Washington closes Sarkisian era with a bowl win over BYU in Fight Hunger Bowl

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The Huskies closed the book on the Steve Sarkisian era with a bowl victory, but it was interim head coach Marques Tuiasosopo who will go down in the books getting credit for the win. Sarkisian left the program to accept a job with USC, leaving the Huskies before the bowl game. Bishop Sankey rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns to earn Fight Hunger Bowl MVP honors as the Huskies pulled away for a 31-16 victory over BYU.

Washington’s running back fueled the offensive coring but the Huskies also had John Ross return a kickoff 100-yards after BYU tied the game in the first half and Keith Price, despite being banged up at times, added 123 passing yards and a touchdown. The Huskies defense also came through with a big stop deep in their own territory following a Price interception to set up BYU. Robertson Daniel picked off an errant throw by Price and returned it to the Washington 29-yard line with the Huskies leading 28-16 in the third quarter.BYU could do nothing with the opportunity as Washington forced a tree-and-out, highlighted by a critical sack by Cody Hoffman, which set up a 44-yard field goal attempt by Justin Sorensen. Sorensen kicked three of his four field goal attempts successfully, but his miss following the three-and-out seemed to change the momentum of the game. BYU was shutout in the second half while Washington tacked on ten more points for the victory.

Now all eyes are set on what happens next for Washington. Former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is now in complete control of the football program and the future looks very bright for the Huskies with him at the helm. Given the talent on the team Petersen will be inheriting and the facilities and resources available the optimism is high for Washington to start feeding off of the success of the last few seasons under Sarkisian and build more of a legitimate Pac 12 North contender under Petersen. Oregon’s and Stanford’s place at the top of the division may be threatened by Washington if Petersen can build the kind of winning program he was able to do at Boise State.

Washington will open the Petersen era with a favorable schedule in 2014. The Huskies open the year at Hawaii and three straight home games in non-conference play against Eastern Washington, Illinois and Georgia State. A 4-0 start should absolutely be expected out of the gate. The Huskies will also get Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA at home but must travel to Oregon in Pac 12 play.

As for BYU, the schedule will be a little easier in 2014 after a challenging 2013 season. The 2014 season will include a trip to Texas in week two, which will be quite a revenge game for the Longhorns after getting tanked in Provo this season. The schedule also includes road games at UCF and Boise State. The Cougars should be able to pull together another winning season with what will be in front of them in 2014, and the formula will remain familiar with a heavy dose of the running game and a strong defense.

Report: LSU to add former RB Kevin Faulk to staff if SEC gives the green light

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Former LSU running back Kevin Faulk could be set to return to the Tigers program in a new role if the SEC will allow it. According to a report from The Advocate, Faulk is being lined up to join the LSU football support staff, but his addition must be thoroughly vetted first.

Because Faulk is a high school coach, LSU and the SEC must be certain he has no direct ties to any LSU football players on the roster. This is to ensure the staff change complies with a new NCAA rule prohibiting schools from hiring high school coaches for a two-year period when any player from that associated high school enrolls at the university. As long as there are no players on LSU’s roster with any ties to Faulk’s high school coaching within the past two years, the staff change should become official.

Having Faulk associated with the program would be good to see considering how much Faulk meant to LSU during his college career. Faulk rushed for a school-record 4,557 yards and 46 rushing touchdowns. Both are records that stand today despite some extremely talented running backs over the years. Since Faulk’s final season at LSU in 1998, Leonard Fournette has come the closest to Faulk’s career rushing total with 3,830 yards in three years. Fournette is also the closest to Faulk since Faulk played to the school record for career rushing touchdowns, with 40.

Supposing the staff addition does go through, Faulk will not be involved with any off-campus recruiting efforts or on-field coaching assignments, but he will assist with player development.

Florida bill seeks to allow UCF national championship license plates

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You’re not truly a fan of a team that has won a national championship until you can brandish the honor on the license plate to your car. In Florida, that may become a reality soon enough for UCF fans as the ongoing claim to a national championship continues to sweep through the state.

A new bill in the state of Florida introduced to the state legislature would allow for the creation and printing of Florida license plates in UCF colors and a UCF logo with the words “National Champions” inscribed across the bottom.

There is a lot of legal wording in the house bill, as one should expect, but the bill essentially boils down to be able to purchase a UCF national championship license plate. You can find those details on page seven of the 23-page bill.

UCF has already staked a claim at being the national champion for the 2017 college football season after completing the nation’s only undefeated season and beating an Auburn team that defeated both College Football Playoff national championship game participants, Georgia and Alabama. The Knights have since been honored with a championship parade in Disney World.

Illinois QB Jeff George Jr. moving on as graduate transfer

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Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr., the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff George, has announced he will look for an opportunity to play football elsewhere in 2018. In a statement shared on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, George said he will leave Illinois with a degree in hand, allowing him to pursue a transfer possibility as a graduate transfer.

Thank you to Coach [Lovie Smith] and the entire staff for helping me develop over the past couple years,” George said in his statement on Twitter. “With that being said, after discussions with Coach Smith as well as my family, it would be in my best interest to pursue my athletic career with 2 years of eligibility left at a school that will best utilize the abilities I have to offer.”

George played in seven games for the Illini in 2017 with 1,273 passing yards and seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The only other quarterbacks on the roster to attempt a pass last season were junior Chayce Crouch (who played quarterback in seven games and had 443 passing yards with one touchdown and four interceptions Cam Thomas, a redshirt freshman in 2017. Illinois also has two other freshmen on the roster — Charlie Reinkemeyer and Connor Kelly –  that should make for an interesting quarterback situation this spring.

As a graduate transfer, George will be eligible to play in the fall at any FBS program that welcomes him to their program.

Report: Nick Saban ‘really pushing’ for Hugh Freeze, but SEC might be reluctant to sign off

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Normally what Nick Saban wants Nick Saban gets.  In this case, the head coach may have his work cut out for him.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that disgraced former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was a visitor to Alabama’s football building.  With the Crimson Tide searching for another offensive coordinator, speculation focused on Freeze as a potential candidate for the opening; others thought an in-house promotion was more likely and that Freeze could assume another role with the program.

According to the latest from the Tuscaloosa NewsAaron Suttles, “Saban is really pushing for Freeze to be an on-the-field coach,” whether it be as coordinator or, perhaps, working with quarterbacks or another positional group.  One problem, per the News, is that some within the program are pushing against such an addition, although, again, if Saban really wants Freeze as an on-field addition he’d get it regardless of who was pushing back.  Another issue, though, could be his conference.

From Suttles’ report:

Another aspect to this is that should Alabama decided to hire Freeze as an on-the-field coach, it would likely need the blessing of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. Sankey isn’t keen on that happening, The Tuscaloosa News has learned.

The league office’s pause in one of its members giving Freeze his first post-scandal second chance is certainly understandable.

Freeze “resigned” from Ole Miss after it was discovered he was using a school-issued cell phone to hook up with escort services on multiple occasions. Additionally, there were the Rebels’ NCAA issues while Freeze was in charge that left the coach with a two-game suspension to serve; that suspension would not have to be served if Freeze is a coordinator or position coach.  The one-year show-cause Freeze was slapped with, which would impact him on the recruiting trail as a head coach, would not be in effect if he served in a non-head coach capacity.

If the SEC would indeed have an issue with the Freeze hire — and if they actually have a say in the matter — it remains to be seen how far down the Freeze road Saban is willing to travel.