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Sorry, Charley: UMass fires Molnar after two seasons

Charley Molnar AP

Uh, Merry Christmas?

One day after celebrating the birth of Jesus, the death of Charley Molnar‘s head-coaching tenure at UMass was confirmed, with the Minutemen announcing that Molnar has been relieved of his duties.

Molnar’s two seasons with the Minutemen coincided with the football program’s move from the FCS to the FBS in 2012.  In those two years, UMass has gone just 2-22 — one win in 2012 and one in 2013.

The university will owe Molnar the $836,000 for the remaining three years on his original contract.

“We want to thank Charley Molnar for his service and the extraordinary time and energy he devoted to coaching the Minutemen as we entered competition in the Football Bowl Subdivision,” athletic director John McCutcheon said. “It has become clear, however, that we must improve our performance in several areas and move in a new direction to ensure success in the FBS. Going forward, we must build a strong foundation to win on the field and stimulate enthusiasm and support for the program throughout the university community.”

Molnar came to UMass after spending 2010 and 2011 as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame.  There would appear to be a possibility for a return to South Bend for Molnar as Irish coordinator Chuck Martin, who replaced Molnar in 2012, was hired as Miami of Ohio’s new head coach earlier this month.

With Molnar’s dismissal, there are just two jobs open at the FBS level: Texas and UMass.

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Winston slight favorite over Mariota in Bovada Heisman odds

Jameis Winston AP

If Jameis Winston is going to go back-to-back in stiff-armed trophies at the end of the year, he’ll do so as the wagering favorite entering the season.

Just as it did with the College Football Playoff, Bovada.lv released its final set of preseason Heisman Trophy odds, with the Florida State quarterback the slight favorite at 9/2.  Those are the same odds Winston held back Aug. 5.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, however, has gained some ground on the reigning Heisman winner at 5/1; earlier this month, Mariota stood at 6/1.  He began the year, however, at 7/2.

Winston’s odds have also gone up since January, when they were at 2/1.

It’s at this point in the program where I’m compelled to remind you that, last year around this time, Johnny Manziel, fresh off becoming the first freshman to ever claim the Heisman, was being viewed as the co-favorite to become just the second-ever to stake his claim to a pair of stiff-armed trophies. AJ McCarron, still basking in the glow of becoming the first starting quarterback with back-to-back BCS title-game wins, was viewed as a potential challenger to Johnny Football. So too were Braxton Miller, Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater and a whole host of other players.

And then, of course, Winston happened. A 35-1 longshot last August, Winston went on to claim the 2013 Heisman in near-record fashion, joining Manziel as the only freshmen to win the award.  So, are there any potential Winstons in this year’s group?

Perhaps a teammate like running back Karlos Williams at 33/1.  Or, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato at 50/1, although it would take the alignment of myriad stars across several galaxies for the Non-Power Five conference player to earn a trip to New York City let alone win it.

Just one true freshman made Bovada’s cut: LSU running back Leonard Fournette at 33/1.  Back in early August, the much-hyped back was at 66/1.  Fournette also marks the first a true freshman, which has never won claimed a Heisman, to make an appearance on Bovada’s preseason odds.

Below are the full set of odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

Bovada Final 2014 Preseason Heisman Odds

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‘Noles, Tide 1-2 in final Bovada CFP odds

Gambling neon sign, Las Vegas, USA

With the 2014 FBS season officially set to kick off tonight — yes, Abilene Christian-Georgia State and not Texas A&M-South Carolina — Bovada.lv has released its final set of preseason odds on winning the first-ever College Football Playoff.

In the previous set of odds released by the wagering website, both Florida State and Alabama were listed as the co-favorites to win the playoff at 11/2.  Heading into the season, however, it’s the Seminoles alone at 4/1, followed by the Tide at 5/1.

Those two are followed by Oregon at 15/2, followed by Auburn and Oklahoma at 10/1.  UCLA and Georgia are up next at 14/1 and 16/1.

Ohio State, which just a week ago in the wake of the season-ending injury to Braxton Miller saw its title odds plummet from 10/1 to 40/1, is back up to 20/1.  The Buckeyes are still ahead odds-wise of Michigan State (25/1), which is now viewed as the Big Ten frontrunner because of Miller’s injury.

Bovada sports book manager Kevin Bradley explained that, as it relates to the initial reaction to the Miller injury, there was “possibly an over-adjustment on our part as we saw an influx of bets on them within hours.”

The biggest jump among Top 25 was Wisconsin, which went from 33/1 to 25/1.  The biggest dip was, of course, OSU.

The longest odds listed?  Call at 1,000/1.  The shortest odds for a Non-Power Five conference member?  At 200/1, Marshall, which was off the board the last time odds were released.

In fact, the heard is the only “mid-major” listed.

Below are the full set of odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

(Note: teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same.)

Bovada Final 2014 Preseason Odds

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Booted UW Husky Farria drops down to FCS level

Justin Arias, Marcus Farria AP

Three weeks after being summarily dismissed by Washington, Marcus Farria has found a new football home.

By way of the Tacoma News-Tribune, Farria’s name now appears on the online roster for the Murray State Racers.  Normally a transfer from the FBS to the FCS would have immediate eligibility; however, the News-Tribune writes that “Farria’s eligibility status is unclear.”

Farria was dismissed by first-year UW head coach Chris Petersen earlier this month for violating unspecified team rules.

Despite playing in just seven games last season as a true freshman, Farria totaled 2.5 sacks, which was tied for fifth on the team.

A three-star member of UW’s 2013 recruiting class, Farria was rated as the No, 23 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Arizona. As for clues to a potential landing spot, Farria received offers coming out of high school from, among others, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Utah.

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USC transfer Ty Isaac has waiver denied; Michigan files appeal

USC v California

It doesn’t appear Ty Isaac will be available for Michigan in 2014, but the Wolverines aren’t going out without a fight.

Head coach Brady Hoke confirmed Wednesday that the running back’s initial appeal for a medical hardship waiver has been denied by the NCAA.  However, the school is appealing that decision, hoping that Isaac will be declared eligible to play immediately at UM.  The second appeal occurred last week; there’s no word on whether an answer will come prior to the season opener against Appalachian State Saturday.

The appeal is based on the health of his mother, who is having complications after undergoing a surgical procedure to correct a hearing loss.  Because of the complications, she is unable to fly.  Isaac’s mother lives in Joliet, Ill., and Isaac transferred  from USC in order to be closer to her.

Isaac also considered Illinois after leaving the Trojans in May before landing at Michigan a month later.

If Isaac were to be granted immediately eligibility, he possesses the kind of talent that would allow him to contribute immediately.

As a true freshman in 2013, Isaac rushed for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 40 carries. Coming out of high school, Isaac was a five-star recruit rated as the No. 4 back in the country and the No. 27 player at any position in the country.

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Tar Heels bracing for another defensive line hit

North Carolina v South Carolina

Already reeling from a reported incident of hazing, the North Carolina football team could see its defensive line take yet another hit as well.

An undisclosed eligibility issue has been hanging over the head fo defensive tackle Ethan Farmer throughout summer camp, even as he’s continued to practice with the team.  The Raleigh News & Observer writes that “it’s unclear whether he’ll play when the Tar Heels open the season on Saturday at home against Liberty – or whether he’ll play at all this season.”

For his part, head coach Larry Fedora has all but ruled the senior out of this weekend’s game.

“I’d love to… But I don’t anticipate anything,” Fedora said when asked if there would be any news on Farmer’s availability prior to the opener. “It’s out of our control, so I don’t – I don’t know the speed of it. Nobody has indicated to me it’ll happen one way or the other. So I have no way of knowing. We’re preparing both ways, actually. Which makes it a little bit tougher.”

Farmer was expected to be a starting tackle heading into camp.

Late last month, a pair of defensive linemen, Shawn Underwood and Greg Webb, abruptly decided to leave the football program.

Underwood played in 20 games the past two seasons, starting five of those contests. He would’ve entered summer camp as a favorite to land a starting job.

Webb, a touted four-star member of UNC’s 2013 recruiting class, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season and would’ve been a part of the line rotation.

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VIDEO: Rick Neuheisel sings ‘Stairway to Playoffs’

Rick Neuheisel

It’s no “Born in the SEC,” or even the tributes to Johnny Manziel and “Coach O,” but it’ll do in a pinch.

During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show Wednesday, former UCLA, Colorado and Washington head coach/current Pac-12 Network analyst/current crooner  Rick Neuheisel debuted yet another singing ode to the great game of college football.  In this one, Neuheisel pays tribute to the College Football Playoff, which will replace the BCS as the system used to determine an FBS champion.

The host got a kick out of Neuheisel’s rendition.  I think you will as well.

Click play on the video below and enjoy Neuheisel’s performance — including a mini-tribute to the original’s lengthy guitar solo and a nod to Jameis Winston‘s crab caper.

 

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A&M transfer wins appeal, will play for Baylor in 2014

Ishmael Wilson

As it turns out, Baylor will indeed have a SEC transfer at its disposal in 2014.

During a radio interview, Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw confirmed that Ishmael Wilson was awarded a waiver by the NCAA and will be immediately eligible to play for the Bears this fall.  The offensive lineman and the school were notified of the successful appeal Tuesday.

Wilson was not listed on the Bears’ most recent two-deep depth chart, but, because of the positive ruling, he’s expected to be a part of whatever rotation is utilized on the right side of the line.

A four-star member of Texas A&M’s 2013 recruiting class, Wilson was rated as the No. 17 offensive tackle in the country.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

In early July, Wilson confirmed that he was leaving A&M and transferring to Baylor.

(Photo credit: Texas A&M athletics)

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Two legal incidents preceded UK WR’s suspension

Rashad Alexander

When it was announced that Rashad Cunningham was one of two Kentucky football players suspended for the season opener, the reason given was, of course, unspecified violations of team rules.  We now know, however, a little more of what preceded Cunningham’s suspension.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the wide receiver was involved in a pair of legal incidents this offseason.  The first, the paper writes, “involved a noise violation at his residence and a subsequent citation for failing to pay the fines in that case.”

The second one was a bit more serious as Cunningham was charged with misdemeanor theft of property. Cunningham has a trial date on that charge set for early November.

Cunningham told the Herald-Leader that, as it relates to the second charge, it was simply a “misunderstanding between the subject and myself.” He also denies that his suspension is connected to the two incidents.

UK has declined to say whether the issues were the impetus for the one-game ban.

Cunningham, who has not yet caught a pass during his three seasons in Lexington, is not listed on UK’s two-deep depth chart. He did, though, have eight catches for 80 yards in the spring game a few months ago.

Coming out of high school in Mobile, Ala., Cunningham was a three-star member of the Wildcats’ 2011 recruiting class.

(Photo credit: Kentucky athletics)

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Would DGB stay, play for Sooners in 2015?

Dorial Green-Beckham AP

When the NCAA stunningly did the right thing and denied Dorial Green-Beckham‘s waiver appeal for immediate eligibility, most thought that the talented but troubled wide receiver would never play a down for Oklahoma and instead, eventually, make himself available for the 2015 NFL draft.

While that’s still a possibility, or even a likelihood, it’s not a certainty. At least, if DGB’s head coach’s words can be taken at face value it’s not.

Bob Stoops was asked Monday about the possibility of Green-Beckham sticking around and playing for the Sooners in 2015. Surprisingly, the coach said the player hadn’t closed the door on that football route, at least not yet.

That isn’t something that’s been decided,” Stoops said of Green-Beckham’s stay-or-go decision according to the Oklahoman. “Right now it seems that he wants to [play for OU next season] and is heading that way and we want to support him in every possible way.”

That said, most would view it as a monumental upset if Green-Beckham were playing college football in 2015.

Despite the myriad off-field issues that led to his dismissal from Missouri, Green-Beckham is still one of the most physically gifted and talented receivers in the country. Yes, some NFL teams might flag him on character issues, but more would likely drool over the prospect of adding the 6-6, 225-pound physical specimen that is Green-Beckham.

As is the case with all draft-eligible non-seniors, Green-Beckham will have until mid-January to file his paperwork and declare himself for the NFL draft if that’s the route he takes.

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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 2 Oregon

Marcus Mariota

2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-2 in Pac-12 Conference (2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Alamo Bowl vs. Texas (30-7 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 9/No. 9
Head coach: Mark Helfrich (11-2 overall; 11-2 in one year at Oregon)
Offensive coordinator: Scott Frost (5th year at Oregon)
2013 offensive rankings: 9th rushing offense (273.5 ypg); 21st passing offense (291.5 ypg); 2nd total offense (565 ypg); 4th scoring offense (45.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: eight
Defensive coordinator: Don Pellum (22nd year at Oregon)
2013 defensive rankings: 66th rushing defense (165.5 ypg); 21st passing defense (204.5 ypg);  37th total defense (370.1 ypg); 13th scoring defense (20.5 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: five
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Stadium: Autzen Stadium (58,000; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2011

THE GOOD
The most underrated aspect of Oregon’s football program is the commitment found within its coaching staff. It’s not to say there hasn’t been turnover in the program. Head coach Chip Kelly left the Ducks prior to last season. Defensive coordinator Nick Allioti retired during the offseason after spending 24 seasons with the program. Instead of rushing out to hire the hottest coach available on the market, the program simply promotes from within. Mark Helfrich is now entering his second season as the team’s head coach after serving as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator the previous four seasons. The team’s new defensive coordinator, Don Pellum, spent 22 years as a full-time assistant. During the last 16 years, Pellum was tasked with coaching the linebackers. While each promotion brings slight tweaks to the system, the influences of Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti during their tenures as head coach remains a part of the program. The Ducks have continued to build from the day Brooks was hired as their head coach in 1977  to today. As a result of the continuity built within program, Oregon has developed into one of the premier programs in the nation. A program that has the talent to win a national championship this season.

THE BAD
The tempo at which the Ducks operate on offense is always a double-edged sword. While the offense can be impossible to stop at times, the defense can also be gashed by opponents. When the Ducks went to the BCS National Championship Game in Jan. 2011, they surrendered 346 yards per game and the offensive’s time of possession was 27:54 minutes per game. During each of the past three seasons, the Ducks have given up more yards per game and operated at a faster pace. It’s not a good combination. The Ducks have had talent on the defensive side of the football during those years, but they simply didn’t play to the same level that finally led them to the title game. This season isn’t any different. Senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is arguably the best cornerback in college football. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead is a considered an early-round prospect for the 2015 NFL draft. Defensive end Tony Washington returns after leading the team with seven sacks last season. The team’s leading tackler, Derrick Malone, is also back in the middle of the defense. There is talent at all three levels of the Ducks defense. Oregon is more than just a flashy offense. The team’s defense has to play at a high level for the Ducks to be a part of the first College Football Playoff.

THE UNKNOWN
Kelly’s approach to offensive line play was there wasn’t much difference between playing guard and tackle in his system. The system hasn’t changed under Helfrich, but the importance of the tackle position is far more pertinent this season. The team’s senior left tackle, Tyler Johnstone, re-tore his ACL at the start of fall camp. It caused Helfrich to reshuffle his offensive line. Junior Andre Yruretagoyena will replace Johnstone on the blindside. There are two issues any time there are major changes along the offensive line. The first is building continuity within the unit to operate at a high level. Due to the team’s heavy zone-blocking scheme and its tempo on offense, this can be especially difficult to establish. The Ducks also lost the leadership and experience Johnstone brought to the lineup after starting 26 straight games. Furthermore, Yruretagoyena will be protecting the blindside of the one of the nations’ top quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota. The No. 1 goal for the Oregon’s offensive line this season is keep Mariota healthy. And that proposition may be a little more difficult with the veteran at left tackle.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Stanford
There is no other choice here. The Cardinal dashed the Ducks’ national championship aspirations the past two seasons. The two games were evenly matched with Stanford’s win margin at only nine points. But Stanford is as much a mental obstacle for Oregon as it is a physical one. Very few teams have slowed Oregon’s explosive offense in recent years. Yet, Stanford has seemed to find the secret recipe with their physical 3-4 defense. The Ducks simply haven’t been able to gash the Cardinal for big plays. And most of that has to do with a defensive front that consistently plays in the backfield. The Ducks averaged as least 537 yards per game the last two seasons. Stanford has held Oregon at least 120 yards below its average in each contest. Oregon simply hasn’t been able to get on track against Stanford. The Ducks can’t fail against Stanford again this year, or their season will be a major disappointment.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: QB Marcus Mariota
Let’s compare Mariota’s resume last season to Jameis Winston‘s, shall we? Mariota threw for 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Mariota also ran for 715 yards and nine touchdowns. Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, threw for 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He added 219 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. While Winston was the clear favorite to win the Heisman last season, Mariota wasn’t far behind the redshirt freshman. When last year’s play is considered and  two factors are added into the equation, Mariota could be the favorite to win the trophy this season. There are two reasons why Mariota’s numbers weren’t quite as spectacular as Winston’s in 2013. The Oregon quarterback suffered a slight knee injury during the second half of the season which limited his play, and he played one less game than Winston. A fully healthy Mariota is arguably the best NFL prospect in the entire country. While professional potential doesn’t translate to college football awards, it does exclude Mariota from any excuses if he doesn’t make a national title run with the Ducks this season and capture the school’s first Heisman Trophy.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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Ty Montgomery cleared, expected to start Stanford’s opener

California v Stanford Getty Images

After it was first thought Stanford would be without its top offensive threat for the first half of the first month of the season — at least — said threat should be back for the first half of the first game.

Cardinal head coach David Shaw said Tuesday that Ty Montgomery has been medically cleared by team doctors and will play in the opener against UC-Davis.  Not only that, but the wide receiver was cleared with no limitations and is expected to start against the FCS team.

Montgomery underwent offseason shoulder surgery and missed spring practice.  It was initially feared that he would miss both the opener as well as the USC game, with the speculation being his absence could stretch deeper into the month of September and possibly bleed on into October.

However, in late July, it was reported that Montgomery was ahead of schedule in his rehab.

“It’s what he’s been waiting for, it’s what he’s been training for,” Shaw said. “He’s just attacked the rehab in such a way that it’s gotten him back a little earlier than we anticipated, and he’s ready to go.”

Having Montgomery from the get-go, even if it’s against a cupcake opponent, is significant.

Montgomery was easily the Cardinal’s top pass-catcher in 2013, leading the team with 61 catches for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns.  The next closest was Devon Cajuste‘s 28-642-5.

For good measure, Montgomery was third in the nation in kick return average (30.3) and was one of just seven players to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown (New Mexico’s Carlos Wiggins returned three for scores).

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George O’Leary again refutes retirement report

Central Florida v Louisville

Earlier this month, FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, about as reliable as it gets when it comes to college football news, reported that George O’Leary was giving strong consideration to stepping down as UCF’s head coach this season, perhaps as soon as immediately after the Knights’ opener against Penn State in Ireland Saturday.

The 68-year-old O’Leary immediately and vehemently denied the report, saying “I don’t have any idea what that’s about.”

With the opener just three days away, O’Leary again addressed the speculation.  And again refuted it.

From the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi:

“You know me better than that. As good or bad as it gets, I’m going to finish what I started.”

“If you know my history, I’m not one to start something and not finish it,” O’Leary said then. “Unless somebody knows something I don’t, I don’t plan on (stepping down after the Penn State game). I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know who the sources are (for the Fox story) and I don’t really care. The only source I worry about is my source – me! I have every intention of coaching 13 games this year.”

O’Leary’s boss’s boss also forcefully refuted the report.  Well, at least the after-one-game aspect of the report.

“Coach O’Leary would never quit after one game in a season,” UCF president John Hitt told the Sentinel. “Whoever wrote that doesn’t know George O’Leary. George will retire when he retires. We hope his health stays great. He’s often said when he has two straight days when he goes to work and doesn’t have fun then he’ll retire. We think and hope it will be a good, long while before that happens.”

O’Leary has been at UCF since 2004, the first year which produced the worst season in the football program’s history: 0-11.  Since then, however, the Knights have won 10-plus games four times, the only times that’s happened in school history.

There have been rumors that Brent Key, promoted to assistant head coach earlier this offseason, is essentially the head-coach-in-waiting, with the offensive line coach set to take over the program when O’Leary hangs up his coaching whistle.

Whether that’s this weekend, after this season or a couple/few years down the road remains to be seen.

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Reports: A ‘Josh Shaw’ named in police report at time of USC CB’s heroics

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC Getty Images

A tale of heroics has quickly devolved into something bizarre — and potentially very sad.

According to both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, a police report names a “Josh Shaw” in connection to a possible break-in at an apartment just a few miles from USC’s campus at some point between 10 an 11 p.m. PDT Saturday night.  That’s around the same time that a USC cornerback, also named Josh Shaw, was reportedly in the process of saving a seven-year-old nephew from drowning by jumping from a second-floor balcony, sustaining a pair of high-ankle sprains in the process.

That claim, however, has subsequently come under intense scrutiny.

From the Times:

At 10 p.m. Saturday night, officers went to the Orsini Apartments on North Figueroa Street to check on a report of a woman’s screams from a third-floor unit, police said. No one answered the door, so the officers forced entry. No one was inside.

A neighbor reported seeing a man run across or scale a balcony, and gave a general description of the individual.

Later, as officers interviewed a woman resident of the complex, they told her what the one witness had seen. She responded, “Sounds like my boyfriend, Josh Shaw,” according to Lt. Andrew Neiman, an LAPD spokesman. The woman also told the officers Shaw was at dinner with friends, Neiman said.

A man at the front desk of the Orsini Apartments on Tuesday afternoon said Shaw was not a registered resident. The LAPD did not identify the woman in the incident report.

Witnesses described seeing “a ‘black male with dreadlocks’ leaving via a balcony,” the Register wrote. It has not been determined that USC’s Shaw, who is black and has dreadlocks, is the Shaw wanted for questioning in connection to the incident.

“No one has been arrested or named as a suspect,” a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told the Register. “Mr. Shaw’s name was listed in the report as the victim’s boyfriend only. This is an ongoing investigation.”

Shaw’s sister confirmed to USA Today Tuesday that Shaw had saved her son, the player’s nephew, but that she was not actually at the event the heroics were alleged to have happened.  USC is currently in the process of vetting Shaw’s claims.

“He came to us with what occurred Saturday night, and I have no reason, no history to not believe Josh and his story,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I think it’s important to know your team. I think it’s important to know your players.

“Josh Shaw has been a good leader for us; he’s given me no reason not to believe him. But you need to know.”

Regardless of how it happened, Shaw, a team captain, will be sidelined for a significant period of time because of the injuries to both ankles, which will have a significant impact on the Trojans’ defense on the field. And that’s not even mentioning the off-field distraction and/or circus that will come to town when he does return.

 

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Gamecocks’ leading tackler won’t start in opener vs. A&M

North Carolina v South Carolina

Mike Davis will be there for the opener, but one of South Carolina’s top players on the other side of the ball won’t be.  At least, not at the start.

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward confirmed Skai Moore will not start the opener against Texas A&M Thursday night.  Why?  It appears the coaching staff is looking to send a message to the linebacker and, by extension, the entire team.

“He’ll play. He’ll play early,” the coordinator said. “Just got to make sure he does what he’s supposed to do when you ask him to do something.”

With the sophomore Moore sidelined, fellow sophomore Jonathan Walton will get the starting nod against the Aggies.

Last season as a true freshman, Moore led the team in both tackles (56) and interceptions (four). For that, he was named by the coaches as a first-team Freshman All-SEC performer.

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Outland Trophy candidate won’t start at center for Beavers

Oregon State v Washington State

One of college football’s finest centers won’t be on the field during the first weekend of play when the Oregon State Beavers host the Portland State Vikings .

Junior Isaac Seumalo, who was named to the Outland Trophy watch list, is still recovering from a broken foot he suffered during the Hawaii Bowl against the Boise State Broncos. Junior Josh Mitchell will start in Seumalo’s place, according to the Oregonian.

Oregon’s offensive line as a whole was in upheaval until recent weeks. Junior Gavin Andrews was moved from right to left tackle a little over two weeks ago. Sophomore Sean Harlow will start at right tackle.

“(It’s) pretty good, considering there’s been some juggling and movement and some late injuries that forced us into some decisions about where to put people,” Beavers coach Mike Riley told the Oregonian‘s Gina Mizell. “I think it’s still a group that will be good and has a chance to get better.”

A return date for Seumalo wasn’t provided. The Beavers play the Hawaii Warriors Sept. 6, and Seumalo could return to the field where he was originally injured. The coaching staff may even look at the schedule and realize it doesn’t need Seumalo in the lineup until the third game of the season. The Beavers enjoy an early bye week and then host the San Diego Aztecs Sept. 20.

Once Seumalo returns, he may not be reinserted at center. Riley has expressed an interest in Seumalo playing right guard this season. Mitchell’s play through first game or two will dictate exactly where Riley can eventually play his best offensive lineman.

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