat Haden asks NCAA for ‘consideration’ of USC sanctions


Penn State received some “time off” for good behavior from the NCAA earlier this week.

USC is hoping for something similar — we think — from The Association.

In a statement posted to USC’s official football website, athletic director Pat Haden acknowledged that he had discussions with officials from the NCAA earlier this week.  While the meeting had been scheduled weeks earlier, Haden said, part of his time with the NCAA was spent discussing the easing of scholarship restrictions on Penn State and what if anything could be done — immediately — to the Trojans’ own scholarship restrictions.

As a result of the Reggie Bush impermissible benefits case, the Trojans were slapped with harsh sanctions in 2010, including a two-year bowl ban (already served) and the reduction of 10 scholarships per year.

While the sanctions come to an end this year, Haden proposed “‘outside the box’ solutions to scholarship issues” the AD claims is not in the best interests of our student-athlete’s welfare.  From Haden’s statement:

“After learning of the NCAA’s actions on Tuesday (Sept. 24) regarding Penn State and the lessening of the sanctions that were imposed on that institution, when viewed in the context of the events that have shaken intercollegiate athletics over the past year, we felt compelled to discuss USC’s sanctions in a new light.  As I have stated on numerous occasions, I believe the penalties imposed on our football program in 2010 were unprecedented and inconsistent with NCAA precedent in prior cases.  I also believe the sanctions have resulted in unintended consequences both for our football program and our student-athletes.  Although the sanctions reduced our total football scholarship limit to 75 (down from 85), attrition resulting from injuries and transfers has resulted in less than 60 recruited scholarship student-athletes suiting up for our games.  The current situation is certainly not what was envisioned, nor is it in the best interests of our student-athletes’ welfare.

“In reducing Penn State’s scholarship penalties, the NCAA specifically noted the ‘progress’ it had made regarding athletics integrity.  Since the Committee on Infractions (COI) issued its sanctions in 2010, USC has been held up as a model and praised for its integrity and commitment to compliance, a fact often mentioned by the NCAA itself.  Although USC had two unsuccessful bites at the apple (the original COI hearing and the appeal to the Infractions Appeals Committee), given the changing landscape impacting intercollegiate sports over the past year, the recent action regarding Penn State, the impact of the sanctions on our program and the efforts we have under taken at USC to compete with integrity, we again argued for some consideration regarding the 2010 sanctions during the last year of our penalty.”

Haden went on to state that the NCAA was open to the school’s initial proposal as “the NCAA asked us to provide additional information and indicated it would study our suggestions.  Just what “out of the box” remedy Haden is seeking in the here and now is unclear.

The AD, though, wants an answer, one way or the other, from the NCAA as soon as possible,

“Because time is of the essence regarding these issues, we have asked for the NCAA’s response as soon as practical,” Haden wrote.

The NCAA opened up a big can of worms by “correcting” a portion of Penn State’s historic sanctions.  USC won’t be the first program to go to the NCAA to seek relief from what they consider unfair sanctions; how the NCAA handles USC — and Boise State and Miami (if the NCAA ever gets down to issuing a ruling) and on and on — will be fascinating on myriad levels, not the least of which is simply watching The Association making sh… stuff up as they go along.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.