USC has reportedly interviewed Lovie Smith for coaching vacancy

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Back in mid-October, speculation surfaced that Lovie Smith had interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at USC.

While Smith’s agent, who also happens to be his son, denied it at the time, the speculation has resurfaced.

Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com is reporting that Smith has already interviewed with the Trojans about becoming the permanent replacement for Lane Kiffin, who was fired in late September after three-plus seasons at the school.  La Canfora did not specify when the interview took place.

While Smith is mainly known for his time in the NFL, he does have extensive collegiate experience, albeit none this millenium.  Smith’s last post at the collegiate level came in 1995 as defensive backs coach at Ohio State.  He also has stops at Tennessee (1993-94), Kentucky (1992), Arizona State (1988-91), Wisconsin (1987) and Tulsa (1983-86) on his coaching résumé.

Smith was fired by the Chicago Bears as its head coach in December of last year and has spent the 2013 season on the coaching sidelines.  It’s highly unlikely that will be the case in 2014 as Smith is expected to be in high demand, especially by NFL teams that will be in search of a new head coach in the next month or two.

Steve Sarkisian, a former Trojan assistant under Pete Carroll, has also been mentioned as a viable (betting) possibility for the USC opening.  On that front, La Canfora writes “[s]ources said that… Sarkisian was well positioned to land that position, though a recent three-game losing streak may have cooled his star some.”  It’s highly doubtful, however, that, if Sarkisian is one of Pat Haden‘s target, the athletic director would allow a three-game losing streak to change an opinion that’s likely been formed on the totality of the Washington head coach’s work and what he could bring to the football program.

Not so unexpectedly, Sarkisian, at least publicly, denied any interest in the job when it first surfaced.

Of course, any report on a coaching search, whether it be at the collegiate or professional, would be incomplete without the requisite mention of Jon Gruden.  According to La Canfora, USC “would ideally love to land” Gruden, but the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders head coach is expected to either stay in the broadcast booth or return to coaching at the NFL level.

UPDATED 10:46 a.m. ET: Matt Smith, Lovie Smith’s agent and son, tweeted the following shortly after La Canfora’s report surfaced.

“I guess unnamed sources have a better grasp of things than I do!!”

Take all of this for what it’s worth.

UPDATED 1:01 p.m. ET: The denials continue to flow like its Egypt, with Jay Glazer writing via Twitter a short time ago that he “[j]ust heard from Lovie Smith who was taken aback by report he interviewed for USC. Says absolutely did not and has zero interest.”

Shutout in first half, No. 25 Memphis tops Houston 42-38

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If there was ever a dictionary definition of a tale of two halves, this game was it.

Through two quarters of play, Houston held a relatively comfortable 17-0 lead on No. 25 Memphis as the AAC teams headed into their respective halftime locker rooms.  When the second-half dust had settled, the Tigers had righted themselves en route to a 42-point last two quarters in a stunning 42-38 come-from-behind win over the Cougars.

Riley Ferguson passed for 471 yards in the win, although he had just one touchdown pass on the night.  Patrick Taylor managed the scoring load for the Tigers, though, as he scored four rushing touchdowns on 14 carries for 39 yards; Taylor had just three touchdowns the first seven games of the season entering Thursday night.

Despite Memphis’ second-half scoring deluge, homestanding Houston actually held a 10-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the game.  Turnovers on their last two possessions, however, torpedoed any chance of the home upset of a ranked conference foe.

With the win, Memphis moves to 3-1 in American Athletic Conference play and into a temporary tie with Navy, which plays No. 20 UCF Saturday, for the top spot in the Group of Five conference’s West Division.

Washington State’s leading receiver suspended for Colorado game after reportedly getting a tad angry

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While everybody on the Palouse is worried about Mike Leach following athletic director Bill Moos to Nebraska this week, a more pressing concern for Washington State is getting back on track and beating Colorado on Saturday night.

That might be just a tad bit tougher now because the school has suspended leading receiver Tavares Martin Jr.’s for one game following his actions subsequent to the team’s loss at Cal last Friday. The reason he won’t suit up when the Buffs roll into Pullman? It seems he got a tad angry, throwing a bit of a temper tantrum and skipping a practice.

“He was a little angry, saying things hadn’t gone his way the last couple of games. He broke a team rule and needs to be punished for that,” the receiver’s father, Tavares Martin Sr., told The Seattle Times. “He just made a mistake, and he had to pay a price for it. It was a miscommunication between him and the coaches. He was upset. He said he felt like he should have been more involved in that game.”

Martin Jr. leads the team in receiving yards (502) and touchdowns (seven) after starting all seven games this season. Despite that, he had just three catches in the Cougars’ 37-3 loss in Berkeley that caused them to tumble out of the top 10.

The Florida native reportedly apologized for his actions and was placed on the scout team in practices prior to playing Colorado. It seems the stiff lesson is being learned quickly though as he is expected to be back for Wazzu’s game at Arizona next Saturday — likely with a much different attitude.

Notre Dame LB Greer Martini out for USC game after knee procedure

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The greatest intersectional rivalry in college football between USC and Notre Dame is turning into a potential battle of walking wounded on defense. The latest name on the injury list? Irish linebacker Greer Martini.

The starter and team leader has been dealing with a knee injury he suffered in practice and while there was some thought he could be back for Saturday’s massive showdown with the team’s rivals from Los Angeles, that appears not to be the case. Indianapolis Star beat writer Laken Litman reported on Thursday afternoon that Brian Kelly confirmed after practice Martini would miss the game and that he had a surgical procedure to clean up an unspecified meniscus injury on his knee.

Martini is a captain on the team and the third leading tackler on the defense. In his absence, junior Te’von Coney likely slides into the starting lineup at linebacker. The good news might be that Martini could be back for an equally important game against N.C. State that could loom large in any College Football Playoff discussion next month.

The Trojans are dealing with the loss of defensive tackle Josh Fatu and linebacker Porter Gustin for this week’s trip to South Bend as well so both sides have a number of injuries that could hamper their ability to stop the run on Saturday. Given that the game will feature two of the best tailbacks in the country in Ronald Jones and Josh Adams, things could turn into a track meet come kickoff time on NBC.

Michigan State RB LJ Scott reportedly arrested (for a seventh time!) over driving without valid license

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It seems the tumultuous offseason that Mark Dantonio has experienced dating back to last year is not ending with the 2017 campaign being well underway for his Spartans. That’s because the Michigan State head coach is dealing with yet another headache, this time caused by star running back LJ ScottThe Lansing State Journal reports that Scott was arrested on Wednesday for driving on a suspended license.

Now you might say, oh that’s not that big of a deal all things considered. Generally you’d be correct depending on the circumstances. Yet in this case it kind of is a big deal because this is the seventh time — yes, seven times — Scott has been arrested for the same general offense. So yeah.

Per the LSJ:

‘Scott, 21, was arrested and later released on a personal recognizance bond, East Lansing Police spokesman Lt. Chad Connelly said Thursday. He declined to comment further because Scott has not yet been arraigned.

The charge carries up to a year in jail if Scott is convicted because he has at least one prior conviction on the same charge, which is typically a 93-day misdemeanor.’

What might be worse is that the junior has been cited for the same issue across two different states, including Michigan and his native Ohio. The first instance happened back in February 2016 according to the paper, but charges were dropped after a citation was issued and a fine paid. Scott got caught later in March 2016 when he was speeding, another time in April 2016 after being involved in a car crash, and yet again in July 2016 by campus police.

But wait, there’s more.

Scott was pulled over and charged again this past March and another time as recently as July. The LSJ does not have information as to why his license was suspended in the first place but we can offer a few guesses.

What might be even more infuriating for Dantonio and the coaching staff is that Scott just posted a career high against Minnesota (194 yards) and seemed to finally emerge as the primary ball carrier over senior Gerald Holmes and fellow junior Madre London.

The school had not released a statement regarding the matter but it’s probably safe to assume that the Spartans will be without Scott on Saturday when they play Indiana.