COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 26: Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes passes in the first half as Mike Hull #43 of the Penn State Nittany Lions closes in at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Penn State 63-14. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
There are few traditions in college football quite like the annual Army-Navy game and the pageantry was in full force once again on Saturday afternoon from Baltimore.
Army kicked off the scoring for the third season in a row in this rivalry game after recovering a Navy fumble and marching right down the field with a 14 play, 66 yard drive that culminated in a touchdown.
While the early score was notable, turnovers dominated first quarter play with three of the first four drives from the teams ending in a giveaway. The quarterbacks combined to complete just a single pass to their own team all half but completed three to the opposing defenses in the form of three ugly interceptions. Army’s Xavier Moss forced the first fumble of the season from Navy fullback Shawn White for the first quarter’s other turnover as well.
Army’s triple option looked to be the superior attack for most of the half, with the Black Knights picking up six of their seven third downs and converting the other on fourth down. Andy Davidson punched it into the end zone both times and finished with 15 carries for 50 yards.
There’s still a lot of football left to be played but the best Army team in nearly a decade certainly is looking primed to end Navy’s long winning streak in convincing fashion based on how the first half went.
Texas high school coaches are a powerful lot. Tom Herman has one on his staff, Charlie Strong had one on his, and new Baylor head coach Matt Rhule‘s first hire in Waco was the president of the Texas high school coaches’ association.
Lone Star high school coaches’ power stretches even beyond simply getting on college staffs, however. They have the power to scuttle prospective coaching tenures before they happen.
That’s according to Houston board chairman/Cougars booster Tilman Fertitta. Speaking to KILT-AM in Houston on Friday night, Fertitta said high school coaches’ push for Major Applewhite is what put the Coogs’ offensive coordinator over the top of Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
“The Texas high school football coaches bombarded our athletic director (Hunter Yurachek) and said: We want our kids to play for Major Applewhite,” Fertitta said, via ESPN. “Here’s a guy that’s been on the big stage, he was the quarterback at the University of Texas, he has a great relationship with the coaches and high school football in Texas. Lane does not. That was an ‘X’ against Lane compared to Major.
“Continuity in the program, the kids, the recruits today playing wanted Major Applewhite. They let it be known. It was just one thing after another that had steamrolled to Major.”
Judging by Applewhite’s Twitter feed, it was hard to argue against that logic. The new Houston head coach tweeted support from two key Cougars recruits and a current Houston player who, incidentally, were rumored targets of Herman at Texas.
“I’ll be 100 percent honest with you. When this started, I thought that we needed to go out and get a name-brand coach, because, to me, it’s all about brands,” Fertitta said. “Nobody understands that better than me. And I wanted the University of Houston to stay relevant, OK? I think Les Miles is a fine coach and he’s going to be a great coach for somebody, and I think the same thing of Lane Kiffin. I was very impressed. But when I looked at the whole picture and totality, I truly think in my heart — and so did everybody else on the committee think — that Major Applewhite was the right fit.”
James Conner is taking his inspirational story and frightening running back skills to the NFL.
The Pittsburgh running back made the announcement Saturday afternoon through his Twitter account.
The Panthers immediately released a statement blessing the move.
Conner burst on the scene as a freshman, leading the Panthers with 799 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He exploded as a sophomore for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns before missing his junior season due to Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He returned to the field this fall with a body free of cancer and promptly returned to form, carrying a team-leading 208 times for 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Conner was named the winner of the Disney Spirit Award on Thursday night.
The worst-kept secret in college football is no longer a secret. Luke Fickell is Cincinnati’s new head coach.
The school made the announcement Saturday afternoon after word had begun trickling in the Buckeye State since last night.
— Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) December 10, 2016
Fickell is a true son of Ohio State. Born in Columbus, he graduated from high school there, attended and met his wife at Ohio State, began his coaching career there and spent all but two seasons as a Buckeye — and those two seasons were at Akron.
Now he’ll move down state to a program that has placed Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, Brian Kelly at Notre Dame and Butch Jones at Tennessee.
The current occupier of the job Fickell surely wants announced his blessing of the move shortly after it went official.
As Tom Herman and Kirby Smart did before him, Fickell will remain with the Buckeyes through their College Football Playoff run.
“It’s with much pride and humility that I accept the awesome honor of becoming the head coach at the University of Cincinnati,” Fickell said in a statement. This city, this school and my family are all Ohio. It’s a tough blue-collar state with hard-working, blue-collar people that respect an honest and complete effort. That’s what they will get from me personally and what they should expect from this football program. This team belongs to this city and we will make you proud.”