The college football world in general and the coaching fraternity specifically has sadly lost a legend.
In a press release, Washington announced that former Huskies head coach Don James died Sunday morning. The school stated that James died from the effects of pancreatic cancer, for which he had recently been undergoing treatment.
James was 81 years old.
“My family and I are extremely saddened to hear of Coach James’ passing,” current UW head coach Steve Sarkisian said in a statement. “His accomplishments as a football coach stand alone, but what made him truly special is the quality of man he was away from the game. The guidance and leadership he instilled into this program and community are still felt today, and will continue to be felt here for a long, long time.”
James, who played his college football for the Miami Hurricanes, spent 18 seasons as the Huskies head coach (1975-1992), guiding UW to six conference titles and the 1991 national championship. He finished his Hall of Fame career — he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997 — with a record of 153-58-2 at UW.
Born in Massillon, Ohio, James’ influence goes beyond the immense impact he made at Washington. His coaching tree includes the likes of Nick Saban, Jim Mora (Jr. and Sr.), Gary Pinkel, Dom Capers and many, many others.
Prior to being named UW’s coach, he served as the head coach at Kent State from 1971-74. One of his players during that time was Saban, who has long credited James for sparking his interest in coaching.
A very disturbing story has emerged out of Dallas, where former Texas A&M wide receiver Thomas Johnson sits in a Dallas County jail cell after allegedly admitting to hacking an unsuspecting jogger to death with a machete.
Just before 8 a.m. Monday, authorities say Johnson went to White Rock Creek Trail, a popular jogging trail in northeast Dallas, and randomly slashed a jogger to death. “It appears Mr. Johnson picked this victim at random. Absolutely random,” Deputy Chief Rob Sherwin told the Dallas Morning News. “He just attacked him. … It’s just very unusual. It’s quite shocking.”
Johnson then walked away from the scene in search of a cell phone. An onlooker had already dialed 911, and when police arrived Johnson allegedly told them there was a man “laying down with a sword in his head and not moving.”
“I just committed capital murder,” Johnson said and then repeated, according to his arrest affidavit. The only motive police reported was that Johnson was angry at his situation in life at the time of the slaying.
The victim, an unidentified male between the age of 25 and 35, passed away at a nearby hospital.
Johnson, meanwhile, remains in a Dallas County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Johnson was a highly-regarded member of Kevin Sumlin‘s first recruiting class at Texas A&M. As a true freshman in 2012, the Dallas native caught 30 passes for 339 yards and one touchdown through the Aggies’ upset of then-No. 1 Alabama and then simply… disappeared. He went missing for three days in November 2012 before turning up back home in Dallas. His mother told the San Antonio Express-News last April Johnson would like to return to college football, but a return to the game never materialized.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will not be disciplined by the SEC office for his brief interaction with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson last weekend. A video showing Bielema exaggerating his interaction with Robinson at the end of a play was reviewed by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and the commissioner has discussed the situation with the Razorbacks coach.
“I visited with Bret over the phone on Monday and we discussed the play that has now become widely reviewed through a brief video clip,” Sankey said in a released statement. “Football is played in an intense competitive environment and I reminded him of the need for head coaches to resolve with their own players issues that may arise, which was his intent. The unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the play was not directly associated with Bret’s efforts to intervene at the end of the play and we are moving forward in a positive manner.”
That appears to be the end of the discussion regarding Bielema’s act. I personally think there should have been some more done here by the league’s commissioner, but we will see if Bielema avoids putting himself in a similar position moving forward.