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The Fifth Quarter: Week 8 Rewind

Florida State v Clemson 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

BChaoS
For those looking for a slate of games that would really shake the hell out of things, Week 8 would certainly be a good start.  No. 3 Clemson falls from the ranks of the unbeaten.  No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 8 Louisville and No. 9 UCLA stumbled mightily, the latter two suffering their first losses of the season.  And that’s without even mentioning the utter chaos from the preseason favorites in the SEC East.  When the polls are released later today, there should be an entirely new and utterly strange feel to the middle to the latter half of the Top 10.  Alabama and Oregon, of course, will remain 1-2.  Florida State will likely take over Clemson’s spot in the No. 3 hole, leapfrogging No. 4 Ohio State.  After that?  How about No. 10 Miami or No. 12 Baylor or No. 14 Missouri climbing into the Top Five?  Or Fresno State and Texas Tech moving into the Top 10?  Of course, all of this chaos occurs on the eve of the first release of the BCS standings… and with still seven weeks until the final rankings set the two teams that will play in the title game.  This is going to be one helluva ride over the next month and a half.  Color me giddy over the prospects.

No stage too big, no light too bright
If you saw Jameis Winston walking into the Tigers’ den known as Death Valley, you never would’ve guessed he’s in his first year as a starter and about to play in the biggest game of his life.  If you saw him in the pregame locker room video clip shown on the broadcast, you never would’ve guessed he had just five starts under his belt.  If you saw him on the field against the Tigers?  You knew you were looking at a redshirt freshman who was the most talented player on a field full of them and one who could very well be the Heisman front-runner when it’s all said and done.  The 444 yards and three touchdowns he put on Clemson in the 51-14 waxing only told part of the story; at no point during the game, even after his lone interception, did you get the sense Winston was not in complete and total control of both himself and his team.  The coolness he displays, the grip he has on whatever the situation may be, would be stunning for a 10-year NFL vet let alone a “kid” a year and a half removed from high school.  If there’s such a thing as “it,” Winston has it.

Manziel Malzahn’d
What a turnaround they have going on down on The Plains.  Exactly one year ago today, Auburn was sitting at 1-6 and was a week away from a 42-point woodshedding at the hands of Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel.  Fast forward 365 days, and the Tigers are sitting at 6-1… with a huge revenge win over Texas A&M stuffed firmly into its résumé.  The difference between last year and this one, and between Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn, is stunning in its starkness.  In 2012, AU was winless in SEC play; this year, the Tigers are alone at 3-1 and behind only in-state rival Alabama in the SEC West.  If you’re looking for one of the midseason front-runners for Coach of the Year, look no further than Malzahn.  Not only has he brought hope for a bright future to the Tigers, he’s brought results in the here and now.  Just absolutely brilliant, what Malzahn is doing with what’s essentially Chizik’s players.

Florida v MIssouriMizzou? Who knew?
As we’ve gotten just past the midway point of October, the SEC East’s representative in the conference championship game has been all but locked down.  And, no, it’s not Florida or Georgia or South Carolina; those three preseason favorites each have two league losses, with every member of that trio falling in Week 8.  Instead, it’s Missouri that stands alone atop the SEC East with a 3-0 record.  Not only that, but the Tigers own the head-to-head tiebreakers with both the Gators and Bulldogs should they trip coming down the stretch.  Mizzou’s win over UF Saturday was part of a three-game stretch that began with UGA and will be bookended with the Gamecocks this coming Saturday in Columbia.  Perhaps, though, I should hold off on crowning Mizzou; after USC, the Tigers still have to host games against Tennessee — which knocked off the Gamecocks — and Texas A&M, while also traveling to Ole Miss in between.  That said, who would’ve thought that, after eight weeks of the season, we’d be talking about Mizzou needing to simply not trip over itself over the last month and a half in order to secure an early-December date in Atlanta?  Not me, that’s for sure.

Rebound on The Farm
A week later, and with all due respect to the Utes, I still have nary an idea how Stanford fell to Utah.  The Cardinal didn’t have much time to shake off the inexplicable, however, as unbeaten UCLA came to town.  60 minutes later, the Cardinal had indeed shaken it off by pounding the previously unbeaten Bruins into submission.  In the 24-10 win, the Cardinal defense held the potent Bruins offense to a season-low 266 yards and just a lone fourth-quarter touchdown.  UCLA had averaged nearly 46 points per game entering the contest,  with their previous low-water mark being 34 in a win over Utah.  While the loss a week ago will (likely) continue to sting nationally, the road to the Pac-12 championship game is still crystal clear: win out, including the titanic Nov. 7 showdown with Oregon, the Cardinal would likely be headed to a conference title game appearance — and perhaps a rematch with the Bruins.

Jordamn Lynch
It was one for the record books for one of the most unheralded players in the country Saturday.  In Northern Illinois’ win Central Michigan, Jordan Lynch rushed for a staggering 316 yards.  While that number is impressive enough in and of itself, the fact that Lynch is a quarterback takes the total to a whole other level.  The 316 yards is an FBS record for a quarterback, breaking Stacey Robinson‘s 308 set way back in 1990.  Robinson, incidentally, played for NIU.

55-Gallon drums of yards
To borrow from myself from yesterday, normally, the words “Michigan” and “receiving records” aren’t seen in the same sentence, unless the words “not” and “setting” are included.  For at least one game, that all changed in a big way.  Wolverines wide receiver Jeremy Gallon absolutely lit up an admittedly bad Indiana defense, totaling 369 receiving yards in UM’s 63-47 win over the Hoosiers.  The yardage set not only a school record but a Big Ten mark as well, with the total serving as the second-most in FBS history behind Stanford’s Troy Edwards‘ 405 yards.  Perhaps the most staggering aspect of Gallon’s for-the-ages performance is that the senior came into the game with 462 yards — total — in six games this season.

Be like MikeAuburn v Texas A&M
While not exactly Gallon-esque, Mike Evans wasn’t too shabby himself.  In Texas A&M’s loss to Auburn, the unfairly talented wide receiver caught 11 Johnny Manziel passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns.  The four scores tied Ryan Swope‘s school record.  Interestingly, Evans now has 19 receptions for 566 yards and five touchdowns against teams from the state of Alabama this season.  Even more interestingly, both of those performances came in losing efforts, the other being against the Crimson Tide earlier this season.

One Hill of a game
After a rough start to the season, Taysom Hill began to turn things around a couple of weeks ago.  Saturday afternoon, he really turned it around.  Sort of.  In a wild 47-46 win over Houston, Hill passed for 417 yards and rushed for another 128, becoming the first player in FBS history to throw for 400-plus and rush for 100-plus in a single game.  While the three interceptions will likely be a topic of discussion during positional meetings this week, it appears the Cougars may have indeed found its quarterback of the future in the sophomore.

BCS 4 UCF
Somewhat lost amidst No. 8 Louisville’s first loss of the season, which effectively wiped out what little sliver of BCS title hope it held, is the fact that the team that knocked off the Cardinals is now sitting pretty when it comes to the BCS picture.  UCF had come into the UofL game with just one a loss, a three-point decision to No. 12 South Carolina late last month.  All of a sudden, though, the Golden Knights are in the driver’s seat for the AAC’s BCS berth.  With games left against one-loss Houston in two weeks and one against 4-2 Rutgers the week after, the road isn’t exactly a cakewalk.  However, the fact that UCF gets both those teams at home, and the fact that the Knights are a quality football team despite the lack of respect nationally, bodes well for the program’s shot at its first-ever BCS game appearance.

LOSERS

O-H!  UH-OH!!!
Ohio State may have extended its winning streak to 19 straight, but it suffered a pair of losses perception-wise on the day.  The Buckeyes were less than impressive in a win over Iowa that pushed their winning streak to 19 consecutive games.  It was hardly the kind of performance, however, that wins points with the voters.  Another damaging development for OSU?  Northwestern.  The Wildcats, viewed a couple of weeks ago as one of the few chances for a quality win for the Buckeyes, lost their third straight game Saturday, this time to Minnesota.  Again, that won’t help the perception of OSU’s schedule.  While it goes against what’s in their blood, Buckeye fans need to root like hell for Wisconsin and, especially, Michigan to win out,  Well, that and root like hell for the Buckeyes to stretch the winning streak to a school-record 24 straight.

Florida State v ClemsonBoy oh Boyd
I thought Florida State would win, but I never thought they would win.  And I certainly never imagined Tajh Boyd would lay the egg he did.  Granted, the Seminoles’ defense was as ferocious as advertised, but Boyd had arguably his worst game in his three years as a starter — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.  FSU rattled the veteran into a stat line that included 17-of-37 passing for a 156 yards and two costly interceptions.  The loss could very well cost Clemson a shot at a BCS title; the performance almost certainly has cost Boyd any shot he had at a Heisman.

Bad Zach’s briefly back?
Through the first seven games of the season, Zach Mettenberger was one of the most improved players in the country at any position.  In the eighth week, the LSU quarterback decided to party like it’s 2012.  Mettenberger entered the Ole Miss game having thrown two interceptions in 174 pass attempts; in the loss to the Rebels, Mettenberger tossed three in his first 11 attempts.  While the trio of picks led to just three points, the second one came in the red zone and cost the Tigers at least three points of their own that they really could’ve used in the end.  Mettenberger bounced back after that inauspicious start to throw for 274 yards and a touchdown.  Alas it wasn’t enough as the Tigers simply couldn’t overcome the 17-0 hole they dug themselves, suffering their second loss of the season in the 27-24, last-second defeat at the hands of the Rebels.

SEC East QB piñatas
The inexplicable wave of injuries that’s slammed into teams from the SEC’s East division has hit the quarterback position especially hard.  Florida lost Jeff Driskel to a season-ending injury earlier in the year, with Missouri’s James Franklin and Kentucky’s Jalen Whitlow sidelined for various lengths of time with injuries incurred last weekend. This weekend, another pair of East quarterbacks have joined the division’s M*A*S*H unit.  South Carolina’s Connor Shaw injured his knee in the loss to Tennessee and did not return, while Vanderbilt’s Austyn Carta-Samuels suffered a leg injury and also didn’t return.  My only suggestion to that division would be to shroud them in bubble wrap before you send your quarterbacks out there next time.  Or something as the spate of injuries at the position is unprecedented.  Well, actually, it’s not…

Snakebit Terps
Last year it was quarterbacks.  This year, it’s linebackers… and now wide receivers.  In the span of less than two quarters, Maryland lost its No. 1 and No. 2 receivers to what could very well be season-ending leg injuries.  Devon Long, the Terps’ leader in receptions coming into the Wake Forest loss, broke the tibula and fibula in his leg.  A short time later, Stephon Diggs, tops in receiving yards, broke the fibula in his right leg.  Both injuries will require surgery to repair, and no timetable has been given for a return, if at all, during the regular season.  It’s the latest blow to a Terps team that won their first four games, but have lost two of the last three by a combined 87 points.

Awash in misery
With four straight wins to start the season, Washington was one of a handful of first-month media darlings.  That early-season sheen has lost most if not all of its luster the past three weeks, however.  While the first two losses, to No. 2 Oregon and then-No. 5 Stanford, were defensible, the 53-24 loss to Arizona State Saturday wasn’t.  Simply put, the Huskies were beaten up and pushed around by the Sun Devils.  No stat exemplified the bullying more so than this: 25 UW rushes for minus-five yards.  Bishop Sankey, who came into the game leading the nation in rushing yards per game at 149.8, was held to just 22 yards on 13 carries by an ASU defense that was 75th against the run (168.8 ypg) coming in.  Following the loss, head coach Steve Sarkisian called the performance “embarrassing”; who am I to argue?

Bert DerpNick Saban, Bret Bielema
Upon his hiring at Arkansas, Bret Bielema was very frank about what his goal was in leaving the Big Ten for the SEC. “The reason the SEC is talked about all the time is one team, because of their dominance. But I didn’t come here to play Alabama. I came here to beat Alabama.” Yeah, about that.  Beating the two-time defending BCS champions wasn’t even remotely in the cards on this night, with the Tide cruising to a 52-0 win over the Razorbacks that wasn’t even as close as the final score might indicate.  The loss to the Tide is the Hogs’ fourth straight in SEC play, and comes one week after they were embarrassed 52-7 by South Carolina.  The road doesn’t get any easier as UA closes out the season against Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU.  Yeah, good luck with that.

Things still aMiss
At some point, you’d have to think that Southern Miss would trip over a win some way or another, right?  Maybe at some point that’ll be the case, but it wasn’t on this Saturday as the Golden Eagles bumbled and stumbled its way to a 55-14 beatdown at the hands of East Carolina.  The loss is USM’s 18th straight dating back to the 2012 opener.  They haven’t tasted victory since Dec. 24, 2011, the final game before Larry Fedora took himself — and, apparently, the ability to win — to North Carolina.  In a season full of low points, the 41-point blowout wasn’t even the lowest; a 43-point loss to Nebraska in Week 2 was trumped two weeks later by a 53-point pasting at the hands of Boise State.

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

— No. 4 Ohio State 34, Iowa 24: I already had my say on the Buckeyes above.  Button it up, Urb.  It may not be right, but style points matter if a spot in the BCS championship game is your team’s ultimate goal.

— No. 10 Miami 27, North Carolina 23: The Hurricanes nearly saw their unbeaten season ripped from them Thursday night, trailing the Tar Heels by 10 early in the fourth quarter.  Two Dallas Crawford touchdown runs in the final quarter, including one with just over a minute left, as well as a costly delay-of-game penalty pushed The U over UNC and nudged its record to a perfect 6-0.

Kliff Kingsbury— No. 16 Texas Tech 37, West Virginia 27: The Red Raiders entered the fourth quarter down 27-24 to an improving Mountaineers team before a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns allowed Tech to keep its record unblemished at 7-0.

— No. 18 Oklahoma 34, Kansas 19: Bob Stoops is now 15-0 all-time in the next game after the Red River Shootout, but it wasn’t as easy as most expected.  The Jayhawks jumped out to a 13-0 lead before the Sooners scored the next 25 points.  KU then got back to within six early in the fourth quarter before OU pulled away late.

No. 21 Oklahoma State 24, TCU 10: It may have taken a change at quarterback, but it was enough for the Cowboys to overcome an utterly inept Horned Frogs offense.

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 — Since beating Texas A&M 49-42 in Week 3, the Tide has outscored its opponents 201-16.  Chew on that bit of statistical dominance for a while. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Tennessee

2. Oregon — A close call for Oregon would be something akin to the Ducks leading Washington State just 34-24 at halftime… and then outscoring Wazzu 28-14 in the second half to win going away.  The Ducks have won five of their seven games by 38 or more points.  Their “closest” win was by 21 points over Washington last Saturday. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. No. 9 UCLA

Florida State v Clemson3. Florida State — When you put a 38-point beatdown on the team previously sitting in this spot, you probably deserve to climb higher.  For now, though, we’ll slot the Seminoles here and see how the remainder of the season plays out. (Last week: No. 5)
Up next: vs. North Carolina State

4. Ohio State — All the Buckeyes do is win, and sometimes in ugly duckling fashion.  Then again, though, so did OSU circa 2002.  Hmmm… (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Penn State

5. Missouri/Miami/Baylor — Yes, I’m copping out on this one.  You think I’m going to attempt to figure out, after all of the carnage this weekend and at two in the morning, which team deserves to move into the No. 5 hole?  OK, sit a hefty member of the female persuasion on my chest and I’d say the Tigers’ wins over Vanderbilt, Georgia and Florida trumps the Hurricanes’ wins over Florida and Georgia Tech.  Add in the fact that the Tigers have won every game by at least 15 points, and they probably deserve the slot.  The Bears can make their statement the first three games of November against Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: vs. South Carolina/vs. Wake Forest/at Kansas

HE SAID IT
“I promised myself I wouldn’t say anything horrendous about the officiating today so I’m not going to do that.” — Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who will likely get a call from the league office for his non-comments on the officiating during the loss to Vanderbilt.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“We played without a lot of our guys, and everyone stepped up and raised their level. I like our team.” — an understated Gus Malzahn after Auburn’s biggest win since the BCS title game following the 2010 season.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“Obviously this is getting a little old.” — Bret Bielema, after Arkansas’ fifth straight loss.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Maybe the only guy on the team I’m taller than. I have to tell him about that every day. Hate to tell him that’s why he got recruited because I’ve got to be taller than somebody.” — Nick Saban talking about 5-9 running back Dee Hart.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
“I did a piss-poor job preparing this football team to play in this game.” — the Mad Hatter taking the loss to Ole Miss and placing it squarely on his shoulders.

PHOTO(SHOP) OF THE WEEK
There are simply no words to describe this photo that bounced across Twitter late this past week.  So, and as I duck in anticipation of the reaction, here goes nothing…

oBAMA

#oBAMA

Twitter is simply one of the greatest.  Inventions.  Ever.

SAY WHAT?
Saturday’s game against Missouri was the furthest north Florida has traveled for a game since a 1991 contest against Syracuse.  In a dome.  The last time they played outdoors at a more northerly locale than Columbia?  You have to go back to 1986, the year the Gators traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey, to take on Rutgers in a mid-October non-conference matchup.

TRUE STORY
Missouri is not just winning but they are winning handily: all seven of their victories this season have been by at least 15 points.  The Tigers’ “closest” calls?  A pair of 15-point wins over Toledo (38-23) and Georgia (41-26).  All told, the Tigers have exactly doubled their opponents in points this season: 310-155.

Sean MannionFOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— What Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are doing to defenses this season is borderline criminal.  The former passed for 493 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Cal, while the latter caught 13 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown.  Mannion has now passed for at least 367 yards in all seven games, and has thrown for at least 400 yards in five of them.  Coming into Week 8, Mannion was leading the nation in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns, while Cooks was doing the same in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns; here’s to guessing that won’t change much if at all when the statistics are updated later on today.

— With four teams (Clemson, Houston, Louisville, UCLA) suffering their first losses of the season Saturday (and Thursday), there are now 10 undefeated programs left at the FBS level.  The Big 12 (Baylor, Texas Tech), ACC (Florida State, Miami) and SEC (Alabama, Missouri) are the only conferences with more than one.  On the other end of the spectrum, Temple, over Army, was the only team to pick up its first win of the year in Week 8.  That leaves seven teams (Georgia State, Hawaii, Miami of Ohio, New Mexico State, Southern Miss, UConn, Western Michigan) winless through the first two months of the year.

Jeremy Gallon wasn’t the Michigan player setting records Saturday as Devin Gardner threw for a school-record 503 yards on just 21 completions and 29 attempts.  And Gardner absolutely obliterated the old standard of 389 yards set by John Navarre.  The best development for the Wolverines, though, was that the interception-prone Gardner didn’t throw a pick.

— Team-wise, Michigan set a school record with 751 yards of total offense, besting the old high of 727 yards set against Delaware State in 2009.

Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 89 pass attempts in Washington State’s loss to Oregon, breaking Drew Brees‘ record of 83.  His 58 completions tied an FBS record.  For good measure, he threw for 557 yards and four touchdowns… and lost by 24 points.

— Oregon’s Marcus Mariota has now thrown 265 consecutive passes without an interception, extending the Pac-12 record he set last week.

— In the loss to Auburn (still can’t believe I’m typing that), Johnny Manziel totaled 502 yards of offense (454 passing, 48 rushing) and accounted for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing).

— For the second game in a row, Alabama had a pair of 100-yard rushers: Derrick Henry with 111 yards and a touchdown, Kenyon Drake with 104 yards and two touchdowns.

Cody Hoffman— It was a heck of a day for BYU’s Cody Hoffman: the wide receiver broke the school record for career receptions he had shared with Dennis Pita (221, now 231); tied the school record for most career touchdown receptions (Austin Collie, 30); and moved to within 72 yards of breaking Collie’s record for most career receiving yards.

— Both Melvin Gordon and James White accounted for three touchdowns apiece as Wisconsin whipped Illinois 56-32.

— In his first career start, Maty Mauk threw for 295 yards and a touchdown in Missouri’s huge win over Florida.

— Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart caught 10 passes for 141 yards and returned two punts for another 124 in the Cowboys’ win over TCU.  Stewart took one of his returns back 95 yards for a touchdown.

— A one-yard touchdown run by Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde in the third quarter of Iowa’s loss was the first rushing touchdown the Hawkeyes had allowed all season (six-plus games).

— Baylor passed for 423 yards and ran for another 291 in a 71-7 win over Iowa State.  The game also marked the fifth time in six games the Bears have scored at least 69 points.

— BYU ran 115 plays in its 47-46 win over previously unbeaten Houston, tying the NCAA record set by Northwestern in 2010.

— Akron’s 24-17 win over Miami of Ohio snapped a streak of 28 losses to FBS teams, with the last win for the Zips against a program from that level coming in November of 2010 against Buffalo.

IN CLOSING…
The loss of any life is tragic, but the passing of someone with their whole lives ahead of them just adds to the gut-punch.  Sadly, the world of college football has seemingly dealt with more than its fair share of tragedies the past month and a half.  A Texas A&M defensive lineman burying his two-month daughter just days before the Alabama game.  The stunt pilot father of Tulane’s kicker killed in an airplane crash.  A UCLA wide receiver struck and killed by a vehicle, while a Cincinnati offensive lineman was killed and another Bearcat still hospitalized with injuries incurred in a one-vehicle accident just two weeks later.  Sadly, tragedy hit the college football world yet again, with Eastern Michigan wide receiver Demarius Reed shot dead in an apparent homicide Friday morning.  Way too many, and way, way, way too young.  Hug ’em if you’ve got ’em, every single chance you get.

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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.

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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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Report: Suspended FSU QB charged with misdemeanor battery

Florida State Spring Game

A member of the Florida State football program officially has a legal issue with which to deal.

ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach is reporting that De’Andre Johnson has been charged with misdemeanor battery by the state attorney’s office of Florida.  According to reports at the time, it’s alleged that an unidentified female — well, unidentified to everybody but the Tallahassee Police Department — was punched by the quarterback at a local drinking establishment.

Schlabach added that the charge was filed “after reviewing video of incident from bar security cameras.”  An arrest warrant has been issued for Johnson, who has yet to turn himself in on the charge.

It was announced last Thursday that Johnson had been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

A four-star member of the Seminoles’ 2015 recruiting class. Johnson was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 39 player at any position in the state of Florida. He was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.

With the addition of graduate transfer Everett Golson and the presence of 2014 backup Sean Maguire, Johnson was likely looking at a redshirt season even before his off-field issue surfaced.

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Minnesota, UCLA added to Fresno State’s future slates

Fresno State v UCLA Getty Images

Last week, Alabama confirmed reports of a future game with Fresno State. This week, the Left Coast FSU confirmed a couple of additional future games with Power Five programs.

In a press release, Fresno announced that it has reached an agreement for a one-off game with UCLA. Additionally, an agreement has been reached for a home-and-home series with Minnesota.

The Bulldogs’ game against the Bruins will take place in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2021, three years after a previously-announced game between the two programs will have been played. The series with the Gophers will involve a trip to Minneapolis for a Sept. 8, 2018 game, with a Sept. 7, 2019, return game in Fresno scheduled to conclude the contract.

“These games reflect our future scheduling philosophy as we look to find consistency over a 10-year period where we can create opportunities to bring in necessary income for the athletic department while also being able to showcase Fresno State football across the country,” FSU athletic director Jim Bartko said in a statement. “We will always look to balance our schedules with a mix of big-time opponents coming into Bulldog Stadium for the Red Wave to see.”

Fresno and Minnesota have never met in football. Fresno and UCLA have met eight times previously, with the latter holding a 6-2 edge in the series; the former, though, has won the last two — 17-9 in the 2003 Silicon Valley Bowl in 2003, 36-31 in a 2008 road win.

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Court says LSU lawsuit vs. John Chavis will stay in Louisiana

John Chavis

Things may not be looking all that great for LSU in the headlines lately, but things certainly have gone slightly better in the courtroom. The victory came against former defensive coordinator John Chavis, in that the lawsuit filed by LSU against Chavis will continue while another legal battle between Chavis and Texas A&M is ongoing.

“The court is concerned there is any way the Texas court can keep this case,” State District Judge Timothy Kelley said, according to The Advocate, with regard to the lawsuit in Texas. “I don’t see how they can have jurisdiction.”

Last November Chavis and LSU reached an agreement for a one-year contract extension. Not long after that though, Chavis packed his bags and headed to Texas A&M instead. His hiring at Texas A&M was made official in February. Now LSU is pursuing a $400,000 buyout from Chavis, which the former defensive coordinator says he is not on the hook for. Chavis believes Texas A&M owes LSU that six-figure buyout. Texas A&M thinks Chavis should pay it. It’s a bit complicated.

Right now the parties involved are having a legal battle to determine which state will get to host the lawsuit, which is the legal equivalent of flipping a coin for home-field advantage. Eitgher way, LSU is going to get paid $400,000. It is just a matter of that money comes directly from Chavis or Texas A&M. Or perhaps some sort of settlement could come into play, with Chavis and Texas A&M each paying some part of a reduced buyout. Who knows where this goes from here.

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Academic leaders question Oregon’s football budget

Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State Getty Images

We all have come to a pretty general understanding that sports drives revenue for universities, with football bringing the most money into the university. No athletic program generates as much income as Oregon (thanks Nike!), but academic leaders in Eugene would like to see more of that money be put to academic uses.

“Our administration needs to take more responsibility to fully exploit the opportunity that our athletic department provides — on behalf of our students, our faculty and our institution,”former business school dean Dennis Howard said Friday, per The Register-Guard. He was not alone in challenging Oregon officials to think hard about how the budget will be formed.

“It would be really good if we were all in this together and the athletic department was trying to help the rest of the university,”Oregon economics professor Bill Harbaugh said.

Oregon football really cashed in this past year with an appearance in the College Football Playoff championship game, not to mention the revenue share it receives from the Pac-12 and any money funneled in through its relationship with Phil Knight of Nike. The problem some have with all of the money coming in through Oregon athletics is every dime of it is spent on athletics.

“They have $98 million in revenue and, strangely, exactly $98 million in expenses,” Howard explained. “If you look back year after year, you will find that revenue and expenses match up almost to a penny. … When they get extra TV revenue, they do what they just did in February. They go to the president and the Board of Trustees and the coaches and the athletic director get raises, so expenses go up.”

There is something to be said for a football program that is capable of being self-sufficient in its operations, and it is far better than operating in the red on an annual basis. But how much should Oregon’s athletics department be contributing to the academic side of things? There may be no perfect answer to this question.

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LSU dismisses DT Trey Lealaimatafao following bar fight arrest

Les Miles

There will be no team vote when it comes to the status of defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao at LSU. Les Miles has sent him packing.

In a brief statement released Monday afternoon, LSU announced Lealaimatafao has been dismissed from the team by Miles. The statement confirmed the dismissal is a reaction to an off-field incident involving Lealaimatafao previously reported.

“Trey is no longer a member of our football team,” Miles said in his brief statement. “We have gathered information on this incident and we feel it’s best for us to part ways.”

Earlier this month Lealaimatafao was arrested and charged for simple battery and simple robbery. The incident allegedly occurred in the parking lot of a bar in Baton Rouge. According to the original reports, Lealaimatafao beat another man unconscious and punched that alleged victim’s girlfriend in the face. As if that was not enough, he also allegedly picked the male victim’s pockets before fleeing.

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With attendance plummeting, Akron president says he “would not have built that stadium”

Terry Bowden, Kyle Pohl

When Akron opened the doors on InfoCision Stadium in 2009, the university likely did not expect to see such a poor draw in home attendance just six years later. Now there is almost nowhere to go but up.

The NCAA football attendance records show Akron had a total of 55,019 fans come out to see an Akron home game. That would be really good for the Zips if it were just for one game. It wasn’t. That was the total home attendance for Akron for the entire 2014 season. As noted by The Akron Beacon Journal, that is roughly half of the total home attendance from the 2009 season for Akron, which also included six home games. And to show you the complete other end of the spectrum of college football in the state of Ohio, Ohio State set an all-time spring game record of 99,391 fans at this year’s spring game. The drop in attendance has caused Akron president Scott Scarborough to admit he may have gone a different way if he was involved in the past planning.

I would not have built that stadium,” Scarborough said to The Beacon Journal. InfoCision Stadium was built with a price tag of $61.6 million, part of an expansive $300 million project across the university. Make no mistake about it, Akron was in need of a new football stadium after playing years in the old Rubber Bowl, a venue that was off-campus and cost more to maintain than projected with an on-campus stadium. It should be noted Scarborough was not a member of the Akron community at the time the stadium plans were approved. He was the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration at The University of Toledo and Medical Center.

So what was to blame? It’s not really that hard to figure out when you go back and look at Akron’s record in previous seasons. After winning just three games in 2009, Akron had back-to-back-to-back 1-11 seasons, a stretch that included a coaching change to bring in Terry Bowden. The past two seasons have shown signs of improvement, with two straight 5-7 seasons heading into 2015.

It is also worth mentioning the MAC’s schedule includes a number of weekday games later in the season. That resulted in two Tuesday night games at Akron in November, which is a tough time slot to attract fans to games. The 2015 schedule should be better for Akron fans though, with five home games played on a Saturday, and that includes a home game against Pittsburgh.

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Ex-UCLA QB Asiantii Woulard on his way to USF

Nevada v UCLA Getty Images

Weeks after announcing his intention to transfer from UCLA, quarterback Asiantii Woulard has reportedly found a  new place to call home. The Winter Park, Florida product will be heading a bit closer to home, as Woulard announced he will transfer to USF.

“Decided to come home and play at the University of South Florida,” Woulard said on Twitter. “No past regrets at all, but looking forward to a new beginning in Tampa!”

Woulard will be forced to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he will be eligible to compete for the starting job in Tampa starting in 2016.

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A quick review of this year’s realignment changes in college football

NCAA Football Navy Midshipmen vs Army Black Knights

In just two more days the latest round of college football realignment changes will become official. Don’t worry, the changes happening this season will barely move the Richter Scale compared to the seismic changes in past years. The realignment phase has died down in recent years, although we are keeping eyes on the Big 12 just in case. July 1 is the date on the NCAA calendar when any realignment changes become official, so it is worth reviewing just what changes are happening for this season so you are not confused later on.

There will be no changes in the power conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC), but there are some minor modifications in the Group of Five. Here they are.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

The conference with Big East roots will welcome Navy to the brotherhood this fall. The Midshipmen will be setting course for conference membership for the first time in program history after over a century as a football independent. With Navy now on board, the American Athletic Conference will have 12 football-playing members, split into two separate divisions and begin playing a conference championship game. The conference championship game will be played at the campus of the division champion with the best conference record (don’t worry, there are tie breakers in place).

AAC East: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, South Florida, Temple

AAC West: Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa

CONFERENCE USA

Conference USA will officially put UNC Charlotte in the conference football schedule this season, but of course there will be no UAB in 2015. UAB’s short-term decision to shut down the football program has since been reversed, but the damage had already been done. The Blazers have no program to field in 2015, and they may not return until 2017. So in the meantime Conference USA will have 13 members on the football field. In a way, Charlotte will replace UAB for the 2015 season in the East Division. Everything else will pretty much be the same in Conference USA.C-USA East: FAU, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UNC Charlotte, Western Kentucky

C-USA East: FAU, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UNC Charlotte, Western Kentucky

C-USA West: Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Mississippi, UTEP, UTSA

MAC

No changes in the MAC this season, but this is the last season UMass will be scheduled to be an associate member in the conference. There has been no update on what the Minutemen will be doing in 2016 and beyond, so stay on the lookout for news on that front.

Sun Belt Conference

Again, no changes to mention for the Sun Belt Conference, but it is worth mentioning Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will be elihgible for postseaosn play this season should they meet the NCAA postseason win minimum during the regular season. Georgia Southern won the Sun Belt Conference championship last season but was prohibited from playing in the postseason due to the transition restrictions for programs moving up from FCS to FBS.

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SEC SIDs pick Auburn vs. Georgia for SEC title

NCAA Football - Aurburn vs Georgia - November 12, 2005

Alabama may be the defending SEC champions heading into the 215 season, but it is their Iron Bowl rival that is receiving the most praise and favorite label in the SEC in most college football circles this offseason. The addition of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator is one of the most noteworthy assistant coaching changes this year, and the Tigers return some good talent on the field in 2015. Now, according to their hard-working sports information directors that make the lives of college football media types so much easier on a daily basis, Auburn is the favorite to play for the SEC title in 2015. Their opponent? Georgia.

All 14 SIDs in the SEC were polled by Al.com, and Auburn received three first-place votes and three second-place votes from the seven ballots from SEC West representatives. Alabama received an equal number of first-place votes and one fewer second-place vote. Georgia was a more clear favorite in the other division, receiving six of seven first-place votes. Missouri was the lone program receiving the one first-place vote not awarded to the Bulldogs. Missouri has played in the SEC Championship Game each of the past two seasons representing the SEC East. As noted by Al.com, SIDs could not vote for their own school.

If these predictions hold true, we will get a preview of the SEC Championship Game in mid-November. Georgia will visit Auburn on November 14.

Auburn and Georgia have 10 combined appearances in the SEC Championship Game, but have never faced each other in Atlanta.

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Notre Dame RB Greg Bryant reportedly will be suspended for September

Greg Bryant, Brian Walker

With Everett Golson in Tallahassee and Malik Zaire the Captain Jack Sparrow of the offense, Notre Dame should be expected to run the ball quite a bit this fall. Rising junior running back Greg Bryant won’t be a part of that equation in September.

The former five-star recruit will be suspended likely for the first four games of the season, according to Irish Illustrated’s Pete Sampson. Irish247 first reported Bryant’s suspension and the four-game ban.

If Bryant’s suspension — which has not been announced by Notre Dame — is indeed for four games, he’d miss Sept. 5 vs. Texas, Sept. 12 at Virginia, Sept. 19 vs. Georgia Tech and Sept. 26 vs. UMass. The first game in which he’d be eligible to play would be a pivotal matchup against Clemson Oct. 3 in South Carolina.

While the optics of suspending a former big-time recruit aren’t good, there’s reason to think Notre Dame can absorb his absence with the backfield combination of Zaire, Tarean Folston and C.J. Prosise. In a 31-28 Music City Bowl win over LSU, those three players handled 46 of Notre Dame’s 51 carries and totaled 244 of its 263 yards.

Prosise began cross-training at running back during spring practice and possesses the big-play ability Notre Dame’s been trying to coax out of Bryant since he arrived on campus two summers ago. Folston is a steady, reliable back who doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses to his game. And Zaire is a read option whiz with a physical, downhill running style.

It’s also worth noting Notre Dame’s entire wide receiver corps returns from last year, headlined by Will Fuller and his 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Bryant rushed 54 times for 289 yards and three touchdowns in 2014 as he largely was stuck behind Folston and Cam McDaniel on the Irish depth chart.

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Utah State dismisses top WR/returner JoJo Natson

JoJo Natson

The news when it comes to the Utah State football program isn’t limited to an automobile accident.

The Aggies announced very early Monday morning in a press release that JoJo Natson has been dismissed from the football program.  Not surprisingly, the reason for the dismissal is your garden-variety violation of unspecified team rules.

“We are extremely disappointed anytime we have to make a decision regarding the future of one of our student-athletes,” head coach Matt Wells said in a statement. “We will continue to support JoJo as he moves forward in his career.”

Natson’s forced departure will serve as blow to both the Aggies’ offense and special teams.

Last season, Natson’s 51 receptions and 504 receiving yards were second on the team. For that, he was named honorable mention All-Mountain West.

Additionally, Natson earned first-team All-MWC honors as a punt returner as he ranked first in the conference and tied for third in the nation with two punt returns for touchdowns, and first in the MWC and 10th in the nation in punt returns (11.7 ypr).

Oh, and, for good measure, Natson carried the ball 50 times for 498 yards (10.0 ypc) with three touchdowns in 2014.

And then there’s this tidbit from the school: “Natson… was the only FBS player in the nation during both the 2013 and 2014 seasons to record multiple touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning as he had three rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and two punt return touchdowns as both a sophomore and junior.”

Suffice to say, he — and his production — will be missed.

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