Paul Pasqualoni fired as UConn’s coach

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One day after USC decided to make a change on the sidelines, a school on the other side of the country has done the same.

Confirming speculation that began bubbling just a short time ago, UConn announced in a press release that Paul Pasqualoni has been relieved of his duties as head football coach.

At a press conference scheduled to be held at four p.m. ET today, the school will announce an interim head coach.  One person that won’t be is George DeLeone, who the school simultaneously confirmed has been “has been relieved of his responsibilities” as associate head coach and offensive line coach.

“I am making this change in our football coaching staff now as we approach the conference season to see an improved performance from our football program,” said athletic director Warde Manuel in a statement. “I am disappointed in the record of our team thus far, but I am confident that our coaching staff and student-athletes will continue to work hard to improve and that will be reflected on the field of play as we start our American Athletic Conference season.”

As part of his dismissal, the school announced, Pasqualoni will receive a $750,000 buyout.

The firing ends Pasqualoni’s decidedly unsuccessful two-year-plus run with the Huskies.

After replacing Randy Edsall in 2011, Pasqualoni won five games in each of his first two seasons.  The Huskies were off to an 0-4 start in 2013, including an embarrassing 41-12 loss to Buffalo this past Saturday.  In the season opener, UConn was suffered a 15-point home loss to FCS-level Towson.

The move also comes a little over a week after UConn nearly upset Michigan in Storrs.

UPDATED 11:42 a.m. ET:  UConn released a statement from university president Susan Herbst in regards to Pasqualoni’s firing.

“A decision has been made and it’s now time to move on to a stronger future that starts today. What cannot be lost here is how incredibly proud we are of our student-athletes. They are outstanding young men in the midst of a very tough season. Being a Division I athlete and a student is an enormous challenge, and we know how hard they are working and how deeply they care about succeeding for their university.   

“What this team needs now as much as anything is the support of Husky fans everywhere. As we saw at our last home game, the amazing energy and highly-charged spirit of our fans breathes life into this team and that must continue and be repeated again and again. There is no substitute. Support from fans lifts players up and keeps a team going. It is essential to competing and achieving the levels of excellence we demand at UConn.”

‘As of now,’ Alabama transfer Shawn Jennings commits to South Alabama

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It appears that a former Alabama football player will remain in the Yellowhammer State to continue his collegiate playing career.  Probably.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Shawn Jennings had decided to transfer from Alabama.  On his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Jennings revealed that he has committed to playing football for the Sun Belt Conference’s South Alabama.

The linebacker also added a curious “[a]s of now” qualifier, indicating that, at the very least, the commitment could be described as soft at best.

If Jennings ends up on Joey Jones‘ USA team, or any other FBS program for that matter, he’d have to sit out the 2017 season.

A three-star member of the Tide’s 2016 recruiting class, Jennings was rated as the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Alabama.  As a true freshman, he took a redshirt.

Jennings’ older brother, redshirt sophomore Anfernee Jennings, is in line to start at outside linebacker for ‘Bama this season.

Camrin Knight transferring from Florida to Georgia State

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For the second time this week, one Sun Belt Conference program has apparently landed a Power Five transfer.

Per a report from 247Sports.com, Camrin Knight has decided to transfer out of the Florida football program. The Gainesville Sun subsequently confirmed the initial report.

The recruiting website also reported that Knight will be transferring to Georgia State. Earlier this week, it was also reported that South Carolina’s Pete Leota would be transferring to GSU as well.

Barring something unexpected, Knight will be forced to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws.

A three-star 2015 recruit, Knight played in eight games as a true freshman tight end. His playing time was cut exactly in half last season, and he moved to linebacker this past spring.

Nebraska linebacker Greg Simmons leaves the Huskers

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It has been a busy day for Nebraska football news here at College Football Talk, but here’s one more story to fill your plate. Redshirt freshman linebacker Greg Simmons is no longer with the Nebraska program, according to reports.

Sean Callahan of Huskers Online reported Simmons has left the football team, as confirmed by a Nebraska spokesperson. No reason for his departure was given.

Simmons did not play for Nebraska in 2016, in part due to a neck injury suffered in fall camp. After the spring practice season, Simmons was buried on the depth chart. Simmons was a three-star member of Nebraska’s Class of 2016 and chose the Huskers over offers from schools like Louisville, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, among others.

As of now, there is no indication where the Florida native will head next. Should he transfer to another FBS program, he will be required to sit out the 2017 season even though he did not play a down for the Huskers in 2016. However, if he transfers to a lower division program beneath the FBS ranks, he will be eligible to play right away in the fall. Simmons has three years of eligibility remaining after burning a redshirt season in 2016.

Clemson’s championship team leads to multiple ESPY nominations

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The ESPYS are coming. ESPN’s annual summer tradition of showering star athletes with Hollywood praise is coming in July, and fans now have a chance to vote for their picks in multiple categories. As is typically the case, the reigning national champions tend to be well-represented.

The Clemson Tigers appear multiple times among the finalists for various ESPY awards. Former quarterback Deshaun Watson, now with the NFL’s Houston Texans, is one of four finalists for the Best Championship Performance award. Despite passing for 420 yards and three touchdowns without an interception and running for 43 yards and a score against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last January, Watson is up against some stiff competition in the category. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, and Los Angeles Sparks player Candace Parker are the other finalists. Topping Brady or Durant may prove difficult for Watson considering the pedigree each of those two have. A player competing in the NBA Finals has won the award each of the past four seasons (three of them won by LeBron James). The only college football player to win the award was former Texas quarterback Vince Young in 2006 following his performance in the Rose Bowl against USC. Watson’s performance against Alabama was about as close to Young’s Rose Bowl as you can get, so maybe there is a chance.

Watson may stand a better chance of being named the Best Male College Athlete. He is the only college football player in the running and may have the most well-known name recognition across the nation compared to the others in contention, although Kansas basketball player Frank Mason could stand a chance.

Clemson’s victory over Alabama is also one of three finalists for Best Upset. The only other finalists for the award are the Mississippi State women’s basketball team upsetting the UConn women in the women’s Final Four and Denis Istomin toppling Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open. Clemson has a chance here, although the UConn women losing was a stunner. No college football game is up for Best Game despite a thrilling national championship game and a Rose Bowl for the ages. But then again, it’s hard to argue against Game 7 of the World Series and the Super Bowl, with a Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal Australian Open Final coming out as the three finalists.

Clemson is also up for Best Team, but against the Chicago Cubs, Warriors, Pittsburgh Penguins, Patriots, South Carolina women’s basketball and the United States women’s gymnastics team. It’s a loaded field.

Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is in the hunt for an ESPY though. His hurdle of a defender is in a tournament-style bracket of 16 plays for the Best Play ESPY. Given the No. 14 seed, Jackson is up against a pass by Aaron Rogers to Jared Cook that led to a playoff victory against the Dallas Cowboys, so once again it looks like a tough draw. Here’s the Jackson hurdle against Syracuse…

The ESPYS will air on Wednesday, July 12.