Louisiana Lafayette v South Alabama

Louisiana-Lafayette hangs on to beat Tulane in New Orleans Bowl

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Hunter Stover’s 27-yard field goal was the difference in Louisiana-Lafayette’s 24-21 wild victory over Tulane in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night.

The Ragin’ Cajuns (9-4) got off to a great start and, for a while, looked like they were going to blow out the Green Wave (7-6). Quarterback Terrance Broadway and running backs Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris were sharp in the early going and, when Corey Trim turned a Nick Montana pass into an 82 yard interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter, ULL had a 21-0 lead.

But Tulane, playing in its first bowl game since 2002, didn’t give up.

Devin Powell relieved Montana and promptly led the Green Wave on two second-quarter touchdown drives (both finished off by short Orleans Darkwa scoring plunges) to cut the lead to seven. Tulane went into the half with momentum on its side.

Neither team got much going in the third quarter. Then Derrick Strozier picked off a Broadway pass and returned it to the ULL 17-yard line. After a false start, Darkwa went 22 yards for his third touchdown and the game was all tied up.

The game then turned into a field position battle. ULL gained the advantage by pinning Tulane on its own 3 yard line. Then Powell threw a horrible deep pass that was intercepted by Sean Thomas at the Green Wave 28 and returned to the 13-yard line. Tulane forced Stover’s field goal and the Rajin’ Cajuns regained the lead.

After the two teams traded punts, Tulane got the ball back on its own five-yard line with 1:35 to play. Powell made an extraordinary play on third down, avoiding the rush before hitting Justyn Shackleford for 34 yards and a first down on the Green Wave 39. A 27-yard pass to Ryan Grant set Tulane up at the ULL 34-yard line. With 2012 Groza Award winner Cairo Santos warming up, it looked like we’d be heading to overtime.

Santos lined up for a 48-yard field goal with 12 seconds to play. He reportedly made a 61-yarder in pre-game warmups, but he hooked this one slightly to the left and the Ragin’ Cajuns came away with the dramatic win.

It was a disappointing ending to Tulane’s season, but the Green Wave have to be excited about the direction of their program under first-year coach Curtis Johnson. A new on-campus stadium is in the works and, if they can keep Johnson around for a few years, bowls should become a regular occurrence.

The Rajin’ Cajuns now have three bowl victories in a row and their third-straight 9-4 season under coach Mark Hudspeth. With Broadway and the talented McGuire (48 rush yards, 91 receiving yards) coming back next season, this team is a candidate to finally hit that 10-win mark.

And so ends the first day of Bowl Season. If today is any indication, we’re in for a heckuva ride.

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.