No, Sooner Nation, you will not be allowed to bask in the glow of the stunning upset of Alabama without a coaching cloud hanging overhead.
During Oklahoma’s 45-31 Sugar Bowl win over the Tide, St. Louis Rams sideline reporter and ESPN Radio personality Tony Softli tweeted that “Bob Stoops may have the inside track on the Cleveland Browns opening.” Prior to becoming a member of the media, Softli served in NFL front offices with the Rams as well as the Carolina Panthers.
Standing alone, Softli’s tweet wouldn’t normally merit much attention. However, it comes on the heels of a report from NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport earlier in the week which stated Stoops “has expressed some interest in joining the NFL” and that the OU coach should be added to “the list of college coaches that could be candidates for NFL coaching jobs.”
The 53-year-old Stoops, who was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, and maintains strong family ties to the area, has never coached in the NFL, spending all 31 years of his coaching career at the collegiate level. During previous coach searches by the Cleveland Browns — and there have been myriad over the past decade and a half — Stoops has been mentioned as a possibility but the rumored interest never materialized into anything noteworthy.
Stoops’ agent, for what it’s worth, is Neil Cornrich, who is based in, of all places, Cleveland, Ohio.
In July of last year, OU announced it had reached an agreement on a new contract with Stoops that could technically keep him in Norman through the 2020 season. Stoops earned just under $4.8 million in 2013, making him the fifth-highest paid college coach according to USA Today‘s database. Any buyout language contained in Stoops’ contract would not be an issue for any NFL club looking to pry him away from the college game if he were so inclined.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the Browns are “very interested” in Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin as their new head coach. Late last year, the Browns interviewed Syracuse’s Doug Marrone, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Oregon’s Chip Kelly for their vacancy before settling on Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after just one year late last month.
The curious case of Francis Bernard has taken yet another twist.
In mid-August, it was announced that Francis Bernard, a 12-game starter at linebacker for BYU in 2016, would miss the entire 2017 season because of unspecified “personal reasons.” Very early Saturday morning, Bernard (pictured, No. 13) was arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without a valid license and failing to register his vehicle/having an expired registration.
With him during the traffic stop was teammate Marvin Hifo, who was cited for having an open container.
Monday, Kalani Sitake was asked about the situation. In addressing it, the head coach revealed that both players had previously left the team in the last couple of weeks — Bernard withdrew from school and requested a release from his scholarship, while Hifo, a senior defensive back, decided to simply quit.
Notably, Sitake seemingly indicated that, as of at least a couple of weeks ago, he was leaving the door open for a potential Bernard return at some point in the future.
“[Bernard] was looking at all of his options, and one of them was possibly returning here with a release in hand,” the coach said according to the Deseret News. “I wish him the best in finding what is the best place for him and I care about him.”
Bernard was third on the Cougars last season in tackles. Should he continue playing football at the collegiate level, he would presumably be a fourth-year junior in 2018.
Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s something. Regardless, it’s something that bears watching.
Losers of two in a row and off to a 3-3 start to the season, Florida has underperformed and underwhelmed to say the least. So much so, in fact, that head coach Jim McElwain indicated Monday that he, his family, his coaching staff and players have been subjected to death threats by unknown individuals.
The head coach went into no detail publicly regarding the nature of the threats. Apparently, it was the same privately when discussing the situation with his employer.
Again, it could be in the same neighborhood as naked shark humping — nothing. Bears watching, though, as one very outspoken member of the Florida media is very much already doing publicly about a situation that was apparently reported to the media before it was reported to the police or even the university.
Pat Tillman is essentially the Knute Rockne of Arizona State football, the central figure that will be as important to the program 100 years from now as he is today. And while Notre Dame will wear Rockne-themed uniforms later this season, so, too, will Arizona State.
The program revealed Tillman-centric uniforms on Monday for their Nov. 4 game with Colorado, based on the uniform Tillman wore as a member of the U.S. Army while fighting in Afghanistan.
Tillman played linebacker at Arizona State from 1994-97 (he was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior) and then spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before the events of 9/11 inspired him to join the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Army Rangers before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, at age 27.
Arizona State unveiled a Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium at its season-opening win over New Mexico State.
“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said at the unveiling. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”
Florida has lost two in a row and is off to a 3-3 start, and that streak will probably reach three on Saturday after the Gators meet No. 3 Georgia. While everyone knows SEC fans are passionate about their football, some have taken Florida’s struggles too far.
How far? By threatening to kill the players and coaches.
“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are,” head coach Jim McElwain said, via Only Gators. “There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there. And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”
In my experience, it seems people lodging death threats are far more serious about the threat part than the, uh, other. But that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never received one.