Jim Mora

USC and UCLA face off in battle for Los Angeles

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It’s been quite a while since USC and UCLA both fielded quality football teams for their annual crosstown showdown.

The last time this classic rivalry featured both teams with at least eight wins was back in 2005, when USC was 11-0 and the Bruins were 9-1.

The stakes aren’t quite as high this time, but Saturday’s game between No. 22 UCLA (8-3) and No. 23 USC (9-3) at the Coliseum promises to be a good one.

The Trojans are one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12 thanks to a five-game win streak that includes a huge upset of then-No. 5 Stanford. Ed Orgeron is 6-1 as USC’s head coach since taking over for the fired Lane Kiffin and could make a great case to be elevated to permanent coach with a win over the Bruins.

UCLA has lost to three teams ranked in the top 13 and missed out on a chance to win its third-straight Pac-12 South title when it lost to ASU last week. But the Bruins can notch their second-straight nine-win season by beating the Trojans. It could also beat USC in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1997-1998.

The outcome of this game will effect the battle for recruiting supremacy in the Los Angeles area. The two schools consistently duke it out for top talent in the region and USC has been dominant in this regard for the better part of the last decade. But UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. has turned things around in Westwood and he can continue to make inroads by beating the Trojans.

For UCLA to win, it will need a big game from sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, who has passed for 2,637 yards and 22 touchdowns to go with 507 rushing yards and seven scores. He’s got several weapons to throw to and a talented back to hand off to in Myles Jack, but the Bruins won’t be able to do much without a quality effort from a very young offensive line. USC’s front seven is as good as there is in the conference, so if Hundley is running for his life, then things won’t end well for the Bruins.

USC also needs a good game from its quarterback, sophomore Cody Kessler. His improvement has mirrored that of his team’s and he has 2,449 yards and 15 touchdown passes so far. Tailback Javorious Allen has been on fire of late, rushing for 439 yards and nine touchdowns in the past four games. UCLA’s brilliant linebacker corps will be key in stopping the USC offensive game plan, which relies on a physical ground game and a short passing attack.

The Trojans were left for dead earlier this season but could wind up with 10 wins despite a coaching change, NCAA sanctions and a ton of injuries. UCLA is still hoping for its first 10-win season since 2005, but will need to beat USC to get there.

Above all, the city is at stake, as well as bragging rights for the year to come.

Report: Tommy Tuberville considering running for governor of Alabama

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 19:  Head Coach Tommy Tuberville of Auburn University tries to avoid a bucket of water while celebrating their win over the University of Alabama on November 19, 2005 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.  Auburn defeated Alabama 28-18.   (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Hey, if it’s good enough for The Donald and Jesse The Body it’s good enough for The Tubs.

After stepping down as Cincinnati’s head coach in early December, Tommy Tuberville has remained on the coaching unemployment line and appears set to sit out the 2017 season.  It looks like Tuberville won’t be sitting idly by, though, as Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com is reporting that the coach is considering throwing his hat into the political ring and making a gubernatorial run in the state of Alabama in 2018.

From Dodd’s report:

Two words — Donald Trump,” said Terry Lathan, the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, when she heard Tuberville was a possibility for the GOP. “See, Nov. 8.”

“I mean, seriously, the climate for a non-political person? We saw this clearly on November the 8th …,” Lathan reiterated.

“We’ve just got a big old soup of fun waiting for us. As they say in stands, ‘We’re going to need some more popcorn.’

Tuberville, an Arkansas native who’s never held political office, is expected to decide in the next week or two whether or not he’ll run for governor of Alabama.  Most famously, he was the head coach at Auburn from 1999-2008 after abruptly leaving Ole Miss, helping to guide the Tigers to a six-game winning streak over the rival Alabama Crimson Tide during his tenure.

The guess here is that Tuberville runs, wins despite any lingering ‘Bama venom, then, not long after saying “they’ll have to carry me out of this governor’s mansion in a pine box,” leaves Alabama to take the same job in Mississippi.

Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas among seven finalists for transferring Clemson DT

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 07:  Scott Pagano #56 of the Clemson Tigers tries to stop Sean Maguire #10 of the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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It appears one prominent graduate transfer is zeroing in on a new college football home.

Not long after it was confirmed that Scott Pagano would be transferring from Clemson, a report surfaced that three dozen or so teams had expressed interest in the defensive tackle.  Pagano has since whittled that number down to seven, with 247Sports.com reporting that Arkansas, Cal, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas are the lineman’s finalists.

Pagano’s former head coach, Dabo Swinney, had previously stated that the tackle would “probably” end up at a West Coast school to finish out his career.

The recruiting website writes that “Pagano will now begin setting up official visits for the coming weekends before enrolling in May.” This upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. Pagano started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

Derwin James, Nate Andrews among 11 for FSU to earn medical redshirts

ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 05:  Derwin James #3 of the Florida State Seminoles reacts after a play against the Mississippi Rebels during the Camping World Kickoff at Camping World Stadium on September 5, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Things were a little busy on the personnel front for Florida State Monday.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Derwin James and Nate Andrews were two of the 11 Seminole football players who received redshirts for the 2016 season.  The twin safeties received their medical hardship waivers because of injuries, James a meniscus tear suffered in Week 2 that kept him out for the rest of the year and Andrews a torn pectoral that sidelined him for the last half of the season.

While the move would technically give James three more years of eligibility, the talented defensive back is widely expected to make himself available for the 2018 NFL draft.  Andrews will be a fifth-year senior in his final year of eligibility.

As a true freshman in 2015, James’ 91 tackles were second only to Reggie Northrup’s 94. He was also second on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (4.5).

For that, he was named a consensus freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC.  This offseason, he was named to the Bednarik AwardNagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award watch lists.

Andrews has started 22 games during his time with the Seminoles.

At the other end of the personnel spectrum is Ryan Hoefield, with TomahawkNation.com reporting that the offensive lineman has not only decided to leave FSU but leave the sport, period.  According to the website, Hoefield will graduate this spring and take a job in the medical field.

Hoefield played in nine games the past three years, only one f which came in 2016 and likely hastened his departure from the Seminoles.

DB Cedrick Wright no longer a part of the Miami football program

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 29: Head coach Mark Richt of the Miami Hurricanes is seen during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 29, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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College football free agency continues unabated this morning, with Miami the latest to see its roster a little lighter than it once was.

The Hurricanes announced in a press release that Cedrick Wright is no longer a member of Mark Richt‘s program.  No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.

“I talked to Cedrick and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” the head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

The departure marks the end of a brief but eventful career for the defensive back with the ‘Canes.

Wright was a three-star member of The U’s 2016 recruiting class who played in nine games as a true freshman.  He was also suspended for the Week 12 game against North Carolina State because of unspecified violations of team rules, and missed the team’s bowl game as well because of academics.