Sometimes, believe it or not, there are things more important than football.
Earlier Thursday, speculation began making the rounds that Danny Hope might be forced to leave South Florida because of an unspecified “family matter.” A short time later, USF announced in a press release that Hope is indeed leaving the Bulls “in order to be closer to his family.”
Hope had just completed his first season as head coach’s Willie Taggart‘s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
“I would like to thank Danny for his significant contributions to the success of our program over the past season,” Taggart said. “We appreciated having him as part of our staff and I know he enjoyed being a Bull. He loved it here and I loved having him, but sometimes you have to make choices in regards to what’s best for your family. I respect Danny’s desire to do what’s best for him and his family. We wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
Taggart had a pair of offensive coordinators on his staff, Hope and David Reaves. Reaves will presumably be promoted to solo coordinator as well as maintaining the title of passing game coordinator, while Taggart intends to continue on as the Bulls’ primary play-caller.
“I expect to be able to complete our staff very quickly with an excellent offensive line coach,” Taggart said. “I will continue to call the plays and work closely with our offense, and we will build our staff around that same structure.”
The NCAA Football Rules Committee’s annual passage of potential new rules for the sport will once again include a potentially controversial measure.
Following four days worth of meetings in Orlando, the NCAA announced Thursday that the committee has approved several proposals that, if approved Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP), will go into effect for the 2016 season. As has previously been expected, one of the proposals the committee voted on and approved was to “expand the authority of the instant replay official, requiring them to review all aspects of targeting fouls.”
In a review of the controversial targeting rule, the NCAA found that, in what it described as a “small number of cases,” players were wrongly ejected from games. Those ejections came after the original targeting call on the field was reviewed by the replay official. Now? The committee has recommended that the same replay officials be given the power “to stop the game and create a targeting foul in situations where an egregious action has occurred” but was missed by the on-field officiating crew.
“The targeting rule is serving the game well, and has enhanced player safety,” said Bob Nielson, chair of the committee and head coach at the University of South Dakota, in a statement. “Because this is such a severe penalty, we are instructing replay officials to review plays to ensure that the required elements of targeting exist. We are also adding the ability for the replay official to stop the game when a potential targeting foul is not detected on the field.”
In another tweak that could ultimately lead to a significant technological development in the not-too-distant future, the committee has approved a proposal that would allow electronic devices — i.e. tablets — in the press box and locker rooms during game day. What will still not be permitted is such devices being utilized on the sidelines, something the NFL approved two years ago and which the college version of the game is expected to ultimately adopt. In that vein, the NCAA wrote in its release that “[t]he committee will continue monitoring the use of those devices next year in addition to other potential technology enhancements it believes could improve the game.”
Last year, the rules committee had approved a proposal that would’ve adjusted the ineligible receiver downfield rule from 3 yards to 1 yard. That controversial proposal was met with significant push-back from HUNH coaches, and was ultimately tabled by the PROP. The ineligible receiver downfield rule will remain the same as in the past, the NCAA has reaffirmed, although “the committee [has] decided to instruct officials to stringently enforce the 3-yard limit and adjust officiating mechanics to better officiate those plays.”
Three additional proposals aimed at greater player safety were approved:
• First, the rules dealing with low blocks were adjusted to prohibit a player who leaves the tackle box from blocking below the waist toward the initial position of the ball.
• Second, the rules pertaining to a defenseless player will include a ball carrier who has clearly given himself up by sliding feet first.
• Finally, the deliberate tripping of the ball carrier (with the leg) was approved as a foul.
All of the proposals approved by the rules committee will be considered by the PROP on March 8. Again, if approved, the proposed changes would be implemented for the 2016 season.
Wednesday brought word that Texas A&M’s defensive line coach was hired for the same job at Indiana. The dawn of a new day has brought word that Kevin Sumlin has addressed his line vacancy on the other side of the ball, and with a very familiar face at that.
Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com was the first to report that Sumlin has decided to bring Jim Turner back as his offensive line coach. FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman subsequently confirmed the initial report.
Turner would replace Dave Christensen, who “parted ways” with the program earlier this month. According to 247Sports.com, Turner “was chosen over former Tennessee Titans offensive line coach Bob Bostad and current McNeese State offensive line coach Eman Naghavi” to be Christensen’s replacement.
Turner spent the 2008-11 seasons as the line coach at A&M under Mike Sherman. After Sherman’s firing in December of 2011, Turner followed the ex-Aggies head coach to the Miami Dolphins, where the former was the line coach and the latter the offensive coordinator.
After two seasons with the NFL club, Turner was fired after getting swept up in the maelstrom that was the Dolphins’ bullying and harassment scandal. Turner subsequently filed a lawsuit claiming “his reputation and career have been unfairly affected” by the reports commissioned by the NFL.
Turner spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons “in private business” before being hired earlier this year to be the line coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats.
In addition to piecing together one of the top OL hauls in CFB history, Turner also signed a little-known basketball player named Mike Evans
— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) February 11, 2016
Rolled your eyes at ‘one of best in history’ comment? The class produced two All-Americans, three NFL First Rounders and four draft picks.
— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) February 11, 2016
Regardless of how you feel about Notre Dame, this is really a rather impressive and refreshing story.
Late last month, we noted that Irish junior wide receiver Corey Robinson had tossed his hat into the campus political ring and was running for student body president. Election Day on the South Bend campus was Wednesday, and it was officially announced Thursday morning that Robinson, the son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson, was the winner of the race and has been elected as the university’s student body president.
The first day in office for Robinson, along with vice president-elect Becca Blais, is April 1.
“It feels very humbling to be able to be announced the president and vice president of Notre Dame,” Robinson said according to the school’s student newspaper. “It’s [definitely something] we’ve been dreaming about for a long time, and to be able to be here and lead the student body is just something I am very thankful for.”
Robinson totaled 16 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown last season. With the departures of four of the Irish’s top five pass-catchers, Robinson is being counted on to be an integral part of the squad’s passing game in 2016.
When he announced his candidacy, Robinson addressed the time demands the new position would entail and how it should have minimal impact on the football side of his life.
“This spring, all of our practices are in the morning, so we practice from six in the morning until 10 a.m., and the rest of the day is free, and I have one class a day, no class on Fridays. In the summer, same kind of thing — we only practice for two hours a day, and I’m going to be here every day, all day, so that’ll be easy as well. I’m only taking one class,” Robinson said.
“In the fall, we practice to 2:30 to 7, so anything between those hours, I can’t participate in, but the rest of the day, I’m free. I’m going to have three or four classes … and the way my schedule works, only football and student body, so that way, I’ll be able to be fully invested in both, in those two aspects.”