Special teams were the key to North Carolina’s 39-17 victory over Cincinnati in the 2013 Belk Bowl on Saturday.
Ryan Switzer — the game’s MVP — returned his NCAA-record-tying fifth punt return for a touchdown and T.J. Logan took back a kickoff 78 yards for a score as the Tar Heels surged to a 29-3 lead then survived a special teams mistake of their own to notch their first bowl win since 2010.
UNC finishes the season at 7-6, while Cincinnati closes out at 9-4.
The game turned in favor of the Tar Heels during a key first quarter sequence. With UNC up, 7-0, punter Tommy Hibbard nailed a 59-yard punt that pinned the Bearcats at their own six. Three plays later, Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay was sacked by Brandon Ellerbee and Kareem Martin for a safety to make the score, 9-0. The Bearcats free-kicked back to the Tar Heels and that’s when Logan weaved his way to a 78-yard kickoff return. Suddenly, it was 16-0 and the Bearcats were stunned.
UNC opened its lead to 36-10 before Cincinnati regained its composure. Receiver Shaq Washington moved over to quarterback and promptly ripped off a 52-yard run. Two plays later, he was in the end zone after a nifty 10-yard scamper and the score was 36-17 with the fourth quarter barely underway.
Things got more interesting when Leviticus Payne recovered a fumble by T.J. Thorpe on the ensuing kickoff. The Bearcats had a first and goal at the UNC five yard line with plenty of time left. Would UNC choke this one away?
Not this time. The Tar Heels held when Kay’s fourth-down pass fell off the hands of Washington in the corner of the end zone.
It was a flat performance by the Bearcats, who came into the game as winners of six of their last seven. UC will try to regroup next year, most likely with touted Notre Dame transfer Gunner Kiel taking over at quarterback.
North Carolina finished up the season on a hot note, winning six of its last seven games (the one loss was by two points to Duke). A 1-5 start prevented this talented team from reaching its potential, but Larry Fedora has to be happy with how things worked out in the end, winning his first bowl game as the Tar Heels head coach.
Yes, two Utes. Happy? Feel better?
Back in February, Delshawn McClellon announced on Instagram that he had decided to transfer out of the Utah football program. Fast-forward two months and another player from the same positional group has taken to social media to announce a change, with Monte Seabrook confirming on his personal Twitter account that he too is transferring from the Utes.
It’s believed Seabrook’s decision was triggered by a desire for a better opportunity at playing time.
Seabrook began his career with the Utes as a defensive back before moving on to running back and ultimately settling in as a receiver. After playing in eight games as a true freshman, Seabrook didn’t see the field at all in 2015.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s coaching staff is helping Seabrook find a new program with which to continue his career.
Oregon, for better or worse, has become (in)famous for its vast collection of futuristic uniforms and the various combinations that annoy the living hell out of purists and dammit what have I told you kids about my lawn.
Instead of the standard look ahead, however, the Ducks are giving a nod to the past this weekend.
Oregon will take the field this afternoon for their annual spring game, and the players will do so with uniforms that pay homage to the 1916 version of the Ducks. That team went on to appear in the football program’s first Rose Bowl game at the end of that season and are certainly deserving of this type of nod.
I could take or leave the Nike-fied duds — the school’s original color scheme I’d begrudgingly acknowledge I like if I allow my inner fashion designer to grab the keyboard — but I could really get behind the sub-nickname “Webfoots” gaining traction and wider usage.
Myriad off-field issues have dogged Art Briles‘ Baylor program of late, but at least the Bears head coach can take comfort in the fact that he’s very well compensated.
As Baylor is a private university, they are not forced to release coaching salaries, although those details are available via federal tax returns. The last known salary for Briles was $3.6 million for the 2013 calendar year; according to the tax returns for 2014 obtained by USA Today, Briles salary for that calendar year jumped to more than $5.3 million.
When all of Briles’ compensation is taken into account, he earned just a shade over $5.9 million for 2014.
In the USA Today coaching salary database for 2015, Briles would’ve been the highest-paid coach in the Big 12, ahead of Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops ($5.4 million). He also would’ve been the third-highest paid head coach in all of college football, trailing only Alabama’s Nick Saban ($7.087 million) and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7.004 million) in total compensation. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, at $5.86 million, sits in that No. 3 spot.
Per the tax returns obtained by the website, Briles earned $540,000 in bonuses and incentives; how those were broken down wasn’t detailed in the returns. Briles received another $28,000 in retirement and other deferred compensation, as well as $5,000 in apparel from Nike.
As for the lag in the numbers for Briles and why the 2015 financials are not available, USA Today explains it thusly:
Because private schools are organized as non-profit organizations, they must annually file a tax return that includes information about the pay of their most highly compensated employees. Although the returns mostly cover fiscal years that involve parts of two calendar years, the IRS requires that the compensation reporting cover the most recently completed calendar year.
Due to the complexity of their returns, large colleges and universities routinely take filing extensions that result in a significant time lag between the period covered by their most recent return and the date they file.
Baylor’s new return covers a tax year from June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2015, making 2014 the most recently completed calendar year.
Ohio State had a banner first day of the 2016 NFL draft with five Buckeyes selected, although they fell one short of tying the 2004 Miami Hurricanes for most first-round picks in a single year. A day later, they first matched then set a couple of draft standards.
In Friday’s second round, two more Buckeyes were drafted — wide receiver Michael Thomas and safety Vonn Bell. That pushed OSU’s total to seven, tying USC in 2008 and Tennessee in 2000 for the most selections through the first two rounds since the common era began in 1967.
In the ensuing round, defensive lineman Adolphus Washington and quarterback-turned wide receiver Braxton Miller were selected. With the nine draft picks through three rounds, OSU broke the common-era draft record of eight set by the 2004 Vols. OSU wasn’t finished as, shortly after Miller’s selection, tight end Nick Vannett was grabbed toward the end of the third round, giving Urban Meyer‘s program an even 10 draft picks thus far.
On opening night, three Buckeyes were scooped up in the first 10 picks — defensive end Joey Bosa, running back Ezekiel Elliott, cornerback Eli Apple — while offensive lineman Taylor Decker and linebacker Darron Lee were selected before the opening round ended.
With four rounds remaining, and six unselected players still available, the Buckeyes might not be done making history as they are within shouting distance of the all-time record for most selections since the draft went to seven rounds in 1994. The record? 14. The record holder? The 2004 Ohio State Buckeyes, which had seven players taken in the first three rounds.
And, before Bevo commences bloviating, it should be noted that Texas holds the all-time record with 17 picks in the 1984 draft. That year, the draft lasted 12 rounds.