As Northwestern’s football team sinks into oblivion, it claimed — in fitting with what it is as a school — an academic triumph.
The NCAA released its annual graduation success rates on Thursday, and the Wildcats topped FBS programs with a 97 percent GSR. That’s certainly something coach Pat Fitzgerald is proud of, given how he’s built a solid program at a top-tier academic school.
Unfortunately for the 4-3 ‘Cats, things may get worse before they get better. Already staring down a three-game losing streak, Northwestern gets road dates at Iowa and Nebraska before returning home to face Michigan and Michigan State. If they can’t beat Iowa this weekend at Kinnick Stadium, they’ll have to pull out of their tailspin in a tough four-game stretch before a should-be layup at Illinois to end the year.
And if they can’t do that, the Wildcats may fail to be bowl eligible this year.
Getting Kain Colter and Venric Mark back would certainly help those efforts. Colter said he’ll play at Iowa, hopefully turning things around for an offense Fitzgerald bluntly said has “played like garbage” the last three games.
But anyways, back to the GSR rankings. The top 10 in football:
1. Northwestern (97)
2. Rice (95)
3. Boston College (94)
3. Notre Dame (94)
5. Air Force (93)
5. Stanford (93)
7. Duke (92)
8. Boise State (91)
9. Army (89)
10. Miami Fla. (86)
10. Wake Forest (86)
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.
One of the most productive pass-catching duos in the country has been cut in half.
Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery confirmed Tuesday that Keevan Lucas sustained a torn patellar tendon in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss to Houston. As a result, the wide receiver will miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
“He’s such an emotional leader for us and such a great kid,” the first-year coach said. “We’ll have to make a few adjustments offensively and move some people around and try to make sure we’ve got guys in the right spot but also guys who will step up and be ready to play.”
Lucas is currently second on the team with 26 receptions and 409 receiving yards, behind Keyarris Garrett‘s 33 and 539. His five receiving touchdowns, though, are tops on the team.
Montgomery expects Lucas to be healthy enough to participate in spring practice next year.