David Cutcliffe

SEC title game coaches two of three Maxwell COTY finalists


Finalists for various awards continue to roll out with the 2013 regular season completed, with the Maxwell Football Club the latest to unveil its contender for a major non-playing honor.

Three finalists for the 2013 Maxwell Coach of the Year Award: Duke’s David Cutcliffe, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel.  Malzahn and Pinkel, of course, will square off in the SEC championship game Saturday, while Cutcliffe and his Blue Devils will face top-ranked Florida State in the ACC title game the same day.

Malzahn is in his first year as the Tigers’ head coach and is largely responsible for one of the most stunning turnarounds in FBS history.  Last season, AU was 3-9 overall and winless in SEC play; in 2013, Malzahn has led the Tigers to a one-loss season that has them playing for a conference championship and a potential spot in the BCS title game.

Entering 2013, many observers viewed Pinkel as a coach on the hot seat coming off a five-win 2012 season that included a 2-6 record in the Tigers’ first year in the SEC.  Instead, Mizzou won its first outright division title since 2008 and could claim its first outright conference championship since 1960.

And then there’s Cutcliffe.  All the sixth-year coach did was set a school record for wins in a season with 10 and guide the Blue Devils to their first-ever Coastal division title.  Duke will play in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time in the program’s 92-year history.  In the six years with Cutcliffe on the sidelines, the Blue Devils have won 31 games; in the 15 seasons prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival and dating back to 1993, Duke won a combined 33 games.  Eight of those wins came in 1994.

Report: Duke Williams injured Auburn teammate with punch in ‘bar rampage’

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 29:  D'haquille Williams #1 of the Auburn Tigers misses a touchdown catch in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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D’haquille Williams may have some additional explaining to do to NFL personnel if another report is accurate.

Monday night, Auburn announced that the star wide receiver had been dismissed from Gus Malzahn‘s football program.  A day later, reports surfaced that Williams’ dismissal came after he went on a weekend “bar rampage” following one of his friends getting the heave-ho from a local drinking establishment over a dress-code issue. It was alleged that Williams had punched a pair of security guards, a bartender’s assistant and an unnamed patron of the bar.

The unnamed, however, now has a name.

According to the ABC affiliate in Montgomery, Ala., and a citing a source close to the AU program, Tigers center Xavier Dampeer‘s jaw was on the receiving end of one of Williams’ alleged punches. The website wrote that “Dampeer has been treated and released from East Alabama Medical Center, according to a worker at the hospital.”

Malzahn was asked Tuesday if any other Tiger players were involved in the incident. “I’m not going to get into any details,” the coach said according to al.com.

No charges have been filed in connection to the incident.

“We cannot file charges until the injured person(s) comes forward,” Auburn police chief Paul Register told the television station. “Unless an officer personally sees a fight, no arrests can be made.”

Illini’s leading rusher, Josh Ferguson, officially ruled out vs. Iowa

Josh Ferguson, Jordan Italiano
Associated Press
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If Illinois is going to improve upon its solid 4-1 start to the 2015 season, it’ll have to do so without a significant cog in its offensive machinery.

On the official injury report release Thursday night, the Illini confirmed that Josh Ferguson has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against No. 22 Iowa.  The decision is not exactly a surprise as Ferguson has been doubtful in the run-up to the road game against the Hawkeyes.

Ferguson sustained an injury to his right shoulder in the first quarter of last Saturday’s last-second win over Nebraska, and has been unable to practice at all this week.

Ferguson’s 381 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 5.4 yards per carry are all tops on the team.  He’s added 12 receptions for 28 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.

With Ferguson sidelined, the bulk of the running-game load is expected to shift to Ke’Shawn Vaughn.  Through five games, Vaughn is second on the Illini with 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns.