Sportswriters name Auburn’s Gus Malzahn coach of the year

5 Comments

After guiding Auburn from a three-win season to the SEC championship and shot at a BCS championship, Gus Malzahn was named this year’s recipient of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award by the Football Writers Association of America.

“Certainly, the job Coach Malzahn has done this year warrants this award,” said FWAA President Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times. “It is one of the best turnarounds in college football history and to do it in the first year at a school even adds to the accomplishment.”

Malzahn was helped along the way by a couple of miraculous plays, against Georgia and Alabama, but the Tigers developed a powerful running game that few teams stand a chance of slowing down. Auburn got better as the season unfolded, and they hit their stride at the right time to leap past Alabama in the SEC West and pull away from Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. With a little luck on their side in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, Auburn slid right in to the BCS Championship Game against all odds at the start of the season.

“This is a huge honor, and I’m very humbled to be named the recipient of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award,” Malzahn said upon hearing the news. “I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Robinson and looked up to him as a coach and as an individual. I accept this award on behalf of our entire coaching staff and players, which have done an outstanding job this year getting our program turned around.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the FWAA but apparently missed the deadline to cast my vote. If I had gotten my vote in, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe would have been at the top of my ballot, but Malzahn has as strong a case as nay of the finalists for the award. Turning around Auburn was bound to happen for Malzahn, but few could have guessed his first year on the job would have gone quite this well. Cutcliffe did win the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award.

Malzahn is the third coach to win the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award in his first season on the job at a  school, joining former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen in 2001 and Tom Cahill at Army in 1966. He is also the second coach from Auburn to win the award, joining Tommy Tuberville, now at Cincinnati.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly won the award in 2012. Alabama’s Nick Saban was the last SEC coach to win the award, doing so in 2008.

Reports: ankle injury likely to keep WR Michael Pittman out of USC’s opener

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In his college football preview Bible, the great Phil Steele had Michael Pittman listed as one of three starting wide receivers for USC.  With the start of a new season a little more than two weeks away, Pittman doesn’t appear set to make that magazine projection come to fruition.

According to multiple reports, Pittman suffered an ankle injury during practice Tuesday and was taken off the field via a cart after having a boot placed on his left foot.  While X-rays taken post-practice showed no break or fracture, the sophomore has been diagnosed with the dreaded high-ankle sprain.

As a result, the Los Angeles Daily News writes that “[i]t seems unlikely he would be able to play against Western Michigan.” Rivals.com tweeted that the injury “[p]robably keeps him out of season opener.”

At least for now, the football program has yet to officially rule Pittman out for the opener.

Pittman was a four-star 2016 recruit, rated as the No. 9 receiver in the country.  As a true freshman last season, he caught six passes for 82 yards.

Next Chance U: Dismissed Oklahoma QB Chris Robison will join Auburn transfer John Franklin III at FAU

Getty Images
1 Comment

In a span of just a few hours, Lane Kiffin Tuesday bolstered his first Florida Atlantic roster with a pair of Power Five transfers.

In the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, Auburn confirmed that John Franklin III had decided to transfer from the Tigers in order to be closer to his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home. Not long after, the quarterback-turned-wide receiver revealed on his Instagram account that he is “coming home and looking forward to playing my last collegiate season at FAU under Coach Lane Kiffin.”

Franklin would come to the Owls as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility.

Thank you Tiger Nation #WDE

A post shared by John Franklin III (@jf3_5) on Aug 15, 2017 at 12:45pm PDT

Not even four hours later, Chris Robison took to social media on his private Twitter account to announce that he too will be transferring into Kiffin’s FAU program. The quarterback was dismissed by Oklahoma earlier this month for violating unspecified team rules.

A four-star member of the Sooners’ 2017 recruiting class, Robison was rated as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 29 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 173 recruit on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. As an early enrollee, Robison took part in spring practice and played in the spring game, completing 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards.

Roughly 12 hours after that game, he was arrested for being drunk in public. Because of only what were described as “personal reasons,” Robison wasn’t enrolled in summer classes and didn’t take part in football workouts during the same period.

Texas OT announces transfer from Texas Longhorns

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Texas Longhorns are a program many are expecting to see take a step forward in the first year with new head coach Tom Herman at the helm, but the Longhorns saw the depth on the offensive line just take a hit on Tuesday. Jean Delance, a former four-star recruit of the Longhorns, has announced via Twitter he is departing the program and has already been granted a release from his scholarship.

Reports out of Austin have suggested Delance was being moved around the offensive line with others competing for a spot on the line. Beyond looking for a fresh start, as Delance explains in his shared statement, the other factors leading to his decision have not been shared.

As for that fresh start, Delance will have to sit out the entire 2017 season if he transfers to another FBS program according to NCAA transfer rules. He would be ruled eligible to play this fall, however, if he transfers to a football program at the FCS level or below.

The Longhorns are already dealing with some offensive line concerns ahead of the start of the 2017 season. Elijah Rodriguez , a projected starter according to My San Antonio, will be missing some time due to an ankle issue that continues to linger.

Colorado and Northwestern line up future home-and-home series

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
1 Comment

Colorado and Northwestern have lined up a future home-and-home series for those planning ahead. The two schools announced a home-and-home series that will be played in 2025 and 2026, with each game being played on home campuses. None of that neutral field nonsense here!

Northwestern of the Big Ten will host Colorado of the Pac-12 on September 19, 2026. The Wildcats will make the trip to Boulder, Colorado the following season on September 11, 2027. The two schools have faced each other twice before, with Northwestern securing a 35-11 victory in 1951 and Colorado blowing out the Wildcats by a score of 55-7 in 1978. Each team won a game on their home field.

“This will be a great series for several reasons,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a released statement.  “Not only is it a quality match-up between two great academic and Pac-12 and Big Ten institutions, it’s important for us to get to that part of the country and the Chicago area for our alumni we have there.”

You may remember a few years back, before the Big Ten expanded to 14 members and both conferences had 12 members, the Pac-12 backed out of an arrangement for a full conference vs. conference scheduling agreement with the Big Ten. That would have been fun to watch, similar to the various conference vs. conference series in college basketball, so any time we can get a Big Ten and Pac-12 team on the same field is to be praised.

As a Big Ten member, Northwestern is required to schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent. Northwestern has the power conference scheduling commitment fulfilled in 2017 with Duke, 2018 (Duke, Notre Dame), 2019 (at Stanford), 2021 (at Duke), 2022 (Duke), 2023 (at Duke), 2024 (Duke), 2026 (Colorado), and now in 2027 (at Colorado).

The Pac-12 has no similar scheduling requirement for Colorado.