In late September, it was announced that the NCAA had decided to ease the scholarship restrictions slapped on the Penn State football program as part of the historic sanctions meted out in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
That, though, may not be the last time the university sees some relief.
George Mitchell, who was hired by the NCAA as an independent “integrity monitor,” met with Penn State trustees Friday and while no further reductions are imminent, he could recommend that be the case upon the release of his next report next September if the university continues its “quality response” to the Plan for Continuous Improvement.
It was Mitchell who recommended the initial reduction of a portion of the penalties. As was the case in that first round of reduction, any relief would have to be signed off on by the NCAA and Big Ten.
While Mitchell declined to discuss specific penalties that could be in line for a reduction, the one that makes the most sense would be the bowl ban.
The Nittany Lions are in the second year of a four-year ban on postseason play. If Mitchell makes the recommendation next September, the program could potentially see at least a year sliced off that sanction, which would mean the Nittany Lions would be eligible for the postseason — including the Big Ten championship game — following the 2014 regular season rather than the 2015 season.
A Mitchell recommendation to take a year off the bowl ban would likely, in essence, be rubber-stamped by both the NCAA and the school’s conference. How the former would respond to a Mitchell recommendation of cutting the ban in half is unclear.
It appears Pat Fitzgerald will still be stalking the sidelines in Evanston deep into the next decade.
Tuesday afternoon, Northwestern announced that it has reached an agreement with Fitzgerald, the program’s Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Coach, on a multi-year contract extension. The 42-year-old Fitzgerald’s extension would keep him as the coach of the Wildcats through the 2026 season.
Fitzgerald will be entering his 17th season as a coach at the school, 11 of those as head coach. From 1993-96, Fitzgerald was an All-American linebacker for the Wildcats and ultimately inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player.
“This is home for me and my family, and I love this University,” a statement from Fitzgerald began. “I’m extremely privileged to coach the exceptional young men we invite here to earn the best education in college football and compete at the highest level in the Big Ten Conference. The best is yet to come, and we’re excited for the future.”
In his 11 seasons, Fitzgerald has guided NU to a 77-62 record overall and a 41-48 mark in Big Ten play. Fitzgerald has accounted for two of NU’s four 10-win seasons the program has produced, with both of those coming in the the last five seasons.
He is the winningest football coach in the school’s history.
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
In late February, reports surfaced that Tommy Tuberville was giving serious consideration to running for governor in the state of Alabama. Earlier this month, the former Auburn head coach had loaned his newly-formed campaign $100,000 as he filed the paperwork to form a principal campaign committee ahead of a potential gubernatorial run.
According to a report from 247Sports.com, the run has stopped before it ever really got started. Citing a person familiar with the situation, AuburnUndercover.com writes that “Tuberville will not run for governor in Alabama after two months of exploring the possibility in 2018.”
Other media outlets have subsequently confirmed the initial report.
Tuberville himself has yet to make an official announcement, although that could come as early as today. A Tuberville aide did confirm the news, however, telling the ABC affiliate in Montgomery, Ala., that “Mr. Tuberville decided this morning the timing for him to enter governor’s race is not right,” with Tripp Skipper adding, “He feels led to pursue other opportunities.”
Whether those other opportunities include a continuation of his long-time coaching career remains to be seen.
The 62-year-old Tuberville spent 10 seasons as the head coach at Auburn, famously guiding the Tigers to a six-game winning streak over the rival Alabama Crimson Tide during his tenure. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have Nick Saban,” Tuberville said in a late-March radio interview when asked why Alabama football fans should vote for him.
A head coach most of the past two decades, Tuberville has a 159-99 record in stops that included Ole Miss (1995-98), Texas Tech (2010-12) and Cincinnati (2013-16) in addition to his time on The Plains.
Not long after Miami put the wraps on its second spring practice under Mark Richt, the chase to replace Brad Kaaya under center has seen a significant development.
In a press release Tuesday, The U announced that Jack Allison has decided to leave the Hurricanes football program. The redshirt freshman quarterback’s decision was triggered by a desire for a better shot at playing time elsewhere.
“Jack approached me and indicated that he felt like he would have more opportunities for playing time at another program,” the head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
The strong-armed Allison, who suffered a shoulder injury this past weekend, exited spring practice behind Malik Rosier, Kaaya’s backup the past two seasons, and Evan Shirreffs on the quarterback depth chart. Additionally, four-star 2017 signee N’Kosi Perry is expected to join the fray this summer and compete for the starting job as well.
A four-star 2016 signee, Allison was rated as the No. 8 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 27 player at any position in the state of Florida. He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.
Allison is the second Hurricane to transfer out of the program since the curtain closed on spring practice. Monday, the university confirmed that defensive back Jeff James, the nephew of former U great Edgerrin James, “felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else.”
Duke announced in late February that a pair of sophomore defensive linemen, Brandon Boyce and Marquies Price (pictured), had been dismissed by David Cutcliffe. As it turns out, the linemen will continue their collegiate playing careers as teammates.
On their personal Twitter accounts Monday, both Both Price and Boyce revealed their intentions to transfer to South Florida, the former by way of a relatively lengthy missive and the latter with a simple picture of a USF helmet.
Neither first-year head coach Charlie Strong nor the football program itself have confirmed the twin additions.
Both players will be forced to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws. They will each then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.
Price started all 11 games in which he played during the 2016 season, and started 14 in his career. His six quarterback hurries last year were second on the team.
Boyce played in 21 games during his time with the Blue Devils. Eight of those appearances came in 2016.
In mid-August, it was announced that Boyce was one of two football players suspended for the first three games of last season. Unspecified violations of team rules was the only reason given for that punitive measure.