As has been the case more often this year than in pretty much any other in recent memory, an athletic director is standing behind an embattled head coach.
The most recent example is West Virginia’s Oliver Luck, who released a statement Tuesday confirming that Dana Holgorsen will return as the Mountaineers’ head coach in 2014. The decision came after the athletic director and coach “met at length and reviewed this past season.”
“In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect,” Luck’s statement read, in part.
Left unmentioned by Luck was Holgorsen’s hefty buyout.
Reportedly, it would cost the university in excess of $11 million for Holgersen alone if he were fired without cause — and that doesn’t include buyouts for current assistants along with hiring an entire new staff. While the move from the Big East to the Big 12 was made in large part for the additional conference revenue, the financial hit the athletic department would take for cleaning house is much too prohibitive — especially for an athletic department that’s still not receiving a full share of league revenue.
After going 10-3 his first season in 2011, Holgorsen has gone 7-6 and 4-8 in the Mountaineers’ first two seasons in the Big 12.
Below is the full text of Luck’s statement:
First, I want to thank all Mountaineer fans who supported our football team through a difficult and trying season. Though there were some high points this year, including our upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State and the inspired play from many first year student-athletes, there were far too many disappointments.
We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field. Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season. We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program. We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.
I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing. In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.
We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.
Coach Holgorsen and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, securing the future for a successful Mountaineer football program. We need to do our part as well by continuing to move forward with the facility improvements needed to compete at the highest level in our conference.
We have high expectations for the 2014 football team, and I have shared those with Coach Holgorsen. He and his staff are eager to get started to prepare for our opening game against Alabama. We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do.
We have tremendous student-athletes in our program and a very accomplished core of coaches who want to bring championships back to West Virginia University. We will do all we can to help them in that endeavor, and I ask for your continued support as we move forward to a brighter future.
The Willie Taggart era at Oregon is barely a month old, and already the first crisis has arrived.
A report from The Oregonian uncovered that at least three Ducks football players have been sent to the hospital after undergoing grueling workouts administered by new strength coach Irele Oderinde, who followed Taggart from South Florida. Offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick are in “fair condition” at Springfield’s PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend, where they have remained since late last week.
Poutasi has reportedly been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a soft tissue condition triggered by overwork that can lead to kidney damage.
While those three players remained hospitalized, The Oregonian reports the rest of the team was required to complete the same workouts this week:
The sources said that some players “passed out” and others later complained of discolored urine, which is a common symptom of rhabdomyolysis. After testing, others were found to have highly elevated levels of creatine kinase, an indicator of the syndrome.
“The safety and welfare of all of our student-athletes is paramount in all that we do,” Oregon said in a statement to The Oregonian. “While we cannot comment on the health of our individual students, we have implemented modifications as we transition back into full training to prevent further occurrences.
“We thank our medical staff and trainers for their continued monitoring of the students and we will continue to support our young men as they recover.”
Taggart visited the players in Riverbend before leaving the state to recruit, the paper reported.
Brenner is entering his senior season, while Poutasi and McCormick redshirted last fall.
Tennessee is still in search of its next athletics director, which has become a point of contention lately — and especially over the past 24 hours.
Alabama hired Greg Byrne away from Arizona without ever letting the job hit the open market, which begs the question, just what the heck are they doing in Knoxville? Outgoing AD Dave Hart has been outgoing since before football season started. Getting outmaneuvered by their rivals to the south — their immensely more successful rivals to the south, at least in the sport that matters in Tennessee — has created turmoil for an athletics department that majors in it.
As an apparent slice of red meet to the fans, the Vols let it be known Monday Phillip Fulmer is a serious candidate for their AD job.
“Fulmer has grown close to Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and a group of influential boosters have been working behind the scenes to help install him as Dave Hart’s replacement, according to people close to the situation,” Wolken writes.
Fulmer has exactly zero athletics director experience, but he is a harken back to the glory days of yonder for the Volunteers. He went 152-52 in 17 seasons with six top-10 finishes, three SEC titles, six SEC East crowns and a national championship in 1998.
In fact, even the “bad” Fulmer seasons — a .531 SEC winning percentage with one top-15 finish and one SEC East championship from 2005-08 — compare favorably with the marks of his three successors. Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones have collectively posted a .349 SEC winning percentage with zero top-15 finishes and zero SEC East championships in the eight seasons since Fulmer’s dumping.
It’s not clear what Fulmer brings to the department beyond a familiar face and a living, breathing link to the glory days, but perhaps those attributes are good enough at Tennessee.
Missouri State running back Richard Nelson was fatally shot in the back while attempting to break up a fight on Saturday night. He was 18 years old.
According to a description of the altercation from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nelson was at his home in his native Las Vegas when he attempted to break up a fight between his older sister and “several individuals” when one of the individuals shot Nelson multiple times. Officers responded to a call and transported him to Sunrise Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“I saw blood and everything,” Nelson’s girlfriend Christina Martinez told the Review-Journal. “The next thing I know, I look at him in the eyes. I touch his head and his eyes are closed. I heard his last breath and I just cried and cried,” she said Sunday. “I knew at that moment that I should have done something more. I wish I could have hugged him one last time. I wish I could have kissed him and said goodbye.”
Nelson planned to fly back to Missouri on Sunday to begin preparations for his redshirt freshman season in 2017.
“Our Missouri State football family is in shock and mourning at the loss of one of our family members,” Missouri State coach Dave Steckel said in a statement. “Richard is like a son and a brother. It is a tragedy that he lost his life defending what is right. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in Las Vegas, and we know he is in a good place with God. We ask everyone to respect the privacy of our football family at this time as we begin the healing process.”
“Richard is like a son and a brother,” added Missouri State AD Kyle Moats. “It is a tragedy that he lost his life defending what is right. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in Las Vegas, and we know he is in a good place with God.”
The average college football team topped 30 points per game for the first time in the game’s history, according to data compiled and released by the NCAA.
The typical team scored 30.04 points per game this fall, busting the record of 29.7 points per game per team set last fall. The Big 12 led all conferences with an average of 33.58 points per game. Western Kentucky led all teams with 45.5 points per game.
Consequently, the 2016 season also set the record for the longest average game time in FBS history.
As Dennis Dodd for CBS Sports notes, this is the seventh time since 2000 the average scoring record has been broken. That same record was broken 19 times in the previous 63 seasons.
This season also saw records broken for average total offense (417.5 yards per game), yards per play (5.83), yards per pass attempt (7.39) and touchdowns per game (3.82).
However, teams did average 182.99 rushing yards per game, the highest number since 1979.