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The Fifth Quarter: Week 6 Rewind

Washington v Stanford 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

Still standing tall on The Farm… barely
Washington outgained Stanford 489-279, and not-so unexpectedly doubled up the Cardinal in first downs 30-14.  Keith Price threw for 350 yards, while Kevin Hogan managed just 100.  Thanks to Ty Montgomery — and a fortuitous replay booth reversal on fourth down with just over a minute left — the Cardinal still managed to escape in spite of the statistical disadvantage with a hard-fought 31-28 win.  Montgomery totaled 204 yards on four kick returns, including a 99-yarder for a touchdown on the opening kickoff.  The junior wide receiver also caught a touchdown pass, and totaled 290 all-purpose yards on the night.  It was far from pretty, but it was a quality win over an above-average and undefeated opponent that should do nothing but strengthen the Cardinal’s résumé in the eyes of the national media.  Speaking of which…

Buckeye beat goes on… barely
You can almost hear the voters licking their chops from here.  Yes, Ohio State pushed its nation’s-best winning streak to 18 games in a row with a victory over a very good and very much unbeaten Northwestern on the road.  No, the Buckeyes didn’t look their best, in large part due to the fact that they were playing a very good and very much undefeated Wildcats team on the road.  No, the game wasn’t decided until the final minute, again due in large part to the fact that they were playing a very good and very much undefeated Wildcats team on the road (noticing the theme?).  Voters will very likely devalue the win because it was “just” Northwestern; they shouldn’t.  Drop the Buckeyes if you must, but do it because you view schools behind them as the better team or teams, not because they eked by a squad that’s not your grandfather’s — hell, your father’s — Wildcats.  Doing that would be a slap in the face to what Pat Fitzgerald is building in Evanston.

Lache Seastrunk, Karl JosephBearly legal offense
I’ve been watching the game of college football for more than 30 years, and, no offense to Oregon, I’m fairly certain that I’ve never witnessed anything like what’s going on in Waco.  The devastating speed and laser-like precision in which Baylor’s offense leaves a trail of defensive carnage in its wake is awe-inspiring.  The Bears totaled 56 points and 617 yards in the first half alone against West Virginia; those totals were the fourth-most WVU has ever given up… for an entire game.  The Bears took their foot off the gas in the second half, totaling 66 points and 745 yards through three quarters and 73 points and a Big 12-record 872 yards at game’s end.  Baylor now has the three highest single-game yardage marks this season with the total last night and 781 twice (Oregon has Nos. 4 and 5, incidentally) and they’ve played just four games.  And it’s not like the Mountaineers are horrific on defense; in three games against Oklahoma, Maryland and Oklahoma State, WVU gave up an average of 24.6 points and 397 yards.  Much like with the Buckeyes, critics will sneer in the general direction of what the Bears are doing, waiting for Art Briles‘ crew to sputter against the likes of, well, Oklahoma mainly.  I, for one, am borderline giddy over the prospects of that Nov. 7 game in Norman.  You’d better believe BU is feeling the same, if for nothing more than the opportunity to silence the doubters as well as put themselves squarely in the conference driver’s seat.

Smokin’ Winston
The talent Jameis Winston possesses is unfair and should be illegal — hell, it may already be illegal in several states as it is.  His play — and the play — against Maryland further solidified the legend that continues to grow by the week: 23-of-32 for 393 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in just three quarters — plus one play in the fourth — of work.  For the season, his first as a starter, Winston is now completing 73.2 percent of his passes for 1,441 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions.  After just five games, Winston is already establishing himself as the future of the position for at least the next year and a half.  How he factors into this season’s Heisman discussion, however, should be determined in two weeks when the Seminoles travel to Death Valley to take on Clemson in a game that will be dripping with BCS implications. Speaking of which…

Boy oh Boyd
I understand that football is the ultimate team game, but the Tajh BoydJameis Winston game-within-the-game will be utterly fascinating to watch play out.  In a couple of minutes of playing time less than Winston, Boyd lit up Syracuse for 455 yards and five touchdowns, although he did throw his first two interceptions of the season.  Aside from the BCS implications, the Boyd-Winston showdown could go a long way in determining a Heisman front-runner, or at the very least who deserves to be among the front-runners with less than two months until the stiff-armed trophy is awarded.

Gutsy UGA
When you consider the injuries Georgia had coming into this game… and the myriad injuries they incurred during it… and coming off a span of four games that saw them play three teams that were ranked or are currently ranked inside the Top Six, Saturday’s overtime win over Tennessee was as impressive as any they have had this season.  It was a gutsy performance in a game that, in all honesty, the Bulldogs likely deserved to lose.  They didn’t, though, and because of that UGA remains in the thick of the BCS title hunt.  Those injuries, however, could come back to haunt them and hurt them more down the road than a loss Saturday would’ve.

Live at The MettZach Mettenberger, Conner Neighbors
While there has been a plethora of outstanding quarterback play thus far this season, there might not be a more improved player at the position than Zach Mettenberger.  The senior came into the game sixth in the country in passing efficiency (he was 67th last season), and did nothing to hurt that standing.  In the 59-26 win over Mississippi State, Mettenberger completed 25-of-29 passes for 340 yards and a pair of touchdowns, although he did throw his second interception of the season.  While a lot of the credit for Mettenberger’s astronomical rise (rightly) goes to new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the player deserves as a sizable chunk of it as he put in yeoman’s work this offseason to get better.  Why Mettenberger’s barely on the periphery of the Heisman discussion is beyond me.  A winning team plus eye-popping stats normally equates to stiff-armed talk.  Maybe one of these weeks eyes will open to what’s going on down on the Bayou.

What’s this “running the football” you speak of?
For anyone who’s a fan of passing the football, Saturday’s Washington State-Cal game was like Christmas in early October.  With strippers and booze.  In the Cougars’ 44-22 win, the two teams combined for an astounding 1,027 yards in the air, with Wazzu’s Connor Halliday accounting for 521 and Cal’s Jared Goff 489 more.  Of the 179 plays that were run in the game, 129 of them were pass attempts.  On the carries that were few and far between, relatively speaking, Cal totaled 79 yards rushing while Wazzu mustered just 49.  And, yes, somewhere Woody Hayes is rolling over in his grave at what the game has become.  And punching an angel.  Probably.

Hope on The Plains
To say that the Gus Malzahn era at Auburn has gotten off to a rousing start would be a massive understatement.  With the 30-22 win over No. 24 (for now) Ole Miss, the Tigers improved to 4-1 on the season; in the last year under Gene Chizik, AU won just three games.  Malzahn’s charges have already won two SEC games after going 0-8 in the conference in 2012.  With Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama left on the schedule, any shot at a return to the SEC championship game would appear to be nothing more than a pipe dream.  However, with four very winnable games outside of that, the Tigers should slide comfortably into bowl eligibility, which would be a helluva just — and unexpected — reward for Malzahn and his players.

No quit in SMU
June Jones may be on the losing end of a battle for his job, but if the head coach ends up on the unemployment line it won’t be because his players gave up on him.  SMU came back from not one but two 21-point deficits in their game against Rutgers to force overtime… and another… and another before finally succumbing to the Scarlet Knights 55-52 in three extra sessions.  The wild affair included an absolutely unbelievable two-point conversion with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter to send the contest into its first overtime.

LOSERS

Not-so-merryland
Heading into an unexpected matchup of unbeatens, Maryland had lost all 11 games it had played in Tallahassee and was 2-21 all-time against Florida State, with the last win coming in October of 2006.  Suffice to say, that history doesn’t look any better for the Terps exiting Week 6.  The 63 points the Terps allowed to the Seminoles were the most since they coughed up 70 to Penn State way back in 1993.  The loss was the most lopsided by a ranked team since No. 11 Texas was taken to a 66-3 woodshed by UCLA in 1997.  Maryland’s defense entered the game having allowed four touchdowns in four games; FSU scored touchdowns on eight consecutive possessions at one point and nine total.  After winning just six games total the first two seasons of the Randy Edsall era, the Terps certainly appear to be on the right track.  After today’s derailment, however, they undoubtedly have a long way to go ahead of its move to the Big Ten in 2014.

Still Mullen change
I hate beating a deceased equine (not really), but the situation in Starkvegas bears watching.  In four-plus seasons at Mississippi State, Dan Mullen is 18-4 in non-conference games.  Counting the 33-point beatdown at the hands of LSU Saturday, Mullen is now 13-21 in SEC play, including an 0-2 mark this season.  Hey, if MSU officials are fine with 7-9 wins every season and Music City/Gator Bowl berths, have at it.  If settling for mediocrity is not what they want for their football program, they need to think long and hard about whether Mullen is the coach that can push the Bulldogs to the level of the Alabama’s and Georgia’s and LSU’s of the SEC.

Charlie WeisSorry Charlie… literally
After taking a surprising 10-0 lead on Texas Tech, Kansas allowed the Red Raiders to come back and tie the game at 10-apiece.  Facing a fourth and 13 from his own 16-yard line, Charlie Weis did what any coach with a clear head and sound mind would do in a tie game in the middle of the second quarter: he called for a fake punt.  Of course, the try came up shy as they turned the ball back over to the Red Raiders, which converted the play-calling gaffe into a touchdown as part of a 44-point run in their 54-16 romp.  If there were ever a sequence that sums up Weis’ tenure as a college coach — head, coordinator and otherwise — that was it. Just embarrassing.

Southern aMiss
Or “Southern Missery,” you pick the pun.  Anyway, we now come to the gut-punch part of the program.  Southern Miss entered its home game against winless FIU sporting a nation’s worst 16-game losing streak.  On the final play of the game, a 44-yard field goal attempt that would’ve won it for the Golden Eagles was no good, extending Southern Miss’ misery to 17 consecutive games.  Todd Monken is a good football coach, and it’s hard to see the university doing a one-and-done at the head-coaching position in back-to-back years, but it has to be awfully tempting for the administration to blow it up yet again.  Of course, that would be the absolute worst tack to take, but you never know in this win-now-or-else era.

Grounded Air Force
Apparently, a sizable chunk of the Air Force football program was furloughed even prior to the official government shutdown implemented earlier this week.  How else can you explain what’s happened to the Falcons?  In the first four seasons under Troy Calhoun, Air Force bookended a pair of eight-win seasons with nine-win years.  In 2011 and 2012, however, the Falcons combined to win just 13 games, dovetailing into the tailspin that the 2013 season has become: with the 28-10 loss to Navy, Air Force is now 1-5 on the season, its worst start since a 1-5 start in 1993.  The Falcons’ only win came against FCS-level Colgate, and they’ve lost their five FBS games by a combined total of 108 points.  Calhoun is so well-respected by officials at the academy in Colorado Springs that it’s doubtful his job is in jeopardy.  However, the program had better begin turning itself around in a hurry as, if it doesn’t, you might not keep Calhoun off the hot seat in 2014.

Hoosier non-hysteria
You want to know how I know the college basketball season is fast approaching?  I saw this picture of Indiana’s home “crowd” taken 10 minutes or so before the start of the game against Penn State:

Indiana Fans

Yes, I understand that the weather was not exactly optimal.  However, you live in the Midwest; the weather in that area of the country is rarely ever optimal, especially in October and beyond.  Just a bad look, Hoosiers.  A bad, bad look, especially in light of the fact that the Hoosiers went out and scored its first-ever win over the Nittany Lions a couple of hours later.

Picky beater
If there were ever an opportunity to point to an individual player in a team game and say he singlehandedly lost the contest, it would’ve been Thursday night’s UCLA-Utah matchup.  In the Utes’ loss, quarterback Travis Wilson threw a staggering total of six interceptions.  As if that weren’t bad enough, the Bruins turned those six picks into 24 of their 34 points, which included, appropriately enough, a pick-six.  Five of Wilson’s interceptions came in a second half that saw the Utes tied with the Bruins early in the fourth quarter. “Minus-five in the turnover margin pretty much says it all when you play a team the caliber of UCLA. You turn it over six times and gain one, you’re not going to win,” head coach Kyle Whittingham succinctly stated after the loss.

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

— No. 1 Alabama 45, Georgia State 3: Yes, the Tide won by 42, but they were favored by 54.5 or so.  And they allowed a newly-minted FBS program to not only cross midfield but score.  So there.

— No. 11 Oklahoma 20, TCU 17: The Horned Frogs have one of the toughest defenses in the Big 12, and it showed as the Sooners mustered a season-low 355 yards of offense.  A 76-yard touchdown run by Brennan Clay late in the fourth quarter, however, proved to be almost all of the offense needed.

— No. 12 UCLA 34, Utah 27: As noted above, nothing good happens when you commit six turnovers… unless you’re the beneficiaries of said turnovers as the Bruins were.

Kentucky v South Carolina— No. 13 South Carolina 35, Kentucky 28: The Gamecocks were cruising along with a 27-7 lead in the fourth quarter before the Wildcats exploded for 21 points to make the game closer than it should’ve been.  I’ll just chalk this one up to The Ol’ Ball Coach being bored in the fourth quarter or something.

— No. 14 Miami 45, Georgia Tech 30: This is one of those games where the final score doesn’t tell the whole story as the Yellow Jackets had pulled to within one at 24-23 with 10:38 to go in the game.  The Hurricanes, however, scored the next 21 points in a six-minute stretch to ice the game and remain unbeaten.

— No. 21 Oklahoma State 33, Kansas State 29: The Cowboys needed a touchdown with just over for four minutes remaining, and a field goal with just over two minutes left, to finally overcome four deficits in a back-and-forth affair and avoid losing its second straight game.

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.

1. Alabama — The two-time defending BCS champs scrimmaged this weekend.  The outcome was expected.  Not much to see or say here, other than thank goodness that part of the Tide’s schedule has come to an end… ah crap; Chattanooga the week before the Iron Bowl. Oh well, at least a game against LSU is in the offing. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: at Kentucky

2. Oregon — Another week, another 55-plus points on the scoreboard.  This coming weekend, though, will be where we begin to learn exactly where the Ducks stand nationally as three of their next four games are against teams currently ranked in the Top 15, including a Nov. 7 trip to The Farm. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: at No. 15 Washington

Tajh Boyd,3. Clemson — After a three-point win over then-No. 5 Georgia, the Tigers have won their last four by an average of 33.7 points.  Clemson has its own date with BCS destiny in two weeks, but must avoid, well, ya know this weekend. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. Boston College

4. Ohio State — The coaches and media may downgrade the Buckeyes’ win over Northwestern, but I won’t.  That was a quality W in my book, especially coming off a solid win over Wisconsin the week before. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Iowa

5. Stanford — The big win over No. 15 Washington is part of five-week stretch that includes home games against No. 12 UCLA and No. 2 Oregon, as well as a road trip to Corvallis against 4-1 Oregon State.  If The Cardinal comes through that stretch unscathed, they will vault up the rankings. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up: at Utah

HE SAID IT
“Well first of all, I want to thank our great fan base. Electric atmosphere, they definitely created a home field advantage. That’s why they’re the best in the country. I want to thank our student body. Over 12,000 students came out. I think what we learned is we need that environment. We’re going to need that. I need to challenge everyone. I need you to come to the South Carolina game. We’re on winter break and our team needs it.” — Tennessee’s Butch Jones.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“[Guys] are doing their own crap.” — Steve Spurrier, a bit perturbed at how his freelancing South Carolina defense performed in the win over Kentucky.

SAY WHAT?
In Week Six of the 2013 season, three teams fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, and all three losses came against fellow unbeatens: Maryland (to Florida State), Northwestern (to Ohio State) and Washington (to Stanford).  There are now 17 teams at the FBS level that have yet to lose a game.  The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 each have three undefeated teams apiece, while the AAC, Big Ten and SEC have two each.  The other two unbeatens come from the MAC (Northern Illinois) and MWC (Fresno State).

On the flip side, both FIU and USF picked up their first wins of the year, dropping the total of winless teams from 11 to nine.  UConn (0-4) and Temple (0-5) are the only winless teams from an automatic qualifying conference, and both of those are from the AAC.

TRUE STORY
The last 12 games Wisconsin has lost, going back more than three years, have been by a combined total of 53 points, none by more than seven points.  Included in that total are a pair of two-point losses and four more by a field goal.  A full quarter of those 12 losses came in overtime.  The last loss by more than a touchdown?  A 34-21 defeat at the hands of Michigan State Oct. 2, 2010, in East Lansing.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— With a 24-yard pass in the second quarter, Georgia’s Aaron Murray became the SEC’s all-time leader in career passing yards with 11,548.  He surpassed the previous record of 11,528 set by former Bulldog David Greene.

Marcus Mariota totaled 398 yards of offense (355 passing, 43 rushing) and seven touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) in Oregon’s 57-16 win over Colorado.  Mariota is a big reason why the Ducks have scored at least 55 points in all five games this season.

Fresno State v Idaho— Fresno State’s Derek Carr passed for 390 yards and five touchdowns… in the first half.  The Bulldogs as a team put up 557 yards of total offense in jumping out to a 47-0 halftime lead.  Carr finished with 419 yards and the same five touchdowns in the 61-14 win over Idaho.

Garrett Gilbert accounted for five touchdowns passing and another two on the ground in SMU’s triple-overtime loss to Rutgers.

— In the 38-24 win over Kent State, and on his birthday, Northern Illinois running back Cameron Stingily ran 37 times for 269 yards.

Logan Thomas threw for 293 yards in Virginia Tech’s 10-point win over North Carolina; it was the quarterback’s highest total in a winning effort since he threw for 310 yards in an Oct. 8, 2011, game against Miami.  He also tied a career-high with three touchdown passes, which he also did twice in 2011.

Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 225 yards on just 20 carries in Nebraska’s easy 39-19 romp over Illinois.

— In 26 minutes of play in Alabama’s scrimmage against Georgia State, AJ McCarron tied a career-high with four first-half touchdown passes.  He also completed 12 straight passes at one point, which is tied for the third-longest such streak in school history.  All told, Tide quarterbacks completed passes to a whopping 15 different players.

— In Iowa State’s controversial loss to Texas, wide receiver Quenton Bundrage caught five passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.  Bundrage’s score was a 97-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter.  And, before you ask, yes, I included this note just so I could type the name “Bundrage” a couple of times.

— Ohio State has now won 29 of its last 30 games against Northwestern, with the Wildcats’ last win coming in 2004.  It’s also been 54 years since NU has beaten a Top-Five team (Iowa, 1959), a streak of 37 straight losses.

— The state of Florida was 7-0 in FBS play Saturday, with FIU and USF picking up its first wins of the season.  The prefect record for the Sunshine State squads is the first time that’s ever happened on the same weekend.

— Thanks to a pair of interceptions each by Clemson and Oregon, New Mexico is the only team at the FBS level that has not thrown a pick this season.

— Colorado (four games) and Southern Miss (five) are the only two teams at the FBS level that has not scored a rushing touchdown this season.

— West Virginia wide receivers caught one pass in a loss a couple of weeks ago; Syracuse went one better as its receivers had zero catches in the blowout loss to Clemson.

— Temple is the only FBS team that has not intercepted a pass this season.

Butch Jones— With the heartbreaking, punch-in-the-gut loss to Georgia, the Vols have now lost 19 straight games against teams that were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.  Their last win against a Top-25 team came Oct. 31, 2009, against No. 22 South Carolina.

— It’s been 1,065 days since Kansas’ last Big 12 win (Nov. 6, 2010 vs. Colorado) and 1,456 days since the Jayhawks’ last conference win over a team still in the league (Oct. 10, 2009 against Iowa State).

— Speaking of conference losing streaks, Illinois’ blowout loss at the hands of Nebraska was the Illini’s 15th straight in Big Ten play.  Their last league victory came against Indiana Oct. 8, 2011.

— TCU was unable to earn a first down until there was 8:35 left in the third quarter of its loss to Oklahoma.

— Navy’s win over Air Force bodes well for the Midshipmen as the last 13 winners of the Navy-Air Force games has gone on to claim the Commander-In-Chief Trophy.

— Boston College’s eight penalties through four game was the lowest total in the country entering Week 6.  In the 48-27 win over Army, the Eagles were flagged six times.

— Miami of Ohio came into their game with Central Michigan with just five third-down conversions in four games; in their 21-9 loss, they converted 5-of-15.

— Wake Forest and North Carolina played for the 104th straight year Saturday, the fourth-longest such streak in college football.

— In their overtime game Friday night, Nevada and San Diego State combined for 95 points, 1,111 yards and 55 first downs.  The Aztecs were able to escape with a 51-44 win thanks to a 13-yard touchdown pass from Quinn Kaehler in the first overtime.

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Likely starting Utah CB arrested in connection to robbery

Utah v Washington State

A member of the Utah football program is the latest college player to hold the “honor” of resetting the “Days Without An Arrest” meter back to double zeroes.

While details are extremely scant at the moment, the Deseret News is reporting that Dominique Hatfield has been arrested for investigation of aggravated robbery. Other than for what he was arrested, no specifics have been made available.

A school spokesperson told the News that the entire coaching staff is out of town and she only knows what she’s seen reported by the media. The paper did write that “in matters like this she said the school typically will let the legal system run its course, and the U. may have more to say once head coach Kyle Whittingham returns from vacation.”

If this legal situation affects Hatfield’s ability to get on the field in 2015, it would have a significant impact on the Utes’ defense.

Hatfield actually began his Utah career as a wide receiver, spending all of 2013 (four receptions, 84 yards) and one game in 2014 (1-9) before moving to the secondary for the second game of the 2014 season.  From then on, Hatfield started 10 of the 13 games at cornerback.

He exited spring practice as one of the likely starting corners.

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PHOTOS: Vols new Nike duds are actually quite nice and classy

Nike Vols

One day after Phil Knight announced he will be stepping down as the chairman of Nike, the apparel giant added a new college to its expanding family.  And, unlike they have done with some other schools, they kept it classy for one of the most historical significant football programs in the country.

Following up on months of speculation on just what they would look like, Tennessee revealed Wednesday its new uniforms across the board after ditching long-time supplier adidas and signing a financially-hefty agreement with rival Nike.  The agreement, which will include Nike providing uniforms for all of UT’s men’s and women’s sports,  is said to be worth $24 million over the life of the eight-year contract.

Below are a few photos of the new home and away football uniforms.  While there are some (minor) changes, Nike still maintained (mostly) a traditional look…

… with one epically awesome exception:

Those are the “Smokey Gray” uniforms.  And, if you look closely at the helmet, you’ll see the silhouette of the Smokey Mountains.  That, my friends, is awesome.

Well-done, Nike.  And kudos to UT for (mostly) sticking with what has traditionally worked uniform-wise in the past, with one magnificent twist that the younger generation you’re attempting to recruit to the Vols will certainly be drawn to.

(Photo credit: Tennessee athletics)

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Awkward Harbaugh interview flames out in spectacular, epic fashion

Jim Harbaugh AP

If you’re a fan of awkward and hilariously uncomfortable radio moments, the following will serve as your Christmas in July.

While some view his personality as “off-putting” or even “crazy,” others view Jim Harbaugh as a chatty and engaging character — provided he’s in the mood.  This morning, the new Michigan head coach was decidedly not in the mood.  Or doesn’t particularly care for this particular ESPN interviewer.  Or both.

Either way, Colin Cowherd‘s interview with Harbaugh will go down as one of the epically bad interviews in the history of televised radio.  Enjoy.  And be prepared to cringe.

 

Afterwards, Cowherd called it “the worst interview I’ve done in 14 years.”  He then added this Ohio State-tinged shot across Harbaugh’s bow.

At least one member of the media now charged with dealing with Harbaugh on her beat stuck up for the coach.

If you’re a fan of UM, you likely thought the interview was hilarious and were giving your coach atta boys from afar.  If you’re a non-Michigan fan/Michigan hater, you likely saw it an unnecessarily uncomfortable and will use it as yet another reason to despise both the man and the program.

Me?  I thought it was utterly hilarious because it was so uncomfortable.  With enigmatic sports figures like Harbaugh, you take the good with the, well, that.  And that was epic regardless of which side of the fence you reside.

UPDATED 2:27 p.m. ET: Not surprisingly, Harbaugh has taken to Twitter to address the radio “controversy.”

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USF losing assistant to… Appalachian State?

Stu Holt

This is something you don’t really see every day, especially this close to the start of summer camp and a new season.

A month or so prior to the start of that camp, Thayer Evans of SI.com is reporting, USF head coach Willie Taggart has an unexpected hole on his coaching staff, with special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Stu Holt reportedly leaving for a job at Appalachian State.  Just what position Holt will assume for the Sun Belt Conference member has yet to be confirmed, although the Mountaineers do have a need for a running backs coach.

Neither USF nor ASU have announced any changes to their respective coaching staffs.

Holt has been with the Bulls the past two seasons, first as just the special teams coordinator before adding tight ends coach to his job description for this past season.  He also held the title of Director of Player Personnel in 2013.  For the two years prior to that, he was on Taggart’s staff at Western Kentucky.

Given how late in the offseason this occurred, it’s very likely Taggart, like Wyoming, will split up Holt’s responsibilities among those currently on his staff and search for a permanent repalcement at the end of the 2015 season.

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Dependence Day: Navy officially joins AAC

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For the first 135 years of its existence, Navy played as a football independent.  With Independence Day just three days away, the Midshipmen have officially shed that football independence for its first-ever conference home.

What has been known was going to transpire for a more than a year has now come to fruition as the American Athletic Conference officially introduced Navy as the league’s 12th member.  Along with Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa, Navy will be a part of the AAC West.  The AAC East will consist of Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Temple, UCF and USF.

The conference will conduct its first-ever championship game in its third season of existence, which will take place a week before the annual Army-Navy game.

“”I am proud and delighted to take this opportunity to welcome the United States Naval Academy into the American Athletic Conference as a football-playing member,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “We extend a warm welcome to Admiral Ted Carter, Superintendent of the Naval Academy, athletic director Chet Gladchuk, head football coach Ken Niumatalolo, his team and all the Midshipmen and administrative personnel of the Naval Academy as well as to United States Naval and Marine Corps servicemen and women, friends and fans throughout the world.

“As I have said on many occasions, the Midshipmen represent the best this country has to offer. We are proud and grateful for the service they render to our country, and we are privileged to have them in our Conference.”

After a non-conference date with Colgate in the season opener, and following a bye week, Navy will open up league play by hosting East Carolina Sept. 19 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Their first AAC road trip will take place the following week as the service academy travels to UConn.

The Oct. 31 game against USF will mark the first-ever meeting between the two FBS programs, as will the following week’s game against Memphis.

At the opposite end of the historical spectrum is Tulane, 19 total games played, and SMU, which has squared off with Navy a total of 16 times.

“Joining the American Athletic Conference has given us another goal,” said Niumatalolo. “Now, not only do we have the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to play for, but a conference championship as well. I do know there are very good football teams in this league and it’s going to be a huge challenge for our program. Every week we will have a tough opponent to play.

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Jim Harbaugh: ‘We don’t run off players’

Brady Hoke, Ondre Pipkins

Late last week, Ondre Pipkins kicked up quite the ruckus by claiming he was essentially pushed out of the Michigan football program by new head coach Jim Harbaugh, athletic trainer Paul Schmidt and associate athletic director Jim Minick.  According to the transferring defensive lineman, Pipkins says he was pressured by those individuals to end his collegiate career by signing a medical scholarship form.

“After consulting with our medical team, we do not think it is in Ondre’s best interest as it relates to his health and welfare to play football, short or long-term,” a statement attributed to Harbaugh began. ” He remains on full scholarship and counts toward the 85-scholarship limit in pursuit of graduation from the University of Michigan.”

For the first time, Harbaugh addressed the situation with the media.  Not surprisingly, the coach’s view of how things transpired differed from his now-former player’s.

We don’t run off players,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com shortly after throwing out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game. “I’ll speak for myself personally. When it comes to the health and safety of the players, that argument trumps all other arguments.”

Pipkins has had at least two significant injuries during his time with the Wolverines to go along with concussion issues.

In August of 2012 he sustained a neck injury that required a brief hospital stay, but went on to play 13 games. In October of 2013, he suffered a torn ACL in a win over Minnesota. Last season, he played in five games.

Pipkin was a five-star member of UM’s 2012 recruiting class, rated as one of the top defensive tackles in the country and the No. 14 player overall.

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Third USU Aggie released from hospital

Edmund Faimalo

Three down — and out — one to go.

Over the weekend, Utah State announced that two of its football players, senior defensive lineman John Taylor and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Adewale Adeoye, were released from a hospital Sunday afternoon.  Adeoye and Taylor were two of five individuals, four of whom are football players, injured in a car wreck late last week.

Late Tuesday night, USU announced in a press release that a third Aggie, redshirt junior defensive lineman Edmund Faimalo (pictured), has been released from the hospital as well. Senior defensive lineman Travis Seefeldt is the lone remaining football player still hospitalized.

Seefeldt and Taylor exited spring practice as projected starters for the Aggies. Faimalo transferred into the program from a JUCO.

The fifth occupant of the vehicle, former USU softball player Sara Vasquez, remains hospitalized.  Her eligibility expired this past spring.

(Photo credit: Utah State athletics)

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UAB, Bill Clark in the midst of negotiating new contract

UAB Blazers v Arkansas Razorbacks

Earlier this month as UAB confirmed it would revive its shuttered football program in either 2016 or, more feasibly, 2017, it was also confirmed that Bill Clark would remain the head coach.

One issue for Clark, though, is that his current contract only runs through 2016.  Given the initial decision to disband the program in the first place, the last thing Clark and his coaching staff needs is for rival schools to have additional ammunition on the recruiting trail in the form of a contract that’s set to expire next year.

Taking all things into consideration, Clark confirmed to al.com that he and the university are currently in the midst of negotiating a new contract.

“It’s going to be a commitment to myself and my family, and my staff that we want to be here, we’re going to be here,” Clark said. “But it’s our school saying, ‘Football is here to stay, this is our coach, this is his staff. We’re going to commit to him and the things it takes to do it the right way.'”

Based solely on his on-field work with the Blazers, Clark is deserving of a new deal.

In 2014, Clark’s first season at the school, the Blazers posted a 6-6 mark, the first time the team had finished a season with at least a .500 record since 2004. That’s the last time UAB was bowl-eligible, although the Blazers weren’t invited to play in a bowl game at the conclusion of this past season because of the institutional uncertainty over the sport’s future at the school.

Last year was just the fourth time in the program’s 19-year history that the Blazers finished .500 or better, with the other two coming in 2000 and 2001.

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Rutgers loses another DE, and 2014 signee, to transfer

PISCATAWAY, NJ - August 10: Rutgers Scarlet Knights Media Day at High Point Solutions Stadium on August 10, 2014 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz)

Earlier this month, Sam Blue became the fourth member of Rutgers’ 2014 recruiting class to either voluntarily or involuntarily leave the football program.  As we get to the end of June, that number reportedly has been bumped to five.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, nj.com is reporting that Donald Bedell has decided to transfer out of the Kyle Flood‘s team.  Not surprisingly, a logjam on the depth chart at the defensive end position likely was the overriding factor Bedell’s decision.

RU, for what it’s worth, has yet to address the defensive lineman’s status moving forward.

Last season, Bedell took a redshirt.  He was a three-star member of RU’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 player at any position in the state of New Jersey.

As for the other departures from last year’s signings?

Blue was a two-star member of RU’s 2014 recruiting class, with the Scarlet Knights being the only FBS program to offer the North Carolina native a scholarship.  The defensive end took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

Kam Lott, another 2014 signee, announced in late January that he was transferring to be closer to his family in Florida.  Two weeks later Jacob Kraut, projected to be RU’s starting fullback, announced a move for the exact same reasons.

In late May, Darian Dailey was dismissed after he was arrested on an armed robbery charge.

(Photo credit: Rutgers athletics)

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Jimbo discusses Saban, 2017 opener vs. Tide

jimbo Getty Images

Neither Alabama nor Florida State has publicly confirmed reports that the two football programs will square off a couple of years from now. That, though, hasn’t stopped one of the likely head coaches in the potentially epic 2017 opener from openly discussing the much-speculated-on matchup.

Speaking in his hometown of Clarksburg, WV, Monday, Jimbo Fisher acknowledged what the two athletic directors won’t: his Seminoles will open the 2017 season against Nick Saban‘s Crimson Tide.

“To be able to go against someone who you have a ton of respect for in Nick and the program in which they have just adds to it,” the FSU head coach said according to the Palm Beach Post.

“We’ve been two of the most consistent programs in the country the last few years. It’s a great kickoff and it’s great for the game of college football.”

That opener in Atlanta two years from now will not only be a great matchup on the field, it will have a personal feel to it on the sidelines.

Both 49-year-old Fisher and 63-year-old Saban were born and raised in God’s Country, with the latter growing up about 20 miles away from the former’s hometown. Fisher’s first offensive coordinating job at a Power Five school came in 2000 at LSU. The Tigers’ head coach at the time? Saban, of course.

While Saban left Baton Rouge for the NFL following the 2004 season, Fisher remained at LSU for another two years before moving on to FSU as coordinator and, ultimately, head coach. Those five years working under Saban, however, helped shape the coach Fisher is today.

“His structure and organization and focus and ability to see the future,” the 2013 BCS champion stated. “Those are a lot of things I got from him. … how to think and how you look at things.”

Fisher and Saban have never faced each other as head coaches, although it came close to happening following the 2014 season.  Both the Seminoles and Tide earned a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff, FSU going up against Oregon and UA against eventual champion Ohio State.  The meeting wasn’t to be, however, as the Tide lost by seven and the ‘Noles by 39.

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Mizzou’s Harold Brantley released from hospital

MISSISSIPPI MISSOURI AP

Injured in a Father’s Day car wreck, Missouri’s Harold Brantley was initially listed in serious condition with multiple injuries.  A day later, however, the defensive lineman was upgraded to good condition.

A week after that?  He’s on the path toward going home.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Tuesday afternoon that Brantley has been released from his Columbia hospital.  The lineman won’t be immediately headed home, however, as he will spend the next several days in what’s described as a transitional facility.

“Harold is making great progress and is no longer at University Hospital… and is hopeful of being able to go home near the end of this week,” a school official told the Daily Tribune.

Brantley, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, sustained a broken tibia, knee ligament damage and multiple fractured ribs in the rollover wreck. Surgery has already been performed on his broken leg, while knee surgery will take place at some pointy in the next 3-4 weeks.

There’s still no word on Brantley’s availability for the upcoming season.

Last season, Brantley started 10 of the 14 games in which he played.

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Report: UCLA coach shamed Diddy’s son over courtside seats

Sal Alosi

Just when you thought we had the UCLA/Puff Daddy drama in the rear-view, it comes back and bites you in the rear.

First, a brief recap: hip-hop mogul Sean Combs was involved in an altercation with a UCLA assistant, strength coach Sal Alosi, in the Bruins football offices a week ago yesterday and was ultimately arrested on multiple felony charges.  The confrontation occurred after Combs’ son, UCLA defensive back Justin Combs, was kicked out of a workout session by Alosi earlier that day, then scurried home to complain to his famous father.

Combs, through a spokesperson, claimed “any actions taken by Mr. Combs were solely defensive in nature to protect himself and his son.”  While UCLA would prefer charges not being pursued, it will be up to the District Attorney’s office whether the legal matter moves forward.

All of that bring us to a report from TMZ.com, which is claiming there is a previous history between the younger Combs and Alosi that could have played a role in the elder Combs’ alleged actions that day:

The coach who fought Diddy this week … brutally shamed Diddy’s son by using a paparazzi pic to drive home a point — that he thinks Justin Combs is a spoiled rich kid.

Sources connected to UCLA’s football program tell TMZ Sports … the humiliating incident went down in February. Coach Sal Alosi had several players in the the gym for a training sesh, which Justin missed because he was at the NBA All-Star game.

We’re told Alosi openly mocked Justin by putting a pic of him at the game — next to Diddy and Ben Stiller … in all the gym monitors. We’re told Alosi told players … “While you guys are training, this guy is sitting courtside with his dad.” The pic remained up for 24 hours.

The gossip website, citing the same sources, went on to claim that Alosi had told the player on various occasions that “You’re only here because of your dad,” and … “You never belonged here,” and … “You should just go work for your dad.”  The allegations made in this report shed new light on the football player publicly backing his famous father.

Diddy was released from jail the night of the incident after posting a $160,000 bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for July 13.

(Photo credit: UCLA athletics)

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Stepdad: Ole Miss’ Tunsil was with NFL agents at time of incident

Mississippi v Vanderbilt Getty Images

A strange story involving Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil has taken yet another strange turn.

Tunsil was arrested Friday and charged with domestic violence after he allegedly stepped into the middle of an argument involving his mother and stepfather Thursday, which led to the offensive lineman punching the latter.  The 53-year-old stepdad, Lindsey Miller, claimed in the notes taken by a sheriff’s deputy for a police report that his stepson was “riding around with football agents,” and that’s what the argument between the stepdad and mother was over.

From the Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

According to the police report, when deputy Rudy Howell arrived at the scene at 7:19 p.m. Thursday night, Miller was “very excited” and told Howell that “Tunsil and the agents” left in a yellow convertible.

According to Miller’s statements to Howell, Desiree Tunsil walked out of the house during the argument about Tunsil’s alleged contact with agents when Laremy Tunsil entered.

Miller, 53, then claims he extended his hand to give Tunsil a handshake, but Tunsil allegedly shoved him against a wall and started hitting him.

Under NCAA rules, the Sports Business Journal noted back in August of last year, Tunsil is permitted to speak to certified NFL agents, provided he doesn’t, one, sign with them prior to expired eligibility or submitting paperwork for early entry into the draft and, two, he doesn’t accept any impermissible benefits.

“It seems to serve everyone’s purpose,” Lal Heneghan, who works for a consulting company that provides agent advisory services to 12 major college football programs, including Florida State and Alabama, told the sports business website when asked about spring and summer meetings between college players and agents. “The player and the family can get an idea of this is what an agent is all about and they can get a sense if this person will be on a short list and focus on having a season.”

Tunsil, projected to be a likely Top-Ten pick in next year’s NFL draft if he leaves school early, was indefinitely suspended from the football program.  Both he and his mother are seeking charges against the stepfather.

Following the 2014 season, the Associated Press named him a first-team All-American.

UPDATED 4:04 p.m. ET: In response to this latest development, the school released a statement from head coach Hugh Freeze.

“We are aware that Laremy and his family have met with potential agents, which is within his NCAA rights as a student-athlete. Regarding the altercation, we will continue to gather facts and cooperate with the proper authorities.”

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Randy Edsall lands three-year extension from Terps

Rutgers v Maryland

A couple of years ago, it appeared that Randy Edsall might not make it to Year 3 at Maryland.  After a pair of (relatively) successful seasons, he now has some additional “job security.”

In a press release, Maryland announced that Edsall has signed a three-year contract extension.  The new contract would technically keep Edsall with the Terps through the 2019 season.

Terms of the new deal were not released, although the Baltimore Sun writes that “[t]he contract amendment… includes a raise of nearly $400,000 annually beginning in 2017 plus on-field performance bonuses.” Edsall was paid $2.033 million in 2014, which was 11th among the 14 head coaches in the Big Ten.

“Randy has made good strides in our first year in the Big Ten and our program is headed in the right direction,” said athletic director Kevin Anderson in a statement. “He has established a culture in which our students have made strong progress academically with outstanding graduation rates. We have made progress and we will look to continue to build upon what we have established with our goal of competing at the highest level in the Big Ten.”

In his first two seasons with the Terps, Edsall’s record of 6-18 put him squarely on the hots seat. A pair of seven-win seasons and bowl appearances — both losses — saved his job and led to the contract extension.

The 4-4 record in the first season of play in the Big Ten was good for third in the East division.

“I’m extremely proud of the work my players and staff have put in to making our program what it is today,” said Edsall. “It is rewarding for me that Kevin Anderson and Dr. Wallace Loh have recognized this process in getting the program headed in the right direction.”

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Auburn, Oregon to open 2019 season at Cowboys stadium

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game - Oregon v Auburn Getty Images

Nearly a decade after their epic championship game battle, Auburn and Oregon are set to go at it again on a neutral field.

On Twitter Tuesday, AU athletic director Jay Jacobs announced that his Tigers football program will open the 2019 season against the Ducks.  The game will be played at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex, in the annual Cowboys Classic.

Barring a matchup in a bowl or playoff between now and then, the 2019 game will be the second-ever between the programs.  The first was in the BCS title game following the 2010 season, a 22-19 AU win in Glendale, Ariz., that was decided on a Wes Byrum field goal with no time left on the clock.  Byrum’s kick came after the Ducks had tied the game with a LaMichael James touchdown reception from Darron Thomas — and two-point conversion — with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Jacobs’ announcement means that the next five Cowboys Classic games are set:

  • 2015 Alabama vs. Wisconsin
  • 2016 Alabama vs. USC
  • 2017 Florida vs. Michigan
  • 2018 LSU vs. Miami
  • 2019 Auburn vs. Oregon
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