Tajh Boyd laughs off, Dabo decries gambling ‘rumors’

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One of the best parts about the Internet is the vast amount of information available at one’s finger tips.  The worst part about the Internet is the vast amount of information available.  And some of the people disseminating it.

Case in point: a couple of hours prior to Clemson’s beatdown at the hands of Florida State, a “report” surfaced on a “website” — we’re not going to give the name here and funnel any traffic there; Google it — that Tajh Boyd had piled up an $80,000-plus gambling debt betting mostly on NFL games.  The fact that Boyd went out and had arguably his worst game as a starter on his biggest stage thus far only added to the squadron of black helicopters swirling overhead.

Because of the “report” — which the curator of the site told The State via email “comes from direct sources in Vegas that have ties to the bookies” — athletic director Dan Radakovich instructed his compliance department to investigate the “claims” and perform its due diligence.  According to the paper, university compliance officials interviewed Boyd as well as checking out the track record of the “site” before sending its findings to the ACC.

Those findings had everyone, at least at the university, in agreement: the “report” was baseless and Boyd is not a latter-day Art Schlichter.

“I don’t really know where that came from,” Boyd told the media Tuesday. “When I heard it, it was pretty shocking. That being built on top of the loss made it a rough little weekend.”

“I have Northland Cable. I only get two games on Sunday,” Boyd said, taking a jab at the rumors a gambling debt was centered on NFL games.

Boyd’s 78.2 passer rating was his second-worst since becoming a full-time starter in 2011, trailing only the 66.5 he put up against South Carolina that first season.  His 45.9 percent completion percentage was his worst since that 21-point loss to the Gamecocks, and the first time since the 2012 regular-season finale against the same team that he had completed less than 60 percent of his passes.

That performance only added fuel to the speculative fire… and served to raise the ire of Boyd’s head coach.

“That just added to my beautiful Sunday. … It’s disappointing that we live in this world where things like that happen,” Dabo Swinney said. “I have no reason to think that he lied to me. He’s never lied to me before. Obviously, it would be a major problem if you have somebody lying to you about something like that. You’d have to move on in a different direction. It’s that simple.

“I have no reason not to trust him, absolutely. No question, his integrity is impeccable.”

One final note: Boyd’s parents are contemplating a lawsuit, telling ClemsonInsider.com that “[t]hese reports are totally false. Please leave my son alone.”

Shawn Eichorst’s firing at Nebraska increases heat on Mike Riley

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If Mike Riley wasn’t feeling the pressure to win before, he certainly is now.

Thursday afternoon, Nebraska announced that Shawn Eichorst, the man responsible for firing Bo Pelini as head football coach and hiring Riley as his replacement, has been ousted from his position as athletic director at the university.  The move is effective immediately.

Eichorst was hired by NU in October of 2012, and still has $1.7 million remaining on a contract that runs through June of 2019.  The university will be responsible for paying Eichorst that entire amount.

“Shawn has led Nebraska Athletics in many positive ways, but those efforts have not translated into on-field performance,” chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “Our fans and our student-athletes deserve leadership that drives the highest levels of competitiveness, as well as excellence across all facets of Husker Athletics.”

The fact that the chancellor mentioned lack of on-field performance should be especially worrisome for Riley.

The Cornhuskers won at least nine games in each of the seven seasons under Pelini.  His last two seasons, they finished a combined 18-7.  In Riley’s two-plus seasons, they’ve gone 16-13, including a 1-2 stumble out of the gate this year.

The move to fire Eichorst comes less than a week after Nebraska lost 21-17 to Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium.

That loss marked NU’s first defeat at home to a Group of Five team since falling to Southern Miss in 2004.  That was the first year of the Bill Callahan reign in Lincoln, a season that would finish with a 5-6 record; that was the program’s worst since going 3-6-1 in 1961.

The NIU loss was also the first time, ever, that the Cornhuskers have lost to a team from the MAC, either at home, on the road or on a neutral field.

USC optimistic Uchenna Nwosu will play against Cal

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Already battered by injuries on defense, USC may have avoided what would’ve potentially been a significant loss on that side of the ball.

Uchenna Nwosu suffered a sprained MCL in his knee during USC’s double-overtime win over Texas in Week 3.  After being held out in the early part of the week, the linebacker, armed — or kneed as the case may be — with a brace, returned to practice Wednesday.

Afterward, head coach Clay Helton seemed optimistic about Nwosu’s availability for the Week 4 game against Cal, their first road trip of the season.

Nwosu is currently second on the team in tackles with 20, while his seven pass breakups rank second nationally.  He’s started the first three games of the season for the Trojans after starting every game in 2016.

That brings us to the end of the positive injury news portion of the program as fellow linebacker Porter Gustin is very unlikely to play against the Golden Bears.  Gustin, who leads the Trojans in sacks with three, has been dealing with a surgically-repaired big toe.  While it didn’t keep him out of the Texas game as expected, he was sidelined again at practice Wednesday.

Additionally, defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) and slot cornerback Ajene Harris (knee) are questionable for the road trip to Berkeley after sitting out practice yet again.

Tennessee LB Cortez McDowell’s season might not be over after all

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In the end, there could be an injury silver lining for Tennessee after all.

In the aftermath of the deflating last-second loss to rival Florida, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced that Cortez McDowell would miss the remainder of the 2017 season.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his wrist that, at the time, was deemed serious enough to shelve him for the rest of the year.

The key here is “at the time” as, a couple of days later, the prognosis has brightened slightly as Jones allowed Wednesday that McDowell could return at some point this season.  Whether it’s late in the regular season or even for a bowl game, the coach at least left the door open for the senior to play again in 2017.

Obviously, any availability would be determined in the coming weeks by the program’s medical staff.

McDowell would be eligible for a medical hardship waiver if he shut it down for the remainder of the season, which would give the fourth-year senior another year of eligibility to use in 2018.  At least at this point in time, that’s not the tack that either the player or the football program is taking.

After starting four of 12 games last season, McDowell started the first three games this season prior to his injury.

 

Derrius Guice ruled out for LSU’s game vs. Syracuse

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So there you have it.

Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee.  While Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury in the ensuing days, he allowed during his turn on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday that his star running back is “very questionable right now” for the Week 4 game against Syracuse.

Later that night, on the head coach’s radio show, the very questionable morphed into completely out.

Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns. His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.

With Guice unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) will likely be next in line to shoulder the brunt of the running-game load.