AJ McCarron

Unitas Golden Arm Award unveils 2013 finalists


An award that honors the top senior citizens at the quarterback position has released its finalists for the 2013 version of the award.

Headlining the very limited group of five players is Alabama’s AJ McCarron.  A semifinalist the past two seasons, McCarron can now say the same about being a finalist as he accomplished that feat in 2012 as well.

Joining McCarron as 2013 finalists is fellow SEC quarterback Aaron Murray of Georgia, along with Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch.

That group quarterbacks three of the remaining six undefeated teams in the country and have a combined record of 44-5; Murray’s Bulldogs account for four of those losses.

The Unitas Award, named in honor of Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas and handed out to the top senior (academic or football eligibility) at the position, was won by Kansas State’s Collin Klein in 2012.

Here are the five finalists and a little statistical overview, courtesy of the folks with the Golden Arm:

–Tajh Boyd: Coming off a 55-31 win against Georgia Tech, Boyd has completed 212 of 318 passes for 2,960 yards (66.7% completion rate) and 32 touchdowns this season.
–Derek Carr: With two games remaining this season, Carr has thrown for 3,421 yards and 34 TDs, completing 69.5% of his passes for the 9-0 Bulldogs.
–Jordan Lynch: Lynch has led the Huskies to a 10-0 record this season, completing 65.5% of his passes while throwing for 35 TDs and 2,216 yards.
–AJ McCarron: After a 20-7 win over Mississippi State last week, McCarron has completed 177 of 261 passes for 2,228 yards (67.8%) and 21 TDs this season.
–Aaron Murray: While the Bulldogs are only 6-4 this season, Murray has thrown for 2,892 yards and 29 TDs, completing 207 of 324 pass attempts (63.9%).

Illinois announces two-year extension for interim head coach Bill Cubit

Bill Cubit
Associated Press
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Illinois has extended year-long interim head coach Bill Cubit for another two seasons, the program announced Saturday afternoon. Does that make him a short-term full-time head coach or a long-term interim coach? Or a combination of the two?

Either way, Cubit is in Champaign to stay through the 2017 season.

A mitigating factor here, undoubtedly, is the absence of a full-time chancellor and a full-time athletics director.

“Bill has stepped in during an extremely difficult period and done an outstanding job in leading our football program since August,” interim athletics director Paul Kowalczyk said in a statement. “Our student-athletes have responded in a positive manner and we feel he is the best person at this time to be the head coach. We wanted to allow Bill to make decisions regarding the program as the head coach without the interim title, and lead the Fighting Illini into Saturday’s game without speculation.”

Cubit’s extended contract will pay him $1.2 million annually. Former Illini head coach Tim Beckman made a reported $1.8 million.

“During the past three months, Coach Cubit has led this team with a steady and experienced hand,” interim chancellor Barbara Wilson said. “He has earned respect and appreciation from all of us. This move will allow the permanent Athletics Director to evaluate the program at his or her own schedule and make decisions based on those evaluations once that search is completed.”

Illinois is 5-6 this season, playing to extend its season at home against No. 16 Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU).

Tulane announces Curtis Johnson officially out as head coach

Curtis Johnson
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Confirming what was reported earlier this week, Tulane announced Saturday morning it had relieved head coach Curtis Johnson of duties.

Johnson closed his four-year tenure with a 45-34 loss to Tulsa Friday night, a game where the Green Wave led midway though the fourth quarter but were undone by two pick-sixes. He closes his run with a 15-34 record, peaking with a 7-6 mark and a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning only eight games in his other three seasons.

“I want to thank CJ for his hard work and his dedication to rebuilding the Green Wave football program,” Tulane AD Rick Dickson said in a statement. “His efforts were rewarded in 2013 when Tulane reached its first bowl in 11 years. Since then, however, the program has not progressed to the level that we aspire to.”

Similar to Illinois, Central Florida and possibly Rutgers, Tulane says it will find a replacement for Dickson (who originally said he’d step down mid-2016) before finding a new head coach.

Report: Rutgers AD Juile Hermann could be on the chopping block this weekend

Julie Hermann
Associated Press

Many assume Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood won’t survive this disappointing and scandal-ridden fourth season of his. But it could be his boss, the highly controversial Julie Hermann, that receives the ax first.

According to a report from Keith Sargeant of NJ.com, Hermann could see her 30-month tenure end as soon as this weekend.

“Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann is expected to meet with university President Robert Barchi before the end of the weekend, three people familiar with the situation told NJ Advance Media on Friday,” Sargeant wrote. “The meeting, presumably called by Barchi, is the first evidence the university’s administration is preparing to act.”

Sargeant writes that Hermann has been kept in the dark while the university conducts a top-to-bottom investigation into the football program’s compliance efforts. Flood was suspended three games and fined $50,000 earlier this season for overriding the church-state relationship between football and academics.

The results of that investigation could find Rutgers joining the ranks of Illinois and Central Florida among schools looking to hire an AD and head football coach at the same time.

“The futures of Flood and Hermann could hang on a report being compiled by the university’s office of enterprise risk management, ethics and compliance,” wrote Sargeant. “The report is expected to detail allegations of failed drug tests and other issues that could result in NCAA infractions and possible sanctions, multiple people familiar with the situation have told NJ Advance Media.”

In addition to a losing season on the field, Rutgers football has dealt with drug suspensions and player arrests off the field this fall.


AD says San Jose State coach Ron Caragher safe for 2016 despite missing bowl game

Ron Caragher
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A 40-23 loss to Boise State Friday condemned San Jose State to a third straight bowl-less season, but Spartans AD Gene Bleymaier said afterwards the setback would not result in a change in job status for head coach Ron Caragher.

“There’s no question about his status,” Bleymaier told the Contra Costa Times. “Ron’s our coach, and he’ll be our coach going forward.”

Hired away from San Diego to replace the departed Mike MacIntyre, Caragher is just 14-22 in three seasons leading the Spartans.

San Jose State did go 6-6 in his debut season of 2013 but did not garner a bowl invite.