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Texas confirms Patterson’s hiring as Dodds’ replacement

Steve Patterson AP

Thanks to multiple reports plus the acknowledgement of Arizona State’s president, Texas has been forced to speed up its announcement of the permanent replacement for the retiring DeLoss Dodds.

Expected later on in the week, UT instead announced Tuesday afternoon that Steve Patterson has been hired as the university’s new athletic director.  Patterson will be officially introduced at a press conference later this week.

The Board of Regents must still sign off on the hire, although that appears to be merely a technicality at this point.

“Steve Patterson emerged as the perfect candidate to build on Texas’ athletic success and DeLoss Dodds’ legacy,” UT president Bill Powers said in a statement. “Steve helped build an NBA championship team and brought the Super Bowl game to Houston. Far more important, he’s run a winning program at Arizona State that places students first and is committed to their lifelong success

Patterson will take over “later this fall,” Powers said, with Dodds sliding into an advisory role.

One of the most important decisions Patterson will make during his time in Austin will also be one of his first.  While the Longhorns have turned things around since an embarrassing start to the 2013 season, there are still questions as to the long-term future of Mack Brown as head coach, questions that will now have to be answered by Patterson — and boosters and the like — moving forward.

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Reports: Joker Phillips to coach WRs for NFL’s Browns

Joker Phillips

It appears that the Joker is back in the coaching game.

Following up on reports that began surfacing a couple of days ago, ESPN.com is reporting that Joker Phillips has agreed to become the wide receivers coach of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.  The organization has not yet announced his hiring, although that’s something that could happen this week and perhaps as early as today.

Phillips had spent the 2013 season as Florida’s receivers coach before abruptly resigning his position in June of last year.  Other than “personal reasons,” no reason was given for the unexpected departure.  It was subsequently reported that Phillips was photographed eating in a restaurant with a football prospect during a recruiting dead period, which would be an NCAA violation.  He sat out the 2014 season, at least as far as coaching goes.

Phillips, whose main mark while at UF was as a recruiter and Twitter genius, has never held a job at the NFL level as his entire 26-year coaching career has come in the college game.

A receivers coach on six different occasions at five schools, Phillips has, in addition to his time at UF, held that role on staffs at Kentucky (199-96), Cincinnati (1997), Minnesota (1999-2000) and South Carolina (2002).  He spent another stint at UK from 2003-09 before becoming the Wildcats’ head coach in 2010-12.

A 13-24 record in the three seasons led to his dismissal in 2012.

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Report: Raiders offer Todd Grantham their DC job

It appears Louisville could indeed be forced to search for a new defensive coordinator.

Monday, reports surfaced that the Oakland Raiders had targeted UofL coordinator Todd Grantham for the same position with the NFL club.  Two days later, the courtship between the two sides has reportedly gotten very serious.

It’s not, though, a done deal that Grantham will accept the Raiders offer.

While Grantham has coached at the collegiate level since 2010, he spent the previous 11 years in the NFL.  In February of 2013, Grantham, then the coordinator at Georgia, interviewed for the same job with the New Orleans Saints before deciding to remain with the Bulldogs.  Less than a year later, however, he left UGA for the UofL.

In mid-August of last year, it was reported that significant friction existed between Grantham and head coach Bobby Petrino.  Both coaches subsequently downplayed the speculation.

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Star FCS QB Vernon Adams will reportedly visit Oregon

Vernon Adams Jr.

It’s not often that an FCS player transfers up to the FBS.  It appears, though, that at least one star at the Level Formerly Known as Div. I-A is at least contemplating such a move.

According to Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian via Twitter, Eastern Washington’s Vernon Adams will be visiting Oregon this weekend. While not stated specifically in the tweet, the assumption is that the quarterback is considering a transfer to the Ducks.

247Sports.com is reporting that Adams has already been granted his transfer release, which seems to make a move to the Ducks imminent.

With Heisman winner Marcus Mariota leaving his remaining eligibility on the table and moving on to the NFL, UO will conduct a quarterback competition beginning this spring. The way it stands now, Jeff Lockie will enter spring as the front-runner, with competition being provided by redshirt freshmen Taylor Alie and California product Ty Griffin, true freshman Morgan Mahalak and 2015 early signee and four-star recruit Travis Waller.  There have also been rumors that Braxton Miller has an interest in transferring to the Ducks, although that talk has waned of late.

Adams certainly has the credentials to come in and compete immediately with the group that will be there as he would be a grad transfer.

In a 49-46 win over Oregon State in 2013, Adams accounted for 518 yards of offense and six total touchdowns — 411 and four passing, 107 and two rushing.  A year later, Adams passed for 475 yards in a 59-52 loss to Washington.

Over the past two seasons, Adams has thrown for 90 touchdowns and ran for another 10.  In 2013, he was runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player in the FCS.

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Four-star WR says he wore Vols gear during Auburn visit, denies pot rumors

Preston Williams

Don’t you just love the wonderful world of college football recruiting, especially when it comes to the SEC (or the Big Ten)?

Four-star 2015 wide receiver Preston Williams has been a verbal commit to Tennessee for the last four months but has still taken visits to, among other places, Georgia and, most recently, Auburn.  It was on that latter trip this past weekend that the darker side of the recruiting game reared its head yet again.

In the wake of that visit to The Plains, one in which he was reportedly adorned in UT clothing, rumors surfaced that the Georgia high schooler was caught smoking marijuana in a hotel.  During a radio interview Tuesday night, Williams, who claimed he was “forced into the visit” by the AU coaching staff, denied the weed accusations.

Not at all,” Williams told WNML when asked if what in part began as message board rumors were accurate. “That’s how people get when you don’t want to do something, they try to put bad words out on you, rumors and stuff. I just let them put rumors out on me. People are going to believe what they want to believe because they have their own opinion.”

Williams also copped to wearing Vols gear during his visit to The Plains, which could explain why or how the pot speculation surfaced in the first place. Not only was he (allegedly) wearing an SEC rival’s colors, he was (allegedly) actively recruiting other prospects who were visiting in an attempt to get them to flip to UT.

Suffice to say, and per the player, it didn’t sit well with his hosts.

“A lot of schools, they don’t like it,” Williams, who left his AU visit earlier than originally planned (or was forced to leave early), said. “They told me to take it off, this and that. They were getting mad. When they were getting mad, I was like, ‘Do I believe them or not? Are they playing with me or what?’ So I was just laughing.”

Of course, now there’s a report out that Williams wasn’t wearing UT apparel at all, that his visit was in fact cut short because of a combination of disinterest on the part of the prospect and the “incident in the hotel room.” The radio station that did the interview with Williams, citing a source in Auburn’s program with direct knowledge of the situation, reported Tuesday evening that Williams was sent home early after he was caught smoking marijuana.

As for Williams’ comments that he was forced into the AU visit and that it was a last-minute kind of thing, the player confirmed Dec. 31 that he would be taking a January visit to the Tigers. “I want to check Auburn out,” Williams said at the time. “Coach (Dameyune) Craig is recruiting me. I’ve talked to him a lot and I told him I’d come visit.”

So, who’s embellishing what?  Who knows.  Or, as some would say when it comes to the seedy side of recruiting, who cares just make it stop.

Williams, incidentally, is rated as the No. 19 receiver in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Georgia by Rivals.com.  Oh, and, call it a hunch as I’m no recruiting guru, but don’t look for him to flip to Auburn.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Michigan’s 2015 recruiting trail setting up 2016 inroads

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh may or may not pull in one of the Big Ten’s top recruiting classes — it’ll more than likely the latter — when it’s all said and done, but what he and his staff are doing now is setting the football program up for the next year’s class.

Exactly one week away from National Signing Day, UM’s 2015 class ranks 75th nationally and dead last in the Big Ten (Purdue is the closest at 60th).  That’s quite an improvement from two weeks ago when, two weeks into his tenure, Harbaugh’s Wolverines were 97th in the country.  That bump was triggered by a trio of flips, including a four-star quarterback who had been a Texas commit.

UM, along with UCLA, is also in play for the No. 1 tight end in the country, Chris Clark, a target that could push the class ranking closer to midpack. Five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, the No. 3 player in the nation according to Rivals.com, took an official visit to Ann Arbor earlier this month and came away giving UM serious consideration, although USC is still widely considered the favorite (maybe).  A handful of three- and four-star recruits are still in play as well.

The program hopes to add 15 players from this year’s class, and are currently sitting at nine commitments with signing day seven days away.

Given the tight time frame in which Harbaugh’s been forced to operate, and despite attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind, the 2015 recruiting cycle is essentially serving as a gateway to next year’s class.

“You may not see a huge bump in 2015, in part because of the timing of Jim Harbaugh’s hire,” Brandon Huffman, the national director of recruiting for Scout.com, told the Toledo Blade recently. “But you’ll see that momentum carry into the spring when coaches go on the road to begin evaluating the 2016 class.”

Harbaugh & Company could still make a late push this year, but circle 2016 as the year they begin to challenger Urban Meyer and Ohio State, currently seventh nationally, for Big Ten recruiting supremacy.

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Michael Irvin tells Miami fans to ‘calm their asses down’

North Carolina v Miami Getty Images

Right or wrong, Miami’s Al Golden will likely head into the 2015 season on arguably the hottest coaching seat in America.

After improving to 7-5 in 2012 and 9-4 in 2013 after a first season of 6-6, Golden’s Hurricanes dipped back to 6-6 in the 2014 regular season before dropping its bowl game and tumbling to 6-7.  UM lost its last four games this past season, the second straight year they’ve stumbled to the finish; in 2013, they lost four of their last six after starting out 7-0.

The fan base, former players — including very outspoken former players — and even boosters are restless for The U to return to its glory days, with most not shy of making their displeasure known for a man who helped guide the program through the choppy waters of NCAA sanctions.  Most, not all, though, as Golden has his supporters, most notably former Miami great Michael Irvin.

As transcribed by the Miami Herald, Irvin very vociferously defended the current head coach during a radio interview while also defending athletic director Blake James decision to bring Golden back.

“I thought it was the right move, and guys, I’ve said this over and over again and I’ll say it here again: Al Golden — Coach Al Golden — has earned this opportunity, has earned the right to see this through. With what he’s done, to jump there and fight, that was not his fight, and he stayed through the fight. He recruited well and he kept us in the fight.

“We started a freshman quarterback. Where’s the smarts? Tell me this: Where’s the smarts in saying, ‘Hey freshman, we know we started you. We know you learned a lot. But right now we’re going to snatch all of that from under you and make you start all over again next year.’

“It would be absolutely stupid, absolutely ignorant to do it to him, so it would be absolutely the right thing to let this man get one more year to finish and make it right. Building a championship takes time and there’s a process to it. And we’re in the midst, I think, of a very good process.

“And I surely hope that people, in Miami, can calm their asses down and let the process see itself through.”

Irvin’s support notwithstanding, most observers agree that Golden faces a make-or-break 2015 campaign.  Another late-season collapse, or another season that hovers around .500 — or both — portends doom for Golden’s tenure at the school.

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Kentucky trio reportedly involved in bar fight with FCS player

Ohio v Kentucky Getty Images

Three Kentucky football players who found themselves on the wrong side of the law last year may have done the same to start out the new year.

The father of Eastern Kentucky lineman Colton Scurry told the Louisville Courier-Journal Tuesday that his son sustained multiple facial fractures during an incident at an off-campus bar this past weekend. Three Kentucky football players were alleged to have been involved in what turned into a brawl: wide receiver Dorian Baker (pictured), quarterback Drew Barker and defensive end Tymere Dubose.

Witnesses claimed that it was Scurry who was the aggressor.

“I was actually pretty sober and I was watching everything that was going down,” Zach Littleton, an EKU student, told the Courier-Journal. “Basically what happened was a bunch of UK football players come in and all you hear is, ‘This is my neighborhood. What are you doing here?’

“I know if there’s any video, you’ll see I’m trying to defuse the situation. I was getting between them and saying, ‘Calm down. Calm down.’ (But) As soon as (Scurry) pushed Will, it was just a big mess. From what I saw, it wasn’t just Colton. I saw a bunch of people swinging for no reason.”

The Will mentioned by Littleton is Will Ruholt, a high school friend of Barker who also laid the blame for the melee at the feet of Scurry.

“We were in the back part of Jerzees,” said Ruholt. “A couple people started talking (abusively) and things started to get a little heated. Colton Scurry is the one who started the entire fight. He pushed me. Multiple people can verify that.”

Curry may need to undergo reconstructive surgery, his father allowed.

An EKU spokesperson stated that the university is currently investigating the incident, as well as an on-campus incident “that may have occurred late Saturday night or early Sunday morning” and is possibly connected to the bar fight. UK head coach Mark Stoops is aware of the situation and is gathering information while on the road recruiting.

In late September, Baker, Barker and Dubose, along with running back Stanley “Boom” Williams, were suspended following an airsoft pellet gun incident that ended with Lexington police shutting down campus.

Baker finished the 2014 season fifth in receiving yards (199) and sixth in receptions (19).  Neither Barker nor Dubose recorded any stats.

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WR K.J. Brent transferring from Gamecocks

East Carolina v South Carolina

South Carolina’s depleted receiving corps has taken yet another hit.

On Twitter Tuesday, K.J. Brent announced that he will be transferring out of the Gamecocks football program to an undetermined location for his final season of college football.  As he will be a graduate transfer, Brent will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 if he transfers to an FBS school and enrolls in a grad program not offered at USC.

Below is the missive Brent posted on the social media website yesterday evening.

In 2014, Brent played in all 13 games, catching nine passes for 11 yards and a touchdown.  Behind Pharoh Cooper (42-1,136-9), Brent would’ve been the Gamecocks’ second-leading returning wide receiver; with Brent gone, that honor now falls to Shamier Jeffery and his two receptions for nine yards.

Late last month, Shaq Roland, third in receiving yards and fourth in receptions in 2014, abruptly quit the team. A month later, he landed at the FCS level to finish out his collegiate career.

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Urban Meyer sent a “We Are Worthy’ shout-out to Mark May

Mark May

The voice in general and opinions specifically of outspoken ESPN college football analyst Mark May have been the bane of the existence of many an Ohio State fan for many a year.

His anti-OSU agenda has not gone unnoticed, from Facebook pages — “Mark May is a D***e” anyone? Or THIS. Or THIS — to the national media — “his burning, seething hatred of Ohio State reads like a message board commenter” — to, now, the head coach of the team he ofttimes directs his puzzling venom. In the run-up to the selection of the College Football Playoff final four, the former Pittsburgh Panther standout ratcheted up the rhetoric and histrionics.

“They weren’t worthy enough to get [into the CFP],” May said prior to the 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game that propelled OSU into the four-team playoff and, ultimately, the national championship, adding, “you cannot put them in the Top Four, they’re not worthy.”

“That’s no disrespect to that football team,” May concluded, with no sense of irony or self-awareness whatsoever.

Ladies and gentlemen, Urban Meyer sending a shout-out to the Sean Salisbury of the college game, the day prior to OSU’s celebration of its “unworthy” title:

 

Exactly why May is so staunchly anti-Buckeye is unclear, even as he’s made it perfectly clear on-air, every chance he gets, that the university as a whole did the proverbial kicking of his dog. AwfulAnnouncing.com, though, summed up the May-OSU dynamic perfectly:

It’s insane that we’ve gotten to the point where a coach takes time out of celebrating a national championship to stick it to an ESPN analyst. From a media observer standpoint, it’s actually kinda depressing that ESPN allowed things to get this point and didn’t put a stop to May’s act much sooner. But for Ohio State fans, it does make celebrating the championship that much sweeter.

(Photo credit: The Big Lead)

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Oregon DL Sam Kamp retires from football

Pac-12 Championship - Arizona v Oregon Getty Images

It’s not often you see a player in good health cut his college football career short, but that’s what Oregon defensive lineman Sam Kamp has chosen to do. In a message posted to his Instagram page on Tuesday evening, Kamp announced his decision to retire from football. A redshirt junior in 2014, the Mesa, Ariz., native is set to graduate this spring.

“I’m incredibly blessed to have made so many amazing memories playing for this team. I’m so grateful to God, to my loving family and close friends, to my coaches, trainers and support staff who together are better than any other program in the nation, and especially to my teammates who I’ve spent a seriously ridiculous amount of hours grinding with! This season has been a once in a lifetime experience and even though we didn’t finish with a win, it was an unforgettable finish to my athletic career,” he wrote.”I’ll graduate this spring as a proud University of Oregon double major and I can’t wait to find out what opportunities I can take advantage of in the future!”

He confirmed his decision to The Oregonian.

Kamp played in all 15 games and posted 20 tackles, one sack, three pass breakups and three passes defended this fall.

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Chad Morris was still returning congratulatory texts six weeks after taking SMU job

Chad Morris

A new head coach has a lot on his plate, particularly when that coach spent a previous lifetime building inroads into the deep community of Texas high school football coaches.

So when Chad Morris was formally introduced as SMU’s head coach way back on Dec. 1, Morris’ phone and email accounts were hit with a deluge unseen since the book of Exodus.

By the time Morris stepped away from the podium, he’d received a whopping 690 text messages and 898 emails congratulating him on taking the job.

And when Associated Press writer Ralph Russo swung his Dallas office the day before the College Football Playoff championship for an interview nearly six full weeks later (which posted today), Morris still had 256 text messages to go. “I’m going to answer them,” Morris said.

At his current rate of 72 returned texts per week, it would take until Feb. 4 – which happens to be National Signing Day – to return every text that greeted him upon taking the job.

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Wazzu promotes Eric Mele to full-time special teams coordinator

Utah v Washington State

It’s been a good day for young coaches looking for their big break.

After Duke named graduate assistant Matt Guerrieri as one of its full-time assistants earlier Tuesday, Washington State named former support staffer Eric Mele as its full-time special teams coordinator.

Mele was moved from an offensive quality control position to interim special teams coordinator after head coach Mike Leach fired then-special teams coordinator Eric Russell on Oct. 6 in the aftermath of a 60-59 Washington State loss in which the Cougars allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns.

“Eric did a nice job coming in midway through last season,” Leach said in a statement. “He is organized, hard-working, energetic and has a great rapport with the players.”

Washington State also announced the hiring of Brian Odom as a defensive quality control assistant. He previously served as the co-director of sports performance at Houston.

“Brian brings a great work ethic and an experienced football mind to our staff,” said Leach. ”He has been a part of football staffs that have seen a great deal of success and he will be an asset for our program.”

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Report: Virginia Tech won’t host Thursday night game in 2015

David Wang, Caleb Farris

Lane Stadium and Thursday Night Football are as American as the extra large Happy Meal. Virginia Tech has made 29 total appearances on ESPN’s Thursday Night package, including 11 wins in 16 games in Blacksburg. The Hokies hosted a Thursday night affair from 2002-12, but didn’t host a midweek game in 2013 and it appears they won’t again in 2015.

Citing sources close to the situation, Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote Tuesday that it appears Virginia Tech isn’t in line to host a Thursday night game on the ACC’s to-be-released 2015 slate, which could be announced as soon as Wednesday.

Instead, the Hokies will visit Georgia Tech on a Thursday night. It would be the Hokies and Yellow Jackets’ fourth Thursday night meeting in the past six seasons and sixth since 2004. Virginia Tech topped Georgia Tech 17-10 on a Thursday night in September the last time the pair met in Atlanta in 2013.

Barber wrote the previous Hokies athletics director Jim Weaver was weary of hosting Thursday night games because of the burden it placed on Virginia Tech’s older fans getting to and from Blacksburg on a weeknight, but “new athletic director Whit Babcock has requested to the ACC and ESPN to host Thursday night games every season.”

Virginia Tech hosts N.C. State, Duke, North Carolina and Pittsburgh in home ACC games in 2015. The Hokies will get to scratch their weeknight itch on Labor Day evening as defending national champion Ohio State visits Blacksburg on Sept. 7.

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Two ex-Vanderbilt players found guilty in rape trial

The trial of former Vanderbilt players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey concluded Tuesday with both players being found guilty of all charges. The pair was on trial together but were represented by different lawyers.

The pair was accused of a July 2013 rape, along with two other players – Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie and Brandon Banks - who still await trial.

Deputy district attorney Tom Thurman told the jury the accused thought their status as Vanderbilt football players allowed them to escape justice. “That’s the culture that you really saw here. Their mindset that they can get away with anything,” Thurman said.

The jury deliberated for close to three hours and found both men guilty of all seven counts of aggravated rape or sexual battery. Vandenburg, who was accused of initiating the events of that fateful day, also faced two more counts of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography.

Sentencing is set for March 6.

“I was just drunk out of my mind,” Batey said Monday. “This is something I would never do in my right state of mind. I’m just sorry.”

Vanderburg’s attorney Fletcher Long argued his client took pictures of the acts but did not participate himself. “He took photographs that he never should have taken,” said Long.

 

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Duke promotes Matt Guerrieri from GA to full-time assistant

Matt Guerrieri

The dream of every graduate assistant in college football is to earn a full-time spot on the coaching staff he spends 100 hours a week working for. Few will realize this dream. But Matt Guerrieri realized that dream on Tuesday.

Head coach David Cutcliffe announced the promotion of Guerrieri from graduate assistant to full-time assistant in a to-be-determined role.

“We’re very excited to promote Matt Guerrieri into one of our nine assistant coaching positions,” Cutcliffe said in a statement.  “Matt is an exceptional young coach with an extremely bright future ahead of him.  He hasn’t been your typical graduate assistant coach for us in that he’s coached our safeties for the past two seasons and done a terrific job.  This promotion is especially gratifying because of the way Matt has handled his business over the past three years in our program.  He is very deserving of this opportunity and I know he’ll take full advantage of it.”

Duke notes that Guerrieri aided Jeremy Cash to two second-team All-America nods and DeVon Edwards to an All-ACC nod this fall. Edwards ranked second on the club with 133 tackles and also posted 7.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, one interception and five forced fumbles. Cash recorded 235 tackles, 20 TFLs, 5.5 sacks and six interceptions over the past two seasons.

Duke ranked 23rd in pass efficiency defense this fall and 42nd in yards per play allowed.

The addition of Guerrieri will require some shuffling for the Blue Devils’ defensive staff. Duke is without a defensive line coach after Rick Petri took the same job at Louisiana Tech last week.

(Photo credit: @Duke_FB)

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